Black Monks and White Gold The Solovetskii Monastery's Prosperous Salt Trade during the Time of Troubles of the Early Seventeenth Century

in Russian History
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Abstract

This article represents a study of extant business records of the Vologda podvor'e of the Solovotskii Monastery from the Time of Troubles (1598-1613). The archival records show that the monastery continued to take in impressive sums from its salt trade during this period of crisis, and in fact was able to increase its revenue during the first two thirds of the Troubles. The study additionally demonstrates that both prices and sales volume oscillated (rose and fell) in a yearly pattern. However, over the longer term, volume remained constant while prices rose, thus producing the increase in net income. The detailed records of prices also enable a comparison to the late Prof. Hellie's data set in The Ecomomy and Material Culture of Russia. The Solovki salt prices recorded at Vologda manifest distinct price levels and behavior and thus significantly enhance Hellie's charts for the Time of Troubles period. The study as a whole illustrates that the Time of Troubles exerted quite an uneven effect on the population of Muscovy, with the wealthy monasteries often economically unaffected or at least less affected than the general population. It also reveals the extent to which economic profit remained a principal driving force of the monasterial “corporation” at this time.

Black Monks and White Gold The Solovetskii Monastery's Prosperous Salt Trade during the Time of Troubles of the Early Seventeenth Century

in Russian History

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