Russo-Polish War of 1632–34

Russo-Polish War of 1632–34


(also Smolensk War), a war between the Russian state and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita) over the Smolensk and Cherni-gov-Severskii lands that Poland had seized in the early 17th century. Taking advantage of the situation created by the Thirty Years’ War of 1618–48, the Russian government tried to form an anti-Polish coalition with the Ottoman Empire and Sweden. The negotiations were fruitless, however, and the death of Gustavus Adolphus in 1632 prevented the conclusion of a Russo-Swedish alliance. Russia alone moved troops into the Commonwealth.

The strategic plan was to send the main Russian army—40,000 men, commanded by the boyar M. B. Shein—from the city of Viaz’ma through Dorogobuzh to Smolensk; the army was to besiege and capture Smolensk. Auxiliary armies, concentrated in Rzhev and Kaluga, were to capture fortresses to the north and south of Smolensk (in October-December 1632 they took Belaia, Nevel’, Serpeisk, Roslavl’, and Starodub) and then join Shein’s army.

On Sept. 10, 1632, Shein was ordered to leave Mozhaisk for Viaz’ma. On December 5, the main Russian forces moved toward Smolensk, and by late January 1633 they had completely surrounded the city. The siege artillery arrived in March 1633. Shein’s plan to take Smolensk by siege failed, and attacks mounted in May and June were repulsed. Wiadyslaw IV, the newly elected king of Poland, organized an expedition to relieve Smolensk. In September 1633 the Polish forces pressed forward and encircled the Russian army. Military failures, the cossack and peasant uprising led by Balash, and epidemics and hunger in Shein’s army forced the Russian government to sue for peace. Shein entered into negotiations with Polish representatives on his own authority and capitulated on Feb. 15, 1634.

Despite Shein’s capitulation, the Polish forces were unable to exploit their success. A Russian army in Mozhaisk, which numbered about 10,000 men and was commanded by Prince D. M. Cherkasskii and Prince D. M. Pozharskii, blocked the road to Moscow, and there were mass desertions in the Polish army itself. The government of Władysław IV entered into negotiations with Russia, which ended in 1634 with the Peace of Polia-novka (Polianov). The treaty essentially restored the prewar frontier; an important clause was Władysław’s official renunciation of his claim to the Russian throne.

Shein and the okol’nichii (a noble ranking below the boyars) A. V. Izmailov were declared responsible for the unsuccessful outcome of the war and were executed by sentence of the Boyar Duma.


Stashevskii, E. Smolenskaia voina, 1632–1634: Organizatsiia i sostoianie moskovskoi armii. Kiev, 1919.
Vainshtein, O. L. Rossiia i 30-letniaia voina. Moscow, 1947.
Porshnev, B. F. “Sotsial’no-politich. obstanovka v Rossii vo vremia Smolenskoi voiny.” Istoriia SSSR, 1957, no. 5.


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