Historical Review of Siberia


This volume, the first book in a two-part set, is an overview of Siberian history from 1585 to 1742. This chronological account, published in 1838, begins soon after the initial Russian conquest of Siberia under the Cossack hetman Yermak Timofeyevich (1532–85) and continues until the time just before the reign of Catherine the Great, who took the throne in 1762. The work encompasses the period during which Russians first traversed the continent to reach the Pacific Ocean, which they accomplished in 1639, and continues for more than another century. The author, Peter Andreevich Slovtsov, had been a priest who taught at the Tobolsk Seminary in Siberia. In 1794, Slovtsov was arrested for denouncing the violence and injustice of the Russian state in a series of sermons at the Tobolsk cathedral. After a period of incarceration at the Valaam monastery, he became an inspector of Siberian public schools and an historian. He begins the book by listing the key legal, archival, journalistic and historiographical sources crucial to any proper study of Siberia. He then proceeds to cover a wide variety of topics, including the cultures of native Siberian peoples, political and economic developments and different aspects of the foreign relations of the different Siberian regions. The book covers the establishment of schools and businesses, the promulgation of new laws, and the creation of a Russian frontier society. It records the founding of such new cities as Yakutsk, Tomsk and Irkutsk, as well as the “opening” of Kamchatka and other large wilderness areas to Russian exploration and settlement. The work is based on archival records and the personal research of the author, but it also was significantly influenced by a prominent tome on Siberia published nearly a century earlier by the noted German scholar Gerhard Friedrich Müller (1705–83). Slovtsov acknowledges his debt to Müller by dedicating the book to him and noting that Müller’s foundational work on Siberian history was the academic standard on the subject for many years. Toward the end of his book, Slovtsov provides historical sketches for five key Siberian cities: Tobolsk, Tomsk, Yeniseisk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk. These brief summations provide a timeline of municipal history and noteworthy events in the region of each city.

Last updated: June 9, 2017