One of the myths that have taken root in historical science and public consciousness is that pre-Petrine Russia was chronically behind the West in the military-technical field. However, the facts refute such ideas.
There is a belief that only Peter I began to pull up to the proper level of armament, training of troops. But the sweeps received from the Swedes taught the Russians to fight.
All this is nothing more than political mythology.
Our country has never known such a lag. Even the ancient Scythians, who smashed all enemies, created the advanced horse army for their time, had magnificent armor and weapon. The Slavs in this respect, too, was all right. The heroes of the Anglo-Saxon epic "Beowulf" are chopped by the best Ants (East Slavic) swords of that era. These swords of the 6th – 7th centuries are well known to archaeologists. In the IX century, the products of the Kiev gunsmiths were praised by both the Khazars and the Arabs.
Gun yard on Neglinnaya. Hood V.A. Vasnetsov.
High-quality Russian chain mail is mentioned in the French epic. And in the XIV century in the "Zadonshchina" among the best types of weapons, along with the "sulitsy German" and "spears fryazhskimi" called "Moscow shields".
The properties of this weapon have experienced the Byzantines, Hungarians, Poles, German crusaders, Swedes. While Russia was not divided and did not fight in strife, no enemy even dreamed of crushing it. But the Tatar-Mongols, who used the rip, rated the Russians much higher than the western knights. In our country, Batu held an army in a single fist until the capture of Vladimir, and before the invasion of Europe he divided into several corps - one crushed the Poles and Germans at Lingitse, the second - the Hungarians and the Croats under Shayo.
Poles and Lithuanians enthusiastically described how they overpowered the Russians. As we covered the fields with thousands of dead, we gathered fabulous booty, as cowardly and stupid Muscovites scattered in panic, completely unable to fight. These assessments fell into Western historical works, appeared in the works of Russian Westernizers of the XIX century. Well, Lithuania really did make a good living after the defeat of Russia by the Tatars. Swallowed up fragmented scraps of whole principalities, the border reached Kaluga and Mozhaisk.
But connoisseurs of Polish-Lithuanian prowess for some reason persistently fail to notice some facts. From the beginning of the 15th century, the border began to move only in one direction - to the west. Gradually, but definitely - to the west. Well, it turns out, won and backed out? No, they just made noises about victories, and the defeats were silent. A hostile attitude towards the Russians was pushing to depict them in a caricature.
Although in this era to talk about any backlog of our country in the military field can not speak. On Kulikovo field of sv. Dmitry Donskoy "gutted" not only the best Tatar cavalry in the world, but also the best Genoa infantry in Europe. At the same time in Russia appeared firearms. At first it came not from the West, but from the East, as evidenced by the name “mattress” (from the Persian “tupang” - the pipe). The mattresses were used in 1382 during the siege of Moscow by Tokhtamysh. When the city fell, the artillery was lost, and in the 1389 year, "Germans were taken from the Germans to Russia and fire shooting." But their production was quickly established in Moscow, Novgorod, Tver. The commendable word to Boris Alexandrovich Tversky mentions how he sent to help Vasily the Dark "a cannon with cannons by the name of Nikul Krechetnikov, and such was the master that he could not be found like him among the Germans."
Tsar Cannon, installed in the Moscow Kremlin.
Under Ivan III, a very large enterprise was built in Moscow, the Cannon Yard. Production of guns and handguns unfolded, squads of pishchniki appeared in the army — they were exhibited by the cities. And in the 1550-ies, under Ivan the Terrible, the first regular infantry, the archers, was created. They already had a single form: colorful caftans, hats, uniform armament with flames, bears, swords. The basis of the cavalry were the regiments of the boyars' children (small landed gentry who received the village or another in the form of a salary for service). And the Russian artillery of that era, researchers believe the best in the world. Basil III took a powerful fortress Smolensk, and Ivan the Terrible Polotsk without assault, only by bombardment.
Western countries could only envy such an army. Their knightly cavalry was becoming obsolete, the nobility was undisciplined, it was constantly changing. Troops were made up of mercenaries. This worked the German and Italian princes, "condottierri." Formed shelves from any rabble, sold to the one who pays. The obedience of such soldiers was supported with sticks and gallows, but they were also allowed to do anything. The mercenaries burned, raped and slaughtered everyone, behind the troops were the ruins of cities with piles of corpses. The soldiers did not have a homeland, they plundered and exterminated everywhere. The assembled army quickly pushed out to the territory of the enemy, let them graze there.
There was no form in sight, the army looked like a bunch of ragged, behind it dragged a huge train of dealers of the loot, Tickers, prostitutes. Parts like archers appeared in western countries only half a century later. In France, these were musketeers, but there were only 2 companies, they were the personal guard of kings. And in Russia, Ivan the Terrible established 6 regiments of Moscow archers, then the regiments began to be created in other major cities, their number reached 10 – 15 thousand.
Streletsky build. XVII century.
As before, the products of Russian armorers were famous. Their armor was much lighter and more comfortable than European armor - chain mail from 50 thousand rings weighed only 6 – 10 kg. There were also excellent quality sabers — a good one was considered such that it was possible to cut a gas kerchief on the fly. For their manufacture used a special steel- "way", apparently, akin to the eastern damask. Pole Maskevich wrote that Russian sabers "will not yield to the real Turkish." Venetian Tjapolo reported that "in Moscow make guns in large quantities." Pole Nemoevsky also noted "good food and muskets." In the era of Grozny, Russians began to export firearms. Large batches of guns and shotguns were bought by Persia.
Fulvio Ruggieri admired the art of fortification. He described how, during the war with Poland, Russian “engineers” (!) Inspect the site of future fortifications, then they cut logs somewhere far in the forest, then they adjust and mark them, raft them along the river, and then using signs made on logs “in one moment they join ”, they cover earth with a rye and put up a garrison. The enemy does not have time to react, as he has a fortress under his nose.
True, they didn’t allow Livonia to seize the Baltic Sea and get to the Terrible. But the reason was not at all in the backwardness of the Russians, but in the fact that all of Europe rallied against them: Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, the Livonian Order, Prussia, Hungary, they were fully supported by the Pope and the German emperor, Stefan Batory was flooded with generous funding, allowing recruit masses of mercenaries. Western diplomacy has connected Turkey, the Crimean Khanate to the union, and the goal of the formed coalition was to proclaim not the defense, but the offensive, the destruction of Russia. But it did not work! After several victories, the hordes of the enemy got bogged down near Pskov and suffered such losses that they had to give up global plans. To press Russia, to take away from her even a piece of its original, pre-war land, Batory failed.
And in the future Russian military art and technology continued to develop. The defensive structures created by Fyodor Kone - Smolensk Fortress, White City in Moscow, were considered a miracle of fortification. Pavel Aleppsky reports about the wall of the White City that it was “amazing buildings, because it is made from the ground to the middle of the height of the slope, and with a rise to the top there is a ledge, and therefore guns do not act on it”. Loopholes were oblique, allowing you to shoot through the "dead space" against the walls. "We have not seen such loopholes either in Antioch, Constantinople, or Aleppo." The gates covered the towers, and the aisles through them were not straight, but “with twists and turns and iron bars”. It was impossible to knock them out with guns or a ram, and those who wanted to break through the gates found themselves in “twists and turns” under the fire of defenders. Smolensk fortress had underground chambers “hearsay” with special acoustics. The person on duty could detect where the besiegers were digging mines.
The Tsar Cannon, cast by Andrei Chokhov in 1605, did not exist in the singular. There were four such giants - there were two guns on each side of Red Square. True, they have never been used - it is long and difficult to charge, the cores must be lifted with the help of special devices. Rather, they played the role of psychological weapons. For example, the ambassadors of the Crimean Khan will arrive, they will admire - and they will think about whether to climb Moscow? But produced and operating huge tools. The siege of the Unicorn weighed 450 pounds (more than 7 tons), and its core was 1 pounds of 30 grivenok. Poodle cores were fired at the Pasenok and Wolf guns (each with 350 pounds), slightly smaller were the Krechet, Achilles, Faceted, Peacock, Basilisk, Vepr and others.
Foreigners who visited Russia were amazed by the "huge amount of artillery." They described tools “in which a person can sit down” or “shooting hundreds of bullets from a goose egg”. The only time the Poles and the Swedes were able to defeat Russia, tear off vast areas from it - but not in a fair fight, but with the help of political sabotage, throwing False Dmitriys and fomenting the Troubles. But even in complete devastation, the occupiers failed to finish off and enslave our country. By the way, when the Poles seized the Kremlin by deception, it was precisely the Russian numerous artillery that fell into their hands that made it possible to withstand the siege for so long and repel storms.
One of the rifle regiments is preparing for battles. Late 16th century
The consequences of hard times were overcome under the leadership of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich and Patriarch Philaret. At the same time, the Cannon Yard was not only restored, but also modernized. Olearius describes him as “a foundry behind the Pohankin ford, where many cannons and bells are poured”. 2 stone workshops were erected here instead of the former wooden ones, a “forge mill” was built to “forge iron with water”. When the plant had its own ground for testing guns. Two “powder mills” (factories) were built.
At this time in the European armies began important reforms. The Dutch commander Moritz of Orange, fighting with the Spaniards, eased the cavalry armor, armed it with pistols. And the infantry was divided into musketeers and pikemen. Some fire, others cover them with long peaks from cavalry attacks. The Swedish king Gustav II Adolf developed and deepened these reforms. He established permanent shelves, introduced lightweight muskets, gave light infantry to infantry. The Swedish army was the best in Europe, in the Thirty Years War, walking around in different states, crushing all opponents.
Well, the Russians never considered it shameful to adopt useful things. And they were not cut off from Europe at all. The regiments of the “new” or “foreign” system began to be formed not at all by Peter I, but by his grandfather Michael and great-grandfather Philaret.
A decree establishing the first two regiments was issued in April 1627. The Swedish army was taken as a model, foreign commanders were hired. Each regiment consisted of 8 companies, 200 soldiers, 120 musketeers and 80 pikemen. Since 1632, Reiter regiments have been created - from 2 thousands of horsemen, protected by cuirass, armed with carabiners, 2 pistols and a sword. Then came the dragoons, light cavalry with carbines.
True, Russia is still not strong enough after the Troubles. She won the war with Poland in 1632 – 1634, but with very little result. It was possible to select only one city, Serpeysk with the county. But the military continued to improve. And the novelties of military science in Moscow were tracing very clearly. So, back in 1606, clerks M. Yuriev and I. Fomin transferred L. Fronsperger's German “Military Book” from German. In 1621, the clerk O. Mikhailov compiled the “Charter of military, cannon and other matters related to military science”, which compiled the advanced experience of European states, valuable information on fortification, ballistics, artillery.
In 1647, the book “The Doctrine and Cunning of the Military Formation of Infantry People”, a complete translation of the textbook of I. Volgauzen’s “The Military Art of the Infantry”, was published in Moscow in 1200, a huge edition of that time. B1650 was translated from the Dutch statutes for teaching to the reiter structure. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich established the first officer school for the training of command personnel. A Swedish resident in Moscow, de Rodes, reported to Stockholm about two training regiments of a thousand people, “for the most part all of the noble nobles,” whom Colonel Buchgofen prepared for the command service - “he now taught them so much that there are few among them would not have been able to replace the colonel. "
These steps coincided with a period of rapid economic growth; large manufacturing enterprises, including steel mills, multiplied throughout Russia. K1646, our country even supplied artillery for export to Europe! "Over the Sea at Heavenly Price" was sold to 800 guns per year! The production of lightweight muskets, loaded with a paper cartridge, modeled after the Swedish ones, was also mastered. By the way, it can be mentioned for comparison that in France in the same years there was not something like factories, but even gun workshops. Everything from noblemen swords to cannons was purchased in Belgium, Holland, Germany. Or in Russia - through the Dutch.
When Ukraine rebelled against Polish oppression and Catholic oppression, and Bohdan Khmelnytsky turned for help, to become a king, Russia was ready for a decisive battle. The Pushkarsky order reported to the sovereign: “The cast guns must be made exactly as needed,” the cannons on the carriages were now attached to all the regiments. In February, the Barred Order 1654 reported that the 31 464 musket, 5 317 carbines, 4 279 pairs of pistols were sent to the troops, and the order still had 10 thousand guns and 13 thousand guns to them. All this is domestic production!
For some reason, in the history books, the chapter on the reunification of Ukraine with Russia ends with the Pereyaslav Rada in 1654. In fact, the war was just beginning and lasted another 27 years, and again with a whole coalition of enemy powers. Advanced Russian technology played a significant role in the battles. And it is curious to note that the capital's Cannon Yard was not only a manufacturing enterprise, but played the role of the first design bureau of our “defense industry”.
In 1659, the ambassadors of the Allied Denmark visited Moscow. Through their compatriot, colonel of the Russian service of Bauman, they got to the Cannon Yard, described some of the designs that were carried out there. In particular, the model of a giant mortar, whose weight was supposed to reach 8 750 pounds (140 t), weight of grenades - 14 050 pounds (5,6 t), required 2 000 pounds of powder (800 kg) for charging, and for igniting grenades and charging - 200 pounds (80 kg). And the powder in the chamber fell asleep with the breech, which was closed on the screws. In general, the main thing for the siege of cities is to somehow bring such a monster into place. And then one bomb threw - and that's enough.
It is unlikely that the super-mortar was made in reality, only the model that “reached the chin” is described. Mention Danes and drawings of other new designs. But they also pointed out samples launched into mass production - these are light field guns on the carriages, they were carried by a 1 horse, and the calculation consisted of 2 people. And they were charged "from behind" from the breech! In the west, these have not been. At the time of arming the Russian army, "screw" (rifled) and "organ" (multi-barreled) guns appeared.
Gulyay-town, field mobile fortification, which was in service with Russian troops in the XVI-XVII centuries.
For the steppe war, in Moscow manufactories, “walking-cities” were regularly manufactured - folding fortifications on carts. С1667 began the serial production of hand grenades, in Moscow the Grenade Yard was built. Only in 5 years they were made 25 thousand.
There were grenades in metal shirts, there were "pot-hole" - in glass, they were worn on a belt in special bags. Foreigners noted their excellent quality.
And the number of "new order" regiments was growing. By the 1661 – 63 years, the Russian army consisted of 22 Strelets Regiment, 48 Soldiers, 8 Dragoons, 22 Reitar, 1 Hussars. Two "elected" guards regiments, Kravkov and Shepelev (and later they will become Butyrsky and Lefortovsky) also appeared. All units had uniform weapons, uniform. The shelves of the "new order" were reckoned to be caftans shorter than Streltsy, to the knee. And the hats were similar to Streletsky, but without a fur rim. The form of different regiments and types of troops differed in the color of collars, hats and boots, and military ranks were determined by the color of the chest lacing on the caftan.
Peter I in front of the Transfiguration and Semenov regiments.
The hierarchy of officer ranks was already quite developed. In our army there were colonels, half-colonels, captains, captain, mayor, lieutenant, ensigns. There were already Russian major generals, lieutenant generals. And in 1669, the Boyar Duma adopted three flag colors: white, blue and red (as the primary colors on the icon of St. George the Victorious). Although the order of their alternation remained arbitrary, and on the banners of different regiments colors were used in various combinations, from different angles.
This army provided Russia with impressive successes. Poland was defeated to such an extent that it dropped forever from among the great powers. From now on, she was left to proudly sing “Another Polish did not disappear,” but others were controlling her fate. Russia has become the undisputed leader in Eastern Europe. When Sweden thrust into the war, she too was “poured” in such a way that not much seemed. The Ottoman Empire intervened, but under Chigirin the Russians buried two Turkish armies. At the same time, between times, Persia’s attempts to grab the Caucasus were repelled, and Chinese troops were scattered around Albazin and Nerchinsk ...
But new times came, other ideas about the army, its essence and purpose, and already Peter the Great set about reforming it.