The Romanian writer Nikolae Milescu (Nikolai Gavrilovich Spafarii) was the author of several books designed for the tsar and the Russian court in the 1670's. Working under the patronage of Tsar Aleksei's favorite, Artamon Matveev, Spafarii composed an account of exemplary monarchs from the past called Vasiliologion. He presented ancient and Biblical monarchs as just and wise but also as great conquerors and builders of cities, even when they were pagans. His portrait of Russian monarchs was closer to traditional Orthodox conceptions, but still stressed military victory and building. Spafarii was one of the first writers in Russia to introduce the Aristotelian political terms, monarchy and aristocracy.
The Illustrated Chronicle Compilation, one of the great projects of Ivan the Terrible’s reign, included a full Russian translation of the History of the Destruction of Troy by the thirteenth century Sicilian judge, Guido delle Colonne. A prose version of a French romance of chivalry, the text fits poorly with our conceptions of sixteenth century Russian culture. Was it history or fiction? Was it secular, or is that term not useful? Partial answers come from references to the text by the boyar V. M. Tuchkov, Ivan himself, and the use of the text by later authors after the Time of Troubles.
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.