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City Revolts

The national economy development was accompanied by great social movements. XVII century was even named 'the Boisterous Century' by contemporaries.

The history of city revolts of the century was opened by the Solyanoy Revolt in 1648 in Moscow. Different layers of the capital's population participated in this revolt: townsfolk, streletses, noblemen dissatisfied with the pro-boyards policy of the government of B.I. Morozov. The ground for the revolt was the dispersal of the delegation of muscovites, who wanted to bring a petition about arbitrariness of officials to the Tsar, by strelets troops on June 1.

The pogroms of influential dignitaries' houses began. Duma Clerk Nazary Chistoy was killed, the chief of the Lands Department Leonty Plesheyev was harrowed by the crowd, the official P.T. Trakhaniotov was publicly executed. The Tsar could save Morozov only having cloistered him in the Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery.

The Moscow revolt had a strong response - a wave of social movements in the summer of 1648 went through many cities: Kozlov, Sol Vychegodskaya, Kursk, Veliky Ustyug, etc. The most stubborn and long revolts were in 1650 in Pskov and Novgorod. They were caused by abrupt increase of the prices for bread as a result of the obligation of the government to supply Sweden with grain. In both cities the authority passed to the zemstvo heads. The elected authorities of Novgorod opened the gate to the punitive force of Prince I.N. Khovansky.

Pskov showed successful armed resistance to the governmental armies during a three-monthly siege of the city (June - August, 1650). The zemstvo head Gavriil Demidov became the absolute master of Pskov. He distributed bread and confiscated property of rich townspeople among inhabitants. The emergency Lands Council formed a special delegation for negotiations with people of Pskov. The resistance was ceased only when all the participants of the revolt were officially forgiven.

The so-called 'Copper Revolt' occurred in Moscow in 1662. It was caused by prolonged Russian-Polish War and financial crisis. Currency reform (coining of cheapened copper money) resulted in the slump in the exchange-value of the rouble. That in the first place affected soldiers and strelets troops who received money allowance. The other victims were handicraftsmen and small traders. On July 25, leaflets ('the thieves' letters") were scattered over the whole city. The agitated crowd set off to Kolomenskoye in search of the Tsar. In Moscow itself the insurgents smashed boyards and rich merchants. While the Tsar was trying to persuade the crowd and boyards hid out in distant apartments of the Tsar's palace, the governmental strelets troops came to Kolomenskoye. As a result of the carnage several hundreds of people perished and 18 were publicly hung.

An example of development of a religious struggle into a social one was represented by the Solovetsk Revolt 1668-1676. It began with the fact that the community of the Solovetsk Monastery flatly refused to accept reformed prayer books. The government decided to tame the rebellious monks and laid the siege. High and thick walls, rich stocks of foodstuffs prolonged the siege for several years. The people of Razin, who had been exiled to the Solovetsk Islands, also joined the rebellious monks. It was a betrayal that helped to capture the monastery. Only 60 out of 500 defenders were left alive.

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