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Куликовы поля

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I am not a historian, and I didn’t even like history in school. I didn’t like it, but I believed that everything was as it was: the French Revolution, Spartacus’s rebellion, Attila’s war with Rome, and mammoth hunts with subsequent illustrations on the walls of ancient caves. All this was exactly as history teachers told us (they often changed in my childhood for some reason). Later, when the Internet appeared, I learned about the New Chronology and became skeptical — I stopped taking historians’ word for it. In any description of past events, I started looking for alternative versions. Later I learned that this is called conspiracy theory and is condemned in decent society, Pelevin won’t let me lie.

The question arises, can we definitively say what exactly happened, say, six centuries ago when neither Instagram nor printing existed? We cannot definitively. We can only speculate on what events might have occurred, based on the artifacts available to us and considering the possibility of their falsification. The fewer and older the artifacts, the more opportunities there are to make a mistake. And mistakes are made, often.

For example, it was recently believed that Ivan the Terrible killed his son by hitting him on the head with a heavy royal staff. How did we know this? Five years after the alleged murder, Antonio Possevino, a papal legate and secretary of the Jesuit order, published a treatise “Moscovia,” in which he described events of which he supposedly had accurate information. Then, thirty years later, when the Romanov dynasty was already in power, this version was repeated, for example, in the “Chronograph” of 1617. Two hundred years later, Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin recounted the legate’s version in his “History of the Russian State,” and half a century later, Ivan Repin painted his famous picture. However, in 1963, the tomb of the tsar and his family was opened, and no clear signs of murder were found: there was no blood in the tsarevich’s hair. Moreover, signs of poisoning were found, not of the son, but of the entire family. Thus, the version of the murder, believed by the whole world for over four centuries, turned out to be a fabrication by an Italian cemented by Karamzin.

However, it is not worth hastily accusing Karamzin. Try to put yourself in his shoes. After all, if you look at the situation from his point of view: some Ivan the Terrible, two and a half centuries ago, killed someone, or not — does it really matter? The task was set, the customer was waiting for completion, and the salary was impressive. So why not write that the murder took place, especially if there is a “primary source” to rely on? Let descendants judge if it is important to them: they can conduct an exhumation, compare facts, write dissertations. “At least I haven’t killed anyone,” — this is probably how Nikolai Mikhailovich thought, pondering whether the story of the Italian was true, of which he had no idea.

And if Karamzin wanted to get to the truth, ignoring the possible loss of the fee, what methods and tools could he use? What are the available means for historians to uncover the truth? An even more important question concerns the accuracy of each of these tools: what is their margin of error? It can be assumed that the arsenal of methods available to historians is similar to that used by criminalists: based on indirect and direct evidence, it is necessary to recreate the picture of events, trying to ensure the consistency of evidence. It is also worth taking into account the testimonies of witnesses, considering the degree of their interest in a certain interpretation of events.

After the work of the criminalists is completed, the investigator combines all the evidence collected, reconstructs the picture of what happened, and submits the materials to court, where both sides are given the opportunity to speak. On one hand, lawyers look for inaccuracies in the collected data, trying to convince the court that the proposed reconstruction of events is incorrect — for example, that Ivan the Terrible did not kill his son. On the other hand, the prosecutor strengthens arguments in favor of the plausibility of his version of events. Ultimately, the court forms its own subjective opinion on what happened and issues a verdict. This process is part of the judicial system, representing a mechanism for establishing the truth in a legal state. The presence of a judicial system accessible to all citizens is an undeniable sign of a developed society. We will come back to this thought in a minute.

For now, let’s move from the times of Ivan IV to even more ancient epochs and to an event that presumably took place two centuries earlier: the grand battle on September 8, 1380, between the people’s militia of Dmitry Donskoy and the Horde army of Khan Mamai, with a huge number of casualties, which played a pivotal role in Russian history and was later called the Battle of Kulikovo. Despite the fact that the fact of mass bloodshed does not raise doubts among historians, convincingly proving where exactly it happened is still problematic.

Indeed, how can one determine the coordinates of the field where a bloody battle took place six centuries ago? Where is this field? Perhaps one could try to rely on the memories of “Italian eyewitnesses” again, but at that time there were no road atlases, no Google Maps, and parallels with meridians had not yet been invented. Even if there were eyewitnesses to the battle who could write, could they describe the coordinates of the place in such a way that today they could be found on Yandex Maps?

Someone at that time possessed the skill of writing. A certain Sofoniy Ryazanets. He wrote a book called Zadonshchina, as is believed, even during Dmitry’s lifetime, in which he described the meeting place of the Orthodox prince with the Tatar leader as follows: “blood was shed on the river bank” somewhere “between the Don and the Dnieper” (in the photo Undolsky list, page 185, emphasis mine). It is believed that Sofoniy is the most reliable witness of those events, so it is necessary to look for the mentioned river on the map, somewhere nearby there will also be a field. The only problem is that we don’t have maps of Russia from the 14th century with names of small rivers.

And if such a map existed, I would look for the river “Napryadu”, somewhere between the Don and the Dnieper. However, in the translation for some reason this phrase sounds like: “blood will be shed on the river Nepryadve!”. I find it difficult to judge how historians turned “Napryad” into “Nepryadve”. Obviously, such a translation introduces some error into the further investigation of the battle site. However, this linguistic assumption did not bother Stepan Nechaev, who in 1848 discovered the river Nepryadva on his estate lands, proposed to name one of his fields Kulikovo, and began raising funds for a monument. He was surely envied by, for example, the owner of the river Navlya (Bryansk region), also suitable in name for the ancient chronicle, but the initiative had already been intercepted.

For almost a century and a half, this version satisfied many, until in our time the mathematician Anatoly Fomenko and his colleagues, as part of their work on the New Chronology, suggested moving Kulikovo Field to the center of present-day Moscow, mainly arguing 1) the greater military expediency of such a location in those times, 2) the almost complete barrenness of excavations on Nechaev’s estate, 3) the multiple burials of fallen soldiers, discovered in the Sretensky area (Moscow district) and 4) the discovery of practically all geographical names (and there are many!), mentioned in sources on the Kulikovo battle, on the territory of Moscow. For example, in their opinion, the river in Moscow, known to us today as Naprudnaya, is the very same river “Napryad”.

It can be said that both Nechaev’s version and Fomenko’s version are either equally reliable or equally unreliable: in both cases, the original name of the river does not correspond to its modern name. However, in my opinion, there are more contradictions in Nechaev’s version, if only because the excavations did not yield any significant results. However, the historical scientific community decided not to take Fomenko’s team seriously and even refused to consider his version in the court of history. For example, the Russian-language Wikipedia pages dedicated to the Kulikovo Battle and Kulikovo Field do not mention the New Chronology at all.

Allow me to conclude my thought with an instructive story. A few months ago, I was lucky to have the opportunity to have a conversation with Anatoly Timofeevich Fomenko and Gleb Vladimirovich Nosovsky on my YouTube channel, in an interview format. We mostly talked about the New Chronology, their view on history, and the difficulties that authors of alternative views on it face. Some time after the publication of both video clips, I invited another scientist, a doctor of technical sciences, for an interview, and received a refusal. Here it is in full:

I was ashamed to read this letter. Ashamed of our scientists.

Translated by ChatGPT gpt-3.5-turbo/42 on 2024-04-20 at 14:46

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