The struggle of the Russian people against external invasions in the XIII century.

Mongol-Tatar invasion
At the beginning of the XIII century. in the steppes of Central Asia, a single military-feudal power of the Mongols was formed. The Mongolian tribes were engaged in cattle breeding, and in the north, in the taiga regions, and hunting.
In 1206, at the congress of the Mongol nobility, Noyon Temuchin was proclaimed the Great Khan (Genghis Khan). He led his fellow tribesmen in the fight against the strong tribe of Tatars, who were patronized by the then rulers of China.
Having defeated the Tatars, the army of Genghis Khan subjugated all the neighboring nomadic tribes.
The Mongol-Tatar state is a strong military organization based on the strictest discipline. The entire army of the Mongol-Tatars was divided into tens, hundreds and thousands. Ten thousand warriors made up a tumen (in the historical sources of Russia – “darkness”) – a kind of independent army. For violation of discipline, cowardice in battle, a dozen were executed, ten – a hundred, etc.

Well-established intelligence worked for the army of the Mongol-Tatars. Information about the enemies was delivered by merchants, ambassadors and prisoners.
Genghis Khan’s closest assistants were prominent generals such as Subedei-Bagatur, Jebe-Noyon, Tohuchar-Noyon and others.

By 1211, the troops of Genghis Khan captured the lands of the Buryats, Yakuts, Yenisei Kirghiz and Uyghurs. The Mongol-Tatars waged a bloody war in Northwest China. In 1215, the city of Yangjing (Beijing) fell under their blows. After the invasion of China, the army of Genghis Khan adopted Chinese military equipment – wall-beating machines, stone-throwing and flame-throwing guns.
In the summer of 1219, Genghis Khan began the conquest of Central Asia. The 200,000-strong army of the Mongol-Tatars defeated and burned the rich cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Urgench, Merv.
In 1222-1223. The hordes of Genghis Khan invaded Transcaucasia. Two Mongol tumens under the command of Jebenoyon and Subedei-Bagatur passed through Iran and the Caucasus with victories, fires and massacres.

Historians’ point of view

“The successes of the Mongols sometimes seem simply amazing. By the middle of the 13th century, this people, with a total number of no more than two million people, managed to conquer China with its 50 million population, create the largest state in world history, stretching from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean.”

(Borisov N.S. “For the Russian land”)

According to a number of historians, the main reason for such successes was not only the strength of the Mongol Tatars, but also the weakness of their opponents, who were going through a period of feudal fragmentation. (See, for example, Bushuev S.V., Mironov G.E. “History of the Russian State”, M., 1991).
Note! When historians say “Mongol Tatars”, “Tatar-Mongols”, simply “Mongols” or “Tatars”, this name does not mean any specific people, but arose in the beginning. 13th century association of dozens of nomadic tribes.
Having devastated the country of the Alans (ancestors of the Ossetians), the Mongols defeated the Polovtsians (Kipchaks) by deceit and in the spring of 1223 reached the banks of the Don. The Polovtsian Khan Kotyan crossed the Dnieper and began to seek protection from his son-in-law, the Galician prince Mstislav Mstislavich.
The Russian princes, having consulted, decided to help the Polovtsy and meet the Tatars “in a foreign land” – in the Polovtsian steppes. Ten Tatar ambassadors came to the Russian princes and offered peace (“be friends with us” ).
“The Tale of the Battle of the Kalka” – names the participants in the campaign:
Grand Duke Mstislav Romanovich of Kyiv
Mstislav Svyatoslavovich Kozelsky
Mstislav Mstislavovich Galitsky,
with them were the younger princes.
The united Russian-Polovtsian army met with the main Mongol forces on May 31, 1223 (remember this date!) Not far from the river. Kalki.
The success at the beginning of the battle of the Galician-Volyn squads of Mstislav the Udaly and the young Daniel of Volyn was not supported by other princes. Prince Mstislav Romanovich, who was at enmity with Mstislav the Udaly, fortified with his regiment on a hill, away from the battle, and for two days watched the defeat of Russian squads from there. For Russian squads and Polovtsy, the outcome of this battle was tragic. Only a tenth of the Russian soldiers returned to Russia from the banks of the Kalka.
The main reason for the defeat of the Russians was the lack of a unified command among the princes. We should not forget about the skillful actions of the Mongol commander Subedei-Bagatur, who chose a battlefield favorable for himself and lured the Russians into this trap.

After the victory at Kalka, the Mongol-Tatars did not continue, however, the campaign to the north. They moved east against the Volga Bulgaria. Having not achieved success there, Jebe and Subedei returned to Asia.
The huge empire created by Genghis Khan fell apart after his death in 1227. The conquered lands were divided among the descendants of Genghis Khan.
In 1235, at a kurultai (congress) of the Mongolian nobility, a decision was made to march west. It was headed by the grandson of Genghis Khan Batu Khan. The ulus (lot) of Batu with the center on Yaik (Ural River) included everything from Yaik to the north-west and to the west:
kingdoms of Eastern Europe.
Batu was given the troops of all the Mongol uluses.
In 1236 the Volga Bulgaria was defeated. In the winter of 1237, the Mongols invaded the territory of North-Eastern Russia.
The first victim of the invasion was the Ryazan principality. The famous Russian historian S.M. Soloviev writes:
“They appeared … from the side of Ryazan, and sent to the Ryazan princes to demand tithes from everything, from princes and ordinary people and from horses. The Ryazan princes answered:“ If none of us remains in the world, then everything will be yours. ”Then Tatars surrounded Ryazan, took and burned the whole; they killed the prince and princess; men, women, children were cut with swords, others were shot with arrows, others were thrown into the fire.
After the capture of Ryazan, the Mongols moved towards Kolomna. The battle was very fierce. This is confirmed by the words of the chronicler:
“… the slaughter was great” (Laurentian Chronicle). During the battle for Kolomna, Khan Kulkan (Kulkan), the last son of Genghis Khan, was killed. But the victory was again on the side of the Mongol-Tatars.
As the troops of Batu-Subedei advanced towards the Vladimir land, the resistance of the Russians grew. According to legend, “one of the nobles of Ryazan named Evpatiy Kolovrat” gathered a detachment of 1700 voluntary avengers. And already within the limits of the “land of Suzdal” Evpaty with a “small squad” overtook the destroyers of the Ryazan land. Subedey was forced to throw large forces against the detachment in order to encircle him and destroy him.
From Kolomna, Batu went up the Moscow River and took Moscow. Moscow was defended by a “small army” led by the young prince Vladimir, the son of Yuri Vsevolodovich, and the governor Philip Nyanok. After the capture of Moscow, the governor was killed, and the prince was captured.
On February 3, 1238, the Mongol-Tatars besieged Vladimir. On the eve of the siege, Grand Duke Yuri left for the Sit River, where he was waiting for his brothers. The city was defended by a few squads of his sons Vsevolod and Mstislav, the governor Peter Oslyadakovich was left with them. The Laurentian Chronicle tells about the terrible massacre of the Vladimirites, the death of the family of the Grand Duke in the Assumption Cathedral.
During the assault on Vladimir, the Mongols used siege towers, wall-beating and throwing machines. On February 7, the invaders broke into the city through breaches in the fortress wall and set it on fire.
Grand Duke Yuri tried to stop the Tatar aggression, but in the battle on the Sit River on March 4, 1238 (remember the date!) He was defeated and fell in battle.

Historians’ points of view

VV Kargalov believes that the battle on the Sit River weakened the army of the invaders. This helped the inhabitants of Torzhok “selflessly withstand a two-week siege.” I.B. Grekov and F.F. Shakhmagonov call the battles near the pit and in the City the grossest tactical mistakes of Prince Yuri. According to researchers, the only effective way to fight Batu was in the defense of cities, during the assaults of which the forces of the invaders melted. “And here is the first lesson that his (Batu’s) plan to defeat all the Russian forces in the open field did not take place. Torzhok, without giving warriors to Yuri Vsevolodovich, lasted two weeks.”

(Grekov I.B., Shakhmagonov F.F. The world of history: Russian lands in the XIII-XV centuries., M., 1986)

After the capture of Torzhok, the Mongol-Tatars moved towards Novgorod by the Seliger route. Before reaching 100 versts, they turned south and went to Kozelsk.
S.M. Soloviev explained the withdrawal of the Mongols and the salvation of Novgorod by the impending thaw. A number of modern researchers (I.B. Grekov, F.F. Shakhmagonov, I.A. Zaichkin, I.N. Pochkaev and others) believe that the heroic resistance of Russia to the invaders was the reason for Batu’s withdrawal.
Turning from Novgorod, Batu’s troops went south with a wide front of small detachments. Going from north to south, the Mongols “combed” the Russian cities. Smolensk managed to fight back. Kozelsk defended heroically. The Mongols stormed it for seven weeks (49 days). The Mongol-Tatars called Kozelsk an “evil city”. Moore, Gorokhovets, Nizhny Novgorod were defeated.
In 1239, hordes of the Mongols invaded the lands of Southern Russia. They took and burned Pereyaslavl-South. On October 12, the Tatars besieged Chernigov, and on October 18 the city was taken. After the defeat of Chernigov, Mengu Khan approached Kyiv. He did not dare to take the city by storm, because. the city was well fortified.
In the autumn of 1240, the Mongol-Tatars resumed their invasion of Russia. The main forces, led by Batu himself, approached Kyiv in November 1240.

Document. An excerpt from the Ipatiev Chronicle.

“… Tsar Batu came to the city of Kyiv with many soldiers and surrounded the city. And it was impossible to hear each other in the city from the creak of carts, the roar of camels, from the sound of trumpets … Many vices * beat (on the walls) incessantly, day and night, and the townspeople fought hard, and there were many dead … the Tatars broke through the city walls and entered the city, and the townspeople rushed to meet them. and the Tatars took the city of Kyiv in the month of December on the 6th day … “.

December 6, 1240 Kyiv fell. “The military voivode Dimitry (the head of the defense of Kiev – L.P.) Batu did not order to be killed for his courage.”

(See Solovyov)

The invaders plundered Sofia and all other monasteries. The survivors of Kiev were killed, regardless of their age.
Soon the Mongol-Tatars took Vladimir-Volynsky. It took 4 months to defeat South Russia. Two fortresses – Hill and Kremenets Tatars could not take.
From Galich, Batu moved to Hungary. The Mongol-Tatars won several victories in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and in 1242 reached Croatia and Dolmatia. But at the end of 1242 they suffered a series of setbacks in Bohemia and Hungary. Batu turned his troops back to the east.
Fatigue from a long campaign, the intensification of the struggle for power around the throne of the Great Khan, the ongoing resistance of the devastated, but completely unconquered Russian lands, forced the Mongol-Tatars to stop their further campaign in Europe.

A.S. Pushkin wrote: “… the barbarians did not dare to leave enslaved Russia in their rear and returned to the steppes of their east. The emerging enlightenment was saved by a torn and dying Russia.”

Consequences of the invasion

Historians’ points of view

The majority of pre-revolutionary and modern domestic researchers believe that the Mongol conquest led to a long economic, political and cultural decline of the Russian lands. But there are other points of view.
LN Gumilyov in his essay in the Neva magazine (No. 3, 4; 1988) argued that “the few (?) Batu Mongol warriors only passed (!) Through Russia and returned to the steppe.”
The views of L.N. Gumilyov on the Mongol-Tatar invasion and the yoke in the book “Ancient Russia and the Great Steppe”, M., 1989 (there was neither the ruin of Russia by the Tumens of Batu, nor the yoke) go far beyond traditional ideas.

How the Mongols “passed” through Russia can be judged by the figures given in the book by N.I. Pavlenko, V.B. Kobrin, V.A. Fedorov “The History of the USSR from Ancient Times to 1861.” (M, 1989). “According to the calculations of archaeologists, of the 74 cities of Russia of the XN-XIII centuries known from excavations, 49 were devastated by Batu, and in 14 life did not resume, and 15 turned into villages.”
V.B. Kobrin in his book “Power and Property in Medieval Russia” writes: “In many villages hidden in impenetrable forests, the enemy cavalry could not visit. what to rob. And the townspeople defended them together with the warriors. They were the first to die.”
We can distinguish the following consequences of the Mongol-Tatar invasion for Russia, referring to the monograph by V.V. Kargalov “The overthrow of the Mongol-Tatar yoke” (M, 1973).

1. Destruction of cities. A city like Ryazan ceased to exist at all in its old place. In our time, on the site of the once flourishing city, there is an ancient settlement overgrown with shrubs. Modern Ryazan is the ancient town of Pereyaslavl-Ryazansky (founded in the 11th century).

2. The disappearance of entire craft specialties (for example, glassmaking). The reason for the decline of crafts is the withdrawal of many Russian craftsmen to the Horde, their death during the storming of cities by the Mongols.

3. The burning of many villages and villages, and as a result – the desolation of arable land, the reduction of sown areas.

4. Violation of traditional trade routes, combined with the ruin of cities, led to a sharp reduction in foreign trade, led to the foreign economic isolation of Russia. . “Then the very fact of foreign conquest, the need to bow to an alien authority or to bend and cunning before it, could not but have a harmful effect on the moral character of the Russian people.”


The Russian lands were forced to recognize their vassal dependence on the descendants of Genghis Khan. The Grand Prince of Vladimir, as well as the Metropolitan, were approved by special letters (labels). A heavy burden on the people was the khan’s tribute (at first it was collected in kind, and then in “silver”, i.e. money). To collect tribute, the Mongol-Tatars introduced the institutions of the Baskaks (officials who collect it). The Mongols granted privileges to the church in order to attract it to a number of their allies.

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