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Morning of the Streltsi Execution

Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow


Carl O’Brien explains the position of the Streltsi in seventeenth-century Russia:

“[T]he Streltsi represented the permanent element of the infantry….The Moscow Streltsi acquired a special status over those stationed in the provincial towns and outer regions. They received pay in money and kind, and were expected to maintain their own equipment. Since their pay early proved inadequate for their needs, they had been permitted to engage in trade and agriculture in times of peace, along with their regular duties. The Moscow Streltsi received special plots of ground from the Treasury for cultivation, as well as dwellings in a particular quarter of Moscow assigned them. The government exempted them from taxation providing their profits from trade did not exceed a figure designated by the Treasury. The Streltsi of the towns and provinces possessed something less than these privileges. Although the Streltsi regiments as a whole were regarded more sympathetically by the state than other infantry units, the privileges given them only encouraged them to agitate for more, and in the late seventeenth century they became the nucleus for dangerous political and social unrest.”

Carl B. O’Brien, “Agriculture in Russian War Economy in the Later Seventeenth Century,” American Slavic and East European Review, vol. 8 no. 3 (October 1949): 170-1.

About the Artist

Born: Krasnoyarsk (Siberia), 24 January 1848
Died: Moscow, 19 March 1916
Nationality: Russian