Russian colonism of the Pacific Rim included religious missions which sought to perform baptisms. As an incentive to conversion, baptized native men were exempted from imperial fur tax (they then had to tithe to the church, but this may have been a relatively advantageous position.)

As women never had to pay fur tax, they must have had other motivations for converting to Orthodox Christianity. What were those?

2 Answers 2


To some, religion is very import.

In an era when opportunities for women were significantly less than those for men, women often had to marry to ensure their own survival. Women had much less freedoms than they do now.

Mixed religious marriages were not well tolerated. For the sake of harmony, social cohesion and survival it was easier to adopt the religion of the person one was marrying.

If the local men were converting to orthodoxy, then that's what the women did.


Native Siberian women were often in forced or voluntary relationships with Russian Cossacks. Baptizing these women pleased the Church, which earned souls, and their new husbands, who got assurance that their future children would be considered Russian. The Empire didn't lose fur income as it would from the baptism of native men, so it too was happy with this outcome.

Sources: Slezkine, "Arctic Mirrors", pp. 43-44; Miller, "Kodiak Kreol", pp. 15.

  • Anecdotally, women still seem more likely to convert to their husband's religion, under certain circumstances - Peter Philip's wife (the Princess Royal's son) , to retain his (distant) place in the succession, converted from Roman Catholicism- and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark became Lutheran.
    – TheHonRose
    Oct 29, 2018 at 23:52

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