Gender and Empire

The Imprisonment of Women in Eighteenth-Century Siberia

in Sibirica
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The article focuses on the imprisonment of elite women from the Russian metropole and women of mixed ethnic backgrounds on the Siberian frontier in the mid-eighteenth-century. Female prisoners and their monastic jailors responded to ascribed identities, positions, and circumstances dictated by imperial policies within the walls of the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, which complicates our understanding of imperial interaction, gender, and empire in Siberia.

You will perhaps wonder at the banishing [of] women and children, but here, when the matter of a family is attacked, the whole family is involved in his ruin, all estates belonging to them are seized, they are sunk from nobles to the condition of the meanest of people, and if one misses any that used to be in public, no-body enquires after them: sometimes we hear they are demolished, but when once in disgrace, they are never mentioned. If by good luck they are restored to favour, they are then caressed as usual, but no mention of what has past.

—Mrs. Jane Vigor, Letter XII, Moscow, 1732

The investigation of monastic imprisonment of women in eighteenth-century Siberia expands the analysis of borderlands to include convents as critical sites for the consolidation of imperial power and illustrates the gendered dynamic of exile and incarceration. Convents were not only communal spaces for religious women but also prisons where violent intimacies were established to dislocate, dispossess, and coerce ordinary and elite women. Western historical studies of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Russia include accounts of the arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment of male and female witches in local jails or prisons of the Riazriad, the Chancellery of Military Affairs, but confinement for a “spiritual” crime did not land witches in a monastery or convent.1 Other studies have examined the involuntary commitment of the insane to almshouses (bogadel'ni), parish churches, and shrines in central Russia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but show that monasteries were mostly used as an intermediate step to segregate and cure those afflicted with demons and drunkenness, or were places that provided care of the elderly and the disabled.2

Distinct from previous scholarship, this article concentrates on the religious authority of women monastics as jailors who wielded secular authority over female monastic prisoners from prominent and ordinary families held within the walls of the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent in Western Siberia during the mid-eighteenth century. The authority granted and assumed by the abbess and other female monastics went beyond the spiritual realm. As religious women they implicitly functioned as moral examples, but also as jailors that explicitly acted as agents of the empire under whose control Russian elite, as well as non-Russians, fell. Eighteenth-century convents on the Siberian frontier complicate the representation, role, and function of female monastic communities by showing that these women were also leveraged and empowered to control imperial spaces and bodies, rather than manifesting religious devotion to others, or seeking their own spiritual improvement through a private contemplative life. The abbess and nuns at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent gained authority not necessarily due to their piety, devotion, or leading the ascetic life of a staritsa (holy woman). Rather their roles as state servitors, in the form of wardens, oversaw the confinement of female political prisoners, female religious schismatics, and morally tainted women.

Previously untapped archives from the Tobol'sk Ecclesiastical Court, the Dalmatov Uspenskii Monastery, the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent in Western Siberia, and the records of the Preobrazhenskii Prikaz at the Russian Archive of Ancients Acts allow for a closer examination of the interrogation, transport, confinement, and release of female monastic prisoners.3 Paramount to this research is realizing the limitations of using official church documents to learn about imprisoned women due to the intrinsic biases embedded in texts produced by state officials and church hierarchs. The documents tell as much about the agents of ecclesiastical imperialism who produced them as they do about the female prisoners that were described.

This article focuses on a variety of cases that illustrate the defiance or deference of women held at a Siberian convent, and the reaction of monastic women to their extraordinary prisoners. Three case studies of elite women held at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent during the 1730s through the 1760s—Princess Praskov'ia Iusupova, Baroness Stepanida Solov'eva, and Anna Alekseevna Pavlova are the primary focus of this article. The monastic imprisonment of these women was not an anomaly, but rather a set of regular measures to counter political opposition of the elite through corporal punishment. Notable elite women, such as Ekaterina Dolgorukaia, Peter II's fiancée, also accompanied their noble families in exile to Siberia after their unsuccessful bid for the throne following the young emperor's death in 1730.4 After nearly eight years of exile in the northern Siberian town of Berezov, she and her two sisters found themselves banished to live out their days in various Siberian convents in the Tobol'sk Eparchy.5

As a display of legitimacy and mercy, if not a warning to other elite court families the new sovereign, Empress Anna Ioannovna began using monastic imprisonment in 1730 to consolidate her authority while Empress Elizabeth, who succeeded her in a 1741 palace coup maintained the use of monastic prisons, and on occasion pardoned previous sentences. Between 1732 and 1740, the Ministry of Secret Affairs investigated on average 50 cases of treason per month, 1,909 cases in the 1730s alone, with each case resulting in the arrest of three to four people, totaling some 6,600 persons during Anna Ioannovna's rule.6 K. G. Manshtein, a memoirist during Anna's “bloody rule,” provides an exaggerated number of over 20,000 exiles in 1744. In fact, Anna exiled more than 668 to hard labor, compared to Elizabeth's 711 from 1742 to 1761.7 Additional data compiled by Evgenii Anisimov shows that 31 persons were exiled to monastic prison from 1725 to 1761, with the majority sent between 1725 and 1740, that is 14 between 1725 and 1730, and 12 between 1731and 1740, yet none are listed as exiles from the elite or families of the nobility.8 Although the imprisonment of high-ranking elite or even members of the royal family occurred at other times in Russian history, much is not known about the lives of women of any social rank held in Siberian convents.

The Siberian setting is central to this story because of its particular characteristics as a borderland of the empire where resources and populations were controlled by ecclesiastic authorities to further imperial designs, as in the cases of monastic prisons. From the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, Siberia was characterized and imagined as a dumping ground for vast numbers of citizens who were too disruptive and dangerous to keep in the heartland but not quite disruptive and dangerous enough to execute. But few studies have examined specific narratives of political exiles, or account for the wide-ranging social structure among exilic populations. Thus, this study of the monastic imprisonment of elite women in the eighteenth-century challenges the idea of Siberian exile for the purpose of agricultural settlement that exists so broadly in the historical literature.9 Exile to Siberia was not merely a space for peasants behaving badly, or a space for social and geographic control of the state over the mobility of the lower classes. In the eighteenth-century, Siberia was also a space for the political exile of the elite, specifically to exclude their influence on political matters in the capital. On the one hand, Asian Siberia was imagined in official legal rhetoric to imitate Russian cultural forms of agriculture centered on the village and Orthodox belief.10 On the other hand, Siberia was used as a space of difference, deprivation, and distance that was suitable to hold treasonous members of elite families—it was not singularly envisioned as a land of agriculture and sustenance, or even a “mercantile colony” that reached its apogee in the eighteenth century.11 Siberia in the eighteenth century was a complex political, social, and economic space that must be examined beyond imperial decrees from the center or an economic system that extracted resources from the periphery.

An examination of gender performance, and the transitional moral and legal expectations of elite women in the eighteenth-century Russian society can help scholars understand deeper meanings of female monastic imprisonment. Based on Judith Vowles's work in Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture, I suggest that women in Russian society were neither viewed as morally superior to men nor economically dependent on men. Some current scholarship inaccurately characterizes women in eighteenth-century Russia as victims or pawns of patriarchy, limited to the role, influence, and legal standing that men would deign to give them.12 Vowles argues that some foreign observers in eighteenth-century Russia looked to elite or noblewomen to conform to prescribed models of European femininity, which extolled moral rectitude and sexual modesty, and explained women's dependence on men due to their ‘natural’ physical weakness, and mental fragility.13 However, these observers found Russian elite women to be deficient. French traveler Charles Franscois-Philibert Masson and British women, such as the Wilmont sisters and Jane (Rondeau) Vigor described Russian aristocratic women, and affluent young women in the countryside as domineering masculine females, which disrupted their own ideals of feminine performance.14 Although foreign observers displayed competing feelings of revulsion and admiration, they generally found Russian women's sexuality, rough language, indifference to men, and involvement in public life unnatural and upsetting.15 Simply put, to European visitors gender performance in Russia, even at the end of the eighteenth century, was poorly adapted to European models, further showing Russia's exotic, “oriental” difference compared to “occidental” Europe.

Gender-based hierarchies were also fluid among wives of military governors and prominent service men. Women wielded their power and authority in the absence of and in the presence of their powerful husbands. This article is limited to examining the secular authority of women as monastics, and how elite and ordinary female prisoners and their jailors responded to ascribed identities, positions, responsibilities, and circumstances within the walls of the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent.

Women incarcerated for political duplicity, religious dissent, insanity, and behavioral transgressions at the convent were known as kolodnitsi (female imprisoned persons). In legal sources dating back to the Law Code of 1649, the term kolodniki referred to any imprisoned person and was intertwined with references to statutes on the detention of serfs, slaves, thieves, bandits, robbers, and other criminals.16 The 1669 Criminal Articles governing the punishment of clergy accused or guilty of murder, robbery, theft, and other crimes state that punishment included imprisonment, but there is no specific reference to members of the spiritual ranks held as kolodniki.17 The reason that the 1669 Criminal Articles are not more specific about the imprisonment of the clergy is that they had immunity from civil law. Traditionally church personnel fell under the jurisdiction of canon law dating back to the reign of Prince Vladimir from 988 to 1015 and Prince Iaroslav from 1019 to 1054. These Church Statutes (ustavy) were compiled in the twelfth century, and functioned as short legal codes, demarcating the jurisdiction between the church and princely courts. Incarceration in a monastery was also a provision of canon law and used as a typical punishment for erring clergy, yet it was also mandated for unmarried women who were raped, and those who gave birth out of wedlock or committed infanticide, as evidenced in some manuscripts of Prince Iaroslav's Church Statute.18 From the twelfth century, the types of people condemned to monastic incarceration were: clergy to include nuns, laypersons who were judged to be mentally impaired, morally tainted, heretics (expanded to include raskol'niki, a term referring to schismatics, in the seventeenth century), and political prisoners.

By the first quarter of the eighteenth century, the term kolodniki appears as a specific legal category of incarceration, referring to a particular type of prisoner. In legal statutes of the Russian state, and in extant sources of the eighteenth century the Senate and the Holy Synod in 1721 recognized both men and women under the juridical status of monastic prisoners, referred to them explicitly as kolodniki and kolodnitsi, whose imprisonment was to be funded jointly by the two governing bodies.19 The initial decree of 1721 makes no mention of kolodniki to be held in monasteries or convents, but rather under guard in the military barracks of designated local fortresses (ostrogi). The Holy Synod likely assumed the sole responsibility for these prisoners when the Senate was dissolved on 1 June 1731, and a small cabinet of ministers appointed by the new empress, which included the Minister of Secret Affairs, delegated responsibilities. The only official mention of monastic confinement appeared in a 1735 decree, noting that if the Ministry of Secret Affairs alleged that convicts’ minds had been damaged from infirmity or age (v ume povrezhdenie) then they were to be held under guard in monasteries and convents throughout Russia.20 Not appearing in the legal record is the additional role monasteries and convents would fulfill as prisons for political prisoners. The identification of these individuals as a special group is connected with the general tendency of strengthening state intervention in the judicial jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, while the intent of the Holy Synod was for abbots and abbesses to exercise all administrative authority over their prisoners in an austere, isolated environment. On the one hand, the state was relieved of carceral responsibilities for dangerous members of society; on the other, church officials expanded their power to exact obedience and assert control over a secular sphere of criminals charged with political crimes.

Conditions of Imprisonment

State authorities determined the site and conditions of imprisonment at monasteries and also provided funds to pay the costs. However, church authorities were charged with supervising the prisoners’ detention. The principal feature of punishment was designed to be admonitory, serving as a deterrent to others, but the overwhelming majority of kolodnik cases involved circumstances associated with “incoherence” (sumasbrodstvo), “madness” (sumashestvie), or “not being in one's mind” (ne v ume). Transported by military escorts, with letters accompanying them from the Holy Synod, these women were sent with specific instructions to monastic officials to regulate their daily lives.

Historically, the church and state worked together irregularly on criminal matters where canon law and the judicial apparatus of the church complemented or was an extension of tsarist legal authority. In contrast to the courts of the Holy Synod of the eighteenth century, during the Muscovite period the judicial authority of the church was strengthened as monastic lands were immune from secular courts, and church councils successfully defended the right to judge ordained clerics.21 Although the creation of the Monastic Chancellery in the seventeenth century did eliminate monastic immunities in all but religious crimes (belief, heresy, and aspects of family law), the 1669 Criminal Articles allowed for the church to have oversight in secular court so that secular judges could not interrogate clergy until they had been defrocked, as such church consistories were able to function somewhat autonomously from the state.22 A notable exception was schismatic clerics who were severely dealt with by the court of the patriarch after they were defrocked for heresy.

The arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment of women in historical accounts have remained little more than a footnote in Russian historiography and more often appeared centuries later as cautionary tales of aberrant female behavior, or examples of arbitrary rule and despotic oppression during an unenlightened period in Russian history.23 At the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, a wide spectrum of sentencing and treatment existed among varying classes of women, with elite prisoners faring the worst. Although the eighteenth century is considered an enlightened time when Russian elite women began entering public society,24 this article shows that their elevated position was precarious at best; the sins of the fathers, brothers, and sons appear to be visited upon mothers and daughters. The tradition of holding families responsible for the misconduct of their members is an important aspect of understanding the phenomena of female monastic imprisonment. If we examine the judicial concept of poruka, the legal responsibility within peasant and lower-class groups for the communal policing of behavior, we find no comparative model among the elite in Russian society.25 Elite women were thus brought low, while nonelite women were elevated and endowed as agents of power and given authority over intimate spaces and confined bodies inside a convent prison.

Princess Praskov'ia Iusupova, Confined from 1730 to 1762 and Head Nun Tarsilla

The ascent of Anna Ioannovna to the Russian throne in 1730 had dire consequences for many of the noble families at court, and among these were the Iusupovs. Unlike the Menshikov and Dolgoruki clans whose entire families were sent to exile to the northern Siberian town of Berezov for attempting to manipulate the marriage of their daughters to Peter II prior to his sudden illness and death from smallpox in 1730, only the nineteen-year-old daughter of Grigorii Iusupov, a high-ranking general and close confidant to Peter the Great, was sent to Siberia while her brothers continued their military and political careers.

Praskov'ia Iusupova, a lady-in-waiting to Peter the Great's daughter Elizaveta (the future Empress Elizabeth), was arrested by officers of the Ministry of Secret Affairs and charged with attempting to bewitch the new Empress Anna Ioannovna. Two weeks following the death of her father in 1730 Iusupova was confined to Tikhvin Vvedenskii Convent in European Russia, not far from St. Petersburg, where she lived in relative comfort. During this time several rumors circulated in Moscow and St. Petersburg alleging that she and her father had conspired to place Elizabeth in power, while others speculated that she was exiled in place of her dead father, who was part of a conspiracy to limit the power of Empress Anna following her ascent to the Russian throne.

While at Tikhvin Iusupova had genteel confinement; she was even allowed to receive visitors and maintain contacts despite specific instructions to the contrary.26 Once local people and visitors to the Tikhvin area found out she was at the convent, she became something of a local celebrity. Soldiers on leave from the Preobrazhenskii Regiment, their extended family members, and other military men that served with her father and brother repeatedly came to pay respects, bring gifts, and receive loans of money from Iusupova while enjoying conversation, dining on fine food, and drinking vodka with her and Abbess Dorofeia.27 On 30 April 1735, after spending five years restricted to living at the Tikhvin Vvedenskii Convent, the Ministry of Secret Affairs discovered that starting in 1732 Iusupova had been enlisting support from Tikhvin landowners, military officers, monastery clergy, and court officials in St. Petersburg to negotiate her release from monastic custody.28 Under cover of darkness she and her two female attendants were brought to the Ministry of Secret Affairs in St. Petersburg for interrogation.

After months of investigation and torture, which involved over a dozen separate interrogations, judgment was pronounced against Iusupova: “For villainous acts and obscene words, by the power of public law, although a princess, [she] is sentenced to death, but her imperial highness [Empress Anna], showing mercy to Iusupova for the service of her father, deigns to free her from the sentence of death, but does not have the right to free her from the power of public law, such are the limits of her mercy.”29 Instead of being put to death, she was flogged, forcibly tonsured as a nun, given the monastic name of Prokla, and ordered to spend the rest of her life confined at a women's monastery in Siberia.30 The Ministry of Secret Affairs specified that, “she is to be sent under guard to a far off, harsh women's monastery, one that will be designated by the Bishop of Novgorod, where Iusupova will spend the rest of her days and never leave.”31 The far off monastery turned out to be in Western Siberia, with the exact location of Iusupova's imprisonment left undetermined until she arrived in Tobol'sk in 1735. For church officials carrying out state orders, Siberia—as a distant hinterland—suited their overall purpose. Eighteenth-century monastic prisons on the Asian continent performed a valuable function by making monastic spaces relevant in an increasingly secularized state. Siberia was imagined as a space largely governed by somewhat reliable Russian servitors, but its severe climate and geographic distance isolated the region from the capital and served as a physical and mental barrier to manage ambitious courtiers and their political intrigues.

The welfare of elite women had little to do with the sentiments of concerned relatives or ruling monarchs, but much to do with their family's concern about their health and material maintenance. The imprisonment of Iusupova and other elite women released their families from monetary obligations and inheritance claims. Imprisonment in Siberia was for all practical purposes a death sentence financially, if not physically. Most often, relatives were under the moral obligation to provide limited material support for imprisoned persons. Iusupova was allocated two and a half kopeks a day for food, but it is unclear if the money was from her family, a benefactor, or ruga, a paltry stipend for basic sustenance allocated by the state for monastics. Based on the circumstances of their imprisonment, these elite women had cautious relatives who wanted to make sure they were cut off from their legal inheritance of land.

After spending several months in a cell at the Tobol'sk Rozhdestvenskii Convent, Iusupova was escorted to the western boundary of the Tobol'sk Eparchy. Tarsilla, the abbess of the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, first encountered Iusupova two years after her arrival in Siberia, so it is likely she was held at the Verkhotur'e Pokrovskii Convent beginning in 1735.32 Once she arrived at the convent and was placed in the custody of Abbess Tarsilla in 1737, the following orders regarding Iusupova were given:

By the order of her Imperial Highness, through the investigative office of the Ministry of Secret Affairs to the convent where the nun Prokla was sent under guard for serious unlawful acts, the head nun Tarsilla is commanded to hold her to the end of her life. She is not allowed to leave; she is to be watched closely so that her life is disciplined; and that she be allowed to [go to] services only in the monastery church; she is not to speak to anyone and no one is to speak to her; no one shall be admitted to see her; no one is to write to this nun or about her. If the nun Prokla behaves contrary to expectations, and her life does not demonstrate decency or if she acts against the orders of her majesty by mocking her punishment, note the instances for which she was punished, and send a report to her imperial majesty through the investigative office of the Ministry of Secret Affairs.33

Under the terms of Iusupova's incarceration, she was supposed to remain isolated and submissive to the nuns in charge of the monastery. Even at a distance, Empress Anna (or officials acting in her name) expected to be kept informed about any violations of their instructions. The head nun Tarsilla became a government agent at Dalmatov, directed to supervise the state prisoner and to report to the authorities about her behavior. The nun Prokla with her servant were given a separate cell, which she could leave only to attend church at the convent, and she was not to enter into conversations with any outsiders. Surprisingly she could have an inkpot, paper, and a quill in her cell for writing letters, yet there is no remaining record of her correspondence. An example of female monastics performing duties as state and imperial servitors is found in the account of Iusupova's defiant behavior shortly after she arrived at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent. Surveillance of her actions and behavior was delegated to the nuns Epikhariia, Evtropiia, Evstoliia, Trifena, Evfimiia, and Mitrodora who were to maintain constant guard over her and report back to the head nun Tarsilla.34

Not long after Iusupova arrived at the convent, Abbess Tarsilla reported the “outrages” committed by Iusupova to Archimandrite Silvestr of Uspenskii Dalmatov Monastery in December 1737:

First, in church she does not glorify the Mother of God; second, she threw away and does not wear her monastic clothes; third, she does not call herself by her monastic name Prokla, but rather calls herself Prasko've Grigorievna; fourth, she becomes furious, often commits disgusting acts towards the monastics—for no reason she hits nuns, she doesn't listen; when food is sent to her in her cell she says it is unacceptable, and sometimes throws it on the floor, curses at me and then demands for herself the best food and that it always be fresh and recently prepared. With tears I beg of you, your holiness, convey my testimony to all, pray for a decision because I your servant cannot report from this time onward for me this torture is unacceptable.35

Iusupova refused to cooperate with the terms of her incarceration and live as a subservient nun. Instead, she continued to act as a woman of the elite—she felt free to beat servants who failed to please her, and even as a prisoner, she viewed the nuns as her servants. As in her former life, she demanded she be catered to in terms of food. Tarsilla, for her part, found herself unable to fulfill her administrative roles. She was confounded in acting as the head of the monastery because Iusupova did not obey her, and she was limited in fulfilling her instructions from the empress—that is, to act as the agent of the sovereign and the empire. Tarsilla found this situation to be distressing to the point that she begged her superior to release her from it.

Tarsilla's superior, Archimandrite Silvestr, did not have the authority either to release Tarsilla or to change the terms of Iusupova's incarceration. He could only send her lament to his superior, Metropolitan Antonii of Tobol'sk. The metropolitan instructed Tarsilla to hold Iusupova “under strict watch in her cell with her legs in iron chains” until she ceased her “unexpected insolence.”36 Tarsilla was also given permission by the Ministry of Secret Affairs to have Iusupova whipped for her insolence, and remind her that she could be put to death.37 It is doubtful that still stricter treatment made Iusupova more acquiescent. At the same time, neither Silvestr nor Antonii gave Tarsilla relief from her onerous supervisory role; indeed, they legally could not because the empress’ orders had directed Tarsilla to oversee her confinement. The only recourse for metropolitan Antonii was to inform his superiors at the Synod and the Ministry of Secret Affairs of the problems and await their instructions.

Three months later, on 6 March 1738, Antonii received a reply from the Holy Synod and the Ministry of Secret Affairs in St. Petersburg.38 The Synod and the Chancellery were unwilling to respond to the report of difficulties by giving neither Iusupova nor Tarsilla what they wanted. Instead, the officials in faraway St. Petersburg issued still more stringent orders concerning Iusupova's confinement and provided no relief for Tarsilla.39 For all the stringency of the Synod's response concerning Iusupova's incarceration, the Synod did seem to be willing to address the question of her diet. The Synod issued funds to feed her better, and asked for an accounting of the 130 rubles and 94 kopeks delivered by Sergeant Aleksei Gureev in 1735 to the Tobol'sk Eparchy.40 The Synod could not be certain that the funds it issued were used for Iusupova, and had to depend on persons in Siberia to keep track of the money. That person turned out to be Tarsilla, along with the Dalmatov treasurer monk Nikola and the metropolitan of Tobol'sk.

In addition to supervising Iusupova and trying to ensure her compliance with orders, Tarsilla also had to account for the expenditure of state funds for Iusupova and others confined at the convent. She had to present accurate accounts to monk Nikola to receive the money.41 In other words, Tarsilla had to account for the money, but she was not actually given the money to control. She gathered receipts to show that the monies delivered in 1735 to the Tobol'sk Eparchy were allotted for her demanding prisoner. Pounds of fresh local fish, honey, a variety of nuts and berries, sugar, coffee, tea, and lemons are among the provisions obtained for Iusupova.42 Monastic servitors traveled to Western Siberian markets in Tobol'sk, Tuimen, Irbit, and Ialutorovsk to secure not only food but also beaver pelts, expensive Chinese silk lace, damask silk, fine linen, muslin and satin cloths, as well as candles and white chalk wash. Also purchased for Iusupova were gem stones—a brown stone for six rubles in 1735, and another dark blue stone for fifteen rubles in 1741.43 Although the provisions provided Iusupova were certainly luxurious for monastery life, a closer examination reveals that the majority of monies expended went to nonfood items, calling in to question Tarsilla's proper management of funds for Iusupova's food. Iusupova and Tarsilla battled over the former wearing monastic clothing, so bolts of fine linen and black satin, beaver pelts, and gems stones could have been for Iusupova or just as likely purchased for her monastic keepers. To the kopek all monies allotted for Iusupova were expended by the summer of 1743, shortly after answering the inquiries of Metropolitan Antonii and the Synod. Tarsilla sought to look blameless in the eyes of the metropolitan and the Holy Synod. The receipts showed that she was doing all she could within her power to accommodate an elite woman, while enforcing the orders of Iusupova's imprisonment, responsibilities that were many times at odds.

In the midst of accounting for monies expended on Iusupova and managing other prisoners held at the convent, Tarsilla sent Abbot Silvestr another report on 26 August 1743, describing how Iusupova continued to act out: “[she] is behaving completely offensively; will not go to church, she does not wear her monastic dress, and she will not use her monastic name.”44 Even though Tarsilla kept Iusupova under constant observation, she and the nuns guarding her were powerless to rein her in. Tarsilla again had to turn to the Dalmatov abbot to ask him to get the new metropolitan of Tobol'sk to intervene, and the metropolitan again had to seek guidance from the Synod and the Ministry of Secret Affairs.

Once Elizabeth was proclaimed empress, she issued a manifest on 15 December 1741, which allowed many of the twenty thousand exiles throughout the empire to return to their families or remain where they were, even without permission of the local officials.45 The court of Empress Elizabeth issued two orders in September 1742 and later in November 1743 regarding the release of persons exiled across the Russian Empire.46 After thirteen years of living under guard, Iusupova had reason to hope she would be freed from exile since a new empress was on the throne, a woman she had so many times claimed a close personal relationship with during their shared childhood in Peter the Great's court. In February 1744, Abbott Silvestr mentioned the recent order of Empress Elizabeth in connection with Iusupova, stating that she should be released into the custody of the Isetsk Provincial Оffice to be transferred to the Siberian Provincial Office in Tobol'sk.47 The Isetskii provincial office had also asked she be freed on 10 February 1744, and suggested to the Siberian district office that she be sent to Moscow to appear before the Senate.48 Another imperial manifesto, issued in March of 1744 listed four men who could be released from the Dalmatov Uspenskii Monastery and five women.49 Baroness Stepanida Solov'eva, confined for a crime similar to that of Iusupova, had already been granted her freedom and was sent from Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent to Moscow in January 1742. Despite the attempts by local officials and the Abbot of the Dalmatov Uspenskii Monastery, the 1743 decree left the original instructions of Empress Anna Ioannovna and the Ministry of Secret Affairs of 1735 unchanged. Iusupova was to spend the rest of her life confined in isolation at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, and the record is silent on why Iusupova was not freed.

Iusupova's aberrant behavior continued to be a problem for officials in the Tobol'sk Eparchy, but the situation suddenly became worse. A litany of correspondence was unleashed between the Dalmatov Monastery and the Siberian Provincial Office, and the Holy Synod and the Ministry of Secret Affairs in St. Petersburg, when Iusupova was found carrying poison while traveling to Tobol'sk on 11 October 1743. Some weeks earlier the Siberian Provincial Office dispatched Tobol'sk garrison soldiers to Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, with instructions for Tarsilla to release Iusupova for travel to Tobol'sk, along with her Kalmyk servant Maria Ivanovna, and several other monastic prisoners.50 While on the road to Tobol'sk, having stopped in Tiumen’, the guard Ivan Paramonov discovered that she had a small box with a suspicious substance in it. Iusupova claimed that it was medicine for a toothache and that she had it with Tarsilla's knowledge and consent. The guard recognized that the substance was actually a small amount of a powerful poison—mercuric sulfate (sulema)—and reported it.51 Upon questioning, Iusupova admitted that the salve could be harmful; another nun, Susana, had used it and fallen ill, although she did not die.52 Worried that he might be implicated in harming Iusupova, Paramonov reported the event to his superiors when he arrived in Tobol'sk. The Siberian Provincial Office sent notice of the discovery to Metropolitan Antonii, who then sent a report to the Holy Synod, as well as a demand for information from Abbot Silvestr. During the investigation from January 4–10, 1745, the nuns denied knowing anything about the poison. After being pressed further the sisters said it must have been from someone Iusupova traveled with, a released former nun or maybe the defrocked archpriest Aleksei Mikhailov.53

In a face-to-face confrontation between the monk-priest Kornilii and Iusupova, during her questioning at the monastery, Iusupova claimed that she showed him her swollen neck from the poison. He, however, claimed that he had never heard of her illness, and that numerous persons at the convent could testify to this. Prokla responded indignantly, asserting that “no one here actually tells the truth.”54 In January 1745, Abbott Silvestr questioned the nuns that had previously held constant watch over Iusupova in her cell; Eftropiia, Evstoliia, Evfimiia, and Mitrodora, said they had not seen Iusupova with poison in her cell, and that they did not give her poison and no one came to her and put or rubbed poison (zel'e) on her tooth.55 Not fully believing the nuns, Abbott Silvestr realized that he could not return Iusupova among these women after he had heard their confessions. Believing that Iusupova's presence definitely had a corrupting influence on them, these spiritual women could now be telling lies to protect themselves or even Iusupova. Although authorities in Tobol'sk gathered information about Iusupova's possession of poison over the next several months, the power to determine what should happen to Iusupova lay with the Synod, which decided that Iusupova had attempted suicide and ordered her flogged. It was the responsibility of the metropolitan of Tobol'sk to carry out the sentence, but he declined to do so by setting her punishment aside in recognition of the Easter holidays.56

Why would Iusupova have had poison? Perhaps it was indeed a salve to treat toothache. But possibly Tarsilla provided it to Iusupova in hopes that she would poison herself. Based on Iusupova's behavior, and the fact that monies to provide for her maintenance were completely expended by 1743, it is possible that Tarsilla and the other sisters may have attempted to poison their inconvenient prisoner. Alternatively, Iusupova could have also attempted to take her own life with the help of the nuns that gave her the poison, or the other monastic prisoners who traveled with her to Tobol'sk.

After spending several months housed in Tobol'sk awaiting the conclusion of the investigation, Iusupova returned with her servant to live outside the walls of the Dalmatov men's monastery for four months, until 3 September 1744. They were housed in a cell under the supervision of the same rank-in-file soldiers of the Tobol'sk Regiment who had guarded her during her return travel from Tobol'sk. Wanting little to do with Iusupova, Tarsilla and the nuns determined that the convent church was not an appropriate place for her confinement. Earlier in September 1742, a fire had destroyed the cells of the Vvedenskii Convent, and the nuns were living at the convent church (Ioanno-Pretechevskii) until the convent was rebuilt on the banks of the Techa River. Once appropriate cells were built Iusupova was returned to the convent. The lack of cells may have been a pretext, as it is likely that Tarsilla objected to taking Iusupova back after the episode and investigation surrounding the poison, which also put her and the other sisters under scrutiny.

It is not clear how often Iusupova rebelled against her imprisonment and how often measures were taken to enforce her compliance. During the interim years the head nun Tarsilla and a host of sisters at the convent continued to serve as her jailors to correct her behavior with primarily physical means, with little use of spiritual supplication. She was still living at the convent in 1746 when her name appears in association with others exiled to Dalmatov.57 There is no record of Iusupova when the convents and monasteries of the Tobol'sk Eparchy underwent state reform in 1763. All known archival records that deal with Iusupova end in 1762, and it is possible that she was buried in an unmarked grave in the gardens of the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, as local lore suggests.58 Collectively, Iusupova spent over thirty years in monastic confinement, from her arrest in St. Petersburg in 1730 to her death within the walls of a Siberian convent sometime after 1760.

Tarsilla is listed as abbess in 1757 at the age of seventy-two, having been a nun at the convent for some sixty-three years, but disappears from the archival record after 1759, indicating her death occurred sometime in 1758.59 Monastic registers show that Nimfodora took charge of the sisters and the prisoners at the convent in 1759.60 The lives of Tarsilla and Iusupova were intimately entwined in the spaces of the convent prison at Dalmatov. By 1769 only eighteen nuns were listed in the Tobol'sk Eparchy; the rest were sent to other eparchies in Irkutsk, Viatka, and Kostroma, while the youngest, healthiest, and those held against their will were relocated to other convents. By 1779 only one female prisoner remained at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent.61

Baroness Stepanida Solov'eva, Confined from 1739 to 1742

The second prominent woman confined at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent was the Baroness Stepanida Solov'eva, who began her imprisonment in 1739. Much like Princess Praskov'ia Iusupova, Baroness Stepanida Solov'eva found herself unexpectedly before the head of the Ministry of Secret Affairs, General Andrei Ushakov, in 1735.

While at a dinner hosted by Ushakov, Solov'eva was relaying a bit of family business to another female dinner guest, S. A. Saltykova. The baroness had received a letter from her daughter Mavra telling of certain remarks made by her son-in-law, privy counselor V. V. Stepanov, suggesting that the head chamberlain to Empress Anna, the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann von Biron was also the baroness's lover.62 Ushakov, having overheard the seditious conversation or having been told of it, soon had Baronesses Solov'eva, Mavra, and Mavra's husband thrown into a dungeon at the Ministry of Secret Affairs to await further interrogation. Ushakov's investigation cleared Mavra after several days of detention. Though distressed, Mavra did not provide any information on her husband, and no evidence of the letter could be found. Yet she did state that her husband had often “complained that his mother-in-law had lost all sense of shame.” In short order Empress Anna decided to believe that the Stepanovs were innocent of sedition, and she freed them on 18 March 1739. But Solov'eva was found guilty; she was flogged, tonsured as a nun under the name Sofia, and sent to the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent to spend the rest of her life.63

Solov'eva, unlike Iusupova, was not disruptive, and Tarsilla found no cause to complain about her behavior to the abbot and the metropolitan. Perhaps that was why Empress Elizabeth chose to release her in 1742, while denying a similar petition from Iusupova.64 Solov'eva's friends and family must have become involved, pressing for her release at the highest levels of government in St. Petersburg. Imperial orders, issued in 1741, 1742, and 1743 allowed for the pardoning and release of various categories of prisoners but specifically stated that those convicted of “word and deed” against the sovereign, as Solov'eva had been, would not be freed. Solov'eva's release reflects not only the process of return from exile for elite women but also the arbitrary fate of political prisoners. Each of the governing bodies that had orchestrated Solov'eva's exile and imprisonment were now involved in her return. Reversing the process of expulsion from the capital, orders were generated in the name of the empress through government offices of the Senate, Ministry of Secret Affairs, and Siberian District Office, as well as the ecclesiastic offices of the Holy Synod, Tobol'sk Eparchy, and all the way down to the abbot, head nun, and the sisters at Dalmatov instructing the return of Solov'eva to Moscow. On 23 January 1742, without delay Solov'eva was to be released from the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent and begin her overland journey to Moscow. By imperial order, carts and drivers were secured for her transport, and where traveling by cart was not possible in certain districts, boats with pilots were to be found along the route. Solov'eva's care and protection during travel were also paramount, and all financial and material support for her escort through Siberia back to Moscow was to be calculated at two kopecks for each verst traveled and assessed to the government.65

Based on canon law, a nun cannot return to secular life, so her jailors likely expected that Solov'eva would retain the status of a nun at a local convent once she returned to Moscow. However, there was discussion as to whether she was actually tonsured as a nun in 1739.66 While in monastic custody for three years Solov'eva was known as “the nun Sofiia,” but by January 1742 Tarsilla, Abbot Silvestr, as well as ranking church and state officials now referred to the baroness as the wife, and widow of Afananse'ev Solov'ev, implying her return to secular society as a middle-aged widow.67

Details on Baroness Solov'eva are meager and are likely so mundane because of her compliance with orders and at least an outward assimilation to monastic life. She was not perceived as a threat within the walls of the convent and was released in 1742 after three years of imprisonment.

Anna Alekseeva Pavlova, Confined from 1743 to 1772 and Abbesses Tarsilla and Nimfidora

The prisoner Anna Pavlova was the wife and widow of junior lieutenant Iakov Pavlov. Moreover, she was the daughter of Andrei Baskakov, the one-time procurator of the Holy Synod, the extremely influential lay official and head of the Russian Orthodox Church from 1725 to 1730.68 Although she was confined at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent from 1743 until 1772, Pavlova was convicted of a vague crime of “known and serious spiritual offenses.”69 The crime for which she was condemned and exiled to Siberia was her father's crime of incest with her.70 Mentions of Anna Alekseeva Pavlova appear in several biographical sketches of her father Andrei Baskakov.71 Her father had fallen out of favor when Empress Anna came to the throne. He was removed from the position of procurator but remained in government service. Elizabeth demoted him, and it is possible that the charges of incest were trumped up to justify his political downfall.

Whatever the case, the charges tainted the character of both Baskakov and his daughter. The validity of charges against Baskakov comes into question when reviewing the totality of events. Those who moved against Baskakov, possibly including the empress herself, perceived him as a political threat as a former high-ranking cabinet member and influential provincial governor. Baskakov's enemies leveraged their influence with local officials and townspeople, bringing about his downfall and the ruin of all who surrounded him. In an attempt to silence testimony from sixteen household members that could have refuted the charges of incest, the servants, including women and children, were identified as a group of schismatics, or Old Believers, in Smolensk.72

On 17 June 1742, Empress Elizabeth ordered that Baskakov be replaced as governor of Smolensk, and that he and his daughter Anna Pavlova, and their servants be brought to Moscow under guard. Under interrogation in Moscow, representatives of the Ministry of Secret Affairs and the Holy Synod determined that his servants were, in fact, schismatics and that Baskakov and his daughter were protecting them. At the end of 1742, all arrested persons were brought before the Senate, which issued the judgment that all should be aggressively forced to accept the “true faith.” The fate of Aleksei Baskakov is unknown, as all accounts disappear from the historical record after 1742. In February 1743, the Holy Synod ordered Anna Pavlova to a women's monastery in Siberia, where she was to be tonsured as a nun and held there for “eternal repentance” (v vechnoe pokaianie).

Anna Pavlova was dispatched to Tobol'sk under the guard of three soldiers. During the journey, the young widow was allowed a single female servant to accompany her but not from her household in Smolensk.73 Her servant Elena Alekseeva, acquired for the journey in Moscow, was not to remain in Siberia but ordered safely returned to her home at the government's expense.74 Set to leave on 13 February 1743, the soldiers in charge of the six-cart horse-drawn convoy escorting Pavlova were to keep her under constant surveillance and return to Moscow without delay after transporting their prisoner. The soldiers were to be paid three kopeks per person for every ten versts traveled.75 Including wagon drivers, the convoy to Tobol'sk was made up of at least eleven travelers. If at some point during the journey Anna Pavlova fell ill and was close to death the soldier in charge of the convoy, Guri Poltev, was to seek out a priest so that she could have last rights administered and receive the Eucharist; they were to note the place where she had died and the name of the priest, reporting all of this to the Metropolitan when they arrived in Tobol'sk.76

Along the route to Tobol'sk the convoy escorting Pavlova stopped at post-horse stations (iamy) and traveled through rural districts (uezdy). As they passed through local civil authorities were obliged by government orders to provide fresh horses, lodging and food and safe passage for their journey east. The first stop for this prisoner convoy was Nizhegorodsk on 22 February 1743, four days later they reached Viatka, pressing on to the Siberian cities of Solikamsk on March 4, and then Verkotur'e on March 7. The convoy finally arrived in Tobol'sk on 14 March 1743, and after nearly a month's journey Pavlova was brought before Metropolitan Antonii.

Prior to leaving Moscow, the following instructions were given to soldier Guri Poltev in late 1742 to deliver to the Metropolitan in Tobol'sk:

  1. (1)She is to be held in a permanent cell under close watch with a gate (bars) so that she cannot make a plan to escape.
  2. (2)Regarding her conditions at the Rozhdestvenskii Convent, you are to give an oral report to the Tobol'sk Bishop's Consistory if she falls sick, and if she is [still] living while confined.
  3. (3)She can be allowed to attend church services in the Rozhdestvenskii Convent under observation, if she behaves well.
  4. (4)She is to be constantly under guard and no one is allowed to see her, and she is to go nowhere else under penalty of serious fines.77

The Holy Synod ordered Pavlova to be tonsured as a nun, which did not happen; she remained known by her secular name. Perhaps her “serious spiritual offense”—charges of incest and presumed schismatic sympathies, which led to her imprisonment, or her rebellious conduct at the convent resulting in reports of insanity to Tobol'sk—precluded the imposition of monastic vows.

Once the convoy escorting Anna Pavlovna reported to the metropolitan, without delay she was sent under guard to the Rozhdestvenskii Convent, only a few miles from the residence of the Tobol'sk and Siberia metropolitan at the Sofiskii-Uspenskii Cathedral. Almost immediately upon her arrival Metropolitan Antonii sent a request to the Holy Synod for her transfer to the remote Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent on the western edge of the Tobol'sk Eparchy. At the same time, he directed Abbott Sylvestr of the Dalmatov Uspenskii Monastery to build a specific fortified cell for the kolodnitsa, pending her arrival. As in the case of Praskov'ia Iusupova in 1737, no rooms were immediately available for her, and she had to live with the head nun Tarsilla until accommodation for her could be made. Tarsilla presumably was no happier to share her private quarters with Pavlova than she had been with Iusupova. A month after her arrival at the convent, the Abbot Silvestr informed Metropolitan Antonii that the prisoner continued to be monitored by the three soldiers guarding her, and as specified the convent received the allotted monies for her maintenance. The Metropolitan in Tobol'sk instructed head nun Tarsilla that once Pavlova was in her custody, she was to account for the cost associated with food and clothing the prisoner and monitor all aspects of her daily life. Throughout her imprisonment monk-priests from the Dalmatov Uspenskii Monastery were assigned to oversee and report on her compliance with religious instruction and penance for her serious spiritual crimes.

From February to July 1743, Anna Pavlova was held under guard at Rozhdestvenskii Convent in Tobol'sk then on 7 July 1743, three soldiers from the Tobol'sk garrison at the request of the Tobol'sk Ecclesiastical Court escorted her under guard to the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent.78 Pavlova did not act out immediately, but by February 1744, the head nun Tarsilla reported to Tobol'sk her “sinful and dangerous behavior.”79 Tarsilla speculated that Anna Pavlova was “not in her mind,” because of her excessive conduct; “the widow cursed and abused the other nuns, even went after several sisters with a knife and threatened to cut them.”80 Being faced with having two problematic, violent prisoners may have influenced Metropolitan Antonii's decision to relocate Iusupova to Tobol'sk in 1744 while the head nun Tarsilla and the sisters dealt with their new arrival, Anna Pavlova.

Unlike Iusupova, she was supervised not only by Tarsilla and other nuns on a daily basis, but the monk-priest Nektarii of the Dalmatov Uspenskii Monastery also visited her periodically. Pavlova was not uniformly rebellious to her overseers. On 27 February 1745, Nektarii had head nun Tarsilla, along with the nuns Maksimila, Pavla, Trifena, Evtropia, Afanasieva, Marina, and Sikhklitika, testify in writing about Pavolva's behavior during church services. They reported that “the widow Anna Alekseeva cries in her room, but when it is time for church services, she goes with other believers to pray, makes her prayers, then after church she humbly and meekly returns to her cell without incident.”81 When Nektarii, assigned as her spiritual father, visited her from January through December of 1747, he found her deferential.82 In the absence of female nuns, she listened to his exhortation and admonitions, and received favorable monthly reports; sometimes by father Feodovseev, the priest at the Nikolevskii Church at the convent, and at other times from Nektarii who had traveled from the Dalmatov men's monastery some forty-five kilometers away. Under canon law, it was irregular for a monastic priest to be the spiritual father for a female penitent, even more unusual to leave a monk or a priest alone with a woman. Yet when in the presence of Tarsilla and the other sisters, Pavlova was said to be threatening. Reports from Tarsilla said she was hostile to women who came near her at church services, and her intermittent crying and wailing upset others during the liturgy. In 1748 Tarsilla complained to the abbott that Pavlova only seemed to comply with her penance in the presence of priests and monks, but continued to defy correction in common spaces outside of her cell.83

Pavlova's behavior throughout her imprisonment was unpredictable, and her rebellious acts were mainly reserved for the public spaces when she attended church services and could be seen by lay worshipers as well as her jailors. Pavlova never fully acclimated to monastic life; after nearly ten years at the convent, Pavlova would become enraged, followed by long periods of silently refusing to do anything. In the midst of listening to the Divine Liturgy during the church holiday of St. Peter and Paul, “she entered the church calmly, then began shrieking and raged at a young boy performing a reading of Christ being taken into custody, and worst of all knocked the service book from his hands and ran back to the refectory.”84 Following this outburst Tarsilla complained that she refused to go to church, stopped praying, and did not work in the convent for close to a year.85 With no mention of Pavlova's punishment for throwing a holy book on the floor, she may have not only been stubborn and defiant but injured or recovering from a beating.

Pavlova outlived Abbess Tarsilla, who was replaced by Nimfodora sometime in 1758. Her antagonistic relationship with the new head nun and the sisters continued in contrast to the obedience she mustered for male clergy. Based on her age, health, and having spent over twenty years at the convent, monk-priests and other male clergy who served as her spiritual father sent requests to the Metropolitan in Tobol'sk asking for her to be tonsured as a nun, beginning in 1763.86 Unlike those that visited Pavlova monthly, Abbess Nimfodora and the other nuns that served as her jailors experienced Pavlova differently. Appealing to the Tobol'sk Metropolitan in 1765, Abbess Nimfodora and the sisters argued that Pavlova should not be tonsured because of her continuing disobedience. In September 1762, they still had to correct her behavior because she was “fearless” (bezstrashna) and then “unseemly” (bezchinna) when reprimanded.87 The nuns and novices told Nimfodora that Pavlova sought to set herself apart from them because of her wealth. Nimfodora told Metropolitan Pavl that her prisoner was more concerned with her money (bolee nadelas’ na svoi chervontsy i rublevyia manety), and occupied with throwing things around in her cell, than in her continuing her penance.88

The next decade of Pavlova's captivity progressed similarly, with months of obedience punctuated with cases of upheaval. In December 1771, she fell ill, and after twenty-eight years at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent, Anna Pavlova died on 6 March 1772.89 On her deathbed she was tonsured as a nun despite the objections of Nimfodora and the strict state regulations of monastic orders.90

Iusupova's and Pavlova's opposition to imprisonment placed these two women prominently in the archival record as defiant, dangerous persons who after several years of confinement were described by head nun Tarsilla, and her successor Nimfodora as “unruly” (neposlushnyi), “fearless,” and “unseemly” based on the nuns’ inability to cope with or change the oppositional behavior of their prisoners.91 Iusupova and Pavlova were not formally characterized as insane, for this would make them less responsible for their conduct prior to and during their incarceration.92

Additional Cases of Monastic Imprisonment: The Dolgorukii Family in Siberia

In 1730, the entire Dolgorukii family was caught up in the court intrigues of numerous male members of their extended family, including Peter II's favorite Ivan Dolgorukii. They attempted to have Peter II, while on his death bed, attest to his secret marriage to his sister Ekaterina at the Lefortovo Palace in Moscow, also that she was pregnant with the heir to the Russian throne, and that she be named regent/empress.93 This unsuccessful bid for the throne by the Dolgorukiis was more than enough for exile, but trying to garner additional support the family patriarch began to speak out against Empress Anna's ascension to the throne following the death of Peter II. A clear threat to Anna's legitimacy as empress, the entire Dolgorukii family was exiled to Siberia. Not long after the family arrived in Berezov, Ekaterina miscarried the child six months into her pregnancy.

In 1734, four years after the death of their parents, Prince Aleksei Dolgorukii and his wife, and siblings in Berezov were separated. Rumors of disloyalty and sedition of the Dolgorukii family had reached the capital, and in May 1738 the empress dispatched Captain Ushakov of the Preobrazhenkii Guards94 to the family following a report from a Berezov scribe at the military governor's office in Siberia. Once Ushakov concluded his investigation in Berezov, Ivan Dolgorukii— the eldest son and a close friend and favorite of Peter II—was taken into custody with his wife Natalia (neé Countess Sheremeteva)95 and their young children (Mikhail age seven, and their newborn son Dmitrii) along with five priests, a deacon, and twenty other supporters of the Dolgorukii family in Berezov. All were brought before the spiritual and secular courts in Tobol'sk, where they were interrogated, found guilty of sedition, and punished. The twenty Berezov townsfolk convicted as conspirators would never return to their small north Siberian community. The churchmen appeared before the Tobol'sk metropolitan Antonii (Stakhovskii) where a variety of corporal punishments were inflicted—they were whipped or beaten with the knout; some had their nostrils slit while others were defrocked. Several were sent to Ilimsk, north of Irkutsk, but most were exiled to hard labor in the salt mines of Okhotsk in the far northeast of Siberia. Appropriating the authority of the local governor's court in Tobol'sk, Captain Ushakov acted as judge over the twenty townspeople and the members of the Dolgorukii family. All were found guilty of treason in Tobol'sk, yet Prince Ivan Dologrukii was transported back to European Russia to be judged for a second time before a court in Novgorod, where he was also found guilty, broken on the wheel and beheaded in 1739. After the execution of her husband, Natalia took monastic orders as the nun Nektariia, but supposedly was able to delay her monastic life until her eldest son married in 1754. In 1758 her mentally ill younger son Dmitrii accompanied her to the Kiev convent where he died at age thirty-two, two years before her death in 1771. At the end of her life, Natalia Dolgorukaia candidly recorded her memoirs, including her experience in exile, and has been recognized as an exemplar of Russian female writers in the eighteenth century.96

It is uncertain whether Natalia, as the widow of Ivan Dolgorukii, freely chose to take monastic orders. It is evident that once his sisters were forcibly taken from Berezov they had little choice about entering monastic life. The fate of the women in the Dolgorukii clan at first glance seems dissimilar to that of Iusupova, but both violated imperial orders of isolation and seclusion while housed at their original locations—Iusupova in Tikhvin and the Dolgorukii family in Berezov. Yet their circumstances were similar to Baroness Solove'eva in that most members of the Dolgorukii family were rehabilitated after a few years’ confinement as prisoners at Siberian convents following their tonsure as nuns. Ekaterina, Elena, and Anna were to be tonsured as nuns and sent to three different convents in Siberia. Twenty-three-year-old Elena was sent to the Tomsk Uspenskii Convent in 1740; Anna, who may have been the youngest in the family but no date of birth is recorded, was sent to the Verkhotursk Pokrovskii Convent in 1740; and twenty-six-year-old Ekaterina to the Tomsk Khristorozhdestvenskii Convent in 1738. The three remaining sons were brutally beaten with the knout, had their tongues cut out, and were sent further east into Siberia. Twenty-four-year-old Aleksei was exiled to serve as a sailor on the Kamchatka Expedition in 1740; twenty-seven-year-old Nikolai and twenty-year-old Alexander were first sent to Tobol'sk in 1738, then to Vologda in 1739, and in 1740 to hard labor in Okhotsk, and then on to Kamchatka.97 By the decree of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna on 3 December 1741, the Dolgorukiis were released. The one exception was Princess Anna Dolgorukaia, who was imprisoned at the Vekhotur'e Convent until 1741, then was moved to the Tiumen Uspenskii Convent, where she died in 1758. Although most accounts from the histories of Ekaterina Dolgorukaia state that she was held at a convent in Tomsk until the family was rehabilitated at the end of 1741, another account claims she was moved in 1739 to the Goritskii Voskresekskii Convent on the White Sea until Empress Elizaveta Petrovna pardoned her in 1744, and then allowed her to marry a short time later in 1745.98 Her sister Elena also married soon after family members returned from exile, but inexplicably Anna was kept in exile in Siberia. She may have wished to continue her monastic life, or she could have been mentally unstable or too physically ill to survive the trip to rejoin her family. The possible existence of extant records of the Verkhotur'e, Tuimen, and Tomsk convents could provide further details of the conditions of confinement of the Dolgorukii and other women, and provide additional accounts of monastic imprisonment in Siberia.

Imprisonment of Local Laywomen and Female Monastics

Alongside elite women sent from European Russia, local laywomen and female monastics were also confined at Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent. Details of their imprisonment, which included instances of disobedience and outright rebellion against monastic rules, show their reluctant adjustment to the conditions of their confinement. In frontier environs, European Russian systems of punishment and confinement as religious penance were emulated and extended to Siberia, as the concerns for moral and political order were paramount in unsettled Asian territories. These common female prisoners and penitents served limited terms of imprisonment and then were released. In contrast to female prisoners from well-connected families, whose health and welfare demanded regular reports back to church and state officials in the capital, the local women charged with heresy or unspecified spiritual or moral offenses were of little interest outside the Tobol'sk Eparchy. Viewing these cases alongside those of elite women serves to illustrate the practical need for the eventual release and return of nonelite women to their respective to frontier communities. Russian imperial officials and the Tobol'sk Eparchy understood the correction of criminal and errant non-elite men and women in Siberia was essential for imperial rule, yet endless toil in monastic confinement was detrimental to political, economic and social stability as Russia's footprint in Asia grew in the eighteenth century.

Raskolnitsa Evdokiia Pavlova

The kolodnitsa Evdokiia Pavlova (no relation to Anna) was accused of adherence to the Schism. After receiving a report from the Siberian District Office, the Tobol'sk Ecclesiastical Court on 6 October 1742, ordered Pavlova held at the Tiumen Military Governor's Office to be handed over to the abbot of the Uspenskii Monastery for confinement, with a sentence of hard labor and only given bread and water until she decided to return to the Eastern Orthodox faith.99 When she arrived at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent on 17 October 1742, the nuns were to supervise her imprisonment, ensuring she could not escape, receive only the meager ration of food provided by the convent, admonish her for her schismatic ignorance, and confirm her return to the holy Church. The written confirmation of her custody was sent only at the end of January 1743. She was transported in a matter of eleven days from Tiumen to Dalmatov, but the official correspondence took over three months, possibly extending her sentence through bureaucratic means. In reports dated February 15 and 19 August 1743, the head nun Tarsilla and the sisters of the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent declared that the schismatic woman continued to behave badly during the singing of divine hymns. She obstinately sat in church but would not be admonished with words.100 Abbot Silvestre immediately reported all of this to the Tobol'sk metropolitan, but no further mention of her confinement, disobedience, or punishment remains in the archival record.

Five Defrocked Nuns

In 1734, the Holy Synod sent five defrocked nuns to the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent. The elderly nun Anna, along with the nuns Katerina Larionova, Ovdot'ia Mikhailova, Oksin'ia Yakovleva, Okulinna Ivanova were “committed to hard labor for the rest of their lives for heretical assemblage and impious deeds.”101 After some eight years of imprisonment, they were released in 1742, but not without incident. On 7 May 1742, addressing an order issued by Her Imperial Highness, and writing under the authority of the Tolbol'sk Metropolitan the abbot of the Znamenskii Monastery and two archpriests from the Sofia-Uspenskii Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tobol'sk wrote to Abbot Silvestr at Dalmatov complaining that head nun Tarsilla at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent continued to hold the five nuns in custody.

Previously on 27 March 1741, orders sent from the Eparchial Office confirmed their belief in the pious holy Greco-Russian Church by public confession and [they] acknowledged to all their schismatic heresy [Old Belief] and that they had accepted false knowledge. By order of the holy church, the damned are to glorify God and go and pray and before their spiritual fathers take the sacrament of confession while still having their legs chained. These unfrocked nuns are in chains although ordered to remove them, because Abbess Tarsilla says they are dangerous.102

The Tobol'sk churchmen told Abbot Silvestr that the metropolitan acknowledged the reports of Abbess Tarsilla when he received them on February 10, but insisted over a year previously he had given written instruction that the defrocked nuns were to be set free from their chains and returned to their monastic status immediately. A letter from 28 August 1742, written by Nektarii and Kornilii, two monk-priests from Abbot Silvestr's monastery, also urged the release of the five nuns from monastic imprisonment; testifying that they have heard the nuns’ confessions, administered the Eucharist, and could confirm that they no longer hold their schismatic beliefs.103 Finally, over a year after acknowledging their heresy and returning to the Greco-Russian belief, on 25 September 1742, the Abbot Silvestr told the Tobol'sk metropolitan that the five women held as schismatics had been freed and returned to their monastic orders.104

The long delay in their release may have been related to finding places for the rehabilitated nuns in other monasteries. Abbess Tarsilla probably had every right to fear for her safety and that of the other nun-jailors who had overseen their imprisonment and enforced the sentence of hard labor over the past eight years. No further record of the five nuns exists, but on the heels of their release the Dalmatov Vvedenski Convent received an order from the Tobol'sk Metropolitan to release all “female monastics being held under guard for serious offenses after 1734 and 1735.”105 The reason given was Abbot Silvestr's inability to follow orders issued by Her Imperial Highness and the Tobol'sk Eparchy, concerning the decree freeing the five imprisoned nuns. The metropolitan had limited influence to enforce hierarchical standards, and constrain irregular conduct at the remote monastery and convent at Dalmatov.

Runaway Wife Agafia Mikhailova

The runaway wife Agafia Mikhailova was sentenced to two years of living at a convent as penance for fleeing her husband. But after escaping the convent she was found living on the grounds of the neighboring men's monastery some months later with no additional time added to her penance.106

As subordinates to the Tobol'sk Metropolitan, Abbess Tarsilla and Abbot Silvestr were charged with enforcing discipline on their prisoners. Ironically, compliance with orders and submitting to the correction of their superiors in Tobol'sk was strangely absent among a typically rigid church hierarchical structure. Opting for their own local authority over that of the church and state, monastic officials found themselves in a uniquely powerful position of fulfilling an obligatory, but physically and emotionally damaging task of empire—the control and surveillance of undesirable individuals and rebellious social forces. Examining cases concerning the imprisonment of women—their handling, confinement, and release are instructive precisely because they tested the boundaries of acceptable conduct between ecclesiastic bodies and political hierarchies across the geographical space of the center, periphery, and the fringes of the periphery at the Dolmatov Vvedenskii Convent. If women, let alone common women, were not freed in a timely manner or ever released, who would ever find out? Who would get involved in their case? Only when powerful imperial officials became involved, as in the case of Solov'eva, did monastic jailors act expeditiously. The ones with knowledge were the ones in control of knowledge, operating powerful institutions—jailors, judges, churchmen, politicians—all men except for the abbess and the sacrosanct nuns asserting their influence.

In an odd twist, the imprisonment of women in monastic spaces actually sanctioned the formal power of women—at least those not kept behind bars, half-starved, and whose legs were not in chains. The female jailors were bound by other responsibilities, and ultimately, their own self-preservation. Yet, without women prisoners to protect, scrutinize, and correct, the authority of monastic women remained grounded in the spiritual, informal, and domestic economy of the convent. Acting as agents of empire expanded their limited reach into the social and political dominion of men.


In the cases Iusupova, Pavlova, and Solov'eva, the Ministry of Secret Affairs found them guilty of serious offenses and sentenced them to spend the rest of their days in Siberia as monastic prisoners. Why did these elite women suffer harsh punishment and distant exile for aberrant behavior or political duplicity committed by or connected to male members of their immediate family? In the above cases, these elite women did not have husbands; Pavlova and Solov'eva were widowed, and Iusupova and the Dolgorukii women were unmarried. Marital status and victimization by government officials do not sufficiently explain why these women served as surrogates for political and moral failings of their male family members. This is a mischaracterization, as Russian women did have both public and private roles, as the cases presented above illustrate. Their crimes were against the ruling sovereign or the correct practice of Orthodoxy, thereby political in nature and not private offenses. Applying the reasoning of some foreign observers, the involvement of the Dolgorukii women, Iusupova, Pavlova, and Solov'eva in provincial or court life, and in political affairs of their households also left them tainted, and open to legal and moral retribution for encroachment into the masculine world.

But how did their own society possibly view the crimes of these elite women? Were women legally or morally responsible for the behavior of men with close familial ties or intimate relationships? If not pardoned by the ruling monarch, the only option left for the nobility was either death or exile. The noble and gentry classes had other responsibilities—obligations to the sovereign, the maintenance of their estates, and military/civil service, rather than keeping their own in check. Whereas elite men formally filled government offices, carried out military service, legally controlled their estates, elite women were perhaps to a degree superfluous within their rank, or at least expendable. This may partially explain the three cases of monastic imprisonment in place of male relatives.

The discrepancy in the sentencing of elite and common women also indicates that (widowed or unmarried) elite women were also expendable, as they could be sent to distant Siberia, never to be heard of again, while women from peasant, merchant, and monastic communities were essential to the ordered functioning of daily life. This is illustrated in the cases of common women held at the Dalmatov Vvedenskii Convent who served relatively short sentences, and were returned to their sacred or secular communities. Paradoxically, the three elite noblewomen—Iusupova, Pavlova, and Solov'eva—as well as the women of the Dolgorukii family were to emulate and represent the Europeanization of Russia in the capital cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and provincial centers such as Smolensk. However, in one respect, the removal of elite women from their own ranks of wealth, education, and refinement showed that they were expendable members of the privileged class. Yet they were considered more dangerous than peasant women, as their alleged crimes were in every case directed against the empire.

The historical record shows a different picture of female behavior and gender performance of moral rectitude and dependence on men. We find Russian women across class and geographic boundaries who rarely served as moral superiors, and were decidedly independent actors on their own behalf, and on behalf of their families. In an attempt to reframe Iusupova's ordeal, G. S. Plotnikov's stylized account relates the pious death of Iusupova as a model for female monastics “revolting from the world.”107 The irony of this nineteenth-century account of Iusupova's death should not be lost on our recollection of her life as a monastic prisoner. Her asceticism, as well as her suffering, was imposed forcefully on her by others, and not a sign of pious devotion; yet the defiant Iusupova might be pleased that near her common grave women and girls would actually be “revolting from the world” of the convent. The extraordinary interest in dramatized accounts of historians, artists, and novelists that has continued for over three centuries after Iusupova's death, also speaks to the lasting intrigue of her storied life.108 However, Iusupova's documented experience at the Siberian convent has not been part of that narrative.

The cases of the monastic imprisonment of Iusupova, Pavlova, Solov'eva, and the Dolgorukiis do not serve only as cautionary tales of aberrant female behavior and examples of arbitrary rule. Rather they also illustrate how these women experienced transitional moral and legal expectations resulting in their imprisonment in a Siberian convent and thereby provide us with another view of elite women in eighteenth-century Russia.

Several cases of monastic imprisonment in the mid- to late-eighteenth century unexpectedly reveal that an inverted social structure among female prisoners is grounded in pragmatism, shared identities, and a disregard for traditional social hierarchy in spaces distant from the Russian heartland. Ultimately these cases reveal that monastic prisons were used as a political resource and an important marker of female monastic identity, which surpassed religious vocation. The relationship between the state and female monastics in Siberia at first glance does depict unequal distribution of power with female monastics desperately seeking to do the state's bidding to secure financial support. Yet their bond with the state and the Tobol'sk Eparchy was tacit and reciprocal in a location where gender and imperial identity converged within the intimate spaces of a prison. Primarily concerned with power, the Orthodox Church and Russian state leveraged the authority and effectiveness of women on the Siberian frontier to reinforce their own tenuous hold on power, while religious and laywomen gained authority by acting as imperial agents in imperial spaces. Monastic imprisonment complicates our understanding of imperial interaction, the imagined role of female monastics, and the realities elite women in eighteenth-century Russia faced on the Asian frontiers of Siberia.



Valerie Kivelson, Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013), military prisons, 40, 44, 48–49, 98; local or manorial prisons 139, 224, 240, 283.


Eve Levin, “Prison or Asylum: The Involuntary Commitment of the Insane to Monasteries in Early Modern Russia,” in Seeing Muscovy Anew: Politics—Institutions—Culture, ed. Michael S. Flier, Valerie A. Kivelson, Erika Monahan, Daniel Rowland (Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 2017), 245–62.


RGADA, F. 7, op. 1, d. 449, ch. 1–3, Razriad VII. Preobrazhenskii prikaz, Tainaia kantselariia i tainaia ekspeditsiia—(kollektsiia) Gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Rossiiskoi imperii (1712–1762); GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op.1, d. 9, and d. 46, Tobol'skaia Dukhovnaia Konsistoriia, g. Tobol'sk Tobol'skoi Gubernii (1721–1922 gg.); GAKO (SH), Dalmatovskii Uspenskii monastyr’, 1644–1920, F. 224, op.1.


A. I. Sulotskii, “Kniazhna Ekaterina Alekseevna Dolgorukaia v ssylke v Berezove i monashestve v Tomske,” Pribavleniia k Irkutskie Eparkhal'nye Vedomosti, 1872, no. 49, 645–54 and 50, 659–71; also published in Russkii Vestnik, 1880, no. 7, 5–19; R. Ignat'ev, “Iz zhizni gosudaryni-nevesty kniazhny E. A. Dolgorukovoi,” Russkii arkhiv, vol. 1, col. 38–46, 1866.


Sulotskii, “Kniazhna Ekaterina Alekseevna Dolgorukaia,” no. 50, 661.


Evgenii Anisimov, Dyba i Knut: Politicheskii sysk i Russkoe Obshchestvo v XVIII veke (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 1999), 680–81.


Ibid.; Anisimov references K. G. Manshtein, Zapiski o Rossii, 1727–1744 (St. Petersburg, 1875).


Anisimov, Dyba i Knut, 717–18.


Alison K. Smith, “Movement and the Transformation of Siberia in the Eighteenth Century,” Sibirica 16, no. 2 (2017): 44–67; Andrew A. Gentes, Exile to Siberia, 1590–1822 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); Daniel Beer, The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile under the Tsars (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017).


Smith, “Movement,” 46.


Mark Bassin, “Inventing Siberia: Visions of the Russian East in the Early Nineteenth Century,” American Historical Review 96, no. 3 (1991): 767, 770.


Gentes, Exile to Siberia; Gentes's account of Siberian exile prior to 1800 reflects nineteenth-century conceptions of women on the Siberian frontier rather than the complex realities where women and men adapted to the conditions of exile in Siberia.


Judith Vowles, “Marriage à la russe,” in Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture, ed. Jane T. Costlow, Stephanie Sandler, and Judith Vowles (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993), 56.


Charles Francois-Philibert Masson, The Secret Memoirs of the Court of St. Petersburg (London, 1805), 266–67.


Masson, The Secret Memoirs, 266–67; Catherine Wilmot and Martha Wilmot, The Russian Journals (London: Macmillan, 1934), 217; Jane Vigor, Letters from a lady, who resided some years in Russia, to her friend in England, 2nd ed. (London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1777).


Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii (PSZ), Series 1, 45 vols. (St. Petersburg: Tipografiia II otdeleniia sobstvennoi ego Imperatorskago Velichestva Kantseliarii, 1830), T. I, Ul. X, 147, 271; Ul. XX, 59, 112; Ul. XXI, 9, 10, 16, 44, 47, 55; no. 441, 8, 26, 41, 58, 112.


PSZ, T. I, no. 442, 800–802.


Drevnerusskie kniazheskie ustavy XI–XV vv., ed. Ia. N. Shchapov (Moscow: Nauka, 1976), 94. Iaroslav built on Vladimir's Statute to include an index of persons within the church jurisdiction, and outlined rules of family law, and sanctions against moral violation under church jurisdiction. For the text of Iaroslav's Statute directing women to be housed in convents for sexual crimes committed by them or against them, see Daniel Kaiser's translation at


Polnoe sobranie postanovlenii i rasporazhenii po vedomstvu pravoslavnago ispovedaniia Rossiiskoi imperii, T. 1: 1721 (St. Petersburg: Sinodal'naia tipografiia, 1872), no. 201, 253; PSZ, T. VI, no. 3824, 433–44.


PSZ, T. IX, no. 6803, 575.


Nancy Kollmann, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 37.


George G. Weickhardt, “Muscovite Law on Monasteries.” Russian History 39, no. 1/2 (2012): 13–41.


“Po donosheniiu Kantseliarii Tainykh Rossiikikh Delo po strizhenii v monashestvo soderzhashchesia v odnoi nekotoroi devitsy i otsylke eia v dal'nii devichii monastyr’,”Opisanie Dokumentov i Del, Khraniashchikhsia v Arkhive Sviatsheshago Pravitel'stvuiushago Sinoda, tom XV (1735) (St. Petersburg: Sinodal'naia tipografiia, 1907), 193–94.; A. A. Polovtsov, Russkii biograficheskii slovar’: v. 25 (Moscow, 1896–1918): T. 31, 345; D. L. Mordovtsev, Russkie zhenshchiny novago vremeni. Biograficheskie ocherki iz russkoi istorii. Zhenshchiny pervoi poloviny XVIII veka (St. Petersburg: Tip. O. I. Bakst, 1874), 299–319; G. S. Plotnikov, “Ssylochnye v Dalmatovskom monastyri, I. Kniazhina Paraskeva Iusupova,” Permskie eparkhal'nye vedomosti, no. 15 (otdel neofitsial'nyi), 1869, 199–207.


The inclusion of elite women in the intellectual and literary salons in Russia began in the eighteenth century as an outgrowth of Peter I's desire to reform or “modernize” Russian elite society to mirror the salon culture of Western Europe.


Horace Dewey, “Suretyship and Collective responsibility in pre-Petrine Russia,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Neue Folge 8, no. 3 (September 1970): 337–54.


RGADA, F. 7, op. 1, d. 449, ch. 1, l. 91, o kniazhniiu Praskov'e Iusupovoi soslannoi v ssylky za namerenie privorozhit’ k sebe imperatritsu Annu, govorivshei o pridvornykh sodestiiakh i, nakonets, byvshei v snosheniiakh v Sibiri s gosudarst. pristupnikom St. Sovet. Temiriazevym, 1735–63.


RGADA, F. 7, op. 1, d. 449, ch.1, ll. 53–105.


Ibid., ll. 53–105.


Polovtsov, Russkii biograficheskii slovar’, 345.


RGADA, F. 7, op. 1, d. 449, ch.1, l. 3.




The original 138-page document from the Tobol'sk Ecclesiastical Court reads, “A case concerning the former Princess Praskov'e IIusupova (now called Prokla), sent to the Verkhotur'e monastery for high crimes,” an indication that she was housed there for two years until 1737 when orders were given to the head nun Tarsilla about her terms of imprisonment.


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 9, Delo o byvshei kniazhne Praskov'e Iusupovoi, soslannoi v Verkhotyrskii monstyr’ za vazhnoe prestuplenie i narechennoi v monastyri Prokloi, 1737, ll. 11–14.


Plotnikov, “Ssylochnye v Dalmatovskom monastyri,” 201–2, and GBTO GA (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 9, l. 39 lists the women who kept guard over her in the context of the investigation regarding her possession of poison (sulema).


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 9, ll. 11–12




Ibid., l. 46.


Ibid., l. 15.


Ibid., l. 6.


Ibid., l. 17.


Ibid., l. 20; GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 266, ll. 1–3, Doneshenie ot nastoiatelia monastyria mitropolitu v Tobol'sk o soderzhanii manakhini Iusupovoi, 1742–1743.


Ibid., ll. 21–25.


Ibid., l. 21 and l. 24


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 266, l. 4.


PSZ, T. XI, no. 8481, 546–49.


PSZ, T. XI, no. 8817, 945–46 (November 1743); no. 8263, 277–80 (October 1742).


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 9, ll. 49–50.


Ibid., ll. 57–58.


These releases are separate from the cases of ordinary women mentioned later in the article, but may have been a consequence of the 1742 directives issued by the Tobol'sk Eparchy to the Dalmatov monastery and convent to release all monastic prisoner at the convent who were confined in the years 1734 and 1735.


The document does not name the other prisoners to be released, but the date does coincide with the release of five defrocked nun is in 1743.


Gerhard Frederick Müller notes in Opisanie Sibirskikh Narodov, ch. 2, gl. 25 “Ob okhote,” l. 22, that “Russians use sulema (Mercurius sublimatus) in the forest for [poisoning] foxes.” In his notes sulema is described as—“Sulema-khlorid rtuti (Mercurius sublimatus), bestsvetnoe kristallicheskoe veshchestvo, iad.” (Sulema-chloride mercury [Mercury sublimates], a colorless crystalline substance; poison).


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op.1, d. 9, ll. 5–6.


Plotnikov, “Ssylochnye v Dalmatovskom monastyri,” 205; GBTO GA (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 9, ll. 5–6.


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 9, ll. 38–38 ob.—testimony as taken down during actual interrogation; l. 41—transcribed testimony in letter to Metropolitan Antonii. Note: during the interrogation it was only Iusupova that signed her name to the testimony, while the other monastics had priests and deacons sign for them.


Ibid., l. 39.


Ibid., ll. 7–8.


RGADA document on the exile and imprisonment of State Counselor Ivan Temiriazev at Dalmatov men's monastery mention Iusupova, Temiriazev was associated with Andrei Osterman, Count Minikh, and Mikhail Golovkin, exiled after Empress Elizabeth successful coup d'état on 6 December 1741.


Plotnikov, “Ssylochnye v Dalmatovskom monastyri,” 207.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 555, Kniga ucheta monakhov i monashek v muzhskom i zhenskom monastyriakh (1757), ll. 5–9. The 1758 Dalmatov monastery registers are missing from the Kurgan Oblast State Archive at Shadrinsk.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 609, Kniga ucheta monakhov, monashek, i postrizhenie v monakhi (1759), ll. 55–60.


Plotnikov, “Ssylochnye v Dalmatovskom monastyri,” 207.


I. V. Kurukin, Anna Ioannovna (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 2014), 374. The author cites information gathered from the investigative records of the Preobrazhenskii Prikaz and the Ministry of Secret Affairs. RGADA, F. 7, op. 1, d. 449, l. 3, 23, 109, and 121.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 232, Perepiska s Tobol'skim mitropolitom o zhenshchinakh kolodnikakh Vvedenskogo monastyria, 1741, ll. 1–2.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 245, ll. 5–11.


Ibid., l. 8.


Ibid., l. 6.


The imperial order and correspondence to free Solov'eva in December 1741–January 1742, see GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 245, ll. 5–11.


Polovtsov, Russkii biograficheskii slovar’, 558.


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 46, see l. 7—“po izvestnomu vazhnomu dukhovnomu delu.


Polnoe sobranie postanovlenii i rasporiazhenii po vedomostvu pravoslavnago ispovedaniia Rossiiskoi Imperii, Tsarstovanie Gosudaryni Impreatritsy Elizavety Petrovny, tom I (1741–43) (St. Petersburg: Synodal'naia Tip., 1899), no. 176, 202–3 and no. 294, 296–7.


A. A. Polovtsov, Russkie biograficheskii slovar’, tom. 2—Aleksinskii—Bestuzhev-Riumin (St. Petersburg: tip. Glavnogo Upravleniia Udelov, 1900), 558; F. V. Blagovidov, Ober-prokurory Sviateshego Sinoda v XVIII i pervoi polovine XIX v. (Kazan: Tipo-litografiia Imperatorskago Universiteta, 1904), 8–125; A. V. Popov, Sud i nakazaniia za prestupleniia protiv very i nravstvennosti po russkomu pravu, (Kazan: tipo-litografiia Imperatorskago Universiteta, 1904), 419. The most scurrilous mention of Baskakov and his daughter is found in a narrative about legal judgments, and the punishment of the faithful for immoral crimes against Orthodox belief and Russian law


F. V. Blagovidov, Ober-prokurory Sviateshego Sinoda v XVIII i pervoi polovine XIX v. (Kazan: Tipo-litografiia Imperatorskago Universiteta, 1904), 8–125.


GATO (Tobol'sk), f. I156, op.1, d. 46, l. 3


Ibid., l. 24.


Ibid., ll. 1–2. The first five pages detail their route to Siberia.


Ibid., ll. 3–4


Ibid., ll. 7–8.


Ibid., l. 25.


Ibid., l. 33


Ibid., l. 32.


Ibid., l. 47.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 317, Dnvenik ieromonakha Nektariia o povedenii kolodnitsy Anna Alekseevny, 1747, ll. 1–4.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 432, Perepiska s Tobol'skoi konsistoriei o kolodnikakh, 1752, ll. 5–6.


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 46, ll. 51–52. (Incident on 29 June 1752.)


Ibid., l. 51.


Ibid., ll. 79–80.


Ibid., l. 77.




Ibid., ll. 84–87.


Ibid., l. 83.


GATO (Tobol'sk), F. I156, op. 1, d. 46, Delo o prislyke soderzhashcheisia pri kontore Sviateishego Pravitel'stvuiushchego Sinoda pod karaulom vdove Anne Pavlovoi Alekseevoi docheri, 1743, l. 77; GASH, F. 224, op. 1, d. 266, Doneshenie ot nastoiatelia monastyria mitropolitu v Tobol'sk o soderzhanii manakhini Iusupovoi, 1742–43, l. 4


Muscovite law did not view the imprisonment of those deemed insane to be punishment, rather a step in spiritual and bodily healing. See Levin, “Prison or Asylum.”


Sulotskii, “Kniazhna Ekaterina Alekseevna Dolgorukaia,”


The source may be referring to Ushakov, the head of the Ministry of Secret Affairs, but in 1738 Ushakov's rank was that of a general.


Countess Sheremeteva was the daughter of Field Marshall Boris Sheremetev and Anna Saltikova of the powerful seventeenth-century Naryshkin clan; and is regarded as well-educated accomplished female author in the late eighteenth century, known for the unpretentious memoirs of her life from her orphaned youth to exile, then life as a nun. She compiled her story as Nektariia, the aged ascetic nun of the great schema at the Kiev convent prior to her death in 1771.


D. S. Mirsky, “Eighteenth-Century Prose,” in A History of Russian Literature from Its Beginnings to 1900, ed. Francis J. White Field (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999), 60. Mirsky's survey singles out Dolgorukia's memoir for its “beautiful and undefiled Russian,” but does not list the title.


Sulotskii, “Kniazhna Ekaterina Alekseevna Dolgorukaia,”


R. Ignat'ev, “Iz zhizni gosudaryni-nevesty kniazhny E. A. Dolgorukkovoi,” Russkii arkhiv, vol. 1, col. 38–46, 1866, 42.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 245, Perepiska s Tobol'skoi arkhiereiskoi kantseliariei o zhenshchinakh kolodnikakh, 1745, l. 1.


Ibid., l. 3.


Ibid., l. 12.


Ibid., l. 11.


Ibid., l. 12.


Ibid., l. 13.


Ibid., l. 14.


GAKO (SH), F. 224, op. 1, d. 304, Delo o soderzhanii kolodnitsy Prokla (kniazhinie Paraskov'i Iusupovoi), 1746, ll. 7–11.


Plotnikov, “Ssylochnye v Dalmatovskom monastyri,” 208.


Polovtsov, Russkii biograficheskii slovar’, T. 31, 345; Mordovtsev, Russkie zhenshchiny novago vremeni, 299–319; Valentin Pikul’, Slovo i delo: Roman-khronika vremen Anny Ioannovny. Kniga 1 i 2 (Moscow: Veche, 2015). Written sometime between 1961 and 1971, and originally published in 1974–75; N. V. Nevrev, 1735. Princess Praskov'ia Grigor'evna Iusupova before taking the veil (Moscow: Tret'iakov Gallery, 1886).

Contributor Notes

Dr. Gwyn Bourlakov is a historian of early modern Russia with particular interest in Russian Orthodoxy, women history, and imperial expansion on the Siberian Frontier of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. E-mail:; ORCID: