Razin, Stephen Timofeevich
RAZIN, STEPHEN TIMOFEEVICH (d. 1671), Cossack hetman and rebel, whose parentage and date and place of birth are unknown. We first hear of him in 1661 on a diplomatic mission from the Don Cossacks to the Kalmuck Tatars, and in the same year we meet him on a pilgrimage of a thousand miles to the great Solovetsky monastery on the White Sea " for the benefit of his soul." After that all trace of him is lost for six years, when he reappears as the leader of a robber community established at Panshinskoe, among the marshes between the rivers Tishina and Ilovlya, from whence he levied blackmail on all vessels passing up and down the Volga. His first considerable exploit was to destroy the " great water caravan " consisting of the treasury-barges and the barges of the patriarch and the wealthy merchants of Moscow. He then sailed down the Volga with a fleet of thirty-five galleys, capturing the more important forts on his way and devastating the country. At the beginning of 1668 he defeated the voivode Jakov Bezobrazov, sent against him from Astrakhan, and in the spring embarked on a predatory expedition into Persia which lasted for eighteen months. Sailing into the Caspian, he ravaged the Persian coasts from Derbend to Baku, massacred the inhabitants of the great emporium of Resht, and in the spring of 1669 established himself on the isle of Suina, off which, in July, he annihilated a Persian fleet sent against him. Stenka, 1 as he was generally called, had now become a potentate with whom princes did not disdain to treat. In August 1669 he reappeared at Astrakhan, and accepted a fresh offer of pardon from the tsar there; the common people were fascinated by his adventures. The semi-Asiatic kingdom of Astrakhan, where the whole atmosphere was predatory and nine-tenths of the population were nomadic, was the natural milieu for such a rebellion as Stenka Razin's. In 1670 Razin, while ostensibly on his way to report himself at the Cossack headquarters on the Don, openly rebelled against the government, captured Cherkask, Tsaritsyn and other places, and on the 24th of June burst into Astrakhan itself. After massacring 1 Steevy.
all who opposed him, and giving the rich bazaars of the city over to pillage, he converted Astrakhan into a Cossack republic, dividing the population into thousands, hundreds and tens, with their proper officers, all of whom were appointed by a vyecka or general assembly, whose first act was to proclaim Stephen Timofeevich their gosudar (sovereign). After a three weeks' carnival of blood and debauchery Razin quitted Astrakhan with two hundred barges full of troops to establish the Cossack republic along the whole length of the Volga, as a preliminary step towards advancing against Moscow. Saratov and Samara were captured, but Simbirsk defied all efforts, and after two bloody encounters close at hand on the banks of the Sviyaga (October 1st and 4th), Razin was ultimately routed and fled down the Volga, leaving the bulk of his followers to be extirpated by the victors. But the rebellion was by no means over. The emissaries of Razin, armed with inflammatory proclamations, had stirred up the inhabitants of the modern governments of Nizhniy-Novgorod, Tambov and Penza, and penetrated even so far as Moscow and Great Novgorod. It was not difficult to revolt the oppressed population by the promise of deliverance from their yoke. Razin proclaimed that his object was to root out the boyars and all officials, to level all ranks and dignities, and establish Cossackdom, with its corollary of absolute equality, throughout Muscovy. Even at the beginning of 1671 the issue of the struggle was doubtful. Eight battles had been fought before the insurrection showed signs of weakening, and it continued for six months after Razin had received his quietus. At Simbirsk his prestige had been shattered. Even his own settlements at Saratov and Samara refused to open their gates to him, and the Don Cossacks, hearing that the patriarch of Moscow had anathematized Stenka, also declared against him. In 1671 he was captured at Ragalnik, his last fortress, and carried to Moscow, where, on the 6th of June, after bravely enduring unspeakable torments, he was quartered alive.
See N. I. Kostomarov, The Rebellion of Stenka Razin (Rus.) (2nd ed., Petersburg, 1859); S. M. Solovev, History of Russia (Rus.), vol. ii. (Petersburg, 1895, etc.); R. N. Bain, The First Romanovs (London, 1905). (R. N. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)