Kulikovskaya Battle (The Battle of Kulikovo) – 1380

Kulikovskaya Battle (The Battle of Kulikovo) – 1380

Кулико́вская би́тва (Мамаево или Донское побоище)

Kulikovskaya battle (or The Battle of Kulikovo) is one of the most important events in a history of Russia. If I wanted to make a short presentation with information about Russian history, I precisely would allocate the victory at Kulikovskaya battle as one of the most important achievements of Russian people. In this to article I will describe, why The Battle of Kulikovo became a turning-point of Russian medieval history.

Background and Historical value

Kulikovskaya battle has occurred on September 8th, 1380, on territory of Kulikovo Field (between the rivers of Don and Nepryadva) around 250 km from Moscow. In the battle participated Russian princes (knyazya) from different cities (Moscow, Ryazan, Vladimir, Novgorod, Tver, Yaroslavl and others) against the Mongol-Tatar army led by Khan Mamai. During the period of 150 years (since 1237) before Kulikovskaya battle, Mongol-Tatar armies ruined Russian cities and collected a tribute from Russian lands. The refusal of prince of Moscow Dmitry (which subsequently began to be called as Dmitry Donskoy) to pay a tribute to Mongol Empire became an occasion to The Battle of Kulikovo. A result of this battle began a new period of Russian history – the beginning of the end of the Mongol-Tatar yoke (vassalage) and Russia’s rebirth.

The Battle

The prince of Moscow (Grand Duke) Dmitry managed the association of numerous of Russian armies. He gathered princes from all cities of Northeast Russia, convincing them to reject the pressure of Mongol-Tatar yoke, by uniting all Slavic forces. As a result, Dmitry has gathered from 5 to 10 thousand of warriors (mainly a cavalry) at one Russian army. The number of the Mongol-Tatar army under the command of Khan Mamai was also from 5 to 10 thousand people.

Dmitry has chosen a place for forthcoming battle by himself. To use a water boundary for protection, Russian armies have passed to southern coast of Don and destroyed the bridges behind them. The Moscow regiments have been located in the center, other regiments have been placed on the right and left flanks, and in an oak grove upwards across Don have been put an ambush regiment.

The Morning the September 8th 1380 was foggy. Till 11 a.m. while the fog has not dissipated, armies stood ready to fight, kept in contact by the sounds of pipes. At 12 a.m. Mongol-Tatar army arrived  on a Kulikovo field.

From each side there were chosen the best warrior for duel – from Russian side there was Alexander Peresvet (a very strong monk which was sent to the battle by Saint Sergius of Radonezh), from Mongol-Tatar was a champion Temir-murza (named Chelubey or Cheli-bey). They were riding on horses and killed each other in the first run. Russian historians wrote that Temir-murza has fallen from the saddle, while Peresvet hasn’t.

Then Kulikovskaya battle has begun. Mongol-Tatar attacked on the center and the left flank. The fight in the center was long and bloody. Eyewitnesses specified, that horses could not go on corpses any more as there was no pure place. Dmitry Donskoy at first was at the command center, but then decided to participate in the battle, having exchanged clothes and a horse with Moscow boyar Michael Brenk who then was killed under a banner of the Grand Duke.

Mongol-Tatar has broken through the left flank and began to bypass Russian army from the river Nepryadva. But when Mongol-Tatar has broken to the river, Russian ambush regiment has ordered to enter fight. The blow of a cavalry from an ambush from back on the basic forces of Mongol-Tatar changed the course of Kulikovskaya Battle. The Tatar cavalry has been tired out in the river and killed. Tatars have mixed up and have left. Khan Mamai ran from the battlefield. Mongol-Tatar army did not have reserves to try to affect an outcome of the battle or at least to cover the deviation, therefore the whole army has run.

Grand duke Dmitry, participated in the battle has been contused and brought down from a horse, but was able to reach the wood where has been found after the battle under the cut down birch in an unconsciousness. Historians informed about the destruction of 8/9 of the whole armies of Khan Mamai. Russian army lost in total about 60 % of all command structure and from 1/3 to 2/3 of warriors.


Outcome of battle and the further development of history

The victory at Kulikovskaya Battle became the critical moment for Russian history. Though this victory did not manage to fixed the full defeat of Golden Horde, it was a serious blow to its military and political domination. The victory on a Kulikovo field has assigned to Moscow the value of the organizer and the ideological center of reunion of the East Slavic lands, having shown, that their state-political unity around Moscow was the only way to their clearing of foreign domination. Moscow became the center of the united Russia and remains this center today.

The people rejoiced to a victory and have named their Grand Duke – Dmitry Donskoy. Subsequently, in honor of a victory in The Battle of Kulikovo were created a number of collection’s stamps, cards and souvenirs. One of such stamps is presented on a picture.

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Oleg Vinzhegin,

Your personal guide into the world of excellent Russian speaking


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