The historiography of sixteenth-century Church parties may have arisen from historians’ misinterpreting the use of the terms “band of Josephian monks” (cheti Osiflianskikh mnikhov) and the “non-possessor way of life” (nestiazhatel’noe zhitel’stvo) by the author of The History of the Grand Prince of Moscow. But he does not juxtapose these terms against each other. Those monks who live the non-possessor way of life are, instead, directly contrasted with those who love possession (liubostiazhatel’nye), but neither they nor the Josephians are described as a Church party, let alone one that had an “ideology”. The monks in The History who loved possessions are not identified with the Josephians, nor are the monks who follow the non-possessor way of life identified with the Trans-Volga elders. Another attempt to find the antecedent of the Church parties model were historians who cite the use by Zinovii Otenskii of the term nestiazhatel’ in relation to Vassian Patrikeev, but he too was not using the term in the sense of a Church party. These attempts are examples of “thick interpretation”; that is, imposing on the source testimony an outside construct that is not contained within it.
The dominant construct to explain early sixteenth-century internal Russian Church relations was for over a hundred years one of conflict between two parties – the Possessors (a.k.a. Josephians) and the Non-Possessors (a.k.a. Trans-Volga Elders). Source-based research challenged that conflict model by demonstrating that Iosif Volotskii, the presumed leader of the Possessors, and Nil Sorskii, the presumed leader of the Non-Possessors, and their disciples and followers were not antagonists but collaborators with each other. Nonetheless, the Church parties model has continued being used to explain Russian Church relations for the mid-sixteenth-century. Yet, it is just as faulty to explain the evidence of mid-century as it is for earlier. Evidence, instead of being analyzed, is shoehorned to fit the model. The Church parties-in-conflict model is a historiographical construct that obstructs rather than informs understanding the source testimony. That testimony is far more complex and nuanced than the simplistic Church parties model allows for.
This scholar’s work on Nil Sorskii and Iosif Volotskii progressed unevenly from adhering to Ia.S. Lur’e’s modification of the traditional Nil vs. Iosif paradigm to a strident assertion of their collaborative alliance promoting monasticism and resolutely opposing dissidence, with a mixture of intersection and compatible differences of emphasis in their original writings. But one must concede the possibility that Nil’s collaboration did not include support of Iosif’s enthusiastic endorsement of monasterial riches, the commemoration culture that bolstered it, and the harshest measures against convicted heretics. And while in in no way provable, one cannot know for certain that Nil did not speak up in some way against monasterial riches at a Moscow synod in 1503.
In Ivan the Terrible: Free to Reward and Free to Punish I contradicted myself in discussing the possible existence of church parties in Muscovy. After accepting Ostrowski’s argument that Iosif Volotskii and Nil Sorskii did not belong to antagonistic “parties,” I followed Goldfrank’s earlier publications that there were Josephan and Non-Possessor “parties” after the deaths of their “founders.” I proposed that the Josephans were an old-boy network in Iosif’s time and then promptly dropped that concept in discussing the rest of the sixteenth century. This article attempts to rectify those errors by consistently applying the concept of old-boy network to the Josephans throughout the sixteenth century. Because the persecution of heretics is central to the paradigm of the Josephans as a “party,” this reconsideration entailed engaging the very notion of “heresy” in the Russian Orthodox Church at the time. It also proposes that the paradigm of antagonistic church parties, the Josephans and the Non-Possessors / Trans-Volga Elders, originated in Prince Andrei Kurbsky’s History of the Grand Prince of Moscow.
The existence of parties in the Russian Orthodox Church 1480–1580 does not imply parties in the sense of coherent ideological groupings, as Don Ostrowski, David Goldfrank and Charles Halperin correctly argue. Iosif Volotskii and Nil Sorskii had complementary, not rival views. The issue of monastic lands was about regulation, not confiscation, and the parties were actually “old boy networks”. The Russian story needs a Byzantine context for the treatment of heresies, monastic lands, and other issues. Byzantium had different practices than the West, and so did the Russians. Western practice and terminology is not relevant.
This article analyzes changes in both the nominal and real salaries of Russian officials and officers. The study draws upon data concerning provincial administrations, which employed a significant portion of officials, and the infantry, in which most of the officer corps served, from the introduction of monetary salaries in 1763 (for officials) and in 1711 (for officers) to 1913. A table of the changes in nominal salaries was compiled from legislative and regulatory documents, and, with the use of a consumer price index constructed by the author, time series of the real salaries of officials and officers of various ranks were obtained by decades over 150 years.