The Battle of the Siritsa River - 1501
The Battle of the Siritsa River (also Seritsa)
took place on 27 August 1501 between the forces of the Livonian Order under Grand Master Wolter von Plettenberg on the one
side and the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow and Pskov Republic on the other. The Russian forces were soundly defeated.
Grand Prince Ivan III of Russia pursued expansionist policies, which strained Moscow's relations with Livonia. In 1492, Moscow
built Ivangorod Fortress opposite of Narva and two years later closed down the Hanseatic office in Novgorod.
Hanseatic merchants, most of them Livonians, were imprisoned. The trade through Tallinn and Tartu diminished significantly.
During the Russo-Swedish War (1495–1497), Sweden captured Ivangorod and offered it to Livonia, an offer which was
refused. Moscow perceived that as a Swedish–Livonian alliance. As negotiations failed, Livonia began preparing for
war. In May 1500, a war broke out between Moscow and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. On 17 May 1501, Livonia and Lithuania
concluded a ten-year alliance in Vilnius. In August 1501, von Plettenberg led a Livonian army, reinforced with 3,000 mercenaries
from Lübeck, towards Pskov.
The armies met on
27 August 1501 on the Siritsa River, 10 km south from Izborsk, on the western approaches to
Pskov. The Pskovian regiment attacked the Livonians first but was thrown back. The Livonian artillery then destroyed the
remainder of the Muscovite army despite a Russian attempt to reply with their own, insufficient, artillery force. In the
battle, the smaller Livonian army defeated the Muscovite army (drawn from the cities of Moscow, Novgorod
and Tver as well as from Pskov – which was not formally part of Muscovy until 1510) in large part due to the Order's
formidable artillery park and the Russians' significant shortage of guns of any kind. The defeat prompted Moscow
to modernize its army by creating standing infantry units armed with arquebus. Livonian troops then captured Ostrov and unsuccessfully
besieged Pskov. The Russians retaliated by invading and plundering eastern Livonia and defeating the Order at Helmed near
Dorpat. The Order won a victory at the Battle of Smolin in September
1502. The war ended in 1503 when Lithuania sued for peace. Peace between Livonia and Moscow lasted until the Livonian War