The article considers the peculiarities of the Russian Orthodox episcopate’s perception of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in the early twentieth century. This issue has recently become the subject of heated discussions, inspired, on the one hand, by the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and, on the other hand, by the orthodox community and some politicians, manipulating the pro-monarchist and ultraconservative rhetoric. There have been used various sources in order to investigate this problem, such as the diary of Metropolitan Arsenius (Stadnitsky), the memoirs of Protopresbyter of the Military and Naval Clergy Georgy Shavelsky, the records of other prominent clerics, and some official documents, including the Holy Synod’s edicts. In addition, some sources used in the research come from the private archive of Archbishop Nikon (Rozhdestvensky), including his letters, diary records, and public appeals. Based on the analysis of the wide range of sources, it is established that at the beginning of the 20th century the Russian senior churchmen did not question the autocrat’s right to secular authority. However, alongside this, in view of the Manifesto of 17 October 1905, the desacralization of the autocracy led to the change of the perception of the autocrat’s right to ecclesiastical authority. Therefore, the discrepancy of views on these rights between the tsar and bishops turned the senior churchmen away from the monarchy in February 1917.

About the authors

Ivan O Mishin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Author for correspondence.
20 Myasnitskaya St., Moscow, 101000, Russia


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