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The symbol of resistance to the hordes of Batu was a man, in the reality of whose existence there are very serious doubts.
The Greeks have three hundred Spartans. The French have Roland with his knights. And in our history - Evpatiy Kolovrat with a small squad. All covered themselves with glory and died heroically in battle with the superior forces of the enemy. And then their exploits in a romanticized form were included in the annals. And our hero looks in them no worse than Tsar Leonidas and the Breton margrave. The problem is that Evpatiy is possibly a fictional character.
The famous Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin had no doubts that the glorious Ryazan, who was born in 1200, as it were, existed in reality. But modern historians are not at all sure that we are talking about a real historical person.
Most researchers are inclined to believe that Kolovrat was introduced into the "Tale of the Ruin of Ryazan by Batu" in its later copies and interpretations. And this is an epic hero, invented by folk storytellers in order to belittle the traumatic experiences of our ancestors from a terrible defeat in the war with the pagans. An inspiring collective image of the unyielding defender of the native land.
Indeed, the description of the feat of Evpatiy and his fighters stands out in the chronicle in a noticeably more literary style. There is more heroic pathos and battle poetics in this part than in the rest of the text of the "Tale …".
Epic epics lead a story
The official version is as follows: on the eve of the invasion of Batu in 1237, the Ryazan boyar Kolovrat was sent to Chernigov with a request for military assistance to the local prince Mikhail Vsevolodovich. And he refused, because Ryazan did not support him earlier in the battle on Kalka. Returning home unsparingly, the hero saw that he was late: smoldering ruins lay on the site of his hometown. Falling into a terrible rage, the governor chased the Mongols, disregarding the dramatic inequality of forces. Having caught up with the enemy in Suzdal land, he with a detachment of 1700 people suddenly attacked the rearguard of the Horde and completely destroyed it.
Realizing that something was wrong in the rear, the khan ordered his brother-in-law Khostovrul to solve the problem. According to legend, he boastfully promised to bring the Russian hero alive, but laid down his head in a duel with the angry knight.
Legends also say that the khan tried to lure the valiant Evpatiy to his side. One can believe in such a course of events: the Chingizids have always tried to replenish their tumens with the best warriors of the conquered peoples. However, it didn't work out.
Furious Kolovrat and his comrades-in-arms chose to die in glory, taking with them to the next world more enemies. They said that the boyar did not die from the sword, but was killed from stone-throwing guns, which the Tatars decided to use in order to minimize the damage from the Russians who were engulfed in the sacred fighting madness.
The chroniclers claim: the khan was so impressed by the courage of the Ryazan boyar that he ordered the release of the surviving warriors, giving them the body of their chief. In some editions of "The Tale of the Ruin of Ryazan by Baty", it is said about the solemn funeral of Yevpatiy Kolovrat on January 11, 1238.
Memory in art
Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify the authenticity of Evpatiy's story. In the absence of any alternative sources that would mention his actions. However, this has never stopped art workers from creating works inspired by the image of the epic hero.
So, on the territory of the Ryazan region, there are three monuments to the hero. Connoisseurs of literature know "The Song of Evpatiy Kolovrat" (1912) by Sergei Yesenin and must have read Vasily Yan's novel "Batu" (1942), which describes the heroic deed of the governor. In the USSR, Roman Davydov filmed the cartoon "The Tale of Evpatiy Kolovrat" (1985). Dozens of pieces of music and paintings are dedicated to the hero's exploits.
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