We have heard a lot about the Yussupov business empire. But little is known about who created it and how large was it. While reading the book “THE BEGINNINGS OF RUSSIAN INDUSTRALIATION” by William J Blackwell of Princeton University, I came across interesting info on Yussupovs. In the chapter “NOBLES AS ENTREPRENUER AND INVESTOR” , he writes about the Yussupov and Sheremetev families. I wish to share this info with other members of this forum. It will help us understand the Yussupov and Sheremetev finances.
On page 202, He writes:
“ The Sheremetevs with over 2,00,000 serfs were the greatest landlords of old Russia. Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev and his son Dimitri Petrovich Sheremetev , had no interest in either state or military service or in increasing their wealth . They were grands seignuers of the old school whose primary occupation , economically speaking was to spend their family fortune. The father concentrated in building palaces wile the son found religious solace in extravagant philanthropy. Apart from their eccentricities and obsessions, both spend largest amount of their annual income on maintenance of the household. These were constant and increasing costs , which absorbed most of the Sheremetev money unproductively , since little attempt was made to amortize the debts or cut back on foreign teachers and their expensive salaries. Bulk of the Sheremetev income came from the obrok of their empire of peasants. In 1859, this amounted to 589,000 roubles out of a total annual income of 702,000 roubles. The pittance gained from sale of produce testifies to lack of commercialization of Sheremetev agriculture in pre-reform period.”
On page 203, he writes about the Yussupovs :
“The Iusupov budgets during the early 19th century present interesting contrasts and resemblances to those of Prince Kurakin and Count Sheremetev. Unlike his contemporaries, Boris Nikolaevich Iusupov, who ruled the family domains during the reign of Nicholas I was the most entrepreneurial of the great Russian magnates. More than any other wealthy Russian landlord, the Iusupovs attempted to industrialise their estates and derived a major part of their income from their factories. On the other hand they consumed with an extravagance that can only be called magnificent. They borrowed with equal flourish.By the beginning of nineteenth century , the Iusupov holdings constituted a kind of agrarian empire. In 1806, 198 villages , in 9039 sq miles of property (222,143 desiatinas ) where 17,239 serfs served the family interest. A central and local hub was created to rule this empire. At the hub were Moscow and St Petersburg chancelleries , which sent out inspectors to regional administrations. The center for Iusupov administration in Ukraine was a major economic center in itself, a town of 2,320 inhabitants with shops, warehouses, factories, mills, barracks, administrative buildings,a tavern and a hospital.The cost of this administration was great but it did not even begin to match the personal expenses of Nikolai Borisovich Iusupov, a retired dignitary of Catherinean era. To finance his kingly scale of living , Iusupov bought estates , borrowed money, mortgaged serfs but above all he built factories. From first third of nineteenth century , from 25 to 50 % of Iusupov income came from these estate factories. These factories produced wool for the government , but also silk for consumer market. Attempts were made to increase production by introducing modern machinery. Boris Nikolaevich Iusupov succeeded to family estates in 1830’s. His soviet historian has classified him as “Landlord Entrepreneur” who quit the state service in 1837 to devout himself entirely to his properties , who was interested in making money and who introduced many reforms in Iusupov administration.”
This answers a lot of questions about where the Yussupov finances came from. It is sad so little is known about Prince Boris Nikolaevich Yussupov. I believe he must have been a great man.