Founding the Capital

Автор: Maks Ноя 20, 2020

In the year 1147, during one of the frequent internecine wars between the princedoms of Rus, Svyatoslav Olgovich, prince of Chernigov, saved himself from pursuit by fleeing into the lands of the Vyatichy tribe. He had lost all, was in hiding and his prospects were grim.

Suddenly he happened upon emissaries of his ally, Prince Yury of Suzdal, called Dolgoruky, meaning long of arm. Dolgoruky’s men had been seeking Prince Svyatoslav to hand him the following note from their prince: “Come to Moscow, my brother! Come bide with me in Moscow!” This simple message from Yury, son of Prince Vladimir Monomakh, was duly recorded in the Russian chronicles and marked the first recorded mention of a place called Moscow. From the year 1147 onward, chroniclers kept the history of the settlement named after the nearby Moscow River.

Moscow’s founder, Prince Yury Dolgoruky, was foresighted and exceptionally energetic. Determined to secure the western borders of his princedom, he created a line of defence by building fortress-citadels one after another. When a reinforced wall was erected around Moscow in 1156, the settlement, thus elevated to fortress level, ceased being an insignificant prince’s village. Yury was willing to pay special attention to Moscow because of its ideal location. The town stood at a geographic crossroads, with the important cities of Rostov to the north and Vladimir to the east, the latter quickly reached by river.

Although the Golden Horde’s initial conquest devastated nearly all of Rus and the yoke imposed by the conquering Mongols represented the ultimate denigration, Moscow itself quickly recovered from the original trauma. Likewise each subsequent attack or destructive fire that razed the young city meant that it had to be rebuilt from the ashes. The plucky Muscovites were always prepared to toil until their city stood again.

In 1263 Prince Alexander Nevsky, on his deathbed, bequeathed Moscow and the surrounding princedom to his son Daniil. In that year Moscow became for the first time the principal city of its own small princedom. By the beginning of the following century Moscow and its princes had become a force to be reckoned with.

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