Muscovy Moscow’s position on the Moskva River allowed merchants to reach it easily from other rivers, so it grew into an important trading center. Then in 1237 the Mongols, a warlike people from Central Asia, attacked the city and burned it down. The city was rebuilt, but for more than 200 years had to pay tribute to the Mongols. In 1263 Moscow became a separate principality called Muscovy, with its own ruler, Prince Daniil . He and his successors expanded Muscovy by conquering other principalities. Expansion In 1380 the Russians defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Kulikovo Field. In 1480 Prince Ivan III (Ivan the Great) refused to make any more payments to them and ended their power in Russia. He also made Muscovy the largest state in Europe and extended the Kremlin. Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) expanded Muscovy still further during his reign (1533–84).
Czar Ivan IV earned his nickname “the Terrible” by killing thousands of people, including one of his sons.
A new capital Rival czars fought in Moscow in the early 1600s; then in 1613 the Romanov dynasty took over. Peter the Great came to power in 1689 and changed the nation’s name from Muscovy to Russia. He felt Moscow was out of touch with modern Europe, so he built the city of St. Petersburg on the shores of the Baltic Sea, facing Western Europe. In 1712 this new city became Russia’s capital.
This sixteenth-century map shows two rivers in Moscow, the Moskva and the Neglinnaya. Now the latter runs underground.
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