Moscow Uprising of 1648


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Moscow Uprising of 1648

 

(the Salt Revolt), an uprising among the lower and middle strata of the urban population, the city’s artisans, the strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers), and the servants of the aristocracy.

The uprising took place in Moscow in June 1648 and was one of the largest urban uprisings of the mid-17th century. The revolt was brought on by dissatisfaction among the tiaglye liudi (most heavily taxed members of the population) with the predatory policies followed by the government of B. I. Morozov and his closest associates, L. S. Pleshcheev and P. T. Trakhaniotov. In order to fill the state treasury, the government had replaced various direct taxes with a single tax on salt; this caused a sudden and steep rise in the price of salt. Indignation among peasants and urban dwellers obliged the government to abolish the new system as a means of collecting taxes in the future, but previous arrears were still to be exacted in a single payment for the last three years.

On June 1, Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich entered Moscow on his return from the St. Sergius Trinity Monastery to find himself surrounded by Muscovites complaining about the boyars and government officials. When the tsar’s bodyguards began to disperse the crowd, there was a great outbreak of public discontent. On June 2, most of the strel’tsy went over to the side of the townspeople. Together they broke into the Kremlin to demand that Pleshcheev (in charge of Moscow’s administration and police), N. Chistyi (who devised the salt tax), the boyar Morozov, and Morozov’s brother-in-law, Trakhaniotov, be surrendered to them. The tsar was compelled to consent to the execution of Pleshcheev. The insurgents then set fire to the Belyi Gorod and the Kitai-Gorod and wrecked the houses of the most hated boyars and their retainers, officials, and merchants.

Chistyi was killed during the uprising; Trakhaniotov, attempting to flee to safety, was seized on June 5 and also killed. The tsar removed Morozov from power and on June 11 sent him to the Belozersk Monastery. The gentry, which had not taken part in the uprising, now took advantage of the people’s movement and on June 10 demanded that the tsar convoke the Zemskii sobor (National Assembly), distribute payments in land and money, and increase the time permitted for pursuit and recovery of fugitive peasants.

Through a special ukase issued on June 12, the tsar deferred the collection of arrears and thus somewhat calmed the insurgents. Distribution of double wages in money and grain among the strel’tsy brought about a split in the ranks of the government’s opponents. This made possible widespread repressions against the leaders and most active participants in the uprising, many of whom were executed on July 3. On Oct. 22, Morozov returned to Moscow and again became head of the government.

The Moscow Uprising of 1648 represented an important step in the development of the class struggle in Russia in the 17th century.

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