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Konrad Bobiatyński. A panorama of attitudes of the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the time of Moscow aggression in 1654-1655

The invasion of Russian troops on the Commonwealth in 1654 and their uncontrolable force of attack were caused mainly by the negligence of Lithuanian officials responsible for defending state borders. Recognizing the impossibility of defense, inhabitants of many borders cities and villages accepted the tsar’s supremacy without resistance.

Among country towns, only Vicebsk, Smalensk and Mњcislaŭ tried to resisted longer time. Mainly townpeople took firm actions against the aggression, while gentry escaped or wanted to accept submission of the tsar’s.

Very interesting was an example of Mahyleŭ, one of the most rich towns in the borderlands of Lithuania, which surrendered after 10 days of the negotiations. Very important for this city was the recognition of economic advantages of belonging to Russia. Also the poor inhabitants and Orthodox clergy wanted to get inside tsar’s state borders.

After long defense, the private fortressed — Hory and Dubroŭna – had to capitulate too. Only big private towns — Old Bychaŭ, Sluck, Lachavičy — with the large fortifications and garrisons, survived the all or nearly all war period.

The attitude of the inhabitants has changed dramatically soon after a short period of Russian occupation, marked with rapes, robberies and murders. At the yime of Lithuanian’s counteroffensive in winter-spring 1655, in the areas occupied by the Russian, partisan units were formed. Peasantry played the decisive part in them and they were actually very helpful to Lithuanian. Only Mahyleŭ inhabitants stayed loyal to tsar,

but this city had to pay a terrible price for your attitude. Most of its population died in the time of the three months siege by the Lithuanian troops in 1655.

As a result of the Russian counteroffensive in summer 1655, people involved in partisan actions generally tried to escape to territories still unoccupated or gave themselves over as Russian serfs. The Russian troops attack once again did not encounter much resistance. This time the tsar ordered to treat civilians more decently, probably trying to outbid the relatively lenient Swedish approach.