ELABUGA - FROM THE PAST IN THE FUTURE...

While painting Elabuga, I mentally transferred there - how many impressions and memories! (Ivan Shishkin)

Articles catalog :: City history

Elabuga during the years of Pugachev rebellion

??????? ??????? ??????? ? ? ???????In 1773-1775 a strong wave of public indignation passed on boundless scope between Don and Ural that went down in history as peasant war under Emelyan Pugachev or just Pugachev rebellion. Though Elabuga territory was on northern part of area surrounded by antigovernment actions, local populace took part in all stages of this movement very actively. This activity was conditioned by set of reasons.

First of all, since the 60-s of XVIII century feudal serf strengthened considerably on the territory. Gavel work increased to four-five days at landowner’s peasants. Landowners got the right to send their people on deportation to Siberia, on hard labour. Tens of thousands of bonded peasants worked in Kazan Admiralty, on mining plants. Secondly, main category of local populace – state (former tribute-paying) peasants – were exhausted by laschmann works that in fact brought to inevitable ruin of worker’s farm. Besides this, strong displease at peoples of Volga and Kama territory was caused by politics of forced Christianization and Russification that was conducted by autocracy by means of local power.

First rebel bands at Elabuga appeared at the end of October – beginning of November from behind Vyatka. They were brought here by sotnik Sharif Yakupov and foreman Kuzmet Ishmetov. Cossack captain Timothy Grigoryev brought peasants from villages Borovetskoye, Chalny and Orlovka (now territory of city Naberezhnye Chelny), and Cossack captain Fedot Nikolayev – “Pashennykh Cossacks” from Tarlovka. Christened Tatar Gregory Artemyev led peasants from villages Big and Small Shilnya at Elabuga. One of the formed in Kama territory detachments more than 600 people strength crossed Kama in Betki and on the beginning of November also approached Elabuga.

Badly armed and poorly trained rebels, having not enough forces to take the town, sent a herald with demand to send Elabuga representatives for negotiations. Negotiations took place not far from the town, on a lawn. Rebels’ representative red Pugachev’s decree, called to recognize “Peter III” as tsar, demanded the decree to be red in front of people. But spiritual counselors of the town who had power in their hands, hid Pugachev’s decrees from Elabuga people and stated to prepare the town for defence: armed numerous priests and other ranks with “hunting rifles, poleaxes, posted sentry having chosen more or less able". At the same time town’s lower classes were ready to accept rebelled detachments.

Volost’ centre village Tanayka, population of which was in malevolent relations with Elabuga people, in that days became one of rising seat in Kama region, a place of gathering and base station of rebels. Since the end of September small Tatar-Udmurt and Russian detachments started to attack Elabuga periodically. In December they united into one big detachment and have been preparing for decisive fight for the town. Rebels were led by yasak Tatars of Kazan uyezd – foreman Kuzmet Ishmetov, sotnik and ataman Sharif Yakupov and made a real slaughter there. More than 200 captive rebels were withdrawn to the nearest field were all of them were killed. Deputy of Sh. Yapupov – sotnik Nazar Alexeev who was taken prisoner, was hung. Property of victims was distributed between Elabuga “holy fathers” as a compensation for detriment induced by “thieves”. The same was fortune of other 17 rebel villages. Into few days “whole villages became totally desolated and long yeas served to populate them again”. I.V. Shishkin wrote that “behind village Tanayka two ravines that are full of their dead bodies and pelted with earth are known”. Inhabitants who remained alive scattered, houses were burned down.

Peasants’ actions in Elabuga region abate for almost half year. Bloodless villages healed their wounds. Therewith, field works began in May. War is war, but a family needs to eat.

In June 1774 the army of rebels appeared again in Kama region. After unsuccessful siege of Orenburg, Pugachev moved to Kama having passed across Ural plants. Having captured Osa and crossed the river with seven thousands army, he captured Botkin’s and Izhevsk’s plants. Pugachev came to Elabuga cross villages Agryz, Tisya, Alnashy, Kamaevo and Bonduga. His way passed across village Sarali.

Some sources state that Pugachev arrived to Elabuga on June 28 and “after having celebrated loudly with grandiose carouse his name day under name Peter III” in Sarali, were he stopped in the house of factory owner and rich merchant S.T. Krasilnikov (according to N.P. Rychkov), next morning he moved to Elabuga. There he received a delegation of Elabuga people leaded by Mikhail Kusakin (son of “mordianyi preacher” Ivan Kusakin), he placed his army to the north and south of suburbs and spend a night in a marquee “not further than one mile”.

If to believe to well-known works of (“History of town Elabuga” by I. Shishkin, “Hello, Elabuga”, “District Elabuga” by Savina etc.), were this information is cited, Emelyan Pugachev spent at least two nights at Elabuga. But all the documents show to another course of events. According to them on June 28 “the autocrat” still moves to the south from Izhevsk plant, and on June 29 he lets to rest to the army in Agryz. So he could arrive to Elabuga not early than June 1 at noon. Having received the delegation leaded by volost foreman (in view of fact that city and church leaders went to Kazan in good time) and discussed the terms of expression of citizens’ obedience, Pugachev still settled down out of the margins of fortress’ walls.

Bigger part of Pugachev’s forces settled for night to the north of the suburb in a field (in the area of modern Kazan Mother of God Monastery). “The Prince” did not want that lieutenant colonel Mickelson who was hot on his trails caught him unawares. He didn’t know that chastisers at this time only started to build a crossing through Kama above Pianyi Bor at village Karakulino. E. Pugachev with his staff and part of army settled at the bank of river Toyma on Menzelin road, area from Kama to Betki was well within view from there, colonel Obernibesov went fast marching there from Menzelinsk.

Elabuga residents said that there was a numberless quantity of rebels. In truth, strength of basic army rarely reached 15-20 thousands people. E. Pugachev who continually received new peasants’ detachments from his emissaries, didn’t care too much about their retention. And peasants are not Cossacks, they didn’t stay too long at “The Prince”. Judging from correspondence of Pugachev’s colonel Backtiar Kankaev with Pugachev, numerous Tatar-Russian detachments worked along Kama banks. Kankaev with his forces played a great role not only in staffing of Pugachev’s army, but also in covering it from Kama side. At Elabuga Pugachev as well as anywhere accepted new teams of peasants and their delegations, set his people over suburbs and volosts.

By all signs, Pugachev was in a hurry. Elabuga that during winter campaign resisted bitterly, and under walls of which almost thousands rebels fell on field of battle, was forgiven. Even demonstrative executes were not arranged here, as it was in Agryz or Mamadysh. This was a reason for appearance of another myth, according to which Pugachev who arrived to Elabuga became blind towards morning and recovered his sight only after some period of time, and interpreted it as a bad presage and evident “God’s intercession”, he ordered severely his people not to make any harm to townspeople.

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But probably amounts of “gifts” to “Peter Fedorovich” were so great that he severely forbade his mixed army to make any robbery to townspeople. On July 2 “the army” entered Elabuga through Nikolsky Gates, crossed northern-western part of fortress and went out through Kazan Gates. Camp was made on river Tanaika to the south of village Kolosovka. Here delegations from different neighboring villages arrived. “The Prince” thanked everyone for fidelity, especially tanaevsky peasants, and by tradition granted with “lands, waters, forests and fisheries”. Further way of rebel army aimed Kazan. Having passed through Lekarevo, Murzikha and crossed river Viatka, this army occupied Mamadysh on July 4.

After Pugachev’s leaving, leaders of Elabuga were in a rather difficult position. In volosts power was in hands of rebels. All crossings through Kama were under control of Backtiar Kankaev. He passed by Elabuga on July 3 as leader of large detachment. Covering Pugachev’s rear, he hurried to Mamadysh (note that Kankaev got highest Pugachev’s rank “brigadier” in Mamadysh). But at the same time at wharf Betki colonel Obernibesov destroyed Pugachev’s “flotilla”, and barges with bread were sent to Elabuga. Towards the evening of July 5 Elabuga people got the news that two thousands detachment of colonel Mickelson crossed river Izh and goes fast marching by traces of Pugachev. If only they knew that Mickelson won’t appear in Elabuga but will go fast marching far to the north (through Grakhovo) and cross river Vyatka at village Nizhnie Shuni, that is 45 km above Mamadysh. Inclination of chastisers to deal shortly even with officials, who showed loyalty to impostor had to provoke grounded anxiety at “city fathers” for their future. The same feeling, perhaps, was at “holy fathers”. And then as a salvation appears the legend about Pugachev’s blindness. And now try to contest the divine interference in XVIII.
 

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