Caucasus, Persia and Russia. Eastern policy of Peter I
The Russian state was developing rapidly and this could not but affect the relations between the Russian and Caucasian peoples. If in the initial period of relations between Russia and the Caucasus, there was a vast “desert” between them (almost deserted territory), where it was easier to meet a gang of brigands and steppe udalets than a peaceful, agricultural settlement, then by the beginning of the 18 century the situation had seriously changed. All the space from the Oka to the mouths of the Don and from Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod to Astrakhan was tightly occupied by a chain of towns and villages.
From this time begins the chain of campaigns to the Caucasus, committed under Peter the Great, Catherine I, Anna Ioannovna, Catherine II and Pavel Petrovich. They became more and more common as Russia’s frontiers approached the Caucasus. The reign of Peter Alekseevich became a new stage in the rapprochement of Russia and the Caucasus. By this time, the superiority of the Russian weapons over the Crimean Khanate and the Turks. During the Russian-Turkish war of 1672-1681. the huge Turkish-Crimean army was unable to achieve a decisive victory over the Russian troops, in 1696 the army of Peter took the Azov, the Azov military was created flotilla. Crimean Tatars suffer a series of defeats in their raids.
However, in Caucasian affairs in the first two decades of the 18 century, the Ottoman Empire was in a better position. The Russian state got involved in a hard and long war with the Swedish Empire, trying to establish itself on the shores of the Baltic Sea. At the same time, Persia sharply weakened. The ruling dynasty of Safavids degraded. Shah of Iran Sefi I (reigned from 1628 to 1642 year) died from drunkenness. His son Abbas II (reigned in 1642 - 1667) was limp and also indulged in drunkenness and preferred to stay in a harem rather than engage in politics. State affairs went well only because of the presence of good ministers. Abbas’s son Soleiman Sefi (who ruled between 1666 and 1694 for years) also preferred the harem and wine, suffered from poor health. The quality of management continued to fall and approached the dangerous line. Corruption, the disintegration of the army, the attacks of the Uzbeks and Kalmyks, undermined the state. Shah, apparently, also died due to drunkenness, or a related disease (alcohol finally undermined the ruler’s poor health).
He was succeeded by Soltan Hussein (1694 — 1722), he became the last ruler of the Safavid dynasty, who was the sovereign ruler. He also devoted most of his time to harem and rest in luxurious gardens, was an alcoholic. At the same time, he was a devout Muslim and, under pressure from the Shiite clergy, began persecuting Sufism, whose mystical content was at odds with official Shiism. There has also been an increase in intolerance towards Sunni Muslims, Jews and Christians. It was decided to forcibly convert the followers of Zoroastrianism to Islam. Naturally, this seriously undermined the social peace in Persia. The first to revolt were residents of the Afghan provinces who were dissatisfied with the attack on Sufism. In 1717 — 1720 raised a Sunni rebellion in Kurdistan and Shirvan. In Shirvan, the rebels quickly found support among the Sunnis of Turkey and the Lezghin tribes. In 1721, the Lezgi units occupied the main city of Shirvan Shemakha and slaughtered all the Shiites. She could not cope with other problems. In the Persian Gulf, Arab pirates seized a number of islands. The authorities could not effectively respond to the plague in the northwestern province.
In 1722, Mahmud Khan led the Afghan army at the head of the Shah's army near the city of Golnabad (March 8 1722). Then the Afghans laid siege to the Iranian capital Isfahan. The city was not prepared for the siege, and from March to October 1722, several tens of thousands died from starvation and disease. October 23 1722, Isfahan capitulated, Soltan Hussein resigned from the throne in favor of Mahmud Khan (most of his sons were executed in the 1725 year, and himself in the 1726 year). One of the sons of Soltan Hussein - Tahmasp was able to escape to the north of Persia and declared himself a shah. In 1726, Nadir from the Kyzylbash Afshar tribe entered the service of Tahmasp. Nadir showed the high qualities of the commander and liberated Isfahan in the 1729 year, placing Tahmasp II on the throne, who had no real power in the country. Nadir began a war with Turkey, but Tahmasp, through his inept actions, led to the defeat and loss of new territories. Nadir, using universal discontent with the shah, overthrew Tahmasp (was killed in prison in 1740) and put his eight-month-old son Abbas III on the throne and declared himself regent. In March, 1736, Nadir Khan overthrew Abbas and declared himself a shah. Abbas was sent to prison to his father Tahmasp in Sebzevar, where they were both executed in 1740. Thus, the Safavid dynasty degenerated and was overthrown, and the Persian Empire suffered several serious blows, including in the Caucasus.
Russia's economic interests
Peter's reforms led to the fact that at the beginning of the 18 century, the All-Russian trade market began to take shape. The development of the Russian economy led to the expansion of trade and economic ties with the North and South Caucasus, in general the East. A significant part of trade with the East and the Caucasus region passed through the ancient Volga-Caspian route, which was long mastered by Russian merchants. Large shopping centers were Astrakhan and Nizhny Novgorod.
The development of trade in the North Caucasus required the creation of new strongholds. The main of them continued to remain Terek town, standing at the mouth of the Terek. Cossack villages began to appear around him. Tersky town became a kind of a place of attraction for the Russian people, first of all the Grebensky Cossacks. Grebensy (lived in the foothills - "ridges"), like free settlers, lived along the left bank of the Sunzha and the right Terek. The means of their existence was cattle breeding and hunting. Under Ivan the Terrible, part of the Grebensky Cossacks were attracted to the “sovereign service” and began to receive a salary. They were the escort of the sovereign embassies and the protection of merchant caravans, were part of the garrison of Terek town. Grebentsev can safely be called the border guards of the time. In the XVII century begins the resettlement of the Grebensky Cossacks on the left bank of the Terek, finally it was completed at the beginning of the XVIII century. The move was connected with the pressure of Islamized neighbors (“Chechens and Kumyks began to attack small towns, drive away livestock, horses and polonit people”) and the demand of central authorities who wanted to put the Cossacks under their control. Because of the attacks of the Highlanders, the Cossacks were forced to establish larger settlements instead of the former small villages: Chervlenny, Shadrin (Shchedrinsky), Kurdyukov and Gladkov. In 1721, the Cossacks were subordinated to the Military Collegium and incorporated into the Armed Forces of Russia. In 1723, a new Russian fortress was laid - the Holy Cross, around which 1 thousands of Don Cossack families were settled.
By the beginning of the 18 century, relations between Iran and Russia were peaceful. On both sides there were shipments with friendly assurances, exchange of gifts. Some residents of the neighboring state took Russian citizenship and became public servants. Iran was regularly visited by Russian merchants with the sovereign goods. We went by sea from Astrakhan to Nizovaya Wharf between Derbent and Baku, from there went the way to Shemakha. The overland path went from the Terek town to Tarkov, from there to Derbent. In Astrakhan there was an Armenian courtyard for guests from Transcaucasia. Russian merchant Fedor Kotov visited Persia in the 17 century and 1623 described his path in the year. In particular, he noted that in the Persian capital Isfahan, in the large trading row - Tynchak, there were 200 Russian shops. Everywhere he met his compatriots - in Turki, in Shemakha, Isfahan.
Iron and wooden products, fur, leather, linen, western cloth were exported from Russia. Silk and cotton fabrics, raw silk (formerly in the monopoly of the royal treasury), morocco, suede, oil, madder, rice, spices, precious stones came from the East and Transcaucasia. In addition, notable people appreciated some types of cold arms, for example, Isfahan sabers. East attracted Russian enterprising people. He was a very profitable, albeit risky business. The robbers on the way of merchants could meet on the Volga, and on the Caspian Sea, and in the mountains of the Caucasus. The robbery on the Volga River, despite all the efforts of the authorities, was not translated until the end of the XVIII century. Along the Volga sounded dashing bandit songs:
“We, brothers, are still walking not for the first year.
And we drink-eat on the Volga everything is ready,
We wear a colored dress
Is our fool another villain
Adversary villain, governor dashing,
Dispatches from Kazan are frequent
Sends all expulsion shooters,
Catch us, grab good fellows,
They call us thieves, robbers.
And we, brothers, are not thieves, not robbers,
We are good people, all the guys in the Volga,
We also walk along the Volga not for the first year,
Theft, robbery is pretty there. ”
The Donets done their work “behind the zipuns” across the entire Caspian Sea, although under pressure from Moscow from time to time they took prohibiting decisions so that “no one went to the Volga for theft”. Violators punished death. Some campaigns of the Cossacks took a very large scale, the whole military operations were carried out to capture cities. In 1631, one and a half thousand Don Cossacks, Zaporozhye and Yaik Cossacks entered the Caspian Sea and robbed several merchant caravans. In 1632, the Cossacks were already "walking" along the Iranian coast. “They fought under Derbena, under the Lower River, and under Baka, and the land of Guilan and on the Khvalyn Sea (the Caspian Sea) pogroms many beads with many goods.” At sea, the Cossacks had temporary basing points on the islands at the mouth of the Yaik (Ural) or near the Turkmen, Persian coasts. In 1636, a detachment of Ivan Polenov seized the Iranian city of Ferahabad, and then, along with a detachment of ataman Ivan Samara, robbed caravans in the Caspian Sea and the mouth of the Volga. In 1647, the Cossacks plundered settlements along the Kura River. Ivan Kondyrev's squad in 1649-1650 acted on the Caspian so famously that interrupted trade relations between Iran and Russia. But the most famous operation of the Cossacks was Stepan Razin's raid in the 1668-1669. The Cossacks not only very thoroughly “walked” along the coast of Persia, but also destroyed the Shah’s fleet in a naval battle.
Trade people were threatened not only by robbers. Court could delay or break bad weather. The merchants who went through Dagestan were forced to pay duties when crossing the borders of various possessions, while there was no guarantee that they would not be robbed by free “mountain people” or even the rulers themselves. So, in 1660, Tarkovsky Shamkhal robbed the Moscow guests of Shorin, Filatiev, Denisov and Zadorin on 70 thousand rubles (at that time it was very big money). Merchants could be offended by local officials demanding “gifts”, arrested for no apparent reason, they were deceived when exchanging goods, etc. Ambassador Artemy Volynsky noted that persian. And yet the benefits of trade with the East, forced the Russian people to take this risk.
In the 17 century, Russia was involved in the silk trade. By this time, the former significance of the Great Silk Road had faded. After the collapse of the power of Timur, Central Asia disintegrated into a mass of large and small possessions, which led a continuous struggle. In addition, the voyage from China to the Persian Gulf took about 150 days, and the caravan route from Azov to Beijing took about 300 days. And one merchant ship was carrying as much cargo as a large caravan of several hundred camels. But the collapse of the entire system did not mean the decline of some of its individual links. Persia became the main supplier of fabrics and raw silk. From the Sicilian kingdom, silk weaving skill spread throughout the Italian and German states, France (Lyon became one of the most famous production centers), Flanders, and Holland. But production depended on the supply of raw materials. In addition to the prestige and aesthetic qualities of silk, it possessed a very important quality for Western Europe (due to its low level of hygiene), it prevented the reproduction of parasites.
Pavolok's precious fabrics have been known in Russia since the time of the Old Russian state. Brocade (from Persian "brocade" - matter), "oksamit", "porphyry", "purple" has long been used to sew princely robes, church covers, priestly robes. The most common in 16-17 centuries. silk fabrics were velvet, damask, satin, taffeta and others (altogether Russian sources of that time know more than twenty types of imported silk fabrics). Being separated from the world trade routes and only recovering from the Troubles Russia has unexpectedly acquired advantageous positions on the silk market. So according to the Swedish resident in Russia, the journey from Gilan (this Caspian province gave almost half of Persian silk) to Hormuz in the Persian Gulf was 86-90 days long, each camel that carried two bales of silk and cost 2 rubles. 63 cop., And the way along the Caspian Sea to Astrakhan was shorter and the same load cost in 1 rubles. 50 cop Merchants were able to keep track of money.
Part of the silk was transited to the West, but European merchants did not get the right to travel to Iran through Russia and were forced to deal with Russian guests, who held a high price. The first of Europeans, the Portuguese led the way to the Persian Gulf, followed by the British and the Dutch. Between the Dutch and the British even broke out fighting. Then the French entered the region. Europeans tried to penetrate into Iran and the north. But all attempts to reach an agreement with Moscow failed. In 1614 and 1620 the English were politely but firmly sent, the Dutch in 1615, the French in 1629 and the Swedes in 1664. Moscow officials explained the ban to losses to the treasury and the merchants, or demanded to provide support with money and weapons, which was already unprofitable for the Europeans.
Only the ambassadors of the small Holstein duchy succeeded in winning the Moscow government in 1634: the German merchants company received the right to trade free of duty with Persia and India for 10 years, but the Germans paid annually to the Russian treasury 600 thousand thalers (300 thousand rubles). Interestingly, even then one of the German merchants, Otto Brugeman, proposed Moscow a radical plan to expand Russia's eastern trade. He offered the Russians to seize the Caspian regions of Persia (Gilan, Mazandaran and Astrabad) in order to establish control over most of the Iranian silk production, and at the same time over fishing, seaports and other profitable enterprises. Then in Moscow this proposal of strategic importance did not respond (the time had not yet come).
However, even then Moscow tried to direct and control the export of Iranian silk through Russia, resorting to the help of merchants from New Julfa (Armenian suburb of Isfahan). The Armenians resettled from their homeland in the 17 century took up the silk trade not only in Transcaucasia, but also Iran. In 1667, a contract was concluded with representatives of this company in Moscow, but Stepan Razin’s uprising prevented its implementation. The new contract was concluded in 1673 year. But it was not possible to direct the export of all silk only through Russia. Only about 1 thousand pounds a year were sent to Russia annually. According to the calculations of a representative of the Armenian company and the Shah's envoy, Grigory Lusikov, the annual export of Iranian silk to Europe was at least 48 thousand pounds (8 thousand bales, the bale was 6 pounds). The main stream of silk went through the caravan routes through the Turkish Izmir and Aleppo, and the Persian Gulf, where the British and the Dutch controlled this trade.
Peter Alekseevich did not forget about trade in silk. Under the Senate decree of 2 in March 1711, preferential terms were extended not only to members of the Julfa company, but also to other Armenian merchants, which was supposed to contribute to the task of multiplying Persian bargaining.
Peter I planned to develop not only trade with Iran and the East, he looked much further. The king was distinguished by this strategic, global planning ...
To be continued ...
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.