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Ryzhenko Pavel Viktorovich  Kulikovo field. 2005  Oil on canvas   150x230 cm  Private collection
Goback 16 / 39 Forward

Title: Kulikovo field
Description:

 

 Ryzhenko Pavel Viktorovich
Kulikovo field. 2005
Oil on canvas 
150x230 cm
Private collection


 

 

Kulikovo Field (Russian: , or Kulikovo Pole; lit. "snipes' field") is a field in Tula Oblast in Russia, where the famous Battle of Kulikovo took place on September 8 of 1380.

As established by Stepan Nechayev,[citation needed] the battlefield is located between the rivers of Nepryadva, Krasivaya Mecha, and Don some 140 km away from Tula and 23 km away from the Kulikovo Pole railway station. Today, Kulikovo Field is home to a museum complex, which includes a 28-meter column on Red Hill ( ), built in 1848-1850, and a memorial church in honor of Sergius of Radonezh (built in 1913-1918 to a design by Alexey Shchusev), which is now the Kulikovo Field Museum.

There is a stone church in the nearby settlement of Monastyrshchino (), where, according to a legend, the fallen Russian soldiers were interred after the battle. No burials have been found so far, which poses a puzzle for scholars who estimate that the battle claimed up to 200,000 lives on both sides.

 

The Battle of Kulikovo (Russian: , , , ) was a battle between Tatar Mamai and Muscovy Dmitriy and portrayed by the Russian historiography as a stand-off between Russians and Golden Horde. However the political situation at time was much more complicated and concerned the politics of the Northeastern Rus. The battle took place on September 8, 1380 at the Kulikovo Field near the Don River (now Tula Oblast) and resulted in a victory of Dmitri Donskoi. The battle's site is commemorated by a memorial church built from a design by Aleksey Shchusev.

 Background

Upon the Mongol-Tatar conquest the territories of disintegrating Kievan Rus became part of the western region of the Mongol Empire, the Golden Horde, center of which was established in the lower Volga region. The numerous Russian (or Ruthenian) principalities were not however fully integrated into the Empire, but required to pay a tax. During that time a small regional principality of Moscow has grown into well respected political entity and often challenging its neighbors for territorial claims, particularly, the Grand Duchy of Ryazan. The Moscow - Ryazan stand off took place long before the Mongol-Tatar conquest, during the rise of regional powers within the Kievan Rus.

The civil war has ensued on the territory of the falling Golden Horde and the new political powers were appearing such as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Grand Duchy of Ryazan, and others. In 1370 after a mysterious death of Khan Abdulla the Tatar warlord (temnik) Mamai took power in the Golden Horde as a regent over the immature Khan Muhammad Bolak. The growing Grand Duchy of Lithuania was gaining a momentum taking over former territories of the Golden Horde and after the Battle of Blue Waters securing power not only over Kiev, but also parts of the norther Black Sea coast. As Mamai was not a Genghisid, his position remained vulnerable as there were legal descendants of Genghis Khan who were in a position to lay claim to the throne. During that time the Prince of Moscow was refused to be passed a jarliq for the Grand Duchy of Vladimir, which he possessed since 1362. In 1371 Mamai passed it to the Prince of Tver. The prince of Moscow, Dmitri Donskoi, refused to accept subordination to the new leadership. In 1377 friend of Mamai Arpash raided Nizhniy Novgorod and Ryazan after defeating the Suzdal-Moscow united army of Dmitri at the Battle on Pyana River. Mamai sought to affirm his sovereignty over the tributary lands of the Golden Horde. In 1378 he sent forces led by warlord Murza Begich to enforce the Moscow Prince's obedience. But the Horde army was defeated at the battle of the Vozha River and Begich was killed. Simultaneously another khan Tokhtamysh (in Middle Asia) challenged the throne of the Golden Horde in 1378. Although unsuccessful at first, he managed to find more solid support to establish himself as the new khan of the Golden Horde.

Two years later Mamai himself led his armies to Rus. Prior to invading, he conducted negotiations with Prince Jogaila of Lithuania and Russian prince Oleg of Ryazan, a fierce enemy of Dmitry. The armies of Lithuania and Ryazan were sent to join the Tatars. Mamai set his camp on the shore of Don, waiting for allies.

Dmitry mobilised his troops and allies in Kolomna to resist the invasion. In Troitse-Sergieva Lavra he met St. Sergius of Radonezh, who blessed the Russian armies before the battle. Dmitri knew about the approaching armies of Lithuania and Ryazan, and decided not to wait but to attack Mamai immediately, before he could be reinforced. On September 7, 1380, the Russians crossed the Don.
 

Forces

Combined Russian armies under the command of the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Dmitri Ivanovich of Moscow (called "Dmitry of the Don", in Russian "Donskoy", afterwards) faced a much larger Tatar force under the command of Mamai, a strongman of the Golden Horde. Mamai's allies, Grand Prince Oleg of Ryazan and Grand Prince Jogaila of Lithuania were late to the battle. The old Russian poem Zadonshchina lists 150,000 Russians and 300,000 Tartaro-Mongols, but the actual size of the Kulikovo Field would not allow such a quantity of troops. Most likely the figures were closer to 60,000 Russians, including seven thousand rebel Lithuanians, and 125,000 Tatars.

The battle

On the morning of September 8, a thick fog covered the Kulikovo Field. The fog cleared around 11 A.M, at which point both armies began simultaneously advancing on each other.

The battle was opened by a single combat of two champions. The Russian champion was Alexander Peresvet, a monk from the Trinity Abbey sent to the battle by Saint Sergius. The Horde champion was Temir-murza (also Chelubey or Cheli-bey). The champions killed each other in the first run, though, according to Russian sources, Peresvet did not fall from the saddle, while Temir-murza fell.

Dmitry exd his armor with young Moscow boyarin Mikhail Brenok, pretending to be an ordinary knight. Brenok was to imitate the Prince himself, bearing his banner and wearing his armor. The trick was successful: Tatars aimed to Dmitry's banner, and ultimately killed Mikhail Brenok, believing he was the Prince. Dmitry himself survived, although wounded while fighting, and immediately after the battle fainted from bleeding and exhaustion.

After approximately three hours of battle (from noon to 3 p.m.) the Russian forces were successful, although suffering great casualties, in holding off the Horde's attack. The cavalry of Vladimir, Prince of Serpukhov (Dmitri's cousin), led by Dmitri Bobrok, Prince of Volynia launched a flanking surprise counter strike and achieved victory over the Horde forces. Mamai escaped to Crimea, where he was assassinated by his enemies, leaving the Horde under the command of Tokhtamysh.


Legacy

This victory was the early signal of the end of the "Mongol yoke" (vassalage), which officially ended with the great standing on the Ugra river a century later. Its spiritual importance for the unification of the Russian lands was even more important. As Nikolay Karamzin said, the Russians went to the Kulikovo Field as citizens of various principalities and returned as a united Russian nation.

A minor planet 2869 Nepryadva discovered in 1980 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh was named to honor the Russian victory over Tataro-Mongols in the battle at Kulikovo near Nepryadva River on September 8, 1380.
 

Perspectives

The historical evaluation of the battle has many views of what the event represented in the course of history.
The traditionally Russian point of view sees the battle as the first step in liberation of the Russian lands from the Golden Horde dependency.
Some analysts of the Eastern Orthodox approach portray the battle as a stand off between the Christian Rus and a steppe non-Christians.
The Russian historian Sergey Solovyov saw the battle as critical for the history of the Eastern Europe in stopping another invasion from the Asia, similar to the Battle of Châlons of the 5th century and the Battle of Tours of the 8th century in the Western Europe.
Some critical analysts have an opinion that the meaning of the battle is over evaluated and does not represent nothing more of a simple regional conflict within the Golden Horde.
Another Russian historian Lev Gumilev sees in Mamai a representative of economic and political interests from outside, particularly, the Western Europe which in the battle were represented by the numerous Genoese mercenaries, while the Moscow army stood in support of the rightful ruler of the Golden Horde Tuqtamış xan.
 

 

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Ryzhenko Pavel Viktorovich  The mystery of the king. Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich. 2005  Oil on canvas   210x140 cm  Private collectionRyzhenko Pavel Viktorovich  Kulikovo field. 2005  Oil on canvas   150x230 cm  Private collectionRyzhenko Pavel Viktorovich  Triptych
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