Anderson, M.S. "English Views of Russia in the 17th Century." The Slavonic and
East European Review 33.80 (1954): 140-60. JSTOR. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.
From the 1620's onwards, England's importance ceased with regards to Russia's relations with
Western Europe. Tsars Michael and Alexis saw the "constitutional and religious aspirations
which underlay the opposition to the king" as repugnant and incomprehensible, and
therefore impossible to regard the parliamentary regime as legitimate. Russia banished English
merchants from trade, inspired partly by the desire of the Tsar to punish "a regicide government
and people" (141). The decline of political and commercial contacts between the two countries
inevitably meant that English knowledge of Russia was minimal during this period. This lead
to generalized portraits of Russia, based on few true accounts of the realities of Russian life.
These portraits generally portray a backward and barbarous country and people. There are some
signs of changes in this perception towards the end of the 17th Century. Prince P.I. Potyomkin,
ambassador to England in 1681-2, showed some interest in the English stage and even had special
theatrical performances, including one of Shakespeare's Tempest, given for him before he departed.
English interest and respect of Russia grew more in the 18th Century, especially during the
reign of Peter I and his reform policies.
Bushkovitch, Paul. A Concise History of Russia. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. 72+. Print.
A Concise History of Russia. This book does not go into explicit details about what Russian
theatre was pre 1750, however, it does give helpful clues and little nods to what theater was
like during this time. It mentions Tsar Alekei and how during his reign that Artamon Matveev
sponsored a court theatre which brought over Baroque drama to Russia from the West. Empress
Anna established the first ever court theatre which featured and originated with a Commedia
dell'arte troupe and later expanded to French and German theater. After Anna, came Elizabeth
who had theatre performed twice a week in her court theatre. Johann Gregory, who
came from Germany, was a pastor who wrote plays for these Russian courts. During this time
Russian theatre reflected the theatre that was taking place in the west because of the push from
the monarch to establish relations with the western monarchs. This is a helpful resource for
starting research, leading to other points of interests and aspects to research.
Cherniavsky, Michael. "The Old Believers and the New Religion." Slavic Review 25.1(1966):
1-39. JSTOR. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.
This article discusses the Roskol, schism, between the Orthodox view and the Old Believers. This
would be a movement that lead to the a separation between the Church and the state. Until the 17th
century the Russian government was lead by the Tsar who was also doubled as the religious leader.
He was said to be elected and crowned by God. However, as unrest grew within the peasant
population in response to their mistreatment the Tsar was held responsible as the holder of absolute
power within the church and state. The religious issues were used to provide a platform on which
the importation Western culture and the enserfment of the peasants could be protested. This is
when the Old Believers, which represented the lower classes, began to gain momentum. Despite
the fact the Tsar Alexis was known as the most gracious tsar, he would be refused many of the
rights granted to the previous tsars. The Ulozhenie of 1649 was a the beginning of the
removal of Tsar Alexis' rights and was a symbolic indication of the movement to a secular state.
This was lead by Patriarch Nikon. He claimed that the priesthood was above the secular authority
and denied the Tsar any power within the Church. This was a considerable change in the
government of Russia. The Roskol would not only consume the 17th century but continue well
into the 18th century. This article follows change in the role of the tsar as well as religion in Russia
in the wake of the Roskol.
Kivelson, Valerie A. "The Devil Stole His Mind: The Tsar and the 1648 Moscow Uprising."
The American Historical Review 98.3 (1993): 733-56. JSTOR. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.
This article focuses on the 1648 uprising and Tsar Aleksei. Prior to the uprising there had been the
lower classes were experiencing increased taxes as the result of an austerity policy as well
as many other indirect taxes. On top of that, there was the withholding of monetary grants for
military servitors. Boris Morozov, Petr Trakhaniotov, and Nazarii Chistyi were responsible for
these financial burdens. The townsfolk of Moscow attempted to peacefully give their grievances
to Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich Romanov. He would hear nothing of it. This lead to a
violent bloodbath across Moscow. There were thousands of casualties and at least half the city
was left completely burned. After the twelve day rebellion, Tsar Aleksei attempted to
subdue the rebels, giving the appearance of victory. An assembly of gentry, merchants and
towns people were convened and created the Ulozhenie of 1649. This legislation
found common ground between the gentry and the townspeople. This rebellion occurred at
point in Russian history where the traditional ways of life were breaking down but the new structures
had not yet been formed. The rule of the tsars had been based on religious right.
Included in the tsar's responsibility was to guide their subjects in "piety, humility and justice."
As a result of this view of the Tsar, the townsfolk made the distinction between the good tsar and
his evil advisors. Once Tsar Aleksei refused the townsfolk's petition, this distinction dissolved.
This article breaks down the events of the 1648 uprising and the effect it had on the view of the tsar.
Malnick, Bertha. "The Origin and Early History of the Theatre in Russia." The Slavonic and East
European Review Vol. 19. 53/54 (1939-1940): 203-227. Print.
Malnick discusses Russian theatre history from the middle ages through to the mid 18th
century. Due to the length of this text is serves as merely an overview of the theatre that was
occurring in Russia performance prior to the established theatre in the mid 18th century.
Malnick discusses the Skomorokhi, who played an active role in the religious ceremonies of
the middle ages and in to the 17th century. They were singers and storytellers in the courts of Kiev
princes. The Skomorokhi gave monologues and improvised comedic dialogues that were
expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries to include elements of the scholastic and court drama.
The Church also developed miracle or mystery plays to combat the Catholic propaganda.
These were performed within the churches themselves. Pageants were also performed in
conjunction with the church. In these pagents the tsars and patriarchs played the main parts
and their attendants played the minor ones. Drama became common in academies. This
acted as one of the chief weapons of religious controversy. The Academies not only provided
religious ammunition but political as well. The Moscow Slavic Greco-Latin Academy was ordered
to create plays about the military victories of Peter I. Most plays use allegories to reflect political
events of the time. These political events were strongly linked to religion as the culture was. Many
of the earlier plays used as this time were of Jesuit origin and were adapted to fit their new context.
At first the plays were performed by aristocratic students, but in Ukraine, students were much
poorer. As a result the scholastic plays were adapted to fit their tastes, adding comic interludes
and choosing simpler scenes.
Whittaker, Cynthia H. "The Reforming Tsar: The Redefinition of Autocratic Duty
in Eighteenth Century Russia." Slavic Review 51.1 (1992): 77-98. JSTOR. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.
During the reign of Peter I (1682-1725), the role of the Tsar as ruler began to change. These changes
came along with other efforts to reform and advance Russia "along west[ern] European lines."
These efforts to modernize Russia extended to all aspects of life--economic, social, political, and
cultural. The role of the theatre in Russia would have come as part of these cultural changes.
The article focuses on the changing role of the Tsar to a "reforming tsar" and the affects of change and
westernization on the legitimacy and endurance of the Tsar as the central figure in Russian political
culture. The definition of the Tsar's role changed according to the changing definitions of leadership
in the west. In France, for example, "a ruler was to nurture the economy, foster the arts and sciences,
and raise the level of his country's civilization" (81). This is the type of ruler that Russia sought to have
established through the Tsar. Peter's reign marked the beginning of this change. Reform was to
become the central driving duty of the Tsar. Peter got rid of the religious moorings previously held by
the Tsar. In his view, people suffered in ignorance until their leader could open their eyes to the
arts, sciences, and a more civilized way of life. To him, becoming a great and powerful country meant
having an army, taxes to support that army, bureaucrats to collect those taxes, economic prosperity
to increase the tax base and arts and sciences to improve that process and keep it in motion. With
Peter's death, the progressive movement he began struggled. Upon Catherine II's ascension
to the throne in 1762, this work of Peter would be continued. She was initially championed by
playwright and scholar Sumarokov, in whose writings we see an initial admiration of her as
"mother of Russia." But throughout her reign, admiration changed to alarm, as is demonstrated in his
plays of the 1770's: Dmitrii the Pretender and Mstislav, which warned of the inevitable degeneration
of unlimited monarchs into tyrants. There are other references to Russian writers who commented
through their works on the role of the Tsar in Russian society, but none before 1750.
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