Polish-Muscovite War, 1609-1619

The Polish-Muscovite War of 1609-1619 was one consequence of the Russian Time of Troubles (1604-1613). In 1598 Fedor I, the son of Ivan IV (The Terrible) had died. He was the last member of the Rurik, or Rus dynasty that had ruled in parts of Russia since the ninth century. Fedor was followed by Tsar as Boris Godunov, but despite his own personal abilities Godunov lacked legitimacy. In 1604 his rule was challenged by the first False Dmitry, one of a series of men who claimed to be Fedor’s son Dmitry, who had actually died in 1591. Godunov died (1605) before he could defeat the False Dmitry, who briefly held the Russian throne, before being killed in 1606. Civil War followed. Vasilii Shuiskii was declared Tsar, but he was unpopular in Russia.

A number of Dmitry’s supporters had been Polish, and their massacre in 1606 triggered a period of Polish intervention in the civil war. Finally, in 1609 Sigismund III made the war official, claiming the Russian throne himself. His main effort was directed against Smolensk, which was besieged from 1609-1611. The city was defended by Michael Borisovich Shein, who would later attempt to capture the city (siege of Smolensk, 1632-34).

The Polish intervention in Russia triggered an alliance between Sweden and Moscow. A combined army, under the Tsar’s brother Dmitrii Shuiskii, was sent to relief the siege of Smolensk, but it was heavily defeated at the battle of Klushino (4 July 1610). Three months later, on 8 October 1610 a Polish army occupied Moscow. Tsar Vasilii was deposed, and dragged to Warsaw. Sigismund’s son Wladyslaw was actually offered the Russian throne, but he was unable to take advantage of his chance. The war in Russia was unpopular in Poland, and Sigismund was more interesting in the capture of Smolensk and associated borderlands. Despite this, a Polish garrison occupied the Kremlin from 1610 until 1612. Smolensk finally fell in the summer of 1611.

The same year saw the beginning of an anti-Polish uprising in Russia. The Poles were forced to withdraw from most of Russia in 1612, while the garrison in the Kremlin was forced to surrender and then massacred. In 1613 Michael Romanov, the son of the Patriarch Filaret, was elected Tsar, and some stability returned.

The Swedish-Russian alliance now collapsed and was replaced by a renewed Swedish-Russian War (1613-1617). In 1617 Wladyslaw took advantage of this war to make another attempt to gain what he now saw as “his” throne. In 1617-18 he made a determined attempt to capture Russia, but Michael made peace with the Swedes, and held off the renewed Polish attack. 

Both sides were now ready for a truce. In January 1619 the Truce of Deulino suspended hostilities for fourteen and a half years (the truce would be broken early by the Russians in the Smolensk War of 1632-34). The Russians were forced to recognise the Polish occupation of Smolensk, Seversk, Chernihiv and the surrounding areas. In return Russian prisoners held in Warsaw, including Patriarch Filaret, were freed.

The Northern Wars, 1558-1721 (Modern Wars In Perspective), Robert I. Frost. One of the very few works in English to look at the long period of warfare that shaped north eastern Europe, Frost provides an excellent overview of nearly two centuries of conflict that shaped Scandinavia, Russia and Poland, ending with the Great Northern War.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 July 2007), Polish-Muscovite War, 1609-1619 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_polish_muscovite_1609-19.html

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