The deportation of greek settlers to siberia in the 17th century: routes and destinies

Tatiana Oparina

Abstract


This article is devoted to the exile of Greeks to Siberia during the first half of the 17th century. Siberia’s colonisation by voluntary immigrants and exiles gave rise to a complex ethno-cultural environment characterised by a mixture of cultures and traditions. It may seem surprising that Greek immigrants lived in such a severe climate, but a colony was formed in Tomsk in the 17th century: it consisted of exiles sent from Moscow to Siberia for various crimes. Exiles would often have unusual fates, which is illustrated here by four biographies. Two exiles (Stepan Aleksandrov and Nikolay Petrov son Skularikov) were false monks who had come to Moscow to collect donations: they then practised alchemy with the help of a magic crystal in an attempt to make gold. The other two came from Trebizond and might have been related. Yuri Trapezundsky had served as an Algerian corsair and as a Dutch and English soldier. In Moscow, he rose through the ranks to become a captain in the Inozemsky Prikaz (Office for the Affairs of Foreigners). Manuil Konstantinov had been taken from his homeland by Don Cossacks during a raid and then sold to a German goldsmith in Russia. The fact that he was an Orthodox Christian helped him regain his freedom. During the Smolensk War (1632–1634), these two Greeks found themselves behind enemy lines and provided the Polish commanders with important information about the state of the Russian troops. Managing to leave Poland, they decided to return to Russia to serve in the Inozemsky Prikaz. During a major conflict in the Greek community a decade later, Yuri Trapezundsky and Manuil Konstantinov were denounced. They were charged with treason and exiled to Siberia. In Tomsk, they met Stepan Aleksandrov and together participated in numerous activities, such as uprisings, the exploration of new lands, and the construction of jails. They also helped subject indigenous Siberian peoples to Russian rule.


Keywords


immigration; the conquest of Siberia; Greek colony; ethno-cultural environment.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.1.218

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