Mythic Russia

Heroic roleplaying in a mythical medieval Russia

Kulikovo 1380: the battle that made Russia — August 22, 2018

Kulikovo 1380: the battle that made Russia

Kulikovo_False Dmitry_sketch_01
A preliminary sketch by Darren Tan of one of the colour plates, the death of what turned out to be not Prince Dmitri but a double, in his armour

Kulikovo 1380: the battle that made Russia

Now that it’s formally been ‘outed’ in the Osprey ‘Big Reveal‘ of their 2019 titles, I’m delighted to post a little about this book. For my next Osprey publication, I’ve gone historical, with an in-depth study of this battle and its causes and consequences, in their Campaign series. It’s due out on 21 February 2019.

Researching it was a fascinating exercise in historical deconstruction, as it became clear that so much of the orthodox perspective, from details like the battle of champions at the start through to the impact on making a substantial step forward in Russia’s struggle for freedom from the Mongol Yoke were myths. Some were perpetrated by Dmitry Donskoi and his people, bigging up the battle to support Muscovy’s claims to being the dominant Rus’ city state. Others were guesses, flourishes and outright propaganda added by chroniclers in later years and centuries. There is even serious debate as to the size, location and, most extreme, outcome of the battle.

I’ve tried to piece it together as best I can, and produce a readable and compelling account of what was an interesting struggle, but much of the importance of Kulikovo was precisely not how it went down on the battlefield, but how was later used, if not abused, for national and dynastic mythmaking. (Hence the subtitle.)

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that as well as maps and 3D bird’s-eye-views of the battle in various stages, the book features some stunning art from Darren Tan. The sketch above only hints at the quality of the final picture.

From a Mythic Russia perspective, there are maps and descriptions of armies and weapons, tactics and personalities. I also think there would be a fascinating adventure for characters sent down to Crimea to persuade the Genoese there that the defeated Mamai was better killed than treated with.