#1: Korb on Russia
#2 Peter's Decrees on Dress and Shaving
#3: Documents on Gentry Service and the new Officer Corps
#4: Pososhkov's Book on Poverty and Wealth
#5: Testament of Patriarch Joachim
#6: Documents of Popular Reaction to Peter's Decrees
#7: F.C. Weber on the Founding of St. Petersberg
J. G. KORB ON
IN 1698-1699 RUSSIA
Johann Georg Korb was a secretary to C. von Guarient, the imperial envoy to
in 1698-99, and was thus an eyewitness to the suppression of the strel'tsy rebellion. In 1700, or early in 1701, he published, in Moscow Vienna, the diary of his sojourn in , to which he appended a general report on Russian affairs. Russia
Reference: Johann G. Korb, Diary of an Austrian Secretary of Legation at the Court of Peter the Great, ed. and trans. Count Macdonnell, 2 vols. (London, 1863), 1: 154-156, 163, 179-80, 192-93, 241; 2:154-55.
September 5 : The report of the tsar's arrival [from abroad] had spread through the city. The boyars and principal Muscovites flocked in numbers ... to pay their court. ... His Majesty the tsar received all who came, with an alacrity that made it seem as if he wished to be foremost among his subjects in eagerness. Those who, according to the fashion of that country, cast themselves upon the ground to worship majesty, he lifted up graciously from their groveling posture and embraced with a kiss, such as is only due among private friends. If the scissors that were plied promiscuously among the beards of those present can be forgiven the injury they did, the Muscovites may truly reckon that day among the happiest of their lives. Prince Aleksei Semenovich Shein, field marshal of the tsar's troops, was the first who submitted the encumbrance of his long beard to the scissors. Nor can they consider it any disgrace, as their sovereign is the first to show the example-their sovereign, to whose wish or command they deem it a holy and religious act to devote their lives. Nor was there anybody left to laugh at the rest, for they all shared the same fate....
September 14: ... The Danish envoy piqued himself greatly on his victory, vaunting that he had been allowed the precedence because he was the first who had the honor of kissing hands. As these rivals [the Danish and the Polish envoys] were ambitiously contending about precedence, neither willing to be second to the other, the tsar, in indignation, made use of a word familiar to the Muscovites to express a deficiency of the mind, calling them duraki [fools]....
October 6-7: ... Such horrible accounts of
the tortures administered daily [to the strel'tsy
rebels] reached the patriarch that he thought it his duty to exhort the angered
tsar to gentleness. He thought the best thing was to take an image of the most
blessed Virgin, the sight of which might remind him of the common lot of man
and bring back the common feelings of pity to a mind that was almost
degenerating into savagery. But the weights of real justice
with which His Majesty the tsar measured the magnitude. of this heinous crime were not to be altered by this
exhibition of sham piety. For it had come to that pass that
October 27: ... All the boyars and magnates who were present at the council that had decreed to fight against the rebel strel'tsy, this day were summoned to a new tribunal. A criminal was set before each, and each had to carry out with the ax the sentence he had passed. Prince Romodanovskii, who was chief of four regiments of strel'tsy before their revolt, laid four strel'tsy low with the same weapon--His Majesty urging him to it. The more cruel Aleksashka [Alexander Menshikov] went boasting of twenty heads that he had chopped off. Golitsyn was unhappy at having greatly increased the criminal's suffering by striking poorly. Three hundred and thirty that were all led out together to the ax's fatal stroke empurpled the plain far and wide with civil -- 'tis true -- but impious blood. General Lefort and Baron von Blumberg were invited also to this executioner's duty but were excused on alleging that it was foreign from the manners of the countries they came from. The tsar himself, sitting in the judgment seat, looked on with dry eyes at the whole tragedy, at this frightful butchery of such a multitude of men, being only irate that many of the boyars had performed this unaccustomed function with trembling hands; for in his opinion no fatter victim could be immolated to God than a felon.
October 28: Today took place the execution of the priests -- that is to say, of such of them as, carrying the images of the blessed Virgin and Saint Nicholas to draw the common people to the side of the mutineers, had, with the customary prayers at the altar, invoked the help of God for the happy success of the impious plot....
February 4 : [Another mutiny of the strel'tsy had broken out near
The tsar's court: The former grand dukes made use of inestimable parade in their apparel and adornment, the majesty of the pontiff being superadded to that of the king. On the head they wore a miter, glittering with pearls and priceless gems; in the left hand they bore an exceedingly rich pastoral staff; their fingers were covered with rings of gold; as they sat upon the throne, on their right there was an image of Christ, and above them, one of the most holy Virgin Mother. The presence and antechambers were thronged with men clad in golden vesture and other precious insignia to the very feet.
But the present tsar, scorning all pomp and
ostentation about his own person, rarely makes use of that superfluous
multitude of attendants. Nor do the boyars or nobles about the court pride
themselves on their ornate garb of old, having learned by the example of the
grand duke that luxury in dress is an empty thing and that living in fine
houses does not constitute wisdom. The tsar himself, when going through his
capital, is often accompanied by only two, and at most three or four, of
his more intimate attendants; even in the perilous time of the military revolt
he was protected solely by the respect [of his subjects] for majesty.
PETER'S DECREES ON WESTERN DRESS AND SHAVING, 1701 AND 1705
Compulsory shaving and wearing of Western dress began, for the limited circle of the tsar's immediate entourage, soon after Peter's return from abroad in 1698. In the next two years these measures were spread to other strata of society, though they came to be somewhat modified by the fiscal needs of the treasury. These innovations, more than any others, had an immediate impact on the man in the street.
Reference: PSZRI, 1st ser., 4:182, 282-83.
The decree on "German" dress, 1701:
Western ["German"] dress shall be worn by all the boyars, okol'nichie, members of our councils and of our court ... gentry of Moscow, secretaries ... provincial gentry, deti boiarskie, gosti, government officials, strel'tsy, members of the guilds purveying for our household, citizens of Moscow of all ranks, and residents of provincial cities ... excepting the clergy (priests, deacons, and church attendants) and peasant tillers of the soil. The upper dress shall be of French or Saxon cut, and the lower dress and underwear [including] waistcoat, trousers, boots, shoes, and hats shall be of the German type. They shall also ride German saddles. [Likewise] the womenfolk of all ranks, including the priests', deacons', and church attendants' wives, the wives of the dragoons, the soldiers, and the strel'tsy, and their children, shall wear Western ["German"] dresses, hats, jackets, and underwear--undervests and petticoats--and shoes. From now on no one [of the abovementioned] is to wear Russian dress or Circassian coats, sheepskin coats, or Russian peasant coats, trousers, boots, and shoes. It is also forbidden to ride Russian saddles, and the craftsmen shall not manufacture them or sell them at the marketplaces. [Note: For a breach of this decree a fine was to be collected at the town gates: forty copecks from a pedestrian and two rubles from a mounted person.]
The decree on the shaving of beards and moustaches, January 16, 1705:
A decree to be published in
DOCUMENTS ON NOBLE SERVICE AND PETER'S NEW OFFICER CORPS, 1708-1722
The Russian noblility was forced to undergo rigorous retraining before it could provide enough competent junior commanders for the new regular army. The following selections show some of Peter's efforts to draw the nobility into active service through registration, inspections, and "reviews," which continued throughout the Northern War. Increasingly he came to rely on the Guards as a training pool for officers and men to whom he could entrust all kinds of tasks. The Guards were under constant personal supervision of Peter, whose relationship to some of the guardsmen is illustrated in his notes to his sister and to Saltykov.
Reference: M. I. Semevskii, ed., Arkhiv kniazia F. A. Kurakina, vol. I (St. Petersburg, 1890), p. 269; combat instructions: PBIPV, 7: 101; Peter to Tsarevna Nataliia Alekseevna: ibid., 9:78; Peter to Saltykov: ibid., 9:79; decree on promotion to officer rank, Feb. 26, 1714: PSZRI, 1st ser., 5:84-85; decree on registration of nobles: ibid., p. 125; decree on promotion of officers, Jan. 1, 1719: ibid., p. 607; decree on registration and inspection of nobles: ibid., 6:478.
From the autobiography of Prince B. 1. Kurakin:
That same year [1703-04] His Majesty held an
inspection of the service nobility. Some youngsters who seemed capable were
assigned to be officers; all other young men were to become cadets and later
dragoons. Older men were assigned to collect new taxes, and the rest were left
in the service, or available for various tasks; of these there remained
about two thousand. Then His Majesty examined the underage sons of the most
important persons and selected five or six hundred of them to be enlisted as
simple soldiers in the Preobrazhenskii and the Semenovskii regiments; I shall mention the scions of the
following illustrious families who are now serving in them: the princes Golitsyn, Cherkasskii, Khovanskii, and Lobanov, the Sheremetevs, and princes Urusov.
From Peter's Combat Instructions (Uchrezhdenie k boiu), March 10, 1708:
The chief generals should test in the field
[the combat efficiency of] each officer and each noncommissioned officer, first
individually and then in groups, simulating real battle conditions. If any one
of them shows himself unskilled, while a man of lower rank does better, then
let the senior man be demoted and the man of lower rank raised.
This justice will increase fear and eagerness in everybody. Whoever cheats
during these tests, may, in time, pay for it with his
A note from Peter to his sister, Tsarevna Nataliia Alekseevna, February 5, 1709:
Our major, Mr. Bartenev, has requested me to ask you to speak to the wife [widow] of Mr. Karpov and to persuade her to marry him, since courtship between them has been going on for a long time. Please do your best to bring this affair to successful conclusion. [Note: Major F. O. Bartenev of the Preobrazhenskii Regiment was one of Peter's aides-de-camp.]
A note from Peter to Peter Samoilovich Saltykov, the voevoda of
of our regiment has leave to go to
Peter's decree on promotion to officer rank, February 26, 1714:
Since there are many who promote to officer
rank their relatives and friends-young men who do not know the fundamentals of
soldiering, not having served in the lower ranks --and since even those who
serve [in the ranks] do so for a few weeks or months only, as a formality;
therefore ... let a decree be promulgated that henceforth there shall be no
promotion [to officer rank] of men of noble extraction or of any others who
have not first served as privates in the Guards. This decree does not apply to
soldiers of lowly origin who, after long service in the ranks, have received
their commissions through honest service or to those who are promoted on the
basis of merit, now or in the future; it applies exclusively to those who have
remained in the ranks for a short time, only as a formality, as described
Peter's decree on registration of nobles in the Senate, September 26, 1714:
We hereby announce to all the nobles that
they themselves, and their relatives between the ages of ten and thirty, must
appear at [the office] established here in
Peter's decree on promotion of officers, January 1, 1719:
1. No son of an officer or of a noble shall be admitted to any officer rank unless he has first served as a private soldier in the Guards; excepted [from this provision] are men of lowly origin who are promoted to officer rank in the army regiments.
2. No one is to be promoted skipping a rank, but each must follow the regular order from rank to rank.
3. Vacancies are to be filled by ballot, with
two or three candidates [presented for each vacancy].
Peter's decree on registration and inspection of nobles, January 11, 1722:
[Since many have failed to heed last year's
repeated orders on registration and inspection of nobles, we hereby
announce and enjoin by this final decree: Nobles [shliakhetstvo]
of every kind and retired officers [as well as half of those on active
duty, as specified in previous orders, except those serving in Astrakhan' and
Siberia] shall go to Moscow to report to Stol'nik Kolychev not later than January 31 of this year in
accordance with previous decrees. All those who fail to report their arrival
and appear for inspection shall be disgraced and considered unfit for the
society of decent people; if anyone should rob, injure, or deprive such a
person of anything, no petition shall be entertained from him, or on his behalf
if he is murdered, and no court shall give him redress; his movable and
immovable property shall be forfeited to us unconditionally.... Lists of all
these shirkers shall be printed and posted on the gallows on the square, so
that everyone would know them as guilty of contempt of decrees, like
traitors.... Those who detect and bring such a shirker [to justice] shall
receive one half of his movable and immovable property, no matter what their
rank, even if they are his own serfs. [A special extension is granted to the
old and the infirm.]
POSOSHKOV'S BOOK ON POVERTY AND WEALTH, 1724
Pososhkov summed up his experience, criticism of the social and economic order, and recommendations in A Book on Poverty and Wealth (Kniga o skudosti i bogatstve), which he completed in 1724. It was first published only in 1842.
I.T. Pososhkov, Kniga o skudosti i bogatstve (Moscow: AN SSSR, 1937), pp. 100, 10 1, 118, 161-63, 171, 173, 179, 192, 200-01, 215, 253-54.
Also included are sections from the edition edited and translated by A.P. Vlasto and L. R. Lewitter: The Book of Poverty and Wealth by Ivan Pososhkov,
: Athlone Press, 1987 [hereafter marked in citation as "Vlasto's]. London
Pososhkov, Preface: The wealth of the realm consists not in the amount of money stored in the tsar's treasury, nor in the gold-embroidered attire of His Majesty's courtiers. The real wealth of the realm consists in the entire people being rich in household goods that it needs rather than in external garb with lace trimmings. For these trimmings enrich not us but the states from which they are imported, while they drain our wealth....
It seems to me that it would be no great achievement and would, in fact, be quite easy to fill the tsar's coffers with riches; for, within his sphere, the tsar, like God, can do as he pleases. But it is a great and very difficult task to make the whole people rich, for no measures to enrich the people will suffice unless justice is instilled, and oppressors, thieves, robbers, and all kinds of open and hidden despoilers are exterminated.
Vlasto: Chapter 1 "Of the Clergy"
If there continue to be among the clergy men without education and proficiency in Holy Writ, uninstructed in the fundamentals of the Christian faith and without understanding of the will of God; moreover, if any are drunkards or prone to any other kind of excess or misconduct, then our pure Christian faith will be wholly corrupted and emptied of meaning, and men will fall away from the ancient unity of our faith into divers sects and all kinds of heretical beliefs.
A great part of the Russian people has
already fallen into mortal heresies owing to the laxity of the priesthood. For
many have strayed into the way of perdition; few are those who still adhere to
our ancient faith. Thus, in
This evil is entirely due to the priests for they are too ignorant to save themselves from the Lutheran and Roman heresies, and even from the most foolish beliefs of the schismatics; whereas it is their priestly duty to denounce these things and teach the people how to order their lives and escape the bottomless pit of Hell. But the priests either cannot or dare not be steadfast in their faith, or else they are mercenary or indifferent. 0 Lord my God, do not hold these words of mine in judgment against me, that I have dared to write disparagingly of the spiritual counsellors set over me. I myself am in nothing perfect either before God or before my Sovereign, or before the people; holding the convictions that I do, I merely conceived the hope that God might cause some improvement to come of this exposition of mine.
Since there are such shortcomings in the priesthood it behoves us to exert ourselves most earnestly to ensure that our priests should be the mainstay of true religion, a bulwark against heresies, a defence against the wolves of Hell, and should be able to turn the people of God away from the gates of damnation. Priests should be like Christ's Apostles: they should have no thought for their own well-being, or for riches, or for what they eat, but only for the salvation of human souls. For God shall hold them to account for all lost souls.
For the improvement of the priesthood it seems to me that His Imperial Majesty should take steps to have a grammar composed, ensuring that all is fairly and correctly set forth, together with the best possible commentary; and let it be sufficiently detailed for every obscure point to be clearly explained, so that the reader can learn all the cases and declensions, even without a teacher. And when so corrected, it should be printed in an edition of five or six thousand copies - perhaps ten thousand.
Some five or six thousand copies of a grammar have just been printed in Moscow, but the printers (God help them!) printed the book so poorly that it is impossible to make head or tail of the rules of orthography from it or to master them without the help of a teacher. What is more, they have used paper of the worst quality, which is good for nothing but rough drafts (at a pinch you might print calendars on that sort of paper, since they are only intended to last for one year). But a grammar is an important and permanent thing; it should be printed on the best paper so as to last.
Commodious schools should be built in every diocese, to which all the sons of priests, deacons, subdeacons and sacristans should be sent from the age of ten, both from the town and the country churches of each district. Should any fathers be unwilling to let their sons attend school, the boys must be taken there willy-nilly, to be taught their grammar and the other branches of book-learning.
And here an inviolable rule must be laid down: any who have not had this schooling nor learnt their grammar shall not be ordained priests and deacons. Further, any clerks in minor orders who aspire to the priesthood, even if they have already attained the age of thirty, shall attend the schools; as they will not have come to learn under compulsion they will progress fast in their studies, and they will be able to complete them in two or three years, since they will be working of their own free will and be eager to learn. Those who gain a firm grasp of Grammar, and are still young enough, should be put through Rhetoric too, and even Philosophy; such men will be suitable not only for the priesthood but even for a bishopric and can become teachers in their turn.
In this way the whole of
If it is generally understood that ordination will be refused to those who have not been educated in these schools, there will be no way for anyone aspiring to Holy Orders to avoid this schooling; and so I believe that ordinands will vie with one another in acquiring the necessary learning. Likewise, if no one be appointed archimandrite or abbot of a monastery without having had this schooling, many monks will also apply themselves to acquiring Grammar and the comprehension of books. The latter, as well as a knowledge of Grammar, should be demanded of those of riper years. So it is most necessary that monks should go to school to learn there, under a teacher of religion, to be initiated into all matters pertaining to religion and the fear of God, to learn to interpret the Scriptures and to acquire all the habits of a godly and sober life and skill in the disputations.
When they have mastered Grammar and acquired all other kinds of wisdom and a thorough knowledge of the Holy Scripture, pupils of these schools will be able to counter the arguments not only of the schismatics but also of the Lutherans and Romans and to silence them, seeing that all these have turned away from true Christianity and wander, like wild goats, in impenetrable thickets and in steep places difficult to climb. And so far have they strayed that they cannot find their way back to the true religion.
Once priests' sons and other clerks have learnt their Grammar and acquired a mastery of book-learning they will the more diligently care for their flocks so that the wolves of Hell shall not scatter them in terror.
But at present there are indeed many priests who, far from converting anyone from unbelief to faith, do not even know the meaning of the word "faith'; nor is that all -- there are some who do not know how to conduct the church services correctly. Nor is there any means to find this out: the officials of the Printing House have grown fat with much drinking and rich living and have no inclination to print a clear compendium of all the church services so that anyone can discover how each one is to be conducted. Thus only the priest who has served a fairly long time in a cathedral church or as assistant to a competent priest is capable of conducting such services correctly. No one who has not spent much time under such direction can hope to do so merely from books.
It would be best to print the order of every service clearly in the service books so that even an ordinary layman can understand how each service is to be conducted, whereas at present many priests conduct them by guesswork, according to their own lights. And it is not at all a good thing that this should be so; this uncertainty leads to so much disagreement, even in the town churches, that one is surprised at nothing in the country ones. So for perfect conduct of the church services detailed rubrics must be given in small print in the service books directing how a particular service or rite is to be begun, carried through and completed. If all this is clearly set forth every service will be conducted in an identical manner not only in the town churches but also in the country ones.
It will be impossible to achieve this perfect conduct of the church services unless two things are done: detailed rubrics for each office must be printed and teachers proficient in Grammar, monks as well as secular clergy, must be sent to the schools that have been built, and lay teachers also who are likewise skilled in book-learning, proficient in the offices of the whole Church year, well-versed in Holy Writ and able to expound all the difficult words.
The teachers of Grammar should give instruction before dinner, that is, in the forenoon. And in the afternoon the other teachers, who are proficient in Divinity, should teach their pupils the fear and reverence of God, and reading and ceremonial; further, how to know God, how to worship Him and to address one's prayers to Him, and with what awe the Holy Liturgy is to be conducted, how to raise one's understanding to God in the ritual of the Liturgy, and how to watch over one's spiritual flock, so that the wolves of Hell may not snatch them from the pasture. Moreover, the pupils should be provided with books to read in both alphabets, the ecclesiastical and the civil, and also historical works. Therefore it will be necessary to print a considerable quantity of Bibles and to send half a dozen copies to each school; and also copies of the Margarit, selections from the Church Fathers, the Gospels with commentary, the homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Lives of the Saints together with the Menologies and other books required for the services. Thus the pupils will learn at school all the offices of the church and their correct performance, before their ordination.
To confirm them in their faith and preserve them from the errors of the Lutherans and Calvinists and from other enemies of Orthodoxy, as many copies as requisite must be printed of The Rock of Faith, composed by His Grace Stefan Iavorskii, Metropolitan of Riazan', of blessed memory; let half a dozen copies be sent to every school and let those who aspire to the priesthood commit this most precious Rock to memory so that they may be able to quote the right answer in rebuttal of any argument; and likewise shall monks do who are desirous of living a holy life. And those who reach the dignity of episcopal rank should have this holy Rock upon their lips even more than a priest so that by their words they may break the jaws of the heretics with this same Rock.
For exposing schismatics we need the books entitled The Enquiry and The Manifest Mirror, which expose the perversions of the schismatics and clearly demonstrate all their errors, and also the book called The Sling, to chase them far away with spiritual stones shot from that same sling and to consign them to oblivion, so that they may not creep into the sheepfold of Christ's flock nor harm Christ's sheep. And if the aforesaid Enquiry, Sling and Mirror are accepted for printing, half a dozen copies of each should be sent to every school.
It would also be advantageous to print accounts of various other heretical beliefs - the Roman, the Uniate, the Armenian and such early extinct heresies as the Arian, the Nestorian, the Apollinarian, the Eutychian, the Severian and so forth, so that our pastors should be familiar with all these wily weapons of the Devil and know how to counter them. If our priests know the arguments of all these heretical beliefs and understand how to expose them and how to protect themselves from them, they can likewise protect their flocks from these wolves they detect them in others? That is why the Holy Apostle Paul wrote 'for there must be also heresies among you'. It is clear that he wrote this in order that we, by recognizing heresies, may be able to expose them and defeat them with their own weapons, and may be on our guard against them.
Pupils should read their books without haste and with the greatest attention so as to understand and remember what they read. And if any pupils do not read clearly, those who instruct them in reading must give them constant encouragement and help in reading intelligibly, and expound whatever they have not grasped. The instructor shall test each pupil separately on the books which they are reading, shall take note of his ability to recite by heart and shall keep a record in his class-book of each pupil's attainments. If any pupil fails to repeat correctly from memory he must be punished and made to study the text afresh. And if after reading it a second time he still cannot remember what he has read, then it is plain that he is not apt for the priesthood.
Those who read clearly and are seen to have a good memory shall be given the books of the church year to read, to wit the Menologies, the Triodion and the Oktoechos and so on, as used in the church services. And I believe it would be a good thing to give them chronicles to read too so that they may know about all that has happened in the past.
Further, the pupils should practise writing for an hour or so in the evenings after their reading class, so that all may be able to read and to write well both the formal and the cursive hand.
On Sundays they shall be ordered to hold disputations among themselves on subjects out of Holy Writ. And both teachers shall listen and note each pupil's intelligence and knowledge of Holy Writ and skill in argument; a record shall be kept of all this for future reference, and furthermore a note of each one's predilections, whether for the sacred or the secular. Any pupil whose inclinations are towards sacred matters and who capably expounds the sacred texts should be singled out and be given books to read about the priestly office; he must be the more diligently instructed how to care for the flock of Christ's sheep and his spiritual children in that flock.
And if the book entitled The Paternal Testament, which I wrote for my son Nicholas, be accepted for printing, then it would be well to recommend it to all ordinands since therein is set out among other things how a priest should perform his sacred duties. It sets forth not only how a priest, but also a simple monk, should live, and how on becoming an archimandrite he should care for the brethren and order his life; it rehearses the duties of a bishop; it shows how to extirpate the schismatics; how the laity may live a godly life and instruct their children so that they may be a credit to their father, live in love together, do what is right, love God and pray to Him and find favour with Him. All these things are set out therein so far as God has granted me ability to understand them.
When there is a vacancy for a priest in a parish one of these pupils shall be sent as incumbent, not thanks to family connections nor yet on account of the wealth of the parish or the wishes of the parishioners but with regard only to his understanding and his true worthiness for the priesthood. And both his teachers shall attest to the worthiness of the candidate that he is suitable for ordination.
And word should be sent to all bishops not to ordain any candidate without such a testimonial from his teachers. I cannot approve the present method by which the bishops test candidates: for the bishop's assistants accept gifts from the candidate, make him learn certain psalms by heart and then, having marked them in advance, see to it that he reads these same psalms to the bishop. Finding that he reads the Psalter with accuracy and intelligence, the bishop supposes that all his reading is of the same quality and so ordains him priest. In this way assistants lead their own bishops into wrongdoing.
I warned my son of this practice and wrote
in that same Testament that, should he become a bishop, he must not rely
on his assistants for the testing of candidates but must test each one in
person; he should not give them the Psalter to read from but unfamiliar books,
and should then examine them by word of mouth. It is easy to judge different capacities
from an examination of this kind. When I was in
A monk who aspires to the rank of archimandrite should be most thoroughly questioned by the bishop on his understanding of Holy Writ and whether he proposes to care for the brethren committed to his charge so that when he appears before God he may say 'Here am I and also the children whom Thou hast given me' - or whether he is merely concerned with his own salvation. In the latter case he is unworthy to be appointed archimandrite, for an archimandrite must have care not only for his monks but also for all the laymen under him and lead their steps in the way of salvation. And care must be taken to ensure that no aspirant to the rank of archimandrite is covetous for possessions, or addicted to drink, or inclined to fornication in order that as archimandrite he may not disgrace his position. Therefore enquiry should first be made of the brethren of his monastery and then of the laymen within its precincts. And if all praise him he should be raised to that rank provided that he has an adequate knowledge of Holy Writ.
And I warned my son in my Testament that a newly ordained priest who is not perfect in all the ritual must never be promoted from a subordinate position, so that no charges on account of the shortcomings of the priest may be made against his bishop.
In this Testament I also described (so far as God has given me ability) the priest's office in detail - how he should order all things, confess his spiritual children, care for the rich and the poor. For this reason I believe that my Testament will be very useful for the improvement of the priesthood. And if the son of the incumbent at any church wishes to succeed his father but shall be deemed unsuitable for ordination by his instructors, he must be refused even if there is a petition in his favour. Such priests' sons should be relegated to secular employment, while those who are unreceptive to book-teaming but pious and God-fearing may receive minor orders as subdeacons and sacristans. Those of somewhat higher attainment may be made deacons. But choose for the priesthood only those of proven worth, learned in Scripture and humble in character, that the same may be a light to the world, and not darkness. And those worthy of ordination, be they even the sons of sacristans or peasants, shall receive a cure of souls, but not by virtue of their father's position nor by influence. However, anyone who is equal to the task as to his faculties but unworthy as to his character, shall not be admitted to the priesthood nor to any other ecclesiastical office, but rather given employment in the offices of government or in any other capacity whatever excepting Holy Orders. And if anyone is otherwise of excellent character but prone to drink he shall on no account be chosen for the priesthood, for drunkenness is a grave fault in a priest and undesirable too in those in minor orders. It is harmful not only in newly ordained priests but also in those who have already grown old in the priesthood. The following rule should therefore be laid down: if any priest gets drunk and then in the street or in any public place shouts unbecomingly or swears or uses foul language or fights with anyone or sings songs, he shall be arrested and brought before the episcopal consistory. For such unbecoming conduct he shall be punished with labour on episcopal or monastic estates and further with a fine or unfrocking, or as the bishops may decide, as a warning that priests and deacons must not drink to excess. So if by any mischance a priest has got drunk, let him go to some private place and sleep it off; let it on no account be seen by the people that he is drunk. And if any priest or deacon, or worse still a monk, goes and drinks in a tavern or an inn he should receive double punishment so as not to bring shame on the spiritual estate.
If then the clergy can cure themselves of
such unbecoming conduct it will be like a new light shining in
To this end priests should exhort all their spiritual flock, whether in the towns or the countryside, to teach their young children to read and write and train them in good behaviour and forbid them most strictly to loiter or play in the streets. In order that this admonition may never be forgotten but that all parents may bring up their children in the fear of God, priests should reiterate it at every Confession.
If the life of the clergy is ordered thus enlightenment will shine forth among the whole people, for all will as it were awake from sleep under such perfect and loving care of their spiritual guides, seeing that all will fully understand how to know God, how to pray to Him, how to worship God's saints and call on them for help, and how to live a truly Christian life.
Thus then must our spiritual pastors care
for their flocks so that all men may live a righteous life. Far from
appropriating things that do not belong to them they should not even covet
anything belonging to their neighbour; if anyone
comes upon something lying in his path he should try to find out who dropped it
or have it taken to an appropriate place; and what men would not wish done unto
themselves let them by no means do unto others, or even desire that it might be
done. If all men, even those in secular life, lived thus they would not be far
Further, let it be enacted that priests and other clergy in the countryside shall no longer have to plough their land and mow their meadows, but concern themselves with the church services and their pastoral duties, and that in place of land they shall be maintained by a tithe of all the produce of the dvoriane and peasants of their parish. Priests at Confession should then earnestly impress on their spiritual children that they must offer without fail (neither holding anything back nor grudging any part thereof) this tenth part of all produce set aside for their use, whether corn, meat, eggs or other food, and must bring it to the church for the subsistence of the priests and other clergy and of the poor who depend on that church. They must likewise set aside as the Sovereign's due a tithe of whatever quantity of grain or cattle or anything else is destined for sale. And confessors must earnestly exhort their spiritual children not to keep back anything. If they act righteously in setting aside a tithe for God and another for the Tsar, God will bless them with abundance in all things, so that they shall be like the Jews of the Old Dispensation who likewise gave a tithe of all their increase.
I am without information as to what is done
in other Christian lands in this matter, namely, how the clergy of country
parishes are maintained, but I know full well that in Russia they subsist on
their own toil and are scarcely to be distinguished from the peasantry. The
peasant bends to his plough and so does the priest, the peasant swings his
scythe and so does the priest, while
For the Lord God Himself in the very earliest days of the priesthood, when he brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt into the Promised Land, commanded the land to be divided by lot among all the Israelites but forbade the giving of land to the priests and acolytes, manifestly in order that they should be diligent in their religious duties; and He commanded them to be maintained by the Church and not by labouring on the land. How much the more then is it meet under the New Dispensation for our priests to concern themselves only with the service of the Church, since men's souls too have now been entrusted to them. But in our land the parish priests are burdened with tilling the soil and so have less concern for their ecclesiastical duties than for their land, and pastoral duties have fallen into neglect. Hence a vast number of Christians die without opportunity for repentance and the last Sacrament. For the country priests are quite simple folk; they grow up in the country and understand nothing but the ways of the countryside. They do not understand at all that they will have to answer before God for every lost Soul, nor do they know what value God puts upon a human soul.
If anyone takes exception to what I have said on the grounds that I have written all this in disparagement and criticism of the priesthood, God is my witness that I write it not at all to disparage but to correct. I myself am not without fear that I have touched on a matter too great for me; nevertheless God's will be done. He knows all the reasons for my presumption. And if our Sovereign shall deign in pursuance of God's command to free our priests from work on the land, then an ordinance of His Imperial Majesty should lay it down that landowners as well as peasants (whether on private, Crown, episcopal or monastic domains) shall all set aside a tithe of the corn destined for their own use and deliver it from their barns at threshing time to the clergy. And so shall they do invariably all the days of their life that God may bless them and give them increase in all things. Even if this should appear onerous at first, when they have grown accustomed to it and God's blessing has descended upon them, making their fields fertile, they will forget all the hardship.
And if any part of the corn set aside for the priests and other clergy shall remain unconsumed, it shall be used to feed the poor and the stranger.
Further, hospitals and almshouses should be built for the sick poor both in the towns and in the countryside, appropriate to the size of the parish, and they should be fed there on this surplus, or as the Sovereign shall direct. As for the land which is now held and cultivated by the clergy, I think it should be leased out and churches and hospitals for the poor built with the income therefrom. And whatever corn a landowner or peasant has for sale, a tithe of it must be set aside as the Sovereign's due. Likewise in respect of all cattle destined for sale, one tenth of the price shall be set aside for our Sovereign. And one tenth part of any animal used for food shall likewise be taken to the church for the support of the clergy and to the almshouses. Similarly a tithe of all honey, butter, fish, eggs and other produce consumed at home shall invariably be set aside for the church, and likewise, as the Sovereign's due, a tithe of all that is sold. By doing thus we shall become like the pious Jews of old, for we shall be giving a tithe to God and a tithe to the Tsar of all our increase, and the priests and other clergy will be thereby adequately supported without the need to work their own land. And from the fees for special services and other ministrations the clergy will maintain their dwellings and apparel.
If it were so done, the priests would be able to celebrate matins and a liturgy every day and also be free at all times for special requirements. Acting thus the priests will become perfect servants of God and intercessors for the Sovereign and all the people. As things are now among the country clergy, even if there are two or three priests for one church, not many services are held. Happening to be in the parish of Ustreka where the church had three priests and a deacon, I found that there was a liturgy only on two days at Eastertide. The inhabitants said that there had never been more than one liturgy in Holy Week before and that it was due to fear of me that there were two. I stayed there throughout Holy Week and it was in no way different from an ordinary week - there was neither liturgy nor vespers nor matins. In the case of churches with only one priest, I imagine he will not celebrate more than a couple of dozen liturgies a year, for if he neglects his land he will starve.
So because priests must spend their time in cultivating their land the houses of God stand like bare barns where no praise of God is heard and Christian people are dying no whit different from beasts because of the same.
The country priests cannot be told apart from peasants: peasant and priest alike plough and mow. And on a feast day when it would be proper for them to be in church praising God, the priests will be off with the peasants preparing kilns, and when they should be celebrating the liturgy all the clergy are busy threshing their corn. With their lives full of mundane cares, far from tending Christ's flock, they cannot even care for their own souls.
But if God shall provide for them as set out above there will always be divine service in the holy churches and the priests will devote themselves to the care of their flock and no longer only to their land. And when the service is over a priest should read books and visit his flock in their homes, to see whether in their daily lives they are correctly following his direction and have not sinned in any way. Thus a priest should each month visit all those under his spiritual care and fortify them, that they may be mindful of what they were taught at Confession and perform without fail what he has commanded. And on these visits he should on no account partake of any kind of refreshment since he has come for the better supervision of his flock and not to fulfil some special ministration. Let such priests be like the Holy Apostles, so that by their visitations they may guide the people to salvation with no thought of reward. And those to whom God has given skill with the pen should in their leisure time copy the chant books and sell them to those desirous of possessing them. And if they are summoned anywhere for special ministration they must abandon everything else and go with dispatch to do what is required of them. By so doing all the country priests would excel as pastors and light would shine upon the life of the peasantry.
But the cure of souls as it is today is exceedingly imperfect and there is great reason to fear that God will exact retribution from our prelates, seeing that even those priests who five in the towns do not clearly recognize wherein lies sin and wherein salvation. Hence they do not exhort their parishioners to repentance and do not instruct them how to follow the way of salvation, and so many people perish in ignorance.
Indeed I have met many old men, even about
My opinion then is based on my belief that damnation or salvation for each of us lies in the hands of our priests. If they are without understanding so will their flocks also be without understanding; if they lead a righteous and holy life all their flock will likewise have understanding and come near unto holiness. For through their ministry the people may be filled with all righteousness, stand fast in the Christian faith and preserve their souls from everlasting damnation; and under their firm guidance all shall - by God's grace - come nigh to the Kingdom of Heaven.
And when the priests have perfected themselves in knowledge and have acquired the habits of virtue and good conduct, an end must be made to their present repulsive and patched clothing. Whether in town or country, priests and deacons must be forbidden to wear filthy and tattered clothing; nor must they wear grey or white undyed hodden. If it is beyond a priest's means to buy foreign cloth he should have his garments made of kersey, and if this too is impossible he should use hodden dyed crimson or blue. Priests must wear long cassocks with wide sleeves. Priests and deacons should not go about improperly dressed for they are the servants of God and stand before the altar offering sacrifices for the Sovereign and all Christians. In view of their closeness to God, the Lord God Himself commanded even under the Old Dispensation that both priests and acolytes shall celebrate in clean garments. How much the more then does it behove our clergy in the New Dispensation of Grace to observe cleanliness in all things -in body as in soul, and likewise in their apparel and in the whole ordering of their lives, that they may be set apart from ordinary folk alike in their life and in their dress - and this not only in their outer but also in their inner clothing and in all their apparel. Their headgear should be round, trimmed with beaver or fox; their boots should be low with round toe-caps and they should on no account wear lapti anywhere. The practice of approaching God's altar in lapti must be utterly prohibited, for those who do so do not merely detract from their sacred office, but also from the reverence due to God. For it is in reverence to God that priests have been commanded to celebrate at His altar in rich vestments. In virtue whereof some priests don a gold vestment to celebrate in, yet on their feet they have nothing but patched lapti, caked in filth, and their under-robe is no less repulsive. Who will not be amazed at this mixing of gold with mould, when he sees a priest so arrayed? If it behoves us to carry out our Sovereign's commands conscientiously, how much the more so then those of God. A priest should always be sober and have a gracious word to say to everyone; his expression should be humble, his step unhurried. And he should never say to other things which are of no profit to them but only what is for their good. If they so do, priests shall be like unto the Apostles of Christ; all will reverence them for their conduct and will joyfully give them what is prescribed for their livelihood.
So in this matter let it be as His Imperial
Majesty shall think good, either according to what I
have proposed or as anyone else may amend. Amen.
Pososhkov: Chapter III: "Justice"
... It seems to me that above all else we must seek [to establish] justice in the law courts; for if justice is established among us, all people will shy away from wrongdoing. All that is honorable is based upon fair and impartial administration of justice; [if we achieve it,] even the tsar's revenue will be doubled. For this purpose a [new] code of laws must be drawn up, with provisions for all kinds of cases....
To our Russian provisions, past and present, we should add some from the German codebooks; and, in general, any laws out of foreign codes that are suitable for us should be incorporated into our code. Even the Turkish code should be translated into the Slavic language, as well as their regulations on judicial and civil procedures. We should adopt those of their practices that suit us, for it appears that their administrative proceedings are clear and fair-even better than the German onesso that their courts render quick and just decisions; they do not waste as much paper as we do, nor are they used to feeding useless mouths; but above all they give just protection to their businessmen [kupechestvo].
Two or three men from [each of the following groups I should be selected to draft this code of laws: the clergy -- those who are the wisest, the most learned, and well versed in the Scriptures; civil administrators familiar with court and administrative procedures; dignitaries of high rank-those who are not proud but well disposed to all men; officials of low rank-those who are not conceited; officials of government departments [prikaznye liudi] who understand administration; the gentry -- those who are wise and truthloving; merchants who have had experience in all sorts of transactions; soldiers -- who are intelligent and truth-loving and who have lived through many hardships in the course of their service; boyars' retainers [liudi boiarskie] -- those who are used to responsibility; and government inspectors [fiskaly]. It also seems to me that it would not be bad to select a few peasants too-among those who have been village elders and sotskie [centurions], who have handled various affairs and are sharp-witted. I have seen clever men even among the Mordvins [Finno-Ugric natives in the Middle Volga region, near Simbirsk], so why would there not be intelligent men among the peasants?
After the articles of this new code are drafted, the whole people should approve them by a completely free vote, without compulsion of any sort. In this way no one -- neither of high nor of low birth, neither rich nor poor, neither of high nor of low rank, nor even the peasant -- would find himself abused or oppressed by these new provisions as a result of ignorance of the problems of his group.
After the code has been drafted in full consultation with all, let it be presented for consideration by His Majesty's sharp mind. Those articles that His Majesty approves shall remain, and those [that he finds] unsuitable shall be stricken out or amended as appropriate. Many will object to my proposal, saying that I am limiting His Majesty's autocratic power by the advice of the people. But I do not seek to limit His Majesty's autocracy; my suggestion amounts to this: that to establish true justice, each man should inspect the newly drafted articles insofar as they concern his group, to see whether they contain any unsuitable or oppressive provisions contrary to justice....
The establishment of just laws is a most sublime achievement and one should go about it with such circumspection that no group of men would ever be able to shake it. It cannot be accomplished without much consultation and free advice from many people. For God has not given perfect understanding to any one person, but has divided it into small particles which he has given to each man according to his capacity: to some -- more; to others --less. However, there is no person to whom God has given nothing.
To our great shame, just courts of law exist not only in foreign countries that profess Christianity but even among the infidels. We, on the contrary, profess the holy and pious faith, which is glorious in all the universe, yet our courts of law are not worth anything; and whatever decrees His Majesty may issue are all brought to naught, everybody carrying on after his own manner, as before.
It is very difficult to turn the magistrates away from iniquity and to inculcate the principles of justice in them, for iniquity has struck deep roots in them and has become inveterate. From the lowest to the highest they have all become susceptible to temptation: some are open to bribes; others fear powerful persons; still others are afraid of calumny; and there is also the official who expects the same preferential treatment, if the person concerned should later have the same power as he now enjoys. As a result, state affairs suffer, investigations are rigged, and His Majesty's decrees remain inoperative. All administrators from the nobility connive with their brethren, the noble-born; they are powerful and fearless only with the weakest people but do not dare even to utter a prohibitory word to an illustrious nobleman; they do as he desires. This is why everything is in disorder.
How many decrees concerning the young sons of the nobility have been sent to all the cities? Even when a nobleman is summoned [to service] by name, they are in no hurry to send him out, but tarry, following the custom laid down in the old code, awaiting the third call. Only then, if they can find no further excuse, do they send him out [to serve]. Some nobles have grown old in such disobedience and contempt of His Majesty's orders, living all the time on their estates, never having set one foot in the service. ...
We all see how hard our great monarch works; but he cannot accomplish anything, for he has not many helpers, such as he would wish to have. How can he succeed, pulling uphill alone -- be it with the force of ten men -- while there are millions pulling downhill? Even when he punishes someone severely, immediately there are a hundred men ready to take [the culprit's] place. Therefore, however hard he tries, he will always be let down, unless the ancient customs are changed.
Pososhkov, Chapter IV: The Merchants
The merchants should not be brought low, for no realm, large or small, can subsist without them. Merchants are comrades even to men at arms: while the latter fight, merchants aid them and provide them with various necessities. For this reason one must take unflagging care of them. Just as the soul cannot subsist without a body, so the men at arms cannot do without merchants; nor can the merchants live without men at arms.
The realm is extended by the men at arms and ornamented by the merchants. Therefore it is necessary to defend them against offenders, so that they be not in the least molested by the military men. There are many stupid people who despise the merchants and scorn and offend them without reason. In fact, in the whole world there is no station in life that would not require the services of a merchant.
Merchants should not only be protected from outside offenders but must also be prevented from doing harm to one another. Men of other classes should not [be permitted to] engage in trade and interfere with their business transactions in any way; but merchants should be allowed to trade freely, so that they would prosper by their trade and thereby further His Majesty's profit.
If [the foreigners] should stop bringing their goods to us altogether, we could survive even without their goods, whereas they cannot survive even ten years without ours. Thus it behooves us to adopt the tone of masters with them, while they should assume a humble, servile mien before us, not a haughty one.
It is strange that, coming to us with their trinkets, they set a low price on our substantial merchandise, while putting a double price, and sometimes even more, on their own wares.
Why, they even evaluate the money of our great tsar, which should be none of their business. They should rather evaluate the money of their own sovereigns, for they have power over their overlords [literally, "over their proprietors," (vladel'tsy)]. As for our great emperor, he is a master unto himself, and if, within his state, he should ordain that a copeck be taken for a grivna [ten copecks], it will be so accounted.
In our realm, with the permission of our monarch, we are free to set any price we want on the goods brought to us; and if [the foreigner] does not like it, let him not deliver the goods: for he is free to deliver or not to deliver them; we shall certainly not take them from him by force. But we can be firm in our refusal to allow ashore any unconsigned goods or goods of inferior quality; they may take them back with them or keep them aboard ship.
It is time they laid aside their former conceit. They used to mock us in the days when our monarchs would not themselves intervene in mercantile matters, and when the boyars governed. In those days, the foreigners, upon arrival, would pass a hundred or two-hundred rubles' worth of gifts to some influential persons, and then make a profit of a million for every hundred rubles thus distributed--all because the boyars considered our merchants as not worth a broken eggshell; they would sell them all out for a penny.
Now, thank God, our monarch has taken good care of all this. ...
In my opinion, it is better to throw money
away into the water than to give it away overseas for drink.... To promote the
prosperity of the realm, even the other overseas goods must be bought after
careful consideration, for we should buy only those we cannot do without. As
for their foreign [literally: "German"] novelties and luxuries, we
could just as well forbid their entry, so as to stop the draining of wealth
Let us keep our wits about us: we should buy from them whatever we need for the welfare of the realm and what is profitable for us. We must refuse to buy their articles that bring us no profit or are of inferior quality.
Vlasto: CHAPTER 7: "Of the Peasantry"
The peasants live in poverty for no other reason than their own idleness, to which may be added the indifference of the authorities and harsh treatment and neglect at the hands of their masters.
But no peasant need ever be reduced to poverty if the following were done. The taxes which he pays to His Majesty should be in proportion to his landholding (that is, the amount of land cultivated by him on his own account) and be collected from him at a convenient time of year; further, the peasants' masters must cease the practice of demanding from them dues and labour beyond what is the just amount proportional to the peasants' landholding. Moreover, the landowners must keep a strict eye on their peasants to ensure that they do not idle but apply themselves to their work on all days other than Sundays and holidays.
If a peasant falls into slack ways he should be severely beaten, for once a peasant goes downhill he will never return to the path of duty but will surely fall away into brigandage and other like crimes.
In summer the peasant must cultivate his land with all due care and in the winter work in the woods, either to supply the needs of his family or else of others, thus making some profit for himself. If there is no profitable work that he can do at home he should go somewhere where hired labourers are needed, so as not to spend his time to no purpose. In this way no peasant need be reduced to poverty.
For the betterment of the peasants' lot attention should also be given to laying out their cottages in a different way so that they can live in greater comfort and security. For they sustain much loss by living too close together, since if one cottage catches fire the whole village is burnt down and sometimes not a single cottage is left standing. As a result a peasant may be left without corn or livestock and this reduces him to the most dire poverty. Such disasters would not occur if peasants did not huddle together in this way.
Steps must be taken to prevent this kind of disaster befalling them. They must be ordered to build their cottages farther apart, that is, not up against one another but with gaps between each pair. There must also be wide lanes between the rows, thirty sazhens broad, but, if space is short, never less than twenty sazhens, so that if one peasant's cottage catches fire all the neighbours can rush to fight it. If there are such free passages between the cottages there will be no difficulty in coming to the rescue from any direction and the neighbours will even be able to prevent any two cottages threatened by the fire from being completely burnt down, since they will no longer, as now, rush to put their own possessions in a place of safety but all help to save the cottage which is on fire. As things are at present neighbours can give no help when there is a fire because they all set about safeguarding their own possessions; even so not everything can be saved but all suffer some loss. Thus all are ruined and brought to destitution.
If our Sovereign, showing his concern for the peasantry, were to order that peasant cottages in all villages and hamlets shall be built in pairs, it must be made incumbent on all landowners to rebuild their villages as occasion offers (that is, little by little if not straight away), so that the cottages stand in pairs with an open space in each direction, as here illustrated. If this principle were followed there would be no difficulty in the way of containing the fire and no cottage would be allowed to bum to the ground.
When clerks are sent out for the purposes of the census or the land survey, that would be the right moment to rebuild a whole village at one stroke and also to allot to each peasant his share of the land - a whole, half or quarter holding' in proportion to the size of his family. And let it be determined at the same time in proportion to this allotment of land both what taxes the peasants owe to His Majesty's treasury and also what other dues, to the end that no excessive burden is put upon any one peasant and that the poorer do not suffer at the expense of the richer ones but that all are fairly assessed in direct proportion to their landholdings.
Further, peasants suffer heavy losses at the hands of brigands. Supposing a village has a population of twenty or thirty households (or even a good deal more), if even quite a small party of brigands attacks a peasant in his cottage, subjects him to rough handling, sets fire to his house and loads his possessions quite openly on to carts, his neighbours will hear and see all that goes on but will not dare to come out of their own homes to the rescue of their neighbour. Because of this brigands do as they please and even torture many peasants to death. This is another reason why no peasant can become rich.
To obviate such disasters a strict order should be sent out to all villages and hamlets that if brigands attack a peasant and his fellow villagers do not go to his rescue nor attempt to arrest the brigands, they shall all be flogged and shall themselves make double restitution for whatever the brigands have taken, seeing that they made no effort to help. lf brigands descend in large numbers so that it is beyond the capacity of the village to lay hold of them, the neighbours must run to the nearest villages round about and tell all the adult men to come, armed with firearms and staves and clubs, to seize the brigands. If the peasants of any village fail to do so they shall be flogged and contribute to making up for the losses suffered by the plundered village. And if anyone loses his life through their failure to come to the rescue a fine of fifty roubles (or more, as the law may prescribe) in respect of each man murdered shall be exacted from all those who did not go to the rescue.
So if peasants could live together in such unity, always willing to help and support one another, brigands would never even think of risking such sudden raids to plunder and bum. And if the peasants behaved as befits a community, without doing injury to one another, they would want for nothing and be blessed in their lives.
The peasants also suffer no little hardship from a lack of literate men among them. A village of twenty or thirty families may not have a single literate man, so a stranger has but to flourish a written order before them, or even merely to state that he has such an order without producing it, and they will surely believe him. This causes the villagers unnecessary loss, since, like the blind, none of them sees or understands anything. Consequently many an impostor is able to do them great harm and they cannot question his actions. Similarly, those engaged in collecting taxes extract from them a great deal more than is due, and so the peasants suffer unnecessary loss.
To guard against this it would clearly be advisable to oblige peasants to send their children under the age of ten to the sacristan to be taught to read and, that learnt, also to write. It seems to me that it would be no bad thing to ensure that even in the smallest village all are able to read. The peasants must receive strict injunctions to send their children to school without delay and to keep them there for three or four years. If during that time the children have not made any progress and, further, if the parents have failed to send to school such children as thereafter reach the right age, the parents must by one means or another be coerced into remedying this. The young peasants who have leamt to read and write will be more useful not only to their masters in the management of their affairs but also to His Majesty in his service. They will be especially suitable as wardens. No one will be able to cheat the peasantry or extort anything from them in future.
I believe it would be advisable to extend this ordinance to the authorities in 'downstream' towns so that the children of the Mordva may also be educated, by force if necessary. Once educated they will themselves see the advantages of literacy. For soldiers, constables and clerks of all sorts descend upon them (even more than in the Russian villages), sometimes armed with a written order and sometimes not, and do what they will with them, since the Mordva are an illiterate folk with no one to look after their interests. So anyone can cheat them, demand what is not to be found in any order and extort payment by fair means or foul. But if their children are taught their letters, these literate ones will be in positions of authority among them and will not allow them to be oppressed as at present but protect their fellows from all kinds of wrongful treatment. Moreover, some of them will through their schooling learn the Holy Christian faith and desire to be baptized therein; and these educated ones will in the course of time bring their fellows also into the Christian faith. All of the Mordva, Chuvish or Cheremis6 peoples who accept baptism must then be treated with due consideration by governors and all those in authority, who should in every way favour and protect them in preference to the unbaptized. The baptized must be treated with condescension in all things compared with the unbaptized, so that the latter may be envious of them.
His Majesty should direct the Russian peasants in those parts and the Mordva people to live together in amity without doing injury to one another, and on no account to cut up for firewood timber suitable for building. They must not on any account cut down young timber for firewood on the edge of the steppes or, for that matter, in their own forests, with the exception of misshapen trees which are of no use for building. Any tree that falls should be removed, and when the saplings have grown to the thickness of a paling they may be cut and used for all domestic purposes.
If young wood establishes itself anywhere in the steppe regions, the local peasants must go every autumn and mow the grass for some dozen yards all round the wood so that in the spring steppe fires may not reach it and destroy it. I have seen many such young woods in the steppes, some the height of a man, others more than twice as tall, which had all been destroyed in steppe fires. But for these fires there would be extensive woods even on the edge of the steppes.
Again, once when I was at Chem and Mtsensk I saw young saplings no thicker than pea-stakes being cut down for firewood. To make one load a hundred or more trees had to be cut; yet there was plenty of dead wood lying about there. One mature tree will often provide ten or more loads of wood. The inhabitants should have confined themselves for the time being to gathering dead wood; if the young growth had been left to mature there would have been plenty for all.
In completely treeless parts far from sources of timber each of the inhabitants should set aside a dozen or more desiatiny of land near their village, plough it in the autumn and sow it with seeds of such forest trees as birch, lime, maple, aspen, oak and elm, and also broadcast a couple of chetveriki of fresh ripe hazel nuts. When the seeds germinate the area must be protected from fire; and the ground must be kept clear the first year so that steppe grass does not smother the seedlings. In six or seven years' time the bushes from the hazel nuts that were sown will come into bearing, and in ten years' time will bear full crops; on good land they will be very fruitful. If everyone did this close to his own village all would have a plentiful supply of wood and nuts. Though they may find the work unrewarding to begin with, in the long run they will see the advantage of it.
As regards nuts it would be as well to make a strict ordinance that no one is to pick them before St Simon's Day but allow them to ripen so that the kernel matures. Even if some mature earlier than September 1st in a particularly warm spot, no one shall dare to gather them before that day but only after September 1st when they begin to fall naturally. The gathering of the crop should be done by general agreement and on the advice of the local warden in such a way as to be fair to those with and without families alike.
A chetverik of such ripe nuts is better than ten times the quantity of unripe ones. Nowadays many people strip them all from the trees when they are still green without giving them time to ripen fully and thereby not only cause their neighbours to go hungry but also deprive themselves of sustenance, since they will hardly get as much for a chetvert' of unripe nuts as they could expect to be paid for a chetverik of ripe ones. They also reduce His Majesty's revenue since a chetverik of ripe nuts can be sold at forty kopecks or more, whereas no one would give that sum for even a chetvert' of unripe ones. So where the toll on the ripe nuts would have been a rouble, the unripe ones will not yield even ten kopecks. Moreover, anyone who buys the latter will derive no profit from them since they are valueless both for eating and for making oil. All that happens is that the dealers who buy them mix them with nuts of good quality and deceive the public by displaying the good ripe ones on top, and thereby fall into sin.
Ripe nuts bring some little profit to our
realm since they are exported - to
If anyone acts contrary to this ordinance and picks even a small quantity before St Simon's Day he shall be fined five roubles and beaten with rods. If any person brings to market nuts, whether fresh or dry, which have been gathered unripe so that the kernel is not mature, such nuts shall be confiscated on behalf of His Majesty. The seller shall be fined one rouble per chetverik (or as may be laid down). If they are very unripe, so that the kernel is less than half-size, he shall pay a double fine and the nuts shall be thrown away on to the river mud in the summertime and in the winter through a hole in the ice.
If any person catches another in the woods or on the road or in the village with freshly gathered nuts before September 1st, the nuts shall be given to the discoverer and the guilty person shall be fined at the rate of one rouble per chetverik (or, if less than a chetverik, then in proportion), and he shall be beaten to deter others from doing the same in the future. Should any factor, headman or warden show undue favour by not exacting the fine from someone caught doing this, or by exacting the fine without inflicting the physical punishment, or again try to bring pressure to bear on the discoverer in any way (even after the event), the said persons in authority shall, in accordance with the new regulation, be fined for contravening His Majesty's laws and shall be severely punished like all others who contravene them.
A similar regulation should be made about fishing to prevent the peasants from reducing to naught this part of His Majesty's revenue through their ignorance. In lakes and rivers where sparling is not found it is inadvisable to allow the fishing of similar small fish. For, being unable to recognize sparling, the peasants catch instead all sorts of immature fish - young pike, ide, roach and especially immature perch. All these fish should be allowed a full year's growth; yet the peasants even take the fry when they are no larger than a grain of oats and by this practice reduce the stocks of fish in our rivers and lakes to nothing. When I was at Ustreka I took up a sample of the fry in a scoop and counted eighty-eight in it; a sample from a place where the fry was denser might have yielded two or three hundred. Now if these had been allowed to grow to yearling size what was in the scoop would have become enough to feed a whole family, and in two years' time the same would have produced twenty times that weight, not to mention the additional natural increase which the two-year-old fish would have produced. Caught and dried this fry will fetch twenty kopecks a chetverik, whereas after two years' growth the same fish would make at least ten loads and be worth not twenty kopecks but twenty roubles or more; and the toll on this would amount to more than a rouble. So through this lack of forethought on the part of the peasants not only does His Majesty lose revenue but they themselves lose much good food.
Nowadays one hears many complaints that 'the fishing is not what it was', yet people do not understand why. The fishing has declined for no other reason than that the young fry is over-fished and so has no chance to mature. If in our cattle-rearing we were to use all the young calves for food we should have neither bulls nor cows. Similarly with fowls: if we were to eat all the chickens there would be no fowls left in a matter of two or three years. The case is no different with fish: small fish inevitably grow into large fish and if the small ones are removed there will be no large ones to be had.
So, in my opinion, the catching of all small fry (including immature sparling) should be prohibited even where sparling is found, and permission given to take only fish over a year old. Thus no more harm could be done to His Majesty's interest by this insensate practice, nor would the fishermen bring themselves and others to starvation by their indiscriminate fishing. If His Majesty were to give the matter his attention and strictly prohibit on pain of a fine or physical punishment the catching of immature fish (excepting always true native sparling), the stock of fish in our takes and rivers would increase greatly.
I also advise the following measure. If any man brings to market any young undersized pike, carp, roach or perch (always excepting true sparling), whether fresh or dried, the fish shall be confiscated on behalf of His Majesty and given to invalid soldiers or paupers in almshouses, and the purveyor shall be fined whatever sum may be determined per chetverik. After such a law has been in force for a year people will cease to take immature fish. The order prohibiting the catching of immature fish and the making of fine mesh nets except for sparling must be sent in advance to all chief towns so that fines may be imposed for its contravention from the year next following.
If anyone catches even a small quantity of immature fish for his personal consumption and, being found in possession of the same, is brought before a magistrate, the fisherman shall be fined in accordance with the new law and one quarter of the said fine together with the fish shall be given to the person who brought him to justice. Such fines will soon put a stop to private fishing of this kind.
Given such a regulation our stocks of fish will so increase in three or four years that there will be plenty for the whole country. And if the law is not broken in future we shall never be short of fish for all time. Even if fish then sells at half or a third of its present price the tax collected will be ten times as much or more, because the amount of fish sold will be enormous.
Again, it is surely not at all right that landowners should impose intolerable burdens on their peasants. For there exist masters so inhumane that during the busy season they do not allow their peasants a single day to work their own land. Thus the whole of the ploughing and mowing seasons are lost to them. Or else after receiving in full what is due from their peasants in rent or supplies for the table, masters make further demands on them over and above this. By such extortions they drive the peasantry to destitution, and if they see that any peasant is becoming more prosperous they at once increase his dues. In these circumstances a peasant can never grow richer under such a master. Many dvoriane say, 'don't let a peasant grow too long a fleece but keep him shorn short -like a sheep'. By acting so they impoverish the realm, since they fleece their peasants to such an extent that some have not even a single goat left and so in dire need they abandon their homes and flee to the new lands downstream or to the borderlands or even to foreign parts. In this way they make foreign lands more populous and leave their own deserted. And what concern is it of the landowners if a peasant is rich provided that he does not neglect his fieldwork, what concern if he has a thousand roubles or more provided that he commits no crimes and does not engage in illicit trade? A rich peasant is surely a credit to his master.
Landowners do not own their peasants in
perpetuity; hence, being but temporary owners, they do not treat them with much
care. The true owner of the peasants is our Sovereign, Autocrat of All the
Therefore it seems to me that an ordinance should be drawn up defining what the landowners may exact from their peasants by way of rent or other dues, how many days a week the peasants should work for their masters and also what they should make for them by their handicraft, to the end that the rendering of their dues to the Sovereign and to their master shall not be too great a burden and that they may be able to feed themselves without difficulty. Those in authority must keep a close watch to ensure that masters do not impose any dues on their peasants over and above what is permitted by law, and do not reduce them to destitution.
All landowners, great and small, should therefore consult together on the subject of all dues and products of handicraft to which the master is entitled, and determine by common consent and with His Majesty's approval what dues should be imposed so that the burden on the peasantry may not be unduly heavy. It should be specifically laid down what sum of money is to be levied on a whole holding and on a half, quarter and eighth thereof respectively and what quantities each shall supply to the master's table; what amount of land on each whole holding or part thereof shall be ploughed and sown by the peasants, and the crop in due course reaped and threshed, on behalf of the master. Likewise cartage should be apportioned on the same principle so that each peasant contributes in proportion to his landholding and none is treated unfairly; in sum, so that it may not be a burden to him to pay all his dues to the Sovereign in full without falling into arrear.
If what is so agreed by general consent is then confirmed by Imperial decree and adhered to without fail thenceforward, the peasants will all eat their fill and some of them will grow rich to boot.
I have indeed given much consideration to the question of how the collection of the peasants' dues may best be carried out so as to be most profitable to His Majesty and at the same time least burdensome to them. I have not found any principle fairer than to grade peasant 'households' according to the amount of land made over to each, that is, to the size of a peasants' holding and to the amount of grain which he sows on his land for his own use.
I do not know what our dvoriane [nobles] are thinking of. They are the peasants' masters and yet do not even know whom to call a peasant; nor have they any clear notion on what principle to reckon peasant holdings. They merely count the number of gates or enclosures, and some of them even go by the number of hearths. But even as the smoke of the hearth disappears into the air so all their calculations amount to nothing at all. Nor do I see any advantage in the method of counting souls; for the soul is an impalpable thing which cannot be grasped by our minds and upon which a value cannot be put; values can only be put on things of solid substance. The recent census gave a great deal of work, and, I should think, cost the treasury twenty thousand roubles or more. I venture to think that it was all labour in vain and wasted money for this form of tax will not come up to expectations. I shall treat in Chapter 9 of where a truly constant source of revenue is to be found.
As regards the peasants I believe it would be better to proceed thus. No master who has received his dues in full from a peasant shall demand of him anything further over and above that sum; nor shall he oppress him in any way but rather ensure that the peasant does not waste his time in idleness but works to the utmost of his powers for his own sustenance. Under such conditions a peasant, if he has enough sense, can become a man of some means.
If any peasant fails to do his ploughing, falls into idle ways and makes no provision for the future, it is the duty not only of the masters or their factors but also of the wardens to take steps to punish him severely, so that he does not become impoverished through his idleness nor take to crime or drink.
Even industrious peasants may suffer much hardship because no precise grading of their holdings has as yet been made. Certain great landowners count five or six or even ten dwellings as one household, so that these peasants have an easy time. Those of moderate means combine two or three dwellings into one with a common entrance and close the other entrances with fencing. These peasants also do not have too hard a time. But those landowners who are poor and without influence declare each peasant dwelling as a separate holding and those peasants consequently fall into permanent destitution under the intolerable burden of taxation. Thus the rich and powerful boyars protect only their own peasants from this burden but have no care for any others.
Therefore the first step towards the establishment of justice must be to define the peasant holding and what is to count as half, a quarter or an eighth of a holding. I am greatly amazed that despite the enormous number of landowners in Russia who are both rich and in positions of authority, they cannot meet together in conference and decide on a definition of the peasant holding, or a half or a quarter thereof, and what is to be understood by a whole holding or three quarters or one -and- a- quarter.
In those quarters of
In my opinion if a peasant is to be registered as occupying a whole holding he must be given enough ploughland to be able to sow every year four chetverti of rye and eight chetverti of spring corn and enough meadowland to provide twenty shocks of hay for his own use.
If a peasant is allowed land insufficient to sow even one chetvert' of rye, such a holding must be reckoned as less than a quarter - perhaps as one sixth of a holding. Let each peasant's obligation be reckoned in proportion to the amount of land that he holds.
If a peasant has both the means and the enterprise to lease land from another landowner because his own master has allotted him too little, the land which he leases shall not be deemed to form part of his own holding even if he can sow ten chetverti or more on it; nor shall he pay any tax to His Majesty on it because this obligation will fall upon the owner of that land. The peasant shall not pay anything to his own master in respect of this additional land but only to the landowner who leases the land to him - either in cash or in sheaves of corn, as may have been agreed.
If any landowner sees that a peasant is well
provided with seed corn and horses and freely hands over to him enough land to
sow ten chetverti of rye in the autumn or twenty of
spring corn together with enough meadowland to provide fifty shocks of hay,
then the said peasant should be assessed at two-and-a-half holdings in respect
of dues both to His Imperial Majesty and to his master. Thus all holdings are
to be reckoned not by the number of entrance-gates or hearths but by the amount
of land held and the area under crops. If this were done all over
Should any landowner still register whole holdings as halves or less and pay tax accordingly, at the same time exacting dues from his peasants at the rate of whole holdings, and the abuse be brought to the notice of the authorities, the holdings in question (peasants included) shall be handed over to the informant. If the peasants refuse to submit to such extortion by their masters and themselves report the matter, the peasant who lays the information shall be given his freedom and fifty roubles in cash. But peasants who are aware that their master is demanding excessive dues from them and yet keep silent about it shall be given as many strokes of the knout as may be determined.
If a landowner settles any household serf, labourer, landless peasant or sharecropper on a whole holding (or a half or a quarter), the correct dues must be levied upon him in respect of the land he holds, whoever he may be. In this way household serfs and the like will become taxpayers to the Sovereign no less than the peasantry proper and the rate of tax will not be intolerable to any of them since it will always be in proportion to the amount of land which goes with the household.
In this way His Majesty's revenue will
greatly increase and if this principle is followed all over
The Tsar, it is my conviction, should be more zealous for the welfare of the peasants than their masters are, since the latter enjoy only temporary possession of their peasants, who belong to the Tsar in perpetuity and whose wealth is the wealth of the realm and whose poverty is the impoverishment thereof. Therefore it is incumbent upon the Tsar to protect the interests of our merchants and peasants no less than those of high-born and military persons, so that none may grow destitute but all be prosperous in their several degrees.
If the matter of peasant households is regulated in the manner described the peasants' life will be no different whether their master be a man of great position or quite poor. Nor will they, as now, have any reason to take to flight, for life for them will be the same everywhere. And whether a peasant possesses a whole holding or less or more, the village must still be built on the plan of cottages in pairs with a garden on either side, as will be explained in Chapter 8. So laid out no village will be totally destroyed when there is a fire.
If any landowner oppresses his peasants by demanding of them dues or work above the fixed amount and the said peasants seek redress from the authorities, they shall be transferred from that master to His Majesty together with ail their land. Being aware of this, even the most vicious landowner will keep himself in check and refrain from bringing his peasants to ruin.
There may be cases when a magistrate fails to make due investigation into such a complaint by peasants against their master and sends them back to him, or alternatively investigates the complaint but takes the landowner's side on all points and puts all the blame on the peasants. If the peasants then take the matter to a higher authority and there make good the case against their master and also bring an accusation against the magistrate, the latter shall not only be stripped of his possessions but also be deprived of his life. And so shall the wicked justicer perish miserably and the righteous one enjoy blessings in this world for his righteous judgment no less than in the world to come, for ever and ever, Amen.
Also read: Kniga: Chapter VII: The Peasants
It does not seem to be just that the pomeshchiki should overburden their peasants. There are
some inhuman gentry who, in the busiest seasons, never let their peasants have
a single free day so that they can work for themselves, and thus the peasants
lose all their ploughing and harvesting time. There
are also those who, after receiving quitrent [obrok]
or food rent due from their peasants, demand more from them and, by these
excessive exactions, drive the peasants to poverty; or, if a peasant becomes a
little better off, they impose higher money dues on him. Subjected to such
treatment, no peasant of theirs can ever become rich. Many of the gentry say:
"Do not let a peasant get shaggy; shear him naked like a sheep."
Following this precept, they despoil the realm, for they rob their peasants,
not leaving a single goat to some of them. From this misery, the peasants run
away, leaving their homesteads: some, for the Middle or
are not permanent proprietors of the peasants; that is why they do not take
good care of them. The true proprietor of the peasants is the autocrat of all
Thus the pomeshchiki must not be allowed to ruin their peasants, who should be protected by a decree of the tsar, so that they be true peasants, not beggars; for peasant wealth is the wealth of the realm.
Therefore, it seems to me that it would be
best to fix by a decree the amount of quitrent and other dues a pomeshchik can claim from his peasants, the number of days
per week that they must work for him, and the other
payments in kind due from them. [All this must be calculated] at such a rate
that the peasants would be able to pay the sovereign's tax and the rent of the pomeshchiki and still live without privation. Judges must
watch carefully that the pomeshchiki do not impose
any burdens on the peasants over and above what is specified by law, and that they do not drive them to misery.
THE TESTAMENT OF PATRIARCH JOACHIM, MARCH 17,1690
Peter's activity brought him into conflict with some of the prelates of the established church. Patriarch Joachim (1620-90), who had occupied the patriarchal see since 1674, was a capable administrator and an implacable enemy of the Old Believers. Although a foe of Patriarch Nikon during the latter's disgrace and trial, Joachim continued Nikon's policies of defending the church's rights and domains against the encroachments of the civil authorities. He looked with disfavor on the new tendencies apparent in the last years of the reign of Alexis and during the regency of Sophia. His testament (dated March 17, 1690), excerpts from which are given below, was addressed to the co-tsars Ivan V and Peter. It is quite revealing of the mentality of the more conservative wing of Russian prelates of his time; it also helps to explain why Peter, a man of sincere religious belief, pursued an anticlerical policy in administration. (On the church in this period, see also Chapter VIII, Section D.)
Reference: Ustrialov, Istoriia tsarstvovaniia
Velikogo, vol. 2, app. 9, pp. 467-77. Petra
Another thing: may our sovereign never allow any Orthodox Christians in their realm to entertain any close friendly relations with heretics and dissenters-with the Latins [Roman Catholics], Lutherans, Calvinists, and godless Tatars (whom our Lord abominates and the church of God damns for their God-abhorred guiles); but let them be avoided as enemies of God and defamers of the church. May they command by their tsarist decree that men of foreign creeds who come here to this pious realm shall under no circumstances preach their religion, disparage our faith in any conversations, or introduce their alien customs derived from their heresies for the temptation of Christians; they should be strictly forbidden to do all this on pain of severe punishment.
I again implore Their Most Serene Tsarist Majesties, the pious tsars, and call upon them before God, our savior, that they prohibit in the whole realm all accursed foreign heretics and dissenters from exercising any kind of command in their regiments; but let them order that these enemies of Christendom be completely removed from such positions. For these dissenters do not agree in faith with us, Christians, who are in possession of. true Orthodoxy; they are completely at variance with us in interpreting the tradition of the [holy] fathers; they are alien to our mother, the Orthodox church. Of what help could such accursed heretics be to the Orthodox host? They only bring on the wrath of God. The Orthodox pray to God according to the rules and customs of the church, while they, the heretics, sleep, and perform their abominable deeds, despising Christian prayer. The Christians honor the most pure Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and invoke in every way her aid and that of all the saints; but the heretics-the military commanders-being ungodly, revile it and blaspheme; in no way do they respect the most holy Mother of God and all the saints; they do not honor the holy icons; they scoff at all Christian piety. Christians observe the fasts; heretics-never. As the Apostle said, their belly is their God. Even if they stay with our regiments, God will not be there on account of their profaneness; [thus] there is no benefit from them....
In [our] Christian regiments [we have] these God-abhorred living idols, the heretics, who malign our holy faith and piety: these Lutherans, Calvinists, and Latins, who dispense injustice; yea, more-as superiors, they are wolves set over hapless Christian lambs, on whom they heap every insult. No good can come from allowing a heretics -- a non-Orthodox man-to hold in bondage, to command, or to judge the Orthodox Christians in the pious tsarist realm. Are there no Orthodox men fit to fill these positions and to perform in them capably? Indeed, by God's grace, the Russian tsardom abounds in pious men among the subjects of the tsarist realm, who are well versed in military science and skilled in leading troops....
It is true that both in olden times and
within our memory foreigners have served in Russian regiments. But what good
came of it? Very little. This is natural, for they are
enemies of God, of the most pure Mother of God, of the holy church, and of us,
Christians. For all Orthodox Christians in the army lay down their lives in
battles, unsparingly and with fervor, much more for their faith and for the
Likewise, [Their Majesties] must not put any Christians into subjection or bondage to the godless Tatars who, though they are Their Majesties' subjects, continue to live in misbelief. If they do not want to be baptized and live in piety, the Christians should be taken away from them: Christian souls should not be left under the power of impious unbelievers, to be insulted by them.
With all my soul I implore and beg of you, our great and most pious Sovereigns and Tsars, to follow these precepts, and, by my episcopal power, I lay down this testament of mine for the guidance of all [future] pious autocrats.
Postscript: Let me remind you again not to allow, under any circumstances, the heretic dissenters to build Roman [Catholic] temples, Lutheran kirks, or Tatar mosques anywhere in your realm or dominions, nor to bring in any new Latin and alien customs, nor to introduce the wearing of foreign dress: for it is not through such practices that piety will spread in a Christian realm or faith in our Lord will grow.
I am amazed at the councillors and statesmen in the tsar's council who have been on embassies to other lands and realms: [surely, they must have observed] how all states hold on to their manners and customs, in dress as well as in actions, and do not accept any others; in their dominions they do not bestow any dignities upon men of other creeds; they do not permit foreigners of other faiths to build their own churches; such is the situation in all the heretic realms that surround us. Is there in any Western ["German"] land a single church of pious faith where a Christian could find haven? No, nowhere! But here, heretics are now permitted to do what was never allowed before: they have built temples for their accursed heretical assemblies, where they viciously curse and malign the pious people, scorn our faith, trample the holy icons, revile us, Christians, and call us ungodly idolaters. This is not good, but evil in every way.
This situation should be dealt with
resolutely, both now and later, by pious men and especially by the most
autocratic tsars and sovereigns, whom it behooves to provide wise direction to
their realm, for its welfare and advantage, but most of all for the glory of
DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATING POPULAR REACTIONS TO PETER'S MEASURES, 1701, 1705, AND 1708
Peter's measures evoked much opposition among many different groups; however, being very diverse in their outlook, these groups could never unite in a concerted movement. The excerpt from an inquest of August 1701 offers an example of some of the more moderate views expressed about Peter by many monks; the conversation allegedly took place between two' regular priests. The Astrakhan' rebels who sent the letter of July 31, 1705, to the Don Cossacks had a considerable leavening of the Old Believers among them, as well as people concerned with the preservation of their status and old customs. The commotion in the Don region in 1708, which prompted the Don ataman's letter to the Zaporozhians, was an echo of the Bulavin movement, and was inspired largely by fear that the modem state would encroach on the old liberties of the Don Cossacks; this movement also had a sprinkling of the Old Believers in its ranks.
Reference: Ustrialov, Istoriia tsarstvovaniia
Velikogo, vol. 4, pt. 2, pp. 204 [inquest of 1701], 352-53 [letter of July 31, 1705]; PBIPV, vol. 7, pt. 2, p. 698 [letter of 1708]. Petra
From "An inquest concerning indecent words about the sovereign," August 1701:
At the inquest the regular priest Paul said
... that in August of this year, 1701 ... while visiting the Semilutsk hermitage, he had asked Tarasii,
the builder [also a regular priest], during vespers: "Did the great
sovereign pass here on his way from Moscow?" to which Tarasii
replied: "What's the good of asking? When, during this year's Lent,
the great sovereign deigned to travel from
A letter from the
To Ataman Iakim Filipovich and to all the Don Cossack Host, we ... [there
follows a list of names], and all the city folk of
A letter from an ataman of the Don Host (probably Semen Alekseevich Dranoi) to Ataman Gordeenko of the Zaporozhian Host, 1708:
[Konstantin Gordeenko], koshevoi
ataman [military commander in chief of the Zaporozhian
Cossacks] of His Most Serene Tsarist Majesty's very brave Zaporozhian Military Host beyond the
From Semen Alekseev, Ataman of the great Field Host of the Don, and from all the Don Field Host-greetings:
On the twenty-sixth day of May of this year,
1708, in accordance with the instructions of the great Host of the Don, we, the
[Cossack] army, settled on the rivers Don, Khoper, Medveditsa,
Buzuluk, and Northern Donets, and on their
tributaries wherever our Cossack organization exists, have been ordered to take
the field against the Moscow regiments approaching our land in order to destroy
our Cossack towns.... Prince VasiIii Volodimerovich Dolgorukii is said to be marching at the
head of these Russian regiments with the goal of annihilating our Cossack towns
and laying waste the whole region of the [Don] river.
Having taken the field, we are now encamped near the town of lampol'. We expect you to show your Cossack brotherly
devotion and are awaiting your aid, so that we may preserve our Cossack rivers
in their pristine state and our Cossackhood as it
always was; let there be unanimity and brotherhood among us, Cossacks. And so
we ask you, the doughty atamans of all the great Zaporozhian
Host, to bring speedy aid to our field forces, so that you and we should not
lose our common and true Cossack glory and our reputation for bravery. If, some
day, you happen to be in need, we, too, will be happy to die by your side, so
that we do not fall under the domination of Russia, and that our common Cossack
glory be not held to derision. [Note: Gordeenko
remained faithful to Peter at that time; in 1709 he joined Mazepa.]
F.C. Weber on the Founding of St. Petersberg, from F.C. Weber, The Present State of Russia,
F. C. Weber, an Hanoverian, worked as a secretary in the Embassy in
for six years during the latter half reign. His book, originally published in Dutch, is a valuable and reliable source of information on many aspects of life at the time. The extracts which follow provide a. an amusing description of his first encounter with Russian social etiquette; b. an account of the famous mock-wedding of Peter's jester Zotov, which is followed by c. a description of the real, tragicomic marriage of two dwarfs. The last extract is the general preface to what was the first detailed account of the buildings of St Petersburg . St Petersburg
The Founding of
I am now going to relate many particulars not yet mentioned, of a city which may be called a wonder of the world, was it only in consideration of the few years that have been employed in the raising of it.
Majesty from his younger years shewed
a particular inclination for shipping and sea-affairs. At
The Tsar being more and more pleased with the situation of the neighbouring country, which actually is one of the most agreeable that is to be found in those parts, resolved not only to build a fortress on the River Neva, as he designed at first, but also to make his chief dock there for building large men of war. The river being very deep near the place where the fort or citadel stands at present, viz. fourteen or fifteen fathoms, or ninety foot, and the neighbouring territory round about being all morass, which makes the place inaccessible, the Tsar pitched upon the several islands formed by the river, in this manner that the fortress should be built on the small island and the town partly on the other islands, partly on the continent.
This resolution was no sooner taken, but orders were forthwith issued, that next spring a great number of men, Russians, Tartars, Cossacks, Calmucs, Finlandish and Ingrian peasants, should be at the place to execute the Tsar's design. Accordingly in the beginning of May 1703 many thousands of workmen, raised from all the corners of the vast Russian Empire, some of them coming journies of 200 to 300 German miles, made a beginning of the works on the new fortress. There were neither sufficient provisions for subsisting such a number of men, nor 7 care taken to furnish them with the necessary tools, as pickaxes, spades, shovels, wheel-barrows, planks and the like, they even had not so much as houses or huts; notwithstanding which the work went on with such expedition, that it was surprizing to see the fortress raised within less than five months' time, though the earth which is very scarce thereabouts, was for the greater part carried by the labourers in the skirts of their clothes, and in bags made of rags and old mats, the use of wheel-barrows being then unknown to them. it I computed that there perished on this occasion very nigh one hundred thousand souls, for in those places made desolate by the war, no provisions could be had even for ready money, and as the usual supplies carried by the Lake Ladoga were frequently retarded by contrary winds, those people often were in the utmost misery. This fortress was afterwards from time to time inlarged, and in the year 1704 a crown-work added to it, as also some redoubts (which however are said to be now in a decaying condition) the whole being projected and directed by the Tsar himself.
At the same time that they were going on
with the fortress, the city also by degrees began to be built, and to this end
numbers of people both of the nobility and the trading part of the nation were
ordered to come from Russia to settle at Petersburg and to build houses there,
all which was executed with such forwardness, that in a short time the place
swarmed with inhabitants. The Boyars and others of the nobility brought along
with them numerous retinues and many servants. The merchants and shop-keepers
found their account at this new place, where every thing was excessive dear.
Many Swedes, Finlanders, and Livonians,
not being able to subsist in their towns and villages, which were ruined and
many of them destroyed by fire, and not knowing where else to go, were obliged
by necessity, to mingle with the greater number or people. All sorts of
artificers, mechanicks, and seamen with their
families were drawn to