Full text:


Author: Alexey I. Popovich
Information about the author:

Alexey I. Popovich, Laboratory Researcher of the Laboratory for the Study of Primary Sources, Graduate Student of the Department of Philology, Ural Federal University, Mira St., 19, 620002 Yekaterinburg, Russia.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For citation:

Popovich, A.I. “Allusions to the Victim and Sacrifice in the Andrey Kurbsky’s ‘History’ and Reception of the 17th — Early 18th Centuries.” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 20. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2021, pp. 186–207. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/ HORL.1607-6192-2021-20-186-207

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2021-20-186-207
Keywords: victim, sacrifice, History of the Grand Prince of Moscow, Collections of Kurbsky, Ivan the Terrible, Andrey Kurbsky, topoi, allusion.
Date of publication: 08.07.2021

Acknowledgements: The work was completed with the support of the Russian Science Foundation, project no. 19-18-00186 «‘Culture of the Spirit’ vs ‘Culture of the Mind’: Intellectuals and Power in Britain and Russia in the Era of Change (17th — 18th Centuries)”


The literary topoi and allusions to the victim and sacrifice in the biblical and historical context at the same time played a great role for Andrey Kurbsky as a traditionalist and innovator writer in the embodiment of the complex author’s intention of the History of the Grand Prince of Moscow (the second half of the 16th century). The article notes that the writer distinguishes, as opposites, the axiology of sacrificial feat for power doer and persecuted heroes. The article reveals the diverse reception of the author’s interpretation by readers and scribes of History. Kurbsky’s contemporaries and readers of the late 17th — early 18th century had different attitudes toward Kurbsky’s definition of the personality of Ivan the Terrible who makes unrighteous victims and the characterization of people affected by him as new martyrs. The rich handwritten tradition of History, including as part of the Kurbsky Collections, contributed to the emergence of new reader’s interpretations based on literary topoi and allusions used by Kurbsky. The intellectuals of the ‘transitional’ period A.S. Matveev, Evfimy Chudovsky, A.I. Lyzlov, V.V. Golitsyn and others were involved in this process. Textological and typological comparisons of certain monuments and Kurbsky’s History contributed to a deeper understanding of the literary context of the time when the prince’s writings spread. The study also helped to determine which Kurbsky’s ideas about the victim and sacrifice remained relevant for members of different class groups, and which were leveled out and outdated in the text interpretation process.


  1. Andreev, V.V. Ocherk deiatel’nosti kniazia A.M. Kurbskogo na zashchitu pravoslaviia v Litve i na Volyni [Essay on the Activities of Knyaz A.M. Kurbsky to Defend Orthodoxy in Lithuania and Volyn]. [Moscow], Red. “Pravoslavnogo obozreniia”, tsenz. Publ., 1873. 36 p. (In Russian)
  2. Baidin, V.I. “Sviashchennik I.L. Poborskii — pisatel’ pervoi treti XVIII stoletiia: k voprosu ob avtorstve ‘Istorii o nevinnom zatochenii blizhnego boiarina Artemona Sergeevicha Matveeva…’.” [“Priest I.L. Poborsky — Writer of the First Third of the 18th Century: On the Issue of Authorship of ‘The Story of the Innocent Imprisonment of the Closest Boyar Artemon Sergeyevich Matveyev…’.”] Vestnik Ekaterinburgskoi dukhovnoi seminarii, no. 3 (27), 2019, pp. 195–237. DOI: 10.24411/2224-5391-2019-10309 (In Russian)
  3. Bogdanov, A.P. Moskovskaia publitsistika poslednei chetverti XVII veka [Moscow Publicism of the Last Quarter of the 17th Century]. Moscow, Institut rossiiskoi istorii RAN Publ., 2001. 492 p. (In Russian)
  4. Bulanin, D.M., and Semenova, E.P. “Khvorostinin Ivan Andreevich” [“Khvorostinin Ivan Andreevich”]. Slovar’ knizhnikov i knizhnosti Drevnei Rusi [Dictionary of Scribes and Bookishness of Old Rus]. Issue 3 (17 c.), part 3. St. Petersburg, Dmitrii Bulanin Publ., 1998, pp. 190–198. (In Russian)
  5. Vasil’ev, V.K. Siuzhetnaia tipologiia russkoi literatury XI–XX vekov: (Arkhetipy russkoi kul’tury). Ot Srednevekov’ia k Novomu vremeni [Subject Typology of Russian Literature of the 11th–20th Centuries: (Archetypes of Russian Culture). From the Middle Ages to Modern Times]. Krasnoyarsk, Informatsionno-poligraficheskii kompleks Sibirskogo federal’nogo universiteta Publ., 2009. 260 p. (In Russian)
  6. “Vnov’ otkrytye polemicheskie sochineniia XVII v. protiv eretikov” [“Newly Discovered Polemical Works of the 17th Century against Heretics”], ed. by V.I. Savva, S.F. Platonov, V.G. Druzhinin. Letopis’ zaniatii Arkheograficheskoi komissii za 1905 g. [Chronicle of the Classes of the Archaeographic Commission for 1905]. Issue 18. St. Petersburg, Tipografiia M.A. Aleksandrova Publ., 1907, pp. 1–177. (In Russian)
  7. Erusalimskii, K.Iu. Sbornik Kurbskogo. Issledovanie knizhnoi kul’tury: v 2 t. [Collection of Kurbsky. Study of Book Culture: in 2 Vols.], vol. 1. Moscow, Znak Publ., 2009. 882 p. (In Russian)
  8. Erusalimskii, K.Iu. “Pravoslavnaia akademiia na Volyni XVI v.: nerealizovannyi proekt kniazia Andreia Kurbskogo” [“Orthodox Academy in Volhynia of the 16th Century: An Unrealized Project of Prince Andrey Kurbsky”]. Ostroz’ka davnina: naukovii zbіrnik [Ostroh Antiquity. Scientific Collection], issue 3. Ostrig, Vidavnitstvo Natsіonal’nogo unіversitetu “Ostroz’ka akademіia” Publ., 2014, pp. 113–147. (In Russian)
  9. Zhivov, V.M. Iz tserkovnoi istorii vremen Petra Velikogo. Issledovaniia i materialy [From the Church History of the Times of Peter the Great. Research and Materials]. Moscow, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie Publ., 2004. 360 p. (In Russian)
  10. Istoriia o nevinnom zatochenii blizhnego boiarina Artemona Sergeevicha Matveeva [The Story of the Innocent Imprisonment of the Close Boyar Artemon Sergeevich Matveev], publ. by N. Novikovym. St. Petersburg, Tipografiia Akademii nauk Publ., 1776. [22], 1–224, 245–260, 241–400 p. (In Russian)
  11. Kalugin, V.V. Andrei Kurbskii i Ivan Groznyi. Teoreticheskie vzgliady i literaturnaia tekhnika drevnerusskogo pisatelia [Andrey Kurbsky and Ivan the Terrible. Theoretical Views and Literary Technique of the Old Russian Writer]. Moscow, Iazyki russkoi kul’tury Publ., 1998. 416 p. (In Russian)
  12. Karavashkin, A.V. Russkaia srednevekovaia publitsistika: Ivan Peresvetov, Ivan Groznyi, Andrei Kurbskii [Russian Medieval Journalism: Ivan Peresvetov, Ivan the Terrible, Andrey Kurbsky]. Moscow, Prometei Publ., 2000. 418 p. (In Russian)
  13. Kudriavtsev, I.M. “‘Izdatel’skaia’ deiatel’nost’ Posol’skogo prikaza (K istorii russkoi rukopisnoi knigi vo vtoroi polovine XVII veka) [“‘Publishing’ Activity of the Ambassadorial Prikaz (To the History of Russian Manuscript Books in the Second Half of the 17th Century)”]. Kniga. Issledovaniia i materialy [Book. Research and Materials]. Collection 8. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Vsesoiuznoi knizhnoi palaty Publ., 1963, pp. 179–244. (In Russian)
  14. Kurbskii, A.M. Istoriia o delakh velikogo kniazia moskovskogo [History of the Grand Prince of Moscow], ed. prep. by. K.Iu. Erusalimskii. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 2015. 942 p. (In Russian)
  15. Likhachev, D.S. “Stil’ proizvedenii Groznogo i stil’ proizvedenii Kurbskogo (tsar’ i ‘gosudarev izmennik’)” [“The Style of the Works of Grozny and the Style of the Works of Kurbsky (the Tsar and the ‘Traitor to the Sovereign’)”]. Perepiska Ivana Groznogo s Andreem Kurbskim [Correspondence of Ivan the Terrible with Andrey Kurbsky], text prep. by Ia.S. Lur’e and Iu.D. Rykov. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1981, pp. 183–213. (In Russian)
  16. “Neizvestnyi pamiatnik drevnerusskoi literatury. ‘Gramota gosudaria tsaria i velikogo kniazia Ivana Vasil’evicha vsea Rusii k Stepanu, koroliu pol’skomu’.” [“Unknown Monument of Old Russian Literature: ‘Letter of the Sovereign Tsar and Grand Duke Ivan Vasilyevich of all Russia to Stepan, King of Poland’,”] prep. by D.C. Waugh. Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1971 g. [Archeographic Yearbook for 1971]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1972, pp. 357–361. (In Russian)
  17. Oparina, T.A. Ivan Nasedka i polemicheskoe bogoslovie kievskoi mitropolii [Ivan Nasedka and the Polemical Theology of the Kiev Metropolis]. Novosibirsk, Nauka Publ., 1998. 429 p. (In Russian)
  18. Pavel Aleppskii. Puteshestvie Antiokhiiskogo Patriarkha Makariia v Rossiiu v polovine XVII veka, opisannoe ego synom, arkhidiakonom Pavlom Aleppskim [The Journey of Patriarch Macarius of Antioch to Russia in the Middle of the 17th Century, Described by His Son, Archdeacon Pavel Aleppsky], trans. from Arabic by G. Murkosa. Issue 4. Moscow, Universitetskaia tipogrfiia Publ., 1898. X, 195 p. (In Russian)
  19. Popovich, A.I. “‘Izobrazhaia zhertvu’: pafos oblicheniia i muchenichestva v sochineniiakh Ivana Groznogo i Andreia Kurbskogo” [“‘Playing the Victim’: Pathos of Denunciation and Martyrdom in the Ivan the Terrible’s and Andrey Kurbsky’s Works”]. Problemy istoricheskoi poetiki [Problems of Historical Poetics], vol. 18, no. 4, 2020, pp. 67–98. DOI: 10.15393/j9.art.2020.8743 (In Russian)
  20. “Pervoe poslanie Ivana Groznogo Kurbskomu” [“Ivan the Terrible’s First Message to Kurbsky”]. Perepiska Ivana Groznogo s Andreem Kurbskim [Correspondence between Ivan the Terrible and Andrey Kurbsky], text prep. by Ia.S. Lur’e and Iu.D. Rykov. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1981, pp. 12–52. (In Russian)
  21. “Pervoe poslanie Kurbskogo Ivanu Groznomu v sbornike kontsa XVI — nachala XVII veka” [“Kurbsky’s First Message to Ivan the Terrible in the Collection of the Late 16th — Early 17th Century”], prep. by B.N. Morozov. Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1986 god [Archeographic Yearbook for 1986]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1987, pp. 277–289. (In Russian)
  22. Rykov, Iu.D. “Redaktsii ‘Istorii’ kniazia Kurbskogo” [“Redaction of the ‘History’ of Prince Kurbsky”]. Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1970 god [Archeographic Yearbook for 1970]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1971, pp. 129–137. (In Russian)
  23. “Tret’e poslanie Kurbskogo Ivanu Groznomu” [“Kurbsky’s Third Message to Ivan the Terrible”]. Perepiska Ivana Groznogo s Andreem Kurbskim [Correspondence between Ivan the Terrible and Andrey Kurbsky], text prep. by Ia.S. Lur’e and Iu.D. Rykov. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1981, pp. 106–118. (In Russian)
  24. Uvarov, K.A. Kniaz’ A. M. Kurbskii — pisatel’ (“Istoriia o velikom kniaze Moskovskom”) [Prince A. M. Kurbsky — Writer (“History of the Grand Prince of Moscow”): PhD thesis, summary]. Moscow, 1973. 25 p. (In Russian)
  25. Filiushkin, A.I. Andrei Mikhailovich Kurbskii: prosopograficheskoe issledovanie i germenevticheskii kommentarii k poslaniiam Andreia Kurbskogo Ivanu Groznomu [Andrey Mikhailovich Kurbsky: Prosopographic Research and Hermeneutic Commentary on Andrey Kurbsky’s Messages to Ivan the Terrible]. St. Petersburg, Izdatel’stvo SPbGU Publ., 2007. 624 p. (In Russian)
  26. Fokina, O.N. Evoliutsiia drevnerusskogo chet’ego sbornika kak narodnoi knigi v istoriko-literaturnom kontekste XVII–XVIII vv. [Evolution of Old Russian Chet Collection as a Folk Book in the Historical and Literary Context of the 17th–18th Centuries: DSc thesis, summary]. Yekaterinburg, 2009. 46 p. (In Russian)
  27. Shmidt, S.O. “K izucheniiu ‘Istorii’ kniazia Kurbskogo (O pouchenii popa Sil’vestra)” [“To the Study of the ‘History’ of Prince Kurbsky (On the Teachings of the Priest Sylvester)”]. Shmidt, S.O. Rossiia Ivana Groznogo [Russia of Ivan the Terrible]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1999, pp. 339–347. (In Russian)
  28. Chistiakova, E.V. “‘Skifskaia istoriia’ A.I. Lyzlova i trudy pol’skikh istorikov XVI– XVII vv.” [“A.I. Lyzlov’s ‘Scythian History’ and the Works of Polish Historians of the 16th–17th Centuries”]. Trudy Otdela drevnerusskoi literatury [Proceedings of the Department of Old Russian Literature], vol. 19. Moscow, Leningrad, Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR Publ., 1963, pp. 348–357. (In Russian)
  29. Bogatyrev, S. The Sovereign and His Counsellor. Ritualised Consultations in Muscovite Political Culture, 1350s–1570s. Helsinki, Finnish Academy Sciences and Letters Publ., 2000. 298 p. (In English)