No Muscovite Civil War: can Muscovy expand earlier than OTL?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Soverihn, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    As the title says, without the impact of a Muscovite Civil war, would it be possible for Muscovy to expand easier and faster than it did historically? I'm thinking speeding up most of the conflicts of the mid to late 1400s, such as the annexation of Novgorod, conflict over hegemony with Kazan, etc.

    The conflict lasted for quite some time, and it seems a fair number of the military was involved.
     
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  2. raharris1973 Well-Known Member

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    You tell me how it goes, I am interested.

    Just throwing something out there, maybe it makes unification and eastern expansion faster, but things end up approximating OTL on the Swedish and PLC fronts, because of action-reaction dynamics.
     
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  3. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Muscovy had so much going well for them iOTL. Even better? It harboured such a great number of ambitious individuals; it had come to the attention of powerful neighbors that here was a rising new Player by that time... no strife at all seems to stretch credulity.

    Of course it's not impossible, though. I'd say you're probably right about earlier conquests of Novgorod et al. They could still f*** up their situation by provoking war with Poland-Lithuania or getting entangled in Tatar troubles.
     
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  4. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    Anyone else?
     
  5. Seshat New Member

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    Is this for R E N O V A T I O N ?

    ;)
     
  6. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    N-no...
     
  7. RGB Corn Squared

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    The civil war(s) were important in the sense of how succession and legitimacy came to be viewed; the idea of clan ownership and lateral succession was severely undermined and instead you got direct descendants managing to enforce something like a primogeniture against their uncles. Ironically that's what doomed the Rurikids later on when the main line died out, but it also freed Ivan III primarily, but also Vasiliy Ivanovich, and Ivan the Terrible to do the things they did: claim autocracy, abolish appanage principalities, abolish Novgorod's (and Pskov's and Hlynov's) veche, establish the patriarchate, divide land into boyardom and oprichina etc. etc.

    Any setup where more of the princes have more say in the matter would create resistance to the more radical moves. And without a fight, they won't give the political power up. The power was important enough to seek help from the Tatars and Lithuania repeatedly. So the fight had to happen at some point.

    As for Kazan itself, well, if the Moscow Rurikids gave up on the idea of making them a loyal vassal a la Kasimov Khanate, it could have been over much sooner. Holding Kazan down by force starting with one of the earlier occupations would require building supply-line-protecting forts throughout the Cheremis and Mordvin lands, for one, which would on one hand keep them busy from adventures elsewhere, on the other hand, is also doable at any point in the 16th c.

    Once the Volga bend is secure, Perm and Urals are open for exploitation and the Lower Volga is vulnerable to conquest. You can do all that earlier than OTL even AFTER the civil war/s.
     
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  8. Halagaz Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting. But I generally saw the Oprichnina portrayed as a radical new idea, that was brought forth by Ivan's Circassian empress and in-laws (and vaguely inspired by the Mongols)? Or not, apparently?
     
  9. RGB Corn Squared

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    I mean it was, but the state was now centralised (narrowed?) enough that the sovereign could carry something as radical as the oprichina out. Can you imagine Shemyaka trying something like that?

    Autocracy itself was brought by Ivan the Great's Italian/Byzantine Empress, along with some tools of government that were previously rarely employed (presumably for being too brutal). If Ivan III could have easily been challenged by a brother or an uncle, would he have done what he did? I don't think so.
     
  10. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

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    I go with the Oprichnina as an idea for separate administration, based of Ivan the Terrible's sense of superiority that being a Tsar gave him, then it being an end result of Muscovite centralization. I take von Staden as being mostly accurate in how he described the Oprichnina, and who was a part of it. Which the only real baseline for membership seemed to be people who were family, friends, or could at the bare minimum be trusted.

    I don't believe in what you've posted because I'm suspicious of that narrative given Maria Temurikova's negative reputation, and considering the whose who of the Oprichnina they kinda struck me to be close enough to a druzhina, just given an administration with a very large and broad mandate.
     
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  11. Halagaz Well-Known Member

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    IDK...I saw the Oprichnina as a sort of legalistic manuever by Ivan to shed the limits and expectations which constrained a traditional Muscovite ruler. And thus be able to go after his (real and imagined) enemies in new ways and with a new intensity.

    As for Maria's involvement, it sounds reasonable enough to me. Maria's brothers occupied very important positions in the Oprichnina. And a cousin of Maria's (Simeon Bekbulatovich) was Ivan's chief accomplice in a later manuever in the 1570s, which had many similarities with the Oprichnina.
     
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  12. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

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    The Oprichnina was less a maneuver and more a separate administration designed to give Ivan more power to people he could trust, be it family, friends, and foriegners regardless of their social class. The Oprichnina was not secret police, but a division of the valuable Zemschina lands given to members of this new class. According to von Staden who again I have faith in, an Oprichnik was given free reign to govern his lands, however, they or the people on their lands could not associate with members of the Zemschina, or risk being extorted.

    As for going after enemies that only started in certain periods to the best of my knowledge, after the defection of Prince Kurbsky, the Livonian war, and the sack of Muscovy, which included the Oprichnina themselves.

    As for Ivan's 1-year abdication, I've heard that more another attempt to get the Zemschina on his side or at least accept his rule. I know of Mikhail Cherkassy, Maria's brother involvement, I still cast my doubts on it being coming from Maria or the Mongols. The first plays into plenty of popular conceptions about Maria, that I feel it could be something tacked on with no real effort. The second one comes off as being too Eurasianist for my liking.
     
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  13. Shnurre Well-Known Member

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    While I was typing my reply @RGB has already given a one I almost fully agree with. I would still post mine as it is a bit more detailed and also so that my effort would not be wasted).


    While I cannot definitely answer your questions here are few thoughts (some of them are probably pretty obvious or consist of OTL-history summarization but I would still right them down for rhetorical reasons):


    1. In my opinion Muscovite Feudal War was if not outright inevitable had very deep reasons. It addressed two very important issues – the laws of succession and the degree of local princes autonomy.


    a) Laws of succession. Before the Civil War succession in the Grand Principality of Moscow was uncertain. There were at least 4 conflicting traditions each sharing its degree of legitimacy. First one is when the khan of Golden Horde appointed the great prince of Vladimir by giving him special document yarlyk (of course by XV century Muscovite vassalage was pretty loose; in practice by that time yarlyk usually was simply an official recognition by the Horde of a new leader in exchange for some minor concessions from Muscovy). Second one was traditional Russian agnatic seniority (lestvitsa) when brothers of deceased monarch had priority over latter’s sons. Third one was the traditional male primogeniture that became increasingly more popular because of foreign influences (and advantages of the system). Forth one was the will of the late monarch.
    The whole mess happened because there were conflicting wills (of Vasily I, the father of Vasily the Blind, which favored the latter, and of Dmitry Donskoy, the father of Vasily I and Yuri of Zvenigorod, which stated that after Vasily I Yuri should rule) and the fact that second tradition favored Yuri while the third – Vasily II.
    While the civil war in that particular circumstances can easily be butterflied (say Yuri dies before Vasily I) I don’t see clear succession laws being established without the Great Feudal War and thus similar sort of conflict would probably happen in some other generation. I guess the most plausible alternative to this is recognition of the late monarch’s will as the primary mechanism of succession. But again sooner or later a monarch would die without a will or there would be conflicting wills of several monarchs and again some sort of succession crisis is bound to happen.


    b)The autonomy of local princes. By XV century the Moscow Rurikids were unchallenged Grand Princes of Vladimir and thus had authority over smaller princes there (e. g. princes Shuysky and Kurbsky that were descendants of pre-Muscovite princes of Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod and Yaroslavl respectively). Additionally Muscovite princes created appanages for their younger sons (thus creating principalities of Serpukhov, Mozhaisk, Zvenigorod, Galich etc.).
    While Grand Princes of Moscow were recognized by all smaller princes as their liege it often was a nominal and pretty loose vassalage. The Civil War however allowed Vasily to annex a substantial portion of smaller principalities (curiously enough not only belonging to his opponents but also to some of his firm supporters like Vladimir the Bold of Serpukhov) and reduce greatly the autonomy of others.
    While I guess the power of smaller princes can be curbed without dynastic civil war, it is a very tricky process and would still lead to serious troubles. Not having an excuse of Civil War would make this process look less justified and would take more time.


    2. While there are some possibilities of expansion that Moscow probably skipped because of the Great Civil War, smaller Russian principalities like Novgorod, Tver or Ryazan are probably not among them. The last one fell firmly into Muscovite because of dynastic dynamics (in 1456 Vasily Ivanovich inherited Ryazan while still being a minor; by will of his father he was raised by Vasily of Moscow and later married his daughter) while the first two were officially vassalized as a direct result of Civil War. While before the war both principalities formally (and very vaguely) recognized Muscovite seniority their support of Shemyaka gave Vasily II the justification and means of pressing for formal vassalization (Boris of Tver submitted himself to Moscow and agreed to marry his daughter to future Ivan III of Moscow in 1454; Novgorod formalized its vassalization to Moscow in 1456 by Treaty of Yazhelbitsy) which allowed Ivan III to annex them a generation later



    3. While of course Civil War itself wasn’t good for economy and internal stability of Muscovy arguably, the most destructive participant of it was the founder of Kazan Khanate Ulugh Muhammad.
    Before 1444-1445 Vasily II suffered several losses, setbacks and prestige hits but his position as uncontested ruler of Muscovy was rather stable after the defeat of Vasily Kosoy in 1436 (there was some power struggle between Vasily II, Shemyaka and other local princes but it was way more peaceful and restrained than 1433-1436 and especially 1445-1453).

    However when Ulugh Muhammad decided to participate it quickly turned into nightmare. Tartars pillaged lands all the way up to Moscow, captured Nizhny Novgorod and when Vasily II tried to oppose them his army was crushed and he himself was captured.
    When he was in captivity Shemyaka was acting as grand prince (since he was next in the line of succession) and was forced to temporarily recognize independence of Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod principality. Vasily was able to return to Moscow only with Tartar escort, promised Ulugh-Muhammad a great ransom and was forced to offer Tartars huge land grants (some of which later formed Qasim Khanate). This overt submission to Tartars destroyed his creditability as a ruler. Shemyaka was able to justify his claim to the throne and he managed to capture and blind Vasily shortly after.



    The main question is the following: does the lack of Civil War prevent the disasters that followed Ulugh-Muhammad invasion? In my opinion not really – IOTL prior to the invasion there was period of relative stability for 8 years, so even if there is no Civil War altogether ITTL I don’t think that Vasily can amass much bigger force and thus the outcome of the battle against Tartars should also probably be unaffected by the absence of Civil War. If Vasily gets captured as per OTL his prestige would suffer the same hit it did IOTL, this would still create an opportunity for the next one in line of succession to strike his claim to Muscovite throne even if this TTL guy would unlike Shemyaka be previously faithful to Vasily. For most people it is too large temptation to overcome (and it also could be seen as acting for the benefit of state to not allow Tartar puppet Vasily to come back and give Tartars massive ransom and lands) so the civil war of Vasily against the next in line would still probably happen. While this guy could be less competent and less vengeful than OTL Shemyaka in my opinion the changes would mostly be cosmetic.

    While one could claim that Vasily avoids captivity because of butterflies (which is of course entirely plausible) allowing to avoid the most destructive phase of Civil War, this would not be a direct consequence of Feudal War and thus might as well be a separate PoD or butterfly.



    If the purpose of this thread is to simply explore the consequence of lack of Muscovite Civil War (say because Yuri of Zvenigorod dies before Vasily I) my answer is that situation would probably not diverge much form OTL. Provided that Ulugh-Muhammad still invades and captures Vasily II of Moscow, the latter would lose almost all his personal prestige thus creating a very serious opportunity for internal instability and civil war, Muscovite lands would still be pillaged and Moscow would still have to pay an enormous ransom for Vasily II thus suffering a serious economic decline etc. etc.


    If you are however looking for a way to wank XV century Moscow a little bit more I can propose 2 PODs which I would write down in my next post so that this one does not become too long.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  14. Shnurre Well-Known Member

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    First POD is simple and straightforward – Vasily does not get captured by Ulugh Muhammad in 1445. While Muscovy would still suffer by Tartar pillaging, the lack of ransom and the most destructive and violent phase of Civil War would improve economic and political stability of Muscovy dramatically compared to OTL. While in 1440-1450s Muscovy would probably be too preoccupied with Tartars to expand in any direction this POD gives Ivan III more resources to work with which could have very serious consequences. He would either be able to conquer more lands from Lithuania in the last years of his rule or alternatively would have relatively same successes but would not need Crimean help as badly as IOTL thus seriously weakening the Crimean Khanate in its early years.



    The second POD is even more powerful in reducing Muscovite economic losses of 1440-1450s even more as well as providing serious geopolitical changes and possibly even butterflying away Kazan Khanate.

    The founder of Kazan Khanate Ulugh-Muhammad (who also captured Vasily II ect. ect.) in 1437 lost civil war in Golden Horde and was forced to flee to Belyev. Vasily II sent Shemyaka and his brother Dmitry Krasny to defeat him there. The Muscovite forces won the first engagement with Tartars but this made the brothers overconfident and they were crushed in subsequent battle.

    The POD I propose is as follows – the first engagement goes less smoothly for Muscovite forces and Shemyaka gets killed in action. After that Muscovite forces are more alert than IOTL and able to rally and defeat Ulugh-Muhammad decisively.
    Even if Ulugh-Muhammad is able to flee untouched most of his army is crushed and thus he is probably unable make Kazan an important center of power (before his arrival IOTL Kazan was a relative backwater - in chronicle it is described as “empty” and “having little population” when he arrived there ). Possibly he will simply not make it to Kazan since he has no troops to take and defend it (thus preventing the emergence of strong Kazan Khanate) but even if he somehow manages it, Ulugh-Muhammad definitely would be in no position to enable major raids into Muscovite lands that he IOTL started in 1439 and that crippled Muscovite economy for the next several decades. Of course invasion of 1444-1445, ransom etc. is also butterflied away.


    Civil War against Yuri of Zvenigorod and Vasily Kosoy happens as per OTL in 1433-1436 thus triggering clear succession law enablement.
    Dmitry Krasny is the last remaining son of Yuri of Zvenigorod ITTL and if he dies in 1440 like IOTL (whether IOTL he was assassinated on Vasily II’s orders or not doesn’t matter – if he was, it is even more favorable for Vasily ITTL, if it was health issue it probably would not be butterflied away) and thus Vasily II would be able to inherit all former demesne of Yuri of Zvenigorod and the lands granted to Vasily Kosoy, Shemyaka and Dmitry Krasny.
    While with much shorter and less violent civil war he would have less opportunities to confiscate lands of other smaller princes (e. g. Ivan of Mozhaysk would probably retain his principality) but it is amply compensated by lack of land grants that Vasily and Shemyaka were forced to make in order to gain support against each other.


    Thus in 1440-1450s Muscovite economy is radically better than IOTL, Tartar raids are much less fierce and organized (and thus much less destructive) and Muscovy has high internal stability.
    This should allow Moscow to enable some expansion. Here are possible directions (probably the situation would allow Muscovy to act on most of them if not necessarily succeed everywhere):

    1. It is as good moment is any to force Tver, Novgorod and possibly Ryazan to recognize vassalization to Moscow and formalize its terms. While OTL excuse of supporting the wrong guy in Civil War is not valid ITTL Muscovites would probably find other justifications.

    2. If Ulugh-Muhammad or someone other still manages to found Kazan Khanate it would be much weaker than IOTL. While outright conquest of Kazan by Muscovy in 1440-1450s is probably implausible, some form of vassalization can definitely be established. This would not prevent Kazan Tartars from raiding in favorable circumstances (like IOTL in 1530s when Ivan IV was minor and Muscovy had war with Lithuania and controversy over regency) but it would greatly reduce the amount of raids while Muscovy is stable.

    3. During 1430s-1440s there was a Civil War in Grand Principality of Lithuania. It is probably too late for Muscovy to participate in the first phase of Civil War when Sigismund defeated Svidrigaila(who was pro-Russian and even briefly served Vasily I in 1400-s). However, in 1440 Sigismund dies and Svidrigaila tries again against Kazimierz.
    While I don’t think that Svidrigaila chances are particularly good even with Muscovite support, if things become difficult Muscovy could easily make deal with Kazimierz gaining some lands for withdrawal of their support of Svidrigaila.
    The full extent of territories Vasily II may be able to gain is difficult to predict but it almost certainly would include most territory of the Principality of Smolensk. IOTL the citizens of Smolensk refused to swear fealty to Kazimierz and rebelled in 1440. They asked Vasily for support but since he had troubles with Tartars and Shemyaka, he was unable to provide it. IOTL Smolensk was able to resist two Polish-Lithuanian invasions but was finally taken in 1442. ITTL Vasily definitely has both means and opportunity to help Smolensk and thus Smolensk has great chances of being annexed (or at least vassalized) by Muscovy 70 years earlier than IOTL.

    These possible consequences change the shape and dynamics of Eastern-European politics drammatically. If Crimean and Kazan Khanates either not exist or are weakened, Muscovy does not suffer that much from Tartar raids and thus becomes substantially stronger economically. Control over Smolensk in mid-XV century allows Muscovy to penetrate the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during Ivan III and Vasily III (or their TTL replacements) much further than IOTL allowing to annex more territory of OTL Belorussia and Ukraine and leading to other major changes (e. g. if ITTL some analogue of OTL-Michael Glinsky rebellion happens, it would have much higher chances to succeed since the lands under rebellion would be much closer to Muscovite border).


    Sorry for such a massive wall of text but I find this question really interesting and wanted to provide as detailed answer as I could manage.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  15. Seshat New Member

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    r e n o v a t i o n
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    Just saying, bro
     
  16. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    No, thank you! This was great to read!
     
  17. Shnurre Well-Known Member

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    Conserting oprichnina here (sorry, it’s in Russian; it was translated into English, but I was unable to find it in free access) is an article by S. Nefedov that argues that oprichnina closely resembles the organization of Ottoman Sultan’s private property (he also claims that many other XV-XVI century Muscovite institutes were inspired by Ottoman ones).
    According to him in Ottoman Empire Sultan had his private guard and private estates that were not considered state property and thus were not administered by Divan but had its own governing body that was not subjected to traditional state regulations. Effectively it was a state-in-state over which Sultan had close to absolute control. This description closely matches the description of oprichnina with its own lands, duma to govern them and oprichnina guard.


    If Nefedov’s claim is true, the oprichnina was a part of long trend of Moscow state going back to at least Ivan III (with obvious parallels between Ivan III’s pomestye system and timar system) of “borrowing” Ottoman military and administrative institutes. Thus von Staden’s account of Maria Temryukovna and her brother Mikhail Cherkassky being the chief figures of instituting oprichnina becomes less plausible. While Circassian relatives of Tsar were almost surely familiar with Ottoman administrative system their influence on Tsar’s decision could hardly been decisive because of preexisting trend of copying Ottoman institutes (at best it could be something like this: “Honey, you know what your state lacks? Private Tsar’s land with separate government and separate army like they have it in Ottoman Empire” “Or shoot, you are right, darling. I wanted to wait a few years before instituting it, but I guess could do it right now. This will show that arrogant dicks in Duma who really rules this state”)


    Now Nefedov is a somewhat controversial figure and is known to be populistic at times (which one can easily notice reading the article above) but this work is well-cited and the claim itself looks entirely plausible (however if someone on this board can confirm his description of Ottoman administrative system I would be very grateful as it would completely destroy my doubts)
     
  18. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    Nope.

    Not here.

    Just sayin, bro.
     
  19. Augenis Well-Known Member

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    Tsar Alexis I commands a fanatical Old Believer to leave Russia or face forced conversion during the Raskol (1653, colorized)

    I'm sorry, I just had to. Will not do that again.