Streltsy Uprising of 1698

Strel’tsy Uprising of 1698

 

an uprising of the Moscow regiments of strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers).

As depicted by Russian historians of the gentry-bourgeois school and by some Soviet historians, the strel’tsy uprising of 1698 was a reactionary rebellion against the progressive reforms of Peter I. In origin and in character, however, it was in fact more complex: an outburst against the increasingly burdensome yoke of serfdom, the hardships of state service, and oppression.

The Moscow strel’tsy who served in Peter’s Azov Campaigns of 1695 and 1696 were left behind to garrison Azov. In 1697 four strel’tsy regiments awaiting their return to Moscow were sent instead to Velikie Luki. On the way, they ran short of food and, since they had no horses, had to transport their guns themselves. In March 1698, 175 strel’tsy deserted their regiments and made their way to Moscow to submit a complaint. They secretly established contact with Tsarevna Sofia Alekseevna, who was being kept in confinement in the Novodevichii Convent, hoping that she would intercede on their behalf.

Despite resistance on their part, the strel’tsy were sent back to their regiments, where rumblings of discontent were soon heard. On June 6, 1698, the strel’tsy removed their commanders, elected four emissaries from each regiment, and set out for Moscow, ready to take revenge on the boyars and foreigners, whom they blamed for their misfortune. The insurgents, about 4,000 strong, intended to raise Tsarevna Sofia Alekseevna to the throne or, should she refuse, V. V. Golitsyn, her exiled favorite. The government sent out four regiments—2,300 men in all—and a gentry cavalry force under A. S. Shein and P. Gordon to meet them. On June 18 the strel’tsy were routed near the New Jerusalem (Vos-kresenskii) Monastery, 40 versts (about 43 km) west of Moscow.

The imprisoned strel’tsy were subjected to an investigation, as a result of which 57 were executed and the rest sent into exile. On Aug. 25, 1698, Peter hastily returned from abroad and personally took charge of a new investigation. From September 1698 through February 1699, 1,182 strel’tsy were executed, and 601, mostly minors, were flogged, branded, and sent into exile. The investigation and executions lasted several more years, until 1707. The Moscow strel’tsy regiments that had held aloof from the uprising were disbanded, and the strel’tsy and their families were banished from Moscow.

REFERENCES

Bogoslovskii, M. M. Petr I, vols. 2 and 3. Moscow, 1941–46.
Buganov, V. I. Moskovskie vosstaniia kontsa XVII v. Moscow, 1969.

V. I. BUGANOV

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