The Swiss colony "Shabo" in the Russian Empire. About the history and the founder Louis Vincent Tarden

Term Paper, 2020

18 Pages


Louis Vincent Tardent: a view from a different angle

In the XVIII century, the Russian government, interested in settling the lands captured from the Mongol nomads on the Volga and conquered from the Turks in the south of the country, needed diligent, capable specialists, and above all, the peasants. For this purpose, Empress Catherine II, and later Alexander I invited foreign immigrants. In 1762, the manifesto of Catherine II of December 4 declared: "... we allow all foreigners to enter our Empire and settle where anyone wishes in all our Provinces…". However, it had no success [9, P. 24].

On July 22, 1763, Catherine published her second, already revised manifesto. According to this manifesto, immigrants were promised large plots of land, exemption "for ever" from recruiting duties, as well as taxes for 30 years, an interest-free loan (to build houses, establish livestock, purchase agricultural equipment, supplies, etc.), which should be paid after 10 years, obtaining the right to engage in crafts, “to start factories and other necessary crafts, to trade, to join guilds and workshops, and everywhere to sell their products in the Empire”; settle in colonies, freely profess any religion, import their property duty free, etc. [9, P. 24-25].

This was the beginning of the “great migration of peoples” from European countries to Russia, which lasted about 100 years. It intensified in connection with the ruin of European countries by the Napoleonic wars. Germans, Swedes, Italians, Swiss and other nationalities rushed to Russia in a large flow [28, P. 25-30].

Foreign immigrants came mainly with entire families, and colonies were founded in the new place of residence.1

One of these settlements was the Swiss colony of Chabag1, formed in Bessarabia, in the south of the Russian Empire in 1822. Despite all the hardships that fell on the shoulders of the colonists, over time, in the 80s of the XIX century, Shabo became "the richest colony in Russia" [31, P. 38].

The issues of provisions for the formation of the Shabo colony, its origin and development in the first years of its existence were studied by a number of researchers (L. Gander, E.I. Druzhinina, H. Gander-Wolf, J. Tardent, O. Grivat, V.F. Onoprienko and others). - It is typical for the authors above that, one way or another, to assign a certain role to the person who they call the founder of the colony Louis Vincent Tardent. Here is a brief analysis of the publications of the above mentioned and other authors concerning this name.

In 1908, Louis Gander published an article 24 on the history of Shabo. It describes the preparation of the colonists for a long campaign, compiles a list of them, and also displays the first difficulties of the settlers on the way and in a new place. Here L.V. Tardent is designated as one of the organizers of the risky event: “On August 13, 1820, we see him (L. V. Tardent, note by author) as a part of the first committee, whose responsibilities included determining of the location for the Shabo colony. On his side were winegrowers Jean Lucien Gerry, Georges Amelli Testu, Jacob Samuel Chevalley, Francois Louis Petit. The Assembly sent Tardent to explore the lands in distant Bessarabia, where Tsar Alexander I promised to allocate the fertile lands taken from Turkey” [24, P. 13].

The “Tardentiad” began in 1925 when a descendant of the Tardents, the French engineer A. Anselm published his letters, rewritten in 1922 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Shabo colony 23 (Russian translation by V.F. Shishmaryov, 1979).

In the study by E.I. Druzhinina 10, the history of the Shabo colony, which occupies no more than 3 pages of text in the book, is considered as one of the many fragments of the development of the entire south of Ukraine. It shows only the main achievements of the colony and, of course, the analysis of the personality of the founder of the colony and the motives of his activities were not included in the author's plans. The same can be said about the article by M.A. Borodina (3, 1964), to which E.I. Druzhinina repeatedly refers.

One of the most serious works on this issue seems to us to be the dissertation by H. Gander-Wolf 25, a significant part of which (paragraphs 2.1, 2.3) is devoted to the preparation for the formation of the colony and the time of the reign of the colony L.V. Tardan (1822-1831). H. Gander-Wolf substantiates the relevance of her work as follows (abbreviated translation by the author): 1) there is not a single detailed publication about Shabo, although there are many interesting short reports in newspapers and informational bulletins; 2) most of them depend on each other or have the form of a resume (generalization); 3) existing publications mainly describe life in the colony in the last decade of its existence; 4) they superficially reflect the circumstances of the colony; 5) it is necessary to generalize these circumstances in order to better understand life in the colony [25, P. 11].

Further, the author indicates that the source of her work is a collection of copies of letters of L.V. Tardent, sent to Switzerland and preserved there in the archives. H. Gander-Wolf has no more documents of this period at her disposal: “We could not find out with which of the representatives of the Russian government he [Tardent] was negotiating. It is only known that in the autumn of 1821 he wrote a letter to his fellow countrymen in which he asked them to go to Russia so that in the spring of 1822 they would start agricultural work in their new homeland ”[25, P. 45]. Below we present some fragments of Tardent’s correspondence with Russian officials (with I.N. Inzov, Chief Trustee of the colonists of the southern region of Russia; with V.P. Kochubey, Minister of the Interior, and others), as well as excerpts from other archival documents that we received in research process.

In 1982, the Swiss Australian Jules Tardent published the book "The Swiss-Australian Tardent family history and genealogy" 29. Excerpts from this book are used by journalist O. Grivat in describing the activities of L.V. Tardent in his work (26, 1993).

Some fragments from the work of O. Grivat are used in the book by V.F. Onoprienko (14, 2009). This book contains archival material, but its comments are mainly devoted to the achievements of the colonists and most often they are mere quotes from the book by E.I. Druzhinina 10 or literal translations from O. Grivat 26.

Thus, we see that all or almost all information relating to the personality of L.V. Tardent and his role in the development of Shabo, is based on his own letters and / or was published by his descendants A. Anselm and J. Tardent. It is no coincidence that in the film dedicated to the founding of the Shabo colony, which is being demonstrated to visitors at the Shabo Wine Culture Center, apart from Tardent no other name is mentioned, though it is matter of fact that development of viticulture and winemaking in Shabo was not his own exclusive prerogative.

Such an approach to reporting on events which took place almost two hundred years ago seems to us largely subjective. The documents we received from the Swiss, Ukrainian and Russian archives allow us to cast doubt on the current legend about the “daring scientist”, “friend of Pushkin and Pestalozzi” - Louis Vincent Tardent.

What was this man really?

According to the description of O. Grivat, with reference to J. Tardent, we learn this about the family of his famous ancestor: “Louis Vincent Tardent was the 10th child of Jacques David Tardent, from Ormont Dessus and his wife Marie Cherie. He was born on December 14, 1787 in Vevey, on January 4, 1788 he was baptized there.2 Louis Vincent Tardent died in 1836 in Chabag. His father, Jacques David Tardent, was an uninteresting, grouchy, and power-hungry man who sowed fear around him. He died of alcohol in 1825 ”[26, P. 11]. "L.V. Tardent’s grandfather, David Tardent, was an educated and respected man in the town of Vevey - regent2 of the college, which he headed for 44 years and retired at 78 years. He died on 21/02/1820 ... David Tardent was one of the initiators of the school reform, an ardent admirer of J.J. Rousseau and his educational ideas ”[26, P. 12-13, see also 14, P. 17].

About L.V. Tardent O. Grivat writes: “Louis Vincennes Tardent received his education at the college in Vevey, where his grandfather worked. There, until 1813, he taught natural history (histoire naturelle) and calligraphy. He was a lover of music and singing, traded musical instruments. Then he opened a private school in order to better put into practice the teachings of Pestalozzi. Children of the local elite quickly began to relate to his students... ”[26, P. 11, see also 14, P. 17].

However, we find a slightly different description from J. Tardent (abbreviated text by the author): “Louis Vincent Samuel Tardent was the eldest son of Jacques David ... After graduating from elementary school, David (grandfather of L.V. Tardent, a note by the Author) sent his grandson at the Pestalozzi school in Yverdon, where he studied until 1804. In 1805, he began his studies at Parish College in Vevey. After its completion, on the recommendation of his grandfather, he was hired at the same school, where he worked until 1813, taught natural history and calligraphy... ”[29, P. 121]. “... Tardent was fond of music and singing and was on the board of the music society. He opened a music store, trading instruments. It was hard for him to feed his family. To this end, he opened a school, where he used to give additional lessons... ”[29, P. 122].

In his letters to Russian statesmen L.V. Tardent indicates his numerous titles: "Your humble servant, Tardent, agronomist, botanist, member of the Society of Swiss naturalists, naturalist, member of Swiss winegrowers in the canton of Vaud, adviser to one of the Swiss musical societies" [20, P. 2, 6, 13, 17; reverse sides of P. 30, 35].

The description of the merits of Tardent continues by O. Grivat: "... Louis Vincent Tardan is professor, botanist, winemaker, member of the Swiss Society of Natural Sciences, university member, man of high culture, ... partner and friend of an exceptional teacher Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. He received his pedagogical training at the castle of Yverdon and corresponded with Pestalozzi until his death in 1827 ”[26, P. 10, see also 14, P. 17]. "J.H. Pestalozzi recommended Louis Vincent Tardent to Frédéric-César de La Harpe3 as a good teacher, scientist and fine winegrower", writes J. Tardent [29, P. 121] and H. Gander-Wolf, referring to the publication by A. Ansel , a descendant of L.V. Tardent [25, P. 38].

And here is what the official archive documents say (abridged translation of the author):

1. David Tardent, grandfather of L.V. Tardent, from November 1771, he worked as regent at school at the Parish College of Vevey. He taught in 5th grade. In the same school, in the 4th year, his eldest son Vincent worked, after the death of which in 1794 his father took over this class. David Tardent's youngest son worked in 5th grade. There is no information in the archives on the work of Louis Vincent Tardent in this school 16.
2. There is no document in the archives which would testify to the formation of Louis Vincent Tardent's own school. There is no date, no district, where this school would be after 1813 ”15.
3. There is no document in the archives attesting that the Tardents were hereditary winemakers and had a direct or indirect relationship with the winemaking. They had no land around Vevey. In the land register of the municipalities around Vevey, there is no record of the presence of property belonging to the Tardent family, with the exception of a house in the Vieux Matzel district of Vevey [15, 18 ].
4. There is no information in the archives about the viticulture and wine-making education of L.V. Tardent, reported by Russian researchers V. Onoprienko et al., as well by J.Tardent, a descendant of L.V. Tardent. The only known fact is that he hails from the area between Lavaux and Castle of Chillon, which had been known as a wine-making area since the Middle Ages [15, 18].
5. The fact that Pestalozzi recommended L.V. Tardent to Frédéric-César de La Harpe, as a good teacher, scientist and excellent winegrower, is not confirmed with the archival documents 15.
6. Name of L.V. Tardent does not appear in the lists of students of the Pestalozzi school 17.

Let us also pay attention to the following fact: the private school of Pestalozzi in Yverdon (in some sources it is called the “institute”) existed from 1805 to 1825. [2, P. 463]. Therefore, until 1804, as stated by J. Tardent (see above), his illustrious ancestor simply could not attend the Pestalozzi school.

Similarly in the process of working on the topic of our study, we did not find any information confirming the correspondence between Louis Tardan and Henry Pestalozzi “until his death”.

Descendants of L.V. Tardent call their famous ancestor also “a friend of A.S. Pushkin".

In her documentary book 14 V.F. Onoprienko, referring to L.A. Chereysky (22 ) writes that “Friendship between A.S. Pushkin and L.V. Tardent was not interrupted (both of them were members of the Masonic Lodge in Chișinău) ”[14, P. 18]. Indeed, both Tardent and Pushkin were members of the Ovid Masonic Lodge, No. 25 in Chișinău. But the statement about their mutual friendship is doubtful. On P. 430 in the book by L.A. Chereysky 22 there is a record concerning L.V. Tardent, to which V.F. Onoprienko makes her reference. However, there is no mention of any kind of friendship, and in particular about "uninterrupted" one. Perhaps the reference was used only to confirm the involvement of both in the Masonic lodge, and information about their friendship was taken from sources other than known to the Tardent descendants?

Without going into details regarding the interpretation of the concept of "friendship", we turn to the opinion of Pushkin scholars.

The book of B.A. Trubetskoy “Pushkin in Moldova” 21 has a biographical dictionary. In this dictionary, the author placed the names of all people (245 persons) with whom Pushkin was familiar during the Chișinău exile (September 1820 - July 1823). Herein, four of them are defined as “friend” or “close friend”. Among others, under number 220 (alphabetically), this dictionary also contains an entry about L.V. Tardent: “The naturalist, Swiss, the founder of the colony in Shabo, which was visited by A.S. Pushkin in 1821. Tardent was also a member of the Masonic lodge "Ovid", No. 25". As can be seen, there is no mention of any friendly relations.

I.P. Liprandi4, accompanying the poet at his meeting with Tardent, recalled: “In the morning I wanted to see the Swiss Tardent, who had established a colony in the village of Shabo, three miles south of Akkerman. Pushkin came with me. He liked Tardent very much, and Tardent, who satisfied the countless questions of my companion, liked Pushkin. We stayed for two hours and took Tardent with us to dine with Nepenin. Having had lunch, we went to Izmail at six o’clock ”[13, P. 306]. And here is an excerpt from the book by Yu.I. Druzhnikov: “Russian masonry was practically cut off from European Freemasonry and was coming to naught. And Pushkin was losing interest in it.

The only thing that brightened up his existence in the Chișinău desert were guests from abroad. He joyfully rushes to everyone, hoping to "breathe clean European air." While Liprandi goes about his business on a business trip, Pushkin meets Louis Vincent Tardent, the founder of the Swiss colony of Shabo near Akkerman.


1 Russian name Shabo.

2 Regent is a teacher at a primary school in Switzerland.

3 Frédéric de la Harpe was the educator of Emperor Alexander I and came from the canton of Vaud. The Chabag settlement was organized with his participation.

4 Liprandi, I.P. (1790-1880), major general, was a historian and a senior member of the secret police.

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The Swiss colony "Shabo" in the Russian Empire. About the history and the founder Louis Vincent Tarden
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Louis Vincent Tardent, swiss colonists in Russia, swiss vinegrowers in Russia, swiss vine-growers in Russia, swiss colonisation south Ukraine, swiss village Osnova, Osnova on the Dnieper
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Georgiy Molotkov (Author), 2020, The Swiss colony "Shabo" in the Russian Empire. About the history and the founder Louis Vincent Tarden, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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