'Cast Thy Burden upon the Lord, and He Shall Sustain Thee': Consolatory Letter-practices at the Muscovy Tzar Court (second half of the seventeenth century)

Anastasia Aleksandrovna Preobrazhenskaya

Abstract


The second half of the seventeenth century in Muscowy witnessed dramatic changes in culture and society. With secular sphere slowly gaining its power, religious no longer played a solely dominant role in people's lives. The court culture was the first to embrace new tendencies and practices, with epistolary etiquette being one of them. In his consolatory letters a court poet Simeon Polotsky acted both as a clergyman and as a lay person. While drawing upon old Russian literary tradition ofconsolatory discourse, examples of which are found in metropolites' archives, at the same time Simeon introduces a completely new to the Moscow tzar court type of letter – a letter as a token of social interaction and structure. 


Keywords


letter; etiqutte; epistolary culture, letter-book; consolation

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References


Here by an epistle I mean an epistolary piece of writing (a letter) addressed to a wider public and thus not requiring an answer, while the term letter stands in the article for a piece of private correspondence.

Acts of the Sixth ecumenical council [Деяния 6-го Вселенского собора], 7 vols. (Kazan': Central Typography, 1908), VI, 787.

Andrej Robinson. Simeon Polotskij i jego knigoizdatelskaya deyatel'nost' [Симеон Полоцкий и его книгоиздательская деятельность]. (Moscow, 1982). p. 9.

See Liudmila Chernaya, 'A Polish pattern in Russian culture of the 17th century' [Образец «на польское дело» в русской культуре XVII века], Tekst slavianskoy kultury, (2011), 344-355. URL: www.inslav.ru/images/stories/pdf/2011_Tekst_slav'anskoj_kultury.pdf [accessed 10 October 2015].

See Irina Podtergera, 'Letter and epistles of Simeon Polotsky' [Письма и послания Симеона Полоцкого] (unpublished doctoral thesis, Saint-Petersburg State University, 2000).

Peter Rolland. '”Dulce est et fumos videre Patriae” — Four Letters by Simiaon Polacki', Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1/2 (June 1985), p. 166-181.

Old Malorussian letter-book 'Book named listovnia' [Старинный Малорусский письмовник: «Книга глаголемая листовня»]. (Chernigov, Tipographia gubernskfgo zemstva, 1901). pp. 38-39.

See Samples, as various compliments are written, [...]. [Приклады, како пишутся комплименты разные на немецком языке то есть, писания от потентатов к потентатам, поздравителные и сожалетелные, и иные: такожде между сродников и приятелеи]. (Moscow, Moskovskij pechatnyi dvor, 1708).

See Grigorjev. Full letter-book, or a Skill to go without a secretary and accountant [...]. [Полный письмовник, или Уменье обходиться без конторщика, бухгалтера и письмоводителя: Новый указ., как писать письма, вести контор. кн., писать векселя]. (Moscow, Manukhin, 1869).

See Miroliubov. Home secretary letter-book [...]. [Домашний секретарь-письмовник, или Вот как нужно писать письма, записки и деловые бумаги на все случаи общественной и частной жизни: С присовокуплением писем и записок: Пушкина, Лермонтова, Гоголя, Тургенева, Никитина, Кольцова и др.]. (Moscow, Ioganson, 1879-1880).

Anatoliy Dyomin, 'On literary significance of Old Russian letter-books', Russkaya literatura, 4 (1964), p. 165.

Anatoliy Dyomin, p. 166.

I assume that the three consolatory letters from Simeon's Letter-book were composed by Simeon and then rewritten by his disciple Silvestr Medvedev. The hand of the both is well-known to researchers, and the style of Silvestr's letters differs from this of his teacher. Simeon is not known to work in chancellery of any kind, so there is no sufficient ground to suggest that Simeon could come into possession of letters that were written by other persons and generally had nothing to do with him.

Духовные послания - переписка религиозно-нравственного содержания церковных служителей с лицами, принадлежащими светскому миру или церкви. Данный вид частного письма отличается от прочих специальным моделированием образа автора и получателя (характер фактических взаимоотношений нивелируется демонстрацией близости духовных отцов и духовных «чад») и ритуальностью выражаемой эпистолярной ситуации. Olga Zueva, 'Russian works of epistolary genre of XI – XVII centuries as a subject for linguistic research', Vesnik Belaruskaga dziarzhawnaga universiteta. Ser. 4, Philalogiya. Zhurnalistyka. Pedagogika, 3 (2007), 38.

Olga Zueva, p. 38.

Dumnyi djak was a rank and a position in Boyar Duma, the higher state council composed of feudal aristocracy.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 130 [Синодальное собрание №130]. ff. 136 r — 138 v.

Here an eparch is used to name a member of Orthodox clergy higher than priest (bishop, archbishop, metropolite), as an equivalent to Russian владыка.

In nineteenth century such consolatory chapters could also include letters related to various life situations, not only to death, but also to the loss of fortune of loss of a job.

Letters with preserved names and ranks or real addressers prove that Simeon did not finish his Letter-book. It was presumably something like a final draft: not all the necessary changes were made, not all chapters titled, no list of contents provided (it was inserted later by Silvestr Medvedev), no introduction to open the Letter-book. Introductions were very important for Simeon, because he used them in educational purposes: to explain his work, its purpose and desired impact.

The vocative благородие roughly equals to Noble Lord.

The practice of sending icons with consolatory letters or blessing letter before war campaigns was kept in the eighteenth century.

Misspelling: should be Пресвятою (Saint).

Robert Crummey. Aristocrats and Servitors: The Boyar Elite in Russia, 1613-1689. (N.J., 1983). p. 40.

Podjachyi – the lowest administrative rank in Russia in sixteenth-seventeenth centuries; fulfilled functions of a secretary.

Konstantin Kharlampovicz. Malorossiyskoie vliyanie na velikorossiyskuyu zhizn'. 2 vols. (Kazan', 1914), I, p. 321.

The number in brackets stands for the Psalm number in the Bible written on Old Church-Slavonic. This difference is explained by sources that were used in Bible translation into English and Church-Slavonic: the first was translated from Greek version, and the latter – from Hebrew. Thus the mark Psalm 42 (41) should be read as Psalm #42 in English version and #41 in Church-Slavonic.

Full collection of letters of RP Amvrosij of Optina in 3 vols. [Полное собрание писем преподобного Амвросия Оптинского в трех томах]. URL: http://www.optina.ru/starets/amvrosiy_letters_content_chart3/. [Accessed 25 September 2015].

Full collection of letters of RP Amvrosij of Optina in 3 vols. [Полное собрание писем преподобного Амвросия Оптинского в трех томах]. URL: http://www.optina.ru/starets/amvrosiy_letters_content_chart3/. [Accessed 25 September 2015]. Letter #83.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 130. f. 137 r.

...безграничность Вашей скорби. Она слишком законна. Grigorjev, p. 2.

Вы вправе предаваться горести, лишившись супруга. Mirolyubov, p. 92.

Full collection of letters of RP Amvrosij of Optina in 3 vols. [Полное собрание писем преподобного Амвросия Оптинского в трех томах]. URL: http://www.optina.ru/starets/amvrosiy_letters_content_chart3/. [Accessed 25 September 2015]. Letter #83.

Mirolyubov, p. 90-91.

Grigorjev, p. 5.

Grigorjev, p. 5.

Full collection of letters of RP Amvrosij of Optina in 3 vols. [Полное собрание писем преподобного Амвросия Оптинского в трех томах]. URL: http://www.optina.ru/starets/amvrosiy_letters_content_chart3/. [Accessed 25 September 2015]. Letter #83.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 130. f. 137 r.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 562.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 562.

Russian feudal archive of XIV – first third of XVI centuries [Русский феодальный архив XIV – первой трети XVI века]. (Moscow, 2008). p. 32.

Russian feudal archive of XIV – first third of XVI centuries, p. 69.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 130. Ff. 77 v – 79 v.

Konstantin Kharlampovicz. Malorossiyskoie vliyanie na velikorossiyskuyu zhizn'. 2 vols. (Kazan', 1914), I, p. 388.

Ierophej Tatarskiy. Simeon Polotskiy [Симеон Полоцкий]. (Moscow, Volchaninov, 1886). p. 109.

Moscow. State Historical museum. Sinodal collection 130. f. 107 r.


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