Fire of Moscow (1571)
The Fire of Moscow (1571) occurred in May of that year when the forces of the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray raided the city. The khan set the suburbs on fire on May 24 and a sudden wind blew the flames into Moscow and the city went up in a conflagration. According to Heinrich von Staden, a German in the service of Ivan the Terrible (he claimed to be a member of the Oprichnina)," the city, the palace, the Oprichnina palace, and the suburbs burned down completely in six hours. It was a great disaster because no one could escape." People fled into stone churches to escape the flames, but the stone churches collapsed (either from the intensity of the fire or the pressure of the crowds.) People also jumped into the Moscow River to escape, where many drowned. The powder magazine of the Kremlin exploded and those hiding in the cellar there asphyxiated. The tsar ordered the dead found on the streets to be thrown into the river, which overflowed its banks and flooded parts of the town. Jerome Horsey wrote that it took more than a year to clear away all the bodies.
It was one the most severe fires in the history of the city. Historians estimate the number of casualties of the fire from 10,000 to as many 80,000 people. Foreigners visiting the city before and after the fire have described a noticeable decrease in the city population, and Ivan the Terrible avoided the city for several years after the fire due to the lack of suitable habitation for him and his entourage. The khan's attempt to repeat the raid in 1572 was repelled in the Battle of Molodi. See also Russo-Crimean Wars.
- Isabel de Madariaga, Ivan the Terrible. First Tsar of Russia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 264.
- Heinrich von Staden, The Land and Government of Muscovy: A Sixteenth Century Account ed. and trans. Thomas Esper(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967), 47; Michael C. Paul, "The Military Revolution in Russia 1550-1682," The Journal of Military History 68, no. 1 (Jan. 2004), 40.
- von Staden, "The Land and Government of Muscovy," 47; Jerome Horsey, "The Travels of Sir Jerome Horsey, Knight," in Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century. Edward A Bond, ed. (London: Haklyut Society, 1856), 164-166; Paul, "The Military Revolution in Russia," 40.
- Madariaga, Ivan the Terrible, 266.
- Madariaga, Ivan the Terrible, 267, 277.
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