Peter the Great, Reformer or Revolutionary?

By Marc Raeff | Go to book overview

The Establishment of the Russian Church

N. ZERNOV

The traditional and unfavorable judgment of Peter's church reform is given
by Professor Nicholas Zernov, a specialist in the history of the Russian Church
and a well-known exponent of Russian Orthodoxy in England where he is pro-
fessor at Oxford University. The attentive reader will note that the condemna-
tion of Peter's church reforms is based entirely on a conception of the Russian
church that plays down its institutional aspects and public role.

THE momentous changes which took place in the political life of Russia during the reign of Peter the Great ( 1682- 1725) radically altered the relations between Church and State. It is even possible to speak of the Russian Church as being "established" by Peter, for he replaced the free collaboration between two independent bodies, the Church and the State, by a system of state control over all spiritual matters. This was a period which had far-reaching consequences in the history of Russian Christianity, for the present conflict between the Communist State and the Orthodox Church is rooted in those remote years when the new Empire sprang up on the shores of the Baltic Sea. . . . The ecclesiastical changes made by Peter the Great were only a part of his general scheme for the re-organisation of the country, and like all his reforms they were to a large extent the expression of his personality. Though undoubtedly the most outstanding ruler in the history of Russia, he was psychologically almost unbalanced, and all his actions were coloured by his peculiar gifts and no less peculiar limitations. His grandfather and father, the Tsars Michael ( 1613-1645) and Alexis Romanov ( 1645- 1676) were renowned for their piety, and during their reigns the Moscow court was so strictly regulated by religious observances that it bore closer resemblance to a monastery than to the palace of a secular ruler. Peter destroyed this carefully built up fabric at one blow, and appeared before his astounded country as a typical Western monarch, wearing a military uniform and behaving after the manner of a foreign prince.1 He ceased to be the Moscow Tsar, appointed by God Himself as the father of his people, and became the Emperor of Russia whose primary duty was to maintain the honour and glory of the new Empire. He transformed the country, which for almost six centuries had lived in complete isolation, into a European state and a strong military power.

. . . Every institution and every tradition which might be used by his adversaries as an instrument against his reforms had to be swept away and cast out of the new Europeanized Russian Empire. This attitude of the Emperor's was particularly noticeable in all his dealings with the Church. To Peter it was the stronghold of the old Tsardom of Moscow and the

N. Zernov, "Peter the Great and the Establishment of the Russian Church", The Church Quarterly Review, Vol. 125, No. CCL, London, January-March 1938, pp. 265-293. By permission of the author.

____________________
1
By their behaviour and dress the Moscow Tsars had borne a closer resemblance to ecclesiastical dignitaries than to secular rulers, and they divided their time between state duties and regular attendance at church services.

-50-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Peter the Great, Reformer or Revolutionary?
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 110

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.