The Russian Conquest of Bashkiria, 1552-1740: A Case Study in Imperialism

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The Russian Conquest of Bashkiria, 1552-1740: A Case Study in Imperialism

Table of contents :
1 Introduction
2 The Southeastern Frontier: Lands and Peoples
3 Moscow and Bashkiria
4 The Southeastern Frontier During the Reign of Peter the Great
5 The Origins of the Orenburg Project, 1725—34
6 The Orenburg Expedition, 1734—35
7 Kirillov's War, 1735-37
8 Tatishchev Takes Command, 1737-39
9 The ‘Pacification” of Bashkiria
10 Colonial Administration on the Southeastern Frontier

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A Case Study in Imperialism


THE RUSSIAN CONQUEST OF BASHKIRIA 1552-1740 A Case Study in Imperialism

by A L T O N S. D O N N E L L Y

New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1968

Copyright © 1968 by Yale University. Designed by John О. C. McCrillis, set in Baskerville type, and printed in the United States of America by Connecticut Printers, Inc., Hartford, Connecticut. Distributed in Canada by McGill University Press. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form (except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Library of Congress catalog card number: 68-13903

To George V. Lantzeff


Many have written of the open frontier as one of the dominating themes in Russian history. Although Russian literature on this subject is extensive. Western studies are still relatively scarce. In recent years a number of European and American scholars have been remedying the deficiency, but much remains to be explored before a reasonably complete picture of this history can be drawn. The subject should be of particular interest to Americans because of the parallels with their own frontier history. Students of im­ perialism and colonialism should also find much that is thoughtprovoking in the Russian experience. This work treats one aspect of that story. T o describe the Russian conquest of Bashkiria, I have had to deal with a number of problems that cannot be easily resolved. First, the expansion of the Russian state into areas inhabited by non-Russian peoples brings up the complex and almost insoluble problem of how to discuss objectively an aggressive, imperialist subjugation of an alien people. A complete treatment of the sub­ ject from the other side would depend on access to written mate­ rials in the native languages. Unfortunately, few have survived other than letters addressed to the Russian Court. In some cases facsimiles and translations have been included in Russian docu­ mentary collections. Another difficulty in dealing justly with the colonial peoples is the bias reflected in the Russian documents. This bias amounts to the belief that, regardless of the motives and actions of the Russian government in expanding into foreign terri­ tory, the conquest in the long run had progressive results, because the cultural level of the Russians was higher than that of the con­ quered. Even at the present time this is the attitude taken by Rus­ sian specialists on the subject. American historians meet a similar problem in treating American westward expansion at the expense of the native Indian tribes. I set for myself the task of examining Russian colonial policies and activities. This has inevitably resulted in slighting the view­ point of the conquered peoples. I have tried to look dispassionately into Russian motives and actions and to understand them from the



Russian side. Nevertheless, my narrative attempts to provide more than a hint of what that conquest meant in human terms to the other peoples involved. The study of frontier history in these terms, it may be remarked, has only begun to attract serious schol­ arly attention.1 Finding a rational system for transliterating and spelling names from a variety of European and Asiatic languages has been a prob­ lem beyond my solution. The difficulties are sometimes compounded by the appearance of names in the eighteenth century documents in forms so distorted it is impossible to determine what the original was. Names in European languages using Latin alphabets have been spelled as in the original language, Bühren, for example, rather than Biron. Mongolian, Persian, and Turkic names appear in Anglicized forms when they are commonly, or even not so com­ monly known. Alternative spellings are added in parentheses to the most important ones. As for Bashkir names, these required the most difficult decision. Bashkir is now written in a modified Cyril­ lic alphabet which transliterates readily into Russian. Therefore, I have transliterated from the Russian renderings, primarily be­ cause few scholars know Bashkir, and most who meet the Bashkirs in works other than this one will meet them in Russian accounts. I express my gratitude to the late Professor George V. Lantzeff, who first directed me into the subject, to professors V. A. Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky and Wolfram Eberhard, for their kindness in reading the typescript and offering thoughtful com­ ments, and to the anonymous readers of the Press who suggested many improvements. I owe much also to Professor Kenneth Owens at Northern Illinois University, a student of America’s westward expansion, for his encouragement and his critical eye in the matter of organization, style, and for illuminating comparisons and con­ trasts with American experience on the frontier. Finally, I am grateful to my parents for their long-term moral and economic support, and to my wife, Kathleen Donnelly, for her unflagging in­ terest, encouragement, and assistance. A. S. D. State University of New York Binghamton, New York l. The theoretical issues on which this viewpoint is based are discussed in Robert Redfield, The Primitive World and Its Transformations (Ithaca, 1953), and Herbert Lüthy, “Colonization and the Making of M ankind/’ Journal of Economic History, 21 (December 1961), 483-95.


Preface Chapter i Introduction

vii i

Chapter 2 The Southeastern Frontier: Lands and Peoples Geography and Climate The Peoples Russian Expansion to the Southeast Administration of the Frontier Area

6 6 8 12 17

Chapter 3 Moscow and Bashkiria Early Russian Relations with the Bashkirs Russian Tactics Composition of the Russian Frontier Forces Relations with the Kazakhs

19 19 26 29 33

Chapter 4 The Southeastern Frontier During the Reign of Peter the Great Policies of Peter the Great in Central Asia Relations with the Kazakhs The Russian-Bashkir Struggle Russian Strategy on the Southeastern Frontier

41 45 50

Chapter 5 The Origins of the Orenburg Project, 1725-34 The Tevkelev Mission to the Kazakhs, 1730-32 The Orenburg Project

54 54 59

Chapter 6 The Orenburg Expedition, 1734-35 Another Colonial War Begins Kirillov's Policies

64 72 75

Chapter 7 Kirillov's War, 1735-37 The Spring and Summer of 1736 Relations with the Kazakhs The Fall and Winter of 1736-37 Kirillov's Last Days

82 82 87 89 94

38 39



Chapter 8 Tatishchev Takes Command, 1737-39 New Policies Causes of the New Outbreak The Summer and Fall of 1737 The Relocation of Orenburg The December Conference of 1737 The Kazakhs Interfere in Bashkiria The Summer and Fall Campaign of 1738 The Dismissal of Tatishchev

96 97 99 102 105 106 109 116 119

Chapter 9 The “Pacification" of Bashkiria Initial Problems Karasakal, “Khan of Bashkiria" Relations with the Kazakhs Last Problems and New Pressure on the Kazakhs

123 123 126 133 135

Chapter 10 Colonial Administration on the Southeastern Frontier Administrative Oiganization Tribute and Other Obligations Russian Colonial Courts, Religious Administration, Corruption of Officials, and Other Problems Economic Policies The Defensive Lines and Their Garrisons Conclusions

152 154 161 172





Maps Distribution of the Peoples c. 1700 The Southeastern Frontier Area in 1700 Bashkiria in the Eighteenth Century

195 196 198



139 139 148



The Soviet Union is the largest country in the world. The growth of the tiny principality of Muscovy into a gigantic world empire is one of the wonders of modern times. This process has been con­ templated by numerous historians, although outside of Russia it­ self studies have usually been long on theory, short on systematic, factual investigation. Even the famous Russian historian V. O. Kliuchevskii, who realized the significance of this phenomenon and wrote that colonization was the fundamental fact of Russian history to which all other features were related,1 composed a fivevolume history of Russia that paid scant attention to expansion. Much of the history of Russia cannot be understood without a knowledge of its growth into empire. The significant consequences of each step—the acquisitions of Ivan III, the Polish partitions, the annexation of the Ukraine, of Crimea, the conquest of Siberia, of the Baltic region, and of part of Central Asia—make this plainly evident Foreign policies and domestic developments were often intimately related to the expansion of the frontier. Not only is the growth of Muscovy important for an understand­ ing of Russian history, it is also an example of European imperial­ ism that coincides in time with the imperial movement of the Western powers which began with the great age of exploration. A more thorough treatment of the Russian story could throw addi­ tional light on this modem European phenomenon. A survey of the steps of Russian expansion reveals a series of stories, not just a single tale. The acquisition of each piece of terri­ tory has its own history. Before the general themes can become properly known it will be necessary to investigate the major phases of the Empire’s growth. Although Russians have written much l. V. O. Kliuchevskii, Kurs russkoi istorii (5 vols. Moscow, 1937), /,21.



about various parts of their country and in recent years Soviet his­ torians have been studying intensively the non-Slavic areas, most of these studies have either consciously or unconsciously pleaded a special interest. Thus it is left to outsiders, at least for the present, to try to interpret the history objectively. In general the conquest of Bashkiria belongs to the expansion of Russia into Asia along the steppe frontier. In Asia there were, in very broad terms, two Russian frontiers, the forest frontier and the steppe frontier. Because geography and climate differed radically on these frontiers, Russian expansion into Asia can be considered to have flowed in two streams, each stream having its own particu­ lar characteristics.2 The first stream, the conquest of Siberia, was a story of fur trap­ pers and traders who traveled by river searching for furs in a heav­ ily forested region sparsely inhabited by primitive tribal groups, some still in the Stone Age when the Russians arrived. The second stream was a movement from the northern woods of European Russia into the vast steppe to the south, into the Ukraine and Ka­ zakhstan. Here the Russians were motivated by different desires, were opposed by different peoples, and were forced to adopt differ­ ent policies. The whole steppe frontier which stretched across the Ukraine through Kazakhstan into Mongolia had a certain unity in that it was a grass-covered prairie inhabited by Turkic nomads, but cir­ cumstances and historical development varied within this immense expanse. In the Ukrainian Steppe the Russians had to deal with the Ottoman Turks and the Poles who had vital interests in the area. East of the Volga, on the other hand, they dealt largely with nomadic groups alone, although Persia, the Central Asian khan­ ates, and even China were peripherally involved. The focus of this study is on the Trans-Volga frontier, which can be conveniently called the Southeastern Steppe Frontier, because from the stand­ point of the Russians in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries this region lay southeast of the heart of Muscovite Rus­ sia. What led the Russians into this region? Imperialism and its mo­ tivations are immensely complex, but even a cursory study of Rus2. The late George V. Lantzeff of the University of California distinguished these two streams and pointed out their characteristics in a paper presented at the Missis­ sippi Valley Historical Association Meeting in 1955.



sian expansion into Asia reveals several, generally prosaic aims, although one should not overlook an underlying mystique compa­ rable to America's “Manifest Destiny." As far as consciously held purposes are concerned, the Russians began moving to the south­ east for five major reasons. Raids of the steppe nomads into Rus­ sian territory led the Muscovite government to seek means of de­ fense. Defense slowly passed over that boundary between defense and offense, leading ultimately to the subjugation of the frontier peoples. Another consideration was the desire for increased gov­ ernment revenues. Like the other European states in early modem times in the process of state-building, the Muscovite state was chronically short of funds. The native peoples of the frontier re­ gions were potential tribute-paying subjects, especially desirable because of the tremendous profitability of furs, the usual coin of tribute payments in the seventeenth century and even later. The necessity for revenue was intensified in those centuries because of the voracious demands made by frequent wars. A third motive can be seen clearly during the reign of Peter the Great. In modern­ izing the state and society of Russia, Peter sought to develop a metallurgical industry in the Ural Mountains. Hopes of discover­ ing other fruitful deposits of minerals stimulated the southeast­ ward drive. Fourth, although they were largely illusory, dreams of becoming the middleman in the trade in the exotic products of Persia, Central Asia, China, and India on the pattem of the Portu­ guese, Dutch, and English, lured Muscovy toward Asia. And, fi­ nally, the migration of Russians into the frontier areas served to ex­ pand the Empire. Part of this movement of people was government sponsored, necessitated by the demands of staffing the administra­ tive bureaucracy and the military establishment. Of greater im­ portance numerically was the continuous flow of runaway peas­ ants and soldiers trying to escape the heavy obligations of serfdom and military service. There were other interests, but these five were the most important motives. In moving out beyond the Southeastern Frontier the Russians met strong opposition from the native inhabitants, who objected to paying tribute and to the seizure of their lands. The Russians were forced ultimately to resort to force, although they always found legal justification for their imperial acts. Because the Rus­ sians were relatively few in numbers on the frontier, maintaining control required skill and diplomacy. Two major policies were de-



veloped over the years to meet the problem of resistance. As early as the reign of Ivan IV a special frontier defensive system was es­ tablished. A line of forts and outposts along the border was con­ structed to protect already annexed territory from sudden raids by nomadic groups. Simultaneously the Russians resorted to diplo­ macy to keep the nomads weak. Because there were no real bound­ aries, other than rivers, in the steppe, capable and aggressive native leaders sometimes united a large number of tribal groups. These tribal confederations were a dangerous military threat to the set­ tlements and scattered military outposts along the frontier. Rus­ sian diplomacy was designed to diminish the danger by following the time-honored principle of imperial policy, divide and rule. Once a group found itself isolated and exposed to the hostility of other tribes, whether directly or indirectly as a result of Russian policies, it frequently sought Russian protection. The next step was usually legal submission to the tsar followed by outright sub­ jugation. The defensive line of forts was then extended to swallow the newly acquired territory; the people were placed under Rus­ sian administration, while the Russians prepared to “defend” themselves from the next group that wandered just beyond the border. This process of extending Russia’s borders can be seen in the acquisition of the Ukraine. On the Southeastern Frontier, also, a defensive line was advanced in similar stages. The distance of the region from the heart of Muscovy and the military might of the nomads made expansion to the southeast an affair of long duration. Whereas within less than a century after the conquest of Kazan in 1552 Russians had traversed the vast ex­ panse of Siberia and had advanced significantly into the Ukraine, it was more than three centuries before Central Asia was taken into the Empire. Two of those three centuries were spent in subduing the steppe peoples on the Southeastern Frontier. This study treats the conquest of one of these peoples, the Bash­ kirs. For almost two hundred years after the conquest of Kazan in 1552 the Russians moved most cautiously to the southeast. Native opposition was reflected in a series of colonial wars which frus­ trated Russian designs. Not until the third decade of the eight­ eenth century did the Russians make a major effort in this region. At that time a large expedition was organized that within a few years advanced the frontier several hundred miles. In reaction the native inhabitants engaged the Russians in a vicious war which



continued intermittently for five years. The Russians succeeded in imposing peace upon the tribesmen by a combination of military power and diplomacy that made loyal native allies their most effec­ tive agents in destroying, root and branch, the hostile groups. To maintain control over conquered areas, meanwhile, the Russian government adopted ambitious plans for advancing the line of fron­ tier forts and military towns that sealed off the region, isolating its peoples from reinforcements beyond the borders of the Southeast­ ern Frontier. The results of the Russian conquest were the disrup­ tion of the native societies, the annihilation of perhaps one-third of the populace, and the addition of vast territory, rich in natural resources, to the expanding Russian Empire. By the middle of the eighteenth century the line of forts along the Ural River to the Caspian Sea had closed the “Ural Gates,“ the level passageway be­ tween the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea through which for centuries Asiatic nomads had streamed into Europe. This line then became the base for the subsequent conquest of Kazakhstan and Turkestan. The conquest of Bashkiria was a significant step to em­ pire.


The Southeastern Frontier: Lands and Peoples

G eo g raph y


C l im a t e

The region astride the southern part of the Ural range, bounded on the west by the Volga River, on the north by the Kama, on the south by the middle course of the Ural River, and on the east by the Tobol, was the land of the Bashkirs. The present-day Soviet autonomous republic of Bashkiria, which is about the size of the state of Illinois, is a considerably reduced remnant of this once more extensive territory. The terrain varies greatly, including the eastern portion of the Russian Plain, the western slopes of the Ural range, the southern section of these mountains, and part of the West Siberian Lowland. The rocky peaks of the mountains reach 5,000 feet or more. Be­ low the heights are meadows and mountain marshes. The moun­ tain slopes and valleys are forested. North of the fifty-fourth par­ allel the trees are coniferous; south of that latitude deciduous trees appear in increasing numbers. Farther to the southwest the forest cover decreases, giving way to wooded steppe and finally to grassy steppe. On the Siberian side of the mountains the heights fall off into a wooded grassland which turns into grassy steppe toward the south. This region has four months of relatively warm weather with temperatures above 50 degrees F, although 85 to 90 degrees is not uncommon. Spring is very short. The climate is generally cooler and wetter in the northwest, warmer and drier to the southeast, av­ eraging from sixteen to twenty-four inches of precipitation from south to north. The winters are long and severe. Temperatures fall to -40 degrees in the mountains and the snow cover averages from ten to over twenty inches. Occasionally extremely heavy snowfalls occur. The severe cold and heavy snows often caused hardship for animals and men and brought military campaigns to a halt.



The low evaporation rate and the condensation of moisture in the mountains created a complex river system with an abundance of water. The largest river is the Belaia, which flows westward out of the southern Urals, swings northward, and finally falls into the Kama River. W ith terrain varying from steep, craggy canyons, whose sides rise from 150 to 350 feet above the river bed, to nar­ row, gently sloping valleys covered with forest, the Belaia is fed by many tributaries. The most important is the Ufa River which flows out of the mountains through shallow valleys from two to ten miles wide, joining the Belaia at the site of the town of Ufa. Streams flowing from the eastern and southern slopes of the moun­ tains form the Ural River system. Late in summer the water level in the rivers falls significantly; in winter from October to April the streams are frozen. The major rivers, other than the Belaia, Ufa, and Ural, are pe­ ripheral. In the west the Volga served as a barrier which inhibited the movement of nomadic peoples; with their large herds of live­ stock the nomads were especially vulnerable to attack when cross­ ing large streams. The Volga was also a major artery of communi­ cation for the Russians, and by the end of the sixteenth century a number of important towns had been built at strategic locations from Kazan all the way to the Caspian Sea. In the north the Kama performed similar functions. The eastern boundary of Bashkiria, the Tobol River, was not important as a waterway, but it did sepa­ rate the Kazakhs from the Bashkirs. In the south the Samara River, a tributary of the Volga, and the middle course of the Ural River almost meet, so that the two served as an important river route, and also divided Bashkir territory from the Kazakh Steppe to the south. East of the Volga and south of Bashkiria lay the land of the Ka­ zakhs, a land that stretched eastward from the lower Ural River to the Altai Mountains on the border of China. Geographically this area is a vast plain approximately 1,800 miles from east to west, 1,000 miles from north to south at its widest point, and approxi­ mately one million square miles in area. In the north along the borders of western Siberia is a narrow band of intermittently wooded country with birch groves and oc­ casionally aspen and willow. The soil is rich and the grass cover consequently heavy, the obvious reason the nomads pressed north­ ward. To the south the soil quality declines, the trees disappear,



and the grass becomes less luxuriant. Gradually the steppe turns drier and eventually becomes either sand, clay, or rocky desert. T he plant life in the desert regions is limited to drought-resistant types. Only camels can exist continuously in the drier regions. The northern part of the Kazakh Steppe is drained by the Irtysh River and its tributaries, which flow to the northwest. Farther to the south the whole region is an inland drainage area. The streams flow into the Aral Sea, the Caspian Sea, or simply into the desert until they disappear. The Talas, Chu, Hi, Irgiz, Turgai, and the Irtysh originate in the melting snow of mountains. Consequently they flood in the spring and in the summer sometimes become very shallow or completely dry up. The climate of Kazakhstan is continental and dry. In January the mean temperature on the lower Syr Darya is lower than that on the Gulf of Finland. On the other hand, summer temperatures are high, especially in the south where the mean is slightly higher than that of the tropics. Precipitation is low, averaging two to three inches from Novem­ ber to March. It seldom rains in the summer in the south, although the average reaches ten inches in the north. The snow cover varies from two to four inches in the vicinity of the Aral Sea, and is ap­ proximately twelve inches in the north. These natural features exerted a primary influence on the so­ ciety of the nomadic peoples who inhabited the region. Climate and geography determined the annual migration pattern, the type of animal on which the people lived, and many other aspects of nomadic life. When the Russians attempted to penetrate the re­ gion they were forced to adapt their tactics and strategy to the nat­ ural features. They found that the great expanse of steppe stretch­ ing limitlessly to the south and east was an open frontier with few defensible points, and that the Ural Mountains were repeatedly used by the native peoples as almost impregnable retreats when the Russian forces pressed them too severely. T


P eoples

To simplify the task of identifying and locating the native in­ habitants who will be frequently mentioned in the following chap­ ters, a brief note on each of the major groups follows. The survey begins with the Middle-Volga peoples, who first engaged the atten­ tion of the Russians, then moves to cultural areas that, as far as the Russians were concerned, were successively more remote.



A number of minor groups, the Mordvinians, Mari (Cheremises), Chuvashes, and Udmurts (Votiaks), lived mostly between Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan. Ethnologically they were largely the descendants of the indigenous Finnish inhabitants, but Turkic groups had migrated into the region and mixed with them. As the Muscovite state expanded eastward these peoples were subjugated to Russian authority and many were ultimately enserfed. The con­ quest of the Khanate of Kazan in the middle of the sixteenth cen­ tury brought most of them under Russian control. In and around Kazan were the Kazan Tatars. They were a mix­ ture of indigenous peoples, the ancient Bulgars, and of later Turkic groups. In the fifteenth century the Khanate of Kazan came into being as one of the splinter, succession states of the Golden Horde. Bashkirs inhabited the area southeast of Kazan as far south as the middle course of the Ural River and east into western Siberia. They spoke a Turkic language but were also of mixed origin. They were identified by name as the inhabitants of this region as early as the tenth century, when they were noted by Arab travelers and geographers. After the Golden Horde lost control of them in the fifteenth century, the Bashkirs became subjects of three differ­ ent powers. Those in the largest and most populated section, the southwestern, submitted to the Nogai Horde. The Khanate of Ka­ zan assumed authority over the northwestern part, and the Sibe­ rian Khanate collected tribute from the Bashkirs on the Siberian side of the Ural Mountains. These three divisions were known as the Nogai, Kazan, and Siberian dorogas respectively. By the sev­ enteenth century the Russians identified another doroga called the Osinsk Doroga. It was a narrow band of territory lying north of Ufa. The word “doroga” was derived from the Golden Horde ti­ tle daruga, a tax official. It was later used in the sense of a tax dis­ trict. The Nogai Horde, another splinter group of the Golden Horde, ranged over an extensive area on both sides of the lower Volga. After the Russians conquered Kazan and Astrakhan in the middle of the sixteenth century, the Nogais split into two groups. One oc­ cupied the area between the Ural River and the Volga; the other moved south into the Kuban River region. Western Siberia became the domain of a petty Tatar khanate, called the Siberian Khanate by the Russians, which was conquered around 1600 when the Muscovites moved into western Siberia.



Of greater importance were the Kazakhs and Uzbeks. Both T u r­ kic in origin, they occupied the Kazakh Steppe. In the late fifteenth century the Uzbeks migrated south into Central Asia and settled down to an agricultural life. The Kazakhs remained in the region they still occupy. The Karakalpaks were closely related to the Kazakhs. From the sixteenth century most of them lived in the vicinity of the lower Syr Darya, but isolated groups spread as far as the Emba and even the lower Volga. Farther to the east lived several other groups, the most impor­ tant of which were the Mongols. The Eastern Mongols or Khalkhas occupied Mongolia proper. The Western Mongols included several peoples of importance in the history of Russia's Southeast­ ern Frontier. The Kalmyks, who migrated westward in the early seventeenth century, eventually stopped in the lower Volga area. Another powerful Western Mongol aggregation was that of the Jungars, who lived in northern Sinkiang south of the upper Irtysh River. Their history will be noted later as they become involved in the events on the Southeastern Frontier. The livelihoods of the various native peoples depended on the climate and terrain. Because the northern part of Bashkiria and the mountainous areas were heavily forested, the principal occu­ pations of the inhabitants were hunting, trapping, fishing, and beekeeping. They lived in small, permanent or semipermanent settlements much as did the woodland dwellers to the north and in western Siberia. In the wooded steppe and grassy steppe to the south the Bashkirs led a life of pastoral nomadism similar to that of the Kazakhs and other Central Asian steppe nomads. They raised horses, sheep, goats, camels, and a few cattle. Horses and sheep were the most common. Horses were especially valued because of their usefulness in war, and the Bashkir horses were distinguished for swiftness, strength, and endurance. The nomads did not wander at random. In spring they moved generally northward, to spend the summer in the northern steppe areas where a more plentiful supply of grass was available for graz­ ing. In the fall they moved southward to avoid the heavier snow­ falls and the severe winter weather of the north. This cycle was affected by variations in the weather from year to year, the condi­ tion of the grass, the size of the livestock herds, as well as by con-



flicts with other peoples or internecine warfare between tribes and clans within the large group. During normal periods of stability each tribe and clan had ex­ clusive use of its own territory. The more affluent groups preemp­ ted the choicer sections of the prairie and left the less favorable sections to other tribes who in turn competed for status and posi­ tion, until a hierarchically organized equilibrium was established. A similar process went on as the tribal clans competed with each other and, further down the line, individual families likewise made their adjustment within the clan. The equilibrium thus ob­ tained was constantly subject to change as the influence of families, clans, and tribes waxed and waned. In Kazakhstan this process was carried out on an even larger scale. Divided into three hordes tra­ ditionally descended from three brothers, the Kazakhs were ruled by three khans, one for each horde, itself a large aggregation of tribes. A particularly capable khan sometimes brought virtually all the Kazakhs in all three hordes into a single loose confedera­ tion. The shifting nature of the alignments at the various levels pre­ sented Russian frontier officials with problems. There was no firmly established central authority with whom to deal. While the Russians were negotiating with one temporarily peaceful group, another group would be raiding Russian territory. Even the Ka­ zakh khans who exerted considerable influence over a large num­ ber of tribes and clans often had their policies undercut by dissi­ dent chieftains within their own horde. The religion of the nomads was a factor in delaying the Russian conquest. Most of these peoples were Moslems. Islam reached the Kazan area as early as the ninth century and spread from there to the Bashkirs. By the fourteenth century the Turco-Mongols of the steppes had adopted the religion. Those in and around Kazan, Crimea, and Turkestan were devout; more remote peoples were only nominally Moslems, especially the Kazakhs among whom a form of shamanism retained some influence. A common religion and similar customs among the nomads served as a unifying agent used by Ottoman Turkey and Crimea—to a lesser extent by the Central Asian khanates—in their attempts to organize a coalition against Moscow. Mullahs frequently played a prominent role in rallying the nomads to fight Christian Russia. The very nature of his society predisposed the nomad to the mil-



itary life. Mobility was his prime characteristic. His livelihood, his herds of livestock, his home, the yurt (a felt tent), and his family all moved with him. Organizing the annual movements of tribes called for logistics at a relatively sophisticated level. There could be no walls for defense; security depended on constant vigilance, mobility, readiness. Once the nomad had adopted the horse, the stir­ rup, and the compound bow, he became the horse-archer, the most formidable of cavalrymen until modem times. Living in the north­ ern steppes in a severe climate he found life demanding and often cruel. He had to be as tough and durable as his hardy horse which could subsist on the meager forage of the windy, snow-covered prairie through the severest winters. In the struggle for existence, the conquest of neighboring grass­ land was common; rule or be ruled was a principle of survival. Periodically a barbaric leader of great ability subjected a huge number of tribes to his will. When the concentration of men and animals became more than the immediately surrounding grasslands could support, migration for some was the only solution. The great steppe highway leading westward from Mongolia through south­ ern Russia into central Europe and to increasingly lusher pastures lured the tribes onward. Repercussions of these migrations and the terrible military might of the nomads were felt in China, in India, in Russia, in Rome. Like tides of the sea, wave after wave of fierce and powerful nomads swept westward through the “Ural Gates** —Scythian, Hun, Mongol. With the conquest of Bashkiria, these gates were closed, and the ancient threat to Europe ended. R

u s s ia n

E x p a n s io n

to th e

So u t h e a s t

Russia’s attitudes and motives in moving southeast had been conditioned by her previous unhappy experiences with the steppe nomads over a long period of time. The most shocking of these ex­ periences was the onslaught of the Mongols in the thirteenth cen­ tury. The Turco-Mongol conquest was a catastrophic blow to the medieval Russian principalities. For over two centuries the Golden Horde and its succession states dominated the politics of Russia, but it was not, as often conceived, a period of unrelieved stagna­ tion. During these centuries, in a development showing parallels with the contemporary state-building in Western Europe, the Mus­ covite princes created the state that came to dominate all Russia. After 1480, the date which traditionally marks the end of the



“Tatar Yoke,” the Russians, so often attacked from the east, began a reverse movement into Asia. In the middle of the sixteenth cen­ tury occurred the great event that is the key to the growth of the Russian Empire in Asia, the conquest of Kazan. When the armies of Ivan IV defeated the Kazan Tatars, Muscovy was still an iso­ lated state of second rank covering a large but inhospitable terri­ tory in central and northern European Russia. By conquering the Kazan Khanate and seizing its lands, Ivan IV destroyed the major obstacle to Russia’s eastward expansion, and began the movement that led ultimately to the creation of the gigantic, multinational Russian empire in Asia. The conquest of Kazan has passed into dramatic legend and songs. After centuries of suffering from the attacks of the steppe nomads, the Russians saw in the fall of the city a symbolic destruc­ tion of the power of their enemies. As a result the events of the campaign were raised to the proportions of an epic. Actually, a fortress with wooden walls, defended by a force of about 30,000 Tatars armed mostly with bows and arrows, fell to an army of 150,000. Nevertheless, there were heroic actions on both sides, and the victory of the Russians foretold the consequences of their grow­ ing technological superiority, symbolized by the use of gunpowder in the explosion which opened the walls to the attackers. After capturing Kazan, Ivan next turned to clearing the Volga all the way to the Caspian Sea. Control of the river offered two major advantages, the first commercial, the second strategic. Mer­ chants desired to increase their trade with Persia, Central Asia, and even India. The Volga was a gateway to these exotic countries. Also, the Volga was sufficiently broad to make it difficult for no­ mads to cross. Control of the river gave the Russians an improved position in their struggle with the steppe peoples to the east. The Khanate of Kazan, which the Russians inherited, had very indefinite boundaries. Centered around Kazan near the junction of the Kama and the Volga, the basically Tatar khanate included in its population the Mari (Cheremises), the Chuvashes, the Ud­ murts, and, farther to the east, the Bashkirs. In addition to these peoples there were many Russians living within the khanate, de­ scendants of migrants who had lived in the area for many genera­ tions or of Russians captured by the Tatars and enserfed. Opposition to Russia did not end with the capture of the city of Kazan. Supported by the Crimean Tatars and the Turks, certain



elements of the population, mainly the Tatars, Mari, and Ud­ murts, continued to resist the Russians. A five-year struggle marked the effort to “pacify'* the peoples of the khanate. Sporadic out­ breaks continued to occur in the following years, and plans were made for the restoration of the khanate by the former ruling class, who because of common religion and customs favored a Crimean alignment. As considerable military strength was required to put down these outbreaks, the first task of the Russians was the mili­ tary organization of the region. This was combined with two other matters—colonization of the new territory and the transformation of the local population into loyal subjects of the tsar. The immediate problem was the establishment of garrisons and forts at strategic locations to strengthen Russia's position. Sviiazhsk and a number of other outposts had been built just be­ fore or during the campaign of 1552. Shortly after the conquest, Ivan refortified Kazan, making it into a first-class fortress. Chebok­ sary, Laishev, and Tetiushi as well as a number of outposts were built between 1555 and 1558. When the people had been subdued, a regular administration was established to govern them. As a general rule Moscow did not interfere with internal affairs on the local level. The Russian gov­ ernment was mostly concerned with the faithful delivery of trib­ ute. The customary social and political organizations were subject only to ultimate direction from Moscow. There were certain exceptions to the general policy of non­ interference. One of the most important of these concerned the matter of colonization. The gradual illegal movement of Russian peasants toward the frontier could not be controlled by the admin­ istration. Nor could the state authorities prevent the Finnish peo­ ples of the newly acquired middle Volga territory from fleeing eastward. Udmurts, Chuvashes, and other former subjects of the Kazan Tatars, facing enserfment, fled into the frontier region. In addition, because the Russian administration had only partial suc­ cess in obtaining the assistance and cooperation of the native leadership, it was compelled to settle Russian service gentry in the vicinity of the forts.1 One result of a military system that relied to a 1. In the Muscovite state there were two major categories of aristocracy. T he first was the old nobility which was composed of the descendants of the princely and boyar families. The second, and lesser category, was not, strictly speaking, noble, be­ cause the members held no title of nobility, although they are frequently so entitled



large extent on this group was a demand for land to distribute to the servitors, which meant the expropriation of native lands. Bo­ yars from Moscow entered the middle Volga region and took over immense estates. By 1678, a little over a century after the conquest, there were approximately 300,000 peasants of Russian origin in the area. The Church, too, was a large landholder and colonizer. In the first forty years of the seventeenth century the Church increased its ploughed land three times while the number of peasants cultivat­ ing the land doubled. Another important exception to the rule of noninterference oc­ curred in the realm of religion. An archbishopric was established in Kazan in 1555, and among the duties of the clergy was the conver­ sion of the local peoples. On the whole the conversions were few and largely superficial when they did take place. Islam retained its hold. The minor favors offered to Christians had little real effect. Nor were Russian officials always enthusiastic about converting the natives; acceptance of Orthodoxy meant exemption from the pay­ ment of tribute. Disturbances in the frontier region after 1557 came from two sources. One was the local objection to paying tribute and to com­ pulsory military or labor service demanded by the Russians. The compulsory service was especially onerous in this age of almost con­ tinuous war. Native opposition took several forms. Many of the more obdurate fled to the east or south. Those who remained pro­ tested by rising against their oppressors and attempting to expel them. Several outbreaks occurred during the last quarter of the sixteenth century. A particularly widespread colonial war in 160910 coincided with the Time of Trouble. Much later the rebellion of Sten’ka Razin involved many of the dissident peoples in the eastin English translations. This category was made up of a large group of state servitors. Ordinarily a member of this class received a land grant from the sovereign and in re­ turn owed the state service in the military or in the bureaucracy. By the last half of the seventeenth century the two categories were merging. Peter the Great attempted to complete the process in 1722 with his “Table of Ranks’* which established the principle that state service was the only way to acquire social position and the rank of nobility, but the lower ranks were still often called service people. In this work the titles “service people,” "service gentry,” and “service men,” refer to these lesser servitors. “Service foreigners” and “service T atars” formed a similar class. Non-Russians who entered the state service were also given land grants and privileges comparable to those of the Russian service gentry. These foreign servitors made up a significant part of the Russian military forces in the frontier regions.



em frontier area. T o quell these disturbances the Russian govern­ ment erected an ever-growing network of forts and outposts. The other source of trouble was external. The steppe nomads frequently made raids into Russian territory seeking booty and captives to be sold in the slave markets of Central Asia and Crimea. In order to halt these raids Ivan IV organized the frontier service in 1571, and the first section of a defensive line was constructed. Measures similar to those taken in the south against the Crimeans were soon initiated against the Bashkirs, Nogais, and others in the east and southeast. In the former territory of Kazan, the first line extended from Tetiushi to Alatyr, or from the Volga westward to the Sura River. The garrisons in the forts were composed mainly of Tatars in the Russian service and of Russian and Chuvash peas­ ants. Samara on the Volga and Ufa in Bashkiria were founded in 1586, Tsaritsyn in 1589, and Saratov in 1590. These fortified towns, although not part of a defensive line, were built at strategic loca­ tions. The fortified lines were slowly pushed farther into the fron­ tier area as the peoples behind them came under firmer control, but many years were to elapse before the overall network of forts and defensive lines was connected into a systematic whole. A defensive line consisted of fortified towns established at stra­ tegic points near river junctions, fording places, or at portage points to inhibit the movement of groups of nomads. Forts were surrounded by log palisades, trenches, and earthworks. A garrison of troops was stationed at each fort under a military governor who held civil authority as well as commanding the military. Between the strong points, outposts of varying sizes filled gaps in the line. Farther out in the steppe advanced observation points gave warn­ ing of the approach of hostile parties. Where heavily forested areas existed between forts, they were left uncut to impede the move­ ment of horsemen. Trails through these woods were obstructed with piles of fallen trees. Because the frontier forces were not numerous the Russians oc­ casionally resorted to a policy of “divide and rule/* although peace­ ful persuasion of the natives was preferred. Fostered hostilities led to feuds, raids, and sometimes intertribal wars, which disturbed the frontier peoples and frustrated the Russians in their efforts to pacify the area so that tribute could be levied and collected. The Russians expended great effort to attract the support of the chiefs of the various tribes and clans. The policy of courting the



allegiance of the leading elements of the colonial peoples had a long history. The Muscovites customarily leaned heavily on native support for ruling the frontier areas. They dealt with the clan lead­ ers, who in turn carried out the government's directions and poli­ cies. T he local peoples were disturbed as little as possible. Follow­ ing its general practice, to insure the loyalty of the local chiefs and princes the Russian administration enrolled many of them as “serv­ ice foreigners" and granted them title to their land as well as privi­ leges resembling those of the Russian service gentry. They were also frequently exempted from tribute. A d m i n is t r a t io n

of the

F r o n t ie r A r e a

After the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan the Russian govern­ ment was occupied both in subduing the various peoples to the east and southeast and in organizing an administrative system to rule the area as it was subjugated. Immediately after the fall of Kazan in 1552, central control of the new territory was directed by the al­ ready existing central institutions—the tsar, the Duma, and the government departments. Late in the sixteenth century a special territorial department, called the Department of Kazan, was organ­ ized to take charge of the peoples in the territory of the former khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia. By 1637 Siberian af­ fairs had reached such complexity that the Siberian territories were placed under the jurisdiction of a newly organized Siberian Department. The Kazan Department submitted its reports to the tsar himself and to the Boyar Duma and its committees. The Mus­ covite government was never completely consistent. Even after the organization of the Kazan Department, other departments were concerned in its affairs. The Department of Military Affairs pro­ vided the colonial areas with military governors, other officers, and troops. The Department of Estates was in charge of landed prop­ erty which had been granted to the service nobility. The Depart­ ment of Ambassadors was responsible for relations of the Musco­ vite state with the peoples beyond the frontier. The regional administration was initially placed in charge of a governor in Kazan who was responsible to the central administra­ tion, to the concerned departments, the tsar, and the Duma until the Department of Kazan was organized, and thereafter to the lat­ ter institution. The town governors were selected by the tsar through the Mili-



tary Department and ordinarily held office for two or three years. On assignment each governor was given a detailed set of instruc­ tions which stated the principal duties and the areas under his jurisdiction. In the administrative centers the instructions were kept on file so each succeeding official would be informed of the policies to be followed in carrying out his responsibilities. After 1649 further guidance was provided by the Law Code of Aleksei Mikhailovich. When the military governor left office, his records were inspected by his replacement to ensure that no shortages ex­ isted and that no illegalities had been committed. T o assist him in the preparation of records and reports the town governor had a staff of secretaries and clerks; he had revenue officials to collect tribute and other levies; and, to man the lesser forts and outposts, he had other military officers of lower rank. The governor had a wide range of powers. He was in charge of military affairs, the civil administration of the district, and he also held judicial authority. Because the frontier areas were far from Moscow and communica­ tions were difficult, the town governor was given more latitude in using his own initiative than was common in the interior provinces closer to Moscow. At the lowest level, the government, in line with its policy of attracting the allegiance of the upper classes, attempted to give re­ sponsibility for local affairs, especially the tribute collection, to the clan elders. As long as the levies were forthcoming the local peoples were left largely to their own affairs under the direction of their own leaders. Even this brief survey of Muscovite expansion into the middle and lower Volga region reveals the major determinants of Russian activity on the steppe frontier east of the Volga. The pattern was established early and remained extraordinarily persistent. The need to defend the border from hostile nomads, the desire to de­ velop trade with Asia, and the hope of exploiting the human and natural resources of the colonial territory motivated the move­ ment. Russian encroachment on their territory roused the formid­ able opposition of the native peoples, compelling the government to adopt a dual policy of force and persuasion, a policy that fell short of expectations. Why persuasion alone failed will be seen in the following chapters which trace the slow advances of the Rus­ sians on this frontier.


Moscow and Bashkiria

E arly R

u s s ia n


e l a t io n s w i t h


B a s h k ir s

Although it claimed all the lands and peoples of the former Khan­ ate of Kazan, including the Kazan Doroga of Bashkiria, Moscow was unable to exert its authority much beyond the Kama River. Shortly after the fall of Kazan in 1552 a representation of Bashkirs from the Kazan Doroga appeared in Moscow asking to be taken under Russian protection. They claimed to be seeking relief from Nogai oppression. In the following years a number of other depu­ tations made similar requests.1 Because of these embassies the Rus­ sians insisted that the Bashkirs had not been forced to submit to Moscow. The long series of wars carried on to subjugate the Bash­ kirs in the next two centuries revealed that the delegations had not been entirely representative, although by 1557 a considerable num­ ber of Bashkirs in the Kazan and Nogai dorogas had recognized Russian suzerainty, probably pressured by the hardships of an es­ pecially severe winter. They had been subject to overlords before the arrival of the Russians and simply transferred their allegiance. The area east of the Ural Mountains remained subject to the Sibe­ rian Tatars until the Russians drove out Kuchum, Khan of Sibe­ ria, late in the sixteenth century. Thereafter, Moscow claimed Siberian Bashkiria as well. The difference between the Russian and Bashkir points of view should be noted here. T o the Russians, rebellion by those who had once sworn allegiance was treason. To the Bashkirs, rebellion was an inalienable right. In 1557 some of the leaders voluntarily ac­ cepted Russian suzerainty. They thought themselves free to re­ nounce this connection just as voluntarily, a common custom 1. Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisei (30 vols, to date, St. Petersburg and Mos­ cow, 1841- ), iß, first half, *81.



among nomadic peoples of the region. The Russians, however, saw the matter differently, calling those who supported Russia "loyal Bashkirs" and those who opposed her "rebels." "Loyal" Bashkirs were often considered traitors by their own people.2 The first phase of the Russian conquest and annexation of Bash­ kiria was a period of establishing control and eliciting formal rec­ ognition of Russian authority. After the fall of Kazan, Russian en­ terprisers sought land grants in the Ural region to exploit the fur and other resources. The most famous of these was the merchant dynasty of the Stroganovs. The local peoples objected to the com­ ing of these foreigners. Russian suzerainty was one thing, Russian occupation of their land was something else again. In 1572, Bash­ kirs, Mari, Udmurts, Ostiaks (Khanti), and Nogais opposed the building of the Stroganov settlements along the Kama.8 Again in 1581 a Stroganov town in the same area was attacked and burned by a group including Bashkirs.4 Bashkirs in the Nogai Doroga and their former suzerains, the Nogais, were very sensitive about Rus­ sian movements in their territory. When envoys to the Nogai Horde in 1586 stated that the Russians planned to build a town near the confluence of the Ufa and Belaia rivers as a protective measure against the former khan of Siberia and as a center for the collection of tribute from the Bashkirs, the Nogais replied by in­ forming the governor of Astrakhan that "the Sovereign’s [the Rus­ sian tsar’s] towns on the Ufa and Samara must not be built."5 T he Bashkirs particularly were active in their opposition to foreign penetration, as in 1587 when they vigorously attacked Russian frontier settlements.® During the disorders of the Time of Trouble the Bashkirs again took the opportunity to rise against the Muscovites. Tatars, Chu­ vashes, Mari, Udmurts, and others joined them. The whole eastern frontier flamed into war against the Russians. A number of towns а. Materially po istorii Bashkirskoi ASSR (Vols. 1, 3, and 4 in two parts, Moscow and Leningrad, 1936-58) (hereafter d ted as Materialy BASSR), 1, 164-65, 186-87; Akty istoricheskie (5 vols. St. Petersburg, 1841-44) (hereafter d ted as AI), 4, 335-37. 3. G. F. Miller, Istoriia Sibiri (a vols. Moscow and Leningrad, 1937, 1940)» i , a n and Appendix, document No. 4, 338. 4. V. Shishonko, ed., Permskaia letopis*s 1263-1881 g., (5 vols. Perm, 1881-89), L 98. 5. P. P. Pekarskii, “Kogda i dlia chego osnovany gg. Ufa i Samara," Sbomik otdeleniia russkogo iazyka i slovesnosti Imperatorskoi akademii nauk, 10 (1873), No. 5,

i-«9б. Russkaia istoricheskaia biblioteka

(39 vols. St. Petersburg, 1873-1937), a, 383.



and settlements were besieged and burned.7 Even after order was reestablished under the first Romanovs, Russian aims in Bashkiria were frustrated when the Bashkirs appealed for aid to the Siberian Tatars and the Kalmyks, who were also experiencing pressure from Moscow. In the seventeenth century the Muscovite state faced a new threat in the southeast. The migration of the Kalmyks disturbed the peoples along the frontier from the Altai Mountains to the Volga River.8 The Kalmyks, a branch of the Western Mongols, migrated westward after clashing with other Mongol groups in the early seventeenth century. Rapidly passing through the Kazakh Steppe where they were vigorously opposed by the Siberian Tatars and the Kazakhs, they soon reached the Volga where they fought the Nogais for control of the steppe in that region. In the 1640s they even attempted to cross the Volga but were thrust back by the Russians. They settled down in the territory between the Ural and Volga rivers. Many Nogais were absorbed by them, others fled north, still others south. Joint Kalmyk and Nogai attacks on the Russian frontier towns led the Muscovites to build a new defensive line southeast of Kazan. Because of its location beyond the Kama it was called the Trans-Kama Line. The first three ostrogs were Aktachinsk on the Aktai, Sheshminsk on the Sheshma, and Menzelinsk on the Menzela River. This insignificant little line marked the first step into Bashkiria. Between 1652 and 1657 the old Trans-Kama Line was sup­ planted by a new one. Starting at the Volga it extended almost to the mouth of the Belaia River in Bashkir territory. The principal forts were Belyi Yar, Eryklinsk, Tiinsk, Biliarsk, Novosheshminsk, Kichuevsk, Zainsk, and Menzelinsk. T he attitude of the frontier peoples and the problems faced by the Russians in trying to expand into this area are clearly revealed in the great frontier war of 1662-64. An examination of the causes must begin with the reasons that led the Russian government to in­ crease the tribute levies on their frontier subjects in the mid­ seventeenth century. Struggles with Poland over the Ukraine and with Sweden in Li7. Materialy BASSR, 1, 155-56; Dopolnenie k aktam istoricheskim (12 vols. St. Petersburg, 1846-72) (hereafter cited as DAT), 6 ,261. 8. N. V. Ustiugov, “Bashkirskoe vosstanie 1662-1664 gg.,” Istoricheskie xapiski, 24, (Moscow, 1947) (hereafter d te d as Ustiugov, 7Z), 48ft.



vonia demanded vast sums of revenue to finance the armies. At the same time international trade brought about an outflow of gold and silver primarily because foreign merchants had been given special privileges in Russia. Complaints by Russian mer­ chants led to the curtailment of foreign commercial activity in a series of trade measures. To meet the immediate crisis the govern­ ment instituted money reforms which led to inflation. Serious crop failures in 1660 and 1661 brought hardship to many as the price rise in grain added to the inflation.9 Uprisings in several places in Muscovy reflected the growing unrest. Seeking by every means possible to increase the state revenue, the government tried to ex­ tend and intensify the collection of tribute from the colonials. In Bashkiria this immediate cause was aggravated by the long­ term discontent over land seized by the many Russian peasants and the non-Russian peoples of the middle Volga and the lower Kama region who were fleeing into Bashkiria to escape serfdom. The refugees occupied the land used by the Bashkirs for their livestock. The Department of Kazan ordered the military governor of Ufa to keep these migrants out, citing the complaints of Bashkir leaders: these migrant Russians, Tatars, Chuvashes, Cheremises, and Votiaks settled in many villages in their [the Bashkirs’] an­ cient territory. They ploughed the fields and cut the hay, cut down much of the forest including good bee trees . . . and be­ cause of the great number of people in their territory, the wild animals . . . have fled and the beaver have been wasted. They have begun to kill the animals and catch the fish and there is no place for the horse herds and cattle.10 Still another point of contention and a problem endemic in co­ lonial areas was oppression and corruption on the part of local gov­ ernmental officials. The military governors, tribute collectors, and others used their official positions to enrich themselves. Property was seized, and even the wives and children of the tribute payers were impressed into serfdom. During the interrogation of certain Bashkir representatives, the governor of Ufa discovered that “Ivan Pavlov and Ivan Kulakov . . . had seized their good horses and 9. Tsentralnyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov (hereafter cited as TsGADA), Prikaznye delà starykh let, 1660 g., d. 104, L. 120, as quoted in Ustiugov, IZ, pp. 57-58. 10. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,82.



beaver pelts and all sorts of household articles . . . and seized their wives and children and had [even] taken away their clothes and had left their wives with only one garment/*11 Complaints to the local officials seldom, if ever, brought results, although the abuses worried the government. Because of the dire need for revenue, dissatisfaction among tribute payers was a seri­ ous problem. The Bashkirs were a nomadic people, and when they felt unduly oppressed many decamped, migrating to regions be­ yond the reach of the government. To prevent the flight of tribute­ paying subjects there was one decree after another, each ordering an end to these bureaucratic extortions; but in spite of the threat of severe punishment for illegal seizures of property, the abuses continued. In 1661 reports from outposts in Bashkiria gave ample evidence of dissatisfaction. Starting among the Tatars along the Kama River in the vicinity of the Trans-Kama Line, disturbances broke out in 1662, spread rapidly throughout Bashkiria, and involved ulti­ mately most other frontier peoples. Seizing the opportunity, the heirs of Khan Kuchum also entered the fray and a number of Bash­ kir leaders in the Siberian Doroga took up their cause, the restora­ tion of the old Siberian khanate: T he prince of the Kuchumids with Kalmyks and with Tatars and with Bashkirs . . . went to take Tobolsk and kill the serv­ ice people; and they agreed that the prince of the Kuchumids was to be located in Tobolsk and to possess all Siberia and all the Siberian towns were to pay tribute to this prince.1213 During the course of the two-year war the frontier peoples “burned and destroyed churches and destroyed many villages and settlements and spilled a great deal of blood and killed and took into captivity many Russian people and sold many people [into slavery]/*18 The Bashkirs turned for aid to sources other than the Kuchu­ mids. They approached Crimea, at the time already involved in the Russo-Polish struggle. It is difficult to determine how much their common religion affected the decision. In the sixteenth cen­ tury the Turks had attempted to form an alliance of Moslems 11. Ibid., p. 171. 12. DAI, 4, 301. 13. Materialy BASSR, 1 , 178.



against Moscow, and on occasion the Bashkirs made a point of calling on their “fellow Moslems“ for aid. Kalmyk envoys to Russia reported that the Bashkirs sent an embassy to the Crimean khan seeking an alliance with him.14 The intention of transferring alle­ giance to Crimea was not universally held by the Bashkirs, because many participated in the war on the side of the Russians.15 The Crimeans promised to send a force to Chemyi Yar and Tsaritsyn to attack certain Tatars and Nogais then subject to the Kalmyks, possibly to acquire control of the Volga there and cut Russian communication with Astrakhan. These Kalmyks, on learn­ ing of the plan, appealed to Moscow for support and promised to aid the Russians in their struggle against the Bashkirs.16 The behavior of the Kalmyks in the uprising of 1662-64 was in­ consistent. Some joined the Kuchumids and Bashkirs; others allied themselves with the Russians. Earlier Russian prohibitions against Bashkir attacks on the Kalmyks indicate that there had been hostil­ ity between them. Cooperation between these groups seemed im­ probable to the Russians, yet during the course of the war the Bashkirs did approach the Kalmyks several times seeking support.17 The former hostility between them had not disappeared, and the Kalmyks not only refused to send aid but attacked the Bashkirs in retaliation for a recent raid.18 On the other hand, multitudes of Bashkirs fled their own territory during the course of the war and joined the Kalmyks in the steppe to the south. A Russian envoy to the Kalmyks was told that some 8,000 Bashkirs were living in the . territory of Daychin Tayshi (Daichin) and Ayiike Khan (Aiuka), two leading Kalmyk princes. The Kalmyks refused to force them to return to Bashkiria.19 On another occasion in the same year, Bashkirs, Nogais, and Kalmyks marched on Ufa. Apparently the Kalmyks were divided on courses of action. Some princes remained firmly tied to Russia and informed the administration of the activi­ ties of the groups that were hostile. The extent and seriousness of the uprising caught the Russian 14. TsGADA, Kalmytskie delà, K-13, d. 2. 1664 g., L. 1, as quoted in Ustiugov, 1Z, p. 65. See also, DAI, 4,189 and Materialy BASSE, 1, 169. 15. Materialy BASSR, 1 , 159-61, 164-66, 175-79. 16. Ibid., p. 169. 17. Ibid., pp. 165, 17&-79. 18. Ustiugov, IZ, p. 89. 19. Ibid., pp. 90, 94; AI, 4, 335-37.



government unprepared. The local garrisons, as usual, were not strong enough to handle hostile activities on such a scale. T o get closer to the center of events and organize the campaign better, the governor of Astrakhan, G. S. Cherkasskii, was sent to Tsaritsyn. There he marshaled an army of Russians and Astrakhan Tatars.20 In the north the governor of Kazan, F. F. Volkonskii, took com­ mand of other Russian forces, which he directed from his head­ quarters in Menzelinsk. Other detachments were organized and dispatched from Siberia. In addition to military action, the government attempted to eliminate the causes of the unrest. Measures were taken to lighten the obligations of the natives, to limit land seizures, and to police the activities of the local government officials. A decree instructed F. I. Somov, the governor of Ufa, “not to resort to unnecessary se­ verity nor commit brutalities," to ease Bashkir obligations, and not to permit the transfer of land and people subject to tribute into the hands of Russians.21 Vigorous diplomatic action was initiated to prevent potential allies of the Bashkirs from joining them. The hostility of the Kuchumids was beyond resolution, but the Kalmyks presented oppor­ tunities for skillful negotiations. Although these were not com­ pletely successful, at least the Kalmyks did not join wholeheartedly with the Bashkirs. More fruitful were the attempts of the government to divide the Bashkirs internally. As stated earlier, the numbers of Bashkirs who fought on the Russian side were evidence of at least modest success in the policy of favoring “loyal Bashkirs." Even among those who joined in the hostile groups there were considerable differences of opinion. Many who fought against the Russians advocated peace repeatedly at Bashkir councils.22 Thus, in spite of the paucity of Russian forces, the government, by play­ ing on the divisions among the various peoples and exploiting in­ ternal conflicts, was able to defeat the dissidents in 1664. Despite the severity of the repression and the great loss of life and suffering, disturbances continued in the succeeding years. 20. D A I, 4 , 282®; Matcrialy BASSR, z, 160,178,184; Ustiugov, IZ, p. 79. 21. TsGADA, Delà i prigovory pravitel’stvuiushchego senate po Orenburgskoi gubem ii, kn. 1/132, LL. 121 ob.-i22, 12&-186 ob., 135-36, 138, as quoted in Ustiugov, IZ, p. 106. 22. Materialy BASSR, z, 159-61,162,164-66, 175-76, 177-79*



Bashkirs participated in the revolt of Sten'ka Razin in 1667-71, al­ though not to any significant degree.23 One of the greatest of the frontier wars was the so-called Seit Uprising, named by the Russians after the best-known Bashkir leader, Seyid Sadir (Seit Sadurov). This movement began in 1675 and continued intermittently until 1683.24 Dissident groups east of the Volga began attacking Russian settlements. Hostilities spread from the left bank of the Volga and lower Kama into west­ ern Siberia. Numbers of ostrogs and settlements were attacked even in the vicinity of the Trans-Kama Line and Samara. As on earlier occasions the Bashkirs turned to their neighbors for assistance. While they struggled to cast out the Russians, their em­ issaries approached the Crimean Tatars.25 Already involved in the Russo-Turkish war, the Crimeans could do no more than they were already doing. The Kalmyks took a more active role in this struggle. Under Ayiike they supported the Bashkirs at first.26 The Nogais also en­ tered the war, attacked Russia, and even burned Biliarsk in the Trans-Kama Line. The situation looked bleak for the Russians un­ til the Kalmyks suddenly switched sides and attacked their former allies.27 The lack of sources prevents any final determination of the reasons for the Kalmyk change of policy. By 1683 Bashkiria had been “pacified” largely because of Kalmyk assistance. The chronic unrest and the complications of the situation in Bashkiria were major reasons why the Russians began to formulate чplans for a large-scale attack on the problem. Over a century of Russian effort had resulted in little evident change. The TransKama Line, the real limit of Russian control, had advanced only slightly to the southeast. R

u s s ia n


a c t ic s

In attempting to control the nomadic peoples who lived beyond the Trans-Kama Defensive Line the Russians had to devise tactics to meet them on their own ground. The most prominent tactical s j. A. N. Popov, ed., Materialy dlia istorii vozmushcheniia Sten'ki Razina (Mos­ cow, 1857), pp. 2g8ff. 84. AI, 4, 541-42; 5 » 12» 63; Materialy BASSR, i , 203-10; G. Peretiatkovich, Povolzh’e v X V II v. i nachale X V III v. (Odessa, 1882), p. 39. 85. A I, 5,63. 26. Peretiatkovich, pp. 288-91. 27. Materialy BASSR, 1, 39, 209-10.



feature of the wars was that they were fought on horseback. Reports reveal that fully 90 percent of the Russian forces were mounted troops. War was an affair of rapid movement. The Russians usually launched spring campaigns because it was then that the horses of the nomads would be weakest, having spent the winter foraging for grass beneath the snow. Rarely did the Bashkirs mow meadow grass and put it up for hay. Russians also noted that the Bashkirs were very poor fighters on foot. These circumstances explain why the hostiles were most active during the summer and fall. W inter campaigns were difficult for the Russians too, because supply prob­ lems compelled them to live mostly off the land when out in the field. Also, deep snow in the mountains, where the Bashkirs re­ treated when pressed, impeded troop movements. The native cavalrymen generally made hit-and-run raids on set­ tlements and industrial works, burned the buildings, and drove off the inhabitants for later sale as slaves. Unlike the other Central Asian nomads, the Bashkirs were not militarily well organized. They rarely maintained disciplined formations and were easily countered in open battle. They were dangerous ordinarily only in the forests and mountains where their guerrilla tactics were effec­ tive. Even when they controlled most of the territory surrounding the Russian settlements, they seldom attacked major centers. After burning and looting in an area, they came to a halt before the defenses of forts and towns. Except when caught by surprise or greatly outnumbered, the Russian detachments with their superior organization and armaments had little difficulty in defeating the Bashkirs in set battle. Most of the officially reported losses, at least, were on the Bashkir side. One reason for the weakness of the nomads was their inferior weapons. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Bashkirs, Kazakhs, and Kalmyks still used body armor and helmets and fought with lances, sabers, and bows and arrows. Because of readily available iron ore deposits, the Bashkir smiths had long been noted for their armament manufacture. By the eighteenth century they were producing guns in limited quantity. Guns from elsewhere also found their way into the frontier region, but these weapons were frequently obsolete, like the harquebus which was common in the seventeenth century. It had no lock and was aimed by resting it on a wooden support which was fastened to the gun. The weapon was then fired by applying a bark match rubbed with powder di-



rectly to the pithole in the barrel. Awkward, slow, and unwieldy, it could not ordinarily be fired from horseback, a serious disadvan­ tage for the mounted nomads.28 In spite of the dangers, the Russians initially contributed to the modernization of Bashkir weaponry. The friendly Bashkirs who guarded the frontier were frequently furnished firearms. These weapons often fell into the hands of the enemy. As a consequence of the Bashkir wars the Russians sought to restrict the flow of guns into the frontier region. As early as 1675 a town governor forbade the sale of powder, lead, or guns of any kind to Bashkirs and Kal­ myks.29301Many other measures followed, and Russian frontier offi­ cials even attempted to prohibit metalworking among the Bash­ kirs in order to halt the spread of weapons.80 These efforts were not completely successful. The prohibitions were not applied to Bash­ kirs who lived in the regions bordering the Kazakhs, for reasons of self-protection; and in addition, as in frontier America, the natives were supplied with guns, for a price, by enterprising Russian trad­ ers.81 Central Asian merchants also willingly supplied guns to the steppe peoples. As in North America, the invaders, with their ad­ vanced military technology, lost much of their advantage because of the greed of their own people. Another important problem faced by the Russians was the one inherent in war against a nomadic, mobile enemy in a large terri­ tory, namely, communications and supply. The difficulty of sup­ plying outlying posts during the colonial wars demonstrated the hazards of trying to maintain a stronghold without adequately de­ fended communication lines. The outbreak of hostilities found the lines threatened at the very time they were most needed. Also, until local farming developed, garrisons had to be provisioned from elsewhere. Limited attempts to develop farming near the forts and outposts to make the garrisons at least partially self-sufficient proved fruitless, except in the area behind the Trans-Kama De­ fensive Line and near Ufa. 28. A. Levshin, Opisanie Kirgiz-kazach'ikh ili Kirgiz-kaisatskikh ord i stepei (3 vole. St. Petersburg, 1832), 3, 49-50; Shishonko, Permskaia letopis*, 3, 1079; Materialy BASSR, 3 ,486. 29. AI, 4, 541-42. 30. A. I. Dobrosmyslov, ed„ Materialy po istorii Rossii. Sbornik ukazov » drugikh dokumentov, kasaiushchikhsia upravleniia i ustroistva Orenburgskago kraia, (2 vols. Orenburg, 1900) (hereafter cited as Dobrosmyslov, Materialy), 2 , 190-98. 31. N. F. Demidova, “Upravlenie Bashkiriei i povinnosti naseleniia Ufimskoi provintsii v pervoi treti XVIII v.,” Istoricheskie zapiski (1961), 68, 228.



It may seem strange that supplies were often hauled by cart or wagon when the rivers were so convenient. There were good rea­ sons. Shipments during winter when the rivers were frozen had to be made overland. Boats could be used only after boatbuilding and landing facilities were available, as on the Volga, where older towns had these facilities. On other rivers, some time elapsed be­ fore shipping developed, although boat landings were built as soon as the Russians securely occupied a likely position on a river. C o m p o s it io n

of the


u s s ia n

F r o n t ie r F o r c e s

As important to the Russians as their technical and organiza­ tional superiority in the eventual conquest of Bashkiria was the composition of their frontier forces. Regular troops formed the core of the garrison, but they were supplemented by a great variety of irregulars who frequently played the more important role. W ithout their aid Russia would have required many more years to bring Bashkiria into the Empire. The first military personnel to serve in the frontier areas were the service men. They were recruited from various elements of the population and settled near the forts and posts of the defensive lines. In Sergievsk there were initially 215 families of service men from the Trans-Kama Line, an ataman and two Cossacks from Samara, and 100 court peasants from Samara District who had been recruited into the Cossack service.82 By 1703, 1,280 cavalrymen, dragoons, and youths from various towns were settled on the Sok River near Sergievsk.88 Service men were the first settlers in Ufa, Birsk, and in the forts and outposts of the Simbirsk and Syzran lines, west of the Volga. The government at first granted them money and grain but tried to change this as soon as possible into a land grant. They were expected to be self-supporting by farming their estates.84 Later military reforms made the service men less necessary. Those few who remained were called “Service Men of the Old Service.” When the poll tax was introduced in 1724, those in this group were placed in the category of individuals subject to the poll324 32. P. I. Rychkov, Topografiia Orenburgskoi gubernii, (2nd cd. 2 vols. Orenburg, 1887), 2 , 113. (Hereafter d ted as Rychkov, Topografiia.) 33. Ibid., p. 114. 34. V. E. Den, Naselenie Rossii po piatoi revizii. Podushnaia podaV v X V III veke i statistika naseleniia v kontse X V III veka (2 vole. Moscow, 1902), 2, Part 2,178.

MOSCOW AND BASHKIRIA 30 tax, becoming in effect state peasants.85 A few years later the gov­ ernment retreated from this principle.86 At that time service men in eight towns were omitted from the poll tax rolls: Novosheshminsk, Starosheshminsk, Biliarsk, Tiinsk, Zainsk, Sergievsk, Birsk, and Menzelinsk. With these exceptions, all service men in the southeastern territory were officially state peasants. The Cossacks were another very important element on the the Southeastern Frontier. The oldest in this region, the Ural Cossacks, date back to the late sixteenth century when a group of Volga Cossacks who had antagonized the Muscovite government by raiding traffic on the Volga River fled across the Ural to escape a pursuing detachment of Russian troops. The refugees attacked and captured Saraichik, the Nogai town on the lower Ural River. Dur­ ing succeeding years these Cossacks gradually moved south along the Ural and finally founded their main settlement, Uralsk. W ithin a short time they reestablished relations with the Musco­ vite government, and in 1591 five hundred of them fought in a government campaign. Some time in the seventeenth century they officially became subjects of the state and received a charter grant to the territory surrounding the Ural and its tributaries from the upper course of the river to its mouth.353637 Russian administrative control long remained weak in this dis­ tant area. The Cossacks frequently acted as if they were completely independent, raided the neighboring Kazakhs and Kalmyks, robbed Russian and other merchants on the Volga and Caspian, and participated in the disturbances of the Time of Trouble and in the uprising of Sten’ka Razin. They governed themselves through an elected ataman but retained some connections with the tsarist administration because they occasionally contributed troops for government service. Officially they were administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1629 to 1680. In 1680 they were handed over to the Department of Kazan, which held juris35. Ibid., p. 179. 36. T he original ukaz has not been published. T he information comes from quo­ tations of the original in Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii, (First series, 44 vols. St. Petersburg, 1830) (hereafter cited as PSZ), 12, No. 9399. 37. A. Levshin, Istoriko-statisticheskoe obozrenie UraVskikh Kazakov (St. Peters­ burg, 1823); N. A. Firsov, Inorodcheskoe naselenie prezhnego Kazanskogo tsarstva v novoi Rossii do 1762 g. i kolonizatsiia zakamskikh zemel* v eto vremia (Kazan, 1869), pp. 315-33; V. N. Vitevskii, 1 . 1 . Nepliuev i Orenburgskii krai v prezhnem ego sostave do 1758 g. (5 vols. Kazan, 1889-97), Chaps. 9-12, 21; Den, pp. 238-63.



diction until the organization of the Senate by Peter the Great. After that they were subject to the Senate through the College of Foreign Affairs between 1719 and 1721, and through the War College after 1721.3839 As the government tried to tighten its control over the Ural Cos­ sacks in the seventeenth century, opposition arose. Although of a later date, an event in 1718 reveals much of the Ural Cossacks. In that year a Russian party sent to investigate a complaint against the ataman, Merkur’ev, offended the Cossacks and a faction decided to fight for independence. In 1722 they burned Uralsk to the ground and made plans to move eastward into the Kazakh Steppe. The Russian government sent Colonel Zakharov in 1723 to investigate the disturbances. Zakharov and a detachment of troops supported Ataman Merkur’ev, but from that time the ataman had to be con­ firmed by the Russian government. At the same time Zakharov took a census of the Ural Cossacks on the grounds that the growth of population made necessary an in­ creased land grant. Originally, the grant had been for 600 persons. The census, completed in September 1723, showed that the total number of Cossacks had risen to 6,125. Of this number only 3,196 were Cossacks suitable for service. The others were retired (219), too young to serve (2,357), new arrivals who were not Cossacks but workers (324), and the latter’s children (29). This census probably understates the earlier population, because 1,500 men had been annihilated in an expedition to Khiva only five years before. Further details of the census show a complex classification of the group: gentry; gunners; mounted musketeers; Don Cossacks; Gre­ ben Cossacks from the Caucasus; Zaporog Cossacks from the Dnie­ per; Turkmen; Crimean, Nogai, and Astrakhan Tatars; Bashkirs; Chuvashes; Mordvas; Cherkasses; Kalmyks; Swedes; Poles; Vo­ lokhs; government clerks; townsmen; and peasants. Other sources mention Persians, Afghans, and others who had been rescued from captivity in Kazakhstan.89 The major sources of recruits for the Cossack groups were runaway peasants and soldiers, in spite of the traditional severe prohibitions of the Muscovite government. T he service of the Ural Cossacks was of several types, but con­ sisted largely of participation in special campaigns and the defense 38. PSZ, 5,672; 6,367. 39. Rychkov, Topografiia, i , 190-92.



of the Russian borders against Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, and Kalmyks. In addition, from 400 to 1,000 were constantly employed in the northern Caucasus area in the Russian service.40 W ith increasing frequency they garrisoned the new forts in the Southeast Frontier region in the eighteenth century. Ural Cossacks also fought in many other wars and campaigns. While in the field they received money and provisions and were not expected to be self-support­ ing.41 Over on the Siberian side of the Urals the Cossacks who were later to be called the Isetsk Cossacks also played an active role in Bashkiria. Their presence in this area dates from the time of Yermak. Around the middle of the seventeenth century they began to move up the Iset and Mias rivers, building a number of forts and outposts, among which were Krasnyi Bor, founded in 1649; Isetsk Ostrog in 1650; and Kolchadansk, also in 1650.42 Other posts were built in the last half of the seventeenth century along the Iset and Mias rivers. The Cossack recruits here came from all elements of the frontier population. Later, in 1736, the motley group was organized into the Isetsk Cossack Army.48 Until the formation of Isetsk Province in 1737, when they came under the jurisdiction of Orenburg, these Cossacks were included in the Siberian Ad­ ministration. Many of the Isetsk Cossacks were transferred to the Orenburg area during the 1730s.44 One of the frequently mentioned groups that participated in the Russian campaigns in Bashkiria was that of the Meshcheriaks (Mis­ lead), a Tatar group originally from the Kazan region. The Mus­ covite government settled them in Bashkiria very early as part of the defense force in the Ufa region. Being subject to military serv­ ice, they did not pay tribute. Most of them lived on land obtained from the Bashkirs, for which they paid quittent. After the Russian conquest of Kazan in the middle of the six­ teenth century, Tatar and Finnish peoples in great numbers fled eastward to escape being enserfed by the Russians.45 Called Teptiars and Bobyls in Bashkiria, they were chiefly farmers who also 40. PSZ, 8 ,660-61. 41. Vitevskii, p. 270. 42. Rychkov, Topografiia, a, 15&-73; F. M. Starikov, Istoriko-statisticheskii ocherk Orenburgskogo kazach'ego voiska (Orenburg, 1891), pp. 23-24. 43. Starikov, pp. 25-27. 44. Den, pp. 214-16. 45. Materialy BASSR, i, 82.



held land from the Bashkirs. Teptiars paid quitrent and usually farmed their land under contracturai arrangement with the land­ holders. On a lower rung, the Bobyls were squatters without rights or secure position. They were gradually transformed into serfs of their Bashkir overlords. During the colonial wars both Teptiars and Bobyls were impressed into service by the Russians as laborers to build forts and outposts in the defensive lines. Russian peasants, too, streamed eastward to escape the onerous burdens of serfdom. Often their flight proved in vain because they could be enserfed by Russian landlords in the frontier region, and the government compelled thousands to labor on the fortifications of the defensive lines. The more venturesome joined Cossack groups. Surprisingly, one of the largest components of the Russian forces in Bashkiria was made up of the Bashkirs themselves. For adminis­ trative purposes they were divided into two groups, commoners, who paid tribute, and tarkhans, or tribal and clan leaders who in return for military service paid no tribute. Tarkhans were not numerous, never amounting to more than several hundred, but as clan leaders they exerted much influence. By the end of the seventeenth century the Bashkirs had not yet been subdued, but with the aid of such an array of auxiliaries the Russians believed incorporation of the whole area into the Empire would be easily and shortly accomplished. This view proved to be overly optimistic. R

e l a t io n s w i t h t h e

K azakhs

By the end of the seventeenth century a new element had en­ tered the picture. Far away to the southeast, beyond Bashkiria, the Kazakhs, a powerful nomadic people, complicated Russia’s impe­ rialistic problem. T he Russians had learned of the Kazakhs as early as the sixteenth century. Muscovite envoys to the Nogai Horde, Danil Gubin in 1534 and Semen Mal’tsev in 1569, brought back word that the Kazakhs were at war with the Nogais and with the Bukharans.4®In 1573 Ivan IV sent T ret’iak Chebukov to the Ka­ zakh khan, Haqnazar Khan (Khakk-Nazar). The purpose was to establish relations and to obtain aid against Kuchum, the Khan of Siberia. Chebukov was captured by a relative of Kuchum and killed 46 46. A. Levsbin, 2 ,47.



before accomplishing his mission. The Kazakhs were active enemies of Kuchum, a Sheibanide prince related to the Uzbek ruling house in Central Asia. For this reason the Kazakhs in this early period de­ sired to enlist Russian cooperation against a common enemy. They also wanted assistance against their more powerful opponents, the Uzbeks. Tevkil Khan (Khan Tevekkel) in 1594 sent an envoy to Russia proposing an alliance. The return embassy of the Russians promised that aid would be sent from Samara, but nothing came of the promise.47 The question of Kazakh subjection to the Russian tsar was raised. A letter dated March 1595 indicates that Tevkil’s envoy had broached this question. Therefore, when Veriamin Stepanov was sent to the Kazakhs in 1595 he was instructed to at­ tempt to speak secretly with the Khan after the official negotiations to persuade him of the advantages of Russian suzerainty, which were that “the Sovereign, Tsar, and Grand Prince would act to protect them from all their enemies. And they could stand [to­ gether] against the Bukharan khan and against Kuchum /48 The Russian attitude toward the Kazakhs soon changed in spite of their mutual enemy. In the late sixteenth century the Russians established themselves firmly in Siberia, founding Tiumen, To­ bolsk, Verkhoturie, Tara, and Tomsk. Russian settlers followed and consequently found themselves living in close contact with the Kazakhs. Venturesome Kazakh bands occasionally raided Russian settlements, and Muscovite officials protested when Kazakh chief­ tains collected tribute from tribes over whom Moscow claimed suzerainty. Events in remote Mongolia led to an increase in Russo-Kazakh contacts. At the beginning of the seventeenth century tribal con­ federations clashed there, prompting another large migration of nomads westward. Groups of Western Mongols, called Kalmyks by the Russians, began moving into the Kazakh Steppe where their presence was noted by Russian officials in Siberia in the seven­ teenth century. At first the Kazakhs were able to establish authority over a number of Kalmyk auls or encampments, as illustrated by a document of 1595 in which Tevkil Khan of the Kazakhs entitles himself “Khan of the Kazakhs and Kalmyks/49 In 1608 the Siber47. N. M. Karamzin, Istoriia gosudarstva rossiiskogo (5th ed. is vols. St. Peters­ burg, 1842-44), 9 ,378 and n. 332; Sibirskie letopisi (St. Petersburg, 1907), pp. 6,53. 48. Kazakhsko-russkic otnosheniia v X V I-X V III vekakh (Sbomik dokumentov i materialov) (Alma-Ata, 1961), p. 7. 49. Ibid., p. 8.



ian Office informed the central government that the Kazakhs and Kalmyks were at war.50 The governor of Tobolsk wrote that trade caravans could travel to Central Asian centers only at great risk be­ cause of hostile Siberian Tatars and Kalmyks.51 In the 1620s a mass migration of 40,000 to 50,000 kibitkas (households) westward across northern Kazakhstan brought them into the region of the upper Irtysh, Tobol, and Ishim rivers. By the 1630s they had reached the Volga region where they troubled the Russians for sev­ eral decades.52 More numerous and powerful than the Kalmyks were the Jungars, another confederation of Western Mongols who also influ­ enced events on the Russian frontier. Under the leadership of their Kontaisha Batur (1634-54) they created a large military force which was used to expand both eastward and westward. After at­ tacking his powerful enemy to the east, the Altyn Khan of the Khalkhas, or Eastern Mongols, Batur moved vigorously westward in 1642-43. He penetrated southern Kazakhstan, seized a significant part of Semirechie, and subjugated a considerable portion of the Kazakhs of the Great Horde. The Kazakhs were involved in con­ solidating their authority over the Syr Darya region. The Jungar threat forced them to turn immediately to meet the new enemy. They concluded a truce and made an alliance with the Uzbeks in Bukhara. In cooperation with approximately 20,000 of their for­ mer enemies, the Kazakhs halted Batur’s advance and forced him to retreat. Next, the Jungars attacked the Manchus, who had seized Peking in 1644 and laid the foundations of their rule in China. For more than a century the Jungars carried on aggressive war with both the Khalkhas and the Chinese for possession of all Mongolia. The next great Jungar drive into Kazakhstan occurred during the rule of the famous Galdan (1671-97). During his reign the Jungarian power rose to its peak. Galdan used the military forces built by his predecessor, Batur, to launch a career of conquest. In 50. Russkaia istoricheskaia biblioteka, 2 ,190-91; Miller, z , 328,427. 51. V. K. Andrievich, Istoriia Sibiri (5 vols. S t Petersburg, Irkutsk, Tomsk, St. Petersburg, Odessa, 1887-89), 1, 199; B. G. Kurts, Russko-kitaiskie otnosheniia v X V I, X V II i X V III stoletiiakh (Kharkov, 1929), p. 22. 52. I. V. Shcheglov, Khronologicheskii perechen* vazhneishikh dannykh iz istorii Sibiri, 1032-1882 (Irkutsk, 1883), pp. 79-90; Andrievich, 1, 127; Miller, 2, 298-302; H. H. Howorth, History of the Mongols (4 vols. London, 1876-1927), 1, 615®; N. G. Apollova, Prisoedinenie Kazakhstana k Rossii v 30-kh godakh X V III veka (AlmaAta, 1948), p. 161.



the space of a few years during the 1670s he seized Kashgar, Yar­ kand, Turfan, and Khamil, conquered Turkestan, and subjugated the Great Horde Kazakhs to his will. In the 1680s, taking advantage of dynastic struggles among the Khalkhas, he pressed them so severely they sought the protection of China. The Chinese imperial forces which marched to meet Galdan’s force of 20,000 were decisively defeated. The Emperor raised another army, but the Jungars advanced to within twenty leagues of Peking. There, after an indecisive battle, Galdan signed a twoyear truce. He again attacked the Chinese forces in the years 169697, but on the last campaign Galdan was defeated and slain. The K’ang-hsi Emperor gave the following opinion of Galdan and his activities: Galdan was a formidable enemy. Samarkand, Bokhara, Pulut [i.e. Burnt], Urghendj, Kashgar, Shuirmen, Turfan, Khamil, were taken from the Mohammedans, and the capture of more than 1,200 towns prove to what length he had carried his arms. The Khalkhas in vain assembled their seven banners, number­ ing 100,000 men to oppose him. One year sufficed for their dis­ persion.58 The Jungar attacks in the 1640s and the 1660s had created great havoc among the Kazakh auls. The Great Horde was largely swal­ lowed up in the Jungar confederation, and groups in the other Kazakh hordes fled westward toward the southern frontiers of Rus­ sia. Jungar interest in the cities of Turkestan was heightened by the need for saltpeter, a substance in plentiful supply there. The traditional weapon of the nomads, the bow, was being supple­ mented by firearms and cannon. Batur and his successors clashed with the Russians in the region of the upper Irtysh. Here, where the Russians had established fron­ tier posts, disputes occurred over the jurisdiction of tribes from which both attempted to collect tribute, over the return of prison­ ers, and over the violations of the frontier. At times the Jungars made raids on Russian settlements and at other times sought Rus­ sian support against common enemies. In 1688, for example, Gal­ dan sent an envoy to Irkutsk to ask for an alliance against the Khalkhas. The Russians refused to send forces for an invasion of 53. H ow orth,/ , 639.



Mongolia, although they promised aid if the Khalkhas attacked Jungaria. Galdan also asked for a contribution of two or three thousand Cossacks and some cannon with which he promised to ravage “all the borders of China outside the Great Wall.“54 The Russians, then in the critical phase of the negotiations preceding the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689), refused because they did not want to antagonize the Chinese.55 The Jungar-Kazakh wars in the last half of the seventeenth cen­ tury drove large numbers of Kazakhs westward until they reached the middle course of the Ural River, the border of Bashkiria, a territory claimed by Moscow. It was here that the Russians first be­ gan to clash seriously with these nomadic warriors. 54. Ibid., p. 628. See also, N. P. Shastina, Russko-mongoVskie posoVskie otnosheniia X V II veka (Moscow, 1958). 55. Howorth, p. 628. For Chinese attitudes and a general account of these negotia­ tions, see Joseph Sebes, The Jesuits and the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689): The Diary of Thomas Pereira (Institutum Historicum S. I., Rome, 1961). Father Sebes indicates the Chinese feared Russian support of the Jungars. A recent Russian account is that of P. T . Iakovleva, Pervyi russko-kitaiskii dogovor 1689 goda (Moscow, 1958). An older but useful work is that of Gaston Cahen, Some Early Russo-Chinese Relations, trans. by W. Sheldon Ridge (Shanghai, 1914).


The Southeastern Frontier During the Reign of Peter the Great

Virtually the whole array of Russian desires, motivations, and poli­ cies on the Southeastern Frontier came into sharp focus during the reign of Peter the Great. The reestablishment of order after the great upheavals of the Time of Trouble and the significant growth in Russian power during the seventeenth century made possible a renewal of the drive to the east. Rychkov, Secretary of the Oren­ burg Commission and the first historian of the Southeast Frontier Region, called Peter the primary force behind these activities: Among His Imperial Majesty's immortally glorious projects for the public welfare . . . not least was the matter to be de­ scribed below [referring to the Russian movement into the Orenburg region]. His Majesty was well able to foresee in what manner a large part of the Empire was exposed to dan­ gers from the numerous steppe peoples who lived in Great Tartary, in particular the Jungarian Kalmyks and the Kirgizkaisaks [Kazakhs]. . . . For that reason His Majesty . . . delib­ erated many times on the means necessary for attaining se­ curity from these inconstant peoples, a security which would not only be permanently durable but would also lay the foun­ dations for carrying out His Majesty’s future plans. In addi­ tion, His Majesty knew of the injurious raids of the abovementioned peoples on the Russian borders and of the many thousands of Christians who had fallen into those barbarous hands and had been sold into slavery in various Tatar towns and especially in Khiva . . . where they have perished; and also because the Bashkir people who lived next to the Kirgizkaisaks were so unreliable and self-willed that even during the life of His Majesty they dared to revolt and committed count-



less acts of destruction in the Gubernia of Kazan and in other places. Thus, on the victorious and triumphal conclusion of the Swedish War he, among other things, turned particular at­ tention to the above-mentioned dangers in the very same places where now, with the help of God, the new Orenburg Line is built and, indeed,. . . to the opening of a route to all of Middle Asia and to the restraining of the self-willed Bashkir people permanently.1 Rychkov was correct in evaluating the role of Peter in this area in the sense that Peter did stimulate his associates to dream on the grand scale, and he did establish a program which was ultimately carried out by his successors. For this reason it is illuminating to examine briefly Peter’s activities on the Southeastern Frontier and his relations with the states in Central Asia. But, it must also be noted, as in the case of many of his innovations, his activities were only extensions of policies long pursued, but less dramatically, by his predecessors. Therefore, the true origins of Russian policies on this frontier must be sought in developments which had been oc­ curring decades, and even centuries, before Peter. These develop­ ments involved trade with Asia, the assumption of suzerainty over the nomads in the Kazakh Steppe, and the subjugation of the Bash­ kirs. P o l ic ie s




G reat


C e n t r a l A s ia

Peter’s general policy of developing Russian industry and com­ merce was illustrated by his actions immediately after the success­ ful conclusion of the Great Northern War, the long struggle which had finally given Russia a “window” on the Baltic. He turned in the opposite direction with intentions of stimulating trade with Persia, China, Central Asia, and India. Having come to the conclusion that Dutch and British power rested on a sound commercial base enriched by Oriental trade, Peter began investi­ gating the possibility of Russia’s entering the Eastern markets and serving as an intermediary between Asia and Europe. Conditions in Central Asia at this time apparently presented Russia with the op­ portunity. The chronic political rivalries within the Central Asian i. P. I. Rychkov, Istoriia Orenburgskaia, (snd ed. Orenburg, 1896), p. 1. (Here­ after cited as Rychkov, Istoriia.) Citations are to the second edition, which was re­ printed from the original manuscript.



khanates and the hostilities between these states invited outside aggression. As early as 1622 one candidate for the throne in Khiva had sent an emissary to Moscow, seeking Russian support for his claim and promising to become a Russian vassal in return.2 Peter was more ambitious than his predecessor, and when a similar op­ portunity appeared in 1700, he accepted it. In that year Shah Niyaz Eshik Aga Bashi (Shaniiaz), the administrator of Khiva, seeking Russian assistance against his enemies, offered to pay tribute to Russia. In 1703 Peter confirmed the relationship with Arab Muhammed, Shah Niyaz' successor. Khiva neglected to pay tribute, but, on the other hand, Russia sent no military assistance to Khiva. Peter's interest in Central Asia was sharpened considerably in 1713 when a certain Turkoman arrived in Astrakhan with news that gold had been discovered on the banks of the Amu Darya. He was sent on to Moscow, where he suggested to Peter that the Rus­ sians and Turkomans should take possession of the countries bor­ dering the Amu Darya and that the Amu should be diverted back to its old course which led into the Caspian Sea. The presence of gold and the possibility of establishing a water connection be­ tween the Caspian and Central Asia, or even India, appealed to Peter. Shortly afterward, early in 1714, Peter received word from Prince Gagarin, the governor of Siberia, that gold had been dis­ covered in the vicinity of Yarkand in eastern Central Asia. Ga­ garin was instructed “to build a town at Lake Yamyshev and, if pos­ sible, even farther south; and having constructed a fort, to go up that river [the Irtysh] as far as boats might travel and thence to the town of Yarkand and seek to take it.''3 The Khivan ambassador in Moscow confirmed Gagarin's state­ ments and added that Peter should construct a fort at the mouth of the old bed of the Amu Darya. Peter's intentions were clearly out­ lined by Golikov, the chronicler of Peter's activities: These declarations seemed most important to the Sovereign who was solicitous of the welfare of the fatherland and His 2. S. V. Zhukovskii, Snosheniia Rossii s Bukharoi i Khivoi za poslednee trekhsotletie (Petrograd, 1915); N. Veselovskii, Ocherk istoriko-geograficheskikh svedenii о Khivinskom khanstve ot drevneishikh vremen do nastoiashchego (St. Petersburg, 1877); A. N. Popov, “Snosheniia Rossii s Khivoi i Bukharoi pri Petre Velikom," Zapiski Imperatorskogo russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, 9 (1853); and Sbomik kniazia Khilkova (St. Petersburg, 1879) are general works on Russian rela­ tions with Central Asia. 3. Popov, pp. 238-39. Yamyshev is a lake southeast of present-day Pavlodar.



Majesty thereupon decided to investigate the truth [of the rumors] in both these places. He shrewdly saw that even if the sought-for gold was not found in these rivers he would at least find new means for [developing] trade through these countries with India itself.4 As a consequence, Peter devised plans for establishing closer re­ lations with the Central Asian khanates and ultimately for annex­ ing them.® Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Bucholtz was ordered to pro­ ceed southward to Yarkand from western Siberia to search for gold, and Prince Aleksander Bekovich-Cherkasskii (Devlet Girey Bekovich) was to lead an expedition from Astrakhan to Khiva, es­ tablish a friendly khan there, and bring Khiva under Russian suzerainty. Bucholtz* force was driven back by the Jungars. The Bekovich expedition ended disastrously after apparently conquering Khiva. A later mission, under an Italian named Florio Beneveni, to in­ vestigate conditions in Khiva and Bukhara had no commercial or political results, but hopes of exploiting Central Asia and India commercially remained very strong. While these grandiose projects were being carried on, Peter's government laid more modest foundations for the later movement into Kazakhstan. During the years 1716-20 seven forts were erected: Omsk, Zhelezinsk, Yamyshevsk, Dolonsk, Semipalatinsk, Ubinsk, and Ust-Kamenogorsk. Seven outposts were also manned. These fortifications along with Minusinsk (1707) on the upper Yenisei and Biisk (1709) on the upper Ob formed the beginning of the Siberian Defensive Line which would eventually connect with the future Orenburg Line two decades later. The garrisons were manned mostly by Cossacks and small detachments of the army.® R

e l a t io n s w i t h t h e

K azakhs

The Kazakhs presented another problem which increasingly drew Peter's attention. This powerful people occupied the terri4. 1. 1. Golikov, Deianiia Petra Velikogo (30 vols. Moscow, 1788-98), 5,235. 5. For the Bekovich-Cherkasskii expeditions, see V. Illeritskii, "Ekspeditsiia kniazia Cherkasskogo v Khivu,” Istoricheskii zhurnal, No. 7 (1940), pp. 40-51; E. L. Shteinberg, Pervye issledovateli Kaspiia (X V III-X IX w .) (Moscow, 1949): and the references in note 2 above. For Bucholtz’ activities, see Pamiatniki sibirskoi istorii X V III v. (2 vols. St. Petersburg, 1882-85), 2, 35-37, 85-87, 126-30, 171-74: A. N. Popov, 248-51; and the other references in note 2. 6. PSZ, 5, 112; 6, 220; 7, 503-04, 505-08; Pamiatniki sibirskoi istorii, 2, 182-209, 264-66.



tory between the Empire and Central Asia. Before any effective move could be made toward Khiva and Bukhara, he would have to deal with them. The Kazakhs had serious internal problems of their own. Di­ vided into three hordes and each of the hordes further divided, they found themselves in a precarious position. They had a tempo­ rary reprieve while the Jungarians concentrated on China, but un­ der Kontaisha Tsewang Rabtan (1699-1729) the Jungars resumed the war on the Kazakhs. This threat was compounded because the Volga Kalmyks had retained connections with their kinsmen in Mongolia and on occasion cooperated with them. Consequently the Kazakhs were being squeezed between two formidable oppo­ nents. Some idea of the scale of the Kazakh-Jungar wars can be ob­ tained from the number of combatants on both sides. Khan Tauke of the Kazakhs was said to have had an army of 80,000. Tsewang Rabtan of the Jungars could muster 100,000 mounted Jungars and could call on additional large numbers of allies or subjects. In the face of this serious threat Kazakh leaders from all three hordes held a meeting in Kara-Kum in 1710 to organize a united front. Together they temporarily halted the Jungar thrust, but in 1713 the enemy returned with increased vigor. In the spring of 1723 the Jungars penetrated deep into central Kazakhstan, destroy­ ing virtually all Kazakh resistance. In great numbers the Kazakhs abandoned their former territories in the east and southeast. Those who remained submitted to Jungar authority or perished. The suddenness of the attacks compelled many who fled to aban­ don much of their livestock and property. During 1724-25 the Jun­ gars seized Tashkent and Turkestan. The period of these attacks is known in Kazakh history and legend as the “Years of the Great Hunger.** Reports from the Kalmyks, frontier officials, and fort commandants picture the westward flight of thousands of Kazakhs and Karakalpaks, their clashes with the Kalmyks on the lower Volga, and their attempts to cross that river. A violent struggle for control of the lower Volga Steppe resulted.7 The Kazakhs who fled south found little but desert and the sharp hostility of Bukhara and Khiva. Larger groups moved west and 7. Pamiatniki sibirskoi istorii, 1, 515-317; a, 157®; Levshin, a, 6gff; Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1, 35.



northwest to the Emba, Ural, Ilek, Or, and Ui rivers. The military governor of Ufa informed St. Petersburg in 1725 that the Kirgiz-kaisaks [Kazakhs] are arriving on the Ilek with their wives and children in great numbers, and the Kontaisha [the Jungar ruler] has smashed them, the Karakalpaks and the Kaisaks, and has taken two towns [Tashkent and Turke­ stan] from them, and . . . has cut many of them off from their habitations and has taken many into captivity.89 Flight westward was not a solution to their problems, because, in the west, the Kazakhs ran up against the Bashkirs, Turkomans, Kalmyks, and the Russians. The Kalmyks, then under Khan Ayiike (Aiuka), were Russian allies and also allied with their Jungarian brothers. The Russian government, because of the inadequacy of the local frontier garrisons, used Kalmyks to prevent the Kazakhs from crossing the Ural River. A Senate decree of 1722 notes that the Kazakhs wanted to gain control of the Ural and Volga steppes.® In August 1723 the Kalmyk khan, Ayiike, sent an embassy to the Little Horde to negotiate a settlement. The envoys met the Kazakh ruler, Khan Abulkhair, on the Tem ir River, a tributary of the Emba, where they found the Kazakh accompanied by 15,000 war­ riors. Abulkhair threatened to attack the Kalmyks with a horde of 40,ooo.10 The Kazakhs greatly feared an alliance between the Kal­ myks and the Jungarians. Abulkhair marched against the Kalmyks with 20,000 troops, but his position was highly endangered. While Tsewang Rabtan attacked the Kazakhs from the east, the Kalmyks attacked them from the west. Even the Russian officials in Astra­ khan proposed sending out troops to assist the Kalmyks. The Russian frontier in Siberia was also menaced by the Jungars. In 1699 local officials informed the Siberian Department that the Kirgiz, a thieving people, are fleeing toward Tomsk, Kras­ noïarsk, and Kuznetsk, sometimes throughout the year, and they are slaying people, driving off livestock, and laying waste 8. TsGADA, Kalmytskie delà, 1725, d. 5, L. 185, as quoted in Istoriia Kazakhskoi SSR (2 vols. Alma-Ata, 1957, 1959)» Л *359. TsGADA, Kalmytskie delà, 1722, d. 9, L. 3, as quoted in Apollova, pp. 173®. 10. Apollova, quoting ibid., 1723, d. 3, LL. 23-24.



to the land. And these Kirgiz are controlled by the ChaganKontaisha [the Jungar ruler].11 As a consequence of their difficulties, the Kazakhs in 1716-17 and in 1718 turned to Russia for protection. In 1716 Peter the Great, having learned of the arrival of an envoy in Siberia for such a purpose, wrote to Saltykov, the governor of Kazan, “to receive them kindly“ and to promise Russian protection if they would sign a treaty of eternal peace with Russia. Peter was engaged in the Northern War and was unable at the moment to devote much at­ tention to establishing closer relations with the Kazakhs. In addi­ tion, the Russians feared a close alliance with the Kazakhs would bring down the wrath of the Jungars upon the Siberian towns along the Irtysh.12 The Swedish War and then the Persian expedition of 1722-23 diverted Peter's energies, but his long-range plans were evident from his actions after the Persian War, prior to his death in 1725. The previous exchange of embassies with the Kazakhs led Peter to think of sending the Russianized Tatar interpreter, Aleksei Ivano­ vich Tevkelev (Kutlu Mehmed Tefkilev), a Persian campaign par­ ticipant, to the Kazakhs to talk about their accepting Russian suzerainty. According to Tevkelev, Peter told him: If this Horde does not desire to be truly subject to Russia, then . . . to try notwithstanding the great cost, even if it reaches a million, to see that they bind themselves over to the protection of the Russian Empire, even if only on paper.13 While Peter was in Astrakhan during the Persian Expedition he referred to the same idea again: Although the Kirgiz-kaisak Horde is a steppe people and un­ dependable, this same Horde is the key and the gate to all the Asian countries and lands, and for this reason it is necessary that this same Horde be under Russian protection.14 When the Bekovich attempt to seize Khiva collapsed and Beneveni’s mission failed to stimulate trade, Peter turned to a more im11. Pamiatniki sibirskoi istorii, 1 , 11. 1*. Ibid., 1, 152-56,158-67,517-27. 13. Vremennik Imperatorskago moshovskago obshchestva istorii i drevnostei rossiiskikh, kn. XIII, “Sines' " (bumagi Tevkeleva), p. 15. 14. Ibid.



mediate project, the subjugation o£ the Kazakhs. Even this proved unrealistic. The Bashkirs presented a problem, even closer to home and much more pressing, which demanded solution before the Russians could seriously consider leaping over Bashkiria into the Kazakh Steppe. T



u s s ia n -B a s h k ir

St r u g g l e

All during Peter’s reign (1682-1725) the Bashkirs and the other colonial peoples of the Volga region and Siberia continued to seethe with unrest. At the most critical period of the Great North­ ern W ar another widespread frontier war broke out in Bashkiria. Starting in 1705 in the Kazan and Nogai dorogas, overt opposition to Russian rule spread to the western bank of the Volga and, in addition to the Bashkirs, involved the Tatars, Udmurts, and Chu­ vashes of the middle Volga and lower Kama region. T he 1705-11 war was similar to the earlier ones. The initiating factor was again the institution of extraordinary levies during war­ time, on this occasion during the Northern War. The Bashkirs resorted to arms in reaction to the government's increased de­ mands for tribute and horses for the army. Protests against this and against the abuses of local government officials went unheeded. The fiscal demands of the government brought protests not only among the frontier peoples but also within Russia itself, leading directly to the Astrakhan revolt of 1705-06 and the Bulavin Revolt on the Don in 1708. Russia’s difficulties were further compounded by hostile rela­ tions with the Crimean Tatars and the Turks, who declared war on Russia in 1710, shortly after the great victory at Poltava. Russia suffered an almost disastrous defeat by the Turks on the Pruth River in 1711. Peter’s government, engaged so heavily elsewhere, neglected the garrisons on the steppe frontiers. Prompt action by the Russians in sending limited forces had quieted the Bashkirs in 1706, but the guerrilla war broke out with renewed fury in the following year. Information from a captured T atar in 1708 revealed that certain Bashkirs had decided “not to be subject. . . to the will of the Great Sovereign, and, therefore, they would send envoys . . . to the Turkish Sultan and the Crimean Khan so that they would send someone to rule over them.’’15 Sul15. Materialy BASSR, i , t * 5.



tan Murat, reputed to be a son of the Khan of the Karakalpaks and Kazakhs, was selected.16 An assembly of Bashkir leaders proclaimed Murat the Khan of the Bashkirs and advised him to seek the aid of the Crimean Tatars to drive out the Russians.17 Murat demonstrated the erratic nature of nomad politics by promptly disregarding the purpose of his elec­ tion. He accepted an invitation of the Ural Cossacks to join in a raid on the Kalmyks. On arriving in Cossack territory he learned that the Cossacks had changed their minds, whereupon his Bashkir followers lost heart and refused to continue. Disappointed, Murat set out with a party of fifty for Crimea. Ultimately he went to Con­ stantinople, when the Crimeans would make no definite commit­ ment to aid the Bashkir cause, explaining that it was impossible to take independent action because they "lived under the authority of the Turkish Sultan.”18 In Constantinople the Grand Vizier refused official assistance “because the Turkish Sultan and the Crimean Khan have made peace with the Muscovite,” but offered to send unofficial aid if Murat would attack the Russians on his own.19 Murat began the long trip back to Bashkiria, but while still in the vicinity of the Kuban River he learned that the Russians had sent an army to Astrakhan. He decided to remain in the Kuban area for the winter. There he recruited a small force from north Caucasian tribes and Tatars and marched to the Terek River, where he besieged Tersk in February 1708. Field Marshal Sheremetev, after mobilizing a force of 1,200 soldiers, 250 Tatars, >and 400 Astrakhan Tatars, moved south from Astrakhan to relieve Tersk. He met Murat's band, decisively defeated it, and captured Murat himself.20 Meantime events reached a crisis in the vicinity of the TransKama Line and Ufa. A Russian regiment sent out from Ufa was surrounded and virtually annihilated. In February of 1708 the Bashkirs had attacked several forts in Bashkiria, breached the de­ fensive line, approached to within thirty versts of Kazan, and were

16. Ibid., pp. *23, 252, *38-39. 17. Ibid., pp. 339ff. 18. Ibid., p. 240. 19. Ibid. 20. Pis’ma i bumagi Imperatora Petra Velikago (11 vols, to date, St. Petersburg, Petrograd, and Moscow, 1887-1960), 4 ,452; Materially BASSR, 1, 231, 24iff.



said to be planning an attack on Moscow itself.21 The winter of 1707-08 also coincided with the great Cossack rebellion on the Don which was led by Kondratii Bulavin. There are indications that Bulavin tried to establish connections with the Bashkirs, as indi­ cated by an Englishman in Russia at the time who wrote that “Bul­ avin, by the Grace of God, is in alliance with the Bashkirs.”22 T he Bashkirs retreated across the Kama under attack from units mobilized and directed by Prince P. I. Khovanskii, the governor of Kazan. Internal divisions among the Bashkirs weakened their ef­ fort. Clan and tribal leaders often acted independently, like Batur Aldar who “on the following day did not carry on the fight be­ cause he desired to make peace and did not want to lose people uselessly.“23 The retreat was probably motivated by the knowledge that the Russians were negotiating with the Kalmyks.24 It is under­ standable that there would be some uneasiness among clan leaders if the Russians were to unleash these fearsome warriors. In the spring of 1708 the Siberian Bashkirs began to stir rest­ lessly again. Leaders from that area conferred with others in the Nogai Doroga and began attacking Siberian towns.25 Toward the end of May the movement weakened, both because of the severe punitive action of the Russians and because of internal divisions among the Bashkirs. Leaders from all the dorogas began appearing in Russian administrative centers to reaffirm their allegiance to Russia.26 Early in 1709 a new center of anti-Russian activity developed in the Nogai Doroga. A new khan, a Karakalpak by origin, was in­ vited to rule Bashkiria. The leaders in the Nogai Doroga sought support from the Siberian groups and again launched a series of attacks on Russian settlements and on the mines and smelters in the Urals.27 In December 1710, the Russians, fearing they were losing com21. Materialy BASSR, 1, 212, 214, 215-16, 22&-31, 216-17, 222-25; Pis’ma i bumagi Petra Velikago, 7, 613; S. M. Solov’ev, Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremen (2nd ed., 29 vols. St. Petersburg, n.d.), 1 3 ,1448. 22. Sbomik Imperatorskago russkago istoricheskago obshchestva (148 vols. St. Petersburg, 1867-1916), L. 16. See also, Materialy BASSR, 1, 214! V. I. Lebedev, “Bashkirskoe vosstanie 1705-1711 gg.,” Istoricheskie zapiski, 1 (Moscow, 1937), p. 90. 23. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,224. 24. Ibid., Introduction, p. 47. 25. Ibid., pp. 223,224-26; Pamiatniki sibirskoi istorii, 1 ,318-20. 26. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,246ff. 27. Ibid., pp. 252,258®.



mand of the situation, finally concluded a treaty with Khan Ayiike of the Kalmyks and called on him for aid against the Bashkirs. A letter from Ayiike reported Kalmyk actions: Boyar Peter Matveevich Apraksin brought Your Sovereign decree, informing us that the Bashkir brigands are loose and for us to send an army to destroy the Bashkir bandits. Accord­ ing to Your Sovereign decree I sent Nazorov, the son of Darzha, and four other leaders and 4,000 good military men with him who . . . attacked and drove off men, women, chil­ dren, and cattle and horses, and seized Bashkir lands.28 Bashkir opposition collapsed, but occasional attacks on Russian settlements, refusals to pay tribute, and the burning of industrial works indicated continuing Bashkir resistance. The old problem of Russian peasants fleeing serfdom also plagued Bashkiria. The Bashkirs protested continuously at the flood of aliens who were occupying their land. A special commis­ sion was instituted to study the problem and to recommend correc­ tive measures.29 Because most of Bashkiria remained beyond ad­ ministrative control, the results of the commission's activities were nil. Bashkir attacks on the Ural mines and smelters called forth new measures "on the construction of fortresses along the frontiers for the defense of the works and settlements . . . and on fortifications of palisades and cannon and on the transfer and settlement of ^dragoons along the borders."80 The Russians were especially sensi­ tive to attacks on these iron and copper works. By the 1720s the Ural region had become the most important center of mining and metal processing in the whole Empire. Still lacking sufficient strength to throw off Russian control un­ aided, some Bashkir groups turned to the Kazakhs and Karakalpaks for aid after the Kalmyks submitted to Russian authority. Bashkir envoys also visited the nomadic tribes in the Kuban area seeking allies.81 In spite of the measures taken to prevent another outbreak, at the end of Peter's reign the Bashkirs were still not reconciled to Russian sovereignty. s8. 29. 30. 31.

Ibid., p. 876. Ibid., pp. 880-84. PSZ, 7,891-98. Sec also 7,305-08. Materially BASSR, 1 ,885®, 898®.



In summary, by the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century Bashkiria had become a valuable colony, and the Musco­ vite state had no intention of giving it up. Its location astride the Ural Mountains on direct and convenient routes to western Siberia gave it a strategic value. Because the area was still uncontrolled, the usual routes lay to the north, but disturbances in Bashkiria could and sometimes did threaten the safe flow of traffic over these more northerly routes. Siberian furs were vital to the Russian economy, especially in foreign commerce. The fur tribute and government profits from the fur trade provided from 7 to 10 per­ cent of the total state revenue during the seventeenth century, and 214 percent at the beginning of the eighteenth century.82 Con­ tinuously pressed for funds to support the wars of this period, the Muscovite government keenly felt the importance of Siberia and consequently the strategic significance of Bashkiria. In addition to its strategic location, Bashkiria was a valued source of state revenue through the tribute levied on the local pop­ ulation. Northwestern Bashkiria had also provided fertile land which had been taken up by members of the Russian gentry, the upper nobility, and the Church. The severe opposition of the Bash­ kirs to the seizure of their lands had compelled the state to place limitations on land seizures; but the tide of Russian colonization, both official and unofficial, moved over Bashkiria in spite of at­ tempted governmental restrictions. Furthermore, during the first quarter of the eighteenth century the Bashkir Urals had become the center of the most important mining and smelting industry in Russia, and one that was growing rapidly. The Bashkirs resented the invasion and seizure of their land and frequently attacked the mines and mills in their territory, threatening the development of this industry. Considering all these incentives, why were the Russians unable to subdue the Bashkirs? The territory was extensive and much of it inaccessible; the nomads were formidable opponents; and the European wars were a constant drain on Russian military resources. Adequate troops and equipment could not be spared from these wars to man the frontier posts; and, consequently, the small, scat­ tered garrisons could not maintain control when the Bashkirs and other frontier peoples rose en masse against them. Nevertheless, 32. R. H. Fisher, The Russian Fur Trade, 1550-1700 (University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1943), pp. u8ff, 23öS.



over the course of time the Russian government devised a strategy to meet the problems on the frontier. R

u s s ia n

St r a t e g y



So u t h e a s t e r n F r o n t ie r

In analyzing strategy, one is faced with the problem of determin­ ing whether the individuals or governmental bodies who dealt with the frontier acted consciously according to basic strategic con­ cepts or whether they merely reacted pragmatically to circum­ stances. This question exists because few documents deal with broad strategy. In addition to the problem of discovering how clearly and consciously strategic ideas were worked out, there is the matter of deciding how influential was a traditional policy that had evolved slowly but had never been precisely formulated. By Peter's time the basic strategy in the southeast had been worked out. Before discussing these principles, it is necessary to look briefly at their evolution. Muscovite Russia had much experience in dealing with the no­ mads on the Southern and Southeastern frontiers. After the breakup of the Golden Horde, state policy in this region was in­ tended to prevent the formation of a new federation of nomadic peoples, which would in effect mean the establishment of another Golden Horde. In the sixteenth century such a federation would have been a dangerous threat to a still weak Muscovite state. De­ spite Turkish attempts to serve as a unifying agent, the traditional antagonisms among the various nomadic groups, deliberately fos­ tered by Russian diplomacy, made improbable any nomadic union. And by the beginning of the eighteenth century Russia was so pow­ erful that even a great confederation of tribes could not really threaten the existence of the Russian state. Nevertheless, a large alliance of nomadic peoples could seriously disrupt the frontier areas, as already described. Even divided, such widely disposed peo­ ples as the Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, and Bashkirs made frequent raids into Russian colonial territory, de­ stroying property, interrupting the tribute collections, and even carrying off people to sell as slaves in the markets of Central Asia and the Crimea. The standard reaction of the Russian government to these raids had developed over a period of time extending far back into Russian history. Defensive lines consisting of continuous series of forts and outposts at strategic points were constructed along the borders in order to intercept the raiding parties. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many forts had



been built on the borders of Bashkir territory. In the west, Russian towns were located at intervals along the Volga all the way to the Caspian Sea. The development of Siberia led the government to construct a line of forts to guard the route there. In spite of the fact that a road through Bashkiria would have been more direct and more convenient, the regular way lay to the north through Perm District because the Bashkirs had not yet been fully subdued. Bashkiria, as a result, lay at that time outside the defensive lines. Except for the building of Ufa and a few other isolated forts, the Russians had moved timidly into Bashkiria. In the middle of the seventeenth century a new Trans-Kama Line was built from the Volga along the Cheremshan River to Menzelinsk, bringing an­ other small part of northwestern Bashkiria behind the defensive line. For the next eighty years the line remained fixed. Concern over the Bashkir problem in Peter’s time led V. N. Tatishchev, then Chief of the Ural Industrial Authority, to state the general strategy as follows: For dividing them so that they do not flee into the steppe and join the other steppe peoples and have opportunity to cause harm, it would be good to follow the methods of Ivan Vasilievich [Ivan IV] who enclosed the Kazan Tatars by constructing along the Kama and Viatka rivers several towns which have ex­ isted up to the present day. It seems possible to me that we can also enclose these people [the Bashkirs] in the same way. It is known that the Yaik [Ural] and Tobol rivers flow out of the Ural mountains from places not far from each other and some Tatars say that one place is impassable because of the heights of the summits and the many rivers and lakes and swamps. Those sections [of the rivers] far from the mountains where the Bashkirs cross the streams are so great that no fording places can be found. This is especially true of the Yaik, they say. Because of swamps and forests, there are very few suitable places for crossing. If towns were constructed at these suitable places and settled with Russians . . . then attacks of these [Bash­ kirs] as well as of the Kirgiz hordes, the Karakalpaks, and the other steppe peoples could be cut off.88 As indicated, the location of the individual forts and the defen­ sive lines was determined by the terrain. Wide rivers were barriers3 33. Materialy B A S S R , 482-83.



to the nomads, for raiding parties had to go around them or find suitable fording places. Russian communications, on the other hand, largely depended on rivers. Forts at portage points near the headwaters of the rivers not only protected Russian communica­ tion lines but also obstructed routes by which the nomads could move from one side of a large river to the other. Forts at the con­ fluence of rivers were established primarily for reasons of commu­ nication. The larger rivers served as natural boundaries between native peoples. In the course of time the Bashkirs, as already noted, were held in a territory bounded by the Volga on the west, the Kama and Iset on the north, the Tobol and its tributaries on the east, and the Ural and Samara on the south. The Kazakhs lived south of the Ural and east of the Tobol, and the Kalmyks mostly between the lower Volga, the lower Ural, and the Samara rivers. Knowing that the Russian position in Bashkiria would be weak until an extensive net of forts and outposts had been built, St. Pe­ tersburg advocated diplomacy to prevent united action by the no­ mads against the Russians. The College of Foreign Affairs, for ex­ ample, wrote to frontier officials: if the Kalmyks show some opposition then it is possible to turn the Kirgiz against them or if the Kirgiz-kaisaks do anything, to send the Kalmyks and Bashkirs to pacify them. It is possible to maintain better control without sending Russian armies.84 ДЪе Russians could usually depend upon the existing hostility be­ tween the Bashkirs, Kalmyks, and Kazakhs. In case of need they were told to promise booty and gifts from the Russian sovereign to incite one people against another.85 The policy of turning these neighboring groups against each other was used only in emergencies when the Russian position was threatened. The central administration many times exhorted the frontier authorities to do all in their power to stop the mutual at­ tacks.88 Raids by the Kazakhs and Kalmyks on the Bashkirs in­ creased the difficulties of administering the area, and the resulting loss of life and property was reflected in decreased government rev­ enue. 34. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1 , 174. 35. Ibid., p. 175. 36. Ibid., pp. 169C



T he policy of the separation of peoples was again followed within each major group. The principle of granting special status to native leaders in order to gain their loyalty had long been fol­ lowed in Bashkiria. Many reports paid tribute to the loyal service of Bashkirs in Russian armies. They had served not only against the Swedes and Poles but also against the Turks and Crimeans.87 Throughout the course of the colonial wars loyal Bashkirs contrib­ uted much to the victory of the government forces. The state in re­ turn granted special privileges to those who served. For example, for military service the tarkhans were relieved of the obligation to pay tribute. T he complex population of Bashkiria gave the Russians ample opportunity to exploit the internal divisions of the country. The hostility between the Bashkirs and the non-Bashkir immigrants who had flooded into the territory beyond the Kama led virtually to civil war on occasions. The immigrants often supported the re­ gime and in return for their loyalty were finally rewarded by the St. Petersburg authorities. In short, then, the general strategy of the Russian administration was designed first to push a defensive line step by step into the fron­ tier area. Supplementing the military moves, Russian diplomacy tried to prevent the formation of native confederations and to di­ vide the peoples internally by luring leading elements over to the Russian side. The complex composition of the population in Bash­ kiria made this policy especially fruitful. T o sum up the situation at Peter's death in 1725, several devel­ opments were drawing Russia to the southeast, into Asia. The long-standing goal of stabilizing Bashkiria had yet to be completely achieved, although no serious outbreak occurred in the decade fol­ lowing 1725. In the Kazakh Steppe the pressure from Jungaria was pushing the Kazakh hordes ever closer to the Russian borders. Far­ ther to the south the moribund states of Central Asia appeared ripe for Russian conquest. Once in control of Kazakhstan and Central Asia, Russia could approach the borders of India and avail herself of the opportunity to participate in the profitable trade with the Orient. This complex of problems and aspirations was combined by Peter into one overall scheme. He died before much was accom­ plished, but he inspired his successors to go on to greater things.37 37. Ibid., p. 45.


The Origins of the Orenburg Project, 1725—34

The death of Peter the Great did not put an end to Russia's expan­ sive ambitions for advancing along the Southeastern Frontier. Un­ der his successors, men trained in Peter's administration drew up and put into action specific plans to realize his general policies for achieving imperial control of the Bashkir territories and realizing the other Russian goals in the region. The most important of these men was State Councillor Ivan Kirillovich Kirillov, who first designed and then received command of a project entitled the Or­ enburg Expedition, which was intended primarily to establish the garrison town of Orenburg as a Russian military outpost at the junction of the Or and Ural rivers. “The foundation of Orenburg," in the words of one respected authority, “was one of the most outstanding events in Russian his­ tory, ranking in importance not far behind the conquest of Ka­ zan."1 Although Kirillov did not foresee the full consequences of his project to Russian relations with the native peoples, or live to carry the project to complete success, his work renewed the Rus­ sian drive to the southeast. By the middle of the eighteenth cen­ tury, as a result of events set in motion by his project, a line of forts was ultimately built along the Ural River stretching to the Caspian Sea. Orenburg became a base for further conquest: if Kazan led the Russians broadly into Asia, Orenburg led them specifically into Central Asia. T





is s io n



K a za kh s, 1 7 3 0 -3 2

The events that initiated the Orenburg project and led to the next phase of Russian southeastward expansion occurred in Ka1. *55-

W alter Kolarz, Russia and H er Colonies (F. A. Praeger: New York, 1955), p.



zakhstan. As had happened earlier, certain Kazakh leaders ap­ proached Russia, seeking protection against their enemies. This time A. Volynskii, the governor of Astrakhan, wrote the College of Foreign Affairs in the summer of 1725 that he had investigated “whether this people [the Kazakhs] voluntarily desired the protec­ tion of Her Imperial Majesty [Catherine I].”23Early in 1726 Abulkhair (Ebiilkhayir), Khan of the Little Horde, sent an emissary to St. Petersburg to declare in the name of the Little Horde that the Kazakhs desired Russian protection. He also asked permission to wander in the middle Ural River region, and requested the Rus­ sians to order the Bashkirs and Ural Cossacks “to live with them peacefully and not to commit destructive acts or make raids.“® Abulkhair offered to exchange prisoners and promised to “serve with complete fidelity and according to the orders of Her Majesty.“ The College of Foreign Affairs is said to have doubted the creden­ tials of the envoy and consequently did not follow up the oppor­ tunity. A more likely explanation for the apparent lack of Rus­ sian interest is that the government feared such an alliance might antagonize the Jungars.45 In 1728 the Kazakhs defeated the Jungars in a battle. This en­ couraged the leaders of the Little and Middle hordes to form a federation of tribes to defend themselves more effectively. Meeting in the region of Chimkent, they selected Abulkhair to lead the mil­ itary forces. He defeated the Jungars again in 1729. A significant part of the Middle Horde was liberated, and only the Great Horde remained subject to Jungaria.6 Even while certain Kazakh leaders were seeking Russian pro­ tection, others were raiding Russian settlements and generally dis­ rupting life along the frontier. In 1727 the government settled over three hundred Cossacks at the junction of the Sakmara and Ural rivers to protect southern Bashkiria from the Kazakhs and Kara­ kalpaks.® This tiny fort was hardly equal to the task. During the reign of Empress Anna Ivanovna (1730-40), St. Pe­ tersburg decided to strengthen the Russian position in Bashkiria 2. Istoriia Kazakhskoi SSR, 1 ,236. 3. Kirgiz-kaisatskie delà, 1726 g., d. (no number), LL. 61-62, as quoted in Apollova, pp. 194-954. Ibid. 5. Levshin, 2 ,79. 6. PSZ, 8 ,897.



and stabilize that troubled land. After some discussion the officials proceeded along traditional lines; they planned a new, more exten­ sive Trans-Kama Defensive Line deeper in Bashkiria. Not for two years was the line to begin building, but meantime in the same year, 1730, Abulkhair sent another embassy to Ivan Buturlin, the military governor of Ufa, to discuss the matter of Russian suze­ rainty.7 The two envoys, Kulumbet Kumtaev and Seitkul Kuidankulov, were sent on to St. Petersburg, where they arrived early in 1731. A letter from Abulkhair asked directly for Russian protec­ tion against the Jungars and Volga Kalmyks. In return he prom­ ised to assist Russia in bringing the Karakalpaks, Turkmen, and Khivans under Russian suzerainty. The College of Foreign Affairs deliberated and set forth Rus­ sian conditions.8 As a mark of submission it required yearly trib­ ute; an end to the raids on the Bashkirs, Kalmyks, and Ural Cos­ sacks; the return of Russian captives; assistance in protecting com­ mercial caravans traveling through the Kazakh Steppe; and, finally, hostages as a guarantee of good faith. It was at that time that a sen­ ior secretary of the Senate, Ivan Kirillovich Kirillov, conceived the idea of building a fortified town at the junction of the Or and Ural rivers to protect the Kazakhs from the Kalmyks and Jungars, and that the task of presenting the conditions to Abulkhair was as­ signed to Aleksei Ivanovich Tevkelev, the Russianized Tatar prince from Ufa who had been selected by Peter the Great for a similar mission some eight years earlier. Kirillov advised that Tev­ kelev should also persuade Abulkhair of the advantages of a fort on the Or. Tevkelev's party consisted of sixty persons, including two cartographers who were to gather geographical information for a map of the region.® Out in the steppe Tevkelev reached Abulkhair’s camp in Octo­ ber 1731. He soon discovered that the Khan had not been speaking for the whole of his people. When the Kazakh leaders learned the reason for the mission an immediate uproar took place. They wanted to seize and execute Tevkelev and his party immediately. 7. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 5; Levshin, 2, 95; “Iz istorii snoshenii Kazakhov s tsarskoi Rossiei v XVIII veke,” Krasnyi arkhiv, 5(75) (1936), 189. (Hereafter d ted as K A ) 8. PSZ, 8 ,386-87. 9. Ibid., pp. 383-86; Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 5-6; KA, pp. 190-93; A. I. Dobrosmyslov, “Turgaiskaia oblast'. Istoricheskii ocherk,” Izvestiia Orenburgskago otdeleniia imperatorskago russkago geograficheskago obshchestva, 1900, vyp. 15, 7-8. (Hereafter dted as Dobrosmyslov, RGO.)



The opposition leaders even challenged Abulkhair’s authority, and the situation appeared perilous. Tevkelev fearlessly faced the as­ sembled elders and spoke eloquently of the advantages of Russian suzerainty. He called attention to the well-being of the Volga Kal­ myks and the Ufa Bashkirs, the result of submission to Russia, particularly emphasizing the security they had obtained from their enemies. His arguments were made more persuasive by a strategic disbursement of gifts. He eventually convinced a slight majority, the members of which swore an oath of allegiance to the Russian empress.10 Semeke (Shemiaka), the Khan of the Middle Horde, was not present, although he had been invited to participate with Abulkhair. Envoys sent by Tevkelev returned with Semeke’s rea­ sons for refusing to join with Abulkhair: “[Abulkhair] accepted subjugation without the agreement of the khans and the elders . . . and he [Semeke] would submit to Russia only when he himself de­ sired, not at the advice of Abulkhair Khan.”11 Even within the Little Horde of Abulkhair the party that op­ posed the Russian alliance was very strong. Many preferred sub­ mission to the Jungars. Abulkhair wrote to the Empress in 1733: O ur people are like wild animals; and, besides, the Kalmyk ruler, Lobzha [sic], has agitated the Kazakhs greatly. And, therefore, this Kirgiz-kaisak people divided into two groups. And I, Your most humble slave, separated my party from them.12 Because Tevkelev’s embassy was still in a precarious position, he ordered all his group, except for himself and one other person, back to Russia to report the results of the mission. The College of Foreign Affairs, fearing the cause was lost, provided funds to ran­ som Tevkelev. Meanwhile, Abulkhair decamped with his auls and moved south toward the Aral Sea. There he acquired the support of Kaip, the Khan of the Karakalpaks. Having analyzed the situa­ tion, Tevkelev persuaded Abulkhair of the advantages of a Russian fort on the Or River where it met the Ural, as had been suggested by Kirillov. He reported to the College of Foreign Affairs in a let­ ter of January 3,1732: 10. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 6; KA, pp. 198-99; Dobrosmyslov, RGO, pp. 8-10. 11. Z hum al Tevkeleva in Kazakhsko-russkie otnosheniia v X V I-X V III vekakh (Sbornik dokumentov i materialov), p. 64. 1«. Kazakhsko-russkie otnosheniia v X V I-X V III vekakh, p. 98.



First, the Kirgiz-kaisaks have refused to send children of the leaders as hostages to Ufa, but one person from . . . each clan could live in the town and serve on a court for Kirgiz-kaisak affairs, collect tribute and send it annually to Moscow. The judges would be substitutes for political hostages, and it would be impossible for the Kirgiz-kaisaks to commit offenses against Russian subjects. And if this fort were built, caravans going to Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent, and Turkestan would find it more convenient because Khiva is closer to Ufa than to Astrakhan . . . and the road is very convenient, water is more abundant . . . and the dangers to merchants would not be as great because the Kirgiz-kaisaks themselves would serve as escorts.13 It is clear that the pressure from the Jungarians was the force that led the Kazakhs to seek Russian assistance, probably because Russia was at that moment a less real threat to independence. But the political ambitions of Abulkhair also played an important role. The divisions among the three hordes and within each of the hordes weakened a people that in numbers and military power would have been a force of considerable consequence. Abulkhair, an aggressive khan, aspired to leadership over this “unruly” peo­ ple. His intentions of using the alliance with Russia to further his political ambitions were clearly stated two years later in a letter to Empress Anna, dated 1734: “I am not able at the present time to pacify all the senseless Kazakhs who assault envoys or merchants . . . but as soon as the town is built I will then be able to pacify 'them.”14 In December 1732 Abulkhair sent another embassy to Russia headed by his second son, Erali. Several representatives from the Great Horde accompanied the party to Ufa for further negotia­ tions.15 The inclusion of the Great Horde emissaries was probably an attempt on the part of Abulkhair to convince the Russians that he had persuaded the Great Horde leaders to seek Russian suze­ rainty. Semeke of the Middle Horde still preferred to remain inde­ pendent. Tevkelev accompanied this embassy, arriving in Ufa to the astonishment of the local officials who were preparing to ran­ som him.16 Early in 1734 the embassy reached St. Petersburg. Erali 13. 14. 15. 16.

KA, p.204. Kazakhsko-russkie otnosheniia v X V I-X V III vekakh, pp. 121-22. PSZ, 9 ,303-04. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 7; Dobrosmyslov, RGO, p. 11.



was received by the Empress, and at the audience he addressed Anna: Most Serene, Most Powerful Empress, Most Gracious Sover­ eign. My father, Abulkhair Khan, with all his Kirgiz-kaisak Horde and at his own request—and [by virtue] of Your royal grace has been deemed worthy of the protection and eternal submission to Your Most High Imperial Majesty—and for the sake of [declaring] his loyal servitude has sent me to Your Maj­ esty’s most high court. Falling at the feet of Your Majesty, in the name of my father I bring thanks for Your kindness and as a most humble slave beseech You to take us under Your unfailing Imperial grace and protection.17 Vice-Chancellor Osterman replied, accepting the Kazakhs as Rus­ sian subjects. Afterward the party was taken on a tour of the city to see the sights, particularly the military and naval establishments and the curiosities in the Academy of Sciences. In spite of Erali’s protestations of loyalty and faithful servitude, difficulties soon arose between the Kazakhs and the Russians. In a letter sent to Abulkhair thanking him for his efforts to bring the Kazakhs of the Little and Great hordes and the Karakalpaks under Russian control, he was delicately criticized for permitting an at­ tack on a Russian caravan on its way to Khiva and Bukhara.18 T




P r o je c t

T he man who drew up the plan for building a town at the mouth of the Or, Ivan Kirillovich Kirillov, was of undistinguished origin. He began government service in a minor position in the Se­ cret Police Department, later became a copying clerk in the Senate, where he attracted the attention of Peter the Great, who advanced him to the rank of Secretary. In 1727 he attained the rank of Sen­ ior Secretary. Although he had little formal education, he had taught himself mathematics, mechanics, history, economics, and metallurgy. He was known for his role in the compilation of the first extensive map of the Empire, and through this activity he be­ came acquainted with the problems of the frontier areas. Strongly influenced by Peter, he worked to advance some of the uncom­ pleted schemes of his teacher. After Tevkelev’s mission he pre17. Rychkov.p. 8. 18. PSZ, 9 ,303; Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1 ,120-21,124-31,



sented two plans to the Cabinet. The first dealt with the Siberian and Kamchatka expeditions which had been proposed by Peter. He also described Great Tartary and the proposal for the construc­ tion of a town at the mouth of the Or River. His second plan dealt solely with the Kazakh and Karakalpak hordes and the advantages to be reaped from the subjugation of these peoples.19 He discussed the development of trade with Central Asia, the possibilities of ex­ ploiting the potential mineral wealth of Kazakh territory, and the protection of Russia from the raids of the steppe nomads. The document was a detailed proposal which, in addition to stat­ ing the reasons for such an expedition, gave a general survey of the peoples and history of the area and Russian interests there. Kiril­ lov wrote: the first favorable news was received from Tevkelev, the for­ mer envoy to Abulkhair Khan of the Kirgiz-kaisaks, [news] that this khan . . . and the Karakalpak khan with all their peo­ ples had become subjects [of Russia] . . . and thus the route to Lake Aral is open; and, no matter how incredibly undepend­ able they may be, it is most fortunate that Abulkhair Khan . . . wishes to have a Russian fort constructed for his protection near his territory, an obvious gain for us which can be a base for [carrying out] our plans and through which we might, with the help of God, step by step take over even Badakhshan’s wealthy lands up to the very borders of Persia and India and from there receive riches of gold, lapis lazuli, Balas rubies, and other things; and prevent our neighbor the Kontaisha [the Jungarian ruler] from being strengthened. And we will be able to restrain our older subjects, the Bashkirs and Volga Kalmyks, from their designs and from unification (it is ne­ cessary to fear this . . . ) without the movement of great ar­ mies.20 Kirillov's explanation for the selection of the middle Ural River for the construction of a defensive line reveals the general strategic policy of the Russian government. The new town was to be built at the mouth of the Or River, “which falls into the Ural River, be­ cause it is the most central point between the Bashkirs and the Kirgiz-kaisak hordes and divides the Volga Kalmyks . . . from the 19. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1 , 1-50. so. Ibid., p. 18.



Bashkirs.”21 He also made a table of the personnel requirements for carrying out the project. In addition to military and technical forces he suggested that non-Russian frontier peoples in Bashkiria be recruited to build towns and other outposts. Then he turned to what he considered one of the most important aims of the whole project, the matter of trade. To attract Asiatic merchants he recom­ mended that no customs be levied on goods for several years. While the possibility of commerce with the Kazakhs was not overlooked, the more important consideration was trade with Central Asia and India. The fabled wealth of Badakhshan, which was then divided between Samarkand and Bukhara, Kirillov especially coveted. He went on to detail the steps necessary for taking over Central Asia. T he establishment of a fort on the Aral Sea and the building of a navy there were the initial stages. As for the fort on the Or River, Kirillov proposed a small garri­ son at first, one and a half battalions of service gentry and Cos­ sacks, one or two regiments from the Kazan garrison, five hundred Cossacks from the Southeastern Frontier, and a number of Bash­ kir tarkhans. T o compensate for the initial weakness in the region, Kirillov suggested that the government could in emergency resort to the following policy: “Now that the Kirgiz-kaisaks have become subjects we can use the Kirgiz or Bashkirs to inflict damage on this Jungar ruler without using Russian armies.”22 Summing up his arguments Kirillov concluded: Many examples might be presented to anyone who desires to oppose this enterprise by pointing out the danger to be ex­ pected from the Bashkirs or the Kirgiz or other local peoples. First, if Tsar Ivan Vasilivich [Ivan TV] had not taken Kazan and Astrakhan from the Tatars and the Bashkirs had not be­ come subjects, then there would always have been enemies living close to us like those beyond them in the steppe now. And to Her Majesty’s good fortune, these are now becoming subjects. Second, the Bashkirs are held in subjugation by Ufa alone which has so few people that they are not a hundredth part in comparison with the number of Bashkirs, and yet [the Bashkirs] have always served loyally not only against the Swedes and Poles but also against the Turks and Crimeans. 21. Ibid., p. 19. 22. Ibid., pp. 39®.



And about the past uprisings, careful judgment would show that the trouble was caused by the Russians who wanted to take away their [the Bashkirs’] former . . . fishing rights, grain mills, and to levy excessive trib u te.. . . Third, all great Siberia was unknown and it seemed in those times as difficult to take possession of as now the crumbling Bukharan provinces. But Yermak seized it and the way to China was opened. Now it is possible to hope that we might reach Japan. Earlier when those . . . well-known dominions were not adjacent to Russia and were not established by long custom and the local peoples did not mingle, then it was always necessary to fear a repeti­ tion of what Russia suffered from Batu and Tamerlane and other Mohammedans coming out of Asia with great armies. But God’s dispensations and the seizure of these vast countries led Russia to power and glory. He went on to say that the present moment was most favorable for extending the Russian borders and enriching the state, because the Bukharan territories had broken up into a large number of petty states that could be subjugated without great difficulty as the Ka­ zakhs and Karakalpaks had been. With the support of Privy Counsellor A. P. Bestuzhev-Riumin, Kirillov’s proposal to build a town on the Or was approved by Em­ press Anna on May 1, 1734. Kirillov and Tevkelev were ordered to proceed immediately to carry out the project. W ith these orders 4the Muscovite state launched the conquest of Bashkiria, although this had been only one consideration in the plans of the govern­ ment authorities. Although the Russians had claimed all of Bashkiria in 1557, fol­ lowing the conquest of Kazan, nearly two centuries later the terri­ tories beyond the Trans-Kama Line had still not been brought under effective administrative control. East of the Volga and south­ east of Kazan there remained a vast region inhabited by several powerful nomadic peoples who had successfully held off the Rus­ sian armies and maintained their autonomy in dealing with Rus­ sian officials. The resistance of these peoples to Russian control was rooted in the nomads’ fiercely independent tribal ways, the coun­ terattractions of the Turkish-Crimean power, and the unwilling­ ness of the native rulers to submit to the exactions of the Russian state. Their ability to resist can be explained by the formidable



military capabilities of the nomadic cavalry, protecting villages, herds, and flocks that could keep moving beyond the range of Rus­ sian forces. In a land that lacked major natural barriers, the superb horsemen of the steppes could not easily be pinned down and de­ feated once and for all. Russian imperial expansion into this region was motivated by several considerations. In an age of state-building and warfare, as already mentioned, the demand for funds made the tribute of the numerous colonial peoples desirable. Increasingly important in the eighteenth century was the mineral wealth of the Ural region, an­ other vital necessity for a state aiming at modernization. Hope of becoming middlemen in the European trade with Asia was also a strong allurement. And contemporary government administrators thought defense of the frontier a major reason. T o more remote eyes the defense argument was at least partially spurious because Russia had moved deeply into foreign territory. Despite their claims over Bashkiria, the Russians were “defending” it from its native inhabitants. The consequence of Russia’s imperialism was the vigorous op­ position of the Bashkirs. The series of brutal colonial wars of the seventeenth and* eighteenth centuries had demonstrated the atti­ tude of the local inhabitants. Farther away, but of growing impor­ tance, were the Kazakhs, fleeing from Mongol attacks. But the Russians were confident of their increasing strength by 1734. T he authorities of S t Petersburg expected the Orenburg Expedition would establish, by one quick stroke, their absolute dominion over the turbulent frontier region to the southeast. The project had been conceived by pupils of Peter the Great, and it was planned on a scale of which he would have approved.


The Orenburg Expedition, 1734—35

On May 18, 1734, the government issued detailed orders to Kiril­ lov for the project that was initially entitled the Orenburg Expe­ dition. The instructions followed Kirillov’s recommendations, in substance having three major aims. The first was the construction of a fortified town at the junction of the Or and Ural rivers which was to be the beginning of a defensive line of forts along the south­ ern Bashkir border and a base for administering the Kazakhs who had recently accepted Russian suzerainty. The second was to deal with Bashkir unrest. And, finally, measures for taking a command­ ing position in Central Asia were spelled out. T ^e initial step in accomplishing the latter goal was expressed as follows: And for the convenience of commerce it is necessary to build a port on the Aral Sea . . . in the territory of the Kirgiz-kaisaks and to install cannon in our ships and, in fact, to take posses­ sion of that sea.1 From this point Russian political and commercial interests in Cen­ tral Asia could be easily advanced. Thus, all the long-run goals of Peter the Great in this region were lumped into the one project. It would be a major step toward the southeast if it were realized. In keeping with his new responsibilities and his broad range of authority, Kirillov was advanced to the rank of State Councillor.2 Tevkelev simultaneously, as second in command of the expedi­ tion, received the rank of Colonel. After a personal audience with the Empress, Kirillov and Tevkelev left St. Petersburg on June 15, 1. PSZ, 9, 3*6. s. "State Councillor" (Statskii souetnik) was a rating in the government bureauc­ racy and does not mean a councillor of the tsar or state. It ranked fifth from the top in Peter the Great’s "Table of Ranks” and corresponded to a Brigadier in the military service.



1734, in company with Abulkhair's son Erali and a number of Bashkirs. The advance group began the journey to Moscow on five river boats, the remainder of the party following overland about two weeks later under the command of Naval Lieutenant Peter Bakhmetev, Kirillov’s father-in-law.8 In St. Petersburg only key leadership and technical personnel were recruited: military units and their necessary officers; naval personnel to handle the problems of river transportation and to manage naval affairs when the port and fleet were built on the Aral Sea; construction workers to build towns and docks; engineers to plan and supervise construction; a bookkeeper; and scientific per­ sonnel to make maps, search for minerals, and investigate the nat­ ural phenomena of the region. Prior to the departure letters were dispatched to the leaders of the three Kazakh hordes and the Karakalpaks. They were reminded of their oaths to the Empress and were asked to protect Russian caravans traveling to and from the towns of Central Asia. Semeke (Shemiaka), Khan of the Middle Horde, was reprimanded for hav­ ing made raids on the Bashkirs. At Bronnitsy, approximately 25 versts from Novgorod, Kiril­ lov’s party left the boats and traveled the rest of the way to Mos­ cow by post-horses, arriving in Moscow on the twenty-ninth of June. Here a number of other persons were added to the expedi­ tion, including a geologist, a pharmacist, a botanist, a historiog­ rapher, an artist, several office clerks, a surgeon, a priest, several students from the Greek-Latin-Slavonic Academy, and a number of army officers. After a month in Moscow the enlarged group left for Ufa on eleven river boats. Kirillov himself continued on ahead of the party by post-horse to Kolomna, Pereiaslavl, Old Riazan, Kasimov, and finally Kazan, which he reached in August. In Kazan Kirillov took command of the Penzensk Regiment, a number of artillerists, and other special units. W ith this part of his expedition he left for Ufa late in October, arriving on the tenth of November 1734, five months after departing from St. Petersburg.3* 3. T he narrative of events is based primarily on Rychkov’s Istoriia. Rychkov was Secretary of the Orenburg Commission during the administration of Nepliuev, 1741-58. He wrote a history of the whole project. Supplementary accounts based on archival materials are those of Dobrosmyslov, RGO, and V. N. Vitevskii’s 7. /. Nepliuev i Orenburgskii krai v prezhnem ego sostave do 1758 g.



In Ufa he made the final preparations for the expedition. His forces now included the Penzensk Regiment, a battalion from Ufa, half of the Ufa gentry and Cossacks, and a newly organized Oren­ burg squadron composed of youths from Ufa, Birsk, and Menzelinsk. In addition to assembling his military forces, Kirillov made arrangements for supplying his command with provisions and equipment. To facilitate the movement of supplies he ordered the building of boat landings on the upper Ufa and Ural rivers. To secure the line of communications with the Siberian towns, Kirillov, on the advice of friendly Bashkirs, set about construct­ ing Fort Verkhneuralsk on the upper Ural River.4 In a letter to Count Andrei Osterman, Kirillov wrote: “This place is so con­ venient that any provisions from Siberian towns can not only be transported down the Yaik [Ural] River but can be sent all the way to the Caspian Sea.“5 As soon as the fort was completed and garrisoned with two companies of regular troops and a number of Cossacks, Kirillov ordered a train of 500 wagons sent from various Siberian towns with supplies to be stored at the new settlement. In addition to these activities, Kirillov spent the winter compil­ ing a list of the Bashkir clans and their prominent leaders for the use of the Ufa chancery. He also enrolled a number of Bashkir tarkhans to accompany the expedition, granting the title of tarkhan to many of those who did not already hold it. The Bashkirs, long uneasy over Russian penetration into their area, had incessantly petitioned the tsarist government for relief from oppression. Even while the expedition was in the process of organization, the administration drew up a table of the protests made by Bashkir leaders.® Briefly, the objections were the very same as those which had led to the wars in 1662-64, 1675-83, 1705-11: seizure of land and abuses by government officials. Already chronically aggrieved, the Bashkirs learned of the ex­ pedition to the River Or. They realized that the addition of a de­ fensive line along the Ural River would virtually complete the en­ circlement of their territory. A Bashkir elder in St. Petersburg wrote a letter to Kil’miak Nurushev, the most prominent leader of the anti-Russia faction in the Nogai Doroga, telling him of the Or­ enburg Expedition. Under the leadership of Kil'miak, Bepen Se4. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1, 227-31, 240-41, 282-83, 283-85, 286-87. 5. Vitevskii, / , 140-41. T he Yaik was renamed the Ural River in 1775. 6. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1, 204-15.



iangulov, Seitbai Eratkulov, Rysai-bai Igimbetev, Kusanbai Batyr, Amin, and a number of other influential Bashkir leaders, prepara­ tions were secretly made to oppose the expedition.7 These plans for war were made so secretly that little information leaked out. Kirillov, during the winter in Ufa, wrote: “The Bash­ kirs of all ranks are pleased at my preparations and arrangements and are very quiet/*8 In March, Privy State Councillor9 Vasily Ni­ kitich Tatishchev, then director of the mining and smelting indus­ try in the Ural region, wrote to Kirillov from Ekaterinburg that the Bashkirs, Cheremises, and others were holding meetings and planning to oppose the Orenburg project. Kirillov answered that the detachments which had been sent to Verkhneuralsk and Sakmarsk for securing the lines of communication had not met the slightest opposition from the Bashkirs. He added that the meetings mentioned by Tatishchev were assemblies to recruit labor for the expedition. The governor of Kazan, Count Platon Musin-Pushkin, wrote to express anxiety, but Kirillov ignored this warning too, probably because he was more concerned with the Kazakhs and with the base to be built on the Aral Sea. Then, too, Bashkir unrest was nothing new, Russia’s increasing strength was cause for confi­ dence, and after the brutal suppression of 1705-11 another out­ break did not appear likely. In April 1735, after eleven months of planning and assembling forces and equipment for the expedition, Kirillov moved out of Ufa up the gently sloping, wooded valley of the Belaia River and established a camp 10 versts to the south at Chesnokovsk, where he waited two months for the five companies of the Vologodsk Dra­ goon Regiment, which was being sent from the posts of the TransKama Line. Two envoys from Kil’miak Nurushev and his associ­ ates arrived and informed the Russians that the Bashkirs would resist to their full strength the carrying out of the expedition’s plans and demanded that the project be abandoned. The two en­ voys were intensively interrogated, one of them dying under the tortures. Kirillov decided not to wait for the additional forces but 7. A. I. Dobrosmyslov, “Bashkirskii bunt v 1735, 1736 i 1737 gg.,” Trudy Orenburgskoi uchenoi arkhivnoi komissii, vyp., VIII (Orenburg, 1900), pp. 7-8. (Here­ after d ted as Dobrosmyslov, T rudy) 8. Ibid., p. 12. 9. Like State Councillor, “Privy Councillor“ (Tainyi sovetnik) was a rating in the bureaucracy. Ranking third in Peter's “Table of Ranks,” it corresponded to a Lieutenant General or Vice Admiral in the military.



to proceed on to the River Or. He left his camp on June 15 and continued up the Belaia with ten companies of the Penzensk Regi­ ment, three companies of newly organized Orenburg dragoons, 150 Ufa Cossacks, 100 Ural Cossacks, a number of service Tatars, 15 newly converted Kalmyks, 600 Ufa Meshcheriaks10 under the com­ mand of their own leader, and 100 Bashkir tarkhans. He had reg­ istered 700 of the latter, but only 100 had shown up. This should have been a warning of the Bashkir attitude. In addition to these units Kirillov had more than two dozen pieces of artillery of as­ sorted sizes and more than 100 artillerymen with their officers. The whole mounted to upward of 2,500 men. He had also established garrisons at Verkhneuralsk and Sakmarsk. Two companies of the Orenburg dragoons were left behind to wait for the five compa­ nies of Vologodsk troops who were coming from the Trans-Kama Line to guide them to the Or. The Vologodsk companies arrived at the Chesnokovsk camp un­ der the command of Lieutenant Colonel Chirikov four days after Kirillov had left. After resting several days, Chirikov's group set out to catch up with the main body. In spite of orders from Kiril­ lov to be cautious, Chirikov traveled carelessly, permitting his forces to string out in a long line while he himself rode far ahead of the column. The supply wagons straggled along behind. For a week all was peaceful; but suddenly, on July 1, Kil’miak and his associates and approximately 3,000 Bashkirs from the Nogai Doroga fell on the column. Chirikov, a priest, the doctor, eighteen dragoons, and forty-two workers were killed, and forty-six carts of the supply train were captured. Only the alertness and vigorous ac­ tion of Captain Gebauer saved the battle from turning into a com­ plete rout.11 On learning of this disaster, Kirillov conferred with his staff offi­ cers and sent a detachment back to assist the Vologodsk companies. The rescue group was made up of 100 Cossacks, 100 Meshcheriaks, and a number of officers. These forces soon ran into superior oppo­ sition and had to return to the main body. The brief clash with the Bashkirs resulted in 100 deaths for the natives and several wounded 10. T he Meshcheriaks (or Mishari) were from a T atar tribe who lived in the middle Volga region. Many of them migrated into Bashkiria after the fall of Ka­ zan. They ordinarily paid their Bashkir landlords quitrent for the land they occu­ pied. 11. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, a , 96. ggff.



for the Russians. A new party of 150 Cossacks and 150 Meshcheriaks subsequently joined the Vologodsk companies 291 versts from Ufa, and together on the tenth of July they reached the main body, now located near the point where the Belaia swings north after flowing out of the Ural Mountains. Wishing to minimize the significance of these events, Kirillov wrote the Cabinet that the danger was not great, blamed the trou­ ble on the carelessness of Chirikov, and requested the Senate to send an investigating committee to Ufa, or possibly a new gover­ nor, to examine the situation and punish the troublemakers. He thought the difficulties could be attributed to a small number of dissident Bashkirs and did not think the dissatisfaction was general. He also suggested that a battalion be sent to round up the hostile group, and that several additional companies of troops be sent to join the expedition.12 Meanwhile, the large supply train on its way from Siberia met a party of 260 Bashkirs, who killed several men, seized forty wagons, and held the remainder of the train under seige until troops led by Lieutenant Colonel Arsen'ev from Verkhneuralsk came to its relief. In spite of the danger to his supply line, Kirillov insisted on. pushing forward. He crossed the divide between the Belaia and the Sakmara River system and beyond to the Ural valley, finally arriving at a point on the Ural River oppo­ site the mouth of the Or, 500 versts from Ufa, on August 6, 1735, a week less than four months after leaving Ufa. Because the ex­ pected supplies had not yet arrived, the expedition was forced to go on short rations, even to the point of eating some of their pre­ cious horses. On the fifteenth of August Kirillov laid the foundations of Oren­ burg. Nurali Sultan, the eldest son of Abulkhair, and a number of Kazakh leaders attended the ceremony. On the holiday of the As­ sumption of the Virgin and in the presence of the Kazakhs and a few Tashkent merchants, the army was drawn up in parade forma­ tion. A priest said a Те Deum and sprinkled holy water on the loca­ tions of the future walls and bastions. Afterward the Russians held a feast for the members of the expedition and their guests. The Kazakh leaders and the officers drank toasts in honor of the impe­ rial family and the prominent Kazakhs. The drinking, incidentally, was an indication of the weakness of Islam among the Kazakhs. 12. ibid., pp. 97-99.



On the following day Kirillov personally supervised the initial con­ struction of the walls, bastions, and the main buildings. The Ka­ zakh guests were once more treated liberally, being given a bounti­ ful meal of beef, mutton, koumiss, and many other delicacies. In September Kirillov sent a full report of his activities to the Senate in which he noted continuing hostile activity from the Bash­ kir opposition and analyzed his situation in Orenburg. He advo­ cated greater efforts and more severe measures to bring the “rebels” to heel.18 It having soon become evident that more than a few isolated raids were involved, the government hastily ordered Count MusinPushkin, the governor of Kazan, to Bashkiria to organize and lead the Russian forces against the enemy. The selection of a person of such high position indicated how seriously the government consid­ ered the situation. From the village of Elabuga in Bashkiria, Mu* sin-Pushkin soon wrote to the Senate that approximately 1,000 Bashkirs had attacked Menzelinsk and had been driven off with heavy casualties. His units had also been attacked near his head­ quarters and in other nearby villages. He feared the Kazan Tatars might join the fray and complained of a shortage of troops.14 During September, while Kirillov was constructing Orenburg, Bashkirs twice approached Menzelinsk and also burned villages in the vicinities of Zainsk, Biliarsk, and Old Sheshminsk, and other Trans-Kama Line forts. The sending of Musin-Pushkin to Bashkiria was only a stopgap pleasure. The governing Senate meeting in joint session with the Cabinet on August 5 discussed the war and decided to organize a special Bashkir Commission to handle affairs in Bashkiria. Lieu­ tenant General Alexander Rumiantsev, formerly a close colleague of Peter the Great, was appointed head of the Commission and is­ sued instructions which spelled out the administration’s policy during this phase of the struggle.16 Briefly, Rumiantsev was given authority to coordinate activities in Bashkiria.18 He was to depart immediately for Menzelinsk; Mu13. Ibid., pp. 80-86. 14. Ibid., pp. 88-89. 15. Ibid., pp. 64-78. 16. Rumiantsev’s and Kirillov’s commands remained separate. T he two heads were told to coordinate their activities. Joint action was discussed in conferences. Because Rumiantsev held the superior rank, he usually signed documents above Kirillov.



sin-Pushkin, meanwhile, proceeded to Ufa for a short period to recruit troops for the coming campaign before returning to his of­ fice in Kazan. Initially the policy was to be persuasion, but if this failed Rumiantsev was to resort to military force to "pacify” the recalcitrant "rebels.” His units were to be composed of two dra­ goon regiments and one foot regiment. In addition, the Ural Cos­ sacks were to send 500 men, and the College of Foreign Affairs ordered the Kalmyk khan, Chirin Donduk, to assemble 3,000 Kal­ myks and wait for Rumiantsev’s instructions. Kirillov was to hold the Orenburg Expedition plans temporarily in abeyance. He was to return the bulk of his force to Ufa, Sakmarsk, or to some other strategic place, but to take care that his lines of communication could not be cut by the Bashkirs. Rumiantsev subsequently received several secret instructions. A letter dated August 19 dealt with the bringing of 590 Cossacks to the forts in the Trans-Kama Line and also requested that he expe­ dite the settling of over 1,500 more who had asked permission to settle along the east bank of the Volga. Another dated August 23 ordered him to interrogate all captives to find out "why the rebel­ lion had started and whether any Tatars or other dissidents were cooperating with them [the Bashkirs].” Also on August 23, a de­ cree instructed him to issue uniforms and arms to two companies of Admiralty Department personnel and any other available re­ cruits and to give them military training because of "the small number of persons [in the garrisons], among whom the greater part are Mohammedans or of other faiths; and the Bashkirs, learning of the few numbers of the Kazan garrison, will not be afraid.” On September 9 he was instructed to stock Verkhneuralsk and other points with provisions and to send some to Kirillov if he had al­ ready started building the projected town on the Or River.17 The formation of the Bashkir Commission, primarily an organ­ ization to coordinate military command for Bashkiria, was an omi­ nous indicator. Peter I had attempted to leap over both the Bash­ kirs and the Kazakhs to reach Central Asia. He had been forced to draw back. The founders of the Orenburg Expedition made a sim­ ilar error. The unforeseen vigor of the Bashkir opposition com­ pelled them to direct the whole project to the Bashkir problem. The other purposes became secondary. 17. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2, 77-78.



A n o t h e r C o l o n ia l W


B e g in s

The Bashkir outbreak threatened the whole Orenburg project. The town itself was virtually abandoned as all efforts focused on subjugating the Bashkirs. From the autumn of 1735 until Kirillov's death in the spring of 1737 the Russians fought a brutal colonial war. During the fall and early winter the Bashkirs directed their at­ tention to destroying the Orenburg Expedition. For this reason Kirillov and Tevkelev bore the brunt of the action while Rumian­ tsev and Musin-Pushkin organized their forces in the north. Kirillov, leaving Orenburg in the charge of Lieutenant Colonel Yakov Fedorovich Chemodurov who kept ten companies of the troops, set out for Ufa on September 7, 1735, with one company, a band of Cossacks, and a number of irregulars. He dispatched Tev­ kelev at the head of a detachment to Siberia to attack the Bashkirs there and to expedite the supplies destined for Orenburg. Tev­ kelev moved up the Ural River Valley with three dragoon compa­ nies, several hundred irregulars, and the nearly 1,000 peasants who had accompanied the first supply train to Orenburg. On reaching Sakmarsk on September 18 Kirillov found that a number of Bashkirs friendly to Russia operating out of Sakmarsk had captured a few of the enemy. After interrogation and torture the captives were executed by Kirillov. He continued on toward Ufa. About 130 versts from the town he ran into a force of more than 1,000 hostile Bashkirs. In an indecisive three-day running bat­ tle heavy losses were sustained by the Bashkirs. As a punitive meas­ ure Kirillov burned more than a score of villages. His Cossacks captured a number of women and children and stores of grain. The detachment reached Ufa on October 16 after several, though minor skirmishes. Tevkelev's detachment on its way to Siberia suffered severely from lack of provisions and an extraordinarily heavy snowfall for September. A number of horses died for lack of fodder. Those that survived had to subsist on willow bark, and some even began to eat each other's tails and manes. In spite of the hardships Tevkelev's group reached Verkhneuralsk, 290 versts from Orenburg, on Sep­ tember 20. Leaving Captain Uvarov with two companies of troops, Tevkelev set out for Techensk on the twenty-fifth. Again suffering from heavy snow and hunger—the dragoons had to eat some of their horses—he marched to Techensk where he arrived on the



eighth of October. From there he made a quick journey to Ekate­ rinburg to confer with Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev. Tevkelev dis­ cussed plans for quelling the Bashkir uprising with Tatishchev and busied himself gathering food, warm clothing, arms, and other supplies for his own forces and for the garrison in Orenburg. He immediately dispatched the emergency supplies to Verkhneuralsk. Because the expedition's funds had been exhausted, he was forced to borrow 800 rubles from Tatischev's office. After concluding his business, he returned to Techensk, where he conferred with Colo­ nel Arsen’ev, who had recently left Verkhneuralsk to become commander of the garrison there. By mid-November he was able to send a supply train of 600 wagons under convoy of three compa­ nies commanded by Major Shkrader toward Verkhneuralsk. Shkrader was told to store the supplies at that point if Bashkir opposi­ tion proved too great to take the supplies through to Orenburg. Tevkelev then set out for Ufa on November 26 to meet Kirillov. By the end of October conditions had reached a critical state in Orenburg. The attack on Chirikov’s detachment had resulted in the loss of part of Kirillov’s supplies during the march to the Or, and still another loss was sustained when the Bashkirs attacked the Siberian supply train. Since the arrival of the wagons from Siberia in the summer, no provisions had reached Orenburg. Furthermore, when Kirillov and Tevkelev left Orenburg they took part of the provisions with them. Tevkelev had been busily engaged in ac­ cumulating supplies in Siberia, but it was the middle of November before he assembled the train of 600 wagons for Verkhneuralsk. Chemodurov wrote Kirillov on October 30 informing him of con­ ditions in Orenburg. He reported that all the buildings in the fort and the work on the moat outside the fort are finished, with the exception of the church and the upper part of the citadel of the Schlossturm; and that, it is hoped, will be finished soon; but instead of the log huts out­ side the fort for visiting Kazakhs and Bashkirs we have con­ structed two large dugouts.18 He then asked that wages soon be sent to the command for the troops and the other ranks, and fur coats, footwear, and underclothing for the soldiery of the Penzensk Regiment, because they are very in18. Ibid., p. 170.



adequately dressed and are suffering from the cold, and be­ cause of this the numbers of the ill are increasing.19 Because of the difficulties in supplying Orenburg, Kirillov de­ cided to reduce the size of the garrison. He ordered part of the de­ tachment to Techensk. He wrote Chemodurov: If you do not soon receive the expected news about the arrival of provisions from Techensk (because of the disturbances) . . . or the looters (God preserve us from this!) stop them along the road; then, instead of sending your people to Techensk ac­ cording to the previous letter, send them to Sakmarsk because there are provisions there and it will be more convenient at the present time because it is closer; and because the road to Techensk crosses a large and empty steppe the command might suffer no little need during the winter and the horses, not having forage, would starve.20 Kirillov presented a somewhat different picture of conditions to St. Petersburg, as a decree of the Senate, dated December 30, indi­ cated: “Orenburg has received more than 60,000 poods [of provi­ sions] to the great satisfaction of the whole command.“21 Prior to receiving the second letter from Kirillov, Chemodurov had already sent out a party of more than 800 on the twenty-fifth of November under the command of Major Raginsky with instruc­ tions to go to Techensk. This detachment had to return after hav­ ing gone only about 30 versts because of lack of warm clothing. Tive persons froze to death and 150 others lost one or more of their hands and feet. Because food supplies were so low, Chemodurov feared they might all perish of hunger. On November 27 he or­ dered another group of 773 to Sakmarsk some 280 to 300 versts dis­ tant. They took supplies to last until December 13; but because the trip took longer than expected, by the time the party had reached the halfway point, the portage between the Sakmara and Ural rivers, they had suffered 500 deaths from hunger and frost­ bite. The remaining 223 reached Sakmarsk scarcely living, and of this number 80 arrived with frozen hands and feet. Rumiantsev evidently did not tell the Senate the cause of their deaths, because 19. Ibid. so. Ibid., pp. 176-77. *1. Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, p. 54. A pood is 36 pounds avoirdupois.

Ki r i l l o v ' s

p o l ic ie s


months later a Senate dispatch requested further information on the reason for the death of 500 soldiers.22 The remaining troops in Orenburg consisted of approximately 300, two companies of regulars and 100 Cossacks. According to Dobrosmyslov, who compiled a set of documents on the early years of the Orenburg Expedition, “It is difficult to understand by what means Chemodurov was able to feed it [the garrison] with the scanty stock of supplies which he had . . . until July 8, 1736, when a new wagon train of provisions arrived."23 Kirillov spent little time in Ufa because Rumiantsev had sent repeated orders for him to come to Menzelinsk for a conference. He set out November 7, not waiting for the arrival of Tevkelev. In decrees of November 11 and November 14 the Empress had ordered Rumiantsev to confer with Kirillov and to compose a joint plan for subduing the Bashkirs.24 The same decrees instructed him to build several forts and Cossack settlements in the area and to construct a wooden stronghold at Menzelinsk during the winter. The site of the Bashkir attack on Chirikov's party was specifically designated as one location for a strong point which was to be garri­ soned with two companies of troops. Two Cossack villages were to be founded between the Sakmara and Ural rivers with 100 Cos­ sacks in each. The primary purpose of these three settlements was to ensure better communications with Orenburg.25 In late November and in December Rumiantsev and Kirillov conferred in order to lay plans for the pacification of the Bashkirs. K ir il l o v ' s P o l ic ie s

As early as September 1735 Kirillov had made several basic pro­ posals to the Senate for handling the Bashkirs.26 He amplified these periodically during his term as head of the expedition. He gener­ ally took a hard line: first, complete subjugation and, then, organ­ ization of orderly government. He claimed conditions in Bashkiria had been worse before the Russians arrived and that they had grad­ ually been improved under Russian administration, an almost universal thought among colonial administrators. Consequently, 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.

Ibid., fn. 26; also Materialy, 2 ,218-19. Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, p. 55. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2 , 109-10. Ibid., pp. 111-12; PSZ, 9, 713. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2, 80-86.



he was convinced that the dissidents could only be a minority. He even pointed out that numbers of Bashkirs were loyal and serving the state, as, for example, the Bashkir members of the Orenburg Expedition. His general solution was to build a network of forts around which loyal elements could be settled. Then, with several companies from the Trans-Kama Defensive Line, he could move into the center of the region, and thus, surrounding the brigands from all sides, seize their wives and children and property and horses and livestock and completely destroy their homes and punish the main instiga­ tors as an example to the others. . . and send the less guilty and male children who are fit into exile, to the Baltic area, and dis­ perse wives and female children . . . and distribute them to whoever wants to take them . . . in order that their roots will be completely tom out; and henceforth there would not be such offshoots as, for example, the main thief, Akai, who lives on the upper Yaik [Ural] and whose father Kusium died in prison for rebelling and whose grandfather was hanged. For if the children had been deported, then the nephew would not now be committing his thieving acts.27 Kirillov blamed the disturbances on the earlier government pol­ icy of leniency and advocated the following measures,28 which give an excellent picture of the situation in Bashkiria as seen by a colo­ nial administrator. All those who had been captured while participating in rebel­ lious acts were to be executed. Those who voluntarily surrendered were to escape death but were to be deported. The principal insti­ gators of the war were to be hunted down and executed without mercy. Contrary to former policy, minor offenders were not to be punished by whipping with the knout, but sent to the Baltic regi­ ments as soldiers or to Rogervik for labor. Russians without pass­ ports and other refugees of non-Slavic origin were to be rounded up and sent either to the Baltic area as soldiers and laborers or to the Ural mines. Restrictive measures were to be instituted to control local Bash­ kir affairs. Districts where disturbances had occurred were not to be governed by their regular elders. Two or three elected officials *7. Ibid., p. 84. 28. Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, pp. 60-63.

K i r i l l o v ’s

p o l ic ie s


were to be held responsible for the good behavior of the people un­ der their jurisdiction. Except for the annual assembly, meetings of Bashkirs were prohibited, unless permission was obtained from a responsible Russian official. At their annual meeting Russian officials were to see to it that the Bashkirs discussed their real needs and problems and did not cany on as they had in the past when they gathered in the morning to write abusive letters calling the town governors and other offi­ cials thieves, despoilers, and destroyers. Then when these “thieves” gave them gifts of cattle and strong drink they got drunk and wrote laudatory letters on the situation in Bashkiria. The meeting usually ended when they dispersed to their homes in the evening, brawling over money and other presents from the officials. Several incidents in which mullahs had used Islam as a rallying point for the anti-Russian Bashkirs led to a proposal for regulating Moslem affairs. Each doroga was to have one representative of the Moslem clergy who would be appointed by the Russian govern­ ment. These representatives were to swear an oath of allegiance to the Empress. Proselyting among non-Moslems was prohibited. Only after the government had authorized it could a mosque or Moslem school be constructed. Relations with the Kazan Tatars, coreligionists of the Bashkirs, were allowable only with the express permission of the governor of Kazan. All inhabitants of the districts which had participated in the dis­ turbances were to be prohibited from carrying arms, except in the farthest frontier areas of the Siberian Doroga. The exception was made because the Bashkirs in that region often had to face Kazakh attacks. A fine of one horse was the penalty for anyone appre­ hended carrying arms in violation of this law. The trade of blacksmithing was forbidden in Bashkiria, and all commerce in metal articles was limited to Russian towns where the military governors could keep watch for violations. Service Meshcheriaks and friendly Bashkirs were exempted from this general prohibition but were not to sell arms to anyone else. The long-standing problem of the non-Bashkir immigrants drew considerable attention. The Bashkirs had generally opposed the flow of migrants from Russia into their country, since they occu­ pied many of the best pasturage areas and farmed them, but be­ cause of their prior occupancy and their military power the Bash­ kirs were gradually transforming many of these refugee Tatars,



Chuvashes, Cheremises (Mari), and others into a peasantry. Some of these aliens supported Russia in the war. Consequently, Kirillov proposed that those who fought the Russians be punished and the loyal ones be given permanent title to the land they had settled on, and that may be absolved of their obligation to pay quitrent (1obrok) to Bashkir landlords. Another major point was also directed at the land problem. Ki­ rillov recommended that the prohibition against the purchase of Bashkir land by outsiders, which dated from 1649, be removed. He thought Russian migration into Bashkiria must be encouraged, because the Bashkir population was growing rapidly and dissident elements from Russia were flooding into the region. He cautioned that great trouble could be expected in the future, “especially in the case of war with their [the Bashkirs’] fellow religionists, the Turks, or if an intelligent outlaw, such as Sten’ka Razin, appears among them.”29 If the government did not act now it would result in the weakening of the Russian position in the area because the local inhabitants would come to look on themselves as an inde­ pendent people. Finally Kirillov added: Orenburg is a necessity for the pacification of Bashkiria be­ cause it is located behind the area of Bashkir habitation; and consequently the Bashkirs, as well as those places belonging to them, will be encircled as with a wall.80 Rumiantsev opposed a hard policy and advocated more moder­ a te methods. As early as the beginning of November he reported that the Bashkirs had been largely suppressed. There was a lull in October, as Tevkelev noted from Siberia. At that time several Bash­ kir leaders approached Tevkelev asking for mercy and permission to go to Rumiantsev to capitulate formally.81 Evidently the Bash­ kirs were feeling the effects of the severe winter no less than Chemodurov’s troops in Orenburg. Rumiantsev considered it unwise to start a severely repressive policy or to punish the hostile groups. In the first place, he wrote, it would be impossible to institute such a policy because he did not have enough troops to carry it out. At the time he had only four dragoon companies, one battalion of the Kazan garrison, and 650 Cossacks. Second, he did not have suffi29. Ibid., p. 62, quoting a document from the T urgai Oblast Archives. 30. Solov’ev, 4 , 1538. 31. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2 , 180-81, 184-85.

Ki r i l l o v ' s

p o l ic ie s


cient provisions; nor was it possible to live off the country. He be­ lieved the cruelty of Kirillov and Tevkelev was driving the Bash­ kirs to desperation. Tatishchev in letters to Rumiantsev supported this view.82 Rumiantsev's opinions were guided less by a desire to be hu­ mane than by a realistic consideration of Russian weakness in the area. Temporarily, gentleness would be required, but ultimately, as he stated the problem in a letter to St. Petersburg: [They are] an obdurate people and it will be impossible to force them to be loyal to the state or into accepting taxes with­ out some disturbance. It will be necessary . . . when it is your Majesty's intention to tighten control-having prepared for the most favorable moment by constructing supply magazines and local forts as places of asylum for the [loyal] people—to arrest their prominent people and to effect this by force of arms.88 Over the signature of Empress Anna, officials in St. Petersburg on October 18,1736, wrote: You are of the opinion that it is better to extinguish the dis­ turbances among these Bashkirs by kind and benevolent means rather than by cruelty and force of arms. And although We Ourselves are of this opinion, and especially because of the most recent events [the difficulties caused by the outbreak of war with Turkey] . . . on the other hand, in consideration of the fact that if those Bashkirs who are causing the uprising, and especially the leaders and authors of i t . . . yield without any punishment, they might commit such acts habitually when they see that they might avoid just vengeance and pun­ ishment.84 As soon as he arrived in Menzelinsk, Rumiantsev sent letters throughout Bashkiria asking the Bashkirs to make peace and assur­ ing them of the mercy of the Empress. Because of the hardships the Bashkirs were suffering, many came to Menzelinsk to make peace, particularly those who had not participated in the struggle against Russia. But the leader of the uprising, Kil'miak, remained 324 32. Solov'ev, 4 , 1535. 33. Ibid. 34. Dobrosmyelov, Materialy, 2 , 106-07.

THE ORENBURG E X PE D m O N , 1 7 3 4 - 3 5


at large. Information that he was planning to take advantage of Rumiantsev’s offer was sent to Tabynsk; but Tevkelev, hearing the news, immediately sent word that he was to be arrested and kept under strict guard if he actually appeared. Although Kil’miak did not go to Tabynsk, the Bashkirs ceased attacking in November and December because of the difficulties of carrying on hostilities during the winter.86 The winter quiet in Bashkiria proved temporary. Akai Kusiumov, the Bashkir elder who had gone to Menzelinsk to affirm his loyalty to the Russians, learned while there that the Russian forces in the area were surprisingly few in number. He wrote letters to leaders in the Siberian Doroga, informing them of the weakness of the garrisons. Again the Bashkirs met to plan war. They inter­ cepted the supply train Tevkelev had dispatched from Techensk and forced it to return to its starting point. The garrison in Verkhneuralsk had run out of supplies. The troops began to eat their horses, eventually including the hides in their diet. On the promise of a safe escort, they left the fort for Techensk; but a few versts out of the fort the escorting Bashkirs attempted to seize the Russians’ arms. The party quickly retreated to a defensible point, but hun­ ger and the overwhelming number of the enemy presented insur­ mountable odds. The entire detachment was annihilated. In northern Bashkiria Tevkelev was in danger. The rebels laid an ambush for his detachment at a narrow defile along the Ai River. The plot was discovered beforehand; but when the inhabit­ ants of the village where Tevkelev’s party was located discovered the ambush had failed, they planned to massacre the troops while they were sleeping. This surprise failed too. Only a few men were wounded before the alarm was sounded and the Russians turned the tables, surrounded the village, and captured all the inhabit­ ants, except for a few who escaped into the woods. Some 1,000 of the villagers, including women and children, were shot or put to the sword by the dragoons, Meshcheriaks, and Bashkirs who served in the Russian forces. Another 500 were driven into a storehouse and burned to death. “And thus," wrote Rychkov, “the entire vil­ lage of Seiantusa and its inhabitants, including women and chil­ dren both small and great, was destroyed in one night by fire and sword, and the settlement was burned to ashes.’’86 35. Ibid., pp. 180-81,184-85. 36. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. so.

Ki r i l l o v ' s

p o l ic ie s


T he next day Tevkelev moved his forces to a Meshcheriak vil­ lage, and after a conference with his subordinates dispatched sev­ eral parties to take revenge. Approximately fifty Bashkir villages were burned, about 2,000 Bashkirs killed, those who remained alive were executed, and the wives and children were distributed to the troops. A scouting party from a Russian group operating near Kubova, approximately 50 versts from Ufa, ran into a large gathering of Bashkirs. The hundred men of the Russian detachment were all killed. At almost the same time one of Tevkelev’s parties met with a band of Bashkirs who were on their way to recover the women and children captured by the Russians. The whole detachment of one company of regulars and a hundred irregulars were killed. Tevkelev immediately dispatched a larger group; but, after a bat­ tle of several hours in which a few Bashkirs were killed, the re­ maining ones retreated into the woods. The Russians were unable to follow because of the heavy snow. Tevkelev himself, leaving his artillery and heavy supplies behind at the Meshcheriak village of Kundeshliak, set out to pursue another group of Bashkirs but re­ turned suddenly on learning the enemy was planning to attack his base. He subsequently ordered out several parties after Rumian­ tsev sent a dragoon regiment to supplement his forces. The Bash­ kirs were forced to retreat into the more inaccessible areas of their territory. Meanwhile, Kirillov and Rumiantsev drew up recommenda­ tions, and Kirillov journeyed to St. Petersburg to present them to the Cabinet. On February 11, 1736, an imperial decree was issued outlining the policies to be followed in Bashkiria. Evidently the harder policies recommended by Kirillov found favor with the Cabinet ministers because the decree reflected his viewpoint more than that of Rumiantsev.87 Kirillov, while still in St. Petersburg, heard of the new disturb­ ances and with this evidence convinced the government officials that a special effort must be made. A supplementary decree of Feb­ ruary 16, directed at the immediate steps to be taken, called on Rumiantsev to assemble all available forces to destroy the enemy.88378 37. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2 , 190-98; PSZ, 9 , 741-45. 38. Ibid., pp. 198-201.


Kirillov's War, 1735-37

The August reorganization of the military structure on the South­ eastern Frontier was intended to bring the independent commands into closer cooperation. Although Rumiantsev, by virtue of his su­ perior rank, signed joint documents first, no single, integrated or­ ganization was established. As the chief of the newly formed Bash­ kir Commission, Rumiantsev located his headquarters in the north at Menzelinsk, the chief fort in the Trans-Kama Line. Tatishchev, the chief of the Ural Industries, was also located in the north, but in the mountains and to the east, at Ekaterinburg, in western Si­ beria. In the south Kirillov, the head of the Orenburg Expedition, planned to operate out of Orenburg but, finding this impractical because of Orenburg's isolation, moved his command several times. The region of the upper Ural River in western Siberia fell to Tevkelev, the second-ranking leader of the Orenburg Expedition. He was temporarily placed under Tatishchev. T


S p r in g


Su m m e r



Because of the difficulties of carrying on during the winter months, this period was spent in planning for the campaign, which was to begin in late March or possibly early April of 1736. By then, it was expected, the Bashkirs and their mounts would be weakened by severe hunger. As soon as the weather permitted operations, Rumiantsev's troops were to be broken up into small units, so that they could surround the Bashkirs from all sides and root out [the dissidents] and bum their villages and build redoubts in the required places and establish magazines in them and in this way make all the dorogas safe; as for the se­ curing of the Russian settlements against attack, to station at



rivers and other necessary places gentry, peasants, and volun­ teers from th e . . . [various] regiments.1 Before the campaign began, letters were to be sent throughout Bashkiria to notify the people of the government’s intentions and to call for capitulation. Because Rumiantsev did not receive orders until early March he did not have time to assemble the forces that had been authorized. Nevertheless, he immediately gathered an army of Russians and lo­ cal natives from Kazan and marched out toward Menzelinsk and beyond. On April 3 he reached the Dema River where nineteen Bashkirs who met him to ask for pardon were placed under guard. As he moved up the Dema River toward its headwaters, the Bash­ kirs fled before him, offering little resistance. About 1,000 Bash­ kirs were killed, 100 villages burned, and much livestock seized. Two of the leading Bashkirs, Akai Kusiumov and Sultan Murat, were captured and sent to Menzelinsk. During April Rumiantsev dispatched several small parties to destroy other villages. Kirillov left St. Petersburg on February 18 for Menzelinsk to meet Rumiantsev and then continued on to Ufa, where he arrived March 11. Six days later Tevkelev arrived, and the two worked out the details for the coming spring and summer campaign. After the conference Tevkelev left for Verkhneuralsk to organize the gov­ ernment’s forces there and to see about pushing through the sup­ ply train to Orenburg. Kirillov, on the twenty-fourth, led the Vologodsk Regiment out of Ufa toward Tabynsk to attack the hos­ tiles. Operating from Tabynsk, Kirillov’s troops in the period of a month burned 200 villages (4,000 households) and a mosque which had served as a meeting place for the dissidents; killed 700 in battle and executed 158; and sent many others to military serv­ ice and labor in the Baltic region. Early in May Kirillov fell ill and had to return to Ufa. There he worked on the other major projects of the Orenburg Expedition. T o get closer to the Bashkir uprising he had temporarily estab­ lished the command’s headquarters at Simbirsk on the Volga. In May he decided to move south to Samara. From that point he planned to improve communications with Orenburg by construct­ ing a fort at the portage between the Samara and Ural rivers. Ru­ miantsev, on the Dema River, had hoped to combine forces with 1. Dobrosmyslov,

M a te r ia ly , 2 ,


k i r u x o v ’s w a r ,


1 7 3 5 -3 7

Kirillov there for a joint campaign in May, but this became impos­ sible when Kirillov fell ill. He left the Dema and traveled to Ufa to meet Kirillov. After conferring about the campaign he returned to Menzelinsk to interrogate Bashkir captives. Five hundred men were subsequently executed, and an equal number of women and children were sent to Russia as serfs. Kil’miak, the leader of the Bashkirs in the Nogai Doroga, was still at large and inciting the Bashkirs to further opposition. Akai Kusiumov and Sultan Murat, the two leaders who had been cap­ tured by Rumiantsev shortly before, suggested that they be sent to persuade Kil'miak to negotiate a peace. After some hesitation and discussion Rumiantsev decided to send a prominent Bashkir cap­ tive in hopes that Kil’miak would be convinced to surrender. Early in May Rumiantsev sent a report of his activities to the Court. Anna Ivanovna replied in a letter dated 23 May that she had received the news “with great pleasure and satisfaction.”2 He was instructed to continue his vigorous policies. Second Major Ostankov, one of Kirillov's subordinates who headed a Cossack detachment operating out of Sakmarsk, in midMay discovered a group of Bashkirs who had left the Dema area because of Rumiantsev. The resulting skirmish ended in the death of 600 men and a large number of women. Proceeding deep into the heart of the Nogai Doroga, he met an enemy force of about 1,000. Two hundred Bashkirs were killed at the cost of only ten Cossacks killed and thirteen wounded. In June Rumiantsev again took the field. The Bashkirs, learning £hat he had a relatively small force, planned to wipe out the whole detachment, including the commander. Kil'miak, at the head of 8,000 Bashkirs, fell on Rumiantsev's camp near Kugush Creek on July 29, killing a hundred and eighty Russians, wounding sixty, and losing only forty killed and three captured. The three captive Bashkirs were promptly hanged. Rumiantsev reported the incident to the Court and requested additional troops.8 Although the February decree had called for the massing of a considerable force to fight the Bashkirs, Rumiantsev had not yet received many troops and could still complain about inadequate forces. Russia had been fighting the Crimean Tatars since 1735 2. PSZ,p, 835. 3. Ibid., p. 888.



and was soon to become involved with the Turks. This tense inter­ national crisis prevented the transfer of regular troops to Bash­ kiria. In addition, the immense expanse of Bashkiria and the great distances over which troops had to be moved made impossible the rapid marshaling of the proposed forces. For this reason the Court sent Rumiantsev supplementary orders, dated August 6, instruct­ ing him to give his troops incentive by permitting them to take booty from the Bashkirs.4 Kirillov received orders to hold the Oren­ burg project in abeyance for a year. W ith the exception of a small force to be left in Orenburg with a year’s supplies, all Kirillov’s forces were to be concentrated on fighting the Bashkirs. The fron­ tier towns and outposts were to be stripped of all who could be spared for use against them. The war against the Crimeans re­ quired many horses, and even in this serious situation Rumiantsev was directed to buy horses from friendly Bashkirs. On August 6 the Empress sent a letter to Donduk Dashi, the Kalmyk leader.® Commending him for loyal service against the Crimeans and Turks in the Kuban area, the Empress requested him to go immediately to Bashkiria. In return for serving there the Kalmyks were offered any booty they could take. Field Marshal B. C. von Miinnich, then fighting the Turks and Crimeans in the south, was ordered to send two dragoon regiments to Bashkiria im­ mediately so that order could be established during the coming winter. The regiments were ordered to travel to Bashkiria on foot. They were to acquire horses by capturing them from the Bash­ kirs.® The sending of troops from von Miinnich's army gives some measure of the concern for the Russian position in Bashkiria. After the big attack on Rumiantsev on June «9, most of the Bashkirs had retreated into inaccessible mountainous areas. Ru­ miantsev dispatched a number of detachments to pursue them but with little success, although a few were captured and executed. In Menzelinsk in the latter part of July he received information that dissidents had attacked neutral Bashkirs, killing fifty. He sent out a party to find the troublemakers, but without success. On August 29 Rumiantsev received a communication, dated July 13, which relieved him of his command and transferred him to von Mün4. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2, 253-55, 255-59. 5. Ibid., pp. 260-61; PSZ, 9, 897-98. 6. Dobroemyslov, Materialy, 2 ,266.


Ki r i l l o v ' s

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nich’s army in the Ukraine. Brigadier and Life-Guard Major Mi­ khail Semenovich Khrushchov became the new head of the Bash­ kir Commission. In May the ailing Kirillov spent his time furthering the original plans of the Orenburg project. Ultimately he intended to take his forces to Orenburg and establish the command's headquarters there, but in the meantime he ordered his father-in-law. Naval Lieutenant Peter Bakhmetev, to lead the troops to Samara. Once the force was settled, Bakhmetev was to build two forts along the Samara River to protect the line of communications with Oren­ burg. After regrouping in Simbirsk, Bakhmetev set out by boat for Samara, which he reached at the beginning of August. Once he ob­ tained the necessary supplies and equipment from the chancery of the Trans-Kama Line, Bakhmetev built two forts, Krasnosamarsk and Krasnoborsk (later Borsk), garrisoned them with small detach­ ments of troops, and awaited the arrival of Kirillov. On June 30, at the head of the Vologodsk companies and a num­ ber of irregulars, Kirillov left Ufa for Orenburg. He arrived in Tabynsk on July 10 where he constructed an earthen fort with five bastions and a church. He conferred with Major Ostankov, who arrived with a detachment of 1,574 Cossacks, reporting a skirmish with the Bashkirs in which he had killed 202, executed several, and burned several villages at a cost of only two dead and several wounded. His party had been short of food and had been forced to subsist on apples and edible plants during the march from Sak,marsk to Tabynsk. Kirillov ordered Ostankov to Orenburg to replace Lieutenant Colonel Chemodurov. On the way Ostankov stopped to build an­ other fort 120 versts from Sakmarsk on the Ural River. He laid the foundations and installed a garrison of Ural Cossacks on July 24. Ostankov also convoyed a supply train from Siberia carrying 1,180 quarters of grain to Orenburg. Kirillov later received word that an additional 300 quarters of grain had arrived safely by boat along the Ural River for the first time. The Orenburg garrison which had been reduced to two companies of regular troops and 100 Cos­ sacks during the hardships of the previous season now had enough supplies to last a full year. On the sixteenth of July Kirillov left Tabynsk for Sakmarsk, not Orenburg, because his plans regarding Orenburg were delayed by the more pressing problem of the Bashkirs. He sent out a punitive



detachment of 300 dragoons and 656 Cossacks against a group of the enemy who were located east of the Belaia River. In the attack fifty Bashkirs were killed, with the loss of but one Cossack killed and five wounded. On August 2 Kirillov sent out another detach­ ment of 736 regular troops and 920 Cossacks under the command of Colonel Postas’ev. In the hills Postas’ev's detachment burned twenty-nine villages, killed a number of Bashkirs, and executed several others without losing a single member of his own force. The majority of the hostile Bashkirs retreated into the interior, where thick forest and mountains prevented further pursuit. Leaving Sakmarsk with 250 Cossacks, Kirillov marched back to­ ward Samara. Along the way he inspected favorable sites for future strong points and stationed small groups of Cossacks at several places. Meeting Bakhmetev at Fort Krasnosamarsk, one of the forts just built by Bakhmetev, he decided to transform it into a real town with a market and a customhouse to handle caravans on their way to and from Orenburg. He intended Krasnosamarsk to serve as the commercial center until Orenburg's position was more se­ cure. Kirillov ordered the work to begin immediately so that the required officials and clerks could be transferred from Samara by the following spring. R

e l a t io n s w i t h


K azakhs

In spite of the pressing requirements of the Bashkir war, Kiril­ lov maintained contact with the Kazakhs. The Little and Middle hordes had, at least nominally, accepted Russian suzerainty. Be­ leaguered on many sides, especially from Jungaria, the Kazakhs had two alternatives, both equally distasteful: alignment with Rus­ sia or Jungaria.7 Weakened internally by a struggle for power among the khans of the three hordes and even among the leading elements of each horde, the Kazakhs were forced to make a deci­ sion. In the 1730s Abulkhair of the Little Horde had turned to Russia, probably because the Russians were more remote and seemed to offer a lesser threat to independence than the Jungars. At the same time Abulkhair expected sufficient support from the Russians to strengthen his own position both within the Little Horde and in relation to the other hordes. Sultan Erali, Abulkhair’s second son, and several other Kazakhs 7. Apollova, Introduction, attributes this statement to M. P. Viatkin.


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who had accompanied the expedition to Orenburg, stayed there as hostages. In August 1735, before he hurried off to fight the Bash­ kirs, Kirillov sent a party of Kazakhs to Khan Abulkhair with gifts from the Empress. Almost a year later, on June 14, 1736, an em­ bassy headed by two envoys from the Khan and Batur Janibek, a tarkhan of the Middle Horde, arrived in Orenburg to discuss ur­ gent problems with Chemodurov. They requested the Russians to send a return mission.8 Chemodurov entrusted the discussions to John Castle, one of those venturesome Englishmen of the time who had accompanied Kirillov as the expedition's artist. During the preceding year in Orenburg, Castle had evidently become ac­ quainted with Abulkhair. Relations with the Kazakhs over that pe­ riod are obscure. Castle claimed to have learned that 40,000 Ka­ zakhs were planning to join the Bashkirs at the instigation of the Ottoman Porte. The envoys requested an immediate embassy be sent to Abulkhair to forestall the move.9 This startling news seems not to have bothered Chemodurov at all, and he was disinclined to send an embassy. The explanation can only be surmised. First, he was busily engaged in building the new town and, with his scanty forces, may not have been able to spare anyone for the mission. Second, he was already under imme­ diate threat of Bashkir attack, which may have made him reluctant to part with any of his troops. The Russian-Turkish War of 173639 makes Castle's statement of the Turkish agitation a possibility, but the available Russian sources do not indicate any such activity *on the part of the Turks in 1735-36. It is possible that Castle had motives of his own for encouraging the organization of the embassy to the Kazakhs. In any case, supported by Sultan Erali, Castle re­ ceived permission from Chemodurov to head a mission to Abul­ khair. Leaving the same day with a German student named Die­ trich Luftus, a Tatar assistant of Tevkelev, and the two Kazakh envoys, Castle traveled into the steppe. Two days later, on June 16, the envoy from Janibek left the party to report to the leaders of the Middle Horde. Castle stayed at Abulkhair's camp from June 19 to 8. John Castle, Journal von der A • /736 aus Orenburg zu dem Abul-Geier Chan der Kirgis-Kaysack Tartarischen Horda . . . dargestellt durch John Castle . . . , published as an appendix to Materialien zu der Russischen Geschichte seit dem Tode Kaisers Peters des Grossen, Zweiter Teil, 1730-41 (Riga, 1784), p. 3. (HereafteT cited as Journal.) 9. Ibid., pp. 3-4.

THE FALL AND WINTER OF 1 7 3 6 - 3 7


July 5. During this time he claimed to have made a great impres­ sion on the Kazakhs and to have advanced the Russian cause con­ siderably. On the return trip he was accompanied by twenty representa­ tives from all three hordes. The very first day he heard a rumor that a group of 2,000 Bashkirs had been sent by Kil’miak to join the Kazakhs. At the source of the Or River he sent a small party on to Orenburg while he set out with the rest of the group for Ufa to meet Kirillov. A number of minor clashes with the Bashkirs oc­ curred as the party approached Bashkir territory. In Sakmarsk on July 17 the Cossack ataman refused to convoy the group because of the danger from the Bashkirs and because Kirillov had not sent in­ structions to do so. Two days later Castle's party reached the fort at the head of the Ik River. From here he communicated with Ki­ rillov, who sent several Bashkirs to accompany him to Ufa. In Tatar dress and on horseback he reached Ufa, 106 versts distant, after a one-day journey, on August 5. Kirillov, according to Castle, was very pleased with the embassy and its results. Whether for reasons of Kirillov's diplomacy or for other causes, the Kazakhs did not take the opportunity presented by the war to interfere in Bash­ kiria. T





in t e r



After his arrival in Samara, Kirillov sent a report to the Cabinet on August 14, containing an evaluation of the situation: I have made every endeavor to root out the Bashkir bandits, and a great number of the renegades have already perished in various places or have saved their lives by flight; and, although during June and July brazen effronteries were committed by them and might still be committed in those places where they find negligence, they have come to the point where this upris­ ing will indeed be the last. Already those in the Siberian Doroga and many in the Nogai Doroga have been brought to complete subjugation and the remaining, if they continue their banditry, will begin to die from hunger and the winter cold: their horses and other livestock in many places have perished and are still dying. This very thing is necessary be­ fore we build towns, not only at the present time but also be­ cause our permanent interests depend on it. For only thus can


Ki r i l l o v ' s

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the glory of Your Majesty's triumphant arms spread through­ out all of Middle Asia. Besides the town in the interior of Bashkiria there will be 45 behind their habitations, extend­ ing from the Volga to Siberia and from Orenburg to the Aral Sea. The three Kazakh hordes are now subject to Russia and have informed us of their desire to show their loyalty by serv­ ing against the Bashkir bandits. Because Your Majesty’s best interest will depend on the fact that these people are always in disagreement, permit them [the Kazakhs] to attack the Bashkirs in the distant Siberian and Nogai dorogas in revenge for former injuries.10 Another communication sent to the Cabinet on September 26, after Rumiantsev's transfer, amplified his previous report. W ith his customary optimism Kirillov reported that the line of fortifica­ tions was proceeding satisfactorily and that if he were not bothered by interference from Ufa he would be able to finish the line by the following summer. Fewer supplies would be needed in the future because the Cossacks manning the line could live off the land—“the soil is black, and forest, meadows, fish and game are adequate.''11 He added that new observations were being taken to compile a more accurate map of the area. Kirillov believed the proposed vast assemblage of forces from near and far to fight the Bashkirs was unnecessary. W ith a force of only a hundred dragoons and several hundred Cossacks he himself had marched through the very heart of Bashkiria without suffer­ ing any reverses. The disasters that had occurred were the result, he stated, of carelessness on the part of the commanders involved. Stripping essential troops from the Tsaritsyn Line and from the Astrakhan garrison would be unwise. The situation in Bashkiria could be handled by the 700 troops of the Vologodsk companies, the 2,000 Ural Cossacks, and the many newly Christianized Kal­ myks who should be enrolled into the Cossack service and permit­ ted to occupy the territory beyond the defensive line like the Rus­ sian Cossacks.12 In Siberia during the summer and fall of 1736 the campaign had been pressed without mercy by Tevkelev and his subordinate. Colonel Martakov. An October 19 report from Tatishchev, who 10. Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, pp. 90-91, quoting from the Turgai Oblast Archive. 11. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2, 268-72. 12. Ibid., pp. 268-72.



directed the Siberian side of the struggle, claimed that more than 5.000 Bashkirs had capitulated and sworn oaths of loyalty; a num­ ber of leaders had been taken; and certain Bashkirs declared they would capture Bepen and Isengulov, the rebel leaders in Siberia, if they did not voluntarily surrender. Some Bashkir elders had asked to be enrolled as Cossacks to take revenge on Middle Horde Kazakhs who had been attacking them. These elders stated that all the Middle Horde was not yet subject to Russia, and groups from this horde had even attacked Russian settlements. A Bashkir who claimed to represent 230 loyal subjects had come to offer horses and arms to the Russians, but this act antagonized the hos­ tile Bashkirs, who considered it treachery and attacked and burned the village of the friendly Bashkirs. Tatishchev also stated that he had collected many horses and approximately 10,000 rubles as fines.13 Conditions in the area directly under Rumiantsev were similar to those in Siberia. In November and December 4,000 Bashkirs came to Menzelinsk to make peace. Several were executed and 150 were held as hostages. The Bashkirs friendly to Russia began to at­ tack the villages of the now demoralized dissidents in retaliation for earlier attacks on them. Many were killed, others were handed over to the Russians for execution, and women and children were distributed according to the wishes of those who captured them. Ap­ proximately 5,000 men were sent to the Baltic regiments and to Rogervik as laborers.14 The situation in the other dorogas and the Kungursk District to the north was not so favorable to the Russians. The Bashkirs at­ tacked and burned Meshcheriak villages and the villages of the other non-Russian peoples who sided with the Russians. Two Stroganov estates were burned. The hostile Bashkirs also attacked and smashed a Russian detachment of 1,500. The Empress wrote sharply to Rumiantsev on September that he and his “corps of 15.000 [sic] persons which had been formed for the protection of the area had not acted with the necessary caution and had suffered destruction.“15 She asked why he was wasting so much time. Ru­ miantsev failed to receive this reprimand because he had already departed for the Ukraine to join von Münnich’s army. On the basis of Kirillov's reports that the uprising could be put 13. Ibid., p. 278. 14. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 28. 15. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2 ,263.


Ki r i l l o v ' s

w ar,

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down soon, the Court sent the new commander of the Bashkir Commission, Brigadier and Life-Guard Major Khrushchov, a com­ munication on October 27 which informed him that the two regu­ lar regiments from von Miinnich’s army would not be sent to Bashkiria and that Buturlin, now the governor of Siberia, had pro­ tested his inability to supply more than 1,000 of the required 2,000 service men.16 The same information was sent to Kirillov in a letter which also told him that St. Petersburg did not agree with his belief that addi­ tional forces were unnecessary to quell the Bashkirs. “It is known to you that during the present Turkish war the army is not without its needs in other places"; but the Cabinet members thought the Bashkir situation so serious that it had to be settled soon. For this reason Kirillov was ordered to meet with Khrushchov immediately and determine the actual military requirements.17 In September, Kirillov left Fort Krasnoborsk for Simbirsk to ar­ range for the transfer of the Orenburg headquarters to Samara. He then traveled quickly to Menzelinsk to meet Khrushchov. Dur­ ing November and December the two drew up another plan for the pacification of Bashkiria, and on December 23 they sent it to St. Petersburg for approval.18 They proposed to divide the Russian forces into five units which could surround and crush the remaining dissidents. Once again April was selected as the best month to begin operations. Tatishchev, who had been successful with a relatively small force, was fo take charge in Siberia. The plan was accepted by the Cabinet on January 10, 1737. Kirillov's reports and the relative quiet dur­ ing the winter had convinced the Cabinet that it would be possible to reduce the size of the forces required for the campaign. Two regiments were sent to the Ukraine instead of to Bashkiria. Tatishchev acquired the 1,000 service men from Siberia, 1,000 service Tatars from Kazan Gubernia, and 1,000 Ural Cossacks for military service and to build new fortified towns. In November Tatishchev had called a conference of his subordi­ nates, Tevkelev, Ivan Savvich Arsen'ev, and Andrei Fedorovich Khrushchov,19 to draw up a plan of action for Siberian Bashkiria. 16. PSZ, 9, 889; Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 2, 27sf. 17. Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, p. 95. 18. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 27. 19. Not to be confused with the Chief of the Bashkir Commission, Mikhail Semenovich Khrushchov.

THE FALL AND WINTER OF 1 7 3 6 - 3 7


The principal problem discussed was how to force the surrender of the enemy leaders. It was decided that another summons must be sent, asking them to come to the nearest administrative centers to submit. Another serious problem was the starvation of the Bash­ kirs. Tatishchev feared that hunger would make them uncontrol­ lable and advised that they be permitted to buy grain in order that they will not again venture out on a course of robbery because of extreme need; for many have stated dur­ ing questioning that last spring they stole most of all because of hunger; and now, it is said, that they are constantly stealing each other's livestock.20 Tevkelev, on the other hand, believed that hunger among the Bashkirs worked to the advantage of the Russians. Permitting them to buy grain would merely strengthen their position. He proposed that only those Bashkirs who capitulated be allowed grain and then but three poods per family, “not sufficient to feed them all winter.” Any who received the first ration would be reg­ istered and subsequently permitted to buy more. Tevkelev's view finally prevailed. In February 1737 Kil’miak, the most prominent leader in the Nogai Doroga, was captured, sent to Ufa, and then to M. S. Khrushchov in Menzelinsk. Of the principal Bashkir leaders only Kusiap Saltangulov, Seit-bai Alkalin, and Sultan Murat Diusheev remained at large in the area west of the Ural Mountains. In Siberia most of the leaders had given up, except for Bepen Trupberdin and Mandar Karabaev. Tatishchev sent an envoy to Be­ pen, who had indicated he was willing to capitulate; but on arrival the envoy was told, “Because they have not released Yusup I will not come to ask forgiveness and swear an oath of allegiance. But if they release Yusup then I will come.”21 On the following day, February 11, Tatishchev sent another en­ voy to Bepen, who was then in the vicinity of the Ai River. The envoy was told, “If he will not come, then tell the elders to seize him in any way possible, secretly, and bring him here, promising them a satisfactory reward.”22 The elders were not persuaded and did nothing. 20. Delà Senate po Orenburgskoi gubernii, kn. 8/139, L. 139, as quoted in N. V. Ustiugov, Bashkirskoe vosstanie 1737-1739 gg- (Moscow and Leningrad, 1950), p. 22. (Hereafter cited as Ustiugov, Vosstanie.) 21. Po Kabinetu, kn. 87/1164, L. 128, as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 25. 22. Ibid., L. 126 ob., as quoted in ibid.

Ki r i l l o v ’s


w ar,

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On the twenty-first of February Khrushchov, who shortly before had been advanced to the rank of Major General and assigned to von Miinnich’s army, left Menzelinsk to report for duty. The ViceGovernor of Astrakhan, Major General Leontii Yakovlevich Soimonov, replaced him. Soimonov did not reach Menzelinsk until April 24; in the meantime Khrushchov’s ranking subordinate, Colonel Bardukevich, directed the operations of the Bashkir Com­ mission. By early 1737 it appeared that the uprising had run its course. Kirillov reported to the Empress on January 26 that with the ex­ ception of those in the most remote areas of the Nogai and Siberian dorogas, “the Bashkir people have been brought to such a condi­ tion that since the beginning of their submission they have never been so obedient, and they have never had such fear of their mis­ deeds as they do now.’’23 Several thousands had been killed or deported. Colonel Bardukevich had informed Kirillov that the Bashkirs who lived along the Ik River were “dying of hunger and the re s t. . . eating dogs and cats . . . and in despair . . . compelled to abandon the dead.” The Russians sent special detachments to bury the corpses.24 The desperate conditions in Bashkiria led even Kirillov to think that measures he had advocated were too severe. Toward the end of March he recommended to the Empress that the horse fines be postponed temporarily. Another ameliorative suggestion was to re­ cruit Bashkirs to help build the copper smelters at Tabynsk and on fhe Ik River. Numbers of starving Bashkirs volunteered for this work. Some thought was given to the idea of abolishing the Bashkir Commission.25 But in spite of the terrible suffering, the Bashkirs had not yet been brought to heel. All winter they prepared for war. K i r il l o v ’s L a s t D a y s

Kirillov, ill from scurvy, had left Menzelinsk late in December of 1736 for Samara, arriving in early January 1737. In that month his whole command arrived from Simbirsk. He planned to move his headquarters early in the spring to Krasnosamarsk, there to stay until Orenburg was ready. Kirillov looked forward to visiting 23. Ibid., LL. 72-72 ob., as quoted in ibid., p. 20. 24. Ibid., LL. 357-57 ob., as quoted in ibid., p. 21. 25. Solov’ev, 4 , 1542.



Orenburg to attend to affairs there and to inspect the progress on the defensive line. During the winter he made further arrange­ ments to ensure that the town would be properly supplied. He let contracts to Cossacks and to several merchants for this purpose. As settlers, Kirillov enrolled many freemen, itinerants, and others who were not registered on the poll tax rolls, gave them loans for provisions, and sent them to man the forts.20 Kirillov continued to work on long-range plans in keeping with his original proposals. He was not to carry them out. He died on April 14, 1737, and was buried in the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker in Samara. He died of “consumption.” During his three years as leader of the Orenburg Expedition, Kirillov, like his famous teacher, Peter the Great, had dreamed on the grand scale, only to be disappointed. Eventually Peter had set­ tled on the conquest of the Kazakhs as the key to Central Asia, but Kirillov had found it impossible to manage the Kazakhs because the Bashkirs stood in his way. W ith the institution of the Bashkir Commission, Kirillov’s expedition had been deflected from its original purposes to the more immediate Bashkir problem. Al­ though Kirillov headed only one of the several commands in the region, he was the most influential maker of policies in Bashkiria. A forthright and direct person, he advocated force in bringing the Bashkirs into subjection as quickly as possible, because his primary concern had been with the development of the mineral resources of the area and with the possibilities of developing trade with Cen­ tral Asia. Peace was essential for economic development. By press­ ing vigorously for the construction of forts within Bashkiria and the defensive line along the Samara and Ural rivers, he laid the foundations for the ultimate incorporation of Bashkiria into the Russian Empire. *6. PSZ, p, 738-39, 888, 894-95, 907-08.


Tatishchev Takes Command, 1737-39

On the death of Kirillov in January 1737 the Cabinet placed the Orenburg project temporarily in the charge of Peter Bakhmetev, Kirillov's father-in-law, who had recently been advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on Kirillov's recommendation. Colo­ nel Tevkelev was at the time still east of the Urals in the Siberian Doroga and not readily available. Immediately on hearing of Ki­ rillov's death, Tevkelev returned to Samara to meet Bakhmetev, and the two then proceeded to Krasnosamarsk, the temporary head­ quarters of the Orenburg Expedition. Major General Leontii Ya­ kovlevich Soimonov, recently the governor of Astrakhan, arrived in Menzelinsk in May to take charge of the Bashkir Commission, since his predecessor, Mikhail Semenovich Khrushchov, with orders to report to the regular army, had departed for the Ukraine in February. Until Soimonov arrived. Colonel Bardukevich, now Ma­ jor General, took over the affairs of the Bashkir Commission. ' In May Her Majesty raised State Councillor Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev to the rank of Privy Councillor and put him in com­ mand of the Orenburg Commission, as the project was now en­ titled. The appointing decree told him to familiarize himself with the instructions previously given to Kirillov, designated him Chief of the Commission, and stated that the aims of the project were to be carried out without delay: to settle the continuing Bash­ kir problem, to construct additional forts in Bashkiria, to search for useful ores, to develop commerce with Khiva, and to subjugate the Kazakhs.1 On May 26, 1737, Tatishchev left Ekaterinburg, his former headquarters as chief of the Ural Mining and Smelting Industries, traveling by sedan chair because of illness. After reaching Chuso1. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 29-30.



vaia Landing he went by boat down the Chusovaia River to the Kama and along the Kama to Menzelinsk where he arrived July 14. There he met Tevkelev, who had been instructed to arrange a gen­ eral meeting to discuss the Bashkir situation.2 Considering the up­ heaval at an end, the members of the conference turned to longerranged policies for administering the region. N


P o l ic ie s

When he first arrived in Menzelinsk to take command of the Russian forces, Tatishchev found the situation very different from the one Kirillov had faced. Prior to the launching of the Oren­ burg Expedition, Bashkiria had been a large frontier area only loosely tied to Russia. The Trans-Kama Line in the north, the Si­ berian towns in the northeast, and the towns along the Volga to the west were sparsely disposed around the northern and western borders of Bashkiria, leaving open to the Bashkirs the heart of the country, with the exception of Ufa, as well as the south and east. The Bashkirs could raid Russian settlements, escape to the inte­ rior, and force the Russians to fight far from their bases. During 1735-36 Kirillov built many new forts and towns, including Oren­ burg and other outposts along the Ural and Samara rivers and in the interior. When the Bashkirs rose again in 1737 they found themselves in a different position, a fact clearly reflected in the de­ cisions of the July conference called by Tatishchev. Whereas the previous measures dealing with the Bashkir prob­ lem had been principally military, the new proposals had two as­ pects. While the military measures followed the practices of the past, most of the discussions were concerned with administrative reorganization now possible as a result of the establishment of the network of forts. Tatishchev and his associates planned closer ad­ ministrative supervision of the colonial area, with the long-term objective of incorporating Bashkiria completely into the Empire. In the Osinsk Doroga the Gaininsk Subdistrict (volost) was or­ ganized, with the town of Osa as its administrative center. The area was headed by a town governor (voevoda) appointed by the Senate. Fort Krasnoufimsk in the Siberian Doroga became a simi­ lar administrative center. Both these towns were subordinated to the authority of Ufa. A new province in Siberian Bashkiria, called 2. PSZ, 10, 168-70.


Isetsk Province (provintsiid), was organized with Fort Chebarkulsk as the center. It included Okunevsk, Shadrinsk, and Isetsk districts (uezds). Both the new Isetsk Province and the older Ufa Province, which had been established in 1708, were subordinated to the jur­ isdiction of Orenburg. Finally the administrative office of Perm Province (later Kungursk Province) was transferred from Soli­ kamsk to Kungur because the latter was more conveniently located to deal with the Bashkirs. Among the major administrative problems was the rational levy­ ing of the tribute. The Bashkirs had been counted and listed by clans. In the course of the preceding century and a half the old clans had become mixed. The confusing situation made a just dis­ tribution of obligations impossible. Complaints by the Bashkirs and the ordinary propensity of bureaucrats to seek order had led Kirillov and Khrushchov in December 1736 to propose an inventory of all the villages in each district: first, the [vil­ lages] of the Bashkirs, then of the Teptiars and Bobyls, and fi­ nally of the service Meshcheriaks, including the rivers, lakes, or plots of land on which they are located, the number of households in each, the number of persons of male and female sex and their ages, separating those who were loyal and did not join the bandits and those who broke the law and con­ fessed their guilt and paid their fines.8 At the same time they decided to “look closely in order to see that феге are no dissidents, either Russian or those of other faiths, and particularly refugees from service and from naval work.” This task had not been completed because of the outbreak of war in 1737. At the meeting in Menzelinsk in July, Tatishchev and Soimonov extended the idea of the census to include a detailed study of the economic resources of the region and the relations of the various peoples in Bashkiria. Tatishchev assigned the economic study to the commanding officers of the Russian forces in Bash­ kiria. The census rolls were to be kept in the local administrative centers and a copy sent to Ufa for supervisory purposes. The task was further delayed by the continuing Bashkir war. These proposals were submitted to St. Petersburg and sanctioned by a decree issued on August 13,1737.34 3. Po Kabinetu, kn. 87/1164, L. 109 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 125. 4. PSZ, 10, 242-45.


C auses



99 N




The general opinion that the Bashkirs had been subdued proved premature. Minor disturbances continued to occur. As early as February 27, 1737, the town governor of Kungur had informed Tatishchev in Ekaterinburg that the Bashkirs in the Osinsk Doroga were holding meetings and appeared to be planning trouble again. Tatishchev did not take the information seriously. He wrote to the Senate: “I do not regard this report as correct because actual details of an uprising are not set forth.''56Before his death, Kirillov had learned that certain Bashkirs in the Osinsk Doroga had refused to pay the fines levied against them and had even driven out the officials who had been sent to make the collections. Kirillov and Tatishchev did not believe that these minor disturb­ ances signified a new outbreak. In one of his communications Ki­ rillov had suggested a reason for the Bashkirs' refusal to pay: “Maybe, because of the present hunger, there is nothing to col­ lect.”®Bardukevich, who was in the area with military forces, had written to Kirillov in March that there was no real evidence of a general revolt. Bashkirs in the Siberian and Nogai dorogas were also restless during the early part of 1737. They wrote to Ufa, pleading to be relieved of their fines and requesting the release of certain leaders who were under arrest in Ufa. Toward spring more and more in­ formation was received concerning meetings of Bashkirs in the Si­ berian and Nogai dorogas being held to plan action against the Russians.7 Circumstances in the Kazan Doroga were different. Menzelinsk was the headquarters of the Bashkir Commission, and the area sur­ rounding it had suffered most severely from Russian punitive ac­ tivity during 1735—36. Kirillov's report of January 16 had stated that the Bashkirs in the Osinsk and Kazan dorogas were completely quelled, small centers of resistance existing only in the Siberian and Nogai dorogas. The destruction of life, homes, villages, and the confiscation of horses and food had in fact left the Bashkirs in the Kazan Doroga suffering so severely that, with the exception of minor incidents, they did not participate in the later war. 5. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 65, quotes Delà Senata po Orenburgskoi gubernii, kn. 8/139, L. 236. 6. Po Kabinetu, kn. 87/1164, L. 311, as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 65. 7. Materialy BASSR, 4, 307-10, 325; Ustiugov, Vosstanie, pp. 65-66.



Despite the severity of Russian measures during 1735-36 and the widespread destruction and hunger that followed, the Bashkirs continued their attempts to throw off the Russian yoke, for the basic causes of Bashkir resentment remained. The growing num ­ bers of refugees from the middle Volga region in Bashkiria were not only inhibiting the free movement of the nomadic Bashkirs and reducing the pasturage for their large herds of livestock, but these immigrants had, in addition, seriously antagonized the Bash­ kirs by their loyalty to the Russians. The tribute collections also continued to provoke discontent among the Bashkirs. The payments were not extortionate, for the sum demanded was less than the poll tax on the Russian peas­ antry; but increasing pressure for funds led the government to at­ tempt to raise the tribute to a point comparable with the poll tax. Inevitably this created problems. First, the Bashkirs protested the increase, and the administration had cause to remember that on earlier occasions, when their protests had been ignored, the Bash­ kirs had risen in revolt. Second, with native affairs left largely to the Bashkir leaders, the Russian government had only a general idea of the actual number of persons subject to the levy since no reasonably thorough census had ever been taken. Third, there was the problem of government tax collectors. Although the Bashkir leaders usually answered for the tribute collections and their de­ livery to the Russian administrative centers, the government had begun to send its own officials to the various areas for additional revenue. These collectors operated virtually without control, fre­ quently abusing their power by illegal and extortionate acts. The Bashkirs protested vigorously and repeatedly, as did the govern­ ment itself, to little effect. Other taxes created additional trouble. The tax on commerce in Bashkiria was peculiarly irrational. The government did not col­ lect the tax on sales at the time of the transaction but, instead, an­ nually sent its representatives to collect the sums due. Besides the natural inclination to underestimate their sales, the Bashkirs dur­ ing the course of the year could honestly forget exactly what they had sold. This gave latitude for both the collector and the taxpayer to cheat the treasury. The right to collect this tax was eagerly sought by ambitious and frequently unscrupulous men planning to make their fortunes quickly. Further opportunity for bribery and corruption resulted from the fact that the right to collect the tax on



commerce was purchased from town governors. The Bashkirs re­ peatedly requested that it be included in the tribute collections.8 Extortion by the local authorities was not limited to the collectors of tribute and the commercial taxes: several important officials were tried and convicted for corruption in office. T he increasing government levies, the abuses by local officials, and the repeated seizures of land were responsible for the continu­ ing unrest. Active opposition broke out when these general dis­ contents were aggravated. In the early 1660s excessive pressure to increase collections had brought about a full-scale war. On the eve of the 1705-11 war the extortions of government officials set off an­ other explosion. Then in the 1730s the Russian government had begun a vigorous new movement into Bashkir territory when it organized and launched the Orenburg Expedition. The Bashkirs realized that the building of a series of forts along their southern border would mean the end of their liberties. From 1734 to 1737 Kirillov had followed a vigorous policy of building new forts and founding mining and smelting establish­ ments in Bashkir territory.9 He repudiated the custom of easy for­ giveness for those who fought against Russia, a policy that had been followed after the other uprisings. He insisted that each in­ dividual participant appear personally to swear an oath of alle­ giance to the government and to pay a fine of one horse. Already suffering from the effects of two years of war, the Bashkirs strongly objected to the seizure of their horses.10 Resentment of Russian hardness played a part in the new outbreak. One Bashkir leader wrote the governor of Ufa in May 1737, recalling the events of the past two years: Rumiantsev cut down all the people of the Kazan Doroga without regard to whether they were well or ill. And Ivan Ki­ rillovich [Kirillov] slashed in the Nogai Doroga without re­ gard to the well or the ill. And the Mirza [Tevkelev] slashed in the Siberian Doroga, considering neither the well nor the ill people.11 8. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, pp. jiff. 9. Materia ly BASSR, 1, 335, for example. 10. Ibid., pp. 309, 325. 11. Delà Senata po Orenburgskoi gubemii, kn. 8/139, L. 596 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 37.



He added that those leaders who went to Ufa after swearing alle­ giance “were hanged and others sent into exile . . . , the young people who paid tribute were cut down“ without so much as questioning.12Tatishchev blamed Kirillov and Khrushchov in a let­ ter to the Empress dated January 22, 1738. In 1736 he had treated those who came to capitulate with kindness and had released them. But when “he listened to others [Kirillov and Khrushchov], seized the leaders and put them under arrest, had executed two, then a new revolt began.“18 Still another catalyst for resistance, a result of the previous two years of struggle, was the widespread hunger in Bashkiria. The punitive groups had not only killed many people, they had also confiscated food and disrupted the economic life of the area, leav­ ing the remaining Bashkirs in desperate straits. Representatives from the Siberian Doroga who came to Ekaterinburg in March 1737 for permission to buy grain reported that the Bashkirs “are eating not only livestock but also the footwear off their feet and many are dying.“14 In their desperation the Bashkirs attacked vil­ lages of “loyal“ Bashkirs, Russians, and Meshcheriaks.15 W ith no possibility of obtaining adequate supplies from the Russians, they had little alternative, at least in their own view. Nevertheless, despite rumors of unrest, until spring Bashkiria gave the appearance of having been subdued. W inter was always a difficult time for the Bashkirs as the lack of fodder killed or weak­ ened their horses, and the preceding two years of war had greatly worsened conditions. Tevkelev, who knew the Bashkirs very well, wrote that the Russians had little to fear during the winter “be­ cause the Bashkirs on foot are worse [fighters] than any other peo­ ple.“18 T


Sum m er





Early in the spring of 1737 “loyal“ Bashkirs and Meshcheriaks began to report on assemblies of dissidents who were planning to repudiate Russian sovereignty and cast out all foreigners.17 To12. Ibid. 13. Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/1167, L. 177 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 37. 14. Po Kabinetu, kn. 106/1183, L. 9»ач quoted in ibid., p. 38. 15. Materialy BASSR, 1, 30g, 310-11, 312. 16. Delà Senata po Orenbuigskoi gubemii, kn. 8/139. L- 157 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 66. 17. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,325.



ward the end of April frontier officials learned that groups of Rus­ sian allies had been attacked. Because the early raids were made on non-Russians, Tatishchev did not believe that a new colonial war was in the making. He thought the disturbances were caused by the antagonisms between the various groups. He sent powder and lead to the friendly Bashkirs and organized a detachment of 300 to aid them. Kusiap Batyr, at the head of 500 hostiles, destroyed Chuvash and T atar settlements on the upper Belaia River and in the vicinity of Tabynsk. By June Tiulkuchura had, according to a report from Fort Eldiatsk, a group of 1,300 and was marching against loyal Bashkirs and Tatars in the north. Other guerrilla detachments be­ gan destroying Bashkir, Chuvash, and Meshcheriak villages in the vicinity of Krasnoufimsk, Kungursk, and Birsk. Reports of loyal Bashkirs, which must be accepted with caution, stated that forces of 4,200, 2,500, 1,300, and 1,000 were in action. In June Fort Bogdanov was beseiged by a force of 2,500 under the command of Bepen, Eldash Mullah, Tiulkuchura, and Mandar. The attackers manufactured portable protective shields in order to approach the walls of the fort. Meshcheriaks and loyal Bashkirs drove them off, but the pursuers lost contact when the guerrillas scattered and vanished into the woods. Although most of the initiative had come from the Siberian Doroga, dissidents in the Nogai Doroga soon joined and began at­ tacking “loyal” Bashkirs, who sought aid at Fort Sakmarsk. During June the hostiles destroyed settlements near Ufa and Tabynsk. One report stated that 10,000 in groups ranging from hundreds to thousands were wandering through Bashkiria looting and destroy­ ing.18 Late in July the Bashkirs in the Osinsk Doroga, who had been quiescent until then, attacked settlements near Osa. A. F. Khrush­ chov, the former assistant to Tatishchev who had replaced him as chief of the Ural Mining and Smelting Industries, reported in Au­ gust that he estimated 32,000 Bashkirs out of a probable popula­ tion of 100,000 were involved in the struggle.19 Although most of the hostile action had been met by the Mesh­ cheriaks, loyal Bashkirs, Tatars, and Teptiars, it became evident the hostile Bashkirs had greater designs in mind. One report stated 18. Ibid., pp. 31off. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, states that the figures were exaggerated by the Bashkirs to frighten their enemies, p. 70. 19. Materialy BASSR, 1, 330.



that they had declared “it is better to separate ourselves from Rus­ sian control and to destroy the Russian people and to communi­ cate with the Kirgiz-kaisaks for this purpose.“20 In August L. Ya. Soimonov, Chief of the Bashkir Commission, moved his forces out of Menzelinsk into the steppeland of the Nogai Doroga, seeking a group of hostiles reported by Ufa to be 10,000 strong. They were aiming to destroy all settlements all the way to Kazan, according to rumors. The figure was far too large as proved when Soimonov’s camp was attacked by only 1,000. The attack was beaten off, but the mixed force of Russians and natives failed to destroy the enemy when they scattered and escaped. During late August, September, and October the hostiles de­ stroyed many villages of those peoples friendly to Russia. T he Rus­ sian forces could do little. Except for the attacks on forts there were no formal pitched battles, just hit-and-run raids of guerrillas. Russian detachments had no alternative but to range throughout the territory hoping to catch parties of the enemy unaware.21 At the approach of winter, as was their custom, the Bashkirs retired into the interior to await spring. Soimonov reported late in No­ vember that, except for the remote areas in Siberia, Bashkiria was quiet. Because the Siberian Bashkirs were still fighting, it was decided to seize and punish the still recalcitrant leaders, principally Bepen Trupberdin. Hunger, winter cold, and Kazakh raids had weakened those Bashkirs who continued to fight, suggesting the possibility of a winter raid in force to finish the task. The difficulties of camЛ paigning in the winter, principally a shortage of forage for the horses, led the Russians to abandon this idea. Intelligently, Tatishchev did not rely totally on force to end the uprising. He sent out a notice telling the Bashkirs they had until the end of January to surrender and swear individual oaths of loy­ alty to the Empress. If they did not seize this opportunity they were threatened with fire and sword; those who complied could re­ turn peacefully home, after paying a fine of one horse per house­ hold. Any person, and up to ten of his closest relatives, would be relieved of fines if they seized and brought one of their leaders to one of the Russian forts. As a concession to the Bashkirs, Tatish­ chev made it mandatory only for the leaders to come to the adminго. Ibid., p. 325. 21. Ibid., pp. 312fr.


IO 5

istrative centers. The others would be permitted to report and pay their fines at the nearest fort or town. He also offered to investigate the administration of S. V. Shemiakin, the governor of Ufa, about whom the Bashkirs had been protesting vigorously. In the meantime, half the Alekseev Regiment was moved to Stavropol, the town built for the Kalmyk Christians at the Kun’ia Voiozhek River. The rest of the regiment was to be transferred from the Trans-Kama Line, now superseded by the new Orenburg Line, and all the land-militia regiments, engineers, and artillery units were to be transferred to the new line.22 T



e l o c a t io n


O renburg

Very soon after assuming command Tatishchev set out for Oren­ burg on a tour of inspection. Upon reaching and inspecting the town he became dissatisfied with its location. Because hardly more than the foundations had been laid, he decided to transfer the administrative offices and the commercial center of Orenburg temporarily to Samara. He informed the Cabinet of his decision, explaining that the location at the confluence of the Or and Ural was not especially favorable and did not justify the difficulties of communication and transportation over such great distances. The locality was also subject to floods. He sent Major Retislavskii to search for a more favorable place and Lieutenant Colonel Bakhmetev to strengthen the original Orenburg's fortifications. On this trip he had also laid the foundations for the fort on the Kun’ia Vo­ iozhek River which he called Stavropol, as an administrative center for a group of Kalmyks who had become Christians. This town later became the headquarters of another commission called the Kalmyk Commission, which was responsible for the Kalmyks, as the Bashkir Commission was for the Bashkirs. Tatishchev headed both. During his continuous travelings he searched for good loca­ tions for new strongholds and inspected the readiness of those forts already in existence: Tevkelev Ford, Perevolok, Tatishchev Land­ ing, Chemorechensk, and Berdsk. On his next inspection trip to Orenburg the following year he reached Krasnaia Gora, a site discovered and recommended by Bakhmetev for the new town. After looking over the site, he or­ dered the English sea captain, John Elton, to start construction of *2. Ibid., p. 362;

PSZ, 10, 411-16.


io 6

the new center to be called Orenburg. The army engineer. Major Retislavskii, was left behind to draw up a plan while the rest of the party set out for Ozemaia. After stationing an additional 100 dra­ goons and loo Cossacks there, Tatishchev marched on toward Or­ enburg. Although he had decided on his first visit to find a better loca­ tion, he devoted some time to improving conditions in the original town. He appointed Ivan Rychkov, father of the historian of Oren­ burg, to administer the market section and to draw up a commer­ cial code and book of tariff regulations; but Rychkov died before completing the work. Next Tatishchev inspected the fortifications, about which he wrote: I found this fort in a terrible condition when I arrived: it was overgrown with brushwood, the moat was [only] one and a half sazhens wide [approximately ten and a half feet] and for a distance of 50 arshins [approximately 108 feet] there was no moat at all. During the winter wolves have eaten horses in the town.28 T


D ecem ber C onference



Negotiations with the Bashkirs during the winter of 1737-38 proving inconclusive, Tatishchev decided to try a tactic which had been considered on previous occasions and often requested by the Bashkirs, the release of the leaders held under arrest by the Rus­ sians in hope that they could persuade their followers to capitulate. ^This tactic had no results.2324 At the same time Bashkir leaders ap­ proached the Russians with their conditions for peace. After dis­ cussing the matter with his subordinates, Tatishchev decided to hold another conference “for decisions and general determination on the suppression of the Bashkir rebellion and for taking future precautions against disturbances and attacks on the loyal subjects of Her Majesty.“25 The meeting took place in December. W ith the backing of the officials in St. Petersburg, he set about effecting the measures that had been proposed. He drew up a list of the most se­ rious Bashkir complaints against the Russian administration and 23. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 40-41 and £n. 1; Solov’ev, 4 , 1550. 24. Materialy BASSR, 1, 360-61, 365. 25. Delà Senata po Orenburgskoi gubemii, kn. 3/134, L. 823, as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 87. See also, PSZ, 10,411-16.



offered concessions.26 He promised to correct the abuses and corrup­ tion among government officials, particularly Shemiakin, the gov­ ernor of Ufa, and those collectors of customs who were known to have extorted money and goods from the Bashkirs. For the future, Tatishchev promised these officials would be more carefully super­ vised by the Treasury Department. As for the tribute collections, a number of concessions and coun­ ter proposals were advanced. Because of the hardships brought on by the war, tribute was not to be collected that year. In the future the Bashkir elders would be solely responsible for the collection and delivery of tribute to the administrative centers, but if it were not promptly delivered the Russian officials would be ordered to collect it. In that case the delinquent districts would have to pay an additional sum to be calculated at two rubles per verst of trans­ port and three rubles per day for each soldier on collection duty. Because of complaints from the Bashkirs about the difficulties of transporting their tribute over great distances to the adminis­ trative centers, the Russians proposed to build post roads with sta­ tions every 18 to 25 versts. To use these facilities the Bashkirs would be required to pay a nominal sum. Tatishchev remained firm on the question of the horse fines. He insisted that all who had fought the Russians contribute one horse per household. Hardship cases could postpone paying the fine if the elders guaranteed later payment. As soon as peace was restored the Bashkirs would be permitted to travel to the Ural River area to obtain salt if they first obtained a permit in Orenburg or some other town along the river. To pro­ tect its salt monopoly the government forbade them to sell their salt in Russian villages under the threat of a fine. The Bashkirs had requested a court in Ufa to which they could turn. In reply, Tatishchev said that Ufa was too distant from many areas and that to have all cases concentrated in one town would be too heavy a load for one court to handle. He promised to establish courts throughout Bashkiria. The court in Ufa would become a court of appeal. Tatishchev agreed not to hold the Bashkirs responsible for paying the fines and other obligations of the non-Bashkir inhabitants on condition that the Bashkirs reject any more immigrants. This long26.

M a te r ia ly B A S S R , i ,




standing problem had been of greater importance during the sev­ enteenth century and the first quarter of the eighteenth, when the Tatars and Finnish migrants from the middle Volga region had joined in the anti-Russian uprisings. Russian peasants and soldiers who had fled into Bashkiria to avoid their obligations were, how­ ever, to be counted in assessing the fines. Although the struggle in the 1730s was largely a Bashkir affair, with little help from the im­ migrants, Tatishchev did not want Bashkiria to remain a haven of refuge for runaways. A number of articles dealt with the non-Bashkir peoples who had supported the Russian government: the Mescheriaks, Teptiars, and Bobyls. Those settlers who worked Bashkir land, either with or without contracts, were to be absolved of the obligation to pay tribute to their Bashkir overlords until they had recovered from the destruction suffered during the struggle, and henceforth all were to be granted contracts which specifically stated their ob­ ligations. Tatishchev, carrying out the policy laid down earlier by Kirillov, insisted that the Meshcheriaks be granted title to the land they occupied as a reward for their loyalty to the regime. He also advocated that they be permanently relieved of their quitrent pay­ ments, but they were not to seize additional land. In order to pre­ vent disputes in the future, Meshcheriaks and Bashkirs were to draw up written deeds on the boundaries of the expropriated land. Problems concerning land taken by the Russians for the build­ ing of forts were to be put aside until peace had been established. xThe burden of tribute from these lands was to be borne propor­ tionately by the inhabitants of the surrounding area. In the future, if any forts were found to be unnecessary, the property would be handed back to the original owners. This point had been inserted in response to protests that it was doubly reprehensible to seize land and then demand tribute payments on it. Tatishchev also noted that the Russian administration was flooded with Bashkir complaints against other Bashkirs on land boundaries. To prevent such confusion, he ordered all future deeds to be drawn up, witnessed, and properly registered with the Russian administration. Tatishchev’s document concluded with a threat to use force of arms if the Bashkirs did not accept these “reasonable conditions.“ The two sides were too far apart. Nothing short of Russian evac­ uation of Bashkiria would have satisfied the dissidents. The Rus-



sians had no intention of giving up a potentially profitable colony. W hat appeared reasonable terms to the Russians were either petty concessions or no concessions at all to the Bashkirs. Colonial wars are inevitably difficult to settle. The Siberian Bashkirs gave their answer in the spring of 1738 by launching an all-out attack on the Russians and their allies in Bashkiria. Tatishchev and his associ­ ates continued without much success—other than military—to seek solutions to Bashkiria’s complex problems. Leaving Samara late in December, Tatishchev went to Ufa to be closer to the heart of the disturbed area. As he had promised the Bashkirs, he investigated the Ufa administration, finding it so bad that he dismissed Governor Shemiakin from his post, arrested him, and appointed Martakov, a colonel in the army, as governor in his place. Tatishchev remained in Ufa during January and February to direct the campaign. His actions bore some fruit, since some Bashkirs began to come to him with their complaints; but not the leaders, who sent him a letter demanding the release of Kil’miak, Yusup, and Akai. At a large conference of Bashkirs called to dis­ cuss the December terms, the majority had been inclined to capitu­ late, but Bepen Trupberdin of the Siberian Doroga and Sultan Araslanbekov of the Nogai Doroga had persuaded them to con­ tinue the struggle. T o ensure the security of the leaders already held captive, Tatishchev sent them to Kazan, and later they were taken on to St. Petersburg.27 T


K azakhs I n t e r fe r e


B a s h k ir ia

A new phase in the war developed when the Kazakhs, led by Abulkhair, were brought into the struggle. The continuing obsti­ nacy of the Bashkirs was in part the result of Tatishchev's decision, taken late in the fall of 1737, to call on the Kazakhs for assistance against the Bashkirs. It is difficult to understand why he did this, for the general policy had been to keep the Kazakhs out of Bash­ kiria. In spite of the oath of allegiance they had taken, the Kazakhs were not under Russian control. Tatishchev’s decision is probably a measure of his frustration and impatience. By fall the majority of the Bashkirs were ready to give up a futile struggle, but Bepen and a few other hard-core leaders kept them fighting.28 Negotiation had failed to persuade the leaders. They had escaped the Russian 27. Ibid., pp. 355-56; Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 38-33; PSZ, 1 0 ,16&-70. 28. Materialy BASSR, 1, 308-10, 342, 345-46, 355-ß6-



military forces. Perhaps the Kazakhs could succeed where the Rus­ sians had failed. Ironically the ultimate result was to strengthen the will to resist among the Bashkir leaders. Militarily, the Kazakhs were of little help to the Russians. At Tatishchev's summons a party of approximately 1,000 Kazakhs of the Middle Horde under Prince Shemamet (Shah Mehmed) moved into Siberian Bashkiria. Shemamet unwisely divided his forces and suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Bashkirs.29 By call­ ing on Abulkhair for assistance, Tatishchev complicated rather than solved his problem in Bashkiria. When the Bashkirs sought Abulkhair's assistance in the spring, Kazakh interference in Bash­ kiria became possible but not likely. But when Tatishchev re­ quested Abulkhair's participation, Pandora's box was opened. In the preliminary negotiations Abulkhair showed interest but de­ manded payment for each Bashkir leader captured. Tatishchev sent Major G. L. Ostankov to negotiate with him in September 1737, giving him authority to promise payments of 60 to 100 rubles for each prominent person delivered. He reported to St. Peters­ burg that “the cost will be less than fighting and indeed it is nec­ essary to stop the war as soon as possible."80 Early in November Abulkhair moved into the Siberian Doroga of Bashkiria with a small retinue of followers, variously estimated at from twenty to sixty persons, and there he remained throughout the winter of 1737-38.81 At first he held to his agreement with the Russians. According to a report, he had sent a detachment of 1,000 ^Kazakhs to fight the Bashkirs. Even as late as February it was re­ ported that Abulkhair was now “turning the rebellious Bashkirs onto the true path of their former subjection to Her Imperial Majesty."82 Unfortunately for the Russians, while in Bashkiria the Khan met Bepen Trupberdin, who gradually drew the Kazakh leader over to the Bashkir side. Abulkhair's change in attitude became evident in February when at a meeting between the Khan and Arslan Bekhmetev, an interpreter attached to the Bashkir Commission, Abulkhair re-89 89. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 80, quoting Po Kabinetu, kn. 87/1164, LL. 984 ob.985. See also Materially BASSR, 1, 34öS. 30. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,360, 344. 31. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 38; Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 94; Materialy BASSR, 1, 340-41, 360, 365. 32. Materialy BASSR, i , 360.



quested that Tatishchev “not demand the horse fines from the re­ bellious Bashkirs and also free those Bashkirs, Kil'miak and his as­ sociates, who were being held under arrest.“83 This request reflected the continuing demands of the hostile Bashkirs. Bepen and several other leaders present at the meeting between Abulkhair and Bekhmetev denied the right of the Russian administration to levy the horse fines, claiming this issue was the principal obstacle to peace. Bepen said that if the horse fines are demanded from them for their guilt, then they will not submit to Her Imperial Majesty with a confes­ sion of wrongdoing, because they do not recognize any such guilt; and in the decrees and in other letters they are called bandits and they do not know the reason for this.84 Once again the Bashkirs insisted on their right to reject Russian suzerainty and even considered transferring allegiance to a Kazakh khan. Because the political concepts of the Bashkirs and Kazakhs were similar, and because Abulkhair had sworn allegiance to Rus­ sia on terms virtually identical with those of the Bashkirs, he ac­ cepted the Bashkir point of view. In March the Sakmarsk Cossack, Kubek Bainazarov, who visited Abulkhair on the order of Tatishchev, reported that the Khan had fallen completely under the influence of the Bashkir elders. Many pressures had been brought to bear upon the Kazakh leader, whose allegiance to Russia had been at best lukewarm, as was indicated when he entered Bashkiria with only a small retinue instead of a large army. Because of his small suite, Abulkhair depended on the goodwill of the Bashkirs for food and other provisions. To make the relationship closer, the Bashkirs persuaded Abulkhair to marry a Bashkir woman. Finally, because Abulkhair was illiterate, all cor­ respondence between him and the Russians had to go through the hands of the Bashkirs, who interpreted it as they wished. On receiving the bad news of the Khan's defection, Tatishchev sent word to Abulkhair, asking him to come to Orenburg. In a report to the Empress in March 1738 he wrote that Abulkhair's actions were due “not so much to cunning as to stupidity.“85 T a­ tishchev had now discovered that bringing Abulkhair into the dis-345 33. Ibid. 34. Ibid., pp. 360-61. 35. Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/1167, L. 225 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 97.



pute in Bashkiria had not been a success; he was to regret his im­ pulsive invitation to the Kazakhs. The Bashkirs turned more and more to the Kazakhs for help. Many of them fled to the south to join the Kazakhs in the steppe. The leaders in both the Nogai and Siberian dorogas sent envoys to the Little and Middle hordes, requesting military assistance and offering allegiance to the Kazakhs.86 Because of Abulkhair's equiv­ ocal attitude, the Little Horde did not help appreciably, but the Middle Horde proved more willing. Khan Barak of this horde even sent his twelve-year-old son, Shigai, to Bashkiria as a candidate for the khanship of Bashkiria. Abulkhair met the boy during the winter of his stay among the Bashkirs, but persuaded him to leave for reasons that will be made clear below. In February, despite the fact that peace negotiations were con­ tinuing, Tatishchev began to receive messages from outlying forts and from spies indicating that the Bashkirs had not stopped fight­ ing. Most of the reports dealt with attacks on the villages of loyal Bashkirs and Meshcheriaks, but by April it was evident that the Russians would be attacked also. Because the early spring attacks were not directed at the Russians, Tatishchev still had hopes of peace. Soimonov took a less optimistic position. He believed that extermination of the rebels was the only solution, and on April 5 he informed the Senate: As soon as the grass appears I will march out against them from Ufa and Tabynsk with all my command, and I will pro­ pose to Colonel Arsen'ev that he campaign from Siberia and Privy Councillor Tatishchev move out from the Yaik [Ural] with his command.37 In April and May the Bashkirs once again seized control of most of the Nogai and Siberian dorogas.38 The outbreak caused Tatishchev to waver; he even considered reducing the horse fines. In a letter to the Empress dated May 9 he expressed this possibility but added that he was inclined to think force would probably be the more ef­ fective policy. At this moment Abulkhair complicated matters further. Asso­ ciating himself with the Bashkir cause, he took an aggressive atti­ se. Materialy BASSR, 1, 309, 321-83, 339, 341, 343, 345, 357. 37. Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/1167, L. 502, as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 104. 38. Materialy BASSR, 1, 370-72.


“ 3

tude toward those who aligned themselves with the Russians. At the same time trying to maintain the fiction that he was supporting the Russians, he moved south toward Orenburg in company with a number of leading Bashkirs.39 Ostankov, the commandant at Oren­ burg, fearing this threatening move, met the Khan and criticized him for supporting the enemies of Russia. Abulkhair, according to Ostankov’s report, drew his sword and said: “This is my town and it was built for me. I will cut off the head of anyone who does not obey т е .“40 In spite of his sympathy for the Bashkirs, Abulkhair hesitated to turn completely against the Russians. He did not bring in Kazakh troops, an action which would have meant war with the Russians. A letter from Bepen to Abulkhair, which fell into the hands of Tatishchev, gives evidence of his hesitation. Bepen asked for fur­ ther aid from the Khan but evidently did not have much assurance of success, for he added, after addressing Abulkhair as “Our Tsar”: “but if you will not support us then you cannot depend on us.“41 Nevertheless, Abulkhair did consider outright support of the Bash­ kirs, who saw in him their best hope of casting off Russian suze­ rainty. He promised to send envoys to Kazakhstan to fetch his son Hadji Akhmet to be khan of the Bashkirs. Kusiap Saltangulov, the principal Bashkir leader in the Nogai Doroga, conferred with Abulkhair near Orenburg in April, expecting to head the em­ bassy to Kazakhstan to get Hadji Akhmet. In Orenburg Ostankov learned of these plans and sent an invitation to Abulkhair to visit the town to celebrate a Russian holiday. W ith the aid of a Moslem priest who was the interpreter for Abulkhair's son Sultan Erali, the one who was then a hostage in Orenburg, Ostankov succeeded in getting the Khan to come into the town with twenty of his fol­ lowers, as well as with Kusiap Saltangulov. As soon as the party entered the town, Kusiap was placed under arrest. Questioning revealed that Abulkhair had advised the Bashkirs earlier to send Shigai, the son of Khan Barak of the Middle Horde, back home by promising to send his own son to be their khan. There seems to have been some conflict between various Bashkir groups on the question of selecting a khan. Major Prince Putiatin learned from 39. Ibid., I , 368-69; Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 106, quoting Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/ 1167, L. 533. 40. Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/1167, L. 523, as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 105. 41. Ibid., L. 555, as quoted in ibid., p. 106.



other captives in March that some of the Bashkirs had given up hope of support from the vacillating Abulkhair and had requested Khan Barak to send his son, Shigai, back to them.4243 Russian forces in the region were hard pressed to handle the Bashkirs alone. If the rebels acquired strong allies it might prove disastrous for the Russians. Tatishchev, aware of the seriousness of the situation should Abulkhair decide to support the Bashkirs wholeheartedly, treated the Khan with delicacy. He withdrew his demand that the Bashkir leaders in the Khan’s party appear per­ sonally in the Russian administrative centers to swear loyalty to the regime, permitting them to remain with Abulkhair. Neverthe­ less, he decided to take a detachment of Cossacks to Orenburg. When Abulkhair learned of the approach of the Cossacks, he proposed to his supporters that the Kazakhs join the Bashkirs to fight the Russians. He was strongly opposed by Batur Janibek of the Middle Horde and other influential Kazakhs who threatened to turn against him. Afterward, during his conferences with Abul­ khair in the summer, Tatishchev learned of the divisions among the Kazakh leaders and wrote that the Kazakhs paid little attention to their khans and that Janibek of the Middle Horde, Bukenbai Batur of the Little Horde, and others had great power. He added that “from these [latter] we might hope for more than from the khans and sultans.”48 The reluctance of these Kazakh leaders to antagonize Russia is understandable if the original reason for the rapproachement of xthe Kazakhs and Russia is recalled, the thrust from Jungaria. In 1738 Galdan-Chirin was again pressing the Kazakhs from the east. In Orenburg Ostankov learned that envoys from the Jungarian leader had visited the Kazakhs and demanded the return [of property seized in raids] and this same Galdan-Chirin had destroyed the Great Kirgiz-kaisak Horde [Great Horde] near Tashkent and had driven those who now are coming toward Orenburg from Tashkent.44 The Kazakhs could not afford to involve themselves with Bashkir problems in the face of this greater danger from the east. By June 42. Materialy BASSR, 1, 370. 43. Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/1167, LL. 696 00.-697, as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 109. 44. Ibid., L. 562 ob., as quoted in ibid., p. 110.



Abulkhair had broken with the Bashkirs and quietly awaited Tatishchev’s arrival in Orenburg. In mid-March Tatishchev returned to Samara and then made plans to go to Orenburg to inspect and take care of such matters as the strengthening of the Orenburg Line and the removal of Abulkhair from Bashkiria. He found out along the way that not only were the Kazakhs interfering in Bashkiria, they were also war­ ring with the Kalmyks.48 For a short period Tatishchev was laid low by illness but after his recovery set about vigorously carrying out his plans. In spite of the lack of funds in the Orenburg Commis­ sion and confusion in the administrative force of his command, Tatishchev moved into camp across the Samara River around June 2. Not waiting for the supplies being sent from Nizhny Nov­ gorod and Moscow, he set out for Orenburg. While on the move he received the friendly Bashkir, Taimas Tarkhan Shaimov, and the Ural Cossack who had been sent to the Kazakhs to call Abul­ khair and his people to an assembly in Orenburg. The envoys in­ formed Tatishchev that Abulkhair was disturbed because he had heard Tatishchev was coming to Orenburg with a large army, in­ cluding 6,000 Kalmyks. Taimas had tried to persuade the Khan that he could rely on the mercy of Her Majesty, but Abulkhair was not convinced. He had sent an envoy with Taimas* party to sound out Tatishchev*s intentions and to find out how many Kalmyks actually were with the Russians. The rumor was exaggerated, there being only 200 Kalmyks. Tatishchev entered Orenburg around the middle of the month, marching in ceremoniously while a cannon­ ade sounded to welcome him. Taimas was immediately dispatched to Abulkhair to ask him to hasten his arrival. On the sixteenth and again on the eighteenth Tatishchev held a public conference with Erali Sultan, the son of Abulkhair, still a hostage in Orenburg. He presented him with gifts and on the nine­ teenth again sent Taimas to the Khan to convince him of the good intentions of the Russians. Abulkhair and his followers approached the city and camped nearby on the thirty-first of July. Still the Khan hesitated to enter the town, knowing that he had compro­ mised himself during his recent dealings with the Bashkirs. Fi­ nally, after a land surveyor named Norov arrived with gifts and another invitation to council, Abulkhair agreed to a meeting of45 45. PSZ, 10,614-18.



two small parties at some distance from the town. Tevkelev led a few men to the meeting place. Still unconvinced, the Khan asked for another such meeting with Tatishchev. Tevkelev refused and after some persuasion was able to convince the Khan that he had nothing to fear in Orenburg. The arrival of the Khan and his party was the occasion for an honor guard, music, artillery salute, and a full-dress parade of the Russian forces. Abulkhair was met by Tatishchev and his subordi­ nate officers in full dress. When Tatishchev and the Khan met, Abulkhair made a speech in the Tatar language which Tatishchev answered in Russian. After the formalities the two sat at a table, while the Khan reaffirmed his oath of allegiance to the Russian sovereign. Then the Khan was led to another room to meet his son Erali. At dinner Tatishchev and the Khan conversed at great length. Tatishchev used his most flattering manner, telling the Khan that he was much wiser than his councillors. Toasts were drunk in honor of the Empress, her family, Abulkhair and his fam­ ily, and many other persons. Abulkhair’s son Nurali, who had not arrived with the Khan’s party because of sickness, appeared on Au­ gust 4. The oath of allegiance was administered to him after an­ other ceremonious reception. Both parties agreed to exchange Erali for a third son, Sultan Hadji Akhmet, who would remain hostage in Orenburg. Several other conferences, both public and private, were held in which commercial relations and Kazakh pro­ tection for caravans traveling to Central Asia were discussed. On August 28 the Russians distributed gifts valued at 2,000 rubles to the leading Kazakhs. On the following day Tatishchev himself vis­ ited Abulkhair’s camp, where he was received with elaborate cere­ mony.46 T


Su m m e r


F a l l C a m p a ig n



While dealing with this problem Tatishchev continued to press the campaign against the Bashkirs. He sent one company of regu­ lars and 600 Cossacks under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Pal’chikov into the Nogai and Siberian dorogas. He ordered Cap­ tain John Elton to survey the upper Ural to determine the possi­ bilities of river travel. At the same time Tevkelev in the Siberian Doroga was building Fort Uklykaragaist, Fort Etkul’sk, and im46. The preceding narrative is based on Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 34-39.



proving Verkhneuralsk Landing. Near the end of August Tatishchev started back to Samara, stopping on the way to inspect Guberlinsk. He then sent a report of his activities to the Cabinet.47 In the north during the summer Soimonov had moved out against the rebels with great vigor. Leaving Menzelinsk on May 10, he reached Tabynsk on June 19. Seit-bai and Rysai-bai, leaders in the Nogai Doroga, fearing their cause was lost, considered capit­ ulation. First, they sent their sons and relatives to Tabynsk with a plea for mercy to find out if they would be held under arrest. Soi­ monov sent these representatives back with a demand that the lead­ ers appear personally. Still doubting the wisdom of going to T a­ bynsk, Seit-bai and Rysai-bai sent an envoy with a suggestion that Soimonov send representatives to meet them 10 versts from T a­ bynsk. This request was denied. Realizing that further opposition was useless, the two leaders finally appeared in Tabynsk before Soimonov. Here they were told they deserved no mercy but that the Empress had a “motherly interest” in her subjects. They were released and permitted to return to their homes after they had paid their fines. The motives for this act of mercy are clear. These were the first two important Bashkir leaders to submit voluntarily. Kind treatment of them would make a strong impression on those who were still holding out; they might surrender more readily. This was highly desirable, for the Turkish war was still going on and a rapid end to the Bashkir war would permit the transfer of troops from Bashkiria to the southern armies. Russian generosity had the hoped-for effect. Many Bashkirs surrendered. Although the strug­ gle appeared to be coming to an end, Soimonov believed energetic action was still necessary, and he sent out punitive detachments to pursue the remaining dissidents. One party of 3,000 men under the command of Major Liutin marched into the Ai River area, the heart of Bashkir resistance, to exterminate those who still refused to submit. Early in June, Colonel Arsen'ev, now the commander of the Russian forces in Trans-Uralia, had sent out a party of 2,500 men against a Bashkir force of 2,000. The battle proved indecisive when the Bashkirs retreated into an inaccessible area in the moun­ tains. The Bashkirs now were being pressed from the southwest by Soimonov and from the east by Arsen'ev. On June 28, Tatishchev, then traveling toward Orenburg, re47. PSZ, 10, 614-18; Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 41.



ported from Sakmarsk that the situation looked favorable for the Russians. Many of the leaders in the Siberian Doroga had begun to negotiate for peace.48 Soimonov wrote Tatishchev on August 17 that Seit-bai, Rysai-bai, Eldash Mullah, Mandar, and Tiulkuchura had submitted voluntarily. Kusiap still refused to swear the oath of loyalty but was held under arrest in Orenburg. Bepen alone of the prominent leaders held out. When the others in the Siberian Doroga capitulated he made another effort to gain Kazakh aid. His son Baiazit set out on a mission to Khan Barak of the Middle Horde for this purpose. Along the way he came into the camp of Batur Janibek, one of the strong advocates of the Rus­ sian alignment in the Middle Horde. Having discovered the rea­ son for Baiazit’s embassy, Janibek said: “It is evident from all this that you are rebels: having seen that we have already sworn loyalty to Her Imperial Majesty, you want to make us the very same kind of brigands that you are yourselves.”49 He seized Baiazit and sent word to Tatishchev, requesting instruc­ tions. Tatishchev asked that Baiazit be sent to him. Subsequently, Baiazit escaped, and when he returned with news of failure, Bepen had little recourse except to submit. Whether he did this volun­ tarily is not known. Some evidence indicates the other Bashkir leaders, apparently tired of war, may have turned him over to the Russians in October. By fall the most prominent leaders of the opposition to Russia had capitulated or had been captured, but a few intransigents still carried on the struggle. л Although Tatishchev recognized that the severity of the meas­ ures in 1735-36 had driven the Bashkirs to continue the struggle in 1737, he still thought execution of the leaders a necessary pol­ icy. Therefore, as an example, when Bepen Trupberdin fell into his hands he ordered him executed in the most excruciatingly painful manner—by breaking on the wheel. The Bashkir leaders, scurrilously treated by the Russians as obstinate rebels and law­ breakers, occasionally emerge from their shadowy existence in the documents as desperate men fighting to the death to keep their traditional lands and preserve their traditional way of life. Back in Samara Tatishchev made preparations for another cam48. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, pp. иг-14, quoting Po Kabinetu, kn. 90/1167, L. 61г. 49. Ibid., pp. 114-15, quoting ibid., LL. 754 00.-755 ob.



paign in the following summer. Reporting to the Empress in Feb­ ruary 1739 he wrote: The most dangerous dorogas, the Kazan and Nogai, are so wasted that scarcely half [the population] remains. The others, the Ufinsk [Osinsk] and Siberian dorogas, have not lost as many people. However, in all [the dorogas] horses and live­ stock losses are high, villages have been burned out and many have died of hunger.60 He constantly pressed for the construction of additional forts. Thirty versts from Orenburg he founded Fort Guberlinsk and sta­ tioned a regular detachment of Ural Cossacks there. Back in Sakmarsk he held another staff meeting with his officers to discuss the relocation of Orenburg. While he was there Norov, the surveyor and envoy to the Kazakhs, arrived with word from sul­ tans Ablai and Abul-mamet of the Middle Horde that they would be unable to meet Tatishchev that summer because they were at that time on the Irtysh River too far from Orenburg. They af­ firmed their loyalty to the Empress, however, and promised to at­ tend a conference the following year. Tatishchev left Sakmarsk on September 9, 1738, and traveled on toward Samara, inspecting the new fortresses along the way. At the Elshan River he ordered the building of another fortified point to be called Elshansk. On the nineteenth he arrived at Alekseevsk, 25 versts from Samara, and, bypassing Samara, proceeded to the site of Stavropol. There he inspected the fortifications and ap­ pointed Lieutenant Colonel Zmeev to administer Kalmyk affairs. Completing his journey on the Volga in light boats, Tatishchev arrived in Samara in late September, where he settled down for the winter to organize future projects. T



is m is s a l o f


a t is h c h e v

In early January 1739 Tatishchev received an imperial request to come to the Court to report his accomplishments. He left with dispatch, handing over the direction of his command to Lieuten­ ant Colonel Peter Dmitrievich Aksakov, Lieutenant Prince Belosel'skii, and Major Ostankov. At the Court he reported on the50 50. Po Kabinetu, kn. 106/1183, L. 84 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, p. 124.



developments within his area of jurisdiction: the transfer of Oren­ burg to a new site; the extension of the defensive line up the Ural to Verkhneuralsk and from there along the Ui River to Tsarev, and from Orenburg in the other direction along the Samara River; stationing of garrisons and the establishment of land-militia regi­ ments in the region; the development of commerce with the Ka­ zakhs and with Central Asia; the actual subjugation of the Kazakhs to Russian control; and the final pacification of the Bashkirs,51 In addition Tatishchev presented a proposal that had occupied his mind for several years: a method of organizing the Bashkirs along the lines of the Cossacks in order to divert Bashkir military energy into channels more useful from the point of view of the Russian administration. His proposal dealt with the organization of seven regiments: two from Trans-Uralian Bashkiria, or Isetsk Province; four from Ufa Province; and one from the Orenburg region. Six were to be composed of Bashkirs and one of Meshcheriaks. At the same time Tatishchev suggested a reconsideration of the practice of creating tarkhans. Kirillov had granted this title to many Bashkirs who participated in the early activities of the Oren­ burg Expedition. “Because of the past uprising” Tatishchev rec­ ommended that the former tarkhans be dismissed and that a num­ ber of more worthy persons be granted the title and its privileges.5253* Unfortunately Tatishchev had made many enemies, and a num ­ ber of complaints had been lodged against him. He was held in St. Petersburg, pending an investigation. Throughout his career a cer­ tain intractability led him to quarrel with his associates. When he was head of the Ural Industries he had antagonized the local of­ ficials and merchants. Nikita Demidov, the great private enter­ priser in the Ural region, complained to Peter the Great that Tatishchev took bribes. As head of the Orenburg Commission he had treated his subordinates severely, sending Shemiakin to court for comiption and fighting with P. D. Aksakov, the vice-governor of Ufa. Tevkelev had also turned against him and wrote a report to Bühren58 about the irregularities in Tatishchev’s administration. 51. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 42-44. 52. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 126, quoting Po Kabinetu, kn. 106/1183, LL. 92-93. 53. Ernst Johann Bühren (Biren or Biron in Russian), 1690-1772, was a Baltic German from Kurland who gained great power as Empress Anna’s lover. He was not a Russian subject and held no official post.



While demanding perfection from his subordinates, he himself, like many others in the eighteenth century, readily accepted money and gifts. Bühren turned over the investigation of Tevkelev’s charges to Count Mikhail Golovkin who wrote in March 1739: Recently Your Highness was pleased to talk with me about Vasily Tatishchev concerning the irregularities [in his admin­ istration] and ordered me [to investigate] this [matter] de­ corously and thoroughly. . . . I have discovered two aspects to this affair: (1) the irregularities, attacks, and extortions of Vasily Tatishchev and (2) the failure to present good reasons for the change in the location of Orenburg.54 Bühren was not too concerned about the second charge against Tatishchev. On the basis of the first Tatishchev was relieved of his command. Solov’ev states that Bühren distrusted Tatishchev be­ cause he was one of the patriotic Russian intellectuals who op­ posed the reigning German influence at the Court.55 The matter of moving Orenburg to a new location, which Golovkin listed in the charges, is curious considering that the Cabinet had already approved Tatishchev’s recommendation. This evidence of dis­ agreement at the top may mean other influences in the judgment of Tatishchev than his corruption. His brief tenure as chief of the Orenburg Commission was in­ adequate to reveal the scope of Tatishchev’s talents. Even while so busily occupied with affairs in Bashkiria, with the responsibili­ ties of the mining and smelting industry, and with supervising the Kalmyks, Tatishchev worked to advance science and education. He retained his interest in the schools he had established some years earlier in Ekaterinburg and founded a new one in Samara for Kalmyks and Tatars. He sponsored the translation of books from Asian languages into Russian and the compilation of a Russian-Tatar-Kalmyk dictionary. As a frontier administrator, Tatish­ chev is one of the great names in eighteenth-century Russian history. In his many years on the Southeastern Frontier, he held several important positions. Even after his trial he was sent back to the southeast as governor of Astrakhan. Few men of that day had 54. “Zapiska Golovkina” as quoted in Solov’ev, 4, 1604-05. 55. Solov’ev, 4 , 1606-07; Vitevskii, pp. 161-63; Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 4«.



his experience in colonial affairs. His intellectual pursuits and his political activities lie outside the scope of this study, but they should also be noted in any evaluation of his accomplishments. In Bashkiria during his short, two-year term as chief of the Bash­ kir and Orenburg commissions, Tatishchev continued Kirillov's work, but he also significantly modified a number of established policies. Like Kirillov he was a vigorous builder of forts. By 1739 it was evident that Bashkir freedom was fast coming to an end. Only one section of their boundaries remained open, the upper course of the Ural River from Verkhneuralsk to Fort Orsk at the mouth of the Or River. Plans already in motion were soon to close even this escape route. The strengthened position of the Russians in Bashkiria after Kirillov was reflected in the change in policies instituted by T a­ tishchev. Kirillov's initial emphasis had been on the wider aspects of the Orenburg project, especially the plan to move into Central Asia. The outbreak in Bashkiria frustrated him, and he furiously sought to destroy his opposition root and branch as quickly as he could. Tatishchev, who became head of the Orenburg Commis­ sion, had a different major task laid out for him. He first had to pacify the Bashkirs. The example of the two years spent by Kiril­ lov in attempting this by methods of extreme severity no doubt led Tatishchev to realize other solutions must be sought. Confident of the more secure position of Russia because of Kirillov's fortbuild­ ing, Tatishchev attempted to soften the severe measures. While be pursued war vigorously he began the institution of long-run measures to end Bashkir unrest. His policies were continued by his successors.


The ‘Tarification” of Bashkiria

I n it ia l P r o b l e m s

Lieutenant General Prince Vasily Urusov was appointed to re­ place Tatishchev as chief of the Orenburg Commission on June 17, 1739. He was given several thousand rubles to pay personal expenses and to buy presents for the Kazakh leaders. While he re­ ceived instructions and prepared for the journey to Samara, affairs in Bashkiria were in the hands of Soimonov, chief of the Bashkir Commission. At that time Soimonov was preparing to carry out the census which Tatishchev had planned earlier. In the midst of this activity, which was certain to antagonize the Bashkirs, St. Petersburg or­ dered him to transfer some of his troops to the regular army be­ cause of the pressing need for forces in the Turkish war. Fearing the reduction of troops in Bashkiria would weaken his position, Soimonov wrote to the Cabinet in January: The Bashkirs, having seen Your Imperial Majesty's arms, are quiet; and, with the aid of the all-powerful Creator, all ap­ pears well now. However, I, as the true slave of Your Imperial M ajesty,. . . cannot agree because the census . . . has not been accomplished in all Bashkiria. And if they hear of the transfer of regiments, then it will be dangerous.1* His fears were soon confirmed. The Bashkirs under the leader­ ship of Seit-bai Alkalin, Tiulkuchura Aldagulov, Allandziangul Kutluguzin, and Eldash Mullah, those leaders who had played a prominent role in the 1737-38 struggle and who had been permit­ ted to return peacefully to their homes after they had capitulated 1. Po Kabinetu, kn. 106/1183, LL. 145-45 ob., as quoted in Ustiugov, Vosstanie, p. 130.



and paid their fines, again began to organize to oppose the Rus­ sians. One group in the Siberian Doroga protested against the cen­ sus on the grounds that one had been taken when they paid the horse fines and that new registrations of the population could only be for the purpose of levying the poll tax on the Bashkirs “as the Chuvash pay a poll tax in the Kazan District.** They would pay only that amount of tribute “their fathers and grandfathers had paid.**2 Having decided to resist the administration on this point, they brought up earlier grievances, the horse fines and the abuses of the local government officials. By March their intentions were clear. The administration decided to postpone the census until the situation was calmer. Following their earlier pattern, the Bashkirs, led by Eldash Mul­ lah, decided to repudiate Russian sovereignty and to seek a new ruler. Because the Kazakhs had failed them, they now decided to seek the support of the Kontaishi Galdan-Chirin, the ruler of the Jungarian confederation; for his people, unlike the Kazakhs, were not even nominally Russian subjects. Other Bashkirs preferred to flee from Bashkiria and live in the Kazakh Steppe. Neither solu­ tion proved feasible. The Jungars could only be approached through Kazakh territory with Kazakh approval, a highly unlikely possibility. The Bashkirs and the Kazakhs were not generally friendly toward each other in spite of the occasional pacific inter­ course between certain groups. They continued the customary raiding of each other, as noted in reports of June 1739.8 Bashkir ,^refugees could expect little sympathy from the Kazakhs. During the summer and early fall of 1739 the Bashkirs offered only feeble opposition to the Russians. In August there was a small-scale attempt to resist; but the leader, Tiulkuchura, was soon captured. In September both he and Bepen, whose death sentence had been delayed since his capture in 1738, were exe­ cuted, and the incipient revolt ended.4 Now that Bashkir resistance had been quelled, Soimonov proceeded vigorously with the census. General Urusov left St. Petersburg early in July 1739 and reached Samara in August. His instructions dealt with several problems: the relocation of Orenburg, the building of forts along 8. Ustiugov, Vosstanie, pp. 131, 135, quoting Po Kabinetu, kn. 106/1183, LL. 23738, 369 ob.-37o. 3. Materialy BASSR, 1, 375. 4. Ibid., p. 376.



the Ural and Samara, the abandonment of the Trans-Kama Line, transference of the land-militia regiments to the Orenburg Line, the encouragement of trade in Orenburg, the prevention of unoffi­ cial migration into the area, and the improvement of relations with the Kazakhs.6 The site for the new Orenburg had been decided upon: it was to be built at Krasnaia Gora, some 250 versts to the west of the original town, which was henceforth to be known as Orsk. As rec­ ommended by Tatishchev, the new defensive line of forts, re­ doubts, and outposts was to stretch across the southern boundary of Bashkiria from the Volga along the Samara River to the Ural, along the Ural to Orsk, up the Ural to Verkhneuralsk, then along the Ui River to Tsarev on the Tobol River, to connect there with the Siberian Line which ran eastward across southern Siberia. The decree ordering Urusov to transfer the land-militia regi­ ments from the Trans-Kama forts to the new defensive line is a mark of the great advance of the Russian borders as a result of the Orenburg project. W ithin a few years the frontier had been moved 500 versts to the south, compared to the timid steps in the preced­ ing century when the old Trans-Kama Line was moved in some places only a few dozen versts. T o encourage commerce in Orenburg, Urusov was instructed to pay particular attention to Asiatic merchants and to establish spe­ cial low customs. For a period of ten years the rate was to be set at three kopecks per ruble, afterward five kopecks. These rates ap­ plied only if foreign merchants traded in Orenburg. If they wished to trade in Samara or other interior towns they had to pay the regular customs. During Kirillov’s time runaway peasants had been accepted into service as Cossacks. Now that the defense of the area was better or­ ganized, refugees were to be taken into custody and returned to their homes and owners. Relations with the Kazakhs were in their customary confusion. Two Russian caravans on their way to Tashkent had been attacked by Kazakhs. At the same time representatives of both the Middle and Great hordes had approached the Russians to be accepted as Russian subjects.6 In Samara, after studying the general situation, Urusov sent a 5. PSZ, io, 867-71. 6. Ibid., pp. 867-71, 881-84.



report to the Cabinet in which he requested confirmation of his orders and an additional sum of money. In early September he started for Orenburg with an accompanying detachment to inspect the progress on the defensive line and to look over the site selected by Tatishchev for the relocation of the town. Early frost and bad weather caused him to delay these plans; he was forced to return to Samara after inspecting only the forts along the Samara River.7 At this time an epidemic of some unknown disease in Isetsk Province became a matter of concern. The doctor sent out to in­ vestigate by the provincial office foolishly decided that the sickness was merely a reaction to insect bites. Unfortunately the disease spread rapidly, affecting large numbers and causing numerous deaths. In Siberia the treatment consisted of puncturing the skin at the characteristic mark or spot with a needle, applying sal am­ moniac, and then a tobacco poultice. It had little effect and the epidemic continued. After the devastations of war the local people were subjected to a natural scourge. K a rasa ka l, “ K h a n


B a s h k ir ia ”

In December 1739, while the census was proceeding to the Rus­ sians* satisfaction but to the Bashkirs* discontent, news was re­ ceived that the Bashkirs were again planning war. Even in their weakened condition and in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the hopelessness of further resistance, some few continued the struggle. On this occasion the great majority remained quiescent. л The story of the 1740 uprising is largely the story of its principal leader, Karasakal, or Blackbeard, a curious personage whose ori­ gins are obscure. The Russians first learned of him from a captive Siberian Bashkir in November 1739. The prisoner reported he had heard that “a spy from the Turks spent all the past winter and summer in Ailinsk District with the Bashkir Allandziangul, and a week before the capture of Tiulkuchura returned to the Turks.**8 Additional reports came in indicating the return of the Turkish spy or possibly several spies later in the year. As the war with T u r­ key was still going on the Russians were alarmed. In February 1740 Soimonov sent an interpreter named Raman Urazlin with a de­ tachment of 50 Cossacks and 250 loyal Bashkirs to investigate the report. If the rumors proved true, Urazlin was to seize the spy or 7. Ibid., i i , 105-06; Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 44. 8. Materialy BASSR, 1, 378.



spies. He quickly gathered information from many sources, which, amplified by communications from friendly Bashkirs and Russian commanders in Bashkiria, indicated that the so-called Turkish spy was a man known as Karasakal. This person, the Bashkirs claimed, had come from the Kuban area. According to some reports, Kara­ sakal himself claimed to be a Bashkir from the Nogai Doroga named Mindigul Yulaev. Others claimed his real name was Baybulat and that he was the last of the Kuchumids.9 A Bashkir who saw him personally described Karasakal as a person with a dark complexion and a moderately dark beard, wearing a kaftan made of white cotton and Bashkir cap of red fox fur. Other sources say his nose had been partially cut off and that his left ear and the little finger of his right hand were missing. He had appeared suddenly with sixty followers and had persuaded several influential Bashkirs to join him in a war against Russia, saying that he had 82,000 troops located a month’s march away in the vicinity of the Aral Sea. On the basis of this claim he was elected Khan of Bashkiria by a small group of bitterly anti-Russian Bashkirs. His supporters came primarily from the Siberian Doroga, the most prominent being Allandziangul Kutluguzin, Mendiar (Mandar) Karabaev, and, intermittently, Eldash Mullah. At first they naïvely believed in Karasakal’s purely imaginary army and ac­ cepted without question his explanations for the repeated delays in its arrival. W ithout waiting for the "main force," a group of approximately 200 to 300—periodically augmented by other dis­ contented Bashkirs—began attacking the villages of the Bashkirs and Meshcheriaks who had previously supported Russia. Urazlin's detachment had in the meantime caught up with the mysterious "Khan of Bashkiria," but in a brief skirmish failed to capture him. Friendly Bashkirs quickly assembled several parties to help fight Karasakal, while another party of fifty Cossacks was dispatched on skis from Ufa to aid Urazlin. Considering the situa­ tion critical, Soimonov immediately set out for Ufa and began mo­ bilizing a force of several thousand Bashkirs, Meshcheriaks, Cos­ sacks, and regular troops. Karasakal’s great army might prove to be a phantom, but Soimonov hoped to halt the movement before an­ other general outbreak occurred. The developments of the past several years had resulted in a noticeably stronger Russian posi9. Ustiugov, 1Z, p. io« ; Z. V. Togan, “Bashdjirt,” Encyclopedia of Islam (New ed., г vols, to date, Leiden, i960), 1 , 1076.



tion. The new forts, the forces mobilized for the earlier outbreak and not yet demobilized, and experience made possible quicker action on the part of the administration. During the winter and spring the garrisons were readied for action. Soimonov began set­ tling additional Cossacks in the vicinity of the forts. Both private and state agricultural establishments sent the necessary provisions, and a commissary was set up to distribute them. The Bashkirs were warned against any further disturbances. Eventually intelligence reports indicated that Karasakal’s forces had reached approximately 600 in number. Apparently few Bash­ kirs were flocking to his standard. By far the greater number in­ volved in the affair fought on the Russian side. Between February 18, when Urazlin was sent out to apprehend the “Turkish spy,“ and the third week in March, the band suffered several reverses, principally at the hands of Russian Bashkirs. Karasakal’s main sup­ porter, Allandziangul, was captured, but he himself escaped. Sev­ eral of his followers became skeptical about the phantom army. Up to the first of April the Russians had lost one killed, sixteen wounded; the Bashkirs, twenty-one killed, eleven wounded, eight captured.10 Karasakal recovered from these reverses quickly and by the mid­ dle of April was again creating trouble for Russia. His partisans slowly increased, in spite of declining hope of aid from the mythi­ cal army, until there were several hundred. The administration sent out several large detachments against him. Karasakal retreated into the mountains on the Siberian side of the Urals under heavy attack. Later it was rumored that he was planning an attack on Orenburg, an attack that never took place. Late in May, as the weather improved, the Russians tried to sur­ round Karasakal in his mountain hideaway. T o escape he moved eastward out of the mountains and across the upper Ural River. Putiatin from Ufa and Pavlutskii from Tabynsk joined forces, as­ sembled 1,500 mounted troops, and crossed the Urals, determined to capture the elusive Khan of the Bashkirs. In the running battle that ensued a few of Karasakal’s followers were killed, wounded, or captured; but Karasakal again escaped into the Kazakh Steppe. The Russian commanders following him to the Tobol River were reluctant to pursue him farther into the limitless expanse of the 10. Materialy BASSR, 1, 394.



steppe. They returned to the Ural Mountains where other trouble­ making groups were still raiding settlements. To reinforce them, Urusov dispatched a strong force from Orenburg.11 On May 13 Urusov left Samara with a party of 4,378 and moved to a camp 15 versts away. He then sent 1,500 troops under the command of Captain Tarbeev, a Ural Cossack, to join Arsen'ev's detachment in pursuing the enemy. W ith the remainder of his command he set out for Orenburg. Heavy winds and the spring thaw, which flooded the streams, slowed the march, delaying the detachment at the Samara River until the twenty-fourth of the month. In the meantime Major General Soimonov received orders to follow Urusov into Bashkiria and establish connections with him. At Fort Buzuluk a courier from Her Majesty ordered Urusov to delay the trip to Orenburg and to coordinate the movements of his forces with those of Soimonov. In comparison with the past the Russians had overwhelming superiority in numbers. Excluding those garrisoning the Oren­ burg Line forts and outposts, Urusov had over 4,000 troops with him. A June report from Soimonov on the disposition of troops under his command indicated more than 8,000 regulars and irreg­ ulars in forts and outposts inside Bashkiria and another 3,000 in the field.12 These figures do not include the few remaining in the Trans-Kama Line posts. These forces were made up of Russians, Bashkirs, Tatars, Meshcheriaks, Teptiars, Bobyls, and others. Con­ siderably more than half were local people, a fact that illustrates clearly the significant role of the colonial peoples in the Russian conquest. W ith such a force behind them, Urusov, Soimonov, and their subordinates met in a general military council at Samara on June 15 to plan measures for pacifying the Bashkirs. Three regiments of troops and approximately 500 Bashkirs were sent out against the dissidents. Many of these now friendly Bashkirs had formerly been hostile; and, therefore, a number of their prominent leaders were held in Sakmarsk as hostages to guarantee loyal service. The coun­ cil decided to warn the Bashkirs that the Russians were coming in force. They were threatened with complete annihilation of them­ selves, their wives and children. After the conference Urusov returned to his command in the 11. Ibid., pp. 435- 7712. Ibid., pp. 431-32.



south, stopping along the way at Krasnaia Gora where the new Or­ enburg was to be built, on June 22. He approved both the site and the plans. Intending to return immediately to the interior of Bash­ kiria, he set out for Ozemaia. On the twenty-sixth, after resting his troops, he left Ozemaia and moved up the Menzhen River. From that point he sent out four dragoon regiments and 400 Cossacks against the rebels.18 Soimonov’s report to the Senate on July 11, 1740, gives the re­ sults of the struggle against Karasakal’s insurgents from May 25 to July 3. The government forces had lost one regular and 13 irregu­ lars killed and 8 regulars and 44 irregulars wounded. Against this small cost in troops the government units had burned 122 villages and 50 kibitkas (households), killed 1,531 Bashkirs, and captured 536, including women and children. Of those captured, 124 were executed, 36 sent to the Baltic area as soldiers, 6 to labor in Rogervik, and 370 sent to Russia as serfs. Other losses to the Russians were four horses killed and six wounded. Livestock seized from the Bashkirs amounted to 1,608 horses, 2,287 cattle, and 476 sheep.14 A subsequent report from Soimonov, dated September 26, in­ dicates that only minor action took place after July. During that month the Bashkirs were so hard pressed that many began to sur­ render at the administrative centers. Urusov advanced to Lake Tolkach, north of old Orenburg and south of the Sakmara River, where he camped from July 8 to 17. There many captured Bashkirs were executed and their wives, fhildren, and livestock seized. He then sent 5,326 captives to Oren­ burg, including women and children. On the seventeenth he went to Orenburg himself when informed that several representatives of the Kazakhs had arrived for a meeting. He reached the town on the twenty-fourth and on the following day marched ceremoni­ ously into his camp. A detachment left at Lake Tolkach under the command of Ma­ jor Ostankov searched for sites along the Sakmara River where forts could be constructed, as recommended earlier by Tatishchev. On returning to Orenburg he reported that he had found nine strategic locations and good agricultural land, water, and woods.15 Meanwhile, Palchikov held a conference in Bashkiria at Verkh13. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 46. 14. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,447-48. 15. PSZ, 10, 867-71; Rychkov, Topografiia, 2, 130H; Istoriia, p. 47.



neuralsk. Urusov arrived on August 10 to attend it. A large group of Bashkirs were assembled and compelled to prostrate themselves before him. Then a long document was read to them. In it they were called bandits and rebels but were assured of the mercy and kindness of Her Majesty if they would remain loyal to the state. A brief history of Bashkir relations with the Russians from the time of Ivan IV followed, including an account of their uprisings. Urusov stated that the Russian yoke had been light, as evidenced by the low tribute demands. The document gave the rea­ sons for the founding of Ufa and Ufa Province, told of the gen­ erosity of the Russians in creating many tarkhans and giving them much land, described the government's liberality in permitting them to collect tribute from the Teptiars and Bobyls, pointed out their greater welfare under the Russians and the protection they had received from their enemies. Yet in spite of all these favors, the Bashkirs had rebelled when they learned of the plans to build Orenburg and other forts in that area. The reading continued with a survey of the attacks made on the Russian forces during the administrations of Kirillov and Tatishchev. Finally, the extreme poverty and suffering of the Bashkirs was directly attributed to their stubbornness in opposing their rightful government. At the end of the reading the Bashkirs again prostrated themselves before Urusov. After this ceremony the Russians took a number of prominent Bashkirs hostage and threatened further severe punishment if they again tried to revolt. In conference the staff determined the pun­ ishment to be meted out to the more recalcitrant rebels. Acting on the conference's verdict, Lieutenant Colonel Pal’chikov went to Sakmarsk to wind up the Bashkir affair. Six versts from Orenburg ninety-six rebels were hanged and twenty-one heads were chopped off and put on posts for display. Among the latter was a captive who had starved himself to death in protest. His lifeless body was beheaded and the head displayed with the others. Later, on Sep­ tember 17, Urusov arrived in Sakmarsk to supervise further execu­ tions. Here one hundred and twenty were beheaded, fifty were hanged, and three hundred and one had their ears and noses cut off.16 Urusov in Orenburg summed up the total losses of the Bashkirs 16. Rychkov,

I s to r iia ,

p. 50.



to the Russian forces in Siberia and to his own forces operating from Orenburg through September: 1,702 were killed or fled across the Ural River, 432 were executed, 1,862 were sent to Russia for distribution to landowners as serfs, and 301 were beaten with the knout and had their noses cut off. Others were sent to the Baltic regiments and the Navy. One hundred seven villages were burned and 39 camels, 1,987 horses, 2,903 head of cattle, and 2,110 sheep seized.17 Urusov asked Soimonov's advice on what action to take now that the uprising was over. Soimonov answered: It is necessary in carrying out Her Imperial Majesty's decrees to punish with death all the main rebels and the instigators of the Bashkir uprising without mercy; the others, who after in­ vestigation appear not to be particularly guilty, [should be in­ ducted] into military service among the Baltic regiments when suitable. Those who are more than 30 years old should be sent to Rogervik for labor. Their wives and grown girls should be married to Kazan and other Tatars and other nonRussians. . . . Other children and the young should be distri­ buted to those who want them for settlement in distant Rus­ sian villages.. . . And those who appear not to be guilty, after investigation, should be handed over to loyal Bashkir elders on probation so that they will not become rebels nor join the rebels. . . . [The less guilty] who are more than 20 years old, having their noses cut off and having been flogged with the knout, should be distributed, along with their wives and chil­ dren, to loyal Bashkir elders on probation. I have told . . . [you] that such rebels are common in Bashkiria. . . . This is to be expected of them because of their irresponsibility. It is al­ ways better to exterminate such rebels so that there will be no further revolts among them in the future.18 In these recommendations Soimonov was as severe as Kirillov had been. Thus, over a minor disturbance led by an outside adven­ turer, the Russians, in a fury and after years of frustration at their inability to quell the Bashkirs, used incredible brutality in subject­ ing the colonials to their will. Imperial conquerors have frequently acted in the same fashion. 17. Materialy BASSR, i , 459-60. 18. Ibid., p. 463.



Meantime, Karasakal, after escaping into the Kazakh Steppe with a band of followers, had assumed another name, that of Shuna Batur Khan, the son of a Kontaishi and the brother of Galdan-Chirin. He gathered a considerable following in the Great Horde, and when its old khan died he became one of the candi­ dates for the khanship. Threatened by the Jungars and by the Lit­ tle Horde Kazakhs, he considered journeying to Orenburg to be­ come a Russian vassal. This thought was not put into action.19 The Karasakal affair sharply illustrates the changes that had taken place in the years since the launching of the Orenburg Ex­ pedition. The rapid response of the Russians in meeting the threat of a new rising demonstrated Russian strength in Bashkiria. The network of forts and the substantial force of troops were sufficient to ensure Russian domination within the region. The failure of the Karasakal group to gain wider support can be attributed to Bashkir exhaustion after more than four years of bloody war. R

e l a t io n s w i t h


K azakhs

On August 19, 1740, while the Bashkirs were being subdued, a party of Kazakhs, including the sultans Nurali and Erali, the sons of Abulkhair, and Batur Janibek camped seven versts from Oren­ burg. On the twenty-second they visited Urusov. After a ceremon­ ious reception by a captain, several lesser officers, and a detachment of some sixty men, all the Russian military units were called out on parade; and when the escorting party approached with the sultans, a cannon salute was fired. A major met them at the horses and a lieutenant colonel escorted them into the presence of Urusov. Abulkhair did not come to the conference, explaining that he was too far away and not feeling well. He sent his regrets for the recent Kazakh attack on a Russian caravan and said he and Abul-mamet of the Middle Horde were not friendly. Actually, Abulkhair had learned that the new khan of the Middle Horde would also be pres­ ent in Orenburg for the conference; and, aspiring to the leading position in dealing with the Russians, Abulkhair feared to be pres­ ent at a meeting where he might be treated on an equal basis with his rival. He sent his sons to represent the Little Horde.20 The sultans, after blaming the Kazakhs of the Great Horde, over whom Abulkhair had no influence, for plundering the cara19. Ibid., pp. 476-94. 20. Levshin, 2, 139; Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 51-52.



van in question, promised in the future to escort Russian caravans through the steppe and to recover those Russians who had been captured by the Kazakhs. In return they requested that Urusov supply Abulkhair with some cannon. At this time Abulkhair, tak­ ing advantage of disorders in Central Asia, was trying to conquer Khiva. To advance this same cause, the envoys asked Urusov for Russian assistance in building a fortified town on the Syr Darya. In answer to these requests, Urusov sent a surveyor named Ivan Muravin with a party to make a map of the lower Syr Darya area in which a town might be built. The Russians refused to supply can­ non to Abulkhair, saying that they had too few even to supply their own forts. A banquet was held at which many toasts were drunk and can­ non salutes fired. During the course of the meal news came that peace had been signed with the Ottoman Empire, ending the war which had lasted from 1735 to 1739. This event was properly toasted, and after dinner the Russians distributed gifts to the Ka­ zakhs. Urusov concluded the affair with a speech, promising the Kazakhs great benefits in return for loyalty to the Empress.21 On August 24, before the Little Horde Kazakhs departed, Khan Abul-mamet and Sultan Ablai of the Middle Horde arrived with a large number of retainers and prominent associates. They were welcomed with a ceremony similar to that performed for their predecessors, including the banquet. The new Khan and his fol­ lowers knelt on a golden carpet, took off their caps, kissed the лКогап, then placed the holy book on their heads, and signed an oath with their marks,22 attesting their loyalty to the Russian Em­ press. At the meeting held afterward the two sides discussed the looting of the Russian caravan, banditry, Russian captives held by the Kazakhs, and raids on the Volga Kalmyks. The Kazakhs an­ swered that they could do nothing about the raids on the Kalmyks because these were traditional among their peoples, but added that the Kalmyks suffered more from the Kazakhs of the Little Horde, who were located closer to the Kalmyks than they were. They claimed that Abulkhair had recently sent 3,000 troops against the s i. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 5if. гг. It is possible but quite unlikely that the marks referred to here were signa­ tures in Arabic script. T he Russians had been acquainted with peoples who wrote in Arabic for a long time, and the letters from the Kazakh khans were always w rit­ ten so.



Kalmyks. The attack on the caravan was attributed to the Kazakhs of the Great Horde, but they promised to assist in recovering the stolen goods.23 The two sons of Abulkhair and their party quickly broke camp and departed when the Russians invited them to a joint meeting with Abul-mamet and Ablai of the Middle Horde. In a series of meetings held subsequently with the Middle Horde Kazakhs, the same topics were discussed at greater length. On Au­ gust 31 the Russians held military maneuvers, shooting matches, and other events to impress the Kazakhs with Russian power. Urusov also made an attempt to ease the rivalry between the khans of the Little and Middle hordes. On September 1 he made a courtesy call on Abul-mamet, returning to Orenburg in the evening. On the following morning the Kazakhs decamped. L a st P r o b lem s




P ressure



K azakhs

On September 5, having concluded his business with the Ka­ zakhs, Urusov set out for Samara. A courier arrived with approval of his plans for settling the Bashkir problem and a notice that Soimonov had been ordered to meet with him to work out the details. Reaching Ozemaia on the tenth he proceeded to the new site of Orenburg. Here again he was engaged in the problem of the Bash­ kirs. Near Sakmarsk he superintended the hanging of fifty rebels, the beheading of a hundred and twenty, and the distribution of a number of Bashkir women and children. On the eighteenth of September he continued on toward Samara by boat. Along the way he conferred with the officers of a detachment pursuing the Bash­ kirs. In Samara he settled down to work out the details of building the new Orenburg and to organize the administrative apparatus of the Orenburg Commission. In 1741 two engineering officers and an architect were appointed and workers assigned for the construction of the new Orenburg, but there was a last-minute dispute about the site. The chief engi­ neer wanted to build the town on the top of a hill for better air and a more beautiful view. The other two wished to locate the town on a level area two versts away and to build only a citadel on the hill. They believed it would be impossible to build a town of the size contemplated on the chief engineer's site, because the 23. Rychkov,

I s to r iia ,

pp. 58-53.



hill was small and the soil sandy. They stated that it would be a waste of labor to haul stone up the hill and that supplying water would be difficult. The level area, on the other hand, would permit level streets, gardens, and would be easier to supply with stone and water. Urusov met with the contending parties and decided on the level site.24 Meantime, Muravin’s party, which had been sent in the previous year to Central Asia to investigate sites for a fort on the Syr Darya and to map the area, returned with a map, a description of the routes from Orenburg to Khiva, a chart of the Aral Sea, and a plan of the city of Khiva.26 Plans to move more deeply into the steppe were frustrated by an old enemy. Karasakal, who had managed to attract a following among the Kazakhs by claiming to be the son of a Kontaishi and the brother of Galdan-Chirin, raided the Jungars. Galdan-Chirin reacted immediately to the attack and with an army of 15,000 marched against the Kazakhs, who fled westward toward Oren­ burg. When the Jungar army approached the town the comman­ dant sent envoys out to negotiate. The Russians met with a group of commanders (zaisangs), who explained that because the Kazakhs had treacherously attacked the Jungars while they were defending themselves against the Chinese, the Jungars were now retaliating. The Russians pointed out that the Kazakhs were subjects of Her Majesty and that any complaints against Russian subjects should be directed to St. Petersburg. The Jungars at that time had no de­ sire to clash with the Russian Empire. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Russian negotiators attempted to persuade the Jungars to become Russian subjects. Although this offer was not accepted, the Jungars did break off the campaign.26 At about the same time another threat loomed on the horizon. Nadir Shah of Persia. This mighty conqueror, a carpenter’s son, rose to power on the pattern of Tamerlane. He defeated the Afghans and took command of Persia. His invasion of India was a blow from which the Moguls never recovered. By the 1740s he had cre­ ated a large state in Persia and Central Asia. Claiming that Khivans had attacked his subjects, he marched into Central Asia. Abulkhair, who had seized Khiva in 1741, was there when the Persian *4. PSZ, и , 674-75; Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 57. 25. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 58; Levshin, 2 , 147. 26. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 56; Levshin, 2 , 144-46.



army entered Khivan territory. Using the services of the Russian land surveyor, Muravin, who was then in Khiva looking for a site on which to build a fort, the Khan sent a mission to Nadir Shah to request that the Shah appoint him Khan of Khiva. Mura­ vin found a friendly reception but was told that the Khan would have to come personally to negotiate. Nadir Shah promised that the Kazakh leader would be respectfully treated as a subject of the Russian Empress. Too wily a bird to walk into a snare, Abulkhair quickly fled into the steppe to the north, leaving the Khivans to defend their city without their ruler. In a three-day battle Nadir Shah captured the town and appointed a new governor. Soon after the departure of the Persians the Khivans rose, killed the governor, and elected Nurali, the son of Abulkhair, to rule over them. Nurali, following his father’s example, decamped on hearing that the Shah was sending an army to punish the Khivans for overthrowing his appointee.27 The incursion of Nadir Shah disturbed the Kazakhs more than might be expected. Moving southward on their traditional cycle to escape the severe winter weather of the north, the Kazakhs came into the border lands of Khiva. Following an age-old pattern, they sought to conquer the lands and towns of the settled society. When this khanate became part of Nadir Shah’s empire, the Kazakhs found their plans thwarted. Thus, in addition to the Jungars, an­ other force was driving them toward Russia. Urusov, who had been ill with scurvy, died on July 22, 1741. The Cabinet appointed Soimonov, the head of the Bashkir Com­ mission, to take charge of the Orenburg Commission. Urusov’s administration marked the end of the first phase of the Orenburg project. Kirillov’s grandiose plan had not been realized because of the colonial war; but in building the Orenburg Defen­ sive Line the Russians had established their supremacy in Bash­ kiria and a foundation had been laid for subsequent Russian pene­ tration into Central Asia. Before Kazakhstan could be annexed, the government had to bring order to the vast frontier territory of Bashkiria. Although the directors of the Orenburg Commission did negotiate with the Kazakhs and occasionally took limited steps to carry out Peter’s aims regarding Central Asia, they found them­ selves involved primarily in the struggle with the Bashkirs, at least 27. Rychkov,

I s to r iia ,

p. 58; Levshin,

2 , 146-48.



until 1741. The actual subjugation of the Kazakhs and the forma­ tion of Orenburg Gubernia were the next tasks, but these are other stories. The great frontier governor of the Orenburg region from 1742 to 1758,1. 1. Nepliuev, evaluated the accomplishments of his pred­ ecessors as follows: The Orenburg region was brought into the general system of the other regions of the Russian Empire through the work of Kirillov, Tatishchev, and Urusov. The region’s diverse admin­ istrative divisions received a common organization and were subordinated to the supervision of a local, higher authority.28 A 1740 report on the Bashkir war of 1735-40 included a table of the casualties suffered by the Bashkirs.20 Orenburg Bashkir Commission Commission Killed Sent to Baltic regiments and fleet Women and children distributed

7.455 135 2,082

9.438 3.101 6,300

Totals Grand total Horses collected as fines Cattle and sheep Money fines in rubles Villages destroyed



1,001 204 300

28,5 ц 11,282 5.872 9,828 r. 28 k. З96

These totals were compiled only from regular unit reports. The actual losses were considerably higher because of the actions of the irregular forces, hunger, disease, and cold. From a probable pop­ ulation of 100,000 the casualty total of over 30,000 graphically il­ lustrates the human results of Russian colonial policy in this area. 28. Vitevskii, p. 176. 29. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 55-56.


Colonial Administration on the Southeastern Frontier

A d m in is t r a t iv e O r g a n iz a t io n

After the conquest and annexation of the Khanate of Kazan in the sixteenth century, the vast frontier territory astride the southern Ural Mountains in which the Bashkirs lived was nominally in charge of a namestnik (viceroy) in Kazan. When Ufa was founded in 1586 the surrounding territory was administered locally by a voevoda (military governor) who was subordinate to the namest­ nik. During the last half of the sixteenth century and throughout the seventeenth century a number of additional forts and outposts were constructed in Bashkir territory, for the most part on the boundaries in the north along the early route to Siberia and in the west along the Volga. In the middle of the seventeenth century the Trans-Kama Line added other towns which brought a small comer of western Bashkiria into the Russian Empire. Prior to the organization of the Orenburg Expedition, Russian authority was weak except near the peripheral towns and Ufa in the center of the country. The ineffectiveness of Russian adminis­ trative control is demonstrated by the early tribute rolls of Ufa. In 1629 only 888 households were registered. By 1639 the number had reached 2,217.1 This tax roll did not include all the registered Bashkirs because the bordering towns also registered tribute pay­ ers, but it is clear that only a small fraction of the population paid tribute. On the basis of contemporary estimates and the first rea­ sonably complete census in the middle of the eighteenth century, the population at the beginning of that century was approximately ioo,ooo.2 1. V. A. Novikov, ed., Sbornik materialov dlia ufimskago dvorianstva (Ufa, »90S). PP- 203-04. 2. Den, pp. 277-80.



Although with the exception of those areas in the vicinity of the Russian towns and the territory behind the Trans-Kama line, administrative authority in Bashkiria was weak, the number of pe­ titions presented to the government before and during the upris­ ings indicates that the Bashkirs at least recognized Russian sov­ ereignty and with it the obligation to pay tribute. They objected to the seizure of their land, to the abuses of the government tax collectors, and to the raising of the tribute rates, but they accepted the right of the Russian government to collect tribute. T hat some Bashkirs in the more remote areas paid tribute is seen from their complaints of the hardships involved in transporting their pay­ ments in kind over long distances to the administrative centers. Before Peter the Great’s reorganization of the Empire in 1708 the whole southeast territory was a namestnichestvo (viceroyalty) under the direction of the namestnik in Kazan who was responsi­ ble to the Prikaz (Department) of Kazan. T o assist him, the namest­ nik had a chancery composed of his assistants and a clerical staff. The administration, however, was not completely in the hands of this body. As elsewhere in Russia at that time, the special functions which were within the jurisdiction of other prikazes, such as mili­ tary and treasury matters, were handled by local offices of these prikazes. A similar organization on a smaller scale existed in re­ gional centers like Ufa and Menzelinsk. A town and its surround­ ing areas was called a voevodstvo and was governed by a voevoda (military governor). The voevoda, assisted by an office staff, carried xout his duties in conjunction with the local representatives of the central governmental departments (prikazes).8 In 1708 Peter the Great reorganized the administration of the Empire. In place of the former territorial divisions Russia was di­ vided into eight gubernias (governments), each of which was di­ vided into provinces, and the provinces into uezds (districts). At the same time the old prikazes were replaced by collegial departments or Colleges. In this change the former Ufa Voevodstvo became officially a province, subordinate, as before, to Kazan, which be­ came a gubernia. Ufa Province consisted of Ufa, the capital, and the towns of Samara, Birsk, Menzelinsk, Zainsk, Solovamaia, Osa, Biliarsk, Tabynsk, and the village of Karakulina. A provincial of3. Lantzeff, Siberia in the Seventeenth Century (University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1943).



fice replaced the office of the voevoda and the prikaz offices.4 The voevoda—the title of the leading authority was retained—had com­ plete civil and military authority over his area, subject to his supe­ rior, the governor of the gubernia. The governor was directly re­ sponsible to the Senate and the Colleges.5 This arrangement remained substantially unchanged until 1728, when the administration of Peter II took Ufa Province from the jurisdiction of Kazan, with the exception of Menzelinsk, and placed it directly under the Senate. This move was dictated by the special problem of Bashkir unrest. Ufa Province remained in the charge of a voevoda. The decree, dated July 27, 1728, issued in the name of the Supreme Privy Council, stated: His Imperial Majesty has decreed [the following] on the peti­ tion of elected Bashkir representatives sent from Ufa Prov­ ince . . . : Ufa Province is to be under the separate jurisdiction of the Senate and correspondence is to be sent to, and direction is to be taken from, the Senate. The Governor of Kazan is not to have cognizance over this province with the exception of the poll tax which is levied on the Russian people in the dis­ trict [uezd]. This poll tax is to be sent to the Governor of Ka­ zan and local and tavern collections to wherever the decrees direct.® After 1728 the special position of Ufa Province was retained, although occasionally during the Bashkir troubles, as for example in 1735, the officials in Ufa were temporarily subordinated to the governor of Kazan. In the following years Peter's original eight gubernias were increased in number; but until the formation of Orenburg Gubernia in 1744, the only significant change in the ad­ ministrative apparatus took place in i737*T Siberian Bashkiria was in the Gubernia of Siberia until that time. The decree then issued 4. Novikov, pp. 15-22; PSZ, 4 , 437. See also, P. G. Ignat’ev, “Khronika dostopamiatnykh sobytii Ufimskoi gubem ii,” Pamiatnaia knizhka Ufimskoi gubem ii (Ufa, 1883), otd. 2, 1; N. F. Demidova, “Upravlenie Bashkiriei i povinnosti naseleniia Ufimskoi provintsii v pervoi treti XVIII v.," p. 214. 5. PSZ, 5 , 624ft; 4 >436ff* 6. Ukazy Imperatritsy Ekateriny I i Gosudaria Imperatora Petra II, sostoiavshiesia s 1J25 g., ianvaria s 28 chisla po 1730 god, napechatannye po ukazu Imperatritsy Elizavety Petrovny, pri Imperatorskoi akademii nauk (St. Petersburg, 1743), P- 36737. PSZ, j o , 242-45.



reflects the nature of the Russian administration in Bashkiria. Its issuance coincided with the great wars of 1735-4° an(* was con* cemed with bringing the Bashkirs under closer supervision. It dealt with two basic problems, the military subjugation of the area and the administrative reorganization of those territories which lay close to the towns on the periphery of Bashkiria. Two uezds, both subordinated to Ufa, were organized and placed in charge of voevodas, one in the north around the town of Osa in the Osinsk Doroga and one in the north in the vicinity of Krasnoufimsk. At the same time the voevoda of Perm Province in the north was moved from Solikamsk southward to Kungur be­ cause the latter town was closer to Bashkiria and was thus more conveniently located to assist in administering the Bashkirs. A larger measure of change was instituted in Siberia. A new prov­ ince, called Isetsk, was created which encompassed most of TransUralian Bashkiria, in particular the area around the upper Ural River and the region of the Ai River. The main administration of Isetsk Province, first located in Shadrinsk, was later transferred to Chebarkul'sk, then to Techensk. The final seat was Cheliabinsk, which became the provincial center in 1743.8 Isetsk and Ufa provinces were administered from Orenburg. These provinces did not as yet comprise a gubernia, but reported directly to the Sen­ ate. The old divisions of this region into the Kazan, Osinsk, Nogai, and Siberian dorogas underlay the Russian territorial divisions. These traditional names, which had come from the pre-Russian period when Bashkiria had been divided between the Khanate of Kazan, the Nogai Horde, and the Siberian Khanate, continued in use; but there existed no administrative apparatus with jurisdic­ tion corresponding to these boundaries. After Peter’s reforms, as far as the general governmental admin­ istrative organization was concerned, at the top the Senate and the Colleges directed the operations in the southeastern territory. In practice, the Cabinet often dealt directly with the head of the Orenburg Commission. The more routine matters of gubernia and provincial administration were handled through regular channels. The leading officials in St. Petersburg considered the Southeast­ ern Frontier Region of great importance. This attitude can be 8. Vitevskii, p. 459.



seen best in the roles played by the various central organs in for­ mulating policy. A survey of the correspondence between the fron­ tier officials and the central bureaucracy reveals much, also, of the governing process during the reign of Anna Ivanovna. Shortly after she became Empress, Anna abolished the Supreme Privy Council, the powerful body that had controlled Russia since the death of Peter the Great. In its place, in late 1731, she estab­ lished by two decrees a body called the Cabinet of Her Imperial Majesty. Originally this body had three members called Cabinet Ministers: Count G. I. Golovkin, Chancellor; Count A. I. Osterman, Vice-Chancellor; and the third member, Prince A. M. Cherkasskii. After Golovkin's death in 1734, Osterman became Chan­ cellor. In actuality, Ernst Johann Bühren, a Baltic German who became Anna's lover, dominated the Cabinet in spite of the fact that he was not a Russian subject, nor did he hold any official po­ sition. The Senate, which had lost status after the death of Peter I, gained power early in Anna's reign, but after 1731 it was eclipsed by the Cabinet. Several senators, however, exerted considerable in­ fluence. Field Marshal В. C. von Münnich and Osterman were si­ multaneously senators and in charge of Colleges, von Münnich of the W ar College and Osterman of the College of Foreign Affairs. Osterman, in fact, held positions in three of the higher governing bodies. At the top there was, in effect, a system of interlocking direc­ torates, which explains the rather irregular channels of correspond­ ence. The Senate had the most complete file because it was offi­ cially the body in charge and also usually received copies of letters sent to the Colleges and to the Cabinet. Frequently the Cabinet was addressed directly, especially when matters of high policy were concerned. Occasionally letters were sent to individuals in the Cabinet, Bühren, for example. Policy matters were settled by the Cabinet and more routine affairs by the other organs. By 1740 the administrative division of Bashkiria was complex. T hat part which lay behind and in the vicinity of the old TransKama Line, part of the Kazan Doroga, had been incorporated into the regular imperial system. This section formed part of the Gu­ bernia of Kazan. To the north, part of Bashkiria lay within the boundaries of Perm Gubernia. Like Kazan Gubernia, Perm also operated under the regular statutes. Siberian Bashkiria was or-



ganized into Isetsk Province in 1737. The remainder of the region, the Osinsk and Nogai dorogas, came under the jurisdiction of Ufa Province. Isetsk and Ufa provinces, as reflected in their special po­ sition, had not yet been fully assimilated into the Empire, although the final step was to be taken in 1744. In 1737 Ufa Province included Osinsk and Ufa uezds. The nonadministrative nature of the division into dorogas is shown by the fact that the boundaries of Ufa Uezd, which was largely in the No­ gai Doroga, ran over into Osinsk Doroga. Isetsk Province had three uezds, Isetsk, Okunevsk, and Shadrinsk, showing that there were more forts and towns in the Siberian Doroga than in Ufa Province, where most of the towns, excepting Ufa and a very few others, were concentrated in the north and west near the older established gu­ bernias. Each uezd was further divided into volosts (subdistricts) and they usually into aimaks. A volost in Bashkiria originally corre­ sponded to the clan divisions of the Bashkirs. It was made up of one or more villages. The aimak was a subdivision of a clan. Kiril­ lov’s compilation of the Bashkir volosts and aimaks in 1735 listed five volosts and twenty-seven aimaks in the Nogai Doroga, eighteen volosts and thirty aimaks in the Siberian Doroga, eleven volosts and seven aimaks in the Kazan Doroga, and four volosts in the Osinsk Doroga.® The aimaks do not always exceed the number of volosts because not all the volosts were subdivided. A 1743 listing of volosts gave the following figures:10 Name of Doroga Kazan Osinsk Siberian Nogai

Volosts 16 4 81 З2



Villages 858 216 219 349 1,64a

Households 9.239 3 .4 » 792 3>546 l6,7l8

The gubernia and uezd administrative officials and bodies were standard and require no further comment except to note that in Bashkiria the wars of 1735-40 seriously disrupted the normal rou­ tine. Although Orenburg, because of the Bashkir struggles and the 9. Materialy BASSR, 3 ,495-97. 10. Ibid., p. 543.



decision to transfer it to another site, had remained in a transi­ tional state, the charter issued in 1734 for the governing of the town warrants treatment in some detail because of the general in­ formation it gives on the intended administration of a frontier town in this region.11 The decree dealt first with those who would be permitted to reside in the new town and engage freely in indus­ try and commerce. Specifically listed were Russians, other Euro­ peans, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, Greeks, Armenians, Indi­ ans, Persians, Bukharans, Khivans, Tashkentians, Kalmyks, and, less specifically, any others regardless of their religious faith were to be allowed as residents. Russian merchants were to be given spe­ cial inducements to settle, but refugee peasants or army deserters were to be rejected. The town administration, or Magistracy, which had both execu­ tive and judicial functions, was divided into several departments. The leading body and law court of the Magistracy was made up of one of the total of three mayors (burgomistr),12 one of the six coun­ cillors (ratsger), and a court reporter (protokolist). The lower town court was composed of one mayor, one councillor, and two town elders who were to be Russians if the court were judging Russians, but two or three educated persons of the litigants' reli­ gion if any were not orthodox Christians. The fiscal office was to be staffed with one mayor, one councillor, two prominent town citi­ zens, and a bookkeeper. An “Orphans' Court,'* composed of one councillor, two prominent citizens, and a notary or bookkeeper, had charge of inspecting and maintaining churches, schools, hospi­ tals, and almshouses. Another division with one councillor and two elders from the guilds was responsible for public buildings, guild organizations, keeping a register of citizens, and the expendi­ tures for the upkeep of public property. This office was also to su­ pervise the activities of brokers, commodity sorters, land surveyors, and similar people. The police department was headed by one councillor and two guild elders. They had the right to inspect houses of correction, taverns, and to regulate wine and beer sales. The three mayors and six councillors were to divide the burden of these duties among themselves. The mayors and the councillors, after they had apportioned the 11. PSZ, JO, 344-49. See also, 6, 291-305. 12. Even in their somewhat distorted forms the origins of these titles are ob­ vious.



above duties, were to appoint an architect or master builder, a doc­ tor, a surgeon, a druggist for the three hospitals, an advocate, and representatives from the various non-Russians who would keep the administration informed on the customs of the non-Russian peoples. The officials in the Magistracy were to be chosen by a general election in which all residents of the town, both Russians and nonRussians, had the right to vote. Election results were confirmed in an assembly of the leading citizens presided over by the town com­ mandant, who headed the military garrison. When vacancies oc­ curred, the commandant with the assistance of the remaining offi­ cials of the Magistracy selected several candidates and another election decided the issue. Appointment to all minor positions was the sole responsibility of the Magistracy. Lesser officials had the right to sit in the Black Chamber or the general assembly of the Magistracy. No one was to be excluded from participation in the town government; but, on the other hand, no one was to be forced to serve against his will. Funds for the maintenance of schools, hospitals, and other pub­ lic institutions for the first three years were to come from a 2 per­ cent tax on commercial transactions; from a number of levies on caravansaries, public markets, commercial institutions, and ware­ houses; and from land rent. The 2 percent tax was an interim meas­ ure instituted because no customs were to be collected during the first three years. At the expiration of this time the sales tax was to be canceled, and that part of the town revenue was to come from cus­ toms. An annual report was to be submitted in January, accounting for all expenditures of public money. The right to organize and run a business was forbidden only to the military, government officials, and churchmen. T he Magis­ tracy, which held jurisdiction over an area 100 versts in radius, was authorized to grant land free of charge for business purposes, re­ taining only the right of inspection. Even in this remote area the system of internal passports was maintained. Bashkirs alone did not have to carry them. The Senate was the court of appeal for all cases that could not satisfactorily be settled by the Magistracy. From this description it can be seen that the Magistracy was an institution that primarily dealt with the economic aspects of town life, supervised the policing and upkeep of the town, and served as a local law court. A commandant was separately appointed by the



War College to supervise the town defenses and the military gar­ rison. He also played a role in the other affairs of the town as in­ dicated above. The government of Orenburg, particularly during the years 1735-40, reflected the special conditions caused by the Bashkir wars. Although most of the civil institutions had been set up by the end of the 1730s, trade and industry had only begun to develop. New Orenburg had not been completed, and the adminis­ trative center of the Orenburg Commission was Samara during most of this period. Other towns in Bashkiria, such as Ufa, more closely followed the governing practice in the interior provinces. The larger ones were provincial or uezd seats with voevodas and their chanceries. Never­ theless, the exigencies of the Bashkir war resulted in a basically military administration of Ufa and Isetsk provinces during the years 1735-40. On the lowest level, the Bashkir village, no Russian administra­ tive apparatus existed. For the most part local authority was left in the hands of the village elders. Russian policy aimed at attracting the native leaders into serving the state. The creation of tarkhans was one method of carrying out this aim. The lack of a complete census made it necessary for the government to depend on the cooperation of the elders in the collection of the tribute. Tatishchev, in particular, proposed on repeated occasions that a greater degree of responsibility be granted to these elders. Tax collectors from the Russian administrative centers were sent out to ensure the delivery of the various taxes, but this led to frequent com­ plaints about the abuses committed by these officials. The gradual imposition of the regular administrative organiza­ tion upon Bashkiria was only a part of the Russian penetration into the region. In addition to the regular administrative organiza­ tion, special commissions and commands played a very important role. They were organized for specific purposes and, in general, were military in nature, although some had broader functions. T he earliest of these was the Trans-Kama Defensive Line Com­ mand which was formed in the seventeenth century. By 1730 the government decided to build a new Trans-Kama Line farther to the southeast, and construction was begun in 1732.18 Troops from the defensive line, in addition to their duties as frontier guards, were sometimes assigned to other commands, as in 1740 when some13 13. PSZj 8 , 517- 18, 659.



joined the forces that fought the Bashkirs in the field. Unlike the Trans-Kama Line organization, the Orenburg Line remained throughout the period 1735-40 directly under the Orenburg Com­ mission, as indicated in the previous chapters. The Ural Cossacks were of great importance in Russian frontier activities, as were the Sakmarsk, Samara, and other Cossack groups. Organized into groups governed by an ataman and a council, they were directly subordinated to the War College.14 They ordi­ narily dwelt beyond their imperial frontiers, a hazardous position, met the nomads on their own terms, and performed their tradi­ tional role in the extension of Russia's borders. Unruly servitors, they sometimes caused Russian officials great difficulties by their banditry and reluctance in following orders. Three special commissions were involved to varying degrees with the southeastern territory: the Kalmyk, the Bashkir, and the Orenburg commissions. The Kalmyk Commission was organized in the 1730s to handle the problems connected with administering the Volga Kalmyks. Ordinarily it had only minor importance in Bashkiria. Tatishchev directed the building of Stavropol, the seat of the Kalmyk Commission, during his administration of the Or­ enburg Commission; but he shortly handed Kalmyk affairs over to a special official. A few Christianized Kalmyks participated in the Orenburg and Bashkir commission detachments during the years 1735-40. The Bashkir Commission was called forth by the war which started in 1735. It bore the brunt of the military action against the dissident Bashkirs. Command headquarters was located in Menzelinsk, one of the Trans-Kama Line towns. The Orenburg Expedition, called a commission from the time of Tatishchev's assumption of leadership, has already been treated in detail. During Kirillov's administration it was loosely subordinated to the chief of the Bashkir Commission. After Tatishchev's appointment in 1737, the Orenburg Commission took primacy, as it did under Urusov. In all cases the senior officer, regardless of the commission he handled, was nominally in command of joint operations. T

r ib u t e


O ther O

b l ig a t io n s

In practice the Russian governmental organization in Bashkiria was principally concerned with the administration of taxes and other obligations of the colonial peoples. In justifying their posi14. Ibid., 6, 367; Vitevskii, Chaps. 9-12, 21; Den, pp. 2386.



tion and the right to exact these dues, the Russians claimed the state protected its subjects from external attack and maintained internal peace. Actually, the rights claimed were based on much older precedents—the right of conquest. Tribute (iasak), the major collection, shows clearly the nature of the relationship between Moscow and her colonial subjects. Before the arrival of the Russians the Bashkirs paid tribute to their Nogai, Kazan, and Siberian Tatar overlords, as indicated by the divisions of Bashkiria into the Kazan, Nogai, and Siberian dorogas, and before that to the Golden Horde, as evidenced by the word “doroga.” (As already mentioned, it came from the Tatar daruga, which referred to a tax official or tax district in the realm of the Golden Horde.) Just prior to the Russian conquest of Kazan the Bashkir tribute amounted to one fox pelt or one half marten pelt per bow. The Russians maintained the same levy, though they excluded tarkhans, service Tatars, Meshcheriaks, and Moslem cler­ gymen from payment.15 During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the collections were mostly in kind. Consequently the type of tribute varied ac­ cording to the region and occupation of the inhabitants: fur trap­ pers, hunters, fishermen, stock breeders, and beekeepers—all paid different rates. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, and increasingly in the eighteenth century, money payments became common. The tribute payers were not registered by name in the tribute rolls “because the Bashkirs of these volosts pay iasak through elders and their associates into the treasury of the Great Sovereign and not individually by name.“16 The amount of tribute was obviously not uniform, nor were all Bashkirs subject to tribute. Much of Bashkiria remained beyond Russian jurisdiction. As is usual with tax administrators, the Rus­ sians continually increased the levies and extended the collections to new areas. While the average tribute remained low in compari­ son to the poll tax paid by the Russian peasants, the constant out­ raged protests from the Bashkirs is evidence that it was a burden. According to documents of the first half of the eighteenth century, the average household paid approximately 25 kopeks per year,17 although wealthier Bashkirs evidently paid considerably more. 15. Demidova, p. 214. 16. TsGADA, Ufimskaia prikaznaia palata, d. 1168, L. 3, as quoted in Demidova, p. 216. 17. Materially BASSR, 3, 378-79, for example.



The distribution of tribute among the clan households was cause for dispute. When they failed to obtain satisfaction, Bashkirs often petitioned Russian officials for justice in the division of the bur­ den.18 The migrants in Bashkiria—Tatars, Chuvashes, Mari, and others —were subjected to different regulations. Whereas the Bashkirs were theoretically taxed according to the land they possessed, these Teptiars and Bobyls owned no land. The Russians usually assessed them according to the land they rented or occupied. The average rate was considerably higher than that levied against the Bashkirs, varying from 40 to 80 kopeks. This was still much less than the poll tax paid by the settled inhabitants of the Volga re­ gion. The annual tribute collection took from five to six months, be­ ginning on September 1. Such a long period was required because some volosts were more than 1,000 versts from Ufa. The clan lead­ ers were generally responsible for the delivery of their volost's trib­ ute, but special Russian tax collectors were sent into Bashkiria from Kazan and Ufa.19 These special collectors had many opportu­ nities for peculation. That they succumbed to temptation is dem­ onstrated by the many complaints made by Bashkirs and by other Russian officials who were either more honest or jealous. Tatishchev, as already noted, advocated the transfer of the tribute col­ lections, together with more authority, to the Bashkir leaders. Although it was generally approved, this proposal was never com­ pletely realized. Special collectors continued to exact more than the legal tribute. According to figures kept by the treasury, which, it must be noted, do not include the illegal collections, the tribute in Bashkiria rose from 6,439 rubles and 70 i/ 4 kopeks in 1725 to 8,487 rubles and 13 y4 kopeks in 1734.20 The distribution of these levies among the various elements of the local population can be estimated from the apportionment of 1720. At that time the Bashkirs paid approximately one-third of the total while the Tep­ tiars and Bobyls paid the remainder. Limitations of research in this area as well as inadequate records make possible only crude calculations, but the above figures indicate that probably fewer than 10,000 Bashkir households and about the same number of Teptiar and Bobyl households were subject to tribute. 18. Demidova, p. 218. 19. Materialy BASSE, ß, 486; PSZ, 8, 232; Demidova, p. 220. 20. Demidova, p. 215.


T he long-delayed census for tax purposes was begun in 1739 and, by the end of the year, 130 districts had been covered, includ­ e s 1*699 villages, numbering 15,431 households, 42,537 males, and 42,118 females, a total of 84,655 persons. This did not include all the population, because one of the officers engaged in the count reported that 101 villages near Menzelinsk had not been canvassed. In addition to this, the mountainous areas in the Urals and the dis­ tant areas of Trans-Uralia had not been touched. The outbreak in 1740 prevented the completion of this census.21 It was to be more than a decade before a reasonably complete count was taken. In addition to tribute the Russians levied customs and a number of indirect taxes, most of which pertained only to the local Rus­ sian population. The largest sums came from customs duties col­ lected in Russian towns, over 2,000 rubles in Ufa Province alone during 1734.22 Such duties were not universally applied in Bash­ kiria because it was a frontier area and the Bashkirs objected. At­ tempts to extend them were unsuccessful. A series of decrees late in the seventeenth century exempted Bashkirs from Customs in Rus­ sian markets. It was otherwise with internal trade among Bashkirs, or “home sales," which were subject to a sales tax.23 For managing internal customs the administration established customhouses and appointed “sworn men" (tseloval’niki) to be re­ sponsible for the collections.24 These officials had a bad reputation. A typical complaint from several Bashkirs in 1728 stated: No small number of horse and tobacco “sworn men" come to us, the Bashkirs, throughout all the dorogas, and every “sworn man" has with him five persons. They forcibly take our wag­ ons, as well as our food, geese, ducks, fish, beer, and honey.. . . And if we sell anything, fox, marten, or wolf pelts, horses or other livestock, although they know who sold what goods, these “sworn men" do not ask questions during their visit, but they come a second time and fine that person as if he had con­ cealed [the truth].25 The salt monopoly which was universal in the Empire was ap­ plied only to Teptiars and Bobyls in this region. The Bashkirs s i. as. 23. 24. 25.

Ustiugov, Vosstanie, pp. 13&-39. Demidova, p. 222. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,74-75, 124. Ibid., 3 ,577. Ibid., 1 , 124.



were exempted, although any salt produced was for their own use and not for sale.2 62728 The list of taxes concluded with two minor collections which were more annoying than revenue producing. The tobacco levy, which was farmed out and consequently a focal point of complaints over adulteration and other abuses, was abol­ ished in 1729.27 Marriages of non-Christians were also subject to tax, but the return was of no significance, in 1734 amounting to less than 100 rubles. In addition to taxes, the Bashkirs and the other non-Russian inhabitants of the Southeastern Frontier Region had additional obligations. The Bashkir tarkhans, service Tatars, and Meshcheriaks served in various military capacities, for which they were exempted from tribute. They were stationed in border forts and patrolled the frontier.28 During the Bashkir wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries detachments operated with the Russian forces. Many were recruited for service in the Baltic area against the Swedes and in the Ukraine against the Turks and Crimeans. They served as interpreters, intermediaries, envoys, and in many other roles. Their assistance was vital for the Russians in the fron­ tier area. The heaviest burdens were placed on the Teptiars and Bobyls. They, along with the Russian peasants, chopped the trees, dug the ditches, and performed the heavy work in the construction and maintenance of the defensive lines. They were also called upon to furnish transportation for persons and organizations engaged in government business. In most of Bashkiria roads were few and lightly traveled. Consequently the transportation service was not widely established. Near Kazan, however, cartage and post service was a heavy burden.2930In an emergency these groups were used for military purposes, but attempts to regularize their recruitment brought such severe opposition that the policy was abandoned.80 R

u s s ia n

C o l o n ia l C o u r t s , R

C o r r u p t io n



e l ig io u s

f f ic ia l s , a n d

A d m in is t r a t io n ,

O th er P roblem s

The Russian government set up a system of courts in Bashkiria intended to have jurisdiction over Russians, Teptiars, and Bobyls. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1 , 193. Demidova, p. 224. Materialy BASSR, 3 , 485; Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, 1 ,210. Materialy BASSR, 1 , 103-04. Demidova, p. 231.



The Bashkirs and other Moslems settled most of their problems through the shariat, or Islamic legal system, at the local level, be­ fore clan elders and a mullah. During the eighteenth century, land disputes and cases between Moslems and foreigners were brought increasingly to the Russian courts presided over by voevodas. Legal work was very profitable for the government officials. Bribery, high court fees, and other abuses gave the courts a de­ servedly bad reputation, although the constant complaints of a few honest officials showed they were not all evil.81 T o ensure good faith and maintain internal order the Russians continued to use the ancient method of taking hostages. Usually hostages were selected from among the “best people“ and held in Ufa, Kazan, Birsk, Tobolsk, and other centers. The numbers var­ ied. During and after an uprising greater numbers were held. Ap­ proximately fifty were kept in Ufa and Birsk in the relatively peaceful 1720s.82 The taking of hostages was a constant source of Bashkir complaints; and Kirillov, among others, thought the prac­ tice ineffective. Because Islam was the religion of the majority of the Southeast­ ern Frontier peoples, the Russians had a religious problem. Mul­ lahs frequently used their position and their mosques to advance the Bashkir cause. Islam also served as a bridge between the no­ madic peoples and the Ottoman Turks. Appeals to Crimea in the name of a common religion caused the Russians to regard the Mos­ lem clergy with suspicion. T o meet the problem the Ufa Religious Administration was established in 1721 to convert the natives. It was soon abolished because little came of it.88 The local peoples clung to their religion, especially the Tatars who were devoted to Islam. Efforts at converting Moslems to Russian Orthodoxy were generally ineffective. Corruption and other abuses of officials have been noted many times. Honest, competent government administrators were not plentiful. Corruption reached everywhere and seems to have been accepted as normal unless an individual overdid it. Prosecutions were not unknown. Many at the highest levels, including such per­ sons as Tatishchev, Vice-Governor Aksakov of Ufa, and others were dismissed from their positions and brought to trial. One Rus-51 51. Dobroemyslov, Materialy, i , 193; Materialy BASSR, 1, 1*3; 5, 491; Demidova, pp. 231-38. 32. PSZ, 8 , 112. 33. Vitevskii, p. 395; Materialy BASSR, i , 119.



sian historian called the Aksakov affair a new “Bashkir revolt” where “instead of bullets and arrows,” the air was filled with “re­ quests, denunciations, and complaints.”84 Mentioned several times in the preceding chapters was a chronic problem—the flight of serfs to the frontier. The Trans-Kama Line, built on the border of Kazan Uezd and Bashkiria, like the more famous Great Wall of China, served two purposes—to keep the no­ mads out and to keep the enserfed population in. Patrols along the frontier made it even more difficult to escape. The internal passport system in Russia made it easy to identify runaways. Those who lacked the proper papers were picked up and sent back home. Frequent decrees on the return of fugitives testify to the serious­ ness of the problem.88 Special commissions were appointed to study it, the most important of which was that headed by M. G. Golov­ kin in 1721. Several thousand households were discovered, rounded up, and returned to their former landlords as a result of the activi­ ties of this commission.86 Other great searches were periodically in­ stituted, but were usually unsuccessful. The Bashkirs presented the administration with a similar prob­ lem. Heavy levies and other onerous obligations sometimes led the nomadic Bashkirs to decamp for more distant regions. The flight to Kazakh auls has been noted. Again, the Russians made their defensive lines serve a double purpose. The Orenburg Line shut off their avenue of escape, something the Bashkirs were very well aware of. E c o n o m ic P o l ic ie s

As has already been emphasized, one of the primary forces driv­ ing the Russians out into the Southeastern Frontier was economic interest. In addition to the tribute and other obligations laid on the local population, the administration sought to exploit the nat­ ural resources of the colonial region and to develop commerce with the East. Later it undertook the development of agriculture 3456 34. P. G. Ignat’ev, Sud nad brigadirom Aksakovym (Ufa, 1875), p. 5. See also, Materialy BASSR, 3, 489-92 for a statement by Kirillov on corruption and other abuses. 35. PSZ, 7,179-80,503-04. 36. Materialy BASSR, 3,560-61.



to support the population in the towns and forts of the defensive lines.87 Learning early of the mineral resources of the Urals, the Rus­ sians began in the seventeenth century to smelt iron and copper ores. During Peter’s reign special emphasis was placed on the rapid development of industry which would contribute to military power. Consequently there were intensive efforts to exploit the mineral resources of the frontier area. In the 1720s Tatishchev be­ came the head of the state’s mining and smelting firms in the Ural region. He tried to improve Russian technology and to lift pro­ duction high enough to supply the domestic needs of the state and a sufficient surplus to export 300,000 poods of iron annually.88 Simultaneously, Kirillov, another “pupil of Peter the Great,” advocated greater efforts to develop industry in the frontier areas. Even while marching south from Ufa to found Orenburg, he searched for ore deposits. On August 16, 1735, he reported to the Senate that he had discovered substantial deposits of copper, silver, and other minerals, some 500 versts from Ufa.89 The Bashkir war did not prevent him from prospecting for ore at every available op­ portunity. While building Tabynsk, in July 1736, he selected a site for the construction of a copper smelter with ten furnaces, from which he expected to realize from 10,000 to 15,000 poods per year.40 The smelter was built in 1737 but was soon destroyed by the Bashkirs. It was later rebuilt in 1743. In 1736 Kirillov also planned three other establishments: one on the Or River to smelt copper and silver; another on the Ural River below the mouth of the Sakmara for a copper output of approximately 10,000 poods annu­ ally; and a larger one in Kazan Uezd on the Sheshma River, in­ tending an output of from 100,000 to 150,000 poods of copper per year.41 37. For economic development, see Roger Portal, L'Oural au xviii siècle: étude d ’histoire économique et sociale (Paris, 1950); N. I. Pavlenko, “K istorii iuzhnoural’skoi metallurgii v XVIII v.,” in 400-letie prisoedeneniia Bashkirii k russkomu gosudarstvu (Ufa, 1958); N. G. Apollova, Ekonomicheskie i politicheskie sviazi Kazakhstana s Rossiei v XVIII-nachale X IX v. (Moscow, i960). 38. P. K. Alefirenko, “Ekonomicheskie vzgliady V. N. Tatishcheva,” Voprosy istorii, 12 (1948), pp. 89-90. 39. Materialy BASSR, 3 , 497. 40. Apollova, Ekonomicheskie i politicheskie sviazi . . . , p. 105; Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, p. 88. 41. Apollova, Ekonomicheskie i politicheskie sviazi. . . , p. 108.



Tatishchev and Urusov followed Kirillov’s example, but the dis­ turbances in the seventeenth century and the first half of the eight­ eenth century hindered the economic development of the region. Nevertheless, after 1726 the mining and smelting industry grew significantly. In addition to thirteen older establishments, fortyfour new iron smelters and mills and forty-seven new copper smel­ ters and mills were brought into production by 1762. In the middle of the eighteenth century the Ural industrial complex pro­ duced approximately 70 percent of the iron and 90 percent of the copper in the whole Empire.4243 Trade with Central Asia, India, and China had lured Russians southeastward long before the eighteenth century. The major ob­ stacle to trade was the danger in traversing the Kazakh Steppe. Pe­ ter and his successors recognized the controlling position of the Kazakhs on the caravan route. Kirillov's plan called for a bold step, the establishment of a fort and dock at the mouth of the Syr Darya on the Aral Sea and the construction of a fleet to control the routes into Central Asia. Having only imperfect knowledge of the geog­ raphy of the region, he thought river routes might even lead all the way to India. This phase of the Orenburg project was not realized, but considerable geographical knowledge was obtained. Kirillov then turned his attention to caravan trade. Merchants had traveled by caravan to and from Asia since time immemorial. Peter the Great, with his usual impetuousness, struck directly to the heart of Central Asia. This attempt, the BekovichCherkasskii Expedition of 1717, temporarily interrupted the cara­ van trade between Russia and the Central Asian towns. Peter II on September 19,1727, issued a decree to reestablish this trade. Russia’s interest in furthering trade with Central Asia and India was stimulated by a similar British interest. In 1732 the Russian ambassador in London, Antiokh Kantemir, reported that the Brit­ ish were planning to seek a water route from Arkhangel to Japan, China, India, and even America.48 A representative of an English company early in 1733 presented a plan to the English king to es­ tablish a transit trade with Persia through Russia.44 T he Russian 42. Ibid., p. s 16; S. G. Strumilin, Istoriia chemoi metallurgii v SSSR (Moscow, • 954).

г, 558.

43. V. N. Aleksandrenko, Reliatsii An. A. D. Kantemira iz Londona (1732-1733 gg.) (Moscow, 189a), 1 ,68-63. 44. Sbomik Imperatorskago russkago istoricheskago obshchestva, 7 6 ,78.



government, in the 1730s deeply involved in Polish affairs, in the Turkish war, and in the Bashkir struggle, granted the English an unusually wide range of privileges in a treaty concluded in 1734 4B A number of British agents turned their attention to southeastern Russia hoping to establish a short route to Central Asia and India. John Castle was one of these Englishmen. In his journal Castle, the artist who accompanied the Orenburg Expedition, commented on this subject. He outlined what he thought would be a fourteen-day journey from Orenburg to India via the Aral Sea and both the Amu and Syr Darya rivers. Because of its position, he considered the Aral Sea the key point for devel­ oping commerce and exploiting the wealth of the surrounding region.46 The English were not alone in hoping for this. Kirillov, of course, had independently expressed such ideas earlier.47 He had summoned an Indian merchant named Maravie from Astrakhan to Ufa because he wanted information on the routes to India and commercial possibilities there. Maravie stated that a number of routes existed, through both Persian and Central Asian territory, but that the difficulties of traveling through these areas hindered the development of trade. If a safe and easy route could be opened through Bukhara to India he believed Indians would come in greater numbers. In February 1736 St. Petersburg recommended that Kirillov send Maravie through Bukhara to India with a copy of the commercial privileges that had been offered to merchants in Orenburg.48 T he Charter for Orenburg, which had been issued when the expedition was first organized, authorized all sorts of people to re­ side in the new town, excluding only refugees, army deserters, and peasants subject to the poll tax; and Kirillov had not been too scrupulous in requiring the proper papers. Merchants and artisans were to be especially favored. As indicated above, the following nationalities were specifically permitted to settle: Russians, other Europeans, Greeks, Armenians, Indians, Persians, Bukharans, Khivans, Kazakhs, Tashkentians, Kalmyks, Bashkirs, and Karakalpaks. 45. S. A. Pokrovskii, Vneshniaia torgovlia i vneshniaia politika Rossii (Moscow, 1947), p. 101; A. Ostroukhov, Anglo-russkii torgovyi dogovor 1734 g. (St. Petersburg, 1914), p. 42. 46. Journal, pp. 76fr. 47. Dobrosmyslov, Materialy, z, 18. 48. P. E. Matvievskii, “Dnevnik Dzhona Kestlia как istochnik po istorii i etnografii Kazakhov,” Istoriia SSSR, No. 4 (1958), fn. 15, p. 135.



They were all to be permitted to engage in commerce or industry, to travel without hindrance, and to practice their religions freely. During the first three years no customs were to be levied. Taxes would be limited to rent for the use of caravansaries, public mar­ kets, warehouses, and a few minor excises. These were needed for the support of the local administration. Both Russians and for­ eigners would be permitted to build and operate mills and fac­ tories, the land for these enterprises to be granted free of charge. The town Magistracy did, however, have the right to inspect such businesses. Goods could be kept, stored, and disposed of according to the wishes of the private owners, subject only to inspection by customs officials and to the payment of the legal taxes. Members of the military, of the administration, and of the clergy were pro­ hibited from engaging in trade. Speedy handling of complaints and commercial disputes was promised. Even the private produc­ tion, sale, and consumption of beer, wine, and vodka were author­ ized, reserving to the Magistracy only the right of inspection. Before sending the Indian, Maravie, to India, Kirillov, while in Samara, got in touch with John Castle through the expedition’s bookkeeper, P. I. Rychkov, and asked him to accompany Maravie as a representative of Russia. Castle politely refused because he considered the offer of several hundred rubles inadequate com­ pensation. In September 1736, Castle did undertake a commission for Ki­ rillov, who had always been interested in exploration of the vast л frontier territory within his jurisdiction. In company with Chemodurov and a detachment of 120 troops, he floated down the Ural River on a raft from Orenburg to Uralsk and from there went on to Samara and finally to Simbirsk, where he arrived and reported to Kirillov on October 13. His journal presents an account of the region, its inhabited places, run-away peasants who were farming near the Sakmara River, details on Uralsk and its inhabitants, and of salt deposits, fishing, strange rocks, and semiprecious stones along the way. On another occasion Kirillov planned to send the English sea captain, John Elton, with a caravan to Tashkent. In the guise of a merchant, Elton was to take observations and survey sites for the construction of a dock and fleet on the Aral Sea.49 Or49. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. *8.



enburg was already being used as a stopover by merchants on their way from Central Asia to Samara and Kazan.50 Because the Kazakhs remained unpredictable, only small cara­ vans were dispatched in order to minimize losses should one be attacked. Both Russian and Central Asian merchants paid the Ka­ zakhs for escorting caravans and sometimes held hostages to ensure the reliability of the escorting group. Tatishchev, who also highly favored the development of the Eastern trade, continued Kirillov's work. He began constructing buildings and other facilities for a market on the steppe side of the Ural about two versts from the river for trading with the Kazakhs and Central Asians. Finding Orenburg inconvenient for a number of reasons, Tatishchev decided to move the town. Old Orenburg served as the principal commercial center on the Russo-Kazakh border between 1735 and 1743, when it was supplanted by the third town of that name at the mouth of the Sakmara River. The second Orenburg (1741-43) had never developed into a viable cen­ ter. Tatishchev’s commercial measures showed few results. During his administration, 1737-39, not many merchants came to Orenburg. In 1738 he sent his first caravan to Tashkent to trade and to re­ quest free trade privileges for Russian merchants. The caravan was led by Colonel Karl Miller. The value of the merchandise amounted to about 20,000 rubles, of which 3,000 were government goods. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Tatishchev sent a surveyor with the caravan to make geographical notes. Successfully passing through the territory of the Little and Middle hordes, the caravan met disaster two days out of Tashkent. A party of Kazakhs from the Great Horde seized all the personnel, animals, and goods, with the exception of Miller himself, several companions, and a few camels loaded with merchandise. These few escaped with the aid of a local prince and subsequently reached Tashkent. Miller's supply of goods was sufficient for his own subsistence in Tashkent but not for ransoming his captured associates, who were promptly sold into slavery. Batur Janibek, a tarkhan of the Middle Horde, offered his services to Miller and sent envoys to both Khan Tabars of the Great Horde and to the leader of the raiding group, re50. Rychkov, Topografiia, a, 225-26.



questing them to return the goods and captives. Miller and his few companions eventually returned to Russia, but the captives and the merchandise were never recovered. The frontier war in the north and struggles among the Kazakhs, Kalmyks, and Jungars in the southern steppes were largely to blame for the failure of these efforts. The central government ordered Urusov to resettle the few Or­ enburg merchants in the new town as soon as it was ready. This further unsettled commercial affairs in the early 1740s. By the same decree, customs duties were set at 3 percent for ten years and there­ after at 5 percent.51 In 1740 Urusov negotiated the submission of the Middle Horde, significantly extending the range of Russian commerce among the Kazakhs, who were seeking a market for their livestock and other products as well as a source of textiles, leather goods, and metal articles. Because Orenburg was more than a month’s journey by horseback from some parts of Middle Horde territory, these Kazakhs preferred to trade in the closer Siberian towns of Tara, Tiumen, and Tobolsk among others. They also vis­ ited other border towns from the lower Ural to the upper Irtysh.5253 Because it was nearer the Little Horde, which had closer commer­ cial relations with Russia, old Orenburg (later called Orsk) was the major center of Kazakh trade with Russia until the new city was constructed. On the Russian side several groups were involved in Orenburg commerce. At the top were the regular businessmen, mostly Kazan and Tatar merchants from the towns of the middle Volga region. In 1738 a group of them offered to form a company with a capital of 100,000 rubles but requested exclusive rights to the Orenburg trade. They wanted the government to prohibit peasants from en­ gaging in the trade. This the government refused to do, although some restrictions were placed on peasant participation.58 Another group with commercial interests were the Ural Cos­ sacks. Tatishchev noted in 1737 that “Yaik [Ural] Cossacks, seeing tranquility among the Kirgiz [Kazakhs] take many goods and ex­ change them and, thus, the Kirgiz began to go to them at Yaitsk [Uralsk] and exchange goods.”54 51. PSZ, 1 0,868-71. 5s. Apollova, EkonomicheskU i politicheskie sviazi. . . , pp. 120,23s. 53. Ibid., p. 244. 54. TsGADA, Delà Senata po Kabinetu, 1738 g., d. 90/1167, L. 59, as quoted in ibid., pp. 247-48.


l6 l

T he administration was disturbed because there were no customs officials at Uralsk, and it feared the proper duties would not be paid. Tatishchev asked the government to stop trade in the Cossack settlements and in the towns of the defensive lines. A decree of February 15, 1738, allowed the Ural Cossacks to trade without paying customs duties only in their own settlements.5556Even this right was lost later. Some conception of the extent of the commerce can be gained from these incomplete statistics on customs duties.55 Customs Collected in Orenburg, 1738-44 Year 1738 >739 1740 1741 1742 *743 *744

Sum (in rubles) 546.98 687.63 3.083.23 З.87239 З.38450 4.182.83 4,806.19

Because transactions in West Siberian centers and the illegal and semilegal trade of the Cossacks and peasants are not included in the above figures, it is impossible to estimate the total ruble value of the commerce in these years. The figures do show that trade in­ creased little during the disturbances in Bashkiria and in the steppeland. When Bashkiria was subdued and the Kazakhs be­ came friendly in 1740 there was a sharp improvement. Whether the return repaid the imperial investment is another matter. T


D e f e n s iv e L in e s



h e ir

G a r r is o n s

The Trans-Kama Defensive Line, built in the seventeenth cen­ tury and garrisoned mostly with service gentry, was the first sig­ nificant move into the Southeastern Frontier Region. Almost a century later the authorities of the central government were un­ certain as to the next advance. Although Tatishchev as early as 1724 had advocated forts on the Ural River, the administration decided in 1730 to move the Trans-Kama Line a modest distance southeastward. After appallingly great expenditures and after 55. I. I. Kraft, Sbom ik uzakonenii о Kirgizakh stepykh oblastei (Orenburg, 1898), p. 5; Rychkov, Topografiia, 1, 330-31. 56. Apollova, Ekonomicheskie i politicheskie sviazi. . . , p. «92.



thousands of laborers had worked on it for several years, the whole project was abandoned when the so-called Orenburg Line was con­ structed. At the time work was started on the new Trans-Kama Line in the summer of 1732, the service men from the old line and 3,000 recruits from Kazan District were assigned to the construction.57 To settle and man the garrisons in the new line the administration decided to organize four land-militia regiments, three mounted and one foot, from the “Service Men of the Old Service," includ­ ing those who were state peasants as well as those of the eight ex­ ceptional towns who held their old status. The state peasants who before 1724 had been gentry, soldiers, dragoons, cavalrymen, and lancers (kopeishchiki) were on recruitment to be restored to their previous status.58 They remained subject to the poll tax.59 From this group of 29,000 males, one person out of thirty was to be recruited for the new regiments. The other group, not subject to the poll tax, numbered approximately 5,000 males, from which number all capable of service were to be recruited.60 For the support of the four regiments the government ordered a fund of 48,000 rubles be set up, although the actual appropriation amounted to only 46,196 rubles.61 Provisions were to be granted only when the troops were operating on distant campaigns. In 1733, although the new line was not complete, all four regi­ ments were ordered transferred to their new posts. Until its com­ pletion they were to work on the forts and outposts. In addition f.о the land-militia, 15,000 peasants from Kazan Gubernia, organ­ ized in two shifts, were recruited to work on the line. All received wages for this work, including the soldiers of the land-militia.62 Service men continued to form the core of the garrisons in such towns as Birsk, Menzelinsk, Samara, and Ufa.68 The composition of the forces in the southeastern territory was further complicated when the Orenburg Expedition was organ­ ized. Kirillov at that time proposed to include in his command one 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63.

PSZ, 8 ,517-18. Ibid., pp. 360-64; 12,691; Vitevskii, p. 279. Den, p. 18«. PSZ, 12,691-94; 8 ,659; 9 , 105. Ibid., 8, 950-52; 12,947. PSZ, 9, 21-23. Rychkov, Topografiia, i , 115; Den, p. 183.



battalion from the Ufa garrison regiment, Bashkir tarkhans, serv­ ice Tatars, and half of the companies of the gentry, Cossacks, and youths from Ufa and Menzelinsk.84 While he was in Ufa during the winter of 1734-35, Kirillov planned to reorganize the service men of Ufa and Menzelinsk into five dragoon companies. St. Pe­ tersburg rejected the suggestion, giving permission to form new companies only from nonservice men or from the sons of service men who had not yet entered service.8® Kirillov persisted in his proposal, and finally the government agreed to a plan similar to that of the land-militia. He received permission to recruit five companies from Ufa, Birsk, and Men­ zelinsk service men.88 The Bashkir war within a year forced the government to agree to the formation of as many companies as possible from Siberian youths, to be organized into a dragoon reg­ iment called the Orenburg Dragoon Regiment.87 At the same time service men from Ufa, Birsk, and Menzelinsk were to be recruited into the Ufa Dragoon Regiment.88 These regiments were subse­ quently organized and sent to garrisons. The troops of the two reg­ iments, according to the terms of the decree on the poll tax, did not pay poll tax because they were subject to general service.89 As the decision to build the Orenburg Line nullified the new Trans-Kama Line, which had not yet been completed, the landmilitia regiments of the new Trans-Kama Line were ordered trans­ ferred to the Orenburg fortresses.6 46578970 Because they had been ordered to move twice within a few years, the land-militia had had little opportunity to develop farms and had to rely on the government for support.71 Tatishchev’s plan for the immediate resettlement of the land-militia regiments was not realized because of the Bashkir uprising.72 During Urusov’s administration (1739-40) the government or64. PSZ, 9, 317. 65. Ibid., pp. 50&-09; 12,691®. 66. Ibid., 9, 508-09; 12, 692. 67. Ibid., 12,692. 68. Ibid.; Rychkov, Topografiia, 2, 198-203. See also, PSZ, 10, 870, 883; 11, i2of; 12, 692. 69. Ibid., 12,691®. 70. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 32. See also, PSZ, 10,412. 71. PSZ, 12, 947. 72. Ib id .,/0,411.



dered the garrisoning of all fortresses from the Volga to the Si­ berian Line with the land-militia, Cossacks, and other “Service Men of the Old Service.” Each garrison was to have no less than two companies, and the regiments were to be distributed over a distance of no more than 100 versts.73 Later three dragoon regi­ ments were settled in nine forts built along the Sakmara River.74 The same decree states that 3,000 households of the “Service Men of the Old Service” were to be settled along the Orenburg Line. By 1740 little had been accomplished on the Sakmara River. As a result, the transfer of troops proceeded slowly, not being com­ pleted until 1744.7576 In view of the weaknesses of the defenses along the lower Ural, Tatishchev in 1739 proposed that a line of additional forts be built in this region.73 Because there were not enough Ural Cossacks to provide sufficient troops for the garrisons, he recommended that troops be supplied from the Kazan garrison and supplemented by gentry and Cossacks from Samara. The Ural Cossacks feared the new settlers and settlements would interfere with their fishing in­ dustry and offered to build two forts and supply the troops them­ selves. The final decision in the matter was not made until 1743 when the Cossacks were granted their request.77 In addition to the Ural Cossacks there were several similar groups in the southeastern territory. According to the chart Kiril­ lov composed in 1736 of existing and proposed forts and settle­ ments along the Samara and Ural rivers, there were 445 Cossacks stationed in the area. Another 424 were located in Tabynsk and ^Krasnoufimsk, for a total of 86g.78 This number increased until by 1755 there were approximately 4,ooo,79 including the Samara, Ufa, and Isetsk Cossacks. Like the other frontier towns. Samara had originally been set­ tled by service people and Cossacks.80 Alekseevsk, an outlying town administered from Samara, when founded in 1700 had 100 Cos73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80.

Ibid., p. 868; Den, fn. 1, p. 188, says the figure 100 versts must be a misprint. PSZ,io, 868. Ibid., 12,52,69iff; Den, pp. 15s, 19s. PSZ, 10, 707. Ibid., i i , 787ft See Appendix I. Vitevskii, p. 861, fn. g. Rychkov, Topografiia, 2,103-05.



sacks in its garrison.81 All the service men were assigned to the Trans-Kama Line Command when the new line was started in 1732. At that time there were eighteen gentry, fifteen non-Russians, and 335 Cossacks in Samara.8283Tatishchev in 1739 proposed that they be sent to the new Orenburg Line, because the Trans-Kama garrisons were too far from the frontier.88 When Kirillov arrived in Ufa in 1734 the garrison there in­ cluded approximately 300 Cossacks. He took half of them with him to Orenburg. During 1735-36 four new forts were built in the Ufa area: Eldiatsk, Krasnoufimsk, Tabynsk, and Nagaibatsk. Informa­ tion on the number of Cossacks stationed in these forts at this time is obscure, but by 1760 there were 500 in the first three.84 T he Cossacks in Nagaibatsk were of varied origins. There were Moslems, heathens, and Christians recruited from the non-Russian peoples in the area. Even a few Persians, Arabs, Afghans, and oth­ ers who had been rescued from captivity in Kazakhstan and had become Christians, were represented.8586The Christian elements oc­ cupied Bashkir land for which they paid quitrent to their Bashkir landlords. They were also obligated to pay tribute to the state. In 1736, as a reward for their loyalty to the regime, they were granted title to the land they occupied and were released from the tribute payments. At the same time they were enrolled in service as Cos­ sacks.88 Kirillov settled 261 in Tabynsk and 19 in Buzuluk.87 By the late 1740s their numbers had increased to 1,359. Service to the state was performed in return for a grant of land. They received money and provisions only when they were out on campaigns more than 100 versts from home.88 Under the exigencies of the Bashkir revolt, the numbers of serv­ ice men, land-militia, and Cossacks were not sufficient. The ad­ ministration sought other sources of troops, such as exiles. Exiles until then had been sent to Siberia. In 1736 they were first sent to Kirillov for use in the Orenburg area. Any surpluses over and 81. 8г. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88.

Ibid. Denyp. 209. PSZ, 10,407. See also, PSZ, 10,412. Rychkov, Topografiia, 2, 209-13; Istoriia, pp. 115, 125. Rychkov, Topografia, 1 ,190-92. Den, p. 211; PSZ, 9 , 743. See Appendix I. Den, p. 211; PSZ, 12, 758ff, for example.



above his needs were to be sent on to Siberia.8990A table compiled in October 1736 indicates that 125 of such exiles had become Cos­ sacks.00 From 1739 exiles to this area were accompanied by their wives and children.91 Because many of the exiles sent were, for rea­ sons of age or other causes, not suitable for regular service, in 1740 a decree stated that only those capable of service should be sent.02 In point of numbers, runaway peasants were the greatest source of Cossack recruits. During the war the central administration re­ laxed its attitude toward refugees in the Orenburg area. Early in 1736 Kirillov was given authority to enroll them as Cossacks.93 Many were also taken into the regular army units. A 1741 account­ ing of runaways who were serving in the regular and Cossack units of the Orenburg Line indicates that of a total number of 5,154 en­ listed runaways, 2,779 were former Court peasants, 591 were for­ mer Church peasants, 308 private peasants, 54 runaways from com­ mercial establishments, and 1,422 from various other ranks. Not until the 1740s were renewed attempts made to return the run­ aways to their owners.94 One of the largest groups of early settlers along the middle Ural came from the Ukraine. Tatishchev permitted 2,000 Ukrainians who claimed to be free persons not on the poll tax rolls to settle in the Orenburg area. Many of them proved subsequently to be run­ aways. For this reason the administration issued several decrees prohibiting serfs from migrating.95 Only those who had passports permitting them to resettle were to be accepted.96 In 1740 Urusov $ent a recruiter to the Ukraine to enlist people for the Orenburg Line.07 The Ukrainians responded so enthusiastically that another decree was issued which limited the number of emigrants to onefourth of any one village.98 In the Ukraine, officials were compelled to place restrictions on emigration, in addition to those placed on 89. PSZ,p, 748-49. 90. Rychkov, Istoriia, 26-27. See also, PSZ, 9, 743. 91. PSZ, 10, 883. 92. Ibid., i i , 105-06. 93. Ibid., p, 748-49. 94. Den, pp. 22iff. T he classifications “Court,” “Church,” and “landlord” in reference to peasants refer to the owners of the estates from which the peasants fled. 95. PSZ, 10,414, 870-71. 96. Ibid. 97. Ibid., i i , 14-15. 98. Ibid., pp. 117-18.



the recruiters." Only one-fourth of each hundred Cossacks could emigrate. T he Meshcheriaks formed an important component of the Rus­ sian forces. In 1734 they were registered in a special book and the terms of their service indicated.99100 The Orenburg Expedition in­ cluded 600 Meshcheriaks in its original composition. During the course of the Bashkir revolt some were enrolled as Cossacks and others were settled around the new forts, such as Tabynsk. For their loyalty to the state they were granted title to the Bashkir land they occupied and freed of their quitrent payments in 1736.101 The government did not fully carry out this promise, because in 1738 a decree again limited their right to occupy and purchase Bashkir land.102103In another decree in 1739 the Meshcheriaks were given the choice of paying quitrent as they had formerly, or of living on un­ occupied land in the “rebel” areas.108 These changes were called forth by the fear of antagonizing Russia’s Bashkir allies. Exact figures on the number of Meshcheriaks in Bashkiria at this time are impossible to obtain because no thorough census was taken until the late 1760s. Rychkov, on the basis of statistics available to him, gives the figure of 1,531 Meshcheriak households in 1745.104105A later counting around 1760 indicates a figure of 8.8 persons per household.106 If this figure of persons per household can be considered to have remained fairly constant, then by the middle of the 1740s there were approximately 13,000 Meshcheriaks of both sexes. Teptiars and Bobyls served as laborers in the southeast. Kirillov proposed that a force be recruited from among them for construct­ ing the facilities of the Orenburg Defensive Line.100 How many actually participated in this work from 1735 to 1740 is impossible to determine, but in 1745 out of 5,655 households 707 were as­ signed to labor service.107 They, too, were granted title to their 99. Ibid., p. 459. 100. Ibid., 9, 335. 101. Dobrosmyslov, Trudy, pp. 60-63. 102. PSZ, 10,444f. 103. Ibid., p. 870. 104. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 82. 105. Rychkov, Topografiia, 1, gaff. T he high number probably indicates that household servants were included. 106. PSZ, 9, 317. See also, PSZ, 9, 325. 107. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 82.

i6 8


land in 1736 for loyal service, but the decrees of 1738 and 1739 placed the same restrictions on them in possessing Bashkir land as had been placed on the Meshcheriaks.108 Kirillov's imperfect census of these people in 1734-35 gives the figure of 11,294 males.109 T hat their numbers were increasing rapidly because of continuing flight from the mid-Volga region is evident from the count made ap­ proximately ten years later. At that time their numbers had more than doubled to 28,637 males.110 Bashkir tarkhans have been mentioned frequently in the pages above. Kirillov enrolled 700 tarkhans in 1734 but only 100 actually appeared to participate in the expedition. Like the Meshcheriaks, they were registered in a special book in 1734.111 Because of some defections on their part during the uprising, Kirillov and Rumian­ tsev considered abolishing the rank; but this step was never taken.112*In addition to the tarkhans, a considerable proportion of the Bashkir population allied itself with the Russians. By 1740 ap­ proximately 40 percent of the Russian forces under the command of the Bashkir Commission were the so-called “loyal Bashkirs."118 On the basis of incomplete counts in 1739, 1743-45, and in the early 1750s, the total number of Bashkirs was approximately 100,000: 86,384 in Ufa Province and 19,792 in Isetsk Province. Of this number some 1,500 households were headed by tarkhans. These figures did not include two subdistricts (volosts) in Kazan Gubernia and two in the Osinsk Doroga.114156*In considering these figures it is well to keep in mind the fact that more than 30,000 Bashkirs had been killed, executed, or deported during the years 1735-40-118 From the above it can be seen that the administration drew troops from many sources. A reasonably good clue in assessing the roles played by the various groups is given in a report made by the head of the Bashkir Commission in June 1740 on the number of troops in Bashkiria.110 He stated that 4,267 regular troops and 108. PSZ, 10, 444-45, 870. 109. Den, p. 500. 110. Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 85. i n . PSZ, 9, 555. 11s. Ibid., jo, 870. 115. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,431-33. 114. Den, pp. 277-80; Rychkov, Istoriia, p. 82; Topografiia, 1, 92-93. 115. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 55-56. 116. Materialy BASSR, 1 ,431-33. T he differing totals Teveal only part of the shaky arithmetic.



7,045 irregulars, a total of 11,31«, were available to him. The tab­ ulation of the various elements follows: Troops from the Kazan garrison dragoon regiment Troops from the Ufa dragoon regiment Troops from the Orenburg dragoon regiment Troops from the Siberian dragoon regiment Dragoons from various regiments [not specified] Troops from the Sheshminsk land-militia dragoon regiment Troops from a Kazan foot battalion stationed in Ufa Troops from the Kazan garrison foot regiment Troops from the Ufa garrison foot regiment Siberian grenadiers Troops from various foot regiments [not specified] Ufa, Krasnoufimsk, and Tabynsk Cossacks Isetsk peasant Cossacks Nagaibatsk Cossacks—Christians Non-Christians Kungursk Tatars and Cheremis and others Meshcheriaks and Service Tatars Okunevsk peasants Bashkirs Total

934 9«3 200 100 600 781 434 38 35 182 40 313 200 130 70 903 799 100 4*455 11,237

This force included only the troops under the Bashkir Commis­ sion. The Sheshminsk land-militia troops from the Trans-Kama Line, the Orenburg troops, the troops from Kazan, and the Sibe­ rian soldiers in the list had been assigned to the Bashkir Commis­ sion temporarily during the war. The same report gives the disposal of the troops in Bashkiria. Approximately 10,000 were in the field and approximately 1,300 manned the foreposts in the interior of the territory. Another report from Soimonov a month later indi­ cated that units other than these had been sent out into the field from the Orenburg Line. Specifically, a detachment of 100 dra­ goons, 200 Ural Cossacks, and 500 loyal Bashkirs; a detachment of 100 dragoons, 200 Ural Cossacks, and 70 Bashkirs; a detachment of 300 Bashkirs under an elder; and a detachment of Ural Cossacks of unstated number are mentioned.117 From these documents it is evident that the garrisons in the towns and outposts of the Trans117. Ibid., pp. 441-50.



Kama Line, of the Orenburg Line, of the Siberian Line, and in the towns along the Volga are not included in the accounting. Therefore, the number of troops stationed or operating in the re­ gion can be considerably increased over the figures reported above. In British North America, the white colonists made little at­ tempt to assimilate the natives to the European way of life, or to integrate the native cultures into Anglo-American society. The British government and later the United States federal government adopted frontier policies based upon the principle of exclusion, rather than the principle of inclusion which guided Russian rela­ tions with the native peoples of Bashkiria, Siberia, and other fron­ tier regions. This difference in principles was reflected in military strategy. British and United States forces used cooperative Indian allies as scouts, and in critical situations the aid of Indian auxiliaries was sometimes welcomed by Anglo-American field commanders. But the idea of recruiting large numbers of friendly Indians to serve in the army against hostile tribesmen, to be supported and supplied with arms by the government, seldom received serious considera­ tion by British or United States authorities.118 Russia’s frontier military strategy offers a direct contrast. T o a major degree the colonial areas were conquered for Russia by the natives of those areas. The government did not hesitate to use such wild outlaw groups as the Cossacks, who were tamed and subjected to govern­ ment direction through force and bribery, and used effectively in лthe colonial areas. Necessity dictated the use of any and all avail­ able manpower on the frontier, for the central administration could spare few regular troops from the far more important fronts in the west and in the war against the Turks. Despite the hodge­ podge nature of the Russian military forces in Bashkiria, they were organized by Russian commanders into a formidable array of power. W ithout such a policy the slow conquest of Bashkiria would have been long delayed. The major military accomplishment of the Russians in this area was the establishment of a strong defensive line, the Orenburg 118. T he French and especially the Spanish policies in the New W orld, it may be remarked, demonstrate far greater similarity to Russian frontier policies. These similarities help to explain the relatively greater success of the Spanish and French, as compared with the Anglo-Americans, in extending their domains in the New World during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.



Line, which gave Russia firm control of the Southeastern Frontier Region and prepared the way for the next advance toward the longsought goal of Central Asia. Kirillov’s table of fortified points, compiled early in 1736, shows his concentration on the middle Ural and Samara rivers. (See Ap­ pendix I.) Of the twenty-one names listed (excluding Samara and Alekseevsk which were built earlier), thirteen were along this line: Orenburg, Guberlinsk, Ozemaia, Srednii, Berdsk, Krylov, Karaulnyi, Verkhnii, Sorochinsk, Totsk, Buzuluk, Borsk, and Krasnosamarsk. The first six were along the Ural and the last seven along the Samara. The remaining eight were in the interior or Bashkiria: Tabynsk, Krasnoufimsk, Eldiatsk, Kubovsk, Kalmytsk Ford, Miassk, Kyzyltashsk, and Chebarkulsk. Eight of these twenty-one were either not actually established or soon abandoned, as they do not appear in later listings: Srednii, Krylov, Karaulnyi, Verkhnii, Ku­ bovsk, Kalmytsk Ford, Miassk, and Kyzyltashsk. Strangely, three which were actually founded and continued to exist were not re­ corded. They were Verkhneuralsk, the first fort built by Kirillov, in 1734; Karagaisk, built in 1735;119120 and Nagaibatsk, built in 1736.129 Tatishchev built five new forts, four along the Samara and mid­ dle Ural: Elshansk, Tevkelev Ford, Perevolotsk, and Chemorechensk. The other, Etkulsk, was built in the interior of Bash­ kiria.121 Urusov added only two forts during his administration, one on the Kutuluk River 25 versts from Borsk, in the Samara Line,122 and one on the River Chebakla not far from Fort Guber­ linsk.123 Both he and Tatishchev inspected sites for, and planned to construct, additional forts along the upper course of the Ural and eastward to connect with the Siberian Line. The new defensive line of forts, redoubts, and outposts, as rec­ ommended by Tatishchev, was to stretch across the southern boundary of Bashkiria from the Volga along the Samara River, along the Ural to Orsk, up the Ural to Verkhneuralsk, from there along the Ui River to Tsarev on the Tobol River, connecting them with the Siberian Line which ran eastward across southern Sibe119. 120. 121. 122. 123.

Rychkov, Topografiia, 2, 148. Ibid., p. 205. Ibid., pp. 128-29; Vitevskii, p. 161; Den, p. 171, fn. $. Rychkov, Topografiia, 2, 124. Ibid., pp. 139-40.



ria. This great defensive line would have sealed off the steppe no­ mads from Russian colonial territory. Plans were also made to ex­ tend the line down the Ural to its mouth, preventing the nomads from reaching and crossing the lower Volga. A table of forts and outposts compiled by Rychkov some time between 1744 and 1750 gives a list of forts as of that time and re­ flects in some detail the plans of Tatishchev and Urusov as they were later realized.124 (See Appendix II.) C o n c l u s io n s

By the time of Urusov's death in 1740 the original objectives of the Orenburg Expedition were far from achieved. Russia eventu­ ally realized the aims of the project in three phases: (1) the incor­ poration of Bashkiria into the Russian Empire, (2) the annexation of Kazakhstan, and (3) the conquest of Central Asia. These three general developments correspond to the overly ambitious goals established by Peter the Great when he first attacked the problems of subduing the Bashkirs, curbing Kazakh raids on Russian terri­ tory, developing the economic resources of the frontier territories and Central Asia, and increasing trade with Khiva, Bukhara, and India. Peter's method was to strike to the heart of each problem in the grand manner, particularly in Central Asia. When the Bekovich and Bucholtz expeditions failed as outright attempts to seize Central Asia, he realized that there were many obstacles between him and success. He considered the Kazakhs the first barrier. 'After Peter's death, when the Kazakhs, under pressure from sur­ rounding enemies, turned to Russia for aid, the government thought it saw an opportunity to annex Kazakhstan as a first step in acquiring Central Asia. Kirillov drew up a plan that spelled out in detail Peter's general aims, and the Orenburg Expedition was launched to carry them out. But even Kirillov's less grandiose ap­ proach proved overly ambitious. The great Bashkir war which be­ gan when the Bashkirs learned of the new advance into their terri­ tory forced Kirillov and his successors to direct their attention above all to the subjugation of Bashkiria. As a result, up to and through the administration of Urusov, dealings with the Kazakhs and the relations with Central Asia took second place. By building the Orenburg Defensive Line the government finally surrounded 124. Rychkov, Istoriia, pp. 76-77.



Bashkiria, compelled the Bashkirs to submit to Russian authority, and incorporated the territory into the Empire, as was reflected a few years later, in 1744, in the organization of Orenburg Gu­ bernia. This achievement, the first successful step in the accom­ plishment of Peter's aims, is the subject of the preceding chapters. The annexation of Kazakhstan and the conquest of Central Asia, the next steps, were not to take place until a century later. T o sum up, the Southeastern Frontier was an extensive region inhabited by nomadic and seminomadic peoples, ethnically distinct from the Slavs, some devoted to Islam, and culturally resistant to Russian influence. In forcibly penetrating this region the Russian state carried out an imperial policy much like that of other Euro­ pean powers of the same era in other parts of the world. The gen­ eral policy, adopted in answer to the resistance of the colonial peoples, was force in the case of the Bashkirs. The Kazakhs re­ mained beyond Russian control until much later. Russians were motivated by much the same complex mixture of economic inter­ est, desire for strategic position, and belief in their own moral and cultural superiority as were the other European imperialistic peo­ ples of the age. T he method by which the Russians accomplished the incorpora­ tion of Bashkiria into the Empire was fundamentally military con­ quest. Because of limited resources they resorted also to diplomacy. Skillfully playing on the mutual hostilities of the various peoples, they used the colonials themselves to accomplish their purposes. T he leaders within the tribal groups were attracted over to the Russian side by favors and privileges. Technological superiority and greater organizational efficiency added the last ingredient which made Russian victory inevitable.

Appendix I

KIRILLOV S CHART (1736) N um - __ , Name ber

500 Along Ural 344 >50 3 >53 44 44 100 100 50 44 44 60 300 *03 46 22 *4 5 97 44 44 40 200 200 44 44 40 200 1 I >99 44 44 60 300 3 3 297 40 100 100 Along Samara 44 44 100 100 35 44 44 40 200 200 44 44 40 200 1 1 >99 44 44 400 19 6 45 >56 244 41 44 44 .. 52 44 44 48 200 168 30 30 42 These towns were established earlier and are already settled with service gentry and Cossacks. Adminis­ 25 tratively they were subordinate to Simbirsk Province, but are now in the Land-militia Command. 621 3,000 169 12 20 [sic] 41 >74 445 ;2»555 87

14 Tabynsk—to be enrolled into Cossacks (exiles) land tillers (Cossacks) 15 Krasnoufimsk—newly registered Cossacks

16 Eldiatsk 17 Kubovsk 18 19 20 21

Where stationed


Orenburg Guberlinsk Ozemaia Srednii Berdsk Krylov Karaulnyi Verkhnii Sorochinsk Totsk Buzuluk Borsk Krasnosamarsk Alekseevsk Samara

Ural Ufa Nec­ Ufa essary Tatars _ .. . Exties Total addi­ Cossacks Sakmarsk Kalm>ks Misc‘ and Cossacks tions Nogais


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ii 12 13

Distance Required to Number next of town Cossacks





>9 186



113 [sic] 208 >9 4*4

Inside Bashkiria

T he num ber of irregulars not yet determined. However, in these places few will be required because there are already a sufficient number of Meshcheriaks.

Kalmytsk Ford—Siberian side of the Orenburg Line Miassk Kyzyltashsk T he num ber of irregulars is not yet determined; but, according to the decree of H er Imperial Highness, Chebarkulsk Cossacks recruited from among Siberian youths have been designated.

Appendix II

TABLE OF FORTS AND OUTPOSTS IN T H E ORENBURG LINE (Compiled between 1744-50) From the mouth of the Ural to the Head: 1. G ur’ev-mouth of Ural, Astrakhan Gubernia



4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.


îa. 13. 14.

Foreposts 1. Korovei Iar a. Sarpachik 3. Sarachikov 4. Baksaev 5. Topolevoi 6. Zelenoi Kolok Kulgin 7. Marinkin 8. Bigirdinskoi 9. Kharkin 10. Cherchukhanov Kalmykov 11. Romanov 18. Antonov 13. Kamennye oreshki 14. Sakhamoi 15. Mergenev 16. Sundaev 17. Kozhakharov 18. Budarin Uralsk Iletsk Razsypnaia Fortress Tatishchevsk Fortress Chemorechensk Fortress Berdsk Orenburg Redoubts Nezhinsk Viazovoi Krasnogorsk Fortress Volodimerskoi Gil’iarskoi Ozemaia Fortress Nikol’skoi IPinsk Fortress Podgornoi Guberlinsk Razboinoi

Distance in versts from Orenburg

From place to place

863 820 796 786 761 735 715 693 673 655 619 599 576 548 518 491 474 432 407 383 359 274 124 99 58 aa 7

43 24 10 25 26 ao aa ao 18 36 ao 23 28 30 *7 17 4* 25 *4 24 85 150 *5 41 24 —

*7 49 70 78 81 109 159

_ -

17 3* 24 8 18 ao 25 25 25 *5

APPENDIXES 15. Orsk Kalpatskoi Teraklinskoi 16. Tanalytsk Fortress Berezovskoi 17. Urdasymsk Fortress Urdasymskoi Griaznushinskoi 18. Kyzilsk Fortress Syrtenskoi Iaigel’skoi 19. Magnitnaia Fortress Verkhnei Rizilskoi Spasskoi so. Verkh-Uralsk Fortress [Verkhneuralsk]

177 236

40 20

439 454

*5 *5 »5

»9 *5 *5 *5

19 »5

From Verkhneuralsk landing eastward Redoubt Siiazskoi 1. Uklykaragaisk Fortress Erzedinskoi

12 20 20

Along the Ui River 2. Uisk Fortress Kadyzhskoi 3. Stepnaia Podgomoi Sanarskoi 4. Troitsk Fortress Kliuchevskoi 5. Karakulsk Fortress Berezovskoi 6. Krutoiarsk Fortress Lugovoi 7. Ust’-Uisk Fortress (at m outh of Ui) Kachardyskoi Ozemoi

22 22

*3 *5 *5 «5 26