History of the Kulikovo BattleHistory of the Kulikovo Battle
The Kulikovo battle of 1380 is the most important event in the history of the Medieval Russia, which to a great extent defined the further destiny of the Russian State. The battle on the Kulikovo field commenced the North-West Russia liberation from the Yoke of the Golden Horde. The increasing power of Moscow Principality, the growth of its authority among other Russian Principalities, Moscow’s refusal to pay tribute became the main reasons for Mamai, the leader of the Golden Horde, to organize a big military campaign against Russia. In order to win victory over the Golden Horde it was necessary to unite Russia under expanding influence of Moscow Principality.
By the fall of 1380 the main forces of Mamai crossed the Volga River and slowly moved to the North to meet their allies in the basin of the Oka River. For the first time in Russian history of the XII-XIV centuries as well a great number of warriors joined the banner of the Grand Prince of Moscow Dmitry Ivanovich. Having crossed the Oka River the Russian warriors rapidly moved to the Kulikovo field. On the 6th of September Russian regiments reached the Don River by the Old Dankovskaya road. Military council decided to cross the Don River and meet the enemy. Late at night on September 7th the troops crossed the river and early in the morning, on September 8th, began to deploy in combat formation to the watershed, the place where Mamai’s forces were moving from.
Russian troops formed up the traditional three line order. The Outpost regiment took position in the vanguard and the Front regiment was located behind it. The main line of the Russian combat formation had three part division. The Big regiment stood in the middle and its flanks were protected by the Right Hand and the Left Hand regiments. The reserves were located behind the Big regiment. Russian generals, predicting the course of the battle, located the Ambush regiment in the Green oak woods, to the east from the Left Hand regiment. Flanks of Russian warriors stood close to the Nizhni Dubik and Smolka Rivers banks, covered with forests. Mamai positioned his troops in the line order too. In the middle there was hired Genoese infantry. On the flanks and behind the infantry there were troops of the Horde’s cavalry and hired warriors. The reserves were just behind them. The battle began at about 11 o’clock by the attacks of the Horde’s infantry and cavalry against Russian Outpost and Front regiments. Having withstood the first onslaught, suffering heavy losses, the regiments went back to the main Russian forces. The Horde’s cavalry began severe front attacks along all the defense line of the Russian troops. Trying to create preponderance, Mamai sent his reserves against the Left Hand regiment. Despite the hard-fought resistance of Russian troops, the Horde’s army managed to break through its lines. Left Hand regiment began to drop back with great losses. Even the reserves could not save the situation. At about 2 o’clock the Golden Horde moved to the rear of the Russian troops, outflanking the Big regiment. Thus a real threat of encircling and destroying Russian forces arose. It was the culmination moment of the battle. And at this moment the Russian Ambush regiment attacked the back of the Horde’s cavalry. Unexpected involvement of new Russian troops drastically changed the situation. The attack of the Ambush regiment was the signal for Moscow warriors to launch an offensive. Mamai's army flew. Till night Russian troops pursued them. It was a clear victory. Golden Horde troops were completely destroyed. The threat of the total destruction of Russia, the results of which is hard to imagine, was eliminated. Dead warriors had been picked up on the field and buried in the communal grave during seven days.
Christian church, its monasteries and hegoumenons (monks) assisted in faith consolidation in people’s hearts and in the growth of Moscow Principality. One of the most favorite spiritual tutors was Saint Sergy of Radonej. It was he who inspired in the Russian confidence the victory over the Golden Horde on the Kulikovo field. The Trinity Monastery, created by Sergy, became the symbol of Russia’s unification.
The Kulikovo battle turned out to be the largest fight of the middle Ages. More than one hundred thousand warriors participated in it. The Golden Horde was thoroughly defeated. The Kulikovo battle became the turning point in the struggle of Russia against the Tatar-Mongol Yoke and influenced the formation of the united Russian State, the creation of the Russian national consciousness. The victory on the Kulikovo field hastened the process of the Russian state consolidation and it had passed through the whole history of Russia as the connected thread. In the time of Ivan III the united Russia overthrew the Golden Horde Yoke forever at the Ugra River in 1480.