Ivan Bolotnikov
Ivan Isayevich Bolotnikov (1565-1608) was the leader of a popular uprising in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in 1606–1607 known as the Bolotnikov rebellion (Восстание Ивана Болотникова). The uprising was part of the Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history comprising the years of interregnum between the death of the last Russian Tsar of the Rurik Dynasty, Feodor Ivanovich, in 1598, and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. In 1601-1603, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third...

 in Russia.


Little information is available about Ivan Bolotnikov’s life before the uprising. It is known that he was a kholop
Kholops were feudally dependent people in Russia between the 10th and early 18th centuries. Their legal status was close to that of serfs.- Etymology :The word kholop was first mentioned in a chronicle for the year of 986. Its etymology is unclear...

 and belonged to the household of Prince Andrei Telyatevsky. It appears that Bolotnikov fled from his master’s estate, then was captured by the Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars or Crimeans are a Turkic ethnic group that originally resided in Crimea. They speak the Crimean Tatar language...

, and sold to the Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as a galley slave
Galley slave
A galley slave was a slave rowing in a galley. The expression has two distinct meanings: it can refer either to a convicted criminal sentenced to work at the oar , or to a kind of human chattel, often a prisoner of war, assigned to his duty of rowing.-Antiquity:Contrary to the popular image of the...

. He somehow managed to escape from his owners, reached Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, and then was captured in Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 en route to Russia by the associates of Mikhail Molchanov (one of the assassins of Feodor Godunov, who had successfully fled from Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 and was again contemplating the second coming of False Dmitry
False Dmitry II
False Dmitry II , also called the rebel of Tushino, was the second of three pretenders to the Russian throne who claimed to be Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich of Russia, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible...

). Molchanov sent Ivan Bolotnikov to the town of Putyvl
Putyvl or Putivl is a town in north-east Ukraine, in Sumy Oblast. Currently about 20,000 people live in Putyvl.-History:One of the original Siverian towns, Putyvl was first mentioned as early as 1146 as an important fortress contested between Chernigov and Novgorod-Seversky principalities of...

 to meet a voyevoda named Grigory Shakhovskoy. The latter received him as the new tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

’s envoy and put him in charge of a Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 unit. Ivan Bolotnikov used this opportunity to muster a small army of runaway kholops, peasants, outlaws, and vagabonds, disgruntled at the powers that be. He promised them to exterminate the ruling class and establish a new social system. By the order of Grigory Shakhovskoy, Bolotnikov and his large army advanced to Kromy
Kromy is a urban locality Kromy is a urban locality Kromy is a urban locality (an urban-type settlement and the administrative center of Kromskoy District of Oryol Oblast, Russia, located on the Kroma River (a tributary of the Oka) southwest of Oryol. Population:...

 (today’s Oryol Oblast
Oryol Oblast
Oryol Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Oryol. Population: -Geography:It is located in the southwestern part of the Central Federal District, in the Mid-Russian Highlands. Kaluga and Tula Oblasts border it in the north, Bryansk Oblast is located to...

) in August 1606, defeating the Muscovite army under the command of Prince Yury Trubetskoy. From there, he moved towards Serpukhov
Serpukhov is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia, which is situated at the confluence of the Oka and the Nara Rivers. It is located south from Moscow on the Moscow—Simferopol highway. The Moscow—Tula railway passes through the town. Population: -History:...

 and ravaged the city. Also, there were several other rebellions across Russia at that time, the participants of which would join Ivan Bolotnikov’s army. Most of the insurgents (Cossacks, gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

, service class people
Service class people
Service class people were persons bound by obligations of service, especially military service, to the Muscovite Russian state.In early Siberia, service-men and promyshleniks were the two main classes of the Russian population. Service-men were nominally servants of the tsar, had certain legal...

, and even boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

 children) organized themselves into three main groups under the command of Grigory Sumbulov, Prokopy Lyapunov
Prokopy Lyapunov
Prokopy Petrovich Lyapunov was a Russian statesman of Rurikid stock, who helped deliver Moscow from Polish interventionists.After the death of Boris Godunov, Prokopy and his brother Zakhary Lyapunov sided with False Dmitriy I. In early 1606, he took part in the Bolotnikov Uprising on the side of...

, and Istoma Pashkov. All these rebels united and then besieged Moscow, settling in a village of Zagorye on October 12, 1606. The consent among these rebellious groups, however, did not last long.

Soon enough, the noblemen realized that most of Ivan Bolotnikov’s plans had really been aimed against them, so they figured it would be much safer to return to Vasili Shuisky . On November 15, Sumbulov and Lyapunov left Zagorye and gave up to the authorities, asking the tsar for forgiveness. Now that Bolotnikov’s army had lost some of its men, Vasili Shuisky decided to make his move. On December 2, Prince Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky
Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky
Prince Mikhail Vasiliyevich Skopin-Shuisky was a youthful Russian statesman and military figure during the Time of Troubles. He was the last representative of a cadet branch of the House of Shuya.-Life:...

 (tsar’s cousin) attacked the enemy near Kolomenskoye
Kolomenskoye is a former royal estate situated several kilometers to the south-east of the city-centre of Moscow, Russia, on the ancient road leading to the town of Kolomna...

. During the battle, Istoma Pashkov and his men decided to switch camps and joined the Muscovite army. Left all by himself, Ivan Bolotnikov suffered a defeat and fled to Kaluga
Kaluga is a city and the administrative center of Kaluga Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River southwest of Moscow. Population: It is served by Grabtsevo Airport.-History:...

. Vasili Shuisky’s commanders Fyodor Mstislavsky and Ivan Shuisky laid siege to the city, but Bolotnikov and his Cossacks managed to repel their attacks until the end of winter. In the spring of 1607, another imposter by the name of False Peter (also known as Ileyka Muromets; he claimed to be the son of Feodor I of Russia
Feodor I of Russia
Fyodor I Ivanovich 1598) was the last Rurikid Tsar of Russia , son of Ivan IV and Anastasia Romanovna. In English he is sometimes called Feodor the Bellringer in consequence of his strong faith and inclination to travel the land and ring the bells at churches. However, in Russian the name...

) came to Tula
Tula, Russia
Tula is an industrial city and the administrative center of Tula Oblast, Russia. It is located south of Moscow, on the Upa River. Population: -History:...

 with a whole mob of robbers to meet with Prince Grigory Shakhovskoy. Immediately after this, the latter dispatched Prince Andrei Telyatevsky and his men to help out Ivan Bolotnikov, forcing Prince Mstislavsky to lift the siege of Kaluga. Bolotnikov moved to Tula. Thus, all the rebels met together in one place, their joint forces numbering some 30,000 people.

It was then that Vasili Shuisky decided to attack all of them at once and left Moscow on May 21, 1607. He besieged Tula, but the insurgents managed to hold out until October despite deprivations and hunger. Finally, Bolotnikov decided to negotiate his surrender. The tsar promised to pardon the insurgents in return for Tula. On October 10, the rebels surrendered to the authorities. Shuisky, however, did not keep his promise. Instead, he transported all of the rebel leaders to Moscow on October 30, and then executed each of them in a different way. Ivan Bolotnikov was transported to Kargopol
-Culture and recreation:Today, Kargopol is a sleepy historical town adjoining the Kenozyorsky National Park. It is best known in Russia for Kargopol toys , which are small, simple clay figures painted in traditional style....

, blinded and then drowned.


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