Moscow Surpasses Kiev

During the Mongol period, the princes of Moscow steadily increased their power. Their success was due in part to the city's location near important river trade routes. They also used their positions as tribute collectors for the Mongols to subdue neighboring towns. When the head of the Russian Orthodox Church made Moscow his capital, the city became Russia's religious center as well as its political center.

As Mongol power declined, the princes of Moscow took on a new role as defenders of Russia against foreign rule. In 1380, they rallied other Russians and defeated the Golden Horde at the battle of Kulikovo (koo lih KOH vuh). Although the Mongols continued their terrifying raids, their strength was much reduced.

Ivan the Great

A driving force behind Moscow's successes was Ivan III, known as Ivan the Great. Between 1462 and 1505, he brought much of northern Russia under his rule.

Ivan built the framework for absolute rule. He tried to limit the power of the boyars, or great landowning nobles. After he married a niece of the last Byzantine emperor, Ivan adopted Byzantine court rituals to emphasize Russia's role as the heir to Byzantine power.

Like the Byzantine emperors, he used a double-headed eagle as his symbol and sometimes referred to himself as tsar, the Russian word for Caesar. In 1504, a Russian church council echoed Byzantine statements, declaring, “By nature, the tsar is like any other man, but in power and office he is like the highest God.”

Ivan the Terrible

In 1547, Ivan IV, grandson of Ivan the Great, became the first Russian ruler officially crowned tsar. He further centralized royal power by limiting the privileges of the old boyar families and granting land to nobles in exchange for military or other service. At a time when the manor system was fading in Western Europe, Ivan IV introduced new laws that tied Russian serfs to the land.

About 1560, Ivan IV became increasingly unstable. He trusted no one and became subject to violent fits of rage. In a moment of madness, he even killed his own son.

He organized the oprichniki (ah PREECH nee kee), agents of terror who enforced the tsar's will. Dressed in black robes and mounted on black horses, they

A map shows the growth of Russia, from 1300 to 1584.
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Between 1300 and 1584, Russian lands expanded from a small area around Moscow to a large territory. In which period did Novgorod come under Moscow's rule?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments