Ivan III Vasilyevich, decisively breaking the resistance of the specific princes, created a single, powerful Russian state. The success of the foreign policy of sovereign Ivan Vasilyevich was helped by the negative processes that were taking place in the Golden Horde. Neither Mamai, nor Tokhtamysh, nor Edigey could stop the processes of the internal disintegration of a great power. Their successes were of short duration. The Golden Horde broke up into semi-independent uluses, which only temporary interest could hold together. The largest ulus was the Great Horde, which was formed in the 1430s in the region between the Dnieper and the Volga. Its rulers tried to continue the great-power policy of the Golden Horde khans.
In 1443, the Crimean Khanate became independent. The Crimean ruler Hadji Giray openly spoke out against the khan of the Great Horde Sayyid Mohammed. In 1455, the Crimean Tatars defeated the army of the Great Horde and its territory was greatly reduced. Subsequently, the enmity between the two state entities continued until the death of the Great Horde and the victory of the Crimea. In the course of this struggle arose Astrakhan Khanate. In addition to these large uluses, several other state formations were formed on the territory of the Golden Horde: the Siberian kingdom emerged in the Irtysh and Tobol basins, the Nogai Horde in the steppes of the Pre-Caspian region, settled in the territory of the former Volga-Kama Bulgaria with its Ulug-Mohammed horde, which laid the foundation for creation Kazan Khanate.
Such a situation and enmity between the Crimea and the Great Horde brought a strategic advantage to Russia, allowing the Moscow government to play its successful game. However, the opponents of Moscow still had a lot of strength. So, the Big Horde could have deployed 100 thousand troops (they were not, for the most part, professional warriors, but militias), which could be seriously increased by the allied hordes. The Crimean Khanate, which with varying success fought with the Great Horde, could expose approximately the same forces.
However, in tactical terms, the collapse of the Golden Horde was unprofitable Russian lands. The immediate military danger for border lands has only increased. The gangs, uncontrolled by the central authorities, constantly disturbed the Russian limits. In fact, it was not possible to establish a stable, long-lasting relationship with the han. Paying tribute did not give any security guarantee. Khans of various uluses, individual Murzy and just a gang of robbers regularly attacked the Russian border areas, burned, robbed, took people for sale into slavery. In 1437, the hordes of Ulug-Mohammed defeated the grand duke's troops. In 1439, the Ulug-Mohammed troops undertook a campaign against Moscow, the Tatars could not take the city, but they ruined the neighborhood. 1444, the Tatars invaded the lands of Murom and Ryazan, but were defeated. 7 July 1445, the army of the Ulug-Muhammad defeated the grand duke's army near Suzdal and captured Vasily II. The number of minor raids is incalculable at all.
The danger from the Big Horde increased even more during the reign of Ahmed Khan, who was able to temporarily suppress the independence of the feudal lords and united the Horde. The Ulug-Mohammed with his horde left Upper Oka on the Middle Volga and the possessions of the Great Horde now directly bordered on the Russian lands. Ahmed Khan took the title of "Sultan" and began to claim dominance over all the lands of Juchi Ulus, and wanted to restore the former dependence of Russia. The danger was that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a potential ally of the Great Horde.
Ahmed Khan pursued a clearly hostile policy towards Moscow. 1465, his troops moved to Russia, but were stopped by the invasion of the Crimean Tatars. The invasion of the Great Horde troops was expected and in the 1470 year, Russian troops were concentrated on the southeast line. 1471, Ahmed conducted negotiations with the envoy of King Casimir IV Jagiellon about a joint blow to Moscow. The invasion for a number of reasons failed to make, so the troops of Grand Duke Ivan Vasilyevich could make a successful march on Veliky Novgorod. In 1472, the situation was already not in favor of the Great Horde, the Russian troops were liberated. However, Ahmed led the horde, and he acted clearly in alliance with the Lithuanians. Russian troops occupied the entire "coast" on the river. Oke. A large army was assembled, the Pskov 1 chronicle reports 80-100 thousands of warriors who covered the entire distance from Kolomna to Kaluga. The main forces covered the Moscow direction, they were concentrated from Kolomna to Serpukhov. Ordyntsy also launched an offensive from the west, went to Alexin, who did not have significant forces to fight the enemy troops. However, the townspeople fiercely resisted, and while they fought off the assault after the assault, the grand-ducal troops blocked the fords across the Oka at this place. The main forces rushed to the advanced shelves. Timely concentration of troops from Alexin decided the outcome of the campaign. Ordyntsy, seeing against him a large Moscow army, retreated.
It was a serious defeat for the Great Horde, despite the absence of a general battle. Ahmed’s power was undermined, which was marked by a number of signs. In particular, Moscow reduced the size of the tribute from 7 thousand rubles to 4,2 thousand, and from 1475-1476. The “Horde way out” was no longer paid at all (according to other sources, they stopped paying tribute at the beginning of the 1470s). This was a turning point in the relations between Moscow and the Horde. Ahmed sent an embassy to Moscow, demanding the payment of tribute and personal appearance of Ivan Vasilyevich to the Horde at the Khan's court. But these claims were rejected. And sovereign Ivan Vasilyevich deliberately went to the insult: the Khan's charter was spat upon and trampled, and the envoys captured, except one. The Grand Duke unilaterally tore up the traditional system of Russian-Horde ties. This made a big war inevitable. Only by a decisive victory and the rout of Moscow, Ahmed could restore the power of the Horde over the Russian state and strengthen his shaken authority.
Foreign policy situation. Preparing for war
Planning a blow to Moscow, Ahmed took into account the lessons of 1472 of the year. It was not possible to break through the broad and deep river Oka, on whose banks stood numerous Russian regiments. We had to look for another direction of impact. In addition, such a powerful rebuff in general called into question the possibility of victory by the forces of only one Great Horde. Needed a strong ally.
Ivan Vasilyevich needed to prevent the union of the Great Horde with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the formation of a united front of the Tatar uluses. For this it was necessary to use the Crimean Khanate. The Crimean Khan Mengli-Girey almost immediately responded to the initiative of Moscow. The defeat of the Muscovite state and the sharp strengthening of the Great Horde were an immediate threat to the Crimea, which was threatened with the loss of independence. Between Moscow and the Crimea, an agreement was reached on "fraternal love and friendship." In the spring of 1474, the Russian embassy headed by Nikita Beklemishev arrived in Crimea, which was supposed to expand the scope of the Crimean-Moscow Union. In the fall, a Crimean embassy led by Dovletek-Murza arrived in Moscow. In the spring of 1475, a new Moscow embassy headed by Andrei Starkov went to the Crimea. The case went to the conclusion of a military alliance. However, the negotiations were interrupted by the successful march of Ahmed Khan to the Crimea, Mengli Giray fled. True, he soon restored his power with the help of the Turks and in 1479, negotiations between Moscow and the Crimea continued.
Long-term work was crowned with success. On the eve of the war with the Great Horde, the Moscow Ambassador Ivan Zvenets and Mengli Giray signed a treaty of union. The Union had a defensive character in relation to the Great Horde and a defensive offensive in relation to the Polish-Lithuanian state (Casimir was at the same time the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the Polish King). It was a great diplomatic success of the Moscow government. The threat of an attack from the Crimea on the southern Lithuanian and Polish regions forced King Casimir to caution. True, and overestimate the value of this union is not worth it. The Crimean sovereigns were fairly easy to conclude various agreements, but they did not always fulfill them. Mengli Giray did not take part in the 1480 war of the year against the Great Horde, although he promised to speak himself, or send his brother with the army. Regarding the Polish-Lithuanian state, he limited himself to a small foray into Podolia, which was repulsed by local troops, without involving the main forces of Casimir.
As a result, the Russian state had to confront the Big Horde alone, and take into account the unfavorable situation on the western frontiers. So, in 1479, the Livonian Order began to prepare for war with the Russians. A major invasion into the lands of Pskov and Veliky Novgorod was planned, with the involvement of detachments of German mercenaries and the Hansa. The Order entered into an alliance with the German cities of Estland and Livonia - Dorpat, Revel and Riga. According to the testimony of the Livonian chronicle of Ryussov, Master Bernhard von der Borch has gathered an unprecedented force. In the autumn and summer of 1480, the Livonian troops disturbed the Russian border, and in August the master himself crossed the border with a large army. At this time, Ahmed Khan was already moving to the Oka. However, a large Livonian army failed under the walls of Pskov; the Germans were unable to take well-fortified Izborsk. The invasion failed. But, undoubtedly, this attack diverted part of the Russian forces to the north-west. Ivan Vasilievich could not disregard this danger.
Obviously hostile was the position of the Polish king, he was preparing to strike at Novgorod, and established contacts with the boyar opposition. At the beginning of 1480, the highest hierarch of the Novgorod land was arrested - Archbishop Theophil, who was in charge of external affairs, the treasury and the court of Novgorod. He was accused of intending to “transfer” Veliky Novgorod to the Polish king. In addition, contacts with the Polish-Lithuanian state were also among the brothers of the Grand Duke - Boris Volotsky and Andrei Bolshoi, who started a “revolt”. There was a danger of an internal feudal war in Muscovy, supported by external forces. The war with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was quite possible, the situation was very alarming.
In the spring of 1480, the alarming news from the Great Horde began to arrive. It became obvious that this year there will be a big Tatar campaign. On the shore of the Oka were sent shelves. This precaution was not superfluous. Soon appeared Horde squad. Making sure that the “coast” was covered by Russian troops, the Tatars left. Ivan Vasilievich, considering that this was the vanguard of the enemy army, advanced the main forces to the Oka. The quick response of Moscow suggests that the army was mobilized in advance. After it became clear that the alarm was false, the army returned to the capital.
Ahmed Khan was counting on a joint performance with Casimir. Therefore, at the first stage of the war, his main task was to join the Polish-Lithuanian army. Ahmed made an agreement with Casimir on a joint campaign to use the rebellion of the Grand Duke's brothers. The king even directly called on the Horde Khan to immediately strike Russia. The two allied armies were to be joined near the “Lithuanian frontier,” at the mouth of the Ugra.
The Russian plan of the war was drawn up at the grand council in Moscow, where the grand duke, his uncle, Prince Mikhail Vereisky, the mother of the grand duke, Metropolitan Gerontius and the boyars took part. The plan provided for a cover of the Oka line, an auxiliary strike of the “ship's ratification” on the Volga River on the possessions of the Great Horde. The regiments assembled in Moscow were put forward first, the “lower army” (the lands of Vladimir-Suzdal Russia were called “Nizom”), the “high-ranking troops” played the role of a strategic reserve - the regiments from the northern cities. The main forces of the Russian army were located in the western sector of the “coast”, in the Serpukhov and Tarusa areas. Thus, this group could cover two main directions in which the enemy could strike: to protect the “coast” and to cover the “Lithuanian frontier”. Other shelves were located along the entire "shore".
Opposition in the Ugra
The advance of the Russian troops to the Oka finally buried Ahmed Khan’s hopes to carry out a frontal offensive, and he moved to the Lithuanian possessions. The Akhmat Horde freely passed through Lithuanian territory and, accompanied by Lithuanian guides, through Mtsensk, Odoyev and Lyubutsk to Vorotynsk (the “Supreme Principality”). Here the Horde began to expect help from Casimir IV. During the movement, the Horde people bypassed the Yelets principality, the Tula region, which already belonged to Moscow, the Tatars clearly did not want to waste time fighting for well-fortified cities.
This led to a regrouping of Russian troops: from Serpukhov and Tarusa, the main forces were transferred further west, to Kaluga, directly to the Ugra River. There were also sent reinforcements from the cities of the Russian land. Ivan Vasilievich from Kolomna went to Moscow. For him, now the main task was to achieve reconciliation with the brothers, and the sovereign was able to solve this problem. In addition, in case of unsuccessful development of events, additional work was carried out to strengthen Moscow and prepare it for a siege. October 3 Ivan III went to the troops and stopped in Kremenets. This position was convenient for the leadership of the troops on the Ugra and allowed to send reinforcements and reserves. So, to the sovereign soon arrived the troops of his brothers - Andrew and Boris. The Ugra River was weaker than the Oka River, which gave Tatar troops more opportunities to break through. The stake in Kremenets allowed directing reserves to the area that was under threat.
The main forces of the Russian army under the authority of the son of the Grand Duke Ivan Ivanovich Little were concentrated in the Kaluga region, covering the mouth of the Ugra. It was the most dangerous place. The remaining forces were placed along the entire lower course of the Ugra, on the Russian-Lithuanian border. As a result, Russian troops covered 100 versts along the Oka and 60 versts along the Ugra. Infantry - "pishtilniki" and "pososhnye people", was located in places convenient for the crossing. Fortifications were built there, which had permanent garrisons. The “pishchalnikov” had long-barreled guns, “mattresses” (short guns that allowed them to beat with canister), and hand-squeaked. Gunshot "outfit" was already quite a serious force, which allowed the enemy to bring great damage. The noble local cavalry had the task of patrolling the coast, maintaining communication between the outposts. In addition, horse regiments should, if necessary, advance to the threatened area and conduct offensive operations, making sorties to the other shore.
The choice of defensive tactics allowed the Russian command to make the most of its advantages: the natural position, reinforced by fortifications, the presence of a strong "field attire". The Horde cavalry was forced to either retreat or storm Russian positions head-on, without being able to go to the flanks and rear. In addition, the Russian cavalry had the advantage in direct combat. The chain mail at that time was replaced with armor, “board armor”, where the chain mail mesh was combined with metal plates. "Dial-up armor" (armor) better protected the warrior from the arrows and sabers of the enemy. In tough defense this advantage was important. Mass weapon become lighter than swords, sabers. But the main weapon of the infantry was still rattles, axes, sulitsy (spears of throwing and percussion), but at this time there were long-blade axes-berdshi, it was a very formidable weapon. Berdyshe was used not only as a cold weapon, but also as a stand for gunshot "handhelds". The closed system of heavily armed Russian soldiers, who have a significant amount of firearms, had a great advantage over the Tatar hordes in “direct combat”.
Ugra at that time was a rather deep, wide and navigable river. So, from Yukhnov to the mouth, the river had a depth from 2,5 to 5 meters, width - 80 - 150 meters. In this section, the crossing was possible only through fords. No wonder the Horde and Russian troops sought to occupy them first. In the geographical descriptions of the 19 of the century, more than a dozen fords were noted in the area from Yukhnov to the mouth, there the depth of the river was from 0,5 to 1 meters. However, it is necessary to take into account the fact that most of the fords were narrow, unsuitable for forcing the river by large masses of cavalry. In addition, almost everywhere the actions of the cavalry were hampered by a multitude of ravines, rivers, streams and steep banks. The most convenient place for the crossing of the Tatar cavalry was the "overlap" near the mouth of the Ugra. The coast here from the mouth to the confluence of the Ugra River. Rosvianki was low, sandy and convenient to cross. About a verst was a big road. Apparently it was on this 5-km stretch of the river up from the mouth of the Ugra River, and the main hostilities took place during "standing on the river." There is no exact data on this issue.
The conditions of the theater of war gave Ahmed two main possibilities in organizing an offensive. First, he could try to force the river with the main forces at the mouth of the Ugra. Secondly, individual troops could try to break through the various fords that were not suitable for large masses of cavalry. In the future, they could create a bridgehead, accumulating strength for further offensive. Naturally, the Russian command took into account these data. The main forces were concentrated in the mouth of the Ugra, at the same time infantry detachments with artillery were located at all fords.
The Horde cavalry appeared on the Ugra in early October 1480 of the year. Ahmed Khan wanted to go over the river and move on to Moscow. He attacked the main forces of the Russian army under Ivan Ivanovich. Russian troops tried to maximize their advantages: against the "perelaza" archers were lined up, heavy food and mattresses were set up, detachments of "fire archers" were located. Horde was shot in the water. Behind the "outfit" and the archers were lined equestrian regiments of nobles and "children of boyars", ready to fall on the Tatars who had crossed to the left bank. The battle began on October 8 and lasted four days. Judging by the chronicles, the Horde did not manage to transfer considerable forces to the other side, the main role in the battle was played by the infantry and the “outfit”. All attempts to force the river were repelled.
The enemy army, having suffered great losses, was forced to withdraw from the river and wait for the Lithuanian army to march, or the onset of cold weather, in order to try to force the river on the ice. At this time, the course of events began to develop in line with favorable Moscow. Tatar Murza, angry losses, began to rob nearby Lithuanian possessions. Soon the Tatar troops began a whole invasion. Belev, Odoyev, Peremyshl, Opakov and other cities were captured and ravaged, all 12 cities. Some researchers believe that this way Ahmed Khan secured the rear. The Supreme Russian princedoms, although they were vassals of Casimir, either refused to support the Tatar army, or were even ready to fight with them. The Russian population of these lands (the former Chernigov principality) was more to Moscow.
After that, Ahmed Khan again tried to break through the r. Ugra. The Khan himself remained in the camp at the mouth of the Ugra, but a large detachment was sent to the far right flank, to the Opakov settlement. Apparently, the Russian intelligence was closely watching the enemy and “under the Opakov settlement” the Horde residents were met not by a small outpost, but by the grand prince's regiments ready for battle. Attempt to breakthrough was reflected.
Having suffered a military defeat, Ahmed Khan began negotiations. Ivan Vasilyevich eagerly responded - this corresponded to his general strategic line for winning time. However, they almost immediately reached an impasse, since the Tatar Khan demanded the arrival of Ivan III at his court. The Russian sovereign was not going to make serious concessions. It should be noted that these negotiations irritated a part of Moscow circles. They were perceived as weakness and indecision of the sovereign. Between 15 and 20 of October, the Grand Duke received an angry message from Archbishop Vassian, who demanded vigorous action. However, during this period, the situation did not require offensive action. The Tatars were defeated while attempting to force the river, and the devastation of the Verkhov's principalities were busy. Ahmed Khan did not receive help from King Casimir IV. Russian troops delivered an auxiliary strike at the enemy rear ("ship's crew" on the Volga).
The decisive factor for the inaction of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was internal problems - the tense relations of the king with the largest representatives of the princely-boyar families (the so-called “princes' conspiracy”). The beginning of the war between Moscow and Lithuania could have been a signal for internal insurrection. Casimir, who had information about the general state of affairs, was forced to become a passive observer in the conflict between the Russian state and the Great Horde. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the military factor of the inaction of the Polish king. A strategic reserve of the Russian army stood near Kremenets, which was fortified on October 20 with the regiments of Andrei and Boris. These troops reliably covered Moscow from the western direction. In the case of the Lithuanian campaign against Moscow, Casimir was forced to act alone. Ahmed Khan could not support him, stuck in front of the Ugra, and the Lithuanians were pointless to go to the aid of the Tatars - Ugra became a serious line of defense.
Ahmed's position was becoming hopeless. Disappointment reigned in the army. Break through the Ugra failed. "Lithuanian assistance" was not. Crimean Khan threateningly hung from the rear, did not attack, but could do it at any moment. From the Horde came the news of the terrible pogrom, which was organized by the Russian auxiliary army. The surroundings were already devastated, and the question arose with the supply of troops. The approaching winter promised new difficulties. October 26 hit frost. Horde army thawed, many deserted. To save the remaining forces, it was necessary to retreat.
When the river froze, the Grand Duke took all the regiments to Kremenets, and then to Borovsk, planning to give general battles to the Horde. From a military point of view, this maneuver was correct, the river froze and ceased to be an obstacle for the enemy. Tatars could cross at once in several places, start a war of maneuver. The Russian command wanted to give battle on favorable terms, concentrating all forces in a single fist.
However, Ahmed did not cross the river and was idle for two weeks. Apparently, he understood that to take the fight in the present conditions is an too adventurous decision. 6 - On November 11, the Horde troops left, moreover, retreating with all haste, throwing carts. On the way back, the Tatars wanted to plunder the frontier Russian lands, but after receiving news of the Russian chase (the grand duke sent the regiments of his brothers to the chase) they fled.
Results and consequences
- The Russian command won an important victory in a four-day persistent battle on the Ugra River, which stopped the advance of the Horde troops. Further tough defense on the river and the presence of reserve troops in Kremenets made it possible to create a situation where Ahmed Khan was forced to mark time, ruin Lithuanian possessions and lost Casimir’s support. The gain in time allowed Ivan Vasilyevich to overcome the internal political crisis associated with the uprising of his brothers and to gather all possible forces to repel an enemy attack. The war was won before the departure of the Tatar army from the Ugra.
- “Standing on the Ugra River” put an end to the Horde power over North-Eastern Russia. The Russian state became independent not only in fact, but also formally. The last attempt to bring Russia under the control of the Horde ended in complete failure.
- Civil strife began in the Great Horde. As a result, the Siberian Khan Ibak, along with the Nogai Murzas Musa and Yamgurchi, killed the Khan of the Great Horde Ahmed. The heirs of Ahmed Khan no longer possessed his power. The Great Horde first became a vassal of the Crimea, and then ceased to exist. The Trans-Volga lands became part of the Nogai Horde, and the territories between the Don and the Volga were formally ceded to the Crimean Khanate, which became the heir to the Golden Horde.