The political successes of the Moscow principality, achieved during the reign of Dmitry Donskoy, were consolidated and developed by his successors. The son of Dmitry Donskoy, Prince Vasily I shortly after ascension to the throne annexed the principality of Nizhny Novgorod, as well as lands in the Vychegda river basin, populated by the Komi people.
The elevation of the Moscow Principality was hampered by the yoke of the Golden Horde, the invasions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the attacks of Timur. However, Moscow tirelessly sought independence: economic, political, religious.
In 1439, the Florence Cathedral was held, which proclaimed the union of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. However, the Moscow prince Vasily II the Dark did not recognize the union. Moreover, he decided to secede from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and in the future to elect a metropolitan at the cathedral of the Russian church. So Moscow achieved religious independence.
The unification of Russian lands actually ended when Ivan III Vasilievich. In 1463 the principality of Yaroslavl was annexed. In January 1478 Novgorod took the oath of full recognition of the power of Ivan III. The Veche Bell was removed and taken to Moscow: the 300-year-old era of independence of the Novgorod Republic ended. Simultaneously with Novgorod to the Moscow principality was joined by Karelia.
Ivan III married, guided by political interests. His wife in 1472 was the niece of the last Byzantine emperor Zoya Palaeologus. This alliance allowed Ivan III to proclaim himself the successor of the Byzantine emperors, and Moscow – the capital of the entire Orthodox world.
While Moscow was growing and growing stronger, the Golden Horde weakened and disintegrated, so Ivan III stopped paying tribute to its rulers. In 1480, Khan Akhmat decided to restore his power over Rus. He made an alliance with the Polish king Casimir IV and attacked Ivan III. However, the Grand Duke agreed with the Crimean khan Mengli-Girey. When the Horde came to Moscow, the Crimean Tatars attacked the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, thereby depriving Ahmet of support. Ordyntsy reached the banks of the river Utra, where they were met by strong regiments of Ivan III. Long stood Tatar troops on the river bank, not daring to join the battle. Khan Akhmat turned to the steppe. “Standing on Ufa” both contemporaries and descendants perceived as the fall of the Horde yoke.
Ivan III continued the unification of Russian lands: subdued Tver, Vyatka. Only part of the Ryazan principality and Pskov retained their independence. However, they did not pose a serious threat to Moscow.
At the same time, the process of conquering southern and western lands on the border with Lithuania was proceeding. Under the power of Moscow, here and there, small Orthodox princes crossed with their estates. This irritated the Lithuanian rulers. In 1492, Lithuania and the Moscow State began to fight. Success was on the side of Moscow. Voevody Ivan III won a number of Russian cities – Vyazma, Bryansk, Putivl.
Under Ivan III, the two most important tasks were solved. First, more than two hundred years of Horde domination ceased; Secondly, the process of uniting Russian lands around Moscow was completed. At the end of XV century. Ivan III took the title of “Grand Duke of All Russia”. The double-headed eagle – the dynastic sign of the Byzantine emperors of Paleologi and the Tver coat of arms – became the emblem of the Moscow state. Prince Ivan III established permanent diplomatic relations with the Pope, with the German emperor, the Hungarian king, the Turkish sultan, the Persian shah, etc. The young Moscow state began to establish itself on the international arena.