This rare and highly attractive separately-issued maps with stunning original colour were printed on one sheet and were originally meant to be separated.
The upper map shows the surrender of Myrina (Kastro) on the Greek island Lemnos on Ocrober 4 1770. The In city was besieged for 60 days by Count Orlov during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774. When the fortress surrendered, the Ottoman fleet attacked the Russian vessels in Mudros Bay and forced the Russians to withdraw on October 24.
The lower map depicts the action of the Battle of Chesma (Çeşme, 1770), a momentous victory by the Russian Navy over the maritime forces of the Ottoman Empire. The battle marked a turning point in that it hailed the fall of Turkish maritime hegemony over the Aegean and the Black seas and the rise of the Russia as an international naval power. The battle was one of the two greatest events of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768 – 1774, a critical conflict that gave Russia control of the Crimea and parts of the Caucuses.
The Battle of Chesma and Lemnos occurred within the context of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768 – 1774. The war was the latest in a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, which revolved around control of what is now the Ukraine.
The last major contest between the Ottomans and Russia was the indecisive Russo-Turkish War of 1736-9, during which the Russians captured much of the Crimea and southern Ukraine, but inevitably failed to hold the territory due to inadequate supply lines. The present war was seen as something of a rematch of this earlier conflict.
When Turkey and Russia went to war in 1768, on paper the Turkish side seemed to be the stronger party. Russia had been drained by its unsuccessful role in the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) and her ruler, Catherine the Great (reigned 1762-1796), was considered to be untested in major foreign conflicts. Russia’s Navy was small and poorly equipped and it would seem that Russia was destined to suffer the same sort of logistical breakdown that doomed her earlier campaigns against the Turks. On the other side, Turkey had much larger land and naval forces, all of which very much in tact since the Ottomans had not fought a major foreign war since 1747.
However, the Russians had recently recruited Dutch and British veteran officers to advise her navy, including Captain Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen (who in 1773 conducted the first scientific mapping of the Crimea) and Admiral John Elphinstone (Orlov’s second-in-command at Chesma). These advisors introduced groundbreaking battle tactics and training procedures that were light-years ahead of anything seen around the Black and Aegean seas. Moreover, the Russian generals took the lessons of the previous war to heart and paid much more attention to their supply lines.
While not recognized at the beginning of the war, the two decades of peace had ensured that the Turkish army and navy were atrophied, inexperienced and over-confident. Also, Istanbul had not invested enough in new technology, giving the Russians an edge in this respect for the first time. Moreover, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Mehmed Emin Pasha proved to be an almost comically incompetent military leader.
While the result of the Battle of Chesma ensured Russian naval dominance, the Russians also enjoyed great success with regards to their territorial campaigns. They surged into the Southern Ukraine, Crimea and Moldavia and inflicted a crushing defeat on the main Turkish army at the Battle of Kagul on August 1, 1770. Making matters worse for the Ottomans, they were facing attacks from Persia to their east, as well as internal rebellions, most notably in Syria and Greece (the latter directly supported by the Russians, known as ‘Orlov’s Rebellion’, after the victor of Chesma). For a time in 1771, it looked as if the Ottoman Empire would completely implode. Shockingly, even Istanbul itself was thought vulnerable to capture by the Russians.
However, at this juncture, the tables began to turn against the Russians. Fearing the collapse of the ‘Balance of Power’, various European powers came to pressure Russia to ease up on Turkey, as nobody wanted the latter to fall completely. Moreover, Russia faced a rebellion in the territories it held in Poland, in addition to the threat of attack from a resurgent Sweden.
After dragging matters out for a further two years, the Russians finally agreed to peace conference, an opportunity that was eagerly taken up by the chastened Ottomans. At the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, signed on July 21, 1774, the Ottomans agreed to several great concessions which, however, where a lot less than the Russians had previously desired.
Under the terms of the treaty, Russia gained the vital Black sea ports of Azov and Kerch, while Crimea became a Russian puppet-state (to be formally annexed by Russia in 1783). It also gained territory along the lower Dnieper and Southern Bug valleys, as well as a sliver the northern Caucuses. Russia also obtained the right to serve as the official guardian of all Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire, a status which Russia would later exploit to attack Turkey.
In essence, the Battle of Chesma marked a turning point in the maritime hegemony of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which shifted from Ottoman to Russian dominance. While the new reality would be contested in the 19th Century, it greatly contributed to the progressive disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.
The present map was is one of the finest contemporary records of the Battle of Chesma. The bilingual production (in both German and French) was issued in Augsburg by the leading map publisher Tobias Conrad Lotter in an effort to capitalize on the pan-European fascination with this transformative event. Lotter likely based his map on a manuscript drafted by a participant of the battle who fought on the Russian side.
Lotter’s plan of the Battle of Chesma and Lemnos on one sheet is very rare. The two maps were meant to be separated on the printed line after printing. Both maps bear their own imprint. The survival rate of 18th Century broadside maps is extremely low, as they were contemporarily treated as ephemera. A few of the surviving examples were only preserved as they bound within composite atlases.
References: OCLC: 165806741; Cf. Roger Charles Anderson Naval Wars in the Levant 1559-1853 (Princeton, 1952).