Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Alexander Schmemann

6. Russian Orthodoxy (41 pages)













From Schmemann's A History of the Orthodox Church
Page 10

We know by what dubious means Moscow achieved its hegemony in Russia. The blood of Michael of Tver, tortured by the Horde in 1319 after being slandered by Yuri of Moscow, was shed at almost the same time as Metropolitan Peter of Moscow was blessing the beginning of that city’s historic rise to power. In addition, the transfer of the metropolitan to Moscow caused dissatisfaction in southwest Russia, and the Church’s obvious alliance with Moscow resulted in a large number of disputes, bribery from Constantinople, and competition between metropolitans, which gradually weakened the moral authority of the metropolitan who had stood so high in Kiev. While St. Peter, Theognost, and St. Alexei — the first metropolitans of Moscow — still maintained this authority, after them we see its gradual effacement as compared to that of the Grand Prince.

Dimitri Donskoi, who was the first to defeat the Tatars and to weaken their grip on Russia, simply selected persons acceptable to himself for positions of Church authority. A characteristic example was his support of Archimandrite Mityai, imprisoning Bishop Dionisi for refusing to ask the blessing of that priest, who had not yet been consecrated bishop. When Metropolitan Cyprian arrived in Moscow from Kiev on the instructions of the patriarch of Constantinople, who wished to restore ecclesiastical unity in Russia, Dimitri simply drove him out, as he drove out Pimen after him, who had managed by bribery to be consecrated in Constantinople.

In the Kievan period and at the beginning of the north Russian period the Church had been independent of the state.

Therefore it could demand of those bearing the princely authority submission to certain principles of idealism in their personal as well as their political lives: faithfulness to their agreements, peacefulness, and justice. St. Theodosius had fearlessly called the prince a usurper, and Metropolitan Nikifor could declare to the princes: “We are installed by God to keep you from bloodshed.” This freedom of the Church was possible primarily because the Russian Church was not yet national or “autocephalous,” but acknowledged that it was part of the Greek Church. Its supreme hierarch lived in Constantinople, which was inaccessible to the encroachments of the local princes. Even Andrew Bogoliubsky submitted to the ecumenical patriarch.[52]


Previous Page / First / Next
Schmemann, A History of the Orthodox Church: Table of Contents

Cf.  Books for getting closer to Orthodox Christianity ||| Orthodox Images of the Christ ||| Byzantium : The Alternative History of Europe ||| Greek Orthodoxy - From Apostolic Times to the Present Day ||| A History of the Byzantine Empire ||| Videos about Byzantium and Orthodoxy ||| Aspects of Byzantium in Modern Popular Music ||| 3 Posts on the Fall of Byzantium  ||| Greek Literature / The New Testament

On Line Resources for Constantinople * On the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Greek Forum : Make a question / Start a Discussion 

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Learned Freeware

Reference address :