Larisa Denisovna Demidova,

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Appeal to the Plots from the Historical past in the Writings of the “Founding Fathers” of the Old Believers and Their “Historical Erudition”


 DOI: 10.31518/2618-9100-2024-2-18

 Proof by referring to past events is an important component of the early Old Believer polemics. Researchers have repeatedly paid attention to this feature. However, most often scientists were interested in the “big” historical concepts of the Old Believers, their interpretation of historical events in the light of eschatological theories. Much less often, they considered historical subjects that were used by the Old Believers in connection with polemics on certain issues, for example, of a dogmatic or moral nature. It seems that appealing to the entire set of arguments with examples from the past is important not only for identifying the reading range, the system of book authorities, and the origins of the ideology of the early Old Believers, but also for understanding the nature and specificity of the knowledge about the past possessed by its “founding fathers” had. In the context of controversy surrounding church reform in the 50–70s of the 17th century Old Believer authors, sometimes forced to quickly resist innovations, first turned to sources already known to them, from which they could glean the necessary information about the past, and on this basis undertook a search for new data. Book sources for such examples, along with historical works themselves, were often works whose main function was not related to the transfer of purely historical knowledge. Information about the past was drawn from printed publications intended for religious education (“Kniga o vere”, “Kirillova kniga”), and from Old Russian works of doctrinal and polemical content (Maxim the Greek, Iosif Volotskii), hagiographic oeuvres, sourse of canon law – Kormchaya kniga. This list of works is well known to researchers of the Old Believers in connection with the analysis of ideological issues. However, their role in the formation of the “historical erudition” of the defenders of the old rite is not so obvious. It seems that they were the full-fledged sources of more or less mass (to the extent that this was possible by the standards of the 17th century) knowledge about the past, despite the fact that works of the historical genre had long and firmly taken their place in ancient Russian literature. This feature, it seems, should be taken into account when studying knowledge of the past shared of people of the 17th century.

Publishing: 28/04/2024

The article has been received by the editor on 15/01/2024

Original article >

How to cite: Demidova L.D. Appeal to the Plots from the Historical past in the Writings of the “Founding Fathers” of the Old Believers and Their “Historical Erudition” // Historical Courier, 2024, No. 2 (34), pp. 253–268. [Available online:]

The article was made on the topic of the state assignment “The Past in the Manuscript Sources of the 16th–20th Centuries: Preservation and Development of Traditions” (FWZM-2024-0006).

Links: Issue 2 2024

Keywords: church reform of Patriarch Nikon; Old Believers; historical past; historical memory