ELABUGA - FROM THE PAST IN THE FUTURE...

From the height of the city seems a bright toy in the palm of a giant. (Rafael Ishburiev)

Articles catalog :: Myths of the Elabuga city

Miraculous blinding of Pugachev

One of Elabuga myths says that our city that has undergone to siege of troops during the Peasants' War led by Emelyan Pugachev (1773-1775), was miraculously rescued from pillage and destruction due to the fact that Pugachev suddenly gone blind near Elabuga.


At the end of June 1774 “rebel” and “troublemaker” Emelyan Pugachev came with his army to Elabuga to loot and burn it. It is worth reminding that in the described time our town was village Trehsvyatskoe. In 1780 Trehsvyatskoe became a city and was renamed into Elabuga. Thus, according to I.V. Shishkin, Pugachev who passed himself off as the Emperor Peter III, came to Trehsvyatskoe to punish the inhabitants of the village he “previously heard about that it resisted to his gangs for six months”. Indeed, in January 1773 the villagers repulsed Pugachev’s “gangs” (Pugachev himself wasn’t in our lands).

icon saver

In the uncertain state of mind Pugachev came to Elabuga on 28th of June, 1774. Residents who gathered at the temple of the Saviour were deciding what to do and how to “avert terrible oncoming storm”. They decided to go towards Pugachev with the icon of the Saviour, “hope for the icon was so saving on that unhappy time”. Shishkin says that they were not going to meet the Emperor Peter III, but a “villain who due to Providence had to be the ruler of their life and death for some time”. Priest Gregory Zamyatin went with a pectoral cross. Several people carried the icon, all were sad and silent and waited for what was going to happen. “Foreman of the village Michael Kusakin together with villagers fell down, looking from under their hands on people they meet, but their eyes at that time were too darkened by the fear of death ....”. Pugachev, having drawn attention to the icon of the Saviour, dismounted from his horse and having done three bows to the ground, applied to the cross and the icon.

Pugachev appeared as follows to the residents of Elabuga: “He was of middle height, but broad in shoulders; black beard, small, quick eyes, his clothes were quite Cossack”. After the meeting Pugachev ordered “his troops not to lodge, or just enter” to Elabuga. Residents waiting for their fate could only “confess their sins and pray for miraculous escape”.

The miracle happened in the morning of 29th June: Pugachev “drew his murderous gaze” on Elabuga, but did not see it. Sudden blindness struck Pugachev and his closes. The case threatened to turn into panic. There can be no robbery. Pugachev wanted to go to the temple and pray to Saviour, but he felt that it would scare the residents. One of Pugachev’s closest was sent to pray for him, in the village the man was called “orderly of Pugachev”. He “came to the cathedral church, where a prayer for the health of Emperor Peter III was sang”, and then asked the residents for permission for Pugachev’s army to pass through Elabuga, “assuring them in safety with emperor’s name”. At the time of orderly’s return to Pugachev, he regained his eyesight. “Sudden Pugachev’s blindness and wonderful insight, perhaps, may seem incredible, but the universal voice of the people – the voice of God – rather confirms the truth of this event”, – Shishkin comments his story.

Later the events unfolded in this way: Pugachev’s army pulled out from meadows to the village by the road, “which was close to Nicholas Church”. Residents hid in their homes, waiting for the outcome. Passing by the temple of the Saviour, the rebels took off their hats, crossed themselves and prayed. “Having made no indecorous act, they got out of the village and went by the road to the village Lekarevo. Further the army proceeded to Mamadysh. Kazan and its devastation were ahead. Against this background, it seems strange at least the fact that Pugachev captured Kazan easily, but was not able to cope with a small village called Trehsvyatskoe.

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