The battle of Molodi
August 2 (or 3rd) 1572 - 446 years ago today
Russia asserts herself and ends Crimean-Ottoman expansion
When the Crimean Kahn Devlet I Giray invaded north into Russia in the summer of 1572, he was working in concert with the Ottoman Empire. Their goal was to expand as far north as they could, pressing the seemingly weak Russian territory at the time ruled by Czar Ivan IV the Terrible. After Moscow itself had been torched in 1571 the Czar put strong fortifications and a large number of troops along the river Oka, all under the command of Prince Vorotynsky. Patrolling the river line in his gulyay-gorod (a massive wheeled fort with openings for guns that could hold thousands of men) Vorotynsky was attacked by Devlet’s forces near the town of Molodi. The Russian guns did their job and inflicted heavy casualties on the Crimean forces. Switching things up a bit, Devlet surrounded the gulyay-gorod and laid siege hoping to starve out the prince and his men. Tricked into breaking the siege (which likely would have worked!) Devlet unleashed a full scale attack on August 2nd. All day the Crimean men, also known as Tatars, were hacked at by Russian axes and blown away by Russian guns. Exhausted and having suffered huge casualties the would be Great Khan and his army were smashed by a sneaky cavalry sortie led by Prince Vorotynsky timed to coincide with an infantry push from out of the gulyay-gorod. The Crimean losses were staggering with a whopping 40,000 to 60,000 total casualties, the Russians suffered less but still had a heavy total at 30k to 40k. The victory put an end to Ottoman aggression north and finally the Russian southern border was stabilized and for a time safe. Ivan the Terrible would rule for another 12 years, defeating the khanate and consolidating power, not to mention earning his nickname. The hero of Molodi, Prince Vorotynsky, would himself fall victim to the crazed whims of the Czar. Ivan believed the Prince had to much fame and adoration from the public and soldiers and fearing him a threat, Ivan had Vorotynsky tortured and executed only a year after the battle. The bottom right painting is Ilya Repin’s famous capturing of the moment when Ivan killed his son and heir, Ivan Ivanovich. I had to include it because I think the madness in his eyes is really haunting. I’m going to leave you with this - could the Ottoman’s have ruled in Moscow? And what would an Ottoman Russia have looked like? Go to the Your Theories page and let me know what you think!