Bashkir rebellion of 1735–1740

The Bashkir rebellion of 1735–1740 refers to a rebellion which was initiated by the Bashkirs against the Russian Empire. The rebellion was initiated in 1735, but was put down by Russian and pro-Russian Bashkir troops in 1740 after a series of heavy clashes.

Bashkir rebellion
DateJuly 1735 – 1740
Result Russian victory; rebellion crushed; establishment of Orenburg; Russian conquest of Central Asia delayed

 Russian Empire

Bashkir rebels
Commanders and leaders
Russian Empire Ivan Kirillov Karasakal
various other leaders
Russia 2,500 troops initially (in July 1735) unknown
82,000 (claimed)
Casualties and losses
Russia unknown Russian estimates:
16,893 killed
3,236 captured


From at least the time of Peter the Great, there had been talk of Russian pushing southeast toward Persia and India. Ivan Kirillov, a Russian commander, drew up a plan to build a fort to be called Orenburg at Orsk at the confluence of the Or River and the Ural River southeast of the Urals where the Bashkir, Kalmyk and Kazakh lands join. Construction was started at Orsk in 1735, but by 1743 'Orenburg' was moved about 250 km west to its present location. The next planned step was to build a fort on the Aral Sea. This would involve crossing the Bashkir country and then the lands of the Kazakh Lesser Horde, some of whom had recently offered a nominal submission. However, a significant portion of the Bashkir population resented this plan.


Kirillov's plan was approved on May 1, 1734 and he was placed in command. He was warned that this would provoke a Bashkir rebellion, but the warnings were ignored. He left Ufa with 2,500 men in 1735 and fighting started on the first of July. The war consisted of many small raids and complex troop movements, so it cannot be easily summarized. For example: In the spring of 1736, Kirillov burned 200 Bashkir villages, killed 700 rebels in battle and executed 158. An expedition of 773 men left Orenburg in November and lost 500 from cold and hunger. During the time, the Bashkir rebels planned to massacre the sleeping Russians at Seiantusa. The ambush failed. In retaliation, one thousand villagers, including women and children, were put to the sword and another 500 driven into a storehouse and burned to death. Raiding parties then went out and burned about 50 villages and killed another 2,000. Eight thousand Bashkirs attacked a Russian camp and killed 158, losing 40 killed and three prisoners who were promptly hanged. Bashkir rebels also attacked Bashkirs loyal to Russia. Leaders who submitted were sometimes fined one horse per household and sometimes hanged.

Bashkirs fought on both sides, with Bashkirs constituting 40% of Russian troops in 1740. Numerous leaders rose and fell. The oddest was Karasakal or Blackbeard who pretended to have 82,000 men on the Aral Sea and had his followers proclaim him 'Khan of Bashkiria'. His nose had been partly cut off and he had only one ear. Such mutilations are standard Imperial punishments. The Kazakhs of the Little Horde intervened on the Russian side, then switched to the Bashkirs and then withdrew. Kirillov died of disease during the war and there were several changes of commander. All this was at the time of Empress Anna of Russia and the Russo-Turkish War (1735–1739). The rebellion was finally put down in 1740.


Although the history of the Bashkir rebellion cannot be easily summarized, its results can be:

  • Russian imperial goal of expansion into Central Asia was delayed due to the Bashkir problem.
  • Bashkiria was pacified in 1740.
  • Orenburg was established.
  • The southern side of Bashkiria was fenced off by the Orenburg Line of forts. It ran from Samara on the Volga east up the Samara River to its headwaters, crossed to the middle Ural River and followed it east and then north on the east side of the Urals and went east down the Uy River to Ust-Uisk on the Tobol River where it connected to the ill-defined 'Siberian Line' along the forest-steppe boundary.
  • In 1740 a report was made of Bashkir losses during the rebellion. According to the report, 16,893 Bashkir rebels were killed, 3,236 were captured and forcibly conscripted (they were sent to Baltic regiments and fleet), and a further 8,382 women and children were distributed (presumably as serfs), putting the total Bashkir losses at 28,511. Moreover, 12,283 horses, 6,076 cattle and sheep and 9,828 rubles were extracted from the rebellious Bashkirs as fines. Furthermore, 696 Bashkir villages were destroyed. As this was compiled from army reports, it excludes losses from irregular raiding, hunger, disease and cold. All this was from an estimated Bashkir population of 100,000.

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