Moscow the Third Rome: Sources of the Doctrine


Dimitri Strémooukhoff


Speculum, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Jan., 1953), pp. 84-101

The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Medieval Academy of America


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Although the sixteenth-century Russian doctrine which proclaimed Moscow the ‘Third Rome’ has become a subject of increasing interest to historians, [1] its origin and sources still remain — despite the meticulous research of M. D’jakonov, V. Malinin, and Mme H. Schaeder — to some extent obscure. [2] In the hope, therefore, that it may be of some use in elucidating a point of such importance to the grasp of both Muscovite ideology and Russian history, we have devoted this further study to the genesis of this doctrine. [3]


Before coming to the Muscovite conception, we should first make a rapid outline of the imperial doctrine which was adapted and transposed on the soil of Moscow. In searching for the idea of universal monarchy, probably of Iranian origin, we need go no further than the Hebrew prophets, in whose writings (particularly those of Daniel) it is expounded. Universal history up to the advent of the Messianic kingdom is shown by Daniel as a succession of four empires, represented either by the parts of the idol that appeared in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel, ii) or by the four animals (Daniel, vii), which tradition interprets as the Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires. At times, this fourth empire of Daniel was regarded by the Christianity then developing within the boundaries of the Roman Empire as the kingdom of Antichrist (Apocalypse) ; at others, as the power by which the advent of Antichrist (II Thessal., ii, 5) was being held back. [4] That the Roman empire should have been subject to interpretations so opposed as to its eschatological role, is an enduring and essential characteristic of the Christian apocalyptic.


After the union of Christianity and imperial Rome, consummated by Constantine the Great, the conception of a Roman-Christian empire is to stamp profoundly European history. In the West, the empire will be overthrown by the barbarians, and not restored until 800, when the coronation of Charlemagne will



1. N. S. Čajev, ‘Moskva — tretij Rim v političeskoj praktike moskovskogo pravitel’stva XVI-go veka,’ Istoričeskie zapiski, xvii (1945), 23;

M. N. Tixomirov, Istocnïkovedenie istorii S.S.S.R. (1940), i, 138.


M. Denissoff (‘Aux origines de l’Eglise russe autocéphale,’ Revue des Études Slaves, Paris, 1947, fasc. 1-4) and

I. U. Budovnic (Russkaja Publicistika XVI-go v., 1947, pp. 100, 173, 289) also emphasize the importance of the doctrine of ‘Moscow — Third Rome.’ M. Budovnic is interested in it the more as he considers the Muscovite autocracy to be a ‘more progressive phenomenon’ than the monarchy limited by feudal institutions. Cf. also J. Pirenne, Les grands Courants de l'histoire (Neuchâtel, 1944), ii, 272.


2. D’jakonov, Vlast’ moskovskix gosudarej (1889);

V. Malinin, Starec Eleazarova monastyrja Filofej i ego poslanija (1901; with an edition of texts of Philotheus);

H. Schaeder, Moskau das dritte Rom (Hamburg, 1929).


3. This question has interested me for a long time. I treated it in 1930 in a communication to the Société des Slavisants (cf. Revue des Études Slaves, x, 180). I wish to express here my cordial thanks to M. André Grabar, professor at the Collège de France, from whose friendly suggestions this study has greatly benefitted.


4. Bousset, Der Antichrist (Gottingen, 1895), pp. 77 ff.







mark a deep rift in world-unity as it then existed. Embodied in this renovatio imperii will be found the idea of a translatio potestatis imperii a Graecis in Germanos. [5]


The Eastern Empire, which did not fall into barbarian hands, ‘continued to uphold, on the Bosphorus, the tradition of the Roman empire of which it rightly considered itself the legitimate successor.’ [6] These eastern possessors of the imperial power felt bound to confer upon their capital the eternal name of Rome. Professor F. Dölger has studied the subject of the ‘transfer’ of the name Rome, to Constantinople, which, from the end of the fourth century, became the ‘New Rome.’ [7] The emperor became the basileus of the Romans and of all the Christians; Constantinople was to be considered as urbs orbis and urbs aeterna.


This Byzantine ideology, which, when assuming less markedly Roman forms, was stamped with a certain ‘messianism,’ seems to have blossomed out under the Macedonian dynasty, and at a moment coincident with the beginnings of a conversion to Christianity among the Slavs. [8] It is not surprising, therefore, that it should rapidly have penetrated the Slav world, more especially as the Byzantines must have looked on the doctrine as a particularly advantageous export. [9] It was spread either by the teaching and canonical acts of Greek ecclesiastics or by means of translations into Slav of Byzantine works (certain novellae of Justinian, St Andrew of Cesarea’s commentaries on the Apocalypse, various imperial prophecies). [10]



5. F. Kampers, Die deutsche Kaiseridee in Prophetie und Sage (Munich, 1896),

by the same author, Vom Werdegange der abendländischen Kaisermystik (Berlin, 1924);

Hahn, Das Kaisertum (Leipzig, 1913); and

J. Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire (London, 1913).


6. L. Bréhier, Vie et Mort de Byzance (Paris, 1947), p. 14;

As to the pivotal Byzantine idea of ‘symphony’ of Church and State as represented by the ‘diarchy’ of the Patriarch and the Emperor see

V. V. Sokol’skij, ‘O Xaraktere i značenii Epanogogi,’ Vizantijskij vremennik, i (1894), and

G. Vernadskij, ‘Vizantijskie učenija o vlasti carja i patriarxa, Recueil Kondakov (1926).


7. F. Dölger, ‘Rom in der Gedankenwelt der Byzantiner,’ Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte, lvi (1937); cf. also

H. Schaeder, op. cit., pp. 9 ff., and

O. Treitinger, Die ostromische Kaiser- und Reichsidee (Jena, 1938).


8. Byzantine ‘messianism’ recognized, beside its ‘Roman’ form, a ‘Hierosolymitan’ form. Byzantines in fact called Constantinople ‘New Jerusalem’ or ‘Second Jerusalem.’

Cf. A. Grabar, ‘L’art religieux et l’empire byzantin à l‘époque des Macédoniens,’ in the Annuaire de l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, 1939-1940, p. 35, and the epistle of the patriarch Photius in Pravoslavnyj palestinskij sbornik, xxxi (1892), 231-235. The Russians knew this terminology and applied it also to their capital. The late Michel Gorlin held that ‘the theory of the third Rome was going to bind Moscow to Byzantium and Jerusalem would find itself set aside’ (Revue des Études Slaves, xviii, p. 62) ; but it does not seem that the name ‘third Rome’ had definitively replaced that of ‘new Jerusalem,’ for we find the latter in the collection of verse of Alexandre Mezenec (Stremouxov) and in certain chronicles (Bezsonov, Kaleki perexožie, fasc. 6, p. ix, and I. Zabelin, Istorija Goroda Moskvy, 1905, p. 36).


It is probable, as R. Stupperich has pointed out (‘Kiev, das zweite Jerusalem,’ Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie, xii, p. 352), that the name of Rome implied a political role and that of Jerusalem a more ecclesiastical role.


9. F. Dvornik, Les Légendes de Constantin et de Méthode vues de Byzance (Prague, 1933), p. 365. Cf. A. Grabar, art. cit., p. 24. It is true that the apostle of the Slavs named the Byzantine empire not the ‘Roman Empire’ but the ‘Empire of Christ.’


10. Migne, P.G., cvi, col. 376, 381; Velikie Minei četii, 1883, 25-30 Sept., col. 1766—67; Istrin, Otkrovenie Mefodija Patarskogo, in Čtenija of Moscow, 1897, ii-iv; 1898, i.





If all this brought enormous prestige to the city which the Slavs called Tsar’grad, the universality of the Byzantine doctrine was not to be unresistingly adopted by a people eager for independence.


The opposition was particularly stubborn among the Balkan Slavs. Bulgaria and Serbia, in fact, endowed their sovereigns with the title of tsar, derived from Caesar and equivalent with basileus, set up their church as an independent patriarchy, and even dreamed of the conquest of Constantinople. [11] At Tirnovo in particular there flourished in the fourteenth century, during the reign of John-Alexander and under the patriarchy of Euthymius, a school of literature whose rhetoric abounds in pompous panegyrics. [12] To take an example which, for us, has a certain importance, the Bulgarian translator of the Chronicle of Manasses, in speaking of the fall of Rome in the fifth century, opposes this city not (as Manasses does) to Constantinople but to ‘our new Tsar’grad which grows, and strengthens herself’; the city he so designates would appear to be Tirnovo. [13]


The Russians became acquainted with the Byzantine doctrine both directly and through the agency of the Southern Slavs who adapted it to suit their own national aims. The Russian metropolitan was, in fact, attached to the patriarchy of Constantinople: with a few exceptions, the metropolitans were Greeks consecrated in the imperial city; [14] on the other hand, towards the end of the fourteenth century, and particularly in the fifteenth, the ‘second influence’ of the Southern Slavs — having as its protagonists the Serbian and Bulgarian emigrants to Russia — may be seen to be taking shape.


In 1390 a Bulgarian called Cyprian succeeded in becoming the metropolitan of Moscow, where he introduced the literary style of Tirnovo. [15] It was at this moment, in 1393, that Anthony, the patriarch of Constantinople, addressed himself to the Grand Duke Vasili I. Disturbed by certain rumors, according to which the Grand Duke of Moscow had shown him a lack of respect, asserting even that ‘we have the Church, but we have not the Emperor,’ the patriarch stated the Byzantine conception of the part played by the emperor in the Christian world. He combatted the opinion of the Grand Duke, and gave as his own, ‘that it is impossible for Christians to have the Church without having the Emperor, because the Empire and the Church constitute one unity and one community.’ He then described the high position occupied by the Emperor in the Church, insisting



11. K. Jireček, Dejiny nâroda bulharského (Praha, 1876), pp. 187 1e.;

same author, La Civilisation serbe au moyen âge (1920), pp. 6 ff.;

Émile Haumant, La Formation de la Yougoslavie (1930), pp. 52 ff.; and

H. Schaeder, op. cit., pp. 4 ff.


12. K. Radčenko, Religioznoe i literaturnoe dvizenie v Bolgarii v epoxu pered tureckim zavoevaniem (1898), pp. 21 f.;

K. Jireček, op. cit., pp. 270 ff.


13. Kronike lui Constantin Manasses (ed. Ivan Bogdan, Bucarest, 1922), p. 99. Cf. Jireček, op. cit., p. 215, and Schaeder), op. cit., pp. 14 and 51. Nearly the same phrase is to be found in the Russian Chronograph of 1512 (P.S.R.L., xxii, 1, p. 258). However the author of the Chronograph by all the evidence, sets in opposition to Rome not Tirnovo or Moscow but rather Constantinople, as does the Greek Manasses. This is why he says not ‘our new Tsar’grad’ but ‘our new Rome — Tsar’grad.’


14. E. Golubinskij, Istorija russkoj cerkvi (1901), i, 1, pp. 289 ff. cf. also D'jakonov, op. cit., pp. 1 ff.


15. H. Schaeder, op. cit., p. 3. Cf. Golubinskij, op. cit., n, 1, pp. 297 ff., and A. S. Orlov, Drevnjaja russkaja literatura XI-XVI v. (1937), pp. 234 ff.





upon the universality of the title, and the illegality of its being conferred upon the rulers of other nations. [16]


The question was, would Moscow remain faithful to the Byzantine teachings, or would she, urged by a desire for independence and the example of the Balkan Slavs, take this opportunity to build up the doctrine of a national state? [17] As we shall see, historical circumstances of an exceptional nature allow her to remain — in principle — faithful to the Byzantine doctrine of a unique empire, while at the same time putting it, as the Southern Slavs had tried to do, to her own uses.


In his letter the patriarch Anthony had made it clear that the esteem which the empire had enjoyed should not be weakened on account of the vicissitudes it had gone through, and that Christians should not turn away from any but a heretic emperor. These were the exact conclusions which the Muscovites, good pupils of the Greeks, were to draw from the events of the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-1439), where, in the hope of obtaining western aid against the Turks, the delegates of the Eastern Church had accepted the union with Rome. Moscow had been represented there by the Metropolitan Isidore, a Greek by origin and a conspicuous supporter of the union, also by Abraham, bishop of Suzdal’, accompanied by several priests. When, on his return to Moscow, the Metropolitan Isidore proclaimed the union, he was dismissed from office by Vasili II, who remembered that the Greeks had .always depicted the Latins as heretics. [18] Simon Suzdalec, one of the priests who had accompanied the bishop of Suzdal’, has left a description of this Council which has been preserved in several versions. In these accounts it is asserted, firstly, that the Greeks, from motives of greed, had betrayed Orthodoxy, and, secondly, that, by dismissing the Metropolitan Isidore, the Grand Duke Vasili had become Orthodoxy’s champion. This idea is set forth in the form of a panegyric, in which Vasili is put on the same level as Constantine the Great and Saint Vladimir: ‘Rejoice, pious Prince Vasili,’ cries the panegyrist, ‘supporter of the Orthodox faith and of all Russia, upholder of the Greek faith.’ [19] The ‘treason’ of the Greeks provided reason enough for making the Russian church self-governing (autocephalous). Isidore once set aside, in 1441, the Russian bishops in 1448 elected, and enthroned as metropolitan a Russian, Jonas. [20] This decision was, in other ways, a fateful one, for, Jonas not being recognized at Kiev, the last weak bond uniting the Russian territories was loosened. Henceforward, there were to be two metropolitans, one at Kiev, [21] the other at Moscow, where the ‘Russian piety’ [22] was set up against the rapidly waning prestige of the Greeks.



16. Pamjatniki drevne-russkogo kanoničeskogo prava (R.I.B., vi), t. I2, priloženie, pp. 269-271.


17. D. S. Lixačev finds the first criticism of the Byzantine concept in Russia in the writings of the Metropolitan Hilarion (Nacional’noe samosoznanie v dremej Rusi (1945), pp. 24-25).


18. Cf. A. Pavlov, Kritičeskie, Opyty po Istorii drevnejšej greko-russkoj polemiki protiv latinjan (1878).


19. Malinin, op. cit. (texts), pp. 99-100; cf. pp. 76-128.


20. Golubinskij, op. cit., n, 1 pp. 470 ff. Cf. Denissoff, art. cit., p. 77 ff.


21. Ibid., ii, 3, p. 507. Cf. H. Schaeder, op. cit., p. 28.


22. Pamjatniki drevne-russkogo kan. prava, p. 653. Cf. D’jakonov, op. cit., p. 57, and Malinin, op. cit., pp. 480 ff.





Before the relations between Moscow and Constantinople had had time to be defined, [23] the catastrophe of 1453 had put an end to the millenary empire. The fall of Byzantium plunged the whole world into a state of consternation. It was looked upon as a retribution. In the west, Pope Nicholas V saw in it a punishment for the rejection of the unity established at Florence; in Moscow, on the contrary, the Metropolitan Jonas in 1458 attributed it to this union: for as long as Constantinople had adhered to the true faith, she had resisted all invasions but, once having betrayed it and united herself with the Latins, she fell under the infidel’s yoke. [24]


The fall of Constantinople, which had been thought of as the eternal city of Christianity, and the disappearance of the Empire, which was held to be the essential corollary of the Church, cast the souls and spirits of the eastern Christians into a profound despair. How could the Church continue to exist without the Empire? And what, now, would be Muscovy’s place in history? These questions presented themselves at the moment when, the grand duchy of Moscow, gradually developing into a powerful state, became aware of itself as the last independent supporter of Orthodoxy. [25] Muscovite chronography, in the fifteenth century, abandoned its local character to become pan-Russian and developed the idea of Russian unity, tending thus to ascribe to Moscow a central place in history. In order to preserve the traditional structure of Christianity — which involved the Christian Empire — and to assign to Russia her place in history, three eventual solutions could be contemplated: to admit that the fall of Byzantium was not final, and that the imperial city would be freed by the Russians; to admit the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire of the West; or, lastly, to set up Moscow herself as a definite empire, the successor to that of Byzantium. [26]


It was the first of these solutions which, safeguarding as it did the ancient conception of the world, appealed, on first thoughts, to the Muscovite spirit. We find it referred to in various versions of the Russian account of the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. The author, after having described the fall of the imperial city, adds: ‘If all the predictions of the time of Constantine the Great, such as were made by Methodius of Patara and Leo the Sage, if all the predictions concerning this great city have come to pass, then the ultimate prophecy will come to pass also, for it is said: ‘the Russian tribes will battle against the



23. Vasili II and the Metropolitan Jonas explain the necessity of electing the metropolitan at Moscow and not at Constantinople by the dissension which divided the imperial city when there was no longer a patriarch of the ancient piety. (Pamjatniki drevne-russkogo kan. prava, pp. 557-558, 584585.)


24. Ibid., p. 623, and Karamzin, Istorija gosudarstva Rossijskogo (1842), v, 212.


25. It cannot be denied that the principality of Tver, rival of Moscow, also played a role in the elaboration of the idea of unity and of the imperial idea. In the fourteenth century the monk Akindin had already written to Prince Michel of Tver, ‘you are tsar in your country’ and in the fifteenth century another monk, Thomas, bestowed upon Prince Boris the title of tsar and compared him with Constantine. Cf. Val’denberg, Drevne-russkie učenija o predelax carskoj vlasti (1916), p. 140 ff. and Lixačev, op. cit., pp. 92 and f. The formula of Akindin corresponds to the definition of French legists: ‘the king is imperator in suo regno


26. We had come to conclusions which, in broad outline, coincide with those of M. Denissoff (art. cit., p. 76) before seeing his article.





Ishmaelites with the help of her erstwhile inhabitants, will conquer the city of the seven hills [Constantinople], and will reign there”.’ [27] To understand this passage one must remember that in Byzantium, and especially in Russia, it was reckoned that the world would last seven thousand years. [28] The Byzantine calendar counted the years as from the creation of the world, and the year 7000 fell in 1492 of the Christian era; the end of the world was expected at that date. The Pseudo-Methodius planned his statement of history according to the millenaries; in the course of the seventh millenary the Ishmaelites were to take possession of the Greek Empire, but there would then arise an emperor who would liberate it, after which the Antichrist would appear, and the end of the world, which seems to have been coincident with the end of the seventh millenary, would take place. [29] Viewed in this light, the taking of Constantinople by the Turks would seem to have been as predicted, and nothing remained but to await the appearance of the liberating emperor, and, subsequently, in 1492, the end of the world. [30] Some ancient prophecies, attributed to Leo the Sage and to an inscription on Constantine’s tomb, fit themselves easily into the prophetic scheme of the Pseudo-Methodius. These prophecies declare that Constantinople will be liberated by a ξανθὸν γένος and this fair-skinned tribe was often identified with the Russians. [31] The Muscovites, therefore, assigned to themselves the mission of liberating the imperial city. If its perennial character could thus be safeguarded, then the Muscovite scholars, under the influence of the Southern Slavs, could still confer upon their sovereign the title of tsar provided that he did not endow his empire with a definitely imperial status. [32] This conception could be



27. I. Sreznevskij, Povest’ o Car’grade (1855), and Jakovlev, Skazanija o Car’grade (1868), p. 114. In the lamentations on the taking of Constantinople, inserted at the end of the Chronograph of 1512, the author also expresses the hope that the infidels will be driven out and the Christian kingdoms re-established. He ends his lamentations with a paraphrase of Manasses (see above, n. 13), which paraphrase he applies to Russia, but taking care not to call it ‘new Tsar’grad.’


28. The belief that the world would last six (or seven) thousand years is very ancient. The apocryphal epistle of Barnabus teaches that, just as the world had been created in six days, it would last six millenniums, a day being interpreted, according to Psalms, lxxxix, 4-5, as a millennium. The Talmudists, certain heretics and certain Church Fathers shared this belief. If one includes the millennium (corresponding to the seventh day) in history, the end of the world might be foretold for the year seven thousand after creation. This is exactly what happened in Russia. Cf. P. Voltz, Die Eschatologie der jüdischen Gemeinde im neuen testamentlichen Zeitalter (Tübingen, 1934), pp. 135 ff., and Saxarov, Esxatologičeskie sočinenija i skazanija v drevne-russkoj pis’mennosti, 1879.


29. Istrin, op. cit. (study), pp. 20-21.


30. A complete prophetic chronology of apocalyptic occurrences is to be found in the paschal canons of 1460 to 1492.


31. Concerning these prophecies, see Sreznevskij, op. cit.; Istrin, op. cit. (study), pp. 273 ff.; Malinin, op. cit. (study), pp. 471-472; D’jakonov, op. cit., pp. 62 ff. According to Mme Schaeder (op. cit., pp. 28 ff.) this prophecy is based upon Ezekiel, xxxviii, 2, after the Septuagint: υἱὲ ἀνθρώπου, στήρισον τὸ προσώπον σου ἐπὶ Γὼγ καὶ τὴν γῆν .


32. In a later report of the Council of Florence, written in 1461, to glorify Russia’s autocephaly and attributed to Pacomus the Serbian (A. Pavlov, op. cit., pp. 99, 101, 106; cf. H. Schaeder, op. cit., p. 26); the emperor declares to the Pope that it is only due to his modesty and piety that Vasili II does not make use of the title of tsar (Malinin, op. cit., texts, p. 117). It seems thus that the author tries to legitimize this title by the authority of a Byzantine emperor. So Pacomus the Serbian seems to be one of the first to call Vasili II tsar. (Cf. Pavlov, op. cit., pp. 100-101 and Ždanov, Russkij bylevoj Epos, 1895, pp. 107 and ff.





further reinforced by the idea of the ‘Byzantine inheritance’ consequent upon the marriage of Ivan III, in 1472, with the heiress of the Paleologues. [33]


Such building upon prophecies, however, seems to have corresponded very little with the practical aims of a Muscovite government preoccupied with the assembling of the Russian territories and the restoration of Saint Vladimir’s heritage. [34] It was with reserve, therefore, that Moscow received the Western proposals that she should involve herself in the problems of the East.


At this moment, in Italy and in Germany, there were dreams of a new Crusade, in which it was hoped that Russia would take part. The diplomatic relations which linked Moscow with the West were not particularly easy ones. For the Western World as the Soviet historian of diplomacy has noted, the only means of legitimizing the new state so as to introduce it into the European state system, was to confer a royal crown upon the sovereign of Moscow. [35] In 1489 the imperial envoy, Nicholas Poppel, offered to obtain the royal crown for Ivan III, but Ivan refused it, insisting that ‘he had never wanted to be made king by anyone, and that he did not wish it.’ In another reply to Emperor Frederick III he declared that his earliest ancestors had maintained friendly relations with those Roman emperors who had given Rome to the Pope, and had afterwards reigned at Byzantium. [36] Ivan III had already begun to call himself tsar, and Emperor Maximilian seems to recognize this title in the translated form of Kaiser [37]. Moscow, therefore, refused to accept the crown from the West, and, in that way, refused to recognize the Western Empire as the Christian Empire. [38] How far we are from the example of the Southern Slavs !


In the meantime the redoutable year of 1492 arrives. The apocalyptic catastrophe does not take place. The Russians, therefore, are able to breathe more freely, even though the fear of the end of the world is not completely dispelled. They must continue to live, and in order to live like Christians it is necessary to establish a new paschal canon (the old one had ended in 1492) to disprove the



33. Thus, for example, the Venetian Seigniory wrote that the Eastern Empire ‘wanting a male heir, returns to the duke of Moscow, in consequence of his illustrious marriage.’ (Pierling, La Russie et l’Occident, Paris, 1891.)


34. Lixačev, op. cit., pp. 96 ff.


35. Histoire de la diplomatie published under the direction of V. Potemkin (Paris, i), p. 187. N. S. Čajev holds that diplomatic relations with the West exercised a certain influence on the formation of the theory of the Third Rome (art. cit., p. 10).


36. Pamjatniki diplomatičeskix snošenij (1851) i, 11-12, 17.


37. Pamjatniki diplomatičeskix snošenij, i, 1502. Peter the Great used this text, the authenticity of which has, moreover, been called into doubt, to justify the title of emperor with which he replaced that of tsar. D. S. Lixačev (op. cit., p. 102) points out that Ivan III begins to use the title of tsar in his diplomatic relations after definitively freeing himself from the yoke of the Tartars (1480) and not after his marriage with Sophie Paléologue. It is, nevertheless, true that he had already used it in 1473, that is, immediately after his marriage, in a treaty with the city of Pskov. (Solov’ev, Istorija Rossii, ed. Obšč. Pol’za, i, 1483. Cf. Schaeder, op. cit., p. 39 and Malinin, op. cit. (study), pp. 553 ff.


38. According to N. S. Čajev (art. cit., p. 15) Muscovite diplomats fought to establish the equality of the tsar with the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, whom they considered of greater rank than the kings. It is, however, evident that the Holy Roman Empire, not being Orthodox, could not in their eyes be the true Christian Empire.





claim, made by the Judaists, that the Christian prophecies had lied, and, finally, to elaborate a new historical doctrine about the Christian Empire.


It was now that they inclined towards the third of the possible solutions, already mentioned: assigning to Moscow the role of the Christian Empire. We find the first outlines of this in a charter (1492) of Zosimius, metropolitan of Moscow. In this he gives the paschal canon for the beginning of the eighth millenary, which is then starting and in which he says : ‘we are awaiting the advent of the Lord, even although, according to the Holy Writ, the day and the hour of His coming cannot be established.’ He also gives here an abridged version of historical events: Constantine the Great founded the New Rome, Saint Vladimir baptized Russia, and now Ivan III is ‘the new Emperor Constantine of the new Constantinople-Moscow.’ [39] This, to our knowledge, is the first text in which Moscow is openly and officially proclaimed an imperial city. There remained only one more step to take: the ‘new Constantinople’ had to become the ‘Third Rome.’


Around the same data, a renewal of interest in theology was awakened in Novgorod, probably due, to the appearance of the Judaist heresy. [40] The end of the world, in which the Christians had so firmly believed, not having occurred, the heretics adopted a new argument; the Christian prophecies, said the Judaists, had lied. The archbishop of Novgorod, Gennadius (Gonzov) headed the movement which opposed the heretics. [41] He decided to endow the Russian church with the complete Bible; certain books, missing in the Slav translation, were to be translated from the Vulgate. This was interpreted as a considerable victory for the Catholic influence. [42] Owing to this codification of the Bible, several new texts were put into circulation, and among them, the Apocalypse of Ezra, which, until then, had been practically unknown in Russian. [43] The fourth Ezra, translated from the Vulgate at a moment when apocalyptic problems were a matter of passionate concern, was certain to excite a strong interest. In one of his visions, Ezra had observed an eagle with twelve wings and three heads. These heads reign successively on earth. An angel explained to him that the eagle was the fourth animal of Daniel’s visions (that is to say, the Roman empire), and that the heads symbolized three reigns (iv Ezra, xii, 23). What exegesis could be given to this passage? We know that it was translated from the Slav by Benjamin, a Dominican, assisted by Dimitri Malyj, who is sometimes identified with Dimitri Gerasimov. In the third head of the eagle of Ezra, Benjamin probably recognized



39. Pamjatniki drevne-russkogo kan. prava, pp. 795-802. Cf. D’jakonov, op. cit., p. 66.


40. For the heresy of the judaisers see the exposition by G. Vernadsky, ‘The Heresy of the Judaisers and Ivan III,” Speculum, viii, 4 (October, 1933), 436-454.


41. For Archbishop Gennadij see Russkij biografičeskij slovar’.


42. I. E. Evseev, ‘Gennadievskaja Biblija 1499 g.’ Trudy 15-go arxeologičeskogo s’ezda (1916), ii, 15-16.


43. Gorskij i Nevostruev, Opisanie slavjanskix rukopisej Moskovskog sinodal’noj biblioteki, i, 43 ff., and Golubinskij, op. cit., ii, 2, p. 263. Cf. also A. I. Sobolevskij, Perevodnaja literatura moskovskoj Rusi, p. 254 (in Sbornik O. R. Jaz. i Sl., lxxiv, 1), and Beneševič, ‘Iz istorii perevodnoj literatury v Novgorode v konce XV-go v.’ ibid., ci, 3, p. 378.





the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. [44] But would this exegesis have been accepted by the Orthodox Dimitri Gerasimov? Would he not, rather, have thought of interpreting this head as Moscow, which, at this time, had adopted the two-headed eagle for her coat of arms? One has no means of confirming this; but would incline to suppose it, in view of the fact, that in the celebrated ‘Legend of the White Klobuk’—which is prefaced by a letter from Dimitri Gerasimov to Archbishop Gennadius — Russia is described as the ‘Third Rome’. [45] In this letter, Dimitri Gerasimov tells of his discovery, in Rome, of the manuscript of this legend and sends its translation to the archbishop of Novgorod. It is not, however, generally accepted that Dimitri Gerasimov is the author of this legend, and even if we did accept this, there would be no way of confirming whether or not the legend had been interpolated at some later date. [46] Be this as it may, the fact that the form ‘Third Rome’ occurs for the first time in a work which represents itself as being by one of the translators of Ezra should be born in mind.


The impetus given to theological thought by Archbishop Gennadius was to increase; Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk (Sanin) was to oppose the Judaistic heresy in his celebrated Prosvetitelj and, equally, to discard the basis on which the theocratic theory of the power of the Muscovite tsars had rested. [47] But it is a monk of Pskov who will assign to Moscow a role in universal history, and develop the formula, ‘Moscow — New Constantinople’ which we have already encountered in the preface to the paschal canon of the Metropolitan Zosima.


Philotheus, who was born early in the second half of the fifteenth century, and spent his whole life in the monastery of Eleazar at Pskov — of which, in the



44. A. Sedel’nikov (‘K izuceniji slova kratka i dejatel’nosti dominikanca Venjamina,’ in Izvestija O. R. Jaz. i Sl., xxx, 205 ff.) has given definitive proofs in favor of the attribution to Benjamin of Slovo kratko (this text appeared in the Čtenija of Moscow, 1902, 2). In this treatise the author ascribes characteristics to the Roman Empire which makes it possible to establish that for him it represents the fourth beast in the visions of Daniel (cf. Slovo kratko, p. 58, and Daniel, vii, 19) and, in consequence, the eagle of Ezra. He further says that this empire already has partially disappeared and will finally disappear entirely, which is probably an exegesis of the reigns of the three heads of the eagle of Ezra. Under these conditions the third head would quite naturally be identified with the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. It should be noted, moreover, that at this time numerous prophecies concerning Emperor Frederick III existed (Hampers, Die Kaiseridee, pp. 139 ff.), which the Dominican Benjamin, who had perhaps come to Novgorod in the suite of the ambassador of Frederick III (Jevsejev, art. cit., p. 15), must have been aware of.


45. Pamjatniki starinnoj russkoj literatury, i, 296 ff., and D. I. Kožaničkov, Povest’ o novgorodskom klobuke (1861), p. 38.


46. The legend of the white klobuk, symbol of the purity of the faith, is set forth as the translation of a manuscript, given by a Roman librarian to Dimitri who, in 1492, communicated it to Archbishop Gennadij. Historians of Russian literature are considerably divided on the subject of the attribution of this legend to Dimitri (see the discussion of this question in Malinin, op. cit., notes 1881 and 1889). Malinin admits that Dimitri Gerasimov is the author of this legend and holds that he is the first to call Russia the Third Rome. (Ibid., Study, p. 525.) Mme H. Schaeder, on the other hand, dates this legend of the end of the sixteenth century (op. cit., pp. 81-82). A. Sedelnikov (‘Vasilij Kalika, Histoire et Légende,’ Revue des Études Slaves, vii, p. 234) chiefly studies the early history of this legend at Novgorod. The question would merit the trouble of being reviewed. It is therefore impossible to state, as M. Denissoff does, that the doctrine of the Third Rome was born before the sixteenth century (art. cit., p. 86).


47. D’jakonov, op. cit., pp. 91 ff.





reign of Vasili III, he was probably the hegumen — is the author of several epistles setting forth both his views on the action of Providence in the lives of nations and of men. [48] Occasions for him to write were not lacking, for at this time the existence of his fellow citizens was much troubled. In 1510 Vasili III, having taken definite possession of the merchant city, abolished her ancient rights. One part of the population was transplanted to Moscow; the other remained at Pskov where they endured every kind of vexation from the first Muscovite governors. In the ‘Account of the Taking of Pskov,’ included in the first Chronicle of Pskov, the glorious city laments that a many-winged eagle, endowed with lion’s claws has despoiled her of two Lebanon cedars. [49] A. N. Nasonov points out that this image derives from the prophet Ezekiel, who represented Nebuchadnezzar taking Jerusalem in the form of an eagle with big wings and many feathers (Ezekiel, xvii, 3). [50] The idea of applying the image to Moscow probably came the more readily on account of the two-headed eagle that had become the coat-of-arms of the Muscovite state. [51] It is possible that in the Chronicle Ezekiel’s eagle was embellished with features borrowed from other prophetic visions; that of the fourth Ezra, who endowed his eagle with twelve wings, and of Daniel, who bestowed claws upon his animal (Daniel, vii, 19).


Another (and more anti-Muscovite) chronicle of Pskov goes so far as to see in Moscow the sixth king of the Apocalypse (Apocalypse, xvii, 10). [52] In interpreting this text, V. Malinin stresses — to our mind, very rightly — the fact that in 1510 the Pskovians, desolated by the fall of their city, were expecting the end of the world. This is confirmed by modern authorities on ancient Russian literature who also express the view that, owing to the sufferings of Pskov and Novgorod, an expectation of the end of the world had been renewed in these cities. [53] The academician Šaxmatov, on the contrary, reads into this passage no more than a parody of Philotheus. [54] His arguments, however, strike us as being weak, for it is difficult to see how an almost word-for-word quotation from the Apocalypse can contain the parody of a phrase of Philotheus. The conception of the Muscovite monarchy as one of the kingdoms preceding the advent of Antichrist [55] is, in



48. Malinin, op. cit. (study), Chap. I.


49. P.S.R.L., iv, v, p. 287, and A. Nasonov, Pskovskie Letopisi, 1941, 1, p. 95. The text is in the Svod of 1547 which, according to A. N. Nasonov, must have been composed in the monastery of Philotheus. (‘Iz istorii pskovskogo letopisanija,’ Istoričeskie Zapiski, xviii (1946), 270.


50. A. N. Nasonov, art. cit., p. 266.


51. A. Solov’ev, ‘Les emblèmes héraldiques de Byzance et des Slaves,’ Seminarium Kondakovianum, vii (1935).


52. P.S.R.L., iv, v, p. 282. According to Nasonov (art. cit., p. 267) this text was an extremely anti-Muscovite part of the Svod of 1567.


53. Malinin, op. cit. (study), p. 169, and Istorija russkoj literatury (ed. Akademii Nauk, 1945), ii, 398 and 405.


54. Šaxmatov, ‘K voprosu o proisxoždenii xronografa,’ Sbornik O. R. Jaz. i Sl., lxvi, 9, p. 112. Cf. Nasonov, art. cit., p. 267. Mme Schaeder considers it a ‘spatere verderbte Variazion der Lehre des Philotheus,’ op. cit., p. 56).


55. It should be mentioned that the chronicler of Pskov refers to Moscow as the ‘Scythian island.’ The word ‘island’ seems unexplainable; the adjective Scythian, on the other hand, can only be explained in the following manner: where the Pskovian Svod of 1547 sees Moscow under the features of the eagle of Ezekiel, that of 1567 seeks the apocalyptic etymology of the word Moscow with the help of Ezekiel, xxxviii, 2. (Cf. above, n. 31.) Polish scholars in the sixteenth century thought the Muscovites descendants of Mosoch and considered them Scythians. (Cf. J. Križanič, Tolkovanie istoričeskix proročestv, pp. 16 ff. in Čtenija of Moscow, 1891, 2). Under these circumstances, it is understandable that Philotheus should refer to a text of Saint Hippolytus where the Scythians are mentioned. (Cf. n. 60.) This quotation seeks perhaps to prove that the Muscovites are not the apocalyptic Scythians.





itself, an idea which could easily have sprung up in the Pskov of 1510. The public misfortunes having quite naturally created an apocalyptic atmosphere, it was this atmosphere, probably, that confirmed Philotheus in his belief that the time was near. [56] One must not forget that in the Christian tradition the empire was regarded, sometimes as a bad, sometimes as a good thing. The Pskovians saw it as a misfortune; Philotheus will consider it as a benefit.


We have an epistle of Philotheus, dating precisely from this troubled period, in which he addresses his fellow citizens, consoling them in their distress and encouraging them to support their trials in a Christian spirit. [57] Certain passages of this epistle lead us to suppose that they are directed at those who have murmured against the sovereign; Philotheus maintains that thoughts, either of ingratitude to God or antagonism to the tsar, are not permissible, for the heart of the sovereign rests in the hands of God, of whom he is the servant. [58] In another epistle, addressed to Vasili III in person, and dating, probably, from about the same time or a little later, Philotheus writes in the hope of alleviating the sufferings of his fellow-citizens, [59] and implores the tsar to remedy certain ills common to all Russia. Here, also, he gives a preliminary outline of his doctrine which, though it is scattered throughout the epistle, he finally sums up in these words :


‘And if thou rulest thine empire rightly, thou wilt be the son of light and a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, as I have written thee. And now, I say unto thee: take care and take heed, pious tsar; all the empires of Christendom are united (снидошас) in thine, for two Romes have fallen and the third exists and there will not be a fourth; thy Christian empire, according to the great theologian, will not pass to others, and, for the Church, the word of the blessed David will be fulfilled : she is my place of eternal rest; I shall dwell there, for I have desired it. And Saint Hyppolytus says: when we see Rome surrounded by the Persian armies, and the Persians and the Scythians attack us, then we will know, beyond all doubt, that this is the Antichrist.’ [60]


Before specifying Philotheus’s sources, let us pause at another of his epistles, written, probably, towards 1524. [61] He was then on corresponding terms with



56. Malinin, op. cit. (study), pp. 441-442.


57. Ibid., pp. 166-170.            58. Ibid., (texts), p. 16.


59. Ibid., (study), pp. 371-373.


60. Ibid., (texts), pp. 54-55. As Malinin has shown (op. cit. (study), pp. 434-435) the words attributed to the great theologian seem to be a reference to Daniel, ii, 44, and those attributed to David, to Psalms, cxxxii, 14. Malinin adds that the reference to Saint Hippolytus is hardly clear. (Cf. above n. 55.)


61. Malinin, op. cit. (study), pp. 266-269.





Munexin, d’jak to the tsar at Pskov, a person of influence with whom Philotheus had already interceded on behalf of the inhabitants of the city. Munexin, a man of learning, had several correspondents, notably Dimitri Gerasimov, and a certain Nicholas the Latin. [62] The latter is identified with Nicholas Bulow, doctor to Vasili III. This ‘professor of medicine and astrology and of all sciences’ is a strange sixteenth-century Muscovite figure; a propagator of Catholicism and of astrology, he was to be violently criticized by another ‘humanist,’ the Greek Maxime. Nicholas had sent one of his writings to Munexin, and this must have excited the interest of the learned d’jak, for he communicated its contents to Philotheus. This action gave birth to the epistle ‘Against the Astrologers and the Latins’ with which Philotheus replied to Munexin. [63] Judging from this refutation, Nicholas Bulow had supported two theses; one was the astrological thesis, dear to the men of the Renaissance, according to which the destinies of men and nations are ruled by the stars and which led to the prediction of cosmic changes in 1524, being thus in conformance with the astronomer Stoeffler, who had predicted a new deluge for this date. [64] The second thesis, of minor importance in the writings of Nicholas, was favored by Catholic polemicists who spread the following idea: if the Eastern Empire fell, it was because it had divorced itself from the true faith; if that of the West continued to exist, it was because it had remained faithful. Philotheus summarizes this thesis in the following manner: ‘The Latins say: our Roman Empire remains indestructible; if we did not confess the true faith, the Lord would not allow this.’ [65]


In the first part of his epistle, Philotheus develops an entire cosmology and refutes, with the aid of Holy Scripture, the astrological thesis. Then he proceeds to the second thesis. The Catholic argument that Rome remained free and independent was bound to make a profound impression upon the Russians, who held that Constantinople had fallen because it had betrayed the true faith in uniting with the Latins. Philotheus, therefore, found himself obliged to refute this argument, and his refutation, it must be admitted, is rather weak: doubtless, he says, the walls and columns of Rome are not in the power of the infidels, but the souls of the Latins have fallen into heresy, and, if Rome is immutable, it is because the Lord is ‘inscribed’ in this empire. [66] Thus — and the explanation is hardly original [67] — the immutability of Rome is solely due to the fact that Christ was recorded in the census at Bethlehem. This explanation demands another, for, if it tells us why Rome has remained independent, it does not indicate



62. Ibid., pp. 159, 268 ff. For Nicholas the Latin, who is quite identifiable with Nicholas Bulow, see Russkij biografičeskij slovar’, and Malinin, op. cit. (study), pp. 256 ff.


63. Ibid., (texts), p. 48, and (study), pp. 270 ff.


64. Ibid., (texts), p. 48; (study), p. 268; Golubinskij, op. cit., n, 1, p. 690.


65. Malinin, op. cit., p. 42. One can judge the weight of this argument by the following detail: In the sixteenth century the Catholics esteemed that God had delivered the Greeks to the Turks, relates Ivan Peresvetov. To this the Greeks answered: ‘We have an empire and a free emperor,’ making an allusion thus to Moscow (V. F. Ržiga, I. S. Peresvetov, p. 77 in Čtenija of Moscow, 1908, i).


66. Malinin, op. cit. (texts), p. 48.


67. Ibid., (study), p. 352.





where the true Christian Empire lies. Thus Philotheus in this epistle has to take up again his theory of Moscow the Third Rome, which he has already broached in his epistle to Vasili III. Although the epistle to Munexin must have been written nearly ten years, at least, after the formation of Philotheus’ doctrine, his reaction against the Catholic point of view must have been earlier and may be considered — Novgorod and Pskov being rather open to Western influences — as one of the factors in the origin of his doctrine. Thus, this doctrine is elaborated, on the one hand, against the Pskovians, who saw in Moscow the kingdom of the Antichrist, and, on the other, against the Catholics, who believed the true Christian Empire to be conserved in the West.


Malinin, in emphasizing that the theory of Philotheus rests upon the prophecies of Daniel, adds: Tt is difficult to say which are the commentaries known in Slavic translation that Philotheus used.’ [68] Nevertheless, he has made a considerable effort to clarify them; Mme Schaeder has followed up his research. We shall endeavor to throw some light on Philotheus’ sources.


First of all, one can establish that Philotheus borrowed the formula of the unification of monarchies from the first Slav translation of the Pseudo-Methodius. In fact, in speaking of the unification of monarchies, which constitutes the thread of universal history, this translation uses the word снидошесе and this term we find again under the pen of Philotheus when he says that all the empires are reunited in that of Moscow. [69] But the Pseudo-Methodius in no way enables one to visualize an empire which will replace that of Byzantium, called, according to him, to last to the end of time. It is here that the creative work of Philotheus begins, unless the way was marked out for him by Dimitri Gerasimov.


It is generally admitted that it was under Bulgar influence, and especially that of the Bulgar translation of the chronicle of Manasses which calls Tirnovo ‘new Tsar’grad,’ that Philotheus named Moscow the Third Rome. P. Miljukov has formulated this hypothesis in the following way: in recognition of aid given the Southern Slavs by Moscow, the former bestowed upon it the title of ‘new Tsar’grad’ and of ‘Third Rome’; thus the principal source for the thought of Philotheus is to be found in the Bulgar translation of Manasses, which he would have used in writing the Russian Chronograph of 1512, a work of which he must have been the author. [70] We have admitted the influence of the Southern Slavs upon the formation of the Muscovite ideology to have been considerable, but in that which concerns Philotheus, if we set aside the hypothesis of Šaxmatov on the



68. Ibid., p. 525.


69. Cf. Istrin, op. cit. (texts), p. 89 cf. p. 17 and (study), p. 139; Malinin, op. cit. (texts), p. 45 cf. pp. 50—51, 54, 56.


70. P. Miljukov, Očerki po Istorii russkoj kul’tury (1930), m, pp. 52-55 cf. also Tixomirov, op. cit., p. 139. This thesis, rests among others on the hypothesis of Šaxmatov, according to which Philotheus was the redactor of the Chronograph of 1512 which modifies that of 1442, attributed to the Serbian Pacomus. This Chronograph, as we already know, had been subject to the influence of the Bulgarian translation of the Manasses. Philotheus, according to Šaxmatov is supposed to have added the lamentations on the fall of Constantinople. Cf. Šaxmatov, art. cit., pp. 80 and 109; and Šaxmatov, ‘Putešestvie M. G. Munexina’ in Izvestija O. R. Jaz. i Sl., iv, 1, p. 214. H. Schaeder, although rejecting this hypothesis of Šaxmatov, admits the influence upon Philotheus of Manasses. (Op. cit., pp. 49-59.)





Chronograph of 1512, this thesis seems to us erroneous for different reasons. [71] Philotheus had no need to be influenced by the Bulgar chronicle which names, not without ambiguity, Tirnovo ‘new Tsar’grad,’ since, as early as 1492, the Metropolitan Zosimius had officially awarded to Moscow the title ‘new Constantinople.’ [72] Also, Philotheus developed his theory, as he himself says, ‘according to the prophetic books.’ [73] The Bulgar chronicle could not be considered among these, and yet it is in them that one must search for the sources of Philotheus. It should be remember here that the Apocalypse of Ezra is included in the Bible of Gennadius, translated by the work of the Dominican Benjamin, and of Dimitri Gerasimov, who was in communication by letter with Munexin. We have already suggested that this apocalyptic text had probably been commented and may have influenced the ‘Account of the Taking of Pskov.’ [74] In any case, this text influenced Philotheus since he refers to it — on another occasion, it is true — in his epistle ‘On the Submission of the Reason to Revelation.’ [75] From this, since the fourth beast of Daniel, the Roman Empire, is represented there as having three heads (considered as three more or less successive kingdoms), it is not difficult to interpret these three heads as Rome, Byzantium, and Russia, which thus becomes the Third Rome. [76]


The correctness of our interpretation would seem to be confirmed by a legend concerning the foundation of Moscow. This legend tells how in 1206, the Grand Duke Daniel Ivanovič discovered in a swamp an enormous beast with three heads. A Greek sage explained to him that in this same place, a large city would be built, and it is there that Daniel Ivanovič laid the foundations of Moscow. [77] We are probably in the presence of a folklore interpretation of the vision of Ezra. Moreover, for J. Križanič, who was the first to study and combat the theory of the Third Rome in the seventeenth century, when it was still a living



71. See notes 70 and 72.


72. The academician Šaxmatov, in attributing to Philotheus the Chronograph of 1512, based his conclusions primarily on the presence in this work of ideas common to both Philotheus and the Chronograph. To our mind, however, this community of ideas is very relative. The author of the Lamentations, which are inserted at the end of the Chronograph, both looks forward to the liberation of the Balkan countries, and hopes for the reestablishment of the Christian Empire; Philotheus on the other hand, takes the view that the Christian Empire is already established at Moscow, and even goes so far as to say that Constantinople will not be restored. Furthermore the Chronograph speaks of St Andrew the Apostle’s journey to Kiev, an event in the validity of which Philotheus did not believe. These arguments against the hypothesis of Šaxmatov are favorable to those of H. Schaeder.


73. Malinin, op. cit. (text), p. 45.


74. See above.


75. Malinin, (op. cit. [text], p. 34, and [study], pp. 244-245) writes the ‘third’ Ezra, but the quotation used is from the fourth Ezra, iv, 5 and ff. This text, being followed by a reference to Mark, xiii, 32, it is probable that Philotheus quoted it in relation to eschatological questions.


76. H. Schaeder writes only: ‘dass ein viertes Rom nicht sein werde, mag durch die Dreizahl an sich gegeben sein, ist ausserdem durch Daniel VII, 8 und 24 und viertes Ezdra, XII, 22 praformiert.’ (Op. cit., p. 50.)


77. Zabelin, op. cit., pp. 28 ff. and S. Šambinago, ‘Povest’ a načale Moskvy’ in Trudy otdela drevnerusskoj literatury, iii, 92 ff.





idea, the connection of this theory with the visions of Ezra seemed not at all doubtful. In fact, he writes:


‘I do not know what the patriarch Jeremiah was thinking of when he called Moscow the Third Rome. It would follow from that that the empire of Moscow is one of the three heads of the eagle (of Ezra), doomed to damnation and perdition.’


For him the three heads of the eagle of Ezra symbolize the Roman, Greek, and German empires, this last coming to an end with Charles V. [78]


To return to Philotheus. Why should he conceal his sources? His reasons are quite understandable : he could not, a pious monk and apologist for the Christian Empire, proclaim that Moscow is the third head of the fourth beast of Daniel. The theoreticians of the empire always based their work on the visions of Daniel, but they did not always acknowledge their sources or the identifications that they drew from them, because of the ambiguity of this notion of the last empire, which was sometimes considered as the Christian Empire and sometimes as that of the Antichrist. Philotheus, therefore, saw himself under the obligation of finding another apocalyptic image, one which would be less compromising, to justify his theory. Mme H. Schaeder has quite justly remarked that this image is his original work, of which we are able to follow the development. [79] In his epistle ‘Against the Astrologers and the Latins,’ Philotheus summarizes, rather awkwardly to be sure, the chapter (xii) of the Apocalypse about the woman dressed in the sun. The latter, according to the commentaries of Saint Andrew of Cesarea, which were very widespread in Russia, represents the Church. [80] In speaking of her flight into the desert, when she is pursued by the dragon which spits out water in order to submerge her (Apocalypse, xii, 15), Philotheus expresses himself thus: ‘the water signifies unbelief. You see, O chosen of God, that all the Christian empires are submerged by the infidels and the empire of our sovereign is the only one to exist by the grace of Christ.’ [81] It is probable that this text is an allegorical explanation of the flood which the Latin Nicholas foretold for 1524. This image is amplified, however, in his epistle to Ivan IV. [82] He here declares that the woman dressed in the sun — the Church — flees ancient Rome because the latter is fallen into heresy. [83] She also flees the new Rome — Constantinople — because at Florence the Greeks joined with the Latins.



78. Križanić, op. tit., p. 11, and by the same author Russkoe gosudarstvo v polovine XVII-go v. (1858), i, 354-356. Cf. Schaeder, op. cit., p. 118. See n. 89.


79. H. Schaeder, op. cit., p. 55.


80. Velikie minei četii, 25-30 Sept., col. 1743.


81. Malinin, op. cit. (text), p. 46.


82. We admit, though not without hesitation, that the fragment called ‘Epistle of Philotheus to the tsar Ivan Vasilevič’ does, in fact, contain a passage capable of justifying its claim to this title and is addressed to Ivan IV. On the other hand, we are very skeptical about the whole writing, which Malinin considers as the integral text of this epistle (Malinin, op. cit., (study), pp. 75 ff. and text pp. 5766) for it is really an assemblage of quotations most of them identifiable (II Tim. iii, 1-3; the canons of a Concilium and of the Metropolitan Cyril II of Russia; Jud., i, 5-7, II Peter, iii, 3-18) and which would be hard to imagine as an epistle to the sovereign.


83. Philotheus, according to an ancient tradition of the Orthodox polemists, accuses the Catholics, especially on account of the use of unleavened bread, of following the heresy of Apollinaris.





‘She flees into the third Rome which is the new great Russia, that is to say, the desert (pustynja), for it was empty (pusta) of the holy faith, the divine apostles not having preached there and it is only after all other countries that it has been enlightened by divine grace . . . , and now, alone, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the East shines more brightly than the sun in the universe, and only the great Orthodox Tsar of Russia, like Noah saved from the flood in the ark, directs the Church.’ [84]


Such is the apocalyptic image which enables Philotheus to legitimize his conception of the removal of the Christian Empire to Moscow, and which justifies, in his eyes, the title which he gives to the tsar, that of ‘the only emperor (tsar) of the Christians in all the universe.’ [85]


V. Val’denberg emphasizes that Philotheus gives the name of the Third Rome not to Moscow but to all Russia. [86] Literally, he is not wrong, for it is the empire and not the city which, in Philotheus’ eyes, merits this name. However, in his epistle to Munexin, he speaks of the church of the Assumption at Moscow, and in the epistle to Vasili III, of the church of the Assumption ‘of the Third Rome of your empire,’ which seems to imply an identification of Moscow with the Third Rome. The Byzantine and Roman empires were often designated by their capitals, (First Rome, Second Rome); it was natural to designate Russia by its capital and thus Moscow became the Third Rome.


Ivan III, as we have already seen, had begun officially to bear the title of tsar; in 1498 he had his grandson Dimitri crowned tsar, a ceremony to be revived with much greater pomp by Ivan IV in 1547. A little later, the Eastern Church recognized him as basileus. [87] The notion of empire thus became, as early as the end of the fifteenth century, one of the important factors in the history of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which was becoming the great power of Eastern Europe.


The theory of the Third Rome, as Čajev has quite justly noted, in giving ideological form to, and justifying, the activity of the government, in view of the creation of a strong centralized state, was called upon to shape the Muscovite mind. [88] In the domain of internal politics, the centralization of power in the autocratic hands of the tsar influenced the whole social evolution of the Muscovite world. In the domain of external politics, the creation of the empire at Moscow led to the protection of Eastern Christians, to the colonization and Christianization of territories located to the East, and finally influenced Muscovite diplomats to an attitude marked by pride in their relations with the states of the West. The theocratic nature of the tsar’s power enabled the sovereign to keep his hand upon ecclesiastical affairs. This did not prevent the Church from



84. Malinin, op. cit. (text), p. 63. Malinin in accordance with certain manuscripts, reestablished the lesson ‘not having preached there.'


85. Ibid., p. 45, cf. p. 50. M. V. Šaxmatov, examining the doctrine of the crowning of the Moscow tsars, distinguishes in their power, that of the Russian and that of the Orthodox sovereign. Only the Orthodox power was entitled to claim universality (Zapiski russkogo naučnogo Instituta v Belgrade, i, 257 and 264).


86. V. Val’denberg, op. cit., pp. 267-268.


87. Kn. M. A. Obolenskij, Sobornaja gramota duxovenstva pravoslavnog vostočnoj cervki utverždajuščaja san carja (1850).


88. N. S. Čajev, art. cit., p. 23.





developing an apostolic tradition for itself, canonizing numerous saints; and at last, in 1589, its chief received the much-desired title of patriarch. [89] In architecture, literature, and even in the language the new political concepts were profoundly reflected.


Though it is not possible here to trace the development of the theory of the Third Rome, it should be added that, while in principle universalist, it exalted Russian piety and national sentiment, thus tending towards a national and religious particularism. This Muscovite particularism, foreign to Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, and hostile to those of Greece [90] no longer seemed to meet the exigencies of Russian politics in the second half of the seventeenth century. [91] For it was now a question of definitely winning over the Orthodox of Kiev (the old metropolitanate had entered into the obedience of Moscow in 1659); it was also a question of liberating the Christians of the East and this idea began to appear in the plans of the Muscovite government. [92]


The day that Patriarch Nikon (1605-1681) proclaimed himself Russian by birth but Greek by faith [93] the past of the Muscovite Church was condemned, and with it, Russian piety. The theory formulated by Philotheus seemed to lose its importance. Only the ‘Old Believers’ remained faithful to it, and for them the Third Rome, like the two preceding, had fallen into heresy, this time the Nikonian heresy. [94] Nikon was for them the precursor of the Antichrist, whom they were to discover in Peter the Great. Thus, in the eyes of the ‘Old Believers’ Moscow — the Third Rome — was transmuted from the Christian Empire into the Empire of Antichrist, and in this way they returned to the ideas of the Pskovians at the beginning of the sixteenth century, against which, as we have seen, Philotheus had reacted.


We shall briefly sketch here the place of the theory of Moscow the Third Rome in the ideology and national consciousness of the Muscovites in the sixteenth century. We possess several writings expressing this ideology. Some, different versions of the ‘Account of the Princes of Vladimir,’ [95] develop the theme of empire in justifying its translation by genealogies and the transmission of certain relics; others insist on the purity of Russian orthodoxy, equally proved



89. P. Miljukov, op. cit., n, 1, pp. 31 ff. D’jakonov, op. cit., p. 91. The formula of the Philotheus ‘Russia — Third Rome,’ has found its place in the Statute of the Patriarchate of Moscow, signed by the Patriarch Jeremy II of Constantinople (Sobranie gosudarstvennyx gramot i dogovorov, n, 97).


90. For the discussions with the Greeks on the subject of Muscovite customs, see Sočinenija Arsenija Suxanova in Čtenija of Moscow, 1894; on the occasionally antimuscovite attitude of the upper clergy of Kiev, who wished to maintain their obedience to Constantinople, see V. Ejgorn, O Snošenijax malorossijskogo duxovenstva s moskovskim pravitel’stvom, pp. 35, 62, 78 in Čtenija of Moscow, 1893, n.


91. N. S. Čajev (art. cit., p. 3) notes that the ecclesiastical reform of the seventeenth century was in accordance with Moscow’s foreign policy.


92. Putešestvie Antioxijskogo patriarxa Makarija, p. 171 in the Čtenija of Moscow, 1898, iv. A little later, in 1686, Moscow for the first time, joined a European coalition against the Turks. Cf. also Dr. Mošin, ‘Treći Rim i južni Slovene’ in the Rusko-jugoslavenski Almanah (Belgrade, 1934), p. 59.


93. N. Kapterev, Patriarx Nikon i car’ Alexej Mixailovič, i, 161.


94. Malinin (op. cit.), study, pp. 767-768) has reassembled some of the writings of the old-believers which are concerned with Moscow — the Third Rome.


95. About these legends see the already mentioned work of Ždanov.





by the transmission of relics, such as the celebrated white klobuk. These accounts, these legends, have their importance in particular domains, but they do not succeed in connecting the idea of the empire with that of the purity of the faith, or in justifying the translation and restoration of the empire at Moscow by its attachment to the true faith. However, it is just this that seems to us most characteristic of the new Muscovite national consciousness. That is why we consider the theory definitively formulated by Philotheus to occupy a central place in Muscovite ideology: it forms the core of the opinions developed by the Muscovites about their fatherland and erects them into a doctrine. To justify in Russian eyes, by scriptural and historical arguments (or at least by arguments held to be scriptural and historical), the translatio of the empire to Moscow and its renovatio — such is the significance of the theory of Moscow the Third Rome. [96]



University of Lille



96. N. S. Čajev also regards the theory of the Third Rome as being the foundation of Muscovite ideology. Cf. D’jakonov, op. cit., pp. 67 ff., and Istorija russkoj literatury, izd Akademii Nauk S.S.S.R., ii, 1, p. 304.



This article was ready for publication in 1947; since then two articles discussing the importance of the doctrine of Philotheus have appeared. O. Ogloblin (Moskovs’ka Teorija III Rimu, Munich, 1951) states, from the Ukrainian point of view, that Philotheus’ theory has become the official doctrine of Moscow. On the other hand, Maslennikov (‘Ideologiceskaja Bor’ba v Pskovskoj Literature v period obrazovanija russkogo centralizovannogo gosudarstva’ in Trudy otdela drevne-russkoj literatury, viii), following Lixačev (op. cit., pp. 100-104), denies it. We esteem also that it is exaggerated to qualify it ‘official.’ Its importance is more ideological than political; messianic and imperial, it is not really imperialistic. This theory includes renunciation of Constantinople — Maslennikov (art. cit., p. 201) brings the same argumentation as mine in note 72; cf. also Kizevetter, ‘Rossija i Južnoe Slavjanstvo v XIV-XVII vv.’ in Proslava na Osvoboditelnata Voina, 1877-78 g. (Sofia, 1927) — and becomes even embarrassing in the seventeenth century, on account of its too outspoken particularism. On Byzantine influence in Russia see D. Obolenskij, ‘Russia’s Byzantine Heritage in Oxford Slavonic Papers (1950), i. On relations between church and state see W. K. Medlin, Moscow and East Rome (Geneva, 1952).


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