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History of \ religion \ before the year 1804 \

History of religion before the year 1804

Religion in the XVIII century

Since 1732 the Kazan bishopric was headed by arch-bishops; from 1738 till 1762 even by bishops: bishop Luka (Kanashevich) famous for his excessive eagerness as far as spreading of Christianity was concerned, and bishop Gavriil (Kremenetsky). Due to missionary work of Kazan enlighteners, the spreading of Christianity in Kazan lands almost ceased. It was metropolitan Tikhon (Voinov) who continued this process in 1699-1724. Thus, during 1701-1795, 3683 people of Cheremis were christened on their free will; a school and 7 new churches were opened for newly-christened. In 1718 there was opened a school for children of clergy; it was reorganized into Kazan theological seminary in 1732. During the lifetime of New Christening Bureau (1731-1764) 406 792 foreigners were christened. All in all by the end of the XIX century there were 575 thousand christened Chuvashes, Mordvinians, Cheremis, Tatars and Votyaks in Kazan bishopric. Partly it can be explained by governmental benefits that attracted people. As for violent acts that were used by some members of higher orders of clergy, they resulted in mass lapse from Christianity.

Since 1744, right after there took place the Church reform of Peter I, the Kazan Clergy Department turned into Kazan Theological Consistory. According to the establishment of 1764 the Kazan bishopric was ranked as the second class. So there were 11 established cloisters in the Kazan bishopric: 1 of the first class (Sviyazhsky Uspensky Monastery), 2 of the second class (Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and Kazan-Bogoroditsky Nunnery), 8 of the third class and other cloisters were not established (it means that these cloisters were supported by bishopric funds only, they received no state subsidies). In 1782 there were 1117 churches in the Kazan bishopric (for instance, in the Moscow bishopric there were only 814 churches). Thanks to the arch-bishop Amvrosy (Podobelov), who headed the Kazan department since 1785 till 1799, the Kazan Theological Seminary became to be ranked so high that in 1797 it was raised to Academy (though since 1818 till 1842 it had temporary status of seminary). Under the arch-bishop Amvrosy (Protasov, 1816-1826) there was opened Kazan branch of the Biblical society that translated the Holy Writ into languages of local population. Thus in 1814 the New Testament was translated into Tatar, and in 1819 the first of Old Testament parts (Genesis).

According to the Kazan scientist Niyaz Khalit, the XVIII century wasnt any better for the Moslems of the Volga region.  The long lawsuit that took place after the government had desecrated a Tatar cemetery in Kazan, resulted in numerous complaints addressed to the Tsar Peter Alekseevich. He issued a special edict in which he ordered: Not to destroy the Moslem mosques, either old or new ones; not to ravage the cemeteries lest people should become exasperated.

By 1733 there had been 4 mosques in the Tatar Sloboda.

In the XVIII century there again took place destruction of mosques in Kazan and Astrakhan. In this period the government prohibited any trips to Mecca and Bashkiria, in this was they hoped to prevent missionary work of the Tatar clergy. This prohibition was valid since 1735 till 1780.

After the archimandrite Dmitry applied to the Holy Synod, on July, 27, 1742 it was decided not to build Tatar mosques in Russia and to destroy already existing ones, with the reference to order by Fedor Ioannovich. So on November, 19, 1742 the Senate issued an edict all the newly-built mosques of the Kazan province should be destroyed, no new mosques can be constructed. The Kazan, Astrakhan and Voronezh provinces should keep in mind that in the areas where   Tatars live far from newly-christened settlements, there mosques should be left as they are necessary for peoples needs. By newly-built mosques actually were meant all the mosques constructed after the Kazan capture. Besides together with Kazan mosques it was ordered to destroy mosques almost in all parts of Russia. These measures were accompanied by unprecedented persecution of foreigners, forced christening and so on.

But in February 1744 there took place a sitting of council dedicated to numerous complaints of Kazan Moslems; guided by the opinion of Peter the Great there was decided to leave the remaining mosques untouched. And in April 1744 the destruction of mosques was stopped, and some of them were even restored.

 In 1713 the government of Peter I issued an edict that oppressed the Tatar feudal lords. Non-christened murzas and vassal that owned christened peasants were to become Christians within half a year. Otherwise, according to the edict all their lands and serfs should be taken away from them. The main part of the feudal lords refused to become Christians. Then their estates were given to their christened relatives or Russian landlords.

Another edict was addressed to serfs: these people were promised 3 years preferential duties in case they accept the new faith. Still the results of this offer were poor. For instance, by 1719 there were about 30000 formally christened Tatars in the Kazan province, but during the period from 1719 to 1724 there rows joined 2184 people, and from 1724 to 1731 only 811. It was also true for representatives of other nationalities.

In order to improve the situation, in 1731 there was organized Committee for performing christening of Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod Moslems and other foreigners, which turned into New Christening Bureau in 1740. The History of Tatar ASSR says that at first the government imposed constraint while christening secretly, but as for the Bureau, its task was exactly official forced baptizing. So this organization was staffed with special soldiers who corroborated propaganda of Christianity with their arms.

This bureau acted especially actively in the 1740-50s, when the Kazan bishopric was headed by the arch-bishop Luka Konashevich who was a frantic and cruel missionary.  In his times the propaganda of Christianity was performed mainly by beating and other violence. Missionaries together with soldiers traveled from one non-Russian village to another, gathered people at the river bank and performed a christening.   Any resistance was punished by lashes and sticks.

Not only the missionaries who moved from settlement to settlement, but Luka Konashevich himself succeeded mostly due to cruel treatment of people.  For instance, sotnik (lieutenant) Kutlin complained that he was chained and made to move in the wheel instead of a bear and to pump water from the will to the point of exhaustion, all this supported by lashing. He was tortured several days and was christened when he lost consciousness. These complaints were confirmed by yasachny Tatar A.Asanov, murza B.Islyamov, M.Duseev and some others.

      Newly christened people for 3 years were exempt from taxes and serfdom and were ranked as state peasants. Still their position was far from desirable. These people were punished for lack of religious zeal (though actually they knew nothing about Christianity) they were sent to prison, beaten, chained, or at best sent to the cloisters for penitence where they had to work to cloisters benefit. 


To fight Islam, according to the order of 1742, the government began to destroy mosques in the settlement where there lived christened people, and sometimes in the villages where there were no baptized at all. In 1744 there were broken 418 mosques; the administration didnt take the risk of destroying the remaining 118 mosques of the Kazan province, as their actions had already caused great public indignation.

There were used other measures to baptize population as well. In 1707 there was opened a school attached to the priests house. It was meant for Tatar, Chuvash, Mari and other non-Russian children. The aim of the school was to train the children for missionary work, so that they could use their native languages to spread Christianity. In fact the school turned into prison, as parents were forced to give away their children. There was neither enough care, nor sufficient food there; children were dying and in 2 years the school was closed.

In 1723 there was opened Clergy Slavonic-Latin School for missionary training, in 1733 it turned into Theological Seminary. Then there appeared several New Christening Schools: Tsivilskaya, Tsarevokokshaiskaya, Kazanskaya and Elabuzhskaya. Under the direction of Luka Konashevich these schools didnt succeed much either, they only aroused animosity among non-Russian population.

Missionary pressure caused such indignation of non-Russian people that in 1755 the government had to send Luka Konashevich to another bishopric, and in 1764 they liquidated the New Christening Bureau.  Because of the mass resentment the administration had to make some concessions.

All the attempts of Russian government to liquidate Islam in the Volga region failed.

When Catherine II came to the throne the situation began to improve slowly. She granted permission to construct the mosque al-Mardzhany in Kazan. Kajum Nasiry wrote that when the city administration complained to her, worried by the height of the minaret, Catherine II answered: I appointed the place for the mosque on earth, and its up to you how close to heaven you want to raise it, as heaven doesnt belong to my estates. A little later there came to life her Faith Toleration Decree.

 History of  politics  economics  culture  infrastructure  architecture  before the year 1804 

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