Studies of the history of southern Russian towns at the turn of 16th and 17th centuries are of a serious aca-demic interest nowadays. A comprehensive study of the issue allows one to recover the construction and opera-tion of fortresses, as well as to define the role and participation of the southern garrisons in the events of the Time of Troubles. It is known that in the late 16th century, the Russian government continued to systematically advance to the territory of the so called “Field”. The government built new outposts in order to fix the developed lands and to protect the new borders. The construction of the Yelets fortress took place at that period, and it was built as the barrier for the Tatar advance to the central districts. With the development of the town, some settle-ments appeared around it and marked the borders of a future district. The change of the tsar and new domestic policy, together with the hungry years of the early 17th century, paved the way for the adventure of Prince Dmit-riy. The Yelets garrison was an active participant in anti-government protests in southern districts. As in other towns, the Yelets people’s position was crucial for the recognition of False Dmitriy I as a legitimate tsar and for the support of subsequent impostors. The paper examines the key events of the second half of 1606, when the Yelets garrison opposed the tsar Vasiliy Shuysky and supported Ivan Bolotnikov’s uprising. The study of histo-riography, along with the study of different historical sources, allows the author to conclude that Yelets acquired great importance in the geopolitical game of the opposing sides, as it hold down huge government forces for a few months. The events under Yelets enabled Bolotnikov to succeed under Kromy, to bypass Prince Vorotyn-sky’s regiments and to move to the central districts.
Key words: Time of Troubles of the early 17th century, Shuyskiy’s reign, unrest in southern districts, uprising of the Yelets garrison, government troops, Yelets’ siege, derogation of Vorotynsky’s regiments from Yelets.