The Main Directions of the Economic Development of the Orenburg Cossacks from the Second Half of the 19th to the Early 20th Century

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Abstract

The article discusses the main directions of the economic development among the Orenburg Cossacks in the post-reform period. The Orenburg Cossack Host, like other Cossack troops of the Russian Empire, was located in a frontier area. A special type of the “Cossack warrior” personality - a “Cossack-farmer” - was formed here. The author notes that by the beginning of the twentieth century, an increase in the Cossack population led to a decrease in land allotments in the Orenburg Cossack units. The situation was getting worse due to constant crop failures and a dominant shift system, which, in turn, led to land depletion. Due to their isolation, conservatism and poverty, the Cossacks were slow in introducing improved agricultural tools and new methods for cultivating the land. Livestock breeding was widespread in Cossack farms (from the end of the 19th century, camel-breeding was very prominent), and horse-breeding, so necessary for manning the Cossack army, was equally developing. Due to frequent grain crop failures, Cossacks generated additional produce by market gardening on their farms. The Host authorities realized that the welfare decline among the Orenburg Cossacks had a negative impact on their combat effectiveness, and tried to provide them with various assistance: specialists responsible for agricultural development were introduced into the staff of the Military Economic Board, and the Cossacks were supplied with tools, agricultural machinery, and seeds for horticulture. Much attention was also paid to horse-breeding as well as to the development of small industry through the organization of artisans. The author comes to the conclusion that all these measures changed the agronomic consciousness of the Orenburg Cossacks, albeit at a slow pace.

About the authors

Elena V. Godovova

Orenburg State Pedagogical University; Orenburg branch of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Author for correspondence.
Email: godovova@mail.ru

Doktor Istoricheskikh Nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], Professor of the Department of Russian history, Orenburg State Pedagogical University; Associate Professor of the Department of Humanitarian, Socio-Economic, Mathematical and Natural Sciences Disciplines of the Orenburg Branch of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

19, Sovetskaya St., Orenburg, 460000, Russia; 26, Kuracha St., Orenburg, 460000, Russia

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