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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 9 September 2018

Muscovy's Soldiers

I am enjoying Helion's 'Century of the Soldier' series, with my latest read being 'Muscovy's Soldiers: The Emergence of the Russian Army 1462-1689', by Michael Fredholm Von Essen.

The format of the series has a nodding resemblance to the Osprey format, with extensive illustrations and colour plates. The difference is the more detailed text.

In this book, the author starts with a background to the army of Muscovite Russia and the reforms of Ivan IV (The Terrible). This army has elements of the late medieval, with feudal forces of heavy and light cavalry, together with the emergence of paid troops. These include the Streltsy matchlock men and Ivan's personal army, the black coated Oprichniki. As well as tribal forces, this was the period when foreign mercenaries began to make an appearance.

The book largely skips over the 'Time of troubles' and moves on to the army of the Romanovs. This included the new formation regiments, which were the beginning of the modern army on western lines. The Muscovy economy placed some restrictions on the full adoption of western structures, but infantry, Dragoons Hussars and Reiters all took their place in the army. This was also the time peasant conscription was used to supplement hereditary service.

The final chapters cover the expansion of the state into something closer to what we would recognise as Russia today. To the south into the Caucasus and east into Siberia. This required different types of troops to western Russia and many tribal allies.

The author concludes with the army just prior to Tsar Peter's reforms. He argues that these reforms rested on the legacy of previous reforms.

Each chapter outlines the campaigns of the period to analyse how effective each stage of reform was.

This is an army I have never collected, although the foreign regiments are little different from their western versions and I have Cossacks. So a few Streltsy and cavalry should make a decent game of Pikeman's Lament.

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