Cossack Troops in Chechersk and Propoisk Castlesin 1562–1573 (Enlisted Personnel and Maintenance)

Aleksandr Dounar
Candidate of Historical Sciences (Ph.D. in History),
Head of the department of source criticism and archeography, Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (Belarus, Minsk),
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The article deals with the defense organization of Chechersky and Propoisk state castles during the Livonian War (in 1560–1570-ies).

Chechersky and Propoisk castles were of great importance in the defense system of the Belarusian Dnieper district (Podneprov`e). The protection of these castles primarily based on the use of local human, military and economic potential. Castles were built, repaired, maintained in a proper order by burgesses and peasants of appropriated regions (starostvo): Chechersk and Propoisk. Castles were staffed by artillerymen. The main military forces in these regions were castle boyars.

If necessary, in case of considerable external threat in the castle were stationed additional military contingents. There is evidence that in 1562–1573 in Chechersk and Propoisk as such contingents were involved Cossacks.

Chechersk and Propoisk Elder (starosta) Yuri Zenovich hired Cossack troops («pochty») for military service in castles by order of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Hetman Mikolaj Radzivil. Hiring was carried out for one year. In general, Elder recruited small troops from 10 to 20 people, in most cases, 15 people. Usually a troop served in the castle for 3 years.

At the head of the Cossack troops were chieftains (atamans): in Chechersk: Stanislav Kelemet (1562), Bogdan Bosyj (1563 – 1564), Soroka Cherkashenin (1565–1567), Semen Butak (1568), Yurij Romanovich Belogorodets (1569–1571), Petr Bubel (1572), Ivan Radkovich (1573); in Propoisk: Sarbulat Tatarin (1562–1564), Grisha from Putivl` (1565–1567), Ivancha Turchin (1568–1570), Martin Petrovich (1571), Ivan Bogonos (1572), Lavrin Ivanivich (1573).

State treasury was required to pay Cossack troops for service, but because of the constant financial problems in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania payment had to make Chechersk and Propoisk elder at his own expense. The amount of payment is determined by conditions of employment. Usually, for their service Cossack chieftain and his troop received a salary in cash and supplying with English cloth. For a quarter of the year every Cossacks got provisions: a barrel of rye and barrel of oats (for production of cereals). Grain output from the region fund and could be replaced with cash equivalent.

After completing his service in the castle Cossack chieftain (ataman) gave to elder receipt («kvit») about period of military service, amount and sources of received allowances. There are 12 such receipts. 6 receipts have seals and signatures (5 signatures were made in the Cyrillic alphabet and one – in Latin script) and 5 receipts have only Cossack chieftains’ stamps.

It is possible to assert that in 1562–1573 hired Cossack troops in Chechersky and Propoisk castles were the core of castle defense.



Livonian War, state castles, Chechersk, Propoisk, Cossacks.



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