Simeon of Moscow

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Simeon Ivanovich Gordyi (the Proud) (Семён Иванович Гордый in Russian) (7 November 1316 – 27 April 1353) was Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir. Simeon continued his father's policies of supporting the Golden Horde and acting as its leading enforcer in Russia. Simeon's rule was marked by regular military and political standoffs against Novgorod Republic and Lithuania. His relationships with neighboring Russian principalities remained peaceful if not passive: Simeon stayed aside from conflicts between subordinate princes.[1] He had recourse to war only when war was unavoidable.[2] A relatively quiet period for Moscow was ended by the Black Death that claimed the lives of Simeon and his sons in 1353.



In 1340 Simeon, the eldest son of Ivan Kalita, was stationed in Nizhny Novgorod. Upon receiving news of his father death, Simeon and his brothers Andrey and Ivan left for the Golden Horde to seek Uzbeg Khan's patent (yarlyk) for taking over the title of Grand Prince. Rivals Konstantin of Tver and Konstantin of Suzdal also paid their homage to the Khan, claiming seniority over Moscow princes.[3] Simeon won the patent through bribing the Khan's retinue;[4] princes of Tver and Suzdal had to agree to his seniority; Uzbeq also extended his benevolence to Simeon's issue.[3] He was also granted the ceremonial title epi trapezes offikios (Greek: ό επί τραπέζης όφφίκιος) by the Byzantine Empire,[5] which can be loosely translated as seneschal or stolnik.

In the same 1340 Simeon engaged in his first military standoff with Veliky Novgorod. Simeon claimed his right to collect taxes in the Novgorodian town of Torzhok. Torzhok boyars locked up Simeon's tax collectors and called for help from Novgorod. Simeon and metropolitan Theognostus hastily organized a coalition of princes against Novgorod, claiming that "They [Novgorodians] make war and peace with whomever they please, consulting no one. Novgorod regards not all Russia, and will not obey her Grand Prince", referring to Novgorod incursions into Ustyuzhna and Beloe Ozero.[6] As the coalition forces approached Novgorodian lands, the people of Torzhok revolted against the boyars and sided with Muscovite troops. Novgorod Republic accepted the fact and ceded all taxes from Torzhok area, estimated at 1,000 roubled in silver annually, to Simeon who agreed to honor the existing civic charter.[4]

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