Military Review

Streletskaya guard of the Kremlin

Streletskaya guard of the Kremlin

“Oh, the guard gets up early ...” Andrei Ryabushkin. Streletsky patrol at the Ilyinsky Gate in old Moscow. 1897. The Russian Museum

The Moscow Kremlin is the stronghold of power, the soul and heart of the capital city of Russia, its life-giving source. It was here that the destinies of people, the destinies of the country, the destinies of the world were made. Moscow Kremlin - the largest architectural ensemble, a treasury of art and antiquities, a unique monument stories and culture has always been perceived as the sacral center of the country, the basis of its statehood. The first place in Moscow, wrote in the 19th century, the St. Petersburg magazine Niva, is given to the Kremlin as the chamber of the saints, as the tomb of our kings. The Kremlin and in antiquity, in its territory and historical events deserve the attention and reverent worship of all Russians.


Since ancient times in the world there is a military tradition of expressing honor and respect to the rulers, monarchs, commanders, hero soldiers and guarding. Over time, the original custom of protecting the life, health and tranquility of sovereigns has undergone significant changes, complemented by ceremonial functions. The guard of honor in a concentrated form expresses deep respect for fellow citizens, from the best feelings who wish to pay tribute to people who deserve it by their feats of arms or daily labor affairs.

The aesthetic perfection of all elements of the guard, brought to the highest level of quality by years of special drill, has become a hallmark, a kind of recognition of the merits of a sovereign statesman in many countries around the world. The armed forces of the leading countries of the world community are rightly proud of the special units formed to hold rituals of meetings and seeing off the heads of foreign delegations, giving military honors at the opening of monuments, memorials and burials, participate in national solemn and festive ceremonies, other socially significant events.

The emergence and development of the institute of state protection of the first persons of the Russian state has always been considered in the context of the formation of the security system of the Russian state itself, which took place in a fierce and fierce struggle with numerous enemies of the fatherland. Gradually, representative functions, aesthetically shaping the sacredness of the supreme power in Russia, began to be added to the security functions of top state officials. This explains the close attention to the external, sometimes pretentious appearance of security officers who were actively involved in the guard and parade service, sometimes even to the detriment of basic duties.

The centuries-old traditions of parade and guard duty in the Moscow Kremlin were formed along with the development of the Russian state, the strengthening of its authority and power. During the reign of the first Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible, people from local nobles, who were in attendance at the reception of ambassadors, ceremonial exits and ceremonies in bright costumes richly decorated with stones, served an honorary service in the Kremlin residence.

From the stolniki and the solicitors were selected so-called bellies, who were simultaneously charged with the squires of the king and his drabant (bodyguards), an honorary escort accompanying the sovereign on his pilgrim journeys and trips to distant country palaces. Therefore, the terrible weapons of the market at that time were axes, axes, and shestopery (cold weapon shock-crushing action, a type of mace, to the head of which six metal plates are welded - “feathers”), combined with a spectacular and elegant attire. The cloakroom wardrobe included caftans of brocade, velvet or silk Chinese fabric with patterns. On top of the caftans, pondards wore fur coats of ermine on eight straps with silver tassels, high white lynx and polar fox hats on their heads, and sharp-pointed saffiano boots standing on their feet. Two gold chains, fixed crosswise on the chest, completed the appearance of the bazard, giving it a special solemnity, creating a sense of the inviolability of royal power. It was the bellies that stood guard in ceremonial robes and berdysh on both sides of the royal throne during ceremonies in the Kremlin.


From the second half of the 16th century, the Tsar’s ceremonial escort was provided by archers who liked to show off in a colorful “serving dress”. Once the Old Slavic word "archer" was called a warrior-archer. This word was reborn in the middle of the 16th century, when, under Ivan the Terrible, units of the first regular troops of Russia began to form. Sagittarius - a new type of armed forces. In the summer of 1550, in the framework of military reform in Moscow, special orders of archers were created by decree of the tsar, which quickly became the basis of the glorious Russian army.

The Moscow archers, who constituted the personal armed guard of the Russian tsar, received an annual allowance and courtyards in the Vorobyevsky palace. One of the first courtiers who stood at the head of the Streletsky order was clerk Grigory Kolychev, a well-known governor of a large regiment, and “like a yard man who received a large salary (200 rubles)”. About 2 thousand archers were attributed to the sovereign's court. For the safety of the royal personage and his palace were answered by archers, recruited from former guardsmen and located in the suburb along the bank of the Neglinnaya River opposite the Kremlin. Every day the Kremlin guard carried 500 archers, vigilantly and reliably guarding the peace of the king and his loved ones. Day and night with charged food and lit wicks, they carried the Kremlin guard at the entrance palace doors, in the courtyard and at the treasury. Yard archers were also required to accompany the sovereign during his movements around the country.

The archers who distinguished themselves with their prowess arrogated gold money with the image of St. George. The award itself, "gold" or valuable gifts was just a form of monetary remuneration for military works. The received gold coins, although they had a certain nominal value, were perceived as a symbolic act of recognizing the military merits of those who were awarded the highest authority and encouraged him to make the reward presented by the king visible to others. Therefore, the recipients often sewed gold money on caftans or hats as evidence of royal generosity and mercy. This nascent tradition of the Russian army did not escape the vigilant eye of foreigners, who recorded in their notes the respectful attitude of the archers to the signs of royal attention.

The archers were perceived by the people as the elite of the Russian army. This was facilitated by a constant increase in the combat readiness of the Strelets units. Strelets commanders were appointed mainly from the nobility by the decree of the king himself. Streletsky heads, granted the titles of colonels, were simultaneously elevated to the rank of steward. In the activities of the Streletsky order there was a gradual separation of military, police and security (palace) functions. The creation of a security and protection system for the tsar is usually associated with the name of a talented statesman, the “close boyar” Artamon Matveyev, who has isolated the “care” to protect the tsarist person and his family from other archery affairs. It was on the initiative of Matveyev that the installations relating to the protection of the life, health, and dignity of the king were included in the Cathedral Code of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. These regulations, which were in effect a little less than 200 years, passed the test of time and formed the basis of the state security system.


To the watchful eye and the hard arm of the “wall” guard, which one of the rifle orders each day stood in, were entrusted with the main objects of protection, which besides the royal chambers in the Kremlin also included the key units of the city fortifications. The first posts were installed on the outer perimeter of the royal palace. At the front porch of the Red has always flaunted guard artillery hundred. The other hundred commander led to the palace Red Gate from the Borovitskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin. An incomplete hundred stood at the Palace and Bed porch, as well as at the Sretensky and Chicken gates.

Streletsky guard, or "watch", was appointed for a day. In the basements of the Faceted Chamber at the Red Porch, daily notes were compiled daily in the main guardhouse, in which all of the king’s trips around the protected perimeter, as well as visits of important grandees and foreign ambassadors were recorded. The general order of guard duty was determined personally by the head of the Streletsky order. All the palace stairways and gates had archery posts. Constant artillery guards numbering from 2 to 30 people guarded the premises of orders, cannon attire and the Patriarchal House, located in the territory of the Kremlin, as well as the torture chamber located in the Constantine-Eleninsky tower. On holidays, the number of archers attracted to the protection of the Kremlin, significantly increased. These days, a special manifestation of royal mercy was the distribution "from the royal table" of abundant food and drinks. Sometimes the king complained about the guard streltsov by giving money. At the same time, the riflemen accompanying him received a ruble, and those standing on the posts, past which the royal procession marched, were heard half a mile.

Sagittarius in 1613 year. Illustration from the book "Historical Description of Clothes and Armament of the Russian Forces", ed. Viskovatov AV, Part of 1. - SPb .: Military. type., 1841 – 1862.

The second line of protection passed through the walls and towers of the Moscow Kremlin. The riflemen on duty were constantly prepared to repel the attack of the conspirators and intruders. From time to time, Streltsky outfits avoided the sections of walls attached to them. At the guard posts, located on the inner side of the Kremlin gates, there were ten archers. For half a dozen archers stood from the outside - at the Borovitsky bridge over the Neglinka, at the Otvodna (Kutafi) tower, at the bridges that were thrown over the fortress moat from the Red Square.

The task of the “wall” guard also included guarding the gates of China-town and other strategic facilities in the central part of the capital. The crowded guards (20 – 30 of archers) were located near the English Court, the prison buildings at the Barbarian Gate, and also the Ambassadors ’Court. In total, such mandatory guards in Moscow, there were about 50.

The activity of the “wall” guard for the protection of the Kremlin residence of the Russian sovereigns was supplemented, as necessary, by the participation of the “arrived” guard for the protection of the tsar and his relatives during sudden trips of the royal family outside the Moscow Kremlin for pilgrim and pilgrim wanderings. Every day, two or three hundred archers were appointed to serve in the “profit” guard. Spare yards near the Spassky and Nikolsky Gates of the Kremlin and on Lykova Mountain were the places of permanent deployment of the “arrived” guard.

Streletsky guards provided order and prevented undesirable persons from entering the city center thanks to the constantly organized watch at all gates of the White and Earthen cities. These objects were in the zone of responsibility of the “weekly” guards, recruited from the archers of the orders settled in nearby settlements. Streletsky Ten, headed by the foreman, stepped into the outfit for a whole week. Glancing intently at everyone entering the city, the archers immediately seized suspicious people and sent them for an inquiry into the Strelets order.

An important category of the Streletsky guard, which was more likely to perform police functions and ensure order in the capital’s streets and squares, was the “next” guard. Streletsky patrols of this type of guard went to popular pubs, in notorious lanes, exhibited near dubious grassy places and supervised there for maintaining public peace and tranquility, for safety from fire and for the city to not have fights, robberies, robberies , theft, etc. The archers should have checked the identities of the night passers-by and accompanied them around Moscow until the next guard. In the "next" guard, the archers of different orders stood on the day. However, often the archers, assigned to the "next" guard, were used during various ceremonial events, which became the exits of the king and tsarina from the Kremlin to nearby temples for festive worship services. "Regular" guards provided unrestricted movement of the royal procession along the route.


The events of citywide scale were beloved by the king and queen of the Kremlin departures to nearby palaces and monasteries for a brief rest and praying mantis. It also includes foreign ambassadors visiting the Kremlin. The trade and craft people of the capital were enthusiastic about the opportunity to see this colorful and long-lasting action. The archery added to the special entertainment of the event, many hundreds of which, in multi-colored caftans and carrying weapons, performed escort functions. Several archers walked in front of the procession and carried ambassadorial gifts. Muscovites crowded the streets and alleys, creating a crowd and crush. The most stubborn of them in advance took place on the fences, climbed the trees and rooftops. In order to avoid unrest on such days, a cordon of different orders was set up on both sides of the streets.

Muscovites showed great interest in the rite of water baptism on the great twelve feast of the Epiphany. Preparation for the holiday was long and thorough. Opposite the southern wall of the Kremlin, symbolically indicating the direction to Jerusalem, the Jordan was cut through the ice of the Moskva River near the Taynitsky Gate - a wide hole of a cruciform shape with edges planed with planed boards. An elegant wooden canopy was erected above it, covered by a wooden roof. Directly in front of the Jordan a wooden amphitheater was constructed, decorated with bright expensive carpets. From the Kremlin through the Taynitsky Gate was sent a religious procession. The sovereign followed to the Jordan surrounded by close relatives and accompanied by numerous festively dressed suite. On each side Streltsy heads and half-heads walked in orderly manner. The Streltsy of the Swift Order in colored caftans walked along the edges of the procession. Strelets units of other orders by this time were already built on the ice of the Moscow River and along its banks. "At the front" archers were without guns "with banners and with drums and with the whole military formation, in a colored dress." Several elective hundreds of the Stripped Order with candles in the hands of a wide horseshoe surrounded the Jordan. The number of Streletsky companies in Jordan can be judged from the records of that time: “At Jordan, on the mountain and from the mountain to the Four-Column Tower from the east, stand the colonel and Yakovlev’s head to Solovtsov’s order for the first 4 or 5 to be hundreds or as many of the men; elective hundreds without a gun to stand near Jordan in order for 200 hours. ” On the way from Ivanovskaya Square to the Taynitsky Gate, the festive procession was greeted by “Pushkars heads, with Pushkarsky rank, with banners, in colored dress”, standing near the regimental pishchals and large “heads” brought from Holland and considered to be excellent tools for firing shots among the trunks heavy artillery.

Outside the Kremlin "in the act of standing on the rack ordered" was the archers of almost all the regiments of the Moscow garrison. Across the Moskva River, it was ordered “to stand from Jordan ... from the east - Ivanov, Poltev's order, Mikiforov's order, Kolobov's order, Matveyev's order, Spiridonov's order, Fedorov's order, Naryshkin's order, Vasilyev's order, Bukhvostov's order; from the west: Artemonov to the order of Matveyev, Mikhailov to the order of Oznobishin, Ivanov to the order of Zubov, Garasimov to the order of Solovtsov, Yuriev to the order of Lutokhin, Semenov to the order of Chelyustkin. Against Jordan across the river along the bank of Matveyev to the Brovkov regiment ... and along Matveyev to the regiment along the coast to the bottom of Grigoriev to the order of Ostafyev, in the top of Andreev to the order of Koptev. "

Royal access to the Jordan was one of the most solemn ceremonies. On this day, the sovereign sat on the royal throne established here, and the highest clergy and secular persons were located nearby. Thousands of people came out onto the ice of a frozen river, filling its banks. The Patriarch sanctified water with a gold cross, sprinkling the king, his family and nobles with holy water. Then in barrels and special vats it will be transported to temples and Moscow farmsteads. The Divine Liturgy was served by the Most Holy Ecumenical Patriarchs Paisius of Alexandria, Macarius of Antioch and His Holiness Patriarch Joasaph II. A few hours slowly lasted solemn action. Already after dark everything started to move again and a slow reverse procession began. The royal procession, followed by several hundred stirrups with lighted candles in their hands, returned to the Kremlin. The guard of the “wall” stood on duty, the rest of the orders were divorced in an organized manner. After the completion of the festive ceremony and the return of the royal procession to the Kremlin, Muscovites rushed to the Jordan, threw themselves into the icy water to accomplish the feat of piety and wash away their sins ...


The period of the highest heyday of the Streltsy army fell on the events that followed the death of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, when a fierce power struggle broke out between the young Peter the Great and his half-sister Sophia. Suddenly, the archers felt like a political force capable of determining the fate of the ruler rather than serving as a guard and reliable support. “Sagittarius unleashed, not feeling any power over themselves,” said Sergey Solovyov in the “History of Russia since ancient times.”

Inconsistency of actions, instability of moods, expressed in the fact that often one part of the archers was actively involved in popular unrest, and the other was no less active in suppressing these unrest, did not hide from the attention of the ruling groups. It was the Streltsy that Sophia was going to use to crack down on her own brother, but it was the Streltsy who warned Peter about the threat of a conspiracy that was being prepared around the governor, which allowed him to get to a safe place without problems. Attempt to archers to run to the side of Peter was not successful. The young king did not forget their defeat and bloodshed in the Kremlin. He tried to remove rioters inclined to revolt not only from himself, but also from Moscow, sending them to the southern edges for the construction of fortifications. Of course, the archers were no longer involved in the execution of guard-guard functions.

Peter’s ideas about the dispensation of the future Russia were in no way associated with the archers. New time required new heroes. The protection of the sovereign was to be dealt with by the emerging, inflexible imperial guard.

The forward movement of Russia, based on the implementation of a consistent imperial policy, had to rely on an exemplary regular army of the new model. The archers who had slowed down this process should have disappeared from the historical arena. Their time is over.
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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 25 March 2017 20: 21
    The archers ’attempt to run across to Peter's side was unsuccessful.
    The regiment of Sukharev Lavrentiy Pankratovich was the first to openly side with Peter I in August 1689. The regiment and its commander were participants in the first Azov campaign in 1695. After the commander’s surname, the Sukharevskaya Tower in Moscow and a number of neighboring squares and streets got their names. After the Streltsy riots and the execution of the archers, a terrible saying was born: “No matter how the prong, then the archer.” The bodies of the archers were hung on the battlements of the walls of the White City.
    1. cost
      cost 25 March 2017 20: 45
      Colors of the form of the Russian streltsy regiments in 1674 (according to Palmquist)
      1. captain
        captain 26 March 2017 16: 25
        Thank you, I didn’t.
    2. Catherine II
      Catherine II 26 March 2017 20: 53
      Quote: parusnik
      The regiment of Sukharev Lavrentiy Pankratovich was the first to openly side with Peter I on August 1, 1689

      By the efforts of Boris Golitsyn (and money). And his brother Vasily, being much smarter than he could not keep.
      And as Zykler left, everyone ran for forgiveness. True, Tsikler did not help .. the poor man was quartered for a riot (already different)
  2. Yura
    Yura 25 March 2017 20: 30
    Very informative, thanks.
  3. Caretaker
    Caretaker 25 March 2017 22: 59
    The one-sided article describes the role of archers. It all comes down to protecting the Kremlin, which is wrong.
    Sagittarius is the forerunner of the regular army. It is to them, and not to the local militia, that the merit in the military victories of Alexei Mikhailovich belongs.
    1. cost
      cost 26 March 2017 01: 15
      It is impossible to name the archery regiments of the forerunner of the regular army. It is rather the forerunner of the internal troops or the Russian Guard, who like it more. The forerunner of the regular army was the regiments of soldiers. A military parade was held to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in Kostroma. the forerunners of the Russian regular army - The oldest infantry and equestrian regiments of the Russian army. These were the silver pole of the St. George flag of the 4th Erivan generals Zikler and Paskevich Infantry Regiment (founded by General Ivan Tsikler during the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich) and the silver shaft of the St. George flag of St. Apostle Barthalomew generals Bekovich and Ermolov 1st Kizlyar-Grebensky Cossack regiment (date of foundation of the Grebensky regiment - seniority since 1577)
      ... We will not tire of chanting our victories
      There is no regiment in Russia more beautiful and ancient than Grebenskaya ...
      MV Lomonosov "Ode on the day of the accession to the All-Russian throne of Her Majesty Empress Empress Elizabeth Petrovna 1747"
      1. Caretaker
        Caretaker 26 March 2017 10: 01
        Quote: Rich
        1st Kizlyar-Grebensky Cossack Regiment (date of foundation of the Grebensky Regiment - seniority since 1577)

        The Cossack regiment, with all due respect to seniority since 1577, was considered an irregular cavalry.
        1. cost
          cost 26 March 2017 14: 46
          Caretaker The Cossack regiment, with all due respect to seniority since 1577, was considered an irregular cavalry.

          Probably, Nicholas 2 and the Ministry of War of the Republic of Ingushetia in 1913 thought differently hi
          1. cost
            cost 26 March 2017 15: 10
            Caretaker why argue. Descriptions of the military parade of 1913 in Kostroma have been preserved. It describes in detail which regiments, why, and most importantly, why they participated in it.
            An interesting point: The parade was supposed to start from the Ipatiev Monastery, the traditional Romanov shrine, but the Grebens refused because they were traditionally Old Believers, and as a result a military parade was held along the Volga embankment
          2. Caretaker
            Caretaker 26 March 2017 18: 59
            Quote: Rich
            Probably, Nicholas 2 and the Ministry of War of the Republic of Ingushetia in 1913 thought differently

            We are discussing the 16-17th centuries.
            Archery regiments, which were then converted into soldier ones, were not taken into account, for obvious reasons.
      2. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 26 March 2017 10: 22
        "This is more likely the forerunner of the internal troops or the Russian Guard, who like it more.
        The forerunner of the regular army was the regiments of soldiers "////

        That's right. Sagittarius - the Kremlin's internal troops. Noise. Intrigues, coups ...
        In a war, they usually: 1) did not appear at war,
        2) scattered after the slightest failure.
        Therefore, Peter the Great dispersed them. With his inherent super-cruelty, unfortunately.
        1. Niccola Mack
          Niccola Mack 26 March 2017 15: 39
          That's right. Sagittarius - the Kremlin's internal troops. Noise. Intrigues, coups ...
          In a war, they usually: 1) did not appear at war,
          2) scattered after the slightest failure.

          Have you ever read a little history book or something for educational program.
          And it turns out that Kazan was apparently taken by some other archers and some individual archers were called "city" - they served in other cities (not Moscow) and constantly fought off the raids of the same Tatars, simultaneously performing police functions.
          And about the coups - the times were like that. Say the same Peter's Life Guards Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments (later they were joined by Izmailovsky) - the main driving force behind the coups of the 18th (Indian) century in Russia.
  4. sergei1975
    sergei1975 26 March 2017 00: 46
    Sagittarius is an analogue of the French musketeers, but did not go for pendants.
    1. Caretaker
      Caretaker 26 March 2017 13: 49
      Interesting, to which regiments these archers are in accordance with the table "Colors of the form of Russian archery regiments in 1674 (according to Palmquist)?"
      1. cost
        cost 26 March 2017 14: 56
        front-to the regiment of Ivan Poltev, rear - the mistake of a modern artist. There were no colored sashes in the shape of archers - sabers were attached to ordinary leather belts
        1. Caretaker
          Caretaker 26 March 2017 19: 03
          It’s not like sabers.
  5. Curious
    Curious 26 March 2017 14: 43
    Despite the abundance of all kinds of historical literature at present, which is necessarily based on "the latest inaccessible and sensational archival documents", detailed answers to many historical questions can still be found in publications of the Soviet period. You just need to strain a bit to filter out the necessary curtsies towards the classics of Marxism. So for the Streltsy army, site visitors can find answers to many of their questions in the book "A. Chernov. Armed Forces of the Russian State in the XV-XVII Century - M .: Military Publishing House, 1954".
  6. captain
    captain 26 March 2017 16: 25
    I liked the article, thanks to the authors.
  7. Catherine II
    Catherine II 26 March 2017 21: 02
    In general, the behavior of archers is akin to the behavior of the guard in the aftermath of Peter's coups and intrigues.
    Although the difference is big. Sagittarius was fed household and trade. And she was sick - and they began to force them a lot of things. Also Crimean campaigns and Peter 1.
    It’s Sagittarius who Sofia was going to use for reprisal against her own brother, but it was the Sagittarius who warned Peter about the threat of a conspiracy being prepared in the midst of the ruler, which allowed him to easily move to a safe place

    Not really. Sagittarius was not loyal to anyone. They also rebelled against Sophia. And they helped to remove Matveyev and almost removed the heirs along with the tsarina. Her whole family was cut out. And all this is with Peter before his eyes. I think this made a lasting impression on him and the formation of his character went along the lines of violence and cruelty (archers were just the first to pay for it)
    . The archers ’attempt to run across to Peter's side was unsuccessful. The young tsar did not forget the defeat and bloodshed that they inflicted in the Kremlin.

    Rome does not pay to traitors. A betrayer once ... Yes, he hated them and remembered their deeds. He was a very vengeful man. Not afraid of blood.
    He tried to remove the archers prone to rebellion, not only from himself, but also from Moscow, sending them to the southern regions for the construction of fortifications. Of course, archers were no longer involved in the performance of guard and guard functions.

    They were also sent to the north and west. The southern ones were mainly built by the Cossacks .. And they began to rebel at the time of their departure to Europe. Suppressed them quickly. And then they massively executed wholesale and retail.
    Azov campaigns proved the effectiveness of the guard, and not archers.
    1. saigon
      saigon April 23 2017 06: 42
      Well, of course, the archers are not effective, but how then did the archers participate in the Poltava battle not effective?
  8. sergei1975
    sergei1975 26 March 2017 23: 26
    Something about form.
  9. Des10
    Des10 3 November 2017 19: 26
    Quote: saigon
    Not really. Sagittarius was not loyal to anyone. They also rebelled against Sophia. And they helped to remove Matveyev and almost removed the heirs along with the tsarina. Her whole family was cut out. And all this is with Peter before his eyes. I think this made a lasting impression on him and the formation of his character went along the lines of violence and cruelty (archers were just the first to pay for it)

    and there is nothing others to blame on the Bolsheviks, that's because --- "historians" have snickered.