Vytautas – Tokhtamysh. the History of Political Alliance Late XIV Century

Borys Cherkas 
Doctor of Historical Sciences (Dr. hab. in History), Leading Research Fellow,
Institute of History of Ukraine of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Ukraine, Kyiv),
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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ul2015.03.031

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The article deals with the events on 1396–1399 A.D. We are talking about a political alliance with the GDL sovereign Vytautas and Tokhtamysh ruler of the Golden Horde. This political union actually changed the political palette of Central and Eastern Europe. For one thing, the Golden Horde Khan asked direct assistance from the European countries for the first time. In the future, it has become the usual practice. Secondly, the ruler of the Ulus Jochi officially resign a right of ownership on the part of some western Uluses of his state for benefit of the GDL. Thereby he authorized not only prior conquests of the GDL, but also created the legal preconditions for new acquisitions of Gediminovich`s kin in Horde possessions. Third, the utter defeat of Tokhtamysh on the river Vorskla in 1399 finally launched the process of internecine wars in the Golden Horde. At the same time, this defeat and its consequences opened up in the future the possibility for further expansion to the Black Sea ports to Vytautas. During springsummer 1397 Toktamysh with his troops retreated to the territory of the GDL, to Kyiv. There, under the protection of Vytautas, Khan collected a new army. His status – legitimate ruler of the Ulus Jochi, gave him the opportunity to conclude a political alliance with GDL and declare the military campaign to the East with the aim to defeat the rebels – Timur Kutluk and Edigei. At the same time, Vytautas took advantage of this Union for strengthening his power in the GDL, in the Ukrainian lands under GDL ownership, as well as the transfer of Lithuanian possessions abroad up to Black Sea. There existed lively trade routes of Great Silk Road, capture of them promised great profits and dividends to the policy. During the 1397–1398 biennium Allies made several military campaigns to the south, and as a result of this Vytautas founded number of fortresses on the Southern Bug and Dnieper. Today we have knowledge only about three of them. In 1399, the Allies organized a large military expedition to the European east to retake the throne in favor of Tokhtamysh. Status of Khan gave him an opportunity to gather warriors from the majority of Central and Eastern European countries under the banner of war. But in the battle on the river Vorskla in 1399 allies army was defeated by the united forces of Timur Kutluk and Edigei. At the same time, despite the defeat and heavy losses, Tatar-victors failed to capture Kiev and other Ukrainian lands they lost during 1362–1374 years. The article emphasizes the important fact. In commonly used statement adopted in historiography that the GDL lost a Vorskla battle in favor of Golden Horde is completely incorrect. Tokhtamysh was exactly the legitimate ruler. Not without reason Timur Kutluk even thought to come over to the side of Vytautas as Tokhtamysh with the GDL army approached him. Accordingly, from a legal and regulatory aspects, this battle was a combat in which the united forces of the GDL and Golden Horde resisted rebels from among the Horde nobles which were supported by Timur. But the victory of the rebels has undermined the legitimacy of the Khan’s power and opened the doors for the processes of Golden Horde destruction.



The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Golden Horde, Vytautas, Tokhtamysh, TimurKutluk, Edigei Central and Eastern Europe, Vorskla.



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