Room 13. The Fight of Rus against Foreign Invaders. Unification of Russian Lands. Formation and Consolidation of Russian State in the 13th – 15th Centuries

This room called «Moscovsky» is dedicated to the rise of the Grand Principality of Muscovy in the 14th – 15th centuries and formation of the single Russian State. The composition of the vault painting includes ornamental motifs from the famous Cap of Monomakh. This Cap first mentioned in the will of Ivan Kalita (1341) was the important regalia of Russian princes and tsars, a symbol of Russian autocracy. Reproduced on the room’s walls are friezes and pillars decorating the churches of the Grand Principality of Muscovy – the Assumption Cathedral in Kremlin and the Saviour Cathedral in Zvenigorod.

Over the exit is the canvas «Moscow Kremlin in the Early 16th Century» painted by VN.Sigorsky and N.P.SmoIyak in 1947 by the 800tn anniversary of the city. Depicted there is the Moscow Kremlin as it might have looked in the early 16th century. The painting was the fruit of studying archaeological and written sources dating to the rise of Moscow.

The exposition is divided into two large sections placed opposite each other and thereby symbolising the historical controversy between Rus and Golden Horde – gradual rise of the former and decay of the latter.

cases 1, 2, 13
In the 14th century the urban culture was at its height. The cases 1, 2, 13 are devoted to the cities of the Golden Horde. The products of numerous trades are also demonstrated here. Ceramists, manufacturing famous slip ceramics – glazed tile and crockery – achieved a great success.

In the cases 1-2 there is a famous Simpheropol hoard. 318 objects made of gold, silver and precious stones with the total weight of 2,584 g were found during the earthwork carried out not far from Simferopol in the sixties of the 20th century. The hoard includes a silver «paitza» of khan Keldibek (14th century); the rest of objects go back to the 15th century. Quite remarkable are two sets from precious stones that adorned a woman’s cap. It is known that such headdresses were worn by representatives of aristocratic families. All hoard items are noted for a high working level.

It is interesting that motifs of the patterns covering the articles from the Simferopol hoard have different origin, being derived from the cultural traditions of both western and eastern jewellers. Thus the Simpferopol hoard reflects an important trend: intensive assimilation and remaking of cultural traditions of conquered peoples by leaders of the Golden Horde. This process is especially typical for Gold Horde towns: Mongols would restore old cities in conquered lands and create new ones. The state capitals – Sarai-al-Makhrusa and Sarai-al-Jedid – were thereby built anew on Lower Volga. Craftsmen expatriated from different countries – Russian armourers, potters from Central Asia, Armenian goldsmiths, Bulgarian bronze-casting craftsmen and many others – worked there, creating the brilliant culture of that State.

case 3
The history of the Golden Horde reminds of the lot of many medieval states. In the mid-12th century the stage of its formation was completed; it was followed by the era of upsurge and flourishing that fell on the 14th century while in the 15th century it disintegrated into a number of independent khanates. The Great Horde became a political successor of the Golden Horde. Throughout the three subsequent centuries till the end of the 18th century the Russian State had waged war with Horde splinters until its whole territory was integrated into the Russian Empire.

In the 14th century though, ruined and fragmented Rus ripped by intestine wars had to withstand the strong and mighty state, having powerful economic and cultural potential of conquered peoples at its disposal.

The case 3 is dedicated to the policy of the Golden Horde towards Russia. Exhibited here are silver rouble bullions of the «Novgorod» type and poltina (half a rouble) bullions with Moscow brands used by Rus to render tribute to the Golden Horde. 14 tribute types are known, of which the so-called «tsar’s vykhod» (the tribute of precious stones) was the heaviest. Quite interesting is a set of Russian things found on the Horde territory.
Russian princes who tried to withstand the Horde khans are commemorated in the silver relics cross with gilt and niello made in the early 15th century. The inscription reads: «Mikhail of Chernigov and boyar Feodor». St. Michael of Chernigov was greatly venerated in Rus as a Christian martyr. He was murdered in the Horde along with faithful boyar Feodor in 1246 for the refusal to pay divine homage to the posthumous image of Genghis khan.

Common Russian people also stirred up rebellions against the Yoke: the Tver chronicle describes the events of 1327 when Tver residents, indignant at the impudence of baskak (Mongol police officer in charge of tribute collection) Shevkal, drove out Horde henchmen from the city and killed their leader.

A large icon of Moscow metropolitan Alexis is placed in the pier between the windows. He was the actual ruler of the Principality under Moscow Prince Dmitry Ivanovich, promoting the power of Moscow princes and the rise of Moscow among Russian lands. He was also known as an advocate of diplomatic relations with the Horde for sake of preventing new invasions.

case 4
The 14th and 15th centuries were the time of active restoration of the national economic potential, the growth and strengthening of Russian cities and development of the main sector of Russian economy – agriculture. Exhibited in case 4 are fragments of agricultural implements; ploughshares and socks deserve special attention. The plough was used for tilling old plough-lands while the sock was generally used for working virgin soil. A great number of socks found testify to the development of new properties and the rise of land value.

The growing feudal landownership is confirmed by numerous land patents, some of them being exhibited in this case. A copy of the stone cross from the grave of a son of dyak (clerk of high rank) Stefan Borodaty – boyar and prominent statesman in the time of Grand Duke Ivan III – is an interesting item from that epoch. The inscription on the cross says that the wealthy boyar would bestow upon the church a big parcel of land that they would pray for his son’s soul. The case exposition is crowned with the Sudebnik of 1497, the first code of laws of the unified Russian State. The book is open at the 57tn chapter called «Justice for Peasants». Sudebnik limits the freedom of peasants as well as their transition from one landlord to another. In this way the state tried to provide landowners with labour, embarking on the way of serfdom legalisation in Rus.

cases 5-9
Reflected in cases 5-10 is the process of political unification of Russian lands. It was Moscow that became the centre of forming the unified Russian State in the 14th century. Presented here is the map «Formation of Grand Principality of Muscovy in the 13th – 15th Centuries». First the Moscow Principality consolidated the old Vladimir «patrimony» and then overstepped its limits, having annexed Novgorod the Great under Ivan III and then Pskov and the Grand Principality of Ryazan under Vasily III. Objects highlighting those events are placed in case 15. The political consolidation of Northeast and Northwest Rus into one state was completed in the first third of the 16th century under the Grand Prince of Muscovy Vasily III.

The material narrates of the struggle between Muscovy, the Grand Principality of Lithuania and the Grand Principality of Tver for the influence over Russian lands. Exhibited here also are reminders of the feudal war for the Moscow throne that broke out in the second third of the 15th century and ended in the victory of Grand Prince of Muscovy Vasily Temny (the Dark) and consolidation of princely power.

case 8
In the case 8 there is the «Great Zion» made in 1846 for the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The lower part of this tabernacle was manufactured in Germany in the 13th century while the five-headed crown was added in the 15th century. The «Zion» features raised representations of 12 apostles. The outer face of the door shows a figure of apostle Peter while its interiors contains an inscription saying that the «Zion» was made at the decree of Ivan III. Ivan III is referred to not only as Grand Duke of Muscovy, but also as «Sovereign of All Rus». Thus the Moscow ruler obtained a new title that fully matched his new status as the head of the unified Russian State.

You may see a small cup from the tomb of Grand Prince Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy who led the army of all Rus in the battle. Beside is the Synodic (commemoration of the dead book) of the early 15th century where many Russian warriors who fell in that battle are mentioned. After the victory at Kulikovo Field the foreign yoke would still continue for a hundred years; yet the battle was a turning point in national history, since Russian people proved to the enemy and themselves that they were able to vanquish.

case 10
The case is dedicated to the outstanding role of the Russian Orthodox Church in forming a single and unified Russian State. The central place is given to the artifacts that have to do with the activities of Moscow metropolitans Peter and Alexis who took an active part in strengthening Muscovy. Here also a unique book of the late 14th and early 15th centuries is kept with the owner’s inscription: The Missal of Reverend Father-Superior Sergius of Radonezh the Wonder-Worker. The materials highlight the contribution of Father-Superior to the transformation of monasteries as centres preserving cultural traditions and affirming the idea of rallying Rus in a fight against the Mongol Yoke.

case 11
Case 11 gives information about the state-administrative system of the Golden Horde, its distinctive features as a nomadic country based on symbiosis of two worlds – urban and steppe civilizations. A large armament set of the Golden Horde warrior points to the crucial role of the army in this State.

One of the scarce finds – a «paitza» of khan Uzbek – reminds of strong autocratic power of Horde khans. The «paitza» is a protective letter granted to the khan’s trustee for performing a certain mission – for example, tribute collection in conquered countries. «Paitzas» were made of gold, silver and bronze depending on the social rank of a trustee. The «paitza» of khan Uzbek included in the exposition is a silver plate with a hole for a cord used to fix it on the neck. Inscribed with the gold Mongol character is the text: «By the Decree of Eternal Heaven. The Order of Khan Uzbek. Whoever disobeys is guilty and must die». In keeping with the khan’s decree any injunctions and even wishes of a «paitza» producer were immediately and implicitly obeyed.

case 12
Objects placed in the room’s central cases have a special significance. One of the sets has to do with the outstanding event of the Russian history of that time – the Battle of Kulikovo Field (1380) (cases 12-13). Quite notable among numerous Russian arms is a unique artifact – a coat of mail of the second half of the 14th century found at Kulikovo Field.

Arch and icon
In the portal arch one can see a unique icon with the image of Vasily III. This icon originates from St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin – it was placed near the tomb of Grand Prince and, along with other funeral images, was part of a unique collection of the early Russian portraits painted in the seventies of the 17th century. At the turn of the 19th century the icon was passed to the collections of the Historical Museum. In the process of the monument’s restoration it came to light that the icon was painted in the early 16th century, and the saints depicted were Vasily the Great and Pafnuty the Great. In the 1670s the face of Grand Prince of Moscow Vasily III replaced the image of Pafnuty. The portraits of other Russian rulers of the 16th and 17th centuries – Feodor Ioannovich, Mikhail Feodorovich, Aleksey Mikhailovich and Feodor Alekseyevich – placed in room №18 have been preserved to our time.

Another set of objects (case 6) is related to an outstanding event – overthrow of the Mongol yoke on Rus. In 1476 Ivan III stopped paying a tribute to the Great Horde. Having waited four years in vain, khan Akhmat decided to teach the unruly prince a lesson. In autumn 1480 he approached the possessions of the Moscow Prince with a huge force on the side of the Ugra River, where he was encountered by the numerous and well-armed troops of Ivan III. «The grand standing on Ugra» lasted for five weeks, and Akhmat retreated for he didn’t have the guts to enter the battle.

Among the armament samples there is the oldest artillery – small «kulevrinas» (portable cannons with long barrels fastened to light gun-carriages) also called «ruchnitsas» in Rus.

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