The First Dukes of Muscowy and Ivan Kalita

  By Rider, 1 November 2006; Revised

The city of Moscow is known to be founded already in the times of Juri Dolgoruki, around 1147. Nevertheless, Muscovy was only a part of the Principality of Vladimir and therefore ruled by the Princes of Vladimir. Muscovy managed to claim his independence during the 13th century when the power of the Princes of Vladimir had weakened due to the emerging Mongols who assaulted the Rus states, which could not unify against the threat.

The first prince of independent Muscovy was Aleksandr Nevski’s son Daniil Aleksandrovich. Daniil conquered new territories for Muscovy, including the city of Kolomna from the Principality of Rjazan. His son conquered the city of Možaisk from the princes of Smolensk. By the conquests of Možaisk and Kolomna, the princes in Muscovy had become the rulers of the River Moscow. Able dukes and commanders enlargened the territories of Muscovy and it’s sphere of influence during many years. More and more peasants and merchants gathered to Muscovy from nearby principalities. In accordance with the civilian power, so did grow the military force of Muscovy.

Ivan Kalita

Ivan I Kalita
Ivan I Kalita
Ivan Kalita inherited the throne of Muscovy in 1325. The word ’kalita’ means ’Moneybag’. The Prince was named lika that, because he bought smaller principalities and therefore enlargened Muscowy by boughts, not conquests. Ivan was also very clever, and he knew that to stay in office for a longer period, he needed to be in contact with the Golden Horde. He often went to visit the Khans and he gave them mighty presents. Sometimes, he even took prsent along to the wives of the Khans. Usually, the present was of gold or of silver. Therefore, the Khans were pleased how Ivan Kalita ruled and attacked Muscovy very rarely.

The Khans had chosen Aleksandr, Prince of Tver, to become the Grand Prince of Russia. The Principality of Tver was very strong and was the main competitor of Muscowy. In 1327, an emissary of the Tartars, Tšolhan, came and started to collect tribute from Tver. However, the population started a rebellion and killed Tšolhan. Ivan Kalita, hearing these news, wanted to get arid of the Principality of Tver, and rode to the Golden Horde and returned with a force of 50,000 warriors.

Ivan attacked Tver and utterly defeated it. For this action, the Khan named his as the Grand Prince of Muscowy and it happened in 1328. Now the title of the Grand Prince belonged to the successors of Ivan Kalita. The Khan also trusted into the hands of Ivan, the office of collecting tributes. That allowed the Grand Prince to get even more richer.

Muscowy also became the center of ecclestical life in Russia. The head of the Orthodox chruch in Russia was the metropolitan bishop. The metropolitan bishop was living in Vladimir. Ivan became a good friend of the metropolitan bishop and the bishop started visiting Ivan often at Muscowy. The bishop died in Muscowy and the next bishop chose Muscowy as his seat of office.


The word ’Muscovy’ has been used instead of Moscow in most places, since sometimes the earlier period of the city is referred as such, the differ it from the later periods when Russia became a tzardom.