The Mongol Invasion and Rise of Moscow

The dramatic effect that the Mongol invasion (also referred to as Tartars) had on the entire region of Eastern Europe, resulted in the break down of the state of Kievan Rus, and also brought changes to the region, both positive and negative. The invasion by the Mongols brought devastation to the capital of Kiev, but also assisted in the rise of Moscow as an independent and flourishing city. Their presence divided the East Slavic people and began the re-establishment of Moscow, what was known as the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The Mongol invasion and the rise of Moscow is definitely a story that has remained close to the hearts of every Russian.

At the time of the first Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus, the state was under control of a group of princes who could not agree on anything. Their squabbles and wars between each other started to weaken the economy and defenses of Kievan Rus. They did, however, manage to unite with Mstislav the Bold and Mstislav Romanovich the Old to defend against the Mongols in 1223, but were defeated at the Battle of the Kalka River. Strangely enough, the Mongols did not completely invade Kievan Rus until fifteen years later, by which time the brothers still had not learnt their lesson, and were still fighting each other tooth and nail. In the year 1237, the Mongols returned and this time they burnt Muscovy (Moscow) to the ground and completely destroyed Kiev. Kiev would never recover from the devastation, but Moscow would grow to become a bustling city, complete with postal network system and fiscal system.

Even though Novgorod was not overrun by the Mongols, it had to pay tributes to the Mongols, along with the Princes. At the Volga River, a group of Mongols established the Golden Horde Mongols, and from here they ruled over the princes and what remained of Kievan Rus. The Grand Duchy of Moscow, later surpassed with names such as Tsardom of Russia, flourished under the rule of the Mongols, as did Novgorod. By 1380 a strong Russian army defeated the Golden Horde Mongols, but their dominance over the various regions and the princes lasted until approximately 1480.

The Princes and their descendants enjoyed a lot of freedom in regard to the ruling of their cities and regions, and could even count on the assistance of the Mongols to fight along side them against invaders and enemies. And from the outside, this arrangement would seem amicable, but it was the successors of Alexander Neysky, the prince who received protection and help in his battles against the Swedes and Teutonic Knights, who challenged the Mongols and stood up for their freedom. The Mongol invasion and the rise of Moscow definitely molded a brand new future for Russia, and although their presence can be seen as both good and bad, they played a significant role in the history of Russia, and will remain tied to them in this way, forever.


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