BECK index

Eastern Europe 1588-1648

by Sanderson Beck

Hungary and Transylvania 1588-1648
Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt III 1587-1600
Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt III 1600-32
Poland-Lithuania 1632-48
Russia of Boris Godunov 1588-1605
Russia’s Time of Troubles 1605-13
Russia under Romanovs 1613-48

EUROPE Wars & Plays 1588-1648 has been published as a book .
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Hungary and Transylvania 1588-1648

Hungary and Transylvania 1517-88

      In 1590 Gaspar Karolyi published the entire Bible in Hungarian. After border skirmishes in 1591 and 1592 the Ottoman Grand Vizier Koca Sinan Pasha declared war, and on June 22, 1593 his army attacked Sisak in Croatia, which was part of the kingdom of Hungary. The Turks also occupied Veszprém and Varpalota in the Long War also known as the Fifteen Years’ War. The Grand Vizier Sinan asked the young Prince of Transylvania, Zsigmund Bathory, to fight with the Turks against the Habsburg Empire. However, Zsigmund relied on his advisor Istvan Bocskai who persuaded him to join the Christian League of the Austrian Habsburgs against the Turks, and in 1595 the Transylvanian Diet voted to do so. Zsigmund agreed to recognize Rudolf I as King of Hungary in exchange for the Habsburg accepting him as hereditary Prince of Transylvania. Prince Zsigmond Bathory married the Habsburg princess Maria-Christina; but he was a homosexual, and the union was not consummated. Transylvania was also allied with the Wallachian Vajda Michael the Brave, and both were Turkish vassals. Michael’s army of 16,000 attacked the Ottoman army of 100,000 at Calugareni on August 23, 1595 and won a decisive victory as the Turks suffered ten times as many casualties. Then they joined Transylvania’s army of 40,000 led by the Hungarian Istvan Bocskai that liberated Targoviste on October 8, Bucharest on the 12th, and Braila in Wallachia on the 29th. In 1596 Sultan Mehmet III led the Turks as they captured Eger. Then at Keresztes in late October their army of about 100,000 Turks defeated the Habsburg-Transylvanian army of less than 50,000 with each side losing about 20,000 men.
      The Habsburg-Ottoman war went on for ten more years, devastating both Hungary and Transylvania which lost half its people. In April 1598 Zsigmond abdicated as Prince of Transylvania in favor of Emperor Rudolf II, but Zsigmond changed his mind in October in favor of his cousin Cardinal Andras Bathory which put Transylvania under Poland. The Catholics occupied Transylvania in 1598, and Archduke Ferdinand claimed fullness of power over religion; but their impositions provoked a revolt by the Hungarians. Zsigmund Bathory abdicated again in 1599. The Austrians defeated Andras on October 5, 1599 and governed Transylvania. Although the Christians recaptured Gyor in 1598, the Turks in 1600 occupied Nagykanizsa which connected Hungary with Slavonia. German mercenaries had replaced Hungarian officers, and Austrian merchants monopolized the supplies for the army. When Baron Istvan Illéshazy objected, he was accused of treason. Although he was acquitted by a Hungarian court, Vienna sentenced him to death; so he fled to Poland.
      Istvan Bocskai had retired and considered allying with the Turks. Austrians learned of this and sent the imperial General Giorgio Basta who allied with Michael of Wallachia to punish Transylvania. Zsigmond tried to regain his throne with help from Poland, but he was defeated by the Habsburg troops and Wallachia’s Michael at the battle of Guruslau on August 3, 1601, losing 10,000 men. Six days later General Basta had Michael assassinated, giving Transylvania back to Rudolf.
      The Catholic counter-reformation was imposed on Protestant Hungarians. In 1604 the imperial General Belgiojoso was governing Kassa, and he forced the Protestant churches to serve the Catholics and confiscated property of those who resisted. This persecution spread to other towns. That year Archduke Matthias added Clause 22 to a law making it treason to discuss any religious issue in the Hungarian Diet.
      While in exile in Turkish territory young Gabriel Bethlen urged Istvan Bocskai to lead a Transylvanian revolt against Habsburg rule. Haiduks were evicted peasants, escaped serfs, and broke nobles who would fight for money, and Bocskai gathered a few hundred in Bihar county. Soon his army grew to 5,000 men. At first they lost battles to the imperial army led by Belgiojoso, but they learned how to fight as guerrillas. In 1604 Sultan Achmed I sent an army led by Bocskai into Transylvania that expelled the Austrians led by Basta. On February 21, 1605 Transylvanians elected Istvan Bocskai their prince. Then on April 20 the estates elected him to govern Hungary, and he was recognized by the Austrians. That summer his army liberated Pozsony, Gyor, and Komarom. The haiduks plundered Lower Austria, Moravia, and Silesia and occupied Transylvania and some of Royal Hungary.
      Bocskai demanded and Emperor Rudolf II made concessions granting religious freedom to Hungarian Protestants in his third of the country. On June 23, 1606 Archduke Matthias signed the Vienna treaty that ended the Long War and recognized Bocskai as ruler of Transylvania, but it would revert to the Habsburg king upon his death. The only concession Matthias refused was to expel the Jesuits. In the treaty at Zsitvatorok on November 11 Sultan Ahmed gave up the annual tribute in exchange for 20,000 gulden, but he forced Transylvania’s Prince Bocskai to give up the counties of Ugocsa, Bereg, and Szatmar. The Ottoman Empire still ruled more than half of what is now Hungary. The frequent wars of the previous century had devastated Hungary, and the population of Transylvania had been cut in half. On December 29 Bocskai was poisoned in Kassa by his Chancellor Mihaly Kathay who was then killed in the marketplace by Bocskai’s followers.
      Archduke Matthias was crowned as King of Hungary and Croatia at Pressburg on November 19, 1608 while confirming privileges and granting religious liberty to Protestants. After the invasion by the army of Matthias failed to take over Bohemia that year, Emperor Rudolf ceded Hungary and the two Austrias to Matthias at Liben. The position of palatine was restored and given to the entrepreneur Istvan Illeshazy.
      On October 27, 1613 the estates elected Gabriel Bethlen Prince of Transylvania, and he quickly strengthened central power. His monopolies and mercantilist policy increased revenues which he used to support education and the arts. In 1615 the Diet approved using most of the fines from religious infractions to build and improve churches and schools. Bethlen imposed a fine of 1,000 florins on landlords who did not allow their serfs to go to school. Transylvanian theology students were encouraged to study abroad. Janos Tolnai had founded the Puritan League in England, and he returned to reform the schools with teaching in Hungarian and to make the Church more democratic. Bethlen announced his intention to make Hungary independent, and he described Transylvania as a holy alliance of Hungarians, Saxons, and Székeley.
      Matthias summoned an imperial diet and drove the Turks from Moldavia and Wallachia. He promised Protestants he would reform the Aulic Council and restore the privileges of Donauworth, but those attending the diet could not agree. On February 20, 1614 Matthias revived the ban against Protestants and entrusted Archduke Albrecht and the Elector of Cologne to enforce it. On November 12 at Xanten they agreed that Cleves and Xanten would be inherited by the Margrave Johann Sigismund of Brandenburg and that the foreign troops would leave the country.
      In September 1619 Prince Bethlen led his Transylvanian army into Royal Hungary and conquered the north, taking Kassa and Pozsony. Then they invaded Austria and joined the Bohemian army in the siege of Vienna. Doubting its success, Bethlen withdrew his army. On August 25, 1620 the Diet elected him King of Hungary; he declined the crown but accepted the title “Prince of Hungary.” Short of money, Bethlen agreed to a nine-month truce with Emperor Ferdinand II. The next year the wealthy imperial forces recaptured Pozsony and other towns. On December 31, 1621 Bethlen agreed to a peace treaty with Ferdinand who became King of Hungary, but four Hungarian counties became part of Transylvania. Bethlen began another campaign against the empire in the spring of 1623, and they occupied Kassa, seized Nagyszombat, and besieged Hodonin in Moravia. Without support from the Protestant Union he made another truce in September 1624.
      Bethlen married the Brandenburg Elector’s sister Catherine in 1626, and the Protestant army of Count Mansfeld joined his army in northern Hungary to face Wallenstein’s army; but both armies were too exhausted to fight and went home. Charles I of England accepted Transylvania into its alliance with the Dutch United Provinces and Denmark. Bethlen made another peace treaty with Ferdinand II at Pozsony in 1627. Bethlen retired and died in 1629. His widow Catherine tried to return seven counties to Ferdinand that had been ceded for Bethlen’s lifetime, and the haiduks revolted. Palatine Miklos Eszterhazy led troops to suppress the rebellion, but they were defeated and withdrew. The Transylvanians elected the Protestant Baron György Rákóczi to replace Catherine, and he ceded the seven counties for assurances from Ferdinand on their rights.
      Péter Pazmany (1570-1637) led the counter-reformation in Hungary, and he complained that the treaty prohibited Jesuits from owning land in Hungary. He had been born into a Protestant family but became a Jesuit and taught at the University of Graz. He was a talented preacher and writer and was appointed Archbishop of Esztergom and Primate of Hungary in 1616. He opposed Bethlen’s military reaction to Habsburg rule, but he supported the reunion of Transylvania with an independent Hungary, opposing the election of the pro-Habsburg Miklos Eszterhazy as Palatine in 1625. By 1630 Pazmany had persuaded many barons to return to the Catholic faith, and in 1635 he founded a university in Budapest.
      Hungary improved some of its health conditions but suffered epidemics 1620-27, 1632-34, and 1643-45. The number of physicians increased, and high infant mortality was reduced. They grew and ate more vegetables and fruit. More people began using beds with sheets and changed their underwear more often. The production of wine increased, and by 1630 the sale of wine was 64% of a large estate’s income. Gradually the burghers made it more difficult for other families to join their elite status. By 1638 Catholics were a majority in the legislature, but the cities were still strongly Protestant.
      György Rákóczi accepted an alliance with Sweden in 1643 and invaded Royal Hungary the next year. The Turks persuaded him to renounce this alliance, and Transylvania made peace with Ferdinand III at Linz on August 24, 1645. Rakoczi was given the seven counties, and two of them also went to his heirs. When Rákóczi died in October 1648, the other five Hungarian counties went back to the Habsburg empire. After the European war ended, many Hungarians hoped that the Habsburg Empire would help them fight the Turks; but the Austrians had had enough of war.

Austrian Empire 1648-70

Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt III 1587-1600

Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt I 1517-48
Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt II 1548-72
Poland-Lithuania and Batory 1572-87

      Zygmunt III Vasa ruled the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom 1587-1632. His mother Katarzyna was the sister of Zygmunt II August, and his father Johan Vasa was Duke of Finland and had been imprisoned by Sweden’s Erik XIV before he replaced him in 1568 and ruled Sweden until 1592. His mother raised Zygmunt in prison and had him educated by Jesuits. He learned Swedish, German, Italian, Latin, and Polish, and he was a musician, painter, goldsmith, and alchemist. He sponsored commedia dell’arte at court, and Shakespeare plays were performed in Poland from 1609. Zygmunt was brought up by his mother as a Catholic and promoted the counter-reformation. In 1587 the Jesuit College at Wilno had sixty priests and novices with 700 students. A 1588 law in Lithuania ennobled any Jew who became a Catholic. In 1572 the commonwealth had 220 monasteries, but by 1648 there were 565. The Dominican Order had only 40 communities in 1579, but by 1648 there were 110.
      The Polish Diet met on June 29, 1587, and Chancellor Jan Zamojski brought an army of 6,000 soldiers to the electoral field near Warsaw. The electors considered Zamojski and Zygmunt Vasa of Sweden. Zamojski’s third wife was Gryzelda Batory, but he was fiercely opposed by the Zborowski family and lacked support. So he persuaded the nobles to elect Zygmunt Vasa. The delegates wanted Sweden to cede eastern Livonia (Estonia) to Poland, but Zygmunt disagreed. Yet the senators accepted him, and he was elected on August 19. He accepted the Pacta Conventa and the Henrician Articles. Those favoring the Habsburgs rejected him and proclaimed that Archduke Maximilian III of Austria was elected because he had accepted the Pacta on September 27 and promised military support and peace with Russia. Maximilian led an army to Krakow to claim the throne, but Zamojski organized the defense of the capital and led a charge that defeated the besiegers. Then his army drove Maximilian back to Silesia where he camped on December 16, but he and others were captured in the battle of Byczyna on January 24, 1588. An envoy from Pope Sixtus V got Maximilian released, and he returned to Vienna where he renounced the Polish crown in 1589.
      King Zygmunt III Vasa was 21 years old when he reached Gdansk (Danzig) on September 28, 1587. He refused to enter Poland until the envoys agreed to modify the Pacta clause on Livonia. Polish soldiers escorted him to Krakow, and he was crowned on December 27. He rewarded Zamojski with patronage but later turned to other advisors. Habsburg advocates joined the Zborowskis and blocked Zamojski’s attempt to reform royal elections because limiting them to Slavic candidates would have excluded Habsburgs. Zygmunt appointed only Catholics to high positions and relied on Catholic senators. In 1588 he signed the Third Lithuanian Statute to satisfy the magnates. He considered abdicating, and in 1589 he tried and failed to sell the Polish crown to Archduke Ernst in Vienna for 400,000 guilders.
      In 1583 King Stefan Batory had put 500 Zaporochian Cossacks on regular pay, and in 1590 Parliament increased this to 1,000 while restricting unregistered Cossacks. In 1591 the Catholic commander Krzysztof Kosinski led 5,000 unpaid soldiers and Cossacks in a revolt against the Ostrogski and Wisnioweicki estates in Podolia. They were joined by many peasants but were suppressed in 1593. Also in 1591 mobs attacked dissidents in Krakow and Wilno, and a convention at Chmielnik on July 25 demanded the King provide security. Zygmunt promised to do so but banned such conventions. Yet dissidents continued to hold meetings at Radom and at Lublin in April 1592. That year Zygmunt introduced a law that required approval of the Christian clergy for the building of a new synagogue.
      On May 31, 1592 Zygmunt III married the Habsburg Archduchess Anna despite opposition from many nobles. Zamojski summoned nobles to Jedrzejow on June 1 and revealed Zygmunt’s plan to sell the throne to Archduke Ernst. The Inquisition Diet met to investigate this on September 3, and Zygmunt repented and promised not to prosecute nobles for the meetings or leave Poland without the Diet’s permission. Jews fleeing persecution in other countries came to Poland over a long period, and by 1582 the Polish Commonwealth had more than 150,000 Jews. In 1592 Zygmunt renewed the General Charter of Jewish privileges. The number of Jews in Poland-Lithuania would increase to 450,000 by 1648. Moldavia was torn between Poland, Turkey, and Hungary, but in 1593 a Polish vassal gained the Moldavian throne.
      Zygmunt’s father Johan III died on November 17, 1592 and the Diet in May 1593 gave Zygmunt permission to go to Sweden. While remaining King of Poland-Lithuania, Zygmunt Vasa was crowned King Sigismund of Sweden on February 19, 1594, and he swore to uphold the Lutheran religion in Sweden. He let his uncle Duke Karl of Sodermanland rule Sweden as regent with the Swedish privy council. A revolt that year led by the Cossack Severyn Nalyvaiko spread to Belarus (White Russia), but Hetman Stanislaw Żółkiewski led the army that defeated them in 1596. Later they would use more than 30,000 Cossacks against the Swedes and Russians.
      Zygmunt’s father Johan III died on November 17, 1592 and the Diet in May 1593 gave Zygmunt permission to go to Sweden. While remaining King of Poland-Lithuania, Zygmunt Vasa was crowned King Sigismund of Sweden on February 19, 1594, and he swore to uphold the Lutheran religion in Sweden. He let his uncle Duke Karl of Sodermanland rule Sweden as regent with the Swedish privy council.
      Transylvania’s young Zsigmond Bathory invaded Moldavia and Wallachia in May 1595 and annexed them. Zamojski led 8,000 soldiers into Moldavia and put Jeremiah Mohyla on the throne as a vassal of Poland. An army of Tatars and Turks attacked the Polish camp at Cecora; but they withstood the siege for three days, and on October 20 Zamojski negotiated a treaty that recognized Mohyla as hospodar.
      Sweden had not turned over eastern Livonia, and in 1595 the treaty of Tiavzin made Narva the border between Swedish territory to the west and Russian land to the east. Zygmunt III raised a navy and invaded Sweden in 1598 with an army of 5,000 men, but he was defeated and captured at the battle of Linkopin on November 5. He was deposed in Sweden in 1599 and surrendered his leading Swedish supporters to Karl who put them on trial in Parliament in 1600 and executed them. On February 24, 1600 Parliament deposed King Sigismund and declared Karl IX king of Sweden. In 1600 the population of Poland-Lithuania was ten million, second only to France in Europe.
      In 1588 the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople held synods at Wilno and Kamieniec Podolski. When the Moscow Patriarchate formed in 1589, the Eastern Orthodox Church came under pressure. Some Orthodox nobles became Calvinists or even Anabaptists. Prince Konstiantyn Ostrozky of Volhynia was palatine of Kiev and had worked for the Catholic-Orthodox union since 1577, founding many schools in the 1580s to educate clergy. In 1590 a synod of Orthodox bishops advocated union with Rome, and the next year they sent a memorial to Zygmunt III who agreed to grant them the rights enjoyed by the clergy of the Roman Church. The synod held at Brzesc (Brest-Litovsk) in June 1595 accepted the 1439 Union of Florence and sent delegates to Zygmunt and Pope Clement VIII, who confirmed the union of the eastern and western Churches with a bull. In October 1596 during another synod at Brzesc most of the Ruthenian bishops agreed to the union. The Orthodox had to recognize the Pope instead of the Patriarch, but these Uniates were allowed to use their Slavonic liturgy and let priests be married. Some Orthodox believers declined to do this, and thus there were now three major groups.
      The Catholic counter-reformation was proceeding, and the number of Protestants was dwindling. Although Zygmunt III recognized religious liberty, he did not punish mobs who attacked Protestant minorities in Krakow in 1591. He tried to stop Protestants from holding synods, and Jews and Muslim Tatars were also persecuted. The Jesuit Piotr Skarga had first published a popular Lives of the Saints in 1579, and his Parliament Sermons were issued in 1597. He hoped to limit Parliament to voting on taxes and presenting petitions. By the end of the century the Jesuits had published 344 books in Poland.
      Zygmunt III and Chancellor Zamojski helped Bishop Bernard Maciejowski, Archbishop Solikowski, and the Jesuits implement the union. Greek-Catholic (Uniate) bishops were allowed in the Senate. Yet many of the Polish Catholics never accepted the Greek Catholics as equals and tried to convert them to Roman Catholicism. They had neglected to inform Ostrozky, and he rejected the Brzesc Union as too limited. In 1599 he organized a confederation of Orthodox nobles and Protestants dedicated to organized synods.
      By 1600 Chancellor Zamojski had acquired eleven cities and more than 200 villages. That year at the Diet of Warsaw he asked for military subsidies to attack Hospodar Michael of Wallachia who had invaded Moldavia, but the Diet was divided and did nothing. So Zamojski recruited 10,000 cavalry with his own money and defeated Michael on October 19, restoring Jeremiah Mohyla as Hospodar of Moldavia and putting his brother Simon Mohyla on the throne of Wallachia as a vassal of Poland. After Anna died in 1598, Zygmunt III wanted to marry her sister Konstanze of Austria, but Zamojski was vehemently opposed until his death on June 3, 1605. Then Zygmunt married her on December 11.
      In 1600 Volhynian and Kievan deputies called for cancellation of the Church union, and in the 1603 Parliament their demand for religious debate blocked other matters. With Cossacks and peasants they supported the old Orthodox Church. The Galician monk Ivan Vyshensky wrote advocating moral and political reform in the Orthodox Church. The Polish Diet refused to support Zygmunt’s war in Sweden in January 1600, but he raised forces in Livonia to attack Karl, who then invaded Polish Livonia.

Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt III 1600-32

      In 1601-02 Zamojski, Stanislaw Żółkiewski, and Jan Karol Chodkiewicz drove the Swedes from Livonia into Estonia. Karl wanted peace and offered to restore Livonia to Poland if his nephew Sigismund would renounce the crown of Sweden; but Zygmunt refused and continued the war. In March 1604 Karl was crowned King of Sweden, and he resumed the war against Poland by invading Livonia and besieging Riga. Chodkiewicz’s 4,000 men faced 14,000 Swedes at Kircholm on September 27, 1605 but defeated them, killing 9,000. The war against Sweden finally ended in 1608 when they agreed on an armistice because of the troubles in Russia.
      At the 1603 Diet a majority of the deputies still followed Zamojski, but King Zygmunt III controlled the Senate. The stalemate accomplished little. In 1605 Zygmunt on his own granted the Elector Joachim Friedrich of Brandenburg authority to act as administrator of East Prussia because Prince Albrecht was demented. Mobs attacked Protestant minorities in Poznan in 1606 and 1616 and often in Wilno.
      In March 1606 Zygmunt asked Parliament to fund a standing army with regular tax revenues, but those favoring peace refused and prevailed. Zygmunt used bribery and patronage, and rather than waiting for the traditional consensus he relied on majority votes. Mikolaj Zebrzydowski succeeded Zamojski as party leader and accused Zygmunt of trying to destroy the Polish constitution, and he instigated a revolt in 1607. Stanislaw Żółkiewski and Jan Karol Chodkiewicz led the army that defeated the rebels near Jedrzejow in Little Poland on July 7. Zygmunt forgave the rebels and tried to avoid constitutional clashes. He controlled the Senate and increased the number of Catholic senators. He let them handle relations with the Chamber of Deputies (Sejm). He gave Catholics leases on royal estates.
      In 1605 Poland-Lithuania allowed the Brandenburg Elector to govern Royal Prussia in exchange for 30,000 zlotys of annual military aid against Russia. During Russian turmoil a pretender to the throne called “Dmitri” married the Polish Marina Mniszech, but Polish Jesuits and nobles encouraged an uprising that overthrew him in May 1606. Vasily Shuisky murdered Dmitri and became Tsar. He tried to have good relations with Poland-Lithuania, and on July 20, 1608 Zygmunt III signed a four-year truce with Tsar Vasily IV. By 1608 there were 500 Jesuit priests and 25 Jesuit colleges. The Wilno Academy offered a modern education without tuition and attracted students from afar. Most were nobles, but burghers and peasants were included.
      In 1606 the Catholic Mikolaj Zebrzydowski led the armed rebellion against King Zygmunt III based in Sandomierz that also met in Lublin, Jedrzejow, and Wislica. They objected to the King limiting the power of the nobles that weakened the Sejm parliament and called for a hereditary monarchy instead of election. The nobles issued their demands in 67 articles, but the Sejm rejected them in 1607. Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz led the Polish army that defeated the rebels at Guzow on July 6. The uprising spread to Lithuania where Janusz Radziwiłł negotiated a settlement with the King in 1608. Chodkiewicz advised amnesty for the rebels, and at the Sejm in 1609 the dissenting nobles surrendered in exchange for leniency. The delegates resolved the conflict by voting for a general amnesty while guaranteeing the constitution.
      Lithuania’s Grand Chancellor Lew Sapieha persuaded the King of Poland to besiege Smolensk, and Żółkiewski led the invasion. Tsar Vasily IV proclaimed a holy war of the Orthodox against the Catholic invaders. On February 14, 1610 King Zygmunt III agreed at Smolensk to accept the Poles at Tushino into his army, and he promised religious freedom to the Orthodox. Another false “Dmitri” recruited 18,000 former followers of Zebrzydowski, and they camped at Tushino near Moscow in June; Marina claimed he was her husband. Meanwhile Tsar Vasily IV sent his army of 46,000 Russians and Swedes toward Smolensk, and Zygmunt sent Hetman Żółkiewski to meet them. In the battle of Klushino on June 23, 1610 the Polish with 6,000 men defeated 30,000 Muscovites and 5,000 German and Scottish mercenaries. Vasily IV was deposed in July.
      Some Russian boyars tried to make Zygmunt’s son Wladyslaw tsar in August and asked Żółkiewski to occupy Moscow for him. On August 28 Żółkiewski promised that Wladyslaw would convert to Russian Orthodoxy, protect that Church, return territory to Russia, and take over Swedish conquests. However, Zygmunt III rejected this and claimed the Russian throne himself. In December they learned that the second false Dmitri had been assassinated. The Muscovite boyars no longer needed the Polish garrison and attacked them in March 1611. The Polish troops found refuge in the Kremlin and withstood a siege for 19 months. Zygmunt took Smolensk after a two-year siege in April 1611 and forced its garrison to surrender on June 13.
      Zygmunt III went back to Poland and agreed to an armistice with Sweden on October 16, 1611. That year the Sejm prohibited anyone but nobles from buying a landed estate. In 1612 Lew Sapieha opposed Zygmunt’s using force to relieve the Polish garrison in Moscow, and the starved men in the garrison capitulated on October 22. The Russians rallied, regained Moscow in November, and made Mikhail Romanov tsar in February 1613. The Polish-Lithuanian armies retreated from Moscow in December. On March 23, 1613 Zygmunt made a secret alliance with the Habsburg Emperor Matthias against rebellious subjects. Then he summoned a Diet to appropriate a six-fold levy of the land tax to pay the arrears of the marauding soldiers. A Russian army besieged Smolensk in October. Cossacks resented the Polish withdrawing and raided in Turkey during the next four years. At Bursa in 1617 Poland agreed to restrain the Cossacks and not invade Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, and Sultan Ahmed promised to control the Crimean Tatars.
      Also in 1617 an army led by Prince Wladyslaw and Hetman Chodkiewicz invaded Russia. Again Wladyslaw hoped to become Tsar and made promises, but the limited Polish-Lithuanian forces failed to take over Muscovy. The Russians preferred Michael Romanov. At Dyvilino on January 3, 1619 Poland and Russia agreed to a truce for 14 years that gave Smolensk, Siewiersk, and Chernihiv to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Wladyslaw renounced his claim to the Muscovite throne.
      The power of the Sejm parliament declined, and in the first half of the 17th century they adjourned six times without passing a single law. After 1614 taxation was decided by local diets. Taxes varied greatly by district, and unpaid soldiers formed military leagues and plundered the country.
      When war broke out against the Habsburg empire in Bohemia in 1618, Aleksander Lisowski recruited troops during Poland’s war against Russia. These mercenaries won some battles against Gabriel Bethlen’s army that was besieging Vienna. In 1620 Brandenburg Elector Georg Wilhelm paid the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 200,000 zlotys as the final payment for Royal Prussia.
      Poland’s first war against the Turks since 1498 began in 1619 when Hetman Żółkiewski tried to take Moldavia from the Turkish prince Gaspar Gratiani. He also sent Cossack recruits against the Turkey’s vassal, Prince Gabriel Bethlen of Transylvania. Turks led by Iskender-Pasha invaded Moldavia in 1620, and in September they defeated the Polish army at Cecora (Ţuţora) on the Prut River, capturing Hetman Koniecpolski and the Cossack Chmielnicki. A small force led by 70-year-old Hetman Żółkiewski was also defeated at Cecora on October 7, and retreating Żółkiewski was killed.
      Zaporozhian Cossacks defended Orthodox religion and joined the Kievan brotherhood in 1620. Hetman Piotr Konaszewicz-Sahajdaczny raised an army of 40,000 Orthodox Cossacks, and they withstood assaults by the Turkish army in 1621. Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and Ataman Sahajdaczny commanded 65,000 Poles and Cossacks but were surrounded at Chocim on the Dniester by Sultan Osman II’s Ottoman army of about 200,000 men. The Polish army held out until their gunpowder was almost gone. Then a counter-attack by Polish cavalry persuaded the Turkish besiegers to agree to a treaty, and the Poles promised to stop interfering in Moldavia. The Dniester River became the border. The war had cost the Sejm an eightfold land-tax. After that they avoided the Thirty Years’ War and did not fight a major war against the Turks for a half century. In 1625 Hetman Koniecpolski allowed only 6,000 free Cossacks to be registered; the rest had to accept being peasants or burghers. Cossacks not registered rebelled and brought about minor increases in registration.
      By 1622 Poland had lost most of Livonia to the Swedes who blockaded the commercial port at the Vistula River in Royal Prussia. That year the Lithuanian magnate Krzysztof Radziwiłł negotiated an armistice with Sweden in opposition to Zygmunt’s policy, and the Grand Hetman Sapieha did the same thing in March 1626. In 1625 Sweden’s King Gustav Adolf had led the campaign in Livonia and occupied Dorpat, and in July 1626 he attacked Royal Prussia. That year the Polish war in Pomerania began. Zygmunt authorized the building of twenty warships in 1620, but the Swedes defeated them in Poland’s only naval battle off Oliwa in 1627. In 1629 the Swedes recaptured Riga, held Courland in western Livonia, and defeated the Poles at Gorzno. On September 25 Poland accepted a disadvantageous truce for six years at Altmark. Sweden gained most of the Prussian ports but would give them back in 1635.
      The Cossacks led peasant uprisings in the Ukraine in 1624 that went on for almost a decade. There Ruthenian nationalism challenged domination by magnates who owned three-fifths of the land in Volhynia. Magnate Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski held a hundred towns and 1,300 villages while Jarema Wisniowiecki owned the homes of 230,000 people. He and Dominik Zaslawski maintained regiments of two thousand or more men. The Ruthenian prince Wisniowiecki converted to Roman Catholicism in 1632, but the Orthodox prince Ostrogski proposed an Orthodox-Protestant alliance. About half the Ukrainians leaned toward Moscow instead of Poland.
      Poet Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (1595-1640) published his satire Liricorum Libri in Latin using the name Casimir in 1626, the year after Pope Urban VIII crowned him poet laureate. His expanded books of lyrics were published in sixty editions in various countries.
      Marcin Smiglecki and Szymon Starowolski led the counter-reformation and demanded that serf labor be reduced and that they have the right to leave the land. Peasants fled from exploitation and revolted, letting the land go to waste. Conflicts between Protestant patricians and Catholic plebeians erupted at Krakow in 1591, in Poznan in 1616, and in Lublin in 1627. Many persecuted Bohemian Brothers came to Poland and settled in Leszno, increasing the population from 300 families in 1628 to 2,000 in 1656. Graduates of Jesuit colleges gained positions in law courts and punished Protestants. Petro Mohyla was from Moldavia and founded an Orthodox college in Kiev in 1632.

Poland-Lithuania 1632-48

      King Zygmunt III died on April 30, 1632, and the Sejm elected his son King Władysław IV Vasa on November 8. He was well educated, knowing Polish, Latin, German, Italian, and Swedish, and he enjoyed art, literature, music, and theater. He also spent much money on hunting and love affairs. He had fought in the Russian campaigns 1616-18, against the Turks in 1621, and in the Swedish war 1626-29. Władysław considered marrying a relative of England’s King Charles who endorsed his right to the Swedish throne. In 1632 a Muscovite army besieged Smolensk, and Władysław led 20,000 troops to relieve the city. With help from forces led by Lithuanian Hetman Krzysztof Radziwiłł they defeated the Russians under General Mikhail Shein who surrendered and signed an “eternal treaty” on June 14, 1634 at Polanow in which Wladyslaw sold his claim to the Tsarist throne for 200,000 rubles.
      Władysław settled a dispute between Orthodox Christians and Uniate Catholics over church buildings by dividing the property between them. He approved the reconstruction of the Church hierarchy and came to terms with the Orthodox Church, though the center for the Polish Brothers at Rakow was closed. Jesuit colleges performed religious plays and supervised the burning of Protestant books. Monasteries and religious brotherhoods expanded, but in 1635 a law limited land bequests to monasteries. An edict in 1647 prohibited the Polish Brothers from having schools or print-shops.
      Lukasz Opalinski (1612-62) advocated a constitutional Senate and giving the Parliament (Senate and Sejm) the power to restructure the army. His reform package entitled Conversation of a Village Priest with a Noble was published in 1641. He proposed submitting technical issues to experienced commissioners, barring late-arriving deputies from voting on issues already debated, and banning nobles and candidates who took bribes from serving as deputies.
      People in Silesia wanted to become part of Poland, but Władysław hoped to become King of Sweden, and in 1634 Poland forced Swedish garrisons to withdraw from Prussians ports so that customs duties would not be imposed on Polish trade. However, the Sejm refused to support a war against Sweden, and they made peace at Stumsdorf on September 12, 1635, regaining Ducal Prussia. Customs duties imposed by Władysław on the port of Gdansk (Danzig) were unpopular. Because of his Swedish ambitions Władysław appointed many Protestants to the Senate. Poland-Lithuania exported large amounts of grain through Gdansk and Amsterdam to France, England, Spain, Italy, and the Near East.
      In 1637 Władysław married the Habsburg archduchess Cecilia Renata, whose dowry included the Opole-Raciborz duchy in Silesia, but little came of this alliance. That year the Pomeranian state was taken over by Sweden while Poland regained the districts of Bytow and Lebork which became part of Royal Prussia. In 1637 Hetman Mikolaj Potocki led the army that defeated the Cossack rebellion at Kumejki, and in 1638 the Parliament reduced registered Cossacks back to 6,000 and canceled their military self-government. That year the Cossack revolt led by Hetman Yakiv Ostrianin was easily suppressed. Then Ukrainian landlords enjoyed a decade of peace.
      In 1638 Palatine Ossolinski of Sandomierz became Vice Chancellor and shut down the Anabaptist Rakow Academy with the King’s approval. That year the Sejm banned honorary titles conferred by the Habsburg Emperor, and the number of senators was increased to 150. Władysław made Petro Mohyla metropolitan of Kiev and supported his modern academy that promoted Orthodox scholarship. This helped the King recruit Orthodox Zaporozhian Cossacks. In 1640 local diets were made responsible for defending the commonwealth. In 1641 the Duke of Prussia and Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm swore fealty to the Polish king at Warsaw. Władysław stopped building up the navy, and after 1641 the remaining ships were sold.
      In 1644 Queen Cecilia died, and Władysław inherited the Silesian duchies of Raciborz and Opole. In 1640 and 1644 Tatars ravaged Podolia and Volhynia and captured many slaves until Hetman Koniecpolski’s army defeated them. In 1645 Field-Hetman Mikolaj Potocki’s army and their Muscovite allies planned to invade the Crimea, but Władysław’s proposed crusade never happened. That year Władysław stopped paying tribute to the Tatars and proposed war against them. In 1646 Władysław married 34-year-old Marie-Louise Gonzague de Nevers but still could not get French cooperation. Parliament passed a law that disbanded the army and limited the royal guard to 600 soldiers. Mohyla and the Orthodox Adam Kisiel worked for the next two years on unifying the Orthodox and Greek Catholic (Uniate) churches, and Kisiel managed to negotiate an alliance with Russia against the Tatars in 1647.
      That year Władysław began preparing for a Turkish campaign and offered to grant privileges to the Cossacks, but magnates in the Sejm opposed this. The King had trouble gaining allies from Rome, Venice, or Moscow, which abandoned him by making a treaty with the Tatars. Jarema Wisniowiecki was Wojewoda of Ruthenia and the richest magnate with 250,000 serfs, and he decided to lead his private army of 40,000 men that included 8,000 Germans against the Turks. This upset the Cossack chief Bohdan Chmielnicki (Khmelnytsky in Ukrainian) so much that he allied with the Crimean Tatars against the Poles. Chmielnicki had a feud over land with his powerful Catholic neighbor Daniel Czaplinski and escaped arrest by fleeing to the Zaporozhian Cossacks in January 1648. Chmielnicki marched them from the Sicz northwest into the Ukraine where they defeated the Polish army at Zolte Wody on May 16 and near Korsun ten days later. More peasants and townsmen joined them as well as some Ruthenian gentry. Wisniowiecki’s army was defeated by Chmielnicki’s 40,000 Cossack regulars and over 40,000 Cossack militia on September 23 at Pyliavtsi. Then Chmielnicki returned to Kiev. King Władysław suffered from kidney stones and died suddenly of an overdose of medication on May 20, 1648.

Poland-Lithuania 1648-73

Russia of Boris Godunov 1588-1605

Russia and Ivan IV 1517-60
Russia under Ivan IV and Boris 1560-88

      Russian regent Boris Godunov was able to lower taxes in the early 1590s. In July 1591 the Russian army defended Moscow from an attack by Khan Kazy Girei with fast-moving Tatars who retreated, and their rearguard was destroyed at Tula. In May 1592 the Crimean Tatars ravaged the Ukraine going north to Ryazan and Tula. Boris sent Nashchokin to Istanbul, and on his way he tried to persuade the Cossacks to be peaceful. Orthodox Christians in Georgia asked Moscow for protection, and Russians built a town and forts to try to link Astrakhan and Georgia; but the route was threatened by the Lord of Daghestan, and in 1593 the forts erected by Prince Andrey Khvorostinin were defeated.
      Constantinople’s Patriarch Jeremiah visited Moscow in 1588 and was persuaded to name Godunov’s friend, the Metropolitan Iov (Job), as the first patriarch of Russia in January 1589. New metropolitans, archbishops, and bishops were chosen, strengthening the Russian Church. Heads of households were forced to provide military service or find a substitute, and protests against this were suppressed in 1592. Boris went to war against Sweden in 1590 but failed to take Narva. Yet they regained territory near the Gulf of Finland which had been ceded to Sweden in 1583. They agreed to a two-year truce in January 1593 and made a peace treaty at Tiavzino in 1595. That year Russians began building more than four miles of walls around Smolensk, and it took 150 million bricks and seven years to complete “Russia’s necklace.”
      Dmitry of Uglich was the son of Ivan’s IV’s seventh wife, but this was beyond the three wives allowed by canon law for succession. In 1591 his throat was cut, and locals killed Moscow’s secretary Mikhail Bitiagovsky. Vasily Shuisky supervised the investigation which concluded that Dmitry’s death was an accident. Tsar Feodor’s only child died in 1592. That year the prohibition against peasants moving was extended. Boris Godunov passed laws in 1597 that required slaves to register and took away their right to gain their freedom by paying off their debt. Those volunteering service for more than six months could be bound to the master who fed and clothed them. Larger estates were prohibited from abducting peasants from smaller estates, though peasants were permitted to move from a small estate to another if they stayed less than five years. Landlords could claim them if they left without his permission in the last five years. This nearly completed the process of making nine-tenths of Russians into serfs. Though technically not full slavery, the contracts peasants made when going into debt were so difficult to pay off that one often remained bound to the creditor until death. Complete bondage was for captives, those who sold themselves or from their parents’ will, punishment for criminals, or marrying a bondswoman without a contract guaranteeing liberty.
      Tsar Feodor I had been incapable of ruling and died on January 17, 1598. His wife Irina reigned for nine days and then retired to a convent, but she promoted her brother Boris Godunov who was also supported by Patriarch Iov and Bogdan Belsky, though Belsky was banished in 1600 for having been a threat. After the mourning period a Zemsky Sobor (Assembly of the Land) met and chose Boris Godunov to be Tsar on February 21, but he was not crowned until September 1. He increased the aristocrats in the Duma. He wanted to establish a university in Moscow; but the clergy opposed this, and so he sent eighteen scholars to study abroad. Godunov had a peaceful foreign policy and made commercial treaties with England and the Hanseatic League. By 1600 Russia’s 25,000 cavalry had as many slaves even though they were poor.
      In 1601 Boris Godunov extended the truce with Poland for twenty years. Bogdan Belsky was summoned for interrogation and was found guilty; he had his estates confiscated, his retainers disbanded, and was imprisoned in the lower Volga region. Frosts in late summer caused crop failures and the terrible famine of 1601-03 during which many peasants migrated to Kazan and Astrakhan. At first this helped Moscow consolidate its governing of these areas, but the gentry did not want to lose their workers. Migration had been made illegal, and the state also attempted to limit landholding by the Church. In this way serfdom was becoming established in Russia. The famine caused an epidemic in which a reported 100,000 people in Moscow died and many more outside the city. In 1601 Boris Godunov began a purge of the boyars. Many blamed Godunov for the famine and called him a usurper. Landowners evicted the poor so that they would not have to feed them, but they did not give them deeds of emancipation. In August 1603 Boris permitted evicted bondsmen to claim emancipation deeds in the Office of Slave Affairs.
      Some accused Boris of having plotted the assassination of Dmitry so that he could be Tsar. Historians believe that the monk Gregory Otrepiev claimed to be Prince Dmitry. He was helped by the Vishnevetsky family. In early 1602 when police tried to arrest him, he escaped from Moscow to the Cossacks. He went to Lithuania and claimed to be Ivan IV’s son. “Dmitry” was betrothed to the Polish aristocrat, Marina Mniszech, and Jesuits persuaded him to promise to promote the Catholic religion in Russia. In October 1604 “Dmitry” led about 1,500 Cossacks and 2,000 Polish adventurers as they invaded Russia. They were welcomed in the south at Chernihiv (Chernigov), but his unpaid Polish mercenaries mutinied in January 1605. Boris sent an army that defeated the pretender’s forces at Dobrynichi, but they managed to regroup after some defeats. Boris Godunov suffered a long illness and died of a stroke on April 23, 1605.

Russia’s Time of Troubles 1605-13

      Because of the political chaos the years 1605-13 especially were called Russia’s “time of troubles.” The 16-year-old son of Boris Godunov clamed to be Tsar Feodor II for 48 days until he was strangled on June 13. On May 17 his commander Feodor Basmanov and other boyars told the troops that “Dmitry” was the prince believed dead. After Godunov’s wife and son were murdered in Moscow, “Dmitry” entered the capital on June 29 to the people’s rejoicing and claimed the throne with help from Bogdan Belsky. Vasily Shuisky and his brothers spread rumors that “Dmitry” was an impostor, and Vasily also claimed the throne. “Dmitry” had him convicted of treason, but at the execution “Dmitry” commuted Vasily’s sentence to exile. The real Dmitry’s mother Maria Nagaya had become the nun Marfa, and she came and claimed she recognized her long-lost son. The Greek Ignatius supported “Dmitry” and replaced Iov as patriarch. Godunov had forced Feodor Nikitich Romanov to become the priest Filaret in exile, and he became metropolitan in Rostov. “Dmitry” abandoned his promise to introduce the Catholic faith but instead proposed a campaign to drive the Turks from Europe. He did not go to church and neglected traditions, dressing as a Pole. “Dmitry” tolerated non-Orthodox believers but did not try to convert Russians to Catholicism. Russians hated his Polish entourage whom they considered heretics and enemies.
      “Dmitry” sent an agent to Krakow, and in November 1605 he arranged the Tsar’s engagement to the Polish aristocrat Marina Mniszech. She was Catholic and brought more Poles to Moscow, where she and “Dmitry” were married on May 19, 1606. One week later Vasily Shuisky, Vasily Golitsyn, and other boyars forced their way into the Kremlin and removed the pretender “Dmitry” and had him killed. Basmanov and about 2,500 Russians and Poles were also killed, and Patriarch Ignatius was deposed.
      Two days later Vasily Shuisky became Tsar Vasily IV and promised he would not execute anyone without the consent of the Duma. He would insist on careful investigations and would punish false informers. He offered freedom to any slave or serf who enrolled in the army. In June the real Prince Dmitry of Uglich was canonized as a saint, and his remains were brought to Moscow.
      Vasily IV was not popular, and many places refused to recognize the new ruler. Prince Ivan Khvorostinin led the revolt in Astrakhan. Prince Grigory Shakhovskoy was appointed governor of Putivl, but he defected to “Dmitry” and led a rebellion in the south. In February 1607 he moved his forces to support Ivan Bolotnikov who had been captured by Tatars and escaped. He and Istoma Pashkov led the peasants in a revolution against the boyars. Their southern armies with 50,000 men reached the gates of Moscow in October but were stopped by the Tsar’s forces led by his nephew Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky. Pashkov quarreled with Bolotnikov and betrayed the rebels. The gentry armies of Ryazan and Tula turned against the revolutionary Bolotnikov.
      Tsar Vasily was reinforced, and in May 1607 his army of 100,000 men besieged the rebels in Tula for four months and forced them to surrender. Shakhovskoy was banished, and Bolotnikov was exiled and killed; both had acted in the name of “Dmitry.” Vasily IV issued a decree that extended the statute of limitations on catching fugitive slaves, and filing suits against serfs was extended from five to fifteen years. Any peasant registered in the cadaster books who left the estate after 1592 had to return.
      Another false “Dmitry” arose in June 1607 in the Seversk region. Marina Mniszech accepted him as her husband and bore him a son. Maria Nagaya also said this second “Dmitry” was her son. In the spring of 1608 the army of this “Dmitry” led by the Polish Prince Roman Rozynski defeated the Tsar’s army led by his brother Dmitry Shuisky. They marched toward Moscow and stopped nearby at Tushino. During a stalemate the second “Dmitry” organized a shadow court with an administration that collected taxes, granted lands, titles, and rewards while judging and punishing. Southern Russia and some cities in the north recognized him.
      Vasily IV was supported by Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan. Lithuanian Jan-Piotr Sapieha brought several thousand cavalry on behalf of “Dmitry,” and their armies of 30,000 men besieged the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery for sixteen months; but the garrison of 1,500 men was reinforced with 900 more. In July 1608 Vasily IV agreed to release the Mniszechs and other Poles incarcerated in Russia, and Zygmunt III promised to withdraw the Polish troops from Tushino. In October the Metropolitan Filaret of Rostov was taken to Tushino as a captive and was appointed patriarch. By the end of 1608 Vasily’s commanders held only Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan.
      In January 1609 a blockade kept food out of Moscow, and Vasily IV became unpopular. In February he proclaimed freedom for individuals who were not to be punished without being tried according to law. No guilt was to be attached to innocent relatives nor was their property to be confiscated. That month Vasily sent Prince Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky to Novgorod, and he arranged an alliance with Sweden which sent 6,000 troops in exchange for Russia abandoning its claims in Livonia. In early 1610 Skopin-Shuisky’s army drove the pretender’s troops from northern Russia and lifted the siege on the St. Sergius Monastery. Then they attacked Tushino, and the second “Dmitry” (also called the “Felon of Tushino”) fled to Kaluga. Some Russian gentry asked Poland’s King Zygmunt III to let his 15-year-old son Wladyslaw rule Russia if he accepted their conditions. Zygmunt agreed in February while besieging Smolensk, but actually he wanted to be Tsar himself. In March the army led by Skopin-Shuisky entered Moscow in triumph, but he died suddenly on May 3, 1610.
      Dmitry Shuisky tried to relieve Smolensk; but his Swedish allies abandoned him in June, and he was defeated on June 24 by the Polish army led by Żółkiewski who then marched on Moscow and occupied an area that swore allegiance to Wladyslaw. The second false “Dmitry” also advanced near Moscow. On July 27 an assembly in Moscow deposed Vasily IV and made him become a monk. Prince Feodor Mstislavsky and seven boyars took over the government. An assembly met and chose Wladyslaw to rule, and an agreement was made with Żółkiewski in August. People in Moscow swore allegiance to Wladyslaw, and an embassy was sent to Zygmunt III at Smolensk. He objected to his son converting to the Orthodox faith and arrested the Russian envoys who did not accept his claim. Żółkiewski’s army controlled Moscow that fall. Sweden declared war on Russia, threatened Novgorod, and offered Prince Karl Filip as their candidate. The following of “Dmitry” increased, but the Tatar Prince Urusov killed him on December 21. A few days later Marina Mniszech gave birth to another pretender, Ivan Dmitrievich. She fled with her son from Kaluga with Ivan Zarutsky.
      Moscow’s Patriarch Hermogen released the Muscovites from their allegiance to Wladyslaw and sent messages to towns asking them to liberate Moscow. Governor Prokofy Liapunov of Ryazan led an army that marched on Moscow in early 1611, and they were joined by Cossacks led by princes Trubetskoy and Zarutsky. On March 29 an unarmed crowd stopped a cannon, and the Poles with German mercenaries slaughtered 7,000 Muscovites. After setting the city on fire the Poles enclosed themselves in the Kremlin. Cossacks became upset at the gentry because they believed false evidence contrived by Poles that Lyapunov had been killed in July. The Polish army had captured Smolensk on June 13 after the city was reduced from 80,000 to 8,000 people. The Swedes captured Novgorod in July and began annexing nearby towns. An army of 100,000 men led by Lyapunov camped outside Moscow, but Cossacks murdered him on August 1.
      A third false “Dmitry” appeared in Pskov on December 14, 1611 and was supported by Cossacks in March 1612, but he was captured in May and sent to Moscow as a prisoner of the Cossacks. Zygmunt III sent his cavalry to reinforce the Polish army at Moscow, and they prohibited any Russian from bearing arms.
      A liberation movement organized in Nizhni-Novgorod (Gorky) was led by the former butcher Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky. This second national army of 10,000 men by March 1612 reached Yaroslavl, where the Zemsky Sobor was meeting, and at Moscow on September 3 they drove away a Polish force led by Chodkiewicz. The Cossacks stormed the inner city on October 22 and took over the Kremlin from the Poles on November 27.

Russia under Romanovs 1613-48

      A Zemsky Sobor (Assembly of the Land) met in January 1613 with about 600 delegates who for the first time were from the towns and the country, and they unanimously elected 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov to be Tsar on February 21. After Mikhail and his mother were persuaded, he was crowned on July 21, founding the Romanov dynasty that would last until 1917. The boyars in the Duma could control the authority of the Tsar. They allowed him to reward people with money and land but not with an inherited position (otechestvo).
      The treasury in Moscow was empty, and they were at war with Poland-Lithuania and Sweden. Tsar Mikhail asked the Zemsky Sobor to stay in session to advise him, and rebellions continued for about three years. Ivan Zarutsky and his Cossack army killed the governor of Astrakhan and other wealthy men; but he and four-year-old Ivan were defeated and killed in Astrakhan in 1614, and Marina Mniszech soon died in prison. The Muscovite government needed money, and Mikhail borrowed from the Stroganovs first 3,000 rubles, then 16,000, and finally 40,000. In 1614 a tax of one-fifth on the wealth or income of towns was enacted annually for five years.
      Swedish King Gustav II Adolf’s long siege of Pskov was lifted in early 1616, and the English merchant John Merrick was named ambassador and mediated the treaty of Stolbovo with Russia on February 27, 1617. Sweden returned Novgorod to Russia but kept the territory on the Gulf of Finland and received 20,000 rubles. In his first five years Mikhail had Moscow rebuilt as the Boyar Council worked with the Assembly of the Land to restore order by suppressing banditry in the provinces and pressuring landowners to pay the 20% tax and to levy militia. In 1617 Poland’s army led by Prince Wladyslaw and Hetman Chodkiewicz invaded Russia, but in 1618 they could not capture Moscow. At Dyvilino on January 3, 1619 a truce for 14 years gave Smolensk, Siewiersk, and Chernihiv to Poland-Lithuania.
      Tsar Mikhail’s grandfather Nikita Romanov had courageously defended victims of the Tsar, and Nikita’s sister was the respected Anastasia who had married Ivan IV in 1547. Mikhail’s father Feodor Nikitich Romanov became a boyar in 1583, but Boris Godunov banished him and his wife to monasteries. Nikitich was given the name Filaret, and in 1605 the first pretender “Dmitry” made him Metropolitan of Rostov. In October 1608 the second “Dmitry” appointed Filaret Patriarch of Russia, but in 1610 he became a hostage of Poland’s King Zygmunt III. Filaret was released by the truce of Dyvilino in February 1619 and was consecrated as Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia on June 2.
      From then until his death on October 1, 1633 Filaret had equal power as co-regent with his son Mikhail and could even act on his own. He developed a more fair system of assessing and collecting taxes and replenished the treasury. In 1619 the Zemsky Sobor required all persons subject to direct taxes to register, and all fugitives were to be returned to their places. Filaret tried to stop the migration of serfs to the steppes by confining peasants to their land. He was zealous for orthodoxy and promoted the publication of works on theology. He required every archbishop to establish a seminary for clergy, and in 1621 an archbishopric was established in Siberia. That year an accounts department was organized. After the great fire of 1626 tax registration replaced the lost records in the next two years.
      Mikhail’s first wife had died after four months in January 1625. He married his second wife Eudoxia Streshnyova in February 1626; she gave him ten children, but Aleksei was the only son to survive more than six years.
      In 1630 Sweden’s ambassador Anton Monier in Moscow negotiated Sweden’s duty-free purchase of 50,000 quarters of Muscovite rye grain each year so they could resell it in Amsterdam. In exchange Sweden began exporting arms to Russia. That year the Muscovite government also hired mercenary officers in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Scotland to train their soldiers in new tactics, enabling Filaret to reorganize the army. In 1631 the militia had 70,000 men. In 1632 Tula became the first Russian ironworks to use water power. That year 20,000 Tatars plundered southern Muscovy, and the next year they invaded central Muscovy with 30,000 warriors, capturing thousands in the districts of Serpukhov, Kolomna, Kashir, and Riazan. Also in 1632 Russia bought 16,000 muskets and 6,000 swords from Sweden.
      In August 1632 Filaret sent an army of 34,500 men commanded by M. B. Shein including 1,500 foreign mercenaries with 158 cannons to attack Smolensk, and maintaining 6,610 infantry in 1633 cost more than 129,000 rubles. After Filaret’s death Shein agreed to an armistice with Poland in January 1634 and withdrew the 8,000 men remaining in his army. Because of this the treaty signed at Polianovka on June 4, 1634 recognized Smolensk, Siewiersk, and Chernihiv as part of Poland-Lithuania, though King Wladislaw finally gave up his claim to the Muscovite throne. That month a decree ordered foreign mercenaries to leave Muscovy. Another law that year threatened anyone selling tobacco with the death penalty.
      In the next two years the Kalmyks forced the Nogai Tatars to move away from the Volga River, but after quarreling with Cossacks on the Don River they joined other Tatars in the Crimea. The Russian army on the western frontier was increased from 5,000 men to 12,000 in 1635 and to 17,000 in 1636, and garrison towns were built mostly in the southeast in Chernavsk, Kozlov, Verkhnii Lomov, Nizhnii Lomov, Tambov, Userdsk, Iablonov, and Efremov by 1637. That year the Duma appropriated 111,000 rubles for new garrison towns in the southwest.
      In 1637 Cossacks in the Don and Dnieper regions took over the Turkish fortress of Azov by that sea. In the spring of 1641 Sultan Ibrahim’s army of 200,000 Turks returned and besieged them for four months. The 30,000 Cossacks fought off two dozen assaults, killing more than 6,000 Turks, but only 10,000 Cossacks survived inside the walls. In September the Ottoman army withdrew, and the victorious Cossacks offered Azov to Tsar Mikhail. In July 1642 the Zemsky Sobor met with 195 elected representatives to discuss going to war against Turkey. Delegates of service workers wanted war, but merchants and the towns opposed military action. The Tsar chose peace, and the frustrated Cossacks gave the Black Sea port to the Crimean Tatars. Also that year a law was passed so that no noble or boyar children would ever be bonded again. In the summer of 1644 about 20,000 Tatars invaded southern Muscovy, taking away 10,000 prisoners and 6,000 more the next year. Tsar Mikhail suffered from a leg injury from a horse-riding accident and died on July 12, 1645; his wife passed on the next month.
      Tsar Mikhail was succeeded by his 16-year-old son Aleksei who was crowned Tsar on September 28, 1645. The Duma under Boris Godunov had 30 boyars, but under Aleksei it increased to 59. In 1646 all the privileges of foreigners were repealed, and a general census attached peasants to their landlords permanently. Aleksei had been tutored in western education by the boyar Boris Morozov. On January 26, 1648 Aleksei married Maria Miloslavskaia. Morozov was married to her sister Anna, and her Miloslavskii family became a corrupting influence. Aleksei loved birds and had a Department of Secret Affairs for his 200 falconers and more than 300 falcons, gerfalcons, and hawks and 100,000 dovecots for feeding and training. Morozov supervised the treasury, payroll, pharmacy, and the army. To increase revenues he reduced the salaries of government employees and increased the tax on salt from 5 to 20 kopecks per pood, causing many fish to rot.
      The increased price of salt and other taxes provoked the salt riot on June 1, 1648. Morozov ordered the musketeers to drive the insurgents out of the Kremlin, but they sided with townsmen and refused. On June 3 the mob lynched P. T. Trakhaniotov because he was most responsible for the salt tax. Tsar Aleksei was persuaded to hand over the hated salt-tax official Pleshcheyev who was beaten to death. The rioters torched the White City and Kitai-gorod, burning down about 20,000 houses and killing nearly 2,000 people. They also targeted hated boyars and merchants. After receiving a salary increase on the fifth day the musketeers stopped the rioting. On June 11 Tsar Aleksei persuaded the people to accept the exile of Morozov to a monastery in Siberia. Nobles, townsmen, and merchants called for a Zemsky Sobor, but serfs were not represented and gained no concessions. On June 12 the collection of arrears on taxes was postponed. Leaders of the insurgency were arrested, and several were executed on July 3. Uprisings also broke out in Kozlov, Kursk, Voronezh, Novosil, and other towns in the south and in the northern towns of Sol’vychegodsk and Ustiug Velikii. A general election was held in August. Aleksei secretly recalled Morozov who returned to Moscow in October and resumed his top position in the administration.

Russia of Tsar Aleksei 1648-76

Copyright © 2015 by Sanderson Beck

EUROPE & Reform 1517-1588

Germanic Empire and the 30-Year War
Eastern Europe 1588-1648
Scandinavia 1588-1648
Netherlands Divided 1588-1648
Spanish and Portuguese Empires 1588-1648
Cervantes, Lope de Vega & Calderon
Italy and Spanish Rule 1588-1648
France’s Henri IV, Richelieu & Mazarin
Vincent, Descartes & Corneille
England, Ireland & Scotland 1588-1625
Britain of Charles and Civil War 1625-49
Shakespeare’s Plays
English Theater 1588-1642
Summary and Evaluation


Chronology of Europe 1588-1648
World Chronology

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