N 1, 28.02.2001


Nikolai Vasilyevich Zavaryukhin. “The History and the Culture of the Mordovian lands in 17–18 centuries”, a textbook for the 7th form.

This book became the second textbook in the history of Mordovia in which Tatars are spoken about objectively, without bitterness and propaganda cliches. The first example of treating Tatars in a normal way was the “Rodinovedenie” (Science on Homeland) textbook for the 5th form by Nina Alekseevna Anufrieva, published in 1996. An interesting and comprehensive textbook for the 6th form, called “The World of History” by Valeri Anatoliyevich Yurchenkov was published in 1997. A lot of useful historical data and documents of the history of our territory were given there. Unfortunately, this author repeats the disproved for a long time by historical science views that Mishars are the descendants of the Tatar-Mongols, who arrived here in the 13 century. Also, there isn’t a word about the Ulus Mokhshi, the Temnikov Principality, though the author gives some information about Bekhan – the founder of this principality and about his descendants – the Temnikov princes.

These two textbooks are completely opposite to the earlier ones – the textbooks by Yefim Grigoryevich Osovski and Lev Gerasimovich Filatov “My land Mordovia” (1974, for 3rd and 4th forms) and “Stories about the history of Mordovia” (1983, for 4th form), which were full of hatred towards Tatars.

These are the people who should get the Tatarophobia Competition Laureate Prizes! These textbooks bring only negative facts about Tatars and their ancestors, and so much lies that it is impossible to read it.

And now, in the very beginning of the 21 century, a new book by professor Zavaryukhin came out as the declaration of the new treatment of Tatars.

Not only curious teenagers but even scholars will find a lot of food for thought both in the book itself and in the attached extracts from medieval documents.

The textbook erases many blank spaces in the history of our area, which the teachers of history couldn’t explain to their pupils earlier.

Detailed information is given about the peoples inhabiting the Mordovian area at that time – Mokshas, Russians, Tatars and Erzias, about their culture, clothes, ways of working, architecture, tools, about the ways of farming and crafts.

The textbook is also valuable for the fact that the author analyses the differences in the processes which had been taking place in both Moksha and Erzia zones of the Mordovian area.

The book covers a complicated period for our area – from the beginning of the Russian colonization and till making the Mordovian lands an inner region of Russia with establishing the serfdom for peasantry. The stages and the ways of colonizing the Mordovian area by the Russians are thoroughly examined in the textbook.

After the Tatar-Mordovian Temnikov Principality lost it’s independence (it volunteeringly annexed itself to the Russian State in the beginning of the 16 century), and after the remnants of the autonomy were eliminated, the Russian voivodes (governors) started ruling the land instead of the Temnikov princes.

The events described in this book start from that moment.

The fugitive Russian peasants come to the “paradisian land” from the Russian lands escaping from starvation and the oppression of the landlords.

The serf Russian peasants were first brought to Mordovia by Tatar, and later, in increasing numbers, by Russian landlords who had been gradualy taking possession of more and more lands.

The Russian State transferred many Russian people on duty – cossacks, streletses and others to serve on the border in Mordovia – the defense lines against the Nogai, Kuban and Krym Tatars.

However, by the end of the 17 century the defensive importance of Mordovia came to naught, the land wasn’t a frontier any more. A large number of Tatar and Mordovian murzas and princes, the succession of the Temnikov Principality nobility, were moved south, to the new borders – to the Don River and the Lower Volga region. The creation of the regular army reduced the necessity in Tatar and Mordovian murzas, and after the edict of 1713 the non-Christian noblemen were demoted to peasants.

In the period that the textbook cover, the number of Russian inhabitants increased largely and the number of Tatars and Mordovians decreased. This reduction was the result of leaving the motherland by the native people who were leaving because of landhunger, the oppression of the government and the forced christianization.

If earlier the christanization was kept back by the impressive military power of Tatar and Mordovian princes, nothing restrained the orthodox missionaries later. As a result, the most part of Mordovians and some part of Tatars were christianized.

A.Geraklitov, explaining the reasons of the “restlessness” of the Mordovians, wrote: “It turned out that the matter was not in “the willingness to change places” but in the increasing colonization of the Mordovian lands by the Russian feudal-serfowners... in the pope missionary tyranny”.

If in the beginning of the considered period the state of the Mordovian and Tatar peasants was much better than that of the Russian bondmen, then in the end their economical state got that bad that it was almost at the level with the state of the Russian serfs. The Christianized part of the Mordovian and Tatar nobility joined the Russian nobility. Not only Tatars and Mordovians were escaping from feudal oppression, the Russian peasants did the same.

E-mail: irek@moris.ru