Narva falls to Ivan the Terrible

to map

12. May 1558

Although a short peace treaty had been signed between Livonia and Russia in February 1558, during which Livonians tried to reconcile the czar with the collection of the Tartu tax without effect, it was not valid for the town of Narva. Namely, there were constant quarrels about the town and, taking advantage of one of these, the Russians started bombing Narva in April, claiming there had been shots at Invangorod Fortress from the town.

As the bombing did great damage in the town, a delegation was sent from Narva to Russia, and it has often been blamed of being sent to the town with the proposal to surrender to the Russians. What is more likely is that the delegation did try to restore the truce. But that was not possible: when the merchants from Narva appeared in front of the czar, he demanded they surrender, promising to preserve the extensive privileges of the town. The Narva delegation was sent back to the hometown with the privilege letters from the czar.

While the delegation was on its way towards Russia, Grandmaster Fürstenberg attempted to strengthen the defences of Narva. An additional troop of mercenaries from Tallinn was sent to the town and Gotthard Kettler, the Commander of Viljandi, moved to Virumaa with a larger company, making camp near Narva River. But for some reason, they did not move to the town at a decisive moment, which is why Kettler has been accused of treason. It is possible that there was a communication problem instead.

At the same time, the bombing of Narva continued and on 11 May, the town was on fire; according to Russow, due to reckless handling of fire. This was immediately taken advantage of by the Russians in Ivangorod, who invaded Narva. Town people were unable to put up resistance and surrendered. Only the fortress lasted for another day and was then also obliged to surrender. Narva Bailiff and other major officials had already left the town, now, everyone else who did not want to remain under the Russian rule was also given this opportunity. During the Russian rule (1558-1581), the town of Narva was doing rather well; it became one of the most important ports and trading places of the country. Many Russian merchants came to town, but German merchants also kept their positions.

Mati Laur. Eesti ajalugu varasel uusajal 1550-1800. Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus, 1999.

Sulev vahtre, Eesti Ajalugu Kronoloogia (13000 - 2006)


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