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RUSSIA - CHRONOLOGY - 858 - 1604


Rurik takes area around Kiev from previous Magyar-Khazar rulers


First Rus' attack on Byzantine Constantinople


Rus' raids against Islamic areas arond Caspian Sea


Rus' possibly take control of Kiev


Rus' campaigns against Byzantine Empire and Islamic World


Khagan Igor of Rus' takes control of Kiev


Rus' devastate Khazar capital at Itil and raid Islamic areas, win access to Black Sea and attack Volga Bulgars


Vladimir Sviatoslavich becomes Prince of Kiev, crushes Slav risings


Prince Vladimir converts Rus' to Orthodox Christianity

  990 -1015

Intermittent warfare between Rus'and Pechenegs


Civil wars between princes for throne of Kiev


Novgorod sends expedition to 'Iron Gates' in the far northeast - beyond Pechora river.


Treaty between Rus' and Poland - war between Rus' and Byzantium


First appearance of Kipchaks on western steppes


Kipchaks raid Rus' territory


Prince Vladimir Monomach of Peryeaslavl is first to employ Chernye Klobuki auxiliaries against fellow princes.


Disappearance of military expedition to the Ob River.


Conference of princes at Liubech regularizes system of inheritance of principalities and throne at Kiev.


Rus' defeat Kipchaks and destroy Kipchak tribes in northeren Donets.


Rus' attack Volga Bulgars.


Rus' civil war.


Novgorod accepts no further rulers appointed by Kiev.


Minor conflicts betwean Novgorod and Yaroslavl;-Suzdal

  1160 Russians campaign against Bulgars in Volga valley region  
  1164 Russians under Prince of Vladimir campaign against Bulgars again  

Saxons and Danes subjugate Abotrites


Valdemar I of Denmark conquers Rugen Island .
Prince of Vladimir sacks Kiev


Pope Alexander III authorises crusade in east Baltic area.
Kipchaks united under Konchak Khan

  1172 Russian campaign against Bulgars  
  1183 Russian campaign along Volga against Bulgars and against Kipchaks and Mordvians  

Canute VI of Denmark conquers Pomeranian Slavs.
Prince Igor of Novgorod-Severski atacks Kipchaks and is defeated (told in the Prince Igor epic)

  1186 Russian campaign against Bulgars  

Estonians raid Uppsala, Sweden


Novgorod sends army to punish Pechora and Ugrians but it is wiped out.


Pope Innocent III authorizes Livonian crusade


Again civil war for throne of Grand Duke at Kyiv.


Bishop Albert creates bishiporic at Riga and the Order of Sword Brothers


Bishop Albert and crusaders conquer Livs and Letts


German garrison defeates river fleet sent to reestablish Rus' hegemony over Lett and Liv tribes


Pope Innocent III consecrates Christian bishop for Prussians


Again civil war between Rus' princes=battle of Lipitsa


Suzdal attacks Volga Bulgars,
Prince Mistislav of Novgorod retakes Galich from Hungarians with help of Kipchaks under Koten Khan.


Valdemar II founds Reval and begins conquest of northern Estonia

  1223 Battle of Kalka River - Mongol reconnaissance army defeats combined armies of Russian princes  

Crusaders under Bishop Hermann conquer Estonian town of Tartu


Frederick II grants Prussia to the Teutonic Order


Jaunary Crusaders seize Osel Island, ending first phase of Crusader conquest of Livonia.
Danes defeatred at Bornhoved,
Collapse of Danish Baltic Empire.
Russia mission to convert pagan Karelians

  1229 Batu reaches Ural river where he defeats Bulgars  

Pope Gregory IX authorizes Teutonic Order to conquer Prussians


Teutonic Knights and crusaders conquer western Prussia


Mongol leaders under Khan Ugedey hold kuriltay to plan conquest of world and decided on four simultaneous campaigns: against Korea, against Sung South China, against Iraq, Syria, and Transcaucasia, and against Europe.


Batu and Subudey lead Mongol army against Volga Bolgars. Mongka leads another army against Cumans.


Lithuanians annihilate Sword Brothers and Crusaders at Siaulai (Saule)


Bolgar capital is destroyed by Mongols.
Allied Crusader and Russian army defeated by Lithuanians.
Begining of Novgorod Cruisade


Batu destroys Riazan.

  1238 Jan

Moscow burned.

  1238 Feb 8

Vladimir destroyed after 6 day siege.

  1238 March 4

When the Mongol army approached Vladimir, Yuri II left his family in the city and went north, toward Novgorod, to assemble an army from the contingents of as many towns as possible. Subudey and Burundai surprised and surrounded the main Russian army near the Sit River north of the Volga. The Russians were destroyed, Yuri II Vsevolodovich, the Grand Prince of Vladimir, and many other nobles, were killed in battle.

  1238 Summer and Fall

Mongols turn back when within a few miles of Novgorod.
Mongols reorganize and requip in Ukraine with fresh horses from (now) Kazakhstan.
Sword Brothers abolished and their lands divided between Teuronic Knights and Danes.
Treaty of Stensby settles issues between Danes, Teuronic Knights and Livonian bishops


Mongka leads Mongol detachment to conquer Alans and Circassians in north Caucasus area. Batu completes subjugation of Cumans except for 40,000 who flee to Hungary.

  1240 -July

Swedes under Earl Birger attempt to block Novgorod's access to sea at Neva River and on 12 July are defeated by Alexander (Nevski), nephew of the deceased Yuri II.


Livonian Knights move to capture Pskov but their allies in the Teutonic Order are diverted by call from duke of Silesia to aid Poland.


Mongols destroy Pereiaslav, Chernigov (July), and then Kiev (December 6).

  1241 - April 9

Mongol advance guard destroys combined German-Polish army at Lehnica near Liegnitz in Silesia on 9 April. April 11 Mongol main army under Batu and Subudey defeat Hungarians at junction of Tisa and Szajo Rivers, battle of Mohi. Northwestern Mongol army turns south from Silesia to move rapidly through Bohemia and Moravia. Bohemian king Vaclav wins minor skirmish over one Mongol band near Kladsko, but they are in a hurry to reach Hungary and don't take time to bother with Bohemians.


Hungarian King Béla rallies support in Croatia. Emperor Frederick II, Pope Gregory IX, and various western rulers all issue appeals to each other to move against the Mongols, but no one makes a move.


Livonian Knights with support from remaining Teutonic Order begin campaign against Novgorod and capture Pskov on 15 September.
Crusaders capture Koporye in winter 1240-41. Alexander Nevski retakes it in fall. But Crisaders tapture Izborsk.

  1241 - Dec.

Mongols cross frozen Danube and invade Croatia to capture Zagreb and overrun Dalmatian coast.
Another Mongol detachment reaches Klosterneuburg near Vienna. Batu prepares campaign into Austria and Central Europe.

  1241 - Dec 11

Khan Ugedey dies in Mongolia.


On 5 March Alexander retakes Pskov. Livonian and Teutonic Knights march against Novgorod and are defeated by Alexander Nevski on frozen Lake Peipus (Chud) on April 5, 1242.
Prussians revolt (1242-49) against Teutonic Knights.
Batu receives news of death of Ugedey and turns army around to return east. Europe saved from Mongol offensive.


Grand Prince Yaroslav I of Vladimir goes to Batu's ordu to be confirmed in office as chief prince of Russia.


Estonian uprising against Danes.


Egyptian sultan encourages Khorexmians defeated by Mongols to move to Iraq and Syria and in July they capture Jerusalem.


Prince Daniel of Galicia and Vasilko of Volynia defeat Prince Rostislav of Chernigov (despite his support by Poles and Hungarians.) Daniel goes to Batu's ordu to be confirmed and avoid Batu's sending a Mongol lieutenant directly to Galicia. Daniel is confirmed. Michael of Chernigov also goes to see Batu, but refuses to kowtow and is executed. This strengthens Daniel.


Pope Innocent IV preaches seventh Crusade at council of Lyon, King Louis IX of France takes leadership of crusade.



Kuriltay elects Guyuk as new Great Khan. Yaroslav I, Grand prince of Vladimir; Seljuk sultan Kilij-Arslan IV; David V, King of Georgia, are among the attendees along with envoy of Pope Innocent.



Daniel reorganizes Galician army along Mongol lines and equips it with Mongol arms and armor.



After Yaroslav dies in Mongolia his sons, Alexander and Andrew journey to Karakorum to pledge alliegance to Great Khan. Alexander is appointed Prince of Kiev and Andrew is appointed Grand Prince of Vladimir.



Khan Guyuk decides to concentrate Mongol efforts against Egypt in cooperation with Christians in Palestine.



Batu and Guyuk move toward each other for meeting with unknown possible consequences.



Khan Guyuk dies and preparations for campaign in Near East are put on hold for new orders.



Rus' princes again conduct civil war for throne now of Vladimir.
Andrei is confirmed in possiession of Vladimir by Mongol Great Khan but then formes an anti-Mongol alliance with Daniel of Volhynia-Galich.



Andrew returns to Vladimir and Alexander goes to Novgorod. Birger Jarl conquers middle Finland for Swedes.



Mameluks (who are largely Kypchaks from Black Sea Steppe) sieze control of Egypt



Lithuanian tribes under strong princes (Mendovg) with their retinues begin offensive movement to south and east into Ukraine and Russia. They gain control of Grodno, Volkovysk, Slonim, Polotsk, and Vitebsk. In the process the Lithuanians absorb Russian military skills and culture.



King Louis, tired of waiting for Mongols, invades Egypt and is defeated and captured.


1251 - July 1

Batu and Mongka ally their forces to proclaim Mongka as Great Khan over wishes of decendents of Jagatay and Ugedey. Batu's son, Sartak, becomes Christian and is placed in charge of Russian affairs.



Daniel of Galicia marries daughter of Mendovg of Lithuania as one of a series of dynastic marriages and attempts to acquire ally against Mongols.



Alexander goes again to Sarai for confirmation by Batu, but Andrew refuses to go. Sartak leads Mongol army to Vladimir and defeats Andrew near Pereiaslavl-in-Suzdalia then devastates region. Andrew flees to Novgorod and then to Sweden to evade Mongol pursuit. Sartak gives yarlik for Vladimir to Alexander.



Mongka orders new census and conscription throughout empire in support of campaign in China. This increases Mongol pressure in Russia. Alexander becomes Veliki Knez under Mongol overlordship



Mongka's brother, Hulagu, assembles Mongol army in Mongolia for campaign in Near East.



Mongol campaign against China renewed under command of Kubilay, another brother of Mongka.



Conquest of Samland.


1255 -

Batu dies and is suceeded by Sartak.


1255 - September

Hulagu reaches Samarkand



Sartak dies (poison?), is succeeded by his brother, Ulagchi, Ulagchi called all Russian princes to Sarai, confirmed their yarlaks and ordered the new census and conscription to proceed.



Daniel of Galicia begins to defy Mongols by driving their troops out of Podolia and Volynia. Mongols are busy in northern Russia and conduct only small, local punitive raids before withdrawing into steppe.


1256 - January

Hulagu crosses Amu Daria River and reinforcements from Khanate of Kypchak strengthen his army further.



Mongol armies destroy many Assassin castles in Persia.



Mongol officials arrive in Riazan and Murom and Vladimir to conduct census. New Mongol administrative apparatus established to control over Russian princes. Vladimir area aquiesses, but Novgorod tries to reject Mongols.



Mongol armies reach Tongking south of China.



Aexander Nevsky and Andrew go with Mongol officials to Novgorod to impress on people the futility of resistance. Nevertheless Novgorodians started riot and Alexander had to use Vladimir troops to protect Mongol officials and suppress riot. The census proceeded and Novgorod citizens were conscripted into Mongol army for duty in China. Novgorod avoided stationing of permanent Mongol officials.



Mendovg changes policy of alliance with Daniel and arrests Daniel's son, Roman, leaving Daniel without an ally against the Mongols.



Ulagchi dies and then Batu's brother, Berke a Moslem convert, assumes Khanate of Kypchak. Berke supports close relations with Moslem Mamlukes in Egypt against his cousin, Hulagu. Berke shifts Mongol attention from northern Russia to Middle East and western Russia.


1258 - February

Hulagu sacks Bagdad executing last of the Abbasid Caliphs. Contingents sent by Ulagchi participate. Mongols reorganize and rest in preparation for campaign against Egypt.



Hulagu prepares to invade Syria.



Mongka dies of dysentery contracted while supervising operations in China. Kubilay concludes truce with Sungs and prepares to contest the Mongol succession. Hulagu returns to Mongolia leaving small army consisting of a single Turkish division with Mongol officers under command of the Nestorian Christian general, Kit-Buka.



Berke replaces Mongol general (Kurumshi) in Podolia with new and more active commander (Burunday) with orders to suppress Daniel's independence and the Lithuanian expansion. Burunday orders Daniel and Russian princes to support his initial campaign against Lithuanians. Combined Mongol-Russian army raids Lithuania and seizes booty, but Lithuanian army avoids battle.

  1259 Victory of Samogites over Teutonic knights in Kurland  


Burunday leads Mongol army into Volynia and orders Russian princes to destroy their own town fortifications. Daniel flees to Poland, Russians comply by destroying fortifications. Mongol's establish tax and conscription districts throughout region under supervision of their own officials. Burunday then withdraws Mongol army back to Dnieper steppe.


1260 - January to March

Mongols capture Aleppo and Damascus



Kubilay proclaimed Great Khan by his own kuriltay in opposition to his brother, Arik-Buka.


1260 - September 3

"Egyptian" Mameluk army of Kypchak and other Turks defeats "Mongol" army of Kypchak and other Turks in Palestine.



Southern Letts and Prussians revolt and are then subjugated.

  1260 Victory of Samogites over Teutonioc knights at Durban  


Latin Empire at Constantinople replaced by new Byzantine Empire with Michael VIII Paleologus as emperor. Michael eventually gives a daughter in marriage to each Mongol khans Abaga and Nogay. At first he blocks trade and communications between Kypchak Horde and Egypt, but later is forced to reopen it.



Egyptian Sultan Baybars sends letter to Berke urging his assistance against Hulagu.



Civil war between Arik-Buka and Kubilay.



Lithuanians raid Volynia.



anti-Mongol uprising in Suzdalia centered in Rostov, Vladimir, Yaroslavl and Suzdal. Alexander Nevsky goes to Berke to plead forbearance and pardon for his people. Berke agrees. Alexander dies on return journey. Berke gives throne of Vladimir to Alexander's brother, Prince Yaroslav of Tver.



Berke orders his Kypchak troops with Hulagu to leave and they go to Egypt to reinforce the Mamelukes. Berke's initial campaign against Hulagu is led by Nogay and defeated in Derbent area in late 1262.



Berke leads Kypchak Horde army into Transcaucasia and defeats Hulagu's army. Both armies suffer heavy losses in battle seriously weakening Mongol power. Berke levies conscription on Russia for troops for campaigns in Caucasus and TransCaucasus. Golden Horde is now firmly allied with Mameluks in Egypt against Il-Khans in Persia. Many Egyptian troops continue to come from Golden Horde - Russians, Alans, and Kypchaks.



Berke sends Nogay with army into Thrace to secure assistance of the vassal Bulgarian Tsar Constantine against the Byzantines.



Kubilay moves his capital from Mongolia to Peking



Daniel of Galicia and Mendovg of Lithuania die.



Hulagu dies and is succeeded by Abaga.



Combined Mongol-Bulgarian armies threaten Constantinople.



Berke again campaigns in Transcaucasia with advance guard led by Nogay.



Berke dies in Tbilisi during the campaign and his army retires accross the Caucasus. Berke had no living sons and Mangu-Temir, grandson of Batu, was elected the new khan. Mangu-Temir is a Sky worshiper, which greatly reduces Kypchak pressure to support Moslems. He grants a yarlyk of immunity from taxes and conscription to the Russian Church. Nogay was assigned to command Mongol armies in the Balkans.



Kubilay begins campaign again in South China with assistance of detachments from both Kypchak Horde and Il-khans. (Including Russian units.)



Hulagu's successor, Abaga, attempts to organize alliance with Christian Europe against Moslems in Near East



Kaidu (grandson of Ugedey) gains control of all Transoxania and Kashgaria.



Mangu-Temir and Abaga conclude peace treaty.

  1270 Victory of Samogites over Teutonic knights at Gulf of Riga  


Nogay starts Mongol offensive against Constantinople to reopen Bosporus to traffic between Egypt and Kypchak Horde.



Mangu-Temir grants yarlik to Yaroslav's brother, Prince Vasilii of Kostroma. Mangu-Temir sends Mongol troops to support Vasilii's claim to the title as prince of Novgorod against Novgorodian opposition.



Mongol campaign against Japan is defeated



Kaidu proclaims independence.



New census and conscription of recruits in Russia ordered by Kubilay for campaign in South China.



Kaidu moves against Kubilay's officers in Central Asia. Kubilay restores his power.



Vasilii dies leaving no brothers. Mangu-Temir gives throne of Vladimir to Alexander Nevski's son, Prince Dmitri of Pereiaslavl in Suzdalia. He also gives him the title of prince of Novgorod.



Mongols capture Hangchow


1276 - 1303

Daniel Alexandrovich rules Moscow as Grand Prince of Vladimir



Kaidu siezes Karakorum briefly but is soon ousted by Kubilay's troops.



Mangu-Temir begins offensive against Alans in north Caucasus and orders Russian princes to bring their retinues in support. Alexander Nevski's son, Andrew, (among others) participates. The Russians capture main Alan fortified city.


Lithuanian victory at Kanus over Teutonic knights



All China controled by Kubilay



Mangu-Temir dies and his brother, Tuda-Mangu, is elected Khan. Nogay is proclaimed or proclaims himself khan also (of Nogay horde).



All Russian princes but Grand Prince Dmitri go to meet Khan Tuda-Mangu. Dmitri is busy attacking Novgorod. Tuda mangu cancels his yarlyk and gives Vladimir to Dmitri's younger brother, Andrew of Gorodets. Dmitri refuses to surrender title and conflict follows. Tuda-Mangu sends Mongol troops to assist Andrew. Mongols pillage Vladimir region and install Andrew on throne.



Mongols campaign with modest success in Cambodia, Annam, and Burma



Second Mongol campaign against Japan is defeated.



Dmitri goes to Nogay and receives yarlyk for Vladimir and troops for support to regain throne. Andrew is forced to give up and move to Kostroma. However,Tuda-Mangu continues to consider Andrew the legal grand prince. Rostov princes likewise remain loyal to Tuda-Mangu.



Nogay sends 4,000 select Mongol troops to support Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII, but Michael dies before campaign starts.



Tuda-Mangu converts to Islam and becomes religious mystic.



Nogay leads his own Mongol horde in offensive into Hungary from south. Tele-Buga leads the army of the main Golden Horde into Slovakia from the north but is stopped by snow in the Carpathian Mountains and forced to retire to Galicia, which they loot in compensation for missing out in Hungary.



Nogay arrived in Galicia to work together with Tele-Buga to attack Poland. They order Russian princes to join as well. Nogay attacks Krakow and Tele-Buga moves toward Sandomir.



After looting the country both Mongol armies return to Galicia and Volynia to complete the destruction there. This destruction reduces local ability to resist subsequent advance by Lithuania.



Tuda-Mangu deposed and Tele-Buga elected Khan of the Golden Horde. He opens new war against Il-khans in Persia to try to take Azerbaijan, but fails.



Rostov people use opportunity to rebel against Mongols, but revolt is suppressed by Russian princes with Mongol aid.



Tele-Buga again at war in Azerbaijan. He tries to arrest Mangu-Temir's son, Tokhta, who escapes and finds refuge with Nogay.



Teutonic Knights of Livonia conquer Semigallia.



Nogay captures Tele-Buga and has him executed. He then places Tokhta on throne as khan. Tokhta revitalized horde and its army. The Russian princes split with some including Andrew and the Rostov princes going to swear allegiance to Tokhta and others including Dmitri and Michael of Tver going to swear allegiance to Nogay.



Swedes build outpost at Viborg in Karelia.



Tokta confirms Andrew as grand prince of Vladimir and sends Mongol army to support Andrew in battle against Dmitri. Result is extensive destruction in entire Vladimir princedom and looting of Moscow and other towns. Tver tries to resist against another Mongol army. Dmitri flees to Pskov and then dies.



Mongols are defeated in Java.



Nogay invades Serbia and forces king to become his vassal.



Andrew recognized as grand prince of Vladimir.



Kubilay dies.



Timur, grandson of Kubilay, proclaimed Great Khan in Peking and continues war with Kaidu.



Gazan becomes Il-Khan in Persia.



Civil war in Livonia.



Tokhta calls all Russian princes to meeting at Vladimir with his representative and forces them to unite in his support. War between Venice and Genoa in the Black Sea with each seeking support from one of the rival Mongol khans. Tokhta challenges Nogay to war advancing from Volga to the Pruth River. Nogay brings his army from Bulgaria and Romania to the battle between the Pruth and Dniester Rivers. Nogay wins and drives Tokhta back accross the Don River but fails to complete the pursuit and follow up the victory. Nogay instead turns to attack the Genoese and their trading center at Kaffa in Crimea.



Tokhta has new army and returns to attack.



Tokhta defeats Nogay at battle of Kukanlyk near modern Poltava. Nogay killed in battle by one of Tokhta's Russian troops. Soon the Nogay Horde divides and some move back to steppes north of the Caspian Sea while others remain along the Dnieper. Tokhta sets about restoring order and power after damage caused by the civil war.



Swedes build fort at Landskrona on Neva River.



Metropolitan Maxim of the Russian Orthodox Church moves from Kiev to Vladimir.



Kaidu tries again to capture Karakorum and dies. Great Khan Timur succeeds in reuniting Mongols in that all again reconginze his supremacy and agree to negociate their individual differences.
With internal unity in the Golden Horde and enforced agreement between the Golden Horde and the Il-Khans the Mongol pressure on Russia increases and the Russians can't get away with rebellions.
The Russian princes continue to fight each other.



Daniel of Moscow captures Kolomna from Riazan even though Riazan has support of local Mongol garrison troops.



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



Daniel takes Mozhaisk from prince of Smolensk and Pereiaslavl from officers of Andrew. Daniel's success starts the trend for Moscow continued by his descendents. Andrew goes to complain to Tokhta who orders a new meeting of Russian princes under his control.



Crusaders from Rhineland assist Teutonic Knights against Lithuania.



Daniel dies and is succeeded by his son, Yuri,



Russian princes attend meeting at Pereiaslavl under Mongol supervision and are forced to swear allegiance and stop fighting.



Il-Khan Gazan dies and his brother, Oljaitu, is proclaimed the new ruler.



Strong Russian units are maintained in north China and from 1330 as special guards for the Mongol Emperor. These were volunteer recruits, conscripts, and captured prisoners. For instance thousands of Tverians were sent to China after the abortive rebellion in Tver in 1327.



Grand Prince Andrew dies and both Michael of Tver and Yuri of Moscow seek the yarlyk for Vladimir from Tokhta. He gives it to Michael. Struggle between Moscow and Tver intensifies.



Timur dies with no male descendants. Throne in China passes to a succession of eight emperors in following final twenty-six years of Mongol rule.



Teutonic Knights occupy Danzig.



Headquarters of Teutonic Knights moved from Venice to Marienburg.



Tokhta dies on way to visit Russia.



Özbäg, nephew of Tokhta, proclaimed Khan of Golden Horde. He institutes new policy in Russia of ordering the Russian princes themselves to collect the taxes instead of the former Mongol baskak. He confirms Michael of Tver as Grand Prince of Vladimir. Yuri of Moscow goes to Horde with large amount of money from Novgorod for presents. He stays for two years, marries Özbäg's sister and manages to get the title for Vladimir changed from Michael.



Il-Khan Oljaitu dies.



Gedymin becomes Grand Duke of Lithuania and starts building major power, especially over the western Russian principalities.



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



Özbäg begins pressure again against Il-Khan Abu-Said.



Novgorodians raid Swedish-held Finland and burn Abo cathedral.



Yuri travels back to Moscow and then proceeds with his Mongol wife (Agatha), and the chief Mongol official (Kavgadyi) to march with small force against Tver. Michael defeats Yuri, who flees to Novgorod, and captures Yuri's wife, while avoiding Kavgadyi. Kavgadyi orders both Yuri and Michael to report immediately to Özbäg. Agatha dies in captivity in Tver. Big mistake for Michael.



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



Michael is tried by Mongol court and executed. Yuri is again proclaimed Grand Prince of Vladimir.



Revolt in Rostov suppressed by combined Mongol and Muscovite armies under command of Yuri's son, Ivan.



Ivan goes to Sarai on behalf of his brother Yuri.



Özbäg changes yarlyk for Vladimir from Yuri to Michael's son Dmitri of Tver. Yuri goes again to see Özbäg with money from Novgorod. Dmitri follows quickly.


Pskov raids Mazovia and Estonia



Former princes of Galicia die and throne is given by Özbäg to Yuri II who marries daughter of Gedymin. Novgorodians end war with Sweden at Treaty of Noteborg. Teutonic Order and Gediminas of Lithuania sign Peace of Vilnius.



Özbäg supports Bulgarians against Byzantines but combined Mongol-Bulgarian army is defeated at Adrianople.



Abu-Said's troops advance as far north of Caucasus as Terek river and are repulsed by Golden Horde.



At the khan's court Dmitri of Tver murders Yuri of Moscow in revenge and is executed in following year. But the yarlyk for Vladimir is given to Dmitri's brother Alexander of Tver with a special Mongol commissioner (Shevkal) in charge.(1)



Ivan travels to Sarai again



Orhan captures Brussa to establish first capital of Ottoman state.



Özbeg executes Dmitrii of Tver for murder of Yuri of Moscow



Metropolitan Peter of Russian Orthodox Church moves from Vladimir to Moscow making that the center of Russian religion



Major revolt in Tver by population who kill Shevkal and most of the Mongol garrison. Özbäg orders Ivan of Moscow to lead large Mongol force along with forces of Alexander of Suzdal against Tver. Ivan goes to Sarai and brings 50,000 Tatars commanded by Fedorchuk and Turalyk against Tver. Alexander of Tver flees to Pskov and Ivan follows. Alexander is forced to flee to Lithuania. Konstantin is made Prince of Tver. Novgorod supports Ivan. They sack the city and devastate the entire Tver region. Thousands of Tverians are sent to China.


Algirdas defeated Saxons near Frankfort



Özbäg realizing Moscow is strong gives yarlyk to Alexander of Suzdal instead of Ivan of Moscow.



Prussia at war with Poland and Lithuania.



Özbäg sends 3,000 Nogay Tatars to support Bulgarians against Serbians. Serbians win victory at Kustendil on June 28, 1330.(2)



Ivan goes to Sarai again to obtain control of lands held by Alexander of Suzdal.


Alexander 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. Prussia makes peace with Poland.



Özbäg finally gives yarlyk for Vladimir to Ivan of Moscow, but with Tver, Suzdal and Riazan specifically removed from control of the Grand Principality of Vladimir. Each of these towns is to collect their taxes and deliver them directly to the Mongols. Ivan visits khan frequently in effort to gain confidence. Ivan's policy of careful appeasement results in extra peace and prosperity for Moscow and hence for growing power and strength.



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



Il-Khan Abu-Said dies and civil war starts in Persia.



Özbäg sends Mongol forces to raid Lithuania to push the Lithuanians back from Galicia.



Ivan sends army against Novgorod to raise taxes.



Mongols attack Poland to force Poles back as well. Emperor Lewis IV authorises Teutonic Knights to conquer Eastern Europe.



Prince of Smolensk becomes vassal of Gedymin of Lithuania against Mongol wishes. Özbäg sends his Russian troops against Smolensk.



Alexander executed by Khan Özbeg and Konstantin restored to Tver



Yuri II of Galicia dies and Casmir of Poland tries to intervene but the Galicians give the throne to one of Gedymin's sons. Özbäg sends Mongol troops to support Galicia and drive the Poles out.



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


Gedimas wounded by gunshot in battle



Ivan dies. Gedymin dies. Özbäg dies.



Janibeg seizes Khanate of Golden Horde from his elder brother, Tinibeg. He confirms yarlyk for Vladimir on Ivan I's son, Simeon of Moscow, but also makes Rostov, Suzdal, and Tver grand principalities as well.



Estonia revolts against German colonists.



Janibeg attempts and fails to capture Kaffa from the Genoese. Janibeg continues alliance with Mameluks in Egypt and sends them Turks and Russians for soldiers.



Black Death starts devastation in Crimea and spreads to Egypt and then to Western Europe. Valdemar IV of Denmark sells Estonia to the Teutonic Order.



King Magnus of Sweden invades Russia. Novgorod appeals for assistance against Sweden and Livonian knights but Ivan Ivanovich as commander of army does not respond. Prussians defeat Lithuanians at Strawe.



Grand Duke Olgerd of Lithuania warns Janibeg of growing power of Moscow and proposes Lithuanian-Tatar alliance. Simeon goes to Janibeg and convinces him of Moscow's loyalty.



Casimir of Poland starts new offensive against Galicia and Volynia. Olgerd asks Mongol assistance.



King Magnus's second crusade.



Mongols and Lithuanians drive Poles out of Volynia, but Poles keep Galicia.



Muscovites under Ivan campaign with Tatars to Smolensk.



Black Death reaches Moscow via Novgorod. Simeon dies of plague and is succeeded by Ivan II. It is interesting that the plague came from Asia via Tatars to Kaffa, thence via Genoese ships to Egypt and Italy, then north throughout western Europe and back to Moscow - but not directly north from
Sarai along the Volga.



Ottoman Turks cross Hellespont and capture Gallipoli in 1356.



Khan Janibeg captures Tabriz.



Ivan II reduces military operations against Lithuania.



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



Janibeg dies on way home and his son, Berdibeg, has to leave Tabriz and return to Sarai as the new Khan.



Rebellion in South China gains ground and Chu Yüan-chang drives last Mongol Khan, Togan-Timur out of China and proclaims Ming dynasty.



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. Prussian knights and crusaders capture Kaunas.



Muscovite armies drive the Suzdalian 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 Tatar raid.



Muscovite armies support Nizhnii Novgorod's 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 begins attacks against Smolensk and Briansk and 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 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.

The victorious Russian army is plundered by Lithuanians (or Riazantsi?) on the way home.



Teutonic Knights use cannon in battle on Nieman river.



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 boats 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 about 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 from all the princes as hostages.



Dmitrii again attacks Riazan.
Teutonic Order captures Vilna and Trakai.



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.


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.


Teutonic Order captures Polish duchy at Dobrzyn.


Vasilii siezes 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's northern lands for two years.


Vasilii annexes Vologda, Ustiug, and Vezhetskii Verkh.


Teutonic Order conquers Gotland and Vitovt cedes Samogitia to them.


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.


Teutonic Order returns Dobrzyn to Poland and subjugates Samogitia.


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. Samogitia revolts against Teutonic Order. Order also retakes Dobrzyn.


Poles and Lithuanians defeat Teutonic Order at Tannenberg.


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


King Vladislav IV invades Prussia.


Teutonic Order cedes Samogitia to Vitvot. Last German crusaders arrive in Prussia.


Teutonic Order sends knights to defend Hungary from the Turks.


Polish and Hussite army invades Prussia.


Poles defeat Livonian Knights at Wilkomierz.


During the winter a strong group of Tatars led by the Juchid Prince, Mustafa, attacks Riazan land. This group is from Sarai, where Khan Kuchuk Mahmed rules the Horde. Grand Duke Vasilii II sends troops together with the Riazan Cossacks and Mordvinians on snowshoes, to aid the town. They destroy the Tatar army.(3)


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


During the winter, Uleg Mahmed attacks Murom. Muscovite troops under Vasilii II himself drive the Tatars off; yet, Vasilii can not relieve Gorodets, therefore the Russians abandon it. Uleg Mahmed now sends part of his army under command of his sons, Mahmudek and Yakub, against Suzdal.(4)

July 7, 1445

Vasilii II arrives at Suzdal, and, not waiting for his own Tatar vassals, attacks the 3,500 Tatars with his 1,500 men. The Tatars win and capture Vasilii. This small battle has great lasting historical significance. The Tatar princes bring Vasilii II to their father, Uleg Mahmed, who moves the Tatar army toward Kazan. Meanwhile, Moscow prepares for the expected attack and mobilizes the militia. Vasilii manages to gain the friendship of the Khan's sons, Yakub and Kasim. Khan Uleg Mahmed sets Vasilii free for ransom, tribute, and certain favors. Then the Khan's own son, Mahmudek, murders his father and takes command of the Tatar army. He moves the force to Kazan and sets up the new Khanate of Kazan in the fall of 1445.(5)

Princes Yakub and Kasim flee to the Circassian land on the Dnieper River. When Vasilii arrives back in Moscow, he expands his policy of recruiting Tatar khans and princes to help him.(6) They are more loyal to him than are many Russians and are useful against his Russian enemies.(7)

Internal opposition, led by Prince Dmitri Shemiaka, deposes Vasilii II temporarily, but his supporters, with significant Tatar help from Yakub and Kasim, reinstate Vasilii. Vasilii then establishes the new Khanate at Gorodetz and makes Kasim the Khan. Kasim and the other Tatar princes continue to support Vasilii in war with Dmitri in 1449, 1450, and 1452, as well as against other Tatars. Vasilii selectes 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 receives the town in 1452, and after his death, it is renamed Kasimov (1471). This is a master stroke that gains Moscow great Tatar support and political as well as military strength.(8)


Livonia wages serious war on Novgorod and tries to capture it. After 1448 there is little trouble from Livonia, which is at war with Poland.


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


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


King Casimir gives support to Hajji Gerei, a Juchid prince living in Lithuania and a relative of Uleg Mahmed, to attack the Horde. Hajji Gerei seizes 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 rules the Crimea until the late 18th century.(9)


Said Ahmed sends part of his Horde army against Moscow. Twenty miles from Moscow the Tsarevich Kasim and his Tatar troops defeat the Horde Tatars and recover all prisoners and booty.


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


Another Tatar invasion reaches the walls of Moscow. The main army of Said Ahmed leds the attack. On news of his approach, Vasilii II moves north to raise more troops. The Moscow garrison has both artillery and handguns. The Tatars arrive on 2 July and burn the suburbs, but the defenders repulse their assault on the citadel. During the night, the Tatars retreat.


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


War of Teutonic Order against Prussian towns and Poland.


Vasilii II leads his armies against Novgorod, because the city had sheltered Dmitri Shemiaka after 1452. The Muscovite army under Prince Ivan Striga-Obolensky loots 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 shoots the Novgorodian horses and routs their army. The new treaty forced on Novgorod by the Grand Duke is a serious blow to its freedom.


Vasilii renews his attacks on Viatka and win a victory, after which Viatka pledges allegiance.(10) Soon after becoming the new Khan of the Golden Horde the same year, Ahmed attacks Periaslavl in Riazan territory. He attempts to restore the Russian tribute, but fails.(11)


Vasilii II dies and is succeeded by his son, Ivan III.


Ivan III's first move is a large reconnaissance in force to the northern Kazan area, the Cheremisian lands. From the northern towns of Ustyug, Vologda, and Galich, he travels over the main attack route into the Kazan area via the Viatka River and the town of Khlynov. Simultaneously, Kazan retaliates with a raid on Ustyug.(12)


Khan Akhmet of the Great Horde decids to invade Muscovy, but en route on the Don River Crimean Tatars under Hajji Gerei attack him. Preserving the hostility between the two Tatar states is a main point of Muscovite diplomacy.(13)


Half of Prussia is ceded to Poland.


When Khan Mahmudek dies, his son, Ibrahim, becomes Khan of Kazan. Mahmudek's widow marries his brother, Kasim. In 1467 elements of the town population invite Kasim to Kazan, but Ibrahim refuses to yield to his uncle. Ivan III presses for his vassal, Kasim, to replace Ibrahim. Ivan sends his army under the leading generals, Ivan V. Obolensky-Striga, Daniel D. Kholmsky, and Ivan Y. Patrikeev. The expedition fails. The army marchs overland to the Volga, but there it faces a strong Tatar force. Low on supplies, the Russians retreat, after which the Kazan force raids Galich. Ivan strengthens his forces in all towns. Three months later, Ivan conducts another surprise raid. A large army under Prince Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky on 6 December 1467 leaves Galich in secret and marchs on Cheremisia; they come near Kazan and conduct other raids on the Volga.


Campaigns against Kazan

Ivan prepares for a major campaign on Kazan. He goes to Vladimir-on-Klyazma. There he summons his brothers and the other princes, but after the preparations, he postpones the campaign and only conducts raids. Ivan asks Viatka for assistance but they refuse. Instead he sends a major raid from Ustyug to Kazan. He also orders raids from Nizhni-Novgorod against the west side of Kazan territory.(14)


Ivan conducts the major campaign on Kazan from the north and west along the routes previously prepared. Despite the care and preparation, the campaign is a failure. The two armies lack communication with each other and with general headquarters. The first army, under the command of Konstantin A. Bezzubtsov, assembles along the river routes for transport by water. All towns and districts send detachments, making this the largest Russian army yet seen on the Volga. The second army, under the command of Prince Daniel V. Yaroslavsky, march from the north. Detachments from Vologda, Galich, and Ustyug sail by river to Viatka. When the Viatka men refuse to join them, they loose the element of surprise and the expected strength. This warns the Tatars and foils Yaroslavsky's attack. Therefore, Ivan cancels the western attack also. In spite of this, the western army advances under the command of Ivan Runo. On 22 May the army reaches Kazan after a three-day river cruise. They attack the fortifications, free the prisoners, and then withdraw to an island in the river for seven days. The Tatars attack the island from the land and from ships. The Russians fight through the Tatar army to another island. Meanwhile, the northern army fights 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 return to Nizhni-Novgorod.

Ivan sends yet another army to Kazan later in 1469, and this army is even larger than the previous one. It is a mixed force of cavalry and river-borne infantry. Ivan's brothers, Yuri and Andri the Elder, are the leaders. They arrive at Kazan on 1 September and besiege the city for five days, and cut the water supply. Ibrahim then surrenders and made a nine-year truce.(15)


First Campaign against Novgorod

In May, after making careful diplomatic preparations to isolate the city, Ivan III declares war on Novgorod. Novgorod has just signed a defense treaty with Casimir of Lithuania in February, 1471, but the Lithuanians do 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 leaves the city on 15 March 1471. Thus, Novgorod has to face the might of Grand Duke Ivan III alone. In June, three armies leave Moscow; the first commanded by Princes Daniel D. Kholmsky and Fedor D. Starodubski-Pestry, and the second commanded by Prince Vasilii I. Obolenski-Striga includes Tatar troops. Ivan commands the third army himself and has with him his Tatar Tsarevich of Kasimov, Danyan. They leave Moscow on 20 June. The Grand Duke secures the alliance of Pskov and Tver and Viatka as well. The Pskov army opens the war on 10 July with a series of skirmishes. Pskov also blocks the path of Casimir against his possible support of Novgorod.

Battle of Shelon River

Ivan moves to Torzhok where he meets the detachments of Tver and the armies of his brothers and cousins. The major battle occurs on 14 July at the River Shelon. The 40,000-man Novgorod army, largely composed of a civilian militia, is disorganized and uncoordinated. The 5,000 Muscovites rout 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 takes place in the north on 24 July, when Ivan sends a force under Boris Slepets down the Northern Dvina from Viatka. This 2,970-man unit then faces the 12,000 men under the Novgorod professional commander, Prince Vasilii V. Gorgaty-Shuyaki. This battle on the River Shilenga is another defeat for Novgorod. The peace treaty allows Novgorod some local autonomy, but in reality it places the city under the Grand Duke. He uses lenient methods to absorb the city gradually and reduce his enemies while gaining time to observe political conditions in the city.(16)


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


Ivan's enemy is Lithuania, while the Crimea's enemy is the Great Horde. Therefore Casimir arranges a treaty of assistance with the Horde, and Ivan (in 1480) signs a treaty with Crimea.

In 1472, Khan Akhmet's Horde Tatar army nears the Oka River in June. Ivan has his armies and the armies of his relatives and the Tatars of Kasimov along the river, waiting. The generals are Ivan V. Obolensky-Striga, D. D. Kholmsky, and Fedor D. Starodubski-Pestry. The Russian army totals 180,000 and is stretched along 150 versts of river front. The Tatar attack, beginning on 30 July at Aleksin, surprises the garrison, but the Russians hold the Tatars to a small bridgehead until large reinforcements can 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 Casimir's army, but the Lithuanians do not show up, so the Tatars return home.(17)


Ivan was negotiating an alliance with Mengli Gerei, Khan of Crimea, when the Turks invade Crimea and seize the Khan. Akhmet then tries to get the Crimean throne, but the Sultan puts Mengli back there in 1478. From then on Crimea is a dependency of the Ottoman Empire.


Second Campaign against Novgorod

After opposition grows in Novgorod, Ivan again invades with a large army. On 30 September, he besieges the city using Tatar help. There is little resistance. His new treaty takes all independence from Novgorod. The Novgorod veche bell is shipped to Moscow. Three hundred carts are used to carry the loot to Moscow.


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


War with Lithuania

Ivan begins a border war with Lithuania, in which Moscow is the aggressor. The objective is to persuade the border nobles to change sides and bring their estates into Muscovy. Also, it is an effort to soften up the Lithuanian resistance. This war lasts from 1478 to 1489, and consists 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 are used, including sometimes major military operations.(18)

Third and last campaign against Novgorod


Ivan again hears of rebellion brewing in Novgorod. He sets out for Novgorod on 26 October with a detachment of 1,000 men, ordering simultaneously the mobilization of the rest of the army. He can not capture the town with the small force and has to wait for reinforcements. The city is besieged until 15 January 1480 when it surrenders. Ivan again deports many people, confiscates land from the Church and the people, and settles 2,000 Muscovite service people in the area.(19)


Ivan has barely finished with the revolt in Novgorod when his brothers revolt and besieg some Muscovite towns. He hurries home to deal with them. He agrees with them quickly because he needs their support against the Khan of the Horde who is preparing to attack Moscow. In April Ivan signs a treaty of alliance with Mengli Gerei of the Crimean Tatars.

In August the Livonian Order attacks Pskov with 10,000 men and besieges Izborok and Pskov. The Livonians give up the siege, but then Ivan's brothers arrive and cause much trouble for Pskov. Simultaneously the Horde Tatars are advancing on the Oka where they again hope for a joint attack with the Lithuanians. In June they capture the towns near Tula. Ivan defends the Oka River line; with his brother, Andrei, at Tarusa and his son, Ivan Ivanovich, at Serpukhov and Ivan himself at Kolomna. Khan Akhmet moves west to go around the Oka line: therefore, Ivan also moves west. The rivers normally would freeze in October and no longer be useful as obstacles, so the Tatars wait in the area southwest of the Oka. Prince Ivan Y. Patrikeev prepares Moscow for a siege. Ivan III moves to Kremenets, a good central spot for a main headquarters and reserve, from which he also can guard the west border against Casimir of Lithuania. On 8 October, Akhmet's army reaches the Oka-Ugra River junction and tries to cross. The Russians hold the river for four days with bows, arquebuses, and cannon. On 12 October, Akhmet withdraws to wait for the river to freeze and for Casmir to arrive. He allows his Tatars to raid and pillage the upper Oka region, which Lithuania also claimed. Ivan opens negotiations with no result. Finally, Ivan's brothers arrive with their armies. When the Tatars withdraw, Ivan does also.(20) The river freezes on 16 October. Akhmet retreats on 11 November anyway, since no help has come from Casimir. Ivan has sent his Tatar Khans and troops on a raid down the Volga to attack Akhmet's undefended capital at Sarai. Akhmet has to retreat to protect his rear areas. Nur Devlet and Prince Vasilii Nosdrevaty may have led this raid. During the same summer, Ivan sends raids on Kazan from Viatka and Ustyug. Mengli Gerei leds large Crimean Tatar raids into Podolia that prevent King Casimir from helping Akhmet.

While on his way home, Akhmet is ambushed on 6 January 1481 by 1,000 men of Khan Ivak of Tyumen (Siberia) and 15,000 Nogai Tatars under Musa. Ivan III appreciates the work of Ivak and his Siberians.(21)


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

At Kazan, Ibrahim dies and is succeeded by his son by a junior wife, Ali. The Khanate populace splits; some support Ali and some support Mohammed Amin, Ibrahim's son by his chief wife, Nur Sultan. Nur Sultan is the daughter of Prince Temir of the clan Mangkut; therefore, a descendent of Chingis Khan. Ivan uses this split with his usual Oriental cunning. He offers support to both sides to widen the strife. The result is that both sides were ready to support Moscow. The first clash comes in 1482 when Ivan sends his main army to Vladimir. The generals and Aristotle Fioraventi, the specially-imported Italian chief of artillery, then conduct on a reconnaissance to Kazan where Ali Khan swears allegiance to Moscow.(22)

Campaign against Kazan


Ivan again sends his army to Kazan where he seizes the city and puts Mehemmed on the throne instead of Ali. The same year the Turks capture the Moldavian port, Chilia, on the Danube and Cetatea Alba on the Dniester. By 1484, Casimir has renewed his ties with the remnant of the Great Horde. For its part the Great Horde, under Murtaza, the son of Akhmet, invades the Crimea in 1484. Mengli Gerei arrests Murtaza and sends him to the Turks, then Mengli attacks the lands of Temir, the father of his future wife, Nur Sultan, and disperses Murtaza's army. Later, Temir and Akhmet's other son, Mahmud, attack Mengli and rescue Murtaza. Mengli flees to the Turks. The sultan reinstates him.

Ivan III uses his own Tatar troops to help Mengli at this time. He also seeks an agreement with the Sultan against their mutual enemies. During the period 1495-1492, the struggle between the Crimea and the Great Horde continues. Under pressure from the east, the Great Horde moves westward from the Volga to the Donets River, ready to attack the Crimea and Russia.(23)


Ivan sends a force led by Nur Devlet, the brother of Mengli Gerei, against the Horde. The same year Ivan's main army goes to Kazan again and reverses the procedure, taking Mehemmed off and putting Ali back on the throne. The people again restore Mehemmed to the throne, but this time Ali returnes with an army of Nogai Tatars and forces Mehemmed to flee to Moscow later in 1486. The Viatkans raid Ustyug, a Muscovite town.


The Horde stays near the Donets. Temir withdraws from the Horde with his troops when his daughter, Nur Sultan, marries Mengli Gerei. Ivan again sends an army under Nur Devlet to attack the Horde, but no action takes place. The Horde finally attacks, but into Lithuania, not Crimea or Moscow. This is due to the urging of the Sultan, who desires to prevent a Polish attack on the Turks in Moldavia. The Horde spends 2½ years in the west attacking the Poles. In these battles the Horde looses its best troops and does Ivan's and Mengli's work for them.

On 8 September 1487, Casimir's son, Jan Olbracht, meets the Horde Tatars at Kopystrin near Moldavia. The Tatar raiding party is routed, but the rest of the Horde continues forward and settles in western Podolia.

Campaign against Kazan

In 1487, when Mehemmed Amin's mother, Nur Sultan, marries Mengli Gerei, Khan of Crimea, and Ivan's ally, Ivan settles on Mehemmed as his candidate at Kazan. The Tsar sends 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 is the usual cavalry and river-borne infantry. It reaches Kazan on 18 May. The Khan surrenders on 9 July and is taken with his family to Moscow, and then to Vologda. Mehemmed Amin returns to the throne and Ali's supporters are executed. The military victory is overwhelming, but it is not in Moscow's interest to annex Kazan at this time. It is better to use a supportive khan there. Mehemmed officially is an equal to the Grand Duke, but actually he is subordinate and sends his army to help Ivan whenever asked. Also, Moscow is strengthened with the Siberian Nogai Tatars under Khan Ivak. Ivan agrees to Mehemmed marrying a daughter of Musa of the Nogai Horde.(24)

Political theorists use Ivan's installation of Mehemmed Amin to generate Moscow's legal claim to Kazan. This interpretation appears in the chronicles, persists into the 19th century, and is repeated by Soviet historians.(25)


Ivan conducts a major raid into the border areas of Lithuania. He divides the frontier into sectors, each under the command of a voevoda who conducts the raids. Lithuanian defense is vigorous and includs raids on Muscovy, but the Muscovite tactics are successful. By the end of 1489, three more princes change sides and bring their states, troops, boyars, etc. into Muscovy. At the same time Ivan sends an army against Viatka because the town did not support him at Kazan.

Campaign against Viatka

1489 Ivan sends 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 arrives at Viatka and the town surrenders. All citizens are 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 drives the Horde back across the Dnieper.


The Horde Tatars return to Poland and reach Lublin the next year. In the spring, while the Horde is regrouping from their expulsion from Podolia, Ivan attacks them with Tatar and Russian troops under Nur Devlet's son, Satilghan, but again no battle takes place 1490. Consequently, during 1490, the Horde is essentially unmolested. Sultan Bayazid does not want enmity between Tatar groups to continue because he needs their help in Vollynia that year. He therefore helps arrange a peace in September 1490. No sooner does Mengli disband his Crimean army than the Horde attacks the Crimea. Mengli retaliates during the winter of 1490-91. During 1490-91, Ivan continues the border war with Lithuania. When Casimir complains, Ivan pretends ignorance. The Tatar khans often pretended ignorance about the raids of their subjects also. In 1490, the Nogai ask Ivan for an alliance against the Horde. He accepts and agrees for Mohammed Amin to marry a Nogai and for Mohammed's daughter to marry a Nogai murza.


While the main Horde force attacks the Poles, Mengli raids their fortified base on the Dnieper. Sultan Bayazid sends 1,000 Janissaries to Crimea to help Mengli. The Sultan is furious at the Horde for breaking the peace he arranged and for disobedience.(26)

Polish army defeats Horde


On 25 January the Poles defeat the Horde at Zaslavl'. Ivan and Mengli are delighted to watch one enemy destroy the other. Despite the defeats, the Horde, during the summer of 1491, masses north of Crimea, ready to invade. Murtaza goes to Astrakhan to get Nogai help. The Khan of Astrakhan, Abdul Kerim, was Murtaza's uncle, so his army comes west to help the Horde. Mengli asks Ivan for help. Ivan, in June 1491, sends a combined army south; the first army leaves Moscow on 2 June. The Tatars vassals are under Satilghan and the Russians are commanded by Princes Petr Obolensky and Ivan Repnya-Obolensky. The second army leaves Kazan on 8 June. It is 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 form the third army. The troops of both Andrei and Boris are called for, but only Boris obeys. The entire force meets in the steppe, south of the Oka. The Horde is dispersed throughout the steppe, and Seyyed Ahmed and Sheykh Ahmed realize that they can not face such a large army. Sultan Bayazid orders Murtaza to move the Horde away from the Crimea.

The Russians defeat the Khan Kerim of Astrakhan. In November 1491, Mengli Gerei tells Ivan that the Horde is no longer a threat. Casimir has done the main work by defeating the Horde in Podolia. This unties the hands of the Crimean Tatars.

The result of Ivan's skillful diplomacy and show of force is the elimination of the Horde with no Russians wasted or material lost. First, the Kazan Khan is a vassal. Second, the Great Horde is defeated and scattered. Third, the Nogai Tatars are coming under Russian influence. Fourth, the Crimean Tatars are loyal allies prepared to help in the main war against Lithuania.(27)


The Siberian Tatar, Ivak, and his brother, Mamuk, Khan of the Uzbeks, and his brother-in-law, Musa, and Yamgurchu of the Nogais all attack Astrakhan together but fail to capture the town. They also press on Kazan annually after 1492. Their base is Tyumen in Siberia. Ivak dies and Mamuk becomes Khan and increases the pressure on Mehemed Amin of Kazan.

In June, Casimir dies; the new Grand Duke of Lithuania is Alexander. Moscow immediately begins heavy raiding pressure on his lands.(28)


Ivan III tries again to get a treaty with the Sultan Bayazid II, or at least an understanding that he will aid Moscow by opposing Poland. The Muscovites consider the Latins worse infidels than the Moslem Turks. Moscow is careful and correct in dealings with the Turks because it needs Turkish friendship, since the Turks control the Crimean Tatars, who are Moscow's chief allies.


Mengli Gerei builds a fort at Tyaginka, 20 miles up the Dnieper from the Ingulets River, to aid in his attacks against Lithuania. In the fall, Mengli begins raids into Podolia, but Ivan is not happy about the Crimean fort at Tyaginka, as Moscow has designs to take the area to itself eventually. Ivan requests Mengli to stop building the fort.(29) Ivan himself builds a fortified town, Ivangorod, on the Narova River opposite Narva.


The Crimean Tatars launch new raids on Lithuania from Tyaginka in the spring. By fall they have sent three major expeditions north; then Lithuanians attack and destroy the fort at Tyaginka. This makes Mengli Gerei so angry, he leads the next raid in person, bypassing Kiev and striking deep into Podolia. He rebuilds Tyaginka during the years 1493-96, while continuing the raids into Poland. Ivan III wants Mengli to reduce the scale of his raids during this period as Moscow and Lithuania are discussing a treaty and on the prospective marriage of Ivan's daughter, Elena, to Alexander.

The Starosta of Cherkasy, Prince Bogdan Glinski, leads a Cossack raid on Ochakov at the behest of Lithuania.(30)


The Tatar raids on Lithuania continue as do the border raids conducted by Moscow.

Truce with Lithuania


Ivan III concludes a truce with Lithuania and marries his daughter Elena, to Alexander. Ivan enters 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 enters Swedish Finland. In September three Russian armies from Moscow, Pskov, and Novgorod attack Vyborg. The commander is Prince Daniel V. Shchenya. After a three-month siege using cannon against the walls, a breach is made, but the attack is repulsed. On 4 December, the siege is lifted. The Swedish king, Sten Sture, sails from Sweden with a relief army on 25 November, but by the time he reaches Turku, the siege is over. Ivan sends 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 shifts into eastern Finland and by February 1496, it reaches Aby (Turku). The Swedes move out to meet the Russians, but the Russians retire, being content to burn and destroy. On 6 March 1496 the Russians return to Novgorod.(31)


In the spring, a third Russian invasion is launched into northern Finland with units from Ustyug and the northern Dvina area. They cross the White Sea to the Kola Peninsula and then move to the north of the Gulf of Bothnia and capture many people and ruin the area. By July, they reach the towns near Vyborg and burn them. The Russians then return to Moscow.

Swedish sack of Ivangorod

Sten Sture decides to use his 40,000-man army to retaliate, choosing Ivangorod as the target. On 19 August 1496, the Swedes surprise 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 sack the town and kill or take the people prisoner. The Swedes leave before Russian relief forces can arrive. In August, the Russian army prepares to attack Sweden. Many generals are called to the colors, including Daniel V. Shchenya, who is designated commander-in-chief. He receives four polki, the Great, Leading, Right and Left, but the army does not enter battle as news from Kazan arrives in September 1496, indicating that a coup has just occurred. The units are withdrawn for use in the east.(32)


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

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

In Moscow during November and December 1496, Ivan prepares for a spring campaign to Kazan. He appoints Prince Semen I. Ryapolovsky to command the river army and Prince V. I. Patrikeev to command the cavalry army. The plan is to leave in April 1497, but in early 1497 Ivan learns of Kazan's request, therefore he disbands the army and sends Abd-al-Latif with two generals, Semen D. Kholmsky and Fedor I. Paletisky, to Kazan, which they reach in May. Mehemmed receives rich lands near Serpukhov and the dues and taxes of the area, so Mengli Gerei and Nur Sultan are satisfied with Ivan's solution of the problem. But Abd-al-Latif turns out to be just as unpopular in Kazan as Mehemmed had been. After 1497 the Kazan rulers are unreliable, but a show of force is sufficient to keep things in order there. The Russian army is well equipped and trained for action at Kazan.(33)


In March the Russian and Swedish governments sign a six-year truce. In July King Hans of Denmark invades Sweden with 30,000 men and defeats Sten Sture. In November Hans becomes King of Sweden, but he refuses 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 begins in 1497. The Lithuanians are forced out of the war by Ivan and Mengli Gerei and after that send only a part of their army to help the Poles. In August the Poles invade Moldavia but are unable to capture Suceava and are defeated by King Stephen in Bukovina. During the winter of 1497-8 Alexander sends the Lithuanian army against the Tatars at Tyaginka but the Lithuanians lose the battle and retreat.(34)


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


Ivan sends 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 chase the Siberians away. Meanwhile, Ivan sends troops to threaten the Swedish border. He also agrees with Mengli Gerei on a division of the Ukraine, with Ivan to get Kiev and Cherkass.(35)

War against Lithuania


Ivan III is now ready for his war on Lithuania, having made careful and extensive preparations. His allies are 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 is the religious persecution of the Orthodox population of Lithuanians including Ivan's daughter, Elena. Semen Ivanovich Bel'sky and other leading nobles change sides in favor of Ivan in 1500, just in time to be on the right side. The first campaign is carefully planned and carried out smoothly as a three--sided attack.(36) The first army under Yakov Zakharevich Zakharin moves 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 marchs west from the central area to capture Dorogobuzh on the Smolensk road without a battle. The third army is in reserve in the north and then moves to capture Toropets.

Alexander concentrates on defending Smolensk. Ivan sends reinforcements from Tver and shifts part of the southern army to the center. He names Daniel Shchenya to be the new central commander and assigns some southern princes to the central great polk. Yuri Zahkarin receives command of the guard polk at which he complains about being demoted. This is an example of Mestnichestvo in practice.(37) Daniel Shchenya is one of the ablest generals of the period, a descendent of Gedymin. He becomes the leader of the Boyar Duma under Vasilii III.(38) But, according to Mestnichestvo, Yuri Zakharin outranked him, therefore Ivan has to make special provision for this assignment. On 14 July at the river Vedrosha, Shchenya wins a long and bloody battle over the Lithuanian army commanded by Ostrozhsky. The Lithuanian army is destroyed, its commander and many officers captured, but the Russians also have heavy losses and do not try to take Smolensk.(39)

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


In the spring, the Horde moves west from the Volga and unites its forces at the junction of the Don and Medveditsa Rivers under Akhmet's two sons, Sheykh and Seyyid. They are planning to join Alexander with 20,000 Tatars, so they move on up the Don to the Tikhaya Sosna River. In June they build a fortress as a base of operations. By April, Mengli Gerei is already worried about the Horde. He had sent troops against Lithuania, but now he thinks the Horde is preparing to attack Crimea, so he withdraws from Lithuania and moves to meet the Horde. Then he finds out that they are moving against Moscow, so he decides to let Ivan do the fighting. He sends Ivan word of the Horde and asks for 1,000 men and cannon in boats on the Don and for 10,000 cavalry. In July Mengli reaches the Tikhaya Sosna and finds the fortress on the west bank. He builds a fort on the east bank and then, after a skirmish with the Horde, takes his 25,000 men back to the Crimea. Ivan sends an army south before he hears of Mengli's departure. The Muscovite commanders are Mehemmed Amin and Prince Vasili Nozdrovaty. Besides their own troops, they have the armies of Nur Devlet and the Riazan princes. They sail down the Don and find both forts empty. Sheykh Ahmed has already moved on to Rylsk and Mengli is back in Crimea.

On 1 August the Muscovite first army moves north, enters Pskov and waits three weeks for the Livonian attack. Then on 22-24 August, both Moscow and Pskov armies set out to meet the Livonians, who are commanded by Von Plettenberg. On 27 August the battle takes place on the Serika River, 7 miles from Isborsk. The German artillery overcomes the Russians who had been doing well until the artillery opened fire. It is a major defeat for the Russians, who flee to Pskov. The Livonians then besiege Izborsk with artillery, but can not capture the town. They do capture Ostrov, 30 miles from Pskov, and ravage the area, destroying the town and taking many prisoners. On 8 September the Livonians return home.

By August Sheykh Ahmed is on the border near the Seym River. Moscow sends additional forces south and engages them in a series of battles into October. Ivan asks the Crimeans for help but receives no reply. However, the Muscovite armies are successful in driving the Horde Tatars off and by November have moved on to the Smolensk front. The Horde shifts to the upper Donets for the winter. By this time, the Horde army is in very poor condition, morale is poor, and shortages of fodder and food are increasing, causing many desertions. In December Sheykh Ahmed asks Ivan for peace and Seyyid Ahmed asks for asylum. In December the Nogais also asks for peace.(40)


There are two Crimean invasions of Lithuania that penetrate deep into the country, bringing much destruction. The first army reaches the Vistula River, Lvov, and Lublin and then returns in July. Then in August the second expedition of 15,000 Tatars reaches Brest and western Poland beyond the Vistula. In August Ivan asks Mengli for a joint campaign against Smolensk. Mengli prefers a joint action against Kiev, therefore the result is that no combined actions take place.(41) The same year Alexander manages to get an agreement with the Great Horde in November in which they undertake to block the Crimeans.


Alexander becomes King of Poland on the death of his brother, Jan Albrecht. His plan for 1501 is to have the Nogai Tatars attack Kazan and the Livonian Order attack Pskov to keep Moscow busy, while a Lithuanian and Great Horde army attack the Seversk region to recapture the lost towns. Alexander holds the initiative in 1501, putting Ivan on the defensive. Alexander plans and times his moves well but executes them poorly. Ivan's caution in not rushing on Smolensk in 1500 is fully justified.(42) Ivan plans to launch another three-army attack on Smolensk and a Tatar raid in the Lithuanian rear areas. The Livonian Order attacks Ivangorod in March with a small raiding party. Moscow expects further attacks and prepares defenses and alerts troops. They remain in waiting all summer.

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

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

The Muscovite reaction to the Livonian attack comes in November. A large army assembles under the most experienced of all the voevodi, Prince Daniel V. Shchenya, plus other good generals. The huge army includes troops from Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov, Tver, and the Tatar Tsar and his men. The Livonian main force is at Dorpat and Helmed. On 24 November the Russians attack. The German artillery is effective, but the huge Russian force overwhelms them. The German army disintegrates, after which the Russians destroy the towns of eastern Livonia, even up to Revel and Narva. In all, about 40,000 people are killed or captured, but no territory is taken.(43)


The strategic initiative again shifts to Moscow. All the Muscovite efforts focus on the capture of Smolensk. Even Polotsk and Kiev are ignored, but Ivan fails and thus has a major setback. In the spring, the remanent of the Horde leaves winter quarters and moves west to the Dnieper north of Kiev. The Sultan has ordered them to cross the Dnieper, but Sheykh refuses, as he would have found too much danger west of the Dnieper. The Horde then moves south on the Dnieper to the mouth of the Sula River. Sheykh murders the Turkish envoy to the Horde. Mengli Gerei sets out after the Horde in May and catches it on 6 June. The Horde is destroyed but Sheykh Ahmed escapes, only to be captured by Lithuania and used unsuccessfully in various threats against Crimea.

The Russian order of battle for 1502 gives nominal command to Ivan's third son, 21 year old Dmitri. The real commanders are the experienced generals, Princes Vasilii D. Kholmsky and Yakov Zakharin. There are also 13 other princes, including the Mozharysky, Shemyachich, Bel'ski, Byazanski, Rostovski, etc. The commander of the lead polk is Prince S. I. Starodubski; commander of the right polk is Prince Fedor B. Polotaky; commander of the left polk is Prince F. I. Ryazanski; and commander of the guard polk is Ivan Borosovich. The campaign begins on 14 July and lasts 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 are in reserve in case Alexander moves to Smolensk with a relief army. The Russians raid the area and sack Orsha but Smolensk holds fast. Ivan asks for the aid of the Crimeans and Mengli sends his army under command of his sons, Feti Gerei and Burnash Gerei. The Crimeans leave on 28 July with 90,000 men but despite Ivan's requests, march far to the west and do not help at Smolensk. They cross the Dnieper at Tavan and in August camp near the Dnieper. In September they march against for Poland. This is one of the largest and most widespread of Mengli's attacks. The main target is Volhynia and Galicia. The Tatars attack L'vov, Lublin, Bratslav, and beyond Cracow and arrive home on 8 November with large numbers of prisoners. They claim the area toward Smolensk was too wooded and dangerous of ambushes for their huge army. The Tatar attack does deter Alexander from going to Smolensk, so it saved Ivan the trouble of sending in his reserves. Alexander has to send 30,000 men to Lutsk to defend it from the Crimeans, and the Tatars also keep the Polish troops busy, but there are no major battles in the raid. The Russian army in the north, in the Novgorod area, is unable to help at Smolensk. In spite of Shchenya's successful campaign of 1501 and the destruction of the German army, the Germans prepare another army and start a campaign in March 1502. The Livonian Order attacks Ivangorod and then raids the southern part of Pskov land. This ties down a large Russian force all summer. On 2 September during the siege of Smolensk, the Germans (Livonians) attack Izborsk for a day and then begin a siege of Pskov on 6 September. The same Muscovite army as in 1501 comes from Novgorod under command of Shchenya. The Germans retreat but Shchenya moves fast and catches them in 11 days from the start of his campaign at Lake Smolino. The Teutonic Knights are commanded by Master von Plettenberg. The battle is indecisive; both sides, losing heavily, withdraw. The Germans claim a small victory. Strategically, Alexander is the victor because Von Plettenburg has held a very large Russian force inactive with his small one, and Livonia is kept out of Russian hands.

In December the armies are ready again for war. Three Russian armies advance 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 shows no gains for Ivan despite his careful plans. Stephen of Moldavia invades Poland in the summer of 1502 and occupies part of Pokute province. By the end of the year Alexander is ready for peace. A truce is signed on 25 March 1503, confirming the Muscovite gains in the war. Ivan consideres the truce merely a rest period to prepare for the next war, and he tries to keep the Crimeans active during the truce period.(44)


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

However, Khan Mohemmed Amin of Kazan revolts and massacres many Russians living in the area in 1504. In September the Kazan Tatars attack Nizhni Novgorod.


Ivan III dies and is succeeded by his son, Vasilii III.


In the spring Vasilii III sends his armies to conquer Kazan, but the Russians suffer two defeats and fail in their mission.(45)


Mohammed Amin returns the Russians he held prisoner and signs a treaty of friendship.


The autonomy of Pskov is an obstacle to the centralization of the Russian army and judicial administration. The town is bound by treaty to help Moscow, but it does so only conditionally and reluctantly. Even on campaign, the Pskov army is a separate unit. Vasilii III isolates Pskov the same way his father had isolated Novgorod and then foments internal discord in the town. Finally, he tricks the nobles into assembling to meet him, then arrests and deports them. He removes 300 boyar families and 6,500 middle class citizens and replaces them with his Muscovite followers, including a garrison of 1,000 deti-boyarski and 500 pishchalniki from Novgorod.(46)


Vasilii's brother, Prince Simeon, attempts to revolt but is apprehended.(47)


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 are no longer so interested in the alliance. Moreover, Vasilii III instead of actively pursuing the alliance is too miserly to give the accustomed presents to the Tatars. Therefore, in 1512 Mengli Gerei changes sides and allies himself with Lithuania. This begins the long bitter struggle between Moscow and Crimea that lasts until the annexation of the Crimea by Catherine II.(48)

Campaign against Lithuania


Vasilii renews the war with Lithuania by sending Prince Daniel Shchenya with an army to seize Smolensk, which he does after a fierce artillery bombardment. Vasilii appoints 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 defeat the Russian army at the Orsha River. Even so, the Russians manage to keep Smolensk. The skirmishes continue until 1522.(49)


The Crimean Tatar Khan raids Moscow. The Starosta of Cherkassy, Ostafi Dashkevich, leads Cossacks to help the Tatars by seizing Chernigov and Novgorod-in-Severia, but he does not take the towns.(50) This break with Crimea and the troubles with Kazan the same year require Moscow to improve the border defense system. In the spring troops go on "shore duty" along the Oka River. Fortresses built during the early 1500's include Zaraisk, Tula, and Kaluga. Cossack companies were settled south of the Oka line. Vasilii III tries to obtain help from the Nogai and from Astrakhan but without much success.(51)


The Khan of Kazan, Mehemmed Amin, dies and Vasilii sends Shah Ali, Mehemmed's brother, to be the new Khan. Kazan agrees, but then under Crimean influence, revolts and invites Sahib Gerei, the Crimean Khan's brother, to be the new Khan of Kazan.


Shah Ali returns to Moscow and Sahib Gerei kills or enslaves the Russians residing in Kazan.

The Crimean Khan, Mehemmed Gerei, (Mengli's son) launches a major attack on Muscovy, reaching the suburbs of Moscow during the summer. He receives aid from Lithuania and from the Starosta of Cherkassy, Ostafi Dashkevich, who raids Severia with the Ukraine Cossacks. Vasilii III retires to Volok "to get more troops," leaving Moscow under the command of the Tatar prince, Peter, husband of Vasilii's sister, Evdokia. Peter sends presents to bribe Khan Mehemmed who retires with much booty. Moscow annexes Riazan during this year when the last duke, Ivan VI, is accused of negotiating with Mehemmed Gerei and flees to Lithuania during the Tatar raid. The Riazantsi are deported and replaced with Muscovites.(52)


Vasilii builds 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.(53)


Vasilii III marries 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 agree to let Vasilii appoint a new Khan, so he sends Yan Ali, the Tsarivich of Kasimov and brother of Shah Ali. This restores Moscow's suzerainty over Kazan.(54) Vasilii dies in 1533, leaving the throne to his infant son, Ivan IV.


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

During this war, the Crimean Khan, Saip Gerei, tries to capture Kazan and Astrakhan. The struggle between the rival Tatar leaders results in the plunder of large areas. Saip is murdered, and a new Khan is appointed.


The Italian architect, Peter Priazin, lays the stone foundations for the new Moscow wall on 16 May 1535. Elena continues the program of Vasilii III of building frontier fortresses.(55)


When the new Crimean Khan, Saip Gerei, is preparing to invade Muscovy, Prince Andrei, Ivan IV's uncle, refuses to send his army to help defend Moscow. Elena sends her lover, Obolensky, and two armies to capture Andrei. Andrei's army loses, but he escapes to Novgorod from which he later surrenders and dies in prison.


King Sigismund of Poland asks for peace. The Muscovite army, freed from war in the west, marchs east to control the Tatars.(56)


Elena dies, possibly of poison. Obolensky and others are killed and Vasilii Shuisky and his brother, Ivan, become regents for the seven--year--old Ivan IV.

The Kazan Tatars conduct raids in 1538.


Khan Safa Gerei advances from Kazan but meets resistance from the Russian army led by Ivan Shuiski. Then, Saip Gerei and a combined Tatar and Turkish army move up the Don River. The Russian scouts report that the Tatar army stretched beyond the horizon. Moscow prepares for a siege. All the boyars unite, even putting aside Mestnichestvo to serve under the best commanders.(57)


On 31 July the Tatar Khan reaches the Oka River. The Muscovite advance guard polk stands on the opposite bank where it is mistaken for the whole Russian army. The Tatars prepare to cross under cover of a heavy artillery bombardment opened by the Turkish artillerists. Then the rest of the Muscovite army arrives. The Khan, realizing he had a major battle to fight if he wanted to cross the river, follows the usual Tatar practice and retreats.(58)


In April the 15 year old Ivan IV proclaims a campaign against Kazan. The army moves by barge and by land, winning several minor victories on the way. In Kazan an internal struggle resultes in Safa Gerei's exile in June. The Muscovite commander, Boyar Dmitri Bel'sky, installes a new Khan; but when Bel'sky leaves, Safa Gerei regains Kazan.(59)


Ivan proclaims another campaign against Kazan. The army sets out in January 1548, but the Volga ice breaks up unexpectedly and many men and cannon are lost. Ivan waits for a new freeze, but in vain; therefore, he returns to Moscow.


Ivan started again in the winter of 1549-50. The army reached Kazan on 14 February 1550 despite great hardships in the cold. 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.(60)

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. 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 Strel'tsy 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.(61)


Ivan sent the ex-Khan of Kazan, Shig Alei, with 500 Tatars and Moscow troops to Kruglaia hill at the mouth of the Sviiaza River to build a new fort. Prince Peter Obolenskii went with troops from Nizhnii Novgorod to supervise this project. The main army arrived on 14 May and quickly completed the new town of Sviiazhsk, 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. 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.(62)

Campaign against Kazan


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 Sviiazhsk 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 the voevoda, Mikulinskii, had defeated the Mordvins and Chuvash. On 15 August Ivan crossed the Volga and sent a demand for surrender to Kazan. He reached the city on 2 August and began the siege on the 23d. 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. Defending Kazan 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.(63)

The first action was a sortie of 15,000 Tatars that expended its full force on the strel'tsy, forcing them to retreat. Ivan ordered deti boiarskie reinforcements forward, and the strel'tsy 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 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 Kazantsii shot them with arrows 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 Kurbskii 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 and mounted guns on them, 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 Kurbskii caught and held them until a large Russian force, under the command of Princes Mikulinskii, Glinskii, and Sheremetev could come up and kill them. The Russians killed or wounded 5,000 Tatars. Ivan received Khan Ediger as his prisoner and gave a formal thanksgiving service.

On 11 October he started for Moscow, having appointed Alexander Gorbatyi and Vasilii Serebrianyi 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 strel'tsy garrison. The rest of the army, being the feudal levy, had to return home, as usual.(64)


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 Mikulinskii, Ivan Sheremetev, and Andrei Kurbskii 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 Kurbskii fought 20 major engagements during the year to suppress the Cheremish and other rebels around Kazan.(65)

Conquest of Astrakhan


In the spring the Russian army sailed down the Volga to Astrakhan. Prince Iurii Pronskii-Shemiakin had 30,000 Muscovite troops plus the troops of Viatka under Viazemskii and the Nogai Tatars. They routed Khan Yamgurchei's army and installed Derbysh as Tsar of Astrakhan.(66)


Yamgurchei, with some Nogais, Crimeans, and Turkish Janissaries tried to retake Astrakhan. 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. The 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 conceal his war preparations, and in June he neared Tula with his army. Ivan sent Prince Ivan Mstislavskii 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 again.(67)


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 (clerk) Szhevskii, with Putivl Cossacks as guides, went down the Dnieper to Ochakov on the Black Sea. The Starosta of Cherkasy, Prince Dmitrii Vishnevetskii, 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 Vishnevetskii decided to build a fort on the Dnieper (Zaporozhie) on Khortitsa Island to control the Cossacks. He completed the fort in the summer of 1556 and successfully defended it from the immediate Tatar attacks. Prince Vishnevetskii 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 the Oka as a base of operations.(68)

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. 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, dvoriane and deti boiarskie, supported war in the west as a means to obtain pomestie land.(69)

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 Teutonic Knights asking him to submit to Ivan. During the cease fire, the Livonians from Narva attacked Ivangorod, so Ivan ordered the capture of Narva.

In January, Prince Vishnevetskii with Russian Cossacks and strel'tsy, 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 at a short distance by the three Russian polki on "shore duty."

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

Meanwhile, the Russians captured Narva on 11 May 1558 and then invaded Livonia, destroying or capturing many other towns. The Grandmaster, von Furstenburg, was old and unfit for campaigning. He therefore resigned the office and the knights elected Gottgard Kettler as the new Grandmaster. In July Prince Peter Shuiskii, 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 Vishnevetskii conducted a second, larger raid on Perekop.(70)


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.(71) 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 Vishnevetskii 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. Veshniakov joined to strengthen Prince Vishnevetskii'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 Vishnevetskii 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 Vishnevetskii intercepted the Nogais headed for Crimea and defeated them. Adashev then embarked his men in boats, captured two Turkish ships, landed in Crimea, damaged two 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 Kalmusskii 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 had passed and released the main voevoda, Prince I. D. Bel'skii, from service on the 23d.

In April Ivan, via the mediation of the King of Denmark, had granted a six--month truce to Livonia. Kettler used this time to negotiate 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.(72)


Lithuania-Poland asked Ivan to stop the war in Livonia, but he refused. The commander of the army in Livonia was Daniel Adashev. Prince Kurbskii 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. Vorotynskii. After the departure of the main voevoda, they received the news of the advance of 3,000 Tatars led by Divea Murza on Ryl'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. The Tatars did attack Temnikovski later in the year.(73)

Sweden and Poland Transform The 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 Crimean Tatars preferred not to come under such direct Turkish control, so they alerted the Russians about these plans.(74)


King Sigismund II Augustus made an extra effort to obtain Tatar help. Moscow heard of the Tatar--Polish plans and sent several polki to the "shore." Prince Vladimir Andreevich and Princes M. and A. Vorotynskii marched to Serpukhov while the Tsar himself went to Mozhaisk on the 21st of May. On the 28th of May, Prince A. M. Kurbskii 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. Vorotynskii followed them to Kolomna and Merchik, but did not catch them.

In September the Tsar returned to Moscow. 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.(75)


After a two--week siege, Polotsk surrendered to Ivan's strong army. Ivan appointed three voevody for the army: Peter Shuiskii, Vasilii Serebrianyi, and Peter Serebrianyi. He left Prince Obolenskii 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 Peremyshl', 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.(76)


The Lithuanian army under Nikolai Rudy defeated the Muscovites under Prince Petr I. Shuiskii, who was killed, at Chashniki on the Ulla River near Polotsk in January 1564. An army of 40,000 Poles defeated Prince Kurbskii's 15,000 Russians near Nevel north of Vitebsk. 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 Kurbskii, now a defector, persuaded King Sigismund to bribe the Khan to attack Riazan with 60,000 Tatars. Kurbskii 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 boiarskie 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 first 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 voevody 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.(77)


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 later.

In the spring, during Lent, Prince Kurbskii led a Lithuanian raid on Velikie 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 Ottoman 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'skii and I. F. Mstislavskii and the boyars moved south. The Main Polk and the Left Polk were in Kolomna, the Right Polk was in Kashira, the Guard (Storozhevoi) Polk in Serepukov, and the Lead polk was in Kaluga. On 19 May they received word of the Tatar movement toward the Muravskii Trail. This caused all "shore service" units to be called into active service and hastily posted by the voevody 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 Kamenskii ford and on the upper Tora River and of movement for two days across the Sabinskii ferry on the Donets River on the Izumskii Road. Beginning in October, Devlet Gerei himself arrived in Volkhov. The voevody 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.(78)


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, Bolkhov, 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.(79)


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 Kashira. 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 Severskii lands by Izmail Murza.(80)


There are indications that there was a Tatar raid by Devlet Gerei's sons toward Moscow and that there were polki at Kaluga.(81)


In the spring Sultan Selim mounted the campaign against Astrakhan. He had 17,000 Turks when he reached Kaffa 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.(82)


Ivan decided there was treason in Novgorod, so he conducted a 5--week torture of the town in January in which the chronicles say 60,000 people were killed. (The number is disputed by modern historians).

Armistice with Poland

Ivan agreed to an armistice with Poland to be ready for the Tatars. He made his vassal, Prince Magnus of Denmark, King of Livonia. Sweden was also at war with Poland and Denmark and sought alliance with Russia. Then the Swedes deposed Eric and 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 voevody 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 500-600 men under Mahmet and Algi Gerei appeared between the Mzh and Kolomna Rivers on the Muravskii Trail and approached Riazan and Kashira. 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 Psl' and Vorskla. The voevoda sent the news to Moscow from which the Tsar moved to Serpukhov. The Tatars advanced only to Novosil with 6-7,000 men.(83)


On 21 February 1571 an agreement on a new border service was accepted after long discussions with M. I. Vorotynskii, 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'skii, Ivan Mstislavskii, and Mikhail Vorotynskii at Kolomna, Kashira, and Serpukhov. Ivan was at Serpukhov with his Oprichniki army. Devlet Gerei finally penetrated the Oka line with 120,000 Tatars.(84) 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 could not 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.(85)


On 7 July King Sigismund Augustus died. The Polish kingship had been hereditary in practice in the Jagellon 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 Vorotynskii 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 Guard (Storozhevoi) at Kashira 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 Vorotynskii 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 Mirza 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 Vorotynskii's victory. He returned to Moscow, disbanded the Oprichnina, and prepared to invade Estonia.(86)


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 voevody of the border cities encountered him. Then the voevoda of the Main Polk at Serpukhov, Prince C. D. Pronskii, 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 Tsaritsyn.(87)


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. Serebrianyi, defended the area. The Kazan Tatars also raided near Nizhnii Novgorod. The Cossacks were also busy, capturing the suburbs of Azov and freeing many Russians.(88)


Mikhail Vorotynskii, 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 due to Ivan's torture. Ivan placed Prince Simeon Bekbulatovich on the throne as Tsar while Ivan lived outside the city. There were no Tatar raids in 1575.(89)


Tsar Ivan and his son were at Kaluga. Devlet Gerei began a campaign into Russia but the voevody on duty stopped him in August and captured Islam Kermin in the engagement. Ivan and the chief voevody then returned to Moscow leaving the second rank voevody in charge along the "shore" with deti boiarskie, strel'tsy, Don Cossacks, and Cherkassy forces in the usual polk distribution. In September the Tatars approached Novgorod Severskii 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.(90)

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, Tarusa, Kaluga, Kolomna, and Kashira 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.(91)


King Stefan 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 Vishnevetskii. This was the beginning of the "registered" Cossacks.(92) During the war of 1579-81, Mikhail Vishnevetskii 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.(93)

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.(94)

Poland Declares War


Stefan 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.(95)


King Stefan 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 Velikie 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 for minor operations that lasted through the winter. The Swedes invaded and captured Kexholm in Karelia, Padis in Estonia, 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.(96)

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 Cheremisy to tell them of the impending campaign against the Meshchersk and Riazan areas.(97)


The Nogai Horde made a large--scale attack on the right bank of the Volga and began a raid into Russia in the spring. Although only the Mursa, Tinbau, reached Muscovite lands with 8,000 men. The total party contained 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.

Stefan 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-Shuiskii and I. P. Shuiskii 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 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 Velikie Luki. The Swedes made serious attacks on Narva and captured it as well as Ivangorod, Iam, and Kopor'e.

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.(98)


The ambassador of 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.(99)

Armistice Between Poland and Moscow

1582 On 6 January Moscow and Poland agreed to a ten--year armistice. The siege of Pskov was not succeeding, so Stefan Batory decided to take his gains. Moscow lost the whole of Livonia plus Polotsk and Velizh. After the Livonian War's conclusion, Ivan could return to suppress the uprising in Kazan. In 1582 he made a large-- scale campaign to the east. He sent two polki to the Kama River region against the Nogai. In April the polki went down the Volga by boat to Kazin Island, and in October several other polki went against the Luga Cheremisy. Besides their participation in the Kazan uprising, the Great Nogai attacked the Moscow border.(100)

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 polki 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 Guard (Stroshovoi) at Orel.(101)


During the 1580s the Moscow government undertook to strengthen the southeastern border by building many fortified towns and strengthening the defenses of Kazan. The war in the Kazan area continued throughout 1583. A Muscovite campaign army stayed on the Volga, building forts such as Kazmodem Ianski Ostrog.(102)

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

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.(103) 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.(104)


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.(105)


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.(106)


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.(107)


Official peace with all neighbors was not broken by any recorded Tatar attacks.(108)

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.(109)

There was no Tatar attack in 1590. On the southern frontier, fortification work continued with the founding of Saratov and Sunzhenski Gorod.(110)


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.(111)

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.(112)

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.(113) 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 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.(114)

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.(115) 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.(116)

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.(117)

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.(118)

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.(119)

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.(120)


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.(121)


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.(122)


The frontier fortress town, Kursk, was founded in 1597. The next year Tsar Feodor died, childless. He was the last of the Rurikid princes The throne was taken by his brother-in-law, Boris Goudonov.


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.(123)

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.(124)


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.(125)


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.

1. Vernadsky, op.cit. p 200.

2. Vernadsky, op. cit. p. 196.

3. 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.

4. ibid. Vol III, p. 317.

5. Some authorities say that the Khanate was already in being under Mahmudek's father, Uleg Mahmed.

6. 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.

7. ibid. Vol III, p. 318-320. J Fennell, Ivan the Great of Moscow, New York, St. Martins, 1962, p. 14.

8. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol III, p. 331.

9. ibid. p. 329; and Fennell, op. cit. p. 14.

10. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. III p. 329-330, and Vol IV p. 43.

11. ibid. Vol IV p. 73.

12. Fennell, op. cit. p. 20; and Ian Grey, Ivan The Third And The Unification of Russia, The English University Press, London 1964, p. 80.

13. Fennell, op. cit. p. 20; and Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 73.

14. Fennell, op. cit. p. 21; and Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 81.

15. Fennell, op. cit. p. 23-27.

16. 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.

17. Fennell, op. cit. p. 67-68; and Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV. p. 73.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. This is the famous standoff on the Ugra that went into Russia history as the celebrated "throwing off the Tatar Yoke" by Ivan III.

21. Fennell, op. cit. p. 81.

22. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 80, 100.

23. Fennell, op. cit. p. 98; Vernadsky op. cit. Vol IV p. 82.

24. ibid.

25. Jaroslaw Pelenski, "Muscovite Imperial Claims to the Kazan Khanate" Slavic Review vol. XXVI no. 4, December 1967 p. 560-57

26. Fennell, op. cit. p. 99-101; Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 89.

27. Fennell, op. cit. p. 101-105.

28. ibid. p. 138.

29. ibid. p. 185.

30. 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.

31. Fennell, op. cit. p. 171; Vernadsky Vol IV p. 93. Fennell gives the Danish King's name and Vernadsky uses Hans.

32. Fennell op. cit. p. 174-178.

33. Vernadsky op. cit. vol IV p. 92; Fennell op. cit. p. 182.

34. Fennell, op. cit. p. 202; Grey, op. cit. p. 105.

35. Fennell, op. cit. p. 176, 183; Vernadsky op. cit. vol IV p. 94.

36. 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.

37. Fennell, op. cit. p. 214-222; Grey, op. cit. p. 121.

38. Vernadsky, op. cit. vol IV p. 138.

39. For a detailed account of the battle of Vedrosha see Razin op. cit. vol II p. 321.

40. Fennell, op. cit. p. 230-244; Grey, op. cit. p. 122-123.

41. Fennell, op. cit. p. 225.

42. ibid. p. 248.

43. Grey, op. cit. p. 64-65 and 126-128; Fennell, op. cit. p. 236-248.

44. Fennell, op. cit. p. 247-257.; Grey, op. cit. p. 132.

45. Ian Grey, Ivan the Terrible, Philadelphia, Lippencott, 1964, p. 167. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 140, 142.

46. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 143-145.

47. ibid. p. 155.

48. 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.

49. 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.

50. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 255.

51. ibid. p. 154; Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 168.

52. 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.

53. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 162.

54. 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.

55. Grey, Ivan the Terrible, p. 40.

56. ibid. p. 38, 47.

57. ibid. p. 49.

58. ibid.

59. ibid. p. 54.

60. Ibid., 92; Edward Keenan, "Muscovy and Kazan; Some Introductory Remarks on the Patterns of Steppe Diplomacy," Slavic Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, (December 1967), 553-557.

61. Ian Grey, Ivan the Terrible, 95; A. V. Chernov, in Vooruzhenie Sily Russkogo Gosudarstva v XV-XVII Veke, already footnoted, gives a detailed study of Ivan's military reforms. Ivan's need to seize church lands to reward his followers is similar to the same need experienced by Henry VIII in England about the same time.

62. Grey, Ivan the Terrible 94-96; A. M. Sakharov, Obrazovanie i Razvitie Rossiiskogo Gosudarstva v XIV-XVII Veke, (Formation and Development of the Russian State in the 14th-17th centuries), (Moscow, 1969), 99. The author explains that the fort at Svaiiazhsk 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 D. V. Pankov, Iz Istorii Russkogo voenno-inzhenernago Iskusstva, (History of Russian art of Military Engineering), pp. 29-31.

63. The strength figures given according to contemporary chronicles credit Ivan with 150,000 men and some Soviet writers accept them. However, we may be excused for cutting this number in half or less. On the other hand, if the number includes all the peasants, fishermen, and merchants who provided labor, transportation, and supplies along the way, then the larger figure may be closer to the truth.

64. This account of the siege of Kazan is given by Ian Grey in Ivan the Terrible, pp. 98, 99.

65. Ibid., 120, 151.

66. Ibid., 121.

67. Ibid., 122-3; George Vernadsky, The Tsardom of Moscow, 227.

68. Ibid.

69. Sakharov, op.cit., 103. For an account of the war see Razin, op.cit., 370-384.

70. Grey, Ivan the Terrible, 124, 131; Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 228. A. A. Novosel'skii, Borba Moskovskogo Gosudarstvo s Tatarami v XVII veke, (Struggle of the Muscovite State with the Tatars in the 17th century), Moscow: 1948, 427. This book is by far the best on the subject; unfortunately it only has information on the Russian--Tatar wars of the period 1558-1650.

71. 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.

72. Grey, Ivan the Terrible, 124; Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 229-30; Novosel'skii, op.cit., 427.

73. Novosel'skii, op.cit. 428; Grey, op.cit. 134; Sakharov, op.cit. 103. Ivan IV's wife died in this year. She was credited with being a restraining influence on him. Her death, which he considered to be by poison, and an attack on himself, led him to conduct extreme repressive measures.

74. Novosel'skii, op. cit., 428; Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 233; Grey, op.cit., 144.

75. Novosel'skii, op.cit., 428.

76. Ibid., 427; Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 236; Grey, op.cit., 145-6.

77. Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 237-240; Grey, op. cit., 152-161; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 428. For a Stalinist account of the military aspects of the oprichnina see R. Wipper, Ivan Grozny, translated by J. Fineberg, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947, 104.

78. Grey, op. cit., 163-4, 185-196; Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 240; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 429.

79. Novosel'skii, op. cit., 429.

80. Ibid.

81. Ibid.

82. Ibid., 430; Grey, op. cit., 197.

83. Grey, op. cit., 178-197; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 430.

84. The large number reported in the Russian chronicles seems exaggerated.

85. Grey, op. cit., 199-207; Chernov, op. cit., 72; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 430.

86. Grey, op. cit., 199-207; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 430.

87. Novosel'skii, op. cit., 430.

88. Ibid., 431.

89. Ibid; Grey, op. cit., 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, 186, 187). R. Wipper, op. cit., 250, notes that Bekbulatovich was Khan of Kazan, but does not point out the significance of this. Omeljan Pritsak has noted that Bekbulatovich, whom 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. Bekbulatovich had a long and distinguished career as a leading general in Ivan's army. Omeljan Pritsak, "Moscow, the Golden Horde, and the Kazan Khanate from a Polycultural Point of View," Slavic Review, XXVI, 4, (December 1967).

90. Grey, op. cit., 216-218; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 431.

91. Ibid.

92. Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 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.

93. Ibid.

94. Novosel'skii, op. cit., 431.

95. Grey, op. cit., 221; Sakharov, op. cit., 111; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 431.

96. Grey, op. cit., 223.

97. Novosel'skii, op. cit., 432.

98. Grey, op. cit., 224-225; Novosel'skii, op. cit., 432. For the Siege of Pskov, see Razin op. cit., 378-383.

99. Vernadsky, op. cit., IV, 257.

100. Novosel'skii, op. cit., 432.

101. Ibid., 44.

102. Ibid., 35, 432.

103. ibid. p. 432.

104. ibid. p. 432, 35.

105. ibid. p. 432; Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. V p. 202.

106. ibid.

107. ibid. p. 36, 432.

108. ibid. p. 433.

109. Razin, op.cit. Vol. III p. 50-51.

110. Novoselski, op.cit. p. 433.

111. Razin, op.cit. Vol. III p. 52.

112. 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.

113. The Tatar camp and observation post was on the hills now occupied by Lenin University.

114. Razin, op. cit. Vol. III p. 58. Novoselski, op.cit. p. 433.

115. T. N. and R. Ernest Dupuy The Encyclopedia of Military History, New York, Harper and Row, 1970, p. 504.

116. Novoselski, op.cit. p. 42.

117. ibid. p. 41.

118. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol. IV p. 263.

119. 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.

120. 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.

121. Razin, op. cit. vol III, p. 58; Novoselski, op. cit. p. 44.

122. Vernadsky, op. cit. vol IV, p. 263; Novoselski, op. cit. p. 43.

123. Vernadsky, op. cit. vol V, p. 208.

124. Vernadsky, op. cit. vol V, p. 208.

125. ibid. vol V. p. 209