October 9, 2017
4 maps, 22 tables
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$85.00 USD, £66.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
October 9, 2017
4 maps, 22 tables
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$40.00 USD, £31.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Russian Peasant Women Who Refused to Marry

Spasovite Old Believers in the 18th-19th Centuries

John Bushnell's analysis of previously unstudied church records and provincial archives reveals surprising marriage patterns in Russian peasant villages in the 18th and 19th centuries. For some villages the rate of unmarried women reached as high as 70 percent. The religious group most closely identified with female peasant marriage aversion was the Old Believer Spasovite covenant, and Bushnell argues that some of these women might have had more agency in the decision to marry than more common peasant tradition ordinarily allowed. Bushnell explores the cataclysmic social and economic impacts these decisions had on the villages, sometimes dragging entire households into poverty and ultimate dissolution. In this act of defiance, this group of socially, politically, and economically subordinated peasants went beyond traditional acts of resistance and reaction.

About the Author

John Bushnell is Professor of History at Northwestern University. He is author of Mutiny Amid Repression: Russian Soldiers in the Revolution of 1905-1906 (Indiana University Press, 1985) and co-editor of Russia's Great Reforms, 1855–1881 (Indiana University Press, 1994).


"This is very much a book worth reading. It sheds interesting new light on sectarian practices in the countryside, and in the process forces us to revise the ways in which we think about the most basic aspects of rural life in imperial Russia."—American Historical Review

"An analysis of a previously understudied phenomenon, the book constitutes a significant contribution to the study of Russian peasant, religious, and matrimonial history."—New Books Network

"Drawing mainly on tax census and parish records, John Bushnell has produced an impressive study of marriage practices among Old Believer peasants in several districts in Vladimir, Kostroma, and Nizhnii Novgorod provinces between the early eighteenth and the mid-nineteenth centuries."—The Russian Review

"Bushnell's study makes for remarkably interesting and engaging reading"—Slavic Review

"Bushnell is to be greatly commended for broadening the discussion on rural life in Russia."—Journal of Modern History

"This archival study makes a very interesting and important discovery: many peasant women in the Volga region did not marry during the 18th and 19th centuries—at least until the emancipation of serfs when this study breaks off. . . . The data on marriage aversion that Bushnell has collected in this study are extremely valuable. . . . And Bushnell's conlcuding observation that this phenomenon was not limited to Old Believer settlements in the Volga region makes further study of peasant marriage avoidance all the more important."—Georg P. Michels, Recensio
Indiana University Press

9780253029652 : russian-peasant-women-who-refused-to-marry-bushnell
346 Pages
$85.00 USD
9780253029966 : russian-peasant-women-who-refused-to-marry-bushnell
Paperback / softback
346 Pages
$40.00 USD

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Russia's Great Reforms, 1855–1881

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