Russian Conquest of Siberia (jul 1, 1580 – jan 1, 1689)


As the Spanish became richer and richer from their American exports, and the Portuguese became richer and richer from their Indian Ocean trades, it wasn't long before other European nations became interested in conquering "unclaimed land". The Tsardom of Russia was keenly interested in such an endeavour by the late 16th Century, however they lacked the means to travel across the ocean and reach the New World. Accepting this, Ivan IV decided to instead turn east and conquer the vast wilderness that was Siberia.

Over the centuries, Siberia had been occupied by various nomadic civilizations such as the Scythians, the Huns, and the Xiongnu. Eventually parts of Western and Central Siberia came under the control of the Mongol Empire but these gradually deteriorated and by the late 1500s the only remnant of the Mongols that existed was their descendants who made up part of the Khanate of Sibir in Western Siberia. The rest of the land was occupied by native Siberian tribes who lived a nomadic lifestyle based on farming horses and cattle.

In the July of 1580 a man by the name of Yermak Timofeyovich led around 800 men from the Russian Tsardom and into Siberian territory. Within two years they had conquered various tribes that made up the Sibir Khanate and captured the capital city of Qashliq. Russia remained in control of Siberian land as far as the Ural Mountains for another two years before the ruler of the Sibir, named Kuchum Khan, led a massive revolt against the Russians and pushed them back out of Qashliq.

The Russian armies though, quickly returned to Western Siberia in 1586 with reinforcements and waged various offensive campaigns against the Khanate tribes for the next twelve years. This time the Russians set up large forts as they went, to project their power over conquered regions. These forts were called "ostrogs" meaning "to shave the wood" in reference to them initially being built from wood and encircled with sharpened tree trunks. Many of these forts would later become large Russian cities such as Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk.

By the late 1680s the Russians had invaded much of the Siberian wilderness. Various ostrog forts were set up along the way which served as bases for further expansion, and ingenious tribes were quickly subjugated with tributes of fur being demanded from them.

Russian explorers reached the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 1647 establishing the Okhotsk settlement, and further exploration was made North reaching the furthest Eastern point of Siberia around 1689. Although smaller conquests and consolidations were made throughout the next two centuries, by the end of the 1600s Russia had grown by more than several million square km making it the largest country on Earth.

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jul 1, 1580
jan 1, 1689
~ 108 years


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