Peter I in Narva

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23. September 1700

In the morning of 23 September Peter I (on photo) arrived to Narva personally to start to manage the besiege works. The contravallation line was established which isolated the besieged garrison and had to protect against the Swedish sallies.

The Russians built the circumvallation line just some hundreds of meters outside to protect themselves against the unlimited helping troops. Both semicircle lines reaching from Joala up to Vepsküla cut with the river on both ends. Also, the zigzag run ditches, i.e. approaches, were dug in the cover of which it was possible to approach the walls of the fortification.

The strong autumn rains hindered any construction. Narva garrison had 1800-1900 men, to increase the number of defenders the commander Horn tried to assemble as many weapon bearing peasants as possible. All citizens participated actively in defending the city.

The lack of food did not threaten Narva at first, but the problem was much more serious due to the drinking water. As the city had no wells, water had to be taken from the river which was extremely dangerous under the fire of the enemy. There was also lack of horse feed for the horse cavalry.

The Russians made the proposal to Narva to surrender. If this was rejected, the bombing of the city was started. Having heard about the arrival of the troops of King of Sweden Karl XII in Pärnu, Peter I required that the city would be conquered before the arrival of the supporting troops.

At night against 7 (8) November the Russian troops organized three unsuccessful assaults to Jaanilinn. As a punishment the tsar gave an order to hang every tenth participant in the attack. More than 70 men were executed by drawing the lots. On 17 November the notice of general Šeremetjev sent to the Swedes arrived that he has withdrawn up to Sillamäe.

Peter I rushed: providing an excuse to push the arrival of the Russian troops and the need of receipt of the embassy of Turkey - who arrived to Moscow only in 1704 - the tsar left on 18 (19) November from Narva. The Duke de Croy was appointed the new commander in chief.

Source:  Eesti ajalugu. IV, Põhjasõjast pärisorjuse kaotamiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa. 2003
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.

A. Mäesalu, T. Lukas, M. Laur, T. Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I, Tallinn 1997, lk 125

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