Unification of lands around Moscow: the beginning, the stages, the end - Story - 2020


The unification of lands around Moscow, which is crucial for the history of Russia, began in the early years of the 14th century, and ended at the turn of the 15th-16th centuries. During this period, the former feudal order was destroyed and a powerful centralized state emerged.

Center of the small principality

For a long time, Moscow was an imperceptible fortress on the Vladimir-Suzdal land in the north-east of Russia. This small town was not distinguished by wealth and political significance. His own prince appeared there in 1263. They became Daniel Alexandrovich - the scion of the famous Alexander Nevsky. As the youngest son of a prince, he received the poorest and finest lot.

Shortly before Russia survived the Tatar-Mongol invasion. Destroyed by the enemy army, the country paid tribute to the Golden Horde. Khan recognized the senior prince of the ruler of the city of Vladimir. All his relatives Rurikovich, who owned the inheritance, were to obey him. At the same time, the Vladimir throne was handed over to the label of Khan at his whim. Inheritance could not correspond to the typical principle of the medieval monarchy, when the son received father titles.

As a positive start, the unification of the lands around Moscow put an end to this confusion, but while the Moscow princes were weak and did not have serious resources, they had to balance between other influential rulers. Daniel supported the one or the other older brother (Dmitry or Andrey), who fought for the throne of Vladimir.

The first Moscow political successes occurred due to a lucky coincidence. In 1302, Ivan Dmitrievich, a childless nephew of Daniil, died, bearing the title of Prince of Pereyaslavl-Zalessky. So the small feudal lords for nothing received a neighboring city and retrained in the middle feudal lords. This was the beginning of the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow. However, Daniel never had time to get used to his new status. The first Moscow specific prince died in 1304.


Fight for Vladimir

Father's place was taken by Yury Daniilovich, who ruled in 1303-1325. First of all, he annexed the Mozhaisk principality, putting the owner of this tiny neighboring inheritance in a dungeon. So Moscow took several important steps in order to start a dispute with the largest political force in Northeast Russia - Tver. In 1305, her prince Mikhail received from Khan a label on the Vladimir throne.

It seemed that Moscow had no chance of defeating a richer and larger opponent. However, the dilemma was that during that period of Russian history, far from everything was solved by force of arms. The unification of the lands around Moscow took place thanks to the cunning and ability of its rulers to appeal to the Tatars.

Horde gave Vladimir princes, who had the opportunity to pay more. The financial position of Tver was noticeably better than that of Moscow. However, the khans were guided by another rule. It can be described as "divide and conquer." Strengthening one principality, the Tatars tried not to give him too much, and if the inheritance became too influential, the Baskaks mercy could be replaced by anger.

Moscow v. Tver

Having lost to Mikhail in 1305 in the diplomatic clinch, Yuri did not calm down. First, he started the internecine war, and then, when it did not lead to anything, he began to wait for an opportunity to strike at the reputation of the enemy. Such an opportunity made me wait a few years. In 1313, Khan Tokhta died, and his place was taken by Uzbek. Michael was supposed to go to the Horde and receive confirmation of the Grand Duke label. However, Yuri was ahead of him.

Having appeared at Uzbek before his opponent, the Moscow prince did everything to gain the trust and favor of the new khan. For this, Yuri married the sister of the Tatar ruler Konchak, who converted to Orthodoxy and received the name Agafya at baptism. Also, Michael’s main opponent managed to conclude an alliance with the Novgorod Republic. Its inhabitants were afraid of the powerful prince of Tver, whose possessions were on their borders.

Being married, Yuri went home. He was accompanied by Tatar nobleman Kavgady. Mikhail, taking advantage of the fact that the Horde forces had set up a separate camp, attacked his rival. The Moscow prince was again defeated and began to ask for peace. Opponents agreed to go to the Khan for a trial. At that moment, clouds began to thicken over Mikhail. Having won, he captured Konchak. Spouse Yuri and Uzbek's sister, who was in the camp of the Prince of Tver, died for unclear reasons.

Tragedy was the turning point of the conflict. Yury coolly took advantage of what had happened. He returned to Uzbek, putting Mikhail in his eyes as the executioner Konchaki. Kavgadiy, or bribed, or simply did not like Michael, also slandered him. Soon the prince of Tver arrived at the Khan's court. He was stripped and cruelly executed. The title of the ruler Vladimir passed to Yuri. The beginning of the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow ended, now the Moscow rulers needed to keep the received power in their hands.


Successes Kalita

In 1325, Yuri Daniilovich again arrived in the Horde, where he was hacked to death by the son of Mikhail of Tver, Dmitry Chernye Ochi, who had avenged his father’s death. The power in Moscow was inherited by the younger brother of the deceased Ivan Kalita. He was known for his ability to earn and keep money. Unlike his predecessor, the new ruler acted more cautiously and defeated his enemies with cunning rather than deceit.

After the death of Yuri, Uzbek, using a proven strategy, castling. He gave the main Russian principality to the new governors of Tver, Alexander Mikhailovich. It seemed that Ivan Daniilovich was left with nothing, but this impression of contemporaries turned out to be deceptive. The struggle with Tver has not ended, it was only its beginning. The unification of the lands around Moscow continued after another sharp turn of history.

In 1327, a spontaneous anti-Tatar uprising broke out in Tver. Residents of the city, tired of excessive extortion of strangers, killed the tribute collectors. Alexander did not organize this speech, but joined him and eventually led the protest of his subjects. Furious Uzbek instructed Kalita to punish disobedient. Tver land was ravaged. Ivan Daniilovich regained Vladimir, and since then Moscow princes, not counting very short breaks, have not lost sight of the formal capital of North-Eastern Russia.

Ivan Kalita, who ruled until 1340, also annexed such important neighboring cities as Uglich, Galich and Beloozero to his state (or rather, bought). Where did he get the money for all these acquisitions? Horde made the Moscow prince official tribute collector from all over Russia. Kalita began to control extensive financial flows. Wisely and prudently managing the treasury, he was able to build a system in which a significant part of the collected money settled in Moscow. His principality began to grow richer systematically against the background of all lagging behind in the financial well-being of neighboring regions. This is the most important causal link, according to which there was a gradual unification of the lands around Moscow. The sword gave way wallet. In 1325, another important event that entailed the unification of the lands around Moscow was the transfer to this city of metropolitans, who first considered Vladimir to be their residence.


New challenges

After Ivan Kalita, two of his sons, one after another, ruled: Simeon (1341 - 1353) and Ivan (1353 - 1359). During this almost twenty-year period, a part of the Novosilsky principality (Zabereg) and some Ryazan places (Vereya, Luzha, Borovsk) were annexed to the Grand Duchy. Simeon traveled five times to the Horde, tried to bow and please the Tatars, but at the same time he behaved imperiously in his homeland. For this, contemporaries (and historians after him) called him Proud. Under Simeon Ivanovich, the remaining petty princes of Northeast Rus became his "handlers." The main adversary, Tver, behaved cautiously and no longer challenged the Moscow rule.

Due to Simeon's good relations with the Horde, nomads did not disturb Russia with raids. However, then all the principalities, without exception, had to endure another attack. It was the deadly epidemic of the Black Death, which at the same time raged in the Old World. Ulcer came to Russia through Novgorod, where traditionally there were many western merchants. A terrible disease turned the usual life, stopped all the positive social and political processes, including the unification of land around Moscow. A brief acquaintance with the scale of trouble is enough to understand that it turned out to be worse than any Tatar-Mongol invasion. Cities died out half, many villages were empty until the last house. Simeon and his sons died of plague. That is why the throne was inherited by his younger brother.

Ivan, whose reign was completely colorless, was remembered in Russian history only by its beauty for which he was nicknamed Red. The only important event of that period can be considered the bestowal of Khan to the Moscow governor of the right to judge other appanage princes. Of course, the new order only accelerated the unification of the lands around Moscow. Ivan’s brief reign ended with his sudden death at the age of 31.

Two supports of Moscow

The heir to Ivan Red was his young son Dmitry, who in the future won the Tatar-Mongolian army on the Kulikovo field and immortalized his name. However, the first years of his nominal rule, the prince was at a very young age. This tried to take advantage of other Rurik, who were glad of the opportunity to either get independence, or get a label on Vladimir. In the last enterprise Dmitry Konstantinovich Suzdal succeeded. After the death of Ivan the Red, he went to the Khan's capital, Sarai, where he really received a label for reigning in Vladimir.

Moscow briefly lost the formal capital of Russia. However, situational circumstances could not reverse the trend. The prerequisites for the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow were different: social, economic, and political. When the principality grew and became a serious power, its rulers received two major pillars that did not allow the state to fall apart. These pillars were the aristocrats and the church.

Rich and safe when Kalita, Moscow attracted all new boyars to its service. The process of their exodus to the grand duchy was gradual, but uninterrupted. As a result, when juvenile Dmitriy was on the throne, the Boyar Council immediately formed around him, which made effective and useful decisions that made it possible to preserve the acquired stability with such difficulty.

The Orthodox Church helped the aristocrats. The reasons for the unification of land around Moscow were to support this city by metropolitans. In the years 1354-1378. he was Alexy (in the world of Eleutherius Biacont). During the period of early childhood of Dmitry Donskoy, the metropolitan was also the de facto head of the executive power in the Moscow principality. This energetic man initiated the construction of the Kremlin. Alexey also resolved conflicts with the Horde.


Acts of Dmitry Donskoy

All the stages of the unification of the lands around Moscow had certain features. At first, the princes had to act not so much by political as by intriguing methods. That was Yuri, so partly was Ivan Kalita. But they were the ones who managed to lay the foundation for the welfare of Moscow. When the actual reign of young Dmitry Donskoy began in 1367, thanks to his predecessors, he had all the resources to build a single Russian state with a sword and diplomacy.

How did Moscow principality grow in that period? In 1360, Dmitrov was annexed, in 1363 - Starodub on Klyazma and (finally) Vladimir, in 1368 - Rzhev. However, the key event of the then Russian history was the non-alignment of Moscow with Moscow, and the beginning of an open struggle against the Tatar-Mongol yoke. Centralization of power and its strengthening could not lead to such a turn of events.

The prerequisites for uniting the lands around Moscow were at least in the natural desire of the nation to live within one state. These aspirations (especially ordinary people) faced the feudal system. However, it was in the late Middle Ages that the end came. Similar processes of decomposition of the feudal system with some advance occurred in Western Europe, where their own nation-states were built up from a multitude of duchies and counties.

Now, when the process of uniting Russian lands around Moscow became irreversible, a new problem arose: what to do with the Horde yoke? Tribute hindered economic development and diminished national dignity. Of course, Dmitry Ivanovich, like many of his predecessors, dreamed of the full independence of his homeland. Having gained full power, he began to implement this plan.

After the Kulikov battle

The lengthy process of uniting the lands around Moscow could not be completed without the liberation of Russia from the Tatar-Mongol yoke. Don understood this and decided that it was time to act. The conflict broke out in the mid-1370s. The Moscow prince refused to pay tribute to Baskak. Golden Horde armed. At the head of the Basurmanian army stood temnik Mamai. Collected the shelves and Dmitry Donskoy. He was assisted by many appanage princes. The war with the Tatars was an all-Russian affair. The only white prince turned out to be the prince of Ryazan, but the Don Cossack army managed without his help.

On September 21, 1380, a battle took place on the Kulikovo Field, which became one of the main military events in all of our national history. Tatars were crushed. Two years later, the horde returned and even burned Moscow. Nevertheless, the open struggle for independence has begun. It lasted exactly 100 years.


Donskoy died in 1389. At the last stage of his reign, he joined the Grand Duchy of Meshchersky krai, Medyn and Ustyuzhna. The son of Dmitry Basil I, who ruled in 1389-1425. finished the absorption of the Nizhny Novgorod principality. Also with him, the unification of the Moscow lands around Moscow was marked by the annexation of Murom and Tarusa through the purchase of the Khan label. Prince military force deprived the Novgorod Republic of Vologda. As a lot from Rostov, Moscow in 1397 went to Ustyug. Expansion to the north continued by joining Torzhok and Bezhetsk Top.

On the verge of decay

Under Vasily II (1425 - 1462), the Moscow principality survived the largest civil war in its history. The rights of the legal heir were encroached upon by his own uncle, Yuri Dmitrievich, who believed that power should not be transferred from father to son, but according to the long-standing principle “by right of seniority”. The internecine war slowed down the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow. Yuri's brief reign ended in his death. Then the sons of the deceased joined the struggle: Dmitry Shemyaka and Vasily Kosoy.

The war was particularly brutal. Vasily II was blinded, and later he himself ordered to poison Shemyaka. Because of the bloodshed, the result, which resulted in the previous stages of the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow, could sink into oblivion. However, in 1453, Vasily II the Dark finally defeated all his opponents. Even his own blindness did not disturb him. In recent years, his power to the Moscow principality were joined Vychegodskaya Perm, Romanov and some places in Vologda.


Accession of Novgorod and Tver

Most of all for the unification of the country of the Moscow princes made the son of Basil II, Ivan III (1462-1505). Many historians consider him the first all-Russian ruler. When Ivan Vasilyevich came to power, the largest of his neighbors was the Novgorod Republic. Its inhabitants for a long time supported the Moscow princes. However, in the second half of the 15th century, the aristocratic circles of Novgorod shifted to Lithuania, which was considered the main counterweight to the grand duke. And this opinion was not baseless.

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania owned the territory of modern Belarus and Ukraine. This state belonged to Kiev, Polotsk, Vitebsk, Smolensk and other important Russian cities. When Ivan III felt the danger in the union of Novgorod and Lithuania, he declared war on the republic. In 1478 the conflict was settled. Novgorod land entirely joined the Moscow state.

Then followed the turn of the principality of Tver. The times when it could compete with Moscow on an equal footing are long gone. The last Prince of Tver, Mikhail Borisovich, as well as the Novgorodians, attempted to form an alliance with Lithuania, after which Ivan III stripped him of his power and annexed Tver to his country. This happened in 1485.

The reasons for the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow were also in the fact that at the final stage of this process, Russia finally got rid of the Tatar-Mongol yoke. In 1480, Khan Akhmat was the last to try to make the Moscow prince to submit and pay him tribute. Full war did not work. Moscow and Tatar troops stood on different banks of the River Ugra, but did not clash in battle. Akhmat left, and soon the Golden Horde broke up into several uluses.


In addition to Novgorod and Tver, Ivan III annexed Yaroslavl, Vazhskaya, Vyatka and Perm lands, Vyazma and Ugra to the Grand Duchy. After the Russo-Lithuanian War 1500 - 1503 Bryansk, Toropets, Pochep, Starodub, Chernihiv, Novgorod-Seversky and Putivl went to Moscow.

Formation of Russia

The successor of Ivan III on the throne was his son Vasily III (1505-1533). When it was the completion of the unification of land around Moscow. Vasily continued the work of his father, first of all, finally making Pskov a part of his state. Since the end of the 14th century, this republic had been in a vassal position from Moscow. In 1510, Basil deprived her of autonomy.

Then followed the turn of the last specific Russian principality. Ryazan has long been an independent southern neighbor of Moscow. In 1402, a union was concluded between the principalities, which in the middle of the 15th century was replaced by vassalitet. In 1521, Ryazan became the property of the Grand Duke. Like Ivan III, Vasily III did not forget about Lithuania, which belonged to many of the original Russian cities. As a result of two wars with this state, the prince annexed Smolensk, Velizh, Roslavl and Kursk to his state.

By the end of the first third of the 16th century, Moscow “gathered” all Russian lands, and thus a single national state was formed. This fact allowed the son of Vasily III, Ivan the Terrible to take the title of king by the Byzantine model. In 1547, he became not just the great prince of Moscow, but a Russian sovereign.

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