Reasons for the defeat of the Russian principalities by the Mongols in 1237-1240 and the advantages and disadvantages of living under Golden Horde for Russian states.
After conquering Bulghar Kingdom in 1236, the Mongols further invade the other Russian principalities and somehow they managed to complete their mission in only three years. Kiev was captured after only ten weeks of expeditions and followed by other cities.
There are many reasons that helped the Mongols to gain success over the Russian principalities. At that time, the Russian principalities were not operating in a good condition due to their own internal problems. Some cities were governed by incapable rulers, whether the princes were enthroned too young of their age or the princes might be not mentally fitted for the position. Besides, there was also the problem of disputes among the princes who were fighting against each other to take over the rulership of their principalities.
Another event that have been resulted with the winning of the Mongols was the disintegration of the Russian principalities. The Russian principalities at that time were not united under one centralized government. They were divided into many small kingdoms, ruled by their own rulers and princes. This situation helped the Mongols to win because the kingdoms were not united as when one city had been attacked, the other cities would just stand still without helping. So, one after one city managed to be captured by the Mongols easily.
Moreover, by having the problem like the disintegration of the cities, it further gave another negative effect for the Russian kingdoms by not having a strong military forces to fight against the Mongols. As the military forces were divided according to the principalities, rulers could not gather a strong number of military forces against the Mongols. If the Russian kingdoms were united under one centralized government, a greater power of military armed forces might be possible to be produced. Besides that, the Russian military armed forces might also have not been well organized due to the weak leadership of their rulers who were not recognized as a capable ruler.
Russian principalities started to be governed under the Golden Horde in the year 1240. Under the Golden Horde, the Russians were living in a better condition and they were allowed to practice their religion, no matter if they were Christians or Pagans. The rulers of Golden Horde, for example like Uzbek Khan, he allowed churches to be built in the cities of Golden Horde, even in the capital city of Sarai. The churches were even exempted from paying any tax and jizyah, but instead they were given lands and money to operate.
Under the Golden Horde, the Russians have the opportunity to learn how to manage an administration in a better way. They learnt from the Muslims how to manage tax system, how to establish good military armed forces and others. Besides that, they were given opportunities to improve their knowledge in various fields in this period. Furthermore, the cities under the Golden Horde also flourished in trading sector as the Golden Horde made contacts with foreign countries and also many new cities were established mainly with the help of this sector.
For the Russians, living under the Golden Horde seems not only giving them advantages. Under the rulership of Golden Horde, the Russian princes and nobilities could not establish their own strong independent rulership. For them, they might owned the title and opportunity to rule their own principalities, but they did not have chance to expand their power. That was why they always make attempts to detach themselves from the rulership of Golden Horde, which in later period they have made it successful with the establishment of Muscovy dynasty.
Besides, they also faced problem from the rulers of Golden Horde especially during the early years of the period. The rulers of Golden Horde always created problems among the Russian rulers that would help them disunite the Russian princes and nobilities. This idea put the Russian rulers living in chaos and they did not manage to establish their strong power to fight against the rulership of Golden Horde.
by KeithSyakil, IIUM.
by KeithSyakil, IIUM.