Vladimir Monomakh went down in Russian history as the first defender of Russia and the winner of the Polovtsian steppe, an example to follow for the great princes of Moscow, Russian tsars and emperors.
Victory over the Cumans
The battle under the year of Louben did not end the confrontation with the Cumans. Vladimir Monomakh decided to go on the offensive himself and not give rest to the steppe people even in winter, when they felt safe. In the winter of 1109, the Russian prince sent the Seversky Donets to his voivode Dmitry Ivorovich with the Pereyaslavl army. The infantry, moving on sleds, also took part in the campaign. The Russian troops defeated the hastily assembled army of the Polovtsians, ravaged the enemy settlements. Having found out that several Polovtsian khans were gathering soldiers on a large campaign against the Russian lands, Monomakh suggested that the allies gather a large army and attack the enemy themselves.
In February 1111, Russian squads gathered again in the border Pereyaslavl. The Grand Duke of Kiev Svyatopolk with his son Yaroslav, the sons of Monomakh - Vyacheslav, Yaropolk, Yuri and Andrey, David Svyatoslavovich of Chernigov with the sons and sons of Prince Oleg took part in the campaign. Gathered up to 30 thousand soldiers. The campaign itself was a kind of "cross" - the army was blessed by the bishops, many priests rode with the warriors. Again they took a lot of infantry - warriors on the campaign. They went on a sleigh, but when the snow began to melt, they had to be abandoned on Khorol. Further the warriors walked on their own. On the way, they crossed the rivers Psel, Goltva, Vorksla and others, which are full of water in the spring.
The Polovtsi did not dare to fight, they retreated. Having made a march almost 500 km - the Russian army on March 19 reached the city of Sharukani. It was a large, crowded city of Polovtsians and Ases-Yases-Alans. The city on the banks of the Seversky Donets was the headquarters of the powerful Khan Sharukan. The townspeople surrendered to the mercy of Monomakh and greeted his warriors with honey, wine and fish. The prince demanded that the local elders hand over all the prisoners, lay down their arms and pay tribute. The city was not touched.
Having stood in Sharukan for only one night, the Russian troops left for another Polovtsian city - Sugrov. The fortified city resisted and was burned. We got to the Don. Meanwhile, the Polovtsians gathered a huge army, called relatives from the North Caucasus and the Volga. On March 24, the first fierce battle took place. Monomakh built an army and said: "Here is death for us, let us become strong." The result of the battle could only be victory or death - the Russian regiments had gone too far into enemy territory, there was no way to retreat. "Chelo" (center) was occupied by the Grand Duke, on the right wing stood Monomakh with his sons, on the left - the princes of the Chernigov land. Sharukan Khan attacked along the entire front, pinning down all the Russian regiments in action. Polovtsian regiments marched one after another, attack followed attack. The fierce slaughter continued until darkness, in the end the Polovtsians fled.
The Polovtsi were not yet broken. Pulling up reinforcements, they further strengthened their army, "like a great forest and the darkness of darkness." On the morning of March 27, the second, main battle began on the Salnitsa River (Salnitsa). The Polovtsian command tried to realize its numerical advantage and take the Russian regiments into a ring. But Monomakh seized the initiative - he threw his squads to meet the enemy cavalry, behind them, supporting them, the Russian infantry marched in a dense formation. The Polovtsian cavalry had to take a direct battle. The fight was fierce, no one wanted to give in. But the Russian regiments pushed the enemy step by step, who could not realize their strengths - maneuverability and numerical advantage. The Polovtsi mingled and ran. They were pressed to the river and began to be destroyed. Only a part of the steppe inhabitants were able to cross the Donskoy Yurod and escape. Khan Sharukan personally lost 10 thousand soldiers in this battle. Many Polovtsians were captured. The Russians took huge booty.
The news of the terrible pogrom on the Don quickly spread across the steppe, reaching "to the Poles (Poles), Ugrians (Hungarians) and to Rome itself." The Polovtsian princes began to hastily leave the borders of Russia. After Vladimir Monomakh became the Grand Duke, Russian troops in 1116 made another major campaign in the steppe led by Yaropolk Vladimirovich and Vsevolod Davydovich and captured 3 cities from the Polovtsi - Sharukan, Sugrov and Balin. In the last years of his life, Monomakh sent Yaropolk with an army for the Don against the Polovtsy, but he did not find them there. The Polovtsi migrated away from the borders of Russia for the "Iron Gates", for the "Golden Gates of the Caucasus" - Derbent. 45 thousand Polovtsians with the prince Otrok went to the service of the Georgian king David the Builder, who at that time was waging a difficult struggle with the Muslim rulers, the Seljuk Turks and the Oguzes. The Polovtsi greatly strengthened the Georgian army, becoming its core, and the Georgians were able to push the enemy out. The horde of Prince Tatars, roaming in the west, went to the free Hungarian steppes, where they settled between the Danube and the Tisza.
The remaining Polovtsians tried to maintain peaceful relations with the Russians. Former enemies of the Tugorkanovichs entered into an alliance with Monomakh, the youngest son of Vladimir Andrei married Tugorkan's granddaughter. Friendly Polovtsian tribes were allowed to roam at the borders, trade in Russian cities, together the Russians and Polovtsians reflected a common danger. Thus, Monomakh temporarily secured the southern borders of Rus.
In 1113 the Grand Duke Svyatopolk fell ill and died. He left behind a heavy legacy. The common people were dissatisfied, boyars, tiuns and Jewish usurers (Khazars) enslaved people, sold entire families into slavery for debts. The people of Kiev turned to the hero and protector of the people - Monomakh. His name was on everyone's lips, he was the largest figure in Russia, towering over all the princes. But Vladimir again, like 20 years ago, renounced the Kiev throne, did not want to disturb the order. Svyatoslavichi - Davyd, Oleg and Yaroslav followed the ladder behind Svyatopolk Izyaslavich. Davyd Chernigovsky was loved by the boyars - he showed weakness. The Svyatoslavichs' party had great support from the Jewish community, the interests of which the Svyatoslavichs, as closely related to Tmutarakan, in turn, protected in every possible way. Oleg was remembered as a troublemaker who led the Polovtsy to Russia. Therefore, the people seethed: "We do not want Svyatoslavichi!"
People from the entourage of the late Svyatopolk tried to use the situation - to drag his son Yaroslav Volynsky to the throne. Under him, they retained their previous position, income. Yaroslav, like his father, had strong ties with the Khazar community in Kiev. Do not want the Svyatoslavichi, well, giving Yaroslav! But people understood everything and the hatred, which had been accumulating for a long time, broke through. The courtyards of the thousand Putyata Vyshatich and the courtyards of the sotsky were plundered. The rebels tripled the pogrom in the Jewish quarter, freed the people sold into slavery (they were transported to the Crimea and further to the southern countries). Fearing for the fate of the Svyatopolk family, as well as the plundering of their yards and monasteries, the boyars gathered in the St. Sophia Cathedral in panic called for the reign of the popular Pereyaslavl prince Vladimir Monomakh. They implored to take power and not hesitate, otherwise the capital will perish in the fire of popular anger.
Vladimir agreed. So, in his declining years, the Pereyaslavl prince and the great warrior became the grand duke. As soon as he appeared in the capital Kiev, order was restored. The revolt stopped, the people of Kiev happily greeted the prince, respecting him for his firmness and justice. Svyatoslavich recognized the supremacy of Monomakh. Vladimir put things in order in Kiev. He changed the capital's administration, replaced Putyata with his own governor Ratibor. The debts of the townspeople to the usurers were forgiven, those sold into slavery were freed. At the same time, Monomakh decided to destroy the root of the problem once and for all. He acted decisively and toughly, as during the war with the Polovtsians. He summoned princes and thousand from the cities and ordered not to ruin and enslave people, since this undermines the power of the princes themselves, individual lands and the entire state. Usury was limited, and the Jews were expelled from the borders of Russia. They could take out their property, but they were forbidden to return on pain of death.
A supplement was adopted to Russkaya Pravda - Vladimir's Charter. Debt settlement has changed in accordance with the Charter. It was forbidden to take more than 20% per annum for the provided debt. These provisions of the "Charter" limited the arbitrariness of the usurers. The charter also contained new provisions on alleviating the plight of the common population - smerds, purchases, ryadovychs, serfs. Thus, the sources of servitude were clearly identified: self-sale into servitude, the transition to the status of a servant of a person who married without a corresponding contract to a servant, as well as entering the service of a master as a tiun without freedom specially stipulated in this case. The purchase, who had escaped from the master, also became a slave. If he left in search of the money needed to repay the debt, he could not be made a slave. In all other cases, attempts to enslave free people were suppressed. This allowed for some time to reduce social tension in society.
Monomakh with an iron hand was able to stop the disintegration of Russia for a short period of time, controlling most of the Russian land through his sons. They went through a good school and ruled with success in their father's Pereyaslavl, Veliky Novgorod, Smolensk, Rostov-Suzdal and Volyn. Vladimir held the power tightly. Those of the appanage princes who showed disobedience paid for their tendency to strife. Monomakh, as before, forgave the first offenses, but severely punished for the second. So, when Prince Gleb Minsky became at enmity with his brother Davyd Polotsky, climbed to plunder in the Smolensk region, attacked Slutsk and burned it, the Grand Duke gathered a general army and went to war against it. "Gleb bowed to Vladimir" and "asked for peace." Monomakh left Minsk to reign. But when Gleb again began strife, attacked the Novgorod and Smolensk lands, the Grand Duke deprived him of his inheritance.
Trouble has ripened again in Volyn. In the inheritance of Yaroslav gathered the associates of his father, expelled from Kiev, the Jewish usurers. Yaroslav was encouraged to fight for the Kiev table. They entered into an alliance with the Hungarian king Koloman, who was promised for help to the Carpathian region. Jewish merchants allocated gold to get their prince in Russia. In 1118, the Grand Duke, having gathered the squads of appanage princes, went to war against the Volyn prince Yaroslav Svyatopolkovich and he had to obey. The Hungarians did not come to the rescue, Koloman died at that time. Monomakh told Yaroslav: "Always go when I call you." However, the Volyn prince soon again showed his quarrelsome disposition - he called on the Poles (Poles) for help and attacked the Rostislavichi. Then Monomakh drove Yaroslav out of Vladimir-Volynsky and put his son Roman there, and after his death, Andrei. Yaroslav, who continued to be financed by Jewish merchants, continued the war and tried to regain possession with the help of Hungarian and Polish troops, but to no avail. In 1123 he died under the walls of Vladimir-Volynsky.
In the same year 1118, Monomakh helped his son Mstislav to restore order in Novgorod, where he was sitting. Local boyars, led by Stavr, reduced the payment of tribute to Kiev, staged riots, began negotiations with Prince Yaroslav Volynsky, the Svyatoslavichs. They say that in Novgorod they will put the one who will give the boyars more benefits and indulgences. The Grand Duke summoned the Novgorod boyars to Kiev and swore them in so that they would not look for princes outside Monomakh's house. He threw the main rebels into the woods. The alliance with the Novgorod boyars, then secured by the marriage of Mstislav to the daughter of the Novgorod boyar, became a counterweight to the Kiev boyar oligarchy.
Monomakh and his neighbors did not give up. The sons of Monomakh with Novgorodians and Pskovs more than once went to Finland and the Baltic states, "reminding" the local tribes under whose hand they live and who should be paid tribute. In the Zalessky land, the son of Monomakh Yuri fought against the robber Bulgarians-Bulgars, who invaded the Russian borders, captured people and sold them into slavery. Yuri, following the example of his father, realized that it was necessary to launch a counteroffensive in order to enlighten the neighbors. In 1117, Yuri's father-in-law, the Polovtsian prince Aepa, brought his horde to the rescue. The Polovtsi went up the Volga, broke into Bulgaria-Bulgaria. But local rulers deceived the Polovtsians. They pretended to accept the world, were ready to pay tribute, and threw a feast like a mountain. Polovtsian nobility and soldiers were poisoned. Yuri had to avenge the murder of his relatives for the hem. They gathered a large army and in 1120 the Russian flotilla attacked the enemy. Bulgaria was defeated, they took a lot of booty, and forced to pay tribute.
During the reign of Monomakh, Russia fought for the last time with the Byzantine Empire. Prince Svyatopolk greatly lowered the prestige of Russia in relations with Constantinople. Emperor Alexei Komnin now regarded Kiev as a vassal. Vladimir decided to put the Greeks in their place and restore Svyatoslav's strategy for the approval of Rus on the Danube. In Russia there was a Byzantine impostor False Genius II, posing as the long-murdered son of Emperor Roman IV - Leo Diogenes. Monomakh recognized the applicant and even gave his daughter Maria to him, helped to recruit troops. In 1116, under the pretext of returning the throne to the "legitimate prince", Monomakh went to war against Byzantium. With the support of Russian squads and allied Polovtsy, the Byzantine prince managed to capture many Danube cities, including Dorostol. However, the Greeks knew how to solve such problems. After failures on the battlefield, assassins were sent to the prince, who finished off Leo. Emperor Alexei managed to push back the Russian troops from the Danube and recapture Dorostol.
After the death of the pretender to the Byzantine throne, Vladimir Monomakh did not stop the war on the Danube, now acting in the interests of Leo's son, Tsarevich Vasily. He gathered troops and sent his commanders to the Danube. Peace with Byzantium was established only after the death of Emperor Alexei and the accession to the throne of his son John Comnenus. The new Byzantine ruler did not want war and wanted peace. He even sent signs of imperial dignity to Kiev, and recognized Monomakh as an equal king.
The Russian people sincerely respected Vladimir. He became the most revered prince of Russia both during his life and after his death. It is no coincidence that the chroniclers called him "a good prince", "more merciful than measure" and "compassionate." Monomakh became one of the images of the epic "Vladimir Krasno Solnyshko". In honor of him, Vladimir-on-Klyazma was named, an old fortress renovated by Monomakh, and which in the future became the capital of North-Eastern Russia.
Monomakh was at that time one of the most powerful rulers. In the "Word about the death of the Russian land" it was noted: "Then everything was subjugated by God to the peasant language [people] of the pogan country … Volodymyr Manamakh, to whom the Polovtsians have their own children in their cradle, and Lithuania from the swamp into the world did not vynikyvahu, but the Ugrians to the firmament of the stone mountains iron gates, anyhow the great Volodymyr tamo did not enter them. And the Germans are happy, I will be far beyond the blue sea … ".
Vladimir Monomakh went down in Russian history as the first defender of Russia and the winner of the Polovtsian steppe, an example to follow for the great princes of Moscow, Russian tsars and emperors. Vladimir was revered by Ivan III Vasilievich and Vasily III Ivanovich. Monomakh and the Romanovs were honored - Peter the Great, Catherine II and Alexander I.