Ottoman-Muscovite Wars Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Ottoman Empire sought to strengthen its hold over the newly annexed province of Podolia by extending its suzerainty over the Dnieper Cossacks, who were protected by the Muscovites. Instead, the Muscovites advanced into the southern steppes and the Ottomans began their retreat from the northern coastal region of the Black Sea.

Summary of Event

The Ottoman-Russian Wars of 1677-1681 marked the culmination of half a century of instability in the western ukraina (borderlands), now called the Ukraine Ukraine , but the timing of the conflict was occasioned by the defeat in 1676 of Petro Doroshenko, Doroshenko, Petro hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Host and an Ottoman vassal, by his rival, Ivan Samoilovych, Samoilovych, Ivan a Muscovite protégé. [kw]Ottoman-Muscovite Wars (1677-1681) [kw]Wars, Ottoman-Muscovite (1677-1681) [kw]Muscovite Wars, Ottoman- (1677-1681) Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;1677-1681: Ottoman-Muscovite Wars[2630] Expansion and land acquisition;1677-1681: Ottoman-Muscovite Wars[2630] Ukraine;1677-1681: Ottoman-Muscovite Wars[2630] Russia;1677-1681: Ottoman-Muscovite Wars[2630] Ottoman Empire;1677-1681: Ottoman-Muscovite Wars[2630] Ottoman-Russian War (1677-1681)[Ottoman Russian War (1677-1681)]

In the first quarter of the seventeenth century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the dominant power in eastern Europe, with frontiers stretching from the Baltic almost to the Black Sea, including the province of Podolia between the Dniester and Bug Rivers, the ancient cities of Kiev and Pereyaslavl, and the Zaporozhian Cossacks Cossacks , who were longtime Polish vassals. Facing these territories were the Ottoman client-principality of Moldavia (Boghdan), the Ottoman province of Bessarabia (Bujak), and the Tatar khanate of the Crimea (an Ottoman dependency since 1475). Conflict was a foregone conclusion over these vast, empty grasslands, with their shifting and mobile population, ethnically and cultural diverse settlers, and nondelineated frontiers.

In 1620, war broke out between the two dominant powers, Poland and the Ottoman Empire. The Polish king, Sigismund III Vasa Sigismund III Vasa (r. 1587-1632), to offset his failures against the Swedes and the Muscovites in the north, sent troops south to assist the Austrian Habsburgs Habsburgs;Austria against Gabriel Bethlen, Bethlen, Gabriel Protestant prince of Transylvania Transylvania (r. 1613-1629), and the sultan’s vassal. Iskender Paşa Iskender Paşa of Ochakov (Özü), Bessarabia, then launched an invasion of the commonwealth and inflicted a decisive defeat on the Poles at Cecora Cecora, Battle of (1620) on the Pruth (September, 1620). One year later, a Polish force, besieged in Khotin on the Dniester River, broke out and mauled the encircling Turks so badly that Sultan Osman II Osman II (r. 1618-1622) opened negotiations (Treaty of Cecora, Cecora, Treaty of (1621) October, 1621), restoring the status quo.

Throughout the great Cossack revolt against Poland, which was led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky Khmelnytsky, Bohdan (r. 1648-1657), the Tatars Tatars were active, although undependable, allies of the Cossacks. However, once Khmelnytsky realized that his Cossacks and the Poles were too well-matched for either one to gain a permanent advantage, he turned to the sultan and offered, in return for military assistance, to place the Zaporozhian Host under Ottoman suzerainty on terms similar to those enjoyed by the voievods (princes) of Moldavia and Walachia, the prince of Transylvania, and the Crimean khan. Khmelnytsky’s plans foundered, however, on the unwillingness of the Orthodox Christian Cossacks to submit to even nominal Muslim overlordship. Even before Khmelnytsky’s death in 1657, the Cossack-Tatar alliance had disintegrated, and the Left-Bank Dnieper Cossacks had placed themselves under the Muscovite czar’s protection (Treaty of Pereyaslavl, Pereyaslavl, Treaty of (1654) January, 1654).

With Khmelnytsky dead, the entire Ukrainian borderlands sank into what Cossack historiography knows as ruina (the ruin). The Ukraine was now a vacuum, and the Cossacks were caught between a Polish Scylla and a Muscovite Charybdis, although these events had attracted the attention of Constantinople. The second Köprülü grand vizier, Fazıl Ahmed Paşa Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa (1661-1676), was determined to conquer Podolia, which would thus form a glacis (buffer zone) protecting Moldavia and Bessarabia from Polish aggression. Between 1670 and 1672, his forces overran Podolia and captured its capital of Kamieniec-Podolski. By the Treaty of Buczacz Buczacz, Treaty of (1672) (October, 1672), mediated by the Crimean khan, the Poles acquiesced in the loss of the province, which thereby became the last Ottoman territorial acquisition, and agreed to pay an annual tribute of twenty-two thousand gold ducats.

Yet the Ottoman hold over Podolia Podolia remained tenuous. Future Polish revenge could be taken for granted, while Muscovite pressure since the Treaty of Pereyaslavl was building in the northeast. Podolia was remote from Constantinople, and although there was an Ottoman presence in Bessarabia, and the Crimean khan was in striking distance of the steppes, the grand vizier turned to the Cossacks.

At this juncture, there arose a new Cossack champion, Petro Doroshenko, a thirty-eight-year-old colonel who had served under Khmelnytsky. In 1666, he was elected Right-Bank hetman, made Cossack reunification his long-term objective, instituted much-needed reforms, and created a mercenary force of twenty thousand troops to offset the divisive power of the staryshyna, the Cossack elite. Like Khmelnytsky, Doroshenko recognized the threat posed to Cossackdom by both Poland and Muscovy (which, in the Treaty of Andrusovo Andrusovo, Treaty of (1667) of 1667, had effectively partitioned the Ukraine between them). So Doroshenko submitted to the sultan, who appreciated him as a useful ally.

In 1667, Ottoman troops combined with Cossack units to invade Galicia and force the Polish king to recognize Doroshenko’s virtual autonomy. Doroshenko was now an Ottoman vassal comparable to the voievod of Moldavia and the Crimean khan. In 1668, proclaiming himself hetman of all Ukraine, Doroshenko invaded the Left Bank, provoking hostility from Poles and Muscovites alike, while the Cossack rank and file were again, as in Khmelnytsky’s time, riled by their subordination to an infidel sultan.

For a time, Doroshenko stayed the course. When Fazıl Ahmed Paşa embarked upon the invasion of Podolia (1670-1672), Doroshenko brought 12,000 Cossacks to join the Ottoman army of 100,000. However, the tide turned against the hetman when, in 1675-1676, a Muscovite army supported by Left-Bank Cossacks under their new hetman, Samoilovych, attacked the fortress of Chyhyryn, the symbol of Right-Bank Cossackdom. Doroshenko found himself fighting side by side with his Muslim overlords against his fellow Cossacks. His position became untenable: He surrendered the Left-Bank hetmanate to Samoilovych and ended his days in enforced exile near Moscow.

These events threatened to undermine the security of Ottoman Podolia, since the defection of Doroshenko meant the loss of a friendly Left-Bank Cossack enfilade (protective battle line) to the east. To make matters worse for the Ottomans, Fazıl Ahmed Paşa died in 1676. He was replaced by his foster brother and brother-in-law, Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa Kara Mustafa Paşa, Merzifonlu , an experienced soldier and administrator, who was called upon to deal with the crisis in the Ukraine. The grand vizier’s solution was to return Yurii Khmelnytsky, Khmelnytsky, Yurii the inept son of the famous Bohdan, who had been held as a hostage in Constantinople for the past six years, to the Ukraine. Despite Yurii’s record of incompetence, there was magic in the Khmelnytsky name, and Kara Mustafa made him hetman of the Right Bank, granting him the grandiloquent title of prince of Sarmatia and Ukraine, lord of the Zaporozhian Host.

With the Ottomans at peace with the Poles, Moscow Muscovy was now the principal threat to Ottoman overlordship on the steppes, and Kara Mustafa Paşa declared war. The first year of campaigning (1677) achieved little, although the contestants employed exceptionally large forces: The grand vizier’s troops were said to number 200,000 (probably an exaggeration), while the Muscovite commander was said to have 70,000 troops of his own and 50,000 Left-Bank Cossacks.

In 1678, the grand vizier had a better year. In August, he took Chyhyryn, his main objective, while permitting Yurii Khmelnytsky to make an incursion onto the Left Bank, which proved disastrous. There was more desultory fighting in 1679 and 1680, and the grand vizier gave orders for the construction of forts on the Bug and the Dnieper Rivers. However, there was nothing to be gained from further campaigning. Kara Mustafa had not enhanced his reputation, and he was already turning his attention to affairs in Hungary. In January, 1681, Ottomans and Muscovites negotiated the Treaty of Baghchiseray Baghchiseray, Treaty of (1681) through the auspices of the Crimean khan, Murad Giray Murad Giray (r. 1678-1683). There were no surprises: The Right Bank was recognized as an Ottoman dependency, and the Left Bank as Muscovite. Yurii Khmelnytsky was provided with compensatory territory in Podolia, but he mismanaged it horribly, and since the grand vizier no longer had any use for him, he was executed in Kamieniec-Podolski in 1685. He was replaced in 1687 by Ivan Stepanovich Mazepa Mazepa, Ivan Stepanovich .


Wasteful in troops and treasure, and with widespread devastation, the Ottoman-Muscovite Wars of 1677-1681, although militarily quite inconsequential, were significant as the culmination of a complex series of conflicts going back half a century and as the event that triggered Muscovy’s advance into the southern steppes. Although Kara Mustafa Paşa surely did not intend it, the Treaty of Baghchiseray marked the beginning of the Ottoman retreat from the northern littoral of the Black Sea.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Barker, Thomas M. Double Eagle and Crescent. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1967. Barker provides useful background to Kara Mustafa Paşa’s career.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kurat, A. N. “The Ottoman Empire Under Mehmed IV.” In The New Cambridge Modern History. Vol. 5. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1961. An excellent overview of the period.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Murphey, Rhoads. Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1700. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1999. Murphey’s work is very useful concerning seventeenth century Ottoman campaigning.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Shaw, Stanford J. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. 2 vols. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1976. The definitive history of the Ottoman Empire.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Stevens, Carol Belkin. Soldiers of the Steppe. De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1995. Stevens’s excellent work will help readers understand Muscovy’s southern advance.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine: A History. 3d ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000. The most authoritative history of the Ukraine in English.
Related Articles in <i>Great Lives from History: The Seventeenth Century</i>

Alexis; John III Sobieski; Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa; Bohdan Khmelnytsky; Ivan Stepanovich Mazepa; Stenka Razin; Sigismund III Vasa. Ottoman-Russian War (1677-1681)[Ottoman Russian War (1677-1681)]

Categories: History