- Russo-Kazan Wars
The Russo-Kazan Wars was a series of wars fought between the
Khanate of Kazanand Muscovite Russiain the 15th and 16th centuries, until Kazanwas finally captured by Ivan the Terrible and absorbed into Russia in 1552.
Wars of Vasily II
In 1438, a year after the khanate's foundation, the very first khan of Kazan,
Olug Moxammat, advanced on Moscowwith a large army. Vasily II of Moscowfled from his capital across the Volga River, but the Tatars refused to pursue the campaign and turned back to Kazan after devastating Kolomnaand the locality.
The campaign of 1445 was disastrous for Muscovy and had major repercussions in Russian politics. Hostilities broke out when khan
Maxmuttook the strategic fortress of Nizhny Novgorodand invaded Muscovy. Vasily II mustered an army and defeated the Tatars near Muromand Gorokhovets. Thinking the war over, he disbanded his forces and returned to Moscow in triumph, only to learn that the Tatars had besieged Nizhny Novgorod again.
A new army was mustered and marched towards
Suzdal, where they met the Russian generals who had surrendered Nizhny to the enemy after setting the fortress on fire. On 6 June, 1445the Russians and the Tatars clashed in the Battle of the Kamenka Rivernear the walls of St. Euphemius Monastery. The battle was a resounding success for the Tatars, who took Vasily II prisoner. It took fourteen months and an enormous ransom to salvage the monarch from captivity.
Wars of Ivan III
Qasim War (1467–1469)
A fragile peace was broken in 1467, when
Ivan III of Russiadecided to support his ally Qasim's claims to the Tatar throne and declared war on the ruling khan Ibrahim. Ivan's army sailed down the Volga, with their eyes fixed on Kazan, but autumn rains and rasputitsahindered the progress of Russian forces. When frosty winter came, the Russian generals launched an invasion of the northern VyatkaRegion. The campaign fell apart for lack of unity of purpose and military capability, but many atrocities were reported when the Russian army devastated Udmurtia.
The following year, the Russians set out from
Kotelnichin the Vyatka woods. They sailed down the Vyatka Riverand the Kama towards the Volga, pillaging merchant vessels on their way. In response, Ibrahim mounted a counter-offensive, overran Vyatka, and forced local inhabitants into subservience.
In 1469, a much stronger army was raised and, sailing down the Volga and the Oka, linked up in
Nizhny Novgorod. The Russians marched downstream and ravaged the neighbourhood of Kazanbut did not dare to lay siege to the Tatar capital, because Qasim's widow had pledged to negotiate an advantageous peace with Ibrahim (her son). In the meantime, the units from Yaroslavland Veliky Ustyugvainly attempted to win Vyatka to the Russian side. After negotiations were broken, the Tatars clashed with the Russians in two bloody but indecisive battles.
In autumn 1469 Ivan III launched a third invasion of the khanate. The Russian commander, Prince
Daniil Kholmsky, besieged Kazan, cut off water supplies and compelled Ibrahim to surrender. Under the terms of the peace settlement, the Tatars set free all the Russian prisoners they had captured in the forty previous years.
Siege of Kazan (1487)
The Vyatka Region remained the principal bone of contention between Kazan and Moscow for decades to come. In 1478, shortly before his death, Ibrahim devastated the region. In revenge, Ivan III sent his generals to sack the neighbourhood of Kazan. At that time Ibrahim died and was succeeded by
Ilham, whilst his brother Moxammat Aminfled to Moscow. Ivan III allowed him to settle in Kashiraand pledged his support for Moxammat's claims to the Tatar throne.
It was not before 1487 that Ivan found it prudent to intervene into Kazan affairs and to replace Ilham with Moxammat Amin. Prince Kholmsky sailed down the Volga from Nizhny Novgorod and laid siege to Kazan on
18 May. The city fell to the Russians on 9 June. Ilham was sent in chains to Moscow before being imprisoned in Vologda, while Moxammat Amin was proclaimed the new khan. In reference to this victorious campaign, Ivan III proclaimed himself "Lord of Volga Bulgaria".
Battles of Arsk Field (1506)
The last war of Ivan's reign was instigated by Ilham's widow, who married Moxammat Amin and persuaded him to assert his independence from Moscow in 1505. The rebellion broke out into the open on Saint John's Day, when the Tatars massacred Russian merchants and envoys present at the annual Kazan Fair. A huge army of the Kazan and
Nogai Tatarsthen advanced towards Nizhny Novgorod and besieged the city. The affair was decided by 300 Lithuanian archers, who had been captured by Russians in the Battle of Vedroshaand lived in Nizhny in captivity. They managed to put the Tatar vanguard into disarray: the khan's brother-in-law was killed in action and the horde retreated.
Ivan's death prevented hostilities from being renewed until May 1506, when Prince
Fyodor Belskyled Russian forces against Kazan. After the Tatar cavalry attacked his rear, many Russians took flight or drowned in the Foul Lake (22 May). Prince Vasily Kholmskywas sent to relieve Belsky and defeated the khan on ArskField on June 22. Moxammat Amin withdrew to the Arsk Tower but, when the Russians started to celebrate their victory, ventured out and inflicted an excruciating defeat on them (June 25). Although it was the most brilliant Tatar victory in decades, Moxammat Amin — for some reason not clearly understood — resolved to sue for peace and paid homage to Ivan's successor, Vasily III of Russia.
Wars of Vasily III
A new massacre of Russian merchants and envoys residing in Kazan took place in 1521. Vasily III was so enraged that he forbade his subjects to visit the Kazan Fair again. Instead, the famous
Makariev Fairwas inaugurated downstream from Nizhny Novgorod, an establishment which undermined the economical prosperity of Kazan, thus contributing to its eventual downfall.
One year later, Prince
Ivan Belskyled the 150,000-strong Russian army against the Tatar capital. This campaign is described in detail by a foreign witness, Herberstein. Belsky's huge army spent 20 days encamped on an island opposite Kazan, awaiting the arrival of Russian cavalrymen. Then news came that part of the cavalry had been defeated, and the vessels loaded with provisions had been captured by the Tatars. Although the army suffered from hunger, Belsky at once laid siege to the city and soon the Tatars sent their envoys proposing terms. Belsky accepted them and speedily returned to Moscow.
Prince Belsky returned to the walls of Kazan in July 1530. The khan had fortified his capital and built a new wall, yet the Russians set the city ablaze, massacring many inhabitants (according to Russian chronicles) and causing their enemy,
Safa Giray, to withdraw to Arsk. The Tatars sued for peace, promising to accept any khan appointed from Moscow. The tsar put Canghali, Shahgali's younger brother on the throne. He was murdered by the anti-Russian faction in 1535.
Russian chronicles record about forty attacks of Kazan khans on the Russian territories (mainly the regions of Nizhniy Novgorod, Murom, Vyatka, Vladimir, Kostroma, Galich) in the first half of the 16th century. Half of Kazan raids occurred in 1530s and 1540s. Besides 1521 most ruinous Kazan attacks occurred in 1522, 1533, 1537, 1538, 1539, 1540, 1541 [The Full Collection of the Russian Annals, vol.13, SPb, 1904]
Wars of Ivan IV
While Ivan IV was a minor, border skirmishes continued unabated, but the leaders of both powers were reluctant to commit their troops to open conflicts. In 1536, the Russians and Tatars were on the brink of a new war and met near
Lyskovo, but the battle was averted. Over the following years, the Crimean khan constructed an offensive alliance with Safa Girayof Kazan, his relative. When Safa Giray invaded Muscovyin December 1540, the Russians used Qasim Tatarsto contain him. After his advance was stalled near Murom, Safa Giray was forced to withdraw towards his own borders.
These reverses undermined Safa Giray's authority in Kazan. A pro-Russian party, represented by
Shahgali, gained enough popular support to usurp the throne more than once. In 1545, Ivan IV mounted an expedition to the Volga River, mainly in order to flex muscles and to show his support for pro-Russian factions. Little was achieved during the campaign of 1547-48 and the story was much the same for 1549-50.
In 1551, detailed schemes for the eventual conquest of
Kazanstarted to be aired. The tsar sent his envoy to the Nogai Hordeand they promised to maintain neutrality during the impending war. The Ar begsand Udmurtssubmitted to Russian authority as well. In 1551, the wooden fort of Sviyazhskwas transported down the Volga from Uglichall the way to Kazan. It was used as the Russian "place d'armes" during the decisive campaign of 1552.
Fall of Kazan (1552)
Siege of Kazan (1552).]
16 June, 1552Ivan IV led a 150,000-strong Russian army from Moscow towards Kolomna. They routed the Crimean Tatarsunder Devlet Giraynear Tulabefore turning to the east. The tsar pressed on towards Kazan until the last siege of the Tatar capital was commenced on 30 August. Under the supervision of Prince Alexander Gorbaty-Shuisky, the Russians used ram weapons, a battery-tower, mines, and 150 cannon. The Russians also had the advantage of efficient military engineers, such as Ivan Vyrodkovand the foreigner Rozmysl(Butler). The city's water supply was blocked and the walls were breached before the final storming of Kazan on 2 Octoberled to the city being taken, its fortifications razed, and much of the population massacred. The Kazan Chroniclereports about 110,000 killed, both civilians and garrison, and 60,000 - 100,000 Russians who had been kept captive in khanate released.
The fall of Kazan had as its primary effect the outright annexation of the Middle Volga. The
Bashkirsaccepted Ivan IV's authority two years later. As a result of the Kazan campaigns, Muscovy was transformed into the multinational and multi-faith state of Russia. The tsar celebrated his victory over Kazan by building several churches with oriental features, most famously Saint Basil's Cathedralon Red Squarein Moscow. The siege of Kazan is also the subject of the longest poem in Russian language, Mikhail Kheraskov's "Rossiada" (1771-79). Another scent of this event is a Russian phrase "Kazan orphan", left after the massacre of Kazan population.
After the fall of Kazan a
guerilla warstarted in the region. The uprising was suppressed. The Tsar responded with a policy of Christianizationand Russificationof his Tatar subjects and other indigenous peoples, which was not reversed until the reign of Catherine the Great. [TES|]
*Трофимов В. Поход на Казань, ее осада и взятие в 1552 г. Kazan, 1890.
*Коротов И.А. Иван Грозный. Военная деятельность. Moscow, 1952.
*Казанская история. Moscow-Leningrad, 1954.
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