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Battle of Kletsk
Part of the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
Klecak. Клецак (1578).jpg
DateAugust 6, 1506
Locationnear Kletsk
Result Decisive Lithuanian victory
Belligerents
Grand Duchy of Lithuania Crimean Khanate
Commanders and leaders
Michael Glinski Fetih I Giray and Burnaş I Giray
Strength
7,000 20,000

The Battle of Kletsk (Belarusian language: Бітва пад Клецкам, Lithuanian language: Klecko mūšis ) was fought on August 6, 1506, near Kletsk (now in Belarus), between the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led by Court Marshall of Lithuania Michael Glinski, and the army of the Crimean Khanate, led by Fetih I Giray and Burnaş I Giray, sons of the Khan of Crimea, Meñli I Giray. The battle was one of the greatest Lithuanian victories over the Tatars.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

The Lithuanians had allied themselves with Hacı I Giray, founder of the Crimean Khanate. However, in the 1480s his son Meñli I Giray allied himself with the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which had long been an enemy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[1] During the Muscovite–Lithuanian War of 1503, the Crimean Tatar armies pillaged Grand Duchy's southern towns of Slutsk, Kletsk, and Nyasvizh and even threatened the capital city of Vilnius. Alexander Jagiellon, Grand Duke of Lithuania, then ordered the construction of a defensive wall around his capital; it was completed in 1522.[1]

About the same time, conflicts in the Lithuanian Council of Lords began to emerge between quickly-rising Michael Glinski and Jan Zabrzeziński. In the summer of 1506, Grand Duke Alexander's health deteriorated and he decided to convene a Seimas in Lida so that he could transfer the Lithuanian throne to his brother Sigismund I. But the convention was disrupted on July 25 by news of a Tatar invasion. According to scout reports, about 20,000 Tatars looted the neighborhood of Slutsk and approached Navahrudak and Lida.[2] Alexander left for Vilnius after putting Stanisław Kiszka, Great Hetman of Lithuania, and Glinski in charge of the defense.[1]

Battle[edit | edit source]

The Lithuanians quickly gathered 7,000 men in Navahrudak. Meanwhile, the Tatars established their main camp near Kletsk and sent half of their force in smaller groups to pillage surrounding areas.[2] On August 3, the Lithuanians learned the location of the Tatar camp and marched all night towards Kletsk, covering a distance of about 80 kilometres (50 mi). The march exhausted Kiszka, who fell ill; command of the Lithuanian army passed to Glinski.

The Tatar camp lay in a strong defensive position between the Lan River and its tributary Tsapra.[2] The Tatars were warned of the approaching Lithuanian army and were ready for battle.[3] The heavy Lithuanian cavalry could not cross the rivers and their swampy banks. Glinski therefore split his army in half, so that he might attack the Tatars from two sides, and built two pontoon bridges across the rivers as the combatants exchanged artillery fire.[3]

However, Glinski's political rival Jan Zabrzeziński did not trust Glinski's command and, against orders, attacked the Tatars as soon as one of the bridges was completed on August 6.[2] The small detachments of Zabrzeziński's men were quickly defeated and the Tatars mockingly displayed their severed heads. This enraged the right wing of the Lithuanian army, which promptly attacked in full force. That prompted the Tatars to concentrate their full force against the Lithuanian right wing, leaving only weak defenses against the Lithuanian left wing, which delayed its attack.[2] When Glinski led the left wing forward to the assault, the Lithuanians easily broke through the defenses and attacked the main Tatar forces from the rear. The Tatar army was split in half: one half was surrounded and defeated while the other retreated.[2]

The Lithuanians pursued the retreating Tatars; it was said that more Tatars died retreating across Tsapra than in the battle.[3] The Lithuanians achieved a victory and recovered much booty and many prisoners taken by the Tatars. For few more days, the Lithuanians waited for Tatar contingents returning to the camp from having pillaged Lithuanian villages and countryside.[1]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

On August 12, 1506, victorious Michael Glinski entered Vilnius. In honor of the victory, Mikołaj II Radziwiłł sponsored the construction of the Church of Saint George on the bank of Neris River.[3] But when Grand Duke Alexander Jagiellon died on August 19, Zabrzeziński accused Glinski of having conspired to murder the dead ruler.[2] Glinski fell from royal favor and began an anti-Lithuanian revolt, murdering Zabrzeziński and allying with the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

The revolt became part of the renewed Muscovite–Lithuanian War. Khan Meñli I Giray of the Crimea now severed his long-standing alliance with Moscow, because of the Muscovite campaign against Kazan, and allied himself with Lithuania.[4] Lithuanian Grand Duke Sigismund I received an iarlyk for the Russian territories of Novgorod, Pskov, and Ryazan.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 53°01′05″N 26°42′11″E / 53.018119°N 26.702929°E / 53.018119; 26.702929

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