Parish and Church building of NorthWestern Russia in 16-18 cc.
The main idea of the project
is to consider a wide picture of rural church building in North-Western
parts of Russia. The region selected • Novgorod and Pscov Lands, Bezetsky
Verch, The Velikie Luki, the Novy Torg and the Toropets districts
• were joined to Moscow state at the late 15th • early 16th cc. At the
same time before the joining those territories have been in different cultural
conditions. Some of them were more or less independent subcultures; strong
neighbors • Moscow and Lithuania, influenced others. That circumstance
determines the main trait of the project • its comparative character.
The chronological limits of the project: 16th • 18th cc. depend of such
case. The 16th century is a time which the main sources • record books
• belong to. At the same time the 16th c. is a period of the beginning
of Moscow subculture spreading to the North-Western territories. It is
also the beginning of the Moscow church structure unification. The 18th
c. is finishing our project because for that century local particulars
of North-West were totally eliminated and in the next 19th c. the parish
system was regular on the whole territory of empire.
The main objectives of the project are:
To regard the process of church and parish building of North-Western Russia
as a factor influenced the rural settling. The specifics of North-Western
Russia, its isolation from the central parts of Moscow State determined
the character of rural settling. The most specific event in this case is
the pogost division. Pogost in Novgorod and Pscov Lands in the first
years after joining to Moscow are immediately an administrative, fiscal,
court and parish center. In the very first years after joining pogost became
also a record unit. The process of making this system belongs to pre-Moscow
time, possibly • to 14th-15th cc. But originally
pogost appears as a parish unit and its appearing is sure connects with
the building of a church. We are looking for the roots of appearing of
the pogost system, which are connected with the roots of the Christianization
of the Russian North-West. In 16th-18th cc. the combination
of different pogost?tm)s function disappear. One of the main reasons for
in is the influence of Moscow subculture. May be the looking for the roots
of North-Western pogost are a main aim of our project.
To trace the determinants of Novgorod and Pscov rural churches dedications
in the context of connections with neighbor regions of different subculture
(Lithuania, Moscow). After joining Moscow State the spread of the Moscow
subculture natives to North-West appeared. Those natives were gentlemen,
landowners • “dvoryane” and “dety boyarskie” • czar?tm)s warriors and officials
who took land in the joined regions. Little later such gentlemen took lands
in Toropets district that former belong to Lithuania. Earlier, in 15th
c. the spread of Moscowians to Novy Torg and Bezetsky Verch began. We had
already considered the picture of rural altar dedication in some local
regions of Novgorod Land after 1500. Our considerations shows that
about this time new cults have spread to Novgorod Land • the cult of Trinity,
of Paraskeva-Pyatnitsa, etc. The record books have told us that it was
landowner that initiated those churches and altars to build. Just the landowners
determined the dedication of altar they built. It is interesting to compare
how have the dedications spread depending of the time of joining to Moscow
and of a power of influence of another powerful Orthodox center • Lithuania.
To determine how did the making of rural parish?tm)s progress in different
regions of North-Western Russia. Our preliminary considerations shows that
in the middle 16th c. in Novgorod and maybe in Pscov Land a
great scale process of the building of new churches have been progressing.
New churches were built, the new altar were added to old churches. In the
same time the old system of pogosts-parishes became to collapse and new
parishes with the centers in large villages • residences of landowners
• becomes smaller. Finally the old pre-Moscow pogost system collapsed after
the Time of Troubles 1605-1618. when the main part of rural churches had
been destroyed. Our task is to trace the history and the particulars of
each of the North-Western parish (number about 1500) from the appearing
till the end of 18th c.
To consider the process of making a social group of rural church attendants
as one of possible sources for Russian middle class forming in the 18th
c. In this case we need to look for the fate of each church attendant of
16th • 18th cc., where it is possible. The study
of social group of rural clergy is an important part of the project. There
are two opinions in native historiography on this theme. Some historians
told that all the priests were elected ones and the peasants elected them.
Others said that the priests had inherited their positions from the most
ancient time, and from the early Middle Ages there had been a closed caste
of clergy. Our opinion is that there were priest elections but the bishops
were to establish them. Meanwhile the close character of clergy social
group becomes only from the beginning of 18th c. (from the Peter
the Great's reforms). Russian rural clergy was little investigated at all.
We know very few about it. Very often some researchers (P.Bushkovitch,
etc) considers the history of Russian medieval church as a history of spiritual
movements only, distinguishing the monuments of monastic thought (P.Bushkovitch
wrote that rural clergy (“white clergy”) was practically “nameless”). One
of our tasks is to return the names to this clergy back. Just this social
group, not differed greatly from the peasants in its everyday life, played
a very significant role in the life of rural community because of its total
literacy. The beginnings of enlightenment in Russian countryside are connected
just with this group. This group was maximally mobile, especially in 1500
• 1620. Then the changes that begun in the Romanovs?tm) reign conserved
that social level of rural clergy. In the 17th c. the initiators
of Schisma came just from this stock, in the 18th c. the sectarians
appears also among the junior clergy and in 19th c. a great
number of Russian revolutionaries, terrorists also came from the clergy
The process of rural clergy forming in 16th c. is also of great
interest. Our preliminary regards show that in some parts of Novgorod land
(Vodskaya pyatina) a typical Novgorod standard of parish clergy formed
up to 1500. During the 16th c. its structure changed and up
to the end of the century it had no differences with the Moscow standards.
Meanwhile after the joining Moscow State small native landowners (local
social group named “svoezemtsy”) were in the clergy. Later, in 17th
and especially in 18th cc. the transfer from one estate to other
was practically impossible. It is one of the aims of a project to consider
such processes in other North-Western Lands.
Methods to be used:
The main sources of the project are record books. Just in that books
one could find the earliest data on the church building. A very small part
of record books were published in the 19th • the beginning of
20th cc. The great number of them is in the archives of St.
Petersburg, Moscow, Novgorod, and Pscov. Also the other deeds especially
connected with landownership is to be used. This material is very important
for the revealing rural clergy. The taking part in each rural deed was
necessary for clergy until the 19th c. Practically each local
deed has a signature of priest and was written by church official.
The first stage of the project is creating databases on church and clergy
of North-Western Russia according to the archive and published data. The
database will be composed in the form of electronic card index of local
churches of Russian North-West including the materials about clergy (names,
years of serving, circumstances of life). At the present time I have created
such database for 100 churches of Vodskaya pyatina (totally we suppose
to study 1500 churches of North-West).
The next stage is the statistical processing of information including:
the revealing main tends of church dedication, geographical spread of churches
and parishes, the dimensions of parishes, genealogy of clergy, family ties
between them. This stage also includes the cartographying of the received
data. It is clear that we are to compare not only large regions with each
other but also local microregions. I suppose that we are to create a number
of “map-cuttings” for it. We should use raster copies of Geoinformatic
database from the CD-ROM “Россия.
1000 карт” (1000 maps of Russia). СПб., “Ингит”, 1997. The maps and plans
of General Land Survey of 18th c. are also very important
for creating those maps. These materials let us to reveal the churches
lost in the Time of Troubles in the beginning of 17th c.
The comparison of the results of different regions of Russian North-West
is the last stage of our project. I suppose to separate the regions with
maximal concentration of churches, regions with stable number of churches
during all the period and regions with parish system collapsed. The determination
of the time of strict succession of church positions by the relatives (was
it before Peter the Great?tm)s reforms or earlier) is also a significant
aspect of the results.
Significance, Dissemination: The problem state in the project has not
been lightened in native historiography since 1900. This theme is practically
forgotten and is not included into University course “Church history”,
etc. Probably publication of the results or as a series of articles either
an atlas could create a serious methodic basis for creation of new course
“Russian Church history”. Such a publication is possible with the drawing
interest from municipal administration on the basis of the Center for Studying
Russian Rural Culture at the St. Petersburg Brunch of Russian Research
Institute for Cultural and Natural Heritage.