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Reviewed by:
  • Sluzhilye “inozemtsy” v Sibiri XVII veka (Tomsk, Eniseisk, Krasnoiarsk)
  • Carol B. Stevens
Ivan Rostislavovich Sokolovskii , Sluzhilye “inozemtsy” v Sibiri XVII veka (Tomsk, Eniseisk, Krasnoiarsk) [“Foreign” Servicemen in 17th-Century Siberia (Tomsk, Eniseisk, Krasnoiarsk)]. 209 pp. Novosibirsk: Rossiiskaia akademiia nauk, Sibirskoe otdelenie II, 2004. ISBN 5875502037. The book includes an eight-page English summary and a bibliography in Polish and English.

Ivan Sokolovskii's new book studies foreign military men and their role in the 17th-century colonization of Siberia. The larger context for the discussion is the development of European states and the changing size of their military forces. The rapid and competitive growth in army (and navy) size in the 17th century led many governments to hire officers and often regiments of foreign mercenaries. Among other things, this practice added contingents of trained men to national armies without the expense of training or maintaining them over the years. In passing, Sokolovskii notes the impact of this trend: for example, nearly a quarter of the British army was foreign in the mid-1690s (183).

Muscovy also hired foreigners to serve in its army in the 17th century. Among the best studied are those Europeans who were hired, often as officers, into preferred military units—during the Time of Troubles, again during the Smolensk War (1632–34), and more permanently during and after the Thirteen Years' War (1654–67).1 In addition to swelling the numbers of trained military forces, these men had an explicitly tutelary role. They instructed Russians in contemporary European tactics, weaponry, and military design as Muscovy reconfigured its cavalry army and created "new formation regiments." In the first half of the century especially, the salaries offered to officers filling such roles were attractively high.

Sokolovskii focuses on a distinct group of foreigners in Muscovy: those serving in three Siberian garrisons—Eniseisk, Tomsk, and Krasnoiarsk. The differences between these foreigners and those in the new formations is striking—not only in how they joined their garrisons but also in their military functions, their remuneration, and their ultimate fates. Almost all were subjects of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. In the 1630s, and again during the Thirteen Years' War, Europeans serving in Siberia were likely to be prisoners of war, most of [End Page 442] whom shortly returned home. Later in the century, there were fewer POWs and more in-migrants, whose descendants were more likely to remain in Siberia. Throughout the century, there was a sprinkling of foreigners exiled for criminal activity. One suspects that none were deliberately sought by Muscovy.

Despite their numbers and origin, foreigners in Siberian garrisons did not, as foreigners, play a particular or unusual role in the colonization process. They often held ranking military positions in their garrisons, but their duties were no different from fellow Muscovite deti boiarskie and garrison Cossacks—they acted as local diplomats, escorted convoys, and collected the fur tax (iasak). It follows from their primary military identification that commonwealth servicemen were not given tutelary roles in Siberia, whatever their military experience. There were no Siberian equivalents of the "new formation regiments," and any instruction in military method was undertaken by visiting West Europeans. These findings add a new dimension to an under-examined phenomenon—the unremarkable inclusion of Europeans into old-style Muscovite military service. There were other Europeans (kormovye nemtsy) who served as part of the Muscovite cavalry from landholdings in towns outside of Siberia prior to and during the Smolensk War, but they were identified as foreigners if not distinguished by the nature of their service.2 Sokolovskii's research thus implicitly poses important questions about the character of foreign military service to the Crown. In particular, which foreigners did not serve in tutelary roles or in the new regiments in the 17th century, and how did such differentiation take place?

In a similar vein, foreigners based in Siberia received money grants that were never more than a fraction of those offered to foreigners in the new formation regiments.3 Such stipends were not much different from those nominally offered their Russian counterparts, and considerably less than they might have earned in Poland. This situation did not imply poverty, however. Foreign servicemen in Siberia were...


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