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Russian military force: on the way to Paul Kulikov

tarasenko I.V.


In September, 2010 the 630 anniversary of Battle of Kulikovo is celebrated. Today from lips of some scientists and representatives of pseudo-scientific circles various fabrications concerning value of this event in the history of Russia, sometimes in general doubts in its historical reliability sound. But, as for the author these problems are also unambiguously solved long ago, in this article it would be desirable to reflect how the Russian military force - the military organization and military science of medieval Russia on the way to Paul Kulikov developed that allowed it in the most severe fight to get the best of army of the Golden Horde.

The organizational structure of the all-Russian army which the grand Moscow duke Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy disengaged towards to hordes of a temnik of Mamaya became result of five hundred-summer genesis of the Russian military force.

No later than the 80th years of the 9th century in the territory of accommodation of a number of the East Slavic, Baltic and Finno-Ugric people, by means of merging of two Slavic centers of Kiev and Novgorod in uniform statehood the Old Russian state which received the name Kiev or Novgorod Kievan Rus' in historical science is formed.

At the same time formation and development of the military organization of Novgorod Kievan Rus' as necessary attribute of any state education begins. The armed organization took especially important place in political system of the Old Russian state. It was not only a cure of especially military tasks, but also one of the main levers of public administration.

Directly military organization of the Old Russian state in IX - the first third of the 12th centuries consisted of two basic elements - teams and militias.

Team - the group of the best soldiers of the Slavic tribe turns eventually into the personal military strength of the prince. As V.O. Klyuchevsky wrote, "the team of the principality made actually military class" [11, page 175].

Now most of researchers are solidary with I.Ya. Froyanov considering that "the team which left the depths of a communal system grew together with the prince and became a social prerequisite of his activity" and together with the prince "provided normal functioning of Old Russian society" [21, page 68].

Originally economic basis of existence of the combatant was contents it at the expense of the grand Kiev duke, accommodation on the princely yard.

Combatants were free people and could pass from the prince to the prince. In early ages of the Russian history the prince was forced to agree on all the decisions with team, otherwise he risked to lose the armed support of the acts. With team reports the majority of the Russian chronicles and other sources about councils of princes.

It is characteristic that chroniclers kind words spoke of the princes who were constantly caring for the teams: "Does not collect gold in a srebr, but gives to team, be bo loves team".

At the request of the Kiev prince the combatants carried out administrative, police and judicial functions in lands subject to it for what received the corresponding duties from local community.

Already by the end of the 10th century there was a division of team on "senior" and "younger". Originally it probably was a consequence of earlier quite natural division on more and less skilled, and according to the soldiers, senior and younger on age, in Slavic labor and tribes.

Senior (the oldest, front, big) the team was made by boyars or as they were called in sources of the XI-XII centuries, "the boyars thinking", - that is participating in thoughts with the prince.

Boyars were the richest, notable, socially important group of Old Russian society. Except performance of function of the Permanent Council at the prince, boyars were appointed by it posadnik to other cities, together with the prince "kissed a cross" when signing contracts. In wartime they carried out duties of voivodes of various level.

The boyars and in general the team was not only at the grand Kiev duke, but also at local junior princes.

In general it is precisely very difficult to define the number of boyars. S.M. Solovyov, having studied Old Russian chronicles of 1051-1228, established in them a mention about 150 seigniorial names.

The younger team made the main military strength of the Kiev and junior princes. It consisted as S.M. Solovyov emphasized, of "combatants of the second category, the lowest, younger members of team contrary to boyars" [18, page 320].

Studying Old Russian sources allowed domestic historians to concretize the structure of younger team. According to most of them, it consisted of "adolescents", "nurseries" and "milostnik".

"Adolescents" lived outside the prince and completely depended on him in the economic and household relation. In peace time they executed hozyaystvennodvortsovy service, managed lawsuits on princely command. The list of "adolescents" was replenished quite often at the expense of prisoners of war. About the approximate number of "adolescents" it is possible to judge by the message of the chronicle about constant presence at the prince Svyatoslav Izyaslavovich in the second half of the 11th century, 700 adolescents ready to fight.

"Nurseries" executed both in peace, and in wartime only obligations for military service. There were they, obviously, from among free, independent people. About their higher social status, than "adolescents", purpose of certain "nurseries" posadnik demonstrates - that is authorized persons the prince to run any given city or area.

Milostnika carried out both military, and economic and palace, administrative and others, but always responsible missions of the prince also were his favourites, he appropriated much of them a seigniorial title subsequently.

Drawing a conclusion about number are amicable in general, V.O. Klyuchevsky wrote: "Seniors and rich junior princes removed in the field both on two and three thousand people of team" [11, page 206].

The academician B.A. Rybakov believed that team number at certain princes reached 3 thousand ratnik [17, page 403].

The second element of the military organization of Novgorod Kievan Rus' - a militia.

It was convoked by the prince and vechy for conducting big both defensive, and offensive wars. The militia made big, in the numerical relation, a part of Old Russian army.

The militia consisted from "воев". They were taken from urban and country people.

Some historians, for example A.A. Strokov, more inclined to a thought that the militia consisted, generally of citizens, and smerdy-community members only in exceptional cases came off agricultural work [19, page 161].

Each city exposed the militia which was called "one thousand", organizationally it consisted of hundreds and dozens. Such division was characteristic also of urban population in the conditions of peace time.

At the end of the 10th century, the term "regiment" meaning separately acting army begins to be applied to a militia. The militia exposed from various cities began to be called: The Kiev regiment, the Novgorod regiment, etc.

the Regiment was not unit of organizational creation of army, and its number varied in very wide limits.

The veche chose "tysyatsky" which was the chief voivode over a militia and was approved by the prince.

Also mercenaries were a part of the Russian army of this period. The Novgorod and first Kiev princes actively used in external wars and in race for power hired Varangian (from the Scandinavian and Baltic people) groups. Their total number, as a rule, did not exceed one thousand people.

In the XI-XII centuries the main force of mercenaries of the Kiev power was made by a cavalry from among Cumans and "black hoods". So in Russia the few nomadic people living in the South Russian steppes called by the general name: berendeev, torok, etc. The number of this hired cavalry reached 20 and more than thousands of people.

If to try to determine the total number of military force of ancient Russia, then will be obviously correct to agree with opinion of B.A. Rybakov who noted that more than 50 thousand soldiers were involved in major wars in the IX-XII centuries sometimes separate fighting was conducted with the smaller number of soldiers - 1 - 2 thousand [17, page 404].

From the second half of the 12th century. Russian lands enter the new period of the history - the fragmentation period.

During this period demonstrates activity of combat operations in the territory of the Russian principalities calculations of the Russian historian of the 19th century N.S. Golitsyn, sde-

lanny on the basis of the analysis of chronicles, according to which only Northeast Russia during the period since the 12th century to the middle

Took out 160 external wars 16th century, including 45 with Tatars, 41 with Lithuanians, 30 with the Livonian knights, the others with Swedes, the Volga Bulgars and others and also 90 internal wars [5, page 147].

The processes proceeding in economic, social and political spheres of life of Russian lands at this time caused gradual loss by team of its situation as bases of the Russian military force.

In the IX-X centuries there were vassal relations between princes and boyars based on grant by princes to the boyars for service of the right to collect a tribute from certain areas of the Old Russian state. In the 11th century seigniorial vassalitt is based already on the right of feeding, that is receiving from the prince of a payment for service in a natural and monetary form, for example, from the population of the city in which the boyar is a posadnik. And also assignments for execution of any other administrative, judicial or other duties.

To life of Russian lands comes from the end of the XII century vassalitt, based on land grants to boyars from the prince for service. Boyars become private owners of the hereditary ancestral lands and gradually gain considerable economic independence and independence of princes.

Approximately during the same period the junior combatants who did not become land owners are transformed to the princely yard and begin to be called as noblemen. Receiving from princes for the service an earth plot in conditional possession (originally only for service) for life, they became less related to the prince in the household relation, but more dependent on it in economic as when changing the prince they lost means of livelihood as the estate (the land salary for service so began to be called) was not their property, and was only possession.

Noblemen, the first mention of whom contains in the Lavrentyevsky chronicle under 1175, had palace and economic and military purpose and completely were in rigid economic and personal dependence on the princes.

They received not a share from spoils of war and various assignments any more, and, determined individually by the prince, contents. Noblemen ceased to have former independence and independence of the combatant.

Similar processes proceeded also in seigniorial teams. Combatants began to receive also for service of the estate and to be called as noblemen or "seigniorial children", to depend completely on the mister and to make the seigniorial yard.

The yard of the great Vladimir, and then Moscow prince, the princely yards of specific, office and other princes and also the seigniorial yards began to make, along with a militia voyev, the main military force of Russian lands which in the period of fragmentation often had to bare weapon both in fight against overseas aggressors, and during princely intestine wars.

In such structure the Russian military force left in the field of Kulikovo for fight with Mamayem.

The dispersion of opinions of representatives of various generations of domestic historians on the number of the integrated host of Russian lands and the Horde army is very broad [3]. It is represented that taking into account various factors it is possible speaks approximately about 35 - 40 thousand Russian soldiers and 45-55 thousand ordynets.

In the IX-XIV centuries not only the organizational structure of the Russian military force, but also its structure, features of fighting application and arms progressively developed.

First of all it is necessary to consider as the ratio of a cavalry and infantry changed.

During an initial stage the pedestrian soldiers made not only the majority of a militia, but also a considerable part of princely teams. In the IX century of war-peshtsy were the main force of princely team, especially in the distant campaigns made on lodiya. At the same time many contemporaries noted that princely combatants moved also on horses.

The Byzantine sources in which it is mentioned that in decisive fight at Dorostole in 971 g the prince Svyatoslav, seeking to enhance power of the few army, ordered to all horse combatants to take the place in a pedestrian system of the Russian army - walls testify to a role of pedestrian combatants. The wall with success reflected all attacks of a heavy Byzantine cavalry-tafraktov including personal guard of the emperor "immortal" [12].

And some scientists, based on the same Byzantine sources believe that before fight at Dorostole the Byzantines at all never saw horse russ in the battlefield [16, page 40].

Since the end of the X century, in process of strengthening of an impact of nomads the role and number of a cavalry increases including at the expense of mercenaries.

After the death of the prince Svyatoslav his sons Yaropolk and Oleg during interstine fights applied mainly horse teams.

To the 987th Vladimir with the uncle Dobrynya made on lodiya a campaign on the Volga Bulgarians, but on the coast there was an allied torchessky cavalry.

In 1042 Vladimir Yaroslavich went to Yam on horses. At the same time, the infantry, as a rule, always assumed the main blow of the opponent and when he got stuck in its fighting orders, the cavalry struck a blow to the flank and the back of the enemy.

Only in 1024, according to the chronicle, the horse team of the prince Mstislav Tmutarakansky struck a blow to the front to the opponent.

Often, in case of failure of a cavalry, it was put off from horses and thrown on the opponent in a pedestrian system. So Novgorodians won Rostov - the Suzdal princes in 1096 on the Kolakche River.

with Cumans H_ - X ІІ centuries the cavalry role even more increased In fights, but princes did not risk to leave it in the battlefield without infantry. For example, Vladimir Monomakh's cavalry passed a day 50 km., and his team - 120 km. The prince put infantry on the sleigh and provided it the same rate of movement.

The truth some domestic scientists believed, as in X ІІ century the infantry continued to make the main force of army and to play a crucial role in battles [15, page 211]. However they have also opponents considering that up to Battle of Kulikovo, the infantry on the contrary did not act actively on the battlefield [16, page 124].

Studying various historical literature, it is possible to draw a conclusion that up to the 15th century of a victory in fight the Russian commanders reached joint blow of a cavalry and infantry, when maintaining value of the last, unlike knightly Europe. It received in sources of ò-ò ІІІ centuries the name of "the Russian fight".

A striking example of application of the Russian fight was the well-known Battle on the ice on April 5, 1242 in which a heavy knightly cavalry and hired infantry of the Livonian award, in total about 12 thousand soldiers resisted to 15 - 17 thousand Russians, generally pedestrian, ratnik.

Alexander Nevsky covered the horse team behind the Vorony stone on one of army wings therefore knights saw before themselves generally pedestrian army of Russians. According to Germans, the pedestrian army had to run

at one type of a knightly cavalry. It could not but just leave, the Charter of knightly order of knights templars known for the severity allowed the pedestrian bollards which were left on the battlefield without cover of a cavalry to escape, and statutes of the Teutonic Order in general forbade use of infantry against a cavalry.

But the Novgorod heavy infantry, most likely tyazhelovooruzhenny, met blow of knights by the shooters, and then constrained an impact of their knightly wedge. What the Battle on the ice ended with everything with is well known - losses of Lebanese were about 1/4 or 1/3 all German armies.

Many domestic historians not without justification considered, as in Battle of Kulikovo coordinated actions of a cavalry and infantry including tyazhelovooruzhenny, played a crucial role in achievement of a victory, the infantry of the advanced and big regiments reflected an impact of the main forces of Mamaya and connected them by fight, having allowed the Russian commanders to strike a blow with a zasadny regiment to the flank and the back of the opponent [13, page 109 - 112; 14, page 12 - 13; 22, page 11 - 14].

In the XII-XIII centuries the structure of horse army changed. Uniform horse force is divided into heavy and easy. The heavy cavalry was made by the senior princely and seigniorial combatants, and then noblemen. Riders and partly horses were protected by an armor. They were armed a spear as weapon of the first blow, swords or heavy sabers, massive boards. For infighting fighting axes, maces, shestoper and kisten were also actively used.

B.A. Rybakov notes that from 12th century (1172 - the first mention in chronicles) the heavy cavalry is organizationally and tactically subdivided on "Spear", each of which was made by the senior combatants with the adolescents [17, page 404]. The number of the Russian spear is definitely not known, and here the number of the Western European knightly spear in the XIV-XV centuries was 3 - 4 people [4, page 28]. The number of copies in the battlefield, as a rule, reached 300 - 400.

Each separate horse team and a host consisting of copies had the banner, was called as "Banner" and could carry out independent tasks. The quantity of banners in fight fluctuated from 5 to 17 from each party.

In the Russian sources of the 14th century the heavy cavalry was also called "The forged host".

The easy cavalry was made by the Sagittariuses armed with onions and sabers. Often after firing of the opponent they dismounted and took the place in fighting orders of infantry.

On the 500-year way of the Russian military force from walls of Tsargrad and Dorostol to Paul Kulikov also fighting orders in the battlefield were improved.

In the X century "wall" - that is, the phalanx consisting of 10 - 20 ranks with the front to 500 meters, sometimes with not numerous cavalry on flanks was the main fighting order of russ. Gradually increased length of copies of each rank did a wall formidable for a heavy cavalry. Archers and prashchnik acted ahead or in wall intervals. Such construction allowed to engage at the same time to action the bigger number of soldiers, than at construction by a column which, apparently, existed at Slavs during earlier period.

According to the military historian A.A. Strokov already in 971 g near Dorostol in the Russian army there was the second line from among a speshenny cavalry that prevented Byzantines to carry out coverage of a host of Svyatoslav [19, page 169].

At the same time in ancient drawings the image of wedge-shaped creation of princely team meets. The historian N.S. Golitsyn pointed to such fighting order [5, page 37].

In H_ - X ІІ centuries, in process of increase in the striking properties of throwing weapon and total number of soldiers, the fighting order of the Russian army is dismembered on three parts: the forehead and two wings making a polchny row. But the regiment had no certain structure yet. In H_ century in a forehead of army mercenaries and when the opponent got stuck in their fighting orders, the Russian soldiers who are on flanks were often put (in wings) struck a blow to it and carried out its defeat.

Over time elements of a similar fighting order began to be called as regiments.

In X ІІ century the name "big regiment", "regiment of the left hand", "regiment of the right hand" is meant already constant making a fighting order of the Russian army in the battlefield, their number reaching 1-1.5 thousand people becomes more stable also.

At some historians the point of view eats that in the north, in Novgorod against the closed ranks of the German, Swedish knights the close system which often had the form of the return corner remained longer. Such corner built three regiments of Alexander Nevsky in the Battle on the ice that page 59 - 60 allowed it to strike a crushing blow to flanks of knightly army after it "got stuck" in an edge of a corner of a big regiment [16].

Most of historians believe that further increase in regiments - to five, that is, emergence of the advanced and sentry regiments happened in the second half of HP in

Further creation of a fighting order became complicated, and the quantity of its elements increased. The partition of army on shelves increased maneuverability and fighting force of army, gave the chance if necessary to strengthen flanks at the expense of the center and vice versa, to carry out deep coverage of flanks of the opponent.

In Battle of Kulikovo the fighting order of the Russian army consisted already of 7 regiments: sentry, advanced, big, right hand, left hand, reserve, zasadny. And Dmitry Donskoy, realizing the principle of concentration of forces on the direction of the main blow, allocated in a zasadny regiment, most likely, up to 2/3 all the cavalries.

Thus, the organization, structure, and a fighting order of the Russian army which left in the field Kulikovo were result of long genesis of the Russian military force.

The aforesaid can fully be carried also to arms of the Russian soldiers.

On arms of Old Russian army in the IX-XII centuries consisted: swords, sabers, wide fighting knives, fighting axes, maces, kisten, shestoper, throwing and long spear, onions and arrows, helmets, metal and leather armor, boards, fighting bear spears.

The Russian swords of the IX-X centuries had a heavy direct blade up to 90 cm long and intended for drawing, first of all, the cutting blows by pedestrian soldiers.

Swords were considered as terrible weapon, caused respect in other people and were highly appreciated by them.

The Lavrentyevsky chronicle reports that, having come for the first time to Russian lands, Khazars demanded a tribute from glades. To a glade, having conferred, gave them a tribute on a sword from smoke, that is from each Polyansky dwelling.

Having seen a Slavic tribute, Hazaria elders told the Kagan (Supreme governor): "The tribute that, a knyazha is not kind: we found out for it weapon, sharp only on the one hand - sabers, and at these weapon two-edged - swords: they will begin to collect sometime a tribute both from us, and from other lands" [6, page 170].

The famous researcher of Old Russian weapon A.V. Artsikhovsky in confirmation of appreciation given by contemporaries to the Russian sword gives the following interesting fact: "The residents of the large Transcaucasian city Bør-daa who were attacked by the Russian troops in 943 - 944 after their leaving began to break off the Russian graves to get swords" [2, page 419].

In the XI-XII centuries when a considerable part of the Russian army became horse, the sword became longer and was stronger narrowed by the end. It gave the chance to strike more effective blows including pricking, being on a horse.

The saber is known at nomads of the southern Russian steppes in the 9th century, but it did not sustain the competition to a sword.

It is possible to say with confidence that till 13th century in Russia the sword dominated. So, in annalistic episodes of the XII-XIII centuries the sword will be mentioned by 52 times, and a saber only 10; on miniatures of the Radzivillovsky chronicle 220 swords and 144 sabers are drawn [1, page 20]. At the same time, in the XIII-XIV centuries the saber had sufficient wide circulation [8, page 63].

The saber, apparently, was borrowed by the Russian soldiers nomads and was used first of all also against a steppe cavalry. It gave the chance to put the blow long cutting, but not cutting providing deep defeat of poorly protected soldier nomad. The saber was weapon of horse soldier conducting a battle in movements with the high speed as its curved edge provided longer contact of the plane of a blade with the plane of a body of the opponent rushing by on a horse. More static fight of the Western European knights, as well as pedestrian soldiers, provided drawing first of all the cutting blows by a long sword.

Interfered with distribution of a saber also heavy and strong armor of the Russian soldiers doing it insufficiently effective.

Only when large-scale military operations against Cumans and Mongol Tatars demanded the big mass of a cavalry that led to simplification of an armor, the saber began to appear often in hands of the Russian soldiers.

And the Russian saber was much wider and heavier, than the saber of nomads of the 9th century, and often had a two-edged edge in the last third of a blade.

In the Muslim East the saber forced out a sword only in the 14th century, and in Western Europe - in the XVI century when emergence of firearms made unpromising further weighting of protective arms.

Fighting axes and knives were used and as throwing weapon and for conducting hand-to-hand fight. The heavy fighting axe on fettered toporishche played a special role in arms of the Novgorod ratnik, cahors wines often had to meet in the battlefield the Normans and the Western European knights chained in heavy armor.

The Novgorod chronicles often mention emergence on the battlefield with the axe in hands not only ordinary soldiers, ache also the princes and boyars owning complex art of fencing on fighting axes. In particular, in the Nevsky fight of 1240 the notable Novgorodian of Gavril Oleksich cut the Swedish bishop fighting axe.

Along with a sword - the main weapon of the pedestrian and horse Russian soldier was the spear: for throwing - it is promised up to one and a half meters long and for infighting - two meters long, and sometimes and more.

In the Southern Russia in H_ - X ІІ were widespread maces, in Northeast in X ІІІ - H_U centuries - shestoper, former not simply a close combat weapon, but become and a distinction of military leaders of various level.

In X ІІ century on arms of the Russian soldiers, first of all princely combatants, except onions there are self-arrows which came obviously, from Western Europe.

Protective arms consisted of a helmet, armor and a board.

Data of archaeological researches demonstrate that the Russian helmet smoothly was bent and extended up, and came to an end with a core. Such helmet "shishak was called. The face of the soldier was protected falling metal, an arrow, often steel mask covering all face or the half mask protecting it to a mouth. The barmitsa - the steel kolchuzhny grid covering a neck, top of a back and the soldier's shoulders was attached to a helmet.

Rather interestingly in respect of a problem of loan of arms to notice that the similar form of a helmet absolutely was absent in Western Europe, but it was widespread in Western Asia.

The chain armor was the most widespread and the reliable, not constraining the movement of the soldier protective armor _kh - H_ centuries

It is characteristic that in Western Europe the chain armor appeared only in X ІІ century, borrowed by participants of the first crusades Arabs.

A.A. Strokov believed that the chain armor which was the invention of ancient Assyrians through the countries of the Muslim East got into Russian lands long ago, remaining unknown to the European troops [19, page 165].

In the XII-XIV centuries the increase in its complexity, weight and variety

was the general trend of development of protective arms of the Russian soldiers

By the time of Battle of Kulikovo armor existed several types:

>- annulate or the chain armor consisting of 1.2 or 3 rows of steel rings connected among themselves;

>- lamellar, consisting of the steel plates fastened among themselves or sewed on a leather shirt;

>- scaly - too most, but from the steel scales finding at each other;

>- doschaty - armor, a zertsala;

- mixed - kolontar, yushmana, kuyak, tegilya in which production were applied, leather, felt, metal.

Boards in the IX-X centuries were mainly wooden, an almond-shaped form, with an iron okovka and metal plates on a surface.

In the XI-XII centuries the board becomes all-metal and often gains round shape more convenient for the horse soldier.

Studying medieval sources of our history gives the grounds for a statement mastering Old Russian soldiers obsidional tools: kamnemeta, by cars for throwing of big arrows,

In particular, Byzantine, historian of the 10th century. Lev Diakon wrote that at Dorostol's defense against troops of the emperor Ioann Tsimiskhiya Svyatoslav's soldiers, "standing on towers, threw... arrows and stones from all throwing tools" [12, page 14].

About "kamnestrelny cars the chronicle mentions Ioakimov in the story about battle of Novgorodians with Dobryney also at Vladimir and also other narrative sources of the X-XIII centuries [20, page 62 - 63].

Such is the overview of development of the Russian military force in five centuries prior to Battle of Kulikovo. It is heavy not to agree with one of the best experts on medieval Russian military history A.N. Kirpichnikov believing that by the time of Paul Kulikov "... despite the gravest economic situation, the lands and principalities which experienced mongolo-tatar disorder, military art and arms of Russians was not below the level of development of the European states of the time" [9, page 142].

So as we see, N.M. Karamzin had all bases to conclude that the Kulikovsky victory "... did not stop disasters of Russia yet, but proved revival of forces it." [7, page 360].

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