Battle of Moscow (1612)

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Battle of Moscow
Part of Polish–Muscovite War (1605–1618)
Date1 and 3 September 1612
Result Tactical Russian victory
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Flag of the Tzar of Muscovia.svg Tsardom of Russia
Commanders and leaders
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz Dmitry Pozharsky

12.000 relief army

3.000 in Moscow

8.000 Russians

2.500 Cossacks
Casualties and losses
1.500 1.500
Polish cavalry armour from the 16th or 17th century
Russian Behterets from the first half of the 17th century

The Battle of Moscow was a series of two battles, which took place in Moscow, on September 1 and 3, 1612, during the Polish–Muscovite War (1605–18). Forces of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were commanded by Field Hetman of Lithuania, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, while Russians were led by Dmitry Pozharsky. The battles ended in tactical Russian victory.


After the Battle of Klushino in summer of 1610, Tsar Vasili IV of Russia was deposed and taken to Warsaw. The Polish-Lithuanian army entered Moscow on September 21, 1610, and the boyars, clergy, and citizens of Moscow, in fear of False Dmitry II, accepted the Polish Prince Wladyslaw IV Vasa as new Tsar.[1]

But the foreign Tsar was not universally accepted outside Moscow, and the country was ransacked by Poles, mercenaries, and gangs of robbers of every nation.

In March 1611, citizens of Moscow rebelled against the Poles, and the Polish garrison was besieged in Kremlin by the First People's Militia, led by Prokopy Lyapunov, a Ryazan-born noble. Poorly armed militia failed to take the fortress, and soon fell into disorder: Lyapunov was murdered by Cossack leader Ivan Zarutski.[2]

Amidst anarchy and breakdown of central government, citizens of Nizhny Novgorod led by Kuzma Minin assembled the Second People's Militia, under the command of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky. Well-armed and organized, the Second People's Militia took Yaroslavl in March of 1612 and set up a provisional government of all Russia, getting support and provisions from many cities of Russia and Siberia.[3] Getting news that a Polish relief army under Hetman Chodkiewicz was approaching Moscow, Minin and Pozharsky entered Moscow in August 1612 and besieged the Polish garrison in the Kremlin.[1]

First Battle[edit]

On September 1, 1612, Polish–Lithuanian forces unsuccessfully tried to break the siege of the Moscow Kremlin, and rescue the Commonwealth garrison under Mikołaj Struś which was present there. To achieve this, they attacked from the west, towards the suburbs of Moscow. Polish hussars, backed by Polish, Hungarian, and German infantry, managed to break the Russian lines. At the same time, however, the right wing of the Commonwealth forces was exposed, which was immediately noticed by the Don Cossacks (allied with the Russians) of Dmitry Troubetskoy, who awaited the outcome of the battle on the other bank of the Moscow River. Part of their cavalry attacked together with forces Pozharsky sent to Trubetskoy’s aid beforehand, managing to disperse the Polish–Lithuanian forces. At the same time, the Commonwealth units in the Kremlin tried to attack the Russian positions, but also failed. On this day, both sides lost some 1000 men.[2]

Second Battle[edit]

On September 3 Chodkiewicz decided to attack Moscow via its southern suburb, the Zamoskvorechye District. Some 600 Hungarian infantrymen managed to reach the walls of the Kremlin. They were followed by main Commonwealth units, which however were halted in the narrow streets of the district. After a Russian counterattack, Chodkiewicz ordered a retreat, losing several hundred men.


Both battles ended in tactical victory for the Russians. They managed to repel the Commonwealth army, and the garrison of the Kremlin, which had run out of supplies, capitulated on November 7, 1612. News of the capitulation reached Polish King Sigismund III on December 8 at Volokolamsk, less than 30 kilometers away. Upon finding out about this, the king, who was on his way to help the garrison, decided to halt the march and head back to Poland.


  • Andrzej Andrusiewicz, Dzieje Dymitriad 1602–1614, t. I, II, Warszawa 1990
  • Tomasz Bohun, Moskwa 1612, Wydawnictwo Bellona 2005 ISBN 83-11-10644-4


  1. ^ a b Željko., Fajfrić (2008). Ruski carevi (1. izd ed.). Sremska Mitrovica: Tabernakl. ISBN 9788685269172. OCLC 620935678.
  2. ^ a b Velikai︠a︡ russkai︠a︡ smuta : prichiny vozniknovenii︠a︡ i vykhod iz gosudarstvennogo krizisa v XVI-XVII vv. Strizhova, I. M., Стрижова, И. М. Moskva: Dar. 2007. ISBN 9785485001230. OCLC 230750976.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ M., Volodikhin, D. Pozharskiĭ. Moskva. ISBN 9785953364034. OCLC 825551251.