Siege of Kozelsk

The siege of Kozelsk was one of the main events of the Western (Kipchak) March of the Mongols (1236–1242) and the Mongol invasion of Rus' (1237–1240) at the end of the Mongol campaign in North-Eastern Russia (1237–1238). The Mongols laid a siege in the spring of 1238 and eventually conquered and destroyed the town of Kozelsk, one of the subsidiary princely centers of the Principality of Chernigov.

Defense Of Kozelsk
Part of the Mongol invasion of Rus'
Oborona Kozelska.jpg
DateMarch–May 1238

Decisive Mongol victory

  • Razing of Kozelsk
COA of Chernihiv Principality.svg Principality of Chernigov Mongol Empire
Commanders and leaders
COA of Chernihiv Principality.svg Prince Vasili Batu Khan
Units involved
[data unknown/missing][data unknown/missing]
the entire population of the city

on the last day of the siege:

  • 4000


Taking the city of Torzhok on 5 March 1238 after a two-week siege, the Mongols continued to Novgorod. However, they failed to reach the city, mainly because they had difficulties moving in the woods, and after advancing around 100 kilometers at the unknown place designated in the chronicles as the Ignach Cross, they abandoned the plans to conquer Novgorod, turned south, and divided into two groups.

Some of the forces led by Kadan and Storms passed over the Eastern route through the Ryazan land. The main forces led by Batu Khan passed through Dolgomost 30 km east of Smolensk, then entered the Chernigov Principality on the upper Gums, burned Vshchizh, but then abruptly turned to the northeast, bypassing the Bryansk and Karachev, at the end of March 1238 went to the Kozelsk on the Zhizdra River.

At that time the city was the capital of the Principality at the head of twelve-year-old Prince Vasily, grandson of Mstislav Svyatoslavich of Chernigov, who was killed at the Battle of Kalka in 1223. The city was well fortified: surrounded by ramparts built on them walls, but the Mongols had powerful siege equipment.

Reasons for the long siegeEdit

The duration of the siege, according to various versions, could be affected by several factors in different combinations, including:

  • The overall decline in the fighting capacity of the Mongol army after the first phase of the campaign.
  • The slush made impassable valleys of the rivers Zhizdra and into it Kozelsk Druguse and locked the Mongol army on the watershed.
  • The slush turned the city into an island fortress.
  • Kozelsk was appointed a place of gathering troops.


  1. Duration of freeze-up. Map
  2. Civilian V. A. Memory. Roman-Gazeta, No. 16-17 (950-951). Goskomizdat, 1982


  • Nikiforovsky chronicle. Volume 35
  • Rashid-Eddin. The Book Of Chronicles. History Of The Mongols. Essay Rashid-Eddine. Introduction: About the Turkish and Mongolian tribes, Transl. from Persian, with introduction and notes by I. P. Berezina // Note the Empire. Architecture. society. 1858. T. 14.
  • Karamzin Nikolay Mikhailovich. History of the Russian state. Volume 3