Who was the Russian monarch responsible for expelling the Mongols from Russia?

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By Kristy Tolley

Russia under Mongol rule

For over 200 years, from the early 13th century until the late 15th century, the Mongols ruled over Russia. Known as the Golden Horde, they imposed their authority through a system of tribute and taxation, and maintained control over the Russian princes by pitting them against each other. While the Mongol domination had a profound impact on Russia’s political and cultural development, it also sparked a deep sense of resentment and longing for liberation among the Russian people. This article will explore the life and legacy of the Russian monarch who played a pivotal role in expelling the Mongols from Russia.

Early life of the Russian monarch in question

Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible, is one of the most notorious figures in Russian history. However, he is not the monarch responsible for expelling the Mongols from Russia. The honor belongs to Dmitry Donskoy, who was born in 1350 as the son of the Grand Prince Ivan II of Moscow. Dmitry’s early life was marked by the constant threat of Mongol raids and the struggle for power among the Russian princes. He was raised to be a warrior and a leader, and his courage and charisma soon earned him the respect and admiration of his subjects.

Accession to the throne

In 1362, at the age of 12, Dmitry became the Grand Prince of Moscow, succeeding his father who had died in battle against the Mongols. The new prince faced a daunting challenge: how to unite the warring principalities of Russia and challenge the Mongol hegemony. Dmitry understood that he needed to build alliances with other princes and with the Orthodox Church, which had a strong influence over the Russian people. He also knew that he had to demonstrate his military prowess and strategic acumen if he wanted to be taken seriously as a leader.

Relations with the Golden Horde

Dmitry’s first years as a ruler were marked by a delicate balancing act between cooperation and defiance towards the Mongols. He paid tribute to the Golden Horde and sent his envoys to the Khan, but also tried to assert his independence by making alliances with other princes and by fortifying his cities. In 1378, the Khan demanded that Dmitry come to Sarai (the capital of the Golden Horde) and pay tribute in person. Dmitry refused, and instead sent a letter to the Khan, stating that he was willing to pay tribute, but only to a Khan who had proven his military might in battle.

The beginning of the liberation struggle

Dmitry’s refusal to obey the Khan marked the beginning of a new phase in Russian history. It was clear that the only way to shake off the Mongol yoke was through military means. Dmitry began to prepare for a war of liberation, recruiting soldiers and building alliances. In 1380, he led a coalition of Russian princes against the Mongol army, which was camped near the river Don. The battle of Kulikovo, as it came to be known, was a turning point in Russian history.

The pivotal moment of the battle of Kulikovo

The battle of Kulikovo was fought on September 8, 1380. The Russian army, led by Dmitry, faced a much larger Mongol force, commanded by Khan Mamai. The battle was fierce and bloody, with both sides suffering heavy losses. At one point, it seemed that the Mongols would win the day, but Dmitry rallied his troops and launched a decisive attack on the Mongol center. The battle ended with a Russian victory, but at a great cost.

Aftermath of the battle

The victory at Kulikovo was a major psychological and political triumph for Russia, but it did not immediately lead to the expulsion of the Mongols. The Golden Horde remained a formidable power, and continued to demand tribute from the Russian princes. However, Dmitry’s victory had boosted his prestige and that of Moscow, and made him the de facto leader of the Russian princes. He used his newfound authority to consolidate his power and to continue the struggle against the Mongols.

The legacy of the Russian monarch

Dmitry Donskoy is remembered as one of the greatest heroes of Russian history. His victory at Kulikovo was a symbol of Russian resilience and determination in the face of adversity. It paved the way for the eventual liberation of Russia from Mongol rule, and helped to establish Moscow as the center of Russian power. Dmitry’s legacy also includes his efforts to build a strong centralized state, to promote the Orthodox Church, and to support cultural and artistic development.

Historical controversies surrounding the figure

While Dmitry Donskoy is celebrated as a national hero, his legacy has also been the subject of controversy and debate. Some historians have criticized him for his willingness to cooperate with the Mongols, and for his alleged involvement in the of his rival Prince Mikhail of Tver. Others have questioned the authenticity of the accounts of the battle of Kulikovo, and have argued that its significance has been exaggerated.

How the expulsion of the Mongols shaped Russia’s future

The expulsion of the Mongols from Russia marked a crucial turning point in Russian history. It freed Russia from the Mongol domination, and allowed it to develop its own distinctive political, social, and cultural identity. The liberation struggle also helped to strengthen the power of Moscow, which would eventually become the capital of the Russian Empire. The victory at Kulikovo was a source of inspiration for future generations of Russians, and helped to forge a sense of national pride and unity.

Conclusion: the lasting impact of the Russian monarch’s actions

Dmitry Donskoy’s courage, leadership, and strategic vision played a decisive role in freeing Russia from Mongol rule. His victory at Kulikovo was a pivotal moment in Russian history, and his legacy continues to inspire Russians today. While his reign was not without controversy and criticism, Dmitry remains an important figure in the pantheon of Russian heroes. His actions helped to shape Russia’s future, and his name is forever linked to the struggle for freedom and independence.

Further reading and sources

  • Dixon, S. (2016). The Russian Revolution: A New History. Basic Books.
  • Martin, J. (2018). Medieval Russia, 980-1584. Cambridge University Press.
  • Perrie, M. (2002). The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 1, From Early Rus’ to 1689. Cambridge University Press.
  • Vernadsky, G. (1973). The Mongols and Russia. Yale University Press.
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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