Azov Campaigns of 1695–96

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Azov Campaigns of 1695–96


campaigns of the Russian army and fleet, under the direction of Peter I, to the Sea of Azov during the Russo-Turkish war of 1686–99. The purpose of the campaigns was to capture the Turkish fortress of Azov (with a garrison of 7,000 men), which blocked access to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. The first Azov campaign began in the spring of 1695. An army (31,000 men, 170 guns) composed of crack regiments and Don Cossacks and divided into three detachments (F. Lefort, P. I. Gordon, and A. M. Golovin) was sent toward Azov. Another army—120,000 dvorianin (noble cavalrymen), streltsy (musketeers), and Ukrainian Cossacks—under the command of B. P. Shere-metev moved along the lower reaches of the Dnieper in order to distract the Crimean Tatars. The Russian army moved up to Azov on June 27–28; on July 5 it surrounded Azov by land. After two unsuccessful assaults (August 5 and September 25), the siege was lifted. At the end of 1695, preparations were begun for a second Azov campaign: construction started on the Azov fleet, which came into existence by the spring of 1696. Sheremetev’s cavalry (about 70,000 men) was again sent along the lower Dnieper, while on April 23–26 the main force (75,000 men) commanded by A. S. Shein moved toward Azov by boat along the Voronezh and Don rivers as well as by land. A fleet of galleys led by Peter I sailed on May 3. On May 27 the Russian fleet (two ships of the line, four fire ships, 23 galleys, and others) under the command of Lefort moved out to sea and blockaded Azov. On June 14 the Turkish fleet (23 ships with 4,000 troops) appeared opposite the mouth of the Don, but after losing two ships it set out to sea. After a bombardment from land and sea and the capture of part of the outer rampart of the fortress by Ukrainian and Don Cossacks, the garrison of Azov surrendered on July 19.

The Azov campaigns demonstrated the importance of a fleet and marked the beginning of Russia’s transformation into a naval power. The success of the Azov campaigns strengthened Russia’s position at the Karlowitz Congress of 1698–99 and contributed to the conclusion of the Constantinople peace treaty of 1700.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.