Stand on the Ugra River of 1480

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stand on the Ugra River of 1480


(also known as the Ugorshchina), the military hostilities between Khan Akhmat of the Great Horde and Grand Prince Ivan III Vasil’evich in the year 1480.

In 1476, Ivan III ceased to pay the annual money tribute that the Horde had exacted from the Russian lands from the time of Batu. Khan Akhmat, involved in fighting with the Crimea, took action only in 1480. He managed to come to terms with Casimir (Kazimierz), the king of Poland-Lithuania, on military assistance. In early 1480 the Livonian Order advanced on the western borders of the Russian state. In January 1480, Ivan Ill’s brothers—Boris and Andrei Bol’shoi—disgruntled by the grand prince’s burgeoning power, rebelled against him. In June 1480, Akhmat seized the occasion and sent out scouting parties to re-connoiter the right bank of the Oka River. In the fall of 1480 he set out with the main body of his forces.

The boyar elite of the Russian state was divided. One group—”the rich and big-bellied moneygrubbers,” headed by the okol’nichii I. V. Oshchera and G. A. Mamon—advised Ivan to flee. The other group championed the need to fight the Horde. Ivan’s conduct in the matter was perhaps influenced by the stance of the Muscovites, who demanded that the grand prince take decisive action.

On Oct. 8, 1480, as Akhmat was attempting to skirt the Oka around to the west—thus avoiding Ivan’s regiments at Kolomna, Serpukhov, and Tarusa—and join forces with Casimir, he moved up to the Ugra River, a tributary of the Oka. There he encountered the Russian troops of Ivan Molodoi and Andrei Men’shoi, Ivan’s son and brother, respectively. Akhmat attempted to force the Ugra with a rush but was repulsed after four days of fighting. He apparently withdrew to Vorotynsk, there to await the arrival of Casimir.

Ivan III deployed his forces in Kremenets, thus protecting Russia’s center from the Lithuanians and Mongol-Tatars. In order to win time, he then opened negotiations with Akhmat. Between September 30 and October 3, Ivan was able to come to terms with his fractious brothers; on October 20 the regiments of Boris and Andrei Bol’shoi arrived at Kremenets. On October 26 the Ugra froze over. Akhmat learned of the arrival of Ivan’s brothers and, having received no news from Lithuania, decided not to advance. Casimir, for his part, was suppressing internal disorders and fighting with the Crimea. The Mongol-Tatar troops—short on food, fallen prey to epidemic, and suffering from the extreme cold—waited until November 11 and turned south.

On Jan. 6,1481, Akhmat was killed in a clash with the Tiumen’ khan Ibak. Internecine strife broke out in the Great Horde. The Ugorshchina shattered the Mongol yoke, and the Russian state was thenceforth sovereign not only in fact but officially as well.


Bazilevich, K. V. Vneshniaia politika Russkogo Isentralizovannogo gosudarstva: Vtoraiapolovina XV v. Moscow, 1952.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.