History of Tobol'sk

It was founded by Yermak Timofeyevich's Cossacks in 15851586 during the first Russian advance into Siberia near the ruins of the Khanate of Sibir's capital, Qashliq. It became the seat of the Viceroy of Siberia and prospered on trade with China and Bukhara. It was there that the first school, theater, and newspaper in Siberia were established. After the Swedish defeat at Poltava in 1709, large numbers of prisoners were sent to Tobolsk. They numbered about 25% of the total population. Many of them were not repatriated until the 1720s, and some of them settled permanently in Tobolsk.

 A map from a 1773 atlas showing Tobolsk as the center of a large Tobolskokrug and of an even larger so-called "Province of Tobolsk", as well as the "Capital of Siberia"

After administrative division of the territory, Tobolsk remained the seat of the Governor-General of Western Siberia until the seat was moved to Omsk in the 1820s or 1830s. Bowing to the city's authority, many Siberian towns, including Omsk, Tyumen, and Tomsk, had their original arms display the Tobolsk insignia. Omsk honors the legacy to this day.

View of Tobolsk in the 1910s

Until the October Revolution of 1917, the town served as the capital of Tobolsk Governorate. Some of the Decembrists were exiled and lived there as well. The town's importance declined when the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed it in the 1890s.

In August 1917, after the February Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were brought here to live in relative luxury in the former house of the Governor-General. After the White Army approached the city in spring of 1918, the royal family was moved to Yekaterinburgand shot there, ending the Imperial Romanov Dynasty