History of Tula

12th to 14th Centuries


The Nikon Chronicle mentions that in 1146 Prince Svyatoslav Olgovich of Chernigov stopped in Tula on his way to Ryazan.  This year has since been adopted as the official date of foundation of the city. However since the Nikon Chronicle was only compiled in the 16th century, this date cannot be taken as completely reliable. The earliest indisputable mention of Tula came in 1382 when it was mentioned in an agreement between Grand Prince Dmitri Donskoy of Moscow and Grand Prince Oleg Ivanovich of Ryazan. In any case it is believed that the city most likely formed in the 11th century as a settlement of the Vyatichi tribe, which later fell under the influence of the Chernigov Principality and then the Ryazan Principality.

15th Century

Incorporation into Lithuania and Moscow

Early in his reign, which started in 1427, Grand Prince Ivan Fyodorovich of Ryazan granted Tula and the surrounding area to Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania, but Ryazan regained control upon Vytautas' death in 1430. Ivan Fyodorovich's son and successor, Grand Prince Vasili Ivanovich of Ryazan, died in 1483.  Before his death he decided that his territory should be split between his two sons. The eldest - Ivan - became grand prince of Ryazan and received two-thirds of the territory and the youngest - Fyodor - became prince of Staraya Ryazan and received one-third which included Tula. Fyodor died in 1503 without issue and left his lands to Grand Prince Ivan III of Moscow. Tula was thereby incorporated into Muscovy.

16th Century

Tula Kremlin

With the increasing number of Tatar raids from the south, Tula became important for the defence of Moscow. Grand Prince Vasili III of Rus set about strengthening the city's defences in 1507 when he ordered a wooden fortress be built on the left bank of the River Ula and this was completed in 1509. In 1514 the grand prince ordered that a stone kremlin be constructed inside the wooden defences, using the Moscow Kremlin as an example. The Work on the Tula Kremlin was completed in 1520 and became part of the Great Abatis Border. The kremlin had its first test in 1552 when Khan Devlet Geray of Crimea besieged Tula while Tsar Ivan the Terrible was on campaign in Kazan. The kremlin was able to withstand the siege until reinforcements arrived from Kolomna to relieve Tula.

17th Century

Time of Troubles

In 1605 Tula was captured by the army of the First False Dmitri. In 1606 Ivan Bolotnikov's rebels were forced to end their siege of Moscow and Ileyka Muromets, a Cossack ally of Bolotnikov claiming to be the son of Tsar Feodor, retreated with his men to Tula where they captured the kremlin. Later Muromets was reunited with Bolotnikov in Tula. In July 1607 Tsar Vasili Shuisky's forces started to besiege Tula. Tsar Vasili ordered that a dyke be built on the River Ula which flooded part of the kremlin destroying the rebels' supplies. They had no choice but to surrender the kremlin in October 1607 as reinforcements in the form of the Second False Dmitri's army did not arrive in time to save Bolotnikov.

Industrial Development

Following the destruction brought by the Troubles, in the mid-17th century Tula started to loses its defensive significance as the Russian border moved south. To compensate for this Tula began to develop as a trade and industrial centre. In 1632 Tsar Michael granted Dutchman Andreas Vinnius the right to found an ironworks in Tula. In 1652 two more ironworks were founded also by Dutchmen. As part of the arrangement Vinnuis was to teach Russians the trade of arms manufacturing.

18th Century

Arms Manufacturing

In the beginning of the 18th century, Tula became known as the arms manufacturing centre of Russia. A key figure in this development was Nikita Demidov who was from Tula and who became the founder of the successful Demidov dynasty of industrialists. In 1695 Demidov became the first Russian to open an arms factory and later won the support of Tsar Peter the Great. Demidov was tasked with producing weapons for Peter's Northern War and in recognition of his entrepreneurship he was given other ironworks across Russia to run, as well as permission to found new ones. In 1712 Peter the Great ordered the founding of the Tula Arsenal which still exists today.

Administrative Reform

In 1719 Tula became the centre of the Tula Province in the Moscow Government. In 1777 the Tula Province was raised to the Tula Viceroyalty by Catherine the Great and in 1778 a coat of arms was adopted for the city depicting two blades, a gun barrel and two hammers on a red background, in recognition of Tula's fame for producing weapons. In 1796 Emperor Paul replaced the Tula Viceroyalty with the Tula Governorate.

19th Century


Tula's arms factories naturally played a significant role during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. Tula did not just aid the motherland in terms of the production of weapons, many of its citizen also fought in the war. In the later 19th century the demand for weapons decreased and Tula's factories started to produce more peaceful products. It was at this time that Tula became associated with the production of samovars. Tula is so famous for samovars that in Russian there is an expression "to take samovars to Tula" which has the same sense as the English phrase "to carry coals to Newcastle".

20th Century

Second World War

In 1937 Tula became the administrative centre of the newly-created Tula Region. As a major armaments producer and strategic for the defence of Moscow, Tula was destined to play a major role in the Second World War. The Tula Defensive Operation started as part of the Battle for Moscow on 24 October 1941 when the Nazis launched their military campaign to capture Tula. By this time the Soviets had succeeded in evacuating many of Tula's factories east, but production of arms did continue in the city. For 43 days the city bravely held out against the Nazi attack until reinforcements arrived on 5 December 1941 which drove the Nazi's south and heralded the end of the defensive operation and the start of the offensive operation, which finally removed the threat of Moscow falling. For the heroism of its citizens during this period Tula was awarded the title of Hero City of the Soviet Union in 1976.