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Rise of Muscovy - Rurik Dynasty

1462Ivan III(the Great) (Basilovitz)
1505Vasiliy III
1533Ivan IV(the Terrible)
1584Feodor I poisoned

The development of the Russian state can be traced from Vladimir-Suzdal' through Muscovy to the Russian Empire. Muscovy drew people and wealth to the northeastern periphery of Kievan Rus'; established trade links to the Baltic Sea, the White Sea, and the Caspian Sea and to Siberia; and created a highly centralized and autocratic political system. Muscovite political traditions, therefore, exerted a powerful influence on Russian society.

When the Mongols invaded the lands of Kievan Rus', Moscow was an insignificant trading outpost in the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal'. The outpost's remote, forested location offered some security from Mongol attack and occupation, and a number of rivers provided access to the Baltic and Black seas and to the Caucasus region. More important to Moscow's development in what became the state of Muscovy, however, was its rule by a series of princes who were ambitious, determined, and lucky. The first ruler of the principality of Muscovy, Daniil Aleksandrovich (d. 1303), secured the principality for his branch of the Rurik Dynasty. His son, Ivan I (r. 1325-40), known as Ivan Kalita ("Money Bags"), obtained the title "Grand Prince of Vladimir" from his Mongol overlords. He cooperated closely with the Mongols and collected tribute from other Russian principalities on their behalf. This relationship enabled Ivan to gain regional ascendancy, particularly over Muscovy's chief rival, the northern city of Tver'. In 1327 the Orthodox metropolitan transferred his residency from Vladimir to Moscow, further enhancing the prestige of the new principality.

In 1320 the elder line at Kiew was conquered, and its territories annexed by the Lithuanians ; and at the same time the Grand Dukes made Moscow their capital, and the Muscovite kingdom was fairly started. All this time, since Batou, grandson of Genghis Khan, had overrun the country in 1223, the Russians had been the humble slaves of their Mongol conquerors : and all sorts of stories are told of the contempt with which the Mongols treated them. Ivan III, who married the niece of the last Greek Emperor, made this Muscovite state important. He pushed up north to Novgorod, which had become a republic aud a memberof the Hansa, and had grown to be so important a place that people asked "Who can resist God and great Novgorod?" Ivan took it and treated it so cruelly that its power was wholly broken. He also went east against the Golden Horde, now weakened by dissensions, and beat Khan Achmet so thoroughly that the Mongols never raised their heads again.

His grandson was Ivan the Terrible, the first Czar - the others had been veliki knez, grand dukes. He formed a standing army -the Strelitzes (archers). He got up a trade with England ; and tried to persuade Charles V. to send him workmen and engineers. His son Feodor was the last Rurik prince : and soon after him comes the period of weakness,the age of the falseDemetriuses, when Poland was able to annex all the Russias, except the Moscow-Vladimir state, and even to hold Moscow itself for three years (1610-13). But this was the worst thing Poland could have done : the Russian spirit was roused : the invaders were driven out ; and Michael, a boyard, of the house of Rurik by the mother's side, was chosen Czar, and founded the house of the Romanoffs. He was forced by the boyards to re-establish serfdom, which Boris Godounoff, Feodor's brother-in-law, had abolished ; but he also re-established the power of Russia, and thenceforward this power is a steadily growing one.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:15:43 ZULU