February 12 in Russian history

1446: Russian throne seized by Dmitry Shemyaka and Vasily II captured and blinded. Life of Vasily II, grandson of Vytautas, duke of Lithuania, deserves the attention of novel writers, but I will limit myself to a couple of quotations from Wikipedia, if you pardon me. "Upon Vytautas' death in 1430, Yuri went to the Golden Horde, returning with a license to take the Moscow throne. But the Khan did not support him any further, largely due to the guileful policies of the Smolensk princeling and Muscovite boyarin Ivan Vsevolzhsky. When Yuri assembled an army and attacked Moscow, Vasili, betrayed by Vsevolzhsky, was defeated and captured by his enemies (1433). Upon being proclaimed Grand Duke of Muscovy, Yuri pardoned his nephew and sent him to reign in the town of Kolomna. That proved to be a mistake, as Vasili immediately started to plot against his uncle and gather all sort of malcontents. Feeling how insecure his throne was, Yuri resigned and then left Moscow for his Northern hometown. On his return to Moscow, Vasili had the traitor Vsevolzhsky blinded. Meanwhile, Yuri's claim was inherited by his sons who decided to continue the fight. They managed to defeat Vasili, who had to seek refuge in the Golden Horde. After the death of Yuri in 1434, Vasili the Cross-Eyed entered the Kremlin and was proclaimed new Grand Duke. Dmitry Shemyaka, who had his own plans for the throne, quarreled with his brother and concluded an alliance with Vasili II. Together they managed to banish Vasily the Cross-Eyed from the Kremlin in 1435. The latter was captured and blinded, thus having been effectively removed from the contest for the throne. In 1439, Vasili had to flee the capital, when it was besieged by Olug Moxammat, ruler of the nascent Kazan Khanate. Six years later, he personally led his troops against Olug Moxammat, but was defeated and taken prisoner. The Muscovites were forced to gather an enormous ransom for their prince, so that Vasili could be released some five months later. During that time, the control of Moscow passed to Dmitry Shemyaka. Keeping in mind the fate of his own brother, Dmitry had Vasili blinded and exiled him to Uglich (1446). Hence, Vasili's nickname Tyomniy, which stands for "blind" (or, more accurately, "seeing darkness"). As Vasili still had a number of supporters in Moscow, Dmitry recalled him from exile and gave him Vologda as an appanage. That proved to be a new mistake, as Vasili quickly assembled his supporters and regained the throne. Vasili's final victory against his cousin came in 1450s, when he captured Galich-Mersky and poisoned Dmitry. The latter's children managed to escape to Lithuania. These events finally put to rest the principle of collateral succession, which was a major cause of medieval internecine struggles."

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