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Main page / Museums and sightseeing in Veliky Novgorod / City of Military Glory Stele
City of Military Glory Stele
Garden Square of Military Glory
Veliky Novgorod

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City of Military Glory Stele was opened just before the 65th anniversary of the Victory Day. Granite ten-meter column, topped with the emblem of Russia, is placed in the centre of the square, close to the cinema “Rossiya”. On the forepart of its pedestal, there is a cartouche with the text of the Decree of the President about giving to Veliky Novgorod the title of the City of Military Glory. On the other side of the pedestal the emblem of the city is set. Four mini steles are placed at the corners of the square; one can see scenes of four historical periods of the military glory of Veliky Novgorod pictured on them: Ancient Rus, Moscow Kingdom, Russian Empire and Contemporary history.

The section of Ancient Rus shows Yaroslav-the-Wise going to Kiev with a crusade for the unity of Rus, Novgorodians repelling the attack of Vladimir-Suzdal troops, protecting Novgorod land from the Mongol invasion, and Alexander Nevsky with his armed force smashing German knights on Lake Peipus.

Later, in the days of Moscow Kingdom, when Rus was in Time of Troubles, the militia at the command of Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky from Veliky Novgorod went to help besieged Moscow. In a year Novgorod itself had to defend against the Swedes. The stele shows the deed of protopope Amos, “his children and people”: he refused to capitulate and was burnt alive by the Swedes. The next bas-relief demonstrates the reconstruction of the Novgorod Kremlin led by Peter the Great and metropolitan Job just before the beginning of the Great Northern War. Heroism of Novgorod troops in the Battle of Poltava is also shown here.

It was necessary to mention the brave Novgorod militia in the battles of the Patriotic War of 1812, the deed of the Life Guards of the Dragoon regiment in the Russo-Turkish War as well as merits of Novgorod army units in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I.

In the section of Contemporary history scenes from the Great Patriotic War are presented: Alexander Pankratov’s deed, who closed the barrel of the enemy machine-gun with his body during the battles for Novgorod; partisan war on the occupied territory of Novgorod and, of course, liberation of Novgorod by troops of the Volkhov front in the Novgorod-Luga operation. People of Novgorod, who perform their duty in military conflicts of the 20th and 21th centuries, are also not forgotten.

Architects: I. Voskresensky, G. Ishkildina, V. Perfiliev.
Sculptor: S. Shcherbakov

Bas-relief 1. 1016-1019 years. Yaroslav the Wise’s campaigns in the name of the unity of Rus.

One of the most important pages of the military history of Ancient Rus is the Novgorod Prince Yaroslav the Wise’s campaigns. After the death of his father, Prince Vladimir the Great, there was an internal war for the Kiev throne in Rus. Sviatopolk, one of Yaroslav’s brothers, organized the murder of his young brothers Boris and Gleb. Yaroslav was to have suffered the same fate. Rus faced the threat of disintegration into the feuding principalities. Meanwhile, Yaroslav gathered troops in Novgorod. Outrages committed by invited Scandinavian mercenaries, led to the conflict between the Prince and Novgorod people. After several skirmishes Yaroslav had to apologize to the citizens at the Veche and to encourage them to help in the fight against Sviatopolk. Reconciled with Yaroslav, Novgorod people started to support him in the struggle for the Kiev throne.

The decisive battle with Svyatopolk’s army took place in 1016 not far from Liubech. At night, Novgorod people crossed the Dnieper to the bank, occupied by the enemy, and pushed the boats away to deprive themselves of the opportunity to escape. Yaroslav’s army won in the ensued bloody battle. Sviatopolk fled to his allies, the Pechenegs, and Yaroslav entered Kiev, gifted Novgorod people generously and let them go home.

However, Svyatopolk, supported by the Polish King Boleslav, managed to retake Kiev. Miraculously escaped from the enemy’s hands, Yaroslav came to Novgorod and intended to make a getaway to the allies, Varangians, and only the determination of the Novgorodians stopped him. Having gathered a new army of Novgorod people, Yaroslav started a campaign again, defeated Svyatopolk at the battle on the Alta River and took Kiev, for good this time.

So, thanks to the active participation of Novgorod in the 11th century, the unity of Rus was saved twice.

Bas-relief 2. 1170. The Novgorod defence from Vladimir-Suzdal troops.

In the second half of the 11th century the period of strife among the princes began in Ancient Rus. Rich and independent Novgorod attracted princes, who were seeking the power and wealth. The first attempts to seize Novgorod were taken by the princes of Polotsk in the 11th century. They succeeded to sack the city twice, in 1021, and in winter of 1066-1067 years. The third time, in 1069, the Novgorodians were able to repel the attack.

In the following century the Novgorodians took an active part in the struggle of princes for the right of superiority in Rus. Princes of Suzdal were one of the main protagonists in this struggle, with whom Novgorod people had to meet repeatedly on the battlefield. The most significant event of this struggle for Novgorod was the siege of the city by Suzdal citizens. In winter of 1169-1170 years Mstislav, the son of Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, came to Novgorod with a large army, which also included warrior hosts of the allied Suzdal principalities. According to the legend, it was the miracle of Our Lady of the Sign icon: on the third night of the siege of the city, the archbishop John heard a voice, commanding him to carry the icon with the image of the Virgin out of the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior on Ilyina Street to the rampart. When the icon was there, Suzdal people began to shoot arrows, one of which hit the Virgin's face. Tears came out of her eyes, and then the Lord turned his wrath on Suzdal people: "they were attacked by the thrill and horror" and began to beat each other. The Novgorodians had only to rout them.

The veneration cult of the Our Lady of the Sign icon formed finally in the 14-15th centuries during the tension in the relationships between Novgorod and Moscow. Later this icon was perceived by Novgorod people as the protectress of the city and the patroness of its army. Its image was placed on the gonfalon of Novgorod militia in 1812. The Novgorodians blessed with this icon the quartered in the city regiments, who were going to campaign.

Bas-relief 3. 1238. The protection of the Novgorod land from the Mongol invasion. The heroic defence of Torzhok.
In the 13th century Ancient Rus was faced with the invasion, unprecedented for those times – the Mongol hordes attacked it. The conquerors ravaged the city cruelly, turning them into ruins. In the autumn of 1237, their troops invaded the Vladimir-Suzdal land, capturing Ryazan, Kolomna, Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal and Yaroslavl. The Novgorod land was supposed to be the next victim. However, Torzhok, which defended the borders of Novgorod possessions in the southeast, was in the path of the Mongol troops. At that time, it was quite a large and well-fortified trade and craft city.

On the 21th of February in 1238 the enemy forces led by Batu Khan and Subutai approached the walls of Torzhok. There was neither the Prince nor his retinue in the city at this time, and the city folk had to defend all alone. Posadnik Ivanko took charge of the defence. Torzhok citizens could oppose only their heroism to the numerical superiority of the Mongols and their great experience in sacking cities. The Mongols bombarded the city from the catapults called poroks for two weeks, and there was no help from Novgorod to Torzhok. The city had fallen by the 5th of March. Enemies captured the city, killed all its citizens and went to Novgorod. But this time invaders couldn’t achieve their goal. Coming up through frozen rivers and lakes to the Ignach Cross in two hundred kilometers from Novgorod, not far from the nowadays village Yazhelbitsy, the army of Batu Khan turned and went back to the steppe, exhausted by the previous battles.

Undoubtedly, Novgorod managed to avoid the enemy destruction greatly thanks to the heroism of the inhabitants of Torzhok, who took the last heavy hit from the Mongolian troops during this campaign. Sacrificing themselves and saving Novgorod, Torzhok people gave Novgorod the opportunity to save its economy and high culture for the future of Ancient Rus.

Bas-relief 4. 1242. Alexander Nevsky’s victory over German knights on Peipsi Lake.

For several centuries, Novgorod Land had been a defensive screen of Rus (Ancient Russia) from Swedish and German expansion. The most important victories of Novgorodians in the 13th century were connected with the name of a prince Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky.

In 1240 Novgorodians had to blunt the attack of two strong enemies. In the summer a Swedish troop suddenly appeared on the Neva river and camped at the mouth of the Izhora river. Alexander Yaroslavich decided not to wait for backup and rushed at the enemy with his troops and Novgorodians. In the ensued battle the Swedish forces were defeated. Thanks to this victory, the young prince went down in history as Alexander Nevsky.

Soon, the allied army of Teutonic Order, Dorpat bishop and the Danes invaded Russian lands. Izborsk and Pskov were occupied; German troops began to raid on Novgorod lands. At the same time a conflict between Novgorodians and Alexander Nevsky broke out and it was finished by Nevsky’s leaving the city in the winter of 1240-1241. Only after long negotiations Novgorodians managed to return the prince. In 1241 prince Alexander occupied a fortress Koporye, built by Germans, and liberated Pskov. A decisive battle took place on the ice of Peipsi Lake on April 5, 1242. After crushing defeat the Order troops stopped aggressive campaigns against Russian lands.

Battle of Racovor (or Battle of Wesenberg), which took place on February 18, 1268, was another victory over crusaders. An allied troops of princedoms of North-Eastern and North-Western Rus, led by Alexander Nevsky’s son, Novgorod prince Dmitry, and Pskov prince Dovmont, defeated German and Danish knights in the battle. This victory was the last confrontation of Russian army and German crusaders. After this battle the Order couldn’t threaten Rus severely any more.

Bas-relief 5. 1609-1610. A campaign of the militia commanded by M.V. Skopin-Shuisky to help besieged Moscow.

The beginning of the 17th century went down in history of Russian state as Time of Troubles. Domestic turmoils were aggravated by intervention of the Poles-foreigners and the Swedes in Russian affairs. Novgorod Land played a crucial role in the events of this difficult time.

In 1609 the government of tsar Vasily Shuisky made a treaty with the Swedish king. According to the treaty, in exchange for territorial concessions Sweden sent a hired corps to Russia for fighting with False Dmitry’s supporters and the Poles. The head of the detachment was a young military commander Jakob Delagardi. In April 1609 the Swedish corps came to Novgorod and joined a Russian detachment, led by Mikhail Vasilevich Skopin-Shuisky. At the beginning of May an allied Russian-Swedish troops from Novgorod neighborhood began a campaign against False Dmitry II, who had besieged Moscow. Soon his advanced detachments drove the impostor’s supporters back from Staraya Russa, and on June 17 defeated them in the battle near Torzhok. After a severe battle near Tver, Delagardi’s mercenaries rebelled and this caused retreat of corps back to Novgorod. The army of M.V. Skopin-Shuisky, who remained without an ally, approached Kalyazin, where he began to wait for the reinforcements. Here militiamen of different Russian lands joined the troop, and by the end of September Delagardi and his detachment came again. Further attack of allied forces finished on March 12, 1610 with solemn entry into liberated from the siege Moscow.

However, later events did not allow to consolidate the progress. In April 1610 M.V. Skopin-Shuisky died under mysterious circumstances. On June 24 Russian-Swedish troops suffered a crushing defeat from the Poles, and a considerable part of the mercenaries deserted to the enemy. In Jule, 1610, tsar Vasily Shuisky was deposed, and Delagardi started an open intervention in the north-west of the Russian state.

Bas-relief 6. 1611 – defence of Novgorod against the Swedes. The deed of protopope Amos, “his children and people”.
In May – July 1611 a representative of the first militia of Moscow Region, voivode Vasily Buturlin, came to Novgorod. He was ordered to get assistance from Jakob Delagardi in fighting against the Poles at any price. Several fortresses of Novgorod Land and even a promise to elect a Swedish king’s son as a Russian tsar should have become payment for this assistance. However, Novgorodians weren’t ready to make such a sacrifice, and the situation in the city got tense. On June 2, Delagardi’s troop encamped near St. Varlaam Convent, and in a month reached Novgorod, settled near Derevyanitsky monastery. People of the city, led by voivode Ivan Odoevsky, began to prepare for repelling an attack.

After confrontation, which took place on July 8, it became clear that war was inevitable. Novgorodians burnt suburban monasteries, cut out gardens and groves and locked themselves in fortresses. However, the besiegement lasted just for a few days. On July 16, Delagardi began an attack. Having pretended that the main blow would be inflicted in the northern part of the Sophia Side, he suddenly attacked the city elsewhere – at Chudintseva Tower. At this time “the guards at the walls were bad”, in addition, a traitor helped the Swedes – a bondman Ivan Shval, whom they had captured, got into the city and opened the gates. Garrison and the city’s people fought desperately.

A participant of the attack from the Swedish side Matvei Shaum wrote that “Russians had retreated to the towers on both sides of a rampart” and “had been shooting from the towers for a long time”. The battle was unequal, but stubborn: “The Germans threw off the Russians from the rampart and from one battlement to another, from one place to another”. Protopope of the St. Sophia Cathedral Amos Ivanovich became a symbol of heroic resistance. The brave protopope “locked in his yard with his advisers and fought with Germans much time and defeated many of them”. Refused to capitulate, he and his men were burnt alive by the Swedes. Voivode Ivan Odoevsky with the rest of the garrison consolidated in Detinets (the Kremlin). However, the forces were unequal and the fortress wasn’t ready to stand a long besiegement. On July 25, 1611, a peace treaty was signed and almost a six-year Swedish occupation of Novgorod began.

Bas-relief 7. 1700 year. Strengthening of the defense of Novgorod at the beginning of the Great Northern War led by Peter the Great and the Metropolitan Job.

At the end of the 17th century the Russian state, which was headed by the young and energetic Tsar Peter I, underwent the era of reformations. One of the most important tasks of the Tsar was to gain access to the Baltic sea. It was necessary to beat Sweden, which was one of the strongest powers in Europe at that time. Preparing for war, Peter began a radical reorganization of the army. In November 1699 he commanded to collect conscripts (peasant serfs and representatives of other classes, who were dependent on landowners) and “outlaws” (volunteers from the poor and personally free people) for the formation of the regular infantry regiments. In Novgorod the formation of the regiments was led by “the close boyar and voivoda” Ivan Trubetskoy.

After a few months, two newly formed regiments named after their commanders Ivan Kuloma and Roman Bryus were ready to rank off. On September 1, 1700 both regiments in the detachment of prince Trubetskoy left towards Narva. They had their baptism of fire in the notorious battle at this city, which took place on November 19 of the same year and ended in the defeat of the Russian army. In this battle the regiment of Ivan Kuloma fought bravely, but the commander was mortally wounded in battle. The failure near Narva forced Peter I to take urgent measures on strengthening of Novgorod, which was under threat of the Swedish siege. There were 20 thousand people of Repnin's division and the remnants of the infantry, which had retreated from Narva.

Peter I personally supervised the defensive works. All the wooden "mansions" in the Kremlin were demolished by his order; there was the reconstruction of the city fortifications. Although that time the threat of the Swedish siege had passed Novgorod, it was a major operating base for the Russian army at the initial stage of the Great Northern war for several years. The victorious conclusion of the war and the incorporation of the Baltic lands to the Russian state shifted significantly the boundary line to the West. Since that time Novgorod fortress lost its defensive significance.

Bas-relief 8. 1709 year. The Heroism of the Novgorod troops in the Battle of Poltava.

Four regiments – 2 infantry and 2 dragoons – formed in Novgorod took part in the battles of the Great Northern war. The famous Battle of Poltava of 1709 also appeared in the military annals. At the beginning of the battle regiment of Inglis (the regiment of Ivan Kulom formed in Novgorod in 1700 was called so after the death of its first commander near Narva) was in the fortified camp, then participated in the attack on a convoy of Swedish Major General C.G. Ross in the forest of the village Yakovtsi, and then in the pursuit of its residues. The convoy of six infantry battalions separated from the main forces of the Swedish army after the attack on the Russian redoubts and moved to Yakovetski forest where it was attacked by the Russian detachment of Lieutenant General Renzel. In a short but bloody battle, the Swedish detachment was almost completely destroyed.

The natives of the Novgorod land also formed two dragoon regiments. In June 1702 by decree of Peter I courtiers were sent to Novgorod, as well as to Vodskaya, Derevskaya, Bezhetskaya, Obonezhskaya and part of the Shelonskaya pyatinas, to Tver, Novy Torzhok and Starichi. Their task was to overview and explore all noblemen, children of boyars and various horse people of different ranks, and to send those, who were able-bodied for horse service, to Ladoga to the the voivoda and close okolnichy P.M. Apraksin for formation of dragoon regiments. The dragoons also had to cross weapons with the Swedes at Poltava.

Novgorod regiment was on the left flank and participated in a cruel cavalry battle. The cavalry sergeant-major Ivan Ushakov, who got a jolt with a broadsword on the head, was made an officer for the honors. The cavalry sergeant-major Abraham Antonov distinguished himself, by the fact that he had taken the Swedish flag in the battle. The evening of the same day, the dragoons took part in the pursuit of the remnants of the Swedish army. Further the regiments created in Novgorod had more than one battle of the Great Northern war, and they participated in other wars that Russia waged in the 18th - early 20th century.

Bas-relief 9. 1797 – 1799 years. Alexander Suvorov in the Novgorod land before the Alpine campaign.

The name of the greatest Russian Commander Alexander Suvorov is connected with the Novgorod province. There were two estates of the commander in the Novgorod region – in Kamenka (the territory of modern Lyubytinsky District) and in Konchanskoe (Borovichesky District). In Konchanskoe A.V. Suvorov spent almost 2 years being there in exile in 1797-1799 years. The commander went to his last and most famous campaign from this estate. In 1798 Russia joined the anti-French coalition, and in the following year Alexander Suvorov was appointed the commander of the allied Russian-Austrian army in Northern Italy. Fighting in Switzerland and Northern Italy, Russian armies under A. Suvorov's command won brilliant victories on the rivers Adda and the Trebbia and near the city of Novi, and crossed the Alps. The higher in the Russian Empire military title of Generalissimo was conferred to A. V. Suvorov for services during this campaign. Soon after returning from a campaign on the 6 of May, 1800 the commander died and was buried in the Annunciation Church of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

The name of Alexander Suvorov became one of the symbols of Russian military glory. In 1904 the Museum of Suvorov was opened in St. Petersburg. The monuments of the commander were built throughout Russia and abroad. The Order of Suvorov was established in 1942, and Suvorov Military Schools – in 1943. In the Novgorod land the name of the commander was immortalized in 1879 year by establishment of the Home for Invalids for fifty elderly warriors in Kamenka and by the opening of the memorial museum-estate of A.V. Suvorov in Konchanskoe village.

Bas-relief 10. 1812. Valiant Novgorod militia in the battles of the Patriotic War
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