Title of the article:



Mikhail A. Belan

Information about the author/authors

Mikhail A. Belan — DPhil 3 courses, Faculty of History, University of Oxford, George St., 41–47, OX1 2BE Oxford, United Kingdom. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9899-1089. E-mail: mikhailbelan@mail.ru


Theory and history of culture




Vol. 60


pp. 82–96


December 25, 2020

Date of publication

June 28, 2021



Index UDK


Index BBK



The paper examines practices of collecting donations by district towns merchants for the 1806–1807 “zemskoe voisko” (militia) and the People’s militia of 1812. Up to this day the researchers highlight merchants’ role for the organization of militias less than that of the nobility. That said only total amounts of merchants’ donations in 1812 are now available, while raising money for the first militia remains a virtually unexplored field. The paper deals with specific practices and traditions within communities that determined the collection of money and material donations. Given study fills the gap in our understanding of the role of Russian citizenry in creating militias. The author addresses three district towns of the St. Petersburg`s province with different economic background: Novaya Ladoga, Gdov, and Sofia (Tsarskoe Selo). All merchant communities adhered to same principles at the very stage of raising funds for the first militia. They formed a community donation, for which   participation was mandatory. The amount of the community donation was most usually set by the town elite. The donation was split equally to be raised from each male soul. But in all communities’ urban elite families contributed additionally, with money or material donations, and their share was significant. Seeing that the total amount of donations in 1807 frequently equalled that of 1812, and sometimes was even more, the role of the first militia for the Russian society deserves reassessment. 1807–1812 saw merchants position worsened due to the increase of taxes. The town elite suffered significantly, which caused problems when collecting donations in 1812: a study of lifepaths of merchants elite families shows that many important donators had to register to “meshchane” (petty bourgeoisie). 


Russian merchant class, district town, voluntary donations, contributions, militia of 1806–1807 (zemskoe voisko), national militia of 1812 (zemskoe opolchenie), the Patriotic War of 1812.


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