{short description of image}  



John Sloan



Note: This manuscript was compiled in the early 1970's as a part of an overly ambitious effort to write a military history of Russia from the 8th to 19th centuries. It has resided in my file cabinet since then, along with many other fragments of the projected full history. The original manuscript is in the form of a book, including index and footnotes. Reformating it for the Web, I was unable to retain the proper alighment for these and other parts of the chronological sections. Therefore, the page numberings given here do not relate to this version of the text. However, I hope this rendition will be of some interest to students of Russian and of military history.
In the last 20 years or so we have been favored with a huge flood of new books and articles in Russian and English on various aspects of Russian military history. I am reviewing these and will be adding them to the bibliography. Especially important are the following: Alexander Filjushkin's Ivan the Terrible: A Military History - {short description of image}; Carol Stevens' Russia's Wars of Emergence 1460-1730 - {short description of image}, and Brian L. Davies' Warfare, State and Society on the Black Sea Steppe, 1500-1700 - {short description of image}. But so far I have not found a general military history of the entire 1100 years or so. We have published on the Internet Web some articles, especially the work of Dr. Col. Dianne Smith on the Army of Ivan IV. We published in Gorget and Sash several articles as well. All of these plus some of the other fragments that pertain to the 14th - 16th centuries have been hyperlinked to this essay. Hopefully, we will be able to add the extensive material already compiled for the 17th and 18th centuries and expand the material linked here related to earlier centuries as well.
For convenience I list several of the related sections that have been placed on the Internet in recent years:
An attempt at a comprehensive listing of the over 800 princes and their family relationships {short description of image}and a listing of those who were acknowledged as chief - that is grand prince or tsar {short description of image} In addition there should be links between the sections on leading individuals in this book and their entries in the 'rulers' data base.
An interesting wax museum that was in Simbirsk in 1997 with figures for Romanovs and some others. {short description of image}
A summary chronology focused on military related events - much in need of expansion, {short description of image}
A graphical display that attempts to depict the many simultaneous wars in which Muscovy-Russia and its neighbors were involved. {short description of image} I use this opportunity also to establish links to related Encyclopedia Britannica articles. I hope eventually to create links to Wikipedia articles as well.




Moscow, Principality of 2

Moscow, Kremlin 4

Novgorod, Principality of 5

Riazan, Principality of 6

Rostov, Principality of 6

Smolensk, Principality of 7

Suzdal, Principality of 8

Sviiazhsk 8

Tver, Principality of 8

Vereia 10

Viatka Land 10

Vladimir-Suzdal, Principality of 10

Other Russian towns 11

Serpukhov 11

Severia - Seversk Principality - 11

Starodub 11

Lithuania, Grand Principality of 11

Poland 13

Sweden 14

Cossack hosts 14

Khanate of Kipchak (Golden Horde) 15

Khanate of Crimea 18

Khanate of Kazan 19

Khanate of Astrakhan 20

Nogai Horde 21

Ottoman Empire 22

List of other towns, rivers, and geographic names 23


Dmitrii Mikhailovich of Tver 24

Aleksander Mikhailovich of Tver 24

Ivan I Danilovich 24

Ivan II Ivanovich 25

Dmitrii Ivanovich (Donskoi) 26

Andrei Fedorovich Prince of Starodub 26

Andrei Ivanovich 26

Vladimir Andreevich Khrabryi (1353-1410) 27

Dmitrii Konstantinovich Starshii 28

Andrei Ol'gerdovich 28

Vasilii I Dmitrievich (1371-1425) 29

Vasilii Mikhailovich of Tver (?-1367) 30

Mikhail Aleksandrovich of Tver 30

Ivan Mikhailovich of Tver 31

Vasilii Dmitrievich Kirdiapa (?-1403) 31

Vasilii II Vasil'evich (1415-1462) 32

Vasilii Yur'evich Kosoi (?-1448) 32

Dmitrii Shemiaka (1420-1453) 33

Mikhail Andreevich Vereiskii(? c.1410-1486) 33

Ivan III (1440-1505) Grand Prince of Muscovy from 1462. 34

Andrei Vasil'vich Bol'shoi 34

Andrei Vasil'evich Men'shoi 35

Mikhail Borosovich of Tver 35

Ivan Ivanovich, Grand Prince of Riazan 35

Vasilii Ivanovich Shemiachich (?-1529) 35

Vasilii III Ivanovich 36

Ivan Fedorovich Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolenskii, 36

Ivan IV 37

Feodor Ivanovich 39

Boris Gudonov 39

Feodor Borisovich 39

Gergorii Luk'ianovich Malituta-Skuratov (?-1573) 39

Vladimir Andreevich Staritskii (1533-1569) 39

Dmitrii Ivanovich Vishnevetskii (?-1563) 39

Adashev, Aleksei Fedorovich 40

Adashev, Daniil Fedorovich 40

Andrei Ivanovich 41

Vitovt (1350-1430) 42

Sigismund I 43

Sigismund II Augustus 43

Sigismund III - 43

Stephen Bathory - 43

Alexander 43

Akhmet Khan 44

Devlet Gerei Khan of Crimea (1551-1577) 44

Hadji Gerei Khan of Crimea (1443-1466) 44

Mengli Gerei Khan of Crimea ((? - 1515) 44

Nur Devlet Khan of Crimea (? - 1498) 45


Composition 47

Organization 49

Tactics 51

Weapons 51



Ivan I 53

Summary of Reign 53

Chronology 53

Ivan II Ivanovich 54

Summary of reign 54

Chronology 54

Dmitrii Ivanovich 55

Summary of reign 55

Chronology 55

Vasilii I 59

Summary of Reign 59

Chronology 59


Summary 61

Chronology 61


Summary of Reign 64

Chronology 65

Campaigns against Kazan 66

First Campaign against Novgorod 67

Battle of Shelon River 67

Second Campaign against Novgorod 68

War with Lithuania 68

Third and last campaign against Novgorod 69

Campaign against Kazan 70

Campaign against Kazan 71

Campaign against Viatka 72

Polish army defeats Horde 72

Truce with Lithuania 74

Campaigns against Sweden 74

Swedish sack of Ivangorod 75

War against Lithuania 76



Summary of Reign 82

Chronology 82

Campaign against Lithuania 83


Summary of Reign 86

Chronology 87

Campaign against Kazan 90

Conquest of Astrakhan 92

Livonian War 93

Sweden and Poland transform Livonian War 95

Armistice with Poland 99

Renewed war with Poland-Lithuania 102

Poland declares war 103

Armistice between Poland and Moscow 104


Organization 106

Creation of Streltsi 106

Reorganization of dvoriani cavalry 107

Select dvoriani 108

Reform of the frontier services 109


Summary of Reign: 112

Chronology: 112

War with Sweden 113

Armistice with Sweden 116


Summary 118

Chronology 118








Military terminology 131

dumnye d'iaki 131

dumnye dvoriane 131

dvorianin - dvoriane 131

Deti boyarski (sing. syn boyarski) 131

Okol'nichii (okol'nichie) 132

Stol'nik 132

Voevoda Voevodi 132

Storozhevaia i stanichnaia sluzhba 132


The military problems facing the Muscovite government were constant, complex, and continually changing. Most of the sources used to compile this chronology treat the material topically, for greater clarity. However, when the authors separate out, for example, Tatar activities for a 25 year period from Polish and these from Swedish activities, the reader often does not realize that from the point of view of the Muscovite government at the time, there may have been three separate wars going on simultaneously. By integrating all accounts into one chronological frame of reference, I hope to restore this sense of unremitting struggle. If the narrative faces the reader with the feeling of being overwhelmed by the intricacy of the shifting alliances and campaigns, it is intentional; because that must be the way the Grand Prince of Valdimir and later the Tsar of all the Russias felt about his situation. The reader should consult the cited sources for analytical treatment of this material.

Even though preserving complexity is in part an objective, it is not to list every Cossack and Tatar military operation. Their raids, counterraids, ambushes, and ordinary brigandage were so often happenstance and even unpremeditated that to list them all would be equivalent to listing every black market operation in a history of the Second World War. Yet taken together, these raids presented the governments concerned with a major problem, or opportunity. Therefore, I hope that the operations that are included sufficiently represent the whole.


Russian states

Moscow, Principality of - {short description of image}

Moscow is located on the Moskva River a tributary of the Oka, which in turn is a tributary of the Volga River. The place was first mentioned in chronicles for 1147 when Yuri Dolgoruki fortified an estate on the river bank. Archeological exploration indicates that there had been earlier construction there. For Yuri it was an important strategic western outpost facing Chernigov and Riazan territories. It developed as a river port participating in the growth of trade between Europe through the Baltic and the Asia beyond the Caspian Sea. The local economy was based primairly on agriculture, but the combination of average soil and harsh climate kept this at a relatively primitive level. The region is not favored with deposits of valuable minerals either. Thus most manufactured goods were imported in exchange for the products of Russian forests such as furs and honey. In the 13th and 14th centuries the density of population was low in both urban and rural areas. In the later 15th century, reigns of Vasilii II and Ivan III, expansion of political influence was accompanied by increase in population, but this prosperity was short lived, since the wars and social unrest prevalent during the last half of the reign of Ivan IV severly damaged all facets of the economy.

The rise to political, social, and cultural supremacy of Moscow despite its serious fundamental shortcomings is astounding. Richard Hellie has compiled the statistics to show the following areas under Muscovite control during the period of this book.(1)



AREA (in sq. kms.)











The full story of the remarkable growth of the Principality of Moscow will not be discussed here, since it is the story of this entire book, but a few highlights will be mentioned for the reader's convenience and consideration. At the start of the 14th century Moscow still faced strong competition within its own region from both Vladimir-Suzdal and Tver. The region in turn was in competion with Novgorod and the western regions in Lithuania on one side and with the Mongol-Tatar Horde on the other.

Some factors critical to the successful expansion of Muscovite influence and the city's triumph as capital of the reunited Russian state include the following:

Moscow, Kremlin - {short description of image}

The early history of Moscow (the town rather than the principality) is the history of the Kremlin of today. A few points may be mentioned since they are relevant to the history of fortification in Muscovy. Many medieval Russian towns were fortified. In some of the smaller villages the entire settlement might have fit inside the kremlin. As the towns grew the kremlin became like a citadel occupied only by the ruler and his officals and troops, while the town might have a longer wall around it as well. This was the case with Moscow. The first fortification was a wooden wall, at first of pine and later of oak and earth, that enclosed an area only part of the present Kremlin. The first wall was attacked many times including by the Mongols in 1237 and 1293 when the town was burned. Ivan I had the Kremlin walls extended to inclose a larger area in which he could build the cathedrals and palaces befiting the new Grand Prince of Vladimir and the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church. The first stone wall was built between 1367 and 1382 by Dmitrii Donskoi as part of his program of preparing to resist the Tatars. It was promptly attacked by Toqutamish in 1382 and was successfully defended until he gained admitance by trickery. This wall served for another hundred years against many assaults.

In 1472 Ivan III decided to expand and strengthen the Kremlin, by then already his citadel well within the environs of greater Moscow. As befiting his new status as heir to Byzantium and having a new Italian educated wife, he sent to Italy for master architects and builders to remake his citadel into a “world class” masterpiece of urban architecture and fortification. The famous architect and master founder, Aristotle Fieraventi accepted the assignment and labored in Moscow from 1475 until his death in 1485. His work was continued by whole teams of Italian masters until the Kremlin was filled with many of the cathedrals one sees today and the outer wall took on the appearance it now has (except for the tops of the towers.) At that time also the Kremlin was protected on all three sides by water from the Neglinnaia River and a deep moat in addition to the Moskva River. This fortification also saw many attacks and sieges including the time during the “Time of Troubles” it was held by Polish troops against the resurgent national forces of Prince Pozharski.(3)

Novgorod, Principality of - {short description of image}

Novgorod was an ancient town, predating even the Varangian invasion on the 9th century. It was then the most important commerical and trade center on the route from Scandinavia to the Orient and only had to share its economic power with Kiev when the Varangians built Kiev and made it their center (1000 - 1200). The town established many colonies along the Russian rivers and lakes and displayed its importance with its official title of Novgorod the Great. In the middle 1100's Novgorod achieved independence from Kiev and continued its territorial expansion to the northeast as far as the White Sea and the Ural Mountains. The economy was based on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and extraction of the valuable products of its northern domains. These products were traded with the Hansiatic League towns along the Baltic. In addition Novgorod continued to be a major entrepot for east-west trade.(4)

Novgorod had a unique form of government as a republic. The city assembly (veche) was composed of all freemen of the rural as well as urban areas, but political power was in the hands of the aristocracy of merchants and landlords. The citizens elected the Prince of Novgorod whose principal function was commander of the army.

Novgorod faced a major military threat from the west and northwest when the Swedes began expansion through Finland and the German Livonian Order seized the Baltic coast (parts of modern Latvia and Lithuania). Novgorod escaped the direct assault of the Mongols in the 1240's but was forced to accept Mongol overlords and pay tribute in taxes and troops. The Swedes and Germans attempted to take advantage of this immediately, but were defeated by Prince Alexander at the Neva River and Lake Chud respectively. In the 14th century Novgorod struggled against both Tver and Moscow and used their rivalry as a means for preserving itself. With the increase in power of Lithuania Novgorod turned in that direction for assistance against its Russian neighbors. To the Muscovite grand princes this made Novgorod a threat to their goal of reuniting all the Rus lands. Novgorod's efforts reached a head in 1470 when the boyars invited Prince Mikhail Olel'kovich of Lithuania to be their prince and began negotiations toward closer union with King Casimir, but this was not a popular goal for many of the lower classes. Ivan III knew well how to exploit the internal contradictions within Novgorodian society. He promptly invaded Novgordian territories and defeated their militia at the Shelon River in 1471 and subsequently. By using a careful policy of internal subversion he annexed the area in 1478. It remained for Ivan IV to obliterate Novgorodian society and deport the population a hundred years later.

Riazan, Principality of

Riazan was located to the south east of Moscow, mostly south of the Oka River, and along the upper tributaries of the Don River. It therefore not only was situated to conduct trade to the north and east along the Oka and Volga and south along the Don, but also controled the critical land passage between these two river systems. It also occupied the southern border of the forest zone and northern edge of the steppe. For these reasons it was the key to Muscovite defenses against the Tatars and bore the brunt of most Tatar raids.

Riazan began to develop as a separate principality in the early 12th century out of the Murom-Riazan Land. During the middle of the century it fought against the Principality of Rostov-Suzdal, finally becoming dependent on the Principality of Vladimir in the 13th century. The Mongol invasion in 1238 and after hit Riazan especially hard. Its towns were devastated and its agriculture ruined. As Riazan began to recover in the 14th century, it made use of its central location to develop as a link between the Tatars, Lithuanians, and central/northern Russians. During this century it initially sought to take the lead among the Rus principalities, but it soon found the struggle with Moscow too unequal and sucumbed to Muscovite control. At the end of the 15th century independence efforts became strong again during the reign of Ivan III in Moscow, but to no avail. In 1520 the last prince, Ivan Ivanovich, was removed and the region was annexed to Moscow in 1521.(5)

Rostov, Principality of - {short description of image}

Rostov became an independent principality by breaking away from Valdimir-Suzdal in 1207. Rostov is one of the most ancient of the towns in north-central European Russia and its early history is discussed under its title as part of the Principality of Rostov-Suzdal-Vladimir. The town was located northeast of Moscow. It controled as well Yaroslavl, Uglich, Mologa, Beloozero, and Ustiug. This gave it a very large domain stretching from the capital in Rostov across the bend in the upper Volga River far into the north to the banks of the Northern Dvina River. This would have given Rostov a powerful position in later political struggles. However, the Grand Prince of Vladimir, who was ruler of Rostov in the early 1200's divided his lands in typical fashion among his heirs resulting in the subsequent independence of principalities at Yaroslavl, Uglich, and Beloozero. The town was ruined along with most others by the Mongol invasion of 1238 and a subsequent attempted rebellion in 1262. During the 14th and 15th centuries the area gradually entered the growing domain of Moscow. Ivan I bought Uglich from the princes of Rostov. Ivan III bought last remaining territories in 1474.(6)

Smolensk, Principality of - {short description of image} and {short description of image}

The principality was located between the principality of Chernigov and the territories of Novgorod. It was more or less independent from the middle of the 12th century until it was taken by the Lithuanians.(7) Smolensk was one of the most ancient towns in Rus owing its importance to its location near the headwaters of the Dnieper flowing south to the Black Sea, close also to the Western Dvina River flowing west to Vitebsk and Polotsk and on to the Baltic, the Volkhov and Lovat Rivers flowing north into the Baltic, and the Volga flowing east and south to the Caspian Sea. At its maximum the principality reached Lake Seliger in the north, the upper regions of the Pakhra River in the east, the Ugra and Sozh Rivers in the south, and the Dnieper River to Orsha in the west. It was one of the major towns to which the Varangians assigned a ruler in the 9th century. It is mentioned in the Primary Chronicle in 882.

In 1054 Yaroslav gave Smolensk to his son, Vyatchislav, who died soon after. The city was a scene of the conflict between Kievan rulers and those of Polotsk (Vseslav Briacheslavich). In 1097 Vladimir Monomakh gained control with general agrement of the Rurikovich family. From then it was held by various Vladimirovichi or their appointed posadniks. Vladimir's grandson, Prince Rostislav Mstislavich (1127 - 2259) declared Smolensk's independence from Kyivan Rus Under the Rostislavichi Smolensk increased in importance and power and its armies participated in the inter-princely conflicts (Monomashichi, Ol'govichi) They sent a major contingent to join the Kievan and other princes when the Mongols invaded in 1223 and suffered serious losses at the Battle on Kalka River. During this period Lithuania replaced Polotsk (which Smolensk held) and the principal threat from the north-west.

Smolensk escaped physical destruction during the Mongol invasion of 1240's but came under the general control of the Khan at Sarai by the end of the 13th century (1274). The principality was subject to the usual internal and external struggles between the numerous princely Rurikovichi. This weakened its unity and exposed it to the competing pressures from Moscow and Lithuania. During the first half of the 14th century many of Smolensk's subordinate princes and boyars switched allegiance to Moscow and in 1352 the Prince of Smolensk, Ivan Aleksandrovich, was also forced to accept Muscovite control by Simeon I Ivanovich. The princes of Smolensk sought to escape Muscovite ambitions by obtaining assistance from Lithuania only to find out that they had embraced another bear. In 1386 the reigning prince, Sviatoslav Ivanovich, died in battle near Mstislavl against the Lithuanians. Both the Lithuanian king of Poland, Iagailo, and the Grand Prince of Lithuania, Vitovt, had their hearts set on taking Smolensk. This Vitovt accomplished in 1395 and again in 1404. The capture of Smolensk remained a major Muscovite goal for Ivan III and Vasilii III, who recaptured it in 1514. It was held by Ivan IV and then extensively fortified by Boris Gudonov, at which point it was considered the most formidable fortress in eastern Europe.. It was the locale for numerous campaigns and battles, most notably the heroic defense by Russian troops against the Polish army of Sigismund III who besieged it for 19 months in 1609-1611, until it was the focal point of the “Smolensk War” in 1632-34.(8)

Suzdal, Principality of, - {short description of image}

Suzdal became independent of Vladimir in 1217 but was reunited to Vladimir from 1218 to 1238. In the 14th century Suzdal annexed Nizhegorod Gorodets to become the Principality of Suzdal-Nizhegorod.

This principality controlled the territory along the middle part of the Nerl-Kliaz'minskaia River and the Teza River, the middle and lower parts of the Kliazma and Oka River and the middle course of the Volga River to the lower course of the Sura River. Its main centers were Suzdal, Nizhnii Novgorod, Gorokhovets, Gorodets, and Kurmysh. It was established in 1328 when the Mongols divided the lands between Alexander Vasil'evich and Ivan I. The capital was moved from Suzdal to Nizhnii Novgorod in the middle of the 14th century. The rulers of Suzdal maintained a foreign policy of balancing support from the Mongols and Novgorod against Moscow. The princes several times managed to obtain the yarlik and title of Grand Prince of Vladimir.(9) Moscow annexed Nizhnii Novgorod in 1392 and then the rest of the Suzdal principality was fragmented by the typical policy in which the rulers divided their domains among their sons until there was little left to divide. All these land holdings were gradually acquired by Moscow during the 15th century.


The fortress town was built on order of Ivan IV in 1551 near mouth of the Sviiaga River in four weeks time. It was built from material floated down the Volga from Uglich. The fortress was the main base for Ivan IV's siege of Kazan.

Tver, Principality of - {short description of image}

Tver was the chief rival of Moscow for the leading role in the emerging Russian state in the 14th and 15th centuries. Tver had strong geographical advantages from its location near the headwaters of the Volga River. This placed it directly on the chief commerical route between Novgorod and the Baltic coast to the northwest and Suzdal and the Caspian Sea to the southeast. Tver also was situated on a network of local rivers that enhanced its communications with neighoboring cities such as Moscow, Uglich, Nizhni-Novgorod, Vladimir, and Yaroslavl. In addition to Tver there were a number of other important towns within the principality including Dorogobuzh, Klin, Kaliazin, Sashin, Staritsa, and Zubtsov. The region was relatively densely populated due to its safety within the northern forest region but location sufficiently far south to enable agriculture. With this economic base Tver was able to field as strong an army as Moscow, at least initially.(10)

Tver's chief problem was political. It was unable to shake off the Rus tradition in which each ruler (owner) divided his land holdings among all his sons. The result was that as fast as a strong ruler consolidated the territories his death would redivide them among his heirs. Its other political problem was that its rulers were unable (unwilling) to be sufficiently subservient to the Mongols to secure their yarlyk securely enough to provide continuity in power. In the 13th and 14th centuries and even in the 15th century the reality of Mongol power enabled the Russian ruler who curried their favor not only to gain prestige as the Grand Duke of Vladimir, but also to generate real military power over his rivals.

In the early 1300's Prince Mikhail Yaroslavich of Tver managed to obtain the title as Grand Duke of Vladimir and used it to continue promoting Tver's policy of expansion. His ambition was soon thwarted, when Yuri Danilovich of Moscow convinced the Mongol Khan Özbeg that Tver was too dangerous to Mongol rule. The Mongols made Yuri the grand prince and gave him the Khan's daughter (sister?) in marriage. Mikhail persisted and defeated Yuri in battle (see Bortenovo - 1317) at which the Khan summoned him to Sarai and executed him.(11) Then in 1327 Tver attempted a complete break with the Mongols and even executed Mongol officials as part of a popular uprising. Ivan I of Moscow was only too happy to accept the Mongol assignment to take 50,000 Mongol troops with his own to suppress Tver. Even this major setback did not deter Tver's leaders from further efforts to regain the yarlik and title as Grand Prince of Vladimir away from Moscow. In 1337 Prince Alexander Mikhailovich of Tver succeeded in obtaining the title by playing on Mongol beliefs that Moscow might now be the more powerful threat. Ivan I was not to be outdone. He insinuated that Tver was plotting independence and caused both Alexander and his son, Fedor, to be summoned to Sarai where they were executed. Ivan received the yaslik and title. His nickname - Kalitka - means “moneybags” and refers to his status as chief tax collector for the Mongols.

Yet Tver tried again in the 1370's when Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich challenged Moscow and again managed to obtain the yarlik and title only to be defeated in battle by Moscow's Dmitri Ivanovich (Donskoi). Most depressing for Tverians must have been the shock they received when, despite their refusal to participate in the Muscovite campaign against the Mongols at Kulikovo in 1380, the initially defeated Mongols turned right around and gave the title back to Moscow!

During the civil war between Vasilii II and Dmitrii Shemiaka, Prince Boris Alexandrovich of Tver allied himself with Dmitrii in hopes that the latter's victory would deminish Moscow and enhance Tver. Vasilii's victory ruined that plan and his son, Ivan III, did not forget who his enemies were. Prince Mikhail Borisovich attempted to preserve Tverian independence by alliance with King Casimir IV of Poland. The result was that Ivan III first forced Mikhail to become a vassal and then dispatched an army to Tver that annexed the principality outright.


This was a small principality located southwest of Moscow. It was first considered a separate political entity when it was granted by Dmitrii Donskoi to his son, Andrei, between 1389 and 1432. It passed to Andrei's son, Mikhail who held it until his death, when he willed it to Ivan III and it became part of the Grand Principality of Moscow.(12)

Viatka Land

Viatka land was the territory in the far northeast part of European Russia between the Northern Dvina River and the Ural Mountains. It was largely inhabited by Finno-Ugric tribes and others until they were joined by Russian colonists from Novgorod and other towns. The economy was based on fishing, hunting, agriculture, and bee-keeping. The only significant town was Khlynov (renamed Viatka in the 18th century) on the Viatka River. Toward the end of the 14th century the area came under control of Suzdal. In 1402 Vasilii I of Moscow obtained control and gave it as an appanage to his brother, Yurii of Galich. Thus it became a power base for the princes of Galich during their civil war with Vasilii II for control of Muscovy. In 1459 Vasilii II gained control, but the area remained a source of trouble and created difficulties for Muscovite campaigns against Kazan. Grand Prince Ivan III suppressed an uprising there in 1485 and then sent an army to complete the process of annexation in 1489.(13)

Vladimir-Suzdal, Principality of - {short description of image}

The “golden age” of Vladimir-Suzdal (also known as Rostov- Suzdal-Vladimir) was the 10th to 13th centuries. There was nothing left but the name by the time Moscow began its climb to fame, but the name was of such importance that it is well to provide a a brief summary of the history here. The principality was located between the Oka and Volga Rivers and extended as far north as Beloozero and Ustiug. Slavic settlers entered the region in the 10th century and soon made it the center of the Great Russian nation. The area is indeed the center, lying as it does accross the river route from the Baltic Sea to the Caspian Sea via the Oka and Volga Rivers and adjacent to the route from the Baltic to the Black Sea via the Dnieper River. By the end of the 11th century there were already many important towns there including Rostov, Belozersk, Yaroslavl, Murom and Suzdal. Rostov was the initial leader. Vladimir town was not founded as a fortress until 1108. In the 11th century the area came under the overlordship of Kiev. Kievan princes were established in most of the Vladimir-Suzdal towns. By the middle 12th century the Prince of Suzdal, Yurii Dolgorukii (long arm) reversed the relationship by making the region his center and building many towns and forts, including his kremlin at Moscow in 1147. From this base he conquered Kiev and took the Kievan throne, but he and his son continued to rule from Vladimir.

The 200 years of incessant warfare formed the medieval Russian military as it was to remain until the reforms initiated by Ivan III. The many princes each had their personal warband of professional cavalry and the peasants were progressively forced into dependancy to provide economic support. The princes also had to contend with the aristocracy of boyars who also maintained personal bands of fighting men. The princes of Vladimir-Suzdal constantly fought each other and to increase their control over Kiev and Novgorod. Meanwhile they campaigned against the Bulgars on the Volga and the Polovetsi on the southern steppes. Ryazan was defeated in 1177 (battle of Prusovaia gora) but Novgorod regained its independence in 1207. After Vsevolod's death in 1212 civil war resumed in ernest to such an extent that the Russian princes were in no condition to oppose the Mongols in 1238. (Not that total unity would have done them any good anyway.)(14)

Other Russian towns

Serpukhov - {short description of image}

This fortress city was an important defense post on the Oka River line. The town became the center of a principality in 1341 when Ivan created an appanage for his son, Andrei. It was then ruled by Vladimir Andreevich Khrabri from 1358 to 1410. Vladimir Andreevich brought his considerable armed forces to the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. As a key frontier fortress (with walls built by Vladimir) it was the target of numerous Tatar attacks. Major attacks came in 1382 by Khan Tokhtamysh, in 1408 aby edigei and in 1410 by the Lithuanians led by Svidrigailo. Typically, Vladimir Andreevich divided the appanage amongst his five sons with the town itself bequethed to Ivan. In 1456 Vasilii II annexed the town and principality back into Muscovy.

Severia, Sversk, Principality of

The town and region was an early part of Kievan Rus in Desna River region and included major towns such as Chernigiv, Peryaslavl, and Novgorod Severskii. It was on the steppe- forest frontier, thus faced frequent attacks by the successive steppe nomad tribes - Pecheneg, Povolotski (Cumans). The region gained some short-lived independence while Mistislav ruled from Chernigiv. But it was then a center of the family disputes between the Ol'govichi and the Monomachshi and Davidovichi and other family clans. By the time of the Mongol conquest in 1240's the territories had been sub-divided into many appanages. These weak princedoms paid tribute to the Tatars and Lithuanians. It was then absorbed into Lithuanian domains in which it remained until the beginning of the era of this book. In the 1450's Ivan Dmitrievich Shemiaka and Ivan Mozhaiskii escaped from their loosing civil war against Vasilii II and took up residence under the Lithuanians. In 1500 their heirs agreed to transfer into the service of Ivan III, but as semi-independent appanage princes. In 1518 Vasilii III eliminated this independence But the region continued to be the scene of raids and incursions by both the Lithuanians and Crimean Tatars. During Ivan's war with Lithuania in the 1570's the region was severely damaged. It was a relatively wild frontier region. Boris Gudunov's efforts to establish more control backfired. Thus in 1604 the region was ripe to be the main avenue of approach the False Demitri used in his campaign toward Moscow. In the 17th century the area was still a scene of conflict, between Muscovy, Poland and the Cossacks.

Starodub - {short description of image}

A principality located along the middle course of the Kliazma River. It was a established as a separate appanage in 1218. The princes went into service of the Grand Prince of Vladimir at Moscow early and remained loyal. The principality eventually disintegrated into numerous noble family land holdings which were absorbed by Moscow.

Lithuania, Grand Principality of

At the time of the Norman occupation of Russian towns and establishment of the trade route through Novgorod and Kiev the impact of advancing civilization by passed the central Baltic coast. Then in the 13th century the initial Mongol conquest also did not reach this region along the Nieman and Western Dvina Rivers. In this area the Lithuanian tribes remained pagan. The population was engaged mostly in agriculture, raising livestock, amber production, metal working, and other trades. The separate tribes began to be replaced by a sense of belonging to a larger Lithuania in the 12th century. In the later 13th century they suddenly united and formed a strong state. Lithuanian expansion developed when its neighbor to the northeast and northwest, the Orders of Teutonic Knights in Livonia and in Prussia had begun its own aggressive policy (1200 - 1225). The Lithuanians apparently were better fighters than their cousins the Prussians and Latvians, who lost their independence.(15) See Lithuania army)

Since the Novgorod - Kiev axis was practically broken this new Lithuanian grand duchy was able to expand rapidly into the void to the south, southeast, and southwest and absorb the various western Russian principalities. The first to be absorbed was Polotsk in 1307. It was soon followed by Smolensk, Chernigov, Kiev, and Volynia. By the beginning of the 15th century the grand duchy included a large territory in the basins of the upper and middle Western Dvina, Nieman, southern Bug, Dnieper, and upper Oka Rivers.(16) At this time it was a union of semi-independent principalities that were under the control of local princes descended from Rurik or Gedymin. Much of the population was Russian and the conflict between Orthodox and Catholic religions greatly weakened internal unity. Later the princes were replaced by a growing powerful aristocracy of landowners who were increasingly successful in blocking the king's policies. The first powerful ruler was Gedymin (1316- 1341). He was followed by Olgerd from 1345 to 1377 and Keistut from 1345 to 1382. Olgerd's son, Iagailo, and Keistut's son, Vitovt, fought for control. Iagailo became King of Poland as well, further complicating conditions in Lithuania. Finally the two cousins realized their conflict was only helping the Teutonic Knights to take the northern part of Lithuania. They signed several agreements that began the cooperation of Poland and Lithuania in time to organize a united army that defeated the Germans at Tannenburg in 1410. (See discussion of the reign of Vitovt). When Olgerd and Vitovt died several relatives sought the thrones until Casimir, son of Iagailo, gained the Lithuanian throne in 1440 and the Polish one in 1444. He used his personal union of Lithuania and Poland to strengthen both. He supported Vasilii II of Moscow in the civil war there and obtained recognition of his influence in Tver. He succeeded in greatly reducing the Teutonic Knight's power.

By the year of Casimir's death in 1492 Ivan III had already rebuilt Moscow's strength and was executing the first phase of his plan to regain as much of Lithuania as possible. Ivan succeeded in enticing some of the Russian princes in Lithuania to switch sides. The next grand duke of Lithuania and king of Poland, Alexander, had to defend against Ivan's full scale war. Between 1500 and 1503 the Russians occupied areas in Chernigov and Seversk, but failed to take Smolensk. The war was renewed for two years in 1506 and again from 1512 to 1522. The Lithuanians lost Smolensk despite wining several battles including Orsha. During these years the Lithuanians sought to hamper Muscovite operations by obtaining assistance from the Tatars of the Golden and then Great Horde, but to little avail. Moscow instead was quite successful in obtaining significant support from the Crimean Tatars, who were only too happy to conduct their plundering raids in Lithuanian territories.

War began again in 1558, during the reign of Sigismund Augustus (1548-1572), when Ivan IV launched his offensive against Livonia. The Crimeans supported Moscow initially, but then saw that the Russian lands were also a lucrative target and began their devastating raids against Moscow. The strain of the war was one factor in bringing about the even closer union of Lithuania with Poland signed in the treaty of Lublin in 1569. While the union brought greatly increased Polish military power to bear against Moscow, it also resulted in Poland annexing the southern part of Lithuania around Kiev and Podolia. The dynasty established by Iagailo died out making the kingship truly elective. When the Hungarian military leader, Stephan Bathory, became king he brought even more effective infantry and artillery to fight the Russians. He took Polotsk in 1579 but failed to capture Pskov in 1580-81. The war ended with Lithuania in firm control of Livonia and western areas of Russia.

During the 17th century Lithuania had to continue to fight to keep Livonia, but against Sweden rather than Moscow, in 1600- 11, 1617-22, and 1655-60. Lithuania and Moscow struggled over Smolensk and the territory between the Dnieper and Oka Rivers. At the same time Polish resources were frequently diverted against the Tatars and Turks to the south.(17)


The perennial struggle between Polish and Russian peoples was already in full swing in the time of Kievan Russia in the 10th and 11th centuries. Leaders in both areas sought to solidify their control over the remaining independent tribes and clans throughout the region of modern Poland and Ukraine. In the period 1034-1136 the rulers frequently intermarried and often supported each other against other enemies. The Mongol invasion destroyed much of southeastern Poland as well as Kievan Russia leaving the territories even more fragmented and disunited than previously. When the Polish kingdom began to develop in the early 14th century it had to contend with the power of neighboring Lithuania as well as the economic drain from the Tatar plundering raids. Poland began its period of expansion at about the same time as Moscow and Lithuania with the reign of Casimir the Great in 1333-70. The personal union of the Polish elected king and Lithuanian grand duke increased Polish activities to the east. In the south Poland exerted efforts to expand into Volynia and Galich and these too were enhanced by the union with Lithuania. During the 15th century Poland expanded further into Volynia and Podolia. While Lithuania was preoccupied with its struggle against Moscow, Poland focused its attention against the Turks in Moldavia and Hungary.

After 1569 Poland was heavily involved in Lithuania's defense against Moscow and in defense of the Ukraine against both Moscow and the Crimeans. The Union of Lublin in 1569 brought Poland into practical contact with Moscow along the Lithuanian border, while the annexation of the Ukraine brought the two states into actual contact along a poorly defined stretch of steppe lands. Polish influence in Moscow reached a high point first with the capture of Moscow in 1604 by the pretender, False Dmitrii and then the occupation of Moscow directly by Polish troops bringing Wladislaw, son of King Sigismund III, to the Russian throne.(18)
We have added here a link to the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition article on Poland. - {short description of image}- This describes the full history from earliest known period to the mid 19th century. But the section on the 14th to 17th centuries will provide much additional information on the difficulties facing the Lithuanian- Polish rulers included here.


Relations between Sweden and Scandinavia in general and Kievan Russia were close in that the ruling dynasty and many of the principal retainers were Scandinavian. Kievan Rus served as a major route between Scandinavia and Byzantium. during the middle ages Novgorod superseded Kiev and a major trade center. Its relationship with Sweden included trade in which both participated as part of the international trading organization dominated by the German Hanseatic League. Novgorod also met Sweden in conflict over their penetration of the northern regions between them including Finland. In the 12th century Novgorod and Sweden fought at sea in the Baltic as well. in the 13th century the struggle increased with the crusading spirit also increased by the German knights along the Baltic shores. The Novgorod army led by Alexander of Suzdal Prince of Vladimir (Nevski) defeated a major Swedish expedition led by Larl Birger by the Neva River in 1240. Near the end of the century the Swedes built a fortress at Vyborg to block Novgorodian trade and expansion. Novgorod was strong enough to resist Swedish conquest but not strong enough to expel the Swedes from their coastal holdings. Conditions remained static until Moscow under Ivan III conquered Novgorod in 1471 and brought greatly increased Russian power to bear in their effort to acquire the Baltic coast areas.

Sweden was also faced with a rival to the west in Denmark. This enabled Ivan III to attempt to use Swedish conflict with Denmark to enhance his own effort to take Karelia in Finland and capture Vyborg.(19)

Ivan began campaign in 1495 against Vyborg but Swedish leader Sten Sture conducted his campaign in 1496 and another expedition under Svente Nilsson destroyed Russian fortress at Ivangorod built opposite Narva in 1492.(20)

Cossack hosts

Rather than insert information here we use this{short description of image} to reach the article on Cossacks written by Steve Stinmetz - There is additional information about the Cossacks in the Encylopedia Britannica entry on Poland cited above.

Mongol-Tatar States

Khanate of Kipchak (Golden Horde) {short description of image}This is list of the Khans.

The heyday of the Golden Horde belongs to the two centuries before the period of this book, yet, since the Tatar khanates and Moscow as well all owe their ascendancy to the decline and destruction of the Golden Horde, it is necessary to mention it briefly as background to the political and military activities of the 15th century.

The Golden Horde was one of the original four parts into which Chingis Khan divided his empire administratively during his lifetime into ulus & yurts under his four sons.(21) On the conqueror's death in 1227 it became the fiefdom of his grandson, Batu, (son of Jöchi who died in 1227) and then Batu's brother, Berke (1257-66). The Horde domain eventually extended from an undefined border region along the Carpathian mountains and Dniester River on the west to the Irtysh and northern Khorezm in Central Asia on the east and from the central Russian forests in the north to the pass between the Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea at Derbent.(22) It included the Volga Bulgar kingdom, Crimea, Kipchak steppes, and Kuban - Terek region. Since the Mongol rulers were concerned most with controlling their fellow nomads and not with the city dwellers, but simultaneously because integrated with them, the multitude of Turkish nomads soon absorbed the few Mongols and the whole community took the name of the original group (Kipchak=Cuman=Polovetsi).

While the ruling Tatar/Mongol tribes preserved their nomadic life, the rulers appreciated the importance and value of commercial life centered in cities and encouraged their growth within the empire. The empire thus contained a multitude of different peoples and thrived on its central location controlling East-West trade. The Horde also attempted to maintain its suzerainty over as wide a belt of neighboring settled nations as possible. Most of the Russian towns and parts of Lithuania fell into and remained in this category. Batu established his capital at Sarai Batu on the lower Volga River, near modern Astrakhan, and later Khan Uzbek moved it north to Sarai Berke, closer to modern Volgagrad. From this center their armies ranged far and wide both against their non-Mongol neighbors to the north and west and against their cousins to the east and south. During its years of ascendancy the Golden Horde allied itself with the Mamelukes of Egypt and the Byzantine Empire to curtain the power of the Mongol Il-Khans of Persia-Asia Minor. In fact the effort to gain control of the Trans-Caucasus - Azerbaijan region away from fellow Mongols became something of an obsession with the rulers of the Golden Horde and led to their downfall, when they might more easily have used their military resources to expand their empire into the Balkans and even Hungarian plain.(23) In comparison to the way their cousins took over and ruled the settled regions of China, Persia, and Central Asia directly, the Golden Horde treated the settled areas of northwest Russia leniently.(24)

The Horde itself was essentially a military state of nomadic horse archers and could muster relatively huge armies of several hundred thousand expertly skilled and physically tough warriors. These were organized carefully in units and formations based on 10's, 100's, 1,000's, and 10,000's. The cavalry carried bow and arrows, swords, lances, and lassos. Armor was light - chain mail, small round shields, conical helmets, and padded coats. The army also possessed formidable siege weaponry employed by impressed experts from sedentary peoples such as the Chinese and Greeks. The Tatar-Mongol tactics stressed rapid operational scale movement over wide areas, sudden concentration of overwhelming superiority on the battlefield, wide encirclements, and - most favored of all - the feigned retreat and subsequent ambush. These elements remained characteristic of the successor Tatar khanates.

Berke's successor was Mangu Timur (1266-1280). He sided with the Ogödäi branch of the family against Kublai Khan thereby increasing the independence of the Golden Horde.

Although the official legitimacy to rule of only direct decedents of Chingis Khan was never questioned,(25) by 1300 the power and authority of the Horde khans Tuda Mangu (1280-87) and Tula-Buqa (1287-1290) was effectively curtailed by a Tatar general from a junior Jöchid branch, Nogai, whose personal activities began the internal dissention that ultimately led to weakness and collapse.(26) The victor in this struggle was Toqtai, a son of Mangu Timur. His successor, nephew Özbeg (Uzbek) (1312-1340), brought Horde power and prestige to a new high point. It was during his reign that Tver attempted to revolt and killed Mongol officials. Özbeg sent 50,000 men with instructions to Ivan I of Moscow to use them to rectify the situation. Özbeg was succeeded by his son, Janibeg (1340-57) the last really powerful khan, and grandson, Berdibeg (1357-59). During these three reigns the Islamization of the western Tatars accelerated.(27) During Janibeg's reign the Horde suffered severely from the same plague that swept Western Europe.(28) By the 1370's the Muscovite Grand Duke, Dmitri Ivanovich had stopped sending tribute to Sarai. He successfully fought Horde incursions in 1373 and 1378. Another Tatar general, Mamai, gained effective control of the Horde from 1361 to 1380.(29) He sought to revive Horde power, especially over its western neighbors. It was he who Dmitri Ivanovich (Donskoi) defeated so soundly at Kulikovo on the banks of the Don River in 1380. In considedring that battle one should note that Mamai was himself engaged in conflict with other, more legitimate claimants to the throne at Sarai and only controled part of the forces of the Golden Horde.

Just as the external power of the Golden Horde against its western neighbors was being dissipated by internal conflict, it received a new infusion from the east. In the original distribution the territories and tribes of the steppes east of the Golden Horde were given to Orda, elder brother of Batu and Berke and became known as the White Horde. After a lengthy civil war another Juichid prince, Toqtamish, succeeded with the help of Tamerlane (who was NOT a Juichid) in making himself khan of the White Horde in 1377-8.(30)

Toqtamish promptly used his new control of the White Horde in 1378 to vault into the saddle in control of the Golden Horde as well. He struck in 1380 right after Mamai lost at Kulikovo and destroyed his army in battle on the Kalka River near where Sübötäi had destroyed the Russians in 1223. Thus Toqtamish reunited the entire steppe from the Dniester to the Sur Darya and presented a terrible threat to the nascent Russian and Lithuanian principalities. The Russians were still self-impressed with their recent glorious victory at Kulikovo when Toqtamish's envoys came to demand the usual tribute. They refused. In 1382 the newly strengthened Horde armies destroyed Suzdal, Vladimir, Yuriev, Mozhaisk, and the burned Moscow. They went on to annihilate a Lithuanian army near Poltava. All was again in ruin for the Russians and it might have remained that way but for Toqtamish's further pretensions. As the last remaining powerful Chingizide ruler, he considered himself called upon to restore the entire empire. That meant taking on his former benefactor, Tamerlane.(31) The ensuing war from 1387 to 1398 resulted in the utter destruction of both Sarais and the dismemberment of the Horde. In this war the Russian states were required to contribute their contingents to Toqtamish's army. In his second destructive attack in 1395 Tamerlane destroyed the Horde army on the bank of the Terek River and proceeded on into Russia as far as Yelets on the upper Don River. But instead of continuing on to Moscow he turned around and sacked Azov instead, and the whole Kuban region as far as the Caucasus mountains. Toqtamish tried a comeback from Lithuania with the assistance of Grand Duke Vitovt, but the Lithuanian army lost to Timur Qutlugh, Tamerlane's appointed successor at the Horde, on the Vorskla River on August 13, 1399.(32)

Tamerlane not only killed many Horde warriors and their families and carried off many more into Central Asia. By destroying Sarai and Azov he effectively cut the lucrative trade routes and wrecked the commercial and productive artisan basis of Horde wealth. He redirected the caravans away from the Horde lands to south of the Caspian.

Timur Qutlugh was also a Chingiside of the Orda family. His brother, Shadi-beg (1400-1407), succeeded and continued Horde campaigns against central Russia. These continued under Khan Pulad (1407-1412. In 1408 the Tatar army commanded by Idiqu (Eidiger) burned Nizhni Novgorod and Gorodets and besieged Moscow before he was finally killed by Timur. The last important figure for the Horde was Khan Kuchuk Muhammad (1423-1459) a contemporary of Vasilii II of Moscow. During his reign the separatist khanates were established at Kazan, Crimea, and Astrakhan. (see below) Finally, during his son, Akhmet's, (1460-1480) reign the Muscovite grand duke was able to regain the independence his ancestor, Dmitrii Donskoi temporarily achieved 100 years previously. On his way home from the Ugra Akhmet was killed by the leader of the Shaybanid horde from east of the Urals.

His sons, Murtaza and Seyyid Ahmed, continued mainly in alliance with Lithuania against Moscow until the Golden Horde was broken conclusively by the Crimean Tatars of Mengli Gerei in 1502. (33) During these last years the Horde re-located far to the west of its usual home, in western Ukraine and Lithuania. In 1485 Murtaza invaded Crimea and temporarily drove Mengli Gerei out again until Turkish troops reinstated Mengli Gerei again. Then in 1487 at the insistence of the Sultan, Murtaza and Seyyid Ahmed suddenly turned on their Lithuanian allies and invaded Podolia in support of Ottoman campaigns. In September Prince Jan Olbracht temporarily held them in check at Kopystrin. They continued to ravage Podolia and Volhynia until Jan Olbracht decisively defeated them again at Zaslavl' in 1491.

Khanate of Crimea

The Khanate of Crimea was founded in 1430 by Hajji Gerei, a descendant of Tugha Timur, one of Batu's brothers. The earliest coins from his reign are dated in 1441-42 and he ruled until 1466. The khanate was bounded on the east by the lower Don River and on the west by the lower Dnieper River and extended northward into a "no man's land" roughly to the latitude of Tambov and Yelets.

Hajji Gerei established his capital at Bakhchisarai in 1454. His dynasty remained in power until Catherine the Great annexed the Crimea in 1783. On Hajji Gerei's death his sons struggled over the succession. The second son, Nur Devlet, was the first successor (from 1466-69 and 1475-77), but finally it was the sixth son, Mengli Gerei, who won out (1469-75 and 1478-1515). Mengli Gerei was paying a visit to his close allies the Genoese colony at Caffa in 1475 when the Ottoman sultan, Mehmed II, decided to send a naval squadron to seize the city. Mengli stood by his allies and was trapped in the city until taken to Constantinople as a Turkish prisoner. In 1475 the sultan suddenly restored him to his throne, but as his vassal. From then on the Turks ruled the southern coast of Crimea directly with a resident pasha, but the Tatars retained considerable independence within general Turkish control. They continued to mint coins and pursued a foreign policy sometimes at odds with their Turkish masters. The Tatars remained essentially nomads in the steppes and left the largely Genoese, Greek and, later Turkish population in the coastal towns to do the chores of merchants and artisans. The Tatar economy survived largely on raids in Russia and Poland to supply slaves for the Near Eastern markets. Mengli Gerei's successor was his son, Muhammad Gerei (1515 - 1523).

Under Hajji Gerei and Mengli Gerei Crimean policy was to support Moscow against their common foes Lithuania and the Golden Horde, but after Mengli Gerei removed the Horde as a serious danger in 1503 and with Moscow's increase in power over its neighbors and Lithuania the Crimean policy shifted. Muhammed succeeded in a raid to Moscow in 1521, but his repeat effort in 1523 ended on the Oka River due to Russian artillery. On his way home he was assassinated by the Nogai khan, Mamai. This brought his brother, Sahib Gerei, back from Kazan (see below).

In 1552 Ivan IV took Kazan and in 1556 he took Astrakhan. This was the time during which Devlet Gerei was gaining power in Crimea. The Ottoman Sultans began to consider Moscow as a significant opponent then and decided to try to recover Astrakhan. They wanted to build a canal between Don and Volga Rivers, which Devlet Gerei did not approve because he valued his independence. He did not favor further Muscovite expansion either. Therefor he took the payments of the Polish-Lithuanian king and mounted a series of 12 major raids on Muscovite territories, including the capital itself. In 1571 he burned Moscow. But the nomadic Tatars lacked desire to try to rule from Moscow, so they departed back to Crimea with their fresh slaves. When he returned in 1572 with his army Devlet Gerei was severely defeated at the battle of Molodoi.

Under the rule of Khan Islam Gerei II (1584-88) the Turkish ascendancy became more pronounced.

The last really independent khan was Daulet Gerei III who was replaced by the Russians in 1777 with more willing his cousin Shahin Gerei. When the Tatar nobles revolted against Shahin, the Russians arrived in full force and simply annexed the country. Shahin was exiled to Turkey where he was already out of favor for his previous support of Russia. The Turks sent him to Rhodes where they beheaded him. At least he had the distinction of being the last ruling descendant of Chingis Khan in Europe.(34)

Khanate of Kazan - {short description of image}This is a list of the rulers

The Khanate of Kazan was established by Ulug Mahmed, another descendant of Tugha Timur, Batu's brother, who settled there in 1445 with his son Mahmudek. This khanate lasted until its final conquest by Ivan IV in 1552. The territory coincided approximately with the boundaries of the former Bulgar kingdom on the middle Volga and Kama Rivers.(35) The main population was Turkic speaking Cheremis and Bashkir tribes and Finno-Ugric speaking Mordvins and Chuvash. This Tatar Khanate was primarily agricultural with a large city population of skilled artisans in Kazan itself. Kazan owed its power to its control of north-south trade on the Volga and east-west trade across the Urals. The Tatars essentially introduced themselves as overlords, but had to share political power with a council of the local magnates. The Kazan army was composed of the cavalry warrior band directly under the khan's control, the retinues of the other lords, and militia units from the general population. Its strength was usually from 20-30,000 men with 60,000 being a maximum.(36)

Ulu Mohammed was assassinated by his son, Mahmudek, in 1446. Mahmudek solidified the khanate during his reign from 1446 to 1464. His successor was his son, Ibrahim, who attempted to expand the domain by taking Viatka in 1468. The Muscovites soon forced him out of that area. His two sons, Ilham and Muhammad Amin, followed family tradition by fighting over the succession. When Ilham won, Muhammad Amin sought Muscovite assistance. They sent an army to put him on the throne in 1487. Not being grateful, Muhammad Amin rebelled against Moscow in 1505 and managed to defeat a Russian army in 1506. He died in 1518 without heir. This put the throne into contention between factions supported by Crimea and Muscovy. Vasilii III gave the throne to Shah Ali, a junior prince from Astrakhan he had in residence at Kasimov. However, Muhammad Gerei managed to place his brother, Sahib Gerei, on the throne in 1521. With the two hordes united they promptly launched a campaign that reached the walls of Moscow the same year. Sahib Gerei returned to rule the Crimea in 1523 leaving Kazan to his son, Safa Gerei. Vasilii III drove him out in 1530 and set Jan Ali, Shah Ali's brother, on the throne. He did not last long. In 1535 Sahib Gerei returned from Crimea and reinstated his son, Safa Gerei, again. In 1546 Ivan IV drove Safa Gerei out momentarily and replaced him with Shah Ali once more, but no sooner were the Muscovites gone than Safa Gerei regained the throne. This time he lasted until his untimely death in an accident in 1549.(37) This enabled Ivan IV to remove his son, Otemish, and bring Shah Ali back again.

One would think that if Ivan IV had not learned by then at least Shah Ali would have. Because the local Tatars threw him out again and called in Yadiyar, a Nogai tsarevich from Astrakhan. At that Ivan IV simply ended Kazan's independence once and for all (1552). (See chapter on Ivan IV for details)

Khanate of Astrakhan

The Khanate of Astrakhan was founded in 1466 by Kasim, grandson of Kuchuk Muhammad, khan of the Golden Horde. The khanate controlled the mouth of the Volga and the river valley north to the Kazan khanate. The territory was mostly on the west of the Volga River to the Don River and south to the Terek and Kuban Rivers. The khanate had little chance for success even before Ivan IV conquered it in 1556 because it was caught between the powerful Crimean Tatars to the West and the Nogai Tatars to the East (centered on the Ural River).

Nogai Horde

The Nogai Horde was another of the successor states of the Golden Horde. It was the true remnant in which the essential nomadic characteristics of the original horde were preserved best. (The Crimea Khanate retained more of the Mongol bureaucratic administrative practices.) The Nogai Horde claimed control of the steppe from the area between the Don, Terek, and Volga Rivers (which it disputed with the Crimeans) past the Ural River to north of the Caspian Sea, where it disputed lands with the successors of the White Horde.

The Nogai Horde was founded as a separate group around 1391 by Idiqu (Idiqu), the same Tatar general mentioned above who besieged Moscow in 1408. Idiqu was also a Mangkyt Mongol and the Nogai's generally referred to themselves as Mangkyt ulus. The Nogai's gained further strength under Idiqu's son, Nuraddin (r. 1426-1440).

This group retained its pristine nomadic character while the Tatars at Kazan and Crimea succumbed more to the sedentary life of the cities they controlled. The Nogai economy remained based on herding horses, sheep, camels, and cattle until the Russian Revolution brought collectivization. They lacked houses and towns but lived in typical Mongol yurts. For a short time they had a capital at Saraichik, but it was destroyed by Tamerlane in 1395 and then by the Cossacks in 1580. Each year they brought as many as 50,000 horses to Moscow for sale in exchange for weapons and other manufactured products.

The route from the Volga to Moscow, called the "Nogai Road", was not only a trade route, but also a major route for raiding parties. The trail stretched from the lower Volga River in two axes, one along the right bank of the Don River past the site of modern Voronezh to Riazan and Kolomna, and the other from Tsaritsyn along the Don to the region between the Khoper and Sura Rivers, thence across the Tsna, Pol'nyi, and Lesnyi Voronezh Rivers to Riazhsk, and Riazan.(38)

The ruler of the Nogais was from the dynasty of Nuraddin. In addition there were two principal military leaders corresponding to the eastern and western parts of the Nogai territories. These were the nuraddin and the kekovat. Below these leaders there were several murzas.

The Nogais derived some of their importance and power from their key location that blocked the passage between the Caspian Sea and Aral Sea on the south and the Ural mountains on the north. From this position they could participate in the trade between East and West and extract their fee. Their initial rise to prominence came with the decline and destruction of the Golden Horde. Their period of ascendancy also began to end with the Muscovite conquest of Kazan in 1552 and of Astrakhan in 1556. The Muscovite control of the Volga split the Nogai east and west of the river and soon ended their independence. They became divided into a pro-Muscovite majority party and an anti-Muscovite minority. In 1552 Murza Ismail, a leader of the majority party, petitioned Tsar Ivan IV to assume control over the Horde and in 1555 Ismail recognized Ivan as his suzerain. This dependency was renewed in 1564 and 1587. In 1600 Tsar Boris Godunov brought the Great Nogai Horde formally under complete Russian control, while keeping the local leader, Murza Ishterev, as head of the Horde.

When Murza Ismail recognized Muscovite supremacy the Lesser Nogai Horde broke off and migrated west to an area between the Kuban River and the Northern Caucasus Mountains, near where they continue to live to this day. This Horde became a vassal of the Khan of the Crimea and made itself available to participate in Crimean Tatar expeditions.

Actually despite their recognition of Muscovite supremacy the Great Nogais also conducted their share of plundering raids against Moscow and other Russian towns. The Great Nogais were not controlled by Moscow, but were overcome eventually by a still more powerful nomadic group, the Kalmyks, who arrived from the east in the 1630's. The Kalmyks took over all the Nogai lands east and west of the Volga and then recognized Russian supremacy. The Kalmyks proved to be valuable allies and effective warriors for Peter the Great and other Tsars. Meanwhile the remanents of the Great Nogais either were assimilated into the Kalmyk clans or retreated westward to rejoin and merge into the Lesser Nogais.(39)

Ottoman Empire

Unfinished - a study of the Ottomans will require fluency in Turkish and access to their archives.

List of other towns, rivers, and geographic names




These are a selected few from the more complete listing of princes and their families found at {short description of image}

Dmitrii Mikhailovich of Tver (Groznii Ochi) {short description of image}(1299-1326)

He was the son of Grand Prince Mikhail Yaroslavich. He obtained support from Lithuania in his struggle to gain the title of Grand Prince of Vladimir. He denounced Yuri Danilovich of Moscow to the Tatar Khan Özbeg in 1322 in order to obtain the yarlik. When Yuri Danilovich complained, Özbeg ordered Dmitrii Mikhailovich to appear. In 1325 Dmitrii murdered Yuri at Sarai, whereupon Özbeg executed Dmitrii.(40)

Aleksander Mikhailovich of Tver (1301-1339) - {short description of image}

He was the second son of Prince Mikhail Yaroslavich and became both Grand Prince of Tver and Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1326 on the execution of his elder brother. In 1327 he was blamed for the rebellion that broke out in Tver in which the Tatar officials and merchants were killed. Ivan I promptly used this excuse to side with the massive Tatar army of retribution. Aleksander fled to Pskov with Ivan chasing after him and, when the Orthodox Metropolitan laid an interdict on the city, he then fled to Lithuania. He returned to Pskov in 1331 with Lithuanian support. In 1337 we went to Sarai where enough was forgiven him for him to receive his title as Grand Prince back. By 1339 Ivan I managed to incite the Khan again and Aleksander was executed at Sarai along with his son, Fedor.

Afanasii Ivanovich {short description of image}

He was a son of Ivan Romanovich Neblagoslovennii Svistun, prince of Yaroslavl. He became appanage prince of Shekhon, a late created udel. . The Shekonski udel was divided out of the Yaroslavl principality in the 15th century and received its name from a small fortress on the bank of the Sheksn river near its confluence with the Volga. The first udel prince was Afanasii.

Aleksandr Ivanovich Brukhatii - ca 1418{short description of image}

He was the only son of Ivan Borisovich Tug Luk, appanage prince of Niznigorod. He also was prince of Nizhnigorod..

Aleksandr Ivanovich - 1378 - 1425 {short description of image}

He was a son of Ivan Mikhailovich, grand prince of Tver and his first wife, Maria Keistutovna, princess of Lithuania. He was appanage prince of Starits from 1402 and then grand prince of Tver in 1425.

Ivan I Danilovich "Money bags" (? -d. 1344) - {short description of image}

He was the fifth son of Daniil, Prince of Moscow, and grandson of Alexander Nevskii, Grand Prince of Vladimir. He succeeded his brother, Yurii III as Prince of Moscow in 1325, when Yuri was murdered by Dmitrii Mikhailovich, and became Grand Prince of Vladimir in 1328. Ivan had eight children with his first wife, Elena, and at least one with his second, Ul'iana. He served his brother well and kept Moscow from the internal civil war that so often weakened the Russian principalities. He then ascended the throne without having to contend with uncles or nephews.

Ivan labored under the twin burdens of Tatar massive military superiority and expanding military power from a newly united Lithuania. Closer to home he faced the continued pretentions of Tver for leadership of the Russian principalities and the opposition of princes and boyars within the Principality of Moscow. He was exceptionally shrewd in using his economic power as Grand Prince to obtain support within Russia and in using financial and other inducements to insure that the Tatars would assign him the title of Grand Prince. He encouraged the Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia to live in Moscow, greatly strengthening the claim of this city to ideological preeminence and bringing it significant practical economic enhancement through the church's economic activity.(41) Ivan's reign was considered a period of exceptional peace by contemporaries, which gives a good indication of just how endemic warfare was the rest of the time. Actually the period contained a considerable amount of warfare against Tver, Novgorod, and Lithuania. Only on the Tatar front was there a relative respite from plundering raids, and that was purchased by Ivan at the cost of expensive tribute that he raised by his own exactions throughout Muscovy. He also reduced the relative level of common crime and number of brigands roaming the lands, for which the chroniclers duely praised him.

Ivan divided his domain in thirds for his sons. His first son, Simeon I, ruled as Grand Prince from 1341 to 1353 and his second son, Ivan, followed Simeon from 1353 to 1359. The third son was Andrei Ivanovich, Prince of Serpukhov, who also died in the plague of 1353. Ivan journed to Sarai a last time to secure Khan Özbeg's seal on his will in order to insure the succession to Simeon. Since at this time the title of Grand Prince of Vladimir was not his to dispose of, Ivan hoped that this last sign of loyalty would induce Özbeg to give the title to Simeon.


1302 - Ivan sent to Pereyaslavl Zaleski to gain loyalty of people
1317 - He is sent to Novgorod, he obtains the city support against Tver. But in December 1317 Tver defeate Moscow at Bortenovo.
1320 - He goes to Tatar capital at Sarai total of 9 times, in 1320 he stayed two years
1322-25 Dmitrii Mikhailovich Grozni Ochi of Tver kills Yuri III Danilovich at Sarai and then the Khan executes him. Ivan is on second visit to Sarai but in 1326 Khan gives yarlik to Aleksandr Mikhailovich of Tver
1325 - Ivan succeeds his brother, Yuri III, as prince of Moscow.
1326 - Metropolitan Peter lays corner stone for Uspenski (Assumption) Cathedral in Moscow
1327 - revolt at Tver, Ivan goes to Sarai to obtain Tatar troops and returns with Fedorchuk and Turalyk and 50,000 Tatars. Aleksandr Mikhailovich escapes to Pskov where he is made prince. Ivan goes with army to Pskov. Novgorod supports Ivan against Pskov. Aleksandr flees to Lithuania.
1328 - Ivan gets yarlik as Grand Prince of Vladimir along with Aleksandr of Suzdal. Konstantin Mikhailovich replaces his brother at Tver.
1331 - Ivan again visits Sarai to get the yarlik as grand prince.
1331 - Gedemin launches Lithuanian offensive and Novgorod, Pskov and Tver are now pro-Lithuania. Ivan has to defeat Lithuania while remaining in the khan's favor, so he allies with Tatars against Lithuania. Aleksandr Mikhailovich returns to Pskov again as prince. The khan then gives Aleksandr Mikhailovich back Tver and he replaces his brother, Konstantin, who ruled while he was away. Konstantin had been Ivan's ally. (Some date this change to 1337).
1332 - Novgorod resists Ivan's heavy Tatar taxes - Ivan invades Novgorod border towns, Novgorod supports Lithuania.
1333 - Ivan's son, Semyon, marries as a second wife, Anastasia, Lithuanian princess, daughter of Gedymin but border war continues.
1335 - Ivan returns to Novgorod to make peace, on the return trip he attacks Lithuanian border towns.
1336 - Ivan again goes to Sarai, complains about Aleksandr.
1337 - Ivan again sends army against Novgorod to collect taxes.
1338-9 Ivan goes to Sarai again to get khan's approval of his will and testament. According to his will, Ivan bought Beloozero, Uglich and Galich, but left the local princes in charge.
1339 - Khan Ozbeg executes Alexandr Mikhailovich and Konstantin Mikhailovich is restored to Tver
1340 - Ivan takes Tatar army against Smolensk but looses heavily.
Metropolitan Peter (1303-26) sides with Ivan and Moscow. Then Metropolitan Theogonst (1328-53) comes from Constantinople and chooses to live at Moscow. Ivan stayed close to both metropolitans.
1344 - Ivan dies
1348 - Novgorod appeals for assistance against Sweden and Livonian knights but Ivan I's son, Ivan Ivanovich, as commander of army does not respond.
1352 - Campaign with Tatars to Smolensk

Ivan II Ivanovich (1326-1359) - {short description of image}

He was the second son of Ivan I Danilovich (Kalita) and Prince of Zvenigorod. He ruled as Grand Prince of Moscow from 1353 to 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1354 to 1359. He came to the throne on the death of his elder brother, Simeon I, in the devastating plague that also took many of his other relatives and potential rivals. He married twice and had three children. During his brother's reign, Ivan served him well, leading Muscovite campaigns against Lithuania.

Ivan at first followed his father's and brother's policy of maximum catering to the Tatar Khans in order to reduce Tatar depredations against Moscow and secure Tatar support for Moscow's depredations against its neighbors. Later, as he perceived that Tatar power was somewhat weaker and Lithuanian power growing stronger, he began careful efforts to switch positions. This brought out strong internal opposition from supporters of the previous policy. With his own boyars and the Orthodox church leaders in open revolt and the still powerful Golden Horde perparing action Ivan had to acknowledge his mistake and make the ritual journey to Sarai to receive the new Khan Berdi-beg's approval. He then reopened war with Lithuania and Tver.(42)

Ivan divided his possessions into the customary thirds giving the heirs inalienable rights to their inheritances. His principal heir was Dmitrii Ivanovich (Donskoi)


1352 - Lithuanian offensive stopped by Muscovite and Tatar army. Ivan campaign toward Smolensk.
1353 - Ivan goes to Sarai to obtain yarlik as soon as Semyon died. jannibeg endorses Ivan
1348 - Livonian knights and Swedes attack Novgorod but Ivan fails to help.
1353-8 - Lithuania occupies Rzhev and wins victories near Smolensk and Bryansk Ivan does not support , Ivan allies with the pro-Lithuanian factors in Suzdal - Ivan then changes policy.
1357 - 1357 Internal revolt and popular pressure force Ivan to resume conflict against Lithuania and return to alliance with Golden Horde. Andrei Khvut, the chiliarch, is murdered. Some boyars leave Ivan for Ryazan. Metropolitan Aleksei also pressures Ivan against Lithuania. Kypchak horde becomes a threat. Ivan surrenders position and goes to Sarai to Khan Berdibeg and renews conflict with Lithuania.
1358 - Ivan's testament prepared
1359 - Ivan's army again at Smolensk, also renewed civil war in Tver.

Dmitrii Ivanovich (Donskoi) (1350-1389) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Ivan II and Ivan's second wife, Aleksandra, born while his uncle, Simeon, was the ruling Grand Prince. In 1353 Simeon died together with his surviving sons and his brother, Andrei of Serpukhov. This left the inheritance open without multiple divisions not only to Dmitrii's father, Ivan II, but also to himself. Ivan divided his possessions between Dmitrii, his brother, Ivan, and his cousin, Vladimir Andreevich of Serpukhov. But Ivan Ivanovich also died young returning his possessions back to Dmitrii. Dmitrii was only nine when his father died. The Orthodox Metropolitan Aleksei served as regent for the young princes. Dmitrii took more direct control of policy in 1367. He continued the tradition of outmaneuvering other claimants to the Tatar yarlik to secure support and devote Muscovite resources to the battle against Lithuanian expansion. Despite his stunning victory over the Tatars under Mamai in 1380 he still retained the all important yarlik. He married Evdokia of Suzdal in 1366 with whom he had twelve children. He died relatively young in 1389 under suspicious circumstances. He once again divided the principality among his five sons and Vladimir Andreevich, setting up the scene for the subsequent civil war between his son, Yuri Dmitreivich, and his grandson, Vasilii II.(43)


This is a period of internal conflict in the Golden Horde during which there are at least 25 khans. Dmitrii Ivanovich makes use of this turmoil to strengthen Moscow.
Muscovite armies drive Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal out of Vladimir and Pereiaslavl.
Muscovite armies drive the Suzdal forces from Vladimir again and set up a supporting prince in Rostov.
Muscovite armies force Nizhnii Novgorod to take Dmitrii Konstantinovich as prince. Ivan Ivanovich dies leaving his territories to Dmitrii.
Grand Prince Oleg Ivanovich of Riazan brings troops from Prinsk, Kozel'sk and Riazan to defeat a Tatar raid.
Muscovite armies support Nizhnii Novgorod expansion eastward along Volga River against Mordvinian and Bolgar regions.
Ol'gerd of Lithuania supports Tver against Moscow.
Dmitrii Ivanovich and Vladimir Andreivich build first stone walls for Moscow kremlin in time to resist sieges by Lithuanians.
Dmitrii Ivanovich sends troops to support Novgorod and Pskov against Livonia and places his local official in charge in Novgorod. He also starts attacks against Smolensk and Briansk and he supports Vasilii Mikhailovich of Kashin against Mikhail for control of Tver.
Ol'gerd conducts surprise attack and siege of Moscow without success.
Dmitrii with assistance from Riazan attacks Briansk and Tver and forces Mikhail to flee to Lithuania. Ol'gerd brings Lithuanians and troops from Smolensk to besiege Moscow again, for eight days. Dmitrii commands the defense of the city while Vladimir Andreevich and the princes of Riazan led by Vladimir Yaroslavich of Prinsk lead field armies against the Lithuanians.
Mikhail attacks Kostroma and seizes several towns including Uglich. Dmitrii is busy with troops fighting Oleg Ivanovich of Riazan to install his cousin, Vladimir Yaroslavich as prince. Oleg regains the town with the aid of Tatar chieftain Murz Salakhmir.
Mikhail in alliance with Lithuania captures Dmitrov and urges the Lithuanians to attack Periaslavl. Ol'gerd musters his army to attack Moscow. Dmitrii sends a large army that defeats the Lithuanian advance guard at Liubutsk and then forces Ol'gerd to sue for peace. Both Oleg and Vladimir of Riazan support Dmitrii's campaign. Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal constructs stone kremlin at Nizhnii Novgorod.
Mikhail returns the towns and booty in exchange for his son, held by Dmitrii. The Tatars under Mamai raid Riazan, forcing Oleg to seek support from Moscow. Vladimir Andreivich brings his troops from duty in Novgorod to defend the Oka River.
Ivan V. Veliamninov (the son of the last commander of the Moscow militia deposed by Dmitrii)and a Moscow merchant, Nekomat, defect to Tver.
Nekomat obtains title to the Grand Principality of Vladimir for Mikhail. Dmitrii then brings a large army of troops from Moscow, Vladimir-Suzdal, Briansk, Kashin, and the Oka river valley to attack Tver. Ol'gerd fails to support Mikhail and the Tatars also do not intervene. Mikhail agrees to a treaty subordinating himself to Dmitrii, but does not live up to it. Oleg of Riazan acts as mediator in this agreement to obtain support against Tatars.
Dmitrii attacks Rzhev to retaliate against Ol'gerd's attacks on Smolensk.
Dmitrii conquers Bolgar on the Volga and obtains tribute. The combined Muscovite - Suzdalian army is defeated on the P'iana River by Tatars and Mordvinians who then sack Nizhnii Novgorod. At the same time the Tatars raid Oleg's capital at Pereiaslavl Riazanskii.
Dmitrii returns to devastate Mordvinian lands.
Tatars raid Riazan and then Dmitrii defeats Tatar army of Mamai on the Vozha River. The Riazan prince Daniil of Pronsk participates with Dmitrii. Mamai (a Tatar temnik) used these years to strengthen his control of the western part of the Golden Horde.
Ol'gerd's brother, Keistut, opposes Ol'gerd's son, Iagailo, for Lithuanian throne. Dmitrii sends army to Briansk in support.
Iagailo negotiates with Mamai against Moscow, but is blocked from supporting by pressure from Keistut and the Teutonic Knights. Oleg of Riazan tries to play Tatars against Muscovites, but Tatars devastate Riazan anyway and drive Oleg across the Oka River, forcing him to abandon Dmitrii. Tver and Nizhnii Novgorod also remain neutral, but Novgorod sends troops in support.Dmitrii musters his forces against the Tatar threat.
Mamai marches north up the Don river valley. Dmitrii crosses the Don and meets him at Kulikovo Field. (The chronicles give 80,000 casualties on both sides.) Battle of Kulikovo Pole - The victorious Russian army is plundered by Lithuanians (or Riazantsi) on the way home.
Dmitrii sends his governor to Riazan driving Oleg out. Oleg agrees to subordinate himself and Riazan to Moscow. Toqtamish reunites Golden Horde after killing Mamai. Dmitrii sends gifts. Dmitrii concludes treaty with Keistut.
Toqtamish favors Iagailo who drives Keistut out of Vilna and kills him. Toqtamish takes Russian vessels on Volga River and attacks Riazan and Nizhnii Novgorod. Dmitrii hurriedly assembles troops but retreats to Kostroma. His family flees Moscow. The townspeople organize their own defense with leadership from a Lithuanian prince Ostei. Toqtamish with assistance from Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal tricks defenders into opening gates. The Tatars sack and burn the city killing abut 24,000. Toqtamish does not attack Dmitrii's army at Kostroma and Vladimir Andreevich defeats a Tatar detachment at Volokolamsk. Oleg attempts to divert the Tatars away from Riazan territory during this campaign, but fails with the result that his lands are devastated by both the Tatars and the pursuing Muscovites. Toqtamish returns to Sarai leaving Moscow in ruins and its prince greatly weakened. He demands the eldest sons as hostages from all the princes.
Dmitrii again attacks Riazan.
Dmitrii places heavy taxes on Novgorod to pay the heavy Tatar tribute. Oleg attacks Kostroma while Dmitrii is busy with Novgorod. Oleg defends successfully against retaliation launched by Vladimir Andreevich. Iagailo decides to marry Polish Queen, Jadwiga, rather than Dmitrii's daughter and convert Lithuania to Catholicism rather than Orthodoxy.
Dmitrii's son, Vasilii, escapes from being hostage at Sarai to Moldavia and then Lithuania.
Dmitrii makes peace with Riazan. Dmitrii's daughter, Sofia, marries Oleg's son Fedor of Riazan. Dmitrii sends large army against Novgorod
Dmitrii assists sons of Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal to take Nizhnii Novgorod. Rodoslav of Riazan escapes from Sarai and Tatars raid territory. Dmitrii arrests Vladimir Andreevich and his boyars to force them to recognize Vasilii as senior.
Dmitrii dies. His son, Vasilii I, becomes grand prince of Moscow. Another Tatar raid against Riazan.
Tatar raid against Riazan.
Oleg of Riazan decisively defeats Tatars. Oleg begins conflict with Vitovt of Lithuania. Both sides conduct campaigns against the other.
Continuing war between Riazan supported by Tatars and Lithuania
Tatar leader Edigei defeats Vitovt at Vorskla River.
Oleg with allies from Prinsk and Murom attacks Smolensk
Oleg sends his son, Rodoslav, to capture Briansk, but he is captured. Oleg dies, ending Riazan's last effort to gain supremacy. Fedor Ol'gevich signs treaty with his brother-in-law, Vasilii I of Moscow, subordinating Fedor to the equal status with Vasilii's eldest brother Yurii. Fedor's daughter married Ivan Vladimirovich, son of the Prince of Serpukhov

Andrei Fedorovich Prince of Starodub - {short description of image}

He was the third son of Fedor Ivanovich Blagovernii, appanage prince of Starodub. He became appanage prince of Starodub in 1363 when Dmitrii Donskoi threw his older brother out for siding with Dmitrii Konstantinovich. Andrei agreed to subordinate his policy in Starodub to Moscow. He was a military commander of Dmitri Donskoi against Tver in 1375 and commander of the Russian right flank at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380

Andrei Ivanovich (1327-1353) - {short description of image}

He was the third son of Prince Ivan I Danilovich and Yelena. He was appanage prince of Serpukhov from 1341 to 1353. He married Ul'yana and then about 1345 Maria, daughter of Ivan Fedorovich, prince of Galich. Their sons were Ivan and Vladimir Andreevich Khrabrii, appanage prince of Serpukhov. Andrei died during the great plague in Moscow along with his older brother, Semyon and the latter's family. This opened the way to rule to the younger brother, Ivan II.

Vladimir Andreevich Khrabryi (1353-1410)(44) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Prince Andrei Ivanovich and grandson of Ivan I of Moscow. Two of his uncles who ruled Moscow as Simeon I and Ivan II died early, but his father, Andrei Ivanovich (Prince of Serpukhov), also died young as did his elder brother, Ivan Andreevich. All this brought Vladimir's first cousin, Dmitrii Ivanovich, to the throne in Moscow, but greatly enhanced Vladimir's lands and power as well. His title was Prince of Serpukhov and Borovsk. He was one of the greatest military commanders of 14th century Russia and a strong ally and supporter of Dmitrii Ivanovich Donskoi and Dmitrii's son, Vasilii I, in their place as Grand Princes of Muscovy and Vladimir. The two cousin's first joint military campaign took place in 1362.(45) In 1367 they began construction of the first white stone walls to enlarge the Kremlin in Moscow, for which Vladimir contributed men from his appanage. This turned Moscow into the only first rate stone fortress in northeastern Russia.

Throughout his life Vladimir Andreevich fought Dmitrii's battles against Tver, Riazan, Novgorod, Lithuania, and the Tatars. In 1370, when the Lithuanians advanced on Moscow again in support of Tver, Dmitrii held the city while Vladimir took a field army to L'vov, deep in the Lithuanian rear area. This daring move aborted the Lithuanian campaign and gained for Vladimir added lands from Dmitrii and the hand of the Lithuanian princess Elena from her father, Ol'gerd. In 1373 the Golden Horde Tatars under Mamai attacked and sacked the Riazan area, but Dmitrii and Vladimir each brought their armies to the Oka River to prevent a Tatar attack on Moscow. In recognition of the recurrent Tatar threat, the next year Vladimir fortified one of his villages, Serpukhov, on the Oka River 56 miles south of Moscow. This fortress became a major center of Russian defenses against the Tatars for the next 200 years, until its importance was reduced by Russian expansion far to the south.

The remainder of the 1370's was spent in warfare against Tver and Lithuania. The cousins devastated Tver in 1375 forcing Mikhail of Tver to submit. By 1380 Mamai was ready to try his strength against Moscow again. In alliance with the Lithuanians he brought the full Tatar host against Moscow. Once again Vladimir brought his troops to his cousin's assistance and himself took command of a major part of the battle. Along with part of Dmitrii's troops, he led his forces in an ambush position from which his attack against the Tatar flank gained the victory for the combined Russian armies. The battle was at Kulikovo field near the Don River and was renowned as the most famous Russian victory over the Mongols. Dmitrii received the honorific “Donskoi” and Vladimir the honorific “Krabryi” (the brave). Unfortunately the victory was short lived. The new Tatar Khan, Toqtamish, returned with a stronger army in 1382. With both Dmitrii and Vladimir were out of Moscow mobilizing their armies, Toqtamish captured the city by a ruse and then plundered it and many other Russian towns. Vladimir managed to defeat one of the Tatar detachments, but the damage was done and the Grand Prince had to resume paying tribute to Sarai. The disaster prompted Vladimir to make an agreement with Dmitrii's son and successor, Vasilii I, in 1390 that specified that in case of danger one or the other would be in the city at all times.

During the 1380's Vladimir continued to lead his army in support of Dmitrii; for instance, against Novgorod in 1385. Relations between Vladimir and Dmitrii were strained in the later 1380's, but Vladimir agreed to a treaty recognizing Dmitrii's son as successor. After Vasilii I came to the throne in 1389, Vladimir briefly asserted his potential to support Tver, but did not defect. He continued to support Vasilii against the Tatars. In 1395 Moscow faced the most serious threat yet when Tamerlane approached, having already disposed of Toqtamish. While Vasilii led the field army to block the Oka River crossing at Kolomna, Vladimir prepared Moscow for the coming siege. Tamerlane changed his mind and retired after destroying Yelets and ravaging the region of the upper Don River valley. Vladimir's final military service came in 1408 when the Tatars again appeared, this time under Idiqu. With Vasilii out of the city at Kostroma Vladimir again organized and commanded the defense. Idiqu besieged the city for three weeks, but Vladimir's careful preparations and able leadership enabled the latter to hold the Kremlin until the Tatars departed.(46) Vladimir Andreevich died in 1410 leaving his lands to two sons. His granddaughter, Maria, became the wife of Vasilii II.

Dmitrii Konstantinovich Starshii (1323?-1383) - {short description of image}

He was Prince of Suzdal from 1356 and Grand Prince of Suzdal and Nizhegorod from 1365 until 1383.(47) Initially he fought against Dmitrii Ivanovich Donskoi for the title of Grand Prince of Vladimir. He held the title between 1360 and 1363, while Dmitrii Ivanovich was a teenager. When his brother, Boris Konstantinovich, began to oppose him and claim the titles, Dmitrii Konstantinovich was forced to ally himself with Dmitrii Ivanovich and give his daughter, Evdokiia, to him in marriage in 1366. The two Dmitrii's then campaigned together to expand Russian control eastward into the lands of the Mordvinians and Volga Bulgars. His troops were defeated along with the Muscovite contingents by the Tatars in the battle on the P'iana River in 1377. He began conversion of the kremlin in Nizhnii Novgorod to stone in 1372. Dmitrii Konstantinovich attempted to supplant Moscow in favor with the Tatars in 1382 by sending his sons to serve Toqtamish and assisting the Khan in capturing Moscow. (See Vasilii Dmitrievich Kirdiapa) Dmitrii Konstantinovich's son, Semyon, began the cadet branch of the family which became the Shuiski clan which disputed the throne with Boris Gudunov.

Andrei Ol'gerdovich (1325-1399) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Ol'gerd Gediminovich, grand prince of Lithuania. He became Prince of Pskov and Polotsk. He served Keistut of Lithuania in campaigns against the Livonian Order in 1375. In 1377 he returned to Pskov to serve as elected prince. He next entered the service of Moscow and in 1379 fought against Lithuania and in 1380 fought at Kulikovo field. Later he returned again to Lithuania to become Prince of Polotsk. In 1393 he left Polotsk for Pskov again. Finally he served Lithuania again under Vitovt and died in battle against the Tatars in 1399. His noted lineage assured that he would be well noted in the historical chronicles, but these peregrinations from Lithuania to Pskov to Moscow and back are typical of so many of the serving princes and boyars during the time when such moves were still possible.(48)

Vasilii I Dmitrievich (1371-1425) - {short description of image}

He was the second son of Dmitri Ivanovich Donskoi and received from the Mongol Khan Toqtamish the Mongol agreement to have the title of Grand Prince of Vladimir. During his youth he was among the Russian prince's sons held as hostage at Sarai. During this time he escaped from Sarai via Lithuania. He married the daughter of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vitvot in 1389 and used his father-in-law's support against other Russian rivals. He succeeded in obtaining the submission of his relatives who controled other areas and eventually all the princes signed treaties agreeing to serve him together with their armies. He continued his predecessors efforts to get the boyars of other princes to shift into Muscovite service.

In 1392 he visited Sarai and obtained also the right (yarlyk) to the Principality of Nizhnii Novgorod, displacing the incumbent prince Boris. He then annexed Bezhetskii Verkh, Vologda, and Ustiug greatly extending his domain to the north. He obtained expressions of submission from the Princes of Tver and Ryazan. Tamerlane's devastating blow to the Golden Horde and removal of Toqtamish gave Vasilii an opportunity to keep for himself the yearly Mongol tribute for twelve years. He used the new freedom from Mongol interference to focus pressure on Novgorod and Lithuania. The union of Moscow with the Grand Principality of Vladimir was not seriously endangered from this time. The dynastic union between Vasilii I and his father-in- law, Vitvot, did not prevent confrontation between the two ambitious rulers. Their armies met near Krapivna in 1406, near Viaz'ma in 1407, and at the Ugra in 1409; but on all three occasions both sides retired without hazarding battle.

The respite from Mongol attentions was ended in 1408 when Idiqu took control of the Horde and launched a surprise attack that spared Moscow but devastated many other towns including Rostov and Serpukhov and the Riazan lands. Vasilii went to Sarai in 1412 to make amends and resume paying tribute in exchange for confirmation of his rights to Nizhnii Novgorod.(49) Vasilii's eldest son, Ivan, died in 1417. At his death in 1425 Vasilii left his ten year old second son, Vasilii II, the undivided principality as heir with the request that his widow (and her father, Vitvot) act as regent.


1390 -Tatar raid against Riazan.
1392 - Vasilii visits Golden Horde and obtains yarlyk for Nizhnii Novgorod. Prince Boris arrested and deported. Vasilii makes alliance with Vitvot and marries his daughter.
1393 - Vasilii siezes Torzhik (town belonging to Novgorod)
1394 - Oleg of Riazan decisively defeats Tatars. Oleg begins conflict with Vitovt of Lithuania. Both sides conduct campaigns against the other.
1395-98 - Continuing war between Riazan supported by Tatars and Lithuania.
1395 - Tamerlane defeats Toqtamish and reaches Yelets before turning for home.
1396 - Vasilii seizes Novgorod northern lands for two years.
1397-98 -Vasilii annexes Vologda, Ustiug, and Vezhetskii Verkh.
1399 - Tatar Khan Idiqu defeats Vitovt at Vorskla River. Prince Mikhail of Tver agrees never to seek Moscow throne. Oleg of Riazan also agrees.
1401 - Oleg with allies from Pronsk and Murom attacks Smolensk
1402 - Oleg sends his son, Rodoslav, to capture Briansk, but he is captured. Oleg dies, ending Riazan's last effort to gain supremacy. Fedor Olegivich signs treaty with his brother-in-law, Vasilii I of Moscow, subordinating Fedor to the equal status with Vasilii's eldest brother Yurii. Fedor's daughter married Ivan Vladimirovich, son of the Prince of Serpukhov.
1403-4 -Vitvot seizes Smolensk and Viaz'ma.
1406 - Muscovite troops face Lithuanians without battle.
1407 - Muscovite troops again confront Lithuanians without combat.
1408 - Idiqu controls Golden Horde and makes surprise attack on Moscow. Vasilii I flees to Kostroma. Vladimir Andreevich defends Moscow. Tatars sack Rostov, Pereiaslavl, Dmitrov, Vereia, Serpukhov and Klin.
1409 - Muscovite troops face Lithuanians at Ugra River without battle.
1412 - Vasilii goes to Sarai to submit to Khan Jelal-ad-din and pay tribute.

Vasilii Mikhailovich of Tver (1304 -1368) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Prince Mikhail Yaroslavich and Prince of Kashin from 1339. With the support of the Muscovite Grand Princes Ivan Ivanovich and Dmitrii Ivanovich he fought his relatives (see Mikhail Aleksandrovich) for control of Tver for which he claimed to be Grand Prince from 1349. The result of the civil war was the serious weakening of Tver itself in its position to challenge Moscow for the succession to the Tatars.(50)

Mikhail Aleksandrovich of Tver (1333-1399) - {short description of image}

He was born in Pskov in 1333. His father died when Mikhail was six. He was involved in conflict with his two uncles, Konstantine and Vasilii and his elder brother Vsevolod. In 1365 he became Grand Prince of Tver. More interfamily struggles over various inheritances brought him into conflict with Dmitrii Ivanovich, Grand Prince of Vladimir and Prince of Moscow. Mikhail sought assistance from his brother-in-law, Grand Prince Ol'gerd of Lithuania. Dmitrii attacked Tver was was repulsed. Later Mikhail brought Lithuanian troops to counterattack against his uncle, Vasilii, at Kashin. Im 1368 Mikhail went to Moscow and was imprisoned until he returned land taken from a cousin. Dmitrii then attacked Tver again and Mikhail went to obtain help in Lithuania. In November 1368 he brought Ol'gerd and the Lithuanians to attack Moscow. When Mikhail's uncle, Vasilii, died the former sought to gain power over all of Tver and Vladimir as well. By 1382 he had managed to strengthen his control over all the principalities within Tver.

In 1370 Mikhail again struck against Moscow, occupying several towns. When he could not obtain assistance from Lithuania he went to the Golden Horde and obtained the yarlik as Grand Prince of Vladimir. Dmitrii blocked his return routes to Tver through Russian territory, forcing Mikhail to travel the round about way via Lithuania. In December he returned with Ol'gerd again and attacked Moscow a second time without success. Not detered, he again traveled to Sarai and again obtained his yarlik plus a promise of Tatar military support. He declined the troops but brought a Tatar official along on his return to insist on his installation at Vladimir. Still, Dmitrii refused him entry to the city, bribed the Tatar ambassador, and himself went to Sarai in 1371 to obtain the vital yarlik. While Dmitrii was at Sarai Mikhail took several towns. In 1372 he brought Ol'gerd with his Lithuanian troops a third time to besiege Moscow, but Dmitrii drove them off. At this Ol'gerd had had enough so he signed a peace treaty. Mikhail lost his acquired towns.

By 1373 Dmitrii was having troubles in Moscow and with the Tatars. Mikhail was prompted to take the offensive again by occupying Torzhok and campaigning against Uglich. Dmitrii mustered all the troops he could from allied princes and attacked Tver directly. This forced Mikhail to sue for peace and acknowledge Dmitrii as overlord. He promised support from Tver for Moscow's campaigns against Tatars or Lithuania. Mikhail was just stalling. He married three sons to Lithuanian princeses. In 1380 when the great Tatar invasion was launched by Mamai, Mikhail refused to join the Russian cause at Kulikovo field. Dmitrii won a surprising victory nonetheless, which boded ill for Mikhail. The Tatars came back in 1382 under leadership of Toqtamish and burned Moscow. On yet another visit to the Horde, Mikhail obtained his renewed yarlik for Tver from Toqtamish, but could not get the coveted title for Vladimir or Novgorod. Surprisingly Dmitrii received the title for Vladimir again. Nevertheless Dmitrii's power in Moscow was sufficiently weakened for Tver to gain strength again. Mikhail fortified his territories. After Dmitrii died in 1389, Mikhail was in the strongest position yet. The tradition of equal inheritance was too strong for him, however. On his death in 1399 he again divided his Tver territories among his remaining sons.(51)

Ivan Mikhailovich of Tver (1357-1425) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Mikhail Aleksandrovich and succeeded his father as Grand Prince of Tver in 1399. He continued the policy of attempting to keep Tver independent of Moscow, while curbing the internal separatist desires of the subordinate princes. Ivan Mikhailovich applied to the Golden Horde in 1407 and 1412 for assistance. In 1408 the Tatars under Idiqu besieged Moscow. Idiqu ordered Ivan Mikhailovich to bring Tverian troops and artillery. Ivan started out, but delayed and returned to Tver without fulfilling the order. He was lucky because Idiqu was defeated eventually and Tver would have had to face Moscow with the added burden of having supported the Tatars. Ivan then sought assistance from Vitovt of Lithuania. In 1422 he sent Tverian troops to support Vitovt against the Livonian Order.(52)

Vasilii Dmitrievich Kirdiapa (1350 -1403) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Prince Dmitrii Konstantinovich, Prince of Nizhegorod and Gorodets. His descendents became renowned as the Shuiskii family, one of whom became Tsar during the “Time of Troubles”. His most notable exploit occured in 1382. His father had sent him to serve with the Tatars. When Khan Toqtamish besieged Moscow, Vasilii was instrumental in deceiving the defenders to open the city gates, whereupon the Tatars sacked the town. He was given the Tatar yarlik as Prince of Gorodets. His effort to take Nizhnii Novgorod as well was stopped by Vasilii I Dmitrievich of Moscow.(53)

Vasilii II Vasil'evich (1415-1462) - {short description of image}

Vasilii II, was the fifth son of Vasilii I and Sofiia of Lithuania, and was the only son to survive him. He was ten when his father died. During his reign the medieval Russian concept of the complete independence of every prince faced the nascent concept of Russian unity in the quest for national independence from the Mongols. The newly strengthened unity of the state was quickly challenged during Vasilii's minority when his uncle, Yurii Dmitrievich, prince of Galich- Kostroma and Zvenigorod began a rebellion. Yuri was supported by his sons, Vasilii Kosoi and Dmitrii Shemiaka. Yurii refused to take the oath to his nephew. He was blocked from more outright attacks by the support given Vasilii by his grandfather, Vitold. But when Vitold died and Yurii's brother-in-law became Grand Prince of Lithuania his hands were freed. He went to Sarai to obtain the Khan's approval, but Vasilii's strength there was too great. The Khan confirmed Vasilii as Grand Prince in 1432 and merely gave some territory to Yuri. This did not end the matter. The struggle went back and forth with Vasilii fleeing to Sarai and coming back. Yuri died just when his victory seemed complete. His son, Vasilii Kosoi, then seized Moscow, was driven out, and returned again. In 1435 Vasilii II led a combined army with Lithuanian assistance that defeated and captured Kosoi. Vasilii had his rival blinded. This finished Kosoi but brought his younger brother, Dmitrii Shemiaka, out to try his hand. The civil war continued. Meanwhile the disintegration of the Golden Horde released more independent Tatar raiding parties throughout the region. The leader of one of these was Khan Ulug Mahmed. He siezed Nizhnii Novgorod and raided clear to Moscow. In 1445 Vasilii led his armies against the Tatars but was captured while losing a minor engagement. His captivity led to two remarkably opposite results.(54) First, Shemiaka was able to use the discontent aroused over the enormous tribute required to ransom the Grand Prince and to spread rumors that Vasilii was now in the pay of the Tatars. While Vasilii was out of Moscow, Shemiaka gained control and had Vasilii arrested, blinded, and exiled to Uglich. He soon became as unpopular as his father and brother had been, especially with the Church. Popular opinion forced him to release Vasilii and his children. This is when the second result of the Tatar captivity came into play. It seems that during his captivity Vasilii became personal friends with two of Ulug Mahmed's sons. Their older brother assassinated their father and was about to kill them too, so they fled to Moscow and entered Vasilii's service along with their troops. With this support plus his loyal boyars, Lithuanians and the support of Prince Boris of Tver Vasilii was able to eliminate Shemiaka for good. Vasilii made good use of his Tatar friends in guarding his southern frontiers against other Tatar bands and established the Khanate of Kasimov as a permanent force for this purpose. In doing so he created a potent weapon and astute policy that would be used by his decendents and successors for 300 years.
. During his reign there were three civil wars going on simultaneously in each of three areas which in turn were engaged in a three-way international war. In the west there was war between the various claimants for Lithuania and Poland, such as that between Michael, son of Sigismund, and Casimir IV, son of Iagailo. In Muscovy there was war between Vasilii II and his cousin, Prince Dmitrii Shemiaka. In the east there was a three way war between various khans for the leadership of the Golden Horde. In addition, there were independent states such as Tver, and Novgorod, trying to take advantage where they could.
The three main states, Lithuania, Muscovy, and the Horde were also engaged in an unending struggle to overcome each other. There were military operations in the west and between Muscovy and Lithuania, as well as the main campaigns involving Muscovy and the Tatars during the 1400's to 1460's, these are essential to a clear understanding of further developments. During this period the Khanates of Kazan, Kasimov, and Crimea were founded and received their basic structure.


1443-44 - During the winter a strong group of Tatars led by the Juchid Prince, Mustafa, attacked Riazan land. This group was from Sarai, where Khan Kuchuk Mahmed ruled the Horde. Grand Duke Vasilii II sent troops together with the Riazan Cossacks and Mordvinians on snowshoes, to aid the town. They destroyed the Tatar army.(1)
1444 - Khan Uleg Mahmed led his horde from Belev down the Oka River to Gorodets and besieged the Russian garrison.
1444-45 - During the winter, Uleg Mahmed attacked Murom. Muscovite troops under Vasilii II himself drove the Tatars off; yet, Vasilii could not relieve Gorodets, therefore the Russians abandoned it. Uleg Mahmed now sent part of his army under command of his sons, Mahmudek and Yakub, against Suzdal.(2)
July 7, 1445 - Vasilii II arrived at Suzdal, and, not waiting for his own Tatar vassals, attacked the 3,500 Tatars with his 1,500 men. The Tatars won and captured Vasilii. This small battle had great lasting historical significance. The Tatar princes brought Vasilii II to their father, Uleg Mahmed, who moved the Tatar army toward Kazan. Meanwhile, Moscow prepared for the expected attack and mobilized the militia. Vasilii managed to gain the friendship of the Khan's sons, Yakub and Kasim. Khan Uleg Mahmed set Vasilii free for ransom, tribute, and certain favors. Then the Khan's own son, Mahmudek, murdered his father and took command of the Tatar army. He moved the force to Kazan and set up the new Khanate of Kazan in the fall of 1445.(3)
Princes Yakub and Kasim fled to the Circassian land on the Dnieper River. When Vasilii arrived back in Moscow, he expanded his policy of recruiting Tatar khans and princes to help him.(4) They were more loyal to him than were many Russians and were useful against his Russian enemies.(5)
Internal opposition, led by Prince Dmitri Shemiaka, deposed Vasilii II temporarily, but his supporters, with significant Tatar help from Yakub and Kasim, reinstated Vasilii. Vasilii then established the new Khanate at Gorodetz and made Kasim the Khan. Kasim and the other Tatar princes continued to support Vasilii in war with Dmitri in 1449, 1450, and 1452, as well as against other Tatars. Vasilii selected Gorodetz-on-the-Oka as capital for the new Khanate due to its strategic location on the approaches to Moscow, and to its being inhabited by Meshcherians and not by many Russians. Kasim received the town in 1452, and after his death, it was renamed Kasimov (1471). This was a master stroke that gained Moscow great Tatar support and political as well as military strength.(6)
1444-48 -Livonia waged serious war on Novgorod and tried to capture it. After 1448 there was little trouble from Livonia, which was at war with Poland.
1446 -Vasilii II used the considerable services of his Tatar Tsarevichi, Kasim and Yakub, against their brother, Mahmudek. They also gave valuable service against Dmitri Shemiaka and against the Tatars of the Golden Horde. Vasilii conducted a major campaign against Kazan. In the west, the Russians were on the defensive against the Teutonic Knights and Livonians.
1447 - Mahmudek's strong army sent against Moscow, lost in battle.
1449 - King Casimir gave support to Hajji Gerei, a Juchid prince living in Lithuania and a relative of Uleg Mahmed, to attack the Horde. Hajji Gerei seized the Crimea from Said Ahmed, Khan of the Great Horde, in retaliation for Said's support of Michael of Kiev against Casimir in Lithuania. The Gerei family ruled the Crimea until the late 18th century.(7)
1449 - Said Ahmed sent part of his Horde army against Moscow. Twenty miles from Moscow the Tsarevich Kasim and his Tatar troops defeated the Horde Tatars and recovered all prisoners and booty.
1450 - Vasilii II's army of Russians and Tatars blocked another Great Horde Tatar invasion of Riazan land by routing then on the Bitiug River.
1451 - Another Tatar invasion reached the walls of Moscow. The main army of Said Ahmed led the attack. On news of his approach, Vasilii II went north to raise more troops. The Moscow garrison had both artillery and handguns. The Tatars arrived on 2 July and burned the suburbs, but the defenders repulsed their assault on the citadel. During the night, the Tatars retreated.
1452 - Viatka had supported Dmitri Shemiaka against Vasilii II. Therefore, after his victory, Vasilii sent troops against Viatka, but the campaign was a failure.
1456 - Vasilii II led his armies against Novgorod, because the city had sheltered Dmitri Shemiaka after 1452. The Muscovite army under Prince Ivan Striga-Obolensky looted Rusa, causing Novgorod to send 5,000 cavalry in full armor armed with lances to defend the town. In the battle of Rusa the Muscovite archer cavalry shot the Novgorodian horses and routed their army. The new treaty forced on Novgorod by the Grand Duke was a serious blow to its freedom.
1460 - Vasilii renewed his attacks on Viatka and won a victory, after which Viatka pledged allegiance.(8) Soon after becoming the new Khan of the Golden Horde the same year, Ahmed attacked Periaslavl in Riazan territory. He attempted to restore the Russian tribute, but failed.(9)
1462 - Vasilii II died and was succeeded by his son, Ivan III.

Vasilii Yur'evich Kosoi (ca 1421 -1448) - {short description of image}

He was the eldest son of Yurii Dmitrievich who supported his father in civil war against Vasilii II of Moscow. Vasilii Yur'evich was prince of Zvenigorod and after his father's death proclaimed himself Grand Prince of Moscow in 1434. He was driven out and then defeated at the battle of the Kotorosi River in 1435. He rebelled again and was again defeated in battle at Skoriatino in 1436. Vasilii II had him blinded.(55)

Dmitrii Shemiaka (1420-1453) - {short description of image}

He was prince of Galich and son of Prince Yurii Dmitrievich and grandson of Grand Prince Dmitrii Ivanovich Donskoi. From 1436 after his father died and his elder brother, Vasilii Yurevich, had been blinded on orders of Vasilii II, Dmitrii Shemiaka led the opposition of the independent princes and boyars against the control of the Grand Prince of Moscow. In 1446-7 Dmitrii captured Vasilii and had him blinded and then took the throne in Moscow. The military servitors and Vasilii's forces including Tatars soon drove him out. He continued to struggle against the grand prince and died in Novgorod in 1453.

Vereiskii, Mikhail Andreevich (? c.1410-1486) - {short description of image}

He was the grandson of Dmitrii Donskoi and son of Andrei Dmitrievich. His title was Prince of Vereia and Beloozero from 1432 to 1486, which he inherited from his father. He added extensive lands to his inheritance by marriage and for exemplary military service to the Grand Prince in Moscow. At the death of Vasilii II Mikhail held the only remaining independent appanage in Muscovite territory, but on his death all his lands went back to Moscow.(56) Apparently he was not only loyal, but an outstanding military commander. He brought his personal skill and personal military servitors to Vasilii II in the fight against their uncle, Yurii of Galich, and then against their cousin, Dmitrii Shemiaka. In 1445 he fought with Vasilii in the campaign to retake Nizhni-Novgorod from Ulug Mohammed and was captured along with Vasilii. He continued his loyal service for Ivan III and led his own troops on the campaign against Novgorod in 1471, during which he captured Deman. During the dangerous Tatar campaign of 1480 he provided critical support. He was instrumental in persuading Ivan's estranged brothers to come with their armies from the Lithuanian border to the Ugra River. Then during the critical months, while the Grand Prince and field armies held the river line, he was in charge of the siege preparations of Moscow itself.(57)

Ivan III (1440-1505) Grand Prince of Muscovy from 1462. - {short description of image}

Ivan was born on 22 January 1440 the eldest son of Grand Prince Vasilii II and Mariia Yaroslavna. His youth was marked by the turmoil of the civil war waged by his cousins against his father and the incessant struggles with the Tatars. When he was five years old his father was captured by the Khan of Kazan. No sooner was VasilIi II released than Dmitrii Shemiaka seized power in Moscow while Vasilii and Ivan were on a pilgrimage to the Trinity monastery. Vasilii was blinded, but Ivan and his brother Yurii managed to escape to safety in Murom. Learning of their whereabouts Dmitrii Shemiaka used the Bishop of Riazan as an intermediary to capture the children by trickery and send them into captivity with their father at Uglich. This success proved Dmitrii's downfall as the popular uproar against this chicanery caused a revolt against him. He was forced to go to Uglich and release Vasilii and the boys.

Ivan was then closely involved with the rule of his blind father and was proclaimed Grand Prince and co-ruler at age 9 in 1449. At the age of 12, in 1452 he married Mariia of Tver and took command of a large part of the Muscovite army that defeated Dmitrii Shemiaka. When his father died in 1462, Ivan was proclaimed Grand Prince by the Muscovites without the customary Mongol approval (yarlyk). His reign was marked by continued expansion of Muscovite control of neighboring territories by a process of purchase of estates in these principalities as well as inheritances. The first half of his reign was marked by intermittent struggles with his brothers (Yuri, Boris of Volok, Andrei of Uglich, and Andrei of Vologda) who had been bequeathed the usual share of territories by their father. The last years of his reign contained a similar struggle between the supporters of his son and grandson. Marii died in 1467 leaving Ivan with only one son, also Ivan. Ivan then (1472) married Sophia, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor. The couple then had two daughters and a son, Vasilii. When Ivan the younger died in 1490 leaving a son, Dmitrii, the struggle began, egged on by the two mothers. The political factions involved Church issues and the usual family interests of princes and boyars who sought to further their positions by supporting a winner. The issue went back and forth. Vasilii fled and was arrested twice (in 1497 and 1500) and Dmitrii formally was crowned in 1498. Yet Dmitrii was arrested in 1502 and died in prison in 1509. Thus when Ivan died he did not divide the lands among a group of heirs. Vasilii came to the throne in 1506 as sole ruler and did not even have to face the usual struggle to reunite Muscovy.

Andrei Vasil'yevich Bol'shoi (1446-1493) - {short description of image}

He was the third son of Grand Prince Vasilii II and brother of Ivan III. He received Uglich and Zvenigorod and was an early supporter of his brother's drive to unify Russia. In 1480 he was in virtual open rebellion against Ivan and had his army on the Lithuanian border ready to support King Casimir of Poland. Ivan compromised with him in order to obtain his military support against Akhmet's Golden Horde on the Ugra River. In 1491 he again refused to bring his troops to assist Ivan. Ivan arrested him and he died in prison in 1493.

Andrei Vasil'yevich Men'shoi (1452-1481) - {short description of image}

He was the seventh son of Grand Prince Vasilii II and brother of Ivan III. He received Vologda. Andrei remained a faithful supporter of his brother in unifying Russia. He died childless and willed his lands back to his brother.

Mikhail Borisovich of Tver (1453-1505) - {short description of image}

He was the son of Boris Aleksandrovich of Tver and succeeded to the throne in 1461. He recognized the necessity of supporting Ivan III in order to stave off Muscovite encroachment against Tver. In 1471 and 1477 he supplied Tver's troops for Ivan's campaigns against Novgorod. He sent Tver's army to the Ugra in 1480 as part of the Russian national force to prevent the Tatar invasion.(58) After 1483 he attempted to solicit support from Poland and Lithuania to keep Tver independent of Moscow. It was already too late. Ivan forced his to cancel discussions with Casimir IV. Finally Ivan III brought his army to besiege Tver in 1485. Mikhail was forced into exile in Lithuania from which his efforts to regain Tver proved futile. He was the last independent prince of Tver and died about 1505.(59)

Ivan Ivanovich, Grand Prince of Riazan (1496-1534) - {short description of image}

He ruled as Grand Prince from 1500 and struggled to preserve Riazan's independence from Moscow. In 1516 he made use of a Tatar invasion to assert independence from Moscow. In 1520 Vasilii III ordered him to come to Moscow and kept him under arrest. In 1521 Ivan used another Tatar invasion to escape Moscow. He was unable to regain Riazan, so he fled to Lithuania from which he continued to attempt to obtain support from the Crimean Khan and Lithuanian Grand Prince to liberate Riazan.(60)

Vasilii Ivanovich Shemiachich (?-1529) - {short description of image}

He was a grandson of Dmitrii Shemiaka and ruled as Prince of Novgorod-Seversk, located in Lithuanian territories. In 1500 he changed sides to support Ivan III. He served as military commander in battle against both Lithuanians and Tatars. In 1523 he was suspected of conducting treasonous negociations with Lithuania and was arrested by Vasilii III Ivanovich.

Vasilii III Ivanovich (1479-1533) (Grand prince from 1505) - {short description of image}See chapter 10

Vasilii III was the son of Ivan III and his second wife, Sofia. Vasilii's youth must have been difficult. His half- brother, Ivan Ivanovich, was 21 years older and already the heir apparent when his father remarried. When Vasilii was three Ivan Ivanovich married Elena of Moldavia and their son Dmitrii was born in 1483. Dmitrii could look forward only to receiving the usual appanage on his father's death with the likely subsequent pressure from his half-brother to relinquish it or at least refrain from having political ambitions. Ivan Ivanovich was already participating actively in political and military affairs as his father's potential successor when he died in 1490. In France or England the right of succession would have passed to Dmitrii without question, and even in Muscovy this was likely to take place. However Ivan III's wife was a strong and determined Byzantine princess who plotted to obtain the throne for her son. The struggle between Sophia and Elena was intertwined with weighty religious issues since Sophia came to Moscow from Constantinople via Rome and Elena was from Moldavia. (See description of Ivan III for further details.)

The result of the unusual family and religious struggle preceeding his accession and lack of family rivals after the accession was that Vasilii became the first Muscovite ruler to feel himself the heir of the Byzantine emperors and more. It was during his reign that the “Third Rome theory” was applied to Moscow.

Vasilii's marriage to Solomonida Yur'evna Saburova in 1505 was without issue. In 1525 he decided to divorce her to get the opportunity to beget an heir. This scandal ignited further religious conflict. Vasilii married Elena Glinskaia, a very young west Russian princess, who bore his son, Ivan IV, in 1530. He was already at odds with the Church over an economic-political issue, namely the matter gaining control of extensive church lands needed to support his military forces. In his later years Vasilii came to see himself more and more as an absolute monarch. So much so that historians have dated the origin of the Russian autocracy to his reign.(61) Unfortunately Vasilii's son, Ivan IV, was only three when his father died. This opened the way for a resurgence of boyar pretentions and family feuds, although by then there was no thought of breaking up the state itself in the manner of the 13-15th centuries.

Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolenskii, Ivan Fedorovich (?-1539)

He was the son of Fedor Vasil'evich Obolenskii, an army commander in the period 1492-1522. Ovchina was also a noted military commander in campaigns against Kazan, Lithuania and Crimea. He owed his success to his close place at the court of Vasilii III through his sister, Agrafina. After Vasilii's death in 1533 his widow, Elena (mother of Ivan IV), made Ovchina her favorite and raised him to boyar status. He was a leading commander during the war with Lithuania from 1534-1537, reaching Vilno and Starodub in 1534. In 1535 he led the army deffending Smolensk. In 1536 he led negotiations with Kazan and with Lithuania.

In 1537 he led the army that Elena sent to capture Andrei Staritsa and took him to prison. After Elena died in 1538 the rival boyars led by I. V. and V. V. Shuiskii sent Ovchina to prison in the Kremlin, where he died. He was one of the participants in the brutal family feuds that rent the boyars during the minority of Ivan IV.(62)

Ivan IV (1530-1584) ruled as Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 and Tsar from 1547.(63) - {short description of image}See chapter 11

Ivan was born on 25 August 1530 to Vasilii III and Elena Glinskaia.(64) He was three years old when his father died. His mother was regent until she was poisoned in 1537. Then various boyars were in control (or in a sense, out of control). Naturally the period included incessant struggle, murder, executions, and nest feathering by rival boyar families. Ivan witnessed all this and never forgot. He led a continual process of reducing the power of the princes and boyars and raising that of the middle service class military servitors who were beholden to the Tsar. He struck first in 1543, before being crowned Tsar, by ordering the execution of Prince Andrei Shuiskii, one of the principal boyar leaders. Upon his corronation in 1547 Ivan set upon his program to strengthen both the absolute power of the Tsar in Moscow and the power of Moscow over all the Russian lands. The military aspects of his reign are recounted in a later chapter. The first ten or more years were spent in major transformation of the state internal administrative and religious bureaucracy.

As noted in the introduction, from the earliest times the conception of the ruling princes in Rus was that they were owners of all their domain including the population living on it, rather than simply rulers over other owners of property. For centuries the princes administered their territories as if they were domestic households and propriatary industrial establishments. With the dramatic increase in territory to the vast expanses noted for Moscow (see above) such administrative procedures became impossible. Ivan IV created both greatly strengthened central functional departments and local elected governmental officials. The officials, although elected locally, were responsible to the central government. He also reduced without eliminating the power of the princes and boyars by creating councils in which the membership also included service gentry and others. Above all, he brought the concept that everyone was ultimately the slave (possession) of the Tsar into practical effect. In the first centuries of Kievan and medieval Russia the prince's military personnel had received their economic support from the prince in return for their service. Granted that in those times the servicemen easily switched employment to other princes, nevertheless there was a connection between their successful service and their payment. Over the intervening centuries this connection was broken in practice when the senior personnel (boyars) received hereditary land as estates and came more and more to consider themselves independent as far as rendering military service went in fact if not in theory. Ivan III had made wide scale use of distribution of land strictly on the basis of military service, but he was not able to abolish the boyars' heriditary right to land.

Ivan fell ill in 1553 and found that many boyars refused to swear allegiance to his infant son. He realized that drastic measures were needed to solidify the institutional power of the monarch. At the same time a number of boyars defected to Lithuania. He decided that he was unable in practice to administer the entire realm as a private estate so long as the administrators themselves subverted his will. He had plenty of loyal supporters in the lower military service class, but lacked the financial means in cash to pay them as a standing army.(65) Therefore he established a private domain over as much of the territory as he could manage with the loyal servants available, taking care to select strategicly critical areas, and from this half of the Tsardom he would then wage war on the recalcitrant boyars and princes. This was institutionalized as the Oprichnina.

In 1581 Ivan in a rage accidentally killed his son, Ivan (1554-1581), who had been a military commander and executor of his father's policies. Ivan Ivanovich might have carried on his father's program with some success. The other two surviving sons were weak and young. Thus, when Ivan IV died in 1584 the state was likely to be thrown into the same kind of turmoil as it experienced during the first 15 years of his life. In fact the turmoil was much worse. Not only did the boyar families fight it out and resort to all sorts of evils in their efforts to seize the throne, but also a social war led by the cossacks and lower classes took as much revenge as possible on the upper classes in general, and hated foreigners from Poland, Sweden, Crimea, and elsewhere occupied Moscow, seized border territories, and plundered what they could. The most striking phenomena in this “Time of Troubles” was that for all the murderous fighting still there was no conception advanced or supported for the idea that Russia would not remain totally united or that its capital would be anywhere but Moscow.

Feodor Ivanovich See Chapter 13

He was born in 1557 and died in 1598. He ruled as Tsar from 1584 to his death. He was the youngest son of Ivan IV by his first wife, Anastasia. Unfortunately he was ill throughout his life. He was generally uninterested in governmental administration or affairs of state, leaving all this to the willing hands of his brother-in-law, Boris Gudonov. He spent most of each day in prayer and religious services, or visits to monasteries. The one significant political issue he handled personally and well was the negociations with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremiah, that resulted in the creation of the Patriarchate of Moscow with Iov as the first incumbent. He led his armies on one occasion, the campaign against the Swedes at Narva in 1590. He remained calm and in control during the Tatar attack in 1591, which was repelled by Boris.

Boris Gudonov See Chapter 14

Boris was born in 1552? in an important family from the Kostroma region ( which he greatly favored). Boris's father, Feodor Ivanaovich, and his uncle, Dmitrii Ivanovich entered the Oprichina service of Tsar Ivan IV. After the death of Feodor Ivanovich, Boris and his brother and sister became wards of their uncle who became Chamberlin of the Oprichnina Court. Boris made an astute marriage with Maria Grigor'evna, daugher of Maliuta Skuratov. Boris thus entered into the royal family circle. This relationship was cemented when Boris' sister, Irina, married Ivan's son, Feodor. Then, when Ivan's elder son, Ivan Ivanovich, died in 1581, Feodor Ivanovich became heir. On Ivan's death in 1584 there was the usual struggle at court between families (the Nagoi relatives of Fedor's half-brother, Dmitrii) And Boris participated in the supression of these rivals. Dimitri Ivanovich (along with his mother) was sent to Uglich. Finally the Shiskii clan staged a riot which was supressed. Boris was ascendent. He became the Tsar's official governmental boss. When Tsarevich Dmitri died in 1591 Boris was accused in popular opinion of having had a hand in an assassination. Modern historians generally discount this accusation. Nevertheless the Shuiski's were able to exploit the sitution later. On the death of Feodor Ivanovich in 1598 the direct line of the Rurikovichi was terminated. (However, the Shuiski's could and did claim to be descendents by cadet lines. (See the chapter on Boris's reign)

Feodor Borisovich

He was born in 1589 and died in 1605. He was the unfortunate son of Boris Gudonov. He reigned as Tsar only from April 13th to June10, 1605. He was very well educated in both academic and political affairs by his father, who hoped to start a new dynasty. However the combination of economic disaster (famine) and rivalry (Shuiski's and Polish support for a False Dmitri) coupled with general social unrest was too much for him to overcome in the brief time he had available before he was murdered by agents of the False Dmitri.

Maliuta-Skuratov, Gergorii Luk'ianovich (?-1573)

He is also known as G. L. Skuratov-Belskii. He was one of Ivan IV's close supporters and original members of the Oprichnina. He achieved the rank of dumnyi dvorianin in 1570. Maliuta-Skuratov was from the provincial service class that supported Ivan IV against the princes and boyars. He gained influence by his vigorous participation in the purges conducted by the Oprichnina.

Staritskii, Vladimir Andreevich (1533-1569)

He was prince of Staritsa, son of Prince Andrei Ivanovich the fourth son of Grand Prince Ivan III and therefor a cousin of Tsar Ivan IV. Prince Valdimir Andreevich was of mediocre intellect and little ability, although he did serve well on several military operations including the siege of Kazan in 1552. His unfortunate situation was due to his being the only reasonable personage around whom those opposing Ivan IV could build an alternative. His aggressive mother, Evfrosiniia Khovanskaia, did not help him by encouraging such treasonous plotting. Vladimir was forced to take poison in 1569.(66)

Vishnevetskii, Dmitrii Ivanovich (?-1563)

He was the Starosta of Cherkassk from 1551 and a leader of the enrolled cossacks along the Dnieper River. In 1556 he sent cossacks to support the Russian campaign against Crimea and conducted an attack against the Tatar fort at Islam-Kermen. The same year he built an island fortress at Khortitsa near Zaporozh'e as part of his fight against the Zaporozhian Cossacks. During 1557 the Crimean Tatars destroyed his fort at Khortitsa. Vishnevetskii then entered Ivan IV's service and led his armies against the Tatars. However, when Ivan began his Livonian war in 1558, Vishnevetskii took the side of King Sigismund II Augustus. In 1563 he was in Moldavia, where he was captured by the Turks and executed.(67)

Adashev, Aleksei Fedorovich (?-1561)

A leading advisor of Ivan IV. His family came from the Kostroma region. He was a member of the new service class whose father had risen in diplomatic service. He visited Constantinople in 1538. Aleksei Fedorovich gained Ivan's trust and by 1547 was a member of the Tsar's personal retinue at court and on campaign to Kazan that year. In 1550 he was appointed to head a new Petitions Office, which had broad powers not only to hear and respond to petitions and to conduct investigations. By 1555 he gained the rank of okol'nichii, indicating his powerful influence with the Tsar. He is credited with being one of the major proponents of Ivan's administrative and fiscal changes. He was especially concerned with militaryreforms after the failed campaigns to Kazan in 1547-58 and1549-50, He expanced and strenghened the pomestie system for fiscal support of the middle service gentry. He also strenthened the streltzi. He was involved in the massive census of 1550 that established the economic basis for apportioning taxes and military service duties. Aleksei Fedorovich also played a major role in foreign policy, especially against the Tatars. When Ivan decided to shift his military offensives from the Tatar fronts to the western border against Livonia and Lithuania, Adeshev strongly disagreed. The war started out quite successfully in 1558. In 1559 Adashev persuaded Ivan to call a truce in Livonia that was used to attack the Crimea. By the time Ivan recommenced the war in the west the Livonians had secured support and Ivan's armies were not as successful. Adashev himself led the army that captured Fellin in 1560, but his enemies at court convinced Ivan that he was responsible for the Russian failures. Ivan had him arrested in 1561 and he died soon after. Thus Ivan deprived himself of one of his best advisors who might have mittigated the worst excesses of the later reign.(68)

Adashev, Daniil Fedorovich (?-1562)

He was the younger brother of Aleksei and a leading military commander for Ivan IV. He was noted for bravery in combat. In 1552 he participated in the campaign against Kazan and in 1556 was commanding part of the southern frontier defensive lines against the Crimean Tatars. During the Livonian War he commanded Tatar troops from Kazan. He commanded a Russian army besieging Dorpat and again at Narva in 1558. In 1559 he sailed a force of 8,000 men down the Dnieper River in a daring raid against the Crimean Tatars at Perekop. He defeated Devlet Gerei's troops, liberated Russian prisoners, and withdrew back up the Dnieper. He again commanded Russian forces in Livonia in 1560 at the siege of Fellin. Despite his outstanding military service he did not escape Ivan's viscious purge of his entire family and was executed in 1562 or 1563.(69)

Andrei Ivanovich (1490-1537)

He was the youngest son of Ivan III and Prince of Staritsk. He supported his brother, Vasilii III, but was accused of treason by Vasilii's widow (mother of Ivan IV). When he fled to Novgorod, Elena sent an army commanded by Ovchina to bring him back. He was arrested and died in prison in 1537. While he was apparently innocent, this treatment no doubt contributed to his widow, Efrosina's, later efforts to push their son, Vasilii Andreivich Staritski, to the throne in place of Ivan IV.(70)

Lithuanians - Poles

Vitovt (1350-1430)

He was the son of Keistut of Lithuania and the Grand Prince from 1392. Between 1377 and 1392 he and his father (until his death in 1382) fought his cousin, Iagilo, for control of Lithuania. In this conflict Vitovt enlisted the support of Moscow, marrying his daughter to Vasilii I in 1389, and of the Teutonic Order from Livonia and Prussia. He helped Vasilii escape the Golden Horde via Lithuania. The ensuing war between the Teutonic Order and Lithuania caused much destruction before its conclusion in 1398. From 1392 he was reconciled with Iagilo (by then King of Poland) to the extent that they signed a series of agreements to create the Polish Lithuanian Union in which Poland would be superior but Lithuania would preserve its status as a separate grand duchy.(71) Vitovt then obtained Polish support and a truce with the Teutonic Order in order to embark on expansion of Lithuanian territories in the East. He obtained additional assistance from the Golden Horde and took advantage of Toqtamish's destruction of Moscow in 1382 to capture Smolensk in 1395 and increase Lithuanian power in Novgorod and Riazan. When Toqtamish was defeated by Tamerlane in 1395, Golden Horde support for Lithuania became less significant. In 1398 Toqtamish fled to Kiev with his remaining troops.(72) Vitovt was ready to use this Tatar force to reenforce his own in expanding Lithuanian territories toward the Black Sea and Moscow.(73) Having taken Toqtamish in, Vitovt had to face Vasilii's receiving Tatar support from Idiqu. The combined Lithuanian, Polish, and Tatar armies met the Muscovite - Tatar army at the Vorskla River in August 1399 in a major battle that Vitovt lost. The immediate result was that Pskov and Novgorod distanced themselves from Lithuania and Smolensk temporarily regained its independence.(74) Vitovt did not give up easily. He regained Smolensk in 1404 after a prolonged siege.(75) His forces continued to engage the Muscovites in border skirmishes during 1406 - 1408, culminating in a standoff on the Ugra River. He agreed to a treaty establishing the Lithuanian border on that river.

Being forced temporarily to abandon expansion against Moscow, Vitovt turned again to the north and engaged the Livonian Order in a new war over Samogitia.(76) This time he was able to bring in Polish support as well. The Livonian Order was supported by much of Western Europe. The struggle climaxed in one of the most famous battles in Eastern Europe, Tannenburg, on July 15, 1410. The Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian armies decisively defeated the German - Livonian Order, assuring Lithuanian supremacy not only over the Order but also over northwestern Russia (Pskov and Novgorod). After 1410 Lithuania was able to transfer the bulk of the struggle against the Order onto Poland. Vitovt turned his attention again to Moscow. With the Golden Horde weakened by internal problems and struggles with other Tatars Lithuanian influence throughout the Dnieper River basis was assured. Vitovt's grandson, Vasilii II, came to the throne in Moscow in 1425 in need of Lithuanian support in his civil war against Dmitrii Shemiaka. Vitovt provided the support, but the result was the expansion of Lithuanian influence not only over Pskov and Novgorod, but also over Tver and Riazan as well. He died in 1430 having brought a formerly disunited tribal region to the height of its power.

Alexander - (1461-1506){short description of image} See also the entry on Poland

He became Grand Duke of Lithauania in 1492 (the same year Columbus discovered America). He was subsequently elected king of Poland as well. Alexander suffered at the hands of his father-in-law, Ivan III whose daughter he married in 1495. But he suffered even more from the Polish gentry and nobility who blocked his efforts both internally and externally. Ivan's campaigns, in cooperation with the Crimea Tatars, were focused on terrorizing Lithuania and forcing the Lithuanian nobility to switch sides in favor of Muscovy. But Alexander managed to retain Smolensk.

Sigismund I - (1467 - 1548) - {short description of image}

He was the fifth son of Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, was elected grand-duke of Lithuania on the 21st of October 1505 and king of Poland on the 8th of January 1506. He had served his apprenticeship in the art of government first as prince of Glogau and subsequently as governor of Silesia and margrave of Lusatia. Silesia, already more than half Germanized, had for generations been the battle-ground between the Luxemburgers and the Piasts, who engaged in continual warfare. As governor of Silesia he suppressed the robber knights with an iron hand, protected the law-abiding classes, and revived commerce. In Poland he remedied the abuses caused by the wastefulness of his predecessor, Alexander. With the tsars Vasily III and Ivan IV Sigismund was never absolutely at peace. The interminable war was interrupted, by brief truces, as for instance after the great victory of Orsha (Sept. 1514) and again in 1522 when Moscow was threatened by the Tatars. But the Tatars also were a constant menace as they conducted almost yearly raids deep into Poland. They were at Wisniowiec in 1512 and at Kaniow in 1526). But at Sokal they wiped out a whole Polish army. Sigismund had to contend with the grand-masters of the Teutonic Order whose constant aim was to shake off Polish suzerainty. Sigismund wared against them in 1520—22.Finally, in 1525 the last grand-master, gave up the unequal struggle with both Poland and Muscovy and submitted to Polish sovereignty.

Sigismund II Augustus (1520- 1572) - {short description of image}

He had to contend with continual political conflict with the Polish gentry who were struggling with the nobility, another group that caused Sigismund difficulty. Like the Muscovite tsars, the Polish kings faced enemies on all fronts (and sought allies there as well) - Sweden, Ottoman Turkey, Crimean Tatars, Muscovite Russians, Germans of the Empire and assorted Cossacks.

Stephen Bathory (1533 - 1586) - {short description of image}

He was elected King of Poland in 1574. He faced immediate opposition and had to besiege and capture Danzig in 1576.In 1577 he agreed to a truce with the Ottoman Turks in order to focus on war with Muscovy. In 1581 he invaded Russia and besieged Pskov. The siege during winter was unsuccessful due to the epic defense but with the peace treaty at Zapoli (Jan. 15, 1582), he obtained Polotsk and the whole of Livonia from Ivan IV.

Sigismund III - (1566 - 1632) - {short description of image}

He was king both of Poland and of Sweden, son of John III, king of Sweden, and Catherine Jagiellonika, sister of Sigismund II, king of Poland, thus uniting in his person the royal lines of Vasa and Jagiello. But he could only rule Sweden by proxy. He was crowned King of Poland in 1587. He had to contend with similar inernal and external conflicts similar to those of Sigismund I and II.


Akhmet Khan (?-1481)

He was the son of Küchük-Mahmed and last significant ruler of the Golden Horde. He strove to unit the broken Tatar forces devastated by Tamerlane and reassert the leading role of the Horde in Eastern European politics. His first foray against Russia was an unsuccessful attack in 1460 against Riazan. His campaign against Moscow in 1464 was blocked by the Crimeans. He attempted to renew the old alliance of Horde and Lithuania in negociations with Casimir IV of Poland-Lithuania. Casimir may have led him on, but was too deeply engaged in his own operations in the west to provide troops against Moscow. Ahkmet even engaged the Venetians is discussions about joint campaigns against the Ottoman Turks. In 1472 Akhmet managed to reach Aleksin on the Oka River before retreating again. In 1474 Akhmet was able to replace Mengli Gerei as Khan of Crimea with his own agent until the Ottomans restored Mengli in 1479. Akhmet attempted to pressure Ivan III into renewing the tribute, but Ivan was sure of his own strength. Finally in 1480 Akhmet mustered all the forces he could for a decisive showdown. He brought his army to the Lithuanian border region of the upper Oka and Ugra Rivers in hopes that Casimir would join him. The Tatars were blocked in their efforts to cross the river during the summer. Akhmet withdrew in the fall and was then killed by Siberian and Nogai Tatars on his way home. His sons continued the Horde's campaigns until it was finally destroyed by Mengli Gerei in 1502.(77)

Devlet Gerei Khan of Crimea (1551-1577)

After his uncle, Sahib Girei, took power in 1532 Devlet Girei went to Istanbul where he was in favor with Sultan Suleiman. From him Devlet Girei obtained Turkish forces to support his coup to regain the throne. He consolidated his power about the same time as Ivan IV was conquering Kazan. When the Ottoman Sultan wanted to dig a canal between the Don and Volga Rivers, Devlet Gerei delayed and avoided assisting to preserve his independence. The removal of a threat from the Golden Horde or Kazan left him able to contest Muscovite power. Therefor he reversed the long Crimean policy of alliance with Moscow against Lithuania. He was happy to obtain payments from the Polish king to conduct profitable raids on Muscovite territories. In 1571 he burned Moscow, but failed in his repeat visit in 1572.

Hadji Gerei Khan of Crimea (1443-1466)

Mengli Gerei Khan of Crimea ((? - 1515)

A younger son of Hajjii Gerei who succeeded his brother, Nur Devlet, as Khan of Crimea in 1468. He gained power in Crimea after a protracted and complex struggle with his brother during which the two changed places as ruler and exile several times. Nur Devlet twice used Horde support to gain power. Mengli Gerei was restored twice using his friendship with the local Genoese merchants and Ottoman Turkish forces.(78) Nur Devlet finally fled to Moscow where he provided Ivan III significant assistance against the Horde in 1480. Mengli Gerei established the basic political and economic structure of the Crimean Khanate in the form it remained until annexed by the Russians. He initially succeeded in insuring Crimean independence from the Golden Horde by supporting Moscow against both the Horde and Lithuania for over 25 years and then defeating the Horde in battle in 1502. Once the threat from the Horde diminished he was more indiscriminate in his choice of victims for Tatar plundering raids and extortion. Over the next two centuries all Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and the Danubian principalities became fair game and their slave raids. A Russian-Ukrainian girl even wound up becoming, via the slave market, the wife of Sultan Suliman the Magnificent.

Mengli Gerei likewise was careful to develop a relationship with the Ottoman overlords that preserved the maximum possible Crimean independence. In this symbiotic relationship the Crimeans supplied some of the most effective and reliable-in- battle light cavalry the Ottomans needed both against the Hapsburgs in the Balkans and against the Persians in the Caucasus. The added value of the immense number of slaves collected by the Tatars for their harems and galleys was a nice bonus as well. The Turks supplied the Tatars with occasional artillery and Janissary support, manufactured goods, and an aura of being protected by the potential wrath of the Porte.

Nur Devlet Khan of Crimea (? - 1498)

Nur Devlet was the eldest son of Hadjii Gerei and ruled as Khan of Crimea from 1466-1468 and 1477-1478. He took the throne on the death of his father in August 1466. A civil war with his brother, Mengli Gerei, (see below) resulted in his exile in 1468. He and his other brother, Aidar, fled to the court of King Casimir IV of Poland-Lithuania who had been allied with his father. In the 1470's he returned to Crimea with the assistance of Khan Akhmet's Golden Horde Tatar forces and maintained control briefly. When Mengli Gerei finally was restored to power by Sultan Mohammed II, Nur Devlet and Aidar fled again. This time they were intercepted in Kiev on their way to Lithuania by agents of Ivan III and diverted to Moscow where they arrived in 1479.(79) On the one hand Ivan strengthened his own alliance with Mengli Gerei by writing to him promising to keep the brothers out of his way and on the other hand Ivan used these Tatar tsarivichi as potent allies in his own struggles with the Golden Horde and Kazan. It is difficult to overestimate the psychological power that these descendants of Chingis Khan had over the common Tatars. Nur Devlet's arrival in Moscow was timely in that he quickly joined Ivan's armies facing Khan Akhmet on the Oka River. Akhmet shifted his forces westward during the summer in hopes of joining his ally, Casimir, on the Ugra River. Meanwhile Nur Devlet and Prince Vasilii Nozdrevatii led a Muscovite raid down the Volga to threaten Akhmet's capital at Sarai while Mengli Gerei led his Tatars to pin down Casimir's forces in Lithuania by raiding Kiev and simultaneously to threaten Akhmet's rear area. Nur Devlet also may have had a hand in helping Ivan's agents in Siberia who apparently alerted the Nogai Tatars to Akhmet's whereabouts. The Nogai's surprised Akhmet and killed him on his return journey to the Volga.

In 1485 Akhmet's sons led another Horde incursion into Crimea. Mengli Gerei had ample Turkish support, but Ivan also lent a hand by sending Nur Devlet with an army to attack the Horde as well. Nur Devlet's reward was pomestie estates in Meshcherskii Gorodok on the Oka River and Kashira. In 1487 the potency of Nur Devlet's position was demonstrated by near simultaneous letters received by Ivan III from Murtaza, Akhmet's son now ruling the Golden Horde, and from Mengli Gerei. Both wanted Ivan to send them Nur Devlet and each promised to employ him against the other. Ivan declined both ideas and continued to assign Nur Devlet and his son Satilghan to important military expeditions against the Horde, which was then operating in the far western Ukraine. In 1487 Nur Devlet was successful in locating the Golden Horde encampments and attacking them. Nur Devlet died in 1498. At the request of Mengli Gerei his remains were returned to Crimea in 1504.(80)



In the 13th and 14th centuries the Muscovite army consisted of three elements, the druzhina of the grand duke, the armies of the other princes and boyars, and the militia of townsmen and peasants. The militia served only very rarely, to meet national emergencies such as the Tatar invasion of 1380 and Tamerlane's invasion. The Grand Duke's druzhina and those of the other princes and boyars were cavalrymen, while the militia was infantry.(81)

During this period, Moscow was a dependency of the Golden Horde. It very rarely undertook independent military action, therefore, for practical purposes, we should consider the Tatar units that accompanied the Muscovite armies as part of the total force. Since it was the Mongol / Tatar general who was often in control, perhaps it would be more nearly correct to say that the Muscovite army formed a part of the Tatar army at this time.(82)

During the 14th and 15th centuries the composition of the army changed. By the 16th century it consisted of the following groups: a local militia of dvoriani and deti boyarski, the grand prince's dvoriani, cossacks, pishchalniki, the naryad, and the pososhnaya rat. The first three of these groups were cavalry and the last three served on foot.(83)

During this period the towns lost their independence and with it their militia that was replaced by an infantry conscripted by the grand duke and officered by his appointees. As firearms made their appearance, the townspeople supplied two groups to employ these weapons. Other groups were organized to serve as labor battalions to service the weapons and build the bridges and roads necessary for campaigning.

The pishchalniki were the men armed with the first primitive arquebuses. They were conscripted based on one man for every three to five people and were organized into 100's under a sotnik. They were predominately city people and had to supply their own arms, ammunition, and rations. In addition there was a unit of “kazennie pishchalniki” who were supplied with weapons by the government. They took a direct part in battle, fighting on foot, although they occasionally rode to the battlefield.

The use of artillery caused the conscription of “naryad” people. The heavy artillery weapons of the time required great amounts of effort to move and supply, so this element of the army became increasingly important.

The Pososhnaya rat was a general labor service organized in 100's from rural inhabitants conscripted in time of need. Their services were especially needed when the grand duke laid siege to a fortress, since they did much of the work of building entrenchments and moving supplies to the scene of hostilities.(84)

The grand duke increased the size of his personal druzhina that was increasingly called his “dvor”. He began granting landed estates, “pomestie” on condition of military service to these warriors who were called dvoriani or deti boyarski. Later the term “pomestnik” came to mean anyone possessing one of these “pomestii”. As the grand dukes centralized power in their hands, the princes and boyars lost their independence and with it the independent role for their private druzhinas. The princes and boyars resisted the process militarily but could not match the grand duke in strength. The strengthening of the grand duke's dvor and the bringing of the other princes into his service greatly strengthened the state itself and the central government within the state. Military service was the chief duty of the princes, boyars, and dvoriani. By the end of the 15th century the boyars lost the right to leave the grand duke's service. Some princes and boyars attempted to escape, but the government took stern measures against this. The princes were required to swear loyalty and to take joint responsibility for each other. The character of service became regulated by the grand duke.(85)

The grand duke's army consisted of the lower ranking servicemen, the dvoriani and deti boyarski. The armies of the other princes became part of the state army. The difference between the Moscow and the other town deti boyarski was that the Moscow men ranked higher and received larger compensation. Before the 16th century the dvoriani were officially below the deti boyarski in rank, but while strengthening the central government the grand duke granted pomestii throughout the realm thus mixing the two categories of service people. The former servants of the princes became city dvoriani and the deti boyar title was kept in the future by the lower category of local service people.

The servicemen required a basis for material support that in view of the prevalent natural economy was obtained best from the landed estate with its peasant workers. To obtain land for pomestii the government confiscated land from private owners, the church, and from individual peasants. The government gradually stopped the practice of peasant movement from one area to another by limiting it at first to the two weeks after St. Yurev's day and then to the single day itself. But the peasant was only allowed to move if he lacked outstanding debts. Full serfdom did not come until the 17th century.

The duty of the pomestnik was to come at the call of the government armed with a horse. If he owned more than 50 hectares he was to provide an additional horseman for each 50 hectares. The organization of the pomestnik militia was a major step in increasing the size and strength of the army. It increased the power of the grand duke because he was the direct commander of the entire force. It chief disadvantage was that it assembled only at time of war. The assembly usually took place slowly. The members did not receive systematic training and they brought their own weapons that varied with the wealth of the individual. The members of the prince's druzhina had been well trained professional warriors selected for their superior skills and in constant attendance on their leader. On the other hand, they were free to serve whomever they chose. The pomestniki were soon busy with the operation of their estates and did not want to be distracted with the requirements of warfare. Their discipline and military organization were as poor as their combat skills.

The relationship of Moscow with the Tatars also changed in this period. The grand duke began enrolling Tatar princes in his service and granting them towns of regions to rule as his vassals. He also granted pomenstii to individual Tatar warriors. They formed a significant part of the Muscovite armed forces. The Mordvins also enlisted in service in special units of ski troops.

Along the southern border the Cossacks appeared in service as guards against Tatar raid. They were usually mounted but also served on the rivers in their strugi. Special border defense posts were established and manned by individuals conscripted for this service. In addition there were a variety of other special functionaries such as gate guards, smiths of various types, and other specialists.

Professor Razin estimates that in the 14th and 15th century the grand duke could muster 25-30,000 men in his force plus another 30,000 in the armies of the other Russian towns.(86)


The Russian army was organized into polki already in the pre-Mongol era.(87) These units consisted of the detachments of the various towns and princes. During the Mongol era the Muscovite army developed a more definite structure. Professor Vernadsky considers that military organization was one of the elements introduced into Muscovite society by the Mongols; a claim stoutly denied by Professor Chernov.(88) The English term best descriptive of the polk in not regiment but 'battle'.

The Mongol units were formed based on division into tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten-thousands. These same subdivisions were used in both the town militia and the polki of the grand duke. However, these designations were simply that, and did not correspond to the actual number of individuals in a unit. Thus although the chronicles say there were 200 thousand Russians at Kulikovo Field in 1380, the number of troops present was only about 50,000. (89)

The further organization of the polk was one of the main innovations of the 14th century. Each polk had a designated tactical function both on the march and in battle. The lead polk was the advance guard on the march and the first line formation on the battle field. On the march the right polk, main polk, and left polk followed in that order. In battle they formed the main line of battle according to their designations. The rear guard polk covered the rear of the army on marches and formed a reserve force in battle that gave the commander a valuable means of influencing the course of an engagement. The formation in three lines increased the depth of the battle position and added flexibility to the conduct of the battle.(90)

The polk structure was further developed in the 16th century with the addition of two special polks. The gosudarev polk consisted of service people of Moscow and was the Tsar's personal force. If he was not present on the battlefield they served in the other polks. Vasilii III developed the “ertaylniepolk that was a light cavalry detachment moving in front of the lead polk. Already in the 14th century the army had its reconnaissance detachments and guard detachments to locate the enemy and prevent surprise of the main force.

The division into polks became not only the campaign division but also the division into which the army formed at the time each individual syn boyarskie or dvorianin mustered into service. The Razryad Prikaz performed all the organizational functions. The word Razryad in ancient Russia had many meanings, it meant any painting, in military form it came from razryazhat, to distribute. Dimitri Donskoy razryazhal, distributed, his forces into polks at Kulikovo field. Later, the office that performed this function in peacetime with formally written orders used this name. The various soldiers were assigned to polks and sometimes given instructions on the route to take to the assembly point.(91)

The Razryad Prikaz had an important function in the consolidation and strengthening of the government.

The units from the towns and princes united at the meeting place or on the battlefield. By the first half of the 16th century there was the rule that the polks of each town or prince united for battle with the corresponding polk of the other subdivisions. In other words, the lead polks united, the main polks united, etc. This rule remained in practice until the middle of the 17th century. The polk had from 300 to 500 men and occasionally several thousands.

In matters of command the Muscovites differed from the Mongols. In the 13th and 14th centuries each appanage prince and even many boyars maintained their independence to such a degree that there was no unity of command. As the grand prince gained control over the state he was able to appoint the voevoda to command the various polks but during this period the feudal aristocracy could secure a measure of control in the institution of “mestnichestvo”. This was a strict order of precedence determined by family rank, which insured that no leader would have to serve under someone junior to himself. Only in times of great emergency could the grand duke secure a ruling that in the particular instance service would be “bez mesto”, that is without regard for precedence thus enabling him to appoint the best qualified individuals to command.


Here we reference several diagrams from Beskrovni's Atlas. {short description of image}We need to prepare a full text on this.


Please use this link {short description of image} to reach the extensive material we compiled on medieval Russian arms and armor



In order to understand the changes that occured within the Russian military during the 13th to 16th centuries one needs to consider the changes that also took place in their opponents. The military, economic, and political characteristics of the neighboring powers that confronted the Russians in the East, South, and West were transformed during these 300 years.

Mongol-Tatar armies

The original Mongol military forces of the early 13th century were highly disciplined, well trained at both individual and unit levels, extremely well led, with a superior tactical and strategic doctrine, and excellent arms and armor. When Chingis Khan was elected supreme leader in 1206 the Mongol soldiers and leaders had already been fighting practically constantly for generations in the typical back and forth small scale tribal warfare. While this certainly produced warriors of exceptional individual skill, it did not provide scope for learning to execute large scale warfare. Chingis Khan was to change all that. Among his first acts was to organize the army on a decimal system of 10, 100's, 1,000's and 10,000's and integrate the previously separate clans and tribes to break down separatism and rivalries. The smaller units were generally composed of members of a family or clan, but the larger units naturally contained members of several clans and tribes and even different races that previously would have been formed into separate units with all the tendencies toward desertion that implied.

He organized a special elite guard unit and created siege engineer and other specialized corps. The guard units were on continuous duty even during peacetime and formed the rapid response force available for immediate mobilization. The elite guard units were assigned to each of the princes of the blood as they divided the empire into their alloted areas. Frequently the prince would be commander of his own guard unit. Soon the princes sought to pass command on to their sons and this practice spread to the appointed commanders of the army divisions (1,000's and 10,000's). This undermined Chingis Khan's policy of promotion strictly on the basis of demonstrated merit.

The Mongol army was especially remarkable in its ability to absorb and integrate into its structure large numbers of Turkish and other nomadic tribesmen in quantities that far exceeded the numbers of Mongols. In some cases the result was army units composed almost completely of non-Mongols commanded by Mongol officers. By the time of the invasion of Russia in 1230-40 the Mongol-Tatar army had completed an additional 30 years of intensive combat. It is hard to imagine today what kind of “combat readiness” a army unit would have if it had already completed over 30 years of incessent, victorious warfare.

The Mongol empire was created and administered by its army. This was surely the finest military force in the world at that time. It was a cavalry army with extensive and effective engineers. The Mongols perfected the typical patterns of cavalry nomads as they had been practiced for centuries before them. Some earlier peoples had relied either on light cavalry armed with bow and arrow or on heavy cavalry using swords and lances. The Mongols used both. Vernadsky considers five key factors contributing to Mongol supremacy: their men and horses; their arms and equipment; their training; the organization of the army; and their strategy and tactics.(92)

The basis for all the steppe nomads' way of life, not to mention their armies, was their intimate connection with their horses. A farmer may learn to ride a horse. With considerable training a soldier may be taught to be a cavalryman. But a Mongol, Turk, Alan, Scythian, Hun, etc came into the world and lived practically as an extension to his horses. In addition, the Mongol was bred in an exceptionally harsh climatic and physical environment even in comparison with the other famous cavalry peoples. They could ride continuously and survive with little food. They carried dried meat and dried milk and a jug of water. They routinely relied on horses' milk and would drink their blood in emergencies. Their horses were as hardy as they were. The Mongol warrior naturally treated his horse with the care due to his life saver. On campaign he generally rode 3 or 4 horses alternately. The multitude of horses in a Mongol or Tatar armed force naturally contributed to the exagerated reports contemporary enemies gave of the size of their armies.

The light cavalry carried two bows and two quivers of arrows. The Mongol composite bow was quite powerful requiring a pull of at least 166 pounds and having a range of 200-300 yards.(93) The heavy cavalry used sabers and lances and carried also battle axes or maces and the lasso. The men wore linked ring mail or lamanated armor and helmet of leather or iron. The horses also were provided with leather covering for head, shoulders, and chests. The saddles were well built and they used short stirrups with legs drawn up to facilitate use of the bow.

The Mongols acquired both Chinese and Central Asian artillery composed of both high angle counterpoise machines and direct fire ballistas. These were prefabricated and portable. With the weapons came the experts to work them as well as engineers to build siege works and roads. Although of course the main body of a Mongol army certainly did not need roads.

As mentioned above, the Mongol child not only learned to ride at age three, but had to ride continuously as part of the daily nomadic existance. Use of the bow began at age three as well, since hunting was also a vital survival technique. Hunting took on an additional character as well in that it was considered essential training for combat and war against one and all was considered normal. Besides training for the individual young horse archer, hunting was officially highly organized and used for military unit training according to the military rules laid down in the Mongol law code.(94) The Mongol warriors had the highly developed senses of sight and hearing and intuitive feeling for terrain and weather common among nomads.

The Mongol army as organized by Chingis Khan was based on the system of tens mentioned above. The theater field army was deployed into three large formations: a center, right, and left wing. On the march the strategic formation would divide into two or more operational formations moving on separate axes. Each column was divided into the typical five tactical elements: main body, right and left wings, advance guard, and rear guard. (This along with the decimal organization system became the standard for the Russian army as well).

The strategic objective was to overwhelm the opposing military force as rapidly as possible. Important enemy fortresses that did not surrender were bypassed and left under survailence or blockaded by rear echelon troops while the mobile forces continued their swift advance. A wide reconnaissance screen preceded the entire strategic formation and each operational command had its own reconnaissance and security elements, making it very difficult to surprise a Mongol army on the march. Communications were maintained between elements by messengers and smoke signals.

Once the opposing main army was located, it was enveloped and surrounded in the same manner practiced in the annual hunting/training exercises. The tactical plan was a classic example of the combination of firepower, maneuver, and shock action. The first phase was to drive the enemy into a mass at which the rapidly moving horse archers could fire until the defenders were disorganized and demoralized. Then, if the enemy did not break and run, the heavy cavalry lancers would strike a blow at a critical point. If this did not suceed, or even more astutely, if an initial assessment of the enemy combat power as it appeared at the opening of the battle was unfavorable, then the Mongol army would execute its famous ruse in a well coordinated fake retreat to draw the opponents into an uncontrolled counterattack. Then the Mongols would create an ambush or turn and surround their disorganized pursuers. Tactical command and control was exercised through use of colored signal pennants and lanterns and special drums. After the battle the Mongol's were implacable in their pursuit of survivors. In several famous instances they spent months tracking down the enemy leader over hundreds of miles.

The army camp was well organized with tents always facing south. There were regular quartermasters to establish and provision camps and military police officials for both traffic control and maintenance of internal discipline. Discipline was strict and based on close attention to detail on the part of all officers. The officers were liable for even greater punishments for the faults of their troops. There were also well organized logistics and transportation systems to pre-position supplies along the operational axes and carry additional materials in camel caravans behind the main forces. However, the ability of the individual soldier and his horse to exist with minimal supplies greatly reduced logistic requirements. Considering that collecting booty was one important activity, the army generally was in the position of acquiring more supplies as it went, rather than of expending its resources. This was also true in the matter of personnel replacements for combat losses. While operating against other nomadic peoples the Mongols successfully incorporated the surviving fragments of the conquered nations into their armies and, while operating in settled areas incorporated captured people as infantry and laborers to be used in the sieges of the next cities.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the initial phase of Mongol campaigns was the thoroughness of planning and the exceptional level of strategic assessment that underlay these plans. They organized extensive intelligence networks using merchants and travelers. Spys reported on all aspects of the enemy society and the Mongol plans incorporated this information in their conception of total war. An assembly of the leadership discussed the war objectives and evaluated the available intelligence data. Careful allocation of supplies and locations of available fodder and grazing fields on the basis of intelligence and geographic assessments insured that the armies could traverse extensive distances without loss of combat effectiveness. A special feature of Mongol warfare was application of effective psychological warfare and agents of influence within the enemy camp. Deception and disinformation were widely practiced.

The invasion of Europe and with it Russia was extremely carefully planned and well thought out. It was but one of the several campaigns planned to be conducted simultaneously to the East, South and West, and not even the main one at that.

The Mongol Empire had already been divided among Chingis Khan's sons and brothers with the eldest, Juchi, receiving the western ulus. With Chingis and Juchi dead and Ugedey now the Great Khan the offensive to the west was left to Batu. According to the original distribution Juchi received only 4,000 Mongol troops. This body formed the core of Batu's army. With this core he then formed additional Turkish units from the various tribes living in his domain, under command of Mongol officers. This done it was clear that Batu's army alone would be insufficient to conquer all Europe. Therefore Ugedey levied assignments on the other relatives to loan forces to Batu for the campaign only. These detachments came under command of various sons and nephews of Ugedey's brothers and uncles. This is why Batu faced the problem later in the campaign of unusual political problems from these individual, many of whom considered themselves his equal. While Batu was the official commander, the military genius behind the campaign and director of operations was the professional general, Subudey.

With these reenforcements the Mongol part of the army amounted to about 50,000. The recruited Turkish cavalry and other auxiliaries including artillery and engineers probably brought the total theater force to 120,000 or more. At the same time, the wide expanse of the operational area and requirement to station troops in many locations meant that the combat strength at any one place and time was closer to the 50,000. For instance, the opening phase in 1236-37 included simultaneous operations against the Volga Bulgars half way up the Volga River and the Cumans between the Volga and the Don Rivers. Having destroyed the Bulgar capital in fall, Batu proceeded directly across the Volga and swept into Riazan in December 1237 and continued on to Moscow before turning back northeast to destroy Vladimir after a 6 day siege in February 1238. Then Subudai surrounded and destroyed the Russian army that Grand Prince Yuri II had assembled near the Volga in the battle of the Svit River. Thus it was only a part of the Mongol European Theater Force that smashed the Russian cities one after the other. And while all this was going on a separate Mongol Theater Force was dismantling previously considered impregnable Assassin castles in the Near East and moving on Damascus.

More than the excellence of their military institutions the Mongols of the initial period had an overwhelming advantage their successors did not. That was the dynamic drive imparted to their activities by their spirit of conquest in the pursuit of an universal imperial ideal. This ideal, imposed by the Mongol overlords on their unruly horsemen, is what differentiated them from the perennial nomad raiders whose principal thought was about booty. The Mongol Khans professed an ideology that sought to impose a universal peace by subordinating everyone to the service of their single state.

The Mongols turned away from Northwestern Russia because the combination of climate, terrain, and poverty of the area made the effort of further military operations seem unprofitable when they still had all of southeastern Europe waiting to be plucked. Besides they could always come back and exert enough pressure to force the remaining Russians to produce profitable tribute and conscripts. That they did not completely destroy Russian military power can be seen by the lessons the remaining Russian forces delivered to the Swedes in 1240 and the Teutonic Knights in 1242. Of course by 1242 the Teutonic Knights themselves had also felt the impact of Mongol arrows and lances, when they answered the summons of their overlord the duke of Silesia to Liegnitz where the combined Polish German army was routed on 9 April 1241 by a single Mongol corps.

After the death of Ugedey in December 1241 it took four years of political maneuvering to convene the kuriltay in Mongolia to elect his successor. During this time, even though the Mongols were not conducting extensive offensive campaigns, Russia fell under the “Tatar Yolk”. This can be seen by the attendance at this meeting of Yaroslav, the new Grand duke of Vladimir, who was the surviving brother of the former duke Yuri II and the father of the Russian hero of the 1240's, Alexander Nevsky. This must have been quite a colorful international gathering with the presence also of the Seljik sultan, Kilij- Arslan IV; the King of Georgia, David V; and the brother of the king of Little Armenia as well as the envoy of the Roman Pope Innocent IV.

Ugedey was followed as great khan by Guyuk and then by Mongka and in 1259 by Kubilay Khan. By this time the real unity of the Mongol Empire was broken, although the various successors continued for into the 1300's officially to recognize the supremacy of Kubilay and the following Great Khans. During this period the Mongol hold on Russia continued to be powerful, without recourse to further major military campaigns. Russian conscripts were sent regularly to serve in Mongol armies as far away as south China. An entire Russian division (10,000) was stationed near Peking in the 1330's. However the estrangement of Batu's successors as the leaders of the Golden Horde from their eastern and southeastern neighbors, especially the Mongol rulers of Persia, meant that few reinforcements were now available from them.

It is interesting that, after the initial offensive that was cut short in 1242 by Ugedey's death in 1241, the Golden Horde never returned to mount a major offensive into Western Europe. They contented themselves with maintaining their supremacy over the Russians and Lithuanians, but did not even bother the Hungarians. Instead they turned their attention to the Azherbaijan area of Transcaucasia over which they began a hundred year struggle with their fellow Mongols! This in itself is a poignant commentary on which they considered most economically and politically important, the grassland of the Kura River valley or the swamps and forests of northern Russia. It is also worth noting that they were able to retain their supremacy with minimal effort. They exploited the rivalry of the various Russian princes and merely sent some troops to support one against another. There were no further sieges or major battles required for over 150 years and even the famous battle of Kulikovo in 1380 was actually fought by only some of the Russian cities with active opposition of others against only the western part of the Golden Horde which was then in conflict with its eastern relatives.

The Mongol and Tatar armies were formed of the warriors sent from each clan and tribal organization. The army and its recruiting and mobilization system was organized in the decimal system. Thus a political unit called a 1,000 was the population group that was required to field 1,000 cavalrymen with their horses, but that did not mean it was actually 1,000 people. Vernadsky provides an estimate of the relationship of population to armed forces.(95) He assumes that the population of Mongolia at the time of Chingis Khan was about one million. This provided a maximum army numbering 129,000 troops or nearly 13% of the population. He considers this in line with other information on Chinese armies. Since this was a maximum effort, he believes that a figure of 10% of the population available as effective troops may be normal. This means that it took a population base of 10,000 to field one unit of 1,000 or a total of 100,000 nomads to mobilize a full tumen of 10,000. This ratio should be kept in mind when considering the number of warriors that might have been available for the Tatar khans in later centuries.

While the Kipchak armies were similar to the Mongol's there were significant differences. And there were major changes by the 15th -16th centuries. We plan on adding discussion of the specific nature of the armies of the Kazan and Crimean Tatars.


Ivan I (ruled 1325-1341) - {short description of image}

Summary of Reign

He allied with Tatars to prevent increase in Lithuanian influence in Russia, especially in Novgorod and Pskov. The Tatar support was purchased at the cost of heavy tribute raised by taxes. Ivan used military force against Novgorod and Pskov to keep them in line, but his greatest military operations were reserved for Tver, which he rightly saw as Moscow's chief effective rival. He used his wealth as well to add to the Moscow principality by purchase. Ivan suceeded in persuading the Tatar Khan, Özbeg, to bestow the title of Grand Prince of Vladimir on Moscow's prince rather than Tver's. While this was by no means permanent, it did greatly strengthen Moscow and lead to an eventual permanent connection. During Ivan's reign the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, Petr, moved from Vladimir to Moscow. The connection between the religious and civil government center had been established for over 300 years, so this move alone was a powerful stimulus for Moscow's ascendancy.(96)


Ivan goes to Pereiaslavl to gain support for his brother against Tver.

Ivan I goes to Novgorod to gain support for his brother against Tver.

Tatar Khan Özbeg gives yarlik as Grand Prince of Vladimir to Yurii Danilovich of Moscow.

Ivan goes to Sarai on behalf of his brother Yuri.

Özbeg changes title as Grand Prince from Yuri to Dmitrii Alexandrovich of Tver.

Dmitrii kills Yuri during confrontation at Sarai

Ivan travels to Sarai again

Özbeg executes Dmitrii for murder of Yuri

Özbeg appoints Aleksander of Tver as Grand Prince

Tver revolt against Tatars and kill ambasadors. Ivan went to Sarai and brought 50,000 Tatars commanded by Fedorchuk and Turalyk against Tver. Aleksander went to Pskov and Ivan followed. Aleksander was forced to flee to Lithuania. Konstantin made Prince of Tver. Novgorod supports Ivan.

Özbeg gives Ivan title of Grand Prince of Vladimir.

Ivan goes to Sarai again to obtain control of lands held by Aleksander of Suzdal.
Aleksander of Tver returns from Lithuania and becomes prince of Pskov.

Ivan attempts to increase taxes in Novgorod and is resisted. Ivan invades Novgorod land. Novgorod allies with Lithuania.

Ivan sends eldest son Simeon to marry Lithuanian princess but armed raids against Lithuania continue.

Ivan starts expedition against Pskov, but lack of support from Novgorod forces cancellation. Ivan attacks Lithuanian border towns instead

Alexander executed by Khan Özbeg and Konstantin restored to Tver

Ivan sends army against Novgorod to raise taxes.

Ivan joins Tatar troops in campaign against Lithuania at Smolensk and was defeated.

Novgorod appeals for assistance against Sweden and Livonian knights but Ivan Ivanovich as commander of army does not respond.

Campaign with Tatars to Smolensk

Ivan II Ivanovich (ruled 1353-1359) - {short description of image}

Summary of reign

During his relatively brief reign Ivan was unable to achieve the changes in policy orientation he desired. Merely by the circumstance that he received his father's inheritance from his older brother relatively intact and passed it on without the typical permanent division to Dmitrii Donskoi, Ivan unwittingly rendered a great service to the Moscow Principality. He was confirmed as Grand Prince of Vladimir by Khan Jani-beg in 1353 and again by Khan Berdi-beg in 1357.


Ivan reduces military operations against Lithuania.

Internal revolt and popular pressure force Ivan to resume conflict against Lithuania and return to alliance with Golden Horde.

Dmitrii Ivanovich (Donskoi) (1350-1389) - {short description of image}

Summary of reign

Dmitrii came to the throne in 1359 when Moscow's leading position among the Russian cities had been gained by his grandfather, but was not yet secure. He had to fight not only Tver, but also Suzdal, Nizhnii Novgorod, and Riazan within the immediate neighborhood. The overwhelming power of the Tatars remained a central factor and the rapidly growing power of Lithuania threatened to draw Novgorod and Pskov away from the Muscovite orbit. Dmitrii received and relied on extensive assistance from the church. He took an active part in seeing to it that his candidate would become the Metropolitan. Having the Metropolitan of the entire Russian church reside in Moscow was itself a continual source of ideological and economic support for the city. In addition, Dmitrii obtained political support from using interdicts proclaimed by church authorities against his rivals.

Dmitrii followed the traditions and policies of his forbearers. He continued to attract people to settle in sparsely populated regions in his domains. He also granted land to service people outside his personal domain. The Muscovite armies had a provincial and territorial base. This Dmitrii sought to strengthen so it would not rely so heavily on the system of dependent servitors. The city militia was not very important and even had difficulty in defending Moscow itself. The army was composed of the separate armies of the princes who would agree to participate in any particular campaign. Each of these independent armies was organized into the polki according to standard practice. Dmitrii sought to integrate them by joining the like polki from each subordinate army together to make the corresponding polk of the total army.

Dmitrii was barely able to hold on to the western frontier against the rapidly increasing power of Lithuania, but he was more successful in pushing the eastern frontiers of the Grand Principality of Vladimir down the Volga River into the Mordvin lands. He used whatever opportunities he had from internal dissention in the Golden Horde to withhold tribute and conduct an independent policy, but he was also realistic in submitting to the Tatars when it was clear that he lacked the power to do otherwise.

Dmitrii wrote in his final will that his son, Vasilii, should be succeeded as Grand Prince by his brother, Yuri, rather than by any future son. This gave Yuri a strong basis for conducting civil war against his nephew after Vasilii I died.


This was a period of internal conflict in the Golden Horde during which there were at least 25 khans. Dmitrii Ivanovich made use of this turmoil to strengthen Moscow.

Muscovite armies drive Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal out of Vladimir and Pereiaslavl.

Muscovite armies drive the Suzdal forces from Vladimir again and set up a supporting prince in Rostov.

Muscovite armies force Nizhnii Novgorod to take Dmitrii Konstantinovich as prince. Ivan Ivanovich died leaving his territories to Dmitrii.

Grand Prince Oleg Ivanovich of Riazan brings troops from Prinsk, Kozel'sk and Riazan to defeat Tatar raid.

Muscovite armies support Nizhnii Novgorod expansion eastward along Volga River against Mordvinian and Bolgar regions.

Ol'gerd of Lithuania supports Tver against Moscow.

Dmitrii Ivanovich and Vladimir Andreivich build first stone walls for Moscow kremlin in time to resist sieges by Lithuanians.

Dmitrii Ivanovich sends troops to support Novgorod and Pskov against Livonia and places his local official in charge in Novgorod. He also started attacks against Smolensk and Briansk and supported Vasilii Mikhailovich of Kashin against Mikhail for control of Tver.

Ol'gerd conducts surprise attack and siege of Moscow without success.

Dmitrii with assistance from Riazan attacks Briansk and Tver and forces Mikhail to flee to Lithuania. Ol'gerd brings Lithuanians and troops from Smolensk to besiege Moscow again, for eight days. Dmitrii commands the defense of the city while Vladimir Andreevich and the princes of Riazan led by Vladimir Yaroslavich of Prinsk lead field armies against the Lithuanians.

Mikhail attacks Kostroma and siezes several towns including Uglich. Dmitrii is busy with troops fighting Oleg Ivanovich of Riazan to install his cousin, Vladimir Yaroslavich as prince. Oleg regains the town with the aid of Tatar chieftan Murz Salakhmir.

Mikhail in alliance with Lithuania captures Dmitrov and urges the Lithuanians to attack Periaslavl. Ol'gerd musters his army to attack Moscow. Dmitrii sends a large army that defeats the Lithuanian advance guard at Liubutsk and then forces Ol'gerd to sue for peace. Both Oleg and Vladimir of Riazan support Dmitrii's campaign. Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal constructs stone kremlin at Nizhnii Novgorod.

Mikhail returns the towns and booty in exchange for his son, held by Dmitrii. The Tatars under Mamai raid Riazan, forcing Oleg to seek support from Moscow. 31
Vladimir Andreevich brings his troops from duty in Novgorod to defend the Oka River.

Ivan V. Veliamninov (the son of the last commander of the Moscow militia deposed by Dmitrii) and a Moscow merchant, Nekomat, defect to Tver.

Nekomat obtains title to the Grand Principality of Vladimir for Mikhail. Dmitrii then brings a large army of troops from Moscow, Vladimir-Suzdal, Briansk, Kashin, and the Oka river valley to attack Tver. Ol'gerd fails to support Mikhail and the Tatars also do not intervene. Mikhail agrees to a treaty subordinating himself to Dmitrii, but does not live up to it. Oleg of Riazan acts as mediator in this agreement to obtain support against Tatars.

Dmitrii attacks Rzheva to retaliate against Ol'gerd's attacks on Smolensk.

Dmitrii conquers Bolgar on the Volga and obtains tribute. The combined Muscovite - Suzdalian army is defeated on the P'iana River by Tatars and Mordvians who then sack Nizhnii Novgorod. At the same time the Tatars raid Oleg's capital at Pereiaslavl Riazanskii.

Dmitrii returns to devastate Mordvinian lands.

Tatars raid Riazan and then Dmitrii defeats Tatar army of Mamai on the Vozha River. The Riazan prince Daniil of Pronsk participates with Dmitrii. Mamai (a Tatar temnik) used these years to strengthen his control of the western part of the Golden Horde.

Ol'gerd's brother, Keistut, opposes Ol'gerd's son, Iagailo, for Lithuanian throne. Dmitrii sends army to Briansk in support.

Iagailo negociates with Mamai against Moscow, but is blocked from supporting by pressure from Keistut and the Teutonic Knights. Oleg of Riazan tries to play Tatars against Muscovites, but Tatars devastate Riazan anyway and drive Oleg across the Oka River, forcing him to abandon Dmitrii. Tver and Nizhnii Novgorod also remain neutral, but Novgorod sends troops in support. Dmitrii musters his forces against the Tatar threat.

Mamai marches north up the Don river valley. Dmitrii crosses the Don and meets him at Kulikovo Field. (The chronicles give 80,000 casualties on both sides.)
Battle of Kulikovo Field, 1380. - {short description of image}
The victorious Russian army is plundered by Lithuanians (or Riazantsi) on the way home.

Dmitrii sends his governor to Riazan driving Oleg out. Oleg agrees to subordinate himself and Riazan to Moscow.
Toqtamish reunites Golden Horde after killing Mamai. Dmitrii sends gifts. Dmitrii concludes treaty with Keistut.

Toqtamish favors Iagailo who drives Keistut out of Vilna and kills him. Toqtamish takes Russian vessels on Volga River and attacks Riazan and Nizhnii Novgorod. Dmitrii huriedly assembles troops but retreats to Kostroma. His family flees Moscow. The townspeople organize their own defense with leadership from a Lithuanian prince Ostei. Toqtamish with assistance from Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal tricks defenders into opening gates. The Tatars sack and burn the city killing abut 24,000. Toqtamish does not attack Dmitrii's army at Kostroma and Vladimir Andreevich defeats a Tatar detachment at Volokolamsk. Oleg attempts to divert the Tatars away from Riazan territory during this campaign, but fails with the result that his lands are devastated by both the Tatars and the pursuing Muscovites. Toqtamish returns to Sarai leaving Moscow in ruins and its prince greatly weakened. He demands the eldest sons as hostages from all the princes.

Dmitrii again attacks Riazan.

Dmitrii places heavy taxes on Novgorod to pay the heavy Tatar tribute.
Oleg attacks Kostroma while Dmitrii is busy with Novgorod. Oleg defends successfully against retaliation launched by Vladimir Andreevich.
Iagailo decides to marry Polish Queen, Jadwiga, rather than Dmitrii's daughter and convert Lithuania to Catholicism rather than Orthodoxy.

Dmitrii's son, Vasilii, escapes from being hostage at Sarai to Moldavia and then Lithuania.

Dmitrii makes peace with Riazan. Dmitrii's daughter, Sofia, marries Oleg's son Fedor of Riazan. Dmitrii sends large army to Novgorod

Dmitrii assists sons of Dmitrii Konstantinovich of Suzdal to take Nizhnii Novgorod. Rodoslav of Riazan escapes from Sarai and Tatars raid territory. Dmitrii arrests Vladimir Andreevich and his boyars to force them to recognize Vasilii as senior.

Dmitrii dies. Another Tatar raid against Riazan.

Vasilii I (1371-1425) - {short description of image}

Summary of Reign

Vasilii continued the effort of his father to balance the large external pressures from Lithuania and the Golden Horde against each other. He married the daughter of the Lithuanian leader, but threatened military actions whenever the Lithuanians tried to occupy his territories. He made the required journeys to Sarai to obtain the Tatar yarlik, yet gave them no more support than absolutely required. He was fortunate that the power of the Golden Horde was practically destroyed in 1395 by Tamerlane. He continued to encourage church recognition of Moscow as the principal city in Russia. He kept Moscow at peace as much as possible while building its economic strength and expanding territories through alliances with neighboring princes or their boyars. When he died in 1425, his eldest son had already died, so he gave his lands intact to Vasilii II. Unfortunately his heir was only ten years old. This and the will of Dmitrii Donskoi encouraged Vasilii's brother, Yuri Dmitrievich, to start what became the worst civil war in Muscovite history.


Tatar raid against Riazan.

Vasilii visits Golden Horde and obtains yarlyk for Nizhnii Novgorod. Prince Boris arrested and deported. Vasilii makes alliance with Vitvot and marries his daughter.

Vasilii seizes Torzhik (town belonging to Novgorod)

Oleg of Riazan decisively defeats Tatars. Oleg begins conflict with Vitovt of Lithuania. Both sides conduct campaigns against the other.

Continuing war between Riazan supported by Tatars and Lithuania.

Tamerlane defeats Toqtamish and reaches Yelets before turning for home.

Vasilii seizes Novgorod northern lands for two years.

Vasilii annexes Vologda, Ustiug, and Vezhetskii Verkh.

Tatar Khan Idiqu defeats Vitovt at Vorskla River. Prince Mikhail of Tver agrees never to seek Moscow throne. Oleg of Riazan also agrees.

Oleg with allies from Pronsk and Murom attacks Smolensk

Oleg sends his son, Rodoslav, to capture Briansk, but he is captured.
Oleg dies, ending Riazan's last effort to gain supremacy. Fedor Olegivich signs treaty with his brother-in-law, Vasilii I of Moscow, subordinating Fedor to the equal status with Vasilii's eldest brother Yurii. Fedor's daughter married Ivan Vladimirovich, son of the Prince of Serpukhov

Vitvot seizes Smolensk and Viaz'ma

Muscovite troops face Lithuanians without battle.

Muscovite troops again confront Lithuanians without combat.

Idiqu controls Golden Horde and makes surprise attack on Moscow. Vasilii I flees to Kostroma. Vladimir Andreevich defends Moscow. Tatars sack Rostov, Pereiaslavl, Dmitrov, Vereia, Serpukhov and Klin.

Muscovite troops face Lithuanians at Ugra River without battle.

Vasilii goes to Sarai to submit to Khan Jelal-ad-din and pay tribute.

CHAPTER SEVEN - REIGN OF VASILII II 1425-1505 - {short description of image}


The reign of Vasilii II as Grand Duke of Moscow began in 1425. During his reign there were three civil wars going on simultaneously in each of three areas that in turn were engaged in a three-way international war. In the west there was war between the various claimants for Lithuania and Poland, such as that between Michael, son of Sigismund, and Casimir IV, son of Iagailo. In Muscovy there was war between Vasilii II and his cousin, Prince Dmitri Shemiaka. In the east there was a three way war between various khans for the leadership of the Golden Horde. In addition, there were independent states such as Tver, and Novgorod, trying to take advantage where they could.

The three main states, Lithuania, Muscovy, and the Horde also engaged in an unending struggle to overcome each other. As part of their struggle, each switched alliances with the others to suit the occasion. It is in this setting that our chronology of the military history of Russia begins. It is admittedly a very confused period in which to attempt a beginning, but then any other period was confused, also. Leaving aside the military operations in the west and between Muscovy and Lithuania, we will mention only the main campaigns involving Muscovy and the Tatars during the 1400's to 1460's, as these are essential to a clear understanding of further developments. During this period Tatars associated with Muscovy founded the Khanates of Kazan, Kasimov, and Crimea out of the debris of the fallen Golden Horde and defined their basic structures.


During the winter a strong group of Tatars led by the Juchid Prince, Mustafa, attacked Riazan land. This group was from Sarai, where Khan Kuchuk Mahmed ruled the Horde. Grand Duke Vasilii II sent troops together with the Riazan Cossacks and Mordvinians on snowshoes, to aid the town. They destroyed the Tatar army.(97)

Khan Uleg Mahmed led his horde from Belev down the Oka River to Gorodets and besieged the Russian garrison.

During the winter, Uleg Mahmed attacked Murom. Muscovite troops under Vasilii II himself drove the Tatars off; yet, Vasilii could not relieve Gorodets, therefore the Russians abandoned it. Uleg Mahmed now sent part of his army under command of his sons, Mahmudek and Yakub, against Suzdal.(98)

July 7, 1445
Vasilii II arrived at Suzdal, and, not waiting for his own Tatar vassals, attacked the 3,500 Tatars with his 1,500 men. The Tatars won and captured Vasilii. This small battle had great lasting historical significance. The Tatar princes brought Vasilii II to their father, Uleg Mahmed, who moved the Tatar army toward Kazan. Meanwhile, Moscow prepared for the expected attack and mobilized the militia. Vasilii managed to gain the friendship of the Khan's sons, Yakub and Kasim. Khan Uleg Mahmed set Vasilii free for ransom, tribute, and certain favors. Then the Khan's own son, Mahmudek, murdered his father and took command of the Tatar army. He moved the force to Kazan and set up the new Khanate of Kazan in the fall of 1445.(99)

Princes Yakub and Kasim fled to the Circassian land on the Dnieper River. When Vasilii arrived back in Moscow, he expanded his policy of recruiting Tatar khans and princes to help him.(100) They were more loyal to him than were many Russians and were useful against his Russian enemies.(101)

Internal opposition, led by Prince Dmitri Shemiaka, deposed Vasilii II temporarily, but his supporters, with significant Tatar help from Yakub and Kasim, reinstated Vasilii. Vasilii then established the new Khanate at Gorodetz and made Kasim the Khan. Kasim and the other Tatar princes continued to support Vasilii in war with Dmitri in 1449, 1450, and 1452, as well as against other Tatars. Vasilii selected Gorodetz-on-the-Oka as capital for the new Khanate due to its strategic location on the approaches to Moscow, and to its being inhabited by Meshcherians and not by many Russians. Kasim received the town in 1452, and after his death, it was renamed Kasimov (1471). This was a master stroke that gained Moscow great Tatar support and political as well as military strength.(102)

Livonia waged serious war on Novgorod and tried to capture it. After 1448 there was little trouble from Livonia, which was at war with Poland.

Vasilii II used the considerable services of his Tatar Tsarevichi, Kasim and Yakub, against their brother, Mahmudek. They also gave valuable service against Dmitri Shemiaka and against the Tatars of the Golden Horde. Vasilii conducted a major campaign against Kazan. In the west, the Russians were on the defensive against the Teutonic Knights and Livonians.

Mahmudek's strong army sent against Moscow, lost in battle.

King Casimir gave support to Hajji Gerei, a Juchid prince living in Lithuania and a relative of Uleg Mahmed, to attack the Horde. Hajji Gerei seized the Crimea from Said Ahmed, Khan of the Great Horde, in retaliation for Said's support of Michael of Kiev against Casimir in Lithuania. The Gerei family ruled the Crimea until the late 18th century.(103)

Said Ahmed sent part of his Horde army against Moscow. Twenty miles from Moscow the Tsarevich Kasim and his Tatar troops defeated the Horde Tatars and recovered all prisoners and booty.

Vasilii II's army of Russians and Tatars blocked another Great Horde Tatar invasion of Riazan land by routing then on the Bitiug River.

Another Tatar invasion reached the walls of Moscow. The main army of Said Ahmed led the attack. On news of his approach, Vasilii II went north to raise more troops. The Moscow garrison had both artillery and handguns. The Tatars arrived on 2 July and burned the suburbs, but the defenders repulsed their assault on the citadel. During the night, the Tatars retreated.

Viatka had supported Dmitri Shemiaka against Vasilii II. Therefore, after his victory, Vasilii sent troops against Viatka, but the campaign was a failure.

Vasilii II led his armies against Novgorod, because the city had sheltered Dmitri Shemiaka after 1452. The Muscovite army under Prince Ivan Striga-Obolensky looted Rusa, causing Novgorod to send 5,000 cavalry in full armor armed with lances to defend the town. In the battle of Rusa the Muscovite archer cavalry shot the Novgorodian horses and routed their army. The new treaty forced on Novgorod by the Grand Duke was a serious blow to its freedom.

Vasilii renewed his attacks on Viatka and won a victory, after which Viatka pledged allegiance.(104) Soon after becoming the new Khan of the Golden Horde the same year, Ahmed attacked Periaslavl in Riazan territory. He attempted to restore the Russian tribute, but failed.(105)

Vasilii II died and was succeeded by his son, Ivan III.

CHAPTER EIGHT - REIGN OF IVAN III - 1462-1505 - {short description of image}

Summary of Reign

Ivan's initial major concern was to annex the city and territories of Novgorod. Not only was Novgorod increasingly drawing closer to Lithuania, but also its vast territories stretching to the Urals across northern Russia would make suitable pomestie estates with which Ivan could pay his troops. Vasilii II had defeated Novgorod in 1456 and imposed an onerous treaty. Novgorodians promptly tried to break the treaty when Ivan came to the throne. They sought even closer ties with Lithuania and appointed Mikhail Olelkovich, a Lithuanian, as their prince. Ivan conducted three campaigns to incorporate Novgorod in Muscovy. He then annexed the Permian lands north of Kazan and even managed to extend Russian power across the Urals to the Tobol, Irtyhsh, and Ob River valleys. By his annexation of Novgorod he surrounded Tver. Sensing the coming squeeze from Moscow, the ruler, Prince Mikhail, tried the same policy as Novgorod by appealing for aid from Lithuania, with the same result - invasion and annexation by Ivan III in 1485.(106) Ivan also faced the usual struggle for independence by his brothers within the Muscovite territories. They briefly tried the route of Lithuanian support without success. Before his death Ivan III managed to reunite into the personal domain of the Moscow Grand Prince all the territories granted by his father, Vasilii II, to his brothers except a small estate held by his brother, Boris.

To understand the basic cause of much of the difficulties faced by Muscovite and other Russian princes in the medieval period one must consider two basic policies then in legal force. One policy was the division of whatever territories a ruler had managed to acquire during his lifetime promptly on his death through his “testament.” There was no law of “primogeniture” or even custom of keeping the lands united as a state, since everything was considered the personal property of its ruler. The other policy was the free association of the many junior princes and the boyars with whomever they chose to serve. Shifts among these magnates could make or break the legal ruler of a small city. It is only with Ivan III and his son and grandson that the policy of association became a one-way street. That is princes and boyars were encouraged to switch from others to Moscow, but even a desire to switch the other way was considered treason. Ivan also began the process of chaining the free peasants to the land, since their labor was essential to make the pomiestie land granted to his serving troops of any value.

Ivan's policy toward the Tatars emphasized cultivating friendly relations with the Crimeans by emphasizing their mutual opponents - The Golden Horde and the Lithuanians. He also obtained the services of individual Tatar princes by giving them territories such as the Khanate of Kasimov. This policy enabled him to face the Horde Khan Akhmet to a standoff on the Ugra River in 1480 by using the Crimean Tatars to keep the Lithuanians from joining their Horde allies. The astuteness of this policy was demonstrated even more in 1502. While Ivan was deeply involved in offensive military action in Livonia and Lithuania, the Horde Tatars responded to Lithuanian cries for assistance and launched a rear attack on Muscovy, but the Crimean Tatars under Mengli Gerei intervened and delivered the final coup de grace to the Horde.

Ivan was especially successful in his careful policy of terrorism and guerilla warfare against Lithuania. His continual raids gradually induced the great boyars such as the Belskii's and Vorotynskii's to switch allegiance to Moscow. When Casimir IV died in 1490, Poland and Lithuania, which had been united under his personal rule of both, were again split. Ivan took full advantage of Lithuania's ensuing weakness to continue border warfare (all the while denying that he was doing so) until he was ready for full scale war in 1500. While his war with Lithuania was proceeding satisfactorily, the situation was complicated when the Lithuanians obtained assistance from the (German) Livonian knights. Ivan was able to defeat them also. Meanwhile, between 1490 and 1500 Ivan faced nearly continuous campaigning against the Swedish regent, Sten Sture, along the Finnish border and in Estonia. This conflict was essentially a draw when Sten Sture was deposed by John of Denmark and the war died out.

Ivan III's first move was a large reconnaissance in force to the northern Kazan area, the Cheremisian lands. From the northern towns of Ustyug, Vologda, and Galich, he traveled over the main attack route into the Kazan area via the Viatka River and the town of Khlynov. Simultaneously, Kazan retaliated with a raid on Ustyug.(107)

Khan Akhmet of the Great Horde decided to invade Muscovy, but en route on the Don River Crimean Tatars under Hajji Gerei attacked him. Preserving the hostility between the two Tatar states was a main point of Muscovite diplomacy.(108)

When Khan Mahmudek died, his son, Ibrahim, became Khan of Kazan. Mahmudek's widow married his brother, Kasim. In 1467 elements of the town population invited Kasim to Kazan, but Ibrahim refused to yield to his uncle. Ivan III was pressing for his vassal, Kasim, to replace Ibrahim. Ivan sent his army under the leading generals, Ivan V. Obolensky-Striga, Daniel D. Kholmsky, and Ivan Y. Patrikeev. The expedition failed. The army marched overland to the Volga, but there it faced a strong Tatar force. Low on supplies, the Russians retreated, after which the Kazan force raided Galich. Ivan strengthened his forces in all towns. Three months later, Ivan conducted another surprise raid. A large army under Prince Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky on 6 December 1467 left Galich in secret and marched on Cheremisia; they came near Kazan and conducted other raids on the Volga.

Campaigns against Kazan
Ivan prepared for a major campaign on Kazan. He went to Vladimir-on-Klyazma. There he summoned his brothers and the other princes, but after the preparations, he postponed the campaign and only conducted raids. Ivan asked Viatka for assistance but they refused. Instead he sent a major raid from Ustyug to Kazan. He also ordered raids from Nizhni-Novgorod against the west side of Kazan territory.(109)

Ivan conducted the major campaign on Kazan from the north and west along the routes previously prepared. Despite the care and preparation, the campaign was a failure. The two armies lacked communication with each other and with general headquarters. The first army, under the command of Konstantin A. Bezzubtsov, assembled along the river routes for transport by water. All towns and districts sent detachments, making this the largest Russian army yet seen on the Volga. The second army, under the command of Prince Daniel V. Yaroslavsky, marched from the north. Detachments from Vologda, Galich, and Ustyug sailed by river to Viatka. When the Viatka men would not join them, they lost the element of surprise and the expected strength. This warned the Tatars and foiled Yaroslavsky's attack. Therefore, Ivan canceled the western attack also. In spite of this, the western army advanced under the command of Ivan Runo. On 22 May the army reached Kazan after a three-day river cruise. They attacked the fortifications, freed the prisoners, and then withdrew to an island in the river for seven days. The Tatars attacked the island from the land and from ships. The Russians fought through the Tatar army to another island. Meanwhile, the northern army fought its way down the Kama River and then up the Volga River in a running battle with the Tatar ships. The western army and the northern armies returned to Nizhni-Novgorod.

Ivan sent yet another army to Kazan later in 1469, and this army was even larger than the previous one. It was a mixed force of cavalry and river-borne infantry. Ivan's brothers, Yuri and Andri the Elder, were the leaders. They arrived at Kazan on 1 September and besieged the city for 5 days, and cut the water supply. Ibrahim then surrendered and made a 9 year truce.(110)

First Campaign against Novgorod

In May, after making careful diplomatic preparations to isolate the city, Ivan III declared war on Novgorod. Novgorod had just signed a defense treaty with Casimir of Lithuania in February, 1471, but the Lithuanians did not come to the city's aid. Novgorod's hired commander then was Mikhail of Kiev. After a dispute in which Novgorod did not support Mikhail in his claim for Kiev, he left the city on 15 March 1471. Thus, Novgorod had to face the might of Grand Duke Ivan III alone. In June, three armies left Moscow; the first commanded by Princes Daniel D. Kholmsky and Fedor D. Starodubski-Pestry, and the second commanded by Prince Vasilii I. Obolenski-Striga included Tatar troops. Ivan commanded the third army himself and had with him his Tatar Tsarevich of Kasimov, Danyan. They left Moscow on 20 June. The Grand Duke secured the alliance of Pskov and Tver and Viatka as well. The Pskov army opened the war on 10 July with a series of skirmishes. Pskov also blocked the path of Casimir against his possible support of Novgorod.

Battle of Shelon River
Ivan went to Torzhok where he met the detachments of Tver and the armies of his brothers and cousins. The major battle occurred on 14 July at the River Shelon. The 40,000-man Novgorod army, largely composed of a civilian militia, was disorganized and uncoordinated. The 5,000 Muscovites routed the Novgorodians, killing 12,000. Details of the battle vary according to the different chronicles, but it seems that the Muscovites drew the Novgorodians into an ambush prepared by Danyan's Tatars. Another battle took place in the north on 24 July, when Ivan sent a force under Boris Slepets down the Northern Dvina from Viatka. This 2,970-man unit then faced the 12,000 men under the Novgorod professional commander, Prince Vasilii V. Gorgaty-Shuyaki. This battle on the River Shilenga was a defeat for Novgorod. The peace treaty allowed Novgorod some local autonomy, but in reality it placed the city under the Grand Duke. He used lenient methods to absorb the city gradually and reduce his enemies while gaining time to observe political conditions in the city.(111)

Ivan's force from Viatka sailed down the Volga to Sarai, sacked the town and escaped. This prompted a Tatar attack on Moscow in alliance with Lithuania. The Viatkans' agreement to help conquer Novgorod turned out to be their mistake, because the existence of an independent Novgorod had been the main bulwark to Viatkian independence.

Ivan's enemy was Lithuania, while the Crimea's enemy was the Great Horde. Therefore Casimir arranged a treaty of assistance with the Horde, and Ivan (in 1480) signed a treaty with Crimea.
In 1472, Khan Akhmet's Horde Tatar army neared the Oka River in June. Ivan had his armies and the armies of his relatives and the Tatars of Kasimov along the river, waiting. The generals were Ivan V. Obolensky-Striga, D. D. Kholmsky and Fedor D. Starodubski-Pestry. The Russian army totaled 180,000 and stretched along 150 versts of river front. The Tatar attack beginning on 30 July at Aleksin surprised the garrison, but the Russians held the Tatars to a small bridgehead until large reinforcements could arrive and force the Tatars to retreat. Akhmet had led his army far to the west, to Aleksin, instead of directly on Moscow via Kolomna to achieve a junction with the Casimir's army, but the Lithuanians did not show up, so the Tatars returned home.(112)

Ivan was negotiating an alliance with Mengli Gerei, Khan of Crimea, when the Turks invaded Crimea and seized the Khan. Akhmet then tried to get the Crimean throne, but the Sultan put Mengli back there in 1478. From then on Crimea was a dependency of the Ottoman Empire.


Second Campaign against Novgorod

After opposition grew in Novgorod, Ivan again invaded with a large army. On 30 September, he besieged the city using Tatar help. There was little resistance. His new treaty took all independence from Novgorod. The Novgorod veche bell was shipped to Moscow. Three hundred carts were used to carry the loot to Moscow.

Khan Ibrahim's (of Kazan) belief that Ivan's attempt to annex Novgorod had failed prompted him to send his army to capture Viatka. The siege lasted 4 weeks. The news of Ivan's final success at Novgorod reached Kazan and the Tatar army was recalled. Ivan replied with an army under Vasilii F. Obrazets and Boris Slepets, sent in the summer of 1480 on the Volga River.


War with Lithuania

Ivan began a border war with Lithuania, in which Moscow was the aggressor. The objective was to persuade the border nobles to change sides and bring their estates into Muscovy. Also, it was an effort to soften up the Lithuanian resistance. This war lasted from 1478 to 1489, and consisted of lightening raids by small groups to harass the local population and keep the defending forces mixed up. To achieve the main objective, fear, all forms of violence were used, including sometimes major military operations.(113)

Third and last campaign against Novgorod

Ivan again heard of rebellion brewing in Novgorod. He set out for Novgorod on 26 October with a detachment of 1,000 men, ordering simultaneously the mobilization of the rest of the army. He could not capture the town with the small force and had to wait for reinforcements. The city was besieged until 15 January 1480 when it surrendered. Ivan again deported many people, confiscated land from the Church and the people, and settled 2,000 Muscovite service people in the area.(114)

Ivan had barely finished with the revolt in Novgorod when his brothers revolted and besieged some Muscovite towns. He hurried home to deal with them. He agreed with them quickly because he was in need of their support against the Khan of the Horde who was preparing to attack Moscow. In April he signed a treaty of alliance with Mengli Gerei of the Crimean Tatars.

In August the Livonian Order attacked Pskov with 10,000 men and besieged Izborok and Pskov. The Livonians gave up the siege, but then Ivan's brothers came and caused much trouble for Pskov. Simultaneously the Horde Tatars were advancing on the Oka where they again hoped for a joint attack with the Lithuanians. In June they captured the towns near Tula. Ivan defended the Oka River line; with his brother, Andrei, at Tarusa and his son, Ivan Ivanovich, at Serpukhov and Ivan himself at Kolomna. Khan Akhmet moved west to go around the Oka line: therefore, Ivan also moved west. The rivers normally would freeze in October and no longer be useful as obstacles, so the Tatars waited in the area southwest of the Oka. Prince Ivan Y. Patrikeev prepared Moscow for a siege. Ivan III went to Kremenets, a good central spot for a main headquarters and reserve, from which he also could guard the west border against Casimir of Lithuania. On 8 October, Akhmet's army reached the Oka-Ugra River junction and tried to cross. The Russians held the river for 4 days with bows and arquebuses and cannon. On 12 October, Akhmet withdrew to wait for the river to freeze and for Casmir to come. He let his Tatars raid and pillage the upper Oka region, which Lithuania also claimed. Ivan opened negotiations with no result. Finally, his brothers arrived with their armies. When the Tatars withdrew, Ivan did also.(115) The river froze on 16 October. Akhmet retreated on 11 November anyway, since no help had come from Casimir. Ivan had sent his Tatar Khans and troops on a raid down the Volga to attack Akhmet's undefended capital at Sarai. Akhmet had to retreat to protect his rear areas. Nur Devlet and Prince Vasilii Nosdrevaty may have led this raid. During the same summer, Ivan sent raids on Kazan from Viatka and Ustyug. Mengli Gerei led large Crimean Tatar raids into Podolia that prevented King Casimir from helping Akhmet.

While on his way home, Akhmet was ambushed on 6 January 1481 by 1,000 men of Khan Ivak of Tyumen (Siberia) and 15,000 Nogai Tatars under Musa. Ivan III appreciated the work of Ivak and his Siberians.(116)

Ivan always liked to strike a blow at his enemies without using his own troops, therefore he urged Mengli Gerei to attack Lithuania again. The result was that on 1 September 1482, the Tatars sacked Kiev and destroyed completely eleven more towns. All inhabitants were killed or taken prisoner. The traces of the sack of Kiev lasted 40 years. Casimir reacted by sending 10,000 men to Smolensk and 40,000 more to the southern regions to restore the fortifications.

At Kazan, Ibrahim died and was succeeded by his son by a junior wife, Ali. The Khanate populace split; some supported Ali and some supported Mohammed Amin, Ibrahim's son by his chief wife, Nur Sultan. Nur Sultan was the daughter of Prince Temir of the clan Mangkut, therefore, a descendent of Chingis Khan. Ivan used this split with his usual Oriental cunning. He offered support to both sides to widen the strife. The result was that both sides were ready to support Moscow. The first clash came in 1482 when Ivan sent his main army to Vladimir. The generals and Aristotle Fioraventi, the specially-imported Italian chief of artillery, then went on a reconnaissance to Kazan where Ali Khan swore allegiance to Moscow.(117)

Campaign against Kazan

Ivan again sent his army to Kazan where he seized the city and put Mehemmed on the throne instead of Ali. The same year the Turks captured the Moldavian port, Chilia, on the Danube and Cetatea Alba on the Dniester. By 1484, Casimir had renewed his ties with the remnant of the Great Horde. For its part the Great Horde, under Murtaza, the son of Akhmet, invaded the Crimea in 1484. Mengli Gerei arrested Murtaza and sent him to the Turks, then Mengli attacked the lands of Temir, the father of his future wife, Nur Sultan, and dispersed Murtaza's army. Later, Temir and Akhmet's other son, Mahmud, attacked Mengli and rescued Murtaza. Mengli fled to the Turks. The sultan reinstated him.

Ivan III used his own Tatar troops to help Mengli at this time. He also sought an agreement with the Sultan against their mutual enemies. During the period 1495-1492, the struggle between the Crimea and the Great Horde continued. Under pressure from the east, the Great Horde moved westward from the Volga to the Donets River, ready to attack the Crimea and Russia.(118)

Ivan sent a force led by Nur Devlet, the brother of Mengli Gerei, against the Horde. The same year Ivan's main army went to Kazan again and reversed the procedure, taking Mehemmed off and putting Ali back on the throne. The people again restored Mehemmed to the throne, but this time Ali returned with an army of Nogai Tatars and forced Mehemmed to flee to Moscow later in 1486. The Viatkans raided Ustyug, a Muscovite town.

The Horde stayed near the Donets. Temir withdrew from the Horde with his troops when his daughter, Nur Sultan, married Mengli Gerei. Ivan again sent an army under Nur Devlet to attack the Horde, but no action took place. The Horde finally attacked, but into Lithuania, not Crimea or Moscow. This was due to the urging of the Sultan, who desired to prevent a Polish attack on the Turks in Moldavia. The Horde spent 2½ years in the west attacking the Poles. In these battles the Horde lost its best troops and did Ivan's and Mengli's work for them.
On 8 September 1487, Casimir's son, Jan Olbracht, met the Horde Tatars at Kopystrin near Moldavia. The Tatar raiding party was routed, but the rest of the Horde continued forward and settled in western Podolia.

Campaign against Kazan
In 1487, when Mehemmed Amin's mother, Nur Sultan, married Mengli Gerei, Khan of Crimea, and Ivan's ally, Ivan settled on Mehemmed as his candidate at Kazan. The Tsar sent four generals, Prince Daniel D. Kholmsky, Alexander V. Obolensky, Semen I. Ryapolovsky, and Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky with their armies to Kazan on 11 April 1487. The main body was the usual cavalry and river-borne infantry. It reached Kazan on 18 May. The Khan surrendered on 9 July and was taken with his family to Moscow, and then to Vologda. Mehemmed Amin returned to the throne and Ali's supporters were executed. The military victory was overwhelming, but it was not in Moscow's interest to annex Kazan at that time. It was better to use a supportive khan there. Mehemmed officially was an equal to the Grand Duke, but actually he was subordinate and sent his army to help Ivan whenever asked. Also, Moscow was strengthened with the Siberian Nogai Tatars under Khan Ivak. Ivan agreed to Mehemmed marrying a daughter of Musa of the Nogai Horde.(119)

Political theorists used Ivan's installation of Mehemmed Amin to generate Moscow's legal claim to Kazan. This interpretation appears in the chronicles, persisted into the 19th century, and is repeated by Soviet historians.(120)

Ivan conducted a major raid into the border areas of Lithuania. He divided the frontier into sectors, each under the command of a voevoda who conducted the raids. Lithuanian defense was vigorous and included raids on Muscovy, but the Muscovite tactics were successful. By the end of 1489, three more princes changed sides and brought their states, troops, boyars, etc. into Muscovy. At the same time Ivan sent an army against Viatka because the town did not support him at Kazan.

Campaign against Viatka
1489 Ivan sent a strong army under Daniel Shchenia with troops from Tver, Ustyug, and Novgorod and 700 Kazan Tatars against Viatka. On 16 August 1489, the Muscovite army arrived at Viatka and the town surrendered. All citizens were deported. It is fitting that some towns which Viatka had helped Moscow to subdue sent detachments to participate in its final demise. The same year Jan Olbracht drove the Horde back across the Dnieper.

The Horde Tatars returned to Poland and reached Lublin the next year. In the spring, while the Horde was regrouping from their expulsion from Podolia, Ivan attacked them with Tatar and Russian troops under Nur Devlet's son, Satilghan, but again no battle took place 1490. Consequently, during 1490, the Horde was essentially unmolested. Sultan Bayazid did not want enmity between Tatar groups to continue because he needed their help in Vollynia that year. He therefore helped arrange a peace in September 1490. No sooner did Mengli disband his Crimean army than the Horde attacked the Crimea. Mengli retaliated during the winter of 1490-91. During 1490-91, Ivan continued the border war with Lithuania. When Casimir complained, Ivan pretended ignorance. The Tatar khans often pretended ignorance about the raids of their subjects also. In 1490, the Nogai asked Ivan for an alliance against the Horde. He accepted and agreed for Mohammed Amin to marry a Nogai and for Mohammed's daughter to marry a Nogai murza.

While the main Horde force attacked the Poles, Mengli raided their fortified base on the Dnieper. Sultan Bayazid sent 1,000 Janissaries to Crimea to help Mengli. The Sultan was furious at the Horde for breaking the peace he arranged and for disobedience.(121)

Polish army defeats Horde

On 25 January the Poles defeated the Horde at Zaslavl'. Ivan and Mengli were delighted to watch one enemy destroy the other. Despite the defeats, the Horde, during the summer of 1491, massed north of Crimea, ready to invade. Murtaza went to Astrakhan to get Nogai help. The Khan of Astrakhan, Abdul Kerim, was Murtaza's uncle, so his army came west to help the Horde. Mengli asked Ivan for help. Ivan, in June 1491, sent a combined army south; the first army left Moscow on 2 June. The Tatars were under Satilghan and the Russians were commanded by Princes Petr Obolensky and Ivan Repnya-Obolensky. The second army left Kazan on 8 June. It was composed of Kazan Tatars under Mehemmed Amin's generals, Abash Ulan and Burash Seyyed, and of Russian troops from the Kazan area. Ivan's brothers' troops formed the third army. The troops of both Andrei and Boris were called for, but only Boris obeyed. The entire force met in the steppe, south of the Oka. The Horde dispersed, and Seyyed Ahmed and Sheykh Ahmed realized that they could not face such a large army. Sultan Bayazid ordered Murtaza to move the Horde away from the Crimea.

The Russians defeated the Khan Kerim of Astrakhan. In November 1491, Mengli Gerei told Ivan that the Horde was no longer a threat. Casimir did the main work by defeating the Horde in Podolia. This untied the hands of the Crimean Tatars.

The result of Ivan's skillful diplomacy and show of force was the elimination of the Horde with no Russians wasted or material lost. First, the Kazan Khan was a vassal. Second, the Great Horde was defeated and scattered. Third, the Nogai Tatars were coming under Russian influence. Fourth, the Crimean Tatars were loyal allies prepared to help in the main war against Lithuania.(122)

The Siberian Tatar, Ivak, and his brother, Mamuk, Khan of the Uzbeks, and his brother-in-law, Musa, and Yamgurchu of the Nogais all attacked Astrakhan together but failed to capture the town. They also pressed on Kazan annually after 1492. Their base was Tyumen in Siberia. Ivak died and Mamuk became Khan and increased the pressure on Mehemed Amin of Kazan.
In June, Casimir died; the new Grand Duke of Lithuania was Alexander. Moscow immediately began heavy raiding pressure on his lands.(123)

Ivan III tried again to get a treaty with the Sultan Bayazid II, or at least an understanding that he would aid Moscow by opposing Poland. The Muscovites considered the Latins worse infidels than the Moslem Turks. Moscow was careful and correct in dealings with the Turks because it needed Turkish friendship, since the Turks controlled the Crimean Tatars, who were Moscow's chief allies.

Mengli Gerei built a fort at Tyaginka, 20 miles up the Dnieper from the Ingulets River, to aid in his attacks against Lithuania. In the fall, Mengli began raids into Podolia, but Ivan was not happy about the Crimean fort at Tyaginka, as Moscow had designs to take the area to itself eventually. Ivan requested Mengli to stop building the fort.(124) Ivan himself built a fortified town, Ivangorod, on the Narova River opposite Narva.

The Crimean Tatars launched new raids on Lithuania from Tyaginka in the spring. By fall they had sent three major expeditions north; then Lithuanians attacked and destroyed the fort at Tyaginka. This made Mengli Gerei so angry, he led the next raid in person, bypassing Kiev and striking deep into Podolia. He rebuilt Tyaginka during the years 1493-96, while continuing the raids into Poland. Ivan III wanted Mengli to reduce the scale of his raids during this period as Moscow and Lithuania discussed a treaty and on the prospective marriage of Ivan's daughter, Elena, to Alexander.
The Starosta of Cherkasy, Prince Bogdan Glinski, led a Cossack raid on Ochakov at the behest of Lithuania.(125)

The Tatar raids on Lithuania continued as did the border raids conducted by Moscow.

Truce with Lithuania

Ivan III concluded a truce with Lithuania and married his daughter Elena, to Alexander. Ivan entered an alliance with King Hans of Denmark to attempt to break the hold of the Hanseatic League on the Baltic and to protect against the power of Sweden.

Campaigns against Sweden

In June a small Russian reconnaissance force entered Swedish Finland. In September three Russian armies from Moscow, Pskov, and Novgorod attacked Vyborg. The commander was Prince Daniel V. Shchenya. After a three month siege using cannon against the walls, a breach was made, but the attack was repulsed. On 4 December, the siege was lifted. The Swedish king, Sten Sture, sailed from Sweden with a relief army on 25 November, but by the time he reached Turku, the siege was over. Ivan sent a second army under command of Prince Vasilii I. Patrikeev and Andrey F. Chelyadnin to ravage the land around Korelia on Lake Ladoga. The army then went into eastern Finland and by February 1496, it reached Aby (Turku). The Swedes went out to meet the Russians, but the Russians retired, being content to burn and destroy. On 6 March 1496 the Russians returned to Novgorod.(126)

In the spring, a third Russian invasion was launched into northern Finland with units from Ustyug and the northern Dvina area. They crossed the White Sea to the Kola Peninsula and then went to the north of the Gulf of Bothnia and captured many people and ruined the area. By July, they reached the towns near Vyborg and burned them. The Russians then returned to Moscow.

Swedish sack of Ivangorod

Sten Sture decided to use his 40,000-man army to retaliate, choosing Ivangorod as the target. On 19 August 1496, the Swedes surprised the garrison with a force of 2,000 men and 70 ships by sailing up the Narova River and bombarding the town with cannon and arquebus fire. They sacked the town and killed or took the people prisoner. The Swedes left before Russian relief forces could arrive. In August, the Russian army prepared to attack Sweden. Many generals were called to the colors, including Daniel V. Shchenya, who was designated commander-in-chief. He received four polki, the Great, Leading, Right and Left, but the army did not enter battle as news from Kazan arrived in September 1496, indicating that a coup had just occurred. The units were withdrawn for use in the east.(127)

In Kazan, the trouble arose due to both internal revolt and outside intervention. The Siberian Tatar Khan, Mamuk, was not content to rest on his previous victories. He attacked Kazan in alliance with the Nogais. Mehemmed Amin appealed to Ivan for assistance. Ivan sent the senior general, Semen I. Ryapolovsky, with an army from Murom and Nizhny Novgorod to deter Mamuk from approaching Kazan. By September, Mehemmed thought the danger was past and sent the Russians home, but immediately on learning of this, Mamuk attacked and Mehemmed had to flee to Moscow.

Mamuk seized Kazan with no trouble and immediately began to loot the city. The Kazan leaders and people realized their mistake in supporting such a tyrant, and while Mamuk was out of the city attacking Arsky Gorodok, they closed the city against him and requested Ivan III to send Abd-al-Latif (Mehemmed's brother) as the new Khan.

In Moscow during November and December 1496, Ivan prepared for a spring campaign to Kazan. He appointed Prince Semen I. Ryapolovsky to command the river army and Prince V. I. Patrikeev to command the cavalry army. The plan was to leave in April 1497, but in early 1497 Ivan learned of Kazan's request, therefore he disbanded the army and sent Abd-al-Latif with two generals, Semen D. Kholmsky and Fedor I. Paletisky, to Kazan, which they reached in May. Mehemmed received rich lands near Serpukhov and the dues and taxes of the area, so Mengli Gerei and Nur Sultan were satisfied with Ivan's solution of the problem. But Abd-al-Latif turned out to be just as unpopular in Kazan as Mehemmed had been. After 1497 the Kazan rulers were unreliable, but a show of force was sufficient to keep things in order there. The Russian army was well equipped and trained for action at Kazan.(128)

In March the Russian and Swedish governments signed a six-year truce. In July King Hans of Denmark invaded Sweden with 30,000 men and defeated Sten Sture. In November Hans became King of Sweden, but he refused to cede to Russia the border areas that he had previously agreed to cede.

A major Polish campaign against the Turks in Moldavia in which 80,000 Poles and the Lithuanians participated began in 1497. The Lithuanians were forced out of the war by Ivan and Mengli Gerei and after that sent only a part of their army to help the Poles. In August the Poles invaded Moldavia but were unable to capture Suceava and were defeated by King Stephen in Bukovina. During the winter of 1497-8 Alexander sent the Lithuanian army against the Tatars at Tyaginka but the Lithuanians lost the battle and retreated.(129)

In Kazan, the leaders again plotted with the Nogai Tatars and Siberians to replace Abd-al-Latif. A Turkish army of 40-60,000 retaliated against Poland and invaded, due to the requests of Stephen of Moldavia and Mengli Gerei for aid. The Turks reached Rado and Warsaw by July and then returned home with 10,000 prisoners. By November, a second Turkish army invaded Poland but was forced back by early snows.

Ivan sent the usual riverine and land armies to defend Kazan from the Nogai and Siberian Tatars. The army under command of Princes Fedor I. Bel'skii and Ivan Alexandrovich of Suzdal again chased the Siberians away. Meanwhile, Ivan sent troops to threaten the Swedish border. He also agreed with Mengli Gerei on a division of the Ukraine, with Ivan to get Kiev and Cherkass.(130)

War against Lithuania

Ivan III was now ready for his war on Lithuania, having made careful and extensive preparations. His allies were ready and the frontier area suitably weakened. Ivan took all precautions to be sure the war would be successful. The official cause of the war was the religious persecution of the Orthodox population of Lithuanians including Ivan's daughter, Elena. Semen Ivanovich Bel'sky and other leading nobles changed sides in favor of Ivan in 1500, just in time to be on the right side. The first campaign was carefully planned and carried out smoothly as a three sided attack.(131) The first army under Yakov Zakharevich Zakharin moved on 3 May up the Oka River from the south to capture Bryansk, the key to Novgorod-Seversk and Chernigov. The second army under Turi Azkharin went west from the central area to capture Dorogobuzh on the Smolensk road without a battle. The third army was in reserve in the north and then moved to capture Toropets.

Alexander concentrated on defending Smolensk. Ivan sent reinforcements from Tver and moved part of the southern army to the center. He named Daniel Shchenya to be the new central commander and assigned some southern princes to the center great polk. Yuri Zahkarin received command of the guard polk at which he complained about being demoted. This was an example of Mestnichestvo in practice.(132) Daniel Shchenya was one of the ablest generals of the period, a descendent of Gedymin. He became the leader of the Boyar Duma under Vasilii III.(133) But according to Mestnichestvo Yuri Zakharin outranked him, therefore Ivan had to make special provision for this assignment. On 14 July at the river Vedrosha, Shchenya won a long and bloody battle over the Lithuanian army commanded by Ostrozhsky. The Lithuanian army was destroyed, its commander and many officers were captured, but the Russians also had heavy losses and did not try to take Smolensk.(134)

At the same time the Nogai Tatars attacked Kazan. Russian troops under command of Princes Mikhail Kurbsky and Petr S. Ryapolovsky-Loban helped defend the city for Abd-al-Latif. In the west, while the second army regrouped, the first and third armies attacked deeper into Lithuania. On 6 August Yakov Zakharin captured Putivl and the third army under Andrey Chelyadnin captured Toropets. By the end of the summer, the campaign was over and Moscow had large gains.

In the spring, the Horde moved west from the Volga and united its forces at the junction of the Don and Medveditsa Rivers under Akhmet's two sons, Sheykh and Seyyid. They were planning to join Alexander with 20,000 Tatars, so they moved on up the Don to the Tikhaya Sosna River. In June they built a fortress as a base of operations. By April, Mengli Gerei already worried about the Horde. He had sent troops against Lithuania, but now he thought the Horde was preparing to attack Crimea, so he withdrew from Lithuania and moved to meet the Horde. Then he found out that they were moving against Moscow, so he decided to let Ivan do the fighting. He sent Ivan word of the Horde and asked for 1,000 men and cannon in boats on the Don and for 10,000 cavalry. In July Mengli reached the Tikhaya Sosna and found the fortress on the west bank. He built a fort on the east bank and then, after a skirmish with the Horde, took his 25,000 men back to the Crimea. Ivan sent an army south before he heard of Mengli's departure. The Muscovite commanders were Mehemmed Amin and Prince Vasili Nozdrovaty. Besides their own troops, they had the armies of Nur Devlet and the Riazan princes. They sailed down the Don and found both forts empty. Sheykh Ahmed had moved on to Rylsk and Mengli was back in Crimea.

On 1 August the Muscovite first army moved north, entered Pskov and waited three weeks for the Livonian attack. Then on 22-24 August, both Moscow and Pskov armies set out to meet the Livonians, commanded by Von Plettenberg. On 27 August the battle took place on the Serika River, 7 miles from Isborsk. The German artillery overcame the Russians who had been doing well until the artillery opened fire. It was a major defeat for the Russians, who fled to Pskov. The Livonians then besieged Izborsk with artillery, but could not capture the town. They did capture Ostrov, 30 miles from Pskov, and ravaged the area, destroying the town and taking many prisoners. On 8 September the Livonians returned home.

By August Sheykh Ahmed was on the border near the Seym River. Moscow sent additional forces south and engaged them in a series of battles into October. Ivan asked the Crimeans for help but received no reply. However, the Muscovite armies were successful in driving the Horde Tatars off and by November had moved on to the Smolensk front. The Horde went on to the upper Donets for the winter. By this time, the Horde army was in very poor condition, morale was poor, and shortages of fodder and food were increasing, causing many desertions. In December Sheykh Ahmed asked Ivan for peace and Seyyid Ahmed asked for asylum. In December the Nogais also asked for peace.(135)

There were two Crimean invasions of Lithuania that went deep into the country, bringing much destruction. The first army reached the Vistula River and Lvov and Lublin and then returned in July. Then in August the second expedition of 15,000 Tatars reached Brest and western Poland beyond the Vistula. In August Ivan asked Mengli for a joint campaign against Smolensk. Mengli preferred a joint action against Kiev, therefore the result was that no combined actions took place.(136) The same year Alexander managed to get an agreement with the Great Horde in November in which they undertook to block the Crimeans.

Alexander became King of Poland on the death of his brother, Jan Albrecht. His plan for 1501 was to have the Nogai Tatars attack Kazan and the Livonian Order attack Pskov to keep Moscow busy while a Lithuanian and Great Horde army attacked the Seversk region to recapture the lost towns. Alexander held the initiative in 1501, putting Ivan on the defensive. Alexander planed and timed his moves well but executed them poorly. Ivan's caution in not rushing on Smolensk in 1500 was fully justified.(137) Ivan planned to launch another three-army attack on Smolensk and a Tatar raid in the Lithuanian rear areas. The Livonian Order attacked Ivangorod in March with a small raiding party. Moscow expected further attacks and prepared defenses and alerted troops. They remained in waiting all summer.

The first Muscovite army started out in April to invade Lithuania. It was a relatively small force with junior commanders. The Great polk commanders were Prince Daniel Penkov and Mikhail Kurbsky-Karamysk. The Lead polk commander was Prince Vasilii V. Shuysky-Nemoy, and Princes Ivan and Peter Borisovich commanded the right and left polki. The second army moved south from Novgorod under the very experienced general, Prince Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky. The third and main army was in reserve at Tver under nominal command of Ivan's son, Vasilii, with Prince Daniel V. Shchenya as his advisor. Yet, Ivan cancelled preparations due to the pressure of the Great Horde on Crimea and/or the Nogai siege of Kazan.

In September the southern army marched on Mstislavl and on 4 November met the main Lithuanian army under command of Astaby Dashkovich and Mikhail Zheslavsty. The Muscovites won the battle, killing over 7,000 Lithuanians and taking many prisoners. They did not beseige the town as their objective was to destroy the Lithuanian army to facilitate further operations.

The Muscovite reaction to the Livonian attack came in November. A large army assembled under the most experienced of all the voevodi, Prince Daniel V. Shchenya, plus other good generals. The huge army included troops from Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov, Tver, and the Tatar Tsar and his men. The Livonian main force was at Dorpat and Helmed. On 24 November the Russians attacked. The German artillery was effective, but the huge Russian force overwhelmed them. The German army disintegrated, after which the Russians destroyed the towns of eastern Livonia, even up to Revel and Narva. In all, about 40,000 people were killed or captured, but no territory was taken.(138)

The strategic initiative again went to Moscow. All the Muscovite efforts focused on the capture of Smolensk. Even Polotsk and Kiev were ignored, but Ivan failed and thus had a major setback. In the spring, the remanent of the Horde left winter quarters and moved west to the Dnieper north of Kiev. The Sultan had ordered them to cross the Dnieper, but Sheykh refused, as he would have found too much danger west of the Dnieper. The Horde then moved south on the Dnieper to the mouth of the Sula River. Sheykh murdered the Turkish envoy to the Horde. Mengli Gerei set out after the Horde in May and caught it on 6 June. The Horde was destroyed but Sheykh Ahmed escaped, only to be captured by Lithuania and used unsuccessfully in various threats against Crimea.

The Russian order of battle for 1502 gave nominal command to Ivan's third son, 21 year old Dmitri. The real commanders were the experienced generals, Princes Vasilii D. Kholmsky and Yakov Zakharin. There were also 13 other princes, including the Mozharysky, Shemyachich, Bel'ski, Byazanski, Rostovski, etc. The commander of the lead polk was Prince S. I. Starodubski; commander of the right polk was Prince Fedor B. Polotaky; commander of the left polk was Prince F. I. Ryazanski; and commander of the guard polk was Ivan Borosovich. The campaign began on 14 July and lasted 3 months, including a fierce battle at the siege of Smolensk, but no details survive in the accounts. The armies of Ivan's son, Vasilii, and the Tatar Tsars (Khans) of Kasimov and Kazan were in reserve in case Alexander came to Smolensk with a relief army. The Russians raided the area and sacked Orsha but Smolensk held fast. Ivan asked for the aid of the Crimeans and Mengli sent his army under command of his sons, Feti Gerei and Burnash Gerei. The Crimeans left on 28 July with 90,000 men but despite Ivan's requests, went far west and did not help at Smolensk. They crossed the Dnieper at Tavan and in August camped near the Dnieper. In September they set off for Poland. This was one of the largest and most widespread of Mengli's attacks. The main target was Volhynia and Galicia. The Tatars attacked L'vov, Lublin, Bratslav, and beyond Cracow and arrived home on 8 November with large numbers of prisoners. They claimed the area toward Smolensk was too wooded and dangerous of ambushes for their huge army. The Tatar attack did deter Alexander from going to Smolensk, so it did save Ivan the trouble of sending in his reserves. Alexander had to send 30,000 men to Lutsk to defend it from the Crimeans, and the Tatars also kept the Polish troops busy, but there were no major battles in the raid. The Russian army in the north, in the Novgorod area, was unable to help at Smolensk. In spite of Shchenya's successful campaign of 1501 and the destruction of the German army, the Germans prepared another army and started a campaign in March 1502. The Livonian Order attacked Ivangorod and then raided the southern part of Pskov land. This tied down a large Russian force all summer. On 2 September during the siege of Smolensk, the Germans (Livonians) attacked Izborsk for a day and then began a siege of Pskov on 6 September. The same Muscovite army as in 1501 came from Novgorod under command of Shchenya. The Germans retreated but Shchenya moved fast and caught them in 11 days from the start of his campaign at Lake Smolino. The battle was indecisive; both sides lost heavily and withdrew. The Germans claimed a small victory. Strategically, Alexander was the victor because Von Plettenburg had held a very large Russian force inactive with his small one.

In December the armies were ready again for war. Three Russian armies advanced against Lithuania; the first from Seversk under the same leaders, the second from Novgorod under Shchenya as before, and the third from Rzhev. The results of this campaign are unknown; probably they were just border raids.

Thus, 1502 showed no gains for Ivan despite his careful plans. Stephen of Moldavia invaded Poland in the summer of 1502 and occupied part of Pokute province. By the end of the year Alexander was ready for peace. A truce was signed on 25 March 1503, confirming the Muscovite gains in the war. Ivan considered the truce merely a rest period to prepare for the next war, and he tried to keep the Crimeans active during the truce period.(139)

This was one of the few periods of relative peace for Moscow.

However, Khan Mohemmed Amin of Kazan revolted and massacred many Russians living in the area in 1504. In September the Kazan Tatars attacked Nizhni Novgorod.

Ivan III died and was succeeded by his son, Vasilii III.


To be written

CHAPTER TEN - REIGN OF VASILLI III - 1506-15 - {short description of image}

Summary of Reign

Vasilii III was spared the difficulties associated with civil war or even serious differences of opinion with brothers and uncles that so plagued the reigns of some of his forbearers. However he was faced with extensive external warfare on three fronts except for the approximately ten years from 1528 to 1534. In the west he continued his father's war against Lithuania over the lands between the Dnieper and Oka Rivers. Campaigns were conducted during 1507- 08 and 1512-22. He annexed Pskov in 1510 and succeeded in his father's goal of taking Smolensk in 1514. He acquired the remaining pieces of Riazan territory in 1521 and all of Novgorod-Severskii in 1522.

To the south Vasilii had to contend with the effects of Mengli Gerei's reversal of alliances after the final destruction of the Golden Horde in 1503. The Tatar raids began in 1507 and grew in intensity until by 1521 the Crimean and Kazan Tatars in alliance were again at the gates of Moscow as the Mongols had been over a hundred years previously. Vasilii continued to use his own Tatars based at Kasimov and strengthened the southern defenses with additional service people and fortifications.

To the east Vasilii continued his father's efforts to control Kazan by placing friendly Tatars on the throne, but immeshed Moscow in the inherently unstable internal politics of the shifting Tatar hordes. The result was at least intermittant warfare on that front as well. Vasilii built a fortress at Vasil'sursk in 1523 that served as a base for further operations against Kazan.

Vasilii also continued his father's interest in Western ideas, particularly in the military sphere. The Italians who initially arrived with his mother were succeeded by still others. The Kremlin was re-built as a north Italian fortress by architects from Milan. Other fruits of western military technology arrived as well with improved artillery and firearms.


In the spring Vasilii III sent his armies to conquer Kazan, but the Russians suffered two defeats and failed in their mission.(140)

Mohammed Amin returned the Russians he held prisoner and signed a treaty of friendship.

The autonomy of Pskov was an obstacle to the centralization of the Russian army and judicial administration. The town was bound by treaty to help Moscow, but it did so only conditionally and reluctantly. Even on campaign, the Pskov army was a separate unit. Vasilii III isolated Pskov the same way his father had isolated Novgorod and then fomented internal discord in the town. Finally, he tricked the nobles into assembling to meet him, then arrested and deported them. He removed 300 boyar families and 6,500 middle class citizens and replaced them with his Muscovite followers, including a garrison of 1,000 deti-boyarski and 500 pishchalniki from Novgorod.(141)

Vasilii's brother, Prince Simeon, attempted to revolt but was apprehended.(142)

Until 1512 the cornerstone of Ivan III's foreign policy had been the alliance with Mengli Gerei. After the fall of the Horde and Moscow's annexation of Severia, the Tatars of Crimea were no longer so interested in the alliance. Moreover, Vasilii III instead of actively pursuing the alliance was too miserly to give the accustomed presents to the Tatars. Therefore, in 1512 Mengli Gerei changed sides and allied himself with Lithuania. This began the long bitter struggle between Moscow and Crimea that lasted until the annexation of the Crimea by Catherine II.(143)

Campaign against Lithuania

Vasilii renewed the war with Lithuania by sending Prince Daniel Shchenya with an army to seize Smolensk, which he did after a fierce artillery bombardment. Vasilii appointed Prince Vasilii V. Shuisky as his lieutenant for the city instead of Mikhailinsky, a west Russian noble who considered himself due the position.

A month later the the Lithuanians, commanded by Prince Konstantin I. Ostrozhsky (the looser at Vedrosha in 1500), decisively defeated the Russian army at the Orsha River. Even so, the Russians managed to keep Smolensk. The skirmishes continued until 1522.(144)

The Crimean Tatar Khan raided Moscow. The Starosta of Cherkassy, Ostafi Dashkevich, led Cossacks to help the Tatars by seizing Chernigov and Novgorod-in-Severia, but he didn't take the towns.(145) This break with Crimea and the troubles with Kazan the same year required Moscow to improve the border defense system. In the spring troops went on “shore duty” along the Oka River. Fortresses built during the early 1500's included Zaraisk, Tula, and Kaluga. Cossack companies settled south of the Oka line. Vasilii III tried to obtain help from the Nogai and from Astrakhan but without much success.(146)

The Khan of Kazan, Mehemmed Amin, died and Vasilii sent Shah Ali, Mehemmed's brother, to be the new Khan. Kazan agreed, but then under Crimean influence, revolted and invited Sahib Gerei, the Crimean Khan's brother, to be the new Khan of Kazan.

Shah Ali returned to Moscow and Sahib Gerei killed or enslaved the Russians residing in Kazan.

The Crimean Khan, Mehemmed Gerei, (Mengli's son) launched a major attack on Muscovy, reaching the suburbs of Moscow during the summer. He received aid from Lithuania and from the Starosta of Cherkassy, Ostafi Dashkevich, who raided Severia with the Ukraine Cossacks. Vasilii III retired to Volok "to get more troops," leaving Moscow under the command of the Tatar prince, Peter, husband of Vasilii's sister, Evdokia. Peter sent presents to bribe Khan Mehemmed who retired with much booty. Moscow annexed Riazan during this year when the last duke, Ivan VI, was accused of negotiating with Mehemmed Gerei and fled to Lithuania during the Tatar raid. The Riazantsi were deported and replaced with Muscovites.(147)

Vasilii built the fortress of Sursk at the confluence of the Sura and Volga Rivers, halfway between Nizhni Novgorod and Kazan as a base for further campaigns against Kazan.(148)

Vasilii III married Elena Glinskaya, after divorcing his first wife. Elena was of Mongol family descent; her father and uncle were famous military commanders who transferred allegiance from Lithuania to Moscow.

The Kazantsi agreed to let Vasilii appoint a new Khan, so he sent Yan Ali, the Tsarivich of Kasimov and brother of Shah Ali. This restored Moscow's suzerainty over Kazan.(149)

Vasilii died in 1533, leaving the throne to his infant son, Ivan IV - under a regency that created huge trouble.

CHAPTER ELEVEN - REIGN OF IVAN IV 1533-1584 - {short description of image}

Summary of Reign

Ivan IV was crowned Tsar in 1547(150) and immediately began political reforms with the convocation of an assembly (Zemskii sobor) representing not only the boyars but also the service military class. Among the political innovations were improved central administration and local self government. Both were necessary to shift power from the personal governing hands of the former princes and boyars (who no longer owned princedoms) into an appointed bureaucratic structure serving only the Tsar. The boyars still managed to retain considerable power through their right of appointment to the upper bureaucratic positions. Military service became mandatory and regular according to the size of the land holding.

Ivan's initial foreign policy was to eliminate the Khanate of Kazan, which he did by 1552. He then continued Russian expansion to the east as far as its power would carry it. This meant almost clear across northern Siberia where resistance was light, but only as far to the southeast as Astrakhan, because behind that town roamed the still very powerful Nogai Tatars. Many advisors and service people favored expansion due south against the Crimean Tatars both because Tatar raids from that quarter were still a major danger and because the southern territories were a potential area for lucrative pomestie estates. Yet the reality of Muscovite military strength and weakness argued against this course. Instead, Ivan chose to regain Russian outlet to the Baltic lost in the previous centuries to the Swedes and Livonians and “gather in the Russian lands” to the west that had been lost to the Lithuanians.

Execution of this program proved to be much more difficult than anticipated. Although Ivan's armies were initially successful against Livonia, the German knights managed to salvage their control by giving the southern half of their territories to Lithuania and letting Sweden take the northern half. This faced Ivan with a much more formidable set of foes. He went on the offensive against Lithuania again in 1562 and was making some progress when the Polish king, Sigismund II Augustus died and was replaced (after four years) by the formidable Hungarian military commander, Stephan Bathory. As King of Poland Bathory brought Hungarian mercenaries and other troops trained in the latest western infantry and artillery tactics. Ivan's army was still essentially a cavalry one and rightly so as the devastating Tatar raid of 1570 showed. The ultimate result of Ivan's aggression in the west was the loss of even that sliver of territory Russia had held on the Baltic and a setback to western expansion that was not made good until the time of Peter the Great.

Ivan IV's aggressive programs of internal change and foreign wars brought forth strenuous opposition from the upper levels of nobility for whom both programs meant only major loss of political power and economic well being (not to mention the likelihood of death in combat). Ivan became ill in 1553. He found to his dismay that the boyars would not swear allegiance to his infant son, Dmitrii, but were plotting to give the throne to Ivan's cousin, Vladimir Staritskii. Then in 1565 his wife, Anastasia, died. Ivan believed this was due to poison. Meanwhile many boyars and some formerly independent princes were either plotting or considering doing so. Ivan's suspicions were heightened by a subversive campaign mounted by King Sigismund II who both managed to entice some nobles to defect to Lithuania and planted erroneous incriminating evidence about others who did not. The result was Ivan's decision in 1564 to force the issue by moving out of Moscow to the fortified town, Aleksandrovskaia Sloboda, and announcing his abdication. He soon was entreated to return to rule and did so, but only on his terms, which included the division of the state into two separate administrative entities. Half the country was left to the normal governmental administrative organs in which he would continue to rule as Tsar with the Boyar Duma and all the legal restraints of the customary law, but the other half was removed from all such restraints and bureaucratic interference and administered by Ivan's specially chosen “Oprichnina” The territories assigned to this half of the government were carefully chosen and served as the economic support for the loyal troops he based on them and used to conduct his reign of terror against the nobility.

The nobility was not alone in feeling Ivan's rage. In 1569 he was led to believe by false documents that Novgorod was about to defect to Lithuania. The result was the most savage assault by the Oprichnina troops on Novgorod concluding with mass executions and the deportation of the entire remaining population followed by a somewhat less brutal repression in Pskov and further executions of government officials in Moscow. The Oprichnina did not neglect to sack and loot the entire countryside around Novgorod and Pskov either. All this created disastrous economic conditions throughout the land and disrupted the normal conduct of governmental business. The Crimean Tatars were not slow to take advantage of Moscow's disarray. In 1571 they mounted the most successful raid ever, burning almost the entire city and carrying off a hundred thousand prisoners to slavery. At this Ivan apparently had enough. With the Oprichnina implicated in the malfeasance that enabled the Tatar success he disbanded it the very next year. The military change was immediate and remarkable. When the Tatars returned in 1572 they were handed such a devastating defeat that they stayed clear of Moscow for some time.


Sigismund Augustus, King of Poland, took advantage of the minority of Ivan IV and Elena Glinskaya's preoccupation with suppressing internal rebellions of the boyars to invade Muscovy. Lithuanian troops attacked Smolensk. The Muscovites successfully defended it along with Starodub and Chernigov.

During this war, the Crimean Khan, Saip Gerei, tried to capture Kazan and Astrakhan. The struggle between the rival Tatar leaders resulted in the plunder of large areas. Saip was murdered, and a new Khan was named.

The Italian architect, Peter Priazin, laid the stone foundations for the new Moscow wall on 16 May 1535. Elena continued the program of Vasilii III of building frontier fortresses.(151)

When the new Crimean Khan, Saip Gerei, was preparing to invade Muscovy, Prince Andrei, Ivan IV's uncle, refused to send his army to help defend Moscow. Elena sent her lover, Obolensky, and two armies to capture Andrei. Andrei's army lost, but he escaped to Novgorod from which he later surrendered and died in prison.

King Sigismund of Poland asked for peace. The Muscovite army, freed from war in the west, marched east to control the Tatars.(152)

Elena died, possibly of poison. Obolensky and others were killed and Vasilii Shuisky and his brother, Ivan, became regents for the seven year old Ivan IV.

The Kazan Tatars conducted raids in 1538.

Khan Safa Gerei advanced from Kazan but met resistance from the Russian army led by Ivan Shuiski. Then, Saip Gerei and a combined Tatar and Turkish army moved up the Don River. The Russian scouts reported that the Tatar army stretched beyond the horizon. Moscow prepared for a siege. All the boyars united, even putting aside Mestnichestvo to serve under the best commanders.(153)

On 31 July the Tatar Khan reached the Oka River. The Muscovite advance guard polk stood on the opposite bank where it was mistaken for the whole Russian army. The Tatars prepared to cross under cover of a heavy artillery bombardment opened by the Turkish artillerists. Then the rest of the Muscovite army arrived. The Khan, realizing he had a major battle to fight if he wanted to cross the river, followed the usual Tatar practice and retreated.(154)

In April the 15 year old Ivan IV proclaimed a campaign against Kazan. The army went by barge and by land, winning several minor victories on the way. In Kazan an internal struggle resulted in Safa Gerei's exile in June. The Muscovite commander, Boyar Dmitri Bel'sky, installed a new Khan; but when Bel'sky left, Safa Gerei regained Kazan.(155)

Ivan proclaimed another campaign against Kazan. The army set out in January 1548, but the Volga ice broke up unexpectedly and many men and cannon were lost. Ivan waited for a new freeze, but in vain, therefore he returned to Moscow.

Safa Gerei died, leaving a 2 year old son in Kazan. Ivan started again in the winter of 1549-50. The army reached Kazan despite great hardships in the cold on 14 February 1550. After elaborate preparations, 60,000 Muscovites attacked without any gains. On the second day of the attack, an unusual thaw flooded the river and made the ground turn into mud, forcing Ivan to retreat again. Ivan now gave urgent attention to military reform, especially to curtailing Mestnichestvo.(156)

In March 1550, reports that Saip Gerei was advancing from the Crimea reached Ivan. He sent troops south from Moscow and went himself to Kolomna and Riazan to inspect the defenses. On the way back from Kazan, Ivan climbed the hill at Kruglaya and, seeing the strategic importance of the location, ordered a town to be built there. In July Ivan decreed the confirmation of his order abolishing Mestnichestvo in the field and strengthening the command of the chief voevoda of the Main polk. The decree established a chain of command and prohibited precedence considerations on campaign. In the summer, Ivan created the Streltsi as a personal guard of infantry. This was not a completely new device, as there already were units of town arquebusiers. In October, Ivan proclaimed a new project as a part of the military reforms. It was the formation of a special guard of 1,000 picked men to be settled on land around Moscow. Actually, 1,078 were chosen but the plan was frustrated by lack of available land near the capital. By the 1550's the government generally lacked land to give to the new service gentry, especially around Moscow. Ivan's solution was to seize the patrimonial lands and the church lands. In 1551 he asked a church council to secularize the church lands, but it refused.(157)

Ivan sent the ex-Khan of Kazan, Shig Alei, with 500 Tatars and Moscow troops to Kruglaya hill at the mouth of the Sviyaza River to build a new fort. Prince Peter Obolensky went with troops from Nizhni Novgorod to supervise this project. The main army arrived on 14 May and quickly completed the new town of Sviyazhsk, which greatly impressed the local Tatars, Mordvins, Cheremish, Chuvash, and others.

The Kazan Tatars wanted peace, but their Crimean rulers did not, so Kazan expelled the Crimeans and asked Ivan to send Shig Ali to Kazan. He released 60,000 prisoners there. Ivan annexed the northern part of the Khanate and appointed a governor. This made the Kazan Tatars change their minds again and revolt. Ivan then sought a complete and final conquest.(158)

Campaign against Kazan see Kazan siege {short description of image}

A momentous event in Muscovite history occurred in this year when Ivan IV conquered Kazan and added its territories to his growing empire. Ivan began the campaign by ordering the armies to proceed as usual by boat and over land. A plague in Sviyazhsk and a Mordvin rebellion reduced morale in the army and delayed the campaign. At Kazan, Ediger Mohammed arrived with 500 Nogai Tatars to lead the defense. He was a good leader who kept the spirits of the Kazan population high. On 16 June Ivan set out for Kolomna. Enroute, he received word that the Crimean Tatars were advancing again. They captured Riazan and Tula before Ivan, who had sent troops to meet them, decided to go south himself. When Ivan arrived, the Khan retreated; the Muscovite army followed and defeated the Tatars near the Shivoron River. On 3 July Ivan again started for Kazan via Vladimir. By then, the plague was over and Voevoda Mikulinsky had defeated the Mordvins and Chuvash. On 15 August lvan crossed the Volga and sent a demand for surrender to Kazan. He reached the city on 2 August and began the siege on the 23rd. Ivan gathered the officers and men and unfurled the banner of the Virgin and showed the cross of Dmitri Donskoi in an effort to instill a religious fervor in the army. The Tatars also had strong religious beliefs. There were 30,000 local Tatar troops and 2,700 Nogais plus the town population. The well fortified Kazan wall consisted of oak beams reinforced on the inside. The towers were of stone.

Ivan had 150,000 men in his army.(159) The first action was a sortie of 15,000 Tatars that expended its full force on the streltsi, forceng them to retreat. Ivan ordered deti boyarski reinforcements forward and the streltsi reformed and forced the Tatars back into the city. Then a rainstorm deluged the Russian camp and sank the supply barges while a high wind blew down the Tsar's tent and many other structures. These were bad omens for the soldiery who took great alarm. Ivan calmed them and sent for more supplies, including warm clothing for a possible winter siege. The soldiers worked hard making trenches and palisades. Ivan was busy inspecting and encouraging the troops who were on short rations and lacking for sleep. Tatar pressure increased when Prince Yapancha launched a series of attacks on the Russians from woods behind the Russians. The Tatars used signals from the walls to coordinate the attacks launched from the town with those of the forces in the woods. On 30 August the Russians defeated Prince Yapancha and captured 340 Tatars. They tied the prisoners to stakes in front of the town walls. Ivan urged the city to surrender and promised that the prisoners would be freed, but the Kazantsi shot them with bows rather than let the Russians kill them. Ivan was astounded at this display of hatred and fanaticism. The next day he ordered his Danish engineer to blow up the town water supply, which came from a spring and underground stream. On 4 September the Russians exploded eleven barrels of powder, killing many Tatars and breaching the wall. Still, the Muscovite assault failed. The Tatars found a new spring. Meanwhile, Muscovite morale was suffering from more bad weather and from superstition. For example, Prince Kurbsky reported that at dawn the Tatar sorcerers appeared on the walls to cause the bad weather. Being concerned, Ivan ordered a special miracle-making cross to be brought from Moscow. The weather then improved.

The Russians built high towers on which they mounted guns, moving the towers close to the city wall so they could fire down on the defenders. Ivan ordered the construction of new mines. On 30 September the Danish engineer blew up a large part of the city wall, at which the Tatars panicked, but then rallied and attacked. The hand to hand fighting lasted several hours with no gains on either side. On 1 October Ivan ordered a general assault to be launched on the next morning. The troops took communion and awaited the detonation of 48 barrels of powder in the mines. The Tatars discovered the mines and counter-mined while the Russians hurried everything into readiness. Near dawn the explosion shook the ground. The Russians immediately attacked, but the Tatars held firm, waiting until the Russians were very close before firing salvos from their cannon, arquebuses, and bows. Many Russians died but more came on using ladders and towers to reach the parapets from which the Tatars poured boiling pitch and dropped heavy beams and stones.

The Russians fought their way into the city, house by house, in a fierce battle with the heavily outnumbered Tatars. The Russian attack faltered and the men began looting. The Tatars counterattacked and nearly drove the Russians back through the breach. Ivan then sent officers to kill anyone found looting and he himself went to the main gate with the holy banner to stop the retreating soldiers. He sent in fresh units that forced Khan Ediger to retreat to the fortified palace and then to a tower. The last Tatars climbed down the tower wall and fought their way to the river, where Princes Andrei and Roman Kurbsky caught and held them until a large Russian force, under the command of Princes Mikulinsky, Glinsky, and Sheremetev could come up and kill them. The Russians killed or wounded five thousand Tatars. Ivan received Khan Ediger as his prisoner and gave a formal thanksgiving service.

On 11 October he started for Moscow, having appointed Alexander Gorbaty and Vasilii Serebryanny as governors. Some of Ivan's advisors urged him to keep many troops in the town to quell possible outbreaks. He did not agree and only left a small streltsi garrison. The rest of the army, being the feudal levy, had to return home, as usual.(160)

Ivan IV became ill and asked all the princes and boyars to swear allegiance to his son. Many refused, preferring Ivan's brother to his baby son. This convinced him he could not trust his generals.

There were Tatar revolts at Kazan. In September Princes Mikulinski, Ivan Sheremetev, and Andrei Kurbski arrived with strong armies to crush the revolt. They captured 6,000 Tatar men and 15,600 Tatar women and children. Ivan used the Tatar feuds to split the opposition. In October 1553 the Nogai Tatars asked Ivan's help to depose the Khan of Astrakhan, which he agreed to do. Prince Andrei Kurbski fought 20 major engagements during the year to suppress the Cheremish and other rebels around Kazan.(161)

Conquest of Astrakhan

In the spring the Russian army sailed down the Volga to Astrakhan. Prince Yuri Pronsky-Shemyakin had 30,000 Muscovite troops plus the troops of Viatka under Vyazemsky and the Nogai Tatars. They routed Khan Yamgurchei's army and installed Derbysh as Tsar of Astrakhan.(162)

Yamgurchei, with some Nogais, Crimeans, and Turkish Janissaries tried to retake Astrakhan. But Ivan sent additional troops and in the confused fighting between the two parts of the Nogai horde and the other Tatars, Derbysh fled from Astrakhan and the Russians took over direct control. Cossacks then settled at key points along the river.

During the summer Ivan showed the new Russian belief in Tatar weakness by mounting an attack on Crimea. He was the first Muscovite ruler to carry the war into the Crimean lands lying just north of Perekop. Khan Devlet Gerei retaliated with a 60,000 man army by invading Muscovy. In May he sent an envoy to Ivan to coneal his war preparations and in June he neared Tula with his army. Ivan sent Prince Ivan Mstislavsky with the Kolomna troops and those of Ivan IV's cousin, Prince Vladimir Andreevich to the front. The Khan retreated. Ivan Sheremetev took 13,000 Russians to pursue the Tatars and fell into an ambush. This victory caused the Khan to advance again on Tula to which Ivan also moved. The Khan then retreated.(163)

In March Ivan sent two reconnaissance parties to check on the Crimean Khan's offensive plans and to raid Tatar territories. Ivan himself went with the army to Tula and when the Khan, advancing on Moscow, found Ivan ready, he retired again to Crimea. One reconnaissance party under the command of the Diak, Szhevsky, with Putivl Cossacks as guides, went down the Dnieper to Ochakov on the Black Sea. The Starosta of Cherkasy, Prince Dmitrii Vishnevetsky, provided help with Cherkasy cossack units. The force raided Ochakov successfully and did much damage to towns along the way, then returned to Moscow.

Ivan was delighted and Devlet Gerei was dismayed. The Tatars expected a full scale attack on Crimea and appealed to the Sultan for help. Then Prince Vishnevetsky decided to build a Cossack fort on the Dnieper (Zaporozhie) on Khortitsa Island. He completed fort in the summer of 1556 and successfully defended it from the immediate Tatar attacks. Prince Vishnevetsky asked for assistance from the Polish king who refused it. He then applied to Moscow for aid and received direct help plus the town of Belev on Oka as a base of operations.(164)

Livonian War

In 1557 Ivan turned his attention westward and undertook the task started by his grandfather of conquering the western lands and securing an outlet on the Baltic Sea. By then the international situation, and especially the military situation, had changed greatly to Moscow's disadvantage. Instead of continued victory Ivan found himself faced with one of Russia's most disastrous wars, the effects of which remained, not only during Ivan's reign, but on into the "Time of Troubles." From the start, Ivan's policy was not popular with the boyars, who still supported war against the Tatars and alliance with the western powers. The service people, dvoriani and deti boyarski, supported war in the west as a means to obtain pomestie land.(165)

Ivan opened the war by ordering his Tatar general, Shig Alei, to move to the Livonian border at the head of the 40,000 man Muscovite army supported by the eastern tribal detachments.

On 17 January the Russian army crossed the Livonian border from Pskov to a depth of 150 miles ravaging everything. Shig Alei then withdrew and sent a courier to the Grand Master of the Knights asking him to submit to Ivan. During the ceasefire, the Livonians from Narva attacked Ivangorod, so Ivan ordered the capture of Narva.

In January, Prince Vishnevetsky with Russian Cossacks and streltsi, sailed down the Dnieper to Perekop, which he raided. He then returned to Khortitsa Island.

On 21 January the Russians received word that Devlet Gerei, learning that the Russians had invaded Livonia, planned a maximum effort Tatar campaign against Moscow. He gathered 100,000 Tatars from the Crimea and the Great and Lesser Nogai under a galaxy of murzas and his son, Mahmet Gerei, and sent them north. The Tatars crossed the Donets and attacked Tula, Riazan, and Kashira, then continued north to the Mech River. There they received word that the Russians had massed their armies across the Oka. Blocked in their main objective of raiding Moscow, the Tatars turned south, followed a short distance by the three Russian polks on “shore duty”.

In February Ivan offered King Sigismund an alliance against the Tatars, but the Polish king was concerned with the Russian invasion of Livonia and also with the possible Turkish reaction to a campaign against the Tatars and therefore declined the offer.

Meanwhile, the Russians captured Narva on 11 May 1558 and then invaded the country, destroying or capturing many other towns. The Grandmaster, Von Furstenburg, was too old and unfit for campaigning. He therefore resigned the office and the knights elected Gottgard Kettler as the new Grandmaster. In July Prince Peter Shuisky, with a strong force, captured Dorpat. By September the main army withdrew, leaving strong garrisons in the towns. Kettler then attacked the Russian garrisons. During this time, Prince Vishnevetski conducted a second, larger raid on Perekop.(166)

In January 130,000 Muscovites and their allies again invaded Livonia, methodically laying waste the country and killing all the people they captured, including the children.(167) Kettler asked Sweden and Denmark for aid but they refused. He also asked Sigismund II Augustus of Poland and began negotiations for an alliance.

In February Prince Vishnevetsky moved to the Donetz River for an advance on Kerch and Daniel Adashev sailed down the Dnieper. On 11 March Ivan discussed the situation with the boyars to decide how to act against Devlet Gerei. Five polki went to Tula and I. Veshnyakov joined to strengthen Prince Vishevetsky's army.

Devlet Gerei, strengthening his Crimean army with Great Nogais, had intended a major attack. The gathering of the Russian forces and their active operations forced him onto the defensive. In April Vishevetski reported that he had defeated the Crimeans on the Aidir River as they were trying to penetrate toward Kazan. In July, Adashev, with his 8,000 men, was diverted from the Crimea for a raid on Ochakov, which he attacked while Vishnevetski intercepted. The Nogais headed for Crimea and defeated them. Adashev then embarked his men in boats, captured 2 Turkish ships, landed in Crimea, damaged 2 towns and freed Russian prisoners.

In August the voevoda, I. Fedtsov, took an army from Dedilov to Tikhaya Sosna and posted it in the Serbolov forest to guard the Kalmusski Trail, a favorite Tatar attack route. An observation force went to Dedilov and the border towns. In August the government considered the danger of Tatar attack passed and released the main voevoda, Prince I. D. Bel'ski from service on the 23rd.

In April Ivan, via the mediation of the King of Denmark, had granted a 6 month truce to Livonia. Kettler used this time to negociate an agreement that Poland signed on 16 September. According to the Russian sources, Kettler then mobilized the Livonian army and broke the truce in September with an invasion of the Dorpat area held by the Russians. The Muscovites then raided Livonia twice.

The Tatars made two attacks later in the year. At Pronsk voevoda Buturlin defeated them. At Tula and Rostov voevoda Prince F. I. Tatev could not intercept the 3,000 man force of Murza Shirinski because the Russian troops did not assemble in time.(168)

Lithuania-Poland asked Ivan to stop the war in Livonia, but he refused. The commander of the army in Livonia was Daniel Adashev. Ivan took a new group of advisors, including Alexei and Feodor Basmanov, Prince Afanasy Vyazemsky, Vasilii Gryaznoik, and Malyuta Skuratov-Bel'ski. Sylvester and Adashev were out of favor and many boyars were exiled or executed. Prince Kurbsky captured the fortress of Fellin.

To defend against the Tatars five polki assembled at Tula and later three polki moved to Bistra Sosna under command of Prince A. I. Vorotinski. After the departure of the main voevoda, they received the news of advance of 3,000 Tatars led by Divea Murza on Ril'sk. The voevoda at Tula went after the Tatars who then retreated. There were 20,000 Tatars united on the Udakh River under the crown princes, sent by Devlet Gerei to lead a campaign, but it did not take place. Still, the Tatars did attack Temnikovski later in the year.(169)

Sweden and Poland transform Livonian War

In this year Ivan found himself faced with some unexpected opposition as Sweden and Poland entered the arena in place of the moribund and rapidly expiring Livonia. In June Revel swore allegiance to the King of Sweden, Erik XVI, to obtain protection from the Russians. Kettler negotiated with Nikolai Radziwill, the Voevoda of Vilna; and on November, Livonia became part of Lithuania, while Kettler became Duke of Courland. Polish troops had entered Livonia already in June and Lithuania began mobilizing her army to attack the Russians. Radziwill launched the offensive in September with the capture of Tarvast. The Russians won a battle against the Lithuanians at Pernau and then razed Tarvast.

There was no Tatar attack in 1561. Ivan sent an ambassador with a letter to Devlet Gerei who informed Ivan that the Sultan, Suleiman, planned to dig a canal between the Don and the Volga, to unite the Moslem nomads for a campaign against Russia, to build fortresses at Tsaritsyn, Perevolok, and at the mouth of the Volga, and to recapture Kazan and Astrakhan. The Crimea Tatars preferred not to come under such direct Turkish control, so they alerted the Russians about these plans.(170)

Ivan heard that Tomgruk, the Circassian leader, had a beautiful daughter, so he had her brought to Moscow, baptized, and named Maria. He then married her and she bore him his son, Vasilii. Besides her beauty, Ivan was attracted by the military alliance with her father.(171)

King Sigismund II Augustus made an extra effort to obtain Tatar help. The documents show the discussions Sigismund and Devlet conducted to plan a major campaign and the seizure of several towns, including Mtsinsk, Odoev, Novosil, Bolkhov, Belev, and Chern. The King was not satisfied with this and instead conducted military operations in Seversk land where the Belgorod Tatars were also operating. Moscow heard of the Tatar- Polish plans and sent several polki to the “shore”. Prince Vladimir Andreevich and Princes M. and A. Vorotinski marched to Serpukhov while the Tsar himself went to Muzhaisk on the 21st of May. On the 28th of May, Prince. A. M. Kurbsky captured Vitebsk. On 6 May Devlet Gerei and his sons arrived at Mtsensk where they stayed in front of the city for two days, burning part of the area. They had only 15,000 Tatars. Therefore, when they found out that the Tsar was in Mozhaisk and that the Russian forces were gathering at Serpukhov, the Khan ordered a withdrawal. The voevoda, V. Buturlin, prevented the Tatars from devastating a larger area and Princes M. and A. Vorotinski followed them to Kolomna and Merchik, but did not catch them.

In September the Tsar returned to Moscow. Princes M. and A. Vorotinski and D. Kurlyatev fell from favor due to their (alleged) treasonous activity. In November Ivan began sending peace feelers to Poland and sent a message to Devlet Gerei about renewing the peace treaty. In December the Tsar moved to Polotsk.(172)

After a two week siege, Polotsk surrendered to Ivan's strong army. Ivan appointed three voevodi for the army: Peter Shuisky, Vasilii Serebryanny, and Peter Serebryanny; and left Prince Obolensky to command the town, when he left Polotsk on 26 February. The army advanced on Vilno and went into winter quarters at Velikie Luki. Lithuanian envoys arranged a truce until 15 August.
During the period 4 April to 12 May, while the Tsar completed the capture of Peremishiya, Odoev, and Belev; 10,000 Tatars, under the Tsarevich, Mahmet Gerei, and several Mirzas attacked Mikhailov. The Polish king congratulated Devlet Gerei on his successful campaign.(173)

The Lithuanian army under Nikolai Rudy defeated the Muscovites under Prince Petr I. Shuiski, who died, at Chashniki, on the Ulla River near Polotsk in January 1564. Prince Kurbsky had 15,000 Russians but lost the battle to 40,000 Poles near Nevel, north of Vitebsk. Although wounded, he decided to flee in April to Lithuania. This increased the Tsar's suspicion of his generals. In April the polki assembled at Kaluga but they did not defend the border against the Tatars, but the Poles. Relying on a peace and friendship agreement with Devlet Gerei, Ivan did not post major troop units to the southern border but only sent small detachments. Prince Kurbsky persuaded King Sigismund to bribe the Khan to attack Riazan with 60,000 Tatars. Kurbsky commanded a unit in the 70,000 man Polish army of Nikolai Rudy that was attacking Polotsk. From September 16th to October 4th Prince Petr Shcheniatev successfully defended Polotsk. Devlet Gerei obtained information on the disposition of the Russian forces united at Kaluga, far from the point of attack. The Tatars stayed in front of Riazan and burned the area. Riazan and the whole area were defenseless. The deti boyarski were not there, but a small garrison of the local people who had managed to get into the town in time held out under the command of Alexander I. Basmanov. The rest of the population crossed the Oka as did the Tatars on 17 October. The voevoda, I. P. Yakovlev, went to the “shore” with his small force from Moscow and when he reached the Oka, he found that the Tatars had already turned for home.

On 3 December Ivan “abandoned the state,” and moved to the Troitsa Monastery and then to Alexandrovsk where he arrived on Christmas. He was in great disfavor with the boyars, religious leaders, and military people. The boyars and voevodi accused him of “not defending us from Crimea and from Litov and from the Germans.” Ivan called special military service men to himself and ordered the creation of the Oprichnina.(174)

On 3 January 1565 Ivan sent documents to Moscow proclaiming his abdication. After negotiations, on 3 February he returned and made a ceremonial entry into Moscow. At an assembly he announced the oprichnina. The first step was the requisition of land and the selection of men. He took land in the central area first and land in the north.
In the spring, during Lent, Prince Kurbsky led a Lithuanian raid on Veliki Luki and looted the area. The Lithuanians had their local Tatars in their army, also. Sigismund sent a peace mission but Ivan rejected the terms. The Sultan was still planning his campaign on Astrakhan. He pressured the Crimean Khan into joining this campaign to recover Kazan, but the Khan opposed the plan as he did not want greater Turkish control over Crimea. He negotiated with Ivan, but when Sigismund sent him presents, if he would attack Moscow, the Khan agreed.

The Russian forces concentrated in the south. In the spring, Princes I. D. Bel'ski and I. F. Mstislavski and the boyars moved south. The main polk and the left polk were in Kolomna, the right polk was in Kashir, the Storozhevoi (guard) polk in Serepukov, and the lead polk was in Kaluga. On 19 May they received word of the Tatar movement toward the Muravski Trail. This caused all “shore service” units to be called into active service and hastily posted by the voevodi to locations on the frontier. The alarm was groundless.

On 15 September new dispositions for organizing at Tula under Prince Vladimir Andreevich began, but were not completed before a new order shifted the units back to the “shore.” On 21 September news arrived of a Tatar concentration at Kamen ford and on the upper Tora River and of movement for two days across the Sabinski ferry on the Donets River on the Izumski Road. Beginning in October, Devlet Gerei himself arrived in Volkhov. The voevodi concentrated their forces from the border towns against him. He would not risk a battle and retired. After his retreat, the Khan sent word that he would agree to peace if Ivan would give up Kazan and Astrakhan. Instead, Ivan secured Kazan by building seven fortresses near there and by transferring Tatars from there to the Volga region. He also strengthened Astrakhan and planned a fort on the Terek to protect the lands of his father-in-law's Circassians.(175)

He reached an agreement with the Poles, making relations better. Ivan therefore sent back the Nogai Tatars, who were coming to the aid of Muscovy. He built several towns to defend Polotsk, and took defensive measures along the entire frontier. Orel was built on the Orel River. The Tsar conducted small military actions from 29 April to 28 May at Kozel'sk, Belev, Blokhov, Aleksin, and other border towns on the Crimean side. The polki were at Kaluga, but there was no Tatar attack. By order of the Sultan, Mahmet Gerei took many Tatars into Hungary. Toward the end of 1566 Devlet Gerei went to attack Sigismund. Sulemian the Magnificent died, thus setting back the projected campaign on Kazan, but his son, Selim, soon pushed for the campaign.(176)

The Crimea was in a state of indecision. In January 1567 a Tatar messenger arrived in Moscow with the suggestion that peace and friendship should be established and with the news of the campaign of Devlet and his allies against Poland. Simultaneously, Devlet began negotiations with the Polish king on peace and unity against Moscow. Turkey entered the war (with an agreement with Poland signed in 1568). In April there were 5 polki on the shore in Kolomna, Serpukhov, and Kashir. In May the Murzi, Osman and Selim Shirinski, with 6,000 Tatars raided toward Moscow but Devlet Gerei withdrew 3,000 of the troops. With the remainder, Murza Osman continued the raid and by the end of 1567, there were signs of a raid on the Severski lands by Izmail Murza.(177)

There are indications that there was a Tatar raid by Devlet Gerei's sons toward Moscow and that the polks were at Kaluga.(178)

In the spring Sultan Selim mounted the campaign against Astrakhan. He had 17,000 Turks when he reached Kafa in Crimea and he then proceeded to Azov and began to dig a canal at Perevalok on the Don. The Turks were joined by 50,000 Crimean Tatars. It was too hot to dig, so the force proceeded toward Astrakhan, but retreated when a large Russian force approached. Ivan sent gifts to the Khan and tried to get a peace treaty with the Sultan. There were five polki on “shore duty,” three across the rivers and three in Riazan during the summer.(179)

Ivan decided there was treason in Novgorod, so he conducted a 5 week torture of the town in January in which 60,000 people were killed.

Armistice with Poland

Ivan agreed to an armistice with Poland to be ready for the Tatars. He made his vassal Magnus, Prince of Denmark, King of Livonia. Sweden was also at war with Poland and Denmark and sought alliance with Russia. Then the Swedes deposed Eric made John the king. He was anti-Muscovite so Ivan agreed to have Magnus capture Reval from Sweden. The Polish king, even while conducting truce negotiations with Ivan, tirelessly urged the Tatars to attack Moscow. The Russian polki were on “shore duty” as usual and the voevodi were ordered not to leave the defense of the river line, even if the Ukrainian towns were attacked. On 13 May a Tatar force of 50-60 men under Mahmet and Algi Gerei appeared between the Mzh and Kolomna Rivers on the Muravski Trail and approached Riazan and Kashir. On 22 May Ivan decided to go on campaign in person but on 21 May the Tatars retreated so there was no campaign. Beginning in September there was news of a new Tatar move on the upper Berek and Tora Rivers between Pslo and Vorskla. The voevoda sent the news to Moscow from which the Tsar moved to Serpukhov. The Tatars reached only to Novosil with 6-7,000 men.(180)

On 21 February 1571 an agreement on a new border service was accepted after long discussions with M. I. Vorotinski, its originator, as the head of the service. It did not come into immediate practice, as the events soon after show.

King Sigismund Augustus urged the Tatars to decisive action. He said that so far no one had taken anything from the Moscow Prince's lands. The Russians had 50,000 troops deployed on the Oka River line in three polki under the commanders D. Bel'sky, Ivan Mstislavsky, and Mikhail Vorotynsky at Kolomna, Kashir, and Serpukhov. Ivan was at Serpukhov with his Oprichniki army. Devlet Gerei finally penetrated the Oka line with 120,000 Tatars.(181) Traitors showed the Tatars the fords, which they crossed and made straight for Moscow. Ivan retreated to Rostov while his generals rushed for Moscow where they arrived on 23 May, just one day before the Tatars. The Tatars set fire to the city, burning many inhabitants and preventing the defenders from fighting back effectively. The Tatars took 150,000 prisoners but couldn't loot the burning city. The Nogai also participated in this attack and simultaneously Nogai Tatars attacked Kazan. The Nogai told the Muscovite envoys that the raid was by people separate from the Great Nogai Horde, but clearly the Horde did participate.(182)

On 7 July King Sigismund Augustus died. The Polish kingship had been hereditary in practice in the Jagellion family, but was now free for election. The Poles elected Henry of Valois, but he soon left to be king of France. Then Stefan Batory, Prince of Transylvania, was elected King.

During the summer Ivan was at Novgorod. Mikhail Vorotynsky was commander-in-chief of the defense line on the Oka with his main polk at Serpukhov. The right polk was at Tarus, the lead at Kaluga, the Storozhevoi at Kashir and the left at Lopasna. In August Devlet Gerei repeated his advance and approached Serpukhov. He sent 2,000 of his 120,000 men off in a feint, but Vorotynsky was not fooled. The Tatars crossed the Oka but met strong opposition in a series of battles south of Moscow near Molodi and were forced to retreat. The Russians captured Devei Mirsa in the battle. The successful battle was a result of the strengthening of the line and the building of fortifications along the Oka and of the new border service that gave timely warning of Tatar movements.

There was an uprising in Kazan beginning in 1572 that continued and required large forces to suppress. In the fall, the Tsar sent five polki to Kazan and the Cheremish lands. The campaign continued into the winter.

On 2 August Ivan heard of Vorotynsky's victory so he returned to Moscow and disbanded the Oprichnina and prepared to invade Esthonia. Ivan had lost confidence in the Oprichniki; some were implicated in the Novgorod conspiracy. Ivan's favorite, Malyuta Skuratov, had recently died in the assault of Wittenstein and the Oprichnina failure to defend Moscow showed their military weakness. It was the zemshchina boyars who repelled the second Tatar invasion. Again the problem of reallocation of the land and reorganization of the government and seniority of the two groups of serving men disrupted the military service and hurt the army.(183)

There were five polki on the Oka and five polki at Kazan suppressing the rebellion there. In September the Crimean tsarevich approached Riazan. At first the voevodi of the border cities encountered him. Then the voevoda of the main polk at Serpukhov, Prince C. D. Pronski, marched against him. The Kazan inhabitants, learning of the large force sent against them, asked for negotiations. The Russian answer to the participation of the Great Horde Nogai in the raids of 1571 and 1572 was a swift campaign of repression by military forces from Tsaritsin.(184)

The Nogai chief, Tinekmhat, asked Devlet Gerei for help, as the Nogai had helped the Crimeans in 1571 and 1572, but Devlet did not send any help. In the fall the Crimeans and Nogai raided on the Riazan border. The voevoda, Prince B. Serebryani, defended the area. The Kazan Tatars also raided near Nizhni Novgorod. The Cossacks were also busy, capturing the suburbs of Azov and freeing many Russians.(185)

Mikhail Vorotynsky, the victor at Molodoi and commander of the frontier service, was arrested for the second time and sent to a monastery, but he died on the way. Ivan placed Prince Simeon Bekbulatovich on the throne as Tsar while Ivan lived outside the city. There were no Tatar raids in 1575.(186)

Tsar Ivan and his son were at Kaluga. Devlet Gerei began a campaign into Russia but the voevodi on duty stopped him in August and captured Islam Kermin in the engagement. Ivan and the chief voevodi then returned to Moscow leaving the second rank voevodi in charge along the “shore” with deti boyarski, streltsi, Don Cossacks, and Cherkassi forces in the usual polk distribution. In September the Tatars approached Novgorod Seversk and the Orel region so the disposition of the polki was reviewed. A council of military people was called in Novgorod for Christmas. Tsar Ivan decided to attack Poland-Lithuania and Sweden early in the next year.(187)

Renewed war with Poland-Lithuania

On 23 January 1577 the Russian army began the siege of Revel. The Swedish garrison held the town successfully. In the spring, Ivan assembled one of his strongest armies in Novgorod and Pskov for the attack on Poland. The Poles and their German mercenaries retreated and the Russians captured six towns. On 8 July the Tsar went to Livonia in person and the campaign continued successfully with the seizure of many towns. It was the last success and the cities were soon lost.

Ivan ordered King Magnus to capture Wenden, but while the king was beginning the operation, Ivan decided that he was a traitor and had him arrested. Ivan then undertook the siege himself. The German troops of Magnus locked themselves in the fortress which Ivan then bombarded with artillery for two days. As the walls began to collapse, the Germans blew themselves and their families up and destroyed the fort. The explosion ruined the town and killed most of the inhabitants. Ivan continued his conquest; only Riga and Revel remained. He returned to Alexandrovsk, satisfied with his victory.

The southern guard polki were in Serpukhov, Tarus, Kaluga, Kolomna, and Kashir for this year. On 29 June Devlet Gerei died and a civil war began between his sons, Mahmet Gerei soon won and continued the attacks on Russia. The Tatars launched raids on both Poland and Russia and the Great Nogais also attacked Muscovy. The Swedes attacked Narva and set fire to the wooden fort while other Swedish forces ravaged the Kexholm area. The Lithuanians captured Duneburg. King Batory's German mercenaries captured Wenden. When Ivan sent his best generals to retake the town, King Batory came in person and drove them away.(188)

King Stephen Batory hoped to open his main campaign in 1578, but was unable to mass his army in time. Many Poles opposed the war. He did organize a Cossack regiment of 500 men under the Starosta of Cherkassy, Prince Mikhail Vishnevetsky. This was the beginning of the “registered” Cossacks.(189) During the war of 1579-81, Mikhail Vishnevetsky and other leaders conducted many Cossack raids on the towns of Severia and looted the area of Starodub, but they would not cooperate with the regular Polish army in the siege of Pskov. The Zaporozhie Cossacks did not participate at all, as they were more interested in fighting the Turks and Tatars.(190)

The Tatar Mursa, Esineu Diveev, repeated the usual raids with 6,000 Tatars from Kaziev, 2,000 from Azov, 2,000 from the Great Horde, and 2,000 other Nogais.(191)

Poland declares war

Stephen Batory sent his declaration of war to Moscow in June and attacked Polotsk with 60,000 well equipped Polish and German troops. Ivan was ready with his troops mobilized early. He had detachments on the Volga, Don, Oka, and Dnieper Rivers to guard the border. The main army was at Novgorod, Pskov, and Smolensk, expecting an attack in Livonia. Polotsk was well fortified with two forts and the River Dvina making a natural moat, so the Russians did not expect an attack there. The siege began on 11 August with a heavy bombardment that soon made the Russians surrender. In August Ivan sent 20,000 Asiatic troops into Courland to ravage the area and sent detachments to defend Karelia and Izborsk from the Swedes. He sent a small force to help Polotsk but the commander did not dare attack Batory. Ivan might have overwhelmed the Poles, if he had sent his main army to Polotsk. He was probably too cautious to risk all on one battle while not trusting his generals. The western armies now had trained mercenaries, who quickly showed the military inferiority of Moscow, especially in infantry. Batory returned to Vilna and prepared for the 1580 campaign, while Ivan prepared to defend all the southern and southeastern frontiers against the Tatars and the northwest against the Swedes, who attacked Narva and Kexholm. Fortunately, there was no Tatar attack in 1579.(192)

King Stephen Batory again surprised the Russians by appearing at an unexpected place. This time he sent 2,000 men toward Smolensk and with 50,000 men himself, besieged Veliki Luki. The Poles bombarded the city and burned the walls, then the Hungarian troops led the assault that culminated in the sack of the town. This ended the campaign except minor operations that lasted through the winter. The Swedes invaded and captured Kexhom in Karelia, Padis in Esthonia, and Wesenberg in Livonia. The Russians had to be content with ravaging the Lithuanian towns again. The Poles did not support Batory's idea of conquering Moscow, so he could not count on their strong support.(193)

The Great Horde Nogai Tatars again went to war with Muscovy. They began in the winter of 1579 to call for Tatar warriors from the south. They sent to the Cheremis to tell them of the impending campaign against the Meshchersk and Riazan areas.(194)

The Nogai Horde made a large scale attack on the right bank of the Volga and began a raid into Russia in the spring. Only the Mursa, Tinbau, reached Rus lands, with 8,000 men, but the total party was over 25,000 Nogais plus the Cheremish, Azov Tatars, and Lesser Nogai. At the head of this army were the Crimean tsarevich and the Azov leader, Dosmahmet. The raid covered a large territory including Belev, Kolomna, and Alator. Simultaneously, an uprising in Kazan caused the Moscow government to send four polki to Kazan. The same year Prince Uris of the Nogais, in retaliation for a Cossack raid on Saraichik, sold the Muscovite ambassador, P. Devochkin and his party as slaves to Bukhara and other eastern countries. This brought Muscovite retribution in the form of sizeable raids on his villages.

Stephen Batory set Pskov as the objective of his third campaign. It was the most strongly fortified city in Muscovy even including the capital. Batory overestimated his strength and the quality of his troops. The Pskov garrison of 50,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry was under the command of V. F. Skopin-Shuisky and Ivan P. Shuisky and had plenty of supplies. On 26 August Batory's army of 100,000 laid siege. The Polish cannon breached the walls but their assault failed with heavy losses. The Poles expended all their powder and had to await for new supplies. They tried to continue the siege through the winter, but the Polish troops nearly mutinied. The Polish general, Jan Zamolski, conducted the siege at Pskov while the Lithuanian Hetman, Christopher Radziwill, attacked from Veliki Luki. The Swedes made serious attacks on Narva and captured it as well as Ivangorod, Yam, and Kororie.

In September Ermak Timofeev with 800 men began the conquest of Siberia with battles at Babason and on the Irtysh River. It was a contest of his firearms versus the Tatar bows. The Tatars had many more men, but Ermak defeated them on the Irtysh and again at their capitol, Tobol. On 23 October he again defeated them.(195)

The ambassador of the Emperor Rudolf II, Erich Lassota, visited the Sech, located on Tomakovka Island lower down the Dnieper than Khortitsa Island. He found the Cossack army had 3,000 men in reserve in the Ukraine. The Sech was a military camp known as the Kosh, (from a Turkish word) and divided into Kuren (from a Mongol word for a circle of tents). The commander was the Kosh Ataman. The army was divided into 500 man polki of 5 sotni each. It had its own banners, band of music, treasury, artillery, and river flotilla.(196)

Armistice between Poland and Moscow

On 6 January Moscow and Poland agreed to ten year armistice. The siege of Pskov was not succeeding, so Stephen Batory decided to take his gains. Moscow lost the whole of Livonia plus Polotsk and Velizh. After the Livorian war's conclusion, Ivan could return to suppress the uprising in Kazan. In 1582 he made large scale campaign to the east. He sent two polki to the Kama River region against Nogai. In April the polki went down the Volga by boat to Kazin Island and in October, several other polki went against the Luga Cheremis. Besides their participation in the Kazan uprising, the Great Nogai attacked the Moscow border.(197)

The peace in the Livonian war enabled the Moscow government to make major changes on the southern defense line. First, in 1582 a second line of polks deployed parallel with the traditional line along the “shore” that is, the Oka. The new line was across the river and was under the control of the Ukraine Razryad. Only after 1582 were there enough troops available to man both these lines. The new stations were Tula, Dedilov, and a third town that varied. This greatly strengthened the defense line. The two lines remained until 1598, then in 1599 the “shore” line was abandoned and the polki located only in the Ukraine towns. This moved the line considerably forward. The Main polk was then at Mtsensk, the lead at Novosil and the stroshovoi at Orel.(198)

During the 1580's the Moscow government undertook to strengthen the southeastern border by building many fortified towns and strengthening the defense of Kazan. The war in the Kazan area continued throughout 1583. A Muscovite campaign army stayed on the Volga, building forts such as Kazmodem Yanski Ostrog.(199)

Tsar Ivan IV died in 1584 leaving the throne to his young son, Feodor.



It did not take Ivan IV long to realize that the Muscovite military machine was in need of major reforms. He conducted his first campaigns against Kazan while still a teenager and was indignant at the failure of his large army to capture the city. The army was not properly organized, controlled administered or equipped to do the tasks he had in mind for it. Specifically, the deficiencies were as follows; The army was not sufficiently under the centralized control of the Tsar. The discipline of the boyars and dvoriani was poor. Selection of senior officers was by family precedence "mestnichestvo" and not by merit or loyalty to the Tsar. The dvoriani cavalry was too few, in part because landowners were not reporting for service. The army lacked sufficient infantry armed with firearms. The army needed even more artillery. The army lacked administrative organs and a cadre of officers loyal to the Tsar's person. (We add here two essays by Dr. Col. Dianne Smith on Ivan's military reforms and the Muscovite military.

Ivan attempted to solve these problems, but was not successful in obtaining all the reforms he desired. His desired reforms were as follows:

Later in his reign he realized that he could not achieve his foreign policy goals, which centered on offensive war in the west and defensive war in the east and south without further reforms. The country could not fight a two-front war without preparing defenses on one front. Therefore Ivan created a special frontier guard organization to patrol the southern front, and began the system of fortifications along that frontier.

The Tsar also came to believe that he could not trust his generals or his regular army units to carry out his policies. He therefore organized a special army known as the "oprichnina."

Creation of Streltsi

The first military reform was the creation of a permanent body of infantry armed with firearms. This unit was the famous streltsi who continued to form an important part of the Tsar's army until Peter I disbanded it. Here is an essay on the Streltsi.

The historical literature contains varied opinions on the date of formation of the streltsi. Most say the middle of the 16th century or the reign of Ivan IV. This is because there are no documentary records of their foundation, only reports of the appearance of the streltsi after their formation. Some accounts give the last part of the 15th century as the date because they link the streltsi to the pishchal'niki.

Two basic points of view on this question are stated by Professors A. V. Chernov and A. A. Zimin. Professor Chernov has accumulated evidence to support his claims that the streltsi were first formed in 1545 and that they were not part of the pishchalniki, but a new and distinct creation. Professor Zimin adduces evidence to show that the date of formation was 1550 and that the streltsi were a direct outgrowth of the pishchalniki.

The "select" streltsi, created in 1550 were organized in detachments of 500 men each, "prikazi." Each detachment contained sotni (hundreds), fifties and tens, under the command of a sotnik, fifties commanders and decurians, from the deti boyarski. The leaders of the "prikazi" were Grigori Zhelobov Pusheshnikov for the first, the d'yak, Rzhevski, for the second, Ivan Cheremisinov for the third, Vasili Pronchishchev for the fourth, Feodor Durasov for the fifth, and Yakob Bundov for the sixth.

The select streltsi were soldiers of superior skill, but all the streltsi were better trained and organized that the other components of the army. Their superiority resulted from their living in a special suburb and receiving a permanent salary, both of which enabled then to develop greater profesionalism at first. In the next century, however, they became a living anachroism and their professionalism evaporated. They could therefore train together and be ready for immediate service. The creation of the streltsi did not eliminate the pishchalniki. For major campaigns the government continued to conscript men for this service as well. The term went out of use gradually and the streltsi force grew to include all the infantry armed with firearms and formed in the 500 man units. 1

Reorganization of dvoriani cavalry

The second reform was the reorganization of the dvoriani cavalry militia. This force was the heart and the main strength of the national ar heart and the main strength of the national army. Its reform involved and as military training measures designed to put it on a more effective basis and bring it under the direct control of the Tsar.

One phase of this reform was the Tsar's effort to abolish "mestnichestvo," the system of precedence by family that made it a matter of family honor never to serve under an individual from a junior ranking family. In the fall of 1549 Ivan began a campaign against Kazan. On the way there, the Tsar called the religious leaders and boyars to a meeting at which he tried to convince them that the campaign was so significant to the state that everyone should serve wherever the Tsar directed. He promised to decide all questions of precedence after the campaign and assured all that service beneath one's "rank" would in no way constitute a dishonor. The fact he had to call for religious support is an indication of the strength of the "mestnichestvo" custom and its harmful effect. The boyars agreed, but the agreement did not achieve its purpose. There was still much bickering over place during the campaign.

Tsar Ivan decided to take legal steps and ordered, while still on campaign, preparations for a meeting on the subject. In July 1550 the Tsar, Metropolitan, and boyars discussed the issue and reached two agreements. Ivan did not achieve his desires and was forced to compromise.

The first agreement stated, in effect, that if an individual went on service “not by rank” (in other words as a private soldier holding no office) in a unit commanded by a person of lower “family rank” the private would not lose “family rank.” This eliminated mestnichestvo pretensions from the side of the private soldiers toward their voevode commander. The elimination of mestnichestvo between privates and between privates and commander helped strengthen discipline and raised the authority of the voevoda thus improving the military capability of the unit.

But “mestnichestvo” between individuals appointed as voevodi remained. The second agreement was an accommodation of “mestnichestvo” to the ranks of the voevodi of the various units of the army. The reform established a chain of command, that would, they hoped, eliminate arguments about who should obey whom on the battlefield. The chain of command was as follows. The chief voevoda of the main “great” polk was to be commander-in-chief of the entire army. All voevodi of other polki were subordinate to him. The voevodi of the remaining four polki were equal to each other and to the second voevoda of the main polk. Except that the first voevoda of the left polk was to be lower than the first voevoda of the right polk. Within the polki the voevodi, (second, third, etc.) were correspondingly subordinate to their chiefs.

The service place of the polk voevoda as set up by the agreement of 1550 remained in effect until the middle of the 17th century, when the old polki themselves were discarded. The agreement determined the relations between voevodi and improved leadership and settled arguments. Nevertheless, despite the new system the boyars and dvoriani continued to argue and display their self conceit during selection of who was to be the voevoda of each polk.

Select dvoriani

The next reform measure was the selection of “1000” dvoriani to be granted lands near Moscow. The Tsar boyars agreed on 1 October 1550 select 1000 men and place them on pomestie within 60 to 70s verst of Moscow in the regions of Moscow, Dmitrov, Zvenigorod and other towns. The selected individuals were to move from their previous estates, which, however, they did not lose. There were to be three classes of pomestie, the first of 200, the second of 150 and the third of 100 chertverts in size. In all there were actually 1078 men chosen.

These men were listed in a special “thousand book”, much of which is still available for study today. However, there is no evidence that they received the land. It seems that Ivan was unable to find enough unoccupied land or to confiscate enough other land to accomplish this scheme. The men enrolled and apparently served their function.

Professor Chernov indicates that this function was to provide a cavalry counterpart to the infantry streltsi; in other words to be an elite bodyguard. He also writes that they spent their time near Moscow unless on service. In peace time they served as governors of cities or heads of projects such as the construction of forts. In wartime most were polk voevodi and heads of 100's, heads of streltsi, or commanders of cossack, artillery, or militia units. Many were middle level commanders and others were staff officers such as quartermasters or engineers. They also conducted the census and performed other civil duties. Thus they could hardly have been available for service as a bodyguard, although they no doubt did constitute a personal suite for the Tsar. Their function was to strengthen the Tsar's control, not just guard his person.

The agreement of 1550 began the reorganization of the service required of dvoriani and boyars and reached final form in the Ulozhenia on service of 1556. In 1556 the decree on abolishing “kormelenia” was announced. This system had been much abused and was a source of discontent as well as a factor in the private power of the boyars. With the end of “kormelenia” a new system of taxation was established called “okup”. Under this system the taxes went directly to the Tsar's treasury, giving him better control and the financial means to pay his officials and soldiers himself. A special financial department was established to supervise this function.

With the abolishment of “kormelenia” and the limitation of “mestnichestvo” the boyars became servants of the Tsar, dependent on his treasury.

The agreement of 1556 decided the question of service also. The main point was the decision establishing an obligatory connection between service and land. The owners of votchini as well as pomestii were required to serve. Those with over 100 chertverti would supply one man with horse and full armor; for campaigns the man would bring two horses. Those who did not serve paid money for the salary of another. The new requirement meant that the owners of votchini, who had served separate princes or not at all, now had to serve the government. This brought to service many more landowners and significantly increased the size of the cavalry militia.

To further increase the size of his army Ivan attempted to obtain more land by secularizing the lands of the monasteries and churches. This he was unable to do. He seized the lands of every owner who evidenced the least opposition to his policies.

To administer the dvoriani militia two central offices were established; the Razryad Prikaz to act as an operations center, and the Pomestie Prikaz to act as a supply and paymaster organ for the dvoriani.

Reform of the frontier services

By 1570 Ivan realized that he could not conduct the war in the west against Livonia and Lithuania successfully with the Tatars making yearly raids into the heart of the realm from the south. Ivan therefore called for reform of the storozhevoi and stanichnoi services. These were the patrol and fixed station services that provided early warning of approaching Tatar forces along the southern and southeastern borders.

The renowned military commander, M. I. Vorotinski, who was also the boyar voevoda of the southern region, was entrusted with reorganization of the defenses. In January and February of 1571 all the elected representatives of the deti boyarski and dvoriani in the southern cities were called to Moscow for a conference on the problem.

Tsar Ivan directed Vorotinski to meet with the representatives and work out a solution using their experience to design a defense system that would provide warning of attack sufficient to enable the government to assemble the army. The congress discussed the details: such as from which cities, in which directions, to what places, and at what distances the patrols should operate; and where to place the stationary posts to gain the maximum effect. Border chiefs were designated from the various towns and the number of men to be called from each town was established.

Michael Tufyakin and the Dyak, Rzhevski, were designated chiefs for the Crimea side of the border and Yuri Bulgakov and Boris Khokhov were to be chiefs of the Nogai side. All were to report the situation to the congress. By the middle of February the congress finished its work and on the 16th published the agreement on stations and watch service.

The general purpose of the document was to make the defense more exacting and fix responsibility so that everyone would know who was in charge of each function and locality. The fulfillment of the mission of defense fell on the station chiefs and patrol leaders. The watch was by turns with the patrol moving back and forth across the front. The watch was to remain mounted and form dispersed picket lines and frontier posts to interdict the Tatar routes. Building fires or staying twice in the same spot were prohibited. All the rules on their activities had the aim of hiding them from the Tatars.

The pickets took their posts each year on the 1st of April and remained on duty until the next winter. The most dangerous season for Tatar raids was the summer. Central control of the southern defense was in the southernmost cities, Putivl and Ril'sk. From these and the other frontier towns, the watch set forth beginning on 1 April for 6 week tours of duty. After six weeks the second set of patrols went out and then in 6 weeks the third patrols. Then the first patrol went again, this time on a one month tour due to the more difficult period. The watch was forbidden to leave their post until the relief patrol arrived so that there would not be an hour without watchmen on duty.

Besides the border picket posts, there were mobile detachments. These patrols went into the field simultaneously from the same cities as the picket patrols. Each large city sent out 8 mobile patrols. These units went out in turn on two week tours on the 1st and 15th of every month. After 4 months, on 1 August the first patrol went out a second time and the order repeated until 1 December. If there was still no snow, yet another series of patrols went out in the same order.

In case a patrol was dispersed or captured, another patrol quickly took its place and the roster changed accordingly. The duties of the patrol and the posts were to be done mounted. Each man had two poor horses. The agreement especially spelled out the duties of the pickets and patrols in case of the appearance of the enemy. Upon discovery of the Tatars each man was to send his comrade to notify the nearest border town and he himself was to go to the rear of the approaching enemy force and discover the number of the enemy present. All information obtained at a town passed to the local defense center. If the enemy forces were large, the leaders and guard left their place and united for common action with the patrol that was following in the Tatar rear.

Having gathered sufficient information on the number of the enemy and his route the patrolmen went to the city in the path of the enemy. The border guard had special responsibility to send out information. The agreement established measures for punishment of individuals who failed in their duties. Guards were knouted, if it was discovered that they were careless or did not reach the borders of their assigned areas. The mobile patrol was also forbidden to leave its post until relieved. The penalty for major misconduct such as leaving one's post was death. Anyone being late on his relief was fined.

A list of the names of the men from each city who served on each tour went immediately from the voevoda to Moscow. All the information entered the Razryad books, that were kept until the middle of the 17th century.

Patrol duty was performed mostly by city cossacks, however the government also called local residents into service. The new, organization put the burden of frontier defence on all the border cities in one uniform structure. As a result of the reform a general roster of the post and patrol guards was created for each town. The personal condition of the border guards was improved, inspections were made, and responsibility established.

The results of the reform did not come immediately. It was created one year too late to take affect by the summer of 1571, the very year that the Khan succeeded in penetrating the defenses and burning Moscow. However, the next year, when the Crimeans again attempted to raid Moscow, they were defeated 50 miles from the city. That the Russian army assembled in time in 1572 was largely due to the early warning provided by the new frontier guard service.


The arguments of Professor Zimin are much more persuasive. The difference in five years in the date of formation of the streltsi is not so important in itself except that, if the correct date is 1550, then it can be considered to be a part of the general military reform of that year.

Most interesting is the way the issue is used for other purposes. The reason Professor Chernov wants to prove 1545 is the date is because Marx said 1545 was the date. Professor Zimin simply says Marx had his dates mixed up. The reason Professor Chernov wants to see the streltsi as a unique and new organization is because he wants then to claim this organization as an example of Russia's leading place in military history. Unfortunately this is an example of the type of inaccuracy distortion that is all too common in the Soviet literature. Professor Zimin lacks such interest. The data on size of the army given by Ian Grey seems hardly credible. He says the Tsar had 150,000 troops in 1560 and 309,000 in 1580. According to Chernov and Razin the statutes on service were not as strictly enforced as Grey suggests.

For further details see: A. V. Chernov, "The Formation of the Streltsi" Istorichski Zapiski No. 38, 1957 and Vooruzhennie Sili Russokogo Gosudarstva. A. A. Zimin, "K Istorii Vvennikh Reform 50 Godov XVI veke" Istoricheskie Zapiski no. 55, 1956 and S. L. Margolin's review of Vooruzhennie Sili Russkogo Gosudarstva in Voprosi Istorii 1955 No. 4, p. 155.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN - REIGN OF FEODOR IVANOVICH - 1584-1598 - {short description of image}

Summary of Reign:

Feodor's reign (1584 - 1598) was marked by relative peace and quite. The Tsar concerned himself with private religious exercises and visits to monasteries, leaving the government to the control of his brother-in-law, Boris. He did personally join his army in 1590 during the campaign against the Swedes at Narva. And his army under direction of Boris did win an important victory over the Tatars just outside Moscow.


In January, five polki marched against the Luga Cheremish. The main and right polki came from Murom, the lead polk from Elat'm, the storozhevoi polk from Yurets, and the left polk from Balakhn.(200) Tsar Ivan IV died in 1584. His minor son, Feodor (Theodore), who was married to the sister of Boris Godunov, succeeded him.

In October three polki fought the Luga Cheremish. The town of Sanchursk was built in the Cheremish area. Later in the year three polki went from Pereyslavl-Ryazansk to Shatsk.

Khan Urus of the Great Nogai asked the Crimea for a joint campaign with the Turks against Moscow and Poland. Seadet, Murat, and Safat Gerei fled from the Crimea to Moscow. Their service proved useful to Ivan, who wanted to put one of his men on the throne in Crimea as he had in Kazan earlier. Murat Gerei went to Astrakhan with Russian voevodi to watch over him. This maneuver was effective in forcing the Nogai to return to Muscovite control.(201)

Russia received the envoy of Tsar Aleksandr of Kakhetia in the Caucasus and agreed to give protection to his people. This brought on war with the Moslem state of Tarki on the Caspian seacoast near Derbend.

The Crimean Tatar Khan, Islam Gerei, led a large raid of 30,000 Crimeans and 2,000 Kaziev Tatars, to the Muscovite border.

The Russians built Samara and Ufa in 1586.(202)

In the spring Dosmahmet led 3,000 Azov and lesser Nogai Tatars on a raid to the Muscovite border. In June the two Crimean tsarevichi with 40,000 men attacked Plov. On the way back they seized the Ostrog at Krapvi and burned it.(203)

The brother of the dead Islam Gerei, Kazi Gerei, became Khan of Crimea. He wanted to improve the internal situation in Crimea and establish Crimean power over the Nogai. The danger posed by Murat Gerei at Astrakhan also concerned him, therefor there were no Crimean raids on Moscow in 1588, 1589, or 1590.

In 1588 the Great Nogai moved toward Crimea with a large army, but as they crossed the Don they were met in battle by the Kazievski Tatars under Yakshisat. So Khan Urus of the Nogais gathered his forces and attacked the Kazievtsi and routed them. Both Yakshisat and Urus died in the battle. The losses sustained in this battle prevented these Tatars from attacking Moscow for many years. Tsaritsyn was built in 1588 at the key portage on the Volga.(204)

Official peace with all neighbors was not broken by any recorded Tatar attacks.(205)

War with Sweden

In the name of Tsar Feodor, Boris Godunov demanded from King John III of Sweden the return to the territories taken by the Swedes in 1583. The Swedes refused, therefor Boris launched his attack in January 1590. Before invading he evaluated the Tatar threat and took measures to strengthen the southern defense line by repairing the facilities and increasing the number of troops on the line. He also increased the number of Don Cossacks, and took into service Cherkass (Ukrainian Cossacks) fleeing from Poland. The constant Tatar threat prevented the Russians from concentrating all forces against Sweden. The contemporary sources exaggerate the size of the Russian army, as usual, by crediting Boris with 100,000 men when he could not have had over 50,000; but he did have 300 cannon. Winter operations proved agreeable to the Russians as they took Yam while the lead polk defeated a Swedish detachment, but they could not capture Narva. On 25 February the Swedes signed a one year truce in which they gave up Yam, Ivangorod, and Kopor'e, thus giving the Russians an exit to the Baltic Sea again.(206)

There was no Tatar attack in 1590. On the southern frontier, fortification work continued with the founding of Saratov and Sunzhenski Gorod.(207)

The truce having ended, the Swedes began the siege of Ivangorod, but were unable to take the town, so the Swedish field commander concluded a 12 year truce with the Russians. The Swedish king, learning of the impending Tatar attack and expecting that the Russian troops would be withdrawn to fight the Tatars, refused to ratify the truce and ordered his generals to renew military operations. By the end of the winter 1590-1591, the Swedes had burned some towns near Yam and Kopor'e. During the summer, while the Tatars were attacking Moscow, the Swedes defeated the Russian lead polk under the command of Prince Dolgorukov near the Baltic.(208)

Meanwhile, Kazi Gerei spent the winter preparing for a major attack. He tricked the Russian ambassador to Crimea, Bibikov, into thinking the attack was to be against Lithuania, which the ambassador duly reported to Moscow, causing the government to undertake no special defensive measures for the year. The usual polki went to the “shore”, however, with voevodi in Kaluga and Serpukhov. The Khan gathered all possible Tatar units and even had artillerymen sent by the Turkish sultan. On 26 June, Moscow received word from the patrol units that 150,000 Tatars were moving toward Tula. The main Russian forces were in Novgorod and Pskov defending against the Swedes. The government called up all local troops to “shore” duty and ordered the voevodi to assemble them in Serpukhov. The Commander-in-chief was Prince Fedor I. Mstislavski.

On 27 June further information from the patrols and guard posts revealed that the Tatars were headed straight for Moscow. The city immediately prepared for the siege. A Dutch witness, Issak Massa, reported that Boris ordered all Muscovites over 20 years age enrolled and put them to work on the city walls. Many cannon were mounted in the towers and on the walls.

Boris sent a new order to the voevodi to move immediately to Moscow. On 1 July the polki united near Moscow in Kolomenski. By then the “gulaya gorod”, the mobile field fort, had been built in the space in front of Moscow where the Moscow River makes a deep bend north, toward the city. The fort stretched from the Danilov Monastery across the open space to the river on the other side, blocking the access route to the city for the Tatar cavalry. The width of the fort was 3 kilometers and its depth 4 kilometers.(209)

On 2 July the Russian army moved from Kolomenski to the "gulaya gorod" and prepared for battle. On the evening of 3 July the Tsar's polk and Boris's guard arrived. Boris assigned command to Prince Mstislavsky and himself acted as chairman of the military council.

The Tatars crossed the Oka near Teshilovo between Serpukhov and Kashir, and spent the night on the Lopasna River, then they defeated a 250 man detachment of deti-boyarski holding the Pakhur River and moved on Moscow. On 4 July the Tatars reached the capital and spread out by Kolomenski. At dawn Khan Kazi Gerei observed the Russian dispositions and sent in a detachment to test the defenses.(210) The Tatar cavalry moved to attack the mobile fort. Prince Mstislavski, observing the attackers coming, ordered the voevodi to send out small detachments to wear out the enemy. The voevodi selected the best sotniki for the job of tiring the Tatars. The Rotmiesters of the Lithuanian and German druzhinas were also ordered to take their forces out to oppose the Tatars.

As the enemy cavalry approached within range, the voevodi ordered the artillery to open fire from the "gulaya gorod." Several thousand Tatars pressed in, firing their bows and filling the sky with clouds of arrows. Then on the right and left flanks the fort was opened and the picked sotni and the druzhina rode out to do battle. The skirmishes lasted all day with the Tatars suffering significant losses. This made Kazi Gerei waver in his decision to attack in force. Prince Mstislavski decided to give only defensive battle so the skirmishing never reached the intensity of a pitched battle.

During the night the Russians conducted an intense cannon fire from all the city towers and walls and from the moveable fort. This was to prevent a night assault on the city and perhaps to raise the morale of the defending troops and population.

Seeing and hearing the gunfire from the large collection of artillery, Kazi Gerei ordered the interrogation of prisoners to learn what it was about. One prisoner told him that it was due to joy in the town because a large multitude of troops had arrived from western countries and from Novgorod and Pskov in response to the Tsar's previous appeal for aid. The population was merely greeting the relief force. The Khan considered the situation unfavorable. Despite his careful plans for a surprise attack he had met a well organized defense and his forces had suffered considerable losses already in one day of battle. With the arrival of more troops he could expect that the Russians would attack the next morning so he ordered an immediate retreat in darkness, with the campfires left burning to conceal the departure. At Kolomenski the Tatars discarded part of their trains and in 24 hours were crossing the Oka, 100 kilometers from Moscow.

On the morning of July 5th the Russians found the Tatars long gone. This shows that the Russians failed to organize night reconnaissance. Light cavalry units pursued the Tatars, but it was already too late to do more than catch the rear guard at Tula. The pursuit continued into the steppe. Kazi Gerei was wounded and the Tatars returned to Crimea in a demoralized condition. Boris was cautious and did not send his main forces to pursue the Tatars because he well knew their habitual tactic of using a retreat to draw the enemy forces into the steppe where the Tatar light cavalry could surround and destroy them. Three days after the battle the polki went back to the defense line through Serpukhov. The Donskoi monastery was later built on the site of the battle as both a memorial and fortress to protect that sector from future attack.

The Tatars attacked again in 1592 at Riazan, Kashir, and Tula but did not try to attack Moscow. Boris ordered the strengthening of the defense line from Bryansk to Murom, and the construction of additional towns. Elets was built in 1592.(211)

The Tatar attacks did not distract the Russian troops from the main theater of war as the Swedish king had expected. In 1592 the Russians attacked in Finland near Viborg and Abo with good success.

Armistice with Sweden

Military operations on the Swedish front ceased and peace negotiations began.

In 1593 the Ottoman Sultan, Mahomet III, again began offensive war in the Balkans against the Austrians. There were sieges all along the line from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.(212) The Tatars were a major part of the Ottoman army. The Sultan called then to support the Turks in Moldavia and Poland as well as Hungary. This opened a large area of operations for the Tatars. The Turks gave them a money subsidy and the prisoners and booty, so this was to the Tatar liking. The war raised the power of the Tatar Khan in the Ottoman councils, where he was a member of the military council. The Khan had 70,000 Tatars in Hungary and feared an attack on Crimea while he was away. Feti Gerei also had 15,000 men with him in Poland on campaigns that took place each year until 1606-7. These fully kept the Tatars busy and gained them so much booty that raids on Muscovy were not worth their while. However, the Azov and Kaziev Tatars did conduct attacks on the Moscow area led by the Azov aga, Dosmahmet, but they were not dangerous.(213)

During this period, Russian strengthening of its influence in the Caucasus put pressure on Crimea for peace. In 1593 the cossacks attacked Azov for the first time. All the lesser Nogais and Kaziev Tatars mobilized to defeat the cossacks. The Sultan complained about this cossack raid, and about the Russian forts on the Terek River, and Georgian relations with Moscow. He also wanted Kazan and Astrakhan returned.(214)

In the Ukraine a major cossack revolt gained some headway but was then defeated at Zhitomir by the Polish nobility. The cossacks lost 26 cannon and 2,000 men. They returned to Zaporozhie and petitioned Tsar Fedor for help that he refused. In the summer 2,000 cossacks besieged Cherkassy, on the Dnieper. The cossack leader, Kasinsky, died in the battle that Starosta Vishnevetsky, won. The Pope sent an envoy to the cossacks with money to gain their support in war against the Turks. The emperor also sent an envoy to obtain aid.(215)

Negotiations between Muscovy and Sweden continued (1594). In April Kazi Gerei signed a peace treaty with Moscow, as did the Ottoman Sultan. The only military actions in Muscovy were small raids on the border by the Azov and Lesser Nogai Tatars.(216)

In the Ukraine two cossack groups formed, one to fight for the Pope and the other for the Emperor. The groups conducted joint operations into Moldavia, capturing Jazzy, and raiding Belgorod, Tiaginia, and Killia with 12,000 men. Under cossack control Moldavia swore allegiance to the Emperor, but this irritated the Poles who then invaded. The Polish army under Hetman Jan Zamoyski forced the new Hospodar to declare for Poland. The cossacks then turned on Poland and fought until 1596.(217)

The Swedes and Muscovites signed the Tyabzinski peace treaty in which the Swedes gave the Russians Yam, Ivangorod, Kopor'e and Karelia, This allowed the Russians again to gain access to the Baltic Sea. Fortification work continued in the south with the construction of the town of Kromy.(218)

The Azov Tatars under command of Dosmahmet again raided the Riazan area. In the Ukraine the Polish army under command of Zolkiewski surrounded the cossacks and compelled then to surrender. Many fled to the Russian Ukraine.(219)

The frontier fortress town, Kursk, was founded in 1597. The next year Tsar Feodor died, childless. He was the last of the Rurikid princes (not counting Vasilii Shuiski_) The throne was taken by his brother-in-law, Boris Goudonov.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN - REIGN OF BORIS GODUNOV - 1598 - 1605 - {short description of image}


Boris Gudonov was born around 1552 into a prominent family headquartered in Kostroma, an area that he continued to favor. The family also owned land around Viazma and Novgorod. Boris's father, Feodor; and uncle, Dmitrii, entered into the Oprichnina which brought Boris into Ivan's circle when Feodor died and Boris, along with a brother and sister, became wards of his uncle, who was chamberlain to the Oprichnina court. Moreover, Boris married in 1570 Maria Grigor'evna, daughter of Maliuta Skuratov. Boris remained in Ivan's favor even after the Oprichnina was abolished. Boris even was appointed to look after Ivan's son, Feodor. Feodor eventually married Boris's sister, Irina. Feodor's reign is discussed in the section on him.
But most of Boris's significant political and military activities took place during Feodor's reign while Boris was the actual power behind the throne. Among these was the supression of the efforts of the Nagoi and Shuiskii families and others to expand their influence at court. The Shuiskii's achieved their revenge later. However, the claim ( advanced as rumor) that Boris was the instigator of the death of Tsarevich Dmitrii at Uglich is false. Nevertheless between Pushkin's play and Musorgskii's opera in which the central theme is Boris's guilt, it may be that he is the most well known Russian ruler of the period as far as the English language world is concerned.
Feodor Ivanovich died without heir in 1598 bringing on a sucession crisis. The Shuiskii's had an indirect claim based on their being Rurikid princes. Feodor's widow, Irina, was recognized as ruler, even though there had been no female ruler in Rus since Olga and not even a male claiming legitimacy through a female line. But she declined and entered a convent. Boris also declined officially, but as Musorgskii depicts so well, was '"talked into" accepting the "popular" demand that he assume the throne.
Boris naturally hoped to pass the crown on to his son, also Feodor, and prepared him well. Boris also tried unsuccessfully through multiple avenues to find a suitable husband for his daughter, Ksenia.
In foreign, that is military, affairs Boris was successful on the Polish - Swedish front. He obained a truce from the former and regained the region containing Ivangorod, Kopor'ye and Yam fortresses from the latter.
But in internal, domestic affairs Boris was fated with what turned out to be an insurmountable confluence of difficulties. First, he faced the continual plotting by the opposing boyar - princely families who maintained their dynastic superiority to the upstart tsar. Second, he faced economic calamity with famine and opposition in the towns. Third and finally worst of all, there appeared the 'False Dmitri' with Polish backing, who could exploit the first two of Boris's difficulties.
The attack came through Severia, where there already was popular disapproval of the Muscovite government. Initially voyevodes Basmanov and Mstislavskii were victorious in driving False Dmitri's forces back. But after they were replaced by Dmitrii Shuiskii, the situation gradually changed. One has to suspect that this Shuiskii was thinking more about his family fortunes and less about keeping Boris on the throne. However, the military situation still favored Boris, when, in April 13, 1605 he suddenly died of a stroke.


In April Don Cossacks brought word of preparations of the Tatars for a new attack. Boris issued orders for a full mobilization on the Oka. On 20 April the cossacks reported advance elements of the Tatar force were attacking the border posts. Boris decided to head the army himself. On 2 May he left for field headquarters at Serpukhov. This was the largest field army yet mustered on the Oka. It contained mostly deti boyarski and dvoriani but also had large streltsi, cossack and artillery units. Service was proclaimed to be “Bezmestnichestvo” that is without regard for precedent of rank. As a psychological move, Boris gave his Tatar princes high places in the command. The Astrakhan Tsarevich, Arslan Kaybulich, headed the Main polk, the Kazakh Tsarevich, Uraz-Mahmet, headed the right polk, and the Siberian Tsarevich, Mahmet Kul, headed the lead polk. Captain Margert, a French mercenary in Boris's guard, described the scene as Boris greeted the envoys of the Tatar Khan. He assembled the entire army and lined both sides of the road for a distance with his artillery. The Tatars were suitably impressed and asked for peace. Boris then returned to Moscow and was crowned Tsar.(220)

Tsar Boris did not let the southern defense rest on impressive shows. He studied plans for new fortified towns and organized a flotilla on the Oka. His preventive campaign for 1598 was extremely important for the whole defense system. The Oka “shore” system was obsolete with so many people living south of it. A new line was needed, which Boris supplied with the construction of the fortified triangle of the towns of Mtsensk, Novosil, and Orel. South of this, Belgorod on Donets was built in 1598, along with Oskol the same year and Valuik in 1599.(221)

Boris took a bold step and constructed the fortress of Tsarev- Borisov, on the lower Oskol River near the Donets. This town, so near the Crimea, served as a defensive and offensive base. The importance Boris gave to this new fortress shows in his appointment of the military expert, Bogdan Bel'sky, to construct it. A detachment of service cossacks and one of the streltsi went to the fortress with new townspeople. Bel'sky also took his own dvor troops.(222)

In 1604 Tsar Boris Godunov obtained an agreement from Khan Ishterek of the Great Nogai that he would send 60,000 Nogai against Crimea if the Crimeans attacked Moscow and if the Kaziev Tatars would not oppose the move. If the Kaziev Tatars did oppose then, Ishterek explained, he could not send help because the Kaziev Tatars would attack his villages while his men were away. Tsar Boris told the Nogai of the rich Polish lands and the plunder they could get there if they would join him in a war on Poland. The khan agreed that the target was tempting but said that the distance was too far and his troops would need rations for the long journey. Also, he insisted on a joint campaign with Russian troops, specifically streltsi, in direct support of his raiders. Tsar Boris decided this would be too imposible to justify so he dropped the idea.

The same year Shah Abbas of Persia tried to organize a coalition against the Ottoman Turks composed of France, Russia, the Empire, and the Papacy. He sent his ambassador to the west via Moscow, but this scheme also fell through.

It was Boris himself who suffered the most in 1604, and at the hands of a brazen young adventurer, Dmitri the Pretender. In October Dmitri started for the Russian frontier with an army of 580 Polish and Muscovite hussars, 1,5O0 infantry, and 1400 cossacks. When he reached Kiev he had 20,000 followers of various types. His first major obstical was the well fortified town of Chernigov. The local inhabitants tied up the voevoda and surrendered the town. On November 12th his army reached 38,000 when 9,009 cossacks arrived. The next town was Novgorod-Seversk, also well fortified, and defended by Peter F. Basmatov the son and grandson of two of Ivan IV's chief generals. He had 500 streltsi and dvoriani in the citadel. Dmitri besieged the town, dug trenches, and prepared gabbions. He had 8 medium cannon and 6 falconets firing on the city, but his assault failed. Then he tried wooden turrets mounted on sledges to approach the walls, but this too failed.

Boris' relief army under Prince Fedor Ivanovich Mstislavsky numbering 40-50,000 men approached on 18 December. Dmitri's advance guard of 80O men met Boris' reconnaisance unit of several thousand Tatars and surprised them. On the 28th of December the armies met and began skirmishing, which continued until the 30th. On December 31st both armies deployed for a formal battle. Dmitri's left wing of 200 men attacked the Muscovites under Prince D. I. Shuiski and Prince Mikhail Kashin. Dmitri's other units gradually joined the battle on the left while his own guard attacked in the center. The Muscovite streltsi were left in a valley at some distance from the battle until Dmitri's infantry found them and drove them away. Thus Boris' army retreated 10 miles and dug in behind an abbatis. Dmitri lost 60 men to the Muscovite's 6,000.

Dmitri put his army into winter quarters. Most of his Polish nobility went home after demanding more pay and being refused. Then 12,000 more cossacks with cannon arrived. The Russian army meanwhile retired to Starodub for the winter.

Boris sent Vaslii Shuiski as the new commander to replace the wounded Mistislavski. By the end of January Boris had 70-80,000 men under arms. The Muscovites again advanced toward Dmitri's army at Dobrynichi. Dmitri's cossacks insisted on attacking. On 30 January they tried a surprise attack, but Vasilii Shuiski was too clever and had prepared for them. He discovered the attack and had his army drawn up for battle. The army formed in line with the 20,000 Tatars on the right wing, the Muscovites and foreign mercenaries next in line and 30,000 Muscovites formed the left wing. Dmitri had Polish mercenaries in the center, Zaporozhni cossacks on the right and his artillery and Muscovites on the left. The armies converged. Cannon on both sides opened fire. Dmitri's main attack with cavalry tried to cut between the Muscovites and a village. Then the Tsar's right wing advanced with the two foreign units. Dmitri's troops charged anyway with ten cavalry companies. After a sharp battle the Russians began to retreat on the right, however the center held firm. The Polish troops next encountered an infantry unit that had cannon. The infantry fired a volley from their harqubuses. There being 10-12,000 of them, this so frightened the Poles that they stopped. The rest of Dmitri's army was advancing, but when they saw that the cavalry had stopped and was turning around, they also turned and fled. Dmitri lost 15 banners and 13 artillery pieces and 5-6,000 men killed or captured. He retreated to Putivil, where 4,000 more Don Cossacks joined him.

Boris' army besieged Ryl'sk but not Putivil. Then Dmitri sent 5,000 cossacks into Ryl'sk so the Tsar's army gave up the siege and retired toward Novgorod-Seversk. In the spring of 1606 Dmitri called for all cossacks and Tatars as far as the Urals to revolt against Tsar Boris. The Don Cossacks talked the Nogai Tatars into joining them for a march on Moscow. The Crimean Tatars also supported Dmitri. By now his forces held many southern towns such as Voronezh, Oskol, Belgorod, Borisgorod, etc. These were the towns comprising Moscow's defense line against the Tatars.

At this critical time Boris Godunov died, leaving his young son to rule with Boris's widow as regent.


Because of the reforms undertaken during the 16th century, the strength of the Muscovite army increased significantly. The army consisted of service people by “hereditary” and by “selection.” This means those who served according to their family rank and those who served due to being conscripted.

The first group of service people was subdivided into various ranks. The highest group was the servicemen of the Duma, which included the boyars, okol'nichi, and duma dvoryani. Next in rank were the servicemen of Moscow, divided into stol'niki, stryapchi, Moscow dvoriani, and zhil'tsi. Below these were the servicemen of the cities, divided into dvoriani, deti boyarski, dvoriani on the court list, and city dvoriani.

The largest group was the city dvoriani and deti boyarski. By the charter of 1556 service for these men began at age 15. Before that age they were not adults. The boyars and other duma officers met with the clerks of the prikaz periodically to enroll the new recruits who had just reached induction age. Sometimes this was done by the local voevoda or it could be done by a visiting official from Moscow. Upon arriving in the town the boyars had to organize the elections of the local servicemen. They used a questionnaire to determine the property status and service capability of the men to be enrolled. The base pay of the new men would depend on their status as determined from the questionnaire. The paymasters established the size of the pomestie and cash payment each new recruit would receive based on his ancestry, property status, and the service he was to render. The pomestie varied from 100 chertverts to 300; and the cash payment of 4-7 rubles a year. During a man's service the size of both types of payment would be increased for good service. The government watched to see that lower class people did not enter the ranks of the dvoriani. The military demands of the country, especially the defense of the southern border that needed large quantities of manpower, forced the government to enrol as deti boyarski people of non-boyar or dvorianstvo lineage, such as the cossacks. In general the southern frontier was in such dire need that the government paid less attention to lineage there.

The new recruit often passed simultaneously before a general review of the local service people. At this review the recruit had to show the service people his credentials for service, that is his horse and arms and his retainers, and what lands he owned. These items affected his ability to fulfill the service requirement. The review resulted in a list for each city called the “desyatnya.” This term first appeared in the reform of 1554. The “desyatnya” played an important role in the militia organization because the government used it to count dvoriani available, call them to service, and release them to their estates. The Razryadni Prikaz maintained lists of all units and kept all the statistics on pay,deaths, retirements, etc. from one enumeration to the next.

The Pomestie Prikaz was responsible for administering the landed estates distributed to the servicemen. It used the “desyatnya” as the basis for this distribution of land according to established rules. The number of servicemen in each city and uezd depended on the land available. Thus, in Kolomna in 1577 there were 310 dvoriani and deti boyarski, in Pereyaslavl- Zalesk in 1590 there were 107 servicemen, in Murom in 1597 there were 154 in service. The large cities had the most men of course. Novgorod had over 2,000 servicemen formed into 5 companies. Pskov and Smolensk had over 479 each. Depending on birth, property, and service duty the dvoriani and deti boyarski were divided into groups known as select, court, and city.

The select dvoriani were the privileged part of the uezd service group by patrimony. In peacetime they served their turn by roster in Moscow at the Tsar's court under the name of zhil'tsi. They guarded the Tsar's court and fulfilled various duties of a military or administrative nature. In wartime they entered the tsar's polk or were the tsar's bodyguard, or were appointed heads of the hundreds in the pomestie militia. The court deti boyarski had the middle position between the select and city dvoriani. The select dvoriani were chosen from this group. The largest group was the city or polk dvoriani.

The pay these men received varied considerably both in size of pomestie and amount of yearly cash payment. The pomestie varied from 20 to 700 chertverts and the pay varied from 4 to 14 rubles a year, depending on rank.

The select dvoriani received the highest pay, from 350 to 700 chertverti of land. The court dvoriani received from 350 to 500 chertverti and the city dvoriani received 20 to 500 chertverti. The pay varied by territory, according to government directives and according to the fulfillment of duties. Good service earned higher pay, but poor service might result in loss of land.

In the second half of the 16th century service was divided into local service performed in the city in time of siege, and polk or field service performed on campaign with the army. City service was performed by small landowners with 20 chertverti and by men not fully able for field duty. In case of incapacity the dvorianin lost part of his land. The siege or city service was performed on foot. Those on duty received no additional cash payments. For good service the dvorianin could be selected to go on field service with a corresponding increase in land allotment and a cash payment. Field service was for a campaign (far) or for the defensive lines on the frontier. This was called near service or “shore duty” referring to the Oka River bank. In peacetime the field service was mostly this border defense.

The Moscow service people (stol'niki, stryapchi, Moscow dvoriani, and zhil'tsi) were in a more privileged situation than the city men. They received land, from 500 to 1000 chertverti, and cash, from 20 to 100 rubles. Besides this, many of them had a votchina. In peacetime they had diplomatic, military, or administrative duties. They were voevodi in the towns. In military service they were part of the Tsar's polk and served as voevodi and heads of hundreds in the other polki. There were 2-3,000 Moscow service people at this time.

The Duma “chin” (boyars, okol'nichi, duma dvoriani) had the highest command duties in the army. They commanded polki and the main polk and were voevodi in the larger cities. The boyars and okol'nichni had pomestii of 1000 to 2000 chertverti and the duma dvoriani had from 800 to 1200 chertverti of land. The number of the “other ranks” was as follows: okol'nichni - 15; duma dvoriani - 6; boyars - 30 under Boris Gudunov, but usually 15 to 25. When called to service the pomestniki of one uezd formed at the assembly point for that uezd in their 100's and then moved to the assembly point for their designated polk. After service the dvoriani and deti boyarski returned home, and the 100's disbanded to be called again for the next campaign. At the head of the 100 was a local man or a Moscow dvorianin appointed by the government or the polk voevoda. This commander served only on the campaign. All men came on service, mounted with their weapons and their serving men. The servants outnumbered the pomestniki.

The discipline of the dvoriani militia did not improve with its reorganization. The government tried to do something to enforce discipline, such as removing dvoriani from their pomestii and cutting their salaries, but this did not do much good. The poor service and even absence from any service at all continued and reached a mass character. The government used tricks, punishments, and finally replaced the militia in the 17th century.

The number of dvoriani enrolled for service has been the subject of much investigation. Seredonin calculated the number at the end of the 16th century at 25,000 men with an average of 200 chertverti of pomestie and or votchina each. He considered that they came on service with an average of two men each, making a total of 27,000 men for the militia. Chernov disagrees and claims that the 200 chertverti only required one man besides the owner, making a total force of 50,000 men. He also claims the dvoriani did not even bring the required number of men on service, so the total force must have been under 50,000.

Service people by selection.

The first group of these men was the streltsi, Moscow and local town. The information on the streltsi is very limited, mostly from the reports of foreign observers. Fletcher said there were 5,000 Moscow streltsi of whom 2,000 were mounted. Margeret reported that there were 10,000 streltsi in Moscow divided into prikazi of 500 men each. The heads of these units were independent and reported directly to the government. The Streltsi Prikaz was the central administrative organ for this class of troops. The basic unit of the streltsi was also called a prikaz and was divided into 100's, 50's and 1O's commanded respectively by golovoi, sotniki, 50's- men, and decurians. The day to day duty of the streltsi was to guard the Tsar's court. The foot streltzi were on guard service by weekly turns. They were also sent to strengthen the garrison in other towns. In wartime they took part in campaigns. The pay of the streltsi was 4-7 rubles a year and 12 chertverti of oats and 12 of rye. The streltsi commanders were from the dvoriani and deti boyarski. They received 30-60 rubles a year and a pomestie of 300- 500 chertverts. The sotniki received 12-60 rubles and the decurians 10 rubles. In the border towns there were garrisons of 20-100 streltsi. These were mostly on the northwest border, such as at Pskov and Novgorod. There were fewer streltzi on the southern border because there the government had other troops such as the cossacks. By the end of the 16th century the streltsi were an important element of the army. They had increased in number to 20- 25000 men. It is hard to judge the social background of the streltsi from the available sources. They came from local people, as a rule. But in Kazan 13% were arrivals from elsewhere. Only free people could be streltsi, not servants or peasants nor other taxpayers. They were volunteers in good health who could shoot. Their children went on into the service that became hereditary and permanent. Only the elderly, wounded or incapacitated could leave the ranks. In peacetime they were on permanent garrison duty guarding the walls, towers, and the city gates and government buildings. They guarded the state saltpeter works, convoys of money or prisoners and ambassadors.

In war the city streltsi were designated to the various polki. On long campaigns the foot streltsi received government horses or money to buy horses. Their weapons were the arquebus, the berdish and the saber. They received these weapons from the state and received 1-2 lbs. of gunpowder, lead, and gunpowder flasks. The streltsi lived in special suburbs. Each man had his house, yard, and garden. They had land allotted to the unit available to the individuals for farming. There were variations in the size of the area according to the rank and from town to town. The streltsi also engaged in trade and in small industry to earn their living. This reduced their military preparedness. Their business and trade affairs made the streltsi a part of the common people. Therefore they often sided with the people in the uprisings that marked the 17th century.

Another important group of selected people was the cossacks, who entered service in the second half of the 16th century. They had a complex organization and composition. After the conquest of Kazan and of the Chuvash, Mordvin, and other Volga peoples, some of these people entered the Russian forces as non-Russian Cossacks with their own national detachments and national leaders. They were not in the Russian polki, but united into separate polki when assembled in large numbers. Usually they formed the lead polk or advance guard of the army. In the 16th century there were already several different cossack groups on duty, the free cossacks, Yaitsk, Volga, Don, and Ukraine cossacks. The government began to deal with the Don Cossacks in the 1570's. Its purpose was to insure that the Don River area and later the Azov and Black Sea areas entered the sphere of influence of Moscow. The cossacks were asked to guard the government's ambassadors and the merchants in the area and were paid, usually in saltpeter and lead. By the end of the 16th century the government tried to take the Don Cossacks under direct control, but was unsuccessful. In fact Boris' efforts in this regard were largely responsible for the strong support the Don Cossacks gave to the false Dmitris and Bolotnikov.

In the 1580's cossack detachments under the attaman Nerchai attacked the Nogai Tatars and destroyed their capital at Saraichik, then moved on to the Yaik (Ural) River. They thus founded the Ural Cossacks. By 1591 the Ural Cossacks were already in the government service. Other Volga Cossack detachments moved along the west side of the Caspian Sea to the Terek River where they established themselves. Another detachment of cossacks under the attaman Ermak moved to Siberia.

The free cossacks were in this service since the reign of Ivan IV. On the campaign in 1550 against the Nogai Tatars there were bands of cossacks under the grand duke. They were active at Kazan and in the “shore” patrol against the Crimean Tatars. In the Razryad list for 1575 there were cossacks with the lead and main polki. In the Livonian War, on the Polotsk campaign of 1563 of a total force of 43,000 there were 5,550 free cossacks or 13% of the army. The cossacks were similar to the streltsi in organization. They served by “selection” under the leader who picked them. The leader was directly subordinate to the city or regional voevode. The normal composition of a unit was 500 men divided into 100's, 50's, and ten's. There were the same functions and duties in these units as in the streltsi. The total number of city cossacks was 5-6,000. At the end of the 16th century the government began to increase the number of city cossacks selected from the free people. They had the same eligibility requirements as the streltsi and received the same payments from the government.

The direction of city cossacks in the state was in the hands of the Streltsi Prikaz. In the southern cities the direction of cossacks was transferred to the Razryad Prikaz, which controlled all the other border troops. The Streltsi Prikaz selected the recruits for service and released them, paid them their salary, and moved them around and was their highest judicial institution. It appointed the heads of the larger units and of the hundreds. The government control applied only to the city cossacks. Relations with the Don Cossacks and other independent groups wase handled by the Ambassador's Prikaz.

Another special group in the armed forces was the artillery, called pushkari and zatinshchiki. They were of two types: Moscow and city. The city pushkari lived on pomestii near their towns. The Moscow pushkari received greater support from the government. They were selected from the same elements of the population as the streltzi by special commissions of those pushkari already in service. Each pushkari coming on service swore a special oath to fulfill his service in the artillery in peace and war, to be loyal to the Moscow state, to refrain from drinking, and not to steal from the Treasury or divulge secrets of artillery science. Those bringing in new recruits were answerable with their heads for those whom they recruited. Probably the new men learned artillery science after they were on duty. The excellent service rendered at Kazan and in the Livonian war shows the result of good leadership and the high technical level of the artillerymen. The number of pushkari and zatinshchiki in the various cities in the second half of the 16th century varied from 2-3 in Mazaisk and Korem to 33-34 in Kazan. There were 48 in Tula. The total number is not known. In peacetime they guarded their weapons and did various jobs connected with artillery. They tested new weapons, prepared and transported gunpowder, supervised the preparation of shot and where there were no gate guards or blacksmiths they guarded the gates and repaired the guns. In Moscow the pushkari and zatinshchiki received 3 rubles a year and 1.5 puds of salt a month plus flour and clothing worth 2 rubles. On campaign they received additional rations. The city pushkari received 1 ruble a year and 2 puds of salt and 12 chertverti of rye and oats. Many of them held additional jobs as artisans and tradsmen.

There were several other groups of equivalent rank to the pushkari such as gate guards, blacksmiths, gunsmiths etc. In most cities the gate guards were a separate group, but in other towns they were not. They lived in their own houses in the town or in the countryside or in special suburbs. The smiths who repaired the fortress guns also had their suburbs and special payment of land and cash.

Finally, there was the pososhnaya service, which performed general labor in support of the army. The workers in this service carried equipment and ammunition and moved cannon. In Pskov in 1560 from each 100 men 22 were conscripted. This service was performed both on foot and mounted. In peacetime and war, whenever they were called, they received cash payments from the government. The numbers called were very large. On the Polotsk campaign for 1563 for a 43,000 man army there were 80,900 men called to perform pososhnaya service. In 1577 for a 35,000 man army there were 13,000 men serving in the pososhnaya service for the artillery alone. Besides serving the artillery, the pososhniki performed engineering duties. At Kazan they were ordered to build bridges. At Polotsk they repaired roads, pulled boats, prepared sacks of dirt, and made the gabbions for the siege.

The taxpaying rural population predominated in the pososhnaya service, while the city population also had its share of duties in building the town fortifications and preparing the towns for sieges. In the southern border towns the inhabitants were called to guard duty along with the regular servicemen. With the growth of the military forces of the state the participation of the population increased. The government had first call on the services of the entire population for military requirements.



Richard Hellie has compiled tables showing the strengths of various components of the Muscovite armed forces at specified times during the 16th and 17th centuries. These tables are reproduced here.



1514 Orsha

Ivan IV

1552 Kazan

1562 Mozhaisk

1578 Livonia

End 16th Cent

Upper service class

Moscow ranks

212 princes

Middle service class

Dvoriane & deti boyarski












Lower service class

















Allies - Tatars, Cherkassy, Mordvin, etc.





New formation regiments


not created until middle of next century


"" ""


"" ""


"" ""


"" ""




50,000 (25,000)


2,165 townsmen

1,109 service-men of Novgorod and Iurev

7,850 peasants







109,000 (110,000)






1632 Shein's army at Smolensk




Upper service class

Moscow ranks




Middle service class

Dvoriane, deti boyarski














Lower service class

















c. 11,000







Allies, Tatars, Cherkassi, Mordvins, etc.

c. 20,000




New formation regiments

















104,714 + Nogai Tatars






Sheremetev in Ukraine


1667-68 Sevesk regiments

1668-69 Belgorod regiments


1679 Cherkasskii army

1680 Golitsyn's army


1687, First Crimea campaign

1689, Second Crimea campaign

Upper service class

Moscow ranks







Middle service class

Dvoriane, deti boyarski













7,250 + ?


4,208 + 362





224 + 410


Lower service class







+ ?
















+ 783 officers

counted with Cherkassy


14,868 + 50,000





Allies, Tatars, Cherkassi, Mordvins, etc.

20,000 +








New formation regiments


1,158 + 50


6 regt

totaled with cavalry



405 + 21

totaled with cav.



18,455 + 919










4,504 + 108




24,958 + 1,262

9,545 + 525



23,490 +














98,150 + streltzi


61,362 + 2,467







Rather than repeat here the extensive material we have assembled on medieval - early modern Russian (Muscovite) arms and armor we invite the reader to use this link to access the material in another directory.


We have exensive material on this that will be added - fortified line line 2 - line 3. Shore duty and defense line



Vedrosha River, Battle of the (1500)

The battle took place by the river near Smolensk on July 14, 1500. The Muscovite army commanded by voyevoda Daniil Shchenia routed the Lithuanian army of Konstantin Ostrozhskii. Losses on both sides were very heavy with Lithuanians loosing most of their force killed or prisoner. The battle was a major step for Moscow in war with Lithuania and enabled Ivan III to then concentrate his forces against the Livonian Order.


Military terminology

The following discussion and definitions is taken from Istoriya voyennoi leyeksiki v russkom yazikye by F. P. Sorokolyetov. The author presents an exhaustive analysis of the origin and usage of military terminology in Muscovy. He includes many foreign words that entered Russian as a result of contacts with military forces of other countries.

dumnye d'iaki

A term designating the lowest ranking officials of the Boyar Duma. These officials were actually secretaries and clerks who conducted the official business of state. Some of them became influential diplomats and officials.

dumnye dvoriane -

The third highest rank in the Muscovite court. The term was much in use from the middle of the 16th century. Before then the usual title was deti boyarskie dumnye or dvoriane u gosudaria v dume. These individuals were members of the Duma and controls various commissions and government offices. They frequently were voevoda for military units or towns. Some of them rose to the rank of Okol'nichii or boyar.

dvorianin - dvoriane

The term for lower ranking servitors (courtiers) of the princes. They did a wide variety of everyday administrative functions and served as warriors in wartime. With the great expansion of the Muscovite realm and the natural increase in population numbers the grand prince no longer could support the multitude of dvoriane at his direct expense at court. Thus began the practice of giving them land grants (pomestia) conditional on their good service.

The dvoriane developed along with the deti boyarski, a term designating servants of the boyars. In the early 16th century the deti boyarski were usually superior to the dvoriane, but sometime after 1550 the term dvoriane was applied to servicemen ranked above the deti boyarski. The process of removing dvorianie from the court and settling them in the countryside lasted many years. Eventually three distinct groups developed:

  1. The Moscow dvoriane numbering about 1000, who ranked below the stol'niki and striapchie and above the zhil'tsi.
  2. A group of about 300 chosen or vybornye dvoriane who served in Moscow as a palace guard and traveling guard for the Tsar for a 3 year term.
  3. The common provincial dvoriane.

In the early middle ages the members of the prince's warrior dvor had been individual fighting men. With the expansion of the state and increased size and complexity of the armed forces the dvoriane became junior officers commanding groups of about 100 deti boyarski cavalrymen, and later other types of troops as well.

Deti boyarski (sing. syn boyarski)

The term for lower ranking noblemen who formed the mass of the armed forces of Muscovy. They were the lowest ranked of the middle service class, between boyars and contract servicemen. They were originally as the term indicates the offspring of the boyars and other senior servitors. As the many independent principalities were incorporated into Muscovy and the senior princes and boyars went to the centralized court, the deti boyarski remained in their various towns and localities. By the reign of Vasilii they were the major part of the middle military and civil service rank. With the dvoriane they received state land in condition of their successful service (pomestie) As the control of the Muscovite state apparatus intensified the service of both deti boyarski and dvoriane became more rigorous. In fact they were forbidden to leave service.

Okol'nichii (okol'nichie)

The title of a rank in the Muscovite court and of an official position in the state government used from the 13th to the early 18th century. It went to high ranking individuals associated directly with the prince. Among their duties were organizing travels and official state receptions for foreign ambassadors. These individuals were members of the Duma of the Grand Prince. They became the second rank in the duma after the boyars. Their duties then included supervising state offices and serving as regimental voevoda as well as supervising ceremonies.


The fifth ranking title in the Muscovite court list after the boyar, olol'nichii, dumni dvoriane, and dumnie diak. They performed personal services to the Tsar at meals and during his trips.

Voevoda Voevodi

The Slavonic word derives from “war” and “lead”, and conotes a military leader. In ancient Rus the voevoda was elected to serve only for the length of the coming campaign. Later, as Kievan Russia was divided into inumerable princedoms each prince had his own druzhina, commanded by his appointed voevoda. With the supremacy of Moscow the right to appoint voevodi was restricted to the Grand Prince and carried out in his name by the military bureaucracy (Razryad Prikaz). Voevodi were appointed to field commands of the army (ratnye voevodi) and to governorships of communities and regions (mestnye voevodi). Voevoda remained in the civil administration until abolished by Catherine the Great in 1775, but the term went out of military usage when Peter the Great adopted the western ranks including general.(223)

Storozhevaia i stanichnaia sluzhba

The designation means the outpost and patrol service. This was the border guard system devised to protect the southern and southeastern borders of Muscovy against the Tatar raiders. The patrols and outposts were located beyond the fortified lines. The patrols were cavalry units conducting reconnaissance to locate Tatars. The system was developed during the reign of Ivan IV in the 1570's. It was regularized with adetailed set of instructions and regulations in 1571 under the direction of Prince M. I. Vorotynskii.(224)

1586 voronezh founded and fortified against Nogais

1630's Tambov and Kozlov fortified against Nogais.

25,000 middle service class in 1630's

39,408 in 1651

839 dvoriane and 1656 deti boyarski in Orel in 1672 and 509 and 4275 in Kursk province

chetvert=1.333 acres they had from 100 to 850 chetverti

Tatar roads - Muravskii shliakhi - Nogaiskii shliakhi - Iziumskii shliakhi Kal'miusskaia sakma

Tatar - means archer or men who draw a bow: it was a term applied loosely to various Turkish and Mongol tribes and mixed bands which interacted and intermixed during conquest.

versta=1.067 km


These page numbers were compiled for the printed version of this booklet.

1300 2, 9, 16

1301 24

1302 53

1307 12

1312 16

1316 12

1317 53

1318 53

1320 53

1322 24, 53

1323 28

1325 24, 28, 53, 54

1326 4, 24, 25, 53

1327 9, 24, 26, 54

1328 3, 8, 24, 54

1331 24, 54

1332 54

1333 13, 30, 54

1335 54

1337 9, 24, 54

1339 24, 30, 54

1340 16, 54

1341 12, 24, 25, 53

1345 12

1348 54

1349 30

1350 26, 42, 55

1352 7, 54

1353 25-27, 54, 55

1354 25

1356 28

1357 16, 31, 54, 55

1359 25, 54, 55

1360 28

1361 17

1362 27, 56

1363 28, 56

1364 56

1365 28, 30, 56

1366 26, 28, 56

1367 4, 26, 27, 30, 56

1368 30, 56

1370 9, 17, 27, 30, 56

1371 29, 30, 56, 59

1372 28, 30, 56

1373 17, 27, 30, 56

1374 57

1375 26, 27, 29, 57

1376 57

1377 12, 17, 28, 29, 42, 57

1378 17, 57

1379 29, 57

1380 9, 17, 26-29, 31, 35, 47, 50, 57

1381 55, 57

1382 4, 12, 17, 27, 28, 30, 31, 42, 56-58

1383 28, 58

1385 28

1386 7, 58

1387 17, 58

1388 58

1389 10, 26, 28, 29, 31, 42, 55, 58

1390 7, 28, 59

1391 21

1392 8, 29, 42, 59

1393 29, 59

1394 59

1395 7, 17, 21, 28, 42, 59

1396 59

1397 59

1398 17, 42

1399 18, 28-31, 42, 59

1400 18, 43, 61, 119

1401 42, 59

1402 10, 59

1403 31, 59

1404 7, 42, 43

1405 7

1406 29, 42, 60

1407 18, 29, 31, 60

1408 18, 21, 28, 29, 31, 42, 60

1409 29, 60

1410 12, 27, 28, 33, 43

1412 18, 29, 31, 60

1415 32

1417 29

1420 33

1422 31

1423 18

1425 29, 31, 43, 59, 61

1426 21

1430 18, 42, 43

1432 10, 32, 33

1434 33

1435 32, 33

1436 33

1440 12, 21, 34

1441 18

1443 44, 61

1444 12, 61, 62

1445 19, 32, 33, 62

1446 20, 33, 34, 62

1447 62

1448 32, 62

1449 34, 62, 63

1450 62, 63

1451 63

1452 34, 35, 62, 63

1453 3, 33, 35

1454 18

1456 63, 64

1459 10, 18

1460 18, 44, 61, 63

1461 35

1462 2, 32, 34, 63-65

1464 20, 44

1465 65

1466 18, 20, 44, 45

1467 34, 64, 66

1468 20, 45, 66

1469 18, 66

1470 5, 45

1471 5, 14, 33, 35, 62, 67, 68

1472 4, 34, 44, 68

1474 7, 44

1475 4, 18, 19, 68

1477 35, 45, 68

1478 6, 18, 45, 68

1479 36, 44, 45, 69

1480 18, 33-35, 44, 45, 64, 68, 69

1481 35, 44, 70

1482 70

1483 35, 36

1484 70

1485 4, 10, 18, 35, 46, 64

1486 33, 71

1487 18, 20, 46, 71

1488 72

1489 10, 68, 72

1490 34, 36, 41, 65, 72

1491 18, 34, 72, 73

1492 12, 14, 36, 71, 73, 74

1493 34, 74

1494 74

1495 14, 71, 74

1496 14, 35, 74, 75

1497 14, 34, 75, 76

1498 34, 45, 46, 76

1499 76

1500 12, 34, 35, 65, 73, 76-78, 81, 83, 84, 130

1501 78, 80

1502 18, 34, 44, 45, 65, 79, 80

1503 12, 19, 80, 82

1504 46, 80

1505 20, 34-36, 61, 64, 80

1506 12, 20, 34, 82

1507 82

1508 82, 83

1509 34, 82

1510 82

1511 83

1512 12, 80, 82, 83

1514 7, 82, 83

1515 18, 19, 44, 83

1516 35

1518 20

1519 84

1520 6, 35

1521 6, 19, 20, 35, 82, 84

1522 12, 36, 82-84

1523 19, 20, 35, 82

1525 36, 84

1526 85

1528 82

1529 35, 85

1530 20, 36, 37

1532 44, 84

1533 2, 36, 37, 39, 85, 86

1534 35, 37, 82, 87

1535 20, 37, 88

1536 37, 88

1537 37, 41, 88

1538 37, 88

1539 36

1540 88

1541 88

1543 37

1545 88, 107, 111

1546 20, 37

1547 37, 40, 86, 88

1548 12, 89

1549 20, 89, 107

1550 40, 89, 107-109, 111, 124, 131

1551 8, 39, 44, 89

1552 19, 20, 22, 39, 40, 86, 90

1553 38, 87, 91, 92

1554 38, 92, 121

1555 22, 40, 92

1556 19, 21, 22, 39, 40, 92, 93, 109, 121

1557 39, 93

1558 12, 39, 40, 93, 94

1560 40, 95, 111, 125

1561 40, 95

1562 40, 86, 96

1563 39, 40, 96, 124, 125

1564 22, 37, 87, 96, 97

1565 37, 87, 97

1566 98

1567 98

1568 98

1569 13, 39, 87, 99

1570 39, 86, 99, 109, 124, 133

1571 19, 44, 87, 99, 101, 109, 111, 133

1572 12, 19, 37, 44, 87, 100-102, 111

1573 39, 100

1574 101

1575 101, 124

1576 101

1577 44, 102, 121, 125

1578 102

1579 13, 102, 103

1580 13, 21, 103, 105, 111, 124

1581 38, 103, 104

1582 104, 105

1583 105, 113

1584 19, 37, 38, 105, 112

1585 112

1586 112, 133

1587 22, 112

1588 112, 113

1589 113

1590 3, 113, 121

1591 113, 124

1592 115, 116

1593 116

1594 117

1595 117

1596 117

1597 117, 122

1598 105, 112, 118

1599 105, 118

1600 2, 13, 22, 118

Abash Ulan 73

Abd-al-Latif 75-77

Abdul Kerim 73

Adashev 40, 94, 95

Aleksei Fedorovich 40


Aleksei Fedorovich 40

Adashev, Aleksei Fedorovich early advisor of Ivan IV 40

Adashev, D. F. executed by Ivan IV in 1562 40 raids Perekop in 1559 40

Adashev, Daneil Fedorovich raids Perekop in 1559 94

Adashev, Daniel Fedorovich commands army in Livonia 95

Ahmed 18, 63, 73, 78, 79

Aidir 94

Aidir River battle of in 1559 94

Akhmet 18, 34, 44-46, 64, 65, 68-70, 77
campaign against Moscow in 1465 65
Campaign against Moscow in 1472 68
campaign against Moscow in 1480 69

Akhmet Khan campaign to Ugra river in 1480 44 killed in 1481 44

Albrecht 78

Aleksin44, 68, 98

Aleksin, battle of in 1472 68

Alexander becomes king of Poland in 1501 78

Alexander Nevski defeats Swedes at Neva River in 1240 14

Ali 20, 70, 71, 84, 85, 89

Andrei Fedorovich 26

Andrei Ivanovich 25-27, 39, 41 Prince of Staritsk 41

Andrei Vasil'evich 35 army 5, 7-10, 12, 14, 16-20, 24, 27, 28, 32, 34-38, 40-42, 44, 46-50, 54-58, 61-63, 66, 67, 68-83, 85, 86, 88-97, 100, 102-109, 111, 113, 114, 116-125, 130, 132
composition of in 15th century 48
government payment for 48
size in 14 - 15th centuries 49

Arslan Kaybulich 118

Artillery 13, 19, 31, 45, 47, 63, 70, 78, 79, 82, 83, 86, 88, 102, 104, 106, 108, 115, 118, 120, 125, 126
in defense of Moscow in 1451 63
in defense of Moscow in 1591 115
Livonian use at Dorpat 79
organization of 125

Astaby Dashkovich 79

Astrakhan 15, 18-20, 22, 73, 84, 86, 87, 92, 95, 97-99, 112, 113, 116, 118
Turkish - Tatar campaign against 99

Azov 17, 18, 99, 101, 103, 104, 112, 116, 117, 124
cossack attack on in 1593 116

Basmanov 95, 97

Batory 100, 102-104

Batory, Stephen
attacks Muscovy at Polotsk in 1579 103
besieges Pskov in 1581 104
besieges Veliki Luki in 1580 103

Batu establishes Golden Horde around 1227 15
Bayazid Ottoman Sultan 72

Bekbulatovich 101

Bel'sky 76, 88, 99, 118

Belev 61, 93, 96, 98, 104

Belgorod built in 1598 118

Bezzubtsov 66

Bitiug River Battle of in 1450 63

Boris7, 9, 22, 28, 29, 32, 34, 35, 39, 59, 64, 67, 68, 73, 110, 112-115, 117-120, 122, 124

Boris Godunov
begins war with Sweden in 1590 113
brings Great Nogai under Russian control in 1600 22
builds new southern fortified line 118
leads defense against Tatars in 1598 118

Boris Slepets 67, 68

Bryansk 77, 116

Burash Seyyed 73

Burnash Gerei 80

Buturlin 95, 96

Casimir5, 9, 12, 13, 34, 35, 44-46, 61, 63, 65, 67-73

Casimir IV 9, 35, 44, 45, 61, 65 sends Haji Gerei against Horde 63 signs treaty of alliance with Horde 68

Casimir the Great expansion of Poland 1333-70 13

cavalry 11, 16, 20, 45, 47, 50, 63, 66, 71, 75, 77, 86, 104, 106-109, 114, 115, 120, 133

Chashniki battle of in 1564 97

Chelyadnin 74, 77

Chernigov 2, 7, 12, 77, 83, 87, 119

Cossack 1, 14, 74, 84, 92, 93, 102, 104, 108, 116-118, 124

Cossacks government control over 125

Cossacks, organization of 124

Crimea 15, 16, 18-22, 36, 38-40, 44-46, 61, 63, 68, 70-73, 77-79, 83, 84, 89, 92-95, 97, 98, 99, 110, 112-116, 118, 119

Ottoman Turks capture in 1475 68

Crimea Khanate established by Haji Gerei in 1449 63

Crimean Tatars characteristics of 19

Danyan 67

Dashkevich 83, 84

Dashkevich, Ostafi, Starosta of Cherkassy helps Tatars against Moscow in 1515 83 helps Tatars against Moscow in 1521 84

Derbysh 92

deti boyarski 47, 48, 69, 90, 93, 97, 101, 107, 109, 118, 121-123, 131-133

Devlet Gerei 19, 40, 44, 92-102 assembles forces on Udakh river 95
campaign against Moscow defeated at Molodoi in 1572 19
campaign against Moscow in 1555 92
campaign against Moscow in 1556 92
campaign against Moscow in 1558 93
campaign against Moscow in 1563 successful 96
campaign against Moscow in 1565 98
campaign against Moscow in 1571 succeeds 19
campaign against Moscow in 1571 succeeds in burning town 100
campaign against Moscow in 1572 fails 100
campaign against Moscow in 1576 101
campaign against Riazan in 1564 97
campaign to Mtsensk in 1562 96
forced on defensive in 1559 94
leads Tatar raid against Poland in 1566 98
orders campaign against Riazan in 1573 100

Divea Murza 95

Dmitri the Pretender campaign against Moscow in 1604-5 119

Dmitrii Ivanovich 26-28, 30, 33, 39, 40, 55, 56
assists Suzdal against Nizhnii Novgorod in 1388 58
attacks Tver in 1365 30
attacks Tver in 1368 30
attacks Tver in 1373 30
builds first stone wall of Moscow, 1367-82 4
campaign against Livonia in 1367 56
campaign against Mordvinians and Bolgars in 1366 56
campaign against Mordvinians in 1377 57
campaign against Nizhnii Novgorod in 1364 56
campaign against Riazan in 1371 56
campaign against Riazan in 1382 58
campaign against Tver in 1370 56
campaign against Tver in 1375 57
defeats Mamai at Vozha River in 1378 57
defeats Tatars at Kulikovo field in 1380 57
makes peace with Riazan in 1387 58
policy of 55
starts stone walls for kremlin in 1367 56
victory at Kulikovo field in 1380 31

Dmitrii Konstantinovich
aids Toqtamish to capture Moscow in 1382 28
ally of Moscow against Mordvins 28

Dmitrii Mikhailovich
contests with Moscow for Grand Principality of Vladimir 24

murders Yuri Danilovich in 1325 24

Dnieper 7, 10, 12, 13, 18, 39, 40, 43, 62, 72, 73, 79, 80, 82, 92-94, 103, 104, 116

Dobrynichi. battle of in 1605 119

Don 6, 17-19, 21, 27, 28, 44, 57, 65, 77, 78, 88, 95, 99, 101, 103, 113, 118, 120, 124, 125

Donets 71, 78, 93, 98, 118

Dorpat 40, 79, 94, 95
attacked by Livonian Order in 1559 95
battle of in 1501 79
besieged by D. F. Adashev in 1558 40
Russian capture of in 1558 94

Dosmahmet104, 112, 116, 117

Dvina 6, 7, 10-12, 67, 75, 103

dvoriani 47, 48, 93, 106-109, 118, 119, 121-123, 121

Dvoriani cavalry reorganization of by Ivan IV 107

besieges Moscow in 1408 29

Ediger Mohammed 90

Elets built in 1592 116

Fedtsov 94

Fellin captured by Russians commanded by Adashev in 1560 40

Feti Gerei 80, 116 campaigns in Poland from 1590 to 1606 116

Finland 5, 14, 74, 75, 116

Fioraventi 70

Fioraventi, Aristotle on reconnaissance to Kazan in 1482 70

Fortified towns
built along southeastern border in 1580's 105

frontier service terms of service established in 1570 110

Gerei, Mehemmed
campaign against Moscow in 1521 84

Glinski 74

Golden Horde 15-21, 25, 27, 29-32, 34, 42-47, 55-57, 59-64, 82, 101
domain and character of 15
final destruction in 1481 70

Gorbaty 91

Gorgaty-Shuyaki 67

Gorodets 8, 18, 31, 61

capital of Tatar khanate 62

Gryaznoik 95

Hajji Gerei 18, 19, 63, 65
founds Khanate of Crimea in 1430 18
receives assistance from Casimir IV 63

Hans, King of Denmark defeats Sten Sture 76

Ibrahim 20, 66-68, 70
becomes Khan of Kazan 66

Idiqu 18, 21, 28, 29, 31, 42, 59, 60
besieges Moscow in 1408 28
defeats Votovt at Vorskla in 1399 59
siege of Moscow in 1408 60

Infantry 13, 47, 66, 67, 71, 86, 89, 103, 104, 106-108, 119, 120

Ingulets 73

Islam Gerei
campaign against Moscow in 1586 112

Ivak70, 71, 73

Ivak of Tyumen 70

Ivan I 4, 7-9, 16, 24-27, 53
campaign against Novgorod in 1332 54
campaign against Novgorod in 1337 54
expands and rebuilds Moscow fortification 4
policies of 24
receives title Grand Prince of Vladimir from Tatars 54
uses Tatar troops to suppress Tver in 1327 9, 24, 54
uses-is used by Tatars to collect tribute 16

Ivan II 25-27, 54
foreign policy of 25
receives Tatar charter as Grand Prince of Vladimir 25

Ivan III 2, 4-7, 9-12, 14, 33-36, 38, 39, 41, 44-46, 63-67, 69-71, 73-76, 80, 83, 86, 130
attempts treaty with Turks 73
begins campaigns against Sweden in 1495 74
begins new war with Lithuania in 1500 76
begins war with Lithuania in 1478 68
builds Ivangorod 74
campaign against Kazan in 1469 66
campaign against Kazan in 1480 68
campaign against Kazan in 1487 71
campaign against Livonia 79
campaign against Sweden in 1495 14
campaign against Viatka in 1489 72
campaign to change Khans in Kazan in 1486 71
campaign to replace Khan of Kazan in 1484 70
concludes truce with Lithuania in 1495 74
defends Kazan against Nogai in 1499 76
defends Oka River line against Horde Tatars in 1480 69
diplomacy gains Tatar allies 73
fails to capture Smolensk 79
first campaign against Kazan in 1462 65
first campaign against Novgorod in 1471 67
second campaign against Novgorod in 1477 68
sends aid to Crimea in 1491 73
sends military assistance to Kazan in 1496 75
sends raid against Sarai 70
siege of Smolensk in 1502 80
signs treaty with Crimea 68
supports Crimean Khan against Horde 71
third campaign against Novgorod in 1479 69
tries to replace Khan of Kazan 66
war against Lithuania 12
war plans for 1501 78

Ivan IV 2, 6-8, 12, 19-22, 36-41, 44, 77, 85-88, 90, 92, 95, 105, 106, 112, 119, 124, 133
agrees to armistice with Poland in 1570 99
begins Livonian War in 1557 93
builds Sviiazhsk in 1551 8
campaign against Kazan in 1582 104
captures Polotsk in 1563 96
conducts siege of Wenden in 1577 102
creates Oprichnina 97
creates streltsi 89
decimates Novgorod in 1570 99
decree abolishing Mestnichestvo 89
defeats Crimean Tatars at Shivoron River 90
first campaign against Crimea in 1555 92
first campaign against Kazan in 1545 88
fortifies western border in 1566 98
illness reveals internal enemies 92
Livonian war in 1558 12
military reforms 89, 106
orders conquest of Astrakhan 92
organizes new border service in 1571 99, 109
personally leads assault into Kazan 91
second campaign against Kazan in 1547 89
second war with Lithuania in 1577 102
siege of Kazan in 1551 90
starts construction of fort on Kruglaya Hill at Sviyaza River 89
starts new southern fortified line in 1582 105
third and final campaign against Kazan 90
third campaign against Kazan in 1549 89

Ivan Ivanovich 6, 25, 26, 30, 35, 36, 38, 54, 56, 69

Ivan Ivanovich of Riazan attempts to use Tatar support 35

Ivan Mikhailovich 31

Ivangorod 14, 74, 75, 78, 80, 93, 104, 113, 117
Livonian attack on in 1557 93
recovered by Russia in 1595 117
Russians win Ivangorod back from Sweden, but fail to take Narva 113
Swedes besiege again in 1591 113
Swedish sack of, 1496 14, 75

Jan Olbracht defeats Horde Tatars at Kopystrin and Zaslavl' 18

John III 113

Kalka River battle of in 1380 17

Kaluga 84, 97-102, 114

Kama 20, 66, 104

Kasim 20, 62, 63, 66 created Khan (of Kasimov) 62

Kasimov 20, 32, 61, 62, 64, 67, 68, 80, 82, 85, 101

Kazan 8, 10, 18-22, 34, 36, 37, 39, 40, 44, 45, 61, 62, 64-66, 68, 70-73, 75-80, 82, 84, 85, 86-92, 94, 95, 97, 98, 100, 101, 104-107, 112, 116, 123-126
campaign against in 1469 66

Kazan Tatars
raid against Moscow in 1540 88
revolt and attack on Nizhni Novgorod in 1504 80

Kazi Gerei 112, 114, 115, 117
attacks mobile fortress covering Moscow 114
becomes Khan of Crimea in 1588 and seeks peace 112
campaign against Moscow in 1591 114
campaigns in Balkans with Turks in 1590's 116
signs peace treaty with Moscow in 1594 117

Kettler 94, 95

Kettler, Gottgard
asks for Swedish assistance 94
ceeds Livonia to Lithuania 95
elected Grandmaster of Livonian Order 94

Khan Kuchuk Mahmed 61

Khan Uleg Mahmed 61, 62

Khan Urus 112, 113

Khan Yamgurchei 92

Khanate of Astrakhan founded by Kasim in 1466 20

Khanate of Crimea established by Hajji Gerei in 1430 18

Khanate of Kazan
established by Mahmudek in 1445 62
founded by Mahmudek in 1445 19

Khortitsa 39, 93, 104

Khortitsa fortress built by Vishnevetskii in 1556 39

Kiev 5, 10-14, 25, 42, 45, 46, 53, 63, 67, 70, 74, 76, 78, 79, 119

Kolomna 21, 28, 68, 69, 89, 90, 92, 96, 98, 99, 102, 104, 121

Kopystrin battle of in 1487 18

Kotorosi River battle of in 1435 33

Kromy 117 built in 1595 117

Kruglaya hill 89

Kulikovo 9, 17, 26, 27, 29, 31, 49, 50, 57
battle in 1380 9, 17, 27, 57

Kurbski 92

Kurbsky 77, 79, 91, 95-97

Kurbsky, Prince A. M. captures Vitebsk in 1562 96

Kurbsky-Karamysk 79

Kursk 117, 133 founded in 1597 117

Lassota, Erich ambassador of German emperor 104

Lithuania 3, 5, 7, 11-13, 15, 17-19, 24-32, 35-38, 40, 42-46, 54-56, 58, 59, 61, 63-65, 67, 68, 69-74, 76-80, 82-84, 86, 87, 95, 97, 102, 109, 114, 130
capture Duneburg in 1577 102
early development of 11
raid against Moscow lands in 1565 97
war plans for 1501 78

Livonia 11-13, 40, 42, 43, 56, 62, 65, 79, 86, 93-95, 99, 102-104, 109
at war with Novgorod and Poland in 1448 62

Livonian Order 5, 29, 31, 42, 43, 69, 78, 80, 130
attack Dorpat in 1559 95
attack on Ivangorod in 1502 80
attacks Pskov in 1480 69
campaign against Pskov in 1502 80

Lublin, Union of in 1569 13

Lvov 78

Mahmed 19, 32, 44, 61-63

Mahmet Gerei 93, 96, 98, 102
becomes Khan of Crimea and continues raids in 1577 102
campaign in Hungary in 1566 98

Mahmet Kul 118

Mahmud 70

Mahmudek 19, 20, 61-63, 66
campaign against Moscow 63
establishes Khanate at Kazan 62
establishes Khanate of Kazan in 1445 19

Mahomet III, Ottoman Sultan begins war in Balkans in 1593 116

Malyuta Skuratov-Bel'ski 95

Mamai 17, 19, 26, 27, 31, 56, 57

Mamai, Khan of Golden Horde defeated by both Dmitri Donskoi and Toqtamish in 1380 17

Mamuk 73, 75

Mehemmed Amin 71, 73, 75, 77, 84

Mehemmed Gerei becomes Khan of Crimea and campaigns against Moscow in 152184

Mengli Gerei 18, 19, 44-46, 65, 68-71, 73-77, 79, 82, 83
aids Ivan III by raiding Lithuania in 1480 70
attacks Horde in 1490-91 72
builds fort at Tyaginka in 1492 73
campaign against Lithuania in 1501 78
campaign into Poland in 1502 80
defeats Horde Tatars in 1502 65, 79
leads campaign against Lithuania in 1493 74
leads Crimean Tatar raid in Podolia in 1480 70
raid on Moscow in 1515 83
raids Horde base in 1490 72
sacks Kiev in 1482 70
signs alliance with Ivan III in 1480 69
switches sides from Moscow to Lithuania in 1512 83

Mestnichestvo 51, 77, 88, 89, 106-109

Mikhail Aleksandrovich 30, 31
attacks Moscow in 1370 30
attacks Moscow in 1372 30
attacks Moscow with Lithuanians in 1368 30
becomes Grand Prince of Tver in 1365 30

Mikhail Borosovich 35

Mikhailinsky 83

Mikulinsky 90, 91

Mohammed Amin70, 72, 82

Moldavia 13, 36, 40, 58, 71, 76, 80, 116, 117

Molodoi 19, 101
battle of in 1572 19, 100

Mordvinians 28, 61

Moscow2-22, 24, 25, 27-39, 42-50, 53-65, 67-75, 77-80, 82-85, 87-94, 96-101, 103-105, 108, 109, 111-125, 130-132
attack on in 1451 63
battle of in 1591 114
besieged by Idiqu in 1408 18, 28
besieged by Lithuanians in 1368 30
besieged by Lithuanians in 1370 30
burned by Devlet Gerei in 1571 19, 100
burned by Toqtamish in 1382 17
burned in 1382 31
defended by Vereiskii in 1480 33
raided by combined Kazan-Crimean Tatars in 1521 19, 20
siege by Lithuanians in 1368 56
siege by Lithuanians in 1370 56
siege by Lithuanians in 1372 30
siege by Tatars in 1382 58
size of area controled by 2
stone walls built by Dmitrii and Vladimir in 1367 27
stone walls built in 1535 88

Moscow, Principality of economic and political characteristics 2

Mstislavl 7, 79
battle of in 1386 7
battle of in 1501 79

Mstislavski 97, 114, 115

Mstislavsky 92, 99, 114, 119

Muhammad Amin placed on throne of Kazan in 1505 20

Murat Gerei 112, 113

Murtaza 18, 46, 70, 73

Murza Shirinski 95

Musa 70, 71, 73

Muscovite army composition of at end of 16th cent. 121

Muscovy 1, 2, 4, 10, 20, 25, 27, 34, 36, 61, 64, 65, 68, 72, 84, 87-89, 92, 98, 102-104, 116, 117, 131-133

Mustafa 61

Narva 14, 40, 74, 79, 93, 94, 102-104, 113
attacked by Swedes in 1579 103
captured by Muscovites in 1558 94
captured by Swedes in 1581 104
Swedish attack on in 1577 102

Naryad 47

Neva River battle of in 1240 5, 14

Nevel battle of in 1564 97

Nizhnii Novgorod stone kremlin built in 1372 28

Nogai 16, 19-22, 44, 46, 70-73, 76-79, 84, 86, 90, 92, 93, 98, 100, 101, 103-105, 110, 112, 113, 117, 119, 120, 124

Nogai Horde founded by Idequ in 1391 21

Novgorod 3, 5, 7, 8, 10-12, 14, 18, 25, 27-29, 31-33, 35, 41-43, 53-59, 61-69, 72, 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 82-84, 87-89, 99-103, 114, 115, 119, 120, 122, 123
defeated by Moscow in 1471 67
economic and political characteristics of 5
final siege and surrender in 1480 69
siege of in 1477 68

Novgorod. siege of in 1477 68

Novgorod-in-Severia 83

Novgorod-Seversk siege of in 1604 119

Nozdrovaty 78

Nur Devlet 18, 45, 46, 70-72, 78

Nur Sultan70, 71, 75

Obolensky 63, 66, 68, 71, 73, 88, 89, 96

Obolensky-Striga 66, 68

Obrazets 68

Oka 2, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 19, 27, 28, 44, 46, 57, 61, 62, 68, 69, 73, 77, 82, 84, 88, 93, 97, 99, 100, 103, 105, 114, 115, 118, 122

Oka River
battle of in 1480 69
battle of in 1541 88

Olbracht18, 71, 72

Orsha 7, 12, 80, 83

Orsha River battle of in 1514 83

Oskol 118, 120
built in 1598 118

Osman 98

Ostrozhsky 77, 83

Ottoman Empire 22, 68

Ottoman sultan causes Horde to attack Lithuania versus Moscow 71

Ottoman Turks campaign against Poland 76

P'iana River battle in 1377 28

Paletisky 75

Patrikeev 66, 69, 74-76

Payment for service people 121

Penkov 79

Periaslavl 56, 63

Pernau Russian victory at in 1561 95

Peter Borisovich 79

Podolia 13, 18, 70-74

Poland7, 9, 12, 13, 19, 34, 35, 38, 42-45, 61, 62, 65, 72-74, 76, 78, 80, 86-88, 94-96, 98, 99, 102-104, 112, 113, 116, 117, 119
early development of 13

polk 49, 50, 55, 77, 79, 88, 89, 97, 98, 100, 101, 105, 108, 112-114, 118, 122, 124
organization and function of 50

Polotaky 79

Polotsk 7, 12, 13, 28, 29, 79, 96-98, 103, 104, 124-126
annexed by Lithuania in 1307 12
captured by Stephan Bathory in 1579 13, 103
Muscovite capture of in 1563 96

pomestie 46, 48, 64, 65, 69, 86, 93, 108, 109, 121-123, 132

Pomestie Prikaz 109, 121
administered land estates 121

Pososhnaya service organization of 125

Pronski 101

Pronsky-Shemyakin 92

Prusovaia gora battle of in 1177 11

Pskov 13, 24, 28-30, 42, 43, 53-56, 67, 69, 74, 78-80, 82, 83, 87, 93, 102-104, 114, 115, 122, 123, 125
aids Ivan III against Novgorod 67
attacked by Livonian Order in 1480 69
siege of by Poland in 1581-2 104
Stephan Bathory fails to capture in 1580 13

pushkari 125

Radziwill 95, 104

Radziwill, Christopher

Hetman of Lithuania 104

Radziwill, Nikolai

Voevoda of Vilna 95

Razryadni Prikaz 121
maintained service lists 121

Repnya-Obolensky 73

Revel 79, 95, 102

Revel. Russian siege of in 1577 102

Riazan2, 6, 21, 27, 29, 34, 35, 42-44, 55-59, 61, 63, 78, 82, 84, 89, 90, 93, 97, 99-101, 103, 115, 117
annexation of in 1521 84
battle of in 1564 97
raided by Tatars in 1373 56
raided by Tatars in 1378 57
Tatar raid against in 1365 56

Riga 102

Rostov 6, 7, 10, 11, 29, 56, 60, 95, 100

Rudy 97

Rudy, Nikolai Lithuanian commander 97

Runo 66

Rusa battle of in 1456 63

Ryapolovsky 71, 75-77

Ryapolovsky-Loban 77

Ryazanski 79

Ryl'sk siege in 1605 120

Safa Gere i20, 88, 89

Safat Gerei 112

Sahib Gerei 19, 20, 84
becomes Khan of Kazan in 1519 84

Said Ahmad
campaign against Moscow in 1449 63
campaign against Moscow in 1451 63

Saip Gerei 87-89
attacks Kazan in 1534 87
campaign against Moscow in 1540-41 88
campaign against Moscow in 1550 89

Sarai 4, 7, 9, 15, 17, 18, 24, 25, 28-30, 32, 46, 53, 54, 58-61, 68, 70

Sarai, sacked by Ivan III in 1471 68

Saratov founded in 1590 113

Satilghan 46, 72, 73

select dvoriani created in 1550 108

Selim Shirinski 98

Selim, Ottoman Sultan begins campaign against Astrakhan in 1569 99

Serebryanny 91, 96

Serika River battle of in 1500 78

Serpukhov 11, 25-27, 29, 59, 60, 69, 75, 96, 98-102, 114, 115, 118
fortified by Vladimir Andreevich in 1374 27

Service people, categories of 121

Severia 83, 84, 102

Seyyed Ahmed 73

Shah Ali placed on throne of Kazan by Vasilii III 20

Shchenia, Daniil defeats Lithuanians at Vedrosha River - 1500 130

Shcheniatev 97

Shchenya 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 83

Shelon River battle of in 1471 5, 67

Shemiaka 9, 32-35, 43, 61-63

Shemiaka, Dmitri leads civil war against Vasilii II 62

Sheremetev 91, 92

Sheykh Ahmed73, 78, 79

Shig Alei 89, 93

Shilenga, River battle of 67

Shivoron River battle of in 1551 90

Shuisky 83, 88, 94, 96, 104

Shuysky-Nemoy 79

Sigismund 7, 12, 14, 40, 43, 61, 86-88, 93, 94, 96-100

Sigismund Augustus 12, 87, 99, 100
campaign against Muscovy in 1562 96
invades Muscovy in 1534 87

Sigismund II Augustus 40, 43, 86, 94, 96

Skopin-Shuisky 104

Skoriatino battle of in 1436 33

Smolensk 7, 12, 13, 37, 42, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 70, 77-80, 82, 83, 87, 103, 122, 130
captured by Vitovt in 1395 42
Lithuanian-Polish attack on in 1534 87
siege of by Russians in 1502 79
siege of in 1404 42
siege of in 1609-11 7

Smolino, Lake battle of, 1502 80

Staritskii 39, 87

Starodubski 67, 68, 79

Starodubski-Pestry 67, 68

Starosta of Cherkassy 83, 84, 102

Sten Sture 14, 65, 74-76
brings Swedish relief army to Vyborg in 1495 74
sacks Ivangorod in 1496 75

Stephen 76, 80, 102-104

streltsi 89-91, 93, 101, 106-108, 111, 118, 119, 123-125
creation of 106
organization of 123

Streltsi Prikaz administers streltsi force 123

Suleiman 44, 95

Sulemian, Ottoman Sultan orders Crimean Tatars into Hungary 98

Sunzhenski Gorod founded in 1590 113

Sursk 82, 84

Suzdal 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 26, 28, 54-58, 61, 62, 76
location and importance 8

Sviyaza River 89

Sviyazhsk fortified in 1551 89

Sweden 13, 14, 38, 54, 74-76, 86, 94, 95, 99, 102, 113, 116, 117

Swedes capture many Russian towns in 1580 103

campaign in Russia in 1395 28
destroys Golden Horde power in 1395 17

Tannenburg, battle in 1410 43

Tatar 1, 3, 4, 6, 13-22, 24-27, 30-33, 35, 39, 40, 42, 44, 45, 47, 49, 52-54, 56-59, 61, 62, 63-68, 70-75, 78-80, 82-84, 86-88, 90-96, 98-101, 103, 104, 109, 110, 112-118, 133
service in Muscovite army 49

Tatev 95

Temir 70, 71

Terek River battle of in 1395 17

Teutonic Knights 11, 12, 43, 57, 62

Teutonic Order 42

Tinekmhat 101

Tomgruk 96

Toqtamish 17, 27-29, 31, 42, 57-59
grants title of Grand Prince to Vasilii I 29
kills Mamai and reunites Golden Horde in 1381 57
sacks Moscow in 1382 31, 58
takes control of Golden Horde and ruins it 17

Toropets 77

Torzhok 30, 67

Tsarev-Borisov built in 1600 118

Tula 16, 69, 84, 90, 92-95, 98, 105, 114, 115, 125

Turi Azkharin 77

Tver 3-5, 8, 9, 12, 16, 24-32, 34, 35, 43, 53-57, 59, 61, 64, 67, 72, 77, 79
attacked by Dmitrii Ivanovich in 1373 30
economic and political characteristics of 8
rebellion against Tatars in 1327 9, 24

Tyaginka73, 74, 76
battle of, 1497 76

Uraz-Mahmet 118

Ustyug 65, 66, 70-72, 75

Valuik built in 1599 118

Vasilii I 10, 27-29, 31, 32, 42, 55, 59, 60, 67, 74
annexes Vologda and Ustiug in 1398 59
obtains yarlyk in 1392 59
war against Novgorod in 1397 59

Vasilii I. Obolenski-Striga 67

Vasilii II 2, 3, 9, 10, 12, 18, 26, 28, 29, 32-35, 43, 59, 61-64
attacks Tatars at Susdal 62
begins reign 66-68, 71, 75, 79, 61
campaign against Kazan in 1446 62
campaign against Novgorod in 1456 63
captured by Tatars 62
defeates Horde Tatars on Bitiug River 63
defends Murom 61
first campaign against Viatka 63

Vasilii III 7, 20, 35-37, 41, 50, 77, 80, 82-84, 88
appoints Yan Ali as Khan of Kazan in 1532 85
builds fortress at Sursk 84
campaign against Kazan in 1506 82
conquerors Pskov by guile 83
reinforces frontier fortified line 84
renews war against Lithuania in 1514 83

Vasilii Mikhailovich of Tver 28

Vedrosha 77, 83, 130

Vedrosha River battle of in 1500 77, 130

Veliki Luki captured by Poland in 1580 103

Vereiskii, Mikhail leading supporter of Vasilii II and Ivan III 33

Veriea, principality location and importance 10

Viatka 10, 20, 63, 65-68, 70, 72, 92
conquered by Moscow 72
economic and political characteristics of 10
held briefly by Ibrahim of Kazan in 1468 20
siege by Tatars in 1478 68

Viborg Russian attack on in 1592 116

Vilna 58, 95, 103

defeats Crimean Tatars at Aidir River 94
raids against Perekop in 1558 94

Vishnevetskii, Dmitrii
defects from Ivan IV during Livonian War 39

Vishnevetsky 92-94, 102, 116
aids Moscow against Crimean Tatars 92
builds fort at Khortitsa Island in 1556 93

Vishnevetsky, Mikhail
supports Poland with cossack troops 102
switches Cherkassy cossack support to Poland 102

Vistula 78

Vitovt 7, 12, 17, 29, 31, 42, 43, 59
assists Vasilii I 42
captures Smolensk after siege in 1404 7
losses battle of Vorskla River in 1399 42
seeks Tatar support against Moscow 42
victory at Tannenburg in 1410 42

Vladimir Andreevich 26-28, 39, 56-58, 60, 92, 96, 98
assists in fortification of Moscow 27
defends Oka River in 1373 57
fights Mongols at Kulikovo in 1380 27
fortifies Serpukhov in 1374 27
prepares Moscow for siege in 1395 28
successfully defends Moscow from Tatars in 1408 28
supports Dmitrii against Tatars in 1373 27

Vladimir-Suzdal economic and political characteristics of 10

voevoda 50, 72, 89, 90, 94-97, 99-101, 108, 109, 111, 119, 121, 122, 131, 132

Voevoda. title for military commander 132

Volga 2, 6-8, 10, 11, 15, 19-22, 28, 44, 46, 55-58, 66, 68, 70, 71, 77, 84, 89, 90, 92, 95, 98, 103-105, 113, 124

Vologda 29, 34, 35, 59, 65, 66, 71

Von Furstenburg 94

Von Plettenberg 78

Vorotinski 95, 96, 99, 109

Vorotynsky, Mikhail arrested by Ivan IV 101
successfully blocks Tatar campaign in 1572 100

Vorskla River battle of in 1399 18, 42

Vozha River battle of in 1378 57

Vyazemsky 92, 95

Vyborg14, 74, 75
siege of in 1495 74

Wenden captured by Stephen Batory in 1577 102

Yakovlev 97

Yakub 61, 62

Yam 104, 113, 117

Yamgurchei 92

Yamgurchu 73

Yan Ali 85

Yaroslavsky 66, 71, 79

Zakharin 77, 79

Zamolski 104

Zaslavl' 18, 72
battle of in 1491 18
battle of in 491 72

Zheslavsty 79

Zhitomir 116 battle of in 1593 116

“gulaya gorod” in defense of Moscow in 1591 114


These footnotes were generated by the program used to prepare the printed version of this booklet.

(1) Richard Hellie, “Muscovy,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 23, 22. 214-228.

(2) Edward D. Solol, “Riurikovichi,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 31, pp. 115-119.

(3) Charles E. Timberlake, “Moscow Kremlin,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 23, pp. 96-105.
One of the best books on the Kremlin with illustrations is Arthur Voyce, The Moscow Kremlin: Its History, Architecture, and Art Treasures, Univ. of Calif. Berkeley, 1954.

(4) “Novgorod, Principality of” Joseph L. Wieczynski, ed. The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History,

(5) “Riazan, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 31, p. 84.

(6) G. S. Gorshkov, “Rostov, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 31, p. 173.

(7) Lithuania exerted increasing pressure and gained control of Smolensk off and on during the 1390's until it was able to gain permanent control in 1405.

(8) Martin Dimnik, “Smolensk, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 36, pp. 56-60.

(9) V. A. Kuchkin, “Suzdal-Nizhegorod, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 38, pp. 87-88.

(10) Joseph L. Wieczynski, “Tver, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 40, pp. 111-114.

(11) “Uzbeg,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41, p. 152.

(12) See Vereiskii, Mikhail

(13) S. M. Kashtanov, “Viatka Land,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 42, pp. 74-5.

(14) Martin Dimnik, “Rostov-Suzdal-Vladimir, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 31, pp. 175-178.

(15) James G. Nutsch, “Lithuanians,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol, 20. pp. 79-84.

(16) Michael T. Florinsky, Russia, p. 43.

(17) Leopold Sobel, “Lithuania, Grand Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 20, pp. 63-69.

(18) Leopold Sobel, “Polish-Russian Relations, to 1795,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 28, pp. 215-222.

(19) Ivan's effort to enlist Danish assistance against Sweden is remarkably similar to the same strategy employed by Peter the Great 220 years later.

(20) Leopold Sobel, “Swedish-Russian Relations to 1497,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol 38, pp. 132-138.

(21) Rene Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes, p. 253. The ulus was the division of nomadic tribes and the yurt was the division of grazing territories to support them.

(22) At the time of Chingis Khan's death of course Batu had yet to extend his domain to the west, it was to extend as far "as the ground beaten by Mongol horses' hoofs.
This came about in the famous campaign of 1236-42 to the Adriatic.

(23) See Charles Halperin, Russia and the Golden Horde, p. 27 for discussion of the extensive diplomatic exchange between the Golden Horde and the Mamelukes of Egypt.

(24) Haleprin, op. cit. explains why this was so. The Russians had so little of value they were not worth the Mongol effort.

(25) Even Tamerlane felt it essential to rule through the person of a figurehead Chingizide khan.

(26) Rene Grousset, op. cit. discusses these civil wars in detail. p. 403. Charles Halperin writes that Nogai's legitimacy as a Chingiside was in question and that his power base was the western part of the Horde domain in Crimea and the Balkans.

(27) The north-central and eastern Mongols later accepted Buddhism which furthered the disunity of the successor states.

(28) Edward Sokol "Golden Horde," The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 12, pp 223-227.

(29)Rene Grousset, op. cit. p.405.

(30) ibid. p. 407.

(31) Rene Grousset, ibid., p. 436.

(32) ibid. p. 443.

(33) ibid. p. 470.

(34)Rene Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes, p. 477.

(35) op. cit., p. 472.

(36) V. I. Buganov, “Kazan, Khanate of”, The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol, 16, pp. 80-90.

(37) Rene Grousset, op. cit.. p. 475.

(38) “Nogai Shiakh”, The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 25, pp .42- 43.

(39) Edward D. Sokol, “Nogai Horde”, The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 25, pp. 38-42.

(40) “Dmitrii Mikhailovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 9, p. 178.

(41) Emily V. Leonard, “Ivan I Danilovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 15, pp. 35-40.

(42) Hugh F. Graham, “Ivan II, Ivan Ivanovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 15, pp. 40-42.

(43) David M. Goldfrank, “Dmitrii Ivanovich Donskoi,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 9, pp. 170-177.

(44) This information is taken from Edward D. Sokol, “Vladimir Andreevich Khrabryi,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 42, pp. 147-153.

(45) Dmitrii was age 12 and Vladimir age 9.

(46) The Muscovites did agree to pay a ransom to Edigei for lifting the siege.

(47) “Dmitrii Konstantinovich Starshii,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 9, pp. 177-178.

(48) “Andrei Ol'gerdovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 1, p. 222.

(49) G. Edward Orchard, “Vasilii I Dmitrievich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41, pp. 213-215.

(50) “Vasilii Mikhailovich of Tver,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41, p. 225.

(51) Martin Dimnik, “Mikhail Aleksandrovich of Tver,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol 22, pp. 46-49.

(52) “Ivan Mikhailovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 15, p. 65.

(53) “Vasilii Dmitrievich Kirdiapa,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41, p.223-224.

(54) Hugh F. Graham, “Vasilii II Vasil'evich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41, pp. 215-219.

(55) “Vasilii Yur'evich Kosoi”, Joseph L. Wieczynski ed., The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41. p. 225.

(56) Ivan used as excuse his quarrel with Mikhail's son, Vasilii, who was married to Ivan's wife's niece.

(57) John D. Windhausen, “Vereiskii, Mikhail Andreevich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 42, pp. 30-33.

(58) This was in marked contrast to his ancestor's refusal to send troops to aid Moscow against the Tatars in 1380.

(59) V. A. Kuchkin, “Mikhail Borisovich of Tver,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 22. p. 51.

(60) “Ivan Ivanovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 15, p. 64.

(61) Richard Hellie, “Vasilii III Ivanovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 41, pp. 219-223.

(62) David M. Goldfrank, “Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolenskii, Ivan Fedorovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 26, p.163-164.

(63) The following discussion is taken from Serge, A. Zenkovsky, “Ivan IV,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 15, pp. 51-60.

(64) Serge Zenkovsky divides Ivan's reign into four general periods; his childhood (1533-1546), his reform period (1546-1564), the internal tension and Oprichnina (1565-1572), and the final period of military reverses and economic problems (1572-1584). “Ivan IV (Ivan Vasil'evich)” in The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol 15. pp. 51-60.

(65) Ivan's struggle against the independent minded aristocracy was in a way similar to that of French and English kings against their noblemen. But the western monarchs never quite conceived of themselves as sole legal owners of their kingdoms so the subjugation they sought of their aristocrats was not so total. At the same time they had vastly more cash resources to use to hire military forces with which to suppress their nobility. Although in this respect Henry VIII's seizure of church property to pay his supporters is quite similar to the consfication of land practiced by Ivan III and Ivan IV.

(66) Hugh F. Graham, “Staritskii, Vladimir Andreevich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 37, pp. 86-88.

(67) V. A. Golobutskii, “Vishnevetskii, Dmitrii Ivanovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 42, p. 126.

(68) Hugh F. Graham, “Adashev, Aleksei Fedorovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 1, pp. 28-30.

(69) Hugh F. Graham, “Adashev, Daniil Fedorovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 1, p. 30-31.

(70) “Andrei Ivanovich,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 1, p. 222.

(71) The final agreement between Vitovt and Iagailo for a Polish-Lithuanian Union was not signed until 1401.

(72) See Golden Horde for discussion of the rebellion of Edigei against Toqtamish.

(73) Vitovt's policy of seeking alliances with Tatar Khans was continued by his successors in Lithuania for nearly 200 years.

(74) Leopold Sobel, “Vitovt,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 42, pp.139-144.

(75) Martin Dimnik, “Smolensk, Principality of,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 36, p. 58.

(76) Samogetia was the part of the Baltic Coast lying between East Prussia and Livonia. The Teutonic Knights continually sought to add it to their domain in order to unite the two, divided territories.
The Lithuanians sought to annex it in order to gain a Baltic Sea coastline. Fighting was sporadic between 1400 and 1404.

(77) David M. Goldfrank, “Ahmad,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 1, pp. 63-64.

(78) Hugh F. Graham, “Mengli-Girei”, The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History,, vol. 21, pp. 196-198.

(79) John Fennell, Ivan the Great of Moscow, p. 72.

(80) John D. Windhausen, “Nur Doulat”, The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 25, pp. 146-149.

(81) Chernov op. cit. p. 11.

(82) Sakharov A M Obrazobanie i Razvitie Rossiistigo gosudarstva b. XIV-XVIII p. 29 44, 45 Fennell, Emergence of Moscow p. 25.

(83) Chernov, op. cit. p. 32.

(84) ibid p. 31.

(85) ibid p. 19.

(86) Chernov op. cit. 13 dodges the issue of how many men the Grand Duke could assemble in the 14-15th century by remarking that the chronicle says Dmitri Donskai had 400,000 at Kulikovo battle.
Razin op. cit., Vol. II, p. 272 gives a detailed analysis using several methods to show that the maximum was 50,000. For one thing, he says the 1000's organization was a name of a unit which did not necessarily have 1000 in it.

(87) See Sorokolyetov, F. P., Istoriya voyennoi lyeksiki v russkom yazikye for an exhaustive discussion of the origin and usage of the term polk and other military terminology.

(88) Chernov op. cit. 13 Vernadsky Mongol

(89) Razin op. cit. Vol. II p. 272.

(90) ibid p. 297.

(91) Chernov op. cit. p. 34.

(92) George Vernadsky, The Mongols and Russia, p. 111.

(93) George Vernadsky, ibid. p. 112.

(94) Vernadsky and many other writers provide fascinating detailed accounts of the nature of a Mongol hunting/training exercise.

(95) George Vernadsky, The Mongols and Russia, p. 126.

(96) Emily V. Leonard, “Ivan I,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 15, pp. 35-40.

(97) George Vernadsky, A History of Russia, 5 Volumes New Haven, Yale University Press, 1953- 1969, Volume III, p. 316. This is the first mention of Cossacks in the Russian records.

(98) ibid. Vol III, p. 317.

(99) Some authorities say that the Khanate was already in being under Mahmudek's father, Uleg Mahmed.

(100) The Russians recognized the same importance of geneology for the Tatars as they did for themselves. They always refered only to direct decendance of Chingis Kahn as tsar, tsarivich, etc; just as they reserved the title of prince for decendants of Rurik and Gedymin.

(101) ibid. Vol III, p. 318-320. J Fennell, Ivan the Great of Moscow, New York, St. Martins, 1962, p. 14.

(102) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol III, p. 331.

(103) ibid. p. 329; and Fennell, op. cit. p. 14.

(104) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. III p. 329-330, and Vol IV p. 43.

(105) ibid. Vol IV p. 73.

(106) Ivan's first wife, Maria of Tver, had died in 1467, not that her relationship to her brother, Michael, would have disuaded him very much.

(107) Fennell, op. cit. p. 20; and Ian Grey, Ivan The Third And The Unification of Russia, The English University Press, London 1964, p. 80.

(108) Fennell, op. cit. p. 20; and Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 73.

(109) Fennell, op. cit. p. 21; and Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 81.

(110) Fennell, op. cit. p. 23-27.

(111) ibid. p. 41. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 50-51. Professor Vernadsky provides interesting comments on the discrepancies between the Novrorod and the Nikon Chronicles. The Nikon Chronicle omits mention of the Tatars. The Novgorod Chronicle says that the Novgorodian army was infantry and the Tatar ambush was the decisive blow. For a more detailed account of the campaign and the battle of the Shelon River see also; E. Razin, Istoriya Voenogo Iskustava, Vol II p. 312-317. For the importance of Torhok and Ivan's move there see also, Robert J. Kerner, The Urge to the Sea, Berkeley, University of California, 1946, p. 43.

(112)Fennell, op. cit. p. 67-68; and Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV. p. 73.

(113)Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV, p. 58, 60, 61, 74; Fennell, op. cit. p. 50; Grey, op. cit. p. 83. Gunther Rothenberg, The Austrian Military Border in Croatia, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, points out that the Turks used the techniques of border raids as a means of "softening up" enemy lands so that they would be more easily conquered and ruled later.

(114) This campaign was not only to eliminate Novgorod's last vestiges of independence but also to acquire the vital land needed to create pomestie to pay the dvoriane and deti boyarski.

(115) This is the famous standoff on the Ugra that went into Russia history as the celebrated "throwing off the Tatar Yoke" by Ivan III.

(116) Fennell, op. cit. p. 81.

(117) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 80, 100.

(118) Fennell, op. cit. p. 98; Vernadsky op. cit. Vol IV p. 82.

(119) ibid.

(120) Jaroslaw Pelenski, "Muscovite Imperial Claims to the Kazan Khanate" Slavic Review vol. XXVI no. 4, December 1967 p. 560-57

(121)Fennell, op. cit. p. 99-101; Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 89.

(122) Fennell, op. cit. p. 101-105.

(123) ibid. p. 138.

(124) ibid. p. 185.

(125) There is some confusion of the construction of Ochakov. Vernadsky (Vol IV, p. 84) gives the date Mengli Gerei built Ochakov as 1492, while Fennell, Op. cit. - 200 gives the date 1494; and Grey, op. cit. p. 105 says 1494-7. Vernadsky dates the Cossack raid on Ochakov in 1493, Vol IV p. 254.

(126) Fennell, op. cit. p. 171; Vernadsky Vol IV p. 93. Fennell gives the Danish King's name and Vernadsky uses Hans.

(127) Fennell op. cit. p. 174-178.

(128) Vernadsky op. cit. vol IV p. 92; Fennell op. cit. p. 182.

(129) Fennell, op. cit. p. 202; Grey, op. cit. p. 105.

(130) Fennell, op. cit. p. 176, 183; Vernadsky op. cit. vol IV p. 94.

(131) Fennell, op. cit. p. 211-214; Grey, op. cit. p. 163. Ian Grey remarks that a number of leading boyars, including Princes Ivan Patrikeev, Simeon Ryapolovsky and Vasiliy Romadonovsky, were opposed to Ivan's foreign polity. They wanted continued concentration on war in the east against the Tatars, not in the west against Lithuania. Since the boyars were the army commanders, it is clear that their opposition could effect the war effort, in fact Ivan III did have to take severe measures against his boyar opponents. The same difference of opinion and struggle was repeated between Ivan IV and his boyar generals.

(132) Fennell, op. cit. p. 214-222; Grey, op. cit. p. 121.

(133) Vernadsky, op. cit. vol IV p. 138.

(134) For a detailed account of the battle of Vedrosha see Razin op. cit. vol II p. 321.

(135) Fennell, op. cit. p. 230-244; Grey, op. cit. p. 122-123.

(136) Fennell, op. cit. p. 225.

(137) ibid. p. 248.

(138) Grey, op. cit. p. 64-65 and 126-128; Fennell, op. cit. p. 236-248.

(139) Fennell, op. cit. p. 247-257.; Grey, op. cit. p. 132.

(140) Ian Grey, Ivan the Terrible, Philadelphia, Lippencott, 1964, p. 167. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 140, 142.

(141) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 143-145.

(142) ibid. p. 155.

(143) Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 167. According to Grey, the war began in 1508, but the first campaign recorded was in 1512. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 153.

(144) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 155-156; Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 168. For a detailed description of the battle of Orsha see Razin, op. cit. p. 353; and for the main campaigns of the war, pages 351-354.

(145) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 255.

(146) ibid. p. 154; Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 168.

(147) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 153, 156, 157, 255; Grey, Ivan the Terrible p. 167. In February 1521 the Ottoman Turks resumed the offensive in Hungary, by 29 August they captured Belgrade. In 1522 the Austrians began to construct a fortified military border in Croatia, manned by refugee peasants, mostly Serbs, and mercenaries. This fortified line was similar to the ones which the Russians began building soon afterwards. The austrian military border lasted into the 19th century. For a complete study of this system see Guther Rothenburg, The Austrian Military Border in Croatia 1522-1737, Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960; and The Military Border in Croatia 1740-1881, Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1966.

(148) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 162.

(149) In the West, Turkish power was expanding during this period. Sulemian defeated the Hungarians at Mohacs and then entered Buda on 12 Sept. 1526. His advance guard reached as far as Vignna. Then in 1529 the Sultan brought his whole army into Austria and besieged Vienna unsuccessfully.

(150) While Ivan III had occasionally been referred to as Tsar after his marriage to Sophia, Ivan IV was the first Russian monarch to be so titled at his coronation.

(151) Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 40.

(152) ibid. p. 38, 47.

(153) ibid. p. 49.

(154) ibid.

(155) ibid. p. 54.

(156) ibid. p. 92; Keenan, Edward; Muscovy and Kazan; Some "Introductory Remarks on the Patterns of Steppe Diplomacy," Slavic Review Vol. XXVI No. 4 December 1967, p. 553-557.

(157) Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 95; A. V. Chernov, Vooruzhenie Sili Russkogo Gosudarstva v XV-XVII Veke, Moscow, 1954 gives a detailed study of Ivan's military reforms. These reforms are studied separately in this paper. Ivan's need to sieze church lands to reward his followers is similar to the same need experienced by Henry VIII in England about the same time.

(158) Grey, Ivan the Terrible p. 94-96; A. M. Sakharov, Obrazovanie i Razvitie Rossiiskogo Gosdudarstva v XIV-XVII Veke, Moscow, 1969, p. 99. The author explains that the fort at Svayazhsk was prefabricated and test assembled in Moscow then disassembled and shipped to the site and erected there to the amazement of the Tatars. The engineer in charge was Ivan Verodkov. See also Pankov, op.cit. p. 29-31.

(159) According to contemporary chronicles and soivet writers who accept them. However, we may be excused for cutting this number in half or less.

(160) This account of the siege of Kazan is given by Ian Grey in Ivan the Terrible, p. 98, 99.

(161) Grey, op.cit. p. 120, 151.

(162) ibid. p. 121.

(163) ibid. p. 122-3; Vernadsky op. cit. Vol. IV p. 227.

(164) ibid.

(165) Sakharov, op.cit. p. 103. For an account of the whole war see Razin, op.cit. p. 370-384.

(166) Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 124, 131; Vernadsky op. cit. Vol. IV p. 228. A. A. Novoselski, Borba Moskovskogo Gosudarstvo s Tatarami v XVII veke, Moscow, 1948, p. 427. This book by Novoselski is by far the best book on the subject, unfortunately it only has information on the Russian - Tatar wars of the period 1558-1650.

(167) If the Russian armies totalled anywhere near this many troops, they certainly were not in one army, but were spread over a very wide area.

(168) Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 124. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 229-30. Novoselski, op.cit. p. 427.

(169) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 428. Grey, op.cit. p. 134; Sakharov, op.cit. p. 103. Ivan IV's wife died in this year. She was credited with being a restraining influence on him. Her eath, which he considered to be by poison, and an attack on himself, led to extreme repressive measures by the Tsar.

(170) Novoselski, op. cit. p. 428. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 233. Grey, op.cit. p. 144.

(171) Grey, op.cit. p. 146.

(172) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 428.

(173) ibid. p. 427; Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 236; Grey, op.cit. p. 145-6.

(174) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 237-240; Grey, op.cit. p. 152-161; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 428. There are many studies of the oprichnina listed in the bibliography. For an account of the military aspects of the oprichnina see R. Wipper, Ivan Grozny,op. cit. translated by J. Fineberg, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947, p. 104.

(175) Grey, op.cit. p. 163-4, 185-196; Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 240; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 429.

(176) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 429.

(177) ibid.

(178) ibid.

(179) ibid. p. 430; Grey, op.cit. p. 197.

(180) Grey, op.cit. p. 178-197; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 430.

(181) The large number as reported in the Russian chronicles seems exagerated.

(182) Grey, op.cit. p. 199-207; Chernov, op.cit. p. 72; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 430.

(183) Grey, op.cit. p. 199-207; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 430.

(184) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 430.

(185) ibid. p. 431.

(186) ibid. Grey, op.cit. p. 208. The incident of Ivan's use of Prince Simeon Bekbulatovich as a kind of front man has puzzled many historians. Even Michael Florinsky treats it as a kind of joke. Russia, A History and an Interpretation, New York, Macmillan, 1953, p. 186, 187. R. Wipper, op. cit. p. 250, notes that Bekbulatovich was Khan of Kazan, but does not point out the significance of this. Recently Omeljan Pritsak has noted that Bekbulatovich who he points out was Khan of Kasimov, not Kazan, was a descendent of Chingis Khan, hence invested with great charisma in the eyes of the Tatars. His elevation to the titular rule in Moscow was no joke, but an effort to strengthen Ivan's hold over one of his chief military assets, his Tatar forces, while hopefully reducing the zeal of some of his Tatar opponents. Omeljan Pritsak, "Moscow, the Golden Horde, and the Kazan Khanate from a Polycultural Point of View" Slavic Review Vol. XXVI, No. 4, December 1967.

(187) Grey, op.cit. p. 216-218; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 431.

(188) ibid.

(189) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 262. He notes that in 1572 the Polish Hetman, Jerzy Jazlowiecki, had created a 300 man Cossack detachment, but it was disbanded three years later.

(190) ibid.

(191) Vovoselski, op.cit. p. 431.

(192) Grey, op.cit. p. 221; Sakharov, op.cit. p. 111; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 431.

(193) Grey, op.cit. p. 223.

(194) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 432.

(195) Grey, op.cit. p. 224-225; Novoselski, op.cit. p. 432. For the siege of Pskov, see Razin op.cit. p. 378-383.

(196) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 257.

(197) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 432, 32.

(198) ibid. p. 44.

(199) ibid. p. 35, 432.

(200) ibid. p. 432.

(201) ibid. p. 432, 35.

(202) ibid. p. 432; Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. V p. 202.

(203) ibid.

(204) ibid. p. 36, 432.

(205) ibid. p. 433.

(206) Razin, op.cit. Vol. III p. 50-51.

(207) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 433.

(208) Razin, op.cit. Vol. III p. 52.

(209) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. V p. 197-8 gives a brief account of this campaign. I have the more detailed account found in Razin, op.cit. Vol. III p. 54-58. Vernadsky notes that the white stone walls of the main city had just been rebuilt. The outer city was surrounded by wooden walls. Razin says that the reports exaggerated the number of Tatars participating in the raid. Some reports claimed 400,000 Tatars were present. Razin estimates 40,000 as a more likely figure for those actually at Moscow. The year following this victory the Donskoi Monastery was founded on the site of the "gulaya gorod" so the location can be easily located today, near downtown Moscow.

(210) The Tatar camp and observation post was on the hills now occupied by Lenin University.

(211) Razin, op. cit. Vol. III p. 58. Novoselski, op.cit. p. 433.

(212) T. N. and R. Ernest Dupuy The Encyclopedia of Military History, New York, Harper and Row, 1970, p. 504.

(213) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 42.

(214) ibid. p. 41.

(215) Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 263.

(216) Novoselski, op.cit. p. 41. He notes that the Ottoman officials stated that the Sultan never asks anyone for peace. All requests must originate on the other side. Yet the war in Hungary forced the Sultan to quietly ignore the protocol and sign the peace.

(217) Vernadsky, op.cit. Vol. IV p. 263. The Razryad book notes an interesting event for 1594; the marriage of one of the sons of Khan Yanaraslan of the Nogai to the widow of A. I. Shuiski. This is an example of the close ties of the Russian and Tatar nobility. In this year Tsar Boris appointed Ishterek as Khan and again made the Nogais subordinate to Moscow.

(218) Razin, op. cit. vol III, p. 58; Novoselski, op. cit. p. 44.

(219) Vernadsky, op. cit. vol IV, p. 263; Novoselski, op. cit. p. 43.

(220) Vernadsky, op. cit. vol V, p. 208.

(221) Vernadsky, op. cit. vol V, p. 208.

(222) ibid. vol V. p. 209

(223) Alton S. Donnelly, “Voevoda,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 42. pp. 210-212.

(224) V. S. Bakulin “Storozhevaia i staqnichnaia sluzhba,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History,, vol. 37, p. 172.