Siege of Kiev (1240)
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|Siege of Kyiv|
|Part of Mongol invasion of Rus'|
Occupation of Kyiv in 1240. Illustration of a Russian annal
|Commanders and leaders|
|Batu Khan||Voivode Dmytro|
|Unknown; probably large||~1000|
|Casualties and losses|
|Unknown; not very heavy||~48 000 (including noncombatants) killed|
The Siege of Kyiv by the Mongols took place between November 28 and December 6, 1240, and resulted in a Mongol victory. It was a heavy moral and military blow to Halych-Volhynia and allowed Batu Khan to proceed westward into Europe.
In 1237, the Mongols began their invasion of Rus by conquering the northern principalities of Ryazan and Vladimir-Suzdal. In 1239, they advanced against southern Rus, capturing the cities of Pereyaslav and Chernihiv.
The next year, the Mongol general Batu Khan reached Kiev. At the time, the city was ruled by the principality of Halych-Volhynia. The chief commander in Kiev was Dmytro, voivode of Danylo of Halych. The number of defenders inside the city was only about 1,000. Danylo at that time was in Hungary seeking a military union to prevent invasion.
The vanguard army under Batu's cousin Möngke came near the city. Möngke was apparently taken by the splendor of Kiev and offered the city terms for surrender, but his envoys were killed. The Mongol had no choice but assault. Batu Khan crushed the forces of the Rus vassals, the Chorni Klobuky, who were on their way to relieve Kiev, and the entire Mongol army camped outside the city gates, joining Möngke's troops.
On November 28 the Mongols set up catapults near Kiev's Lech gates, one of the three gates of old Kiev and where tree cover extended almost to the city walls The Mongols then began a bombardment that lasted several days. On December 6, Kiev's walls were breached, and hand-to-hand combat followed in the streets. The Kievans suffered heavy losses and Dmytro was wounded by an arrow.
When night fell the Mongols held their positions while the Kievans retreated to the central parts of the city. Many people crowded into the Church of the Tithes. The next day, as the Mongols commenced the final assault, the church's balcony collapsed under the weight of the people standing on it, crushing many. After the Mongols won the battle, they plundered Kiev. Most of the population was massacred. Out of 50,000 inhabitants before the invasion, about 2,000 survived. Most of the city was burned and only six out of forty major buildings remained standing. Dmytro, however, was shown mercy for his bravery.
- Janet Martin Medieval Russia, 980-1584, p.139
- The Mongols by Stephen Turnbull, p.81
- Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire by Jean Paul Roux, p.131
- Charles Halperin - The Tatar Yoke, p.43
- V. Minorksy - The Alān Capital *Magas and the Mongol Campaigns, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 14,No. 2 (1952), pp. 221-238