The Military and Society in Russia: 1450-1917

By Eric Lohr; Marshall Poe | Go to book overview

TATARS IN THE MUSCOVITE ARMY DURING
THE LIVONIAN WAR
Janet Martin

In the last year of his life Tzar Simeon Kasayevich helped another former Tzar of Kazan Shikh-Aley, a grand-nephew of Khan Ahmad, to conquer Livonia in the name of Russia.1

The statement is of course misleading. Livonia was not permanently conquered by Simeon (Semion) Kasaevich (Kasayevich) and ShahAli (Shikh-Aley) or, for that matter, by Russia. Although Muscovy did invade Livonia in 1558, it conceded defeat a quarter century later when it concluded peace with Poland-Lithuania and Sweden, both of which had entered the war to curtail Muscovite expansion and to acquire Livonian territories for themselves. Nevertheless, by highlighting Tatars who participated on behalf of Muscovy in the Livonian War, the statement offers a perspective on the sixteenthcentury Muscovite army that contrasts sharply with the standard image of a cavalry force consisting basically of provincial servicemen led by boyar commanders with Tatars playing a relatively minor role along with Cossacks, musketeers (strel'tsy), gunners (pushkari), and peasants (pososhnye liudi) as supplementary and support units.2 This study examines the Tatars in Muscovy's armies during the Livonian War. It is based primarily on published military records related to that war. Several campaigns, particularly those of 1562–63 and 1577–81, for which detailed, quantitative data on the composition of the armies are available, are highlighted. Records of other campaigns conducted in the 1560s and 1570s provide supplementary and corroborative information. These records allow an investigation not

____________________
1
Boris Ischboldin, Essays on Tatar History (New Delhi: New Book Society of India, 1963), 93.
2
Richard Hellie, Enserfment and Military Change in Muscovy (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 21–25; P. P. Epifanov, “Voisko i voennaia organizatsiia, ” in Ocherki russkoi kul'tury XVI veka, pt. 1, ed. A. V. Artsikhovskii (Moscow: Moskovskii universitet, 1976), 338; John L. H. Keep, Soldiers of the Tsar: Army and Society in Russia 1462–1874 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 14, 16, 57, 60–61, 75.

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