Articles / Fortress and defence building

Fortress and defence building

Subject / Architecture

Fortress and defence building. The defence of the northwestern lands of Russia was created on combining almost impassable places ("natural strongholds") and powerful frontier fortresses located on the important directions. The fortress building was started in Ladoga (in 862, about 900, 1114). It was carried as the state policy on princes' initiative. During the 13-15th the system of fortified suburbs which defenced the city of Novgorod against assaults of Swedes, Livonian Germans and Danes. On the northern frontiers there were fortresses of Ladoga, Orekhov, Koporye, Yamgord, Korela, and Tiversk. In Novgorod the military building was carried in several stages. The first stage (from 1239 till the 1280s) was recognised with saving the tradition of building fortification in environment of the Mongol invasion and the threat from the West. The fortress of Koporye, which was wooden in 1279 and stone in 1280, indicated the transition to stone building. On the second stage (from 1297 till 1348) Novgorod people built new outposts on the more dangerous directions: the fortress of Koporye (1297), Korela town (about 1300), Orekhov (1323). In these outposts not only military settlers lived, but the Baltic and Finnish population too. In the territory tribe towns and shelters (Tiversk military post, settlements in the Koporye area). This policy permitted to Novgorod to retain the power in the outlying districts. Among the stone fortifications one-tower fortresses on islands (Korela, Orekhov) were predominated. Their layouts were depended of the locality relief, bends and ledge of walls were used for flanking fire. The third stage (from 1350 till 1425) were marked with important improvements. Long-range stone throwers and self-firing machines were used in battle operations, for the first time fire-arms were used. Many-tower fortresses with straight stretches of walls that were equipped with several towers used for the combination of frontal and flanking fire, for radial firing. The fortress with geometrically correct outline (1352, the fortress of Oreshek) were built, they look like knight order castles. Fortresses walls were overbuilt (The Koporye fortress, 1352), they were equipped with new towers (The Oreshek fortress, 1352) and with almost insuperable entrances (zakhabs - narrow corridors by which one could get into the fortress through the openings in the wooden roofing, herses). The Yamgorod building (1384) completed the defence system of the north-western border. During the fourth stage (from 1425 till 1475), in connecting with using siege cannons, the necessity of widening walls and towers, creating centres of cannon resistance (platforms for cannons, semicircle towers) has occurred. Through-the-wall embrasures of the lawer row of loopholes and stone stairs began to build. Novgorod did not run the siege or assault of enemy troops, it's borders remained invariable after the Orekhov Peace Treaty of 1323. After the integration of Russian lands in united state, after reconstructing the Novgorod detinets (since 1484) and building the Ivangorod fortress (from 1492 till 1499) that connected Novgorod and Pskov fortifications in the uniform system, the Moskoviya government implemented rebuilding the Ladoga fortress (the 1490s), the Yamgorod fortrss (after 1496), the Oreshek fortress (1514-1525) and the Koporye fortrss (about 1520-1525). Italian and Greek fortifiers ("fryazines") which were invited by the governments of Ivan III and Vasily III took part in the works. During the reconstruction the outdated fortifications were demolished and built anew, in full (the Oreshek fortrss) or partly (the fortrsses of Ladoga, Koporye, Yamgord). In a number of cases the old walls parts were used, there were elements of the planning on "the old foundation". New constructions of "firearm" fortification had more (in 2-2.5 times) thickness then their predecessors. They are characterized with the equal tower positions on the defended perimeter, the rectilineal pryaslos (parts of walls) between towers, standard constructions (many-tier circle towers, cannon loopholes with recesses, inside stairs, loopholes of the lower row in walls, arched ceilings, sallyports, herses and others). They were destined for active defence with total frontal and flanking fire cover, using cannons and hand weapon. Constructions were built with walls which were equal thickness and surrounded with a fascia of the cokle slope. In second half of the 16th century wooden-earth fortifications of the bastion type (the Earthwork gorodishche (fortified settlement) of Staraya Ladoga, 1585-86) were started to use. At the early 17th century towns-fortresses of Ivangorod, Yamgorod, Koporye, Oreshek and Korela were captured by Sweden. They were returned into Russia during the North War of 1700-1721. During the 18th -early 19th centuries they lost their military significance.

Plotkin, Konstantin Moiseyevich

Ivan III Vasilyevich, Grand Prince
Vasily III Ivanovich, Grand Prince of Moscow

Leningrad Oblast, the/Ivangorod Town
Leningrad Oblast, the/Lomonosov District/Koporye Village
Historical Toponyms/Korela
Historical Toponyms/Ladoga
Historical Toponyms/Orekhov
Leningrad Oblast, the/Volkhov District/Staraya Ladoga Village
Historical Toponyms/Tiversk
Historical Toponyms/Yamgorod

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