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In the 16th century, the Wild Steppes in Russia were exposed to the Tatar's. During the wars, Crimean Tatars (supported by the Turkish army) invaded central Russia, devastated Ryazan, burned Moscow, and took 150,000 Russians as captives. However, the next year the Tatars were defeated in the Battle of Molodi. Despite the defeat, the Tartar raids continued. As a result, the Crimean Khanate was invaded several times, conquered in late 18th century. The Tatars eventually lost their influence in the over the regions.
Over the course of the 16th century, the outer border of the Wild Steppes was near the city of Ryazan, outside the Oka River. The main path for the invading forces to Moscow was the Muravsky Trail, running from the Crimean Isthmus of Perekop, between the basins of the Dnieper and Severskiy Donets rivers, and finally up to Tula. The Tatars would turn back only after extensive looting and kidnapping, the Tartars usually managed to penetrate 100–200 kilometers into Russian territory. Captives were subsequently sent to the Crimean city of Caffa to be sold into Slavery. As a result, the Russian population in the border regions suffered heavily.
Each spring, Russia mobilized up to 65,000 soldiers for border service. The defensive lines consisted of a circuit of fortresses and cities.
The most damaging invasions occurred in 1517, 1521 (supported by the Khanate of Kazan), 1537 (supported by the Khanate of Kazan, the Lithuanians, and the Ottoman Empire), 1552, 1555, 1570–72 (supported by Sweden and the Ottoman Empire), 1589, 1593, 1640, 1666–67 (supported by Poland-Lithuania), 1671, and 1688.
In May 1571, the 120,000-strong Crimean and Turkish army (80,000 Tatars, 33,000 irregular Turks and 7,000 janissaries) led by the khan of Crimea Devlet I Giray, and Big and Small Nogai hordes and troops of Circassians, bypassed the Serpukhov defensive fortifications on the Oka River, crossed the Ugra River and rounded the flank of the 6,000-man Russian army. The sentry troops of Russians were crushed by the Crimeans. Not having forces to stop the invasion, the Russian army receded to Moscow. The rural Russian population also fled to the capital.
The Crimean army devastated unprotected towns and villages around Moscow, and then set fire to suburbs of the capital. Due to a strong wind, the fire quickly expanded. The townspeople, chased by a fire and refugees, rushed to northern gate of capital. At the gate and in the narrow streets, there was a crush, people "went in three lines went on heads one of another, and top pressed those who were under them". The army, having mixed up with refugees, lost order, and general prince Belsky died in a fire.
Within three hours, Moscow burnt out completely. In one more day, the Crimean army, sated with its pillage, left on the Ryazan road to the steppes. Contemporaries counted up to 80,000 victims of the invasion in 1571, with 150,000 Russian taken as captives. Papal ambassador Possevin testified of the devastation: he counted in 1580 no more than 30,000 inhabitants of Moscow, although in 1520 the Moscow population was about 100,000. See also Fire of Moscow (1571)).
After the burning of Moscow, Kahn Devlet Giray, supported by the Ottoman Empire, invaded Russia again in 1572. A combined force of Tatars and Turks, however, this time they were repelled in the Battle of Molodi. In July–August, the 120,000-strong horde of Devlet I Giray of Crimea was also defeated by the Russian army, led by Prince Mikhail Vorotynsky and Prince Dmitriy Khvorostinin.
Incomplete list of Tatar raids
- 1465: Crimea attacks the Great Horde to prevent it from raiding Russia and disrupting the northern trade
- 1480: Great stand on the Ugra river
1507 and 1514: The Raids led by Tatar nobles, avoiding a peace agreement held by the Khan.:14
1521: Khan and 50,000 men cross the Oka at Kolomna and ravage outskirts of Moscow for 2 weeks:14
- c1533: Abatis defense line about 100 km south of the Oka.
1533-47:(regency for Ivan IV) some 20 large raids on the frontiers.:71
1541: Crimean Khan crosses the Oka river on rafts under covering fire from Turkish guns.:12
1555,1562,1664,1565 The Khan lead a large army into Muscovy.:16
- 1556-59: Russians and Zaporozhians raid the Black Sea coast four times.:56
1571: Russo-Crimean War (1571)
1572: Battle of Molodi
1591: Raid reaches Moscow. :116
1592: Suburbs of Moscow burned. Russian troops were away fighting Sweden.:17
1618: Nogais release 15,000 captives in peace treaty with Moscow.
1637,41-43: Several raids were led by Nogais and Crimean nobles without permission of Khan.:90
1644: 20,000 The Tatars raid southern Muscovy, 10,000 captives.:91
- c1650: The Belgorod Line pushes Russian forts 300 km south of the Abatis Line.
- c1680: Izium Line: Russian forts were built within 150 kilometers of Black Sea.
- 1687,89: Crimean campaigns: attempt to invade Crimea fails.
1691-92: Several thousand captured near the Izium Line.:183
- 1774: Crimea became a Russian vassal.
- 1783: Crimea annexed by Russia.
- Robert Nisbet Bain, Slavonic Europe: Apolitical History of Poland and Russia from 1447 to 1796, (Cambridge University Press, 1908), 124.
- Alan W. Fisher, The Crimean Tatars, (Hoover Press Publication, 1987), 45.
- Robert Nisbet Bain, Slavonic Europe: Apolitical History of Poland and Russia from 1447 to 1796, 124.
- Robert Payne and Nikita Romanoff, Ivan the Terrible, (Cooper Square Press, 2002), 329.
- Davies, Brian (2007). Warefare,State and Society on the Black Sea Steppe,1500-1700.
- Janet Martin, 'Treasure from the Land of Darkness,1986, page 201
- Stevens, Carol (2007). Russia's Wars of Emergence 1460-1730.
- Michael Khodarkovsky, 'Russia's Steppe Frontier,2002, page 22
- Sunderland, Willard (2004). Taming the Wild Field.
- Lord Kinross, 'The Ottoman Centuries', page 397
(number following a footnote is the page number)
- Vasily Klyuchevsky, The Course of Russian History, Vol. 2.
- The Full Collection of Russian Annals. The Patriarchal Annals, vol.13, Moscow. 1965