The Vicissitudes of the Fate of the Kalmyk Nobleman Petr Taishin: from the Adoption of Christianity to the Establishment of a Settlement of Baptized Kalmyks in the Middle Volga Region (1724-1737)

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Abstract


The present paper analyzes the fate and political activities of the first baptized Kalmyk vladelets Peter P. Taishin in the context of the purposeful Christianization of the Kalmyks and the internecine struggle for supreme power in the Kalmyk Khanate in 1724-1735. Historiography has developed under the influence of Church historians; the latter mostly described Taishin as a treacherous schemer who converted to Christianity only to enlist Russia's support in the struggle for the Khanate's throne. The present study is meant to portray P. Taishin as a historical figure. To overcome the bias in historiography, the author made use of previously unstudied materials from the Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Empire, in particular Taishin's correspondence with government agencies and officials. According to the author, the imperial authorities overestimated the political prospects of Taishin's embrace of Christianity. The influence of the Buddhist clergy on the Kalmyk people and their power elite was not duly taken into account. To the displeasure of the government, Taishin joined one party of Kalmyk nobility that stood in opposition to the Kalmyk khan, and after the death of his older brother, Taishin began to openly dispute the Khan's right to the throne. Russia's military intervention in the internecine conflict led to Taishin's capture and to the forced replacement of the supreme ruler of the Kalmyk state. These events triggered a change in the government's policy concerning the baptized Kalmyks. It was decided to put them under Taishin's control and to relocate them further into the territory of Russia. With these measures, the hotbed of social tension in the Kalmyk Khanate disappeared, and Russia acquired additional human resources to occupy an empty area in the Middle Volga region, and later in the Orenburg province. For more than a hundred years, the settlement of baptized Kalmyks on the Middle Volga survived the initiator of their founding, Petr Petrovich Taishin, and made a significant contribution to the economic development and defense of the vast Orenburg Territory.


About the authors

Stepan V. Dzhundzhuzov

Orenburg State Pedagogical University

Author for correspondence.
Email: kaf_rushistory@ospu.su
19, Sovetskaya St., Orenburg, 460844, Russia

Doktor Istoricheskikh Nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], Professor of the Russian History Department

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