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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Push to south

Nicholas Zharkikh

Three years Vytautas’ policy (1397 – 1399)

A series of articles proposed to your attention devoted to the actions of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas on the southern boundary of principality in 1397 – 1399 years. Most articles devoted source studies and may be interesting, it seems only experts; reconstruction of the course of events presented in the first article – "Vytautas’ marches to south (1397 – 1398)" and the last – "Battle of the Vorskla River in 1399".


1. Existing sources very sparingly illuminate events in 1397 and 1398; instead campaign in 1399 found a relatively complete coverage of sources written by contemporaries of events.

2. We can assume that Vytautas’ campaign in 1397 was directed to the Dnieper and led to the restoration of the power Tokhtamysh Khan in the western part of the Golden Horde. But this success Tokhtamysh was short-lived.

3. March 1398 was also directed to the Dnieper and resulted in the founding of the fortress of St. John on the Dnieper. It had become a stronghold of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the south. Participation of the Teutonic Order in this and subsequent campaigns can indicate its intention to relocate the Order to the south, to the Tatar border.

4. The campaign in 1399 aimed at restoring Tokhtamysh on the throne of the Golden Horde and subordination Horde to Vytautas impact.

5. It have been collected large forces coalition of Catholic powers (Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Teutonic Order, Poland) for march 1399. In scale mobilization area, complexity of coalition and duration of the campaign it was one of the major wars of the 14th century, which can be compared with the battle of Nikopol in 1396.

6. Vytautas’ defeat from Tatars in the Battle of the Vorskla marked termination expansion Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the south. In the following centuries, its power reached only Cherkasy – as it was before the Battle of the Vorskla River.

7. In historical works written in the late 15th and 16th centuries, events proposed time found exaggerated and fantastic lighting – a story about fabulous "campaign of Vytautas on the Don" and the historical novels of J. Dlugosz, B. Wapowski, Nikon Chronicle, poem M. Stryjkowski. This is – interesting works of fiction, but in any case – historical sources about the events of the late 14th century.

Kyiv, February 2 – April 13, 2017.

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