November 7 in Russian history

Contributed by Mosquito:


I really didn't want but I have just watched new Russian movie "1612" and I simply had to write about it ;)

On November 7 in 1612 Polish garrison in Moscow surrendered what marked the end of Polish occupation of Russia and became national holiday in Russia.

The story is so long and so complicated that I'm not sure where to start. It would be probable best to start from begining and im going to use one of my older articles about this event.

The story begins in the palace of Adam Wisniowiecki (powerful and rich Polish magnate) in 1603 in his private baths. The legend, probably false, tells us that one of the servants of Wisniowiecki was doing everything wrong what made his lord angry. Usually in such situations nobles were slapping faces of their servants and that was also what Wisniowiecki did. But his servant said that if his lord knew whom is slapping, he would never dare to slap his face. So Wisniowiecki asked his servant who the hell he think he is. The answer amazed him. Servant said that his name is Dimitri and that he is a son of Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. But majority of historians rather think that Dimitri came to Wisniowiecki and asked for support.

After death of Ivan the Terrible the power was held by regent Boris Godunov. It is said that he has killed the sons of the tsar because wanted to be the tsar himself. It is not sure if Wisniowiecki's servant was really the son of tsar or not. Historians are still quarrelling about it.

But Wisniowiecki was pleased knowing that his servant is the righteous tsar of Russia. Polish nobles were very eccentric people. They liked everything what was strange, unusual and rare. They often kept on their courts dwarfs, unique cripples, sometimes even african animals such like for example giraffes. Everything what could have amaze their neighbours or make them envy was most wanted. First thought of Adam Wisniowiecki was probably "Wow! i have tsar of russia, noone in my province can have better pet than this". When Wisniowiecki told his friend, voivod Mniszech about his tsar, Mniszech invented plan to invade Russia and make Dimitri really a tsar. For making Dimitri tsar of Russia they demanded huge areas of Russia, a lot of cities, titles and affcourse a mountains of gold. This was especially important for Mniszech who although powerful and senator of Polish Republic, was completely ruined. The daughter of voivod, Maryna Mniszech was supposed to marry with Dimitr and to become new Russian empress. Dimitri together with Wisniowiecki and Mniszech started recruiting men for campaign. Thousands of poor and landless Polish nobles were coming to join them, after them came Cossacks from Ukraine and even Tatars. Bandits and infamis'es, criminals of all types, unemployed mercenaries. Everyone who had only life to loose, wanted to get the gold of Russia. The army finally had 5000 soldiers, maybe undisciplined but experienced. One can say, that 5000 against all Russia is not much. But in this case was enough.

Dimitri, Wisniowiecki and Mniszech were afraid of defeat before they entered Russia. When were crossing Ukraine were in danger that another powerful noble Janusz Ostrogski will attack their army with his private forces, because Ostrogski was their enemy and didnt like the idea of their expedition (in fact like the good enemy he didn't like any of their ideas). But finally without being attacked they achieved Russian border and felt safe, at least from other Poles. Russian cities were surrendering on their way. Finally tsar Boris Godunov sent against them his army under command of prince Mscislavski but Poles obliterated them. Later there was a second battle which nobles lost, were routed and almost disintegrated but reformed after getting news about death of tsar Boris Godunov. All Russian garrisons were surrendering and joining to puppet tsar Dimitri, who finally entered Moscow and crowned himself. It was year 1605 AD. Maryna Mniszech became his wife and empress. After their success even more of poor Poles and cossaks came to Russia to invaders. But Poles and cossacks didn't come to Russia for fun. In other words, they were raping thousands of women, murdering thousands of people, plundering, pillaging and burning russian cities and villages. Most of them didn't want to stay there with Dimitri and Maryna, their plan was to come back to Poland rich, very rich. Behaviour of Poles and of Dimitri who was doing moreless the same what his Polish friends raised rebelious moods between Russian boyars and paesantry. The plot was started by boyar Vasili Shuisky. He leaded the people of Moscow, boyars and paesants against Poles, killed many of them and murdered tsar. The empress Maryna Mniszech and most of the Poles who were in Moscow were imprisoned. Vasili Shuisky made himself new Tsar.

Dimitri Tsar of All Russia was dead. Polish nobles decided that if they cant have old Dimitri, they must make new one. They picked russian named Ivan Bolotnikov and claimed that it is their old Dimitri who haven't been killed in Moscow but escaped. As Polish commander Stanislav Zolkiewski wrote "Second Dimitri didn't even look similar to first Dimitri. The only thing in which they were similar was that they both were men".

This time even more Poles came to Moscow and even more powerful nobles joined to second false Dimitri. Tsar Vasili IV (Vasily Shuisky) send all his armies against the Poles. It was year 1608. The private army gathered by Roman Rozynski defeated the army of Tsar Shuisky in the battle of Wolohov and marched toward Moscow. Next in the battle of Khodynka another Russian army, commanded by prince Skopin Shuisky (relative of tsar) was obliterated. Tsar Vasili IV wanted to make peace. As a gesture of good will, he released empress Maryna, her father Jerzy Mniszech and all the Poles he had. He sent Russian troops and ordered them to escort "empress", her father and Poles to the border of Polish-Lithuanian Republic. On the way they were caught by some Polish ruffiants who were pillaging countryside and brought to the main polish camp. Here all the people wittnessed a romantic scene. Maryna recognised "second Dimitri" as her original husband. In echange for 300.000 rubles in gold and 14 castles in Russia Jerzy Mniszech also recognised him as his old son in law. The private armies of false Dimitri and Polish nobles started siege of Moscow. During the siege situation has changed. The parliament of Republic and the king declared war against Russia. Royal army under command of hetman Zolkiewski left Poland and marched toward Moscow. It caused great disorder in all the private armies that were besieging Moscow. Their "excursion" was illegal, their puppet tsar was unwanted. Nobles were afraid for their lifes and soon started deserting and joining to the royal army. King of Poland wanted to make a tsar himself. False Dimitri fled from Polish camp. In 1610 Zolkiewski and his royal army of 7000 soldiers in the battle of Klushino defeated joined armies of Russians and Swedes (all together 35000 soldiers) because Swedes also wanted to get part of Russia. Considering Poland as more dangerous enemy they offered their help to Russians. But after Russian/Swedish defeat, there was nothing between Polish Royal army and Moscow which Zolkiewski captured.

The nobles and their army were panicked. It was looking like that they are the next target of Zolkiewski and king's army. Polish official army and private armies of Polish nobles were about to start the fight one against each other. In this moment one of the most influent leaders of "private army" Piotr Sapieha surrendered and offered his own services together with all his men to Zolkiewski. The private war was over. Prince Wladislaw (later king Wladislaw IV of Poland), son of Polish king was crowned for Tsar of Russia (in absentia, he wasnt in Moscow). Garrison of about 7000 soldiers was left in the city under command of oficer Aleksander Gosiewski. The rest of Polish army left. Polish soldiers in Moscow were left alone and not payed. Part of them revolted and as well as commander Gosiewski left the city and marched back toward Polish border, pillaging and looting everything on their way. About 4000-5000 soldiers was still in the city. The people of Moscow started to rebel and more were coming from the rest of Russia to join them. One of the survivors of Polish garrison wrote: "Only in Kitajgrod (one of the disctrics of Moscow) we killed 6000-7000 rebeliants". Poles controlled Cremlin castle and area around it. In the begining of September small Polish army arrived but wasnt able to fight its way trough the city. After bloody battle Hetman Karol Chodkiewicz retreated. He had not enough infantry and his cavalry, so succesful on the battlefield, proved to be unable to fight on the streets, being an easy target for people of Moscow. Starved Polish garrison was left without any help. From the survivors we know about the horror which took place in besieged Cremlin and its area. First the defenders have eaten their horses, next dogs, cats and in the end even rats became rare. Russians were attacking often, defenders had no more gunpowder. Polish soldiers were in the nights leaving castle and hounting for besieging Russians, capturing them, taking back to Cremlin and eating. Finally when became to weak they started to eat their servants and even their commrades. One of the survivors wrote : "Truszkowski, lieutenant, has eaten his two sons, there was also another soldier who eat his son, whoever was able was hunting for people to kill and eat them". Another wrote: "One of the soldiers wanted to surrender his post, was tried for treason, executed and we have eaten him".

On the 1st November Poles were forced to retreat to Cremlin. On the 3rd November Polish commanders decided to surrender. 3 days later they negotiated the conditions of capitulation. Russians sweared to not kill Polish soldiers and to treat them well. After surrender captured Poles were divided on 2 groups. One was given to Cossacks and another to prince Pozharski. All those left under cossack control were tortured and murdered in the terrible ways for many days. The rest was dieing from hunger and disases, some survived and were released after 7 years. One unit was lucky, sent ouside Moscow was liberated by unit of Polish cossacks.

I know that this article is too short and that many things were not described. And don't forget that it is only one of many ways to describe those events.

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