Orlenko S., Novosyolov V., Kurmanovsky V. (2019). K voprosu o bulatnom oruzhii russkoj raboty XVII v. (po materialam byvshego arhiva Oruzhejnoj palaty) [Revisiting the Russian Weapons from Crucible Steel in the 17th Century (a case study of the former archive of the Armoury Chamber)]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 7, pp. 6 — 88.

Orlenko S., Novosyolov V., Kurmanovsky V.

Abstract: The problem of the present article is the history of the manufacturing and functioning of weapons made from crucible steel in Russia. It is a challenging question for the local weapon study. The main object of the investigation is the Moscow Armoury Chamber, which was the court workshop and stockpile for the Russian tsars in the 17th century.  The present research is based on the authentic sources concerning the activity of the Armoury Chamber in the 17thcentury. These are the inventories, cash receipts and payment books, documents of the current administration of the Armoury Chamber (Armoury prikaz), which are now kept in the State archive of the antic manuscripts (holding №396), as well as the original weapons that used to be a part of the royal armoury treasure in the 17th century and are now in the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums. An important part of the work is an attempt to provide the broadest range of historiography data and its analysis.

These complex sources permitted the authors to conclude that during the 17th century the manufacturing of weapons from crucible steel in and for the Armoury Chamber was not both permanent and regular practice. The facts of producing blades from crucible steel, which were similar in price and quality to their oriental analogues, by the Moscow blade smiths speak about the high level of their work and skills.

The primary sources point that both in the first and second half of the 17th century the heads of the Armoury Chamber tried to supplement the stuff of the workshop with specialists capable of producing the high quality saber blades, as well as to organize an apprenticeship of such workers in Moscow or in the countries of the Orient. In the article these attempts are marked as not quite pertinacious and persistent ones, and they weren’t crowned with any success. The authors also state the absence of any compelling evidence pointing to the crucible steel manufacturing in the 17th century Russia while there are some records saying for the purchase of the steel in the oriental countries.

In the authors’ opinion, the reason of insufficient activity in the process of organization of weapon manufacturing from crucible steel in the Armoury Chamber is the confidence of the department heads in the possibility to meet the high quality weapon and armour need of the Russian court by means of import of the necessary pieces directly from Iran and Turkey. A result of the whole work is the catalogue of the weapons from crucible steel now kept in the Moscow Kremlin Museums, which is provided in the addendum.

Keywords: Russian weapons, Kremlin Armoury, bulat steel, wootz, production of weapons