THE RISE OF MUSCOVY
‘Let it be known to your Majesty, O pious tsar, that all of the realms of Orthodox Christendom have been reduced to your realm alone, and you alone on the earth bear the name of a Christian emperor’ – Filofey, from his Epistle to Vasily III
As the Tatar stranglehold relaxed, the descendants of Alexander Nevsky followed a coherent policy of Muscovite Expansion
|The period between 1261 – 1533 saw not only the end of Tatar domination but also the extension of Moscovy’s enormous power. The origins of this astonishing rise is prestige and influence can perhaps be found in Alexander Nevsky’s shrew avoidance of the Tatar yoke during the mid 13th century. Accepting Tatar military supremacy, Alexander voluntarily submitted to their domination and paid tribute, thereby ensuring the succession of this son, Daniel, who became Prince of Moscow and founder of the Moscovite dynasty. It was to hold uninterrupted sway from 1276 to 1598.
During his reign Daniel succeeded in doubling his territorial possessions by expanding to the south, northeast and west. After a period of consolidation under Ivan I Kalita (‘Moneybag’), further expansion took place under Dmity Donski (reigned 1359-89) and Vasily I (reigned 1389 – 1425). During these reigns Moscovy was to grow to eight times its sieze by 1359. Not until the reign of Ivan III was such impressive expansion to be repeated.
|In 1380 Moscow felt strong enough to challenge the Tatars directly and Dmitri Donskoy decisive victory at ‘Kulikovo Field’ immediately made him a popular hero, though the Tatar retaliation two years later maintained their rule over the city.|