Before, the single and formidable Golden Horde in the early thirties of the XV century began to give clear signs of disintegration. This was a favorable prerequisite for the beginning of processes, the result of which was the overthrow of the Horde yoke, which for almost two and a half centuries gravitated over the Russian lands. Its date is considered to be November 11, 1480, when a prolonged confrontation on the river Ugra between the Russian squads and the Tatar army ended with the flight of the enemy.
The collapse of the Horde
The Horde and the reign of the eminent commander Emir Edigey, who tried to keep the state from disintegration with an iron hand, did not save the Horde. Immediately after its overthrow in 1411 two new independent khanates were formed, and in addition, threatening them, continued to build up the power that a few decades earlier the Great Horde. Khan Ahmam, who ruled in those years, achieved certain success in restoring the former greatness of the Tatar-Mongolian state, but the strengthening was short-lived, and as a result, the overthrow of the Horde yoke took on the character of an inevitable historical process. Too strong were the imperious claims of individual Tatar princes.
Strengthening the Moscow Principality
During the same period, there was a significant strengthening of Moscow, without which the struggle of Russia to overthrow the Horde yoke would have been impossible. A clear indication of this was the refusal of Grand Duke Ivan III to pay the Horde a tribute previously established. As a result, all cash receipts from Russian lands that the khans still continued to consider as their uluses - the territories under their control - are soon to cease. From this time on, the Moscow prince and the Horde khan begin to struggle with an irreconcilable struggle. The overthrow of the Horde yoke became a reality.
Preparing for military action
Khan Akhmat, the ruler of the Great Horde, realized that only an immediate and powerful blow to Moscow could compel Russians to pay tribute again. This prompted him to begin preparations for a decisive campaign. Not satisfied with the strength of the troops he had gathered (the collapse of the former Horde had affected), Ahmat concluded an agreement on joint military operations with the Lithuanian prince Casimir, who also claimed his share in the general robbery of the Russian lands.
Moscow prince Ivan III - a wise and subtle politician, correctly assessing the situation, enlisted the support of the Crimean Khan Mengli-Giray, who was an irreconcilable rival of Akhmat. The calculation was based on the fact that he clearly feared the strengthening of the Horde lord, who, after a campaign to Moscow, could turn his troops towards the Crimea, which he had long claimed. Looking back, it can be clearly concluded that the overthrow of the Horde yoke was largely due to the quarrels and internecine strife that the Horde suffered during its disintegration. This is evidenced by numerous chronicles that have survived to us.
The circumstances under which the overthrow of the Horde yoke began
The year 1480, when a hundred-thousand-strong army of Khan Akhmat moved to Moscow, became fatal for him. According to the previously concluded agreement, at the same time Lithuanian forces were to perform, but the reality radically violated these plans - an ally of Moscow, the Crimean Khan, suddenly invaded the territory of the Lithuanian principality with its hordes. His unexpected aggression forced the Lithuanian princes to concentrate all their forces on its reflection and deprived Akhmat of their support. As a result, the khan had to rely only on his own strength.
Meanwhile, the Russian regiments, notified in advance of the approach of the enemy, occupied the bank of the Oka. Moving towards Moscow, the Tatars seized and plundered Kaluga and Serpukhov in June. The situation was further complicated by the fact that at the same time German knights came to Pskov. A considerable detachment led by Ivan the Young, a young son of the Moscow prince Ivan III, advanced to meet them. The Grand Duke himself was at that time in Kolomna with the main forces.
Confrontation on the Ugra
Without loosing hope for Lithuanian reinforcements, Khan Akhmat sent his troops to the mouth of the Ugra River, which ran along the southwestern border of Russian lands, and, in anticipation of Prince Kazimierz, took a defensive position. However, in contrast to them on the other bank of the river, advanced Russian detachments soon appeared, and after them the main forces led by the Moscow prince approached. Thus, the Khan could no longer rely on the surprise of the invasion.
For a short time, both sides repeatedly tried, crossing the river, to launch an offensive, but none of them succeeded. Nevertheless, the situation changed in favor of the Russians. The regiments of the Prince of Uglich Prince Andrei and Volotsky, Boris, who had not previously desired to support Ivan III, approached them. Since Khan Ahmat did not wait for the Lithuanian allies, the superiority of the forces bent in favor of the Russians.
Autumn, frost and fodder
All summer and early autumn of 1480 there were constant skirmishes between troops located on different banks of the river. Occasionally they were interrupted by attempts to achieve some result through negotiations. However, Moscow categorically refused to renew the payment of tribute, and Ahmat did not accept any other conditions of peace. This went on until November.
Winter that year came early, and already at the beginning of the month the Ugra froze, and its banks were covered with a thick layer of frozen snow. Since the Tatars expected that their campaign would take the form of a swift military operation, and did not take care of supplying troops with food and fodder, soon there was a famine in their camp. And their war horses also suffered from lack of fodder.
The event that prompted the overthrow of the Horde yoke
Briefly explain what happened on November 11, 1480, very difficult. Moreover, even among historians there is no consensus on this. Between them, disputes about whether it was a military trick, undertaken by Ivan III, or played a role, do not cease. But it is known that on that day the prince ordered his troops to be withdrawn deep into the territory to the city of Borovsk. When the Russians left the shore, the reaction of the Tatars was completely unexpected - they fled.
Many explain this by the fact that outwardly the actions of the Russians looked like enticing the Tatars into a trap prepared on the opposite shore, and if so, there should have been significant forces there, which they simply did not suspect. But, one way or another, the Tatars fled. Thus, the overthrow of the Horde yoke occurred as a result of a successfully executed maneuver, and not a bloody battle. However, history knows many such precedents.
The Beginning of the Great Process
However, this was only the beginning of the process, and the final overthrow of the Horde yoke was yet to come. In less than two years, the Tatars ravaged and burned Kiev, and then carried out a predatory campaign against the south-western territories of Russia. The complexity of the situation was aggravated by Lithuania. By 1501, all military reserves had to be thrown at the reflection of her aggression, and as a result of this Ivan III was forced to temporarily renew the payment of the tribute to the next Horde ruler, the son of Khan Akhmad Sheikh-Ahmed, than the complete overthrow of the Horde yoke was significantly postponed. The date of November 11 is thus just the beginning of a long journey, the completion of which came in the reign of Ivan the Terrible, but nevertheless it is believed that it was on this day that an end to more than two centuries of yoke was put an end.
Even after the liquidation of the Kazan Khanate in 1552, Russia suffered for many years from the nomads, but their raids already had only the character of predatory raids and were suppressed by regular troops. About any dependence of the Russian state on the steppe tribes, and even more so on the payment of tribute was no longer the case. One of the darkest pages of Russian history was forever turned upside down.