Died 1633. Leader of a peasant and Cossack uprising in Russia in the 1630’s.
Balash was a peasant of the Boldin Monastery. He led one of the guerrilla detachments created by peasants and posadskie liudi (merchants and artisans) during the so-called Smolensk War of 1632–34 (thus, the name of the whole movement is Balashovshchina). The actions of these detachments were directed not only against the Polish-Lithuanian armed forces but also against local landowners and votchinniki (owners of patrimonial estates). Soldiers and Cossacks began to defect to these detachments from the regular tsarist army.
Balash’s detachment, which arose in Dorogobuzh District in autumn 1632, took part in successful battles against Polish troops in the villages of Kadino and Krasnoe (in the region of Smolensk), in Dorogobuzh and Roslavl’ districts near Krichev, and in the siege of Starodub; the detachment carried out a raid near Gomel’ and Chichersk, then returned and set up camp at Starodub. Balash’s detachment also looted a number of noblemen’s estates.
The tsarist government, frightened by the antifeudal character of the movement, began negotiations with Balash in January 1633 about his joining the regular army. The government promised clemency to him and his followers. But in March 1633 in a battle near Starodub, Balash was captured; he died in prison. The death of Balash did not stop the movement. The government succeeded in suppressing Balash’s revolt only by the end of 1634, after sending substantial forces to crush it. Some of the insurgents retreated to the Don.
REFERENCEPorshnev, B. F. “Sotsial’no-politicheskaia obstanovka v Rossii vo vremia Smolenskoi voiny.” Istoriia SSSR,1957, no. 5.
B. S. BAKULIN