Day of Military Glory of Russia - Battle of Kulikovo 1380

Day of Military Glory of Russia - Battle of Kulikovo 1380


September 21 celebrates the Day of Military Glory of Russia - the Victory Day of the Russian regiments led by Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy over the Mongol-Tatar troops in the Kulikovo battle in 1380.


Terrible disasters brought the Tatar-Mongol yoke to the Russian land. But in the second half of the 14 century, the disintegration of the Golden Horde began, where one of the oldest emirs, Mamai, became the de facto ruler. At the same time, Russia was in the process of forming a strong centralized state by uniting Russian lands under the rule of the Moscow principality.

And it’s really impossible to overestimate the impact of this victory on the rise of the spirit, moral emancipation, the rise of optimism in the hearts of thousands and thousands of Russian people in connection with the aversion of the threat, which many considered deadly for the world order, which was already unstable at that troubled, fraught with changeable time.



Like most of the other significant events of our past, the battle on the Kulikovo Field is surrounded by many textbook legends that sometimes completely crowd out real historical knowledge. The recent 600 anniversary has undoubtedly aggravated this situation, triggering a whole stream of popular pseudo-historical publications, the circulation of which, of course, many times exceeded the circulation of some serious research.
The objects of unfair study, as well as conscious or naive falsification of steel, and especially specific issues related to the details of the weapons and equipment of Russian soldiers and their opponents. Actually, our review is devoted to the consideration of these problems.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet had any serious research on this topic. True, at one time the study of Russian and Mongolian armament second floor. XIV century. our well-known gun expert A.N. Kirpichnikov was engaged, but he suffered an undeniable failure: the extreme, as it seemed to him, scarcity of archaeological Russian sources according to arms made him turn, first of all, to the written sources of the Kulikovo cycle, ignoring the fact that the text “Tales of the Mamai Massacre” - its main source - was formed by the beginning of the 16th century, and in the absence of “archaeological” thinking in medieval people most of the weapons were a copyist introduced from modern reality to him, including, for example, guns-squeals. At the same time, the Tatar weapons of Kirpichnikov described, according to I.Plano Karpini, to a magnificent, detailed and accurate source ... 130-year-old from the Kulikov battle of old.

Russian weapons of the last third of the XIV century. not represented by a large number of copies, and images. The main sources originate from the northern regions - Novgorod, Pskov. But the center - Moscow, Vladimir, and the east - Pereyaslav Ryazansky (now Ryazan), and the west - Minsk, Vitebsk talk about a single military culture; regional differences were manifested only in details (most likely, related to the sources of imports).

The basis of the Russian troops were the squads of the princes, which consisted in the majority of heavily armed cavalry. City militia consisted of foot connections. In addition, on foot combat, the warriors also fought no worse than on horseback. So the ratio in the battle of horse and foot was not constant. Equally poorly differentiated weapons for horsemen and footmen (except for copies).

The offensive weapon of Russia included swords, sabers, battle axes, spears and darts, bows and arrows, maces and drawstrings. Swords were dominated by the European type - with a blade in the form of an elongated triangle, sharp pointed end, with narrow valleys or faceted. Crosshair - long, straight or slightly curved - with the ends down, the top in the form of a flattened ball. The handle could be single or half length. Part of the swords, of course, imported. Russian sabers XIV century. "Live" unknown. Presumably, they differed little from the Horde. European infantry bladed weapons — short and medium length: daggers, including long, faceted - “konchary”, long combat knives - “cords” were imported (or manufactured according to imported models). Battle axes are more or less uniform in shape, their surface is often decorated with a pattern. There were also axes-maces - with a massive spherical eye and ear aperture. They carried axes in special leather cases, sometimes with a rich appliqué.

Spears better reflected the specifics of foot and equestrian combat. Nevertheless, the spears were dominated by a universal type, with a narrow, flattened-faceted tip, often with a faceted sleeve. The special equestrian peak had a very narrow, square cross-section tip and a conical sleeve. The roatina for foot combat was distinguished by a huge, up to 50 cm long, leafy tip and thick short shaft. Darts (“sulitsy”) were imported, in particular, from the German states, as well as from the Golden Horde, as reported by “Zadonschyna”.



Russian bows were made up of parts - handles, shoulders and horns, glued together from layers of wood, horns and boiled tendons. The bow was wrapped with a tape boiled in the drying of birch bark. Onions were kept in leather leather. Arrows with faceted or flat tips were worn in a steppe-type bark or leather quiver - in the form of a narrow long box. The quiver was sometimes decorated with rich leather appliqué.

In the XIV century. once very popular maces with large faceted spikes disappear from the military use of Russia: they are replaced by the shestopery favorite by the Horde. Kisteni - combat weights connected to the handle with a belt or chain, apparently, have not lost their former popularity.


Russian armor of the time consisted of a helmet, armor and shield. There are no written and archaeological data about braces and leggings, although the leggings were undoubtedly used since the 12th century, as indicated by the figurative sources of the 12th — 14th centuries.

Russian helmets XIV century. they are known only from images: these are the spheroconical head-plates, traditional for Russia, sometimes low and rounded, with a low conical underside. Sometimes more elongated shape. Crowned helmets are almost always balls, occasionally the cone converges on the tip. There were no “Yalovtsy” - leather triangular flags attached on very long spiers (like the spiers themselves) - Russian helmets did not have this time. Their mention in the manuscripts and incunabula "Tales of the Mamai Massacre" is a sure sign of the date of the text: not earlier than the end of the 15th century, when this adornment appeared on Russian helmets in imitation of the East. The warrior’s neck and throat were protected by a barmitsa, sometimes quilted, made of felt or leather, but usually chain mail. To it, at the temples, rectangular-shaped naushi could be attached, sometimes two or three - one above the other.

A significant place in the armament of Russian soldiers occupied, apparently, imported helmets. “Zadonshchina” mentions “German Shelomes”: most likely, these were head-dresses with a low rounded or pointed dome and rather wide, slightly lowered fields, so popular in Europe among foot soldiers, but sometimes used by horsemen. The princes defended their heads, according to the information of the same “Zadonshchina”, “Cherkassian shelema,” that is, produced in the lower Dnieper region or in the Kuban region; in any case, these were the products of the masters of the Mamayev ulus of the Golden Horde. Apparently, the high prestige of the Horde gunsmiths masters (as well as jewelers - the authors of “Monomakh’s hat”) did not lose in the eyes of the highest nobility of Russia due to hostile relations with the Horde as a state.

Significantly more information about the Russian armor of the XIV century. Judging by archaeological, graphic and written sources, the main types of armor in Russia then were mail, lamellae and plate-nashivnoy armor. Mail was a more or less long shirt with a slit at the collar and on the hem, weighing from 5 to 10 kg. The rings were made of round wire in cross section, but in the XIV century. chain mail borrowed from the East - from flat rings begins to spread. Its name - Baidana, bodana - goes back to the Arabic-Persian word "bodan" - body, body. Usually the chain mail was worn on its own, but notable and rich warriors, because of its vulnerability to arrows, the chain armor was hooked under other types of armor.

An incomparably safer (although it is about 1,5 times heavier) was a lamella shell - from steel plates interconnected by straps, or braid or cords. The plates were narrow or almost square in shape with a rounded upper edge. The protective qualities of lamellar armor, tested experimentally, are exceptionally high; he did not hold down movements. In Russia, he was known for a long time. Even the Slavs borrowed it from the Avars in the VIII — IX centuries. Chainmail spread around IX. from Europe and from the East at the same time. The last - after the X century. - a plate-embroidered armor appeared in Russia - from iron plates, sometimes of a scaly form, sewn on a soft - leather or woven - base. This type of armor from Byzantium came to us. In the XIV century. under the Mongolian influence, the plates acquired an almost square shape, they were sewn or riveted to the base by means of paired holes located in one of the upper corners of the plate. Variations in the location and number of plates - to what extent they, like scales, find each other - determined the qualities of this armor. More reliable - with a large overlap - was both heavier and less flexible.
The Mongolian influence affected the fact that the plates were sewn not only outside, but also from the inside of the base, so that only rows of rivets were visible from above; the front surface of the base began to be covered with bright rich fabric - velvet or cloth, or good tanned skin. Often in the same Russian armor of the XIV century. Several types of armor were combined, for example, a lamellar shell with a fringe, armored sleeves and a hem (or a separate skirt) made of embroidered plates, and even beneath this all mail. At the same time, another, Mongolian, borrowing came into vogue - a mirror, that is, a steel disk, strongly or slightly convex, fastened independently on belts, either sewn or riveted in the middle of the breast part of the shell.



As the sewn legs, generally not too popular in Russia, used mainly mailing stockings. Judging by the images, the greaves from one forged plate, fastened in front on the shins, could also be used. From the Balkans could come in the last third of the XIV century. the original cover of the upper chest and back, shoulders and neck - lamellar barmas with a standing, lamellar collar. The helmets, as well as the plates of the shells of the nobility, were partially or completely gold.

In the epoch of the Kulikovo battle, Russian shields were no less diverse, and Moscow was famous for its production, judging by Zadonschina. The shields were round, triangular, drop-shaped (and the triangular ones at that time clearly supplanted the more archaic drop-shaped ones). Sometimes a novelty was used - a shield in the form of an elongated rectangle or a trapezoid with a convex vertical trough along the axis - “paveza”.

Overwhelmingly, shits were made from planks, covered with leather and linen, and painted with patterns. They, as a rule, did not have any metal parts, with the exception of the rivets that secured the belt-grip system.


Russian shield. Reconstruction M.Gorelika, master L.Parusnikov. (State Historical Museum)


The squads of the Lithuanian princes, vassals of Dimitry of Moscow, were not very different from the actual Russian soldiers in terms of the central European nature of the weapons. The types of armor and offensive weapons were the same; differed only in the details of the form of helmets, swords and daggers, cut armor.
For the troops Mamaia can assume no less unity weapons. This is due to the fact that, in spite of the opinion that was firmly established in our historiography (rightly not shared by most foreign researchers), in the territories of the Golden Horde, as well as the western part of the Zhagatai ulus (Central Asia) and even in the northern territories of Hulaguid Iran, the lands ruled by Chinggis . Those who became Muslims, - formed a single organic subculture, part of which was weapons, military costume and equipment. The presence of identity in no way denied the open nature of the Golden Horde, in particular, culture, with its traditional ties with Italy and the Balkans, Russia and the Carpathian-Danube region on the one hand, with Asia Minor, Iran, Mesopotamia and Egypt - on the other, with China and East Turkestan - the third. Prestigious things - weapons, jewelry, men's costume strictly followed the general Genesis fashion (women's costume in traditional society is much more conservative and preserves local, local traditions). The protective armament of the Golden Horde people from the time of the Kulikov battle was considered in a separate article. So here it is worth bringing only conclusions. As for offensive weapons, then a little more about him. The overwhelming majority of the Horde army was cavalry. Its core, which usually played a decisive role, was the heavily armed cavalry, consisting of military servicemen and tribal nobility, its many sons, rich militiamen and combatants. The basis was the personal “guard” of Vladyka Horde. The numerically heavily armed cavalry, of course, was inferior to the medium and lightly armed, but its units could deal a decisive blow (as it was, in fact, in almost all countries of Europe, Asia and North Africa). The main weapon of attack Horde rightly considered bow with arrows. Judging by the sources, the bows were of two types: “Chinese” - large, up to 1,4 m, with a clearly distinguished and bent apart arm, shoulders and long, almost straight horns; "Near and Middle Eastern" - no more than 90 cm, segmented, with a slightly marked out handle and small curved horns. Both types were, like the Russian bows, complex and distinguished by their exceptional strength - tensile strength up to 60, even 80 and more than a kg. Long Mongolian arrows with very large tips and red shafts, fired from such bows, flew almost a kilometer away, and at a distance of 100 meters or a few more - the limit of aimed fire - penetrated the person through, causing huge torn wounds; equipped with the same faceted narrow or chisel tip, punched plate-nashivnoy armor of not very large thickness. Chainmail also served from them very weak protection.

The shooting kit (saadak) also included a quiver — a long, narrow birch bark box, where the arrows were pointed up (this type of quiver was richly decorated with bone plates covered with complex carved patterns), or a flat long leather bag in which arrows were inserted with upward feathering (they were often according to the Central Asian tradition, it was decorated with a leopard's tail, embroidery, plaques). And on the neck, also decorated with embroidery, leather appliqués, metal and bone patches. The quiver is on the right, while the left side is attached to a special belt, which is usually the old one - from the 6th century onwards. - the steppe tradition was hooked.

The highest efficiency of the Horde horse archers was associated not only with the guns, but also with the accuracy of the shooters, as well as with a special combat construction. Ever since the Scythian times, horse archers of the steppes, building a rotating ring in front of the enemy, showered him with a cloud of arrows from the closest and most comfortable position for each shooter. Sigmund Herberstein, Ambassador of the Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, described this system in full detail - at the beginning of the XVI century. - and noticed that the Muscovites called such a battle order a “dance” (meaning “round dance”). He also claimed, from the words of the Russian interlocutors, that this line, if it is not disturbed by random confusion, cowardice or a good blow from the enemy, is absolutely indestructible. The peculiarity of the Tatar-Mongolian shooting was unprecedented accuracy and great destructive power of firing shells, as a result of which, as all contemporaries noted, there were a lot of dead and wounded from the horde arrows. The arrows in the quivers of the steppe find little - no more than ten; Means, hit precisely, on a choice.

After the first, arrows, strike - “sui-ma” - followed by the second “suim” - an attack of heavy and medium armed cavalry, in which the main weapon was a spear, so hung behind the right shoulder with the help of two loops - at the shoulder and the foot. The tips of the spears were mostly narrow, faceted, but they were also used wider, flattened. Sometimes they were also equipped with a hook under the blade for clinging and pushing the enemy off the horse. The shafts under the tip were decorated with short bunchuk (“bangs”) and a narrow vertical flag, from which 1-3 of triangular tongues departed.

Darts were used less frequently (although they later became more and more popular), apparently between a spear battle and melee. For the latter, the Horde had two types of weapons - blades and percussion.

Blades include swords and sabers. Swords, however strange it may seem, the Tatar-Mongols were used until the XV century. quite often, and nobility. Their handle differed from saber straightness and the shape of the tip - in the form of a flattened ball (Euro-Muslim type) or horizontal disk (Central Asian type). Quantitatively, sabers prevailed. In the Mongolian time, they become longer, the blades - wider and curved, although it was enough, and quite narrow, slightly bent. A common feature of the Horde sabers was a clip, welded to the floor with a crosshair, with a tongue covering part of the blade. The blades sometimes had dol, sometimes vice versa - rhombic section. There is an extension of the blade in the lower third - "Helman". North Caucasus blades often have a "bayonet" faceted end. Characteristic Horde saber cross - with downward and flattened ends. The handle and the sheath were crowned with pommel in the form of a flattened thimble. The sheath had clips with rings. The sabers were decorated with carved, engraved and chased metal, sometimes precious, the skin of the scabbard was embroidered with gold thread. Blade belts were decorated richer, fastened with a buckle.

Wounded by a saber of the enemy, who fell from his horse, the Horde, jumping to the ground, finished off with a combat knife - long, up to 30 — 40 cm, with a bone handle, sometimes with a crosshair.

Very popular with the Tatar-Mongols and the warriors of the Horde culture in general was the impact weapon - maces and mats. Maces from the second half of the XIV century. prevailed in the form of a first; but often in the form of a simple iron ball or a polyhedron. Cisteni applied less frequently. Battle axes, sometimes exclusively richly decorated with embossed or inlaid patterns, were a regional feature of the Bulgarian ulus.

The overwhelming majority of offensive weapons were produced, undoubtedly, in the workshops of numerous cities of the Horde or by Horde orders and samples in the Italian colonies and the old cities of Crimea, the centers of the Caucasus. But a lot and bought, it turned out in the form of a tribute.

The defense armament of the Horde included helmets, armors, bracers, leggings, necklaces, and shields. The Horde helmets of the time of Kulikov Field are usually spheroconic, less often spherical, with a chainmail barmite, sometimes covering the entire face, except the eyes. The helmet could have eyebrows in the front, overhead forged "eyebrows", a movable earplate - an arrow, discoid science. The helmet was crowned with feathers or with a ring tied with a pair of cloth or leather blades — a purely Mongolian ornament. Helmets could have not only mail, but also forged in the form of visor.



Great was the diversity of the Horde shells. Popular before were the Mongolian chainmail — in the form of a shirt or a hooded caftan. The quilted armor - “Khatangu Degel” (“durable as steel, caftan”; from it Russian. “Tegilyi”), cut out in the form of a robe with sleeves and blades to the elbow, had a mass distribution. Often he had metal parts - shoulder pads and, most importantly, a slab of iron plates sewn and riveted from the underside; such armor was already expensive and was covered with rich fabrics, on which rows of nests of rivets glittered, often copper, brass, gilded. Sometimes this armor was cut with cuts on the sides, fitted with mirrors on the chest and back, long quilted sleeves or shoulders of narrow steel curved transverse plates, riveted on vertical straps, and the same structure with bibs and a cover of the sacrum. Armor of horizontal stripes of metal or solid thick leather, connected by vertical straps or cords, is called laminar. This armor of the Tatar-Mongols were widely used in the XIII century. Strips of material were richly decorated: metal - by engraving, gilding, inlay; leather - painted, varnish.

The lamellar armor - the primordial armor of Central Asia (in Mongolian "huyag") was equally loved by the Horde. In the last third of the XIV century. It was used in conjunction with others: it was worn over the chain mail and "Khatangu DeGel".

The territory of the Golden Horde gives us the earliest examples of armor, which will become dominant in the XV-XVI centuries. on spaces from India to Poland, - annular-lamellar. It retains all the high protective and comfortable properties of lamellar armor, but the strength is further increased due to the fact that the plates are connected not by straps or cords, but by iron rings.

Mirrors - large round or steel rectangular plates - were part of a different type of armor, or were worn on their own - on belts. The upper part of the chest and back was covered with a wide necklace (traditionally Mongolian, Central Asian armor). In the second half of the XIV century. it was made not only from leather or chain mail, but also from large metal plates connected by straps and rings.

Frequently found in the mounds and other burials in the territory of the Mamai horde are bracers - folding, of two unequal lengths of steel halves connected by loops and straps. The Muslim miniature of the Chiigizid and post-Chingizid states confirms the popularity of this armor in all ulus in the second half of the 14th century. Although they were known to the Mongols in the XIII century. Leggings are not found among the finds, but in the miniatures it is clear that they are winged greaves, connected by chain mail weaving with a kneecap and laminar foot cover.

Ordynskys were sewn round, up to 90 cm in diameter, flat, from skin-covered boards, or smaller - 70 — 60 cm, convex, from flexible rods laid out in a spiral and connected by a continuous braid of multicolored threads forming a pattern. Small - 50 cm - bulging shields were made of thick, hard painted leather or steel. Shits of all types almost always had an “umbon” - a steel hemisphere in the center, and in addition a few small ones. Especially popular and valued were rod shield. Due to their exceptional resilience, they reflected any blow of the blade or mace, and the blow of a spear or arrow was taken on a steel umbron. We loved them for their accessibility and bright elegance.

Horses of the Horde cadets were also often defended by armor. It was in the custom of the steppe warriors long before our era and is especially characteristic of Central Asia. Horde Horse Armor of the Last Third of the 14th Century It consisted of a steel mask, collar and cover of the case to the knees, consisting of several parts, connected by buckles and straps. Horse armor was quilted, rarely kolchuzhnoy, and often laminar or lamellar, with plates of steel or not less durable thick solid leather, painted and lacquered. The presence of ring-plate horse armor, so popular in the Muslim East in the XV-XVII centuries., In the era of Kulikovo field is still difficult to guess.



As you can see, the arms of the parties were about the same, although the Horde retinads had somewhat more reliable and progressive defensive arms, especially ring-plate, as well as the protection of horses. Russian military horse armor was not until the XVII century. The myth about him originated thanks to a horse mask from a nomadic barrow (?) Of the XII-XIII centuries. from the collection of the State Historical Museum in Kiev and the finds of long spurs of the XIV century. in Novgorod. But dozens of similar masks - especially many of them in the Istanbul Military Museum, especially the inscriptions and patterns on them, leave no doubt that the Kiev mask is a product of the masters of Damascus or Cairo of the 15th - early 16th centuries. The long spurs of the European type are connected not with horse armor, but with landing on long stirrups and, respectively, stretched legs, so that the heels were far from the horse's belly.

As for some military-technical means of field combat, we can assume crossbows on both sides and easel shields - “chapars” - from which the field fortifications were composed, from the Horde. But, judging by the texts, they did not play any particular role. Ordinary weapons to Russian troops were enough to crush the Horde, and so to put on the battlefield most of the army of Russian principalities.

In conclusion, it should be said about the composition of the opposing sides. Prince Dimitri in the troops, except for Russian soldiers, were Lithuanian warriors of the princes Andrei and Dimitri Olgerdovich, whose number is undetectable - within 1-3 thousand.

The composition of Mamaev’s troops was more variegated, but not nearly as much as they like to represent. Do not forget that it was far from being ruled by the entire Golden Horde, but only by its western part (its capital was by no means Shed, but a city with its forgotten name, from which there was a huge, undiscovered and perishing Zaporozhye settlement). Most of the troops were cavalry from the nomadic descendants of the Polovtsy and the Mongols. The equestrian units of the Circassians, Kabardians and other Adyghe peoples (Cherkasy) could also be significant, the Ossetian cavalry (Yases) was small in numbers. More or less serious forces in the cavalry and infantry could put under the authority of Mamaia Mordovian and Burtase princes. Within a few thousand, there were detachments of horsemen and footless "bezmenmen" of the Muslim inhabitants of the Golden Horde cities: they didn’t like to fight at all (although, according to the opinions of foreigners contemporaries, they didn’t take courage), and the majority of the cities of the Golden Horde, and the most populous , was not in Mamayeva power. Even less in the army were skillful and persistent warriors - “Armen”, that is, Crimean Armenians, and as for “fryazy” - Italians, the “black (?) Genoese infantry” so popular by the authors, coming thick phalanx, is the fruit of, at least least misunderstandings. With the Genoese of Crimea, Mamai was at enmity at the time of the war with the Moscow coalition - only the Venetians of Tany-Azak (Azov) remained. But there were only a few hundred of them — with their wives and children — so these merchants could only give money to hire soldiers. And if we consider that the mercenaries in Europe were very expensive and any of the Crimean colonies could contain only a few dozen Italian or European soldiers in general (usually local nomads carried guards for a fee), the number of “muds” on the Kulikovo field, if they got there, far short of a thousand.

It is extremely difficult to judge the total number of forces from both sides. One can only with great caution assume that they were approximately equal and fluctuated within 50 — 70 thousands (which for Europe at that time was a gigantic number).
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