How Dmitry Ivanovich destroyed the Horde army on the Vozha river

Battle of the Vozha. Facial annalistic vault

On August 11, 1378, a battle took place on the Vozha River. The Horde cavalry pressed to the river was almost completely destroyed: “And our soldiers drove them away, and they beat the Tatars, and flogged, stabbed, cut in two, many Tatars were killed, and others drowned in the river.” All Temniks were killed, including Commander Begich. It was a complete defeat and a challenge to Mamai.


The Golden Horde quickly passed from prosperity to decay. Already under King Berdibek, the Golden Horde kingdom split into a number of semi-independent regions-ulus: Crimea, Astorkan (Astrakhan), Nokhai-Orda, Bulgar, Kok-Orda, etc. The powerful temnik Mamai put the western part of the Horde under his control, put his puppets on the Sarai table -khanov.

The turmoil in the Horde (“the great zamyatnya”) was accompanied by the strengthening of Moscow. Dmitry Ivanovich pursued an increasingly independent policy. He did not allow the prince of Tver to occupy the grand-ducal table in Vladimir. Built a white-stone Kremlin. His cousin Prince Vladimir is building a new fortress on the borderlands – Serpukhov. In Pereyaslavl, the “great” Russian princes hold a congress, creating an alliance against the Mamaeva Horde. The process of formation of the centralized Russian state began. Most of the princes of North-Eastern Russia recognized the power of the “elder brother”. The specific liberties of the feudal lords, such as leaving for another overlord, began to be suppressed (although it was still far from complete control). Dmitry significantly strengthened the Moscow army. It consisted of heavily armed infantry and cavalry; the infantry was armed with powerful crossbows and bows.

The Horde did not want the strengthening of Ryazan, Moscow or Tver. They pursued a policy of playing the princes against each other, made raids and campaigns with the aim of ruining, weakening a potential enemy. In 1365, the Horde prince Tagai made a trip to the Ryazan land, burned Pereyaslavl-Ryazan. However, the Grand Duke of Ryazan Oleg Ivanovich, together with the regiments of princes Vladimir Pronsky and Titus Kozelsky, overtook the enemy in the area of ​​the Shishevsky forest and defeated the Horde. After that, some noble Horde people went into the service of the Ryazan prince.

Source of the card: Razin E. A. History of military art, in 3 vols. SPb., 1999.

Two battles on the Piana river

In 1367, the ruler of the Volga Bulgaria Bulat-Timur (he practically restored the independence of Bulgaria) undertook a campaign against the Nizhny Novgorod principality. The Horde almost reached Nizhny Novgorod. Considering that there would be no resistance, Prince Bulat-Timur dismissed the troops for a round-up, devastation of the village and capture of prisoners. However, the princes Dmitry Suzdalsky and Boris Gorodetsky gathered regiments, defeated the enemy near the Sundovik River, and then overtook them near the Piany River and threw them into the river. Many warriors drowned. After this defeat, Bulat-Temir did not recover and was soon defeated by Khan Aziz. Bulgaria fell under the rule of Mamai.

In 1373, large forces of the Horde again invaded the Ryazan region, defeated the border Russian detachments, and laid siege to Pronsk. Oleg Ivanovich led his squads and gave battle. The battle ended in a draw. The Ryazan prince gave a ransom and the Horde left. At this time, the Grand Duke of Moscow and Vladimir Dmitry led his troops to the Oka, in case the enemy broke through the Ryazan land. Since that time, the “coast guard”, a permanent foreign service, was born. In subsequent years, the situation continued to escalate. Mamai’s forces invaded the Nizhny Novgorod region, ravaged many villages. Dmitry Ivanovich again led the shelves to the Oka. At the same time, he dared to retaliate. In the spring of 1376, the Moscow governor, Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Bobrok-Volynsky, at the head of the Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod army, invaded the Middle Volga, defeated the Bulgar troops of Hasan Khan. Russian troops besieged the Bulgar, Khasan-khan did not wait for the assault and paid off. Bulgaria pledged to pay tribute to Dmitry Ivanovich, the cannons were taken from the fortress walls to Moscow.

In 1377, the army of the Arab Shah (Arapshi) appeared at the borders of the Nizhny Novgorod principality. This was a fierce commander whom Mamai himself feared. The Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin reported that the chroniclers said about the Arab Shah: “he was a Karl camp, but a giant in courage, cunning in war and fierce to the extreme.” Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod regiments came out to meet him. The young prince Ivan Dmitrievich (the son of the Grand Duke of Nizhny Novgorod Dmitry) was considered the head of the army. Russian troops camped on the left bank of the Pyana River, a hundred miles from Nizhny Novgorod. Having received news that Arapsha was far away and, apparently, was frightened of the battle and retreated, the citizens of Nizhny Novgorod, Suzdal, Muscovites and Yaroslavl became proud. The prince Ivan obviously thought the same way. Unfortunately, with the Russian army there was neither the Grand Duke of Moscow Dmitry, nor the cautious Prince Dmitry of Suzdal, nor the skillful and brave Prince Boris Gorodetsky. Ivan had an adviser, an experienced voivode, Prince Semyon (Simeon) Mikhailovich Suzdalsky. But he was old, subordinate to Ivan and obviously showed indifference, did not interfere with the young prince to enjoy life.

The Russians loaded their heavy armor onto carts, rested, fished, indulged in entertainment and drunkenness: “start fishing for animals and birds, and have fun, without the slightest doubt.” Arapsha, through the Mordovian princelings, contributed to the spread of rumors about the flight of his troops and sent Mordovian men with braga to the Russian camp. Discipline and order were maintained only in the Moscow regiment of the voivode Rodion Oslyabi. His heavy infantry stood in a separate fortified camp, the patrols did not sleep, the guards drove out the Nizhny Novgorod residents and the Mordovians with braga and meads. Oslyabya promised to hang anyone who drinks. However, one squad could not change the outcome of the battle. On August 2, 1377, the Horde attacked. They quietly removed the drunken patrols of the Nizhny Novgorod residents and suddenly hit the half-drunk, resting and disarmed army.

As a result, there was a massacre. The Battle of Pian (Merry) became the most shameful abuse for Russia. From several sides, the Horde struck at the peaceful camp. Barely a small part of the large army managed to grab the weapon. The rest had already been chopped up or captured. Many drowned trying to escape. Princes Ivan and Semyon tried to break through to the other bank (there was Oslyabya) of the river under the cover of a personal squad. Semyon died in battle, Ivan drowned in the river. The Moscow squad repulsed the attack, the soldiers were armed with powerful crossbows. The principality of Nizhny Novgorod was left without protection. Having put up a barrier against the Muscovites, Arapsha went to Nizhny and plundered a rich trading city. They went through a raid, smashing villages and leading people to the full. Then Arapsha hastened to leave. On the one hand, the warlike Boris Gorodetsky went to him, on the other – Rodion Oslyabya, who gathered the surviving warriors and significantly increased his forces. In the same year, Arapsha fell on the Ryazan land and burned Pronsk. He did not dare to go further and left.

Following the Horde, the weakened Nizhny Novgorod principality wanted to plunder the Mordovian princes. However, the squads of the brave and formidable Prince Boris Gorodetsky destroyed them. In winter, with the support of Muscovites, he made a punitive raid into the Mordovian land and made it “empty.”

Battle of Drunk. 1377 year. Facial annalistic vault

Battle of Vozha

The next year, Mamai decided to punish the obstinate Russian princes. As the chronicler writes, “in the summer of 6886 [1378] Horde prince filthy Mamai, having gathered howling many, and Ambassador Begich in army against the Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich and the whole Russian land “(Moscow annalistic collection of the end of the 15th century. PSRL. T. XXV. M., 1949.). Under the command of Begich, there were six tumens (darkness-tumen – up to 10 thousand horsemen). They were commanded by the princes Khazibey (Kazibek), Koverga, Kar-Bulug, Kostrov (Kostryuk). First, the Horde invaded the Ryazan region. They walked widely, aimed at Murom, Shilovo and Kozelsk in order to block the Russian regiments stationed there and secure the flanks. Ryazan squads fought on the border, which were protected by serifs. This was the name of defensive structures made of trees, felled in rows or criss-cross tops towards a possible enemy. In a heavy battle, Oleg Ryazansky was wounded, the Horde broke through to Pronsk and Ryazan.

As soon as Pronsk fell, Begich recalled the regiments that had blockaded Kozelsk, Murom and Shilovo. He was not afraid of the Russian regiments that were stationed in these cities, as he thought that the sedentary foot warriors would not have time to approach the decisive battle. However, the Horde commander miscalculated. Russia from time immemorial was famous for its powerful fleet (ships of the river-sea class). Voivode Bobrok, as soon as Kazibek’s darkness left from under Murom and Shilov, put his soldiers on boats and moved to Ryazan. Timofey Velyaminov divided his detachment. Voivode Sokol with the foot soldiers began to go behind enemy lines. Velyaminov himself with a horse squad rushed to join the main forces of the Grand Duke of Moscow.

Meanwhile, Begich surrounded Ryazan, which was defended by Prince Daniel Pronsky. The city was on fire. Stubborn battles were fought on the walls. Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich ordered Daniel Pronsky to leave Pereyaslavl-Ryazan and on boats, at night, secretly go to join him. Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich raised his regiments and, thanks to well-organized reconnaissance, knew about all the movements of the enemy. His army was about half the size of the Horde. However, it was dominated by heavy cavalry and infantry, capable of stopping enemy horse lava with a “wall” – a phalanx. The infantry had many archers and warriors with powerful crossbows.

The Russian army crossed the Oka. The Grand Duke’s troops took up a convenient position, blocked the ford across the Vozha River, the right tributary of the Oka on the territory of the Ryazan land. The Ryazan regiments came to join them. Begich’s army went to Vozha and found itself in a difficult situation. The banks were swampy, on one side there was a river, on the other there was a spot, the Russian army could not be bypassed. I had to attack head-on. The Russian “wall” withstood the onslaught of the Horde cavalry, which could not turn around, attack the flanks and rear of the Russian regiments, using its numerical advantage. All enemy attacks failed. Then the Moscow and Ryazan regiments withdrew at night to the other bank of the Vozha. The retreat of the infantry was covered by the horse squads of Semyon Melik and Vladimir Serpukhovsky.

The convenient crossing was covered by Russian ships and regiments on the left bank. In the center was the Grand Regiment of Prince Dmitry Ivanovich, on the flanks were the regiments of the Right hand of Prince Andrei of Polotsk and the governor Timofey Velyaminov and the Left hand of Prince Daniel Pronsky. A large regiment stood at some distance from the coast and covered itself with fortifications: a moat, a small rampart and slingshots – logs filled with spears-spears. For two days the horde of Begich stood on the right bank of the Vozha. The Horde commander sensed something was wrong, he was afraid of an ambush. Only on the third day, the Russians were able to lure the enemy: the Horde were allowed to burn part of the ship’s army. Begich decided he could attack. On August 11, 1378, the Horde troops crossed the river. Two heavy cavalry regiments hit them. The Horde repulsed the attack and drove the enemy back. As soon as the main forces crossed and formed, Begich launched an offensive. Under the powerful pressure of the enemy of the squads of Prince Vladimir Serpukhovsky, the governors of Melik began to retreat to the positions of the Big Regiment. Before the positions of the shooters, the Russian cavalry went to the right and to the left. Part of the Horde thousands followed them, but the bulk continued to fly forward and went to the Big Regiment.

The enemy cavalry tried to overturn the Big Regiment, which was commanded by the governors Lev Morozov and Rodion Oslyabya. The Horde ran into the slingshots, stopped and mingled, were subjected to fire from powerful bows and crossbows. Iron crossbow arrows pierced the horsemen through and through. The Horde suffered heavy losses and at the same time could not reach the enemy. They could not turn around, regroup and bypass the flanks of the Rus. After that, the Russian cavalry regiments attacked from the flanks, the main forces went on the attack: “The Russian policemen are against them, and strike at them from the side of Danilo Pronsky, and Timofey, the grand duke’s guard, from the other side, and face”. The front ranks of the Horde were crushed, the demoralized enemy fled. Russian ships appeared on the river again, and the fleeing enemy was now being shot from the boats. The Horde cavalry pressed to the river was almost completely destroyed. All Temniks were killed, including Commander Begich. Only part of the army in the dark and in the morning with heavy fog was able to break free and flee. The enemy’s camp and train was captured by the Russians. It was a complete defeat and a challenge to Mamai.

The battle on Vozh was of great military and political importance. The Grand Duke of Moscow openly challenged the Mamai Horde. Showed the strength of his army. He was able to unite the forces of North-Eastern Russia. A new decisive battle was inevitable.

Monument to the Battle on the Vozha River. Installed in 2003 near the village of Glebovo-Gorodishche, Rybnovsky District, Ryazan Region

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *