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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Literary "defense of Kozelsk"

Nicholas Zharkikh

Shortened text of the section. Full text in ukrainian version.

The story about the defense of Kozelsk is included in the general story about the Batu’s campaign. It should be noted that the contemporary annals of the campaign – Novgorod and Vladimir (Laurentian annals) do not know anything about Kozelsk or its defense.

The story is written by a masterful writer and despite its small volume has all the necessary compositional elements – exposition (Batu and the little prince Vasyl), knotting of the intrigue (townsmen decide to defend themselves), rapid development of the action with a climax (the death of the participants of the sortie), denouement (the destroying of the town) and the epilogue (the fate of prince Vasyl). Also, the story has features of "history", because it first talks about the actions of the Kozelsk townsmen, and then – about the actions of the Tatars.

If we remove all literary parallels and obvious exaggerations from the above story, we will have the dry residue: the Tatars destroyed Kozelsk. There can be no objections to such information.

The literary history of this episode may turn out to be interesting, because it is far from over. Even now, new works of fiction about the siege of Kozelsk continue to arrive.