Historical Writing of Early Rus (c. 1000–c. 1400) in a Comparative Perspective


This book deals with the Rus annals (letopisi) and with a variety of related texts concerning the historical past. A new typology of those texts is introduced, together with a comprehensive discussion of how the writing of history came into being in Rus between c.1000 and c.1050. The author focuses on the work of the annalists of Novgorod from c. 1045 to c. 1400, and discusses the functions of annalistic writing in the Rus society. Both the character and the role of the writing of history in Rus is highlighted by means of comparison with other political and cultural areas of medieval Europe, particularly with Anglo-Saxon England.

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Timofey V. Guimon, Dr.Sc(Hist.) (2014), is a researcher at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. His publications, including the Russian-language monograph Istoriopisanie rannesrednevekovoi Anglii i Drevnei Rusi. Sravnitel’noe issledovanie (Moscow: Universitet Dmitriia Pozharskogo, 2012), are dedicated to Rus and Anglo-Saxon historical writing as well as to early literacy and written culture; more broadly, he is also interested in the practice and function of writing in pre-modern societies.
List of Figures, Tables and Diagrams

1 The Surviving Texts and the Typology of Genres
 1.1 Writing in Early Rus: A Concise Overview
 1.2 Letopisi (the annals)
 1.3 The History of the World: Translations of foreign Chronicles and Chronographs
 1.4 Attempts at Writing Non-Annalistic History of Rus
 1.5 Minor Forms of Historical Writing
 1.6 A Comparative Perspective: Historical Writing in Anglo-Saxon England and Old Rus

2 The Beginnings of Historical Writing in Kiev
 2.1 The Manuscript Witnesses and Redactions of Povest’ vremennykh let
 2.2 Texts-Predecessors of Povest’ vremennykh let: An Introduction into Discussion
 2.3 The Problem of the Oldest Tale (the Non-Annalistic ‘Nucleus’)
 2.4 The Traces of Early Annals and the ‘Two Beginnings’ of letopisi Writing
 2.5 Historical Notes in Iakov the Monk’s Memorial and Encomium: A ‘Royal Inscription’ of Vladimir?
 2.6 The Emergence of Rus Historical Writing in a Comparative Perspective
 2.7 Reporting the Pagan Past and the Conversion: Povest’ vremennykh let and Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica

3 Historical Writing in Novgorod
 3.1 The Text-Relationships of Extant Novgorodian letopisi
 3.2 Lists of Officials
 3.3 The Beginnings of Historical Writing in Novgorod: the 11th Century
 3.4 The Archiepiscopal Annals of Novgorod and Their Authors
 3.5 How did the Archiepiscopal Annalists Work?
 3.6 The Circle of Events Reported by the Archiepiscopal Annals
 3.7 The Archiepiscopal Annals and the ‘Living Chronicles’ of Western Europe
 3.8 The Synodal Manuscript: A Copy of the Archiepiscopal Annals Kept and Continued in St. George’s Monastery
 3.9 Excerpts from the Archiepiscopal Annals made for the Annunciation Monastery
 3.10 Historical Writing in Novgorod: A General Overview
 3.11 Oral Historical Tradition in Novgorod

4 The Functions of the Annals in Early Rus
 4.1 Existing Theories and Their Discussion
 4.2 Who Were Patrons, Supervisors, and Authors of the Annals?
 4.3 What Kinds of Events Did the Annalists Report?
 4.4 Who Could Be Mentioned in the Annals, and Why: Non-Rurikids in letopisi
 4.5 How Were the Annals Maintained and Revised? Did They Circulate in Copies?
 4.6 The Annals and Legal Texts
 4.7 Princely ‘Messages’ in the Annals
 4.8 The 1130s–40s as a Crucial Period in the Documental and Annalistic Writing
 4.9 Political Evaluations in the Annals: Kiev Up to the 1130s and the Northeast
 4.10 Ecclesiastical, Family, and Natural Events in the Annals
 4.11 Summary of the Data Obtained and Comparative Reflections


Appendix 1: A Note on the Reckoning of Time in Early Rus
Appendix 2: A List of Rus Pre-1400 Manuscripts Containing Historical Writing
Appendix 3: The Author’s Russian-Language Published Works Corresponding to Parts of this Book
Index of Texts
Index of Manuscript Shelfmarks
Index of Geographical and Ethnic Names
Index of Persons
All those interested in the history of Old Rus, early forms of historical writing, and the proliferation and functions of writing in archaic societies.
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