Military Review

How did Sergius of Radonezh become a hero of the Battle of Kulikovo

How did Sergius of Radonezh become a hero of the Battle of Kulikovo

Almost all graduates of Russian schools know that before going to Kulikovo Field, Dmitry Ivanovich Moskovsky went north to the Trinity Monastery. The goal of such a maneuver seems to be clear to everyone: the prince went to receive the blessing of Sergius of Radonezh to his feat. And even those who do not remember other details of the battle will undoubtedly tell you that before this battle the duel of Peresvet, sent by the holy elder to support the Moscow prince, was fought with a certain Chelubey.

At the same time, as a rule, few people wonder why Dmitry Donskoy, who was in a hurry to meet the enemy, in order to warn the unification of Mamai's troops with the army of Lithuanian Prince Yagailo, headed in a diametrically opposite direction. The illogicality of such actions of Dmitry Ivanovich is obvious: from Moscow to Kolomna (where the meeting of the detachments that came out on Kulikovo Field was appointed) in a straight line 103 kilometer; from Moscow to the Trinity Monastery - 70 kilometers, and from the Trinity to Kolomna - another 140 kilometers. Thus, the "hurrying" grand duke of Moscow decided to more than double his path, which now, by the standards of that time, should have been at least two weeks! Logically it is difficult to explain. Of course, you can take the point of view of the famous teacher of innovator Viktor Fedorovich Shatalov, who once convinced the schoolchildren that Dmitry was trying to mislead the enemy. But then it is necessary, at least, to think of a way with which, in the XIV century, Mamai and Yagailo could get the news about the strange movements of the Moscow prince in due time. And this is really quite difficult ...

The oddities, however, do not end there. It remains unclear and what made Dmitry Ivanovich strive to get the blessing of Sergius, and not his nephew Theodore, abbot of Simonov monastery, which was located very close (near the modern metro station Avtozavodskaya)? And how could one hope for the blessing of Sergius or Theodore, if, just two years before, they seemed to have supported Metropolitan Alexei, who was in conflict with Dmitry because of the latter’s aspiration to put his close associate on Metropolitan -Mikhail? After all, it was to them, to Sergius and Theodore, that the next, “legitimate” Metropolitan Cyprian also addressed: “They didn’t hide from you and from the whole Christian race, as they treated me, - they didn’t do with any saint the land has become. I, the divine will and the election of the great and holy cathedral and the supply of the ecumenical patriarch, was appointed metropolitan of all Russian land, of which the whole universe knows. And now I went with all the sincerity and goodwill to the great prince (Dmitry Ivanovich. - I. D.). And he sent your messengers to I didn’t miss me, and still made the outposts, gathering troops and putting them in front of them, and what evil I should do, and, moreover, death, to betray us without mercy — taught them and ordered them. I, worrying about his dishonor and soul , in a different way, he went to his sincerity hoping for his love, which he had for the great prince, and for his princess, and for his children. He also put a torturer, damned Nikifor, to me. And what evil has he left that he did not cause to me! Hula and abuse, ridicule, robbery, hunger! At night I was imprisoned naked and hungry. And after that night of cold and now I suffer. My servants - beyond the many and the evil that they were caused by, letting go of them on the patches of broken saddles, in clothes made of hook, - the robbed people were taken out of the city and up to the shirt, and to the pants, and to the underpants; and boots and caps are not left on them!

This message, dated 23 June 1378, is concluded with a curse: "But since me and my sainthood were subjected to such dishonesty, by the power of grace given to me from the Most Holy and Life-Giving Trinity, according to the rules of the holy fathers and divine apostles, those who were involved in my detention, imprisonment, dishonor and desecration, and those who gave advice for that, will be excommunicated and unruly by me, Cyprian, the Metropolitan of All Russia, and cursed, according to the rules of the holy fathers! "1 In other words, as most researchers believe, Dmitry Ivanovich was excommunicated and cursed2. True, neither Sergius nor Theodore Cyprian at that moment did not support. As V. A. Kuchkin notes, “at the moment of a decisive clash between the Moscow Grand Prince and the Metropolitan, set in Constantinople, they did not have the courage to stand up for their spiritual ruler and condemn the sovereign of secular, but his principled line, Sergius (unlike Fedor) did not change , after a few months of charging for Dionysius "3. Nevertheless, all this makes problematic Dmitry blessing Hegumen Sergius problematic.

What actually happened at the end of the summer of 1380? Can we install it? And, most importantly, to understand whether Sergius of Radonezh really played an almost decisive role in Dmitry Moskovsky's performance against Mamai?

To answer these questions, we must turn to historical sources who brought to us information about those events.

For many decades, the ancient Russian scribes repeatedly turned to the battle that took place in 1380 on the Kulikovo field. Over time, his descriptions have become overgrown with new details, so that by about the middle of the 15th century, they will acquire the kind that fully corresponds to the current "average" ideas about the Mamai massacre. The sources united in the so-called monuments of the Kulikovo cycle include chronicle novels, Zadonshchina, Legend of the Mamayev Massacre, as well as Word of the Life and Death of Dmitry Ivanovich.

The history of these monuments is built, for the most part, on the basis of textual observations. However, the relationship between the texts of these sources is so complex that they do not allow us to come to unambiguous conclusions. Therefore, the dating of individual works of this cycle are approximate.

The earliest are the texts of the chronicle story of the Battle of Kulikovo. They are preserved in two editions: brief (as part of the Simeon Chronicle, Rogozhsky Chronicler and Moscow Academic List of the Suzdal Chronicle) and extensive (as part of the Sofia First and Novgorod Fourth Chronicles). Nowadays, it is generally accepted that the brief revision, which appeared approximately at the end of the 14th - the beginning of the 15th century, preceded all other narrations about the Kulikovo battle. The lengthy revision of the chronicle narrative, which, in the opinion of most researchers, could have appeared no earlier than 1440-xx4, experienced the obvious influence of later texts. These include, in particular, "Zadonshchina". The arguments cited by researchers trying to determine when this poetic description of Mamayev’s battle appeared were all reasonable arguments, up to recognizing the “emotional perception of events” as evidence of its creation by a contemporary of, or possibly, a participant in, the 5 battle. On the other hand, the most recent dating refers its text to the middle - second half of the XV century.

The most recent and at the same time the most extensive monument to the Kulikovo cycle is, in the general opinion, “The Tale of the Mamai Massacre”. It is known in approximately a hundred and fifty lists, none of which retained the original text. The "Legends" dates from the end of the XIV - the first half of the XV century6 to 1530-1540-s 7. Apparently, the most evidenced is the dating proposed by V. A. Kuchkin and refined by B. M. Kloss. According to it, the "Legend" appeared no earlier than 1485 of the year, most likely in the second decade of the XVI century8. Accordingly, the accuracy of the information given in the "Tale" causes serious controversy.

Appeal to these sources gives a fairly complete picture of when and why the Old Russian scribes "remembered" that it was Sergius of Radonezh who inspired Dmitry Donskoy to fight against the "godless evil mastermind" Mamai.

In the earliest narration "about the warrior" and about the slaughter of the ilk on the Don "we do not find any mention of the name Sergius. At the same time, among the fallen on the battlefield is mentioned "Alexander Peresvit", although so far there is no indication that he was a monk. And the monk would hardly have been mentioned with the non-calendar name Peresvet.

The text of the poetic tale of the Mamai massacre, commonly referred to as "Zadonshchina," is much less often used to reconstruct the circumstances of the battle at the mouth of the Nepryadva. But it was here that Peresvet was first called “Chernets” and “Elders” - however, it was only in the later lists of the 17th century, who evidently had the influence of the “Tale of Mamayev’s Carnage”; before that, he is simply a “Bryansk boyar”. Oslyabya appears next to him - and also with a pagan, non-calendar name, which the monk could not call himself. According to the fair remark of the publishers, the appeal of Oslyab to Peresvet as a brother underlines that both of them are monks. However, the monastery, of which they allegedly served as the vows, is not called here.

The first mention of Sergius of Radonezh in connection with the Battle of Kulikovo is found in a lengthy chronicle story: two days before the battle, Dmitry Ivanovich allegedly “started reading from the holy abbot Sergia and from the holy elder blessing; not least the blessing was written to him, beat him from Totara:“ To Thou art go to my lord, and help God and the Holy Mother of God "11. We find in this story the name of Alexander Peresvet with a new clarification:" Byna bryarin Bryansky "12. But the name Oslyab is not here, as well as not I mean, Peresvet is now a monk.

It remains only to guess how the message of Sergius, which is being discussed here, fell into the hands of Dmitry Donskoy. A vivid example of such conjectures, based, obviously, only on the "scent of the heart," which some authors resort to, who try to "guess what 13 reasoning does not give an answer to reason" are the arguments of A. L. Nikitin. According to him, the only envoy who could deliver the letter to Sergius to the Grand Duke was Alexander Peresvet. The basis for such a guess is a number of assumptions and assumptions, none of which is based on sources known to us: here and the assumption that the Dmitrievsky Ryazhsky monastery could be based precisely on the place where the Moscow prince caught up with the message of Sergius of Radonezh, and the fact that Dmitry Ivanovich himself could be in this place, since "he followed the initial report of the scouts that the Horde people are in the headwaters of Tsna", and what Prince Dmitry Olgerdovich could send Peresvet, and Peresvet himself could go and Pereslavl, and on the way he “could not sleep” in the Trinity Monastery, where he was “completely natural” —the abbot “could convey ...” letters to the Moscow prince ... However, the author of these speculative constructions himself concludes, " I do not insist that this is exactly what happened, but this is the only possible explanation for the fact that Peresvet was so closely associated with the tradition of St. Sergius, and the feat of arms of the Bryansk boyar has become truly epic. " Only in this way, in the opinion of this author, "the fluctuations of the authors and editors of the narrations about the Kulikovo battle between the" monk "," Chernets "and" Boyar "become understandable, because — following logic — who, if not his monk, Sergius could send to the Grand Duke "14. However, such constructions hardly have anything to do with science: the number of "possibilities" here is inversely proportional to the degree of reliability of the results obtained.

Dmitry Donskoy, accompanied by princes and boyars, drives around Kulikovo Field after the battle of 8 in September of 1380. Photo: engraving of allegedly Boris Chorikov (1802 – 1866)

The familiar story about Dmitry Ivanovich’s visit to Trinity appears only in “The Tale of the Mamai Massacre”, more than a hundred years after the famous battle. In this story, Sergiy justifies Dmitry’s delay in coming to the monastery and predicts a quick victory over the enemy, who - unexpectedly - are some kind of "Polovtsy". And Peresvet and Oslyabya are no longer just monks, but the schematakers who accepted the “third tonsure” —the great schema (which, by the way, forbade them to take weapon). Dmitry Ivanovich, according to the "Legend", does not immediately go to Kolomna, but comes to Moscow beforehand to inform Metropolitan Cyprian (which in fact could not be in Moscow at that time) about the blessing of Sergius of Radonezh — which further delays his performance on approaching enemy. Moreover, from the further narrative it follows that already on the Kulikovo field, the prince caught up with a certain “ambassador with books” from Sergius of Radonezh. What made the author of the "Legend" retreat from what we call a reliable story, and take so large a role to Sergius of Radonezh (and at the same time to Metropolitan Cyprian)?

Apparently, all these additions are primarily related to the time when the "Tale" was written - when, after the liquidation of the independence of Novgorod in 1478, Ivan III annexed not only the lands of the Novgorod boyars, but also part of the land holdings of the Novgorod church. These actions of the Moscow prince alerted representatives of the church. In the same year, a conflict arose between Ivan III and Metropolitan Gerontius over the administration of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery. In 1479, the Grand Duke accused the Metropolitan of wrongly making a religious procession at the consecration of the Assumption Cathedral (he went against the movement of the sun), but the metropolitan did not admit his mistake. Then Ivan III forbade him to consecrate new churches in Moscow. Gerontius went to Simonov Monastery and threatened that he would not return if the Grand Duke did not "finish him with his brow". The Grand Duke, who had just barely eliminated the brothers' revolt — appanage princes, had to maneuver. He needed the support of the church, and therefore was forced to send his son to negotiate with the Metropolitan. Gerontius, however, was firm in his position. Ivan III had to retreat: he promised to continue to listen to the Metropolitan and not to interfere in the affairs of the church.

The ideological basis for building a new relationship with the state for the church was a precedent with Dmitry Donskoy’s attempt to put on the metropolitan department his protégé, Mitya-Michael, which caused a conflict with Cyprian, which we mentioned at the very beginning of the article. To this end, the Tale of Mitya was included in the annals of 1470-1480-s, which condemned the intervention of secular authorities in matters that were the prerogative of the church. At the same time, the church made every effort to emphasize its role in the fight against the Horde in the eyes of contemporaries and descendants. That is why the legendary episodes about the blessing of Dmitry Donskoy by Sergius of Radonezh and about sending two “monks” to battle, Oslyab and Peresvet, were inserted into “The Tale of Mamayev Massacre”. So Sergius of Radonezh became not only the organizer of the monastic reform, which played a huge role in raising the authority of the church as a whole and of the monasteries in particular, but also inspired the victory of the Moscow prince on the Kulikovo field.


1. The message of Metropolitan Cyprian to the hegumen Sergius and Theodore // Bi6, the library of literature of Ancient Russia. T. b. XIV - the middle of the XV century. SPb. 1999. C. 413, 423.
2. 6, however, according to T. R. Galimov, the question of excommunication of Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy by the Metropolitan Kiprian from the church requires further study.
See: R. Galimov. The Question of the Excommunication of Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy from the Church by the Second Epistle of Metropolitan Cyprian.
3. Kuchkin V. A. Sergius of Radonezh // Questions of history. 1992. No. 10. C. 85.
4. Sometimes its dating "rejuvenates" until the middle of the XV century. See: A. Orlov. Literary sources of the Tale of Mamaev Poboi shche / / Proceedings of the Department of Old Russian literature. T. 2. M .; L. 1935. C. 157-162; Wed: Dictionary of the scribes and
books of ancient Russia. CH 2. Issue 2. The second half of the XIV-XVI century. L. 1989. C. 245.
5. L. Dmitriev. Literary history of the monuments of the Kulikovo cycle // Tales and stories about the Kulikovo battle. L. 1982. C. 311, 327-330.
6. Grekov I. B. On the original version of "Tales of the Mamai Massacre" // Soviet Slavic Studies. 1970. No. b.
C. 27-36; He is. Eastern Europe and the decline of the Golden Horde. M. 1975. C. 316-317, 330-332,431-442; Azbelev S. H. The Story about the Kulikovo Battle in the Novgorod Annals of Dubrovsky // Annals and Chronicles: Sat. articles. 1973. M. 1974. C. 164-172; He is. 06 oral sources of chronicle texts: On the material of the Kulikovo cycle // Chronicles and Chronicles: Sat. articles. 1976. M. 1976. C. 78-101; He is. 06 oral sources of chronicle texts: On the material of the Kulikovo cycle // Chronicles and Chronicles. Sat articles. 1980. M. 1981. C. 129-146 et al.
7. Mingalev, V.S., “The Legend of the Mamayev Massacre” and its sources, Avtoref. dis .... Cand. ist sciences. M .; Vilnius. 1971. C. 12-13.
8. V. A. Kuchkin proceeds from the mention in the “Tale” of the Konstantin-Eleninsky Gate of the Moscow Kremlin, which until the 1490 was called Timofeyevsky. See: V. Kuchkin. Victory on the Kulikovo Field / / Questions of History. 1980. No. 8.
C. 7; He is. Dmitry Donskoy and Sergius of Radonezh on the eve of the Battle of Kulikovo // Church, Society and the State in Feudal Russia: Sat. articles. M. 1990. C. 109-114. B. M. Kloss attributes “The Legend” to Kolomna Bishop Mitrofan and dates the monument to 1513-1518. See: B. Kloss. M. 06 author and time of creation "Tales of the Mamai Massacre" // 1p memoriam: A collection of the memory of Ya. S. Lurie. SPb. 1997. C. 259-262.
9. Rogozhsky chronicler // PSRL. T. 15. M. 2000. Stlb 139.
10. Zadonshchina // Library of Literature of Ancient Russia. T. 6. C. 112.
11. Novgorod fourth chronicle // PSRL. T. 4. 4.1. M. 2000. C. 316; Wed: Sofia first chronicle of senior izvoda // PSRL.
T. 6. Issue 1. M. 2000. Stlb 461.
12. Novgorod fourth chronicle. C. 321; Wed: Sofia first chronicle. Stb 467.
13. Khitrov M. Preface // Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky. SPb. 1992. C. 10.
14. Nikitin, A. L. Podsvor Alexander Peresvet / Dermeneutics of Old Russian Literature of the X-XVI centuries. Sat 3. M. 1992.
C. 265-269. Italics are everywhere my. - I.D.
15. That is, it was hard.
16. "This is your double-time delay for your help will turn around. For not now, my lord, wear the crown of death to you, but after a few years, and for many others now the crowns are woven together."
17. That is, not one attack met.
18. The Legend of Mamayev Battle // The Literature Library of Ancient Russia. T. 6. C. 150, 152.
19. Ibid. S. 174.
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  1. cosmos111
    cosmos111 17 October 2015 07: 13 New
    excellent article - with an analysis of the available historical documents ....
    BUT most of the historical documents on the history of Russia were destroyed by the Germans during the times of Pera-1 and Catherine -2 \\ Germans of easy virtue \\\

    а BLESSING AT THE BATTLE BY SERGEY RADONEGA, now it is difficult to restore all the historical details of that era ...
    1. dkflbvbh
      dkflbvbh 18 October 2015 00: 16 New
      What minus hit? Really don't like it?

      Space, fully support. drinks
  2. Riv
    Riv 17 October 2015 10: 07 New
    I didn’t quite understand what the author was dissatisfied with? Were Peresvet and Oslyablea monks? So nothing in this matter bothers them. The fact that Peresvet is a boyar does not mean anything. Many of the clergy led a completely secular life. And not only in Russia. Do you remember Aramis in The Three Musketeers? By the way, he was an abbot and nothing, fought in duels, drunk and dragged after women. By that time, the abbot could well behave like that.

    Didn't like the name "Oslyable"? So this is clearly not a name, but a nickname. And Peresvet is also a nickname, it just sounds clearer. Of course, they had the names they received at baptism, but at that time (and later, too) such names were kept secret. Another example: what does the name Turuntai tell you? Do you think that it is Tatar? But in fact, this is Ivan Ivanovich Pronsky, the boyar of Ivan the Terrible.

    And finally, the fact that Sergius Dmitry really blessed is hardly doubtful. Too much evidence of this. You can’t declare everything fake. And doubts about this are most likely caused by the fact that the Orthodox Church received such privileges from the Horde khans that it had never used either before or after the yoke. Why would priests chop the branch on which they sit? However, Sergius, according to contemporaries, was very serious about monastic vows, including the vow of non-possessiveness. So everything fits perfectly into the canvas.
  3. busido
    busido 17 October 2015 17: 43 New
    Quote: Riv
    Do you remember Aramis in The Three Musketeers?

    Greetings! That is Catholics (Protestants, the great Papal role). My opinion ... we can’t know ... and this is good, since everyone has their own truth while he is alive. And from this truth the world is built. Unfortunately, when you become dead. As you believe, it will be so. Around us, our world! How we build it, so .... Choose the future! Although, you do not choose, you (we) only accept)! We accept, the choice.
  4. vedmak
    vedmak 17 October 2015 19: 26 New
    Quote: Riv
    I don’t really understand what the author is dissatisfied with?

    How dissatisfied with what? The author of the article, unfortunately, refers to a new wave of intellectuals grown up on pro-Western propaganda. Namely - neopaganism. Remember, even under Bismarck, when our empires were still friends, they said that in order to destroy Russia it is necessary to separate Ukraine from it and destroy Orthodoxy. How many words are said about Orthodoxy by the enemies of our country, so are we ourselves there too ...
    Unfortunately, I have long noticed that on my favorite site more and more small and small in content and zero in content, but there are very emotional articles about Orthodoxy, their purpose is one - to tarnish the faith of our ancestors and split the Russian people, to deprive it of cement, due to which he went through a host of wars.
    ... and neopaganism ... it has long been proven that the various treatises issued by the followers of this movement to the ancestral ones are in fact fakes, a vivid example is the Veles book.
    And if we talk about the memory and faith of our ancestors, then my grandfather personally fought from the first days at the front and was Orthodox. And how can I betray his exploits and covenants?
    1. foma2028
      foma2028 18 October 2015 04: 31 New
      I agree with you.
      In general, when I compare such different things as the opus of neo-pagan Rodnovers, witnesses of Egova and Euro-Maidowns in Ukraine, it seems that all this was invented in one institution in the West.
      The same slogans striking with emotion and without meaning - Ukraine is Europe among the Ukrainians, Vera and Religion are among the Rodnover.
      All were stolen and distorted, both sectarians and neopagans write.
      All their evidence is YouTube, specific sites, and reference books. None of the academic sciences confirms their theory in anything.
      Ah, but still stolen and distorted by the Jews ...
      It is not for nothing that the Rodnovers say that the Jews descended from reptilians from outer space.
  5. Letterksi
    Letterksi 17 October 2015 19: 58 New
    There seems to be an article for revising and distorting the story. Can it then apply it to the author?
    1. alebor
      alebor 19 October 2015 13: 48 New
      Correctly, to hell with all scientific discussions on historical subjects, so that history is as it was approved by the Party and the Government!
  6. Metlik
    Metlik 18 October 2015 04: 51 New
    Logically, this is difficult. Of course, you can take the point of view of the famous teacher-innovator Viktor Fedorovich Shatalov, who once convinced schoolchildren that he thus wanted to mislead the enemy. But then it is necessary, at least, to come up with a method by which in the XIV century Mamai and Jagiello could timely receive news of the strange movements of the Moscow prince. And this is very difficult ...

    The author has never heard of pigeon mail.
    1. The comment was deleted.