Stenka Razin

Stenka Razin
R: Vladimir Romashkov. B: Vasilii Goncharov. K: Aleksandr O. Drankov, Nikolai Kozlovsky. D: Jevgenij Petrov-Krayevsky. P: Aleksandr O. Drankov. RUS 1908
Italian titles

“Stenka Razin, byname of Stepan Timofeyevich Razin (born c. 1630, Zimoveyskaya-na-Donu, Russia—died June 16 [June 6, Old Style], 1671, Moscow), leader of a major Cossack and peasant rebellion on Russia’s southeastern frontier (1670–/71).
Born into a well-to-do Don Cossack family, Stenka Razin grew up amid the tension caused by the inability of runaway serfs, who were continually escaping from Poland and Russia to the Don Cossack area, to find land and comfortably settle in the prosperous Cossack communities.
In 1667 Razin made himself the head (hetman) of a small band of landless newcomers and adventurers and established a new Cossack outpost on the upper Don, near the course of the Volga River. For the next three years he carried out daring raids on Russian and Persian settlements, seizing a large Volga River flotilla that was carrying goods owned by the Tsar, capturing (1668) the town of Yaik on the Yaik (now Ural) River, attacking by sea and destroying the Muslim settlements of Derbent, Baku, and Rasht on the Caspian Sea in Persia, and defeating a fleet sent against him by the shah of Persia (1669).
Having acquired great fame and wealth, Razin returned to the Don and in 1670 launched a new campaign against the tsar’s fortress cities on the Volga. With a force of about 7,000 Cossacks, he seized Tsaritsyn (now Volgograd) and Astrakhan. In both towns Razin and his men had engaged in drunken orgies and perpetrated savage atrocities against the nobles and military officers; he also replaced the local governments with Cossack institutions of self-rule. Encouraged by his success, he decided to continue his advance up the Volga, and along the way he incited the peasantry and urban lower classes to join his rebellion against the nobility and bureaucracy (but not against the tsar). He captured Saratov and, with a force that had swollen to 20,000, proceeded to Simbirsk, while his insurrection spread throughout the Volga region into the lands adjoining the Don and Donets rivers and even into some of the central provinces of the Russian state.”

Written by: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

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