Cossack raid on Istanbul (1615)

The Cossack raid on Istanbul (Constantinople) of 1615 was an attack of Istanbul by the Zaporozhian Cossacks, headed by Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny. Cossacks attacked the capital of the Ottoman Empire, entered its harbor, and burned it before returning to their base. The success of this raid inspired the Tutora campaign of 1620 and the Khotyn campaign of 1621.[1]

Raid on Constantinople (1615)
12 - Konstantinopel; Scheda-Karte europ Türkei.jpg
Map in Scutari (now: Üsküdar), part of Constantinople attacked by Ukrainian Cossacks.
Result Cossack victory
Hetmanate Zaporozhian Cossacks Ottoman flag.svg Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny Prince Unknown (Assault) Ali-pasha
~4,000 ?


The Cossack communities emerged in the fourteenth century in the Ukrainian wild steppes and by the Dnieper River. Initially, they were mostly composed of runaway serfs, further augmented by adventurers. Later on, Cossacks developed highly militaristic communities largely responsive for raids on Tatars. Its fighters were considered skilled fighters and neighboring states such as the Kingdom of Poland employed them in times of conflicts.[2] During the 1500s there were constant attacks on the Crimean Tatars and Ottoman possessions either to plunder treasure or liberate Christian slaves.[3] By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the fighters began raiding communities in the Black Sea including the cities of Varna, Perekop, Bilhorod, Izmail, and the Turkish Trebizond.


In May 1615, the group of Cossacks went on the raid to Turkey on eighty small boats (Ukr. Chayka), each one carrying approximately 50 men. By mid-June they managed to cross the Black Sea and to land on the coast in the vicinity of Constantinople. After that, Cossacks captured and set on fire the Istanbul neighborhood of Scutari (now: Üsküdar), then the ports of Mizevna and Archioca. After raiding the city, the Cossacks went back to Ukraine.

Sultan Ahmed I, from the windows of his palace noticed the smoke from the fire caused by the raiders and sent a fleet of Turkish galleys in pursuit. The Ottomans caught up with the Cossacks opposite the mouth of the Danube. The Turkish forces were, however, defeated and the admiral was captured.[4]


In order to punish the Zaporozhians, the next year, the Turkish sultan sent the fleet under the command of Admiral Ali-Pasha. Turkish galleys crossed the sea and entered the Dnieper estuary, where they were met by Cossack boats under command of Petro Konashevich-Sagaidachny. The Zaporozhians defeated the Turkish squadron, seized a dozen galleys and nearly a hundred boats. Commander Ali-Pasha barely managed to escape.

After that, the Cossacks went out to sea, blockaded the Crimea and landed on the shore near the largest Black Sea slavery market - Kaffa. The raid on that city is known as the battle for Kafa.

Psychological factorEdit

The raid was a morale boost to the Zaporozhians Cossacks, who were successfully attacking strongholds which the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth didn't dare to attack. European diplomats brought news of the Cossack raid to the West. French historian Michel Baudier wrote: "The only mention of the Cossacks brings dread and terror to Constantinople".

See alsoEdit


1. Крип'якевич І., Гнатевич Б. та ін. Історія українського війська. – Львів, 1992. – С.193-194
2. "Cossack Navy 16th - 17th Centuries". geocities. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009.


  1. ^ Stone, Daniel (2014). The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 146. ISBN 0295980931.
  2. ^ Prazmowska, Anita (2011). A History of Poland. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 102. ISBN 9780230252356.
  3. ^ Stone, p. 146.
  4. ^ Imber, Colin (2009). The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 66. ISBN 0230574505.