¿What would have happened if the Russian Tsardom won the Livonian War?

(Sorry but the english is not my mother lenguage)
*Parts of the Pod (like rules or something, or possibilities for the PoD what I propose)
-Russia wins over Sweden and Poland-Lithuania, and maintaining its conquest (at least a few years)
- Talk about the effects in Russia (in short, medium and long term)
-You can or can not do that there is a tumultuous time in Russia (You can make one of the sons of Ivan survive, or mantain that part of the history)


I have nothing else to put, it's just a question that my fan of the alternative history of Russia has. I want to read.
 

raharris1973

Donor
Monthly Donor
Give us a little more background as to the time period and the territories that were at stake during the war.

Also, @Marshal Braginsky, was this the PoD an early event in the "Ivangorod Prosperous" TL?
 
Give us a little more background as to the time period and the territories that were at stake during the war.

Also, @Marshal Braginsky, was this the PoD an early event in the "Ivangorod Prosperous" TL?

Of course
Historical Period: 1558-1583
Territories Disputed: Current Estonia and Latvia
 
Please define what you consider Russia winning Livonian War.

As far as territorial losses go Russia has lost only several tiny border territories: fortress Velizh to PLC and Koporye and Korela uezds to Sweden.

Politically of course it was a much more severe loss: Russia was unable to annex any parts of Livonian Order, to make naval communications with Western Europe more reliable (while Russia contrary to common misconceptions had Baltic See access both before and after Livonian War, a huge problem was Reval and Riga’s staple right as well as Livonian privateers who helped to enforce it). And of course the emergence of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a huge political defeat of Russia.


See this map for reference:

Livonia_in_1534_%28English%29.png


To repeat the initial question what do you consider Russian victory? I see 8 possible Russian goals:

1. Small border changes in favor of Russia, similar in scale to OTL Russian losses

2. Repelling the staple right of Livonian cities and enforcing freedom of naval trade

3. Vassalising or annexing large parts (including Narva and some several other major Livonian ports: Reval, Pernau or Riga) of Livonian Order to Russia

4. Vassalising or annexing the whole Livonian Order to Russia

5. Annexing some parts (e.g. Polotsk) of Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Russia

6. Annexing large parts (several voivodships) of Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Russia

7. Lack of Union of Lublin and thus emergence of PLC

8. Election of Ivan IV or his son to the throne of Lithuania and Poland some time after Sigismund Augustus death in 1572 (in place of Henri Valois or possibly Stephen Bathory). It is an OTL project and IOTL Russian candidates were surprisingly popular among Polish and Lithuanian lesser nobility despite ongoing war against Russia


3 and 4 naturally submerge 2, 4 submerges 3, 6 submerges 5 and 8 submerges 7.


Even before we talk about plausibility of goals it should be noted that if 6 or 4 realized 7 and 8 are almost impossible (7 may be possible if 4 without any additional goals, but definitely requires lack of extended war with Lithuania).


Multiple PoD are possible in various years each leading to its one outcome. In the following post I will describe the most possible one in my opinion.
 
(Sorry but the english is not my mother lenguage)
*Parts of the Pod (like rules or something, or possibilities for the PoD what I propose)
-Russia wins over Sweden and Poland-Lithuania, and maintaining its conquest (at least a few years)
- Talk about the effects in Russia (in short, medium and long term)
-You can or can not do that there is a tumultuous time in Russia (You can make one of the sons of Ivan survive, or mantain that part of the history)


I have nothing else to put, it's just a question that my fan of the alternative history of Russia has. I want to read.

Let's start dancing from something known.
300px-Livonian_war_map_%281570-1577%29.svg.png


The map above shows the greatest Russian advances up to 1577 (except for the yellow patch on the right corner). Let's be generous and add Reval (but not Riga). Ivan IV ends up with 2 Baltic ports: Narva (not shown) and Revel.

Presumably, he started building a wharf in Narva port which should indicate a desire to have a navy of his own. However, just as in the case of Peter I, having a navy is not the same as having a merchant fleet and developing the overseas trade based on your own commercial fleet and we can guess both ways but I'd bet on strictly military option even just because of (a) complete absence of naval trade experience and (b) crazy religious attitudes (travel abroad could be damaging to the soul). This option strengthens Moscow's hold of the occupied coastal area and perhaps allows to make the neighbors less adventurous but I doubt that Tsardom ends up with something comparable to Denmark's navy.

Benefits (providing Ivan is noticeably saner than in OTL) - direct outlets for the Russian exports, mostly to England and the Netherlands (at that time, IIRC, a high quality leather was item #1). Not too much in the terms of grain, at least for quite a while: Ivan made a thorough job of destroying Russian agriculture and the whole period ended with few years of a terrible famine during the reign of Godunov. Still, when the dust settles, if the area is still in the Russian hands, it means direct exports without paying custom dues to Sweden.

If Russian possession holds, this means that neither the PLC nor Sweden are there (but Sweden ends up with having Riga), which implies that a series of almost inevitable wars ended without serious territorial losses by Russian state. Which, in turn, implies that disaster of the Times of Troubles is avoided (or Tsardom managed to get this region back soon afterwards) and that Russian military system is noticeably better than in OTL. Strictly speaking, this improvement could be achieved even during Ivan's reign if, instead of the OTL craziness, he continued along the lines he started. Regular infantry with the firearms already had been created but its numbers should be increased and tactics, training, weaponry improved (within realistic framework). Regular (standing) cavalry should be developed on a basis of the existing resources with the irregulars (Tatars, etc.) playing the same role as they did during the GNW. Artillery already was strong in the terms of number of barrels but it could be brought up to the western standards by hiring foreign specialists (as was done later).

This, of course, is a highly optimistic scenario which is heavily based upon noticeably different Ivan's personality.
 
In the May of 1566 a Lithuanian embassy lead by Yurii Chodkiewicz came to Moscow offering peace terms (source: Florya, Ivan Groznyi ). This offer was pretty generous: Russia and Lithuania were to keep everything that was under their respective control in 1566 and the Swedish territory in Livonia was to be divided between Russia and Lithuania.


What did this amassed for?
Russia was to keep Polotsk and its’ environments in Lithuania (here you can see Lithuanian 1566 offer: it is territory covered in pink dots plus territory limited by green dotted line).
Liv_vayna.jpg

Polotsk itself is an extremely wealthy, important and large city (several tens of thousands inhabitants, by some estimations around 50000 people).


In Livonia Russia was to keep territory it had conquered by 1566. It is everyting to the north and east of the line Marienhausen(Viļaka)-Marienburg(Alūksne)-Walk(Valka)-Ermes(Ērģeme)-Karkus(Karksi)-Fellin(Viljandi)-Weißenstein(Paide)-Finnish Gulf cost (all the fortresses mentioned above were controlled by Russia in 1566 with the exception of Weißenstein that was controlled by Sweden).
See this map for reference (territory controlled by Russia in Livonia by 1566 is limited by fat line consisting of small dots).
729.jpg

The most important towns on this territory are Fellin, Derpt (Tartu) and Narva.


Sweden at that time controlled everything to the west of Russian controlled territory and north of some territory between Pernau(Pärnu) and Wolmar(Valmiera) (the first one was definitely controlled by Sweden, the second one – by Lithuania). Assuming Russia and Lithuania were able to defeat Sweden in Livonia, let us predict the possible split borders: Reval(Tallinn) and Finnish Gulf cost would almost certainly be annexed by Russia, Pernau(Pärnu) and territory south of it would probably be annexed by Lithuania, and Hapsal(Haapsalu) and Leal(Lihula) and the territory between them to whoever takes them first. Let us assume that Russia takes Hapsal and all the territory to the east and north of Kasari river basin, while the northernmost town controlled by Lithuania is Leal(Lihula).
Since to take Reval one needs naval support let us assume that Denmark gets Dagö (Hiiumaa) from Sweden in addition to Ösel(Saaremaa) that Denmark was able to grab IOTL.


If Russia is really lucky it may also grab Vyborg and some other minor parts of eastern Finland from Sweden.


Here is a rough estimate of possible borders:
Livonia_1566.png




What goals are satisfied by such a treaty? Goals 1, 3 and 5 are given. Goal2 is achieved because Russia gains control of Narva and the whole southern coast of Finnish Gulf including most importantly Reval (which was very effective in enforcing its staple right with the help of city-sponsored privateers).
Russia also gains substantial part of eastern Livonia that contains some quality lands for noble estates (pomestye system).

Goal 7 is not given but seems plausible (although I would really like to hear Polish or Lithuanian board members).
IOTL Union of Lublin happened while Lithuania was losing war against Russia and was actively pillaged by Russian raiders. In 1569 it seemed like Russia would be able to take most of Livonia (at least on the right bank of Daugava) as well as substantial portion of Lithania proper. In such dire situation Lithuanians were forced to de-facto submit to Polish conditions which were very severe: annexing of entire southern half of Grand Duchy by Poland and great inequality in the common sejm (3:1 in favor of Poland IIRC). With the proposed PoD Lithuania while looses certain territories around Polotsk to Russia, also gains more than a half of Livonia including most crucially Riga and entire lower Daugava valley. It is a mixed bag but by no means a catastrophe. More importantly Lithuania doesn’t need Polish forces: peace is already signed.
I think in such a situation Union of Lublin is unlikely: Lithuania has a lot less incentive to submit to Polish demands and Poland would probably reject a union on much more equal conditions (even IOTL the negotiations were very tricky and were several times under threat of termination because of Polish headstrong position).

I’d like to hear the opinion of Polish or Lithuanian board member on this, but even simply more even status of Poland and Lithuania in the Commonwealth (which I repeat I find unlikely) seems very much in favor of Russia (because a large portion of Lithuanian nobility were Russian speaking and Orthodox and with greater role of Lithuania they would have a much more secure position).



What prevented Russia from accepting Lithuanian offer in OTL? IOTL it was considered with all possible scrutiny. Members of all 3 estates were called for Zemsky Sobor meeting to help Tsar deciding whether Lithuanian offer should be accepted. The estates declared that no offer that does not include Riga (possibly in exchange for Polotsk) should be taken and not controlling Riga was unacceptable to Lithuanians.
Now Zemsky Sobor gathering was probably a political move by Ivan IV to renew determination of his subjects to continue the war with Lithuania. However one may easily assume that had Russian internal situation been less secure or had the threat by Crimean Khanate or Ottoman Empire been greater, both tsar and estates would be a lot less sure in its ability to get much more favorable terms than offered by Lithuanians.


So let us list 3 possible PoDs:

1. IOTL Vladimir Staritsky’s demesne of Staritsa was exchanged in March of 1566 for several towns without much countryside in other parts of realm in order to severe Vladimir’s relationship with his local vassals and clients. IOTL this political scheme went rather smoothly but Vladimir Staritsky was not happy.
So the first PoD is that he refuses to accept such proposition from Ivan and rebels along with sever other dissatisfied magnates. While any such rebellion would probably be defeated, it would make internal situation in Moscow much less secure and could push Ivan to accept rather generous Lithuanian terms.

2. IOTL Devlet Geray’s raid in the autumn of 1565 was a miserable failure. He was unable to attract a lot of horsemen to attack Russian territory and when threatened by Russian forces quickly went back to Crimea without taking even one town. The contrast with his raid of 1564 when he was able to attract several tens of thousands horsemen and thoroughly pillaged environments of Ryazan.
So the second PoD is that Devlet Geray’s raid of 1565 is much more numerous and much more successful than IOTL. Unlike IOTL where after failed raid everybody assumed that Tartar threat has subsided for the time being, ITTL Russian southern territories are successfully raided by massive Crimean forces in 1562, 1563, 1564 and 1565. Thus Tsar and Sobor may be more willing to accept Lithuanian terms.

3. IOTL Selim II of Ottoman Empire had declared war on Russia in 1568. While I am not sure when IOTL he and the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Paşa began planning it and when Ivan IV became aware of such plans, I think it is possible that both happened by summer of 1567 (if it was not the case IOTL, this could happen ITTL).
So PoD is stalling Chodkiewicz’s embassy until summer of 1567. If Ivan IV is already aware of Ottoman plans accepting Lithuanian terms is a no-brainer.
 
Last edited:
Let's start dancing from something known.


The map above shows the greatest Russian advances up to 1577 (except for the yellow patch on the right corner). Let's be generous and add Reval (but not Riga). Ivan IV ends up with 2 Baltic ports: Narva (not shown) and Revel.
I would argue that although 1577 was the highest point of Russian advances in terms of territorial extent, it is by far too late PoD to make Livonian war a win. In my opinion after Poland decided to actively support Lithuania, especially after Stephen Bathory was elected to be king of PLC the best Russia can realistically hope for is status quo ante bellum.


The second possible idea of Russia’s “win” in Livonian war I was going to propose amasses to exactly that: by some unspecified reason interregnum in PLC is continuing for much longer period than IOTL.
One of the possible reasons for that can be Emperor Maximilian II living and thus Poland descends into civil war. Russia presumably can make larger gains than IOTL in Livonia and eastern Lithuania.


There is one major problem with this scenario however.


I don’t think that Civil War in Poland can go for an extended period of time. And whoever wins (be it Maximilian II, Stephen Bathory or someone else) would in no time go to Russian front and try to reverse all Russian gain
Also while Stephen Bathory’s leadership was excellent, I don’t think Russia having to fight both PLC and HRE can be in any way better.
And even if by some weird reason PLC throne goes to someone incompetent I don’t think that PLC counteroffensive can be prevented. While it could be less successful than IOTL I don’t think Russia would be able to hold anything except for possibly Narva and Derpt.

Now if Civil War in PLC goes for years, while Russia has free hand in the East this could lead to something serious. But I personally think that such a scenario is a definite ASB

This, of course, is a highly optimistic scenario which is heavily based upon noticeably different Ivan's personality.
Well I don't really think that Russian performance was affected much by Ivan's personality. The internal situation and thus the consequences of it certainly were, but the war itself not so much.


The main problem was that simply Polish military organization was superior to that of Russia. Until Russia fights Lithuania and Livonian Order it can experience some successes. But as soon as Polish forces enter the war, most Russian gains would be reversed no matter what.

And had Russia had any other monarch this fact would remain unchanged.

So in my opinion the best Russian bet is either making peace with Lithuania before PLC Commonwealth is formed (and thus before Polish forces enter the war) or some ASB-like scenario of interregnum and civil war in PLC as described above.
 
As long as Livonia is under Moscow's control PLC and Sweden cooperate, like they did IOTL in late 16th century.
If Russia controls the whole Livonia? I agree totally.
However if Lithuania controls Riga and Lower Daugava I think such and alliance is not predefined.


What do you think happens to Union of Lublin if Russia accepts Lithuanian peace offer in 1566 as described in my post above yours? Crucially Lithuania controls Riga and Lower Daugava so one cannot say that Lithuania actually lost.


I think that it can be butterflied away. Lithuania would not agree to unequal terms while at peace and Polish nobles would not consider equal terms. But I would really like to hear your opinion on the subject.
 
If Russia controls the whole Livonia? I agree totally.
However if Lithuania controls Riga and Lower Daugava I think such and alliance is not predefined.


What do you think happens to Union of Lublin if Russia accepts Lithuanian peace offer in 1566 as described in my post above yours? Crucially Lithuania controls Riga and Lower Daugava so one cannot say that Lithuania actually lost.


I think that it can be butterflied away. Lithuania would not agree to unequal terms while at peace and Polish nobles would not consider equal terms. But I would really like to hear your opinion on the subject.
Even if Lithuania has Riga, Sweden needs to conquer northern part of Livonia first to get there. If it happens, then there is no Russian Livonia and history returns to OTL situation.

Lithuanians not being endangdred by Moscow so much could negotiate better terms and would rather not lost Ukraine.
 
I would argue that although 1577 was the highest point of Russian advances in terms of territorial extent, it is by far too late PoD to make Livonian war a win. In my opinion after Poland decided to actively support Lithuania, especially after Stephen Bathory was elected to be king of PLC the best Russia can realistically hope for is status quo ante bellum.

Well, the precise timing is not too important for what I'm saying because the question is about consequences of the Livonian War in which Tsardom is winning, not an explanation of why it could not win in OTL. The premise is that Tsardom is winning and holding a territory for a considerable amount of time and the question is about consequences of this happening. Winning implies territorial acquisitions not retaining a status quo.

The relevant part could be the ways by which such a victory could be achieved without involving the ASB's, aviation, tanks, machine guns and even the bayonets.

As a side note, creation of the PLC did not automatically guarantee the active Polish involvement into the Lithuanian affairs (and strictly speaking Livonia was not a part of Lithuania) as had been demonstrated by the wars of the early XVII when Poland did not provide any noticeable help to Lithuania thus allowing Swedes to grab the Baltic provinces. This did not require any CW in Poland, just a general unwillingness to spend money on something that did not involve immediate interests of the Polish nobility.



Well I don't really think that Russian performance was affected much by Ivan's personality. The internal situation and thus the consequences of it certainly were, but the war itself not so much.

The main problem was that simply Polish military organization was superior to that of Russia.

Ivan's "personality" impacted practically everything including the Russian military affairs. Among other things, instead of the further development of his regular infantry which was created earlier in his reign he put a stress on the "Asiatic warfare" conducted by the irregular troops: looting the countryside and unrestricted torchuring and murdering of a local population was a reflection of his "personality" and repetition of what he did on his own territory (for example, during the sack of Novgorod which was conducted mostly by Oprochniks and Tatars on the Russian service).

While I'm not sure that any of his generals would qualify as a military genius, some of them had been experienced and reasonably competent and their executions (or desertions) clearly had a negative impact.

Then, if he was not doing such a great work destroying economy of his own country, there would be money for hiring the Westerners both individually and by the contingents. If a meaningful territorial arrangement with Sweden is achieved, then Swedes would do just fine (as was the case during the Time of Troubles).

Now, as far as Polish military system of the time was involved, the famous Polish hussars became heavy cavalry only in mid-XVI and only Stephan Bathory made them a regular heavy cavalry and their numbers had been quite limited (at their peak in the XVII century, 8280). As far as the infantry and artillery were involved, Bathory heavily relied upon the mercenaries (mostly from Hungary, IIRC). Overall quality of the Polish cavalry was higher (and this applies to all neighbors) and, at least the heavy troops had much better horses (small horses were a problem that plagued Russian army all the way to the early XVIII century).

As far as the infantry was involved, its creation was started by Bathory in 1578. It seems that by equipment it was an exact copy of the streltsy but the fact that it was formed from the peasants who kept working on the land in a peace time would make it inferior (both in the terms of mobilization and training) to the streltsy who permanently lived in the cities and carried their duties around the year. Anyway, at the time of Bathory the numbers of that infantry were less than 2,000.

Artillery was seemingly heavily relying upon the foreign specialists and besieging operations even more so. Much later during Wladislav's campaign to capture Moscow a critical part of the plan (mining the gates) depended upon two French engineers (who fled to the Russian side, probably because they were not paid).

"Organization" itself was not too good because the standing army was quite small and the rest depended upon Sejm's willingness to gave money for a specific war or even campaign.

With Polish cavalry being a decisive factor of the field victories all the way to the 1620's it is reasonable to assume that the realistic reforms would not give Muscovite army enough of an edge but it is equally reasonable to assume that if this army develops a decent infantry, artillery and besieging skills (with the Western help if needed), then it can pull the "Swedish model": losses in the field are offset by the successful sieges and Polish inability to take the well-fortified places (Bathory failed at Pskov and later it took Sigismund a year to take Smolensk by exhausion; Riga and other Livonian cities, once taken by the Swedes, could not be re-taken back by the Poles). Could the Muscovites get the needed skills without the ASBs? Well, they managed to take Narva and Dorpat and earlier operations against Kazan were quite complicated and eventually successful. With few foreign engineers on a payroll they could get the needed knowledge.
 
(Sorry but the english is not my mother lenguage)
*Parts of the Pod (like rules or something, or possibilities for the PoD what I propose)
-Russia wins over Sweden and Poland-Lithuania, and maintaining its conquest (at least a few years)
- Talk about the effects in Russia (in short, medium and long term)
-You can or can not do that there is a tumultuous time in Russia (You can make one of the sons of Ivan survive, or mantain that part of the history)


I have nothing else to put, it's just a question that my fan of the alternative history of Russia has. I want to read.

It depends on how the war goes differently. The war in my timeline sees the battle of the Ula go in Russia's favor and from there more Russia success. Ivan maintains a marriage alliance with Sweden, as Eric XIV of Sweden does not go insane, and get replaced by his brother John. The end result is Prince Kurbsky does not defect, and Russia takes Livonia below Swedish Estonia up to the Daguva river, save the city of Riga along with the voivodeships of Mstsislaw, Vitebsk, and Polotsk. Also, this war is won much quicker with peace concluded in 1567.

How what the effects depend on what you do with Livonian related to the Russia of Ivan the Terrible. I've used a quicker victory with no defection of Prince Kurbsky, as well as a continuing marriage with his second wife Maria Temyrukovna, by having their son Vasily survive, to try and at least curb Ivan's later actions. So no Oprichnina or sack of Novgorod in this time. Also, I'm planning on having Ivan Ivanovich and Virginia Erikdotter have children, so at least the tragedy of Ivan killing his eldest son and the Time of Troubles, but this is mind you something I going off of a very fast and lose rule regarding butterflies from the main POD of my TL in 1560's Japan. Others are going take different approaches with their hows and whens are far as POD's go.
 
Well, the precise timing is not too important for what I'm saying because the question is about consequences of the Livonian War in which Tsardom is winning, not an explanation of why it could not win in OTL. The premise is that Tsardom is winning and holding a territory for a considerable amount of time and the question is about consequences of this happening. Winning implies territorial acquisitions not retaining a status quo.

The relevant part could be the ways by which such a victory could be achieved without involving the ASB's, aviation, tanks, machine guns and even the bayonets.
Fair enough, although in my opinion talking about consequences doesn't have much sense if there is no understanding of what conditions have these consequences. And to understand which conditions are achievable without the help of ASB one should have a plausible way of getting there and thus a realistic PoD. Otherwise we have empty dreams similar to "What if Russia didn't have winter"

To be a lot closer to the subject at hand, I think the OP’s question requires first answering several questions. Does Russia control Reval? Does it control Riga? Does it have to deal with PLC or just Lithuania? Different answers lead to greatly different consequences

I tried to answer this questions to the best of my ability in my post with maps: in ideal for Russia scenario it could control Reval; there is no chance in hell that Russia would be able to retain Riga though; PLC can potentially be avoided, but it requires some very good diplomacy and no small amount of luck.

As a side note, creation of the PLC did not automatically guarantee the active Polish involvement into the Lithuanian affairs (and strictly speaking Livonia was not a part of Lithuania) as had been demonstrated by the wars of the early XVII when Poland did not provide any noticeable help to Lithuania thus allowing Swedes to grab the Baltic provinces. This did not require any CW in Poland, just a general unwillingness to spend money on something that did not involve immediate interests of the Polish nobility.
It is true that Poland didn't commit a lot of forces to preserving Baltic provinces

However until Gustavus Adolphus reformed his army even the limited forces Poland was ready to spare were enough to inflict several humiliating losses on Swedes e. g. battles of Kokenhausen, Kircholm or Klushino for that matter (where Swedish component was significant).

I don’t think situation would be in any way worse for PLC had Russia challenged their ownership of Livonia instead of Sweden
Ivan's "personality" impacted practically everything including the Russian military affairs. Among other things, instead of the further development of his regular infantry which was created earlier in his reign he put a stress on the "Asiatic warfare" conducted by the irregular troops: looting the countryside and unrestricted torchuring and murdering of a local population was a reflection of his "personality" and repetition of what he did on his own territory (for example, during the sack of Novgorod which was conducted mostly by Oprochniks and Tatars on the Russian service).

While I'm not sure that any of his generals would qualify as a military genius, some of them had been experienced and reasonably competent and their executions (or desertions) clearly had a negative impact.

Then, if he was not doing such a great work destroying economy of his own country, there would be money for hiring the Westerners both individually and by the contingents. If a meaningful territorial arrangement with Sweden is achieved, then Swedes would do just fine (as was the case during the Time of Troubles).
While my personal assessment of Ivan IV is far from positive it is not nearly as grim as it seems yours is. But let us not devolve into Groznosrach (judging by your posts I assume you do speak Russian and I shouldn't explain the term)
Now, as far as Polish military system of the time was involved, the famous Polish hussars became heavy cavalry only in mid-XVI and only Stephan Bathory made them a regular heavy cavalry and their numbers had been quite limited (at their peak in the XVII century, 8280).
As far as I am aware the process of regularization of Polish heavy cavalry began as early as Thirteen Years War, when Casimir tried to model his cavalry on French compagnie d'ordonnance. By mid XVI century Polish Hussars already been by far strongest heavy cavalry at least in Eastern Europe. While Stephen Bathory did a lot to improve them further even without him they were deadly.
With Polish cavalry being a decisive factor of the field victories all the way to the 1620's it is reasonable to assume that the realistic reforms would not give Muscovite army enough of an edge but it is equally reasonable to assume that if this army develops a decent infantry, artillery and besieging skills (with the Western help if needed), then it can pull the "Swedish model": losses in the field are offset by the successful sieges and Polish inability to take the well-fortified places (Bathory failed at Pskov and later it took Sigismund a year to take Smolensk by exhausion; Riga and other Livonian cities, once taken by the Swedes, could not be re-taken back by the Poles). Could the Muscovites get the needed skills without the ASBs? Well, they managed to take Narva and Dorpat and earlier operations against Kazan were quite complicated and eventually successful. With few foreign engineers on a payroll they could get the needed knowledge.
Well here our assessment of the situation differs once more.


I believe that until Gustavus Adolphus committed his reforms Swedes were losing war in Livonia despite the fact that it was very much a secondary front for PLC (and there were very limited Polish forces taking part in Eastern affairs on all fronts). In fact Swedes have lost Pernau to PLC in the war of 1600-1611 despite once again it being a front of low importance to PLC.
Now Gustavus Adolphus undoubtedly was a military genius and one can only assume what could have been had he less military talent. I for one firmly believe Riga and most of Livonia would remain under PLC heel for many more years.

We are not talking about Sweeden, however, we are talking about Russia. And Russian army definitely wasn’t better than pre Gustavus Adolphus Swedish army. Furthermore Russia controlling Baltics would not be a secondary target for Lithuania at least (so all forces that Poland can spare for the east would be fighting Russia).

So in my opinion in order to hold territories that PLC wants to take with enough willpower to commit several thousand Polish Hussars, Russia needs a military reform under military genius of Gustavus Adolphus caliber. Since I don’t believe appearance of such military genius is plausible, that means that Russia mustn’t take anything PLC wants too badly.


And this means Russia mustn’t take Riga, lower Daugava or too much territory in eastern in eastern GDL (basically taking just Polotsk is OK, taking Polotsk, Vitebsk and Orsha is unholdable).
I have provided a scenario for doing just that which you are welcome to criticize
 
Last edited:
Fair enough, although in my opinion talking about consequences doesn't have much sense if there is no understanding of what conditions have these consequences. And to understand which conditions are achievable without the help of ASB one should have a plausible way of getting there and thus a realistic PoD. Otherwise we have empty dreams similar to "What if Russia didn't have winter"

I thought that I outlined these conditions in some details but here is the synopsis: (a) more sane government and (b) continuation of the military reforms started earlier. IMO it is unrealistic to built a sustainable model exclusively on expectation of the neighbors' continued weakness (dynastic quarrels, etc.).

To be a lot closer to the subject at hand, I think the OP’s question requires first answering several questions. Does Russia control Reval? Does it control Riga? Does it have to deal with PLC or just Lithuania? Different answers lead to greatly different consequences

I was quite clear: Russia controls Revel, Narva and Dorpat but not Riga. It eventually deals with the PLC and I explained how the winning model could look like without a direct involvement of the ASBs.


It is true that Poland didn't commit a lot of forces to preserving Baltic provinces.

And, strictly speaking, Poland did not excessively cared about Riga because it was a main port of the Lithuanian grain exports: Polish goods had been exported through Danzig.

However until Gustavus Adolphus reformed his army even the limited forces Poland was ready to spare were enough to inflict several humiliating losses on Swedes e. g. battles of Kokenhausen, Kircholm or Klushino for that matter (where Swedish component was significant).

It seems that I was wasting my time trying to explain situation. The Poles had been regularly defeating GA in the field even after he conducted his reforms. But these field victories ended up amounting to very little due to 2 main reasons: 1st, Sejm was extremely reluctant to finance the war and 2nd, the PLC army was very good in the field but was not equipped for taking the fortified places. As a result, Swedes had been securely staying in the Livonian towns, And because Lithuanian nobility needed money (who did not) the grain exports had been going on with Swedes getting the custom dues.

I don’t think situation would be in any way worse for PLC had Russia challenged their ownership of Livonia instead of Sweden

Sorry but you are confusing sequence of the events. Livonia was invaded by Ivan's armies in January of 1588 well before Lithuania got into the picture (Treaty of Vilno - August 1589 signed only by Lithuania). So it would be Poles (and before then Danes and Swedes) trying to get it from Russia, not other way around.


As far as I am aware the process of regularization of Polish heavy cavalry began as early as Thirteen Years War, when Casimir tried to model his cavalry on French compagnie d'ordonnance. By mid XVI century Polish Hussars already been by far strongest heavy cavalry at least in Eastern Europe. While Stephen Bathory did a lot to improve them further even without him they were deadly.

Yes, they were but they were not too numerous and they's have serious problems if tried to ride up the city walls on a horseback. In other words, absolutely useless in the siege-heavy warfare which they would be facing if this AH.

Now Gustavus Adolphus undoubtedly was a military genius and one can only assume what could have been had he less military talent. I forone firmly believe Riga and most of Livonia would remain under PLC heel for many more years.

Pretty much the same: his encounters with the Polish cavalry tended to end up badly for him but the Poles could not take back the fortresses they had been losing and they could not pay their troops regularly. Actually, the obvious problem with GA in the Polish Wars were his repeated attempts to solve the issue by a cavalry attack and as soon as his cavalry was separated from the infantry it was defeated. He actually kept doing the same thing during the 30YW.

We are not talking about Sweeden, however, we are talking about Russia. And Russian army definitely wasn’t better than pre Gustavus Adolphus Swedish army.

It was not: Ivan was fighting in Livonia heavily relying on Tatars and feudal militia. What I was talking about is him paying more attention to strengthening his regular infantry, improving artillery (it was numerous but there was no uniformity of the calibers and personnel was not well trained) and getting some Western fortification specialists. Even if these troops end up not as well drilled as the Swedes at their best (under GA) their main task would be to hold the fortified places waiting when the Poles are going to run out of money.

Furthermore Russia controlling Baltics would not be a secondary target for Lithuania at least (so all forces that Poland can spare for the east would be fighting Russia).

Did not quite happen when Livonia had been held by the Swedes so let's not overestimate Polish enthusiasm.

So in my opinion in order to hold territories that PLC wants to take with enough willpower to commit several thousand Polish Hussars,

Sorry, but this statement indicates a lot of enthusiasm but a serious absence of understanding: the hussars could not take the territory with the numerous fortified places. Period. They are a cavalry and for taking the fortresses you need infantry, artillery and preferably qualified engineers. Even against the field fortifications like wagenburgs or "gulay-gorod" they could do little.

Then goes "several thousand": maximum number of hussars in the PLC had been achieved in 1621: 8280. So not too many thousands had been available.

Russia needs a military reform under military genius of Gustavus Adolphus caliber. Since I don’t believe appearance of such military genius is plausible, that means that Russia mustn’t take anything PLC wants too badly.

No, there would be no need in a genius of any kind, just a continued work in a direction that already started but was abandoned and replaced with the Asiatic warfare. Numerous steady well armed infantry accompanied by a numerous regular and irregular cavalry and the Poles would be crushed even in the field as happened in 1652 at Batog: the Cossacks were not drilled up to the Swedish standards, most of the cavalry had been Tatars (who forced Polish cavalry to retreat to the camp) and I'm quite reluctant to qualify Khmelnitsky as a military genius.
 
I thought that I outlined these conditions in some details but here is the synopsis: (a) more sane government and (b) continuation of the military reforms started earlier. IMO it is unrealistic to built a sustainable model exclusively on expectation of the neighbors' continued weakness (dynastic quarrels, etc.).
The problem is this is basically consequences, not or something that direcrly follows it. If your PoD is Ivan IV having another character, childhood, whatever else it also requires a lot of earlier changes potentially butterflying away Livonian War as a whole if not the whole foreign policy. Moreover you started with showing 1577 map which presumably offers PoD around that year, and I argued that this is far too late for a win of any kind. The best Russia can hope with PoD that late is a draw
It seems that I was wasting my time trying to explain situation. The Poles had been regularly defeating GA in the field even after he conducted his reforms. But these field victories ended up amounting to very little due to 2 main reasons: 1st, Sejm was extremely reluctant to finance the war and 2nd, the PLC army was very good in the field but was not equipped for taking the fortified places. As a result, Swedes had been securely staying in the Livonian towns, And because Lithuanian nobility needed money (who did not) the grain exports had been going on with Swedes getting the custom dues.
Not really, no. After he conducted his reforms Swedish army no longer suffered catastrophic defeats like it did prior to them. Battle of Mittau in 1622 was a draw, battle of Wallhof in 1626 a Swedish victory, a battle of Gniew in 1626 - a draw again. So my initial premise holds. Swedish army was better at sieges both before and after Gustavus Adolphus reforms, but before them all open battles involving enough hussars were Polish victories or crusing Polish victories and after them Swedish troops were able to hold their ground.


Also I would kindly ask you to lower your tone a bit. I can read, I know some stuff about the period at hand and I think I did nothing to insult you or provoke such a reaction (if I did, I please excuse me)

Sorry but you are confusing sequence of the events. Livonia was invaded by Ivan's armies in January of 1588 well before Lithuania got into the picture (Treaty of Vilno - August 1589 signed only by Lithuania). So it would be Poles (and before then Danes and Swedes) trying to get it from Russia, not other way around.
I am assuming the dates you mean are 1558 and 1559.
Again please allow me to contradict you. Treaty of Pozvol which put Livonian Confederation under protection by Sigismund Augustus was signed in September 1557. In fact it was casus belli that Russia used to start Livonian War

However when I spoke about PLC challenging hypothetical Russian domination over Livonia I meant the scenario where Russia takes most Livonia ( or at least all Livonia on right bank of Daugava )while PLC is busy fighting Civil War.
I argued that had Russia been able to take more than it did IOTL in 1577 (or alternatively for longer) it would not end up great for Russia in pretty much the same way as fighting in Livonia in 1600-1611 didn’t end up great for Sweden. Sweden IOTL was defeated and lost Pernau, Russia, even it manages to hold Livonia for longer time than it did IOTL, would be defeated and would lose conquests in Livonia as soon as PLC has time to divert attention to the east.

Moreover the Russian situation would be much more severe than Swedish IOTL because the whole forces PLC would be willing to spend on the eastern affairs would be spent on Russia. Also Russian army is definitely not superior to Swedish even before Gustavus Adolphus.


If Russia tries to hold for any part of Daugava’s banks lower than Drysa confluences with Daugava (as is the case with OTL 1577 year situation you have provided) Lithuanian export becomes endangered and every Lithuanian magnate would be willing to contribute resources to remedy this situation. Russia would not be able to hold conquests in such a situation
Yes, they were but they were not too numerous and they's have serious problems if tried to ride up the city walls on a horseback. In other words, absolutely useless in the siege-heavy warfare which they would be facing if this AH.

If you get defeated in every field battle you cannot really win such war as long as enemy remains determined to fight you. Your fortresses are kept blockaded until they starve out and surrender.

This is precisely what happened with Swedish conquests in the war of 1600-1611 as well a Pernau, that was Swedish before the war. It was also exactly what happened with Smolensk and many other Russian towns during Time of Troubles as you are well aware

Pretty much the same: his encounters with the Polish cavalry tended to end up badly for him but the Poles could not take back the fortresses they had been losing and they could not pay their troops regularly. Actually, the obvious problem with GA in the Polish Wars were his repeated attempts to solve the issue by a cavalry attack and as soon as his cavalry was separated from the infantry it was defeated. He actually kept doing the same thing during the 30YW.
It did not. I have provided evidence earlier in my post. Before GA reforms there was a constant line catastrophic defeats in field and Sweden was loosing wars to PLC. After them the Swedish army could hold thier ground in field and were much better at sieges so Swedes were able to actually win wars

It was not: Ivan was fighting in Livonia heavily relying on Tatars and feudal militia. What I was talking about is him paying more attention to strengthening his regular infantry, improving artillery (it was numerous but there was no uniformity of the calibers and personnel was not well trained) and getting some Western fortification specialists. Even if these troops end up not as well drilled as the Swedes at their best (under GA) their main task would be to hold the fortified places waiting when the Poles are going to run out of money.
While one can find Ivan’s fault in many areas I don’t think not trying to develop regular infantry and artillery is one of such areas. It was precisely during his reign when Russia got decent artillery train and organized infantry that resembled proper pike and shot one: streltsy.

But the thing was that gunpowder based army was a lot more expansive than feudal militia. So while Ivan spent a quite a bit money on modern gunpowder troops, he also used feudal militia, Tatars and whatever else was at his disposal for cheap money.
I think attributing to Ivan's inherent cruelty or psychological problems the usage of cheap feudal troops, that already were organized by Ivan’s predecessors and didn’t cost Ivan a significant amount of real money, is going way, way too far
Did not quite happen when Livonia had been held by the Swedes so let's not overestimate Polish enthusiasm.
Again, when Sweden began controlling the part of Livonia that mattered to PLC - Riga and Daugava valley PLC did commit large enough forces. Before GA reforms 15000 troops that participated in battle of Gniew for instance were enough to destroy any Swedish field army. GA reforms however made such effort insufficient an PLC had lost Riga
Then goes "several thousand": maximum number of hussars in the PLC had been achieved in 1621: 8280. So not too many thousands had been available.
I am well aware. However 1000 Hussars won battle of Kokenhausen, 2000 Hussars won battle of Kircholm and 5000 Hussars led to massacre of Klushino. So several thousand hussars is both possible and decisive.

No, there would be no need in a genius of any kind, just a continued work in a direction that already started but was abandoned and replaced with the Asiatic warfare. Numerous steady well armed infantry accompanied by a numerous regular and irregular cavalry and the Poles would be crushed even in the field as happened in 1652 at Batog: the Cossacks were not drilled up to the Swedish standards, most of the cavalry had been Tatars (who forced Polish cavalry to retreat to the camp) and I'm quite reluctant to qualify Khmelnitsky as a military genius.
It happened almost a century later than Livonian War. Both tactics and weapons had evolved greatly by then. That hussar were not unbeatable in 1650s doesn’t mean that they were able to be beaten half a century before.
 
Last edited:
The problem is this is basically consequences, not or something that direcrly follows it. If your PoD is Ivan IV having another character, childhood, whatever else it also requires a lot of earlier changes potentially butterflying away Livonian War as a whole if not the whole foreign policy. Moreover you started with showing 1577 map which presumably offers PoD around that year, and I argued that this is far too late for a win of any kind. The best Russia can hope with PoD that late is a draw

I said nothing about Ivan's childhood but for successful implementation of the Livonian War (as in the title) you definitely need a different personality because Ivan of the OTL simply could not fulfill the requirement: "Russia wins over Sweden and Poland-Lithuania, and maintaining its conquest (at least a few years)". The OTL Tsardom would not fit the bill which means that there should be serious changes prior to the Livonian War.

Sorry for the confusion: map of 1577 was used just because it is showing the maximum extent of the Russian expansion. I did not stress any specific date. However, in OTL the Tsardom was still on the offensive in Livonia and Finland (against the Swedes) in 1573 - 1575. "Ivan's campaign reached its height in 1576 when another 30,000 Russian soldiers crossed into Livonia in 1577 and devastated Danish areas in retaliation for the Danish acquisition of Hapsal, Leal and Lode... The conquered territories submitted to Ivan or his vassal, Magnus, declared monarch of the Kingdom of Livonia in 1570." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livonian_War#Danish_and_Swedish_interventions) Of course, soon enough Magnus defected but this besides the point.

Approximately at that time (at least after 1572) Ivan switched to "a new strategy whereby he relied on tens of thousands of native troops, Cossacks and Tatars instead of a few thousand skilled troops and mercenaries, as was the practice of his adversaries". Which means that reliance upon the existing modern troops (and their further development) was abandoned in a favor of the old Asiatic-style warfare.

I have no idea what amounts to a "draw" for you so please be more specific.

Not really, no. After he conducted his reforms Swedish army no longer suffered catastrophic defeats like it did prior to them. Battle of Mittau in 1622 was a draw, battle of Wallhof in 1626 a Swedish victory, a battle of Gniew in 1626 - a draw again.

So what? Khmelnitsky was routinely defeating the Poles without any military reforms and without being a military genius. At Gniew combination of the field fortifications and steady infantry and artillery played an important role in stopping the Poles.

Regular infantry with the firearms had been created early in Ivan's reign and it routinely used the prefabricated movable field fortifications and had strong artillery. The problem was in inadequate training of both. Practically anybody with the ideas less bizarre than Ivan's (who started stressing the Tatar troops) would continue in this direction, especially taking into an account that there already was plenty of experience and expertise all around starting from the Janissary and all the way to the Western warfare.

BTW, GA's reforms were not a pure inspiration of a genius: the successful model was already functional and he learned a lot from the Dutch, specifically Maurice of Nassau. As for the "genius" part, he was over-advertised by the Protestant writers but, while Montgomery put him on a list of the great commanders he considered Wallenstein to be a greater strategist.

OTOH, closer to the time in question, in 1612 Chodkiewicz (unquestionably a great general) failed to break through to relieve the Polish troops besieged in Moscow: after a battle that lasted over 14 hours he was forced to retreat. The opponent were not Swedes but Russian "opolchenie" with the infantry consisting of the streltsy and dismounted cavalry. Cavalry - mostly the Cossacks and feudal militia. Neither was he spectacularly successful during Wladislav's Moscow campaign: using system of the field fortifications Russian troops (with the arriving reinforcements, up to 16,000 including strong German infantry) had been holding position near Mozaisk for more than a month against a bigger Polish force (18,000) and safely retreated (Mozaisk itself was not taken by the Poles who besieged it for an extra month). Neither was he successful in an attempt to take Moscow in 1618 even after the Polish army had been reinforced by the Zaporozian Cossacks (Russian troops: 11,500 including 5,500 irregulars; Poles - 8,000, Cossacks - up to 18,000). As you can see, even with what was available after the Time of Troubles and without any military genius on their side (just few adequate commanders), Russians managed to avoid the catastrophic results by sticking to their strong points: defense of the long-term and field fortifications. Of course, this did not always work (see "Smolensk War").

Now, as far as pre-Gustavian Swedes are involved, during the Time of Troubles Skopin-Shuisky had under his command 12,000 of the Swedish soldiers and managed to capture Oreshek, Tver and Torzhok and cleared the north of the country from the enemies after which defeated Hetman Piotrus Sapieha at Kalyazin (assessments: Poles between 10 and 20,000, Russian troops: between 11 and 18,000 including 1,000 Swedes). The same winning pattern: defense of the field fortifications followed by a successful counter-attack.

in a battle of Torzok in June 1609 the Polish-Cossack army of 6,000 (including at least 1,000 hussars) had been defeated by the Russian-Swedish army of 5,000: while being initially successful against opponent's cavalry Polish armored cavalry was repulsed by the Swedish pikemen and then successfully counter-attacked by Russian-Swedish cavalry.

I would not make too much of the over-advertised Battle of Klushino because enthusiasts of the winged hussars tend to forget the background. After very popular and successful Skopin-Shuisky had been poisoned (presumably by the order of Tsar Vasili) and replaced by the talentless and very unpopular Dmitry Shuisky (who was suspected in doing the poisoning) the troops did not want to fight for Vasili (it is Time of Troubles with "loyalty to the regime" being something of a joke and Vasili never was popular to start with) and started fleeing at the 1st opportunity. After which De la Gardie found his troops isolated and made a deal with Żółkiewski. The only really interesting thing in the whole affair was that Russian infantry already had pikemen besides soldiers with the firearms.


I am assuming the dates you mean are 1558 and 1559.
Again please allow me to contradict you. Treaty of Pozvol which put Livonian Confederation under protection by Sigismund Augustus was signed in September 1557. In fact it was casus belli that Russia used to start Livonian War

Thanks for the correction. However, "protection" did not mean "ownership". As for the chronology, Ivan invaded in 1558. Denmark signed a protection treaty with Johann von Münchhausen, Bishop of Ösel–Wiek, in 1559 ( Duke Magnus of Holstein took possession of the bishopric in 1560). Swedes arrived and formed Duchy of Estonia in 1561 (conflict with the Danes over "Danish Estonia" and with Sigismund over Riga - 1562). Russo-Lithuanian truce expired in 1562, Ivan IV rejected Sigismund's offer of an extension, attacked Lithuania and took Polotsk (Belorussia, not Livonia) in 1563. The first Lithuanian victories at the Battle of Ula in 1564[40] and at Czasniki (Chashniki) in 1567 happened in the Vitebsk region (again, Belorussia). Union of Grodno (1566) tied Livonia to Lithuania. In the same year Lithuania offered alliance against Sweden with a proposal to split Livonia which was rejected by Ivan and only Union of Lublin (1569) put the Duchy of Livonia under the joint Polish-Lithuania protection. In other words, Ivan did not have to reconquer Livonia from Lithuania when he invaded.

However when I spoke about PLC challenging hypothetical Russian domination over Livonia I meant the scenario where Russia takes most Livonia ( or at least all Livonia on right bank of Daugava )while PLC is busy fighting Civil War.

Tsardom of Mosow took possession of a big part of Livonia in OTL before the PLC was created. The problem was with holding these lands. As I said, if scenario assumes an prolonged possession of a territory it can't heavily rely on something like the civil war in the PLC: when it is over, Ivan is in the deep s--t if everything else is the same as in OTL.


I argued that had Russia been able to take more than it did IOTL in 1577 (or alternatively for longer) it would not end up great for Russia in pretty much the same way as fighting in Livonia in 1600-1611 didn’t end up great for Sweden. Sweden IOTL was defeated and lost Pernau, Russia, even it manages to hold Livonia for longer time than it did IOTL, would be defeated and would lose conquests in Livonia as soon as PLC has time to divert attention to the east.

Well, in OTL Muscovite state (which was not called "Russia") had been defeated and soon afterwards passed through a prolonged period of internal turmoil known as Time of Troubles so there is no need to keep stating the obvious (no offense). The question is how could it retain the area without the ASBs. As far as I can tell, your idea is that the PLC of that period was an unstoppable Juggernaut capable to run over each and every of its neighbors just by a virtue of having the wonderful heavy cavalry. I happen to disagree with an assumption that no realistic (aka, not involving the ASBs, Ivan being replaced with a technologically savvy time traveller from the XXI century, etc.) developments of the Muscovite military system could change this situation. Polish military system had its limitations, it regularly suffered from the shortage of funds and its weak points could be used (and had been used) by a reasonably competent opponent to his advantage.

Moreover the Russian situation would be much more severe than Swedish IOTL because the whole forces PLC would be willing to spend on the eastern affairs would be spent on Russia. Also Russian army is definitely not superior to Swedish even before Gustavus Adolphus.

We are going in the circles. I listed quite realistic things which could change the situation (and specific cases when they were successful). As for the "whole forces PLC" being "willing" to do pretty much anything that would take a prolonged effort, this was hardly the case. Even the outstanding leaders like Bathory and Sobiessky suffered from the shortage of funds when the war was lasted for more than a short while.

If Russia tries to hold for any part of Daugava’s banks lower than Drysa confluences with Daugava (as is the case with OTL 1577 year situation you have provided) Lithuanian export becomes endangered and every Lithuanian magnate would be willing to contribute resources to remedy this situation. Russia would not be able to hold conquests in such a situation

Here we go again: I explicitly stated in the 1st post that Riga is out.

As for the conclusion, it simply does not hold a water: look at the history of the Swedish-Polish Wars. In 1621 GA marched to Riga with 14,700 infantry, 3,150 cavalry and 375 cannons. Riga was defended by a garrison of 300 soldiers, plus 3,700 armed residents. Lithuanian Field Hetman Krzysztof Radziwiłł had only 1,500 soldiers at his disposal. After Riga Swedes captured Dunamunde and entered the Duchy of Courland and in 1622 took Valmiera. Size of Radziwiłł's army grew up to ... 3,000 with no artillery. In 1726 GA landed again with 20,000 and proceeded with capturing Livonian cities and ending with controlling the line of the Daugava. Lithuanian armies (no Poles) of Krzysztof Radziwiłł and Lew Sapieha did not unite due to the personal conflicts and after the battle at Gniew limited their activities to attacks on Swedish patrols.

The main premise that the loss of Riga and other ports would endanger the Lithuanian grain export is plain wrong: it continued during the following conflicts; it is just that the Swedes were getting the custom dues.


While one can find Ivan’s fault in many areas I don’t think not trying to develop regular infantry and artillery is one of such areas. It was precisely during his reign when Russia got decent artillery train and organized infantry that resembled proper pike and shot one: streltsy.

I said this how many times? The fault was (I'll repeat it again) in switching from this direction back to the old Asiatic methods of a warfare. Streltsy were not progressing noticeably from the initial status in the numbers and tactics. The same with artillery: its development was chaotic without an attempt to regulate the calibers, train the crews and incorporate it into the field armies.

BTW, streltsy were not "pike and shot" infantry. They were strictly "shot": their equipment consisted of the matchlock, battleaxe serving as a support for the gun and a sabre. But they already used pre-packaged "cartridges", which was quite progressive. Absence of the pike formations made them vulnerable to the cavalry attacks and in the field they tended to fight from behind the pre-fabricated wooden field fortifications. Adding a pike would not require a military genius: plenty of experience was available everywhere. Should not take a military genius to figure this out.

But the thing was that gunpowder based army was a lot more expansive than feudal militia. So while Ivan spent a quite a bit money on modern gunpowder troops, he also used feudal militia, Tatars and whatever else was at his disposal for cheap money.

This was, of course, a consideration but not something unique for the Muscovite army (you can start with the Italian Wars) and the feudal militia was not coming free of charge either. Besides a need to provide its members with a land, government had to pay them during the war time. As far as streltsy were involved, part of their compensation was a right of tax-free trade in a peace time. And, unlike the PLC, Ivan had been in charge of squeezing money from the subjects. It is just that thanks to his ...er... "specifics" he was consistently busy with destroying his country's economy and exterminating its population (population loss was something on the scale of 20 - 25% with agriculture in such a terrible shape that the English ambassador at Ivan's court predicted an inevitable catastrophe). A systematic extermination of the capable military cadres contributed to the general picture: if after a defeat the general had to either defect or expect execution (with all family), not too many experienced commanders would be around.

I think attributing to Ivan's inherent cruelty or psychological problems the usage of cheap feudal troops, that already were organized by Ivan’s predecessors and didn’t cost Ivan a significant amount of real money, is going way, way too far

I think that you did not quite get what I'm saying. It was not a matter of an immediate switch from one system to another and, anyway, feudal militia was a cavalry and so were the Tatars; none of them was an adequate substitute for an infantry.

The 1st Romanovs started developing the modern western-style infantry and cavalry without abandoning the old system but rather with gradually limiting it. As a part of the combined army these irregulars (especially the nomadic troops and the Cossacks) had been quite useful even during the GNW: they constituted a noticeable part of Sheremetiev's post-Narva army operating in the Baltic area. As for Ivan's personality as a factor, the switch presumably started with the Novgorodian "expedition" (which was clearly linked to his personality and in which the Tatars were heavily involved). The rest can be interpreted either as his personality (he seemingly liked the genocidal activities in Livonia) or as his general competence and sanity. AFAIK, there is a little doubt that by the 2nd part of his reign he was not completely sane.
 
During the Livonian war, the Russians tried to place Magnus, Duke of Holstein, Bishop of Ösel-Wiek and Courland (the Danish king's brother) on the throne of a "kingdom of Livonia". Lets say King Frederik II decides to side with his brother in order to prevent Swedish expansion into the region, and uses his massive navy to help the Russians win.

Livonia becomes something like a joint vassal of Russia and Denmark, neither can exert too much influence over it for fear of angering the other. Russia takes some lands along the border and restores the duchy of Estonia as a satellite state.

This is a big win for Russia, though not even close to a complete conquest.

Livonia.jpg



What do you think? He didn't do it OTL, but I guess better communication between the two brothers before Magnus swears fealty to Russia and tries to set up a kingdom could be enough, otherwise just make Denmark and Sweden have a more tense relationship than OTL before the war, even a small incident could create tension. Maybe a Swedish lord trying to exert influence over Skane or some soldiers unintentionally crossing into Denmark (after all, Borders were less secure back then) and getting attacked by Danes who think it's an invasion. It would be small enough to be resolved, but generate distrust between the two, and make Denmark fear Swedish growth.

Does this work?

I was actually considering doing a TL like this, but I can't do it until I finish the Korean one i'm working on RN.
 
Top