The Church and Russian Foreign Policy, 1480–1725

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  • 1 Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

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Abstract

Russian historians have traditionally seen the church as merely the handmaiden of the state. Yet in the realm of foreign policy the heads of the Orthodox Church in Russia played a distinct role from the end of the fifteenth century to peter’s time. They were participants in the most important decisions (though not in routine affairs), especially about war and peace. In wartime the metropolitans and bishops produced exhortations to the army. In the sixteenth century these were not only calls to fight the infidel but frequently sermons to the Russians to be better Christians. After the mid-seventeenth century the sermons at the time of war, now in Western rhetorical style, came from a wider group of clergy and were more uniformly calls to fight for Orthodoxy. In Peter’s time such sermons became secular justifications for the wars.

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