Battle of Kulikovo
Part of Mongol invasion of Rus'
XVII century illustration
Date September 8, 1380
Location Kulikovo Field near the Don River
Result Decisive Moscow victory, securing the title of Grand Duke after the Moscow faction
Coat of Arms of Moscow.svg Grand Duchy of Moscow
Belozersk COA (Novgorod Governorate) (1781).png Principality of Beloozero
Coat of Arms of Rostov (Yaroslavl oblast).png Principality of Rostov
Coat of Arms of Yaroslavl (1995).png Principality of Yaroslavl
Nizhny Novgorod (Nizhny Novgorod Governorate) COA (1781).png Principality of Suzdal—Nizhny Novgorod
Coat of Arms of Murom (Vladimir oblast) (1781).png Principality of Murom
20px Golden Horde
Commanders and leaders
Dmitri Ivanovich of Moscow Mamai
50,000-60,000 [1]
near 30,000[2]
100,000[3] – 150,000[4]
near 30,000[2]
Casualties and losses
20,000 killed
5,000 - 8,000[5]
Almost entire army killed
near 10,000[5]

The Battle of Kulikovo (Russian: Мамаево побоище, Донское побоище, Куликовская битва, битва на Куликовом поле) was a battle between Tatar Mamai and Muscovy Dmitri Donskoy and portrayed by the Russian historiography as a stand-off between Russians and Golden Horde. However the political situation at time was much more complicated and concerned the politics of the Northeastern Rus'. The battle took place on September 8, 1380 at the Kulikovo Field near the Don River (now Tula Oblast) and resulted in a victory of Dmitri Ivanovich of Moscow. The battle's site is commemorated by a memorial church built from a design by Aleksey Shchusev.


Upon the Mongol-Tatar conquest the territories of disintegrating Kievan Rus became part of the western region of the Mongol Empire, the Golden Horde, center of which was established in the lower Volga region. The numerous Russian (or Ruthenian) principalities were not however fully integrated into the Empire, but required to pay a tax. During that time a small regional principality of Moscow had grown into well respected political entity and often challenging its neighbors for territorial claims, particularly, the Grand Principality of Ryazan. The Moscow - Ryazan stand off took place long before the Mongol-Tatar conquest, during the rise of regional powers within the Kievan Rus.

The civil war had ensued on the territory of the falling Golden Horde and the new political powers were appearing such as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Grand Principality of Ryazan, and others. In 1370 after a mysterious death of Khan Abdulla the Tatar warlord (temnik) Mamai took power in the Golden Horde as a regent over the immature Khan Muhammad Bolak. The growing Grand Duchy of Lithuania was gaining a momentum taking over former territories of the Golden Horde and after the Battle of Blue Waters securing power not only over Kiev, but also parts of the northern Black Sea coast. As Mamai was not a Genghisid, his position remained vulnerable as there were legal descendants of Genghis Khan who were in a position to lay claim to the throne. During that time the Grand Prince of Moscow was refused to be passed a jarliq for the Grand Principality of Vladimir, which he possessed since 1362. In 1371 Mamai passed it to the Prince of Tver. The Grand Prince of Moscow, Dmitri Ivanovich, refused to accept subordination to the new leadership. In 1377 friend of Mamai Arpash raided Nizhny Novgorod and Ryazan after defeating the Suzdal-Moscow united army of Dmitri at the Battle on Pyana River. Mamai sought to affirm his sovereignty over the tributary lands of the Golden Horde. In 1378 he sent forces led by warlord Murza Begich to enforce the Moscow Prince's obedience. But the Horde army was defeated at the battle of the Vozha River and Begich was killed. Simultaneously another khan Tokhtamysh (in Middle Asia) challenged the throne of the Golden Horde in 1378. Although unsuccessful at first, he managed to find more solid support to establish himself as the new khan of the Golden Horde.

Two years later Mamai himself led his armies to Rus. Prior to invading, he conducted negotiations with Prince Jogaila of Lithuania and Russian prince Oleg of Ryazan, a fierce enemy of Dmitri. The armies of Lithuania and Ryazan were sent to join the Tatars. Mamai set his camp on the shore of Don, waiting for allies.

Dmitry mobilised his troops and allies in Kolomna to resist the invasion. In Troitse-Sergieva Lavra he met St. Sergius of Radonezh, who blessed the Russian armies before the battle. Dmitri knew about the approaching armies of Lithuania and Ryazan, and decided not to wait but to attack Mamai immediately, before he could be reinforced. On September 7, 1380, the Russians crossed the Don.


Memorial column on the Kulikovo field was designed by Alexander Brullov in 1848

Duel of Alexander Peresvet and Mamai's champion. By Victor Vasnetsov

Combined Russian armies under the command of the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Dmitri Ivanovich of Moscow (called after the battle "Dmitri of the Don", in Russian "Donskoy") faced a much larger Tatar force under the command of Mamai, a strongman of the Golden Horde. Mamai's allies, Grand Prince Oleg of Ryazan and Grand Prince Jogaila of Lithuania were late to the battle. The old Russian poem Zadonshchina lists 150,000 Russians and 300,000 Tartaro-Mongols, but the actual size of the Kulikovo Field would not allow such a quantity of troops. Most likely the figures were closer to 60,000 Russians, including seven thousand rebel Lithuanians, and 125,000 Tatars.

The battle

Dmitry Donskoy in the thick of the fray.

Exhausted Dmitry having his wounds cared after the battle. By Vasily Sazonov

On the morning of September 8, a thick fog covered the Kulikovo Field. The fog cleared around 11 A.M, at which point both armies began simultaneously advancing on each other.

The battle was opened by a single combat of two champions. The Russian champion was Alexander Peresvet, a monk from the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius sent to the battle by Sergius of Radonezh. The Horde champion was Temir-murza (also Chelubey or Cheli-bey). The champions killed each other in the first run, though, according to Russian sources, Peresvet did not fall from the saddle, while Temir-murza fell.

Dmitry exchanged his armor with young Moscow boyarin Mikhail Brenok, pretending to be an ordinary knight. Brenok was to imitate the Prince himself, bearing his banner and wearing his armor. The trick was successful: Tatars aimed at Dmitri's banner, and ultimately killed Mikhail Brenok, believing he was the Prince. Dmitri himself survived, although wounded while fighting, and immediately after the battle fainted from bleeding and exhaustion.

After approximately three hours of battle (from noon to 3 p.m.) the Russian forces were successful, although suffering great casualties, in holding off the Horde's attack. The cavalry of Vladimir, Prince of Serpukhov (Dmitri's cousin), led by Dmitri Bobrok launched a flanking surprise counter strike and achieved victory over the Horde forces. Mamai escaped to Crimea, where he was assassinated by his enemies, leaving the Horde under the command of Tokhtamysh.

The Location

Ancient sources do not give a precise description of the place of the battle. As a result, until 19th century the place of the battle was considered unknown. In 19th century Stepan Nechaev suggested a precise location of the battle and his hypothesis was accepted. In 20th century Anatoly Fomenko offered a hypothesis that the battle took place in the centre of Moscow on Taganka Square as a part of his general revisionist New Chronology program.


This victory was the early signal of the end of the "Mongol yoke" (vassalage), which officially ended with the great standing on the Ugra river a century later. Its spiritual importance for the unification of the Russian lands was even more important. As Nikolai Karamzin said, the Russians went to the Kulikovo Field as citizens of various principalities and returned as a united Russian nation.

A minor planet 2869 Nepryadva discovered in 1980 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh was named to honor the Russian victory over Tataro-Mongols in the battle at Kulikovo near Nepryadva River on September 8, 1380.[6]


The historical evaluation of the battle has many views of what the event represented in the course of history.

  • The traditionally Russian point of view sees the battle as the first step in liberation of the Russian lands from the Golden Horde dependency.
  • Some analysts of the Eastern Orthodox approach portray the battle as a stand off between the Christian Rus and a steppe non-Christians.
  • The Russian historian Sergei Solovyov saw the battle as critical for the history of the Eastern Europe in stopping another invasion from the Asia, similar to the Battle of Châlons of the 5th century and the Battle of Tours of the 8th century in the Western Europe.
  • Some critical analysts have an opinion that the meaning of the battle is over evaluated and does not represent nothing more of a simple regional conflict within the Golden Horde.
  • Another Russian historian Lev Gumilyov sees in Mamai a representative of economic and political interests from outside, particularly, the Western Europe which in the battle were represented by the numerous Genoese mercenaries, while the Moscow army stood in support of the rightful ruler of the Golden Horde Tuqtamış xan.

See also

"The Field of Kulikovo" (1890s). A large-scale hand-drawn lubok by I.G. Blinov (ink, tempera, gold).


  • Dmitri Donskoy
  • Alexander Peresvet
  • Oslyabya
  • Kulikovo Field
  • Stepan Nechaev

Related battles

  • Battle of the Vozha River (1378)
  • Great stand on the Ugra river
  • Tatar invasions
  • Russo-Kazan Wars
  • Mongol invasion of Rus
  • Timeline of the Tataro-Mongol Yoke in Russia


  1. ^ Разин Е. А. История военного искусства VI — XVI вв. С.-Пб.: ООО «Издательство Полигон», 1999. — 656 с. Тираж 7000 экз. ISBN 5-89173-040-5 (VI — XVI вв.). ISBN 5-89173-038-3. (Военно-историческая библиотека)[1]
  2. ^ a b L. Podhorodecki, Kulikowe Pole 1380, Warszawa 2008, s. 106
  3. ^ Карнацевич В. Л. 100 знаменитых сражений. — Харьков., 2004. - стр. 139
  4. ^ Мерников А. Г., Спектор А. А. Всемирная история войн. — Минск., 2005.
  5. ^ a b L. Podhorodecki, Kulikowe Pole 1380, Warszawa 2008, s. 130-131
  6. ^ [ Schmadel, Lutz D. - Dictionary of Minor Planet Names - 5th ed., 2003, Springer Verlag, ISBN 3540002383
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Coordinates: 53°39.15′N 38°39.21′E / 53.6525, 38.6535


Battle of Kulikovo (1380) military event 0

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