Unlike many other heroes of the epic, Yevpatiy Kolovrat is a real person in history. For some things you need to take revenge, wash away with blood for the ruin of your native land and the murder of loved ones. The detachment of Evpaty Kolovrat, acting in the rear, caused a real panic in the ranks of the Mongols, inflicting a heavy defeat on the army of the invaders.
In the XIII century, the history of our country was divided into "before" and "after". “Before” there were close ties with Europe, the rapid development of culture, architecture, science... Our ancestors had to start almost from the beginning after the terrible invasion of nomads led by Batu, which hit Russia in 1237.
An external threat came at the most unfortunate moment - the Russian state entered a period of feudal fragmentation and was unable to resist the aggressors with a united front.
The number of Tatar-Mongolian troops that invaded Russia was unprecedented. According to various estimates, there were from 300 to 600 thousand soldiers in the ranks of Batu's army. This armada was well trained and well managed. According to historians, the Russian principalities, even with the unification of all forces into a single fist, which was not achieved in practice, could oppose the nomads no more than 100 thousand soldiers.
The Ryazan Principality took upon itself the first blow of Batu's troops. Batu, stopping at the southern borders of the principality, demanded from the Ryazan prince Yuri the payment of tribute and recognition of his power.
The envoy of the prince
Yuri, realizing that Ryazan would not stand alone, sent envoys for help to Prince Yuri of Vladimir and Prince Michael of Chernigov.
Prince Ingvar Ingvarevich was sent to Chernigov, among whom was the Ryazan boyar Yevpaty Kolovrat.
Quite a few sources have survived from the era of the Mongol invasion, and folk tales turn the personality of Kolovrat into a semi-mythical one, but historians believe that, unlike many other heroes of the epic, in this case we are talking about a real person.
At the time of Batu's invasion Evpatiy Kolovrat was about 35 years old. A native of the village of Frolovo, Shilovsky volost, occupied a prominent place under the Ryazan prince and was a governor. Apparently, Kolovrat was a man of great physical strength, an experienced warrior and a talented commander.
While the Ryazan embassy was in Chernigov, events in the Ryazan principality developed rapidly.
The Ryazan prince sent an embassy to Batu's camp, headed by his son Fyodor. Batu considered that the Russian ambassadors did not show sufficient humility and ordered them all to be killed, with the exception of one person who was sent with this news to Ryazan.
The death of Ryazan
After the death of the ambassadors, Yuri Ryazansky, who did not wait for help, decided to give the Mongols a battle in the field.
The widow of Prince Fyodor, who died in the embassy, Evpraksia committed suicide, throwing herself from the fortress wall together with her little son.
The battle of the Ryazan army, which consisted of several thousand people, against the 100,000th army of the Mongols, which took place on the Voronezh River, ended in the defeat of the Russians.
Batu's army approached the walls of Ryazan. The defense of the city began on December 16, 1237. The Ryazans skillfully repelled enemy attacks, but the forces were too unequal. The outcome of the battle was a foregone conclusion after the Mongols brought wall-beating machines to the fortress of the city. On the night of December 20-21, 1237, the Horde broke through the city wall and burst into the city by the light of torches.
A massacre began in Ryazan. Prince Yuri, who led the defense of the city, died along with most of the townspeople.
The ancient city was virtually completely destroyed and never rebuilt. Ryazan, which we know today, is actually the city of Pereyaslavl-Ryazansky, which became the capital of the Ryazan prince after the invasion. The name Ryazan has been attached to the city since the middle of the 14th century.
“Spirits take revenge”
After receiving news of the battle on the Voronezh River, Evpaty Kolovrat, together with a detachment of Ryazan soldiers who were at the embassy, hurried to the aid of his native city.
However, he arrived in Ryazan after Batu's army had moved on, leaving scorched earth behind.
Kolovrat was shocked - in Ryazan, the Mongols did not spare women, children, or the elderly. He decided to pursue the Tatars, who moved into the borders of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality, and attack them. He was joined by those who managed to survive in the vicinity of Ryazan. In total, the Kolovrat detachment numbered about 1,700 people.
Batu's army did not expect a strike from the rear, confident that the Ryazan squads were completely destroyed. Therefore, the attack of the Kolovrat detachment on the rearguard of the Mongols turned out to be completely sudden for the latter. Russian soldiers attacked the enemy from the forest, defeating their camp and inflicting a heavy defeat on the Mongols.
There is also no consensus on how many battles the Kolovrat detachment had with the Tatars. Some believe that the Ryazans launched several successful partisan attacks on Batu's army, causing a real panic in the ranks of the Mongols.
The warriors of Batu were pagans and believed that it was not people who were fighting with them, but the angry spirits of the fallen Ryazans.
The last battle
Batu himself was seriously worried about blows to the rear and significant losses. He immediately deployed large forces against the Ryazan detachment.
The advantage in numbers decided the outcome of the confrontation. The Mongols, who overtook the detachment of Evpaty Kolovrat, managed to cut off the Russian soldiers from the forest, imposing a field battle on them in fact in complete encirclement.
The "mopping-up" was led by the Mongol commander Khostovrul, the brother of the wife of Batu himself, who intended to take the impudent Russian commander alive.
However, the attacks of the Mongols were not successful. Moreover, Khostovrul himself died. The Mongol army suffered the heaviest losses in the battle with a handful of stubborn Russians who were bleeding but refusing to submit.
According to legend, Batu, who did not want to lose his people in this massacre, sent an ambassador to the Russians with the question: “What do you want?”. "Only die!" came the grim reply.
It was possible to put an end to the resistance of the Kolovrat detachment only when stone-throwing machines designed to destroy the fortifications were used against the surrounded Russian soldiers.
Of the 1700 Russians, the Mongols managed to take only six wounded soldiers alive. Evpatiy Kolovrat died on the battlefield.
Honor is above all
Batu through the interpreter asked the prisoners who they were and why they pursued and killed his people. The captives answered that they were Ryazanians, they took revenge on the Mongols for the ruin of their native land and the murder of loved ones. The surviving soldiers behaved confidently and advised Batu not to postpone his own execution.
Batu ordered to bring the body of the deceased Russian commander. He peered into Kolovrat's face for a long time, and then said:
- With a thousand such heroes as this Russian knight, I could conquer the whole world!
As a sign of respect for the courage of the Russians, Batu ordered the release of the prisoners and give them the body of Evpaty Kolovrat so that they could bury him with honors.
On January 11, 1238, Evpaty Kolovrat was solemnly buried in Ryazan.
Nine days later, on January 20, 1238, the Tatars took the small town of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality - Moscow.
This small town had yet to unite the Russian lands, throw off the yoke chains and start writing a new history of the country.
And Ancient Russia was fading into the past, leaving after its death the memory of the courage of its last defenders who saved its honor. Such as Yevpatiy Kolovrat.
Author: Andrey Sidorchik
The legend of Kolovrat. Movie trailer (2017)