Russo-Persian War (1722–1723)

Summary

The Persian campaign of 1722-1723 (Russian-Persian War of 1722-1723) is a campaign of the Russian army and navy to the south-eastern Transcaucasia and Dagestan belonging to Persia.

The official purpose of the campaign was to open a trade route for Russian merchants (“opened to us the gates to Asia”) and to protect them from robbers. There is an opinion that the goal was also to punish the Lezgins in Transcaucasia.

Back in 1701 Israel Ori, an Armenian diplomat, together with an influential political and church figure of the Armenian Church, Minas Tigranian, went to Moscow to Tsar Peter I to present his plan for the liberation of Armenia with Russian support. They also presented him the letter of the Armenian (Syunik and Karabagh) Meliks which particularly stated: “We have no other hope, but the heavenly monarch in God, your majesty in the lands of the sovereign”. Peter promised to help the Armenians at the end of the war with Sweden.

In the report of Prince Bekovich-Cherkassky to Peter I on the situation in the Caucasus dated May 29, 1714, he convinces the Russian sovereign of the need to attract Kumyk rulers to his side, explaining this as follows:

After the end of the Northern War, Peter I decided to make a campaign to the west coast of the Caspian Sea, and, having mastered the Caspian, to lay a trade route from Central Asia and India to Europe through Russia, which was very profitable for Russian merchants and promised revenues to the treasury of the Russian Empire. The trade route was to pass through India, Persia, from there to the Russian fort on the river Kura, then through Georgia to Astrakhan, where it was planned to deliver goods throughout the Russian Empire.

Peter I paid great attention to the development of trade and the economy. Back in 1716, he sent a detachment of Prince Bekovich-Cherkassky across the Caspian Sea to Khiva and Bukhara. The expedition was tasked to persuade Khan of Khiva to be a subject, and Emir of Bukhara to become a friend of Russia; to explore trade routes to India and gold deposits in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya. However, this first expedition failed completely – the Khan of Khiva first persuaded the prince to disperse his forces, and then treacherously attacked and destroyed individual detachments.

The preparation of Russian troops for the campaign to Persia began during the Northern War.

The initial plan of the military campaign envisaged the landing on the shores of the Caspian Sea and further advance overland deep into Persian territory, where it was planned to unite Russian forces with Armenian and Georgian (about 40 thousand men), coming to the aid of the latter in their struggle for liberation from the Persian and Ottoman domination.

In 1714-1715. A. Bekovich-Cherkassky made a description of the northern and eastern coasts of the Caspian Sea. In 1718, N. Kozhin and V. Urusov also made a description of the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. In 1719-1720. Verden and F. Soimonov made a description of the western and southern coasts of the Caspian Sea. As a result of this expedition a consolidated map of the entire Caspian Sea was compiled.

Peter planned to leave Astrakhan, march along the Caspian coast, capture Derbent and Baku, reach the Kura River and establish a fortress there, then march to Tiflis, assist the Georgians in the fight against the Ottoman Empire and from there return to Russia. In case of an impending war, contact was established with both the king of Kartli, Vakhtang VI, and the Armenian Catholicos, Astvatsatur I. Kazan and Astrakhan became the centers of organization of the Persian campaign. For the upcoming campaign of 80 companies of field troops were formed 20 separate battalions with a total strength of 22 thousand men and 196 artillery pieces. Also, on his way to Astrakhan, Peter enlisted the support of the Kalmyk Khan Ayuka, and units of Kalmyk cavalry, numbering 7 thousand men, took part in the campaign. 15 (26) June 1722 the Russian Emperor arrived in Astrakhan. He decided to send 22,000 infantrymen by sea and 7 dragoon regiments, totaling 9,000 men under the command of Major General Kropotov, from Tsaritsyn by land; Cossack and Don Cossack units also went by land. 30,000 Tartars were also hired.

By order of Peter the Great and with his direct participation in the Kazan Admiralty about 200 transport ships were built (including: 3 schnyavs, 2 hekbots, 1 gukor, 9 shuit, 17 tyalaks, 1 yacht, 7 evers, 12 galotes, 1 streamer, 34 flipper ships), which were manned by 6 thousand sailors.

On July 15 (26) 1722 Peter issued “Manifesto to the peoples of the Caucasus and Persia” which said that “the Shah”s subjects – Lezgin ruler Daud-bek and Kazikum ruler Surkhay – rebelled against their sovereign, stormed Shemaha city and committed a robber attack on Russian merchants. In view of Daud-bek”s refusal to give satisfaction we are forced … against the predicted rioters and vicious robbers to bring an army.

The manifesto was authored by Prince Dmitry Kantemir, who was in charge of the campaign”s chancellery. The manuscript was authored by Prince Dmitry Kantemir, who was in charge of the march”s chancellery. He produced an Arabic typesetting font, organized a special printing house and printed in Tatar, Turkish and Persian his own translation of Peter I”s manifesto.

Alternatives:The Campaign of 1722The 1722 CampaignCampaign of 1722

Peter”s flotilla arrived at its destination on July 27, 1722, and Peter was the first to go ashore.

Russian troops moving south in July 1722 received petitions to be accepted as subjects from the surrounding Dagestan rulers, but Peter I did not wait for ambassadors from the Endirey princedom. As punishment, the emperor sent to Endirey a corps under the command of brigadier Veterani (2,000 dragoons and 400 Cossacks). Veterani was to occupy the “Andrew”s Village” (the village of Enderi) and ensure the landing of troops in the Gulf of Agrakhan. He was joined by the Great Kabarda owners Elmurza Cherkassky and the Little Kabarda owners Aslambek Kommetov. On July 23, on the outskirts of Andire, rulers Aidemir and Musal Chapalov with 5 – 6 thousand Kumyks and Chechens suddenly attacked the Russians. The cavalry of Veterani suffered heavy losses and began to retreat. Then Colonel Naumov was sent to Endirey with a large army, which burned Endirey. Subsequently, Peter sent a punitive expedition, which consisted mainly of Kalmyks, against the Chechens.

On August 12, having gathered his army together with the empress, he solemnly entered Tarka, the capital of the shamkhal. Three days later he returned to his camp on the shore of the Caspian Sea and, after holding a service in the field church of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, he and his companions built a large hill from stones. This occurred on the site of the modern city of Makhachkala, which received its original name of Port Petrovsk in honor of the tsar”s stay there once. The next day, Peter headed his army to Derbent, and the fleet, with supplies of food and weapons, set out to follow.

On August 5 (16) the Russian army continued its movement to Derbent. 6 (17) August at the river Sulak the army was joined by Kabardian princes Murza Cherkasskiy and Aslan-Bek with their detachments. 8 (19) August the army crossed the River Sulak. On August 15 (26) the troops came to Tarkam, the residence of Shamkhal. 19 (30) August there was a battle at the river Inchkha between Russian troops and the 10 thousandth army of Uthamish sultan Magmud and the 6 thousandth detachment of Utsmiy Kaytag Ahmet-khan, which ended in a victory for Russia.

Peter”s ally was the Tarkhal Shamkhal Adil Giray, who seized Derbent and Baku before the approach of the Russian army. On August 23 (September 3) Russian troops entered Derbent. Derbent was a strategically important city because it covered the coastal route along the Caspian Sea. On August 28 (September 8) all the Russian forces, including the flotilla, rushed to the city. Further progress to the south was halted by a strong storm, which sank all the ships with food. Peter I decided to leave the garrison in the city and returned with the main forces in Astrakhan, where he began preparing for the campaign in 1723. This was the last military campaign in which he directly participated.

In September, Vakhtang VI and his army entered Karabakh, where he fought against the Dagestani rebels. After the capture of Ganja the Georgians were joined by Armenian troops with Catholicos Isaiah at the head. Near Ganja the Georgian-Armenian army stood waiting for Peter for two months, however, having learned about the withdrawal of the Russian army from the Caucasus, Vakhtang and Isaiah returned with the troops to their possessions.

In November, a landing of five companies in the Persian province of Gilan under Colonel Shipov was landed to occupy the town of Resht. Later, in March of the following year, the Vizier of Rasht organized a revolt and with a force of 15,000 men tried to dislodge the detachment of Shipov, which occupied Rasht. All the Persian attacks were repulsed.

Alternatives:The Campaign of 1723Campaign of 1723The 1723 Campaign

During the second Persian campaign a much smaller detachment under the command of Matyushkin was sent to Persia, and Peter I only led Matyushkin”s actions from the Russian Empire. The campaign included 15 hexbots, field and siege artillery and infantry. On June 20, the detachment moved southward, followed by a fleet of hekbots from Kazan. On July 6, ground troops approached Baku. The proposal of Matyushkin to surrender the city voluntarily was rejected by the besieged. July 21, with 4 battalions and two field guns the Russians repulsed the attack of the besieged. In the meantime, 7 hexbots anchored near the city wall and began to fire on it heavily, thereby destroying the fortress artillery and partially destroying the wall. On July 25, an assault from the sea through the breaches in the wall was planned, but a strong wind drove the Russian ships away. The besiegers managed to take advantage of it by closing all the gaps in the wall. However, on July 26 the city surrendered without a fight.

In the spring of 1723 the Ottomans invaded the Safavid Empire. On learning of this, Tahmasp II sent to St. Petersburg an ambassador, Ismail-bek, to conclude an alliance with Russia, by which Peter I promised to assist in the expulsion of the Afghans from the country.

According to the Treaty of St. Petersburg, Persia recognized Russia”s ownership of Derbent and Baku and ceded Gilan, Mazendaran and Astrabad. Thus, all the western and southern coast of the Caspian Sea passed to Russia. The Lower Corps ensured control over the annexed territories.

The transition to Russia of the Caspian provinces of Persia aggravated Russian-Turkish relations. The Ottoman Empire took advantage of the unstable position of the Persian shah Tahmasp II, and in late 1723 – early 1724 invaded Eastern Georgia and Eastern Armenia and threatened Russia with war. The Russian-Turkish relations were regulated by the Constantinople peace treaty. Under the treaty, Turkey retained the eastern regions of Georgia and Armenia, the Tabriz, Kazvin and Shemakha khanates, Russia – the cities and provinces obtained under the Treaty of St. Petersburg in 1723.

Peter the Great paid great attention to the foreign policy of Russia. The Persian campaign was seen by the Russian emperor as a military campaign to master and gain access to the seas after winning the Northern War. With the implementation of plans for expansion and access to the Caspian Sea in the war with Persia, the Russian Empire would be able to trade with the countries of Western Europe. This would require ferrying goods from the East across the river that supposedly exited the Caspian Sea and reached India and selling them for a higher price in Europe.

France supported Peter the Great”s plans for Persia. The French government did not want the Ottomans to start a war against Russia. It was advantageous for the French to see them as allies in resolving their issues with Austria. At the Constantinople talks, France expressed its views on the matter. “… the French ambassador said the following speech: that the Russian monarch, in order to maintain the Porte”s eternally established friendship, withholds his weapons from action, the Turkish ministers said that the Porte has long sent orders to the Lezgians that they do not cause any trouble over the aforementioned Russian places…”.

Peter the Great began to negotiate with the Dutch. It was planned that Dutch merchants, who were already trading globally, would agree to buy goods from Russia from the East. A letter was even sent to them with an offer to trade in silk. “…to the Dutch to announce their silk trade, to begin it…”.

In the 18th century, goods from Eastern countries were in great demand in Europe. For example, raisins and saffron were highly prized in Poland. “The observant tsar, as an experienced merchant, noticed that the Polish nobility could not do without these spices at the table. Peter the Great intended to sell these products there in the future. In addition, relations with Poland partially improved during the Northern War.

In 1721 Britain refused to recognize Russia as an empire. It took a negative view of the Persian campaign, seeing it not as an aid to the Russian army against the Persian rebels, but as a deliberate seizure of the Caspian lands. Peter the Great regarded it as the most significant competitor in trade. “Peter did not touch the English trade He dared to strike a blow to British imports.” The British in Constantinople”s ruling circles said that in fact the Russians were assembling a large army to take Shirvan, Erivan and Georgia. Peter the Great immediately wrote to I. I. Neplyuev, where he assured the Porte that the capture of Persia was never intended. “… We will also need to retain some provinces for the security of our borders…”.

Denmark had a dual position with respect to both Russia and Britain. The Danish government wanted to begin trade with the Russians, but later the Danish king enlisted the support of the British and opposed it. Denmark, as well as Sweden, did not want Russian merchants to access the sea from the Baltic, and conduct their trade there with eastern goods from India.

The Turks wanted access to the Caspian Sea to prevent Russian merchants from trading with the countries of the East, and to sell them purchased Oriental goods to Europe. The Turks were going to assist the rebels in Persia, who were making a riot. The rebels took this positively, asking to be taken under their protection. “… The rebel Daud-bek sent to the Sultan of Tours to take him under his patronage.”

In the Crimean Khanate the government openly called for war against Russia. “…to expel all Mohammedans against the rebels very hard to fight”. This was because the khans, who were vassals of the Turks, understood that Peter the Great had strengthened the country during his rule and now Russia could be a threat to them.

Economic relations with no country were realized. This was because there was no river from Persia to India. It was impossible to carry out rapid trade between Europe and the East.

Sources

  1. Персидский поход (1722—1723)
  2. Russo-Persian War (1722–1723)