Ship “Fortress” engraved by Adrian Shkhonebek
320 years ago, on July 14, 1700, the Peace of Constantinople was concluded. Victory in the Russian-Turkish War. The return of Russia to Azov and Azov.
The government of Tsarevna Sophia (who ruled Russia in 1682-1689) continued the course of restoring the positions of the Russian state in the Black Sea region. This policy was in line with national interests: military-strategic, economic. On the other hand, Sophia and her favorite, Prince Vasily Golitsyn, pursued a policy of rapprochement with Western Europe. In 1684, the Holy League was created: an alliance of the Holy Roman Empire (led by the Austrian emperor), the Commonwealth and Venice against Turkey. The allies planned to expel the Ottomans from Europe. The powerful Ottoman Empire was already in crisis, but still retained the position of a great naval power. Therefore, they decided to attract additional forces to the union – Russia.
In 1684, negotiations began on Russia’s accession to the Holy Union. However, the matter was hampered by the position of Poland. Moscow expressed its readiness to oppose the Port, but demanded an official concession from Kiev from the Poles. It is clear that the Polish side did not want to concede. Negotiations went on for two years, only in April 1686 the Eternal Peace was concluded between Russia and the Commonwealth. Poland recognized the Left Bank Ukraine, Kiev, Zaporozhye, Smolensk and Chernigov for the Russians. The Poles received a ransom for Kiev. The right-bank part of Little Russia remained under the rule of the Polish crown. The Polish authorities have pledged to provide Orthodox Christians with freedom of religion. Moscow broke the peace with Turkey and the Crimean Khanate, entered into an anti-Turkish alliance.
Thus, Russia has drawn closer to the countries of Western Europe on the basis of anti-Turkish policy. Later, this alliance became the basis for the Russian-Polish alliance against Sweden. In 1687 and 1689. Vasily Golitsyn twice led the Russian army to the Crimea, but without much success. Affected by the lack of a rear support base near the peninsula. The area between the possessions of Russia and the Crimean Khanate was devastated long ago (“Wild Field”). Crimean troops used scorched earth tactics. The steppe was set on fire, the wells were poisoned. The large Russian army, due to a lack of forage, water and the outbreak of an epidemic, was forced to turn back.
In 1689, Tsarina Sophia was overthrown by the supporters of Tsarevich Peter. The Naryshkin government came to power largely on the wave of criticism of the unsuccessful campaigns on the Crimea, so the first years of the war, in fact, was ended. The young king himself was busy with various amusements, including naval ones. Only the Cossacks continued the fighting. However, Pyotr Alekseevich quickly realized that Russia, a country of ancient maritime traditions, has extremely limited access to the sea. In the northwest, Sweden closed the access to the Baltic. The entire Black Sea region with the mouths of the Kuban, Don, Dnieper, Bug, Dniester and Danube was held by Turkey and the Crimean Khanate. Only on the coast of the White Sea, hundreds of miles away from the main life and economic centers of the Russian kingdom, did a great power have a single port – Arkhangelsk.
Even the great Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible understood the need for a breakthrough to the Baltic or the Black Sea. True, I could not realize this most difficult task. Realized the need for a breakthrough to the sea and young Peter. The sovereign set the first task of Moscow’s foreign policy to reach the Azov and Black Seas. Peter decided to change the direction of the main blow: to attack not Crimea, but Azov at the mouth of the Don River and the Dnieper fortresses of the Ottomans. The direction of the blows was correct: with a victory, Russia received the mouths of the Don and Dnieper, access to the Azov and Black seas. In 1695, Peter led one army to Azov, and the second governor Sheremetev – to the lower reaches of the Dnieper. They could not take Azov. The errors of the command and the absence of the fleet affected. The Ottoman garrison was not blocked from the sea and was constantly receiving reinforcements and supplies. The Russian army had to retreat. Sheremetev fought successfully: he won several fortresses from the enemy.
Peter was quick to learn and worked on bugs. He launched a large-scale work to create a flotilla. Most of the military and transport ships were built in the Voronezh region and in the village of Preobrazhenskoye near Moscow. Mobilized carpenters, blacksmiths and workers throughout Russia. The craftsmen were summoned from Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities and places. They attracted soldiers, archers, Cossacks, gunners and peasants. Materials were brought here from all over the country: timber, hemp, resin, iron, etc. In winter, they built parts of ships and vessels, in the spring they were collected at the Voronezh shipyard. They built the first two sailing 36-gun ships, over 20 galleys, etc. As a result, in the center of the Russian kingdom, in a very short time and far from the sea, a “naval military caravan” was formed – the first combat formation of the revived Russian fleet. At the same time, the ground forces were strengthened and doubled. Up to 1,500 transports were prepared for transportation (plows, barges, boats, etc.).
On April 23, 1696, the first transport echelon began to move downstream of the Don. Other combat and transport ships followed them. In May, Russian troops besieged Azov. At the same time, a Turkish naval convoy with reinforcements and ammunition was defeated. Russian ships cut off the Turkish fortress from the aid from the sea. The Turks sent a fairly strong squadron to Azov, but the Ottomans did not dare to join the battle. The fortress was deprived of help from the sea, which played an important role in its downfall. After some time, the position of the Turkish garrison became hopeless, on July 18, 1696, the Ottomans surrendered. The entire course of the Don became open to Russian courts (For more details, see articles on “VO”: “How the Russian army stormed Azov”; part 2).
Creation of the Azov fleet and victory
After the loss of Azov, the Port did not want to come to terms with defeat, the war continued. To hold an important strategic point and develop an offensive, Russia needed a strong army and navy. In the fall of 1696, the Boyar Duma decided: “There will be ships …” The creation of a regular navy began. Peter introduced a special ship duty, which extended to landowners and merchants. The country was mobilized to create a fleet. At the same time, related industries developed: the production of timber, iron, cannon production, etc. According to the tsar’s program, it was planned to build 52 ships with 25-40 guns each (then their number was increased by another 25). New shipyards were built. In fact, Voronezh became the cradle of the Russian fleet. By 1699, most of the ships were built.
True, their quality was far from perfect. Landowners, united in groups – “kumpanstva”, took care of the formal solution of the problem, had no experience in such matters, which negatively affected the quality of shipbuilding. Therefore, they began to refuse the construction of ships by the Kumpanstoms. Landowners were allowed to make a cash contribution, and ships were built at state-owned shipyards. Thus, the Admiralty Yard was created in Voronezh. In 1700, the Order of Admiralty Affairs was established, later the Admiralty Board. That is, there was a centralization in the construction of the fleet. The hope for foreign specialists was only partially justified. Many of the “masters” turned out to be adventurers and deceivers, they came only for money.
Peter took an active part in the Grand Embassy in 1696-1697, looking for new allies in the fight against the Turks. But in Western Europe at this time they were preparing for the War of the Spanish Succession. Turkey, exhausted by the war and a series of heavy defeats, agreed to negotiate. In January 1699, the Karlovytsky Peace Treaty was signed. Austria received Hungary and Transylvania, Poland returned part of the Right-Bank Ukraine, Venice secured the Sea of Dalmatia and the Sea. Russia signed a two-year truce with the Turks. Peter at this time was carried away by a new goal – a breakthrough to the Baltic. A new coalition was formed in Europe – the anti-Swedish one. The Russian tsar took an active part in the creation of the Northern Alliance: Russia, Denmark, Poland and Saxony against Sweden.
An experienced diplomat, head of the Ambassadorial Office, Emelyan Ukraintsev, was sent to Constantinople for negotiations. His embassy was sent by sea. In the summer of 1699 from Azov to Taganrog, the first naval base of the Azov fleet, the ships “Scorpion”, “The Opened Gates”, “Power”, “Fortress”, “Good Connection” and several galleys came. The Russian ambassador arrived on board the “Fortress”. On August 14, the Russian squadron under the command of Admiral Golovin weighed anchor. In four days the ships passed the Sea of Azov and approached the Kerch Strait. After some delay, the Turks gave permission to enter the Black Sea. The Russian squadron returned to base, and the “Fortress” headed for Istanbul. On September 7, in the capital of Turkey, a Russian ship stood up against the Sultan’s palace. The appearance of the Russian fleet in the Sea of Azov caused great surprise in Constantinople.
Peace talks lasted for about a year. The port flatly refused to give Russia access to the Black Sea. At the same time, Western ambassadors, for example, English and Dutch, supported Turkey in this matter. The Peace of Constantinople was concluded on July 3 (July 14, 1700. This was a victory for Russia. Azov and the surrounding area (10 hours of horseback riding) retreated to Russia as new fortresses: Taganrog, Pavlovsk (now Mariupol), Mius. Russia returned the lands to Turkey in the Dnieper region, but The territory was subject to demilitarization. Russia received diplomatic representation in Constantinople equal to other European powers. Moscow was freed from the old tradition of paying tribute to the Crimean Khanate. But the passage of Russian ships to the Black Sea was closed. The agreement ensured the neutrality of the Ottoman Empire in the impending war with Sweden.