CHRISTIAN POWER IN THE AGE OF REASON

From the Fall of Constantinople to the French Revolution (1453-1789)

 

 

Vladimir Moss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Vladimir Moss, 2004


 

CONTENTS

 

 

Introduction.………………………………………………………………...4

 

Part I. The Age of Protest (1453-1689)

 

1. The West: The Assault on Authority…….……………………………7

Liberty: the Root Idea of Post-Schism Europe – Renaissance Humanism - Jewish Rationalism - Protestant Rationalism – Luther on Church and State - Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More – Luther on Church and State - The Counter-Reformation – The Church of England - Holland: the First Capitalist State - The Anglican Monarchy - The Old Testament in the New World – The Rise of Parliament – The Divine Right of Kings - English Radicalism – The Killing of the King - The Scientific Outlook

 

2. The East: Muscovite Russia…..……………………………....………103

The Struggle for Romania - The Rise of the Muscovite Great Princes - The Path to the Third Rome – The Heresy of the Judaisers – Possessors and Non-Possessors – St. Maximus the Greek - Ivan the Terrible: (1) The Orthodox Tsar – Ivan the Terrible: (2) The Bloodthirsty Tyrant – The Verdict on Ivan - The Moscow Patriarchate – Poles, Cossacks and Jews – Orthodoxy and the Unia - Boris Godunov - The Time of Troubles – The Hereditary Principle – Tsar, Patriarch and People –The Schism of the Old Ritualists – Patriarch Nicon of Moscow – Patriarch Nicon on Church-State Relations – The Rebellion of the Streltsy – The Antichrist in Turkey

 

Part II. The Age of Enlightenment (1689-1789)

 

3. The West: Despots and Philosophers………………….……………233

Hobbes’ Leviathan – Locke’s Theory of the Social Contract - A Critique of Social Contract Theory - French Absolutism – The Idea of Religious Toleration - Capitalism and the Jews – Sir Isaac Newton - England: the Conservative Enlightenment – France: the Radical Enlightenment – Enlightened Despotism – Hume: the Irrationalism of Rationalism – Kant and Schiller: The Reaffirmation of Will - Hamann and Herder: the Denial of Universalism - Rousseau and the General Will – Tikhomirov on the General Will - Two Concepts of Freedom – Freemasonry: (1) The European Element – Freemasonry: (2) The Jewish Element – Freemasonry: (3) The Satanist Element - The American Revolution – The American Idea - The American Revolution and Religious Toleration – The Enlightenment Programme: a Critique

 

4. The East: The Petersburg Empire….………………………...….…...390

From Holy Rus’ to Great Russia - Peter and the West – Peter’s Leviathan – Tsar Peter and the Orthodox East – Was Peter an Orthodox Tsar? – Orthodoxy and the Austrian Empire  - The German Persecution of Orthodoxy – Catherine II - Pugachev’s Rebellion - Poland: Nation without a State – Catherine, the Jews and the Masons – Critics of Absolutism – Russia and the West


 

INTRODUCTION

 

As free, and not using your liberty

As a cloak of maliciousness,

 But as the servants of God.

I Peter 2.16.

 

     This book is designed as a successor to my previous book, The Mystery of Christian Power, which studied the theory and practice of Christian Statehood in the ancient and medieval worlds until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. The present volume aims to take this story on into the early modern period, through the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment, to the threshold of the French Revolution.

 

     The Renaissance-Reformation represents the first major turning point in the history of the West since its falling away from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in the eleventh century. It purported to free men from the fetters of medieval scholasticism, to bring the light of reason to bear on every aspect of human life, and even the revelations of religion, and to raise the common man to that potential that he would supposedly be capable of achieving if he were not enslaved to the tyranny of popes and kings. It was not, however, a revolutionary movement in the sense that it overthrew tradition in toto and in principle. On the contrary, in order to correct what it saw as the distortions of the Middle Ages, it appealed to the authority of the still more ancient past, the past of pagan Greece and Rome and the early Church. And as late as the English revolution in the mid-seventeenth century both sides passionately and sincerely appealed to arguments drawn from Holy Scripture. In other words, it was a believing age, a Christian age, even if a heretical one; and in Muscovite Russia there still existed one of the great and right-believing Christian kingdoms.

 

     However, the Enlightenment, the second major turning-point in post-Orthodox Western history, took a decisive step further. No authority, whether pagan, patristic, scholastic or scriptural, was held sacred or immune from the ravages of unfettered reason. And this rampant rationalism, with “liberty” as its slogan, begat the first truly “great” revolution, the French, which for the first time, openly and triumphantly, tried to écraser l’infâme of Christianity and replace it with a new, revolutionary religion.

 

     As in my earlier book, I have found it useful to construct my narrative in pairs of chapters, with one chapter in each pair describing developments in the Orthodox East and the other - in the Catholic and Protestant West. The chapters on the East describe the unification of the Russian lands around Muscovy, the gradual ascendancy of the secular over the ecclesiastical power, and the abolition of the patriarchate and the symphony of powers under Peter the Great and his successors. The chapters on the West describe the impact of the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment on ideas about Church-State relations, and the pulsating struggle for dominance between absolutist and democratic polities. I describe developments in the West first, because in this period, by comparison with the medieval period, the political, military and cultural – but not spiritual - pre-eminence passes from East to West, with the East striving to guard its Orthodox heritage from invasion from the West. Sadly, with the passing of time this heritage becomes more and more polluted with foreign elements, so that the distinction between the truly Christian civilization of the East and the pseudo-Christian one of the West becomes less and less clear-cut. But the essential difference between the two remains, and remains the main theme of my book.

 

     I have made use of a large number of sources and authors, from which I should like to mention particularly L.A. Tikhomirov, M.V. Zyzykin, C.S. Lewis and Sir Isaiah Berlin.

 

     Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us! Amen.

 

The Ascension of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2004.

East House, Beech Hill, Mayford, Woking. England.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART I. THE AGE OF PROTEST (1453-1689)


 

1. THE WEST: THE ASSAULT ON AUTHORITY

 

The chief gift of nature… is freedom.

Leonardo da Vinci.

 

He who becomes master of a city accustomed to freedom and does
not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed by it, for in rebellion it
has always the watchword of liberty and its ancient privileges as a
rallying point, which neither time nor benefits will ever cause it to
forget. And whatever you may do or provide against, they never forget
that name or their privileges unless they are disunited or dispersed,

but at every chance they immediately rally to them.
Machiavelli, The Prince, chapter V.

 

It is lawful and hath been held so through all ages

 for anyone who has the power to call to account a Tyrant or wicked King,

 and after due conviction to depose and put him to death.

John Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.

 

     With the fall of the New Rome of Constantinople in 1453, the last incarnation of the traditional concept of Romanity (Romanitas in Latin, Rwmeiosunh in Greek), that is, of the religio-political unity of the Christian commonwealth, disappeared from its ancient homeland, the Mediterranean basin (its revival in the north, in Russia, is the subject of the next chapter). It was replaced by the absolutist empire of the Ottomans, one of a trio of absolutist Muslim empires – the others were Safevid Persia and Moghul India – that reached their peak in the coming century. In the West, meanwhile, the papist-feudal corruption of the traditional concept of Romanity which had prevailed in the medieval period was also breaking down. The so-called “symphony of powers” between the Roman papacy and the Holy Roman Empire of the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs had never been a reality; and now both the papacy was under attack and the empire was a shadow of its former self. Europe (we shall use this term from now on to designate only Western Europe) seemed on the verge of disintegration; and the future seemed to belong to the much more populous, united and by no means unsophisticated absolutist empires to the East – the three Muslim empires of Western and Southern Asia, and the Confucian empire of the Ming dynasty in Eastern Asia.

 

     But Europe recovered. Not only did the Europeans hold their own against the Muslim onslaught: by the eighteenth century they were making great inroads into the older civilizations of the East – and this in spite of constant internecine warfare in the European homeland. The causes of the emergence of this extraordinarily dynamic – and extraordinarily destructive – European civilization is the subject of this chapter.

 

Liberty: The Root Idea of Post-Schism Europe

 

     With the re-acquaintance of the West with the political ideas of antiquity during the Renaissance, the way was open for the development of a completely new theory of politics, a theory based, not on theology and the order ordained by God, but on nature, specifically fallen human nature, with the aim of creating a new order that would satisfy the demands of that nature. Of course, the Christian (in the broad sense of that word) understanding of politics did not disappear overnight; and the new era was distinguished both by fervent attempts to justify revolutionary and democratic forms of government on the basis of Holy Scripture and by the explicitly religious and anti-democratic theory known as the Divine Right of Kings. Nevertheless, the general tendency, which began in the Renaissance (if not in the 13th century) and has continued to develop vigorously until the modern day, has been to disconnect politics from religion – or, at any rate, from the Christian religion – with enormous consequences for the theory and practice of government.

 

     Just as peace among men – secular peace, the Pax Romana – had been the key ideal of the Roman empire, and peace with God – that is, right faith and the works of faith – the ideal of the Christian Roman Empire, so liberty has been the goal of European civilisation from the Renaissance to the present day. “Imagine,” writes Fernand Braudel, “that it might be possible to assemble the sum total of our knowledge of European history from the fifth century to the present, or perhaps to the eighteenth century, and to record it (if such a recording were conceivable) in an electronic memory. Imagine that the computer was then asked to indicate the one problem which recurred most frequently, in time and space, throughout this lengthy history. Without a doubt, that problem is liberty, or rather liberties. The word liberty is the operative word.

 

     “The very fact that, in the twentieth-century conflict ideologies, the Western world has chosen to call itself ‘the free world’, however mixed its motives, is both fair and appropriate in view of Europe’s history during these many centuries.

 

     “The word liberty has to be understood in all its connotations, including such pejorative senses as in ‘taking liberties’. All liberties, in fact, threaten each other: one limits another, and later succumbs to a further rival. This process has never been peaceful; yet it is one of the secrets that explain Europe’s progress.”[1]

 

     Of course, freedom was an important concept in antiquity, too: the Greeks defeated the Persians in the name of freedom, and Brutus killed Caesar in the name of freedom. And the revival of its importance in the Renaissance owed much to the general revival of the ideas and values of pagan antiquity caused by the flight of classical scholars from Byzantium to the West after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. For it is a sad fact that what the West imbibed from Byzantium was not so much its eternally valid and valuable concepts of Orthodoxy and Romanity, as the pagan ideas of the civilization it replaced.

 

     However, there were several other important factors that made the idea of freedom of such importance at the beginning of the modern era. First there was the gradual increase in economic freedom. Thus beginning already in the twelfth century we see the rise of free crafts, guilds and lodges (such as the stonemasons’ lodges, which developed into Freemasonry). These first chinks in the prison of feudal servitude appeared in the towns, which consequently began to acquire independent or semi-independent status, especially in North Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

 

     The liberty of the towns was by no means an unmixed blessing. “Egoistic, vigilant and ferocious, towns were ready to defend their liberties against the rest of the world, often with very great courage and sometimes without any concern for the liberties of the others. Bloodthirsty wars between cities were the forerunner of the national wars to come.”[2]

 

     Now the towns were built on commerce, and commerce was built on the commercial contract. Therefore it is not surprising that the dominant theory of politics developed by town-dwellers came to be the theory of the social contract. Just as the basic form of relationship between men in the Middle Ages had been the feudal one between lord and vassal, which was reflected in the medieval feudal theory of politics (i.e. the pope is the supreme lord, and the princes are his vassals), so the basic form of relationship between men in the early modern period became (although not immediately and by no means everywhere) the more egalitarian one between buyer and seller, which was correspondingly reflected in the more egalitarian and exchange-based theories of the social contract: that is, the people have entered into a contract with their rulers whereby they buy security in exchange for obedience. [3]

 

     It was especially in England, and a little later in France and Spain, that the idea of political freedom emerged in the context of the king’s attempts to define his relationship with other centres of power within his kingdom, notably the Church and the barons. Important instruments of his power were his courts of justice, to which both churchmen and barons resorted to settle disputes, and the office of the exchequer, which imposed taxes on all estates of the land. But these other estates sought to protect themselves from the ever-increasing demands of the exchequer, whence Magna Carta and the first rudimentary parliaments.

 

     W.M. Spellman writes: “Ideally, the medieval monarch was expected to ‘live on his own’ or manage the affairs of the kingdom on the basis of revenues derived from his estates and from his traditional feudal prerogatives. In such a context, monarchs who attempted to wrest monies from their leading subjects without their consent, or for purposes at odds with the priorities of the landed elite, found themselves locked in stalemate and in some cases facing direct resistance. Developing out of the feudal compact where the vassal’s performance of specific services was exchanged for royal protection and the use of land, kings could not arbitrarily usurp the property rights of their leading subjects without serious consequences. Most often in the feudal setting the king called together his leading vassals in order to sollicit their advice and support.  These unpretentious meetings, alternatively called colloquia, concilia, conventus, curiae or tractatus, featured both fluid membership and varied agendas. And as financial, military, economic and administrative problems became more complex, larger and more structured assemblies were called by the monarch.

 

     “Formal representative assemblies emerged in most European countries – Spain, Sicily, Hungary, England, France, the Scandinavian countried, various German principalities – during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries for a number of related reasons, but the key involved the need for monarchs to access sources of wealth not under their direct control as feudal lords. Increasingly after 1000 the cost of pursuing wider military objectives grew substantially across Europe. This was particularly true in the case of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century wars between England and France, where monarchs on both sides were pressed repeatedly to find additional sources of income.

 

     “The word parlamentum was first coined in the thirteenth century, and by that time it was being applied to meetings of the unelected feudal council. Both the economic and social structures of European kingdoms were quite unique in comparison to the other major world civilizations, where nothing like Western parliaments ever emerged. Comparatively speaking, only in Europe were power and wealth distributed in a fairly diffuse fashion. The basic structure of medieval parliaments, including as they did representatives of clergy, nobles and commoners from towns and cities, was reflective of this important distribution of income and land. It was in this context that the English king’s royal council, for example, normally composed of important churchmen and aristocrats, expanded during the course of the thirteenth century to include new urban elites for the purpose of gaining consent to special taxation.”[4]

 

     Of course, the idea that politics was based on a contract between rulers and ruled did not immediately bring real political freedom in its train. On the contrary, at the beginning of our period the trend was in the opposite direction, towards absolutism, the idea that the ruler is under no obligations to his people or to any human institution.  As the Wars of the Roses came to an end in England and France, and the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand united Castile and Aragon in Spain, these countries developed powerful monarchies that were little beholden to their fledgling national parliaments. The boundaries between states, which had been somewhat blurred by the feudal order, became sharper and more concentrated territorially. This led to the growth of nationalism around the person of the monarch, although this feeling was still covered with a cloak of religiosity, as Erasmus complained: “For in France they say God is on the French side and they can never be overcome that have God for their protector; in England and Spain the cry is, the war is not the King’s but God’s.”[5]

 

     In the case of the Latin monarchies, this religiosity, and the specific obligations still felt towards the papacy, kept the growth of absolutism somewhat in check. But even among the Protestant monarchies absolutism could never be as absolute as it was in the non-Christian East. For, as we have seen, the idea of contract, of rights and obligations, and therefore of being absolved (absolutus) or not absolved from certain obligations, was implanted in European man from his feudal past. For centuries European history had been riven by conflicts over rights: the rights of popes as opposed to the rights of emperors, the rights of lords as opposed to the rights of vassals, the rights of kings as opposed to the rights of barons and burghers. And the rapid development of law, both ecclesiastical and royal, in the medieval period had accentuated the concept of individual or human rights generally. Moreover, Protestant kings, though absolved, unlike their Catholic colleagues, from obligation to a trans-national religious institution, still felt obliged, as believers in a believing society, to defend the faith of their subjects. But this meant that the idea of religious freedom, and of the closely related ideas of freedom of the mind and conscience, was slower in developing than those of political or economic freedom, with the result that the early modern period was a period of great religious intolerance.

 

     However, the seeds of the idea of religious freedom, too, had already been sown - in the scholastic and conciliar movements of the later Middle Ages, and in heretical movements such as the French Albigensians, the English Lollards and the Czech Hussites. It was given a further important impulse in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as a result of the spirit of inquiry let loose by the Renaissance. And when religious passions began to cool in the late seventeenth century, the idea of religious freedom came into its own, with rulers changing their role from prosecutors of the national religious idea to preservers of the religious peace among their multiconfessional subjects. In fact, we can already see the beginnings of this transition in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, who chose the via media of Anglicanism in order to keep the religious peace among her subjects…

 

     The period under discussion (1453-1689) was an epoch of greatly increasing complexity and variety in European culture. The dominant ideas of medieval Europe had been basically two: Catholicism and Feudalism, as in the earlier period there had been two: Orthodoxy and Autocracy. But any list of the dominant ideas of early modern Europe must include, in addition to these, the various ideas of economic, social, political and religious freedom mentioned above, together with perhaps the most revolutionary idea of all – the all-sufficiency of scientific method for the finding of truth.

 

     This extreme cultural richness and diversity explains in part why Europe, under the influence of these new libertarian ideas, did not move immediately to more democratic forms of government, but even evolved despotic governments more powerful than any seen in medieval times, such as the England of Elizabeth I, the Spain of Philip II or the France of Louis XIV. The point is, as K.N. Leontiev has explained, that cultural richness and diversity require a strong autocratic power to hold them together and give them form, as it were. “As long as there are estates, as long as provinces are not similar, as long as education is different in various levels of society, as long as claims are not identical, as long as tribes and religions are not levelled in a general indifferentism, a more or less centralized power is a necessity.”[6] It was the French revolution of 1789 that, by making the status of the bourgeois “middle man” the standard for all, brought in a new, more simplified, but less rich and diverse age, the age of democracy and the common man….

 

Renaissance Humanism

 

     But before the age of the common man, there came the age of man as such, the age of Renaissance humanism…

 

     “The Renaissance,” writes Norman Davies, “did not merely refer to the burgeoning interest in classical art and learning, for such a revival had been gathering pace ever since the twelfth century. Nor did it involve either a total rejection of medieval values or a sudden return to the world view of Greece and Rome. Least of all did it involve the conscious abandonment of Christian belief. The term renatio or ‘rebirth’ was a Latin calque for a Greek theological term, palingenesis, used in the sense of ‘spiritual rebirth’ or ‘resurrection from the dead’. The essence of the Renaissance lay not in any sudden rediscovery of classical civilisation but rather in the use which was made of classical models to test the authority underlying conventional taste and wisdom. It is incomprehensible without reference to the depths of disrepute into which the medieval Church, the previous fount of all authority, had fallen. In this the Renaissance was part and parcel of the same movement which resulted in religious reforms. In the longer term, it was the first stage in the evolution which led via the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution to the Enlightenment. It was the spiritual force which cracked the mould of medieval civilisation, setting in motion the long process of disintegration which gradually gave birth to ‘modern Europe’.

 

     “In that process, the Christian religion was not abandoned. But the power of the Church was gradually corralled within the religious sphere: the influence of religion increasingly limited to the realm of private conscience. As a result the speculations of theologians, scientists, and philosophers, the work of artists and writers, and the policies of princes were freed from the control of a Church with monopoly powers and ‘totalitarian’ pretensions. The prime quality of the Renaissance has been defined as ‘independence of mind’. Its ideal was a person who, by mastering all branches of art and thought, need depend on no outside authority for the formation of knowledge, tastes, and beliefs. Such a person was l’uomo universale, the ‘complete man’.

 

     “The principal product of the new thinking lay in a growing conviction that humanity was capable of mastering the world in which it lived. The great Renaissance figures were filled with self-confidence. They felt that God-given ingenuity could, and should, be used to unravel the secrets of God’s universe; and that, by extension, man’s fate on earth could be controlled and improved…

 

     “Humanism is a label given to the wider intellectual movement of which the New Learning was both precursor and catalyst. It was marked by a fundamental shift from the theocratic or God-centred world-view of the Middles Ages to the anthropocentric or man-centred view of the Renaissance. Its manifesto may be seen to have been written by Pico’s treatise On the Dignity of Man[7]; and, in time, it diffused all branches of knowledge and art. It is credited with the concept of human personality, created by a new emphasis on the uniqueness and worth of individuals. It is credited with the birth of history, as the study of the processes of change, and hence of the notion of progress; and it is connected with the stirrings of science – that is, the principle that nothing should be taken as true unless it can be tried and demonstrated. In religious thought, it was a necessary precondition for Protestant emphasis on the individual conscience. In art, it was accompanied by a renewed interest in the human body and in the uniqueness of human faces. In politics it gave emphasis to the idea of the sovereign state as opposed to the community of Christendom, and hence to the beginnings of modern nationality. The sovereign nation-state is the collective counterpart of the autonomous human person.

 

     “Both in its fondness for pagan antiquity and in its insistence on the exercise of man’s critical faculties, Renaissance humanism contradicted the prevailing modes and assumptions of Christian practice. Notwithstanding its intentions, traditionalists believed that it was destructive of religion, and ought to have been restrained. Five hundred years later, when the disintegration of Christendom was far more advanced, it has been seen by many Christian theologians as the source of all the rot…”[8]

 

     Thus the Thomist scholar Étienne Gilson defined Renaissance humanism as the Middle Ages “not plus humanity but minus God”. This definition needs to be heavily qualified. On the one hand, as the Reformers were to point out with vehemence, medieval Christianity in the West was often far from fervent or profound, being corrupt both in doctrine and in works. And on the other hand, the Renaissance led naturally into the era of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, which was full of religious passion, moral earnestness and doctrinal enquiry. Nevertheless, in essence one must agree with Braudel’s verdict that humanism’s “acute awareness of humanity’s vast and varied potential prepared the way, in the fullness of time, for all the revolutions of modern times, including atheism”.[9]

 

     Again, Braudel writes: “The intellectual ferment of the Renaissance, and that of the Reformation in so far as it raised the principle of individual interpretation of revealed truth, laid the bases for freedom of conscience. Renaissance humanism preached respect for the greatness of the human being as an individual: it stressed personal intelligence and ability. Virtù, in fifteenth-century Italy, meant not virtue but glory, effectiveness, and power. Intellectually, the ideal was l’uomo universale as described by Leon Battista Alberti – an all-rounder himself. In the seventeenth century, with Descartes, a whole philosophical system stemmed from Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I exist) – individual thought.  The philosophical importance thus attached to the individual coincided with the abandonment of traditional values…”[10]

 

     From an Orthodox point of view, Renaissance humanism represents a revival of paganism in a Christian guise. This is especially evident in the arts sponsored by the Renaissance popes, and in the popes’ own style of life. Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov writes: “In modern times the pagan life appeared first of all in the bosom of papism; the pagan feelings and taste of the papists were expressed with particular vividness in the application of the arts to the subjects of religion, in painted and sculpted representations of the saints, in their Church singing and music, in their religious poetry. All their schools bear upon themselves the mark of sinful passions, especially the love of pleasure; they have neither the feeling of simplicity, nor the feelings of purity and spirituality. Such are their Church music and singing. Their poet, in depicting the liberation of Jerusalem and the Lord’s Sepulchre, did not flinch from evoking the muse; he sang of Sion in one breath with Halicon, from the muse he passed on to the Archangel Gabriel. The infallible popes, these new idols of Rome, present in themselves images of debauchery, tyranny, atheism and blasphemy against all that is holy. The pagan life with its comedy and tragedy, its dancing, its rejection of shame and decency, its fornication and adultery and other idol-worshipping practices, was resurrected first of all in Rome under the shadow of its gods, the popes, and thence poured out over the whole of Europe.”[11]

 

     Thus Pope Alexander VI, writes Lev Tikhomirov, “had a string of lovers. In vain did Savanorola thunder against him. Neither the Pope, nor his ‘beautiful Julia’ paid any attention to him. At every Church feast Julia appeared as the lawful wife of the Pope, and when a son was born to her, the Pope immediately recognized him, as he also recognized his other children. His son, Cesare Borgia, was well-known for fratricide. The daughter of the Pope, Lucrecia, quarreled with her husband because of her amorous relationships with her own brothers. Of course, Alexander Borgias are not common in the human race, but unbelief, debauchery and the exploitation of religion for filling one’s pockets shamed the Roman Catholic hierarchy too often. Protestantism itself arose because of the most shameless use of indulgences, which upset whole masses of people who had any religious education.

 

     “Of course, sincere Christians were offended by such phenomena and protested. An example is Savanorola, whom Alexander Borgia finally killed through torture and burning as a supposed heretic. However, among people protesting and striving for a true Christian life there often gradually developed heretical thought, which is natural when one has broken from the Church… Other Christians, without entering upon a useless open battle, departed into secret societies, hoping to live in a pure environment and gradually prepare the reform of Christian practice. However, departure from the Church, albeit not open, did not fail to affect them, too. These societies could easily be joined both by heretics and by enemies of Christianity who hid this enmity on the grounds of a criticism of truly shocking behaviour. All these protesting elements were willingly joined by the Jews, who found it easy gradually to pervert the originally Christian feelings of the participants…”[12]

 

     Archbishop Averky of Syracuse has emphasized the dual character of the modern quest for freedom – both Christian protest and antichristian rebellion. He considered the epoch of the “Renaissance” to be “a reaction to the perverted Christianity of the West” since the fall of the papacy in the eleventh century. But at the same time it “was in essence a denial of Christianity and a return to the ideals of paganism. It proclaimed the cult of a strong, healthy, beautiful human flesh, and to the spirit of Christian humility it opposed the spirit of self-opinion, self-reliance, and the deification of human 'reason'.

 

     "As a protest against perverted Christianity, on the soil of the same humanistic ideal that recognised 'reason' as the highest criterion of life, there appeared in the West a religious movement which received the name of 'Protestantism'. Protestantism with its countless branches of all kinds of sects not only radically distorted the whole teaching of true Christianity, but also rejected the very dogma of the Church, placing man himself as his own highest authority, and even going so far as to deny faith in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Church.

 

     "Puffed-up human pride finally falls completely away from God, and begins boldly to deny even the very existence of God, and man proclaims himself to be as it were a god. Seized with pride, self-opinion and reliance on his own limitless powers, possibilities and capacities, man brought up on the ideals of the 'Renaissance' no longer sees any obligation for himself to strive for the spiritual perfection enjoined by the Gospel, and by a natural progression descends deeper and deeper into the abyss of spiritual fall and moral corruption. Into the foreground there steps the service of the flesh, as a consequence of which spiritual demands are more and more stifled, suppressed and, finally, so as once and for all to finish with the unpleasant voice of conscience which lives in the spirit of man, the spirit itself is declared to be non-existent.

 

     "In this way, there appears 'materialism' - a natural child of 'humanism', a natural and logical development of its idea. The ideal of the full stomach, covered by the raucous 'doctrine' going by the name of 'the ideal of social justice', 'social righteousness', became the highest ideal of humanity which had denied Christ. And this is understandable! The so-called 'social question' could not have taken hold if people had remained faithful to true Christianity incarnate in life.

 

     "On the soil of materialism, in its turn, there naturally grew, as a strictly logical consequence, the doctrines of 'Socialism' and 'Marxism-Communism'. Humanism and materialism, having denied the spiritual principle in man, proclaimed man himself to be a 'god' and legitimised human pride and animal egoism as self-sacrificing, and came to the conclusion that savage struggle should be made the law of human life, on the soil of the constant conflict of interests of egoistical human beings. As a result of this so-called 'struggle for existence', stronger, cleverer, craftier people would naturally begin to constrain and oppress the less strong, less clever and less crafty. The law of Christ, which commands us to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6.2), and not to please ourselves (Acts 15.29), but to love one's neighbour as oneself (Matthew 22.39), was expelled from life. And so so-called 'social evil' and 'social injustices' began to increase and multiply, together with the 'social ulcers' of society. And since life was made more and more intolerable, as a consequence of the ever-increasing egoism and violence of people towards each other, there was naturally some reason to think about establishing for all a single tolerable and acceptable order of life. Hence 'Socialism', and then its extreme expression, 'Communism', became fashionable doctrines, which promised people deliverance from all 'social injustices' and the establishment on earth of a peaceful and serenely paradisal life, in which everyone would be happy and content. But these teachings determined to cure the ulcers of human society by unsuitable means. They did not see that the evil of contemporary life is rooted in the depths of the human soul which has fallen away from the uniquely salvific Gospel teaching, and naively thought that it would be enough to change the imperfect, in their opinion, structure of political and social life for there to be immediately born on earth prosperity for all, and life would become paradise. For this inevitable, as they affirmed, and beneficial change, the more extreme Socialists, as, for example, the Communists, even proposed violent measures, going so far as the shedding of blood and the physical annihilation of people who did not agree with them. In other words: they thought to conquer evil by evil, this evil being still more bitter and unjust because of their cruelty and mercilessness.

 

     "'The Great French Revolution', which shed whole rivers of human blood, was the first of their attempts. It clearly demonstrated that men are powerless to build their life on earth without God, and to what terrible consequences man is drawn by his apostasy from Christ and His saving teaching."[13]

 

Jewish Rationalism

 

     The most important of the various kinds of freedom proclaimed at the Renaissance was the idea of the freedom and autonomy of the human mind, the belief that the human mind and human reason do not need to be checked against any higher authority, which belief is known as Rationalism. Rationalism came in at least three forms: Jewish, Catholic and Protestant. If the Middle Ages saw the flowering of Catholic rationalism, the early Modern Age saw the flowering of Jewish and Protestant rationalism and their gradual merging into one by the time of the French Revolution.

 

     The origins of Jewish rationalism may be traced to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Only three months before, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, having united Aragon and Castile by their marriage, had conquered Granada in the south to complete the reconquest of Spain for the Cross. “With deep emotion,” writes Karen Armstrong, “the crowd watched the Christian banner raised ceremonially upon the city walls and, as the news broke, bells pealed triumphantly all over Europe, for Granada was the last Muslim stronghold in [Western] Christendom. The Crusades against Islam in the Middle East had failed, but at least the Muslims had been flushed out of Europe. In 1499, the Muslim inhabitants of Spain were given the option of conversion to Christianity or deportation, after which, for a few centuries, Europe would become Muslim-free.” [14]

 

      However, the reconquest of Muslim Spain brought in its train a large number of Jews, who had occupied important posts under the Moors. At first the Spaniards tried to convert the Jews to Christianity by force. However, many of these conversos – or, as they were less politely known, marranos (“pigs”), were suspected of continuing to practise the Jewish faith in secret, which led to riots by the “old” Christians against the “new”. So in 1480 the Inquisition was called in  to determine the truth by means of torture. However, this solution was also abandoned in favour of the Edict of Expulsion in 1492. “Spanish Jewry was destroyed,” writes Armstrong. “About 70,000 Jews converted to Christianity, and stayed on to be plagued by the Inquisition; the remaining 130,000, as we have seen went into exile.”[15] Of those who left, most went to Portugal, and from there to Amsterdam; while a substantial minority migrated to the Ottoman Empire (see next chapter).

 

     The Jews who were expelled – called the Sephardic Jews after their word for Spain, “Sepharad” – spread throughout the West, bringing with them ideas and influences that were to be of enormous importance in the development of the West and in the eventual destruction of its Christian character. The influence of Greco-Latin paganism on the West has been well documented and recognized, largely because it came from above, with the official sanction of leaders in both Church and State. The influence of Jewish paganism in the form, especially, of the Kabbala, has been less recognized, largely because it came from below, from the underground, and entered in spite of the resistance of the powers that be. Thus through contact with Jewish bankers interested in art and literature, writes Dan Cohn-Sherbok, “the Florentine Christian philosopher Pico della Mirandola was able to engage in kabbalistic study, making use of the concept of the sefirot in his compositions. He and other Christian humanists believed that the Zohar [the Kabbala] contained doctrines which support the Christian faith. In this milieu Judah Abravanel composed a Neoplatonic work which had an important impact on Italian humanism.”[16]

 

     Many of the conversos who remained in Spain were able to identify wholly with Catholicism – Teresa of Avila is the best-known example. Indeed, “it is not an exaggeration,” writes Norman Cantor, “to see the role of scions of converted Jewish families as central to the Spanish Renaissance of the early sixteenth century, as were Jews in the modernist cultural revolution of the early twentieth century. In both cases complete access to general culture induced an explosion of intellectual creativity.”[17]  However, there were many conversos who both lost touch with Judaism (for it was proscribed) and could not adapt to Catholicism. “In consequence, “ writes Armstrong, “they had no real allegiance to any faith. Long before secularism, atheism, and religious indifference became common in the rest of Europe, we find instances of these essentially modern attitudes among the Marrano Jews of the Iberian peninsula”.[18]

 

     As Cantor writes, “a rationalist, scientific, antitraditional frame of mind, sceptical about the core of religious culture, arose among some Marrano families in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The emergence of a post-Christian commonwealth secular mentality can be traced to a handful of Marrano families who found themselves caught between Judaism and Christianity, bouncing back and forth between the two faiths and cultures, until they became disoriented and disenchanted equally with priests and rabbis.

 

     “We can see this secularisation with the Spanish New Christian Fernando de Rojas, the creator of the subversive picaresque novel (La Celestina) in the early sixteenth century, and the forerunner of Cervantes’s critique of decaying medieval culture. We can see it in the sceptical human of the French humanist Montaigne, who was also of Marrano lineage. We can see it in the writings of two Dutch Jews of Portuguese extraction in the third quarter of the seventeenth century – Uriel de Costa, who condemned rabbinical Judaism and was excommunicated by the Jewish community of Amsterdam, and Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza, who turned away from the whole theistic tradition toward a new kind of scientific naturalism and universalism and was also excommunicated from the Jewish community.

 

     “The Marrano descendants who were buffeted about in the sixteenth century from one religion to another became alienated from both, and turned first to money-making in international mercantilist capitalism and then secular, scientific rationalism. They were immensely successful in these endeavours.”[19]

 

     Spinoza was born of traditionalist Judaist parents, but in 1655 left the synagogue. Anticipating the so-called “higher criticism”, he pointed to seeming contradictions in the text and began expressing doubts about the Divine origins of the Bible. Then he went on to deny the very possibility of revelation. For “God is in the world and the world is in God.” Nature “is a particular way in which God himself exists.’ Human consciousness “is a particular way in which God himself thinks.” As for freewill, Spinoza denied it, redefining it as the knowledge of the fact that one is determined.

 

     “In his concentration on this world,” writes Armstrong, “and in his denial of the supernatural, Spinoza became one of the first secularists of Europe. Like many modern people, Spinoza regarded all formal religion with distaste… He dismissed the revealed faiths as a ‘compound of credulity and prejudices’, and ‘a tissue of meaningless mysteries’. He had found ecstasy in the untrammeled use of reason, not by immersing himself in the biblical text… Instead of experiencing it as a revelation of the divine, Spinoza insisted that the Bible be read like any other text. He was one of the first to study the Bible scientifically, examining the historical background, the literary genres, and the question of authorship. He also used the Bible to explore his political ideas. Spinoza was one of the first people in Europe to promote the ideal of a secular, democratic state which would become one of the hallmarks of Western modernity. He argued that once the priests had acquired more power than the kings of Israel, the laws of the state became punitive and restrictive. Originally, the kingdom of Israel had been theocratic but because, in Spinoza’s view, God and the people were one and the same, the voice of the people had been supreme. Once the priests seized control, the voice of God could no longer be heard. But Spinoza was no populist. Like most premodern philosophers, he was an elitist who believed the masses to be incapable of rational thought. They would need some form of religion to give them a modicum of enlightenment, but this religion must be reformed, based not on so-called revealed law but on the natural principles of justice, fraternity, and liberty.”[20]

 

      Spinoza’s rationalist creed was summed up as follows: “Let everyone believe what seems to him to be consonant with reason”[21] – by which he meant a reason not in any way informed or guided by Divine revelation. This was revolutionary teaching by any standards, and it is not surprising that on July 27, 1656, the rabbis excommunicated him. Spinoza was lucky: a sentence of excommunication destroyed the lives of many who rebelled against the Jewish rabbinate. But Spinoza lived in liberal Holland. The liberalism of Holland and England was to protect many Jews who worked to destroy the foundations of Christian civilization…

 

Protestant Rationalism

 

     The Protestant Reformation grew out of reasoned protest against undoubted abuses by the Catholic Church. One of these was papal indulgences, which particularly angered Luther as it had Hus before him:

 

As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,

The soul from purgatory springs.

 

     As Jacques Barzun writes: “The priest, instead of being a teacher, was ignorant; the monk, instead of helping to save the world by his piety, was an idle profiteer; the bishop, instead of supervising the care of souls in his diocese was a politician and a businessman. One of them here or there might be pious and a scholar – he showed that goodness was not impossible. But too often the bishop was a boy of twelve, his influential family having provided early for his future happiness. The system was rotten…”[22]

 

     However, instead of returning to the norm of Christian life from which these were evident deviations and corruptions, western man chose, in effect, to cast off from the shores of Christianity altogether, in fact if not in name. As Burckhardt said in his Judgements on History, the Reformation was an escape from discipline. Reason, not Holy Tradition, became the arbiter of truth and justice - reason, that is, not in the sense of the Divine Logos, “the mind of Christ”, as revealed in the truly confessing Church, “the pillar and ground of the Truth” (I Tim. 3.15), but fallen human reason, “liberated” now from the “fetters” of tradition, having been absolved by the natural law tradition from all sin.

 

     Protestant rationalism was born in the soil of Catholic rationalism, which consisted in placing the mind of one man above the Catholic consciousness of the Church, the Mind of Christ. Protestantism rejected Papism, but did not reject its underlying principle. For instead of placing the mind of one man above the Church, it placed the mind of every man, every believer, above it. As Luther himself declared: “In matters of faith each Christian is for himself Pope and Church, and nothing may be decreed or kept that could issue in a threat to faith.”[23] Thus Protestantism, as New Hieromartyr Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) put it, “placed a papal tiara on every German professor and, with its countless number of popes, completely destroyed the concept of the Church, substituting faith with the reason of each separate personality.”[24]

 

     The nineteenth-century Russian Slavophile I.V. Kireevsky compared Catholic and Protestant rationalism and the Orthodox love of wisdom as follows: “The main trait distinguishing Orthodox Christianity from the Latin confession and the Protestant teaching of the faith in their influence on the intellectual and moral development of man consists in the fact that the Orthodox Church strictly adheres to the boundary between Divine Revelation and human reason, that it preserves without any change the dogmas of Revelation as they have existed from the first days of Christianity and have been confirmed by the Ecumenical Councils, not allowing the hand of man to touch their holiness or allowing human reason to modify their meaning and expression in accordance with its temporary systems. But at the same time the Orthodox Church does not restrict reason in its natural activity and in its free striving to search out the truths not communicated to it by Revelation; it does not give to any rational system or plausible view of science the status of infallible truth, ascribing to them an idential inviolability and holiness as that possessed by Divine Revelation.

 

     “The Latin church, on the contrary, does not know any firm boundaries between human reason and Divine Revelation. It ascribes to its visible head or to a local council the right to introduce a new dogma into the number of those revealed and confirmed by the Ecumenical Councils; to some systems of human reason it ascribes the exceptional right of ascendancy over others, and in this way if it does not directly destroy the revealed dogmas, it changes their meaning, while it restricts human reason in the freedom of its natural activity and limits its sacred right and duty to seek from a rapprochement between human truths and Divine truths, natural truths and revealed ones.

 

     “The Protestant teachings of the faith are based on the same annihilation of the boundary between human reason and Divine revelation, with this difference from the Latin teaching, however, that they do not raise any human point of view or systematic mental construction to the level of Divine Revelation, thereby restricting the activity of reason; but, on the contrary, they give the reason of man ascendancy over the Divine dogmas, changing them or annihilating them in accordance with the personal reasoning of man.

 

     “From these three main differences between the relationships of Divine Revelation to human reason proceed the three main forms of activity of the intellectual powers of man, and at the same time the three main forms of development of its moral meaning.

 

     “It is natural that the more one who sincerely believes in the teaching of the Orthodox Church develops his reason, the more he will make his understanding agree with the truths of Divine Revelation.

 

     “It is also natural that the sincere supporter of the Latin church should have not only to submit his mind to Divine Revelation, but at the same time also to some human systems and abstract mental constructions that have been raised to the level of Divine inviolability. For that reason he will necessarily be forced to communicate a one-sided development to the movements of his mind and will be morally obliged to drown out the inner consciousness of the truth in obedience to blind authority.

 

     “No less natural is it that the follower of the Protestant confession, recognizing reason to be the chief foundation of truth, should in accordance with the measure of his education more and more submit his faith itself to his personal reasoning, until the concepts of natural reason take the place for him of all the Traditions of Divine Revelation and the Holy Apostolic Church.

 

     “Where only pure Divine Revelation is recognized to be higher than reason – Revelation which man cannot alter in accordance with his own reasonings, but with which he can only bring his reasoning into agreement, - there, naturally, the more educated a man or a people is, the more its concepts will be penetrated with the teaching of the faith, for the truth is one and the striving to find this oneness amidst the variety of the cognitive and productive actions of the mind is the constant law of all development. But in order to bring the truths of reason into agreement with the truth of Revelation that is above reason a dual activity of reason is necessary. It is not enough to arrange one’s rational concepts in accordance with the postulates of faith, to choose those that agree with them and exclude those that contradict them, and thereby purify them of all contradiction: it is also necessary to raise the very mode of rational activity to the level at which reason can sympathise with faith and where both spheres merge into one seamless contemplation of the truth. Such is the aim determining the direction of the mental development of the Orthodox Christian, and the inner consciousness of this sought-after region of mental activity is constantly present in every movement of his reason, the breathing of his mental life…”[25]

 

     Protestant rationalism went further than the Catholic variety, and came close to the Jewish variety, in its rejection of sacraments, and in general in its iconoclastic rejection of the possibility that matter can be sanctified by the Spirit. Icons, relics, holy water and all the symbols and ceremonies of Catholic worship were rejected and destroyed. The sacrament of the Eucharist, according to the Protestants, was not the Body and Blood of Christ, but only a service of remembrance, and there was no such thing as a specially ordained priesthood. One would have expected that the Protestants would at least have held on to the sacredness of the Holy Scriptures, since their whole faith was built on them alone. But Luther reduced the number of canonical books, rejecting the so-called “apocryphal” books of the Old Testament and casting doubt on such New Testament books as the Epistle of James. Moreover, it was from the Protestants (and, as we have seen, the Jews such as Spinoza) that the terribly destructive so-called “Higher Criticism” of the Bible began. No thing was sacred for the Protestants, but only the disembodied mind of the individual believer.

 

     But in order to understand Protestantism we must go beyond the intellectual pride that it inherited from its Papist and Renaissance humanist predecessors to the emotional vacuum that it sought to fill – and filled with some success, although the new wine it proposed to pour into the old bottles of Christendom turned out to be distinctly vinegary. For it was not their protests against the abuses of Papism that made Luther and Calvin such important figures: Wycliff and Hus, Machiavelli and Erasmus and many others had been exposing these abuses long before Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Worms. What distinguished Luther and Calvin was that they were able to offer hungry hearts that no longer believed in the certainties of Holy Tradition or the consolations of Mother Church another kind of certainty – that offered by justification by faith alone, and another kind of consolation – that offered by predestination to salvation. All that was necessary was to say: I believe, and the believer could be sure that he was saved![26]

 

     Thus was Western thought directed along a path of ever-increasing individualism and subjectivism, which led finally to such as irrational philosophies as that of Nietzsche. The first truly modern philosopher Descartes’ axiom, “I think, therefore I am” was only a desiccated, secularised and intellectualised reduction of this primary axiom of Protestantism. The difference between Luther and Descartes was the difference between theological rationalism and philosophical rationalism: the Protestant deduced the certainty of salvation from his personal faith and certain passages of Scripture, while the philosopher derived the certainty of his existence from his personal thought. The one deduction was momentous in its consequences and the other was trivial; the one had an emotional charge and the other had none (or very little); but in other respects they were very similar.

 

     Even the apparent advantage of objectivity that citing Scripture brought to Luther’s syllogism was illusory; for it was a cardinal tenet of Protestantism that each individual believer could interpret the meaning of Scripture for himself, which removed the possibility of finding any objective criterion of true faith. And so philosophical rationalism was born in the soil of Protestant rationalism, and philosophical individualism – in the soil of Protestant individualism. Descartes would have been impossible without Calvin, and Kant – without Luther. Just as Luther allowed the individual believer to define for himself what true faith was, so Kant allowed the individual decision-maker to define for himself what right and wrong was – for the “categorical imperative” was entirely personal and subjective.

 

     L.A. Tikhomirov wrote: “According to the Christian understanding, although man is by nature capable of a free existence and free self-determination, he does not have autonomy, nor does he presume to seize it (recognising that he is in the hands of God, and subject to Him), but carries out His commands and follows that mission which is indicated to him by God. To declare oneself autonomous would be equivalent to falling away from obedience to God, to breaking with Him. But if separated Christians were capable of that, it would be almost impossible to incite Christians as a whole to do this for a thousand reasons. Of these the most important is that, in submitting to God, the Christian feels that he is submitting, not to some foreign principle or other, but to that which he recognises to be the Source of his highest capabilities, his Father… The striving for knowledge, which is so powerful in man, is set on a firmer ground precisely when a boundary is clearly delineated between the Divine world, which cannot be known by reason, and the created world, which is accessible to experimental knowledge through the senses. In making this delineation the Christian faith served both exact science and the spiritual life to an identically powerful degree…

 

     “It goes without saying that when the conviction emerged that the autonomy of man is real in some point of his existence, this naturally entrained with it the thought that autonomy is therefore possible and fruitful also in other respects, and this led to the search for new spheres of autonomy with a gradually increasing ‘liberation from God’.

 

     “In this way the original point of ‘liberation from God’ is rationalism, a tendency based on the supposed capacity of reason (ratio) to acquired knowledge of the truth independently of Divine Revelation, by its own efforts. In fact this is a mistake, but it is engendered by the huge power of human reason and its capacity to submit everything to its criticism. And so it seems to man that he can reject everything that is false and find everything that is real and true. The mistake in this self-confidence of reason consists in the fact that in fact it is not the source of the knowledge of facts, which are brought to the attention of man, not by his reason, but by his feelings – both physical and mystical. The real role of reason consists only in operations on the material provided by these perceptions and feelings. If they did not exist, reason would have no possibility of working, it would have not even a spark of knowledge of anything. But this controlling, discursive power is so great that it easily leads man to the illusion of thinking that the reason acquires knowledge independently. This inclination to exaggerate the power of reason has always lived and always will live in man, since the most difficult work of the reason is self-control, the evaluation of the reality of its own work. This self-control not only easily weakens in man, but is deliberately avoided by him, because it leads him to the burdensome consciousness of the limitations and relativity of those of his capacities which by their own character appear to be absolute.

 

     “To the extent that reason’s self-control reveals to him the necessity of searching for the absolute Source of his relative capacities and in this way leads to the search for Divine Revelation, to the same extent the weakening of self-control leads to the false feeling of the human capacity for autonomy in the sphere of cognitive thought.

 

     “It goes without saying that there always have been the seeds of this exaggeration of the powers of reason, that is, the seeds of rationalism, in the Christian world. But historically speaking rationalism was promoted by Descartes. In principle his philosophy did not appear to contradict Christianity in any way. The rationalism of Descartes did not rise up against the truths of the faith, it did not preach any other faith. Descartes himself was personally very religious and even supposed that by his researches he was working for the confirmation of the truths of Christianity.[27] In fact, of course, it was quite the other way round. Descartes’ philosophical system proceeded from the supposition that if man in seeking knowledge had no help from anywhere, - nor, that is, from God, - he would be able to find in himself such axiomatic bases of knowledge, on the assertion of which he could in a mathematical way logically attain to the knowledge of all truth.

 

     “As… V.A. Kozhevnikov points out in his study of mangodhood, ‘the Cartesian: “I think, therefore I am” already gave a basis for godmanhood in the sense of human self-affirmation.’ In fact, in that all-encompassing doubt, which was permitted by Descartes before this affirmation, all knowledge that does not depend on the reasoning subject is rejected, and it is admitted that if a man had no help from anyone or anything, his mind would manage with its own resources to learn the truth. ‘The isolation and self-sufficiency of the thinking person is put as the head of the corner of the temple of philosophical wisdom.’ With such a terminus a quo, ‘the purely subjective attainment of the truth, remarks V. Kozhevnikov, ‘becomes the sole confirmation of existence itself. The existent is confirmed on the basis of the conceivable, the real – on the intellectual… The purely human, and the solely human, acquires its basis and justification in the purely human mind. The whole evolution of the new philosophical thinking from Descartes to Kant revolves unfolds under the conscious or unnoticed, but irresistible attraction in this direction.’”[28]

 

     “The first step of the Reformation,” writes V.A. Zhukovsky, “decided the fate of the European world: instead of the historical abuses of ecclesiastical power, it destroyed the spiritual, so far untouched, power of the Church herself; it incited the democratic mind to rebel against her being above judgement; in allowing revelation to be checked, it shook the faith, and with the faith everything holy. This holiness was substituted by the pagan wisdom of the ancients; the spirit of contradiction was born; the revolt against all authority, Divine as well as human, began. This revolt went along two paths: on the first – the destruction of the authority of the Church produced rationalism (the rejection of the Divinity of Christ), whence came… atheism (the rejection of the existence of God); and on the other – the concept of autocratic power as proceeding from God gave way to the concept of the social contract. Thence came the concept of the autocracy of the people, whose first step is representative democracy, second step – democracy, and third step – socialism and communism. Perhaps there is also a fourth and final step: the destruction of the family, and in consequence of this the exaltation of humanity, liberated from every obligation that might in any way limit its personal independence, to the dignity of completely free cattle. And so two paths: on the one hand, the autocracy of the human mind and the annihilation of the Kingdom of God; on the other – the dominion of each and every one, and the annihilation of society.”[29]

 

Luther on Church and State

 

     Almost from the beginning, there were significant differences between the Protestant Reformers in the degree and thoroughness of their rejection of the old ways. The most important differences were between the Lutherans and the Calvinists. With regard to the vital question of the sources of the faith, for example, both parties rejected Tradition and held to Sola Scriptura. But while the Lutherans taught that a custom was godly if it was not contrary to the Bible, the Calvinists went further and asserted that only that which was explicitly taught by the Bible was godly. A little later, the Anglicans, in the person of Richard Hooker, took a slightly different, but ultimately no less rationalist line: that was godly which was in accordance with the Bible and natural law.

 

     Closely related to the question of the sources of the faith was that of the Church. Since the Protestants rejected the authority of the papist church, and paid no attention to the claims of the Orthodox Church, they were logically committed to the thesis that the historical Church had perished, and that they were recreating it. Apostolic succession was not necessary – the people could take the place of the Apostles, since there were no true successors of the apostles left. “A Christian man is a perfectly free lord,” said Luther, “subject to none [of the princes of the Church]”…

 

     The conservative Protestants – the Lutherans and the Anglicans – tried to hold on to the ideas of priesthood and apostolic succession. And yet, in the last analysis it was the democratic assembly of believers, not the bishop standing in an unbroken chain of succession from the apostles, who bestowed the priesthood upon the candidates. Thus Luther wrote: “The only thing left is either to let the Church of God perish without the Word or to allow the propriety of a church meeting to cast its votes and choose from its own resources one or as many as are necessary and suitable and commend and confirm these to the whole community by prayer and the laying-on of hands. These should then be recognised and honoured as lawful bishops and ministers of the Word, in the assured faith that God Himself is the Author of what the common consent of the faithful has so performed – of those, that is, who accept and confess the Gospel…”[30]

 

     In his treatises, On the Liberty of the Christian (1520) and On Temporal Authority (1523), Luther makes a very sharp distinction between the spiritual and the temporal, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. If the Christian was free from authority in the Kingdom of God, he was by no means free in the kingdom of man: “A Christian man is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all [of the princes of this world]”. As Dagron interprets Luther’s thought: “The Christian, being at the same time part of the spiritual kingdom and of the temporal kingdom is at the same time absolutely free and absolutely enslaved. If God has instituted two kingdoms, it is because only a very small élite of true Christians participate in His Kingdom; the great mass needs the ‘temporal sword’ and must submit to in accordance with the teaching of Paul (Romans 13.1: ‘there is no authority that is not of God’) and of Peter (I Peter 2.13: ‘Submit yourselves to every human authority’). But if the temporal princes hold their power from God and they are often Christian, they cannot pretend to ‘govern in a Christian manner’ and in accordance with the Gospel. ‘It is impossible for a Christian kingdom to extend throughout the world, and even over a single country.’ No accommodation is possible between a religion that is conceived as above all personal and a State defined as above all repressive; and Luther is ironic about the temporal sovereigns ‘who arrogate to themselves the right to sit on the throne of God, to rule the consciences and the faith and to… guide the Holy Spirit over the pews of the school’, as also about the popes or bishops ‘become temporal princes’ and pretending to be invested with a ‘power’ and not with a simple ‘function’. This radical distinction between the temporal and the spiritual did not, therefore, lead to the recognition of two powers, ‘since all the Christians truly belong to the ecclesiastical state’ and there is no reason to deny Christian princes the ‘titles of priest and bishop’.“[31]

 

     Luther did not attach an absolute authority to the Prince. As he wrote: “When a prince is in the wrong, are his people bound to follow him then too? I answer, No, for it is no one’s duty to do wrong; we ought to obey God who desires the right, rather than men.”[32] But this did not mean that he sanctioned rebellion against the powers that be.

 

     Luther’s principles were tested in the 1520s, when Thomas Müntzer led a German Peasants’ War against all authorities. Müntzer, writes Charles George, “was a learned priest and mystic who had struggled for faith as Luther had – desperately – but found it not in the historic Jesus, not in the revelation of words, but in the blinding visions of immediate knowledge, and in association with an amazing group of militant prophets in the town of Zwickau. Zwickau is on the border of Bohemia, and there a weaver named Storch had made Tabor [the centre of early-fifteenth-century chiliastic revolution among the Czechs of Bohemia] live again. Müntzer began to preach in Zwickau a prophecy of millenial revolution – in his vision, a terrible final blood-bath in which the elect of God would rise up to destroy first the Turkish Antichrist, and then the masses of the unrighteous. Before long he and Storch led their evangelized weavers in a revolt which failed, and Müntzer fled to Bohemia where he searched for the embers of Taborite chiliasm, and ended up being driven from Bohemia.

 

     “For two years he wandered in central Germany, his delusions now settled into doctrine” {‘The living God is sharpening his scythe in me, so that later I can cut down the red poppies and the blue cornflowers’). In 1523 he was invited to preach in Allstedt, and from there he created a revolutionary organization, the League of the Elect, made up of peasants and miners. His church became the most radical center of Christianity in Europe – fo it he created the first liturgy in German, and to it came hundreds of miners from Mansfeld and peasants from the countryside as well as artisans from Allstedt.

 

     “Müntzer’s revolution was not, like Luther’s, a proposed reformation of men and institutions. To him Luther was a Pharisee bound to books and Wittenberg was the centere of ‘the unspiritual soft-living flesh’. He attacked the emasculated social imagination of the reformers, branded them tools of the rich and powerful, and when Luther wrote his Letter to the Princes of Saxony warning of the danger of this radical agitation, Müntzer reacted by openly declaring social revolution to be indispensably a part of faith in Christ: ‘The wretched flatterer is silent… about the origin of all theft… Look, the seed-grounds of ususry and theft and robbery are our lords and princes, they take all creatures as their property… These robbers use the Law to forbid others to rob… They oppress all people, and shear and shave the poor plowman and everything that lives – yet if (the plowman) commits the slightest offense, he must hang.’ Like the magnificent Hebrew prophets from whom he took his texts, Müntzer denounced the princes to their faces (Duke John, the Elector’s brother, came to Allstedt to hear him, and he was summoned to Weimar to explain himself as a result of Luther’s complaint) and left them shaken. Müntzer, with red crucifix and sword, led another frustrated revolt in Mühlhausen, wandered to Nuremberg and the Swiss border, preaching revolution and distributing his pamphlets, and finally was called back to Mühlhausen as Saxony caught the fever that was agitating the rest of Germany….

 

     “… Frederick the Wise wrote to his brother the following: ‘Perhaps the peasants have been given just occasion for their uprising through the impeding the Word of God. In many ways the poor folk have been wronged by the rulers, and now God is visiting his wrath upon us. If it be his will, the common man will come to rule; and if it be not his will, the end will soon be otherwise.’ Duke John wrote: ‘As princes we are ruined.’ Luther was less passive before the will of God; although hooted out of countenance by the groups of peasants whom he tried to command into submission to their prince, he continued to fight the rude social rooting of the heresy he had spawned. Müntzer presented a graphic portrait of Luther’s confrontation with the peasants: ‘He claims the Word of God is sufficient. Doesn’t he realize that men whose every moment is consumed in the making of a living have no time to learn to read the Word of God? The princes bleed the people with usury and count as their own the fish in the stream, the bird of the air, and the grass of the field, and Dr. Liar says “Amen!” What courage has he, Dr. Pussyfoot, the new pope of Wittenberg, Dr. Easychair, the basking sycophant? He says there should be no rebellion because the sword has been committed by God to the ruler, but the power of the sword belongs to the whole community. In the good old days the people stood by when judgement was rendered  lest the ruler pervert justice, and the rulers have perverted justice.’”[33]

 

     The only authority for Müntzer was the people. Matheson writes: “He addressed his lords and masters as ‘brothers’, if, that is, they were willing to listen to him. They are part of his general audience, on the same level as everyone else… Everything has to come out into the open, to be witnessed by the common people. Worship has to be intelligible, not some ‘mumbo-jumbo’ that no one could understand. The holy Gospel has to be pulled out from under the bed where it has languished for four hundred years. Preaching and teaching and judgement can no longer be a hole-and-corner affair, for God has given power and judgement to the common people. In the Eucharist, for example, the consecration of the elements is to be ‘performed not just by one person but by the whole gathered congregation’. He encourages popular participation in the election of clergy. In the Peasants’ War a kind of crude popular justice was executed ‘in the ring’. ‘Nothing without the consent of the people’; their visible presence as audience is the guarantor of justice… The audience of the poor is not beholden to prince or priest. Liturgies are no longer subject to the approval of synods. A liberating Gospel, taking the lid off corruption and exploitation, is bound to be polemical, and doomed to meet persecution. ‘Hole-in-the-corner’ judgements by courts and universities have to be replaced by accountability to the elect throughout the world.”[34]

 

     Luther called on the lords to destroy the peasants: “Wherefore, my lords, free, save, help and pity the poor people. Stab, smite and slay, all ye that can. If you die in battle you could never have a more blessed end, for you die obedient to God’s Word in Romans 13, and in the service of love to free your neighbour from the bands of hell and the devil. I implore every one who can to avoid the peasants as he would the devil himself. I pray God will enlighten them and turn their hearts. But if they do not turn, I wish them no happiness for evermore… Let none think this is too hard who consider how intolerable is rebellion.”[35]

 

     This led to the massacre or exile of some 30,000 families. Such was the price Luther had to pay for keeping the support of the princes for his Reformation.[36] If he had relied solely on the power of his word and the hands of the simple people, his Reformation would have been quickly crushed by the troops of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who rejected his call to rise up against the pope on behalf of “the glorious Teutonic people”. It was the Protestant Princes of Germany that saved Luther. In any case, if there were no sacramental, hierarchical priesthood, and all the laity were in fact priests, the Prince as the senior layman was bound to take the leading role in the Church. For, as Luther’s favourite apostle in his favourite epistle says, the Prince “beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13.4).

 

     The problem was, however, that in relying on the power of “the godly prince” Lutheranism tended to give him excessive power in church life. “According to the teaching of Luther,” writes Tikhomirov, “the Church consists of completely equal members, with no difference of hierarchical gifts of grace. Episcopal power belongs to it collectively. The grace of the priesthood belongs to each Christian. Ecclesiastical power belongs to the same society to which State power also belongs, so that if it entrusts this power to the Prince, it transfers to him episcopal rights, too. The Prince becomes the possessor both of political and of ecclesiastical power. ‘In the Protestant state,’ writes Professor Suvorov, ‘both ecclesiastical and state power must belong to the prince, the master of the territory (Landsherr) who is at the same time the master of religion – Cuius est regio – ejus religio’.”[37]

 

     Now the Protestant Princes were aided in their struggle by a fortunate concatenation of events. On the one hand, the Emperor Charles was suddenly faced with a very powerful enemy without – the Turks at the peak of their power under Suleiman the Magnificent – as well as by rebellions from within, in Italy and the Netherlands. And on the other, the other major Catholic monarch, Francis I of France, decided to intrigue against him, making common cause with the German Protestant Princes and Suleiman himself. To make matters still worse for the Catholics, Charles was at war also with the Pope in Rome – and the manner in which his generals waged that war did his cause no good. For on May 6, 1527, his troops “entered Rome and wreaked such havoc within the city that the details were not forgotten for a hundred years. Old men were disembowelled and young men castrated, women raped and tortured, children tossed onto the points of swords before being butchered. The corpse of Pope Julius II was dragged from its ornate tomb and paraded through the streets.”[38] Nearly half the population was killed…

 

Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More

 

     But no “Catholic” monarch did more damage to Catholicism than the English King Henry VIII, the founder of the Anglican Church. By one of the great ironies of history, Henry had been awarded the title “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X for writing a defence of the seven sacraments against Luther. Luther responded with a scathing, scatological attack on the king, at which point one of the most complex, gifted and, in the end, heroic figures of post-Orthodox western history, came on to the scene – Thomas More.

 

     At the king’s command, More composed a reply to Luther that was to match Luther’s language to such an extent that one eighteenth-century divine called it “the greatest heap of nasty language that was ever put together”.[39] However, More was no unprincipled courtier with a gift for diatribe, and his Catholicism was much deeper and sincerer than the king’s. As Lord Chancellor he invested great energy into protecting the realm from Lutherans, and even – contrary to the principle of religious toleration he had proclaimed in his youthful work, Utopia – burned a few of them at the stake.[40] He also believed passionately in the king’s divine right to rule, and did everything in his power to prevent the revolutionary rhetoric that was causing such chaos in Germany from crossing the Channel.

 

     For “Thomas More,” writes his biographer Peter Ackroyd, “was one who needed pillars and the security of an ordered world; he spoke and argued as a lawyer, but in the Responsio he also introduced the concept of law as the defence against disorder and chaos. ‘Una est ecclesia Christi’, he wrote, and that one church is guided by the workings of the Holy Spirit; it is the manifest, visible and historic faith of ‘the common knowen catholic church’ whose sacraments and beliefs are derived not only from scripture but also from the unwritten traditions transmitted by generation to generation.

 

     “What is it that Luther wrote? ‘Hic sto. Hic maneo. Hic glorior. Hic triumpho.’ Here I stand, Here I remain. Here I glory. Here I triumph. It does not matter to me if a thousand Augustines or Cyprians stand against me. It is one of the great moments of Protestant affirmation and became a primary text for the ‘individualism’ and ‘subjectivism’ of post-Reformation culture, but to More it was ‘furor’ or simple madness. Only a lunatic, a drunkard, could express himself in such a fashion. More invoked, instead, the authority of the apostles and the church fathers, the historical identity and unity of the Catholic Church, as well as the powerful tradition of its teachings guided by the authority of Christ. Where Luther would characteristically write ‘I think thus’, or ‘I believe thus’, More would reply with ‘God has revealed thus’ or ‘ The Holy Spirit has taught thus’. His was a church of order and ritual in which the precepts of historical authority were enshrined. All this Luther despised and rejected. He possessed the authentic voice of the free and separate conscience and somehow found the power to stand against the world he had inherited. He was attacking the king and the Pope, but more importantly he was dismissing the inherited customs and traditional beliefs of the Church itself, which he condemned as ‘scandala’. He was assaulting the whole medieval order of which More was a part…

 

     “More moved easily within any institution or hierarchy to which he became attached; Luther was seized by violent fits of remorse and panic fear in any fixed or formal environment. It is hard to imagine More screaming out ‘Non sum!’ during the Mass. More obeyed and maintained all the precepts of the law; Luther wished to expel law altogether from the spiritual life. More believed in the communion of the faithful, living and dead, while Luther affirmed the unique significance of the individual calling towards God. More believed in the traditional role of miracles; Luther saw visions…”[41]

 

     However, More would feel called upon to defend the Church and the law not only against Luther, but also against his Catholic king when he tried to get his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled in spite of the Pope’s resistance. English Lutherans such as Tyndale and Fish wanted the king to take control over the Church, as the Lutheran princes were doing in Germany, in order to root out the corruption of the clergy. But More, while repeatedly emphasising the power and authority of the king, would not accept any attack on the priesthood. He believed that this attack “was a partially concealed attempt to introduce Lutheran heresies within the kingdom, so that the wreckage of the clergy would be followed by the destruction of the Mass and the sacraments. And what then would follow but the riot and warfare which had already afflicted Germany? The seizure of church lands would be succeeded by the theft of other property, and the assault upon the Church would encourage an attack upon all forms of authority…”[42]

 

     The struggle moved into a critical phase with the king’s dismissal, in 1529, of the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, who, though a prince of the church, had preferred serving his secular prince, as he recognised in the famous words: “If I had served God as diligently as I have done the king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs.” Having removed Wolsey, the king quickly moved to subdue parliament and the Church to his will. The Church under Archbishop Warham duly surrendered[43] – that is, it accepted the king’s adulterous second marriage and, through the Act of Supremacy, accepted that the king was the supreme head of the English Church on earth. But Thomas More, who had already resigned his post after the Church surrendered, refused to sign the Act and was executed…

 

     Thomas More’s defence of the Church’s independence against Henry VIII is reminiscent of Thomas Beckett’s similar defence of the Church against Henry II in the twelfth century. And the immediate upshot was the same: the execution of the Church’s champion by the king. In the long run, however, the result was different: whereas Thomas Beckett was vindicated, not only by his veneration as a martyr but also by the first article of Magna Carta, which asserted the independence of the Church from State power, Thomas More’s death has not been followed by any resurgence of the Church’s influence in the affairs of England…

 

     Though More was a faithful member of the papist church, he cannot be said to have died for papal infallibility. He was, after all, a friend of Erasmus, that scathing critic of the papacy, and the emphasis in his writings is less on papal authority than on “the general counsel of Christendom”[44]. His main argument was “that if a parliamentary statute offends against the law of God it is ‘insufficient’, and cannot be imposed upon any Christian subject”.[45]

 

     His last public request, uttered on the scaffold, was that the people should earnestly pray for the King, “that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that he died the King’s good servant but God’s first.”[46] Thus he died for what, in an Orthodox country, would have been called the symphony of powers, that the Church should be supreme in the spiritual sphere as the king was supreme in the political sphere. He believed that giving the king supremacy over the Church would lead not only to the suppression of the Church but its eventual replacement by a new religion altogether – and he was not far from the truth…

 

Calvin on Church and State

 

     Calvin’s approach to Church-State relations was more consistently democratic than Luther’s; the people, according to Calvin, are the supreme power in both Church and State. Calvin aimed at a greater independence for the Church from the State than existed in the Lutheran States. “The Church,” he wrote, “does not assume what is proper to the magistrate: nor can the magistrate execute what is carried out by the Church.”[47]

 

     At the same time, it was not always easy to see where the Church ended and the State began in Calvin’s Geneva. Thus Owen Chadwick writes: “Where authority existed among the Protestant Churches, apart from the personal authority of individual men of stature, it rested with the prince or the city magistrate. Calvin believed that in organising the Church at Geneva he must organise it in imitation of the primitive Church, and thereby reassert the independence of the Church and the divine authority of its ministers… [However,] the boundaries between the jurisdiction of Church and State… were not easy to define in Geneva… The consistory [the Church authority] gave its opinions on the bank rate, on the level of interest for war loans, on exports and imports, on speeding the law courts, on the cost of living and the shortage of candles. On the other hand the council [the State authority], even during Calvin’s last years, may be found supervising the clergy and performing other functions which logic would have allotted to the consistory. The council was not backward in protesting against overlong sermons, or against pastors who neglected to visit the homes of the people; they examined the proclamations by the pastors even if the proclamations called the city to a general fast, sanctioned the dates for days of public penitence, agreed or refused to lend pastors to other churches, provided for the housing and stipend of the pastors, licensed the printing of theological books.”[48]

 

     These radically new ideas of Church administration, writes McClelland, “could only have radical effects on men’s attitudes to the running of the state. On a very simple level, it could be argued that what applied to Church government should apply straightforwardly to the state’s government on the principle of a fortiori (the greater should contain the lesser). If the government of the community which means most to Christian people should be governed according to the reflection and choice of its members, then why should the government of the state, an inferior institution by comparison, not be governed in the same way too?”[49]

 

     “Reformed political theory… still thought the law served good and godly ends. The social peace, which only obedience to duly constituted authority could provide, was always going to be pleasing in God’s sight. What was no longer so clear was that God intended us to obey that prince and those laws. How could God be saying anything very clear about political obligation when Christendom was split into two warring halves, one Catholic and one Protestant? In these circumstances it is no surprise that thoughtful men began to wonder whether it really was true that the laws under which they lived were instances of a universal law as it applies to particulars. That very general unease was sharpened by the very particular problem of what was to be done if you remained a Catholic when your prince became a Protestant, or if you became a Protestant and your prince remained a Catholic. The implied covenant of the coronation stated clearly that the prince agreed to preserve true religion, and, in an age when men felt obliged to believe that any religion other than their own was false, the fact that your prince’s religion was not your own showed prima facie that the original contract to preserve true religion had been broken. It followed that a new contract could be made, perhaps with a new prince, to preserve true religion, as in the case of John Knox and the Scottish Covenanter movement to oust the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots in favour of a Protestant king.”[50]

 

     “In the Netherlands,” writes Bamber Gascoigne, “Calvinism became the rallying point for opposition to the oppressive rule of Catholic Spain. Calvinist ministers had been among the earliest leaders of a small group which we would describe today as guerillas or freedom fighters, from whom there developed a national party of the northern provinces. The princely leader of the fight for independence, William the Silent, joined the reformed church in 1573 and during the next decade a Dutch republic gradually emerged…

 

     “In Scotland the Calvinists went one stage further, in a political programme which was even more radical in its implications. At precisely the same period as the Lutherans in Germany were establishing the principle of cuius region eius religio, the Scots were asserting the very opposite – that the people had the right to choose their own religion, regardless of the will of the monarch. In 1560 the Scottish parliament abolished papal authority and decreed a form of Calvinism as the religion of the country. Scotland became something unique in the Europe of the day: a land of one religion with a monarch of another. Admittedly there were, as always, political as well as religious causes for this state of affairs. The monarch, Mary Queen of Scots, was an eighteen-year-old girl living abroad, and English troops were underwriting Scottish independence for fear that Mary might deliver Scotland into the hands of her husband, the king of France. But the notion that the people could assert themselves against their ruler was a triumph for the ideas of one man, John Knox. ‘God help us’, wrote the archbishop of Canterbury, ‘from such visitation as Knox has attempted in Scotland, the people to be the orderers of things.’”[51]

 

     Spellman writes: “Placing obedience to God’s law before conformity to the will of the prince, political theorists writing within a Calvinist theological perspective insisted that the king who violated divine ordinances was not to be obeyed. Anti-absolutist sentiment was decisively advanced by the emergence of these religiously motivated resistance theories. Works such as the anonymous Vindiciae contra tyrannos and George Buchanan’s De jure regni apud Scotos, both appearing in print in 1579, argued on behalf of religious minorities who found themselves persecuted by their monarchs. In the midst of the French wars of religion, the Protestant Philippe Duplessis Mornay insisted that ‘God’s jurisdiction is immeasurable, whilst that of kings is measured; that God’s sway is infinite, whilst that of kings is limited.’ Mornay’s Defense of Liberty against Tyrants was first published in Latin in 1579 but quickly translated into French and finally into English just one year before the execution of King Charles I in 1649 by his Calvinist opponents.

 

     “Mornay employed metaphors drawn from the medieval feudal tradition in describing the proper relationship between subjects and their rulers. Since God created heaven and earth out of nothing, he alone ‘is truly the lord [dominus] and proprietor [proprietarius] of heaven and earth’. Earthly monarchs, on the other hand, are ‘beneficiaries and vassals [beneficiarii & clientes] and are bound to receive and acknowledge investiture from Him’. Facing religious persecution at the hands of a Catholic monarch, this spokesman for the French Protestant minority took the bold step of denying kings any sacred or special distinction. Men do not attain royal status ‘because they differ from others in species, and because they ought to be in charge of these by a certain natural superiority, like shepherds with sheep’. Instead of lording over subjects, legitimate monarchs are those who protect the subjects in their care, both from the aggressions of individuals within the kingdom and from hostile neighbours. In language striking in its modernity, Mornay claimed that ‘royal dignity is not really an honour, but a burden; not an immunity, but a function; not a dispensation, but a vocation; not license, but public service’.”[52]

 

     State power protected the Calvinists from the ferocity of the Papists in both the England of Elizabeth I, and the France of Henry IV, for example. And yet Calvinists had an alarming tendency to come out against the state, splintering off into ever more extreme movements of an apocalyptic nature that advocated political as well as religious revolution, and were accompanied by moral excesses directly contrary to the strait-laced image of traditional Protestantism.

 

     The most famous example of this was the Anabaptist revolution in Münster. Chadwick writes: “At the end of 1533 the Anabaptist group at Münster in Westphalia, under the leadership of a former Lutheran minister Bernard Rothmann, gained control of the city council. Early in 1534 a Dutch prophet and ex-innkeeper named John of Leyden appeared in Münster, believing that he was called to make the city the new Jerusalem. On 9 February 1534 his party seized the city hall. By 2 March all who refused to be baptized were banished, and it was proclaimed a city of refuge for the oppressed. Though the Bishop of Münster collected an army and began the siege of his city, an attempted coup within the walls was brutally suppressed, and John of Leyden was proclaimed King of New Zion, wore vestments as his royal robes, and held his court and throne in the market-place. Laws were decreed to establish a community of goods, and the Old Testament was adduced to permit polygamy. Bernard Rothmann, once a man of sense, once the friend of Melanchthon, took nine wives.

 

     “They now believed that they had been given the duty and the power of exterminating the ungodly. The world would perish, and only Münster would be saved. Rothmann issued a public incitement to world rebellion: ‘Dear brethren, arm yourselves for the battle, not only with the humble weapons of the apostles for suffering, but also with the glorious armour of David for vengeance… in God’s strength, and help to annihilate the ungodly.’ And ex-soldier named John of Feelen slipped out of the city, carrying copies of this proclamation into the Netherlands, and planned sudden coups in the Dutch cities. On a night in February 1535 a group of men and women ran naked and unarmed through the streets of Amsterdam shouting: ‘Woe! Woe! The wrath of God falls on this city.’ On 30 March 1535 John of Geelen with 300 Anabaptists, men and women, stormed an old monastery in Friesland, fortified it, made sallies to conquer the province, and were only winkled out after bombardment by heavy cannon. On the night of 10 May 1535 John of Geelen with a band of some thirty men attacked the city hall of Amsterdam during a municipal banquet, and the burgomaster and several citizens were killed. At last, on 25 June 1535, the gates of Münster were opened by sane men within the walls, and the bishop’s army entered the city…”[53]

 

     The Anabaptist revolution in Münster came exactly a century after the destruction of the Taborite revolution in Bohemia, which it closely imitated. The Taborites and Anabaptists were in effect communists, a fact which shows that there is a blood-red thread linking the revolutionary movements of late medieval Catholicism, early Protestantism and twentieth-century militant atheism.

 

     The immediate effect of the revolution in Münster, coming so soon after the similar madness of Thomas Münzter and the Germans’ Peasant War, was to strengthen the argument for the intervention of the strong hand of the State to cool and control religious passions, if necessary by violent means. However, the longer-term lesson to be drawn from it was that the Protestant Reformation, by undermining the authority of the Church, had also, albeit unwittingly, undermined that of the State. For even if the more moderate Protestants accepted and exalted the authority of “the godly Prince”, the more extreme Protestants felt no obligation to obey any earthly authority, but rather created their own church-cum-state communities recognising no authority except Christ’s alone.

 

     Thus the Englishman Henry Barrow (executed in 1593) wrote: “The true planted and rightly established Church of Christ is a company of faithful people, separated from the unbelievers and heathen of the land, gathered in the name of Christ, Whom they truly worship and readily obey as their only King, Priest, and Prophet, and joined together as members of one body, ordered and governed by such offices and laws as Christ, in His last will and testament, hath thereunto ordained…”[54]

 

     As often as not the more extreme Protestants were persecuted by the lawful authorities, as the Huguenots were in 16th century France. So they felt no obligation to obey them, and if they obeyed authorities of their own choosing, this was an entirely voluntary, non-binding commitment.

 

     Thus the founder of the Calvinist sect of the Congregationalists, Robert Browne, wrote in 1582: “The Lord’s people is of the willing sorte. It is conscience, not the power of man, that will drive us to seek the Lord’s Kingdom. Therefore it belongeth not to the magistrate to compel religion, to plant churches by power, and to force a submission to ecclesiastical government by laws and penalties.”[55]

 

     Again he wrote: "True Christians unite into societies of believers which submit, by means of a voluntary agreement with God, to the dominion of God the Saviour, and keep the Divine law in sacred communion."

 

     The Calvinists went under different names in different countries. In England they were called Independents or Congregationalists or Puritans. Each community was completely independent: in faith, in worship, in the election of clergy. They were united by faith and friendship alone. Since the clergy had no sacramental functions and were elected by laymen, they had no real authority over their congregations. Thus Calvinism was already democratism in action; and it is not surprising that the leading democratic countries – Holland, England, Scotland, America – would be those in which Calvinism let down the deepest roots…

 

The Counter-Reformation

 

     Powerful though the new ideas of the Reformation were, the papacy was not finished yet; and from the mid-sixteenth century, it undertook a thorough reformation of its own that restored it to the front rank of the absolutist states. With the powerful aid of the Spanish kings and the Spanish-led Jesuit order, it expanded its power swiftly and ruthlessly eastwards and westwards – eastwards into Orthodox Eastern Europe, India and the Far East, and westwards into the New World of the Americas. This successful coalition between the Vatican and Spain then stimulated the development of similarly absolutist or semi-absolutist States fighting under the banner of the Reformation, such as England.

 

     The union between Spain and the Vatican was symbolised above all by the notorious Inquisition, “the first institution of united Spain”[56], which, while officially an ecclesiastical institution against heresy, served the desire of the Spanish state for uniformity within its dominions so well that “henceforth treason and heresy were virtually indistinguishable"[57].

 

     As we have seen, Columbus’ discovery of America opened a new world to the Spanish conquerors who followed him. Their conquests brought them vast wealth and power, making Spain, for a century or so, the most powerful state in the world. Central and South America now came under the dominion of a despotism hardly less cruel than the pagan despotisms that had preceded it.

 

     “The cruelty of the Spaniards [in the New World], writes Kamen, “was incontrovertible; it was pitiless, barbaric and never brought under control by the colonial regime”.[58] Thus the South-American empire of the Incas, which before the Spanish conquest numbered some seven million people, within 50 years after the conquest had been reduced to two million. The decimation of the Mexican empire of the Aztecs was hardly less horrifying.

 

     And if most of the victims fell to European diseases such as smallpox introduced by the conquerors rather than to war and execution, the cruelty of the Christians was nevertheless exceptional. Thus in 1546, when 15 colonists in the Yucatan were killed by the Mayas, the Spaniards responded by enslaving 2000 Maya men, hanging their women and burning six of their priests. “In Mexico…, a population estimated at 25 million in 1492 had been reduced to a mere one million by 1600.”[59] This may have been historical justice for the child-sacrifice practiced over centuries by the pagan empires. But it also witnessed to the dehumanizing effect of centuries of papal propaganda justifying the extermination of heretics and in general all non-Catholics. Christianity had changed the morals of men by teaching them to see in every man the image of God and therefore an object of love and respect. The “Christianity” of Roman Catholicism turned the clock back by teaching Catholics to treat other classes of men as in effect subhuman.

 

     16th-century Spain recalled the ancient despotisms not only in her cruelty and the absolutism of her institutions, but also in her enormous wealth and self-confidence. “We are His chosen people in the New Dispensation,” wrote Fray Juan de Salazar, “just as the Hebrews were in the time of the written law.”[60] “The serenity and splendour of the Spanish throne,” wrote the Catholic author Hilaire Belloc, “the magnificence of its externals, expressed in ritual, in every detail of comportment, still more in architecture, profoundly affected the mind of Europe: and rightly so; they remain to-day to astonish us. I may be thought extravagant if I say that the Escorial, that huge block of dark granite unearthly proportioned, is a parallel to the Pyramids… At any rate there is nothing else in Europe which so presents the eternal and the simple combined… But the Escorial is not a mere symbol, still less a façade; it is the very soul of the imperial name. It could only have been raised and inhabited by kings who were believed by themselves to be, and were believed by others to be, the chief on earth.”[61]

 

     And yet the dominions of Spain, according to the papist theory, were merely leased to it, as it were, by the Pope, who was recognised by all the Catholic kings as their true lord and master.[62] The theory was elaborated by the New World missionary (and Jewish converso) Bartolomé de las Casas, who wrote in 1552: “The Roman pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, whose divine authority extends over all the kingdoms of heaven and earth[63], could justly invest the kings of Castile and Leon with the supreme and sovereign empire and dominion over the entire realm of the Indies, making them emperors over many kings… If the vicar of Christ were to see that this was not advantageous for the spiritual well-being of Christianity, he could without doubt, by the same divine authority, annul or abolish the office of emperor of the Indies, or he could transfer it to another place, as one Pope did when he transferred the imperial crown from the Greeks to the Germans [at the coronation of Charlemagne in 800]. With the same authority, the Apostolic See could prohibit, under penalty of excommunication, all other Christian kings from going to the Indies without the permission and authorisation of the kings of Castile. If they do the contrary, they sin mortally and incur excommunication.

 

     “The kings of Castile and León are true princes, sovereign and universal lords and emperors over many kings. The rights over all that great empire and the universal jurisdiction over all the Indies belong to them by the authority, concession and donation of the said Holy Apostolic See and thus by divine authority. This and no other is the juridical basis upon which all their title is founded and established…”[64]

 

     Thus the Counter-Reformation sought to re-establish the full power of the papacy over secular rulers that the Reformation had undermined. We see this in the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which, as Dagron writes, “tried to unite that which Luther had tried to separate. Both in the Council and around it attempts were made rather to bring the two powers into union with each other than to separate them. The politics of the concordats aimed to find a difficult compromise between religious universalism and the national churches. But the Jesuits supported the thesis of the pope’s “indirect authority” in political affairs.”[65]

 

     However, it was precisely at this time, the height of the Counter-Reformation, that the idea of natural law, which had been introduced into Catholic thought by Aquinas, became influential. Thus Las Casas writes: “Among the infidels who have distant kingdoms that have never heard the tidings of Christ or received the faith, there are true kings and princes. Their sovereignty, dignity, and royal pre-eminence derive from natural law and the law of nations… Therefore, with the coming of Jesus Christ to such domains, their honours, royal pre-eminence, and so on, do not disappear either in fact or in right. The opinion contrary to that of the preceding proposition is erroneous and most pernicious. He who persistently defends it will fall into formal heresy…”[66]

 

     In this context, it is significant that Sir Thomas More should have located his Utopia on an imaginary island modelled, in part, on the Spanish West Indies. In the first part of this work, More outlines the corruption of early sixteenth century England, whose fundamental cause, in his opinion, was the misuse of private property. In the second part he presents the opposite, an ideal (but distinctly communist) society in which “tyranny and luxury have been abolished, private property is unknown, and manual labour is looked upon as the sole occupation profitable to the state.”[67]

 

     But if natural law, in the interpretation of the Dominican Las Casas, decreed that the pagan kings of the Indies were true kings, in the interpretation of the Spanish Jesuit Juan de Mariana, it was the justification for rebellion against corrupt Christian kings. This led him to write that the assassination of the French King Henry III was “an eternal honour to France”. However, such seditious thinking could not be tolerated; so the Jesuits forced Mariana to remove this phrase from his book, and after the assassination of Henry IV in 1610, copies of his book were publicly burned in Paris.

 

     Mariana’s thoughts were indeed dangerous for absolute monarchs. Thus he wrote: “How will respect for princes (and what is government without this?) remain constant, if the people are persuaded that it is right for the subjects to punish the sins of the rulers? The tranquillity of the commonwealth will often be disturbed with pretended as well as real reasons. And when a revolt takes place every sort of calamity strikes, with one section of the populace armed against another part. If anyone does not think these evils must be avoided by every means, he would be heartless, wanting in the universal common-sense of mankind. Thus they argue who protect the interests of the tyrant.

 

     “The protectors of the people have no fewer and lesser arguments. Assuredly the republic, whence the regal power has its source, can call a king into court, when circumstances require and, if he persists in senseless conduct, it can strip him of his principate.

 

     “For the commonwealth did not transfer the rights to rule into the hands of a prince to such a degree that it has not reserved a greater power to itself; for we see that in the matters of laying taxes and making permanent laws the state has made the reservation that except with its consent no change can be made. We do not here discuss how this agreement ought to be effected. But nevertheless, only with the desire of the people are new imposts ordered and new laws made; and, what is more, the rights to rule, though hereditary, are settled by the agreement of the people on a successor…”[68]

 

     De Mariana was not the only Catholic – or even Jesuit – to think such heretical thoughts. It is Suarez, according to Belloc, who “stands at the origin of that political theory which has coloured all modern times. He it was who, completing the work of his contemporary and fellow Jesuit, Bellarmine, restated in the most lucid and conclusive fashion the fundamental doctrine that Governments derive their authority, under God, from the community…”[69]

 

The Church of England

 

     In 1531, Henry VIII was accepted by the Church of England as her “supreme Protector, only and supreme Lord, and, as far as the law of Christ allows, even supreme Head”. Three years later, the Act of Supremacy accorded him the title “only supreme head in earth of the Church of England” and removed the saving qualification: “as far as the law of Christ allows”. It was the English equivalent of the Jewish cry: “We have no king but Caesar…”

 

     The only palliative to this extreme caesaropapism lay in the fact that formally speaking Parliament had bestowed this right, so Parliament could in theory take it away. But Parliament was also, of course, a secular institution.

 

     Now the Protestantism of Henry VIII was of the most conservative, Catholic kind. For while he wanted a divorce from his wife, which necessitated separation from an unwilling Pope, he remained a Catholic in his personal beliefs and by no means wanted to allow the anti-authoritarian views of the Protestants, especially the Calvinist Protestants, into his kingdom. For, as the Scottish Calvinist John Knox was threateningly to say, “Jehu killed two Kings at God’s commandment…”

 

     Henry’s solution was a kind of Catholicism without the Pope (and one or two other things), but not a real Reformation in the continental sense insofar as, in the words of Ralf Dahrendorf, “a falling out with the Pope is not the same as a true Reformation”.[70] In its origin, therefore, the English Reformation was not a religious event at all, but a political manoeuvre to give the English king more freedom to satisfy his carnal lusts. And the English Church and religion has retained a political, this-worldly stamp ever since.

 

     Later, Anglicanism was to acquire a deeply individualist character, too. This was akin to the doctrine of another German Reformer, Kaspar Schwenkfeld, who asserted, in Barzun’s words, that “if each soul has a unique destiny, then each man and woman may frame his or her creed within the common Christian religion. They deserve to have faith custom-tailored to their needs.” [71]

 

     “At first glance,” writes Bernard, “Henry’s policies seem confused and uncertain; on closer examination they are better described as deliberately ambiguous. For Henry knew what he wanted well enough and was sufficient of a politician to know when and how and when to compromise. He grasped that among churchmen and, increasingly, among the educated laity, religious convictions were polarising. If he were to win acceptance for the break with Rome and the royal supremacy, the pope would have to be denounced, but if radical religious changes were to be enforced, or even if they were simply to be advocated from the pulpits, he risked provoking serious rebellions like the Pilgrimage of Grace. For all the extravagant claims of the Act of Six Articles that it would abolish diversity of opinions, Henry more realistically aimed at steering a path between the extremes.”[72]

 

     “Nor was the Elizabethan religious settlement [the Act of Uniformity in 1559 and the Thirty-Nine Articles in 1571] unequivocally protestant. Elizabeth would have preferred something closer to her father’s catholicism, without the pope and without egregious superstition… Henry VIII and Elizabeth.. saw the monarch as in control of the church, appointing bishops, determining doctrine and liturgy, and capable even of suspending an archbishop from exercising his power, a view perhaps symbolised by the placing of royal arms inside parish churches. At the heart of this monarchical view of the church lay a desire that was essentially political…; a desire for comprehensiveness, for a church that would embrace all their subjects. Religious uniformity was natural in itself; religious dissensions wrecked social harmony and political peace. Continental experiences – from the peasants’ war of 1525 through the French wars of religion to the Thirty Years’ War – reinforced English rulers’ fears of the disastrous consequences of religious divisions, and their success, until 1642, in sparing their realm from such horrors further strengthened their conviction of the efficacy of the policy…”[73]

 

     “My argument is that Henry VIII, Elizabeth, James I and Charles I placed secular and political considerations of order above purely ecclesiastical and theological considerations…, and that from the start, from the 1530s, rulers faced limitations because some of their subjects were papists and some of their subjects wanted further reformation. Given the fact of religious difference, given that rulers knew that their subjects, especially the more educated, were divided, sometimes in response to theological debates European rather than just national in scope, a measure of compromise and ambiguity, particularly on points of doctrine or of local liturgical practice, was deliberately fostered.”[74]

 

     “Larger cracks can be papered over than one might supposed. But in extraordinary circumstances, if contradictions with which men have long deliberately or unconsciously lived can no longer be accommodated or overlooked, if a monarchical church is faced by urgent demands for unambiguous, uncompromising decisions of divisive questions, then the ensuing collapse can be violent. When Englishmen ultimately turned to war in 1642, those differences of religion that the monarchical church had striven to contain but to which it was always vulnerable proved to be the most embittering determinant of men’s allegiance.”[75]

 

     By making the King, and later Parliament, the supreme arbiter of faith and morals, the Act of Supremacy infused the English Church and people with the habit of compromise, of perpetually seeking some middle way between opposing opinions. This habit is extremely harmful in questions of religious truth, where, as St. Mark of Ephesus pointed out, there can be no middle way between truth and falsehood. The via media was imposed upon the Church because it had been chosen by the King, who, for political and personal reasons, wanted some compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism. It meant that henceforth the Anglican Church represented not one faith, but an uneasy compromise between two, with the king as the arbiter and supreme judge over both of them.

 

     Now “if the State, as law and authority,” writes Tikhomirov, “departs from its connection with a definite confession, that is, comes out from under the influence of the religious confession on religious politics, it becomes the general judge of all confessions and submits religion to itself. All relations between various confessions, and their rights, must evidently be decided by the State that is outside them, being governed exclusively by its own ideas about justice and the good of society and the State. In this connection it obviously has the complete right and every opportunity to be repressive in all cases in which, in its opinion, the interests of the confession contradict civil and political interests. Thus the situation emerges in which the State can influence the confessions, but cannot and must not be influenced by them. Such a State is already unable to be governed in relation to the confessions by any religious considerations, for not one of the confessions constitutes for it a lawful authority, whereas the opinions of financiers, economists, medics, administrators, colonels, etc. constitute its lawful consultants, so that in all spheres of the construction of the people’s life the State will be governed by considerations drawn precisely from these sources.

 

     “In such an order there can be no religious freedom for anyone. Perhaps – and this is doubtful – there can be equal rights for the confessions. But freedom and equality of rights are not the same thing. Equality of rights can also consist of a general lack of rights. The State can, [for example,] on the basis of cultural and medical considerations, take measures against circumcision and forbid fasting; to avoid disorders or on the basis of sanitary considerations it can forbid pilgrimages to holy places or to venerated relics; on the basis of military demands it can forbid all forms of monasticism among Christians, Buddhists, Muslims. The services themselves can be found to be harmful hypnotisations of the people not only in public, but also in private prayer. In general, there are no bounds to the State’s prohibitory measures in relation to religions if it is placed outside them, as their general judge…”[76]

 

     However, if Henry had confined himself to the Act of Supremacy, England might have remained an essentially Catholic country, with the very real possibility of reversion to full Papism after Henry’s death. But then, in 1536, came the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

 

     This had three very important consequences: (i) it destroyed the economic power of the Church; (ii) it vastly increased the wealth of the landed aristocrats who eventually took over most of the monastic lands, and (iii) it undermined the sacredness of property and therefore law and order in general.

 

     As Professor Christopher Hill writes: “The long-term outcome of the [English] Reformation was the opposite of that intended by the Machiavellians who introduced it. Charles I’s Secretary of State, the near-papist Windebanke, pointed out to the representative of the Pope in England the historical irony of the situation. ‘Henry VIII committed such sacrilege by profaning so many ecclesiastical benefices in order to give their goods to those who, being so rewarded, might stand firmly for the king in the lower house; and now the king’s greatest enemies are those who are enriched by these benefices… O the great judgements of God!’ The overthrow of papal authority by Henry VIII thus looks forward to the civil war and the execution of Charles I. The royal supremacy yielded place to the sovereignty of Parliament and then to demands for the sovereignty of the people. The plunder of the Church by the landed ruling class stimulated the development of capitalism in England. The attack on Church property by the rich led to a questioning of property rights in general…”[77]

 

     Thus “men learnt that church property was not sacrosanct, that traditional ecclesiastical institutions could disappear without the world coming to an end; that laymen could remodel not only the economic and political structures of the Church but also its doctrine – if they possessed political power. Protestant theology undermined the uniquely sacred character of the priest, and elevated the self-respect of the congregation. This helped men to question a divine right to tithes, the more so when tithes were paid to lay impropriators. Preaching became more important than the sacraments; and so men came to wonder what right non-preaching ministers, or absentees, had to be paid by their congregations. It took a long time to follow out these new lines of thought to their logical conclusions; but ultimately they led men very far indeed. By spreading ideas of sectarian voluntarism they prepared the way for the Revolution of 1640, and trained its more radical leaders.

 

     “In the Revolution episcopacy was abolished, bishops’ and cathedral lands confiscated, the payment of tithes challenged. The radicals rejected not only Henry VIII’s episcopal hierarchy but the whole idea of a state church. ‘O the great judgements of God!’ Windebanke had exclaimed when contemplating the paradoxical outcome of the Henrician Reformation. Henry VIII had denied the supremacy of the Pope; he had confiscated church property; and he had allowed the Scriptures to be translated into English. These challenges to the authoritarianism, to the wealth and to the propaganda monopoly of the Church opened doors wider than was perhaps intended. A century later the authority first of King, then of Parliament, was challenged in the name of the people; the social justification of all private property was called into question; and speculation about the nature of the state and the rights of the people went to lengths which ultimately terrified the victorious Parliamentarians into recalling King, House of Lords, and bishops to help them to maintain law and order.”[78]

 

     Until the death of Henry, the English Reformation had been a mainly politico-economic affair that affected only a small section of the population. But in the reign of Edward VI, religious passions came to the fore, polarising the people between sharply opposed alternatives. During the reign of Edward, when Calvinists took over the reins of government, the dissolution of the monasteries assumed such large proportions and brutal destructiveness as finally to arouse the indignation of large parts of the population, who remained essentially Catholic in their sympathies. Then, during the reign of Mary, a Catholic who was determined to stamp out Calvinism, a persecution of Calvinists got under way that had the good fortune (from a Calvinist point of view) of finding a talented chronicler in the shape of John Foxe.

 

     Foxe’s Book of Martyrs has been called “the third Testament of the English Church”[79], so influential were its gory descriptions of the burning and disembowelling of leading Calvinists on future generations. As Chadwick writes: “The steadfastness of the victims, from Ridley and Latimer downwards, baptized the English Reformation in blood and drove into English minds the fatal association of ecclesiastical tyranny with the See of Rome… Five years before, the Protestant cause was identified with church robbery, destruction, irreverence, religious anarchy. It was now beginning to be identified with virtue, honesty, and loyal English resistance to a half-foreign government.”[80]

 

     Thus the still small number of Calvinists found themselves, at the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, with both money (from the dissolution of the monasteries) and national sentiment (from the fact that foreigners incited the persecution) on their side. Their advantage was greatly strengthened by two events that finally ensured the victory of the English Reformation.

 

     The first was Pope Pius V’s Bull Regnans in Caelis (1570): “He that reigns in the highest, to Whom has been given all power in heaven and earth, entrusted the government of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (outside which there is no salvation) to one man alone on the earth, namely to Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and to Peter’s successor, the Roman pontiff, in fullness of power. This one man He set up as chief over all nations, and all kingdoms, to pluck up, destroy, scatter, dispose, plant and build…We declare … Elizabeth to be a heretic and an abettor of heretics, and those that cleave to her in the aforesaid matters to have incurred the sentence of anathema, and to be cut off from the unity of Christ’s body.… We declare her to be deprived of her pretended right to the aforesaid realm, and from dominion, dignity and privilege whatsoever. And the nobles, subjects and peoples of the said realm, and all others who have taken an oath of any kind to her we declare to be absolved for ever from such oath and from all dues of dominion, fidelity and obedience… And we enjoin and forbid all… to obey her and her admonitions, commands, and laws. All who disobey our command we involve in the same sentence of anathema.”[81]

 

     This decree immediately placed all English Catholics who recognised the Pope’s  authority into the category of political traitors as well as ecclesiastical heretics. But it was the failure of the Spanish Armada in 1588 that removed their last chance of political redemption. Although there is evidence that Queen Elizabeth shared the Catholic sympathies of her father, she did not have the power to resist her Calvinist advisors, especially the Cecils, father and son. From this time, therefore, the decatholicisation of the country proceeded apace with no significant opposition...[82]

 

Holland: the First Capitalist State

 

     The age began with a long-drawn-out struggle for national freedom that prefigured many such struggles in the future. The Dutch Revolution, while less influential than the English in terms of political ideas and influence on the future history of Europe, was nevertheless extremely significant in that it constituted the beginning of the fall of the greatest monarchical power of the age, the Spanish Empire[83], and perhaps the first successful nationalist revolution. “The Revolt of the Netherlands,” writes Norman Davies, “which began in 1566 and ended in 1648, constituted a long-running drama which spanned the transition from the supremacy of the Habsburgs to that of France. At the outset, the seventeen provinces of the imperial Burgundian Circle that were transferred to Spanish rule in 1551 presented a mosaic of local privileges and cultural divisions. The feudal aristocracy of the countryside constrasted sharply with the wealthy burghers and fishermen of the coastal towns. The francophone and predominantly Catholic Walloons of Hainault, Namur, and Liège contrasted with the Dutch-speaking and increasingly Calvinist population of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht. The central provinces of Flanders and Brabant lay across the main religious and linguistic divide. Over 200 cities controlled perhaps 50 per cent of Europe’s trade, bringing Spain seven times more in taxes than the bullion of the Indies. Certainly, in the initial stages of Spanish rule, the threat to provincial liberties and to the nobles’ control of Church benefices gave greater cause for popular offence than the threat of activating the Inquisition…

 

     “Under the regency of Margaret of Parma, 1559-67, discontent came to a head over a scheme for ecclesiastical reform. Three protesters – William the Silent, Prince of Orange (1533-84), Lamoral, Count of Egmont, and Philip Montmorency, Count of Horn – petitioned the King with the Regent’s permission. They were ridiculed as Geuzen, les Gueux, ‘the Beggars’, and in 1565, in the Edict of Segovia, Philip indicated his refusal to authorize change. Following further petitions for reform, and a meeting in 1566 of confederated nobles at St. Trond, which demanded religious toleration, there occurred a serious outbreak of rioting and religious desecrations. The action of the confederates in helping the Regent to quell the disorders did not deter Philip from ordering general repression. Under the regency of the Duke of Alva, 1567-73, a Council of Tumults, the notorious Bloedbraad or ‘Blood-Council’ was set up to try the King’s opponents. Egmont and Horn were beheaded in the square at Brussels, their severed heads sent to Madrid in a box. William of Orange escaped to lead the continuing fight. With the whole population of the Netherlands condemned to death as heretics by the Church, the south rebelled as well as the north. The ‘Sea Beggars’ attacked shipping. Haarlem, besieged, capitulated. Spanish garrisons spread fire and plunder. Thousands perished from random arrests, mock trials, and casual violence.

 

     “Under the governorships of Don Luis de Requesens, Grand Commander of Castile 1573-6, and of Don John of Austria 1576-8 reconciliation was attempted but failed. Leyden, besieged, survived. The sack of Antwerp during the Spanish Fury of 1576 hardened resistance. Under the regency of the Duke of Parma 1578-92, the split became irreversible. By the Union of Arras (1578) ten southern provinces accepted Spanish terms and recovered their liberties. By the Union of Utrecht (1579) the seven northern provinces resolved to fight for their independence. Thereafter, there was unremitting war…”[84]

 

     The Netherlands immediately proclaimed the principle of religious liberty – the first State to do so. Not only all Protestant sects, but also, as we have seen, Jews, and even – most surprisingly, given the current war against Catholic Spain - Roman Catholics were given freedom to practise their beliefs. All strictly religious faiths were given liberty alongside the newest and most important faith, Capitalism.

 

     As the English Catholic poet Andrew Marvell put it in his poem, “The Character of Holland” (1653):

 

Hence Amsterdam, Turk-Christian-Pagan-Jew,

Staple of Sects and Mint of Schism grew;

That Bank of Conscience, where not one so strange

Opinion but finds Credit, and Exchange.

In vain for Catholicks our selves we bear;

The universal church is onely there.

 

Holland has maintained its reputation of being in the vanguard of liberty, toleration and permissiveness to the present day. It was not by chance that when the foremost expression of the modern ecumenical movement, the “universal church” of the World Council of Churches, was founded in 1948, its centre was designated in Amsterdam…

 

     “In 1581,” writes Almond, “the states of the Union of Utrecht formally abjured their loyalty to Philip II [of Spain]. They denied his divine right to rule. He had betrayed his trust: ‘It is well known to all that if a prince is appointed by God over the land, it is to protect them from harm, even as a shepherd to the guardianship of his flock. The subjects are not created by God for the sake of the prince but rather the prince is established for his subjects’ sake for without them he would not be a prince. Should he violate the laws, he is to be forsaken by his meanest subjects, and to be no longer recognised as prince.’ These were revolutionary sentiments in the sixteenth century, and for some time to come. Even their authors preferred to avoid becoming a republic and looked around for an alternative monarch who would satisfy their demands…”[85]

 

     Nevertheless, the new State was anything but conventional in form. As Davies writes, “its constitution (1584) ensured that the governments of the seven provinces remained separated from a federal council of state at the Hague. The latter was chaired by an executive Stadholder, whose office was generally held, together with the offices of Captain-General and Admiral-General, by the House of Orange… Despite its peculiar, decentralised constitution, [the Netherlands] had every reason to regard itself as the first modern state.”[86]

 

     “The Dutch Republic of the ‘United Provinces of the Netherlands’ – misleadingly known to the English as Holland – was the wonder of seventeenth-century Europe. It succeeded for the same reasons that its would-be Spanish masters failed: throughout the eighty years of its painful birth, its disposable resources were actually growing. Having resisted the greatest military power of the day, it then became a major maritime power in its own right. Its sturdy burgher society widely practised the virtues of prudent management, democracy, and toleration. Its engineers, bankers, and sailors were justly famed… The Dutch Republic rapidly became a haven for religious dissidents, for capitalists, for philosophers, and for painters.”[87]

 

     The Dutch Republic was the first political creation of Calvinist Protestantism, and showed both the strengths and the weaknesses of such a state. Its strengths have been enumerated. Its main weakness was that at the root of its power lay “the root of all evil” – money. Holland was the first “commercial society”, whose aim, as McClelland writes, is “the creation of wealth”. “Holland is a country,” wrote Claude de Saumaise, “where the demon gold is seated on a throne or cheese, and crowned with tobacco”.[88]

 

     This secular, commercial character of the new Dutch state was caused, according to Pieter Geyl, by the fact that it was “the urban lower middle classes” who were mainly inspired to act against the Spaniards, while the town oligarchies “felt themselves… the guardians of the privileges and welfare of town and country, rather than the champions of a particularly new religious faith. In other words, they regarded matters from a secular standpoint, and, while the new Church had in their scheme of things its indispensable place, they felt it incumbent on them carefully to circumscribe this place. From one point of view… the great European movement of the Reformation was a revolt of the lay community under under the leadership of their rulers – a revolt, that is to say, of the State against priestly influence.”[89]

 

     And so, while, as we have said, the Dutch Republic was the first political creation of Calvinism, its purpose was not so much to protect or spread Calvinism as to protect and increase the material prosperity of its citizens. Their attitude to the state, therefore, was that it “had better stop trying to interfere with the serious business of making money.”[90] Although the Calvinist-Puritans did not make money their goal, and profit-making was encouraged only in order to be more effective in doing good, the decay of Puritanism tended to leave mammon in its place. As Cotton Mather said: “Religion begat prosperity and the daughter devoured the mother.” [91]

 

     We find such a link posited, not surprisingly, by polemical Catholic writers, such as Hilaire Belloc: “If we ask what it was in Calvin’s doctrine, apart from the opportunities of its moment and its effect against the clergy, which gave it so much power, the answer is, I think, that it provided an awful object of worship and that it appealed at the same time to a powerful human appetite which Catholicism [and Orthodoxy] opposes. The novel object of worship was an Implacable God: the appetite was the love of money… A Philosophy which denied good works and derided abnegation let it [the love of money] loose in all its violence.”[92]

 

     But it was the German social scientist Max Weber who developed the idea of a direct link between Protestantism, especially Calvinism, and those attitudes and kinds of working habit that are conducive to capitalism. His theory, writes Landes, postulates “that Protestantism – more specifically, its Calvinist branches – promoted the rise of modern capitalism.. not by easing or abolishing those aspects of the Roman faith that had deterred or hindered free economic activity (the prohibition of usury, for example); nor by encouraging, let alone inventing, the pursuit of wealth; but by defining and sanctioning an ethic of everyday behavior that conduced to business success.

 

     “Calvinistic Protestantism, said Weber, did this initially by affirming the doctrine of predestination. This held that one could not gain salvation by faith or deeds; that question had been decided for everyone from the beginning of time, and nothing could alter one’s fate.

 

     “Such a belief could easily have encouraged a fatalistic attitude. If behavior and faith make no difference, why not live it up? Why be good? Because, according to Calvinism, goodness was a plausible sign of election. Anyone could be chosen, but it was only reasonable to suppose that most of those chosen would show by their character and ways the quality of their souls and the nature of their destiny. This implicit reassurance was a powerful incentive to proper thoughts and behavior. As the Englishwoman Elizabeth Walker wrote her grandson in 1689, alluding to one of the less important but more important signs of grace, ‘All cleanly people are not good, but there are few good people but are cleanly.’ And while hard belief in predestination did not last more than a generation or two (it is not the kind of dogma that has lasting appeal), it was eventually converted into a secular code of behavior: hard work, honesty, seriousness, the thrifty use of money and time (both lent us by God). ‘Time is short,’ admonished the Puritan divine Richard Baxter (1615-1691), ‘and work is long’.

 

     “All of these values help business and capital accumulation, but Weber stressed that the good Calvinist did not aim at riches. (He might easily believe, however, that honest riches are a sign of divine favor.) Europe did not have to wait for the Protestant Reformation to find people who wanted to be rich. Weber’s point is that Protestantism produced a new kind of businessman, a different kind of person, one who aimed to live and work a certain way. It was the way that mattered, and riches were at best a by-product.

 

     “A good Calvinist would say, that was what was wrong with Spain: easy riches, unearned wealth. Compare the Protestant and Catholic attitudes towards gambling in the early modern period. Both condemned it, but Catholics condemned it because one might (would) lose, and no responsible person would jeopardize his well-being and that of others in that manner. The Protestants, on the other hand, condemned because one might win, and that would be bad for character. It was only much later that the Protestant ethic degenerated into a set of maxims for material success and smug, smarmy sermons on the virtues of wealth…

 

     “It is fair to say that most historians today would look upon the Weber thesis as implausible and unacceptable; it had its moment and it is gone.

 

     “I do not agree. Not on the empirical level, where records show that Protestant merchants and manufacturers played a leading role in trade, banking, and industry. In manufacturing centers (fabriques) in France and western Germany, Protestants were typically the employers, Catholics the employed. In Switzerland, the Protestant cantons were the centers of export manufacturing industry (watches, machinery, textiles) the Catholic ones were primarily agricultural. In England, which by the end of the sixteenth century was overwhelmingly Protestant, the Dissenters (read Calvinists) were disproportionately active and influential in the factories and forges of the nascent Industrial Revolution.

 

      “Nor on the theoretical. The heart of the matter lay indeed in the making of a new kind of man – rational, ordered, diligent, productive. These virtues, while not new, were hardly commonplace. Protestantism generalized them among its adherents, who judged one another by conformity to these standards. This is a story in itself,  one that Weber did surprisingly little with: the role of group pressure and mutual scrutiny in assuring performance – everybody looking at everyone else and minding one another’s business.

 

     “Two special characteristics of the Protestants reflect and confirm this link. The first was the stress on instruction and literacy, for girls as well as boys. This was a product of Bible reading. Good Protestants were expected to read the holy scriptures for themselves. (By way of contrast, Catholics were catechized but did not have to read, and they were explicitly discouraged from reading the Bible.) The result: greater literacy and a larger pool of candidates for advanced schooling; also greater assurance of continuity of literacy from generation to generation. Literate mothers matter.

 

     “The second was the importance accorded to time. Here we have what the sociologist would call unobtrusive evidence: the making and buying of clocks and watches. Even in Catholic areas such as France and Bavaria, most clockmakers were Protestant; and the use of these instruments of time measurement and their diffusion to rural areas was far more advanced in Britain and Holland than in Catholic countries. Nothing testifies so much as time sensibility to the ‘urbanization’ of rural society, with all that that implies for rapid diffusion of values and tastes…

 

     “Add to this the growing need for fixed capital (equipment and plant) in the industrial sector. This made continuity crucial – for the sake of continued maintenance and improvement and the accumulation of knowledge and experience. These manufacturing enterprises were very different in this regard from mercantile ones, which often took the form of ad hoc mobilizations of capital and labor, brought together for a voyage or venture and subsequently dissolved.”[93]

 

     We should note not only the link between capitalism and Protestantism, but also that of both with Judaism. As we have seen, the Marrano Jews had found a safe refuge in Calvinist Amsterdam, where they prospered exceedingly. And this was no accident. As Cantor notes, “the Calvinists were close readers of the Old Testament and taught a bleak image of a wrathful, judging, and omniscient and omnipotent God that accorded well with Jewish tradition. Calvinist societies were sympathetic to market capitalism as a sign of God’s grace working in the world.

 

     “There was a millenial fervor among the latter-day Calvinists, a sense of the coming end of time. These qualities did not necessarily lead to a more favorable attitude toward the Jews; theoretically it could have gone the other way. But shaped by a Calvinist elite that favored an ethic of hard work, rational application of communal standards to individual behavior, and postponed gratification, a comity of attitude emerged in the early seventeenth century between the ruling capitalist oligarchy in Amsterdam and the rabbinical-capitalist oligarchy that controlled power in the Jewish community. Not only did the Jews of Amsterdam prosper, but Calvinist England readmitted them in 1653, for the first time officially since the 1290s…

 

     Everywhere the Calvinism that spread after 1600 – Holland, England, Scotland, and overseas to the United States, English-speaking parts of the Canada, and South Africa (a Dutch colony until 1815, and British thereafter) – the Jews prospered in business and were given the opportunity in the nineteenth century to enter the learned professions. The Calvinists were too Christian to regard the Jews as fully their equals. But they showed the Jews more than tolerance; they accorded them dignified respect. This was because of Calvinist inclination to the Old Testament literary text in its covenant theology; because the Calvinists and the Jews agreed that business success was a blessing from God and a sign of the worth of the entrepreneur in God’s eyes; and because both religious groups admired the patriarchal family, hard work, social intelligence, rational calculations, and puritanical postponed gratification.”[94]

 

The Old Testament in the New World

 

     The United States of America was founded on strictly religious principles, the principles of Calvinism. Its founders, fleeing persecution at the hands of the Anglican State Church in England, found in New England almost ideal conditions in which to put their doctrine of “theocratic democratism” into practice. These conditions were described in the famous book by the 19th-century political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America:-

 

     “There was a strong family likeness between all the English colonies as they came to birth. All, from the beginning, seemed destined to let freedom grow, not the aristocratic freedom of their motherland, but a middle-class and democratic freedom of which the world’s history had not previously provided a complete example…

 

     “All the immigrants who came to settle on the shores of New England belonged to the well-to-do classes at home. From the start, when they came together on American soil, they presented the unusual phenomenon of a society in which there were no great lords, no common people, and, one may almost say, no rich or poor. In proportion to their numbers, these men had a greater share of accomplishments than could be found in any European nation now. All, perhaps without a single exception, had received a fairly advanced education, and several had made a European reputation by their talents and their knowledge. The other colonies [including the southern English colonies such as Virginia] had been founded by unattached adventurers, whereas the immigrants to New England brought with them wonderful elements of order and morality; they came with their wives and children to the wilds. But what distinguished them from all others was the very aim of their enterprise. No necessity forced them to leave their country; they gave up a desirable social position and assured means of livelihood; nor was their object in going to the New World to better their position or accumulate wealth; they tore themselves away from home comforts in obedience to a purely intellectual craving; in facing the inevitable sufferings of exile they hoped for the triumph of an idea.

 

     “The immigrants, or as they so well called themselves, the Pilgrims, belonged to that English sect whose austere principles had led them to be called Puritans. Puritanism was not just a religious doctrine; in many respects it shared the most democratic and republican theories. That was the element which had aroused its most dangerous adversaries. Persecuted by the home government, and with strict principles offended by the everyday ways of the society in which they lived, the Puritans sought a land so barbarous and neglected by the world that there at last they might be able to live in their own way and pray to God in freedom.”[95]

 

     In the imagination of the Pilgrims, their colonisation of America was like Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land. Just as the Canaanites had to be driven out before the sons of God in the Old Testament, so did the Red Indians before the sons of God in the New. Thus one New England meeting agreed: 1. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Voted. 2. The Lord may give the earth or any part of it to His chosen people. Voted. 3. We are His chosen people. Voted.[96]

 

     And just as Church and State were organically one in Joshua’s Israel, so it was in the Pilgrim Fathers’ America. Thus de Tocqueville writes: “Puritanism… was almost as much a political theory as a religious doctrine. No sooner had the immigrants landed on that inhospitable coast described by Nathaniel Morton than they made it their first care to organise themselves as a society. They immediately passed an act which stated:

 

     “’We whose names are underwritten … having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and the honour of our king and country a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid: and by virtue hereof, do enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.’”[97]

 

     This act of 1620 was the nearest practical incarnation, before or since, of the idea of the social contract that later became such a dominant political idea in the English-speaking countries. As President Ronald Reagan said in 1980: “Three hundred and sixty years ago, in 1620, a group of families dared to cross a mighty ocean to build a future for themselves in a new world. When they arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, they formed what they called a ‘compact’: an agreement among themselves to build a community and abide by its laws. The single act – the voluntary binding together of free people to live under the law – set the pattern for what was to come.”[98]

 

     It did indeed; and to this day, in spite of a waning of zeal and a mixing with many other elements, America still represents that religious idealism and messianism, that can-do mentality and belief in the possibility of solving all problems by rational debate and democratic decision-making, which the Puritans brought with them to the new world.

 

     The Puritan experiment was made possible by the great distance of the new colony from the English king, and by the system adopted by the Crown whereby “a number of immigrants were given the right to form a political society under the patronage of the motherland and allowed to govern themselves in any way not contrary to her laws.”[99] Also, of course, the experiment was carried out in a new world, where neither the weight of historical institutions, such as feudalism and the official Church, nor great differences in wealth or limitations of space or the pressure of external enemies, hindered the development of a society that was unique in the degree of its democratism and egalitarianism. “Although Winthrop called the social structure of New England a ‘mixed Aristocracy’, the ‘democratic’ tendencies hostile to any form of hereditary power were nevertheless quite pronounced from the beginning.”[100]

 

     But this is not to say that the Pilgrims came to America with their minds a complete tabula rasa politically speaking. In 1648, at a synod in Cambridge, Mass., they set out their ideas about authority in quite sophisticated terms: “This Government of the church is a mixed Government…. In respect of Christ, the Head and King of the church, and the Sovereign power residing in Him, and exercised by Him, it is a Monarchy. In respect of the body, or Brotherhood of the church, and power granted unto them, it resembles a Democracy. In respect of the Presbytery (i.e. the Elders) and power committed to them, it is an Aristocracy” (X, 3).”[101]

 

     The “theocratic democratism” of the Puritan communities became the basis of the federal structure of the United States of America. They claimed that this system corresponded to the practice of the early Church, and especially to the structure of ancient Israel, with its distrust of all monarchical power. For God had allowed Samuel to anoint the first king, Saul, only on sufferance, and the prophets are full of denunciations of the evil deeds of the kings.

 

     Indeed, as A.P. Lopukhin writes: "On examining the structure of the Mosaic State, one is involuntarily struck by its similarity to the organisation of the state structure in the United States of Northern America." "The tribes in their administrative independence correspond exactly to the states, each of which is a democratic republic." The Senate and Congress "correspond exactly to the two higher groups of representatives in the Mosaic State - the 12 and 70 elders." "After settling in Palestine, the Israelites first (in the time of the Judges) established a union republic, in which the independence of the separate tribes was carried through to the extent of independent states."[102]

 

     However, it needs to be said, first, that although ancient Israel was indeed a theocracy, as such it was an embryonic form, not of the State, but of the Church. The confusion between Church and State was possible in the case of ancient Israel, which represents a very early, embryonic and unrepeatable stage in the history of the people of God. But in the New Testament period, the difference, if not always complete separation, between Church and State is an indisputable fact. Christ recognised it - hence His famous words about giving to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's. Caesar was a king, and neither Christ nor the Apostles either deny or criticise that fact. For all their instructions were directed towards the creation of the Church, the Kingdom which is not of this world and which follows quite different laws from those which obtain in this age.

 

     Secondly, the Church is not a democracy. It is a Kingdom, the Kingdom of God on earth; and even if we abstract God's Kingship from a consideration of its structure, the element of monarchical hierarchy is very pronounced. For just as the 12 and 70 elders of the Mosaic Church were not elected by the people, but were appointed by Moses, so the 12 and 70 Apostles of the New Testament Church were not elected by the believers, but were appointed by Christ Himself. And even though the successors of the Apostles, the Bishops, are in principle elected, it is not their election which makes them bishops, but their consecration by other bishops - a function that cannot be performed by laymen.

 

     Indeed, if one examines the structure of the Orthodox Church since apostolic times, it resembles the federal structure of the Presbyterians or United States only in not having a single head on earth; for each diocese is like a mini-kingdom, and each bishop is like a king, being a regent of the King of heaven. And this is God's appointed order for the Church in both the Old and New Testaments. Nor do the Biblical words about the royal priesthood of all Christians (I Peter 2.9) provide a sound basis for Protestant democratism. For, as Berdyaev writes: "This [universal royal priesthood] by no means implies a denial of the significance of the hierarchical principle in history, as various sectarians would have it. One can come to the universal royal priesthood only by the hierarchical path of the Church. Indeed, the Kingdom of God itself is hierarchical. And the universal royal priesthood is not a denial of the hierarchical structure of existence."[103]

 

     The Puritan colonies of New England represent a striking attempt to reproduce the theocratic structure of Israelite society in the time of the Judges, its laws being derived almost entirely from the Mosaic law. Thus in 1650 the little state of Connecticut drew up a code of laws, which begins: “If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other God but the Lord God, he shall be put to death.”

 

     De Tocqueville writes: “There follow ten or twelve provisions of the same sort taken word for word from Deuteronomy, Exodus, or Leviticus. “Blasphemy, sorcery, adultery, and rape are punished by death; a son who outrages his parents is subject to the same penalty. Thus the legislation of a rough, half-civilised people was transported into the midst of an educated society with gentle mores; as a result the death penalty has never been more frequently prescribed by the laws or more seldom carried out.

 

    “The framers of these penal codes were especially concerned with the maintenance of good behaviour and sound mores in society, so they constantly invaded the sphere of conscience, and there was hardly a sin not subject to the magistrate’s censure. The reader will have noticed the severity of the penalties for adultery and rape. Simple intercourse between unmarried persons was likewise harshly repressed. The judge had discretion to impose a fine or a whipping or to order the offenders to marry. If the records of the old courts of New Haven are to be trusted, prosecutions of this sort were not uncommon; under the date May 1, 1660, we find a sentence imposing a fine and reprimand on a girl accused of uttering some indiscreet words and letting herself be kissed. The code of 1650 is full of preventive regulations. Idleness and drunkenness are severely punished. Innkeepers may give each customer only a certain quantity of wine; simple lying, if it could do harm, is subject to a fine or a whipping. In other places the lawgivers, completely forgetting the great principle of religious liberty which they themselves claimed in Europe, enforced attendance at divine service by threat of fines and went so far as to impose severe penalties, and often the death penalty, on Christians who chose to worship God with a ritual other than their own. Finally, sometimes the passion for regulation which possessed them led them to interfere in matters completely unworthy of such attention. Hence there is a clause in the same code forbidding the use of tobacco. We must not forget that these ridiculous and tyrannical laws were not imposed from outside – they were voted by the free agreement of all the interested parties themselves – and that their mores were even more austere and puritanical than their laws. In 1649 an association was solemnly formed in Boston to check the worldly luxury of long hair…”[104]

 

     Consequently “tolerance” was not, for the Puritans, that queen among virtues that it has become in the contemporary West. Thus in 1645 Thomas Shepard of Newtown (Cambridge) said to Hugh Peter of Salem (where the famous witches’ trial took place): “Toleration of all upon pretence of conscience – I thank God my soul abhors it. The godly in former times never fought for the liberty of consciences by pleading for liberty for all.”[105]

 

     And yet uniformity was not a practical possibility in a nation that combined the Puritanism of New England with the Anglicanism of Virginia, the Roman Catholicism of Maryland with the Quakerism of Pennsylvania. So tolerance, and a strict separation of Church and State, became a necessity if the country was not to fall apart along confessional lines (the Quakers, it should be remembered, rejected all political authority on principle).

 

     The first State to be founded on the principle of religious tolerance was Maryland, designed as a refuge for Roman Catholics persecuted elsewhere. And then there was Rhode Island, founded by refugees fleeing from intolerant Massachusetts. Its early code of laws defined it as a place “where all men may walk as their consciences persuade them, every man in the name of his God”. As a consequence, the State was described by its opponents as “the sink into which all the rest of the colonies empty their heretics”, “the receptacle of all sorts of riff-raff people, and nothing else than the sewer or latrina of New England”.[106] And then there was Pennsylvania, conceived by William Penn as a refuge first of all for Quakers, but then for all persecuted people, the only condition for residence in Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love, being belief in one God, the Creator of the Universe.[107]

 

     This tendency towards tolerance was reinforced by the influence of the European Enlightenment, with the result that America was to move away from its “democratic totalitarian” beginnings to complete separation of Church and State and liberty of conscience.

 

The Anglican Monarchy

 

     England under the Tudors achieved a degree of stability amidst the extreme religious instability of the time. The “Virgin Queen”, Elizabeth I, believed in the Divine right of kings and in the supremacy of the sovereign over all other estates of the realm, including the Church (of which she was the head). Thus in her letters to James VI of Scotland (later James I of England), she lashes out “against Presbyterians and Jesuits alike for their separate attacks on royal authority and power.” Susan Doran claims that Elizabeth’s views had their roots in a Christian Platonism according to which earthly rule was a reflection of the Divine harmony and order, and that consequently “diversity, variety, contention and vain love of singularity, either in our ministers or in the people, must need provoke the pleasure of Almighty God.”[108]

 

     Elizabeth’s position as head of both Church and State was necessitated by the constant threat of civil war between Catholics and Calvinists. In this respect her dilemma was similar to that of the contemporary Henry IV of France, who, though a Calvinist by upbringing, converted to Catholicism in order to bring the his country’s religious wars to an end. For “Paris is worth a mass”, he said: the important thing was that “we are all French and fellow-citizens of the same country”.[109] The Anglican monarchy similarly aimed to make everyone consciously English and citizens of the same country, whatever their religion. The result was a nation united around “a Calvinist creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy.”[110]

 

     It is instructive to compare the position of these European monarchs with that of the almost exactly contemporary Moghul Emperor Akbar, who had to avert a similar threat of civil war between Hindus and Muslims. Sir A.C. Lyall writes: “[Akbar] instituted a kind of metaphysical society, over which he presided in person, and in which he delighted in pitting against each other Persian mystics, Hindu pantheists, Christian missionaries and orthodox Mohammedans. He even assumed by public edict the spiritual headship of his empire, and declared himself the first appellate judge of ecclesiastical questions. ‘Any opposition,’ said the edict, ‘on the part of subjects to such orders passed by His Majesty shall involve damnation in the world to come, and loss of religion and property in this life.’ The liturgy of the Divine Faith, as it was named, was a sort of Iranian sun-worship, embodying eclectic doctrines and the principle of universal tolerance. We may be reminded that the Roman Emperor Julian adopted, like Akbar, the sun as the image of all-pervading dignity; and that he also asserted pontifical authority. In each instance the new theosophy disappeared at the death of its promulgator; for great religious revolutions are never inaugurated by temporal authority, but invariably begin among the people. Nothing, however, could demonstrate more clearly the strength of Akbar’s government than the fact that he could take upon himself spiritual supremacy, and proclaim with impunity doctrines that subverted the fundamental law and the primary teaching of Islam. In not other Mohammedan kingdom could the sovereign have attempted such an enterprise without imminent peril to his throne. Akbar’s political object was to provide some common ground upon which Hindus and Mohammedans might be brought nearer to religious unity; though it is hardly necessary to add that no such modus vivendi has at any time been discovered.”[111]

 

     Elizabeth’s task was hardly less difficult than Akbar’s, and the attempt to contain the pressures of conflicting religions under an absolutist monarch collapsed within forty years of her death. However, she made a valiant attempt, clothing and obscuring the Calvinist, and therefore anti-monarchical, creed of the State in a purely Catholic monarchical pomp and ritualism. Thus while the 39 articles of the Anglican Creed admitted only two sacraments, baptism and the eucharist (the latter interpreted in a distinctly Protestant sense), and rejected the sacrament of the priesthood, room was somehow found for a sacramental mystique of the monarchy, as expressed in Shakespeare’s Richard II (III, ii, 54-7):

 

Not all the water in the rough rude sea

Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;

The breath of worldly men cannot depose

The deputy elected by the Lord.

 

and Hamlet (IV, v, 123-4):

 

There’s such a divinity doth hedge a king

That treason can but peep to what it would…

 

     The monarch was the capstone of the whole social order, founded on hierarchy (or “degree”), as expressed in Troilus and Cressida (I, 3, 109):

 

Take but degree away, untune that string,

And hark what discord follows! Each thing melts

In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters

Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,

And make a sop of all this solid globe;

Strength should be lord of imbecility,

And the rude son should strike his father dead;

Force should be right; or, rather, right and wrong –

Between whose endless jar justice resides –

Should lose their names, and so should justice too.

 

     It is worth pondering why the monarchy continued to exert such a mystical attraction in a nation which was well on the way to ejecting all mysticism from its political and ecclesiastical life. Part of the answer must lie in the upsurge of patriotism which accompanied the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, whose focus became the virgin Queen Elizabeth. Another part must lie in the nostalgia for the past that was so rapidly being destroyed, a past in which the figure of the anointed king played such an important role.

 

     Even today, when democratism appears to have finally triumphed, the monarchy remains popular in England. And at the heart of the democracy, Westminster Abbey, there still lies the body of the most holy of the Orthodox kings of England, Edward the Confessor, like a rose among thorns. It is as if the English people, even while leading the way into the new democratic age, subconsciously feel that they have lost something vitally important, and cling to the holy corpse with despairing tenacity, refusing to believe that the soul has finally departed.

 

     Thus even such a convinced democrat as C.S. Lewis could write of the monarchy as “the channel through which all the vital elements of citizenship - loyalty, the consecration of secular life, the hierarchical principle, splendour, ceremony, continuity - still trickle down to irrigate the dustbowl of modern economic Statecraft".[112] And even today, hysteria can seize a whole nation on the death of a princess, for little other reason than that she was a princess. Thus monarchism is something deeply rooted with the human psyche which we attempt to uproot at our peril…

 

     Most recently, Roger Scruton has spoken of the English monarchy as “the light above politics, which shines down on the human bustle from a calmer and more exalted sphere. Not being elected by popular vote, the monarch cannot be understood as representing the views only of the present generation. He or she is born into the position, and also passes it on to a legally defined successor. The monarch is in a real sense the voice of history, and the very accidental[113] way in which the office is acquired emphasises the grounds of the monarch’s legitimacy, in the history of a place and a culture. This is not to say that kings and queens cannot be mad, irrational, self-interested or unwise. It is to say, rather, that they owe their authority and their influence precisely to the fact that they speak for something other than the present desires of present voters, something vital to the continuity and community which the act of voting assumes. Hence, if they are heard at all, they are head as limiting the deomocratic process, in just the way that it must be limited if it is to issue in reasonable legislation. It was in such a way that the English conceived their Queen, in the sunset days of Queen Victoria. The sovereign was an ordinary person, transfigured by a peculiar enchantment which represented not political power but the mysterious authority of an ancient ‘law of the land’. When the monarch betrays that law – as, in the opinion of many, the Stuarts betrayed it – a great social and spiritual unrest seizes the common conscience, unrest of a kind that could never attend the misdemeanours of an elected president, or even the betrayal of trust by a political party.”[114]

 

     Chadwick writes: “Something about an English king distinguished him from the godly prince of Germany or Sweden. While everyone agreed that a lawful ruler was called of God, and that obedience was a Christian duty, it would not have been so natural for a Lutheran to write that a divinity doth hedge a king. Offspring of an ancient line, crowned with the anointing of medieval ritual, he retained an aura of mystique which neither Renaissance nor Reformation at once dispelled. It is curious to find the Catholic king of France touching the scrofulous to heal them until a few years before the French Revolution. It is much more curious to find the Protestant sovereigns of England, from Elizabeth to James II, continuing to perform the same ritual cures, and to note that the last reigning sovereign to touch was Queen Anne in 1714… King James I had been educated in Scotland, undertook the duty reluctantly, and began his first rite by preaching a sermon against superstition. But this reluctance faded, and Charles I had no qualms. The supernatural aura of the anointed head was long in dying, and must be reckoned with when judging the unusual English forms of the divine right.”[115]

 

The Rise of Parliament

 

     From about the beginning of the seventeenth century we see the beginnings of what we might call the first politically organized and intellectually justified assault on the Monarchy in European history. It came from the English parliament, an ancient institution which in earlier centuries had been used to help the king in his administration, but which was now to be used against him. The assault of the English parliament on the English king would be the event, more than any other, that gave birth to the politics of modernity…

 

     The leaders of parliament, writes George, “set about defending the ‘ancient constitution of the realm’, righting the abuses of Magna Carta, and similar ‘conservative’ enterprises, while in fact building procedures and precedents and organizational devices intended to alter radically the relation of Parliamnet to the King and his non-Parliamentary councils. All the initiative came from the Commons, but the House of Lords was skillfully used by the Commoners so that the potentially radical nature of the change from power organized by hierarchy to power based on property was not perceived until too late by the peers.

 

     “Once the organizational mechanisms (committee systems, House control of the Speaker, and, above all, the informal caucuses about which we know least but which were crucially the genius of the new English politicians) were fixed, and the interior lines of communication among the interested oligarchies established, the Commons elite increasingly ventured public argument for their revolutionary precepts. In 1604 the new King, James I, was greeted with a document drafted in the House of Commons that would have been inconceivable in the generation which hailed the accession of Elizabeth – a long, rambling, theoretical, and blatantly propagandistic statement of the constitutional position of Parliament. More significant that the actual words of the document is the fact that the Commoners could feel themselves ready for such a redefinition of their power in terms completely alien to the form and spirit of that ‘ancient’ constitution they purported to defend. The Apology argued at length and with heat that the Commons (which they already are beginning to make synonymous with Parliament) alone represented ‘the voice of the people’ and the generality of the commonwealth (and there is an interesting assumption that the vaguer terms ‘generality’, ‘people’, ‘subjects’ – the nationalistic concepts – stand for a higher, more authoritative political reality than ‘estates’ and ‘orders’). Based upon this claim to speak for the whole of the commonwealth, Commons asserted a very broad right to consultation and decision in matters of religion, foreign policy, and other matters of state which in the medieval constitution had been no concern of the knights and burgesses summoned to ‘hear and do’. In the Petition of Right of 1610 they repeated their attack on the prerogative of the Crown (this time in financial matters) and reasserted that they ‘held it on ancient, general, and undoubted right of Parliament to debate freely all matters which do properly concern the subject and his right or state.’

 

     “The institutional struggle – or, more properly, to correct the Whiggish cast the history of this period is usually given, the revolutionary usurpation of the Commons – continued as a public debate for forty years before the decision was left to the armies. James wrote a letter to the Commons warning of his displeasure with those ‘fiery and popular spirits’ who were meddling in ‘matters far above their reach and capacity’ and commanding the Speaker ‘to make known, in our name, unto the House that none therein shall presume henceforth to meddle with anything concerning our government or deep matters of State.’ Under the leadership of the great jurist Sir Edward Coke, the House stood up intractably for its revolutionary dogma: ‘That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England; and that the arduous and urgent affairs concerning the King, State, and defense of the Realm and of the Church of England, and the maintenance and making of laws, and redress of mischiefs and grievances which daily happen within this Realm, are proper subjects and matter of counsel and debate in Parliament; and that in the handling and proceeding of those businesses every member of the House of Parliaments hath, and of right ought to have, freedom of speech… and that every member of the said House hath like freedom from all impeachment, imprisonment, and molestation.’

 

     “The strategy which put teeth into the rhetoric of the Commons was the withholding of the revenue upon which the operation of the state depended. The battle joined on the issue of revenues forced the monarchy to exploit every possible legal ruse to raise monies for the increasing expenses of the state. This desperation in the Privy Council of the King thoroughly alarmed the community of the prosperous – the exigencies of the government, a government which the propertied classes felt irresponsible, began to threaten the security of property even in the courts of common law. Coke once more led the attack; he proposed a bill in 1628 ‘for the better securing of every freeman touching the propriety of his goods and liberty of his person’, and helped send to King Charles in the same year a meticulously drawn document which summed the revolutionary argument as a Petition of Right…

 

     “The Petition of Right was followed in a few weeks by a general ‘Remonstrance’ directed against the chief figure at Court – the Duke of Buckingham – and complaining of unconscionable government. The debates in Commons pushed the new theories of Parliamentary power to extreme limits; it was even demanded that the King renounce his ancient right to the desperately important revenues from Tonnage and Poundage. ‘…forced by that duty which they owe to your Majesty, and to those whom they represent, to declare, that there ought not any imposition to be laid upon the goods of merchants, exported or imported, without common consent by Act of Parliament, which is the right and inheritance of your subjects, founded not only upon the most ancient and original constitution of this kingdom, but often confirmed and declared in divers statute laws.’ Charles could retreat no farther without defaulting the throne he was born to;… he prorogued the Parliament he could not control…”[116]

 

     What made the situation more difficult for Charles than for his father was that, under the influence of his Catholic wife, while not formally abandoning the via media, he had leaned further to the right in ecclesiastical matters. Meanwhile the left, in the form of the Protestant landowners, fattened from the proceeds of the dissolution of the monasteries, became increasingly self-confident and assertive. They were determined never to let this wealth slip from their hands, whether through a Catholic restoration returning their lands to the Church or through allowing the king the right to tax their money from them…     

 

     And so the scene was set for the English revolution - “that grand crisis of morals, religion and government”, as Coleridge called it[117], or “the first major breech in Absolute Monarchy and the spawning of the first major, secular, egalitarian and liberal culture in the modern world”, as George calls it[118] - was, together with the French revolution of 1789 and the Russian revolution of 1917, the most important event of modern European history. Like the later revolutions, if not to the same degree, it replaced a mild and moral monarch with a bloody and immoral anarchy. Like them, too, it elicited a very broad range of arguments on the fundamental questions of the origin and nature of the State and its relationship to the Church and people. With the single exception of the Orthodox symphony of powers – which, however, received a powerful contemporary advocate in the person of Patriarch Nicon of Moscow (see next chapter) – the pros and cons of all the major forms of government were exhaustively discussed, often by men such as John Milton who were of undoubted, if not well-balanced, genius.

 

     “Taking everything together,” wrote Guizot, “the English revolution was essentially political; it was brought about in the midst of a religious people and in a religious age; religious thoughts and passions were its instruments; but its chief design and definite aim were political, were devoted to liberty, and the abolition of all absolute power.”[119] What Guizot meant is illustrated by the words of John Lilburne, who clothed his communist political programme in religious quotations: “Christ doth not choose many rich, nor many wise, but the fools, idiots, base and contemptible poor men and women in the esteem of the world.”[120] John Milton used similarly religious language to clothe his revolutionary message: “Why else was this nation chosen before any other, that out of her as out of Zion should be sounded forth the first tidings and trumpet of reformation to all Europe? Now once again, by all concurrence of signs and the general instinct of holy and devout men, God is decreeing to begin some new and great reformation in his Church, even to the reforming of the Reformation itself. What does He, then, but reveal Himself to His servants, and (as His manner is) first to His Englishmen?”[121]

 

     The English revolution was “revolution” in the older sense of a cyclical movement. For it brought things back to the status quo ante formally, if not essentially. Thus in the space of two generations, from 1642 to 1688, England underwent successively: an Anglican monarchy, a Calvinist parliamentocracy, the beginnings of a communist revolution, a military dictatorship, the restoration of the Anglican monarchy, a Catholic absolute monarchy, and the second restoration of the Anglican (now constitutional) monarchy.

 

     And yet it was also a revolution in the more radical sense in that nothing was ever really the same again in England, and by extension, the West…

 

     The English revolution illustrated the fact that, to misquote Dostoyevsky: “If the king does not exist, everything is permitted.” In a remarkably short space of time the initiative passed from the king and the aristocracy to the propertied gentry to the army to the army agitators, until the slide to the extreme left was halted by force – the force of Cromwell’s military dictatorship. The eventual winners were the landowning aristocracy, who succeeded in muzzling the power of the king, on the one hand, and suppressing the revolutionary commoners, on the other.

 

The Divine Right of Kings

 

     Let us examine the two main sets of ideas that the revolution threw up: the Divine Right of Kings, on the one hand, and the sovereignty of the people, on the other.

 

     We have seen that the first century or so of the Protestant Reformation witnessed a strengthening of monarchical power. This had happened for different reasons in different countries: on the continent because the Protestants had looked to the Princes to protect them against the Catholic powers, and because the rising class of the bourgeoisie wanted some protection against the anti-mercantile aristocracy[122], in England because the king himself had initiated the break with Rome for his own personal and political ends.[123] But Protestantism of both the Lutheran and Calvinist varieties contained within itself the seeds of the overthrow of all authority, both religious and political; it threatened bishops as well as Popes, kings as well as bishops. Luther’s doctrine of the priesthood of all believers directly attacked the special authority of bishops and priests; but indirectly it attacked the power of kings, too, insofar as they were perceived as receiving their authority from God via the priesthood in the sacrament of royal anointing. Calvin’s doctrine of the elect’s absolute assurance of salvation, and of the supremacy of conscience over law, was as much a threat to the laws of the kings as it was to the doctrines of the bishops.

 

     Moreover, the Calvinist doctrine contained a frightening corollary which was rarely expressed in so many words but was about to be expressed in many actions: the conviction, namely, that just as the elect had absolute assurance of their own salvation, they had similar assurance of their opponents’ damnation, and could therefore dispose of them with the ruthlessness that befitted the knowledge of their worthlessness. Transposed onto a more secular soil and into a less godly age, this belief would justify the elimination of whole classes and peoples supposedly doomed to extinction by the ruthless and irresistible march of history…

 

     In England, the Stuart kings, being conscious of at least some of these consequences of the State’s officially Calvinist doctrine, began to move to the religious and political “right” at the same time as their subjects began to fan out, as it were, to the left. In international affairs, they became less unambiguously supportive of their brethren in the Protestant International, and more supportive of their fellow monarchs’ authority, whether they were Catholic or Protestant (after the Restoration, James II received subsidies from the ultramontane Louis XIV). In internal affairs, they began to act more by fiat, consulting less with parliament and other elected assemblies, and began to develop the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.

 

     James I, like his predecessor Elizabeth I, believed in hierarchy and the order of being, and considered that “equality is the mother of confusion and an enemy of the Unity which is the Mother of Order”.[124] At the same time he acknowledged that there is an important distinction between an autocrat, who “acknowledges himself ordained for his people”, and a tyrant, who “thinks his people ordained for him, a prey to his passions and inordinate appetites.” Although a king was “a little God to sit on this throne and rule over other men”, he nevertheless had to provide a good example to his subjects.[125] But while not free in relation to God, the king was free in relation to his subjects. Hence the title of James’ book, The True Law of Free Monarchies.

 

     “Kings are justly called gods,” said James to parliament in 1610, “for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power upon earth. For if you will consider the attributes of God, you shall see how they agree in the person of the king. God hath power to create or destroy; make or unmake at His pleasure; to give life or send death; to judge all and to be judged nor accountable to none; to raise low things and to make high things low at His pleasure. And the like power have kings.”[126]

 

     According to this theory, kings, having their authority from God, and having no authority higher than themselves on earth, cannot be convicted of wrongdoing in the political (as opposed to the personal) sphere. As Shakespeare puts it in Richard II:

 

And shall the figure of God’s majesty,

His captain, steward, deputy elect,

Anointed, crowned, planted many years,

Be judged by subject and inferior breath?

 

     This position was well summed up in an address presented to King Charles II by the elders of Cambridge University in 1681: “We still believe and maintain that our Kings derive not their title from the people, but from God; that to Him only they are accountable; that it belongs not to subjects either to create or censure, but to honour and obey their sovereign, who comes to be so by a fundamental hereditary right of succession, which no religion, no law, no fault or forfeiture can alter or diminish.”[127]

 

     The principle that the king can do no wrong is “a logical inference,” writes Barzun, “from sovereignty itself: the ultimate source of law cannot be charged with making a wrong law or giving a wrong command. Modern democracies follow the same logic when they given their lawmakers immunity for anything said or done in the exercise of their duty; they are members of the sovereign power. Constitutions, it is true, limit lawmaking; but the sovereign people can change the constitution. There is no appeal against the acts of the sovereign unless the sovereign allows, as when it is provided that citizens can sue the state.

 

     “Of course, the monarch can do wrong in another sense – in a couple of senses. He can add up a sum and get a wrong total and he can commit a wrongful act morally speaking – cheating at cards or killing his brother. To make clear this distinction between sovereign and human being, theorists developed quite early the doctrine that ‘the king has two bodies’; as a man he is fallible, as king he is not. Similarly in elective governments, a distinction is made between the civil servant acting in his official capacity and as a private citizen…”[128]

 

     An important aspect of royalist thinking was what may be called the patriarchal theory of royal authority. James I argued that just as God is the Father of mankind, “so the style of Pater patriae was ever, and is commonly applied to Kings.”[129] As such, the King does not merely represent his people: he embodies them – which is why in his edicts he says We, not I.[130] In its fully developed form, writes Ashton, “the patriarchal theory of royal authority was to prove a powerful argument both against the idea that government originated in a political contract between ruler and ruled and against the far more influential notion that representative government and the limitations which it placed on the royal exercise of power were immemorial features of the constitution…. Just as kings were little Gods, so were fathers little monarchs. He who does not honour the king, maintained Thomas Jordan, cannot truly honour his own parents, as the fifth commandment bids him. So, in his speech on the scaffold in February, 1649, the royalist Lord Capel affirmed ‘very confidently that I do die here… for obeying that fifth commandment given by God himself.’.. ‘For this subordination of children is the foundation of all regal authority, by the ordination of God himself.’”[131]

 

     The best known defence of the Divine Right of Kings was Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarchia or the Natural Power of Kings, which was written during Cromwell’s dictatorship, and published in 1680, during the Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II. His thinking was based on the idea that Adam was the first father and king of the whole human race. “He believed,” writes Western, “that God had given the sovereignty of the world to Adam and that it had passed by hereditary descent, through the sons of Noah and the heads of the nations into which mankind was divided at the Confusion of Tongues, to all the modern rulers of the world. Adam was the father of all mankind and so all other men were bound to obey him: this plenary power has passed to his successors.”[132]

 

     The problem with this view, according to John Locke in his First Treatise of Civil Government (1681), as interpreted by McClelland, is that “the book of Genesis does not actually say that God gave the world to Adam to rule; Adam is never referred to as king.” However, this is not a powerful objection, because, even if the word “king” is not used, God does say to Adam that he is to have “dominion over… every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1.28). But “Locke then goes on to say: suppose we concede, for which there is no biblical evidence, that Adam really was king by God’s appointment. That still leaves the awkward fact that Genesis makes no mention of the kingly rights of the sons of Adam; there is simply no reference to the right of hereditary succession. Locke then goes on to say: suppose we concede both Adam’s title to kingship and the title of the sons of Adam, for neither of which there is biblical evidence, how does that help kings now to establish their titles by Divine Right? Despite the biblical concern with genealogy, the line of Adam’s posterity has become hopelessly scrambled. How can any king at the present time seriously claim that he is in the line of direct descent from Adam?… Because the genealogy since Adam is scrambled, it is perfectly possible that all the present kings are usurpers, or all the kings except one. Perhaps somewhere the real, direct descendant of Adam is alive and living in obscurity, cheated of his birthright to universal monarchy by those pretending to call themselves kings in the present world.”[133]

 

     However, shorn of its dependence on the idea of Adam as the first king, Filmer’s teaching that kingship, like fatherhood, is natural and therefore Divine in origin, is not so easily refuted. The people “are not born free by nature” and “there never was any such thing as an independent multitude, who at first had a natural right to a community [of goods]”. As Harold Nicolson writes: “‘This conceit of original freedom’, as he said, was ‘the only ground’ on which thinkers from ‘the heathen philosophers’ down to Hobbes had built the idea that governments were created by the deliberate choice of free men. He [Filmer] believed on the contrary, as an early opponent put it, that ‘the rise and right of government’ was natural and native, not voluntary and conventional’. Subjects therefore could not have a right to overturn a government because the original bargain had not been kept. There were absurdities and dangers in the opposing view. ‘Was a general meeting of a whole kingdom ever known for the election of a Prince? Was there any example of it ever found in the world?’ Some sort of majority decision, or the assumption that a few men are allowed to decide for the rest, are in fact the only ways in which government by the people can be supposed to have been either initiated or carried on. But both are as inconsistent as monarchy with the idea that men are naturally free. ‘If it be true that men are by nature free-born and not to be governed without their own consents and that self-preservation is to be regarded in the first place, it is not lawful for any government but self-government to be in the world… To pretend that a major part, or the silent consent of any part, may be interpreted to bind the whole people, is both unreasonable and unnatural; it is against all reason for men to bind others, where it is against nature for men to bind themselves. Men that boast so much of natural freedom are not willing to consider how contradictory and destructive the power of a major part is to the natural liberty of the whole people.’ The claims of representative assemblies to embody the will of the people are attacked on these lines, in a manner recalling Rousseau. Filmer also points out that large assemblies cannot really do business and so assemblies delegate power to a few of their number: ‘hereby it comes to pass that public debates which are imagined to be referred to a general assembly of a kingdom, are contracted into a particular or private assembly’. In short ‘Those governments that seem to be popular are kinds of petty monarchies’ and ‘It is a false and improper speech to say that a whole multitude, senate, council, or any multitude whatsoever doth govern where the major part only rules; because many of the multitude that are so assembled… are governed against and contrary to their wills.’”[134]

 

English Radicalism

 

     The English revolution threw up a wide range of anti-monarchical sects. The most important of them was the Levellers, who had an important influence on Cromwell’s New Model Army. “The Levellers,” write Downing and Millman, “were so called because they insisted that since all men were equal before God so should they be equal before the law. They were never a political party in the modern sense, but they put forward a number of Leveller programmes. On the basis of these programmes, the Levellers gained support and allies, particularly in London where most of their activities were centred. They were able to raise thousands of signatures for their petitions and thousands turned out for their demonstrations; their support ranged from religious radicals to craftsmen, small masters and shopkeepers. In the same tradition as many religious radicals, they appealed for freedom of religious belief. In pamphlets and petitions they demanded liberty of conscience, the disestablishment of the Church and the abolition of compulsory tithes. As time went on, their outlook became more secular[135] with demands for legal reforms and for equal application of the laws, the end of imprisonment for debt, the abolition of trade monopolies and the end of press censorship. They appealed to many people who had expected and hoped that the end of the war [the first Civil War, which ended in 1646] would herald a new order but instead were faced with high taxes, economic depression and a Parliament which abused its powers.

 

     “The truly revolutionary programme of the Levellers emerged from their attack on the unrepresentativeness of England’s constitution. They looked back to the period when the Norman conquerors had imposed their tyrannical laws on the people of England and looked forward to a new order in which the sovereignty of the people was central and when representative institutions were democratically elected. The alliance with the army was not as strange as might first appear, for the army had entered the arena of national politics and their claim that they were ‘not a mere mercenary army’ but defenders of the people’s liberties clearly had resonances with the Levellers. In the heady mixture of radical ideas, stirred by unrest among the soldiers for the delay in the settlement of their grievances, the Levellers drew up their challenge to the commanders of the army. In October 1647 in The Case of the Army Truly Stated, they strongly argued for actions to be taken speedily to redress the soldiers’ grievances. From the specifics relating to the army the Case moved on a more general attack on Parliament and demands for long-term constitutional reforms. Fairfax, the Commander-in-Chief of the New Model Army, knew that if he was to retain unity he must respond quickly. A General Council was summoned to a meeting at Putney church in London on 28 October 1647. These discussions, now famous as the Putney Debates, have become historically significant because they attempted to provide a new constitution for England. At the centre of these debates on democracy was another Leveller manifesto, The Agreement of the People, jointly drafter by civilian and army Levellers…

 

     The Agreement called for the same freedoms as the other Leveller manifestos but went further in its claims for the rights of the people within a new constitutional and democratic framework. The basic principle of the new constitution was that it was to be subscribed by the people who would elect a representative parliament, answerable only to the people and not to the King nor the House of Lords. ‘Therefore these things in the Agreement, the people are to claim as their native right and price of their blood, which you obliged absolutely to procure for them. And these being the foundation of freedom, it is necessary that they should be settled unalterably, which can be done by no means but this Agreement with the people.’ Controls on parliamentary power would be effected by biennial Parliaments and the decentralization of power from central government to local authorities, also democratically elected. To achieve this, an extension of the franchise was imperative; althought the Levellers were accused of speaking for ‘hobnayles, clouted shoes and leather aprons’, they did not argue for universal suffrage – servants, apprentices, beggars and women (the latter never even mentioned) were excluded. To twentieth-century eyes, this is a remarkable omission but the Levellers wanted the vote for those who were truly independent and the argument against giving it to servants, apprentices and women was that their vote could too easily by influenced by their ‘masters’. Even so, the Levellers programme was too radical to be acceptable to Cromwell and the other army grandees and neither side was prepared to make concessions…

 

     “…A return to fighting did not halt the progress of the radical impulse which during the 1640s and 50s opened up the possibility of a fundamental overturning of seventeenth-century society. During 1648 the Agreement of the People continued to be discussed and a compromise reached. Some reforms recommended by the Levellers were adopted by the government of the new republic, the Commonwealth, which abolished the House of Lords and the monarchy the following year. The failure to concede the more fundamental reforms was greeted by [the Levellers’ leaders] Lilburne, Walwyn and Overton with a series of pamphlets denouncing the new government as hypocritical and despotic. They were all arrested and imprisoned in the Tower. Cromwell, recognizing their threat to the stability of the new Parliament, warned ‘if you do not break them, they will break you’.”[136]

 

     Another revolutionary sect was the Diggers, who followed in the communist traditions of the Bohemian Taborites and German and Dutch Anabaptists. “In April 1649,” write Downing and Millman, “a group of poor men and women collected on the common on St. George’s Hill in Surrey and began to dig up the land and form a squatter community. Led by the charismatic George Winstanley their actions symbolized the assumption of ownership of common land. Winstanley believed in universal salvation and in what we would now call communist theories, that all property should be held in common. His visions of common ownership, rather than private property, also extended to equality between the sexes. Drawing on a theory of natural rights, Winstanley also quoted the Bible to support his arguments. Rejecting the traditional teachings of the Church, his was a visionary form of spirituality.[137]

 

     “The Digger colony on St. George’s Hill was not unique; there were others in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire, as well as in other parts of the country. The Diggers of ‘True Levellers’ produced specific demands that confiscated Church, Crown and Royalists’ lands be turned over to the poor. Set out in The Law of Freedom, Winstanley challenged existing property relations in the name of true Christian freedom and put forward his hopes for a communist Utopia. Earlier had had written: ‘they had resolved to work and eat together, making the earth a common treasury, doth join hands with Christ to lift up the creation from bondage, and restores all things from the curse.’ Almost inevitably, the Digger colonies failed, some harassed by local residents, others by local justices. However, their ideas lay in their ideas and their actions…

 

     “One group, known as the Ranters, pushed toleration to the limit. In no way a sect nor an organized congretation, this loose group of individuals provoked fear and hostility quite out of proportion to their numbers. As individuals they were undeniably provocative; taking their belief in the individual’s personal relationship with God to its extreme, they broke with all traditions and moral constraints. By the standards of their day they appeared sexually and socially immoral….

 

     “Mainstream Protestantism was, however, to face its biggest challenge from the Quakers. The Quakers of the seventeenth century had little in common with the Friends of today, known for their pacifism and quietism. The Quakers originated in the north of England and found adherents among farmers and artisans as well as the poor. Like the Diggers, they believed in universal salvation and the notion of Christ within the individual. Their success in evangelising is proved by the numbers of converst: in 1652 they numbered about 500, by 1657 there were perhaps 50,000. Their leaders were often flamboyant and aggressive in their beliefs; Quakers also demanded religious freedom alongside calls for social reforms. They were to be found disrupting services in the ‘steeplehouses’, their name for parish churches. They refused to pay tithes and challenged the authority of local magistrates. Their belief in equality of all men in the sight of God led them to eschew traditional forms of deference; they refused ‘hat-honour’, the removing of hats in front of figures of authority. Equality also meant that large numbers of women were attracted to the Quaker faith and shared in the preaching and dissemination of the Quaker faith. The trial of James Nayler was significant not just in the brutality of Nayler’s punishment but because it focused the confusion around the idea of liberty of ‘godly conscience’. The Quaker menace brought a return to an established order with an attempt to impose compulsory religious worship on Sundays. But the national church was split irrevocably…”[138]

 

The Killing of the King

 

     The climax of the English revolution was the trial and beheading of King Charles I in 1649, the first ideologically motivated and judicially executed regicide in history. Before then, kings had been killed in abundance, and many Popes since Gregory VII had presumed to depose kings. But Charles I was not deposed by any Church or Pope; he was not the victim of a simple coup; he was charged with treason against the State by his subjects, laymen like himself.

 

     Treason by a king rather than against him?! The idea was paradoxical in the extreme. As Christopher Hill writes: “high treason was a personal offence, a breach of personal loyalty to the King: the idea that the King himself might be a traitor to the realm was novel”.[139] The king himself articulated the paradoxicality of the revolution during his trial, declaring: “A King cannot be tried by any superior jurisdiction on earth.”

 

     As a supposedly Shakespearean addition to the play Sir Thomas More put it:

 

For to the king God hath his office lent

Of dread of justice, power and command,

Hath bid him rule and willed you to obey;

And to add ampler majesty to this,

He hath not only lent the king his figure,

His throne and sword, but given him his own name,

Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,

Rising ‘gainst him that God himself installs

But rise ‘gainst God?[140]

 

     At his trial Charles had said that the king was the guarantor of his people’s liberties: “Do you pretend what you will, I will stand for their liberties – for if a power without law may make laws, may alter the fundamental laws of the kingdom, I do not know what subject can be sure of his life, or of anything that he calls his own.”[141] And yet once a new idea has been expressed and acted upon in all sincerity, it becomes less paradoxical, less unnatural for succeeding generations. It enters the bloodstream, as it were, of human thought, no longer warred against – or warred against less fiercely – by the blood’s antibodies, the censorship of public opinion. Parricide was the central theme of the most famous of ancient Greek tragedies, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex: regicide has been the real-life tragedy of our time. Traditionally – since Magna Carta, at any rate – it had been the aristocrats who reined in tyrannical kings; and when King Charles was brought to trial in January, 1649, the parallel with Magna Carta was uppermost in his judges’ minds.

 

     Thus the court’s first meeting was held in the Painted Chamber at the Palace of Westminster where the nobles traditionally put on their robes. For, writes Sean Kelsey, “the revolution was portrayed as a new chapter in the history of that aristocratic constitutionalism which had long sustained English traditions of resistance to royal authority. In the course of proceedings, John Bradshaw, Lord President of the High Court of Justice, recalled the ‘Barons’ Wars’, ’when the nobility of the land did stand up for the liberty and property of the subject and would not suffer the kings that did invade to play the tyrant freely… But.. if they [the peers] do forbear to do their duty now and are not so mindful of their own honour and the kingdom’s good as the barons of England of old were, certainly the Commons of England will not be so unmindful of what is for their preservation and for their safety.’”[142]

 

     But this looking over the shoulder to the Commons was the psychological essence of the matter. Unlike the barons in 1215, the Parliamentarians in 1649 were already a “rump”, purged by the army’s radical lower ranks; and this rump knew that if they did not do what the army wanted, they would be swept away. For the revolution cannot stop half way: once legitimacy has been removed from the king by the lords, it will not remain with the lords, but must pass on to the Commons, and from the Commons to the people. And to the lowest of the people at that; for, as Denzill Holles, once a leading opponent of the king, wrote in 1649: “The meanest of men, the basest and vilest of the nation, the lowest of the people have got power into their hands; trampled upon the crown; baffled and misused the Parliament; violated the laws; destroyed or suppressed the nobility and gentry of the kingdom.”[143]

 

     Almost too late did the leader of the Revolution, Oliver Cromwell, realise that he could not give in to the demands of the Levellers, who wanted to “level” society to its lowest common denominator. In May, 1649, only four months after executing the king, he executed some mutinous soldiers who sympathised with the Levellers. And four years later was forced to dissolve Parliament and seize supreme power himself (although he refused the title of King, preferring that of “Protector”). Earlier, just after his victory over the King at Naseby in 1645, he had declared: “God hath put the sword in the Parliament’s hands, - for the terror of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well. If any plead exemption from that, - he knows not the Gospel”. But when anarchy threatened, he found an exemption: “Necessity hath no law,” he said to the dismissed representatives of the people. Napoleon had a similar rationale when he dismissed the Directory and the elected deputies in 1799[144], and Lenin when he dismissed the Constituent Assembly in 1918. “Necessity” in one age becomes the “revolutionary morality” – that is, exemption from the rules of morality - of the next.

 

     At the same time, it must be admitted that the gentry leader Cromwell to some extent restrained the full power of the English revolution. As Metropolitan Anastasius (Gribanovsky) of New York writes: “It bore within itself as an embryo all the typically destructive traits of subsequent revolutions; but the religious sources of this movement, the iron hand of Oliver Cromwell, and the immemorial good sense of the English people, restrained this stormy element, preventing it from achieving its full growth. Thenceforth, however, the social spirit of Europe has been infected with the bacterium of revolution.”[145]

 

     Another revolutionary leader from the gentry was the poet John Milton. He set himself the task of justifying the revolution (Engels called him “the first defender of regicide”) in theological terms. For unlike the later revolutions, the English revolution was still seen as needing justification in terms of Holy Scripture, insofar as “at different times, in different places, Emperor and Anarchist alike may find it convenient to appeal to Holy Writ”.[146]

 

     Milton began, in his Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, with a firm rejection of the Divine Right of Kings. Charles I was to be identified with the Antichrist, and in overthrowing him the English people had chosen God as their King. Moreover, it was now the duty of the English to spread their revolution overseas (Cromwell had begun the process in Scotland and Ireland in 1649-51), for the saints in England had been “the first to overcome those European kings which receive their power not from God but from the Beast”.[147]

 

     “No man who knows aught,” wrote Milton, “can be so stupid as to deny that all men naturally were born free”. Kings and magistrates are but “deputies and commissioners of the people”. “To take away from the people the right of choosing government takes away all liberty”. Milton attributed the dominance of bishops and kings to the Norman Conquest, and he bewailed men’s readiness “with the fair words and promises of an old exasperated foe… to be stroked and tamed again into the wonted and well-pleasing state of their true Norman villeinage.”[148] Far better for him than the traditional Christian virtues of humility and obedience was Satan’s adamantine pride in Paradise Lost (262-263):

 

To reign is worth ambition though in hell:

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven…

 

     Of course, the “inconstant, irrational and image-doting rabble”, cannot have the rule; the better part – i.e. the gentry, people like Milton himself – must act on their behalf. This does raise the problem, as Filmer argued against Milton, that even if we accept that “the sounder, the better and the uprighter part have the power of the people… how shall we know, or who shall judge, who they can be?” But Milton brushed this problem aside.[149]

 

     Within a week of the king’s execution, Eikon Basilike was published by the royalists, being supposedly the work of Charles himself. This enormously popular defence of the monarchy was countered by the argument that the veneration of the king was idolatry. “Every King is an image of God,” wrote N.O. Brown. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Revolutionary republicanism seeks to abolish effigy and show.”[150]

 

     Milton, too, came out against Eikon Basilike with his Eikonklastes, in which the destruction of the icon of the king was seen as the logical consequence of the earlier iconoclasm of the English Reformation. For, as Hill explains: “An ikon was an image. Images of saints and martyrs had been cleared out of English churches at the Reformation, on the ground that the common people had worshipped them. Protestantism, and especially Calvinism, was austerely monotheistic, and encouraged lay believers to reject any form of idolatry. This ‘desacralisation of the universe’ in the long run was its main contribution to the rise of modern science.”[151] Thus did the anti-papist, anti-monastic and anti-images iconoclasm of the English Reformation reap its fruits in the anti-monarchist iconoclasm of the English Revolution.

 

     The transition from rebellion against the Church to rebellion against all authorities was inevitable. If Luther tried to resist it, it was nevertheless implicit in his teaching. And the more consistent Calvinists were less afraid to cross the Rubicon by ascribing all authority to the plebs.

 

     As Jacques Barzun writes, “if a purer religion, close to the one depicted in the gospel, was attainable by getting rid of superiors in the church, a better social and economic life, close to the life depicted in the gospels, would follow from getting rid of social and political superiors.”[152]

 

     Nevertheless, there was something of a recovery of traditional Christian forms of government in the seventeenth century. In Russia, the autocracy recovered after the devastations wrought by Ivan the Terrible and the Time of Troubles. France recovered from her civil wars with a stable Catholic absolutist monarchy. Monarchs still ruled everywhere, even in formally Calvinist countries such as England and Holland. And absolutist monarchies still ruled in Persia, India and China.

 

     At the same time the acid of anti-monarchism did not cease to eat away at the foundations of states. While the English Revolution did not succeed in finally abolishing the monarchy, it undoubtedly weakened it – and scattered the seeds of liberalism into absolutist France and elsewhere. Even in Russia there was a serious rebellion on the part of the Old Ritualists with their “theocratic democratism”, not unlike the contemporary self-governing communities of the American Puritans…

 

     It was the appearance of relatively homogeneous nation-states, with their need for a unifying symbol and centre of political power, that saved monarchism for the time being. Only Germany and Italy, still bogged down in a multitude of feudal principalities, escaped the trend towards the monarchical nation-state. Their time would come after the next wave of anti-monarchism had swept away the last stronghold of Catholic absolutism in the French Revolution…

 

The Scientific Outlook

 

     Out of Protestant rationalism there grew the most revolutionary of all the achievements of the age, the scientific outlook, or empiricism, which declares that the only reliable way of attaining non-mathematical truth is by inferences from the evidence of the senses.

 

     The scientific principle, first proclaimed by Francis Bacon in his Advancement of Learning (1605), rejects the witness of non-empirical sources – for example, God or intuition or so-called “innate ideas”. The reverse process – that is, inferences about God and other non-empirical realities from the evidence of the senses – was admitted by the early empiricists, but rejected by most later ones.[153] Thus in time empiricism became not only a methodological or epistemological, but also an ontological principle, the principle, namely, that reality not only is best discovered by empirical means, but also is, solely and exclusively, that which can be investigated by empirical means, and that non-empirical reality does not exist.

 

     By contrast, religion makes no radical cleavage between empirical and non-empirical truth, accepting evidence of the senses with regard to the existence and activity of God and the witness of God Himself with regard to the nature of empirically perceived events.

 

     In accordance with this difference in the kinds of truth they seek, there is a difference in the nature and structure of the authority that science (in its more “advanced”, materialist form) and religion rely on. Science relies on the authority of millions of observations that have been incorporated into a vast structure of hypotheses which are taken as “proved” – although in fact no hypothesis can ever be proved beyond every possible doubt, and science advances by the systematic application of doubt to what are thought to be weak points in the hypothetical structure. For, as John Donne said, “new philosophy [science] calls all in doubt”.[154]

 

     Religion and science (in their most characteristic forms) are also motivated by different spirits. The spirit of true religion is the spirit of the humble receiving of the truth by revelation from God; it does not preclude active seeking for truth, but recognizes that it will never succeed in this search if God on His part does not reveal it. For Wisdom “goes about seeking those worthy of her, and She graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought” (Wisdom 6.16). 

 

     Science, on the other hand, is exclusively active. Moreover, there is a Faustian spirit in science, a striving for power over nature, rather than simply knowledge of it, which is incompatible with the true religious spirit (as opposed to the spirit of magic). Thus Bacon thought that the “pure knowledge of nature and universality” would lead to power (“knowledge is power”, in his famous phrase) and to “the effecting of all things possible”.[155] This is even more true of modern scientists, who place no limits to the powers of science, than of their predecessors in the seventeenth century.

 

     Bacon compared science to the knowledge of the essence of creatures which Adam had before the fall – “the pure knowledge of nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise, as they were brought to him”.[156] “This light should in its very rising touch and illuminate all the border-regions that confine upon the circle of our present knowledge; and so, spreading further and further should presently disclose and bring into sight all that is most hidden and secret in the world.”[157] “God forbid,” he wrote, “that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world: rather may He graciously grant to us to write an apocalypse or true vision of the footsteps of the Creator imprinted on His creatures.”[158]

 

     As J.M. Roberts writes, Bacon “seems to have been a visionary, glimpsing not so much what science would discover as what it would become: a faith. ‘The true and lawful end of the sciences’, he wrote, ‘is that human life be enriched by new discoveries and powers.’ Through them could be achieved ‘a restitution  and reinvigorating (in great part) of man to the sovereignty and power… which he had in his first creation.’ This was ambitious indeed – nothing less than the redemption of mankind through organised research; he was here, too, a prophetic figure, precursor of later scientific societies and institutes.”[159]

 

     This striving for power by wresting the secrets of nature indicates a kinship between science and magic, if not in their methods, at any rate in their aims. And while Erasmus’ humorous critique of scientists in the early fifteenth century could not be applied to their early twenty-first century successors without qualification, he unerringly pointed to a common spirit between science of all ages and magic: “Near these march the scientists, reverenced for their beards and the fur on their gowns, who teach that they alone are wise while the rest of mortal men flit about as shadows. How pleasantly they dote, indeed, while they construct their numberless worlds, and measure the sun, moon, stars, and spheres as with thumb and line. They assign causes for lightning, winds, eclipses, and other inexplicable things, never hesitating a whit, as if they were privy to the secrets of nature, artificer of things, or as if they visited us fresh from the council of the gods. Yet all the while nature is laughing grandly at them and their conjectures. For to prove that they have good intelligence of nothing, this is a sufficient argument: thye can never explain why they disagree with each other on every subject. Thus knowing nothing in general, they profess to know all things in particular; though they are ignorant even of themselves, and on occasion do not see the ditch or the stone lying across their path, because many of them are blear-eyed or absent-minded; yet they proclaim that they perceive ideas, universals, forms without matter, primary substances, quiddities, and ecceities – things so tenuous, I fear, that Lynceus himself could not see them. When they especially disdain the vulgar crowd is when they bring out their triangles, quadrangles, circles, and mathematical pictures of the sort, lay one upon the other, intertwine them into a maze, then deploy – and all to involve the unitiated in darkness. Their fraternity does not lack those who predict future events by consulting the stars, and promise wonders even more magical; and these lucky scientists find people to believe them.”[160]

 

     For, as Fr. Seraphim Rose points out: “Modern science was born [in the Renaissance] out of the experiments of the Platonic alchemists, the astrologers and magicians. The underlying spirit of the new scientific world view was the spirit of Faustianism, the spirit of magic, which is retained as a definite undertone of contemporary science. The discovery, in fact, of atomic energy would have delighted the Renaissance alchemists very much: they were looking for just such power. The aim of modern science is power over nature. Descartes, who formulated the mechanistic scientific world view, said that man was to become the master and possessor of nature. It should be noted that this is a religious faith that takes the place of Christian faith.”[161]

 

     True Religion, on the other hand, does not seek power over nature, but obedience to God. It relies on no other ultimate authority than the Word of God Himself as communicated either directly to an individual or, collectively, to the Church, “the pillar and ground of the Truth” (I Timothy 3.15), which preserves and nurtures the individual revelations. Doubt has no place within the true religion, but only when one is still in the process of seeking it, when different religious systems are still being approached as possible truths – in other words, as hypotheses. Having cleaved to the true religion by faith, however, - and faith is defined as the opposite of doubt, as “the certainty of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1), - the religious believer advances by the deepening of faith, by ever deeper immersion in the undoubted truths of religion.

 

     When the differences between science and religion are viewed from this perspective, the perspective of Orthodox Christianity, there are seen to be important differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. For from this perspective, Catholicism is more “religious”, and Protestantism – more “scientific”. For Protestantism arose as a protest against, and a doubting of, the revealed truths of the Catholic religion. From an Orthodox point of view, some of these doubts were justified, and some not. But that is not the essential point here. The essential point is that Protestantism arose out of doubt rather than faith, and, like Descartes in philosophy, placed doubt at the head of the corner of its new theology.

 

     How? First, by doubting that there is any organization that is “the pillar and ground of the truth”, any collective vessel of God’s revelation. So where is God’s revelation to be sought? In the visions and words of individual men, the Prophets and Apostles, the Saints and Fathers? Yes; but – and here the corrosive power of doubt enters again – not all that the Church has passed down about these men can be trusted, according to the Protestants. In particular, the inspiration of the post-apostolic Saints and Fathers is to be doubted, as is much of what we are told of the lives even of the Prophets and Apostles. In fact, we can only rely on the Bible – Sola Scriptura. After all, the Bible is objective; everybody can have access to it, can touch it and read it; can analyse and interpret it. In other words, it corresponds to what we would call scientific evidence.

 

     But can we be sure even of the Bible? After all, the text comes to us from the Church, that untrustworthy organization. Can we be sure that Moses wrote Genesis, or Isaiah Isaiah, or John John, or Paul Hebrews? To answer these questions we have to analyze the text, subject it to scientific verification. Then we will find the real text, the text we can really trust, because it is the text of the real author.

 

     But suppose we cannot find this real text? Or the real author? And suppose we come to the conclusion that the “real” text of a certain book was written by tens of authors, none of whom was the “inspired” author, spread over hundreds of years? Can we then be sure that it is the Word of God? But if we cannot be sure that the Bible is not the Word of God, how can we be sure of anything?

 

     Thus Protestantism, which begins with the doubting of authority, ends with the loss of truth itself. Or rather, it ends with a scientific truth which dispenses with religious truth, or accepts religious truth only to the extent that it is “confirmed by the findings of science”. It ends by being a branch of the scientific endeavour of systematic doubt, and not a species of religious faith at all.

 

     If we go back to the original error of Protestantism, we will find that it consists in what we may call a false reductionist attitude to Divine Revelation. Revelation is given to us in the Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth”, and consists of two indivisible and mutually interdependent parts – Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Scripture and Tradition support each other, and are in turn supported by the Church, which herself rests on the rock of truth witnessed to in Scripture and Tradition. Any attempt to reduce Divine Revelation to one of these elements, any attempt to make one element essential and the other inessential, is doomed to end with the loss of Revelation altogether. The Truth is one irreducible whole.

 

     Where does this false reductionist attitude come from? Vladimir Trostnikov has shown that it goes back as far as the 11th century, to the nominalist thinker Roscelin. Nominalism, which had triumphed over its philosophical rival, universalism, by the 14th century, “gives priority to the particular over the general, the lower over the higher”. As such, it is in essence the forerunner of reductionism, which insists that the simple precedes the complex, and that the complex can always be reduced, both logically and ontologically, to the simple.[162]

 

     Thus the Catholic heresy of nominalism gave birth to the Protestant heresy of reductionism, which reduced the complex spiritual process of the absorption of the truth of God’s revelation in the life of the Church to the unaided rationalist reading and dissection of a single element in that life, the book of the Holy Scriptures. As Trostnikov explains, the assumption – against all the evidence – that reductionism is true has led to a series of concepts which taken together represent a summation of the contemporary world-view: that matter consists of elementary particles which themselves do not consist of anything; that the planets and all the larger objects of the universe arose through the gradual condensation of simple gas; that all living creatures arose out of inorganic matter; that the later forms of social organization and politics arose out of earlier, simpler and less efficient ones; that human consciousness arose from lower phenomena, drives and archetypes; that the government of a State consists of its citizens, who must therefore be considered to be the supreme power.

 

     We see, then, why science, like capitalism, flourished especially in the Protestant countries. Protestantism, according to Landes, “gave a big boost to literacy, spawned dissent and heresies, and promoted the skepticism and refusal of authority that is at the heart of the scientific endeavor. The Catholic countries, instead of meeting the challenge, responded by closure and censure.”[163]

 

     However, it is misleading to make too great a contrast between science-loving, democratic religion and science-hating authoritarian religion. Much confusion has been generated in this respect by Galileo’s trial, in which, so it is said, a Pope who falsely believed that the earth was flat and that the sun circled the earth persecuted Galileo, who believed on empirical evidence that the earth circled the sun. Other scientists persecuted by the Catholics were Copernicus and Giordano Bruno.

 

     However, the truth, as Jay Wesley Richards explains is different. “First of all, some claim Copernicus was persecuted, but history shows he wasn’t; in fact, he died of natural causes the same year his ideas were published. As for Galileo, his case can’t be reduced to a simple conflict between scientific truth and religious superstition. He insisted the church immediately endorse his views rather than allow them to gradually gain acceptance, he mocked the Pope, and so forth. Yes, he was censured, but the church kept giving him his pension for the rest of his life.”[164]

 

     “Indeed,” writes Lee Strobel, “historian William R. Shea said, ‘Galileo’s condemnation was the result of the complex interplay of untoward political circumstances, political ambitions, and wounded prides.’ Historical researcher Philip J. Sampson noted that Galileo himself was convinced that the ‘major cause’ of his troubles was that he had made ‘fun of his Holiness’ – that is, Pope Urban VIII – in a 1632 treatise. As for his punishment, Alfred North Whitehead put it this way: ‘Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed.’”[165]

 

     “Bruno’s case was very sad,” Richards continued. “He was executed in Rome in 1600. Certainly this is a stain on [Roman Catholic] church history. But again, this was a complicated case. His Copernican views were incidental. He defended pantheism and was actually executed for his heretical views on the Trinity, the Incarnation, and other doctrines that had nothing to do with Copernicanism.”[166]

 

     In fact, neither Holy Scripture[167] nor the Holy Fathers[168]even the Roman church supported the idea of a spherical earth. “The truth is,” writes David Lindberg, “that it’s almost impossible to find an educated person after Aristotle who doubts that the Earth is a sphere. In the Middle Ages, you couldn’t emerge from any kind of education, cathedral school or university, without being perfectly clear about the Earth’s sphericity and even its approximate circumference.”[169]

 

     The truth is that both science and religion depend on authority – that is, the reports of reliable men about what they have seen, touched and heard (the Resurrection of Christ was verified by Thomas’ touch). And just as false reports can lead to false religion and superstition, so can they produce false science. Moreover, the reports on which both religion and science are based may have an empirical character: the emptiness of a tomb or the touch of a pierced side, on the one hand; the falling of an apple or the bending of a ray of light, on the other. Both seek truth, both rely on authority. The difference lies, first, in the kinds of truth they seek, and secondly, in the nature and structure of the authority they rely on.

 

     One of the most important offshoots of the scientific method was the rise of pseudo-scientific utopias, visions of how society could and should be constructed on scientific lines. Among the earliest of these chiliastic utopias (if we exclude Plato’s Republic and Laws) were Thomas More’s Utopia, Tommaso Campanella’s City of the Sun, and Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis. Later ones were to include Marxism and the Soviet five-year plans. The Renaissance utopias contain astonishingly modern visions of society – thoroughly secular, this-worldly visions. Thus Jacques Barzun writes: “To make existence better, which for these three Humanists means not more godly, but happier, each drives at a main goal. More wants justice through democratic equality; Bacon wants progress through scientific research; Campanello wants permanent peace, health, and plenty through rational thought, brotherly love, and eugenics. All agree on a principle that the West adopted late: everybody must work.”[170]

 

     The problem for all secular utopias is how to control the fallen nature of man. From the Christian point of view there is only one solution: the acceptance of the true Christian faith and its incarnation in life, which alone can tame and transform the fallen passions. But the Utopians thought differently: “The great argument used to sustain right conduct is: ‘Live according to Nature. Nature is never wrong and we err by forgetting it.’ Nature here replaces God’s commandments, but although Nature is His handiwork, His commandments are a good deal cleaner than Her dictates…”[171]

 

 

 


2. THE EAST: MUSCOVITE RUSSIA

 

Romania has passed away, Romania is taken.

Even if Romania has passed away, it will flower and bear fruit again.

Pontic folk-song, on the Fall of Constantinople.

 

In truth, pious tsar, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and this thought is from God, and will be realised by you. For the Old Rome fell to the Apollinarian heresy, and the Second Rome, Constantinople, is in the possession of the grandsons of the Hagarenes, the godless Turks: but your great Russian kingdom, the Third Rome, has exceeded all in piety. And all the pious kingdoms have been gathered into your kingdom, and you alone under the heavens are named the Christian tsar throughout the inhabited earth for all Christians.

Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople.

 

What is more iniquitous than for a tsar to judge bishops, taking to himself a power which has not been given him by God?… This is apostasy from God.

Patriarch Nicon of Moscow.

 

The Struggle for Romania

 

     The fall of the New Rome of Constantinople in 1453 was a great shock for the whole of the Orthodox world. It was not only the political outlook that was threatening: if the empire was no more, what would become of the Church? Did not the prophecies link the fall of Rome with the coming of the Antichrist?

 

     To avert that threat, it was essential to fight back, to recover Rome if that were possible. And yet for some time, as if paralysed, the Orthodox offered little resistance to the seemingly irresistible momentum of the Turkish armies. The last Byzantine outpost of Morea in the Peloponnese fell in 1461. In the same year the Comnenian “empire” of Trebizond on the south coast of the Black Sea also fell, after a siege of forty-two days.[172] Only further north and east was there significant resistance: for some years George Branković and his son Vuk held Belgrade, and Prince Vlad “the Impaler” of Wallachia (of Dracula fame) conducted a courageous rearguard action north of the Danube.[173]

 

     However, the Turkish advance only came to a stop in the other Romanian principality further to the north, that of Moldavia, under its great Prince Stephen (1457-1504). On coming to the throne, Stephen took St. Daniel the Hesychast to be his counsellor, much as Prince Demetrius Donskoj had relied on the counsel of St. Sergius of Radonezh. He “often visited his cell, confessed his sins, asked him for a profitable word, and did nothing without his prayer and blessing. The Saint encouraged him and exhorted him to defend the country and Christianity against the pagans. Saint Daniel assured him that if he would build a church to the glory of Christ after each battle, he would be victorious in all his wars.

 

     “Stephen the Great obeyed him and defended the Church of Christ and the Moldavian land with great courage for nearly half a century after the fall of Byzantium. He won forty-seven battles and build forty-eight churches. Thus Saint Daniel the Hesychast was shown to be a great defender of Romanian Orthodoxy and the spiritual founder of those monasteries that were built at his exhortation…

 

     “After Stephen the Great lost the battle of Razboieni in the summer of 1476, he went to the cell of his good spiritual father, Saint Daniel the Hesychast, at Voroneţ. Then, when ‘Stephen Voda knocked on the hesychast’s door for him to open it, the hesychast replied that Stephen Voda should wait outside until he had finished praying. And after the hesychast had finished praying, he called Stephen Voda into his cell. And Stephen Voda confessed to him. And Stephen Voda asked the hesychast what he should do now, since he was no longer able to fight the Turks. Should the country surrender to the Turks or not? And the hesychast told him not to surrender it, for he would win the war; but that after saving the country he should build a monastery there in the name of Saint George.’

 

     “Believing Saint Daniel’s prophecy that he would defeat the Turks, the Prince of Moldavia took his prayer and blessing and immediately assembled the army and drove the Turks from the country. Thus the Saint helped deliver Moldavia and the Christian countries from enslavement to the infidels by his ardent prayers to God.”[174]

 

     But it was not Romania that was destined to be the Third Rome, the protector and restorer of the fortunes of the Orthodox Christians. That honour and cross was destined for a nation far to the north – Russia.

 

The Rise of the Muscovite Great Princes

 

     However threatening the prospect from an eschatological point of view, life continued in the Russian land virtually unaltered, except that the Emperor and Patriarch of Constantinople were no longer commemorated, the former because he no longer existed, the latter because he had fallen into communion with the Latin heretics at the council of Florence in 1439.

 

     One would have expected that this would lead to little change in the position of the Great Prince of Moscow, who was in no position to take the place of the Byzantine emperor, and was still only one among several Russian princes. One might also have expected that the position of the Metropolitan of Moscow, who had already been the focus of unity for the whole of the Russian land for a long time, and who now had no ecclesiastical superior, would become more important. In fact, however, the opposite happened: over the next hundred years and more the position of the Great Prince became much more powerful, while the influence of the metropolitan diminished.

 

     This change can be studied from two points of view: from the point of view of the gradual change in Church-State relations from the pre- to post-1453 periods, and from the point of view of the new ideology of State power that became established towards the beginning of the 16th century, the ideology of the Third Rome.

 

     Turning first to the aspect of Church-State relations, A.P. Dobroklonsky writes: “The previously established link between the Church and the State became still stronger from the 13th to the 16th centuries. You constantly encounter facts that indicate the influence of the former on the latter and vice-versa. But in the history of their mutual relations the increasing dominance of the State over the Church is noticeable. Before the State was only organized and brought together under the tutelage of the Church. But now it passes from the anarchic life of the principalities to the concentration of power around the Muscovite throne in the north and around the Polish throne in the south-west of Russia. And at the same time it not only removes from itself the tutelage of the Church, but places her in subjection to itself. This goes in tandem with the exaltation of the secular power. Therefore between the beginning of the given period, when there still existed independent principalities, and the metropolitan acted as the centre unifying Russis amidst their scatteredness, and the end [of the period], when the principalities ceased to exist and the Muscovite sovereign and the Polish king wer exalted to autocratic status, a large difference in the relationship of the secular power to the ecclesiastical power and ecclesiastical life is noticeable.

 

     The influence of the secular power on ecclesiastical life is expressed in the given period in the most varied activities in all branches of ecclesiastical life. The princes in the north of Russia cared for the instalment of Christianity in the newly-acquired regions and for the Christian enlightenment of the newly converted. But in the south the Polish king, under the influence of the Catholic party, tried to weaken the power of Orthodox Christianity and help Catholic propaganda. The Russian princes themselves built churches and monasteries, opened dioceses, defined their boundaries, gave money for the upkeep of sees and churches, themselves influenced the election of clergy, and in the course of time even chose the highest representatives of ecclesiastical power on their own. In the south of Russia this became one of the rights of the king, but in the north at the end of the 15th century and during the 16th it was practised so frequently that it became a normal phenomenon. The secular authorities deposed hierarchs in the same arbitrary manner in which they had elevated them: the Polish king even ascribed judgement over them to himself, as his right. In the inner life of the Church the influence of the secular authorities was no less. It issued decrees defining the rights of the clergy, the character of ecclesiastical administration and courts;… it interfered in the administration of monasteries…; it ascribed to itself the right of court of highest appeal in doubtful cases of local arbitration; it checked the monasteries’ accounts; it sometimes confiscated monastic property; it often convened councils, where it pointed out ecclesiastical deficiences and suggested that the hierarchs remove them; it confirmed with its own seals important decisions of the metropolitan; it accepted reports from the bishops on ecclesiastical issues; it investigated heresies, and itself sometimes fought with heretics (for example, at the Council of 1503); it itself sometimes entered into negotiations with the Patriarch of Constantinople on the needs of the Church (for example, the letters of Basil Vasilievich in the case of the election of Jonah); it even sometimes of itself abolished ecclesiastical deficiencies (for example, Ioann IV wrote decrees to the CyrilloBeloozersk monastery against the disorders that were taking place there); finally it itself imposed various restrictions on the hierarchs of the Church, even in their private way of life, for example, interfering in their selection of assistants in the administration of houses and dioceses. It is difficult to say where the pressure of the central secular authorities on Church life was stronger – in the south, or in the north of Russia; but there is no doubt that the local officials restricted it more, and the abuses were greater as a result of the interference of the secular authorities in Church life, in the south of Russia. The decrees often issued by the princes and kings concerning the inviolability of Church administration and courts were for the most part voices crying in the wilderness: in the south of Russia the regional officials did not obey them, and the kings themselves did not observe them strictly; while in the north, if the former feared to violate them, the Great Princes themselves often got round them.

 

     “In such a situation the ecclesiastical authorities were more and more subsumed under the power of the secular authorities and acted on their initiative; it manifested comparatively greater independence either at the beginning of the period, when the secular authorities were not so strong, or at the end, when the sovereigns were still underage or not yet firmly established in power. Correspondingly, the level of the influence of the ecclesiastical authorities on the course of secular affairs varied at different times. Under the system of the principalities and veches the bishops blessed and ‘installed’ the princes on their thrones; it was with their blessing that the princes issued letters patent, they were invited to be present at the writing of their spiritual wills, they were given tutelage over underage children; they were sent by them to conduct negotiations on the inheritance and the dividing up of lands and in general for mutual explanations; they were often ambassadors in the drawing up of peace treaties, and advisors and reprovers of the prince… Among the bishops the bishop of Novgorod had, as before, a particular significance. His name was placed above the name not only of the posadnik but also of the prince… When the system of principalities fell, and there were no longer any appanage princes, the bishops in the cities occupied a leading position. For that reason one can see their names at the head of the conspiracy when this or that town rose up against the Muscovite sovereign with the aim of recovering their independence. For example, Theophilus of Novgorod entered into negotiations with Casimir [of Poland] under Ioann III, and Barsonuphius of Smolensk – with Sigismund [of Poland] under Basil III. But for that very reason the Moscow princes dealt with the bishops as if they were representatives of the city – they exiled them and imprisoned them, as, for example, with the above-mentioned Barsonuphius and Theophilus. For the same reason, finally, if the metropolitans wanted to enlist the help of some city for the Muscovite prince or suppress a rebellion there, they sometimes acted through the local bishop and the clergy subject to him. The role played in political affairs by bishops was sometimes taken upon themselves by archimandrites, abbots and city priests both on their own initiative and on the orders of the prince or bishop. With the ending of the principality system, and the subjection of the cities to the Muscovite Great Prince and the introduction everywhere of definite civil forms, the bishops lost their political significance. Only in council did they boldly express their opinions, and that only if the prince gave them leave, or if it was to please the Great Prince. Thus, for example, at the ‘Hundred Chapters’ Council they expressed themselves in favour of the sudebnik of Ioann IV, and in 1447, in an accusatory letter to Demetrius Yuryevich Shemyak, they expressed themselves in favour of the new order of succession that was being installed in Moscow. The cases when the bishops dared on their own to give political advice to the Great Prince without knowing how the latter would take it, were exceptional: the bishops were afraid to do this and presented their opinions to the metropolitan. An exception was Bishop Bassian Rylo of Rostov’ reproaching Great Prince Ioann III for his cowardice in the struggle with Khan Akhmat; but it should be noted that Bassian was the prince’s spiritual father and was respected by him. The metropolitan’s sphere of political activities was much broader. He was the head of the Russian Church and for that reason could extend her influence on all spheres; he was closer to the Great Prince and for that reason could more easily influence the very heart of civil life. The metropolitans interfered into the principalities’ quarrels and by all means tried to stop them. For example, when in 1270 the citizens of Novgorod expelled Prince Yaroslav Yaroslavich and sent their army against him, Metropolitan Cyril III sent them a letter in which among other things he said: ‘God entrusted with the archiepiscopate in the Russian land, and you must listen to God and to me and not shed blood; I can vouch that Yaroslav has cast aside all ill will; but if you kiss the cross against him, I will take upon myself the penance for your breaking of your vows and will answer for this before God’. The Novgorodians followed his advice and were reconciled with the prince. When Boris took Nizhny Novgorod from his brother Demetrius of Suzdal, Metropolitan Alexis sent St. Sergius of Radonezh to Nizhny Novgorod to persuade Boris to make concessions to his brother, and there he closed all the churches and stopped the services. The metropolitan then deprived Bishop Alexis, who had been supporting Boris, of the Nizhny region that belonged to him (1365). Boris had to humble himself. When in 1328 the citizens of Pskov hid amongst themselves Prince Alexander Mikhailoovich of Tver, who was being summoned to the Horde, and did not want to give him up, Metropolitan Theognostus ‘sent a curse and excommunication’ on Prince Alexander and the Pskovians, so that they had to give way. The metropolitan acted in this way in the given case because he was afraid that the wrath of the Khan would fall on the whole of Russia because of Prince Alexander’s non-appearance at the Horde, and in this way he obliquely protected the prosperity of Russia. But we know of a case when the metropolitan acted directly for this purpose. When Berdibek, who had killed his father Chanibek, became the Khan of the Horde, he demanded fresh tribute from all the Russian princes and began to prepare for war against them. At the request of the Great Prince Metropolitan Alexis set off for the Horde, calmed the wrath of the Khan and diverted the woes that were expected for Russia (1357). When the Muscovite princes had to fight with the Tatars, the metropolitans would try and persuade the appanage princes to set about this task. Thus, for example, Metropolitan Jonah sent a decree with Bishop Gerontius of Kolomna to Prince Ivan Andreevich of Mozhaisk; but he also called on Prince Boris Alexandrovich of Tver to help through the local Bishop Elias. The metropolitan would intercede for defeated princes, and this how they regarded him. The metropolitans did still more in the interests of the Muscovite Great Prince. They supported him in his struggles with his enemies, and tried to draw all the Russian regions towards Moscow. They were exhorted to this by the prince himself, and as well as by their own interests, since the secular unity of Russia contributed to the great subjection of the dioceses to the power of the metropolitan of Moscow. In 1364 Metropolitan Alexis was a mediator in securing a treaty between Great Prince Dmetrius Ivanovich and his cousin Vladimir Andreevich; several years later the same metropolitan excommunicated Prince Svyatoslav of Smolensk and other princes for breaking their oaths in going with the army of Olgerd [of Lithuania] agains Demetrius Ivanovich. Metropolitan Photius himself travelled to Galich in order to try and persuade Prince Yury Demetrievich of Zvenigorod to be reconciled with his new, Prince Basil Vasilyevich of Moscow; but when he refused to give in, the metropolitan departed, blessing neither him nor the city. Finally he attained his aim. Yury caught up with him on the road and promised not to lay hands on his nephew (1425). While Basil Vasilyevich was prince, Metropolitan Jonah took a lively participation in his struggle with Demetrius Vasilyevich Shemiaa. In his encyclical letter (1448) the holy hierarch tried to persuade all the sons of Russia to recognise Prince Basil as the lawful Great Prince, and not to support Demetrius, whose supporters he exhorted to submit to the Great Prince and cease the bloodshed, threatening them in the opposite case with the closure of the churches in their country. The next year the metropolitan even travelled with the Great Prince to Kostroma and by his personal exhortations persuaded Shemyaka to conclude peace. But the reconciliation turned out to be insincere; several months later Shemyaka rose up again in Galich and, defeated by the prince, established himself in Novgorod. Jonah several times sent his messengers and missives there, trying to persuade the Novgorodians not to keep Prince Demetrius amongst themselves and not to proceed with him to the shedding of blood. He also tried to persuade Archbishop Euthymius to act, if he could, on Demetrius, incline him to give way, but if did not succeed, to have no communion with him as with a person excommunicated from the Church (1452-1453)…. In helping the Muscovite Great Prince to be exalted above the other princes, the metropolitans took part in the internal political affairs of the Moscow Great Princedom. Sometimes this participation was made evident only in the blessing of the metropolitan, sometimes in advice, instruction and rebukes, but sometimes also in external activity. The metropolitan by his blessing strengthened the agreements of the Great Prince, while by his signature and seal he witnessed the spiritual wills of the prince. The princes asked for his blessing in important civil affairs: we often find ‘in accordance with the blessing of our metropolitan’ in important princely documents – not only at the beginning, but also at the end. For example, even such a tsar as Ioann IV, who could not stand the interference of others in his affairs and their influence on him, nevertheless secured the blessing of the metropolitan and the council when he published his sudebnik (1549 and 1551) or when he was wavering about war with Poland (1551). The metropolitans were counsellors of the Great Prince. This was directly expressed by many princes. For example, Simeon Ivanovich in his will to his brothers commanded them to ‘obey’ Metropolitan Alexis as a father; Basil Vasilyevich in one of his letters to the Patriarch of Constantinople declares that the prince had to talk things over with the metropolitan about civil – sometimes secret - matters also. After the terrible Moscow fire o 1547 Ioann IV publicly addressed Metropolitan Macarius with these words: ‘I beseech you, holy Vladyko, be my helper and champion in love’. There are very many cases when the metropolitans really were the counsellors and helpers of the Great Prince. Metropolitan Alexis, who had been entrusted by the dying Prince Simeon with the direction of his young brothers, was the chief director of Ivan Ivanovich and after him – of Demetrius Ivanovich; and while the latter was underage he stood at the head of the Boyar Duma. Althougb Metropolitan Gerontius did not have a great influence on civil affairs, he nevertheless counselled Great Prince Ioann III. Thus when, in 1480, Akhmat moved into the confines of Russia, and the Great Prince, at the instigation of some of the boyars, was ready to remove himself to some safe place, the metropolitan with Archbishop Bassian of Rostov and the clergy applied all their efforts to arouse the prince to open warfare with the Tatars. He did in fact set out with his army and positioned it where he considered fitting; but then he returned to Moscow. The metropolitan and Bassian met him there with reproaches, suggesting that he was a coward. But when he set off for the battle, the metropolitan blessed him; but on hearing that the Great Prince was ready to conclude peace with Akhmat, he sent him an epistle in the name of the whole of the clergy in which he tried to persuade the prince to enter into a decisive battle with the Tatars and invoked the blessing of God on the endeavour. During the struggle of Ioann III with Novgorod, Metropolitan Gerontius was on the side of the prince and agreed to send a new archbishop to Novgorod in the place of Theophilus. Finally, he also sent epistles to Vyatka, exhorting the inhabitants to submit to the Great Prince and not to devastate his inherited estates. Metropolitan Daniel enjoyed the unflagging favour of Basil Ivanovich, although the latter was bought at the price of concessions on the part of the metropolitan; and when he was dying, Basil Ivanovich even ‘ordered’ his young son and heir, Ivan IV to - i.e. entrusted him to the care of – Metropolitan Daniel. The latter immediately on the death of his benefactor led the boyars and the members of the royal family to swear allegiance to the new sovereign and the regent, his mother Helena. A short time later he blessed Ioann to ascend the princely throne and, while his mother was alive, took part in the affairs of external and internal politics: he frequented the Duma, blessed the war against Lithuania, was a mediator in the reconciliation between Ioann IV and his uncle Andrew Ivanovich. But after the death of Helena, when war broke out between the Belskys and the Shuiskys, the metropolitan, standing on the side of the former, on their fall had to abandon his see. It was taken by Metropolitan Joasaph (1539). He supported the Belskys and, together with Ivan Belsky, was for a time the person closest to the tsar and his ‘first counsellor’. His concern was to bring peace to the fatherland. But soon, in 1542, the Shuiskys again gained the upper hand and the Belskys fell: Joasaph was imprisoned. Metropolitan Macarius was elected. He had a great influence on State life and the tsar himself; this influence continued, in spite of the severity and capriciousness of the tsar, throughout Macarius’ life. The tsar ran to him when he had to defend Vorontsov from the Shuiskys, who wanted to kill him; he asked his advice and discussed the question of his entering into marriage with him for a long time; he opened his soul before him and gave a vow to correct himself after the fire (1547); in the period that followed he asked for his help and direction. Only [the priest] Sylvester and Adashev could rival him for a time in their influence on the tsar. When he set out on his expedition to Kazan, the tsar asked for the prayers and blessing of the metropolitan; during the expedition he corresponded with him several times; and he attributed the success of the expedition to the prayers of the metropolitan. During his departure from the capital, the tsar left the State and his family in the care of Macarius: ‘You, my father, to the extent God gives you, must take care for the supervision of all the affairs of the kingdom, while you must instruct our brother and the boyars who remain here in everything; also show spiritual care for my wife, the Tsaritsa Anastasia’, said the tsar to the metropolitan on leaving Moscow. Knowing the influence that the metropolitan had on the tsar, the Lithuanian landowners often turned to the intercession of Metropolitan Macarius to get what they wanted; and Russians who were in disgrace with the tsar usually turned to him with their pleas, obtaining the tsar’s reprieve ‘for the sake of my father Metropolitan Macarius’. His influence on the tsar was so powerful that he restrained him from those excesses that he began to commit later. [But] with the death of Macarius there as it were came to an end the time when the metropolitans could interfere in the secular administration. Ioann IV himself began to declare that the clergy headed by the metropolitan were sheltering those boyars who were guilty of treason by their intercession, and that ‘it is not fitting for priests to take upon themselves the affairs of the tsar’. With the establishment of the oprichina in 1565, the tsar declared the clergy together with the boyars to be in disgrace because they were sheltering the boyars who were worthy of death. It is understandable that the position of the metropolitan was restricted by this; every advice of his concerning secular affairs might appear to be an encroachment on his power to the suspicious tsar. For that reason Metropolitan Athanasius had to look on the beginning of the oprichina’s activities in silence; for some reason Herman, who had been elected in his place, was removed before he could be installed. For that reason, too, Philip II on his instalment in the metropolitan’s see received from the tsar, among other things, the demand that he ‘not interfere in the oprichina and the tsar’s everyday life at home’, and, when he did so, he was subjected to imprisonment and a martyric end. For the same reason, finally, Cyril IV and Anthony were not only silent witnesses of the deeds of the Terrible one, but also his ‘indulgers’, in Kurbsky’s espression. It would have been possible for Metropolitan Dionysius to influence the course of civil affairs under Tsar Theodore, and he tried, but he could do nothing against the powerful upstart Boris Godunov…”[175]

 

The Path to the Third Rome

 

     Another reason for the rise of the Great Princes of Moscow was that after the Fall of Constantinople and the submission of Novgorod to themselves in 1487 they were (if we exclude Moldavia and Georgia) the last independent Orthodox sovereigns on earth. As such, and by virtue of Ivan III’s marriage to Sophia, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, they soon began to see themselves, not simply as Great Princes, but as “tsars” and the heirs of the Emperors of New Rome, being in fact the Emperors of the Third Rome. For Rome, according to this theory, had not in fact fallen, but had been revived – or rather, translated: just as St. Constantine had translated the Empire from Old Rome to the New Rome of Constantinople in the fourth century, so in the fifteenth century God had translated the Empire from New Rome to the Third Rome, Russia. As Elder Philotheus of Pskov said to Grand Prince Basil III: “Be on your guard and attend, O pious tsar, for all the Christian kingdoms have been reduced to yours alone. For two Romes have fallen, and the third stands, and a fourth there will not be. For your Christian kingdom will not be given to another, according to the great Theologian.”

 

     Let us remind ourselves of the eschatological idea on which the idea of the translatio imperii rested. According to this idea, Rome in its various successions and reincarnations will exist to the end of the world – or at least, to the time of the Antichrist. As Michael Nazarov writes: “This conviction is often reflected in the patristic tradition (it was shared by Saints: Hippolytus of Rome, John Chrysostom, Blessed Theodoret, Blessed Jerome, Cyril of Jerusalem and others). On this basis [the fifteenth-century] Elder Philotheus [of Pskov] wrote: ‘the Roman [Romejskoe] kingdom is indestructible, for the Lord was enrolled into the Roman [Rimskuiu] power’ (that is, he was enrolled among the inhabitants at the census in the time of the Emperor Augustus). Here Philotheus distinguishes between the indestructible ‘Roman [Romejskoe] kingdom’, whose successor was now Rus’, and Roman [Rimskoj] power, which had gone into the past.”[176]

 

     Nevertheless, even if the idea that Roman [Romejskoe] power would last until the end of the world was accepted, it did not follow that Russia was that power now, after the Fall of Constantinople. Such an idea was very bold. St. Constantine’s moving the capital of the empire from Old Rome to New Rome had also been bold - but that step, though radical and fraught with enormous consequences, nevertheless had not involved going beyond the bounds of the existing empire, and had been undertaken by the legitimate emperor himself. Again, the Serbs and Bulgarians had each in their time sought to capture New Rome and make it the capital of a Slavic-Greek kingdom – but this, again, had not involved moving the empire itself, as opposed to changing its dominant nation. The Frankish idea of the translatio imperii from New Rome to Aachen had involved both changing the dominant nation and taking the capital beyond the bounds of the existing empire – and had been rejected by the Greeks as heretical, largely on the grounds that it involved setting up a second, rival empire, where there could only be one true one.

 

     But the one, true empire was now in the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Could it be – a horrific idea, but one that had to be considered - that the Ottoman conqueror of Constantinople was the new Roman emperor! After all, there had been pagans and heretics and persecutors of the Church on the throne, so why not a Muslim? And that was precisely the view of the Cretan historian George Trapezuntios, who in 1466 said to the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmet II: "Nobody doubts that you are the Roman emperor. He who is the lawful ruler in the capital of the empire and in Constantinople is the emperor, while Constantinople is the capital of the Roman empire. And he who remains as emperor of the Romans is also the emperor of the whole world."[177]

 

     However, the Ottoman Sultans could not be compared even with the heretical Roman emperors of the past, such as the iconoclasts Leo and Constantine Copronymus. The latter had at least claimed to be sons of the Church, they had claimed to confess the Orthodox faith and receive the sacraments of the Orthodox Church. But there could be no deception here: the Ottoman Sultans made no pretence at being Orthodox. Therefore at most they could be considered analogous in authority to the pagan emperors of Old Rome, legitimate authorities to whom obedience was due (as long as, and to the degree that, they did not compel Christians to commit impiety), but no more. So had the clock been turned back? Had the Christian Roman Empire returned to its pre-Christian, pre-Constantinian origins?

 

     No, the clock of Christian history never goes back, never repeats itself. The world could never be the same again after Constantine and the Christian empire of New Rome, which had so profoundly changed the consciousness of all the peoples living in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. So if the Antichrist had not yet come, there was only one alternative: the one, true empire had indeed been translated somewhere - but not unlawfully, to some heretical capital such as Aachen or Old Rome, but lawfully, to some Orthodox nation capable of bringing forth the fruits that the Byzantines were no longer capable of producing.

 

     What could that nation be? With not only the Greeks of Byzantium, but all the traditionally Orthodox peoples of the Balkans and the Near East under the Turkish yoke, the answer to this question could only be found in the north – in the forests of Holy Russia. So began the rise to the status of a world power of the nation and state that, more than any other, has been responsible for the survival of True Christianity into the twenty-first century.

 

     In fact the only real candidate for the role of leadership in the Orthodox world was Russia. Only the Russians could be that “third God-chosen people” of the prophecy. Only they were able to re-express the Christian ideal of the symphony of powers on a stronger, more popular base – as a symphony, in effect, of three powers – Church, State and People - rather than two. For the Russians had the advantage over the Romans and the Greeks that they were converted to the faith as a single people, with their existing social organisation intact, and not, as in Rome, as an amalgam of different peoples whose indigenous social structures had already been smashed by the pagan imperial power. Thus whereas in Rome, as Tikhomirov writes, “the Christians did not constitute a social body”, and “their only organisation was the Church”[178], in the sense that it was not whole peoples or classes but individuals from many different peoples and classes that joined the Church, in Russia the whole of the richly layered and variegated, but at the same time socially and politically coherent society came to the Church at one time and was baptised together. Moreover, Russia remained a nation-state with a predominantly Russian or Russian-Ukrainian-Belorussian population throughout its extraordinary expansion from the core principality of Muscovy, whose territory in 1462 was 24,000 square kilometres, to the multi-national empire of Petersburg Russia, whose territory in 1914 was 13.5 million square kilometres.[179]

 

     The 600-year history of Russia from her baptism under St. Vladimir in 988 until the official proclamation of the Russian Empire as the Orthodox Empire by the Ecumenical Patriarchs Joachim (in 1561) and Jeremiah II (in 1588) presents a very striking and instructive illustration of the Lord's words: "the last shall be first" (Matthew 20.16). For most of this period Russia was the most populous and flourishing nation in the Orthodox commonwealth of nations. The beauty of her churches and the piety of her people amazed all comers. Thus at one time the famous Kiev-Caves Lavra contained more than fifty monks capable of casting out demons. And the monastic missionary movement inspired by St. Sergius of Radonezh in the fourteenth century came to be called "the Northern Thebaid" because of the resemblance of its piety to those of the Egyptian Thebaid (over 100 of Sergius' disciples were canonised). And yet during the whole of this period the Russian Church remained no more than a junior metropolitan district of the Constantinopolitan patriarchate! Unlike the much smaller Serbian and Bulgarian Churches, the Russian Church never sought autocephaly, and even when the Byzantine empire had contracted to a very small area around the capital city, the Russian Grand-Princes looked up to the emperors in Constantinople as to their fathers or elder brothers (the emperors called them “nephews”)[180].       

 

      This voluntary self-limitation and national humility on the part of the princes and people brought many blessings to Russia. First and most important, it implanted Orthodoxy in all its purity into the hearts of the people with no admixture of heterodoxy.[181] Secondly, the fact that the metropolitan of the Russian Church was appointed by Constantinople gave him the ability to arbitrate in the frequent quarrels between the Russian princes in the Kievan period, thus preserving the spiritual unity of the Russian nation that had been achieved under St. Vladimir. And thirdly, it ensured the survival and resurrection of Russia as a single Orthodox nation even after the Mongols had destroyed Kiev and subdued most of Russia in the 1240s.

 

     The Russians retained their loyalty to the Byzantine Church and Empire until the very last moment – that is, until both emperor and patriarch betrayed the Orthodox faith at the Council of Florence in 1438-39. Even after this betrayal, the Russians did not immediately break their canonical dependence on the patriarch. And even after the election of St. Jonah to the metropolitanate, the Great Prince’s letter to the patriarch shows an amazing restraint and humility, speaking only of a “disagreement” between the two Churches. He stressed that St. Jonah had received the metropolitanate without asking the blessing of the patriarch, but in accordance with the canons, only out of extreme necessity. The patriarch’s blessing would again be asked once they were assured that he adhered to “the ancient piety”.[182]

 

     Since the Russian Great Prince was now the only independent Orthodox ruler[183], and was supported by an independent Church, he had a better claim than any other to inherit the throne of the Roman Emperors and therefore call himself “Tsar” (from “Caesar”, the Russian equivalent of the Greek Basileus). [184] The title had been floated already before the fall of Constantinople: in 1447-48 Simeon of Suzdal had called Great Prince Basil Vasilyevich “faithful and Christ-loving and truly Orthodox… White Tsar”.[185] And St. Jonah wrote to Prince Alexander of Kiev that Basil was imitating his “ancestors” – the holy Emperor Constantine and the Great-Prince Vladimir.[186] The Russian Great Princes’ claim was further strengthened by the marriage of Great Prince Ivan Vasilyevich to the last surviving heir of the Paleologan line, Sophia, in 1472. It was on this basis that a letter of the Venetian Senate accorded Ivan the imperial title.[187]

 

     Ivan himself indicated that in marrying Sophia he had united Muscovite Russia with Byzantium by uniting two coats of arms – the two-headed eagle of Byzantium with the image of St. George piercing the dragon with his spear. From now on the two-headed eagle became the Russian coat of arms with the image of St. George in the centre of it, as it were in its breast.[188]

 

     However, there were many weighty reasons militating against the Great Prince assuming the title of Tsar at this time. The first was the traditional respect of the Russians for their elder brothers in Byzantium. This respect would gradually wane as the Russians gradually became convinced that Byzantium had fallen because of its sins against the faith, and this diminished respect was one of the main reasons for the Old Believer schism in the seventeenth century, as we shall see. Nevertheless, in the fifteenth century it was still strong. And there was no question that in the consciousness of the Russian people the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch was required for such a major step as the assumption of the role of Orthodox emperor by the Russian Great Prince.

 

     Secondly, there was the difficult problem of the status of the Russian metropolitan. In 1451 the uniate Patriarch Gregory Mammas of Constantinople had fled to Rome, where he consecrated Gregory Bolgarin, a former deacon of Isidore’s, as metropolitan of Kiev in opposition to St. Jonah. This was justified by the Latins not only on the grounds that there was no communion between themselves and the Orthodox of Muscovy, and the Pope had called St. Jonah “the schismatic monk Jonah, son of iniquity”, but also because a large part of the Russian population was now living within the domain of King Casimir of Poland-Lithuania, who was a Roman Catholic. Thus the fall of the Greek Church into uniatism led directly to a schism in the Orthodox Russian Church, which had the former consequence that the Russian Great Prince could not count on the obedience even of all the Russian people – hardly a strong position from which to be proclaimed emperor of all the Orthodox Christians!

 

     Moreover, even when both Gregory Bolgarin and the later Patriarchs of Constantinople beginning with Gennadius Scholarius returned to Orthodoxy (the unia was officially and synodically renounced in Constantinople in 1480), the schism continued in the Russian lands, with one metropolitan, that of Kiev, under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, and the other, that of Moscow, independent of Constantinople.[189] The Greeks argued that, now that the unia had been renounced, the Russian Church of the independent Muscovite kingdom should return into obedience to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. But that would have meant the subjection of the free Russian Church living under a free and Orthodox sovereign to a metropolitan living under a hostile Roman Catholic king and a patriarch living under a hostile Muslim sultan!

 

     Thirdly, before the Russian Great Prince could assume the title of Tsar, or Emperor, he had to reunite all the Russian lands under his dominion, and then, if possible, all the lands of the Orthodox East. This point can be better appreciated if it is remembered that when the Emperor Constantine transferred the capital of the empire from Old Rome to the New Rome of Constantinople, he was already the undisputed ruler of the whole of the Roman empire, in which the great majority of Orthodox Christians lived. The Russian Great Prince, by contrast, ruled none of the traditional territories of the Roman empire, and not even “the mother of Russian cities”, the ancient capital of Kiev.

 

     Moreover, there were other Russian princes with claims to be “the new Constantine”, “the saviour of Orthodoxy” – “for instance,” writes Meyendorff, “the prince Boris of Tver, who had also sent a representative to the council [of Florence] and now, after rejecting the Lating faith, was said by one polemicist to deserve an imperial diadem. Furthermore, in Novgorod, under Archbishop Gennadius (1484-1509), there appeared a curious Russian variation on the Donation of Constantine, the Legend of the White Cowl. According to the Legend, the while cowl (klobuk; Gr. epikalimaukon) was donated by Constantine the Great to pope Sylvester following his baptism; the last Orthodox pope, foreseeing Rome’s fall into heresy, sent the cowl for safe-keeping to patriarch Philotheus of Constantinople, who eventually (also foreseeing the betrayal of Florence), sent the precious relic to the archbishop of Novgorod. Thus, not only Moscow, but also Tver and Novgorod, were somehow claiming to be the heirs of ‘Rome’, the center of the true Christian faith…”[190]

 

     It was in this Novgorodian legend dating to 1490 that the first use of the expression “the third Rome” is encountered: “The old Rome has lost its glory and has lapsed from the Christian faith out of pride and self-will. In the new Rome, which is in Constantinople, the Christian faith will also perish through the violence of the sons of Hagar. But in the third Rome, that stands in the Russian land, the grace of the Holy Spirit shall shine out. And know well, Philotheus, that all Christian lands shall come together in the one Russian kingdom for the sake of the true faith.”[191]

 

     At about the same time the same theme was eagerly taken up by Metropolitan Zosima, who was later condemned as Judaiser. Ya.S. Lourié writes: “The first attempts to think through the new situation that arose after the break with the patriarch were undertaken by people with very independent ideological positions. The idea of ‘Moscow – the new city of Constantine’ was put forward by Zosima, who was linked with the heretical movement [of the Judaisers] at the end of the 15th century; Zosima boldly referred the New Testament prophecy, ‘the first shall be last, and the last first’ to the Greeks and the Russians…[192]

 

     A generation later, Elder Philotheus of Pskov took up the theme, writing to the Pskov delegate of Great Prince Basil, Munechin: “I would like to say a few words about the existing Orthodox empire of our most illustrious, exalted ruler. He is the only emperor on all the earth over the Christians, the governor of the holy, divine throne of the holy, ecumenical, apostolic Church which in place of the Churches of Rome and Constantinople is in the city of Moscow, protected by God, in the holy and glorious Dormition church of the most pure Mother of God. It alone shines over the whole earth more radiantly than the sun. For know well, those who love Christ and those who love God, that all Christian empires will perish and give way to the one kingdom of our ruler, in accord with the books of the prophet [Daniel 7.14], which is the Russian empire. For two Romes have fallen, but the third stands, and there will never be a fourth.”[193]

 

     However, thus far Moscow was only an embryonic Third Rome: several tasks needed to be carried out before the embryo could become a fully adult man. The first task was that of becoming truly independent rulers – independent, that is, of their Tatar overlords. This aim was more or less achieved by 1480, when Moscow first refused to give tribute to the Horde.

 

     Of course, the Tatars did not take this lying down, and they continued to be a threat to the Russian State until well into the eighteenth century. But being under threat from a State is not the same as being in subjection to it. By the end of the fifteenth century Muscovy was a fully independent State for the first time in her history, and for this reason alone the Great Princes had the right to call themselves “tsar”, that is, “autocrat”.

 

     Their second task was the gathering of the Russian lands, the building up of a national kingdom uniting all the Russias, which involved at least three major stages: (i) the uniting of the free Russian princedoms under Moscow, (ii) the final liberation of the Eastern and Southern Russian lands from the Tatar-Mongol-Turkish yoke, and (iii) the liberation of the Western Russian lands from the Catholic yoke of Poland-Lithuania.

 

     Steady progress towards these ends was made in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries until the “The Time of Troubles”, which shook the Russian State to its foundation. Progress was resumed after the enthronement of the first Romanov tsar in 1613. The gathering of the Russian lands was finally accomplished in 1915, when Tsar Nicholas II conquered Galicia from the Catholic Austrians.

 

     Their third task was the gathering of the Orthodox lands, including the Greek and Semitic lands of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Muscovite State first turned its attention seriously to this aim under the Grecophile Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich and Patriarch Nicon. At this moment, however, the Muscovite autocracy suffered its most severe crisis and was transformed into the “Orthodox absolutism” of Peter the Great, whose ideal was rather the First Rome of the Caesars and Augusti.

 

     During the reign of Tsar Alexander II the idea of Moscow the Third Rome began to be revived, and Orthodox Christians again began to see this as the role that Divine Providence had entrusted to Russia.[194] The wars waged by Russia for the liberation of Bulgaria in 1877-78 and Serbia in 1914-17 can be seen as prefiguring the full realization of that role. But then came the revolution, in which the Third International represented a grotesque parody of the noble ideal of the Third Rome, an ideal that has yet to be realised in its fullness…

 

The Heresy of the Judaisers

 

     The greatest internal threat to the Muscovite kingdom in this period was the heresy of the Judaisers. Russia first came into conflict with the Jews in the form of the Khazars, a Turkic people inhabiting the Volga basin whose leaders had converted to Judaism in about 679, thus becoming “the thirteenth tribe” of Israel. In 965-969 Russian pagan armies under Great Prince Syatoslav destroyed the Khazar capital at Itel. His victory proved propelled the Khazars westwards towards what is now Belorussia and Poland, where they were joined, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, by large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews fleeing persecution in Italy, Provence and Germany.[195] From this time the Jewish community in Poland and the Russian territories under Polish dominion in Ukraine and Belorussia began to multiply rapidly…

 

     Arthur Koestler writes that the Khazars were branching out "long before the destruction of the Khazar state by the Mongols - as the ancient Hebrew nation had started branching into the Diaspora long before the destruction of Jerusalem. Ethnically, the Semitic tribes on the waters of the Jordan and the Turko-Khazar tribes on the Volga were of course 'miles apart', but they had at least two important formative factors in common. Each lived at a focal junction where the great trade routes connecting east and west, north and south intersect; a circumstance which predisposed them to become nations of traders, of enterprising travellers, or 'rootless cosmopolitans' - as hostile propaganda has unaffectionately labelled them. But at the same time their exclusive religion fostered a tendency to keep to themselves and stick together, to establish their own communities with their own places of worship, schools, residential quarters and ghettoes (originally self-imposed) in whatever town or country they settled. This rare combination of wanderlust and ghetto-mentality, reinforced by Messianic hopes and chosen-race pride, both ancient Israelites and medieval Khazars shared - even though the latter traced their descent not to Shem but to Japheth."[196]

 

     The Russian princes placed restrictions on the Jews and their money-lending practices. Vladimir Monomakh even expelled them. However, they crept back in, and according to Platonov, the Jews Anbal and Ofrem Moizovich played a leading part in the murder of Andrew of Bogolyubovo in the twelfth century.

 

     Platonov writes: “The transformation of Russia into the spiritual centre of Christian civilisation almost exactly coincided in time with the establishment of a secret Jewish Talmudic centre in the West Russian lands, which were occupied at that time by Poland and Lithuania. Although the entrance of Jews into Russia was cut off by a temporary frontier, their gradual secret assault on the stronghold of the Christian world was realised inexorably through the appearance of various Jewish heretical movements.” [197]

 

     The most important of these movements was the heresy of the Judaisers, when "the whole Russian Church," as General Nechvolodov writes, "had at her head a Judaizer, and the immediate entourage of the sovereign, those whom he loved, were also Judaizers."[198]

 

     The roots of the heresy of the Judaisers, writes a publication of the Moscow Patriarchate, "go deeper than is usually imagined. The part played by national elements in the heresy, which exploded like epidemics onto medieval Europe, has not yet been sufficiently clarified. The acts of the inquisition demonstrate that most of the sects were Judeo-Christian in character with a more or less pronounced Manichaean colouring. The flourishing of the Albigensian heresy in France has been directly linked by historians with the rise of Jewish influence in that country. The heresy of the Templars, 'the knights of the Temple', who were condemned in 1314, was linked with esoterical Judaism and blasphemy against Christ...

 

    "Judaisers were also known in the Orthodox East. In Salonica in the first third of the 14th century 'there existed a heretical Judaising society in the heart of the Greek population' which had an influence on 'the Bulgarian Judaisers of the 40s and 50s of the same century'. In 1354 a debate took place in Gallipoli between the famous theologian and hierarch of the Eastern Church Gregory Palamas, on the one hand, and the Turks and the Chionians, i.e the Judaisers, on the other. In 1360 a council meeting in Turnovo, the then capital of the Bulgarian patriarchate, condemned both the opponents of Hesychasm (the Barlaamites) and those who philosophise from the Jewish heresies.

 

     "The successes of the heresy in Russia could be attributed to the same cause as its success in France in the 14th century. Jews streamed into the young state of the Ottomans from the whole of Western Europe.[199] Thereafter they were able to penetrate without hindrance into the Genoan colonies of the Crimea and the Azov sea, and into the region of what had been Khazaria, where the Jewish sect of the Karaites had a large influence; for they had many adherents in the Crimea and Lithuania and were closely linked with Palestine. As the inscriptions on the Jewish cemetery of Chuft-Kale show, colonies of Karaites existed in the Crimea from the 2nd to the 18th centuries. The Karaites were brought to Lithuania by Prince Vitovt, the hero of the battle of Grunwald (1410) and great-grandfather of Ivan III Vasilievich. From there they spread throughout Western Russia.

 

     "... One has to admit that the beginning of the polemic between the Orthodox and the heretics was made, not in Byzantium, but in Russia. Besides, the polemic began... in the time of Metropolitan Peter (+1326), the founder of the Muscovite ecclesiastical centre. In the life of St. Peter it is mentioned among his other exploits for the good of the Russian Church that he 'overcame the heretic Seit in debate and anathematised him.’ The hypothesis concerning the Karaite origin of the 'Judaisers' allows us to see in Seit a Karaite preacher.

 

     "... The heresy did not disappear but smouldered under a facade of church life in certain circles of the Orthodox urban population, and the Russian church, under the leadership of her hierarchs, raised herself to an unceasing battle with the false teachings. The landmarks of this battle were: Metropolitan Peter's victory over Seit in debate (between 1312 and 1326), the unmasking and condemnation of the strigolniki in Novgorod in the time of Metropolitan Alexis (1370s), the overcoming of this heresy in the time of Metropolitan Photius (+1431), and of the heresy of the Judaisers - in the time of Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod (+1505) and St. Joseph of Volotsk (+1515).

 

     "'From the time of the holy Prince Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus', who rejected the solicitations of the Khazar Rabbis, wrote St. Joseph of Volotsk, 'the great Russian land has for 500 years remained in the Orthodox Faith, until the enemy of salvation, the devil, introduced the foul Jew to Great Novgorod. On St. Michael's day, 1470, there arrived from Kiev in the suite of Prince Michael Olelkovich, who had been invited by the veche [the Novgorodian parliament], 'the Jew Scharia' and 'Zachariah, prince of Taman. Later the Lithuanian Rabbis Joseph Smoilo Skaryavei and Moses Khanush also arrived.

 

     "The heresy began to spread quickly. However, 'in the strict sense of the word this was not merely heresy, but complete apostasy from the Christian faith and the acceptance of the Jewish faith. Using the weaknesses of certain clerics, Scharia and his assistants began to instil distrust of the Church hierarchy into the faint-hearted, inclining them to rebellion against spiritual authority, tempting them with 'self-rule', the personal choice of each person in the spheres of faith and salvation, inciting the deceived to renounce their Mother-Church, blaspheme against the holy icons[200] and reject veneration of the saints - the foundations of popular morality - and, finally, to a complete denial of the saving Sacraments and dogmas of Orthodoxy concerning the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. So they went so far as to conduct a Jewish war against God and the substitution of Christ the Saviour by the false messiah and antichrist.

 

     "The false teaching spread in secret. Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod first heard about the heresy in 1487; four members of a secret society, while abusing each other in a drunken frenzy, revealed the existence of the heresy in front of some Orthodox. The zealous archpastor quickly conducted an investigation and with sorrow became convinced that not only Novgorod, but also the very capital of Russian Orthodoxy, Moscow, was threatened. In September 1487 he sent Metropolitan Gerontius in Moscow the records of the whole investigation in the original. Igumen Joseph (Sanin) of the Dormition monastery of Volotsk, who had an unassailable reputation in Russian society at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, also spoke out against the heresy.

 

     "But the battle with the heresy turned out to be no simple matter, for the heretics had enlisted the support of powerful people in Moscow. Great Prince Ivan III, who had been deceived by the Judaisers, invited them to Moscow, and made the two leading heretics protopriests - one in the Dormition, and the other in the Archangels cathedrals in the Kremlin. Some of those close to the Tsar, such as Theodore Kurytsyn, who headed the government, and whose brother became the heretics' leader, were co-opted into the heresy. The Great Prince's bride, Helen Voloshanka, was converted to Judaism. In 1483 a correspondence between Ivan III and the heresiarch Scharia himself was established through diplomatic channels between Moscow and Bakhchisarai. Finally, the heretic Zosima was raised to the see of the great hierarchs of Moscow Peter, Alexis and Jonah."[201]

 

     A.P. Dobroklonsky continues the story: “Under his [Zosima’s] protection the heretics in Moscow began to act more boldly. Priest Dionysius supposedly even allowed himself to dance behind the altar and mock the cross; a circle of the more active heretics gathered at the house of Theodore Kurytsyn. Many heretics, on hearing that their comrades were living peacefully in Moscow, fled there from Novgorod; Gennadius was suspected of heterodoxy: the metropolitan demanded a confession of faith from him; the monk Zakhar spread leaflets against him everywhere. In Novgorod itself the heretics, hoping for impunity, again began to blaspheme openly. Gennadius considered it necessary to write epistles to Metropolitan Zosimas, to Archbishop Tikhon of Rostov, and to the bishops: Bassian of Tver, Niphon of Suzdal, Prochorus of Sarsk and Philotheus of Perm. He tried to persuade them to review the question of the heretics in council and take decisive measures against them: to execute, burn, hang and curse them. In 1490 a council did indeed take place, but without the participation of Gennadius. At it several heretics were accused of spreading Judaism and of trying to destroy Orthodox Christianity, of celebrating Pascha in the Jewish style, of breaking the weekly fasts, of celebrating the Liturgy after receiving food and drink, etc. They were cursed, defrocked and imprisoned. Some of them, on the orders of the Great Prince, were sent to Gennadius in Novgorod. He ordered them to be met 40 versts from the city, to be clothed in garments turned inside-out and to be seated on pack-horses with their faces turned to the tail. Pointed birch-bark helmets were put on their heads with bast brushes and straw crowns with the inscription: ‘this is the army of Satan’. In such a form they were led into the city; those who met them, on the orders of the bishop, spat on them and said: ‘these are the enemies of God and Christian blasphemers’. Then the helmets on their heads were burned. All this was done with the aim of frightening the heretics and cautioning the Orthodox.

 

     “But the triumph of Orthodoxy was short-lived and not complete. The cruder and more ignorant of the heretics were punished, those who allowed themselves openly to mock the Orthodox holy things; but the intelligentsia, which had power in the heretical party, was not touched: Zosima remained on the metropolitan see, Theodore Kuritsyn and Helena reigned in society and at the court, the brother of Kuritsyn Ivan the wolf, Klenov and others acted as before in Moscow. Therefore the heretical movement was bound to appear again even after the Council of 1490. One chance circumstance strengthened this movement. In the 15th century there was a widespread opinion in Russia and Greece that with the end of the seventh thousand of years (from the creation of the world) there would come the end of the world and the Coming of Jesus Christ. The Paschalia we had at the time ended at the year 7000, after which there was the addition: ‘Here is fear, here is sorrow; this year has at last appeared and in it we expect Thy universal Coming’. This year fell in 1492 (from the Birth of Christ). But then, contrary to the universal expectation, 1492 passed without incident, and the end of the world did not follow. The heretics began to laugh at them and say: ‘7000 years have passed, and your Paschalia has passed; why has Christ not appeared? That means the writings both of your Apostles and of your Fathers, which (supposedly) announced the glorious Coming of Christ after 7000 years are false’. A great ‘disturbance among the Christians’ appeared, as well as a critical attitude towards the patristic and sacred literature and ‘many departed from Orthodoxy’. Thus the heresy was again strengthened; the blasphemous scenes were repeated. Metropolitan Zosima himself supposedly mocked the crosses and icons, blasphemed Jesus Christ, led a debauched life and even openly denied life after death. Those Orthodox who reproached him he excommunicated from Holy Communion, defrocked, and even, by means of slander, obtained their detention in monasteries and prisons. Archbishop Gennadius, seeing that his practical activity in the former spirit was bearing little fruit, started writing. He composed the paschalia for 70 years into the eighth thousand, showing in a foreword that the former opinions concerning the end of the world and the method of calculating the paschalia were baseless. Then he devoted his efforts to collecting the sacred books into one Bible, so as to give the Orthodox the necessary means of struggling with heresy and protecting the Orthodox faith that had been lacking for many. Into the arena of active struggle with the Judaizers there stepped St. Joseph of Volokolamsk. In his epistle to Niphon of Suzdal, a very influential bishop of the time (1493), he told him about the licentious behaviour and apostasy from the faith of Metropolitan Zosima, about the bad religio-moral condition of Orthodox society, and asked him to overthrow Zosima and save the Russian Church.[202] At about this time he gave his final edition to his fist sermons against the Judaizers and, prefacing them with a history of the heresy to 1490, he published them in a special book for general use; in it he also did not spare Metropolitan Zosima, calling him a Judas-traitor, a forerunner of the Antichrist, a first-born son of Satan, etc. Zosima was forced to abandon his see and depart into retirement (1494). His place was taken (1495) by Simon, abbot of the Trinity-St. Sergius monastery, an indecisive and compromising man, albeit disposed against the heretics. Under the protection of Theodore Kuritsyn and Helena the heretics were able to act boldly. They wanted to organize a heretical community in Novgorod as well as in Moscow; on their insistence the tsar appointed Cassian, a supporter of the Judaizers, as archimandrite of the Novgorod Yuriev monastery. With his arrival the heretical movement was strengthened in Novgorod, and the Yuriev monastery became the centre and den of the heretics: here they held meetings, here they acted in an extremely blasphemous manner. Gennadius could do nothing with the heretics, who were supported in Moscow. Their triumph was aided by the fact that after the open plot against the tsar’s grandsom, Demetrius Ivanovich, the son of Helena, he was declared the heir to the throne and married to a Great Princess. In this way Helena’s party, which protected the heretics, became still stronger. However, from 1499 a turn-around began to take place. Several supporters of Helena were executed; instead of Demetrius, the grandson, Basil, the son, was declared heir to the throne (1502); Helena and Demetrius were imprisoned. The blow delivered to them was at the same time a heavy blow to the heretics. Now it was easier to persuade Ivan III to take decisive measures against them. Joseph of Volokolamsk tried to do this. After the Council of 1503 he several times talked with the tsar and directly said: ‘Your majesty, move against the heretics’; but he did not succeed in persuading him. The tsar was fearful of committing a sin in executing the heretics, although he did promise to conduct a search through all the cities. In 1504 Joseph wrote a letter to the tsar’s spiritual father, Metrophanes, archimandrite of the Andronikov monastery, asking him to exert influence on the tsar… In December, 1504 a Council did convene in Moscow. Present were Ivan III, Basil Ivanovich, Metropolitan Simon, the bishops and many clergy. Joseph spoke out against the heretics. The guilty ones were sentenced to various punishments. Some were burned in cages in Moscow (Ivan the wolf and others); others had their tongues cut out and were exiled to Novgorod where they were burned (together with Archimandrite Cassian); others, finally, were dispersed to various monastery prisons. The executions frightened the heretics. Many of them began to repent in order to receive clemency. Prince-Monk Bassian Patrikeev and the White Lake elders interceded for them, saying that it was necessary to receive repentant heretics into communion with the Church. But their repentance seemed insincere to Joseph; he thought it was necessary to keep the repentant heretics in prison and not allow them to receive Communion and communion with the Church; he expressed this view in his epistles and the last sermons of The Enlightener. In his private letters to Basil Ivanovich, who had taken the place of his father (1505), he demanded that searches for the heretics should contine and that they should be severely punished. An impassioned literary struggle began between the Josephites and the White Lake elders, which was expressed in works composed on both sides, especially by Joseph and Bassian Patrikeev. Bassian was so embittered that he called Joseph a misanthrope, a teacher of lawlessness and a breaker of the law of God, and those of the Judaizers who had been subjected to execution in spite of their late repentance, he glorified as martyrs. However, Joseph’s views prevailed. Basil Ivanovich ‘ordered that all the heretics should be cast into prison and kept there without coming out until the end of their lives’. On the death of Joseph (1515), the Judaizers for a time revived. Isaac the Jew seduced and drew away the Orthodox, so that in about 1520 a special Council was convened, Maximus the Greek wrote his ‘advice’ to the Fathers of this Council that they should move with zeal for Orthodox and give Isaac over to be executed. Joseph’s disciple Daniel [the future metropolitan] and Maximus the Greek considered it necessary to write works against the remnants of the heresy…”[203]

 

     This episode represents perhaps the only clear-cut case in Orthodox history when heretics have been executed precisely for their heresy. There is no doubt that the predominant tradition in the Orthodox Church with regard to the treatment of heretics was represented here by the White Lake Elders, especially St. Nilus of Sora, and not by St. Joseph of Volokolamsk. Some have speculated that such harshness betrayed the influence of the contemporary Spanish Inquisition, which was also directed primarily at Judaizing heretics. Be that as it may, it should be remembered that: (i) the death penalty for heresy was on the statute books of both the Byzantine and Russian empires[204], (ii) the Judaizing heresy represented a most serious threat to both the Church and the State of Moscow.

 

Possessors and Non-Possessors

 

     The immediate result of the Judaising heresy was a major increase in the Great Prince’s power and in the Church’s reliance on the State. For churchmen now saw in the monarchical power the major bulwark against heresy, more important even than the metropolitanate, which, for the second time in little more than fifty years (the first time was at the council of Florence) had betrayed Orthodoxy.[205] Thus Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod wrote to Bishop Niphon of Suzdal: “You go to the Metropolitan and ask him to intercede with his majesty the Great Prince, that he cleanse the Church of God from heresy”. Again, St. Joseph wrote: “The Tsar is by nature like all men, but in power he is similar to the Supreme God. And just as God wishes to save all people, so the Tsar must preserve everything that is subject to his power from all harm, both spiritual and bodily”.[206]

 

     According to St. Joseph, as M.V. Zyzykin interprets him, the defence of the truth “is placed on the tsar alone, for in his eyes it is in the monarchical power that the will of God is reflected; he is God’s deputy. The tsar is not only the servant of God, chosen by God and placed by Him on his throne, but he is also the representative of God, immeasurably exalted above [ordinary] people: he is like them only in accordance with his human nature, but in his power he is like God. From the point of view of the aim, the manifestations of monarchical power are analogous to those of Divine power. Just as the All-Highest wishes that all men be saved, so the tsar must keep those entrusted to his care from spiritual and bodily harm. For his fulfilment and non-fulfilment of his duty the tsar is responsible only before God. His power cannot be placed beside any other power on earth. And Joseph applies the words of Chrysostom to the tsars: ‘Hear, O kings and princes, your dominion is given you from God, you are the servants of God; it is for this reason that He placed you as pastor and guard over His people to protect His flock unharmed from wolves…’ The tsar must revenge Christ on the heretics, otherwise he will have to give an account at the terrible judgement. He must send them to prison or tortures and submit them to death. Heretical agreements are for Joseph worse than robbery and theft, than murder or fornication or adultery. Those who pretended to repent of their Judaism after the Council of 1490 deceived many, and the tsar was responsible for that before God. The spread and fall of heresy is the cause of the fall and destruction of a great kingdom; it is analogous to state disturbances and coups. ‘The great kingdoms of the Armenians, Ethiopians and Romans, who fell away from the Catholic and Apostolic Church and from the Orthodox Christian faith perished evilly because of the negligence of the Orthodox kings and hierarchs of those times, and these kings and hierarchs will be condemned at the terrible judgement of Christ for this negligence.’ In 1511 Joseph persuaded Basil III to apply his power against the heretics in the same way that he had previously spoken with the father against the Novgorod Judaisers, so that they should not destroy the whole of Orthodox Christianity. It was on the soil of the struggle with heresy that the duty of the Russian Great Prince to defend the faith was revealed. If in Byzantium the kings’ encroachment on the teaching authority of the Church stands to the fore, in Rus’ we encounter first of all the striving to ascribe to the tsar Archpastoral rights in the realisation of Christianity in life.

 

     “Joseph gave a very broad interpretation to the range of the tsar’s rights, extending them to all spheres of life, to everything ecclesiastical and monastic. He did not think twice about bringing Archbishop Serapion of Novgorod to trial before the tsar for banning him for leaving his jurisdiction, although the tsar had permitted it.[207] For Joseph the tsar’s power was unlimited already by virtue of its origin alone. For him the tsar was not only the head of the state, but also the supreme protector of the Church. He had, besides, a leadership role in relation to all ecclesiastical institutions; not one side of ecclesiastical life was exempt from it; the circle of his concerns included Church rites and Church discipline, and the whole ecclesiastical-juridical order. The tsar establishes the rules of ecclesiastical order and entrusts to bishops and nobles the task of seeing to their fulfilment, threatening the disobedient with hierarchical bans and punishments. One can have resort to the tsar’s court, according to Joseph, against all ecclesiastics and monastics. This theory would have been the exact restoration of ancient caesaropapism in Russian colours if Joseph had not limited the king in principle by the observance of the Church canons. In this exaltation of the tsar we see a reflection of the Byzantine theory of the 14th century, which, while recognising the priority of the canon over the law, nevertheless exalted the emperor to the first place even in Church affairs.”[208]

 

     St. Joseph was far from ascribing absolute power to the tsar, as  is evident from the following: “The holy apostles speak as follows about kings and hierarchs who do not care for, and worry about, their subjects: a dishonourable king who does not care for his subjects is not a king, but a torturer; while an evil bishop who does not care for his flock is not a pastor, but a wolf.”[209] However, his theory of Church-State relations lays great responsibility on the tsar as the representative of God on earth, and less emphasis on the bishop’s duty to reprove an erring tsar.

 

     An attempt to restore the balance was made at the Council of 1503, in which  the debate on the Judaizers led naturally to the problem of the monasteries’ landed estates; for one of the reasons for the popularity of the heretics was the perceived justice of their criticisms of monasticism, and in particular of the wealth of the monasteries. St. Joseph defended this wealth, claiming that it was necessary in order to support the poor and the Great Prince and the education of the clergy. However, Monk-Prince Bassian Patrikiev and the hermit St. Nilus of Sora, preached the monastic ideal of non-possessiveness. Moreover, St. Nilus and his disciples wanted the dissolution of the vast land holdings not only because they contradicted the spirit and the letter of monastic vows, but also because this would liberate the clergy, as Zyzykin writes, “from dependence on the secular government and would raise the Hierarchy to the position of being the completely independent religious-moral power of the people, before which the despotic tendencies of the tsars would bow.”[210] The debate between the so-called “possessors” and “non-possessors” was therefore also a debate about the relationship between the Church and the State. And insofar as the non-possessors favoured greater independence for the Church, they also argued that the Church, and not the State, should punish the Judaizer heretics – which would mean less severe sentences for them in accordance with the Orthodox tradition of non-violence in the treatment of heretics.

 

     St. Nilus and his disciples showed a quite different attitude to the tsar’s power from St. Joseph. In particular, “they drew attention to the conditions under which the tsar’s will in the administration of the kingdom could be considered as the expression of the will of God. They drew attention not only to the necessity of counsellors to make up the inevitable deficiencies of limited human nature, but also to the necessity of ‘spiritual correctness’. Thus Prince Bassian did not exalt the personality of the tsar like Joseph. He did not compare the tsar to God, he did not liken him to the Highest King, but dwelt on the faults inherent in the bearers of royal power which caused misfortunes to the State.”[211]

 

     In spite of the differences between Saints Joseph and Nilus, it must be remembered that they were both canonised by the Church, and were therefore, in Lebedev’s phrase, “brothers in spirit”.[212]

 

St. Maximus the Greek

 

    At this time when the influence of Byzantium was declining in Russia, the Lord sent an Athonite monk to Russia to remind the Russians of the best Byzantine tradition in Church-State relations - St. Maximus the Greek.

 

     St. Maximus “complained that among the pastors of his time there was ‘no Samuel’, ‘a Priest of the Most High who stood up boldly in opposition to the criminal Saul’, that there were ‘no zealots like Elijah and Elisha who were not ashamed in the face of the most lawlessly violent kings of Samaria; there is no Ambrose the wonderful, the Hierarch of God, who did not fear the loftiness of the kingdom of Theodosius the Great; no Basil the Great, whose most wise teachings caused the persecutor (of the Church) Valens to fear; no Great John of the golden tongue, who reproached the money-loving usurer Empress Eudocia’. In accordance with Byzantine conceptions, Maximus the Greek looked on the priesthood and the kingdom as the two greatest gifts given by the most High Divine Goodness to man, as two powers on whose agreement in action depended the happiness of mankind. Among the duties laid upon the representatives of the Church, he mentioned that they must by their most wise advice and strategems of every kind.. always correct the royal sceptres for the better, so that they should be alien to any fawning before secular power and should exert a restraining, moderating influence upon it. Maximus spoke of the superiority of the spiritual power over the secular…”[213]

 

     St. Maximus was in favour as long as Metropolitan Barlaam, a follower of St. Nilus of Sora, was in power. But when Barlaam was uncanonically removed by the Great Prince Basil III  and replaced by Metropolitan Daniel, a disciple of St. Joseph of Volotsk, his woes began…

 

     For a while the Great Prince  continued to protect him, even when he rebuked the vices of the nobility, the clergy and the people and supported the position of the non-possessors against the metropolitan. However, his enemies found the excuse they were looking for when the Grand Prince, with the blessing of Metropolitan Daniel, put away his wife Solomonia for her barrenness and married Elena Glinskaya (Solomonia was forcibly tonsured in Suzdal and was later canonised under her monastic name of Sophia).

 

     St. Maximus immediately rebuked the Great Prince. He wrote him an extensive work: Instructive chapters for right-believing rulers, which began: “O most devout Tsar, he is honoured as a true ruler who seeks to establish the life of his subjects in righteousness and justice, and endeavours always to overcome the lusts and dumb passions of his soul. For he who is overcome by them is not the living image of the Heavenly Master, but only an anthropomorphic likeness of dumb nature.”[214]

 

     The saint was to suffer many years in prison because of his boldness. But he had admirers and supporters both within and outside Russia. Thus Patriarch Mark of Jerusalem, wrote prophetically to the Great Prince: “If you do this wicked thing, you will have an evil son. Your estate will become prey to terrors and tears. Rivers of blood will flow; the heads of the mighty will fall; your cities will be devoured by flames.”[215] The prophecy was fulfilled with exactitude in the reign of his son, Ivan IV, better known as “the Terrible”.

 

     St. Maximus was released from prison only many years later. But he continued his bold preaching in the face of the Princes. Thus he refused to bless a pilgrimage of Tsar Ivan, saying that he should look after the widows and orphans of those killed at Kazan instead. And he threatened that if he did not, his newborn son Demetrius would die. Ivan ignored his advice, and Demetrius died…

    

     Hieromonk Gregory (Lourié) dates the beginning of the fall of the Russian Church into “Sergianism”, that is, captivity to the State to the time of Metropolitan Daniel and Great Prince Basil:Still earlier they should have excommunicated – not even Ivan IV, but his father Basil III for his adulterous ‘marriage’, which gave Russia Ivan the Terrible. Then we wouldnt have had Peter I. Thats what they did in such cases in Byzantium…”[216] However, it should be noted that St. Maximus never broke communion with Daniel, and was restored to favour under his successor, Metropolitan Macarius. Moreover, as we have seen and will see in more detail later, caesaropapism was by no means the rule in the Russian Church even in the reign of Ivan the Terrible. This episode must therefore be considered unfortunate, but not “the beginning of the end”…

 

Ivan the Terrible: (1) The Orthodox Tsar

 

     A major step forward in Russia’s path towards becoming fully the Third Rome was made in the reign of Ivan the Terrible. His coronation, on January 16, 1547, gave him an increased authority in the eyes of the Orthodox world. His grandfather, Grand Prince Ivan III, had married the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor, Sophia Palaeologus, and had occasionally called himself Tsar of All Russia. Then, on February 4, 1498, he had crowned his grandson Demetrius according to the rite established for the rank of Caesar in the Byzantine court, using the crown known as the Cap of Vladimir Monomakh, which the latter was believed to have received five centuries earlier from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX. But Demetrius had died before he could succeed to throne and be crowned as Tsar. The decisive step was taken by Ivan when he was crowned and anointed Tsar of All Russia with the Cap of Vladimir Monomakh and according to a rite established by the Metropolitan.

 

     At first, the Ecumenical Patriarch Joasaph said that this act “has no validity, since not only does a Metropolitan not have the right to crown, but not even every Patriarch, but only the two Patriarchs: the Roman and Constantinopolitan”. However, he granted Ivan the right to call himself Tsar and suggested that he have the coronation repeated by Metropolitan Joasaph, the patriarchal exarch, who would bring a gramota to Moscow. But not only was Ivan not crowned again: he refused to ask the blessing of Metropolitan Joasaph, saying that he had kissed the cross of the Lithuanian Catholic king on his way to Moscow. It was only in September, 1562 that Ivan received a gramota from the Patriarch calling him “our Tsar”, ascribing to him authority over “Orthodox Christians in the entire universe”, and applying to him the same epithets, “pious, God-crowned and Christ-loving” as had been applied to the Byzantine Emperors. This was an important advance in Ivan’s status in the eyes of the Orthodox world.

 

     In view of the fearsome reputation Ivan has acquired, not without reason, in the historical consciousness of mankind, it is worth reminding ourselves of the great achievements of the first half of his reign. He vastly increased the territory of the Muscovite kingdom, neutralising the Tatar threat and bringing Kazan and the whole of the Volga under Orthodox control; he subdued Novgorod; he began the exploration of Siberia; he strengthened the army and local administration; he introduced the Zemskie Sobory, “Councils of the Land”, in which he sought the advice of different classes of the people; he subdued the boyars who had nearly destroyed the monarchy in his childhood; he rejected Jesuit attempts to bring Russia into communion with Rome; he convened Church Councils that condemned heresies (e.g. the Arianism of Bashkin) and removed many abuses in ecclesiastical and monastic life. Even the Tsar’s fiercest critic, Prince Andrew Kurbsky, had to admit that he had formerly been ”radiant in Orthodoxy”.

 

     It was this “radiance in Orthodoxy” and respect for the Church that prevented Ivan from becoming, in the first half of his reign, an absolutist ruler in the sense that he admitted no power higher than his own. This is illustrated by his behaviour in the famous Stoglav (‘Hundred Chapters’) Church Council of 1551, which was conducted by the Tsar putting forward questions to which the hierarchy replied. The hierarchy was quite happy to support the tsar in extirpating certain abuses within the Church, but when the tsar raised the question of the sequestration of Church lands for the sake of the strengthening of the State, the hierarchs showed their independence and refused. The tsar sufficiently respected the independence of the hierarchy to yield to its will on this matter, and in general the sixteenth-century Councils were true images of sobornost’.

 

     As Metropolitan Macarius (Bulgakov) writes: “At most of the Councils there were present, besides the hierarchs, the superiors of the monasteries – archimandrites, igumens, builders, also protopriests, priests, monks and the lower clergy generally. Often his Majesty himself was present, sometimes with his children, brothers and with all the boyars… It goes without saying that the right to vote at the Councils belonged first of all to the metropolitan and the other hierarchs… But it was offered to other clergy present at the Councils to express their opinions. There voice could even have a dominant significance at the Council, as, for example, the voice of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk at the Councils of 1503-1504… The conciliar decisions and decrees, were signed only by the hierarchs, others – by lower clergy: archimandrites and igumens. And they were confirmed by the agreement of his Majesty…”[217]

 

     All this went with a programme and ideology worked out, in part, by the tsar himself, and partly by advisors such as Ivan Semenovich Peresvetov, a minor nobleman from Lithuania who had served in the Ottoman empire. At the base of this programme there remained the concept of Moscow as the Third Rome. Thus in 1540 Elder Philotheus of Pskov wrote to the young tsar, who was not yet of age, that the “woman clothed with the sun” of Revelation 12 was the Church, which fled from the Old Rome to the New Rome of Constantinople, and thence, after the fall of Constantinople, to the third Rome “in the new, great Russia”. And the master of the third Rome, in both its political and ecclesiastical spheres, was the tsar: “Alone on earth the Orthodox, great Russian tsar steers the Church of Christ as Noah in the ark was saved from the flood, and he establishes the Orthodox faith.”

 

     Ya.S. Lourié writes: “The idea that Russia was the only country in the world that had kept the true faith was very majestic, but also very responsible. If the truth was concentrated with us, and the whole of the surrounding world had spiritually ‘collapsed’, then in constructing their State the Russians had to go along a completely individual path, and rely on the experience of others only to a very limited degree – and rely on it as negative experience.

 

     “The complexities linked with such an ideological position were very clearly revealed in the work of the writer to whom it was entrusted, at the very beginning of the reign of Ivan IV, to express words that might at first glance appear to be a kind of programme of this reign. Turning to the history of the fall of Constantinople and the victory of Mehmet the Sultan over the Greeks, Peresvetov explained these events in terms of the ‘meekness’ of the Greek Emperor Constantine: ‘It is not possible to be an emperor without being threatening; as a horse without a bridle, so is an empire without threatenings’.[218] And he foretold to the young tsar: ‘You are a threatening and wise sovereign; you will bring the sinful to repentance and install justice and truth in your kingdom.’ It is important to note that ‘justice’ in this programme was no less important than ‘threatening’; the ‘meekness’ of the Greek Emperor consisted in the fact that he ceded power to the ‘nobles’, and they had enslaved the people.”[219]

 

     “Peresvetov,” writes Sir Geoffrey Hosking, “was almost certainly right. The Ottomans owed the creation of their empire at least in large part to reforms which weakened the native Turkish nobles who had previously formed the backbone of its tribal confederacies. Those nobles had been supplanted at the Ottoman court by Christian youths recruited from the Balkans and converted to Islam under the devshirme system. They furnished both the Janissaries, the elite corps of the army, and the principal civilian advisors. The Sultan required all his military and governmental leaders, whatever their provenance, to accept the status of his personal slaves, in order to separate them forcibly from their kinship loyalties. The conquered city of Constantinople was used for the same purpose: to give his new elite a power base remote from the native grazing lands of the Turkish nobles.

 

     “Such a system had obvious attractions for a Muscovite ruler also building an empire on vulnerable territories on the frontier between Christianity and Islam, and also struggling to free himself from aristocratic clans. Peresvetov did not go as far as his Ottoman model, and refrained from recommending slavery; but he did propose that the army should be recruited and trained by the state and paid for directly out of the treasury. This would ensure that individual regiments could not become instruments of baronial feuding. He favoured a service nobility promoted on the basis of merit and achievement, but he did not envisage serfdom as a means of providing them with their livelihood: in so far as he considered the matter at all, he assumed they would be salaried out of tax revenues.

 

     “Peresvetov’s importance was that he offered a vision of a state able to mobilize the resources of its peoples and lands equitably and efficiently. He was one of the first European theorists of monarchical absolutism resting on the rule of law. He believed that a consistent law code should be published, and that its provisions should be guided by the concept of pravda (which in Russian means both truth and justice): it would be the task of the ‘wise and severe monarch’ to discern and uphold this principle, without favour to the privileged and powerful.

 

     “In the early years of his reign we can see Ivan endeavouring to implement, in his own way, some of Peresvetov’s ideas, especially where they would enhance the strength and efficiency of the monarchy. At the same time he was trying to reach out beyond the fractious boyars and courtiers to make contact with the local elites of town and countryside and bind them into a more cohesive system of rule. Together with his Chosen Council, an ad hoc grouping of boyars, clergymen and service nobles personally chosen by him, he tried to make a start towards removing the ‘sovereign’s affairs’ (gosudarevo delo) from the private whims of the boyars and their agents, and bringing them under the control of himself in alliance with the ‘land’ (zemlia).”[220]

 

Ivan the Terrible: (2) The Bloodthirsty Tyrant

 

     The tsar started putting this programme into effect in the decade 1547-1556, when he convened his Zemskie Sobory. This was also the decade of his great victories over the Tatars of Kazan and Astrakhan. However, things began to go wrong from 1558, when he began a campaign against the Livonian Knights that was to prove expensive and unsuccessful. Then, in 1560, his beloved first wife, Anastasia, died – killed, as he suspected (and modern scientific research has confirmed) by the boyars. This marked the beginning of one of the sharpest changes in Russian history…

 

     So what threat did the boyars really pose? Before answering this question, it should be pointed out that in Russia, unlike most West European countries, the Great Prince or Tsar was not seen as simply the most powerful member of the noble class, but as standing above all the classes, including the nobility. Therefore the lower classes as often as not looked to the Great Prince or Tsar to protect them from the nobility, and often intervened to raise him to power or protect him from attempted coups by the nobility.

 

     There are many examples of this in Russian history, from Andrew of Bogolyubovo to the Time of Troubles to the Decembrist conspiracy in 1825. Thus Pokrovsky wrote of the failed Decembrist conspiracy: “The autocracy was saved by the Russian peasant in a guard’s uniform”.[221] And in fact the tsars, when allowed to rule with truly autocratic authority, were much better for the peasants than the nobles, passing laws that surpassed contemporary European practice in their humaneness. Thus Solonevich points out that according to Ivan’s Sudebnik of 1550, “the administration did not have the right to arrest a man without presenting him to the representatives of the local self-government…, otherwise the latter on the demand of the relatives could free the arrested man and exact from the representative of the administration a corresponding fine ‘for dishonour’. But guarantees of security for person and possessions were not restricted to the habeas corpus act. Klyuchevsky writes about ‘the old right of the ruled to complain to the highest authority against the lawless acts of the subject rulers’.”[222]

 

     Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that sixteenth-century Russia was in many ways a less free State than in the 11th or 14th centuries. The reason lay in the task imposed by Divine Providence on Russia of defending the last independent outpost of Orthodoxy in the world, which required, in the context of the threat posed by Counter-Reformation Catholicism, an ever-increasing centralisation and militarisation of society, and therefore great sacrifices from all classes of the population. “The particularity of Ivan the Terrible’s ideological position,” writes Ya. S. Lourié, “consisted in the fact that the idea of the new State incarnating the right faith, which had ‘collapsed’ in the whole of the rest of the world, was completely freed in him from all freethinking and social-reformatory traits and became the official ideology of the already-existing ‘true Orthodox Christian autocracy’. The main task, therefore, became not reforms in the State, but its defence from all the anti-state forces which were ‘corrupting’ the country ‘with disorders and civil disturbances’. Sharing Peresvetov’s hostility to the ‘nobles’, the tsar drew one important conclusion from it: the unfitting and ‘traitrous’ had to be replaced by new people…”[223]

 

     Although at least some of the boyars certainly did not fit into Ivan’s conception of his State, it is not true that the boyar class wanted to abolish the autocracy. For, as Protopriest Lev Lebedev writes, “Russia without the Tsar was inconceivable to it; the Tsar was even necessary to it (otherwise the princes would simple have fought against each other, as in the time of the appanage wars). The boyar opposition attained a relative independence, as it were autonomy, and, of course, it was not against ruling the Tsars, but this could never be fully realised because of the inevitable and constant quarrels within the princely boyar or court opposition itself, which consisted of various grouping around the most powerful families, which were doomed to an absence of unity because of the love of power and avarice of each of them. One can say that the princely-courtly opposition from time immemorial tried to weaken (and did weaken, did shake!) the Autocracy, while at the same time unfailingly wanting to preserve it! A shaky and inconsistent position…”[224]

 

     The freest class was probably the servitors of the Church. As we have seen, Ivan respected the Church, and did not in general try to impose his will on her. And yet he liked to emphasise that the Church had no business interfering in affairs of State, constantly bringing the argument round to the quasi-absolute power of the tsar – and the insubordination of the boyars: “Remember, when God delivered the Jews from slavery, did he place above them a priest or many rulers? No, he placed above them a single tsar – Moses, while the affairs of the priesthood he ordered should be conducted, not by him, but by his brother Aaron, forbidding Aaron to be occupied with worldly matters. But when Aaron occupied himself with worldly affairs, he drew the people away from God. Do you see that it is not fitting for priests to do the work of tsars! Also, when Dathan and Abiron wanted to seize power, remember how they were punished for this by their destruction, to which destruction they led many sons of Israel? You, boyars, are worthy of the same!”[225]

 

     The lower classes – that is, the peasants, shopkeepers and artisans, who paid taxes and services to the tsar and his servitors - were increasingly chained to the land which they worked. For in the century 1550-1650, in order to prevent them from simply disappearing into the woods or fleeing to the steppes in the south, the tsars gradually enserfed them. They were not technically slaves (slaves do not pay taxes); but a combination of political and economic factors (e.g. peasant indebtedness to landlords, landlords’ liability for collecting peasants’ taxes, the enormous demand for manpower as the state’s territory expanded) bonded them to the land; and the hereditary nature of social status in Muscovite Russia meant that they had little hope of rising up the social ladder.

 

     However, it was the boyars who lost most from the increasing power of the tsar. In medieval Russia, they had been theoretically free to join other princes; but by the 1550s there were no independent Russian princes – Orthodox princes, at any rate – outside Moscow.[226] Moreover, their lands, or votchiny, were now held conditionally on serving the Muscovite Grand Prince, and if they failed to serve him, their lands were theoretically forfeit.

 

     The boyars traditionally served in the army or the administration; but state administration, being historically simply an extension of the prince’s private domain, was completely controlled by him. The prince’s power was greatly increased by his conquest of Novgorod in 1478 and his appropriation of all the land of the local aristocratic and merchant elites. But the really staggering increase in his power came in the 1550s-1560s, when the vast lands of the former Kazan and Astrakhan khanates became part of the monarchy’s patrimony.

 

     However, the boyars were still a potential problem through their clannish rivalries and habits of freedom. For Ivan, the independent power of the boyars, which may have been a matter of course in the western kingdoms, was incompatible with his conception of the Russian autocracy. As he wrote to the rebellious boyar, Prince Kurbsky in 1564: “What can one say of the godless peoples? There, you know, the kings do not have control of their kingdoms, but rule as is indicated to them by their subjects. But from the beginning it is the Russian autocrats who have controlled their own state, and not their boyars and grandees!”[227] For Ivan was not in the least swayed by the ideology of democracy, being, as he wrote, “humble Ioann, Tsar and Great Prince of All Russia, by God’s will, and not by the multimutinous will of man…”

 

     Kurbsky, in his defence of the boyar class, relied mainly on the personal valour of “the best of the mighty ones of Israel”. In reply, Ivan pointed out that personal qualities do not help if there are no correct “structures”: “As a tree cannot flower if its roots dry up, so here: if there are no good structures in the kingdom, courage will not be revealed in war. But you, without paying attention to structures, are glorified only with courage”.

 

     The idea that there can be more than one power in the land is Manichaeism, according to Ivan; for the Manichaeans taught that “Christ possesses only the heavens, while the earth is ruled independently by men, and the nether regions by the devil. But I believe that Christ possesses all: the heavens, the earth and the nether regions, and everything in the heavens, on the earth and in the nether regions subsists by His will, the counsel of the Father and the consent of the Holy Spirit”. And since the tsar is anointed of God, he rules in God’s place, and can concede no part of what is in fact God’s power to anyone else.

 

     When, crazed by grief and suspicion at his wife’s death, Ivan resolved finally to do away with the boyars, he resolved on the following strategem. He designated the boyars’ lands as oprichnina, that is, his personal realm, and ordered the oprichniki, that is, a kind of secret police body sworn to obey him alone, to enter the boyars’ lands and to kill, rape and pillage at will. They carried out unbridled terror and torture on tens of thousands of the population, and were rewarded with the expropriated lands of the men they had murdered.  By the end of his reign the boyars’ economic power had been in part destroyed, and a new class, the dvoriane, had taken their place. This term originally denoted domestic servitors, both freemen and slaves, who were employed by the appanage princes to administer their estates. Ivan now gave them titles previously reserved for the boyars, and lands in various parts of the country. However, these lands were pomestia, not votchiny – that is, they were not hereditary possessions and remained the legal property of the tsar, and could be taken back from the servitors if they fai led to render satisfactory service.

 

     Ivan justified his cruel suppression of the boyars through the scriptural doctrine of submission to the secular power: “See and understand: he who resists the power resists God; and he who resists God is called an apostate, and that is the worst sin. You know, this is said of every power, even of a power acquired by blood and war. But remember what was said above, that we have not seized the throne from anyone. He who resists such a power resists God even more!”[228] The tsar’s power does not come from the people, but from God, by succession from the first Christian autocrat of Russia, St. Vladimir. He is therefore answerable, not to the people, but to God alone. And the people, being “not godless”, recognises this. Kurbsky, however, by his rebellion against the tsar has rebelled against God and so “destroyed his soul”.[229]

 

     And so many, submitting humbly to the tsar’s unjust decrees, received the crown of life in an innocent death. There was no organised mass movement against his power in the Russian land. Even when he expressed a desire to resign his power, the people – completely sincerely, it seems, - begged him to return.[230]

 

     For according to Orthodox teaching, even if a ruler is unjust or cruel, he must be obeyed as long as he provides that freedom from anarchy, that minimum of law and order, that is the definition of God-established political authority (Romans 13.1-6). Thus St. Irenaeus of Lyons writes: “Some rulers are given by God with a view to the improvement and benefit of their subjects and the preservation of justice; others are given with a view to producing fear, punishment and reproof; yet others are given with a view to displaying mockery, insult and pride – in each case in accordance with the deserts of the subjects. Thus… God’s judgement falls equally on all men.”[231] Again, St. Isidore of Pelusium writes that the evil ruler “has been allowed to spew out this evil, like Pharaoh, and, in such an instance, to carry out extreme punishment or to chastise those for whom great cruelty is required, as when the king of Babylon chastised the Jews.”[232]

 

     But there is line beyond which an evil ruler ceases to be a ruler and becomes an anti-ruler, an unlawful tyrant, who is not to be obeyed. Thus the Jews were commanded by God through the Prophet Jeremiah to submit to the king of Babylon, evil though he was; whereas they were commanded through another prophet, Moses, to resist and flee from the Egyptian Pharaoh. For in the one case the authority, though evil, was still an authority, which it was beneficial to obey; whereas in the other case the authority was in fact an anti-authority, obedience to which would have taken the people further away from God.

 

     Tsar Ivan was an evil man, but a true authority. The fact that the people revered and obeyed him as the anointed of God did not mean that they were not aware that many of his deeds were evil and inspired by the devil. But by obeying him in his capacity as the anointed of God, they believed that they ascended from the earthly kingdom to the Heavenly, while by patiently enduring his demonic assaults on them they believed that they received the forgiveness of their sins and thereby escaped the torments of hell, so far exceeding the worst torments that any earthly ruler could subject them to.

 

     As Archbishop Nathaniel of Vienna writes: “If a Russian person of the 14th-16th centuries had been asked why he with complete forgetfulness of self served his Tsar and his State, and why he considered it his ineluctable duty to serve them in this way, then every Russian person, or in any case the overwhelming majority of them, would have replied that they served in this way in order to provide for themselves and for their children the possibility of living without hindrance in accordance with the rules of Christianity, that is, the Orthodox laws and customs, so as not to submit to a heterodox state power or one that was indifferent to good and evil. No extra-ecclesiastical, secular or lay aims, such as state glory, national pride, territorial size or a guaranteed life of freedom, etc., would have been placed as an aim of state life by a Russian person of the 14th-16th centuries; and if he sometimes did, then in any case he would in no way have been inclined to live or die for it.

 

     “At the head of life, not in a political sense, but in their capacity as generally recognized spiritual leaders of society, stood the saints, and amongst them in particular Saints Sergius of Radonezh and Cyril of Belozersk, and the hierarchs Peter and Alexis, metropolitans of all Russia.

 

     “It is in the unbroken unity with them of the whole of the Russian people of the 14th-16th centuries that we find the key to an understanding of the formula “Holy Rus’”. Rus’ was never holy in the sense that the whole or a significant part of its people were holy. But holiness was the only ideal for everyone. The Russian man of that time knew no other ideal. He did not know the ideals of culture, good education and heroism as ideals separate from holiness. All these separate ideals were included for him in the single, all-embracing ideal – holiness. But culture, heroism and the other virtues were valuable only when they were sanctified by holiness. Not being saints themselves, but often being very sinful, the Russian people of that time repented of their sins, felt compunction and, in confessing their unity with their contemporary and past saints, they recognised their infinite superiority over themselves, and asked for their prayers for themselves…”[233]

 

     It was this ideal of holiness that made Russia great and led so many millions of her children into the Heavenly Kingdom; it was the undermining of this attitude, from the second half of the seventeenth century onwards, that led in the end to the Russian revolution… Having said that, the Orthodox tradition of obedience to legitimate authorities goes hand in hand with the tradition of protest against untruth and unrighteousness. And in this respect there was some truth in Prince Kurbsky’s lament over the state of Russia in Ivan’s reign: “The authority which comes from God devises unprecedented pains of death for the virtuous. The clergy – we will not judge them, far be that from us, but bewail their wretchedness – are ashamed to bear witness to God before the tsar; rather they endorse the sin. They do not make themselves advocates of widows and orphans, the poor, the oppressed and the prisoners, but grab villages and churches and riches for themselves. Where is Elijah, who was concerned for the blood of Naboth and confronted the king? Where are the host of prophets who gave the unjust kings proof of their guilt? Who speaks now without being embarrassed by the words of Holy Scripture and gives his soul as a ransom for his brothers? I do not know one. Who will extinguish the fire that is blazing in our land? No one. Really, our hope is still only with God…”[234]

 

     Moreover, while we have asserted that Ivan was true ruler, it must be admitted that his theory (and still more his practice) of government contained absolutist elements which were closer to the theories of Protestant Reformers such as Luther and contemporary Protestant monarchs such as Elizabeth I of England than to Orthodoxy. In fact, the nineteenth-century Slavophile Ivan Kireevsky went so far as to call him a heretic, and attributed to his heretical view of Church-State relations all the woes of the later part of his reign: “The terrible one acted in a restrictive manner because he was a heretic; this is proved… by his striving to place Byzantinism [i.e. the absolutist ideas of some Byzantine emperors and canonists] in a position of equal dignity with Orthodoxy. From this there came the oprichnina as a striving towards state heresy and ecclesiastical power. And that this concept of the limits or, more correctly, the lack of limits of his power and of its lack of connection with the people was not Christian, but heretical is witnessed publicly to this day by the holy relics of Metropolitan Philip.”[235]

 

     St. Philip was the one man who, together with the fools-for-Christ Basil the Blessed and Nicholas Salos, did oppose the unrighteousness of the tsar. His ideas about the nature of tsarist power did not differ substantially from those of his predecessors, and especially St. Joseph of Volotsk. The tsar was complete master in his kingdom, and deserved the obedience of all, including churchmen, as long as he confessed the Orthodox faith. But he was bound by the ecclesiastical canons when acting in the ecclesiastical sphere. However, it was not clear, according to this Josephite theory, to what extent the tsar was also bound in the personal, moral sphere and could rightly be rebuked by the metropolitan for personal sins. St. Philip was notable for his combination, as it were, of the theories of St. Joseph with the practice of Saints Nilus and Maximus, recognising the supremacy of the tsar while rebuking him for his personal sins. For this boldness he received the crown of martyrdom…

 

     As a young man he had heard the words of the Saviour: “No man can serve two masters”. Deeply struck by them, he resolved to leave the world and become a monk.[236] Later, as metropolitan, at the height of the terror, he would put those words into practice, saying to the Tsar: “Sovereign, I cannot obey your command more than that of God.”[237] Again he said: “Ruling tsar, you have been vested by God with the highest rank, and for that reasons you should honour God above all. But the sceptre of earthly power was given to so that you should foster justice among men and rule over them lawfully. By nature you are like every man, as by power you are like God. It is fitting for you, as a mortal, not to become arrogant, and as the image of God, not to become angry, for only he can justly be called a ruler who has control over himself and does not work for his shameful passions, but conquers them with the aid of his mind. Was it ever heard that the pious emperors disturbed their own dominion? Not only among your ancestors, but also among those of other races, nothing of the sort has ever been heard.” [238]

 

     When the tsar angrily asked what business he had interfering in royal affairs, Philip replied: “By the grace of God, the election of the Holy Synod and your will, I am a pastor of the Church of Christ. You and I must care for the piety and peace of the Orthodox Christian kingdom.” And when the tsar ordered him to keep silence, Philip replied: “Silence is not fitting now; it would increase sin and destruction. If we carry out the will of men, what answer will we have on the day of Christ’s Coming? The Lord said: “Love one another. Greater love hath no man than that a man should lay down his life for his friends. If you abide in My love, you will be My disciples indeed.”

 

     On another occasion he said to the tsar: “The Tatars have a law and justice, but do not. Throughout the world, transgressors who ask for clemency find it with the authorities, but in Russia there is not even clemency for the innocent and the righteous… Fear the judgement of God, your Majesty. How many innocent people are suffering! We, sovereign, offer to God the bloodless sacrifice, while behind the altar the innocent blood of Christians is flowing! Robberies and murders are being carried out in the name of the Tsar…. What is our faith for? I do not sorrow for those who, in shedding their innocent blood, have been counted worthy of the lot of the saints; I suffer for your wretched soul: although you are honoured as the image of God, nevertheless, you are a man made of dust, and the Lord will require everything at your hands”.

 

     However, even if the tsar had agreed that his victims were martyrs, he would not have considered this a reason for not obeying him. As he wrote to Kurbsky: “If you are just and pious, why do you not permit yourself to accept suffering from me, your stubborn master, and so inherit the crown of life?…”[239]

 

     Betrayed by his fellow-hierarchs, Philip was about to resign the metropolitanate, and said to the tsar: “It is better to die as an innocent martyr than to tolerate horrors and lawlessnesses silently in the rank of metropolitan. I leave you my metropolitan’s staff and mantia. But you all, hierarchs and servers of the altar, feed the flock of Christ faithfully; prepare to give your reply and fear the Heavenly King more than the earthly…”

 

     The tsar refused to accept his resignation, and after being imprisoned and having escaped the appetite of a hungry bear who had been sent to devour him, on December 23, 1569 the holy metropolitan was suffocated to death by the tsar’s servant after his refusal to bless his expedition against Novgorod. Metropolitan Philip saved the honour of the Russian episcopate in Ivan’s reign as Metropolitan Arsenius of Rostov was to save it in the reign of Catherine the Great…

 

Was Ivan Orthodox?

 

     Michael Cherniavksy has pointed to the tension, and ultimate incompatibility, between two images of the kingship in the reign of Ivan the Terrible: that of the basileus and that of the khan – that is, of the Orthodox autocrat and of the pagan despot. “If the image of the basileus stood for the Orthodox and pious ruler, leading his Christian people towards salvation, then the image of the khan was perhaps preserved in the idea of the Russian ruler as the conqueror of Russia and of its people, responsible to no one. If the basileus signified the holy tsar, the ‘most gentle’ (tishaishii) tsar in spiritual union with his flock, then the khan, perhaps, stood for the absolutist secularised state, arbitrary through its separation from its subjects.”[240]

 

     If there was indeed something of eastern absolutism as well as purely Orthodox autocracy in Ivan’s rule, then this would explain, not only the cruelties of his own reign, but also why, only a few years after his death, Russia descended into civil war and the Time of Troubles. For eastern absolutism, unlike Orthodox autocracy, is a system that can command the fear and obedience, but not the love of the people, and is therefore unstable in essence. Hence the need to resist to it – but not out of considerations of democracy or the rights of man, but simply out of considerations of Christian love and justice. An Orthodox tsar has no authority higher than him in the secular sphere. And yet the Gospel is higher than everybody, and will judge everybody on the Day of Judgement; and in reminding Ivan of this both St. Philip and Kurbsky were doing both him and the State a true service…

 

     Ivan rejected this service to his own detriment. For at the very end of his life, he destroyed even his reputation as a defender of Orthodoxy by encroaching on Church lands and delving into astrology.[241] It is difficult to avoid the conclusion, therefore, that Ivan the Terrible was indeed terrible in his impiety, and must be numbered among the evil tyrants and persecutors of the Church. Indeed, Lebedev calls the latter part of his reign “not a struggle with rebellion, but the affirmation of his permission to do everything. So we are concerned here not with the affirmation of the Orthodox Autocracy of the Russian Tsars, but with a prefiguring of the authority of the Antichrist.[242]

 

     In view of contemporary efforts from the right wing of the Moscow Patriarchate to canonize Tsar Ivan, let us dwell a little longer on this aspect of his reign, borrowing at length from the work in this area of Bishop Dionysius (Alferov): “The reign of Ivan the Terrible is divided by historians, following his contemporaries, into two period. The first period (1547-1560) is evaluated positively by everyone. After his coronation and acceptance of the title of Tsar, and after his repentance for his aimless youth in subjecting his life to the rules of Orthodoxy piety, Ioann IV appears as an exemplary Christian Sovereign. He convened the first Zemskie Sobory in the 1550s, kept counsel with the best me of the Russian Land, united the nation’s forces, improved the interior administration, economy, justice system and army. Together with Metropolitan Macarius he also presided at Church Councils, which introduced order into Church life. Under the influence of his spiritual father, Protopriest Sylvester, he repented deeply for the sins of his youth, and lived in the fear of God and in the Church, building a pious family together with his wife Anastasia Romanova. The enlivening of piety and the consolidation of the people also brought external successes to the Russian state in this period. By the good will of God the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan were crushed, and the Crimean khanate was pacified for the time being. The whole of the Volga region from Kazan to the Caspian and a part of the Northern Caucasus went to Moscow. Under the blows of the Russian armies the Livonian Order in the Baltic was crushed. A positive estaimate of this period does not elicit disagreement among historians.

 

     “The second period begins after the expulsion of his spiritual father, Protopriest Sylvester and close friends of the Tsar, who were united into the ‘Chosen Assembly’ (the Adashevs, Prince Kurbsky and others). This period finally becomes well established by 1564, with the proclamation of the oprichnina. After the oprichnina’s great terror (1564-1572), the system of government created in this period, albeit in a ‘weakly flowing regime’, continued right to the death of the Terrible one in March, 1584. The negative consequences of this period completely blot out the attainments of the first period. All historians also agree on this. Let us note the main results of this period:

 

     “1. The liquidation of elementary justice and legality, mass repressions without trial or investigation of the suspects, and also of their relatives and house servants, of whole cities. The encouragement of denunciations created a whole system of mass terror and intimidation of people.

 

     “2. The destruction of national unity through an artificial division of the country into two parts (the zemschina and the oprichnina, then the system of ‘the Sovereign’s Court’) and the stirring up of enmity between them.

 

     “3. The destruction of the popular economy by means of the oprichnina’s depradations and the instilling of terror, the mass flight of people from Russia to Lithuania and to the borderlands. A great devastation of the central provinces of Russia, a sharp decline in the population (according to Skrynnikov’s date, from 8 to 5 million).

 

     “4. Massive repressions against the servants of the Church who spoke out against the oprichnina or those suspected of it, beginning with the killing of Metropolitan Philip and individual bishops (of Novgorod and Tver), and continuing with the executions of prominent church-servers (St. Cornelius of Pechersk), and ending with the massive slaughter of the clergy in certain cities (Novgorod, Tver, Torzhok, Volochek) and the expoliation of the churches.

 

     “5. As a consequence of the internal ravaging of the state – external defeats, both military and diplomatic: the complete loss of the conquests in Lithuania and the outlet to the Baltic se, the loss of possessions in the Caucasus, international isolation, incapacity to defend even Moscow from the incursions of the Crimean Tatars.

 

     “All historians agree that the Terrible one left Russia after his death in an extremely sorry state: an economically ruined and devastated country, with its population reduced by one-and-a-half times, frightened and demoralised. But this does not exhaust the woes caused to Russia by the Terrible one. Perhaps the most tragic consequences of his reign consisted in the fact that he to a great extent prepared the ground for the Time of Troubles, which exploded 17 years after his death and placed the Russian state on the edge of complete annihilation. This was expressed concretely in the following.

 

     “1. A dynastic crisis – the destruction by the Terrible one of his closest relatives, the representatives of the Moscow house of the Riuriks. First of all this concerned the assassination of his cousin, Prince Vladimir Andreevich Staritsky with his mother, wife and children, and also with almost all his servants and many people close to him (in 1569). This was not execution following an investigation and trial, but precisely the repression of innocent people (some were poisoned, others were suffocated with smoke), carried out only out of suspicion and arbitrariness. Then it is necessary to note the killing of his son Ivan, the heir to the throne….

 

     “Thus Ivan the Terrible undoubtedly hewed down the dynasty with his own hands, destroying his son, grandson and cousin with all his house, and thereby prepared a dynastic crisis, which made itself sharply felt during the Time of Troubles.

 

     “2. The oprichnina and the consequent politics of ‘the Sovereign’s Court’ greatly reduced the aristocracy and the service class. Under the axe of repressions there fell the best people morally speaking, the honourable, principled and independent in their judgements and behaviour, who were distinguished by their capabilities, and for that reason were seen as being potentially dangerous. Instead of them intriguers, careerists and informants were promoted, unprincipled and dishonourable time-servers. It was the Terrible one who nourished such people in his nearest entourage, people like Boris Godunov, Basil Shuisky, Bogdan Belsky, Ivan Mstislavsky and other leaders in the Time of Troubles, who were sufficiently clever to indulge in behind-the-scenes intrigues and ‘under the carpet struggle”, but who absolutely did not want to serve God and the fatherland, and for that reason were incapable of uniting the national forces and earning the trust of the people.

 

      “The moral rottenness of the boyars, their class and personal desires and their unscrupulousness are counted by historians as among the main causes of the Troubles. But the Moscow boyars had not always been like that. On the contrary, the Moscow boyars nourished by Kalita worked together with him to gather the Russian lands, perished in the ranks of the army of Demetrius Donskoj on Kulikovo polje, saved Basil the Dark in the troubles caused by Shemyaka, went on the expeditions of Ivan III and Basil III. It was the Terrible one who carried out a general purge in the ranks of the aristocracy, and the results of this purge could not fail to be felt in the Troubles.

 

     “3. The Terrible one’s repressions against honourable servers of the Church, especially against Metropolitan Philip, weakened the Russian Church, drowned in its representatives the voice of truth and a moral evaluation of what was happening. After the holy hierarch Philip, none of the Moscow metropolitans dared to intercede for the persecuted. ‘Sucking up’ to unrighteousness on the part of the hierarchs of course lowered their authority in the eyes of the people, this gave the pretenders the opportunity to introduce their undermining propaganda more successfully in the people.

 

     “We should note here that the defenders of the Terrible one deny his involvement in the killing of Metropolitan Philip in a rather naïve way: no written order, they say, has been discovered. Of course, the first hierarch of the Russian Church, who was beloved by the people for his righteous life, was not the kind of person whom even the Terrible tsar would dare to execute just like that on the square. But many of the Terrible one’s victims were destroyed by him by means of secret assassinations (as, for example, the family of the same Vladimir Andreyevich). It is reliably known that the holy hierarch Philip reproved the Terrible one for his cruelties not only in private, but also, finally, in public, and that the latter began to look for false witnesses against him. By means of bribes, threats and deceit he succeeded in involving Abbot Paisius of Solovki (a disciple of St. Philip) and some of the hierarchs in this. Materials have been preserved relating to this ‘Council of 1568, the most shameful in the history of the Russian Church’ (in the expression of Professor Kartashev), which condemned its own chief hierarch. The majority of the bishops did not decide to support the slanderers, but they also feared to defend the holy hierarch – and simply kept silent. During the Liturgy the oprichniki on the tsar’s orders seized the holy confessor, tore off his vestments, beat him up and took him away to prison. At the same time almost all the numerous relatives of St. Philip, the Kolychev boyars, were killed. They cast the amputated head of the hierarch’s favourite nephew into his cell. A year later, the legendary Maliuta came to the imprisoned Philip in the Otroch monastery, and the holy hierarch just died suddenly in his arm – the contemporary lovers of the oprichnina force us to believe in this fairy-tale!

 

     “Detailed material on this subject were collected in the book of Professor Fedotov, The Holy Hierarch Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow. Those descendants who lived nearest to those times also well remembered who was the main perpetrator of the death of St. Philip. For that reason Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich transferred the relics of the hieromartyr to Moscow, and wrote a penitent letter to him as if he were alive, asking forgiveness for the sin of his predecessor Ivan the Terrible (in imitation of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, who repented for the sin of his mother, the Empress Eudoxia, against St. John Chrysostom). Therefore the apologists of the Terrible one, in denying his guilt against St. Philip, simply reject the tradition of the whole Russian Church  as established in documents.

 

     “Besides St. Philip, on the orders of the Terrible during the devastation of Novgorod, one of those who envied and slandered St. Philip, Archbishop Pimen was killed. And if contemporary ‘oprichniki’ consider it to the credit of the Terrible one that he dealt with the false witnesses in the affair of the holy hierarch, then let them remember that a timely ‘clean-up’ of witnesses and agents who have done their work is a common phenomenon in the course of large-scale repressions. Only it not a work of God. The unknown author of the Tale of the Devastation of Novgorod tells us that on the orders of the Terrible one up to three hundred abbots, hieromonks, priests and deacons in Novgorod itself and its environs, monasteries and villages were killed. Several tens of Church servers were killed in each of the cities of Tver, Torzhok, Volokolamsk and other places. One can argue about the accuracy of the numbers of victims cited, but one cannot doubt that the clergy slaughtered during the reign of the Terrible one numbered at least in the tens, but more likely in the hundreds. There is every reason to speak about a persecution of the clergy and the Church on the part of the Terrible one. The holy hierarch Philip and St. Cornelisu of Pskov-Pechersk are only the leaders of a whole host of hieromartyrs, passion-bearers and confessors of that time. It is those whose glorification it is worth thinking about!

 

     “4. Finally, the Terrible one’s epoch shook the moral supports of the simple people, and undermined its healthy consciousness of right. Open theft and reprisals without trial or investigation, carried out in the name of the Sovereign on any one who was suspect, gave a very bad example, unleashing the base passions of envy, revenge and baseness. Participation in denunciations and cooperation in false witnesses involved very many in the sins of the oprichnina. Constant refined tortures and public executions taught people cruelty and inured them to compassion and mercy. Everyday animal fear for one’s life, a striving to survive at any cost, albeit at the cost of righteousness and conscience, at the cost of the good of one’s neighbours, turned those who survived into pitiful slaves, ready for any baseness. The enmity stirred up between the zemschina and the oprichnina, between ‘the Sovereign’s people’ and ‘the rebels’, undermined the feeling of popular unity among Russian people, sowing resentment and mistrust. The incitement of hatred for the boyars, who were identified with traitors, kindled class war. Let us add to this that the reign of the Terrible one, having laid waste to the country, tore many people away from their roots, deprived them of their house and land and turned them into thieves, into what Marxist language would call ‘declassified elements’. Robbed and embittered against the whole world, they were turned aside into robber bands and filled up the Cossack gangs on the border-lands of Russia. These were ready-made reserves for the armies of any pretenders and rebels.

 

     “And so, if we compare all this with the Leninist teaching on the preparation of revolution, we see a striking resemblance. The Terrible one did truly do everything so that ‘the uppers could not, and lowers would not’ live in a human way. The ground for civil war and the great Trouble had therefore been completely prepared…”[243]

 

The Moscow Patriarchate

 

     “After the horrors of the reign of Ivan IV,” writes Protopriest Lev Lebedev, “a complete contrast is represented by the soft, kind rule of his son, Theodore Ivanovich. In Russia there suddenly came as it were complete silence… However, the silence of the reign of Theodore Ivanovich was external and deceptive; it could more accurately be called merely a lull before a new storm. For that which had taken place during the Oprichnina could not simply disappear: it was bound to have the most terrible consequences.”[244]

 

     But this lull contained some very important events. One was the crowning of Theodore according to the full Byzantine rite, followed by his communion in both kinds in the altar. This established the Russian Tsars as the Emperors of the Third Rome, which status, as we shall see, was confirmed publicly by the Ecumenical Patriarch himself.

 

     No less important was the raising of the metropolitanate of Moscow raised to patriarchal status with the blessing of the Eastern.

 

     There was good reason for such a step. As A.P. Dobroklonsky writes, “the Moscow metropolitan see stood very tall. Its riches and the riches of the Moscow State stimulated the Eastern Patriarchs – not excluding the Patriarch of Constantinople himself – to appeal to it for alms. The boundaries of the Moscow metropolitanate were broader than the restricted boundaries of any of the Eastern Patriarchates (if we exclude from the Constantinopolitan the Russian metropolitan see, which was part of it); the court of the Moscow metropolitan was just as great as that of the sovereign. The Moscow metropolitan was freer in the manifestation of his ecclesiastical rights than the Patriarchs of the East, who were restricted at every step. Under the protection of the Orthodox sovereigns the metropolitan see in Moscow stood more firmly and securely than the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, which had become a plaything in the hands of the sultan or vizier. The power of the Moscow metropolitan was in reality not a  whit less than that of the patriarchate: he ruled the bishops, called himself their ‘father, pastor, comforter and head, under the power and in the will of whom they are the Vladykas of the whole Russian land’. Already in the 15th century, with the agreement of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch, he had been elected in Rus’ without the knowledge or blessing of the Patriarch; the Russian metropolia had already ceased hierarchical relations with the patriarchal see. If there remained any dependence of the Moscow metropolitan on the patriarch, it was only nominal, since the Russian metropolia was still counted as belonging to the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate…”[245]

 

     Not only was the Moscow metropolia a de facto patriarchate already: its exaltation would simultaneously raise the status of the Russian Autocracy, whose prosperity was vital for the survival, not only of Russian Orthodoxy, but of Greek, Balkan and Georgian Orthodoxy, too. The exceptional importance of the Autocracy, not only for Russia but for the whole Orthodox world, and the necessity of preserving its power and authority by all means, had just been highlighted by the terrible plight of the Orthodox Kingdom of Georgia. For, as Ioseliani writes, “oppressed by internal discord, and by the dissensions of ambitious and unsettled princes, Georgia was again exposed to a severe persecution on the part of the Persians. These enemies of the Christian name ceased not to lay their sacrilegious hands on the riches of Iberia. The messengers of King Alexander to Moscow lamented the fearful misfortunes of their country, and represented how the great Shah-Abbas, having endeavoured to leave to himself the protection of the kingdom of Georgia, made in reality the Georgians enemies of the Russian Tzar.

 

     “In the year 1587 King Alexander II, having declared himself a vassal of Russia, sent to Moscow the priests Joachim, Cyril, and others; and, pressed on all sides as he was by the Persians and the Turks, entreated with tears the Russian Tzar Theodore Iohannovitch to take Iberia under his protection, and thus to rescue her from the grasp of infidels. ‘The present disastrous times,’ wrote he, ‘for the Christian faith were foreseen by many men inspired by God. We, brethren of the same faith with the Russians, groan under the hand of wicked men. Thou, crowned head of the Orthodox faith, canst alone save both our lives and our souls. I bow to thee with my face to the earth, with all my people, and we shall be thine forever.’ The Tzar Theodore Iohannovitch having taken Iberia under his protection, busied himself earnestly in rendering her assistance and in works of faith. He sent into Georgia teachers in holy orders for the regulation of Church ceremonies, and painters to decorate the temples with images of saints; and Job, patriarch of all the Russias, addressed to the Georgian king a letter touching the faith. King Alexander humbly replied that the favourable answer of the Tzar had fallen upon him from Heaven, and brought him out of darkness into light; that the clergy of the Russian Church were angels for the clergy of Iberia, buried in ignorance. The Prince Zvenigorod, ambassador to Georgia, promised in the name of Russia the freedom of all Georgia, and the restoration of all her churches and monasteries.”[246]

 

     Because of her internal and external troubles, Russia was not able to offer significant military aid to Georgia for some time. And so “in 1617,” writes Dobroklonsky, “Georgia was again subjected to destruction from the Persians: the churches were devastated, the land was ravaged. Therefore in 1619 Teimuraz, king of Kakhetia, Imeretia and Kartalinia, accepted Russian citizenship, and Persia was restrained from war by peaceful negotiations. But the peace was not stable. In 1634 the Persian Shah placed the Crown Prince Rostom on the throne of Kartalinia. He accepted Islam, and began to drive the Orthodox out of Kartalinia. The renewal of raids on Georgia had a disturbing effect on ecclesiastical affairs there, so that in 1637 an archimandrite, two priests and two icon-painters with a craftsman and materials for the construction of churches were sent from Moscow ‘to review and correct the peasants’ faith’. And in 1650 Prince Alexander of Imeretia and in 1658 Teimuraz of Kakhetia renewed their oath of allegiance to the Russian Tsar. Nevertheless, even after this the woes continued. Many Georgians, restricted by the Muslims in their homeland, fled to Russia and there found refuge. But Georgia did not receive any real help from Russia throughout this period.

 

     “As regard the Orthodox Greeks who were suffering under the Turkish yoke, Russia gave them generous material assistance, and sometimes tried to ease the yoke of the Turkish government that was weighing on them…”[247]

 

     All this demonstrated that the Russian tsar and patriarch were now in essentially the same relationship with the Eastern Orthodox Christians as the Constantinopolitan emperors and patriarchs had been centuries before, and that Russia had taken the place of Constantinople in God’s Providential Plan for His Church, a fact which the Eastern Patriarchs were now ready to accept.

 

     In 1586 talks began with Patriarch Joachim of Antioch, who had arrived in Moscow. He promised to discuss the question of the status of the Russian Church with his fellow patriarchs. Then, in 1588, the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II (Trallas) came to Moscow on an alms-raising trip.[248] Jeremiah was one of the outstanding hierarchs of this period of the Church's history, one of the few who could justly be said to have been ecumenical in his vision and his activities. In 1583, in a Pan-Orthodox Council which included two other patriarchs, he had anathematised the new calendar which Pope Gregory XIII had introduced in the West and which led to intensified persecution of the Russian Orthodox in Poland-Lithuania.[249] Later, he politely but firmly rejected the confession of the Lutheran Church in a dialogue with Augsburg.[250] And shortly after his trip to Moscow he made an important tour of the beleagured Orthodox in the Western Russian lands, ordaining bishops and blessing the lay brotherhoods.

 

     It was the desperate situation of the Orthodox in Western Russia that made the exaltation of the Muscovite see still more timely. In 1596 the Orthodox hierarchs in the region had signed the unia of Brest-Litovsk with the Roman Catholics (see below). It was now obvious that Divine Providence had singled out the Church and State in Muscovy, rather than that in Poland-Lithuania, as the centre and stronghold of Russian Orthodoxy as a whole, and this needed to be emphasised in the eyes of all the Orthodox.

 

     Patriarch Jeremiah understood this. And in agreeing to the tsar’s request for a patriarchate of Moscow, he showed that he understood that in having a Patriarch at his side, the status of the Tsar, too, would be exalted: “In truth, pious tsar, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and this thought is from God, and will be realised by you. For the Old Rome fell to the Apollinarian heresy, and the Second Rome, Constantinople, is in the possession of the grandsons of the Hagarenes, the godless Turks: but your great Russian kingdom, the Third Rome, has exceeded all in piety. And all the pious kingdoms have been gathered into your kingdom, and you alone under the heavens are named the Christian tsar throughout the inhabited earth for all Christians.”[251]

 

     The Patriarch’s language here (if it is truly his) is very reminiscent of that of the famous prophecy of Elder Philotheus of Pskov in 1511. In particular, the Patriarch follows the elder in ascribing the fall of Old Rome to “the Apollinarian heresy”. Now the Apollinarian heresy rarely, if ever, figures in lists of the western heresies. And yet the patriarch here indicates that it is the heresy as a result of which the First Rome fell. Some have understood it to mean the Latin practice of using unleavened bread in the Eucharist.

 

     However, to understand why the patriarch should have spoken of it as the heresy of the West, we need to look for some matching in form, if not in substance, between the Apollinarian and papist heresies. Smirnov's definition of the heresy gives us a clue: "accepting the tripartite composition of human nature - spirit, irrational soul, and body - [Apollinarius] affirmed that in Christ only the body and the soul were human, but His mind was Divine."[252] In other words, Christ did not have a human mind like ours, but this was replaced, according to the Apollinarian schema, by the Divine Logos.

 

     A parallel with Papism immediately suggests itself: just as the Divine Logos replaces the human mind in the heretical Apollinarian Christology, so a quasi-Divine, infallible Pope replaces the fully human, and therefore at all times fallible episcopate in the heretical papist ecclesiology.

 

     The root heresy of the West therefore consists in the unlawful exaltation of the mind of the Pope over the other minds of the Church, both clerical and lay, and its quasi-deification to a level equal to that of Christ Himself. From this root heresy proceed all the heresies of the West. Thus the Filioque with its implicit demotion of the Holy Spirit to a level below that of the Father and the Son becomes necessary insofar as the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth Who constantly leads the Church into all truth has now become unnecessary - the Divine Mind of the Pope is quite capable of fulfilling His function. Similarly, the epiclesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the Holy Gifts, is also unnecessary - if Christ, the Great High Priest, sanctified the Holy Gifts by His word alone, then His Divine Vicar on earth is surely able to do the same without invoking any other Divinity, especially a merely subordinate one such as the Holy Spirit.

 

     And so on January 26, 1589 Patriarch Jeremiah raised Metropolitan Job to the rank of Patriarch of Moscow in the Dormition cathedral in the Kremlin. The exaltation of the Russian Church and State to patriarchal and “Third Rome” status respectively shows that, not only in her own eyes, but in the eyes of the whole Orthodox world, Russia was now the chief bastion of the Truth of Christ against the heresies of the West. Russia had been born as a Christian state just as the West was falling away from grace into papism in the eleventh century. Now, in the sixteenth century, as Western papism received a bastard child in the Protestant Reformation, and a second wind in the Counter-Reformation, Russia was ready to take up leadership of the struggle against both heresies as a fully mature Orthodox nation.

 

     However, at the Pan-Orthodox Council convened by Jeremiah on his return to Constantinople, the Eastern Patriarchs, while confirming the establishment of the Moscow Patriarchate, made it only the fifth in seniority, after the four Greek patriarchates. This was to prove a prudent reservation, for in the century that followed, the Poles briefly conquered Moscow during the “Time of Troubles”, necessitating the continued supervision of the Western and Southern Russian Orthodox by Constantinople. And by the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Russian patriarchate was abolished by Peter the Great and replaced – with the blessing of the Eastern Patriarchs – by a “Holy Governing Synod”. 

 

     Nevertheless, the elevation of the head of the Russian Church to the rank of patriarch was to prove beneficial now, in the early seventeenth century, when the Autocracy in Russia had been shaken to its foundations and the patriarchs had taken the place of the tsars as the leaders of the Russian nation. We witness a similar phenomenon in 1917, when the restoration of the Russian patriarchate to some degree compensated for the fall of the tsardom. In both cases, the patriarchate both filled the gap left by the fall of the state (up to a point), and kept alive the ideals of true Orthodox statehood, waiting for the time when it could restore political power into the hands of the anointed tsars.

 

Poles, Ñossacks and Jews

 

     However, at this point, just as the Russian State was beginning to recover its former strength, it came into contact again with the Jews…

 

     Persecutions in Western Europe had gradually pushed the Ashkenazi Jews further and further east, until they arrived in Poland. Norman Cantor writes: “The Polish king and nobility held vast lands and ruled millions of newly enserfed [Russian] peasants and could make varied use of the Jews. Hence the Jews were welcomed into Poland in the sixteenth century from Germany and Western Europe. Even Jews exiled from Spain in 1492 and those tired of the ghettos of northern Italy under the oppressive eye of the papacy found their way to Poland. Its green, fruitful, and underpopulated land seemed wonderful to the Jews.

 

     “By the end of the sixteenth century Poland was being hailed as the new golden land of the Jews…”[253]

 

     Paul Johnson writes: “The Russian barrier to further eastern penetration led to intensive Jewish settlement in Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine… By 1575, while the total population [of Poland] had risen to seven million, the number of Jews had jumped to 150,000, and thereafter the rise was still more rapid. In 1503 the Polish monarchy appointed Rabbi Jacob Polak ‘Rabbi of Poland’, and the emergence of a chief rabbinate, backed by the crown, allowed the development of a form of self-government which the Jews had not known since the end of the exilarchate. From 1551 the chief rabbi was elected by the Jews themselves. This was, to be sure, oligarchic rather than democratic rule. The rabbinate had wide powers over law and finances, appointing judges and a great variety of other officials… The royal purpose in devolving power on the Jews was, of course, self-interested. There was a great deal of Polish hostility to the Jews. In Cracow, for instance, where the local merchant class was strong, Jews were usually kept out. The kings found out they could make money out of the Jews by selling to certain cities and towns, such as Warsaw, the privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis. But they could make even more by allowing Jewish communities to grow up, and milking them. The rabbinate and local Jewish councils were primarily tax-raising agencies. Only 30 per cent of what they raised went on welfare and official salaries; all the rest was handed over to the crown in return for protection.

 

     “The association of the rabbinate with communal finance and so with the business affairs of those who had to provide it led the eastern or Ashkenazi Jews to go even further than the early-sixteenth-century Italians in giving halakhic approval to new methods of credit-finance. Polish Jews operating near the frontiers of civilization [!] had links with Jewish family firms in the Netherlands and Germany. A new kind of credit instrument, the mamram, emerged and got rabbinical approval. In 1607 Jewish communities in Poland and Lithuania were also authorized to use heter iskah, an inter-Jewish borrowing system which allowed one Jew to finance another in return for a percentage. This rationalization of the law eventually led even conservative authorities, like the famous Rabbi Judah Loew, the Maharal of Prague, to sanction lending at interest.

 

     “With easy access to credit, Jewish pioneer settlers played a leading part in developing eastern Poland, the interior of Lithuania, and the Ukraine, especially from the 1560s onwards. The population of Western Europe was expanding fast. It needed to import growing quantities of grain. Ambitious Polish landowners, anxious to meet the need, went into partnership with Jewish entrepreneurs to create new wheat-growing areas to supply the market, take the grain down-river to the Baltic ports, and then ship it west. The Polish magnates – Radziwills, Sovieskis, Zamojkis, Ostrogskis, Lubomirskis – owned or conquered the land. The ports were run by German Lutherans. The Dutch Calvinists owned most of the ships. But the Jews did the rest. They not only managed the estates but in some cases held the deeds as pledges in return for working capital. Sometimes they leased the estates themselves. They ran the tolls. They built and ran mills and distilleries. They owned the river boats, taking out the wheat and bringing back in return wine, cloth and luxury goods, which they sold in their shops. They were in soap, glazing, tanning and furs. They created entire villages and townships (shtetls), where they lived in the centre, while peasants (Catholics in Poland and Lithuania, Orthodox in the Ukraine) occupied the suburbs.

 

     “Before 1569 [recte: 1596] when the Union of Brest-Litovsk made the Polish settlement of the Ukraine possible, there were only twenty-four Jewish settlements there with 4,000 inhabitants; by 1648 there were 115, with a numbered population of 51,325, the total being much greater. Most of these places were owned by Polish nobles, absentee-landlords, the Jews acting as middlemen and intermediaries with the peasants – a role fraught with future danger. Often Jews were effectively the magnates too. At the end of the sixteenth century Israel of Zloczew, for instance, leased an entire region of hundreds of square miles from a consortium of nobles to whom he paid the enormous sum of 4,500 zlotys. He sub-let tolls, taverns and mills to his poorer relatives. Jews from all over Europe arrived to take part in this colonizing process. In many settlements they constituted the majority of the inhabitants, so that for the first time outside Palestine they dominated the local culture. But there were important at every level of society and administration. They farmed the taxes and the customs. They advised government. And every Polish magnate had a Jewish counsellor in his castle, keeping the books, writing letters, running the economic show…

 

     “In 1648-49, the Jews of south-eastern Poland and the Ukraine were struck by catastrophe. This episode was of great importance in Jewish history for several reasons… The Thirty Years War had put growing pressure on the food-exporting resources of Poland. It was because of their Polish networks that Jewish contractors to the various armies had been so successful in supplying them. But the chief beneficiaries had been the Polish landlords; and the chief losers had been the Polish and Ukrainian peasants, who had seen an ever-increasing proportion of the crops they raised marketed and sold at huge profit to the ravenous armies. Under the Arenda system, whereby the Polish nobility leased not only land but all fixed assets such as mills, breweries, distilleries, inns and tolls to Jews, in return for fixed payments, the Jews had flourished and their population had grown rapidly. But the system was inherently unstable and unjust. The landlords, absentee and often spendthrift, put continual pressure on the Jews by raising the price each time a lease was renewed; the Jews in turn put pressure on the peasants….

 

     “The Ukrainian peasants finally rose in the late spring of 1648, led by a petty aristocrat called Bogdan Chmielnicki, with the help of Dnieper Cossack and Tartars from the Crimea. His rising was fundamentally aimed at Polish rule and the Catholic church, and many Polish nobles and clergy were among the victims. But the principal animus was directed against Jews, with whom peasants had the most contact, and when it came to the point the Poles always abandoned their Jewish allies to save themselves. Thousands of Jews from villages and shtetls scrambled for safety to the big fortified towns, which turned into death-traps for them. At Tulchin the Polish troops handed over the Jews to the Cossacks in exchange for their own lives[254]; at Tarnopol, the garrison refused to let the Jews in at all. At Bar, the fortress fell and all the Jews were massacred. There was another fierce slaughter at Narol. At Nemirov, the Cossacks got into the fortress by dressing as Poles, ‘and they killed about 6,000 souls in the town’, according to the Jewish chronicle; ‘they drowned several hundreds in the water and by all kinds of cruel torments’. In the synagogue they used the ritual knives to kill Jews, then burned the building down, tore up the sacred books, and trampled them underfoot, and used the leather covers for sandals.”[255]

 

     Cantor, though a Jew himself, writes that “the Ukrainians had a right to resent the Jews, if not to kill them. The Jews were the immediate instrument of the Ukrainians’ subjection and degradation. The Halakic rabbis never considered the Jewish role in oppression of the Ukrainian peasants in relation to the Hebrew prophets’ ideas of social justice. Isaiah and Amos were dead texts from the past in rabbinical mentality.

 

     “Or perhaps the Jews were so moved by racist contempt for the Ukrainian and Polish peasantry as to regard them as subhuman and unworthy of consideration under biblical categories of justice and humanity…”[256]

 

Orthodoxy and the Unia

 

     Still more dangerous enemies than the Jews for the beleagured Orthodox population of the western regions were the Jesuits. “At the end of the 16th centuy,” writes Protopriest Peter Smirnov, “the so-called Lithuanian unia took place, or the union of the Orthodox Christians living in the south-western dioceses in separation from the Moscow Patriarchate, with the Roman Catholic Church.

 

     “The reasons for this event, which was so sad for the Orthodox Church and so wretched for the whole of the south-western region were: the lack of stability in the position and administration of the separated dioceses; the intrigues on the part of the Latins and in particular the Jesuits; the betrayal of Orthodoxy by certain bishops who were at that time adminstering the south-western part of the Russian Church.

 

      “With the separation of the south-western dioceses under the authority of a special metropolitan, the question arose: to whom were they to be hierarchically subject? Against the will of the initiators of the separation, the south-western metropolia was subjected to the power of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the patriarchs, in view of the dangers presented by the Latins, intensified their supervision over the separated dioceses.”[257]

 

     Before continuing with the story in Russia, let us briefly examine the situation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, under which the great majority of non-Russian Orthodox Christians lived, and which now undertook the leadership in the battle against the unia.

 

     There had been one immediate and major gain from the fall of the Empire in 1453: the conqueror of Constantinople gave the patriarchate into the hands of St. Gennadius Scholarius, a disciple of St. Mark of Ephesus and a firm opponent of the unia. However, in almost every other respect the Christians of the Greek lands and the Balkans suffered greatly from their new rulers. Since the Constantinopolitan patriarch was made both civic and religious leader of all the empire's Orthodox, his throne became the object of political intrigues involving not only Turkish officials, but also Greek merchants, Georgian kings, Romanian princes and, increasingly, Western ambassadors. And since each new patriarch had to pay a large sum, as well as an annual tribute, to the Sublime Porte, this meant that, with rare exceptions, the candidate with the biggest purse won. This in turn led to frequent depositions, even murders, of patriarchs, and the extortion of ever-increasing sums from the already impoverished Christians.[258]

 

     In the towns and villages, conditions also deteriorated. Gradually, more and more churches were converted into mosques; bribes and intrigues were often necessary to keep the few remaining churches in Christian hands, and these usually had to have drab exteriors with no visible domes or crosses. On the whole, Christians were allowed to practise their faith; but all influential positions were restricted to Muslims, and conversion from Islam to Christianity was punishable by death. Many of the martyrs of this period were Orthodox Christians who had, wittingly or unwittingly, become Muslims in their youth, and were then killed for reconverting to the faith of their fathers.[259] The general level of education among the Christians plummeted, and even the most basic books often had to be imported from semi-independent areas such as the Danubian principalities or from Uniate presses in Venice.

 

     It was only to be expected that the West would attempt to benefit from the weakened condition of the Orthodox. The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 with the specific aim of buttressing the Counter-Reformation papacy, and was soon mounting a formidable war, not only against Protestantism, but also against Orthodoxy. The Jesuits' methods ranged from crude force, which they used with the connivance of the Polish landlords in the West Russian lands, to the subtler weapon of education, which was particularly effective among the sons of Greek families who went to study in the College of Saint Athanasius in Rome or the Jesuit schools of Constantinople.

 

     Soon this pressure was producing results: in addition to the unia of Brest-Litovsk, at which five Russian bishops joined Rome, several Antiochian metropolitans apostasized in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nor did the Protestant reformers fail to make gains, especially in Romania.[260]

 

     Amidst all this turmoil, and with the bishops so often wavering in faith or bound by political pressures, it was often left to the lower clergy or the laypeople to take up the banner of Orthodoxy. Thus the unia was fought by hieromonks, such as St. Job of Pochaev, lay theologians such as the Chiot Eustratios Argenti[261], aristocratic landowners such as Prince Constantine Constantinovich Ostrozhsky, and lay brotherhoods such as those which preserved Orthodoxy in uniate-dominated towns such as Lvov and Vilnius for centuries.[262] Many monks wandered around the Orthodox lands strengthening the Christians in the faith of their fathers and receiving martyrdom as their reward, such as the exarch of the Constantinopolitan patriarch Nicephorus, who was killed by the Poles, and St. Athanasius of Brest, who was tortured to death by the Jesuits, and St. Cosmas of Aitolia, who was killed by the Turks in Albania.[263]

 

     The Turks, paradoxically, provided some protection for Orthodox Christians from the depradations of western missionaries in the Balkan lands. And the Muscovite tsars, of course, provided even more in their territories. But the Russian lands from Kiev westwards were largely deprived of protection until a part of the Ukraine came under the dominion of Moscow in 1654 as a result of the victories of Bogdan Chmielnicki and his Cossack armies.

    

     “In such a situation,” continues Smirnov, “the Jesuits appeared in the south-western dioceses and with their usual skill and persistence used all the favourable circumstances to further their ends, that is, to spread the power of the Roman pope. They took into their hands control of the schools, and instilled in the children of the Russian boyars a disgust for the Orthodox clergy and the Russian faith, which they called ‘kholop’ (that is, the faith of the simple people). The fruits of this education were not slow to manifest themselves. The majority of the Russian boyars and princes went over to Latinism. To counter the influence of the Jesuits in many cities brotherhoods were founded. These received important rights from the Eastern Patriarchs. Thus, for example, the Lvov brotherhood had the right to rebuke the bishops themselves for incorrect thinking, and even expel them from the Church. New difficulties appeared, which were skillfully exploited by the Jesuits. They armed the bishops against the brotherhoods and against the patriarchs (the slaves of the Sultans), pointed out the excellent situation of the Catholic bishops, many of whom had seats in the senate, and honours and wealth and power. The Polish government helped the Jesuits in every way, and at their direction offered episcopal sees to such people as might later turn out to be their obedient instruments. Such in particular were Cyril Terletsky, Bishop of Lutsk, and Hypatius Potsey, Bishop of Vladimir-in-Volhynia....

 

     “The immediate excuse for the unia was provided by the following circumstance. Patriarch Jeremiah of Constantinople, during his journey through the south of Russia to Moscow to establish the patriarch, defrocked the Kieven Metropolitan Gnesiphorus for bigamy, and appointed in his place Michael Ragoza, and commanded him to convene a council, by his return, to discuss another bigamist who had been accused of many crimes, Cyril Terletsky. Ìichael Ragoza was a kind person, but weak in character, he did not convene a council inflicted unnecessary delays and expenses on the patriarch. The Patriarch, summoned out of Russia by his own affairs, sent letters of attorney to Ragoza and Bishop Meletius of Vladimir (in Volhynia) for the trial of Teretsky. Both these letters were seized by Cyril, and the affair continued to be dragged out. Meanwhile, Meletius died, and Cyril Terletsky succeeded in presenting the Vladimir see to his friend, Hypatius Potsey. Fearing the appointment of a new trial on himself from the patriarch, Cyril hastened to act in favour of the unia, and made an ally for himself in Hypatius, who was indebted to him.

 

     “In 1593 they openly suggested the unia to the other south-western bishops in order to liberate themselves from the power of the patriarch and the interference of laymen in the affairs of the ecclesiastical administration. In December, 1595 they were already in Rome, kissed the slipper of Pope Clement VIII, recognised the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son, the supreme authority of the Roman first-priest, the teaching on indulgences and purgatory. The Pope received them with joy, appointed a great festivity in honour of the union that had been achieved, and ordered a coin to be minted. On this coin they portrayed the Pope and a Russian falling at his feet, with the words: ‘In memory of the reception of the Russians’.

 

     “The whole affair was carried through, as was the custom of the Jesuits, with various forgeries and deceptions. Thus, for example, they took the signatures of the two bishops on white blanks, supposedly in case there would be unforeseen petitions before the king on behalf of the Orthodox, and meanwhile on these blanks they wrote a petition for the unia. Potsej and Terletsky made such concessions to the Pope in Rome as they had not been authorised to make even by the bishops who thought like them. Terletsky and Potsej had hardly returned from Rome before these forgeries were exposed, which elicited strong indignation against them on the part of some bishops (Gideon of Lvov and Michael of Peremysl) the Orthodox princes (Prince Ostrozhsky) and others.

 

     “At the end of 1596 there was council in Brest in order to come to a decision about the unia, at which, besides the south-western bishops, there were two patriarchal exarchs, Nicephorus from the Constantinopolitan Patriarch and Cyril Lukaris from the Alexandrian. From the very beginning of the council the Orthodox separated themselves from the uniate party and opened special sessions. At the head of the Orthodox stood the exarchs, six bishops and Prince Ostrozhsky. Four bishops were firmly behind the unia, but they were supported by the king. The metropolitan behaved indecisively and did not know where to go until the Jesuits drew over to their side and against Orthodoxy. The supporters of the unia triumphantly read out the Pope’s bull and the act of union. But the Orthodox, from their side, signed a decree: not to obey the metropolitan and the apostate bishops and consider them defrocked; and not to undertake anything in relation to the faith without the consent of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

 

     “From this time there began persecutions against the Orthodox. The uniate bishops removed the Orthodox priests and put uniates in their place. The Orthodox brotherhoods were declared to be mutinous assemblies, and those faithful to Orthodoxy were deprived of posts and oppressed in trade and crafts. The peasants were subjected to all kinds of indignities by their Catholic landlords. The [Orthodox] churches were forcibly turned into uniate ones or were leased out to Jews. The leaseholder had the keys to the church and extracted taxes for every service and need. Ìany of the Orthodos fled from these restrictions to the Cossacks in the steppes, who rose up in defence of the Orthodox faith under the leadership of Nalivaiki. But the Poles overcame them and Nalivaiki was burned to death in a brazen bull. Òhen a fresh rebellion broke out under Taras. But, happily for the Orthodox, their wrathful persecutor Sigismund III died. His successor, Vladislav IV, gave the Orthodox Church privileges, with the help of which she strengthened herself for the coming struggle with the uniates and Catholics...

 

     However, although Vladislav was well-disposed towards the Orthodox, the Poles did not obey him and continued to oppress them. The Cossacks several times took up arms, and when they fell into captivity to the Poles, the latter subjected them to terrible tortures. Some were stretched on the wheel, others had their arms and legs broken, others were pierced with spikes and placed on the rack. Children were burned on iron grills before the eyes of their fathers and mothers.”[264]

 

     Platonov writes: “All the persecutions against the Orthodox in the West Russian lands were carried out by the Jews and the Catholics together. Having given the Russian churches into the hands of the Jews who were close to them in spirit, the Polish aristocracy laughingly watched as the defilement of Christian holy things was carried out by the Jews. The Catholic priests and uniates even incited the Jews to do this, calculating in this way to turn the Russians away from Orthodoxy.

 

     “As Archbishop Philaret recounts: ‘Those churches whose parishioners could by converted to the unia by no kind of violence were leased to the Jews: the keys of the churches and bell-towers passed into their hands. If it was necessary to carry out a Church need, then one had to go and trade with the Jew, for whom gold was an idol and the faith of Christ the object of spiteful mockery and profanation. One had to pay up to five talers for each liturgy, and the same for baptism and burial. The uniate received paschal bread wherever and however he wanted it, while the Orthodox could not bake it himself or buy it in any other way than from a Jew at Jewish rates. The Jews would make a mark with coal on the prosphoras bought for commemorating the living or the dead. Only then could it be accepted for the altar.’”[265]

 

     Especially notorious as a persecutor of the Orthodox was the uniate Bishop Joasaph Kuntsevich of Polotsk.

 

     Lev Sapega, the head of the Great Principality of Lithuania, wrote to Kuntsevich on the Polish king’s behalf: “I admit, that I, too, was concerned about the cause of the Unia and that it would be imprudent to abandon it. But it had never occurred to me that your Eminence would implement it using such violent measures… You say that you are ‘free to drown the infidels [i.e. the Orthodox who rejected the Unia], to chop their heads off’, etc. Not so! The Lord’s commandment expresses a strict prohibition to all, which concerns you also. When you violated human consciences, closed churches so that people should perish like infidels without divine services, without Christian rites and sacraments; when you abused the King’s favours and privileges – you managed without us. But when there is a need to suppress seditions caused by your excesses you want us to cover up for you… As to the dangers that threaten your life, one may say that everyone is the cause of his own misfortune. Stop making trouble, do not subject us to the general hatred of the people and you yourself to obvious danger and general criticism… Everywhere one hears people grumbling that you do not have any worthy priests, but only blind ones… Your ignorant priests are the bane of the people… But tell me, your Eminence, whom did you win over, whom did you attract through your severity?… It will turn out that in Polotsk itself you have lost even those who until now were obedient to you. You have turned sheep into goats, you have plunged the state into danger, and maybe all of us Catholics – into ruin… It has been rumoured that they (the Orthodox) would rather be under the infidel Turk than endure such violence… You yourself are the cause of their rebellion. Instead of joy, your notorious Unia has brought us only troubles and discords and has become so loathsome that we would rather be without it!”[266]

 

     On May 22, 1620, local people gathered at the Trinity monastery near Polotsk to express their indignation at Kuntsevich’s cruelty. “These people suffered a terrible fate: an armed crowed of uniates surrounded the monastery and set it on fire. As the fire was raging and destroying the monastery and burning alive everyone within its walls, Joasaphat Kuntsevich was performing on a nearby hill a thanksgiving service accompanied by the cries of the victims of the fire…”[267]

 

     In 1623 Kuntsevich was killed by the people of Vitebsk. In 1867 Pope Pius IX “glorified” him as a saint. In 1963 Pope Paul VI translated his relics to the Vatican, and even the present Pope, John-Paul II, has lauded him as a “hieromartyr”…

 

The Time of Troubles

 

     The Brest unia made the necessity of a strong autocracy in Moscow more essential than ever. Under Patriarch Job (1589-1605), the patriarchate had become an important player in State affairs. The bishops “together with the tsar and the boyars came together in a zemsky sobor in the dining room of the State palace and there reviewed the matters reported to them by the secretary. The patriarch began to play an especially important role after the death of Theodore Ivanovich (1598). The tsar died without children, and the throne was vacant. Naturally, the patriarch became head of the fatherland for a time and had to care for State affairs. In the election of the future tsar his choice rested on Boris Godunov, who had protected him, and he did much to aid his ascension on the throne…”[268]

 

     However, Boris Godunov had been a member of the dreaded Oprichnina from his youth, and had married the daughter of the murderer of St. Philip of Moscow, Maliuta Skouratov.[269] He therefore represented that part of Russian society that had profited from the cruelty and lawlessness of Ivan the Terrible. Moreover, though he was the first Russian tsar to be crowned and anointed by a full patriarch (on September 1, 1598), and there was no serious resistance to his ascending the throne, he acted from the beginning as if not quite sure of his position, or as if seeking some confirmation of his position from the lower ranks of society. This was perhaps because he was not a direct descendant of the Rurik dynasty (he was brother-in-law of Tsar Theodore), perhaps because (according to the Chronograph of 1617) the dying Tsar Theodore had pointed to his mother’s nephew, Theodore Nikitch Romanov, the future patriarch, as his successor, perhaps because he had some dark crime on his conscience…

 

     In any case, Boris decided upon an unprecedented act. He interrupted the liturgy of the coronation, as Stephen Graham writes, “to proclaim the equality of man. It was a striking interruption of the ceremony. The Cathedral of the Assumption was packed with a mixed assembly such as never could have found place at the coronation of a tsar of the blood royal. There were many nobles there, but cheek by jowl with them merchants, shopkeepers, even beggars. Boris suddenly took the arm of the holy Patriarch in his and declaimed in a loud voice: ‘Oh, holy father Patriarch Job, I call God to witness that during my reign there shall be neither poor man nor beggar in my realm, but I will share all with my fellows, even to the last rag that I wear.’ And in sign he ran his fingers over the jewelled vestments that he wore. There was an unprecedented scene in the cathedral, almost a revolutionary tableau when the common people massed within the precincts broke the disciplined majesty of the scene to applaud the speaker.”[270]

 

     How different was this tsarist democratism from the self-confidence of Ivan the Terrible: “I boast of nothing in my pride; indeed I have no need of pride, for I perform my kingly task and consider no man higher than myself.” And again: “The Russian autocrats have from the beginning had possession of all the kingdoms, and not the boyars and grandees…”[271] And again, this time to the (elected) king of Poland: “We, humble Ivan, tsar and great prince of all Rus’, by the will of God, and not by the stormy will of man…”[272]

 

     In fact, Ivan the Terrible’s attitude to his own power, at any rate in the first part of his reign, was much closer to the attitude of the Russian people as a whole than was Boris Godunov’s. For, as St. John Maximovich writes, “the Russian sovereigns were never tsars by the will of the people, but always remained Autocrats by the Mercy of God. They were sovereigns in accordance with the dispensation of God, and not according to the ‘multimutinous’ will of man.”[273]

 

     Sensing that Tsar Boris was not sure of his legitimacy, the people paid more heed to the rumours that he had murdered the Tsarevich Demetrius, the Terrible’s youngest son, in 1591. But then came news that a young man claiming to be Demetrius Ivanovich was marching at the head of a Polish army into Russia. If this man was truly Demetrius, then Boris was, of course, innocent of his murder. But paradoxically this only made his position more insecure; for in the eyes of the people the hereditary principle was higher than any other – an illegitimate but living son of Ivan the Terrible was more legitimate for them than Boris, even though he was an intelligent and experienced ruler, the right-hand man of two previous tsars, and fully supported by the Patriarch, who anathematised the false Demetrius and all those who followed him. Support for Boris collapsed, and in 1605 he died, after which Demetrius, who had promised the Pope to convert Russia to Catholicism, swept to power in Moscow.

 

     How was such sedition against their tsar possible in a people that had patiently put up with the terrible Ivan? Solonevich, points to the importance that the Russian people attached to the legitimacy of their tsars, in sharp contrast to the apparent lack of concern for legitimacy which he claims to find among the Byzantines. “Thus in Byzantium out of 109 reigning emperors 74 ascended onto the throne by means of regicide. This apparently disturbed no one. In Russia in the 14th century Prince Demetrius Shemyaka tried to act on the Byzantine model and overthrow Great Prince Basil Vasilyevich – and suffered a complete defeat. The Church cursed Shemyaka, the boyars turned away from him, the masses did not follow him: the Byzantine methods turned out to be unprofitable. Something of this sort took place with Boris Godunov. The dynasty of the Terrible had disappeared, and Boris Godunov turned out to be his nearest relative. Neither the lawfulness of his election to the kingdom, nor his exceptional abilities as a statesman, can be doubted… With Boris Godunov everything, in essence, was in order, except for one thing: the shade of Tsarevich Demetrius.”[274]

 

     This is an exaggeration: there were many things wrong with the reign of Boris Godunov, especially his encouragement of westerners[275], and his introduction of mutual spying and denunciation. However, there is no doubt that it was Boris’s murder of the Tsarevich Demetrius, the lawful heir to the throne, that especially excited the people to rebel. For “who in Byzantium would have worried about the fate of a child killed twenty years earlier? There might created right, and might washed away sin. In Rus’ right created might, and sin remained sin.”[276] Although this exaggerates the contrast between Byzantium and Rus’, the point concerning the importance of legitimacy in Muscovite Russia is well taken and important. “As regards who had to be tsar,” writes St. John Maximovich, “a tsar could hold his own on the throne only if the principle of legitimacy was observed, that is, the elected person was the nearest heir of his predecessor. The legitimate Sovereign was the basis of the state’s prosperity and was demanded by the spirit of the Russian people.”[277]

 

     The people were never sure of the legitimacy of Boris Godunov, so they rebelled against him. Unfortunately, however, in rejecting Boris, they accepted a real imposter, the false Demetrius – in reality a defrocked monk called Grishka Otrepev. Moreover, when in May, 1606, Prince Basil Shuisky led a successful rebellion against Demetrius, executed him and expelled the false patriarch Ignatius before being lawfully crowned, they proceeded to murder him, a killing which the Zemskij Sobor of 1613 called “a common sin of the land, committed out of the envy of the devil”.[278] Tsar Basil called on Patriarch Job to come out of his enforced retirement, but he refused by reason of his blindness and old age.[279] Another Patriarch was required; the choice fell of Metropolitan Hermogen of Kazan.

 

     “Wonderful is the Providence of God,” writes Protopriest Lev Lebedev, “in bringing him to the summit of ecclesiastical power at this terrible Time of Troubles… In 1579 he had been ordained to the priesthood in the St. Nicholas Gostinodvordsky church in Kazan. And in the same year a great miracle had taken place, the discovery of the Kazan icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. This was linked with a great fall in the faith of Christ in the new land, the mocking of the Orthodox by the Muslims for failures in harvest, fires and other woes. A certain girl, the daughter of a rifleman, through a vision in sleep discovered on the place of their burned-down house an icon of the Mother of God. Nobody knew when or by whom it had been placed in the ground. The icon began to work wonders and manifest many signs of special grace. The whole of Kazan ran to it as to a source of salvation and intercession from woes. The priest Hermogen was a witness of all this. He immediately wrote down everything that had taken place in connection with the wonderworking icon and with great fervour composed a narrative about it. The glory of the Kazan icon quickly spread through Russia, many copies were made from it, and some of these also became wonderworking. The Theotokos was called “the fervent defender of the Christian race” in this icon of Kazan. It was precisely this icon and Hermogen who had come to love it that the Lord decreed should deliver Moscow and Russia from the chaos of the Time of Troubles and the hands of the enemies. By the Providence of the Theotokos Hermogen was in 1589 appointed Metropolitan of Kazan for his righteous life, and in 1606 he became Patriarch of all Rus’.

 

     “As his first work it was necessary for him to correct the wavering of the people in relation to the false Demetrius and free them from the oath (curse) they had given. A special strict fast was declared, after which, on February 20, 1607, public repentance began in the Dormition cathedral of the Kremlin. Patriarch Job repented of having hidden from the people the fact that the Tsarevich Demetrius had been killed ‘by the plotting of Boris’ and called everyone to repentance. Nun Martha [the mother of the Tsarevich Demetrius] repented that out of fear she had recognized the Imposter to be her son. The Muscovites wept and repented of having sworn to Boris Godunov and Grisha Otrepev. Two Patriarchs – Job and Hermogen – absolved everyone with a special prayer-declaration, which was read aloud by the archdeacon.

 

     “However, by this time it was already the question of another Imposter – false Demetrius the second. He was an obvious adventurer. And knowing about this, Rome and certain people in Poland again supported him! The legend was as follows: ‘Tsar’ Demetrius had not been killed in Moscow, but had managed to flee (‘he was miraculously saved’ for the second time!). And again Cossack detachments from Little Russia, the Don and Ukraine attached themselves to him. Again quite a few Russian people believed the lie, for they very much wanted to have a ‘real’, ‘born’ Tsar, as they put it at that time, who in the eyes of many could only be a direct descendant of Ivan IV. Marina Mnishek [the wife of the first false Demetrius] ‘recognized’ her lawful husband in the second false Demetrius. However, her spiritual father, a Jesuit, considered it necessary to marry her to the new Imposter; the Jesuit knew that he was not the same who had been killed in Moscow, but another false Demetrius… Certain secret instructions from Rome to those close to the new Imposter have been preserved. Essentially they come down to ordering them gradually but steadily to bring about the unia of the Russian Church with the Roman Church, and her submission to the Pope. In 1608 the second false Demetrius entered Russia and soon came near to Moscow, encamping at Tushino. For that reason he was then called ‘the Tushino thief’. ‘Thief’ in those days mean a state criminal (those who steal things were then called robbers). Marinka gave birth to a son from the second false Demetrius. The people immediately called the little child ‘the thieflet’. Moscow closed its gates. Only very few troops still remained for the defence of the city. A great wavering of hearts and minds arose. Some princes and boyars ran from Moscow to the ‘thief’ in Tushino and back again. Not having the strength to wage a major war, Tsar Basil Shuisky asked the Swedish King Carl IX to help him. In this he made a great mistake… Carl of Sweden and Sigismund of Poland were at that time warring for the throne of Sweden. By calling on the Swedes for help, Shuisky was placing Russia in the position of a military opponent of Poland, which she used, seeing the Troubles in the Russian Land, to declare war on Russia. Now the Polish king’s army under a ‘lawful’ pretext entered the Muscovite Kingdom. The Imposter was not needed by the Poles and was discarded by them. Sigismund besieged Smolensk, while a powerful army under Zholevsky went up to Moscow. The boyars who were not contented with Shuisky removed him from the throne (forced him to abdicate) in July, 1610. But whom would they now place as Tsar? This depended to a large extent on the boyars.

 

     “O Great Russian princes and boyars! How much you tried from early times to seize power in the State! Now there is no lawful Tsar, now, it would seem, you have received the fullness of power. Now would be the time for you to show yourselves, to show what you are capable of! And you showed it…

 

     “A terrible difference of opinions began amidst the government, which consisted of seven boyars and was called the ‘semiboyarschina’. Patriarch Hermogen immediately suggested calling to the kingdom the 14-year-old ‘Misha Romanov’, as he called him. But they didn’t listen to the Patriarch. They discussed Poland’s suggestion of placing the son of King Sigismund, Vladislav, on the Muscovite Throne. The majority of boyars agreed. The gates of Moscow were opened to the Poles and they occupied Chinatown and the Kremlin with their garrison. But at the same time a huge Polish army besieged the monastery of St. Sergius, ‘the Abbot of the Russian Land’, the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, but after a 16-month siege they were not able to take it! Patriarch Germogen was ready to agree to having the crown-prince Vladislav, but under certain conditions. Vladislav would be immediately, near Smolensk, baptised into the Orthodox Faith. He would take for a wife only a virgin of the Orthodox Confession. The Poles would leave Russia, and all the Russia apostates who had become Catholic or uniates would be executed. There would never be any negotiations between Moscow and Rome about the faith. An embassy was sent from near Smolensk to Sigismund for negotiations about the succession to the Throne. The spiritual head of the embassy was Metropolitan Philaret Nikitich Romanov of Rostov, who had been taken out of exile and then consecrated to the episcopate under Tsar Basil Shuisky. But at the same time Patriarch Germogen did not cease to exhort the Tushintsy who were still with the thief near Moscow, calling on them to be converted, repent and cease destroying the Fatherland.

 

     “However, it turned out that Sigismund himself wanted to be on the Throne of Moscow… But this was a secret. The majority of the boyars agreed to accept even that, referring to the fact that the Poles were already in Moscow, while the Russians had no army with which to defend the country from Poland. A declaration was composed in which it was said that the Muscovite government ‘would be given to the will of the king’. The members of the government signed it. It was necessary that Patriarch Germogen should also give his signature. At this point Prince Michael Saltykov came to him. The head of the Russian Church replied: ‘No! I will put my signature to a declaration that the king should give his son to the Muscovite state, and withdraw all the king’s men from Moscow, that Vladislav should abandon the Latin heresy, and accept the Greek faith… But neither I nor the other (ecclesiastical) authorities will write that we should all rely on the king’s will and that our ambassadors should be placed in the will of the king, and I order you not to do it. It is clear that with such a declaration we would have to kiss the cross to the king himself.’ Saltykov took hold of a knife and moved towards the Patriarch. He made the sign of the cross over Saltykov and said: ‘I do not fear your knife, I protect myself from it by the power of the Cross of Christ. But may you be cursed from our humility both in this age and in the age to come!’. Nevertheless, in December, 1611 the boyars brought the declaration to near Smolensk, to the Russian ambassadors who were there.”[280]

 

     The boyars nearly produced a Russian Magna Carta, as Geoffrey Hosking explains: “They presented King Sigismund with a set of conditions on which they were prepared to accept his son Wladyslaw as Tsar. The first was that the Orthodox faith should remain inviolate. Then came stipulations on the rights of individual estates, for example, not to be punished or to have property confiscated without trial before a properly constituted court, not to be demoted from a high chin [rank] without clear and demonstrable fault. The document implied a state structure in which supreme authority would be shared with a combined boyar assembly and zemskii sobor (duma boiar i vseia zemli), in agreement with which questions of taxes, salaries of service people and the bestowal of patrimonial and service estates would be decided. Such a document might have laid for the basis for a constitutional Muscovite monarchy in personal union with Poland.”[281]

 

     The Patriarch’s authority was enough to scupper the plans of the Poles and the Russian boyars. For when the latter brought the document to the Poles at Smolensk, where a Russian embassy led by Metropolitan Philaret of Rostov had been for some time, then, “on not seeing the signature of the Patriarch on the document, the ambassadors replied to our boyars that the declaration was unlawful. They objected: ‘The Patriarch must not interfere in affairs of the land’. The ambassadors said: ‘From the beginning affairs were conducted as follows in our Russian State: if great affairs of State or of the land are begun, then our majesties summoned a council of patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and conferred with them. Without their advice nothing was decreed. And our majesties revere the patriarchs with great honour… And before them were the metropolitans. Now we are without majesties, and the patriarch is our leader (that is – the main person in the absence of the Tsar). It is now unfitting to confer upon such a great matter without the patriarch… It is now impossible for us to act without patriarchal declarations, and only with those of the boyars…’

 

     “The agreement with Sigismund and the transfer of the Muscovite Kingdom into his power did not take place… That is what such a mere ‘detail’ as a signature sometimes means – or rather, in the given case, the absence of a signature!

 

     “This gave a spiritual and lawful basis (in prevision of fresh boyar betrayals) for the Russian cities to begin corresponding with each other with the aim of deciding how to save Moscow and the Fatherland. In this correspondence the name of Patriarch Hermogen was often mentioned, for he was ‘straight as a real pastor, who lays down his life for the Christian Faith’. The inhabitants of Yaroslavl wrote to the citizens of Kazan: ‘Hermogen has stood up for the Faith and Orthodoxy, and has ordered all of us to stand to the end. If he had not done this wondrous deed, everything would have perished.’ And truly Russia, which so recently had been on the point of taking Poland at the desire of the Poles, was now a hair’s-breadth away from becoming the dominion of Poland (and who knows for how long a time!). Meanwhile Patriarch Hermogen began himself  to write to all the cities, calling on Russia to rise up to free herself. The letter-declarations stirred up the people, they had great power. The Poles demanded that he write to the cities and call on them not to go to Moscow to liberate it from those who had seized it. At this point Michael Saltykov again came to Hermogen. ‘I will write,’ replied the Patriarch, ‘… but only on condition that you and the traitors with you and the people of the king leave Moscow… I see the mocking of the true faith by heretics and by you traitors, and the destruction of the holy Churches of God and I cannot bear to hear the Latin chanting in Moscow’. Hermogen was imprisoned in the Chudov monastery and they began to starve him to death. But the voice of the Church did not fall silent. The brothers of the Trinity-St. Sergius monastery headed by Archimandrite Dionysius also began to send their appeals to the cities to unite in defence of the Fatherland. The people’s levies moved towards Moscow. The first meeting turned out to be unstable. Quite a few predatory Cossacks took part in it, for example the cossacks of Ataman Zarutsky. Quarrels and disputes, sometimes bloody ones, took place between the levies. Lyapunov, the leader of the Ryazan forces, was killed. This levy looted the population more than it warred with the Poles. Everything changed when the second levy, created through the efforts of Nizhni-Novgorod merchant Cosmas Minin Sukhorukov and Prince Demetrius Pozharsky, moved towards the capital. As we know, Minin, when stirring up the people to make sacrifices for the levy, called on them, if necessary, to sell their wives and children and mortgage their properties, but to liberate the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Dormition of the All-Holy Theotokos, where there was the Vladimir icon and the relics of the great Russian Holy Hierarchs (that is, he was talking about the Dormition cathedral of the Kremlin!) That, it seems, was the precious thing that was dear to the inhabitants of Nizhni, Ryazan, Yaroslavl, Kazan and the other cities of Russia and for the sake of which they were ready to sell their wives and lay down their lives! That means that the Dormition cathedral was at that time that which we could call as it were the geographical centre of patriotism of Russia!

 

     “On the advice of Patriarch Hermogen, the holy Kazan icon of the Mother of God was taken into the levy of Minin and Pozharsky.

 

     “In the autumn of 1612 the second levy was already near Moscow. But it did not succeed in striking through to the capital. Their strength was ebbing away. Then the levies laid upon themselves a strict three-day fast and began earnestly to pray to the Heavenly Queen before her Kazan icon. At this time Bishop Arsenius, a Greek by birth, who was living in a monastery in the Kremlin, and who had come to us in 1588 with Patriarch Jeremiah, after fervent prayer saw in a subtle sleep St. Sergius. The abbot of the Russian Land told Arsenius that ‘by the prayers of the Theotokos judgement on our Fatherland has been turned to mercy, and that tomorrow Moscow will be in the hands of the levy and Russia will be saved!’ News of this vision of Arsenius was immediately passed to the army of Pozharsky, which enormously encouraged them. They advanced to a decisive attack and on October 22, 1612 took control of a part of Moscow and Chinatown. Street-fighting in which the inhabitants took part began. In the fire and smoke it was difficult to distinguish friend from foe. On October 27 the smoke began to disperse. The Poles surrendered….

 

     “Patriarch Hermogen did not live to this radiant day. On February 17, 1612 he had died from hunger in the Chudov monastery. In 1912 he was numbered with the saints, and his relics reside to this day in the Dormition cathedral of the Kremlin.

 

     “Thus at the end of 1612 the Time of Troubles came to an end. Although detachments of Poles, Swedes, robbers and Cossacks continued to wander around Russia. After the death of the second false Demetrius Marina Mnishek got together with Zarutsky, who still tried to fight, but was defeated. Marinka died in prison… But the decisive victory was won then, in 1612!”[282]

 

     In the Time of Troubles the best representatives of the Russian people, in the persons of the holy Patriarchs Job and Hermogen stood courageously for those Tsars who had been lawfully anointed by the Church and remained loyal to the Orthodox faith, regardless of their personal virtues or vices. Conversely, they refused to recognise (even at the cost of their sees and their lives) the pretenders to the tsardom who did not satisfy these conditions – again, regardless of their personal qualities. Most of the Russian clergy accepted the first false Demetrius. But “in relation to the second false Demetrius,” writes Protopriest Lev Lebedev, “[they] conducted themselves more courageously. Bishops Galacteon of Suzdal and Joseph of Kolomna suffered for their non-acceptance of the usurper. Archbishop Theoctistus of Tver received a martyric death in Tushino. Dressed only in a shirt, the bare-footed Metropolitan Philaret of Rostov, the future patriarch, was brought by the Poles into the camp of the usurper, where he remained in captivity. Seeing such terrible events, Bishop Gennadius of Pskov ‘died of sorrow…’” [283]

 

      There were other champions of the faith: the monks of Holy Trinity – St. Sergius Lavra, who heroically resisted a long Polish siege, and the great hermit, St. Irinarchus of Rostov. Thus in the life of the latter we read: “Once there came into the elder’s cell a Polish noble, Pan Mikulinsky with other Pans. ‘In whom do you believe?’ he asked. ‘I believe in the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!’ ‘And what earthly king do you have?’ The elder replied in a loud voice: ‘I have the Russian Tsar Basil Ioannovich [Shuisky]. I live in Russia, I have a Russian tsar – I have nobody else!’ One of the Pans said: ‘You, elder, are a traitor; you believe neither in our king, nor in [the second false] Demetrius!’ The elder replied: ‘I do not fear your sword, which is corruptible, and I will not betray my faith in the Russian Tsar. If you cut me off for that, then I will suffer it with joy. I have a little blood in me for you, but my Living God has a sword which will cut you off invisibly, without flesh or blood, and He will send your souls into eternal torment!’  And Pan Mikulinsky was amazed at the great faith of the elder…”[284]

 

     The history of the 17th and 18th centuries showed without a doubt which was the superior political principle. Thus while Russia went from strength to strength, finally liberating all the Russian lands from the oppressive tyranny of the Polish landlords, Poland grew weaker and weaker under its powerless elective monarchy. Finally, by the end of the eighteenth century it had ceased to exist as an independent State…

 

     At the beginning of February, 1613, a Zemskij Sobor was assembled in Moscow in order to elect a Tsar for the widowed Russian land. In accordance with pious tradition, it began with a three-day fast and prayer to invoke God’s blessing on the assembly.

 

     “At the first conciliar session,” writes Hieromartyr Nicon, Archbishop of Vologda, “it was unanimously decided: ’not to elect anyone of other foreign faiths, but to elect our own native Russian’. They began to elect their own; some pointed to one boyar, others to another… A certain nobleman from Galich presented a written opinion that the closest of all to the previous tsars by blood was Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov: he should be elected Tsar. They remembered that the reposed Patriarch had mentioned this name. An ataman from the Don gave the same opinion. And Mikhail Fyodorovich was proclaimed Tsar. But not all the elected delegates had yet arrived in Moscow, nor any of the most eminent boyars, and the matter was put off for another two weeks. Finally, they all assembled on February 21, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and by a common vote confirmed this choice. Then Archbishop Theodoritus of Ryazan, the cellarer Abraham Palitsyn of the Holy Trinity Monastery and the boyar Morozov came out onto the place of the skull and asked the people who were filling Red Square: ‘Who do you want for Tsar?’ And the people unanimously exclaimed: ‘Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov!’ And the Council appointed Archbishop Theodoritus, Abraham Palitsyn, three archimandrites and several notable boyars to go to the newly elected Tsar to ask him to please come to the capital city of Moscow to his Tsarist throne.”[285]

 

     It was with great difficulty that the delegation persuaded the adolescent boy and his mother, the nun Martha, to accept the responsibility. Then, in recognition of the fact that it was largely the nation’s betrayal of legitimate autocratic authority that had led to the Time of Troubles, the delegates at this Sobor swore eternal loyalty to Michael Romanov and his descendants, calling a curse upon themselves if they should ever break this oath.

 

     In February, 1917 the people of Russia broke their oath to the House of Romanov by their betrayal of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. Thes curse duly fell upon them in the form of the horrors of Soviet power…   

 

     “The outcome,” writes Lebedev, “suggested that Russians identified themselves with strong authority, backed by the Orthodox Church and unrestrained by any charter or covenant, such as might prove divisive and set one social group against another… The zemlia had for the first time constituted itself as a reality, based on elective local government institutions, and had chosen a new master…”[286]

 

     “The Time of Troubles,” writes Lebedev, “illuminated the profound basis of the interrelationship of ecclesiastical and royal power. This problem was reflected, as if in magnifying glass, in the above-mentioned quarrels of the Russian ambassadors with regard to the absence of Patriarch Hermogen’s signature on the document of the capitulation of Russia. It turns out that both the Russian hierarchs and the best statesmen understood the relationship of the tsar and the patriarch in a truly Christian, communal sense. In the one great Orthodox society of Russia there are two leaders: a spiritual (the patriarch) and a secular (the tsar). They are both responsible for all that takes place in society, but each in his own way: the tsar first of all for civil affairs (although he can also take a very active and honourable part in ecclesiastical affairs when that is necessary), while the patriarch is first of all responsible for ecclesiastical, spiritual affairs (although he can also, when necessary, take a most active part in state affairs). The tsars take counsel with the patriarchs, the patriarchs – with the tsars in all the most important questions. Traditionally the patriarch is an obligatory member of the boyars’ Duma (government). If there is no tsar, then the most important worldly affairs are decided only with the blessing of the patriarch. If in the affair of the establishment of the patriarchate in Russia it was the royal power that was basically active, in the Time of Troubles the royal power itself and the whole of Russia were saved by none other than the Russian patriarchs! Thus the troubles very distinctly demonstrated that the Russian ecclesiastical authorities were not, and did not think of themselves as being, a 'legally obedient’ arm of the State power, as some (A.V. Kartashev) would have it. It can remain and did remain in agreement with the State power in those affairs in which this was possible from an ecclesiastical point of view, and to the extent that this was possible.

 

     “In this question it was important that neither side should try to seize for itself the prerogatives of the other side, that is, should not be a usurper, for usurpation can be understood not only in the narrow sense, but also in the broad sense of the general striving to become that which you are not by law, to assume for yourself those functions which do not belong to you by right. It is amazing that in those days there was no precise juridical, written law (‘right’) concerning the competence and mutual relations of the royal and ecclesiastical powers. Relations were defined by the spiritual logic of things and age-old tradition…”[287]

 

The Hereditary Principle

 

     And so, with the enthronement of the first Romanov tsar, the Muscovite kingdom was established on the twin pillars of the Orthodox Faith and Hereditary succession. The requirement of Orthodoxy had been passed down from the Byzantines. Hereditary Succession was not a requirement in Rome or Byzantium (which is one reason why so many Byzantine emperors were assassinated by usurpers)[288]; but in Russia, as in some Western Orthodox autocracies (for example, the Anglo-Saxon), it had always been felt to be a necessity.

 

     Both pillars had been shaken during the Time of Troubles, after the death of the last Ryurik tsar. But Orthodoxy had been restored above all by the holy Patriarchs Job and Hermogenes refusing to recognise a Catholic tsar, and then by the national army of liberation that drove out the Poles. And the Hereditary Principle, already tacitly accepted if mistakenly applied by the people when they followed the false Demetrius, had been affirmed by all the estates of the nation at the Zemskij Sobor in 1613.

 

     Since the hereditary principle is commonly considered to be irrational as placing the government of the State “at the mercy of chance”, it may be worth pausing to consider its significance in Russian Orthodox statehood in the thinking of four Russian writers: Protopriest Lev Lebedev, I. L. Solonevich, St. John Maximovich and Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow.

 

     First, after electing the first Romanov tsar, the people retained no right to depose him or any of his successors. On the contrary, they elected a hereditary dynasty, and specifically bound themselves by an oath to be loyal to that dynasty forever.

 

     Secondly, while the Zemskij Sobor of 1613 was, of course, an election, it was by no means a democratic election in the modern sense, but rather a recognition of God’s election of a ruler on the model of the Israelites’ election of Jephtha (Judges 11.11).

 

     For, as Solonevich writes, “when, after the Time of Troubles, the question was raised concerning the restoration of the monarchy, there was no hint of an ‘election to the kingdom’. There was a ‘search’ for people who had the greatest hereditary right to the throne. And not an ‘election’ of the more worthy. There were not, and could not be, any ‘merits’ in the young Michael Fyodorovich. But since only the hereditary principle affords the advantage of absolutely indisputability, it was on this that the ‘election’ was based.”[289]

 

     As St. John Maximovich writes: “It was almost impossible to elect some person as tsar for his qualities; everyone evaluated the candidates from his own point of view.”[290]

 

     Again, Fr. Lev Lebedev puts it as follows: “Tsars are not elected! And a Council, even a Zemskij Sobor, cannot be the source of power. The kingdom is a calling of God, the Council can determine the lawful Tsar and summon him.”[291]

 

     St. John Maximovich writes: “What drew the hearts of all to Michael Romanov? He had neither experience of statecraft, nor had he done any service to the state. He was not distinguished by the state wisdom of Boris Godunov or by the eminence of his race, as was Basil Shuisky. He was sixteen years old, and “Misha Romanov”, as he was generally known, had not yet managed to show his worth in anything. But why did the Russian people rest on him, and why with his crowning did all the quarrels and disturbances regarding the royal throne come to an end? The Russian people longed for a lawful, “native” Sovereign, and was convinced that without him there could be no order or peace in Russia. When Boris Godunov and Prince Basil Shuisky were elected, although they had, to a certain degree, rights to the throne through their kinship with the previous tsars, they were not elected by reason of their exclusive rights, but their personalities were taken into account. There was no strict lawful succession in their case. This explained the success of the pretenders. However, it was almost impossible to elect someone as tsar for his qualities. Everyone evaluated the candidates for their point of view. However, the absence of a definite law which would have provided an heir in the case of the cutting off of the line of the Great Princes and Tsars of Moscow made it necessary for the people itself to indicate who they wanted as tsar. The descendants of the appanage princes, although they came from the same race as that of the Moscow Tsars (and never forgot that), were in the eyes of the people simple noblemen, “serfs” of the Moscow sovereigns; their distant kinship with the royal line had already lost its significance. Moreover, it was difficult to establish precisely which of the descendants of St. Vladimir on the male side had the most grounds for being recognised as the closest heir to the defunct royal line. In such circumstances all united in the suggestion that the extinct Royal branch should be continued by the closest relative of the last “native”, lawful Tsar. The closest relatives of Tsar Theodore Ioannovich were his counsins on his mother’s side: Theodore, in monasticism Philaret, and Ivan Nikitich Romanov, both of whom had sons. In that case the throne had to pass to Theodore, as the eldest, but his monasticism and the rank of Metropolitan of Rostov was an obstacle to this. His heir was his only son Michael. Thus the question was no longer about the election of a Tsar, but about the recognition that a definite person had the rights to the throne. The Russian people, tormented by the time of troubles and the lawlessness, welcomed this decision, since it saw that order could be restored only by a lawful “native” Tsar. The people remembered the services of the Romanovs to their homeland, their sufferings for it, the meek Tsaritsa Anastasia Romanova, the firmness of Philaret Nikitich. All this still more strongly attracted the hearts of the people to the announced tsar. But these qualities were possessed also by some other statesmen and sorrowers for Rus’. And this was not the reason for the election of Tsar Michael Romanovich, but the fact that in him Rus’ saw their most lawful and native Sovereign.

 

     “In the acts on the election to the kingdom of Michael Fyodorovich, the idea that he was ascending the throne by virtue of his election by the people was carefully avoided, and it was pointed out that the new Tsar was the elect of God, the direct descendant of the last lawful Sovereign.”[292]

 

     The hereditary tsar’s rule is inviolable. As Metropolitan Philaret writes: “A government that is not fenced about by an inviolability that is venerated religiously by the whole people cannot act with the whole fullness of power or that freedom of zeal that is necessary for the construction and preservation of the public good and security. How can it develop its whole strength in its most beneficial direction, when its power constantly finds itself in an insecure position, struggling with other powers that cut short its actions in as many different directions as are the opinions, prejudices and passions more or less dominant in society? How can it surrender itself to the full force of its zeal, when it must of necessity divide its attentions between care for the prosperity of society and anxiety about its own security? But if the government is so lacking in firmness, then the State is also lacking in firmness. Such a State is like a city built on a volcanic mountain: what significance does its hard earth have when under it is hidden a power that can at any minute turn everything into ruins? Subjects who do not recognise the inviolability of rulers are incited by the hope of licence to achieve licence and predominance, and between the horrors of anarchy and oppression they cannot establish in themselves that obedient freedom which is the focus and soul of public life.”[293]

 

     There are certain laws, like that concerning the hereditary principle itself, which are fundamental, that is, which even the tsar cannot transgress, insofar as they define the very essence of the Orthodox hereditary monarchy. In general, however, the hereditary autocrat is above the law. For, as Solonevich writes: “The fundamental, most fundamental idea of the Russian monarchy was most vividly and clearly expressed by A.S. Pushkin just before the end of his life: ‘There must be one person standing higher than everybody, higher even than the law.’

 

     “In this formulation, ‘one man’, Man is placed in very big letters above the law. This formulation is completely unacceptable for the Roman-European cast of mind, for which the law is everything: dura lex, sed lex. The Russian cast of mind places, man, mankind, the soul higher than the law, giving to the law only that place which it should occupy: the place occupied by traffic rules. Of course, with corresponding punishments for driving on the left side. Man is not for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man. It is not that man is for the fulfilment of the law, but the law is for the preservation of man…

 

     “The whole history of humanity is filled with the struggle of tribes, people, nations, classes, estates, groups, parties, religions and whatever you like. It’s almost as Hobbes put it: ‘War by everyone against everyone’. How are we to find a neutral point of support in this struggle? An arbiter standing above the tribes, nations, peoples, classes, estates, etc.? Uniting the people, classes and religions into a common whole? Submitting the interests of the part to the interests of the whole? And placing moral principles above egoism, which is always characteristic of every group of people pushed forward the summit of public life?”[294]

 

     The idea that the tsar is higher than the law, while remaining subject to the law of God, is also defended by Metropolitan Philaret: “The tsar, rightly understood, is the head and soul of the kingdom. But, you object to me, the soul of the State must be the law. The law is necessary, it is worthy of honour, faithful; but the law in charters and books is a dead letter… The law, which is dead in books, comes to life in acts; and the supreme State actor and exciter and inspirer of the subject actors is the Tsar.”[295]

 

     But if the tsar is above the law, how can he not be a tyrant, insofar as, in the words of Lord Acton, “power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts”?

 

     First, as we have seen, the tsar’s power is not absolute insofar as he is subject to the law of God and the fundamental laws of the kingdom, which the Church is called upon to defend. Secondly, it is not only tsars, but rulers of all kinds that are subject to the temptations of power. Indeed, these temptations may even be worse with democratic rulers; for whereas the tsar stands above all factional interests, an elected president necessarily represents the interests only of his party at the expense of the country as a whole. “Western thought,” writes Solonevich, “sways from the dictatorship of capitalism to the dictatorship of the proletariat , but no representative of this thought has even so much as thought of ‘the dictatorship of conscience’.”[296]

 

     “The distinguishing characteristic of Russian monarchy, which was given to it at its birth, consists in the fact that the Russian monarchy expressed the will not of the most powerful, but the will of the whole nation, religiously given shape by Orthodoxy and politically given shape by the Empire. The will of the nation, religious given shape by Orthodoxy will be ‘the dictatorship of conscience’ Only in this way can we explain the possibility of the manifesto of February 19, 1861 [when Tsar Alexander II freed the peasants]: ‘the dictatorship of conscience’ was able overcome the terribly opposition of the ruling class, and the ruling class proved powerless. We must always have this distinction in mind: the Russian monarchy is the expression of the will, that is: the conscience, of the nation, not the will of the capitalists, which both French Napoleons expressed, or the will of the aristocracy, which all the other monarchies of Europe expressed: the Russian monarchy is the closes approximation to the ideal of monarchy in general. This ideal was never attained by the Russian monarchy – for the well-known reason that no ideal is realisable in our life. In the history of the Russian monarchy, as in the whole of our world, there were periods of decline, of deviation, of failure, but there were also periods of recovery such as world history has never known.”[297]

 

     Now State power, which, like power in the family or the tribe, always has an element of coercion, “is constructed in three ways: by inheritance, by election and by seizure: monarchy, republic, dictatorship. In practice all this changes places: the man who seizes power becomes a hereditary monarch (Napoleon I), the elected president becomes the same (Napoleon III), or tries to become it (Oliver Cromwell). The elected ‘chancellor’, Hitler, becomes a seizer of power. But in general these are nevertheless exceptions.

 

     “Both a republic and a dictatorship presuppose a struggle for power – democratic in the first case and necessarily bloody in the second: Stalin – Trotsky, Mussolini-Matteotti, Hitler-Röhm. In a republic, as a rule, the struggle is unbloody. However, even an unbloody struggle is not completely without cost. Aristide Briand, who became French Prime Minister several times, admitted that 95% of his strength was spent on the struggle for power and only five percent on the work of power. And even this five percent was exceptionally short-lived.

 

     “Election and seizure are, so to speak, rationalist methods. Hereditary power is, strictly speaking, the power of chance, indisputable if only because the chance of birth is completely indisputable. You can recognise or not recognise the principle of monarchy in general. But no one can deny the existence of the positive law presenting the right of inheriting the throne to the first son of the reigning monarch. Having recourse to a somewhat crude comparison, this is something like an ace in cards… An ace is an ace. No election, no merit, and consequently no quarrel. Power passes without quarrel and pain: the king is dead, long live the king!”[298]

 

     We may interrupt Solonevich’s argument here to qualify his use of the word “chance”. The fact that a man inherits the throne only because he is the firstborn of his father may be “by chance” from a human point of view. But from the Divine point of view it is election. As Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov writes: “There is no blind chance! God rules the world, and everything that takes place in heaven and beneath the heavens takes place according to the judgement of the All-wise and All-powerful God.”[299]

 

     Moreover, as Bishop Ignatius also writes, “in blessed Russia, according to the spirit of the pious people, the Tsar and the fatherland constitute one whole, as in a family the parents and their children constitute one whole.”[300] This being so, it was only natural that the law of succession should be hereditary, from father to son.

 

     Solonevich continues: “The human individual, born by chance as heir to the throne, is placed in circumstances which guarantee him the best possible professional preparation from a technical point of view. His Majesty Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich was probably one of the most educated people of his time. The best professors of Russia taught him both law and strategy and history and literature. He spoke with complete freedom in three foreign languages. His knowledge was not one-sided.. and was, if one can so express it, living knowledge

 

     “The Russian tsar was in charge of everything and was obliged to know everything  - it goes without saying, as far as humanly possible. He was a ‘specialist’ in that sphere which excludes all specialisation. This was a specialism standing above all the specialisms of the world and embracing them all. That is, the general volume of erudition of the Russian monarch had in mind that which every philosophy has in mind: the concentration in one point of the whole sum of human knowledge. However, with this colossal qualification, that ‘the sum of knowledge’ of the Russian tsars grew in a seamless manner from the living practice of the past and was checked against the living practice of the present. True, that is how almost all philosophy is checked – for example, with Robespierre, Lenin and Hitler – but, fortunately for humanity, such checking takes place comparatively rarely….

 

     “The heir to the Throne, later the possessor of the Throne, is placed in such conditions under which temptations are reduced.. to a minimum. He is given everything he needs beforehand. At his birth he receives an order, which he, of course, did not manage to earn, and the temptation of vainglory is liquidated in embryo. He is absolutely provided for materially – the temptation of avarice is liquidated in embryo. He is the only one having the Right – and so competition falls away, together with everything linked with it. Everything is organised in such a way that the personal destiny of the individual should be welded together into one whole with the destiny of the nation. Everything that a person would want to have for himself is already given him. And the person automatically merges with the general good.

 

     “One could say that all this is possessed also by a dictator of the type of Napoleon, Stalin or Hitler. But this would be less than half true: everything that the dictator has he conquered, and all this he must constantly defend – both against competitors and against the nation. The dictator is forced to prove every day that it is precisely he who is the most brilliant, great, greatest and inimitable, for if not he, but someone else, is not the most brilliant, then it is obvious that that other person has the right to power…

 

     “We can, of course, quarrel over the very principle of ‘chance’. A banally rationalist, pitifully scientific point of view is usually formulated thus: the chance of birth may produce a defective man. But we, we will elect the best… Of course, ‘the chance of birth’ can produce a defective man. We have examples of this: Tsar Theodore Ivanovich. Nothing terrible happened. For the monarchy ‘is not the arbitratriness of a single man’, but ‘a system of institutions’, - a system can operate temporarily even without a ‘man’. But simple statistics show that the chance of such ‘chance’ events are very small. And the chance of ‘a genius on the throne’ appearing is still smaller.

 

     “I proceed from the axiom that a genius in politics is worse than the plague. For a genius is a person who thinks up something that is new in principle. In thinking up something that is new in principle, he invades the organic life of the country and cripples it, as it was crippled by Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler…

 

     “The power of the tsar is the power of the average, averagely clever man over two hundred million average, averagely clever people… V. Klyuchevsky said with some perplexity that the first Muscovite princes, the first gatherers of the Russian land, were completely average people: - and yet, look, they gathered the Russian land. This is quite simple: average people have acted in the interests of average people and the line of the nation has coincided with the line of power. So the average people of the Novgorodian army went over to the side of the average people of Moscow, while the average people of the USSR are running away in all directions from the genius of Stalin.”[301]  

 

     Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow expressed the superiority of the hereditary over the elective principle as follows: “What conflict does election for public posts produce in other peoples! With what conflict, and sometimes also with what alarm do they attain the legalisation of the right of public election! Then there begins the struggle, sometimes dying down and sometimes rising up again, sometimes for the extension and sometimes for the restriction of this right. The incorrect extension of the right of social election is followed by its incorrect use. It would be difficult to believe it if we did not read in foreign newspapers that elective votes are sold; that sympathy or lack of sympathy for those seeking election is expressed not only by votes for and votes against, but also by sticks and stones, as if a man can be born from a beast, and rational business out of the fury of the passions; that ignorant people make the choice between those in whom wisdom of state is envisaged, lawless people participate in the election of future lawgivers, peasants and craftsmen discuss and vote, not about who could best keep order in the village or the society of craftsmen, but about who is capable of administering the State.

 

     “Thanks be to God! It is not so in our fatherland. Autocratic power, established on the age-old law of heredity, which once, at a time of impoverished heredity, was renewed and strengthened on its former basis by a pure and rational election, stands in inviolable firmness and acts with calm majesty. Its subjects do not think of striving for the right of election to public posts in the assurance that the authorities care for the common good and know through whom and how to construct it.”[302]

 

     “God, in accordance with the image of His heavenly single rule, has established a tsar on earth; in accordance with the image of His almighty power, He has established an autocratic tsar; in accordance with the image of His everlasting Kingdom, which continues from age to age, He has established a hereditary tsar.”[303]

 

     We may now define more precisely why the hereditary principle was considered by the Russian people to be not simply superior to the elective principle, but as far superior to it as heaven is to the earth. For while an elected president is installed by the will of man, and can be said to be installed by the will of God only indirectly, insofar as God has allowed it, without positively willing it; the determination of who will be born as the heir to the throne is completely beyond the power of man, and so entirely within the power of God. The hereditary principle therefore ensures that the tsar will indeed be elected – but by God, not by man.

 

Tsar, Patriarch and People

 

     The first Romanov tsar, Michael Fyodorovich, had his own natural father, Philaret Nikitich, as his Patriarch. This unusual relationship, in which both took the title “Great Sovereign”, was profoundly significant in the context of the times. It was “unique, according to Lebedev, “not only for Russian history, but also for the universal history of the Church, when a natural father and son become the two heads of a single Orthodox power!”.[304] And it was highly significant in that it showed what the relationship between the heads of the Church and the State should be – a filial one of mutual trust and love.

 

     The sixteenth century had seen the power of the tsar, in the person of Ivan the Terrible, leaning dangerously towards caesaropapism in practice, if not in theory. However, the Time of Troubles had demonstrated how critically the Orthodox Autocracy depended on the legitimising and sanctifying power of the Church. In disobedience to her, the people had broken their oath of allegiance to the legitimate tsar and plunged the country into anarchy; but in penitent obedience to her, they had succeeded in finally driving out the invaders. The election of the tsar’s father to the patriarchal see both implicitly acknowledged this debt of the Autocracy and People to the Church, and indicated that while the Autocracy was now re-established in all its former power and inviolability, the tsar being answerable to God alone for his actions in the political sphere, nevertheless he received his sanction and sanctification from the Church in the person of the Patriarch, who was as superior to him in his sphere, the sphere of the Spirit, as a father is to his son, and who, as the Zemskij Sobor of 1619 put it, “for this reason [i.e. because he was father of the tsar] is to be a helper and builder for the kingdom, a defender for widows and intercessor for the wronged.”[305]     

 

     Patriarch Philaret’s firm hand was essential in holding the still deeply shaken State together. As Dobroklonsky writes: “The Time of Troubles had shaken the structure of the State in Russia, weakening discipline and unleashing arbitrariness; the material situation of the country demanded improvements that could not be put off. On ascending the throne, Michael Fyodorovich was still too young, inexperienced and indecisive to correct the shattered State order. Having become accustomed to self-will, the boyars were not able to renounce it even now: ‘They took no account of the tsar, they did not fear him,’ says the chronicler, ‘as long as he was a child… They divided up the whole land in accordance with their will.’ In the census that took place after the devastation of Moscow many injustices had been permitted in taxing the people, so that it was difficult for some and easy for others. The boyars became ‘violators’, oppressing the weak; the Boyar Duma contained unworthy me, inclined to intrigues against each other rather than State matters and interests. In the opinion of some historians, the boyars even restricted the autocracy of the tsar, and the whole administration of the State depended on them. A powerful will and an experienced man was necessary to annihilate the evil. Such could be for the young sovereign his father, Patriarch Philaret, in whom circumstances had created a strong character, and to whom age and former participation in State affairs had given knowledge of the boyar set and the whole of Russian life and experience in administration. Finally, the woes of the fatherland had generated a burning patriotism in him. In reality, Philaret became the adviser and right hand of the Tsar. The Tsar himself, in his decree to voyevodas of July 3, 1619 informing them of the return of his father from Poland, put it as follows: ‘We, the great sovereign, having taken counsel with our father and intercessor with God, will learn how to care for the Muscovite State so as to correct everything in it in the best manner.’ The chroniclers call Philaret ‘the most statesmanlike patriarch’, noting that ‘he was in control of all the governmental and military affairs’ and that ‘the tsar and patriarch administered everything together’. Philaret was in fact as much a statesman as a churchman. This is indicated by the title hew used: ‘the great sovereign and most holy Patriarch Philaret Nikitich’. All important State decrees and provisions were made with his blessing and counsel. When the tsar and patriarch were separated they corresponded with each other, taking counsel with each other in State affairs. Their names figured next to each other on decrees… Some decrees on State affairs were published by the patriarch alone; and he rescinded some of the resolutions made by his son. Subjects wrote their petitions not only to the tsar, but at the same time to the patriarch; the boyars often assembled in the corridors before his cross palace to discuss State affairs; they presented various reports to him as well as to the tsar. The patriarch usually took part in receptions of foreign ambassadors sitting on the right hand of the tsar; both were given gifts and special documents; if for some reason the patriarch was not present at this reception, the ambassadors would officially present themselves in the patriarchal palace and with the same ceremonies as to the tsar. The influence of the patriarch on the tsar was so complete and powerful that there was no place for any influence of the boyars who surrounded the throne.”[306]

 

     The Church’s recovery was reflected in the more frequent convening of Church Councils. If we exclude the false council of 1666-67 (of which more anon), these were genuinely free of interference from the State, and the tsar was sometimes forced to submit to them against his will. Thus a Church Council in 1621 decreed that the proposed Catholic bridegroom for the Tsar’s daughter would have to be baptised first in the Orthodox Church, and that in general all Catholics and uniates joining the Orthodox Church, and all Orthodox who had been baptised incorrectly, without full immersion, should be baptised.[307]

 

     However, seventeenth-century Russia not only displayed a rare symphony of Church and State. It also included in this symphony the People in the sense that all classes of the population took part in the Zemskie Sobory, “Councils of the Land”, which were such a striking characteristic of the period. Again, this owed much to the experience of the Time of Troubles; for, as we have seen, the People played a large part at that time in the re-establishment of lawful autocratic rule. Thus in the reign of Tsar Michael Fyodorovich, who died in 1645, all the most important matters were decided by Councils, which, like the first Council of 1613, were Councils “of the whole land” – that is, they contained representatives of all classes of the people from all parts of the country. Such Councils continued to be convened until 1689.

 

     The symphony between Tsar and People was particularly evident in judicial matters, where the people jealously guarded their ancient right to appeal directly to the Tsar for justice. Of course, as the State became larger it became impossible for the Tsar personally to judge all cases, and he appointed posadniki, namestniki and volosteli to administer justice in his name. At the same time, the Tsars always appreciated the significance of a direct link with the people over the heads of the bureaucracy; and in 1550 Ivan the Terrible created a kind of personal office to deal with petitions called the Chelobitnij Prikaz, which lasted until Peter the Great. It was also Ivan who convened the first Zemskie Sobory.

 

     The bond between Tsar and People was maintained throughout the administration. The central administrative institutions were: (a) the Prikazi, or Ministries, over each of which the Tsar appointed a boyar with a staff of secretaries (dyaki), (b) the Boyar Duma, an essentially aristocratic institution, which, however, was broadened into the more widely representative (c) Councils of the Land (Zemskie Sobory) for particularly important matters. This constituted a much wider consultative base than prevailed in contemporary Western European states.

 

     To the local administration, writes Tikhomirov,  “voyevodas were sent, but besides them there existed numerous publicly elected authorities. The voyevodas’ competence was complex and broad. The voyevoda, as representative of the tsar, had to look at absolutely everything: ‘so that all the tsar’s affairs were intact, so that there should be guardians everywhere; to take great care that in the town and the uyezd there should be no fights, thievery, murder, fighting, burglary, bootlegging, debauchery; whoever was declared to have committed such crimes was to be taken and, after investigation, punished. The voyevoda was the judge also in all civil matters. The voyevoda was in charge generally of all branches of the tsar’s administration, but his power was not absolute, and he practised it together with representatives of society’s self-administration… According to the tsar’s code of laws, none of the administrators appointed for the cities and volosts could judge any matter without society’s representatives…

 

     “Finally, the whole people had the broadest right of appeal to his Majesty in all matters in general. ‘The government,’ notes Soloviev, ‘did not remain deaf to petitions. If some mir [village commune] asked for an elected official instead of the crown’s, the government willingly agreed. They petition that the city bailiff.. should be retired and a new one elected by the mir: his Majesty ordered the election, etc. All in all, the system of the administrative authorities of the Muscovite state was distinguished by a multitude of technical imperfections, by the chance nature of the establishment of institutions, by their lack of specialisation, etc. But this system of administration possessed one valuable quality: the broad admittance of aristocratic and democratic elements, their use as communal forces under the supremacy of the tsar’s power, with the general right of petition to the tsar. This gave the supreme power a wide base of information and brought it closer to the life of all the estates, and there settled in all the Russias a deep conviction in the reality of a supreme power directing and managing everything.”[308]

 

     For "in what was this autocratic power of the Tsar strong?” asks Hieromartyr Andronicus, Archbishop of Perm. “In that fact that it was based on the conscience and on the Law of God, and was supported by its closeness to the land, by the council of the people. The princely entourage, the boyars’ Duma, the Zemskij Sobor - that is what preserved the power of the Tsars in its fullness, not allowing anyone to seize or divert it. The people of proven experience and honesty came from the regions filled with an identical care for the construction of the Russian land. They raised to the Tsar the voice and counsel of the people concerning how and what to build in the country. And it remained for the Tsar to learn from all the voices, to bring everything together for the benefit of all and to command the rigorous fulfilment for the common good of the people of that for which he would answer before the Omniscient God and his own conscience.”[309]

 

The Schism of the Old Ritualists

 

     Unfortunately, this almost ideal relationship between Tsar and people did not survive for long into the second half of the seventeenth century. Under Tsar Michael’s son, Alexis Mikhailovich, writes Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “the principle of the ‘ministry’ (prikaz) did not cease to take precedence over the principle of the ‘land’ (zemskij): instead of the healthy forces of local government, there was a badly organized bureaucracy – and that for three hundred years to come. The reign of Alexis Mikhailovich is full of rebellions: protests of the people against the voevodas and the central ministries…”[310]

 

     The most serious, large-scale and long-term rebellion was that of the so-called Old Ritualists against both the State and the Orthodox Church, and more particularly against the Orthodox idea of the Universal Empire…

 

     By the middle of the century, at a time when the principle of monarchical rule was being shaken to its foundations in the English revolution, the Russian Autocracy had acquired such prestige in the Orthodox world that even the Greeks were looking to it to deliver them from the Turkish yoke and take over the throne of the Constantinopolitan Emperor. Thus in 1645, during the coronation of Tsar Alexis, Patriarch Joseph for the first time read the “Prayer of Philaret” on the enthronement of the Russian Tsar over the whole oikoumene.[311] And in 1649 Patriarch Paisius of Jerusalem wrote to the tsar: “May the All-Holy Trinity multiply you more than all the tsars, and count you worthy to grasp the most lofty throne of the great King Constantine, your forefather, and liberate the peoples of the pious and Orthodox Christians from impious hands. May you be a new Moses, may you liberate us from captivity just as he liberated the sons of Israel from the hands of Pharaoh.”[312]

 

     As Hieromonk Gregory Lourié writes: “At that time hopes in Greece for a miraculous re-establishment of Constantinople before the end of the world [based on the prophecies of Leo the Wise and others], were somewhat strengthened, if not squeezed out, by hopes on Russia. Anastasius Gordius (1654-1729), the author of what later became an authoritative historical-eschatological interpretation of the Apocalypse (1717-23) called the Russian Empire the guardian of the faith to the very coming of the Messiah. The hopes of the Greeks for liberation from the Turks that were linked with Russia, which had become traditional already from the time of St. Maximus the Greek (1470-1555), also found their place in the interpretations of the Apocalypse. Until the middle of the 19th century itself – until the Greeks, on a wave of pan-European nationalism thought up their ‘Great Idea’ – Russia would take the place of Byzantium in their eschatological hopes, as being the last Christian Empire. They considered the Russian Empire to be their own, and the Russian Tsar Nicholas (not their Lutheran King Otto) as their own, to the great astonishment and annoyance of European travellers.”[313]

 

     Tragically, however, it was at precisely this time, when Russia seemed ready to take the place of the Christian Roman Empire in the eyes of all the Orthodox, that the Russian autocracy and Church suffered a simultaneous attack from two sides from which it never fully recovered. From the right came the attack of the “Old Ritualists” or “Old Believers”, as they came to be called, who expressed the schismatic and nationalist idea that the only true Orthodoxy was Russian Orthodoxy, and from the left – that of the westernising Russian aristocracy and the Greek pseudo-hierarchs of the council of 1666-67, who succeeded in removing the champion of the traditional Orthodox symphony of powers, Patriarch Nicon of Moscow.

 

     The beginnings of the tragedy of the lay in the arrival in Moscow of some educated monks from the south of Russia, which at that time was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. They (and Greek hierarchs visiting Moscow) pointed to the existence of several differences between the Muscovite service books and those employed in the Greek Church. These differences concerned such matters as how the word "Jesus" was to be spelt, whether two or three "alleluias" should be chanted in the Divine services, whether the sign of the Cross should be made with two or three fingers, etc.

 

     A group of leading Muscovite clergy led by Protopriests John Neronov and Avvakum rejected these criticisms. They said that the reforms contradicted the decrees of the famous Stoglav council of 1551, which had anathematized the three-fingered sign of the cross, and they suspected that the southerners were tainted with Latinism through their long subjection to Polish rule. Therefore they were unwilling to bow unquestioningly to their superior knowledge.

 

     However, the Stoglav council, while important, was never as authoritative as the Ecumenical Councils, and certain of its provisions have never been accepted in their full force by the Russian Church - for example, its 40th chapter, which decreed that anyone who shaved his beard, and died in such a state (i.e. without repenting), should be denied a Christian burial and numbered among the unbelievers.

 

     Moreover, in elevating ritual differences between the Greek and Russian Churches into an issue of dogmatic faith, the “zealots for piety” were undoubtedly displaying a Judaizing attachment to the letter of the law that quenches the Spirit. In the long run it led to their rejection of Greek Orthodoxy, and therefore of the need of any agreement with the Greeks whether on rites or anything else, a rejection that threatened the foundations of the Ecumenical Church.[314]

 

     This was the situation in 1652 when the close friend of the tsar, Metropolitan Nicon of Novgorod, was elected patriarch. Knowing of the various inner divisions within Russian society caused by incipient westernism and secularism, on the one hand, and Old Believerism, on the other, the new patriarch demanded, and obtained a solemn oath from the tsar and all the people that they should obey him in all Church matters. The tsar was very willing to give such an oath because he regarded Nicon as his “special friend” and father, giving him the same title of “Great Sovereign” that Tsar Michael had given to his father, Patriarch Philaret.

 

     The “zealots of piety” were also happy to submit to Nicon because he had been a member of their circle and shared, as they thought, their views. However, they were mistaken…

 

     “Not immediately,” writes Lebedev, “but after many years of thought (since 1646), and conversations with the tsar, Fr. Stefan [Bonifatiev], the Greek and Kievan scholars and Patriarch Paisius of Jerusalem, he had come to the conviction that the criterion of the rightness of the correction of Russian books and rites consisted in their correspondence with that which from ages past had been accepted by the Eastern Greek Church and handed down by it to Rus’ and, consequently, must be preserved also in the ancient Russian customs and books, and that therefore for the correction of the Russian books and rites it was necessary to take the advice of contemporary Eastern authorities, although their opinion had to be approached with great caution and in a critical spirit. It was with these convictions that Nicon completed the work begun before him of the correction of the Church rites and books, finishing it completely in 1656. At that time he did not know that the correctors of the books had placed at the foundation of their work, not the ancient, but the contemporary Greek books, which had been published in the West, mainly in Venice (although in the most important cases they had nevertheless used both ancient Greek and Slavonic texts). The volume of work in the correction and publishing of books was so great that the patriarch was simply unable to check its technical side and was convinced that they were correcting them according to the ancient texts.

 

     “However, the correction of the rites was carried out completely under his observation and was accomplished in no other way than in consultation with the conciliar opinion in the Eastern Churches and with special councils of the Russian hierarchs and clergy. Instead of using two fingers in the sign of the cross, the doctrine of which had been introduced into a series of very important books under Patriarch Joseph under the influence of the party of Neronov and Avvakum, the three-fingered sign was confirmed, since it corresponded more to ancient Russian customs[315] and the age-old practice of the Orthodox East.[316] A series of other Church customs were changed, and all Divine service books published earlier with the help of the ‘zealots’ were re-published.

 

     “As was to be expected, J. Neronov, Avvakum, Longinus, Lazarus, Daniel and some of those who thought like them rose up against the corrections made by his Holiness.[317] Thus was laid the doctrinal basis of the Church schism, but the schism itself, as a broad movement among the people, began much later, without Nicon and independently of him. Patriarch Nicon took all the necessary measures that this should not happen. In particular, on condition of their obedience to the Church, he permitted those who wished it (J. Neronov) to serve according to the old books and rites, in this way allowing a variety of opinions and practices in Church matters that did not touch the essence of the faith.[318] This gave the Church historian Metropolitan Macarius (Bulgakov) a basis on which to assert, with justice, that ‘if Nicon had not left his see and his administration had continued, there would have been no schism in the Russian Church.’[319]

 

     This important point is confirmed by other authors. Thus Paul Meyendorff writes, “to its credit, the Russian Church appears to have realized its tactical error and tried to repair the damage. As early as 1656, Nikon made peace with Neronov, one of the leading opponents of the reform, and permitted him to remain in Moscow and even to use the old books at the Cathedral of the Dormition. After Nikon left the patriarchal throne in 1658, Tsar Alexis made repeated attempts to pacify the future Old-Believers, insisting only that they cease condemning the new  books, but willing to allow the continued use of the old. This was the only demand made of the Old-Believers at the 1666 Moscow Council. Only after all these attempts to restore peace had failed did the 1667 Council, with Greek bishops present, condemn the old books and revoke the 1551 ‘Stoglav (Hundred Chapters)’ Council.”[320] Again Sergei Firsov writes: “At the end of his patriarchy Nicon said about the old and new (corrected) church-service books: ‘Both the ones and the others are good; it doesn’t matter, serve according to whichever books you want’. In citing these words, V.O. Klyuchevsky noted: ‘This means that the matter was not one of rites, but of resistance to ecclesiastical authority’.  The Old Believers’ refusal to submit was taken by the church hierarchy and the state authorities as a rebellion, and at the Council of 1666-1667 the disobedient were excommunicated from the Church and cursed ‘for their resistance to the canonical authority of the pastors of the Church’.”[321]

 

     All this is true, but fails to take into account the long-term effect produced by the actions of the Greek hierarchs, and in particular Patriarch Macarius of Antioch, in anathematizing the old books and practices. Early in 1656 this patriarch, together with Metropolitans Gabriel of Serbia and Gregory of Nicaea, was asked by Patriarch Nicon to give his opinion on the question of the sign of the cross. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, “during the anathemas, Makarios stood before the crowd, put the three large fingers of his hand together ‘in the image of the most holy and undivided Trinity, and said: ‘Every Orthodox Christian must make the sign of the Cross on his face with these three first fingers: and if anyone does it based on the writing of Theodoret and on false tradition, let him be anathema!’ The anathemas were then repeated by Gabriel and Gregory. Nikon further obtained written condemnations of the two-fingered sign of the Cross from all these foreign bishops.

 

     “On April 23, a new council was called in Moscow. Its purpose was twofold: first, Nikon wanted to affirm the three-fingered sign of the Cross by conciliar decree; second, he wanted sanction for the publication of the Skrizhal’. Once again, the presence of foreign bishops in Moscow served his purpose. In his speech to the assembled council, Nikon explains the reasons for his request. The two-fingered sign of the Cross, he states, does not adequately express the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation…

 

     “The significance of this council lies chiefly in its formal condemnation of those who rejected the three-fingered sign of the Cross – and, by extension, those who rejected the Greek model – as heretics. For those who make the sign of the Cross by folding their thumb together with their two small fingers ‘are demonstrating the inequality of the Holy Trinity, which is Arianism’, or ‘Nestorianism’. By branding his opponents as heretics, Nikon was making schism inevitable.”[322]

 

     Whether it made schism inevitable or not, it was certainly a serious mistake. And paradoxically, it was the same mistake as that made by the Old Ritualists. That is, like the Old Ritualists, Nicon was asserting that differences in rite, and in particular in the making of the sign of the cross, reflected differences in faith, dogmatical differences. But this was not the case, as had been pointed out to Nicon by Patriarch Paisius of Constantinople and his Synod the previous year. And while, as noted above, Nicon himself backed away from a practical implementation of the decisions of the 1656 council, and after retiring from the patriarchate seemed to lose all interest in the question, the fact is that the decisions of the 1656 council remained on the statute books. Moreover, they were confirmed – again with the active connivance of Greek hierarchs – at the council of 1667. Only later, with the edinoverie of 1801, was it permitted to be a member of the Russian Church and serve on the old books.

 

     “However,” writes Lebedev, the differences between the Orthodox and the Old Ritualists did not only come down to “differences of opinion with regard to the correction of books and rites. The point was the deep differences in perception of the ideas forming the basis of the conception of ‘the third Rome’, and in the contradictions of the Russian Church’s self-consciousness at the time.”[323] These differences and contradictions were particularly important at this time because the Russian State, after consolidating itself in the first half of the seventeenth century, was now ready to go on the offensive against Catholic Poland, and rescue the Orthodox Christians who were being persecuted by the Polish and uniate authorities. In 1654 Eastern Ukraine was wrested from Poland and came within the bounds of Russia again. But the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine had been under the jurisdiction of Constantinople and employed Greek practices, which, as we have seen, differed somewhat from those in the Great Russian Church. So if Moscow was to be the Third Rome in the sense of the protector of all Orthodox Christians, it was necessary that the faith and practice of the Moscow Patriarchate should be in harmony with the faith and practice of the Orthodox Church as a whole. That is why Nicon, supported by the Grecophile Tsar Alexis, encouraged the reform of the service-books to bring them into line with the practices of the Greek Church.

 

     The Old Ritualists represented a serious threat to the achievement of this ideal. Like their opponents, they believed in the  ideology of the Third Rome, but understood it differently. First, they resented the lead that the patriarch was taking in this affair. In their opinion, the initiative in such matters should come from the tsar insofar as it was the tsar, rather than the hierarchs, who defended the Church from heresies. Here they were thinking of the Russian Church’s struggle against the false council of Florence and the Judaising heresy, when the great prince did indeed take a leading role in the defence of Orthodoxy while some of the hierarchs fell away from the truth. However, they ignored the no less frequent cases – most recently, in the Time of Troubles – when it had been the Orthodox hierarchs who had defended the Church against apostate tsars.

 

     Secondly, whereas for the Grecophiles of the “Greco-Russian Church” Moscow the Third Rome was the continuation of Christian Rome, which in no wise implied any break with Greek Orthodoxy, for the Old Ritualists the influence of the Greeks, who had betrayed Orthodoxy at the council of Florence, could only be harmful. They believed that the Russian Church did not need the help of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and did not need to seek agreement and harmony with them; she was self-sufficient. Moreover, The Greeks could not be Orthodox, according to the Old Ritualists, not only because they had apostasised at the council of Florence, but also because they were “powerless”, that is, without an emperor. And when Russia, too, in their view, became “powerless” through the tsar’s “apostasy”, they prepared for the end of the world. For, as Fr. Gregory Lourié writes, “the Niconite reforms were perceived by Old Ritualism as apostasy from Orthodoxy, and consequently… as the end of the last (Roman) Empire, which was to come immediately before the end of the world.”[324]

 

     This anti-Greek attitude was exemplified particularly by Archpriest Avvakum, who wrote from his prison cell to Tsar Alexis: "Say in good Russian 'Lord have mercy on me'. Leave all those Kyrie Eleisons to the Greeks: that's their language, spit on them! You are Russian, Alexei, not Greek. Speak your mother tongue and be not ashamed of it, either in church or at home!"[325] Again, Avvakum announced “that newborn babies knew more about God than all the scholars of the Greek church”.[326] And in the trial of 1667, he told the Greek bishops: “You, ecumenical teachers! Rome has long since fallen, and lies on the ground, and the Poles have gone under with her, for to the present day they have been enemies of the Christians. But with you, too, Orthodoxy became a varied mixture under the violence of the Turkish Muhammed. Nor is that surprising: you have become powerless. From now on you must come to us to learn: through God’s grace we have the autocracy. Before the apostate Nicon the whole of Orthodoxy was pure and spotless in our Russia under the pious rulers and tsars, and the Church knew no rebellion. But the wolf Nicon along with the devil introduced the tradition that one had to cross oneself with three fingers…”[327]

 

     Against this narrow, nationalistic and state-centred conception of “Moscow – the Third Rome”, Patriarch Nicon erected a more universalistic, Church-centred conception which stressed the unity of the Russian Church with the Churches of the East. “In the idea of ‘the Third Rome’,” writes Lebedev, “his Holiness saw first of all its ecclesiastical, spiritual content, which was also expressed in the still more ancient idea of ‘the Russian land – the New Jerusalem’. This idea was to a large degree synonymous with ‘the Third Rome’. To a large extent, but not completely! It placed the accent on the Christian striving of Holy Rus’ for the world on high.

 

     “In calling Rus’ to this great idea, Patriarch Nicon successively created a series of architectural complexes in which was laid the idea of the pan-human, universal significance of Holy Rus’. These were the Valdai Iveron church, and the Kii Cross monastery, but especially – the Resurrection New-Jerusalem monastery, which was deliberately populated with an Orthodox, but multi-racial brotherhood (Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Lithuanians, Germans, Jews, Poles and Greeks).

 

     “This monastery, together with the complex of ‘Greater Muscovite Palestine’, was in the process of creation from 1656 to 1666, and was then completed after the death of the patriarch towards the end of the 17th century. As has been clarified only comparatively recently, this whole complex, including in itself Jordan, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Capernaum, Ramah, Bethany, Tabor, Hermon, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, etc., was basically a monastery, and in it the Resurrection cathedral, built in the likeness of the church of the Sepulchre of the Lord in Jerusalem with Golgotha and the Sepulchre of the Saviour, was a double image – an icon of the historical ‘promised land’ of Palestine and at the same time an icon of the promised land of the Heavenly Kingdom, ‘the New Jerusalem’.

 

     “In this way it turned out that the true union of the representatives of all the peoples (pan-human unity) in Christ on earth and in heaven can be realised only on the basis of Orthodoxy, and, moreover, by the will of God, in its Russian expression. This was a clear, almost demonstrative opposition of the union of mankind in the Church of Christ to its unity in the anti-church of ‘the great architect of nature’ with its aim of constructing the tower of Babylon. But it also turned out that ‘Greater Muscovite Palestine’ with its centre in the New Jerusalem became the spiritual focus of the whole of World Orthodoxy. At the same time that the tsar was only just beginning to dream of become the master of the East, Patriarch Nicon as the archimandrite of New Jerusalem had already become the central figure of the Universal Church.

 

     “This also laid a beginning to the disharmony between the tsar and the patriarch, between the ecclesiastical and state authorities in Russia. Alexis Mikhailovich, at first inwardly, but then also outwardly, was against Nicon’s plans for the New Jerusalem. He insisted that only his capital, Moscow, was the image of the heavenly city, and that the Russian tsar (and not the patriarch) was the head of the whole Orthodox world. From 1657 there began the quarrels between the tsar and the patriarch, in which the tsar revealed a clear striving to take into his hands the administration of Church affairs, for he made himself the chief person responsible for them.”[328]

 

Patriarch Nicon of Moscow

 

     This intrusion of the tsar into the ecclesiastical administration, leading to the deposition of Patriarch Nicon, was the decisive factor allowing the Old Ritualist movement to gain credibility and momentum.

 

     On becoming patriarch in 1652, as we have seen, Nicon secured from the Tsar, his boyars and the bishops a solemn oath to the effect that they would keep the sacred laws of the Church and State “and promise… to obey us as your chief pastor and supreme father in all things which I shall announce to you out of the divine commandments and laws.”[329] There followed a short, but remarkable period in which “the undivided, although unconfused, union of state and ecclesiastical powers constituted the natural basis of public life of Russia. The spiritual leadership in this belonged, of course, to the Church, but this leadership was precisely spiritual and was never turned into political leadership. In his turn the tsar… never used his political autocracy for arbitrariness in relation to the Church, since the final meaning of life for the whole of Russian society consisted in acquiring temporal and eternal union with God in and through the Church…”[330]

 

     Although the patriarch had complete control of Church administration and services, and the appointment and judgement of clerics in ecclesiastical matters, “Church possessions and financial resources were considered a pan-national inheritance. In cases of special need (for example, war) the tsar could take as much of the resources of the Church as he needed without paying them back. The diocesan and monastic authorities could spend only strictly determined sums on their everyday needs. All unforeseen and major expenses were made only with the permission of the tsar. In all monastic and diocesan administrations state officials were constantly present; ecclesiastical properties and resources were under their watchful control. And they judged ecclesiastical peasants and other people in civil and criminal matters. A special Monastirskij Prikaz established in Moscow in accordance with the Ulozhenie of 1649 was in charge of the whole clergy, except the patriarch, in civil and criminal matters. Although in 1649 Nicon together with all the others had put his signature to the Ulozhenie, inwardly he was not in agreement with it, and on becoming patriarch declared this opinion openly. He was most of all disturbed by the fact that secular people – the boyars of the Monastirskij Prikaz – had the right to judge clergy in civil suits. He considered this situation radically unecclesiastical and unchristian. When Nicon had still been Metropolitan of Novgorod, the tsar, knowing his views, had given him a ‘document of exemption’ for the whole metropolia, in accordance with which all the affairs of people subject to the Church, except for affairs of ‘murder, robbery and theft’, were transferred from the administration of the Monastirskij Prikaz to the metropolitan’s court. On becoming patriarch, Nicon obtained a similar exemption from the Monastirskij Prikaz for his patriarchal diocese (at that time the patriarch, like all the ruling bishops, had his own special diocese consisting of Moscow and spacious lands adjacent to it). As if to counteract the Ulozhenie of 1649, Nicon published ‘The Rudder’, which contains the holy canons of the Church and various enactments concerning the Church of the ancient pious Greek emperors. As we shall see, until the end of his patriarchy Nicon did not cease to fight against the Monastirskij Prikaz. It should be pointed out that this was not a struggle for the complete ‘freedom’ of the Church from the State (which was impossible in Russia at that time), but only for the re-establishment of the canonical authority of the patriarch and the whole clergy in strictly spiritual matters, and also for such a broadening of the right of the ecclesiastical authorities over people subject to them in civil matters as was permitted by conditions in Russia.”[331]

 

     From May, 1654 to January, 1657, while the tsar was away from the capital fighting the Poles, the patriarch acted as regent, a duty he carried out with great distinction. Some later saw in this evidence of the political ambitions of the patriarch. However, he undertook this duty only at the request of the tsar, and was very glad to return the reins of political administration when the tsar returned. Nevertheless, from 1656, the boyars succeeded in undermining the tsar’s confidence in the patriarch, falsely insinuating that the tsar’s authority was being undermined by Nicon’s ambition. And they began to apply the Ulozhenie in Church affairs, even increasing the rights given by the Ulozhenie to the Monastirskij Prikaz. The Ulozhenie also decreed that the birthdays of the Tsar and Tsarina and their children should be celebrated alongside the Church feasts, which drew from the Patriarch the criticism that men were being likened to God, “and even preferred to God”.[332] Another bone of contention was the tsar’s desire to appoint Silvester Kossov as Metropolitan of Kiev, which Nicon considered uncanonical in that the Kievan Metropolitan was in the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople at that time.[333]

 

     Since the tsar was clearly determined to have his way, and since he was manifesting his anger in other ways (not inviting him to state banquets, not going to church), on July 10, 1658 Nicon withdrew to his monastery of New Jerusalem, near Moscow. He compared this move to the flight of the Woman clothed with the sun into the wilderness in Revelation 12, and quoted the 17th Canon of of Sardica[334] and the words of the Gospel: “If they persecute you in one city, depart to another, shaking off the dust from your feet”.[335]. “The whole state knows,” he said, “that in view of his anger against me the tsar does not go to the Holy Catholic Church, and I am leaving Moscow. I hope that the tsar will have more freedom without me.”[336]

 

     Some have regarded Nicon’s action as an elaborate bluff that failed. Whatever the truth about his personal motivation, which is known to God alone, there can be no doubt that the patriarch, unlike his opponents, correctly gauged the seriousness of the issue involved. For the quarrel between the tsar and the patriarch signified, in effect, the beginning of the schism of Church and State in Russia. In withdrawing from Moscow to New Jerusalem, the patriarch demonstrated that “in truth ‘the New Jerusalem’, ‘the Kingdom of God’, the beginning of the Heavenly Kingdom in Russia was the Church, its Orthodox spiritual piety, and not the material earthly capital, although it represented… ‘the Third Rome’.”[337]

 

     However, Nicon had appointed a vicar-metropolitan in Moscow, and had said: “I am not leaving completely; if the tsar’s majesty bends, becomes more merciful and puts away his wrath, I will return”. In other words, while resigning the active administration of the patriarchy in view of the disobedience of his spiritual children, he had not resigned his rank – a situation to which there were many precedents in Church history. And to show that he had not finally resigned from Church affairs, he protested against moves made by his deputy on the patriarchal throne, and continued to criticise the Tsar for interfering in the Church's affairs, especially in the reactivation of the Monastirskij Prikaz.

 

     Not content with having forced his withdrawal from Moscow, his enemies – in particular, the boyars - resolved to have him defrocked, portraying him as a dangerous rebel against both Church and State - although, as Zyzykin points out, Patriarch Nicon interfered less in the affairs of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich than St. Philip of Moscow had done in the affairs of Ivan the Terrible.[338]

 

     And so, in 1660, they convened a council which appointed a patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Pitirim, to administer the Church independently without seeking the advice of the patriarch and without commemorating his name. Nicon rejected this council, and cursed Pitirim. Then the Tsar, in his efforts to gain greater support for his policies, made a fatal mistake. He invited three Greek hierarchs who were in Moscow on alms-raising missions - two patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch who had been suspended by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the defrocked former metropolitan of Gaza Paisius Ligarides, - to participate in the councils of the Russian Church. Ligarides was in the pay of the Vatican[339], but paradoxically preached a form of caesaropapism in order to ingratiate himself with the tsar and undermine the patriarch.

 

     But the State that encroaches on the Church is itself subject to destruction. Thus in 1661 Patriarch Nicon had a vision in which he saw the Moscow Dormition cathedral full of fire: “The hierarchs who had previously died were standing there. Peter the metropolitan rose from his tomb, went up to the altar and laid his hand on the Gospel. All the hierarchs did the same, and so did I. And Peter began to speak: ‘Brother Nicon! Speak to the Tsar: why has he offended the Holy Church, and fearlessly taken possession of the immovable things collected by us. This will not be to his benefit. Tell him to return what he has taken, for the great wrath of God has fallen upon him because of this: twice there have been pestilences, and so many people have died, and now he has nobody with whom to stand against his enemies.’ I replied: ‘He will not listen to me; it would be good if one of you appeared to him.’ Peter continued: ‘The judgements of God have not decreed this. You tell him; if he does not listen to you, then if one of us appeared to him, he would not listen to him. And look! Here is a sign for him.’ Following the movement of his hand I turned towards the west towards the royal palace and I saw: there was no church wall, the palace was completely visible, and the fire which was in the church came together and went towards the royal court and burned it up. ‘If he will not come to his senses, punishments greater than the first will be added,’ said Peter. Then another grey-haired man said: ‘Now the Tsar wants to take the court you bought for the churchmen and turn it into a bazaar for mammon’s sake. But he will not rejoice over his acquisition.’”[340]

 

     On December 12, 1666 Patriarch Nicon was reduced to the rank of a simple monk on the basis of patently unfounded charges, of which the most important was that “he annoyed his great majesty [the tsar], interfering in matters which did not belong to the patriarchal rank and authority”.[341]

 

     The truth was in fact the exact opposite: that the tsar and his boyars had interfered in matters which did not belong to their rank and authority, breaking the oath they had made to the patriarch upon his assuming the patriarchy.[342]

 

     Another charge made against the patriarch in the 1666 council was that in 1654 he had defrocked and exiled the most senior of the opponents to his reforms, Bishop Paul of Kolomna, on his own authority, without convening a council of bishops. But, as Lebedev writes, “Nicon refuted this accusation, referring to the conciliar decree on this bishop, which at that time was still in the patriarchal court. Entering now [in 1654] on the path of an authoritative review of everything connected with the correction of the rites, Nicon of course could not on his own condemn a bishop, when earlier even complaints agains prominent protopriests were reviewed by him at a Council of the clergy.”[343]

 

     The council also sinned in that the Tomos sent by the Eastern Patriarchs to Moscow in 1663 to justify the supposed lawfulness of Nicon’s deposition and attached to the acts of the council under the name of Patriarchal Replies expressed a caesaropapist doctrine, according to which the Patriarch was exhorted to obey the tsar and the tsar was permitted to remove the patriarch in case of conflict with him. Patriarch Dionysius of Constantinople expressed this doctrine as follows in a letter to the tsar: “I inform your Majesty that in accordance with these chapters you have the power to have a patriarch and all your councillors established by you, for in one autocratic state there must not be two principles, but one must be the senior.” To which Fr. Lev Lebedev justly rejoins: “It is only to be wondered at how the Greeks by the highest authority established and confirmed in the Russian kingdom that [caesaropapism] as a result of which they themselves had lost their monarchy! It was not Paisius Ligarides who undermined Alexis Mikhailovich: it was the ecumenical patriarchs who deliberately decided the matter in favour of the tsar.”[344]

 

     However, opposition was voiced by Metropolitans Paul of Krutitsa and Hilarion of Ryazan, who feared “that the Patriarchal Replies would put the hierarchs into the complete control of the royal power, and thereby of a Tsar who would not be as pious as Alexis Mikhailovich and could turn out to be dangerous for the Church”. They particularly objected to the following sentence in the report on the affair of the patriarch: “It is recognized that his Majesty the Tsar alone should be in charge of spiritual matters, and that the Patriarch should be obedient to him”, which they considered to be humiliating for ecclesiastical power and to offer a broad scope for the interference of the secular power in Church affairs.[345]

 

     So after several further sessions, as Zyzykin writes, “the Patriarchs were forced to write an explanatory note, in which they gave another interpretation to the second chapter of the patriarchal replies… The Council came to a unanimous conclusion: ‘Let it be recognized that the Tsar has the pre-eminence in civil affairs, and the Patriarch in ecclesiastical affairs, so that in this way the harmony of the ecclesiastical institution may be preserved whole and unshaken.’ This was the principled triumph of the Niconian idea, as was the resolution of the Council to close the Monastirskij Prikaz and the return to the Church of judgement over clergy in civil matters (the later remained in force until 1700).[346]

 

     And yet it had been a close-run thing. During the 1666 Council Paisius Ligarides had given voice to an essentially pagan view of tsarist power that had not been heard since Leo the iconoclast in the eighth century: “[The tsar] will be called the new Constantine. He will be both tsar and hierarch, just as the great Constantine, who was so devoted to the faith of Christ, is praised among us at Great Vespers as priest and tsar. Yes, and both among the Romans and the Egyptians the tsar united in himself the power of the priesthood and of the kingship.”[347]

 

     If this doctrine had triumphed at the Council, then Russia would indeed have entered the era of the Antichrist, as the Old Believers believed. And if the good sense of the Russian hierarchs finally averted a catastrophe, the unjust condemnation of Patriarch Nicon, the chief supporter of the Orthodox doctrine, cast a long shadow over the proceedings, and meant that within a generation the attempt to impose absolutism on Russia would begin again…[348]

 

Patriarch Nicon on Church-State Relations

 

     According to M.V. Zyzykin, “in Church-State questions Nicon fought with the same corruption that had crept into Muscovite political ideas after the middle of the 15th century and emerged as political Old Believerism, which defended the tendency that had established itself in life towards caesaropapism. The fact that the guardian of Orthodoxy, at the time of the falling away of the Constantinopolitan Emperor and Patriarch and Russian Metropolitan into the unia, had turned out to be the Muscovite Great Prince had too great an influence on the exaltation of his significance in the Church. And if we remember that at that time, shortly after the unia, the Muscovite Great Prince took the place of the Byzantine Emperor, and that with the establishment of the de facto independence of the Russian Church from the Constantinopolitan Patriarch the Muscovite first-hierarchs lost a support for their ecclesiastical independence from the Great Princes, then it will become clear to us that the Muscovite Great Prince became de facto one of the chief factors in ecclesiastical affairs, having the opportunity to impose his authority on the hierarchy.”[349]

 

     Patriarch Nicon corrected the caesaropapist bias of the Russian Church as expressed especially by the friend of the tsar, the defrocked metropolitan and crypto-papist Paisius Ligarides. He set down his thoughts in detail in his famous work Razzorenie (“Destruction”), in which he defined the rights and duties of the tsar as follows: “The tsar undoubtedly has power to give rights and honours, but within the limits set by God; he cannot give spiritual power to Bishops and archimandrites and other spiritual persons: spiritual things belong to the decision of God, and earthly things to the king” (I, 555).[350] “The main duty of the tsar is to care for the Church, for the dominion of the tsar can never be firmly established and prosperous when his mother, the Church of God, is not strongly established, for the Church of God, most glorious tsar, is thy mother, and if thou art obliged to honour thy natural mother, who gave thee birth, then all the more art thou obliged to love thy spiritual mother, who gave birth to thee in Holy Baptism and anointed thee to the kingdom with the oil and chrism of gladness.”[351]

 

     Indeed, “none of the kings won victory without the prayers of the priests” (I, 187).[352] For “Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and the servants of God, so that the honour accorded to them is given to God Himself.”[353] “It was when the evangelical faith began to shine that the Episcopate was venerated; but when the spite of pride spread, the honour of the Episcopate was betrayed.” “A true hierarch of Christ is everything. For when kingdom falls on kingdom, that kingdom, and house, that is divided in itself will not stand.”[354] “The tsar is entrusted with the bodies, but the priests with the souls of men. The tsar remits money debts, but the priests – sins. The one compels, the other comforts. The one wars with enemies, the other with the princes and rulers of the darkness of this world. Therefore the priesthood is much higher than the kingdom.”[355]

 

     The superiority of the priesthood is proved by the fact that the tsar is anointed by the patriarch and not vice-versa. “The highest authority of the priesthood was not received from the tsars, but on the contrary the tsars are anointed to the kingdom through the priesthood… We know no other lawgiver than Christ, Who gave the power to bind and to loose. What power did the tsar give me? This one? No, but he himself seized it for himself… Know that even he who is distinguished by the diadem is subject to the power of the priest, and he who is bound by him will be bound also in the heavens.”[356]

 

     The patriarch explains why, on the one hand, the priesthood is higher than the kingdom, and on the other, why the kingdom cannot be abolished by the priesthood: “The kingdom is given by God to the world, but in wrath, and it is given through anointing from the priests with a material oil, but the priesthood is a direct anointing from the Holy Spirit, as also our Lord Jesus Christ was raised to the high-priesthood directly by the Holy Spirit, as were the Apostles. Therefore, at the consecration to the episcopate, the consecrator holds an open Gospel over the head of him who is being consecrated” (I, 234, 235)… There is no human judgement over the tsar, but there is a warning from the pastors of the Church and the judgement of God.[357]

 

     However, the fact that the tsar cannot be judged by man shows that the kingdom is given him directly by God, and not by man. “For even if he was not crowned, he would still be king.” But he can only called an Orthodox, anointed king if he is crowned by the Bishop. Thus “he receives and retains his royal power by the sword de facto. But the name of king (that is, the name of a consecrated and Christian or Orthodox king) he receives from the Episcopal consecration, for which the Bishop is the accomplisher and source.” (I, 254).[358]

 

     We see here how far Nicon is from the papocaesarism of a Pope Gregory VII, who claimed to be able to depose kings precisely “as kings”. And yet he received a reputation for papocaesarism (which prevented his recognition at least until the Russian Council of 1917-18) because of his fearless exposure of the caesaropapism of the Russian tsar: “Everyone should know his measure. Saul offered the sacrifice, but lost his kingdom; Uzziah, who burned incense in the temple, became a leper. Although thou art tsar, remain within thy limits. Wilt thou say that the heart of the king is in the hand of God? Yes, but the heart of the king is in the hand of God [only] when the king remains within the boundaries set for him by God.”[359]

 

     In another passage Nicon combines the metaphor of the two swords with that of the sun and moon. The analogy with the sun and the moon had been used by Pope Innocent III; but Patriarch Nicon’s development of it is Orthodox and does not exalt the power of the priesthood any more than did the Fathers of the fourth century: “The all-powerful God, in creating the heaven and the earth, order the two great luminaries – the sun and the moon – to shine upon the earth in their course; by one of them – the sun - He prefigured the episcopal power, while by the other – the moon – He prefigured the tsarist power. For the sun is the greater luminary, it shines by day, like the Bishop who enlightens the soul. But the lesser luminary shines by night, by which we must understand the body. As the moon borrows its light from the sun, and in proportion to its distance from it receives a fuller radiance, so the tsar derives his consecration, anointing and coronation (but not power) from the Bishop, and, having received it, has his own light, that it, his consecrated power and authority. The similarity between these two persons in every Christian society is exactly the same as that between the sun and the moon in the material world. For the episcopal power shines by day, that is, over souls; while the tsarist power shines in the things of this world. And this power, which is the tsarist sword, must be ready to act against the enemies of the Orthodox faith. The episcopate and all the clergy need this defence from all unrighteousness and violence. This is what the secular power is obliged to do. For secular people are in need of freedom for their souls, while spiritual people are in need of secular people for the defence of their bodies. And so in this neither of them is higher than the other, but each has power from God.”[360]

 

     But Nicon insists that when the tsar encroaches on the Church he loses his power. For “there is in fact no man more powerless than he who attacks the Divine laws, and there is nothing more powerful than a man who fights for them. For he who commits sin is the slave of sin, even if he bears a thousand crowns on his head, but he who does righteous deeds is greater than the tsar himself, even if he is the last of all.”[361] So a tsar who himself chooses patriarchs and metropolitans, breaking his oath to the patriarch “is unworthy even to enter the church, but he must spend his whole life in repentance, and only at the hour of death can he be admitted to communion… Chrysostom forbade every one who breaks his oath … from crossing the threshold of the church, even in he were the tsar himself.” (I, 581).[362]

 

     Nicon comes very close to identifying the caesaropapist tsar with the Antichrist. For, as Zyzykin points out, “Nicon looked on the apostasy of the State law from Church norms (i.e. their destruction) as the worship by the State of the Antichrist, ‘This antichrist is not satan, but a man, who will receive from satan the whole power of his energy. A man will be revealed who will be raised above God, and he will be the opponent of God and will destroy all gods and will order that people worship him instead of God, and he will sit, not in the temple of Jerusalem, but in the Churches, giving himself out as God. As the Median empire was destroyed by Babylon, and the Babylonian by the Persian, and the Persian by the Macedonian, and the Macedonian by the Roman, thus must the Roman empire be destroyed by the antichrist, and he – by Christ. This is revealed to us by the Prophet Daniel. The divine Apostle warned us about things to come, and they have come for us through you and your evil deeds (he is speaking to the author of the Ulozhenie, Prince Odoyevsky) Has not the apostasy from the Holy Gospel and the traditions of the Holy Apostles and holy fathers appeared? (Nicon has in mind the invasion by the secular authorities into the administration of the Church through the Ulozhenie). Has not the man of sin been discovered - the son of destruction, who will exalt himself about everything that is called God, or that is worshipped? And what can be more destructive than abandoning God and His commandments, as they have preferred the traditions of men, that is, their codex full of spite and cunning? But who is this? Satan? No. This is a man, who has received the work of Satan, who has united to himself many others like you, composer of lies, and your comrades. Sitting in the temple of God does not mean in the temple of Jerusalem, but everywhere in the Churches. And sitting not literally in all the Churches, but as exerting power over all the Churches. The Church is not stone walls, but the ecclesiastical laws and the pastors, against whom thou, apostate, hast arisen, in accordance with the work of satan, and in the Ulozhenie thou hast presented secular people with jurisdiction over the Patriarch, the Metropolitans, the Archbishops, the Bishops, and over all the clergy, without thinking about the work of God. As the Lord said on one occasion: ‘Depart from Me, satan, for thou thinkest not about what is pleasing to God, but about what is pleasing to men.’ ‘Ye are of your father the devil and you carry out his lusts.’ Concerning such Churches Christ said: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you will make it a den of thieves’; as Jeremiah says (7.4): ‘Do not rely on deceiving words of those who say to you: here is the temple of the Lord.’ How can it be the temple of God if it is under the power of the tsar and his subjects, and they order whatever they want in it? Such a Church is no longer the temple of God, but the house of those who have power over it, for, if it were the temple of God, nobody, out of fear of God, would be capable of usurping power over it or taking anything away from it. But as far as the persecution of the Church is concerned, God has revealed about this to His beloved disciple and best theologian John (I, 403-408),… [who] witnesses, saying that the Antichrist is already in the world. But nobody has seen or heard him perceptibly, that is, the secular authorities will begin to rule over the Churches of God in transgression of the commandments of God.’ For the word ‘throne’ signifies having ecclesiastical authority, and not simply sitting… And he will command people to bow down to him not externally or perceptibly, but in the same way as now the Bishops, abandoning their priestly dignity and honour, bow down to the tsars as to their masters. And they ask them for everything and seek honours from them” (I, 193).”[363] For “there is apostasy also in the fact that the Bishops, abandoning their dignity, bow down before the tsar as their master in spiritual matters, and seek honours from him.”[364]

 

     The power of the Roman emperors, of which the Russian tsardom is the lawful successor, is “that which restraineth” the coming of the Antichrist. And yet “the mystery of iniquity is already being accomplished” in the shape of those kings, such as Nero, who ascribed to themselves divine worship.[365] The warning was clear: that which restrains the antichrist can be swiftly transformed into the antichrist himself. Even the present tsar could suffer such a transformation; for “what is more iniquitous than for a tsar to judge bishops, taking to himself a power which has not been given him by God?… This is apostasy from God.”[366]

 

     It was not only the Russian State that had sinned in Nicon’s deposition: both the Russian hierarchs and the Eastern Patriarchs had displayed pusillanimity in submitting to the pressure of tsar and boyars. But judgement was deferred for a generation or two, while the Russian autocracy restored the Ukraine, “Little Russia”, to the Great Russian kingdom, thereby taking a big step in the task of “the gathering of the Russian lands”. With the weakening of Poland and the increase in strength of the generally pro-Muscovite Cossacks under Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky, large areas of Belorussia and the Ukraine, including Kiev, were freed from Latin control, which could only be joyful news for the native Orthodox population who had suffered so much from the Polish-Jesuit yoke. Moreover, the liberated areas, albeit with some initial opposition from unia-inclined hierarchs and the Patriarch of Constantinople (who had had nominal jurisdiction over these areas for many years), were returned to the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, with Constantinople’s agreement, in 1686. This meant that most of the Russian lands were now, for the first time for centuries, united under a single, independent Russian State and Church. The Russian national Church had been restored to almost its original dimensions.

 

     As if in acknowledgement of its achievement, at the coronation of Tsar Theodore Alexeyevich certain additions were made to the rite that showed that the Russian Church now looked on the tsardom as a quasi-priestly rank. “These additions were: 1) the proclamation of the symbol of faith by the tsar before his crowning, as was always the case with ordinations, 2) the vesting of the tsar in royal garments signifying his putting on his rank, and 3) communion in the altar of the Body and Blood separately in accordance with the priestly order, which was permitted only for persons of the three hierarchical sacred ranks. These additions greatly exalted the royal rank, and Professor Pokrovsky explained their introduction by the fact that at the correction of the liturgical books in Moscow in the second half of the 17th century, the attention of people was drawn to the difference in the rites of the Byzantine and Muscovite coronation and the additions were introduced under the influence of the Council of 1667, which wanted to exalt the royal rank.”[367]

 

     Although exalted in this way, the pious tsar did not use his position to humiliate the Church. On the contrary, he acted to correct, as far as it was in his power, the great wrong that had been done to the Church in his father’s reign. Thus when Patriarch Nicon died it was the tsar who ordered “that the body should be conveyed to New Jerusalem. The patriarch did not want to give the reposed hierarchical honours. [So] his Majesty persuaded Metropolitan Cornelius of Novgorod to carry out the burial. He himself carried the coffin with the remains.”[368] Again, it was the tsar rather than the patriarch who obtained a gramota from the Eastern Patriarchs in 1682 restoring Nicon to patriarchal status and “declaring that he could be forgiven in view of his redemption of his guilt by his humble patience in prison”[369]. This was hardly an adequate summary of the situation, but it did go some of the way to helping the Greeks at least in part to redeem their guilt in the deposition of the most Grecophile of Russian patriarchs.

 

     However, Patriarch Nicon was never completely rehabilitated. Indeed, in 1676 Patriarch Joachim had convened a council which hurled yet more accusations against him.[370] It was not until after the fall of the Russian empire, at the Moscow Council of 1917-18, that the first steps towards his complete rehabilitation were undertaken...

 

The Rebellion of the Streltsy

 

     We have noted the opinion that if Patriarch Nicon had not been forced to leave his see, there would have been no Old Ritualist schism. Nor would there have been that weakening of the authority of the Church vis-à-vis the State that was to have such catastrophic consequences in the next century. And yet in the reign of the pious Tsar Theodore Alexeyevich, Patriarch Nicon was posthumously restored to his see, the Old Ritualist schism was still of small proportions, and Church-State relations were still essentially “symphonic”. Even the Monastirskij Prikaz, which Nicon had fought so hard and unsuccessfully to remove, was in fact removed in 1675. But all that changed with the death of Tsar Theodore in 1682…

 

     Protopriest Lev Lebedev writes: “He did not have a son and heir. Therefore power had to pass to the brother of the deceased, Ivan, the son of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich from his first marriage with Maria Ilyinichna Miloslavskaia. Behind him, behind Ivan Alexeyevich, there also stood his very active sister the Tsarevna Sophia. But we know that from the second marriage of Alexeis Mikhailovich with Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina there was another son, Peter Alexeyevich, who was born in 1672. In 1682 he was ten years old, while his half-brother Ivan was fifteen. The Naryshkins did not want to let their interests be overlooked, and wanted Peter to be made Tsar. A battle began between them and their supporters and the supporters of the Miloslavsky princes. The result was yet another schism, this time in the Royal Family itself… This of course elicited a time of troubles. Behind Sophia and the Miloslavskys there stood a part of the boyars, including Prince Basil Vasilyevich Golitsyn. Against them was Patriarch Joachim (at first not openly) and other supporters of the Naryshkins. A rumour was spread about them that they wanted to ‘remove’ (kill) Ivan Alexeyevich. The army of riflemen [streltsy] in Moscow rebelled. The riflemen more than once burst into the royal palace looking for plotters and evil-doers, and once right there, in the palace, before the eyes of the Royal Family, including Peter, they killed the boyars A. Matveev and I. Naryshkin. The country was on the edge of a new time of troubles and civil war. The wise Sophia was able to come to an agreement with the Naryshkins and in the same year both Tsareviches, Ivan and Peter, were proclaimed Tsars, while their ‘governess’, until they came of age, became the Tsarevna Sophia. The leader of the riflemen’s army, the very aged Prince Dolgorukov, was removed in time and Prince Ivan Andreevich Khovansky was appointed. He was able quickly to take the riflemen in hand and submit them to his will.

 

     “The Old Ritualists decided to make use of these disturbances. Protopriest Nikita Dobrynin, aptly nicknamed ‘Emptyholy’, together with similarly fanatical Old Ritualists, unleashed a powerful campaign amidst the riflemen and attained the agreement of the Royal Family and the Patriarch to the holding of a public debate on the faith with the ‘Niconians’, that is, first of all with the Patriarch himself. This debate took place on July 5, 1682 in the Granovita palace in the Kremlin in the presence of the Royal Family, the clergy and the Synclete. Nikita read aloud a petition from the Old Ritualists that the new books and rites should be removed, declaring that they constituted ‘the introduction of a new faith’. Against this spoke Patriarch Joachim, holding in his hands an icon of Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow. He was very emotional and wept. The Old Ritualists did not want even to listen to him! They began to interrupt the Patriarch and simply shout: ‘Make the sign of the cross in this way!’, raising their hands with the two-fingered sign of the cross. Then Archbishop Athanasius of Kholmogor (later Archangelsk), who had himself once been an Old Believer, with knowledge of the subject refuted ‘Emptyholy’s’ propositions, proving that the new rites were by no means ‘a new faith’, but only the correction of mistakes that had crept into the services. Protopriest Nikita was not able to object and in powerless fury hurled himself at Athanasius, striking him on the face. There was an uproar. The behaviour of the Old Ritualists was judged to be an insult not only to the Church, but also to the Royal Family, and they were expelled. Finding themselves on the street, the Old Ritualists shouted: ‘We beat them! We won!’ – and set off for the riflemen in the area on the other side of the Moscow river. As we see, in fact there was no ‘beating’, that is, they gained no victory in the debate. On the same night the riflemen captured the Old Ritualists and handed them over to the authorities. On July 11 on Red Square Nikita Dobrynin ‘Emptyholy’ was beheaded in front of all the people.

 

     “Then, at a Church Council in 1682, it was decided to ask their Majesties to take the most severe measures against the Old Ritualists, to the extent of executing the most stubborn of them through burning. And so Protopriest Avvakum was burned in Pustozersk. This is perhaps the critical point beyond which the church schism began in full measure, no longer as the disagreement of a series of supporters of the old rites, but as a movement of a significant mass of people. Now the Old Ritualists began to abuse not only the ‘Niconian’ Church, but also the royal power, inciting people to rebel against it. Their movement acquired not only an ecclesiastical, but also a political direction. It was now that it was necessary to take very severe measures against them, and they were taken, which probably saved the State from civil war.[371] Many Old Ritualists, having fled beyond the boundaries of Great Russia, then began to undertake armed raids on the Russian cities and villages. It is now considered fashionable in our ‘educated’ society to relate to the schismatical Old Ritualists with tender feeling, almost as if they were martyrs or innocent sufferers. To a significant degree all this is because they turned out to be on the losing, beaten side. And what if they had won? Protopriest Avvakum used to say that if he were given power he would hang ‘the accursed Niconians’ on trees (which there is no reason to doubt, judging from his biography). He said this when he had only been exiled by the ‘Niconians’, and not even defrocked. So if the Old Ritualists had won, the Fatherland would simply have been drowned in blood. Protopriest Avvakum is also particularly venerated as the author of his noted ‘Life’. It in fact displays the very vivid Russian language of the 17th century and in this sense, of course, it is valuable for all investigators of antiquity. But that is all! As regards the spirit and the sense of it, this is the work of a boundlessly self-deceived man. It is sufficient to remember that none of the Russian saints wrote a ‘Life’ praising himself…”[372]

 

     We must also characterise as “self-deception” the Old Ritualist practice of self-immolation. This began in 1672 with the self-immolation of 2000 people, and by 1690 20,000 had burned themselves to death - often, as Professor Barsov has demonstrated, not out of fear of persecution, but from a fanatical thought of purifying themselves through the fire.