Imperial Russia Ivanovo

Ivanovo: Property

When Kirill Ermolaevich Gandurin died in May 1820, he left behind a wife, a daughter, and a long list of property. A one-story stone house, a list of sixty four icons, a second list of twenty seven additional icons, two clocks, silver, jewelry, seven books, all on religious topics. And, of course, extensive lists of clothing and cloth. The last is the least surprising, because Gandurin was not a nobleman, nor was he a merchant. He was wealthy—no one looking at the long list of property could doubt that—but he was wealthy in a most unusual context. He was one of the wealthy serf industrialists of the village of Ivanovo, the major textile center of early-nineteenth-century Russia.

Because Gandurin was a serf, the settlement of his property was overseen by the Ivanovo estate administration, which represented the interests of the village’s owner, Count Dmitrii Nikolaevich Sheremetev. It operated according to strict regulation—a set of domovye postanovleniia that had established regular practices regarding serf property. As a result of that regulation, “Ivanovo represented its own little self-contained state [gosudarstvo] within Russia” as the former serf Ia. P. Garelin put it in his history of the village (and eventually town).