Mongol invasion of Rus
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|History of Ukraine|
|Early East Slavs|
|Grand Duchy of Lithuania|
|Ukraine after the Russian Revolution|
The Mongol Invasion of Rus' was heralded by the Battle of the Kalka River (1223) between Subutai's reconnaissance unit and the combined force of several princes of Rus'. After fifteen years of peace, it was followed by Batu Khan's full-scale invasion in 1237-40. The invasion, facilitated by the breakup of Kievan Rus' in the 12th century, had incalculable ramifications for the history of Eastern Europe, including the division of the East Slavic people into three separate nations<ref> Boris Rybakov. Киевская Русь и русские княжества XII-XIII вв. (Kievan Rus' and Russian princedoms in XII-XIII centuries) Moscow: Nauka, 1993. ISBN 5-02-009795-0 </ref> and the rise of the Principality of Moscow.
As it was undergoing fragmentation, Kievan Rus' faced the unexpected eruption of an irresistible foreign foe coming from the mysterious regions of the Far East. For our sins, says the Russian chronicler of the time, unknown nations arrived. No one knew their origin or whence they came, or what religion they practiced. That is known only to God, and perhaps to wise men learned in books.
The East Slavic princes first heard of them from the wild nomadic Polovtsians, who usually pillaged settlers on the frontier but who now preferred friendship and said: These terrible strangers have taken our country, and tomorrow they will take yours if you do not come and help us. In response to this call Mstislav the Bold and Mstislav Romanovich the Old formed a league and went out eastward to meet the foe, but they were utterly defeated in a great battle on the banks of the Kalka (1223), which has remained to this day in the memory of Russians and Ukrainians.
Now the country was at the mercy of the invaders but, instead of advancing, they suddenly retreated and did not reappear for thirteen years, during which the princes went on quarrelling and fighting as before, until they were startled by a new invasion much more formidable than its predecessor.
 Invasion of Batu Khan
|The Mongol Invasions|
|Central Asia – Georgia and Armenia – Kalka River – Volga Bulgaria – Ryazan – Vladimir-Suzdal – Sit River – Köse Dag – Legnica – Mohi – Baghdad – Ain Jalut – Korea – Japan (Bun'ei – Kōan) – Xiangyang – Ngasaunggyan – Yamen – Pagan – Syria – Kulikovo – Vorskla – Ugra River|
The vast Mongol hordes of some 150,000 mounted archers, commanded by Batu Khan and Subutai, crossed the Volga River and invaded Volga Bulgaria in the autumn of 1236. It took them a year to extinguish the resistance of the Volga Bulgarians, Kypchaks, and Alani.
In November 1237, Batu Khan sent his envoys to the court of Yuri II of Vladimir and demanded his submission. A month later, the hordes besieged Ryazan. After six days of the bloodiest battle, this capital was totally annihilated, never to be restored. Alarmed by the news, Yuri II sent his sons to detain the invaders, but they were soundly defeated. Having burnt down Kolomna and Moscow, the horde laid siege to Vladimir on February 4, 1238. Three days later, the capital of Vladimir-Suzdal was taken and burnt to the ground. The royal family perished in the fire, while the grand prince hastily retreated northward. Crossing the Volga, he mustered a new army, which was totally exterminated by the Mongols in the Battle of the Sit River on March 4.
Thereupon Batu Khan divided his army into smaller units, which ransacked fourteen cities of modern-day Russia: Rostov, Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Kashin, Ksnyatin, Gorodets, Galich, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Yuriev-Polsky, Dmitrov, Volokolamsk, Tver, and Torzhok. The most difficult to take was the small town of Kozelsk, whose boy-prince Titus and inhabitants resisted the Mongols for seven weeks. As the story goes, at the news of the Mongol approach, the whole town of Kitezh with all its inhabitants was submerged into a lake, where, as legend has it, it may be seen to this day. The only major cities to escape destruction were Novgorod and Pskov. Refugees from southern Rus' gravitated mostly to the northeast, in the forest region with poor soils between the northern Volga and Oka Rivers.
In the summer of 1238, Batu Khan devastated the Crimea and pacified Mordovia. In the winter of 1239, he sacked Chernigov and Pereyaslav. After many days of siege, the horde stormed Kiev in December 1239. Despite fierce resistance of Danylo of Halych, Batu Khan managed to take two of his principal cities, Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskyi. The Mongols then resolved to "reach the ultimate sea", where they could proceed no further, and invaded Hungary and Poland.
 The age of Tatar yoke
This time the invaders came to stay, and they built for themselves a capital, called Sarai, on the lower Volga. Here the commander of the Golden Horde, as the western section of the Mongol empire was called, fixed his golden headquarters and represented the majesty of his sovereign the grand khan who lived with the Great Horde in the Orkhon Valley of the Amur. Here they had their headquarters and held Russia in subjection for nearly three centuries.
The term by which this subjection is commonly designated, the Mongol or Tatar yoke, suggests ideas of terrible oppression, but in reality these nomadic invaders from Mongolia were not such cruel, oppressive taskmasters as is generally supposed. In the first place, they never settled in the country, and they had little direct dealing with the inhabitants. In accordance with the admonitions of Genghis to his children and grandchildren, they retained their pastoral mode of life, so that the subject races, agriculturists, and dwellers in towns, were not disturbed in their ordinary avocations.
In religious matters they were extremely tolerant. When they first appeared in Europe, they were Shamanists, and as such they had naturally no religious fanaticism; but even when they adopted Islam they remained as tolerant as before, and the khan of the Golden Horde, who first became a Muslim, allowed the Russians to found a Christian bishopric in his capital. Nogai Khan, half a century later, married a daughter of the Byzantine emperor, and gave his own daughter in marriage to a Russian prince, Theodor the Black. Some modern Russian historians (most notably, Lev Gumilev) even postulate there was no invasion at all. According to them, the Russian princes concluded a defensive alliance with the Horde in order to repel attacks of the fanatical Teutonic Knights, which posed a much greater threat to Russian religion and culture.
These represent the bright side of Tatar rule. It had its dark side also. So long as a great horde of nomads was encamped on the frontier the country was liable to be invaded by an overwhelming force of ruthless marauders. Fortunately, these invasions were not frequent but when they occurred they caused an incalculable amount of devastation and suffering. In the intervals the people had to pay a fixed tribute. At first it was collected in a rough-and-ready fashion by a swarm of Tatar tax-gatherers, but about 1259 it was regulated by a census of the population, and finally its collection was entrusted to the native princes, so that the people were no longer brought into direct contact with the Tatar officials.
The influence of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' was uneven. Centers such as Kiev never recovered from the devastation of the initial attack. The Novgorod Republic continued to prosper, however, and new entities, the cities of Moscow and Tver, began to flourish under the Mongols. Although the Russian army defeated the Golden Horde at Kulikovo in 1380, Mongol domination of the Russian-inhabited territories, along with demands of tribute from the Muscovite rulers, continued until the Great standing on the Ugra river in 1480.
Historians have debated the long-term influence of Mongol rule on East Slavic society. The Mongols have been blamed for the destruction of Kievan Rus', the breakup of the ancient East Slavic nationality into three components, and the introduction of the concept of "oriental despotism" into Russia. But some historians agree that Kievan Rus' was not a homogeneous political, cultural, or ethnic entity and that the Mongols merely accelerated fragmentation that had begun before the invasion. Historians also credit the Mongol regime with an important role in the development of Muscovy as a state. Under Mongol occupation, for example, Muscovy developed its postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization.
Certainly, it can be (and is) argued that without the Mongol destruction of Kievan Rus' that Moscow, and subsequently the Russian Empire, would not have risen. Further, the Mongol rule over the remains of Kiev and the surviving principalities such as Novgorod, forced those entities to look westward for allies and technology. Equally, trade routes with the East came through the Russias, making them a center for trade from both worlds. In short, the Mongol influence, while destructive in the extreme to their enemies, had a significant long term effect on the rise of modern Russia.
 Successors of the Golden Horde
 See also
- This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain.—Russia.
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Full Collection of Russian Annals, St. Petersburg, 1908 and Moscow, 2001, ISBN 5-94457-011-3.de:Mongolische Invasion in Russland es:Invasión mongola de Rusia it:Invasione mongola della Russia pt:Invasão Mongol da Rússia ro:Invazia mongolă în Rusia ru:Татаро-монгольское иго