Sysknye Prikazy

Sysknye Prikazy


(Prikazy Sysknykh Del), in 17th-century Russia, state institutions for the search, pursuit, and capture of fugitive peasants, fugitive slaves (kholopy), and posadskie liudi (merchants and artisans) who had fled their communes (obshchiny).

(1) Sysknye Prikazy po Sysky Posadskikh Liudei (Sysknye Prikazy for the Search, Pursuit, and Capture of Posadskie Liudi). Until 1619 the pursuit and capture of fugitive zakladchiki (seeZAKLADNICHESTVO) from merchants’ and artisans’ urban quarters (posady) were entrusted to existing prikazy. In 1619 a special Prikaz Sysknykh Del was established and given responsibility for pursuit and capture throughout the entire country. It met with resistance from lay and ecclesiastical feudal lords, and its efforts came to naught. In 1638 a new Sysknoi Prikaz was formed. It survived until 1642, carrying out its work among the zakladchiki of Yaroslavl, Moscow, and several other cities. After the urban uprisings of the mid-17th century, the government decided to confiscate private slobody (tax-exempt settlements) belonging to lay and ecclesiastical feudal lords. In order to carry out this measure, which was given legislative expression in Article 19 of the Sobornoe Ulozhenie (Assembly Code) of 1649, it established a new Sysknoi Prikaz, headed by Prince Iu. A. Dolgorukov. The new institution was most active in the period 1649–1652. In subsequent years it carried out private pursuits and captures and resolved disputes involving fugitives from urban quarters.

(2) Sysknye Prikazy po Sysku Beglykh Krest’ian i Kholopov (Sysknye Prikazy for the Search, Pursuit, and Capture of Fugitive Peasants and Slaves). Until the mid-17th century, the pursuit and capture of fugitives were the private concern of feudal landowners. In the 1650’s, when the flight of peasants and slaves took on alarming proportions, the nobility demanded that the government itself take on these duties. Thus were formed the Sysknye Prikazy po Sysku Beglykh Krest’ian i Kholopov. Each was temporary, limiting its activities to a certain area, to one or several districts (uezdy). Each was headed by a nobleman appointed by the central government. Locally, the voevoda (military governor) gave this nobleman the services of a detachment consisting of strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers), cossacks, or cannoneers as well as a clerk (pod’iachii) for chancery work. These prikazy concentrated their work in southern, eastern, and northern Russia, to which large numbers of fugitives fled. The state’s pursuit and capture of fugitive peasants and slaves through the Sysknye Prikazy was an important step toward practical realization of the principle of the peasants’ perpetual dependence, as established by the Sobornoe Ulozhenie of 1649.

(3) Prikaz Sysknykh Zastavnykh Del (Prikaz of Quarantine Enforcement), an agency that functioned from 1657 through the 1660’s with responsibility for taking preventive measures against epidemics. It was especially concerned with determination of the extent of the depopulation caused by the epidemics of 1654 and 1655.

(4) Sysknoi Prikaz, an institution established in 1662 for investigation of those who took part in the Moscow Uprising of 1662 (the Copper Riot). It was abolished after the completion of the investigation.