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Украинская война. Книга 3. Встречное наступление. Превью


The armed conflict for Eastern Europe in XVI—XVII centuries

Volume III. Head-to-head Offensive: Baltics — Lithuania — Steppes

(In the Second Half of Sixteen century)




From the partition rivalry — to the struggle of the domination.

Action schools emerged.

The “Tercio” school of the cohesive pike and shot.

The “Tabor” war wagons school.

Combined arms “Ertaul” school.

The school of opportunities.

Roots and consequences of the action schools difference.

The amphibian leaps and the open sea solid.

The rise of raids.

The tactics climbs to the operational warfare.

The gathering Ukraine.

The states of militaries.

The Shujsky coup in Moscow 1542.

The “crazy” militarism of Erick XIV in Stockholm of 1560th.

Warsaw suppression of 1585—86 by jurists turncoat generals.

The Istanbul takeover by Ozdemiroglu Osman pasha of 1584.

The sum of military governments and the armed struggle.

The composition of the research.


In the Second half of Sixteen century the rivalry for the Eastern Europe was continued as a head to head offensive of armies. The prime objectives of antagonists: Poland, Russia, Turkey and Sweden — were the lands formed into the wide transit zone between the Eastern Baltics and the Northern Black Sea shore.

They became power vacant after the weakening of Lithuania, the softening of Tatar hordes and the decay of Crusade states. But viewed as the competition for territories the conflict involved much higher stakes for the contenders and long-run effects on the Eastern Europe as the whole.

The abstract of the book “Head-to-head Offensive” presents some items and the structure of the research, the organization of the narration, few conclusions and ideas and a lot of questions to be solved in later historical periods and in the

research ahead.



From the partition contest — to the struggle of domination


The evident preys for the strategic predators were: the Livonian Order, as the junior branch of the abolished Teutonic Order, Western and South-Western Rus, reluctantly forced into the Polish merging of Lithuania, Tatar states Kazan, Astrakhan and the nomadic Nogay horde as the dwarf fractions of former giant Golden Horde. Together with them the wide strip of nobody’s Wilde Steppes from the tiny shore line of Northern Black sea held by Turkey and her vassal the Crimea to Southern fridges of Rus became the spoil.

The head-to-head offensive of contenders jammed formerly loose territorial fighting pockets into the united region of war. With the growth of the intensity and the escalation of the swing of the armed struggle it shifted from the contest of territorial gains to the full scale war for the regional domination.

Aspirations of the contenders were steady rising as well as the striking abilities of their armies.



Action schools emerged


During the second half of Sixteen century armies of Eastern European states were equipped with advanced firearms and artillery, trained to use the prime tactics of the pike and shot, the serried cavalry charge, the wagenburg field fortification and the combined arms fight of foot and horse. The national features in the forces composition and organization, in the choice of arms and tactical tools, in the commanders thinking and troops motivation developed into specific national ways of the armed struggle or action schools.

Three of them distinctively emerged. Each of them included the patterns for all kinds of actions: the attack and defense in the field battle, the siege and hold of fortress, the deep raid, the occupation and defense of the territory, the maneuvering and the amphibious strike. All of three schools trained troops for both tactical and operational warfare.



The “Tercio” school of the cohesive pike and shot


The first action school was the Spanish-Imperial “tercio” school of the tactically predominant infantry of the pike and shot massed in the cohesive formations.

In Eastern Europe the Spanish-Imperial school was embraced by the Swedish army during the king Erick XIV reforms. The adoption by Swedes brought the greatest perspective for the Spanish-Imperial school as the Swedish generals reshaped it in the beginning of Seventeen century and lead their army to become the fighting God of Europe. But in the second half of the Sixteen Century Swedes only started to learn and weren’t brilliant in the Tercio school performance.

Besides Swedish army the troops of Spanish-Imperial school were involved in Polish armies as mercenaries. The influence of the Spanish-Imperial school was important via the struggle of Habsburg armies with Ottoman forces for Hungary and Transilvania.

The Spanish-Imperial school treated the cavalry as an auxiliary arm. It prefers the bastion strongholds for the territory control. The fortified network of Master Gotthard Kettler in Livonia of the beginning of 1560th was one of the best defensive creations of Spanish-Imperial school while not so famous as the same one of the revolted Netherlands.



The “Tabor” war wagons school


The second action school was the Czech-Turkish “Tabor” school of the moving war wagons array with the fire infantry and light artillery.

It was born in the Hussite revolution and adopted by Ottomans during the wars with Hungarian war-lord John Hunyadi in the middle of Fifteen century. After the fast improvement of the hand fire-arms by the end of Fifteen century the Turks reequipped their janissaries foot with arquebuses.

During long wars versus Habsburgs in Hungary and Safavids in Iran, Iraq, the Caucasus in 16 century Ottomans convinced themselves that the tabur (Turkish label for the wagenburg) is the best tactical array for the fire infantry and the best anchor for mailed cavalry they have in abundance. They accepted it as their rule of battle.

The Czech-Turkish action school insists on the use of forts primarily as logistic bases and the cavalry as the tool for the territory control.

Ottomans were directly involved in the armed conflict for the Eastern Europe in the very end of Sixteen century when the might of the Crimea was eroded by Russian and Polish attacks. Ottomans understood the importance of the region for their future and forecasted the danger to permit somebody else to establish the domination there. They entered the struggle for the Eastern Europe with armies trained in the tabor organization and tactics.



Combined arms “Ertaul” school


The third action school was Moscow “combined arms” school of the joint action of small detachments of the fire infantry and the cavalry in mixed formations.

The school was focused on the division of labor between the fire foot for the remote combat and the mailed horse for the close combat as in offensive as in defensive actions. To arrange the forces on the battlefield for the combined arms action needs time and the proper analysis of the situation so the Moscow school invented the deep fighting. As the core for it the Ertaul detachment was devised to start the fighting and to allocate the reserves around.

The Moscow school relies on central regional fortresses as operational bases and the cavalry as the tool for operational raids.

The Moscow school was freshest of all three ones. It emerged in 1550th as the result of the fire arms introduction for specially formed regular foot “streltsy” and the reassessment of the former cavalry overimportance in the armed struggle. The new tactics was absolutely necessary for Russian aspirations to become the Othodox messianic power and to crash old Tatar militant Islamic enemies such as the Kazan khanship of middle Volga.

The Ertaul combined arms tactics worked efficiently versus Kazan settled Tartar troops in the battle of Bulak duct of 1552 preceded the fateful storm of Kazan. It served good against overwhelming odds in the battle of Sudbischi 1555 versus Crimean semi-nomadic troops with Turkish elements during the spectacular march to the Crimea of the Russian new model army under Ivan “Grand” Sheremetev. It was highly effective versus Swedish army in the Vyborg fight of 1556 and so on. It brings great victories of Molodi 1572 and Kolomenskoye 1591 over Crimean army which finished Tartar long-range campaigns in Russia.

The result of Russian military reforms was spectacular: Kazan was defeated, annihilated and occupied, the mighty nomadic core of the former Golden Hord — the Nogay state was subjugated and the Crimea while supported by Ottoman lords was chased to the edge of survival. Siberia was burst open for the Russian penetration towards the Pacific ocean, Inner Asia and China.



The school of opportunities


Besides three clear cut schools some mixed opportunistic ways of actions appeared as the one invented in Poland. It was relying masterfully on the forces available and the options played. It believed not in the consistence of forces but in their application and in stratagems.

It adapts to challenges of the armed struggle in the tide of innovations and in the turning surrounding. It looked for best solutions in the hiring of troops of different schools, in the adoption and learning. The best example of the opportunistic action school achievements was the victory of Nicolas Radziwill “the Red” and Grigory Сhodkiewicz of Ula 1564 over Russian invasion army in the Eastern Lithuania.

The specific Polish-Lithuanian way of actions in Moldavia and Western Rus in 1560th developed by such proponents as hetmans Nikolas Sieniawski and Roman Sangushko prepared the victorious counteroffensive on Russian army in the end of 1570th not only by the training of troops but also in the campaign vision.

The imaginative vision of the Polish opportunistic action school took off the armed struggle in Eastern Europe by the second half of Sixteen century in progressively higher dimension.



Roots and consequences of the action schools difference


The second half of Sixteen century was the time for surfaced Antique ideas of military practitioners as imperator Leon VI, theorists as Aelian and chroniclers as Polibius. It was the time for fighting gifts and experiences as of Russian Michael Vorotynsky, of Lithuanian Nicolas Radziwill, of Polish Nicolas Mielecki, of Turkish Ozdemiroglu Osman pasha and of Swedish Klas Kristersson Horn.

It was the epoch both for “genius” military visionaries as Swedish king Erick XIV, Russian czar Ivan IV and Crimean khan Sahib-Geray, for careful “imitators” as Polish king Stefan Bathory, for “chance catchers” as Crimean khan Devlet-Geray and Swedish king John III, and for “old steam rollers” as Ottoman viziers like Sokollu Mehmed pasha backed by sultans Suleiman I, Selim II and Murad III.

In the armed struggle it was the era both for the stubbornness and rage, and for the flexibility and change.

The asymmetry in the manner of the armed struggle brought by divergent schools of actions, their different speed in the race for efficiency, the uninterrupted stream of technical, tactical, organizational innovations resulted in unpredictability of the armed conflict for Eastern Europe in the second half of 16 century.

The rule of the balance of forces wasn’t working, the victories and defeats became surprising, huge efforts fall in vain and small ideas brought spectacular results.



The amphibian leaps and the open sea solid


The growing might of armies and the changed thinking of generals pushed the war to the territorial escalation and boosted the fighting intencity. Logistical obstacles were huge, but armies learned to overcome them. The first solution was found in the amphibian operations of land forces together with river and naval fleets. It was linked with the total reshape of the warfare at sea.

The river fleets became capable to move tens of thousand men with the heavy equipment along the hundreds of miles distances for the decisive strike. The overwhelming logistic capability of river fleets paid off the strategic results to Russia when in the 1550th two Tatar states of Kazan and of Astrakhan were annihilated, and later when Russian strike forces attacked far away Crimean Tatars violating their impunity over thousand miles of wild Steppes.

The naval fleets switched from the board to board fighting to the artillery destruction of the enemy rather on waves or on the sea shore.

In the Baltic sea Sweden under the king Erick XIV started the new era in the naval struggle. Fleets moved to the open sea and pretended to wrestle for their masters not only the favorite landing or the spoil from the trade shipping plunder but absolutely new status of the dominium maris — open sea domination. It was viewed by Erick XIV as the precondition for the great power position in the regions surrounding Baltics.



The rise of raids


It was the second solution which brought the higher dimension for the armed struggle. The push came from the new approach to deep raids.

They were taken before as the tool to destroy enemy civilians and bases, to crush enemy will and to soften the territorial defense. As demonstrated raids of Polish troops under Christopher Radziwill and Phylon Kmita in Western Russia, and Russian troops under Mikhail Katyrev and Dmitry Khvorostinin in Eastern Lithuania in 1581, raids became the tool to establish such operational conditions that to gain with offensive (Polish) and defensive (Russian) actions the breakthrough in the campaign and the favorite strategic closing of the war.

Deep raids connected multiple fights over great distances in the united picture of the campaign not only in the course of war but in the consciousness of the generals what is more important.



The tactics climbs to the operational warfare


The heavier weight of raids was followed by the new tactical thinking developed in the Polish mixed action school. It was looking to conduct the tactical events in the so big scale and intensity that they become of the operational and even strategic importance.

The offensive of the king Stefan Bathory on Russian army in Western Russia and Eastern Lithuania in the end of 1570th — beginning of 1580th was the birth of the approach.

First of all it was the choice of the target which gives the operational meaning to tactical actions. Bathory targeted Russian regional fortresses Polotsk and Pskov as important for Russian control over her West and North-West as nothing else.

The second point was the choice of the action where the Polish army could bring the overwhelming might of tens of thousands of professional regular troops which the Russian army doesn’t have. Bathory made the choice for the siege fighting with his mercenary infantry to storm fortresses and with his striking hussaria horse to conquer their surroundings.

The third point was the decisive unrestricted kind of the action. Bathory always seeks not to starve out the fortress but to storm it and not to drive away the enemy but to wipe it out. To destroy the opposite army was the culmination of his campaigns, as in the battles of Sokol 1579 and of Toropa 1580.

The armies overcame the tactical limitations and achieved the operational level of armed struggle. They pierced the Eastern Europe through and through. They learned to combine the tactical actions in the operational design and to explore tactical results as the campaign decisive.



The gathering Ukraine


It was the campaigns operational design and the swing of armed struggle which was gathering the separate districts of the contested zone of Polish-Lithuanian South-Western Rus, Moscow Southern Rus, nobody’s Wild Steppes, Tatar and Turkish Black Sea shores in the Ukraine. The Ukraine emerged first of all not as the ethnic or political entity but as the operational region of the armed struggle.

At the same time as the armies of the neighboring powers treated the Ukraine as the region for unlimited warfare, inside the Ukraine new forces emerged. Soldiers of local Polish royal troops, mercenaries of magnate estate owners, the veterans of dissolved armies and freebooters living in the nobody’s Steppes started to perceive themselves together as the separate military Estate.

Ignited by Orthodox ideology, with the technic and tactics of river warfare accepted from Moscow raiders, they started to attack Crimean and Turkish shores. They had bases out of reach of Polish authorities and developed the military semi-state. Soon they became interested not only to sack Tartars and Turks but also in the newly colonized lands politics. Named Cossacks they clashed with Polish noble landowners and authorities.

Adding to the aggression from outside to take over or split the Ukraine, the aggression from inside to destroy the Polish rule and to plunder economical and ideological targets around was borne. The Ukraine tied in the knot of aggression.



The states of militaries


The armies were trained in operational warfare — it was the evident result of the armed struggle development in the Eastern Europe in the second half of Sixteen century. But now the armies looked up to become of strategically prime importance — to determine not only the border configurations but the future of states and nations.

The hardest pressure of the armed struggle on the states and peoples came not from military operations but from militaries — the generals of armies. Generals took over states administrations by armed forces and assigned themselves with the unprecedented power to decide the political, social and economic matters.

The Eastern Europe in the second half of Sixteen century shows that the tools of influence of the Military Revolution on the states and societies which are still obscure for XX—XXI centuries sociologists were very direct. They are the authority of generals seized the state power.



The Shujsky coup in Moscow 1542


The wide-spread phenomenon was opened by Russia with the Basil Shujsky coup of 1542 when the army gathered in Eastern Vladimir to fight Kazan Tatars — turned back, marched West to Moscow, stormed the Kremlin and overthrew the government of young Ivan IV favorites. The army was outraged with their corruption and negligence as they ignored interests of small landowners who made up the army.

Shujsky pressed the autocratic teenager to read prayers aloud at the room corner while his troops hunted down the favorites in his private apartment. They deposed the Church metropolitan and established the military dictatorship with Shujsky as the army leader in the head.

Immediately after the coup the way of the states appointments accepted by the army was constituted, the gentry received the rights of the local selfgovernment and Estates Assemblies were started to pass all main legislation and fiscal measures.

The model of government existed until famous Oprichnina of Ivan IV when the czar executed the military elite and established the government of bureaucratic officers of his choice. While he wasn’t able to eliminate the appointment law, the local self-government and Estate Assemblies.

After Oprichina excesses Russia became the only nation in Eastern Europe in the second half of Sixteen century governed by civilians. Other nations followed the military government model.



The crazy militarism of Erick XIV in Stockholm of 1560th


In Sweden the switch to the military regime came with the warrior king Erick XIV. Considered insane Erick XIV exercised carefully calculated steps to support his military and naval reforms with necessary changes in the structure of the government.

With the support of the predominantly peasant Assembly he reduced the independence of dukedoms of his brothers, reconstructed the local government in the mobilization fashion and introduced the absolute power of the king with the new procurator office. He united armed forces and transformed them into the unitary body, promoted middle class officers to the military and civil service.

The prime figures of the king Erick XIV military government consisted of the generals personally connected not with the heartland of Sweden but with the expansion regions: with Finland captured in Thirteen — Fifteen centuries and with new conquered Estonia. The king’s favorites were two Horns: Henrik Klasson and Klas Kristersson. They weren’t close relatives but both were Finnish (i.e. of Sweden military nobles settled in Finland). Together with them rose Pontus de la Gardie — mercenary turned Swede as the hero of fighting in


The personal involvement of the leading government figures in the expansion and war became the clear pattern of Eastern European governments in the second half of Sixteen century.

Erick XIV was deposed by his brother John III, famed insane and killed but the new king never tried to step aside from the military government course and from militaries in the government.

It was the government of the expansion, messianic dreams, mobilization and very big blood. They follow soon.



Warsaw suppression of 1585—86 by jurists turncoat generals


The turn of Poland came the next one.

Breaking domestic changes from 1530th to 1560th were passed by Polish high educated jurists during the political movement of Ehzekucia Praw (the Laws execution). In their native Poland they applied the Antique Rome power model processed by the noble class egotism.

They restructured the government and codified the law in order to construct the unitary state with the clear hierarchy of the decision-making and the strict fiscal arrangement. The new political model was spread not only over Poland itself but also over Lithuania, Western Prussia, Mazovia and Livonia.

With the cooperation of the king Sigismund-Augustus the sovereignty of Lithuania and autonomy of Prussia, Mazovia, Livonia were cancelled in the Lublin 1569 Union. South-Western Russian provinces were reassigned from cancelled Lithuania to Polish Crown as the common property of Polish nobles.

The efficiency of Polish government institutions rose sufficiently to enroll and equip the standing regular army. Poland assembled much more abundant resources for war than any rival in the Eastern Europe.

When the time of big war came the elected king Stefan Bathory cooperated with the government of turncoat jurist John Zamoyski who became the general. He was born and had his personal interests not in core Poland but in South Western Rus as well as other military government leaders.

In the emerging Ukraine they found unlimited space for colonization and agricultural production to supply rising European markets with the grain and the raw materials. The Ukraine was the region where the regular army played under their command and where they had their own private armies, towns and castles.

In the middle of 1580th Zamoysky used the regular army to suppress the eruption for former freedoms of wide nobles during the Assembly of 1585—86. He planned to switch the decision making in the Assemblies from the unanimous vote of local nobles representatives to the most of voices. Only the sudden death of Bathory stopped him.

During the next “Free Elections” (Wolna Elekсja) of the king Zamoyski shot down Polish opposition which supported the Habsburg pretender in their thousands with the fire of the regular foot and massacred them by the regular horse. It was the military dictatorship in a ruthless action.

Poland wasn’t anymore the Republic of Nobles but “Island of Dogs” from famous forbidden English theater play — the military dictatorship of war mongers.

The personal conflict with the new king Sigismund Vasa limited the swell of Zamoyski personal power. But it doesn’t finish the military government of Poland. The great project of the hegemony in Eastern Europe Zamoyski devised together with Bathory before his death consisting of the conquest and merging of Russia, the wrestling out of Hungary, Moldavia, Wallachia from Habsburgs and Ottomans, and occupation of Wild Steppes to Black Sea shores — was going on while reduced.

Zamoiski used the new military might of Poland to restrict Ottomans in 1590. He pushed out the Turkish army of invasion simply marched to the border equally numbered but more professional and better equipped army. Turks were impressed and sued for peace.

Poles accepted but their first move afterwards was to vote for the king the right to distribute the lands of Steppes to nobles without any restrictions. Poland treated old Crimean Tatar domination in the Steppes under Turkish protection as non existing.



The Istanbul takeover by Ozdemiroglu Osman pasha of 1584


The forth state which falls for the militaries was Ottoman Turkey herself. In 1584 the most successive general of war in Iran Ozdemiroglu Osman pasha revolved in Istanbul.

With the new mercenary fire infantry of sekbans and levends he stormed the sultan palace, hanged Jewish financiers guilty by his opinion in the coin debasement, deposed grand vizier Siyavus pasha and proclaimed himself as the grand vizier. The sultan Murad III and the clique of his sister, first wife and mystical teacher trembled.

Ozdemiroglu Osman pasha died soon fighting for Iranian Tebriz but since his coup the military force became the main tool to grab the power in Turkey in spite of formerly predominant favoritism, bribing and mystic. The actions of military governments would be similar to the Ozdemiroglu Osman resection of the Crimean autonomy into the Ottoman direct rule, repressions on Christians and Jews and forced requisitions to feed the war.

The composition of Ottoman military government was the same as the military governments in Poland and Sweden — with the men personally interested in the expansion and the standing army. Crimean Kaffa governor Jaffar pasha and renegade general of Italian aristocratic origin Jigalazade Sinan pasha came in the first wave. Both were field commanders overcame the appointment ladder to be turned viziers and members of the Divan Government.

Many historians still view Turkey of the end of Sixteen century as the time of the rule of valides — sultans mothers. She was not. For Turkey it was the time of military governments came to power by fierce force.



The sum of military governments and the armed struggle


The military governments everywhere in the Eastern Europe dismantled imperial or federative states inherited from Middle Ages and changed them to united, unitary states with the through voluntary power and the merciless resources extraction.

It was the end for the local self-government, personal freedoms, Estate assemblies and laws. The submission to the dictate of war triumphed.

It was the death of the domain state financed with ruler’s income and the birth of the fiscal state of the widespread taxation. It was the inception of future national states of Nineteen century.

The forced grab of the state government by the militaries in the second half of Sixteen century brought to the armed conflict for the Eastern Europe three radically new dimensions.

The first dimension was the dictate of the generals to concentrate human, financial and ideological resources for the war in unprecedented scale. But it was economical or sociological novelty only by the rear view. The view ahead was to escalate campaigns to the operational scale and the war to strategically decisive one.

The second dimension was the stake of war as the survival game for the pretenders for Eastern European domination. Peoples and states were mortgaged on the military success. For whom it wouldn’t come were doomed.

The third dimension is the sum of the former one and the later one. They resulted in the radically new essence of the armed conflict as the total war inside and outside of the states.

Peoples, economies, societies were enslaved by war, enforced to fight over the impossible strain, the personal lives were raped by war objectives. It was the way how the armed conflict influenced the Eastern Europe in Early Modern time.

Peoples and persons could revolt for the freedom from the military oppression and the revolts really erupted in the beginning of Seventeen century everywhere. But they were brutally suppressed without exceptions. The war became the master of nations.



The composition of the research


The book deals with the development of the armies of main pretenders for the Eastern Europe partition and the regional domination as in a separate way to show the process of their building in national specific conditions as in the comparative way in actions versus each other.

The research pattern is constructed with small time-sections from campaign to campaign and from fight to fight. The order is designed to understand the fast development of armies and the armed struggle and don’t loose tiny details which would be of high importance few years later. The generalizations follow fights, operations and campaigns but never precedes them.

The focus lays on the vision of military practitioners — politicians and generals about the army organization. Tactical skills of armies and operational designs of campaigns are analyzed in their details in preparations and actions. The most important political trends and details of main persons are studied as preconditions for military results.

The conception of the Military Revolution is taken as the appearance of the radically new means and tools to win in the armed struggle. Other developments: social, political, technical, ideological ones are involved in the research when they are clearly linked with the armed struggle. They are evaded when the connection is a guess.

Teleological ideas are omitted as too proverbial. The play of incidents and chances is esteemed as the gist of the war.

The book is centered around the forces building and armed struggle of the two main contenders for territories of the Eastern Europe and regional domination in the second half of Sixteen century — Russia and Poland. Sweden came to the game as the pretender for the Baltics lordship in the struggle for Livonia and the open sea control.

The military and political developments of the three nations in the first half of Sixteen century were researched in the First book of the series “Ukrainian War” — “The melee of Rus’ ”, so the discourses of the past are omitted and only conclusions are mentioned when necessary.

The special Second book of the series “Turkish onslaught” is dedicated to the Ottoman military and state-building history up to the end of Sixteen century. Turkey wasn’t directly involved in the armed struggle for Eastern Europe until the time but she had been coming so the scene has to be prepared and the role has to be written. It is the task of “Turkish onslaught”. The derivations to Ottoman history used in the “Head-to-head Offensive” are addressed in the “Turkish onslaught”.

The Seventeen century was coming as the decisive for the Eastern Europe of Modern Times. It was the era of the armed struggle as the supreme lord over and inside the social and economic development, the states-building and the ideology, personal lives. The history of Eastern Europe became the spread of the intertwined domestic and international armed conflict, the deployment of forces.

The maps, rules and resources of them were created in the Second half of Sixteen century and were imposed on the peoples and states invariably.


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