Skip to main content

Full text of "Russian dissenters"

See other formats


11 -o C?.^ 

•/ ID 












Oxford University Press 









Oxford Univeesitx Press 


COPYRIGHT, 19 2 1 



This work was begun in 1914 and completed nearly as it stands 
early in 1917, about the time when the Russian Revolution 
began. It is too early yet to trace the fortunes of the Russian 
sects during this latest period, for the contradictory news of 
the struggle is not to be trusted; and few, if any, know what 
is really happening or has happened in unhappy Russia. 
Since, however, the future is largely moulded by the past, 
I trust that my work may be of some use to those who sincerely 
desire to understand and trace out the springs of the Revolu- 

It is not a work of original research. I have only read a 
number of Russian authorities and freely exploited them. I 
have especially used the History of the Russian Raskol by 
Ivanovski (two volumes, Kazan, 1895 and 1897). He was 
professor of the subject in the Kazan Seminary between 1880 
and 1895. He tries to be fair, and in the main succeeds in 
being so. Subbotin, indeed, in a letter to Pobedonostzev, 
Procurator of the Holy Synod, who had consulted him about 
the best manuals on the subject, wrote slightingly of the work; 
but I think unfairly, for the only concrete faults he finds with 
it are, first, that the author allowed himself to use the phrase; 
'the historical Christ,' which had to his ears a rationalist ring; 
and secondly, that he devoted too little space to the Moscow 
Synods of 1654 to 1667. 

Another Russian work I have transferred almost bodily 
to my pages. This is the extremely rare brochure of I. Uzov 
or Yusov, Uusskie Dissidenty, St. Petersburg, 1881. This 
is a work of impartial and independent criticism, and valu- 
able for its numerous and well chosen citations from earlier 
works on the subject. In many cases where I have identified 
these citations I have found them accurate. 

After these two authors, I am most indebted to the works 
of J. V. Liprandi, of H. I. Kostomarov, of Mehukov, of Maca- 
rius, archbishop of Moscow, author of a History of the Raskol, 


published in 1889, of Kelsiev, of whose collectanea about the 
sects several volumes were printed in London between 1860 
and 1870, of Th. Livanov, of our own William Palmer, the 
Historian of the Patriarch Nikon, of Paul Miliukov, of Father 
Palmieri, author of an Italian History of the Russian Church, 
of 0. Novitski, and of a few other authors whose names I 
have given in my pages. 

It remains for me to express my gratitude to those who have 
helped me in my work; first and foremost to the Harvard 
Faculty of Divinity for their adoption of it ; to the Librarian 
of the Widener Library for the generous way he granted me 
every facility for study; to Dr. R. P. Blake for reading the final 
proof-sheets, and giving my readers the benefit of his great 
knowledge of the Russian language; and to Professors George 
Foot Moore and Kirsopp Lake for reading my work in advance. 
If there is any good order in my presentation of the subject, 
it is chiefly due to the latter of my two friends. 


Oxford, 1921. 


BaSjiioTeKa p^jisi ^Tenia ; 0. Hexep- Library for reading; St. Petersburg. 

BpaxcKoe Cjiobo 

B-fecTHHRTb EBporrti; C. IleTepfiypirb 
BicTHHK'b MocKOBCKoft 3napxiH 
rojiocb CTapoo(3pH^n;a 

^pyrb HCTHHBI 

jZIymenojiesHoe HxeHie 

The Brotherly Word. 


Messenger of Europe; St. Petersburg. 

Messenger of the See of Moscow. 

The Voice of the Old believer. 

The Friend of Truth. 

Edifying Reading. 

JKypnaji-b KasKascKoft 3napxiH 

HsB^CTin HMnepaTopcKaro 06iri;ecTBa 
HcTopin H 7I,peBHOCTeH npn Moc- 



MnccioHepcKoe Odosp'feHie 

0630 p'b 

IlepMCKaa 3napxiajii>Haa Fasexa 
IIpaBocjraBHBia Becfe^u 
IIpaBocjiaBHoe Odoap^Hie 
IIpaBOCJiaBHHH Co6ec'fe;iHHK'b 
npaBoc^aBHMH jnyTeBOAHTe.o. 

^ I OliyTHHK1> 

HpHjioaceHie Kt JKypnajiy KajiyHCCKofi 

PyccKia ApxHBXi 
PyccKia B'Scth 
PyccKiH Mip-b 
PyccKaa CiapHHa 

Cjiobo IIpaB^H 
CoBpeMeHHBia JT'^TonncH 
Cxapoodpa^iecKiii BicxHHK'b 



XpHcxiaHCKia ^xenia 

The Affair. 

Journal of the Caucasian See. 


The Proceedings of the Imperial Society 

of History and Antiquities at the 

University of Moscow. 
The Elect One. 

Missionary Review. 
Neva Collection. 

Gazette of the Perus See. 
Orthodox Conversations. 
Orthodox Review. 
Orthodox Conversationalist. 

Orthodox Traveller. 

Supplement to the Journal of the See 

of Kaluga. 
Russian Archive. 
Russian News. 
Russian World. 
Russian Antiquity. 
The Word. 
The Word of Truth. 
Contemporary Chronicles. 
The Old-behever. 
The Old-behever Messenger. 
The Country. 
The Wanderer. 
Works of the Kiev Ecclesiastical 

Christian Readings. 



Preface v 

List of Russian Periodicals Cited vii 

Introduction 1 


Chapter I. The Conditions leading to the Schism .... 13 

Introduction. The Struggle against Centralization. Russia and 
Tartar Influence. Russian Ritualism and Liturgical Controversy. 
Nikon. Nikon's Reforms. The Council of Stoglav. The position 
of affairs in 1655. The Fall of Nikon. From the Fall of Nikon to 
1666. The Council of 1666. 

Appendix to Chapter I 69 

P. Aurelio Palmieri's Account of the Russian Clergy. 

Chapter II. The Early Days of the Schism 79 

The Rebellion at the Solovetski Monastery. The Revolt of 1682. 
The Ukaze of 1685 and its Results. Tsardom and Antichrist. 

Chapter III. The Dispersion 101 

The Settlements of the Popovtsy. The Search for Priests. Epipha- 
nius, the First Raskol Bishop. The Uniat Movement. The Conces- 
sions of Paul I. The Persecution of the Raskol by Nicholas I. The 
Austrian Hierarchy. The General Character of the Popovtsy. 

Chapter IV. The Bezpopovtsy or Priestless Sect .... 151 

The Various Settlements of the Bezpopovtsy. The Stranniki. The 
Netovtsi and the Self-Baptizers. The Prayerless and the Sighers. 
The Intellectual Development of the Bezpopovtsy. Opinion on 
Priesthood and Sacraments. 

Chapter V. The Question of Marriage 189 

Marriage among the Stranniki. Varieties of Opinion among the 
Bezpoptovtsy. Theodosius Vasilev. Ivan Alexiev. I. A. Kovylin. 
The Present Situation. 



Chapter VI. The Organization, Legal Position, and Numbers 

OF the Raskol 215 

Introduction. The Communes of the Vyg. The Communes of 
Sopelok. General Organization. Legal Position of the Raskol. 
Before Peter I. Peter I. Peter III to Alexander I. Nicholas I and 
his Successors, to 1903. The Reforms of 1903. The Number of the 
Raskol. Controversial Propaganda against the Raskol. The PubU- 
cations of the Raskol in Modern Times. 


Introduction 261 

Chapter I. The Dukhobortsy 266 

Chapter II. The Molokanye 289 

The Evidence of their Confession of Faith. The Accounts of Uzov, 
StoUov and Kostomarov. Ivanovski's account. 

Chapter III. The Communists, Stundists and other Small 

Sects 327 

The Communists. The Righthand Brotherhood or Zion's Tidings. 
The Stundists. 


Chapter I. The Khlysty 339 

Chapter II. The Skoptsy 363 



One cannot better approach the study of the Russian 
Dissenters or Raskol (i. e. division, schism) than by repeating 
the words with which I. Uzov begins his work upon them. 
They are these: ''Haxthausen need not have warned Russia 
how serious a peril to her security her dissenters formed, 
nor have warned her to have regard thereto ; ^ as if in order to 
compass their destruction she had not all along resorted to 
the auto-da-fe, the knout, gallows and every sort of slow and 
painful death. Mindful of the proverb: 'Beat a man not 
with a stick, but with roubles,' the Government has imposed 
on them double taxes and curtailed their civil rights. Every 
petty official has been at liberty to help himself out of their 
pockets, and yet dissent has not weakened or diminished; 
on the contrary it has struck roots ever deeper and stronger 
into the life of the people." When at last the Government 
realized that the old system of frank and fearless extermina- 
tion could not stand criticism, it was pretended that the best 
way of getting rid of them was to encourage among them 
reading and writing and general enlightenment. It may be 
that if the Tsar's Government had given all its citizens at the 
least a middle class education. Dissent in the form in which 
it now exists might be weakened. But this was never done. 
Such instruction as was usually reckoned to be good enough 
for peasants was not of a kind to induce them to give up 
dissent, as is shewn by the fact that most dissenters had al- 
ready received it. We have the testimony of an official, 
Liprandi, commissioned by the Government of Nicholas I 
to hold an inquisition into them, that "the range of their 

^ Aug. Haxthausen. Researches into Inner Life of the People of Russia. Han- 
nover, 1847, i, 415. A. H. aims his remark at the Dukhobortsy only. 



activity is not lessened but extended by education." ^ Count 
Stenbok, another official set to study them by the Govern- 
ment, affirms that "Dissent perpetually spreads and becomes 
stronger," that, "notwithstanding a weakening of religious 
interest, their adherents are no weaker as a body," and that 
"all measures taken against them, by the government are up to 
the present unavaihng." - An anonymous authority, S. M. V., 
states as a fact fully known, that "as of old dissent flourished 
upon persecution in secret, so now with freedom (?) it flourishes 
in the open." ^ We could produce many more attestations 
of the kind, but rest content with the above in order to avoid 

Uzov infers that Dissent flourished just the same, no matter 
whether the Government was strict or lenient; and that it did 
so proved that it is not engendered by temporary or transient 
causes, but is founded on deep cravings and satisfies daily 
spiritual needs of individuals. 

Yet "neither Russian administration, nor Russian poHte 
society understands thoroughly what sort of thing Dissent 
is";^ and this not from want of facts accumulated by students, 
but from their onesidedness. By preference they have di- 
rected their attention to the ceremonial pecuUarities which 
distinguish dissent from orthodoxy, without remarking, nay 
rather, without wishing to remark, that the dissenters' out- 
look is framed on quite other principles than those which 
underhe our present social structure. 

"We beUeve," says Uzov, "that the period of social experi- 
ments made on the inarticulate masses is drawing to a close, 
and that we are being driven to the conclusion that ameUora- 
tions of a community must be based on a profound study of 
the nature of the individuals who compose it, because in no 
other case can reforms reap any success. 

"The intellectual and moral characteristics of our people 
are pecuUarly prominent in the Raskol; and that is why a 

* Lectures at Imperial Historical Society in Moscow University for 1870, Bk. 
2, by Liprandi, p. 83. 

2 Kelsiev, IV. 325. Stenbok had in view in particular the Stranniki. 

3 Strannik, 1871, 2nd Art. S. M. V. p. 93. 

* P. Melnikov, Treatise {Pismo) on the Raskol. 


study of it is indispensable for any statesman who desires to 
pursue with even tenour and without groping or guesswork^ 
the pathways of his activities and enterprises." 

I have begun my study of Russian dissent with the above 
words of Uzov, because they rightly insist on the importance 
of understanding the social, moral and religious characteristics 
of a great people in order to obtain a general comprehension 
of its origin and character. 

Dissent, by which I render the word Raskol, implies, like 
our own word 'nonconformist,' the existence of a dominant 
and established Church against whose doctrines, rites, and 
oppressive tendencies (inherent in every such Church) the 
dissenters are permanently in revolt. In Russia this Church 
knows itself under the title of Orthodox, and has been from 
its earliest age, when the first metropoUtan, Leontius was dis- 
patched from Byzantium with a cortege of Greek bishops by 
the patriarch Nicholas Chrysoverghes (983-996), a purely 
exotic, imported and foreign product in all that regards beUefs, 
disciphne and ceremonies. 

In this respect it is in strong contrast with the old Armenian 
Church, in which, in spite of the fact that its doctrine and rites 
were of Greek or Syriac origin, there nevertheless remained 
much that was racy of the soil, in particular the institution of 
animal sacrifice for the sins of the living, for the repose of the 
souls of the dead, and for the support (by the assignment to 
them of the Levitical portions of the victims) of the priest- 
hood. The Christian priest of Armenia was the direct heir 
of the pagan priest who preceded him; the Armenian patriarch 
was for long generations a scion of the Arsacid house which 
occupied the throne, and when that throne finally disappeared 
in the fifth century the Patriarch, or CathoUcos, as he was 
styled, retained a large portion of the loyalty which had 
upheld it against the combined assaults of Roman Emperor 
and Sassanid oppressor. Even as late as the crusading epoch 
the patriarchs of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia boasted 
themselves to be of the old Arsacid hneage. Ecclesiastical 
ofhce in Armenia was based on heredity rather than on charis- 


matic gifts, and none that did not belong to the old priestly 
families could be ordained. 

In Russia, on the other hand, though the old pagan supersti- 
tions long survived, and survive to-day in popular magic and 
song, the orthodox Church never possessed such an odour of 
pagan antiquity as the Armenian. It was in no sense a native 
product; and if the priesthood has tended to become heredi- 
tary, this is because the village popes began to own their 
manses, and the difficulty of providing an incoming parish 
priest with a residence was most easily met by choosing his 
son to succeed him. It was not because sacerdotal gifts ran 
in the blood of certain old famiUes. Of the twenty-four 
successors of Leontius, the first Russian metropohtan (who 
died in 1004 or 1008), there are barely two or three during the 
two hundred and thirty years that preceded the Mongol con- 
quest of Russia that do not bear Greek names, and they were 
all nominees of a patriarch of Byzantium who regarded Kiev 
and Moscow as mere provinces of his own church, or of a 
Greek emperor who regarded the rulers of Moscow as his 

In one respect, however, the Russian Church resembled the 
Armenian, as it did other early Christian Churches, namely in 
the predominance of the monasteries. Greek asceticism took 
firm root among the Slavs. The convent, richly endowed 
with fields, villages and serfs, was the teaching church; and 
until Peter the Great forbade its inmates the use of pens and 
ink, it was the home of all the intellectual work, and of all the 
wTiters of the land. The parish priests, who must be married 
men, have never counted. They are an inferior order of beings, 
in spite of their white habihments. The higher clergy and 
episcopate have been recruited among the cowled and black- 
coated monks. Peter the Great made a fierce attack on the 
monasteries, raised the age of the noviciate to thirty, reduced 
the number of monks by half, made most of them work with 
their hands, denied them paper and ink in order to prevent 
them from describing liim as Antichrist, filled their houses 
with his discharged soldiers, subjected them to a thousand 
indignities; but even he did not venture to break with the rule 


that every bishop must be a monk. This exclusion of the 
"white" clergy from all positions of emolument and authority 
has created for centuries a chasm in the ranks of the clergy; 
and under the rule of the Tsars the Russian bishop was a mere 
courtier and functionary of the state ; he stood for absolutism, 
for oppression in every form and of every grade of society; 
he was a spaniel fawning on the Government which distrib- 
uted the sweets of office. He detested above all things light, 
liberty, free growth and living development of institutions; 
he was a parasite, but, alas, he was the Russian Church, an 
incarnation of Byzantinism. It is important to grasp this 
distinction between the parish clergy and the monks. Possi- 
bly under the Mongol regime in Russia which began in 1237 
the monasteries were hearths of Slav patriotism, but even in 
1294 under the patriarch John XII the secular clergy were 
already loud in their complaints of the exactions of the bishops. 
Certain it is that the great schism of which the Raskol is the 
permanent fruit was largely due to friction between the parish 
clergy and the monkish agents of the absolutist and centralis- 
ing government of Moscow. 

Historians of Russian dissent, no matter to what school 
they belong, whether, hke Uzov, sympathetic, or, like Prof. N. 
Ivanovski,^ partisans of the Holy Synod, agree in dividing it 
into three classes, or categories, of Old rituahsts or Old beUevers, 
RationaUsts and Mystics. 

Ivanovski seeks to load upon the dissenters and lift off 
the Church, of which he is a modern spokesman, the onus of 
blame for the great Russian schism of two hundred and fifty 
years ago. He sets undue store by the old appellation of the 
Raskol of Staroobryadets, "Old rituahst." He would have us 
beUeve that the schism was created by ignorant people who 
could not distinguish between what was "of faith," and what 
was unessential, such as matters of discipline and posture and 

The Old rituahsts took their rise in the XVIIth Century 
by way of protest against the correction of chiu'ch books and 

1 History of the Raskol, 1897, Introduction, pp. 3 ff. 


rites under the patriarch Nikon. Their essential characteristic 
lay in their confusion of rite or ceremony with dogma, and in 
the attribution to ritual and to the letter of the prayer books 
of the Russian Church of a fixt invariabihty. Old rituahsm 
therefore consists in the upholding of the rites in vogue before 
the time of Nikon, and rests on the false assumption that no 
other rites but these went back to the age of Prince Vladimir 
under whom Christianity was adopted as the national rehgion. 
In fact, argued the dissenters, the rites introduced by Nikon 
were new rites. They acted in separating themselves from 
the Church as if orthodoxy was bound up with the preservation 
of certain rites, and precluded all change in matters unessential. 
For example, worshippers are to prostrate themselves exactly 
as of old, to keep exactly the same fasts and in the same way; 
even old customs in daily life are to be maintained as if a 
reUgious interest was subserved in doing so. In church, for 
example, the same garb is to be worn as was anciently in 
vogue. In all such ways, Ivanovski concludes, these sectaries 
cling to hfe as it was in the XVIIth Century. 

It is probably true that the Raskol regarded such unessen- 
tials with what to-day would be considered superstitious 
veneration. But did the Patriarch Nikon and the innovating 
section of the Russian Church, which, having the Tsar and his 
army on their side, were able to enforce their will upon the con- 
servatives, attach less weight to them? If the Raskol confused 
mere rites with dogma, did their antagonists not do the same? 
If the points at issue were so insignificant, why could not the 
party of Nikon allow these simple folk to keep the reUgious 
customs and forms of words which from time inomemorial 
had been in vogue, and be content themselves in their own 
superior enhghtenment to adopt the new and, as they — in 
most cases falsely — imagined, correcter ones in their own 
churches? Instead of saving the position by a little well-timed 
tolerance, the Patriarch Nikon resorted to the knout, the 
sword, the stake; and getting together a council of his parti- 
sans, excommunicated and anathematized his opponents as 
heretics en masse. Now it is, as Ivanovski admits, quite 
uncanonical for orthodox churchmen to have recourse to 


these extreme methods of argument, unless the unchange- 
able dogmas of the Christian rehgion be at stake and directly 
impugned. It is evident then that the Russian Authorities 
made the changes as much a matter of faith as did the Raskol, 
who at least had on their side that prescription of antiquity 
to which Christian Fathers like TertulUan and Augustine 
regularly appealed as decisive against innovators and heretics. 
The Fathers of Nicea in 325 professed to base their decision 
on the rule: "Let what is ancient prevail." The Raskol 
have never appealed to any other canon. They are accused 
of 'bhnd adherence to antique details.' Was the adherence 
of Nikon to modern details any less bUnd? 

Quite other is the basis of the antagonism to the Church of 
what Ivanovski labels the RationaUst sects, viz. the Dukho- 
bortsy — whose name is a translation of the Greek Trvevfiaroiidxot. 
or battlers with the Spirit, but which is usually rendered in 
Enghsh Spirit-wrestlers, in the sense of men in whom the 
Holy Spirit wrestles for utterance; the Molokanye or milk- 
drinking sect; the recent sect of Stundists and some others. 
These sects, in his opinion, — an opinion which, as we shall 
see later on, is erroneous — reflect an intrusion about the year 
1700 of the ideas of Western Europe. He terms them ration- 
ahst because they reject the authority of the Church and claim 
a hberty to interpret Scripture as they Uke. The Old ritualists 
attach importance to ceremonies; the ' RationaUsts' repudiate 
them and reject all the externals of worship, sacraments, ikons 
or holy pictures and rehcs. None of these aids to devotion 
appeal to them. Of fasting in the sense of a rejection of this 
or that diet they will not hear; and their worship consists 
wholly of prayer and singing of hymns. They call themselves 
'Spiritual Christians' in token that they set no value on the 
outer husks of worship, but only on the kernel of rehgious faith. 

The third group is the Khlysty or flagellants, of which the 
Skoptsy or self-emasculators are an offshoot, dated by Ivanovski 
at the middle of the XVIIth Century, though he admits their 
origin to be obscure and that some features of their teaching 
go back to remote antiquity, to paganism and old Christian 
heresies. They were never, hke the Old rituaUsts, champions 


of externals, of the letter, nor like the Molokanye, of the human 
reason; but are mystics, that is creatures of irresponsible 
feeling, believing in the immediate relationship of man to God 
to the extent of accounting themselves Gods, Christs, Prophets, 
divinely born, soothsayers. These sects enshroud themselves 
in almost impenetrable secrecy, but in presence of strangers 
call themselves orthodox Christians. 

Uzov's own prehminary account of the first two divisions is as 
follows, and he claims to adopt the terminology of the sec- 
taries themselves: "The first division comprises the Old 
beUevers; the second the Spiritual Christians. The Old 
behevers have spht up into two chief groups, the Popovtsy, 
or priest-sect, and the priestless, or Bezpopovtsy {Pope in 
Russian = priest). The latter are divided into minor sects, 
the Pomorskiye, Spasovo, Thedosyevo, Phihppovo or Lipovany, 
Wanderers (Stranniki or Beguny), and finally the Prayerless 
Ones. And in this hst we only enumerate the stronger and 
typical sects omitting the minor ones. The most extreme 
and typical of these is that of the Wanderers (Stranniki) and 
particularly the Prayerless, who closely resemble the Spiritual 
Christians and even so call themselves. Many writers, indeed, 
who are ill acquainted with the Prayerless doctrine refer them 
to that group; nevertheless their derivation from the Old 
behevers is so indehbly stamped upon them, that those famihar 
with their teaching have no difficulty in recognizing in them 
all the characteristic marks of the 'Old behef.'" 

"The 'Spiritual Christians' are divided into Dukhobortsy, 
Molokanye, Communists, and Evangelicals or Stundists. 

"Over and above these main groups there remains," says 
Uzov, "a diminutive residuum, the Khlysty and Skoptsy." 
This group is very small and looked askance at by the common 
people who have given it the appellation of the 'dark' sect (cf. 
Liprandi, p. 104), — a sect which we may better define as being 
of a mystico-rehgious character. The sects forming this 
group have no future; their propaganda amounts to nothing, 
notwithstanding their age (for they were derived from Byzan- 
tium along with Orthodoxy), and notwithstanding that they 
are the only group of Raskol which can be called universal. 


In it courtiers are found side by side with peasants, Finns with 
Great and Little Russians. The conunon people have vari- 
ous names for them according to the places where they are 
found, for example, Liads, Vertuns, Medoviks, Khanzhas, 
Kladentsy, Kupidons, Shaloputs, etc. The chief danger of 
this group, according to Ministers of the Interior, is that it 
venerates "some of the Emperors, that have already passed 
away into another Ufe, as being still alive"; in other words 
"assumes the existence of a second lawful ruler." This ruler 
was Peter III (Liprandi pp. 93 and 95). The only intelhgible 
basis of such a behef is to be found in an express ukase of Peter 
III of Jan. 20, 1762, to the effect that the Raskolniks (dissen- 
ters) are not to be persecuted, because there "exist in the 
Empire not only men of other faiths, such as Mahomedans and 
idolaters, but also dissenting Christians whose superstition and 
obstinacy are such, that it is hopeless to convert them by 
duress and ill-treatment, from which they would only flee 
across the frontiers." ^ 

It is moreover clear that the Old believers of both groups 
belong to Great Russia, and that Moscow is their centre of 
origin, while the Spiritual Christians belong to the South, to 
Little Russia — the Ukraine, — and to Kiev rather than 
Moscow. It has therefore seemed best to divide the discus- 
sion into three parts, dealing with (1) the Old believers of 
Great Russia, (2) the Spiritual Christians of South Russia, 
(3) the Mystics. 

^ Cf. Collection of Statutes regarding the Raskol, Bk. 1, p. 586." 

Part I 





No Church historian believes that great schisms are wholly- 
due to the insignificant and unmeaning dogmatic problems 
and differences to which ecclesiastical writers attribute 
them. Who, for example, will believe that it was the question 
whether the Spirit proceeded from both Father and Son or from 
Father alone which caused the great schism of East and West? 
It is obvious to a student of Mommsen or Gibbon that the real 
cause was a difference of national temperament which divided 
the Roman Empire into two halves, Greek and Latin. Long 
before the advent of the new religion, there had arisen a funda- 
mental antagonism between the Greek and Romans in matters 
political, moral, and intellectual. Similarly the schism between 
Byzantium and the Armenians was the expression of a desire 
for independence, an instinct of home-rule on the part of the 
latter. They wanted an excuse for quarreling with the Greeks 
and found it in religion, and in the Armenian Fathers it is not 
uncommon to find the boast that they adopted such and such 
a fashion in religion in order to ''raise a hedge" between them- 
selves and the Greeks. The German and Anglican reforma- 
tions, so-called, were not motived by dogmatic, nor even by 
ritual quarrels. Both nations wanted to eliminate Italian 
clergy and to say their prayers in the vernacular, above all to 
keep their spare cash at home instead of sending it abroad as 
Peter's pence. 

Such considerations suggest that in the genesis of the Old 
beUevers, social and political causes must have co-operated 
with those on which Russian churchmen insist, and several 
Russian historians have given due weight to these. Kosto- 
marov ^ for example wrote as follows : 

"As we survey the history, phenomena and structure of the 
rehgious life of the Russian people in the past, and try to seize 
its characteristics, enduring even up to our own age, we are 

1 Messenger of Europe, 1871. No. 4, April, p. 471 and p. 480. 



struck by the fact that there hardly ever was, in all Christen- 
dom, a land less inclined to religious movements, less prepared 
for them than Russia, especially Great Russia. That such 
movements were not in keeping with the coldness of their 
temper in such matters, is often revealed in our history. We 
hear nothing but complaints of the alienation of the people 
from the Church, of its indifference thereto, of its failure to 
live a Christian life. . . . 

"It is the last thing one would have expected, that, among 
people whose leading trait had for so long been religious indiffer- 
ence, heresy and raskol (dissent) should manifest itself, much 
more that it should spread among the masses." 

And Shchapov says : 

"Popular indifference in respect of religious ceremonial 
was so strong in the age which witnessed the emergence and 
spread of the Raskol, that not only in the XVIIth Century 
the Tsars Michael Theodorovich and Alexis Michaelovich, 
but also at the beginning of the XVIIIth Peter the Great, had 
to drive the people by means of ukases to go to church, to con- 
fess and communicate."^ 

"The Russian people," says Palmieri, p. 402 (following 
Golubinski, ii, 871) "had a singular understanding of what 
constitutes piety. Many took no pains to observe the essential 
rules of Christian life, only attended Church two or three times 
a year, very seldom went to confession or communion, and 
waited for the deathbed before they could be induced to 
receive the Sacraments." Golubinski also dwells on the cold- 
ness of religious sentiment and supine ignorance of the lower 
classes in Nikon's age, and in the century which preceded. 
Further back in the age anterior to Maximus the Greek we 
have no data on which to base a judgment. 

Nevertheless, A?vrites Uzov, we are suddenly confronted in 
Nikon's age with a vigorous propaganda and an obstinate 
struggle. How shall we explain it? He believes the true 
explanation to be that in the Raskol the true driving force 
was not religion, but other factors, which may be summarised 
as the struggle against centralisation and the growth of Tartar 

1 A. Shchapov, Russian Raskol, p. 163. 


influence. The reforming zeal of Nikon, the Uturgical con- 
troversy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the 
councils of 1551 and 1667 were only the more spectacular 
symptoms of these deeper causes. 

The Struggle against Centralisation 

"In the XVIIth Century, before the time of the Raskol, it 
often happened that the inferior clergy in an entire province 
or in special districts refused to obey the orders of its arch- 
priest and endeavoured to free itself not only from the payment 
of legal dues, but from the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan. 
Already prior to the Raskol, priests were occasionally found 
imbued with a manifestly Raskol-like temper of insubordina- 
tion despising the hierarchical piety." More than once the 
clergy had aspired to independence of the spiritual authority, 
and laymen presumed to follow their example. 

"Indifference towards the Church naturally led on to dis- 
obedience, opposition to Church authorities and in general to 
suspicion of and want of respect for the clergy. Attempts 
were already visible to achieve complete freedom from their 
jurisdiction or at least to get control thereof."^ "In some 
places and especially in Pskov and Novgorod there had oc- 
curred open revolts against Church jurisdiction and administra- 
tion. In Novgorod the movement in favour of independence 
from Moscow was so strong that on one occasion they sent to 
the Patriarch of Constantinople to urge their case: ' We do not 
want to be judged by the MetropoUtan,' they said, 'but we ask 
for your blessing; and if you will not give it, then we will take 
sides with the Latins.' "^ ''The ills of the Russian Clergy," 
writes Palmieri (p. 253), reproducing the words of Golubinski's 
History, "were due to the infiltration into Russia of Byzantine 
ideals. The priesthood lacked from the beginning the char- 
acteristics of an apostolic ministry. The priests were looked 
upon as artisans for whom it was enough to be able to read and 
celebrate the rites. Their spiritual labours were miserably 

1 Shchapov, op. cit., pp. 77, pp. 168, 169. 

2 D. D. Sontsov, Hist, of Russ. People up to XVIIth Century, p. 60. 


recompensed, and as a class they made no pretence of educating 
and guiding the people. The difference of moral conditions 
dug an abyss between the episcopate and the lower clergy. 
The bishops needed vast sums to keep up their retinues which 
often numbered a hundred persons. In their palaces, courtiers, 
stewards, major-domos, chamberlains, exactors of dues, secre- 
taries, sacristans, hieromonachi (i. e. monks ordained as priests) 
and so forth elbowed one another. Episcopal revenues were 
beyond doubt large; thus early in the XVIth Century the 
MetropoHtan of Moscow possessed 100,000 desiatines (1 des. 
= 2.70 acres), and he of Novgorod had still ampler estates. 
Nevertheless such resources did not suffice them, and they 
took to robbing in order to satiate the voracity of their satel- 
lites. Priests had to toil like slaves in order that their bishops 
might live like princes. Nobles, pages and dignitaries had no 
scruples in the petty episcopal courts against plundering the 
country clergy who flocked in vain to the Tsar, the patriarch, 
and the bishops, to protest against the injuries inflicted on them. 
Their protests fell on deaf ears, and to losses were added jeers 
and insults. It is no wonder if now and then the unhappy 
popes, reduced to desperation, refused to pay the episcopal 
dues and resisted violence with violence. The populace flew 
to help them, and hunted away or roughly handled the episco- 
pal tax gatherers, as happened at Pskov in 1435 and later at 
Vyshgorod, whose inhabitants after duly cudgelling the agents 
of the MetropoHtan lona, expelled them from the vicinity." 
"There is no age," he writes again (p. 256), '4n which we do 
not feel the deepest pity for the much ridiculed popes. It is 
on them that the fatal consequences of the Byzantine system of 
the Russian Church fell, and episcopate and State vied with 
each other to sink them to the level of brutes and turn them into 
ci\dl and ecclesiastical pariahs. Thus the latent schism of that 
Church to-day has historical roots. The presbyterian move- 
ment of the present time, to use the expression of certain Rus- 
sian bishops, is the fruit of a policy of oppression which has 
rendered the hierarchy hateful to the lower clergy, which has 
drawn the latter closer to the people who share their misery 
with them, and actually drives many of the rural popes into 


the ranks of socialism and of those who are in revolt against 
Church and State." .... 

"Over against the bishops we behold the insurrection of 
a down-trodden clergy, upheld in their demands by an 
oppressed people. The popes cannot see why the highest 
posts of the hierarchy should be kept for monkery alone. No 
canon of councils, ecumenical or particular, sanctions such a 
custom." (p. 689). 

The truth is, writes Uzov, that in the times prior to the 
Raskol the relations of the clergy to the people were utterly 
different from what they are now. The clergy were 'Hhe toy 
outright, the servant of what was then the all-powerful factor 
in Great Russia, the mir or village commune, whose members 
selected them and exacted of them a written pledge to obey 
the mir, which formed the parish, in all sorts of ways. With- 
out permission of the mir they could not quit the parish nor 
meddle with the economy of the church, still less of the mir; 
the priest even had in celebrating the rites to consult the likes 
and dislikes of his parishioners. In their court the members 
of the mir tried priest and layman alike for violations even of 
church regulations. The priest was like any other official 
chosen by the community."^ 

Such was the status of the clergy when a man of severe 
and despotic temper, Nikon Mordvinov'^ was made patriarch; 
and he lost no time in rousing against himself all the inferior 
clergy, towards whom he conducted himself with such excess 
of strictness and oppression that he was dubbed a second Pope.* 
For Nikon a priest was a mere nobody. "For any negligence 
in the discharge of his duties Nikon put him in irons, tortured 
him in prison and dispatched him whither he chose to beg his 
bread." * 

I. Ya. Goremykin in his Sketches of Peasant History in Po- 
land, p. 13, has a passage which goes some way to explain the 
antipathy of Russian peasants towards the Latin Pope that is 

1 Quoted by Uzov from Nevskii Sbornik 1867, art. by Vishnyakov, p. 80. 

^ See further, pp. 41 ff. 

^ i. e. of Rome. A. Shchapov, Russian Raskol, p. 78. 

* N. Kostomarov, Rtissian History in Biographies, Ed. iv. pp. 178-9. 


implied in the above comparison with him of Nikon. ''The 
preaching," he says, ''of the Byzantine missionaries of the 
IXth Century met with success and encountered no opposition 
on the part of the tribes, among whom it spread; the preachers 
from the west did not achieve the same success. The reason 
was that the former chose as a means for their propaganda the 
diffusion of Slav writing, and taking their stand on a popular 
platform introduced together with the light of Christianity the 
hght of a native learning that could be understood. It would 
not appear either, that they meddled with the Government, or 
tried in their own interests to influence the social order of the 
countries they were missionizing. For this reason people 
listened to them without misgivings and accepted their teach- 
ing of their own free will and readily. The Apostles of the 
Roman Church on the other hand were for the most part 
Germans, and, besides conducting their preachings in a tongue 
the Slavs did not understand, they brought with them principles 
of overlordship in society that were German and to Slavdom 
repugnant. The Slavs resisted and defended their popular 
rights with all their might." 

The above extracts help to explain the popular fury which 
Nikon's so-called reforms aroused. He imported State des- 
potism; introduced or rather enforced the German principles 
of overlordship in every village; anticipated that harsh and 
brutal officialdom, that despotism of bureaucrats and multi- 
plied ministries which we to-day associate with Prussia, but 
which was really more rampant, and infinitely less plastic and 
intelligent in Czarist Russia. One cannot but be reminded of 
the words of the strange thinker Nietzsche, — so often in- 
voked, so seldom read and so little understood — which better 
than all else explain the genesis of the Raskol: — 

"Somewhere there are still people and herds, but not with us, 
my brethren: with us there are States. 

"The State? What is that? Well, now open your ears, 
for now I deliver my sentence on the death of peoples. 

"The State is the coldest of all cold monsters. And coldly 
it lieth; and this lie creepeth out of its mouth: 'I, the State, 
am the people.' 


"It is a lie. Creators they were who created the peoples 
and hung one belief and one love over them; thus they served 

"Destroyers they are who lay traps for many, calhng them 
the State : they hung a sword and a hundred desires over them. 

"Whatever a people is left, it understandeth not the State, 
but hateth it as the evil eye, and a sin against customs and 

Nikon, wTites Uzov, encroached on the local life of Russia. 
He overwhelmed every town and village with taxation. Not 
a priest or deacon but had to pay tithes on every truss of hay, 
every bushel of corn. Even the beggars were made to pay. 
But in particular his reforms were aimed to strengthen the 
grip of the higher grades of the hierarchy on the people, and 
to make himself Pope on the Roman model. But while striv- 
ing to subject the clergy to the despotic power of the Patriarch, 
Nikon at the same time devoted all his energies to releasing 
them from subjection to the mirs. In his time the parish was 
turned "as it were into a clerico-political circumscription." ^ 

The reforms of Nikon drew on him the hatred of every class 
of the people, to whom they seemed violations of their customs 
and rights. The principle of authority which he invoked as 
between the clergy and the people offended the customs of 
both and was reckoned to be a form of Latinizing and of 
Popery. "Nothing," wrote the protopope Avvakum in a 
petition to the Tsar Alexis Michailovich, "so much engenders 
schism in the churches as overbearing love of domination on 
the part of the authorities." ^ 

Nikon's reforms encountered from the lower clergy in particu- 
lar a stubborn resistance, because they tended to strengthen 
the powers of the archpriests. His despotic freaks aroused 
the indignation of the upper classes as well. The Pious Tsar 
Alexis in his letter to Nikon remarked that he had to find fault 
with him, because "he drove men to fast by force, but could 
not drive anyone by force to believe in God." ^ 

» V. Andreev: The Raskol and its significance in Russian popular history, 
Petersb. 1870, p. 96. 
2 Ibid. p. 58. 
' Ignatius, History of the Raskol, pp. 188-9. 


One of the malcontents, the Boyarin Simeon Streshnev, 
"having taught his big dog to sit up on his hind-quarters and 
to bless with his front paws in the manner of an archpriest, 
gave him the name of Nikon. The mockery was carried on 
in public without shame or fear." ' Nikon's comment reveals a 
lack of humour: "If a mouse eats the host, it does not com- 
municate. So neither is a dog's blessing really a blessing." 

After rendering himself odious to the lower clergy and the 
people, Nikon embarked on the correction of church books 
and of sundry rites, and carried out his plan with his accus- 
tomed masterfulness. It was less that the plan was destestable 
than that its executor was; for, to begin with, the so-called 
reforms, no less than the opposition to them, appealed to the 
clergy alone, and outside its ranks textual emendations neither 
interested, nor were understood by anyone. The majority of 
the Russian people, as might be expected, regarded the matter 
with ancestral indifference and phlegm.^ Andrew Denisov, 
an early leader of the Raskol, admits that there was at first no 
popular opposition to the new editions promulgated by Nikon. 
The masses had no idea what it was all about. How should 
they when the services were in old Cyrillic, a dead language 
which they could understand no more then than now? For a 
long time "they failed to discern that anything new was 
happening and were wrapt in their usual pall of ignorance." ^ 
Ecclesiastical dignitaries whose chief characteristic it was "to 
be easy-going and indolent in their own affairs and occupations 
were obviously not going to resist." ^ And this was just what 
Nikon counted on, — all the more so, because the changes had 
already begun under his predecessors, and "the innovations 
had already appeared outright in the newly printed books 
under the four patriarchs who preceded Joseph." ^ "In 
particular the books issued under Joseph were full of variants 
from the earlier printed editions, as is evidenced by the very 
ones to-day in use among the old-ritualists." ^ 

"In order to bring about everywhere the suspension of the 

^ Ignatius, History of the Raskol, pp. 188-9. 

2 Kostomarov, in Messenger of Europe, 1871, No. 4, pp. 481-2. 

3 Ignatius, History of the Raskol, pp. 140, 151. 


old style of Church-service, Nikon ordered the old books to be 
taken away in every parish, both in towns and villages. In so 
acting he was merely following the example of the patriarch 
Philaret, who not only everywhere removed, but even burned 
the order for prayer and ministration printed in Moscow in 
1610." 1 

But Nikon, continues Uzov, by his rasping severity had 
already inflamed the clergy against himself. They hated him 
because he had done all he could to substitute for the old and 
more or less fraternal ties which bound the common clergy 
and ecclesiastical superiors together, a new relationship of 
harsh subordination. In this connection we must not forget 
that in the Eastern Churches the parish clergy must be mar- 
ried men like their parishioners, whereas the higher clergy have 
taken monastic vows. A family man and a monk easily lose 
touch with each other. The lower clergy were thus all of them 
ready to oppose Nikon's textual innovations, so soon as they 
were pointed out to them; and the tactless way he went to 
work only hardened them in their opposition. It was at his 
instance, as we have seen, that in the Council of 1656, the 
higher clergy solermily anathematized those who crossed 
themselves with two fingers.^ This resort to anathemas gave 
to Nikon's work the stamp of an abomination, for his oppon- 
ents could, and did, at once accuse him of levelling a curse 
against all former generations of saints that had crossed them- 
selves in that manner. It gave them a good excuse for pro- 
nouncing in their turn an equally solemn curse on Nikon and 
all his works. 

More than all else this one innovation provided all who were 
discontented with the administration of Church matters with a 
battle-cry and a standard round which to rally. "As in 
Moscow the capital, so in the provinces, the revolt of the lower 
clergy and their leaning to dissent was due to a clerico- 
democratic instinct to free themselves from the restraints 
imposed by the higher hierarchy, and in particular from its juris- 
diction, its crushing imposts and dimes." ^ We must bear in 

1 P. Melnikov: Historical Sketch of Popovshchina, Moscow, 1864, p. 14. 

^ op. cit. Melnikov, p. 14. 

' A. Shchapov, Russian Raskol, p. 204. 


mind that in the good old times the parish priest was amenable 
to the jurisdiction of the village elders among whom he lived and 
who knew him personally and intimately. Nikon withdrew 
him from their jurisdiction and placed him under the surveil- 
lance of monks who hved far away and were foreign to him. 
Nor is there any reason to suppose that fees for ordination 
payable to the bishop were reduced by transferring to the 
latter so much of the authority which by ancient usage belonged 
to the llir. The undivided Church, as is well known, recog- 
nized but a single charismatic dignity alike in bishop and 
priest, and accordingly one of the earliest Raskol teachers, 
the protopope Neronov, wrote to the Tsar that "the priestly 
grade is one and the same in all. You cannot, he argued, 
speak of one man's holy orders as being perfect, of another's 
as imperfect, for all priests are on a level. If archpriests are 
successors of the highest Twelve Apostles, yet the priests and 
deacons are successors of the Seventy Apostles; and among 
themselves they are all brethren, servants of one Lord." For 
the settlement therefore of ecclesiastical disputes, he proposed 
the convening of a council at which should be present not only 
archpriests, but archimandrites, hegumens, protopopes, divines, 
priests and deacons, and ''also those who inhabit the village 
communes (mirs) and who, no matter what their rank, lead 
good hves . . . " ^ 

The Old behevers, in fact, were intent on defending the rights 
of the locality and of the individual; accordingly when the 
patriarch reproached them in public debate for not obeying 
their archpriests, they pointed out that ''respect is not due to 
persons, when the faith is being tampered with or even when 
the truth is at stake, and it must be proclaimed not only in the 
presence of the priestly caste, but of Tsars, inasmuch as to 
apostatize from true reUgion is to apostatize from God." ^ 

At the beginning of their struggle with the Church authori- 
ties the Old believers imagined they would meet with the sup- 
port of the civil ones; thus it is that the Raskol began its 

* I. Kharlamov in Strana, 1880, No. 57. 

* Three Petitions, pp. 1 and 96. The one I cite is given by Will. Palmer, The 
Taar and the Patriarch, Vol. II, p. 449. It was presented to the Tsar Oct. 6, 1667. 


history with petitions to the civil rulers.^ "Gracious Tsar," 
wrote the monks of Solovets, ''we beseech you with tears and 
lamentations, suffer not this new doctor and ecumenic patri- 
arch to change our true Christian faith delivered to us by our 
Lord Jesus Christ and his holy apostles, and by the seven 
general Councils upheld. Let us abide in the piety and tradi- 
tions in which our wonder workers Zosimus and Sabbatius and 
Germanus and Philip, metropolitan of Moscow, and all the 
saints found favour with God." Here there is no accent of 
disloyalty and revolt. But they were soon disillusioned, for, 
in what was really a struggle between the democratic elements 
and the authorities of the Church, the Tsar's Government 
speedily took the side of the latter and proceeded to punish 
the opposition with all severity. The Old believers promptly 
made up their minds that Tsar Alexis Michailovich "was no 
Tsar but a tyrant."^ 

The Church Council of 1666 decided to punish the dissidents 
"not only with ecclesiastical but with imperial penalties, i.e. 
by civil statute and execution."^ Persecutions and atrocities 
began, and a talented Old believer, the protopope Awakum, 
wrote in view of what was occurring: " 'Tis a marvel how little 
they think of argument. It is by fire, nay by knout, by the 
gallows, they want to affirm the faith. What Apostles ever 
taught such courses? I know not. My Christ never bade our 
Apostles to teach that fire, knout and halter are educators 
in faith. . . . The Tatar God Mahomet wrote in his book: 
Our behest is to strike off with the glaive the heads of those 
who will not submit to our tradition and statute."^ But such 
protests did not avail against the enemies of the Raskol, and 
persecution waxed all the fiercer. 

The intervention of the Tsar's Government in a dispute 
between the people and Church Authorities could only result 
in "the rebel movement, which the teachers of the Raskol had 
begim on strictly ecclesiastical ground, being suddenly trans- 
ferred to the sphere of civilian and popular life; and at the head 

1 Imperial Society of History and Antiquities, 1863, bk. 1, p. 57. 

2 Some Words on the Raskol, by I. Nilski, p. 63. 

^ Life of the Protopope Awakum, written by himself, pp. 93-4. 


of it popular leaders made their appearance and took command, 
partisans opposed to the imperial Government, such as Kho- 
vanski, Stenka Razin, the Denisovs and others."^ But this 
doubhng, says Uzov, of ecclesiastical protest by civil did not 
come at once, but only gradually, and ill-success attended the 
first essays of the Raskolniks to link their own fortunes with 
revolution against the civil powers. Thus, for example, in 
the time of the revolt of the Streltsy guards, the dregs of the 
populace rose along with them against the princes and boyars 
and massacred many...^ They tore up judicial writs and 
ordinances affecting the serfs, burned the stores in the for- 
tresses, made havoc of legal decisions, declared the serfs to be 
free, rescued from prisons the interned.-^ When they began to 
pillage boyars and princes, the Streltsy did not spare even the 
Tsar's treasury. The Sovereign's enemies were joined by the 
foes of the ecclesiastical authorities, and these Old believers, 
though a small group to begin with, formed a welcome accession 
of strength to the rebel soldiers, who regarded them as men of 
learning; not that they had the least idea of how the party 
of Old believers differed from Nikon's, indeed the majority of 
them had not the least desire to know; they were only minded 
to end the old regime, and so were led incidentally to demon- 
strate in favour of freedom of conscience. Meanwhile the 
Government was well aware that the Streltsy took no interest 
in the struggle of the Raskol as such and presently succeeded in 
detaching them. "Why," asked the heads of State and Church 
of them, ''why sacrifice us and the whole Russian realm for 
half-a-dozen monks?" The soldiers gave ear and answered: 
"With that (viz: the quarrel of the Old beUevers with the 
heads of the State) we have nothing to do." 

The Old believers, however, were not disheartened by this 
first repulse of fortune, but pursued their aims unswervingly 
and with superhuman fortitude. The party of opposition 
among the clergy was in itself weak, but alhed itself with any 
sort of popular agitation, however much the result of motives 

1 A. Shchapov, Russian Raskol, p. 218. 

2 Three Petitions, pp. 72, 60, 89, 137, 142. 
» Three Petitions, pp. 137, 142. 


and convictions other than its own; among the people there 
were great numbers who were ready to adhere to anything 
which magnified, much more sanctified, their old grudge against 
authority in general; and the Raskolniks ranged themselves 
in opposition to the Government under the banner of holy ^vrit 
and of theology. Their protest against social abuses was 
formulated in phrases culled from theological texts. Theology 
of course was the only ''science" known to the Russian of that 
age, and it does not surprise us that he threw his feeUngs and 
aspirations into the mould of its terms and conceptions.^ 
It really signified little in what form his feelings and ideas were 
moulded, — his chief concern was to arrange them in a system 
of teaching intelligible to others, and here theology stood him 
in good stead. Yet, asks Uzov, how explain the fact that dis- 
content with social institutions in thus moulding itself in 
religious form, to wit in that of the Raskol, announced that it 
could only be satisfied by a return to the ancient order? Why 
did it not aspire to something newer, as is usually the case? 
To answer this query we need to consider wherein consisted 
this old order and who it was that was intent on its abrogation. 

Russia and Tartar Influence 

"In old Russia every province enjoyed a certain autonomy 
of its own, freely evolved an independent life, conditioned only 
by locality, by tribal character, by the special nature of its 
occupations and activities. As the forces of centralization 
waxed stronger, this independent life was levelled out and 
conformed to a general current and plane. Localities, however, 
that had enjoyed such independence and freedom gave it up 
reluctantly; for they were loth to forfeit their privileges and 
aspirations, and continued for long to oppose a centralizing 
administration and policy that was new and alien to them. 
In the turbulent age of the impostors the forced and artificial 
unification of the provinces was temporarily relaxed, and every 
local centre endeavoured to strengthen itself and recover its 
old independent life, to regain its ancient rights. But when 

1 Today (1919) the Political Economy of Karl Marx has taken the place of the 
'Science' of theology of the 17th century. 


-w-ith Michael Theodorovich and Alexis Miehailovich Russia 
was once more 'collected,' i.e. unified, the bonds were forged 

And why, asks Uzov, was the transition, when it came, one 
from old and more liberal and humane institutions to those of 
Moscow? Was this the natural course of development for the 
Russian social organism? Here is a question which admits of 
no other answer than this: the new institutions which now 
developed in Russia were a consequence of the external pres- 
sure of the Tartar invasion. A savage people by dint of brute 
force had wiped off the face of the land a genuine Russian civili- 
zation that was already maturing; and it was relatively easy to 
do so, because it was not a warlike but a peaceful civihzation. 
All the dark forces latent in the Russian people leaned to the 
side of the Tartars, accepted their civihzation and by flattering 
and shuffling before them fettered — thanks to Tartar aid — 
the Russian people and riveted their yoke upon it. 

"Thus Moscow fraternized with the Tartars, and under the 
shadow of their anti-nationalist system managed to gather 
round herself the provinces of Novgorod, Pskov, Tver, Ryazan, 
Perm and Kiev. In a Moscow torn from Southern Russia a 
Moscovite world emerged and entrenched itself. In the XVth 
Century when the rest of the Slav nationalities were reviv- 
ing, when among Poles, Croats, Slovenes, Serbs, Bulgarians, 
and in South Russia a popular literature was beginning to 
appear, there opened in Moscow an era of final decadence. 
The art of writing, enlightenment, literature, art, wholesome 
international relationships, which had all aforetime culminated 
in Kiev in the Xllth Century — these perished in Moscow. 
Russian equity took flight and fled to heaven, and in Moscow 
quibbling chicanery and Moscovite intrigue took its place."^ 

To the Tartars Russia owes the introduction of iron rule 
with all its attractions, and the institution of draconian statutes. 
The code of Alexis Miehailovich was a product of Tartar 
character rather than of Slav. To the Tartars is due the sub- 
stitution of despotism and autocratic bureaucracy for the 

1 N. Aristov, in Vremya {Time), 1862, No. 1, p. 76. 

^ History of Cabarets in Russia, by Iv. Pryzhov, Moscow, 1868, p. 45-6. 


ordinances of common councils and provincial autonomy. 
Tartar civilization having forcibly cankered Russian society, 
took Tartars into its service, for the insufficiency of its own 
powers was realized, and it resorted to such means in order to 
safeguard its own existence. 

"In the XVIth Century a fresh flood of violence and bar- 
barity inundated Russia along with the irruptions of Kazan, 
Astrakhan and Siberian Tsars, Tsaritsas, Tsareviches, princes, 
petty princes, who offered their services to the Tsar's govern- 
ment in Moscow and married into the Russian noblesse, so 
constituting themselves defenders of Russian territory and 
acquiring control of the cities of Kasimov, Zvenigorod, Kashir, 
Serpukhov, Khotun, louriev, along with many villages and 
hamlets." ^ And thus in this period the proverb was coined: 
"Live, live, until Moscow gets hold of you." Andreev states 
that the forefathers of the majority of Russian nobles in the 
realm of Moscow, were emigrants from Tartary or settlers 
from Western Europe.^ We may thus unhesitatingly conclude, 
writes Uzov, that in the age which gave birth to the Raskol, 
Russian society under stress of violence on the part of these 
Tartars had entered on a retrograde path. The latter were 
installed in the highest administrative positions in the society 
of the time, and were sustained in them by our own Russian 
home-bred Tartars. Christian standards of morals were over- 
whelmed by Tartar ones, national pecuharities were wholly 
lost sight of, all the more so because the governing caste, being 
principally composed of elements alien to the Russian genius, 
altogether lacked any idea of the character and aspirations of„ 
the people they ruled. 

Russian Ritualism and Liturgical Controversy 

Though great movements have always great causes, never- 
theless relatively petty circumstances seem always to provide 
their starting point. The great Russian schism was no excep- 
tion. It began not with any articulate protest against Tartar 
customs, or Byzantine polity in general, but with opposition 

1 ib. p. 48. 

2 Andreev, The Raskol and its Significance, p. 14. 


to small details of ritual and the corrupt text of service books. 
Ivanovski gives a full account of these details, and the criti- 
cism to which he is justly subject is not that he is wrong 
in what he states, but that he neglects the greater though less 
spectacular points. 

George Bourdon in his graphic history of the revolutionary 
convulsions, which in Russia followed the ill-starred campaign 
of 1904 against Japan, describes the religion of the Russian 
peasant as consisting mainly in the kissing of dirty greasy 
boards dignified with the name of ikon or holy picture, but 
often anikonic, in the sense that the images they once por- 
trayed are no longer decipherable. This superstitious respect 
for representations of the human face and person was well 
exemplified in the invasion of East Prussia with which the war 
of 1914 began. Then, as Mr. Stephen Graham attests in his 
work Russia and the World (London, 1915), the only objects in 
German houses which escaped the destructive zeal of the Rus- 
sian infantry were the pictures on the walls. Pianos, vioUns, 
books, furniture of all sorts were smashed to atoms, torn up 
and cast into the gutters, or burned, but never a picture was 
touched. These poor barbarians, of whom, according to the 
French statistics of 1911, nearly three out of four could neither 
read nor write, had never set foot in a civilized dwelling before; 
and they assumed that the pictures and paintings which 
adorned the walls harboured spirits or were holy ikons. Even 
the busts of the Kaiser, so Mr. Graham assures us, were spared, 
no doubt because he was mistaken for a saint. 

It is then to such a respect for the external trappings of 
religion that Prof. Ivanovski traces the origin of the Raskol. 
It was from the first, he thinks, the essential character of popu- 
lar religion among his countrymen, the expression of their soul. 
They were, he says, in their infancy when they were converted, 
and his argument requires us to believe that they were still 
'in their infancy' in the second half of the XVIIth Century 
when the Patriarch Nikon introduced his 'reforms'; and, to 
judge from the hold which Dissent still has upon them, they 
have not yet emerged from childhood. Their pohtical develop- 
ment had been arrested by the Mongol yoke, and religion sup- 


plied the only channel along which their inner life could flow; 
but, like children, they could not embrace a religion which was 
abstract and meditative; they needed rather one of external 
aids and outside shows, in the absence of which they could 
not be stirred to faith and prayer. Temple rites and adorn- 
ments, vestments, shrines, pilgrimages, miraculous pictures, 
divine volumes, houses adorned in the style of churches, life 
in strict accordance with ecclesiastical rule, all these, he argues, 
were of the essence of religion in the age which gave birth to 
the Raskol. At that time few minds rose to the level of dis- 
tinguishing between these unessentials and the essential dogmas 
that embody eternal truth and are therefore unalterable. How 
low the general level of intelligence really was is proved by the 
frequent complaints to that effect on the part of the higher 
clergy; thus in the year 1500 Gennadius, Archbishop of Nov- 
gorod, attests the general ignorance in his epistle to the Metro- 
pohtan Simon, and in the middle of the XVIth Century it had 
reached its nadir. He complains that candidates for ordina- 
tion could not read the Apostle or chant the Psalms or recite an 

As an example of lamentable confusion of ritual with dogma, 
Ivanovski instances the dispute which arose in the XVth 
Century as to whether the Alleluia should be recited twice or 
thrice before the Gloria in the psalmody. The antecedents 
of the dispute are wrapt in obscurity; but it is clear that early 
in that century (1419) the clergy of Pskov began the triple 
recitation by the advice of the Metropolitan Photius; never- 
theless in 1450, thirty years later, the abbot Euphrosynof Pskov 
still entertained misgivings about it. In the hope of laying 
to rest his doubts, about which he consulted the Elders of bis 
own Church, but in vain, Euphrosyn paid a visit to the Patriarch 
Joseph of the 'Royal City' Tsargrad (Constantinople), where 
in the churches of Sancta Sophia he observed that the Greeks 
only recited it twice. This led him on his return to Russia to 
insist on the Greek usage in his monastery, thereby making 
enemies of the clergy of Pskov, where a certain Job, respected 
by laity and clergy as 'a philosopher, a sound teacher and a 
pillar of the Church' headed the opposition. Euphrosyn was 


now accused of violating the canons of the Church, of denying 
the Trinity, of being a heretic and so forth. He retorted that 
he was following the usage of Tsargrad and of the ecumenic 
Church, while Job was a pillar, not of the Church, but of dung. 
This invited similar amenities from Job who persuaded his 
followers at Pskov, whenever they passed by the Monastery 
of Euphrosyn, not to bow, but to call out: 'There lives a 
heretic, ripe for anathema.' Both parties appealed to the arch- 
bishop Euthymius of Novgorod, who saw no way to reconcile 
them, and the quarrel went on after the protagonists departed 
this life in spite of the efforts of a learned Greek, Demetrius 
Gerasimus (Tolmach), to make peace between them. He 
wrote in 1493 from Rome a letter to Gennadius, Archbishop 
of Novgorod, to prove that one usage was as legitimate as the 
other, seeing that the one manifested the trine hypostasis of the 
consubstantial Godhead, the other the two natures in Christ. 
Such impartiality was not good enough for Russians, and 
finally the Council of the Hundred Heads ^ (Stoglav) in 1551 
decided in its 42nd canon in favour of the double Alleluia, 
stigmatizing the triple one as a Latin heresy and as tantamount 
to the inclusion of four persons in the Trinity ! 

Nor was this the only dispute which ruffled the calm of the 
Orthodox Church in the XVth Century, for in its last years 
princes and bishops were divided on the question whether in 
solemn processions the priests and people should move ' wlther- 
shins ' or no. Over this point the Prince, Ivan Vassilevich III, 
and the Metropolitan Gerontius shewed httle of the love which 
Christians should bear one another. The bishop Gerontius, 
consecrating the Uspenski church in 1479, ventured to walk 
with his cross withershins round the new fabric, so offending 
against the Sun of Righteousness and outraging the feelings 
of Ivan who had on his side not a few bishops and monks, 
especially the hvely archimandrite Gennadius, afterwards 
Archbishop of Novgorod. The withershins party pleaded in 

' So called because their debates were resumed in 100 chapters. At this 
council there were no representatives of Kiev. Orthodox Russians seek to impugn 
the authority and even authenticity of the 100 chapters. For the description 
of this important council see pp. 51 ff. 


vain that they advanced not to affront and insult the Sun, but 
to greet him; but as no canons existed to settle so vital an issue, 
the parties remained irreconcilable. The Metropolitan would 
not yield, retired in dudgeon to the Simonov Monastery, and 
for several years refused to consecrate any more churches, until 
the Prince gave way. 

Another such dispute arose on the point whether documents 
should be dated according to the era which began with Crea- 
tion or that which began with Christ; for a monk Philotheus 
of the Eleazar Monastery revealed the fact to the world about 
1500 that in old Russian MSS. both eras were met with. The 
Armenians solved the riddle by setting down both in their 
colophons, but then they were monophysite heretics. It did 
much harm to Peter the Great that he banished the old era 
for good. He was generally regarded as Antichrist because 
of the innovation. 

But the most formidable and fertile source of dispute was 
the importance attached to the correct use of liturgical form- 
ulae, and — notwithstanding this — the almost infinite extent 
of textual variation in manuscripts and books. 

In that age in Russia prayer was barely differentiated from 
magic spells; as is manifest from a fourth quarrel that raged 
in 1476 over the issue whether in a certain passage of the 
liturgy the clergy should cry 'Lord, pardon us,' or 'O Lord, 
pardon us.' Ivanovski complains that in such cases the Old- 
ritualist temper betrayed itself in those who demanded the 
continuance of the usage to which people were accustomed 
merely because it was the old one. It does not occur to him 
that it was at least as reasonable to demand its continuance 
as its discontinuance, and that if it mattered nothing one way 
or the other, the old usage might as well have been tolerated 
and not penalised with knout and rack. 

If we open any collection of liturgical texts taken from 
ancient MSS., for example the Greek Euchologion of Goar, 
or that of Prof. Dimitrievski of Kiev, or my own Rituale Ar- 
menorum, we are at once struck by the infinite variety of text 
and rite in one and the same church. In the Church Books 
of the Orthodox Faith variety was all the greater because 


the Monks of Athos and other centres who translated them 
from the Greek made so many blunders. Moreover some of 
the books passed into Russian not direct, but through Mora- 
vian, Serb and Bulgar versions.^ Already in the Xlllth 
Century the MetropoUtan Cyril complained of the errors 
which from these and other causes had crept into the service 
books of his church. In the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries 
such errors, duly multipUed by transcribers, passed at length 
into the printed texts. One common source of error was the 
intrusion into the text of glosses which should have been left 
in the margin, and Ivanovski gives one curious example of the 
sort in a MS. of the Xlth Century. The passage is Matt. 
XXVII. 65, where Pilate says to the high priests and Pharisees: 
"Ye have got a guard." Here the Slav translator, puzzled by 
the Latin word Custodia, assumed it to be the name of Pilate's 
maiden chatelaine ! Ivanovski informs us that there is much 
discrepancy between one text and another of the Baptismal 
rite; and one would like to know if it was not in the Epiphany 
rite celebrating the Benediction of Rivers in memory of the 
Baptism of Jesus, that the variants occur — to his mind so 
deplorable — which imply that Jesus was merely human until 
the Spirit descended upon him in his thirtieth year. For this 
was the old Ebionite or Adoptionist belief, which is prominent 
in old Armenian Epiphany homilies and not wholly absent 
from their hymns sung at the Blessing of the Rivers. We 
need pay no attention to Ivanovski's conjecture that Jews had 
tampered with these rites; for this very beUef characterizes 
the Dukhobortsy and Khlysty sects and is therefore very an- 
cient on Russian soil. 

Slav divines already recognized in the XlVth Century how 
imperfect were their versions, and the MetropoUtan Theo- 
gnostos (1328-1353) tried to correct the Trebnik, a book which 
answers to the Roman missal. The Metropolitan Alessios 
(1354-1378) compared the Slav N. T. with the Greek text, 
and another Metropohtan, Cyprian, a Serb or Bulgarian — it 
is not known which — devoted much attention to the correct- 

^ The Moravian Versions were the most ancient, and of them Serb or Bulgar 
translations seem to have passed into Russia. 


ing of his liturgical books, as Mansvetov has pointed out in 
his appendix (Prihavleniya) to the great series of Russian 
versions of the Fathers, Moscow 1882, vol. 29, pp. 152-305; 

As an example of the dangers which beset a scholar, 
Ivanovski relates the career of a Greek monk, Maximus, 
invited to Moscow in 1518 by Prince Basil Ivanovich to take 
charge of the royal library and make a fresh translation of 
certain books. He was an Albanian by origin, had studied 
in Italy, and was a member of the Vatopedi convent on Mt. 
Athos. A man learned in Greek and Latin, he won the favour 
of the Prince and the friendship of the Metropohtan Barlaam, 
and was commissioned by them to revise the service books, 
though he deplored the recent severance from Constantinople 
of the Russian Christians and their new claim to constitute 
an independent national church, to be in fact the only orthodox 
body in the entire world. He did not possess Russian, and 
was therefore suppUed with two interpreters, named Deme- 
trius Gerasimov and Vlasius who also knew Latin, and with 
their aid he corrected the Triodion, the Hours, the Menaion, 
and the Apostolos. He rendered the psalter from Greek into 
Latin and the Latin was turned by his coadjutors into Slav. 
He is said, as we saw above, to have noticed gross errors in 
these books, intentionally introduced by Judaizers, for Jesus 
Christ was denominated in them a mere created man and de- 
clared to have died an eternal death.^ 

But neither the detection of these heretical opinions nor his 
polemics against the Latin and Armenian Churches and against 
Jews and Mohammedans saved his own reputation for ortho- 
doxy, and he was soon accused of having insulted the Russian 
saints and workers of miracles of old and of deflowering the old 
and sacred books of Cyril and Methodius. On Barlaam's 
death, the new Metropohtan Daniel, formerly prior of the 
Volokolam Monastery, openly charged him with arbitrarily 
altering the texts, and, like Henry VIII, the Tsar withdrew 

^ Palmieri, Chiesa Russa, p. 400. I have not been able to gain access to this 
publication of Mansvetov. 

2 See Plotnikov, Istoriia russkago Baskola, Petersb. 1905, p. 13. 


his patronage for the excellent reason that he would not join 
Daniel in sanctioning his divorce of the childless Empress 

In 1525 Daniel convened a council of doctors and condemned 
Maximus as a heretic, it is said because he had tripped in Rus- 
sian grammar. He was deported to the Volokolam Mon- 
astery where, illtreated by the monks, he nearly died of smoke, 
cold and hunger. In 1531 another council, at the instigation 
of Daniel, accused him of altering the creed by eUminating the 
epithet true used of the Holy Spirit. He was banished to the 
Otroch Uspenski Monastery in Tver, and forbidden to receive 
the Sacraments, — for him a great privation. In vain the 
Greek patriarchs interceded in his behalf and the bishop of 
Tver befriended him. The utmost concession made was to 
permit him to communicate, and he died, almost friendless, 
imprisoned in the Laura of S. Sergius in 1556.^ 

Yet he left behind him rules, simple and sagacious, for the 
guidance of future revisers, and described the corrector's art 
as a gift of the Holy Ghost. Above all he prescribed a knowl- 
edge of tongues, which must be studied under good teachers. 
His rules were expressed in the form of Greek stichoi or 
stanzas. A century later under Nikon his principles triumphed 
and the intimacy of the Russian with the Greek Churches was 
revived and encoiu-aged. 

We noticed above that Maximus gave offence by expvirging 
the one word true in the Creed. It comes in the eighth clause: 
And {we believe) in the Holy Spirit Lord true and giver of life. 
The older Slav MSS. are said to omit the word, and prior to 
Nikon some Service-books contained it, others not. The 
Stoglav^ (or hundred-headed) Council in 1551 decided in favour 
of omitting either Lord or true, but did not say which. A 
glance at the original Greek explains the difficulty. It runs: 
Kat et? TO TTvevfia to djiov to Kvpiov to ^(oottoiovv. Now the 
word Kvpiov may be rendered either as true or as Lord, 
and an early Russian translator had set one rendering in his 
text, the other no doubt in his margin, whence it had crept into 

1 Ivanovski has 1566. 

2 See p. 51. 


the text, so that many MSS. had the conflate reading: Gospoda, 
istinnogo, i. e. 'Lord, True.' 

Somewhat later than the accession to the throne of Tsar 
Michael Theodorovich a tragic dispute arose over a variant in 
the Epiphany rite of the Benediction of the Waters, a variant 
that must itself have had a long history behind it. In old 
copies it was asked that the water might be sanctified ''by the 
Holy Spirit and by Fire," a reminiscence perhaps of a variant 
found in some ancient sources which add after Matt. 3, 15, the 
words: "And when he was baptised, a mighty Ught shone 
around from the water, in such wise that all who had come 
thither were struck with fear." This addition, if not suggested 
by, at least accords with John the Baptist's prophecy contained 
in a preceding verse (3, 11) that the Messiah ** shall baptise you 
with the Holy Spirit and with Fire." However this may be, 
the words ' and with fire ' were expunged from a revision of the 
Russian Euchologion or Potrehnik, made chiefly from Slav MSS. 
by a certain archimandrite Dionysius of the Trinity-Sergius 
Monastery, who found the phrase in only two copies of the old 
Slav version, and in no Greek copy at all. He had two collabo- 
rators in his work of revision, which occupied a year and a half, 
the Elder Arsenius and a priest of the village of Klementev 
attached to the Monastery, named Ivan Nasedkin. Another 
important change they made was to exclude the two prayers 
before the hturgy in which the priest seeks remission of his 

The excision of the words ' and with fire ' drew down on these 
correctors the wrath of a member of the Laura of St. Sergius, 
Longinus, who is said to have regarded the arts of reading and 
writing as almost heretical. He had himself passed these sup- 
posed errors in his edition of the year 1610 and prided himself 
on his learning. He now accused them of denying the Spirit 
to be composed of fire — a very ancient opinion. Philaret, 
his abbot, encouraged him and by the joint efforts of the two 
Dionysius and his fellow-students were in 1618 haled before 
the Patriarch lona's court, and subjected to torture in the cells 
of the Ascension with the approval of Martha Ivanovna, mother 
of the Tsar. The mob raged against them, being told that 


they were guilty of the unparalleled heresy of banishing fire 
from the universe, and they were accused of heresy in front 
of the Kremlin and pelted with mud. Dionysius and Ivan 
Nasedkin were excommunicated by a council over which lona 
presided, and imprisoned in the Novospasski Monastery, 
to be dragged in fetters on festivals to the feet of lona the 
Patriarch. Arsenius who was deaf was imprisoned in the 
convent of S. Cyril. In the end however the new patriarch 
Philaret (1618) who had been ordained by Theophanes, 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, entertained Ivan Nasedkin's plea for 
mercy, and in 1619 they were pardoned. Ivan even received 
marks of the Tsar's favour, and was made priest of the court 
church. Dionysius also came into favour. Philaret at first 
did not venture to eliminate the words ' and with fire ' from the 
printed editions of the rite. In 1625 however, the patriarchs 
of Alexandria and Jerusalem decided against them, and Philaret 
had them struck out in all editions, although the immersion of 
lighted tapers in the water remained part of the Epiphany rite 
commemorating the Baptism of our Lord. Thus an ancient 
and respectable rite was mutilated of one of its most char- 
acteristic traits. It could hardly be otherwise in that ignorant 
age. A corrector was more likely to deprave a text than better 
it, for a Uttle knowledge is a dangerous thing. 

In short, as Ivanovski himself recognizes, such corrections 
as scholars of that age could make, were as likely to be for the 
worse as not, for how could they distinguish good from bad? 
Any attempts of the kind were sure to bear the impress of 
arbitrariness and ignorance; and it was futile for the Stoglav 
Council of 1551 to complain of church books being faulty. 
Their canon prescribing to copyists the use of correct versions 
and warning the higher clergy to supervise their industry was 
as difficult to observe as it was well meant. 

The first printing press was set up in Moscow in 1552, in the 
reign of Ivan, Vassilevich; it had been brought from Denmark 
by a printer named Hansa, who was assisted by the deacon 
Ivan Thedorov or Feodorov and Peter Timothy Mstislavets. 
Only church books were issued from it, and the Apostolos^ 

^ Rambaud, History of Biissia, more correctly, says: Acts of the Apostles. 


was the first book printed. It was followed by a Description 
of Moscow and the Book of Hours. It was hoped that the 
texts issued would be more correct, but the printers confessed 
their ignorance of what was or was not correct, and the press 
could but stereotype the errors of the particular MS. used. 
No better success greeted the laudable efforts of the Patriarch 
Hermogenes (1606) to obtain more correct texts by attaching to 
his press at Moscow a corps of scholars charged to compare the 
books already printed with the MSS. and to collate these with 
each other. It would seem that they confined themselves to 
Slav MSS., and those recent ones, sparing themselves the 
trouble of following the precept of the wise Maximus to study 
the Greek originals. As an example of the inefficiency of 
Russian scholars of that time, Ivanovski instances the Canon 
or Rule of divine service {Ustav = tvitlkov) printed in 1610, of 
which the Patriarch Philaret was obhged subsequently to 
collect and burn all copies, because its contents were of so 
startling and unauthorized a character. I should conjecture 
that they were merely archaic and original, and not in accord 
with then current standards of orthodoxy. I once saw the 
copies of old Nestorian codices upon which was based Bedjan's 
great repertoire of the liturgies of that ancient church, so 
beautifully printed at the Propaganda press in Rome. The 
copies were plentifully scored and underlined with red and blue 
chalk; the red signifying, so I was informed, passages to be 
entirely removed, the blue those to be amended in the interests 
of Roman orthodoxy; and I regretted greatly that these origi- 
nal readings were not given in an appendix or otherwise re- 
corded for the use of scholars. In mentioning this case, I 
convey no censure of the Roman Propaganda, for I am sure 
that the only intelligible procedure is that on which Rome 
insists, namely, on the one hand to print for modern church 
use officially authorized texts agreeable to current standards 
of orthodoxy, and on the other to allow scholars and liturgiolo- 
gists to edit for the learned world the more ancient texts 
exactly as they stand in the most ancient codices. This 
procedure the Roman Church follows in the case of Latin 
texts, and it encourages the Uniat Churches to do the same. 


No objection, for example, is placed in the way of the Armenian 
Mekhitarists of Vienna and Venice, if they like to print for 
liturgical scholars an Euchologion containing the ancient 
rites for the sacrifice of birds and f ourfooted animals ; but they 
would not be allowed to print these interesting but out of 
date rites and disseminate them for popular use. 

A number of grammarians and rhetoricians were employed 
by the patriarch Philaret (1612) to assist in editing the Church 
books, among them the Elder Arsenius the Deaf, Antony 
Krylov, the priest Ivan Nasedkin already mentioned, Elias 
the hegumen of the Theophany convent and even a layman 
Gregory Onisimov. One or two of these could read Greek, but 
made no use of their gift. But it marked a real advance when 
the Patriarch ordered a search to be made for older MSS. 
in other cities besides Moscow. Even texts written by the 
western Slavs were collected, though sparingly consulted from 
fear of their having been contaminated by Latin influences. 
Philaret's efforts were of course doomed to disappointment, 
and Ivanovski remarks that between later and earlier editions 
of the same service book wide discrepancies were discovered as 
soon as they were compared, especially in the rites of Epiphany 
and of Baptism; again, the Euchologia printed in 1625 and 1633 
included the rites for the adoption of children and of brethren 
{aBeX(f)07roLia) given in Greek prayerbooks; that of 1623 omitted 
them. It is clear that what the Russian Church dignitaries 
were intent upon was uniformity, and it was bound to be a 
mere accident if, in arriving at it, they did not exclude much 
that was old and had better have been retained, and include 
much modern rubbish which it was better to omit. 

The Patriarch Joasaph who succeeded Philaret in 1634, and 
died Nov. 28, 1640, issued edition after edition of Psalter, 
Euchologion, Menaea, Hours, Gospels, Triodion, Nomocanon, 
etc. Though he too insisted on old MSS. being consulted, 
he only made confusion worse confounded; and some of the 
books printed by his authority were in startUng disaccord 
with his predecessor's editions, especially the Euchologion 
of 1639, which stigmatized Philaret's rite for the Burial of 
Priests as having been drawn up by the heretical pope Jeremia 


of Bulgaria. Among the new books issued by him were a 
spelling book, an anthologion, a Triodion in four volumes, 
and a life of Nicholas the Wonder-worker. 

The activity of the Moscow Press was great under the 
next Patriarch, Joseph, who acceded in March, 1642.^ He ap- 
pointed Ivan, sacristan of the Uspenski Church; Joseph Nased- 
kin, the controverter of the Lutheran propagandist Prince 
Valdemar of Denmark, Protopope Michael Stephen Rogov; 
Silvester, archimandrite of the Androniev Monastery, Joannes, 
Protopope of the Alexandronevski Church along with certain 
presbyters and lajonen as a college of "correctors." But they 
did not go beyond Slav books in their quest for correcter 
texts, and the press under the direct management of the Tsar's 
favourite divine, Stephan Boniface, and of John Neronov, Pro- 
topope of the Kazan Church, for the most part merely issued 
reprints of the earher editions of the Patriarchs Job, Philaret, 
and Joasaph. Some sUght changes, however, were now made to 
suit the prescriptions of the Stoglav Council of ninety years 
before. Thus the passage where in earUer editions the Alleluia 
was thrice repeated, was now printed: ''Alleluia, Alleluia, 
glory to thee, God." At the same time a CyriUic rubric 
appeared in the Psalter, enjoining the faithful to cross them- 
selves with two fingers instead of three conjoined. Editors 
and controllers of the new presses generally adopted the two 
fingers, though within a few years the question of two or three 
fingers was to become a burning one. The Stoglav Council 
had enjoined the use of the two fingers only. A Russian 
grammar was printed in 1648, a Lives of Saints in 1646, 
HomiUes of Ephrem Syrus in 1643, a catena on the gospels 
by Theophylact the Bulgarian, Anastasius Sinaita, '^nd others 
in 1649. 

It speaks well for the Tsar Alexis Michailovich, that he 
undertook in May 1649 an edition of the Russian Bible revised 
from the Greek original, and wrote to the half PoUsh Metro- 
poUtan of Kiev, Silvester Kossov, to send to him scholars 
competent for the task.^ Two monks arrived, Epiphan Slave- 

1 Macarius Hist. t. 11, pp. 94-97. 

2 Macarius Hist. t. 12, p. 112 foil. Christian Readings 1883, Nov.-Dec. Art. 
Materials for Russian History. y ' 


netski and Arsenius Satanovski, an ill-sounding, but really 
local name. A young seigneur, Theodor Michailovich Rtish- 
chev (1625-1673), shared his prince's enthusiasm, and at his 
own expense erected outside Moscow, on the Kiev road, two 
versts away, a monastery in which the newly arrived teachers 
of Greek, of grammar, and of rhetoric, were to find a home. He 
himself w as their first pupil, and the learned men assembled there 
began at once the work of collating Slav texts with the Greek, 
and presently gave their results to the world in a new edition 
of the Church book called the Shestodnev (Hexahemeron) ; 
first printed in Cracow in the year 1491. This was the first 
work to be revised from 'good' Slav MSS. and at the same time 
from a Greek text, and Nikon put it forward as an example for 
future editors of sacred texts. At the instance of this Tsar 
sundry Greek divines now began to visit Moscow, where alone 
in the Orthodox world they could collect alms for themselves. 
One of the best-known was Paisius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, who 
stayed there four months during which he consecrated Nikon 
archbishop of Novgorod, and had time, according to Nikon, 
to notice not a few ritual discrepancies between his own and 
the Russian Church. The result was that a Russian Presbyter, 
who knew Greek, Arsen Sukhanov, was commissioned in 1649 
to accompany Paisius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, on his return 
in order to report upon Greek rites. Arsen was a cultivated 
man for his age and architect of the Theophany convent 
in the Kremlin, a dependency of the Trinity-Serge Laura, 
and a partisan in rehgion of the old national tradition. On 
their way they halted at Jassy, in Roumania. In the sequel 
he twice went to Greece and back, and in the course of one of 
his journeys brought back some hundreds of Greek codices 
which are among the treasures of the Synodal Ubrary of 
Moscow. For this alone his name deserves to be remembered. 
He also pubhshed the results of his investigations in four ^'Dia- 
logues upon Faith with the Greeks,'' ^ in which he somewhat 

* Prenia o VierU. It is doubtful if they were written as early as 1650; the 
Proskinitari (i. e. Worshipper), on which see below p. 44, was written after his 
return from the East in 1653. In the first dialogue held April 24, 1650, the 
Patriarch Meletius, Metropolitan of Braila, challenges the Riissian use of two 
fingers only in blessing, and Arsenius defends it as the usage of St. Andrew, the 


wavered over the use of the three fingers in blessing, though he 
observed it among the monks of Athos. We shall see later on 
that members of the Raskol appealed to Arsen's work in evi- 
dence of the fatal decadence and even apostasy of the Greeks; 
judged from an old Russian standpoint, with no Uttle reason. 
About the same time Gabriel, metropoUtan of Nazareth visited 
Moscow, and while there took no less exception to the use of 
two fingers than his colleague of Jerusalem. 


In 1652 the patriarch Joseph died, to be followed by one whose 
fanaticism was to break the orthodox church in two over 
utterly insignificant issues, and originate a schism which lasts 
until to-day with results to Russian society and polity of which 
the importance can hardly be overestimated. 

This was Nikon,^ named Nicetas in the world before he 
donned the monastic garb. Born in 1605 of peasant and pos- 
sibly Finnish stock in Veldemanov, a village in the province of 
Nizhegorod, he learned to read and write at the village school, 
bringing to his task the rugged strength and superstitious 
temperament of a common peasant. At twelve years of age 
he entered the monastery of St. Macarius of Zheltovody on the 
Volga in the same Government, where he soon distinguished 
himself above other novices by his apphcation to learning and 
his asceticism. When he was twenty his parents persuaded 
him to marry, and, ordained one of the white clergy, he took a 
cure of souls in Moscow; before he was thirty his three chil- 
dren died, and, persuading his wife to take the veil, he himself 
took monkish vows and retired to the Skete or hermitage of 
Anzer on the White Sea. His was an imperious nature, and 
within five years, in consequence of a quarrel with his col- 
leagues over the building of a church, he departed thence to 
become the hegumen or prior of the Kozheozerski ^ Monastery 

illuminator of Russia. Arsenius equally maintains the Russian baptism by triple 
immerson to have been introduced in Russia by the Apostle and condemns the 
Greek usage of baptising sick infants by sprinkling only. 

1 Strannik 1863, t. 3: Macarius Hist. t. 11: Solovev. Hist. Rms. t. 11. 

2 Perhaps Kusheryetskoe, close to Onega, in the railway map of A. Ilin of 1908. 
Waliszewski, however, locates it in the district of Kargopol in the eparchy of 
Novgorod, so also the Russian Encyclopedia, xxi, 139. 


on Lake Kozhe on the western shore of the White Sea, In that 
capacity he had occasion to visit Moscow to attend a council 
held there in 1645-6. There he attracted the notice of the 
Tsar Alexis who preferred him to the position of archimandrite 
in the Novospasski convent in the Capital. The Tsar entrusted 
him with the fulfilment of many pubhc duties and invited him 
every week to the Kremhn in order to converse with him, and 
it is a good trait in the ecclesiastic that he availed himself of 
his intimacy with the Prince to intercede in behalf of widows 
and orphans denied their rights by venal courts of justice. 

Two years later he was made Metropohtan of Novgorod 
where he helped to put down the revolt of 1650, sheltering in 
his own house the Voivoda KMlkov, when his own hfe also was 
threatened by the populace. In July 1652, at the age of 
forty- seven, he was chosen patriarch at the Tsar's instance, 
though on his own terms, and with the approval of Synod, 
clergy and people, who had to go down on their knees to him 
before he would accept the Patriarchate. He was already, 
as we saw, a favourite with the Tsar, who presently (1654) 
conferred on him the title and authority of grand vizier, 
Gosudar or Regent, never till then conferred on anyone except 
Philaret, Patriarch in 1618, and the father of Michael Theo- 
dorovitch the first of the Romanov's. When the Tsar was 
away conducting his wars, it now devolved on Nikon to look 
after his family, govern the State and control the Boyars or 
great nobles who had to make to him the reports which they 
ordinarily made to the sovereign, and render to him an account 
of all their doings. 

Historians give no unfavom-able picture of his activity at 
the beginning of his patriarchate. He was severe indeed with 
his clergy and so rigid a disciphnarian that some charged him 
with being a tyrant, but in so disorderly an age it was necessary 
to be strict. One step he took at once which conmiends itself 
to all Church reformers. Instead of the ready-made homihes 
for all sorts of occasions he tried to revive the art of preach- 
ing, and encouraged his clergy to use their natural gifts of 
eloquence. This was to innovate on old custom, and contrasts 
with the system which was in vogue in the Russian Church a 


few years ago, if it is not still/ of obliging the clergy to submit 
their sermons to censors before they are delivered from the 
pulpit. Another of his aims was to introduce uniformity, a 
measure which needed much tact in view of the discrepancies 
which existed between the rites of one place and another, for 
editions of church-books differed and still more widely the 
manuscript copies still in vogue; and in different localities the 
clergy and monks were likely to be jealous of interference with 
rites already in use. But there was also much disorder in 
Church Services that called for instant correction; for example 
it was only decent that prayers and canticles should be recited 
or sung in one tone unisono, and not in several at once, and it 
was a scandal that in order to get through the liturgy as quickly 
as possible it was customary for one priest to be reading, 
another singing, and the deacon crying his ecteni, all three 
at once. In the church singing it was also usual to interpolate 
vowels and prolong the voice upon them to the detriment 
of the sense. This was, it appears, an offence in Nikon's eyes, 
though it is not unknown in other Churches, and as it is the 
rule in the Armenian Church, it may have been ancient in the 
Slav Churches. Most of these irregularities had already 
been reproved by the Stoglav Council, as well as by the Patri- 
archs Hermogenes and Joseph, but in vain. Nikon now set 
about to correct them by sterner methods, and he also lost no 
time in chastising the fashionable artists who were beginning 
to paint ikons for rich men's houses in the gaudy style of the 
Latins. He collected their masterpieces, burned them, and 
on pain of anathema forbade painters for the future to prosti- 
tute in such a manner their sacred craft. In spite, however, 
of such conservatism in the matter of art, Nikon threw the 
weight of his authority on the side of those who favoured the 
correcting of the old rites and service books, and even headed 
the new movement, choosing Greek and Slav of western origin 
as his models. ''Though I am Russian,' he said at the Council 

^ Pobedonostseff, Procurator of the holy Synod, in his Reflections of a Russian 
Statesman (London 1898), after insisting on the want of simplicity, unnatural 
intonation, conventional phrases of Protestant preachers, adds: "We feel here 
how faithfully our Church has been adapted to human natm-e in excluding sermons 
from its services. By itself our whole service is the best of sermons," p. 214. 


of 1656, 'I am in faith and convictions a Greek." Accordingly 
he introduced Greek ambons, Greek pastoral staffs, Greek 
cowls, cloaks, hymns, painters, silversmiths, Greek architec- 
ture. He invited Greeks to Moscow and followed their advice 
in everything. 

We have already mentioned the trips to Greek centres under- 
taken by Arsen Sukhanov at the instance of the Tsar Michael. 
When he returned to Moscow in June 1653 he dedicated a vol- 
ume entitled Proskinitari to his prince and to the new Patriarch 
Nikon; to this book, although it barely influenced the latter's 
reforms, as it had been intended to do, a certain importance 
attaches, because upon it, as upon his four discussions with the 
Greeks, alluded to above (p. 40), the Raskol teachers later 
on based their charge of apostasy against the Greeks, a charge 
sufficiently absurd in view of the fact that the author expresses 
no sort of doubt about the orthodoxy of the Greek Churches 
and even regards them, especially that of Alexandria, as a 
court of appeal for the resolution of doubts which had arisen 
in Russia with regard to particular points of ritual. It con- 
tained a pilgrim's guide to the Holy Places, of the kind familiar 
in the early literature of every church, along with the answers 
of the Alexandrine Patriarch to certain questions propounded 
by Arsen. One of these regarded the Alleluia, as to which 
the Patriarch decided that it ought to be repeated thrice with 
the addition of the words: "Glory to thee, God!" Arsen 
notes sundry liturgical variations in the Greek Churches from 
Russian usage, e. g. the use in the Eucharistic office of only 
five prosphorai instead of seven, withershins processions, etc. 
But it was especially the concessions to Western or Latin 
usages that shocked him; for example, they admitted baptism 
by sprinkling, they had adopted Prankish vestments; they as- 
sociated with the Franks even in church, ate in their society 
and intermarried with them. In Jerusalem the orthodox and 
Armenian patriarchs visited one another and went to church 
together. The Armenian even dehvered the Benediction in 
church, and afterwards entertained the Greek patriarch, the 
Turkish pasha being among the guests. ^ 

* From time immemorial the monophysite Armenians have shared the Church 


Arsen also criticised the slovenliness with which the 
Greeks conducted their services. Their priests, no less than 
their laity, wore turbans in church, and the monks attended 
without their cloaks. Their Patriarch ate sweetmeats in Lent 
and on fast days ; at Bethlehem on the feast of the Nativity a 
mass of pilgrims slept in the church and defiled it. The ref- 
erence here is hardly to the usage of incubation in a church, 
which still lasted on in the Caucasian Chiirches, especially 
on the night of the Feast of St. John. Probably the pilgrims 
used the Church of Bethlehem as a caravanserai. Is it possible, 
however, that Arsen merely witnessed the all-night service 
which we find in old Eastern prayerbooks, e. g. in the Armenian? 
It is noteworthy that he says nothing in the book either for or 
against the use of the two fingers in blessing. 

This wholesale canonization was both cause and effect of 
the growing belief that Moscow was the third Rome. Russia 
was no longer beholden to a Constantinople that was become a 
centre of Mahommedan heresy. The Sun of righteousness there 
eclipsed shone afresh on the Moskva. 

Three men above others had worked for this triumph of 
nationahsm in the ecclesiastical sphere, Joseph Sanin, prior and 
founder of the Volokolam monastery and his disciples Daniel 
and Macarius, both metropoUtans of Moscow. They repre- 
sented three generations from 1500 to 1550. Their monastery 
was a fashionable training school for the higher clergy and a 
focus of nationaUst propaganda. They had not however 
Nikon's idea of asserting the rights of the Church as such; 
and consohdation of the spiritual ran for them hand in hand 
with aggrandisement of the Moscovite despotic state. The 
Church consecrated the State which in return protected it and 
guaranteed its privileges. The way was marked out for the 
Church in Russia to become what it was in old Byzantium, the 
humble servant of secular despotism. Nikon a century later 
essayed to free the Church of which he was the head from 

of the Sepulchre with the Latins and Greeks and great pictures of their saints 
adorn its walls. If ever the Holy Synod of Moscow acquires jurisdiction over 
the Holy places, the Armenian heretics certainly, and the Latin schismatics 
probably, will be served with notices to quit. 


Erastian control. He met the fate of St. Thomas of Canter- 
bury. He championed the Patriarchal against the Imperial 
prerogatives, and failed. His failure signified the erection in 
Russia of a lay Papacy of the Tsar which lasted until yesterday. 

Nikon's Reforms 

Shchapov fifty years ago compared the Raskol to Lot's 
wife who looked back, and in the act of doing so was turned into 
a pillar of salt. The comparison is unfair; for the schism was 
for those who engaged in it the beginning of religious emanci- 
pation, of inward liberty and comparative enUghtenment. 
It is the dominant orthodox Church which may rather be 
accused of petrifaction and putrifaction. It remains true 
however that the Raskol leaders in the 17th century stood for 
the exclusive nationalism in spiritual matters that had tri- 
umphed a hundred years earlier under Ivan in the Stoglav 
council. They could not rid themselves of the old suspicion 
of the Levantine Greek. Nikon conquered it, and even headed 
a reaction against a nationalism which prejudiced the ecumen- 
icity of his country's Church, and was an implicit negation of 
its claim to be a worldwide and ancient faith. In his ignorant 
zeal for ecumenicity he was ready to adopt from the fawning 
Greek ecclesiastics, whom he invited to Moscow and who were 
ready to deceive him, much that was merely modern, much that 
was trivial. The partisans of antiquity were shocked to note 
how whimsical were his alterations of the old service books. 
Why substitute temple for church and vice versa? Why change 
children into scions, cross into tree, and so on? Why was a 
new fangled phrase better than an old one? How did the old 
reading violate di\ine writ? They discerned accordingly httle 
in his corrections but wilful hatred of the old, and parodied his 
instructions to Arsenius thus: '^ Print the books as you Uke, 
provided only you discard the old way." 

Their disgust with the correctors was complete, when it was 
found — what modern scholarship confirms — that they did 
not in practice adhere to their own canon of comparing the 
Cyrillic texts with old Greek books. Recent hturgical scholars 
in Russia have shewn that of the 500 Greek MSS. brought to 


Moscow by Sukhanov for Nikon's use from the East only- 
seven were consulted in editing the service books afresh. The 
Greek euchologion printed by the Latins at Venice in 1602 was 
almost the only text which they regularly employed. Nikon's 
intentions no doubt were good, but he and his band lacked the 
scholarship necessary to carry them out. Well might Awa- 
kum, the Raskol leader, write to the Tsar as follows: "Thou, 
Michailovich, art a Russian, not a Greek. Then use your 
own native tongue, and forbear to depreciate it in Church, in 
home and elsewhere. Does God love us less than the Greeks? 
Has he not given us our books in our own tongue by the hand 
of Cyril and Methodius? What do we want better than that? 
The tongue of angels? Alas, that we may not hear until the 
general resurrection comes!" It was Nikon's substitution, 
probably suggested by Latin texts in which it survives, of 
Kyrie eleison for the old Russian equivalent Gospodi pomilui 
which motived this outburst. Awakum and his partisans, 
notably Ivan Neronov and Stephan Boniface, were not in 
principle opposed to the use of Greek texts in editing the 
Russian ones. Under the patriarch Joseph (died 1652) they 
had even participated in the work of revision led by the 
learned monks whom Rtishchev brought from Kiev; and the 
old beUevers still use today the editions printed under Joseph. 
Their revolt was due to three causes: the violence of Nikon, 
the capricious manner in which under his auspices their Church 
was being Grecized, and the insolence with which the monks 
of Athos condemned their earher essays in correction and 
made a bonfire of the service books printed in Moscow. 

Having equipped himself, as he imagined, with the authority 
of the Sister Churches, Nikon took the first step in 1653 of 
imposing the use of three fingers in blessing. This at once 
evoked a protest from Paul, bishop of Kolomna, from Ivan 
Neronov, Protopope of the Kazanski church and from another 
Protopope Awakum, or as we say, Habakkuk, of the ancient 
Yurievets convent on the Volga who was staying in Moscow. 
''It looks like winter coming," the latter is said to have 
remarked; and with the aid of another Protopope, Daniel of 
Kostroma, he proceeded to draw up a catena of authorities in 


support of the use of two fingers — no less Greek in origin 
than the rival use — and of the old fashion in the matter of 
prostrations. They presented their catena to the Tsar, thereby 
embittering not a little their relations with Nikon, to whom the 
Tsar passed it on and whose election as patriarch they had 
opposed. They pretended that any books corrected before 
Nikon were orthodox, any after him Latin and heretical. 
There was nothing he could do or suggest that was right. 
But Nikon was too strong for them and Neronov quickly 
found himself relegated to the Kamenski Monastery on the 
Kubenski lake near Vologda. Awakum also found himself 
excluded by his fellow clergy from the Kazanski Church when 
he went thither prepared to celebrate as usual and read his 
sermon to the congregation; thereupon he retired to Neronov's 
house, where he read vespers in the bath-house and succeeded 
in getting some of his old parishioners to attend his ministra- 
tions. He did not, however, despair of the Tsar, and, in con- 
junction with other Protopopes, Daniel of Kostroma and 
Longinus of Murom, who had been correctors of Service books 
for the press under the Patriarch Joseph, drew up a petition 
and despatched it to his prince. The only result was that 
Daniel was unfrocked and exiled to Astrakhan where he died; 
Longinus was also unfrocked, and banished to Murom. Awa- 
kum, still a young man (he was born near Novgorod in 1620) 
was spared at the Tsar's instance and banished with all his 
family to the depths of Siberia, to the region called Daura. 
On his way thither he sowed the seeds of religious revolt. 
Such was the result of trying to preserve a mode of blessing 
himself which every Russian had learned on his mother's knee, 
Nikon himself among others. 

From his place of exile Neronov wrote to the Tsar, accusing 
Nikon of heresy, and the latter, aware of the fact that his prince 
was not yet won over to the use of two fingers, — as according 
to Ivanovski, Nikon himself was not at this stage, having only 
taken action to please his Greek colleagues, — resolved to lay 
matters before a Council, which was accordingly convened in 
1654 in the royal palace. Before it Nikon, no doubt ignorantly, 
condemned the secret recitation at the beginning of the liturgy 


of the priest's prayer for remission of his sins, — a topic I have 
discussed above; and he also urged the practice of depositing 
rehcs under the altar when a church was first consecrated. 
He thus reserved the issue of the two fingers, but in other 
respects aspired to change old customs in accordance with the 
Greek books. The plan of issuing corrected service books was 
not opposed, though it was found impossible to come to an 
agreement about prostrations and genuflexions. In support 
of the old rule on such points observed in Moscow, Paul of 
Kolomna, appealed to an old parchment, and recorded his 
opinion in the acts of the Council. By doing so he drew down 
on his head the wrath of Nikon who objected to learning when 
it did not accord with his views. No sooner was the Council 
at an end, than Paul was expelled from his see, subjected to 
corporal punishment and locked up in prison where he lost 
his reason and died in a manner unrecorded. The Raskolniki 
of the time, however, testify that he was burned aUve near 

Nikon had already despatched afresh Arsenius Sukhanov, on 
his return to Moscow, to Athos and other centres of the East 
in quest of Greek originals on which to base the revision he had 
in mind of the old Russian service books; for the proceedings 
of 1653-4 seem to have inspired even him with misgivings, not 
to be silenced by any knouting and exiUng of his opponents. 
Accordingly he had resolved in 1654 to send a fresh mission of 
enquiry to Constantinople, and this time he selected a Greek 
named Manuel, who had lived for a time in Moscow, to lay 
his queries before the Patriarch Paisius and the doctors of New 
Rome. A year later about May 1655, Manuel returned with 
the answers which Paisius ^ of Constantinople had penned 
Dec. 1654 to the twenty-eight queries put to him by Nikon, 
and being on his own ground Paisius, after dealing with them, 
ventured to address to Nikon some very sound advice as to the 
necessity of compromise in such trumpery disputes: "You 
complain," he wrote, ''of discrepancies on certain points of 
ritual which exist in local churches, and you apprehend harm 
to our faith from these differences. For that much I conmiend 

1 Christ. Readings, 1881, No. 3-4. 


you, since one who so keenly fears to slip in small things is 
hkely to safeguard himself in great; nevertheless we would 

correct your timidity If it should happen that certain 

churches vary from others in usages of no importance and 
unessential for the faith, for example with regard to the time ^ 
when the Hturgy is performed or over the question with what 
fingers a priest ought to bless,^ and such like, these issues should 
provoke no dissensions . . . Nor ought we to imagine it to be 
prejudicial to our orthodoxy, that somebody or other enter- 
tains other modes of ritual observance than ourselves in matters 
that are not essential to the Faith." He appeals to Epi- 
phanius and other Fathers in proof that rites had grown up 
little by little and were never uniform. 

As to Nikon's queries with regard to the Sacraments he 
writes: "As touching the polemics which you raise over the 
rite of the divine Sacrament, we implore you to put a stop to 
them; for a servant of the Lord it is unbecoming to embroil 
himself over trifles which do not belong to the articles of 
faith." This good advice Paisius tendered in the name of the 
Council he had convoked at Constantinople to discuss the 
Russian business. It was attended by 24 metropohtans. 

None the less Paisius tempers these mild rebukes with stern 
reproaches against Nikon's opponents, Paul of Kolomna and 
Ivan Neronov, who had denied their signatures to the decrees 
of the Moscow synod of 1654. They are corrupt and stiff- 
necked schismatics whom Nikon will do well to excommunicate, 
because they have impugned the vahdity of the prayers that 
Paisius and other Greek Patriarchs have approved. As to 
the number of fingers, although, as we have seen, Paisius 
regarded it as a matter of little importance, he recognizes 
that ancient Greek custom in making the sign of the cross was 
in favor of joining the first three fingers, for the three joined 
together symbohzed the Trinity better than two. The epistle 
of Paisius was accepted later on as authoritative by the Russian 
Council of 1667. 

' The Greeks celebrated at the third hour, except on Holy Thursday and Sat- 
urday, when the service was held in the evening, as in Armenia. 

2 Palmer in his work "The Patriarch and the Tsar," vol. II, p. 408 inexplicably 
omits the words: "with what fingers to bless." 


To return to Nikon. Duly installed as patriarch, he pro- 
ceeded to search the library of his residence, and in it he found 
a chrysobuUa or patriarchal document relating to the estab- 
lishment of the Russian Patriarchate in 1589. It was dated 
May 8, 1590 and bore the subscriptions of the Eastern patri- 
archs, who assisted, Jeremiah of Constantinople, ecumenical 
patriarch, and others. In it, it was stipulated that the said 
patriarch must in all matters agree with them, and it contained 
the symbol of faith in Greek, with the single epithet to Kvptov 
(Lord or chief) in the eighth clause. He found the same 
symbol inscribed in Greek letters upon a cope brought to 
Moscow two hundred and fifty years before by the Metropoh- 
tan Photius. He also noted sundry omissions and additions 
in the service books of his Church. 

A visit was paid to Moscow in April, 1653, by the deposed 
Athanasius Patellarius, formerly Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, nine months after Nikon's elevation to his new dignity. 
Athanasius died in April, 1654, on his return journey, at the 
monastery of Lubni in the Government of Poltava, but during 
his stay in Russia in receipt of royal alms, he had urged 
Nikon not to insist on the use of the two fingers in blessing, and 
also to promulgate the rest of the so-called 'reforms' which 
he was minded to introduce, regardless of the circumstance 
that they directly violated the decisions of the Council of 
Stoglav or a hundred heads. 

The Council of Stoglav 

This Coimcil had been held in 1551 expressly to decide 
many of the issues now to be decided by Nikon according to 
his newer Hghts. The first of these regarded the number of 
fingers to be extended in blessing or exorcising oneself or others 
(it is all the same thing) with the sign of the cross. The 
Council was motived in its decision by various reasons : because 
Christ had so blessed his apostles at his ascension; because the 
ikon of Tikhvin at Novgorod, of the Mother and Child, painted, 
hke so many holy pictures, by St. Luke, represented the 
Messiah extending two fingers, and not one, as the Monophy- 


sites, or three, as the Latins were supposed to do. Ivanovski 
irreverently suggests that the said ikon was never painted 
by St. Luke at all. Thirdly, the Council appealed to a passage 
of the Father Theodoret, which Ivanovski, who is monstrously 
critical when by being so he can upset Old believers, declares 
to be supposititious. He deals similarly with a certain legend 
about S. Meletius, bishop of Sebaste and later on patriarch 
of Alexandria, and shews that the Stoglav misinterpreted their 
Theodoret and Sozomen. 

The same Council had insisted on a double Alleluia as 
opposed to a triple one, and had argued, with more subtiUty 
than we might expect from such an assembly, that as the word 
Alleluia already signified the same thing as Glory to thee God, 
therefore, if you repeated it thrice and added that formula, 
you really repeated it four times, at the risk of implying four 
persons in the Trinity instead of three, — a shocking impiety 
of which in the fifth and succeeding centuries the Armenians 
and other monophysites commonly accused the adherents of the 
Council of Chalcedon. In favour of the double Alleluia the 
Stoglav Fathers also adduced an old ' Life ' of S. Euphrosyn of 
Pskov according to which the Virgin herself stood sponsor, in a 
dream she vouchsafed to the saint, for this particular usage. 
But the Council of 1667, which could be critical at the expense 
of a theological antagonist, unkindly voted this 'Life' to be 
an apocryph. We have already noticed that the Stoglav 
decided in favour of reciting in clause 8 of the symbol not 
both, but only one, no matter which, of the rival epithets 
which in many MSS. dignified the Spirit. Another of their 
canons. No. 95, is of peculiar interest, because it prescribes 
the keeping of the Sabbath, no less than of the Sunday, as a 
holy day or feast, in accordance with the so-called canons of the 
Apostles, already abrogated by canon 29 of the Council of 
Laodicea of A. D, 343-381. In Russia it seems that the former 
set of canons were ascribed to Saints Peter and Paul, and 
Joasaph, a Patriarch who preceded Nikon, had anathematised 
those who sabbatised^ and blasphemously invoked in favour of 
doing so the authority of St. Peter. This Sabbatarian precept 

* The Sabbatarians still exist in Russia as a separate sect. 


of the Stoglav Council the Raskol themselves set aside, so 
exposing themselves to a charge of inconsistency. 

Nikon's adherents in 1667 imputed no malice to the Bishops 
who formed the Stoglav Coimcil in 1551, nothing worse than 
simplicity and ignorance, as if Moscow had made a great 
stride in the matter of enhghtenment during the hundred 
years. What had really happened in the interim was that the 
Rulers of Moscow had got into touch with the leading Greek 
sees in the epoch of their deepest decadence and darkest igno- 
rance, with the result that a certain revival of Greek learning 
was observable in the higher ranks of the Russian clergy. 
Any revision of Slav rites and texts could under such conditions 
only lead to ehmination of much that was ancient and sincere. 

But the chief significance of the Stoglav council lay in 
this : — it marked the triumph of a tendency, which had long 
been at work, to elevate the Russian Church from being a mere 
see under the jurisdiction of Constantinople to the dignity of 
an independent national Church. It was a grave shock to Rus- 
sian Christians when the Patriarch of Constantinople insisted 
that the metropohtan Isidore, lately consecrated by him, must 
attend the Council of Florence. He did so, but on returning 
to Moscow was deposed. The fall of Constantinople was 
regarded in Moscow as a punishment of the Greeks for their 
apostasy, and the conviction gained ground that, old and new 
Rome having both of them apostatised, Moscow was the third 
Rome and the Tsar the only orthodox prince. Russian divines 
now began to cast about for an apostoUc origin of their Church, 
and the legend grew up that St. Andrew had founded it. 
Nikon accepted this mjd^h.' 

A legend was also started that the rulers of Moscow derived 
their secular authority direct from Prus, a brother of the 
Emperor Augustus. With the triumph of the centralized 
state at Moscow over the appanages, or more or less autonomous 

1 Similarly the Armenians, when they began to quarrel with the Greelcs and 
wanted their Church to be something better than a dependency of Caesarea of 
Cappadocia, invented the fable that Christ had descended in person at Valar- 
shapat before the eyes of a Cathohcos — who was really a Greek missionary. 
Simultaneously they appropriated to themselves the Syriac legend of King Abgar 
and Addai. 


local Slavonic provinces, it was also felt to be necessary to 
assemble in the capital the local cults of saints dispersed all 
over Russia in almost every town and village. It was Uke the 
ancient Roman adoption of the gods of Veii, which were dragged 
with due pomp from their own city to Rome. The famous 
ikon of the Saviour reverenced at Novgorod was now removed 
to Moscow, as were countless rehcs and miraculous pictures 
from other places. By order of Ivan the terrible, a search for 
local saints and legends began in 1547; and 40 were promptly 
discovered, whose miracles entitled them to a place in the 
new national pantheon. Macarius the metropoUtan was 
charged to compile an all-Russian hagiology, and thenceforth 
the Russian Church could not be accused of lacking saints and 

The 'position of affairs in 1655 

We are now at the year 1655, and twelve years are to pass 
before the Council of 1667 consmnmates the schism already 
begun in the bosom of Russian Christianity. During those 
years no effort was spared to bring Moscow into closer associa- 
tion with Greek centres of piety, to assimilate old Slav rites 
to such Greek models as were obtainable. Russian prelates 
could not but reverence the Greek Church as the parent of their 
own rehgion, and their first patriarch Job had been conse- 
crated by Jeremiah of Constantinople, as Philaret by Theo- 
phanes of Jerusalem. It was after all a slender minority that 
raised among themselves doubts as to the orthodoxy of the 
Greeks, and Stefan Bonifatsi, Nikon's rival for the patri- 
archate, expressly bore witness thereto in his Book on the Faith, 
printed in Moscow in 1649, — a work much appealed to at a 
later date by the Raskol on account of the chronology it 
afforded them of Antichrist's reign on earth. Nevertheless, 
as Ivanovski candidly recognizes, there was always a school of 
thinkers in his country that distrusted the Greeks. The early 
chronicler of Kiev, Nestor, wrote that they were ever deceivers, 
and the natural antipathy of a virile race for the debased 
Levantine was intensified by the open apostasy to Rome of 
the Greek Emperor, John Palaeologus and his higher clergy 


at the Council of Florence in 1439, when under the guidance 
of the Patriarch Ignatius even Isidore, the Greek Metropolitan 
of Moscow, became a backslider, to the horror of Prince VasiU 
and his subjects. The result was that Russian Christians 
then formed the conviction that no orthodoxy survived in the 
entire world outside their own pale, and the fall of Constanti- 
nople was regarded as a judgment upon backshders. As for 
the Western Church the Russians consistently regarded it as 
the vilest of heresies, and have never ceased to empty the vials 
of their wrath and scorn upon the Poles, because, being Slavs, 
they are filled with the spirit of apostasy. The recent war, as 
regards Russia and Austria, was, from one point of view, an 
episode in the age-long struggle of Byzantium and Rome. It 
reproduced once more the quarrel of the Patriarch Photius 
and the Pope of Rome for jurisdiction over Bulgaria just over 
a thousand years ago. 

Abominating the West and suspicious of the East, it is not 
wonderful that the Orthodox Church has ever suffered from 
intellectual anaemia and chosen for its motto: ''no learning, 
no heresy." Nikon's patronage therefore of Greek learning 
only served to rouse distrust of his new methods and placed 
a fresh weapon in the hands of those whom his autocratic 
violence had already aUenated. His associations with Kiev 
and the doctors of South Western Russia did not in any way 
weaken these prejudices, for Kiev during the XVIth and 
XVIIth Centuries was little more than a centre of Latin culture; 
amid the Little Russians there had been a movement in the 
XVIth Century for union with Rome; and not only in Eastern 
GaUcia, but also in the Polish province of Cholm (or Holm), 
there are still found millions of Ruthenes or Little Russians, 
who were educated by those greatest of teachers, the Jesuits, 
three centuries ago, still retaining the Cyrillic Slav rites, but 
recognizing the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome. 

It deepened popular suspicions against the "Correctors," 
that they allowed to be printed in Moscow various books of 
doubtful orthodoxy written by divines of these outlying and 
more or less Latinized Slav churches. Such was the "Cate- 
chism" of Laurence Zizania (an ominous name) of Korets, 


now in the Volynski or Volhynia Government. Zizania wrote 
in Lithuanian about 1600 and was a teacher at Lvov, or Lem- 
berg, in doctrine opposed to the Uniats. Nevertheless, as we 
might expect in a book written in a city so deeply influenced by 
Jesuit learning, his Catechism was tainted with Latin heresies 
and even inculcated the doctrine of Purgatory. The Boyar 
Rtishchev incurred censiu-e because in his school near Moscow 
he admitted teachers from Kiev; and in 1650 three conserva- 
tive Russian divines, Ivan Vasilev Zasetski, Luke Timothy 
Golosov, and Constantine Ivanov, clerk of the Blagovesh- 
chenski or Annunciation church met at the monk Saul's lodg- 
ings in order to formulate their indictment against an institu- 
tion in which Greek and Western Slav learning was held in 

In the Spring of 1655 Nikon ^ availed himself of the presence 
in Moscow of two foreign prelates, Macarius of Antioch and 
Gabriel of Servia, to convene a synod, which he hoped would 
support him in his emendations of the Russian Service books, 
and in the use of three fingers instead of two. There was also a 
dispute as to the right ceremony of reconciUng Latins, which 
meant Poles, to the Orthodox Communion; some holding that 
they should be rebaptized; others, merely anointed. Nikon 
here shewed better sense than the Greek Church did, by rang- 
ing himself with the latter party, who had on their side the 
weight of the ancient and undivided Church. The synod met 
in March and confirmed the decisions arrived at by the Council 
of the year before. It also gave its formal approval to a new 
edition of the Sluzhehnik or missal which was printed and dis- 
tributed towards the close of the year to all the churches in 
Russia; it was the first of the corrected books to be thus dis- 
tributed *'by authority." 

Nikon, in spite of his dictatorial instincts, was consistently 
anxious to present his reforms as an expression of the mind of 
the entire Orthodox Church and not of the Russian hierarchy 
alone. For this reason in 1655-56 he had printed and distrib- 
uted a collection of writings, called Skrizhal, relative to the crisis, 
penned in 1653 by Paisius of Jerusalem, which |Arsenius had 
* Macarius Hist. vol. 11. 


rendered into Russian. The Synod of April 1656 ratified its 
contents. Skrizhal was the Russian equivalent for the tables of 
the Mosaic commandments or a bishop's pectoral. The book 
contained a commentary on the Uturgy and other priestly rites, 
with the Byzantine prelate's letter on the use of the two 
fingers and the credo. In a later edition were included Nikon's 
address to the Synod of 1656 and other controversial tracts. 
In that year Nikon thought the time was at last come for 
putting an end to the differences which prevailed in the rites 
and books used in the churches all over Russia, and he resolved 
to call in en masse, in order to bring about their destruction, 
all the discordant texts, and to issue instead to all parishes his 
authorized versions. He was wilUng to brave the chorus of 
disapproval sure to be roused by the wholesale condemnation 
of books printed by his predecessors as well as of MSS. which 
had been for centuries the object of almost superstitious 
reverence and had been from the beginning in the hands of 
Russian saints and workers of miracles; for he had secured in 
advance the approval of Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch, of 
Gabriel of Serbia, of Gregory of Nicea and of Gedeon of Mol- 
davia, who were all staying in Moscow and present at his 
Synod in 1656. The Synod met on February 12, the day of 
St. Meletius, and began with the perusal of an apocryphal life 
of the Saint, in which it was related how, when engaged in a 
controversy with the Arians, he had drawn sparks of fire from 
heaven by joining two fingers together and then adding a third 
in crossing himself.-^ Next Macarius was formally asked to 
interpret the legend, and answered that it signified the usage on 
which Nikon had set his heart; whereupon the Synod ratified 
it as an act symbohc of the Holy Trinity. The members of 
the Council then proceeded to the Uspenski church to hear 
mass which was performed by the prelate Macarius, Gabriel 

1 The usage condemned was that of extending the index and middle finger, 
while crouching the fourth and fifth over the thumb in the palm of the hand. 
The extended middle finger was slightly bent. The explanation now given of 
this usage by Greek monks is that the first two fingers represent IC, the other 
two and the thumb XC, i. e. the customary Greek abbreviations for ' Jesus 
Christ.' Nikon substituted the rule to make the sign on the forehead with the 
first three fingers of the right hand. 


and Gregory, Metropolitan of Nicea; and solemnly standing 
before the Tsar who was present, these three anathematized 
the use of two fingers as an Armenian heresy approved by 
Theodoret, the Nestorian, all present joining in their anathema. 
But this somewhat mechanical unanimity did not yet satisfy 
Nikon, so he summoned yet another Council in the following 
April (25th), at which he adduced the authority of Athanasius 
and Paisius, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem 
for the change; once more the use of two fingers was anathema- 
tized, this time as an innovation (!) and as savouring of the 
Arian and Nestorian heresies. 

The rebaptism of Latins was also condenmed, and more 
wisely, and six Poles were marched in ad hoc and reconciled 
to the Church merely by unction with the Muron or holy chrism 
mixed by Nikon on the Great Thursday. Some of the Russian 
clergy present were nevertheless scandaUzed at such facihty 
of conversion being granted to Latin heretics; but in the end 
they yielded to the arguments of Macarius who adduced pre- 
cepts in favour thereof from the nomocanons or books of eccles- 
iastical law and discipline, and the Tsar cUnched the matter by 
lending the weight of his authority to a recognition of the orders 
and baptism of the Cathohc and Southern Russian Churches. 
The decision, we may remark, was nevertheless in direct contra- 
vention of the earlier rituals (potrehnik) issued under the 
Patriarchs Joasaph and Joseph and of the rule made by the 
great Patriarch Philaret; for these authorities laid it down that 
not only Latins, but orthodox White Russians as well, who had 
received baptism by sprinkling only, were to be rebaptized. 

Orthodox historians naively remark that these ''reforms" 
roused the opposition of many who by reason of the excessive 
behef in mere ritual were unable to distinguish it from dogma, 
as if the older practices had not been anathematized by the 
subservient Greek patriarchs mustered in Moscow as heretical, 
e. g. as Armenian, as Arian, as Nestorian. If Paul of Kolomna 
could not distinguish ceremony from behef, neither could 
Nikon and the Tsar. You do not excommunicate and hurl 
anathemas except at heretics, still less whip and burn aUve 
men who are perfectly orthodox, and only err by being simple- 


minded and conservative. The ''reforms" outraged not a few 
of the higher clergy; some openly mm-miired, others kept 
silence from fear of sharing the fate of Paul; and their stiff- 
necked obstinacy and restlessness, as Ivanovski styles their 
feelings of dissatisfaction, rapidly spread beyond the clergy 
and took hold of the masses of the people, who could not be- 
lieve that men whom they so deeply venerated were misguided 

The Fall of Nikon 

And now a reaction set in against Nikon and all his works, 
provoked by his headstrong courses, cruelty and violence. 
For a time the stars seemed to fight in their com'ses against 
him. As is usual in times of popular excitement, portents were 
seen, the heavens were darkened and comets sped across the 
void. Dreams and visions were of the order of the day. The 
Almighty himself appeared demanding that the printing presses 
should be suspended from their impious work and destroyed. 
The Virgin and St. Paraskeve joined in his expostulations. 
Not only the inferior clergy were outraged; their indignation 
spread to the Boyars or great proprietors above and to the 
peasants below; it even penetrated the Palace of the Tsar. 
Plague and war were endemic then as now in the land, and 
served to enhance the general discontent. In August 1656 
the mob broke into the Uspenski Church and assailed Nikon 
with the accusation of having set a heretic, Arsenius Sukhanov, 
to tamper with the holy books. Overwhelmed by their menaces 
Nikon hastily quitted Moscow, and retired to the Voskresenski 
mojiastery of New Jerusalem built by himself in 1656 in 
imitation of the Church of the Anastasis. 

The very forwardness of Nikon in exiling his antagonists 
served indirectly to diffuse over Russia the rumour of his own 
impiety and apostasy. He had had Awakum (Habbakuk) 
deported to Siberia, but he had forgotten to cut out his tongue 
beforehand, — a precaution he took with many of his antagon- 
ists. The result was that the exile spread the tidings, as he 
travelled, of the profanation of the old religion. In scores of 
villages they listened to his seductive preaching, and at Tobolsk 


he even converted to his views the Archbishop Simeon. Nero- 
nov, we saw, had been incarcerated at Vologda in the Simonov 
Spasso-kamenski monastery, but the conditions of seclusion 
in that day were not so rigorous as a modern State knows how 
to impose. Villagers anxious to know what was passing in 
Moscow flocked round him and eagerly imbibed his teaching, 
for men are everywhere more prone to believe evil than good 
about the men in authority, especially in Russia. For a time 
it looked as if Nikon might share the fate of Maximus, the over- 
bold Greek corrector of a generation earlier. Even in modern 
England it is easy to get up a heresy hunt. How easy then 
must it not have been in XVIIth Century Russia. Western 
Europe was in those far-off days, as in oiu* own, envisaged by 
all "true" Russians as a contaminated region, the home of 
Satan and of every Satanic innovation. Even to-day there 
are innumerable Old believers in Russia who eschew tobacco 
and potatoes on the ground that they were brought in from the 
West by the accursed nemtsy, i. e. Germans and Scandinavians. 
When the first Duma was instituted in 1905, and certain hberals 
therein ventured to ask questions about how the money of 
taxpayers was being spent, Russian conservatives denounced 
them as infected with the "Western Poison." It was worse in 
the XVIIth Century to be accused of Latinizing than of Judaiz- 
ing. Nikon accused some of his opponents of using tobacco, 
but that was barely so grave as the charge of Latin heresy now 
spread abroad against himself, and the grand Seigneur or 
Boyar Pleshcheev reminded Neronov of the prophecy con- 
tained in the Book of Faith (see above p. 54) of schisms and 
dissensions in the Church; that book, he said, was full of warn- 
ings concerning the backsliding of the West and the apostasy 
of the Uniats to the Western Church. Let Nikon beware lest 
thereby they also should suffer. Most of Nikon's little 
improvements in ritual were set down to his Latin heresy, in 
particular the use of three fingers in blessing, the impressing on 
the eucharistic wafer of a four-cornered cross, the triple Alle- 
luia, and the substitution in the phrase "offering the thrice 
holy hymn" (trisagion) of the word chanting or intoning for 
offering. For the word substituted among the Latinized 


Slavs signified accompaniment by the organ of the voice, 
and of the organ the Eastern Christians had the same horror 
as John Knox of the "box o' whistles." Nikon was freely 
hkened to the Greek apostates Isidore and Ignatius, and 
accused of truckling to the Pope of Rome. 

Ivanovski and Macarius set before us a graphic account of 
the events which ensued and culminated in the emergence of 
the Raskol as a counter-Church after the Councils of 1666-7. 
In 1858 the opposition to Nikon, confined five years before to a 
few of the higher ecclesiastics, began to swell into a popular 
movement of such dimensions as to engender misgivings in the 
Tsar. It was in vain that Nikon at the eleventh hour was 
cowed into making a few concessions; for example, to the 
clergy of the Uspenski Church in Moscow permission was given 
to use as they liked either the old or the new Service books. 
This was because Neronov, who had now been shorn as a 
monk and taken the name of Gregory in religion, had from fear 
of schism relaxed his opposition to Nikon's revision of the 
church books. Nikon had many enemies in the hierarchy itself, 
in especial Pitirim of Krutits. Not a few ladies of the court 
and relatives of the Tsar were inflamed against Nikon by Awa- 
cum's denunciations. Boyars or nobles whom he had treated 
with such rigour, when in the Tsar's absence he was entrusted 
with the administration of the realm, now saw their oppor- 
tunity to retahate. They cast all their influence with the Tsar 
against Nikon, who in 1658 suddenly found himself fallen 
from the royal favour. 

On July 6th of that year Teimuraz, the prince of the neigh- 
bouring little kingdom of Georgia, whose capital was at Tiflis, 
visited Moscow. He was a Christian and orthodox, for early 
in the Vllth Century his ancestors had abandoned their com- 
munion with the monophysite church of Armenia and gone over 
to the Byzantines. In an age when few independent Christian 
states survived in the East, the warriors of Georgia retained 
their freedom; it was natural therefore that this prince, who 
bore the ancient name of Teimuraz, should be accorded a splen- 
did reception in the Tsar's capital. On such an occasion the 
Patriarch would naturally have taken, after the Tsar, the most 


prominent part in the ceremonies, but it was noticed that he 
was absent. He had not been invited, and his emissary on his 
way to the reception was assaulted by the Tsar's attendants 
and told to get out of the way. On July 8th, the feast of the 
Kazan ikon of the Theotokos, the Tsar in turn absented him- 
self because Nikon was celebrating. On the 10th he also took 
no notice of Nikon's invitation to him to attend the Hours, 
and he sent a noble to inform the prelate that he was offended 
and would not come to hear him repeat the liturgj^ 

Nikon was not the man to admit himself in the wrong or to 
take the first step in reconciliation with his prince. He quitted 
the church on foot leaning on a common crutch, and turned 
his steps to Ilinka, where lay the hostel of the Resurrection 
Monastery. There he halted three days and then quitted 
Moscow for good, declining any more to occupy himself with 
the business of the patriarchate. His quarrel with the Tsar, 
according to Ivanovski, was due to nothing in particular. 
They no longer sympathized; the nobles had stirred the Tsar's 
distrust, and the latter looked askance on Nikon as one who 
had pressed him to undertake the unsuccessful war with 
Sweden from which he had lately returned. The chief reason 
was that Nikon interfered in the administration. There was 
no room for two heads of the State. 

From the Fall of Nikon to the Council of 1666 

A time of chaos followed the departure of Nikon. The 
affairs of the Church were entrusted to his enemy Pitirim, the 
Metropolitan of Krutits, the nobles had succeeded in thor- 
oughly poisoning the mind of their Sovereign against him, and 
even incited the people to protest openly against his reforms. 
The Raskolniki now began to shew themselves in public, and 
Awakum after many years exile in Siberia was recalled and 
given a position in the Kremlin. The Tsar patronized him 
afresh and went out of his way to ask his blessing. There was 
even talk of his being made the Tsar's chaplain. The renewal 
of Court favour, however, did not abate Avvakum's Raskol 
enthusiasm. He undertook to debate with Theodore Rtish- 


chev the subject of Nikon's reforms, and these discussions 
degenerated into noisy scenes. 

About the same time the monk Gregory Neronov returned 
from his place of confinement. Haunted with the fear of a 
schism between the Russian and the Eastern Churches, he 
had, as remarked above, left the ranks of the Raskol; but he 
continued to agitate against the correction of the Service books, 
and addressed petitions to the Tsar stigmatizing Nikon as a 
son of perdition and demanding his condemnation by a Coun- 
cil. In this agitation he was joined by several notables who 
till now had maintained a guarded silence. Among these were 
Spiridion Potemkin of the Pokrovsky Monastery, an uncle 
of Theodor Rtishtchev, and Theodor Trofimov, deacon of 
the Church of the Annunciation, Dositheus and Cornelius. 
Dositheus later on headed the Raskol among the Don 
Cossacks of Olonets. Nicetas, a pope in Suzdal, and Lazarus 
of Romanova also repudiated Nikon's reforms. 

The populace of Moscow was by now infected with enthusi- 
asm for Awakum; his adherents ran along the streets and 
stood in the pubhc places proclaiming "the grace of the old 
piety." Street fanatics pursued the Tsar's equipage, appeal- 
ing to him to restore the ancient rehgion. In the provinces 
equally agitation raged against Nikon and petitions from the 
clergy and bishops poured in to the Tsar, denouncing the book 
Skrizhal which Nikon had disseminated in defence of his policy. 
Raskol and Boyars joined in demanding the expulsion of Nikon 
from the patriarchate. Even members of the royal family 
joined in the outcry, for example Theodosia Morozov, one of 
Awakum's penitents and widow of GUeb Ivan Morozov, with 
her sister the Boyarina Eudokia Urusov. They even went to 
the length of repudiating Nikon's baptism. They died in 
1675 after being scourged, racked and imprisoned in under- 
ground cells at Borovsk in the Kaluga Government, their 
martyrdom aiding the spread of the Raskol. 

It is not wonderful if the clergy in many places resumed the 
old books and modes of singing; and if the authorities had been 
capable of good sense and moderation, they would have 
accepted the warning. The spkitual temperature was indeed 


rising, and as has happened again and again in times of stress, 
fanatics began to read the signs of the time in that fertile 
storehouse of reUgious dementia, the Apocalypse. 

When the year 1000 of the Christian epoch arrived it was 
generally supposed that the reign of Antichrist was at hand and 
preluded the end of the world. It had passed away however, 
without much harm, and now the year 1666 was at hand, a 
date which the Raskol teachers connected with the number of 
the Beast, which, as everyone knows, was 666. The Book of 
Faith, widely current, as we have seen, in Russian rehgious 
circles, prophesied that this mystical date would witness a 
grand apostasy from the faith and the advent of the precursor 
of the Man of Sin or Antichrist, if not of that personage him- 
self. Men's minds were stuffed with such speculations, and a 
seer from the Volga, a compatriot of Nikon, appeared on the 
scene with stories of his visions. He had passed a night in the 
company of Nikon and had witnessed a number of demons 
install him on a throne, crown him as if he were a king, pros- 
trate themselves before him and cry: "Of a truth thou art our 
beloved brother," and so forth. Another fanatical monk, 
named Simeon, had his vision also of a huge serpent coiling 
his scaly folds around the palace of the Tsar and whispering 
into the latter's ear the blasphemies of the contaminated service 
books. Needless to say, the serpent was Nikon. The Tsar 
himself wrote despairingly to Nectarius, the patriarch of 
Jerusalem: "In our entire Church rites there lacks all uni- 
foimity, everyone in the churches follows what order he 
chooses." A Tsar of that age could not perhaps be expected 
to realize what is even among ourselves on the threshold of the 
XXth Century so little understood or desired that in rehgion 
the important thing is not conformity but conomunion. 

And now the pendulum began to swing once more the other 
way,^ for those who had brought back Awakum and their 
partisans from the obscurity of their places of exile or of hiding, 
began to tremble at the wild success of their propaganda, which 
seemed to strike at the roots of all authority in ecclesiastical 

1 Acts of the Moscow Councils of 1666-7, Moscow, 1881, with introduction 
by Prof. Subbotin: Macarius Hist., t. 12, p. 640 foil. 


and even in political matters. Hatred of Nikon had tempo- 
rarily won for the Raskol teachers the support of the Boyars, 
but this aUiance now began to crumble. The Tsar was per- 
suaded in 1664 once more to relegate Awakum to exile, and 
sent him this time to Mezen near Archangel. In those days 
travel was slow, and prisoners less circumscribed in their 
activities than to-day. It amounted in effect to a missionary 
tour; the following year Awakum started back to attend the 
Council of 1666. On his way to and from Archangel he had 
spread his tenets right and left. 

The Council of 1666 

The Council of 1666 was ostensibly summoned by Imperial 
decree to pass sentence on the fallen Nikon, still the victim 
of the Tsar's displeasure and doubtless unpopular with many 
powerful people. In the first session, after the credo had been 
duly recited by all the members, three leading questions were 
put to each and all: " Do you accept the four Greek Patriarchs 
as orthodox? Do you accept as such their printed books and 
MSS.? Do you accept the findings of the Council of 1654? " 
These questions only bore indirectly on Nikon and removed 
the question of his personal actions from purview. The 
Council could condemn him, yet accept his handiwork, the 
corrected books, the three fingers and the rest. They did both. 
The result of the manoeuvre was what might be expected. 
All present answered the questions in the affirmative and gave 
their signatures in that sense. The next session was held 
under the presidency of the Tsar himself, in his Stolovaya or 
banqueting hall, his privy council assisting. The Tsar took 
up his parable against the Raskol propaganda, declaring it to 
be directed against the Church and its sacraments. He 
recited the symbol from the Chrysobull of 1593, in the eighth 
clause of which, as we saw, the one epithet Kyrion was used of 
the Holy Ghost. As he was certainly unacquainted with 
Greek, this was for a Tsar of that age a very impressive feat. 
Pitirim, formerly MetropoUtan of Novgorod, who had taken 
charge of the affairs of the Church when Nikon was disgraced, 
tendered in the name thereof its thanks to the Monarch for 


his defence of orthodoxy, which the Raskol had never in any 
way assailed. All who were present, Pitirim affirmed, unfeign- 
edly accepted the said symbol. 

In the third session the Raskol teachers were called up for 
judgment singly or in batches. They were invited to accept 
the corrected books and to repent, the charge preferred against 
them being, not that they adhered to the pre-Nikonian texts 
and rites, but that they condemned the new ones, that they 
decried the authority of the Eastern patriarchs, calumniated 
Nikon and falsely accused the Muscovite clergy of denying 
the dogmas of the Incarnation and Resurrection. Some of 
the accused remained impenitent, led by Awakum and Lazar; 
some sincerely abjured the supposed errors, as Alexander, 
Bishop of Vyatka, who in 1663 had protested to the Tsar 
against Nikon's correction of the creed and service books. 
An abjiu-ation of his errors was also forced from the monk 
Gregory Neronov; others abjiu-ed, but, as the event proved, in- 
sincerely, such as Nicetas and the Deacon Thedor or Theodore, 
who eventually had his tongue cut out. The obstinate were 
excommunicated and sent to prison; the rest were hurried off 
to monasteries to undergo discipUne and be subjected to further 
examination. The synod closed its dehberations by unani- 
mously condemning the new sect and ordaining that all incum- 
bents should use the new books. 

The Raskol leaders were confirmed in their opposition by the 
knowledge that the Greek Ecclesiastics brought to Moscow 
were ignorant of the issues at stake. The latter could not 
speak Russian and were tools in the hands of Nikon and of 
the court party who alternately cajoled and overawed, bribed 
and menaced them. They countersigned Nikon's edicts, but 
did not in the least understand them. The Raskol leaders had 
on their side a learned Greek, named Dionysius, a monk from 
Athos, who had lived in Moscow for ten years before the 
patriarchs arrived and was famihar with the ins and outs of 
the quarrel, for he knew the Russian language and Hturgies 
thoroughly well. A letter of his survives, written in 1667, in 
which he accuses them of being deceived, of knowing nothing 
of what was going on, of believing whatever they^were told. 
' If," he writes, "you would exercise your own judgment, avoid 


honours and gifts from princes and ecclesiastical authorities. 
But if you do, I warn you that you will share the fate of 
Maximus. They will intern you in a monastery, and you will 
never see your homes again." 

Never was a great schism forced on a great Church upon a 
flimsier pretext, and the feverish anxiety of the triumphant 
faction to obtain the approval of foreign prelates for their 
innovations shewed plainly that in their hearts they felt many 
misgivings. This was why a few months later, in November 
1667, the retiu'n to Moscow of Paisius of Alexandria and of 
Macarius of Antioch after a lapse of eleven years was made the 
occasion of a fresh meeting, this time to deal expressly with 
Nikon. The other Eastern prelates who had attended the last 
council were present along with sundry of the Greek clergy. 
Nikon was condemned — Ivanovski does not seem to know 
what for, but really of course because in an autocracy there 
is no room for two supreme authorities — and exiled to the 
Therapontov cloister; none the less the Synod approved of his 
revision of the Church books, as also of the book Skrizhal 
which as we saw above, was a stumbling-block in the path of 
old-fashioned Churchmen. The condemnations of 1666 were 
reaffirmed and those who resisted were anathematized, on the 
ground that, in adhering to the old order, they thwarted ecclesi- 
astical authority and calumniated the orthodox eastern church 
as an heretical body. The excormnunications pronounced 
against the dissidents were superfluous, for most of them had 
already withdrawn from communion with the Chiu-ch. Three 
Patriarchs, fourteen metropolitans and eight archbishops, and 
others, in all 76 ecclesiastics signed the acts of this Synod which 
were then laid up for a perpetual record in the cathedral of 

But the decisions of the Stoglav council a centm-y before had 
also to be got out of the way. It had solemnly anathematized 
the practices now declared to be orthodox. Accordingly its 
anathemas were as solemnly revoked as they had been pro- 
nounced, and the doctors who had attended it declared to have 
been the dupes of dreams and forgeries. Thus began that 
famous Raskol movement which still divides Russians, yet 


has undoubtedly contributed much to the social, moral and 
intellectual progress of the people and is destined, we may hope, 
to contribute yet more in the future. 

K. Waliszewski, the historian of the first Romanovs, in his 
work (Paris 1909) entitled Le Berceau d'une dynastie, insists 
hardly less than Kostomarov and Miliukov on the fact that the 
events of 1667 laid the foundations of hberty and revolution in 
Russia. In respect of its originating causes and conceptions 
the schism, he freely admits (p. 416), "wore the air of a petrified 
fragment of old Moscovy. And yet its heart beat with an 
intense life, and it shewed itself capable of such a power of 
resistance and propaganda, of such a capacity for independent 
development, as two centuries of persecution could not master 
or subdue. It was to endure and grow, and in doing so itself 
to unfold new phases in spite of the immobiUty which its 
initial principle seemed to impose on it. It was to diversify 
itself in an infinity of ways; robust organisms were to spring 
up in its bosom and seek to bring about manifold phases of 
existence in harmony with all sorts of creeds. A day was 
also to come when revolutionaries, freed from all confessional 
interests, and also reactionaries, no less indifferent to dogmatic 
controversies, will contend for this problematic ally, the one 
party hailing him as an instrument of their sociaUstic and even 
anti-reUgious agitation, the other as an element of poUtical and 
social regeneration . . . The Lazars and Awakums vowed the 
society of their time to eternal fixity, and yet none the less and 
all unconsciously implanted therein principles that utterly 
contradicted their postulate. Stationary or retrograde in 
regard to the intellectual movement of their country along the 
paths of civilization, they nevertheless were sharers in that 
progress and added to the awakening of thought the awakening 
of conscience. The subjection of the Church to the State 
was only rendered possible by the general indifference of those 
concerned. By attracting to itself such behevers as were 
more jealous than the rest of the Uberties thus set at nought, 
the Raskol faciUtated that pohcy; but at the same time it 
furnished the spirit of independence with an asylum of refuge 
of a kind to keep it alive and develop its energy." 



It is opportune, in illustration of Uzov's contentions, to add 
here the strictures on the status of the Russian country clergy 
in La Chiesa Russa by P. AureHo Palmieri, 0. S. A. (Firenze, 
1908). He writes, p. 164, as follows: — 

*'Dobroklonsky, an esteemed historian of the Russian 
Church, thus speaks (t. ii, p. 147) of the defects which the 
inferior clergy contracted from the very beginning of Russian 
Christianity, and which still paralyze its mission: The chief 
defects of the clergy (in the 17th century) were the multi- 
pUcity of its members, the dependence of parish priests, their 
want of means, their intellectual ignorance and moral short- 
comings. Against these drawbacks provisions were indeed 
made, but they did not avail to eradicate the evils and neutra- 
hzed them only for a short time. The result was that they 
became inveterate." 

''This author," continues Palmieri, "does not touch upon 
one of the principal defects, the absence of abnegation and of 
apostohc spirit in the clergy, a direct result of the servility to 
which it was habituated by the social conditions of Russia and 
the draconian laws of the Government. 

"The inferior clergy live in parishes which in Russia have 
undergone the strangest vicissitudes, and have been reduced 
step by step from an unUmited autonomy to the level of mere 
succursals, branch offices, of the poHce or bureaus of the State. 
The Russian inferior clergy, from the first dawn of Russian 
Christianity, appear to us to have been ah-eady predestined 
to servitude. In the pre-Mongol epoch the material and 
moral conditions of the priesthood were so low that it was not 
the sons of boyars or of merchants or of well-to-do famihes 
that aspired to it, but only persons belonging to the lowest 
social strata, who regarded it as a rise morally or an employ- 
ment for the sake of making both ends meet. This resulted, 



as Golubinsky, the historian of the Russian Church, expresses 
it (i, p. 448), in a priesthood of cossacks and proletarians. . . . 

"The ancient Russian Church was not organized, and the 
choice of priests belonged more to the faithful than to the 
bishops. In the Byzantine Empire, owing to the large num- 
ber of dioceses, there was more famiharity between the hier- 
archy and lower clergy. Christian Russia in contrast possessed 
to begin with a very limited number of sees, which were of 
great territorial extent. There were no schools for the educa- 
tion of the clergy, and the bishop was not in a position to grasp 
the needs of the new forms of Christianity growing up among 
the Russian pagans who were embracing it. At first the 
monasteries supplied the deficiency of pastors. The churches 
of the cloister were transformed into parish churches, and 
certain monks also devoted themselves to the task of sacer- 
dotal ministry in the cities. 

"The Parish churches were, to begin with, founded by 
Russian princes or by private individuals or by the communi- 
ties themselves. The first were kept up at the expense of the 
princes, the second belonged exclusively to those who had 
built them; they could be ahenated or let, and formed part 
of the hereditary patrimony. This gave rise to abuses, and 
Russian councils, especially that of the Hundred Capita (or 
Heads, Stoglav), sanctioned measures intended to put an end 
to this traffic in edifices of worship. The other churches were 
the property of the mirs or communities which erected them 
in cities and villages. To the right of ownership the mir 
added that of supervision, particularly in respect of the goods 
belonging to the Church. The mir chose delegates whom it 
charged to look after the economical interests of the parish, 
one only at first, later on two. There were no laws relative 
to the parochial clergy, and the faithful could increase or 
diminish it at their pleasure. This right was a corollary of 
the material conditions of the clergy in that age, for they 
derived their Uvelihood from the community or mir which 
sought their services. 

"The priests of parishes were chosen by popular suffrage. 
The choice made, a candidate presented himself before the 


bishop, who laid hands on him, and ordained him, if he was 
not a priest : or, in case he were such aheady, he blessed him.^ 
The bishop had no right to refuse a candidate so proposed, and, 
moreover, the ample gratuity which he received for the ordi- 
nation of any priest whatever effectually silenced conscientious 
scruples, if he felt any. As years rolled by, the ease with 
which the priesthood was acquired and the hghtness of the 
work required by the ministry produced a plethora of popes . . . 
It was enough for a candidate to secure a few votes or to 
adduce two witnesses to affirm that a certain parish needed a 
priest, and the bishop ignorant of the real facts, ordained the 
postulant. So the caste of popes assumed the aspect of a set 
of sweated operatives. The priests remained under the thumb 
of the laity, which could deny them the means of livelihood 
and expel them from their offices. Among the many com- 
petitors who presented themselves for the posts vacant in 
parishes, the mir chose those who most lowered the scale of 
their salary and of their tariff for ecclesiastical functions. 
This led, as a Russian bishop deplored, to lazy or drunken 
priests being chosen in preference to priests that were lettered 
or led good lives. ^ The nobility contributed to the decadence 
of clerical prestige. In fact many nobles scrupled not to 
present to the bishops, as candidates, their own serfs in order 
to secure for themselves part of what they earned as priests .... 
He continues on p. 168: — 

"Notwithstanding, the progressive decadence of the autono- 
mous regime of parishes and of the free choice of priests, though 
it led to so many evils, is deplored nowadays by reformers of 
the Russian Church, as an element in the dissolution of ortho- 
doxy. The ancient parish was considered a juridical unit, 
legally organized and in poHtical and religious aspects enjoying 
autonomy. The bishops had not the right to make what rules 
they liked in parishes, and if occasionally they attempted to, 
conflicts arose which dragged on for years. The mir had its 
starosta or head who together with the parishioners and clergy 

^ Dobroklonsky, iii, p. 53. 

^ Znamensky Uchebnoe Rukovodstvo po Istorii russkoi Tserkvi, 144-5, "School 
Handbook on the History of the Russian Church." 


conducted the affairs of the Church. The constitution of 
parishes was in consequence lay rather than ecclesiastic, and 
it is exactly this lay character which so much recommends it 
to apostles of a laicization of the church of such a kind as would 
assimilate priests to municipal counsellors and the bishops to 
parhamentary deputies, the one group Uke the other subject to 
the jurisdiction of their electors. 

"In the 18th Century the autonomy of parishes, opposed by 
the hierarchy and looked askance at by the Government, gradu- 
ally dechned, and its diminution contributed to the enslavement 
of the peasants, the spread of the Raskol and anaemia of rehgi- 
ous sentiment.^ In the Ecclesiastical Code of Peter the Great 
the parish is still regarded as a juridical personaUty, a legal 
association invested with the right to elect its own priests and 
those who served in the Church, and to agree with the clergy 
on terms that were legitimate. The parishioners also retain 
the right to nominate the starosty, who were allowed out of the 
collections made in church to raise hospices for beggars and 
hospitals or asylums for foundlings . . . Peter the Great Hmited 
the parochial right of choice by requiring that only men should 
be chosen as ministers who had completed their studies in 
diocesan schools. In the reign of Paul I, in order to render 
the parish clergy more docile instruments of Government, the 
Synod, in accordance with an imperial ukase, decided that the 
worthiest and best instructed candidates should be given prefer- 
ence over those who enjoyed the confidence and goodwill of the 
people; in this way Government candidates won a preference 
over parochial ones. At last an ukase of July 24, 1797, decreed 
the abohtion for good of the custom of electing the parish 
clergy, and also annulled the permission given in the 18th 
century to the parish to present to the bishop for acceptance 
and confirmation a hst of candidates enjoying the people's 
confidence. Later on the statute of ecclesiastical consistories, 
promulgated March 27, 1841, cancelled the last traces of paro- 
chial autonomy, and laid it down that sacerdotal ordination is 
a right which belongs immediately and exclusively tojthe 
eparchial or episcopal authority. Thus the poUtical slavery 
* Papkov, in Revue Internationale de TMologie, 1900, t. 8, p. 554. 


of the Church entered the last phase of its evolution. The 
lower clergy, withdrawn from the free choice of the people, 
became a laughing-stock in the hands of the hierarchy, and the 
latter in its turn, transformed into one of the many cog-wheels 
of the State, ceased to feel any solicitude for the liberty of the 
Church, and took its orders blindly from the lay bureaucracy 
of the Synod. In addition the parish clergy were condemned 
to truckle to a hierarchy they cordially hated just because, 
being enrolled in the monasteries, it was dominated by ascetic 
ideals, and could not understand the wants of married priests." 
He continues on p. 174: — 

''The movement of reform now (1908) afoot in Russia aims 
at the resurrection of the parish as the chief factor in a renova- 
tion of the Church. The memorandum of Count Serge Witte 
on the present situation of the Orthodox Church published in 
the Slovo of March 28, 1905, insists before all things on the 
reorganization of the primitive Russian ecclesiastical communi- 
ties. The ancient parish, so his memorandum runs, was as it 
were the channel in which religious life flowed. The pernicious 
revolution in ecclesiastical administration, thought out and 
effected by Peter the Great, paralyzed its energies. In the 
parishes religious and social Ufe before his time excelled in 
intensity. They formed juridical entities, autonomous units. 
The community built its own church, chose its own pastor and 
parochial ministrants. The parochial budget was regarded 
as of considerable importance, and out of the resources of the 
members of the community were maintained the church, the 
manse, the school and works of charity. The parochial balance 
also took the place of an agrarian bank, and could be used to 
aid the necessitous. The conmiunity judged its members and 
scrupled not even to penetrate the sanctuary of the home in 
order to restrain it from moral ruin. And yet an institution so 
useful for the development of rehgious sentiment and social 
harmony crumbled to nothing after the reforms of Peter the 
Great were adopted, and of it nothing remained but the name. 

'' What causes produced the fall of the parish? Witte shows 
it with a sincerity rare in a statesman, and therefore, if we 
quote his words, we run no risk of deserving the epithet of 


systematic detractors of the Russian Church. The aggrandise- 
ment in the 18th century of the rights of the nobility over the 
bondmen of the glebe suffocated ever more and more the 
initiative of the communities which had lost their religious 
autonomy. The Government pohcy of concentration, pur- 
sued with such obstinate ferocity that any union of people 
which took the name of a fraternal association was looked upon 
as a revolutionary or secret society, dealt pitiless blows at the 
autonomous organization of the parishes. More than that, 
the reformer of Russia looked upon the Church as part of the 
complex mechanism of the State, and linked with its holy 
duties a pohceman's and inquisitor's tasks, utterly out of keep- 
ing with the dignity of its character. The priest was charged 
to draw up an exact list of those who paid the imposts and was 
obUged, in violation of the secret of the confessional, to draw 
up a report of poUtical plots or offences. With the change of 
their character from that of shepherds of souls to inspectors of 
police, the clergy forfeited the confidence of the people, and the 
ties which united them with it were snapt for good. 

"The decadence of the parish brought with it another in- 
convenience. The community ceased to take an interest in 
the material conditions of its pastors, and the latter had to 
provide for the support of their famihes out of the scanty 
glebe the State allotted to the parochial clergy and out of the 
legal contributions of the villagers. The result was that they 
fell into extreme indigence, and often the Government was 
obhged to assign to their orphans lands intended for the main- 
tenance of the churches; by consequence the clergy Uttle by 
little took on the aspect of an hereditary caste and aUenated 
still more completely the sympathies of the people. 

"For the resurrection of the parish it is needful to reestab- 
lish the participation of the parishioners in the economic 
management of the goods of the parish and in the choice of the 

"In the first centuries of Christianity not only priests, but 
bishops as well were chosen by the people, with the result that 
the one and the other came before their flocks as true pastors, 
and not in the character of intruders sent to govern a church 


by way of an act of grace or of rigour on the part of the political 
authority. In the case of the bishops the day seems still to 
be far off when their nomination will be made with the assist- 
ance of the people." 

With these views of Palmieri may be compared those of 
Mihukov in his Russian Civilization, 1905, pt. 1, p. 149. He 
allows that the Raskol, though more attached to the letter and 
form of rites, yet were more penetrated than the masses around 
them by their inward spirit, and anyhow lived their religion. 
But he doubts whether it was so much a protest, as the above 
writers contend, against new restrictions imposed by the 
authorities of the Church on the free spiritual life of parishes 
and on their choice of parish priests. It is true that the priest 
as the elect of the mir little by little had his place taken by the 
nominee of the bishop, in such wise that the parish became a 
half administrative, half reUgious unit. But the change was 
less due to systematic crushing out of the interest taken by the 
laity in church matters than to the fact that most who were 
so interested went over to the raskol. Indifferentism was not 
forced on them, but was a natural growth. That is also, as 
we saw above, the view of Wahszewski. 

Indeed the free election of the pope, even when it was a 
reahty, formed no spiritual tie between pastor and flock, just 
because they exacted of him no gifts of teaching or knowl- 
edge. They wanted mass to be sung regularly and the Sacra- 
ments administered, especially to the dying, and no more; 
consequently they used their right of election to procure a 
pope as cheaply as possible, and they wanted in their deacon 
just one gifted with a big voice for the responses. His func- 
tion was that of a deep tongued bell. He also served them as 
a clerk to keep accounts etc., but was in any case a luxury, 
and was usually the gift of a rich elder, like the chorister of 
today. The government never overruled the choice of the 
parishioners, and it was their indifference which turned the 
ministry into a sort of trade. ''What made you turn priest?" 
asked Dimitri of Rostov of one early in the 17th century. 
''Was it to save yourself and others? " " No," was the answer, 
" but to support my wife and children. " 


The mere fact that parochial election was conducted on 
such grounds did not in itself cause episcopal nomination to 
take its place. The bishop did not grasp a privilege the 
parishioners resigned. They were not his rivals, but merely 
let things take their course; and the result was that parishes, 
hke other offices, became hereditary, and particular families, 
son succeeding sire, held particular benefices generation after 
generation, very much as is the case in England, where ' family 
livings' are equally an institution. In some parishes one 
family owned the office of priest, another that of lector, and 
every clerical grade was hereditary. There was in fact a 
tendency for the clergy to become a close guild, not through 
legislation to that effect, but as the result of social tendencies 
working equally in other spheres of administration, to which 
free access was as difficult for all and sundry as to the clerical 
office. Officially the priest was supposed to feel a vocation; 
in practice he became a wheel in the bureaucratic machine, 
and in this he occupied no exalted position, but was humiUated 
to the lowest rung of the ladder. It was only in 1796 under 
Tsar Paul that proprietors lost the right of knouting the village 
priests; their wives were only exempted under Alexander I 
in 1808, their children under Nicholas I in 1839. Moreover 
the Government, while closing all other careers to the sons of 
popes, set itself to cut down the number of parish clergy to the 
lowest possible limit, and so forced the younger sons into the 
army. These disabilities lasted from the reign of Peter I 
until 1869, when at last other services and professions were 
thrown open by Alexander II to clergymen's sons. In earfier 
days, when the office of pope was still open to others than sons 
of the clergy, those who assumed it usually did so not from 
rehgious impulse, but in order to avoid the taxation which 
pressed so hard on the individual in other walks of life. 

The Raskol were sensible of this regress and naturally 
preferred the old institutions to the innovations. They set to 
work to defend national pecuharities on the plea that the 
innovations were borrowed from the Latins, which was partly 
true, inasmuch as the outward veneer of the Government set 
up in Moscow was borrowed from the West. They were the 


champions of personal liberty and maintained that the new 
and harsh system of law was an anti-Christian institution. 
The Code of Alexis Michailovich was and still is regarded as a 
violation of Christian faith.^ Accordingly in constituting 
themselves the champions of the old, they really took their 
stand not on the side of what was old as being old, but as being 

^ A. Shchapov, Russian Raskol, pp. 468, 477. 



With the council of 1666 the Old believers began their his- 
tory as a body separate from the official church. The prin- 
cipal events of the next few years were the Rebellion at the 
Solovetski Monastery, and — even more important — the 
Revolt of the Streltsy in Moscow, which led up to the great 
dispersion of the Old believers far and wide in Russia and 
even beyond its borders. 

The Rebellion at the Solovetski Monastery 

Ivanovski gives a graphic account of the rebelUon which 
took place in the Solovetski Monastery, on the White Sea; 
and as it was typical of the age, it is worthy to be narrated.^ 

Already before the final rupture took place the inmates of 
this convent had shewn themselves hostile to Nikon's 
ecclesiastical improvements. It is true their abbot Elias 
attended the Council of 1654 and even subscribed to the reso- 
lution passed by it in favour of more correct Service-books. 
But he could not get a hearing for such a project among his 
brethren, who formally declined in June 1658 to accept the 
new editions and adhered to the old texts. Even before that 
date their archimandrite during the Great Fast had induced 
them to sign an abjuration of such impious novelties, and forti- 
fied by the assent of his monks had administered a sort of anti- 
modernist oath to the clergy of the villages grouped round the 
Monastery. Elias' leading supporters were the Cellarius Serge, 
Sabbatius Obrjnitin, Gerasimus Thirsov and some other Elders. 
Three of the brethren, however, dissented and sent a petition 
to Nikon, which never reached him, for he had already fallen 
into disgrace with the Tsar before it arrived. 

1 Simeon Denison's homeric account of the Siege is accessible to English readers 
in Will. Palmer's the Patriarch and the Tsar, vol. H, p. 439. He also gives the peti- 
tion sent from the convent to the Tsar in Oct. 1667. 



In 1659 Elias died, and his successor Bartholomew of Vol- 
ogda was irresolute. He had indeed been consecrated Archi- 
mandrite at Moscow according to the new rites, and he went 
thither in 1660 and 1664 to take part in Nikon's Synods. 
Nevertheless he took no steps to impose Nikon's decrees in his 
monastery, and for eight years the brethren continued in the 
old ways without the clerical bureaucrats of Moscow taking 
any notice of them. It was quite in keeping with Bartholo- 
mew's toleration of the old rites that in other respects he was a 
martinet, maintaining an iron discipline among his monks. 
He even went to the length of imprisoning and scourging such 
of them as offended by rioting in church or complaining of his 
rigour. The Monastery, however, remained a centre of Old 
behevers ; and the Government did not mend matters by send- 
ing thither for confinement numbers of rebellious clerks and 
elders, as well as sundry of the laity, exiled from their homes as 
criminals or notorious Raskolniks. A mihtant complexion 
was lent to the monastic society gathered there by various fugi- 
tive Cossacks who had belonged to the band of Stenka Razin.^ 
The ringleaders of the place were Gerasimus Thirsov, Genna- 
dius the Elder, Jona Bryzgalov, a runaway deacon of Tula who 
had taken monkish orders, John Stukalov and the deacon 
Ignatius. Among the exiles sent to the convent by way of 
punishment was Prince Lvov, who had directed the Moscow 
printing press. The name is famihar as that of a leader of the 
first revolutionary government in Petersburg; another exile, 
who presently led the revolt, was the archimandrite Nicanor, 
who was in villeggiatura there after being prior of the Mon- 
astery of St. Sabba at Zvenigorod, the Tsar's summer residence. 
He was a friend of Nikon's two arch-enemies, the Elder Theok- 
tistus and the Protopope Awakum. 

In 1666 the monks addressed a petition to their archi- 
mandrite, then attending the Council at Moscow, to be laid 
before the Tsar. It contained a request that they should be 
permitted to continue with the old rites; but instead of pre- 
senting it, Bartholomew did penance for observing them so 

^ A Don Cossack who revolted and after ravaging all the cities of the Volga 
was caught and executed in Moscow in June 1671. 


long and rejecting the new. In this he set the example to the 
other members of the Council on July 13. Nicanor was not 
present at the Council, and had pleaded old age as an excuse 
for keeping away from it. Offended by the subserviency of 
Bartholomew, the monks at the instigation of Gerasimus 
Thirsov, petitioned to have him replaced by Nicanor, and in 
this demand Prince Lvov supported them. But Gerasimus 
in turn was now summoned to Moscow, required to do penance 
and despatched to the Volokolamski Monastery, where accord- 
ing to Denisov he was strangled. The rebels at Solovets were 
thus obliged to choose new ringleaders and they selected 
Alexander Stukalov, Gennadius and Ephrem. 

The authorities in Moscow now began to feel concern, and 
sent Sergius, archimandrite of Yaroslav, to reduce the mutinous 
monks to order. He was to communicate to them the decision 
of the Council in favour of the new rites and to hear their 
complaints against Bartholomew. To support him, there 
were sent with him members of the Tsar's bodyguard. But 
before he arrived Stukalov and Nicanor had overcome the 
hesitancy of the brethren, deposed the Cellarius Sabbatius 
and appointed in his stead an illiterate monk Azariah, whose 
function was to awaken the brethren of a morning. At the 
same time a fresh remonstrance was despatched to Moscow. 
Sergius when he arrived was treated with contumely, confined 
with his suite in dark cells, and guarded by men armed with 
clubs. No monk was allowed to communicate with him 
except in a general audience, and the population of the neigh- 
bourhood made as if they would stone him as an emissary of 
Antichrist. Ultimately he managed to escape, and warn the 
authorities at Moscow. He was no sooner departed than the 
treasurer, who bore the Coptic name of Barsanuphius, no 
doubt in honour of the monophysite monk of Gaza of that 
name, was deprived of his office, and Gerontius, a hiero- 
monachus, entrusted with his functions. Stukalov at the 
same time was sent with an elder and a couple of attendants 
to Moscow to lay a fresh petition before the Tsar who by now 
was thoroughly incensed at the spirit of insubordination 
evinced by the brethren. It seems, however, to have been a 


principle with this Tsar, in cases of ecclesiastical squabbles, 
to punish the ringleaders on both sides; and accordingly, 
while he sent the petitioners to monasteries under ecclesiastical 
censure and restraint, he also sent Bartholomew about his 
business. Nicanor too was doomed to disappointment; for 
though he was in Moscow at the time, he was not preferred 
to the vacant priorate, which was assigned instead to the 
Elder Joseph, architect of the Hostelry in Moscow. The 
comparative benignity, remarks Ivanovski, with which the 
Tsar treated the recalcitrant monks only served to excite 
their fanaticism and tempt them to commit further excesses. 
There speaks the orthodox historian. 

The three, Joseph, Nicanor and Bartholomew, all quitted 
Moscow for the Monastery at one and the same time. The 
first two were intended to stay there for good, the last no 
longer than he would need to do in order to make over the 
conduct and goods of the convent to Joseph. Nicanor, how- 
ever, gave his companions of the road the sUp in Archangel, 
and sent the brethren a letter by his valet warning them not 
to admit Joseph or receive his benedictions, and this advice 
they carried out. Ten days later, Sept. 23, Nicanor and his 
partisans sent the Tsar another petition by the hand of an 
Elder, Cyril Chaplin, whose English name recalls the discovery 
of Russia by the Merchant Adventurers more than a century 
before; he also bore a missive from the archimandrite Joseph, 
whom, along with Bartholomew, the monks were treating 
with disrespect, confining both of them to cells from within 
which they could hear abuse lavished on them by all without. 
They were boycotted and threatened and forbidden to ap- 
proach the altar, to kiss cross, gospel or ikons. Finally they 
were bundled out in mid-winter on to the bank of the river. 
Simultaneously the monks sent the Tsar a fifth petition, drawn 
up by Gerontius the treasurer, more stringent than any of the 
former ones. It is not known if it ever reached the hands of 
the Tsar; but in any case it was printed later on and scattered 
broadcast among the Raskolniks. 

Joseph's letter denoimcing the mutinous conduct of the 
brethren reached the Tsar, who promptly ordered the goods 


of the convent to be sequestrated; while the council of Moscow 
which had not yet broken up, excommunicated them. But 
confiscation and anathema had lost their terrors for the ring- 
leaders, who merely set about to strengthen their defences 
against the Tsar's officer Volokhov who in the autumn of 1668 
was sent with a troop of soldiers to reduce them to obedience. 
They began by allowing such of the inmates as were unwilUng 
to face a siege to depart, and of this privilege, eleven of the 
monkish and nine of the white clergy availed themselves, 
and crossed over to the Sumski bank of the river which the 
convent over-looked, — a circumstance that alone enabled 
its defenders to stand a siege. 

Volokhov unsuccessfully beleaguered the place for four years, 
at the expiration of which Clement lovlev, captain of the 
Moscow imperial guard, took his place; a year later he in 
turn gave way to Meshcherinov the voevoda or general. 
Nicanor meanwhile was life and soul of the defence, ably 
seconded by his valet or body servant Thaddeus. The garri- 
son sustained a heavy blow, however, in the loss of Azariah 
the Cellarius, who, before Volokhov took his departure, was 
caught out fishing by the enemy along with a few other monks 
and sundry laymen, assisting in so necessary a sport. Their 
boats armed with small guns also fell into the possession of 
the enemy. Early in 1670, against the better judgment of 
several of the monks, the ringleaders had determined to use 
the Dutch artillery, with which the convent was armed, against 
the imperial troops, and Nicanor having mounted the tower 
and sprinkled the guns with holy water, had apostrophised 
them in the words: 'Little Dutch mothers, our hopes are 
centred in you, protect us!" 

Eventually internal quarrels led to the downfall of this old- 
beheving fortress. Several monks who wanted to surrender 
are said to have been starved to death, and it is possible that 
the more resolute in their determination to hold out kept 
the dwindling stocks of provisions for themselves; the victims 
are said to have courted their fate by insisting on continuing 
to pray for the Tsar in the hturgy. After they had been got 
rid of in this cruel manner, certain unordained monks, says 


Ivanovski, ventured to celebrate the rites and to hear confes- 
sions and grant absolution, while some even were left, if indeed 
they had any choice, to die without the Sacraments. 

Among the few brethren who, escaping from the fortress on 
the arrival of Meshcherinov, went over to the enemy, was an 
Elder named Theoktistus, and he revealed to the Voevoda a 
secret entrance by way of a conduit under the White Tower, so, 
Denisov quaintly adds, betraying the convent as Aeneas and 
Antenor betrayed the Trojans. Through it the troops gained 
access to the interior, and in a moment, the siege, which had 
lasted eight years, was at an end, Jan. 22, 1676. All the monks 
were pitilessly executed, and a fresh company of celibates, 
more amenable to the new discipUne of Moscow, was sent to 
take their place. 

The importance of this episode, rightly remarks our historian, 
was not to be measured so much by its military aspects as by 
its effect on the imagination of a rehgiously-minded peasantry. 
For ages the convent had been a centre of popular pilgrimage, 
and continued to be so all through the siege. It was the shrine 
of the great Christian athletes Zosimus and Sabbatius. The 
pious arrived beneath its walls and, finding it beleaguered, 
so that they could not gain admission, returned to their homes 
with indignant tales of the oppression and violence exercised 
by the ecclesiastical authorities of Moscow. Not only the pil- 
grims, but inmates of the convent who escaped before and 
during the siege, carried far and wide over The Pomorye, as the 
drear coastlands of the White Sea are called, the legend of the 
brilUant exploits and ultimate martyrdom of its gallant defend- 
ers. Forty years later Semen Denisov, a poet of the Raskol, 
celebrated the siege in an epic which has enjoyed an enormous 
success for two centuries. The poem of course teems with 
visions and miracles; the rebels are extolled as martyrs, the 
Tsar is an emissary of Satan, who perishes on the very day the 
convent fell. He really died a week later; but the rehgious, 
like the patriotic propagandist, prefers poetical justice to that 
of dates, and the sacrifice of truth in this case was slight. 
Ivanovski plaintively remarks that Denisov and his readers 
should have borne in mind that Christian martyrs never either 


rioted or rebelled against an emperor's authority, and argues 
that the defenders of the Solovets convent had no title to be 
called martyrs, for they were only mutineers. He is strangely 
ignorant of the Acta Sanctorum. 

The Revolt of 1682. 

On May 15, 1682, a revolution^ broke out in Moscow which 
continued until it was repressed with ruthless energy by Peter 
the Great in 1698. In essential respects this resembled that 
of 1917. For it, too, was a joint revolt of the Streltsy, the 
Praetorian guard of the day, and of the populace. After 
rioting for three days, and murdering many who were obnoxi- 
ous to them, the soldiers proclaimed the two striplings John 
and Peter Alexeevichi to be both Tsars under the regency 
of their elder sister Sophia. A certain Prince Ivan Khovanski 
who possessed a mansion in Moscow was a partisan of the Ras- 
kol, and had long incurred suspicion by harbouring fugitive 
priests and using the old books in his private chapel. He was 
captain of the Streltsy and had little difficulty in investing 
what was in origin a mutiny of soldiers with the character of 
an Old believer rising. To him as officer of the guard was 
presented a petition for the restoration of the old piety drawn 
up by a monk Sergius. He professed his readiness to cham- 
pion the cause and promised to allow the Raskolniks to dis- 
cuss publicly their faith in the square where executions took 
place; It sounds a grim project, but we must not forget that 
the finest open spaces in Europe were but a few generations ago 
consecrated to such uses. The petition was naturally approved 
by the mutinous soldiery who can have had no idea of what 
it was about. Nicetas Dobrynin, also named Pustosviat, 
who had been pope or parish priest of Suzdal and had hypo- 
critically given his adherence at the council of 1666 to the new 
church regulations, was chosen to conduct the debate in the 
presence of the young princes and the regent. 

The project failed however for the moment, and the petition 
alone was presented to the royalties. On June 25 took place 

1 Macariu.?, Hist, of Raskol: Solovyev, Hist, of Russ. 1. 12: Bratskoe Slovo, 1875, 


the coronation of the two httle Tsars, the rite being performed 
from the new books, and in the hturgy instead of seven, only five 
prosphorae ^ were offered, a number displeasing to the Raskol- 
niks. Nevertheless Nicetas held a service in honour of the 
occasion in the Uspenski Church along the old hues as a sort of 
counter-demonstration with the permission of Khovanski; 
and this modest success inspired the partisans of the 'old piety' 
to conduct a procession through Moscow with ikons and books. 
Street preachers denounced the profanation of the churches 
and service-books, and appealed to the multitude to defend 
the old faith. Adherents of the new order were roughly 
handled by the crowd. 

On July 3 the Raskolniks began a pubUc discussion with 
Joakim the patriarch in his palace of the Cross, of which 
Sabba Romanov, one of those who took part in it, has left us 
a description. It was renewed two days later in the square 
of the royal palace. The Old believers came with their books 
and their cross, their pulpit and their lighted tapers, and 
Nicetas standing on a dais began to read his diatribe before 
the people. He wanted a public discussion of his thesis, but 
the authorities declined this as unseemly and invited him 
into the palace, where the lady regent Sophia was present with 
several other princesses, her aunt Tatyana Mikhailovna, her 
sister Maria Alexeevna and the Tsaritsa NataUa Kirileovna. 
There were present also the patriarch and sundry archpriests. 
Asked what he wanted, Nicetas returned: "To supplicate 
humbly concerning the correction of the books. A new faith 
has been introduced among us." Athanasius, bishop of 
Khohnogory, repUed for his patriarch, whereupon Nicetas, 
according to the official report of the case, struck Athanasius 
and abused the Patriarch. Sabba however who was present 
states that he merely led him slightly aside with his hand. 
The Princess Sophia then began to reproach Nicetas with 
having recanted in 1666, and Nicetas rephed, no doubt truly, 
that he had only done so out of fear. The Princess thereupon 
irritated by the way her father Cyril and brother Ivan were 

^ i.e., the loaves from which bread for consecration was taken. These loaves 
were offered in the deacon's chamber and not at the altar on the bema. 


spoken of in the petition (both of them had been murdered 
by the mutinous soldiers) threatened to withdraw from Mos- 
cow with the rest of the Royal Family. At the same time, 
Joakim, gospel in hand, proceeded to address a reprimand to 
the Old behevers, who received his remarks with derision, 
signing themselves with two fingers — their most effective 
method no doubt of exorcism, — and shouting 'Thus, thus!' 
The interview then broke up, and the Raskolniks proceeded 
to promenade about the city, entered the churches and said 
prayers in their own fashion, and beat the bells. 

Sophia, a capable and determined woman, like most of the 
women who have from time to time controlled the fortunes of 
Russia, now took prompt steps to separate the cause of the 
revolted soldiery from that of the populace. She succeeded 
by means of her donatives, and so far regained their loyalty 
that they made themselves the agents of the arrest of Nicetas, 
who was instantly beheaded for rebeUion. This was July 21, 
1682. His followers were banished to monasteries for correc- 
tion. The revolt of the Streltsy, it is true, was not quelled 
and went on simmering; but henceforth it had httle or no 
connection with the grievances of the Old behevers. 

The Ukaze of 1685 and Its Results 

There followed the Tsaritsa Sophia's ukase of 1685, one of 
the most draconian statutes on the page of history. It 
utterly proscribed the dissidents and forbade their very exist- 
ence. If detected, they were to be subjected to three-fold 
torture, after which, if they did not recant, they were to be 
burned ahve. If they repented they were to be sent for 
correction to an ecclesiastical prison. Those who had re- 
baptized a convert were to be put to death, no matter whether 
they repented or not; those they baptized to be knouted in 
case of repentance, but, in the opposite case, slain. Anyone 
who harboured them, even unwittingly, was hable to a fine of 
5 to 50 roubles, in those days a great sum of money. 

As might be expected, the dissidents did not wait to be 
caught, and a great flight of them followed into the farthest 
forests and deserts of Russia and even across the frontiers, 


for it was impossible to draw such a cordon that they could 
not escape from the Empire. 

"In order the more freely to wander from city to city and 
from \dllage to village, the itinerant preachers and mission- 
aries cleverly assumed all sorts of disguises. Sometimes they 
made their way in the garb of beggars, with wallet on back. 
This was supposed to hold the alms of the charitable, but more 
often it concealed Raskol books and tracts; at other times they 
assumed the garb of pilgrims; often they travelled as peddlers 
and colporteurs, with bags on their backs in which equally 
they hid the hterature of their teachers." ^ 

For all that, remarks Uzov, they were caught often enough, 
and it was not for nothing that the teaching grew up among 
them of the expediency of suicide en masse. P. Mihukov 
(Outhnes of Russian civiUzation, 4th ed. pt. 1, p. 71) estimates 
that from the beginning of the Raskol to end of 1689 as many 
as 20,000 burned themselves ahve, and most of these in the 
last nine years when Sophia's ukase was being executed against 

"The self-immolation of the Raskolniks was in their time as 
heroic an exploit as we should to-day account a similar action 
on the part of the defenders of a fortress." ^ "Let us baffle 
Antichrist," ^ was the cry with which the Raskolniks rallied 
one another's courage and declared it preferable to burn them- 
selves ahve than give themselves up into the hands of a Govern- 
ment they detested. For the rest, it must be admitted that "it 
was perfectly logical reasoning on their part; it was better 
once for all to settle accounts with this life than be deprived 
of it by inhuman tortures; moreover, they argued, you may 
fail in the trial and against your will deny your convictions 
after all." ^ "Many have affirmed that self-immolation was a 
peculiar dogma of the Raskolniks. Had this been so, we should 
meet with cases of voluntary self-immolation, provoked by this 
teaching, without any other incentives. But in fact in all the 

* Shchapov, Russ. Rask., p. 313. 

^ Vestnik, Evrop. 1871, No. 4, Kostomarov's art., p. 494. 
' The Raskol revealed in their own Hist. p. 228. 

* Vremya, 1862, No. 1, art. by Aristov, p. 95. 


known cases this form of death was chosen as an alternative to 
forcible capture by army commandos, and for the most part it 
was only adopted when their homes were being attacked. 
What was there to induce a few fanatics, who had won over 
ignorant peasants, to resort to so horrible a measure? They 
furnish themselves an answer to the question in the historical 
and trustworthy pictures they penned of contemporary perse- 
cution: ''Everywhere blows resound; everywhere thrashings 
and subjugation to his yoke follow in the train of Nikon's 
teaching; everywhere whips and rods soaked daily in the 
blood of confessors. The preachers of Nikon's new ideas 
breathe, not the spirit of gentleness, but that of fury, wrath, 
tyranny. Beatings and wounds, such are the methods of their 
instruction, and not the grace of Christ; guile and evil deceit, 
and not apostolic humiUty; with these they would spread 
their faith, and the outcome of their cruel violence and tyranny 
is a rain of blood. Village and field are bathed in tears, 
wilderness and forest are loud with weeping and moaning and 
groaning . . . Some suffered for the faith, others hid themselves 
wherever they could, others when the invaders, the persecutors, 
shewed themselves with guns and weapons, assiu-ed of martyr- 
dom, burned themselves alive." ^ Now and then, when they 
saw the forces sent against them to be weak, they tried to 
escape, and for a time were successful. Thus, for example, 
they one day forced a commando to retire, having slain the 
captain, Portnovski; but on that occasion they only fired with 
the wads, out of terror; but irritation against the authorities 
took the shape of cutting the dead body of Portnovski to bits.^ 
We may thus affirm without injustice to the facts "that self- 
immolation was their last mode of escape. In no other sense 
was it ever adopted as a dogma than as a way of avoiding per- 
secution and of escape from the rack, which was always in store 
for such Old believers as fell into the hands of the Govern- 
ment." ^ 

^ Hist, of the Vygovski Old bel. hermitage, By Ivan Philippov, V and VI. 

2 ibid. ch. 7. 

3 Nation. Memorials, 1863, No. 2, art. by Esipov, p. 607. 


Peter the Great 

In the year 1689 another poHtical revolution took place; 
Sophia was driven from power and sent into a convent; and 
her brother, Peter the Great, mounted the throne. He was 
for some time too occupied with more pressing matters to 
turn his attention to the Raskol, and they made use of the 
precious respite accorded them to estabhsh their various 
settlements, which were at first formed, if not along strict 
monastic Hnes, at any rate with a show of monastic terminol- 

One of his first actions was to suppress the lingering revolt 
of the Streltsy. "Rumours of their awful punishment were 
carried all over Russia and struck terror into the hearts of 
the people," ^ who regarded their Emperor with horror, and the 
word Antichrist, whispered by the Raskolniks, was now 
bruited far and wide. "But Peter annihilated the Streltsy, 
and the popular risings came to nothing. The power was in 
the end in his hands . . . After his terrible vengeance was wreaked 
on the Streltsy, he could do exactly as he pleased." ^ So-caUed 
"European reforms" were forthwith sprung upon the people, 
tax-gatherers and press-gangs were everywhere, the peasant 
labourers were lowered to the condition of serfs. A hundred 
thousand of the people perished on pubhc works, i.e. in the 
building of Petersburg, of fortresses, canals; for the Sovereign 
in his reforms had at heart the strengthening of his own prerog- 
atives and not the happiness of the people. 

"The system of administration he raised was mechanical 
and arbitrary, centralization was carried in dry hard style into 
ridiculous details. MultipUcation of provincial bureaucrats, 
division of his subjects into castes, contempt for Russian popu- 
lar Ufe with all its traditions and leanings to local pecuharities, 
— all this served to rouse the hostility of the people for the 
amelioration of whose fate he did nothing at all." ^ Under 
Peter the Government steadily pursued its work of centrahza- 

1 Raskol Happenings in 18th Century, by H. (G) Esipov, t. 1, p. 8, and t. 2, 
p. 162. 
» IMd. 
3 Aristov in Fremt/a (Time) 1862, No. 1, p. 77. 


tion, yet the masses "impelled by mediaeval tendencies to 
separation and setting at naught the new ideas of administra- 
tion, refused to submit to a scheme of unification, and with 
considerable resilience strove to maintain the ancient system 
or, as the documents characteristically put it, to break off." '• 

The administrators ''did everything they could to bind the 
people with eternal bonds, spared no effort to reconstruct 
society according to an arbitrary plan which lacked all basis 
in life and reason nor had any roots in popular ideas, feelings or 
aspirations." ^ A fresh swarm of about 10,000 foreigners from 
the West, mostly Germans, descended upon Russia, and were 
concentrated by Peter in Moscow, ''illuminated instructors 
who made no effort to grasp the deeper popular tendencies and 
needs of the national spirit, but held the people tight by the 
bearing-rein of their methods and regarded them as so many 
country bumpkins." ^ But "in the soul of the people was 
engrained a deep and powerful bias against royal prerogatives, 
and a profound distaste for a fiat governmental rule the same 
for all, an instinct to be free from the strict regime of a single 
absolute authority, to assert their own will and manage their 
own affairs. The very idea of a supreme authority, of autoc- 
racy, which attained full development in the rule of an 
Emperor had never yet penetrated the entire people." ^ 
"Seditious" tracts were pubhshed, penned, by the admission 
of the authors, " because of their sympathy with the people," 
or "for their advantage and in order to alleviate the weight of 
taxation." In these it was contended that God made man 
"in his own image and hkeness, and that it was God's own 
ordinance that man should be absolute master of himself." * 
The Russian steam-roller invented by Tartar tyranny and 
perfected by Peter the Great was never much admired by the 
Russians themselves. 

The Old beUevers led the opposition to the reforms of Peter I, 
alleging that he "was an agent of all wickedness and of Satan's 
will, and had raised himself on high above all false gods." 

^ Shchapov, Russian Raskol, p. 465. 

2 Vremya, 1862, No. 1, art. by Aristov, p. 78. 

3 Shchapov, op. cit., p. 471. 

* Esipov, op. cit. t. 1, pp. 165, 182. 


He was, they declared, a false Messiah who magnified himself 
and surrounded himself with glory before all. In 1721 Peter 
assumed the title of Patriarch, took the name of Father of his 
country, as the pamphlet 'Kingdom of the Dead' attests 
against him (p. 115), made himself head of the Russian Church 
and autocrat; he now had no one on an equality with himself, 
and appropriated not only the authority of Tsar, but of priest- 
hood and Godhead. He became absolute shepherd of a head- 
less church, the adversary of Christ, in a word Antichrist." ^ 
As Shchapov remarks, the Old beUevers ominously com- 
plained that Peter the Great ''called himself Emperor and 
Monarch, that is to say sole ruler and sole authority, thereby 
assuming the title of God of Russia, as is testified in the pam- 
phlet 'Peter's Cabinet' in which it was said: "Behold thy God, 
behold thy God, Russia!" ^ 

Accordingly the Raskolniks rose against all the statutes 
and edicts by which Peter set himself to uphold his autocratic 
rule. They declared the census Hst to be Antichiist's list, 
and taught the people not to inscribe their names in it. "We," 
they wrote, "have been instructed by Christ in his law, and 
we keep his commandment and preserve the holy faith; and 
therefore we refuse to submit ourselves to such a false Christ 
and to obey him; never will we inscribe ourselves in his books 
and share the transgressions of the impious, nay, we will not 
counsel anyone to do so who desires to be saved." "Verily 
we see fulfilled the mystery of the Apocalypse; the reign of 
the primal beast is established among us, and the earth and 
all that live thereon are made to bow the knee to Satan and 
say : ' Settle our account, we beg you humbly to grant us pass- 
ports.' He will answer: 'Out with your poll-tax for the new 
year, and are there no other arrears to pay up, for you live 
on my earth?' There you have a deep pit for the destruction 
of the human race." ^ 

From the time of Peter the Great the Russian Government 

^ Proceedings of the Imperial Society of History and Antiquities, 1863, bk. 1, 
pp. 53 and 63. 

^ Shchapov, Russ. Rask., p. 478. 

' Imperial Society of History and Antiquities, 1863, vol. 1, pp. 55, 58, 59. 


spent time and trouble on the compilation of statistics, of 
which, however, it never made much use. If we bear in mind 
that the project of a methodical census of the inhabitants of 
the United Kingdom when it was first mooted late in the 
XVIIIth Century, provoked angry protests from religious 
people, and was actually rejected in the House of Lords on the 
ground that, like the similar experiment of King David, it 
might call down upon the land the wrath of God, we shall 
not be surprised at the acute displeasure of the Raskol when 
Peter the Great imposed a census and a poll-tax on them nearly 
a century earlier. In 1890 it was still one of the chief griev- 
ances of the Armenians under Russia's rule, that the Govern- 
ment obUged them to register their births, deaths and mar- 
riages. They had suffered no such indignity under Turkish 
and Persian rule, and it partly explained the saying, then and 
now common among them, that whereas the Turk only slew 
their bodies, the Russian slew their souls. We shall have occa- 
sion, however, to point out later on that the rehgious census 
prepared under the auspices of the Russian State and Church 
has no statistical value whatever and was only contrived to 
deceive and conceal facts. It is noteworthy that the Raskol 
also, in combating a census under Peter, adduced the warning 
example of King David's reign. 

"The Raskol rebelled against the very structure and organi- 
zation of the imperial government, beginning with the Senate 
and the provincial administration. Everywhere the dissidents 
found fault with aspects of the administration which conflicted 
with the welfare of the people, and exploited the disorders 
which broke out in the provinces for strengthening their 
influence and extending it." ^ 

Pitirim, bishop of Krutits, Nikon's successor, in his report 
to Peter I, said of them: "Wherever you find them, instead of 
being pleased with the good fortune of the Sovereign, they 
delight in his misfortunes." ^ 

Such was the attitude of the Old believers to the pbUcy of 
Peter the Great, and they continued their hatred of his govern- 

^ Shchapov, Russ. Rask. p. 515. 

^ Imperial Society History and Antiquities, 1860, bk. 4, p. 281. 


ment to that of his successors: ''We behold," they said, ''what 
a spirit of impiety works and shall work to the end of the world 
in all holders of power." ^ They remained obstinate, and to 
this day, says Uzov, the Old beUevers retain this conviction; 
only a fraction of them under the influence of the reforms of 
the present regime (1881), have begun to relax the severity 
with which they judge the Government. Their spokesman, 
Macarius Ivanovich Stukachev, an adherent of the Theo- 
dosian sect, in his address to the Tsar Liberator in the Sixties, 
intimated as much: "In the innovations," he wrote, "of your 
regime we seem to behold our good old time." ^ In such words 
we detect the point of view of the Old beUevers in their opposi- 
tion to the Government and seize the meaning of the ' good old 
times ' for which they stood. 

Tsardom and Antichrist 

Almost from the dawn of Christianity the teaching about an 
Antichrist or counter-Messiah, if not Satan himself, at any 
rate his heutenant, has furnished enthusiasts with a theme for 
prophecy and dreary dissertations; and it has been cynically 
observed that no student can long preoccupy his mind with 
that most characteristic work of mixed Jewish and Christian 
piety, the so-called Book of Revelation, without jeopardizing 
his reason. Never have the Kings of the Gentiles raged furi- 
ously and devoted themselves to the ever congenial task of 
violating the essential spirit and precepts of Jesus of Nazareth 
by setting their subjects to cut one another's throats, without 
an appeal being made by each side to this bizarre monument. 
During the recent war French divines found in it a prophecy 
of German barbarism, and their German counterparts read in 
it a record of French, Russian and Enghsh impiety. We are 
not therefore surprised to find that such vaticinations filled a 
large space in the mind of the Russian dissidents. Their 
attitude towards Nikon and the Tsar of the time was summed 
up in the behef that the two men were the instruments, if not the 
impersonation, of Antichrist. 

1 Ibid., 1863, Bk. 1, p. 59. 

2 Istina (Truth) 1867, bk. 2. 


The Messiah himself, according to an early tradition, had 
disclaimed knowledge of his second advent on earth, but was 
sure that it would on the one hand usher in the end of the world, 
on the other be preceded by the appearance of Antichrist; and 
accordingly in the 24th and 25th chapters of the first Gospel 
we find enumerated from some contemporary apocalyptic 
document the signs that are to herald the last days. But in 
every age Christian teachers have claimed a knowledge which 
was denied to the Founder; and the author or redactor of 
the Book of Revelation which closes the canon of the New 
Testament was already acquainted with the exact chronology 
of Antichrist and knew that Satan was to be bound for a 
thousand years, whence it was argued that the world would 
end in A. D. 1000. 

But alongside of this behef was current another, equally 
ancient, that this great event was timed 7000 years from Crea- 
tion, because one day in the Scriptures symbohzes a thousand 
years, and as the world took seven days to complete, so it will 
run for an equal period. Rome, the imperial city, was to 
endure to the end. When old Rome fell in the fifth century 
the rehgious imagination found no difficulty in readjusting itself 
to events, and it was agreed that the prophecy regarded not 
old but new Rome or Byzance. Presently new Rome fell also 
into the power of the Turks in 1453, and then it looked as if the 
visions of the seer were really to be fulfilled, for 5508, the tale of 
years which according to Christian chronologists had preceded 
the birth of Jesus added to 1453 made a total of 6961 which was 
not far from 7000. The full period would mature in 1492. 

That year also came and went without any cataclysm; and 
then in Russia arose a new interpretation of the prophecy, of 
which few echoes ever reached Western Europe. This was 
the remarkable theory that in default of old and new Rome, 
Moscow was the imperial city, was the third Rome of which, 
as was thought to be foretold by St. Paul in II. Thess. ii, 
7, the mission is to be the last refuge of orthodoxy and to 
hold down the Antichrist. The Russians shared the Hussite 
behef that by A. D. 1000, if not earUer, the Pope of Rome had 
become the precursor of Antichrist, and this view is enunciated 


in the so-called Book of Cyril compiled by Zizania. The 
author of another work, which circulated in XVIIth Century- 
Russia, the Book of Faith, shewed that in 1439 at the Council 
of Florence the Western Slavs had apostatized to Rome and 
therefore to Antichrist, and hinted that the turn of the Great 
Russians and of Moscow was coming. Chance arranged the 
year 1666 as that of the final triumph of Nikon's 'reforms.' 
Now 1000, the date of old Rome's final apostasy, added to 
666, the apocalyptic number of the Beast, just made that date. 
It was inevitable that the Raskol teachers should put two and 
two together and teach that the prophecy of the Book of Faith 
was being fulfilled before their eyes. About that they were all 

The only point left doubtful was this: in whom was the 
Antichrist to be recognized? Who was the Man of Sin? 
Was it Nikon or the Tsar? or both? It was not difficult to 
find, among the martyrs of the Raskol, incarnations of Elias 
and Enoch who according to ancient prophecy were to confute 
Satan and his emissaries; but neither Nikon nor the Tsar bore 
the distinguishing marks of the Antichrist, beyond the fact 
that they were real men of flesh and blood. That much the 
Antichrist was to be, but then he was also to reign for three 
and a half years ; his mother, like Christ's, was to be a virgin, 
and even the traits of his personal appearance were prescribed 
in old prophecies. In some ancient documents, for example, 
the picture of St. Paul in the Acts of Thekla was adopted 
unchanged as that of Antichrist — an indication of a Judaizing 
source hostile to the Apostle of the Gentiles. An Elder of the 
Raskol, Abraham, set about to prove that Nikon was Anti- 
christ, with the aid of passages from St. Cyril of Jerusalem and 
from Hippolytus' tract on the subject; but his arguments did 
not please everybody, and Awakum more modestly pretended 
that Nikon was only the Precursor of Antichrist, for as Christ 
had a precursor in John the Baptist, so it was necessary for his 
antitype to have one. 

Theodore the deacon broached a third view to the effect that 
Antichrist was no other than Satan himself, an invisible spirit 
who issues from the abyss at the end of a thousand years to 


corrupt Rome with heresy and Lithuania with apostasy. In 
1666 this serpent entered into his two chosen vessels, the Tsar 
and Nikon. Thus there came into being a counter Trinity of 
serpent, beast and lying prophet. This theory of the incar- 
nation of Antichrist in these two men was a step in the develop- 
ment of a doctrine which the Bezpopovtsy adopted later on; 
they broached the view that the entire series of Tsars from 1666 
onwards were and are incarnations of the Evil One. Anti- 
christ to their imagination is rather an ideal of evil, a tendency 
that makes for Hell rather than Heaven, than a real person. 
The excellent Ivanovski sets out arduously to overthrow these 
old world opinions and argues seriously that Antichrist when 
he appears will be a circumcized Jew of the tribe of Dan, of 
miraculous birth, etc. in the same spirit as is found in pseudo- 
Hippolytus, in John of Damascus, and in Andrew of Caesarea's 
Commentary on the Apocalypse. 

The mediaeval Cathars were on rather safer ground when 
imder stress of Papal persecution they argued that this world is 
already Hell, so that we need not wait for another existence in 
order to experience its tortures. For them as for the Raskol 
the government of Kings and princes was a manifestation of 
the power of Satan. The regime of persecution under which 
they groaned was hardly worse than that which until yesterday 
existed in Russia. It would be interesting to know what the 
Raskol thought of the Russian Revolution. Did they see in 
the deposition of the Tsar an end put to the reign of Antichrist? 
Will they be grievously disappointed if the end of the world 
and the last great assize fails to ensue? Intellectual progress 
had undermined for many of them these grotesque beliefs, 
but the war may have revived them. If there were any 
Cathars left to-day they might justly hail it as a confirmation 
of their beliefs. 

Excommunicated by the Council of 1667 the Raskolniks ^ 
resolved to hold no more relations with the dominant chiu-ch. 
"It behoves us," they said, "as orthodox Christians not to 
accept from the adherents of Nikon either benediction, or 
ceremonies, or baptism, or prayers, not to pray with them 

1 Material for the History of Raskol, t. 5, pp. 217 foil, and 231 foil. 


either in Church or in private, not to read their heretical books 
nor follow their heretical chantings." The Cathars of Europe 
pronounced the prayers of the Roman Church to be magis 
execrabilis quam impetrabilis, ''worthy rather of execration 
than of being asked for " ; the Raskolniks regarded the devotions 
of the Holy Russian Church in exactly the same way. 

But in an age of fierce and searching persecution it was 
difficult to carry out a program of complete and unconditional 
abstention; Avvakum therefore drew up rules by observing 
which the dissidents might as far as possible keep themselves 
uncontaminated by Nikonian rites. "If they drag you into 
Church, then," so he wrote, "whisper your prayer to Isus"; 
They objected, it may be remembered, to the substitution in 
the Service-books of the correcter spelling lesus for Isus. "On 
no account," continues Awakum, "join in the singing; nor 
salute the Saviour's image along with the rest, but so soon as 
the Nikonians cease to pray, then make your own prostration. 
Whenever on a feast day the Pope comes to your house with 
cross and holy water and wants to sprinkle your home, follow 
him round and sweep it out with a broom." One recalls the 
way in which on certain holy days the Greek islanders sweep 
the evil spirits out of their houses crying e^w Kape^, 'out with 
the unclean ghosts.' "Tell your children," he continues, "to 
liide away from him behind the stove, but go forward yom'self 
and your wife and give him a drink and say: ' We don't deserve 
to be blessed.' He begins to sprinkle about, but get him into 
a corner, give him another drink, and tip him a coin or two. 
Your \N ife can go about her household affairs and say : ' I have 
no time. You've a wife of your own, father, and can under- 
stand how busy I am.' If they haul you off to make your 
confession to one of Nikon's priests, talk rubbish to him. But 
any one who takes the Sacrament in an orthodox church, even 
involuntarily, must do six months' penance, must not communi- 
cate with the faithful, but weep for his sins." Avvakum Uke- 
wise imposed penance on anyone who even in mockery crossed 
himself with three fingers. By such devices he trusted to 
keep alive the spuit of the Raskol, and at the same time ward 
off persecution. In the churches the ikons of ancient saints 


might be venerated, but only after the congregation had left 
the church. 

It is pathetic to observe that the dissidents cherished as long 
as they could the behef that the Tsar was the victim of fraud 
and had been deceived by Nikon. They continued for long 
to think that he had only to be undeceived, and continued to 
address petitions to him ^ pleading their cause. The dismissal 
of Nikon and the favour shewn to Awakum ^ by members of 
the Royal Family, Uke Fedosia Prokopievna Morozova and 
Eudokia Urusova, encouraged them to beseech their Sovereign 
to restore the old piety, to abohsh the use of the three fingers 
which was the sign of Antichrist, to let them retain the old 
books. It was only gradually that the fire of persecution 
burned into their souls the conviction that the Tsar was him- 
self the Antichrist. At first, accordingly, the tone of their 
petitions was loyal and humble. They approached their 
hegelord in tears, praised his piety, termed him a child of hght, 
a son of the resurrection. But presently they began to hint 
at impending calamities, — a menace to which then as now the 
Russian despot was singularly susceptible; they even invoked 
against him the judgment of Christ. Nikon, so Awakum 
warned him, had slain his soul and he would answer for it in 
the great assize. He had given ear to the flatterers of this 
world, the Nikonian doctors to wit, wrote Abraham, and tlie 
consequences would be war and discord. Terrible dreams, as 
always in such times, were in fashion. Awakum at last wrote 
to the Tsar that he had in a vision beheld a gaping wound in 
his back and belly; and after the Tsar's death he wrote in 
1681 and informed his son Theodor or Fedor that he had been 
vouchsafed a vision of his father in the torments of Hell. 
The Tsar's answer was to condenm the writer to the stake along 
with his three companions, Lazar, Epiphan and Nikiphor. 
Awakum died crossing himself with two fingers and consoling 
his friends as the flames rose and encircled them. 

^ Mat. for Hist, of Raskol, vols. 3-7. 
* Russk. Viestnik, 1865, Sept., p. 33. 



The death in 1656 of Paul of Kolomna, the only bishop who 
had joined the movement, had left the seceders without 
priests and spht the movement into two wings, called Popovtsy 
or Bezpopovtsy according as they fell back on the use of priests 
who came over to them from Nikon's heresy or made up their 
mind to dispense with priests altogether. The Popovtsy can 
be taken first. 

Th£ Settlements of the Popovtsy 

The Popovtsy were a more united body than the priestless, 
and as with the aid of runaway orthodox popes they merely 
continued the old orthodoxy, there was nothing except the 
need of hiding from the Government to cause scissions among 
them, but they were widely dispersed. 

In Nizhegorod their earhest leaders were contemporaries 
of Nikon, the hieromonachus Abraam, the monk Ephrem 
Potemkin, the Elder Sergius. They built the Kerzhen settle- 
ments among the forests of the Balakhnovski district, which 
were called after the Elder Onuphrius, who was their prior 
in 1690. Onuphrius inherited the writings of Awakum and 
these became for the Popovtsy what the writings of Luther 
are or were for the Lutheran church. This however, did not 
prevent microscopic dogmatic errors being detected in them 
about Christ's descent into Hell, which almost led to schisms. 
Onuphrius' followers were numerous early in the 18th century 
among the forests of Bryn in the Kaluga government and in 
the see of Rostov. Awakum at first had insisted on the rebap- 
tism of Nikonian converts, but his followers, when they found 
themselves dependent on fugitive priests of the dominant 
confession relaxed their severity. In Nizhegorod and the 
surroimding district 3000 followers of Awakum burned them- 
selves ahve early in the movement, and many more starved 
themselves to death to avoid the rack and the glaive. 

Other Popovetsy settlements were organized on the Don and 



the Kuban rivers, by the Elders Job and Dositheus, who also 
founded the monasteries of Rakov and Nikolski in the district 
of Tver. A third monastery, the Lygovski, was founded as 
early as 1669 in the Rylsk district in the Kursk government by 
Job, who was a Lithuanian monk. He built a fourth on the 
River Chir in the Don region to which he had to flee. There 
Dositheus, hegumen of Tikhvin, consecrated the first Raskol 
church after Job's death about 1683. In 1688 the flight 
extended to Astrakhan where Dositheus with the help of two 
priests Pafnutius and Theodosius organized settlements on 
the River Kum on the Cherkess steppes. Others followed near 
Tambov, in the Crimea, and on the Terek. In 1708, a rebel 
against the Tsar's government named Ignatius Nekrasov after 
raiding Saratov, Tsaritsyn and Dmitrevsk, fled with his clan 
to the River Kuban, where he made his submission to the Khan 
of the Crimea and founded the Raskol community known xmder 
his name which subsequently was settled in Turkish territory. 
The famous rebel Pugachev was also a Raskolnik of the Don, 
and was assisted in his exploits by Nekrasov and his followers. 

These active Raskolniki of the Don and Kuban were in 
regular communication with conmiunities of Popovtzi estab- 
lished at Vetka in Poland and at Starodub in the Tchernigov 
Government. The latter was founded by Kosmas, once priest 
of All Saints in Moscow. Condenmed in 1667, he had fled 
with 22 of his parishioners. He was befriended by the mihtary 
oflScer of Starodub, Gabriel Ivanov, who got permission in 
1669 from the Ataman Lamak of Kurkub for Kosmas to settle 
on the River Revna at Ponurov. In the surrounding forests of 
Starodub the fugitives multiphed and organized four villages, 
where one Stephanus, who had been ordained before 1666, 
aided by his son Dmitri, celebrated Mass and other rites for 
the inhabitants. In 1682, at the death of Tsar Theodor 
Alexiev the regent Sophia ordered the Starodub fugitives to 
be driven back to their homes. Thereupon Kosmas and 
Stephanus with their followers fled into Poland and settled at 
Vetka, which soon became a leading focus of propaganda. 

A dispute over the use and making of the holy chrism led 
to the formation of a group called the Diakonovo by a deacon 


Alexander. Its members continued to live in Kirzhen, Staro- 
dub and other Popovets centres. 

When the Vetka settlement was wrecked by Col. Sytin and 
his five regiments by order of the Empress Anna loannovna in 
1733^, the survivors asked permission to transport their 
church called Pokrovski or of the Intercession to Starodub. 
They took it down, made a raft of the beams and planks and 
floated it down the river Sozh as far as the village Svyatki, 
where a storm wrecked it and they only saved the Royal door 
and the two side doors and four ikons. They also had the 
ikonostasis in bits, for they took that by road. Sytin wanted 
to leave them the relics of their four founders and patron 
saints, Joasaph, Theodosius, Alexander and Antony. But 
near Novgorod Sieberski the Tzar's agents violated the reli- 
quaries, opened them and cast the remains into the river. 
Then, relates Macarius, the modern orthodox prelate and 
historian, ''the victims of superstition saw in the coflSns not 
incorruptible reUcs, but just a few old bones. They smelled 
their stench, and left off boasting about their pretended saints. 
The coffins were burned"! 

The Starodub colony inherited something of the old glory 
of Vetka when the latter after being again and again raided 
was finally destroyed in 1762-4. It had been founded, as 
we saw, in 1682, under John and Peter Alexeievich, the young 
Tsars. As many as 17 hamlets in time grew up amidst the 
impenetrable forests of the region. In 1708 when Charles 
XII of Sweden, by reason of the treason of Mazeppa, invaded 
httle Russia and reached Starodub, the sectaries attacked him 
with much vigour. As a reward of their loyalty Tsar Peter I 
granted them lands and certain immunities. 

In 1775 two laymen, originally of Vetka, who had settled 
in Starodub, broke off because of some small dogmatic dispute 
and settled in Chernobol in Poland on the estates of the Pan 
Khatkyevich. Their names were Nikephorus Larion and 
Pavel Grigorev. The Suslovo sect of Popovtsy was founded 
from Starodub by one Theodor Suslov who disapproved of 
runaway popes being accepted from Little Russia where in 
certain places they accepted baptism by sprinkling only. 


But the two chief fresh settlements to which the final de- 
struction of Vetka gave rise were on the River Irgiz in Saratov 
and in Moscow itself. As many as 120 famiUes settled on the 
Irgiz where now is situated the city of Nikolaevsk. They 
built shrines and sketes after the Raskol custom in the sur- 
rounding forests, and in 1770 obtained a regular priesthood. 
In the next year 1771, the sect managed at last to establish 
itself in some force in Moscow itself, a century after the first 
flight thence. The Priestless sect had set an example which 
the Popovtsy now followed. This was the establishment of a 
hospital for the sick called the Kladbich in the village of 
Rogozh, just outside the capital. Two shrines were dedicated 
to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and adherents all over 
Russia sent hberal gifts for its endowment. By 1800 it had 
several hundred inmates, and 20,000 parishioners in Moscow. 

As to the early history of Popovtsys in Siberia few data are 
preserved, but entire villages fled thither at an early date with 
their priests, and took refuge in the regions where iron and 
gold were mined. In 1722 ukases were issued against further 
flights thither, and enacting penalties against priests of the 
orthodox church who should join them. Nevertheless their 
colonies were numerous, and Ekaterinburg became their 
centre. Many rich merchants and citizens there belonged to 
the sect, which obtained popes from Irgiz. As early as 1800, 
there were more than 150,000 Popovtsys in the governments 
of Orenburg, Perm and Tobolsk, and in Ekaterinburg they had 
a church built of stone. 

Ivanovski, dweUing on the above facts, strives to shew that 
the dissidents were not punished on account of their religious 
opinions, but for opposing the Tsar's Government, as if such 
opposition itself needed no explanation. A modern historian 
is astonished rather than the reverse, that so slight resistance 
was shewn throughout to the centraUzing pohcy of Moscow. 
Had the Raskolniks been Quakers they could hardly have 
shown less. In contrast with the Huguenots of France, the 
Protestants of the Netherlands, the Roundheads of England, 
even with the Anabaptists of the continent, they were emi- 


nently peaceful people, inspired with the spirit of a Tolstoy 
rather than of a John of Leiden. In the few cases Ivanovski 
enumerates of their offering resistance, one discerns, — what 
Macarius equally admits, — that they were the assailed and 
not the assailants. Thus he describes their "attack" upon 
the Paleostrovski Monastery in Pomorye, where they seized 
the treasury, bound the hegumen or abbot, and fortified 
themselves in it. They only did so because here, as in the 
Solovets Convent, they had the sympathy and approval of the 
monks; so also at Pudozh, where two hundred of them took 
possession of the church and held services in it of the ancient 
style. In the case of the Paleostrovski Convent and of 
Pudozh, Ivanovski's further narrative confirms this interpreta- 
tion of the facts, for he relates that in both places the Raskol- 
niks committed themselves to the funeral pyre rather than be 
taken, and that in the first-mentioned of them they burnt 
the hegumen and the monkish inmates along with themselves. 
It is obvious that the brethren were in sympathy with the 
Raskol, for they could easily have escaped, if they had wanted 
to. In general the dissidents fled into the forests, just as did 
the Latin Uniats of the Ruthene province of Kholm during the 
last thirty years; there, they fasted, prayed, confessed to one 
another and then perished of hunger, fully persuaded that the 
end of the world w^as at hand. They even dug their own 
graves and lay down in ditches, momentarily expecting the 
last trump to strike their ears, now that Antichrist was come. 

The Search for Priests 

The Russian Orthodox Church, from which the Raskolniks 
of 1667 were driven, possessed, hke the other great churches 
of the East and West, a threefold hierarchy of bishop, priest 
and deacon; and the chief external difference which has for 
centuries separated the Eastern Churches, not only those 
which arrogate to themselves the title of orthodox, but the 
Monophysite Christianity of Armenia, Egypt and Abyssinia, 
and still older Nestorianism, is one of discipline. In the East 
the Parish Priest, the Papa or Pope, must be a married man, 
though, if his wife dies, he cannot take a second. In the West 


ever since the age of Hildebrand, if not earlier, the parish 
clergy are celibate, and have taken in effect not only the ordi- 
nary vows of ordination, but monkish vows as well, though 
they are known as secular clergy in opposition to the Regulars 
who Uve under a monastic rule. In the East, in strong con- 
trast to the parish clergy, the bishops or 'higher clergy' are 
monks, usually of St. Basil's rule, and have all at one time or 
another been inmates of a monastery. 

In both East and West, the priest alone can administer the 
Sacraments, and to that effect can only be ordained by the 
laying on him of a bishop's hands. 

In 1667 the Russian seceders were faced with the difficulty 
that the entire body of Russian bishops submitted to the 
Government, very much as early in the English Reformation 
the entire bench of bishops, with one or two honourable excep- 
tions, submitted with indecent haste to the decrees of Henry 
VIII. The difficulty was even greater in the Russian Church 
than in the EngUsh, because the myron or holy chrism, used 
for various sacramental acts of unction, can only be consecrated 
on Thursday in Easter Week by a Patriarch. Then again 
as the pope or priest could only be ordained by a bishop, and 
as no pope is immortal, the time was boimd to come when the 
seceding clergy would be as extinct as the dodo and none left 
to administer the sacraments. As early as 1681 the Raskol 
teacher Awakum wrote to the Tsar Theodore that "their 
patriarchate was in ruins, their priesthood decayed, and their 
entire clergy moribund." Of dire need he had to counsel his 
followers to follow the precept of the Apostle James, and dis- 
pensing with the services of a priest, confess to one another 
and repent before God. They might communicate in the 
reserved host, without a priest being present, and for the pur- 
pose might carry it about with them — a practice for which 
they might, had they known of it, have found a precedent in 
the Church of Africa in the days of Tertulhan. Until the 
death of the Tsar Alexis they procured resei-ved hosts in Pomor 
from the Solovets Convent. The hegumen Dositheus built a 
church in 1686 at Chir with pre-Nikonian Antiminsia and 
accumulated a quantity of reserved hosts for distribution 


among Old believers. But how could they hope to obtam on 
all occasions even a reserved host? ^ 

In the presence of this difficulty Awakum sanctioned re- 
course to the ministration even of priests whose ordination 
dated from after the year 1667, and was therefore heretical. 
But another Raskol teacher, Theodor the deacon, altogether 
rejected the ministration of heretically ordained priests and 
would hear of none ordained later than 1666. On those who 
took up this attitude the situation was bound to press with ever 
increasing weight, and in the course of a generation to become 
irremediable; at first it was in some degree masked by the 
belief that Antichrist was come and the end of the world was 
at hand, but this beUef began to fade or replace itself with 
the milder theory that Antichrist was a tendency that makes 
for evil. 

As might be expected, the need of a hierarchy would be met 
in different ways according to circumstances, and Ivanovski 
points out that the North of Russia, which was densely wooded, 
sparsely populated, and contained few chm-ches and fewer 
roads, was more favourable than other regions to the growth 
of Bezpopovets usage, i. e. of those who, making a virtue of 
necessity, resigned themselves to dispensing altogether with 
a hierarchy and to getting along with no rites and sacraments 
at all, or at most with those which according to ancient ec- 
clesiastical usage laymen can in cases of dire need themselves 
discharge, for example baptism, confession, burial (which a 
monk can canonically perform), the Hours, Te Deums and 
Pannychidia or all night long vigils. In such rites the parts 
reserved to priests could be omitted. Such was the solution 
adopted by the settlers on the Vyg, and their example was soon 
copied far and wide. 

In all this the Raskol leaders had no thought of depreciating 
the Sacraments of the Church or of minimising the importance 

' Miliukov (Outlines, pt. 2, p. 56) states that the last of the pre-Nikonian 
popes Theodosius, having escaped from persecution, led a group of Old believers 
from the forests of Kirzhen to Vetka in the Polish marches, and on the way pre- 
pared in a ruined church at Kaluga a number of reserved hosts, which later on 
made the reputation for a time of Vetka, where in 1695 he consecrated a church, 
the only one after the destruction in 1688 of that at Chir. 


of a hierarchy. They had nothing in common with Protestants 
who understand that Sacraments whether pagan or Christian 
are magis opinione quam re, and so have learned the secret of 
each beUever being his own priest. It was indeed all the other 
way with the Raskol; through no fault of their own they found 
themselves marooned without a priesthood, yet thoroughly 
convinced of its need and efficacy for salvation. 

The so-called Pomorian Responses of the year 1720 were the 
first official recognition of the Bezpopovski or No Priesthood 
position. It rested on the distinction between sacraments 
universally necessary to salvation, and sacraments not so 
necessary; to the former class belong baptism, repentance and 
communion; to the latter all the rest. It was decided that in 
case of need a Church could do without the sacraments of 
unction with holy Chrism, of marriage, of holy orders. There 
were, as remarked above, precedents for the celebration of the 
sacraments of baptism and penitence by laymen, the appU- 
cabihty of which to the case of the Raskol Ivanovski somewhat 
ineptly disputes; but how dispense with a priest in the Com- 
munion? It was decided in the Responses that it was enough 
to use a reserved host and substitute for the presence of the 
priest an ardent desire for Communion; they might even 
content themselves altogether with a "spiritual Conmiunion."^ 
Thus was laid by urgent need and force of circumstances the 
basis among these poor people for a worship of God in spirit 
and truth alone. 

In their Responses of 1720 the Raskol teachers furthermore 
urged that the advent of Antichrist had exterminated both 
the priesthood and the divine sacrifice, that under the circum- 
stances the individual Christian becomes his own priest. In 
such an exceptional era it is legitimate, they argued, for laymen 
to conduct the sacraments of baptism and confession and to 
celebrate simdry rites. They also claimed the right to re- 
baptize converts from the orthodox church, a pretension 
somewhat galling to the latter. 

The Old believers of Starodub, a portion of which later on 
removed to Vetka, had, when they first fled from Moscow, 

1 Subbotin, Materials Vol. V, p. 224, 230; VI, p. 60-79, 310-312. 


priests among them who had been ordained before the schism ; 
thus first Cosmas and after him Stephan ministered to them. 
These two were followed by Joasaph, a black or monkish pope, 
whose baptism was anterior to 1667, but as to whose ordina- 
tion there were doubts whether it was not posterior. After 
him Theodosius, who was ordained by Joasaph's predecessor, 
supphed their needs, and under his guidance they built a 
church, and so were able for the first time to conduct the divine 
liturgy. As long as they had at their disposal priests of the 
old ordination, such conmiunities were incHned to reject those 
of the new; but in time, as the stock of old priests more and 
more exhausted itself, they had to face the same problem which 
the Bezpopovtsy settled in the negative; and they settled it 
in the coimter-sense. They felt they must have priests at 
any cost, and decided to adopt those of the new order in 
case they could be persuaded to join them and were wilUng 
to use the rites they considered ancient. The settlers on the 
Don, at Kerzhen and in general those of middle and Southern 
Russia, adopted the same solution. From the circumstance 
of their adopting fugitive or runaway priests the sect came to 
be known as Begstvuiushchiye, sometimes as Oratorians or 
Tchasovennyie, the latter term implying that (except in Vetka 
or Starodub, and later on in Irgiz and the cemetery of Rogozh) 
they had no churches, but only chapels or oratories, proseuchai 
as the Greek Jews called of old their synagogues. 

By accepting the ministration of runaway popes the Popovtsy 
sect exposed themselves to a crossfire of criticism both from 
the orthodox and from the priestless sect ; for both these parties 
urged against such a compromise that it mined the position 
the Popovtsy had in 1666 taken up, when they abandoned the 
Nikonian Church as an heretical body. If it was heretical, 
how could its baptisms and ordinations also not be heretical? 
How again, urged Ivan Alexev, a doctor of the priestless 
sect, can you retain an order of priests, if you have no bishops? 
It was in vain that the Popovtsy tried to justify their position 
from early Church history, pointing out that the see of Chal- 
cedon at one time got on without a bishop for thirty years, 
that the see of Hippo had done hkewise. The Orthodox 


replied that no Church claiming ecumenical authority can 
permanently exist without a head, and that, the triple ordi- 
nation being indispensable in a real Church and the three 
orders indissolubly bound up in one another, you cannot 
logically have a clergy without a bishop. They are a trunk 
without a head. 

The Popovtsy were then reduced to analogy and prophecy ; 
and argued that, as the temple fire of the Jews lay hidden dur- 
ing their Babylonian captivity in a dry well, so it was possible 
for the true charismatic gift of priesthood to lurk in an hereti- 
cal medium. There would have been something in this con- 
tention, if the Popovtsy had not repudiated the baptism of the 
Orthodox Church; but baptism is the portal of all the Sacra- 
ments, and they scrupled not to rebaptize converts who came 
over to them, so contravening a canon of procedure established 
in the undivided Church as early as the third Century. 

How heavily the difficulty weighed upon the Popovtsy is 
shewn by the many attempts they made in the next 150 years 
to secure an episcopate for themselves, attempts which Ivanov- 
ski relates with sardonic humour. From the first the sect 
cherished the belief that a genuine church still existed some- 
where in the world, and their aim was to discover it and link 
up with it. One is reminded of the similar endeavours of the 
KngUsh non-jurors. Oddlj'^ enough the latter entered into 
long-drawn-out negotiations with the Orthodox Russian 
Church, which the curious will read in Monsignor Louis Petit's 
Appendix to the new edition of Mansi's concilia. If the non- 
jurors had been better informed they might, when the Russian 
Government abruptly and in an Erastian spirit repudiated 
them on discovering that they were ranged in opposition to 
the English monarchy, have opened negotiations with the 
Popovtsy whose case strikingly resembled their own, with the 
exception, however, that the non-jurors, had bishops of their 
own. They could have supphed the Raskolniks with bishops. 

One of the earliest doctors of the Russian sect, the deacon 
Theodor, was convinced that a real Christian community 
survived in Jerusalem, preserving the use of two fingers in 
blessing, the double Alleluia and other peculiarities dear to the 


Raskol. Others among their teachers held that a genuine 
piety survived in Antioch, and that the Patriarch Macarius 
of that see did not really represent the faithful there when 
he came to Moscow and prostrated himself before Nikon and 
the Tsar. It will be remembered that he died on his way 
back, and in this the Raskol discerned the finger of God. 

In the XVIIIth century a doctor of the rival and priestless 
sect came to their aid. This was Mark, an inmate of the 
Topozer Skete in the Kemski district of the Archangel Govern- 
ment. He adduced the evidence of a traveller to Japan to 
the efifect that in Belovod in that land there existed a church 
subject to Antioch and endued with all charismatic gifts, with a 
patriarch of its own, 179 places of worship and four metropoli- 
tans. This tale was an echo of the Latin Christianity im- 
planted in Japan in 1549 by St. Francis Xavier. It enjoyed 
a vigorous life, and by the end of the century numbered 250 
churches, and nearly half a million adherents; but the Japan- 
ese had extinguished it with horrible cruelty a hundred years 
before its echoes reached the ears of Mark, and when he ^vrote 
its martyrs were already being enrolled in the Roman calendar. 
There is a strange irony in the Russian Raskol teacher imagin- 
ing that ancient piety was to be restored from such a quarter. 

Still more romantic was another legend which in the early 
years of the XVIIIth Century floated before the eyes of these 
desolate sectaries in quest of a bishop. There was a sub- 
terranean Church in the city of Kitezh on the bank of Lake 
Svetloyar. Kitezh was a town in Suzdal which disappeared 
from human ken on the approach of the conqueror Batus.^ 
It was to abide invisible until the end of the world, and it 
contained churches and monasteries and a large population. 
Of a summer's evening the dwellers on the lake could hear 
beneath its waters the sound of the Kitezh bells; and a letter 
was circulated addressed to his father by a son who Uved below. 
It told how happy he was in a holy monastery, hidden from 
human eye, and besought the habitants of this dull skyward 

' Grandson of Chingis Khan of the Golden horde and hero of many Russian 
legends. The Russian Encyclopedia locates the legendary site of Kitezh near 
Semenov in the Nizhigorod Government. 


earth not to repine nor say mass for his soul; for he was not 
dead, but alive in a realm, terrestrial indeed, but blest with all 
the joys of happy repose, replete with delights, not gross and 
carnal, but spiritual and refined. 

Japan, however, was far away, and Kitezh was a dream, and 
it was hopeless to try to win over to themselves a bishop of the 
orthodox church, for as we saw Russian bishops were not of the 
stuff of which martyrs are made. The only hope was to secure 
one across the frontiers, and as early as 1730 they besought the 
bishop of Jassy, the metropohtan Antony, to ordain as their 
bishop a certain monk of Vetka named Pavel or Paul; but the 
latter could not conscientiously subscribe to the twelve tenets 
imposed by the Metropohtan, says the Bezpopovets writer 
Ivan Alexev. Jona Kurnos, a Popovets author, relates that 
the same community made fresh overtures to Jassy the next 
year, when the Pope Basil of Kazan, who in religion bore the 
name Barlaam, was dispatched thither for ordination. But 
this scheme bore no more fruit than the former. 

EpiphaniuSy the First Raskol Bishop 

Epiphanius was a monk of the Kozelski monastery in the 
see of Kiev, where he had relations, to whom he ever shewed 
kindness and consideration. At Kiev he was in good repute 
with the Archbishop Varlaam Vanatovich, who according to 
one account took him as his lay-brother and afterwards made 
him hegumen of the Kozelski monastery; according to another 
he was steward of the archbishop's household. From the 
Kozel treasury, however, he was accused of having stolen 240 
roubles, and to escape the consequences forged himself a pass- 
port. Armed also with a forged seal of the Archbishop of Kiev 
as well as with another genuine one of the metropohtan of 
Lvov or Lemberg which he found in the church archives of 
Kiev, he now crossed the frontier and passed himself off 
as an archpriest in partihus, — an easy thing to do, as there 
were many such nomads in Podoha and Gahcia, men who 
without belonging to any particular see undertook the task of 
ministering to the Uniats of Poland. He also bore with him 


an apocryphal letter purporting to be from the hand of the 
archbishop of Kiev and to represent the clergy of the Ukraine. 
This complained of a recent act of the Moscow Synod which 
deprived the metropoUtan of Kiev of his old grade and dig- 
nity, and besought the metropoUtan of Jassy to confer on 
Epiphanius episcopal orders. To this letter was attached the 
supposititious seal he had cut out. As it was necessary by 
canon law for a candidate for episcopal ordination to bear a 
letter from the faithful of the see he was to occupy, Epiphanius 
had forged one from the inhabitants of the city of Chigirin in 
the Ukraine. The metropoUtan of Jassy fell into the trap and 
ordained him July 22, 1724. Instead, however, of repairing 
to his see Epiphanius betook himself to other parts of the 
Ukraine, where at the request of the Raskolniks he ordained 
for them fourteen priests and several deacons. But he did not 
long enjoy episcopal freedom, for the Russian Government 
pounced on him, and the Senate sentenced him May 6, 1727, 
at the end of Catharine's reign to seclusion for Ufe in the 
Solo vets Convent. Thence he escaped after nearly three 
years (in 1729) in the disguise of a pilgrim, but was twice 
rearrested and was sent to Moscow in November 1731. There 
he foregathered with the Old beUevers who offered to smuggle 
him across the frontier to their settlement at Vetka in Poland. 
This was in 1733. He had been previously condemned first 
to seclusion in Solovets as a monk, and then later on to be 
unfrocked and sent to Siberia. 

Ivanovski contends that he had scant regard for the sect, 
and knew that he was betraying the orthodox church, yet 
yielded to their importunities because he yearned for rest and 
freedom in Poland. The doubts, however, which he casts aU 
through on the genuineness of Epiphanius' transactions con- 
tradict one another no less than they do the general situation, 
as he depicts it. Why, if Epiphanius was a convinced adherent 
of the Orthodox Church, should he have wanted to put himself 
out of reach of the Russian Government? Ivanovski's arriere 
pensee is evident. He can not admit that any genuinely 
ordained bishop ever sided with the Raskol. Why again 
should the sectaries have rescued him from the Government 


convoy charged to transport him to Yaroslav and Vologda? 
Yet they did so, and got him safely to Vetka. 

There it was established to the satisfaction of the Popovets 
community that his orders were genuine, though some reserves 
were made as to his baptism, which was reported to have 
been performed, not by immersion which alone they regarded 
as canonical, but by aspersion. Ivanovski relates that they 
were reassured when they learned that as a small boy he had 
been ducked in play by his companions. The apocryphal 
character of this part of Ivanovski's narrative is evidenced by 
the fact that this incident is derived from the life of St. Athana- 

In August 1734 Epiphanius was accordingly installed as their 
bishop by the Old beUevers of Vetka, though he was not recog- 
nized by all the Russian congregations; for example that of 
Kerzhen repudiated him, and accused that of Vetka with being 
victims of a phantasy offensive to heaven and Uttle conducive 
to salvation. 

The new bishop did not enjoy at Vetka the peace and calm 
he longed for. He so openly displayed his contempt for the 
Raskol, was so little disposed to comply with their rules and 
grew so weary of their long-drawn-out ceremonies and strict 
fasts as to make himself unpopular; and their distaste for him, 
already excited by the doubt about his baptism, was changed 
to dismay by the discovery of a letter written by him to his 
relatives in Kiev, in which he accused his new congregation of 
having deceived and kidnapped him into their 'cave of heresy.' 

Epiphanius then discharged his episcopal functions for no 
more than eight months, until April, 1735, when the Tsarina 
Anna loannovna, profiting by the weakness of Poland and the 
disturbances that arose over the election of a new king to suc- 
ceed Augustus II, ordered her general Sytin to make a descent 
on Vetka and drive the Old behevers who had fled thither, 
back to their homes. Epiphanius was hunted back along with 
the rest and jailed in Kiev; but shortly afterwards fell ill and 
died, in conmiunion, according to Macarius and Ivanovski, 
with the Orthodox Church. The Old behevers, however, who 
were surely in a position to know the facts, had another story 


and declared that he died a martyr by the violence of the 
Government, and in communion with themselves. That is 
the more probable account. His tomb in the fortress church of 
S. Theodosius at Kiev became a resort of Old-beheving pil- 
grims, and many were called after his name. The clergy 
ordained by him never entertained any doubts as to the vaUdity 
of their orders. The last pope consecrated by him died in 
1790, when there was still at Starodub a church dedicated to 
him. Such was the history of the first Raskol bishop; and 
in spite of the jaundiced character of Macarius' and Ivanovski's 
narrative, we discern the fact that he was a success. 

The Uniat Movement 

Ivanovski relates with the same parti pris the fortunes of 
four other bishops obtained from one quarter or another by 
the Popovtsy during the XVIIIth Century. These need not 
delay us, and we come to the effort made by one Nicodemus, a 
monk of Starodub, to make good the want by sunmioning a 
council of Old behevers at Moscow in 1765. It was chiefly 
remarkable because both sects were represented at it, a proof 
that they had not then drifted so far apart, as they have to-day. 
It was resolved to discuss whether they could, compatibly 
with the ancient canons of the Church, appoint a bishop de suo, 
in other words by presbyteral appointment only. It is still 
a burning question to-day whether in sundry ancient churches 
the episcopate had any other origin, but of these deeper prob- 
lems of church history the Raskol knew Uttle, and no one 
apparently questioned the doctrine of apostoUcal succession. 
,One of them, according to Ivanovski, had found a story in an 
old chronicle to the effect that Clement, a metropohtan of 
Kiev, had been created such behind the back of the Greek 
patriarch by use of a holy relic, to wit the head of St. Clement 
of Rome, — a mode of ordination to which apparently the 
orthodox historian has no objection provided it is a chapter 
of bishops who make such use of a reUc. His only criticism 
of the Old behever's project is that laymen, not bishops, were 
to work the miracle. As they had no head of St. Clement, 
it was proposed to use the hand of St. Jona, a much venerated 


relic in the Uspenski Church. The idea of laying the dead 
hand of a saint on the head of a hving man for purposes of 
ordination was a familiar one in the Middle Ages, and the 
Armenians were accused of making similar use of the dead 
hand of Gregory the Illuminator which is among the relics 
of the patriarchal church at Valarshapat. In 1765, however, 
the project fell through for the excellent reason that in order 
to have true ordination there must be an intention to ordain 
on the part of the priest who lays on his hand. Of every sacra- 
mental act such intention forms a part. Now who was to 
guarantee such an intention on the part of the defunct saint? 
Who moreover was to recite the pontifical prayers? Should 
it be a Popovets or a Bezpopovets? A fugitive pope out of the 
Orthodox Church or a Pomorski elder? Surely too the dog- 
matic complexion of the new bishop would alter according as 
one or the other officiated? We learn from Ivanovski, per- 
haps rightly, that the two parties in the Council parted on 
terms less friendly than those on which they met, and he 
unkindly suggests that the project was a sacrilegious one. 

But Nicodemus was not discouraged, and began to cast 
about for a patriarch who would appoint him a bishop. He 
seemed for a Uttle time to have discovered one in the patriarch 
of Georgia, Athanasius, who was staying in Moscow at the 
time. By his advice Nicodemus set out for Tiflis, but by 
reason of a war that was raging failed to reach his goal. Better 
luck attended an appUcation to the patriarch of Antioch, 
Daniel, who no doubt was not disinclined to receive ordination 
fees even from Russian Old believers. Anyhow he turned 
Joasaph, one of the monks of Starodub, into a archimandrite, 
and another of them, Raphael, into a bishop ; but, as bad luck 
would have it, the latter died on his way home, so that both 
the Russian Government and the Raskol were cheated out of 
him. Joasaph on reaching Starodub had the mortification of 
finding that Nicodemus was intent on asking the Orthodox 
Russian Synod to appoint a bishop for his adherents, and this 
movement ultimately led to the formation of a body of Uniat 
Old believers. 

An Uniat is one who conditionally enters into communion 


with a Church which he esteems to be orthodox, retaining his 
own rites and traditions. The Uniat Ruthenes for example 
used the CyrilHc rites which are those of the Russian and 
South Slav Churches, but recognized the Bishop of Rome's 
jurisdiction in matters of faith and dogma. The Uniats we 
are now to consider were Old believers, and were allowed the 
continued use of the old service-books, of the two-fingered 
blessing and other pecuharities they set store by, on condition 
they went back into communion with the Orthodox Church. 
Macarius and Ivanovski, as is natural, relate the fortunes of 
this movement at greater length than its results warrant, 
because from their standpoint it was an act of resipiscence on 
the part of the Raskol. 

In 1781 Nicodemus, who had sent Raphael and Joasaph to 
Antioch, found himself on the estate of a Count or Graf 
Rumyantsev, then viceroy or, as we should say, lord-lieutenant 
of Little Russia. The latter, aware of the scruples he enter- 
tained respecting the ministry of runaway popes and his 
anxiety to obtain a bishop for his communion, advised him to 
apply for one to the Russian Government and promised to 
interest the Empress in his behalf. Nicodemus mooted the 
project in his own sect of the Diakonovski (p. 102) which 
admitted orthodox priests to minister for them without insist- 
ing on their being anointed afresh as did other Popovets groups. 
Just then a certain monk Gerasim Knyazev, who was in his 
confidence, was starting for Petersburg, and he undertook to 
sound the Holy Synod there about the matter. On his way, 
being still in Moscow, Gerasim called on the venerable bishop 
Plato, and, when he reached Petersburg, on Gabriel the metro- 
politan and Innocent archbishop of Pskov, and on Prince 
Potemkin-Tavricheski, who all three favom-ed the scheme. 
Not so however Nicodemus' co-reUgionists at Starodub, for 
when he returned thither a considerable party of them were 
inclined to stone him. But Nicodemus persevered, and wrote 
to Gabriel and to Prince Potemkin, and Graf Rumyantzev- 
Zadunaiski, whom he had come to know, for their advice. 
They answered him sympathetically, and Nicodemus in 1782 
went to the Capital where Potemkin presented him to the 


broadminded Empress Catharine II, who, touched by his 
appeal, promised her aid. The result was that in 1783 as 
many as three thousand ^ Old beUevers drew up a petition for 
reunion and sent it with Potemkin's and Rumyantsev's recom- 
mendations to the Synod, while Nicodemus was advised to 
return to Petersburg to plead his case in person. 

The conditions proposed by him were three: that the Ortho- 
dox Church should withdraw the anathemas pronounced in 
1666-7 against Old behevers, that the latter should be allowed 
to conduct their services from the old books, and that the 
Holy Synod should appoint a bishop or a chorepiscopus and 
send him to Nicodemus' monastery, the Uspenski at Starodub, 
to regulate their clergy all over Russia, to consecrate churches, 
and ordain pastors; the said bishop was to be under the control 
of the Synod, but the Raskolniki were everywhere to retain 
their ancient service books and rites. 

Nicodemus' expectations were not destined to be reaUzed in 
their entirety. It was objected that the canons of the Russian 
as of any other Church, forbade the presence of more than one 
bishop in a diocese; it was also argued that the institution of 
Chorepiscopi had died out, and that a bishop presiding over 
the Raskol all over Russia would be equivalent to a patriarch. 
Peter the great had done away with Patriarchs. Potemkin 
himself after encouraging Nicodemus to make the demand, no 
longer urged it when the latter reached Petersburg at the end of 
1783; and finally an ukase of March 11, 1784, addressed to 
Gabriel, merely contained a license for the archbishop of 
Mohilev to allow the Old believers the priests they desired, but 
was silent about the grant of a bishop. Nicodemus however 
professed himself satisfied, and went back to Starodub, where he 
died on May 12, 1784, in communion, according to Ivanovski, 
with the Orthodox church. 

Four of his adherents now journeyed to Petersburg to ask 
Gabriel to consecrate Joasaph, one of themselves, and, as we 
have seen an archimandrite, abbot of the Uspenski convent at 
Starodub; but a year elapsed before so moderate a demand was 
granted, and the favour was coupled with a requirement that 

^ Ace. to Palmieri, Chiesa Rxtssa, p. 452, only one thousand. 


the villages of Old believers round Starodub should be trans- 
ferred to Potemkin's property in Novorossia. The truth 
was, this grand seigneur was trying to exploit the Old believers 
in his own interest, and, though they would not fall in with his 
schemes, he did induce Joasaph to become prior of a monastery 
he had built in the new locahty, so leaving the Uniats of 
Starodub without a clergy. If one bears in mind the fact that 
Russian proprietors reckoned their wealth not by the number 
of their acres, but of their serfs, one understands the anxiety 
of Potemkin to acquire such valuable colonists for his new 

The Starodub uniats made a despairing appeal to Gabriel 
to influence Ambrose to ordain them a priest, but he was 
afraid of Potemkin and presently sent them one named Andrew 
loannov Zhuravlev, a missionary appointed by the Orthodox 
Authorities to convert the Raskol and a frank enemy of every- 
thing connected with them. A renegade himself, ''he knew 
from experience how most successfully to influence the hearts 
of Raskolniki." 

Nevertheless he was well received when he first arrived in 
1788 ; but he immediately set himself with the help of the armed 
forces of the Government to oust the majority of the Old believ- 
ers of Starodub, who had not fallen in with Nicodemus' Uniat 
movement, from their churches and other buildings, in particu- 
lar from their Pokrovski Church and monastery. The Old 
beUevers, in a work entitled the Synaxary, i.e. the Church 
hagiography embeUished with records of their own saints who 
had suffered for the truth as they understood it and answering 
to Foxe's Book of Martyrs, described the violence, robbery 
and martyrdom to which they were subjected by this "uniat" 
apostle. In the end, it is pleasing to relate, he was worsted, 
though he is said to have converted some of Nicodemus' 
adherents to the ministration of orthodox popes. 

Nor was it in Starodub alone that a handful of the Raskol- 
niks entered into the Uniat movement, merely to find that the 
Government took advantage of it to fijc a noose round their 
necks to be drawn tight on the first occasion. In Irgiz also 
the monk Serge, Abbot of the upper Preobrazhenski monastery, 


took up the idea, influenced it is said by the scandalous Hfe of 
the renegade clergy on whom his sect depended for the adminis- 
tration of the Sacraments, though it is difficult to conceive, 
in view of what one knows of Russia in that age, how they could 
differ for the worse from the orthodox clergy. He took council 
with Nicephorus Theotoki, bishop of Astrakhan, who at his 
instance addressed in 1786 an epistle to the Raskol, conceived 
in a spirit of charity. Serge thereupon drew up fifteen ques- 
tions relating to the differences which kept the sect separate 
from the Orthodox Church, and embodying the conditions upon 
which they would make their peace with it. He then pro- 
ceeded to call together a number of the heads of Irgiz, and 
Raskol monasteries in Moscow and Petersburg and read his 
document to them. They approved and in 1790 it was for- 
warded to Nicephorus for him to lay it before the Governor of 
Saratov whose rule extended over Astrakhan. Serge received 
an answer in due time and, having converted a rich merchant of 
Volsk of the name of Zlobin to his point of view, set about to 
reaUze his scheme. But the merchant had not consulted his 
own wife Pelagia who was a stubborn Raskolnik, and who, 
having acquainted herself with what was afoot, set herself 
to frustrate what she regarded as an act of treachery with the 
aid of Serge's own sister Alexandra, prioress of a Raskol nun- 
nery and as resolute as herself. The plan was to arrest Serge 
and hold him prisoner or even slay him, but he made good his 
escape to Petersburg before the two ladies could execute it. 
Zlobin also reached the Capital, and the two having gained the 
ear of Gabriel, by his advice petitioned the Holy Synod to send 
priests of their own to Irgiz ; and Serge was himself allowed 
to select two from the Tikhvin monastery. But the two 
encountered no friendly reception; Serge, who on his return 
to Irgiz took up his quarters in the Uspenski monastery in the 
room assigned to the Abbot, was all but suffocated by the 
Cellarius and two other monks. They set upon him by night 
and locked him up in the larder, whence he was only rescued by 
the local pohce of Volsk, warned by his nephew of his grave 
pUght. The brethren appointed another Abbot, Prokhorus, 
in his place, and Serge despairing of Irgiz retired with his 


nephew and some of his kindred to a Starodub village where 
Nicodemus had a monastery at his disposal. Of this he was 
made hieromonachus, and having frankly joined the Orthodox 
Church avenged himself on his former co-religionists in a book 
entitled ''A Mirror for Old Believers." His confederate 
Zlobin, after a feeble attempt to convert the village of Volsk, 
where he lived, to the Uniat faith, died, according to Ivanovski, 
a sincere believer in the same, though he had wavered much in 
his opinions. Orthodox historians, it will be noticed, rope in 
on their death-beds all Old believers who ever made even the 
least rapprochement towards orthodoxy. In the Nizhegorod 
the Bishop Paul in 1797 represented to the Synod that they 
ought to send priests to the Raskolniks of his see, of whom 
according to him there were a thousand in favour of reunion; 
the Tsar Paul I accordingly issued an Ukase allowing priests to 
be sent in such cases without an appeal being on every occasion 
addressed to him. We realize from the necessity of such an 
ukase how thoroughly the Orthodox Church was subordinated 
to the State. It was a mere department of it. 

About the same time a number of the Old believers of Kazan 
asked for orthodox priests; and the archbishop, Ambrose, 
prevailed on the Synod to allow him to place at their disposal 
the church of the Four EvangeUsts on lake Kaban along with 
a priest named Andreev. 

In Petersburg in 1799 an Oldbehever Ivan Mylov found it 
expedient on being ennobled to desert so plebeian a cult as 
that of the Raskol; he had a private chapel, which he enlarged 
and had it consecrated to St. Nicholas. Whereupon the Tsar 
Paul I paid him the compUment of hearing mass said in it. 

The Concessions of Paul I 

About this time the Tsar sanctioned a code of rules for such 
Popovtsi as could be persuaded by force, fraud or personal 
and spiritual advantages to join the Orthodox Church. The 
occasion was a request made in 1799 by the Old believers of 
Moscow that the Church would supply them with Priests 
and Holy Chrism. It was addressed to Plato the Metropoli- 
tan, who refused on the suspicion that they were not sincere. 


They then appUed to Ambrose, archbishop of Kazan, where- 
upon the Tsar put an end to these negotiations. The would-be 
Uniats however did not acquiesce in the refusal, and formu- 
lated sixteen conditions under which they would renew com- 
munion, which after examination by Plato were sanctioned by 
the Tsar Paul I, Oct. 27, 1800. Of these conditions, some old, 
some new, the chief were the remission of the anathemas of 
1666-7 and permission to use the old books. The priests to 
be accorded to the Raskol were to be of the Orthodox rite or 
expressly ordained for the purpose; but in no case were they 
to be fugitives from the Church. Such of the Raskol as had 
taken monkish orders were to be accepted as monks, and chrism 
was to be provided by the bishop of each see in which it was 

Under these conditions the Uniats were to retain their own 
ecclesiastical establishments, but for the consecration of new 
churches Uniat priests were to be employed. In case an ortho- 
dox pope officiated in an Uniat church he was to use the old 
books; nay even prelates were to do hkewise. They were 
also to cross with the two fingers. On the other hand Uniat 
clergy were forbidden to take part in pubUc services or pro- 
cessions, and were only to officiate inside their own churches. 
If an Old behever desired it, an orthodox priest was free to 
confess and communicate him, but not vice versa. Plato was 
willing that an Uniat priest should administer the last Sacra- 
ments to members of the Orthodox Church, but only if no 
orthodox pope was at hand. So much anxiety was felt on the 
point that every precaution was taken to prevent any leakage 
from the orthodox into the Uniat camp. All these privileges 
however, were of narrow range, for they were confined either 
to the registered Raskol, who as we have seen tended to be a 
small majority, or if to others than them, only to those who 
possessed the warranty of an orthodox prelate that they had 
never tried to pass themselves off as orthodox. A mixed mar- 
riage might be held in whichever church the parties could 
agree upon, and children of the marriage baptized in accord- 
ance with a similar agreement. The demand of the Raskol- 
niks that the Uniats should receive the Sacraments of the 


orthodox and vice versa with complete reciprocity was rejected 
sans phrase. 

The above provisions were Uberal if we consider the age and 
time in which they were drawn up; and if Nikon had been 
less intransigent and had granted them 140 years earlier, 
schism would have been avoided. All the same, as Ivanovski 
allows, many Uniats were not satisfied with such concessions, 
for they wanted permission for the orthodox to join them- 
selves and they also wanted a bishop of their own. These 
concessions the Church would not make, although it was ready 
to facihtate in any way the transference to the Uniat body of 
unregistered Raskolniks; and at the instance of the Bishop 
of Perm it was arranged that Raskolniks of ten years' standing 
might join the Uniats. In 1881 the Holy Synod reduced this 
term to five years, and at the same time it was conceded that 
an Uniat priest might hear confessions from orthodox laymen 
and administer the Sacraments to them on condition the 
orthodox priest of the parish was informed of the same in 
writing. In the same year the Greek Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople gave a faculty to the clergy under his jurisdiction to use 
pre-Nikonian rites. This concession was made chiefly in 
view of a colony of Old beUevers who had long before settled 
at Maenos on the Bosphorus. At the same time a priest was 
ordained in Moscow for this congregation. 

The Persecution of the Raskol by Nicholas I 

The Uniat concessions made by Paul I might conceivably 
have borne fruit in the XlXth Century except for the incom- 
prehensible ferocity of the attempts made under Nicholas I 
to force orthodoxy upon the Raskol at large.^ These attempts 
began in 1827 with a threat on the part of Prince GoUtsyn, 
Governor of Saratov, to break up the monastery of Nizhni- 
Voskresenski, unless they became Uniats. He went in person 
among the monks and read them an imperial ukase to the 
effect that all the monasteries of Irgiz should be destroyed in 
the event of their non-compUance. The next day the prior 
Adrian and a dozen of the brethren submitted to the bishop 

^ Sokolov, Raskol in Saratov, p. 297. 


of Saratov, Moses ; by their craven action they so incensed the 
rest of the settlement that the pohce had to be called in to 
protect them, and the recalcitrants having been either pressed 
for the army or sent to Siberia, the fabric was handed over to 
the servile minority. Such was the fate of this one convent. 
The others remained defiant, and enjoyed a certain respite 
from Nicholas' fury, for the two successors of GoUtsyn in the 
Governments of Saratov, Roslavlev and Pereverzev, to their 
credit, did their best to protect them. 

But the calm did not last long. In 1836 a certain Stepanov, 
was made Governor of Saratov; and in appointing him the 
Tsar remarked ^ on the abundance of sectaries in that region 
and especially in the monasteries of Irgiz. Stepanov prom- 
ised he would reduce them to a single denomination. The Tsar 
assented, but deprecated violence. "Proceed warily," he said, 
"and do not exasperate them." Stepanov determined to 
begin with the Middle-Nikolski convent which was at the vil- 
lage of Mechetnoe within the pale of the newly constituted 
town of Nikolaev; and advised the Minister of the Interior 
that the task was a feasible one. The monks, if they would 
become Uniats, were to retain the premises, but their house 
was to pass under the control of the archimandrite Zosimus, 
prior of the Kostroma Vysokovski Uniat Monastery; and it 
was resolved by the Governor with the connivance of Jacob, 
bishop of Saratov, to execute the measure by surprise and by 
way of a coup de main. Accordingly, the provost of Nikolaev 
and the Commissioner of Saratov suddenly presented them- 
selves on February 8 before Cornelius the Abbot, shewed him 
the imperial edict and demanded the keys and property of the 
house. Cornehus refused, unless the surrounding population 
assented, and, as the secret had been badly kept, some three 
hundred of the latter had gathered round and shouted: "We 
will not give up the Monastery, no matter how much you shed 
our blood." ^ 

' Russkaya Starina, 1879, I. 552. 

^ I was once the witness of a very similar scene at Valarsliapat, when a detach- 
ment of cavalry took possession of the Armenian convent in order to carry off 
two harmless and aged monks, suspected by the Russian Government of favouring 
the election as Armenian Patriarch of Monsignor Ormanian, Armenian Patriarch 


Cornelius made no attempt to resist, but took the keys of his 
house and laid them on the table, whereupon Zosimus took 
them up and went towards the church to unlock it; but a 
crowd had collected in the porch and barred his way, wMle 
others sounded an alarm on the big bell, crying: " Help, Help ! " 
Zosimus was not authorized to resort to force, so he retired 
with his officers to the town and wrote a minute of the affair to 
his superiors. 

In February a large posse of officials, with gendarmes to assist 
them, repaired afresh to the monastery, and found a crowd of 
some 500 gathered inside the precincts, ringing the bells to 
attract their fellows outside, and once more the officials retired 
after making a few arrests. Information was conveyed to 
Saratov, and now the Governor himself appeared on the scene, 
only to find some 2,000 sectaries mustered inside the convent, 
who fell on their knees in a circle round the church, clasping 
each others hands and vowing that it should only be entered, 
if at all, across their dead bodies. Thereupon the Governor 
returned to Saratov and wrote to the ministry accusing the 
poor people of sedition and riot. 

The inevitable in Russia, then ensued. The Governor 
appeared once more with a force of Cossacks and artillery. 
A nmiour was set abroad that the Raskolniks intended to 
burn down the monastery, so a fire engine was brought on the 
scene, and streams of water pumped over them as they lay on 
the ground, with clasped hands. It was a glacial day, and 
presently, unable to stand the cold water, they proceeded to 
flee inside the buildings. In the melee which followed the 
soldiers beat them with the butt ends of their muskets and 
arrested many of them, after which the monastery was handed 
over to Zosimus. At the same time the women's convent of 
Uspenski was closed, and such of its inmates as were registered 
obliged to migrate to the Pokrovski convent in Upper Irgiz, 
the rest being sent to their homes. But not a single monk 
or nun turned Uniat. All of them were scattered far and wide, 

of Constantinople. It was a time of interregnum, when the old Patriarch was 
dead and the time drawing near for the election of a new one by all the Armenian 
congregations of the entire world. The Russian Government dreaded the election 
of a Turkish prelate, and had a creature of their own for the post. 


some to the Ural, others to the Don, many to the deserts of 
Siberia, where they spread the tale which enhanced the propa- 
ganda of their sect. Nor did Stepanov gain anything by it, 
for, as is usual with despotisms, the sins of the system were 
atoned for by the unsuccessful instrument. He was cashiered 
and one Bibikov sent to take his place, but not without a 
direct admonition on the part of Nicholas I on no account to 
lose sight of any opportunity that might offer itself of annihi- 
lating the Spasopreobrazhenski Monastery of the Raskolniks. 

In 1841 its conversion to the Uniat body was actually ef- 
fected under the new Governor Thadeev. A sudden descent was 
inade on the place, and bursting into the church, the authorities 
with the Uniat clergy in their train sprayed it with their own 
holy water. The monks were ordered to join the Uniats or quit 
the place, and all but two quitted it. The monk Trifilius, a 
creature of the Bishop of Saratov, was then made Abbot. 
With the same secrecy, suddenness and violence the Pokrovski 
nunnery was assigned to the Uniats, but not a single nun 

Such measures in Irgjz contributed enormously to the spread 
of the Raskol, and they were related in verse all over Russia. 
They revealed what Tsardom was capable of. 

I have outlined from Macarius' and Ivanovski's pages the 
Uniat movement initiated at Starodub by Nicodemus. We are 
not surprised to learn from the same author that after his death 
it made no way, and that the true Raskol waxed stronger and 
stronger under Alexander I. The Tsar Nicholas Pavlovich 
on his way to the Crimea in 1847, halted at a Starodub village 
named Dobryank, whose inhabitants proffered him the usual 
bread and salt of old-world hospitality. He decUned it harshly 
and addressed the village deputies as follows: "I regret deeply 
to see you all in error; whenever you make up your minds to go 
to church, I will accept your bread, and will myself build you a 
church." And to suit the words a Uniat Church was instantly 
built and consecrated in the presence of the commandant of 
Starodub ; and a Uniat priest named Timothy Verkhovski was 
sent thither from Petersburg. On his way back the Tsar find- 
ing the church built accepted bread and salt. 


In Moscow also under Nicholas an attempt was made to 
implant the Uniat faith in the Raskol centres of the Popovtsy 
and Bezpopovtsy (Thedosievtsy) sects, known respectively as 
the Rogozhski and Preobrazhenski cemeteries.^ In the former 
one Vladimir Andreevich Sapelkin acquired some influence, 
and according to Ivanovski he neither shared the doubts still 
entertained by many of the Popovtsy of the vaUdity of ortho- 
dox orders nor tolerated the ordination by the stray bishop 
they had procured of peasants and tradesmen who had no 
learning or sense of vocation. In 1854 accordingly he ad- 
dressed himself to Philaret the metropoUtan with a view to the 
reconsecration of one of the oratories of his sect as a church, 
and this was effected much to the indignation and surprise of 
the faithful who in the course of the vigil of the eve of the 
ceremony surrounded his house crying: "Let us burn down 
Sapelnik's house!", a demonstration of hatred which the 
latter's faith in God and the Russian pohce combined quahfied 
him to bear with equanimity, and the entire convent was 
handed over to the Uniats. In 1856 the old rites were resumed, 
priests being provided of Austrian ordination. This led to the 
closing of the Popovets Church and the altars remained sealed 
until May 3, 1883. In 1854 the priestless cemetery of Preo- 
brazhen, which Haxthausen visited ten years before and has 
described, was similarly invaded with the magnificent result 
that sixty-four persons became Uniats. One chapel was then 
consecrated by the metropoUtan, and another in 1857. In 
1866 an Uniat Monastery for men was established under the 
archimandrite Paul of Prussia and the Ubrary of the merchant 

^ The right to possess these cemeteries and to construct in them hospitals and 
chapels and monastic buildings was conceded by Catherine in 1771, and as Leroy- 
Beaulieu remarks (iii. 405), they remind us of the Roman cemeteries of the early 
Christians. They were and are vast compounds in the suburbs surrounded by 
walls; round them were grouped the houses and workshops of the two sets of 
sectaries; inside them were their chief bureaux for the management of their 
affairs all over the Empire. Each establishment had its directors, its treasury, 
its own regulations, its charter, its seal. Each, as the same author says, was 
at once a convent, a seminary, a sort of chamber of commerce and a bourse. 
Nicholas I. suppressed the one and the other; the altars in the Rogozhski were 
still sealed when Leroy-Beaulieu visited Moscow and only released on the occa- 
sion of the temporary fall from power of Count D. Tolstoi, procm-ator of the 
Holy Synod. 


Alexis Ivan Khludovo deposited therein. Paul had come to 
Russia in 1847 and had written many books about the Raskol. 

In 1848 a skete of the Popovtsy had long been sealed and 
sequestrated by the Government in the province of Semenov 
in the Nizhegorod Government. Tarasius, formerly prior, 
tired it would seem of the nomadic Ufe inflicted on him, had 
promised the local bishop to become a Uniat, if he might be 
readmitted with his monks, of whom a certain number shared 
in his submission. It would seem as if the pohcy of the Russian 
Government all through was that of which Pobedonostsev 
under Alexander III secured the ratification by law, namely 
that if any member of any family, man, woman or child, any- 
where in the Russian dominions, joined the Orthodox Church, 
the entire family should be regarded officially as such. One 
can conceive of the hatred for the Church engendered by such 
legislation. It is obvious that the Popovtsy recognition of the 
validity of the orders of fugitive priests who came over to 
them from the Orthodox Church furnished the latter with a 
certain pretext for its use against them. The Bezpopovtsy 
held a more logical position and one less assailable by a perse- 
cuting Government such as until yesterday was Holy Russia. 

Beside the few centres in which the origin and fortunes of 
the Uniat Movement have been detailed, it was pushed far 
and wide over the whole country between 1825 and 1854, as 
many as one hundred and fifty Uniat Churches being built in 
that period, largely in consequence of the zeal and energy for 
the cause of Jacob, Bishop of Saratov, and Arcadius, Bishop 
of Perm. Yet the historian Ivanovski seems dubious of the 
ultimate success of the movement. Many of the Uniats, he 
states, having obtained a clergy and permission to keep up the 
old rites, set themselves to emphasize their pecuUar status 
and their independence of the Orthodox Church. They took 
no pains to conceal their leanings towards the Raskol, and were 
careful to convey to their neighbours the impression that they 
were genuine Raskolniki. Here and there they even refused 
to accept the popes sent them by the Synod without first 
subjecting them to ''correction or amendment"; they did so, 
for example, in the village of Krivolych (in the Nikolaev region 


of the Saratov Government). Occasionally they refused to 
allow an orthodox bishop to officiate in their churches. In the 
Kostroma Government many professed themselves Uniats, 
yet remained Raskol, and subjected the popes sent to minister 
to them to every sort of oppression, indignity and servitude. 
Others continued to clamour for a bishop of their own, for 
free permission to be given to the orthodox to join them and 
for the annulHng of the anathemas of 1667. A leading Uniat 
agitator of this kind was the priest, Joan Verkhovski of Peters- 
burg, who as late as 1885 was on that account unfrocked by 
the Synod and found it consonant with his personal safety 
to retire across the frontier to the Raskol abroad. 

Palmieri (Chiesa Russa, 1908, p. 456), whose opinion carries 
weight, is equally convinced that the Uniat movement or 
edinovierie, as it is called, has no futm-e before it. In spite of the 
mild flattery of the Synod, he declares it to be a hybrid organ- 
ism in Orthodox Russia. "Its separatist tendencies, inherited 
from the Raskol, are accentuated every day: it would form 
alongside of the official Church modernized, a second official 
Church on ancient fines." He reviews the Uniat attempts 
to secure a hierarchy, so nearly successful under Alexander I 
in 1824; and he gives an accoimt of the debate held in the 
Holy Synod in 1864, when some members shewed themselves 
favourable to the institution of an Uniat bishop; Plato, how- 
ever, the bishop of Kostroma, insisted that it would diminish 
the prestige of the Orthodox Church, violate ecclesiastical 
canons by placing two bishops in one eparchial jurisdiction, 
confuse parish and administrative records, alienate Raskolniks 
still more completely from Orthodoxy, lower the episcopal 
dignity, and encourage the founding of an independent Church. 
Other bishops feared it would pave the way to a fresh schism 
and strengthen the Raskol argument that the Church is infected 
with error. It appears, however, that in spite of these argu- 
ments ten bishops against twelve upheld the Uniat plea, as the 
only method of strengthening the Uniats in their struggle with 
the Raskol hierarchy. In general, says Palmieri, the Uniats 
are viewed with contempt by the Orthodox, with hatred by the 
Raskol. It is a half-way house that disgusts both, and most 


Raskolniks would prefer to go straight back into the Church. 
What the influence of the present revolution will be, in case it 
permanently succeed, we must wait to see. The immediate 
result wall be that the Raskol everywhere will enjoy the same 
privileges as the Orthodox Church, in which case the Uniats 
might well rejoin the Raskol; but as the white or parochial 
clergy will inevitably assert themselves against the monkish 
higher clergy, it is possible that the lines of demarcation 
between Raskol and orthodoxy may be more or less obhter- 
ated and a return be made to the state of things that prevailed 
in the XVth Century when the Popes were the servants of the 

On the other hand Ivanovski notes a tendency among sincere 
Uniats to draw nearer to the Orthodox Church, and he ascribes 
this tendency to the spectacle of bishops officiating in their 
churches and using there the old rites, the two fingers, etc.; 
for such incidents prove to them that the Orthodox Church no 
longer regards them as heretics. In Moscow and Kazan the 
rival clergy have even gone so far as to officiate together at 
the same altar, so proving that they really form a single Church. 
Owing to the complaint of some Uniats that the condenmation 
in 1666-7 of the old rites weighed upon their consciences, the 
Holy Synod in 1886 issued an 'Explanation' to the effect that 
these censures and ancient polemics reflected nothing more 
than the personal opinions of over-zealous writers and ''were 
neither shared nor upheld by the Orthodox Church itself." 
This explanation evinces a laudable regret for its past on the 
part of the Orthodox Church and Synod, and an anxiety not 
to commit such folHes in future as Nikon was allowed to com- 
mit; but historically it is a direct contradiction of the events 
which led to the schism as related by Ivanovski himself. 
In 1890 the Uniats appealed afresh to Government to be 
granted their own hierarchy, but Pobedonostsev opposed the 
scheme, although in 1905 some of the members of the Synod 
favoured the institution of a Uniat see at Uralsk near Orenburg 
where 55% of the population were Raskolniks. This was after 
the proclamation of hberty of conscience, which encouraged 
the Uniats to renew tiieir demand for a bishop of their own. 


Late in the same year they founded a journal for the defence 
of their interests. 

The Uniat movement was due to the widespread desire of 
the Popovtsy to secure a hierarchy of their own. It is now 
time to narrate a less equivocal endeavour towards the same 
end, which was crowned with comparative success. 

The Austrian Hierarchy 

It is worthy of remark that the Empress Catharine was more 
tolerant in spirit towards the Raskol than any of the Tsars, 
except perhaps Alexander I, no steps being taken in their reigns 
to cut off the supply of runaway popes upon whom the Popovtsy 
depended for the administration of the Sacraments; this 
enabled them to hold as many services as they hked and to 
spare nothing to make them as elegant and elaborate as those 
of the Orthodox Church. But Nicholas I after his accession, 
in 1827 abruptly cut off the supply both at the Rogozhski Ceme- 
tery in Moscow and elsewhere, subjecting to dire penalties 
popes who quitted the orthodox fold in order to minister to 
heretics. In 1832 all older laws mitigating the fate of the 
Raskol were repealed, and by the new law the Popovtsy could 
only retain popes who had joined them before 1826. 

Those who remained were perpetually dwindling, if we may 
beUeve Ivanovski, and, being able to magnify their office as 
they pleased, shewed much disregard both for the holy rites 
and for their congregations. The latter could not afford to 
dismiss them for private irregularities nor for negUgence in 
their ministrations. One priest would baptize several children 
at once, — a justifiable procedure of old when a St. Gregory 
was converting a whole nation of pagans on the spur of the 
moment, but illegitimate in a Christian age. He would also 
marry several couples in a group and confess the faithful not 
individually and privately but collectively, the deacon reading 
out a list of sins from the Euchologion, while the people cried 
peccavi — a scandalous procedure since it involved the admis- 
sion by women and children of sins consistent with neither 
their sex nor age. Instead of going about in the open the 


dissenting clergy under Nicholas I had to steal hither and 
thither in secret, always in fear, and, says Ivanovski, often 
drunk, — a vice which, if they really had it, was also not 
unknown among the orthodox clergy and monks at that time 
as attests the proverb popular with the muzhik: "The pope 
is drunk and his cross a bit of wood"! 

It was in vain that the Popovtsy of the Rogozh Conmiunion 
agitated for a retm-n to the tolerant law of March, 1822, which 
had outraged the Holy Synod by allowing the Raskol openly 
to employ runaway popes, in case the latter before joining 
them had committed no criminal offence. Meanwhile the 
old dreams of a genuine clergy somewhere surviving in the 
East revived; and Herachus, prior of the Kurenev monastery 
in the Podolski government, dispatched several of his own 
monks to join in a search for a hierarchy with the Old beUevers 
of Moldavia. Sixteen in all started and roamed through 
Turkey as far as Egypt. Only foiu- lived to return and they 
had found nothing suitable. 

Next the settlers of Irgiz were induced to go on the same 
quest by one of their persuasion, Athoni Kuzmich Kochuev, 
a man of affluence with a hobby for collecting old books and 
MSS. So much was he esteemed as a bibliophile even outside 
his sect, that he was elected in 1847 a member of the Moscow 
Society of Antiquaries. When the idea was mooted in a 
Synod held in 1832 at the Rogozhski Cemetery (or hospice) 
in Moscow, the merchant Tsarski scouted it; but it had the 
support of the rich family of the Rakhmanovs, and eventually 
it was resolved to consult the Old behevers in Petersburg. 
There the Popovets family of the Gromovs, timber merchants 
on a large scale, members of the Korolevski congregation, had 
influence, and Serge Gromov even consulted on the point 
Count Benkendorf, head of the pohce, who assured him that, 
although the Tsar would never allow of their resumption of 
deserters from the Orthodox ChiKch, he might not object so 
strongly to their setting up a hierarchy of their own. In the 
end Serge Gromov resolved to seek a bishop himself, but said 
nothing about it for the moment, because he distrusted Rakh- 
manov's loquacity. He took steps however to find a man 


suitable for the prosecution of the quest. Such a one he met 
with in Peter Vasilev Vehkodvorski, son of a notary of a 
village among the Valdai Hills, a man of inflexible will and 
untiring energy, qualities which were written in his face, if we 
may judge from a photograph taken of him in old age and 
preserved in Chernovitz. 

It is related that on one occasion St. Nicholas, patron saint 
of this young man, had appeared to him attired in full canoni- 
cals in order to reassure him as to the future of the Popovtsy 
Church of which he was an adherent ; and the tale fits in with 
the report that he was a mystic, an ascetic enthusiast and a 
devout student of hagiology. It is probable that at anytime 
dreams and visions were more in vogue among the Old believers 
than in the bosom of the Orthodox Church, of which the 
leaders had the poHce at their disposal, and were not so much 
in need of spiritual and inner aids to faith and confidence in 
their future. 

Though we may distrust the tale, repeated by Ivanovski, 
of how Peter went a-hunting for a church treasure and failed 
to find it, we may well beheve that he entered as a youth the 
Old behevers' monastery at Starodub, assuming in reUgion 
the name of Paul, that he cherished lofty but correspondingly 
vague aspirations and that he felt an inward assurance that 
Providence had assigned him a lofty mission — he did not 
exactly know what. He was in this state of exaltation when 
Gromov met him in 1835 and launched him on a quest for a 
real bishop. He forthwith chose another enthusiast as his 
fidus Achates, to wit, Gerasimus Kolpakov, in religion Geron- 
tius, of the Serkov convent in Bessarabia, son of a peasant 
near Moscow and more practically minded than himself. 

When the Emperor Justinian closed the schools of Athens, 
certain of the neo-Platonic and pagan philosophers of that 
city set out in search of a purer air and more liberal environ- 
ment for Persia, whence they afterwards returned shocked 
and discouraged by the vices of polygamy and worse which 
were rampant in the dominion of the Great King. Like them 
in 1836 our two seekers after a genuine episcopate turned 
their thoughts and their steps to Persia; but they were not 


destined to reach that ecclesiastical elysium; for, having in- 
curred the suspicion of the authorities, they were arrested in 
the Caucasus and sent back under pohce surveillance, the one 
to the Valdai, the other to Bessarabia. 

But hope springs eternal in the human breast. The summer 
of 1839 saw them re-equipped for their project; they had not 
abandoned as their guiding principle the old motto ex oriente 
lux, but they took care to start this time by way of Austria, 
with the intention of making their way to the Far East along a 
route on which the Russian Government would not be able to 
lay hands on them. In due course they came to the Popovtsy, 
and other Raskol settlements at Bielo (white) Krinits in 
Austria.^ Here their co-rehgionists had enjoyed liberty of 
worship ever since 1783, thanks to the hberal laws of the 
Emperor Joseph II ; and the thought now struck Peter Vasilev 
that it would be safer to establish his episcopate in this home of 
freedom than in Russia. He therefore urged the authorities 
of the Lipovan ^ convent to supphcate the Austrian Govern- 
ment to permit them to appoint a bishop. The local Austrian 
authorities (Kreisamt) consented, but the Government refused, 
possibly because they reaUzed even then that any step taken or 
allowed to be taken in Austria in mitigation of the iron reUgious 
oppression of the Holy Synod would in due time call down 
upon them the wrath of the Tsar Nicholas I and furnish him 
in the future with an additional incentive for wresting GaUcia 
and the Ruthenes from that connection with the Austrian 
Empire with which they were perfectly content. The Ortho- 
dox Church, which till yesterday pulled all strings of govern- 
ment and international pohcy in Russia, would be certain to 
resent it, if the Emperor of Austria allowed a focus and hearth 
of Raskol propaganda to be established on Austrian soil. 
The convent moreover, had only been allowed to exist there 

^ Liprandi: {Short sketch of Raskol, 1853) describes the routes from Russia 
into Austria and Bessarabia taken by Raskolniki in his age and bitterly assails the 
Austrian Government for allowing them horses and guides! This was in the days 
before railways. 

^ This was a general name given by their neighbours to Raskolniki who had 
taken refuge in Transylvania. 


on the assumption that its inmates were of a purely contem- 
plative order. 

But there were those in Vienna who were quite ready to do 
the Holy Synod a nasty turn, among them the Minister of the 
Interior, Count Kolovrat, and the Arch-Duke Ludwig; and 
to them Peter and his companion turned, with the result that, 
after all formaUties had been compUed with, the Emperor 
Ferdinand in 1844 gave permission for a foreign bishop to be 
imported into his dominions by the Raskol and estabUshed 
at Bielo-Krinits, where the monastery was to be under the 
charge of himself and his successors. 

The two emissaries, it will be noticed, had passed several 
years at Bielo-Krinits, during which time Gerontius had been 
elevated to the dignity of Superior of the monastery there, in 
succession to the monk Joel. He now returned to Russia, 
only to find Serge Gromov dead. The latter until now had 
financed the enterprise, but the Rakhmanovs stepped nobly 
into his place and undertook the expense, computed at 200,000 
roubles, of installing the future prelate, if one could be procured, 
in due style and of rebuilding the monastery, for the church of 
which the faithful were already providing ornaments and plate. 

Having as it were built the nest the enthusiastic Peter now 
started afresh for the East in order to find a phoenix bird to fill 
it choosing as his traveUing companion another monk named 
Alimpius. He was minded, if he could not discover a genuine 
Old believer, to be content with a schismatic bishop whose 
orders and ordinances the canon law of the Church allowed him 
to regard as vaUd. For generations there had been, as we saw, 
communities of Old behevers in European Turkey, refugees 
from Russian violence and cruelty, and to these the Raskolnik 
in quest of a bishop naturally first turned his steps. In our 
own generation we have examples of Poles who, to avenge 
wrongs done by the Russian Government to their compatriots 
have taken service under the Turkish Government, Already 
in 1844 there existed at the Porte a Polish section led by a Pan 
or member of the PoUsh nobiUty, by name Tchaykovski, and 
known in Turkish circles as Saduk Pasha. To him the Raskol- 
niki obtaiaed an introduction from the Ataman of the Nekra- 


sovtsy Goncharov/ and found him only too willing to render 
a disservice to the oppressors of his native land. He seems 
even to have had a hst of stray bishops of the Greek rite 
resident in the Turkish capital and in want of employment. 
Peter, however, determined to try further afield before adopt- 
ing one of these, and, filled with high hope, continued his 
quest in the East, where he met with the debris of Nestorians, 
Eutychians and Severians, but with no Old behevers. But he 
was able to satisfy himself that the Greeks shared his own 
meticulous distrust of baptism by aspersion and insisted on 
trine immersion, regarding the former as no baptism at all, 
but only a Roman tradition. Accordingly when he had found 
his way back again to Constantinople, he wrote to his friend 
Gerontius that he could find no suitable candidate in the East, 
but that they could, without violating their consciences, acqui- 
esce in the choice of a Greek. 

Among other candidates his PoHsh friends especially com- 
mended to him one Ambrose, who had formerly been metropoli- 
tan of Serajevo in Bosnia, but whom for poUtical or other 
reasons the Turks had expelled from his see. He was a Greek 
from Enos, a widower, and he was living in Constantinople 
in great poverty. Peter got hold of a dragoman, a Serb, 
Constantine Ognianovich by name, who could talk both 
Greek and Russian, and through him opened negotiations with 
Ambrose, but failed, it would seem, to convince him at first 
of the canonicity and orthodoxy of the Popovtsy communion. 
Ambrose, according to Ivanovski, was dismayed at the pros- 
pect of being constrained, in order to take up his new episco- 
pate, to anathematize an orthodox body of behevers hke the 
Russian Church and himself to submit to the indignity of 
being re-anointed as if he were a schismatic. 

Henri IV found Paris worth a mass, and orthodox scruples 
have too often yielded to cupidity; and this proved to be the 
case when Peter turned from the Bosnian prelate to his son 
George, and dangled before his eyes the prospect of a country 
residence with ease and emolument on Austrian soil. He 

1 Nekrasov was chief of a tribe of Don Cossacks who fled from Russia in the 
days of the Streltsy revolt. The Turkish Popovtsy bore his name. 


yielded and undertook to procure his father's assent to the 
scheme; Ambrose gave way, much against his instincts and 
better judgment, if we are to beUeve Ivanovski. What, accord- 
ing to this authority, most awoke his reUgious scruples, was the 
Raskol use of two fingers in blessing instead of three; however, 
Peter proved to his satisfaction that this usage went back 
behind Nikon; and, his last scruples overcome, Ambrose on 
April 15th, 1846, accepted the position on condition of receiving 
500 ducats a year with a country house for his son George. 
Perhaps the promise that he should appoint his son successor 
and so found a hierarchy flattered the native pride seldom 
absent in modern Greeks, and it is anyhow better to begin even 
a spiritual hneage than to end a carnal one. His happiness 
must have been complete when he was put on board a steam- 
packet en route to Austria. On his way he was exhibited to the 
Old-beUeving congregations settled on the Duna (Danube); 
then resuming his disguise, and successfully avoiding detec- 
tion by Russian agents, he reached Vienna, and was at Bielo- 
Krinits on October 12th, 1846. 

Ivanovski gives a somewhat splenetic account of the cere- 
mony arranged a few days later, October 27th, for the recep- 
tion of Ambrose into the true Church of the Popovtsy. It 
was held in their church of the Theotokos, Gerontius presiding 
with many outward embelhshments and much pomp, but, if 
we can believe Ivanovski, not without internal misgivings on 
the part of the main actors in the scene. The Popovtsi could 
not agree among themselves on the point whether, as was 
usual with runaway popes, Ambrose should be re-anointed 
with the holy myron. Peter had written a book about it, 
but had failed to create unanimity; and finally the discussion 
became so acrimonious that the congregation had to be ad- 
journed, without Ambrose, who knew no word of Russian, 
realizing in the least what the uproar was about. They 
eventually agreed to consult Ambrose himself on the morrow 
about which rite of reception he preferred. Anointers were 
in a majority, but Peter who urged the use of the third rite 
for the reconciliation of schismatics as found in the old Slavonic 
Euchologion, visited Ambrose by night and represented to 


him that in order to quiet the conscience of the weaker brethren 
he should submit to the rite most in vogue. "You mean your 
own conscience, you idiot," was Ambrose's reply. 

Finally the hieromonachus arranged the rite for the follow- 
ing day, and Ambrose who only understood of it such passages 
as his Serbian interpreter translated for him, offered no re- 
sistance, reciting with much eclat — as he stood before the 
royal entrance of the Sanctuary or Bema — the Slav anathemas 
against all heresies which had been written out for the purpose 
in the letters of the Greek alphabet. This much achieved, he 
retired behind the screen into the Sanctuary together with 
Hieronymus, to whom he was to make his confession, a rehgious 
act none the easier of accompUshment because one of them 
knew no Greek and the other no Russian. The monk Onuph- 
rius, who was present, has testified, according to Ivanovski, 
that the entire rite was uncanonical. Presumably he was a 
votary of re-anointing with myron, but was outraged at the 
fact that Hieronymus, having stared for a couple of minutes at 
Ambrose who returned his stare, — this under the rubric of 
confession — anointed him, not with myron, of which they 
had none in stock, but with common oil. Next Hieronymus 
proclaimed that Ambrose was worthy of his new dignity and 
deposed in writing that he had searched the secrets of the 
candidate's heart. Ambrose now issued forth through the 
Royal Gate in full canonicals and, grasping in his hands 
the three and two-branched candlesticks, proceeded to bless 
the people. 

Ambrose was now a Raskol prelate or metropohtan and 
proceeded to celebrate the Uturgy and ordain a clergy of every 
grade, reading the prayers in his own native Greek, the deacon 
making the proclamations in Slavonic. In the following year, 
1847, on January 6th, Ambrose consecrated a bishop for the Old 
behevers settled at Maenos. The canons of course required 
the presence of three bishops at the ceremony, but the Raskol 
justified the irregularity on the score of necessity. This was 
the day of Epiphany when Eastern Churches celebrate the 
Baptism of our Lord by a solenm blessing of the waters. For 
this rite the Popovtsy produced on this occasion two archpriests. 


Ambrose read the gospel, Cyril, the newly consecrated bishop 
of Maenos, the prayers; he had been secretary of the place 
under the lay name of Kiprian Timofeev. The imminence of 
the ceremony had been noised abroad all over the Bukowina 
and the commander of the local forces as well as the civil 
Governor attended, a banquet being given in their honour by 
the monks. 

The Austrian Government was clearly glad of an opportun- 
ity of sticking pins into a Schismatic Church like the Russian 
which had nursed for centuries a sleepless hostiUty to Rome; 
and the dismay and irritation of Petersburg is voiced by Lip- 
randi {Short Sketch of Raskol), who insists that the Popovtsy 
by their connivance with the authorities of Bielo-Krinits in 
erecting an alien hierarchy in Russia had ceased to be a re- 
hgious body and constituted themselves a source of grave 
poHtical danger to the Tsar's Government. Liprandi was an 
inquisitor appointed by Nicholas I and the right hand man of 
Protassov, the hussar officer appointed by that Tsar to keep 
the Holy Synod in order, so it could hardly occur to him that 
a little rehgious toleration was a better and more dignified 
way of exorcising the imaginary menace than to expostulate 
with the Austrian Government. In their self-assumed role 
of protectors of orthodoxy all over the world the Tsars con- 
stantly addressed reprimands then and later to foreign govern- 
ments through their Procurators; for example in December, 
1886, Pobedonostsev assailed Austria for favouring CathoU- 
cism, and Rumania for negotiating a concordat with Rome. 
Turkey, Greece, Servia, Bulgaria, were equally regarded by 
the Tsars as in a way amenable to their religious jurisdiction. 
Meanwhile any foreign criticism of pogroms was actively 
resented in Petersburg. 

In August, 1847, Ambrose ordained a second bishop, Ar- 
cadius, for the Nekrasovtsy or Raskol diaspora of Turkey. 
He was called the Slav bishop, and the Popovtsy now had the 
minimum of three bishops needful to assure the future of their 

It would be interesting to know how far the affair of Bielo- 
Krinits helped to bring about the Crimean War, just as ortho- 


dox propaganda of the Russian Government among the Latin 
Uniats of Eastern Galicia and the counter propaganda of 
Vienna amongst the inhabitants of the Ukraine were among 
the causes of the recent war. 

On this occasion the Tsar Nicholas felt that he had been 
outwitted and outraged by his Latin opponents, and he 
promptly arrested Gerontius when, in the guise of a merchant 
under the name of Leonov, he entered his dominions with the 
help of a false passport; he next sternly demanded of Vienna 
the removal of Ambrose from the Austrian dominions, and at 
the same time called on the Greek Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople to take the necessary steps for his reconversion or, in 
default, his condemnation. The Greek Patriarch, subservient 
then as always to the Moscovite, sent through Austrian chan- 
nels an intimation to Ambrose that he must repent and return. 
The Austrian Government in its turn had no desire to compU- 
cate the internal difficulties of the moment by quarreling over 
such a matter with Nicholas I; so Ambrose was summoned to 
Vienna and given to understand that he must either go back 
whence he came or retire into some more convenient exile; 
and his monastery was closed and officially sealed on March 
3rd, 1848. But before he had set out for his place of exile, 
Tsill in Styria, revolution broke out in Vienna and a popular 
Government was estabHshed at the head of which was Count 
Kolovrat, the protector of the Old behevers in Austria. Alim- 
pius was returned to the new house of representatives as deputy 
for the Bielo-Krinits monastery, and at once took steps to get 
it reopened, and Ambrose went back to it. The Government, 
however, refused and Alimpius, more immediately concerned 
in aiding the revolution in Prague, was too busy to prosecute 
the enterprise. Later on, however, he got back to Vienna and 
succeeded in obtaining the release of Ambrose who was allowed 
to go and hve at Tsill (Tzill). Lest the Popovtsy hierarchy 
should fall below the canonical figure of three bishops, Cyril 
Bishop of Maenos now consecrated Onuphrius, Bishop of 
Braila, and Sophronius, Bishop of the Popovtsy in Russia, on 
January 3rd, 1849. These two bishops in turn consecrated 
Cyril to be metropohtan of Bielo-Krinits, with the full grade of 


archihieratic dignity. The monks at Bielo-Krinits now 
opened their monastery afresh without consulting the Govern- 
ment, but with the assent of the local authorities. They con- 
tinued on sufferance until 1859 when the Government once 
more openly extended its patronage to the institution. In the 
interim the Crimean War had been fought and Nicholas I 
had departed to a better or a worse world. 

The rest of Ambrose's career possesses a morbid attraction 
for Ivanovski. He continued for a time to draw his salary 
from the Old beUevers, but he shewed his contempt for 
them by refusing to confess to the bishops and hieromonachi 
of their denomination who continued to visit him in exile. 
He was deeply incensed to find his stipend abolished in 
1859, and made it an occasion for anathematizing Cyril who 
had taken his place, along with all the priests whom he had 
ordained and all who had accepted their ministrations. 
''Henceforth," he is reported to have written, "I will make 
Bezpopovtsy of the whole lot of you." He died in 1863 not — ■ 
we take it for granted — without receiving the viaticum from 
an orthodox Greek priest, and he was buried in Trieste. His 
son George is said to have written later on, that his venerable 
sire had often blamed him for pushing him into the Lipovan 
heresy, of those who baptised with aspersion only, — a state- 
ment which need not be taken seriously. 

Ivanovski gives many details of the success of the Bielo- 
Krinits hierarchy in Turkey and Rumania. In the XVIIIth 
Century settlements of Popovtsy, fleeing from the Russian 
Government, had been formed in the Dobrudja along the lower 
Danube, and here they were known as Nekrasovtsy, after the 
Cossack ataman Nekrasov who escaped thither from Russia 
together with his troop. Another settlement had, as we saw 
above, been estabhshed about 1750, between the Sea of Mar- 
mora and the Archipelago; a third, that of Maenos in Asia 
Minor on the Sea itself. In all three there Uved some 10,000 
of the sect. They had all taken an interest in the search for a 
prelate, and it was the ataman Goncharov himself who had 
introduced Peter to Saduk Pasha the Pole. They had con- 
tributed money to the scheme and formed a separate see, 


although, it is said, a minority repudiated Ambrose because 
they felt a doubt whether he had not received in baptism 
aspersion instead of trine immersion — a doubt which, if it 
really existed, might one would suppose, have been got rid of 
by conditional rebaptism. 

These congregations had selected for ordination as their 
bishop Arcadius Shaposhnikov, hegumen of the monastery of 
St. Laurence; but Ambrose displayed his zeal for canonicity 
by rejecting him on the score of his having married a widow in 
his pre-monkish days. Instead of him he ordained in August 
1847, another Arcadius, also called Dorotheus or Lysias, who 
was subjected to some annoyance by enemies of Ambrose, 
for they declared him to be no better than a Greek or a Bul- 
garian agitator, and essayed on that ground to arouse against 
him the suspicions of the Porte. In consequence Arcadius 
was arrested and imprisoned for half a year and only liberated 
by the efforts of Goncharov and the Poles. The latter were 
now rewarded by a firman granting to the Nekrasovtsy as loyal 
subjects of the Sultan full liberty, the use of their own clergy, 
and immunity from annoyance by any other religious body. 
Taking advantage of the favours thus accorded them the 
Popovtsy of Turkey treated themselves to bells on their 
churches, a luxury forbidden to other religious sects, but no 
doubt accorded to them because of the irritation it would be 
sure to arouse in the breast of Tsar Nicholas I and his suc- 
cessors. Arcadius was known as the Slavonic or Slavianski 
bishop; and, as the Popovtsy of Turkey at Tulcha in the 
Dobrudja also asked for a bishop of their own, Arcadius and 
Onuphrius, Cyril's suffragan, consecrated Alipius for their 
special edification with the title of Bishop of Tulcha. 

This was on September 27th, 1850, but neither of these 
bishops occupied their sees for long. In 1853 the Russian 
armies invaded the principaUties of the Lower Danube and 
by the advice of the Porte most of the Nekrasovtsy families 
fled from their settlements into Turkey proper. The two 
bishops, however, stuck to their posts; and the fugitives 
claimed and obtained this time as their archbishop the very 
Arcadius whom Ambrose, because of a technical flaw in his 


sanctity, had refused to consecrate. He was known as the 
bearded bishop, and was a man of rough tongue and great 
energy. He duly shepherded his flock of refugees to the shore 
of the Bosphorus where he remained during the war. 

It would clearly then have been a miracle if in 1853 the 
Tsar had spared the two Popovtsy prelates who bravely stood 
their ground on the Lower Danube, and he did not. Both of 
them were arrested by the advancing Russian army, deported 
and, on the strange ground that they were absconding Russian 
subjects, imprisoned in the Spaso-Euthimiev monastery at 
Suzdal. At the end of the war the Popovtsy through the 
Turkish Government, and with the sympathy of Napoleon III, 
though not, apparently, of the British Government, interested 
himself in their fate, but in vain; and the settlers persuaded 
Arcadius Shaposhnikov to leave the Bosphorus and come to 
them as Slav-bishop, while AHpius the Bishop of Tulcha was 
replaced by the lay-brother of Arcadius, Justin, a native of the 
Volokolamski district of the Moscow Government, a wise, 
temperate and learned man. 

This assured the future of the Popovtsy hierarchy in Turkey. 
For the service of the 20,000 of them settled in Moldavia and 
Wallachia Ambrose ordained as bishop a pope named Nice- 
phorus who had his seat at Jassy. Subsequently one Onuph- 
rius was made suffragan of Braila to attend to the congregation 
in that neighbourhood. In 1853 they obtained a bishop of 
their own, Arcadius, with his see at Vasluya in Moldavia. 
He was a native of Saratov and a learned fanatic who ordained 
a great many priests. To begin with the Turkish Govern- 
ment was somewhat severe on the Raskolniks of Moldavia and 
Wallachia, and Arcadius had to go about his diocese in secret. 
Probably the Porte suspected these fugitives from Russia of 
being Russian agents. After the Crimean War, when Rumania 
received independence under Prince Kuza, the protege of 
Napoleon, they were more liberally dealt with and enjoyed 
complete rehgious freedom. Their prelate Ai-cadius was 
treated by the civil authorities with all the respect due to his 
position; and when the metropoUtan of Jassy complained of 
the presence of a schismatic prelate in his diocese, the Govern- 


ment told him curtly that Rumania was a free country; and 
in 1860 Arcadius was officially recognized as Archbishop of 
Moldavia. It is pleasant to think that the hierarchy of Bielo- 
Krinits so completely succeeded in the nearer East. It was 
a triumph at once of Austria and of rehgious hberty. The 
Rumanian Government also deserved much credit. 

In Russia proper the Bielo-Krinits hierarchy was also a 
success in spite of governmental opposition and of the doubts 
entertained by a few of the Popovtsy, notably by the runaway 
pope Paul of Tula, as to Ambrose's baptism. Gerontius had 
first carried the news into Russia of the episcopal ordination 
of Ambrose and Cyril, and the congregations of Rogozh and 
Kerzhen under the influence of the Rakhmanovs received it 
with enthusiasm, and sent two priests in disguise, Borisov and 
Zhigarev, to Bielo-Krinits to obtain holy chrism. In January, 
1849, Cyril consecrated as bishop of Simbirsk Sophronius, in 
the world Stephan Trifonov Zhirov, a peasant of Maloyaroslav 
and afterwards a citizen of Moscow, whose business had been 
to smuggle fugitive priests to their destinations. He was now 
appointed head of the Russian Popovtsy. Ivanovski accuses 
him of having been a rapacious brigand, selhng ordinations, 
exacting from his popes in Moscow half their pay and more 
still from the country ones. Perhaps this was the reason 
why in 1853 his congregation removed him to the see of Sim- 
birsk and obtained in his stead a new prelate Antony, who had 
been a Bezpopovets of the Thedosyevski commimion, and whose 
name in the world was Andrei Larionov Shutov. 

In 1855 a see of Saratov was founded under a bishop Athana- 
sius, who had been a merchant. In 1856 were created sees in 
Perm and Kazan and Kolomna, in 1857 a see for the Caucasus. 

In fact within twelve years the Austrian hierarchy spread all 
over Russia, ten sees in all being founded and priests ordained 
everywhere. In Moscow a supreme board of control was 
established for the transaction of all the ecclesiastical affairs 
of the sect. It consisted, however, too exclusively of bishops 
and priests, and for that reason aroused the jealousy of some of 
the laity, who petitioned the Tsar to allow runaway popes to 
minister to them by way of healthy competition with those of 


Austrian origin. The layman party was known as the Vino- 
kurovski. In opposition Paphnutius, Bishop of Kolomna, 
petitioned the Tsar to recognize the existing Popovtsy clergy 
as Alexander I had done in 1822; this he was not likely to do, 
inasmuch as the Austrian clergy, at any rate outside Russia, 
were accused of refusing in their liturgy to offer up prayers 
for the Tsar. 

About the year 1860 the Raskol took root in London among 
emigrants headed by Herzen and Kelsiev, who took in hand 
there the pubhcation of the reports concerning the Old beUevers 
collected in the course of various inquisitions by the Russian 
Government. The firm of Paul Trubner pubUshed five vol- 
umes of these between 1860 and 1870; it is to be regretted that 
the Enghsh Universities took no pains under the Copyright 
Act to acquire copies of documents so precious for the historian. 
Copies, however, are in the Widener Library at Harvard Uni- 
versity, and in the British Museum. Paphnutius of Kolomna 
also tried to found in London a school and chiu^ch for his co- 
religionists, a seminary for the training of missionaries and a 
Russian press. But the emigrants there offered very poor soil 
in which to try and plant his faith. They were, and still are 
for the most part, people who, as far as religion is concerned, 
have been completely sterilized by contact with the orthodox 
Church of their native land. 

In 1863 the Russian Government began to tolerate the Bielo- 
Krinits clergy, only continuing to punish converts and repress 
all pubhc manifestations of the sect. In 1908, according to 
Palmieri (p. 421), the Bielo-Krinits hierarchy numbered 
fifteen bishops, twelve governing dioceses, and three emeriti. 
Their archbishop resided in Moscow, and bishops resided at 
Izmail, Kazan, Perm, Uralsk, the Caucasus, Smolensk, Samara, 
Tomsk, Nizhni-Novgorod, Petersbm-g. Their Synod meets 
once or twice a year, when all bishops must attend or, if sick, 
send substitutes. The Synod nominates bishops to vacant sees; 
the archbishop can judge of complaints against them, found new 
sees, and settle controversies of an ecclesiastical character. In 
each see there exists a consultative house of convocation open 
to priests and laity. In 1861 this Russian Popovtsy church 


declared itself autokephalous and independent of Bielo-Krinits. 
With this the Russian Government hampered communica- 
tions; moreover it was a monkish settlement and ill-qualified 
on that account alone to exercise jurisdiction in Russia. 
Since Russian orthodox publicists continued to deny that the 
Bielo-Krinits ordinations were vaUd, the Popovtsy appealed in 
1875, 1892 and 1896 to the Patriarch of Constantinople to 
recognize their orders. In 1899 a commission was appointed 
there to study the matter, which reported that the MetropoH- 
tan of Serajevo was not by the mere fact of his quitting Con- 
stantinople disqualified to administer as a bishop ecclesiastical 
censures and canonical punishments. This was a tacit recog- 
nition of the Austrian hierarchy by the supreme Greek ortho- 
dox Patriarch, and Pobedonostsev when he heard of the 
decision was greatly disturbed. Since the proclamation of 
liberty of conscience on April 17th, 1905, the Popovtsy have 
redoubled their energy, and in a Synod held on August 25th 
of that year decreed that that day should be for ever feasted 
as a holy day in their Church. 

The General Character of the Popovtsy 

In their rehgious convictions, remarks Uzov, the Popovtsy 
are closer than the rest to the orthodox Church, their relation 
to which is well set forth in a 'petition' written in the name of 
the Uniats and circulating from hand to hand in manuscript 
among the Popovtsy. In the words of this document Ortho- 
doxy is not CathoUc Orthodoxy but only "a Russian Nikonian, 
Muscovite, Synodalist, fiscal system, based on the use of three 
fingers and on the withershins form of procession." "Such 
orthodoxy outrages Apostohc orthodoxy, because it is naught 
else than a botched and retouched ceremonial, in other words 
a sort of rituaUstic faith, an ignorant condemnation of the old 
national ritual customs of the Church, is, in a word, Greek 
rituahsm." "Orthodoxy, so far as we mean thereby antago- 
nism to the old rituahsm, is no more than slavish belief in 
ritual, belief in the dogmatic importance of certain ceremonial 
details; it involves the principle of ritualist exclusiveness or 
the restriction of orthodox opinion exclusively to certain 


ceremonial details. Hence the clownish condemnation by a 
supreme pastor (Nikon) of ceremonial usages consecrated by 
age-long usage. And, lastly it raises to the rank of dogmas 
mere peculiarities of Greek ritual. Orthodoxy is just one of 
the sects into which the Russian Church has fallen asunder, 
a sect which lays stress on the necessity for the Russian Church 
of Greek ritual." "The Raskol (by this word, which signifies 
religious dissidence, the Raskolniks mean the Orthodox Church) 
is an apostasy on the part of the Supreme Shepherd (i.e., 
Nikon) from the usages and ceremonies or rites elaborated by 
the Church of our fathers; it is antagonistic to the spirit and 
traditions of the Holy Apostolic Church, and has tyrannically 
usurped the prerogative of ordaining such rites and usages 
in our Church; it stands for ritualist intolerance, iniquitous 
expulsion from the Church and persecution of those who cling 
to older rituals and older custom. It is not the Holy Catholic 
and ApostoHc Church moulded by councils and commemorated 
in the symbol of faith; it is not even a Russian Church; it is 
merely an archpastorate illegal in its procedm'e, and circum- 
scribed by a Synod whose members are appointed by the Gov- 
ernment itself." "What can we say," write the Popovtsy, 
"of a Church which, it is pretended, is invincible, because it 
rests upon the support and sword of the powers of the earth? 
What has it to do with the Truth when it resorts, not to 
persuasion in a spirit of evangelical gentleness, but to civil 
statutes, to influences of which the flesh alone is sensible, to 
fetters and prison cell? Eternal Truth abhors such arguments, 
disdains to subserve and stoop to methods as vulgar as they 
are sanguinary. Truth has power in herself to conquer all 
who think ; the lie, on the contrary, because its authority only 
rests on the violence of a despotism which fawns on it, is 
beholden to external might and must approve all its measures. 
The methods upon which the domination of the new rituahsm 
is built and reposes are good evidence of its inward insuffi- 

These are noble words, all the more striking when we bear 
in mind that they were penned in a Russia still sunk in Cim- 
merian darkness, and anticipate the dawn by at least two hun- 


dred years. They might very well have been addressed by 
Sir Thomas More to his sovereign. But we must not forget 
that it was the Pope of Rome who sent to Henry VIII, along 
with the title of Defender of the Faith, not a copy of the 
Gospel, but a sword. 

"Is it the Raskol," ask the petitioners, ''that stands fast or 
if it does move, then only along the path of hand-in-hand exam- 
ination and consent, — or is it the man who after overthrowing 
the age-long decisions of our Church hurls recriminations at us, 
blocks our path with lies and calumnies, vomits against us 
curses and anathemas, destroys all liberty of conviction, insults 
the people in their most sacred feelings of attachment and ven- 
eration for all that concerns the Church of our ancestors, 
thereby bringing ruin on all?" ''Old rituaUsm in itself, in its 
own conception, is neither heresy nor Raskol (dissent), but 
above all things faith in a piety that reflects our ancestral and 
national holiness; and so far forth it is the legitimate and justi- 
fied protest of the people, of the veritable flesh and blood of the 
Church, the guardian of the reUgion of our sires against the 
wilful bias entertained by the Russian Supreme Shepherd 
(Nikon) in favour of aUen rite and usage, to the outraging of all 
who love their country, — it is a protest against his autocracy, 
against his pretensions to dictate to us our conscientious con- 
victions, a protest against his efforts to import into the practice 
of the Russian Church the disciphne of Papistry." Old ritual- 
ism then is 'popular orthodoxy.' "Our supreme pastorate by 
foisting on us a monkish disciphne and subservience to a con- 
ventual 'rule' in what appertains to the rites and usages of 
our Church, and by lording it in practice over ceremonials and 
ecclesiastical affairs, has by brute force introduced in our 
national Church Greek ritualism instead of the old ancestral 
rituaUsm, so despoiUng the people and its clergy of their right 
to a voice in the affairs of the Church and in the control of 
matters of faith and ritual, arrogating to itself alone the role of 
Church, nay more of the ApostoUc Church and of its infalli- 
biUty. In all these respects our Supreme pastorate has 
dechned from the spirit and traditions of the Holy ApostoUc 
Church, has faUen into LatinismJ' 


Regarding the anathema pronounced against the Raskol in 
the Council of 1666, the petitioners speak thus: "This condem- 
nation was pronounced by the supreme pastor (Nikon) alone 
in despite of the Russian Church itself, in other words, in 
despite of the people who are the very flesh and blood of the 
Church and guardians of its piety. And as the supreme pas- 
torate does not of itself and alone constitute the Church in its 
true sense, so this condemnation was not only not pronounced 
by the Apostohc Church, but not even by the Russian. By 
consequence it is not vahd, because it is no expression of the 
Church's own convictions." 

We are reminded, as we read the above, of TertuUian's 
noble plea for the rights of conscience, when he wrote that the 
Christian Chiu-ch is not a numerus episcoporum, a mere tale 
of bishops. 

"The Apostohc Church," continued the petitioners, "has 
never invested, nor now invests, ritual with the unchange- 
abihty of dogma, nor conceded to it an ecumenically binding 
uniformity; but each particular Church according to the 
measure of its independence, has been allowed to construct 
its own ordinances and ceremonies, customs and rites, as suits 
the age, the position and the spirit of the people." "A decision 
in questions of faith," they add, "indisputably belongs to the 
supreme pastor — yet is not given to him apart from the con- 
sent of those he shepherds ; for in antiquity the consent of the 
people was declared by the presence at the councils of its repre- 
sentatives in the persons of rulers and senate. In questions 
then of mere ritual, no decisions are vahd and effective without 
the mutual consent of the Supreme Shepherd and of his 
flock." 1 

"In respect of Church Government it is clear to all that the 
single head of Holy Church is our Lord Jesus Christ; but in 
the code of rules of the Russian Church it is affirmed that the 
head of the all-Russian Church is the Emperor of Russia. . . " 
"And a meeting of bishops is convened not in the form of a 
Council, but at the arbitrary will of a member of the world, 
which imphes nothing less than debasement." "Similarly 

1 Strannik, 1866, No. 3, art. of Tverdynski, pp. 90-110. 


there are selected for the priesthood not men known for the 
purity of their Hves, but youthful domestics who have not 
attained the canonical age, who are not graced with good works, 
and have as yet no knowledge of the seductions of life, men 
unknown for goodness of character to the parishioners. How 
can such persons feed Christ's flock?" 

"And who is there in the all-Russian Church to deal with 
dogmas and faith? According to the example set by the 
Apostles, we ought to deal with them in a council, but in this 
Church what councils are there? A Synod held under an 
officer's commands can only manage affairs of the outer 

''We," say the Raskolniks, ''recognize a single head, the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and as directors of the Church we recognize 
such bishops as will govern it not as autocrats, but in accord- 
ance with the rules of the holy councils; not applying the 
holy canons merely at their good pleasure, but in accordance 
with concihary deliberations concerning them; and among us 
bishops are chosen not at the good pleasure of any and every- 
one, but by a council from among respectable men, known for 
their zeal for the faith and for the purity of their hves, and in 
the same way the presbyters." ^ 

^ Hegumen Parthenius, The Spiritual Sword, pp. 27-44. 



The Various Settlements of the Bezpopovtsy 

1. In Kostroma and the Viaznikov region of the Vladimir 
Government. Kapiton led this colony of which the members 
were at first known as Kapitonians. He was a native of the 
village of Danilovskoye in the uyezd or district of Kostroma and 
became a monk in the Kolesnik hermitage. IlUterate, he 
gathered about him followers as early as the reign of Michael 
Theodorovitch, attracted by his asceticism which discarded all 
sustenance except bread, berries and fruit. He eschewed, even 
on the great feasts, butter, cheese and fish; and he encouraged 
his admirers to paint onions and eat them instead of Easter 
eggs. To escape the Government when the persecution of the 
Raskol began he quitted Kolesnik and sought refuge in the 
Viaznikov forests, already full of rehgious fugitives. These 
he organized and ministered to, and in spite of ukases and 
soldiers died there in peace. One of his followers, a peasant, 
named Podreshetnikov founded near Kostroma in the Kine- 
shemski and Reshemski regions a community whose lay mem- 
bers boldly performed their own rites of baptism, penitence 
and eucharist, each for his own family. 

2. In Siberia. Thither five disciples of Avvakum fled. 
The most prominent of them was Oska (Joseph) Astomen 
from Kazan, an Armenian convert to orthodoxy. Banished 
in 1660 to the Yenisei he spread Raskol tenets there for 24 
years; but when summoned in 1684 to Tobolsk by Metro- 
politan Paul of Siberia he pretended to repent and died there 
in the Znamenski Monastery in 1693. Some 1700 of his fol- 
lowers, led by one of his successors, Vaska or Basil Shaposhnik 
burned themselves to escape the cruelty of the Government. 

3. In the Novgorod and Pskov Country. Here, as also in 
parts of Sweden and Poland, the Bezpopovtsy came to be known 



as the sect of Theodosius. In 1682, there was a great exodus 
from Novgorod into Swedish territory, whither one Timoshka 
had ah-eady fled with fifty families to Narva. There in 1692 
Ivan of Kolonma, himself a dissident, proposed to the settlers 
to return to orthodoxy and Theodosius Vasilev was sent 
from Novgorod to check the backshders, who at a Raskol 
council in 1694 were excommunicated. In the same council 
were condenmed the improprieties inseparable from the 
attempt of men and women to live together as monks and nuns. 
Presently Theodosius left the Swedish settlement and founded 
one of his own in Poland. He was related to the Boyar Urusov 
and his fame attracted many to his camp. He agreed with 
the rest of the Bezpopovtsy in most things, e. g. in teaching 
that Anti-Christ was reigning, in rejecting all priesthood, in 
rebaptizing the orthodox; but he differed in respect of how 
the title of Christ should be written on crosses and he recog- 
nized as valid ties of wedlock contracted by people in orthodox 
chiu-ches before they joined the Raskol. On the other hand he 
was stricter with his food taboos than the sect of the Pomorians, 
for he would not permit food bought in the market to be eaten 
without being previously cleansed by prayers and prostrations. 
Harried by the Poles he at one time returned to Russia and 
settled in the district of Velikoluts in the Vyazovski volost. 
After arrest and imprisonment he died at Novgorod in 1711. 
His followers settled at Ryapin in the district of Yurya Livon- 
ski. There his two communities flourished greatly, and over- 
flowed into Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Staraya Russa, Pskov, Riga, 
Austria, Prussia and Poland. One of their counts against the 
Pomorian sectaries was that the latter from fear of the Russian 
general Samarin, who raided them in 1735, consented to pray 
for the royal family. 

4. Moscow. The chief centre of the Theodosiev sect was 
founded in Moscow in 1771 by a merchant there. Ilia Alex- 
sieievitch Kovylin, a clever and practical, if iUiterate, man. 
It was the year of a great plague, and Kovyhn got leave to start 
a hospital and cemetery for the poor, the sick and the dying, 
at Cherkizov on the River Khapilovok outside the city. His 
fellow sectaries, mmaerous in the city, loyally assisted, and 


thousands resorted to his hospice to be fed and solaced. There 
in his chapel he prayed with them before the old ikons, held 
the legitimate services of every kind, and preached to willing 
ears that the plague was God's judgment on Moscow for 
forsaking the ancient faith. " The credulous," writes Macarius, 
archbishop of Kharkov, ''weakened by hunger and disease, 
bhndly submitted to the voice of the lying teacher, and were 
rebaptized in the nearest tub." Many left him their fortunes 
and the hundred horses that the philanthropic merchant used 
ordinarily for carting about his bricks (he was a brick merchant) 
were busy transporting the goods bequeathed to him and his 
associate, Zenkov. One asks what was the Orthodox Church, 
of which Macarius till lately was a chief ornament, doing in 
order to keep pace with Kovyhn. 

The new refuge at Moscow was dedicated to the Transfigu- 
ration, and before 1800 it contained 500 inmates, and 3000 
adherents in Moscow frequented the services held there. In 
the school were 200 pupils. Gradually other Theodosiev settle- 
ments affiUated themselves to it, e.g. in Novgorod, Petersburg, 
Yaroslavl, the upper Volga, Riga, Tula, Saratov, Nizhninovgorod, 
Kazan, Simbirsk on the Don, Kuban, Starodub. All these pro- 
cured from it their overseers, choristers, service books, ikons, 
and sent in return ample offerings year by year. A triennial 
meeting w^as held there for deciding all contested points of 
faith or disciphne. 

5. The Pomor} The first Colony in the Olonets region 
was founded by Paul, bishop of Kolomna, and its history 
survives in a book written by one of its leaders, Ivan PhiUppov, 
in 1774. Paul was succeeded by Dositheos, hegumen of the 
Nikolski Besedovski Monastery three versts from Tikhvin on 
the Yaroslav road founded by Vasih loannovich in 1510 on the 
spot where the Virgin and St. Nicholas appeared to the monk 

One Cornelius succeeded him. Early in the siege of Solo- 
vets, and stUl more after its disastrous termination, colonies 
of refugees from it settled in various parts of Pomor. Thus 

1 Pomor means 'sea board'; hence in Germany Pomerania means the shore of 
the Baltic, in Russia it means the shore of the Arctic. 


the deacon Ignatius, after a halt near Kargopol, fled to the isle 
of Pal in Lake Onega, and was there joined by EmeHan Ivanov 
from Povyenets. In Sept. 1787 they won over to the cause the 
Paleostrov monastery, an ancient foundation of the twelfth 
century, situated on the Pal island in lake Onega, 15 versts 
from the village of Shung, and defied the Novgorod authori- 
ties for a while, but in March 1687 were reduced to burning 
themselves, monastery and all. Ignatius and 2700 of his fol- 
lowers perished in the flames, but Ivanov escaped. Before 
long the latter, reinforced by another monk of Solovets, 
Germanus, again obtained possession of Paleostrov, and 
defied the Government for nine weeks, when they were over- 
powered and 500 of them burned alive. A third Solovets 
monk in July 1693 seized the church of Pudozh, reconsecrated 
it after its contamination by Nikon, and converted the villagers 
to his cause. The Government sent a force, and 800 Raskol- 
niki burned themselves alive rather than yield. * 

On the river Vyg, the chief settlement was formed by the 
four Raskolniki saints, Daniel, Peter, Andrew and Simeon, 
with the cooperation of the Cornelius and Ignatius already men- 
tioned. Of these Daniel Vikulich was a church scribe of the 
Shumski parish and teacher of the Raskol hegumen Dositheus. 
After escaping from Paleostrov he joined an already existing 
community of fugitives on the Vyg. These with the aid of 
the Elder Cornelius he organized about 1695 into a regular 
skete or monastic community, of which he remained abbot 
till 1734. In 1692 he had already been joined by Peter Proko- 
piev, a convert of Ignatius, who being a learned canonist and 
singer was made ecclesiarch and conducted the cult until he 
died in 1727. But of the Vyg leaders, Andrew and Simeon 
Dionysievich (Denisov) were the two most famous. They 
belonged to the princely family of the Mushetski of Novgorod, 
and took over with them their sister Salomona, who later on 
headed a female convent. Andrew presided over the monas- 
tery 35 years, until 1730, in association with Daniel Vikulich. 
Disguised as a merchant he conducted long missionary expedi- 
tions to Kiev and all over Russia. His brother Simeon was 
less of a practical genius, but accompanied his brother in his 


peregrinations, and in the course of them he made himself 
an expert in rhetoric, grammar, singing and philosophy, writ- 
ing many books in the library he formed inside the monastery. 
He succeeded his brother as abbot in 1730 and survived him 
ten years. The Monastery was given the name of the 

At its foundation in 1695 the Vyg settlement comprised only 
40 men and women, who built wooden huts, a granary and a 
refectory. The sexes, as is usual in Russia, sat apart in church 
services. Soon entire families joined them, the convent had 
to be enlarged, and a dividing wall across it separated the sexes. 
Presently a special convent was built for women, on the River 
Leksi, called of the Cross, and presided over by Salomona, who 
died 1735. About 1703 fresh settlements began to group them- 
selves around the original one with chapels of their own. At 
first Cornelius, as we saw, conducted reUgious w^orship, bap- 
tized, or rebaptized his new monks and nuns. Later on he was 
assisted in this by the Elders Paphnutius, Paul, Barlaam and 
others. There was a corps of singers, psalmodists, cellarers, 
kanonarchs; and matins, vespers, vigils of feasts and other 
services were duly held in the settlements. In the refectories 
religious books were read out loud at meals. All were kept 
busy, hewing wood, planting fields, tending the flocks and 
herds, working the corn ixdlls and fishing. 

The Archangel climate is harsh, and occasionally the harvests 
failed. Then many would flee back to the province of Nov- 
gorod, and Andrew and Simeon would set off to collect food and 
alms in Pskov and elsewhere. In 1710 they bought a large 
pasture 16 versts square near Kargopol on the River Chazhenga 
and built huts there for shepherds and tillers of the soil. In 
time they also began to eke out their scanty living with trade 
in Petersburg and elsewhere, and their dealers returning from 
Russia brought with them old books and gospels from sacristies 
and libraries containing the handwriting of princes and upper 
clergy of an earlier day, together with crosses, ikons and church 
vessels of the older fashions which the Raskol venerated. Nor 
were they behind hand in controversy, as the Responses of 
Andrew and Simeon prove. They compiled a new martyrology 


for church use containing the lives of martyrs newly slain by 
the Russian Government. They had schools for the education 
of missionaries and others who spread their tenets in the city 
and country side. Before 1800 there were 2000 males and 1000 
females in the Vyg monasteries. 

An offshoot of the Pomorians was founded by a monk Philip 
in 1737 some versts away from the Vygovski settlement. PhiUp 
was a deserter from the Strelets force in Moscow, in civil life 
named Photius. It is said that after the death of Daniel Vykulin 
he desired to succeed him. Disappointed in his hopes he began 
a skete of his own with fifty famiUes, assailing the Vygovskis 
because they had been terrorized by Samarin into praying 
for the Tsar. Attacked by Samarin thirty-eight of the Philip 
community burned themselves aUve, and in 1742 and 1765, 
when Phihp's sect had spread far and wide in the Archangel 
Government, in Novgorod and in Finland, there were fresh 
burnings on a much larger scale. The sect for its rigour was 
singled out by the Government for persecution and that 
explains why they came to be known par excellence as the self- 
burners. In strength of numbers this sect ranked third among 
the Priestless ones. 

It was not the only offshoot from Vyg. Under the regime 
of Andrew Denisov another colony was led forth by a shepherd 
of Vyg who condenmed the use of money and passports, 
pavements and payment of the double poll tax imposed on 
the Old believers by Peter I. This sect was known as the 
Pastukhovo or Adamantovo; it respected marriages contracted 
in the orthodox church and, according to Macarius, deprecated 

The Stranniki 

An incipient reconciUation in the last quarter of the 
XVIIIth Century of the Raskol with civil society explains the 
fact that there arose about that time among the Rigorists or 
followers of Philip, a teacher named Euthymius or Eufimius, a 
native of Pereyaslav in Poltava, who regarded any accommoda- 
tion with normal society, with State or Church, as backsliding 
and impiety. Pressed into the army, he deserted and hid him- 


self first in Moscow, then in the PhiUpovski sketes of Pomor, 
last of all in the forests of the Yaroslav Government. The 
time came when, repelled by the overfacile compliance of 
Philip's sect with Church and State, he set himself seriously 
both to write a book and to found a sect of his o^vn. He got to- 
gether in the village of Korovin in that Government a number 
of sympathizers; and, assuming for the gathering the dignity 
of a council, he solenmly condemned other Raskol groups, and 
embodied his complaint in a work called The Peroration. 
In it he condenmed the act of inscribing their names in the 
registers as Raskolniks as tantamount to abjuring the name 
of Christian and as subservience to Antichrist. One who so 
registered himself and his family deified the Antichrist. His 
philippic against those who simulated orthodoxy was of the 
sternest, and brings before us in a lively manner the disabilities 
to which dissenters were subjected. They as good as admitted 
themselves, he says, to be adherents of a heretical body, and 
condemned themselves to go cadging for favours to the state 
priest, e.g. for the billets de confession, without w^hich they 
could not obtain passports, they had to seek his permission to 
dig graves for their dead, to receive him into their houses on 
feastdays and give him alms. Such people, he writes, have 
prostituted their children to the Great Russian Church, have 
made their confession to the Devil, have disavowed Christ, 
presented themselves at an unholy altar (trapeza), bowing and 
scraping before it; they even invite the priest to enter their 
houses, when on festivals he comes rapping at their doors and 
windows and calling for the master of the house to give him 
something for church purposes, thanksgiving offerings, and 
the rest; they debase themselves by stuffing his bag with 
bread, pastries, cakes. What, he indignantly asks, is all this 
but to crucify Christ afresh, to pretend to love heretics and 
be at peace with them? Piety is extinguished, he laments, 
and impiety reigns everywhere. All the Old believers had 
bowed the knee to Baal and no longer had the baptism of 

He accordingly baptized himself a third time, for he had been 
first baptized in the Orthodox Church, next when he joined the 


Philipovtsy, and now in despair of finding any real baptism on 
the face of this earth he performed the rite first on himself and 
then on his followers; and he made it his principle to wander 
abroad on the earth, because we have here no abiding city. 
The true Christian, he taught, must either conceal himself and 
flee away, or wage open war with Antichrist. He must be 
hterally an outcast and in an alien world break every tie with 
society. He has nowhere to lay his head, but is a wanderer 
(strannik), a fugitive (begun), a stowaway. 

This sect has above all others distinguished itself by its fierce 
denunciations of the Tsars and Tsardom, and of the orthodox 
priests as lying prophets of Antichrist. They have obsti- 
nately refused to register themselves, to pay taxes, to bear 
passports. Their doctrine is the last word of the Bezpopovtsy 
against the regime of Antichrist. Certain of the sectaries of the 
Pomorians who pray for the Tsar were careful to justify their 
action by citing the precepts of St. Paul in favour of praying for 
Gentile or infidel sovereigns. So also the Thedosyevtsi or sect 
of Theodosius were careful to indicate that they only paid the 
Tsar's taxes, because the New Testament inculcates submission 
to the Powers which be. The 'Wanderers', however, were 
guilty of a very disrespectful comparison of the Tsar with the 
heathen rulers, obedience to whom was counselled by the 
Apostles. They were no better than servants of the Devil, 
but the Tsar is Satan himself. You can do nothing but make 
war on him. 

No permanent community or society higher than gypsies 
can be founded on the mere precept to wander and hide. The 
early followers of Jesus soon found that it was not enough 
to wait for the Second Coming, and that even to keep the faith 
aUve they must organize. Euthymius' tenets excluded all idea 
of settlement; but presently, after his death, when the bond of 
his strong personality and preaching was removed, it became an 
urgent question how to assure to his Church any sort of stabil- 
ity or future. Continual vagabondage through 'desirable 
deserts' afforded no bond of union, nay rendered permanent 
ties between its members precarious. A number of poverty- 
stricken, homeless itinerant friars might attract to themselves 


fugitive criminals, but not people with settled notions of life 
and anything to lose. The members of the sect therefore met 
to consider whether in future they should continue to wander or 
settle down in fixed homes. An elder named Yakov Yakovlev 
urged that no one could be regarded as a member who did not 
imitate the master, but a lady named Irene, who had been 
Euthymius' companion in travel, as also the Elder or 'director' 
Krainev, proposed a compromise, by which they should only 
receive as members of the society those who took a vow to 
become Stranniki some day, even if for the present they kept 
their homes and went on living in them. After warm discus- 
sion the compromise was accepted, and a distinction was hence- 
forth drawn between imperfect members who might live in 
town and village and only vow themselves to become adepts in 
the Christian faith later on, and those who pursued the original 
ideal of Euthymius in its entirety. It was stipulated however 
that those who lived in fixed abodes should maintain shelters 
or asylums of refuge for the true wanderers and extend their 
hospitality to them whenever they appeared. 

The student of early Christianity will at once recognize the 
parallelism of the Strannik society with the earUest Church. 
Ivanovski describes in detail the life of concealment led by the 
Strannik missionaries with evident gusto, as if they reflected 
no discredit on the persecuting Church of which he is so dis- 
tinguished an ornament. The refuges, he tells us, of these 
sectaries are furnished with secret ways in and out; they mostly 
consist of underground cellars or garrets constructed in court- 
yards, kitchen-gardens and so forth. There are also hiding 
places for the missionaries under staircases, in closets, in cup- 
boards; sometimes they are concealed behind walls or under 
the roof, sometimes under the stove. Whole secret villages of 
Beguni have been discovered, in which each house communi- 
cated with the rest by secret passages, and the secret entrance 
of the last in the street opened into the garden or into a thicket 
or somewhere out on a highroad. 

This twofold organization of the Stranniki into those who live 
as wandering monks and those who, remaining in the world, 
are under a vow to become true wanderers ere they die, closely 


resembles that of the Cathars. The Elect Cathar cut himself 
or herself off from the world; while the laity, if we may so call 
them, continued to live in the world, fed and sheltered the Elect, 
but ever cherished the hope and intention of being themselves 
elected before they died. For Election implied the reception 
of the Holy Spirit, whereby they became incarnations of Christ, 
Christs themselves, adopted sons of the Heavenly Father. In 
Catharism no doubt there survived the deferred baptism of the 
early centuries, and the same rite has lived on in the Catholic 
Church in the form of extreme unction. The Cathars knew the 
rite under the name of Consolamentum, or reception of the 
Comforter or Paraclete. 

The Stranniki then who remain in the world and maintain 
these refuges for the spiritually perfect, the initiates, are under 
a vow themselves to adopt the wandering life before they die. 
In old age or in case of sickness felt to be mortal they retire 
into a wood, and there live till death overtakes them. The 
excuse for their disappearance from the ranks of society is 
usually that they have set off on a pilgrimage. Sick children 
are rebaptized, and baptism is usually performed in all cases 
in a lake or a pond, either because they have no fonts or, more 
probably, in deference to the preference for living water so 
strong in the early Church and in other ancient forms of lus- 
tration. Ivanovski also states, — though this like some others 
of his statements must be accepted with caution, — that the 
rite of initiation is often arranged in a merely formal and 
hypocritical fashion. The relations of a dying Strannik, he 
says, inform the pohce (in the last degree improbable!) that so 
and so is in hiding, — this in token of the fact that he has broken 
off all ties and relations with society. The sick person is withal 
removed to a neighbouring house or into a hiding place where 
he spends his time 'in concealment and salutary fear,' till 
presently he is received, baptized and installed a 'perfect' 
Strannik. His vocation is then complete. 

The dead are buried in obscure places, in a forest, a field; 
children often under ploughland or in kitchen-gardens. A 
Strannik' s grave is unrecognizable, for no mound ever marks it. 
We are reminded of the account of the recent persecution of the 


Uniat Catholics in the PoUsh province of Kholm given in that 
dreadful book L'apostolat du Knout published at Paris in 1913 
by the Diocesan Society of Tours. In Kholm the Catholics 
would hide the fact that anyone was djdng, and bury him 
secretly in their gardens, and wait till they could get a Latin 
priest to read their rites over the extemporized grave. If it was 
known that a man lay sick to death in a house, the agents of the 
Russian Government would wait round the house ready to 
burst in and carry the corpse off in triumph to the 'orthodox' 
Church, there to be submitted to 'orthodox' burial rites. 
New-bom children similarly were torn from their mothers' 
breasts and carried off to the Russian Church to receive ' ortho- 
dox' baptism; and any but 'orthodox' marriages being for- 
bidden and repudiated as illegitimate along with their fruit by 
Pobedonostzev's law, young couples, desiring to marry, would 
escape across the frontier to Crakov in Austrian Poland, and 
get married by a Latin Priest. By such means, in the years 
preceding this war, the Holy and Orthodox Church of Russia 
had converted as many as 400,000 Uniat or Latin Ruthenes. 

We have seen that numbers of the Priestless Sect, just 
because they regarded marriage as a sacrament, needing a 
priest to administer it, tried for a while, and here and there, 
to Uve as monks and nuns, and presently, following Uzov, we 
shall discuss this aspect of their life in more detail. How far 
Euthymius revived this strict ideal in his sect, is not clear, but 
we need not doubt Ivanovski's statement that his adherents 
followed monastic usage so far as to assume in their 'religion' 
monastic names, such as Niphon, Eustathius etc., and that they 
hved as monks and nuns under strict rule, for violation of which 
rigorous penalties were exacted, especially for infringement of 
the seventh cormnandment. Ivanovski states, however, that, 
in spite of their lofty pretensions, revolting scenes of debauchery 
were common among them, accompanied with great cruelty. 
Beginning with Euthymius, every one of their leaders or elders 
kept a mistress; and theft, brigandage, even assassination were 
not unknown in the bosom of the sect. He attributes this 
partly to the fact that many exiled criminals joined them, no 
doubt to secure shelter under the cover of piety. Kelsiev in 


his Sbornik, vol. IV, 288 foil., prints evidence of such irregulari- 
ties from the lips of members of the sect, most of them rene- 
gades. But it is possible that the ' mistress ' of Euthymius 
was a 'spiritual' wife, a relationship common though often 
reprobated in the Early Church from the time of St. Paul 
onwards for about four centuries. The Stranniki certainly 
regarded marriages contracted before a Nikonian or orthodox 
priest as mere fornication, just as the mediaeval Cathari 
regarded marriage inside the Catholic Church. 

Such relationship led to grave scandals in the Early Church: 
they could not do otherwise in Russia a hundred years ago, and 
one of the first questions that rent asunder the Strannik Society 
after the founder's death was that of marriage. The insti- 
tution was plainly incompatible with the idea of religious 
vagabondage, of inhabiting neither city nor village; and yet 
the conditions of human life had to be met, and in the sixties 
of the last century the followers of Euthymius found them- 
selves suddenly compelled to make their decision, whether or no 
a Strannik after initiation could or could not continue to lead 
a family hfe. 

A convert, Nicholas Ignatiev Kosatkin in the Government of 
Novgorod, had fallen sick and sought 'perfection' ere death 
should overtake him. But in making his confession prior to 
being baptized he avowed no intention of parting from his wife, 
and even declared he would abandon the sect if its statutes and 
if scripture were so interpreted. Nevertheless the prior or 
spiritual authority, deputed to ' receive ' him, admitted him to 
baptism, because he was so grievously ill, and so he became a 
full member of the sect. Then he recovered after all, but 
refused to abandon his wife and children, nay, begat a new child. 
Thenceforth he began a propaganda in favour of marriage in 
the sect. 

He found an ally in one Miron Vasilev, and it was resolved 
by most of the society under their guidance that marriage was 
allowable, along with the two other sacraments of baptism and 
penance, until the second advent — a sensible conclusion. 
Forthwith members who were married before they joined the 
sect began to live together again, where they had not done so 


all along. There was a minority however that held out against 
marriage, and met the argument that the early Christians 
allowed it with the counter argument that these only fled into 
the desert to escape persecution and hoped to return when the 
persecution was ended, whereas they, the Stranniki, had fled 
into the desert for good and ever, never meaning to return and 
hve in an unregenerate world. In view of Uzov's account of 
the sect one suspects that Ivanovski somewhat over-general- 
izes and accepts as valid and significant for the entire sect of 
Stranniki events and quarrels and decisions that only really 
concerned a section of it. 

There were other questions also which led to dissensions in 
the society, for example the trivial one whether a Strannik 
should carry in his pocket coins that bore the stamp of Anti- 
christ. Euthymius had avoided this 'Archimedian problem,' 
but one of his stricter followers Vasili Petrov raised it, and an 
insignificant minority followed him in his objection to money, 
and were known as the 'moneyless' ones. They got over the 
practical inconvenience by getting novices to carry money for 
them and make their disbursements, just as the Manichean 
Elect ones carried their scruple against taking life so far as to 
make their novices cut their salads for them, shriving them 
afterwards for the sin they had committed. Nicetas Semenov, 
one of their best known teachers, raised his voice against such 
nonsense, and also against the scruple felt against the use of 
prayer books printed for the Uniats. These bore on the title 
page the imprimatur of the Tsar-Antichrist and of the Holy 
synod, and it was impossible to procure the old printed service 
books anterior to Nikon, because they had become so rare. 
In a Begun Council it was agreed to get over the difficulty by 
tearing out the title pages ! 

Another cause of dissension was a sensible attempt made by 
this same Nicetas Semenov to organize the society better and 
keep it more together by appointing superior and inferior 
clergy in some locahties. Semenov pubhshed a tract on the 
subject, but was accused by some of his brethren of being a 
second Nikon and of wishing to estabhsh a hierarchy. His 
supporters however chose him to be supreme head or director 


of the society. In the early church the episcopate did not get 
the better of the itinerant prophet without a struggle, and, we 
may be sure, some heartburnings. It was so with the Stranniki ; 
thus does religious history repeat itself. 

Latterly, according to Ivanovski, the Strannik elders or 
initiates have compromised with Antichrist in yet another 
matter. In order to roam about and propagate their tenets 
with greater seciu-ity they apply for passports, not in the 
names they bear in 'rehgion,' but in the lay names which they 
bore in the world, before they were converted. 

The Netovtsi and the Self-Baptizers 

Macarius and Ivanovski distinguish among the priestless 
sectaries who assert that the advent of Antichrist has brought 
about the demise of the Church with its priesthood and sacra- 
ments, the Netovtsi or Nothingites, as a separate and self- 
contained sect whose members repudiate baptism altogether, 
because they cannot reconcile it with their consciences that 
laymen should administer it, for that is a violation of the 
second of the Apostolical Canons contained in the Kormchei 
(conciliary) Book, which rules that "those who snatch at gifts 
not vouchsafed to them offend against God, as did the sons of 
Korah and King Uzziah. Not even a deacon is worthy to offer 
the Sacrifice or to baptize anyone or to celebrate the little or 
great benediction." 

An offshoot of the 'Nothingites' are, however, the self-bap- 
tizers, who get over the difficulty by baptizing themselves. 
Their converts immerse themselves in a lake or river, and 
instead of a priest, as in the orthodox Church, using over them 
the formula: — "This child of God is baptized," they repeat 
over themselves the words: — "I, a child of God, baptize 
myself." Similarly they repeat over themselves, when they 
marry the formulas: — "I betrothe myself," and "I crown 
myself," for in Eastern marriages a crown is placed on the 
head of each of the parties. This sect sprang up in the last 
years of the XVIIIth Century, and flourished exceedingly in 
the Saratov Government, according to Veskinski's notice of 


them in the Orthodox Review, of 1864, No. 8. A member of it, 
Timothy Bondarev, composed a work called: — 'A true and 
faithful Way of Salvation,' from which K. Kustodiev in the 
Russki Vestnik (for 1862, No. 9, p. 420) adduces the views of 
the Sect with regard to the history of reUgion, which views, 
as he says, approximate in a remarkable degree to western 

Bondarev started from the position that everything in the 
world grows old and decays, and out of what has lived its day 
springs up a new growth, which in its turn will grow old and 
give way to new. This thesis he appUed to the many laws 
which have successively been vouchsafed by God to the human 
race, namely to those of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, 
Solomon, and lastly to ourselves in the law of the Gospel. All 
these revelations, he says, were given for everlasting fulfilment 
unto all eternity, and the first six of them were part of the old 
covenant. Yet by divine destiny all has been changed, and 
no one any more observes the first six, nor has their abrogation 
displeased the Lord God. The seventh and last, that of the 
Gospel, can only hold good until the glorious second advent on 
earth of Christ. Yet he wiU come, not as the profane imagine, 
to the eye or senses, but spiritually and intellectually; not in 
brutal fact and sight to all or any, but in the form of righteous 
mind, and true preaching and in no other. It is clear, adds 
Kustodiev, that in strict accordance with his fundamental idea, 
Bondarev' s rebukes smite the external side of religion, not only 
in the Church, but in the Raskol Sects themselves, in so far 
as they tolerate presbytery and preceptorate. He is an enemy 
of every kind of hierarchy, and his opinions connect the teach- 
ing of the Stranniki with that of two unreservedly rationalist 
groups of Old beUevers, the Prayerless and the Sighers {or 
Aspirants), who very hkely owe much to his work. 

The Prayerless and the Sighers 

These two bodies virtually agree in their tenets and are the 
extreme champions of the religion of the inner man, and V. S. 
Tolstoi in a communication to the Imperial Society of History 


and Antiquities in the year 1864 (bk. 4, p. 123) gave an account 
of the Founder of the Prayerless Sect. He was a Don Cossack, 
named Gabriel Zimin, an inhabitant of the Thedosievskaya 
Stanitsa. In his childhood a Popovets, he subsequently joined 
the opposite Sect the Bezpopovtsy, as a member of which he 
gave himself up to the reading of old printed books, in order 
to ascertain their interpretation of various points. Presently 
he elaborated a doctrine of his own, of which, though based 
on Scripture, no sect had ever dreamt. This new teaching 
exposed him to the reprisals of the Government, which ban- 
ished him in 1837 to Transcaucasia, where what became of him 
is not known. The thoroughness with which he carried his 
creed into life, is shewn by an incident narrated of him. The 
moment proceedings were taken against him for joining the Sect, 
he took off a cross of St. George which had been conferred upon 
him for valor and restored it to the Government. 

It was to be expected that this sect as being the ne plus ultra 
of 'Old belief would attract to itself more Old beUevers than 
Orthodox, and it is so. The former are perpetually routing 
about among their old books. This sharpens their wits, and 
not seldom they find among the rubbish treasures of value, 
as they think, even for the modern world. 

How closely Zimin's sect connects with the Old believers is 
seen in their general attitude. They regard all the corrections 
made by Nikon as so many 'perversions of the truth,' and 
esteem Nikon himself ' as a pioneer in that path of corruption ' 
which led up to the age of the spirit, and along which the mass 
of Russians are moving to-day. 

They base their rehgious philosophy on a division of the 
past into four ages; of these four, the first lasted from creation 
until Moses; this was Springtide, the age of the fore-fathers of 
our race, i.e. the Patriarchs: the second extended from Moses 
to the birth of Christ, and is called Summer, the age of our 
Fathers. The third from Juhus Caesar to 1666 was Autumn, 
the age of sons; from 1666 to the present day is Winter, the age 
of the Holy Spirit. 

The Sighers put it somewhat differently, holding in a manner 
in some ways reminiscent of Marcion, in others of Montanus, 


that in the Old Testament we have the kingdom of God the 
Father, in whom men then beUeved; in the New Testament 
that of God the Son, which began with the birth of Christ and 
continued to the 8,000th year from Creation, and is now ended. 
With the 8,000th year begins the reign of God the Spirit, or the 
Age to Come; and in the present it behooves us to believe in 
the truth of the Spirit, by means of sighing or aspiration or 
out-breathing, according to the saying: Glory to the Father, 
and Son, and Holy Spirit. "^ 

The Prayerless teaching then in general inculcates that Truth 
is utterly extinct, faith suppressed and hidden; but as the age 
of the Holy Spirit is nigh, there remains but a single chance of 
salvation, the attainment namely of such ideals and ends as it 
is ordained for us to fulfill in the spirit, but not at all through 
the flesh or any material modes. Not even oral services to God 
are permissible, for they involve use of the tongue of the body. 
Impressed with the belief that they are living in the age of the 
Spirit, they are minded to take everything, holy Scripture not 
excepted, in a spiritual sense. They do not shrink even from 
evaporating off in the same way the birth of Jesus Christ in 
the flesh, his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. For 
example, the Virgin Mary was good counsel, out of which was 
born the Word of God, and he is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 
His coming in the flesh they do not preach; but by way of 
explaining it they fall back on the idea that in Jesus' age, divine 
rites and services were performed in the flesh, and that this 
flesh, after the advent of the age of the Spirit, is completely 
set aside and abrogated. Ecclesiastical authorities, after the 
7000 years had elapsed, no less than Church Services and all 
external rites, came abruptly to an end; and since then all 
grades of clergy, from deacon to patriarch are on a level with 
the ordinary layman; nor are pastors and preceptors or rectors 
any better, for they usurp their authority instead of receiving it 
by direct succession. A church or orthodox temple is nothing 

1 This information is given in an article in the Supplement to the Journal of 
the See of Kaluga, for the year 1873, No. 3, entitled "A few words about the 
Sighers of Kaluga," pp. 53-4. Cp. Albrecht Dieterich, Fine Mithrasliturgie, p. 14, 
1. 20 for a curious parallel. 


more than a simple house, and sacraments performed therein 
were only pleasing to God before the term of 7000 years expired. 
All rubrics are antiquated; external modes of veneration of 
God no longer have any significance. All this is a thing of the 
past. The age to come is upon us, and no Church is left on 
earth. It is not wanted any more; no more are priestly func- 
tions or offerings or outward ceremonies. The true temple is 
within us each, in the heart; for it was said: ''Ye are the 
churches of the living God," and ''Are ye not a temple of 
God." ' 

If the old Manichean faith had not lain buried for a thousand 
years at least under the sands of Central Asia, awaiting dis- 
interment by scholars and explorers like Sir Aurel Stein, 
Grunwedel, W. D. Miiller and others, one could almost sup- 
pose that Zimin had drunk of its inspiration. He shares with 
Mani, and Mani's spiritual father Marcion, the docetism which 
gets rid of the flesh and historicity of the Messiah; he also 
betrays the same abhorrence of material cults, which was 
carried so far among the Cathars and Manieheans that they 
would not even use water in baptism or the human hand in 
ordination. In their abrogation of ecclesiastical orders the 
Prayerless have also reached the same goal from which Marcion 
and his Cathar and Manichean progeny perhaps started, the 
conception namely of a single spiritual grade of election by the 
spirit, first exampled in Jesus and accessible to all alike who 
foUow in his footsteps. From such a standpoint the difference 
between a pneumatic or inspired laity and a charismatic priest- 
hood fades into nothingness; we are back in a stage of the 
development of Christian speculation and practice earlier 
than any separate priesthood at all, in which priesthood had 
not emerged; such a stage has barely left any trace in the 
Great Chm-ches of East and West, although it survived into 
the middle ages among the Cathars and even into the XlXth 
Century among the Thonraki heretics of Armenia described 
in my 'Key of Truth.' The orthodox clergy, according to 
Zimin's followers, are ministers of Antichrist, and the priestly 
fimctions exercised by them are a tissue of fraud and avarice. 

1 Kaluga Journal 1873, No. 2, p. 32, and No. 3, pp. 53-55. 


God asks nothing of us in return for his grace and loving kind- 
ness; and if the priests were truly his ministers they would 
take nothing for their rites. Seeing that they take money for 
every prayer, we have, they say, no use for them.^ 

The scriptures, they maintain, must without exception be 
understood in a spiritual sense, especially today. Everything 
revealed in them refers to this age; of the Heaven to be, of the 
bhss of the just ones, of the departure of the spirit from the 
flesh, no one, in their opinion can know aught, for it is all an 
incomprehensible mystery. The Father, to quote their lan- 
guage, denotes the Paternal principle or rule which lasted until 
Jesus Christ; the Son, the filial principle that held sway from 
the birth of Christ until 1666; the Holy Spirit the principle 
that dominates this age, the last.^ 

They will not hear of prayers offered with lips of flesh, whence 
the name by which they are known of the Prayerless. In their 
opinion we must not offer up to God, prayers written in books, 
but prayers that come from the worshipper's own heart and 
soul, and emanate from the spirit of wisdom. And in proof 
they appeal to the saying of the Gospel: ''Enter thy chamber, 
shut thy door and pray in secret." "Enter thy chamber," 
they argue, is a precept of silence; "shut the door" means to 
close the lips; and of the same purport is the maxim: "True 
worshippers worship in spirit and in truth." It is an evil thing 
to Uken oneself to the heathen, to utter or recite any sort of 
prayers at home or in meetings, for there is no salvation in vain 
repetition. Nay more, to suppUcate in one's mind for any- 
thing definite is superfluous and useless, for om* Heavenly 
Father knows, without om* asking, what we need.^ 

The Cross they utterly reject; as a visible or material object 
it is of no avail, at any rate in the present, the age of the spirit. 
Baptisms they have none, and only give a child a name in 
accordance with common custom. 

The marriage union is accomplished among them without 
any reUgious rite; they only insist on a mutual agreement of 

1 Kaluga Journal 1873, No. 3, p. 56. 

2 Tolstoi, op. cit. pp. 127-131. 

3 Istina, 1875, 41, Missionary Infornudion about Raskol. 


bride and bridegroom and parents; but one party must not 
abandon the other without there has been open violation of the 
marriage tie to excuse it. ''What do you want with marriage? " 
they say. "Choose your wife, as you please, and live with her 
as you please, and you commit no sin." They bury the dead 
without any hymns or prayers and in the simplest manner pos- 
sible, for they hold that a dead body is earth and returns to 
dust. They therefore reject all rites performed over the dead 
and allow no conamemoration of them. If they occasionally 
conduct a burial in accordance with the regulations of the 
orthodox church, they only do so to escape the vexations of 
the police. 

Holy rehcs discovered before the 7000th year, they admit to 
be efficacious; but all later ones they repudiate on the ground 
that, since the age of the Spirit began, there is no use for them, 
while even genuine ones are deprived of any further miraculous 
efficacity, inasmuch as the fleshly or carnal age has expired. 
The second advent of Christ, they say, is already past, and 
they alone had understanding to recognize the event in accord- 
ance with divine revelation. The day of judgment they do not 
believe in and appeal to the saying: "The Father hath given 
judgment to his Son," but the Son is the Word, and the Word 
has already deUvered his judgment in his time, that is before 
the expiration of the 7000 years. So they await no further 
advent of Christ nor attend his dread judgment. And they 
say, "after death there is nothing of the sort; we shall not 
answer for our deeds to anyone." 

Feasts and fasts they equally reject. "You think," they 
say to the orthodox, "that you are gratifying God by eating 
mushrooms and radishes. You are not. You only exhaust 
yourselves and enfeeble your strength." 

They have put aside everything visible, and along with it 
priesthood, nor among themselves have they a presbyterate 
resting on selection, although they make much of those who 
have a turn for explaining in a spiritual manner texts of scrip- 
ture, perverting, says Ivanovski, their meaning to their own 

Their attitude to the State is narrowly connected with their 


theological views. They shew respect for the Lord, the Tsar 
and the Government, as well as for the civil laws, because they 
cannot avoid doing so ; but in reaUty they hold that all estab- 
lished authority, being based on ignorance of the age and 
season, must inevitably be neither valid nor just, and for that 
reason they decline to obey as they ought. Imbued with such 
ideas, opposed to sound common sense, as Ivanovski thinks, 
they reject oaths taken no matter with what object, and are 
convinced that an oath in particular is not only unavailing but 
intrinsically absurd, all the more so because an ecclesiastic 
has to administer it. " In any service of the Government, they 
say, no matter what, even if you could take part, don't, except 
in so far as the Government drives you to do so by force, so 
that you cannot help yourself. Should you find yourself face, 
to face with enemies with arms in their hands, that is no excuse 
for you to rush to arms. Remember the words of the Gospel, 
Mat. 26, 52: "All that take to the sword shall die by the 
sword." They reserve the appellation of Christian warrior 
for the man who is at issue with infidels, understanding by the 
latter term those who do not share their beliefs in the succession 
of the ages nor realize that the age of the Holy Spirit is already 
come. Such is the picture of the tenets of this remarkable sect, 
so closely allied to our own Quakers, given in the two sources 
named, viz: Tolstoi's articles and the Kaluga diocesan journal. 

Uzov admits his ignorance with regard to the strength and 
diffusion of the Prayerless Sect, but has evidence of their being 
found all over Russia, e.g. in the territory of the Don Cossacks 
(Voiska Donskago) ; in Odessa as early as 1845, as testified by 
Andreev; in the Vyatka Government in 1867, in the province 
of Sarapul. Here entire villages belonged to it, and the Gov- 
ernment in the hope of extirpating it proceeded about that time 
to imprison its leading members. Thereupon the members of 
it presented themselves en masse before the local authorities 
and besought them to imprison them as well; but the jails were 
not large enough, and many of them were turned away dis- 

Gatsisski asserts in Old and New Russia, 1877, No. 11, p. 274, 

^ V. Popov: Secrets of the Raskolniks, Old Ritualists, etc. pp. 15, 16. 


that seven years before that date they were diffused in the 
trans-Volga districts of the Nizhegorod Government, in other 
parts of which they ah-eady existed; in many villages the soil 
was turned up ready for the seed of the new faith to spring up 
on it. In the Kaluga Government, we learn from the Kaluga 
diocesan Journal of 1873, Nos. 2 and 3, p. 39, that the "lying 
propaganda" of the 'Sighers' had already reached a great 
extension. In cabarets, taverns, in the streets on feast days, 
you heard them preaching. Near the Tula Gate in Kaluga 
in a certain class of 'estabUshment,' their disputes with other 
sectaries often threatened to degenerate into fisticuffs. Accord- 
ing to reports they had appeared in the Borov and Maloyaro- 
slav provinces. In the Kostroma Government they were, 
according to Gatsisski, scattered about in the district of 
Vamavin; and their presence in that of Korchev was also 
recorded. Such was the diffusion of this sect in 1880, when 
Uzov wrote; since then it is likely to have multipUed itself 
on the same scale as other forms of dissent. 

The Intellectual Development of the Bezpopovtsy 

In general and especially during the XlXth Century the 
Bezpopovtsy have shewn a more hberal tendency than the 
Popovtsy. All their sects have evinced the same determination 
to supersede, or at least not to accept without careful examina- 
tion, the authority even of their own writers of an earUer 
generation. Thus the Theodosian sect at Riga in 1826 drew 
up a code for the regulation of their refuge or house of mercy 
in that city in which it is pointed out that ''their ancestors^ 
prescriptions were often wrong." It was therefore felt to be 
necessary "to examine attentively the publications and decrees 
of former generations, to uphold such parts of them as are 
consonant with law and scripture, to supplement what is 
defective, to make clear what is obscure, and exhibit before the 
community whatever conflicts with principles and holy writ, 
so that it may be altered." ^ Long ago the members of this 
same sect, in their discussion of burning questions with the 

^ Nilski: Family Life in the Russian Raskol, pt. 2, p. 139. 


Pomorians, refused to be bound even by texts from the Epistles 
of the Apostles unless these could be shewn to be appUcable to 
the circumstances of the age ; ^ and a well-read monk Paul 
of the priestless sect in his work: The Royal Road, which en- 
joyed extraordinary vogue among his people, repudiated the 
assumption that authority attaches to all the works of the 

And the same independence of mind is revealed by the leaders 
of the priestless sects in their discussions with the orthodox 
clergy sent to convert them. Confronted with citations from 
ancient books they answer : ''Well and good; but these books, 
my father, were written in an age when the ancient piety 
existed, and were true to fact when they were penned. But 
that old piety is past and done with and now there is nothing 
to which you can apply what the book contains." ^ "These 
were books of great men," others will answer, "but they have 
passed through the hands of heretics who have doctored them."^ 

It was in vain, remarks Uzov, that orthodox doctors adduced 
passages from the New Testament to the Fathers to prove 
that the Church of Christ must endure to the end of the world, 
that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, that the 
hierarchical order is similarly perpetual, because, as Cyril of 
Jerusalem wrote: "Christ's priesthood after the order of 
Melchizedek shall never cease," and so forth. The Bez- 
popovtsy rephed that such promises could be annulled by the 
sins of mankind and that the Scripture offered many examples 
of promises /or ever which were never reahzed. "God," they 
argued, "promised David that his throne should stand for 
ever, and yet long ago the Hebrew priesthood and kingdom 
ceased to exist." ^ Dire necessity turned these Raskolniks 
into higher critics and their agiUty in controversy led an 
orthodox pubUcist, K. Nadezhdin, to write of them as follows: 
"It is true they often borrow proofs of their lying teaching 

* K. Nadezhdin: Disputes of the Bezpopovtsy of the Preobrazhenski Cemetery and 
of the Pokrovski Chapel about marriage. 

* M. Stebnitski: Among the People of the Old Religion, 2nd. Edition p. 12. 
' T. Tverdynski: Conversations of an Orthodox Priest, p. 28. 

* Istina (Truth) 1877, Bk. 51, Preaching of the Truth, p. 181. 

* Istina, 1877, Bk. 53 : Preaching of the Truth in the See of Pskov, p. 67. 


from holy writ, but at the same time no sooner do they see 
that, in spite of their garbling, it does not bear out their asser- 
tions, than they are ready to deny the sanctity even of holy 
writ itself, frequently adding that it was given us as much for 
our ruin as not." Scripture, according to the Bezpopovtsi, 
is no other than a two-edged sword; out of it springs every 
sort of heresy.^ 

In the conferences which were held at Kazan in 1871 the 
Bezpopo\i:sy commenting on the proofs from Scripture laid 
before them by N. Ivanovski, professor in the seminary there, 
answered: ''Scripture is a trackless abyss; that only to one 
that has understanding is the advent of Antichrist palpable, 
and men have advanced interpretations out of their own 
imaginations, based on nothing at all." Ivanovski replied 
that though on the one hand the Old believers pretend to be 
champions of the letter, yet wherever it suits their doctrine 
they have no scruple in violating its obvious meaning, and 
concocting interpretations of various kinds, half rationahst, 
half mystical, which they dignify by the name of the 'inward 
meaning.' To the plainest and simplest passages of Scripture 
and the Fathers they attribute one allegorical sense or another, 
all equally strange. A monk named Barnabas, formerly one 
of the Bezpopovtsy, who in 1880 had joined the Orthodox 
Church, wrote of them that "by preference they interpret 
everything spiritually." ^ In this connection the question of 
Antichrist occupies the first place. In their reasonings about 
his person and time of appearance we always hear one and the 
same thing said: "We must understand the Scriptures alle- 
gorically, and conceive in a spiritual manner of spiritual 
matters"; "no, no, it does not help us to understand things 
carnally; we must understand Scripture, not according to the 
ink, but allegorically." But their commonest watchword is: 
"To him that hath shall understanding be given." ^ And 
they appeal to a passage of Ephrem Syrus to this effect, to 
be read in his tract on the Dread Judgment and on Antichrist: — 

' Istina, Bk. 6: Controversy among Bezpopovtsy. 

2 Chronicle (Letopis) of Events among the Raskol, by N. Subbotin, p. 32. 

' Orthodox Companion, No. 12, art. by N. Ivanovski, pp. 475-8. 


"To anyone gifted with divine wisdom and understanding, 
the advent of the tormenter will be intelHgible, but for him 
that is immersed in the things of this world and loves the 
earthly, it shall not be so; for if we be wedded to interests of 
this life, we may hear the Word, but will have no faith; nay, 
they who preach it will excite our hatred." 

The Bezpopovtsy in view of the endeavours of Orthodoxy to 
convert them, if only to the Uniat position (which they term a 
snare) by a system of missionary preaching, and finding them- 
selves compelled under pain of a fine to send their learned men 
to hold discussions with the missionaries, say to the latter: 
"Formerlj^ we were tortured, and without any success; and 
now you think you are going to convert us to the Church with 
the help of a few old books." ^ "You can find no arguments 
now to lay before us by way of exonerating yourselves but what 
you find in our own old printed books; but you yourselves 
have cursed these books and abused them and confiscated them 
and relegated them to your lumber-rooms : and we are on our 
guard. Just as you used to torture us for an old book, so now 
you will make us pay dear; and if we give you nothing, you 
will carry off our book straight away; nay, will lock us up in 
the casemate as well. Of course you eulogise the old books 
now, you even appeal to them for everything, as if, my brother, 
we had not read them a thousand times and long ago." ^ 

Uzov pertinently observes that, so long as the old books were 
the sole property of the Old beUevers, they naturally took good 
care in citing them to pass by passages that contradicted their 
position; but as soon as orthodox missionaries that had 
belonged to their sect began to use them, as weapons of attack, 
and so revealed what double-edged tools they were, then the 
Old behevers' enthusiasm for them, as we saw above, began to 
evaporate, and they proclaimed that "to him that hath under- 
standing, more shall be given." 

We have already glanced at the doctrine of the Antichrist 
so widely current in the Raskol, and Uzov gives some account 
of a book entitled About the Antichrist, Testimony from Holy 

* Istina, 1876, bk. 45, Records of Conversations, p. 654. 

• ConverscUions of the psalm reader Paul, p. 6. 


Writ. He was to appear according to it at the very end of the 
XVIIIth or rather at the beginning of the XlXth Century, 
and it is explained that: "he is not a man but the spirit of 
our world, an heretical condition of the Church, an apostasy 
of Christians from the Truth vouchsafed by Christ, a spirit of 
sacrilegious impiety and eternal perdition. By the woman of 
whom he is to be born we are to understand a society of unclean 
people; by his birth, their apostasy from Gospel truth; lastly 
by the three and a half years which is to be the period of his 
reign is signified an indefinite lapse of time"; ''the idea of the 
Antichrist as of something imperceptible, ideal, spiritual, arose 
among them long ago, at the very beginning of the Raskol 
movement, but by reason of its abstract character it had at 
first Uttle vogue among them and was never formulated clearly 
and definitely; ^ nowadays it has become a favourite topic of 
Bezpopovtsy conversations." "As a spirit of sacrilegious 
apostasy a spirit of eternal perdition, it lives, so they teach, 
and operates principally in the governing classes who hold power 
in their hands."^ For the rest: "There exist among them at 
present two opinions about the person of the Antichrist : some 
of them understanding by the name an antichristian spirit in 
society, an apostasy of men from Christ and from the teaching 
he bestowed on us, an heretical condition of the Christian 
Church; others conceiving of Antichrist as the last of a series of 
persons pursuing one and the same teaching opposed to the 
truth of the Gospel." The latter "understand by the woman 
from whom is to be born the Man of Sin to mean an earthly 
kingdom of some sort, concentrated as it were in a single body; 
the birth of Antichrist is the issuing or provenance of such 
persons out of this kingdom or their manifestation therein." 
They point to the passage of the apocalypse about a whore, 
whose name Babylon, they declare (following Andrew of 
Caesarea), is derived from the woman, who is nothing but a 
kingdom of earth, and in especial the Roman Kingdom, called 
in Peter's epistle Babylon, and the Russian Kingdom called by 
the patriarch^Jeremiah the third Rome. Antichrist is to be 

1 I.jjNilski: About Antichrist, p. xxxiv. 

2 I. Popov: Sbornik for history of Old believers, 1. 1, p. xi. 


born, that is, manifest himself in this kingdom or issue there- 
from; consequently he must appear in Russia, which is the 
third Rome." He "has been reigning in the world for long 
ages," in Russia ever since 1666.^ Allegorization of the old 
legend of Antichrist, as Miliukov points out, rendered it easier 
for the Raskolniki to compromise with a world which after all 
had not come to an end, as at first they had expected it to do. 
The logic of events had falsified their early anticipations of his 
advent, and allegory furnished them with a means of readjust- 
ing them. 

"In the old legends of the Antichrist, Enoch and EHas the 
prophets were also to appear, and the Bezpopovtsy found as 
little difficulty in dissipating their personalities by means of 
allegory. Enoch was the natural law, EUas the written law, 
John the law of grace." -^ "Others declared that Elias and 
Enoch are symbols of zealous men in general, and that anyone 
who argues from the written letter is no better than a Jew." ^ 
Such glosses as the above reveal that the Dissenters had 
grown out of their early behef in Antichrist, with its implica- 
tion of the imminence of the end of the world. The world had 
stood the test, and they had after all to live in it. Hence the 
new orientation of old beliefs. 

At this time one can hardly refrain from asking oneself if 
these opinions have not had much to do with the present 
upheaval in Russia. In their crude way these simple people 
had apprehended the truth. That the present catastrophe is a 
result of the neglect by all the Governments of Europe of the 
elementary moral truths enunciated in the Gospel, who can 
doubt? These truths avenge themselves, if they are flouted 
and ignored, as surely as would the axioms of mathematics, 
if they were set at naught ; moral principles are no less infaUible 
and certain, remarked Leibnitz long ago, than the postulates 
and axioms of geometry; and if the latter got in the way of 
our passions and cupidity as much as does moraUty, EucUd 
and Archimedes would be denounced as dreamers and hope- 
lessly impracticable people. 

^ I. Nilski: About Antichrist against the Raskolniks, pp. 1, 100-1, 107, 108. 
2 Edifying Reading {Dushepoleznoe Chtenie) 1869, On the Advent of Elias and 
Enoch, by the Priest Paul, pt. 2, 137, 138, 140, 147 and pt. 3, 10, 12. 


The identification of Tsardom and of the late Russian polity 
with the reign of Antichrist was naturally little conducive to 
the loyalty which finds expression in prayers for the Sovereign. 
A minority of the dissenters, especially in the cities, tried by 
unsparing use of the allegorical method to reconcile such 
loyalty with their conscience, especially in times when the 
Tsar's Government betrayed the least tendency to tolerate 
their existence; but these fits of toleration were always of 
brief duration and due to the personal enlightenment of a Tsar 
or Tsaritsa. Behind the sovereign there ever stood the Holy 
Synod with its 'short method for dealing with dissenters.' 

It was mainly the Thedosievtsy and Pomortsy who lived in 
cities that shewed a tendency to compromise and admit a 
detente in the sway over Russia of the Antichrist, but the more 
extreme sect, the wanderers or Beguny, remained intransigent, 
and indeed the vast majority of the Raskolniks held by their 
convictions, as is shewn by the fact that in the XlXth Century 
the sects which spread and multiplied were mostly those which 
regarded prayers for the Tsar and the royal family as the worst 
form of blasphemy, an actual verification of the legend which 
represented the Antichrist as forcing his way into the temple 
and deifying himself. Nor was this tendency confined to the 
priestless dissenters. The less extreme Popovtsy shared it,^ 
and in 1868, in a council held in their Austrian centre of Bielo- 
Krinits, they solemnly decreed that any who pray for the 
Powers that be shall be excommunicate. 'How will you ever 
find grace at the hands of the Beast? ' asked such partisans.^ 

In every country trade and wealth engenders the instinct 
to uphold Church and State. One is therefore prepared to 
learn that it was chiefly among dissenting shop-keepers in 
Russia that an inclination to pray for the Tsar shewed itself. 
The Russian peasant, on the other hand, remained obdurate. 
Thus on January 23rd, 1864, when division of opinion about 
the matter revealed itself in a general meeting of the Popovtsy, 
held in their Moscow headquarters, the so-called Rogozhski 
cemetery, only ten persons were in favour of offering up in the 

1 Russki Vestnik, 1869, No. 2, art. by Subbotin. 

2 Edifying Readings, 1869, Pt. 3, art. by Paul the Priest, pp. 365-6. 


liturgy a prayer for the Tsar, the peasants and poorer citizens 
going against it en masse, according to Subbotin's articles in 
the "Russki Vestnik" for that year (No. 2, p. 775; No. 3, 
pp. 407, 413) and for 1869 (No. 10, p. 605). The vast majority 
of the Popovtsy were during the sixties of the last century at 
one in such matters with the Priestless Sect, into whose ranks 
of every shade of opinion there was a constant tendency for 
them to drift, as we read in the "Russki Vestnik" for June 
1865 in I. Belliyustin's art: More About Movements in the 
Raskol, also in I. Liprandi's contribution to the Proceedings of 
the Imperial Society of Antiquaries of Russia, for 1870, Vol. 2. 
Another author notes how the majority of dissidents used in 
their hymns such words as ' Vouchsafe to true believers victory 
over all opposition.' ^ But the so-called Stranniki or Wanderers 
were the leading propagandists of an intransigent attitude 
towards the Imperial Government, and accused those of their 
co-rehgionists who prayed for the Tsar of gross inconsistency 
with their principles, inasmuch as victory for the Government 
meant victory of devil and Antichrist.^ And another writer, 
I. Dobrotvorski, has justly remarked: ^ "Among the Priestless 
dissenters the behef in Antichrist colours their view of all that 
appertains to the State, of its laws, of its judicial procedure, 
of everything that reminds them of Authority, in a word of 
all governmental usages. The stamp of Antichrist is on it all; 
and it is all equally hateful to the Raskolniks, all equally 
impregnated with anti-Christian spirit. Some of them, no 
doubt, are less extreme than others and only go half-way, but 
the leaven has been there always and is ever at work." 

The elementary intellectual independence of the Bezpopovtsy 
was shewn in their repudiation 'in case of need' of everything 
in Holy Scripture that conflicted with their religious aspira- 
tions. Antichrist has annihilated the genuine priesthood, 
therefore they have none. "This," they cried, "is the last 
age, in which everyone must judge for himself what is best." ^ 

^ Istina for 1875, Vol. 38: ^Internal Disputes among the Dissidents.' 

2 Vestnik Europy, 1871, No. 1, art. by Rozov, p. 287. 

3 Orthodox Review, 1862, Ft. 1, p. 386. 

* T. Tverdynski, Discussions of orthodox principles ivith old ritvxilists, p. 437. 


The Church, they hold, is an union of the faithful, and can 
dispense, if need be, with a hierarchy for the best of reasons, 
to wit, because it has Christ himself for its head. A priestless 
believer wiU point his finger to his own breast and say: ''Here 
is the true Church, here, in my heart ! Not in the timbers of a 
church, but in my ribs." The Apostle Paul wrote: ''Ye are 
the temple of the Uving God," according to the divine utter- 
ance: "I will dwell in them etc." ^ In them therefore is ful- 
filled the teaching that every man is a temple of God not built 
with hands, that in each of us God lives and gives ear to the 
heart's prayers.^ You can hear the Bezpopovtsy to-day using 
such words as: 'I am the Church.' ^ 

Opinion on Priesthood and Sacraments 

There are even Bezpopovtsy, according to the Hegumen Paul, 
who maintain that "the priesthood itself and the Sacraments 
of the Eucharist and of anointing with Chrism are innovations. 
They declare that in the earUest age they never existed and 
were all introduced by Nikon. Before his date there was 
nothing but what the Bezpopovtsy now possess, namely an 
order of teachers, whom they also call popes." ^ This opinion, 
remarks Uzov, which seems merely absurd to the hegumen Paul, 
rests nevertheless on firm historical facts. Before Nikon's 
age the relations of clergy to people were not what they are 
to-day. "The parish churches in Russia had long been 
accustomed to see in their priests elected representatives of the 
people's will. At the close of the XlVth Century they were 
judged by laymen even in ecclesiastical matters, each parish 
instituted any particular priest it preferred, and his election 
depended on his receiving from the Commune a diploma of 
approval to which the parishioners must subscribe their names." 

Moreover, it is notorious, writes Andreev in his work on the 
Raskol and its significance in popular Russian history (pp. 93, 

* T. Tverdynski, Discussions of orthodox principles with Old ritualists, p. 115. 
2 Istina, 1874, bk. 35: Propaganda of Truth in See of Pskov, p. 3. 

•■' Hegumen Paul : Description of a Tour among Litovski (Lithuanian) Old-believ- 
era in 1869-70, p. 20. 

* Op. cit. p. 18. 


94, 95, 135, 136), that "in the pre-Muscovite period Novgorod 
often transacted its ecclesiastical affairs without the benedic- 
tions of hierarchical authorities. Their spiritual lords Arsen- 
ius and Theodosius were never consecrated by any higher 
church authority; popular choice, it is clear, was of more 
importance in their eyes than consecration by a metropoUtan 
or patriarch. Even as late as the beginning of the XVIIth 
Century in central Russia the priesthood was an elective dig- 
nity; in Pskov and its neighbourhood in 1685 as many as 160 
churches were in the hands of peasants, who, without recog- 
nizing archpriest or bishop, paid the priests whatever presti- 
mony or annual stipend they liked. Of old the parishioners 
regarded the church as an appanage of their own." 

In that age and even later on the inhabitants of Pomor often 
dispensed altogether with a priest. Accordingly Barsov relates 
"that the people of that region finding it not infrequently 
impossible to visit their parish churches by reason of want of 
good roads and the great distances, confined themselves to 
building oratories in which all the services, except the liturgy, 
were performed by any common person. This explains why the 
laity of Northern Pomor so easily asserted themselves in 
ecclesiastical affairs, regarding them as no less the concern of 
villagers and local authorities than of the clergy. Individual 
village communities, for example, in the revolutionary epoch, 
with the consent of their zemstvos or county councils, under- 
took certain arrangements on their own initiative, drew up 
rehgious rules and regulations. When, later on, the insti- 
tution of the popes by the people on the spot, by peasants and 
even by serfs, was declared irregular by the canons of the 
church authorities, and strict ukases were issued dealing with 
candidates for ordination and registers to the newly appointed 
popes and deacons, — then the clergy began at once to lose their 
moral influence and power over the zemstvos in the Pomor 
region; conversely the latter began to sit loose to clergy and 
church, began to trust more in the intellectual and religious 
influence of the learned than in that of the popes. In this 
condition of things we have, in fine, one of the main reasons, 
if not the main reason why in the Pomor region the priestless 


Raskol spread with such rapidity." ^ Ivanovski, we saw, takes 
a similar view. 

When the Raskol began in the XVIIth Century its teachers 
had none of them any idea of abandoning priesthood and sacra- 
ments. It was only gradually that circumstances reconciled 
them, at first to dispensing with them at need, and later on 
to abandoning them altogether, and adopting the idea that 
every man is a priest. This truth was fully enunciated early 
in the XlXth Century by Nicephor Petrov: ''all are on a 
level; for pastors we have no use; all have received one and 
the same cheirotonia (laying on of hands); Confession also 
should consist in the taking of counsel with the inner self and 
not in the power to remit sins." ^ In 1841 Sidor Kutkin 
"preached in the Kurlyandski (Courland) Government, that 
any and every Raskolnik may himself fulfil the needs of the 
Church without having to resort to elder or teacher." ^ Such 
teaching was widespread within thirty years, and in 1875 the 
teachers of the sect, if asked on what ground they regarded 
themselves as pastors, would reply with a text from the Apoc- 
alypse: "He created us to be kings and priests." ^ At other 
times they would answer: "The Mir (village commune) has 
chosen us as pastors." When Paul the hegumen objected that 
this was not enough, and that Divine Ordination by means of 
prayers appointed to that end was necessary, he was met with 
the answer: "The voice of the People is the voice of God." ^ 

In the discussions held in the Government of Pskov the Bez- 
popovtsy also declared as follows: "Among us today exists the 
priesthood of Melchizedek; every man is his own priest." ^ 

The author of a work entitled Ritualists of the Church Hier- 
archy (the Orthodox are meant) writes: "The spiritual sacra- 
mental Priesthood of Christ belongs to every Christian, who 
has hallowed himself with the gifts of the Holy Spirit." ^ In 

^ Nikolai Barsov, The brothers Andrew and Semen Denisov, p. 41-2. 

2 Vestnik Evropy, 1871, No. 4, art. by Kostomarov, p. 531. 

3 Orth. Review, 1865, No. 3, Art. by A. Veskinski. 

* This text is ever on the tip of a Raskolnik's tongue. 

" Bratskoe Slovo (Brotherly Word), 1875, bk. 2. Journal of Hegumen Paul, p. 123. 

' Istina, 1873, Bk. 35, Preaching of the Truth in Pskov, p. 7. 

' Edifying Readings, 1870, pt. 1, Art. by the Priest Paul. 


another work entitled: Doctrine of the Christian Church about 
the Keys, it is shewn that the Keys of Priesthood belong not 
only to ordained persons, but to the whole Church, which can 
therefore very well exist without any priesthood at all. This 
is quoted in a ''description of sundry works written by the 
Russian Raskolniks for use of the Raskol," among the memoirs 
(zapiski) of Alexander B. pt. 2, p. 332. 

Renunciation of priesthood carried with it that of most 
of the sacraments; and the Bezpopovtsy, as we saw, were 
left with baptism and penance only, because these could 
be administered by laymen. "Jesus Christ," they argued, 
"commanded many of his apostles to baptize without their 
possessing priesthood, and apostolic perfection is attained, 
not by a graduated hierarchical promotion, but by moral 
improvement, purity of heart and freedom from passion." ^ 

We see how the lack of a priesthood gradually awakened the 
mind of the majority of the Raskol to the truth that every man 
is a priest, and this step in religious reasoning has inevitably 
led to a new idea of the sacrament of communion. Accord- 
ingly it is commonly urged among them to-day that "a man 
who lives by the sweat of his brow, communicates every day 
of his life." ^ " If I live a good life, then I am saved even with- 
out communicating in the holy mysteries.^ Live you a Ufe of 
good works, they say to the orthodox, and God will not for- 
sake you; only set your hope on communion with him.'* Com- 
munion is reached in a life that imitates Christ's, according to 
his saying: If a man loveth me and keepeth my word, my 
Father will love him and come unto him and make his dwelhng 
in him." ^ It is the merit of the Bezpopovtsy to have seen 
this truth, when they appeal to Augustine's saying that he 
who eats his meal with faith already communicates in the 
divine mystery. Let a man, they say, but sit down to meat 
after a prayer, and cross himself before he begins to eat, and 

1 Ibid. pp. 115, 117. 

2 Ibid. 1871, No. 7, art. of Hegumen Paul 143-5. 

3 Ibid. 

* Istina,lS70, bk. 15: Conversations with Bezpopovtsy of the monk Prokopius, 
p. 58. 

^ Edifying Readings, 1870, pt. 1: Art. of the Priest Paul, p. 170. 


then his common bread shall be for him the equivalent of holy 

In exempUfication of this con\dction Uzov reproduces a 
fragment of a conversation between an orthodox priest and 
a Bezpopovets elder as follows : — 

Elder: Here you see my church {leading the way to his cottage). 
Priest: And how do you communicate in this pretended church 

of yours? 
Elder: {pointing to his homely table): There we have our 

altar, at which we communicate day by day. 
Priest: And how can you communicate at this table? 
Elder: How? In what? Surely in the bread of Christ. 
Behold the bread that Christ has given us.^ 

The scene reminds us of much in early Christian literatiu-e of 
the /cXao-t? a/arou' Breaking of Bread,' of the Acts and Epistles; 
of that ancient Teaching of the Apostles in which the Lord's 
Prayer was used as the prayer for the consecration of the 
Eucharistic meal; reminds us also of the fact, attested by 
Socrates the historian, that still in the IVth Century in parts 
of Egypt the eucharistic rite was celebrated by a layman, the 
head of a household, sitting with his family round his own 
table; of the fact, attested in the 'invectives' of a Byzantine 
Churchman against the Armenians, that the same pristine sim- 
plicity still prevailed in primitive Christian circles among them. 
Late into the Middle Ages, as the Inquisitors' records prove, 
the Cathars consecrated their Eucharist by repeating, before 
they partook of the sacred food, the Lord's Prayer and no more. 
Under stress of Orthodox persecution the Bezpopovtsy have 
wandered back unwittingly into a paleontological phase of the 
Christian Church. 

The Bezpopovtsy take up an equally free and unconven- 
tional attitude towards other Sacraments, and betray no little 
agiUty in finding scriptural texts to bear them out, and where 
they cannot find any, leap Ughtly over the letter, to shield them- 
selves behind the necessities of an age in which .\ntichrist 
dominates the world. 

' From the Priest Paul, Edifying Readings, 1870, pt. 1, p. 170. 
^ Istina, 1868, bk. 6, Vsyachina (Miscellany). 


Uzov admirably summarizes the religious development of 
the Raskol during the XlXth Century in these words : "March- 
ing under the banner of Holy Scripture, at the same time admit- 
ting a 'higher' or spiritual interpretation, they are little by 
little reforming and recasting their outlook on the world, are 
drawing ever nearer and nearer to religious rationahsm. They 
are as a rule condemned for their slavish adherence to the letter, 
to ritual, to forms, as compared with the rest of the populace 
that remains orthodox. This is a huge mistake, based on the 
tactics formerly — and still occasionally — followed by them 
in their assaults on orthodoxy. They began by finding fault 
with the orthodox because the latter used three fingers in 
crossing themselves instead of two, because they used the 
spelling lesus instead of Isus, used a four-cornered cross instead 
of an eight-cornered one, repeated the Alleluiah thrice instead 
of twice; reduced the seven prosphorae or wafers of the Uturgy 
to five, and so forth. We must not overlook this, that such 
argumentation was fashioned in an age when the supreme 
shepherds of the Orthodox Chiu-ch had anathematized the 
Raskolniks for adhering to these trifling points of ritual, stig- 
matized the two-fingered signature as an Armenian jest, denied 
that Isus could be a title of God, because in Greek it means 
equal {ia-o<;), and so on. The Raskolniks successfully as- 
sailed the Orthodox on such points, and they attained their 
object, which was separation from the Orthodox Church and 
independence of the orthodox clergy. The latter left nothing 
undone to keep up a purely rituaUst antagonism; for example 
in an Ukase of the Holy Synod of May 15, 1722, we read among 
other things the following: ' If there beany who while obeying 
Holy Church and accepting all her sacraments, nevertheless in 
signing themselves with the Cross employ two fingers instead 
of three, no matter whether they do this with the subtilty of 
opponents or out of ignorance or out of obstinacy, all such shall 
be inscribed in the Raskol and regarded as nothing else.' " ^ 

In the past the orthodox clergy, no less than the Raskolniks, 
were characterized by an excessive adherence to the letter, 
by extreme formalism; but in any case this characteristic was 

' Collection oj ordinances a^ touching Raskol, bk. 1, p. 33. 


less developed in the Raskolnik than in the orthodox clergy, as 
is shewn by later history. To-day it is the turn of the ortho- 
dox to find fault with the Raskolniks, not for their insistence on 
the letter, but for the wrongheaded Uberties they assume in 
interpreting Scripture. The vast majority of them, consisting 
of Bezpopovtsy, are beginning, as we have seen, to champion 
the rights of private judgment and freedom of interpreta- 
tion. Among them a book circulates, in which the Orthodox 
^re termed 'the rituaUsts of the Church hierarchy,' a sign that 
they regard hierarchy as a vice in the Orthodox. "Almost 
^11 the Bezpopovtsy sects allow, like the Protestants, complete 
Uberty of research, and base their teaching not upon tradition, 
but upon logic and reasoning." ^ "So called orthodox faith," 
has remarked one of the Bezpopovtsy, "is an appurtenance of 
the Crown and Treasury, an official badge. It rests on no 
basis of real life or sincere conviction, but just does duty as a 
Government weapon for the defence of order." ^ 

The Hegumen Paul also reports a conversation he held with 
Markian Gerasimov, a hermit who wielded a great influence in 
liis circle of Dissenters and who told him in a discussion that, 
in his opinion, we have no need to believe in an ink-written 
volume of the Gospel, such as belonged to Father Paul, even if 
it did belong to the time (c. 1609) of the Patriarch Hermogenes. 
It was better to believe in the volume of the Gospel which is 
stored up in the heart, and he called Father Paul a necroman- 
<cer,^ by reason of his adherence to the dead letter. 

The germs of such opinions had made their appearance long 
before. Thus early in the 18th century Hierotheus, a member 
of the Anufrievski (Onufrius) sect of Old believers, put together 
on the basis of Avvakima's writings twenty-five points of which 
the tenth runs thus: — "To venerate the Gospel story, because 
it is written down in ink, smacks of the manners of the Tartar." 
And when the rest of the Old believers of Kerzhen (his own sect 
excepted) asked for proofs from holy writ, he, along with those 
who shared his views, instead of furnishing them, answered: 

1 Kelsiev, Sbornik, vol. 1, p. viii. 

2 Russian Archive, 1866, No. 4, art. by I. Aksakov, p. 633. 

3 Bratskoe Slovo, 1876, bk. 2, M. Makarov, p. 156. 


''You are gross minds and do not understand how to handle 
the Scriptures." This is related by Esipov in his work on the 
Raskolniks of the 18th century, vol. 2, p. 236. 

A talented teacher of the Stranniki (Pilgrim or Wan- 
derer) Sect, Nicetas Semenov Kiselev, remarked to a certain 
Kosharin, ''that the reasons given for separating from the 
Church indicated in the Pomorski Responses were, in his j udg- 
ment at least, insufficient; for there existed others incompar- 
ably weightier, but unknown to the ancestors of the Old 
believers." ^ He taught that "the cross of endurance, borne 
by the pilgrims, which cross is the strannitchestvo or wandering 
hfe itself, is weightier than the Cross of Christ, and that by it 
alone the sins of humanity are redeemed and atoned for." 

K. Nadezhdin in 1866 deplored the infidehty and atheism of 
the Bezpopovtsy in general, and stated that "it had gone so far 
of late years as to reject the pure and life-giving cross on which 
Christ suffered for our redemption. They refused to bow down 
before it and abused it, calling it a log of wood like any other 
log."^ Another observer summarizes their teaching thus: — "It 
is indubitable that Antichrist came long ago, so that by now 
all divine promises about the Church are made vain and at an 
end. We are living in the age to come, thai is, in the new heavens 
and new earth. The resurrection of the dead is past, or rather it 
is incessantly being accompUshed in each of us according to the 
degree of his merit and piety." ^ Such an outlook is no unique 
case. Thus in a " conversation which was held in the stanitsa 
or Cossack Colony of Ust-Medveditskaya, the Bezpopovtsy 
defended their way of living without any divinely established 
sacraments by the following argument among others. They 
said that in accordance with St. Peter's prediction (II Peter 
III. 7.) the heaven, by which they understand the Church, is 
already consumed by fire, and the elements, meaning the sacra- 
ments, are abolished, so that they are now living in the new 
heavens." ^ 

These opinions, says Uzov, that we are Uving "in a new 

' Contemporary Chronicles (Sovrem. Letopis), 1868, No. 16. 

2 Orthodox Review, 1866, No. 7, p. 317. 

3 Orthodox Convers. 1869, No. 10, art. by N. I., p. 130. 

^ Bratskoe Slovo, 1876, bk. 2, Chronicle of Raskol Events, p. 226. 


heaven," and that all "the promises of God" are ab-eady ful- 
filled and so forth, reveal the range of the individual believer's 
speculation and feelings. All that was written by EvangeUsts 
and other holy men refers to the past; in the present the 
individual believer's conscience constitutes the sole norm of 
what is right. Orthodox missionaries of to-day find themselves 
confronted with a mental attitude which they can only describe 
by saying that the peasants of a particular village openly 
avow their disbeUef in a future life.'^ 

^ Moscow See's News-letter, 1874, p. 161. 



The question of marriage has rent asunder the Priestless or 
Bezpopovtsy society from the very first, with the result that 
there are two groups among them, each numbering millions of 
souls, one known as the married, the other as the marriageless 
(bezbrachniki) . It is evident — as Uzov remarks — that 
an agricultiu"al population cannot renounce the institution and 
essay to Uve, men and women together, as brother and sister. 
Notwithstanding so obvious a truth, a polemic has raged for two 
centuries among these good people about the matter and gen- 
erated an infinity of tracts for or against marriage, and the 
issue seems as far as ever from being settled by any common 
agreement. Both parties of course appeal to Scripture, but, 
after all, as the Bezpopovtsy are not brutish, ignorant people, 
besotted with antiquated superstitions, we shall err if we dis- 
miss their various solutions as unworthy of serious study, the 
more so as their conception of the place of woman in the social 
scheme is involved. 

Marriage Among the Stranniki 

"The Society of the Beguny," says Shchapov," ^ has eman- 
cipated — as have certain other Bezpopovtsy communities — 
the poor woman from the position she occupied of a chattel, 
imprisoned as it were and restricted to a Ufe of unending toil"; 
they have raised her to one *'in which she is as fundamentally 
important in the Society as the man." ^ In places where the 
influence of the Beguny has made itself deeply felt it is become 
impossible to speak to wife or daughters rudely, or even to 
reprove them in a boorish fashion. The man who did so would 

» Vremya, 1862, No. 11, p. 280. 

^ The Raskol and its Significance in popular Russian History, p. 251. 



be left without housekeeper or companion to help him in his 
daily toil.^ 

A member of the priestless sect has described the true posi- 
tion which belongs to women, "Family life," he writes,^ "is 
based on the consciousness of mutual love in husband and wife, 
of their equahty of rights in every enterprise. All this involves, 
as all know, mutual aid in counsel, and is the reward of the 
natural capacities of both. The wife must not claim to give 
up the task of bearing children and bringing them up in order 
to become a knight errant. She must not abandon the cares 
that centre in her children, and set out to interest herself in the 
remote ties and interests of nations or of trade. So on his side 
the husband cannot claim to bear children or bring them up 
or look after the household, to the abandonment of pubUc and 
industrial matters. In all this they must both keep to the 
balance prescribed by nature; and the true path leading ta 
mutual life is loving counsel in all enterprises." The same 
author contrasts the positions which woman occupies among 
the infidels (he means the upper classes), among religious 
people (the poorer but Orthodox population), and in his own 
Society respectively. In the first she is a target of vain infidel 
fancies: in the second she is an unfortunate servile creature, 
condemned to perpetual subjection by man: in the third cate- 
gory, that of the Raskol, which he terms orthodoxy, she is the 
precious helpmate of the man and the half of his soul. Among 
them she is no victim consecrated to pleasure, as she is among 
infidels, but is reverenced as the half of the human race, and is 
treated with the deference which the honest love of a true 
believer and a pure well-regulated relationship inspire. The 
infidel does not regard woman from the point of view of her 
moral beauty, for he does not look forward to a lifelong union 
with her and to the requirements of a well-ordered family Ufe; 
he only thinks of her outward beauty as an object for the grati- 
fication of his lusts, and only courts her until it is extinguished, 
and no longer. 

^ Kelsiev, Sbornik, iv, 161. 

^ Istina, 1867. Art. Fruit of Life, pub. in Johanisburg. Those who know 
Russia must accuse the writer of considerable exaggeration. 


Varieties of Opinion among the Bezpopovtsy. 

Various solutions are met with among the Bezpopovtsy 
of the marriage problem, but all agree in regarding the sexes 
as having equal rights one with the other. 

Those among them who retain marriage argue that where na 
priest is to be found marriages may be celebrated without any 
clerical rite; at the same time marriage is a sacrament, holy, 
ordained by God, and upheld by Christ.^ The sacrament of 
wedlock was created by God, but the ceremony of crowning is 
an invention of the civil powers.^ True marriage consists not 
in crown and prayer, but in the dispositions and inclinations 
of bride and bridegroom. Priestly rites do not make a mar- 
riage, but mutual and eternal concord of man and wife.^ 

In our opinion, they say, it is enough if father and mother 
bless their child's union with anyone and if the couple Uve 
a godly Ufe, that renders the marriage legitimate. The 
paternal blessing is precious above everything; and in this 
connection they point out that the Patriarchs, for example 
Abraham and others, were not married after the manner of the 
Church with aid of popes; and yet no one can say that they 
Uved with their wives illegally.^ Already in 1838 the marrying 
sect of the Government of Kostroma took young women to 
wife merely with the assent of the parents, for which reason 
they were known as 'self-binders,' and in doing so they fol- 
lowed the example of their co-religionists of the Vyatka 

We can conclude from such passages that the married sect of 
Bezpopovtsy, while denying the necessity that the sacrament 
of marriage should be performed by a priest, equally assert 
the essence of the sacrament to consist in an agreement of the 
parties to the marriage, in their consent to a perpetual union, 

1 Istina, 1873, March, April. 

^ Among the People of Ancient Piety, Y. Stebnitsi, 2nd. ed. p. 17. 

3 Notes (zapiski) of Alexander B. Pt. 2, p. 305. The Crown is the nuptial 
wreath kept in an Orthodox Church and laid on the head of the bride and bride- 
groom by the Pope before the altar. 

* Conversations of orthodox priest, with Old helievers, by Tverdynski, pp. 322-4. 

* Christian Readings, 1869, No. 6, Art. by Nilsld, p. 895. 


and that they regard the will or intention to contract the mar- 
riage as sufficient consecration of their union. While reject- 
ing the rites of the Church, held by the Church essential to 
any marriage, this sect preserves the substance of Church 
teaching, that is to say the perpetuity of the marriage union. 

There is great difficulty in getting at the truth about the 
family Ufe of these people owing to the calumnies spread abroad 
about them either wilfully or from pure ignorance by Russian 
publicists. When I first visited Russia in 1881 in. company 
with the late Mr. WiUiam John Birkbeck, and made inquiry, 
I was told that the Government was tolerant of the Old 
believers as a whole, but drew the Une at those sects which 
rejected marriage and lived promiscuously. It never occurred 
to me at the time that what they really rejected was the Church 
ceremony and sacrament of marriage, with which, having no 
priests nor being allowed to have any by the Government, 
they had no choice but to dispense. Most students of the 
Raskol, says Uzov, have maintained that the marriageless 
group of the Priestless ones reject the institution of the family 
and affect asceticism. The sectaries, he points out, are them- 
selves largely to blame for this, because they use words, not 
in their natural and ordinary sense, but in an artificial one of 
their own. This has led investigators to argue as if the funda- 
mental principle of their doctrine was the preservation of 
'virginity.' If it were really so, they would eschew family 
life and Uve as monks and nuns, which they certainly do not. 
The problem is no doubt obscured by the way in which they 
preach 'virginity' as a religious ideal, and yet accompany 
the teaching with permission to men and women to "love one 
another" as they Uke, so long as they do not marry.^ The 
obvious inference is that, under the cloak of asceticism they 
practice debauchery and go about to destroy all family imions; 
yet the inference is wholly wrong. 

The requirement of 'virginity' is usually based by these 
sectaries on the circumstance that "the hands of priests have 
crumbled into dust," in other words, no priests survive to 

^ i.e. in a Nikonian Church. See Family Life in the Raskol, by Nilski, Pt. 2, 
p. 83. 


perform the rite of marriage. No man or woman therefore 
can any more be 'married' in the old sense, and all must remain 
to that extent luimarried or technically 'virgins'; but this 
does not preclude the existence broadcast among them of 
permanent family unions. Uzov raises the question why, 
as they allow laymen to celebrate sacraments of baptism and 
penance, they do not allow them equally to celebrate marriage, 
and continue to regard it as a sacrament. That they do not 
is apparently due to the exigencies of debate and discussion of 
the matter with other rival sects. In such debates it has been 
customary with both sides to make the Bible the referee — 
though not always; for one of the sect, Ilia Alexieiev KovyUn,^ 
defending his position against the marrying sect, who recog- 
nize the legitimacy and sacramental character of marriages con- 
tracted later than 1666, is said to have exclaimed: "I will not 
accept from you any bookish evidence, so do not quote to me 
the seven ecumenical councils or the nine local ones, or the 
apostolic canons. If you do I shall answer you that even if 
Christ descended with the angels from heaven and bade me 
accept in my communion such 'new' marriages, I would reply 
to him: I won't Usten to you, Christ." This elegant extract 
is from a debate on the subject of marriage held between the 
Bezpopovtsy of the Transfiguration Cemetery and the members 
of the Pokrovski oratory in Moscow, cited by K. Nadezhdin, 
oj). cit. p. 38. 

There have been, says Uzov, among the section of the Raskol 
that rejects marriage, plenty of teachers who preached and 
practised the monastic ideal; but it is certain that they never 
led opinion nor lead it now. The mass of adherents formed 
family unions from the first without attending to them. 
They listened rather to such of their teachers as, xmder the 
emblem or cloak of 'virginity,' inculcated among the people 
the form of family Ufe to which they aspire in obedience to their 
instinctive feelings for freedom and independence. The 
' marriageless ' sectary may not approve of unions concluded 
for the whole of life, but find it a bm-den. He aspires to 
another type of conjugal relationship, a type which more 

^ President of the Preobrazhenski cemetery in Moscow. He died in 1808. 


nearly approximates to the ancient Slavonic free union, dis- 
soluble by the will of either party. He has scanty regard for 
the Byzantine type of family which has only gained currency 
in Russia during the last few centuries. He does not derive 
his notions of family obUgations and felicity from the canon 
law, but from hving principles engrained in the character of 
the people. But at the same time that he insists on family 
freedom, he is far from discarding the family as students of 
the Raskol imagine, misled by their terminology. It all comes 
of the mistaken endeavour of the exponents of the 'marriage- 
less' doctrine to justify the life and practice of their brethren 
from Scripture, instead of basing it on sociological principles 
common to all peoples. Their teachers committed and com- 
mit this solecism of trying to find in Hebrew literature a scheme 
of social organization for their sect, because in Russia (as among 
ourselves) the religious point of view was the point of view of 
the people, who were on a plane of culture that was not ripe 
for any other mode of apprehending social phenomena. The 
Raskol teachers had no books save those of traditional Chris- 
tianity, and naturally sought in these an explanation and justi- 
fication of everything. In spite, however, of their lucubrations 
the hfe and institutions of the Raskol masses have developed 
along the lines of human nature, in accordance with the feelings 
and affections of the common man and woman. No theo- 
logical cobwebs could hamper these. In Russian upper classes 
writers scientifically trained have approached these subjects 
from a secular point of view and written books about them; 
but neither these nor the culture they represent, have yet pene- 
trated to the people, and the circumstance that they are written 
by and for a class theoretically hostile to the masses, is enough 
to hamper their circulation among the latter. 

Such is Uzov's view. Students of Greek history will recall 
the feeUng in ancient Athens against the reforms of Kleisthenes 
immediately after the Persian wars; yet all he aimed at was to 
base popular representation on arithmetic instead of upon 
tribal units descended in popular imagination from eponymous 
and legendary heroes, if not from totems. The feehng was so 
strong against touching the rehgious unit that it was left alone, 


and the deme or canton reserved for purposes of political 

In proof that the ' marriageless ' Raskol did not repudiate 
family life and unions, even long ago, when ascetic teaching 
was much more highly esteemed than it is to-day among them, 
Uzov appeals to a ' canon ' or rule of life which was in vogue in 
the Theodosian sect, by which the faithful were instructed 
"not to hold shameful the living in one house or home with 
wife, stranger and children. Even if generation be accounted 
abominable, it is yet not to be regarded as forbidden. Virgins 
who have borne children are to pass muster as virgins even if 
their offspring number fifteen. ''Let this be the rule you 
observe," runs the canon ''but do not marry on any account. 
You can always repent and do penance and become afresh 
the virgin (male or female) you were before." 

The idea of penance here involved is that which became 
normal in the Great Church towards the end of the second 
Century. According to it the sin of fornication can be atoned 
for and obhterated by confession and absolution. The sin 
being thus wiped out, the man or woman who was guilty of it 
becomes once more sinless, in other words, becomes a 'virgin' 
and chaste as before. By this device a sufficiently indulgent 
confessor can dovetail family life into the somewhat rigorous 
ideal of enthusiasts prone to beheve that with the carnal hand 
of the ordained priest the charisma, or sacramental gift of 
marriage from God has been for ever lost among men. If we 
desire proof that this controversial maintenance of virginity 
interfered Uttle with family hfe and propagation of children 
among the ' marriageless ' Bezpopovtsy, we have it in the fact 
that in the third, eighth, and tenth registers compiled and 
revised in the XVIIIth Century by Imperial authority we find 
inscribed the names not only of the wives of the 'marriageless' 
Bezpopovtsy, but of their children as well, together with the 
names of the husbands and fathers. The information on which 
these registers were based was suppUed by the sectaries them- 
selves and shows that family life was universal among them as 
far back as the time of Peter the Great. 

These considerations are necessary to correct and supple- 


ment the pages of Ivanovski, who labours under the common 
delusion that the attribution to marriage of a sacramental 
character can alone guarantee its existence and permanence. 
Yet unless people were independently and by old racial tradi- 
tion (as are most of the Indo-Germanic peoples) imbued with 
respect for the marriage union, it could not be kept sacred; 
if people had not the instinct to marry one wife and live exclu- 
sively with her, no sacramental system or theory would make 
them do so. 

Theodosius Vasilev 

Ivanovski relates that the earUest Priestless settlement at 
Vyg was founded along monastic Unes, and that it was not 
before 1696, when Theodosius Vasilev, formerly a deacon of 
Novgorod, seceded from it and formed a colony of his own 
on the northwest Hmits of Polsk or Poland, that wedlock was 
allowed, and Theodosius even then only admitted of conjugal 
relations between men and women in his colony who had been 
married before 1666. These unions, we gather, were termed 
old marriages in contrast with new marriages of a later date. 
Awakum had laid it down that, if you can get no priest to 
marry you, then you had better live single; and rather than 
break with the Pomorian communities Theodosius had refused 
to recognize other than old marriages, and would not recognize 
new ones as sacramental unions at all. After his death, says 
Ivanovski, the Theodosian congregation refused to recognize 
even old marriages. These communities were thus definitely 
committed to abrogation of marriage and chastity made 
obhgatory for all. 

But naturam expellas furca licet, usque redibit. It was not 
long before human natiu-e asserted her rights, and there were 
Raskol writers who complained loudly of the declension from 
moral standards visible both in the Vygovski desert (or hermit- 
age) and among the followers of the deceased Theodosius. 
The entire community was filled, according to the testimony of 
upholders of the monkish ideal, with fornication and obscenity. 
In order, however, to estimate aright such assertions we must 
bear in mind that the abrogation of the sacrament of marriage 


for want of priests in itself placed all relations between the 
sexes in the category of fornication in the eyes of members of 
the straiter sect. To remedy the evil, Vyschatin, a member 
of the Pomorski colony, set off to the east in hope of finding a 
genuine priest to return with him and regularize unions, but 
he failed and died abroad. 

Ivan Alexiev 

Nature and religion had in some way to be reconciled, and 
the most brilUant attempt was that of a young and energetic 
member of the Theodosian Settlement, Ivan Alexiev, who raised 
his voice against the fiction of virginity, boldly advocated 
the restitution of marriage and urged his brethren to resort to 
the Orthodox Churches for the purpose of getting married, argu- 
ing that, as heretics and even non-Christians went to be mar- 
ried in them, the faithful might do the same. 

Ivanovski remarks that this solution found favour not only 
with the 'old married' members of the Theodosian Pomorski 
colonies, but also with the 'newly married,' and gave great 
relief to both sets.^ He also records that the elders or leaders 
of the communities which Alexiev thus tried to reform, de- 
nounced him as a dangerous Ubertine and drunkard. In 1752^ 
a council of the Theodosians decided not to admit his 'newly 
married' followers to their public prayers, not to hve or eat with 
them, not to wash in the same bath, nor even admit them 
to repentance, even if they were in peril of death, not to baptize 
their children or even kiss them. Even their wives were not 
to be assisted in the throes of childbirth. This sentence was 
practically one of excommunication, but in practise it was 
abated by permission, after repentance and rebaptism, to live 
apart in the community. The result was the elimination of 
the reformed. Many, says Ivanovski, passed into other sects, 
others left their wives and chose for themselves cooks and 
so-forth as companions. This last statement that they forsook 

^ By the 'old-married' he must mean those who had sought the Sacrament 
at the hands of Orthodox priests, fugitives or others. 
^ Ace. to Macarius in 1751. 


their wives barely agrees with the canon of the Theodosian sect 
adduced by Uzov and cited by us above. 

Reading between the lines one can see that the orthodox 
historian is too anxious to magnify the role played by his 
Church in the developments of the Bezpopovtsy sect and that 
he has no such clear apprehension of the true state of affairs as 
has Uzov. It is probable that the canon adduced by the latter 
is one of those fixed by the Theodosian assembly of 1752 and 
that it was the rough handling of the semi-orthodox 'reformer' 
at this council that led him to secede and form a sect of his own 
in 1757. Of this sect Ivanovski records no further details. 
What he next relates, however, of the Pomorian elders is thor- 
oughly credible and confirms Uzov's conclusions. For he 
states that they also rejected Alexiev's reform of sending the 
faithful to get married in orthodox Churches; but that they 
were more indulgent to the 'newly married,' admitting them to 
penance for their offence and to prayers and baptizing their 
children. Obviously 'newly married' here means men and 
women who, in spite of the ideal of enforced virginity, main- 
tained regular, but non-sacramental, conjugal unions; for he 
has declared, immediately before, that marriages by orthodox 
priests were abhorred in Pomor. 

We can also well beHeve his next statement, that what was 
at first only allowed by way of exception under protest, and as a 
pis oiler in the Pomorski congregations, gradually became the 
rule, and that married life was in that society so much more 
thoroughly legitimized than among the Theodosians as to 
become in the second half of the XVIIIth Century the dividing 
line between the two. 

Paul Miliukov's account of Alexiev's contribution to the mar- 
riage controversy in his Outlines of Russian Civihzation (ed. 4, 
pt. 4, Petersb. 1905) is valuable. It took precedence, he says, 
over all other matters in dispute, not merely personal, such as 
rebaptism, prayers for the Tsar, submission to the extra taxes 
and to registration; for the austerest of the sectaries had to 
admit the impossibility of avoiding all contact between the 'fire' 
and the ' hay.' As a matter of form they continued to insist on 
male and female chastity, sexual unions being no better than 


fornication in the absence of priests and after abrogation of the 
marriage sacrament; but in practise they were reduced to 
winking at such imions. Theodosius, the scribe of the Ej-es- 
tetski village, though on other points he was more intransigent 
than Andrew Denisov (d. 1730) and had therefore forsaken the 
settlement of Vyg, forming new ones in the S. W. of the province 
of Novgorod and in Poland, was nevertheless more compUant 
in regard to marriage, and recognized as legitimate 'new' 
marriages celebrated in Nikonian chm-ches, which to his mind, 
of course, were heretical. Andrew Denisov, though addicted 
to compromise in such a matter as praying for the Tsar in his 
community on the Vyg, insisted to the end of his life on con- 
tinence. Even he, however, as we saw, was obliged to confine 
his principles to the monastery and permit unions in the sketes 
around it. 

Ivan Alexiev's remarkable work on the Sacrament of mar- 
riage only appeared in 1762, thirty-four years after he had 
first broached his solution to Andrew Denisov. In the 
interval he had busied himself collecting material and spread- 
ing his views. What in this work he chiefly insists upon is 
this, that the primitive Church never repeated the marriage 
sacrament in the case of couples who joined it after having 
been married according to the usages and formulae of other 
rehgions. It recognized therefore the vaUdity of unions con- 
tracted in other circles of faith than its own, so evincing the 
truth that the charisma of marriage is not bound up with 
the use of any particular rite. In this respect, he argued, 
holy wedlock differs from other sacraments, and he appealed 
to the Russian Greater Catechism, which defines it as a sacra- 
ment "by and in which man and wife out of pure love in their 
hearts frame an agreement and mutual vow. The agent and 
author thereof is God himself who implanted in living creatures 
the instinct to increase and multiply; and this instinct coupled 
with loving agreement between the wedded" constitutes the 
essence of the sacrament. All else, he argued, is mere formal- 
ity. The priest is only a witness to the union in behalf of the 
pubUc, and the church ceremony is at best a popular custom, 
giving popular assent thereto, ratifying it, and investing it 


with civil validity. True, in order to safeguard its durability 
marriage needs a rite, but the rite is a mere form, of later 
manifestation, in written law. The thing itself is a part 
of natural law, independent of and earUer than any cere- 
mony or rite. Here, he argues, we have a reason why the 
Bezpopovtsy Chiu-ch should, in imitation of the primitive, 
recognize a marriage celebrated in a Nikonian Church, for it is 
merely a pubhc testimony to the union, whereas the sacrament 
itself is administered by God and consummated in the mutual 
affection of man and wife. 

Such a novel argument naturally shocked extremists, but 
Alexiev defended it on the ground that the Raskol were no 
longer Uving, hke their progenitors, in the wilds of the desert. 
They were now hving in the world, and had to protect the 
young against its temptations. His work therefore marked a 
fresh stage in the reconciliation of the Dissenters with the 
actualities of life, which could only be escaped by fresh flights 
into the wilderness and even by seK-inamolation as of old. But 
the question was not settled by his book; it even became a 
more burning one than that of ritual reception among the 
Popovtsy of runaway members of the orthodox clergy. Over 
both questions the moderates were at issue with the extremists. 
The more accormnodating of the Popovtsy were approximating 
to the teaching of the dominant Church; the Priestless ones 
were in principle challenging the very bases of estabUshed 
religion and embarking on the uncharted main of free reUgious 
creation. The victory of moderation among the former on 
the point of reanointing was only a partial return to the admis- 
sion of a clergy whose orders they began by rejecting; the 
victory in the matter of marriage was a recognition of a law 
of nature behind and paramount over Church traditions and 
supposed Christian revelation. In neither case however, 
was the victory complete, but followed by fresh struggles and 
even wider breaches of unity. 

It is doubtful whether Ivanovski does not all through confuse 
cohabitation with debauchery and wilful concubinage, owing 
to his prejudice that marriage is nothing else, unless it be con- 
tracted on sacramental Unes; and the Bezpopovtsy, in so far as 


they formally rejected marriage on this very ground, while 
materially they accepted the institution, were themselves 
responsible for the confusion. Sacramental rigorism inevitably 
leads to such paradoxes in other countries than Russia. Thus 
the Protestant Churches in the eye of Latin doctors have no 
orders, no priests, and therefore no sacraments, with the pos- 
sible exception of baptism. They cannot therefore marry men 
and women; Protestant married couples to one who literally 
accepts the Latin view, are living in mere concubinage. This 
however does not prevent Catholics from living on terms of the 
closest friendship and purest charity with their Protestant 
neighbours; though they would ostracize people, whether of 
their own faith or not, who were simply living together without 
having been married in Church or before a registrar. This 
means that in spite of the rigour of their doctrines they accept 
marriages duly contracted according to the law of the State in 
which they Uve, and so far assent to the doctrine cuius regio, 
eius religio. But the Bezpopovtsy had never heard of any form 
of marriage but the sacramental and reUgious one. Under 
stress of circumstances they invented civil marriage, and 
Ivanovski and others have as Uttle right to say that they 
reject marriage and live in debauchery or concubinage as 
CathoUcs would have to say the same thing of their Protes- 
tant neighbours. 

I. A. Kovylin 

Such sacramentaUst prejudice probably colours Macarius' 
and Ivanovski 's account of the Thedosievski teacher, I. A. 
KovyUn. Owing to the tolerant policy of Catharine II this 
sect, we saw, as also the Pomorians, were allowed to establish 
centres in Moscow in the year 1771; and the Thedosievski 
colony over which Kovylin presided was, as we saw above, 
known imder the unassuming name of the Preobrazhenski or 
Transfiguration Cemetery. In spite of want of education 
Kovylin was a remarkable man whose reputation extended 
from Riga to Astrakhan, and his own adherents went on their 
knees to him and kissed his hand out of reverence. In Peters- 
burg as in Moscow his interest and influence extended far 


beyond his own religious circle. He was true to the tenets of 
the founder of his sect Theodosius Vasilev, in that he con- 
demned marriage, carrying his prejudice against it so far, 
according to Ivanovski, as to condemn as lecherous unions ' old 
marriages,' i.e. marriages contracted in the Nikonian Church, 
of which, as savouring of Antichrist, Kovylin would naturally 
not approve. At the same time, says Ivanovski, Kovyhn was 
most severe "upon the violations of moral purity inseparable 
from the obligation not to marry." Until his time (1776) these 
declensions had been regarded in the sect as deplorable inci- 
dents requiring healing treatment. But the fact that in- 
numerable persons had taken shelter in his asylum or hospital 
settlement who had been married in that church seems to have 
driven Kovyhn to adopt a new point of view. He was merci- 
less to those caught flagrante delicto, in open sin, but lenient 
and consoling to those who knew how to conceal their sins, and 
so he connived at their secret immorality. ''Sin conunitted 
in secret, is in secret to be judged. Without sin there is no 
penitence, and without penitence, no salvation. In paradise 
are many sinners, but no heretics." Such is the express teach- 
ing which Ivanovski attributes to Kovyhn, accusing him of 
replacing the moral obligation of chastity by the doctrine that 
people in view of the denial of married life had a moral license 
to sin, only encouraging his chartered libertines to become 
hypocrites as well. He adds — what is incredible — that 
Kovyhn's followers were shocked at their leader's cynicism, 
and yet adopted his conviction that casual and secret unions 
were better morally and reUgiously than open and avowed 
married Ufe, because the hero of gallant adventures sins and 
repents, while the avowed husband and wife complacently 
acquiesce in their open and avowed sin. This recalls the doc- 
trine that wedlock is the mains adulterium, put forward by the 
Cathars, who, Uke the early Christian Encratites, condemned all 
sexual unions licit or illicit. 

It is, however, easy to discern that all Kovyhn was really 
guilty of was a desperate attempt to reconcile the innocent 
needs of human society with the sacramentahst conception of 
marriage which the Raskol had carried in its bosom into exile. 


He was not advising his followers to live promiscuously and sin 
the more in order that grace might the more abound. There 
were, no doubt, fanatics inside the sect who condemned all 
sexual unions as being impossible and wrong in the absence of 
genuine priests who should sacramentally consecrate them; 
and in Moscow, Petersburg and other cities in which Catharine 
II had allowed the sect to settle, there were plenty of orthodox 
critics ready to accuse the Raskolniks of debauchery, because 
they contracted unions which could not, even from the Raskol 
point of view, much less from their own, be termed marriages. 
Kovylin may perhaps have advised his followers not to expose 
themselves to orthodox attacks, more than they need, by flaunt- 
ing their non-sacramental unions before the eyes of their ortho- 
dox neighbours. That he applied the sacrament of penance to 
help his followers out of the reHgious dilemma in which they 
found themselves and to soothe the perplexed consciences of the 
weaker brethren among them, — that much we can safely 
gather from Ivanovski's uncertain paragraphs, but no more. 

New marriages in the sect were not, as might be supposed, 
those for celebration of which the sectaries repaired, according 
to the counsels of Ivan Alexiev (1750), to orthodox churches; 
the so-called 'newly married,' were rather those who regarded 
themselves as married in spite of the circumstance that real 
priesthood had come to an abrupt end in 1666, those, namely, 
of the sectaries who held with the Apostle that "marriage is 
holy and the wedding couch undefiled." Two bourgeois 
members of the Pokrovski Oratory (as the Pomorski called an 
establishment which Catharine allowed them to found in 
Moscow about 1770), bearing the names Vasili Emelyanov 
and Gabriel Skachkov, drew from the Apostle's very sensible 
doctrine of wedlock the corollary that it might be celebrated 
not by priests alone but by laymen as well, in the same way 
that laymen could confer baptism and admit their brethren to 
repentance after confession of their sins. 

This was a beneficent reform, for it removed from Pomorski 
unions the stigma of being irreligious. It was, as Ivanovski 
says, "a great step in the development of Bezpopovtsy doc- 
trine," but such an innovation startled the Vygovski conmiun- 


ity of the Pomorskis and they challenged Emelyanov to justify 
it. Their elders adhered to the old sacramental prejudice and 
Emelyanov submitted to their decision for a time; but when 
Catharine II granted civil rights to the Old believers and they 
took to hving in cities, the need to regularize the situation was 
felt so acutely by the whole Pomorski sect that the Vygovski 
authorities gave in to him. 

The new compromise was, according to Ivanovski, this: 
Marriage unions were legitimately contracted, if the bride and 
bridegroom agreed to join their lives indissolubly. The 
approval and blessing of their parents was essential, and the 
wedding was accompanied with prayers and hymns expressly 
composed. This rule was adopted by the Pomorski of Moscow 
and presently by those of Pomor, Archangel and elsewhere, 
and all schism was thus avoided on the question — a splendid 
victory of common-sense. Ivanovski is right in saying that 
hereby the Pomorski had really elaborated a new sacrament. 
He gives an interesting picture of the circimistances of such 
weddings, under the impression apparently that they were 
peculiar to this sect. Matchmakers were sent in advance to the 
bride's house, the bridegroom's visits and handshakings were 
arranged, and the betrothed interchanged their rings. Then 
each party promised to accept the other for life, and finally the 
union was celebrated by the Elder in the chapel or oratory. 

The Theodosian sect, however, in KovyUn's settlement, 
seems to have adhered to their old view of 'no popes, no mar- 
riages,' a dictum of Awakum, reminding us in form at least of 
Disraeli's answer to a latitudinarian Anglican divine who, 
aspiring no less to livings than to immortal life, solicited a fat 
deanery at his hands. His answer was : No dogma, no deans. 
In Moscow the representatives of the two sects seems to have 
sustained a lively polemic on the subject, each being anxious 
to secure its predominance in the Bezpopovtsy world, and the 
Theodosian sect who owned the Bezpopovtsy cemetery made 
themselves disagreeable to their rivals who shared it with them 
and lacked one of their own. Kovyhn relegated them to a 
damp comer of it where their graves were flooded. At times 
the Pomorski were not allowed into it, and found that the 


rigorous adherents of sacramental marriage took the plaques 
on which were inscribed their epitaphs as well as their crosses, 
and used them as fuel. In the end they had to summon to 
their aid the police of Antichrist. 

It is possible that Ivanovski exaggerates the petty bickerings 
between the two groups; but he allows that KovyUn was so 
struck towards the end of his life by the triumph of priestless 
marriage among the Pomorksi as to relax his ascetic ideal and 
consent to couples married before they were rebaptized and 
joined his sect living together in 'chastity,' i.e. as "virgins," 
only punishing their breaches of chastity and childbirth by a 
short term of penance. 

In Petersburg, then the Theodosian teachers already during 
Kovylin's lifetime winked at quasi-matrimonial unions and 
raised no difficulty about baptizing the offspring of them; after 
his death his followers did the same. They continued to regard 
non-sacramental marriage as an evil to be tolerated, a com- 
promise between the inculcation of celibacy for all and the 
exigencies of human life. The Thedosievski wife is a wife 
before the world, but before God a fornicatress. She was 
formerly known among the sectaries, not as a wife, but as 
housekeeper, manageress, cook, companion, hostess — occupy- 
ing therefore very much the same position as was held in the 
middle ages by the priests' concubines, when the priests 
enjoyed every imaginable license so long only as they did not 
marry. The Thedosievski couples also, according to Maca- 
rius and Ivanovski, are not full members of the congregation; 
they are admitted nowadays to divine service, but only given 
a place behind the congregation, and instead of joining in the 
prayers, only allowed to listen to them. When the Elder 
censes the congregation, they do not hold out their hands to 
catch the perfume, like the faithful; in a word they are treated 
as half beUevers, half excommunicates, as auditores or peni- 
tents in the early church. For the sin of child-birth the wife 
is subjected to penance or iiriTiixia- except in grave sickness 
they are not admitted to confession, and then have to promise 
not to cohabit any more. 

Ivanovski describes the peculiar and original type of mar- 


riage formerly in vogue in this sect, and seems to regard it as 
due to the fact that marriage is only tolerated among them, 
is on suffrance only as a concession to human weakness. By 
common convention the men, he says, carried off the girl from 
her parents to their own dwelling; sometimes the girls ran away 
themselves carrying with them goods belonging to their parents. 
The latter as a rule were quite prepared for this, but pretended 
to know nothing about it, and went through the form of 
making out that it was done against their will. The end of it 
all was that the parents of bride and bridegroom met and 
agreed about the dowry, and then went to their respective 
homes. Nowadays the matter is conducted more simply; 
the marriage festivities are openly held, to the exclusion of 
course of religious rites, though in cases there is a blessing of the 
young couple by the ikons. 

Tolstoy has given us a charming picture of a peasant wedding 
which no doubt is identical in outline with these; and it is 
recognized that the old institution of marriage by capture has 
left numerous survivals on Russian soil. The ceremonies, 
therefore, ascribed by Ivanovski to the Thedosievski sect are 
not peculiar to it, but are racy of the soil. 

The Present Situation 

The Bezpopovtsy have thus arrived at a double solution of 
the marriage problem. One sect frankly recognizes it and have 
tried to estabUsh a new reUgious basis for it. The other only 
tolerates it as a sin to be expiated by penance; and has split up 
into fresh sects as marriage is tolerated more or less. A 
Thedosievski council was held in 1883 in Moscow in order to 
re-establish the stricter ideal of non-marriage, but it only 
roused fresh internal dissensions and divisions of which the 
Bratskii Slovo for the years 1883-5 gives details. The straiter 
sect does not baptize the children or only does so when they are 
found exposed, in which case they are called God's gifts, it 
being unknown who exposed them. This sect is probably not 
very numerous, and the majority of its adherents, as has been 
noticed in the sees of Vyatka and Kazan, recognize marriage 
outright as thoroughly legitimate. 


Uzov relates that in his day, that is about the year 1880, a 
former monk of the Pomor 'married' group, named Barnabas, 
summed up the 'subtilties' of the 'marriageless' sect as follows: 
"There is no longer any sacrament of marriage, but all agree 
upon free life in union with each other, and by this expedient 
the world is being filled up with people." ^ 

Among the dissidents of the Phihppovski and Thedosievski 
groups, although marriage does not exist, married Ufe goes on 
all the same.^ The tendency of the ' marriageless ' is brought 
out in reUef in the teaching that there must be no monkery, 
but that everyone must hve a family hfe. Naturally this doc- 
trine, like the rival one, tries to find its justification in holy 
writ; and accordingly the monk Barnabas taught that, as in 
their philosophy 'no priest' involved 'no marriage,' so also it 
involved 'no monkery' j^ for without a clergy you cannot 
receive the monkish habit. On this principle two monks, 
Joasaph and loanikii gave up the monkish habit, and the 
former took to himself a cook, the latter returned to his former 
wife, or, to use the ' marriageless ' terminology, his cook.^ 

An account of the actual practice of the sect furnished by the 
Orthodox Review for 1865 (No. 3, art. by Veskinski) bears out 
Uzov's conclusions: "The Thedosievski of the districts of 
Liontsin, Rezhits, Drys and Dinamin in their doctrine of mar- 
riage approach most nearly to the regulations of their founder; 
and though they practise cohabitation, yet only admit it as 
a necessity, and perform no ceremonies in connection with it; 
but among the Thedosievski of the Polotsk, Vitebsk and 
Lepelsk districts, before a man and woman can begin their 
cohabitation, certain rites are observed, such as benediction by 
the Elders or rehgious leaders at a gathering of the parents of 
the girl and bridegroom, special prayers being recited and so 
forth, all which imparts to it outwardly the aspect of a sacra- 
ment." ^ 

The above account apparently refers also to the 'married' 

^ Chronicle of Raskol Events by I. Subbotin, p. 49. 

2 Istina, 1874, Bk. XXXII Sketches of Old rit. Life, p. 37. 

3 Istina, 1872, Bk. XXI, Voyage of Monk Barnabas p. 60. 
* Ibid., p. 106. 

6 Orthodox Review, 1865, No. 3, art. by Veskinski, p, 280. 


sect of the Vitebsk! Government. How then in the matter of 
family organization do the two halves of the Bezpopovtsy differ 
from each other? Uzov repUes that the 'married' sect impart 
to their marriages the significance of a sacrament in order to 
procm-e divine sanction and intervention for the union; the 
rival sect mider stress of a counter tendency accompUsh the 
union in a purely secular fashion : a man first betrothes himself 
to some woman or girl and receives her consent, he then goes for 
her to a place agreed upon and, after making a pretence of 
ravishing her away, takes her to his own home, and their 
cohabitation lasts until or imless family jars put an end to it. 
To give the transaction due pubhcity the parties who have thus 
taken to cohabitation visit the bazaars and other places of 
popular resort again and again, hand in hand or with a single 
cloak cast over both of them, by way of manifesting to all the 
fact that they now live together.^ Such idylUc simphcity 
reminds one of a Scotch marriage in the presence of four wit- 
nesses, to which it would impart a picturesque touch of High- 
land romance if a semblance of marriage by capture were 
added as in Russia. 

The ' marriageless ' sectary of the Varnavinski province of the 
Kostroma Government, when the time comes for him to form a 
household, merely takes home a girl of another family with the 
consent of her parents and lives with her as his wife.^ The 
conditions of town Ufe, especially for the labouring classes, 
impose a somewhat different type of family Hfe than is possible 
in country villages and lead to greater frequency of divorce.^ 
The poorer parents in the cities are working in manufactories 
and mills, and have not the same economic facihties for them- 
selves bringing up their famiUes as they would have if they 
hved in villages. In the country the child can help a httle 

* Orthodox Review, 1865, No. 3, art. by Veskinski, pp. 288-9. 

2 Kelsiev Sbarnik, IV, 300. 

' Nicolas Popov thus describes the mode of divorce of a couple who had lived 
together only a few months : " Pelagia Michailovna collected all her dowry chattels 
together and then bowed low thrice, according to their custom, at her husband's 
feet, laid her hansel before the ikons and after that bade farewell to her mother- 
in-law and to the witnesses present." (From Materials for a history of the Bezpo- 
povtsy congregation in Moscow, p. 152.) 


with the animals and in the fields, whereas in the city it is 
merely in the way and the parents are not at home to look after 
it. In towns this problem was met even before 1880 by the 
parents handing their children over to asylmns or creches built 
by the Thedosievski sect in Moscow and Riga. 

In doing so they had not, as too often supposed, any idea or 
intention of cutting themselves off from their offspring. It can 
be proved that this was so from an incident which occurred in 
1830. The Government had decreed that the children in these 
creches should be registered as Cantonists, i.e. the mostly 
Jewish children stolen by the Russian Government to be turned 
into soldiers hke the janissaries. Thereupon a crowd of work- 
people and labourers, having discovered that the children 
whom women of the 'Cemetery' (or Raskol Settlement in 
Moscow) and others had born to them, were to be carried off 
'for torture,' gathered in a crowd at the gate of the Cemetery 
and raised an uproar crying out: "Here is an inhuman Tsar 
who would rob our children from the very arms of their 
mothers." All the children were promptly picked out and 
taken away by their parents, and even such as had lost both 
parents were taken charge of by the well-to-do members of the 
sect to be brought up in their homes, rather than aUow them 
to be taken and reared in a battaUon of miUtary cantonists.^ 

We see from the above that the ' marriageless' sectaries in the 
cities, finding themselves constrained to adjust their fives to 
conditions of mill and factory, were very nearly organizing them 
on a better basis than the rest of the population that worked in 
the same institutions. Whereas the 'orthodox' mother, when 
she went off for the entire day to the factory, had to leave her 
children without anyone to look after them, the sectaries 
handed them over to a creche in which they could rely on their 
welfare and education being attended to by responsible persons 
of their own way of thinking. Except for the interference of 
the Government, we should probably, says Uzov, find among 
them a regularly organized public system of bringing up and 
educating the younger generation. Not long ago there was a 
notice in the Russian Gazette (Vedomosti) of secret institutions 

* Nilski Family Life in Rtissian Raskol, pp. 103, 133. 


or refuges in Moscow for the education of the children of the 
'marriageless' Pomorski sect. Any government worth the 
name would have welcomed such efforts on the part of the poor 
to do the best for their offspring, but that was not the way of 

Marriage Among the Stranniki 

We have related in some detail from Ivanovski the rise and 
development of the wandering sect called Beguny or Stranniki, 
more uncompromising in the hostility to the present order of 
things than any other sect, and in consequence the object of 
malignant persecution by the Government. The vast majority 
of them, says Uzov, live a family life and 'for fear of the Jews' 
as they call the Government, are even 'crowned,' that is, mar- 
ried in orthodox churches, though they attach no significance 
to the rite. He agrees with Ivanovski in saying that the 
majority of this sect, who marry and have families, are denomi- 
nated by themselves "people of the world, entertainers of 
wanderers, domiciled Christians." The minority make it 
their business to spread their ideas, and undertake the 'apos- 
tolic labour' of roving from village to village. 

They may be said to have no families, but all the same they 
do not preach asceticism and non-marriage in our sense, and 
even essay to harmonize their vagabondage with the satisfac- 
tion of family instincts and leanings. In theory, as sacramen- 
tal marriage has disappeared along with the priests of the 
ancient order, all men and women are now 'virgins,' monks and 
nuns. Thus a married member of the sect has explained that, 
whereas a wife is the gift of the devil, i.e. of the priest of the 
church, the virgin with whom he lives is the gift of God. He 
who hves with a wife lives in sin; he who lives with one that is 
not his wife, out of love, conunits no sin.^ The Stranniki thus 
allow irregular cohabitation instead of marriage, on the prin- 
ciple that they are to be regarded in this age of Antichrist as 

' Kelsiev, Sb. iv, 124, from evidence given by women brought before the 
Government commission of 1852. The Strannik repaired with his "virgin" 
before an ikon in his forest cell and there recited to her this formula of the matri- 
monial code. 


the only people that are just and righteous, and the Apostle 
Paul has declared that the law is not laid upon the justified.^ 
On this ground the Beguns of the Desert (which means not 
necessarily a forest or wilderness, but in general a place of 
hiding, be it only their own homes), live, each brother with a 
sister of one spirit with him in a common cell.^ The Begun 
sire allows his daughter to fall in love with whomever she Ukes 
and as long as she pleases, delighted if an obedient daughter 
remains a bride of Christ and adds to the home a new future 
worker, male or female.^ ''Bear children once a week if you 
hke, only do not go and get 'crowned' in church," is his advice 
to her. 

It is rare, says Shchapov in the Vremya, No. 11, p. 293, for 
the teacher to go unaccompanied in his travels by his mistress. 
So Euthymius wandered about with Irene Thedorovna, who 
after his death played a great part in the dissemination of his 
doctrine, and he never changed her for another all his life, says 
S. Maximov in an article in the National Records (Otetchest. 
Zap.) for 1876, No. 7. Nicetas Semenov Kilesev in accordance 
with Euthymius' rule, out of two converted sisters that were 
become his friends, chose the one that was a virgin, the elder 
sister, Barbara Dmitrievna, according to the same source of 
information. VasiU Gorbunchik wandered in company with 
Maria Vasilev, his mistress, who had twice saved him from the 
hands of the ministers of Antichrist, in other words from 
Government officials. 

These missionaries understand well enough that children bom 
of their unions would hamper their activities, since they have 
to be brought up; and in order to bring them up they would 
have to abandon their 'apostolic' labours, a thing which the 
propagandist zeal of the sect cannot allow. In this, and no 
other sense, is their doctrine a denial of the family; and the 
denial, such as it is, was never due to ascetic impulses, but to 
their passionate ardour for propaganda which forbids them to 
five in any one place for long. Accordingly they either leave 
the children they have begotten in the family of their mistresses 

* Edifying Readings, 1863, pt. 3: Athanasius Petrov, a Stranniki teacher, p. 117. 
2 Kelsiev, sb. iv, 160, from the same class of evidence. 


or hand them over to a creche or asylum. "According to a 
nmiour gathered on the spot by a member of an expedition sent 
out with a view to a persecution of the Raskol, there existed 
in the Yaroslav Government in the Poshekhonski Sykhotski 
forest an inaccessible underground skete where the virgins of 
the sect repair for their confinements." The existence of this 
skete was affirmed in 1834 by a person brought up in it, and 
according to Kelsiev (Sbornik iv, 75) children remained in it up 
to their 20th year. 

Thus it is not uncommon, remarks Uzov, for family instincts 
to get the better of propagandist zeal with members who have 
undertaken 'Apostolic' work. On the whole however, the 
tendency is for those who eschew marriage to deride those who 
do not. They ask: Why bring your children into the desert? 
How are you going to hide yourselves with a pack of children? 
They anyhow do not repudiate family ties in the name of 
asceticism, but because they are incompatible with their voca- 
tion. One might say the same of the Latin discipline of ceU- 
bacy for parish priests. Yet, he continues, all the facts 
adduced tend to prove that the overwhelming majority of the 
'marriageless' sects Uve a family life, only the family is pre- 
carious and easily dissoluble at will by either party. There 
are no generally recognized rules hmiting the facilities of dis- 
ruption; it is enough for the parties to desire to terminate a 
conjugal relation which is felt to be onerous to both. The 
minority that really have no famihes have avoided having 
them, not on reUgious grounds, but because for other reasons 
they cannot tolerate them. 

Many observers hold that so loose an organization of family 
life must be specially hard on the woman, and Nilski ^ expresses 
his wonder that it has been preferred not only by the Thedo- 
sievki, including those of Riga (Rizhski), but also by the women 
of the uniat and orthodox persuasions. Uzov on the contrary 
urges that family happiness does not depend on the external 
forces upholding the family union, but on affection and mutual 
respect, and very often on economic necessity. He argues that 
the best and most moral section of the population is averse from 

1 Family Life in the Raskol, by Nilski, p. 152. 


applying constraint in the case of family disagreement, and that 
such constraint only benefits crude, egoistic and purely animal 
natures. He points out that such hard and fast union does not 
de facto exist for the husband, so that the whole burden of it 
falls on the woman, whom we cannot expect to forego a right 
freely conceded to the man. Where unions are as free, as they 
are among these sects, a man dares not beat his partner, dares 
hardly to raise his hand, for fear she may say "I know my way 
home," and if he exclaims: ''I defy you to," she answers: 
"I never married you!" ^ 

^ Conversations of an orthodox priest with old ritualists, T. Tverdynski, p. 334. 





The merit of Uzov's work is that he exhibits so clearly the 
close connection between the Raskol and the original consti- 
tution and development of Russian peasant society, whereas 
Ivanovski and most foreign pubUcists have superficially tried to 
explain its rise and duration from purely religious and theo- 
logical considerations. Uzov devotes an entire chapter to 
this aspect of his subject, which he begins by remarking that, 
as the corner-stone of the edifice of Russian society has always 
been commimism, it was but natural that the so-called Old 
behevers, as representatives and champions of the independent 
and home intelHgence and feehng of the Russian people, should 
withal exemplify in their settlements the prevaihng commun- 
istic instinct. He illustrates this contention by the constitu- 
tion of a Raskol Priestless settlement in Prussia described in the 
Istina for 1871, No. 18; for this exhibited the sharp contrast 
between genuine Russian fife and the institutions of Western 
Europe. The description is from the pen of one of the Raskol- 
niks, who using the familiar jargon of the sect, calls it a monas- 
tery, although it was neither more nor less than a mundane 
collection of Russian peasants immersed in family life. 

The Prussians inhabiting the locality, he says, were filled 
with wonder at the example of solidarity and cohesion shewn 
by the immigrants from Russia. They held all the pastureland 
in common. Notwithstanding the seeming rudeness of their 
Russian agricultural implements the tilth was manured and 
got ready with extreme rapidity. All operations went easily 
among them because of the spirit of mutual union and friend- 
ship which bound them up together. The Prussian individual- 
ists of the neighbourhood were strangely interested in this 
exhibition of the Russian instinct of mutual goodwill and char- 
ity. The author says that this moral coherence was imputed by 



the Prussians to the ignorance of the settlers. This reminds 
one, he adds, of the language of our own intelligentsia, who, Hke 
the Prussians, have broken society up into loose pawns upon 
the board, and Uke them impute to crass ignorance and lack of 
understanding the charity which is engrained in the Russian 
nature, in the anima naturaliter Christiana of the Slav peasant. 
The Raskol was recruited from the most energetic and intelli- 
gent section of the people, and it is a matter of regret that so 
many who thirsted for a spiritual Ufe had no other alternative 
but to adopt it. All other avenues to a better life were closed 
juridically or de facto. The result was that the Raskol throve 
by absorbing into itself all the best living juices of the Russian 
people, and the results are visible in the singular capacity it 
has shewn for communism. 

The Communes of the Vyg 

Already at the close of the XVIIth Centiiry the bond of 
conmiunism held together their earhest societies, and its force 
was exampled in the society formed on the River Vyg in the 
Olonets Government. This consisted of an entire group of 
communes, cohering among themselves as well as with the rest 
of the other Raskol communes scattered all over Russia. One 
of the teachers who helped to found it predicted that it would 
disseminate itself and be celebrated all over the land, and be 
the salvation of many who were doing the will of God and walk- 
ing in his ways; and the work of multiphcation lay in the future 
with those who settled down along with their matrons and 
maidens, their cows and cradles.^ 

His testimony, says Uzov, proves that it was a purely 
secular foimdation, Uke the other Vygovtsy settlements which 
also styled themselves sketes. It is true they were gathered 
roimd an Epiphany convent, of which the inmates followed the 
ascetic ideal; but both before and after this convent was 
foimded in their midst, the inhabitants of the sketes around it 
eschewed the monastic ideal, married and had famiUes; they 
only depended on the monks for conducting their reUgious 

^ Christian Reading, Nos. 7, 8, art. by Barsov, p. 52. 


ceremonies. Such is the testimony of the same Raskol teacher 
Barsov in an article upon vexed questions of the earliest history 
of the Bezpopovtsy in the same journal for 1876 (Nos. 11, 12, 
p. 708). 

The founders of this convent, the brothers Andrew and Semen 
Denisov, made an honest attempt to enforce in it monastic 
discipline, but failed, so that the former of them was constrained 
in 1719 to admit that, although the rules and regulations were 
still those of a monastery, yet the brethren were vigorously 
pursuing a practical and purely secular ideal, and modelled 
themselves on the economy of an old Novgorod parish. The 
principles of their confraternity, to wit, hfe in common and 
regulation of their affairs by monastic chapter, remained in 
force as their charter. All the same there was not visible 
among the brethren, so he complains, any distinction between 
the ecclesiastical and civil life.^ And Barsov in his volume on 
these two brothers (pp. 84, 108) writes that the inmates of this 
Monastery never really entered it by way of freely avowing 
their need to isolate themselves for the practice of reUgion, nor 
because they had leanings towards the monastic hfe; their 
motive was either to conceal themselves and escape persecution, 
or because they were fired with enthusiasm (for the Raskol 
cause). Furthermore, he says, they were all of them people 
accustomed to family hfe, to rustic pursuits and agriculture, 
and of a grade of spiritual development that did not much 
inchne them to contemplation or monastic Ufe. Of it they 
had no idea, nor could it be expected of them that they would 
keep vows of cehbacy. Accordingly, when, one day, the 
father or prior was holding a conclave of the brethren who had 
returned from their labours here there and everywhere, and 
asked them if they had in their absence and during their travels 
kept to the rule of Church and cell, they had to acknowledge 
that whether from stress of laboiu* or weakness of the flesh or 
pure neghgence they had neglected what was so salutary and 

The end of it was, as Barsov remarks, that the rigour and 

1 N. Aristov, Structure oj Raskolnik Commune, in Library of Reading, 1863, 
No. 7, p. 5. 


discipline of the Denisov brothers was not appreciated. Sev- 
eral of the monks fled, others after a brief stay in the monastery- 
migrated into the Sketes in which they enjoyed much more 
liberty; occasionally there was a revolt against Andrew and his 
discipUne. The monastery itself was organized on a basis of 
free commmiistic tendencies, all the brethren being on an 
equality, and each member enjoying the same rights as every 
other.^ Thus, although Andrew Denisov was superior prior, 
his views in matters affecting the brethren as a whole were 
always laid before the rest.^ Even rations of bread could not 
reach the monastery without all the members being notified 
of it. 

In the commune the powers and capacities of each member 
were ascertained by overseers who conjointly with the cenobites 
assigned to each his occupation. In this manner the entire 
Vygovski conomimity was organized in different groups of 
labourers and mechanics ; to each group or guild was assigned 
quarters of its own, and their collective affairs were transacted 
by bailies and directors annually elected. Special officials also 
supervised the education of the children and looked after the 
teachers. The churchwardens and rehgious fathers were at 
once teachers and authorities for such purposes, and were 
appointed by reason of their gentleness of character and of their 
gifts of insight and discretion in everything to do with children. 
The divines thus chosen were for the most part of middle age, 
distinguished for their disinterestedness and learning and for 
their labours in behalf of the conununity and for their tender 
care of infants and orphans.^ 

The independence of the individual, his aspirations and con- 
victions, were scrupulously respected, and each thought and 
taught exactly as his understanding led him to do.^ Rehgious 
tolerance was such that even foreigners of the Lutheran faith 
were admitted into the community. Thus the assistant of the 
chief Raskol teacher Kapiton, was an individual named Babila, 
by birth, according to Denisov, a German, and of the Lutheran 

1 Aristov, p. 6. 

2 Barsov, pp. 93, 106. 

' Aristov, pp. 7, 12, 13, 14, 11. 
* op. cit. p. 28. 


faith. He had taught reading and writing for some years in the 
Slav Academy at Paris and was well trained in rhetoric, logic, 
philosophy and theology. He also knew Latin, Greek, Hebrew 
and Slavonic. '^ 

Property in Vyg was of two kinds, pubUc and private. The 
former, says Uzov, included land, buildings and everything 
indispensable for the common economy. Private property 
consisted of part of the moveables or furniture which were 
known as goods of the cell. At death many left by will all 
their 'cell' property to their kinsfolk; but the majority be- 
queathed all their private effects to the public chest; others 
divided it between the community and their relatives.^ 

The other sketes which formed part of the Vyg system and 
were diffused over the wild forests of Pomor looked to the 
Epiphany Monastery as their centre. As early as 1703, says 
Aristov, there were not a few sketes and separate ' cells ' — kills 
as they were called in ancient Ireland — in Pomor; all the 
Raskolniks were hnked with one another, all paid their visits to 
the Vygovski conmiunity and took part in its councils. In this 
connection, be it remarked, it was not merely affairs adminis- 
trative and economical that had to be settled by all the mem- 
bers; religious concerns and problems of church government 
were equally under the control of the entire community. In 
cases of grave crime the decision equally rested with a council, 
which could condemn the offenders to banishment from the 
community. It is to be noticed that female offenders were not 
subjected to corporal punishment. No drunkenness was 
allowed in the sketes; drunkards and beggars were cast out 
without any ceremony. 

The Communes of Sopelok 

Uzov passes from the consideration of the Pomor communi- 
ties as they were already organized early in the XVIIIth Cen- 
tury to the group or 'concord' of the Stranniki or Beguny 
which, as we saw above, pp. 156 ff., grew up towards the close of 
the same century under the impulse of that remarkable reh- 

1 Shchapov, Russ. Raskol, p. 175-6. 

2 Aristov, p. 18. 


gious reader Euthymius or Euphiroius, as the Slavs spell it; and 
he has much to say about them which supplements Ivanov- 
ski's account. He illustrates from Shchapov's article in the 
Vremya of 1862, No. 11, p. 279, the gradual growth of the 
movement. It began about 1770 in the village of Sopelok, 
on the right bank of the Volga near Yaroslav, and from it 
radiated in ever larger circles to embrace vast tracts of Russia 
and Siberia. Wherever it extended, asylums or hospices, 
resembling the rest-houses or /xovai of early Christian mis- 
sions and equally those of the Jewish Essenes, and the Vanq 
of Armenia, were established. 

These far-flung settlements formed a confederation of which 
Sopelok was the metropoUs, keeping them all in touch with one 
another. Each provincial or local ' hospice ' however formed a 
separate flock, was an autonomous and self-governing unit 
with its own directing council and tribunal, but not so inde- 
pendent that, when necessary, the common and supreme head- 
quarters council and tribunal of the Beguni, was not recognized 
to he at Sopelok, whither members repaired even from Siberia. 
Uzov states that in his day (1880) the sect found more difficulty 
in gathering together a representative board for the settlement 
of unavoidable questions. Nevertheless in July 1864 as many 
as a hundred nastavniks or 'rectors' met in the village of Vak- 
hrushevo, of the Damshinski volost (circle of villages) in the 
province of Vologda. This council was convoked to decide 
about the 'articles' of Nicetas Semenov, one of their own 
elders who for ten years from 1854 had interested the police. 

Uzov raises the question whether the internal structure of 
this sect can be described as genuinely communistic, as A. I. 
Rozov^ asserts the founder Euthymius to have intended it to be. 
He denies that the Beguny themselves so interpret their found- 
er's projects; they only refer his words to agrarian property, 
to fisheries, salt deposits and so forth. He admits indeed that 
Stranniki are met with who preach commxmism, and in favour 
of it appeal to certain of the founder's writings, especially 
the work entitled Tsvetnik (flower-bed, florilegium) in which 

> See the three articles printed in the Vestnik Europy, Nov. and Dec. 1872 
and Jan. 1873. 


the registration of people and their separation into distinct 
classes, the partitioning of lands, forests and waters, are stig- 
matized as triumphs of Antichrist. This sort of confiscation 
and unfair division was, in Euthymius's opinion, a heathenish 
abuse, possible only because one man was envious of another, 
and because mutual hostihty ended in the apportioning of much 
to one, of Httle to another, of nothing at all to the residuum 
compelled to hew wood and draw water for the wealthy. The 
passage is quoted by Kelsiev in his history of the Government's 
inquisition into the Raskol (Sbornik pravitelstvennykh svedenii) 
vol. 4, p. 260. But it is hardly conclusive as to the founder's 

Anyhow, soon after his death, which befell in 1792, VasiU 
Petrov, one of his peasant disciples, took to teaching that no 
Strannik has the right to own property, but must give up every- 
thing he has to the uses of the community.^ And in the 
Poshekhonski province Ivan Petrov, and in the so-called Plyo- 
sovski region, which comprised three provinces of the Kostroma 
Government, Antip Yakovlev, proclaimed that Euthymius's 
dictum that ''the phrase 'mine-thine' is accursed and profane, 
for God created everything among you common"; refers not 
only to landmarks, but to all property alike. On this ground, 
saysRozovin the Vestnik Europy (1873, No. 1), they demand 
a rigorous communism and complete renunciation of the 
rights of property. 

It comes to this then, says Uzov, that among the Old beUevers 
the extremists of the different groups do not shrink from the 
same impossible abrogation of mine and thine, as the extrem- 
ists among the "spiritual christians," who carry the principle 
of communism to excess. In all probabihty the intransigent 
communism of these Beguny teachers met with no better success 
than it did among them; it is to be regretted, he adds, that we 
have so Uttle information about them, and how contemporary 
Begunism Uves is, it may be said, completely unknown. 

1 Orthodox Review, 1864, No. 8, Art. by Veskinsky, p. 315. 


General Organization 

Uzov maintains, however, in regard to the Raskol as a whole 
that Formakovski's statement that it is a sort of federation of 
pohtico-reUgious societies is borne out by facts; not only was 
it true long ago, but it can be demonstrated in quite recent 
times. And this is so, although the various groups differ widely 
in social ideals, and among all of them the tendency and lean- 
ings to independence are much more pronounced than in the 
rest of the population. 

It is quite rare, says a writer Vitkovski in the National 
Memorials (1862, No. 5, p. 355), for the members of the Raskol 
to prefer a complaint in the course of their mutual disputes to 
the local authorities or to go to law with one another. Such is 
the unity of spirit, such the feehng of fraternity among these 
intelHgent people, that they find themselves able to do without 
invoking any outside protection. And Uzov illustrates the 
point from the case of one of the Strannik teachers, Athanasius 
Petrov, who in 1850 was detected in the act of hoarding a 
quantity of money in an ikon. The next day, says one who had 
belonged to the sect, a council was held at which Athanasius, 
as a lover of money, was deprived of his title of teacher, his 
emblems of apostolic dignity taken from him, a rough garment 
assigned him, and a decision come to, to keep him under strict 
supervision. However the delinquent made good his escape 
and very soon was caught in a second misdemeanour, for he 
had taken to wandering about pretending he was a proto- 
hiereus with a mission from the Vyg desert or hermitage. 
Thereupon sentence was pronounced upon him by 'a general 
court of the Old rituahsts.' This court was instituted in 1850 
in the settlement just named in consequence of altercations and 
assassinations among the different groups. It was commis- 
sioned to examine and deal wdth all suits which arose between 
them. Three representatives were chosen from each group, in 
all 27, and three of them presided over it.^ Such an institution 
absolutely confirms Formakovski's statement. 

But, as the same author observes in the National Memorials 

1 Edifying Readings, 1863, pt. 3, pp. 120-5. 


(1866, Nov. Dec, p. 641), of all the factors which lend to the 
Raskolnik federation irrefragable stabiUty and strength, the 
capital one is the feeUng of brotherhood among its members and 
communities. Nothing else can explain such facts as the 
existence in Russia of an Old rituaUst hierarchy, whose leaders 
the poHce, in spite of all their researches, have never been able 
to get hold of. Thus, to give an example, in Moscow, one of 
the lower officials was enjoined to occupy himself exclusively 
with the task of collecting information about bishop Sophron- 
ius, what he was doing and what had become of him. In this 
task he displayed a rare zeal. Petersburg was full of 'secret' 
or ' very secret ' items of information about him, one bit of news 
came flying after another, and more than once the authorities 
entertained the consoling hope that the moment was approach- 
ing when they would catch him. It was destined never to be 
realized. The strength of the Old beUevers' organization may 
also be judged of from the following incident: Measm-es had 
been taken to arrest a foreign emigrant, one of the Raskolniks, 
who had been residing a long time in Moscow; but before the 
plan could be carried out, the Old behevers there had received 
exact tidings of it, and had got in their ecclesiastical council a 
copy even of the confidential circular on which the whole 
manoeuvre was based and which was intended only for the 
eyes of the very highest personages.^ 

The Raskol communities hold together by means of a close 
and constant intercourse among themselves and have their 
own post office. In their communications they employ a 
cipher and conventional language. They usually send their 
letters by confidential messengers and not by post. On how 
considerable a scale this correspondence goes on, one can 
judge from the fact that in the inquisition of the year 1852, 
the dissenters of Moscow, Grusia (Georgia) and Siberia were 
found to be communicating with one another.^ They have 
their own post, and by means of it circulate necessary informa- 
tion all over the provinces in the course of a few days. 

The Raskolnik communities, says Bellyustin, are so arranged 

1 " Contemporary Chronicles ", 1867, No. 23, art. by N. Subbotin. 

2 Kelsiev, Vol. IV, p. 341. 


that the lowest beggar has a voice in them. The following, for 
example, is a description of the rich boot-making village of 
Kimry in the Korchevski province of Tver, inhabited by 

"The relations of employers and workmen are altogether 
peculiar and characteristic; the latter form unions usually of 
30 to 60 persons, and these possess so much moral influence, 
that they not only hold their own in all that concerns their 
religious convictions against the patron, in case he is incUned 
to oppose them, but they can obUge him to adopt their point of 
view. It was our good fortune to be present not only at their 
deliberations, but at a discussion of the 'faith' between an 
employer and his guild; and it contrasted strongly with the 
usual relations between an employer and his workmen. Una- 
bashed by anything or anyone the humblest worker, if he be 
their most instructed man, corrects the patron's arguments; 
let a question be put, and they insist on an answer to it. They 
often leave the employer in a dilemma; he is obUged either to 
capitulate unconditionally to the body of workmen — and let 
us not forget the unbroken soUdarity that prevails among 
them in all that borders on religion — or to antagonize them, 
and that means to antagonize the whole society." ^ Not that 
we must even among the Raskolniks regard the relations of 
labour and capital too optimistically, says Uzov. For however 
strong the organization of the community, the capitalists 
manage to make their power felt; and a latent antagonism 
is revealed by the fact that latterly the Old believers have dis- 
covered that the number of the Beast, i.e. the title of Anti- 
christ, is contained in the word Khozyain, which means 
employer.'^ If the latter in their idea becomes a tool of Anti- 
christ, that is of evil, then we can no longer entertain any hope 
even among the Raskolniks of friendly relations between capi- 
tal and labour. The ideal of a Russian revolutionary is to 
manage a workshop or a manufactory along the communists 
lines of the mir or village commune. 

The ideal of hfe common to them all is expressed, concludes 

1 Russki Vestnik, 1865, June, p. 762. 

2 Istina, 1877, bk. 51, p. 29. 


Uzov, in their so-called Belovody (white waters). Long since 
they have had aspirations for this land, that to many seemed 
a dream and fable. "In this region," says the monk Mark 
Topozerski, "theft, larceny and other offences against the law 
are unknown." Its inhabitants who number over half a 
million, "pay taxes to no government whatever." ^ From the 
information communicated by Yadrintsev, we gather that the 
accounts given among the Raskolniks of Belovody contain much 
truth. Among the Altai mountains is a spot which the Rus- 
sian bureaucrat has only lately discovered; there in very truth 
flow the white (mountain) streams, and there is to be found a 
Russian settlement, which until yesterday knew not the heavy 
hand of any intrusive authorities. At their advent, then, and 
not before, the myth of White waters was revealed to have been 
more or less of a real fact ; but they had not been there long 
before, alas, the myth became a real myth. 

Legal Position of the Raskol 

Ivanovski in a chapter entitled 'External Relations of the 
Raskol to the Government and the Measures undertaken by the 
Clergy in order to achieve its enfeeblement,' summarizes what 
has been in the main 250 years of dreary reUgious persecution, 
broken only occasionally by brief lucid intervals of semi- 
toleration. He justly divides these 250 years into four periods, 

1. From the beginning of the Raskol to the reign of Peter I, 
that is approximately to the beginning of the XVIIIth Century. 

2. The Reigns of Peter I and his successor to the beginning 
of the reign of Catharine II. 

3. The Reigns of Catharine II and Alexander I. 

4. From death of Alexander I until the end of the XlXth 

To these fom* epochs, let us hope that the present Revolution 
may add an altogether new and happier one. 

1 P. Melnikov, Hist. Sketch of Popovtsy, pp. 41, 43. 


Before Peter I 

No ukases were hurled directly against the Old behevers 
until Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich issued one, which the patriarch 
Joseph countersigned, as well as his MetropoUtans and arch- 
bishops, bishops and the entire holy synod; this condemned to 
the stake any and all who should insult Jesus Christ, the Virgin 
or the Cross. Under this law provision was duly made for 
hmiting down and burning aUve such as confronted the 
inquisitor with firmness and courage, while those who promptly 
made their peace with the church were only to be subjected to 
what was understood in that age as spiritual admonition, no 
doubt of the kind that Claverhouse administered about the 
same time to Scotch covenanters. 

The above ukase, however, was too indefinite and too gentle 
for the Empress Regent Sophia, who as soon as she had dis- 
armed her rebellious praetorian guard, the Streltsy, issued a 
new one proscribing the very existence of the Raskol, and mak- 
ing it illegal; the teachers of the Raskol were condemned to be 
burned alive as heretics, as were all whom they had rebaptized. 
The repentant, who saw the error of their ways, were to be 
sent to convents and enlightened by appUcation of the knout, 
as also were any who sheltered them, unless they did so in 
ignorance, in which case they were to be heavily fined. 

Peter I 

The above law continued in force under Peter I, called the 
Great, but was not put in force by him very thoroughly, 
because he was preoccupied with other concerns. He was 
intent on opening his window towards Europe, the new capital 
of Petersburg, as he called it, rechristened by the late Tsar 
Petrograd, a change of name which, though it pleases the Pan- 
slavists, is not likely to be permanent. Peter I was too busy at 
first building a fleet of ships and developing the system of 
bureaucratic concentration begun a hundred years before, to 
turn his attention to the persecution of heretics. What is 
more, he may even have sympathized a httle with them, for he 


had himself to bear the odium of abolishing the patriarchate 
and installing himself in its place, of tearing the veils off the 
faces of high-bom ladies, of cutting off the curls of the Jews 
and the beards of Russians. Such an emperor was not, at any 
rate at first, disposed to make martyrs of people who were to 
his mind, as they would have been to Frederick the Great's or 
Voltaire's, cranks and ignoramuses. As long as they did not 
hinder his pet designs, he had little fault to find with them, and 
was ready to consider them as good citizens, just as he regarded 
the many Lutherans who put their wits at his disposal. The 
settlers on the Vyg even earned his good will by assisting him 
in his enterprises; so did those of Starodub, and he rewarded 
both for a time by allowing them liberty to worship as they 

Later on, however, Peter discovered their fanaticism. Most 
probably their orthodox enemies discovered it for him. Any- 
how in 1714 unfriendly laws were made against them of a kind 
to facilitate their exploitation by the Government. As 
Sophia's edict stood on the statute book with its menace of 
rack and stake, any official could blackmail them, and they were 
naturally ready to bear any burdens of taxation or corvee 
provided only they were allowed to retain their convictions. 

Peter the Great therefore began by obliging them to inscribe 
themselves as Raskolniks on a state-kept register and to pay 
double taxes. Now they regarded themselves as the Orthodox 
Church, and indeed had as much right to the name as Nikon 
and his time-serving prelates. It is not surprising therefore 
that many refused to register themselves in the ledgers of Anti- 
christ, as Ivanovski explains, ''partly to avoid the extra imposts 
but still more from fanaticism." The result was that Peter I 
invented ingenious penalties alike for those heretics who con- 
cealed their identity and for those who revealed it. The 
avowed dissenter was not to be actively molested, but to be 
made ridiculous in the eyes of all, monstrari digito praetere- 
untium. To that end they were, hke our convicts, to wear 
clothes of a special cut marked with the agreeable lettering 
H. R. A., i.e. Heretic, Raskolnik, Apostate. They were to be 
denied any, even the humblest, of public offices. Their evi- 


dence could not be accepted in a court of justice except as 
against members of their own sect. The only function of a 
public kind left to them was that of collecting the double tax 
of their fellows in misfortune. This last improvement in their 
position was sanctioned July 7, 1725. Already, however, in 
May 1722 a fresh edict had been issued against their teachers 
and against any who sheltered the latter; and on July 13 of 
the same year another forbade runaway priests, as well as 
Bezpopovtsy elders, to hold any sort of religious services any- 
where. The children of dissenters were to be baptized by 
orthodox priests, while the settlers on the Vyg, who still enjoyed 
certain immunities because of the services they had loyally 
rendered to Peter I, were in 1724 forbidden to quit their resi- 
dences without passports. 

The reason for all these restrictions, alien to Peter's original 
conceptions of his duties as a ruler, is to be sought in the hos- 
tility of the holy synod, which waxed ever more intense as the 
propaganda of the Raskol spread. They had hoped to extir- 
pate it by the Draconian law of Sophia. They now demanded 
of the Government fresh powers to hunt down and capture the 

All the above regulations appUed primarily to the avowed 
dissenters. The task of discovering the unavowed ones was 
now entrusted to the clergy ; the maxim ' set a thief to catch a 
thief,' seeming no doubt to Peter thoroughly applicable. But 
here the Government met with difficulty. Very many of the 
clergy were secretly in sympathy with the Raskol, as is shewn 
by the constant leakage from their ranks into those of the 
adversary. Many more, as underpaid men with families to 
support, were open to bribes. It was held necessary therefore 
by the Synod to frame edicts against its own clergy in case they 
sheltered or connived at Dissent. Those who did so were liable 
to forfeit their orders, to undergo corporal punishment, forced 
labour, etc. Civil and military officials were in turn appointed 
to hunt out the orthodox clergy who were lax in their duty — 
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? — and to assist them in discharg- 
ing the same, in case they were loyal to their bishops. Even 
the landowners were found to be infected with the Raskol 


poison, and were made liable to capture, and to 'admonition', 
as it was tenderly called, by the spiritual authorities; and if 
that failed of effect to punishment and exile. The punish- 
ment — according to the old trick of the Roman inquisition — 
was nominally levelled, not against reUgious opinion, but at 
those who opposed the civil Government, in this case the Ukases 
of the Tsar. Secret police were sent to Starodub, Novgorod, 
Nizhigorod, Livonia and elsewhere, to keep watch not only on 
the quasi-orthodox clergy, but upon the landed proprietors as 
weU. Such was the legislation of Peter the Great, and it 
furnished a model which succeeding Governments as a rule 
followed only too faithfully. 

We have seen that for a time the settlers on the Vyg enjoyed 
exemption from the double tax along with a few other privi- 
leges; but not for long, since one of the first acts of the next 
ruler, Catharine I, was to impose it on them in June 1726. The 
new Government even entertained the plan of extirpating that 
community and removing its members to their original homes 
by force. It was eventually decided however in 1732 to pass a 
law or ukase condemning all members of the Raskol to be 
interned in monasteries, there to undergo clerical 'correction.' 
They were by the same ukase to be taken regularly to divine 
service and in case of resistance to be handed over to the civil 
authorities and secular arm. In 1734 they were forbidden to 
erect chapels or oratories for themselves, and finally in 1734 
under Anna Ivanovna took place the first great hunt. The 
Cossacks in the course of a campaign in Poland descended upon 
the settlement of Vetka which had till now been out of range 
of the Russian Government, and 40,000 of them were driven 
back across the frontier into the grip of the Moscovite. 

Peter III to Alexander I 

3. We now approach the second half of the XVIIIth Cen- 
tury, an era of greater freedom lasting from the accession of 
Peter III in 1750 to the end of the reign of Alexander I in 1825, 
seventy-five years in all. The former monarch tried to assimi- 
late the status of the dissenters to that of cults recognized in 


the empire as legitimate though not orthodox. He did not live 
to carry out his plan, and it devolved on Catharine II to execute 
so sensible and humane a project. She began by issuing an 
edict inviting members of the Raskol who had fled across the 
borders in the previous reigns to return to Russia, where such 
orderly and industrious people could ill be spared; she promised 
them in return an indemnity for any wrongs they might have 
committed, and instead of being shorn, as together with the 
Jews, they had been by Peter the Great, the right was conceded 
to them of wearing their beards, to the disgust of the many 
German barbers whom Peter's legislation had furnished with 
remunerative jobs. Catharine also engaged to spare them the 
indignity of wearing a distinctive dress not unUke that assigned 
by Latin Inquisitors to the victims of an auto-da-fe. Over and 
above these indulgences, the returned Raskolniks were allowed 
to become proprietors of land, 'royal peasants,' or, if they pre- 
ferred it, tradesmen and merchants. They were however con- 
demned to continue to pay to the Government double taxes for 
a period of six years. There still remained a considerable num- 
ber of settlers at Vetka in Poland, and, as she was conducting 
one of the perpetual campaigns against the Poles, Catharine 
seized the occasion to transport thence to their old homes 
another 20,000 of them. This second enforced migration gave 
the cowp de grace to this once flourishing colony of Old believers. 
The date of the granting of these exemptions was 1764. At the 
same time Raskolniks who remained confined in monasteries 
were liberated. Five years later they were admitted to the 
witness box in legal cases; in 1782 the double tax was aboUshed. 
Hitherto this had been levied on avowed Raskolniks, and 
pressure had been used to force them to inscribe their names 
in the official registers, in consequence of which and from abhor- 
rence of the name Raskol — for they considered themselves 
to be the Orthodox Church — they had concealed their qual- 
ity. There was no longer the same reason to do so and some 
began even to see an advantage in being put on the register, 
for once they were inscribed upon it they were exempt from 
the exactions which the authorized clergy were authorized to 
levy upon their flocks. Not a few even of the orthodox 


inscribed themselves upon the register in order to escape these. 
The Government thus found itself in a dilemma; certain of the 
provincial governors moreover, e.g., those of Perm and Tobolsk, 
represented that the retention of the double category of Raskol 
and Orthodox confused the census and taxation lists and made 
the collecting of accurate statistics more difficult than need be. 
The end of it was that the Tsarina expugned the very name 
Raskol from all juridical and official documents. The Senate 
approved of this step, and by an ukase of 1783 the name was 
discarded in ecclesiastical lists and records as also in verbal 
communications. The next year, 1784, the holy Synod was 
induced to assent to this reform, and in 1785 the dissenters 
had all their disabilities removed by a fresh ukase which 
admitted them to public positions in all towns and cities. 
The most enlightened of all female sovereigns in Russia and 
perhaps the whole world, had won, and all the oppressive regu- 
lations of Peter I were abrogated. At the same time permis- 
sion was given to the members of the Raskol to settle in Siberia. 
After Catharine's death succeeded the brief reign of Paul 
(Nov. 1796 to March 1801), and then Alexander came to the 
throne, a man of liberal and humane instincts. His policy 
towards the Raskol however was a perpetual seesaw, according 
as his native disposition or the sleepless hatred of the orthodox 
prelates prevailed. Even under Catharine the law against 
orthodox popes who joined the Raskol was maintained in all 
its severity, and ukases of November 1765 and January 1776 
condemned them to ecclesiastical degradation and deprivation 
of their orders, and it was not safe for them to appear in pubUc 
in their true colours. At the beginning of Alexander's reign, 
although the laws were not changed, the Government shewed 
itself more indulgent; and in many places, e.g. Gorodets in 
the Nizhegorod Government and at Starodub, they were in 
1803 openly discharging their spiritual offices. Nine years 
later however the Synod interfered to prevent the Popovtsy of 
the village of Uvanov in the Vladimirski Government from 
employing them, and their veto was upheld by Alexander in 
February 1812. Later on, in March 1822, the Sovereign 
crowned his inconsistencies by sanctioning the use of runaway 


popes in case they had been guilty of no crime and were not 
quitting the church in order to evade the consequences of their 
actions. The prelates expostulated against such mildness, but 
this time in vain. 

The right of having their own chapels and oratories was con- 
ceded or denied under Alexander to the Raskol with similar 
waverings. Before Catharine II had finally Ughtened their 
yoke, the old laws forbidding them to have places of worship of 
their own had been reaffirmed in ukases of July 1769 and April 
1778. Subsequently, it is true, the Government winked at 
their existence and the law was not carried out. In one case 
(1817) the cupola of a church would be pulled down, but the 
rest of it left intact. In other cases the raising of a church 
was allowed, but the right to hold services in it denied. It was 
a real triumph, however, for the Raskol in Moscow when in 1809 
the legality of their Transfiguration Cemetery was upheld, 
and when the Minister of the Interior authorized the rebuild- 
ing of chiu"ches in the Vyatka Government and in the district 
of Sarapul. The Holy Synod of course fumed at the least 
show of tolerance, and appealed to the ukase of 1803 which, 
while disclaiming any desire to violate men's consciences, for- 
bade any open exhibitions of apostasy; and in 1816 they man- 
aged to get the chapels in Fatezh in the Government of Kursk 
destroyed, especially any that presumed to have a bell. In 
1817 the Tsar issued instructions to local authorities to forbid 
the erection of chapels. In 1822 a fresh edict allowed old struc- 
tiu*es to remain, but forbade the raising of new ones. 

Under Alexander's regime the open celebration of their rites 
was also winked at, and the Raskol were freely allowed to bap- 
tize and to bury their dead until 1818, in some cases even to 
ring a bell to summon the faithful to worship. But stronger 
measures were enforced in 1820, especially against Raskol prop- 
aganda. Any pubhc manifestation of their religion, even the 
conducting of a burial by a priest attired in canonicals, was 
forbidden in 1824. They might bury their dead, but without 
hymns or candles. 


Nicholas I and his Successors, to 1903 

We have already seen how the accession in 1825 of 
Nicholas I, a bigot and martinet, was marked by a return to 
the system of persecution. Raskol communities were placed 
afresh outside the law, their members denied the right of will 
and testament, no churches or schools were allowed to be put 
up, no hospitals or rest-houses. The title of Raskolnik had 
been expugned from official documents: it was now revived, 
and all pubhc offices and employments were closed afresh to 
them. No dissenter might engage in trade or become a mer- 
chant of the first or second guilds or categories. New oratories, 
of course, or chapels were disallowed, and it was forbidden to 
repair those which already existed. Most of their charitable 
institutions were closed or pulled down. The dissenters were 
also obHged by ukase to take their children to an orthodox priest 
for baptism; their marriages were declared invalid. The 
object of such legislation was to allow members of the sect to 
hve on as such till death overtook them, but prevent their ranks 
from being recruited either by inheritance or by propaganda. 
To facilitate the project Nicholas had a hst made of the names 
of all living Raskolniks, with an inventory of all their churches, 
monasteries and sketes so called, between the years 1840 and 
1853. Everywhere the police were set on to see that all these 
oppressive regulations were carried out, and garrisons were 
located in the chief Raskol centres. In 1847 a special poUce 
was created to exact the extra taxes levied upon dissenters. 

Any system which reposes on policemen, especially in Russia, 
is insecure, for they are generally no less venal than unobserv- 
ant. In spite of Nicholas' campaign therefore the Raskolniks 
went on building their chapels and increasing their numbers. 
When an extraordinary inquisition was to be made in any 
centre, the people were always forewarned. Now and again, 
as at Semenov, sketes were destroyed, but the inmates were 
regarded as martyrs and the hatred of the Orthodox oppressors 
waxed more intense. The exiled and transported managed to 
correspond with their coreligionists and inflame what Ivan- 
ovski calls their fanaticism. The mockery to which church 


consistories condemned them served, he says, to harden their 
hearts, and, if they repented, it was only in semblance. 

In 1855 Nicholas I was succeeded by Alexander II Niko- 
laevich, a man of more liberal tendencies. The question 
of the best way to deal with the Raskol was laid before him in 
1858, and he was at first in favour of applying the law as it 
stood, but impartially and equally all around; for a member of 
the Raskol never knew beforehand how a court of first instance 
would decide his case, and was the victim of all sorts of caprice 
on the part of poUce and judge. Later in the same year, 
Alexander decided against persecution, but agreed to forbid 
any propaganda amongst the Orthodox and any pubUc mani- 
festations of Raskol faith, such as processions with cross and 
banners, hymn singing outside a place of worship, solemn cele- 
brations of baptism or marriage, funeral processions in which 
the clergy wore vestments and cowls, monastic habits, outward 
emblems of religion on churches, bells, etc. On the other hand 
Raskolniks were permitted to trade in November, 1863, and to 
earn medals and orders from the Government in 1864, unless 
indeed they belonged to the most noxious sects which eschewed 
marriage and prayers for the Tsar; they were allowed in 1861 
with the consent of the Minister of the Interior to be admitted 
to public offices. In 1874 their marriages were legitimized, 
if duly registered in the records of the poUce and commune, 
and their licit character was made to depend not on the use of 
religious rites, but on the act of registration. The law obliging 
them to go through the mockery of baptizing their children in 
an orthodox chiu-ch was now abrogated. 

As early as 1864 the Tsar Alexander projected a revision of all 
the laws affecting the Raskol, and in 1867 charged his coun- 
cil to undertake new legislation. Committees of investigation 
were formed in consequence and men of special knowledge, 
hke Melnikov, consulted. A new scheme of law was pre- 
pared and laid before the Holy Synod; but the political events 
of 1877, the war with Turkey, and the assassination of the Tsar 
in 1881 arrested the whole scheme, which was not resumed until 
1883, when by Ukase of May 3 the new Tsar Alexander III 
gave sanction to the views of his council in favour of recogniz- 


ing the civil rights of Dissenters and their liberty of worship. 
But the proscription of any outward signs or evidence of Raskol 
faith was kept up, and every measure taken to prevent propa- 
ganda and protect the Orthodox Church from being attacked. 
The general principle of religious Uberty and toleration was 
admitted and even paraded in the new law, but in application 
sadly curtailed. The Orthodox Church was recognized as 
having a monopoly of religious truth and Government protec- 
tion. No other reUgious body could make converts from other 
faiths, while no Orthodox person could leave the Church and 
enroll himself in the ranks of the Raskol. The statute forbid- 
ding any public manifestation of Raskol faith and opinion was 
to be vigorously enforced, and exile awaited any member of it 
who converted an Orthodox to his faith. Any who printed 
books with a view to Raskol propaganda, or gave lectures or 
distributed tracts for the purpose were liable to be imprisoned. 
Any who overtly spoke ill of the Orthodox clergy or vilified the 
Church were Hable to the same penalty. The printing of the 
hturgical books of the Raskol v/as likewise forbidden, and any 
one selhng them might be fined 300 rubles. No new churches, 
nor restoration of old ones, was to be attempted without the 
fiat of the provincial governor, and all Government officials 
and bureaucrats were pledged to assist the Orthodox bishops 
and clergy in the sacred duty of repressing the Raskol. The 
inferior clergy had to keep the bishop informed of any con- 
siderable defection on the part of the parishioners, in accord- 
ance with the principle that "the dominant Church, Orthodox, 
CathoHc and Oriental, is invested with the right, as is no other, 
within the frontiers of the Empire to induce the heterodox by 
way of persuasion to embrace its doctrine." ^ The Government 
rewards those who assist in the work of converting Raskolnik 
by conferring the decoration of the third grade of the order of 
St. Anna on any missionary who is so fortunate as to make, with 
the aid of the poUce, one hundred converts among the Raskol 
or the infidels. 

' Skvortsov, Zakmiy oraskolnikakh (Laws concerning the Raskolniki), Moscow, 
1903, p. 166, cited by Aurel. Palmieri, La Chiesa Russa, Firenze, 1908, to whom I 
am much indebted in this section. 


Mixed marriages between the Orthodox and members of the 
Raskol were only legal if celebrated in an Orthodox Churchy 
with Orthodox rites, and if the Raskolnik party 'verted' to 
the Orthodox Church. Minors perverted to the Raskol or to 
any heresy were placed under the charge of the Minister of the 
Interior. All prosecutions directed against the Raskol had to 
be initiated by the ecclesiastical authorities, and the parish 
clergy could do no more than report cases to the bishop of the 
diocese. A request for a prosecution must be precise and 
clearly formulated. 

Such in brief were the regulations in force before the year 
1903. They purported to be inspired by goodwill and tolera- 
tion, and the Imperial Senate in its commentaries on them 
mitigated them in a few particulars. For example, public 
vilification of an orthodox priest was to be condoned, if the 
latter by insolence or altercation had provoked it ; and the mere 
performance of a rite by a Raskol priest for orthodox persons^ 
especially if the latter were not of an age to appreciate dogmatic 
distinctions, was not to be classed as an attempt at religious 
perversion. Commenting on the clause forbidding Raskolniks 
to ofl&ciate for the Orthodox at baptisms, marriages or funerals, 
the Senate held that, in such cases, the ministrant alone be held 
responsible, and not the parents and other parties, even though 
they consented. In Russia it rests or rested with the bureau- 
cracy, lay or spiritual, to enforce the laws of the Empire, very 
much as they please; and it can well be imagined, writes 
Palmieri (p. 411), that, under the superintendence of an intran- 
sigent Procurator of the Holy Synod like Pobedonostsev 
bureaucrats continued to use against the Raskol the weapons 
of an earlier legislation. To the protests of the Raskolniks 
no attention was paid; their chapels continued to receive the 
visits of the pohce who closed them when and as they chose; 
for it was this fanatical functionary's idea to beat down 
Catholicism, to suffocate the Raskol, and by such means bring, 
about the rehgious unity of Russia. 


The Reforms of 1903 

A better epoch seemed about to dawn when on February 26, 
1903, after the fall of Pobedonostsev, the young Tsar, Nicholas 
II proclaimed Hberty of conscience; and in an Ukase promul- 
gated by the Senate on December 12, 1904, a revision was 
promised of all the laws directed against the Raskol. Official 
persecutions, remarks Palmieri, far from having enfeebled the 
rehgious feeUngs and the spirit of abnegation of the Dissenters 
had only made them more tenacious of their beUefs, readier 
than ever to sacrifice everything rather than stoop to apos- 
tasy. Accordingly they formulated the following demands: — 

1. That in official documents the offensive epithet Raskol- 
niki or dissidents should be cancelled, and that of Old believers 
or Old RituaHsts — the latter first used in Catharine IPs 
rescript of August 13, 1775 — should take its place. These 
substitutes the Orthodox objected to as implying that they 
themselves were the innovators in 1667. 

2. They demanded juridical and rehgious autonomy for 
their parishes, and a corresponding right to possess what places 
of worship and charitable institutions they liked. Till now 
they had had mainly to meet for worship in private houses. 

3. Liberty of cult, and a recognition of the legafity of the 
so-called metriki or registers drawn up by Raskol ministers. 
They asked that there should be inscribed in these the names 
of those who, though they figured in the registers of the orthodox 
priests, had nevertheless decHned their saciaments for a period 
of ten years. The law of 1883 only allowed Raskol chapels to 
be reopened which had been founded before 1826, when there 
were 1257 of them. Since 1883 and up to 1904 the number of 
their chapels had increased by 283. 

4. The right of those, who in spite of their really being 
Raskolniks, figured as orthodox in civil documents, to inscribe 
their children in the Raskol registers. Members of the Raskol 
inscribed against their will in orthodox ledgers and lists gen- 
erally refused on that account to report their births, marriages 
and deaths to the police. For example over fourteen years, 
1889-1903, according to a fairly accurate estimate, out of 


29,431 Raskolnik marriages only 1840 were reported to the 
police; out of 131,730 births, only 552.^ 

5. Lastly the Raskolniks asked in 1904 for liberty to open 
elementary schools for their children in which their own cate- 
chisms should be taught; hberty for Raskol students, not to 
have to Hsten in secondary schools to a catechist's lectures 
against their religion; exemption of their priests from miUtary 
service to which no orthodox priest is hable, and free access for 
their laity to all civil and military duties and offices. 

Their demands, owing to Pobedonostsev's sudden fall from 
power and the disasters of the Japanese War, received some 
satisfaction, and an imperial Ukase of April 17, 1905, suppressed 
the offensive Raskol, and distinguished among Russian dis- 
senters three categories: 1. of Old RituaUsts who recognize the 
sacraments and dogmatic doctrines of the Orthodox Church, 
but differ therefrom on points of ritual; 2. of Sectaries, e.g. 
the Molokani, Stundists and Dukhobortsi; 3. the 'pernicious' 
sects, e.g. the Khlysty or Flagellants and the Skoptsy or Self- 

The first-named were henceforth to be allowed to organize 
themselves into a corporate Church and enjoy such rights as 
the Lutherans or Catholics already enjoyed; they were to 
divide themselves into parishes under rectors (nastoyateli, 
nastavniki), their clergy were exempted from military service^ 
they might found schools of their own and move about without 
that machinery of passports which made them the special 
victims of poHce oppression and blackmail. The Comicil of 
Ministers, glossing the Ukase, furthermore gave them the right 
to own their churches, hospitals and cemeteries, the right of 
admission as students in military and naval academies, of 
receiving decorations and of printing their hturgies. 

These concessions excited great hopes in the breast of the 
Raskolnik, while the orthodox journals also pretended to be 
overjoyed at so signal a proof that the Russian people is hostile 
to rehgious persecution. Skvortsov wrote as follows: — "We 
know by experience that poHce measiu-es are repugnant to our 

* These figures from the Pravoslavnyi Putevoditel or "Orthodox Guide," an organ 
of the Russian Church, 1905, t. ii, p. 39. 


aims. Religious errors are maladies of heart and soul, and it 
is best to use against them nothing but the gentle words of love 
and conviction. Government protection of a church by dint 
of law generates supineness in the pastors, somnolence and 
apathy ; and it is all for the good if the Government, by with- 
drawing its aid from the Orthodox, constrains them to count 
on themselves and their own forces and to combat with their 
own weapons." ^ Yet Skvortsov had been, as Palmieri 
remarks, the hammer of the Raskolniks, the loyal henchman of 
the arch-persecutor Pobedonostsev. "When the devil is sick^ 
the devil a saint will be." 

The real feeling of the Orthodox and of the Holy Synod was 
revealed in the organ of the latter, the Kolokol or Bell, which 
objected particularly to the Hberty accorded to the Raskol to 
have its own parishes, and declared that before long the best 
energies of the official Church would pass into the ranks of the 
Raskol, seeing that the Orthodox Church in spite of the sup- 
port, protection and tutelage of the State was unable to defend 
itself. The young Tsar's Government impressed by these 
waihngs of the Holy Synod took a fresh tack, and a new Ukase 
of April 17, 1905, enacted a year's imprisonment for anyone 
who tries to seduce an orthodox person into any of the rival 
confessions by means of sermons or dissemination of written 
works or images. 

The Number of the Raskol 

What were the numbers, asks Uzov, of the Dissidents thus 
driven by the folly and cruelty of the Moscovite Government 
to the extremes of Russia and even beyond them? To this 
question he devotes considerable research, and his pages 
though wTitten as far back as 1881 cannot be ignored even 
to-day, for as he remarks their number is an important factor 
in the historical role they have played, perhaps even in the 
revolution of 1917. 

For a long time, he points out, Russian society and no less 
the Russian Government had no exact idea of their numbers, 

* Mission Review, 1905, Tom. 1, p. 542. 


and relied on the figures assigned by local officials to those 
who, registering themselves as Raskolniks in the course of the 
XVIIIth Century (1715-1782), paid double taxes. "These 
figures," writes Melnikov, "in some districts underwent no 
change for forty years, no account being taken of the excess 
of births over deaths. Here and there the poUce commis- 
saries even reduced them artificially year by year in order to 
gain credit with the government for their own efficiency as 
persecutors. In many cases, however, especially by young 
officials new to the task, attempts were made to attain sta- 
tistics closer to the facts by comparing the fists either with the 
records kept by the clergy, — in whose computations the 
numbers were almost everywhere larger than those given in 
the police bureaus, — or with independent observations. In 
such cases the numbers were apt to shew a sudden rise, and 
on reception of them the Government would demand of the 
local officials an explanation of the fact, posing such questions 
as : why had the Raskol strengthened its position in such and 
such an uyezd or district? who was responsible for so marked 
an increase in their numbers? what steps were being taken 
with a view to the prevention and destruction of Raskol 
propaganda? why had the Government not been warned 
earfier of their growth? and so forth. A rescript would then be 
sent to the local officials couched in no friendly tone and 
usually ending with a reprimand for the inconsistency of their 
informations or their want of firmness in repression of the 
sect. After once experiencing such consequences an official 
was naturally careful not to betray too much zeal in future, 
and his successors profiting by his example were equally careful 
not to bring down on their heads reproofs which unsoUcited 
zeal for fact and accuracy provoked. The result was that the 
old figures held the field, annually diminished by a small 
amount. Nevertheless any diligent head of police possessed 
formerly, and still possesses, more or less credible figures of 
the dissidents settled in a district, and sometimes the Gov- 
ernors take them into account ; but they are kept fairly secret 
and are as a rule described as unofficial figures. 

On the other hand there have been cases where the Governor 


has furnished for his entire province numbers more consonant 
with reaUty, but with similar result. Questions at once were 
rained upon him as to how and why there had come to be such 
an increase of sectaries in his Government, fresh notes were 
written, and after that everything relapsed into the old 

"Not only the poUce, but the clergy had to keep lists, and 
these in some dioceses presented higher figures than those of 
the Governors, in others lower. If it be asked why different 
estimates could be suppUed by the Government of one and 
the same region — the answer is simple : the Governor and 
the Archpriest alike rendered to their superiors fantastic 
figures, based on those of bygone years and on nothing else." ^ 

"The parish clergy," continues Melnikov, "in drawing up 
their reports paid as little regard to actual facts as the bureau- 
crats, and, hke them, kept to the figures of earlier years; for 
if they ever thought of laying before the consistory anything 
like the truth, they exposed themselves to still harsher repri- 
mands than they did. Routine and red-tape was as engrained 
in the ecclesiastical as in the civil administration." 

"Above all the clergy in parishes where there are many 
sectaries have — we regret to say — special reasons of their 
own for hiding the actual figures. The registered Raskolnik 
is a lost man as far as the priest is concerned, for he gets no 
kopecks out of him. On the other hand the unregistered one 
is a regular gold mine for his household, since he pays very 
dear to the pope for the privilege of being excused his ministra- 
tions, much dearer than does the most assiduous of his parish- 
ioners for submitting to them." 

By such methods, writes Uzov, in 1850 the number of 
Raskolniks was officially calculated as 829,971. Yet in this 
year the Minister of the Interior, Count L. A. Perovski, laid 
before the Emperor a report concerning them denying the 

1 Statistics of the Raskol by P. Melnikov in Russkii Vestnik of 1868, No. 2 (?), 
pp. 416-8. Reprinted in Melnikov's collected works, Peterb. 1898, xiv 368, in 
which I have read it. 

2 Ibid., pp. 416, 420, 422. In the reprinted edition p. 371, faktitcheskuyu seems 
to be a misprint ior fantastitchkuyu. 


reliability of the official figure and fixing the true figure at 
nine milhon; and the latter was taken as the basis of a study 
of the Raskol in the Moscow Government by an official of 
that ministry, the Councillor of State Liprandi.^ 

Perovski's report led to the nomination in 1852 of two statis- 
tical expeditions for the study of the Raskol on the spot, one 
in the Government of Nizhegorod, the other in Yaroslav. 
Soon afterwards officials were also dispatched for the same 
purpose to the Kostroma Government. "The following are 
the results of the census thus instituted in 1852 in these three 
Governments: — 

"In that of Nizhegorod according to the Governor's figures, 
the number of sectaries of both sexes, 20,246. According to 
the statistical commissioners sent to examine the facts on the 
spot, 172,500. 

"In that of Kostroma, official figure 19,870. The commis- 
sioners Bryanchaninov and Arnold! counted 105,572. 

"In that of Yaroslav the numbers were 7,454, and 278,417 

"In these three Governments then the real figures were five, 
eight and a half and thirty-seven times the official ones, and 
the official total for the three taken together one-eleventh of the 
true. It follows that the real total for the whole of Russia in 
1852 should have been not 910,000, but nearly ten milUons. 
"What is more," remarks Melnikov, "910,000 had already 
before this time been accepted in governing circles as the true 
figure." ^ There is no reason, argues Uzov, to suppose that 
the members of the Statistical Commission exaggerated; 
indeed Liprandi asserts that "attempts so conducted to 
ascertain the numbers of the Raskolniks were far from satis- 
factory, as a first essay of the sort was met everywhere not so 
much with sympathy and cooperation, as with hostihty and 
all kinds of opposition and impediments." ^ The Commission, 
continues Uzov, reduced rather than exaggerated the figures: 

1 id. pp. 416, 420, 422. 
» id. pp. 426-7. 

* Imperial Society of History and Antiquities in Moscow Univ. for 1870, bk. 2, 
art. by Liprandi, p. 115. 


e.g. in the Yaroslav Government it reckoned 278,417, where 
one of its members J. Aksakov estimates *Hhe orthodox as 
being but a fourth of the population, with the result that, as 
there were in 1852 as many as 943,583 ^ persons in this Govern- 
ment, the true proportion of dissidents must have been 672,687. 
Another member of the Commission, Count Stenbok, reckoned 
the orthodox to be only a third of the population,^ in which 
case the dissidents numbered 629,056, against an official 
record of not more than 12,000. 

In the Nizhegorod Government the Commission only counted 
172,000, where in the sequel the Bishop Jeremiah found 

We are justified therefore, says Uzov, in concluding with 
Liprandi, that the real number, if more carefully calculated 
than they could be by the members of the Commission of 1852, 
must have been "immeasurably greater"^ than was allowed 
by them. In 1853 the Government began an inquisition on a 
much vaster scale based on a cooperation of the officials of the 
Ministry of the Interior with the clergy. The results of the 
two sets of investigators were compared, and the "general 
conclusion was that the Raskolniks were ten times as numer- 
ous as had been supposed." ^ The sectaries themselves, 
"though very reserved in their confidence estimated their 
number at ten millions."® 

In proof of the huge hiatus there was between the real and 
official numbers may be cited, adds Uzov, the case of the 
Archangel Government, where "officially 4,428 persons were 
allowed to be dissenters, though the Hieromonachus Donatus 
counted 90,000, or twenty times as many.' In the Povenets 
district of the Olonets Government the official figure was 
2,383, out of a total of 24,628 inhabitants.^ Here Mainov avers 

* Russian Archives, 1866, No. 4, p. 634. 
2 Sbomik by Kelsiev, t. iv, pp. 24, 329. 

' Sobranie Postanovlenii (collected regulations) for Raskol, bk. 2, p. 673. 

* Liprandi in Imperial Society of Antiquities 1. c. 

* Riisskiya Vesti, 1868, No. 2, art. II. of Melnikov, p. 435. In edition p. 381. 

* Liprandi, op. cit. p. 115, and Statistical Tables, p. 211. 

^ Records of the Archangel Govt, for 1863, art. of Donatus, p. 80. 
' Records of Olonets Gov., 1866. 


that in reality no more than five hundred orthodox inhabitants 
or rather five hundred lukewarm sectaries could be mustered 
in the same district.^ In other words the Raskol have exceeded 
the official estimate by ten times. 

There is another way of arriving at the figures of the Raskol, 
namely the following: 

In the census of the Ministry of Cults for 1859 the number 
of orthodox beUevers in all Russia is put at 51,474,209. Of 

1. Confessing and receiving the Sacrament 35,081,097 

2. Confessing but not receiving the Sacrament 2,196,714 

3. Infants not confessing 9,232,234 

4. Not confessing for other satisfactory reasons 819,951 

5. Not confessing by reason of negligence 3,417,231 

6. Not confessing through leaning to the Raskol 726,982 

These six categories include the entire population under 
the care of the orthodox clergy, but not the registered Raskol- 
niks. Obviously the sixth category, however, belongs to them 
entire, and in secret almost the whole of the fifth, say three 
millions, as also the second, say two. Lastly we must sub- 
tract a proportion of the third and fourth, say ten per cent, or 
in all about one million. Then again we must bear in mind 
that many Raskolniks, especially those who belong to the sects 
furthest removed from orthodoxy, go to confession and com- 
munion punctually, because this is their only way of deceiving 
the poUce and avoiding incarceration. Among these we must 
reckon, says Uzov, "the entire body of the Spasov sect, 
very numerous on the Volga and reckoned by Melnikov in his 
Numbers of the Raskol at 700,000. We have no means of com- 
puting the number of the latter, so we will confine ourselves to 
the approximate figures exhibited above, and assume the total 
of the Raskol openly registered to be seven millions, and will 
include the secret Raskolniks, who discharge all the rites of 
orthodoxy, say as many as eight milUons. Most probably 
we may take 10% of the entire population or one-sixth of the 

^ Mainov, Tour in Obonezh and Korel. 


orthodox population."^ It follows, remarks Uzov, that in 1859 
there were 8,579,034 of them. 

For reasons, he adds, which we do not grasp, Bushen in his 
computations completely ignores the registered Raskolniks, 
who according to Melnikov were in 1859 reckoned at 875,382. 
Adding these to the sum of those taken account of in the 
Statistical Tables, we reach the figure 9,456,416. 

Thus, concludes Uzov, if we combine the figures drawn up 
by the officials of the Ministry of the Interior with those of 
the Statistical Tables, we may fairly assume that in 1859 there 
were nine and a half millions. Assuming the annual increase 
of population to be 1.3%, the figure nine and a half millions 
for 1859 would in 1878 have altered to twelve milUons. But 
we cannot rest at this figure, for the number increases pari 
passu not only with the birth-rate, but with the propaganda. 
According to Bellyustin the peasants are being converted to 
the Raskol ' en masse J ^ "At the present time (1880) it wins 
adherents even in parishes where it was unknown." ^ The 
priest Tverdynski declares that, "to his sorrow, he must agree 
with the apologists of the Raskol, that the number of its con- 
verts from orthodoxy goes up by thousands."^ "I have 
seen," says Mackenzie Wallace, "large villages in which by 
the testimony of the inhabitants, there was not fifteen years 
ago a single Raskolnik, and now fully half the people are 
Molokanye." He also says of the Stundists that "according 
to the latest information the number of the sect increases," ^ 
in spite of official castigation with birch twigs. 

Apart from the above testimonies to the increase, Uzov 
points to the articles of the priests Blagoveshchenski in 
Strannik, 1865, No. 7, p. 23: Gromachevski in Zarya, 1871, 
No. 9: CM. B. in Strannik, 1871, No. 2, p. 93: and to an 
article entitled: "How explain the longevity of the Raskol? " 
in Christian Readings {Khrist. Chteniya), 1871, pt. 1, and also 

1 StcUistical Tables of the Russ. Empire. Published by Ministry of the Interior, 

2 Russkii Vestnik, 1865, June, p. 761. 

3 Orthodox Conversations (pravosl. sobesyed.) 1866, pt. 3, art. by E. L. p. 264. 
* Strannik 1866, No. 3, p. 129. 

» Vestnik Europy 1877, No, 5, p. 340. See edition of New York, 1880, p. 304. 


to the evidence tendered by officials that have studied the 
Raskol as well as by the other persons already mentioned. 
He warns us that we must fm-thermore distinguish between 
real and only nominal conversion, understanding by the latter 
the passage from secret to open adherence, which with the 
relaxation of persecution has become a daily phenomenon in 
Russian life. Orthodoxy incurs no loss thereby; it only re- 
duces the takings of the orthodox clergy. In all allusions to 
conversions we have had in view real conversion and no other. 

To sum up, writes Uzov, if we take into consideration the 
\'igour of Raskol propaganda during the last twenty years, ^ 
we may raise the figiu'e of twelve milhons to thirteen or four- 
teen in 1880. 

Uzov next attempts to estimate the distribution of the total 
according to the different groups or concords as they are called. 
According to the figures of the officials of the Ministry of the 
Interior in 1852 in the Yaroslav Government, the number of 
dissidents (Uniats) was 134%; Popovtsy lQ}47o', Spasov group 
8M%; Pomortsy 1M%; Thedosyevtsy 30%; PhiUppovtsy 
123^%; Khlysty and Skoptsy }i%; total 67^%; for the re- 
maining 3034% no data.^ 

In the Kostroma Government there were found of those 
who prayed for the Tsar (chiefly Popovtsy, though there were 
here Bezpopovtsy also of the Pomorski Communion) 39%; 
of those who did not, chiefly Thedosyevtsy and PhiUppovtsy, 
283/^%; of the Spasov group 31 3^^%; Khlysty and Skoptsy 


Comparing these figures, Uzov deduces that the Popovtsy 
make up about 28%, the Bezpopovtsy about 55, Khlysty and 
Skoptsy 3^%, leaving 163^% unknown. And dividing up the 
13,000,000 Raskolniks in the corresponding proportions, 
Uzov reaches the following figures: 

Popovtsy, 3,640,000: 

Bezpopovtsy, 7,150,000; 

Khlysty, etc., 65,000; 

Unascertained, 2,145,000. 

1 i.e. 1860-1880. 

* Kelsiev Sbornik, iv, p. 84r-135. 


Of the last, one million he claims are 'spiritual Christians.' 
That there are as many is attested by the facts: firstly that, 
according to the Government inquisition of 1842-1846 into 
the Molokan sect, its adherents, secret or overt, numbered 
200,000 in the Government of Tambov alone; secondly, he 
adduces the testimony of Mackenzie Wallace that there are 
some hundreds of thousands of them, and that latterly their 
diffusion has increased on a vast scale. Besides that we must 
remark, he says, that we are leckoning among the Spiritual 
Christians the Evangehcals (Stundists), who, notwithstanding 
that they are a relatively new sect, already can count a formid- 
able number of adherents. 

The figures here assigned by Uzov to the Popovtsy and 
Bezpopovtsy, are based on those of 1852 ; but since that date 
up to 1880, when he wrote, they both increased by leaps and 
bounds. All who are famihar with the Raskol testify that the 
sects without a clergy gain at the expense of the sects who 
retain it. Thus already in 1853 Liprandi noted that "the 
Bezpopovtsy heresy is spreading among us with incredible 
rapidity," and that "for some time past they have won over 
to themselves members of the rival sect." ^ Bellyustin 
writing in 1865 says that "among the peasants the diffusion 
and acceptance are ever deeper and stronger of such teachings 
as amount intellectually to a denial of all that even savours 
of priesthood." - Taking into account the leakage of the 
sects with clergy into those without, we could reckon the 
number of the former in the year 1880 at three millions, of 
the latter at eight. 

M. Anatole Leroy BeauHeu in the third volume of his 
L' Empire des Tsars, pubUshed in 1889, p. 377 estimates the 
number of Old believers (to the exclusion of other sects) at 
twelve to fifteen milUons, but omits to state in detail the bases 
of his calculation, which is unduly cautious, but he justly adds 
that no j&gures can impart a fair idea of the importance of the 
Raskol. The influence of this Russian Schism cannot, Uke 

1 Imperial Society of History in Moscow University for 1870, bk. 2, art. of 
Liprandi, pp. 78 and 119. 

* Russkii Vestnik, 1865, June. 


that of most established religions, be measured by figures. 
For it exists not merely as a Church, a confession adopted by 
so many millions of souls. It is often a simple tendency, a 
bias to which many incUne who have not openly quitted the 
official orthodoxy. Its strength hes less in the overt adepts 
than in the masses who mutely sympathize with it. This 
sympathy is intelligible if we bear in mind that it issued spon- 
taneously out of the heart of the people and is a product no 
less than a glorification of popular customs and ideas. Instead 
of loathing them as rebels and heretics, the peasants and work- 
men, who remain within the fold of the Church, often regard 
these old-beUevers as most pious and fervent people, as Chris- 
tians resembUng those of antiquity who were persecuted for 
their faith. In many regions, among the petit peuple we meet 
with the singular opinion that official orthodoxy is only good 
for the lukewarm, that it is a worldly reUgion through which it 
is barely possible to attain salvation, that the holy and true 

religion is that of the old-beUevers A high functionary, 

charged, towards the close of Nicholas the First's reign to 
conduct a secret enquiry into the Raskol, tells an instructive 
anecdote on the point: "When I entered a peasant's izha or 
hut I was often received with the words 'We are not Chris- 
tians.' 'What then are you, infidels?' 'No,' they would 
answer, 'we beheve in Christ, but we belong to the Church, 
for we are worldly frivolous people.' 'Why are you not 
Christians, since you beheve in Christ?' 'Christians,' they 
reply, 'are those who stick to the old faith, and they don't 
pray in the same way as we do ; but as for us, we have no time 
to imitate them.' " 

Uzov concludes that the 12 to 13 milhons of Raskolniks aUve 
in 1880 could be apportioned as follows: — 





Spiritual Christians 


Khlysty, etc. 


Total 12,065,000 


There remained a million over, but there were no data of a 
kind to indicate to which of the above sects they belonged. 

Uzov's statistical researches here given are of singular 
value; for, as I point out later on, the figures given some 
twenty years later by the Russian State and Church authori- 
ties were, to put it mildly, misleading. Allowing for growth 
of population alone, there must have been some twenty mil- 
hons of Raskol in 1900; if we allow for their active propaganda 
many more. In 1917 their numbers must have approached 
twenty-five milhons at least. Yet at the end of the century 
Russian Authorities, after twenty years of Pobedonostsev's 
regime, reckoned them at only two million and a quarter, a 
figure fantastically small. 

Controversial Propaganda against the Raskol 

It remains to say a few words about the missions organized 
by the Russian Government for the conversion of the Raskol. 
They began with Peter the Great, who deputed Pitirim, Bishop 
of Nizhni-Novgorod (1665-1738), whose figure has already 
crossed our pages, to find arguments against the dissidents. 
His arguments were not so potent that he did not very soon 
realize the necessity of sustaining them with the secular 
arm; and in 1715 an Ukase decreed death against any who 
should traverse them. Peter also, as we saw, sent the monk 
Neophitus, chosen for the task by Pitirim in 1722, to convert 
the Raskolniks of Vyg in Russian Pomerania or Pomor. He 
was no match for the dialectic of the two brothers Denisov, 
and speedily invoked the stake to second his arguments. It is 
to the credit of Tsar Alexander I that in his reign the Raskol 
were left alone even by missionaries, but under Nicholas I the 
various sees were warned by Government of the necessity of 
missionary enterprise, that of Perm in 1827, Penza in 1828, 
Saratov in 1833, Chernigov in 1838, Irkutsk in 1839. The 
missionaries were well paid and armed with Raskol books lest 
they should not know what they had to confute. In 1853 
chairs of anti-Raskol history and confutation were directed 
by the Synod to be created in seminaries, and printed counter- 


blasts began to be prepared. In 1882, 4,000 roubles were voted 
for the printing expenses of a single year; all episcopal and 
parish Ubraries are furnished with such books free gratis and 
for nothing. In 1886 confraternities were organized for com- 
bating the Raskol, especially among women. Two years before 
an older regulation was revived obliging seminarists to study 
the Raskol, — a most dangerous ordinance. In 1888 also the 
corps of missionaries was organized on a more ambitious plan 
than ever before, and new arrangements made for public 
debates with Raskol teachers. The missionaries themselves 
regularly met in conclave to discuss their successes with the 
orthodox prelates. 

Palmieri gives some interesting details (p. 443, foil.) of recent 
missionary literature directed against the Raskol. The 
Bratskoe Slovo (Fraternal words) is a journal which began in 
January, 1875 under the editorship of N. N. Subbotin, professor 
of the Church Academy in Moscow, one whose name has often 
figured in our pages, a man of learning and large minded. It 
came to an end in 1899 for want of subscribers, but contains a 
multitude of articles of great value. 

In 1888 the Moscow clergy started a weekly journal under the 
direction of Protohierei I. T. Vinogradov, called the Drug 
Istiny or "Friend of Truth." It was more miUtant in tone 
than Subbotin's journal and came to an end in 1890. In 1896 
appeared at Kiev a new journal, the Missionerskoe Obozrenie 
or "Missionary Review" under the patronage of Pobedonost- 
sev, with the ardent collaboration of B. M. Skvortsov, professor 
of Raskol history in the Kiev Seminary. In 1899 it was trans- 
ferred to Petersburg, and in it has been pubUshed much of 
importance; but in tone it was fanatical and reactionary, full 
of hatred of Catholicism and ever demanding a crusade against 
the Raskol which it wished to see suffocated in blood. Even 
the orthodox clergy learned to detest it. In 1903 a new 
monthly journal the Pravoslavnyi Putevoditel or "Orthodox 
Guide" appeared at Petersburg. In 1906 it became a bi- 
monthly journal, and its tone was more liberal than Skvortsov's 

Successes, however, have been microscopic, and, if under 


Alexander III they claimed to convert annually eight or ten 
thousand persons, this was to be attributed more to the intran- 
sigent ferocity of Pobedonostsev than to genuine missionary 
effort, although over 400 missionaries were at work. The 
moment freedom of conscience was proclaimed by Nicholas II 
in 1903, there was no more talk of conversions to orthodoxy but 
only of defection en masse among soi-disant Orthodox. Palmieri 
attributes the futility of missionary effort to the fact that not a 
few of the missionaries and most popes are not educated enough 
to reply to their adversaries, who have a rich literature of their 
own, and do not scruple to silence them, often by simply talk- 
ing conunon sense. Zealous partisans of orthodoxy, Uke 
Ivanovski himself, have been the first to recognize that fresh 
blood is needed in orthodox seminaries, if the clergy are ever to 
exert any influence on the Raskol. The lives of the parish 
priests, their drunkenness, avarice and serviUty to Govern- 
ment, in themselves constituted a mighty stumbling-block. 
Nor have the public debates which Raskol teachers have been 
compelled to hold with orthodox missionaries borne fruit. As 
often as not they ended in the ridiculous discomfiture of the 
spokesmen of orthodoxy, and only served to inflame reUgious 
passions. In many cases the paid missionary of the Holy 
Synod ended by invoking the aid of the police and he was 
everywhere regarded as a spy in the service of the State. If the 
missionaries had been real students of the Raskol, they could 
have spent their time better, says Palmieri, in combating the 
Raskol in periodicals. Nor v/ere the orthodox schoolmasters 
appointed in Raskol districts ideals of Christian virtue; the 
net result was that Raskol youth subjected to their teaching 
shewed little inclination to profit by it. 

The orthodox press has ever been prone to resort to calunmy 
and talk of the moral decadence of the Raskol; but the facts 
in this field belie the reports of the missionaries. A mother of a 
family who noticed the change wrought in her husband from 
the first moment he began to frequent Raskol meetings, in 
particular that he gave up drink, became herseff an apostle of 
the doctrines that had regenerated the domestic hearth.^ 

1 Kalnev in Mission. Obozrenie, 1906, t. ii, p. 62, foil. 


Liprandi, though as we saw above, a persecutor, acknowl- 
edges the virtues of the Raskolniks in his "Short Sketch of the 
RaskoV (1853) as follows: — "Russian people delight to listen 
to stories and in particular to readings of Scripture. The 
Raskol are more literary than the Orthodox and make the most 
of the case. They are ever ready to tender their services to a 
village neighbour, and by reading the Gospel and other religi- 
ous books and interpreting them to them, insensibly win them 
over. The Orthodox envy the affluence of their Raskol neigh- 
bours. They do not reflect that they never spend a farthing at 
the grog shop, that they keep sober and work hard every day. 
The Raskolnik wife when she goes to town wastes no money on 
ribbons, whereas the Orthodox one pm-chases all she sees when 
she goes there or visits her friends, goes to weddings, baptisms 
or church, all of which the Raskolnik finds superfluous. The 
Orthodox person without reflecting sets all this down to the 
superiority of the Raskol religion and nolens volens is predis- 
posed in favour of it, — all the more so because, in case she does 
join it, she finds herself actually able to better her position." 

We have seen how impossible it is to calculate its numerical 
strength. We can only guess at it. But whatever its real 
figures may be they do not represent the limits of its influence, 
for several reasons. Millions of peasants, nominally Orthodox, 
look up, we saw, to their Raskolnik neighbours as champions 
of the true ancient faith of Russia and secretly condemn 
themselves as backshders. This popular reverence for the 
dissenters is enhanced by their superior standard of morality 
and of education and by the wealth which accompanies these. 
To their eminent sobriety I have already cited the testimony 
of several writers. I add two more such tributes. The first 
is from a well-informed Russian who published anonymously 
a work on them entitled Le Raskol in Paris in 1859. He is 
hostile to them, yet he writes thus (p. 99) : 

"In general you meet to-day with more moraUty in the 
masses of the people than you do in certain exalted circles of 
Russian society. Among the Schismatics the Popovtsy, the 
most (?) numerous, often practise virtues unknown to those 
who are loyal to the State Church. Even among the Bezpo- 


povtsy, whose doctrines deliver man wholly to the caprice of 
his passions, it is not rare to behold regularity of manners result 
from the very cause which ought to ruin and degrade them. 
Thus among them marriage is in principle only a temporary 
union, and its duration depends on that of the mutual affection 
of the parties. And yet these unions seemingly so fragile are 
often solid, and offer remarkable examples of conjugal concord 
and peace. Husband and wife, being in love, avoid mutual 
provocation, fear to alienate each other's goodwill, make 
allowance for one another's faults, and live in the most exem- 
plary manner." 

M. Volkov in his Lettres de V Stranger is equally loud in praise 
of the purity of life he witnessed among these sectaries when he 
lived among them. ''In general, he says, they are also less 
ignorant than the adherents of the Orthodox Church. Most of 
them can read and write, but they read only the Scriptures, 
being of opinion that the human intelligence needs no other 
reading." Elsewhere he writes (p. 122): "If the Raskol 
reject the official religion, it is because the priests are servants 
of an administration which oppresses them, which claims to 
enslave their consciences, which despising the most sacred rights 
of the individual violates his domicile, tears from him the 
symbols of his faith, his venerated images, mute witnesses of 
his religious transports, snatches them from him on the sole 
ground that they do not conform to the orthodox model. If 
then the Russian people has affirmed its liberty of conscience 
imtil to-day, it has done so in the way of religious opposition. 
With them the activity of the free spirit has never manifested 
itself through abstract writings, but in and through an unin- 
terrupted series of reUgious sects . . . Every day the people's 
protest against the fetters fastened on the conscience becomes 
more patent and general. . .Since Peter the Great's brusque 
reforms, beneficial as they were in some respects, the leaven of 
revolt has been fermenting in the masses of the people. His 
reforms have ever figured in popular imagination as an attack 
on their traditions, their ways of life, as a vague and undefined 
aggravation of their state of servitude. . .They submitted to 
these reforms, but never acquiesced in them. They took 


refuge in a tacit and passive resistance which endures to-day. 
The German and bureaucratic civilization these reforms 
imposed on the peasant annoys, wearies, stifles him. It is as 
if a cloud of government employes had alighted on a con- 
quered land and were exploiting it." 

Let us remember that the above was written before the serf 
was emancipated. Can we doubt that he found in religion a 
freedom of the soul and conscience, a spiritual antidote and 
anodyne of the slavery to which the Proprietor and the State 
subjected his person? 

The Publications of the Raskol in Modern Times 

Owing to the censorship Raskol writers were seldom able ta 
print anything, but their works circulated in manuscript. 
Similarly when I was in Tiflis twenty-five years ago I was 
surprised to hear how many works of Tolstoy and other reUgi- 
ous authors were circulating in copies all written out by hand. 
The Raskol were able, however, to print books in Austria and 
it was there that Uzov, to whom I am so much indebted, pub- 
Hshed his important work: Tserkov Khristova wremenno hez 
episkopa "The Church of Christ temporarily without a bishop." 
In Prussia and Rumania the Raskolniks also had presses and,, 
as we saw above, Kelsiev's monumental work was published in 
London by Trubner as early as 1870. In 1878 the Staroo- 
bryadets or ''Old Ritualist" appeared in Austria and ran for 
eight years, the regular organ of the Raskol, circulating far 
and wide, but in secret, in Russia. A similar journal, the Slova 
Pravdy began to be published in 1896 at Braila in Rumania,, 
but the Russian pohce got hold of the editor the following year 
and he went to prison. In 1905 at Klimutz in Bukovina was 
begun the Staroobriadcheski Vestnik or Messenger of the Old 
Ritualists, which boldly took the Une that, if the Russian- 
Orthodox Church desired any reconciliation with the Dissi- 
dents, it must unsay and undo the last two hundred and fifty 
years of its history. In January, 1906 for the first time they 
were allowed to print their books in Russia, and a monthly 
was begun at Nizhni Novgorod called Staroobriadets, in the 


supplements of which have appeared many old monuments of 
the movement, e.g. the Diakonovskie Otviety or "Responses of a 
Deacon," written by the Deacon Alexander of that city, who 
was burned at the stake in 1720; also the Vinograd rossiiskii of 
Simeon Denisov, a collection of lives of leading Raskolniks. 
The Moscow Narodnaya Gazeta or "Popular Gazette" published 
twice a week a supplement called the Golos Staroobryadtsa, a 
chronicle of the Old believers, and once a month appears the 
Isbornik, a splendidly illustrated supplement dedicated to the 
history of the sect, and of much value. The Molokani, since 
1905 have issued a monthly at Tiflis called Dukhovnyi Khris- 
tianin or " Spiritual Christian." 

"The influence among the Raskol," writes an orthodox pub- 
licist Vishnyakov,^ " of monks and nuns is still very great, 
and is seen not so much in their asceticism, as in other points 
in which they excel, in their Uterary aptitudes, their books, 
their book-trade, their educational system, etc. All this 
requires spare time, which the lying ascetics procure at the 
expense of the village conmiune." In the great annual fair of 
Nizhni Novgorod the manuscripts etc. for chiu-ch use of Raskol 
monks and nuns are remarkable. 

Palmieri gives a striking summary of the teaching inculcated 
in the Old Believing journals, especially in the Staroobryadets, 
PoUtically they stand for respect of all nationaUties and all 
rehgions; they support the constitutionaUst party, urge eco- 
nomic reforms, work hard to settle the quarrel between capital 
and labour and to improve the conditions of the proletariat. 

The Church, say the Dissenters, must undertake all these 
problems. It is not an infalUble clergy, but consists of the 
whole people freely choosing its priests and supervising its own 
ecclesiastical affairs. The supreme government of the Church 
is not vested in any monarch but in councils. In Russia they 
say there is no fear of clericalism among the adherents of the 
Raskol; for that is only possible where the church is not sepa- 
rate from the state, or is hampered in its life by conventions 
and concordats. Freed from the support, poUtical and material, 
of the State, the Church becomes once again the free society of 

1 Nevskii Sbarnik, 1867, p. 91. 


the faithful, a Christian brotherhood, a body whose mission is 
always spiritual and whose influence is propagated in souls by 
means of persuasion and charity. For this principle of hberty 
and independence the Old believers have undergone martyr- 
dom for two centuries and a half. In their poHtical program 
also figures the abolition of death and hfe sentences, as a bar- 
barous custom contrary to divine laws. On the intellectual 
and moral side they would educate the people, and they combat 
drunkenness and the use of tobacco, as diabolical inventions 
for the destruction of mankind. 

In religious matters they do not conceal their hostility 
towards the official Church, which they blame for the com- 
plete divorce there is in Russia between pastors and people. 
The orthodox clergy, enslaved by Government, never raise 
their voice to defend the rights of the Church. The latter 
should stand above political factions and limit its action to the 
field of morals. The orthodox clergy are devoured with avar- 
ice. In peasant families children are left seven or eight months 
unbaptized, because the parents have no money to pay the 
pope the sum asked for the sacrament. Parents often live in 
concubinage, because the popes demand fifteen, twenty or 
twenty-five roubles before they will bless their unions. Often 
a corpse remains for days unburied because the pope asks five 
roubles before he will inter it in the cemetery. 

The official Church in Russia is dead, exhausted, under the 
thumb of lay bureaucrats, subject to the Powers of the world, 
vending the heritage of Christ for a morsel of bread, with no 
faculty of self-reform from within, and without the aid of the 
Government. In its relations with the police you behold it 
sacrifice sincerity and authority and enslave itself to Babylon. 
Russian orthodox Christianity is wholly official, a mystic 
Byzantinism barely to be distinguished from pagan formafism. 
The Russian clergy preach to the people the indissoluble union 
of autocracy, orthodoxy and nationality, and deny the form of 
government to be a thing both human and mutable. This is 
why the clergy has made itself hated of an oppressed people 
and has pardoned all and every act of violence. The Church 
has really transformed itself into a poHtical institution, and its 


pastors, mere employes of the Government, by their conduct 
sow incredulity and atheism and slay faith in the people's 
heart. The faithful perceive that the religious Ufe of Ortho- 
doxy is reduced to a legahstic formaUsm, a mechanical asceti- 
cism, that the Russian Church is no longer a society consciously 
bound up in itself by a spirit of love and brotherhood; they 
know that hierocratic despotism takes for its device the 
formula: ''I am the Church, the Church is I," and intolerant 
of such oppression they abandon the temple. 

To remedy such a condition of petrifaction and putrifaction 
the organs of the Old believers propose a series of measures 
that would restore to the Russian Church its primitive and 
pristine splendour; they insist on decentraUzation, the institu- 
tion of Councils, the suppression of the system which puffs up 
and aggrandizes the orthodox clergy by loading them with 
secular honours and medals, etc. But the ills which beset it are 
no merely passing ones. Its entire framework is weakened by 
the marasma which besets one who for long years languishes 
among tombs. Like a parasitic organism it nourishes itseK on 
the Uving juices of the civil power alone, and its Ufe will fade 
away as soon as it is refused such diet or refuses it of its own 

In such criticism one catches the glow in the sky which 
heralded the dawn of the Russian Revolution. Quod felix 
faustum sit. 

William Palmer writing in 1871 the preface to his Replies of 
the humhU Nicon, p. xxiv, penned the following remarkable 
words : 

"It is possible, too, to imagine such changes in the world 
at large, as might make it the poUcy of the Russian govern- 
ment to return towards faith and piety. 

"Supposing that before long, the Turkish empire should 
come to its end, without Syria falling under the exclusive 
dominion or protection of Russia, and that the Jewish nation- 
aUty reappearing in Palestine, a part of that nationaUty should, 
from Infidel become Christian, just as now a part of the Italian 
nationaUty have, from Christians and Catholics, become as 
infidel Jews. Suppose then that, within a century, St. Peter, 


in his successor, should go away from the Italians, become Jews 
at Rome, to the Jews become Christians at Jerusalem; a sup- 
position which, after the experience at Avignon, cannot be 
rejected as absolutely impossible. 

Suppose too that, in spite of great social changes, such as the 
cessation of all coercion in matters of belief or unbelief, and of 
the former union of chm-ch and state, there should still exist in 
Russia a government leaning rather on the orderly and reUgious, 
than on the anarchical and irreUgious part of the nation, when 
the pole of Christianity is shifted from the West to the East, 
'the time of the Gentiles' and of the desolation of the Holy 
Land being fulfilled. Under such circumstances it might 
perhaps be as much the interest and poUcy of a Russian emperor 
to heal the Greek schism, as it was before the interest and 
policy of the Tm-kish Sultans directly, and of the Russian 
sovereigns indirectly, to maintain and perpetuate it." 

So much of this curious forecast has lately come true that it 
is not, we hope, impossible that someday the Christianity of 
the West, duly purged, may hnk up with an equally purged 
Christianity of the East. But is it impossible that it will be, 
not, as Palmer imagines, the orthodox of the two hemispheres, 
but the heretics and dissenters who will point the way and 
by their example shame formalists into true charity? 

Part II 


The three sects which I have next to describe are as char- 
acteristically Little Russian in their origin and provenance as 
the Raskolniks are Great Russian. They are those which 
Russian pubUcists have agreed to call Rationalists ^ or Mystics. 
It is somewhat of a misnomer, but it calls attention to the fact 
that they are the outcome, not of reverence for the traditions 
and ritual of the Great Churches, but of inward illumination; 
of the spirit that quickens rather than of the letter which 
killeth. They are Montanist rather than Catholic in tone and 
tendency, and, if in the Early Church there was, as in old 
Israel, an antithesis between prophet and priest, so in these 
sects prophecy is first, priesthood second; they are a protest 
against the latent tendency in human nature for the seer to 
develop into a formularist. I shall begin with the twin sects 
of Dukhobortsy and Molokanye, both indefinably ancient and 
branches of one and the same stem and pass on to the Stundites, 
in whom German influence is more visible. 

The origin of these 'heretical' sects of Russia is obscure; it is 
probable however, that the Dukhobortsy and Molokanye, as well 
as the Khlysty, antedate the Old behevers by many generations. 
The Intelligentsia of Russia, when they first became aware of 
these 'protestant heretics' in their midst, jumped at the con- 
clusion that they were, like themselves, an importation, from 
the West. They had already made the mistake of regarding 
the Raskol as a party of religious stagnation, a litter of igno- 
rance and obscm-antism, of blind adherence to the letter, of 
petrified superstition, of routine and respect for an outworn 
past. Ever since the reign of Peter I, who first encouraged 

1 Ivanovski like other Russian publicists means by rationalism rejection of 
ecclesiastical authority, a "protestant" claim to think out one's creed and inter- 
pret Scripture without the aid of a priest. To his mind also the Raskolniki whom 
we have so far dealt with are only, like the Latins, schismatics; the sects we now 
approach, like the churches of the west that have broken with Rome, are heretics. 
On the whole, we shaU see, his charge of rationalistic interpretation of the Scrip- 
ture means no more than that these sects try to take the Grospel in the sense ia 
which it was meant to be read. 



them, these 'superior' people of Russia have imagined that they 
alone tread the path of progress. They derived their illumina- 
tion and infidelity from the West; was it possible that sects 
which rebelled against the yoke of Orthodoxy with less cere- 
mony even than the Old believers should draw their inspiration 
from any other quarter? Accordingly this explanation was 
taken on trust and imexamined, found to be not only credible, 
but a compliment to the Genius of the Russian people. Yet it 
ignored the leading characteristic of these sects, which was that 
their revolt was rather moral than intellectual, of the heart 
rather than of the head. Their cry was 'Back to Christ,' and 
away from a Church which, affecting to beUeve the Gospel to 
be a Divine Message, has ever since the nominal conversion 
under Constantine of the Roman Empire, ostentatiously set it 
aside. True Christian piety, — they contended — passed under- 
ground in the fourth century to emerge afresh in the bosom of 
their own and similar congregations. 

They were not far wrong. And the remarkable thing in 
Russia is that this movement back to Christ has ever been an 
indigenous impulse, a direct result of putting the New Testa- 
ment in the hands of Russian peasants, the spontaneous echo 
which the book awoke in an anima naturaliter Christiana. With 
them there is not even the antecedent provocation to become 
Christians which there was in the case of the Raskol. The 
latter was in origin a protest on the part of a few who saw their 
ancestral customs and convictions assailed, not by Poles or 
alien Latin influences, but by their own countrymen, whom 
they expected to defend and champion them. Perhaps the 
contest with Nikon took shape as a spiritual one and was fought 
out with the weapons of controversy, because the numerical 
insignificance of the Raskol and the deeply engrained, almost 
instinctive, capacity of the Russian poor to endure violence 
humbly and patiently at the hands of their own rulers rendered 
it out of the question to employ the crude material methods of 
resistance with which they had encountered Tartars and 
Latins. The Raskol then was a reaction against violence, a 
defence of old convictions doubled with local patriotism in 
opposition to a civil authority as cruel as it was arrogant. 


Dukhoborism, Molokanism and Stundism on the other hand 
savour more of pure conversion to simple Christianity. There 
underlies these sects little except a conscience responsive to 
the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. While admitting 
all this, we can yet recognize that the first two of these move- 
ments exhibit certain traits which remind us of the Cathar or 
Albigensian sects, and it is probable that the Bogomilism of 
Bulgaria and of the Balkans, still vigorous in the crusading 
epoch, was the germ out of which they developed. The foreign 
elements they hold in suspension are anyhow more likely to have 
entered Russia from Bulgaria than from Germany or even from 
Armenia and Asia Minor where from the earUest centuries was 
diffused a type of faith, the Paulician, closely related to Cathar- 
ism, as I have pointed out in my edition of the Key of Truth, 
the manual of the Armenian Pauhcians. 

Such elements must, like Byzantine orthodoxy, have pene- 
trated Muscovy across the Ukraine by way of Kiev. For 
Little Russia was in close contact with Muscovy long before 
Peter the Great broke his window into the Baltic Sea and paved 
an open road along which the stately German influence could 
advance. It has been noticed that the religious folk-songs of 
Little Russia agree in presenting variants met with sporadi- 
cally in Bulgarian, Serbian, Czech, Moravian, Polish, even 
German Hussite sources, and it would be an interesting study 
to compare the Dukhobortsy hymns with those of the early 
Anabaptists. If the above considerations be vaUd we must 
regard this sect to some extent as a continuation on Russian 
soil of the primitive semi-gnostic, perhaps Marcionite and 
Pneimiatic, Christianity of the first centuries. As it radiated 
from Asia Minor through the Balkans to South Russia, so from 
Rome it spread by way of Milan, Marseilles and Lyons through- 
out western Europe. Widely diffused in the west under the 
crust of dominant Catholicism, it emerged into the light in the 
great upheaval of the Reformation; latent equally among 
the Slavs it came to the surface when the Raskol movement and 
the so-called reforms of Peter the Great stirred Russia to 
her depths. 

But from whatever sources and by whatever means they 


penetrated Russia, the Dukhobortsy emerged clearly into view 
according to the historian Novitski (Kiev, 1832), about the 
year 1785. They were then met with as an organized sect in 
the village of Nikolski in the Ekaterinoslav Government, imder 
a teacher named Silvan (Siluyan) Kolesnikov. There they 
attracted the attention of the local bishop Ambrose, who is 
said first to have stigmatized them as a sect of Pneumato- 
machi that ''fought against the Holy Spirit." The sectaries 
interpreted the title to mean that the Spirit fought in them. 
The people at first called them Ikon-wrestlers, because they 
rejected ikons. 

Dukhoborism demanded of its adherents so lofty an ethical 
level that it spread httle before it accommodated itself in the 
form of Molokanism to the mentality of Russian peasants. 
Even so transformed, its propaganda only began on a great 
scale about the year 1860. It must to-day count its adherents 
by millions. 

Stundism is the only one of the trio which can even in part be 
identified with a German evangeUcalism or methodism, trans- 
ported on to Russian soil. It probably owes more to Molo- 
kanism. If its adherents claim a Teutonic origin they do so, 
because as such they acquire a title to toleration not accorded 
to sects of purely Russian origin. They allied themselves in the 
closing years of the last century with the Molokanye of the Don, 
and the difference between them and any form of Lutheranism 
has constantly increased. That German settlers in Russia for 
years rarely talked any but their own language, in itself miU- 
tates against the facile hypothesis of a purely German origin 
for this or other Russian sects. German missionaries no doubt 
furnished the Stundist impulse, but it is mainly a product of the 
Russian reUgious genius. 

Ivanovski, overprone to shallow explanations of reUgious 
facts, exaggerates German influence among his countrymen, 
and is inclined to date the rise of these three sects in the reign 
of Peter the Great, because that monarch allowed Russian 
translations to be made of the Latin, Lutheran and Calvinist 
catechisms; and he makes much of the fact that a Russian of 
Moscow named Dmitri Tveritinov, anathematized by the 


clergy for heresy and imprisoned in a monastery — one of his 
followers was burned aUve — had studied medicine among 
Germans and imbibed protestant ideas in doing so. He found 
fault with the ridiculously severe fasts of the Orthodox Church, 
rejected the veneration of reUcs and ikons, denied tradition and 
authority. He even went the length of saying: "I am the 
Church myself." He seems also to have expressed himself 
boldly in pubUc, advocated freedom of speech and distributed 
hand written tracts setting forth his tenets. In his own 
chamber he hung up in the comer not an ikon, as Russians do, 
but a placard inscribed with the first two commandments, and 
his walls were adorned with various other texts. All this 
brought down upon him the wrath of the metropoUtan Stephan 
Yavorski who assailed him in a book entitled "The Rock of 
Faith," which however was not printed during Peter's reign 
because it insulted the foreigners whose presence that monarch 
valued and encouraged. When it was pubUshed after his death 
in 1728, it provoked a counter-polemic from Theophan Proko- 
povich who accused Yavorski of Latinizing and under Anna 
loanovna the book was prohibited. 

The annexation of Kiev and the Ukraine had more to do with 
the spread in Great Russia of these sects; the facilities given 
in 1701 to the merchants of Little Russia to travel with their 
goods to Moscow and the opening of a Russian fair in Azov at 
the mouth of the Don (captured by Peter in 1696 from the 
Tiu-ks) were decisive factors. Peter's conquests along the 
northern shores of the Euxine led to the diffusion throughout 
Moscovy of ideas already fermenting in the Ukraine. 



I have availed myself of the following sources in my 
description of the Dukhobortsy : — 

1. A description of them penned in 1805 by a friendly 
observer and Englished by Vladimir Tchertkoff in 1897, 
(The Brotherhood Pubhshing Co., London), from a text 
printed just before in Russian Antiquity (Otetch. Drevn.). I 
refer to this source as V. T. 

2. An article on Russian Rationalists by E. P. in Vestnik 
Ewopy, 1831, Vol. 1, p. 650, foil, and Vol. 4, p. 272. 

3. Uzov's description of them. This is based on several 
Russian sources, viz : i. Novitski's work upon them printed at 
Kiev in 1832. To this I refer as N. The Dukhobortsy ac- 
cepted this work as a manual of their tenets. It was intended 
as a criticism from an orthodox standpoint, but sinned by its 
impartiaUty. ii. An article in the Orthodox Conversationalist 
{Pravoslavnyi Sobesyednik) for 1858, pt. 3 : referred to as P. S. 
1858. iii. An article in the same journal for 1859, pt. I = 
P. S. 1859. iv. An article in the Reuiew (Obzor), 1878, No. 237. 
V. An article signed A. F. in the National Records {Otechest 
venniya Zapiski) for 1828, pt, 33 (= A. F.), and an article on 
the Molokanye by Anna Filbert, 1870, No. 6. vi. Articles in 
the Transactions of the Imperial Society of History and Antiquity: 
by I. V. Lopukhin, 1864, bk. 4 and by the Archimandrite 
Eugenius, for 1874, bk. 4. vii. An article by Shchapov in the 
Dyelo, 1867, No. 10 (= Sh.). 

4. Liprandi, Raskolniki, Peterb. 1872. 

5. Ivanovski's description. He uses Nos. i, ii and vi of the 
above Hst and also D. Varadinov's History of the Ministry of 
Internal Affairs, Vol. viii (= D. V.). For the doctrine of the 
Dukhobortsy he also used the Orthodox Conversationalist, 1859, 
t. 1, the Studies (Trudy) of the Kiev Academy for 1875, pt. 1, 
and the monumental volumes of Livanov, Raskolniki i Ostrozh- 
niki. C. Hahn's volume Kaukasische Reise, Leipzig, 1896, 
contains a chapter on the sect ( = C. H.) 



Of the works enumerated I begin with Vladimir Tchertkoff 
as the oldest of our sources; it is convenient to summarize it 
apart from the rest and supplement it from them later on. 

The Dukhobortsy suddenly appeared in the second half of 
the XVIIIth Century, surprising all by their brusque repudia- 
tion of the ceremonies and ritual of the Russian Church. An 
active persecution of them began in 1792 in Ekaterinoslav 
where the Governor, Kohovsky, reported to the authorities 
that "those infected with the movement merited no mercy," 
and were all the more dangerous because ''of their exemplary 
good conduct," because "they avoided drunkenness and idle- 
ness, gave themselves up to the welfare of their homes and led 
a moral life." Their virtues were all the more odious because 
they attracted the masses. As regards their relations to 
Government he stated that they "paid their taxes regularly 
and fulfilled their social duties, often even to excess, as com- 
pared with other peasants." The net result was that instead of 
being left in peace they were victimized by every priest, police 
agent or magistrate, hailed into court, knouted and sent to 
prison, burnt alive or exiled as state offenders. They were 
made to appear as "monsters and breakers of the general 
peace." Notwithstanding, they carried their propaganda, 
says Novitski, "with feverish zeal all over the south of Russia, 
and gained crowds of adherents in the Governments of Ekater- 
inoslav, Kharkov, Tambov and in the country of the Don 
Cossacks. They shewed themselves in the Caucasus and over- 
ran Saratov, Voronezh, Kursk. They also penetrated to the 
centre of Russia, to Moscow and Kaluga, and made their way 
to the north, into Finland, the island of Esel and the Govern- 
ment of Archangel. Eastwards they reached Siberia as far as 
Irkutsk and even Kamchatka. But wherever they went it 
was not the rich but the poor and humble, the peasantry and 
the workers that welcomed their teaching. The educated 
knew them not and it was rare even for a merchant to join 

They won a respite from suffering, continues V. T., in 1801, 
when under the mild and peaceful reign of Alexander I, the 
Senators Lopokin and Neledinski were directed to report on 


them, and exhibited them to the Tsar in their true character. 
Anxious in any case to isolate them, the Tsar allowed them to 
emigrate to the so-called "Milky Waters" in the Taurid prov- 
ince near Melitopol, north of the Sea of Azov. In 1804 those 
who lived in Tambov and Ekaterinoslav were also allowed to 
join their brethren in that settlement, where on one occasion 
Alexander himself paid them a visit. They called themselves 
Christians and nothing more, says V. T., knowing others as 
'men of the world.' "Their origin was unknown even to 
themselves, for being common people and illiterate, they had 
no written history; nor had tradition preserved amongst them 
any information upon the subject." 

They held all externals, for example, images, the sign of the 
cross, fasts, to be useless as a means to Salvation. The external 
Church, by reason of true Christianity having lapsed, was 
become a den of robbers. They were all that was left of the 
one sacred, universal and ApostoUc Church, which the Lord 
at his advent assembled, consecrated and filled with gifts of the 
Holy Ghost. 

Their manner of meeting for prayer will be described later 
in my chapter on the Molokanye; here I only note that the 
author of 1805 describes them as singing psalms and explaining 
the word of God in their meetings "without books and from 
memory alone." They had no priests and acknowledged as 
such only Christ, uplifted above sinners and higher than the 

Their cardinal tenet was mutual love. They had no private 
property, and the goods of each were those of all. In their 
settlement at Milky Waters they practised real commimism, 
had a common treasury, common flocks and herds, and in each 
of their villages common granaries, from which each was sup- 
plied according to his needs. Their hospitaUty was great, and 
from travellers they would accept no remuneration; but in 
order to isolate them from the brethren they kept a special 
lodging house in which also they entertained Government 
officials and kept the common funds. Their compassion for all 
they extended even to their animals, which they refrained from 
killing as much as they could. 


Respect of children for parents and of young for old was 
inculcated, but not in a way to give the idea that those of the 
older generation were anything more than the spiritual equals 
of the younger. No one was punished except by such admoni- 
tion as the Gospel allows. Those who wished to quit the 
society were allowed to depart in peace, even if they were wives 
of members, and permitted to take away with them such means 
of life as they could carry. Deserters who had left the society 
because of their evil propensities were readmitted if they 

Every member phed his craft; some were traders, but the 
great majority agriculturists. They had no rulers or elders 
specially entrusted with authority by the conmiunity, for all 
were equal; and in spite of there being no written rules and 
regulations, there was no disorder. Three and even five fami- 
hes would Hve together in one large cottage. The father had 
authority over his household and was responsible for the educa- 
tion of his children. If he died his authority passed to his 
eldest surviving brother. 

As soon as a child reached the age of understanding, he was 
taught prayers and psalms and something of Scripture. These 
they were encouraged to recite in the meetings. By such 
methods the spirit and ways of thinking of the parents were 
passed on to their children. 

Vladimir Tchertkoff gives seventeen of their tenets. All 
of them are summed up in the precept to worship God in 
Spirit and in Truth. They did not deny the Credo of the 
Church and, indeed, used it as a psalm. The One and Ineffable 
God is in three persons. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Through 
oiu- Memory we are one with the Father, through our Under- 
standing one with the Son, through our Will one with the Spirit; 
and the three persons are separately symbolized as Light, Life 
and Peace. Thus every Doukhobor is the Trinity incarnate. 

They accepted the Gospel story of Jesus, but insisted that 
his spiritual experiences must be re-enacted in each of us. He 
must be begotten, born, grow up, suffer, die, revive and ascend 
into heaven in each of us. In a word each of us has to become 
Christ. That is what is meant by Salvation, second birth and 


renewal. Jesus himself was and is the eternal living Gospel, 
the Word to be written in our hearts. They rejected the 
Orthodox dogma of the Incarnation, for according to N. they 
said: "The divinity of Jesus Christ our Savioiu", as shewn in 
the Old Testament was nothing but wisdom revealed in nature, 
but in the New Testament he was the spirit of Piety, Purity, 
etc. incarnate. He is the Son of God; but in the same sense in 
which we also are sons of God. Our elders know even more 
than Christ did; go and hear them." Of miracles they said: 
"We believe that he performed miracles; we ourselves were 
dead in sin, blind and deaf, and he has raised us up, pardoned 
our sins, and given us his commandments; but of bodily 
miracles we know nothing. For our salvation, it is not essen- 
tial to have an external knowledge of Jesus Christ; for there 
is the inward word which reveals him in the depth of our souls." 
A reader of Bollinger's Sectengeschichte recognizes here the 
mysticism of the medieval Cathars. Leroy Beaulieu is sur- 
prized that ignorant peasants should interpret Christian 
mysteries "in a manner analogous to that of Hegelians." If 
it was HegeUan, then St. Paul was Hegelian from the first, and 
after him the Cathars and Paulicians. 

Mere invocation of God cannot save us, unless we are pure 
in heart. Faith in Christ is necessary indeed, but implies 
corresponding works. The Dukhobortsy know no monstrous 
antithesis between the two. 

Like the Molokanye they reject water baptism; a man is 
baptized in that he repents with a piu^e and willing heart, and 
calls upon God. "An adult," writes N. "baptizes himself 
with the word of truth, and is then baptized, indeed, by the 
true priest, Christ, with spirit and with fire." Then his sins 
are remitted, and he turns away from the world. New birth 
and baptism are one and the same spiritual process. It unites 
us and reconciles us with God, lends us spiritual eyes to see him 
with. They ask forgiveness of God for their sins, but confess 
them before the brethren, asking their forgiveness also. But 
they do not encourage men to parade and boast of their sins out 
of sham meekness. Their only form of Conununion is forgive- 
ness of sins and inward acceptance of God's Word; bread and 


wine, entering the mouth Hke common food, avail not the soul. 
Nor is it true fasting to abstain from certain foods, but to 
abstain from gluttony and other vices, to practise purity, 
meekness and humility. "True confession," writes N. "is 
heartfelt contrition before God, though we may also confess our 
sins one to another when occasion presents itself. The external 
sacraments of the Church are offensive to God, for Christ 
desires not signs but realities; the real communion comes by 
the word, by thought and by faith." 

The Saints they do not invoke, though they try to imitate 
them. Rejecting sacraments, they cannot recognize marriage 
as such. It is enough if the young people consent and promise 
to live together. The parents allow mutual love and attrac- 
tion to dictate the union, and no preference is given to wealth 
or rank. Some abstain from marriage for the sake of purity, 
and such abstinence is regarded as a lofty virtue. 

The dead they commemorate by good deeds, not otherwise; 
for they hold that they are safe in God's hands and that he will 
remember the righteous in his kingdom. Therefore they do 
not pray for those who, in their phrase, have not died, but are 
only changed. But their idea of heaven is no vulgar one. 
The Kingdom is in man's own will; Heaven, Uke Hell, Ues in 
his soul; and righteous souls are in the hands of God. There 
is no more a material Hell than a material Heaven. The Duk- 
hobors of Tambov in the 18th century, when asked at the 
Alexander Nevski convent to define the heavens, answered that 
they are seven, — humility, sobriety, abstemiousness, clemency, 
good counsel aiid charity. The wicked after death merely 
walk in the darkness, expecting soon to perish, and Hell con- 
sists in evil feeling and ill will. After death there is no re- 
pentance, but each man is judged according to his deeds, — an 
unusually harsh tenet to be held by such gentle people. 

But Salvation is not confined to members of their sect. It 
depends on conduct, and all who imitated Jesus in all ages or 
countries, knowingly or not, have been saved. " The Church," 
writes N. "is a society selected by God himself. It is invisible 
and is scattered over the whole world; it is not marked exter- 
nally by any common creed. Not Christians only, but Jews, 


Mohammedans and others may be members of it, if only they 
harken to the inward word. The scriptures must be under- 
stood symboUcally to represent things that are inward and 
spiritual. It must all be understood to relate in a mystical 
manner to the Christ within." 

They are careful to keep their houses clean and tidy, and 
adorn them with pictures of remarkable men or saints, but 
they do not worship the pictures. The tract concludes with 
two characteristic specimens of their prayers, imitated from the 
Psalms. Such is our earliest account of this sect. 

The tenets of the sect are written in no books, but, accord- 
ing to P. S. 1859, are contained in a tradition, handed down 
from father to son, which they term the Living Book enshrined 
in the memory and hearts of the faithful in contrast with the 
Bible which is written in dead letters. The tradition includes 
psalms, consisting partly of detached sentences selected both 
from the Davidic psalms or from the rest of the Bible, and from 
the prayers and sequences of the Orthodox Church; but in a 
still higher proportion they are original compositions. The 
mass of these devotional exercises, the vox viva of the Church, 
is so large that no single man can remember them all. A 
father usually teaches his children all he knows between the 
ages of six and fifteen, and this curriculum they call baptism. 

In the last quarter of the XVIIIth Century their chief teacher 
was one Hilarion Pobirokhin, a rich wool merchant, of the 
village of Goryel in Tambov. He enjoyed the reputation 
among the people of being a well-read man, and is accused by 
Ivanovski of having carried extravagance to the length of pro- 
claiming himself to be Son of God and future judge of the 
world, and of surrounding himself with twelve disciples whom 
he called archangels. A second set of them he called angels of 
death. His bold propaganda attracted the attention of the 
authorities and he was exiled to Siberia along with his family. 

Another famous teacher in the same age was Sabellius 
Kapustin, a retired corporal of the guard, supposed by many to 
have been a son of Pobirokhin who had enlisted and subse- 
quently deserted. He was a man of great stature, handsome 
and majestic in bearing, an eloquent and attractive speaker. 


The story is that he knew the Bible by heart. He was the 
object of such reverence that his followers when he went out of 
his house kneeled before him and sought his blessing. We are 
reminded of the veneration shewn in the Celtic Church to its 
saints while they were still detained in the flesh. 

Pobirokhin, according to P. S, 1858, taught that God has no 
independent existence, but is immanent in the righteous; and 
on the strength of this notion of the Divine Being he called 
himself, qua righteous, a Son of God. Silvanus Kolesnikov, 
according to N. held that "one behever must bow to another, 
on the ground that we are the first fruits of God's creation, and 
among all creatures in the world the living impress of his hand, 
an image of God on earth." Thus, having no proper feast 
days, they reckon that day a festival when one of the sect 
visits another. Such guests they welcome and escort with 
spiritual songs. 

Thus, says the writer in the Ohzor, they identify God and 
man; for the two are indivisible and God is a Trinity of Mem- 
ory, Understanding and Will. Starting from this idea, says 
the same writer, they reject the life beyond the tomb. They 
join at death the 'Choir Invisible' which consists merely in 
being remembered. The next life consists in the memories 
which the deceased leave behind them. For them Paradise 
and Hell exist not, and the former is lived here on earth. "The 
Hving," they are fond of saying, "are helpmates of God." 
It is not easy to reconcile this view with other sources, which 
admit another life. 

The sole difference for the righteous, writes P. S. 1859, 
between this and a future life is that they will live alone, apart 
from sinners; otherwise, birth, labour and death go on as now. 
There will be no resurrection of the flesh, nay the very end of 
the world can only be defined as an extinction of sinners; yet 
the world does not end, but persists forever as we see it now. 
The orthodox idea of there being another world than this is 
false. There is no heaven apart from the earth; the world is 
one, and the word heaven merely signifies the chosen race of 
God in contrast with that of the Devil. 

But these ideas, according to the same informant, are held 


in conjunction with a belief in the transmigration of souls. 
Men's souls, they say, after severance from the flesh, migrate, 
not into some other world, but into the bodies of other men; 
and they are convinced that the migration takes place into the 
other body when the latter is between the ages of six and fifteen, 
that being the age at which the child is being imbued with the 
Living Book. 

The tradition of adoration, prayer and praise is thus con- 
ceived of as a spirit perpetually realizing itself or reborn in 
successive generations of the young. This is a more subtle doc- 
trine of transmigration than that of the Cathars of the middle 
ages. One asks oneself, however, whether the Dukhobortsy, 
having inherited that teaching did not volatilize it in this man- 
ner. The Cathars also refused to distinguish between this 
and the next life, and taught that Heaven and Hell are within 
us here and now, so that we have not to wait for them. 

In the Confession, for example, of a Cathar of Aix (Ax), 
named Arnald Cicred charged with heresy in October 1321 
(given in the Dokumente der Valdesier und Katharer of Ignatius 
Dollinger, Mlinchen 1890, p. 152), we read that ''the heretic on 
being asked whether the souls of bad men did not after death 
drop into hell, answered that there was no hell apart from this 
visible world, in which the said spirits by way of doing penance 
migrate from body to body and from tunic to tunic. And, he 
added, the world will not end until all the spirits created by 
their Father have been incorporated in the bodies of men and 
women of their own (i.e. Cathar) faith, in which they will be 
saved and return to the Heavenly Father." 

In the Confessio Johannis Maurini of Mte. Alio in the same 
collection (p. 188) we have a summary of the tenets of a famous 
Cathar leader, Guilielmus BeUbasta. He taught that "true 
rebirth consists not in the baptism of the heretics, but in that 
of his own sect. He held that a man's soul on quitting one 
body, enters another, and so passes from body to body until it 
reaches one in which it is converted to the sect and in that 
manner saved. The world will never end until all the erring 
souls are gathered up again and converted to Catharism. 
That done the world will come to an end, and after that sun 


and moon and light will not go on any more." Such was the 
teaching of Belibasta. 

The parallelism between these passages — which could be 
multipUed — and the tenets of the Dukhobortsy is striking, and 
cannot be accidental; especially if we take account of other 
features which they shared with the Cathars, e.g., the honour 
in which those are held who eschew matrimony; the rejection 
of baptism and the eucharist, of the sign of the cross, of relics; 
the conviction that the faithful are so many Christs or incarna- 
tions of Christ, by reason of which they ceremonially bow one to 
another when they meet to worship; their zeal not to slay even 
an animal; their exaltation of the Holy Spirit above Scripture, 
perhaps akin to the Marcionite and Cathar rejection of the 0. T. 
Read, for instance, in the same collection of Dollinger's the fol- 
lowing from the Acts of the inquisition of Carcassone into the 
Albigois, (p. 4) : 

Item nullo modo occidunt ahquod animal nee volatile, quia 
dicunt et credunt quod in animalibus brutis et in avibus sunt 
spiritus illi, qui recedunt de corporibus hominum, quando non 
sunt recepti ad sectam nee ordinem suum et quod transeunt de 
uno corpore in aUud corpus. Item non tangunt aliquam muUe- 
rem . . . Item docent credentes quod exhibeant eis reverentiam, 
quam vocant meUoramentum, nos autem vocamus adorationem, 
flectendo genua et inclinando se profunde coram ipsis super 
aliquam bancam et usque ad terram, junctis manibus, tribus 
vicibus inclinando et surgendo et dicendo qualibet vice : bene- 
dicite, et in fine concludendo: boni Christiani benedictionem 
Dei et vestram, orate Deum pro nobis, etc. 

In addition to these ideas and practices among the Cathars, 
we also meet with the same argument against the Eucharist 
which the Molokanye use, as we shall see below. 

Item quod (hostia) mittitur in latrinam ventris et per turpis- 
simum locum, quae non possent fieri, si esset ibi Deus. 

To meet this objection, as is well known, the Church holds 
that the consecrated morsel ceases to be the body of God as 
soon as it passes the gullet. 

Von Haxthausen in ' The Russian Empire ' (EngUsh transla- 
tion, London, 1856, i, 289) has left us an interesting account of 


the doctrine of Kapustin: — ''The most interesting man of this 
sect of whom we have any knowledge is J. Kapustin. I heard 
much respecting him from the Mennonites (German) on the 
Molotchnaya, his nearest neighbours. Complete obscurity 
veils his birth, name and early life : when he began to dissemi- 
nate his views among the Molokanye, it caused a schism in their 
body; and as about that time the majority of the Dukhobortsy 
in the Government of Tambov emigrated to the Molotchnaya 
Vody (Milky Waters), in the Government of Taurida, he and 
his followers accompanied them and settled there." 

Of his teaching he writes: " He attached peculiar importance 
to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, which was 
already known among them: he also taught that Christ is 
bom again in every beUever; that God is in everyone; for when 
the Word became flesh, it became this for all time, hke every- 
thing divine, that is, man in the world; but each human soul, 
at least as long as the created world exists, remains a distinct 
individual. Now when God descended into the individuality 
of Jesus as Christ, He sought out the purest and most perfect 
man that ever existed, and so the soul of Jesus became the pur- 
est and most perfect of all human souls. God, since the time 
when he first revealed himself in Jesus, has always remained 
in the Human Race, and dwells and reveals himself in every 
behever. But the individual soul of Jesus, where has it been? 
By virtue of the law of the Transmigration of souls, it must 
necessarily have animated another human body! Jesus him- 
self said, ' I am with you always even to the end of the world.' 
Thus the soul of Jesus, favoured above all human souls by God, 
had from generation to generation continually animated new 
bodies; and by virtue of its higher qualities, and the pecuHar 
and absolute command of God, it had invariably retained a 
remembrance of its previous condition. Every man, therefore, 
in whom it resided knew that the soul of Jesus was in him. In 
the first Centuries after Christ this was so universally acknowl- 
edged among beUevers that everyone recognized the new Jesus, 
who was the guide and ruler of Christendom and decided all 
disputes respecting the faith. The Jesus thus always reborn 
again was called a Pope. False popes however soon obtained 


possession of the throne of Jesus; but the true Jesus had only 
retained a small band of believers about him, as he predicted 
in the N. T. 'Many are called but few chosen.' These 
believers are the Dukhobortsy, among whom Jesus constantly 
dwells, his soul animating one of them. ' Thus Sylvan Kolesni- 
kov at Nikolsk,' said Kapustin, ' whom many of the older among 
you knew, was Jesus; but now as truly as heaven is above me, 
and the earth under my feet, I am the true Jesus Christ your 
Lord! Fall down therefore on your knees and worship me!' 
And they all fell on their knees and worshipped him." These 
later leaders of the sect seem to have appropriated to them- 
selves a doctrine of the Christhood of the believer which at an 
earUer time envisaged all the faithful, or as the Cathars put it, 
all the elect ones ahke. It is to be regretted that Haxthausen 
never pubUshed the fuller account of the Dissidents of Russia 
which he promised in this work. He states that he had col- 
lected much material, and where he came into almost personal 
contact with sects, as in the case of the Dukhobortsy, he would 
have been reliable. Where he had not such an opportunity of 
arriving at the truth, his narrative is fantastic, as in regard to 
the self-immolators. 

Another link between these two sects is the rejection of oaths. 
Moreover the Molokanye, Hke the Cathars, deny that Jesus was 
of real flesh and blood, and the Dukhobortsy come near to doing 
the same. The conclusion imposes itself upon us that Pobi- 
rokhin, Kapustin, Kolesnikov and the other heresiarchs, who 
suddenly appeared in the South of Russia between 1750 and 
1800 represented a genuine Cathar tradition, probably that 
which in the middle ages in Bulgaria and among the Balkan 
Slavs was known as Bogomilism. 

The Dukhobor doctrine of the soul, of its fall and redemption, 
resurrection and futiu-e life, as summarized by Ivanovski, 
wears an equally Cathar complexion: ''The human soul is the 
image of God, a heavenly Ukeness. The Divine image consists 
of memory, reason and will, i.e., of the very same elements of 
which the Trinity consists. In a word man is the Trinity and 
the Trinity is man. The soul aheady existed before the cre- 
ation of this visible world; then it was it fell. But it fell in 


spiritual wise, and because of its fall it was driven out into the 
visible worid, as into a prison, by way of punishment." "Our 
bodies are cages restraining and confining our souls" writes N. 
In Adam's story we only have an allegory of the fall. His sin 
does not pass to his descendants, but each man has sinned for 
himself. In point of fact the fall is going on now and here, 
whenever man seeks not God's glory, but his own. The sin of 
Adam, being only a manifestation of a past fall of the soul, is 
not handed down to posterity; each of us sins or is saved by 
himself.' There is no original sin." 

In such teaching Ivanovski detects what he terms the char- 
acteristic dualism of the Khlysty; but in fact the Dukhobors 
are no more dualist than other Christians, and we may fairly 
connect them with the so-called Monarchian Bogomilism, which 
also was not dualist, and which was known in medieval Italy 
as the heresy of the Concorregio and Bagnolo. In any case 
the teachings ascribed by Ivanovski to the Dukhobortsy 
equally characterized the Cathars. Thus in Dollinger's collec- 
tion, p. 88, we have ascribed to the latter the behef that ''Adam 
and Eve were fashioned by God and placed in paradise to keep 
his commandments, but because of their transgression they were 
clad in bodies of clay and given over to death." And in gen- 
eral the Cathars, whether they regarded the Evil principle as 
coeternal with the Good or Heavenly one or no, — whether, 
that is, they were dualists or monarchists — agreed in this, 
that human souls, created by God, enjoyed a pristine glory in 
heaven, that they lost it by an act of rebellion or by succumb- 
ing to the temptations of the Evil One, and were by way of 
punishment confined in tunics of flesh within the limits of the 
visible world. That glory, they held, can only be recovered 
by the gift of the Holy Spirit, a sacrament peculiar to the 
Cathar Church and not shared by that diabohcal counterfeit of 
Antichrist, the so-called Catholic Church, which had centuries 
before denied and apostatized from the true Christ. 

Like the Molokanye, "the Dukhobortsy, on the strength of 
the text : ' He made us kings and priests,' (Rev. 16) regard each 
behever as a priest. To become a priest of the invisible Church 
a man's own spontaneous act is not enough, nor even the assent 


of his fellows. Still less need he be of any special calling or 
class; no outward preparation of himself, no intellectual educa- 
tion, is indispensable. The true priest is he who receives a 
call from above, he whom Jesus himself elects; and he may be 
drawn from the ranks of the common people, may be one of the 
priests of the external Church, or even one of the rulers of the 
world. Christ, the unseen agent, prepares him by immediate 
direct illumination of his mind and heart. Accordingly, the 
call, the election, nay the very preparation for and to priest- 
hood must needs be not external, but internal grace, within 
us and not without." So writes Novitski, and adds this: 
"Jesus Christ alone, the inner agent, is our true High priest 
and Sanctifier, and therefore we need no outward clergy; in 
whomsoever Christ himseK works, he is his successor, and of 
himself he becomes a priest." 

As, moreover, the children of God are bound to worship him 
in spirit and in truth, there is no call for external divine service, 
and external sacraments produce no real effect upon men. We 
have to imderstand and accept spirituality. Rites, whatever 
their significance are not only superfluous, but often pernicious 
so far forth as they are only dead tokens of the inward; too 
often they bar our approach to God. "Ikons," says A. F., 
"are idols; Christian saints we may revere for their virtues, 
but we must not pray to them. Facts should consist in avoid- 
ance of appetites and abstinence from excess." 

Their conception of God, says P. S. 1859, as a being not self- 
subsistent nor enjoying individual and independent existence, 
but as continuing to be and residing conjointly and inseparably 
in and with the race of the Elect, in such wise that without that 
race He cannot reveal himself nor be glorified, — this concep- 
tion is instilled into us out of an infinite condescension, so we 
may call it, towards himtian personality. A. F. reports them 
as saying: "There is a God, He is spirit. He is in us, we are 
God." And they explain (says P. S., 1859) their bowings of 
one to another in their meetings by saying that "they are bow- 
ing to the inestimably precious living image of God, to man." 

We need not stay to inquire how far the Dukhobortsy con- 
ception of God avoids the difficulties of nominaUsm and realism, 


and steers clear of the fallacy of an universal divorced from 
particulars, the caput mortuum of theological abstraction. We 
can only praise them for the morally wholesome concreteness 
of their thinking. In rehgion it is a first step to a better life to 
reaUze that God is or can be immanent in us as in Jesus. These 
Russian sectaries take hiunanity seriously, and really endeavour 
''to adjust their social relations to their fundamental concep- 
tion, to the truth that hes at the bottom of all Christian theol- 
ogy, even if few theologians know it, — the truth that man is a 
hving image of God. They, more than most, recognize its 
implication that all men are equal; they therefore ignore out- 
ward distinctions of man from man and hold that by nature all 
are alike and equal, for all have fallen and all alike are exposed 
to temptation. It follows that in the eye of a true bondsman 
of the Lord there are no servants in all the world; the Christian 
is servant in all and of aU, in the sense in which Jesus Christ was. 
We enjoy their help, but in such cases he that assists us is not 
our servant but our brother and equal" (N.). Among the 
Dukhobortsy, says the same writer, "children, instead of calhng 
their parents father and mother, give them the titles of elders; 
and parents do not speak of their children as mine, but as ours. 
The women term their husbands brothers, and men call their 
wives sisters." "Imagine" (writes a tourist in the Ohzor (1878, 
No. 237), who had visited the sect not long before) "an old 
man of eighty and a boy of ten calling one another by diminu- 
tives or pet names, Hke Stepa, Victorushka, Lusha, Dasha, etc. 
Father, mother, wife, husband, brother, sister, children, all these 
call one another, as we should say by their Christian names. 
Only the tiny children call their mother nanny. At first you 
have no idea of the degrees of kinship in which the members of 
famihes stand to each other; for, as far as names go, and for a 
stranger, it is all the same. When they meet they all salute 
one another with exactly the same degree of deference and 
respect, whether young or old, males or females. In virtue of 
this equahty, whatever is allowed to the men is allowed to 
their women. On holidays, or better, in their leisure time, they 
have just as much right to drink or smoke as their husbands and 
brothers. "The freedom which characterizes the relations of 


husband and wife as compared with the people who Hve around 
them is occasionally carried to excess," says F., ''and husbands 
have been known to quit their wives and consort with other 
women without the former shewing any jealousy and without 
discredit attaching to the circumstance." But this is the 
exception, not the rule. 

"In their dealings with strangers," says N., ''the Dukho- 
bortsy are courteous, though they do not bare their heads, unless 
out of exceptional respect for someone or because they cannot 
help it. In their society they recognize no superiors govern- 
ing and disposing thereof; their society is administered by 
each and all." 

By the same ideal of profound respect for the individual and 
by consequence of entire equality for all they would hke also 
to regulate their attitude towards society at large and towards 
the Government; but they realize how dangerous it might be 
if they shouted such principles abroad, and therefore they shew 
some hesitancy and circumspection in the matter. Whenever, 
says Haxthausen, in his Studies of the Russian Empire, (p. 279), 
conversation began to touch upon the lofty but dangerous 
teachings of their sect, they began to talk ambiguously and 
acciunulate on my ears such high-flown and fantastic expres- 
sions as would have done credit to a sworn sophist well equipped 
with dialectical arts. 

Notwithstanding their reserve however, their sociological 
views are more or less certain. Thus "they attribute royal 
dignity to God alone," says D. And N. writes thus : " Silvanus 
Kolesnikov taught that we ought to submit to authorities and 
lords of this world, not only to those who are good and gentle, 
but to the perverse, — obey all in fact, even in evil courses, 
under durance vile. But his adherents at Ekaterinoslav held a 
somewhat different language. Human societies, they said, are 
full of evil people, moved by faction and malignant passions. 
A commimity of bad men could not stand, for they would 
exterminate one another; for this reason the wise ones have set 
up among themselves distinct authorities to curb the forces of 
disorder. So far authorities are beneficent and ordained by 
God himself on earth for the good of the children of the world. 


But the Lord said: " I am not of the world and mine are not of 
it either" ; and worldly authorities are not needed for them that 
are not of the world. The children of God (the Dukhobortsy) 
themselves shun evil not from fear, but in order to be regener- 
ate. They try to Uve as Jesus Christ preached we should do. 
He freed us as touching our wills from all human laws. He has 
given us his Holy Spirit and created in us a new heart, leaving 
us free to comply with all royal demands according to the 
spirit and perform acts pleasing to God in the spirit without 
any constraint." 

''The Dukhobortsy of Tambov claimed to distinguish 
between good and bad authorities and to differentiate their 
origins. Kind and good rulers, they maintain, are from God, 
the harsh and unkindly ones we know not whence. Those of 
MeUtopol do not discuss the origins, but roundly assert that 
there ought to be no authorities on earth. You may have, 
they argue, a sovereign set over reprobates, thieves and 
brigands, in order to repress them, but not over good people. 
Consequently, although they refrain from rebellion, they 
make no wholehearted submission to estabUshed authorities. 
If they submit to them, they do so in semblance only; while 
inwardly and among themselves they regard all subordination, 
and in particular the government of a monarch, as contrary to 
their ideal. Even judicial courts are needless for sons of God. 
What, they ask, does he want with law courts who never in all 
his life dreamed of injuring another? If a man strike you on 
one cheek, resist him not, but turn the other to him, and if a 
man would rob you of cloak, withhold not your coat also. 
They would observe the same pacific spirit even towards pub- 
lic enemies, for they look on war as unlawful, and appeal to the 
Gospel precept to love your enemy (Mat. 5, 38-9). Oaths 
equally are forbidden among them, and they refuse to take 
them under any circumstances. Regarding war as wrong and 
forbidden, they make it a rule not to carry weapons. For the 
rest, if they do not pray for enemies, because each must pray 
for himself, neither do they for their friends; that is one reason 
why they pray neither for the Tsar nor for the authorities which 


At the present time, remarks Uzov writing in 1880, they 
behave meekly and comply with all demands of Government; 
though they still refuse to bear arms or make oath. As early 
as 1817, so we learn from the collected regulations regarding 
the Raskol (p. 75, bk. 3), a conamittee of ministers made a rule 
to take members of the sect as recruits, but without forcing the 
oath of allegiance on them; it was resolved to send them into a 
special corps stationed in Grusia (Georgia). Later on, Janu- 
ary 8, 1820, the Government ' decided on the one hand not to 
acquit members of the sect from any state obligations, on the 
other not to force oaths upon them. This statute also applied 
to the Molokanye, and as both these allied sects obstinately 
refused to bear arms, it was further decided, according to L. P. 
to allocate recruits from among them to sanitary work, hos- 
pitals and transport. But according to the same informant 
the fanaticism of the Dukhobortsy was such that in the first 
Turkish War those who were enrolled from Wologda threw 
away their arms near Perekop. It is evident therefore that the 
Russian Government did not adhere to its own statues. 

In N. we meet with several examples of their obstinate but 
passive resistance to Governmental tyranny; and as early as 
Catharine II are reported several cases of the kind; also under 
Paul I in 1799 they came into colUsion with the Civil Powers. 
In Little Russia on that occasion they were accused of pro- 
claiming that such Powers are not wanted. On August 28 
of that year, in consequence, it was resolved that all persons 
convicted of the heresy should be banished for good to the 
mines of Ekaterinburg. They were to be kept in chains and 
put to heavy labour, "to the end that, since they reject the 
authorities instituted on earth by divine sanction, they may be 
made to feel and reahze that there exist on earth Powers insti- 
tuted by God with a view to the firm defence of welldoers and 
withal to the intimidation and punishment of evildoers hke 
themselves." The 'conscientious objectors' who actually 
suffered under this edict were comparatively few, and so harsh 
a sentence, continues the Russian writer of nearly a hundred 
years ago, did not daimt their fellow heretics, and the next 

1 Russian Mir, of Nov. 5, 1876, art. on Raskolniks in the Army. 


year, 1800, the Governor of Novgorod made a fresh discovery 
in the village of Chude of men who repudiated the Church and 
refused to recognize either Emperor or authorities set up by 
him. In the Government of Astrakhan in 1802 whole crowds 
of Dukhobortsy invaded the market-places and openly began to 
disseminate their heresy; when hailed before the local tribu- 
nals they refused not only to give up their errors, but even to 
submit to or recognize the authorities. Very much the same 
scenes occurred in Siberia in 1807. N. remarks that, in all 
probability, it was only want of opportunity and means that 
prevented the Dukhobortsy from re-enacting the horrible 
mutinies and bloody disputes which characterized the rising 
of the similar sect of Anabaptists in Westphalia; but, as Uzov 
remarks, the subsequent fortunes of the sect are far from justi- 
fying this surmise. Shchapov in the Dyelo (1867, No. 10) 
shews that in his time they were much less intent on quarrelhng 
with the authorities than on works of social reform and recon- 
struction and on creating a type of community at once just and 
sensible. Their superior morale marked them out among the 
surrounding population as ears of corn among tares. They 
were equally distinguished by their comfortable circum- 
stances — this being due to the aid they rendered to each other 
in misfortune. In their teaching and conduct brotherly love 
was inculcated above all other virtues, and charity and socia- 
bility characterized their mutual relations. They were as N. 
attests, sober, hardworking and hospitable; their homes and 
dress were ever clean and neat, and they gave themselves up 
entirely to the cultivation of their fields and the tending of their 
flocks. The only punishment known among them, says 
Shchapov, was exclusion from the Society and it was reserved 
for open and notorious offenders. 

They excel the populations round them, he says, no less in 
physical health than in moraUty; their women are known for 
their superior stature and robust constitutions, and according 
to F. excel in intelligence and beauty. This fact, remarks 
Uzov, can only surprise observers who take account of what 
they have suffered for their opinions; for no sooner are they 
settled in one district than they are chased out of it into 


another, into strange horizons where, broken and ruined by 
enforced migration, they have to adapt themselves to new 
conditions of the nature around them. 

In the Caucasian settlements, whither Nicholas I relegated 
them in 1841, they are environed by Armenians, Georgians, 
Persians and other tribes. Here, says N., they cannot fulfil 
what they deem to be their duty, the dissemination, namely of 
their doctrine. Children of God as they are assiu-ed they are, 
they have received God's behest to teach one another. Ser- 
vants of the Lord, they strive ever and punctually to discharge 
their debt to the poor and to give away to others, their talents, 
all that they themselves received from on high, to each accord- 
ing to his several ability (Mt. 25, 15). But under the condi- 
tions, says Uzov, which prevailed in his day, they found it 
difficult to harmonize their efforts to build up their communi- 
ties with the sacred duty of propaganda. 

But we must not suppose that the Dukhobortsy, because they 
regard themselves as children of God are wanting in the large 
charity which admits the salvation of those outside their fold. 
There is no narrow sectarianism about them, as Ivanovski him- 
self attests when he writes as follows: ''Their Church is the 
gathering together of those whom God himself separates from 
the people of the world. These elect ones are not distinguished 
by any special symbols, not united in any special community, 
with distinct doctrine and divine service. They are scattered 
all over the world and belong to all confessions, not only to the 
Christian, but also to the Jewish, whose adherents do not 
recognize Christ." 

In the spirit of a sectary he adds: ''In the presence of such 
indifferentism it is difficult to believe they even constitute a 
religious sect; while admitting in a large sense the elect of all 
sorts of faiths into the number of the members of an invisible 
Church everywhere diffused, in a narrower sense they under- 
stand by the word Church themselves in particular." And yet 
he proceeds to set before us their ideal of a Church. "We are 
the Hving temples of God, the altars, the throne of God. In us 
the Holy Trinity is made flesh; the Dukhobor is at once priest 
and sacrificer and sacrifice. The heart is altar, the will is 
offering, the priest is the soul." 


It is now a hundred years ago, that in 1819, the English 
Society of Friends sent a mission to Russia to acquaint them- 
selves with a society so akin to their own; its members were 
shocked at the Dukhobor admission that they looked upon 
Jesus in no other hght than that of a good man, and therefore 
had no confidence in him as a Saviour from sin. These good 
Quakers expected to find ordinary evangehcal orthodoxy, but 
did not. Long afterwards the Friends, in 1895, rendered them 
all the help they could in the persecutions which waxed ever 
crueller. A good and clear account of this via dolorosa which 
ended in the removal of several thousands of them to Canada 
by the kind offices of the Quakers, can be read in Vladimir 
Tchertkoff's tract, Christian Martyrdom in Russia, London, 
1897, in Aylmer Maude's A peculiar People, New York, 1904, 
and in many other EngUsh publications. For the details of 
these persecutions at the hands of the late Russian Govern- 
ment I refer my readers to these sources. Their later history, 
especially in Canada, is adequately related by Mr. Maude, to 
whom I owe many of my citations of N. I have been con- 
cerned mainly to recount the early history and tenets of so 
remarkable a spiritual movement, perhaps more expressive of 
the true soul of the Russian peasant than any other, with the 
exception of Molokanism. 



The Evidence of their Confession of Faith 

In Geneva in 1865 was printed in Russian a manual of this 
Sect called ' The Confession of Faith of the spiritual Christians 
called Molokanye.' It is an account of the Sect by its own 
members, and having been written in 1862 deserves to be sum- 

''Before we begin to set forth our confession of faith, we have 
wished to refute certain false impressions that exist about us 
and to clear ourselves of the baseless calumnies circulated 
against us, chiefly by the Greco-Russian clergy." 

"They tax us with being innovators, with having invented 
some sort of new confession, and they even call us renegades 
from Christianity." 

" In justification of ourselves we answer that even if our faith 
were a novelty, that can be no sufficient cause of reprehension; 
for the excellence of a faith is measured not by its antiquity, 
but by its truth. Christ's own teaching was not revealed prior 
to all other creeds; it is new by comparison, for example, with 
Chinese, Indian, Greek and many others, and yet no one hesi- 
tates to give it a preference over these, and the preference is 
assigned not on the score of its antiquity, but because it is true 

" If anyone is to be accused of arbitrary innovations, it is not 
us, but the Greco-Russian Church, since it has introduced many 
alterations in Christ's teaching, whereas we strictly observe 
holy writ; and when we abandoned that conmiunion, far 
from creating any new faith whatever for ourselves, we reverted 
to the pure Christian doctrine, far older than that of the said 
Church and — what is capital — truer, for it was from God 
and consequently comprised in itself all truth." 

"As regards our being renegades from the teaching of that 
Church, or what is the same thing, as regards the revival in 



Russia of true Christian worship, we have preserved among 
us the following tradition. During the reign of Tsar Ivan 
Vasilevich the Terrible, a certain English physician was called 
to the court of Moscow; they regarded him in the capital, 
such was the temper of the age and the savagery of the people, 
as Antichrist, proclaiming him accursed and barring him out of 
their houses and homes. Of his family there remains no trace 
in tradition, but by some chance he had formed an acquaint- 
ance with a well known proprietor of Tambov who was then at 
court. Enjoying his hospitality, and also finding him to be a 
lover of holy Scripture, he conversed much with him about the 
Bible, which was at that time in Russia a book forbidden to 
anyone who was not a member of the higher clergy. This 
proprietor had a favourite servant, a man of intelligence and 
reflection, a certain Matthew Semenov, who grasped Bibhcal 
truth more quickly than his master, and therefore without 
delay conceived a contempt for the rites of the Greco-Russian 
Church and for prostrations to ikons; having procured a Slav 
Bible, he began to instil into his neighbours the unadultered 
truth about the worship of God in spirit and in truth. Now 
in those times it was very dangerous, nay almost wholly impos- 
sible not only to utter, but even to conceive anything in opposi- 
tion of the Church. Consequently Matthew's abandonment 
of it was no sooner noticed, in particular his refusal to prostrate 
himself to ikons, than he was denounced to the ecclesiastical 
authorities, and the unfortunate, but true worshipper of God 
was sentenced to death and broken on the wheel." 

" Some of the martyr's disciples, peasants of the aforesaid 
proprietor, on their arrival at their birthplace in the Govern- 
ment of Tambov, began with the help of the Bible they had 
brought with them quietly to propagate the worship of God 
in spirit and in truth. A considerable number of people fol- 
lowed their teaching in different villages; but the teachers 
themselves, — such was the rigour and unbridled power of the 
clergy in those days — were quickly discovered, handed over 
to the tribimals and cruelly knouted by the hangmen, after 
which they were sent for ever to prison with hard labour." 

" Their followers did not cease in secret to propagate their 


teaching; but the common people, failing to comprehend the 
truth and sometimes surprising them when they were bowing 
during their religious services to persons in their chambers, 
took it into their heads that they were bowing to chinks, and 
so nicknamed them the Chinkers, The clergy went to work 
more inteUigently, and observing that during Lent, they always 
partook of milk which is then forbidden, nicknamed them 
Molokanye (from moloko — milk)." 

" The teaching was spread from the Tambov Government by 
Semen Uklein to the Voronezh Government, to the Mikhail- 
ovsky Cossack settlement on the Don and to the Saratov Gov- 
ernment, for which cause the adherents of the doctrine were in 
these localities for a long time known as Semenovtsy; by Isaiah 
Ivanov Krylov to the line of the Caucasus and across the Volga; 
by Peter Dementev to the Governments of Nizhegorod and 
Vladimir; by Moses the Dalmatian to that of Ryazan. Many 
of their successors in these places were delated by the clergy 
and haled before the courts, many of them punished and 
exiled either to Siberia or the Caucasus or the Tauric Cherson- 
ese. By these martyrs for the truth, the true Christian doctrine 
was diffused in those regions." 

" Meanwhile some of its adherents conceived it to be super- 
fluous to read the Bible and determine Faith by what is written 
in it ; they separated off from the Spiritual Christians or Molo- 
kanye, and formed a separate sect, who were known as Dukho- 
bortsy. Others considered it best to fulfil the Mosaic law alone, 
and they do not read the New Testament, and feast, not Sun- 
day, but the Sabbath, for which reason they were called Sab- 

Here we pause, to ask what is the value of the account here 
given by the Molokanye of their origin, and in particular of their 
statement that a Matthew Semenov, servant of a proprietor of 
Tambov, first sowed the seed from which they are sprung in 
the reign of Ivan the Terrible. As we note below (p. 305) the 
historian Kostomarov identifies him with a Matthew Semeno- 
vitch Bashkin who in 1553-4 was tried and condemned by a 
council of bishops in Moscow for heresy. Nicholas Kosto- 
marov, however, in his Historical Monographs, Petersburg, 18(33, 


p. 454, casts legitimate doubts on his heresy. He relates the 
trial from contemporary documents and shows that there was 
nothing to incriminate Bashkin save his own confession extorted 
by fear and agony of the rack. He was accused of denying the 
Church and its sacraments, because he taught that the Church 
is the union of the Faithful and not a mere building of brick 
and stone. But this is an orthodox opinion, though so often 
put forward by Armenian Dissenters (See Key of Truth, 
Introduction p. clxiv) and by European Cathars. He was 
accused of slighting the Son and the Holy Spirit, because in 
prison he wrote a prayer addressed to our Father in Heaven. 
The same heresy attaches to the Lord's prayer. Also of deny- 
ing the Sacrament of penance, and yet what led to his trial was 
the circimistance that he went to confess to a priest and dis- 
closed to him that he took the Sermon on the Mount as his rule 
of life, had therefore emancipated his serfs, and held that other 
slave owners ought to do the same. 

It was no doubt such opinions as these that got him into 
trouble, and they may have survived him. The Molokan 
statement that the Church withheld the Scriptures from the 
people and that Bashkin put them into their hands needs quali- 
fication. Copies even of the New Testament were in Russia 
rare in that epoch and to be had in manuscript only. It 
reminds one of the similar accusation, equally vain, brought by 
Lutherans and Protestants against the Latin Church. 

In the rest of their manifesto the Molokanye point out that in 
their preaching they rely solely on the Bible, wherefore their 
tenets are not vain imaginings and dreams, nor rightly esteemed 
pernicious by the Government, whose action they attribute to 
the ill will of the clergy which spares no calumnies in order to 
blacken them and make out that they are enemies of pubhc 
order and tranquillity. They are specially accused of not 
respecting the Tsar and the powers which be, of concealing 
fugutives and of manufacturing false passports and money. 

As to the last accusation they do not deny that in their ranks 
may be found swindlers and wrongdoers, but they point out 
that they are also met with in other confessions in as large a 
proportion. But their religion, far from encouraging such 


forms of villainy, is based on Christ's teaching which condemns 
all sorts of lying and deceit. They admit fmthermore that in 
the past when their brethren were exposed to persecution for 
their steadfastness in the true faith, they concealed their 
martyrs and put them out of danger; but they never hid crimi- 
nals and rogues, nor do so now. On the contrary they follow 
the Apostle's precept (Peter ii, 13-14) and obey the Powers 
which be. In matters of faith, however, they submit to the 
Lord God alone. In particular they revere Alexander II as an 
inspired monarch, sent from God to heal old wounds inflicted 
formerly on the confessors of their faith and later on them- 
selves. The accession of this Tsar, they say, inaugurated a 
new era for themselves and for all Russia. War was stopped, 
and the peasants were emancipated from the yoke of a sinful 
serfdom which contradicted the will of God who created all 
men in his image and Hkeness, equals and brethren. Their 
own families had been Uberated from recruiting and formed 
into a guild with provisional laws; their wives and children 
were legitimized, where before they were held illegitimate; by 
the laws of 1858 they were freed from all interference on the 
part of the Greco-Russian popes with their religion; finally 
by the circular addressed to functionaries in 1861 they were no 
longer prevented from sending their children to any schools 
they Uked. The while they hail these reforms with gratitude, 
they yet complain that the Law subjects them to certain dis- 
abilities not inflicted on other subjects of the Tsar, and they 
gave the following instances. 

In common with all who do not belong to the orthodox 
Church, they are subject to a statute of 1857, No. 82, to the 
effect that all Judaizing sects, Skoptsy, Molokanye, Dukho- 
bortsy and members also of the priestless Raskol, who neither 
pray for the Tsar nor accept marriage, and are therefore to be 
reckoned peculiarly noxious, are forbidden to receive into their 
famihes under any pretext whatever persons of the orthodox 

By Statute 83 they are forbidden on any pretext whatever to 
have in their houses, fabrics or institutions orthodox persons 
as servants or workmen; nor are Molokanye in their turn to 


enter theirs. The police are charged to see to the carrjdng out 
of this law and for violation of it to inflict the penalties laid 
down in Statute 307, Ulozhenie. A note or gloss on this 
Statute 83 excepts orthodox persons, original inhabitants of the 
Trans-Caucasus, from its operation, and it is only Molokanye 
who are forbidden to receive the orthodox Russian inhabitants, 
to live \vith them or be their servants. By Statute 84 local 
authorities, so far as possible, are to prevent Judaisers from 
holding intercourse with the orthodox, and to that end are to 
refuse to any infected with the heresy passports allowing them 
to remove to other districts. This restriction applies equally 
to Skoptsy. 

In the circular of the Minister of the Interior of January 25, 
1836, officials were warned not to grant passports to Molo- 
kanye lest they should change their places of residence; and in 
another of January 23, 1839, it was stated that 'inasmuch as 
certain Molokanye and Dukhobortsy of the Tauric Government 
possessed lands, the Governor of Novorossiisk and the General 
Governor of Bessarabia sought advice on the point whether 
members of these sects could own land acquired by piu-chase 
or otherwise. The matter was referred to the Emperor who 
gave instructions: (1) that by a regulation issued January 17, 
1836, it was laid down that Molokanye were not to have ortho- 
dox persons in their houses, etc., nor to be given passports; 
(2) that, since passports are necessary for removal to any 
distance exceeding 30 versts (a verst = a kilometer), in order to 
impede the diffusion of noxious heresy, the adherents of these 
two sects shall not be left in possession of lands situated more 
than 30 versts from their residences, nor of any that lie in more 
than one circumscription or Uyezd. Accordingly on February 
17, 1839, officials of Governments in which these sectaries live 
were secretly instructed to adopt the above rule as their guide 
in future, but those already owning lands beyond the pre- 
scribed radius were to be left in possession." 

In addition to the above the Molokanye complain that they 
are not allowed to get members of other confessions to under- 
take military service as substitutes for themselves and so buy 
themselves out. 


Such disabilities, they complain, prejudice them in their 
professions and trades, and deprive them of opportimity to 
earn an honest liveUhood; they serve no useful purpose and do 
enormous harm to the Government by depriving it of the sup- 
port it should find in truth and justice and in equality of all 
and each. Deprived of such support all its strength amounts 
merely to a show of force, and by this very fact it becomes a 
complete moral failure. 

In conclusion they express their conviction that the Emperor 
Alexander II is unaware of the disabiUties here above enumer- 
ated; for a sovereign so entirely reasonable and devoted to 
truth and justice, as his solicitude for the distribution of the 
Bible as a 'table' book and for its translation into Russian 
evidences him to be, would, they feel assured, remedy them the 
moment they were brought to his notice. They particularly 
express their approval of the new translation of the Bible into 
modem Russian, in which the Pentateuch was already com- 

This introduction is followed by an expose of Molokan doc- 
trine as it stood in 1862 entitled The True Christian Teaching 
or a Confession of Faith of the Spiritual Christians, presented in 
the form of a conmientary on the Ten Commandments. It 
begins with a prayer: "Instruct us. Thou who knowest all, 
in om- labour, to the end that we may in no wise tarnish before 
men the eternal brightness of thy name. Help us, Almighty, 
to teach the ignorant thy holy truth, that they may recognize 
thy love and worship thee in spirit and in truth." 

The commentary on the first commandment sets forth the 
Divine attributes of Spirit, Truth, Freedom, Beauty, Goodness, 
Love, Power, Life, etc. as revealed in all that is without or 
within us, and especially in the human soul and in the Bible. 

They then reject the traditional Trinitarian doctrine and 
argue that the text Mt. xxviii, 19, is wrongly interpreted by the 
Greco-Russian Chm-ch: "Father, Son and Holy Spirit are no 
more than titles of God which mark the different angles or 
aspects from or under which we contemplate him, without los- 
ing sight of his unity as Creator of ourselves and of the earth, 
as Life and Spirit of the universe, as the True Spirit by which 


he reveals himself to us." The relationship of God to his 
creatures is exhibited in language which might be that of any 
educated Anglican or Roman divine, and a section follows 
directed against anthropolatry or the cult of saints and arguing 
that Christ's own disciples, e.g., St. Paul and Barnabas at 
Lystra, refused to be worshipped. 

There follows a less commonplace section against baptism 
with water. The true baptism consists of instruction in the 
word of Gcd. Baptism, whether by immersion or aspersion, is a 
fond thing vainly imagined in opposition to Christ's own prom- 
ise that, whereas John only baptized with water, his own faith- 
ful should after not many days be baptized with the Holy 
Spirit (Acts i, 5), a promise fulfiUed at Pentecost. They also 
appeal to Lk. iii, 16 : 'He shall baptize you in the Spirit,' and in 
Fire, and conclude that water baptism was only valid before 
Christ's advent; that it was not an apostolic practice they 
argue from Paul's declaration that Christ sent him not to bap- 
tize, and that in baptism we share his death. The passage 
Rem. vi. 3-13 refers, not to baptism of the flesh but of the spirit. 
In John iii, 5 the words horn of water were not intended literally 
and in Mt. xxviii, 19 the instruction to baptize etc., is epexe- 
getic of the phrase 'make disciples of all nations.' 

In this repudiation of water baptism the Molokanye agree 
with the Dukhobortsy, and, hke them, exhibit the ancient 
tradition of Cathar and Marcionite Christianity. 

Under the rubric of the second commandment the worship 
of ikons is condemned. The contention of the Orthodox that 
the faithful bows not to the ikon but to the saint depicted 
therein, is met with the reply that God alone should be wor- 
shipped and that he cannot be represented in any picture. 
They argue that the faithful really worship the particular ikon. 
Else, why carry it about from chiu-ch to church? Why ascribe 
miracles to it? Why burn lamps before it? Why, if it be the 
saint that is adored and not the wood, pretend that one image 
fell from heaven and was not made with hands, whereas another 
not? Why as a rule prefer the smoky greasy boards whereon 
nothing is decipherable to those on which the saint's image is 
new and fresh? Does not the most popular image of the Virgin 


depict her with three hands? Has not each village and city 
its special idol? Was anyone ever deterred from sin by such 
idol worship? Do not those who prostrate themselves before 
them know that an idol cannot punish them for their iniquities? 
They know not the true God who can, and worship a wooden 
one who does inspire no fear. As for ikon's 'not made with 
hands/ is God a man, first to forbid us to worship images and 
then set to manufacturing them for our cult? Rehcs are 
equally condemned. Old bones are no substitute as an object 
of worship for Spirit. A man's spirit, not his flesh and bones, 
is the image and hkeness of God. No doubt that is the reason 
why the Molokanye in worship bow to those among themselves 
who are filled with the Spirit and are hterally Christs. Id 
doing so they again adhere to the custom of the Cathars. To 
this practice however there is no reference in this tract save in 
the Introduction, wherein it is said that the vulgar, not under- 
standing the reason, nicknamed them Chinkers. 

Interpreting the third commandment they forbid oaths; 
and they inculcate observance of the fourth, insisting how- 
ever that in Christendom the holiness of the Sabbath has been 
transferred to the Lord's Day. Following Mt. xii 1-13, they 
insist on the necessity of good works on the Sabbath, that is on 
Sunday, and regret the license, frivoUties and drunkenness with 
which the Orthodox violate the day. They admit as worthy 
to be observed in addition to the Sunday the Dominical feasts 
of Annunciation, Nativity, Purification, Baptism, Transfigura- 
tion, Resurrection, Ascension, and Descent of the Holy Spirit. 
Other festivals they ignore, as being days consecrated to trivial 
events of no special holiness. Good Friday they observe as a 
Fast, eating nothing that day and only praying on it. They 
hold a Fast day to be not one on which you stuff your belly 
with fish and fungi, but one of complete abstention from food 
of all kinds; the distinction between one diet and another was 
only made by the Orthodox. All food was given by God and 
one food is as good as another. In any case fasts in themselves 
are valueless unless they are observed as an aid to the formation 
of good character and to holiness of fife. 

In connection with the fifth commandment the duty of chil- 


dren to their parents is illustrated from many passages in the 
Bible, and it is also urged that parents in their turn owe it to 
their children to win their loving obedience and respect by 
their soUcitude and self-denial in behalf of them. 

The reason of the sixth commandment is declared to be 
that man is the image and Ukeness of God, wherefore murder is 
a violation and diminution of the divine glory. Only God has a 
right to kill. Men are all brethren in Christ and the brand of 
Cain is on the brow of him that slays his brother. The Molo- 
kan acceptance of the Old Testament necessitates a somewhat 
tortuous interpretation of the Hebrew God's instructions to 
his people to slay unoffending Amalekites and others whose 
lands they coveted. But the expositor is quite sure that no 
man has a right to say to his fellow : ' You must die, you deserve 
death.' Nor can murder be justified by the plea: 'I slew him 
to save my own life and property,' for Jesus forbade his disciples 
to protect him by force of arms; still less is murder justifiable 
on the ground that the murdered man was a foreigner or an 
infidel. Even if it can be urged that Jehovah permitted the 
Jews to slay their enemies, Jesus Christ anyhow bade us love 
our enemies. 

The Molokanye have ever been classed a dangerous sect by 
the Russian Government, and that is perhaps the reason why 
in their manifesto the Molokanye append to their conomentary 
on the seventh commandment a special disquisition upon mar- 
riage. It was ordained by God in the Garden, and it is an 
union not of body with body so much as of soul with soul and 
spirit with spirit, a fleshly union indeed for the multiphcation 
and increase of mankind, but also an association for mutual 
aid and counsel and comfort. Divorce is forbidden except in 
case of adultery; but second marriage after the death of one 
of the parties is permissible. The prayers and lections of 
Scripture with which the sect celebrates matrimony are given 
in full. In these the bride and bridegroom pledge each other 
to perpetual fidehty throughout life, and the parents on each 
side must be present and give their blessing to the union before 
God and the faithful meet to attest it. The prayers to heaven 
and the angels to protect the newly-married couple and lead 


them in the path of peace, goodness and conjugal harmony are 
not surpassed for simple eloquence and fervour by those of 
any church. There is no crowning of the couple as in the 
orthodox rite, which is declared to be unscriptural and invalid. 

This is followed by a section repudiating the mutilators or 
Skoptsy, who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of 
heaven. Their interpretation of the text Mt. xix, 12 is rejected 
and it is argued, as by orthodox exegetes in general, that it 
should be interpreted allegorically and was intended to be so 
interpreted, for otherwise both Christ and his Apostles must 
have emasculated themselves, which they did not. 

They condemn monkery mainly because of the drunken and 
vicious and idle lives led by monks, and object to permanent 
vows, though they admit the expediency of St. Paul's advice 
that at times man and wife should keep apart for prayer and 
rehgious meditation. 

The comment on the eighth commandment consists wholly 
of Scripture passages nor does the treatment of the last two 
call for notice. The concluding section however of the tract 
is devoted to the Church and is most characteristic. It begins 
by insisting that it is the community of the faithful who accept 
the teaching of Jesus and his Apostles, and appeals to such texts 
as I Cor. iii, 16 : "Know you not that ye are the temple of God 
and the Spirit of God liveth in you," and I Cor. vi, 19: "Know 
ye not that your members are a temple of the Holy Spirit dwel- 
Ung within you, which ye have from God." Inspired with such 
sentiments the Molokanye deny that any sanctity attaches to 
buildings, altars, altar furniture, Antiminsia, ikons, relics and 
the Hke." What connection, they ask, can there be between 
a temple of God and idols? "For ye, the Apostle said (II Cor. 
vi, 16), are a temple of the Hving God, as God hath declared 
saying : I will dwell in them and will walk up and down in them, 
and I will be their God and they shall be my people." Is not 
the Russo-Greek Church teaching about the temple a destruc- 
tion of the temple of God? The founder and head of the 
Church is Jesus Christ himself: "When two or three are 
gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst." 
(Mt. xviii 20). "And I will ask the Father, and he will give 


you another Consoler and he shall abide with you for ever." 
In this context Acts ii, 1, 2, 4, is also cited along with Eph. v, 
26-7; I Peter ii, 4-5; I Cor. xii, 12, 27; Eph. ii, 19-22; I Cor. 
iii, 11; Eph. iv, 4-6. Fortified with such texts they deny the 
Greco-Russian or the Old Ritualists, or the Western Church 
to be the true Church. These so-called Churches are in con- 
flict with the Teaching and have thus cut themselves off from 

From many passages of the New Testament, e.g., Hebrews 
iv, 15; viii, 1; vii, 23-27; v, 4-6, it is argued that we can have 
no High priest save Jesus Christ alone, and that it is vain for 
the orthodox Churches to entitle men such. There is one 
priest, who is our Lord. 

The tract then describes the Molokan cult. It includes (1) 
reading of Scripture with, occasionally, interpretation of it to 
those who do not clearly comprehend its drift; (2) singing of 
the Psalms and other canticles from Scripture; (3) Prayer, 
answering to the precept laid down in Cor. iii, 16. 

But it must not be supposed that theMolokanye dispense with 
organization in their Church. On the contrary in each locality 
to supervise their affairs and to lead their services they elect a 
presbyter or bishop, that is a supervisor; for after the manner 
of the earliest Church they make no distinction between a 
presbyter or elder and a bishop. Their bishop has two coadju- 
tors, who in case he is sick or absent, take his place. He is 
chosen in accordance with the rules laid down in Tim. iii, 2-5. 
They have no deacons. These, they say, were necessary in the 
early Church for the keeping of good order. If they foimd 
them essential to the extension of their Church, the Molokanye 
would elect them, but so far they have found no use for them. 

The duties of a bishop are those prescribed in I Peter v. 1-3. 
He receives no salary as do the popes of the orthodox Church, 
who exact payment from their faithful for every prayer they 
repeat, forgetting that Jesus asked nothing when he suffered 
and shed his blood in our behoof. 

The Molokanye scrupulously disclaim any sacerdotaUsm. 
Their presbyters or bishops are the equals only of the rest of 
the congregation, according to the precepts Mt. xxiii, 8, 10. 


In their Church there are no Greater ones, no Lesser ones, all 
are equal as brethren met together before God. One authority- 
only they possess and recognize, to wit, Jesus Christ; and there- 
fore they are the true Church. The presbyter may be deprived 
if he offends against the rules set out in Tim. iii, 2-5. 

They have no buildings reserved for reHgious service, and 
hold that prayer hallows the building, and not the building the 
prayers offered in it; because God lives not in temples made 
with hands, and the hour is with us, when true worshippers 
must worship in Spirit and in Truth. They argue that the 
earliest Christians similarly met for prayer in private houses. 

They reject utterly the doctrine of the Sacrament which has 
been elaborated in the great Churches of East and West, and 
to understand their objection we must bear in mind that in the 
East the word for Sacrament (a Latin word) is mystery or 
secret cult, the entire doctrine of which was taken over by the 
early Churches of the East from the old Greek mysteries and 
clothed with their paraphernalia. They hold that the recita- 
tion, standing, of the Lord's Prayer followed by the reading 
and exposition (if needful) of the Scriptures (the congregation 
sitting down) and by prayers with genuflexion — this service in 
itself constitutes communion in the body and blood of Jesus 
Christ, and in evidence thereof they appeal to such texts as 
John vi, 47-51; 53, 60-63. The fleshly communion which 
consists in consumption of material bread and wine, which 
being swallowed passes into the stomach to be evacuated (Mt. 
XV, 17) is a vain thing falsely imagined. Neither if we eat it, 
do we abound in grace, nor if we do not, lack the same (I Cor. 
viii, 8). The only true communion is in the Word of God. 
The vulgar Church teaching about the matter insults the body 
and blood given and shed for our instruction and salvation by 

The recital and intoning of Scripture in their divine service 
may last some hours and is followed by prayers in a kneeUng 
posture according to the example of Jesus in Lk. xx, 41 and of 
the early saints in Acts xx, 36. They do not cross their 
persons, for to do so is vain and superfluous for those who carry 
in their hearts the passion and cross of the Saviour; nor is it 


anywhere prescribed in Scripture. The prayers recited by the 
Presbyter are given in full. The first begins thus : — 

"Protect us, Lord, from the dwelling-place of thy Holiness. 
Accept our prayers for all men, for the King and for all in 
authority, to the end that we may live a life quiet and free 
from turbulence in all piety and purity. For this is acceptable 
before our Saviour, God, who desire th all men to be saved and 
to receive the Truth with understanding. Look mercifully 
and with favour. Lord, upon our offering, as thou didst on the 
sacrifice of Abel; accept our devotion as thou didst Enoch's; 
preserve us from a flood of vain imaginings, as thou didst Noe; 
save us from fire and brimstone, as thou didst Lot from Sodom; 
and enlighten us, as thou didst Abraham, our father, with thy 
Holy Spirit". . . At the end they pray that "our bountiful 
mother Wisdom" may come unto them, an antique touch 
reminding us of "Our Mother the Holy Spirit" in Aphraates. 

This prayer is followed by Psalm 50: "Have mercy on me," 
then a prayer which begins: "To-day we glorify thee. Lord, 
and bend our knee before thee our Lord and Creator, and mag- 
nify thy holy Name, and exalt the fleshless host of thy Angels 
and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, and we follow the 
Holy Prophets and Apostles and Martyrs and thy Elect ones; 
for thou hast designed. Lord, that we should call upon thy all 
serene and sanctified holy Name. Now therefore make us, thy 
young men and women, worthy to dwell with thyself in the 
Kingdom of Heaven for ever and ever." 

There follows Psalm 26: "Lord our Illumination," and a 
prayer: — "To thee, Lord, we bend our knees, who createdst 
heaven and earth. Lord, remit all our sins. Shelter us under 
the shadow of thy wings from the fury of the enemy. Lord, 
deliver us, thy young men and maidens, from eternal torment; 
save us with salvation eternal; Lord, sanctify us in presence 
of all nations, for thou hast loved thy saints. Amen." 

There follows Psalm 85: "Incline thine ear Lord," and a 
long prayer beginning: "Blessed art thou. Lord our God, and 
blessed is thy holy name for ever. . . " a prayer for replenish- 
ment and illumination by the Holy Ghost. After it they sing 
Psalm 114: "I delighted that the Lord hearkened unto the 


voice of my prayer." Then a long prayer beginning: "Lord, 
God of Heaven, Mighty, Powerful and Terrible, observe thy 
promise and be merciful to those who love thee and keep thy 
conmiandments . . . and now, Lord raise thy almighty hand and 
extend it from on high from thy throne, and gather together 
all who are thy chosen in the unity of faith. Raise, Lord, 
around them a rampart of awe hke a wall of fire," etc. 

Psalm 140 is next sung: "Lord I called unto thee," followed 
by a brief but characteristic prayer: "Lord, make us worthy, 
thy sons and daughters, to stand in thine image and make us, 
Lord, to resemble thy rubies; choose us. Lord, for thy founda- 
tions, as if we were sapphires; uphold us and strengthen us in 
thy sight as if jasper; and cleanse and purify us as crystals. 
Teach us. Lord, by thy Holy Spirit, and save, our Saviour, 
our souls henceforth and for ever." 

Next is sung Psalm 87: "Lord, God of my salvation" fol- 
lowed by the Prayer of Manasses and the Psalm: "Lord, in 
thy wrath, deny me not." 

The above service of prayer and praise is followed by a love 
feast, a "brotherly irapeza," devoid of sacramental significance. 
In it they do but satiate their hunger, first thanking God for 
the food he gives them. It is no part of the ser\ace and can be 
dispensed with as well as not. On the anniversary of the Last 
Supper they meet, and breaking bread, eat it in memory of the 
Lord, holding withal holy conversation one with the other; 
but this meal is not a sacrament in the sense of an arcane 
mystery. On the contrary they reject all such mysteries, 
because Jesus Christ at his advent revealed all mysteries as is 
attested in Mt. xiii, 11 and Eph. iii, 4-5 and 8-10. The 
mysteries of the Orthodox are idle trifling, since it is the duty 
of Christians to reveal divine truth to all as the only means to 
salvation, and not keep it secret and make a mystery of it, as 
the Russo-Greek popes do, who hide away under superstitious 
rites the truth that man is a temple of God in whom dwells the 
Divine Spirit, and that all commandments are included in the 
one precept to love one's neighbour as oneself, seeing that God 
is our Father and men are sons of God. This truth lies open to 
all in the New Testament; no other mystery was revealed 


to US by Jesus Christ, and he that acknowledges it, shall Uve 
for ever. No rites are to be performed, no incense burned, no 
water sprinkled, no tapers lit. If the Molokanye, when they 
assemble at eventide Hght candles, it is only in order to Ught 
up their chamber. Do the popes imagine that the candles 
which their faithful light, when they enter their churches, in 
any way open their eyes to the Truth of God? Were it not 
better if they explained the Gospel to them and enlightened 
their understanding? 

The presbyter of the Molokanye wears no special vestments, 
but leads their prayers attired in his ordinary garb ; the ortho- 
dox contention that the Apostles dressed up is false. ^ 

Members of the sect believe in the future Ufe, and when the 
spirit quits the body they offer prayer and sing Psalms 23 and 
145; and before the open grave Psalm 83. Then follow Acts 
viii, 2, and Jesus Sirach xxxviii, 16, 17, 22. In the faith that 
the dead rise again, they pray that their sins may be forgiven 
in the spirit of II Mac. xii, 44-46. The tract ends with attes- 
tations from Scripture of the future life, e.g., Mark xii, 26, 27; 
II Cor. V, 1; Isaiah Iv, 17-18; Mt. xxiv, 30; John v. 28-9; 
Rev. XX, 12-15, xxi, 1-5. 

The accounts of Uzov, Stollov and Kostomarov 

This account, given by the Molokanye of themselves and 
their religion in 1862, harmonizes with that of Uzov, who, 
following Stollov 's articles in the National Memorials {Otetch. 
Zap.) of 1870, No. 6, relates that they denominate themselves 
the truly spiritual Christians, in contrast with all others whom 
they call 'the worldly.' They are an offshoot of the Duk- 
hobortsy, according to this authority, and were accounted one 
sect with them until 1823, when they parted company with 
them in certain matters of doctrine. In particular they are 
closer to the Orthodox. The common people still in 1870 
identified them with the Dukhobortsy. Some aver that they 
split off from the latter about 1780. Stollov states that the 
M olokanye date their rise in the reign of Alexis Michailovich, 

1 Livanov in Vol. I of his Raskolniki, St. Petersburg 1872, pp. 446-459, prints 
an order of common prayer in use among the Molokanye. 


and that they were then called or called themselves Duk- 
hobortsy. This title translates the Greek pneumatomachos, a 
term of abuse leveled in the IVth Century at the Semi-Arian 
theologians who scrupled to set the Holy Spirit on a level of 
complete equality with the Father and Son in the Trinitarian 
scheme of dogma. It is probable that orthodox Russian doc- 
tors used it in an equally derogatory sense of the ancestors of 
the Molokanye, who, as we saw above, adopted it of themselves, 
but interpreting it to mean not those who wrestle against the 
Spirit, but in whom the Spirit wrestles against the world, the 
flesh and the devil. Stollov also regards Matthew Semenov 
as their founder, and he has been plausibly identified by 
Kostomarov in an article in the same review (1889, No. 3, 
p. 78) with Bashkin who was condemned at Moscow in 1555. 
The chief author, however, of the separation of the Molokanye 
from the older sect was Semen Uklein about 1780, son-in-law 
of the well-known teacher Hilarion Pobirokhin ; and his mem- 
ory is cherished by the Molokanye, as we saw in their own tract, 
which fails to acquaint us with the fact that over two hundred 
years transpired between Matthew Semenov and Semen 
Uklein. The latter's propaganda attracted, says Stollov, the 
orthodox as well as the Dukhobortsy, and he began in Tambov 
and passed thence to the Voronezh and Saratov governments. 
The success of his preaching exposed him to the reprisals of the 
State, and I. V. Lopukhin (in the Transactions of the Imp. 
Society of Hist, and Antiquity, 1860, bk. 3, p. 110) records that 
his followers underwent various tortures and were condemned 
to hard labour and the crudest imprisonment in cells so small 
that they could neither stand upright in them or lie down at 
full length. They did but increase the more in number, and 
information collected by the State in the years 1842-6 shewed 
that there were 200,000 of them in the Tambov Government 

In 1880 those of the Don differed somewhat from the other 
two main divisions in Tambov and Vladimir (who still closely 
adhered to the teaching of Semen Uklein) in poUtical and reli- 
gious views. Those of the Don called themselves 'Evangelical 


Uzov's outline of the common teaching of all three of these 
divisions, which he bases on Stollov and Kostomarov, agrees 
well enough with the Molokan tract. There is the Trinity in 
three persons, and Scripture as the sole source of doctrine. As 
compared with the Gospel, Christology, they held, was of little 
importance; and a man may allegorize away the historical 
Christ altogether, if he likes, provided he practises the moral 
teaching, which is very much what Marcion did. In any case 
the letter of Scripture must not be insisted on to the detriment 
of the spirit. They deny none of the events narrated in the 
Gospels, but admit a man's right to find a higher moral mean- 
ing in them. Holy Writ is anyhow the source of moral perfec- 
tion, and such perfection is attained by anyone who adopts it 
as his rule of life. "The letter killeth, the Spirit giveth Ufe," 
say they. It is no use to believe what is recorded of Jesus, 
unless you practise what he preached. 

"During his life onearth," according to the Molokanye, "Christ 
founded the Church; at first it consisted of the Apostles and 
later on of all who beUeved in him. But the true Christian 
Chiu-ch only endiu-ed down to the IVth Century, when the 
ecumenical councils and the teachers of the Church by their 
arbitrary interpretations of the Bible perverted the reUgion and 
imported into it pagan beUefs and rites. To-day the real 
Church consists exclusively of the truly spiritual Christians, 
who repudiate the traditions and canons of the doctors by which 
the conciUar Church sets store, and profess what the Gospel 
teaches and no more." ^ 

For this reason they "condemn as vain and fanciful the 
Church teaching about Sacraments and deny it to be based on 
God's word." ^ 

"Consider," they say to the Orthodox, "who invented your 
Church rites and canons and why. They were devised by your 
popes for their own gain." ^ In the opinion of the Molokanye 
"the sacrament of Christian regeneration must be understood 

> Stollov, Nat. Records, 1870, p. 300. 

« Orth. Review, {Pravosl. Ohozr.) 1867, t. 1, art. by Z., p. 327. 
' Varadinov, Hist. Min. Vnvir. Diel (Hist, of Ministry of the Interior), t, viii, 
p. 617. 


spiritually." ^ Accordingly baptism consists in the good tidings 
of Christ's teaching, and is the spiritual cleansing from sin 
along with beUef in the three hypotheses or persons of God, 
the mortification of the old man and his conversion to a life of 
faith without stain .^ 

"Water baptism," remarks Kostomarov in the same journal 
(1869, No. 3, p. 69), "has no virtue in their opinion; instruc- 
tion they say is what is wanted and a hold upon the teaching." 
Communion equally consists in "study of the divine utterances 
and in the fulfilment and keeping of the commandments; 
repentance or penitence must be undergone immediately in the 
presence of God himself, and last unction consists in earnest 
prayer on the part of the faithful and the sick. 

Marriage is no sacrament. Kostomarov remarks that in 
proof of the fact that its essence is love and accord rather than 
ritual, they ask whether evil relations between husband and 
wife can be hallowed by the circumstance that they were 
crowned. If they give notice that they are going to live 
together and begin to do so in harmony and honestly, — is 
their joint life any less pleasing to God than that of two people 
who, after being crowned in church, straightway begin to 
quarrel, lose their mutual confidence and deceive each other? 
By his account their marriage is even simpler than that we have 
taken from their Geneva tract. The young man, he says, 
makes his proposal to the girl and obtains her assent. He then 
asks the parents for their blessing and they repair, as agreed 
upon, to the home of one or the other; here witnesses are sum- 
moned before whom they receive the mutual blessings of the 
parents of both parties and the marriage is finished. Nuptial 
ceremonies there are none. According to Stollov, however, 
the father leads his daughter by hand, and in giving her away 
to the husband says: Here I give thee my daughter to wife 
according to God's law, take her away with thee to thy father's 
house. The Elder {or rector) reads passages of Holy Scripture 
bearing on wedlock, they sing divers psalms, and the marriage 
concludes, with the bridegroom embracing the bride amid 

1 Orth. Rev. 1867, t. 1, art. by Z., p. 328. 

2 Nat. Records, 1870, No. 6, art. by Stollov. 


felicitations on their lawful wedlock. Divorce/ adds another 
observer, is allowed; but only after it has first been decided, as 
it were, in formal debate who was to blame for the domestic 
quarrel and what was the cause. After hearing the complaint 
made by the injured party and the defence of the accused, the 
'Elder' proceeds to read out bibhcal texts relative to family 
Ufe and conjugal fidelity. "A husband should love his wife as 
our Lord loved his Church," says the Elder. Does then Christ 
wound and injure his Church? The union of a man and wife 
must be one of love, a spiritual union. He who loves his wife, 
loves himself; wherefore a man sins against the Lord's com- 
mandment who treats his wife harshly by word or deed. For 
what love or harmony can there be between people who quarrel? 
Without it a wife can be no helpmate to her husband, as our 
Lord himself attested, but only a slave for carnal cohabitation, 
degraded thereby to the level of a brute without reason, the 
spirit and image of God in her lost and dishonoured. Unless 
there be the Unk of affection to unite them their union is forni- 
cation and adultery. Another authority, V. Mainov, (in 
Znanie, 'Knowledge,' 1874, No. 3), cites a definition of the 
conjugal relation from the 'Faith and Doctrine of the Molo- 
kani,' as follows: '' Among us a woman is not a beast of burden, 
but a helpmate and standby, a friend and companion in this 
vale of misery." 

In the Caucasus I have passed through many Molokan vil- 
lages in early spring and in late autumn. Their dwelUngs were 
usually of wood, but sometimes of stone, often built in gardens 
surrounded by walls. Everything was neat and clean, and 
everywhere prevailed an air of sobriety and quiet industry. 
It was a pleasure to see the stalwart tidy wives sitting outside 
their houses in the sun, working at their sewing, the snow still 
around their feet at the close of winter, which in the highlands 
between Tiflis and Erivan is very severe. 

Stollov describes the Molokan funeral. The 'Elders' or 
Rectors read over the grave certain prayers and sing Psalms; 
after which all present, or at least the older ones, are invited to 

^ Nicolas Popov, " Materials for the history of the Priestless Communions in 
Moscow," p. 150. 


the house of the deceased person's parents where prayer is 
raised to God, while all partake of bread and salt, and offer 
vows for the entrance of the dead into the Kingdom of Heaven 
and for the happiness of the survivors. 

The same author testifies to the Molokan rejection of exter- 
nal ritual and rehgious gestures, as well as of the invocation of 
the Virgin and Saints. A writer in the Orthodox Review 
{Pravosl Obozr. 1867, t. 1, p. 327) dwells on the absence among 
them of a true hierarchy. Every man is a priest; their Elders 
are no more than rectors chosen by the community and possess 
no superior sanctity. Christ did not choose his Apostles from 
among the Levites or priests nor consecrate them to be such; 
nor are priests any nearer to God than unconsecrated laymen. 
The Molokan Elder is not even an interpreter of religious 
truths. The individual among them understands the Scrip- 
tures as he likes. In the matter of fasts they recognize that 
the Old Testament rule to avoid pork, fish devoid of scales, 
etc., is not feasible; but for the rest they abstain from wine and 
eat no onions or garlic. They pretend that these are prejudi- 
cial to the bodily economy. One would like to know whether 
the refusal of onions and garlic is not a survival of some ancient 
taboo, like the English avoidance of horseflesh, snails, frogs, 
cuttlefish, etc. 

Stollov states that the above description is true of the vast 
majority of Molokanye, but that those of the Don who call 
themselves evangelical Christians are less rigorous in their 
practice of Uklein's precept of spiritual worship, in that they 
have certain ceremonies devised by themselves. For instance 
their 'rectors' are called in to read prayers over a child on the 
first day after birth and to bestow a name on him. On the 
fortieth day they read prayers for the piu-ification of the mother 
and her reconciliation or rather atonement with the Church, 
and at the same time baptize the child, plunging it thrice into 
the water, after, as a preliminary, they have invoked the Spirit 
to descend and hallow the water. 

One recognizes in the above rites a mere survival of those of 
the Eastern Churches, and they were certainly not devised by 
the Molokanye as Stollov supposes. He may also be wrong in 


fixing the name-giving rite on the first day, for in all oriental 
churches, even among the Paulicians of Armenia, it took place 
on the eighth. This rite replaced among Gentile converts that 
of circimticision, but was much older than Christianity. An 
Italian child on the ninth day (counting in Roman fashion that 
of birth as an entire day and so equivalent to our eighth) was, 
according to Macrobius (Sat. i, 16) carried to the temple by the 
friends and relations, cleansed with water, given a personal 
name and recommended to the protection of a tutelar deity, 
as in the Great Church a child is to that of a saint. The god- 
dess who in general presides over the rite was by the Romans 
known as Nundina or goddess of the ninth day, and the day 
was also called dies lustricus or the day of lustration. Similar 
rites were in vogue all round the Mediterranean. 

Among the Molokanye of the Don the presbyter, according to 
Stollov, also receives the personal and private confessions of 
penitents and reads over them prayers of absolution. Further- 
more he celebrates with suitable prayers the breaking of bread. 
Early in the morning bread is set ready on a table with red wine. 
After prayers have been recited the 'rector' or 'Elder' apos- 
trophizes the faithful in the words: "With fear of God and 
faith advance," and then breaks the bread and distributes it to 
each by hand in a white platter kept specially for the purpose. 
He serves it round to men and women alike, who remain in 
their places. The 'rectors' are also summoned to visit the 
sick, whose confessions they receive, pray over them and anoint 
them with oil thrice, in the name of the Trinity, on the forehead, 
breast, hands, feet and spine. Before accompUshing this rite 
they consecrate the oil with divers prayers and invoke upon it 
the virtue of heahng, reading James, v, 10-16 and Luke x, 
25-37. Unfortunately, says Uzov, we lack information as to 
the peculiar significance attaching to the 'rectors' among the 
'Evangelical Christians'; but in view of the survival among 
them of so many rites, performed by these 'rectors' the latter 
must be invested with a higher dignity and importance than 
they have in other Molokan sects. 

Kostomarov points out that the Molokan conceptions of 
civil society are direct inferences from their reUgious outlook. 


Society and Christ cannot be separated; they are one and the 
same, and rest aUke on the Gospel precepts of love and equality, 
in accordance with the text (II Cor. iii, 17): God is a Spirit; 
where there is the Spirit of the Lord, there is freedom. It 
follows that we can have no other moral basis of true Christian 
Ufe than complete freedom and independence of any human 
laws and constraint of any sort. The authority of men is not 
binding on those who have the inspiration of the teaching of 
Christ. Worldly authorities are salutary upon earth and 
appointed by God, but only so for the children of the world; 
and the Lord spoke of Christians when he said: They are not 
of the world, as I am not of the world (John xvii, 14). For 
spiritual Christians therefore, who are not of the world, worldly 
authorities are not needful. As children of light, such Chris- 
tians strive to live according to the commandments of Jesus 
Christ. Fulfilling God's commandments, they have no use for 
human laws, nor are they under any obHgation to fulfil them, 
and by consequence their duty is to avoid fulfilment of laws 
which violate the doctrine of God's word. Thus they ought to 
avoid servitude under landowners (this was written after the 
emancipation of the peasants as late as 1870), avoid war mili- 
tary service, and oaths as forbidden by Scripture. But as it is 
impossible openly to oppose the Government and not to fulfil 
their requirements, spiritual Christians in imitation of the first 
Christians, must conceal themselves from it, and their brethren 
in the faith are under an obligation to conceal them in fulfilment 
of the Scriptural precept: 'Between thy walls hide old and 
httle, hke unto Abraham who invited to his meal three wan- 
derers or to the harlot Rahab who hid in her household the 
Hebrew spies' (Esdras ii, 22). 

In thus repudiating allegiance to human laws, the Molokanye 
affirm, as Kostomarov remarks, that there is a higher law, an 
unique, true law, which has got to be obeyed, a law written by 
God on the fleshly tablets of our heart. This law is known and 
adopted by dint of meditation and inflexible achievement of 
acts of charity intimated to us by divine revelation. Human 
laws are exposed to temporal change: what at one time and 
imder one Government is accounted a crime, at another time 


and under another Government is accounted a good deed . . . 
Often among us, the Molokanye continue, the law prescribes 
the opposite of good deeds, and forbids what charity and love 
for one's neighbour demands, and in many cases prevents one 
from doing good to one's neighbor. It is impossible, nor is it 
one's duty, to do what authority decrees, if this be opposed to 
the demands of conscience and right. Thus they point to the 
example of the early Christians whom the Roman emperors 
tried to force to bow down to idols. Emperors were invested 
with all the power of the law; and yet Christians did not fulfil 
their commands when these violated their convictions. Thus it 
was that the three youths, despite the threat of the Chaldean 
furnace, refused to obey the king who violated their own law. 
Christ, though he bade us render to Caesar the things that are 
Caesar's, did so with the reserve that we render to God what is 
God's. It is clear, therefore, that even if Caesar himself 
requires aught of a kind to violate our own law and conscience, 
which, as Scripture teaches, is the true law of God, written on 
the fleshy tablets of our hearts, we must not, to please Caesar, 
violate the Divine will, otherwise we are timeservers, respecters 
of man, but reprehensible before God. By reason of this 
preference of true welldoing to the rules of convention, the Molo- 
kanye go so far as to disdain positive law: authority as the 
source of law and constraint to fulfil it is in their opinion Uable 
to reserves, to doubts and glosses. 

Such is Kcstmarov's account of the Molokan attitude on 
the rights of conscience, and the writer in the Orthodox Review 
(see above p. 309) sets before us the practical results of their 
adoption thereof. They regard it as a first duty to avoid mih- 
tary service and resort to any means of escaping from it. 
Secondly they are under no moral obligation to pay taxes. 
They do not belong to Caesar, but to God, and can recognize 
no overlordship of Caesar. Thirdly it is a pious duty to receive 
and hide fugitives. Kostomarov states that in their estima- 
tion it is the best of deeds to conceal deserters from the army; 
and that not only deserters, but anyone fleeing from the per- 
secutions of the Tsar's Government finds a welcome among 
them. They say that they do not know the wrongs or rights 


of the fugitives, but anyhow the law is frequently unjust and 
the courts give false verdicts, and the authorities are given over 
to vanity and make demands opposed to the divine law. The 
culprit pursued therefore is as likely as not to be just and inno- 
cent. They are not judges, nor called on to decide; but they 
deem it right to help anyone who appeals to them to save him, 
mindful of the text : Hide between the lesser and greater wall. 

Nor have they failed to carry out in practice what they hold 
as a theory. They did so in 1826 when they refused to pay 
taxes and to serve as recruits. The Russian Government 
treated them then as other Governments have treated those 
who strive to Uve according to the abstract precepts of Jesus 
of Nazareth. They were knouted and exiled to Siberia, and 
many of them sent into madhouses where they perished. 

Since 1827 the idea of refusing taxes has not been put forward 
by the Molokanye who according to Varadinov {op. cit. viii 233) 
punctually pay the imperial taxes. But as they obstinately 
refuse to bear arms, they are assigned duties in Sanitary units, 
hospitals, transport etc.^ 

To-day, says Kostomarov, the Molokanye hold this language : 
"We must recognize the Authorities, whatever they be, as soon 
as they come into existence. But we deem it impossible and 
wrong to regard anything they do or say as excellent, in case our 
own reason convince us that it is not so." "It is," they say, 
"merely to submit to monarchical authority." But they do 
not regard as valid any external tokens of its sanctity nor set 
any store by any monarch as a divine anointed being; they are 
more inclined in opposition to the monarchical institution itself 
to point to the history of Saul: "By the lips of Samuel himself 
the Divine being dissuaded the IsraeUtes from choosing a king 
for themselves; and the prophet warned his people of the tribu- 
lations and iniquities they would suffer as soon as they set a 
king over themselves". . ."Rejecting kingly power, they 
equally reject every sort of personal distinction; for according 
to their doctrine all men are equals of one another, all are 
brethren, and there should not be nobles or plebeians; and 
correspondingly all outward badges of distinction, titles, rank 

1 Rusak. Mir, Nov. 5, 1876. 


are from their point of view vanities and contradictions of 
evangelical teaching." 

They regard all war as forbidden, and maintain on the basis 
of the precepts of Christ, that we ought not to resist evil, but 
rather turn the other cheek to the smiter. They say that 
blessed are they who live in peace and are peacemakers, for 
they shall be called Sons of God. For the same reason they 
refuse to bear arms, says the Archimandrite Israel in his Sketch 
of the Russian Dissenters {Ohozren. russk. Raskol. p. 253), and 
consider any revolt against the Powers which be, no matter 
how unjust they are, as in itself a wrong act. They preach 
instead a sturdy endurance and tenacity of purpose. Rebel- 
Uon and open opposition bring in their train evil to one's neigh- 
bours and it is our duty to avoid anything that may do harm.'' 
There are those however who suspect the Molokanye of only 
•counselUng submission to the Authorities because they have no 
choice, and say they only do so until the time comes when they 
shall have won enough influence and become strong enough to 
shake off the pagan yoke.^ Long ago there appeared to be a 
basis for this suspicion, because among other things they sent a 
•deputation to meet Napoleon in 1812 under the impression 
that he would protect them. Its members however were cap- 
tured on the banks of the Vistula, as Aug. Haxthausen relates 
in his Survey of interior relations {Izsledov. vnutr. otnosh. p. 260). 
During the Crimean war the Molokanye, according to the 
Orthodox Review (1867, art. 7, p. 337), expressed the opinion 
that prayer ought not to be offered up for the Tsar, but on the 
contrary for the defeat of those who oppressed the Spiritual 
Christians and curtailed their Hberties. Prof. Asher however, 
who has studied them in our own day, writes as follows in the 
European Messenger (Vestn. Europ. 1879, no. 9, p. 371) : "The 
Molokanye having long ago got accustomed to being referred to 
in the laws as a dangerous sect, take up the same attitude to the 
Authorities and the Government as did the earUest Christians : 
they scrupulously obey them, but regard them as alien to them- 
selves. The estabUshed Church they term the Russian and its 
adherents Russians, as if they were themselves foreigners." 

^ Kostomarov op. cit. p. 76-7. 
* Varadinov op. cit. viii, 318. 


They condemn, continues Kostomarov, all luxury and elab- 
orate food or dress, in general all expensive habits of life. On 
this head they reason thus: If we insist on Uving luxuriously 
and use up on ourselves a great deal of wealth, we shall only 
help to disseminate misery among our neighbours. Every 
superfluity we allow ourselves deprives others of our brethren 
of what is indispensable to them. It is well to be rich, but 
let your wealth be for the common benefit of our brethren, and 
not spent to gratify the caprices of its owner. Let him find his 
own greatest pleasure in this that, more than others, he can 
contribute to the welfare of his society; but to do so he must 
lead a simple fife and not go mad about luxuries. After reading 
the above we shall not be surprised to learn from S. Atav, writ- 
ing in the National Memorials {Otech. Zapisk. 1870, No. 4, 
p. 621-3), that the Molokanye are thrice or four times as rich 
as the orthodox; the reason being, among them as among our 
own Quakers, their perpetual and habitual readiness to rescue 
one another. We have been told, continues Atav, that there 
never was a case of a Molokan household being ruined. Posi- 
tively they would never allow such a thing to happen. If a 
calamity befalls one of them, all are prepared to assist him. 
Another writer in the same journal (1828, pt. 33, p. 58) records 
that the majority of the Molokanye love to do good; and even 
endeavour to banish from their lives anything that in their 
opinion can corrupt a man. Thus they condemn card-playing 
and in general any game that aims at making money for the 
player of it. They argue that such games are a useless waste of 
time and teach a man to be rapacious; that they generate strife 
among people because in them one wins at the expense of 
another. Nothing is so pernicious as play and drink, they say, 
nothing leads so directly to ruin and sin against the Christian 
fife. Both of these vices are equally to be shunned. Hard 
work, according to them, is as necessary to man as bread and 
breath of life. It not only furnishes means to live, but keeps a 
man out of the way of ruin and depravity; consequently they 
look upon work as a religious duty.^ These people, says 
another authority, Phihbert, in the Nat. Mem. (1870, No. 3), 

1 Kostomarov, op. cit. p. 74-5. 


the moment you come across them, rivet your attention by their 
reasonable modes of personal expression and by the peculiarly 
sensible way in which they talk. They are distinguished by 
their sobriety and good manners and morals; by their addic- 
tion to labour and enterprise. Their villages are neat and well 
built. In all branches of household economy they show a gift 
of organization and attain great success in the production of 
-wool. This is particularly true of the Tauric Molokanye 
according to a writer in the Nat. Mem. (1870, No. 3). The 
same Heidelberg professor Asher in the European Messenger 
(1879, no. 9, p. 379) declares that you recognize the Molokanye 
at first glance by their look of honesty, the gentle expression of 
their countenances, by their frank and open demeanour. 

They are keen propagandists, especially among the labouring 
classes.^ For a long time stress of persecution made them very 
circumspect, and it was only when persecutions relaxed some- 
what that they went to work openly. Every Molokanin is 
famihar with the Gospel and overwhelms an adversary in dis- 
cussion with citations of it. The result is that a village priest 
seldom risks a controversy with them. ''More than once," 
says Atav,^ *'I have seen priests subjected to resoimding 
defeats, followed most certainly by the conversion of very 
many of the listeners. Nor do they confine themselves to 
acquaintance with the Scriptures; for many of them buy or 
obtain various books, which they devour in the hope of finding 
in them arguments of some sort in support of their teaching." 

The spiritual Christians of the Don Sect, who call themselves 
EvangeUcals, differ somewhat in their political and social views 
from the followers of Uklein. Thus, to use their own phrase, 
they have always fulfilled the orders of the Government with- 
out a murmur. Their Elders instruct those whom fate trans- 
fers into the ranks of the imperial army to accompUsh their 
duties as soldiers and to cherish in their souls the fear of God, 
bearing in mind the precept of King Solomon: ''Fear God, my 
son, and the King, and oppose thyself to neither of them." 
Hereby, so they insist to their flock, they are obhged to^love 

» Orth. Review 1876, vol. I, p. 333^, art. by Z. 
2 Nai. Mem. 1870, No. 4, p. 622. 


the Ruler and serve him honestly. If they are requu*ed to take 
an oath, they must tender it in the same form as others, only 
omitting the words 'before the lifegiving cross.' They would 
have it administered by an Elder of their own faith before an 
open Gospel.^ Furthermore these evangelicals offer prayers in 
their meetings for the Emperor and the Powers that be.'- 

It is evident from the above account of the Spiritual Chris- 
tians of the Don that the Geneva tract which we have summa- 
rized did not emanate from them, but from the followers of 
Uklein, who eschew baptism and rites of communion. The 
latter better reflect the Cathar tradition, or anyhow a tradi- 
tion closely resembhng that of the Albigenses. The Evan- 
gelicals of the Don wear rather the air of a much expurgated 
orthodoxy, and must be remotely derived from the Russian 
Church, from which they are hardly more widely separated 
than are extreme low churchmen of the Anglican commimion 
from the Romanizing ritualists. 

Ivanovski's account 

So far we have described the Molokanye from their own man- 
ual of instruction and from the accounts given by Russian 
publicists, if not wholly favourable to them, at least fair- 
minded. It remains to complete it from the pages of Prof. 
Ivanovski who is openly hostile. His sources were as follows: 
"History of the Ministry of the Interior," Suppl. to Vol. viii, 
p. 232: also Livanov, Vol. 1, art. xii; Vol. ii, arts, vii and xiv; 
National Memorials" {Otech. Zap.), 1867 for March and 1870 
for Jime: "Orthodox Conversations" (Pravosl. Sobes.), 1858. 
In general his conclusions and statements agree with those of 
the sources I have set before the reader. 

He regards the temper underlying this religious movement 
as|_a mixture of wilful mysticism and irreverence for scripture, 
for he cannot conceive of people seriously taking the Sermon 
on the Mount as their rule of Hfe. He is also very severe on 
the half divine authority claimed by some of their leaders, such 

1 Nat. Mem. 1870, No. 6, art. by StoUov, p. 309. 

2 Orth. Review 1867, vol. I, art. by Z., p. 331. 


as Pobirokhin, who, he declares, pretended to be judge of the 
world. After all even Orthodox Bishops claim the right, and 
exercise it, of excommunicating whom they will; so we may- 
pardon the minor extravagances of a fervent Russian peasant. 

Semen Uklein, whom the Molokanye reverence as their proxi- 
mate founder, was a tailor, who in following his trade, moved up 
and down the Governments of Tambov and Voronezh. He was 
already married, but falhng under the influence of Pobirokhin 
he fell a convert to the Dukhobor faith, to which his famili- 
arity with Scripture already predisposed him. He now aspired 
to marry his teacher's daughter and she became his spiritual 
wife. But presently he came to find fault with his father-in- 
law's obstinate claim to judge all men and his preference for 
his own inner lights over the authority of the Bible, and after 
five years he finally emancipated himself from his influence. 
Meanwhile many inhabitants of the Tambov province infected 
with the rationalism, as Ivanovski calls it, — meaning thereby 
the temper which rejects orthodox accretions on the Chris- 
tianity of the New Testament — of Tveretinov, had attached 
themselves to Uklein. They had been marked down by the 
ecclesiastical authorities as dangerous people, but formed no 
distinct sect until Uklein organized them as such, and choosing 
seventy of them as his disciples or apostles made a solemn 
entry into the town of Tambov, singing hynms and proclaim- 
ing his new doctrine. It may be that he was inspired by the 
story of Palm Sunday and saw no reason why the Orthodox 
should have a monopoly of Tabors or rehgious processions and 
of similar spectacular enterprises. 

All this occurred in the reign of Catharine II, whose poUce 
now seized and locked him up. He was given a choice of 
punishment or of returning to the orthodoxy in which he had 
been brought up. He made beUef of returning, but in fact 
went on with his propaganda, and converted as many as 5000 
souls in the provinces of Tambov, Voronezh and (the modern) 
Saratov. His sect also spread to Ekaterinoslav, Astrakhan and 
the Caucasus. 

As early as 1765 the church consistory of Tambov labelled 
them Molokanye because of their drinking milk during the 


canonical fasts. The name stuck, and they interpreted it 
themselves as meaning that the simple evangelical teaching on 
which they fed was the Milk of the Word. In general they 
called themselves as the Spiritual Christians, and they regard 
themselves as the only true successors of the Church of the 
first three centuries. 

Ivanovski has of course little difficulty in shewing that many 
traditions, especially that of episcopacy, which they reject,. 
were well established long before the year 300, and pathetically 
complains of their rejection of the authority of the Fathers. He 
testifies that they do not trouble their heads very much about 
minutiae of Trinitarian theology, Uklein being so ignorant as 
to suppose that the Son and Holy Spirit are not coequal in 
dignity with God the father. Ivanovski also imparts to us 
the very significant information that Uklein held a more or less 
docetic view of Christ and taught, like Marcion and the Cathars 
and Anabaptists of a still later age, that the Son of the Virgin 
did not take from her real human flesh, but resembled in this 
matter Tobit's friend and guide, the Archangel Raphael, who 
declared as follows: "All these days did I appear unto you, 
but I did neither eat nor drink, but ye did see a vision." ^ In 
this semi-phantastic body then, according to the Molokanye,, 
Christ ascended into Heaven, and being endowed therewith, it 
follows that his death was not the death of ordinary men, but 
of a kind pecuHar to himself. As a rule, however, they set small 
store by such speculations, reserving all their ardour for the 
upholding of those tenets wherein they contrast externally 
with the Orthodox Church, whose sacramental theory, rites,, 
fasts, icon-worship, etc. they summarily reject. In these 
matters they retain the essential teachings of the parent Duk- 
hobor sect, only differing from it in this that they want to 
prove everything out of scripture. But in interpreting scrip- 
ture they explain away as allegory and parable all that stands 
in their way, e. g. the words 'of water' in John iii, 5, which 
it may be well noted Justin Martyr, c. A.D. 150, our earliest wit- 
ness to the said text, significantly omits. Had these Russian 

» From the same docetic standpoint Philo interprets the visits of the three 
angels to Abraham. 


heretics studied the early Fathers, they would have found 
much to their advantage and to the discomfiture of their 
orthodox persecutors. In this particular text they argue that 
water no more signifies the real water than it does in the text 
John vii 38 : "He that beheves in me, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water." Another example of their exegesis 
particularly irritating to Ivanovski is their conjunction of 
John vi, 63 with John vi, 51 to prove that the story of the Last 
Supper should be taken figuratively and not Uterally, for ''the 
letter killeth." Nor can he excuse them for insisting that our 
Lord's petition that his persecutors might be forgiven, as also the 
Beatitudes and the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount, are of 
universal range and anyhow apply to modern Russians. Such 
texts, says Ivanovski, only apply in their contexts and in view 
of the pecuhar setting and background of historical events in 
which they were delivered. Called upon to practice Christ's 
own teaching the orthodox divine suddenly becomes the most 
extreme of higher critics and discovers it to have been a mere 
ad interim moraUty. 

Ivanovski devotes a special chapter to the religious services 
of the Dukhobortsy and Molokanye, in which he repeats what 
Livanov has to say in his first volume, articles XVI and XXIII, 
and in his second, articles VII, XI, XIV, and XXVI; also what 
he has read in the Orthodox Conversations of 1858. He also 
uses two manuals of devotion issued by the Molokanye them- 
selves. The leading difference in matters of cult between the 
Dukhobortsy and the Molokanye is that the former recite in 
their gatherings their "living book." The Molokanye meet in 
an ordinary chamber, devoid of ecclesiastical furniture and deco- 
rations, with a table in the middle and benches or stools along 
the walls. The other sect prefers to hold its meetings out of 
doors. The men sit on the right hand, women on the left. 
On entering the meeting a Dukhoborets cries: "Glory be to 
God," and those already present answer: "Great is his name 
all over the earth." Very generally when they thus meet the 
men salute the men and the women the women; each takes the 
other by the right hand and, after the manner of the medieval 
Cathars and of Christians in the age of TertuUian, makes three 


low bows, one to another, kissing each the other thrice. The 
bow is a token that they are theophoroi, as St. Ignatius was 
entitled, or that they bear Christ and the Holy Spkit in their 
hearts and persons. Children on these occasions prostrate 
themselves thrice at the feet of their elders and kiss their hands. 

It is possible that the prayers I have found in the Geneva 
manual are those which Uklein certainly composed for sundry 
occasions. Some of his prayers were to be repeated kneeling, 
others standing up with hands raised to heaven after the man- 
ner of the primitive oranti depicted in the Christian catacombs. 
Ivanovski records, however, that after Uklein's death the addi- 
tion in some congregations of fresh prayers, unauthorized by 
him, led to schisms. The Molokanye, as we saw, recognize the 
chief Christian feasts, so contrasting with the Dukhobortsy who 
refuse to regard one day as holier than another. Every free 
day is by the latter equally holy to worship, and they have a 
jingle in which they proclaim Monday (Ponedyelnik) as sacred 
to God's works (dyela Gospodnya), Tuesday to regeneration 
of man, etc. They equally reject the occasional rites devised 
by the Molokanye for the events of birth, marriage and death. 
Ivanovski confirms the statement that the Molokanye in their 
rite of 'Churching' a child (the original meaning of the cere- 
mony of the fortieth day, see Luke ii, 22 foil.) blow or breathe 
on the child's Ups, as Jesus blew on his Apostles, by way of 
comnaimicating to it the Holy Spirit. In the rite of marriage 
he notes that the parents bless their respective children by 
laying their hands on their heads, they kneeling while the 
appropriate prayers are read over them. This is done in the 
respective houses. The famiUes then meet and the girl's 
father, taking her hand, says to the bridegroom: "I give thee 
my daughter to wife." The young parties are asked if they 
love each other, mutual vows are interchanged, and the rite 
ends with lections of the Apostle and prayers with genuflexion. 
He notes also that the Molokanye, like the Armenian and many 
other churches, have separate funeral rites for adults and chil- 

Ivanovski notes that these sects infer from the fact of be- 
lievers being equals in rehgion and before God, that they should 


be equals in civil rank and dignity. He deplores their con- 
fusion of religions with civil and social life. Though he does 
not accuse them of setting the civil authorities at naught, he 
urges that their doctrines tend to weaken their obedience to the 
State and that they set up an impossible ideal, which tends to 
the denial of the necessity of civil authorities. They even go 
so far as to deny that the Tsar is the anointed vessel of divine 
election, and so rob him of his holy and reUgious character — 
words which make queer reading to-day. 

The Dukhobortsy are siu-e that theirs is the freedom of the 
Gospel, and that all legitimate authority is from God. Uklein 
distinguished less emphatically between divine and human law, 
laid stress on obedience to constituted authority and insisted 
on prayers being said for the Tsar. Both sects condemn serf- 
dom, war, and the taking of oaths, and encourage the harbour- 
ing of deserters. 

Ivanovski makes much of the occasional extravagances of 
Molokan leaders, and it is inevitable that such incidents as 
the following should occm* amidst a population so devout, 
humble and impressionable as the Slavs. One of Uklein's 
successors, Sidor Andreev, a deserter from the Army, fled into 
Persia. Returning thence after some years into Russia, he 
settled among the Molokanye of the Government of Saratov 
and began to preach that God was about to appear and liberate 
them from oppression by the Russian State, and he promised to 
lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey in the neigh- 
boiu-hood of Mount Ararat. Just then Russia had annexed 
Persian Armenia, which included the fertile basin of Ararat, 
and it is likely enough that the biblical and other legends 
centering round that famous moimtain appealed to the imagi- 
nation of Russian peasants schooled to regard the Bible as the 
sole source of religious truth. What would not have been the 
effect of a similar conquest on the evangelical and methodist 
sects of England and Wales? Andreev therefore set out to lead 
his followers to so famous and holy a locality, but under the 
tutelage of the Russian Government he found his way instead 
to the mines of Siberia. 

In 1815 an Enghsh Methodist, Young Stilling, pubhshed a 


book entitled 'The Triumph of Christian Faith,' of which the 
Russian translation achieved great vogue and contributed not 
a little to stimulate the growth of mystical dreams among the 
Molokanye. It was a commentary on the Apocalypse, in which 
the Church was identified with the evangeUcalism which rejects 
the sacraments and rituaUsm of Rome; the Russian sectaries 
had no difficulty in applying StilHng's arguments to the Ortho- 
dox Church, and greedily welcomed the idea that Christ would 
ere long inaugurate the Millennium in the basin of Ararat, the 
home of the human race and traditional site of Paradise. This 
was in 1830, immediately after Russia had acquired these regions 
by the treaty of Turkmanchai in 1828. The thousand years 
of glory were to begin in 1836, according to Niketas Ivanov, a 
Molokan prophet of MeUtopol, and others hke him. The 
result was a considerable movement of peasants towards the 
new Jerusalem, and they began to flock from various Govern- 
ments to the Caucasus. An Elias appeared among them in 
1833 in the person of Terence Byelozorov of Melitopol, who 
even foretold the very day on which at the expiration of two 
and a half years Ehas would, as apocalyptic story required, 
reascend to heaven. Crowds duly collected to witness the 
miracle, and the prophet with desperate leapings and waving 
of his arms attempted, like Simon Magus and St. Peter, to take 
to the air. But earth chained his specific gravity, and Russian 
officials his further freedom, and he was locked up until such 
time as he should forget his apocalyptic privileges. 

In 1836 a false Messiah from Moldavia made his appearance, 
Lukian Petrov, and chose from among his followers two to 
impersonate Enoch and EUas. Next he persuaded a number of 
Molokanye to don their Sunday garb and start for the Caucasus, 
so as to be in time for the second Advent. He is said to have 
paved his way with supposititious wonders. He persuaded two 
girls to simulate death like well-trained dogs; then at his magic 
word they leapt into life amidst the plaudits of the faithful. 
Two other false Messiahs appeared among the Molokanye of 
Samara. Meanwhile new essays at ascension into Heaven 
were made in the region south of the Caucasus by an Elder 
who had discovered the New Zion at Alexandropol. He had. 


like the early pioneers of modern aviation, made himself canvas 
wings, with which he attempted flights from house-tops and 
summits of hills veiled appropriately with clouds. 

Ivanovski relates these incidents with sombre joy, and it 
would not astonish us if they really took place amid enthusiasts 
hard-pressed by the iron hand of persecutors and thrilled with 
the perusal of such a weird monument of early Christian faith 
as the Apocalypse. Let us not forget that the Greek Church, 
under the influence of such teachers as Dionysius of Alexandria 
and Eusebius of Caesarea, removed that book for hundreds of 
years from their canon of scripture precisely because it roused 
men to excesses of Millenarist enthusiasm. History repeats 
itself, and these Molokanye enacted over again scenes of which 
we read in the pages of Irenaeus, Hippolytus and other ante- 
Nicene Fathers. 

We noticed above the anxiety of the authors of the Manual to 
repudiate the Uteral keeping of the Jewish Sabbath and the 
observance of Jewish food taboos, pork, fish without scales, etc. 
This is expUcable from the fact attested by Ivanovski that some 
groups of the Molokanye, under the influence of the O. T., and 
perhaps of the millions of Jews who inhabited then as now the 
South of Russia, set themselves to Judaize. Semen Dalmatov, a 
partisan of Uklein, led the way, and is said to have really con- 
verted his leader to his views. If so, Uklein did not attempt to 
impose them on his followers. We have seen Bibliolatry lead to 
many curious movements, so it is only natural it should have had 
similar results in Russia, and Ivanovski indicates various 
sources of information concerning them, namely the Orthodox 
Conversations for 1858-9; National Memorials for 1828, pt. 33, 
p. 57, for 1864, bk. 5, for 1867, July, for 1870, June; Strannik 
for 1878, January; Journal of the See of the Caucasus, for 
1875, p. 195. 

These sources incUne us to suppose that Uklein really adopted 
the Judaism of Dalmatov. But his followers could not agree, 
and the quarrel spread to the Government of Saratov, where 
under stress of opposition Uklein's followers went so far as to 
exalt the Mosaic Law above the Christian, and taught that 
Jesus was no more than a man born of men, a prophet indeed, 


but inferior to Moses. Perhaps this was a reaction against 
the docetic view of Jesus' flesh current among them in some 
circles. It is exactly the sort of thesis and antithesis which 
we find between the Gnostics and the future CathoHc Church 
in the early stages of the Christian rehgion. The Judaizers of 
Saratov, we learn, rejected essential Christian dogmas and 
feasted Saturday instead of Sunday under the leadership of a 
peasant named Sunbukov of the village Dubovsk in that 
province. These called the other Molokanye who disagreed with 
them the Sundayites. Unlike the true Jews, however, Sunbu- 
kov's sect do not look forward to a Messiah. There already 
existed in Russia before the year 1800 groups of Jewish prose- 
lytes, and to them this new sect in time affiliated itself. To-day 
they deny the Divinity of Christ in the sense that others assert 
it and repudiate all the external rites and symbols of orthodox 
Christianity; yet they are eclectics and do not adopt indiscrim- 
inately all the observances of Russian Jews; for example, they 
do not insist on circumcision and the feast of new moons. They 
interpret, as did the good bishop Archelaus and the Gnostics,^ 
the text of Isaiah 'a Virgin shall conceive,' etc. of the Virgin 
Chiu-ch, and they deny that the scene of the Messianic King- 
dom will be laid on earth. On the contrary the Messiah will 
be a mighty moral teacher, renovating mankind with his 
teaching and inaugurating an epoch of freedom and sweet 
reasonableness. In their dwellings these Judaizers of Russia 
keep the sacred books under a veil on a shelf in the corner of 
their room, where the orthodox peasant hangs up his ikon. 
They are reckoned, or were till yesterday reckoned, by the 
Russian Government as one of the more noxious sects, because 
they deny the dogma of the Incarnation. They evidently 
reproduce many characteristics of early Ebionite Christianity. 
Uklein, as we have seen, tried in opposition to the Dukho- 
bortsy from whom he was sprung, to institute among his fol- 
lowers the ideas and practices of the ApostoUc age; and his 
follower Isaiah Krylov of Saratov, a deserter from the army, 
who had fled into the Caucasus, spread his master's tenets in 
that region in the first quarter of the XlXth Century. The 

1 Cf. the Acta Archelai. 


police drove him back into Russia, and he settled in the village 
of Salamatir in the province of Saratov. He knew the Bible 
almost by heart, and introduced a rite of the Breaking of Bread, 
and of prayers partly with genuflexion, partly with upUfted 
hands. After his death his innovations were, in spite of the 
opposition of one PcheUn, further developed by Maslov, who 
wTote prayers and chose lections for the evening rite of the 
Breaking of Bread. He is also said to have devised the rite of 
Namegiving in use among the Molokanye along with that of 
blowing on a child's lips on the fortieth day after birth, and also 
the rite of marriage. One of his adherents, a Cossack named 
Andrew Salamatin in 1823 propagated his tenets in the Tauric 
Chersonese, and his teaching was developed into that of the 
Molokanye of the Don. The rites and teaching of the latter 
are described by Ivanovski from three sources, the National 
Memorials of 1870, bk. 6; the Orthodox Review of 1867, pt. 22; 
and a manual drawn up by themselves in 1875. His descrip- 
tion agrees in all essential respects with that which we have 
already furnished. He rightly observes that, of all the Molo- 
kan groups, that of the Don approximates most closely to the 
Orthodox Chm-ch. 



The Communists 

This sect is a ramification of the Molokanye, from whom they 
only differ in details of social organization. It was foimded 
by a well-to-do peasant of Samara named Maxim Akinthiev 
Popov who about the year 1820 wrote a tract upholding the 
commimism of the earhest Church as described in the Book of 
Acts, and working out a scheme for a communistic society 
organized in families, villages and unions of villages. No 
member was to own anything except his wife and children, all 
earnings were pooled and stored in a common treasury, or, 
where they were in kind, in common granaries; all the instru- 
ments of labour were common property, and as many as twelve 
different orders of officials were to be instituted for the regu- 
lation of rehgious services, of social economy and education in 
conmion schools of the young. Even the school-books of the 
children were provided out of the conmion stock. 

The scheme is detailed in an article written by Shchapov 
in the Delo of 1867, No. 10, but it hardly went beyond the 
Hmits of theory; and C. V. Maximovich in another article of 
the same journal for 1867 tells the story of its failure in practice. 
Popov, who was a Molokanye of the following of Uklein, began 
by gaining a considerable number of adherents, who were 
impressed by the manner in which, faithful to his principles, 
he gave away all he had to the poor. His fame spread quickly 
among the Molokanye beyond the Volga, and the villages of 
Yablonovoe (Yablonovoe gay) and Lake Tyagloe went over 
to him en masse. The inevitable then occurred. Popov was 
seized by the Government and transported from the Niko- 
laevski province of the Samara Government to the Caucasus 
along with a number of his adherents. There, in spite of 
poverty and distress, they attracted new adherents, with the 
result that the leader was deported afresh, this time from 



the Government of Shemakhin to the Menzelin district of the 
Yenisei Government where he was still hving as late as 1867 
in the Shushin volost or county. 

The ideal of the sect was to live in famihes, but to pool their 
work as also their goods and chattels. Twelve ' apostles ' were 
chosen among them, at whose feet they were to lay all their 
property. They built common magazines, and appointed 
common treasuries. But the enthusiasm which originally 
inspired their renimciation of meum and teum presently died 
down, as it did in the case of the early Church, and they had 
to admit to themselves that "they had been carried away by 
indiscretion"; at least such is the report of the Orthodox Con- 
versationalist of 1859 (pp. 408 and 439). It was too lofty and 
exacting an ideal and overtaxed their moral energy. The 
time soon came when they judged it best to restore to each 
family as nearly as could be what it had contributed to the 
common stock and start afresh along humbler hues. Yet the 
essay they had made in collectivist communism left its mark 
upon them, and they remained after they gave it up on a higher 
social and moral level than they were before they attempted it. 
They still retained a common magazine, in which each head of a 
family was obliged to deposit, for the use of the poor, a tenth 
part of all he had, in money or in kind. Over and above that, 
each member at the meetings for prayer laid what he could 
afford in a plate over which was laid a napkin, so that no one 
could criticize his neighbour's benevolence. In all this they 
rose, we are told, well above the level of most Russian peasants. 

Varadinov, another observer of their communities, relates 
in the History of the Ministry of the Interior, (Vol. viii, p. 500) 
that they chose an official called 'judge' or 'almoner' to whom 
they confided the money thus offered for him to distribute it 
to the poor and indigent. They chose other officers as well for 
the regulation both of their refigious services and civil affairs, 
bearing such unusual titles as conductors, prayers, clerks or 
rhetors, singers, officers de secretis, men of counsel or mentafists. 
Some of them during service held a sort of spiritual rank and 
gave the blessing, expoimded the Scriptures when the prayers 
were ended, interpreted their meaning for the past and future. 


Out of church, however, they became again ordinary members 
of the community. The choice of these officials was not really 
popular. They were nominated by their predecessors in office, 
and their names publicly proclaimed. 

The right of the individual to interpret Scripture for himself, 
so wide in the sister sects, is hmited in this one. No one can 
undertake the task in the meeting without informing the 
'judge' beforehand of what line he will take. The founder 
Popov was not fond of being contradicted, nor are his successors 
in office; and obedience to officers is a cardinal duty among 
them. The members of the sect are forbidden all secular 
Uterature and only allowed to study the Bible, in contrast with 
the disciples of Uklein. 

The Communists, of course, no longer deserve their name, 
since they long ago gave up Popov's principles. Maximov in 
1867 counted 120 families of them in Nikolaievsk, but if all the 
Transcaucasian members of the sect could have been assembled 
in one place there would have been 645 famihes. This village 
Ues near Lenkoran, surrounded by Armenians, Tatars and 
other foreigners. At that time they carried on httle propa- 
ganda, and indeed in their situation were httle able to do so, for 
the Russian authorities prevented their holding communica- 
tion with European Russia. All their letters, going or coming, 
were opened by the poUce. 

In matters of creed and cult the Commimists differ little 
from the followers of Uklein, but out of them issued about 1830 
a sect of rehgious leapers, forming as it were a Unk with the 
Khlysty. Lukian Petrov was the founder of these. The 
Communists are reputed by Tolstoy, who described them in an 
article in the Proceedings of the Imp. Soc. of Hist, for 1864, 
bk. 4, not to pray for the Tsar. Indeed another writer in the 
National Records {Otetch Zap. for 1878, No. 10) states that they 
called the government the Scourge of Antichrist. They are 
careful about the schooling of their children, but in 1850 their 
school in Nikolaievsk was closed by the Holy Synod, as a centre 
of heretical infection. Under a new regulation it was allowed 
to continue, if the teacher was appointed by the local governor, 
but the writer in the Proceedings just above mentioned does 


not know if the sect complied or not. Ivanovski's account of 
this sect substantially agrees with that of Uzov and the sources 
I have cited, but he gives no estimate of the numbers of the 
sect at the end of the last century. Probably they were very 

The Righthand Brotherhood or Zion's Tidings 

Ivanovski describes this obscure sect from the Orthodox 
Conversationalist of May, 1876, the Orthodox Review, June, 
1867, and the Perm Diocesan Gazette, 1867, No. 24, and from 
a MS. book sent him by an examining magistrate. It is 
probably a sect as feeble in numbers as its tenets, as recorded 
in this work, are violent. Its founder was a Staff-captain of 
artillery named Ilin, who was banished in 1856 to the Solovets 
monastery; previously he had Uved in the Baltic provinces. 
At the end of the last centm-y his followers were chiefly encoun- 
tered in the Governments of Perm and Ural. His book 
regarded as a sort of gospel by them is partly in prose, partly 
in verse. 

The main source of his inspiration is the Apocalypse, and we 
have pictures of the destined end of the world and of the 
Church and of their present condition. Like the Dukhobortsy 
this sect rejects all externals, invocation of saints, reUcs, ecclesi- 
astical authority. The following verses contain the gist of the 
founder's message : — • 

"Nor churches raise of stone, nor altars rear. 

But everywhere God glorify and fear. 

Your priests we own not, — rites away we fling, 
With us each brother is a saint and king." 

But he has a higher Christology than the Dukhobortsy, who 
in 1816 informed the two worthy Quakers who visited them that 
Jesus was mere man, for this book teaches that Jesus Christ 
was Jehovah crucified, God-man, after the manner of the 
ancient Patripassians. 

Ivanovski declares that there is no trace of Christianity 
in the book save the name Isus, the use of which seems to indi- 
cate that it was penned under the influence of the Old behevers. 


It is, however, strongly tinctured with Judaism, for it inculcates 
the observance of the Sabbath, circumcision and disuse of pork. 
At the same time the Jews are called a congregation of Satan, 
and the author assails the Jews of Paris in particular! 

He looks forward to the institution of a Judaism in accord- 
ance with the New Testament and beUeves that Jehovah will 
soon appear, and, after separating the left from the right among 
us, gather the latter into a millennial Kingdom in Judaea. In it 
"all sorts of blessings are to be heaped like mountains on us, 
woods, green fields, gardens, honeycomb and fruit, gold, bronze 
and silver, gems. There will be no barbaric studies, no schools 
for recruits, no violence or tricks, no reports-, no flattery of the 
authorities. All will be equal and of one rank, no police, no 
judges, everjrwhere sanctity and common people." 

The Stundists 

More important is the sect of the Stundists, in describing 
which Ivanovski rehes mainly on the Archpriest Rozhdest- 
venski's volume, South Russian Stundism, pubUshed in Peters- 
burg 1889, and the Missionary Troitski's Refutation of the errors 
of Stundism, Kiev, 1890. 

It is the most recent of the widespread Russian sects and the 
only one clearly due to German influences; it is mostly 
diffused in the South Russian Governments, especially those 
of Kherson, Ekaterinoslav and Kiev, where towards the close 
of the XlXth Century it had begun to excite the attention of 
priests and policemen. Its real founder is said to have been 
Jacob Spener, a German pastor, who died 1705. He encour- 
aged that form of pietism which delights in meetings where the 
Bible is read and made the object of meditation, and he insisted 
on the pious devoting certain hours (German Stunde) especially 
on hoHdays to such spiritual exercises. But so far there was no 
separate sect or reUgious organization, and at the meetings in 
Hamburg and elsewhere, Lutherans, Calvinist and Baptists 
mingled together. There was an agreement to do without 
formal rites, and internal spiritual illumination was by grace 


In 1817 Stundism was carried by German settlers to the 
steppes along the Black Sea into regions where the dregs of 
Dulioborism and of the Molokan sect still hngered, in spite 
of the fact that the bulk of them had been transported beyond 
the Caucasus. With these dregs Stundism rapidly allied itself. 

Ivanovski admits the deplorable reUgious conditions in those 
regions a hundred years ago, and adduces in proof the testi- 
mony of several Russian divines, e.g., of Bishop Nicanor, who 
declared that the inhabitants had neither churches nor religion. 
Children and young people received no religious training what- 
ever, the educated people were hbertines, while among the 
common people vice, drunkenness and dissoluteness reigned 
unchecked. He admits that here was a soil favourable for the 
implanting and spread of a sect which laid stress on moraUty, 
and that Stundism was such a sect. Its earhest Russian con- 
verts and propagandists, Ratushnyi, Tsimban, Ryaboshapka, 
declared that before they joined the sect they had led a disso- 
lute Ufe and "tasted of vice in all its forms." 

But the early Stundists took up no hostile position against 
the Orthodox Church; their object was merely to moraUze its 
members, just as Wesley, at any rate to begin with, had no idea 
of founding a separate sect outside the Anglican communion. 
In the Kherson Government, Bonekemipher, a reforming pas- 
tor, exhorted those who Ustened to his preaching not to desert 
the Orthodox Church, but only to adapt their hves to the pre- 
cepts of the Gospel. The earher preachers of the movement in 
Little Russia, Ratushnyi and Ryaboshapka, and Gerasim 
Balaban and Yakob Koval in the Government of Kiev, worked 
along the same hues; and it was only about 1870 that the new 
pietists organized themselves into a distinct sect ; till then they 
baptized their children in the orthodox churches, confessed and 
received the communion in them, and kept the Easter fast. 

The separate movement was due to the influence of the Bap- 
tists or Mennonites of South Russia and the Caucasus. This 
explains why they underwent baptism afresh, no doubt be- 
cause they regarded infant baptism as neither scriptural nor 
primitive. Ivan Ryaboshapka, already named, was the first 
to submit to the rite at the hands of Ephim (Euthymius) 


Tsimban. Thenceforth they formed a sect and administered 
their own rites of baptism, marriage and burial. 

Ivanovski details their tenets from a manual of the Kosya- 
kovski Stundists, met with in the Tarashchan district or 
county of the Kiev Government. It contains fifteen sections, 
and each tenet is clearly expressed and evidenced by texts 
from scripture. It was translated from a German original. 
Like the Molokanye, they profess to build entirely on the Bible, 
and Uke them are the more difficult to controvert because they 
interpret a text which prima fade is against them by the Ught 
of another which favours their views; if hard pressed they even 
resort to allegory in order to get out of a text. It is not how- 
ever always apparent what they seek to evade in the examples 
of allegorization adduced by Ivanovski. For example they 
explain Gethsemane as meaning the world, the Disciples who 
went to sleep are those who are sunk in reUgious torpor till 
they become Stundists, while those who rejected and crucified 
Jesus are the orthodox of to-day. 

Their tenets are a mixture of the Lutheran, Calvinist and 
Baptist. Sin was originally due to the Fall of Man and they 
declare man since the fall to be incapable of good and radically 
prone to evil. With the Calvinists they hold that certain souls 
are elect and predestined to Salvation; and these were handed 
over by the Father to the Saviour, as the reward of his death 
struggle, nor can they ever be lost or taken from him. 

The means, however, by which they will find Salvation are 
five : the first is the Word of God from which at Baptism they 
acquire faith in Christ. Baptism is the second, and is the 
first fruits of faith and love for Christ, a triumphant confession 
of sin forgiven and washed away. The Breaking of Bread is 
the third, for in this Holy Supper we spiritually partake of the 
body and blood of Christ. The fourth is the Communion of 
Saints, the supreme expression of church unity. Fifth and last 
is repentance with prayer; but repentance with a pure heart 
does not involve absolution pronounced by a priest, for prayer 
is more efficacious as a release from sin than is that; and it is of 
two sorts, external when attended with sighs, tears, sorrow and 
uphfted hands; internal- as a meditation upon God and the 
divine verities. 


The ecclesiastical organization of the Stundists is simple. 
They have no bishops, but presbyters are chosen by the faith- 
ful to govern and administer their affairs, teachers to preach. 
These two orders can baptize and serve the Eucharist, assisted 
by an order of deacons or servers. They have no fixed rites, 
but church service begins with reading and interpretation, 
of the Bible, then hymns composed by themselves are sung to 
popular airs unlike those of the Orthodox Church. In their 
assembly they sit, but sometimes walk up and down debating 
the sense of a text. They recognize none but adult baptism, 
for Jesus (Mark 16 xvi) prescribed faith as the sine qua non of 
baptism.^ Accordingly the Stundists re-baptize those whom 
they convert from orthodoxy; and, following the Lord's 
example, they baptize in a river. 

The rite of breaking bread is held once a month, in the presence 
of all the Stundists of a locahty. It begins with the lections of 
the Last Supper, followed by hymns. Then, all standing, the 
presbyter prays to the Lord to deign to receive his body in 
purification from sin. The deacon next brings slices of bread 
on a plate, which the presbyter breaks into pieces, communi- 
cates himself and others in them, the deacon bearing the 
morsels to the faithful. Next they sing solemn verses about the 
cup, and read appropriate lections from the Gospel, after which 
they communicate in the wine. The rite ends with a prayer of 

All other rites they reject; so too fasts, which they say are 
even harmful, for a man is more likely to do harm when he is 
hungry, and it is not that which enters the mouth which defiles 
us. They venerate neither cross nor ikon, nor commemorate 
the dead. Saints they refuse to invoke, and in particular 
ridicule the cult of St. Nicholas, so popular in Russia On 
Good Friday even the poorest among them eat meat. 

There is a minority among the Stundists who, Uke the fol- 
lowers of Uklein and the Dukhobortsy, renounce all rites even 

* Ivanovski appeals to Mark 10 iv: "Forbid them not, for of such is the 
kingdom of heaven," forgetting that the children in question had certainly not 
been baptized, and that the text, if it has any bearing on the point at issue, is 
rather an argument than not for dispensing with baptism altogether. 


baptism and the Eucharist, insisting that Christianity is 
something wholly spiritual. Their teaching is given in a 
manual compiled by Jacob Koval, and they are found espe- 
cially in the province of Tarashchan in the Kiev Government. 
This teacher argued that the baptism of Jesus was a unique 
event. ''We/' he said, "do not frequent the banks of the 
Jordan, but are purified of sin by being baptized into the death 
of Christ. With him we die and rise again, but not by water. 
The communion, they argue, of which Paul wrote, stands in the 
comimunication of the Holy Spirit through union with Holy 
Church. In it we are fed with truth and peace. The Saviour 
was the word made flesh, and if we assimilate the Word, he 
manifests himself in us." 

Part III 



For my knowledge of the mystic sects, the Khlysty and 
Skoptsy, I am chiefly indebted to the monumental work of 
Professor Karl Konrad Grass of Dorpat, Die Russischen Sekten, 
Leipzig, 1905-1914, and to his Geheime Heilige Schrift der 
Skopzen, Leipzig, 1904. His account of the Khlysty fills 714 
pages of small print, that of the Skoptsi, some 1100, and every 
page is full of learning. He has ransacked the Russian archives 
in order to present us with as complete a history as possible; 
and on dubious or disputed points he sets before us the conclu- 
sions of Russian workers in the same field, of whose works he 
adds a copious bibUography. Too much praise cannot be 
lavished on a work embodying so much research, patient, 
exhaustive, clearly written and well-arranged. It was almost 
superfluous to consult other sources, but I have paid attention 
to the works of Ivanovski and Liprandi. 

The tenets of the Khlysty have no more relation than those 
of the Dukhobortsy to the stereotyped ' high ' Christology of the 
great historical churches. In the Khlysty hymns, indeed, recur 
in plenty such terms as the God Sabaoth, God the Father, 
Christ son of God, the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God — this 
last a shibboleth, as is well known, of the Council of Ephesus. 
But in the Christian Shamanism which here hes before us we 
breathe another atmosphere than that of the speculative doc- 
tors of Byzantium, remoulding the messianic ideal according 
to the categories of Greek philosophy and suppressing, so far 
as could be, its pneumatic and prophetic aspects. The real 
parallel to Khlystism is to be sought in some of the earliest 
phases of our Faith. 

In that widespread form of Christianity generally called 
Adoptionism the Holy Spirit descends from heaven, disguised 
in the simiUtude of a dove, to take possession of the ' man born 
of men,' Jesus of Nazareth, who was singled out for such honour 



because of his having kept all the precepts of the Law and the 
Prophets. In him old Jewish prophecy culminated. But the 
grace of prophecy and of election by the Spirit did not end with 
Jesus, but only entered in him on a new cycle of development. 
The same Spirit of which the fullness dwelt in him descended 
afresh on the day of Pentecost, this time with tongues of fire 
and even odour of sanctity upon the faithful. They too by 
this baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire became elect sons of 
God, spiritually animated Christs; for Christhood was not the 
privilege of the Founder alone, but was equally the guerdon of 
his followers. In this early stage of the Christian religion there 
was no distinction of the roles of Christhood, of Spirit, of divine 
Logos or Word. Like St. Paul, the Adoptionists felt that they 
had died and risen again with their Master, and in them the 
Spirit dwelt and spake, not merely in the inarticulate jargon 
of tongues, but in sober discourse as well. 

In the earhest phases of Christianity we have also the same 
cult of virginity, male and female, as among the Khlysty. The 
student knows it under the name of encratitism. TertulHan 
felt it to be incompatible with the spiritual gifts received in 
baptism for a Christian to continue in carnal relations with his 
wife, and the same scruples were felt a century later in the age 
of Augustine. So we read in St. Paul's Epistles of the Apostles 
taking with them on their missionary travels sister-wives, of 
the brethren of the Lord doing likewise, of the converted of 
Corinth aspiring to practise the same continency, though, it 
seems, less successfully. Everywhere in the Christian htera- 
ture of the early centuries we come upon the same custom; in 
Rome, in North Africa, in Syria, in Anatolia where it inspired 
many of the poems of Gregory of Nyssa, even in the old Celtic 
church. It underlay the chivalry of the Middle Ages with its 
idealized mistresses, it inspired Dante's dream of Beatrice. 
To-day it is spread before us far and wide, up and do^Ti, the 
whole of Russia; and those who practise it call themselves 
Christs, a title of honour which the population round them has 
perverted by a pun into Khlysty or flagellants. 

As then among the Dukhobortsy, so among the Khlysty, the 
cardinal doctrine is that of the reincarnation of Christ in the 


individual; and the doctrine often assumes the form of a belief 
that at the death of one of their Christs, the Christhood passes 
into the body of another.^ But this must not be interpreted 
in the sense that there is among them no more than one Christ 
at a time. On the contrary, almost every congregation, every 
ship or nave as they call it, has its own Christ, and alongside of 
him its Mother of God or Theotokos, by whom is signified a 
female consort of the Christ, like him plenarily inspired with 
the Holy Spirit. 

The Khlysty are not unacquainted with the Old Testament 
and hold that the ancient Patriarchs were incarnations of 
Christ, just as Cyrus was a Christ. Even the burning bush in 
Exodus, Ch. 3, is interpreted as a parable of the flesh tenanted 
by the Spirit. From the bush it entered Moses, and after him 
Joshua and other spiritual leaders until finally the Fire 
descended on Jesus in the Jordan, when, as the old Western 
text relates, a light shone around upon the waters. The oldest 
Epiphany hymns of the Eastern Churches make much of this 

Grass (p. 256) remarks that Russian students of the sect at 
first hand recognize as its tenet, everywhere and always, that 
Jesus of Nazareth was an ordinary man until he was thirty 
years of age, his birth from a virgin being interpreted to mean 
that he was brought up to the true faith by his mother. In the 
early days of Christianity we equally often meet with the idea 
that the holy virginal aeon, the Church, preceded Christ and 
was, spiritually of course, his mother. So TertuUian, the 
Montanist, recognized in the Church the Mater Domini and 
in his physical Mother Mary an image of the imbelieving 

After a forty days' fast Christ came to baptism, and then the 
Spirit of God descended on him, whereby he was anointed the 
Christ. This ancient tenet was attributed by Justin Martyr 
(c. 140) to a large body of his fellow-behevers. Such an adop- 
tionist opinion underlay the old gnostic systems of the second 
century and was in the second century dominant among ortho- 
dox circles in Rome. The Khlysty may conceivably have 

1 Grass, p. 253, 


inherited it from antiquity. On the other hand, as it is the 
apparent sense of the synoptic gospels i they may have merely 
inferred it from a study of those documents. 

The Khlysty hold that Christ's body lay in the grave after 
his death, like any other man's body. The Resurrection really 
means that the Divine Spirit which had constituted him a 
Christ was bequeathed by him to successors worthy thereof. 

Thus the incarnation, the man-becoming, or as the Fathers 
termed it, the enanthropesis of God in Jesus of Nazareth, was a 
filling of Jesus with the Spirit of God, and was only the first of 
that series of such filfings which we witness in the Christian 
Church. The Khlysty, no more than the Shepherd of Hermas, 
know of any distinction between Christ the Son and the Holy 
Spirit. They are essentially a pre-Trinitarian sect, though in 
their hynms we meet with tags of Trinitarianism borrowed 
from the Orthodox Church. 

The Khlysty naves or ships form a loose congeries united only 
by the cult of one Danila Philipov, whose legend I give below 
and whom they regard as their proximate founder and prophet. 
I use the word proximate, because Danila only hved in the 
second half of the XVIIth Century, whereas their hymns ^ 
recognize that the sect is as old as Dmitri Donskoi, prince or 
grand duke of Moscow from 1363 to 1389. For Dmitri cruci- 
fied one of their Christs named Averzhan on the battlefield of 
Kulikov; another of their hymns also celebrates the memory of 
a Christ named Yemeljan who suffered under Ivan the Terrible 
(1533-1584). Danila was pre-eminent among their spiritual 
founders because he was not merely Christ, but God Sabaoth 
himself. He was 'godded,' to use a good old English word, 
by the descent of God himself upon him out of the seventh 
heaven in the shape of a bright falcon. As an incarnation 
of God himself, Danila precedes in dignity all the Christs and 
Mothers of God of the sect. 

Such identification of a mere man with God himself is strange 
to our ears, but in fact Russian peasants are not far removed 

^Except, of course, that the Gospels put the fast after the Baptism, not 
before it. 
^ Grass, p. 1. 


intellectually from the oriental populations who were ready to 
accept an Augustus or a Tiberius as objects of divine cult. 
They style even their ikons bogi or "gods," as Grass remarks 
(p. 255). The men of Lystra were quite prepared to add Paul 
and Barnabas to their Pantheon, and we have seen a John of 
Kronstadt elevated in modern Russia into something higher 
than an ordinary saint of the calendar. 

The question arises: what are the credentials of a Christ? 
How is he to be recognized? The answer is : By his sufferings. 
Danila the Founder was crucified at least twice over, and the 
Russian Government was certain to provide this test for many. 
The rack and the knout were ever handy. But mortification 
of the flesh by the candidate for Messiahship is no less essen- 
tial. Thus Roman Likhachov late in the last century was 
beheved by his followers in the Caucasus to have fasted for 
forty days on end. Some time before 1825 Awakum Kopulov, 
a peasant of the Tambov Government, achieved the same feat. 
Early in the XVIIIth Century Ivan Pimenov, a peasant of 
Alatur in the Nijni Novgorod Government, attained the dignity 
by walking barefooted through the forests in summer and 
winter, feeding on roots and shrouding his thoughts in a per- 
petual mutism. He hved to be a hundred. The self-discipline 
of silence reminds us of Apollonius of Tyana and the Neo- 
Pythagoreans, and in general the exaggerated asceticism of the 
Khlysty reminds us of the Indian Fakhirs and of the monks of 
the Thebaid. The claims of rival pretenders to Christhood are 
settled by their followers who watch them for years to see which 
of them imdergoes the worst sufferings. In such circumstances 
it is inevitable that the ascetic should sometimes trick his fol- 
lowers and even himself; and this was no doubt the case with 
Gregory Shevshchenko, who died and came to fife again at 
Alexandropol in the Ekaterinoslav Government about the year 
1889 to the surprise and deUght of his adherents; parallels 
will occur to the reader of Hindoos buried aUve and resuscitat- 
ing themselves. 

As Grass remarks (p, 260), all these exploits, together with 
the self-glorification which attends them, seem at first sight to 
be performed at the cost of Jesus of Nazareth, and Ivan 


Gregoriev taught in Orlov Gai in 1858 that the Son of God was 
not in the historical Jesus Christ alone. Even before Christ 
he was in the Righteous, and in the same way He has subse- 
quently come down among us in many righteous and faithful 
ones. In such teaching, however, we have Httle more than a 
protest against the Greek Churches which insist on the unique 
Divinity of Jesus; the sectaries, if they were better read, could 
adduce on their side the testimony of Justin Martyr {dialogue 
with Tryphon, 268) that there were Christians in his day who 
believed Jesus to have been born a man and to have been 
anointed and become Messiah by way of election; or of Hege- 
monius (Acta Archelai) who takes up the same standpoint, and 
assumes that, as Jesus for his merits was chosen to be a vessel 
of the Holy Spirit and became Christ by adoption, so were the 
Apostles and the faithful in general. In fact they do not yield 
to ordinary Christians in their veneration for the Man of Naza- 
reth. This is evident from their hymns which address Jesus 
as the Allmighty and heavenly Lord. Not only the rank and 
file, but their Christs equally, invoke him in prayer as God the 
Father. The Virgin Mary is equally an object of their cult, 
none the less solemn and sincere because they venerate their 
own mothers of God. 

Two of their hymns reproduced by Grass (p. 261) from 
Barsov illustrate the above points. The first is 

"Our redeemer Christ hath consummated the task of his all 

purest flesh, 
Yet he still doth consmnmate it in other elect bodies of flesh. 
He, ever the one and same Christ, God, Saviour, 
Abideth inseparably with the Father in Heaven, 
Sendeth his Holy Spirit, through whom he begetteth Christ. 
We are the earth and the httle world, but the Son is Son of 

He riseth in the hearts of those who love him, Uke the sun, 
He riseth up, sets not again, but tarrieth always; 
He transmutes his Word into flesh, whereby he redeemeth the 

entire world; 
The believing heart knoweth how the light streams forth. 
Then doth God beget Christ, when all things die away. 


When the Son of God shall appear, all things shall be changed, 

The creature shall be reborn, shall be transformed into Christ, 

When love, pure humility, faith and patience 

In us, my friends, shall prevail, then will Christ come unto us. 

Thou the only, the perfect, the word made flesh! 

Thou, hypostatic Son of God, bom before world and time 

began ! 
Where thou wilt, in whom thou restest — thou dost manifest 


The second is : — 
"The Liberator, who is come into the world, sent from God, 
He Cometh forward, the fair sun; open ye your hearts! 
Open them, welcome in the King of Glory, 
And so well as ye may, my friends, cleanse your hearts! 
In heartfelt penitence humble ye yourselves. 
And with heartfelt tears wash yourselves clean! 
Be ye pure, spotless, as the children of God. 
Welcome ye the heavenly Ught, unfold the petals of the heart. 
Praise ye in the flesh your little Father akin to you. 
The Word of God was made flesh, revealed himself among us, 
In his fulness it was revealed, appeared in the creature. 
It dwelleth together with us and instructeth us. 
For thee are temples made ready, O opened heart, 
Come, eternal Ufe, descend into our hearts! 
Despise not, thou Son of God, our blackness." 

But in this sect are many grades of holiness. Danila was 
God of Sabaoth incarnate, and many are the Christs and 
Mothers-of-God, presiding over the various ships. But the 
vessel is also freighted, Uke the Church of St. Paul, with others 
who in their measure have received the Gift of the Spirit, with 
Apostles, Prophets, Prophetesses, People of God in general. 
All are elect, all have the grace of God, but all are not in the 
same measure endowed with the spirit. All initiates of what- 
ever grade of sanctity, are admitted to the meetings which are 
strictly secret. Then are chanted the hymns of which I have 
given these two examples. 

And these, be it remarked, for anything they contain, might 


equally be Dukhobor compositions. They are composed in 
double rhymes, in stately rhythm and in pure well chosen 
language. Once I was in a Russian posthouse, a solitary place, 
perched high upon the lofty hills which confront Ararat across 
the plain of Erivan. It was a clear moonlight night, and a 
troop of Russian dissenters, whether Dukhobortsy or Molo- 
kanye or Khlysty I know not, came marching along the road, 
singing in parts such a hymn as the above. It was the most 
stirring devotional music I have ever listened to, transcending 
any elaborate Italianized chorus I ever heard in the Kazan 
Cathedral of Petersburg. St. Augustine describes in his 
inimitable way the impression which the devotional music of 
Milan made upon him: it must have resembled the singing 
of Russian dissenters, as I have heard it. 

Among the Khlysty then the two chief sacraments, the essen- 
tials in order to salvation, are firstly mortification of the flesh, 
sufferings self-imposed or inflicted by a Russian Government 
ever ready to inflict them; and secondly, reception of the Holy 
Spirit, and the latter comimonly shews itself, as it shewed itself 
in the early Church, in the form of trance, of ecstasy, of spiri- 
tual convulsions and contortions. 

The Holy Spirit dwells in the seventh heaven and his sudden 
clutch of the devotee is Ukened in the hymns to the swoop of a 
falcon, or an eagle, seldom, as in our Gospels, to the gentle 
downward flight of a dove. The mere singing of hynms suffices 
to throw some of the faithful into an ecstasy, and a meeting 
commonly begins with a metrical paraphrase of the Lord's 
Prayer. The first fines of this in what Grass (p. 265) regards as 
its most primitive form runs thus : 

"Give us, Lord, 
To us, Jesus Christ! 
Give us, Son of God, 
Light; have mercy upon us! 
Ruler, Holy Spirit, 
Have mercy upon us! 
Lady Ruler, our fittle Mother! 
Ask, Light, for us 
The Light, thy Son, 


The Spirit of God, the Holy one! 

Light, by thee are redeemed 

Many sinners on the earth, 

Unto the Httle Mother, unto our Lady Queen, 

Light, unto her that cherishes us." 

There are a hundred other hymns which contribute to the 
same effect; but the most potent means to produce union with 
the spirit is the rehgious dance known as Radenie, a word which 
impUes zeal, labour, fervour. With Russians, emotion as 
naturally translates itself into dancing as among orientals; 
and it is possible that the Khlysty imitate in some degree the 
Mahormnedan Dervishes of whose transports they were eye- 
witnesses during the long subjection of their country to the 
Tatars. Stephen Graham in his volume upon Russia and the 
World (London, 1915) has a graphic picture of Russian peas- 
ants dancing which reminds us of some of the Radenie. 

The early Christians graced every festival of a Saint with 
"the customary dances"; ^ and if they were subsequently for- 
bidden in the Spanish and other Churches, it was only because 
they were irreverently conducted and not because they were 
objectionable in themselves. Even in Spain I have myself wit- 
nessed the graceful dances of the Acolytes in the Great Church 
of Seville. 

The following is an example of the hymns which among these 
people preludes the descent of the Spirit : 

"Strings, his strings 
The prophet David (smote)! 
The prophet played upon the strings — 
He burst into tears; 
With the upper Powers 
He prayed unto Sabaoth: 
Have mercy on me, O God! 
Pour out thy grace on me! 
Mighty are the graces 
Freely bestowed on thee, who prayest! 
In thy sight have I sinned, 

1 Ada of S. Polyeuctes. 


Before thee I bow myself down, 

Give me faith, hope — 

To thee I pray. 

By thy grace 

Am I for ever made strong. 

Like a child 

I am anew reborn. 

By thy holy Spirit 

Am I now swept away — in transport. 

With us have they assembled, 

In the assembling place the assemblage, 

They have called the Spirit down. 

They have shed tears. 

They have dispersed their sins. 

In themselves they have awaited 

In fear the King of Glory. 

And all with one accord 

Lifted their voices to heaven: 

Float down, Son of God, 

Good Spirit, guide! 

As in earUer days 

A roar was heard from heaven, 

Thou \mto thine elect ones 

In fiery tongues descendest. 

Thus in thy speech to be heard by all 

From that day unto this." 

Picture the surroundings : it is the evening of one of the many 
feasts of the Russian Church, for a gathering of people on such 
a day is least likely to excite the attention of the pohce. The 
meeting is held in a long whitewashed chamber, with benches 
along the walls, and to one side there is a table on which is set 
loaves and a jug of water or of mild and unintoxicating kvas, 
the elements of the Khlysty Eucharist. Such is the scene of the 
rites to follow. The faithful enter; they have shed their heavy 
cloaks and foot-gear; for when you enter a Russian house you 
leave your over-boots at the door as a matter of course, and the 
floor here, like that of a mosque, is holy ground. Men and 
women alike are clad in a white flowing raiment, and, as in the 


sister sect of Skoptsy, each carries a white handkerchief to be 
waved aloft in the dance in imitation of an angel's wings. They 
approach in couples the presiding Christ or Mother of God, and 
prostrate themselves before them in token that God and Christ 
are in them made flesh. They probably listen to a little homily 
against the use of intoxicants and tobacco, against backsliding 
and on the duty of guarding in silence even on the rack and 
under the lash the mysteries of the sect. In the XVIIIth 
Century innumerable monks and nuns from orthodox convents 
frequented such meetings, and with them may have originated 
in the sect the practice which sporadically continues to-day of 
burning incense before the suspended ikons and of adoration 
paid to the Cross hung in a corner of the chamber. 

The homily finished, the dance begins, at first an orderly 
circular dance in which men and women join hands; all are 
singing the Prayer of Jesus given above in alternation with 
other hymns. Faster and faster revolves the human circle, 
more animated become the vocal strains, and presently they 
burst into a chorus recalling that of the Bacchae in the ancient 
mysteries of Dionysus: — 

" Past us in paradise a bird is hovering, 
It flies amain. 
To yonder side it glances, 
Where the trumpet's blast ^ is heard, 
Where God himself is speaking: 
O God, God, O God, 
O Spirit, Spirit, O Spirit! 
Float down, down, down! 
Oi Yega! Oi Yega! Oi Yega!^ 
It floated down, it floated down, 
The Holy Spirit, the Holy Spmt! 
'Twill blow where it will, where it listeth. 
The Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit. 

I burn, I burn. 

The Spirit burns, God burns! 

1 The trumpet means the Christ or prophet presiding over the scene. 

2 Perhaps the pronimciation is yeha, an abbreviation of the name Jesus. 


Light is in me, Light is in me, 
The Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost! 
O I burn, burn, burn. 
Ghost! Oi Yegd! (four times) 
Yev6ye! Host Ye vol (thrice) 

Soon isolated figures detach themselves from the throng and 
spin round, like Dervishes, with incredible rapidity. Others 
begin to stamp, kick, hop, leap, shriek; all are bathed in sweat, 
all are foaming at the mouth, all are gesticulating wildly, all are 
ejaculating such phrases as : Oi Duyh, Oi Dukh, Svkatoi 
Duch, Okh, okh, okhl^ 

It is a final token of the presence of the Spirit that they drop 
exhausted and inanimate on the floor, insensible to external 
impressions. On such occasions they have failed to notice 
the entrance even of the hated poUce in their chamber; or, if 
they have been warned in time, they have fled barefooted in 
their scanty garments to their homes across fields of snow in 
forty degrees of frost and suffered no harm thereby. 

But some under the intoxication of the Spirit begin to speak 
with tongues, which it is the task of others to interpret. Even 
these uncouth utterances are often marked by rhythm and fall 
into rhymed verses, but not always as the following inharmon- 
ious specimen shews :^ 

Nasontos, Lesontos, phurtlis, natruphuntru, natrisinphur, 
Ej-eserephire, Kresentrephert, tscheresantro, ulmiri, umilisintru, 
gereson, drowolmire, tschesondro phorde, kornemila, koremira, 
g^drowolne, korlemire s'drowolde, kaniphute, jeschetschere 
kondre, nasiphe nasophont, meresinti, pheretra. 

Such is the tongue talked by the Holy Spirit in Russia, and it 
especially affects a combination of consonants nt rare in the 
normal speech. Harnack has conjectured that the gibberish 
of the old Greek and Egyptian magic papyri was taken down 
from the lips of devotees fallen into a rehgious trance, and these 
utterances of the Khlysty go far to confirm his conjecture. 

Khlysty of whom the Spirit has taken possession and who 
have subsequently revealed their experiences to the profane, are 

> "Ho Spirit, Spirit, Holy Spirit, Ho, Ho, Ho." 
* Grass, p. 123 whose transliteration I follow. 


agreed that in such moments its advent is marked by a feeling 
of profound inward exaltation and joy. They are no more 
themselves, the normal man or woman is dead in them, their 
hearts flutter, their tongues are stirred by the new soul within 
them, they are raised into the seventh heaven, are in paradise, 
they even see God and the angels face to face. So the Bogomils 
of the Xlth and XII Centuries had ocular visions of the 
Trinity. Occasionally, Uke the second century Montanist 
prophetess Maximilla, they are conscious of being God and 
cry out to that effect. Such 'enthusiasm' was almost normal 
in Christians before A. D. 250 and sporadically continued, 
especially among monks and nuns. Of such ecstasy many of 
the Khlysty hymns are the fruit. They are the utterances of 
the Holy Ghost speaking in the flesh; taken down in writing 
or faithfully remembered, they form in their entirety the Dove 
Book {Kniga Goluhina), which like the hymns of the Dukho- 
bortsi, takes precedence in the matter of inspiration even of 
the New Testament; though no doubt the Bible, especially the 
Book of Sirach and the Gospels, is held in high reverence. 
The former was the only old Jewish scripture recognized by 
the Manicheans and Cathars, no doubt because the Jews 
rejected it, and these sects inherited the anti-Semitic bias of 
Marcion. For those, however, who are recipients of the Dove 
Book the Bible is really superfluous, save in so far as it serves 
to confirm their faith, which by dint of allegory its most refrac- 
tory passages may be made to do. For example they interpret 
the veil of Moses as the holy estate of matrimony, which they 
regard as did the Cathars, as being no better, perhaps worse 
than adultery; 'the greater adultery' was the Cathar expres- 
sion for it. 

The Khlysty, male or female, so thoroughly repudiate worldly 
marriage, that on initiation they take a spiritual wife or hus- 
band. Not that the wife of the unregenerate phase is wholly 
discarded; for she often continues to sleep in chastity in her 
husband's bed, in company with the spiritual wife; but her 
children, born of sin, are denominated in the argot of the sect 
'httle sins, whelps, young cats,' and are not allowed to call their 
parents father and mother. At initiation every Khlyst swears 


to eschew orthodox marriage and not to attend a christening. 
They teach that if God desires a virgin to conceive, he will 
impregnate her with his Holy Spirit as he did Mary the Mother 
of Christ. In spite of such behefs, however, they illogically 
insisted on the line of their founder Danila Philippovich being 
maintained for some generations in the ordinary manner until 
his last female descendant was immured by the Russian 
Government in a convent, where she was inaccessible. After 
that their devotion to his memory centred in his relics, his hat, 
stick, the rags he wore and hairs of his head. 

In their diet they are very abstemious. They eschew meat, 
like the Skoptsy (a branch of their sect), because flesh is the 
product of copulation; at least this is their reason according to 
Liprandi {Raskolov Eres', 1853, Leipzig Ed. of 1883, p. 29). 
The reason is probable enough, for the Cathars also gave it; 
and it is perhaps the real basis of the Catholic rule of fasting. 
But the Khlysty illogically forbid fish as well, which being 
bom in the water had not the same taint for the Cathars or for 
the early Christians, who for that reason made it the symbol 
of Jesus bom again the Christ in the waters of Jordan, — 
Piscis natus aquis as the old Latin Christian poet has it. Like 
the Molokanye and no doubt the Dukhobortsy, the Khlysty 
abjure the onion and garUc, because they interfere with the 
odour of sanctity which they detect in one another. They 
also avoid potatoes, a prejudice they have in common with 
many Old beUevers, who beUeve it to be the identical fruit with 
which Eve tempted Adam. That the foreign-minded Catha- 
rine II introduced it from the West was enough to condemn it; 
and for a like reason they abhor tobacco. Both are 'western 

Khlysty girls enthusiastically uphold the Encratite rule of 
spiritual wedlock, and regard a man's legal wife, assumed 
before he entered the order, as a Gift of the Devil. The ascetic 
life they pursue gives to the members of the sect a pecuhar 
look by which they are easily recognized. No one who has 
encountered them will forget their deep-set intensely gleaming 
eyes, their spare emaciated frames, their reposeful manner. 
They seem to have dropped out of another world into this one. 


They have been accused of endmg theu- radenia or religious 
dances with wholesale debauchery, the hghts being first put out. 
Grass examines the evidence very carefully and impartially, 
and rejects the story as calumny. The only thing that gives 
it colour is that often, when the ecstasies are over, the exhausted 
votaries drop dowTi on the floor and sleep tUl dawn, the men on 
one side of the apartment, the women on the other. Their 
doing so, instead of going home at once, is a necessity dictated 
either by the climate or by fear of the Russian poUce, whose 
suspicions would be roused if they trooped home at a late hour.^ 
Tertullian, after he became a Montanist, accused the Catholic 
deacons of deflowering the deaconesses at the close of their 
agapes; but no ecclesiastical historian whoUy credits his story, 
although no doubt the then prevailing custom of virgines suhin- 
troductae, i. e., of nuns living for the sake of protection or human 
sympathy with monkish priests and laymen, occasionally gave 
rise to such abuses as Gibbon satirizes and Cyprian attests. 
That this may occur among the Khlysty also is undeniable, 
but those in a position to judge admit it to be rare. The same 
stories were current in Medieval Europe about the Cathars, 
and with equally little reason. Still more horrible stories are 
told of the Khlysty communicating in the blood of a baby boy 
bom to one of their virgins and so forth. The ancient Jews 
accused the early Christians of such Thyestean banquets, and 
so did the pagan populace. All through the Middle Ages the 
Catholics accused the Jews of them, and rival monastic orders 
even charged one another with them. In Russia the same 
tradition of anti-Semitic calumny prevails to-day. Only 
just before the war, the orthodox were offering up prayers all 
over Russia, and especially in the Kazan Cathedral in their 
capital, for the conviction of a miserable Jew accused in Kiev 
of murdering a Christian child for ritual purposes. Such 
superstitions are hard to kill in Russia, which in many respects 
remains medieval. There every Jew is believed to bear the 
brand of Cain, not on his brow, where it could be seen, but 
under his clothes on his breast. Grass, then, examines this sort 

1 In a peasant's izba or hut it Is usual for both sexes, old and young, to repose 
together on the top of the stove during the long winter. 


of story about the Khlysty with his accustomed thoroughness, 
setting all the evidence in full before us, and no one will wade 
through it and not dismiss it with contempt. The extraor- 
dinary secrecy with which for two and a half centuries the 
sect has, under pain of being knouted, exiled and burnt alive, 
concealed its rites, often under the cloak of devout adherence 
to the Orthodox Church, sufficiently accounts for the genesis 
of such stories. 

From their outward show of orthodoxy and perhaps from the 
circumstance that in the XVIIIth Century their cult flourished 
so vigorously inside convents and monasteries, certain orthodox 
observers agree that they regard the Greek Church as a sort of 
vestibule to their mysteries. They are the perfecti, the com- 
mon church man is only an auditor or catechumen. But their 
affectation of orthodoxy is at best a screen. At the most, 
observes Grass (p. 348), the Khlysty would allow that the 
Orthodox Church witnesses even against its will to their own; 
but in reality they utterly reject it with all its sacraments. 

They hold that if the Orthodox Church has any super- 
natural role, it is a purely satanic one. They are the only 
Apostolic Church, the true successors of the holy Martyrs whom 
the kings of the earth persecuted of old, as to-day the Orthodox 
"Jews and Pharisees" persecute the Khlysty. 

Having, like the Dukhobortsy and the Cathars, a baptism of 
the spirit, they reject the water baptism of John as an institu- 
tion that with the advent of Christ lost its significance. Like 
the Hydroparastatae and other followers of Tatian, numerous 
in the early church, they refuse to use wine in their communion, 
for wine renders the sacrament sinful and fleshly. Observers 
have recorded of them that when they go to church and partake 
of the village pope's cup of wine, as the law forces them to do 
at least once a year, they retain it in their mouths till they can 
quit the church and spit it out. What they signify by the 
simple meal of bread and water is not clear; we have seen 
that the IMolokanye retain it, while disclaiming for it any sacra- 
mental significance; nor is it intelligible that alongside of the 
plenary inspiration of the Radenie it could possess any for the 


Russian authorities (eunumerated by Grass, p. 278) declare 
that in one form of the Radenie the sectaries dance round and 
round a tub full of water, for which reason they are in some 
places popularly known as Kadushniki from kadushka, a 
small tub. As they dance round it, flagellating themselves, 
they sing a refrain: — 

I scourge, scourge, I seek Christ. 

Come down to us, Christ, from the seventh heaven. 

Circle with us, Christ, in the holy ring, 

Hover down from heaven. Lord, Holy Ghost ! 

There is no fire beneath the tub, yet presently it begins as their 
fervour waxes, to simmer and bubble. A vapour rises off it, 
and amid the vapour in a nimbus of golden Ught they discern 
a child, or a mother and a child. Some relate that not a child, 
but a dark bird, like a raven, is materialized in the steam. 
The votaries when they see the apparition fall prostrate in 
ecstasy and terror. 

That they conduct some such dance round a tub, seems too 
w^ell attested for us to doubt it. I beUeve, if it exists, it may be 
a relic of the Epiphany consecration of water in commemora- 
tion of the descent of the Spirit in Jordan upon Christ. ^ The 
raven variant is bred of their common comparison of the Spirit 
to a falcon or an eagle. In the Great Churches a stoop of water 
is consecrated for use in baptisms etc. on this festival. For the 
excited dancers to have such a vision is natural enough. 
Stranger miracles are worked every day among ourselves by 
mediums in spiritualist seances. It would be enough for one 
votary to cry out that he saw it, and all present would behold it 

The prophecies indulged in by those of whom the Spirit takes 
possession on such occasions, are of the naive and homely char- 
acter we might expect among Russian peasants. The prophet 
foretells what the weather is going to be, whether the crops will 
fail or whether there will be a bumper harvest, — matters of 

1 Cp. the old Slavonic rite (translated from a lost Latin text) of exorcising the 
waters at Epiphany, published by Franz Radic from a Curzola MS. of c. 1400, in 
Wissenschaftliche Mittheilungen aus Bosnien und der Herzegovina, Wien 1894, p. 
179 foU. 


great concern in Russia. They also forecast the take of fish in 
the rivers, conflagrations of individual cabins or entire villages, 
which in Russia are mostly built of wood. They also predict 
persecutions by the Government, a class of event which could 
be safely predicted at any time and anywhere. Sometimes 
the predictions relate to the death of members of the sect or to 
their sins. All sorts of devices are employed by the prophet 
to shadow forth the future, and there are rules for interpreting 
his actions, no less than his utterances. For example, he swings 
a lamp to and fro : if it remains alight all present are blameless ; 
if it goes out, someone has sinned. Or he takes, says Grass 
(p. 287), all the handkerchiefs which they waved as they danced, 
and lays them together in the form of a cross on the floor. 
Then all step over them, but if anyone trips and touches the 
pattern with his toe, he is a sinner and must do penance. Grass 
enumerates other equally simple forms of old-world ordeal. 
We must bear in mind that in the old Russian codes the ordeal 
was much in evidence, and the peasantry still believe in it. 
Among ourselves it has survived as an innocent method of 
fortune-telling familiar to folk-lorists. 

Auricular confession of sins to the Christ or Prophet or 
Mother of God appears to be in vogue among all the groups of 
Khlysty who exist under various popular names all over the 
Russian empire. In some groups a simple form of spiritual 
marriage exists; as also simple rites for the initiation of novices, 
though, be it remarked, the Radenie is the only proper form 
of reception of the spirit. We have also hints of a rite of 
anointing for the sick and of funeral ceremonies. 

The origin of the Khlysty is lost in antiquity, but Uzov and 
Grass are clearly right in supposing it to be a form of Bogo- 
mUism at least as old in Russia as the prevalent orthodoxy. 
Russian divines who regard Western Europe as the home of 
rationaUsm derive it from that quarter; but it has nothing in 
common with the Protestant Reformation ; it has affinity with 
the gospel of Madame de Guyon, and it resembles externally 
the Avignon Brotherhood of the end of the XVIIIth Century, 
the Enghsh Quakers, the Russian freemasons; but all these 
points of contact are superficial. Still more ineffective is the 
attempt of Russian anthropologists to derive it from the 


Shamanism of the Finns, displaced by the Muscovite Slavs so 
far as the latter did not blend and become one race with them, 
only imposing on them their language and religion. 

The determining factors to be borne in mind in any discus- 
sion of their origin are their Adoptionist Christology and their 
disciplina arcani. But neither of these necessarily implies, 
as Grass imagines, a gnostic origin, for the Great Church was 
largely adoptionist until the age of Paul of Samosata, as are 
the Synoptic Gospels themselves; and the disciplina arcani 
was maintained in the church long after it had lost its meaning 
and importance. The gnostic sects were Adoptionist because 
they grew up within an early Christianity that was dominantly 
such. As regards the disciplina, it is difficult to say just how 
far it is in the case of a Russian dissenting sect due to persecu- 
tion and how far traditional. 

We have seen that the Khlysty themselves recognize their 
sect to be older than their God Zebaoth, or Sabaoth, Danila, 
whose memory and relics are sacred to all its branches. He 
probably found the idea of divine incarnation current, put 
himself forward as a signal example of it and found devoted 
followers to accept his claims to godship. The descent of the 
Spirit on him took place at a fixed date and in a particular spot. 
He was a peasant of the Government of Kostroma, and lived 
during the reign of Alexis Michailovich (1645-1676). He had 
deserted from the Army, and is said to have been a Bezpo- 
povets and a follower of Kapiton, after whom one of the Priest- 
less groups was called. He could write and read, possessed 
Old-believer books and was recognized as a teacher. As he 
stood on the hill of Gorodina in the Volost of Starodub in the 
Government of Vladimir, the God Zebaoth descended on clouds 
of fire in a fiery car, with his cortege of angels, seraphim and 
cherubim, and took possession of his all-holy and pure person. 
Thus Danila became the living God. None of his successors 
have risen above the level of Christs, Prophets or Mothers of 
God. This second advent — the first was in Jordan — took 
place in 1645, a date which conflicts with the tradition that he 
was an Old-believer; perhaps the last year of Alexis's reign 
should have been assigned rather than the first. 

Danila began his preaching in the Staraya village, 30 versts 


from Kostroma, and called his home the house of God, his fol- 
lowers the people of God. Presently he removed to Kostroma, 
the New Jerusalem of the sect, and to emphasize the fact that 
the Dove Book had superseded all Church books, he threw all he 
could find of the latter into the Volga. This, it is said, caused 
the Patriarch Nikon to imprison him in a dark cell in the 
Bogoyavlenski cloister. Escaping thence back to Kostroma, 
he delivered to his followers, like Jehovah on Sinai, his Twelve 
Commandments, as follows : — 

1. I am God, foretold of the prophets, and am come 
down to earth a second time to save men's souls. 
There is no other God than I. 

2. There is no other teaching but mine. Seek ye none 

3. Whereunto ye are appointed, abide therein. 

4. Keep God's commandments, be ye fishermen of the 

5. Drink no intoxicant, commit no sins of the flesh. 

6. Marry not. He that is married shall live with his 
wife as with his sister, as is declared in the old scrip- 
ture. Let the un wedded wed not, the wedded sepa- 

7. Utter not foul words nor black speeches (i. e. invoca- 
tions of the Devil) . 

8. Go not to weddings or baptisms, nor frequent drink- 
ing resorts. 

9. Steal not. If a man steal but a single kopeck, it shall 
in the dread judgment be laid on his skull, and when 
the coin melts in fire on his head, and not before, shall 
he gain remission of his sin. 

10. Keep these rules in secret, reveal them not even to 
father or mother, and even if men scourge thee with 
whip or burn thee with fire, bear it. So doing the 
true shall after the pattern of the old martyrs win 
heaven, and on earth spiritual satisfaction. 

11. Visit one another, practise hospitality (lit. bread and 
salt), practise charity, keeping connnandments, pray 
to God. 

12. Have faith in the Holy Spirit. 


Fifteen years after his Epiphany at Gorodina, Danila begot 
a spiritual son after the manner of St. Paul. This was Ivan 
Timofeyevich Suslov, the son of Timofe and Irina, respectable 
people of the neighbourhood. The legend is that Irina was a 
hundred when he was born, and that he was her firstborn. He 
was Jesus, incarnate over again, and in his thirty-first year 
received Godship at the hands of Danila, after being for three 
days translated with him to heaven. This incident took place 
at Staraya; returning to Michailizy on the River Oka, Suslov 
chose twelve apostles and a Mother of God. His brothers 
became his disciples, and began to spread the cult of Danila 
along the banks of the Oka and the Volga. When his fame as a 
thaumaturge spread abroad, the Tsar Alexis seized hun and 
handed him too over to Nikon who sent him to the boyar 
Morisov; the latter recognizing that he was a divine being, 
excused himself from trying him on the ground of ilbiess. The 
Tsar then set the boyar Odoyevski on to him, who racked him 
with irons and fire, but failed to extract from him any statement 
of his faith. In the end Suslov was crucified on a Friday, and 
rose from the dead the following Sunday. Then the Tsar 
seized him afresh and flaying him, crucified him afresh. A 
virgin had kept his skin which he donned afresh only to be 
crucified a third time. Apparently these crucifixions occupied 
a considerable space of time, and it was only Natalia Kirillovna, 
the wife of the Tsarevich Peter (the Great) who finally put 
an end to them. That is why the sect honours her pictures as 
those of a saint. In some of the hymns Suslov's rescue is set 
down to successful bribery by Danila or his followers. 

Thus freed, Suslov continued to teach in Moscow for thirty 
years, living in a good house behind the Sukharev tower. 
Danila at Kostroma heard of his success and, though aged one 
hundred years, went to visit him. On January 1, 1700, at the 
conclusion of a long service of dancing, on the day of St. Basil, 
Danila in the presence of all the occupants of the New Jerusa- 
lem, as Suslov's house was called, went bodily up to heaven. 
But according to a rival legend his body was buried in the vil- 
lage Kriushino in the Government of Kostroma. Fresh 
persecutions, however, were in store for Suslov. He fled from 
Moscow, but returned, and after three years ascended into 


heaven, though he also left his body behind on earth. Peter 
the Great, according to the Khlysty, changed the beginning 
of the civil year to January 1, because Danila died on it! 

The hmits of this work forbid me to follow Grass into his 
examination of the above legend, which I have given in outline, 
and as it is embodied in many hymns. After all its main inter- 
est lies m the glimpses it furnishes of the mentality of the sect. 
It is clearly designed to suggest a parallelism between Jesus 
Christ and the founders of the sect. 

There can in the nature of things be no reliable statistics on 
the strength of the Khlysty and of the Skoptsy, their congeners. 
Pobedonostsev, with his customary effrontery estimated them 
together in his religious census of 1903 at 3,887 souls, although 
in the statistical tables of the Ministry of the Interior they were 
aheady as early as 1863 reckoned at 110,000. The two sects 
together may safely be to-day reckoned at 300,000. They are 
specially numerous in the Caucasus, where they are called 

Their increase, admitted by all authorities, depends on their 
preaching and teaching only, and in the Baltic provinces they 
convert not a few Lutherans. Their sobriety and mutual 
charity render the Khlysty sect attractive. They are careful 
of education, and in the Caucasus the converted send their 
'little sins' to the orthodox schools. Their economic life 
resembles that of the peasants in general, and they adhere to 
the ancient four field system with common tillage. No one 
starves among them, they help one another in misfortune, and 
having rich merchants among their converts, they never want 
funds. A single rich convert has been known to rebuild an 
entire village which had been burned down, merely because 
there were a few Khlysty in it. Their charity is extended to the 
orthodox, partly to disarm the suspicions of the Holy Synod; 
but their industry, intelligence, purity of life, self-respect are 
acknowledged by the most hostile observers. They will not 
practise usury among themselves nor do they ever carry an 
internal dispute before any of the tribunals of the State. 
Their leaders settle it for them. They are clean in person and 
in dress, and the inns or rest-houses which they keep, especially 
in the Caucasus, are models of tidiness and sobriety. 


The lines of the diffusion of Khlystism are difficult to deter- 
mine. The legend of Danila estabhshes that in the last half 
of the XVIIth Century it already flourished both in Vladimir 
and Kostroma as well as in Moscow. The earliest inquisition 
began by discovering in Moscow in January, 1733, as many as 
78 adherents; in July, 222 more. In all over 300 were con- 
demned, 5 of them to death, the rest were knouted or had their 
tongues cut out, were sent to hard labour in Orenburg and 
Siberia, shut up in monasteries, etc. As many as 80 of them 
were monks or nuns, 50 merchants or craftsmen, 100 peasants. 
One of the ladies condemned belonged to the nobility. 

In 1745-1752 followed a fresh inquisition also in Moscow, 
presided over by the notorious Grinkov. Victims were racked 
every day, searing with hot irons being the most approved 
method of torture. Five were burnt alive in public, 26 con- 
demned to death, the rest to the knout, deprivation of their 
noses, exile, etc. In all 454 were punished, among them 70 
monks and nuns and a few of the clergy, 50 merchants and 
craftsmen, over 300 peasants; of the victims only 164 were 
residents in Moscow, the rest mostly from the upper Volga. 
These data prove that about 1700 the sect was mostly confined 
to Moscow, where many converts harboured it. After the 
second persecution the members fled in numbers from Moscow 
and carried their tenets rapidly to all points of the compass. 
In 1746 we hear of it in Petersburg, and in Alatur to the East. 
By the year 1775, the history of the Skoptsy reveals it in some 
strength in the city of Tula. 



It remains to describe the Skoptsy whose fame has spread 
outside Russia and is out of all proportion to their numerical 
importance ; this being what one would expect of a sect whose 
history interests the criminologist at least as much as it does 
the analyst of religion. About 1770 there were some thousand 
Khlysty in Tula, divided into several 'ships' or congregations, 
all of them recognizing an aged woman Akulina Ivanovna as 
their Mother of God. Under her were ranged prophets and 
prophetesses, one Anna Romanovna being the chief of the latter 
Her prophecies, as usual, concerned fisheries and fields, and 
her fame in prediction extended even outside the sect. She 
had the merit, however, of discovering the religious value of 
one SeUvanov, They seem to have lacked a Christ in Tula 
at the time, and we only hear of a chief prophet Philimon, who 
in spite of his own spiritual ambitions was constrained by the 
spirit to acclaim Selivanov, his rival, as his superior, just as 
St. John acclaimed Jesus. The congregations danced on 
ground measured off for them by the prophets, who prophesied 
in the name of God or of the Holy Ghost. Thus Anna Roma- 
novna, like Priscilla, exclaimed in the spirit of the faithful, 
''Why have ye not found me, God, and seen where I dwell? " 

These details come from Selivanov's autobiography, com- 
mitted long afterwards to writing, and from it we also learn that 
marriage was rigorously forbidden in the Tula 'ships'; Seli- 
vanov alludes to the good old times, i. e., of Danila and Suslov, 
which were revived when he became the Christ. 

Selivanov found matter for criticism in the behaviour of his 
co-sectaries. They were too lax in their morals; and this is his 
own account of why they quarrelled with him, delated him to 
the Government and slew his spiritual offspring Martin. 

The name under which this obscene fanatic is venerated by 
the Skoptsy is Kondrati Selivanov. His real name was Andrei 



Ivanov, and on one occasion he called himself Simeon, in order 
to evade pursuit. He also passed himself off as a Kiev monk. 
We have a contemporary picture of him in a writ for his arrest 
issued in August, 1775, when Catharine II was residing in 
Moscow. He is described as of middling height, of pale com- 
plexion, sharply cut nose, reddish-yellow hair, almost beardless, 
about fifty-three years of age, shorn in the peasant style and in 
the same stjde dressed, and withal a Skopets (emasculated). 
Some time before the year 1772 Kondrati, faithful to the text 
Mat. 19, xii, and convinced that baptism by spirit and by fire 
connoted no less, emasculated himself with a hot iron. He 
claimed in his later life to have done the deed when he was 
fourteen, i. e., about the year 1736; but his own followers 
believed he was a man of forty at the time. He was a peasant 
of Stolbov in the Oryol Government and a serf of Prince Kante- 
mir. By his own testimony he was a Khlyst beforehand, hav- 
ing been converted to that sect by a woman, Akulina Ivanovna, 
who, after her convert became a " Christ," if not before, became 
herself, by the fact of having converted him, a Mother of God or 
Theotokos. His first converts were certainly members of the 
sect, and that he began his new gospel inside its pale is shewn 
by the fact that he himself initiated as a Khlyst one of his 
earliest adherents, Alexander Ivanovich Shilov. His original 
programme was merely to supplement the encratite rule of the 
Khlysty and raise a barrier against its infraction. From an 
ukase of Catharine II dated July 2, 1772, our earliest document 
respecting the new sect, we know that it had by that time 
gained many adherents. Catharine describes it as a new sort 
of heresy that had appeared among the peasants in Oryol, and 
instructs Prince Volkov that it is best to nip in the bud such 
rash follies and save innocent people from such chicanery. 
The author or authors of it are to be seized, knouted and sent 
to Nerchinsk in Siberia; the preachers are to be beaten with 
rods and sent to work on the fortifications of Riga; the mere 
dupes to be sent home to their masters, if they are private serfs, 
to the crown estates, if royal serfs. 

At that date Kondrati had already mutilated or caused to be 
mutilated as many as thirteen peasants in Bogdanovka, and 


was conducting his propaganda in the provinces of Orlov and 
Tula. Presently he was arrested, tried with his chief associates 
at Sosnovsk in Tambov and exiled to Siberia, where he began 
to pass himself off as Peter III, who had been murdered by his 
own wife, Catharine II, on July 19, 1762. His assassination 
was shrouded in some mystery, as such deeds usually are ; the 
episode of the False Dimitri's proves how easy it is in Russia for 
a pretender to a royal name to get himself accepted by the 
crowd. Nor was Kondrati the only claimant to the honour of 
being the murdered man. In 1773 a Don Cossack, Pugachev, 
was able to raise a peasant revolt by assuming his style and 
title. Five years before a Serbian adventurer, Stephen the 
Little, had posed as Peter III and in that guise grasped for 
himself the principality of Montenegro. 

Such a pretension may naturally have been accepted in 
Siberia, but it is odd that they were accepted twenty years 
later in the best circles of Petersburg society, when the Empe- 
ror Paul (1796-1801) had brought him back to the capital. 
There he was at first interned in a home for lunatics, but later 
on the mild and enlightened despot Alexander I (1801-1825) 
released him, and at the request of rich Skoptsys and in particu- 
lar of his chamberlain, Elianski, allowed him to live in a hostel 
and acquire the rank of a free citizen. As such he took the 
name Selivanov. He was now more at liberty than before to 
conduct his propaganda of baptism by fire and spirit, and with 
his own hand mutilated as many as 100 adults. His adherents 
now collected his reminiscences and miracles in a work known 
as The Passion which circulates widely among them and has 
been translated by Grass in its entirety. It is worth study, 
being full of autobiographic touches. 

This lurid impostor now Uterally took Russia by storm. 
People, not by any means of the humblest rank, crowded from 
all over the country to visit and venerate him, and returned 
to their homes bearing relics of him in their bosoms; his nail 
parings, hairs, bath water, clothing, all was carried off and 
found to be endowed with magical powers : Every Skopets 
carried as an amulet a silver rouble of Peter III, burned tapers 
before the picture of the murdered Prince, prostrated himself 


and said his prayers. The same worship is still accorded all 
over Russia to his relics, and in the ecclesiastical archives are 
stored not a few of his portraits, seized at various dates by the 
police. Grass reproduces one of the most characteristic of 
them, made when he was already an old man. It is a convinc- 
ing likeness, forcible but gruesome. The small mouth, the 
determined lips, the piercing eyes, are those of a fanatic who 
must have exercised a mesmeric power on all who approached 
him. His eyes and expression remind one of those of George 
Whitefield in the portrait hung in Mansfield College at Oxford. 
Whitefield in his letters was wont to describe himself as ''this 
tottering tabernacle." His portrait barely gives us such an 
impression of him. 

The crowds that flocked to see Selivanov and the number 
of his victims at last excited the suspicions of the Russian 
Government, and in 1810 he was forced to sign an undertaking 
to drop his peculiar propaganda. He continued it however, 
and his lodging was known as the House of Davidov (House of 
the Son of David) , that of his prophetess Anna Saf onovna as the 
monastery of the Virgin Mother of God. Officials of the Army, 
civil service, even the clergy succumbed to his dupery. In 
1818 the Government again interfered and banished two of his 
intimates to the monastery of Solovets ; but this only confirmed 
his own and their presumption. Finally the authorities in the 
hope of circumscribing the movement sent him in 1820 to the 
Spaso-Efimovski cloister in Suzdal, which at once became a 
holy place and resort of Skoptsy pilgrims. Pains were now 
taken to repress them and the leader died in 1830. 

But the faithful discredit his death, and believe he will 
reappear alive in the neighbourhood of Irkutsk, to inaugurate 
the Millennium, as soon as the tale is complete of the 144,000 
of the elect of the Apocalypse (14, iv) which ''were not defiled 
with women, for they are virgins. These are they which follow 
the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. . .they are without blem- 
ish." Such texts the Skoptsy, as many other fanatics have 
done before and after them, interpret of their own nave or ship, 
as, following the Khlysty, they denominate their sect. He is 
believed, as many Skoptsy documents seized in the Inquisition 


of 1843 and on later occasions, reveal, to be still alive, to be 
indeed the living God. When at his second advent he reaches 
Moscow, he will sound the big bell of the Uspenski Cathedral. 
Regiment on regiment will then join him, to prevent the wolves 
from any more tearing of the sheep. Ships will arrive for his 
children freighted with gold and jewels. 

The apocalyptic number of the elect is, according to Grass 
and other competent observers, not far short of completion. 
For the sect is reputed to number at least 100,000 and is ex- 
traordinarily active. How many of these are ' perfect ' members 
and 'without blemish' is not known, but being great traders 
and usurers, they can be detected even by the eye of a foreigner 
in every bazaar in Russia, where, as Leroy-Beaulieu observes, 
everyone can see them, except as a rule the police whom they 
bribe to ignore their presence. Being knit together in mutual 
charity, being ascetics, thrifty and unencumbered with families, 
they have been able, like certain monastic orders, to accumulate 
great wealth; and the mere fact that they cannot waste money 
on mistresses recommends them in so corrupt a society as that 
of Russia. Financial magnates, who have important credit 
transactions to conduct, can trust them, just as a rich Turk 
trusts his harem with their Mahommedan analogues. Neverthe- 
less they are often driven out of Russia by the police into 
neighbouring countries, especially Roumania, where many of 
the droshki drivers of Bucharest can be recognized as members 
of their sect, and where the Government seldom molests them, 
because for a Latin race their tenets have no attraction. 

The Skoptsy rites are in general identical with those of the 
Khlysty; they meet and adore one another and sing their 
hymns, and dance until they fall into ecstasy and begin to 
prophesy. But the Radenie or ritual dance has not among 
them quite the same sacramental value as among the Khlysty. 
The rite of emasculation, baptism with fire and spirit, is their 
supreme sacrament. Their Christology is adoptionist like 
that of the Khlysty. Jesus was an ordinary man who was 
replenished with grace; and after his resurrection, his grace 
descended mto Peter III who is head and defender of the faith. 
But Jesus was the first of the White Doves, as they call them- 


selves, for he too emasculated himself. This rite is the sole 
mode of redemption and means of grace. There is ground for 
thinking (Grass, p. 655) that, like the Cathars, they do not 
believe in the Crucifixion as an historical event, and wholly 
reject the tenet that Jesus rose and ascended in the flesh into 
heaven and sat down on the right hand of God. On the con- 
trary, his body rotted in the tomb. In all this they agree with 
the Khlysty, from whom they inherited their earhest hymns and 
whose sacred poetry has supplied them with their models. 

Wherever they spread, they formed naves or Korahlya, pre- 
sided over by Christs and prophets, male and female. Their 
rigorous asceticism and simulation of orthodox piety often 
leads the Russian clergy into the error of regarding them as 
good Christians, and enables the officials and police whom they 
perpetually bribe, to pretend, when the truth transpires, that 
they thought they were orthodox. They never touch meat 
and, like the Cathar elect ones, the men never go near or touch 
women, if they can help it, even those of the sect. Meat they 
religiously eschew, urging, as the Cathars did, that it is the 
fruit of copulation. But they ignore the orthodox rules of 
fasting and eat eggs, milk and cheese in Lent. Nevertheless, 
as Leroy-Beaulieu remarks, their disgust for generation is no 
more due to pessimism than was the same scruple in Origen 
and in some early Christian circles that practised emascula- 
tion. That they are so singularly addicted to money-making 
does not savour of an oriental pessimism. 

There are other details of their origin or rather superstition 
which are necessary to complete my account of them, but which 
I would rather reproduce in the polished idiom of the accom- 
plished French writer I have just named, than translate into 
oiu' own coarser tongue. 

"Ce n'est point d'ordinaire sur les jeunes enfants que les 
Skoptsy pratiquent leur rite fondamental ; c'est le plus souvent 
sur les hommes faits, alors que le sacrifice est le plus dur et 
I'operation la plus dangereuse. Cette sanglante initiation a 
parfois plusieurs degres: la mutilation est complete ou incom- 
plete; suivant Tun ou Tautre cas, elle porte, chez les sectaires, 
le nom de sceau royal ou de seconde purete. Les femmes 


n'echappent pas toujours a I'horrible bapteme. Pour elles, 
la mutilation n'est pas obligatoire; beaucoup cependant, lors 
de leur admission parmi les ' colombes ' regoivent les stigmates de 
la secte et le sceau royal, qui est le signe de I'entree au nombre 
des purs. Chez elles, les Skoptsy paraissent s'en prendre 
plutot a la faculte de nourrir qu'a la faculte d'engendrer. Le 
sein nouvellement form^ de la jeune fille est ampute ou defigure, 
sa poitrine soumise a une sorte d'odieux tatouage. Parfois les 
deux mamelles sont entierement enlevees. Chez quelques 
femmes le fer des fanatiques va plus loin, il s'attaque a des 
organes plus intimes, sans que le plus souvent ces incisions^ 
executees par des mains ignorantes rendent les malheureuses 
qui les subisent incapables d'etre meres. Des proces ont mis 
en lumiere ces outrages a la nature humaine. On a discute 
devant la justice les precedes chirurgicaux employes pour ces 
detestables ceremonies. Les juges ont vu de vieilles femmes 
octogenaires et des jeunes filles de quinze, de dix-sept, de vingt 
ans toutes diversement deformees par le couteau ou les ciseaux 

He adds that similar mutilations of women were common in 
pagan Russia and occur to-day among some Finnish tribes. 
They are in vogue in Dahomey among the so-called 'Amazons.' 
In Skoptsy circles a boy grows up with the certainty of what is to 
happen to him, for needless to say many of the males have 
begotten children before they underwent the rite, and these 
unfortunates remain in their power. An adult who refuses to 
submit is dogged by the members of a sect diffused all over 
Russia and in the long run is assassinated unless he submits. 
The Sicarii of ancient Judaea would waylay a pagan who had 
expressed approbation of their monotheist tenets and circum- 
cize him against his will. So the Skoptsy are reputed to way- 
lay those whom they hear express approbation of their prin- 
ciples. It is not for nothing that the mass of peasants know 
them as the dark sect. Some Russians have even stated 
that a few years ago the Httle Tsarevich, heir of the deposed 
Tsar, was temporarily kidnapped by a Skoptsy nurse who had 
insinuated herself into the royal household and was ritually 
mutilated by her co-rehgionists. If we bear in mind their cult 


of Peter III, the story is not wholly incredible. They may have 
desired to rid their future ruler of the (f>p6vr}fia aapKd<; which in 
the persons of Adam and Eve ruined the human race, and as- 
pired to render him Christ and Tsar in one. As our French his- 
torian, cited above, remarks, the modern Russians are after all : 
un peuple credule et epris du merveilleux, un peuple esclave et 
revant de vague delivrance, accueillant avec la meme naivete 
les faux tsars et les faux Christs. 

As a final word in the history of Russian dissent it may be 
noted that until lately there existed, and perhaps still exists, 
a Russian sect, fairly numerous, that deified Napoleon I. 
In their meetings they bowed before his picture as before the 
ikon of a saint, burnt incense, sung hymns and said their 

Date Due