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He was born in 1440, the son of Vasilii II Vasil'yevich Temnii, grand prince of Moscow and Maria Yaroslavna, princess of Maloyarslavl. He became grand prince of Moscow on the death of his father in 1462 until his death in 1505, but had ruled jointly with his father from 1450. He married first Maria, daughter of Boris Aleksandrovich, grand prince of Tver; then about 1473 to Sofia (Zoe) Fominichna Paleologa, Byzantine Princess. His son from the first marriage was Ivan Molodoi, prince of Tver; and from the second marriage Vasilii III, grand prince of Moscow; Dmitrii Zhilki, appanage prince of Uglich; Yuri, (1480 - 1536), appanage prince of Dmitrov who died without heirs; Semyon, appanage prince of Kaluga; and Andrei, appanage prince of Staritsk. His daughters were Feodosia, Yevdokia, and two Yelenas. The family is shown on this chart.
Summary of the Reign
Ivan's initial major concern was to annex the city and territories of Novgorod. Not only was Novgorod increasingly drawing closer to Lithuania, but also its vast territories stretching to the Urals across northern Russia would make suitable pomestie estates with which Ivan could pay his troops. Vasilii II had defeated Novgorod in 1456 and imposed an onerous treaty. Novgorodians promptly tried to break the treaty when Ivan came to the throne. They sought even closer ties with Lithuania and appointed Mikhail Olelkovich, a Lithuanian, as their prince. Ivan conducted three campaigns to incorporate Novgorod in Muscovy. He then annexed the Permian lands north of Kazan and even managed to extend Russian power across the Urals to the Tobol, Irtyhsh, and Ob River valleys. By his annexation of Novgorod he surrounded Tver. Sensing the coming squeeze from Moscow, the ruler, Prince Mikhail, tried the same policy as Novgorod by appealing for aid from Lithuania, with the same result - invasion and annexation by Ivan III in 1485.(1) Ivan also faced the usual struggle for independence by his brothers within the Muscovite territories. They briefly tried the route of Lithuanian support without success. Before his death Ivan III managed to reunite into the personal domain of the Moscow Grand Prince all the territories granted by his father, Vasilii II, to his brothers except a small estate held by his brother, Boris.
To understand the basic cause of much of the difficulties faced by Muscovite and other Russian princes in the medieval period one must consider two basic policies then in legal force. One policy was the division of whatever territories a ruler had managed to acquire during his lifetime promptly on his death through his "testament." There was no law of "primogeniture" or even custom of keeping the lands united as a state, since everything was considered the personal property of its ruler. The other policy was the free association of the many junior princes and the boyars with whomever they chose to serve. Shifts among these magnates could make or break the legal ruler of a small city. It is only with Ivan III and his son and grandson that the policy of association became a one-way street. That is princes and boyars were encouraged to switch from others to Moscow, but even a desire to switch the other way was considered treason. Ivan also began the process of chaining the free peasants to the land, since their labor was essential to make the pomiestie land granted to his serving troops of any value.
Ivan's policy toward the Tatars emphasized cultivating friendly relations with the Crimeans by emphasizing their mutual opponents - The Golden Horde and the Lithuanians. He also obtained the services of individual Tatar princes by giving them territories such as the Khanate of Kasimov. This policy enabled him to face the Horde Khan Akhmet to a standoff on the Ugra River in 1480 by using the Crimean Tatars to keep the Lithuanians from joining their Horde allies. The astuteness of this policy was demonstrated even more in 1502. While Ivan was deeply involved in offensive military action in Livonia and Lithuania, the Horde Tatars responded to Lithuanian cries for assistance and launched a rear attack on Muscovy, but the Crimean Tatars under Mengli Gerei intervened and delivered the final coup de grace to the Horde.
Ivan was especially successful in his careful policy of terrorism and guerilla warfare against Lithuania. His continual raids gradually induced the great boyars such as the Belskii's and Vorotynskii's to switch allegiance to Moscow. When Casimir IV died in 1490, Poland and Lithuania, which had been united under his personal rule of both, were again split. Ivan took full advantage of Lithuania's ensuing weakness to continue border warfare (all the while denying that he was doing so) until he was ready for full scale war in 1500. While his war with Lithuania was proceeding satisfactorily, the situation was complicated when the Lithuanians obtained assistance from the (German) Livonian knights. Ivan was able to defeat them also. Meanwhile, between 1490 and 1500 Ivan faced nearly continuous campaigning against the Swedish regent, Sten Sture, along the Finnish border and in Estonia. This conflict was essentially a draw when Sten Sture was deposed by John of Denmark and the war died out.
During Ivan III's reign the right of nobles to leave the Grand Prince's service was restricted. Ivan used the land he took from Novgorod and elsewhere to create the pomestie (conditional landholdings) with which he rewarded his troops and insured their economic support. The troops became increasingly the servators of the Grand Prince alone as the independence of the other princes and boyars was diminished. This also led to the state policy of preventing the peasant workers from leaving these lands. These two policies culminated in the enserfment of the peasants and the transformation of the nobility into a kind of state military service class. Ivan's marriage to a Byzantine princess raised in Italy opened Russia to at least some influence from the West, as did his focus on warfare in the west.
Summary of Strategic principles
Ivan III carried out his well designed plans according to a set of basic strategic principles which may be reconstructed by an examination of his actions. The following principles stand out:
Foment dissension in the enemy camp by supporting internal dissident movements and rival leaders;
Use the forces of allies, or even better, those of an enemy to engage or defeat the primary opponent;
Do not support an ally if in doing so you will make him too strong;
Do not let your enemy grow too weak too soon, if a third party will be the principal beneficiary rather than yourself;
Constantly use propaganda and claims for concessions on the principle that familiarity with uncongenial subjects eventually breeds readiness to take them for granted;
Use terror on prospective areas to be conquered so that the population will greet your conquest with relief;
Be flexible in approach and accept compromises as the basis for new demands;
Use peace talks and truces as a time for action by regrouping, employing deception, and taking whatever advantage the opponent will tolerate;
Use psychological techniques known as "reflexive control" to lead the opponent into unwittingly doing what you desire;
Build such overwhelming military power that the opponent will realize he must accommodate;
Be patient, don't ask for everything at once, insure thorough consolidation of previous positions before advancing;
Avoid two-front wars;
Combine offensive and defensive methods, tools, and weapons in a coordinated manner designed to insure retention of the initiative.
1449 - Ivan appointed to rule jointly with his blind father, Vasilii II
1452 - At age 12 Ivan marries Maria of Tver and becomes army general, defeats Shemiaka.
1456 - Conflict with Novgorod - Moscow winds treaty to control Novgorodian foreign affairs. Novgorod obtains Lithuanian prince Mikhail Ol'kovich as prince and tries to get a bishop form Kyiv.
1462 - Ivan III's first move was a large reconnaissance in force to the northern Kazan area, the Cheremisian lands. From the northern towns of Ustyug, Vologda, and Galich, he traveled over the main attack route into the Kazan area via the Viatka River and the town of Khlynov. Simultaneously, Kazan retaliated with a raid on Ustyug.(2)
1465 -Khan Akhmet of the Great Horde decided to invade Muscovy, but en route on the Don River Crimean Tatars under Hajji Gerei attacked him. Preserving the hostility between the two Tatar states was a main point of Muscovite diplomacy.(3)
1467 - When Khan Mahmudek died, his son, Ibrahim, became Khan of Kazan. Mahmudek's widow married his brother, Kasim. In 1467 elements of the town population invited Kasim to Kazan, but Ibrahim refused to yield to his uncle. Ivan III was pressing for his vassal, Kasim, to replace Ibrahim. Ivan sent his army under the leading generals, Ivan V. Obolensky-Striga, Daniel D. Kholmsky, and Ivan Y. Patrikeev. The expedition failed. The army marched overland to the Volga, but there it faced a strong Tatar force. Low on supplies, the Russians retreated, after which the Kazan force raided Galich. Ivan strengthened his forces in all towns. Three months later, Ivan conducted another surprise raid. A large army under Prince Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky on 6 December 1467 left Galich in secret and marched on Cheremisia; they came near Kazan and conducted other raids on the Volga.
1468 - Campaigns against Kazan
Ivan prepared for a major campaign on Kazan. He went to Vladimir-on-Klyazma. There he summoned his brothers and the other princes, but after the preparations, he postponed the campaign and only conducted raids. Ivan asked Viatka for assistance but they refused. Instead he sent a major raid from Ustyug to Kazan. He also ordered raids from Nizhni-Novgorod against the west side of Kazan territory.(4)
1469 - Ivan conducted the major campaign on Kazan from the north and west along the routes previously prepared. Despite the care and preparation, the campaign was a failure. The two armies lacked communication with each other and with general headquarters. The first army, under the command of Konstantin A. Bezzubtsov, assembled along the river routes for transport by water. All towns and districts sent detachments, making this the largest Russian army yet seen on the Volga. The second army, under the command of Prince Daniel V. Yaroslavsky, marched from the north. Detachments from Vologda, Galich, and Ustyug sailed by river to Viatka. When the Viatka men would not join them, they lost the element of surprise and the expected strength. This warned the Tatars and foiled Yaroslavsky's attack. Therefore, Ivan canceled the western attack also. In spite of this, the western army advanced under the command of Ivan Runo. On 22 May the army reached Kazan after a three-day river cruise. They attacked the fortifications, freed the prisoners, and then withdrew to an island in the river for seven days. The Tatars attacked the island from the land and from ships. The Russians fought through the Tatar army to another island. Meanwhile, the northern army fought its way down the Kama River and then up the Volga River in a running battle with the Tatar ships. The western army and the northern armies returned to Nizhni-Novgorod.
Ivan sent yet another army to Kazan later in 1469, and this army was even larger than the previous one. It was a mixed force of cavalry and river-borne infantry. Ivan's brothers, Yuri and Andri the Elder, were the leaders. They arrived at Kazan on 1 September and besieged the city for 5 days, and cut the water supply. Ibrahim then surrendered and made a 9 year truce.(5)

First Campaign against Novgorod

1471 - Ivan launches attack on Novgorod, wins victory at Shelon river on 14 July - When Aleksandr of Yaroslavl dies, Ivan annexes the principality.
In May, after making careful diplomatic preparations to isolate the city, Ivan III declared war on Novgorod. Novgorod had just signed a defense treaty with Casimir of Lithuania in February, 1471, but the Lithuanians did not come to the city's aid. Novgorod's hired commander then was Mikhail of Kiev. After a dispute in which Novgorod did not support Mikhail in his claim for Kiev, he left the city on 15 March 1471. Thus, Novgorod had to face the might of Grand Duke Ivan III alone. In June, three armies left Moscow; the first commanded by Princes Daniel D. Kholmsky and Fedor D. Starodubski-Pestry, and the second commanded by Prince Vasilii I. Obolenski-Striga included Tatar troops. Ivan commanded the third army himself and had with him his Tatar Tsarevich of Kasimov, Danyan. They left Moscow on 20 June. The Grand Duke secured the alliance of Pskov and Tver and Viatka as well. The Pskov army opened the war on 10 July with a series of skirmishes. Pskov also blocked the path of Casimir against his possible support of Novgorod.

Battle of Shelon River

Ivan went to Torzhok where he met the detachments of Tver and the armies of his brothers and cousins. The major battle occurred on 14 July at the River Shelon. The 40,000-man Novgorod army, largely composed of a civilian militia, was disorganized and uncoordinated. The 5,000 Muscovites routed the Novgorodians, killing 12,000. Details of the battle vary according to the different chronicles, but it seems that the Muscovites drew the Novgorodians into an ambush prepared by Danyan's Tatars. Another battle took place in the north on 24 July, when Ivan sent a force under Boris Slepets down the Northern Dvina from Viatka. This 2,970-man unit then faced the 12,000 men under the Novgorod professional commander, Prince Vasilii V. Gorgaty-Shuyaki. This battle on the River Shilenga was a defeat for Novgorod. The peace treaty allowed Novgorod some local autonomy, but in reality it placed the city under the Grand Duke. He used lenient methods to absorb the city gradually and reduce his enemies while gaining time to observe political conditions in the city.(6)
1471 - Ivan's force from Viatka sailed down the Volga past Kazan to Sarai, sacked the town and escaped. This prompted a Tatar attack on Moscow in alliance with Lithuania. The Viatkans' agreement to help conquer Novgorod turned out to be their mistake, because the existence of an independent Novgorod had been the main bulwark to Viatkian independence.
1472 - Ivan's enemy was Lithuania, while the Crimea's enemy was the Great Horde. Therefore Casimir arranged a treaty of assistance with the Horde, and Ivan (in 1480) signed a treaty with Crimea. In 1472, Khan Akhmet's Horde Tatar army neared the Oka River in June. Ivan had his armies and the armies of his relatives and the Tatars of Kasimov along the river, waiting. The generals were Ivan V. Obolensky-Striga, D. D. Kholmsky and Fedor D. Starodubski-Pestry. The Russian army totaled 180,000 and stretched along 150 versts of river front. The Tatar attack beginning on 30 July at Aleksin surprised the garrison, but the Russians held the Tatars to a small bridgehead until large reinforcements could arrive and force the Tatars to retreat. Akhmet had led his army far to the west, to Aleksin, instead of directly on Moscow via Kolomna to achieve a junction with the Casimir's army, but the Lithuanians did not show up, so the Tatars returned home.(7) Ivan annexes Perm this year also.
1475 - Ivan was negotiating an alliance with Mengli Gerei, Khan of Crimea, when the Turks invaded Crimea and seized the Khan. Akhmet then tried to get the Crimean throne, but the Sultan put Mengli back there in 1478. From then on Crimea was a dependency of the Ottoman Empire.
1476 - Tver princes switch sides going for Moscow.

Second Campaign against Novgorod

1477 - After opposition grew in Novgorod, Ivan again invaded with a large army. On 30 September, he besieged the city using Tatar help. There was little resistance. His new treaty took all independence from Novgorod. The Novgorod veche bell was shipped to Moscow. Three hundred carts were used to carry the loot to Moscow.
1478 - Khan Ibrahim's (of Kazan) belief that Ivan's attempt to annex Novgorod had failed prompted him to send his army to capture Viatka. The siege lasted 4 weeks. The news of Ivan's final success at Novgorod reached Kazan and the Tatar army was recalled. Ivan replied with an army under Vasilii F. Obrazets and Boris Slepets, sent in the summer of 1480 on the Volga River.

War with Lithuania

1478 - Ivan began a border war with Lithuania, in which Moscow was the aggressor. The objective was to persuade the border nobles to change sides and bring their estates into Muscovy. Also, it was an effort to soften up the Lithuanian resistance. This war lasted from 1478 to 1489, and consisted of lightening raids by small groups to harass the local population and keep the defending forces mixed up. To achieve the main objective, fear, all forms of violence were used, including sometimes major military operations.(8)

Third and last campaign against Novgorod

1479 - Ivan again heard of rebellion brewing in Novgorod. He set out for Novgorod on 26 October with a detachment of 1,000 men, ordering simultaneously the mobilization of the rest of the army. He could not capture the town with the small force and had to wait for reinforcements. The city was besieged until 15 January 1480 when it surrendered. Ivan again deported many people, confiscated land from the Church and the people, and settled 2,000 Muscovite service people in the area.(9)
1480 - Ivan had barely finished with the revolt in Novgorod when his brothers revolted and besieged some Muscovite towns. He hurried home to deal with them. He agreed with them quickly because he was in need of their support against the Khan of the Horde who was preparing to attack Moscow. In April he signed a treaty of alliance with Mengli Gerei of the Crimean Tatars.
In August the Livonian Order attacked Pskov with 10,000 men and besieged Izborok and Pskov. The Livonians gave up the siege, but then Ivan's brothers came and caused much trouble for Pskov. Simultaneously the Horde Tatars were advancing on the Oka where they again hoped for a joint attack with the Lithuanians. In June they captured the towns near Tula. Ivan defended the Oka River line; with his brother, Andrei, at Tarusa and his son, Ivan Ivanovich, at Serpukhov and Ivan himself at Kolomna. Khan Akhmet moved west to go around the Oka line: therefore, Ivan also moved west. The rivers normally would freeze in October and no longer be useful as obstacles, so the Tatars waited in the area southwest of the Oka. Prince Ivan Y. Patrikeev prepared Moscow for a siege. Ivan III went to Kremenets, a good central spot for a main headquarters and reserve, from which he also could guard the west border against Casimir of Lithuania. On 8 October, Akhmet's army reached the Oka-Ugra River junction and tried to cross. The Russians held the river for 4 days with bows and arquebuses and cannon. On 12 October, Akhmet withdrew to wait for the river to freeze and for Casmir to come. He let his Tatars raid and pillage the upper Oka region, which Lithuania also claimed. Ivan opened negotiations with no result. Finally, his brothers arrived with their armies. When the Tatars withdrew, Ivan did also.(10) The river froze on 16 October. Akhmet retreated on 11 November anyway, since no help had come from Casimir. Ivan had sent his Tatar Khans and troops on a raid down the Volga to attack Akhmet's undefended capital at Sarai. Akhmet had to retreat to protect his rear areas. Nur Devlet and Prince Vasilii Nosdrevaty may have led this raid. During the same summer, Ivan sent raids on Kazan from Viatka and Ustyug. Mengli Gerei led large Crimean Tatar raids into Podolia that prevented King Casimir from helping Akhmet.
While on his way home, Akhmet was ambushed on 6 January 1481 by 1,000 men of Khan Ivak of Tyumen (Siberia) and 15,000 Nogai Tatars under Musa. Ivan III appreciated the work of Ivak and his Siberians.(11)
1482 - Ivan always liked to strike a blow at his enemies without using his own troops, therefore he urged Mengli Gerei to attack Lithuania again. The result was that on 1 September 1482, the Tatars sacked Kiev and destroyed completely eleven more towns. All inhabitants were killed or taken prisoner. The traces of the sack of Kiev lasted 40 years. Casimir reacted by sending 10,000 men to Smolensk and 40,000 more to the southern regions to restore the fortifications.
At Kazan, Ibrahim died and was succeeded by his son by a junior wife, Ali. The Khanate populace split; some supported Ali and some supported Mohammed Amin, Ibrahim's son by his chief wife, Nur Sultan. Nur Sultan was the daughter of Prince Temir of the clan Mangkut, therefore, a descendent of Chingis Khan. Ivan used this split with his usual Oriental cunning. He offered support to both sides to widen the strife. The result was that both sides were ready to support Moscow. The first clash came in 1482 when Ivan sent his main army to Vladimir. The generals and Aristotle Fioraventi, the specially-imported Italian chief of artillery, then went on a reconnaissance to Kazan where Ali Khan swore allegiance to Moscow.(12)
1483 - Prince Kurbsky explors along Tobol, Irtysh and Ob rivers.
1483 - Mikhail of Tver seeks help from Lithuania.

Campaign against Kazan

1484 - Ivan again sent his army to Kazan where he seized the city and put Mehemmed on the throne instead of Ali. The same year the Turks captured the Moldavian port, Chilia, on the Danube and Cetatea Alba on the Dniester. By 1484, Casimir had renewed his ties with the remnant of the Great Horde. For its part the Great Horde, under Murtaza, the son of Akhmet, invaded the Crimea in 1484. Mengli Gerei arrested Murtaza and sent him to the Turks, then Mengli attacked the lands of Temir, the father of his future wife, Nur Sultan, and dispersed Murtaza's army. Later, Temir and Akhmet's other son, Mahmud, attacked Mengli and rescued Murtaza. Mengli fled to the Turks. The sultan reinstated him.
Ivan III used his own Tatar troops to help Mengli at this time. He also sought an agreement with the Sultan against their mutual enemies. During the period 1495-1492, the struggle between the Crimea and the Great Horde continued. Under pressure from the east, the Great Horde moved westward from the Volga to the Donets River, ready to attack the Crimea and Russia.(13)
1486 - Ivan sent a force led by Nur Devlet, the brother of Mengli Gerei, against the Horde. The same year Ivan's main army went to Kazan again and reversed the procedure, taking Mehemmed off and putting Ali back on the throne. The people again restored Mehemmed to the throne, but this time Ali returned with an army of Nogai Tatars and forced Mehemmed to flee to Moscow later in 1486. The Viatkans raided Ustyug, a Muscovite town.
1487 - The Horde stayed near the Donets. Temir withdrew from the Horde with his troops when his daughter, Nur Sultan, married Mengli Gerei. Ivan again sent an army under Nur Devlet to attack the Horde, but no action took place. The Horde finally attacked, but into Lithuania, not Crimea or Moscow. This was due to the urging of the Sultan, who desired to prevent a Polish attack on the Turks in Moldavia. The Horde spent 2½ years in the west attacking the Poles. In these battles the Horde lost its best troops and did Ivan's and Mengli's work for them.
On 8 September 1487, Casimir's son, Jan Olbracht, met the Horde Tatars at Kopystrin near Moldavia. The Tatar raiding party was routed, but the rest of the Horde continued forward and settled in western Podolia.
1487 - Bel'ski and Vorotinskii princely families shift from Lithuanian service to Muscovite service

Campaign against Kazan

In 1487, when Mehemmed Amin's mother, Nur Sultan, married Mengli Gerei, Khan of Crimea, and Ivan's ally, Ivan settled on Mehemmed as his candidate at Kazan. The Tsar sent four generals, Prince Daniel D. Kholmsky, Alexander V. Obolensky, Semen I. Ryapolovsky, and Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky with their armies to Kazan on 11 April 1487. The main body was the usual cavalry and river-borne infantry. It reached Kazan on 18 May. The Khan surrendered on 9 July and was taken with his family to Moscow, and then to Vologda. Mehemmed Amin returned to the throne and Ali's supporters were executed. The military victory was overwhelming, but it was not in Moscow's interest to annex Kazan at that time. It was better to use a supportive khan there. Mehemmed officially was an equal to the Grand Duke, but actually he was subordinate and sent his army to help Ivan whenever asked. Also, Moscow was strengthened with the Siberian Nogai Tatars under Khan Ivak. Ivan agreed to Mehemmed marrying a daughter of Musa of the Nogai Horde.(14)
Political theorists used Ivan's installation of Mehemmed Amin to generate Moscow's legal claim to Kazan. This interpretation appears in the chronicles, persisted into the 19th century, and is repeated by Soviet historians.(15)
1488 - Ivan conducted a major raid into the border areas of Lithuania. He divided the frontier into sectors, each under the command of a voevoda who conducted the raids. Lithuanian defense was vigorous and included raids on Muscovy, but the Muscovite tactics were successful. By the end of 1489, three more princes changed sides and brought their states, troops, boyars, etc. into Muscovy. At the same time Ivan sent an army against Viatka because the town did not support him at Kazan.

Campaign against Viatka

1489 Ivan sent a strong army under Daniel Shchenia with troops from Tver, Ustyug, and Novgorod and 700 Kazan Tatars against Viatka. On 16 August 1489, the Muscovite army arrived at Viatka and the town surrendered. All citizens were deported. It is fitting that some towns which Viatka had helped Moscow to subdue sent detachments to participate in its final demise. The same year Jan Olbracht drove the Horde back across the Dnieper.
1490 - The Horde Tatars returned to Poland and reached Lublin the next year. In the spring, while the Horde was regrouping from their expulsion from Podolia, Ivan attacked them with Tatar and Russian troops under Nur Devlet's son, Satilghan, but again no battle took place 1490. Consequently, during 1490, the Horde was essentially unmolested. Sultan Bayazid did not want enmity between Tatar groups to continue because he needed their help in Vollynia that year. He therefore helped arrange a peace in September 1490. No sooner did Mengli disband his Crimean army than the Horde attacked the Crimea. Mengli retaliated during the winter of 1490-91. During 1490-91, Ivan continued the border war with Lithuania. When Casimir complained, Ivan pretended ignorance. The Tatar khans often pretended ignorance about the raids of their subjects also. In 1490, the Nogai asked Ivan for an alliance against the Horde. He accepted and agreed for Mohammed Amin to marry a Nogai and for Mohammed's daughter to marry a Nogai murza.
1490 - King Casimir IV of Poland dies, this splits Poland and Lithuania.
1490-91 - While the main Horde force attacked the Poles, Mengli raided their fortified base on the Dnieper. Sultan Bayazid sent 1,000 Janissaries to Crimea to help Mengli. The Sultan was furious at the Horde for breaking the peace he arranged and for disobedience.(16)

Polish army defeats Horde

1491 - On 25 January the Poles defeated the Horde at Zaslavl'. Ivan and Mengli were delighted to watch one enemy destroy the other. Despite the defeats, the Horde, during the summer of 1491, massed north of Crimea, ready to invade. Murtaza went to Astrakhan to get Nogai help. The Khan of Astrakhan, Abdul Kerim, was Murtaza's uncle, so his army came west to help the Horde. Mengli asked Ivan for help. Ivan, in June 1491, sent a combined army south; the first army left Moscow on 2 June. The Tatars were under Satilghan and the Russians were commanded by Princes Petr Obolensky and Ivan Repnya-Obolensky. The second army left Kazan on 8 June. It was composed of Kazan Tatars under Mehemmed Amin's generals, Abash Ulan and Burash Seyyed, and of Russian troops from the Kazan area. Ivan's brothers' troops formed the third army. The troops of both Andrei and Boris were called for, but only Boris obeyed. The entire force met in the steppe, south of the Oka. The Horde dispersed, and Seyyed Ahmed and Sheykh Ahmed realized that they could not face such a large army. Sultan Bayazid ordered Murtaza to move the Horde away from the Crimea.
The Russians defeated the Khan Kerim of Astrakhan. In November 1491, Mengli Gerei told Ivan that the Horde was no longer a threat. Casimir did the main work by defeating the Horde in Podolia. This untied the hands of the Crimean Tatars.
The result of Ivan's skillful diplomacy and show of force was the elimination of the Horde with no Russians wasted or material lost. First, the Kazan Khan was a vassal. Second, the Great Horde was defeated and scattered. Third, the Nogai Tatars were coming under Russian influence. Fourth, the Crimean Tatars were loyal allies prepared to help in the main war against Lithuania.(17)

1492 - The Siberian Tatar, Ivak, and his brother, Mamuk, Khan of the Uzbeks, and his brother-in-law, Musa, and Yamgurchu of the Nogais all attacked Astrakhan together but failed to capture the town. They also pressed on Kazan annually after 1492. Their base was Tyumen in Siberia. Ivak died and Mamuk became Khan and increased the pressure on Mehemed Amin of Kazan.
In June, Casimir died; the new Grand Duke of Lithuania was Alexander. Moscow immediately began heavy raiding pressure on his lands.(18)
1492-1500 - Ivan III tried again to get a treaty with the Sultan Bayazid II, or at least an understanding that he would aid Moscow by opposing Poland. The Muscovites considered the Latins worse infidels than the Moslem Turks. Moscow was careful and correct in dealings with the Turks because it needed Turkish friendship, since the Turks controlled the Crimean Tatars, who were Moscow's chief allies.
1492 - Mengli Gerei built a fort at Tyaginka, 20 miles up the Dnieper from the Ingulets River, to aid in his attacks against Lithuania. In the fall, Mengli began raids into Podolia, but Ivan was not happy about the Crimean fort at Tyaginka, as Moscow had designs to take the area to itself eventually. Ivan requested Mengli to stop building the fort.(19) Ivan himself built a fortified town, Ivangorod, on the Narova River opposite Narva.
1493 - The Crimean Tatars launched new raids on Lithuania from Tyaginka in the spring. By fall they had sent three major expeditions north; then Lithuanians attacked and destroyed the fort at Tyaginka. This made Mengli Gerei so angry, he led the next raid in person, bypassing Kiev and striking deep into Podolia. He rebuilt Tyaginka during the years 1493-96, while continuing the raids into Poland. Ivan III wanted Mengli to reduce the scale of his raids during this period as Moscow and Lithuania discussed a treaty and on the prospective marriage of Ivan's daughter, Elena, to Alexander.
The Starosta of Cherkasy, Prince Bogdan Glinski, led a Cossack raid on Ochakov at the behest of Lithuania.(20)
1494 - The Tatar raids on Lithuania continued as did the border raids conducted by Moscow.
1494 - Ivan annexes Viazma

Truce with Lithuania

1495 - Ivan III concluded a truce with Lithuania and married his daughter Elena, to Alexander. Ivan entered an alliance with King Hans of Denmark to attempt to break the hold of the Hanseatic League on the Baltic and to protect against the power of Sweden.

Campaigns against Sweden

1495-96 - In June a small Russian reconnaissance force entered Swedish Finland. In September three Russian armies from Moscow, Pskov, and Novgorod attacked Vyborg. The commander was Prince Daniel V. Shchenya. After a three month siege using cannon against the walls, a breach was made, but the attack was repulsed. On 4 December, the siege was lifted. The Swedish king, Sten Sture, sailed from Sweden with a relief army on 25 November, but by the time he reached Turku, the siege was over. Ivan sent a second army under command of Prince Vasilii I. Patrikeev and Andrey F. Chelyadnin to ravage the land around Korelia on Lake Ladoga. The army then went into eastern Finland and by February 1496, it reached Aby (Turku). The Swedes went out to meet the Russians, but the Russians retired, being content to burn and destroy. On 6 March 1496 the Russians returned to Novgorod.(21)

1496 - In the spring, a third Russian invasion was launched into northern Finland with units from Ustyug and the northern Dvina area. They crossed the White Sea to the Kola Peninsula and then went to the north of the Gulf of Bothnia and captured many people and ruined the area. By July, they reached the towns near Vyborg and burned them. The Russians then returned to Moscow.

Swedish sack of Ivangorod

Sten Sture decided to use his 40,000-man army to retaliate, choosing Ivangorod as the target. On 19 August 1496, the Swedes surprised the garrison with a force of 2,000 men and 70 ships by sailing up the Narova River and bombarding the town with cannon and arquebus fire. They sacked the town and killed or took the people prisoner. The Swedes left before Russian relief forces could arrive. In August, the Russian army prepared to attack Sweden. Many generals were called to the colors, including Daniel V. Shchenya, who was designated commander-in-chief. He received four polki, the Great, Leading, Right and Left, but the army did not enter battle as news from Kazan arrived in September 1496, indicating that a coup had just occurred. The units were withdrawn for use in the east.(22)

1496-97 - In Kazan, the trouble arose due to both internal revolt and outside intervention. The Siberian Tatar Khan, Mamuk, was not content to rest on his previous victories. He attacked Kazan in alliance with the Nogais. Mehemmed Amin appealed to Ivan for assistance. Ivan sent the senior general, Semen I. Ryapolovsky, with an army from Murom and Nizhny Novgorod to deter Mamuk from approaching Kazan. By September, Mehemmed thought the danger was past and sent the Russians home, but immediately on learning of this, Mamuk attacked and Mehemmed had to flee to Moscow.
Mamuk seized Kazan with no trouble and immediately began to loot the city. The Kazan leaders and people realized their mistake in supporting such a tyrant, and while Mamuk was out of the city attacking Arsky Gorodok, they closed the city against him and requested Ivan III to send Abd-al-Latif (Mehemmed's brother) as the new Khan.
In Moscow during November and December 1496, Ivan prepared for a spring campaign to Kazan. He appointed Prince Semen I. Ryapolovsky to command the river army and Prince V. I. Patrikeev to command the cavalry army. The plan was to leave in April 1497, but in early 1497 Ivan learned of Kazan's request, therefore he disbanded the army and sent Abd-al-Latif with two generals, Semen D. Kholmsky and Fedor I. Paletisky, to Kazan, which they reached in May. Mehemmed received rich lands near Serpukhov and the dues and taxes of the area, so Mengli Gerei and Nur Sultan were satisfied with Ivan's solution of the problem. But Abd-al-Latif turned out to be just as unpopular in Kazan as Mehemmed had been. After 1497 the Kazan rulers were unreliable, but a show of force was sufficient to keep things in order there. The Russian army was well equipped and trained for action at Kazan.(23)

1497 - In March the Russian and Swedish governments signed a six-year truce. In July King Hans of Denmark invaded Sweden with 30,000 men and defeated Sten Sture. In November Hans became King of Sweden, but he refused to cede to Russia the border areas that he had previously agreed to cede.
A major Polish campaign against the Turks in Moldavia in which 80,000 Poles and the Lithuanians participated began in 1497. The Lithuanians were forced out of the war by Ivan and Mengli Gerei and after that sent only a part of their army to help the Poles. In August the Poles invaded Moldavia but were unable to capture Suceava and were defeated by King Stephen in Bukovina. During the winter of 1497-8 Alexander sent the Lithuanian army against the Tatars at Tyaginka but the Lithuanians lost the battle and retreated.(24)

1498 - In Kazan, the leaders again plotted with the Nogai Tatars and Siberians to replace Abd-al-Latif. A Turkish army of 40-60,000 retaliated against Poland and invaded, due to the requests of Stephen of Moldavia and Mengli Gerei for aid. The Turks reached Rado and Warsaw by July and then returned home with 10,000 prisoners. By November, a second Turkish army invaded Poland but was forced back by early snows.

1499 - Ivan sent the usual riverine and land armies to defend Kazan from the Nogai and Siberian Tatars. The army under command of Princes Fedor I. Bel'skii and Ivan Alexandrovich of Suzdal again chased the Siberians away. Meanwhile, Ivan sent troops to threaten the Swedish border. He also agreed with Mengli Gerei on a division of the Ukraine, with Ivan to get Kiev and Cherkass.(25)

War against Lithuania

1500 - Ivan III was now ready for his war on Lithuania, having made careful and extensive preparations. His allies were ready and the frontier area suitably weakened. Ivan took all precautions to be sure the war would be successful. The official cause of the war was the religious persecution of the Orthodox population of Lithuanians including Ivan's daughter, Elena. Semen Ivanovich Bel'sky and other leading nobles changed sides in favor of Ivan in 1500, just in time to be on the right side. The first campaign was carefully planned and carried out smoothly as a three sided attack.(26) The first army under Yakov Zakharevich Zakharin moved on 3 May up the Oka River from the south to capture Bryansk, the key to Novgorod-Seversk and Chernigov. The second army under Turi Azkharin went west from the central area to capture Dorogobuzh on the Smolensk road without a battle. The third army was in reserve in the north and then moved to capture Toropets.
Alexander concentrated on defending Smolensk. Ivan sent reinforcements from Tver and moved part of the southern army to the center. He named Daniel Shchenya to be the new central commander and assigned some southern princes to the center great polk. Yuri Zahkarin received command of the guard polk at which he complained about being demoted. This was an example of Mestnichestvo in practice.(27) Daniel Shchenya was one of the ablest generals of the period, a descendent of Gedymin. He became the leader of the Boyar Duma under Vasilii III.(28) But according to Mestnichestvo Yuri Zakharin outranked him, therefore Ivan had to make special provision for this assignment. On 14 July at the river Vedrosha, Shchenya won a long and bloody battle over the Lithuanian army commanded by Ostrozhsky. The Lithuanian army was destroyed, its commander and many officers were captured, but the Russians also had heavy losses and did not try to take Smolensk.(29)
At the same time the Nogai Tatars attacked Kazan. Russian troops under command of Princes Mikhail Kurbsky and Petr S. Ryapolovsky-Loban helped defend the city for Abd-al-Latif. In the west, while the second army regrouped, the first and third armies attacked deeper into Lithuania. On 6 August Yakov Zakharin captured Putivl and the third army under Andrey Chelyadnin captured Toropets. By the end of the summer, the campaign was over and Moscow had large gains.

In the spring, the Horde moved west from the Volga and united its forces at the junction of the Don and Medveditsa Rivers under Akhmet's two sons, Sheykh and Seyyid. They were planning to join Alexander with 20,000 Tatars, so they moved on up the Don to the Tikhaya Sosna River. In June they built a fortress as a base of operations. By April, Mengli Gerei already worried about the Horde. He had sent troops against Lithuania, but now he thought the Horde was preparing to attack Crimea, so he withdrew from Lithuania and moved to meet the Horde. Then he found out that they were moving against Moscow, so he decided to let Ivan do the fighting. He sent Ivan word of the Horde and asked for 1,000 men and cannon in boats on the Don and for 10,000 cavalry. In July Mengli reached the Tikhaya Sosna and found the fortress on the west bank. He built a fort on the east bank and then, after a skirmish with the Horde, took his 25,000 men back to the Crimea. Ivan sent an army south before he heard of Mengli's departure. The Muscovite commanders were Mehemmed Amin and Prince Vasili Nozdrovaty. Besides their own troops, they had the armies of Nur Devlet and the Riazan princes. They sailed down the Don and found both forts empty. Sheykh Ahmed had moved on to Rylsk and Mengli was back in Crimea.
On 1 August the Muscovite first army moved north, entered Pskov and waited three weeks for the Livonian attack. Then on 22-24 August, both Moscow and Pskov armies set out to meet the Livonians, commanded by Von Plettenberg. On 27 August the battle took place on the Serika River, 7 miles from Isborsk. The German artillery overcame the Russians who had been doing well until the artillery opened fire. It was a major defeat for the Russians, who fled to Pskov. The Livonians then besieged Izborsk with artillery, but could not capture the town. They did capture Ostrov, 30 miles from Pskov, and ravaged the area, destroying the town and taking many prisoners. On 8 September the Livonians returned home.
By August Sheykh Ahmed was on the border near the Seym River. Moscow sent additional forces south and engaged them in a series of battles into October. Ivan asked the Crimeans for help but received no reply. However, the Muscovite armies were successful in driving the Horde Tatars off and by November had moved on to the Smolensk front. The Horde went on to the upper Donets for the winter. By this time, the Horde army was in very poor condition, morale was poor, and shortages of fodder and food were increasing, causing many desertions. In December Sheykh Ahmed asked Ivan for peace and Seyyid Ahmed asked for asylum. In December the Nogais also asked for peace.(30)

There were two Crimean invasions of Lithuania that went deep into the country, bringing much destruction. The first army reached the Vistula River and Lvov and Lublin and then returned in July. Then in August the second expedition of 15,000 Tatars reached Brest and western Poland beyond the Vistula. In August Ivan asked Mengli for a joint campaign against Smolensk. Mengli preferred a joint action against Kiev, therefore the result was that no combined actions took place.(31) The same year Alexander managed to get an agreement with the Great Horde in November in which they undertook to block the Crimeans.

1501 - Alexander became King of Poland on the death of his brother, Jan Albrecht. His plan for 1501 was to have the Nogai Tatars attack Kazan and the Livonian Order attack Pskov to keep Moscow busy while a Lithuanian and Great Horde army attacked the Seversk region to recapture the lost towns. Alexander held the initiative in 1501, putting Ivan on the defensive. Alexander planed and timed his moves well but executed them poorly. Ivan's caution in not rushing on Smolensk in 1500 was fully justified.(32) Ivan planned to launch another three-army attack on Smolensk and a Tatar raid in the Lithuanian rear areas. The Livonian Order attacked Ivangorod in March with a small raiding party. Moscow expected further attacks and prepared defenses and alerted troops. They remained in waiting all summer.
The first Muscovite army started out in April to invade Lithuania. It was a relatively small force with junior commanders. The Great polk commanders were Prince Daniel Penkov and Mikhail Kurbsky-Karamysk. The Lead polk commander was Prince Vasilii V. Shuysky-Nemoy, and Princes Ivan and Peter Borisovich commanded the right and left polki. The second army moved south from Novgorod under the very experienced general, Prince Semen Romanovich Yaroslavsky. The third and main army was in reserve at Tver under nominal command of Ivan's son, Vasilii, with Prince Daniel V. Shchenya as his advisor. Yet, Ivan cancelled preparations due to the pressure of the Great Horde on Crimea and/or the Nogai siege of Kazan.
In September the southern army marched on Mstislavl and on 4 November met the main Lithuanian army under command of Astaby Dashkovich and Mikhail Zheslavsty. The Muscovites won the battle, killing over 7,000 Lithuanians and taking many prisoners. They did not beseige the town as their objective was to destroy the Lithuanian army to facilitate further operations.
The Muscovite reaction to the Livonian attack came in November. A large army assembled under the most experienced of all the voevodi, Prince Daniel V. Shchenya, plus other good generals. The huge army included troops from Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov, Tver, and the Tatar Tsar and his men. The Livonian main force was at Dorpat and Helmed. On 24 November the Russians attacked. The German artillery was effective, but the huge Russian force overwhelmed them. The German army disintegrated, after which the Russians destroyed the towns of eastern Livonia, even up to Revel and Narva. In all, about 40,000 people were killed or captured, but no territory was taken.(33)

1502 - The strategic initiative again went to Moscow. All the Muscovite efforts focused on the capture of Smolensk. Even Polotsk and Kiev were ignored, but Ivan failed and thus had a major setback. In the spring, the remanent of the Horde left winter quarters and moved west to the Dnieper north of Kiev. The Sultan had ordered them to cross the Dnieper, but Sheykh refused, as he would have found too much danger west of the Dnieper. The Horde then moved south on the Dnieper to the mouth of the Sula River. Sheykh murdered the Turkish envoy to the Horde. Mengli Gerei set out after the Horde in May and caught it on 6 June. The Horde was destroyed but Sheykh Ahmed escaped, only to be captured by Lithuania and used unsuccessfully in various threats against Crimea.
The Russian order of battle for 1502 gave nominal command to Ivan's third son, 21 year old Dmitri. The real commanders were the experienced generals, Princes Vasilii D. Kholmsky and Yakov Zakharin. There were also 13 other princes, including the Mozharysky, Shemyachich, Bel'ski, Byazanski, Rostovski, etc. The commander of the lead polk was Prince S. I. Starodubski; commander of the right polk was Prince Fedor B. Polotaky; commander of the left polk was Prince F. I. Ryazanski; and commander of the guard polk was Ivan Borosovich. The campaign began on 14 July and lasted 3 months, including a fierce battle at the siege of Smolensk, but no details survive in the accounts. The armies of Ivan's son, Vasilii, and the Tatar Tsars (Khans) of Kasimov and Kazan were in reserve in case Alexander came to Smolensk with a relief army. The Russians raided the area and sacked Orsha but Smolensk held fast. Ivan asked for the aid of the Crimeans and Mengli sent his army under command of his sons, Feti Gerei and Burnash Gerei. The Crimeans left on 28 July with 90,000 men but despite Ivan's requests, went far west and did not help at Smolensk. They crossed the Dnieper at Tavan and in August camped near the Dnieper. In September they set off for Poland. This was one of the largest and most widespread of Mengli's attacks. The main target was Volhynia and Galicia. The Tatars attacked L'vov, Lublin, Bratslav, and beyond Cracow and arrived home on 8 November with large numbers of prisoners. They claimed the area toward Smolensk was too wooded and dangerous of ambushes for their huge army. The Tatar attack did deter Alexander from going to Smolensk, so it did save Ivan the trouble of sending in his reserves. Alexander had to send 30,000 men to Lutsk to defend it from the Crimeans, and the Tatars also kept the Polish troops busy, but there were no major battles in the raid. The Russian army in the north, in the Novgorod area, was unable to help at Smolensk. In spite of Shchenya's successful campaign of 1501 and the destruction of the German army, the Germans prepared another army and started a campaign in March 1502. The Livonian Order attacked Ivangorod and then raided the southern part of Pskov land. This tied down a large Russian force all summer. On 2 September during the siege of Smolensk, the Germans (Livonians) attacked Izborsk for a day and then began a siege of Pskov on 6 September. The same Muscovite army as in 1501 came from Novgorod under command of Shchenya. The Germans retreated but Shchenya moved fast and caught them in 11 days from the start of his campaign at Lake Smolino. The battle was indecisive; both sides lost heavily and withdrew. The Germans claimed a small victory. Strategically, Alexander was the victor because Von Plettenburg had held a very large Russian force inactive with his small one.

In December the armies were ready again for war. Three Russian armies advanced against Lithuania; the first from Seversk under the same leaders, the second from Novgorod under Shchenya as before, and the third from Rzhev. The results of this campaign are unknown; probably they were just border raids.
Thus, 1502 showed no gains for Ivan despite his careful plans. Stephen of Moldavia invaded Poland in the summer of 1502 and occupied part of Pokute province. By the end of the year Alexander was ready for peace. A truce was signed on 25 March 1503, confirming the Muscovite gains in the war. Ivan considered the truce merely a rest period to prepare for the next war, and he tried to keep the Crimeans active during the truce period.(34)
1503-1512 - This was one of the few periods of relative peace for Moscow. However, Khan Mohemmed Amin of Kazan revolted and massacred many Russians living in the area in 1504. In September the Kazan Tatars attacked Nizhni Novgorod.

1505 - Ivan III died and was succeeded by his son, Vasilii III.


1. Ivan's first wife, Maria of Tver, had died in 1467, not that her relationship to her brother, Michael, would have disuaded him very much.

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

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

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

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

6. ibid. p. 41. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV p. 50-51. Professor Vernadsky provides interesting comments on the discrepancies between the Novrorod and the Nikon Chronicles. The Nikon Chronicle omits mention of the Tatars. The Novgorod Chronicle says that the Novgorodian army was infantry and the Tatar ambush was the decisive blow. For a more detailed account of the campaign and the battle of the Shelon River see also; E. Razin, Istoriya Voenogo Iskustava, Vol II p. 312-317. For the importance of Torhok and Ivan's move there see also, Robert J. Kerner, The Urge to the Sea, Berkeley, University of California, 1946, p. 43.

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

8. Vernadsky, op. cit. Vol IV, p. 58, 60, 61, 74; Fennell, op. cit. p. 50; Grey, op. cit. p. 83. Gunther Rothenberg, The Austrian Military Border in Croatia, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, points out that the Turks used the techniques of border raids as a means of "softening up" enemy lands so that they would be more easily conquered and ruled later.

9. This campaign was not only to eliminate Novgorod's last vestiges of independence but also to acquire the vital land needed to create pomestie to pay the dvoriane and deti boyarski.

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

11. Fennell, op. cit. p. 81.

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

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

14. ibid.

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

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

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

18. ibid. p. 138.

19. ibid. p. 185.

20. There is some confusion of the construction of Ochakov. Vernadsky (Vol IV, p. 84) gives the date Mengli Gerei built Ochakov as 1492, while Fennell, Op. cit. - 200 gives the date 1494; and Grey, op. cit. p. 105 says 1494-7. Vernadsky dates the Cossack raid on Ochakov in 1493, Vol IV p. 254.

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

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

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

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

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

26. Fennell, op. cit. p. 211-214; Grey, op. cit. p. 163. Ian Grey remarks that a number of leading boyars, including Princes Ivan Patrikeev, Simeon Ryapolovsky and Vasiliy Romadonovsky, were opposed to Ivan's foreign polity. They wanted continued concentration on war in the east against the Tatars, not in the west against Lithuania. Since the boyars were the army commanders, it is clear that their opposition could effect the war effort, in fact Ivan III did have to take severe measures against his boyar

opponents. The same difference of opinion and struggle was repeated between Ivan IV and his boyar generals.

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

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

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

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

31. Fennell, op. cit. p. 225.

32. ibid. p. 248.

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

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


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