Cantonists (Russian language: кантонисты; more properly: военные кантонисты, "military cantonists"[1]) were underage sons of Russian conscripts who from 1721 were educated in special "canton schools" (Кантонистские школы) for future military service (the schools were called garrison schools in the 18th century). The canton schools were eventually abolished in 1857.

Иллюстрация к статье «Кантонисты военные». Военная энциклопедия Сытина (Санкт-Петербург, 1911-1915)

Cantonist schools during the 18th and early 19th centuries

Cantonist schools were established by the 1721 decree of Tsar Peter the Great that stipulated that every regiment was required to maintain a school for 50 boys. Their enrollment was increased in 1732, and the term was set from the age of 7 to 15. The curriculum included grammar and arithmetic, and those with a corresponding aptitude were taught artillery, fortification, music and singing, scrivenery, equine veterinary science, or mechanics. Those lacking in any talent were taught carpentry, blacksmithing, shoemaking and other trades useful to the military. The ablest ones were taught for additional 3 years, until the age of 18. All entered military service at the completion of their studies. The decree of 1758 required all male children of the military personnel to be taught in the cantonist schools. In 1798 a military "asylum-orphanage" was established in St Petersburg, and all regimental schools were renamed after it, the total enrollment reaching 16,400.

The schools were reorganized in 1805 and all children were now referred to as cantonists. After the War of 1812 their number increased dramatically, when many orphaned children of military personnel killed in the war enrolled in cantonist schools voluntarily. During this period the curriculum of cantonist schools was equivalent to that of gymnasia, and military subjects were not taught.

In 1824 all cantonist schools were made answerable to the Director of Military Settlements Count Aleksey Arakcheyev, and in 1826 they were organized into cantonist battalions. The standards of curriculum dropped significantly, and it was limited to the subjects useful to the military.

During the reign of the Nicholas I of Russia the number of cantonists reached 36,000. Several cantonist battalions became specialized: they prepared auditors, artillerists, engineers, military surgeons, cartographers.

More children were added to the category of cantonists. Eventually children of the discharged soldiers were also included, illegitimate children of soldiers' wives' or widows', and even foundlings.

There were several exemptions:

  1. Legitimate sons of staff-officers, and all officers awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 4th class.
  2. A single son of a junior staff-officer, out of a total number of his children, if he had no sons born after his attainment of the officer's rank.
  3. A single son of a junior officer maimed in battle.
  4. A single son of a widow of a junior officer or an enlisted man killed in action or deceased during service.

There were considerable differences in cantonists' service obligations:

  • Children of nobility were required to serve for 3 years at the completion of their studies.
  • Children of senior officers - 6 years.
  • Children of clergy - 8 years.
  • All other social categories - 25 years.

Cantonism and ethnic minorities

There was forcible conscription of underage recruits from the populations of indigenous peoples, Old Believers, Gypsies, and common vagabonds from 1805, Jews from 1827, and Poles from 1831.[2]

There were some significant differences in treatment of Jews and non-Jews: all others were required to provide conscripts between 18 and 35, while for Jews the age limit was 12–25, and it was left to the discretion of the Jewish qahal to choose conscripts from whatever age they decided. Thus in practice, Jewish children were often conscripted as young as eight or nine years old.[3] This system created a disproportionate number of Jewish cantonists, and betrayed the utilitarian agenda of the statute: to draft those more likely to be susceptible to external influence, and thus to assimilation.


After 1827, the term was applied to Jewish and Karaite boys,[4][5][6] who were drafted to military service at the age of twelve and placed for their six-year military education in cantonist schools. Like all other conscripts, they were required to serve in the Imperial Russian army for 25 years after the completion of their studies (in 1834 the term was reduced to 20 years plus five years in reserve and in 1855 to 12 years plus three years of reserve).[7] According to the "Statute on Conscription Duty" signed by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia on August 26 (September 7 new style), 1827, Jews were made liable to personal military service and were subject to the same conscription quota as all other tax-paying estates ("sosloviya") in the Russian Empire. The total number of conscripts was uniform for all populations (four conscripts per each thousand subjects); however, the actual recruitment was implemented by the local qahals and so a disproportionate number of Jewish conscripts were underage.[8]

In the aftermath of the Polish uprising of 1831, children of political prisoners and boys on the streets of captured cities often were abducted, and placed in cantonist schools, with the intent of their Russification, [9] see Incorporation of Polish children into the Imperial Russian Army (1831-1832) for more.

The vast majority of Jews entered the Russian Empire with the territories acquired as the result of the last partitions of Poland of the 1790s; their civil rights were severely restricted (see Pale of Settlement). Most lacked knowledge of the official Russian language. Before 1827, Jews were doubly taxed en lieu of being obligated to serve in the army [10] and their inclusion was supposed to alleviate this burden. However, the number of recruits reduced the number of young men that could go into the workforce, and this in combination with political restrictions led to widespread destitution.

Russia was divided into northern, southern, eastern, and western "conscription zones" and the levy was announced annually for only one of them. The Pale of Jewish settlement was outside conscription in the fallow years, so the conscription in general and of cantonists in particular occurred once every four years, except during the Crimean War, when conscription was annual. The first 1827 draft involved some 1,800 Jewish conscripts; by the qahal's decision half of them were children. In 1843 the conscription system was extended to the Kingdom of Poland that was previously exempt from it.

Strains within the Jewish community

The 'decree of August 26, 1827' made Jews liable for military service, and allowed their conscription between the ages of twelve and twenty-five. Each year, the Jewish community had to supply four recruits per thousand of the population. Strict quotas were imposed on all communities and the qahals were given the unpleasant task of implementing conscription within the Jewish communities. Since the merchant-guild members, agricultural colonists, factory mechanics, clergy, and all Jews with secondary education were exempt, and the wealthy bribed their way out of having their children conscripted, fewer potential conscripts were available; the adopted policy deeply sharpened internal Jewish social tensions. Seeking to protect the socio-economic and religious integrity of Jewish society, the qahals did their best to include “non-useful Jews” in the draft lists so that the heads of tax-paying middle-class families were predominantly exempt from conscription, whereas single Jews, as well as "heretics" (Haskalah influenced individuals), paupers, outcasts, and orphaned children were drafted. They used their power to suppress protests and intimidate potential informers who sought to expose the arbitrariness of the qahal to the Russian government. In some cases, communal elders had the most threatening informers murdered (such as the Ushitsa case, 1836)

The zoning rule was suspended during the Crimean war, when conscription became annual. During this period the qahals leaders would employ informers and kidnappers (Russian: "ловчики", lovchiki, khappers), as many potential conscripts preferred to run away rather than voluntarily submit. In the case of unfulfilled quotas, younger boys of eight and even younger were frequently taken.

Training and pressures to convert

Herzel Yankel Tsam
Herzel Yankel Tsam, one of only eight recorded exceptions in the Russian army in the 19th century of Jewish cantonists who rose to the rank of officer without first converting to Christianity. Drafted as a 17-year-old cantonist, he became an officer in 1873. He was not allowed any promotions beyond captain until his retirement after 41 years of service, when he was given rank and pension of a colonel. In spite of pressures, he never converted.[11][12]

All cantonists were institutionally underfed, and encouraged to steal food from the local population, in emulation of the Spartan character building. On one occasion in 1856, a Jewish cantonist Khodulevich managed to steal the Tsar's own watch during military games at Uman. Not only was he not punished, but he was given a reward of 25 roubles for his prowess.

The boys in cantonist schools were given extensive training in Russian grammar (and sometimes literature), and mathematics, in particular geometry necessary in naval and artillery service. Those who showed aptitude for music were trained in singing and instrumental music, as the Imperial Army had a large demand for military wind bands and choirs. Some cavalry regiments maintained equestrian bands of torban players, and cantonist schools supplied these as well. Some cantonist schools also prepared firearms mechanics, veterinarians for cavalry, and administrators ("auditors").

The official policy was to encourage their conversion to the state religion of Orthodox Christianity and Jewish boys were coerced to baptism. As kosher food was unavailable, they were faced with the necessity of abandoning of Jewish dietary laws. Polish Catholic boys were subject to similar pressure to convert and assimilate as the Russian Empire was hostile to Catholicism and Polish nationalism. Initially conversions were few, but after the escalation of missionary activities in the cantonist schools in 1844, about one third of all Jewish cantonists would have undergone conversion.


In the era of Arakcheev's military settlements (1809-1831) indigenous peasants who fell within the territory of a military settlement were subject to incorporation into the military in various ways. In particular, indigenous children (under the age of 18) considered as military cantonists, were divided into three age groups: minor (under the age of 7), middle (ages 8-12), and senior, with the latter group assigned to the military school of the settlement. Minors stayed with the parents, while minor orphans were transferred to military settlers, with an award of 10 roubles. All male newborns automatically became cantonists. Later it turned out that instead of 11 years, 8 years of military training were enough. Correspondingly, the age groups were changed: under 10, under 14, and under 18. [13]

In the aftermath of the Polish uprising of 1831, children of political prisoners and boys on the streets of captured cities were often abducted, and placed in cantonist schools, with the intent of their Russification, [14] see Incorporation of Polish children into the Imperial Russian Army (1831-1832) for more.

In the army

For all cantonists, their 25-year term of service began after they reached the age of 18 and were recruited into the army. The distribution patterns of the 18-year-old cantonists show that Jews were not discriminated against: they demonstrated similar average literacy, physical ability, and training accomplishments and were sent to the same army and navy regiments as Christian graduating cantonists. A comparison between baptized and unbaptized Jewish cantonists indicates relatively insignificant advantages that the former enjoyed over the latter.

Discriminatory regulations however ensured that unconverted Jews were held back in their army promotions. According to Benjamin Nathans,

"... the formal incorporation of Jews into Nicolas I's army was quickly compromised by laws distinguishing Jewish from non-Jewish soldiers. Less than two years after the 1827 decree on conscription, Jews were barred from certain elite units, and beginning in 1832 they were subject to separate, more stringent criteria for promotion, which required that they "distinguish themselves in combat with the enemy."[15]

Jews who refused to convert were barred from ascending above the rank of "унтер-офицер" i.e. NCO; only eight exceptions were recorded during the 19th century. These restrictions were not lifted until the February Revolution in 1917.

Some baptized cantonists eventually reached high ranks in the Imperial Army and Navy; among them were generals Grulev, Arnoldi, Zeil, Khanukov; admirals Kaufman, Sapsay, Kefali.

Literary references

The cantonists' fate was sometimes described by Yiddish and Russian literature classics.

Alexander Herzen in his My Past and Thoughts described his somber encounter with Jewish cantonists. While being convoyed to his exile in 1835 at Vyatka, Herzen met a unit of emaciated Jewish cantonists, some eight years old, who were marched to Kazan. Their (sympathetic) officer complained that a third had already died.[16]

Nikolai Leskov described underage Jewish cantonists in his 1863 story "The Musk-Ox" (Ovtsebyk).

Judah Steinberg described underage Jewish cantonists in his novel "In Those Days" (English translation in 1915, from the Hebrew).[17]

The agony of Polish children incorporated into the Imperial Russian Army was presented in Juliusz Słowacki's narrative poem Anhelli.

Abolition and results of cantonist policy

The cantonist policy was abolished by Tsar Alexander II's decree on 26 August 1856, in the aftermath of the Russian defeat in the Crimean war, which made evident the dire necessity for the modernisation of the Russian military forces. Nonetheless, the drafting of children lasted through 1859.[18] All unconverted cantonists and recruits under the age of 20 were returned to their families. The underage converted cantonists were given to their godparents. However the implementation of the abolition took nearly 3 years.

It is estimated that between 30,000 and 70,000 Jewish boys served as cantonists, their numbers were disproportionately high in relation to the total number of cantonists. Jewish boys comprised about 20% of cantonists at the schools in Riga and Vitebsk, and as much as 50% at Kazan and Kiev schools. A general estimate for the years 1840–1850 seems to have been about 15%. In general Jews comprised a disproportionate number of recruits (ten for every thousand of the male population as opposed to seven out of every thousand),[19] the number was tripled during the Crimean War (1853–1856).

At the conclusion of the conscription term, former cantonists were allowed to live and own land anywhere in the Empire, outside the Pale of Settlement. The earliest Jewish communities in Finland were Jewish cantonists who had completed their service. The rate of conversion was generally high, at about one third, as was eventual intermarriage. Most never returned to their homes.[20]


Jewish cantonist recruits in 1843–1854, according to statistics of the Russian War Ministry. Only in the eleven years listed below – the total of 29,115 children were conscripted. It is assumed that between 1827 and 1856, there were over 50,000 of them.[8]

  • 1843 - 1,490
  • 1844 - 1,428
  • 1845 - 1,476
  • 1846 - 1,332
  • 1847 - 1,527
  • 1848 - 2,265
  • 1849 - 2,612
  • 1850 - 2,445
  • 1851 - 3,674
  • 1852 - 3,351
  • 1853 - 3,904
  • 1854 - 3,611

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "кантонисты", an article from the Shorter Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 4, 1988, published online by the Electronic Jewish Encyclopedia
  3. ^ The World of Hasidism: H. Rabinowicz, 1970, p. 132, Hartmore House, London ISBN 0-87677-005-7
  4. ^ Shaul Stampfer: Karaite Separatism in Nineteenth-Century Russia
  5. ^ Joseph Solomon Lutski's Epistle of Israel's Deliverance, Philip E. Mille
  6. ^ Joseph Solomon Lutski, Russian Review, Vol. 54, No. 4 (October 1995), pp. 628–630
  7. ^ Jerome Blum (1971) Lord and Peasant in Russia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century, ISBN 0-691-00764-0, pp. 465, 466
  8. ^ a b (in Russian) Кантонисты (Cantonists) article in the Electronic Jewish Encyclopedia, based on the Shorter Jewish Encyclopedia. Jerusalem, 1976-2005: the Society for Research on Jewish Communities in cooperation with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  9. ^ Wojciech Rudny (June 29, 2004). "Skutki rewolucji listopadowej dla sprawy polskiej (In the aftermath of the Polish January Uprising)". Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Zvi Y. Gitelman (2001): A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33811-5. p.5
  12. ^ Herzl Yankl Tsam (Beyond the Pale)
  13. ^ Н.Х. Туркестанов, "Граф Аракчеев и военные поселения 1809-1831", 1871, modern reprint: ISBN 5518040083, p. 109
  14. ^ Wojciech Rudny (June 29, 2004). "Skutki rewolucji listopadowej dla sprawy polskiej (In the aftermath of the Polish January Uprising)". Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  15. ^ Benjamin Nathans (2002). Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia University of California Press. p.29
  16. ^ (in Russian) Alexander Herzen. "Былое и думы" (My Past and Thoughts), end of Chapter 13: "Беда да и только, треть осталась на дороге."
  17. ^ In Those Day: The Story of an Old Man
  18. ^ Petrovsky-Shtern, Yohanan (June 8, 2017). "Military Service in Russia". YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.
  19. ^ Yohanan Petrovsky-Stern "Drafted into Modernity: Jews in the Russian Army (1827-1917)" pp.111-172
  20. ^ Yohanan Petrovsky-Stern "Drafted into Modernity: Jews in the Russian Army (1827-1917)"


  • 2008 YIVO encyclopedia
  • Simon Dubnow, The Newest History of the Jewish People, 1789-1914 Vol. 2 (Russian ed. ISBN 5-93273-105-2) pp. 141–149, 306-308
  • CANTONISTS, by Herman Rosenthal at Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901–1906
  • Benjamin Nathans, Beyond the Pale: The Jewish encounter with late imperial Russia (University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 2002). pp. 26–38
  • Yohanan Petrovsky-Stern, Drafted into Modernity: Jews in the Russian Army (1827-1917) (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Larry Domnitch, The Cantonists: The Jewish Children's Army of the Tsar (Devora Publishing, 2004). ISBN 1-930143-85-0

External links

Abstinence (conscription)

The Abstinence (Hebrew: הִסתַגְפוּת‎, Ashkenazi pronunciation: Histagfus) tactic of draft evasion was a type of hunger strike (or other forms of self-harm, such as sleep deprivation, tending to cause tachycardia, or self-inflicted wound), employed by young men in the Russian Empire's Jewish Pale of Settlement (and in neighboring Austria-Hungary's Galician community), in order to be found unfit for military service by the Imperial authorities.

Alexander Friedmann

Alexander Alexandrovich Friedmann (also spelled Friedman or Fridman ; Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Фри́дман) (June 16 [O.S. 4], 1888 – September 16, 1925) was a Russian and Soviet physicist and mathematician. He is best known for his pioneering theory that the universe was expanding, governed by a set of equations he developed now known as the Friedmann equations.

Canton System (Prussia)

The Canton System (German: Kantonsystem or Kantonssystem) or Canton Regulation (Kantonreglement) was a system of recruitment used by the Prussian army between 1733 and 1813. The country was divided into recruiting districts called cantons (Kantone), and each canton was the responsibility of a regiment. The system was a Prussian distinctive. Every male was from the youngest possible age enrolled in the army, and by 1740 the Prussian army, with a strength of 3.6% of the total population, was proportionately the largest in Europe. The new system replaced coercive recruiting, which in turn replaced the hiring of undependable and expensive mercenary forces. It allowed the army to double from 38,000 to 76,000, making it the fourth largest in Europe, and it linked the local population more closely to the royal government.

Upon his accession in 1713, King Frederick William I abolished the provincial militias, obligated his soldiers to lifelong service and transferred all responsibility for recruitment from civilian authorities to regimental officers. This system, which remained in place until the introduction of the cantons, occasioned much abuse and even bloodshed. In February and March 1721 the king prohibited coercive recruiting, which only increased the competition between recruiters. On 14 September 1722 he published a "Sharpened Edict against the Flight of Subjects and their Children in Western and Eastern Pomerania" and on 11 November a "Patent, that the Property of those Subjects and Native Children who flee from Fear of Recruitment shall be Confiscated", but the solution to the conflict between the army—which required peasant recruits—and the royal finances—which required the peasants' agrarian labour—was only solved by the self-interest of the regimental commanders. In order to meet their recruitment obligations while following the king's strictures on domestic recruiting, they were forced to seek more recruits abroad. To cover the higher expenses of foreign recruitment, they gradually extended the furloughs of those recruits taken from their own estates (commanders were invariably either estate owners—Junkers—or close relatives of owners) so that the latter were only obligated to undertake basic training in peacetime. The practice of regular furloughs was gradually extended to all recruits. The commanders also introduced enrollment (Enrollierung): male children too young to serve were added to the enlistment rolls and given furlough passes to prevent them from being recruited by other regiments when they were old enough.In 1733, Frederick William converted these widespread practices into a universal system. By a series of three Cabinet Orders (Allerhöchste Kabinetts-Ordre, AKOs) of 1 and 8 May and 15 September, the country was divided into cantons and the "enrollment of [all] male youth" mandated within the cantons. As a result, recruitment was technically replaced by enrollment and underage male peasants converted into cantonists (Kantonisten). The term "recruitment" thereafter applied to the hiring of foreign mercenaries only; cantonists were said to be inducted into service when they came of age, but the forcibly and illegally impressing peasants into service continued on a small scale throughout the 18th century, and was the source of numerous complaints. Soldiers were also sometimes sold by one regimental commander to another, but this practice was outlawed by Frederick I and by Frederick II in edicts of 1743 and 1748, although it was already in decline by 1740.The average canton comprised about 5000 hearths, but the number of soldiers varied considerably. In the Margraviate of Brandenburg a regiment typically consisted of 5000 soldiers, while in the Duchy of Further Pomerania it consisted of about 5900. The canton system did not cover all of Prussia. Certain regions inherited exemptions from before 1733, but by 1808 only the cities of Berlin, Brandenburg, Breslau and Potsdam were exempted.On 12 February 1792, on the eve of the French Revolutionary Wars, King Frederick William II issued a revised regulation for the canton system. It laid out the classes that were unconditionally exempt from service: (i) the nobility, (ii) commoners who owned estates valued at over 12,000 Reichstaler, (iii) those with personal wealth in excess of 10,000 Reichstaler and their sons provided that none were craftsmen or peasants, (iv) civil servants, (v) the sons of university professors, (vi) foreigners (Ausländer) resident in Prussia and any sons or servants they brought with them and (vii) the Prussian-born sons of foreigners provided their fathers had either built a house or cultivated a wasteland. One could also be exempted if he was studying at a school or if active on his own in commerce or agriculture, but this exemption ended the moment one left his occupation or was found to be leading an "unstable lifestyle". The student exemption was especially widely abused and after 24 May 1793 one claiming it had to provide proof of studies.A series of reforms, such as the introduction of a progressive legal code, the Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preußischen Staaten, in 1794 and the abolition of serfdom in 1807, as well as the Treaty of Tilsit with France made the canton system increasingly obsolete. A Cabinet Order of 21 November 1808 reassigned the regiments of the new Prussian army—limited to 42,000 men by Tilsit—to their cantons. On 6 June 1809, the sons of foreigners lost their exemption and on 8 September the sons of soldiers born in the exempted cities. On 9 February 1813, following Prussia's participation in the disastrous French invasion of Russia and in preparation for her declaration of war against France, the canton system was suspended "for the duration of the war" and universal conscription introduced through a Cabinet Order. Men between the ages of 17 and 24 could enter the army voluntarily and choose their regiment; all who did not remained eligible to be drafted. Those between 25 and 40 could be drafted into the newly formed Landwehr. On 27 May 1814 the Cabinet Order of 9 February 1813 was rescinded, but the old regiment-based system of enrollment and exemptions was not reintroduced. Instead, on 3 September 1814 the Gesetz über die Verpflichtung zum Kriegsdienst (law on the obligation of military service) was introduced, and all men over 20 years of age were compelled to serve three years in the army and a further two in reserve.

Elias von Cyon

Elias von Cyon, also known as Elie de Cyon, born Ilya Fadeyevich Tsion (Russian- Илья Фаддеевич Цион); (March 25, 1843 – 1912) was a Russian-French physiologist born to Jewish parents in Telšiai, Russian Empire (today Lithuania). His father was a Cantonist.

Son of Pinkhos (Faddey) Cyon and his wife Sarah; he had an elder brother Moses (born 1840). Cyon studied medicine at the medical-surgical academy in Warsaw, at the University of Kiev and in Berlin. He obtained a degree in medicine in Kiev in 1864. In 1866 he worked in Leipzig as an assistant to Carl Ludwig (1816–1895), with whom he collaborated on creation of the first isolated perfused frog heart preparation.From 1867 he taught classes on anatomy and physiology at the University of St. Petersburg, where he was assistant to the director of the physiology laboratory, Filipp Ovsyannikov. At St. Petersburg one of his students was Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936). In 1870 he became an associate professor, and following student protests concerning his political views, he relocated to Paris in 1877. In Paris he attained French citizenship and worked with famed physiologist Claude Bernard (1813–1881).

His name is associated with "Cyon's nerve" (aortic nerve), which is a branch of the vagus nerve that terminates in the aortic arch and base of the heart. It is composed entirely of afferent fibers.He converted to Catholicism in 1908 and is claimed to have written parts of The Protocols of Zion.

Garrison school

Garrison schools (Russian: гарнизо́нные шко́лы) in 18th century Russia were military schools that provided the primary education for the children of the military recruits. The institution of the Garrison schools was introduced by the ukase (manifest) of Tsar Peter the Great in 1721 primarily for the children of military recruits in the course of Peter's reform of the Russian military. This so-called military revolution transformed the military from an archaic militia-like force to the regular army, which drew upon military recruits called, predominantly from enserfed peasantry, to serve for 25 years, which, given the expected life span of most Russian serfs at the time, essentially meant that they would serve for life. The recruits and their children born after the recruitment were liberated from the serf status and a network of Garrison schools was created for the children's education. The boys, starting from the age of 7, were taught literacy, elementary math, "artillery and military engineering", but also fine arts and several trade professions, such as shoe-making, sewing, wood- and metal-working, etc.

Initially 49 schools were founded, each for 50 boys aged 7 to 15. Upon completion of elementary study course, the boys' education was specialized as follows: 10 boys studied artillery and fortification, 20 studied music (drums and singing), 10 studied trade professions and 10 studied advanced writing (письмоводство). Most school graduates entered the military service.

In 1798, the Garrison schools were renamed "Military institutions for the orphans" (военно-сиротские отделения) which in turn were transformed into Cantonist schools.

Herzel Yankel Tsam

Herzel Yankel Tsam (Russian: Герцель Янкелевич Цам; 1835–1915) was a Jewish cantonist in the Russian Empire, one of only nine Jewish officers in the Tsarist army in the 19th century who didn't convert to Christianity.Drafted as a 17-year-old Cantonist, Tsam served in Tomsk, Siberia. Tsam became an officer in 1873 (his fellow officers attested to his qualities in the promotion petitions) and, after forty-one years of service, he was retired with a rank and pension of captain. The promotion was granted on the day of his retirement, so he would have the pension, but wouldn't be able to serve as a colonel. An able commander and administrator, he turned one of the worst companies of his regiment into one of the best. In spite of pressures, he never converted to the state religion of Russian Orthodox Christianity.

After retirement, Tsam took an active part in the Jewish community of Tomsk.

Israel Aksenfeld

Israel Aksenfeld (c. 1787 in Nemirov, Ukraine, Russian Empire – c. 1868 in Paris, France) was a Judæo-German writer. Although he spoke other languages perfectly (Hebrew, Russian, Polish, German, possibly Ukrainian), he chose to write in Yiddish. Together with Solomon Ettinger, he was one of the first Yiddish-language writers of the 19th century and one of the most significant Yiddish writers to emerge before Mendele Mocher Sforim.

He spent the first period of his life among the Hasidim, being himself a disciple of R. Nahman Bratzlaver (from Bratslav, a town in Ukraine, in Yiddish: בראָסלעוו) and the companion of Nathan Bratzlaver (Nathan of Breslov), the editor and publisher of Nahman's works. Later he abandoned his early associations, and removed to Odessa. By self-education he acquired a wide knowledge of law, literature, and science. He practised as a notary public, and was also a prolific writer of fiction. Like nearly all Russo-Jewish novelists, Aksenfeld was a realist. He derived the themes of his works from contemporary Jewish life, describing with the pen of an artist the conditions, manners, and customs of the ghetto in the Russian Empire at the beginning of the eventful reign of Czar Nicholas I. He was the author of about twenty works, of which only five—one novel and four dramas—were printed. The most important of his dramatic works is the play in verse, Der erschter jiddischer Rekrut in Russland (1861), a tragedy which presents a remarkably vivid picture of the terrible commotion in the Russian ghetto when, in 1827, the ukase compelling the Jews to do military service was enforced for the first time (see Cantonist). His novel, Dos Sterntichl (1861) describes the seamy side of Ḥasidism, its intolerance, bigotry, and hypocrisy, and contrasts it with the fair-mindedness and honesty of progressive Judaism. Another work is Sefer Chasidim (1841).

Israel Salanter

Rabbi Yisrael ben Ze'ev Wolf Lipkin, also known as "Israel Salanter" or "Yisroel Salanter" (November 3, 1809, Zhagory – February 2, 1883, Königsberg), was the father of the Musar movement in Orthodox Judaism and a famed Rosh yeshiva and Talmudist. The epithet Salanter was added to his name since most of his schooling took place in Salant (now the Lithuanian town of Salantai), where he came under the influence of Rabbi Yosef Zundel of Salant. He is the father of mathematician Yom Tov Lipman Lipkin.


The Khappers were employed by the Kahals to fulfill the recruit quotas imposed on the Jewish communities from 1827 to 1857 in the Russian Empire.

The Khappers were employed to kidnap Jewish boys (sometimes as young as eight) to fill out a quota of Jews required to enter the cantonist schools, in preparation for service in the Russian Army, in the situations where such quotas were not filled legally, due to attempts by the families to hide their children. The term is a 19th-century colloquialism that comes from the Yiddish word for grabber.

Meir Simcha of Dvinsk

Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843–1926) was a rabbi and prominent leader of Orthodox Judaism in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. He was a kohen, and is therefore often referred to as Meir Simcha ha-Kohen ("Meir Simcha the Kohen"). He is known for his writings on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, which he titled Ohr Somayach, as well as his novellae on the Torah, titled Meshech Chochma.

Mikhail Mil

Mikhail Leontyevich Mil (Russian: Михаи́л Лео́нтьевич Миль; 22 November 1909 – 31 January 1970), aerospace engineer, scientist. Founder and general designer of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant.

Nicholas I of Russia

Nicholas I (Russian: Николай I Павлович, tr. Nikolay I Pavlovich; 6 July [O.S. 25 June] 1796 – 2 March [O.S. 18 February] 1855) was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855. He was also the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He is best known as a political conservative whose reign was marked by geographical expansion, repression of dissent, economic stagnation, poor administrative policies, a corrupt bureaucracy, and frequent wars that culminated in Russia's defeat in the Crimean War of 1853–56. His biographer Nicholas V. Riasanovsky says that Nicholas displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier—a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. In his public persona, says Riasanovsky, "Nicholas I came to represent autocracy personified: infinitely majestic, determined and powerful, hard as stone, and relentless as fate." His reign had an ideology called "Official Nationality" that was proclaimed officially in 1833. It was a reactionary policy based on orthodoxy in religion, autocracy in government, and Russian nationalism. He was the younger brother of his predecessor, Alexander I. Nicholas inherited his brother's throne despite the failed Decembrist revolt against him and went on to become the most reactionary of all Russian leaders. His aggressive foreign policy involved many expensive wars, having a disastrous effect on the empire's finances.

He was successful against Russia's neighbouring southern rivals as he seized the last territories in the Caucasus held by Persia (comprising modern day Armenia and Azerbaijan) by successfully ending the Russo-Persian War (1826–28). By now, Russia had gained what is now Dagestan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia from Persia, and had therefore at last gained the clear upper hand in the Caucasus, both geo-politically as well as territorially. He ended the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829) successfully as well. Later on, however, he led Russia into the Crimean War (1853–56) with disastrous results. Historians emphasize that his micromanagement of the armies hindered his generals, as did his misguided strategy. Fuller notes that historians have frequently concluded that "the reign of Nicholas I was a catastrophic failure in both domestic and foreign policy." On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its geographical zenith, spanning over 20 million square kilometers (7.7 million square miles), but in desperate need of reform.

Sofia Davidovna Miliband

Sofia Davidovna Miliband (17 July 1922, Moscow – 12 February 2017) was a Russian Orientalist and Iranist, author, Doctor of Sciences of history and bibliography.

She was born to David Osipovich Miliband and his wife. Her ancestor Mikhl was a cantonist in Tallinn, while other ancestors lived at Warsaw.

She graduated from the oriental studies department of the MSU Faculty of History and became a research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences working as an Iranist.

She is a second cousin of British Labour Party politicians, David and Ed Miliband.

Spanish ironclad Duque de Tetuán

The floating battery Duque de Tetuán was an ironclad warship, a low-freeboard vessel similar in design to a monitor, of the Spanish Navy, and was constructed during the Third Carlist War to provide coastal defense and fire support for troops ashore. Completed after the end of the conflict for which it was designed, the ship was assigned to the defense of Ferrol. It remained in this duty, though briefly decommissioned in 1897, until it was decommissioned and scrapped in 1900.

Spanish ironclad Tetuán

The Spanish ironclad Tetuán was an armored frigate built in the royal dockyard at Ferrol during the 1860s for the Spanish Navy. She was captured by rebels during the Cantonal Revolution in 1873 and participated in the Battle off Cartagena. While under repair after the battle, the ship was destroyed by fire and broken up in 1874.


Tsam may refer to:

Cham Albanians, a sub-group of Albanians in the northwestern Greece

Cham dance, named tsam (Цам) in Mongolian

There's Something About Mary, a 1998 American romantic comedy film

Tivoli Service Automation Manager, the Cloud management package from IBM

Herzl Yankl Tsam (1835–1915), Jewish cantonist in the Russian Empire

Yakov Kreizer

Yakov Grigorevich Kreizer (Russian: Яков Григорьевич Крейзер; 4 November 1905, Voronezh – 29 November 1969, Moscow) was a Soviet field commander.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.