Academic journal article Kritika

V. N. Temushev, the Gomel' Land in the Late 15th and First Half of the 16th Centuries: Territorial Transformation in a Border Region/Gomel'skaia Zemlia V Kontse XV-Pervoi Polovine XVI V. Territorial 'Nye Transformatsii V Pogranichnom Regione

Academic journal article Kritika

V. N. Temushev, the Gomel' Land in the Late 15th and First Half of the 16th Centuries: Territorial Transformation in a Border Region/Gomel'skaia Zemlia V Kontse XV-Pervoi Polovine XVI V. Territorial 'Nye Transformatsii V Pogranichnom Regione

Article excerpt

V. N. Temushev, Gomel'skaia zemlia v kontse XV-pervoi polovine XVI v. Territorial "nye transformatsii v pogranichnom regione (The Gomel" Land in the Late 15th and First Half of the 16th Centuries: Territorial Transformation in a Border Region). 192 pp., maps, tables. Moscow: Kvadriga, 2009. ISBN-13 978-5904162108.

M. M. Krom, "Vdovstvuiushchee tsarstvo": Politicheskii krizis v Rossii 30-40-kh godov XVI veka ("The Widowed Kingdom": The Political Crisis in Russia during the 1530s and 1540s). 888 pp., tables. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2010. ISBN-13 978-5867937829.

History is about change and its consequences. The two fine monographs under review deal with different types of change in East Slavic history during the first half of the 16th century. The first asks whether the consequence of political changes in sovereignty over a border region was alteration in its geographic boundaries. The second asks whether frequent changes in the political elite of a state had as a consequence the decline of the state's administration. Each author proposes a negative answer to the question he has posed.

The late Viktor Nikolaevich Temushev (4 March 1975-23 June 2011), senior fellow (starshii nauchnyi sotrudnik) of the Section on the Medieval and Early Modern History of Belarus' (Otdel istorii Belarusi srednykh vekov i nachalo novogo vremeni) of the Institute of History of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences and instructor (prepodovatel') at Belarusian State University, had before his untimely demise written a narrowly focused study in historical geography. He succeeds admirably in tracing the territorial changes in the Gomel' district in modern Belarus as it changed masters from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to MuscoW and back to Lithuania during the first half of the 16th century. (1) He concludes that by and large the Gomel' district as it was returned to Lithuania in 1537 matched the boundaries of 1500 when it was acquired by Muscovy.

Temushev's compact monograph contains an introduction, six chapters, a conclusion, and extensive appendices: an excerpt from N. B. Shelamanov's unpublished 1970 dissertation on Gomel' (155-62); (2) an annotated alphabetical index of settlements in the Gomel' district that lists both name and administrative affiliation in the sources, cuttently and at date of first mention; a helpful List of Abbreviations (178); three tables and ten invaluable maps (179). All this is supplemented by two 8" x 91/4" fold-out glossy color maps of "The Lithuanian--Muscovite Border" and "The Gomel' Land."

The introduction (5-25) identifies the Gomel' district as the only region of modern Belarus that was under Muscovite sovereignty during the 16th century, even if Moscow exercised that sovereignty only for a "relatively short" period (6). Gomel" was acquired by Muscovy in 1500 during the 1500-3 Lithuanian--Muscovite War and lost in 1535 during the Starodub War (1534-37). (3) For convenience, Timushev refers to "Gomel'," although at this time the city was called Gomei. Chapter 1 (26-53) provides background on the unstable Lithuanian-Muscovite border, noting that the southern sections of Gomel' were occupied by nomads. Chapter 2 traces the changing boundaries of the Gomel" district (povet) before 1500, as Riurikid and Gediminovich princes switched allegiance between Vilnius and Moscow. (4) Chapter 3 lists territorial changes in Gomel" under Muscovite sovereignty, including an effort to expand to the natural boundary of the Dnieper River to the west. From 1500 to 1518, Gomel' was part of the appanage of Prince Vasilii Semenovich Starodubskii. Chapter 4 (98-130) describes the district settlement by settlement on the eve of the 1534 war, noting the constant border warfare endemic to the region throughout the first half of the 16th century. Chapter 5 (131-39) paraphrases the 1537 Lithuanian-Muscovite diplomatic negotiations, concluding that Gomel' was the key territorial issue, resolved by freezing the status quo. …

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