Russian history 42. Reasons for the rise of Moscow

As we have seen before (see chapter 36), in the times of the Mongol occupation the appanage system appeared in Vladimir-Suzdal principality. This system was dismantled after the rise of the duchy of Moscow.

Muscovy as a separate duchy appeared in the second half of XIII century. The city of Moscow was founded by knyaz Yuri Dolgorukiy, son of Vladimir Monomakh. For the first time Moscow was mentioned in the chronicles in 1147 and then in 1156 and 1176, under the names Moscov, Kuchkovo and Moskva. Originally, Moscow was a fortress, erected on the southern border of Suzdal principality to protect it from the attacks from Ryazan and Chernigov. When Batu khan went from Ryazan to Suzdal and Vladimir, first of all he took Moscow, which blocked the way to these cities. Knyaz Alexander Nevsky gave Moscow to his younger son Daniil as an appanage.

The first reason for the rise of Moscow was its special geographic position. Moscow was located at the junction of roads leading from southern Russia to northern Russia and from Ryazan to Novgorod. The settlers moving from the southern lands northwards passed Moscow and many of them stayed there. The population of the Moscow principality grew fast, and this increased the incomes of the knyaz of Moscow. On the other hand, river Moscow was a waterway connecting the upper Volga and the middle Oka. The Novgorod merchants used this way to transport grain, wax and honey from the rich lands near Ryazan. They payed taxes to the knyaz of Moscow. This wealth gave the knyazes of Moscow significant political and military power.

The second reason were the talents of the first knyazes of Moscow. The two first knyazes, Daniil Alexandrovich and his son Yuri, took the lands along the whole river Moscow, tearing the towns Kolomna from the Ryazan principality and Mozhaisk from Smolensk principality. Also, Daniil inherited Pereyaslavl-Zalessky from the childless knyaz of Pereyaslavl. Yuri Daniilovich became so influential that he decided to ask the Golden Horde for yarlyk to become the grand knyaz of Vladimir, competing with the knyaz of Tver Mikhail Yaroslavich (Mikhail was a nephew of Alexander Nevsky and an uncle of Yuri Daniilovich). Since the political struggle in the Horde was led by all means, including conspiracies and violence, both knyazes were murdered in the Horde. The title of the grand knyaz was given to Alexander of Tver, son of Mikhail. The throne of the knyaz of Moscow was inherited by Yuri's brother Ivan, whose nick-name was Kalitá (the Purse). Kalita renewed the struggle against Tver and in 1328 he finally became the grand knyaz. Since then, this title belonged to the knyazes of Moscow.


Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

That sure answered a lot of questions that I had. I have been thinking of this very subject after My wife and I went to Novgorod and saw the history there. The Kremlin was fantastic in that area. We spent two days in Novgorod and still only saw part of all that was there.


Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

So you do not like pizza with pineapple on it?? :)


Dmitri Minaev said...

It's a shame I haven't been to Novgorod yet. Hope to see more pictures at your blog. One day I will translate and post my notes from the trip along the Golden Ring -- Vladimir, Rostov, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl...

And no, I like pineapple, but putting it on pizza is a sacrilege :)