Northern Illinois University Press

The Travel Diary of Peter Tolstoi

A Muscovite in Early Modern Europe

Translated and Edited by Max J. Okenfuss

In 1627 Tsar Peter sent Peter Andreevich Tolstoi, a Russian nobleman, to Venice to study naval science. During a two-year stay he traveled widely in southern Europe, especially Italy, and recorded his observations in a diary. Tolstoi's diary offers a candid view of early-modern European culture as seen through the eyes of a Muscovite traveler, for whom the accomplishments and routines of Western Civilization were always new and exciting, often unbelievable, and sometimes incomprehensible.

During the course of his travels, Tolstoi described Warsaw, Vienna, Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice, and the island of Malta. A devout Orthodox Muscovite, he explored Italy both as a Christian pilgrim interested in religion in all its manifestations—from rituals to relics—and as a servitor who studied the naval vessels and fortifications of the Mediterranean world. In fresh and always frank observations, he describes the sacred shrine of St. Nicholas at Beri and the debaucheries of carnival in Venice; the election of a king in Poland and a university graduation in Padua; naval combat with the dreaded Turks upon the high seas and a public execution in Naples. Especially interesting are his descriptions of the art and artifacts of the Italian Renaissance, which he observes with scrupulous detail.

In this carefully annotated translation of Tolstoi's diary, Okenfuss captures the Muscovite's firsthand impressions of European culture with an immediacy no third-person history could match. In addition to revealing startling insights into the mind of a Russian traveler, the diary serves also as a unique guide to the art and life of the late Italian Renaissance.

(1989) 389 pp., illus.
ISBN-13: 978-0-87580-130-8
cloth $40.00

Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction
Weights and Measures
I - January 11, 1697–May 18, 1697
Moscow, Warsaw, Olomouc, The Empire
II - May 18, 1697–September 18, 1697
The Empire, Vienna, The Alps, Venice, Padua
III - September 26, 1697–May 29, 1698
Dalmatian Coast, Venice, Mila, Venice
IV - June 1, 1698–July 15, 1698
Dalmatia, Bari, Naples, Calabria
V - July 16, 1698–August 12, 1698
Malta, Sicily, Naples
VI - August 13, 1698–August 17, 1698
Rome VII - August 18, 1698–January 27, 1699
Rome, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Moscow

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-130-8
cloth $40.00