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Foreign Reports about Stepan Razin’s Execution. New Documents from the Stockholm Archive

Gleb M. Kazakov, Ingrid Maier


This paper analyzes reports written by foreign authors about the execution of Stepan Razin. The main focus is on two dispatches written by the Swedish citizen and merchant in Moscow, Christoff Koch, in May–June 1671 and sent to Narva, and from there, they were forwarded to the Swedish capital, among other places. They are now kept at the State Archives in Stockholm, and they have not been discussed previously in the scholarly literature. The paper contains the full translation into Russian of two long reports written by Koch about Razin’s capture, delivery to Moscow, interrogation, and execution, with our comments. Special attention is given to a unique colored drawing, showing the brothers, Stepan and Frol Razin, as well as the body parts of the executed Stepan. From the written documents it becomes clear that the drawing was sent from Moscow to the governor of Swedish Ingria in Narva, and then forwarded to Stockholm, together with the two Koch dispatches. The authors come to the conclusion that several copies must have been made and that they were intentionally distributed among foreigners in Moscow. Most probably only one copy has survived to our days, the one in Stockholm. Arguments are given for the hypothesis that one copy of the drawing ended up in England and served as the prototype for the well-known imprint of 1672, which shows the Razin brothers when they were being delivered to Moscow. In our study we also compare the information given by Koch with descriptions of Razin’s death that were published in West-European newspapers, pamphlets, and books during the 1670s. This comparison brings us to the conclusion that the information about the execution of the leader of the rebellion reached the European press from several witnesses to the events, and that, over time, the original information was filled out with invented details.


Stepan Razin; execution; reports of Swedish agents; etching; 17th-century German newspapers


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