Fight for Nevel’ at the Close of Smuta (Time of Trouble)

Aleksandr Malov
Candidate of Historical Sciences (Ph.D. in History), Senior Research Fellow,
Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences (The Russian Federation, Moskow),
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At the end of the Distemper [Smuta] Nevel’ became that outpost of Moscow State, which in spite of all efforts, never was occupied by polish-Lithuanian interventionists. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth could take Nevel’ only by the terms of Deulin truce in 1618/19. The given research is an attempt to reconstruct militarypolitical situation around one of the most western bastion of Moscow State at the end of the Distemper times. On October, 1610 on behalf of Moscow government and betrothed king Wladislaw Sigismundian G.L. Valuev besieged Velikie Luki, which swore to “Tushin’s thief” in 1608. On December 25, 1610 Velikie Luki was burned and 300 surrendered defenders of a list of archers [strel’tsy] and boyar’s children were killed by Cossacks. After that Nevel’ and Zavoloch’e swore to king’s sun Wladislaw. However, the internal political situation in Moscow State began to change with the formation of the First irregulars [opolchenie]. Changes took irreversible nature after collapse of the “grand embassy” to Sigismund III. After overturn in Novgorod Velikiy and its’ joined to the First irregulars, lists with the anti-polish appeals were sent from Novgorod to the north-western towns. Probably, anti-polish overturns in Luki, Nevel’ and Zavoloch’e were in connection with receiving of the lists from Novgorod. A short time later of Velikie Luki’s devastation, Pustaya Rzheva shared its fare. Zavoloch’e – the central town of the Pustorzhev district [uyezd] was captured by A.Yu. Lisovskiy in 1610-1611. Zavoloch’e became his base station for the some time. In 1612-1613 when Lisovskiy were absent Russian detachment dislodge his followers from Zavoloch’e and burned town. One part of its inhabitants went to Pskov, the other – to Navel’, where in 1612-1613 was regiment of the governor [voevoda] Grigoriy Valuev, who had been fought already on behalf of the Second irregulars. 88 малов александр студії. політика і право At the end of 1613 Valuev’s detachment from Nevel’ raided the Lithuanian town Ula, which were extolled, the Lithuanians were killed and captured. Somewhere in January, 1614 Valuev’s cavalry also raided the Lithuanian town Osvey. By March, 1614 Valuev was replaced in Nevel’ by prince Semen Nikitin – Gagarin’s son. Nevel’ garrison cavalry raided the Lithuanian town Ozerishcha. To all appearances, solders ravaged and killed the Lithuanians, who lived around the town [posad], while the other Lithuanian people hidden in stockaded town. The raids of the Nevel’s detachment weren’t unreciprocated. On July 10, 1614 the masters Alexander Bezsekerskiy and Ian Yakubovskiy send to Nevel’ from Polotsk about 300 people, who caught the detachment unawares, plundered and ravaged the territory around Nevel’ and took prisoner many inhabitants of the town. But the prince Gagarin quickly organized the pursuit which raided the Lithuanians and recovered the prisoners. The Lithuanians couldn’t humble with the defeat and July 19, 1614 the king’s lieutenant Andrey Korsak and the Tatarian captain the master Muravskiy Sobolevich who headed detachments from Polotsk, Vitebsk, Usvyata and Ozerishcha acoording to the King order besieged Nevel’ again. And July 25 had assaulted the town and as a result came off second-best. On November, 1614 the town was besieged by colonel Kordatskiy. During 6 weeks Nevel’ had been bombardment which alternated with day and night assaults. The Moscow government attempts to help the assaulted Nevel’ failed. However, after the unsuccessful general assault on December 27, 1614 the poles and Lithuanians had to raise the siege. 131 landowners: 75 from Luki, 16 from Pustorzhev and 40 from Nevel’ received a pay for the heroic defense of the town. This victory wasn’t so easy for soldiers from Nevel’: estates of people from Nevel’, Pustorzhev and Luki as a tsar’s lands in these districts were plundered, peasants were removed and real estates were burned. By March 1615, nobody among the gentry and boyars’ children from Luki could serve from their estates without tsar’s salary. By the end of winter 1615-1616 Nevel’s detachment consisted of 773 people. In accordance with the Deulin armistice of 1619 Nevel’ was passed to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and became a part of Smolensk palatine, which had formed from the seized from the Moscow state lands (till the 1638). Inhabitants of Nevel’ were deprived of their lands. For the most part they were distributed to the veterans of the siege and capture of Smolensk and also to the participants of the king’s son Wladislaw’s campaign to Moscow in 1617-1618. From 1619 Nevel’s inhabitants as their colleagues from Luki and Pustorzhev became to provide with lands in Lutsk district and later in Novgorod’s pyatina [political unit]. Paying off with the land for service, Moscow government didn’t solve the problem of the service’s class supplying, but essentially had facilitated problem of the army financing and created prerequisites for tsar’s treasury replenishment. Moscow State had overcome the Distemper and from the first peaceful day started the preparing for the new war which was aimed at the returning of the all lost lands. In that way Moscow State demonstrated not only astonishing probability of survival of its social and national institutes, ideology and way of life, but will to the further development and rise.



Smuta, Distemper, Nevel’, Moscow State, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, lands.



Российский государственный архив древних актов [Russian State Archive of Early Acts].
Российская национальная библиотека. Отдел рукописей [National Library of Russia. Department of Manuscripts].



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