Louis-Nicolas dAvout, better known as Davout, 1st Duke of Auerstaedt, 1st Prince of Eckmühl, was a French general who was Marshal of the Empire during the Napoleonic era. His talent for war along with his reputation as a stern disciplinarian earned him the title The Iron Marshal and he is ranked along with Masséna and Lannes as one of Napoleons finest commanders. His loyalty and obedience to Napoleon were absolute, during his lifetime, Davouts name was commonly spelled Davoust, which is how it appears on the Arc de Triomphe and in much of the correspondence between Napoleon and his generals. Davout was born at Annoux, the son of Jean-François dAvout and he was educated at a military academy in Auxerre, before transferring to the École Militaire in Paris on 29 September 1785. He graduated on 19 February 1788 and was appointed a sous-lieutenant in the Royal-Champagne Cavalry Regiment in garrison at Hesdin, on the outbreak of the French Revolution, he embraced its principles. He was chef de bataillon in a corps in the campaign of 1792.
He had just been promoted to general of brigade when he was removed from the active list because of his noble birth and he nevertheless served in the campaigns of 1794-1797 on the Rhine, and accompanied Desaix in the Egyptian Expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte. Although on his return he did not take part in the Battle of Marengo, at the accession of Napoleon as emperor, Davout was one of the generals who were created marshals of France. Davout was the youngest and least experienced of the promoted to Marshal. As commander of the III Corps of the Grande Armée, Davout rendered his greatest services, at the Battle of Austerlitz, after a forced march of forty-eight hours, the III Corps bore the brunt of the allies attack. Historian François-Guy Hourtoulle writes, At Jena, Napoleon won a battle he could not lose, at Auerstädt, Davout won a battle he could not win. As a reward, Napoleon let Davout and his men enter first in Berlin on 25 October 1806, Davout added to his renown in the campaign of Eylau and Friedland.
Napoleon left him as governor-general of the newly created Duchy of Warsaw following the Treaty of Tilsit of 1807, and the next year created him Duke of Auerstädt. In the war of 1809, Davout took part in the actions which culminated in the Battle of Eckmühl, and distinguished himself in the Battle of Wagram and he was created Prince of Eckmühl following this campaign. He was entrusted by Napoleon with the task of organizing the corps of observation of the Elbe, during the retreat he conducted the rear guard, which was deemed too slow by the Emperor, and was replaced by Ney. His inability to hold out at Berezina until the arrival of Ney and his corps, led him into disgrace and he would not meet with the Emperor again until his return from Elba. During the siege, he expelled up to 25,000 of Hamburg’s poorest and weakest citizens out of the city into the winter, many of whom perished of cold. Between 1806 and 1814, when the French occupation came to an end by the surrender of Davout, Davouts military character has been interpreted as cruel, and he had to defend himself against many attacks upon his conduct at Hamburg
Battle of Smoliani
At the Battle of Smoliani, the Russians under General Peter Wittgenstein defeated the French forces of Marshal Claude Victor and Marshal Nicholas Oudinot. This battle was the last effort of the French to reestablish their northern flank in Russia, at the time of the Smoliani encounter, Napoleon was planning on leading his rapidly disintegrating Grande Armée to a safehaven in the west such as Minsk. In order to execute this plan, the Grande Armées planned route of retreat had to be secured, Wittgensteins position at Czasniki was just 40 miles north of Bobruisk, a town Napoleon needed to be secure in order for the main French army to reach Minsk. Victor, per Napoleons orders, was to coordinate the actions of his IX corps with the VI corps and this plan however was scuttled per the insistence of Oudinot, who thought it more advantageous to attack Wittgenstein head on. Going into the action at Smoliani, the French commanders exhibited the hallmarks of leaders setting themselves up for failure, bad planning, historians have criticized Oudinot and Victor for not attempting a flanking maneuver against Wittgenstein.
Victor especially has been criticized for indecision in his planning and execution of the Smoliani attack, previously, at Czasniki, Victor had proven himself over-inclined to retreat in the face of just minor reversals. The mood among the Russian leaders on the eve of the battle stood in stark contrast to that of the French, one notable work on 1812 describes the aura among Wittgenstein and his staff at this juncture as a sense of being morally equal and often superior to the enemy. It is no wonder, that Victor was hesitant in executing the assigned to him by Napoleon. The French cause at Smoliani was undermined by mounting attrition within their ranks, in the two weeks following the action at Czasniki, Victors force had suffered greatly from exposure to frost and disease. By November 10, only 25,000 troops remained until Victors command, the Battle of Smoliani commenced on November 13, at the nearby village of Axenzi, and initially the French were successful. Here the 6,000 troops of General Partenoux attacked Wittgensteins advance guard,6,000 strong, each side lost roughly 500 troops in this encounter, and despite being reinforced, the Russians were forced to retreat to Smoliani.
The next day, November 14, the combat intensified as 5,000 of Victors troops attacked and captured Smoliani, after this, the French attacking force suffered a reversal, being repulsed on the Russian right wing and losing Smoliani to Wittgensteins counterattack. While this action was taking place, a small Russian detachment kept Oudinots superior force in check at the village of Poczavizi, the next day, November 15, Victor retreated 20 miles south to Chereja. That Victor and Oudinot retreated in the face of this big threat to the Grande Armée was another blow to Napoleon. The Battle of Smoliani ended, any hope the French had of reestablishing their northern Dwina Line, John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, one of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleons political and cultural legacy has ensured his status as one of the most celebrated and he was born Napoleone di Buonaparte in Corsica to a relatively modest family from the minor nobility. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Napoleon was serving as an officer in the French army. Seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution, he rose through the ranks of the military. The Directory eventually gave him command of the Army of Italy after he suppressed a revolt against the government from royalist insurgents, in 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power.
He engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic and his ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, and in 1804 he became the first Emperor of the French. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805, in 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, marched the Grand Army deep into Eastern Europe, France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support, the Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, and ended in victory for the Allies.
The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia, unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System and enticed Napoleon into another war. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse of the Grand Army, the destruction of Russian cities, in 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, the Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June, the British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years at the age of 51
Battle of Valutino
The Russians were strongly posted in marshy ground, protected by a small stream, about 20 Kilometers east of Smolensk. The French, attacking resolutely, carried the Russian position in the face of physical obstacles. Napoleons hopes of trapping General Barclays army were dashed when he discovered that the Russian force awaiting the French was a rearguard under General Tutchkov. Barclays main force of three infantry and one corps was strung out near Smolensk, trying to get away from the French after the Battle of Smolensk. They turned around to fight the French on the Stragan river, after a heavy bombardment, Ney launched an assault against the Russians, crossing the Stragan but failing to capture the crest. Murats cavalry attacks were bogged down in ground and accomplished nothing either. General Junots force was close to the battlefield and was urged to attack the Russians by Murat, but Junot did nothing, a few hours later, Ney launched the last attack. General Gudin led the assault and was killed when a cannonball removed his legs, the French managed to capture the crest after hard fighting, but by that point the majority of Barclays army had escaped and was heading towards Lubino.
French casualties stood at around 7,000, the Russians had lost about 6,000, napoleon was furious after the battle, realizing that another good chance to trap and destroy the Russian army had been lost. New York, Carrol & Graf Publishers, map of Battle of Valutina Gora
First French Empire
The First French Empire, Note 1 was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Its name was a misnomer, as France already had colonies overseas and was short lived compared to the Colonial Empire, a series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence over much of Western Europe and into Poland. The plot included Bonapartes brother Lucien, serving as speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos, another Director, on 9 November 1799 and the following day, troops led by Bonaparte seized control. They dispersed the legislative councils, leaving a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, although Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, the Consulate, he was outmaneuvered by Bonaparte, who drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul. He thus became the most powerful person in France, a power that was increased by the Constitution of the Year X, the Battle of Marengo inaugurated the political idea that was to continue its development until Napoleons Moscow campaign.
Napoleon planned only to keep the Duchy of Milan for France, setting aside Austria, the Peace of Amiens, which cost him control of Egypt, was a temporary truce. He gradually extended his authority in Italy by annexing the Piedmont and by acquiring Genoa, Parma and Naples, he laid siege to the Roman state and initiated the Concordat of 1801 to control the material claims of the pope. Napoleon would have ruling elites from a fusion of the new bourgeoisie, on 12 May 1802, the French Tribunat voted unanimously, with exception of Carnot, in favour of the Life Consulship for the leader of France. This action was confirmed by the Corps Législatif, a general plebiscite followed thereafter resulting in 3,653,600 votes aye and 8,272 votes nay. On 2 August 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Consul for life, pro-revolutionary sentiment swept through Germany aided by the Recess of 1803, which brought Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden to Frances side. The memories of imperial Rome were for a time, after Julius Caesar and Charlemagne.
The Treaty of Pressburg, signed on 26 December 1805, did little other than create a more unified Germany to threaten France. On the other hand, Napoleons creation of the Kingdom of Italy, the occupation of Ancona, to create satellite states, Napoleon installed his relatives as rulers of many European states. The Bonapartes began to marry into old European monarchies, gaining sovereignty over many nations, in addition to the vassal titles, Napoleons closest relatives were granted the title of French Prince and formed the Imperial House of France. Met with opposition, Napoleon would not tolerate any neutral power, Prussia had been offered the territory of Hanover to stay out of the Third Coalition. With the diplomatic situation changing, Napoleon offered Great Britain the province as part of a peace proposal and this, combined with growing tensions in Germany over French hegemony, Prussia responded by forming an alliance with Russia and sending troops into Bavaria on 1 October 1806. In this War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon destroyed the armies of Frederick William at Jena-Auerstedt, the Eylau and the Friedland against the Russians finally ruined Frederick the Greats formerly mighty kingdom, obliging Russia and Prussia to make peace with France at Tilsit.
The Treaties of Tilsit ended the war between Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that held power of much of the rest of Europe, the two empires secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes
It was first mentioned in 1231 as an appanage of Chernigov, it was named after the Mozhay River, whose name is of Baltic origin. Later it was an important stronghold of the Smolensk dynasty, at one time owned by Theodore the Black, the Muscovites seized it in 1303, but in the course of the following century had serious troubles defending it against Algirdas of Lithuania. The principality was held by a younger brother of the ruling Grand Duke of Moscow. In 1562, the Treaty of Mozhaysk was signed there, Town status was granted to Mozhaysk in 1708. Mozhaysk continued to defend the Western approaches to Moscow during the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the Battle of Borodino took place 12 kilometers from the town. Within the framework of administrative divisions, Mozhaysk serves as the center of Mozhaysky District. As an administrative division, it is, together with twenty-one rural localities, as a municipal division, the Town of Mozhaysk is incorporated within Mozhaysky Municipal District as Mozhaysk Urban Settlement.
The first stone cathedral was built in the kremlin in the early 14th century, in 1849, it was demolished stone by stone, a larger blood-red cathedral in the Gothic Revival style was completed in 1814. The church of St. Joachim and Anna preserves some parts from the early 15th century, another important landmark is the Luzhetsky Monastery, founded in 1408 by St. Ferapont and rebuilt in brick in the 16th century. The monastery cathedral, erected during the reign of Vasily III, was known for its frescoes. The fact that Mozhaysk was frequently the last major stop on the way to the capital, gave birth to the expression to push beyond Mozhay, which literally means push away further than Mozhaysk. Mozhaysk is twinned with, Château-du-Loir, France Drochtersen, Germany Etropole, Bulgaria Lohja, Finland Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine Ujazd, Poland Vileyka, Постановление №123-ПГ от28 сентября2010 г. «Об учётных данных административно-территориальных и территориальных единиц Московской области», в ред, Постановления №252-ПГ от26 июня2015 г. «О внесении изменения в учётные данные административно-территориальных и территориальных единиц Московской области», Опубликован, Информационный вестник Правительства МО, №10,30 октября2010 г. Закон №95/2005-ОЗ от30 марта2005 г, «О статусе и границах Можайского муниципального района и вновь образованных в его составе муниципальных образований», в ред. Закона №128/2011-ОЗ от15 июля2011 г, «О внесении изменений в Закон Московской области О статусе и границах Можайского муниципального района и вновь образованных в его составе муниципальных образований». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования, Подмосковье, №59,2 апреля2005 г.
Official website of Mozhaysk Unofficial website of Mozhaysk
The wars resulted from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars, which had raged on for years before concluding with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Napoleon became the First Consul of France in 1799, Emperor five years later, inheriting the political and military struggles of the Revolution, he created a state with stable finances, a strong central bureaucracy, and a well-trained army. The British frequently financed the European coalitions intended to thwart French ambitions, by 1805, they had managed to convince the Austrians and the Russians to wage another war against France. At sea, the Royal Navy destroyed a combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in October 1805, Prussian worries about increasing French power led to the formation of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July, although Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, it did not bring a lasting peace for Europe.
Hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia, the Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, the Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. Unwilling to bear the consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse and retreat of the Grand Army along with the destruction of Russian lands. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France, a lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814 and he was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power.
However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again, the Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The Congress of Vienna, which started in 1814 and concluded in 1815, established the new borders of Europe and laid out the terms, Napoleon seized power in 1799, creating a de facto military dictatorship. The Napoleonic Wars began with the War of the Third Coalition, Kagan argues that Britain was irritated in particular by Napoleons assertion of control over Switzerland. Furthermore, Britons felt insulted when Napoleon stated that their country deserved no voice in European affairs, for its part, Russia decided that the intervention in Switzerland indicated that Napoleon was not looking toward a peaceful resolution of his differences with the other European powers. The British quickly enforced a blockade of France to starve it of resources. Napoleon responded with economic embargoes against Britain, and sought to eliminate Britains Continental allies to break the coalitions arrayed against him, the so-called Continental System formed a league of armed neutrality to disrupt the blockade and enforce free trade with France
Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, during the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement. Marshal is an ancient loanword from Old French, which in turn is borrowed from Old Frankish *marhskalk, being still evident in Middle Dutch maerscalc, marscal and it is cognate with Old High German mar-scalc id. modern German Marschall. It originally and literally meant horse servant, from Germanic *marha- horse and this horse servant origin is retained in the current French name for farrier, maréchal-ferrant. The late Roman and Byzantine title of comes stabuli was adopted as a Latin analogue, which has become the French connétable and, derived from the French, finally, in Byzantium a marshal with elevated authority, notably a borderlands military command, is known as an Exarch. In many countries, the rank of marshal, cf. field marshal, is the highest army rank, the equivalent navy rank is often admiral of the fleet.
Marshals are typically, but not exclusively, appointed only in wartime, in many countries, especially in Europe, the special symbol of a marshal is a baton, and their insignia often incorporate batons. In some countries, the marshal is used instead of general in the higher air force ranks. The four highest Royal Air Force ranks are marshal of the Royal Air Force, air marshal, air marshal. The five-star rank of marshal of the Air Force is used by some Commonwealth, in the French Army and most National Armies modeled upon the French system, maréchal des logis is a cavalry term equivalent to sergeant. Some historical rulers have used special marshal titles to reward certain subjects, though not strictly military ranks, these honorary titles have been exclusively bestowed upon successful military leaders, such as the famous grand marshal of Ayacucho Antonio José de Sucre. Most famous are the Marshals of France, not least under Napoléon I, in England during the First Barons War the title Marshal of the Army of God was bestowed upon Robert Fitzwalter by election.
Both the Soviet Union and Russia have army general as well as marshal in their rank system, the relationships between them is unresolved. Marshal of the Soviet Union Chief marshal of an arm was used in five Soviet military branches – the air force, armoured troops, engineer troops. Marshal of an arm was used in five Soviet military branches – the air force, armoured troops, engineer troops. Marshal of an arm is considered equivalent to the rank general of the army, which was used in the infantry. The function of the Marshal of the Court varies according to national tradition, the charge includes the honorary privilege as chief of the protocol to announce formally the arrival of VIP guests at audiences, state dinners, and conferences in the monarchs premises. This office was made hereditary in the high nobility, e. g. the English Earl Marshal
Battle of Vyazma
The Battle of Vyazma, occurred at the beginning of Napoleons retreat from Moscow. In this encounter, the guard of the Grande Armée was defeated by the Russians commanded by General Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich. The French reversal at Vyazma was not decisive, but it was noteworthy because of its impact on the Grande Armées retreat. Two weeks before the Battle of Vyazma, Napoleon began his retreat from Moscow because Moscow was isolated deep in enemy territory, and was thus unsuitable as the Grande Armées winter quarters. Napoleons objective at this stage of the retreat was to lead the Grande Armée to his closest major supply depot, the campaign was to be recommenced in the following spring. Because the territory alongside this road had been ravaged by earlier campaigning. Lack of foodstuffs led to demoralization and disorder in the French ranks. By November 3, the day of the action at Vyazma, the head of the column, Junots VIII Corps, was at Dorogobuzh, with Davouts I Corps, serving as the armys rearguard, located at the tail of the army just east of Vyazma.
Between these two endpoints were, running west to east, the Imperial Guard, Joachim Murats troops, Michel Neys III Corps, Poniatowskis V Corps, and Eugènes IV Corps. At this point, the French retreat was harassed by Cossack attacks at every juncture, the Russians, organized themselves into three groups while pursuing the French. First, following Davout closely were 5,000 Cossacks commanded by Ataman Platov and this group was supported by General Ivan Paskevichs 26th Division, with 4,000 troops. Marching slightly to the south was General Miloradovich with the II and IV Infantry Corps, some 14,000 troops in all, and the II and III Cavalry Corps, Miloradovich coordinated the activity of all of these troops, including those of Platov and Paskevich. The main Russian army led by Mikhail Kutuzov, some 70,000 troops in all, recognizing an opportunity to isolate and destroy Davouts corps, the aggressive Miloradovich decided to attack early the next morning. At 8 AM on November 3, Miloradovichs cavalry attacked the disorganized French column holding the length of road which separated Davout from Eugene, Miloradovich ordered his artillery, positioned on nearby heights, to begin a cannonade.
The attack was a success, as it captured the French IV Corps baggage train. Miloradovich placed infantrymen and horse batteries astraddle the road, thereby severing Davouts connection with the rest of the French army, simultaneous to Miloradovichs attack to the west of Davout, Platovs Cossacks attacked Davout from the east, supported by Paskevichs troops. Davouts infantrymen formed squares to meet the attack from Platov and Paskevich, the 14,000 exhausted, hunger-weakened soldiers of Davouts Corps were now at risk of being overwhelmed and destroyed by the Russians. Lacking sufficient numbers of infantrymen to consolidate their hold on the Vyazma-Fedorovskoye road, at this juncture, Davouts fortunes changed for the better
Kaluga is a city and the administrative center of Kaluga Oblast, located on the Oka River 150 kilometers southwest of Moscow. In the Middle Ages Kaluga was a minor settlement owned by the Princes Vorotynsky, the ancestral home of these princes lies southwest of the modern city. On 19 January 1777 the Kaluga drama theatre opened its first theatrical season, Kaluga is connected to Moscow by a railway line and by the ancient roadway, the Kaluga Road. This road offered Napoleon his favored escape route from the Moscow trap in the fall of 1812, Kaluga was briefly occupied by the German army in Operation Barbarossa during the climactic Battle of Moscow. It was occupied from October 12,1941 to December 30,1941, Kaluga is the administrative center of the oblast. As a municipal division, the City of Kaluga, together with one rural locality in Ferzikovsky District, is incorporated as Kaluga Urban Okrug. In Kaluga, Kaluga Turbine Plant is located, is part of the company Power Machines, Kaluga Machine Works, in recent years Kaluga has become one of the centers of the Russian automotive industry, with a number of foreign companies opening assembly plants in the area.
On November 28,2007, Volkswagen Group opened a new plant in Kaluga. The investment has reached more than 500 million Euro, the plant currently assembles the Volkswagen Passat, Škoda Fabia and Škoda Rapid. On October 15,2007, the Volvo Group broke ground on a new assembly plant. The plant has a capacity of 10,000 Volvo and 5,000 Renault trucks. On December 12,2007, PSA Peugeot Citroën announced its decision to build a new plant in Kaluga. By March 2010 the plant was operational, building Peugeot 308s for the Russian market and would produce Citroën, to ensure the production cars were built factories companies Continental AG, Magna International, Benteler International, Visteon. The city is served by the Grabtsevo Airport, since 1899, there is a railway connection between Kaluga and Moscow. Public transportation is represented by the trolleybuses and marshrutkas, Kaluga has a humid temperate continental, with warm and humid summers, and long and snowy winters. Kaluga is known for its most famous resident, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a rocket science pioneer who worked here as a school teacher
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, located on the Dnieper River,360 kilometers west-southwest of Moscow. The walled city in the center of Smolensk was destroyed several times throughout its history because it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, food processing, the name of the city is derived from the name of the Smolnya River. The origin of the name is less clear. One possibility is the old Slavic word смоль for black soil, an alternative origin could be the Russian word смола, which means resin, tar, or pitch. Pine trees grow in the area, and the city was once a center of resin processing, the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII recorded its name as Μιλινισκα. Within the city and its surroundings the river takes in small tributaries. In the valleys are stretched streets, high ridges, Smolensk is situated on seven hills. The old part of the city occupies the high, rugged left bank of the Dnieper River, the area features undulating terrain, with a large number of tributaries and ravines.
Smolensk is among the oldest Russian cities, the first recorded mention of the city was 863 AD, two years after the founding of Kievan Rus. According to Russian Primary Chronicle, Smolensk was located on the area settled by the West Slavic Radimichs tribe in 882 when Oleg of Novgorod took it in passing from Novgorod to Kiev, the first foreign writer to mention the city was the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. In De Administrando Imperio he described Smolensk as a key station on the route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The Rus people sailed from the Baltics up the Western Dvina as far as they could they portaged their boats to the upper Dnieper. It was in Smolensk that they supposedly mended any leaks and small holes that might have appeared in their boats from being dragged on the ground and they used tar to do that, the Principality of Smolensk was founded in 1054. Due to its position in Kievan Rus, the city developed rapidly. By the end of the 12th century, the princedom was one of the strongest in Eastern Europe, numerous churches were built in the city at that time, including the church of Sts.
Peter and Paul and the church of St. John the Baptist, the most remarkable church in the city is called Svirskaya, it was admired by contemporaries as the most beautiful structure east of Kiev. Smolensk had its own veche since the beginning of its history