Artist Orest Kiprensky "Dmitry Donskoy on the Kulikovo Field" 1805
God is their judge. I am sure the judge will be strict and fair. In the small work we will try once again to protect the great patriot, the holy land of the Russian, from the attacks of enemies, focusing mainly on his military talent.
To begin with, his childhood and youth very much resemble this segment of the lives of the princes Svyatoslav and Alexander Nevsky. Like them, Dmitry began to reign as a young boy 6 years old. The son of Grand Duke John the Meek, grandson of Ivan Kalita was born in 1350 year. After the unexpected death of his father in 1356, he became a prince, and three years later he received a grand prince in the Horde! grand ducal label, and immediately from the two warring factions of the Tatar elite. The sign, I think, is far from accidental. It is clear that the boy-prince ruled under the wing of the boyar duma, but the great saint Metropolitan Alexy led the Duma, and therefore the whole of Russia. A great friend of the deceased Prince John, he replaced Dmitry's father for a long time, and such a father and counselor could only be dreamed of. Under his leadership, the prince received an excellent education, gradually acquired the special wisdom of the state ruler, and, most importantly, strengthened as a truly Orthodox person. Perhaps, only Dmitry's great-grandfather Alexander Nevsky so reverently professed Orthodoxy in his thoughts and deeds and so faithfully followed the advice of the church fathers. From early childhood to the end of days, no significant government decision, including the military one, Prince Dmitry did not take without the blessing of the Church. Three people, convicted of spiritual priesthood, accompanied him in life: St. Alexius, St. Sergius and Fyodor Simonovsky, and later the Archbishop of Rostov. What other ruler and commander can boast of such spiritual mentors? The lack of will, indecision, lack of independence and other sins that Dmitry’s detractors place him as guilty are no more than a complete misunderstanding of the prince’s character, his actions, based on the true Orthodox faith. Yes, Prince Dmitry listened to the opinions of others, often was contradictory, but did not compromise in the main thing - serving God and the Russian land. Here he was constant and adamant. The chronicler writes: “Everything is creative with God and striving for Him. He was dressed royally as a tsar, he lived angelicly, fasted and again rose to prayer and in such goodness always arrived with a perishable body, he lived a lifeless life. Managing Russian Land and sitting on the throne, he thought about hermitage in his soul, wore the royal robe and royal crown, and wished to clothe himself in monastic robes every day. He always took honors and glory from all over the world, and carried the cross of Christ on his shoulders, he kept the divine days of cleanliness clean, and joined the Holy Mysteries every Sunday. With a pure soul before God, he wanted to appear. Verily, an angel and a heavenly man appeared on earth. " As it recalls the chronicle characteristics of his great-grandfather Alexander Nevsky!
And he mastered military affairs as successfully as his great ancestor. The individual skills of a professional warrior - the first thing that was needed to comprehend, trained to automatism. The young prince was an enviable cavalryman, aptly shot from a bow and a crossbow, equally brilliantly wielded a heavy sword and a light saber, a battle ax and a mace. He took a bear and a boar on a spear and never personally raised a cavalry opponent with a spear. That is why he calmly stood in the ranks of ordinary warriors on the Kulikovo field. Like Alexander Nevsky, completely devoid of personal bravado, knightly ambition, he, as a professional, did not doubt his ability to defeat the enemy in fights. On the spiritual, moral side of this act, we will talk later. Prince Dmitrii not only grasped the most complicated art of command and control, but creatively developed it, thereby confirming one of the features of a commander’s talent. He approached the military organization of the Russian state creatively, introducing novelties to literally all the elements of military construction.
A. Nemerovsky. Sergius of Radonezh blesses Dmitry Donskoy for military feat
Anticipating the harsh years of struggle, he already in 1367 year, the first of the princes built the Moscow Kremlin of white stone, encircling the walls with a wide and deep moat. At the same time, he began to create permanent defensive cordons and abutments with guard posts, capable of communicating the imminent danger in the shortest possible time and conducting reconnaissance in force, in order to determine the strength and strength of the enemy. Life very soon proved the correctness of the young prince. Moscow, which has become a real fortress, more than once withstood the assaults and sieges of the Lithuanian, Tver, and Tatar troops. The capture of Moscow by Tokhtamysh is explained solely by the cunning and treachery of the Horde prince. But the main merit of Prince Dmitry in military construction is that he created in fact new, powerful enough armed forces of the Russian state, which became a real unpleasant surprise for the numerous enemies of the Moscow principality. Immediately make a reservation. Considering the talents of Dmitry Donskoy, I deliberately exclude the assessment of his abilities in fratricidal clashes and hostilities against the Russian princes, Michael of Tver, and Oleg from Ryazan. For, as he has said before, in civil fratricidal wars there can be no winners, no leadership talent can develop. Although formally, Prince Dmitry almost always emerged victorious from these clashes.
So, the Russian army. Started a young prince with weapons. In the famous painting of the artist A.P. Bubnova "Morning on the Kulikovo Field" strikes the eyes of the beautiful armament of princes and spears, spears, just the clubs of the ordinary warriors. In fact, the armament of the Russian army was not only superbly, but also standardized. The prince invested large sums in the rearmament of the troops, including personal ones, and the skill of the Russian armorers was famous far beyond the borders of Russia. All Russian regiments, and not just the prince’s squad, were armed with a uniform weapons. These are, first of all, long and strong spears with narrow-pointed tips, easily piercing leather Tatar armor with metal plaques sewn on them. Melee weapons were battle axes, axes, and maces. The cavalry was armed with the famous direct Russian swords of a length of more than one meter or elegant light sabers, which were very effective in martial arts with Tatar cavalrymen. Reliable protective weapons consisted of the famous chain mail, often with "board protection" - lamellar or typesetting armor, helmet-cones. Tatar sabers and arrows "board protection" is not punched. Prince Dmitry was the first to replace the drop-shaped, long and heavy shields (they are visible in the picture of Bubnov - SK) with small round ones, very comfortable in hand-to-hand combat. By the way, such shields will appear only in 100 years in Western Europe. So, the Russian army on Kulikovo Field was a continuous line of armored soldiers. In “The Tale of Mamayev's Battle” we read: “the armor of Russian sons shines like water all over the place, and the helmets on their heads shine like dew during clear weather”. The first to appreciate the young prince and firearms. It was during his reign that the first Russian cannons, the “mattresses,” began firing from the walls of the Moscow Kremlin.
A. Kivshenko. Prp. Sergius of Radonezh blesses St. bl. Great Prince. Dimitri Donskoy on the Kulikovo Battle
Dmitry Donskoy changed and the organization of the Russian army. Its core was still the squad (guard) of the prince. But now it has been joined by numerous well-armed Moscow regiments. If necessary, the regiments of other princes adjoined them. At the same time, these regiments were collected, not the princes of the vassals, as it was before, commanded them, but the grand duke's governors. Throughout Russia, unique military districts were formed, from which the regiments of Kolomna, Zvenigorod, Murom, Suzdal, etc. came. Prince Dmitry created a single all-Russian military organization, perhaps for the first time since the times of Svyatoslav. This, by the way, had a tremendous impact on the future process of unification of the Russian principalities into a single state.
Changed Prince Dmitry and the tactics of the Russian army. More precisely, he had developed a three-regimental formation that was so brilliantly brilliant with cavalry on the flanks. By the way, he brilliantly used the traditional structure. For example, in the battle with the Horde on the river Vozhe. But to fight the main forces of the Horde, the great army, he began to use the six regimental formation - he added the Watchdog, Front and Ambush regiments. It was this construction that ensured Dmitry Donskoy victory on the Kulikovo Field. In strategic terms, Dmitry returned to the practice of his great ancestors Svyatoslav, Monomakh, Alexander - the practice of pre-emptive strikes. He did not wait for the Horde people under the walls of their cities, but he himself went out to meet, imposing his own way of conducting battles, and therefore, intercepting the initiative beforehand. The main line of defense began on the Oka River, it was simply called the "shore". In fact, the Russian regiments occupied a line of defense longer than 200 versts from Kolomna to Kaluga. Ahead, the already mentioned lines marked out and guard posts, traveling.
Finally, like any brilliant commander, he not only skillfully fought himself, but also surrounded himself with talented commanders, from whom we can single out, first of all, the cousin of Prince Vladimir Andreevich Serpukhovsky and voevod Dmitry Mikhailovich Bobrok-Volynsky.
It should be recalled once again that the prince did not conduct his large-scale military transformations in peacetime, but during the incessant raids of external enemies and internal civil strife. And this military reform was conducted not by an experienced commander, but by a still very young man. Could a timid, indecisive, independent ruler make such a thing? Answer, gentlemen criticized. Such a force is only a real political and military genius. It is now, in glorious democratic times, our politicians and commanders “reform” the long-suffering army so much that the army itself must be saved from such “reformers” and as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is not equal to an hour, let us return to the times of the Horde.
High relief from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior "Dmitry Donskoy near St. Sergius of Radonezh"
Denying Dmitry Donskoy the international significance of his military victories, in my opinion, is simply the pinnacle of stupidity. Read the world history, good gentlemen. At that time, a series of knightly wars, more similar to tournaments, was raging in Western Europe; new principalities of dwarf states appeared and disappeared; Catholic missionaries claimed to be a victorious cross, and more than a sword, papal power not only over churches, but also states. Only the desperate struggle of the great Byzantium that once perished, and the appearance in the center of Asia of the great Tamerlane, can compete in geopolitical significance with the wars and victories of Dmitry Donskoy. The victory on the Kulikovo Field, as it were, was not diminished by the current Russophobes, as it was not reduced to one of the many episodic clashes between Russia and the Horde, truly a key turning point in all geopolitics, the entire world order. From Kulikov's field, a new Russia rose from the singing, once again the world heard even a still fragile Russian voice. And although it will get stronger after 100 years, but it will get stronger so that it will never be destroyed. Believe it! It is from Kulikovo Field that the eternal fear of the Horde, not only among Russians, but also among Europeans, will disappear into oblivion. It is from Kulikovo Pole that a new, yet vaguely manifested, centuries-old confrontation of Russian Lithuanians and Poles for supremacy in Eastern Europe will begin. Do not forget that at that time the border with Lithuania was only a few kilometers from Mozhaisk and Kaluga. This is what only one battle, so hated by many Russophobes, means only one victory of the great commander of the land of the Russian saint, Blessed Prince Dmitry Donskoy. When they say that he had only one real battle, that in him he absolutely did not manifest himself, then at least they are cunning.
Briefly follow the military path of Prince Dmitry. Briefly because it is said quite a lot about it, in detail, and because, like his mighty ancestors, he lived in this world not for long. But forever alive in heaven! In history in general, and especially in the military, the name of the commander is often associated with one or two or three of the most significant battles of their military biography. Maybe this is true when the personality of the commander, his merit and genius are undeniable. But when disagreements arise in assessments, most often subjective, based on political and ideological conjuncture, we have to recall many seemingly insignificant battle episodes from the hero’s biography.
Prince Dmitry began to fight, like Svetoslav, Vladimir Monomakh, Alexander Nevsky from childhood. Unfortunately, with internal enemies - the Russian princes for the grand duke's throne. Of course, these wars were a misfortune for the Russian people, but without them, Moscow would not have strengthened, would not have united all of Russia around itself. Dmitry is often accused of treachery, treachery, inconsistency in relation to the rival princes. But this is a primitive, non-historical approach, most often with a modern political and ideological basis. Historically, according to the manners and customs, laws and morals of that time, Prince Dmitry acted even more flawlessly than his rivals. Judging by the chronicles, Suzdal-Nizhniy Novgorod prince Dmitry, and especially, the Tver prince Mikhail and the Ryazan prince Oleg went for more unworthy deeds, up to the open betrayal of the interests of Russia. This is what Dmitry has never had! In addition, he always tried to peacefully resolve contradictions, trusting in God and the mediation of the Great Saints Alexy and Sergius of Radonezh. There are numerous chronicle confirmations. From a military point of view, Dmitry almost always emerged victorious in internecine bouts. Already in the 11 years, in the first campaign, the Moscow prince drove away from the Grand Duke's throne, Prince Dmitry Konstantinovich. By the way, his future father-in-law, having intermarried with whom at a young 16 age, stopped the rivalry between the Moscow and Suzdal princes forever. Is this not a real peacefulness and practical steps towards peace? Then there were numerous clashes, campaigns against Prince Michael of Tver, who, in order to achieve his own personal goals, entered into an alliance with the most fierce enemies of Russia. The last war with Tver in 1375 was essentially the dress rehearsal for the gathering of the all-Russian army to the decisive battle with the Horde. To go to Tver, Prince Dmitry managed to unite 20, that is, almost everyone, Russian princes! "And all the princes of the Russians, each with their own ratas and serving the great prince". In these battles, too, the talent of commander Prince Dmitry was forged.
Icon "Saints Sergius of Radonezh and Dmitry Donskoy", written by priest Sergei Simakov in the 20th century.
But the main practical military school for Dmitriy was the struggle with the Lithuanians and Horde. For some reason they are considered insignificant and not significant. Strange. Meanwhile, Lithuania at that time may be the strongest principality of Eastern Europe, three times in 1368, 1370 and 1372, made deadly campaigns against Moscow. The Lithuanian prince Olgerd, after he defeated the Tatars under the Blue Waters in 1362 and freed Podolia, turned to Moscow, wanting to annex other Russian lands to Lithuania. He did not give rest to the laurels of his brother and co-ruler Keistus, who successfully fought in the West with the Teutonic Order. In the first war, Prince Dmitry hastily assembled a sentry regiment of Muscovites, Kolomna residents, Dmitrovtsy, and sent him forward. But these forces were clearly not enough for a decisive battle, as the skirmish with the Lithuanians near Volokolamsk showed. There was no time to gather a full-fledged army from Dmitry. That's when the stone walls of the Kremlin came in handy. Olgerd hastily approached Moscow. Prince Dmitry with his cousin Vladimir Andreevich and Metropolitan Alexy kept the defense in the Kremlin. All wooden buildings around Moscow were burned in advance. Algerd failed to take the Kremlin. Having stood near Moscow for three days and three nights, they demolished and burned churches, monasteries, neighboring villages and returned to Lithuania. As the chronicler notes, "another Lithuanian happened two years later." Again Olgerd went to Moscow, with his allies, Prince Mikhail of Tver and Prince Smolensk of Svyatoslav. Despite this alliance, and perhaps because of it, the blow did not turn out to be a sudden one. Already near Volokolamsk Olgerd got up. Two days Lithuanians stormed the city, but could not take it. Then Olgerd moved straight to Moscow, where he arrived on a winter Nikolin day. This time, the Lithuanians stood under the city for eight days. Prince Dmitry led the defense, and Prince Vladimir constantly attacked the Lithuanians from the rear. Notice how the tactics of the Russian troops change. From passive defense, they turn to active, which forces Olgerd to feel the danger and agree to negotiations with Prince Dmitry. Agreed on "eternal peace", which a year later sealed marriage. Prince Vladimir Andreevich became engaged to Helen, the daughter of Olgerd, who converted to Orthodoxy with the name Eupraxia. But, as often happened then, the “eternal peace” ended only a year later, and again Olgerd went to Russia. This time, pay attention to this, Prince Dmitry went out with a host to meet the Lithuanians, and within a day was on the Oka. Such a fast maneuver and impressive force of the Moscow regiments puzzled Olgerd and he was forced to abandon the battle. Under Lyubotsky I concluded a second “eternal peace” with Prince Dmitry. It should be noted that in all the battles with the Lithuanians, Prince Dmitry in practice polished the management of the new organization of the Russian army through the governor. Even then, the military leaders of Prince Dmitry, and above all Prince Vladimir Andreevich, showed their independence and showed their military skills.
An even greater science was passed by Prince Dmitry in battles with the main enemy - the Horde. The Russian chronicles preserve information about the three great campaigns of Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich to the southern frontiers. In 1373, the Horde attacked the Ryazan principality, their cavalry patrols prowled on the border of Moscow possessions. The chronicle says: "Dmitry Ioannovich gathered with all his strength and stood on the river Oka on the breze all summer and the Tatars were not empty." Again, we notice how Prince Dmitriy, as it were, is probing the enemy, is not in a hurry for action. But even standing, which did not allow the Tatars to attack, he immediately backed up with a political act. In 1374, Dmitry Ivanovich stopped paying tribute to the Golden Horde. Not surprisingly, already in 1376, Prince Dmitry did not confine himself to the “coast” defense, but he himself went after the Oka “watched over the Tatar rati”. In the same year, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod ratid went to Volga Bulgaria. Kazan paid a huge 5 ransom for thousands of rubles at that time, accepted a Russian customs officer to their city. In this campaign, the future hero of Kulikov Field, voivod Dmitry Mikhailovich Bobrok-Volynsky, distinguished himself. So grew assistants, military leaders Dmitry Ivanovich. By the way, this victory has already made a tremendous impression, and not only in Russia. Horde began to beat in their own possessions. The horde rebelled and stirred. In 1377, the Horde prince Arapsha flew into the southern regions of the Nizhny Novgorod principality and heavily patted the Russian rati. But the next year, Prince Dmitri showed the Tatars the full force of the new Russian army during the Horde raid led by Murza Begich. Horde campaign was undertaken by large forces. For approximate punishment of the Russians, the ruler of the Horde Mamai, according to the chronicler, “gathered many soldiers”. Prince Dmitry met the enemy fully armed. Thanks to well-established intelligence, excellent maneuverability, the Russian troops were ahead of the Tatars and were the first to reach the Voge River, the right tributary of the Oka and blocked the ford. Prince Dmitry took the most convenient position on the Black Corner hill, from which a good view of the opposite shore opened and the ford was controlled. The appearance of the Russian regiments so far in the open field was a surprise for the Horde commanders. Russian control over the fords across the river completely puzzled them. Tatars stood up in confusion, but for three whole days. This time, standing was not part of Prince Dmitry’s plans. He just needed a decisive victory in an open battle. He ordered a little distance from the coast, as if inviting the enemy, while the Tatars showered ridicule. Ordyntsy could not resist and began to cross the river with shouts and cries. Q.E.D! We have already said that Prince Dmitry used the classical three regimental order of construction here. He himself led the central regiment. The Russians still waited for the enemy, thus puzzling the Tatars even more. Mongolian-Tatar horsemen were amazed - the enemy is so self-confident that it allows them to cross the river along the marshy banks. They were confused, slowed down and stopped, firing at Russian regiments from bows. The back rows of the Tatars were pressing, leading to even more confusion. At this point, Prince Dmitry gave the signal to attack, and the Russians moved on the Horde, covering their flanks. The front ranks of the Tatar cavalry were crushed, the next turned back, and faced with their own troops forwarded. The panic began. Tatars rushed back to the swampy shore, many were drowning. Five hordes of Murz, including Begich, perished. Only the ensuing darkness helped save the remnants of the Horde army. In the morning the Russian cavalry crossed the Vozdu and captured the whole Horde carriage. By the way, Dmitry Ivanovich won with a little blood. We have lost two governors - Dmitry Monastyrev and Nazar Kuskov. Is this not the talent of the commander?
"Kick of the Ambush Regiment" (Battle of Kulikovo) (1863х1300) - Popov Pavel Petrovich
After the defeat on Vozha it became clear - there was a decisive battle ahead with the main forces of the Horde, a battle to the bitter end, and no one in Russia had any other outcome. By this time, as the historian V.O. Klyuchevsky wrote: “two generations had come up and grew up, to the nerves of which childhood impressions did not instill an unaccountable horror of fathers and grandfathers before the Tatar: they went to Kulikovo Field”. What the great warrior Alexander Nevsky could not allow himself, for the sake of which he humbled pride and Russia, was done by his great-grandson Dmitry.
So, the main battle of the Grand Duke Dmitry, one of the main battles ever conducted by Russian commanders. This battle is covered in sufficient detail and comprehensively. The only thing I consider is simply the need to exclude Fomenko’s completely crazy ideas from this analysis, because apart from the gerostratic complex this cannot be explained. Yes, and not necessary. Let me, in the framework of a small article, dwell on the most important, in my opinion, moments of the Kulikovo battle, which characterize Dmitry Donskoy precisely as a commander.
The first moment, painstakingly silenced by military historians of all generations, is the undoubted blessing of our Lord himself to the battle and His undoubted protection of the Russian army. The miracles manifested before and during the battle largely determined the nature of the behavior and the actions themselves of the commander Grand Duke Dmitry. First of all - the Divine sign, in Vladimir were found the relics of the pious Prince Alexander Nevsky. The monk is the sexton of the church where the tomb of the prince was located, who slept on the porch at night, suddenly saw that the candles standing in front of the icons themselves lit up and two old men came out of the altar to the coffin. Turning to the prince lying there, they called to him, urging him to get up and help his great-grandson go to fight with foreigners. The prince rose and, together with the elders, became invisible. The coffin was dug, and incorruptible relics were discovered. This event was reliable evidence of the invisible help of Grand Duke Dmitry from his ancestors. Of great importance was the blessing of Prince Dmitry to the battle of St. Sergius of Radonezh. On the second day of the Assumption, the Grand Duke and his retinue went to the Trinity Monastery. After the liturgy, Reverend Sergius blessed the faithful prince to go into battle, trusting in God and predicted victory for the Russian troops. St. Sergius, making the Grand Duke Dmitry on the forehead a cross-shaped sign of the rivers: “Go, Sovereign! Unbelievably: the Lord God will help you on enemies. ”I. leaning towards him alone, added quietly:“ Win your adversaries. ” And the departure to battle of two monks Alexander Peresvet and Andrei Oslyabyu, in the world of brave warriors and skilled warriors, seemed to impose a practical feature on a spiritual sign. On the day of his speech from Moscow, Prince Dmitry entered the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos, knelt before the icon of Christ the Savior, then fell before the image of the Mother of God, written by St. Luke the Evangelist, and with tears in his eyes, he prayed the Heavenly Intercessor to pacify and demean the proud and ferocious enemies of the Orthodox people Russian. Then he went to the Church of the Archangel Michael and exclaimed there on the tombs of his ancestors: “Orthodox champions! Pray for us the Lord, may He give us victory and victory over the enemies of the wicked. " Already on the way to the Kulikov Field, the appearance of the icon of St. Nicholas on Ugréje to the prince. And finally, the prayer itself before the battle and the last words: “My hope for You, Lord!” It was not by chance that I dwelt on it in such detail, for only having understood the Orthodox soul of Prince Dmitry, one can understand all his actions.
Pavel Ryzhenko. Kulikovo field
The second point, which finally began to be seriously considered, is the international composition of Mamai's troops. The Horde army has always been mixed, but the Tatar “melting pot”, as it were, digested the Horde allies and vassals into a monolithic core, which was distinguished not only by high professionalism, but also by moral stamina. Mamai had no such unity. According to the chronicler, he set out on a campaign "with all the princes of the Horde and with all the power of the Tatar and Polovtsian." Yes, on the way "many hordes attached to itself." Joined, but did not make these Horde. Mamai had a lot of mercenaries: "Bezermen and Armenians, Fryazev (Genoese) and Circassians, Burtases." Many of them, especially the heavily armed Genoese infantry, were professionals of the highest class, but proved to be too incompatible with the nomadic cavalry. The horde was still strong, but not the same as in the times of Batu. Prince Dmitry understood this, as he understood that the breaking of the chains of slavery even with such a Horde can only be achieved by military means with a decisive victory. Yes, and the campaign of Mamaia to Russia, although he did not hide that he was going to repeat the "Batu pogrom", was significantly different from the typical campaigns of the Horde. The Classical Horde conquered the land and left for the native steppe, accepting an enviable tribute from the conquered peoples. Mamai wanted not only to conquer Russia, but also to settle in the Russian lands, creating a new, his Horde. In the old, despite all his talents and achievements, he had no place in the sun. This was also well understood by Dmitri Ivanovich, he understood that the outcome of the battle with Mamai depended on whether or not to be the Russian land, to be or not to be on the Russian people themselves. That is why he had no other choice, as soon as the obligatory, complete and decisive victory precisely over Mamai.
The third essential point is the brilliant maneuver of the Russian army, which preceded the decisive battle. The new organization of troops in the five regimental composition and strict subordination of the governor to the center, made it possible to make the Russian army extremely maneuverable and mobile. And the speed of maneuver, as we already know, allows us to take the initiative in our own hands, impose our own rules on the enemy, put it in obviously unprofitable conditions, which is half the success. Prince Dmitry Donskoy made this maneuver brilliantly. Judge for yourself. The distance in 100 versts from Moscow to Kolomna troops were four days. For those times, the pace is fantastic. 26 of August approached the mouth of Lopasni, that is, a week before the intended meeting with the enemy. The army moved as a part of regimental columns, strictly observing the established order. During the movement, guarding was continuously carried out and reconnaissance was conducted. This made it possible to neutralize the numerous Tatar scouts and capture the much-needed “tongues”. Dmitry knew everything about the Tatars, Mamai knew nothing about the Russians. Avant-garde was the Watchdog regiment of the governor Semen Melik, formed from selective cavalry, able to protect the main forces from a sudden attack. For the Watchdog regiment in several columns followed the shelves: Front, Large, Right and Left hands, Ambush. Intelligence soon reported, and the "tongues" confirmed that Mamai was not in a hurry to attack, was waiting for a connection with the allies - the Lithuanian Prince Jagiello and the Ryazan Prince Oleg. That is why Prince Dmitry, as it were, bypassed the Ryazan principality from the west, taking it to the right. On August 30, he began to cross the Oka River 2 versts below the mouth of Lopasni and headed towards the Don. In 30 versts from the Don near the town of Berezuy, the Allied Lithuanian regiments of Andrei and Dmitry Olgerdovich, whose “forged army” heavily armed soldiers significantly strengthened the Russian army, joined the Russian army. Intelligence clarified finding Mamaia. He slowly wandered near Kuzmina Gati in three passages from the mouth of the Nepryadva, waiting for the allies only after three days. The movement of Prince Dmitry from the mouth of Lopasni to the west was intended to prevent the Lithuanian army Jagiello from connecting with Mamai, who had been wandering the steppe in the Sword River area for three weeks without news. Jagiello, having learned about the route and the number of Russian troops, he doubted the expediency of joining Mom and stopped. Q.E.D! September 5 Russian cavalry came to the essence of Nepryadva. The speed and secrecy of the campaign of the Russian rati were a real surprise for Mamai. Is this not the first brilliant step to the victory of the Russian commander?
Victor Matorin. "Dmitry Donskoy"
The next moment is a truly brilliant commanding decision of Dmitry about forcing the Don. At the September 6 Military Council, opinions were divided. Many advised to remain on the north bank of the Don and smash the enemy, as there was no time on the river Vozhe. Others advised all the same to force the Don and take the battle on the southern coast. The final decision was made by Prince Dmitry, and none other! At the same time he pronounced significant words and to this day: “Brothers! Honest death is better than shameful life; it would be better for us not to go against the godless now rather than having come, to return without doing anything. Today we will all cross over the Don and fight for our Faith and Fatherland! ”He ordered each regiment to build bridges,“ to arm in armor, and crossed the river to destroy all bridges behind us ”. Until now, many believe that the prince, as it were, chopped off the ends, turned his warriors into suicide bombers. But for an Orthodox warrior, death in battle is the sure road to eternal life in heaven. The question of death simply could not stand in the current understanding and did not stand. The main thing was that this maneuver allowed Dmitry to hold in his hands the initiative not only strategic (beat the enemy piecemeal), but also tactical (choosing the place of battle and imposing his will on the enemy). By the way, already in the evening after the council, Prince Dmitry personally crossed over from the Don to the governor Bobrok-Volynsky and personally chose the place of the future battle. An important detail to characterize the leadership talent of Prince Dmitry!
The choice of the location of the battle and determined the battle order of the Russian army. He is well known. I just want to clarify some details. On the front, the Russian position was stretched almost 8 versts, however, the area convenient for the cavalry of the enemy was limited to no more than 4 miles and was in the center of the position - near the converging headwaters of Lower Dubik and Smolka. Rat Mamaia, having an advantage on the front more than 12 versts, could attack with a cavalry Russian military formations only in a limited area. This completely excluded the maneuver of horse masses. So Prince Dmitry built Russian troops, taking into account the terrain and the favorite method of fighting used by the Horde (encompassing one or both flanks of the enemy with a subsequent exit to his rear). On Kulikovo field, Mamai could only attack from the front, which reduced the numerical superiority factor and hampered the maneuver. By the way, it is necessary to clarify the constantly changing number of troops of the opposing sides, which either inflate to incredible size or reduce to the level of a knightly tournament. There is also accurate information about the approximate number of warriors in the regiment. Based on this, and the size of the battlefield, it is safe to determine the number of Russian troops in 50 - 70 thousand people, and the forces of Mamaia - in 90 - 100 thousand people.
It is necessary to make another significant clarification. It has already become an axiom that the battle began with the duel of Monk Peresvet and Batyr Chelubey, and the departure of Prince Dmitry to the ranks of ordinary warriors. This is not entirely true. In fact, the troops were ready for battle, but Mamai was drawing time, still hoping for Yagailo’s approach. In his camp, even began preparations for dinner. Dmitri Ivanovich was extremely unprofitable, and he decided to involve Mamai into battle at any cost. He really took off his magnificent armor, handed it to boyar Mikhail Brenko, and he donned simple armor (by the way, not prince to its princely properties –K.C.), handed him the banner of the Savior. I can not fail to bring his answer to the governors, who in every way discouraged the prince: “But how can I say to someone:“ Brothers, let us stand firmly on the enemy! - and I myself will stand behind, and will I hide my face? I can’t do to hide and hide myself, but I want, in word and in deed, to start and put my head first, so that others, seeing my boldness, also create with much zeal! I should drink the cup in common with you: death or belly to taste with you. I am obliged to make war before others, before others, put my head and receive a crown of immortality from a just God. Receiving from the Lord all my good, I will not tolerate evil? " Yes, the prince changed his clothes, but led the Watchdog Regiment, which delivered a strong preemptive strike, crushed the Tatar intelligence and forced the Horde sentry regiment to retreat to the main forces of the Horde. "The Mongols threw the cauldrons ... and began to prepare for battle." Mamai was forced to start the battle according to the plan of Prince Dmitry. It was only then, seeing that the army was built, as he had conceived, that the main surprise did not betray himself - the Ambush regiment, that the Tatars launched an attack in that place and in that direction, when he wanted, Prince Dmitry returned to the Great Regiment , and the Watchdog Regiment went to the main forces. Only then did the monk Peresvet enter the duel. Well, how can you talk about the cowardice of the Grand Duke? Even a superficial idea of melee fighting in a terrible medieval section, completely eliminates the voluntary participation of a coward in it! As for the leadership of the battle, it may be different. In the life of almost every great commander there were moments when he entered into battle, as a simple warrior. This was required by the situation, the high moral and ethical component of the moment of the battle. Recall at least Napoleon on Arkolsky Bridge or Suvorov in the Alps. And there are no such examples. Dmitry Donskoy, precisely as a great commander, understood that his governors, his regiments would clearly and strictly fulfill the plan of their commander-in-chief, and it is more important for him to merge with each warrior into one flesh, personifying the invincibility of the Russian people in this battle by the will of the Lord!
The course and outcome of the battle itself was analyzed in sufficient detail, but I still want to give a few excerpts from “The Tale of Mamai Massacre”, in my opinion, most perceptibly conveying the entire medieval flavor, the coloring of such a significant battle for a Russian person:
“The holiday 8 of September came, the beginning of our salvation, the Nativity of the Holy Virgin, the dawn on Friday, the sunrise. And in the morning there was a great darkness, the Christian banners began to stretch and many trumpets. Already the Russian princes and the governor and all the daring people had the horses settled down, the sound of the trumpet, each under its own banner, the regiments went as ordered by the order. ”
Monument to Dmitry Donskoy in front of the Marinkin tower of the Kolomna Kremlin
"And when the third hour of the day arrived ... And both troops came together, fought hard not only with weapons, but also killed each other hand-to-hand, died under horse hooves, suffocated from the great distress, because it was impossible for them to fit on the Kulikovo Field, the close place between Don and unbearable. On that field came together strong shelves together, from them came the bloody dawns of the shining of swords, like lightning shine. And there was a crash of breaking spears and blows of swords, it was impossible to see the terrible hour of a mortal, in one hour, in the blink of an eye, how many thousands of God's creatures perish.
In the fourth and fifth hour, the Christians do not weaken. When the sixth hour came, God's permission, for our sins, the Tatars began to win: many grandees were killed by Tatars, daring knights, like oak trees, bowed to the ground, under horse hooves, many Russian sons died. The great prince himself was wounded; he left the army and stepped off his horse, because he could not already fight. The Tatars have already hooked many of the banners of the Grand Duke. ”
“And came the eighth hour, suddenly pulled the southern wind in their backs. Volynets shouted in a loud voice to Prince Vladimir: "The hour has come, the time has come nearer" and he also said: "My brothers and friends, dare." And at the same time, the Russians left an oak-tree, like a seasoned falcon, struck at many flocks of goose, their banners were directed by a formidable commander.
The Tatars, seeing them, shouted: "Alas, we deceived Russia again, the weakest people fought with us, and the strong all survived." And the Tatars fled and ran.
Mamai, seeing his defeat, said to his people: “Let's run, brothers, we will not have any good, we will only take our heads”. And suddenly he ran with four people. Many Christians pursued him, but did not catch up, because their horses were tired, and returned after the chase. And the corpses of the dead lay on both sides of the river Nepryadva, where it was impossible to pass through the Russian regiments. ”
Russian troops pursued the Horde for over 30 versts - to the river Beautiful Sword, where carts and rich trophies were captured. Almost 100-thousandth army Mamaia was completely defeated, virtually ceased to exist. But we also suffered simply huge losses at that time - about 20 thousands killed and wounded. Eight days the Russian army collected and buried the killed soldiers, and then moved to Moscow. On September 28, the winners entered the capital in front of the jubilant people, who nicknamed Prince Dmitry for merits Donskoy, and his brother Prince Vladimir Serpukhov, the Brave. Prince Dmitry himself immediately went to St. Sergius. In the Trinity Monastery for the dead soldiers served numerous memorial services. It was then that a special day of their annual commemoration was established, called the Dmitrievskaya subboto. Later he became the day of the general memory of the departed ancestors, the parent day.
For centuries, the glory of Dmitry Donskoy shone, and he had only nine years to live. And how much grief, sadness and suffering he was destined to endure in such a short time. The Russian land had not yet had time to cool off the massacre of Mamaev, as the new Tatar army was now marching on it to the present Horde prince Tokhtamysh. Dmitry Donskoy is still being reproached for the fact that he allowed the seizure of Moscow, the destruction of the Russian lands, while he himself was almost cowardly hiding in the forests of Kostroma. But if you look at those events impartially, you can draw another conclusion. Yes, Dmitry left Moscow, but left it consciously, in full confidence that its stone walls and a sufficient garrison would hold out until he gathered the regiments dismissed after the Kulikovo battle. The successful defense of Moscow from repeated attempts to take her by Olgerd gave him this confidence. And Moscow would have survived if it were not for Tokhtamysh’s perfidy. Only cunning, he managed to break into the Kremlin. Yes, Moscow then fell, but the Tatars immediately rushed to ravage and rob Russia. But, having received the first repulse (prince Serpukhovskoy Vladimir Andreevich the Brave defeated one of the Horde units — SK) near Volokolamsk, and most importantly, having learned that Prince Dmitry himself hurried with the army, Tokhtamysh immediately cleaned the steppe. Moreover, the Tatars literally fled, losing captured prey and prisoners on the way. Well, what kind of an adequate revenge is it, as haters of Russia are still talking about? There were in the last years of the reign of Dmitry Donskoy and internecine wars, distrust of the princes relatives and princes neighbors, there was a great sea on the Russian land. But, nourished by the prayers of St. Sergius of Radonezh, his spiritual master and patron, the prince came to his earthly end, as a truly Orthodox man, a warrior.
And he, smart and handsome, was only 39 years old. The chronicle says that from his very adolescence he loved the living God, zealously began to flow into his holy churches, always listened and read the Word of God with attention and tenderness, decorated the temples of God with all splendor, worshiped priests and monks, was very generous to the poor, he eagerly distributed alms from his hands, was respectful of the elders, avoided vain conversations, caustic ridicule and harmful merrymaking; never used empty words and in every way evaded the society of malevolent people. Nature adorned him with all bodily and spiritual qualities. Strong body composition, magnificent growth, a sharp and penetrating look, a pleasant expressive voice made up the smallest part of his bodily gifts. By the will of his mother and the desire of the entire Moscow people, Dmitry, in tender youth, entered into a marriage with Evdokia, the virtuous daughter of the Prince of Suzdal. Sensing the approach of death, Prince Dmitry sent for the Monk Sergius, who taught him all the necessary Orthodox sacraments. Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy died on May 19, 1389 and was buried in the church of St. Archangel Michael "on the right hand." At the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988, dedicated to the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia, Grand Duke Vladimir and Moscow Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy was canonized. After 599 years, the Russian national hero, the commander, was declared a saint. By the way, his wife is revered in Russia as the holy noble Rev. Euphrosyne the Grand Duchess of Moscow. I want to remind you that the name of Dmitry Donskoy will be repeated more than once by Russian commanders in the days of harsh years, that under his name will be formed tank a column during the Great Patriotic War, whose regiments will end their glorious path with victory.
“Great is the land of the Russian as a champion in trouble; language is conquering. Yakozhe on Don Mamaev deposed pride, on this feat by accepting the blessing of St. Sergius, taco, Prince Dmitry, pray to God the God to grant us great mercy. ”