First Russian trading post in Arctic appeared in 16th century

First Russian trading post in Arctic appeared in 16th century

August 10, 2023

In 1572, at the confluence of the Taz river and its tributary Mangazeika, a small river port and a prison for collecting yasak - a valuable fur - was built.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In ancient Rus (as Russia used to be called), fur was the equivalent of money. Fur goods were used to pay salaries, furs were exported abroad.

In 1600, tsar Boris Godunov sent a hundred archers who laid a wooden prison. They called it Mangazeya – after the name of the river on which they built it. According to various versions, the name arose from the name of the Samoyed prince Makazei or from the Samoyed Molgonzei tribe.

For several decades, Mangazeya became the trading capital of Western Siberia. A Kremlin was erected in the city of four walls and five square towers, a voivodeship courtyard, a meeting house (voivode’s office), a cathedral church, the sovereign’s granaries and a prison.

The settlement housed a guest yard, customs, merchant houses, three churches, a chapel, craft workshops and a cemetery. There were also bakeries, pubs and taverns.

On four streets of the city, according to various estimates, there were about 200 residential buildings. In total, there were up to 500 buildings in Mangazeya. The population reached one and a half thousand inhabitants. Mangazeya was called golden-boiling – so much gold and goods circulated here. Every year up to 2000 merchants came to the city.

The fateful discovery for the Mangazeya’s future was made by Kondraty Kurochkin. Until the 17th century, it was believed that it was impossible to enter the Arctic sea along the Yenisey river, since at the mouth this river was too shallow for large ships.

However, Russian explorers empirically found out that along the Yenisey “it’s possible to walk and the river is pleasing – pine forests and black forest, and there are plowed places, all kinds of fish in that river. The Yenisey will fall into the sea bay – the sea bay of the Arctic sea, which the Germans go from their own lands by ships to Arhangelsk”.

The development of Taimyr came from Mangazeya. In 1610, the navigator Kondraty Kurochkin, with a team from Turuhansk, set off on ships through Mangazeya to the Arctic sea – to look for a sea route to the Pyasina river. Along that path, the Mangazeyans started swimming along the Pyasina and collect yasak from the Samoyeds.

In 1619, tsar Mikhail Romanov banned navigation by the Mangazeya sea course under pain of death. Officially, the Russian state was afraid of the penetration of foreign merchant and military ships into Western Siberia. That led to the economic decline of the city. After another fire, the city could not recover, and Mangazeya disappeared. New Mangazeya was founded – the current Turuhansk.

In the History Spot’s photo project, we told about the fight against staff turnover in Norilsk in the 1930s.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

August 10, 2023

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