Narva and Ivangorod – the two fortresses on both sides of Narova River – comprise a nowadays-unique fortification ensemble that has gone through many historical periods of the Baltic region. Narva gained world fame after two battles in early 1700s during the epic struggle between the Kingdom of Sweden and an alliance of northern powers sponsored by Tsar Peter the Great of Russia – the Great Northern War 1700-1721. First attacked in 1700, its Vauban style bastions were saved by a daring strike on the besieging Russians given by young King Charles XII who came to relieve the town. Four years later Narva saw another full scale three-months-long siege packed with sallies, bombardments, trench combat and peaked by general storm - something rare in a period when governors preferred to surrender before assault.
Military campaigns in the Baroque age across Europe were far more fortress-oriented - field battles were few while sieges were many. Even then, Narva’s two sieges are extraordinary as they provide samples of nearly all possible siege tactics typical to the period but rarely applied to one and the same town. Telling the story of these 1700 and 1704 events thus gives us a chance to speak about the mechanism of fortification warfare, about everyday life of the besieger and the besieged, about morale, military customs of that time, and about broader context of the resolute struggle between Tsar Peter and King Charles.
The book is based on day-to-day journals, relations, personal accounts and correspondence from Russian, Swedish and impartial sources – both published and archival.