Ushkuiniki

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Ushkuiniki

 

Novgorodian detachments of up to several thousand men.

The ushkuiniki were formed by the boyars of Novgorod to seize lands in the north and to carry out trading and looting expeditions on the Volga and Kama rivers. Through the campaigns of the ushkuiniki, the boyars enriched themselves and combated their political and commercial rivals. The ushkuiniki, whose social composition was quite complex, first appeared in the 1320’s. Their campaigns sapped the economic resources of the Golden Horde but also damaged cities and hindered the development of trade along the Volga and Kama.

In 1360 ushkuiniki under the boyar Anfal Nikitin took the city of Zhukotin, on the Kama. In 1366 ushkuiniki attacked Nizhny Novgorod, killing many Tatar and Armenian merchants. In 1371, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, and other cities were raided and plundered. In 1375 ushkuiniki routed the army of Kostroma, sacked Kostroma and Nizhny Novgorod, and reached Astrakhan, where they were defeated by the Tatars. In the early 15th century, with the strengthening of the Grand Principality of Moscow, the campaigns of the ushkuiniki came to an end.