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The Livonian War and the Mentality of the Russian Nobles1

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The Livonian War (1558-1583) was responsible for many innovations in Russian warfare. For the first time Russian troops conquered a European state which had a higher level of development than Muscovy. Russian nobles built their own world in Russian Livonia, and for the first time Russian troops were evacuated from another country after a long period of time. All these factors influenced the mentality of the Russian nobles. Nevertheless, the sources demonstrate something quite different, that the Livonian War did not change the mentality of the Muscovite nobles or their attitude toward service. That service was considered fairly routine and was regarded as familiar everyday military labor. In this respect, contemporaries did not separate the Livonian War from an endless succession of wars that shook Russia in the sixteenth century. Apart from the tsar’s early childhood, there were only three more or less peaceful years between 1547 and 1584; during the rest of Tsar Ivan IV’s reign, service people certainly could not complain about the lack of opportunities for military service. The Livonian War hardly impressed the Russian nobles or influenced their outlook on life.

Affiliations: 1: St. Petersburg State University, Russia,


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