Vasily I of Moscow

Vasily I
Grand Prince of Moscow
Reign 19 May 1389 – 27 February 1425
Predecessor Dmitry I
Successor Vasily II
Born (1371-12-30)30 December 1371
Moscow, Grand Duchy of Moscow
Died 27 February 1425(1425-02-27) (aged 53)
Moscow, Grand Duchy of Moscow
Consort Sophia of Lithuania
Issue Anna, Byzantine Empress consort
Yury Vasilievich
Ivan Vasilievich
Anastasia Vasilievna
Daniil Vasilievich
Vasilisa Vasilievna
Simeon Vasilievich
Maria Vasilievna
Vasily Vasilievich
Dynasty Rurik
Father Dmitry Donskoy
Mother Eudoxia Dmitriyevna
Religion Eastern Orthodox

Vasily I Dmitriyevich (Russian: Василий I Дмитриевич; 30 December 1371 – 27 February 1425) was the Grand Prince of Moscow (r. 1389—1425), heir of Dmitry Donskoy (r. 1359—1389). He ruled as a Great Horde vassal between 1389-1395, and again in 1412-1425. The raid on the Volgan regions in 1395 by Mongol emir Timur resulted in a state of anarchy for the Golden Horde and the independence of Moscow. In 1412, Vasily reinstated himself as a vassal of the Horde. He had entered an alliance with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1392 and married the only daughter of Vytautas the Great, Sophia, though the alliance turned out to be fragile, and they waged war against each other in 1406–1408.

Family and early life

Vasily was the oldest son of Dmitry Donskoy and Grand Princess Eudoxia, daughter of Grand Prince Dmitry Konstantinovich of Nizhny Novgorod.


Vasily I visiting his father-in-law, Vytautas the Great.

Vasily I continued the process of unification of the Russian lands: in 1392, he annexed the principalities of Nizhny Novgorod and Murom. Nizhny Novgorod was given to Vasily by the Khan of the Golden Horde in exchange for the help Moscow had given against one of his rivals.[1] In 1397–1398 Kaluga, Vologda, Veliki Ustyug and the lands of the Komi peoples were annexed.

To prevent Russia from being attacked by the Golden Horde, Vasily I entered into an alliance with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1392 and married Sophia of Lithuania, the only daughter of Vytautas the Great. The alliance turned out to be fragile, and they waged war against each other in 1406–1408.

Mongol emir Timur raided the Slavic lands in 1395; he ruined the Volgan regions but did not penetrate as far as Moscow. Timur's raid was of service to the Russian prince as it damaged the Golden Horde, which for the next twelve years was in a state of anarchy. During the whole of this time no tribute was paid to the khan, Olug Moxammat, though vast sums of money were collected in the Moscow treasury for military purposes.

In 1408 Edigu burnt Nizhny Novgorod, Gorodets, Rostov, and many other towns but failed to take Moscow, though he had still burnt it. In 1412, however, Basil found it necessary to pay the long-deferred visit of submission to the Horde.

The growing influence of Moscow abroad was underlined by the fact that Vasily married his daughter Anna to Emperor John VIII Palaeologus of Byzantium.

Domestic policy

Lazar the Serb showing Vasily the clock.

During his reign, feudal landownership kept growing. With the growth of princely authority in Moscow, the judicial powers of landowners were partially diminished and transferred to Vasily's deputies and heads of volosts.

Russian (East Slavic) chronicles speak of a monk, Lazar the Serb, newly arrived from Serbia, inventing and building a clock on a tower in the Grand Prince's palace in Moscow behind the Annunciation Church at the request of Vasily I, in 1404. It was the first ever mechanical clock in Russia, and also the country's first public clock. It was among the first ten such advanced clocks in Europe, and was regarded as a technical miracle at the time.[2][3]

Marriage and children

Vasily married Sophia of Lithuania, a daughter of Vytautas the Great and his wife, Anna. They had nine known children:

See also


  1. Richard Pipes, Russia under the old regime, p. 80
  2. Radetić, M. (December 4, 2004). "Šest vekova Lazarevog sata". Novosti.
  3. Tošić, Gordana; Tadić, Milutin (2004). Hilandarski monah Lazar, prvi srpski časovničar. Kalenić. ISBN 9788684183066.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Dmitry Donskoy
Grand Prince of Moscow
Succeeded by
Vasily II
Russian royalty
Preceded by
Daniil Dmitrievich
Heir to the Russian Throne
Succeeded by
Yury Dmitrievich
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