In front of the western entrance to the cathedral, the shackles and the iron chain, which Stepan Razin was chained, were firmly embedded in the wall. After the pirate robberies of merchant ships on the Caspian Sea in 1669, Razin deceived many in Astrakhan and on the Don with rich booty, free life and future bliss. All who were dissatisfied with something went under his banner. And there were many dissatisfied in those days due to the ecclesiastical reform of Patriarch Nikon executed by force not conviction and increase in taxes during the Russo-Polish war of 1654-1667. Robberies, lawlessness, betrayal and murder spread throughout Russia. Many homeless people, revelers, vagrants, criminals hiding from the prisons, along with the Don people and riflemen, made up a crowd that stretched up to 200,000 thugs. Razin, in order to maintain the ferment of minds and deceit of the people, said that the dead Tsarevich Alexei Alekseevich was sitting on one of his ships, and on the other – deposed Patriarch Nikon. Instead of the Tsarevich, sometimes they showed a boy of about sixteen, the son of some Circassian Prince. The people believed everything that they wanted to believe, and by separate crowds, mostly unarmed, without order and chiefs, produced the greatest atrocities, murder and devastation. They burned resisting cities, destroyed manors, mills and various institutions, robbed the royal treasury, churches, monasteries, merchant caravans.
In 1671, Razin besieged Simbirsk. The famous intelligence and courage Ivan Bogdanovich Miloslavsky led the defenders of the city. Razin used the same deceit that when taking Astrakhan, trying to lure the army to his side; but Miloslavsky had under his superiors more reliable people than archers, and, moreover, he himself cost a whole army, and therefore, although with small people and with great starvation, he sat out with honor. On attacks he killed many thieves and all those who were taken prisoner, hung on the rampart. On October 4, 1671, at the last attack and on the followed counter-attack, Razin, having suffered a complete defeat, fled from Simbirsk on ships down the Volga River to Samara. While Miloslavsky fought under Simbirsk, duke Yuri Alekseevich Dolgoruky with another corps, at the end of September, between Arzamas and Alatyr, near the village of Panov, at the first meeting, broke completely the 15-thousandth corps of Razin. Soon, the main Razin’s leader was caught, quartered and hanged.
The Tsar, seeing a terrible disorder and knowing that no mercy could stop the rebellion, ordered not only the chiefs and instigators of the rebellion but all without distinction, caught in arms or accused of murder and robbery, to execute without mercy. The form of these executions was terrible, the fields were full of gallows, of which fifty were hanging together, and all the places were covered with corpses and stained with blood: hacked bodies and bones were lying everywhere; impaled, the robbers lived for three days and spoke. So great cruelty was required by morality and politics.
With all the efforts of the government, the struggle, accompanied by terrible bloodshed, lasted three months. Prince Dolgoruky was the first to stop the rebellion and tame the riot of the robbers, but only after execution of eleven thousand of them. From his terrible sword robbers fled to different cities. Even in Siberia, near Turinsk, peasants and military people led them to the governors, two hundred and three hundred people suddenly; and although all these thieves were quartered and hung up, the sparks of the insurgency still smoldered in remote places for a long time.
Razin, wounded at Simbirsk, hardened so that to get the last coin from rich people, merchants, monks and officials who fell into his hands, he burned alive in the furnace instead of firewood, pulled veins, tore off skin and, killed with various tortures. Deceit and seduction were over, and he no longer spared neither women nor young; ruined his Cossacks without mercy.
Razin fled to the Don, but having committed so many atrocities, he could no longer escape. Ataman Cornelius Yakovlev, having opened the refuge of Razin, defeated him under the Kagalnitsky town and with many like-minded people on April 14, 1671, took him alive; and, to shame the people chained him at the door of the Cathedral Church in Cherkassk. Razin’s comrades were captured and, by a conviction of the Cossacks circle, for severe crimes, all were beaten and hanged up. The Military Ataman himself took Razin to Moscow, where he was executed in order to pacify the people.