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The “Copper Riot” broke out in Moscow

4 August 1662

On July 25 (August 4) 1662 in Moscow began an uprising, which was caused by a sharp rise in taxes during the Russian–Polish War of 1654-1667 and an issue of devaluated copper money.

In order to cover military expenses the issue of copper money equated to silver currency was begun in 1654. This resulted into a devaluation of money, dramatic increase of prices and mass production of counterfeit coins. A financial catastrophe which broke out in the beginning of 1660’s harmed mostly small tradespeople, soldiers and streets who received money allowance.

On the night of July 24-25 (August 3-4) 1662 in Moscow appeared the so called “thieves’ leaflets” (“vorovskiye listki”), which contained the names of those responsible for the economic misfortune. These lists included the names of top officials: the boyars Miloslavsky, okolnichy F. M. Rtishchev, Lord of the Kremlin Armoury B. M. Khitrovo, dyak D. M. Bashmakov, V. G. Shorin, S. Zadorin and others.

On the early morning of July 25 (August 4) started a riot which brought together up to 10 thousand people. Active participants of the “Copper Riot” of 1662 were representatives of lower classes of the city, people from other towns, peasants from Moscow’s villages, and soldiers (mostly from the Shepelev’s regiment), dragoons from different regiments, and streltsy. Insurgents made their way to Kolomenskoye to meet with Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and demanded to surrender the “traitors” to the people.

The tsar and boyars promised insurgents to lower the taxes and conduct an investigation in accordance with the demands of the petition. The insurgents took the tsar’s work for it and moved back to Moscow, where in meanwhile people were destroying the households of the most hated merchants. After meeting halfway between Moscow and Kolomenskoye the two groups of insurgents went back to the tsar’s residence. They renewed their demands threatening that if the boyars were not brought to them for reprisal, they would take them in the palace.

A large military force (6,000 to 10,000 soldiers) was meanwhile assembled to counter the rebels. As a result, up to 1,000 men were killed, hanged, or drowned in the Moskva River. Several thousand people were arrested and later exiled after an investigation.

By the Tsar’s Decree of 1663 copper coinage which caused the riot was abolished.

Lit.: Буганов В. И. Московское восстание 1662 г. М., 1964; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://www.bibliotekar.ru/Prometey-5/10.htm; Восстание 1662 г. в Москве : сб. док. М., 1964; Назаров В. Д. Московские восстания 1648, 1662 // Советская военная энциклопедия. Т. 5. М., 1978. С. 416-417; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URLhttp://militera.lib.ru/enc/enc1976/index.html.

From the Presidential library materials:

Берх В. Н. Царствование царя Алексея Михайловича. СПб., 1831. Ч. 1. С. 48–50;

Котошихин Г. О России в царствование Алексея Михайловича. СПб., 1884. Гл. 7. С. 9. С. 111-118;

Мигулин П. П.  Экономический рост русского государства за 300 лет (1613-1912). М., 1913.