In the XIV century, Russian princedoms continued to live under the yoke of the Golden Horde. There was no single political center in the country that could lead the struggle against the Mongols. This role fell to the Moscow Principality. His rulers managed to win in the rivalry of Tver.
Consolidation around Moscow
It was Moscow that led the gathering of tribute for the Golden Horde. In 1374, after Mamai supported the Tver prince in the struggle for the Vladimir throne, Dmitry Donskoy refused to pay him gold collected from the population. Later, the conflict went into open war.
Russian armies plundered the Tatars in the Middle Volga. In 1377 they were defeated on the river Pyan. Moscow troops responded in a few months. On the Vozha River, they managed to defeat the musician Begich. However, these battles were only rehearsals of the forthcoming battle.
Collecting troops and building it
In August 1380, Dmitry Donskoy organized the collection of all Russian troops. Under his leadership, the armies and other principalities spoke. Basically it was Suzdal and Smolentsy. Also came a small regiment from Tver, which was headed by the nephew of the prince there. There are still disputes over whether the Novgorodians managed to join.
Anyway, but Donskoy managed to collect under his banners up to 70 thousand soldiers. The army was divided into three parts. The largest regiment in the center was led by Dmitry himself. On the right stood Yaroslavl, led by Vladimir Andreevich - Serpukhov prince and cousin of Don. Left was led by the Bryansk ruler Gleb. This was a powerful blow when the battle began on the Kulikovo field in 1380.
On the way to the lands of the Mongols the Moscow army visited Sergius of Radonezh. The founder of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra was known throughout the country. He blessed the army and gave Dmitry two warriors, who had been monks before that - Oslyablyu and Peresvet.
Mamai believed that the Russian army would not dare to cross the Oka, but would take a defensive position, as it had done in previous battles. However, Dmitri wanted to strike first, not to allow the Tatars to connect with the allies. This step was extremely risky - behind all the reserves and resources left. In case of defeat, the army could completely perish, never having reached home.
While the Russian regiments marched to the Don, they were joined by Lithuanian detachments. They were led by the sons of Olgerd - Dmitry and Andrew. Under their banner were the inhabitants of Pskov, Polotsk, etc. After the arrival of reinforcements it was decided that Vladimir Andreevich would lead the regiment in ambush, Andrei Olgerdovich would lead the soldiers to the right of Donskoy.
Mamai was preparing to fight in difficult conditions. In the Golden Horde, the internecine war continued . Mamai was threatened by Tokhtamysh, who could attack the enemy directly from behind the Volga.
Course of battle
When the Russian troops crossed the Don, they deliberately burned all the bridges. This was done so that Mamaia could not get to his allies from among other Lithuanian princes, as well as from the Ryazan people. September 7 the army finally took its position, waiting for the enemy. Vladimir Andreevich, along with Dmitry Bobrok-Volynsky was sent to the oak, where he had to strike with fresh forces at the most crucial moment. All evening and night Donskoi went round the troops and checked their condition. Then the Tatars stumbled upon the first Russian scouts.
Dmitry wanted to participate directly in the battle in the number of ordinary soldiers. So he exchanged armor with one of his entourage. Tatars, not knowing about this trick, killed a man whom they took for a prince.
The battle on the Kulikovo field, a short story about which is present in a variety of literary sources, began on September 8. The troops were collected before noon, waiting for the order of the prince.
It is known that from the fight of Peresvet and Chelubey the battle began on the Kulikovo field. A short story, or rather, a retelling of this episode - and he gives the impression that to speak of the full text in the annals! It was an ancient custom when the two most powerful warriors - one from each of the opposing sides - fought tete-a-tete. Both horsemen died from the blows of the spears.
Then both armies rushed to meet each other. The main blow fell on the center and the left flank of the Russian squad. Part of the troops here was cut off from the bulk. The fighting began to retreat to Nepryadva, because of which there was a danger of a breakthrough of the rear. The battle on the Kulikovo field was hot . The Russian army was suffering serious losses, it seemed, is about to overpower the enemy ...
Attack of the bastard shelf
At this time in the groves of the nearby there was a dispute between Vladimir Serpukhovsky and Voevoda Bobrok. The prince wanted to hit the Tatars almost immediately after the start of the battle. However, the governor dissuaded, and the squad was waiting for a convenient moment, while the battle continued on the Kulikovo field. A short story about it, by the way, contains a literary work "Zadonshchina", written at the end of the XV century.
Finally the Tatar cavalry went to Nepryadva, catching up with the fleeing left regiment. It was at this moment that the soldiers in ambush struck the enemy. The cavalry did not manage to retreat in time and was literally swept into the river. At the same time, the offensive began under the direction of Donskoi.
All this time, Mamai followed the battle from afar, surrounded by his retinue. After the ambush, he realized that they had lost the battle on Kulikovo Field. The short story of this episode can not convey the situation prevailing at the site of the battle. Shouts, screams, indiscriminate retreat of the Tatars who fled in panic ...
End of battle
The fugitives overtook about 50 versts. Only one-tenth of the enemy's troops were saved. Persecution was led by Vladimir Serpukhovsky. Dmitry Donskoy was shell-shocked, and his comrades-in-arms could not find him among a multitude of corpses. Finally he was found under a felled birch. He was knocked out of the saddle, and the prince managed to crawl to the forest. When he came to himself, the winners began to congratulate him with tears in their eyes.
The battle on the Kulikovo field in 1380 began, in the same year and ended. Survivors began to collect the wounded. The convoys stretched for several kilometers. The Lithuanian prince Jagiello, who did not manage to get to the rescue of Mamai, after learning about the victory of the Russians, retreated back home. However, some of its parts went to rob and kill the stragglers. The Ryazan prince also refused to join Mamai and declared himself "junior" in relation to the ruler of Moscow.
The battle on the Kulikovo field, the year of which became a festive occasion for Russia, led to Moscow finally establishing itself as a political leader. The Golden Horde entered a series of crises and internecine wars. Nevertheless, for another hundred years her khans claimed to demand tribute from Russia. Finally, the yoke was dropped under Ivan III, in 1480, after standing on the Ugra.
This status was confirmed by further historical events. About the battle on Kulikovo field people and songs were composed of people and legends. It became a symbol of the greatness of the country. In modern Russia September 21 (September 8, according to the old style) was recognized as the Day of Military Glory.