End of the Mongol-Tatar occupation

Автор: Maks Ноя 21, 2020

Moscow developed rapidly during the fifteenth XVJL century, all the while claiming greater independence from the Tatar overlords. The Golden Horde was loath to honour any such claims of freedom.

To tighten the reins of control, Tatar chieftain Khan Akhmat, in 1472, led a large force of warriors to the Oka River, which marked the border of Rus. On the opposite riverbank the khan was met by a Russian army of comparable strength. All attempts the Mongols made to cross were promptly beaten back; their campaign ended in failure. Emboldened by success, Grand Prince Ivan III ceased paying tribute to the Golden Horde.

Then in 1480 Ivan announced that he no longer recognized Tatar suzerainty over Rus. To put an end to such insolence, Khan Akhmat formed a pact with Polish-Lithuanian prince Casimir IV and marched on Moscow. The khan’s intention in joining forces with the Poles was the total enslavement of the Muscovites and the obliteration of their city, aiming to turn it into nothing more than a village settlement for nomadic herdsmen.

The Russian army hurried to confront the khan’s forces. When the Tatars reached the River Ugra, Russian artillery prevented them from fording across. As Akhmat awaited the coming of Casimir’s army, Ivan III held protracted negotiations with the Tatars that lasted until 20 October. With the Russian troops refreshed and their position strengthened, Ivan halted negotiations. The Tatars were then beset by a series of woes. Casimir abrogated his alliance with Akhmat; an epidemic and lack of provisions weakened the Tatars further. On 11 November 1480 the khan ordered the withdrawal of his armies from the Ugra. When Akhmat was killed in January of the following year, a struggle for leadership began within the Golden Horde. The internal strife that ensued sounded the final death knell of the Tatars’ suzerainty over Rus.

The Tatar-Mongol yoke lasted all together for 240 years. The standoff in the autumn of 1480, historically called the confrontation at the Ugra, marked the end of this bleakest of periods in Russian history.

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