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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pugachev, Emel'yan Ivanovich

PUGACHEV, EMEL’YAN IVANOVICH (? 1741-1775), Russian pretender, the date of whose birth is uncertain, was the son of a small Cossack landowner. He married a Cossack girl Sofia Nedyuzheva, in 1758, and the same year was sent with his fellow Cossacks to Prussia, under the lead of Count Zachary Chernuishev. In the first Turkish War (1769-74) of Catherine II. Pugachev, now a Cossack ensign, served under Count Peter Panin and was present at the siege of Bender. Invalided home, he led for the next few years a wandering life; was more than once arrested and imprisoned as a deserter; and finally, after frequenting the monasteries of the “ Old Believers, ” who exercised considerable influence over him, suddenly proclaimed himself (1773) to be Peter III. The story of Pugachev's strong resemblance to the murdered emperor is a later legend. Pugachev dubbed himself Peter III. the better to attract to his standard all those (and they were many) who attributed their misery to the government of Catherine II., for Peter III. was generally remembered as the determined opponent of Catherine. As a matter of fact Pugachev and his followers were hostile to every form of settled government. The one thought of the destitute thousands who joined the new Peter was to sweep away utterly the intolerably oppressive upper-classes. Pugachev's story was that he and his principal adherents had escaped from the clutches of Catherine, and were resolved to redress the grievances of the people, give absolute liberty to the Cossacks, and put Catherine herself away in a monastery. He held a sort of mimic court at which one Cossack impersonated Nikita Panin, another Zachary Chernuishev, and so on. The Russian government at first made light of the rising. At the beginning of October 177 3 it was simply regarded as a nuisance, and 500 roubles was considered a sufficient reward for the head of the troublesome Cossack. At the end of November 28,000 roubles were promised to whomsoever should bring him in alive or dead. Even then, however, Catherine, in her correspondence with Voltaire, affected to treat “ Pajaire du Marquis de Pugachev ”'-as a. mere joke, but by the beginning of 1774 the joke had developed into a very serious danger. All the forts on the Volga and Ural were now in the hands of the rebels; the Bashkirs had joined them; and the governor of Moscow reported great restlessness among the population of central Russia. Shortly afterwards Pugachev captured Kazan, reduced most of the churches and monasteries there to ashes, and massacred all who refused to join him. General Peter Panin, the conqueror of Bender, was thereupon sent against the rebels with a large army, but difficulty of transport, lack of discipline, and the gross insubordination of his illpaid soldiers paralysed all his efiorts for months, while the innumerable and ubiquitous bands of Pugachev were victorious in nearly every engagement. Not till August 1774 did General Mikhelson inflict a crushing defeat upon the rebels near Tsaritsyn, when they lost ten thousand in killed and prisoners. Panin's savage reprisals, after the capture of Penza, completed their discomfiture. Pugachev was delivered up by his own Cossacks on attempting to fly to the Urals (Sept. 14), and was executed at Moscow on the 11th of January 1775.

See N. Dubrovin, Pugachev and his Associates (Rus.; Petersburg, 1884) 7 Catherine II., Political Correspondence (Rus. Fr. Ger.; Petersburg, 1885, &c.); S. I. Gnyedich, Emilian Pugachev (Rus.; Petersburg, 1902). (R. NFB.)