The Parish Clergy in Nineteenth-Century Russia

The Parish Clergy in Nineteenth-Century Russia: Crisis, Reform, Counter-Reform

Gregory L. Freeze
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 540
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  • Book Info
    The Parish Clergy in Nineteenth-Century Russia
    Book Description:

    This volume attempts to put the clergy in the context of the issues and debates of the nineteenth century, treating the social history of the clergy, the repeated attempts to reform it, and the impact of these reforms on the structure and outlook of rank-and file parish clergy.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5508-7
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
    (pp. xxiii-xxxii)

    In 1839 Ioann S. Belliustin, just graduating from the seminary in Tver, faced an agonizing decision; either to enter the St. Petersburg Academy for further study, or to accept the proposal of a rural priest to assume his position in the village of Vasilino. At a time when clerical positions were virtually unobtainable, with hundreds of youths idle in the diocese, the priest’s proposition was tempting indeed. The parish was a rather large one, including some 1,500 serfs and a wealthy landlord; the parish church possessed slightly more than the usual amount of land (nearly 100 acres) and yielded a...

  8. PART ONE: Church and Clergy in Prereform Russia
    • [PART ONE: Introduction]
      (pp. 3-10)

      Nicholas I looms as an archvillain in the accounts of contemporaries and prerevolutionary historians, who have castigated him as “the gendarme of Europe,” the autocrat who crushed the Decembrist uprising, the master obscurantist who persecuted all men of good will and liberal thought.¹ For contemporary Europeans, who watched his armies smash the Polish Rebellion in 1830–1831 and the Hungarian revolution in 1849, no attack seemed too vitriolic or unjust. Inside Russia educated society (obshchestvo) steadily grew apart from the regime, coming to share the disdain of Nicholas’s most inveterate critics.² Though official reports routinely depicted an empire of strength,...

    • CHAPTER 1 Dual Power, Dual Conflict
      (pp. 11-50)

      That plaintive cry to the emperor was followed shortly afterwards by another, but from a radically different perspective: “The relationship between priests and bishops is like that between Negroes and plantation owners. ”² These appeals to the emperor, contained in two memoranda (zapiski) in the mid-1850s, dramatically reveal the main lines of conflict inside the Orthodox Church—prelates against procurators, priests against bishops. The two conflicts, to be sure, long antedated the Nikolaevan era; from medieval times bishops had clashed with lay officials, and priests had been at odds with their ecclesiastical superiors. But the traditional antagonism acquired new forms...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 2 The Structure and Economics of Parish Service
      (pp. 51-101)

      As Bishop Amvrosii of Tver examined the service files of clergy from Kaliazin district in 1830, he must have been struck by the kaleidoscopic diversity among its sixty-six parishes.¹ At the very top of the file was the report from clergy at the cathedral in Kaliazin, the district capital; a relatively old parish (established in 1694), it had eleven clergymen (including an archpriest), served nearly 5,000 laymen, and yielded 4,400 rubles per year in emoluments. As he leafed through the reports, the bishop also found some relatively prosperous rural parishes, such as the village of Ushanovo, where a priest and...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Seminary: Training for the Priesthood in Russia
      (pp. 102-143)

      With this burst of epithets a radical journalist not only anathematized his nemesis, the censor, but also gave vent to a widespread prejudice of his day—hostility toward the seminarian.¹ Nobles had long looked with disfavor upon clerical offspring, resentful of theparvenuswho frequently penetrated the lower reaches of the civil service.² To that was added a cultural moment, the consequence of a special education that gave the seminarian a distinct mien and cast of thought. Cultural tension surfaced in the writings of enlightened noblemen like I. S. Turgenev, who inveighed against “vulgar seminarian principles” and berated those “with...

    • CHAPTER 4 Service and Soslovie
      (pp. 144-188)

      So far we have gradually worked our way backwards from the institution to the social group, moving from administration to parish service to Church schools and, now, to the clerical estate. That regression is not accidental: it follows the actual process of Nikolaevan reform, which sought ways to improve the clergy and ultimately came to question the very structure of the clerical estate. It was not a question lightly raised. Conservative bureaucrats, anxious bishops, and the parish clergy themselves all had a strong interest in perpetuating, even reinforcing the traditional soslovie system. Nevertheless, after fruitless attempts to reform administration, clerical...

  9. PART TWO: Great Reforms in Russian Orthodoxy
    • [PART TWO: Introduction]
      (pp. 191-193)

      With Nicholas’s death in February 1855, Russia entered a new era of far-reaching reform. For many contemporaries the humiliating defeat of the Crimean War was not a mere military debacle but a shocking failure of the whole Nikolaevan system, exposing its poor administration, fiscal vulnerability, primitive transport, technical backwardness, and archaic social system—clear proof, argued conservatives and liberals, of the need for fundamental reform.¹ The new sovereign, Alexander II, at first tried to dampen rising expectations by denying plans for reform, but early in 1856, after negotiating an end to the war, he spoke publicly of the need for...

    • CHAPTER 5 Emergence of the Clerical Question
      (pp. 194-247)

      By the late 1850s the “clerical question” that had been buried so long in Nicholas’s secret committees finally came to public attention, joining a long list of other issues in the reformist press. In contrast to the West, where the clerical question was a matter of pernicious clericalism and something to be contained, in Russia the question had an altogether different import: how to aid and uplift the clergy, not suppress it. In the exciting, dynamic period from the mid-1850s to the early 1860s the question steadily gained breadth and involved ever larger segments of officialdom and society. Most shared...

    • CHAPTER 6 An Invitation to Society
      (pp. 248-297)

      In late 1862 reform entered a new phase, moving from a small committee with small goals to a high commission seeking “an improvement in the material condition of parish clergy” throughout the empire. The Special Commission’s charge was broad, if not comprehensive, and its composition—Synod members and chief ministers of the realm—implied the authority to take major decisions on behalf of both domains, the state and the Church. As expected, publication of Valuev’s manifesto in December 1862 not only made the commission’s existence public but also stirred hopes (or fears) of direct involvement by the state, precisely the...

    • CHAPTER 7 Great Reforms in the Church and Clergy
      (pp. 298-348)

      In the late 1860s, after a decade of inconclusive talk and ineffectual decrees, when the momentum of the Great Reforms seemed spent, authorities in St. Petersburg suddenly promulgated fundamental reforms in the Church and clergy. The dominant spirit in these changes was the new procurator, D. A. Tolstoi, who displaced Valuev as the architect of reform and acted decisively to bring this protracted process to fruition. The result was a spate of far-reaching decrees and statutes that abolished the hereditary soslovie, transformed the seminary, reorganized parishes, professionalized clerical service, and augmented the priest’s role intheChurch and community. Still...

  10. PART THREE: From Reform to Revolution
    • [PART THREE: Introduction]
      (pp. 351-353)

      By the late 1870s state officials no less than oppositionist journalists were drawing alarming portraits of conditions in the Russian Empire. Famine on the Volga, strikes in St. Petersburg, disaffection in high society, terrorist acts by the revolutionary intelligentsia—all suggested fundamental problems in the new order created in the sixties. The very agenda of issues in the 1870s and 1880s—the peasant question, local administration, censorship, judiciary, education—revealed a growing belief that the Great Reforms urgently required major changes.How,notwhether, was the essential question debated by officials and journalists, liberals and conservatives. Few contested the need...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Great Reforms: Implementation and Impact
      (pp. 354-397)

      By 1870 authorities had finally enacted major reform legislation on the Church, aiming to reconstitute the clergy from a moribund hereditary estate into a more dynamic profession of zealous, dedicated pastors. Although the reform made no provision for the sudden replacement of the current generation of clergy, it promised in time to reshape the Church’s institutions in many fundamental ways. The new curriculum and structure of schools, the new service order, the merger of parishes, the abolition of hereditary ties—all laid the foundations for an entirely new kind of parish clergy and parish service. Yet these reforms—rationalizing measures...

    • CHAPTER 9 The Politics and Quandaries of Counter-Reform
      (pp. 398-448)

      A disheartened liberal wrote at the end of 1873, “what an amazing and lamentable comparison with the situation as it was when I entered the top echelons of government thirteen years ago: then everything surged forward; now everything is sliding backward.”¹ Although the state had not yet abjured the Great Reforms and even countenanced some new ones, criticism of the new order mounted steadily in liberal as well as conservative quarters. The result was a gradual disintegration of the reform process. Even the “most modest attempts” to adjust or complete the Great Reforms foundered on “hidden or overt opposition” that...

    • CHAPTER 10 Reform and Revolution
      (pp. 449-474)

      The failings of parish clergy, long a concern for both Church and state, became the object of continuing reform in the nineteenth century. Nicholas I addressed this problem from the very outset of his reign, at first focusing upon service and education, eventually shifting attention to the clergy’s estate structure. The Great Reforms redefined the clerical question still more broadly and ultimately sought to rebuild the whole Church order—its system of education, administration, parish service, and the estate itself. After a decade of debate, agitation, and abortive reforms, authorities finally promulgated a set of major legislation in the late...

    (pp. 475-476)
    (pp. 477-480)
    (pp. 481-496)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 497-507)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 508-508)