Muscovy’s Soldiers - The Emergence of the Russian Army 1462-1689, Michael Fredholm von Essen

Muscovy’s Soldiers - The Emergence of the Russian Army 1462-1689, Michael Fredholm von Essen

The book effectively covers three generations of Moscow’s armies. We start with the Mongol inspired army that developed during the period where Muscovy was part of the Mongol Empire or ruled by its successor states, and that was used by Ivan III to shake off the authority of the Golden Horde (CHECK). Second was the reformed army created by Ivan IV (the Terrible), in a combination of a military and a politic reform. Third was the new army of the Romanovs, which saw the formation of units similar to those of contemporary Europe.  We end just before Peter the Great’s major reforms, although some of his earlier actions are included, especially where they impacted on the existing units.

One major theme throughout is how different the Muscovite experience was to that of the other European powers. Russia was more thinly populated and poorer that her western neighbours, and couldn’t really afford to support a standing army, and especially not one that was large enough to defend her larger borders. Her borders were also very different to most of those in Europe, and each of her borders was different. In many ways the southern border was the most significant, with large open spaces facing onto areas ruled by the Tartars, who were able to reach the outskirts of Moscow several times during this period. Any campaigns against the Tartar homelands required a massive effort by the Muscovites. To the east was a largely open border, heading out towards Siberia, but again any expansion into that area required an impressive logistical effort, simply because of the distances involved. Even so during this period the Russians expanded all the way to the Pacific, and came into direct conflict with China!

This is an interested examination of one of Europe’s most unusual armies, demonstrating how the Tsars managed to produce an army capable of facing very different opponents from Tartar cavalry to more traditional Swedish armies.

1 - The Army of Muscovite Russia
2 - The Reformed Army of Ivan IV
3 - The New Formation Army of the Romanovs
4 - The North Caucasians in the Muscovite Army
5 - The Muscovite Penetration into Siberia
6 - Conclusion: The Muscovite Army on the Eve of Tsar Peter’s Reforms

Author: Michael Fredholm von Essen
Edition: Hardcover
Publisher: Helion

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