Who ruled the lands of Russia in the Middle Ages?
If, before the invasion of Tatars, Rus consisted of large principalities (Rostov-Suzdal, Novgorod, Kiev, Ryazan, Smolensk, Chernigov and others), with the beginning of vassal dependence, the specific princes were able to design their cities as independent hereditary fiefdoms.
And they immediately took advantage of it.
The collapse of the Old Russian state and Lithuania
Thus, full-fledged independent states appeared, the number of which soon began to be measured in dozens. And although formally Vladimir was considered the eldest among the princes, everyone understood - the real sovereignty is in the Horde. And independent princes can do what they want in their domains, regardless of traditions and seniority.
Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas - the founder of the dynasty
In the XIV century began the rapid rise of Lithuania. Despite its name, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was created in the Old Russian lands and had the same attitude to the indigenous ethnic Lithuania.- Samogitia and Aukshaitiya - like the Russian principalities to the Finno-Ugrians, who once inhabited the expanses of North-Eastern Russia.If in the ancient Russian princedoms Rurikovichi remained in power, then in Lithuania their own Gediminovich dynasty appeared.
The ruling family, apparently, came from the tribal princes Yatvyagov, who at that time had the glory of real savages and robbers.
In general, in the Middle Ages, when everyone enthusiastically cut each other, only people with a special temperament could get a reputation as robbers. Yatvyagi just could boast of it.
The militancy of the Lithuanian Gediminas became an important factor in their policies.
Three parts of the Russian lands after the invasion of the Tatars
A hundred years after the invasion of the Tatars, the Russian lands looked very different. In the northeast, there was a conglomerate of a number of specific principalities under the formal authority of Moscow. However, its rulers were called the Grand Dukes of Vladimir: the lands of Moscow were still not prestigious enough to give the right to rule over other Russian principalities.
Moscow in the XIV century
The rulers of Rurikovich - the old Russian dynasty ruled in all the lands of this region.Formally, Moscow Russia remained a vassal of the Horde. In fact, from the middle of the 14th century, vassal obligations were ignored, and dependence was limited to paying tribute. In the west, the possessions of the Gedyminovich lay. Their first major acquisitions were the Polotsk and Turov principalities, which were previously ruled by the princes of the house of Rurik. Together with Vilna, these territories constituted the indigenous lands of Lithuania.
In the XIV century, the power of the Lithuanian princes began to gradually spread to the neighboring Russian principalities: Kiev, Smolensk, Pereyaslavl, Novgorod-Seversk. However, having seized these areas, Lithuania fell into a vassal dependence on the Horde. Accordingly, from 1362, the Gediminas received Khan labels for the ownership of part of Russia and paid the due tribute.
Further on in the southwest were the lands of the Galician princes.
Daniel Galitsky of the Rurik family, a descendant of the Kiev Prince Vladimir Monomakh, in 1252 took the title of “King of Russia” from the Pope of Rome.
With the help of the prestigious royal crown, he hoped to strengthen his power.
"King of Russia" Daniel Galitsky
However, his heirs forgot about the title, and the next "king of Russia" was only grandson of Daniel - Yuri. Why was he? Under Yuri, the Galician and Volyn principalities united.However, at the same time, the more powerful were Poland and Lithuania, and Galician Russia - as the most remote, peripheral part of the Russian lands - was doomed to be torn apart by its neighbors.
Galicia, of course, was also a vassal of the Golden Horde, paid tribute to the khans, and even sent troops to participate in joint campaigns with the Tatars in Poland.
The confrontation of Moscow and Lithuania
In the second half of the 14th century, the political situation in the Russian lands abruptly changed. In the east, the rise of Moscow led to the first attempt to free itself from the Tatar yoke: the Russian army of Moscow Prince Dmitry won the battle on the Kulikovo field.
Kulikov battle. Artist S. Prisekin
In the west, the expansion of Lithuania led to a conflict with Moscow. Their confrontation became the main content of Russian domestic policy in the next hundred years.The conflict was associated with the question of the unification of Russia. Both the old Rurikovichi and the new Gediminovichs claimed the role of head of the new united state.
Initially, the position of the Lithuanian princes was stronger due to the size of the troops and the wealth of possessions, however, in terms of legitimacy,Moscow princes were in a better position. It was they who could claim the restoration of power by the right of dynastic succession.
Later, a religious conflict between Orthodoxy and Catholicism was added to the confrontation. But in the XIV – XV centuries, the descendants of the specific princes - who were all without exception Rurikovich - had a simple choice: to serve the grand duke from “his” dynasty or from someone else's. Many consciously chose "their".
Adventures of the title of "King of Russia"
But Galician Rus at the end of the XIV century ceased to exist. Since 1349, there has been a fierce struggle for the lands of Galicia between Poland and Lithuania.
"King of Russia" Casimir III with his subjects
The war ends in 1392 with a section of the failed kingdom. Galicia began to belong to Poland, and Volyn went to Lithuania. In this case, the Lithuanian princes became known as the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and the Russian. The Polish kings Louis and Casimir III also used the title “King of Russia” for some time. The following Polish rulers, already from the Hedyminovich dynasty, forgot about the Galician title. But on him immediately remembered the Hungarian kings.
Using the title, they symbolically marked the claims to the lands of Galicia, originating from its first conqueror - King Louis. Monarch concurrently was the ruler of not only Poland, but also Hungary.
It was even more interesting. In the 16th century, the Austrian Hapsburgs became the kings of Hungary. They did not forget about the old title and continued to use it.
"Reitan - the decline of Poland." Artist Jan Matejko
The title of the kings of Galicia and Lodomeria (Lodomeria is the name of the Vladimir-Volyn lands distorted by the Hungarians and the Germans) has already become a real title of the crown Austrian possession.And how did it all end?
In the 15th century, great changes took place in the Russian lands. Moscow was able to subdue most of the Russian principalities, which were once part of the ancient Russian state. This gave its rulers the opportunity to legally take the title of sovereign of all Russia, declaring the continuity of their power from the Kiev Rurik, and at the same time the rights to all the lands that were previously part of the Kiev state.
The first sovereign of all Russia, Ivan III
Lithuania, which became dependent on Catholic Poland, gradually lost ownership.The specific princes of Lithuania, taking advantage of the feudal right to leave, went to the service of the Moscow Rurikovich together with their principalities.
At the end of the century, the Moscow principality was completely freed from the power of the Horde, while Lithuania continued to pay tribute and receive labels from the Crimean Khanate.
Thus ended the history of the Middle Ages in the lands of Russia.