Bulavin Rebellion

Last updated
Don Cossack Rebellion of 1707–1708
Date8 October 1707 – 7 July 1708
Location
Result

Russian victory

Belligerents
Flag of Oryol (variant).svg Russia Flag of Don Cossacks.svg Don Cossack rebels
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Oryol (variant).svg Peter the Great Flag of Don Cossacks.svg Kondraty Bulavin  
Strength
Flag of Oryol (variant).svg unknown Flag of Don Cossacks.svg unknown
Casualties and losses
Flag of Oryol (variant).svg unknown Flag of Don Cossacks.svg unknown

The Bulavin Rebellion(Astrakhan Revolt) is the name given[ by whom? ] to a war which took place in the years 1707 and 1708 between the Don Cossacks and the Tsardom of Russia, (which became the Russian Empire in 1721). Kondraty Bulavin, a democratically elected Ataman of the Don Cossacks, led the Cossack rebels. The conflict was triggered by a number of underlying tensions between the Moscow government under Peter I of Russia, the Cossacks, and Russian peasants fleeing from serfdom in Russia to gain freedom in the autonomous Don area. It started with the 1707 assassination of Prince Yury Vladimirovich Dolgorukov  [ ru ], the leader of Imperial army's punitive expedition to the Don area, by Don Cossacks under Bulavin's command. The end of the rebellion came with Bulavin's death in 1708.

Contents

Underlying causes

A number of social grievances were prevalent in the peasant population of Russia in the years leading up to the Bulavin Rebellion. Peter the Great's radical reforms designed to "Westernize" old Muscovy in the 18th century were met with widespread discontent. The pious, deeply conservative masses saw his reforms as an affront to their traditional way of life and to their Eastern Orthodox faith. Peter was even equated to the Anti-Christ and assumed to be an impostor posing as the true Tsar. On top of this, Peter's newly formed police state was expanding territorially, and by this expansion was encroaching upon salt resource sites coveted by the Cossacks for preservation of their foods. This dispute over land was in one sense an economic issue, but the Cossacks also regarded this as an intrusion upon their semi-autonomous political state. In general, the entire rural Russian atmosphere was in an agitated state, waiting for a catalyst of some kind.

Immediate catalyst

In response to the constraints and fears of living in Peter's police state, large numbers of serfs absconded, abandoning the major urban areas, especially Moscow and the new capital at St. Petersburg. While some groups emigrated to Poland or Austria, many chose to avoid the border patrols and instead fled to the rural periphery and the river regions already inhabited by the Cossacks. It was Peter's policy to hunt down and arrest absconders and return them to their lords where they could be counted for taxes, a policy which, by this time, had no statute of limitations. In accordance with this policy, Peter deployed a group of bounty hunters under Yuri Dolgorukov [1] to scout the Cossack regions for fugitive peasants. Despite the fact that the Cossacks harbored some resentment towards the peasants (for overpopulating their region and generally competing for local resources), more deplorable to them was the idea of Petrine agents roaming freely through their territory. They not only refused to give up the fugitive peasants, but on 8 October 1707 a small band of local atamans headed by Kondraty Bulavin ambushed and murdered Dolgorukov and his men in the village of Shulgin on the Aidar River, opening the door to violence and beginning the Bulavin Rebellion.

Bulavin the Man

Kondraty Bulavin house, Starocherkassk Starocherkassk bulavin.jpg
Kondraty Bulavin house, Starocherkassk

Little is known about Bulavin personally, but he was born into a Cossack family and would have been old enough to remember Stenka Razin and the revolt of the late 17th century. He developed some combat experience fighting the Kuban and Crimean Tatars in his youth. However, he was never a particularly great military commander, and throughout the rebellion that bears his name, he would forever fall short of becoming an undisputed leader. By 1704, he had risen to the status of ataman of Bakhmut, a position he held until 1706. It was during this stint that he orchestrated and participated in the destruction of the salt works on the Severski Donets, an act of retaliation for having been evicted by the government as squatters. This conflict was never entirely resolved and was ultimately absorbed into the greater rebellion as it gained momentum. Bulavin was most likely illiterate, but like his contemporary revolutionaries, he possessed a talent for appealing to the people and inciting them to action.

General details

Bulavin's rally cries were simple: the goal was to move against Moscow and destroy the evil influences on the Tsar. It is important to note that the rebellion was not against the institution of Tsardom but against the figures in power at the time. It was generally believed that Peter was either not who he claimed (i.e. the Antichrist sitting in place of the true Tsar who was hidden away), or that he was indeed the rightful Tsar but was under the control of evil advisers whose destruction would liberate him, and that if given the freedom to act, he would repudiate all of his wicked reforms.

The rebellion suffered from a number of weaknesses. For one, despite all of his rallying, Bulavin never offered a pretender to the throne or suggested a just tsar to replace Peter. This blunder would condemn the rebellion's end goals to ambiguity and would let slip an immeasurable amount of support he might have mustered. Second, Bulavin did not coordinate his efforts with any other pre-existing Muscovite enemies, so despite being heavily engaged in war with Sweden, the military apparatus under Peter was not as divided as it could have been and found the rebellion to be more of a nuisance than a major conflict. By means of its vastly superior size and efficiency, the regular army was ultimately capable of stamping out the rebellion at all levels. In the end, angered by devastating reversals and Bulavin's tiring claims, factions of his own Cossack followers turned against him. He was found dead on 7 July 1708, having been shot in the head. It is not known whether the wound was self-inflicted or an act of treachery. Following Bulavin's death, the rebellion petered out, with pockets of resistance persisting through 1709, but for all intents and purposes, the conflict was over.

Political and social aftermath

As mentioned, the Bulavin Rebellion bore striking similarities to Razin's Revolt a generation earlier. Both were Cossack rebellions in part, aimed against an imposing governmental institution and driven by animosity for the miserable state of peasant life. They effectively set the stage for the Pugachev Uprising under Catherine the Great.

In response to the uprising, Peter tightened his grip on the Cossack states, causing some 2000 under Ignat Nekrasov to flee to the protection of the Crimean Khanate. Descendants of these Nekrasovites would relocate to Anatolia during the Pugachev Uprising and settle near Constantinople, where their traditional culture would continue to the present day.

Related Research Articles

Cossacks Mixed ethnic group from the territory of present-day Ukraine and Southern Russia

The Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic Orthodox Christian people, who became known as members of democratic, self-governing, semi-military communities originating in the steppes of Eastern Europe. They inhabited sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper, Don, Terek, and Ural River basins, and played an important role in the historical and cultural development of both Ukraine and Russia.

Alexis of Russia Tsar of Russia

Aleksey Mikhaylovich was the Tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676. His reign saw wars with Poland and Sweden, schism in the Russian Orthodox Church, and the major Cossack revolt of Stenka Razin. Nevertheless, at the time of his death Russia spanned almost 2,000,000,000 acres (8,100,000 km2).

Stenka Razin Cossack leader

Stepan Timofeyevich Razin, known as Stenka Razin, was a Cossack leader who led a major uprising against the nobility and tsarist bureaucracy in southern Russia in 1670–1671.

Yemelyan Pugachev Leader of a Russian peasant uprising (1742–1775)

Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachev was an ataman of the Yaik Cossacks who led a great popular insurrection during the reign of Catherine the Great. Pugachev claimed to be Catherine's late husband, Emperor Peter III.

Don Cossacks

Don Cossacks or Donians, are Cossacks who settled along the middle and lower Don. Historically, they have been located within what was the Don Cossack Host, which was either an independent or an autonomous democratic republic in the present-day Southern Russia and the Donbas region of Ukraine, from the end of the 16th century until 1918. As of 1992, by the presidential decree of the Russian Federation, Cossacks can be enrolled on a special register. A number of Cossack communities have been reconstituted to further the Cossack cultural traditions, including those of the Don Cossack Host.

Serfdom in Russia Russian serfs were agrarian peasants legally bound to the land owned by nobility and who were deprived of rights and forced to provide free labor.

The term "serf", in the sense of an unfree peasant of tsarist Russia, is the usual English-language translation of krepostnoy krest'yanin which meant an unfree person who, unlike a slave, historically could be sold only with the land to which he or she was "attached". Emperor Peter I ended slavery in Russia in 1723. Contemporary legal documents, such as Russkaya Pravda, distinguished several degrees of feudal dependency of peasants.

Terek Cossacks Cossack host

The Terek Cossack Host was a Cossack host created in 1577 from free Cossacks who resettled from the Volga to the Terek River. The local aboriginal Terek Cossacks joined this Cossack host later. In 1792 it was included in the Caucasus Line Cossack Host and separated from it again in 1860, with the capital of Vladikavkaz. In 1916 the population of the Host was 255,000 within an area of 1.9 million desyatinas.

Cossack Hetmanate 1649–1764 Cossack host in the region of Central Ukraine

The Cossack Hetmanate, officially known as the Zaporizhian Host was a Ukrainian Cossack state in the region of Central Ukraine between 1648 and 1764.

House of Dolgorukov

The House of Dolgorukov is a princely Russian family of Rurikid stock. They are a cadet branch of the Obolenskiy family and as such claiming patrilineal descent from Mikhail of Chernigov.

Ivan Andreevich Tolstoy (1644–1713) was a Russian officer in the army of Tsar Peter I.

Starocherkasskaya

Starocherkasskaya, formerly Cherkassk (Черка́сск), is a rural locality in Aksaysky District of Rostov Oblast, Russia, with origins dating from the late 16th century. It is located on the right bank of the Don River approximately 35 kilometers (22 mi) upstream from the major Russian port city of Rostov-on-Don.

Pugachevs Rebellion Peasant revolt against Empress Catherine II of Russia

Pugachev's Rebellion of 1773-75 was the principal revolt in a series of popular rebellions that took place in the Russian Empire after Catherine II seized power in 1762. It began as an organized insurrection of Yaik Cossacks headed by Yemelyan Pugachev, a disaffected ex-lieutenant of the Imperial Russian Army, against a background of profound peasant unrest and war with the Ottoman Empire. After initial success, Pugachev assumed leadership of an alternative government in the name of the late Tsar Peter III and proclaimed an end to serfdom. This organized leadership presented a challenge to the imperial administration of Catherine II.

Vasily Vladimirovich Dolgorukov

Prince Vasily Vladimirovich Dolgorukov was a Russian commander and politician, promoted to Field Marshal (генерал-фельдмаршал) in 1728. His life and fortune swung like a weather vane, due to complex plots and the troubled time following Peter the Great's death.

Tsardom of Russia 1547–1721 tsardom in Eurasia

The Tsardom of Russia or Tsardom of Rus', also externally referenced as the Tsardom of Muscovy, was the centralized Russian state from the assumption of the title of Tsar by Ivan IV in 1547 until the foundation of the Russian Empire by Peter I in 1721.

Cossack uprisings

The Cossack uprisings were a series of military conflicts between the cossacks and the states claiming dominion over the territories the Cossacks lived in, namely the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russian Empire during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Both states tried to exert control over the independent-minded Cossacks. While the early uprisings were against the Commonwealth, as the Russian Empire gained increasing and then total control over the Ruthenian (Ukrainian) lands where the Cossacks lived, the target of Cossacks uprisings changed as well.

Alena Arzamasskaia, sometimes called the Russian Joan of Arc, was a famed female rebel fighter in 17th-century Russia, posing as a man and fighting in Cossack Stepan Razin's revolt of 1670 in southern Russia. Unlike Joan of Arc, who was fighting in the name of her king, Alyona was rebelling against her czar. She was an Erzyan female ataman under the leadership of Stepan Razin. A peasant by birth from the Vyezdnaya sloboda of Arzamas, she was an elderly nun ("старица") before becoming an ataman. She commanded a detachment of about 600 men and participated in the capture of Temnikov in 1670, before being burned at the stake.

Efremov family

Efremov, were a Russian noble family of Don Cossacks origin. Earliest reference date back to 1670, with Efrem Petrov from the area of Oryol being the oldest of known ancestors. He went to Cherkassk around 1670 as a merchant, and was an Ataman of Don Cossacks in 1702–1705. He was murdered by Kondraty Bulavin during the Bulavin Rebellion. Efremov were among the most prominent and rich families of the Don Cossack Host.

Monument to Stepan Razin is one of the monuments in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia. It is dedicated to Stepan Razin, the leader of the peasant uprising of 1670-1671. The monument is also considered to be an object of cultural heritage.

Kondraty Bulavin house

The Kondraty Bulavin house, or Bulavin house is a historical building located not far from the main square of Starocherkasskaya, almost opposite the Peter and Paul Church.

Kazakh rebellions are events and actions in the history of Kazakhstan in which the Kazakh people engaged in civil disobedience or armed resistance to state power. National uprisings of Kazakhs in the 18th–19th centuries among Kazakh historians are commonly referred to as national liberation uprisings.

References

Notes

  1. Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgorukov (1664—1707) was a knyaz of the Russian noble family of Rurikid stock.

Sources