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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Nicholas Zharkikh

We have considered all the written information on which the researchers based their description of "the Battle of Blue Water", and saw clearly that there was no such battle in them.

1. The oldest and the only authoritative for the reign of Algirdas source – Rogozhsky chronicler – informs about the campaign Algirdas the Blue Water and Beloberezhe in autumn 6871 year. This year corresponds to the fall of 1363 (1362 th year – was a mistake).

2. This campaign should be viewed in the context of struggle Lithuania with the Tver principality, numerous facts which are recorded in Rogozhsky chronicle.

3. Name Blue Water denotes the Blue River, which flows into the river Dyorzha near town Pogoreloe Gorodische; on Dyorzha River near its confluence with the Volga is a large outcrop of limestone, which can be considered Beloberezhe. Both features are located nearby, in the south-west of the Tver principality, – where there were major military action against Lithuania.

4. This little episode did not affect the overall political situation and therefore was not included in the following chronicle. Author of Nikon Chronicle found Rogozhsky chronicler and made extensive use of it, borrowing a number of unique news, including one about Blue Water. But he had not recorded any additional information about this event, so the Nikon Chronicle should be considered as a secondary source of our problem.

5. It is important that there are no battle and no Tatars in record Rogozhsky chronicler.

6. A record of Algirdas battle with the Tatars on the Blue Water comes from "Tale of Podillja land" – part of the "Vytautas" chronicle, written (approximately) at the end of the 1430 – 1431 years, ie after 53 years after the death of Algirdas. This entry does not provide any specific details and shows the incompetence of the author. It should be regarded as late fiction.

7. There are no less than 34 objects on the territory of Eastern Europe, which can be considered similar to name Blue Water. While geographical context in "The Tale of Podillja land" is completely absent, there is no reason to give preference to any one of them. Most likely this name in the story serves as a poetic expression.

8. In the "Lithuanian" chronicles of the 16th century ancient "Tale of Podillja land" is strongly distorted, in particular, there is a version where all the action is attributed to Vytautas, and Algirdas is not mentioned. However, any additional sources was not used.

9. In the Stryjkowski’s "Chronicle" stories about the "Battle of the Blue Water" recorded twice – once in 1329 or 1331 as an act of the Grand Duke Algirdas, the second time in 1395 as an act of Algirdas – commander Duke Vytautas. This – a consequence of a combination of the original versions of "The Tale of Podillja land" and its alterations from 16 cent. All further details of both stories should be considered Stryjkowski’s own fictions.

10. Apart from these two stories, Stryjkowski filed in 1351 borrowings from Dlugosz, where Algirdas did not carried any war against the Tartars, but vice versa, in alliance with them robbing Podillja (which is supposedly for 20 years, from 1331, belonged to his nephews – sons of Koriat).

11. Date "Battle of Blue Water" in the year 1351 in "Bychowiec Chronicle" should be considered as a late addition, which was not in protograph. Perhaps this addition made during the rewriting chronicles the Latin alphabet in the 17th century.

12. Gustynsky chronicle of the 1620s used the record from Nikon Chronicle and Stryjkowski’s work, with the date of "event" was erroneously shifted to 1362. While combining these sources record has been dramatically reduced. It has not any source value.

Stemma stories about the «Blue Water»

Stemma stories about the "Blue Water"

Thus, even the authors of 16 – 17 centuries had no definite notion of this "battle", offering 4 variants of its dating. They were not able to submit any explanation as to the place of battle, tentatively placing it on the Dnieper and on the Don. They did not know with certainty whether to consider the hero of the Battle Algirdas or Vytautas.

At the same time we do not doubt that occurred in 1311, – in 1346, – in 1389, as – in 1395. We also have no doubts about the locations of these and other battles of the 14th century, no doubt, who fought with anyone, within any of the war and what were the consequences of each of the battles. For each of these we authoritative sources, contemporary to events themselves, demonstrating a certain level of competence.

While we do not have any of these in a case "Battle of Blue Waters", so we can safely assume its historiographical myth. It is necessary to strike out this battle fron the history of 14th cent. (as did V. Nasevich) and place in a museum of historical curiosities.

The historiography of the 1363rd message Blue Water (constantly, but wrongly dated 1362nd year) put it in a false context. N. Karamzin incorrectly assumed that this refers to the Synjukha river, and since then all researchers erroneously attributed this record with the mythical "Lithuania’s struggle against the Golden Horde" in the Ukrainian lands.

In fact, this message should be considered in the context of Lithuania’s struggle with the Tver principality, which began with the capture of Rzhev by Lithuanians in 1359. With a base near Tver abroad, the Lithuanians in 1363 and 1368 respectively carried out with a small force attack on the Tver principality, mostly (3 cases 4) on its south-western strip closest to Rzhev.

These attacks, including an attack in 1363 on Blue Water – Beloberezhe, did not have any effect: no Tver parish was not captured by the Lithuanians.

Somewhere in the spring of 1368 the Moscow army expelled the Lithuanians from Rzhev, and in the autumn of the same year began the Lithuanian-Moskow war lasted until 1372 and also ended without any territorial changes. All of these events had no connection with the Golden Horde.

The last attempt of Golden Horde to defend / extend its zone of influence in the north dates back to 6847 (1339) year when tatar nobleman Tovluby with the army and help from the Ryazan and Moscow princes unsuccessfully besieged Smolensk (reported in write Rogozhsky chronicler). Later in 1340 Volyn passed under the authority of the Lithuanian prince, Galicia in 1349 – under the authority of the King of Poland; at the same time began to form a new political force – Moldavia.

The Golden Horde did not any attempt to counteract these processes reducing the zone of its influence in the West. Later, during the civil war Horde physically unable to defend its zone of influence, which quietly came under the rule of Lithuania.

Fighting on this "front", if any have been occurred, were minor and did not affect the overall situation. Therefore, they were not mentioned in the records of the neighbors, who were not only in Krakow, Marienburg and Livonia, but also in Veliky Novgorod, Tver and Moscow. None of these "observation posts" did not noted any battle with the Tatars on the territory of modern Ukraine – for the reason that there was no notable battles until 1399.