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Brother on brother: 805 years ago, the most terrible battle in medieval Russia took place
3 May, 15:00
Brother on brother: 805 years ago, the most terrible battle in medieval Russia took place
In 1216, on the Lipitsa River, near the city of Yuriev-Polsky, the Russian princes met in a merciless internecine battle

Sergey Baimukhametov

It was a battle between Russians and Russians. On the one hand, the combined troops of Vladimir, Suzdal, Murom, Pereslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Torzhok, Yuriev, and on the other, Novgorod, Pskov, Smolensk and Rostov the Great.

"Golden Ring" of the Central Committee of the CPSU

Why was Yuryev-Polsky not included in the Golden Ring? As ancient as Pereslavl-Zalessky, in the same year it was founded by the Grand Duke Yuri Dolgoruky. Of course, it is not so rich in monasteries and temples, but still... The earthen rampart of the twelfth century, encircling the historical center, literally bewitches the eye, the Archangel Michael Monastery, in which the architectural styles of several centuries converged.

Finally, there, in Yuryev-Polsky, is the 13th century St. George's Cathedral, which occupies a special place even among the unique monuments of ancient Russian architecture.

Nevertheless - Yuryev-Polsky was bypassed. Which, of course, is insulting and annoying for both the authorities and the citizens themselves. After all, being included in the tourist route along which foreigners are transported is not only a flattering “inclusion” into the big world, but also a considerable benefit. And the money would have gone to the budget, and the construction would have started here long ago, so as not to hit the face in the mud in front of foreigners. But...

Nobody knows exactly what the reason is. Maybe in the fact that the town is unprepossessing, it loses much to the neighboring Pereslavl-Zalessky, and, moreover, to the neighboring Suzdal. Like, we will disgrace ourselves in front of foreigners. Although everything here is controversial. For whom it is "unprepossessing", and for whom it is just pleasant for its quiet, almost rural life, not disfigured, as in some districts of Pereslavl, by reinforced concrete and coal dumps, gloomy fences, ominous frames and hangars of the so-called industrial zone.

Maybe there were special, ideological reasons here.

Imagine the corridors of power where in the late 1960s the list of cities included in the Golden Ring was “approved”. The meeting in the Central Committee of the CPSU is attended by all kinds of people, but among them, of course, there are scientists who answer questions. Let's take into account that the event is ideological from the very beginning, because, firstly, foreigners, and secondly, history. And when they join together, the vigilance is tenfold.

And so, imagine that, having reached St. George's-Polsky, after hearing the story about the St. George Cathedral, about the monastery, the museum located there, the big party chief asks:

- What else is there?

Scientists who are not accustomed to a quantitative criterion for assessing historical monuments, nevertheless, succumb to the logic of their superiors and add:

- There is also the Lipitskoye field nearby, where the Lipitskaya battle took place.

- What is the Lipitsa battle? - the chief is surprised.

Scientists explain, and the further, the more the party functionary frowns, the atmosphere of the meeting thickens unkindly. Scientists feel this too, but it's too late - the word flew out.

- In no case! - the chief decides, - There wasn’t enough to tell foreigners about it.

- So we will not! - scientists and leaders of a lower rank are trying to justify themselves. - We did not include the Lipitskoye field in the route, but there is nowhere to carry and there is nothing to show, foreigners do not know about it.

- Well, yes, they don't! the big party boss interrupts sarcastically. - And as soon as they get there, they will immediately begin to inquire and pry. And then they will ring out the “voices”. No, we cross out Yuryev-Polsky! And generally speaking! - he raises his head and turns to everyone. - You have to be more attentive, comrades. It's not up to you to explain what the situation is in the world now, so we must take everything into account!

These are my speculations, assumptions. Possible model of possible events of the Soviet past. Let's just say, quite likely.

Terrible slaughter

Little known to this day, the Lipitsa battle, or the battle on the Lipitsa river, near the town of Yuriev-Polsky, is the most terrible slaughter between Russians and Russians in the history of medieval Russia.

To imagine its scale, let us list the participants, the appanage principalities that fielded their warriors.

On the one hand, all the armed forces of the Vladimir-Suzdal Grand Duchy. “And they had very strong regiments”, the chronicler notes, “they even drove on foot from the villages”. That is, there was something like total mobilization. Vladimir, Suzdal, Murom, Pereslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Torzhok, Yuriev - all gathered. And there were also in that army not the people of Vladimir, but newcomers, hired ones, called them roamers.

The united army of Novgorod, Pskov, Smolensk and Rostov the Great entered the battlefield against the Vladimir army.

Ryazan did not participate in the battle. Ryazan the day before burned to ashes, leaving no stone unturned, the great Vladimir prince Vsevolod the Big Nest.

Ryazan has always been on edge. But if she entered into the current feud, she would certainly be on the side of Novgorod and against Vladimir, her sworn enemy. And this would immediately give the Novgorod-Pskov-Smolensk-Rostov army an obvious advantage, because the Ryazan people were considered the most desperate warriors.

Particular bitterness was given by the fact that both camps were headed by brothers who opposed each other - the sons of Vsevolod the Big Nest.

The mortal enmity between them began because of their father's inheritance. Dying, Vsevolod the Big Nest wanted, according to custom, to transfer the great reign to his eldest son, Konstantin, giving him Vladimir, and Rostov to his second son, Yuri. But Konstantin wanted both Vladimir and Rostov. He was guided not by greed, but by fear for his own, not yet received power. Although Vladimir is the capital of the great principality, Rostov is still older and more significant. He considered the reign of Yuri in Rostov a threat to himself. His father got angry and deprived him of his seniority - he handed over the grand prince's throne to Yuri. An extraordinary act, fraught with many consequences. And so it happened. Immediately after the death of Vsevolod in 1212, a strife began. Four years of internecine war led to Lipica.

The Vladimir army was commanded by princes Yuri and Yaroslav Vsevolodovich, their younger brother Svyatoslav helped them, and in the opposing united Novgorod

The Pskov-Smolensk-Rostov army, together with the Novgorod prince Mstislav Udatny (Lucky), set the tone by their elder brother Konstantin Vsevolodovich, prince of Rostov, who fought to ensure that he, the eldest of Vsevolod's sons, would get the father's throne in Vladimir. And Mstislav Udatny is also no stranger - he was the father-in-law of his enemy Yaroslav. Mstislav's daughter from a marriage with a Polovtsian princess will become the mother of Alexander Nevsky.

And yet, when the rati lined up against each other, the day before the battle, the opponents tried to negotiate. Ambassadors came to Yaroslav and Yuri with a proposal: "We will give the eldership to Constantine, we will plant him in Vladimir, and you will have the whole Suzdal land." Yuri and Yaroslav gave Konstantin the following answer: "Overpower us, then all your land will be." Because they had already divided everything the day before. After the battle, the Smolensk warriors in one of the abandoned tents found a "letter" in which their oral agreement was enshrined: "To me, brother Yaroslav, Vladimir and Rostov land, and to you - Novgorod; and Smolensk to our brother Svyatoslav, and we will give Kiev to the Chernigov princes, and Galich - to us”.

They divided everything.

So that their names do not sound abstract, let me remind you: Yuri is the same Yuri who, in twenty-one years, will not come to the aid of the Ryazan people who are fighting with Batu. What to do, in those centuries the people of Ryazan and Suzdal were sworn enemies. And Yuri himself will soon ingloriously perish on the City River in a battle with the same Mongol-Tatars who, having defeated the Ryazan people, will come to the Suzdal land.

Yaroslav will subsequently give birth to a son, Alexander, who will be called Nevsky. Then Yaroslav, being after Yuri the Grand Duke of Vladimir, will offer the Russian princes to call Batu "their king". Yaroslav's sons, Alexander and Andrey, will also fight against each other. Alexander Nevsky will become a twin brother of the Horde prince Sartak, the named son of Batu, and will conclude an alliance between Russia and the Horde.

Prince Svyatoslav after the death of Yaroslav will become the Grand Duke of Vladimir. But not for long. He will be overthrown by Mikhail Tverskoy. He will spend the rest of his days in the Horde, seeking justice. But Svyatoslav will go down in history by the fact that in 1234 he completed the construction of St. George's Cathedral in Yuryev-Polsky, not just a unique, but the most mysterious creation of ancient Russian architecture.

It will be later, then, in tens of years. In the meantime, the troops are facing each other. Some - on Mount Avdova, others - on Mount Yuryeva. Between them is the Tuneg stream. Slightly off to the side is the Lipitsa River and the very field where they will now retreat and where the battle will begin.

The forthcoming cruelty of the battle was also indicated by the fact that some especially desperate warriors on the battlefield "jumped out barefoot". The chronicler does not comment in any way, does not explain this very detail. For contemporaries, she did not require an explanation. I can only guess. “Stripping the dead”, that is, stripping and undressing the dead, is the norm. And therefore, probably, demonstratively taking off his shoes, the warrior seemed to declare that he did not expect to survive, and went into mortal combat. Some princes in the most desperate battles went out with their heads naked. That is, the nobility took off their helmet, and the commoners took off their boots.

When the slaughter ended, “one could hear the screams of the living, the wounded not to death, and the howl of those punctured in the city of Yuryev and near Yuryev. There was no one to bury the dead... For the killed soldiers of Yuri and Yaroslav cannot be imagined by the human mind".

Russian Spas

The chronicle says that "nine thousand two hundred thirty-three" people were killed in the battle on the Lipitsky field in one day.

But the chronicle does not give an unambiguous answer: are these general losses or only one side? Then what? It is difficult to imagine the Vladimir-Suzdal and Novgorodians jointly removing and counting the killed.

For some reason, some historians believe that these are the losses of the Vladimir army. And on the commemorative sign, installed in 2016, it is written: "Only from the side of the people of Vladimir died 9,233 people." But why Vladimirtsev? After all, the author of the chronicle is a Novgorodian, and he cites this figure. What does he care about the losses of the residents of Vladimir? Why would the Novgorodians count the corpses of their enemies on the battlefield with an accuracy of one? So, "nine thousand two hundred thirty three" are the losses of the united Novgorod-Pskov-Smolensk-Rostov army? But if so, how many warriors from Vladimir, Suzdal, Murom, Pereslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Torzhok, Yuryev-Polsky died that day ?! After all, the loss of the vanquished is always more significant. As the chronicle says, "the killed soldiers of Yuri and Yaroslav cannot be imagined by the human mind". It is terrible to imagine how many Russian people died there. Men in their prime. With the then population size, this is tantamount to a plague or pestilence. The following fact speaks most vividly about the losses of the Vladimir-Suzdal people. When Prince Yuri in one shirt, even losing his saddle, having driven three horses, on the fourth rushed to the walls of Vladimir and appealed to the townspeople to lock the gates and repulse the enemies, they answered him: “Prince Yuri, with whom shall we shut up? Our brethren were beaten, some were taken prisoner, and the rest came running unarmed. What are we going to defend ourselves with?"

How many were killed in that four-year war, including old people and women, the usual victims of looting and fires, no one knows or will ever know. In one of the published conversations L.N. Gumilyov exclaimed with undisguised horror: "We haven't lost so much during the wars with the Mongols!" However, according to the information given by the historian A.N. Nasonov, in the year of the Mongol invasion only on Galician Russia, a total of twelve thousand people died there. Analyzing these and other data, Gumilev concluded: "It should be admitted that Batu's campaign in terms of the scale of the destruction carried out is comparable to the internecine war, which was usual for that turbulent time".

Towards the end of his life, Vladimir Monomakh calculated and wrote in the "Instruction" that "there were eighty and three great campaigns in total, and the rest I do not remember the lesser." Of these, nineteen were for the Polovtsians, who could not be called strangers, because the Russian feuds were at the same time the feuds of their relatives, the Polovtsian khans, and vice versa. Eighty-three campaigns in fifty-two years of reign in Smolensk, Chernigov, Pereyaslavl, Kiev. And such a life was spent not by some inflamed maniac-warrior, but by a deeply religious person who called: “Do not kill either the right or the guilty, and do not command to kill him; even if he is guilty of death, then do not destroy any Christian soul ", who called his bloody brothers to peace, whom Yaroslav the Wise bequeathed to love each other, if only" because you are brothers, from one father and one mother. " Here they are, brothers... Russian Savior, he is definitely on the blood. True, the same thing happened among other peoples in those centuries. Although there was one Jew who called to build the Savior on love.

But even for the troubled years of Russia, that bloody strife and the battle that ended it on Lipitsa is a particularly tragic event. And therefore one cannot but agree with Gumilev: "It was here in 1216 that the power of the Grand Duchy of Vladimir, the only ally of Novgorod in the war against the crusaders, was undermined".

Four years of war and the battle on Lipitsa that ended it ended with Vladimir, Pereslavl-Zalessky and other Vladimir-Suzdal cities surrendering to the mercy of the victors - Konstantin and Mstislav Udatny. Constantine became the Grand Duke in Vladimir, and Mstislav acquired one more branch in the wreath of his glory as a knight and commander.

Three years later, Constantine died, and Yuri again became the Grand Duke. Everything returned to normal. And if the reader is imbued with bitterness and regret, and asks the heavens: why, why have so many lives been ruined? - the most correct answer would be: times and customs were like that, and nothing can be done about it.

Of course, a monument should have been erected here. Or a cross. Or a chapel. But until recent years there was neither a chapel nor a monument.

And not foreigners, but our people to bring here. Ours.

The Novgorod author of the story of the Battle of Lipitsa does not hide his sympathy for his own people. But the same people of Smolensk are allies of the Novgorodians, and the chronicler could at least be more friendly to them. However, no. He writes: "The Novgorodians did not fight for the booty, but the Smolnyans rushed to the booty and ripped off the dead..." Come on, you portrayed your own as fighters only for the idea, and forever nailed Smolnyan to a pillar of shame. No, what we call objectivity did not exist then.

Our people should be taken to the Lipitskoe field, ours.

By 2016, for the 800th anniversary of the Battle of the Lipitskoye Field, a memorial stone and a cross were finally erected. But the inscription on the memorial plaque with information about the event and the number of Vladimir residents who died ends in the absurdist-ideological, pseudo-patriotic spirit inherent in our time: "Eternal glory to our ancestors!"

A town that does not exist

Residents of Yuryev-Polsiy live in a city that has never existed in history, and it is not known whether it exists now or not.

Believe it or not, almost all encyclopedias and reference books call it Yuryev-Polsky. Moreover, the townspeople themselves call it that way. And so that some visitors do not hesitate, at the entrances to the city there are signs with openwork letters: Yuryev-Polsky.

The first thought of the visitor - the city was founded by the Poles? Together with Yuri Dolgoruky - 7 years after the founding of Moscow? But the Poles never came to North-Eastern Russia. Unless they popped in once, after 5 centuries, as part of the detachments of False Dmitry II.

The name of the city comes from "field". Rather, "opolya". The land was called that - Vladimirskoe opolye, the space behind the forests. Pereslavl-Zalessky, Yuryev-Polsky...

For some reason, when I was there, I never said, I did not ask anyone from the townspeople, why did they change their city like that? Although the natural reaction is to ask, be surprised. But he didn't ask.

If it is written in encyclopedic dictionaries, if there is an "Official site of the administration of the Yuryev-Polsky district" on the Internet, then what is the demand from an ordinary person.