Tatar-Mongol yoke, History of Russia

Having joined Central Asia, China, Khoresm and Transcaucasia to his empire, Genghis Khan aimed for Russian lands. In 1223 the armies of Genghis Khan defeated Russians on the River Kalka. After the battle Tatars devastated the towns in the outskirts of Chernigov but soon retreated to the Volga steppes. In the late 1237 the union of Mongolian tribes, the Golden Horde, headed by Batu (1208 – 1255), the grandson of Genghis Khan, invaded Ryazan. Afterwards Mongols conquered Moscow and moved to Vladimir. In February 1238 Vladimir was besieged and taken by storm. Novgorod was left unprotected. But Tatars were exhausted and they returned to the steppe. In autumn 1239 Batu resumed his attacks. Now his aim was to conquer southern principalities. The first to fall was Chernigov. In a year’s time Batu’s armies approached Kiev’s walls. After lasting siege and fierce fight Kiev was taken. That period marked the beginning of Mongol Yoke. Russian lands were devastated. The citizens were annihilated or enslaved. Most of the ruined cities never rose again. Russian knayzes accepted the superior power of the Khan and agreed to pay tribute (yasak) to the conquerors. They also had to ask for new Russian rulers appointment approval. Russian knyazes strove to get rid of vassal dependence on the Golden Horde. However, they were not strong enough to fight. The neighbors threatened the weak Russian lands. In 1240 Crusaders who also tried to get a piece of Russian lands attacked Novgorod. It was Alexander Nevsky (1252 – 1263) who defeated Swedish Crusaders on the Neva River in 1240 and later - Germanic knights in the Ice Battle, which took place on Lake Chudskoye in 1242.