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Reviewed by:
  • Kul′tura i iskusstvo v epokhu peremen: Rossiia semnadtsatogo stoletiia, and: Razriad v 185 godu, and: Literaturnaia kul′tura Rossii: Rannee Novoe vremia, and: Zakat Moskovskogo tsarstva: Tsarskii dvor kontsa XVII veka
  • Paul Bushkovitch
Irina Leonidovna Buseva-Davydova, Kul′tura i iskusstvo v epokhu peremen: Rossiia semnadtsatogo stoletiia [Culture and Art in an Age of Changes: Russia in the 17th Century]. 284 pp., illus. Moscow: Indrik, 2008. ISBN-13 978-5857594391.
Ol′ga Vladimirovna Novokhatko, Razriad v 185 godu [The Razriad in 1676/77]. 640 pp. Moscow: Pamiatniki istoricheskoi mysli, 2007. ISBN 5884512146.
Lidiia Ivanovna Sazonova, Literaturnaia kul′tura Rossii: Rannee Novoe vremia [Russia's Literary Culture: The Early Modern Period]. 894 pp. Moscow: Iazyki slavianskikh kul′tur, 2006. ISBN-13 978-5955101569.
Pavel Vladimirovich Sedov, Zakat Moskovskogo tsarstva: Tsarskii dvor kontsa XVII veka [The Sunset of the Muscovite Tsardom: The Tsar's Court in the Late 17th Century]. 604 pp. St. Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2006. ISBN-13 978-5860075177.

For most of the last half-century, Russian history in the 17th century has languished in almost total neglect in Russia itself. Before the Revolution, the Time of Troubles was the object of considerable attention, most famously from S. F. Platonov, but the ensuing decades also came in for their share of studies.1 Soviet historians, in contrast, were not interested, apart from the episodes of urban and rural revolt. Even so, I. V. Stepanov's massive study of the Razin revolt remained unfinished, and the first century of serfdom in Russia remained largely unknown: with few exceptions, agrarian historians [End Page 161] started with the 18th century.2 Thus the empirical basis of 17th-century history remained largely as it stood in 1917. By contrast, a distinguished constellation of Soviet historians devoted their scholarly lives to the 16th century, a period that they believed revolved around the reign and personality of Ivan the Terrible. The fashion for the 16th century arose in the 1950s, a time when Ivan the Terrible seemed a compelling choice. In case the reader missed the point, the young R. G. Skrynnikov called his 1969 book Oprichnyi terror (The Oprichnina Terror).3 The result was an enormous and highly sophisticated literature but one that stopped around 1604. Thus the first Romanovs and their time became the property of Western Slavists: Robert Crummey, Nancy Kollmann, Hans-Joachim Torke, Andreas Kappeler, the author of this review, and more recently Valerie Kivelson, Brian Davies, Carol Stevens, Georg Michels, André Berelowitch, and others.4 In other fields, the history of literature and art, Soviet scholars did carry out research on the 17th century, if not as much as for earlier or later periods. A. N. Robinson and his students of Old Russian literature and several art historians such as V. G. Briusova kept the subject alive and made important contributions.5 Needless to say, this situation has been rapidly changing, as the four volumes under review demonstrate. All four of them tackle major issues and do it at considerable length. They fill in many gaps, but much more than that: all of them implicitly or explicitly attempt to rethink the period and try to escape from the historiographical trap of reducing the era to the origins of Peter's transformation of Russia.

This recent literature is about power and culture in the center, in Moscow, among the court elite and central government. Novokhatko and Buseva-Davydova, in very different ways, do raise the issues of that central elite's relationship to the provinces and even lesser folk in Moscow, but ultimately it is the center that is their theme as well. Such a choice is no accident, for the underlying theme for all four is change—political, administrative, and cultural—and that change came from the center, not from the periphery or the lesser orders of society (how much and what sort of participation there was beyond the elite is another question). These are very solid studies, for the kind of detail that historians of the 16th or 18th centuries take for granted has never before been available. The narrative of political history was not [End Page 162] known, and still is not for the whole period...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-5000
Print ISSN
1531-023x
Pages
pp. 161-172
Launched on MUSE
2010-01-30
Open Access
No
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