The events preceding the battle unfolded a year earlier. It was in 1222 year. Then the Mongol-Tatar army under the command of the military leaders of Genghis Khan Jebe and Subedei entered the Polovtsian steppes from the North Caucasus. Chronists write that the Russian princes received news of this very soon. Their response to this event was stormy and filled with righteous anger. At least, the words of Prince Mstislav of Kiev on the subject of this event are known: “While I am in Kiev, on this side of Yaik, and the Pontic Sea, and the Tatar saber river of the Danube do not wave”.
Meanwhile, the unfortunate Polovtsy, whom the Mongols swiftly and mercilessly drove deep into the territory, winning, thus, more and more lands for themselves, were forced to ask for help from the Russian princes, but not in the usual way in the form of the lowest request, but blackmail. The key phrase was: “Today they have taken away our land, and tomorrow your will be taken”.
The argument was weighty, and the princes, after consulting, decided that the Polovtsy needed help, all the more so that some of them were Polovtsi relatives on the female line. The presence of close kinship obliged the Kiev princes to take decisive action (it was still not worthwhile to leave their loved ones in distress!). There was another reason for the Kievans to go on the march: the risk was too great that the Polovtsy, facing the enemy's army, would go over to the side of the enemy, and then the forces of the invading soldiers would increase incredibly!
Upon reflection, the princes decided to hold an advice in Kiev. The squad of Prince Yury Vsevolodovich Vladimirsky on the Kiev collection did not ripen. Without waiting for Prince Vladimir, the council was headed by three princes: Mstislav Romanovich, Mstislav Mstislavich and Mstislav Svyatoslavich. Meanwhile, the Polovtsy, for whom a positive decision of the council was vital, send rich gifts to the princes in order to appease them. Moreover, Polovtsian Khan Basti, a very influential person, by the way, even accepted Orthodoxy. What you will not do for the common good ... So, the council decided: "It is better to meet the enemy in a foreign land than in your own." Began to gather squad. The result was a considerable army, which, alas, was the only, but significant drawback: the lack of a holistic command. Squads obeyed the orders of only their commanders.
Having received information about the gathering of detachments in the army, the Mongols, who, by the way, had a very good reconnaissance apparatus with, speaking in modern language, professional spy agents, immediately sent ambassadors to princes with a proposal to unite and “be friends” against the Polovtsy. The explanation was unpretentious: they say, from them, I mean Polovtsy, there was no Russian, and there will not be, and therefore it’s better to stick together. The envoys listened attentively, nodded their heads, as if in agreement, but the conviction that the enemy, from whom they knew what to expect, was better than a new, but unknown friend, outweighed all reasonable arguments. The order - “to kill all ambassadors!” - was executed immediately. This was an outrageous violation of the unwritten law, which endowed ambassadors with the status of inviolable: “They do not forge or knit ambassadors and do not chop their heads off!” Having deprived the ambassadors of life, Russia thereby presented itself as a country with outrageous diplomatic illiteracy, the act of the Kiev princes was regarded as real barbarism. As a result, on the part of the Mongols, the attitude to not only the princes, but also to the Russians as a whole, deteriorated sharply.
With the second Mongolian embassy who came to the negotiations, the Russian princes acted more prudently: they were left alive. Those came with the following message: “You listened to the Polovtsy and killed our ambassadors; now come at us, well, go; we did not touch you: God is above us all. ” Ambassadors listened and released in peace.
At that time, the Russian squads, marching from different sides of South Russia, united and, having crossed over to the left bank of the Dnieper, saw the forward enemy detachment. After a short but extremely tough battle, the enemy was forced to retreat. Then, for two weeks, the Russians went to the sunrise until they came to the bank of the river Kalki.
Where was the channel of this river - no one knows until now. Versions great variety. Scientists believe that this is most likely the Kalchik River, a right-hand tributary of the Kalmius River, about 88 kilometers in length. Most likely, the Kalchik river is the very Kalka. But this is just a hypothesis, an assumption. Careful excavation of archaeologists along the banks of the river was inconclusive. Complicated the search for the location of the battle lack of at least some coins that could shed light on this mystery. Therefore, the place where the hot battle took place is unknown to this day.
Going down to the river, the Allies destroyed another Mongol detachment and began to move to the opposite bank.
Reliable data on the number of soldiers in the Russian-Polovtsian army was not found. Information chroniclers vary. Some claimed that it ranged from 80 to 100 thousand people. The point of view of historian V.N. Tatishchev is this: the Russian army consisted of 103 000 man of infantry and 50 000 of the Polovtsian riders - well, an obvious search, characteristic of the historiography of the time. Some modern historians claim that there were about 40 – 45 thousands of Russian soldiers, but this is something very much.
The number of soldiers in the Mongolian army at the very beginning consisted of the order of 30 000 people, but then tumen - a detachment number in 10 000 people headed by Tokhuchar Noyon lost a fair amount of their soldiers in the Iranian battle. At the time of the first appearance of the Mongolian troops in the Caucasus (in 1221), its number was about 20 000 people. In 1221, the advance units of the Mongol troops seized several Central Asian cities. Among them were Merv and Urgench. Jelal-ad-Din, the successor of the sultan of Khorezm, was defeated in the battle of the Indus River, after him Genghis Khan sent a chase of two tumens. Subedey and Jebe determined the direction to Eastern Europe bypassing Georgia, and again with the same number, at least two tumens.
The first to wade through the Kalku Prince Galician Mstislav Udatny. The prince received his eloquent nickname for ingenuity, luck, originality of thinking and victory in battles. He was here first. Having crossed over to the opposite shore, I personally decided to explore the situation. Assessing the balance of power of the enemy, the prince ordered the army to prepare for battle. The beginning of the battle was scheduled for early morning 31 May.
The Galician prince sent the Polovtsian cavalry forward, followed by the squad of Mstislav Udatny, turned right and stood along the bank of the river. The squad of Mstislav of Chernigov was located at the crossing on the banks of the Kalki, and the squad of Prince Daniil Romanovich was given the task of moving forward as a strike force. Mstislav Kievsky occupied the position of the crossing near the shore. Kiev soldiers began to build fortifications from wagons. They put them on the edge, tied them together with chains, and put stakes at the joints.
Then at the end of May (count summer!) There was an unbearable heat ... She also played a fatal role in the battle. The battle began quite well for the Russians. Daniel Romanovich, the first to join the battle, began to push the Mongolian avant-garde, watering them with a cloud of arrows. Those began to retreat, the Russians decided to catch up with them, and ... the formation was lost. And then something happened that, most likely, the Russian squads were afraid of. The Mongols hiding for the time being in reserve, unexpectedly for their pursuers, went on the attack and defeated numerous Polovtsian and Russian troops. In the light of the events that had begun, the question involuntarily asked: how did it happen that the Russians and the Polovtsi watched the lurking Mongolian troops in the open steppe? Perhaps the terrain where the battle took place was riddled with hills and ravines, which the enemy used as a natural defense? The hill by the river, by the way, was the place to be ... Among other things, it should be remembered about the specifics of the horse fight. The cavalry, the more difficult, of course, requires a lot of space, as well as a sufficient amount of time to start fighting, because it can’t go on the attack "from a swoop"!
In the meantime, the Mongolian commanders, who were closely watching the battlefield, noticed that the Russian horsemen, having chosen the river bank, would have to climb to higher ground, and, consequently, the offensive would slow down. Having safely hidden their cavalry on the opposite side of a hill, the Mongols, in fact, organized a real ambush. And when the Russian cavalry scattered across the steppe and began to chase the retreating Mongols, anticipating a quick victory, it was then that the turn of soldiers came from an ambush. It is not excluded that the Mongol cavalry had already received an order for an offensive. When the excited Mongolian cavalry suddenly grew on a hilltop in front of the Russians and Polovtsi, they quickly began to turn their horses back, realizing that such darkness could not be kept on the hill descent!
How it was in reality, nobody knows. It's no joke, the 793 of the year has passed since that time, a considerable time. The Ipatiev Chronicle, as one of the few sources that have survived to our day, tells in detail only what happened at the height of the battle, and relates the flight of Russian troops with the powerful onslaught of reinforcements from the Mongolian forces. The Novgorod First Chronicle calls the flight of the Polovtsi as the cause of defeat.
The Polovtsy, stunned by such a rapid onset, flinch and rushed to the crossing, bringing chaos and confusion among the ranks of the troops of Mstislav Chernigov, who were already ready to act. Mstislav Udatny and Daniil Romanovich were the first to reach the Dnieper, to plunge into boats, and empty rooks, pushing from the coast, were sent downstream to avoid a chase.
The camp of Prince Mstislav of Kiev, meanwhile, was attempting to besiege the second half of the Mongolian troops. Mstislav and his squad bravely fought for three days. They surrendered only after on the fourth day the delegation sent to the negotiations led by the voivod-wanderer Ploskyny came to the negotiations. The flatfish kissed the cross and promised that if the Russian squad folded weaponthen they can safely go home and no one will touch them. “And whoever wants to stay, and you are good warriors, we will take him into the detachment ...”. Vague premonition prompted the Russian soldiers that you can not believe the sweet speeches. But ... The heat is incredible, there is no water. Mstislav of Kiev agrees. He and the other princes with the weapon on their war horses down the path. At the foot of the hill are Mongolian horsemen. A mountain of surrendered weapons is growing ... When every last arrow was thrown into a heap, and the warriors became defenseless like babies, they were attacked by unarmed people with a whistle and a whooping. Few survived then. The princes were disarmed, tied up and taken prisoner.
The Mongols decided to avenge their dead ambassadors. They knew how to do this with sophistication and knowledge. Following the canons of the Mongolian "knightly" military code, they decide to take revenge by dishonoring the soldiers. And what could be more disgraceful than the ignominious death of a warrior? Not on the battlefield, not with a sword in hand, protecting yourself and bleeding from battle wounds ...
The bound princes were crushed with shields, and then they were danced and feasted on. The prisoners were crushed. The groans of the unfortunate were heard the next morning. By the way, historians say that the Mongols swore an oath that "not a single drop of blood of princes will be spilled," so theoretically they kept their word, following the letter of Yasy's law. But the same law demanded a merciless death for those who kill ambassadors ... This is Mongolian justice ...
Supposedly only a tenth of the entire Russian army survived in this carnage. Heinrich of Latvia in the Chronicle of Livonia, written around 1225, cites the Russian losses in that battle in numerical terms, and even very roughly, here is what he writes: "And the great king Mstislav from Kiev fell with forty thousand warriors who were with him. Another king, Mstislav Galitsky, fled. Of the remaining kings about fifty fell in this battle. ”
Losses from the enemy are unknown. Although it is not difficult to guess that they were also quite large. This can be judged by the fact that Subedei and Jebe did not continue their military operations. Having learned about the reinforcements approach from the Russians, they preferred to refrain from marching on the capital city of Kiev and retreated to the Volga. There, in Samara Luka, they accepted the battle with the Volga Bulgars, lost it, and were forced to return back to Central Asia. The next trip to Russia was undertaken by 13 years later ...