Military Review

The birth of the regular Russian troops

The celebration of October 1 as the Day of the Russian Ground Forces was established by decree of Vladimir Putin in the year 2006, but the date itself was based on a much earlier event. Four hundred and sixty-three years have passed since Tsar Ivan IV issued a letter of judgment on this day, "On the election of thousands of servicemen in the elected districts of Moscow and surrounding counties." The ruler of Russia proceeded from the current interests of the state and did not suspect that the descendants would dignify him as the forefather and creator of the first permanent Russian army, having all the signs of a regular army.

All people are created for peace and friendship, however, unfortunately, since they appeared on earth, hostility has constantly arisen between them.

Cavemen were squabbling among themselves one by one, but as the number of Homo sapiens increased on the planet, the hostility became more serious - entire families, communities began to fight, and the peoples turned against each other. In the end, it came to the point that virtually all disputes between countries were resolved only by force. Accordingly, the wealth and prosperity of each state began to depend on how well it was able to defend itself against enemies. However, the time of the enemy's attack was often impossible to determine; the only way out was to have ready a certain force, which was necessary both to repel an unexpected attack of the enemy and for an equally unexpected attack on him. And so a certain part of the people, called an army, appeared in every state. The army could be good or bad, and its strength was not so much dependent on the number of warriors as on their habits and ability to win. There are many examples of how in ancient times, even before the invention of firearms weapons, the small detachments of professional military utterly smashed huge hordes of inept foes. The only way to improve the skills of the troops was the need for constant, even in peacetime, training in the art of war.

More than a thousand years ago, the Russian land, divided into small principalities, did not have a permanent army. All that was was the infantry people's militia, which gathered only in case of war. All the inhabitants of cities and villages of the male who were capable of carrying weapons went into this militia. The youngest sons remained in the houses to protect the farm. As soon as the war ended, the army ceased to exist, and all the fighters were sent home. The princes resorted to such a set in the event that the foes were strong and threatened the entire Russian state. If the army required a small one, then a decree was issued, commanding that a man should assemble from a certain number of “soh” or “smokes”. It is worth noting that in addition to the people's militia for the defense of the Fatherland were also voluntary "eager" people. They were on foot and fought, as a rule, because of one greed for profit. The princes hired cavalry from the nomadic peoples, who were also attracted by mining. Even when the princes were their own squads. Vigilantes - the guards of that time - always went to battle ahead, and in peacetime protected the sacred person of the Grand Duke. Combined troops commanded the boyars. For their deeds, they were rewarded with estates, from which they were obliged to supply a certain number of warriors "in a soshno" or "in a smoky manner". Of course, such armed forces of the country did not at all resemble modern regular troops. Rather, it was a crowd of people, fighting, than horrible and how horrible. Such troops were in Russia for almost six hundred years, up to the 1462 year, when Tsar Ivan III united the isolated principalities into one Moscow state, becoming the sovereign of the Russian land. The same period of time was marked by the first weighty victory of our united army led by Dmitry Donskoy on the Kulikovo field.

Attentive research stories the issue of the Day of the creation of the Armed Forces shows that in no foreign country there is a universal starting date of the national army covering all historical periods. In most countries, the day of the birth of the armed forces is determined by the historical event, one way or another connected with the victory over an external opponent or a reflection of an armed attack. For example, the Chinese army has existed for more than a thousand years, but the conditional anniversary date of birth of the People’s Liberation Army is August 1 - the beginning of the uprising in Nanchang in the 1927 year. The French Armed Forces Day is combined with the national holiday, Bastille Day (July 14, 1789). In the United States, Army Day is celebrated on June 14. It was on this day in 1775 that during the war of independence, ten first rifle companies were organized with the money of all the states. In Britain, Army Day is celebrated on June 18 in honor of the Battle of Waterloo on 1815.

As soon as Russia became one large state headed by one Tsar, new orders began. The tsar began to give land to those landowners who served at their own will. Despite the fact that the service was obliged to come with his horse, weapons and gunpowder, from those who wanted to receive the land there was no end. And although even before Ivan III, the boyars were provided with land from the treasury, for which they were obliged, in turn, to supply soldiers, it was from Tsar Ivan the Great that such a recruitment of people to the troops became ordinary. And each landowner, supplying a certain number of their armed people during the campaign, had to maintain them at his own expense. Such troops were called local, except for them in Russia at that time they equipped dutch ones - for a person from a certain number of yards. However, both the local troops and the militia gathered only in case of the start of the war, which means that they could not be considered permanent.

The first relatively regular "troops" appear in Russia in the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The desire of Ivan Vasilyevich to create a permanent combat-ready squad was dictated by a number of problems in the state and was quite timely. The decree adopted by the king in the 1550 year is noteworthy because it was not just ordinary people who were subject to "surrender". The chosen thousand consisted of representatives of the most distinguished boyar, noble and princely families experienced in the art of expropriation, ready to stand up for their native land at any time. In order to ensure a quick response of the “thousanders” in the event of a sudden danger, it was decided to distribute the estates to their families in areas adjacent to the capital. The size of the allocated land was determined by the article to which this or that boyar belonged, and ranged from one hundred to two hundred quarters. All data on the persons to be called up for service, and the estates distributed to them were recorded in a special “Thousand Book”.

In the same year another important event occurred. Ivan the Terrible organized a unique compound - a constant Streltsky army, which was charged with the duty to protect the sovereign and his Moscow court, pacify insurrections inside the country, and most importantly, be the first to come forward to meet the enemy, while the local army is about to assemble. Initially, six regiments (articles) of archers with five hundred people each were created. They commanded the archery detachments of the head, appointed from the boyar children. Of the boyar children were centurions. The newly-quartered troops quartered in the Vorobieva settlement near old Moscow, and they were appointed a salary of four rubles a year. Heads and centurions received more local salaries.

One should not confuse the “occupation” in the outskirts of Moscow of the “chosen thousand” of nobles, which was an important stage in the development of local cavalry, and the creation of elective archers. It should also be noted that the archers did not appear at all in the 1550 year. In ancient times, the Slavs called the word "archers" all archers, necessarily included in any medieval army. The creation of the Streletsky army, Ivan IV, began as early as the 1540s. There is one curious incident that occurred at the king’s court in 1546. During the camp of Kazan, about fifty Novgorod pishtilniki arrived with a petition to Ivan IV. The king did not want to listen to them, and, good fellows, having seized themselves, decided to “bounce”. There was a bloody clash between them and the local nobles, during which both sides suffered casualties. Ivan the Terrible made conclusions from this, and in 1550, in the course of the ongoing reforms, he formed a three-thousandth group of elected archers with a clearer organizational and staff structure.

About archers should be said separately. They were housed in houses built for them by the government, and received from him a salary, uniforms and weapons. For this they were obliged to serve all their lives, and after the death of his father his eldest son occupied the regiment. To control the archers in 1555, Streletsky hut was established, renamed Streletsky order later. Food and cash came to the bins of the Streletsky order from various departments, in the subordination of which were the black-nosy peasantry and the burdened population of the cities. The first baptism of fire the archers took during the storming of Kazan in the 1552 year, and later were obligatory participants of all military campaigns. In peacetime, Moscow archers served as firefighters and police officers.

Moscow archers in the picture of B. Olshansky "Embassy court of the XVII century"

The measures taken by Ivan the Terrible made it possible not only to provide the capital and the approaches to it with combat-ready troops ready for rapid deployment, but also to partially solve one of the most problematic key political issues of the mid-sixteenth century - the issue of providing land for the nobility. As a result of the implementation of the above-mentioned verdict “On the use of service people”, “thousanders” took possession of more than one hundred thousand quarters of fertile land. By the 1552 year, the so-called Palace Notebook was compiled, in which all the representatives of the sovereign's court were recorded in their districts, from which the highest command cadres for the army and the state were elected, that is, the governors and heads.

Beginning with Ivan the Terrible and right up to the great reformer Peter I, who organized the recruitment system for manning the troops, there were no fundamental changes in the order of conscription. Thus, before taking the throne of Tsar Peter I, Russia had the following troops:

1. Sagittarius, the basis of infantry. In addition to what has been said about them, it should be added that in the years that have passed since the times of Ivan the Terrible, the rifle troops strongly degraded. In peacetime, they preferred to engage in trade and trade, becoming more urban and rural inhabitants, rather than warriors. They spent all their free time doing their own business, paid very little attention to military craft, did not know the disciplines as such, often being members of various riots and uprisings.

2. Pedestrian and equestrian city Cossacks serving for the land given to them by the state. They belonged to the local troops and gathered only during the war.

3. Temporary militia, which represented the nobles, who owned the estates, and the boyar children, along with their servants and peasants. The militia appeared, like the Cossacks, at the royal call in case of war, making up the main cavalry of that period.

4. Foreign troops, consisting of foreigners, who are employed in full-time detachment service. Of course, such troops, by definition, could not be good. Each stranger thought only about his own benefits; serving a foreign country was no good for him.

One of the main goals of his activity, Ioann Vasilyevich, considered the further strengthening of the centralized Russian state, knowing full well that only being united and cohesive from the inside would it be able to repel an external enemy. In addition, the existing feudal fragmentation, in which every landowner “rooted” only for his patrimony, placing his own interests above the state, significantly hampered the economic and cultural growth of the country as a whole. An organized, larger, better armed army was also necessary for the expansion of Russian territories in order to gain trade opportunities with overseas countries and the states of Central Asia. And after the introduction of the oprichnina in 1564, the king’s loyal troops helped to effectively deal not only with the dispersed arbitrariness of the boyars, but also to restrain the onslaught of external enemies eager to tear pieces off the Russian land. And in the 1570 year, with the support of his glorious army, Ivan IV defeated Novgorod, the main stronghold of Westernism and separatism, injected by the specific principalities in spite of the sovereign's desire for internal unity and independence.

Pavel Sokolov-Skaly "Capture by Ivan the Terrible of the Livonian fortress of Kokkenhausen"

One of the most prominent commanders of the sixteenth century was the governor of the oprichnich army Dmitry Khvorostinin, under whose leadership a whole series of glorious victories were fought in the battles with the Tatars, the Swedes, the Crimean-Turkish and the Lithuanian-Livonian troops from 1564 to 1590. Few of the commanders of the time managed to take part in so many campaigns. However, the point was not that Khvorostinin had to fight so much - he knew how to do this much better than others. It is necessary to note his confrontation with the Western European armies, which in the second half of the sixteenth century passed to a new level of development, both in terms of combat training and armament, as well as tactical and strategic thought. This applies to both Sweden and the Commonwealth, which attracted teams of well-trained Hungarian, French and German mercenaries. This situation put the Russian troops in a losing position, achieved significant success in defense, but having problems with the conduct of an offensive war. Khvorostinin, having successfully defended the borders of the state from the Crimean Tatars, did not suffer a single defeat in the Baltics, justifying his reputation and winning in a crisis time for the country. His operations were distinguished by initiative and prudence, an offensive style was supported by the ability to organize interaction and maneuver. The brilliant commander demonstrated his talent in the battles of Ryazan in the 1570 year, with the Young in the 1572 year, with the Lyalits in the 1582 year and under Ivangorod in the 1589 year. Even the stingy ones for compliments, the prudish English ambassadors said about him: "The prime husband, an old and experienced warrior, most suitable for military affairs." On such eternally kept the Russian land.

Ivan the Terrible, undoubtedly, one of the most famous and controversial Russian tsars. His vivid and memorable image is so firmly entered into the historical memory of a domestic citizen that it is already difficult to figure out where the truth ends and political propaganda begins, as well as the imagination of writers, directors and artists of different eras. And was it true? The king, according to historians' studies, was so fond of putting the main political decisions in the form of a game or a farce, which, obviously, he himself lost the concept of the boundary between life and perception. With his impetuous desire to centralize power, the king made many enemies among the feudal aristocracy, who relied on the very impressive economic base of his households and did not want to part with his privileges.

However, all this does not detract from the huge role of Ivan IV in the history of our country. It was with him that Russia from a conglomerate of scattered feudal principalities, regularly subjected to plunder and ruin, finally turned into a single centralized state, which took an honorable place among the major European powers and has a formidable Army, ready to give a fitting rebuff to everyone who encroaches on its holy land.

Information sources:
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. Nayhas
    Nayhas 1 October 2013 10: 32
    More than a thousand years ago, the Russian land, divided into small principalities, did not have a permanent army. All that was - this is an infantry militia, gathered only in case of war. All the inhabitants of cities and villages of a male gender capable of carrying arms went to this militia

    What kind of nonsense? Author, do you really think that the militia fought?
    1. OTTO
      OTTO 1 October 2013 12: 52
      If my memory serves me right, the squads were, and the division of Russia into small principality "more than a thousand years ago" has not yet taken place.
    2. erg
      erg 2 October 2013 03: 35
      Actually, the militia fought not only in Russia. For the Middle Ages, the militia is a standard form of army organization. Knightly detachments, princely squads with us, etc., were few in number. In their feuds, the powers that be tried to do without the people. Even treatises were written (in the west) that they didn’t need to touch common people, war is not their business, etc. But any serious war was not complete without a militia. Even during the centennial war, the British knights boasted that the English villans for the joy of robbing their French counterparts, implying that the army was recruited from ordinary residents. The Swiss peasants (as well as the townspeople and others) created one of the combat-ready armies, recruited on the basis of the militia. And at one time they even piled on to such professionals as the Duke of Burgundy with his knights. And then they put their ability to fight for export, sending their citizens as mercenaries under the flags of various sovereigns. Moreover, they were just ordinary citizens of the cantons, and not professional mercenaries who were not engaged in anything other than war. The army on the principle of militia is generally characteristic in the early stages of the development of states. So the ancient Roman army, even before the period of the republic, was recruited from urban residents during the war. Also acted in the Greek city-policies. But the Greeks went further and created, for example in Athens, what is now called military service. Our state is no exception. In general, in those days, free citizens who had the right to bear arms were more serious than modern people about military training, even if they were not going to become professional warriors. As a rule, they learned to use weapons from childhood. Again, an example of ancient Greece, where gymnastics was mandatory in raising children of free citizens. Gymnastics then understood not only health-improving exercises. (however, this understanding of gymnastics persisted until the 20th century, and even a bayonet class in the Russian army belonged to gymnastic exercises).
  2. 77bor1973
    77bor1973 1 October 2013 11: 46
    In France, the first permanent military units appeared only 100 years after the reforms of Ivan the Terrible.
    1. OTTO
      OTTO 1 October 2013 12: 55
      I don’t want to make Russia a "homeland of elephants," but we also had military uniforms earlier than in "enlightened" Europe.
      1. waisson
        waisson 1 October 2013 14: 26
        like a bullseye good
      2. erg
        erg 2 October 2013 03: 52
        Not certainly in that way. There was a partial regulation of military clothing. The fact is that in terms of cut, style, etc., military clothing was no different from the clothes of citizens. And within the same unit could be different. But here the color scheme of outerwear was regulated. Archery regiments, as a rule, had each color or combination of colors, and this included the color of the hat and boot. And in soldier regiments, as a rule, part of the regiment had one color, the other part was different. Boots, trousers, hats were not regulated. The red color was considered honorable and not every unit (including archers) were dressed in it. The date of the introduction of uniforms in Russia should be considered, if I am not mistaken, in 1648, when by the decree of the tsar the regulation of clothes for the highest court ranks and regiment commanders was introduced. Not only color was regulated, but also the style of clothing, how and what should this clothing be embroidered when it must be worn, well, etc.
    2. Yemelya
      Yemelya 1 October 2013 21: 13
      Quote: 77bor1973
      In France, the first permanent military units appeared only 100 years after the reforms of Ivan the Terrible.

      Ordonance companies in France were formed 100 years before Ivan the Terrible, and they did not last long, however.

      An example for Ivan the Terrible was the army of the Ottoman Empire (archers analogue to the Janissaries, local cavalry - Timariots).
  3. [comment-show]
    NEMO 1 October 2013 13: 17
    The cave people were biting each other one by one, but as the number of Homo sapiens increased on the planet, hostility became more serious - whole families, communities, began to fight ...

    On this occasion, I recalled an army pun:
    - When there were no races on earth yet;
    - And the mind did not know about the universe;
    - One primal to another gave in the eye;
    - And so it appeared - The military!

    Congratulations to all officers, warrant officers, privates, as well as veterans on their professional holiday - the Ground Forces Day.

    [/ comment-show] [comment-deleted]
    The comment was deleted.
    [/ comment-deleted]
  • Standard Oil
    Standard Oil 1 October 2013 14: 24
    How much ink was used to slander the great ruler of Russia Ivan the Terrible? Moreover, they poured dirt as their homegrown "lovers of truth" and in the west they diligently cultivated cranberries, but I must say that the myth of the "age-old backwardness of Russia" turned out to be the most successful and tenacious Yes, even now children about Ivan the Terrible know only that "he killed his son", yes "people spread rot." And the fact that the foundation of the state laid by Ivan IV withstood even the turmoil for some reason they do not say.
  • fennekRUS
    fennekRUS 1 October 2013 16: 25
    no comment, though a button accordion
    1. Uhe
      Uhe 3 October 2013 19: 43
      There was another incident with the Swedish king, whose name I forgot. So he gathered all his noble and wealthy families to his castle for an appointment, and then immediately chained them in shackles and sent them to slave markets abroad. As a result, he remained the sole heir to all of their property :)))

      For that they do not love us in these very Europeans, because we are much more merciful to them. That is why they attribute their deeds to us.
  • Dovmont
    Dovmont 1 October 2013 20: 34
    The battle of Molodi was won not by Khvorostinin, but by governor Shein (subsequently executed by Ivan the Terrible). The defeat of the 170 thousandth army of the Crimean Tatars indirectly saved Vienna, besieged at that moment by the Turks, to the aid of which the Tatar army was supposed to come.
    1. Nagaibak
      Nagaibak 1 October 2013 21: 36
      Dovmont "The Battle of Molodi was won not by Khvorostinin, but by the governor Shein (later executed by Ivan the Terrible). The defeat of the 170 thousandth army of the Crimean Tatars indirectly saved Vienna, which was besieged at that moment by the Turks, to whose help the Tatar army was supposed to come."
      Wow ! Not a twig? Hmm ... but more about this Shein is impossible? Nothing that everyone mixed up both horses and people?
      Joke. Actually, the battle of Molodi was in 1572. The siege of Vienna 1st 1529th seem, and the second 1683. And the Polish hussars respected Vienna respected Dovmont.