Dmitry Pozharsky
For the ship of the same name, see Sverdlov class cruiser
Sverdlov class cruiser
The Sverdlov class cruisers, Soviet designation Project 68bis, were the last conventional cruisers built for the Soviet Navy; 13 ships were completed before Nikita Khrushchev called a halt to the programme as these ships were considered obsolescent with the advent of the guided missile...

Dmitry Mikhaylovich Pozharsky (October 17, 1577 - April 30 , 1642) was a Rurikid
Rurik Dynasty
The Rurik dynasty or Rurikids was a dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862 AD...

Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

, who led Russia's struggle for independence against Polish-Lithuanian invasion known as the Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history comprising the years of interregnum between the death of the last Russian Tsar of the Rurik Dynasty, Feodor Ivanovich, in 1598, and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. In 1601-1603, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third...

. He obtained from Mikhail I of Russia the unprecedented title Saviour of the Motherland.

Early career

Pozharsky was descended from a dynasty of sovereign princes which ruled the town of Starodub-on-the-Klyazma
Starodub-on-the-Klyazma was a prominent urban centre of Russian Opolye from the 12th until the 14th century. Like so many towns in the vicinity, it was named by migrating population for a southern city they came from, in this case, for Starodub in Severia. The town was located on the bank of the...

 near Suzdal
Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated northeast of Moscow, from the city of Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. Population: -History:...

. At one point in the 15th century their family patrimony burned to the ground, in consequence of which event they assumed the name of Pozharsky (from pozhar, the Russian word for conflagration
A conflagration or a blaze is an uncontrolled burning that threatens human life, health, or property. A conflagration can be accidentally begun, naturally caused , or intentionally created . Arson can be accomplished for the purpose of sabotage or diversion, and also can be the consequence of...

). It is interesting to note that Dmitry's mother came from the Beklemishev family, just like the mother of Mikhail Kutuzov, who would be credited with saving Russia precisely two centuries after him.

The family was never particularly prominent, and Pozharsky's early career was not documented until he took part in the Zemsky sobor
Zemsky Sobor
The zemsky sobor was the first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The term roughly means assembly of the land. It could be summoned either by tsar, or patriarch, or the Boyar Duma...

 which elected Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

 to the throne in 1598. Four years later, he was attested as a stolnik
Stolnik was a court office in Poland and Muscovy, responsible for serving the royal table.- Stolnik in Crown of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania : In Crown of Poland under the first Piast dukes and kings, this was a court office....

. When the Time of Troubles broke out upon Godunov's death, he was present at the defense of Kolomna
Kolomna is an ancient city and the administrative center of Kolomensky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Moskva and Oka Rivers, southeast of Moscow. The area of the city is about . The city was founded in 1177...

 (1608) and helped Vasily IV during the Siege of Moscow in 1609. Later that year, he routed the Bolotnikov
Ivan Bolotnikov
Ivan Isayevich Bolotnikov was the leader of a popular uprising in Russia in 1606–1607 known as the Bolotnikov rebellion . The uprising was part of the Time of Troubles in Russia.-Biography:...

 Cossacks at the Pekhorka River. In 1610, Pozharsky was in command at the defense of Zaraysk
Zaraysk is a town and the administrative center of Zaraysky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, situated about southeast from Moscow. Population: The town stands on the right bank of the Osyotr River, which is a right confluent of the Oka...

 against the forces of False Dmitry II
False Dmitry II
False Dmitry II , also called the rebel of Tushino, was the second of three pretenders to the Russian throne who claimed to be Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich of Russia, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible...


Struggle for independence

By that time, the popular indignation against abuses of the Polish aggressors had gained momentum. After Prokopy Lyapunov
Prokopy Lyapunov
Prokopy Petrovich Lyapunov was a Russian statesman of Rurikid stock, who helped deliver Moscow from Polish interventionists.After the death of Boris Godunov, Prokopy and his brother Zakhary Lyapunov sided with False Dmitriy I. In early 1606, he took part in the Bolotnikov Uprising on the side of...

 rallied the first Volunteer Army in Ryazan
Ryazan is a city and the administrative center of Ryazan Oblast, Russia. It is located on the Oka River southeast of Moscow. Population: The strategic bomber base Dyagilevo is just west of the city, and the air base of Alexandrovo is to the southeast as is the Ryazan Turlatovo Airport...

, Pozharsky promptly joined the cause of rebels. He took a prominent part in the first Moscow Uprising but was wounded on 19 March 1611 while defending his house at Lubyanka Square
Lubyanka Square
Lubyanka Square in Moscow is about north east of Red Square. The name is first mentioned in 1480, when Ivan III settled many Novgorodians in the area. They built the church of St Sophia, modelled after St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, and called the area Lubyanka after the Lubyanitsy district of...

 and was transported by his adherents to the Trinity for convalescence.

In autumn 1611, when Pozharsky was recuperating at his Puretsky patrimony near Suzdal
Suzdal is a town in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, situated northeast of Moscow, from the city of Vladimir, on the Kamenka River. Population: -History:...

, he was approached by a delegation of burghers who offered him to assume command of the second Volunteer Army then gathered in Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod , colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with the population of 1,250,615, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg...

. The prince agreed on condition that he will be assisted by Kuzma Minin, a representative of the Nizhegorod merchants.

Although the volunteer corps aimed at clearing the Polish and Lithuanian invaders out of Moscow, Pozharsky and his contingent marched towards Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl is a city and the administrative center of Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, located northeast of Moscow. The historical part of the city, a World Heritage Site, is located at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers. It is one of the Golden Ring cities, a group of historic cities...

 first. There they resided for half a year, vacillating until the opportunity for rapid action was gone. A man of devout disposition, Pozharsky fervently prayed before Our Lady of Kazan
Our Lady of Kazan
Our Lady of Kazan, also called Theotokos of Kazan , was a holy icon of the highest stature within the Russian Orthodox Church, representing the Virgin Mary as the protector and patroness of the city of Kazan. Copies of the image are also venerated in the Catholic Church...

, one of the holiest Russian icons, prior to advancing towards Moscow. Yet even then he proceeded so slowly and timorously, performing religious ceremonies in Rostov
Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

 and paying homage to ancestral graves in Suzdal, that it took him several months to reach the Trinity, whose authorities ineffectually besought to accelerate the progress of his forces.

Battle for Moscow

Finally, on 18 August 1612, the Volunteer Army encamped within five verst
A verst or werst is an obsolete Russian unit of length. It is defined as being 500 sazhen long, which makes a verst equal to 1.0668 kilometres ....

s from Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, just in time when Hetman Chodkiewicz
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz was a famous Lithuanian military commander and one of the most prominent noblemen of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.-Biography:...

 arrived with provisions to the relief of the Polish garrison barricaded within the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

. The very next day Pozharsky advanced to the Arbat Gate of the city and two days later he engaged with Chodkiewicz's contingent in a four-day battle. The outcome was in no small part due to decisive actions of Pozharsky's assistant, Prince Dmitry Trubetskoy
Dmitry Troubetskoy
Dmitry Timofeyevich Troubetzkoy , Prince, was the claimant to the Russian throne 1612, governor of Siberia, "duke of Shenkursk"....

, who captured the provisions intended for the Poles quartered in the Kremlin. As a result, a famine broke out among the Poles and they had to surrender to Pozharsky and Trubetskoy in October.

After war

Pozharsky and Trubetskoy presided over the Muscovite government for half a year, until a new tsar was elected by the Zemsky Sobor
Zemsky Sobor
The zemsky sobor was the first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The term roughly means assembly of the land. It could be summoned either by tsar, or patriarch, or the Boyar Duma...

, whereupon Pozharsky was made a boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

 and Trubetskoy was honoured even more highly. The Time of Troubles was now over, but minor risings couldn't be subdued for an extended period of time. In 1615, Pozharsky operated against the Lisowczycy
Lisowczycy or chorągiew elearska ; or in singular form: Lisowczyk or elear) - the name of an early 17th century irregular unit of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth light cavalry. The Lisowczycy took part in many battles across Europe and the historical accounts of the period characterized them as...

 and three years later he fell upon the forces of Vladislaus IV, yet the conservative system of mestnichestvo
In Russian history, Mestnichestvo was a feudal hierarchical system in Russia from the 15th to 17th centuries. Mestnichestvo revolved around a simple principle: the boyar who estimated that his origins were more ancient and his personal services to the tsar more valuable could claim a higher state...

 precluded him from taking supreme command in any of these engagements. He governed Novgorod in 1628-30 and fortified Moscow against an expected attack of the Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars or Crimeans are a Turkic ethnic group that originally resided in Crimea. They speak the Crimean Tatar language...

 in 1637. Pozharsky's last taste of battle came during the ill-fated Smolensk campaign
Smolensk War
The Smolensk War was a conflict fought between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia.Hostilities began in October 1632 when Tsar forces tried to recapture the city of Smolensk, a former Russian possession. Small military engagements produced mixed results for both sides, but the surrender...

, when he was relegated to secondary roles.

As soon as peace had been restored, Pozharsky was given some enviable posts in the Muscovite administration. Among other positions, he managed the Prikaz
Prikaz was an administrative or judicial office in Muscovy and Russia of 15th-18th centuries. The term is usually translated as "ministry", "office" or "department". In modern Russian "prikaz" means administrative or military order...

 of Transport in 1619, the Prikaz of Police in 1621-28 and the Prikaz of Moscow Judges in 1637-37 and 1640-42. He was summoned by the tsar to confer with the English ambassadors in 1617 and with the Polish ones in 1635. In recognition of his services, he was granted extensive estates around Moscow, where he commissioned several churches, interpreted in retrospect as monuments to his own victory against the Lithuanians and Poles during a dire crisis in the history of Russian statehood. One such tent-like church survives in his suburban estate of Medvedkovo. Another was the Kazan Cathedral in Moscow, adjoining Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

 from north-east, a direction whence Pozharsky's army arrived to salvage the Muscovites in 1612.


Pozharsky's family went extinct in 1672, upon the death of his granddaughter, who was married to Prince Yury Dolgorukov
Dolgoroukov is the name of a princely Russian family Dolgorukovs of Rurikid stock. Descendants of Mikhail of Chernigov, they took their name from one prince of Obolensk, whose sobriquet was Dolgorouky, or "Long-Armed" in Russian, alluding their lineage to the ancient Persian monarchy. Among its...

, the most famous Russian commander of the time. Yet his memory would be cherished by the Romanov
The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the February Revolution abolished the crown in 1917...

 dynasty which to a great extent owned the crown due to his prowess and skill. When patriotic feelings were on the rise during the Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, a bronze Monument to Minin and Pozharsky
Monument to Minin and Pozharsky
Monument to Minin and Pozharsky is a bronze statue on Red Square of Moscow, Russia in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral. The statue commemorates prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who gathered the all-Russian volunteer army and expelled the forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from...

 was erected on Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

. The day when Pozharsky and Minin entered the Moscow Kremlin as liberators was declared a national holiday in 2005.
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