Battle of the Siritsa River

The Battle of the Siritsa River (also Seritsa) took place on 27 August 1501 between the forces of the Livonian Order under Grand Master Wolter von Plettenberg on the one side and the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow and Pskov Republic on the other. The Russian forces were soundly defeated.

Battle of the Siritsa River
Part of the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
Date27 August 1501
On the Siritsa River, 10 km south from Izborsk
57°35′09″N 27°52′54″E / 57.58583°N 27.88167°E / 57.58583; 27.88167Coordinates: 57°35′09″N 27°52′54″E / 57.58583°N 27.88167°E / 57.58583; 27.88167
Result Livonian victory[1]
Grand Duchy of Moscow
Символ господарства Псковского.png Pskov Republic
Baltic coat of arms.svg Livonian Order
Commanders and leaders
Vasily Nemoy Shuysky
Daniil Shchenya
Wolter von Plettenberg
40,000[2] 12,000[2]

Grand Prince Ivan III of Russia pursued expansionist policies, which strained Moscow's relations with Livonia. In 1492, Moscow built Ivangorod Fortress opposite of Narva and two years later closed down the Hanseatic office in Novgorod. Hanseatic merchants, most of them Livonians, were imprisoned. The trade through Tallinn and Tartu diminished significantly.[3] During the Russo-Swedish War (1495–1497), Sweden captured Ivangorod and offered it to Livonia, an offer which was refused. Moscow perceived that as a Swedish–Livonian alliance. As negotiations failed, Livonia began preparing for war. In May 1500, a war broke out between Moscow and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. On 17 May 1501, Livonia and Lithuania concluded a ten-year alliance in Vilnius. In August 1501, von Plettenberg led a Livonian army, reinforced with 3,000 mercenaries from Lübeck, towards Pskov.

The armies met on 27 August 1501 on the Siritsa River, 10 km south from Izborsk, on the western approaches to Pskov. The Pskovian regiment attacked the Livonians first but was thrown back. The Livonian artillery then destroyed the remainder of the Muscovite army despite a Russian attempt to reply with their own, insufficient, artillery force. In the battle, the smaller Livonian army defeated the Muscovite army (drawn from the cities of Moscow, Novgorod, and Tver, as well as from Pskov – which was not formally part of Muscovy until 1510) in large part due to the Order's formidable artillery park and the Russians' significant shortage of guns of any kind.[4] The defeat prompted Moscow to modernize its army by creating standing infantry units armed with arquebus.[5]

Livonian troops then captured Ostrov and unsuccessfully besieged Pskov. The Russians retaliated by invading and plundering eastern Livonia and defeating the Order at Helmed near Dorpat. The Order won a victory at the Battle of Smolin in September 1502.[1] The war ended in 1503 when Lithuania sued for peace. Peace between Livonia and Moscow lasted until the Livonian War (1558–1583).[3]


  1. ^ a b European Warfare, 1494-1660, ed. Jeremy Black, (Routledge, 2002), 90.
  2. ^ a b Nolan, Cathal J. (2006). The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000-1650: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization. Vol. 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 539. ISBN 9780313337345.
  3. ^ a b Ertl, Alan W. (2008). Toward an Understanding of Europe: A Political Economic Précis of Continental Integration. Universal-Publishers. p. 387. ISBN 9781599429830.
  4. ^ Richard Hellie, Enserfment and Military Change in Muscovy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 156; Michael C. Paul, "The Military Revolution in Russia 1550-1682," The Journal of Military History 68. No. 1 (Jan. 2004), 20, 27.
  5. ^ Roy, Kaushik (2011). War, Culture and Society in Early Modern South Asia, 1740-1849. Taylor & Francis. p. 165. ISBN 9781136790874.

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