Moscow Uprising of 1682

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Moscow Uprising of 1682

 

a major antifeudal uprising mainly of the strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers) and soldiers of Moscow, supported by a portion of the local populace. The revolt lasted from late April and early May until the autumn. It is also known as the Khovanshchina, after Prince I. A. Khovanskii, head of the Streletskii Prikaz (central office for strei’tsy affairs).

The uprising was a consequence of intensified feudal oppression and growing abuses in boyar-gentry administration. Its out-break was precipitated by a power struggle within the ruling elite. The discontent that gradually built up within the strel’tsy regiments between February and April erupted into an uprising that was hastened by the death on April 27 of Tsar Fedor Alekseevich. On April 29, the strel’tsy demanded that justice be meted out to their commanders. Their demand was satisfied; their officers were punished, and some were forced to retire. However at the same time, the new government declared its intention to curb the special freedoms of the strel’tsy.

Followers of the Miloslavskii family, relatives of Aleksei Mikhailovich’s first wife, began to agitate among the strel’tsy and soldiers against the supposedly illegal succession of Peter I, the son of Aleksei Mikhailovich and his second wife, N. K. Naryshkina, and against the Naryshkin family in general. They also spread rumors about the murder of the seriously ill Tsarevich Ivan V, the son of Aleksei Mikhailovich from his first marriage, to M. I. Miloslavskaia. On May 15 the strel’tsy and soldiers occupied the Kremlin, and from May 15 to 17 took reprisals against the followers of the Naryshkins and against those considered guilty of abuses, such as A. S. Matveev, I. M. Iazykov, the Dolgorukiis, and G. G. Romodanovskii. Moscow thus fell into the hands of the strel’tsy.

The rebel victory compelled the ruling elite of the nobility both to resolve its own differences and to satisfy the basic demands of the insurgents. Ivan was proclaimed the first tsar, Peter the second tsar, and Sofia Alekseevna became regent. By grant of a special charter, the government confirmed and extended the rights and privileges of the Moscow strel’tsy. Prior to May 26, the strel’tsy had been supported by the kholopy (bondmen), posadskie liudi (merchants and artisans), and peasants. The program of the insurgents, in addition to demands for an improved standard of living and the curtailment of abuses by the commanders and officials, had provided for the removal of “bad” rulers and the installation of “good” ones, who would satisfy their needs through elected groups that would be responsible to a general assembly. On May 26 the kholopy also addressed the government with a petition demanding the abolition of their servitude. But relying on the strel’tsy, the government cruelly suppressed the kholopy. Taking advantage in turn of the government’s growing weakness, the strel’tsy attempted to influence its policies to serve their own interests.

In view of the worsening situation in Moscow, Sofia’s government took refuge in mid-September within the walls of the St. Sergius Trinity Monastery and began to assemble a gentry militia there. The strel’tsy and soldiers began planning a march on the monastery to exterminate the tsar’s family and the boyars and to proclaim Prince I. A. Khovanskii tsar. They distributed arms to the populace, but their indecisiveness, along with disputes between moderate and radical factions and naive tsarist illusions, led to the defeat of the uprising at the hands of the government and its militia. After the execution on September 17 of a number of elected strel’tsy leaders and the Khovanskiis, and with a promise of amnesty, the insurgents submitted to the government.

The uprising was echoed in several cities and villages of European Russia (Smolensk, Kazan, Astrakhan, Pereiaslavl’, and the village of Il’inskoe) and also in Siberia.

REFERENCES

Bogoiavlenskii, S. K. “Khovanshchina.” In Istoricheskie zapiski vol. 10. Moscow, 1941.
Cherepnin, L. V. “Klassovaia bor’ba 1682 na iuge Moskovskogo gosudarstva.” In Istoricheskie zapiski, vol. 4. Moscow, 1938.
Buganov, V. I. Moskovskie vosstaniia kontsa XVII v. Moscow, 1969.

V. I. BUGANOV