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History / Monographs / From ruler to monk: history of the custom / Conclusions

From ruler to monk: history of the custom


Nicholas Zharkikh

1. The purpose of the study was the custom of dying ruler vows as a monk.

2. Cases of such vows often recorded in the annals. Records that come from reputable for this time chronicles are authentic. In later chronicles such recordings could be copied in full, reduced (often by omitting notes on vows) or skipped completely. There are few cases of extension records, except for the first part of the Nikon Chronicle (up to 1428 year).

3. The ancient chronicles do not know fictional cases dying vows. In the annals of 15th 16th centuries such cases are rare, largely derived from the later chronicles and easily separated from valid entries.

4. Custom dying ruler vows as a monk existed in Russia since the late 12th to the early 17th century. Most cases of this custom is recorded from the 2nd half 14th the 1st half 15th century. In the 2nd half 15th century the number of cases began to decline, and in the 16th century custom descends almost to zero (the last case was recorded in 1605).

5. Geographical spread of the custom at an early stage (before 1240) covers the land north-east Russia, Smolensk and Volyn principality (in Kiev, Chernigov, Pereyaslavl principalities it is not fixed). Starting from the 2nd half 13th century all collected in the sources of cases concern the north-eastern Russia (95 % of all cases). The largest number of cases recorded in the Moscow principality and Novgorod partly can be explained by better lighting the history of these areas in the chronicles.

6. Cases dying vows recorded mainly for rulers (princes and posadniks in Novgorod and Pskov). For service princes cases vows recorded significantly less than for the ruling princes. This gives reason to believe that the custom of dying tonsure was the prerogative of the ruler, was used primarily to persons of high social status. However, the sources fixed several cases of mass vows as a monk (at the time of death threats from enemies or epidemic).

7. Overlay of cases dying vows on family tree princes gave convincing results only for the descendants of Alexander Nevsky (mainly from the Moscow branch). The use of this rite consistently in four generations suggests that distributing this custom ancestral traditions of considerable importance.

8. To denote the ruler's death in 98 % of cases applied the verb "prestavisja (passed away)." Other expressions should be considered rare. For dying vows formula shows more diversity among them is most frequently used formula "reposed in monk and in schema" (36%). Formula dying vows in the first part of the Nikon Chronicle differ significantly from the formulas used in all other chronicles.

9. The monastic name was chosen from among the names of saints, which begin with the same letter as the worldly name of the person. Any mass application of other principles are not traced.

10. Dying tonsure ceremony in the most details described for the prince of Tver Mikhail Alexandrovich (1399) and the Prince of Moscow Vasily Ivanovich (1533). But also these most detailed descriptions do not give almost anything for understanding the internal content of the ceremony.

11. Fast within one generation spread of the custom in most parts of ancient Russia says more about the origin of the custom of the external source than the emergence of it in Rus'. Perhaps there was some significance example of Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenus, who before his death became a monk (1180).

12. Fulfillment or no of dying vows not depend on external conditions: there were expressive cases when the external conditions contributed to the tonsure, and it did not take place; there are also expressive cases when the external conditions were not conducive to the tonsure, but it happened. Rite vows fulfilled the highest spiritual person from among those present (metropolitan or bishop), which further gave the ritual nature of social privileges. It should be noted that the Archbishop of Novgorod had never performed this rite.

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