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Models of Representation of the Past in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period

The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies in 2019.

Goal of research

The goal of the project was to identify historical situations where historical actors considered it necessary to appeal to the legitimizing past, as well as to unravel the aims and motives behind these appellations, the methods by which the required image of the past was constructed, and the means used to achieve the acknowledgment of these images as genuine. Therewith, each subproject had its own goals. The subproject titled “Appellation to the past and the precedent in Ancient Rus’ and Georgian ideology of 11th-12th centuries” aimed at reconstructing how the system of church and canonical precedents was used in Rus’ in the 11th-12th centuries and how the perceptions of the political succession from the ancient states was formed and developed in Georgian historiography in the 11th-12th centuries. The purpose of the subproject titled “Models of representation of the past in Scandinavia and Ancient Rus’ in the Middle Ages” was to understand through analyzing the conventional strategies of name-giving how Russian and Scandinavian ruling elites perceived the past of their own clans in the 12th-13th centuries. The subproject titled “Medieval Latin literature between the past and the present: theory and research methods” sought to develop the methodology of studying medieval, especially later medieval, Latin literature and the images of the past in it. The subproject named “Ancient past in Austria in the 14th-15th centuries” investigated the mechanisms of how the image of the ancient past was formed when the fake Privilegium Maiuswas being created and used. The subproject named “Religious motives and correlates in the Moscow Rus’, ‘Polish’, Ukrainian, and Belorussian perceptions of the past in the 15th-17th centuries” tested the hypotheses that a) ‘Polish’ and Ancient Rus’ models of the representation of the past in the Middle Ages and in the 16th-17th centuries differed in the correlation degree of the ‘ethno-national’ and Biblical-Christian foundations; b) in the late 16th – early 17th centuries the impact of the confessional factors increased among the Ukrainian-Belorussian church and lay elites, which led to the formulation of the ‘common Russian’ model of historical memory.


Since this study is multifaceted and written sources of different kinds were used in it, the methods are also multiple, including the paleographical, codicological, textological, lexicological and comparative-chronological analysis, as well as diplomatics, legal history and comparative-legal analysis. Occasionally, the methods of historical liturgical and comparative studies were used.

Empirical base of research

Different types of sources were used in this study, namely, Western and Eastern European chronicles, acts (including fake ones), legal texts, Latin scholarly treatises and Medieval literature samples.

Results of research

The comparison of the ancient Georgian and Ancient Rus’ historical writings showed that although the denial of Byzantium played a major role in the construction of the glorious past in both traditions, the structure of these constructs differs. The Kingdom of Georgia was preeminently concerned with the establishment of political independence, thus denying Byzantine participation in the creation of the Kingdom of Georgia. On the other hand, in Ancient Rus’ that had always been politically independent from the Byzantine Empire, the key question in the times of Yaroslav the Wise was the right to the church autocephaly that had to be historically legitimized. Such claims were not relevant for Georgia. The second subproject revealed that the Ancient Rus’ polynomy lay in the foundation of the flexible system of anthroponimic polyfunctionality that allowed, among others, keeping historical clan memory both on the male and the female lines, independently from the widespread church practices of transferring the images of very different past through the Christian names. The third subproject resulted in finding out that the usage of the past in the historical and literature works by the authors of the 10th-13th centuries was never accidental, but each time it was aimed at the solution of the ideological tasks. The attention to an ancient author or passing by this author rendered the narrative a certain style, the manner that the contemporary and later readers recognized and analyzed. This process connecting the writer and the reader should be understood as the formation of the medieval style of thinking. The fourth subproject revealed the peculiarities of the ‘reconstruction’ of the ancient past in the fake Privilegium Maius drawn up by the order of Duke Rudolf The Founder. On the one hand, the authors of this act blurred the line between the pagan Roman Empire and the Empire of the 14th century. On the other hand, they detected the changes of the time at least in the material side of the text. (Such specific type of historicism could appear only after the creation of the prince’s archive and the beginning of its systematic use.) Moreover, the authors’ perception of themselves as the members of political community prevailed over the perception of themselves as members of religious community. Besides, a demand in the more careful development of the “relevant image of the past” appeared.  Finally, the model of the ‘construction’ of the ancient times in the Provilegium Maius reflects the regional specificity of the authors' methodology who worked to the North of the Alps. In Italy, the approaches to the use of the ancient Roman past were different at that time. The fifth subproject showed that the construct of historical memory in the Rus' Primary Chroniclemay be explained through the understanding of the identity of the Christian Rhomaioi that evolved in the Byzantine culture and distinguished the Byzantine model of the representation of the past from the one formed in the Catholic culture. The ‘Byzantine’ construct was preserved in the later chronicle writing and, more broadly, in the literary culture of Moscow Rus’. At the same time, such model of self-identity faded out in the Ukrainian-Belorussian chronicles, just to reappear in the works of the 16th-17th centuries. Finally, the references to the Orthodox Christianity and the common church and political history in the ideological rhetoric of Bohdan Khmenlnytsky’s times appear to be the most frequent and weighty argument in favour of the unification of the Ukrainian and Belorussian lands with Rus’.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The participants of the project took part in a great number of Russian and international seminars, colloquia, and conferences, gave personal talks, delivered lectures, appeared in the open public, presenting some results of the project. Moreover, the participants of the project prepared a number of publications (see the list in the final report), part of which have already been published. The results of the project are also planned to be published in a separate book (the next volume of Polystoria) in the HSE Publishing House.



Виноградов А. Ю.Косоуров Д. А. Кто объединил Грузию? Давид Куропалат, Абхазское царство и Византийская империя // Античная древность и средние века. 2019. № 47. С. 29-49. doi

Avdokhin A. (Il)legal freedom? Christ and Redemption from Slavery to Satan in Late Antique Liturgical Texts from Asia Minor, in: Slavery in the Late Antique World, 200–700 CE. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2020. P. 100-125.

Виноградов А. Ю., Коробов М. И. О времени и обстоятельствах христианизации готов Боспора и Дори // В кн.: Древности Кубани. Вып. 23. Выпуск, посвященный 60-летию одного из ведущих исследователей древней и средневековой истории Северо-Западного Кавказа, археолога Алексея Васильевича Пьянкова. Ростов н/Д : Издательство Южного федерального университета, 2018. С. 41-48.

Виноградов А. Ю. О хронологии русских митрополитов XI в. (по поводу новой гипотезы А. П. Толочко) // Slovĕne. 2019. Т. 8. № 1. С. 477-485. doi

Виноградов А. Ю., Желтов М. с. Порядок вступления иерархов на кафедру в домонгольской Руси и вопросы хронологии первых митрополитов Киевских // Богословские труды. 2019. № 49. С. 155-169.

Виноградов А. Ю. Происхождение и эволюция «купольного зала» // В кн.: Византия в контексте мировой культуры. Материалы конференции, посвященной памяти А. В. Банк 1906–1984 (Труды Государственного Эрмитажа. Т. 99). СПб. : Издательство Государственного Эрмитажа, 2019. С. 48-73.

Avdokhin A. Singing Heresy: HYmns of Doctrinal Dissenters in Late Antiquity in Heresiological Imagination, Past and Present, in: Resonant Faith in Late Antiquity. Idiom, Music, and Devotion in Early Christian Hymns / Ed. by A. Avdokhin. NY : Routledge, 2020.

Voskoboynikov O. Michel Scot. Liber particularis. Liber physonomie Edition critique, introduction et notes par Oleg Voskoboynikov. Firenze : Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2019.

Дмитриев М. В. «Церковь есть небо земное…». Небесное и земное в храмовой иеротопии Московской Руси и Франции XVII в. // В кн.: Воздух и небеса в иеротопии и иконографии христианского мира. Материалы международного симпозиума. М. : Феория, 2019. С. 110-113.

F. B. UspenskijThe Destinies of Varangians in 11th- to 12th-century Rus’: (Yakun the ‘Blind’, S(h)imon and his son George) // New Norse Studies: A Journal on the Literature and Culture of Medieval Scandinavia. 2019. No. 1

Воскобойников О. С. Casus belli, или Без царя в голове. Анонимная поэма "Чрево" и поэтика тела в XII-XIII вв. // Казус. Индивидуальное и уникальное в истории. 2019. С. 319-337.

Vinogradov A., Korobov M. The early Christian history of the Black Sea Goths in the light of new Gothic inscriptions from Crimea // Byzantion: Revue Internationale des Etudes Byzantines. 2019. Vol. 89. P. 497-512. doi

Avdokhin A. Liturgies of Pilgrims’ Performative Spaces: Hymnody and Veneration of Saints in Late Antique Miracle Collections, in: Dynamics of the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity. Turnhout : Brepols Publishers, 2020.

Воскобойников О. С. Салернская хроника / Перев.: О. С. Воскобойников. М. : Издательский дом ЯСК, 2020.

Воскобойников О. С. Право на авторство до эпохи авторского права. Западная Европа XII—XIII вв. // Электронный научно-образовательный журнал "История". 2019. Т. 10. № 84 doi

Дмитриев М. В. «Средневековье» и «модерность»? Две необходимые иллюзии в контексте вопроса о «национальном» // Vox Medii Aevi. 2019. Т. 2. № 5. С. 192-208. doi


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