It was the urban and rural poor... from whom Razin won his largest following, that vast floating population of the Don and Volga valleys—Cossacks and streltsy, peasants and tribesmen, convicts and vagrants—who lived on the edge of starvation and responded eagerly to revolutionary agitation. Among the first to join were the Volga boatmen...
Aside from the larger peasant element in Razin's movement, the Cossacks also took a more prominent part, serving as its spearhead and most effective fighting force. An interesting feature was that the social conflict dividing the country as a whole was reproduced in miniature along the Don, where the “naked” Cossacks locked horns with the more prosperous downstream elements. Razin, as his followers sang, refused to “walk with the elders” or to “think as they thought,” but preferred to harness his chariot to the propertyless golytbá and to challenge the privileged stratum from which he himself had sprung. The tribes of the Volga were another group which rose in greater strength than before... The clergy, too, participated in unprecedented numbers... Finally, the towns once more occupied a central place... In the garrison towns of the frontier, streltsy mutinies were more serious than any in the past... and foreshadowed the great streltsy revolts of the end of the century which led Peter the Great to disband this volatile group once and for all.
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