Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Moscow



The first reference to Moscow dates from 1147 when Yuri Dolgoruki called upon the prince of the Novgorod Republic to "come to me, brother, to Moscow." Nine years later, in 1156, Prince Yuriy Dolgorukiy of Kiev ordered the construction of a wooden wall, which had to be rebuilt multiple times, to surround the emerging Moscow. After the sacking of 1237-1238, when the Mongol-Tatars burned the city to the ground and killed its inhabitants, Moscow recovered and became the capital of an independent principality in 1327. Its favorable position on the headwaters of the Volga river contributed to steady expansion. Moscow developed into a stable and prosperous principality for many years and attracted a large number of refugees from across Russia.

Under Ivan I the city replaced Tver as capital of Vladimir-Suzdal and became the sole collector of taxes for the Mongol-Tatar rulers. By paying high tribute, Ivan won an important concession from the Khan. Unlike other principalities, Moscow was not divided among his sons but was passed intact to his eldest. In 1380, prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow led a united Russian army to an important victory over the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo. After that, Moscow took the leading role in liberating Russia from Tatar domination. In 1480, Ivan III had finally broken the Russians free from Tatar control, allowing Moscow to become the center of power in Russia. The Russian capital, which had wandered from Kiev to Vladimir, came to rest in this city by the end of his reign, and Moscow became the capital of an empire that would eventually encompass all of present-day Russia and parts of other lands.

The 17th century was rich in popular risings, such as the liberation of Moscow from the Polish-Lithuanian invaders (1612), the Salt Riot (1648), the Copper Riot (1662), and the Moscow Uprising of 1682. The city ceased to be Russia's capital in 1712, after the founding of St. Petersburg by Peter the Great on the Baltic coast in 1703. When Napoleon invaded in 1812, the Muscovites burned the city and evacuated, as Napoleon's forces were approaching on September 14. Napoleon's army, plagued by hunger, cold, and poor supply lines, was forced to retreat. In January 1905, the institution of the City Governor, or Mayor, was officially introduced in Moscow, and Alexander Adrianov became Moscow's first official mayor. Following the success of the Russian Revolution of 1917, on March 12, 1918, Moscow became the capital of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union less than five years later.


Kremlin Embankment and Moscow skyline with Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on the left and Kremlin on the rightDuring the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet State Committee of Defence and the General Staff of the Red Army was located in Moscow. In 1941, sixteen divisions of the national volunteers (more than 160,000 people), twenty-five battalions (18,500 people) and four engineering regiments were formed among the Muscovites. In November 1941, German Army Group Center was stopped at the outskirts of the city and then driven off in the course of the Battle of Moscow. Many factories were evacuated, together with much of the government, and from October 20 the city was declared to be under siege. Its remaining inhabitants built and manned antitank defenses, while the city was bombarded from the air. It is of some note that Stalin refused to leave the city, meaning the general staff and the council of people's commissars remained in the city as well. Despite the siege and the bombings, the construction of Moscow's metro system, which began in the early 1930s, continued through the war and by the end of the war several new metro lines were opened. On May 1, 1944 a medal For the defence of Moscow and in 1947 another medal In memory of the 800th anniversary of Moscow were instituted. On May 8, 1965 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the victory in World War II, Moscow was one of twelve Soviet cities awarded the title of the Hero City. In 1980, it hosted the Summer Olympic Games.

In 1991 Moscow was the scene of a coup attempt by the government members opposed to the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev. When the USSR was dissolved in the same year, Moscow continued to be the capital of Russia. Since then, the emergence of a market economy in Moscow has produced an explosion of Western-style retailing, services, architecture, and lifestyles.