Beginning of the Livonian War

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22. January 1558

Before the acts of war and the return of the ambassadors, all kinds of rumours spread in Livonia. Hermann II, the Bishop of Tartu, was especially worried and indecisive, requesting reinforcement from the Order in several letters as the war is about to start, but then sent new letters ordering the armies not to be assembled as it might provoke the enemy. By the beginning of 1558, no extensive preparations for war had been made in Livonia.

On 22 January, the forces of Russians and Tatars led by the former Kazan Khan Shigalei (Shah Ali) crossed the border of Livonia and started pillaging. Tartu Diocese and Virumaa were mainly ravaged. They did not attempt to invade any fortresses, it was purely a plundering raid.

In February, Russian troops turned back. According to the chronicles of Johann Renner, local order commanders made small trips behind the Russian border as well. Historical writings have expressed the opinion that the first plundering raid of the Russians was a threat to Livonians to accept the peace conditions of the czar and that the war developed into a large invasion accidentally, after the Russians took hold of Narva with unexpected ease. In March-April 1558, Livonians did indeed attempt to collect the money for the Tartu tax and send it to the czar, but it was a lost cause.

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

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