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THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY MUSCOVITE ARMY

LtCol Dianne Smith

24 January 1984

During the reign of Ivan IV (1533-84), Muscovy was surrounded on four sides. To the east, the efforts of Cossack explorers to expand into the Siberian depths necessitated fortresses to protect settlers from hostile tribesmen. To the south, each year Crimean Tatar horsemen carried off nearly 100,000 men, women, and children to the Moslem slave marts. To the west, the long border with Poland stretched as a continual battlefield. To the north, the forests of Karelia loomed as an avenue for Swedish invasion. The absorption of Kazan and Astrakhan brought the Volga River basin under Russian control, but moved Muscovy's borders even closer to the armies of the Ottoman Empire. An abortive war in Livonia (present day Estonia) (1558-83) temporarily awarded Moscow a Baltic port, predating Peter the Great's "window on the West" by 150 years, yet the struggle ultimately bled Russia white. The army was the predominant institution in Muscovite society. Ivan inherited a gentry militia cavalry and transformed it into a combined arms force, integrating cavalry, infantry, artillery, and engineers. To understand sixteenth century Russia it is necessary not just to study how the army was organized, but to examine how it worked and why it ultimately failed.

The gentry militia cavalry was derived from the 15th century court of the Muscovite Grand Prince. It consisted of a hierarchy of nobles who held hereditary estates called votchina and gentry servitors who were given estates, called pomestie, in exchange for military service. Pomestie estates were to provide the servitor a livelihood during the tour of service only. When the service ended, the estate reverted back to the ruler for redistribution to a new cavalryman. The early Muscovite princes supplemented this cavalry with some urban regiments, a peasant host, and a hodgepodge of Lithuanian princes, Tatar allies, and Mordovian ski troops. Cossacks provided reconnaissance along the southern frontier. Artillery, mostly located in fortresses, and arquebusiers (musketeers), utilizing primitive flintlocks, constituted limited firepower.(1) It was this army which threw off the last vestiges of Mongol rule (1240-1480) and reconsolidated the patchwork quilt of independent princes which had splintered under Mongol rule.
The 16th century army was composed of gentry cavalry, infantry, artillery, and engineer troops. A young man reached adulthood at 15 and was considered ready to assume the responsibility not only of military service, but the administration of the pomestie lands which went with it. The Military Service Decree required each pomestie holder, called a pomeshchik, pl. pomeshchiki, to appear on demand with one horse (two horses for long campaigns), provisions, and personal weapons in exchange for each 100 chetverti of land (one chetvert equals 4.1 acres). For each additional 100 chetverti apportioned, one servitor on a horse with armor (two horses for long campaigns) was to accompany the pomeshchik. In theory a man with 400 chetverti of land would bring along four troops. The majority of pomeshchiki held less than 200 chetverti and even large landholders rarely brought a proportional number of servitors. Generally the servitor was a slave, a Russian who had voluntarily sold himself into slavery for debts.

Cavalry weapons included the bow and arrow, spear, saber, axe, dagger, and, at the end of the century, a small number of pistols. The bow and arrow used was the "composite bow" standard among eastern horsemen. It was constructed of laminated horn, horn and wood, or apparently sometimes of metal. It was very effective. A one-half ounce arrow could range 600 yards, although a two-ounce, 24" arrow was more common in wartime. The three-foot bow had a 118-pound pull and could shoot the war arrow 300 yards or pierce a 1/2" plank at 100 yards.(2) Cavalrymen also used a long-shafted spear with an iron tip. The boar spear (rogatina) was characterized by a pole-axe blade. Also popular was an iron bludgeon with thorns, strengthened by chain links to the shaft.(3)
Extensive use was made of defensive body armor. Shirts of iron links, called kol'chuga, were traditional wear. In the mid16th century two new styles became increasingly popular: the iushman, a short-sleeved chain mail shirt with square plates of metal in the midsection, and the zertsalo, a circular metal plate over the chest with plates on the sleeves and neck area. Rich servitors wore an undershirt of velvet under coats of mail: poorer servitors wore linen. Lower class servitors and servants often wore a quilted caftan called a tegiliai. The tegiliai consisted of leather or strengthened linen, stuffed inside with wadding and tightly sewn so that it could be exposed to weapon's fire. Richer servitors might have tegiliai made of velvet trimmed with ermine or linen with a metal lining.(4)

The gentry cavalrymen were first and foremost horsemen. Foreigners noted the Turkish influence on both dress and tactics. Anthony Jenkinson, an English soldier of fortune, noted, "When he rideth on horseback to the wars or any journey, he hath a sword of the Turkish fashion and his bow and arrows of the same manner. They use saddles made of wood and sinews with the tree gilded with damask work and the seat covered with cloth, sometimes of gold and the rest saffian leather, well stitched."(5) Giles Fletcher, the English ambassador, was also interested in the military skill of the gentry cavalry. "The common horseman hath nothing else but his bow in his case under his right arm and his quiver and sword hanging on the left side.... The under captains will have commonly some piece of armor besides, as a shirt of mail or such like. Their swords, bows, and arrows are of the Turkish fashion. They practice like the Tatar to shoot forwards and backwards as they fly and retire."(6)

Each year the gentry cavalry had to muster for a review by Muscovite officials. The purpose of the inspection was to examine equipment, to check the amount of land held against the number of servitors brought, and to verify enrollment rosters. Those not appearing were liable to imprisonment or corporal punishment.(7) Heinrich von Staden, a German mercenary, commented that, "...those who did not appear at the muster were deprived of their estates and beaten publicly in the marketplace or in the camp, with lashes and whips. Even if one was deathly ill, he had to be carried or led to the muster."(8)

Even with the threatened punishment, absenteeism was a problem. According to the register book for Serpukhov in 1556, 174 gentry cavalrymen were to appear for review -- 92 appeared. It was not as bad as it appeared. Of the 92 absent, the following excuses were given: 30 were serving in Kazan, seven in Sviyazhsk, two in Nizhni Novgorod, eight were Nogai Tatar prisoners-of-war, two were already involved in a campaign, three were serving as local government officials, one was on a mission to Lithuania, one in Moscow, four were ill and 34 were on garrison duty along the southern frontier.(9) However, as the political and economic situation in Russia began to crumble in the last years of the Livonian War and as peasants began to flee pomestie estates in droves, absenteeism became an acute problem as pomeshchiki refused to show for muster in order to remain home to handle the affairs of their estates.

The inspection of equipment at muster showed a wide range of preparedness. A Smolensk review of 92 pomeshchiki analyzed the equipment brought by the gentry and their servitors. Of 596 troops reviewed, only 210 had complete gear (helmets, body armor, arm and knee protection), 219 had partial gear, and 164 wore only quilted body armor. Only two-thirds had any metal protection. Partial gear included 68 pieces of metal armor, 58 iron helmets, three papier-mache helmets, three pairs of arm protectors, and one pair of kneecap pieces.(10) A 1577 review in Kolomna revealed that only one-half had horses, armor, helmets, bows and arrows and sabers. Of the slave servitors, one-half had armor and weapons equivalent to gentry standards and the remainder had either no weapons or equipment equal to the poorest pomeshchik servitor. Wealthy gentry could generally afford to outfit their servants well while poor pomeshchiki with one servitor were hard-pressed to provide the additional equipment.(11)

The state of preparedness, training, and reliability of the pomestie cavalry were poor. They were hampered by the absence of military discipline, their absolute unpreparedness in military affairs, logistics difficulties and the great difficulty involved in mobilizing forces using the muster system. They were landlords, not soldiers, for whom military service increasingly became a burden.(12)

In 1550 Ivan IV organized a standing force of arquebusiers called strel'tsy, the first permanent Russian infantry. Originally, 3,000 men were organized into six detachments of 500 men each. A gentry officer headed each unit of 500, which was further subdivided into units of 100, commanded by a sotnik, and tens.(13) The average soldier received four to seven rubles a year, 12 chetverti* of rye and oats, shot, cloth, and a small garden plot. To supplement their salary, the strel'tsy engaged in handicrafts in garrison towns and sold produce from their plots. The strel'tsy commander was given a pomestie estate similar to his cavalry counterparts. Subcommanders were given 30-60 rubles a year and 300-500 chetverti of pomestie land. Sotniki received 12-20 rubles.(14)

* When referring to grain a chetvert was equal to 4-8 puds of grain; one pud was 36 American pounds.

The strel'tsy were armed with muskets, sabers, and a half-moon axe called a berdysh, which was distinctive to dismounted troops because it required both hands to wield. It was also equipped with a pointed metal end for sticking into the ground, a valuable adjunct to the unwieldy musket.(15) Fletcher was not overly impressed with the strel'tsy armaments. "The strel'tsy or footman hath nothing but his piece in his hand, his striking hatchet at his back, and his sword by his side. The stock of his piece is not made cleaver-wise, but with a plain and straight stock, somewhat like a fowling piece; the barrel is rudely and unartifically made, very heavy, yet shooteth but a very small bullet."(16) The musket's effectiveness was also hampered by the excessive time it took to reload and the difficulty in firing quickly in succession. Foreigners' accounts estimated that in battle the strel'tsy would average only 12-16 shots apiece.(17)

The strel'tsy were unique in that they were uniformly armed, uniformly clothed, and uniformly trained. They did not fight in open spaces, but were used to defend or attack fortified places. Their assault on the fortress of Kazan is regarded as the decisive factor responsible for the final Russian conquest two years after their founding. They were generally garrisoned in border fortresses in units ranging from 1,000 in Kazan, Smolensk, and Pskov, to units of 100 in a myriad of small forts such as Gdov, Izborsk, and Iaransk.(18) A small number of select strel'tsy were formed into a special cavalry unit, called the stremiannye strel'tsy, whose function was to protect the tsar.(19) The strel'tsy were more similar to the Turkish Janissaries than western style arquebusiers in that they were recruited for life and their sons followed them into service.(20) The strel'tsy were founded because the gentry cavalry had proven unsuccessful against Polish and Swedish infantry, but tactically they were employed with the cavalry because the Russians never developed the corps of pikemen to protect the infantry from enemy cavalry, as in the West.(21)

A small number of infantry forces was provided by dismounted Cossack units organized along the lines of the strel'tsy.(22) So called fortress Cossacks were generally infantry, although some were cavalry forces serving along the border areas in exchange for pomestie estates. They were used almost exclusively for reconnaissance duties.(23) About 4,000 foreign mercenaries also served as infantry during Ivan's reign.

The third component of the Muscovite army was the artillery (nariad). Russian artillery was divided into fortress cannon and field artillery. Fortress cannon had a 25 cm caliber, a range of up to three kilometers, and could be fired two to eight times a day. By the end of the 16th century 3,000 to 3,500 such guns existed. Field artillery were lighter weight with a caliber of nine to ten cm and a maximum range of 600 meters. Artillery shells included solid (stone and iron), explosive (jugs filled with gunpowder), incendiary (stone shot covered with a combustible substance) and luminous.(24) Russian historians also are prone to glorify a multi-barreled weapon known in documents as the sorok which they claim predated the Gatling gun by three centuries.(25) However, none exist to the present day and their significance is overrated. The Russian fascination with size was early apparent in the developing of monster cannot such as the Tsar Pushka, an 89-cm caliber gun measuring five meters long and weighing 40 tons.(26)

Cannoneers in Moscow were paid three rubles a year, one and a half puds of salt a month, plus flour and clothing worth two rubles. On campaign they received additional rations. Fortress cannoneers received one ruble a year, plus two puds of salt and 12 chetverti of rye and oats. Many cannoneers were also allotted plots of land supplemented their jobs as artisans and tradesmen. In peacetime they guarded their weapons, tested new guns, prepared and transported gunpowder, supervised the preparation of shot, and repaired the cannon. Each cannoneer entering service swore a special oath to fulfill his service in war and peace, to be loyal to the Muscovite state, to refrain from drinking, not to steal from the Treasury, and not to divulge the secrets of artillery science. Those bringing in new recruits were answerable with their heads for those whom they recruited.(27)

Engineer duties were performed by peasant levies called pososhnye liudi, taken from the agricultural unit, sokha, from which they were recruited. Each rural sokha had to provide 22 men per campaign. The mobilized peasants performed construction work (bridges and roads), transported supplies by cart and boat, and provided general auxiliary services as needed. They also constructed fortresses and river craft for the transport of troops and military supplies. The pososhnye liudi were commanded by a special golova u posokhi from the gentry service class. The size of pososhnye liudi could exceed that of the combat troops. For example, according to contemporary accounts, during the 1563 Polotsk campaign there were approximately 45,000 combat troops and 80,000 pososhnye liudi. They were supported by a national tax called the pososhnye den'gi levied on sokha residents and townspeople.(28) Additionally they played an important role in the movement of artillery. Mounted pososhnye liudi transported shells and gunpowder and built gun positions while on campaign.(29)

One unique institution of the Muscovite army was the portable field fortification known as the gulai gorod. The mobile wooden fortresses were constructed from prefabricated boards and transported by wagon or sled. The separate pieces were shaped to fit together quickly. When assembled the wall could extend in a single row from two to ten kilometers, although it was usually constructed to form a rectangle. The gulai gorod was designed to provide a fortress for strel'tsy when fighting in open steppe land. The enclosed fortress was three meters wide to allow the internal deployment of not only strel'tsy troops but also small cannon. Ports were cut in the walls for weapons. Smaller fortresses could be erected to provide mobile strong points with interlocking fire or a single gulai gorod could be constructed in a "W" shape to provide mutual fire support. Cavalry were deployed in front and on the flanks. Usually the battle would begin with a cavalry charge designed to hit a decisive blow against the enemy. If this did not immediately defeat the enemy, the cavalry returned to support the flanks while strel'tsy and artillery continued to fire. The decisive blow was then to be the counterattack of a reserve force hidden behind the gulai gorod which would attack from the flanks and rear while fortress artillery fire decimated the enemy from the front. Against steppe opponents such as the Crimean Tatars, armed with little more than bows and arrows, this triple threat of strel'tsy, cavalry and artillery was very effective.(30)

The army was divided into six regiments: the Great Regiment, Advanced Regiment, Vanguard Regiment, Right Wing, Left Wing, and Reconnaissance Regiment. When the tsar himself led the campaign, a special regiment, the Sovereign's Regiment, was organized from court officials and service people in the Moscow area. When the tsar was not present, these personnel were absorbed into the other regiments.(31)

When on the march a column formation was used. Scouts preceded the light cavalry, Reconnaissance Regiment. Behind it were the pososhnye liudi preparing the roads and bridges for the main body. These lead elements could be as much as five days' march in front of the main body column. The Advanced Regiment led the main body. Behind it was the Great Regiment, composed of cavalry and the servitors acting as infantry troops. Flank security was provided by the two wings. The artillery and transport trains followed the Great Regiment and the Vanguard Regiment brought up the rear.

Often the army was divided into two parts. Part of the army traveled by land. The other half, known as the sudovoi troops (from the Russian word for boat), traveled via the extensive water network. The two parts met at an assembly point prior to the attack.

The length of the army column was usually 15 kilometers, although it could extend to 30. To prevent traffic jams caused by the large number of forces, special officers were dispatched to prospective bottlenecks to direct traffic and maintain the preplanned order.(32) Movement was always slow due to the large amount of transport. The average distance traveled per day was 15 versts (one verst was equal to 0.66 miles), although 20 and 30 versts was not unknown.(33)

Security was provided on the march and in camp. One responsibility of the rear unit was to police up stragglers looking for forage or plunder. The Vanguard Regiment also appointed a special guard detachment for convoy security.(34) After finding a camp site with sufficient water, trees, and pasture land, camp security was provided by surrounding the camp with trenches, ditches, and the transport carts.(35)

The march formation transformed into battle order in two options. If the gulai gorod was not present, the army formed in the shape of a St. George's cross. The Great Regiment formed the center with the command headquarters. The two wings provided flank security. Advance pickets scouted the enemy situation while the Advanced Regiment lead the attack, usually by means of a semi-organized charge with much yelling and screaming of war cries to frighten the enemy. The Great Regiment was to administer the crushing blow while the wings protected against enemy cavalry charges. The Vanguard Regiment provided rear security and a reserve.(36) If the gulai gorod was present, it would deploy as previously mentioned.

Weapons qualification in the sixteenth century was extremely simple. Pomeshchiki taught their sons how to use the bow and arrow, axe, and spear before they entered service. Gentry cavalry did not have to demonstrate proficiency with the weapons. The purpose of the periodic reviews was to verify if they had weapons, not that they knew how to use them. It was a bit more complicated with firearms. Artillery and musket skills were taught upon entry into the corps and were tested yearly by the tsar himself.

Each December the artillery and strel'tsy met in a field outside Moscow to perform for the tsar and his nobility. A wall of ice, two feet thick and six feet high and a quarter of a mile long was built. All 5,000 strel'tsy appeared, marching in formation with their guns on their left shoulder and their wicks in their right hands. They alternated standing on a wooden scaffold and firing at the wall of ice until it was flattened. Then it was the artillery's turn. Two houses, filled with dirt marked with white, were positioned down field. The guns fired, from smallest to largest, until the two houses were kindling. Then the tsar departed.36

The total size of the Muscovite army has long been disputed, contemporary foreigners' accounts estimate its size as large as 900,000 men: Chernov argued that during times of danger the country could muster up to 200,000 men if cavalry, infantry, pososhnye liudi, artillery, militia, and Cossacks all were activated.(37) Razin argued that 70,000 was an optimistic number. On campaign 35,000 would be exceptional, while on the average it would be difficult to mobilize more than 20,000.(38) Historians swallow the huge totals for enemy forces, then are forced to accept equal numbers for the Muscovites. Epifanov calmly quotes a total of 120,000 Crimean Tatars at the battle of Molodai and 100,000 Poles laying siege to Pskov.(39)

Part of the confusion lies in the lack of adequate rosters for campaigns. Concrete evidence exists only for 1563, 1577, and 1578. In 1563, the following troops participated:
Sovereign's Regiment 4,824
Great Regiment 2,865
Advanced Regiment 1,866
Right Wing 2,004
Left Wing 2,008
Vanguard Regiment 1,855
Artillery 1,391
Reconnaissance Regiment 1,012
Cossacks 6,054
Tatars 5,174
Urban militia 2,105
Total 30,991 (40)

Figures for 1577 totaled 32,235 (41) and for 1576 39,681.(42) This would indicate armies averaged between 30,000 and 40,000.

Command and control were extremely centralized. At the head was the tsar, advised by his noble council, the Boyar Duma. An infant system of chancelleries, called prikazi, administered the government. Prikazi were both functional and geographical. When an area was initially conquered, a prikaz was established to administer it, i.e. the Kazan Prikaz. But these prikazi were also responsible for raising troops from among Tatars, Cossacks or native tribes within their jurisdiction. The Ambassadorial Prikaz handled diplomatic affairs, but was also responsible for foreign troops and Volga, Don, and Ukrainian Cossacks. The Postal Prikaz handled post houses, but also military communications. One prikaz constructed cannon, another the gunpowder, and another the fortresses in which they were housed. Duties overlapped in an extremely chaotic and inefficient manner.

The army was administered by the Razriad Prikaz, which served also as the Muscovite war ministry and general staff. It managed reviews of the gentry, compiled registers of all fighting men and functioned as a centralized personnel office. It established precedence lists used in ceremonial functions, made wartime command appointments, and appointed military governors (voevodi) for Moscow's 34 fortress cities and regions. In wartime the Razriad Prikaz was the direct agent for planning and controlling operations, calculating the number of forces needed, preparing war plans, and issuing the tsar's mobilization order.(43)

The clerks (d'iaki) of the Razriad Prikaz ran the war from Moscow or through d'iaki who accompanied the army into the field to insure compliance. At the beginning of each campaign the Razriad Prikaz issued an edict which outlined the goal of the campaign, who the enemy was, the march route, the time and place of assembly for all the individual regiments and the assembly point for the army. Simultaneously the prikaz issued the command list designating commanders for regiments, strel'tsy and artillery units.(44) Failure to obey these instructions to the letter could result in death.

Each regiment was commanded by two or more commanders (voevodi). The first voevoda was appointed due to family position and rank. The second and third voevodi were men of ability. Under the voevodi were subcommanders called golovy. Some voevodi assumed specialist duties. A voevoda ertaul'nyi headed the light cavalry and reconnaissance. A voevoda ot nariada was in charge of artillery. The voevoda guliavyi was responsible for the gulai gorod. The third voevoda of the Great Regiment was also first voevoda of artillery. He was in overall command as opposed to the voevoda for operations. He was assisted by two or three d'iaki and a second and third voevoda ot nariada. Lesser nobility, in addition to the voevodi, performed staff functions such as collecting data on the enemy, scouting proposed routes of march and sites for battles, and supervising actual deployment on the march and the battlefield.(45)

Control measures on the battlefield included banners and music. Each regiment had a separate banner with the image of Christ or St. George. Special banners with emotional ties or religious ikons might accompany the army to induce patriotism. For example, during the Kazan campaign Ivan IV brought along the banner carried by Dmitrii Donskoi at the battle of Kulikovo in 1380. The unwrapping of the banner signaled the beginning of the battle or siege. Special voevodi or golovy were entrusted with the defense of the banner.(46) Music was also important. Instruments included trumpets, oboes, percussion instruments, and the zourna-flute. Music was used to issue commands and signals during battle. A special drum, mounted on four horses, was used to communicate at the start of a battle or during smaller skirmishes. Another drum was used daily to signal the mounting and dismounting of horses.(47) Foreigners also have commented on a special little drum attached to the pommel of the saddle which cavalrymen used instead of a lash or spur to make their horses go faster.

To increase morale and reward bravery, a gold metal (zolotoi) was awarded. The earliest mention of the "gold denga" was in 1469, but a century later, Fletcher described its use. "If any behave himself more valiantly than the rest and any special piece of service, the emperor sendeth him a piece of gold stamped with the image of St. George on horseback, which they then hang on their sleeve or set in their caps. And this is accounted the greatest honor they can receive for any service they do."(48) For example, in 1559 a joint Cossack/strel'tsy campaign against the Crimean Tatars at Ochakov resulted in the participants of the battle being awarded the zolotoi.(49) In October 1565 Aleksei and his son, Fedor, were awarded the zolotoi for their defense of Ryazan against 60,000 (sic) Crimean Tatars. Awards also included special gifts. For the conquest of Kazan commanders were awarded fur coats, horses, armor and gold velvet. Special monetary grants from the Treasury might be distributed, sometimes totaling nearly 50,000 rubles for a campaign. Nobles were given new votchinas and additional pomestie estates.(50)

The Muscovite army was hampered, even at times paralyzed, by a unique institution called mestnichestvo, from mesto, meaning place. The idea originally had merit. As the grand princes absorbed new territories and nobles from each new patrimony entered Muscovite military service, the system developed to ensure that no one had to serve under a commander inferior to him in rank and clan. Mestnichestvo was a hierarchical ladder which regulated service relationships in military, administrative, and court positions. "An individual's place on the ladder, in theory, at least, was defined in terms of both genealogical and service elements. The standing of his clan and his own position within it played a role, as did the service career of the person himself and his ancestors."(51) The position of a servitor in comparison to others was calculated both according to his standing within his own clan and other clans, determined on the basis of the service registers for state and army officials and other documents.(52) What this meant in a nutshell is that you could not be forced to serve under any officer who was inferior to you in social standing. If a member of your family had commanded his ancestor, in theory you could not be forced to serve under him.

Mestnichestvo disputes paralyzed the army, or at least kept officials very busy arbitrating disputes. A sample dispute arose over July 1578 appointments for the army stationed at Polcheva, Livonia. The original appointment is as follows:
Great Regiment: Pr. I. Iu. Bulgakov
Pr. V. A. Sitskii
Advanced Regiment: F. V. Sheremetev
Pr. A. Dm. Paletskii
Vanguard Regiment: Pr. P. I. Tatev
Pr. P. I. Khvorostinin

Once the lists was released the paperwork began to fly. Pr. Paletskii complained about service as second voevoda of the Advanced Regiment while Sitskii was second voevoda of the Great Regiment. Pr. Sitskii protested about service as second voevoda of the Great Regiment while F. Sheremetev was first voevoda of the Advanced Regiment and Pr. Tatev was first voevoda of the Vanguard Regiment. Pr. Tatev protested against this appointment to the Vanguard Regiment while Sheremetev was first voevoda of the Advanced Regiment. In the end, all the disputes were refused, but the confusion held up military operations and increased the discord among the officers in the unit.(53)

The tsar attempted to mute mestnichestvo by issuing a decree in 1550 which prohibited the system within the army while on campaign and declared such campaigns "bez mest" (without place) which meant any dissatisfactory assignments could not damage the social standing of you or your clan. Generally the tsar would declare a campaign bez mest before the list was issued to avert controversies. However, the volume of petitions indicates that voevodi complained regardless.

The southern defense line, known as the zasechnaya cherta, was an extensive system of fortifications dating to the twelfth century.(54) The first line of fortresses, connected by abatii, ramparts, stockades, and ditches, stretched from Kozel'sk to Nizhni Novgorod.(55) During the reign of Ivan IV this line was strengthened by constructing a second line from Putivl' to Alatyr on the Sura River. At the end of the century a third network of three more lines was added.(56) The purpose of this system was to provide early warning of enemy attack and a series of strong points from which to repel the enemy until reinforcements arrived. Regular patrols departed the line at intervals to further note the enemy's approach. The entire network was administered by the Razriad Prikaz until 1577 when a short-lived Zasechnyi Prikaz was founded. Three years later it was abolished and the system was put under the Artillery Prikaz.(57) Maintenance of the system was financed by a special tax on the population called the zasechnye den'gi.(58)
Muscovy was able to support the war effort with a domestic munitions industry and technical assistance from foreign advisers. Italian artisans, specialists in Renaissance fortification, first came to Russia during the reign of Ivan III (1462-1505). By 1485 Russia was producing bronze cannon.(59) Gunpowder and iron industries founded by the state to support armaments production grew to great size. For example, there is an account of a terrible explosion in a powder works near Moscow in 1531 which is said to have killed more than 200 workers.(60)
Although there were numerous complaints (not necessarily unfounded) that England was sending war supplies to Muscovy during the Livonian War, the fact remains that domestic Russian production was more than sufficient to support the military. This abundance is noted by Reinhold Heidenstein who witnessed the Polish conquest of Velizh in 1580. "Provisions, forage, gunpowder, and ammunition were found in such quantities that not only did they suffice for all our troops, but enough remained for the whole garrison."(61)

Medical facilities within Muscovy were virtually nonexistent. No established medical system existed and treatment was based on folk remedies, herbal cures, or magic. Ambrogio Contarini, Venetian ambassador to Persia, transversed Russia. He treated a local sailor's abscessed tooth with "a little oil, bread, and flour" and "in three days, by good fortune, the abscess broke and he was cured."(62) Antonio Possevino, a Jesuit emissary of Pope Gregory XIII, advised future envoys to bring along their own doctors, for, "nowhere is that enormous expanse of Muscovite territory can one receive medical attention except at the court of the Grand Prince himself and he, as I have said, will not permit his doctors to visit even those who are dying."(63) Home remedies prescribed fungi or extracts made from them to treat wounds. Shell fungi were used as a poultice. Fly agaric and false hellebore were common for anti-mosquito and anti-lice, respectively.(64) In general, however, one survived through blind luck. In a society in which service was for life, mutilation, serious wounds and death were the only grounds for retirement.

The chronicles blithely state that Muscovite soldiers were to appear at muster with retainers, horses, weapons, and sufficient provisions to feed them all while on campaign. Before the advent of tin cans, powdered eggs, and spam, it is important not to take this all for granted. A 120-pound man carrying a moderate load for eight hours needs 3,400 calories, 70 grams of protein, and two quarts of water a day simply to avoid malnutrition, much less to maintain peak fighting stamina.(65) If 25,000 gentry in a campaign bring two horses apiece, we are talking about forage and sufficient pasturage for 50,000 animals a day.

The problem of feeding animals was met in a variety of ways. Regiments of ten traveled individually to a central assembly point so as not to overuse grasslands. Supplies could be purchased from local peasants and in some areas the government stockpiled supplies of grain. Because invasion routes were used over and over again, those providing the best forage were well known.

The Russian diet centered around rye, barley, oats, and buckwheat. A variety of wild berries was abundant throughout the forested regions of Russia, to include cranberries, currants, wild strawberries and bog whortleberries. Dried fungi, such as mushrooms, found in the woods, were an excellent source of nutrition, containing up to 73% protein. The Russian diet favored fish over meat, especially sturgeon, salmon, herring, flounder, and cod, which could easily be dried.(66)

Foreign travelers mention a variety of rations comparable to those eaten on campaign. Contarini was fed a dish called thur made from rice mixed with milk which was dried in the sun. He also feasted on wheat flour biscuits and salted sheep's tail.(67) During negotiations to end the Livonian War, Possevino saw the Muscovite envoys arrive with a party of 300 people. "To reduce expenses they brought in supplies from Novgorod, some 200 miles away, which included food already cooked and preserved by the cold."(68) Fletcher noted that every man brought sufficient goods for four months, and "if need require, to give order for more to be brought unto him to the camp from his tenant that tilleth his land or some other place."(69) He continued, "They bring with them commonly into the camp for victual a kind of dried bread (which they call sukhar') with some store of meal which they temper with water and so make it into a ball or small lump of dough called tolokno. And this they eat raw instead of bread. Their meat is bacon or some other flesh or fish dried after the Dutch manner."(70) An English sea captain, Stephen Burrough, outfitted in 1556 by Russian fishermen was presented with "six ringes of bread which they call colache, four dried pykes, and a packe of oatmeal....acquavitae and meade."(71)
The extensive baggage trains run by the pososhnye liudi could also carry food supplies as well as gunpowder and ammunition. Fortresses sometimes stockpiled supplies at traditional jump-off sites on invasion routes. When river routes were used, boats could also transport food supplies. The forests provided wild game, honey, fruit and nuts. However, during campaign the bulk of the troops subsisted on starches which provided calories, but no nutrition.

The fortitude of the Russian soldier and his ability to absorb pain and persevere under conditions of extreme severity are well documented. Richard Chancellor, an Elizabethan sea captain, observed, "When the ground is covered with the frost, this Russe hangs up his mantle, or soldier's coat, against that part from whence the wind and snow drives, and so, making a little fire, lieth down with his back towards the weather; this mantle of his serves him for his bed, wall, house and all....The hard ground is his featherbed and some block or stone his pillow."(72) Possevino praised the Russians' "stubborn endurance and dedication". "When one soldier is killed...another takes his place. No one spares his energy or his life. The Polish king told me that he had found Muscovite soldiers in Livonian fortresses who had subsisted on a diet of water and oat dust. Most were dead, but those who had managed to survive, although scarcely breathing, were still fearful that their surrender would constitute a betrayal of their oath to serve their Prince to the death."(73)

Many observers, however, were quick to comment that Russians fought better in the defense and did not oppose the enemy vigorously on the regular field of battle. Fletcher remarked, "If the Russe soldier were as hardy to execute an enterprise as he is hard to bear out toil and travail, or were otherwise so apt and well trained for wars as he is indifferent for his lodging and diet, he would far excel the soldiers of our parts."(74) The Russian would fight to the death in the defense, but his conduct on an open plain was less commendable. "For the Russe soldier, if he begin once to retire, putteth all his safety in his speedy flight. And if once he be taken by the enemy, he neither defendeth himself nor entreateth for his life, as reckoning straight to death."(75) Of course, this is understandable if one recalls Ivan's execution of returned prisoners of war during the 157Os.

One Muscovite tradition which resurfaced in World War I with the battalion of Death and in World War II with the "Night Witchs" was the participation of Russian women in battle. An anonymous 16th century saga chronicled the successful 1581 defense of Pskov against the forces of the Polish king, Stephen Bathory.

Even before, at the beginning of the assault, some strong, young women had been fighting against the enemy with arms. Now all, the young, the strong, and the weak, were running with ropes to pull the artillery pieces left by the enemy into the city. All of them rushed to the breach....Some of them....fought with masculine courage against the Polish and Lithuanian forces....Men and women hurled themselves against the remaining enemy troops in the tower, fighting with all the arms given to them by God. Some (women) shot muskets while others were trying to smoke out the enemy from their hiding places. Others threw rocks....while still others poured boiling water upon (the enemy).(76)

In the end, the Muscovite army not only failed to achieve the government's political aims, but proved incapable of protecting the state from foreign invasion. Twenty years after Ivan's death a Pole would sit on the throne in Moscow. What weaknesses caused the ultimate failure of the Muscovite army?

The command structure was over centralized. The Razriad Prikaz did not just advise military commanders, it laid down the law. Representatives of the Razriad directly oversaw all aspects of mobilization and stymied the field commanders on campaign. By ensuring punctilious obedience to the chancellery's operational plans they deprived the military any chance to show real initiative.(77) The mestnichestvo system ensured that commanders had blue blood, but not brains. Bureaucrats, as well as commanders, were selected by family background rather than education, skill, or merit.

The bravery of the Russian soldier and his ability to endure suffering is admirable. Much of his suffering, however, appears self-induced. Inadequate training, poor discipline, and a primitive logistics system created much of that hardship.

These weaknesses were compounded by the civil strife generated by Ivan's struggle with internal enemies. Economic crises from the 156Os to 158Os ruined the country financially. The flight of peasants from the center of Muscovy caused such a manpower shortage that serfdom emerged as the solution.

B. H. Liddell Hart once remarked, "The nature of armies is determined by the nature of the civilization in which they exist." Perhaps they also reflect the men who create them. Ivan IV molded the 16th century Muscovite army and he eventually destroyed it.

ENDNOTES


1. E. A. Razin, Istoriia Voennogo Iskusstva (Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1961), II, pp. 303-5.
2. George Gush, Renaissance Armies 1480-1650 (Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stevens Press, 1975), p. 11.
3. P. P. Epifanov, "Oruzhie i snariazhenie", Ocherki russkoi kul'tury XVI veke (Moscow, 1976), p. 296.
4. Ibid., pp. 296-7.
5. E. D. Morgan and C. H. Coote, eds., Early Voyages and Travels to Russia and Persia, 2 vols. (London: Hakluyt Society, 1886), p. 57.
6. Lloyd Berry and Robert Crummey, eds., Rude and Barbarous Kingdom. Russia in the Accounts of Sixteenth Century English Voyagers (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), pp. 183-4.
7. A. Baiov, Kurs istorii russkago voennogo iskusstva (St. Petersburg, 1909), p. 81.
8. Heinrich von Staden, Land and Government of Muscovy, ed. by Thomas Esper (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1967), pp. 38-9.
9. M. M. Denisova, "Pomestnaia k nnitsa i ee vooruzhenie v XVI-XVII vv", Trudy Gosudarstvennogo Muzeia, Voenno-istoricheskii Sbornik, vol. 20 (1948), p. 33.
10. Ibid.
11. S. K. Bogoiavlenskii, "Vooruzhenie russkikh voisk v XVI-XVII vv", Istoricheskie zapiski, vol. 3-4 (1938), p. 264.
12. Denisova, op. cit. p. 29.
13. A. V. Chernov, Vooruzhennye sily russkogo gosudarstva v XV-XVII vv. (Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1954), p. 48.
14. Ibid., p. 82.
15. Bogoiavlenskii, p. 267.
16. Berry and Crummey, p. 184.
17. S. L. Margolin, "Vooruzhenii strelatskogo voiska", Trudy Gosudarstvennogo istoricheskago muzei, vol 20 (1948), p. 98.
18. Epifanov, p. 346.
19. Razin, II, p. 332.
2O. Thomas Esper, "Military Self-sufficiency and Weapons Technology in Muscovite Russia", Slavic Review, vol. 28, no. 2 (June, 1969), pp. 193-4.
21. Richard Hellie, Enserfment and Military Change in Muscovy (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 163.
22. Baiov, p. 76
23. Ibid., p. 68.
24. Razin, II, p. 346.
25. Chernov, p. 101.
26. Razin, II, p. 345.
27. John Sloan, "Evolution of the Russian Army: The 16th Century", Gorget and Sash, vol. i, no. 1 (October, 1980), p. 32.
28. Epifanov, pp. 36O-1.
29. Chernov, pp. 93-4.
3O. Razin, II, pp. 337-50.
31. Chernov, pp. 33-4.
32. Epifanov, p. 360.
33. Baiov, p. 81.
34. Epifanov, p. 369.
35. Baiov, pp. 81-2.
36. Hakluyt Society, Early Voyages and Travels to Russia and Persia, 2 vols. (London: Hakluyt Society, 1886), LXXIII, pp. 36O-1.
37. Chernov, p. 33.
38. Razin, II, p. 343.
39. Epifanov, p. 342.
4O. S. M. Seredonin', Sochinenie Dzil'sa Fletchera "Of the Russe Commonwealth" kak istoricheskii istochnik (St. Petersburg, 1891), pp. 336-8.
41. Ibid., p. 338.
42. Razin, II, p. 374.
43. David Jones, ed., Military-Naval Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1978), vol I, pp. 61-2.
44. Razin, II, pp. 339.
45. Jones, pp. 55-6.
46. Epifanov, p. 311.
47. Ibid., pp. 3l3-4.
48. Berry and Crummey, p. 352.
49. Epifanov, p. 352.
5O. Ibid., pp. 3l2-3.
5l. Ann Kleimola, "Up Through Servitude: The Changing Condition of the Muscovite Elite in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries", Russian History, vol. 6, pt. 2 (1979), p. 484.
52. Ibid.
53. V. I. Buganov, Razriadnaia Kniga 1475_l598 (Moscow, 1965), pp. 286-7.
54. Bol'shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia (Moscow, 1952), vol. 16, pp. 48O-1.
55. Razin, II, pp. 307-8.
56. Ibid., pp. 342-3.
57. Hellie, p. 175.
58. Jones, pp. 48O-1.
59. A. N. Kirpichnikov, Voennoe delo na Rusi v XIII-XV vv. (Leningrad, 1976), p. 76.
60. Joseph Fuhrman, The Origins of Capitalism in Russia. Industry and Progress in the l6th and 17th Centuries (Chicago, Illinois: Quadrangle Books, 1972), p. 47.
6l. R. Wipper, Ivan the Terrible (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947), p. 208.
62. Joseph Barbaro and Ambrogio Contarini, Travels to Tana and Persia (London: Hakluyt Society, 1873), p. 147.
63. Antonio Possevino, The Moscovia, trans. and edited by Hugh F. Graham (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburg Press, 1977), p. 37.
64. R. E. F. Smith, Peasant farming in Muscovy (Cambridge, UK: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 77-80.
65. Donald Engels, Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 18, 123.
66. Smith, pp. 33-5, 57-63.
67. Contarini, pp. 151-2.
68. Possevino, p. 20.
69. Berry and Crummey, p. 184.
7O. Ibid.
7l. A. F. Meyendorff, "Anglo-Russian trade in the l6th century Slavonic Review, vol. 25 (1946-7) pp. 113.
72. Berry and Crummey, p. 28.
73. Possevino, pp. 7-8.
74. Berry and Crummey, p. l84.
75. Ibid.
76. V. I. Malyshev, ed., Povest o prikhozhdenii Stefana Batoriia na grad Pskov, trans. and edited by S. Zenkovsky, in Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles and Tales, lst. ed. (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1963), pp. 287-8.
77. Jones, p. 62.

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Buganov, V. I. Razriadnaia Kniga 1475-l598. Moscow, 1965.
Hakluyt Society. Early Voyages and Travels to Russia and Persia. 2 vols. London: Hakluyt Society, 1886. Vol. LXXIII.
Malyshev, V. I., Povest o prikhozhdenii Stefana Batoriia na grad Pskov. trans. and edited by S. Zenkovsky in Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales. 1st edition. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1963.
Morgan, E. D. and Coote, C. H., eds. Early Voyages and Travels to Russia and Persia. 2 vols. London: Hakluyt Society, 1886.
Possevino, Antonio. The Moscovia. trans. and edited by Hugh Graham. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977.
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Chernov, A. V. Vooruzhennye sily russkogo gosudarstva v XVXVII vv. Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1954.
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Fuhrman, Joseph. The Origins of Capitalism in Russia. Industry and Progress in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Chicago, Illinois: Quadrangle Books, 1972.
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Smith, R. E. P. Peasant farming in Muscovy. Cambridge, UK: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Wipper, R. Ivan the Terrible. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947.

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Bogoiavlenskii, S. K. "Vooruzhenie russkikh voisk v XVI XVII vv", Istoricheskie zapiski, 3-4 (1938), pp. 258-83.
Denisova, M. M. "Pomestnaia konnitsa i ee vooruzhenie v XVI-XVII vv", Trudy Gosudarstvennogo Muzeia Voenno-istoricheskii Sbornik, 20 (1948), pp. 29-46.
Epifanov, P. P. "Oruzhie i snariazhenie", Ocherki russkoi kul'tury XVI veke. Moscow, 1976.
Esper, Thomas. "Military Self-sufficiency and Weapons Technology in Muscovite Russia", Slavic Review, 28, no. 2 (June, 1969), pp. 185-208.
Kleimola, Ann. "Up Through Servitude: The Changing Condition of the Muscovite Elite in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries", Russian History, 6, part 2 (1979), pp. 210-29.
Margolin, S. L. "Vooruzhenii strelatskogo voiska", Trudy Gosudarstvennogo istoricheskago muzei, 20 (1948), pp. 85-102.
Meyendorff, A. F. "Anglo-Russian trade in the l6th century", Slavonic Review, 25 (1946/7), pp. 109-21.
Sloan, John. "Evolution of the Russian Army: The l6th Century", Gorget and Sash, I, no. 1 (October, 1980), pp. 26-33.
1. E. A. Razin, Istoriia Voennogo Iskusstva (Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1961), II, pp. 303-5.
2. George Gush, Renaissance Armies 1480-1650 (Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stevens Press, 1975), p. 11.
3. P. P. Epifanov, "Oruzhie i snariazhenie", Ocherki russkoi kul'tury XVI veke (Moscow, 1976), p. 296.
4. Ibid., pp. 296-7.
5. E. D. Morgan and C. H. Coote, eds., Early Voyages and Travels to Russia and Persia, 2 vols. (London: Hakluyt Society, 1886), p. 57.
6. Lloyd Berry and Robert Crummey, eds., Rude and Barbarous Kingdom. Russia in the Accounts of Sixteenth Century English Voyagers (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), pp. 183-4.
7. A. Baiov, Kurs istorii russkago voennogo iskusstva (St. Petersburg, 1909), p. 81.
8. Heinrich von Staden, Land and Government of Muscovy, ed. by Thomas Esper (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1967), pp. 38-9.
9. M. M. Denisova, "Pomestnaia k nnitsa i ee vooruzhenie v XVI-XVII vv", Trudy Gosudarstvennogo Muzeia, Voenno-istoricheskii Sbornik, vol. 20 (1948), p. 33.
10. Ibid.
11. S. K. Bogoiavlenskii, "Vooruzhenie russkikh voisk v XVI-XVII vv", Istoricheskie zapiski, vol. 3-4 (1938), p. 264.
12. Denisova, op. cit. p. 29.
13. A. V. Chernov, Vooruzhennye sily russkogo gosudarstva v XV-XVII vv. (Moscow: Ministry of Defense, 1954), p. 48.
14. Ibid., p. 82.
15. Bogoiavlenskii, p. 267.
16. Berry and Crummey, p. 184.
17. S. L. Margolin, "Vooruzhenii strelatskogo voiska", Trudy Gosudarstvennogo istoricheskago muzei, vol 20 (1948), p. 98.
18. Epifanov, p. 346.
19. Razin, II, p. 332.
20. Thomas Esper, "Military Self-sufficiency and Weapons Technology in Muscovite Russia", Slavic Review, vol. 28, no. 2 (June, 1969), pp. 193-4.
21. Richard Hellie, Enserfment and Military Change in Muscovy (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 163.
22. Baiov, p. 76
23. Ibid., p. 68.
24. Razin, II, p. 346.
25. Chernov, p. 101.
26. Razin, II, p. 345.
27. John Sloan, "Evolution of the Russian Army: The 16th Century", Gorget and Sash, vol. i, no. 1 (October, 1980), p. 32.
28. Epifanov, pp. 36O-1.
29. Chernov, pp. 93-4.
30. Razin, II, pp. 337-50.
31. Chernov, pp. 33-4.
32. Epifanov, p. 360.
33. Baiov, p. 81.
34. Epifanov, p. 369.
35. Baiov, pp. 81-2.
36. Hakluyt Society, Early Voyages and Travels to Russia and Persia, 2 vols. (London: Hakluyt Society, 1886), LXXIII, pp. 36O-1.
37. Chernov, p. 33.
38. Razin, II, p. 343.
39. Epifanov, p. 342.
40. S. M. Seredonin', Sochinenie Dzil'sa Fletchera "Of the Russe Commonwealth" kak istoricheskii istochnik (St. Petersburg, 1891), pp. 336-8.
41. Ibid., p. 338.
42. Razin, II, p. 374.
43. David Jones, ed., Military-Naval Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1978), vol I, pp. 61-2.
44. Razin, II, pp. 339.
45. Jones, pp. 55-6.
46. Epifanov, p. 311.
47. Ibid., pp. 3l3-4.
48. Berry and Crummey, p. 352.
49. Epifanov, p. 352.
50. Ibid., pp. 3l2-3.
51. Ann Kleimola, "Up Through Servitude: The Changing Condition of the Muscovite Elite in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries", Russian History, vol. 6, pt. 2 (1979), p. 484.
52. Ibid.
53. V. I. Buganov, Razriadnaia Kniga 1475_l598 (Moscow, 1965), pp. 286-7.
54. Bol'shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia (Moscow, 1952), vol. 16, pp. 48O-1.
55. Razin, II, pp. 307-8.
56. Ibid., pp. 342-3.
57. Hellie, p. 175.
58. Jones, pp. 48O-1.
59. A. N. Kirpichnikov, Voennoe delo na Rusi v XIII-XV vv. (Leningrad, 1976), p. 76.
60. 60
61. R. Wipper, Ivan the Terrible (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947), p. 208.
62. Joseph Barbaro and Ambrogio Contarini, Travels to Tana and Persia (London: Hakluyt Society, 1873), p. 147.
63. Antonio Possevino, The Moscovia, trans. and edited by Hugh F. Graham (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburg Press, 1977), p. 37.
64. R. E. F. Smith, Peasant farming in Muscovy (Cambridge, UK: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 77-80.
65. Donald Engels, Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 18, 123.
66. Smith, pp. 33-5, 57-63.
67. Contarini, pp. l5l-2.
68. Possevino, p. 20.
69. Berry and Crummey, p. 184.
70. Ibid.
71. A. F. Meyendorff, "Anglo-Russian trade in the l6th century Slavonic Review, vol. 25 (1946-7) pp. 113.
72. Berry and Crummey, p. 28.
73. Possevino, pp. 7-8.
74. Berry and Crummey, p. l84.
75. Ibid.
76. V. I. Malyshev, ed., Povest o prikhozhdenii Stefana Batoriia na grad Pskov, trans. and edited by S. Zenkovsky, in Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles and Tales, lst. ed. (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1963), pp. 287-8.
77. Jones, p. 62.

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