King Władysław IV Waza (r. 1632-48) suffered from kidney stones and died suddenly of an overdose of medication on May 20, 1648. His half-brother Jan II Kazimierz (John II Casimir) Waza had the same father and was born by an Austrian mother on March 22, 1609. Sent to Vienna as an envoy in 1637, Jan joined the Austrian army and commanded Ukrainian Cossacks against the French. In 1638 he served in the Spanish navy, and the French held him captive for two years. After three years in Poland he went to Rome and became a cardinal. He was promoted by Chancellor Jerzy Ossolinski and his brother’s widow Marie-Louise Gonzaga. In November 1648 the Polish Sejm (Diet) elected him king, and he was crowned on January 17, 1649. Queen Marie-Louise grew up attending salons in Paris and learned from scientists, and he married her on May 30, 1649; but her great influence on him was resented. The royal court had about a hundred French, and a thousand lived in Warsaw. In 1649 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had more than 250,000 Jews, and this number would more than triple by the time of the census of 1764. They spoke Yiddish, which was influenced by Middle High German and then by Polish. Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s pogroms in 1648 and 1649 caused many Polish Jews to flee to western Poland.
King Jan II Kazimierz tried to reform the constitution but failed. Poland lost territory in the east and the south. Jeremi Wiśniowiecki commanded 15,000 regulars, but they withstood a siege at Zbarazh by 70,000 Cossacks and as many Tatars from July 10 to August 22, 1649. King Jan II led his army of 16,000 men to relieve them and fought the Cossacks and Tatars at Zboriv on August 15-17. Then Khmelnytsky accepted the agreement that increased the number of registered Cossacks to 40,000, though the szlachta (gentry) still dominated the others and the peasants in Ukraine. The agreement was not popular, and after the death of Ossolinski on August 9, 1650 the militant Wiśniowiecki party gained strength.
That year Krzysztof Opaliński published his Satires, or Warnings Related to the Reform of Government and Customs in Poland in which he criticized conditions, exposed abuses, and blamed the szlachta for exploiting the peasants and treating them poorly.
In 1651 peasants of Greater Poland led by Piotr Grzybowski and Wojciech Kolakowski joined with the Podhale mountaineers under Aleksander Kostka Napierski in armed revolt. The Polish army of 100,000 men crushed the Cossack-Tatar rebellion in Ukraine at Beresteczko on the last three days of June. The militia of the Bishop P. Gembicki of Krakow defeated the Podhale rebels in Czorsztyn, and Napierski and two others were executed. The Cossack register was reduced to 20,000. War had diminished grain exports from Danzig (Gdansk) from a high of 250,000 tonnes in 1618 down to 100,000 in 1651 after three years of Cossack battles and to 60,000 in 1653.
On March 9, 1652 Lithuanian deputy Władysław Sicinski used the liberum (free) veto for the first time. He blocked legislation and walked out because King Jan had not given Field-Hetman Janusz Radziwiłł the senior baton. The deputies dispersed, and taxes could not be collected until the next session. With this device any magnate or foreign ambassador could bribe one delegate to bring all business to a halt, and in the second decade of Jan II’s rule the free veto broke up five diets and provincial assemblies.
Fighting resumed in 1652, and King Jan II invaded the Cossacks again with an army of about 11,000 men, but some 25,000 mobile Cossacks and Tatars defeated them at Batih on June 2. The Tatars eventually withdrew, and on January 18, 1654 Bohdan Khmelnytsky agreed to the Pereyaslav compact with Muscovite Tsar Aleksei (r. 1645-76) who promised to protect those in Ukraine from Poland and the Turks. Soon 127,000 Cossacks and burghers in 117 Ukrainian cities swore to serve Aleksei who allowed the Cossacks to rule themselves.
However, the Tatars changed sides and helped Poland defeat the Russian and Ukrainian allies who had occupied Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine. The Cossacks advanced to Lwow, and in 1655 they seized Lublin and reached the Vistula River. On August 8 the Muscovite army attacked Wilno (Vilnius) and slaughtered about 20,000 inhabitants, and on the 25th a Russian army of 15,000 men defeated about 7,000 Lithuanians at Szepielewicze. Between 1648 and 1656 the number of Jews in Poland-Lithuania had decreased by nearly 100,000 from deaths and migration to Amsterdam and other places. During the war between Sweden and Russia after 1654 many Jews left Lithuania. Warsaw and other cities suffered epidemics in 1652-54, 1657-58, 1660-63, 1674-75, and 1677-79.
The “Deluge” of Poland began when Sweden’s King Karl X invaded Poland from two directions, landing at Riga on June 13, 1655. That month the Polish Sejm met but relied on the noble levy to finance armies. The Russians quickly formed an alliance with the Poles to fight the Swedes. Polish magnate Hieronim Radziejowski quarreled with King Jan II Kazimierz over the danger to Poland and fled to Stockholm. Other magnates in Greater Poland led by Krzysztof Opaliński financed 13,000 cavalry and 1,400 infantry; but they had to surrender to 14,000 Swedish veterans at Ujscie on July 25 as the Swedes occupied the territory. Also the magnate Boguslaw and Grand Hetman Janusz Radziwiłł surrendered Lithuania to the Swedish invaders. Warsaw capitulated on September 8, and Krakow, defended by Stefan Czarniecki, surrendered on October 13. Hetman Radziwiłł signed the Kejdany agreement on August 18 recognizing Sweden’s Karl Gustav X as King of Lithuania. Poland’s King Jan II fled to Silesia because many wanted to depose him and elect Karl X to rule Poland. Other nobles acknowledged Russia’s Aleksei as King of Lithuania.
Polish partisans attacked the occupying Swedish army in the fall. A confederation of szlachta met at Tyszowce in December in support of King Jan II Kazimierz. The Swedes had besieged the Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra in Częstochowa in November and December, angering many Poles. On December 29 Hetman Stanisław Potocki renounced his oath to Karl X and organized a confederation of nobles at Tyszowce to fight the Swedes. Jan Kazimierz returned in January 1656 and was welcomed by the szlachta. On April 1 he took an oath in the cathedral at Lwow to improve the condition of the serfs. On the 24th Great Hetman Paweł Jan Sapieha and 6,000 Lithuanians began the siege of Warsaw. The Polish army increased to nearly 60,000 men and reached Warsaw in the middle of May, and they were joined by more Lithuanians led by Jerzy Lubomirski on June 16. The combined siege and assaults regained Warsaw on June 30, but one month later an army of Swedes and Brandenburgers arrived and in three days of fighting defeated 40,000 men led by Jan Sobieski. In September in the battle at Gniew 5,500 Polish cavalry defeated 13,000 Swedish soldiers. On November 3 Russians made peace with Poland-Lithuania at Wilno (Vilnius), and Poland allied with the Austrian Empire on December 1.
Fausto Paolo Sozzini (Faustus Socinus or Faust Socyn in Polish) spent the last 25 years of his life in Poland before his death in 1604. His Unitarian views influenced the Arians, the Polish Brothers, the anti-Trinitarian Church of Transylvania, and the Racovian Catechism published in 1605. The Arian College of Leszno was endowed by the Leszczyński family, and the famous educator Comenius became rector there in 1620. Catholic soldiers burned the Leszno school and the library of Comenius in 1656.
In January 1657 György Rákóczi II of Transylvania with 40,000 troops invaded Poland, but without much Swedish support he was defeated at Miedzyboz on July 23 and was forced to withdraw. Tatars destroyed most of his retreating army, and Hetman Jerzy Lubomirski’s forces from Little Poland ravaged Transylvania.
King Jan II Kazimierz made peace with Denmark, and in a treaty at Wehlau signed on September 19 he persuaded Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm to break his alliance with Sweden in exchange for the Lauenburg and Bütow districts and the release of ducal Prussia from fealty to Poland. Then at Bromberg on November 6 Poland allied with Brandenburg against Sweden. Friedrich Wilhelm also promised Poland-Lithuania 1,500 infantry and 500 cavalry.
The Poles and Lithuanians lagged behind western Europe in technology and exported mostly raw materials along with some beer, rope, and cloth. They imported spices, rice, sugar, dyes, and silk. Tatars had taken thousands away into slavery, and Tsar Aleksei had removed many from Belarus to colonize Siberia. In the war Swedes had devastated crops and burned towns. During the 1650s the population of Poland-Lithuania had fallen by a quarter to less than the ten million they had in 1600. In that decade the urban population was reduced by 70% as most of Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, Lublin, and Wilno were destroyed. Taxes were raised by provinces, and financial centers were taxed very little as the gap between the rich and poor increased. King Jan II had little power and could not even promote the able Sarmatian warrior Stefan Czarniecki because Jerzy Lubomirski wanted the position. The Sejm (Diet) did not function well either. Sarmatian culture merged European baroque with eastern elements in Lithuania.
Arians were blamed for the Swedish invasion, and in 1658 the Sejm banished them. Bohdan Khmelnytsky had died on August 6, 1657, and at Hadziacz on September 16, 1658 the new Cossack Hetman Jan Wyhowski accepted the new duchy of Ruthenia which included the Ukrainian volyvodships of Kiev, Bracław, and Czernichów. Cossack representatives were allowed in the Sejm and Greek Orthodox bishops in the Senate, and on May 22, 1659 the Sejm ratified the treaty of Hadziacz that formed the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth. The duchy of Ruthenia had its own ministries, officers, and senators. Their hetman commanded an army of 30,000 Cossacks. The Greek Orthodox Church was given equal rights with the Catholic Church. The Sejm also agreed to impose taxes on the szlachta (gentry), but it proved difficult to implement.
Lithuania had been devastated by Swedish and Russian soldiers, but peasants helped Lithuanian Field Hetman Wincenty Gosiewski drive out the Swedes in 1659 and 1660. Finally the French mediated a peace treaty at Oliwa on May 3. Jan II Kazimierz gave up his claim to Sweden’s throne while the Swedes renounced territories they had acquired in Poland but kept most of Livonia.
Russians reacted by invading Ukraine, but an army of Cossacks, Poles, and Tatars crossed the Dnieper and defeated the Russian army by the Sosnówka River on July 8, 1660. Cossacks replaced their hetman Wyhowski with Yuri Khmelnytsky, and Prince Trubetskoy summoned a Cossack council at Perejaslawl where he claimed Ukraine under the protection of Russia with Khmelnytsky as hetman. While a Russian army marched toward Warsaw, Paweł Jan Sapieha and Stefan Czarniecki with 13,000 Lithuanians and Poles defeated about 8,500 Russians led by Ivan Khovansky at Polonka on June 29, 1660. Poland’s army defeated Khmelnytsky’s forces in Ukraine at Chudnov, and he surrendered to King Jan II on October 17. Vasily Sheremetev, having lost the Cossacks, in the name of the Tsar gave back to the Polish Commonwealth conquered territory and renounced the protectorate over the Cossacks. The Russian army was disarmed, and the Tatars kept Sheremetev, his staff, and many captives as hostages. King Jan II appointed Yuri Khmelnytsky hetman, and he led the fight against Russians until he was defeated and resigned in the fall of 1662 to enter the Mharsky monastery. He was replaced by Paul Tetera who helped King Jan until he resigned. His successor Petro Doroshenko negotiated with the Tatars and allied with the Turks.
In the 1660s two different coins were minted by Boratini and Tymff, but both were so debased that soon they were worth little. Krzysztof’s brother Łukasz de Bnin Opaliński was a poet and also wrote on politics and religion, and he was one of the founders of the Polish Mercury, the first newspaper in Polish with some Latin from January 3 to May 4, 1661 at Krakow and then at Warsaw from May 14 to July 22 for a total of 41 issues. At the Sejm of 1661 and 1662 reform bills were defeated by the magnates Jerzy Lubomirski, Jan Leszczyriski, and Krzysztof Grzymultowski. Marshal Lubomirski had financial connections in Vienna, rallied unpaid soldiers, and led a rebellion in 1665, and at Mątwy on July 13, 1666 about 15,000 rebels defeated 20,000 royal troops led by Jan Sobieski. Lubomirski was reconciled with King Jan II at Łęgonice on July 31 when the monarch agreed to the election of his successor while he was still alive. Poland experienced unusually cold weather 1664-67 with 109 days of frost in the winter of 1666-67.
In the treaty of Andruszowo on February 9, 1667 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia agreed on a truce until 1680 to prepare for perpetual peace, and they divided Ukraine between them with Poland-Lithuania getting Belarus with Vitebstk, Polotsk, and Dzwinsk while Russia was given Smolensk, Seversk, and Czernichów which in 1686 was made permanent for 146,000 rubles. They shared responsibility for the Zaporizhian Sich, and both promised to defend against the Ottoman Empire. They agreed on free trade, and Russia was to pay Poland-Lithuania one million zloty (200,000 rubles) for western Ukraine.
Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga, who had supported the election of the Duke d’Enghien and the Great Condé, died on May 10, 1667. During an inactive era Hetman Jan Sobieski with little support tried to police the Tatars who were ravaging Ukraine. He managed to defeat their much larger Tatar army at Podhajce in eleven days in October, and he was promoted to the highest office of Grant Hetman. In 1668 abandoning the Catholic religion was made a capital offense. That year the arable land lying fallow was 68% in szlachta estates, 82% of Church land, and 86% of royal land.
Christian Ludwig Kalkstein-Stolinski became a Prussian general and in 1667 inherited his father’s estate. His brother accused him of plotting to overthrow Duke Friedrich Wilhelm who commuted his sentence to a 5,000 thaler fine and two years in exile. Kalkstein went to Warsaw and cooperated with Vice Chancellor Bishop Andrzej Olszowski to help Poland take over Prussia. However, Friedrich Wilhelm had him abducted, imprisoned, and executed in 1672.
Meanwhile grieving Jan II Kazimierz abdicated on September 16, 1668. He went to France and spent the last four years of his life as the Abbot of St. Germain-des- Prés. In the election the Habsburgs favored Prince Philip Wilhelm of Neuburg, and others wanted the Bourbon Duke Charles of Longueville. However, Bishop Andrzej Olszowski nominated Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, and the szlachta gathered at Warsaw and voted overwhelmingly for him. He became King Michał I on June 19, 1669. He could speak eight languages and had studied at Prague, Dresden, and Vienna, but he was not interested in politics, philosophy, literature, or the arts. On February 27, 1670 he married Eleanor Maria Josefa, sister of Austrian Emperor Leopold, and the French party began to plot against him. Michał was criticized for not being able to control the magnates, his army, the Turks, his wife, or the papal nuncio. In the Sejm at Warsaw in May 1672 Primate Prazmowski demanded that Michał abdicate, but he refused.
Sultan Mehmed IV had formed an alliance with the Cossacks in 1669, and in 1672 he led the Ottoman army into Podolia and captured the fortress at Kamieniec Podolski with a siege in September. Crown Hetman Jan Sobieski saved the east bank of the Dnieper, defeated Tatar raiders, and liberated thousands of prisoners from the Turks. However, he lacked reinforcements and on October 18 signed the “shameful” treaty at Buczacz in which the Polish King gave up Ukraine and Podolia and agreed to pay an annual tribute of 22,000 thaler to the Turks. Two days earlier the szlachta meeting at Golab had dismissed the Primate and punished the opponents of King Michał, and Prazmowski died on March 12, 1673. In April the Sejm refused to ratify the Buczacz treaty and appropriated funds for a new army of 50,000 men. Another large Ottoman army was invading Poland while King Michał was suffering from stomach ulcers and died on November 10, 1673. The next day Jan Sobieski led an attack with 30,000 troops against 35,000 Turks at Khotyn in Moldavia, killing most of them while suffering very few casualties.
Jan Sobieski was born on August 17, 1629. He learned Latin and studied at the Jagiellonian University before visiting Paris, London, and Amsterdam. He also knew French, Italian, and German. He joined the army in 1648, and as a military officer for decades he learned Tatar and Turkish. In 1653 he volunteered to be a hostage in Bakhchisaray, and in 1654 he went to Istanbul with an embassy. He served as a colonel under Sweden’s Karl X for seven months until March 1656; after he left, the Swedes condemned him to death. In 1657 he commanded the Tatar auxiliaries. He had palaces at Wilanów, Żółkiew, and Jaworów, and like many magnates he protected the mercantile businesses of Jews and at times helped them financially. After Sobieski led the fight against the rebel Jerzy Lubomirski in 1666, King Jan II promoted him to his field hetman and grand marshal. Then he beat back an invasion of Cossacks and Tatars in October 1667 and became the King’s great hetman.
Marie Casimire Louise de La Grange d'Arquienin had been living in Poland since she was four. In 1658 at the age of 13 she married 41-year-old Jan Zamoyski. She fell in love with Sobieski, and on June 24, 1661 they promised to marry. Her husband died on April 2, 1665, and she married Sobieski on July 14. He wrote to Marysieńka, as he called her, hundreds of letters even when they were not separated by war. In 1672 Louis XIV asked Sobieski to be Marshal of France, but he declined. At the Sejm (Diet) in 1672 and 1673 Sobieski urged an alliance with Russia and the Austrian Empire in order to fight the Turks.
After his triumph over the Turks at the battle of Khotyn, Sobieski was welcomed as a hero and won the election over aristocrats to became King Jan III on May 19, 1674. In 1667 he had aided diversifying the treasury in the provinces to weaken King Michał; but now he centralized the treasury, though he lost control over it in 1679. On June 11, 1675 Jan III Sobieski signed the secret treaty of Jaworów in which the French promised 200,000 livres a year to fund his invasion of Prussia; but while the allied Swedes were attacking Brandenburg, the Turks kept the Polish armies busy by not returning Kamieniec and by invading Poland. On August 24 Sobieski led a force of 6,000 men that defeated an Ottoman army of 20,000 at Lwów. In September he allied with Absalon and the Magyars rebelling against imperial Austria. In 1676 Sobieski appointed Jerzy Lubomirski’s son Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski (1642-1702) Grand Marshal. Lubomirski patronized the arts and wrote comedies, and his skeptical Vanitate Consiliorum had sixteen editions and urged people to think for themselves.
In 1676 Poland’s army was increased to 36,000 men and Lithuania’s to 18,000, and Lithuanian Great Hetman Michal Pac led the latter but could not stop the Swedes from invading Prussia. In August an Ottoman army of 50,000 men invaded southern Poland, and they fought about 20,000 men led by Sobieski at Żurawno for 19 days before they agreed to an armistice on October 17 which revised the Buczacz treaty. By then Sweden and Brandenburg had made peace. On August 21, 1677 Sobieski agreed to a mutual assistance pact with the Swedes at Danzig (Gdansk). That year the Polish Sejm renewed its treaty with Austria while Russia made a treaty with the Turks. Sobieski left Danzig in February 1678, and the Sejm ratified the peace of Żurawno on April 16. In the winter of 1678-79 the Sejm met at Grodno in Lithuania and passed more than two hundred laws. In January the Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm began plotting with the Pac family and the Lithuanian army against Poland. In June 1679 Louis XIV agreed to a treaty with Brandenburg, but he promised Sobieski he would support the succession of his son Jakub.
The Sejm of 1681 favored Austria more than France, and on May 22 deputy Przyjemski broke up the assembly with the free veto after he was paid to do so by Duke Friedrich Wilhelm. Sobieski was upset because it disturbed his preparation for war against the Turks. Margrave Ludwig of Brandenburg married the wealthy Lithuanian Louise Charlotte Radziwiłł. In early 1682 the French agent Du Vernay, who was guiding the Hungarian revolt against the Empire from Poland, was banished. Sobieski’s efforts to negotiate with the French in the summer failed, and in September he formed an alliance with Austria. A Sejm opened on January 27, 1683, and the French ambassador, the Marquis de Vitry, and the Treasurer Andrzej Morsztyn wanted to break it up; but their secret letters were exposed, and both resigned their offices. Morsztyn also wrote poetry and translated Tasso’s Aminta and Corneille’s Le Cid.
Brandenburg and Sweden were prepared to go to war to protect Poland’s liberum veto which they found so useful with bribery to block the Sejm from acting. Polish treaties made with them and Russia and Austria included a clause to protect the veto. During the reign of Jan III Sobieski half of the Sejm sessions were ended by the veto, and it would be used even more often in the four decades after his death.
In 1683 the Turks invaded Hungary and besieged Vienna. Sobieski negotiated a treaty with Emperor Leopold who promised 1,200,000 ducats for the relief of Vienna and offered Sobieski the position of commander-in-chief of the allies. The Empire would contribute 60,000 men and Poland 40,000. The treaty was signed on April 1 but was dated March 31 to avoid All Fool’s Day. By July 140,000 Turks were besieging Vienna. The Sejm mobilized 36,000 Polish troops and 12,000 Lithuanians. The latter were led by Hetman Jan Kazimierz Sapieha, but they plundered the country and arrived after the battle. On August 30 Sobieski took command of 74,000 allies outside Vienna. In the battle on September 12 he led an attack by 20,000 heavy cavalry on the right, killing 15,000 and capturing 117 cannons. Charles V of Lorraine led the left wing, and the defeated Turks withdrew that night. After entering Vienna before Emperor Leopold, Sobieski pursued the Turks into their empire and defeated their rearguard at Párkány on October 9, killing about 10,000 men and capturing 3,000 while losing only 1,000. Hetman Kunicki’s Cossacks ravaged Moldavia until Tatars drove them out.
In March 1684 Jan III Sobieski was glad when Venice joined the Holy League against the Turks. In 1685 he organized four Cossack regiments in the eastern Ukraine and let them elect officers by their tradition. He made Polish the official language of the army in 1686. In July that year he led the invasion of Moldavia with 40,000 soldiers, and they reached Jasi on August 16; but the Turks avoided fighting and evacuated the people, and the Polish army began retreating on September 2. At Jasi a fire started by munitions burned down the city, and the failed expedition reached the border in October. Sobieski agreed to a perpetual peace treaty with Russia on December 22, 1686, and he let them have Zaporozhia, the southern Ukraine, and the coast of the Black Sea to stop the slave raids by Tatars. Lithuanians in eastern Ukraine estates were so upset that the Sejm did not ratify the treaty until 1710. They adopted the French advances in flint and steel muskets with bayonets, though in a limited way because of finances. In 1688 some wanted his son Jakub to marry a Habsburg, and Marysieńka was so upset that she opposed his accession to the throne. Instead on March 25, 1691 Jakub married Hedwig Elisabeth of Neuburg, daughter of Palatine Elector Philipp Wilhelm, with a dowry of 500,000 florins. Also in 1691 another attempt to invade Moldavia failed again because the Turks refused to fight. Sobieski began suffering heart attacks and gaining weight. Tatar attacks on Pomorzany in 1692 and Lwów in February 1695 were defeated. King Jan III Sobieski spent much time in a sick bed and finally died of a heart attack on April 17, 1696.
The chief candidates to succeed King Jan III Sobieski were his son Jakub, the Bourbon Prince François Louis de Conti, and Saxony’s Elector Friedrich August Wettin. Jakub was in Silesia and was quickly captured by Saxon soldiers. On June 27, 1697 the assembled szlachta (gentry) elected the Prince de Conti, and Cardinal-Primate Michał Radziejowski declared him King of Poland-Lithuania. That evening others chose Friedrich August. The Saxon Estates approved his use of the Saxon army, and Emperor Leopold let him pass through Silesia on his way to Krakow, where on September 15 Stanisław Dąmbski, Bishop of Kujavia, crowned him King August II of Poland. The Prince de Conti arrived at Danzig by the end of the month; but he declined to start a civil war and sailed back to France. This was the first time the previous king’s son was not elected king in Poland or that the one elected was blocked by military force.
Friedrich August was born in Dresden on May 12, 1670 and was called “the Strong” for his bull-like physique and sexual prowess. He had many concubines and affairs and was believed to have fathered more than three hundred children including France’s Marshal Maurice de Saxe. On April 27, 1694 he succeeded his older brother as Elector and Duke of Saxony, Meissen, and Lusatia. He commanded the imperial armies fighting in Hungary in 1695-96 and was aided financially by the Jewish Behrend Lehmann of Halberstadt who raised money from the Sephardic families de Pinto and Teixeira. August also used his power to promote trade and industry, and he supported the Leipzig fair.
August resided in the palace at Warsaw not used by Sobieski who had preferred Wilanów. King August II did not know the languages of Poland-Lithuania and used French. He admired Louis XIV and promoted the arts. He converted to Catholicism privately so that he could be King of Poland, but this was resented by Saxony’s Lutherans. He approved legislation that discriminated against Catholics in Saxony, and the Polish Sejm (Diet) reacted by restricting Protestants. Emperor Leopold had supported August’s candidacy over the French prince, and August wrote out his plans to reform Poland-Lithuania. He believed that all social classes should be equal before the law and worked to expand trade, reorganize the army, fund diplomatic efforts, and start four universities.
The Polish army of 6,000 men led by Hetman Feliks Potocki defeated 14,000 Tatars at Podhajce on September 9, 1698, and on January 26, 1699 the Christian coalition and the Turks signed the treaty of Karlowitz that ended the Ottoman war which began in 1683. August II met Russian Tsar Petr in 1698, and while drinking they planned a war against Sweden. In 1699 their alliance included King Frederik IV of Denmark. August could not make such a treaty for Poland-Lithuania, and the next year he went to war against Sweden as the Elector of Saxony. Primate and Chancellor Radziejowski persuaded August to accept the pacta conventa limiting his prerogatives which the Sejm ratified in June 1699. Polish and Lithuanian nobles opposed supporting August’s dynastic ambitions with money and troops, and Cardinal Radziejowski urged neutrality and mediated. Johann Reinhold von Patkul and other Livonian nobles in his army told August that Livonian merchants opposed Swedish tariffs, and his army of 18,000 men besieged Riga in February 1700 and again in June. Livonia remained under Sweden but was invaded by Saxon troops in May. Although the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had claimed Prussia, the Brandenburg Elector proclaimed himself King Friedrich I of Prussia on January 18, 1701. Sweden’s army defeated August’s Saxons in Livonia in July, and KingKarl XII demanded that August renounce the throne of Poland-Lithuania. The Sejm was neutral but urged August to withdraw his Saxon army from Lithuania. Deputies meeting unofficially at Sandomierz in September 1702 agreed to provide an army of 30,000 men to support August.
In 1702 the Sapieha family put Lithuania under the protection of Sweden, and its King Karl XII and his army entered Wilno in April and then Warsaw. On June 19 at Kliszów the Swedish army of 12,000 men defeated twice that many in the Saxon army and the Polish cavalry before moving on to Krakow. August II retreated to Pomerania. Sapieha’s opponents appealed to Tsar Petr, and Russian troops invaded Lithuania. After Sweden’s army moved into Poland and won again at Pułtusk on April 21, 1703, the szlachta rallied around King August. At Lublin in July they resolved to raise 13.5 million zlotys to fund 48,000 troops; but when the Sejm met, they declined to collect new taxes. The Sejm then declared war on Sweden, and the next year Poland joined Lithuania in alliance with Russia.
In January 1704 Sweden held Warsaw, and sympathizers formed a confederation and proposed replacing August II with Jakub Sobieski; but August captured Jakub. Sweden’s Karl XII decided to back Stanisław Leszczyński, Palatine of Poznań, and 800 szlachta surrounded by Swedish soldiers elected him and proclaimed him King of Poland on July 12. Russians took over Narva on August 9, and on September 6 King August’s forces briefly recaptured Warsaw, destroying the royal castle. Some nobles then supported August and Petr against the Swedes. Petr had Hetman Ivan Mazepa arrest the Cossack Simon Palij who rebelled against the Poles, and in May 1705 Poles and Lithuanians organized their own confederation at Sandomierz. Stanisław was crowned in Warsaw on October 4. That year August II introduced an excise tax to raise revenues in Saxony; but his army never surpassed 30,000 men, and they were neither well trained nor well paid. He spent much on his Zwingler castle at Dresden on art and entertainment and accumulated a very large debt.
On November 28, 1705 King Stanisław agreed to the treaty of Warsaw which made Poland-Lithuania a vassal state allied with Sweden. He also agreed to allow religious freedom to Protestant commoners and to direct Russian trade through Riga instead of Danzig. Sweden’s army occupying Poland-Lithuania was supported locally. On February 13, 1706 Sweden’s army devastated the Saxons and Russians at Fraustadt in Poland. The Russians retreated quickly, and Karl XII pursued August into Saxony. In the treaty at Altranstädt on October 13, 1706 he forced August to renounce the Polish throne in favor of Stanisław. August with a large coalition of Russians, Poles, Kalmyks, Saxons, and Cossacks won a battle over Swedes and their Polish and Lithuanian allies at Kalisz on October 29 before the treaty became effective in 1707. He appointed a secret cabinet that aroused opposition in the parliament. Karl XII allied with Cossacks led by Ivan Mazepa to fight for their independence in Ukraine against Russian hegemony, and in January 1708 his Swedish army left Grodno to invade Russia. Great Hetman Adam Sieniawski defeated Stanisław’s Great Hetman Jozef Potocki.
After Tsar Petr’s army defeated the Swedes and Cossacks at Poltava on July 8, 1709, August II and Tsar Petr agreed to the treaty of Thorn on October 9 that allowed August to regain the Polish throne while Peter made sure that the chief officers favored him. Because of the Northern War the Polish Sejm had not met between 1703 and 1710. From 1708 to 1710 cities such as Danzig, Torun, and Krakow suffered a plague that killed more than a quarter and as much as half the people. August II returned to Warsaw early in 1710 and sent Stanisław Leszczyński into exile. Stanisław went to Moldavia to find Karl XII and spent nearly two years there without a meeting or written response from the Swedish King. The General Council confirmed August II as King of Poland-Lithuania by April 1710 and promised to provide an army of 64,000 men. That year August dismissed the Saxon Estates, and the Polish Sejm ratified the perpetual peace treaty with Russia. At the Sejm in 1712 August II proposed taxes and reforms which were not passed. He used his army of 25,000 Saxons to suppress resistance in the Commonwealth. During the Northern War (1700-21) the population of Poland-Lithuania decreased from death and emigration by more than a quarter. The Saxon opponents of August II formed a general confederation at Tarnogród on November 26, 1715 and hoped to withdraw Saxon troops from Poland-Lithuania, depose August, and introduce parliamentary reforms.
Young Tsar Aleksei (r. 1645-76) was advised by his former teacher and brother-in-law Boris Morozov who supervised the administration and acquired wealth that included 55,000 peasants, factories, mills, and distilleries. In 1648 after two years of drought and locusts he tried to collect two years of arrears along with the salt tax for 1648. When the 19-year-old Tsar returned to Moscow on June 1, a major uprising broke out. People surrounded him and complained about the boyars and his high officials, but the royal bodyguards (Streltsy) pushed the crowd away. The next day an angry mob demanded the resignation of Leonti Pleshcheyev, Morozov, and two others, and the Streltsy, who also had their pay cut, disobeyed orders and joined the protest. On June 3 the Tsar gave up Pleshcheyev, and the mob killed him and set fires in the city that burned about 20,000 houses. Nearly 2,000 people died including Nazar Chistoy who was killed for having initiated the hated salt tax. On June 6 the Streltsy withdrew from the riot, and the Tsar banished Morozov, though he returned to his position in October. Disturbances at Pskov and Novgorod in the spring of 1650 also had to be quelled.
By the end of July 1648 the opponents of Morozov canceled the salt tax and the tobacco monopoly. Aleksei appointed a commission from his Boyars Council and the Holy Synod to propose revisions to the law code of 1550 based on decrees since then by Byzantine emperors and Russian tsars, apostolic and patristic rules, decrees of the Lithuanian Statute of 1588, and boyars’ verdicts. The Zemsky Sobor met in September and selected a committee of the princes Odoevsky, Prozorovsky, and Volkonsky with secretaries Leontev and Griboedov to write the new laws. About half of the 292 elected delegates were illiterate.
The major reform of the laws called the Ulozheniye was approved and promulgated in January 1649. The new code ended the distinction between old settlers and new peasants, tying all tillers and their children as serfs to private holdings. Heavy fines could be imposed for harboring fugitives, and the statute of limitations was abolished. Merchants and artisans also had their movement restricted and became closed castes with sons taking up the same jobs as their fathers. This was the first Russian law code to be published and distributed to officials, and it would last until 1833. On June 1 Tsar Aleksei expelled foreigners and banned the English from trading in Moscow, and in 1654 this was extended to merchants from Holland and Hamburg.
In 1648-49 the boyar Fyodor Rtishchev had a monastery built in Moscow and hired about thirty Kievan monks to teach Slavonic, Latin, Greek, rhetoric, philosophy, and other subjects. In those two years Cossacks and peasants murdered about 200,000 Jews, which was more than a third of those in eastern Europe. Russian colonists moved east across Siberia and in 1649 built Fort Okhotsk on the Pacific coast. Russian envoys agreed to pay Sweden compensation for fugitives from territory they ceded to them in 1617.
Also in 1649 the Tsar ended the special privilege of the English Russia Company from paying customs duties. In 1650 John Culpepper asked Aleksei to aid Prince Charles, and the Tsar sold him 20,000 rubles worth of furs and grain; Cromwell’s ambassador in 1654 met a chilly reception.
When the government was shipping 50,000 bushels of grain for Sweden in February 1650, starving people in Pskov seized the rye and drove the Tsar’s agents back to Moscow. A month later Novgorod joined a rebellion that was quelled by the army. The Zemsky Sobor met to exert a moral influence on these rebels. Tsar Aleksei expelled German churches from Moscow, but in 1652 he designated a suburb in northeast Moscow for Germans.
Nikita Minin was born on May 7, 1605 in a peasant family, but he did well in school and ran away to a monastery when he was twelve. His parents persuaded him to marry, and he became a village priest in 1625. Two years later he was called to a parish in Moscow. In 1634 his three children died, and his wife became a nun. Nikita retired to the Anzer hermitage on the White Sea and changed his name to Nikon. In 1646 he moved near the Kremlin and became young Tsar Aleksei’s close friend. On March 9, 1649 the Tsar got Nikon appointed Metropolitan of Novgorod. On July 22, 1652 he was elected the seventh Patriarch of Moscow; but he declined until they promised to obey him in everything according to the 9th-century Byzantine code entitled Epanagoge which became part of Russian canon law.
Patriarch Nikon argued that the clergy represented heaven and the soul and so should rule others he compared to the earth and the body. He abolished taverns to reduce drunkenness and prohibited the sale of alcohol in stores to clergy and on Sundays. He sent the monk Arsenius to the Orthodox East, and he brought back 500 religious books mostly from Mount Athos. Nikon issued corrections, and in 1653 the Ukrainian Church was reunited with the Muscovite Church. That year Archpriest Avvakum Petrovich accused Nikon of heresy. Avvakum and his followers believed that the lower clergy and their parishioners should have a larger role in Church decisions. Nikon ordered that the sign of the cross should be made with three fingers in the Greek way rather than with two fingers most Russians used. He also introduced Greek vestments for priests and other changes in the liturgy. Patriarch Nikon deported Avvakum with his family, Ivan Neronov, and other reform leaders in 1653 to Siberia for nine years. The Church Council condemned Avvakum for his Old Beliefs, and he was burned at the stake on April 14, 1682. His fine autobiography, the first in Russian history, was circulated in manuscripts but was not printed until 1861.
While Tsar Aleksei was off fighting the Polish war in 1654-56, Nikon acted as regent and summoned a synod during the plague of 1654 and at Moscow in 1656 to expedite his decisions. In July 1658 Tsar Aleksei revoked Nikon’s title “Sovereign Majesty,” ordered him not to oppose the new law code anymore, and stopped seeing him. Nikon accused Aleksei of violating his sacred oath and left Moscow for a monastery.
Ukrainians had appealed to Moscow in 1625, 1649, and 1651, but Russia did not want war against Poland-Lithuania. In 1648 the Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tatars had led a revolt in Ukraine and had defeated Polish armies at Zhevty Voey on May 16, ten days later at Korsun, and on September 23 at Pyliavtsi. On August 17, 1649 Khmelnytsky and Poland’s King Jan II agreed to a treaty at Zboriv. The number of registered Cossacks was increased to 40,000; Polish soldiers and Jews were banned from the voivodeships of Kiev, Bratslav, and Chernihiv; the Orthodox Church gained privileges; and the Crimean Khan received money. At the end of June in 1651 at Berestechhko the Polish-Lithuanian army of 80,000 men defeated about 200,000 Zaporozhian Cossacks and Tatars led by Khmelnytsky and the Crimean Khan, killing about 35,000 while losing only 700 dead. The losers treaty signed on September 28 reduced the registered Cossacks to 20,000, but the Polish Sejm did not ratify it. Then at Batih on June 2, 1652 the Cossacks and Tatars met a smaller Polish-Lithuanian army and killed 8,000 while losing only 1,000.
In June 1653 Tsar Aleksei allied with Khmelnytsky and appointed him hetman. On October 1 the Zemsky Sobor persuaded Tsar Aleksei to include Ukraine in his realm under Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and his Cossack army of 60,000 which accepted this during their general assembly at Pereyaslav on January 8, 1654. Thus Muscovite jurisdiction was extended to Ukraine. After having met to advise the Tsar eighteen times from 1613 to 1653, the Zemsky Sobor would not assemble again until 1681.
By 1654 garrison towns had completed the Belgorod line in the west, and on May 15 Muscovite armies invaded Lithuanian Belarus and entered eastern Ukraine. Tsar Aleksei commanded the main army of 40,000 men that marched on Smolensk while Vasily Sheremetev led 15,000 soldiers against Polotsk and Vitebsk, and Prince Aleksei Trubetskoi marched another army of 15,000 from Briansk toward Minsk. Khmelnytsky sent 20,000 Cossacks under Col. Zolotarenko to invade Belarus. The Russians far outnumbered the Lithuanian army of less than 7,000 men, and they captured Belaia, Dorogobuzh, and Roslavl in June, Mstislavl, Orsha, Mogilev, and the capital at Wilno (Vilnius) in August, Smolensk in September, and Vitebsk in November. An allied army of Ukrainian Cossacks under Khmelnytsky also invaded Lithuania in the fall; but the Polish-Lithuanian forces led by General Potocki and Stefan Czarniecki got there first and slaughtered 100,000 Ukrainians while their Tatar allies captured 300,000 people and sold them into slavery. By the time Khmelnytsky’s army stopped them in December nearly 500,000 Ukrainians had been killed or taken away as captives.
In the summer of 1655 the Swedes took over Lithuania and invaded Poland, and in May 1656 Muscovy declared war on Sweden. Tsar Aleksei led the invasion of Livonia that seized Dünaburg, Kokennausen, and Dorpat, but Swedish troops landed at Riga on June 13 and took back Dünaburg. Russians besieged Riga from August 21 to October 5 when a smaller Swedish force claimed to have killed 14,000 Russians. Bohdan Khmelnytsky died in July 1657, and his secretary Ivan Vyhovskyi became hetman and signed a treaty with Poland on September 6, 1658.
By then the Belgorod line extended along the southern border of the forest steppe region. Peace talks with Poland-Lithuania had failed, and Russians continued their war in Lithuania in September. On December 20 Tsar Aleksei signed a three-year truce with Sweden at Valiesar near Narva. In July 1659 S. I. Pozharskii’s army was devastated at Konotop, and the Muscovite forces began to retreat from Ukraine. The Cossacks revolted, and Muscovite armies invaded Ukraine once again and recognized Khmelnytsky’s son Yuri who replaced Vyhovskyi as hetman in September. The Pereyaslav Articles were revised to reduce Ukraine’s autonomy, and Muscovy claimed Chernihiv, Starodub, and Novgorod Severskii. During these wars about 100,000 men were conscripted into the infantry, and by 1658 the rate had been increased to one conscript from every twenty households. In his famous History of Russia V. O. Kliuchevskii wrote of this period,
When wars of defense became wars of offense,
the upper classes were released from specific state obligations
and granted special privileges,
while the lower classes were inundated with obligations.1
In the fall of 1660 Sheremetev led a Russian army into Volynia; but Yuri Khmelnytsky defected and made a treaty with Poland-Lithuania, and Sheremetev surrendered his army of 40,000 men to their combined forces. In June 1661 Russia ended its war against Sweden with the treaty of Kardis by giving back territories they had taken in Livonia and Ingria. In July 1662 Russians defeated Khmelnytsky’s Cossacks, and in January 1663 the Cossack assembly at Chyhyryn replaced Khmelnytsky with Hetman Pavel Teteria who supported the Hadziacz Articles and the Polish alliance. However, in June the Zaporozhian Cossacks of eastern Ukraine rejected Teteria and elected pro-Russian Ivan Briukhovetsky as hetman. In 1651 only 7% of Russia’s army were foreigners, but by 1663 this had increased to 79%. In November allied armies led by Poland’s King Jan II, Stefan Czarniecki, and Hetman Teteria crossed the Dnieper and ravaged eastern Ukraine but they were stopped at Hlukhiv and Novgorod Severskii in January 1664 by Briukhovetsky’s army supported by Prince Grigorii Romodanovskii’s forces.
To pay for the wars the Russian mint created copper coins with a nominal value that was sixty times the cost of production. In 1658 they were equal to one silver rouble, but inflation led to a ratio of 4-1 by 1661 and 15-1 two years later. The Tsar removed and mutilated officials at the mint. The government refused to accept the copper coins into the Treasury but insisted that they be recognized for their face value for payments from the Treasury. In July 1662 crowds gathered at the Tsar’s summer residence at Kolomenskoe. When protests grew to 9,000 people, the Tsar ordered the Streltsy to disperse the crowd; 63 people were arrested, and many more were banished. Grigorii Kotoshikin reported that more than 7,000 people were executed and at least 15,000 had hands and feet amputated before being banished and having their property confiscated. In 1663 the Russian government abandoned that currency by redeeming the copper coins at one percent of their value.
As the population of Russia increased, there was plenty of land to bring into cultivation. Fur traders moved east through Siberia pioneering the way for settlers led by Yerofey Khabarov who built a fort at Kumarsk on the Amur River in 1652. In 1658 the government sent out special officials to arrest fugitive peasants. In 1661 squires who accepted peasants were required to return them at their own expense with another peasant family as compensation. Official hunts for fugitives began in 1664 and would continue for a century. As fleeing increased so did punishment. Some peasants killed their squires or set their houses on fire. In 1667 peasants who had become priests or monks were to be defrocked and returned to their masters.
Russia established a postal service based on European systems in 1664. That year Grigorii Kotoshikin, who had helped negotiate treaties at Valiesar and Kardis, refused to do clerical work for the army and fled to Lithuania, Silesia, and Sweden, where he wrote his critical On Russia during the Reign of Alexey Mikhailovich, though it was not published until 1840. He described social ranks and various rates of pay for officials. He blamed the Russians for not learning and noted that fathers who sent their sons to other countries to be educated would lose their estates and chattels. Kotoshikin killed the suspicious husband of his landlady and was beheaded in November 1667.
Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Briukhovetsky favored the Russians, and in 1665 he led a delegation to Moscow asking for help against Cossack violence. On October 11 he and Tsar Aleksei signed the Moscow Articles which authorized Russian administrators, more troops, and tax collectors. Ukraine’s Orthodox Church and the Metropolitan of Kiev were subordinated to the Patriarch of Moscow.
In 1666 the poet Simeon of Polotsk started a school that taught Latin and humanities. Nikon was tried by a synod of church officials in December 1666 and was convicted of disrespecting the Tsar and the Muscovite Church, of deposing Bishop Paul of Kolomna in violation of canons, and of torturing his dependents. They reduced Nikon to a monk and imprisoned him in the Ferapontov monastery. Yet the same council approved his reforms.
Tsar Aleksei excluded Cossack representatives when he sent Afanasy Ordin-Naschokin to negotiate with Poland-Lithuania the treaty of Andrusovo which they signed on January 30, 1667 (OS). They agreed on a truce for 13.5 years, and Russia got back Smolensk and for two years Kiev which they garrisoned with 11,000 Muscovite troops. Ordin-Naschokin urged trade and relations with Persia and India, but in February 1671 he was dismissed and entered a monastery. He was replaced by Artamon Matveev.
After Patriarch Nikon’s reforms were accepted in 1667, in the Great Schism the Russians persecuted the Old Believers who were inspired by Avvakum. In the far north the Solovetskii Monastery on an island in the White Sea withstood a siege from 1668 to 1676. Some Old Believers considered Nikon the Antichrist, and in communal conflagrations more than 20,000 burned themselves between 1672 and 1691.
In 1667 Russia promulgated a new commercial code favoring mercantile policies and restricting trade with foreigners, and Aleksei ordered four ships built and sailed by the Dutch for the Caspian Sea.
Hetman Doroshenko defected and allied with Tatar Khan Aadil Girey and Sultan Mehmed IV, and in January 1668 he persuaded Briukhovetsky that they should expel the Russian governors. Many Russians were killed, and Doroshenko had Briukhovetsky murdered on June 8. To replace Doroshenko the Eastern Ukrainians elected Demian Mnogogreshnyi hetman. He favored the Tsar and in February 1669 agreed to the Hlukhiv Articles, which gave him some autonomy under the Russians. A few Russian governors were to be appointed for large cities while Ukrainians were to collect taxes. Artamon Matveev was rewarded for his diplomacy in April by being put in charge of the Little Russian Chancellery which handled Ukraine. Soon he was also supervising the administration of Vladimir, Novgorod, and Galich. By 1669 the Belgorod and Sevsk armies had 112,000 men commanded by Romodanovskii.
People migrated from Ukraine to the Don Cossacks and later joined the revolt. In 1669 Stenka Razin led 2,000 Cossacks in raids along the Persian coast of the Caspian Sea. They brought back booty to the Don. In 1670 Razin led tribes and peasants in a revolt against the Russians sailing up the Volga with 7,000 men and took Tsaritsyn in April and Astrakhan in June, where Prince Ivan Semyonovich Prozorovskii was thrown off a tower, and his two sons were tortured. In July they captured Saratov and Samara while others raided the provinces of Nizhny, Tambov, and Penza. Russian troops defeated Razin’s rebels in October near Simbirsk. Razin escaped; but Cossacks serving the Tsar captured him in April 1671 and sent him to Moscow where he was executed on June 6.
Aleksei’s wife Maria Miloslavskaya died on August 18, 1669 and was survived by nine of her children. Aleksei married Natalya Naryshkina on February 1, 1671. In 1672 the first plays presented were by Johann Gottfried Gregorii and were about Esther, Judith, and Artaxerxes.
In April 1672 Doroshenko allied with Sultan Mehmed IV as he led the Turkish invasion of Ukraine. Hetman Mnogogreshnyi rebelled in June, and Moscow replaced him with Ivan Samoilovych. In early 1674 a Muscovite army led by Romodanovskii and supported by Samoilovych invaded western Ukraine and besieged the Turks and Doroshenko’s forces at Chyhyryn, but in the summer a large Ottoman army led by Kaplan Pasha relieved them and forced the Russians to retreat across the Dnieper. The Turks massacred many civilians as many fled to the east. In the revolt as many as 100,000 people may have died. In 1675 selling peasants without their land was prohibited.
Juraj Križanić was a Croatian Catholic who came to Moscow as an envoy for Poland in 1647 and returned in September 1659. He was hired as the Tsar’s librarian to translate Latin and Greek documents and improve Slavic grammar, but in January 1661 he was banished to Siberia, where he lived in Tobolsk for fifteen years. He worked on a Pan-Slavonic grammar and suggested reforms in his books On Politics (1666), On Divine Providence (1667), and On Interpretation of Historic Prognostications (1674). He realized that Russia was isolated by deserts and wild Siberia. He observed that Russian merchants were often cheated by foreigners because they did not know arithmetic. He reported that Russians were often shunned because of their rough clothes and their smell and for being drunkards. Križanić wanted to unite the Slavs and did not believe they were inferior, but they needed to develop. He wanted to limit contact with foreigners and exclude rootless people, and he believed the Tsar had the power to make big changes and should promote learning especially from books, technical schools, and education for women. He returned to Moscow for two years and then traveled to Wilno (Vilnius) and Warsaw. Križanić died during the battle against the Turks at Vienna on September 12, 1683.
Tsar Aleksei died on January 29, 1676 after expanding Russia’s territory to more than three million square miles. He was survived by nine daughters and three sons. His wife Maria Miloslavskaya was the mother of 14-year-old Fyodor III and 9-year-old Ivan V, and his second wife Natalia Naryshkina gave birth to Petr on May 30, 1672. With the help of the Council of 23 boyars, 12 okol’nichie, and 19 gentlemen in the Duma with eight secretaries young Fyodor III ruled fairly effectively despite his disabilities and illnesses. He learned Latin and Polish from Simeon Polotsky. His uncle Ivan Mikhailovich Miloslavskii became his chief advisor. Yet many conflicts would develop between the Miloslavskaya family and the Naryshkins.
Artamon Matveev, who had raised Natalia Naryshkina as his ward, was a chief advisor to Tsar Aleksei and head of the Ambassadorial Chancellery 1671-76. In 1675 he sent his assistant Nicolae Spatharie-Milescu on Russia’s first mission to China, and he returned in 1678, published a journal of his travels, and worked as a translator. Matveev lost his position on July 3, 1676 and was replaced by Larion Ivanov. Matveev was later accused of practicing sorcery against the Naryshkins. In the spring of 1677 I. M. Miloslavskii took away the financial administration from Larion Ivanov, and for the next three years he shared power with Tsarevna Irina, Bogdan Khitrovo, and Prince Iurii A. Dolgorukii.
In December 1676 Doroshenko’s rebels had been forced to surrender, but the Ottoman Empire claimed western Ukraine. In June 1677 about 45,000 Turks besieged the Cossack capital of Chyhyryn (Chigirin), and news of the Ottoman threat reached Moscow on July 8. On the 25th Fyodor III told the Duma that he wanted peace with the Turks but was willing to give up Ukraine to go to war against Sweden, which most boyars opposed on August 8. The next day Natalia Naryshkina’s brothers Ivan and Afanasii were exiled to Riazhsk, but she lived in the Kremlin palace with her children Petr and Natalia and a small staff. Nikita Zotov began tutoring Petr, using a prayer book and the New Testament and teaching him about great figures in Russian history. In late August at Chyhyryn the Russians under Prince Romodanovskii and Hetman Samoilovych defeated the Turks and Tatars who lost about 20,000 men.
In 1677 Tsar Fyodor III abolished the Monastery Bureau, but he selected a new patriarch from three candidates chosen by the Council. A census was taken in 1678 of an estimated 10,500,000 people, and the survey found 906,101 peasant households of which 435,924 were owned by boyars or serfs with the others under the Church, the royal court, or the government. In September 1679, instead of assessing cultivated land, all homesteads (except for nobles) were taxed, bringing in annual revenues of 1,900,000 roubles. In 1680 the Grand Treasury was founded, and they produced the first national budget.
In June 1678 another Ottoman army of 70,000 Turks plus Tatars besieged Chyhyryn. On August 11 Romodanovskii evacuated the town and burned the fortress. In 1679 about 20,000 Ukrainians fled east across the Dnieper. That year and in 1680 the Russians used 70,000 troops to protect Kiev with 30,000 Cossacks led by Samoilovych while 50,000 Russian soldiers were on the Begorod Line. Russian forces established the Iziuma Line running south 530 kilometers linking twenty garrisoned towns. The Ottoman armies withdrew, and at Bakhchisarai on January 3, 1681 Khan Murad Girey negotiated a twenty-year truce with Moscow.
On January 3, 1681 Russia and the Ottoman Empire agreed on a truce for twenty years with the Dnieper River as the border. That year the Russian army of 164,000 men with 22,000 at the capital and the other 63 regiments was organized into eight military districts. In July the Tsar Fyodor lost his wife and newborn son and went into mourning. Prince Vasilii Golitsyn became one of his favorites, and on November 24 Fyodor ordered Golitsyn and other boyars to investigate what the army needed. Also in 1681 Russia seized Tatar territory by the Volga River and forced the people to become Christians.
On January 12, 1682 Tsar Fyodor consulted with Patriarch Ioakim and higher clergy, and they agreed to abolish the precedence system that favored birth and service. The Tsar ordered the two chiefs of the registers to burn the old records. On April 23 the Griboedov regiment of musketeers complained in a petition that Col. Griboedov had forced them to work on his estate during Holy Week and had committed other abuses. Tsar Fyodor III had married Marfa Apraksina on February 14, but he died on April 27. The next day the Boyar Duma chose 10-year-old Petr over his older brother Ivan who was nearly blind and had difficulty speaking. Musketeers and other people swore allegiance to Petr.
Artamon Matveev returned to his home in Moscow on May 11, and the next day his property was restored. Miloslavskiis conspired to kill 46 opponents. Many people petitioned and protested, and a rumor about Ivan Naryshkin sitting on the Tsar’s throne spread. Musketeers and soldiers gathered by the palace and asked to see Tsarevich Ivan. He, Peter, his mother Natalia, and Patriarch Ioakim appeared on the porch, and four boyars who were commanding officers spoke to the musketeers. Soldiers demanded Naryshkins, Prince Iurii Dolgorukii, Matveev, and Fyodor’s favorites. The musketeers shouted that they wanted Ivan as tsar, the Naryshkins killed, and Natalia put in a convent. When Matveev and Prince Mikhail Dolgorukii came out, the musketeers skewered them with pikes. They took Grigorii Romodanovskii from the Patriarch and killed him with a halberd. On May 16 Natalia persuaded musketeers not to kill her three youngest brothers and her father. In three days about seventy people had been killed including Afanasii Naryshkin, Larion Ivanov and his son, and Iurii Dolgorukii. New leaders were Prince Ivan Khovanskii as head of the Musketeer Office, I. M. Miloslavskii in an army office, and Golitsyn over the Ambassadorial Chancellery and financial offices. Ivan could not take power, but the house of Tsarina Sofia could. Miloslavskii lost his office on May 25, and the next day Ivan and Petr sat on a double throne.
On June 25 the boys Ivan and Petr were crowned. The royal court moved to Kolomenskoe on August 20 while Khovanksii remained in Moscow; but on September 2 he was accused by an anonymous letter, and without a trial he and his son were executed on September 17. The rebellion ended as the musketeers surrendered and were pardoned by the Patriarch under the supervision of the boyar Mikhail Petrovich Golovin. In October in the name of Ivan, Petr, and Sofia the boyars and gentry were rewarded. Sofia took charge of the government. Although she was never formally appointed regent, Sofia governed Russia with the help of her favorite, Prince Vasilii Golitsyn, for the next seven years. Golitsyn liberalized the laws and tried to make reforms.
Petr and his mother Natalia moved to the Moscow suburb of Preobrazhenskoe. Petr played at soldiers with Alexander Menshikov and other friends. In 1683 he began playing with uniforms and cannons, and in 1685 he acquired dozens of pistols, carbines, and muskets. The Swiss officer François Lefort introduced Petr to foreign ladies, and Dutch Franz Timmermann taught him how to use an astrolabe and to learn about arithmetic, geometry, ballistics, and fortification. In June 1688 Petr and Timmermann discovered an old English boat in a storehouse, and he began learning about shipbuilding.
Silvestr Medvedev created a charter for the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy in 1682, but the monk Evfimii amended the document by replacing Latin with Greek and excluding teachers from Ukraine and Lithuania. The Latinizers and Hellenizers competed for several years, and in 1687 Russia’s first school of higher education opened with the Latin curriculum Medvedev wanted.
A Swedish embassy arrived in Moscow on April 28, 1684, and that year Russia joined the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire with the Austrian Empire, Poland-Lithuania, and Venice. In 1685 Sofia began appearing at public ceremonies previously held by the Tsar. In the spring of 1686 a Polish embassy with a thousand men arrived in Moscow, and Russia agreed to perpetual peace with Poland-Lithuania, paying 146,000 roubles to keep Kiev. After this success Sofia used the title samoderzhets which means autocrat.
In May 1687 Golitsyn led an army of about 150,000 men against Tatars at Perekop while Poles invaded Moldavia. Russians were joined by Kalmyks and Don Cossacks and crossed the southern border in June to find heat and dust and then saw the scorched steppe which scouts reported was burned all the way to Perekop. They suffered from hunger, thirst, and sickness as they returned to Russia. At the Samara River they deposed Hetman Samoilovych and on July 23 replaced him with Ivan Mazepa (r. 1687-1708). Samoilovych was criticized for reducing the freedom of the Cossacks, and Ukraine revolted against him in August. Cossacks also rejected Mazepa, but he managed to gain control over the Ukrainian hetmanate.
Golitsyn returned to Moscow and regained his influence. He tolerated Europeans such as Jesuits but persecuted Old Believers, burning them to death if they refused to recant. In 1687 and 1688 about 2,700 Old Believers in the Paleostrov Monastery who refused to serve the Anti-Christ burned themselves to death, and after a siege 1,500 more did the same.
Petr was glad to get the support and advice of the Scottish General Gordon. Petr grew up to be six foot seven inches tall, and on January 27, 1689 he married 19-year-old Evdokiia Lopukhina, who was chosen for him by his mother and Tikhon Streshnev. That month Petr began sitting in the Council of Boyars.
Another Crimean campaign was a disaster in 1689. Golitsyn gathered an army of 112,000 men in April and was joined by 16,000 Cossacks under Ivan Mazepa. After a few small battles with Tatars they made it to Perekop on May 20. They found little food or water, and the khan offered peace; but Golitsyn declined, and they left the next day. After much hardship they returned to Moscow on July 19. François Lefort estimated that they had 20,000 men killed and 15,000 taken prisoners.
Also in 1689 Russia signed commercial agreements with Prussia and made its first treaty with China at Nerchinsk on August 27. Sofia ordered 300 musketeers to guard her procession to the Donskoi Monastery on August 8. In the Kremlin one of Petr’s chamberlains was arrested, and the musketeers suspected a plot against him. Petr and servants fled to the Trinity Monastery forty miles away, and they were joined by his mother, wife, and a few boyars. On the 16th Petr ordered the musketeers to come there, but Sofia told them not to obey that order. Patriarch Ioakim joined Petr who was aided by Prince Boris Golitsyn. Petr demanded that Sofia and Vasilii Golitsyn leave the government. On September 5 Petr’s orders reached the German Suburb, and General Gordon and others went to the Trinity Monastery. Petr summoned the boyars to bring Fyodor Shaklovityi who was suspected of plotting to kill his mother; he was interrogated under torture and executed on September 11. Petr formed a new government and negotiated with Hetman Ivan Mazepa. Sofia stayed at the Kremlin for a while before entering the Novodevichii Convent at Petr’s request on October 4. Vasilii Golitsyn was banished to northern Russia, and his cousin Boris Golitsyn tried to ameliorate his punishment.
In September 1689 Tsar Petr began ruling Russia but let his brother Tsar Ivan V perform ceremonial duties. Petr was influenced by his mother Natalia until her death in January 1694, and he appointed her brother Lev Naryshkin to be Director of Foreign Affairs and Tikhon Streshnev as Minister of War and for Internal Affairs. Petr’s closest foreign friends were the Swiss Franz Lefort and the Scottish General Patrick Gordon, and he gave bonuses to the foreign officers and musketeers. Patriarch Ioakim persuaded Petr to arrest Sil’vestr Medvedev and to expel the Jesuits from Russia. Petr filled the top offices with his boyar supporters while Prince Boris Golitsyn remained in the Kazan Palace. Petr’s personal attendant Gavriil I. Golovkin became head of the Treasury.
Tsaritsa Evdokiia gave birth to Aleksei on February 18, 1690. When Patriarch Ioakim died on March 17, Tsar Petr wanted his successor to be Markell, the Metropolitan of Pskov; but church leaders chose Adrian, Metropolitan of Kazan. Muscovite aristocrats blamed Poland-Lithuania for not supporting the campaign against the Turks in 1689 and regretted the expense, and Poland’s Jan III Sobieski failed to get Russian support for his campaign against the Turks in 1691. That summer Petr dined at the houses of the ambassadors from Denmark, Sweden, and Holland. In the fall he supervised a mock battle between the Preobrazhenskii and Semenovskii regiments.
In 1692 Petr spent his time on military exercises, sailing, and with his mistress Anna Mons, daughter of a German merchant. He appointed Prince Fyodor I. Romodanovskii head of the Preobrazhenskii Chancellery and let him take care of the court including trials of the Tsar’s opponents. Petr with more than a hundred people went on a trip to Russia’s only northern port at Archangel from July 4 to October 1, 1693. He suffered a serious illness from November to January 1694 and nearly died. After the death of his mother Natalia on January 25, he became more independent and visited Archangel again from May 18 to September 5. Another military exercise was conducted with 30,000 men south of Moscow from September 23 to October 18 with Romodanovskii commanding one side and Avtomon M. Golovin the other. That year promotions to and within the Duma practically ceased with rare exceptions. After 1696 the Duma met only occasionally for matters of great importance.
In the spring of 1695 Tsar Petr led a Russian army with 30,000 men commanded by Gordon, Lefort, and A. M. Golovin going to the Sea of Azov while another army of 120,000 men under Boris P. Sheremetev and Hetman Ivan Mazepa successfully attacked and took over four Turkish forts on the Dnieper River. The siege of Azov began in July, but an attack on August 5 was disastrous. An attempted mining operation brought more losses on September 16, and an assault the next day resulted in heavy casualties. They lifted the siege on October 20, and on their return to Moscow they suffered exhaustion, frosts, and disease. Petr blamed this failure on divided command, lack of skilled engineers, and no control of the sea. He decided they needed a navy and ordered 27,828 men to work in shipyards at Voronezh on the upper Don to build a fleet. Lev Naryshkin in Moscow attempted to stop an investigation of corruption by his relatives, and Petr M. Dolgorukii and Fyodor P Izmailov were dragged through the city for having criticized the Tsar. Petr’s brother Ivan V died on January 28, 1696. This time with hundreds of barges and galleys 46,000 Russian forces and 20,000 Cossacks captured Azov on July 19, 1696 with the help of Russian galleys keeping Turkish ships from landing soldiers. Petr and his victorious army paraded in triumph through Moscow on September 30.
On December 6 sole Tsar Petr announced that a great embassy would be going to Europe. On January 7, 1697 the abbot Avraamii presented a petition to Petr complaining that he was ignoring and harming the Church, and he was arrested and imprisoned in the Golutvin Monastery. A conspiracy against Tsar Petr was suspected, and Tsykler and two others were beheaded on March 4. Petr wanted a divorce and sent his wife’s Lopukhin relatives to govern in remote regions.
Petr left the government under his uncle Lev Naryshkin, Prince Boris Golitsyn, Streshnev, and Prince Fyodor I. Romodanovskii. He gave orders to secure Azov and build its harbor and named Aleksei S. Shein as supreme commander. He sent envoys to Louis XIV; but issues of security and mistrust hampered communication, and Petr decided to skip France, partly because they were allied with the Turks. On March 10 he began his educational journey incognito as Petr Mikhailov with 270 people. General-Admiral Lefort, who also governed Novgorod, was made chief of the great embassy and was assisted by ambassadors Fyodor Golovin and Prokofy Voznitsyn, Governor of Bolkhov. They passed through Novgorod and Pskov and entered Livonia, which was ruled by Sweden. Petr was eagerly studying the fortifications at Riga which bothered Governor Erik Dahlbergh and the Swedes who had faced a Russian attack forty years earlier. Three years later Petr would claim that Swedish rudeness was a factor in his deciding to go to war against Sweden, and Petr would lead the attack that took back Riga in 1710.
They traveled by sea to Königsberg, and Petr went hunting with Brandenburg’s Elector Friedrich Wilhelm who granted him a generous allowance for expenses. Petr went to a shipyard at Zaandam in Holland with carpenter tools he bought and got a job, but they only stayed there one week. He was identified, and news of his visit spread across Holland. They spent four months in Amsterdam where Petr worked in a dockyard, and they built a ship they launched on November 16. He also visited factories, sawmills, textile mills, museums, gardens, and laboratories. Petr bought paintings of ships and the sea, and he carried surgical tools which he used for dissection, bleeding, pulling teeth, and other minor operations. At Delft he talked with Anton van Leeuwenhoek, who had invented the microscope and discovered spermatozoa.
Petr conversed with Willem of Orange at Utrecht and the same man as King William III at London in January 1698. William gave him the Royal Transport yacht. Petr observed the Parliament and liked how they spoke openly to the King, though he considered it inappropriate for Russia. He was amazed at how much revenue they could authorize in one bill. Petr bought about 35,000 new flintlocks with ring bayonets. Godfrey Kneller painted his portrait, and the Tsar spoke with Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury. Petr attended several Quaker meetings and talked with William Penn in Dutch, and he called the Friends’ life happy. He had already approved the sale and smoking of tobacco, and on April 28 he agreed to let the Marquis of Carmarthen import 1.5 million pounds of tobacco into Russia with no customs duties and sell it without restriction in exchange for £28,000 with a cash advance. While visiting the Tower he studied the mint and used it as a model to reform Russia’s coinage two years later. Before leaving, Petr gave William a large diamond, or perhaps it was a ruby. The embassy returned to Amsterdam and passed through Leipzig, Dresden, and Prague on the way to Vienna where he conversed with the elderly Emperor Leopold who promised he would not sign a treaty without informing Petr of its terms.
On June 14, 1698 Fyodor Romodanovskii wrote to Petr that four regiments of Streltsy musketeers were rebelling against their commander Prince Mikhail G. Romodanovskii while fighting on the Polish frontier in support of August II and that they were marching to Moscow with petitions. On July 16 Petr wrote back from Vienna that he was cancelling his trip to Venice and would return to Moscow. In Moscow the Patriarch Adrian and the Lopukhins were opposing Petr’s policies. Adrian objected to a tobacco monopoly that the Tsar had given to the Russian merchant Martyn B. Orlenok. Petr’s wife Evdokia agreed to enter a convent if her son Aleksei could visit her. At Krakow a messenger told Petr that 130 rebels had been executed and that 1,860 were prisoners. He stopped at Rawa in Galicia to meet with Poland’s King August II, and after drinking they agreed to form a secret alliance against Sweden.
Petr returned to Moscow on August 25 but stopped to see Anna Mons before meeting his wife and the boyars. They had been gone for 18 months, spent 2.5 million roubles, and recruited 750 foreigners to come and work in Russia including 345 sailors, 72 pilots, 50 physicians, 35 lieutenants, and several sea captains. The next day Petr used a razor to shave off the beards of all but three of the boyars. He decreed that all but clergy must shave, though later to keep a beard they could pay an annual tax that was progressive with gentry paying much more than peasants.
After ceremonies on September 4 at a banquet Petr charged General Shein with accepting bribes to promote 500 officers, and he threatened to strike his regiment and skin him. He ordered an investigation into this and the rebellion which resulted in the execution of 130 rebels, starting on September 30. On October 18 by the Novodevichii Convent, where Petr’s sister Sofia lived, 47 musketeers were hanged. Sofia and his wife Evdokiia were forced to take vows as nuns. The prisoners were interrogated and tortured by caning, whipping, and burning. The Patriarch begged for mercy, but Petr believed that cruelty would save Moscow. He commuted death sentences for those under 20 to branding on the cheek and exile while others were mutilated. Boyars were ordered to carry out executions with axes. Altogether of the two thousand musketeers who rebelled about a thousand were executed. In the next spring Petr ordered the remaining Streltsy regiments disbanded.
Tsar Petr formed a new government in early 1699. Some boyars did not like his intention to ally with Poland’s August II, and Lefort and Boris Golitsyn opposed a treaty with Denmark. Petr relied on his long-time friend Alexander Menshikov and Fyodor A. Golovin, and his former tutor Nikita Zotov headed the Privy Chancellery. Petr negotiated with Danish ambassador Paul Heins, and they formed an alliance on April 11. That spring Russia had 86 ships including 18 that could carry about forty guns each, and the fleet reached Azov on May 13. The first Russian ship to sail through the Black Sea reached the Bosphorus on September 2. Georg Karl von Carlowitz arranged for a formal treaty between August II and Petr by November. Russia created 31 new regiments for an army of 32,000 men.
Russians had begun their year on September 1, and 1699 for them was 7207; but Petr announced in December that they would begin a new year on January 1, 1700 using the Julian (OS) calendar. That month he decreed that all boyars, officials, and men with property must dress like Europeans. Russia also began selling stamped paper which must be used for all contracts, petitions, and other documents. Peter initiated the Order of St. Andrew for Russian knights.
By January 1700 the generals Lefort, Gordon, and Shein had died. On April 24 Tsar Petr appointed Prince Andrei Khilkov his ambassador to Sweden. Russia and the Ottoman Empire ended five years of war with a truce in July. Petr in August selected the boyar admiral Fyodor A. Golovin as field marshal and Sheremetev to lead the cavalry, and he added the former imperial general Charles Eugene, Duke de Croy, as another field marshal. Prince Trubetskoi governed Novgorod, and Petr in September ordered him to invest Narva with 8,000 men. They learned in October that Sweden’s Karl XII had invaded Estonia, and by November 37,000 Russian troops with 195 field guns had surrounded the city of Narva and its garrison of 1,800 men with 297 cannons. On the 19th the relieving Swedish army of 10,500 defeated the Russians, killing more than 9,000 and capturing 20,000 including de Croy and nine other Russian generals. Prince Repnin reorganized Russian forces at Novgorod, and Petr ordered Boris P. Sheremetev’s cavalry to attack the Swedes in Livonia.
In January 1701 Petr put the Monastery Chancellery under Ivan Musin-Pushkin to increase the war chest, ordering church bells to be melted down for cannons and taxing beards. In February the Tsar met with August II at Birze in Livonia and promised up to 20,000 Russian infantry to serve in Saxony and to provide August with 100,000 roubles annually for three years. In June he put Sheremetev in command of the army. The Swedish navy’s attack on Archangel failed while their armies made gains until Sheremetev defeated outnumbered Swedes at Errestfer in Livonia on December 29. Also in 1701 Petr appointed his friend Menshikov to supervise Tsarevich Aleksei Petrovich who was tutored in Latin by Martin Neugebauer of Danzig. That year Petr founded the School of Mathematical and Naval Sciences which had 300 students of mathematics by 1703. An artillery school also began in 1701 with 180 students. In the next eight years the Russian army would recruit 138,000 men. In 1700 Russia had six iron smelters which produced 2,000 tons, but by 1710 they had seventeen producing 5,000 tons.
Early in 1702 Baron Johann Georg von Keyserling arrived as the Prussian ambassador. Boyars met in the Duma to discuss the Zaporozhian Cossacks’ revolt and their alliance with Crimean Tatars, and they sent a small army with Russian cavalry to fortify the Dnieper region. Petr issued a proclamation in April inviting military officers, artisans, and merchants to help him bring about reforms. Sheremetev’s army defeated the Swedes in July near Dorpat. Then the Russian army led by Petr besieged Nöteborg on September 26 and captured it on October 11. Petr suspended generals Repnin and Petr Apraksin for corruption and made Menshikov a general before leading the army back to Moscow in triumph with the captured cannons and Swedish prisoners. Nöteborg was renamed Schlüsselburg, and Menshikov became its governor.
On January 2, 1703 Russia’s first newspaper, Vedomosti (News), began publishing. On May 12 Tsar Petr led the capture of the Swedish fortress at Nyenskans, and 15 days later he began the construction of a new city at the mouth of the Neva River he would call St. Petersburg. When a Swedish force of 4,000 men arrived, Petr led 7,000 soldiers who drove them away on June 26. Workers were conscripted peasants and some Swedish prisoners who suffered from scurvy, dysentery, malaria, and other diseases with about 30,000 dying. Between 1708 and 1713 about 166,000 more people were sent to work in the new city. In 1714 Petr prohibited the building of stone houses anywhere in Russia except St. Petersburg where every noble was commanded to build a stone house.
In 1703 the Russian army completed its conquest of Ingria. Menshikov added a tax on wood, and resentment against him increased. The army resented his taking the best recruits for his regiment. He became friends with the Livonian servant Marfa Skavronskaya; but she and Petr would fall in love, and she secretly would become his second wife in 1707, mother of twelve children, and eventually Empress Ekaterina (Catherine I). By the end of 1703 Anna Mons was engaged to marry ambassador Keyserling. In the summer of 1704 Russians led by Sheremetev regained Dorpat and Narva.
Sweden had defeated Denmark in 1700, and from 1704 to 1706 August II was preoccupied with a civil war and fighting the Swedes in Poland. Russia raised money by weakening the currency, and on January 1, 1705 Russia monopolized the sale of salt. Menshikov quarreled with Sheremetev and the new field marshal, Baron Georg Ogilvy. In July the Swedes led by Karl XII defeated Sheremetev’s army at Gemauerthof and then occupied Kurland. That month Bashkirs and Russian soldiers in Astrakhan revolted, and Petr learned about it in September. After Sheremetev recovered from his wounds, Petr sent him with four regiments to Astrakhan to quell the rebellion. Menshikov commanded the Russian army in Poland. Peter decreed that one man from every twenty peasant households must be recruited for the army.
After Sweden’s victory at Fraustadt in February 1706 Petr ordered the Russians to retreat to Kiev, and he canceled the decree on beards and western dress in the Volga region. On March 13 Sheremetev’s army stormed Astrakhan, and he offered amnesty; but many were taken to Moscow as prisoners, and 365 Astrakhans were executed or died from torture. That summer Petr learned that the Swedish army had moved west to Silesia, and he went to St. Petersburg. Fyodor Golovin had been prime minister, but he died suddenly on July 30, and only after his funeral in March 1707 did Fyodor Apraksin take over the admiralty and Gavriil I. Golovkin foreign affairs. Menshikov led the Russian army that with help from Saxon and Polish allies defeated the Swedes at Kalisz on October 18. Russia had produced 6,000 flintlocks with bayonets in 1701, and by 1706 they were turning out 30,000 a year.
During the winter of 1706-07 Petr prepared the Russians for a Swedish campaign while in his headquarters at Żółkiew (Zhovka) in Polish Galicia near Lwów, and he ordered Pskov, Kiev, and Moscow fortified. The Russian army had 45,000 effective soldiers, but Menshikov and Sheremetev were still quarreling. Taxes were increased, and many blamed Menshikov. Petr at Easter made Menshikov prince of Ingria, though he criticized him for violating his decree against pillaging Polish estates. In the spring of 1707 Tsar Petr sent his son Aleksei to Smolensk to collect grain for the garrison, and he stayed there through August. Sheremetev led the infantry as they retreated toward Brest. Petr had a severe fever in July, and he went to St. Petersburg in October. He sent Aleksei to supervise Moscow’s fortification and to attend the Privy Chancellery meetings which were replacing the Duma of the boyars with the government’s officers. Petr ordered the ministers to record all their decisions in writing. The Don Cossack Kondratii Bulavin led attacks against Russian soldiers sent to return runaway serfs from the Don region, and on October 9 they killed Prince Iurii V. Dolgorukii. Then Bulavin was defeated and fled to Zaporozhe, but after winter they came back. Petr sent Prince Vasilii V. Dolgorukii to avenge his brother. The Russians defeated the rebels in June 1708, and Bulavin was killed by his followers in July. That month Hetman Mazepa executed his rivals Vasyl’ Kochubei and Ivan Iskra.
On December 18, 1708 Tsar Petr began reorganizing Russia into nine gubernias (administrative provinces), and in February 1709 he appointed the aristocratic governors. They were Tikhon Streshnev in Moscow, Prince Menshikov in Ingria (St. Petersburg), Prince Petr A. Golitsyn in Archangel, Petr S. Saltykov in Smolensk, Petr M. Apraksin in Kazan, Prince Dmitrii M. Golitsyn in Kiev, Fyodor M. Apraksin in Voronezh, Ivan A. Tolstoi in Azov, and Prince Matvei P. Gagarin in Siberia. The governors appointed their own subordinates and had financial control of their provinces, but Petr retained power over foreign affairs and the army. Golovkin still held the important foreign affairs chancellery, but military recruiting was assigned to the governors.
In January 1708 Sweden’s Karl XII took over Grodno and moved his army east to Smorgon and Minsk which they left on June 8. On July 3 the Swedes defeated Repnin’s Russian corps at Golovchino (Holowczyn). Russians fought better at Dobroe on August 30. The Swedes had marched hundreds of miles over land stripped of food and burned by the Russians, and they were running out of ammunition. When they reached the Russian frontier at Starishi, they found the same scorched earth. Now the Russian army with the Kalmyks and Cossacks began harassing the Swedish flanks and rear. On September 14 Karl turned his army south toward Ukraine. Adam Lewenhaupt’s army was trying to join with Karl’s forces, but on September 28 Menshikov’s cavalry defeated them at Lesnaia, capturing all their supplies. On October 25 Hetman Ivan Mazepa leading 8,000 Cossacks defected from the Russians and joined Karl’s Swedish army at the Desna River. On November 2 the cavalry led by Menshikov destroyed Mazepa’s capital at Baturin, and Col. Ivan Skoropads’kyi of the Starodub regiment was elected the new hetman. Most of the Ukrainian Cossacks and their officers remained loyal to Petr. Both sides went into winter quarters in Ukraine.
By March 12, 1709 Mazepa had gained some support from Zaporozhian Cossacks led by Hetman Kost Hordienko. Petr sent forces who pushed the Zaporozhians out of Perevolochna, and they were defeated on May 14. On April 1 Karl XII had begun a siege of Poltava as the Swedish army surrounded the town. Peter ordered the Russian army of about 75,000 men to gather across the Vorskla River from Poltava, and in June he arrived and had the Russian army move across the river to a fortified camp near the Swedish army of 30,000 men. On June 27 about 16,500 Swedes attacked 42,000 Russians who claimed they killed 9,234 enemies and captured about 2,900 while they suffered some 5,000 casualties. The Swedish army was broken, and wounded Karl XII led the remnant south into Turkey and stayed there for four years.
Tsar Petr returned to Moscow, and they celebrated the great victory on January 1, 1710. The new gubernias began functioning, and a European-style court developed with the Dolgorukii family becoming most influential, especially Prince Vasilii V. Dolgorukii who had been Petr’s adjutant. Petr set the revenue from each province for the four remaining chancelleries—Foreign Affairs, War, Navy, and Artillery. Governors were in charge of domestic affairs. The Treasury Chancellery under Petr I. Prozorovskii was replaced by Aleksei A. Kurbatov’s ratusha. Musin-Pushkin administered Church properties which without a patriarch were under the Tsar.
The Russian army moved west and invaded Poland on August 19, enabling their ally August II to return to the throne. Russian forces also took over Swedish provinces in the Baltic region. The navy helped the army take over Viborg in June. Riga suffered a plague, and the Swedes surrendered it on July 4. The Russians captured Reval on September 29. Petr confirmed traditional privileges, and many German nobles went over to Petr. He appointed Gerhard Johann von Löwenwolde plenipotentiary in Livonia. Petr had his niece Anna marry Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Kurland in November; but he died on January 21, 1711, and she ruled the duchy until she became Empress of Russia in 1730.
In December 1710 Petr learned that the Turks were at war with Russia, and he transferred about 45,000 soldiers to the south. In the Baltic he wanted a field army of 12,000 men and 10,000 in Livonia, but Moscow did not meet its quota nor did Archangel and Siberia, making Petr so angry that he had Streshnev, Prince Petr A. Golitsyn, and Prince Gagarin imprisoned for two days. On February 22, 1711 Petr replaced the Privy Chancellery with a Senate to govern when he was away. He gave them the power to hold court and punish judges, supervise finances, eliminate unnecessary expenditures, and collect taxes for war. A fiskaly was to investigate abuses and publish the Senate’s decrees. The nine senators he appointed included Musin-Pushkin, Streshnev, Petr Golitsyn, and Prince Mikhail V. Dolgorukii.
Petr led the Russian campaign against the Turks and signed a treaty with Prince Dimitrie Cantemir of Moldavia on April 13, 1711. General Sheremetev commanded the army that fought for four days at Stănileşti before surrendering on July 12 while armies of Russians and Moldavians captured the port of Brăila. Russia in the treaty made by the Pruth River returned Azov to the Ottoman Empire and agreed to dismantle the navy there and the fortresses on the lower Dnieper and not invade Poland-Lithuania, and their army was allowed free passage out of Ottoman territory. In August the Danes invaded Swedish Pomerania and besieged Stralsund. Petr sent an army and left Sheremetev to complete the treaty with Sultan Ahmed III while he took the waters at Karlsbad and attended his son Aleksei’s wedding to Princess Charlotte of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel at Torgau in Saxony on October 25. That summer Prince Iakov F. Dolgorukii escaped after being in prison in Sweden for eleven years, and he was appointed to the Senate.
In January 1712 the Senate met with Tsar Petr at St. Petersburg and passed 37 decrees on trade, inheritance, and defense of the southern frontier. Governors were not allowed to impose taxes without the consent of the Senate. Petr and Ekaterina, his mistress since 1704, had married secretly in 1707 and did so officially on February 9, 1712. On December 18, 1709 she had given birth to Elizabeth, who would rule Russia for twenty years.
To increase the population Petr in 1712 founded hospitals which would accept secretly children of unwed mothers, and he added more in 1714 and 1715, though they were dismantled after his death in 1725. In the 1670s Russia’s population was about 11 million, but by 1719 there were 15.5 million, greatly surpassing Poland-Lithuania and Sweden. Siberia’s population in 1662 was about 70,000 including 20,000 troops, but by 1700 it had increased to more than 300,000.
The Russians had surrounded Stralsund, and in June 1712 they blockaded Stettin at the mouth of the Oder. In September a Swedish army of 12,000 men led by Marshal Magnus Stenbock arrived and moved into Holstein, but they were forced to surrender at Tönning on May 16, 1713. Petr was upset that Menshikov did not follow his orders in regard to the prisoners because of a bribe. Menshikov then made a deal to hand over Stettin to Prussia which gave it to Holstein. Petr believed this endangered his alliance with Denmark, and he refused to ratify the agreement. He maintained the alliance with Denmark even though it irritated Prussia’s Friedrich. Nonetheless Petr appointed Menshikov to govern Estonia and Livonia and ordered a naval base built at Tallin. Also in 1713 he required Muslim nobles in Kazan and reclaimed Azov to convert to Christianity or lose their estates and Orthodox serfs.
The fiskaly began bringing corruption charges in April 1712, and Tsar Petr asked his son Aleksei to examine Menshikov’s administration of St. Petersburg. In July 1713 he appointed Prince Petr A. Golitsyn to govern the province of Riga, and Menshikov was removed from the Baltic provinces and replaced by a Dolgorukii. In the summer Petr began moving government offices from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and he and Admiral Fyodor M. Apraksin led the conquest of Finland, taking Helsingfors (Helsinki) and Abo (Turku). On February 19, 1714 Russians defeated the Swedes and Finns at the battle of Isokyro, and they won a naval victory off Cape Hangö on July 27, 1714. Russians occupied Finland for the next seven years.
Early in 1714 a decree required the children of nobles to learn arithmetic and elementary geometry before they could marry. On March 23 Petr decreed that landed estates would no longer be divided by inheritance but must go to one person, though movable property still could be divided. While celebrating Menshikov’s name day on November 23 Petr accused him of stealing millions from the government. He set up a commission to investigate led by Prince Vasilii V. Dolgorukii. Senators Vasilii Apukhthin, Grigorii Volkonskii, and Iakov Rimskii-Korsakov were imprisoned and punished. Admiral Apraksin and Gavriil I. Golovkin were forgiven. Petr issued decrees to prevent corruption in the future, and in March 1715 he replaced the chancelleries with administrative colleges as in Sweden. On April 17 Prince Gagarin was replaced for having embezzled 80,000 roubles appropriated for secret correspondence.
1. The Rise of the Romanovs by Vasili Klyuchevsky tr. Liliana Archibald, p. 25.