Accession of one fifth of Russia. Siberian adventures of Ataman Galkin

Model of the Krasnoyarsk prison in the Krasnoyarsk Museum of Local Lore

His father’s son

The roots of our hero go back to the time of Ivan the Terrible. Then, taking advantage of the defeat of the Kazan Khanate, Russian Cossacks, tradesmen and other “eager people” poured into Siberia. Ivan Galkin’s father was one of the Cossacks who conquered Siberia under the command of Ataman Yermak himself. And the son was clearly determined to continue the parent’s activities.

He had enough ability and determination for this. The first time Galkin’s participation is mentioned in 1618 – then he helped build the Yenisei prison. Since then, he has squandered across Siberia for at least 34 years – Ivan will lay his last prison in 1652.

We did not have the exact dates of birth and death of Galkin – some studies sin on 1657, others believe that our hero was still alive in the 1660s. The term, be that as it may, by Siberian standards is more than solid – we are talking about the constantly undertaken campaigns in the wild lands. And the life experience of our hero turned out to be appropriate.

Ready for intrigues and ambushes

In the winter of 1629, Galkin, commanding a detachment of 35 service people, chased the rebellious natives.

Then on the Yenisei the Tuba prince Kayan rebelled. Starting with the murder of the Russians sent for fur tribute, he continued with attacks on already larger detachments. But most of all from Kayan got the other natives. Making raids on them, he increased his authority and persuaded those who did not have time to suffer from themselves to alliances against the Russians – otherwise it would be worse.

Galkin pursued one of these rebellious princes. But the latter was able to escape long enough to have time to get impressive help from Kayan himself. This did not save the natives – after a hard battle they were defeated.

True, as soon as Galkin moved back to Krasnoyarsk, the enemy, apparently receiving reinforcements, struck a second blow. The Russians were surrounded and began to fire from their bows. In the open space, Galkin’s detachment could quickly be killed.

But Ivan, not being a fool, found a solution on the fly – he ordered his people to make an impromptu fence of skis and sledges. Relying on these ersatz fortifications, they managed to hold out for five days. This, of course, was not a continuous assault or shelling, but rather a series of attempts. But the matter was still difficult – and Galkin and his people successfully endured it.

The Tubians disappeared, but only to set up another ambush. But their self-confidence, and the numbers, were already far from the same. Galkin repulsed all attacks and successfully returned under the protection of the Russian walls.

Founder of the fortifications

Galkin, like any “conquistador of Siberia”, clearly sensed the taste of money and did not hesitate to chase after precious sable skins. So, for example, he walked thousands of kilometers along the Lena and its tributaries, collecting yasak from everyone he sees. And he scored 716 rubles – an extremely serious amount at that time.

But with all this pursuit of “soft gold”, Galkin did not comply with the scheme “to immediately weld at any cost, and then at least the grass will not grow.” He always thoroughly approached the issue of securing the conquered territories for the sovereign. If it was not possible to put up a prison, at least he made a description of the area, so that it would be easier to go next time.

But it was better, of course, to set up a prison. Well, or a winter hut – if the place turns out to be successful, it will eventually grow into this very prison. In any case, having entangled the natives with a network of fortifications, you will eventually collect more yasak – and Galkin understood this perfectly.

Monument to Ivan Galkin in Ust-Kut


The list based on one person is impressive. Idirma winter hut, Ust-Kutsky prison, Barguzinsky prison – in the latter, by the way, he actively cultivated bread and fodder crops – Bauntovsky prison, and so on.

This love of construction allowed Galkin to become the absolute record holder in the annexation of territories in the entire history of Russia – at least, there is a scale of one person and dozens of assistants.

Traveling along the rivers of Siberia, participating in skirmishes with the natives, erecting fortifications, he “staked out” huge land areas for Moscow. For example, researcher Mikhail Krechmar believes that about 1/5 of modern Russia was annexed by the merits of Galkin.

Spare neither yours nor strangers

For all this prudence, Galkin was an extremely decisive person. For example, in 1633 he seized power in the Lensky prison – the future Yakutsk. The local clerk, Parfen Khodyrev, turned out to be an unpopular person – few people like the hot-tempered despot of local proportions.

When this same Khodyrev came into conflict with Galkin, the latter simply took 12 loyal to him personally loyal servicemen and rudely overthrew Parfen. However, he did not begin to kill – the ex-clerk, although he was disgraced, wrote petitions to higher authorities for a long time.

With the enemy, Galkin, when necessary, was completely ruthless.

Yakuts in the 17th century


Having headed the Lensky prison, he faced the rebellious Yakuts. I tried to go against them in 1634, but failed. Then he fought off the siege of the prison. And even after their removal, he persuaded the surrounding Yakuts not to disperse, as they planned, but to pay yasak. Those, perhaps sensing weakness in such proposals, rebelled in 1635, and even more violently than before.

Then Galkin got tired of all this.

He chose one of the Yakut towns, protected by a double row of log walls. And he held a demonstration – he took it, having irrevocably lost only 3 people, and there he killed everyone he could catch, including women with children. That had an instant effect on the natives – they immediately confessed, took the oath, brought a grandiose yasak, several times exceeding the “annual rate” established in the Lena prison.

Like the Dutch in Manhattan

But you shouldn’t think that our hero was a kind of berserker who got turned on by the taste of blood and wanted more every time.

For example, Galkin was flexible in his methods of collecting yasak. Of course, it was often easier to take by force. But what if the natives had more fur than it was established by the obligation, and did not want to “chastise” – then go through these places yourself?

Then Galkin did not hesitate to resort to trade. Beads, beads, and other inexpensive, convenient for transportation nonsense were used. It was possible to understand the logic of the natives – we have a lot of sable, you can always shoot. And when they still bring such a curiosity, we must take it as long as there is an opportunity.

So the savages took it – and Galkin gladly gave it. Instead of becoming an extremely wealthy person. In 1638, our hero managed to buy up in this way one and a half percent of all official (that is, imposed by the tsarist tax) sable production for the whole of Siberia.

And after that, which is characteristic, he did not heal happily until the end of his days somewhere in Moscow – he was not that kind of person, the son of Yermakov’s Cossack Ivan Galkin. He continued his development of the frontier.

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