Concept

Battle of Orsha

Summary
The Battle of Orsha (Бітва пад Оршай, Oršos mūšis, bitwa pod Orszą, Битва під Оршею), was a battle fought on 8 September 1514, between the allied forces of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, under the command of Lithuanian Grand Hetman Konstanty Ostrogski; and the army of the Grand Duchy of Moscow under Konyushy Ivan Chelyadnin and Kniaz Mikhail Bulgakov-Golitsa. The Battle of Orsha was part of a long series of Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars conducted by Muscovite rulers striving to gather all the former Kievan Rus' lands under their rule. According to Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii by Sigismund von Herberstein, the primary source for information on the battle, the much smaller army of Lithuania–Poland (under 30,000 men) defeated a force of 80,000 Muscovite soldiers, capturing their camp and commander. These numbers and proportions have been disputed by some modern historians. At the end of 1512, the Grand Duchy of Moscow began a new war for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania's Ruthenian lands in present-day Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Albrecht I, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, rebelled and refused to give a vassal pledge to Sigismund I the Old of Poland-Lithuania, as required by the Second Peace of Thorn (1466). Albrecht I was supported by Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. The fortress of Smolensk was then the easternmost outpost of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and one of the most important strongholds guarding it from the east. It repelled several Muscovite attacks, but in July 1514 a Muscovite army besieged and finally captured it. Spurred on by this initial success, the Grand Prince of Moscow Vasili III ordered his forces farther into present-day Belarus, occupying the towns of Krichev, Mstislavl, and Dubrovna. Meanwhile, Sigismund the Old gathered some 35,000 troops, most of whom (57%) were Poles, for war with his eastern neighbor. His army was inferior in numbers, but consisted mostly of well-trained cavalry. The regular Polish army was commanded by Janusz Świerczowski.
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