En route to a new ideology of power. The elements of Moscow’s conception of power and western influences in the ‘copy books of friar Avraamy’ (1696) Cover Image

Útban egy új hatalmi ideológia felé. A moszkvai hatalomfelfogás elemei és nyugati hatások „Avraamij szerzetes füzeteiben” (1696)78
En route to a new ideology of power. The elements of Moscow’s conception of power and western influences in the ‘copy books of friar Avraamy’ (1696)

Author(s): Endre Sashalmi
Subject(s): History
Published by: AETAS Könyv- és Lapkiadó Egyesület

Summary/Abstract: When, in the autumn of 1696, Peter the Great was paying a visit to the monastery of Andreyevsky near Moscow, one of the friars, Avraamy handed a brief manuscript over to him. Beholding the appearance of the script, Peter handed it back to Avraamy, asking him to prepare a more legible copy for him. Indeed, the friar had someone to get the work to Peter, with a cover letter in which he claimed that it was in the tzar’s interest to visit him. However, Avraamy made a serious miscalculation, since by order of the tzar, his interrogation soon began: the charge was political crime, in contemporary Russian terms, the committing of slovo y delo gosudarevo (‘word and deed with regard to the ruler’). The manuscript, known in the literature as ‘the copy books of Avraamy’, although with an intention of betterment, criticized the tzar’s manners and his governing activity until then. This, however, bore all the marks of political crime. Historians usually regard Avraamy’s copybooks as a source that scrutinizes phenomena deemed harmful in the early period of Peter’s reign. This assessment, however, in my view, is only partly correct: in Avraamy’s writing the old principles are combined with such elements that would soon become the indispensable ingredients of a new, western-like ideology. For me, Avraamy’s work is rather more to be seen as an indicator to what a great extent certain concepts of the western political thinking had gained ground in Russian religious circles by the end of the seventeenth century. We have to think of such concepts as jus naturale or the public good. In spite of these we must not exaggerate the western influences in Avraamy’s work. In order to assess the significance of the writing, it is in place to point out that the work is not a theoretical treatise about the nature of the ruler’s power, but is a reflection of a transitory period of the Russian ideology of power. At the same time, it is also to be made clear that Avraamy’s conception of power significantly differed from the official ideology the major document of which came to light in 1722, toward the end of Peter’s reign. The latter, in the name of the public good, defended the tzar’s unlimited, we can say, totalitarian power. In Avraamy’s piece, however, there was a strong presence of such traditional elements of Moscow’s ideology whose function was to lessen the tzar’s power – these, nonetheless, of course, did not fit in with Peter’s conception of sovereign power.

  • Issue Year: 2003
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 77-92
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Hungarian