Solovetskii Uprising of 1668-76

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Solovetskii Uprising of 1668-76


an antifeudal popular revolt that took place in the Solovetskii Monastery and involved people from several social strata. The aristocratic elite of the monks of the upper clergy used the occasion of Nikon’s deposition from the office of patriarch to protest his church reform; the majority of the rank and file monks rose in opposition to the church and state’s drive toward the centralization of the church. Novices and monastery workers, as well as fugitives, pilgrims, and exiles, protested feudal oppression, particularly the serf-owning practices of the monastery.

The uprising, in which 450–500 people took part, began with the slogan of struggle “For the old belief,” inspired by the Old Believer movement, which arose during the schism (raskol). On June 22,1668, a detachment of strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers) under the command of I. Volkhov, a striapchii (an officer of the tsar’s household), reached the Solovetskii Islands. The monastery sealed its gates and refused to admit the strel’tsy.

With the onset of the armed struggle, social contradictions within the monastery intensified, and the novices, monastery workers, fugitives, pilgrims, and exiles moved to the forefront of the uprising. Peasants and rabotnye liudi (bound or free craftsmen and trade workers) from the adjacent countryside supported the uprising and enabled the monastery to withstand a siege of more than seven years without suffering serious shortages of food or other supplies. Many rabotnye liudi and deserting soldiers and strel’tsy made their way to the island and joined the insurgents. In the early 1670’s the increasing flow to the monastery of individuals who had fought in the Peasant War led by S. Razin fueled the uprising and heightened its social significance.

The besieged made group sorties led by elected leaders, among them I. Voronin, a serf who had fled a boyar’s estate, and S. Vasil’ev, a peasant from the monastery. P. Zapruda and G. Krivonoga, fugitive Don cossacks, organized the construction of new fortifications.

By 1674, more than 1,000 heavily armed strel’tsy led by I. Meshcherinov, a voevoda (military commander) of the tsar, were concentrated at the monastery. The insurgents were defending themselves successfully; however, the treachery of the monk Feoktist, who led the strel’tsy to an undefended window in the White Tower, hastened the suppression of the uprising. It was crushed with extraordinary brutality in January 1976, with only 60 of the 500 insurrectionists remaining alive when the fortress was taken. All but a few were later executed. The Solovetskii Uprising was one of the major antifeudal movements of the 17th century.


Baruskov, N. A. Solovelskoe vosstanie (1668–1676 gg.). Petrozavodsk, 1954.
Borisov, A. M. Khoziaistvo Solovetskogo monastyria i bor’ba kres-t’ian s severnymi monastyriami v XVl–XVll vv. Petrozavodsk, 1966. Chapter 4.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.