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The Zemshina Territorial Army and Liberation of Moscow
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The Zemshina Territorial Army and Liberation of Moscow

The first Zemshina (Ryazan) Territorial Army (1611).

After the capture of Moscow by Poles Russia faced the threat of loss of its national independence. However, the great ravage of the Russian Land caused a high rise of a patriotic movement. The Ryazan Voevode Prokopy Lyapunov and the Russian Orthodox Church in the person of Patriarch Germogen dispatched official letters to Russian cities calling for help.

Prokopy Lyapunov became the organizer of the first national (Zemshina) Territorial Army, which marched out to Moscow in the beginning of March, 1611. On March 19 muscovites excited rebellion. Street fights flared up. The interventionists began to lose positions. They set Moscow on fire. The city was reduced to ashes. The Polish garrison sheltered behind the walls of the Kremlin and Kitay-Gorod.

When the Territorial Army approached Moscow, they found only the ashes. Lyapunov was joined by Tushino noblemen led by D.T. Trubetskoy and cossacks under command of Ataman Ivan Zarutsky. They laid the siege of the enemy garrison. Prokopy Lyapunov was killed by cossacks in June, 1611. The first Zemshina Territorial Army broke apart. Only Cossacks stayed under the capital.
In the meantime Sigizmund III seized exhausted Smolensk. The Swedes started negotiations with the Novgorod nobility about the recognition of the son of the Sweden King Charles-Phillip as the Russian Tsar.

The second Zemshina (Nizhniy Novgorod) Territorial Army (1612).

The Russian State had neither central government, nor army, and was on the verge of the national catastrophe. But it did not happen. All people of Russia rose to oppose the Polish-Swedish intervention.

It was Nizhni Novgorod that united people for the battle. Here, in October the Zemshina head Kuzma Minin-Sukhoruk, a petty tradesman who sold meat and fish, addressed the townspeople with an appeal to create a national army to liberate Moscow. The patriotic appeal met immediate response of population of Nizhny Novgorod. They decided to give one third of personal property on creation of the army. Under the initiative of Minin 'the Council of the Whole Land" was formed. It became the Provisional Government. Prince D.M. Pozharsky, who showed a lot of military talent during the Moscow revolt against the Poles, was offered a position of the Zemshina Army commander. In the beginning of March, 1612 the Territorial Army started a campaign against Moscow through Yaroslavl that became a base station.

In the end of August, 1612 the army of Minin and Pozharsky approached the capital. On August 22-24 a violent battle against the King's army commanded by Hetman Hotkevich took place under the walls of Moscow. Hotkevich was to help the besieged garrison. The Poles were completely defeated. The Kremlin garrison of interventionists capitulated on October 26. The capital of Russia was liberated. Complexity of political situation in Rech Pospolitaya and lack of finance for the next military campaign forced Sigizmund III to abandon the claims for the Russian throne for a time.

Liberation of Moscow allowed to restore the government in the country.
The Zemshina Council was gathered in the capital in January, 1613. It included 700 representatives of nobility, boyards, clergy, streletses and Cossacks of 50 cities. They were to solve a question of election of a new Russian tsar. Finally they elected a sixteen-year-old Mikhail Romanov (1613-1645), the son of Metropolitan Filaret.

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