The Battle of Kulikovo Refought

“The First National Feat”


The battle of Kulikovo, fought between Muscovite and Tatar troops in 1380, has been considered as a crucial turning point in the national history of Russia. In The Battle of Kulikovo Refought Kati Parppei examines the layers of contemporary meanings attached to the event from the Middle Ages to the present, following the formation and establishment of the collective images and perceptions concerning the battle.

By utilizing a diverse set of sources she shows that the present image of the medieval battle was created in retrospect from the 15th century onwards by interpolating, interpreting and simplifying. The narrative themes emphasizing internal unity have been applicable to practically any political situation over the centuries, especially to ones involving external threat.

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Kati Parppei, Ph. D. (2010), University of Eastern Finland, is Academy Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Russian History at that university. Amongst her previous publications is "The Oldest One in Russia": The Formation of the Historiographical Image of Valaam Monastery (Brill, 2011).
Foreword and acknowledgements
List of maps and illustrations
“Light of freedom began to dawn”
“History’s turning points”
The battle of Kulikovo as “mythscape”
Hindsight and narrative
About the structure of the book
Part 1 The medieval and pre-modern battlefield
1.1. The battle of Kulikovo in the early sources
1.2. The first chronicle entries
1.3. New cluster of texts
1.4. The Life of Dmitrii Ivanovich
1.5. Poetic Zadonshchina
1.6. Expanded Chronicle Tale
Oleg of Riazan – “the new Judas”
Churchmen enter the scene
Anticipation and divine miracles
1.7. Vassian Rylo’s letter to Ivan III
1.8. The Tale of the Rout of Mamai
“Like a flock of sheep”
Allies of Mamai and Dmitrii
Role of Dmitrii’s family
Involvement of the Trinity Monastery
Metropolitans alive and dead
Omens and comparisons
Events on the battlefield
Image of Dmitrii in “The Tale”
List of motifs: the plot-structure is established
1.9. Further developments
Nikon Chronicle
Book of Degrees
Zadonshchina : the longer version
Our Lady of the Don – and Vladimir
Part 2 From manuscripts to national history writing
Entering the age of print
2.1. The Kievan Sinopsis – the first history textbook
“Slavo-Rossian” viewpoint
The adventures of Zakhariia Tiuchev
Other details in the Sinopsis
2.2. Historians’ Kulikovo takes shape
First steps in national history writing
Mankiev’s “secular Kulikovo”
V. N. Tatishchev’s detailed narrative
M. M. Shcherbatov’s critical touch
I. N. Boltin: defending the virtues of the Muscovite Grand Prince
2.3. “First National Victory”: Russian National Historiography and the Kulikovo Battle
Scholarly developments
N. M. Karamzin’s patriotic viewpoint
N. A. Polevoi – a critic who failed
S. M. Solov’ev: “Europe over Asia”
N. I. Kostomarov: Dmitrii as a man of “poor talent”
V. O. Kliuchevskii: “The first national victory”
Later developments
Part 3 Popular Kulikovo
3.1. Popular-historical publications
The first attempts
Productive Gur’ianov
Kazadaev’s post-Napoleonic ideas
Afremov’s military details
500-year celebrations: Ilovaiskii’s “historical viewpoint”
The Ottoman question
3.2. School textbooks
Ilovaiskii and the role of Riazan
Ostrogorskii fulfilling “certain didactic criteria”
“The first national feat”
The active role of Dmitrii
S. F. Platonov’s enduring interpretations
3.3. Lubok literature
“The horrible rout of Mamai”
3.4. Oral tradition
Historical songs and the “Saturday of Dmitrii”
Afanas’ev and “godless Mamai”
Kulikovo in bylinas
3.5. Plays and poetry
Ozerov and “Dmitrii Donskoi”
Poems inspired by Kulikovo
3.6. Visual battlefield
Kulikovo in artworks
Monument to Kulikovo
Epilogue: Notes on Soviet and post-Soviet Kulikovo
”Contemporary Kulikovo fields”
St. Dmitrii Donskoi
Kulikovo in images
Mythscape challenged
Printed chronicle sources
Other printed sources
Virtual sources

All interested in Russian history, cultural history, history of ideas and/or mentalities, and the uses of history.
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