Pskov Uprising of 1650

Pskov Uprising of 1650


an antifeudal urban uprising in Russia. The main cause of the uprising was the growing antagonism between the feudal state and the townspeople.

The impetus for the uprising was government profiteering on grain exports to Sweden. The uprising began with disturbances on February 26–27. In the course of demonstrations by tradesmen, artisans, rank and file strel’tsy (musketeers), and cossacks on February 28–29, the houses of many rich merchants, noblemen, and clergy were broken into and property was seized. The Swedish ambassador was arrested. By late March and early April the insurgents were in full control of the city (the voevoda [military governor] and other officials had been arrested) and had created their own governing bodies: the mirskoi skhod, at which the most important issues were decided, and the zemskaia izba, which was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the city. The zemskaia izba, headed by Gavrila Demidov, consisted of zemskie starosty (elders) and elected representatives of various social groups.

Petitioners were dispatched to Moscow in May bearing moderate demands concerning judicial procedure, local administration, and obligatory state service away from the city. In June, Pskov was surrounded by the retaliatory forces of Prince I. N. Khovanskii, which had been sent from Moscow in March. On April 13, Khovanskii’s forces had captured Novgorod, where an uprising had occurred in mid-March under the influence of the events in Pskov.

The disagreements between the various social groups involved in the insurrection intensified in the course of the uprising. The leaders of the uprising were obliged to adopt radical measures. Grain, weapons, horses, and some of the food stockpiles belonging to the rich inhabitants of Pskov were seized. Noblemen found guilty of treason were executed, and Archbishop Makarii was arrested. Efforts were made to gain Lithuanian and Swedish assistance.

The weakness of Khovanskii’s army, peasant insurrections in most of the northwest (lasting until February 1651), disturbances in the outlying areas of Pskov, and complications in international relations impelled the Russian government to convene the zemskii sobor (assembly of estates) in the summer of 1650. The zemskii sobor made a number of concessions to the Pskov insurgents, and a delegation headed by Rafail, bishop of Kolomna, reached Pskov on August 17. By this time, however, henchmen of the merchant and artisan elite controlled the uprising. An attempt by the lower strata of the population to begin another uprising on August 20 was unsuccessful, and the voevoda government was reestablished in the city on August 25. In spite of official promises, the leaders of the Pskov uprising were arrested, tortured, and then exiled in October.


Tikhomirov, M. N. Klassovaia bor’ba v Rossii X VII v. Moscow, 1969.