February, 25, 1425 The Grand Duke Vasily I Dmitriyevich died. According to his last will that was made up in 1423 Vasily, his ten-year-old son, became the heir; Princess Sofia Vitovtovna, her father Vitovt, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, and also Princes Andrey and Peter Dmitriyevichi became regents. The rights of Vasily II (1425-1462) were immediately contested by his elder uncle, the Galitsia Prince Yury Dmitriyevich. Yury, a talented commander who made successful raids deep into Tatar's lands, controlled cities Galitch, Avenigorod, Ruza, Vyatka, was guided by the testament of Dmitry Donskoy who set the other order of succession: to the eldest in the kin, not from a father to a son. Yury Dmitriyevich, possessed rich, economically developed lands and had strong political influence over vast regions of Northeast Russia. Besides, Vasily II took the throne without The Golden Horde Khan's approval - all that made a claim of The Prince Yury weighty.
The Moscow Government started military operation against Yury, but he avoided actions, instead he decided to prepare more carefully and enlist the support of The Horde. Metropolitan Foty, one of the key figures of Vasily II's Government, longed to avoid bloodshed and achieved an armistice. Under the agreement concluded in the middle of 1425 Prince Yury promised not to seek the Grand Duke's throne, but in fact the decision was to be made by the Horde's leaders. A visit to the Horde in the autumn of 1431 of both, Yury Dmitriyevich and Vasily Vasiliyevich brought success to the latter.
Prince Yury, who was given the Dimitrov independent principality, did not resign a claim and on his return from the Horde began military preparations. The confrontation grew into a war that broke out in the spring of 1433. Yury Dmitriyevich and his two elder sons, Vasily Kosoy and Dmitry Shemyaka campaigned against Moscow. In the battle on the Klyazma River (April, 25) the Grand Duke Vasily II was defeated and fled to Tver and then to Kostroma with all his family. Yury Dmitrievich entered Moscow. Yury, accoring to the tradition, granted Vasily II the Kolomna independent principality. But Moscow boyards and servicemen did not recognize Yury, they considered him to be only a rebellious prince, they went to Kolomna, to their master. Galitsia people were also displeased. Soon, Yury Dmitriyevich soberly considered the political conditions, gave the throne back to the nepnep and concluded a treaty where he acknowledged Vasily's leadership.
However the war was continued by Yury's sons, who in September 1433 beat Moscow troops near Galich. Vasily II mustered large army and headed against the Galitsia princes. A decisive battle took place in the Rostov Land on March 20, 1434. Vasily II was defeated again. Yury re-entered Moscow.
The following actions of Yury Dmitriyevich testified his intention to consolidate Russia and keep struggle against the Horde. Prince Yury died suddenly on June 5, 1434. The political situation became aggravated again. According to the principles Yury Dmitriyevich stood for during all his life, the Grand Duke throne now belonged to Vasily II, he was the eldest in a new generation of the family. But Vasily Kosoy proclaimed himself the successor as the eldest son of Yury. However other Yury's sons took Vasily II's side and before long Vasily Kosoy left Moscow. In May, 1436 the army of Vasily II destroyed the Galitsia prince retinue in Rostov Land.Vasily Kosoy was taken prisoner and blinded. Dmitry Shemyaka and Vasily II concluded a treaty: the Galitsia prince recognized Vasily as 'his elder brother'; and all lands of Vasily Kosoy (Zvenigorod, Dmitrov) passed to Vasily II. It was obvious, that this compromise was temporal and the struggle would inevitably start again in the nearest future. This relationship worsened even more when in 1440 the younger brother of Shemyaka, Dmitry Krasny, died and Vasily II appropriated the biggest part of his lands as well (Bezhetsky Verkh) and seriously reduced privileges of Dmitry Shemyaka.
Considerable changes happened in the Horde influenced a course of the struggle for autocracy in Russia. Ulu-Mukhammed Khan was defeated by one of Tokhtamysh's sons and in 1436 - 1437 settled in the Middle Volga Region. He used the internal war of Russian princes and seized Nizhni Novgorod, made devastating raids deep into Russian lands. In the summer of 1445 in a battle near Suzdal sons of Ulu-Mukhammed smashed Russian army and took Vasily II prisoner. Moscow passed to Shemyaka.
Shortly after Vasily II was released for a big ransom. Having learned about Vasily II's return escorted by the Horde troops, Shemyaka fled to Uglich. Military defeat, a hard burden of the huge ransom, violence of the Tatars who came to collect it, obscure fate of Russia - all that caused strong opposition. Many Moscow boyards, merchants and clergymen supported Shemyaka. A conspiracy against Vasily II was arranged. In February, 1446 Vasily II came to Troitse-Sergiev Monastery to pray, Shemyaka seize him, took to Moscow and blinded. Later Vasily II was nicknamed Vasily Temny (Dark).
Position of Grand Duke Dmitry Yuriyevich was rather difficult. His savage punishment of Vasily II evoked indignation and pushed many of his supporters away. Shemyaka tried to regain authority. He enlisted the support of the church by giving charters to several monasteries. He also contracted an alliance with Novgorod. Fragility of the new Grand Duke's position forced him to enter into negotiations with Vasily The Dark. The latter sworn not to seek the throne. In September, 1446 Vasily II was released to the Vologda independent principality that was granted by Dmitry.
Vologda became a place of concentration of supporters of Vasily II's return. Trifon, Father Superior of Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery gave Vasily an absolution from the oath. Efficient aid to Vasily The Dark was rendered by the Tver Prince Boris Aleksandrovich. In the beginning of 1447 Vasily II's army beat Dmitry Shemyaka's troops near Uglich; and on February 17 Vasily II was triumphantly back to Moscow.
The Galitsia Prince still tried to continue the struggle, but its outcome was already predetermined. Defeated near Galich and then near Ustyug Shemyaka lost his chance to regain the throne. He died in 1453 in Novgorod under rather mysterious circumstances. The feudal war ended with his death.
Consolidation of authority of the Grand Duke of Moscow to a great extent depended on successes of the struggle against political separatism of both, former allies of Vasily II and his former opponents. A punitive expedition against Mozhaisk Prince Ivan Andreyevich was undertaken in the summer of 1445. The Serpukhov Prince Vasily Yaroslavovich was suddenly seized and confined in 1456. His land, as well as Mozhaisk, passed into the hands of the Grand Duke.
In 1460 Pskov appealed to the Grand Duke Vasily II for protection against the Livonian Order. Yury, a son of Vasily The Dark was sent to Pskov. He signed an armistice with the Order.By the end of the reign of Vasily II his lands immeasurably exceeded the territories of other Russian princes who had lost their sovereignty by this moment and was forced to obey him. There was only one independent principality in the structure of the Moscow Princedom - Vereysko-Belozersky, still its prince wholly recognized leadership of the Grand Duke of Moscow.