Demidovs: gunsmiths, entrepreneurs, patrons of art
The first information about the domestic mining business dates back to the era of John III, when copper and silver ores were discovered in the Pechora basin. The first iron factory was built in Tobolsk Province in the year 1628 during the reign of Tsar Mikhail Romanovich. The term "plant", if we take it in its current sense, was, of course, too loud for an ordinary forge, which, in fact, was the above-mentioned enterprise and in which inferior iron was produced in small quantities. Such “artisanal” metal production was extremely small and could not satisfy all the needs of the country, and therefore, until the sixteenth century, imported iron was mainly used in Russia.
More specific data on the emergence of large factory enterprises in Russia refer only to the end of the seventeenth century. Both “handicraft” enterprises and new factories were engaged only in the most necessary and most prosaic metal - iron. The processing and production of more noble metals was unknown at that time in Russia. Despite the fact that all sorts of ores were located almost on the surface of the earth, lack of knowledge, enterprise and capital, together with the structure of the public life of that time, did not allow them to be used, and metals had to be brought from abroad. Until the end of the seventeenth century, even steel and iron came from Sweden, which caused great inconvenience, especially during conflicts with this state, when goods grew in price and their transportation across the border was difficult.
Peter I, fighting with Sweden, was in dire need of various metals. It is known that the king even poured church bells on the cannons, which helped the people to strengthen the nickname “Antichrist”. Not relying on home-grown talents, the tsar discharged mining and metallurgical specialists from Europe and “miners” from Europe. Among them, by the way, was the famous Vilim de Gennin, a man of tremendous energy and knowledge, who founded a factory business in the Olonets region. However, Peter I’s chance encounter with Nikita Demidovich Antufiev, a blacksmith from Tula, transferred the problem of mining in our country to a completely different soil, triggering the development of private enterprise.
The most important persons in the Demidov family are, undoubtedly, its ancestors - the Tula blacksmith Nikita and his eldest son Akinfiy. Historians have little information about Nikita’s childhood and youth, which was born in the 1656 year. It is only known that Nikita's father was called Demid Grigorievich and he was a peasant from the village of Pavshino, located near Tula. Deciding to do forge work at a local arms factory, he moved to the city, and in the 1664 year, when his son was eight years old, he died. Nikita followed in the footsteps of his father, becoming a blacksmith master. The childhood of the future industrialist was spent in hard work and severe deprivations, having developed in him a mighty character and indomitable energy in the pursuit of his intended goal.
Whether Nikita Demidovich was literate - there are no exact instructions to that effect, however, he always ordered him to sign for himself to Akinfy or to his bailiffs. There is a number of evidence that he was able, with a sin in half, to read. Akinfiy, however, was able to read and write quite tolerably, and he independently kept records in factory and trading books. Undoubtedly, the education of the first Demidovs, like most of the inhabitants of Russia at that time, was not good, but they had a remarkable ability to work, technical skills and knowledge gained through long years of work in the workshops, as well as the unique natural sharpness that distinguishes many Russian people.
Regarding the manner in which the Tula master armorer Nikita Antufiev became known to the king, there are several legendary legends. According to one of them - the most reliable - the founder of the famous dynasty during his journey through Tula to some metropolitan grandee (perhaps Baron Peter Shafirov) corrected him for the broken pistol of the popular European gunsmith Kuchenreiter, and also made another one the same not inferior to the original. This became known to Peter I, who ordered that the Tula gunsmith be brought to him.
What the Tsar and Nikita Antufiev said at the first meeting did not survive, but it is known that shortly after that Nikita brought Peter to Moscow a batch of six perfectly made guns, assigning a fee for them to 1 for each 80 ruble. By the way, the treasury previously paid for the same guns abroad for fifteen rubles apiece.
It happened at the height of the Swedish war. Of course, the king was delighted that he had found such a skilled and enterprising master in his homeland. Peter the Great, who could not postpone business, immediately ordered Nikita Antufyev in Malinova Zasek, twelve versts from Tula, to take several acres of land for burning coal and extracting iron ore. According to the testimony at parting, the king presented 100 rubles to the blacksmith, saying: "Demidych, try to spread your factory, and I will not leave you."
Thus, with the support of the king, Nikita built a huge ironworks in the mouth of the Tulitsa at the water-powered machines, becoming at low prices to supply various military shells to the Pushkarsky order, and to the treasury - guns that were not inferior in quality to foreign ones. Peter did not forget his pet, allowing him in 1701 to increase the plant and giving him the ownership of the streltsky land nearby. Since then, "Demidych" received the exclusive right to mine ore in Malinova Zasek, as well as a strip for burning coal in Shcheglovskaya Zasek in its entire width and five miles in length. However, Peter I, not hesitating with his previous orders, soon forbade the breeder to cut in Ash, Maple and Oak in Shcheglovskaya Zasek, which the country needed for building ships. This circumstance, greatly complicating Nikita Antufiev due to the lack of necessary fuel material, was the cause of the events that promoted the Demidov family to one of the most honorable places in the history of mining in Russia, while at the same time providing them with tremendous wealth.
The ores near Tula did not have any high qualities, limiting the productivity of the plant by Nikita Antufiev. An industrialist was beckoning to himself a desert and untouched Ural ridge with its fabulous deposits of ores, with diverse and inexhaustible mineral riches. And beyond the Urals were the Siberian mountains and steppes, uninhabited and awaiting enterprising pioneers. That was where the Tula blacksmith turned.
In 1696, voivode Protasiev provided Peter I with samples of iron ore from the Neiva river. The king sent them for analysis abroad, and transferred some of the pieces to Demidych. Nikita made several castles, rifles and felts out of this ore, declaring that Nevyansky iron was no worse than the Swedish-known European. Test results came from abroad - our hardware was found to be excellent. Already in 1698, Peter built a plant in Neive, and in his head a brave Tula blacksmith conceived a plan on how to transfer his activities to a distant, but fantastically rich region. According to one of the stories, the king had dinner when he was informed about the arrival of the Antufyevs, Nikita, and his eldest son Akinfiy, who was born on 1678. The king sat them at his table, fed them, and then listened. At this dinner, the Tula gunsmith, who had gathered courage, asked the tsar to give him the Nevyansk factory, and Peter agreed.
What prompted the king to give the go-ahead for the transfer of thousands of acres of land, the richest ore deposits and a plant into private hands is not known for certain. Perhaps the main reason was that under the state administration, the plants operated inadequate and were expensive, and meanwhile Nikita Demidovich had already managed to earn his trust. The master of Tula proved to be a talented organizer and an energetic entrepreneur, he knew perfectly the factory work, had a phenomenal memory and preferred to personally delve into all the details of the factory economy. Both he and his son Akinfiy personally observed and supervised all the work. On this occasion, Nikita said: "Plants, as the child of the child, require a master's eye and care."
Anyway, the letter from 4 March 1702, the Verkhotursky and Nevyansky plants (on Neiva and Tagil) with huge territories of lands and forests, including the famous Magnetic Mountain, were given to Nikita Antufyev, who has since become Demidov. For all the wealth given, the Tula blacksmith had to pay the treasury with iron for five years at the cost of the factories. He did this much more quickly - in three years. The same famous diploma gave Nikita permission to buy people for their businesses. This right appeared, in view of the condition that in the dense areas of the Urals there were very few free workers, so necessary for the breeder. And on January 9, Peter, with the aim of “multiplying plants”, ordered to assign to the Demidov plants Krasnopolskaya and Ayatsky parishes, the village of Pokrovskoye with all the villages, peasants and lands. For this, the Demidovs annually gave the amount of iron that was previously deposited by the peasants of the villages assigned to the monastery and treasury.
Speaking of the huge benefits granted by Demidov, it is worth noting that the factory owners did not have to look for markets for sales - this market was all of Russia, which was in dire need of iron. True, the owners of the Nevyansk deposits were obliged to supply supplies to the treasury at extremely low prices, but the Demidovs were rescued by the fact that they had practically no competitors. There were few private breeders before them, and only the example of the Demidovs forced enterprising people to flock to the Urals. Unfortunately, most of them, because of the inability to do business or the lack of desire to constantly and hard work, burned through.
With the acquisition of the Ural factories by Demidov, the personality of Akinfiy came to the fore. Despite the fact that the name of Nikita is mentioned in all acts relating to the activities of the Ural enterprises, everyone there, in fact, was in charge of 24-year-old Akinfiy - a stern and active person who is a good owner and tireless entrepreneur. In the early summer of 1702, he, accompanied by twelve Tula masters, went to live and work at the Nevyansk plant. Nikita Demidov remained in Tula, receiving an order from Peter to make twenty thousand guns in 1702.
Work at Akinfiy was in full swing - during his work in the Urals, he alone and with his father built over two dozen iron and steel mills, some of which, in particular, Nizhny Tagil, became famous in Europe for their products (Demidov sorted iron). Under the state administration, the Verkhoturye plants produced thousands of tons of iron per year 15-20. At the Demidovs at the same factories, up to 350-400 thousands of poods of iron were produced - an enormous amount for that time.
Breeders were allowed to send the best posad blacksmiths from Tula to the Ural factories. At the Nevyansk plant, the exiled Swedes and Poles also worked, from which a whole settlement was later formed. Obviously, these captives, who know a lot about mining, helped the Demidov, at the then primitive techniques, to put the case at a sufficient height and to achieve not only the required strength in the products, but also grace. In Nevyansk, a gun drill was organized, which allowed Nikita to take an order for several hundred guns required for a war with a "Swede."
Peter also did not leave his "Demidych" favors. In 1709, the Tula blacksmith was granted a personal nobility, and on September 21 1720 was elevated to a hereditary nobility, which, after his death, by the decree of Catherine I of 1726, was extended to children with the privilege: “no descendants, not to use or select any services”. Nevertheless, much in the new life was not to the humble old Nikita Demidov's heart. Meeting with the grandees and the fear of some kind of denunciation or trick on their part, the constant bickering with the local authorities made him very tired, but he, to his credit, did not change the habits of the working man, wealth and power did not turn his head, he never swagged the nobility which, by the way, he was forced to accept. His harsh and harsh nature also changed little - he did not allow indulgences, did not tolerate drunk and lazy, and for all the misdemeanors the guilty had a strict judge in his person.
It must be said that mining in Siberia before 1719 was under the control of a whole crowd of bosses. In the 1700, the Ore Order was founded, but the governors and the governors were at the scene. In addition, there was a Siberian order, to which all of Siberia was subject in judicial and administrative matters. In addition to these structures, Demidov had to negotiate with the then naval and military departments, where they supplied their products. It is clear that each of these authorities constantly got into the sphere of action of the other in search of "feeding." It is also worth adding that each factory product was subject to an infinite range of fees and duties - 10% in-kind collection from the product, internal customs duties, weight, second-hand, most expensive, spring and berth, with hiring supply. There were no specific rules regarding all of these fees, and often they were calculated absolutely incorrectly even in the arithmetic respect - as God will put to the soul. But for the default of these charges, the owners of the metals could be subject to fines, penalties and confiscation of property. All this delayed the development of mining, and only with the publication of the first mining law in 1719, the situation in this area began to improve.
In addition, the sudden rise and rapid enrichment of the Demidovs made them a bunch of opponents and envious. Starting with the local governor and ending with the last clerk, many tried to oppress the breeders and denigrate them to the highest authority, accusing them of hiding iron and not paying duties. For the time being, the Demidovs successfully got out of the coarse nets. Peter even ordered the governor not to pry into the factory business, and Nikita to be in charge of the Siberian order. When the unfounded accusations that the Demidovs were keeping fugitives in their factories appeared, people from the search office were sent to the field. The search lasted three years, and, obviously, the Tula blacksmiths, who have a big sin on the “runaway” side, had to spend a lot of money in order to agree with the members of the commission. In the 1715 year, when a large order was required for the admiralty, the king, in view of the many denunciations of the Demidovs, ordered Prince Dolgorukov to investigate the case and compare the prices of different contractors. It turned out that most of the Demidovs' products were shipped twice cheaper, and there was not a single product that would have been worth more.
In addition to building new and modernizing old iron plants, the Demidovs took care of ways to deliver their products to the capital. The deadly roads in these remote areas were brought to their fullest order. The famous natural scientist Peter Pallas and academician Johann Gmelin who traveled later in the Urals wrote that they had never seen such beautiful land roads as Demidovs, laid out in the most impassable places, lined with trees, dug along sides of the trenches, having solid bridges. The navigable route along Chusovoi to Kama, opened by Ermak, was restored by enterprising breeders who built a huge number of barges for the transportation of metals on the wharves belonging to them.
The productivity of the plants in the Urals turned out to be very high, already in 1720 they produced, according to the most conservative estimates, two-thirds of the metal of Russia. Since 1718, the Demidovs were the only suppliers of iron, guns and anchors for fleet, as a result of which they found in the person of Fedor Apraksin - the head of the Admiralty - an influential patron. The Demidovs, father and son, were also tirelessly searching for new ore deposits. After copper ore was found outside the Voya river, the Vyisky plant was built, which subsequently delivered a gigantic amount of good quality copper. And at the Silk Mountain, located near the Nevyansk plant, an asbestos deposit was discovered. Own experiments Nikita Demidov reached its processing, presenting in 1722 to Peter I samples of durable and refractory fabrics from this substance. In addition, there is evidence that Akinfiy organized the extraction and processing of porphyry, granite and jasper.
For such a broad activity Demidov required, of course, the appropriate forces and means. The power of steam in those years was not yet known, and the machine business was at a rudimentary level of development. True, the huge ponds of the Demidov factories contained a considerable reserve of motive water power, but in general, manual labor was used for the works at the plants and factories. The peasants for the implementation of all the large-scale plans of the Tula blacksmiths were not enough, and to buy serfs inside Russia and relocate them to the territory of the Urals from the Demidovs in those years was still not enough money. The breeders extricated themselves from this difficulty very easily, albeit risky - they turned their plants into places where they received peasants who had fled from all over the country from the terrible recruitment, from oppression by the governor, from excessive oppression. The factories also widely opened the doors for fleeing convicts and exiles, as well as deserting soldiers and recruits. In addition to runaways and vagrants, almost all of the Demidov factory settlements in the Urals were filled with "Old Believers" and "schismatics." Pursued by the authorities, they came in throngs to Akinfiy, who needed cheap labor and had no business before his workers were baptized with two or three fingers.
The newcomers were given money and bread for their work, but they fell into the full possession of new masters who had the right to “live and die” over them, all the more terrible because people could no longer find protection in the law from which they themselves had fled. A terrible punishment was supposed for such actions, and, obviously, if Peter the Great had learned about this, he would not have spared Nemydych or his family. In addition, for the adoption and retention of the peasant who fled from the owner was supposed to pay 100 rubles a year. The payment of such a huge amount for all fugitives in the event of their discovery was beyond the power of Demidov.
The question of the "runaway", constituting the Demidovs' Achilles heel, lasted for twenty years, and during all this time the breeders practically did not pay taxes. The problem was solved in the 1738 year, when Empress Anna Ioannovna issued a decree permanently recording all the “runaway” and “alien” people behind the Demidovs, freeing them from the recruitment. The same decree forbade the breeders to take new fugitives, but this prohibition remained a dead letter - administrative control was too weak on the Urals outskirts and it was too easy to appease this control with appropriate offerings.
There is very little information about the relationship of Nikita and Akinfiy Demidov to the peasants, but in any case, these "iron" people were not soft owners. Themselves out of the peasantry and not yet in the taste of owning the ascribed, they did not allow themselves tyranny and unreasonable cruelty, they were strict but fair. But, in this respect, many of their descendants, who ordered factory rulers in their orders, "cut the hell out of workers", threatening to "eradicate the whole clan, so as not to leave the dust of the wicked and Kanal." These terrible threats were not empty words - the guilty languished along with their wives and children in the factory basements in chains and received terrible punishments.
Constant cares, travels and works broke the health of Nikita Demidov, and 17 in November 1725, in one year with Peter I, the industrialist "reposed in eternal bliss" according to the inscription on his grave in Tula. Virtually all of his wealth passed to the eldest son Akinfiyu, who was no longer young, but continued to work with unrelenting energy. It was a man of "blood and iron" - the life and sufferings of subordinates and people around were an empty sound for him. Akinfiy was power-hungry, proud, did not tolerate submission, possessed extraordinary strength and enormous will. It is known that he revered and was afraid of his father, but the old man "Demidych" and himself was not the kind of person to allow his son to forget.
By habits Akinfiy already represented the transition from father's asceticism to the luxury of Elizabethan nobles. If Nikita Demidov lived all his life in a hut, having a blacksmith shop in the courtyard, the son preferred large stone chambers. Father didn’t take hop into his mouth, and his son sometimes arranged Lucull’s feasts, wore a wig and a caftan. However, all this is largely due to business considerations. He, like his father, was an “acquirer” and a “creator”, and “burners” and “wasters” appeared later in their family.
Once in a lifetime, Akinfy traveled abroad. In Saxony, he acquired the mineral cabinet of the German metallurgist Johann Genkel, subsequently supplemented with rare Siberian minerals. Thus, he was the first of the Demidovs to begin collecting collections of “rarities”, later these minerals were donated to the capital's university. The main residence of Akinfiy, the Nevyansk Plant, has become one of the most populous settlements in the Urals. During the lifetime of the Tula master there were over three thousand workers, handicrafts flourished. Iron-clad chests, painted drawings, specially lacquered boxes, trays and other products made by local artisans, were popular throughout Russia.
In 1731, the Berg-Collegium, in which people favored Demidov, was abolished, and the chamber- and commerce colleges were in charge of mining. His old patrons died or retired, and Akinfiy did not have time to acquire new ones. In 1733, due to a number of serious accusations raised against him, the breeder was detained in Moscow, and investigators were sent to the Urals on behalf of Empress Anna to check if metals were being hidden there to avoid paying the duty. However, the commission, investigating the case, found Akinfiy not guilty; in 1735, by a decree of the sovereign, the detained breeder was released.
Soon Akinfiy, a clever man, managed to win the favor of the sovereign's pet, Ernst Biron, and thanks to the power of the Empress's favorite, the denunciations of the breeder stopped and the questions about runaway people and duties on metals were resolved in his favor. In addition, in 1738, in view of the danger of the raids of the neighboring Bashkirs, Akinfiy was given the right to build fortresses with bastions and cannons near their factories. For the protection of each fortress, he was provided with sixty soldiers, which the breeder was supposed to contain. Tula blacksmith became the owner of enormous wealth - he had tens of thousands of subjects, troops, fleet, millions of tithes of land and forests, many developed mines. In this case, Demidov plants were at the height of the requirements of technology, producing all sorts of metal objects: military shells, cannons, guns, tin, sheet iron, anchors, iron and copper dishes, and bells.
However, all this was not enough for an ambitious blacksmith - he discovered the famous Altai mines and began to mine silver, precious metals, and even gold. At that time, the smelting of silver was the prerogative of the treasury and was forbidden to private individuals. Akinfiy, rightly afraid of losing the richest mines, managed to hide them from the city authorities, and also learned how to process silver and began to mint a coin on his own. There is a story that once in the palace of Akinfiy, playing at the same table with Anna Ioannovna in cards, he began to pay for the loss with brand new coins. With an ambiguous smile, the empress asked her partner: "Your or my work, Nikitich?" “We, Mother Sovereign, are all yours. And I am yours, and my everything is yours, ”Demidov answered evasively. The empress back only laughed. However, the industrialist did not have long to secretly mint a coin and extract silver. When rumors began to spread about the mines found, the enterprising breeder hurried himself to inform Empress Elizabeth about the ore resources he had found.
The discovery of noble metal deposits and the smelting of silver became the last feats of Akinfiy Demidov, who was awarded the rank of state councilor "for the multiplication of plants". Shortly before his death, Elizabeth, by a personal decree, strictly forbade the breeder to “fix the grievances” and ordered to inform him directly about herself, “for Demidov is in our own protection and protection.” In the sixty-seventh year of his life, the homesickness of the industrialist crept into the iron heart of the industrialist, and Akinfiy decided to visit the places where he spent his childhood and youth. Returning from a trip, he fell ill, stopped near the village of Itsk-Ustye of Menzelinsk district, where 5 August 1745 and died. He was buried at home in Tula.
To descendants, he left untold riches - huge capital, houses, jewels, more than thirty thousand souls of peasants, dozens of factories, some of which (Nevyansky and Nizhny Tagil) were famous in Europe. The enormous wealth inherited to the children and grandchildren of Nikita and Akinfiy without any work became a grateful ground on which various oddities matured, up to foolishness inclusively. The descendants no longer possessed the integrity that the first Demidovs had, who left a solid mark in the history of our country. They flashed brilliant meteors against the background of the life of our country, scattering their wealth to quench the boredom that ate them. Among other carriers of the Demidov family, Nikita Akinfiyevich, the younger son of Akinfiy, Prokofy Akinfiyevich, the eldest son of Akinfiy, Pavel Grigorievich, grandson of Akinfiy and one of the last representatives of the clan, Anatoly Nikolayevich, “the magnificent Prince San Donato”, is particularly worth mentioning.
Nikita Akinfievich Demidov was born in 1724 year. He received an excellent education, patron of scholars, was considered an expert on art objects, corresponded with Voltaire. He no longer lived near his Ural enterprises, but was mainly in the capitals. Continuing the work of his father, Nikita founded several new factories. However, with all this, his name acquired the notoriety of the cruel and formidable owner of the factory peasants, and his "exploits" reminded him of the actions of some African despot kings.
Akinfiy's eldest son, Prokofy, was the exact opposite of his younger brother. He had very unfriendly feelings for noblemen, noble and titled persons, and his relationship with the peasants was very humane for that time. In letters to his children, he asked not to use violence against workers who refused to work, and also not to bring them “to ruin”. However, Prokofy Demidov got into the annals of history due to his eccentricities, sometimes reaching cruel jestering. Despite his foolishness, he was far from stupid. It is known that Prokofy was professionally engaged in botany, and the collection of rare trees collected by him was estimated at a huge amount. In addition, this crank was the first major philanthropist philanthropist from the Demidovs. He donated more than a million rubles to the Moscow educational home established by Catherine II for orphans, street children and foundlings. He also became the founder of the Demidov Commercial School, founded the Neskuchny Garden in Moscow. Mining Prokofy Demidov did not like, for a song he sold six factories inherited from his father (including the famous Nevyansky), one of the largest entrepreneurs of the time, Savva Yakovlev. However, this did not prevent him from properly keeping his money affairs - he lent money at interest, and his debtors were a considerable number of well-known people in the country.
But the most educated of the Demidovs is the grandson of Akinfiy, Pavel Grigorievich. At the age of four he was able to read tolerably well, subsequently he studied foreign languages perfectly well, played the violin and piano, graduated from the University of Gottingen and the Freiberg Academy, and was quite seriously engaged in the natural sciences. He had a passionate habit of collecting various art collections, rare manuscripts and writings. With funds donated to them in 1803, Yaroslavl State University was founded, and the funds left by him later went to the establishment of Tomsk University. The memories kept about this Demidov draw him as a simple, modest and meek person. He was the enemy of luxury, his life credo was the phrase: “to work without indulging in disastrous idleness”. He died in old age, enjoying the respect and gratitude of all who knew him.
Monument to Nikita Demidov and Peter the Great in Nevyansk
If the ancestors of the Demidov clan were purely Russian people, then the last persons from their family (Anatoly and Pavel San Donato) became true Europeans, spent most of their lives outside their homeland and practically did not speak Russian. Anatoly Demidov was born in Florence in 1812, received a brilliant upbringing and knew a lot about the arts. However, as an adult, he could not find a certain business for himself, he traveled the world without a goal, slapping his condition. By the way, the riches themselves fell into his pocket - gold and platinum placers were discovered at his Ural factories. Anatoly's annual income has risen to two million rubles. In Europe, he gained considerable popularity for its monstrous hunts and drinking. Anatoly Demidov lived mainly in Paris and in the luxurious villa he had bought in the principality of San Donato near Florence, which is why he became known as Prince San Donato. He rarely came to Russia. The prince quit his service — it was hard to pull a similar strap to a worn out rich man. He found another way to obtain ranks, orders and satisfy his vain desires - by donating incredibly large sums for different purposes. Enormous wealth provided Demidov getting into the higher spheres of Parisian society. In 1841, the great-grandson of Tula blacksmith became the husband of Napoleon I's niece, Countess Matilda de Montfort. However, the marriage did not bring him happiness; he died childless in Paris in April 1870.
According to the book V. Ogarkov "Demidov. Their lives and activities. "
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