On the basis of written testimonies by seventeenth to nineteenth-century Polish exiles settling in or passing through Kazan and its territory on their way to Siberia, the author ― a specialist of the history of modern Muslim Tatar populations in the former Rzeczpospolita ― reopens unknown pages of the history of the city and its region under the Romanovs. Though unfortunately deprived of footnotes and of an index, his book sheds a useful light on varied aspects of the life of local populations, on their customs and rituals, as well as on the life of Polish exiles themselves and on their yet poorly documented relations with the locals. One of the sources utilised by the author is the diary of a French officer at the service of the Confederation of Poland, François Auguste Thesby de Belcourt (Relation ou Journal d’un officier français au service de la Confédération de Pologne, Amsterdam, 1776, pp. 31-8), hold prisoner at the siege of Krakow and deported for three years to Tobolsk. (Released after intercession on his behalf by Falconet and d’Alembert, he was welcomed by fellow countrymen in Moscow and is henceforth known for his career as a freemason master in Vilnius ― cf. Vladislav Rjéoutski, “Les Français dans la franc-maçonnerie russe au siècle des lumières: hypothèses et pistes de recherche,” Slavica Occitania 24 [2007]: 133. Thesby’s account provides data on Kazan’s life, especially on the city’s bazaar, on the exiled community of the Confederates in 1770, and on the climate in the city during Pugachev’s uprising in 1773-4, after his return from Siberia. As they are introduced in the present book, his narrative as well as those by other witnesses before and after him document principally the everyday life of the exiles in and around Kazan’s prison, their relations with local Russian authorities, and the variations of Russia’s policy towards the colony of exiles according to the evolution of the international situation.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-3.2.C-178