Grand Duchy of Moscow

Grand Duchy of Moscow

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The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus'
Rus' (region)
Rus' is an ethno-cultural region in Eastern Europe inhabited by Eastern Slavs. Historically, it comprises the northern part of Ukraine, the north-western part of Russia, Belarus and some eastern parts of Poland and Slovakia.The name comes from Old East Slavic , and remains the same in modern...

 principality centered on Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

.

The Grand Duchy of Moscow expanded through conquest and annexation from just 20,000 square kilometers in 1300 to 430,000 in 1462, 2.8 million in 1533, and 5.4 million by 1584. It is taken to originate with Daniel I
Daniel of Moscow
Daniil Aleksandrovich was the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky and forefather of all the Grand Princes of Moscow....

 who inherited the town in 1283, eclipsing and eventually absorbing its parent duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

 by the 1320s. The power of Moscow expanded further, destroying and annexing the Novgorod Republic
Novgorod Republic
The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russian state which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod...

 in 1478 and the Grand Duchy of Tver in 1485.

Muscovy remained tributary to the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

 (the "Tatar Yoke") until 1480. Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

, during his 43-year reign, further consolidated the state, campaigning
Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
The Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars The conflicts are referred to as 'Muscovite wars' in Polish historiography and as 'Lithuanian wars' in Russian one; English historiography uses both, ex...

 against his major remaining rival power, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, and, by 1503, had tripled the territory of Muscovy, adopting the title of tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 and claiming the title of "Ruler of all Rus'". By his marriage to the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, he established Muscovy as the successor state of the Roman Empire, the "Third Rome
Third Rome
The term Third Rome describes the idea that some European city, state, or country is the successor to the legacy of the Roman Empire and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire ....

".

Ivan's successor Vasili III
Vasili III of Russia
Vasili III Ivanovich was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil...

 was also militarily successful, gaining Smolensk
Principality of Smolensk
The Principality of Smolensk was a Kievan Rus' lordship from the eleventh to the fifteenth century...

 from Lithuania in 1512, pushing Muscovy's borders to the Dniepr River. Vasili's son Ivan IV
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

 (the later Ivan the Terrible) was an infant at his father's death in 1533. He was crowned in 1547, assuming the title of tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 together with the proclamation of Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

 .

Origin


When the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 invaded the lands of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

, Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 was an insignificant trading outpost in the principality
Principality
A principality is a monarchical feudatory or sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or princess, or by a monarch with another title within the generic use of the term prince....

 of Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

. Though Mongols burnt down Moscow in the winter of 1238 and pillaged it in 1293, the outpost's remote, forested location offered some security from Mongol attacks and occupation, and a number of rivers provided access to the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and Black
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 Seas and to the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 region.

More important to Moscow's development into what became the state of Moscow however, was its rule by a series of prince
Prince
Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

s who collaborated with Mongols and provide their policy. The first ruler of the principality of Moscow, Daniel I (d. 1303), was the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military...

 of Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

. He started to expand his principality by seizing Kolomna
Kolomna
Kolomna is an ancient city and the administrative center of Kolomensky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Moskva and Oka Rivers, southeast of Moscow. The area of the city is about . The city was founded in 1177...

 and securing the bequest of Pereslavl-Zalessky
Pereslavl-Zalessky
Pereslavl-Zalessky or Pereyaslavl-Zalessky , is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, located northeast of Moscow on the main Moscow Yaroslavl road and on the shores of Pleschevo Lake. It was called Pereyaslavl until the 15th century. The town is located on the southeastern shore of the Lake...

 to his family. Daniel's son Yuriy (also known as Georgiy)
Yury of Moscow
Yuriy Danilovich, also known as Georgiy Danilovich was Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir ....

 controlled the entire basin of the Moskva River
Moskva River
The Moskva River is a river that flows through the Moscow and Smolensk Oblasts in Russia, and is a tributary of the Oka River.-Etymology:...

 and expanded westward by capturing Mozhaisk. He then forged an alliance with the overlord of the Russian principalities, Uzbeg Khan
Uzbeg Khan
Sultan Mohammed Öz-Beg, better known as Uzbeg or Ozbeg , was the longest-reigning khan of the Golden Horde, under whose rule the state reached its zenith...

 of the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

, and married the khan's sister. He was allowed by the khan to claim the title of Grand Duke of Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

, a position which allowed him to interfere into the affairs of the Novgorod Republic
Novgorod Republic
The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russian state which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod...

 to the north-west.

Yuriy's successor, Ivan I
Ivan I of Russia
Ivan I Danilovich Kalita was Prince of Moscow from 1325 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1328.-Biography:Ivan was the son of Prince of Moscow Daniil Aleksandrovich....

 (r. 1325–40), managed to retain the title of Grand Duke by cooperating closely with the Mongols and collecting tribute and taxes from other Russian principalities on their behalf. This relationship enabled Ivan to gain regional ascendancy, particularly over Moscow's chief rival, the northern city of Tver
Tver
Tver is a city and the administrative center of Tver Oblast, Russia. Population: 403,726 ; 408,903 ;...

, which rebelled against the Horde in 1327. The uprising was subdued by the joint forces of Mongols and Muscovites. Ivan was reputed to be the richest person in Russia, as his moniker "Kalita" (literally, the "moneybag")(Moss 2005) testifies. He used his treasures to purchase land in other principalities and to finance construction of stone churches in the Kremlin. In 1327, the Orthodox Metropolitan Peter
Metropolitan Peter
Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia was the Russian metropolitan who moved his see from Vladimir to Moscow in 1325. Later he was proclaimed a patron saint of Moscow. In spite of the move, the office remained officially entitled "Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus'" until the...

 transferred his residence from Kiev to Vladimir and then to Moscow, further enhancing the prestige of the new principality.

Dmitri Donskoi



Ivan's successors continued gathering the lands of Rus' to increase the population and wealth under their rule. In the process, their interests clashed with the expanding Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, whose subjects were predominantly East Slavic and Orthodox. Grand Duke Algirdas
Algirdas
Algirdas was a monarch of medieval Lithuania. Algirdas ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1345 to 1377, which chiefly meant monarch of Lithuanians and Ruthenians...

 of Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 allied himself by marriage with Tver and undertook three expeditions against Moscow (1368, 1370, 1372) but was unable to take it. The main bone of contention between Moscow and Vilnius was the large city of Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

.

In the 1350s, the country and the royal family were hit by the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. Dmitry Ivanovich
Dmitri Donskoi
Saint Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy , or Dmitry of the Don, sometimes referred to as Dmitry I , son of Ivan II the Meek of Moscow , reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1363 to his death. He was the first prince of Moscow to openly challenge Mongol authority in...

 was aged nine, when his parents died and the title of Grand Duke slipped into the hands of his distant relative, Dmitry of Suzdal
Dmitry of Suzdal
Dmitri Konstantinovich of Suzdal was a powerful Prince of Suzdal and Nizhny Novgorod who dominated Russian politics during the minority of his son-in-law, Dmitri Donskoi...

. Surrounded by pagan Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

ns and Muslim nomads, the ruler of Moscow cultivated an alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, which experienced a resurgence in influence, due to the monastic reform of St. Sergius of Radonezh
Sergius of Radonezh
Venerable Sergius of Radonezh , also transliterated as Sergey Radonezhsky or Serge of Radonezh, was a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia. Together with Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, he is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most highly venerated saints.-Early life:The date of...

.

Educated by Metropolitan Alexis, Dmitri posed as a champion of Orthodoxy and managed to unite the warring principalities of Russia in his struggle against the Horde. He challenged the Khan's authority and defeated his commander Mamai
Mamai
Mamai of Borjigin kin, was a powerful military commander of the Blue Horde in the 1370s which is now the Southern Ukrainian Steppes and the Crimean Peninsula....

 in the epic Battle of Kulikovo
Battle of Kulikovo
The Battle of Kulikovo was a battle between Tatar Mamai and Muscovy Dmitriy and portrayed by Russian historiography as a stand-off between Russians and the Golden Horde. However, the political situation at the time was much more complicated and concerned the politics of the Northeastern Rus'...

 (1380). However, the victory did not bring any short-term benefits; Tokhtamysh
Tokhtamysh
Tokhtamysh was the prominent khan of the White Horde, who briefly unified the White Horde and Blue Horde subdivisions of the Golden Horde into a single state. He was a descendant of Genghis Khan's eldest grandson, Orda Khan or his brother Tuqa-Timur...

 in 1382, sacked Moscow hoping to reassert his vested authority over his vassal, the Grand Prince, and his own Mongol hegemony, killing 24,000 people.

Nevertheless, Dmitri became a national hero, the memory of Kulikovo Pole made the Russians start believing in their ability to end Tatar domination and become a free people. Dmitri successfully overcame the stigma of collaborating with the Tatars which had been attached to Moscow for decades. In 1389, he passed the throne to his son Vasily I without bothering to obtain the Khan's sanction.

Vasily I and Vasily II




Vasily I (r. 1389–1425) continued the policies of his father. After the Horde was attacked by Tamerlane, he desisted from paying tribute to the Khan, but was forced to pursue a more conciliatory policy after Edigu
Edigu
Edigu was a Mongol emir of the White Horde who founded the new political entity, which came to be known as the Nogai Horde....

's incursion on Moscow in 1408. Married to the only daughter of Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, he attempted to avoid open conflicts with his powerful father-in-law, even when the latter annexed Smolensk. The peaceful years of his long reign were marked by the continuing expansion to the east (annexation of Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod , colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with the population of 1,250,615, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg...

 and Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

, 1392) and to the north (annexation of Vologda
Vologda
Vologda is a city and the administrative, cultural, and scientific center of Vologda Oblast, Russia, located on the Vologda River. The city is a major transport knot of the Northwest of Russia. Vologda is among the Russian cities possessing an especially valuable historical heritage...

, Veliky Ustyug
Veliky Ustyug
Veliky Ustyug is a town in the northeast of Vologda Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Sukhona and Yug Rivers. Administratively, it is incorporated as a town of oblast significance . It also serves as the administrative center of Velikoustyugsky District, by which it is completely...

, and Perm of Vychegda
Great Perm
Great Perm or simply Perm, Latinized Permia, was a medieval Komi state in what is now the Perm Krai of the Russian Federation.Cherdyn is said to have been its capital....

, 1398). Nizhny Novgorod was given by the Khan as a reward for Muscovite help against a rival.

The reforms of St. Sergius triggered a cultural revival, exemplified by the icons and frescoes of the monk Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev is considered to be the greatest medieval Russian painter of Orthodox icons and frescoes.-Biography:...

. Hundreds of monasteries were founded by St. Sergius's disciples in distant and inhospitable locations, including Beloozero
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery , loosely translated in English as the St. Cyril-Belozersk Monastery, used to be the largest monastery of Northern Russia. The monastery was dedicated to the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, for which cause it was sometimes referred to as the Dormition Monastery...

 and Solovki
Solovetsky Monastery
Solovetsky Monastery was the greatest citadel of Christianity in the Russian North before being turned into a special Soviet prison and labor camp , which served as a prototype for the GULag system. Situated on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, the monastery braved many changes of fortune...

. Apart from their cultural function, these monasteries were major landowners, who could control economy of the adjacent region. In effect, they served as outposts of Moscow influence in the neighboring principalities and republics. Another factor responsible for the expansion of Grand Duchy of Moscow was its favorable dynastic situation, when each sovereign was succeeded by his son, while rival principalities were plagued by dynastic strife and splintered into ever smaller polities. The only lateral branch of the House of Moscow, represented by Vladimir of Serpukhov and his descendants, was firmly anchored into Moscow Duchy.

The situation changed with the ascension of Vasily I's successor, Vasily II (r. 1425–62). Before long his uncle, Yuri of Zvenigorod, started to advance his claims to the throne and Monomakh's Cap
Monomakh's Cap
Monomakh's Cap , also called the Golden Cap , is one of the symbols of Russian autocracy, and is the oldest of the crowns currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury...

. A bitter fratricidal conflict erupted and rocked the country during the whole reign. After Yuri's death in 1432, his claims were taken up by his sons, Vasily Kosoy
Vasily Kosoy
-Life:Vasily Kosoy was the son of Yury Dmitrievich and Anastasia of Smolensk. His grandfather was Dmitry Donskoy who settled the issue of crown inheritance by passing a law according to which his oldest son Vasily I will become Grand Prince after his death and the second in line will be Donskoy's...

 and Dmitry Shemyaka
Dmitry Shemyaka
Dmitriy Yurievich Shemyaka was the second son of Yury of Zvenigorod by Anastasia of Smolensk and grandson of Dmitri Donskoi. His hereditary patrimony was the rich Northern town Galich-Mersky...

, who pursued the Great Feudal War well into the 1450s. Although he was ousted from Moscow on several occasions, taken prisoner by Olug Moxammat of Kazan
Kazan
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 , it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the...

, and blinded in 1446, Vasily II eventually managed to triumph over his enemies and pass the throne to his son. At his urging, a native bishop was elected as Metropolitan of Moscow, which was tantamount to declaration of independence of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 from the Patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

 of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 (1448).

Ivan III




Outward expansion of the Grand Duchy in the 14th and 15th centuries was accompanied by internal consolidation. By the 15th century, the rulers of Moscow considered the entire Russian territory their collective property. Various semi-independent princes of Rurikid
Rurik Dynasty
The Rurik dynasty or Rurikids was a dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862 AD...

 stock still claimed specific territories, but Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

 (the Great; r. 1462–1505) forced the lesser princes to acknowledge the grand prince of Moscow and his descendants as unquestioned rulers with control over military, judicial, and foreign affairs.

Moscow gained full sovereignty over a significant part of the ethnically Russian lands by 1480, when the Tatars
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

' Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

 overlordship ended officially after the Great standing on the Ugra river
Great standing on the Ugra river
The Great Standoff on the Ugra river The Great Standoff on the Ugra river The Great Standoff on the Ugra river ( in Russian, also (Ugorschina in English, derived from Ugra) was a standoff between the forces of Akhmat, Khan of the Great Horde, and the Grand Prince Ivan III of Russia in 1480, which...

, and by the beginning of the 16th century virtually all those lands were united, including the Novgorod Republic
Novgorod Republic
The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russian state which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod...

 (annexation of 1478) and the Grand Duchy of Tver (annexation of 1485). Through inheritance, Ivan was able to control the important Principality of Ryazan, and the princes of Rostov
Rostov
Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

 and Yaroslavl' subordinated themselves to him. The northwestern city of Pskov
Pskov Republic
Pskov, known at various times as the Principality of Pskov or the Pskov Republic , was a medieval state on the south shore of Lake Pskov. The capital city, also named Pskov, was located at the southern end of the Peipus–Pskov Lake system at the southeast corner of Ugandi, about southwest of...

 consisting of city and few lands surrounding it remained independent in this period, but Ivan's son, Vasili III
Vasili III of Russia
Vasili III Ivanovich was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil...

 (r. 1505–33), later conquered it.

Having consolidated the core of Russia under his rule, Ivan III became the first Moscow ruler to adopt the titles of tsar and "Ruler of all Rus'". Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival Lithuania for control over some of the semi-independent former principalities of Kievan Rus' in the upper Dnieper and Donets river basins. Through the defections of some princes, border skirmishes, and a long, inconclusive war with Lithuania that ended only in 1503, Ivan III was able to push westward, and Moscow state tripled in size under his rule.

The reign of the tsars started officially with Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

 (Ivan the Terrible), the first monarch to be crowned Tsar of Russia, but in practice it started with Ivan III, who completed centralization of the state (traditionally known as the gathering of the Russian lands) at the same time as Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 did the same in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

.

Court


The court of the Moscow princes combined ceremonies and customs inherited from Kievan Rus with those imported from the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

. Some traditional Russian offices, like that of tysyatsky
Tysyatsky
Tysyatsky was a military leader in Ancient Rus, who commanded a people's volunteer army called тысяча...

 and veche
Veche
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.In Novgorod, where the veche acquired the greatest prominence, the veche was broadly similar to the Norse thing or the Swiss Landsgemeinde.-Etymology:...

, were gradually abolished in order to consolidate power in the hands of the ruling prince. A new elaborate system of court precedence, or mestnichestvo
Mestnichestvo
In Russian history, Mestnichestvo was a feudal hierarchical system in Russia from the 15th to 17th centuries. Mestnichestvo revolved around a simple principle: the boyar who estimated that his origins were more ancient and his personal services to the tsar more valuable could claim a higher state...

, predicated the nobleman's rank and function on the rank and function of his ancestors and other members of his family. The highest echelon of hereditary nobles
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 was composed of boyar
Boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

s. They fell into three categories:
  • Rurikid princes of Upper Oka towns, Suzdal
    Suzdal
    Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated northeast of Moscow, from the city of Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. Population: -History:...

    , Rostov
    Rostov
    Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

    , Yaroslavl
    Yaroslavl
    Yaroslavl is a city and the administrative center of Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, located northeast of Moscow. The historical part of the city, a World Heritage Site, is located at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers. It is one of the Golden Ring cities, a group of historic cities...

    , etc. that lived in Moscow after their hereditary principalities had been incorporated into Duchy of Moscow (e.g., Shuisky
    Shuisky
    The Princes Shuisky were a Rurikid family of boyars descending from Grand Duke Dmitry Konstantinovich of Vladimir-Suzdal and Prince Andrey Yaroslavich, brother to Alexander Nevsky. Their name is derived from the town of Shuya, of which they gained ownership in 1403. The family briefly reached the...

    , Vorotynsky
    Vorotynsky
    Vorotynsky was one of the most eminent Rurikid princely houses of Muscovite Russia. Their lands lay principally in the Upper Oka region and comprised the towns of Peremyshl and Vorotynsk as well as parts of Novosil and Odoyev....

    , Repnin
    Repnin
    Repnin , the name of an old Russian princely family of Rurikid stock. The family traces its name to Prince Ivan Mikhailovich Obolensky , nicknamed Repnya, i.e., "bad porridge"...

    , Romodanovsky);
  • Foreign princes from Lithuania
    Grand Duchy of Lithuania
    The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

     and Golden Horde
    Golden Horde
    The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

    , claiming descent either from Grand Duke Gediminas or from Genghis Khan
    Genghis Khan
    Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

     (e.g., Belsky
    Belsky
    The Belsky or Belski family was a princely family of Gediminid origin in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It later deflected to the Grand Duchy of Moscow and played a key role during the regency of Ivan IV of Russia. The family started with Ivan Vladimirovich, son of Vladimir Olgerdovich and grandson...

    , Mstislavsky
    Mstislavsky
    Mstislavsky was a Russian princely family of Gediminid origin who prior to their move to Russia ruled the principality of Mstislavl. In the following, the Mstislavsky family produced some notable military commanders such as Ivan Mstislavsky who fought in the Livonian War...

    , Galitzine
    Galitzine
    For Orthodox clergyman and theologian, see Alexander Golitzin.The Galitzines are one of the largest and noblest princely houses of Russia. Since the extinction of the Korecki family in the 17th century, the Golitsyns have claimed dynastic seniority in the House of Gediminas...

    , Trubetskoy
    Trubetskoy
    Trubetskoy , Трубецкой , Трубяцкі , Trubecki , Trubetsky , Трубецький , Troubetzkoy , Trubezkoi or Trubetzkoy , is a Ruthenian Gediminid gentry family of Black Ruthenian stock, like many other princely houses of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later prominent in Russian...

    );
  • Ancient families of Moscow nobility that have been recorded in the service of Grand Dukes from the 14th century (e.g., Romanov
    Romanov
    The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the February Revolution abolished the crown in 1917...

    , Godunov
    Godunov
    Godunov is a Russian surname.Godunov can refer to the following:Two Tsars of Russia and their kin:** Tsar Boris Fyodorovich Godunov a regent of Russia from 1584 to 1598 and then tsar from 1598 to 1605...

    , Sheremetev
    Sheremetev
    The Sheremetev family was one of the wealthiest and most influential noble families of Russia.The family held many high commanding ranks in the Russian military, governorships and eventually the rank of Count of the Russian Empire...

    ).


Rurikid and Gediminid boyars, whose fathers and grandfathers were independent princelings, felt that they were kin to the grand prince and hence almost equal to him. During the times of dynastic troubles (such as the years of Ivan IV's minority), boyardom constituted an internal force which was a permanent threat to the throne. An early form of the monarch's conflict with boyarstvo was the oprichnina
Oprichnina
The oprichnina is the period of Russian history between Tsar Ivan the Terrible's 1565 initiation and his 1572 disbanding of a domestic policy of secret police, mass repressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats...

policy of Ivan the Terrible.

During such conflicts, Ivan, Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

, and some later monarchs felt the necessity to counterbalance the boyardom by creating a new kind of nobility, based on personal devotion to tsar and merits earned by faithful service, rather than by heredity. Later these new nobles were called dvoryans (singular: dvoryanin). The name comes from the Russian word dvor in the meaning of tsar's dvor, i.e., The Court. Hence the expression pozhalovat ko dvoru, i.e., to be called to (serve) The Court.

Assessment


The development of the modern day Russian state is traced from Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 through Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
The Vladimir-Suzdal Principality or Vladimir-Suzdal Rus’ was one of the major principalities which succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century and lasted until the late 14th century. For a long time the Principality was a vassal of the Mongolian Golden Horde...

 and Moscow Duchy to Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

, and then, the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. The Moscow Duchy drew people and wealth to the northeastern part of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

; established trade links to the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

, and the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and to Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

; and created a highly centralized and autocratic
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

 political system. The political traditions established in Muscovy, therefore, exerted a powerful influence on the future development of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n society.

See also

  • List of Russian rulers
  • Tsardom of Russia
    Tsardom of Russia
    The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

  • Muscovite Manorialism
    Muscovite Manorialism
    - Origins of Russian/Muscovite Manorialism :At the passing of the first millennium AD, Europe was experiencing the full effects of the order and advances in social structure begun during the early Middle Ages; however, the structure and development offered by medieval European society were not...

  • Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
    Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
    The Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars The conflicts are referred to as 'Muscovite wars' in Polish historiography and as 'Lithuanian wars' in Russian one; English historiography uses both, ex...


Further reading

  • Chester Dunning
    Chester Dunning
    Chester S.L. Dunning is an American professor of Russian and European history at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.-Biography:...

    - The Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Muscovy: A Seventeenth Century French Account