Kazan Campaigns of 1545–52

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kazan Campaigns of 1545–52


Russian military campaigns against the Kazan Khanate, which had adopted an aggressive policy toward Russia. The khanate had barred Russia from the Volga trade route and made frequent raids into Russian territory. By the mid-16th century about 100, 000 Russian captives were held in Kazan.

The struggle to annex the khanate to the Russian state, begun in the late 15th century, had intensified by the 1540’s. In Kazan it found support among some Tatar feudal nobles, known as the Moscow party. The campaign of 1545 was more of a military demonstration than a real assault, but it served to strengthen the position of the Moscow party and other opponents of the khan, Safa-Girei, who was banished from Kazan at the end of the year. In the spring of 1546 he was replaced by Shah-Ali, the candidate of the Muscovite grand prince, Ivan IV the Terrible. Soon, however, Safa-Girei was able to return, supported by the Crimean Tatars.

The campaigns of 1547–48 and 1549–50 were unsuccessful. The government of Ivan IV made serious preparations for a new assault, introducing a series of reforms to strengthen the army. In 1551, as a result of the diplomatic mission of P. Turgenev, the Russians gained a promise of neutrality from the Nogai Horde, an ally of Kazan. That same year the fortress of Sviazhsk was built near Kazan. In August 1551, Shah-Ali once again regained the throne, but he was unable to deal with the difficult situation and fled in February 1552. The Tatar nobility then invited Prince Iadigar of Astrakhan’ to rule over the khanate.

On June 16, 1552, an army of 150, 000 men and 150 guns set out from Moscow, led by Ivan IV. On news of the approach of the Crimean Army of Khan Devlet-Girei, it moved south and southeast into the region around Kashira and Kolomna. Devlet-Girei’s army was defeated near Tula, and the Russian army marched on Kazan. On August 30, the siege began, in which turrets, siege weapons, and mines were used. The city’s water supply was cut off by a mine explosion, and on October 2, after several breaches had been made in the walls, an all-out attack was launched. By nightfall the city was in Russian hands.

The Kazan Khanate ceased to be an independent state, andthe middle Volga region was annexed to Russia. The capture ofKazan opened the way for Russian expansion into the Urals andSiberia and for the strengthening of trade relations with theCaucasus and the Orient.


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