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Orthodox Russia in Crisis
Church and Nation in the Time of Troubles
Honorable Mention for the Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize
“This book is an important contribution to the literature on seventeenth-century Russia, on the Orthodox Church, on political ideology in Muscovy, and on monastic economies.”—Russell E. Martin, Professor of History at Westminster College
"Isaiah Gruber’s new book offers a lively account and an exciting analysis of Russia’s “Time of Troubles,” 1598–1613—a period of dynastic collapse, social upheaval, and foreign invasion ... Gruber has written a riveting and original account of a fascinating time."—Valerie Kivelson, Catholic Historical Review
“Gruber’s book provides an excellent window on a seldom-researched subject and certainly contributes considerably to the historiography already extant on the Time of Troubles. It is also highly pertinent to the situation in contemporary Russia.” —European History Quarterly
A pivotal period in Russian history, the Time of Troubles of the early seventeenth century has taken on new resonance in the country’s post-Soviet search for new national narratives. The historical role of the Orthodox Church has emerged as a key theme in contemporary remembrances of this time—but what precisely was that role? For four centuries, no full-length treatment of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Time of Troubles has existed in any language. The first comprehensive study of the Church and religion during the Troubles, Orthodox Russia in Crisis reconstructs this tumultuous time, offering new interpretations of familiar episodes while delving deep into the archives to uncover a much fuller picture of the era.
Analyzing religious vision tales, monastic business records, and other contemporary documents, Isaiah Gruber argues that the economic activity of monasteries played a significant role in the origins and course of the Troubles and that a succession of coups and revolts forced Church ideologues to innovate politically. New justifications for power claimed that legitimacy derived not from heredity but from “the people” and from royal women. Such innovation, Gruber contends, helped to transform and crystallize the national mentality and “New Israel” ideology. Russia’s Church Schism a generation later would bear the unmistakable imprint of social and religious changes from the Troubles.
This book will appeal greatly to scholars and students of history, religion, and culture, as well as to all those interested in the historical roots of Russia’s current national ideology.
Isaiah Gruber holds a PhD in history from Georgetown University. He is currently a Research Associate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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