Today in European history: the Mongols sack Kiev (1240)

and that's the way it was

The successful Mongol siege of Kiev in 1240 is generally identified as the final end of the Kievan Rus’ federation (I’m going to use “Kiev” here to describe both the city and the federation, but I think you’ll be able to figure out when I mean one or the other), but this is a little too convenient for historical terms. For nearly two centuries, the balance of power in the federation had been shifting gradually from the central authority to the individual principalities, who fought each other for supremacy as much as they fought any external enemies in self-defense. Its ruling Rurik Dynasty began to fragment, as uncles contested with nephews for succession and local princes refused to be governed by the Grand Prince of Kiev. The federation was the kind of political entity whose cohesion depended in large part on the strength of any given Grand Prince, and so…

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