Fact of the day: 2nd October

On this day in 1552 the conquest of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible took place.

The 150,000 Muscovite army under Ivan IV came under Kazan’s walls and besieged Kazan on August 22, 1552. Russian cannons shelled its walls from 29 August and soon they smothered the fire of large-calibre Tatar cannons. During 30 August – 6 September Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky defeated the inner cavalry under Yapancha and the Ar units and burned Archa. Andrey Kurbsky defeated Cheremis troops. Sappers blew up the underground way to Kazan’s underground drinking water source. download

A 12-metre high siege tower (referred to also as a “battery-tower” to distinguish it from the pre-gunpowder siege engines) was built by Ivan Vyrodkov out of wood on site for mounting siege cannon. This revolutionary new design could hold ten large-calibre cannon and 50 lighter cannon, allowing a concentration of artillery fire on a section of the wooden wall or city, which played a crucial role in shattering Tatar resistance. However, it is certain that the few cannon defending Kazan would first have to have been put out of action in order for the tower to be effective, as it would otherwise have been an obvious target for any remaining artillery.

On 2 October sappers (believed to have been led by Englishman Butler, also known as Rozmysl in Russian chronicles) blew up the wall near the Nogay and Atalıq Gates. Russian soldiers entered the city. The civil population as well as Kazan’s army opposed them. After desperate slashing some survivors were blockaded in the citadel.

Then, after khan Yadegar Moxammad and Nogai leader Zaynash were captured, the defenders of the citadel tried to escape to the northern forests, but they were defeated.

A number of Russians who had been captured in military campaigns from the Russian borderland and held captive in the Khanate were released, and a large massacre of Kazan Tatars took place, as well as the destruction of almost all Tatar libraries and buildings, including mosques.

Ivan the Terrible before the seizure of Kazan encouraged his army by the examples of Georgian Queen Tamar’s battles by describing her as: “The most wise Queen of Iberia, endowed with the intelligence and courage of a man.”


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