Vasilii was born in 1371 the second son of
Dmitri Ivanovich Donskoi, grand prince of Moscow and
Yevdokia Dmitriyevna, princess of Nizhnigorod. He married in 1391 to Sofia,
daughter of Vitvot, grand prince of Lithuania. His sons were Yuri, who died at
age 5 in 1400; Ivan; Daniil, who died at age 2 in
1402; Simyeon, crown prince of Moscow, who died very young in 1405; and
Vasilii II, grand prince of Moscow. His daughters
were Anna, Anastasia, who married Aleksandr
Vladimirovich, Lithuanian prince of Kyiv; Maria and Vasilisa. He was grand
prince of Moscow 1389 - 1425. The family is shown on this chart.
Summary of Reign
Vasilii continued the effort of his father to balance the large external
pressures from Lithuania and the Golden Horde against each other. He married
the daughter of the Lithuanian leader, but threatened military actions whenever
the Lithuanians tried to occupy his territories. He maee the required journeys
to Sarai to obtain the Tatar yarlik, yet gave them no more support
than absolutely required. He was fortunate that the power of the Golden Horde
was practically destroyed in 1395 by Tamerlane. He continued to encourage
church recognition of Moscow as the principal city in Russia. He kept Moscow at
peace as much as possible while building its economic strength and expanding
territories through alliances with neighboring princes or their boyars. When he
died in 1425, his eldest son had already died, so he gave his lands intact to
Vasilii II. Unfortunately his heir was only ten years old. This and the will of
Dmitrii Donskoi encouraged Vasilii's brother, Yuri Dmitrievich, to start what
became the worst civil war in Muscovite history.
1390 -Tatar raid against Riazan.
1392 - Vasilii visits Golden Horde and obtains yarlyk for Nizhnii
Novgorod. Prince Boris arrested and deported. Vasilii makes alliance with
Vitvot and marries his daughter.
1393 - Vasilii siezes Torzhik (town belonging to Novgorod)
1394 - Oleg of Riazan decisively defeats Tatars. Oleg begins conflict with
Vitovt of Lithuania. Both sides conduct campaigns against the other.
1395-98 - Continuing war between Riazan supported by Tatars and Lithuania.
1395 - Tamerlane defeats Toqtamish and reaches Yelets before turning for home.
1396 - Vasilii seizes Novgorod northern lands for two years.
1397-98 -Vasilii annexes Vologda, Ustiug, and Vezhetskii Verkh.
1399 - Tatar Khan Idiqu defeats Vitovt at Vorskla River. Prince Mikhail of Tver
agrees never to seek Moscow throne. Oleg of Riazan also agrees.
1401 - Oleg with allies from Pronsk and Murom attacks Smolensk
1402 - Oleg sends his son, Rodoslav, to capture Briansk, but he is captured.
Oleg dies, ending Riazan's last effort to gain supremacy. Fedor Olegivich signs
treaty with his brother-in-law, Vasilii I of Moscow, subordinating Fedor to the
equal status with Vasilii's eldest brother Yurii. Fedor's daughter married Ivan
Vladimirovich, son of the Prince of Serpukhov.
1403-4 -Vitvot seizes Smolensk and Viaz'ma.
1406 - Muscovite troops face Lithuanians without battle.
1407 - Muscovite troops again confront Lithuanians without combat.
1408 - Idiqu controls Golden Horde and makes surprise attack on Moscow. Vasilii
I flees to Kostroma. Vladimir Andreevich defends Moscow. Tatars sack Rostov,
Pereiaslavl, Dmitrov, Vereia, Serpukhov and Klin.
1409 - Muscovite troops face Lithuanians at Ugra River without battle.
1412 - Vasilii goes to Sarai to submit to Khan Jelal-ad-din and pay tribute.