“The interpretation of the events of 1480 will be perceived differently by Russians and Tatars”

Tatarstan historians have warned of serious consequences for inter-ethnic harmony in Russia in case of the recognition of the Great Stand on the Ugra River as a memorable date

“The interpretation of the events of 1480 will be perceived differently by Russians and Tatars” Photo: wikipedia.org (Great Stand on the Ugra River. The Miniature of the Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible. 16th centurt)

Tatarstan scientists strongly condemned the proposal to include the events of 1480, or what is known as the Great Stand on the Ugra River, in the memorable dates of Russia. The Kazan historians consider it “inexpedient and, moreover, dangerous tendency”. In the author's column for Realnoe Vremya, Iskander Gilyazov, the director of the Institute of the Tatar Encyclopedia and Regional Studies of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan, Ddoctor of Historical Sciences, Professor, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences, explained what consequences this rash decision can have.

Great Stand on the Ugra River

I consider the inclusion of the events of 1480, related to what is known as the Great Stand on the Ugra River, in the number of memorable dates in the military-political history of Russia to be an inappropriate and, moreover, dangerous trend.

First, the very interpretation of these events is not quite reasoned by historical facts. In many ways, in this case we are dealing with historical myth-making, the basis of which was laid by the Russian historian of the late 18th — early 19th century, N. M. Karamzin.

By 1480, the once powerful Golden Horde was almost gone: its “prosperity” was chronologically very short and fell on the first half of the 14th century. In the second half of the 14th century, it already entered into a deep economic and political crisis. In the 15th century, there was an intense process of disintegration of the empire.

Therefore, it can be reasonably argued that the full-fledged, permanent dependence, for example, of the Grand Duchy of Moscow on the Golden Horde at this time is no longer observed, the relationship between the two states actually disintegrate into separate episodes — in some years, Moscow recognizes its dependence, in others — shows obvious independence and refuses to obey the power of the khans.

In many ways, in this case we are dealing with historical myth-making, the basis of which was laid by the Russian historian of the late 18th — early 19th century, N. M. Karamzin. Photo: milcult.ru

“Maybe we also should include the stop of tribute payment to Kazan in the calendar of memorable dates?”

Besides, it should be borne in mind that by the middle of the 15th century in the immediate vicinity of the borders of the Moscow state, there has already existed Crimean Khanate and Kazan Khanate, Nogai Horde. So, what is known as the Great Horde was only one of the fragments of the disintegrated empire. With each of these INDEPENDENT States, Moscow was building its relationship. It is known, for example, that Grand Prince Vasily II began to pay a full tribute to the Kazan Khanate in 1445, giving a promise to Khan Ulugh Muhammad. The payment of tribute by Moscow to Kazan lasted until 1466. Maybe then we should include the stop of tribute payment to Kazan in the calendar of memorable dates? Or the important event such as the capture of Kazan by Ivan III in 1487, the capture of the Kazan Khan and the establishment of the “Moscow protectorate” over Kazan?

Highlighting the events of 1480, we unfortunately re-interpret the history in favour of modern political expediency, instead of strictly following the historical outline. It was actually just one of the many episodes in military-political contacts of Moscow with the states-successors of the Golden Horde... It seems that the definition of “Great Horde” played with some historians a cruel joke — the Great Horde was neither big nor strong... It was one of many…

The Miniature of the Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible. Photo: runivers.ru

“It can cause unreasonable feelings of superiority over others in Russians”

Second, if we are talking about patriotism and the educational function of history, then, undoubtedly, in the historical past, we should first promote the facts and events that unite the multinational people of the Russian Federation, and not divide it. Even Russian history of the 15th century, if we accept that the Stand on the Ugra River was indeed an important and significant event, it is necessary to think about how it will be perceived by our contemporaries — the Tatars and the Russians? Will the topic of hostile relations between the Moscow state and the Golden Horde be discussed again? Will the topic of the notorious “Mongol-Tatar Yoke” be raised again? Will the Tatars in the ordinary consciousness of a person who is not too familiar with the history and does not delve into all the details of the events of the past, will be again perceived as enemies? How constructive, productive and useful is it in modern conditions?

That is, it may happen that the above mentioned interpretation of the events of 1480 absolutely differently will be perceived by the Russians and Tatars: this can cause unwarranted feelings of superiority over the others in Russians; in Tatars, who consider the history of the Golden Horde an important part of the historical past (though it is part of Russian history) — the feelings of resentment and frustration.

Even these brief considerations give me reason to seriously doubt the need to include the events of 1480 in the number of memorable dates in the history of Russia.

By Iskander Gilyazov
Tatarstan