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Novgorod marketplace by Apollinary Vasnetkov

A Timeline

I have improved the timeline in Ukraine’s Varangian Princes, its Primary Chronicle, and the Russkaya Pravda (23 April 2022). It complements earlier posts on the history of Ukraine and indicates that the Tsardom of Russia ended in 1721 when Peter the Great became an emperor. Nicholas II, the last Tsar, was the Emperor of Russia until 1917 or the Russian Revolution.

The Dissolution of the Grand Duchy of Kiev

This post shows how the Grand Duchy of Kyiv dissolved before the Mongol Invasion. Novgorod became independent of princely rulers. Kyiv was absorbed by Vladimir-Suzdal, which in turn was absorbed by the Duchy of Moscow, but dukes and princes were Rurikid princes for several generations, including Ivan the Terrible


First, Kievan Rus’ lost Novgorod, which Prince Oleg had ruled.

When Kiev declined, Novgorod soon (1136) declared its independence from princely power, and, although it accepted princely protectors from various neighbouring dynasties, it remained a sovereign city until conquered by Muscovy (Moscow).

(See Novgorod, Britannica)
Territorial development between 1300 and 1547, Grand Duchy of Moscow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Theotokos of Vladimir (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
Saint Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263), (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Rise of the Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal

Second, the Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal, one of the duchies that succeeded Kievan Rus’ in the late 12th century, gained prominence. In 1169, a few years after losing Novgorod, Kyiv was pillaged by Andrey Bogolyubsky, the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, from 1157 until he died in 1174. Prince Andrey’s father, Yuri I Vladimirovich (Yury Dolgorukliy), led his son on a conquest of Kyiv. This conquest was bloody, but under Andrey Bogolyubsky, Vladimir-Suzdal became the new capital of the Rus’. Moreover, Alexander Nevsky (1221 – 1263), Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kyiv (1236 – 52), and Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal (1252 – 63) defeated the Swedes on 15 July 1240 at the Battle of the Neva, protecting Novgorod from a full-scale invasion from the West. This victory earned Alexander a sobriquet, Nevsky from Neva. On 5 April 1242, his Rus’ army defeated German knights and the Estonian infantry at the Battle on the Ice. His envoys also signed a treaty between Russia and Norway in 1251. It prevented the Swedes from blocking the Baltic Sea, which hindered the movement of Rus’ people’s principalities.

He preserved Russian statehood and Russian Orthodoxy, agreeing to pay tribute to the powerful Golden HordeMetropolite Macarius canonized Alexander Nevsky as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547.

(See Alexander Nevsky, Wikipedia.)

He also obtained an exemption for Russian from a draft of men for a planned invasion of Iran.

(See Saint Alexander Nevsky, Britannica.) [1] [2]

Moreover, Vladimir welcomed the Theotokos of Vladimir, the Virgin of Vladimir, an icon created in Constantinople and sent to Kyiv as a gift before being transferred to the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir.

Vladimir-Suzdal is traditionally perceived as a cradle of the Great Russian language and nationality, and it gradually evolved into the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

(See Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal, Wikipedia.)

Daniel of Moscow

Third, Alexander Nevsky’s youngest son, Daniel of Moscow (1261 – 1303), born in the Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal, inherited the least of his father’s patrimony, Moscow. Ironically, Moscow developed into the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The Duchy of Moscow grew by conquering or annexing neighbouring principalities. In other words, Vladimir “gradually evolved into the Grand Duchy of Moscow.” Daniel of Moscow’s successors were Rurikid Princes, including Ivan the Terrible.

Time had elapsed since Vladimir the Great, Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kyiv, and the ruler of Kievan Rus’ from 980 to 1015, converted to Christianity (988) and imposed Christianity on the entire population of Kievan Rus’. Still, Vladimir the Great ascended the throne after a fratricidal war of succession. His father, Sviatoslav I of Kyiv, did not leave clear instructions about his line of succession. Vladimir’s brother, Yaropolk, murdered his other brother, Oleg of Drelinia, and conquered Rus’. Vladimir fled to Scandanavia and returned with an army of Varangian Vikings. He reconquered Rus’ and was Prince of Kievan Rus’.

Ögedei Khan‘s Invasion of Europe (see the Crimean Khanate)


Kyiv declined before the Mongol Invasion. It fragmented. It would enjoy a modest degree of independence as a Ukrainian Cossack state, but Ivan Mazepa and Charles XII of Sweden lost the battle of Poltava, in 1709.

In 1238, Kievan Rus’ was sacked by Mongol invaders. Batu Khan founded the Golden Horde, later consisting of Tatars and Turkic people. Ögedei Khan, the third son of Genghis Khan, succeeded Batu Khan. Ögedei ruled briefly. He died in 1241, ending the Mongol invasion of Russia. (See Mongol Invasion and List of conflicts in Europe, Wikipedia). However, Rus’ were vassals of the Golden Horde and Ösbeg Khan, or Ös Beg, adopted Islam. Laws would no longer reflect the Norse jurisprudence of the Russkaya Pravda.

The Golden Horde would remain active until 1480 – 82, when it was defeated at the Great Stand on the Ugra River. The Crimean Khanate and the Kazakh Khanate, the “last remnants of the Golden Horde,” survived until 1783 and 1847. (See Golden Horde, Wikipedia.) In 1354, Rome north, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. After their victory, the Ottomans conquered countries neighbouring present-day Russia. When the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire, Greek scholars fled to Italy carrying books and initiated the Renaissance. But artists, who produced icons, headed to Muscovy. Icons would henceforth be created in Muscovy.

Kyiv would enjoy a degree of independence as a Ukrainian Cossack state, but Ivan Mazepa and Charles XII of Sweden lost the battle of Poltava in 1709. But despite the Ukrainian diaspora, Ukraine remained, and it is currently defending the territorial integrity it gained in 1991 when the USSR collapsed.

Map of Ukrainian Diaspora in the world (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)


[1] Hellie, Richard. “Saint Alexander Nevsky”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Nov. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Alexander-Nevsky. Accessed 11 May 2022.

[2] According to the Encyclopedia Britannatica, [t]here is no book-length study of Nevsky in English. Information may be found in A. E. Presniakov, The Formation of the Great Russian State: A Study of Russian History in the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries (1970; Orig. pub. in Russian, 1918); and George Vernadsky, A History of Russia, vol. 3, The Mongols and Russia (1953).

Sergei Prokofiev, Dance of the Knights
The Moscow Kremlin under Prince Ivan Kalita (early XIV century) by Apollinary Vasnetsov

© Micheline Walker
11 May 2022