Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 15.01.2018
The Kyiv state freed the ancestors of Muscovites (Russians) from having to pay tribute to the Khazars, taught them literacy and introduced them to Christian culture. However, in the mid-12th century the ancestors of Muscovy (Russia) separated from Kyiv and created their own state, Suzdal, which later came to be known as Muscovy. The borders of the Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal were those of the Finno-Ugric tribe Merya. Kyivan princes sent their youngest sons to rule there. Suzdal princes were able to build strength, while Rus’ was wearing down in the struggle against the steppe peoples.
Since the 12th century, the descendants of Mstyslav the Great ruled largely in Ukraine and in Smolensk and Novgorod, which were subordinated to Kyiv, while the descendants of Yuri Dolgorukiy (Yuriy Long-Armed), Monomakh’s youngest son, ruled in Zalesye (now Muscovy or Russia) with increasing independence.
Prince Andrei Bogoliubskiy, “the first Great Russian on the historical stage”, 20th-century reconstruction based on his skull
Andrei Bogoliubskiy (Andrei God-Lover), a son of Yuri Dolgorukiy, was born of a Cuman woman, Cuman Khan Ayepa’s daughter, and had the peculiar features of the Asian steppe people. In his struggle against Kyiv, Bogoliubskiy constantly supported his kin people, the Cumans, who were the main enemy of Rus’. Yuri Dolgorukiy lived in Zalesye almost his entire life, making every effort to seize Kyiv.
In contrast, Bogoliubskiy said: “There is no room for us in Rus’.” He was the first to break the three century-long tradition of the Rurik princes to recognize Kyiv and the Kyiv region as their only homeland. Bogoliubskiy stole the famous icon of the Mother of God (later known as the Theotokos of Vladimir), which had been brought from Byzantium for Mstyslav the Great. Bogoliubskiy took it from Vyshgorod (near Kyiv) to Vladimir-on-Klyazma.
In 1169 an army sent by Bogoliubskiy against Kyiv besieged the city. After three days of fierce fighting on the walls, the invaders outflanked the defenders of the city over Yurkovytsia Hill. The nomadic Berendei and Torkils, whose companies served the Grand Prince of Kyiv, betrayed him. The prince of Suzdal seized the city and ravaged it completely. The chronicle calls his army pagans, because Christianization had not been completed in the Central Russian lands from which they came.
Bogoliubskiy continued to drive out the princes of the Kyiv dynasty, the descendants of Mstyslav the Great, from their ancient lands and organized a campaign against Novgorod to defeat Roman Mstyslavych, the future founder of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, but the Suzdal force suffered a crushing defeat.
In the Kyiv region, the resistance was led by Mstyslav II the Brave (son of Iziaslav II, grandson of Mstyslav the Great, grandgrandson of Volodymyr II Monomakh), the best known and most loved prince in Ukraine at the time. He ordered the envoy of the Suzdal prince to shave his head and beard.
In 1172 Bogoliubskiy gathered a 50,000-strong army composed of warriors from Suzdal, Ryazan, etc. This was one of the biggest armies mentioned in Ukrainian medieval chronicles. The Suzdal force besieged Mstyslav the Brave in Vyshgorod. The Rus’ army fought the attackers on the city walls and near the city for nine weeks. The Suzdal army was defeated at Vyshgorod in the early winter of 1173 and Bogoliubskiy was soon killed in Suzdal by conspirators who rebelled against his cruelty.
The murder of Andrei Bogoliubskiy, miniature from a chronicle, 14th century.
The church made Mstyslav the Brave, who led the defeat of the Suzdal army, a saint. The chronicle reports that the Novgorod residents invited him to come and rule over them, but he did not want to leave Rus’ at any cost.
Therefore, the attempts of Suzdal princes to take control over Rus’ and its subjects Novgorod and Smolensk fell through. Kyiv remained the capital of all lands that belonged to the Kyivan state from the 10th to the 12th century and a powerful political, economic and religious center.
Prince Mstyslav the Successful, son of Mstyslav the Brave, crushed the army of the Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal at the Lipytsia River in 1216. According to the chronicles, the Suzdal prince and his brother Yaroslav, the future father of Alexander Nevsky, fled in their underwear, tiring out seven horses and leaving behind their entire army on the battlefield. Under the attacks of Kyivan princes, the Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal fell apart.
A helmet abandoned, together with chain armor, by the fleeing prince of Vladimir-Suzdal 20km away from the site of the Battle of Lipitsa. The helmet was found by a peasant woman in the early 19th century.