From Documents in Russian History
The Pugachev Rebellion
Pugachev's first ukaz, September 1773
From the autocratic Emperor, our Great Sovereign Petr Fedorovich of all Russia, and so forth and so forth and so forth. This is my personal ukaz to the Cossack army of the Iaik: Inasmuch as you, my friends, served former tsars with your very flesh and blood, and as your fathers and grandfathers did, so for the sake of your fatherland should you serve me, the great sovereign emperor Petr Fedorovich. When you stand up for your fatherland, your Cossack glory will endure from henceforth for all time and so will that of your children. You, the Cossacks and Kalmucks and Tatars will be rewarded by me, the Sovereign Imperial Majesty Petr Fedorovich. As for those of you who have wronged me, the Sovereign Imperial Majesty Petr Fedorovich, I, the Sovereign Petr Fedorovich, forgive you all your wrongs and reward you with the river from source to mouth, and lands and meadows and money and powder and shot and supplies of grain. Thus I, the great sovereign emperor, reward you.
Pugachev's last ukaz,June 1774
By the grace of God We, Peter the third, Emperor and Autocrat of all Russia, and so forth and so forth and so forth. It is declared for all the people to know. By this personal ukaz We bestow on all those who formerly were peasants and in subjugation to the landowners, along with Our monarchic and paternal compassion, to be dutiful slaves subject directly to Our crown. We grant them the ancient cross and prayer, haircut and beard, freedom and liberty, and they are to be Cossacks forever, not liable to recruitment into the army or to the soul tax or other money taxes, and We grant them tenure of the land and the forests and the hay meadows and the fisheries and the salt lakes, without purchase and without obrok, and we liberate all the aforementioned from the villainous nobles and from the bribe takers in the city--the officials who imposed taxes and other burdens on the peasants and the whole people. We wish everyone salvation of the soul and a peaceful life in this world, for which We have tasted and suffered exile and great wrongs from those villains, the nobles. But since now, by the power of the right hand of the Almighty, Our name now flourishes in Russia, We accordingly do ordain by this personal ukaz: those who formerly were nobles living on estates are enemies to Our power and disrupters of the empire and oppressors of the peasantry, and they should be caught, executed and hanged, they should be treated just as they, who have no Christianity, dealt with you peasants. When these enemies and villains have been eliminated, all may enjoy peace and a quiet life that will last for all time.
Given on this, the 31st day of June, 1774
Petition of Serfs in Kungur District, Perm' Province, to "Peter III"
Most brilliant and autocratic Great Sovereign Petr Fedorovich, Autocrat of all Russia, of Little and White Russia, etc., etc.!
This declaration comes from the Guselinovka ward of the village of Spasskoe in Kungur District, in the name of the entire community through its authorized representatives, Kornilo Prokopov'ev Shiriaev and Ustin Ananienich Medvidev. It addresses the following points:
- 1. We your slaves have, by the grace of God, heard that Your Imperial Majesty, coming from the southern lands in Orenburg Province, has taken on great strength. We praised God that our beautful sun of old, after having hidden beneath the ground, now rises in the East and in its mercy wishes to warm us, Your humble and loyal slaves, with its grace, so we peasants with one accord bow our heads to the very ground.
- 2. We [Your] slaves, all the peasants of the aforementioned ward, most humbly request the tsar's mercy from the officers and do not wish to oppose them in any way. Your Majesty did not declare His anger and punishment towards us, so we ask the lords His officers to spare us from the fatal sword and [ask them] to obey His [Majesty's] orders.
- 3. We also have a great hope that His Tsarist Majesty will mercifully spare us from the vicious, wild poisonous animals, the boyars and officers, and break off their sharp claws--for example, Mikhailo Ivanovich Bashmakov at the Iugov State Factories, also Aleksei Semenovich Elchanov, and, in the town of Kungur, Aleksei Semenovich Elchanov, Dmitrii Popov. These lords make us angry with their declarations that whoever invokes the great name of Petr Fedorovich shall be treated like a great evildoer and done to death.
- 4. To this end, we slaves, all the peasants, have sent reliable people to discover the truth about Your Majesty and to make a deep bow to the very ground before your military commanders, not to resist them. Therefore, if you please, give them encouragement so that we slaves may know of Your Tsarist Majesty's health, for which we slaves would have great jubilation.
- 5. May the humble petition of us slaves receive the gracious attention of Your Majesty, so that we humble folk shall not suffer any harm at the hands of your troops.
Translated by Daniel Field