Duel of Peresvet with Chelubey

Duel before the Battle of Kulikovo

We are well aware of the duel between the heroes Peresvet and Chelubey before the beginning of the Battle of Kulikovo (1380), thanks to the painting by the Soviet artist M.I. Avilov. The master wrote it in the tragic for the country, a turning point in 1943, when it was important to support the spirit of the Soviet army and direct it to achieve victory in the holy war of liberation. Indeed, at one time the duel of the heroes decided the outcome of the Kulikovo battle in favor of the Russians.

In that historical battle, both soldiers died, but victory was recognized for Peresvet, who managed to ride a horse to the Russian regiments, and Chelubey, knocked out of the saddle, remained lying on the field.

The significance of the Battle of Kulikovo for the fate of the Russian state is very great, since the domination of the Horde was then fundamentally shaken. According to historians, the very outcome of the Battle of Kulikovo was predetermined by the result of the duel between the Russian and Tatar heroes.

It turns out that according to the laws that developed in antiquity, the fights of the strongest warriors before the battle were scheduled only when a difficult or uncertain situation arose.

It was a kind of lot to choose the attacking side. It is well known that the first army to start a battle always suffers heavy losses. Therefore, the duel could be decisive for the outcome of the battle. The one of the participants, who turned out to be the losing side, doomed his army to heavy losses. What kind of situation in the balance of opposing forces took place before the Battle of Kulikovo?

It turns out that the Russian and Tatar troops were at that time approximately equal in strength, had approximately the same number of soldiers. This did not make any of the armies want to attack first, since no one wanted to lose a significant part of their army. Therefore, the combat regiments stood opposite each other, expecting action from the opposite side.

The Tatars had one more reason for delaying the beginning of the battle - they were waiting for the army of the Lithuanian prince Jagailo, hurrying to their aid. For the same reason, the Russians were interested in the early start of the battle, until the unification of the forces of the Tatars with the Lithuanians took place.

It was to resolve this confrontation situation that the duel was started. From the Tatar army left the giant Pecheneg Murza Chelubey, a warrior of enormous strength, mastering the techniques of the ancient "Bonch-bo" wrestling.

He has already defeated his rivals in spear fights more than 300 times, using a cunning technique: thanks to his incredible strength, he took a spear 1 meter longer than the opponent's spear in order to be able to hit the enemy first.

The mighty warrior Alexander Peresvet, a monk from the Trinity-Sergius Monastery, volunteered from the Russians. Realizing that protection would not save a giant enemy from a blow, Peresvet did not put on chain mail for the duel in order to be freer in movements. This is what helped him hit Chelubey.

When the riders approached in a fatal blow, the longer spear of the Pecheneg pierced Peresvet's body, not protected by chain mail, but did not knock him out of the saddle due to the low resistance of living flesh to the iron. And Alexander's spear, by reducing the distance between opponents, was able to strike the enemy to death and knock him out of the saddle.

The Russian hero remained alive for some time and found strength in himself on horseback and rode to the Russian army. Mamai saw that the victory belonged to the Russian soldier, so he immediately threw his leading horsemen into the attack.

The battle of Kulikovo ended with the defeat of Mamaev's troops, the remnants of which the Russians pursued for many more miles from the Kulikov field.

For the feat of arms in the name of Russia, Peresvet was canonized, his memory is celebrated in the Cathedral of the Tula Saints on September 22 according to the Julian calendar. The hero's grave has not yet been found.