Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Notes on Moscow Kremlin

In the 12th Century, there was no Moscow, only a stockade - located on the site of the Kremlin today - whose inhabitants benefited from the rich commerce that passed along the river between northern Europe and Byzantium in the south. For protection from marauders, the stockade was turned into a fortress - the original meaning of the word "kremlin" - and the early settlement that became Moscow eventually grew around it. The fortress was not strong enough to withstand the 13th Century armies of nomad warriors - the Mongols - who swept out of Mongolia on swift ponies to conquer Russia, China, Persia and India. One of these armies, the Golden Horde led by Batu Khan descendant of Genghis Khan, overran almost all of Russia and burned Moscow in 1237. The town was slowly rebuilt, but survived in thrall to the Horde. The nomad Mongols did not install themselves as rulers; they lived apart, only visiting the town to collect annual tributes. To this day, a Moscow thoroughfare running southwards from the Kremlin bears the name Ordynka, which means highway to the camp of the Golden Horde.

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