On July 19 (29), 1696 after a long artillery fire Russian army led by Peter I and Voivode A. S. Shein captured Turkish fortress of Azov giving rise to transformation of Russia into a naval power.
The capture of the fortress which blocked the access to Azov and Black Seas for Russia was the main goal of military campaigns of the Russian army against Ottoman Empire in the end of 17th century.
The first Azov campaign took place in the spring through autumn of 1695. The Russian army formed of the detachments under the commandment of Peter’s I associates such as F. Lefort, P. I. Gordon and A. M. Golovin, as well as Don Cossacks. Another army including noble cavalry, Strelets and Ukrainian Cossacks under the commandment of Field Marshal General B. P. Sheremetev moved to the Lower Dnieper in order to draw away Crimea Tatars. In June-July the Russian troops reached Azov and blocked it from land. After two unsuccessful storms of the fortress however on August 5 (15) and September 25 (October 5) the siege was raised.
In the end of 1695 the preparation for the second Azov campaign began. This time it was planned to use the force of the Navy. In the spring of 1696 Peter I took the field again. The main forces of the Russian army under the commandment of A. S. Shein moved toward Azov by land and on ships down the rivers Voronezh and Don. In order to draw away the army of Crimea Khan the group of B. P. Sheremetev was again sent to the Lower Dnieper. As a result of the joint effort of the army and navy Azov was completely blocked. The attacks of Crimea troops trying to interfere with the siege as well as onslaught of Turkish squadron were repulsed. After the bombardment from land and sea, when Zaporizhian Cossacks led by hetman Ivan Mazepa and Don Cossacks commanded by ataman Frol Minaev seized a part of the outward rampart, the fortress garrison capitulated.
Capitulation agreement said: “Turkish garrison must take their wives and children and go on board of rowboats to the sea mouth; they should take with them as much belongings as they can carry; the rest along with the war treasury should be left in the fortress”.
Capture of Azov was the first large victory of Russia over Ottoman Empire. In honor of the victory a medal was struck with Tsar Peter’s imprint. The legend on the medal read: “Winner by lightning and water”. For his successful action during the second Azov campaign Peter’s I associate Alexei Shein was the first in Russia conferred with the title of generalissimo.
The success of Azov campaigns strengthened the position of Russia at Karlowitz Congress of 1698-1699 and contributed to the conclusion ofConstantinople Treaty of 17000. Capture of Azov initiated the created of the Russian Navy and new regular troops in Russia.
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Азов: официальный сайт администрации города Азова. Б. д. URL: http://www.gorodazov.ru/.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials: