The Great Northern War and How 2 Fisherman Saved Arkhangelsk

in #history3 years ago (edited)

novodvinsk from the sea.jpg

The Little Known Engagement of Great Importance

Changing gears again from movies to history. I was doing some research for an article I'm writing for work on the Great Northern War. What, you haven't heard of the Great Northern War (GNW for those that know of it)? Of course you haven't. If you're not a Swede, Russian, or Pole it wasn't part of your history classes.

Great Northern War Novodvinsk.png

In any event, I was looking into the naval battles during the war and came across this nice little story. I found it charming enough to go ahead an write a short post on it tonight before going to bed. Afterall, I needed to get an article posted on Steemit and this seemed like some fun material.


So here goes. The GNW was fought primarily between the Russians and Swedes at the latter part of the 17th century and early part of the 18th century. It also included other nations like the Danes, Poles, and even the Ottomans, but for our short little post tonight, we are going to talk about a Swedish plan to cut the Russians off from trade in the North.

Artist depiction of Novodvinsk Fortress in 1700

You see, before 1700, the Russians didn't really have a navy. They had no ports. They had river craft, but nothing that could compete with the Ships of the Line, Frigates, or even Galleys of other European nations. However, Peter the Great was very big on ships and sailing and his desire for Russia was for it to be a true European power. Therefore, it needed a real navy.

In order to have a real navy, one needs to have a port that can function most of the year. Fortunately for the Russians, they defeated the Swedes in the area that is now St. Petersburg and they were able to develop a port. Of course, they still didn't have a sizable navy. At least not one that could contend with Charles XII of Sweden. The Swedes conveniently were blockading Russia from getting any outside materials through the Baltic Sea. So, Russia was importing goods through its northern harbor of Arkhangelsk (Ark Angel in English).

novodvinsk wall.jpgThe Remnants of the Wall of the Fortress Today

The Swedes decided that they couldn't allow this to happen so they sent a fleet of about 7 to 8 ships around Norway to the White Sea and towards the port of Arkhangelsk in order to take control of the city and effectively cut off the Russians. The fleet arrived in the area in June of 1701.

In order to sail in these waters, the Swedish captains needed some locals with some knowledge of the waterways in and around Arkhangelsk so their ships wouldn't run aground. So, they sent a recon group of ships with some soldiers to go and capture some local fisherman from the area and force them to help navigate the difficult waters in the area.

novodvinks 2.jpgView of the White Sea from Atop the Wall at Novodvinsk

Enter our 2 Russian heroes - Ivan Sedunov and Dmitry Popov. These two men both independently guided 2 of the 3 recon vessels directly into shoals within site of a Russian fort named Novodvinsk. Of course, in June this far north it is light nearly all day so the the artillery at the fort immediately spotted the ships and began firing on them.

The captain of one ship was mortally wounded and the crews of both abandoned their vessels and went aboard the 3rd vessel, which made a hasty retreat. The locals were alerted to the presence of the Swedes and began to prepare a defense.

Novodvinsk_Fortress1.jpgThe Main Building of the Fortress Today

The Swedish commander, Commodore Karl Lewe, decided against any further engagement as he had already lost two ships and the Russians were aware of his presence. He took his remaining ships and sailed back to Sweden. The Russians took possession of the two Swedish ships, repaired them, and they became part of the new Russian Navy.

Russian Ship "Poltova".jpgRussian ship "Poltava" 1703

Russia would go on to defeat the Swedes and take control of most of the Northern regions in the Eastern Baltic Sea. In the end, Russia established itself as a naval power by developing a fleet of it own and proving itself capable on sea and land. Peter the Great would also become one of the most iconic and memorable leaders in all of Russian and European history.

Now, don't you feel smarter? No, nobody seems to know what happened to the 2 fisherman. We know their names, but I can't find anything else about them. Now you should read something about the GNW

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beer best purple.jpggraphic by @habeebability

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Reading is incredible, I would never think that the beginnings of the Russian Navy were to take, conquer and repair two ships ... I hope your next article, these simple stories are the ones I like.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Unfortunately, not all my posts are like this one. They vary quite a bit based on my time and mood. :) I do hope you will continue to stop by regardless. All the best.

I don't know about 'smarter' but thanks for decreasing the many wide gaps in my knowledge. You provided an outline for an historical novel which I, for one, would enjoy reading.

I often think about writing a novel, but I'm so boring that I think I should stick to non-fiction. lol Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. I am so glad I found you through the #payitforward contest.

Your knowledge of Russian history probably surpasses many natives there if their youth and education system is anything near as bad as ours. If reincarnation is real, you must have been Russian in a previous life.

No need to answer this next musing of mine, but I have to admit to being curious how work in the energy field has you researching historic naval battles. You are an interesting man and hope one day you will write a book on your life. I have a feeling it would not be boring.

Haha. I am going to stop contracting with energy companies. It was too much of a "feast or famine" routine. Every summer I get less work from them because everyone takes so much vacation. Same thing happens over the winter holidays.

I was offered a job to be the editor of an online History magazine and I jumped at the chance. They found me when I advertised the Lake BBQ a month ago and then they read through my Steemit posts. Then they asked to meet and offered me the job. It was very quick. American company whose British owner lives here in St. Petersburg. I can work from home or anywhere where I have internet and they pay me in dollars. It's dreamy.

So, in the end my Steemit work has produced a positive outcome (which is good because my SP keeps going up and the value of my account keeps going down).

Sorry for the delay in responding. Crazy week with the BBQ. We had 180 people come and I had to feed 150 of them. It was quite a bit of work. ;)

Sorry for the delay in responding. Crazy week with the BBQ. We had 180 people come and I had to feed 150 of them. It was quite a bit of work. ;)

I am so glad you are ok. It wasn't like you to be MIA for so long, and I had planned on asking @thedarkhorse shortly if he had heard from you on Discord. Glad the BBQ business is continuing to grow for you.

Congrats on the editor job. Now I can lay to rest my wonder if you were an international spy undercover in the energy field while you dissected weaknesses from studying historical battles and such, hahahaha. I hope you find the work rewarding. I have always been impressed at not only how many facts you present us, but how cleanly you do so. If you ever need supplementary work you should look into editing for self publishing authors. I never needed them for the drivel I wrote, and came to understand many in my audience had a worse grasp than I do on English mechanics. But some of these higher end authors are paying 1k-5k per novel for professional editing.

There you go, I learnt something today. Although I have to say my knowledge of European history is a little thin to begin with!

Although I did know about Peter the Great coming to visit Netherlands to get more information on ship building (at least, I think that story is true?).

Thanks for stopping by and sorry for the late response.

Yes, you are absolutely correct about Peter's interest in the Netherlands and not just for ship building. His engineers studied the designs of the canals and dams and Peter hired civil engineers to come to St. Petersburg and help build the city.

Thanks again for the comment. Talk to you soon.

как всегда с огромной благодарностью за ваш исторический пост. Вы написали об Архангельске, это областной центр Архангельской области. Я же родилась в Северодвинске, который находится непосредственно на берегу Белого моря. Ранее закрытый город для иностранцев. И даже, если посмотреть Атлас карт за 1960-1990 годы моего города не было на карте. Сейчас изменилось многое...

Привет всем! Да, я точно знаю, где это, но, конечно, я еще не был там. Я не понимал, что ты с севера. Я должен был расспросить вас об этом раньше. У меня так много друзей из Архангельска и Корашмы. Спасибо, что остановились и прочитали мои сообщения. Мне нравится слышать ваши мысли о них.

Good to see that you are back with one more historical piece and, thanks for these historical inputs and i really liked the original art work of 1700's. Thanks for sharing this post with us and wishing you an great day. Stay blessed. 🙂

I'm glad you continue to stop by @chireerocks! It's always good to hear from you.

Thank you. 🙂

Good information. Your article all most informative. thanks.

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