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A condition forwarded by Sigismund in negotiations with the Great Embassy that arrived from Moscow was unconditional surrender of Smolensk. The king received confidential news from Poland about the subjects’ decision to deprive him of the throne unless he gets Smolensk; Sigismund for a long time because of that did not allow his son to travel to Moscow until the Poles fully gained Smolensk. Sigismund’s ambassadors and Muscovites supporting Vladislav by promises or threats strived to impel Smolensk dwellers to surrender, but the garrison and townspeople suffering from hunger and famine, dying of the enemies’ cannon balls and diseases altogether refused to yield to any negotiations, making their minds, “to die all, but never to bow down to the king and his landlords.”

Having refused to obey the requirements of Moscow government, voivode Shein found himself in full political isolation and was forced to take his chances by taking onto himself full responsibility. In order to maintain military discipline in the difficult conditions of the besieged fortress, when it was hard to expect any assistance from within, voivode Shein took strict measures. Probably he was the first one who in the history of Russian army applied the practice of executions – in particular, for absence at guard time (noble men usually sent instead of themselves their servants to the fortress guard service). The tension of struggle required of the Russian servicemen absolute self-refusal.

One of the participants of the Smolensk siege 1609-1611, a Polish officer S. Maskevich wrote, “the Smolensk walls were erected by an experienced engineer in such an smart way that they had secret underpasses beneath, which allowed Russians to hear where we were making saps. As the Muscovites used these they either undermined them or attacked the Polish men taking them captive or suffocating men with earth.”
By 1611, in the fortress due to military actions and illnesses only about 400 men survived. Their destiny was to guard the entire fortress wall stretching along for 6.4 kilometers. The power of the defenders exhausted day by day. The city’s fortune was predetermined. In the very beginning of June the Poles attempted a decisive storm striking simultaneously on many sides. The adversary broke into the streets of the city where a fierce fight occurred. In the History of the Russian State by N. M. Karamzin there is an episode describing the last hours of the Smolensk defenders, “they fought for a long time among the ruins, on the walls, in the streets of the city at the ringing of church bells and sacred singing in churches where old men and women prayed. The Poles having dominance all over the city yearned to possess the main temple of the Holy Virgin built by Monomakh where many townspeople and merchants locked themselves.” As tradition has it, seeing that there was no salvation town’s man Belyavin set on fire his own storage house near the Assumption Cathedral. A terrible explosion destroyed all the buildings on the Cathedral Mountain; most of the cathedral was torn down; many women and children remained under the debris of the building. The historian continues to say the following, “because of the terrible explosion, thunder and crashing the adversary froze and forgot for a while his victory with terror seeing the entire city on fire, into which the dwellers threw everything they had and even threw themselves, so that the adversary would have nothing but ashes alone and beloved Motherland would have an example of sheer virtue. On the streets and in the squares burned corpses lay strewn… Not Poland, but Russia could celebrate that day, which was so great in its history.”
Shein for a long time bravely struggled against the adversary with a group of his comrades in the Kolomenskaya Tower and did not like to surrender. Only when the hopelessness of their situation became obvious the hero of Smolensk defense, giving in to the exhortations of his wife who was fearing for the life of the children, ceased resistance. The steadfastness of the Smolensk voivode ensued admiration in the eyes of the adversary; a Polish chronicler called Shein a “Russian Hector” in this way comparing Smolensk to the ancient Troy.
Wounded Shein was severely tortured; the Poles wanted to gain from him knowledge about the Smolensk treasury rumors of which spread throughout the entire Polish camp. Having gained nothing, the Poles put the voivode in chains and together with his family sent him into Polish captivity.

After Smolensk was seized uniats and Catholics began to arrive to the city. The order of Bazillian-uniats as well as Jesuits and Dominicans under Polish authorities gained more rights. They established in Smolensk their services; opened klyashtory in former Orthodox monasteries and churches. In this way, for instance, the renowned Avraamievsky monastery was turned into a Dominican klyashtor; and the sacred relics of reverent Avraamy were destroyed. The icons and church items were sent to Poland and Lithuania. Polish general Janusz Radziwill brought from Smolensk into Konigsberg library a magnificent illustrated chronicle with colored miniatures. Sometimes history is unjust – nowadays this monument of old Russian literature in scientific circles is known as the Chronicle of Radziwill – named after the man who stole it.

Moscow did not put up with the loss of Smolensk. And when in 1632 king Sigizmund died, turmoil began in Poland; great army was in a hurry sent to Smolensk headed by boyar Shein who came back from captivity in Poland in 1618. The number of foreigners in the Russian army reached up 7,000 people.
In the beginning of December of 1632 the city was blocked and surrounded.

The Moscow army built in the surrounding areas fortifications with warm houses; big earthworks were erected; holes were dug. In other words, Shein was thoroughly preparing for a long-term siege well knowing that Smolensk fortress could not be seized right away. The siege lasted nine long months.
At first, there were no signs of a coming catastrophe. Since March of 1633, when finally special troops came with heavy siege mortars, the Moscow army began to regularly storm the Smolensk fortress. Especially fierce battles were waged between Nickolskie and Molohovskie gates where, according to testimonies of witnesses, Russian mortars shot six hundred times a day. At that period of the war as the result of saps and shootings several towers of the fortress were destroyed; the soldiers of Shein made desperate attempts to break into the wall but the Poles boldly held their ground.

The Poles under the siege were about to run out of food, powder, cannons. Their traitors told Shein that the fortress was about to surrender. But by the summer of 1633, political situation in Poland stabilized;
Sigismund’s son, Vladislav, won the Polish throne and right away ordered that 23,000 army should march to rescue the besieged garrison of the Smolensk fortress. In August, when king Vladislav’s army appeared at the walls of Smolensk the situation drastically changed in favor of the Poles. Fierce fighting occurred on the Pokrovskaya mountain. The Polish horsemen managed to seize weak fortifications behind the Dnepr and to come to the bridge across the Dnepr, thus deblocking the besieged garrison of the fortress.

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