About the Kulikovo battle has always been written very, very much. This epochal battle has always been at the center of attention of a number of Russian historians both in the past and in our days. So far, discussions about the very course of the battle, the alignment of the Russian and Golden Horde forces, and their numbers, have not abated. The only thing that all historians agree on is in the colossal significance of the Kulikovo battle for Russian and Eurasian history in general.
The history of the Kulikovo battle is full of interesting nuances. To begin with, Mamai, often called Khan in literature, has never really been Khan of the Golden Horde. At the time of the Battle of Kulikovo, this 45-year-old Mongol warlord held the post of the Golden Horde beklyaribek - head of the administration. This high position, which in some cases guaranteed the full control of the state behind the puppet khan, Mamai got through family ties. In 1357, the post of Khan of the Golden Horde was taken by Mohammed Berdibek - the eldest son of Khan Janibek. He immediately ordered the destruction of all Batuids, descendants of the Batu Khan clan, who could be his competitors in the struggle for power in the Golden Horde. So 12 killed the descendants of Batu, among whom even the 8-month-old boy, Berdibek's younger brother, was not spared. The new Khan, according to some sources, killed him personally.
In the same year 1357, the post of the backboneback of the Golden Horde was taken by Mamai, the former governor of the Crimea and the Black Sea region, who was married to the daughter of Berdibek. Mamai was not Chingizid and could not occupy the Golden Horde throne, but this did not mean that he had no complaints about the decisive role in the political life of the Golden Horde. Moreover, the history of the Eurasian Turkic states is full of examples of how formally the second persons in management were in fact the first. Under Berdibek, Mamai felt quite at ease, turning from the governor of the Crimean and Black Sea steppes into the "prime minister" of the whole Golden Horde.
However, in August, 1359, khan-fratricide killed as a result of a palace coup, a certain Kulla (Kulp), who declared himself the eldest son of Janibek and Batuid. Beklyarbek Mamai, a relative of Berdibek, did not recognize the impostor and began fighting against him. However, as early as January 1360, Kulpa was overthrown and killed by another impostor, Nauruz Khan. The horde began troubled times. Nauruz also managed to fix it for a short time - in May or June of the same year, he was killed by the commander Khizr, a representative of the Ord-Yezhen clan, the eldest son of Juchi and the brother of Batu Khan. However, Khizra was killed in August 1361 by his own son Timur-Khoja, who proclaimed himself the new Khan. All this time Mamai acted independently, and in August 1361 of the year brought Khan Abdullah to power - miraculously survived Batuid, saved by Mamai and sent to Crimea, and then to Byzantium. In 1361, Abdullah was proclaimed Khan of the western part of Ak-Orda, which was controlled by Mamai, and in 1367, after the capture of Mamaia’s capital of the Golden Horde, he was proclaimed Khan of the Golden Horde. After the death of Abdullah in 1370, Mamai brought his 10-year-old son Bulak to the khan's throne. Tulunbek-khanum, the wife of Mamai and the daughter of the late Khan Berdibek, was proclaimed to Regents. So Mamai was able to control the Golden Horde political life, while not occupying the Khan's throne.
In relations with Russia, Mamai behaved inconsistently - he supported Dmitry Moskovsky, then Mikhail Tversky. In the end, in 1374, Mamai finally fell out with the Moscow principality. Three years later, Mamai had an active enemy from the east - young Tokhtamysh, Chingizid and the legitimate claimant to the throne of the Golden Horde. Tohtamysh was supported in his aspirations by Tamerlane, who was powerful by that time. Several times Tokhtamysh invaded the borders of the Golden Horde and, in the end, in the spring of 1378, he entered the limits of the part of the Golden Horde controlled by Mamai. In April, 1380, under the control of Tokhtamysh, turned out to be huge spaces up to the Sea of Azov. Thus, the time for the actions of the Russian princes against Mamai was very appropriate. In the east of Mamaia, crowded the hordes of Tokhtamysh. Prince Dmitry responded to Mamai’s demand to increase the size of the tribute with a decisive refusal. Then Mamai agreed with the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello and Oleg Ryazansky about joint actions against the Moscow principality and began to prepare for the attack of the combined forces.
Given that a significant part of the Horde supported Tokhtamysh, Mamai had not so significant forces. He made very great efforts in order to gather against Moscow the largest possible army, appealing for help to the mercenaries. The Moscow chronicle of the end of the 15th century says that eight Horde princes and all Tatar and Polovtsian (Kypchak) troops marched to Russia, as well as mercenaries - Cherkasy, Armeny (Armenians), Burtases and Fryaz (as they used to call people of Russia from southern Europe). Apparently, the very same Genoese infantry that Mamai could hire through the Genoese trading posts in the Crimea belonged to the fryz. Together with Mamai, Polish-Lithuanian troops of Prince Yagailo Olgerdovich and the army of Ryazan Prince Oleg Ivanovich marched. The number of Horde troops is estimated by modern historians in numbers from 50-60 thousand to 100-150 thousand people. on the other hand, the point of view is also expressed that at that time both Mamai and the Russian princes could not have collected more than 5-6 thousand people.
On the Russian side, the troops were about the same in strength. These were the regiments of Moscow, as well as the allies of Dmitry of Moscow - the Lithuanian princes Andrei Olgerdovich and Dmitry Olgerdovich. The troops of the Lithuanian princes arrived from Polotsk, Starodubsky and Trubchevsky counties. A regiment of Vladimir Andreevich was formed in Kolomna, which became the regiment of the right hand, and then an ambush regiment. The left flank was the Yaroslavl regiment.
The famous battle began around the 12 hours of the day 8 September 1380 of the year with the later successful textbook of Chelubey and Peresvet. Briefly need to tell about these people. The monk of the Trinity-Sergius Monastery, Alexander Peresvet, before being a monk, was a boyar, from which he mastered military skills. He decided to take part in the battle together with another monk Andrei (Rodion) Oslyably. Opponent Peresvet was the famous Horde warrior of noble birth Chelubey, or Temir-Mirza. Of course, after centuries it is impossible to establish precisely whether a noble warrior with such a name really existed in the Golden Horde. Some historians are inclined to believe that Chelubei is still a fictional figure, but in the end it makes no difference what the horde who went to fight with the Russian bogatyr called. After the death of both participants in the fight, the sentry regiment under the command of Prince Dmitry of Moscow joined the battle. Then the Vladimir and Suzdal regiments launched a counterattack against the Horde who were pushed forward, and the result of the battle was determined by the attack of the ambush regiment. Beklyarbek Mamay in a panic fled from the battlefield, leaving his army. Nevertheless, despite the defeat of Mamai, the outcome of the battle was not encouraging for the Russian troops either. Up to a third of the Russian soldiers were killed, and then the troops of the Lithuanian prince Jagiello, who did not have time to come to the aid of Mamai, began attacking the lagging carts of the Russian regiments and killing the wounded.
Mikhail Alexandrovich, one of the Moscow boyars, wrote a report on the approximate losses of the Russian troops. More than a dozen other people 500 — 70 of Dmitrovsky, 60 of Kolomna, 70 of Pereyaslavsky, 50 of Galician, 50 of Uglich, 40 — of Novgorod's 40. Losses of junior warriors were much more impressive. According to the data of the report, thousands of warriors died 40, and only thousands of warriors remained 35, however these data now seem to be very exaggerated - such a large army could hardly be gathered.
For Temnik Mamai and his power in the Golden Horde, the Kulikovo battle was the beginning of a swift end. First, Mohammed Bulak Khan, a twenty-year-old Khan of the Golden Horde and Chingizid, who legitimized Mamai’s actual dictatorship and in which the Regent’s wife consisted of Mamai, died during the battle. It was a huge loss, since Mamai, with the help of Bulak, controlled a significant part of the Horde elite. Now he was losing legitimacy in her eyes.
Secondly, Mamai hoped to quickly gather in the Crimea and the Black Sea region a new army from the Kypchak tribes, but it was ahead of Khan Tokhtamysh. In the same September, 1380, the Tokhtamysh army met with the remnants of the Mamai army on the Kalka river. The Horde nobility, who accompanied Mamaia and already knew about Bulak's death, swore to Tokhtamysh as the legitimate Khan - Chingizid. Mamai, with a few comrades-in-arms who remained loyal to him, did not even begin to fight, but fled from the battlefield. At the same time, Mamai’s harem fell into the hands of Tokhtamysh, including his wife, Regent Tulunbek-khanum. Tokhtamysh acted very cunningly and soon married the former wife of Mamai, thereby confirming even more the right to the throne of the Golden Horde.
Mamai himself was killed in the Crimea, in the area of the modern Old Crimea and buried in the village of Aivazovsky (until 1945, it was called Sheikh-Mamai) near Feodosia. Interestingly, Khan Tokhtamysh acted very nobly towards his fierce opponent and buried him with military honors.
After the defeat of Mamai's troops in the Kulikov battle, a new period began in relations between Russia and the Golden Horde. Of course, it would be a great exaggeration to call the Battle of Kulikovo a battle that crushed the Golden Horde. The fragment of the Chingizid Empire collapsed due to the endless internal strife and strikes of Tamerlane’s troops, which by this time had become the main enemy of Tokhtamysh. But Prince Dmitry Donskoy did not go to Tokhtamysh for a label for reign. In 1382, Tokhtamysh embarked on a march on Moscow. 26 August 1382, Moscow surrendered to the Horde, but they did not fulfill their promise not to kill and not to rob its inhabitants and grabbed enough and shed rivers of blood in the surrendered city. On the way back, the troops of Tokhtamysh plundered a whole range of lands. However, twenty years later, Tokhtamysh lost his influence on the Golden Horde policy. He managed for a short time to seize power in the Tyumen Khanate, but then in 1406, Tokhtamysh was killed in a confrontation with Edigei, the founder of the Nogai Horde.
The significance of the Kulikovo battle is great because it showed the Russian princes and the Russian people as a whole the importance of the internal political unity of the Russian lands as a powerful factor capable of bringing a long-awaited victory over the enemy. In fact, the Kulikovo battle marked the beginning of the unification of the Russian lands around Moscow, and the Moscow principality gradually turned into the center of Russia, including thanks to the figure of its Prince Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy, the unifier of the Russian lands. The great warriors Alexander Peresvet and Andrei Oslyablya, voevoda Dmitry Mikhailovich Bobrok-Volynsky also entered forever in Russian military history, primarily as fearless heroes who gave their lives for the independence of the Russian land from the Golden Horde. The great Sergius of Radonezh also went down in history as an example of the ideologue of Russian independence and Russian statehood. It was he who blessed Prince Dmitry, as well as the monks of Peresvet and Oslablyu to battle with the army of temnik Mamai. With the Kulikov battle, the great revival of Russian statehood began, since the Russian principalities in practice were able to convince themselves that the Horde were not invincible and acting together, it was possible to defeat the Horde forces.
On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that many descendants of the Golden Horde temnyk subsequently Russified and became prominent representatives of the Russian nobility. In 1380, the son of Mamaia Mansur founded a small khanate in the area of the modern Sumy and Poltava regions of Ukraine. The core of its population was Polovtsian Black Sea steppes. Since the center of the Khanate was the restored city of Hlinsk, it soon received the name of the principality of Glinsky. The Glinsky family in it, dating back to Mamai and Mansur, adopted Christianity and actively manifested itself in the Lithuanian and Russian service. To another Horde temnik Yagolday, who created his own ulus in the region of the modern Kursk and Belgorod regions, the Vyazemsky family partly goes back, since one of the princes Vyazemsky was married to the temny grandfather Yagoldy. Since the battle of Kulikovo, centuries have passed and during this time the Russian, Slavic, and Turkic-Tatar populations of Russia have gained wonderful experience of positive interaction, even despite the experience of confronting each other before uniting into a single state.