Further reinforcement of the state took place during Vasily I's reign. After his death the throne ascended his son Vasily II, who at that moment was only 10 years old.
Both due his character, and the conditions existing during his father's life, Vasily could hardly influence the policy of great reigning. After Tochtamyshev's pogrom in 1382 sent by his father to the Horde as a representative in the dispute for the grand principal throne against the Tver prince Mikhail Aleksandrovich, Vasily was captured there as a hostage for the 8000th duty of the Moscow grand prince.
After two years in the Horde, he escaped therefrom to Moldova and through Lithuania, where met Vitovt and where his marriage with Sofia Vitovtovna was decided (contracted in 1391), returned to Moscow only in January, 1387, escorted by the Polish-Lithuanian retinue.
Having received under Donsky's will the Vladimir principality as an ancestral land, he was raised to the grand-prince throne in Vladimir by the khan's ambassador. Donsky's death opened the way to the metropolitan chair in Vladimir to the noble Bulgarian Kipriyan, put in the Russian mitropoly in 1387 and recognized in Lithuania earlier, than he was admitted to Moscow; it broke national policy of the chair, deeply and definitely carried out by metropolitan Alexey, and the opposite to it idea of church rapproachement of Catholic Lithuania with the Greek orthodoxy was brought, supported by political prevalence of Vitovt. The western policy of Moscow was thus submitted to the views of Vitovt.
Assignment to great reigning by the statement of the Horde provided Vasily diplomatic victory over the claims of his uncle Vladimir Andreevich, who first left from Moscow to Novgorod where he probably had not found strong support. In the same 1389 the contract (Assembly of the State Letters and Contracts) was concluded, recognizing Vasily's grand-principal authority by territorial concession to the uncle (Voloklamsky and Rzhevo) and subordinated position of the uncle. One item of the contract provided an opportunity of expansion of Vasily's possession (Murom, Tarusa and " other places ").
With peace obtained on the western border (the contract with Great Novgorod of 1390, marriage with Sofia in 1391) in 1392 Vasily went to the Horde where the Moscow money and, maybe, danger on the part of approaching Tamerlan provided him a label for the Nizhniy Novgorod great principality, Gorodets, Meshera, Murom and Tarusa. Nizhniy Novgorod prince Boris Konstantinovich did not manage to defend neither his rights, confirmed by the Horde in 1389, nor the city: Nizhni Novgorod was seized by the Moscow boyars owing to betray of the local nobility, with Vasily Rumyantsev in the head; Moscow deputies settled there. After Boris Konstantinovich's death in imprisonment (1393) Vasily had to struggle for his acquisition against Boris 's nephew, Semen Dmitrievich; in 1401 he was made to refuse from inheritance claims. With Semen's death in 1402 the Nizhniy Novgorod question was favorably solved for Moscow for a long time.
Invasion of Tamerlan, in 1395 disordered the Horde of Tochtamysh in the Volga lower reaches and threw out Tatar masses therefrom by the Volga up to the Kama, menacing Russian boards in the East. The task of defense of ethnographic border, and colonizing onset to the East was put before the Moscow prince. He appeared to get the key of trading movement downwards the Volga and a new source of influence on Great Novgorod: with strengthening of the Moscow authority on the Volga Great Novgorod had to beware of the Dvina and other "lands", hardly connected with mother country and economically more oriented to the South, than to the West.
Right after connection of the Nizhniy Novgorod principality Vasily demanded of Great Novgorod black pine forest, possessions and mitropolitan court and supported the non-fulfilled requirement of the military expedition toTorzhok, Volok-Lamsky and Vologda. Novgorod responded with attack on Ustyug and Beloozero, but later asked for peace, which was made 'in the old manner' (1393), with payment of black pine forest and the contribution and with rejection of the decision on cancellation of the metropolitan court. Attempt to separate Great Novgorod from its "lands" soon became possible - by the cost of national humiliation.
1395 was a critical year for Moscow in this sense: only by chance it avoided devastation by Tamerlan; Vitovt set an offensive to the east, having taken Smolensk and having sent an army to Ryazan, where one of Smolensk princes found shelter. Vasily not only did not come out for protection of Russian areas, but together with metropolitan Kiprian appeared in 1396 in Smolensk with a visit of Vitovt, where negotiations (about church affairs in Lithuania) were successfully held by metropolitan. After the route of the Ryazan land by Vitovt he was honourably accepted by Vasily Dmitrievich on the Moscow territory, in Kolomna. Here joint actions were decided against Great Novgorod, which concluded undesirable to Vitovt and non-significant for Moscow contract with Germans. But at the same time the invitation to secede from Novgorod and to ask Moscow for protection was sent to Dvina. Dvinyans accepted the offer. Volok-lamsky, Torzhok, the top of Bezhetsky and Vologda were detached from Novgorod, but in 1398 Novgoroders won back the territories, and Vasily had to conclude peace again " in the old manner ": Vitovt was already busy with another plan (reinstatement of Tochtamysh in the Horde and the union with him against Moscow) and cancelled peace concluded with Vasily.
Defeat of Vitovt in Vorskle in 1399 let loose to Vasily; in 1401 Moscow armies again waged war in Zavolochye, in Dvina etc. Pskov also sought for support against Vitovt. In 1406 peace with Lithuania was broken off, an army was sent to the Vyazma, Vasily set out against Vitovt to the river Plava, but it didn't go to a fight, and an armistice for a year was made. Distempers in Lithuania prolonged for two years attempts to come out from under the influence of the policy of Vitovt. In 1408 (July) Vasily took to himself the unlucky contender of Yagayla, Svidrigayl, with princes of Zvenigorod, Putivl, Peremyshl and Minsk and boyars of Chernigov, Bryansk, Starodub and Roslavl, having given Svidrigal the cities of Vladimir, Pereyaslavl etc. Vitovt responded with a campaign to the river Ugra where the Moscow regiments with Vasily Dmitrievich also marched off; this time confrontation resulted in an everlasting peace.
In November, 1408 the leader of the hordean host Yedygey through Ryazan and Kolomna approached Moscow, stopped in Kolomna and therefrom within a month devastated the Moscow cities down to Nizhni Novgorod. Moscow was released from the siege for 3000 roubles. Under the influence of a group of young boyars, with treasurer Ivan Fedorovich Koshka in the head (Assembly of the State Letters and Contracts), the Moscow government stopped sending ambassadors to the Horde and payment of the nevertheless collected tribute (a chronicler told about one "cultural" charge of a princely court yard under 1404 - a construction in Moscow of the tower striking clock with fight, " queer and self-ringing clock').
In 1419 Vasily appointed son Vasily his successor; attempt to take the written approval of brothers caused protesting departure of the younger, Konstantin, but he went not to Tatars, but to Novgorod: the Horde had no reason to loose the serviceable tributary. Vasily Dmitrievich's relations with Vitovt also tended to maintenance of everlasting peace. Dying, Vasily charged Vitovt with protection of grand-principal rights of his ten-year son. Attempts at Great Novgorod were left at this time. Four of 5 sons of Vasily Dmitrievich died during his life (three - at a very young age).