Chubinsky A.N. (2023). Stvol’nyj prikaz i Oruzhejnaja palata. Proizvodstvo stroevogo oruzhija na moskovskom Barhatnom dvore v 1700–1707 gg. [The Barrel Department and the Kremlin Armoury. Military Arms Manufacture at the Moscow Velvet Yard in 1700–1707]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 12, pp. 163 — 222.
Abstract: This research is the first attempt to collect reliable data on Russian Barrel Department (Stvolny Prikaz) which functioned from 1630s till 1700 as an independent state establishment, and from 1700 to 1711 as a structural part of the Moscow Armory Chamber. The office of the Barrel Department, its workshops and storehouses were located at the Velvet Yard (Barkhatny Dvor), which was founded in 1630s as a silk workshop. The Velvet Yard was built on the bank of the Moskva River outside the Kremlin walls. The Barrel Department’s archive dated before 1700 was unfortunately lost. Thanks to a large number of surviving documents of the Armoury Archive, one can describe the main activities of the Barrel Department. In the second half of the 17th century the Barrel Department was engaged in repair of military arms, mainly firearms, and barrel proofing. Thousands of «Cossack guns» of 10–13 mm caliber were made there in 1680s. A number of such «Cossack guns» and about 150 separate barrels are stored nowadays in the Moscow Kremlin Museums. Account books of the Armoury Chamber of 1700–1707 provide descriptions of weapon production at the Velvet Yard, including craftsmen’s salaries and prices of individual parts of arms. In 1700—1707 the Barrel Department produced a great number of flintlock muskets with bayonets and swords. Barrels, locks and blades were not made at the Velvet Yard, most of these parts were supplied by Dutch and German merchants. A part of barrels and locks were made by Tula gunsmiths. There were at least thirteen forges at the Velvet Yard where they forged bayonets, barrels of hand mortars, halberds, and iron details of sword hilt. Copper furniture parts were ordered from Russian merchants. Both European and Russian merchants performed the assembly of muskets and swords as well as the staff stockmakers of the Barrel Yard. All those weаpons were supplied to the stores of the Armoury Chamber and the Velvet Yard. The assembly of firearms was carried out by stockmakers in their own houses. Numerous old repaired barrels and locks were used for new muskets. The scabbards for swords and bayonets and equipment were made by Russian merchants only. Documental descriptions of manufactured weapons were very brief. The only serial sample, which could be reconstructed according to description, was a sword with the Walloon type iron hilt, including quillons, a pierced shell guard, a knucle guard and finger rings. It probably was an infantry sword borrowed from the Swedes. The Armoury Chamber directed the activities of the Velvet Yard, set patterns for military weapons, concluded contracts with contractors and carried out the distribution of weapons to the regiments of the Russian army. The number of gunsmiths in the Barrel Department greatly exceeded the number of ones in the Armoury. The gunmakers of the Armoury Chamber rarely produced military weapons. The Barrel Department is characterized by a high level of specialization among gunmakers, optimal division of production functions, and a large volume of serial production. These qualities allow to consider the Barrel Department as a full-fledged manufactory, in contrast to the Armoury. Indirect evidence of the total production volume is the production norm for stockmakers, which obliged them to make a gunstock and assemble one gun a day.
In 1707 because of the threat of an attack by Charles XII of Sweden, the Velvet Yard ceased its work and its production premises were moved to the new Weapon Yard, which could be presumably located in the Kremlin in the Arsenal building which was under construction.
Keywords: Armoury Chamber, Barrel Department, Velvet Yard, Moscow Weapons Yard, Kremlin Arsenal, gunsmiths, military weapons, flintlock muskets, bayonets, smallswords, broadswords, halberds, hand mortars, Russian army, Peter the Great, Great Northern War.