Danila Efremov on the Way to the Ataman Mace

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Abstract. Based on a wide range of sources, the article reconstructs the most vivid period of life of Danila Efremovich Efremov (1690–1760) – one of the most famous Atamans of the Don Host. The article traces the stages of his unusual career preceding his appointment as an Ataman. The use of a number of new and little-known archival documents made it possible to establish and clarify many facts of the hero’s biography. For the first time in historiography, the conflict of the Officer (Starshina) D.E. Efremov with the authorities of the Don Host in 1731–1732 is highlighted, after the investigation of which the Military Collegium demoted him to an ordinary Cossack. Combat merits and connections among the Russian generals ensured the nonconformist’s return to the ranks of the officer elite. The subsequent elevation of D.E. Efremov happened due to his personal contribution to the successful implementation of Russia’s foreign policy. Through the efforts of the Officer, the feud in the Kalmyk Khanate was stopped and its integration with the Russian Empire intensified. The article analyzes the relationships of D.E. Efremov with other Officers of the Don Host and the Kalmyk Khan Donduk Ombo, as well as contacts with representatives of Russian generals. In addition, inaccurate biographical information about the ataman found in historiography is refuted. The facts studied allow us to conclude that the crucial part for D.E. Efremov’s win over the competitors in the struggle for the post of the Ataman of the Don Host did not have so much to do with his military experience and diplomatic talent as it had with his high credit of trust with the supreme authority.

Keywords: Don Host, Don Cossacks, Russian Empire, Kalmyk Khanate, D.E. Efremov, I.M. Krasnoschyokov, Russian-Turkish War of 1735–1739.

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