Solovki seat: the church against power

Year of publication: 2009

Country Russia

Rumors about the Nikonian church reform dispersed quickly throughout Russia. In 1657, new liturgical books were received in the distant, but famous all over Russia, Solovetsky monastery. The local elders attentively familiarized themselves with the package from the capital, sealed the new books into a strong chest, and, as if nothing had happened, continued the divine service according to old traditions.

In 1665, Moscow realized that the monks refused to accept reform. At first the tsar and the patriarch tried to act with persuasion, and after the failure they turned to economic sanctions. The fiefdoms and property of the monastery on the mainland were confiscated, but it was not penetrated by stubborn loyalty to the old traditions of the monks. Then in 1668 a military team went to the islands. The archers began the siege of the monastery on June 22. The first attempt to storm the success did not bring: the monks greeted them with a volley of guns in the monastery. The archers were forced to begin a siege that lasted for several years.

At first the siege was rather nominal. Only in summer did archers appear on the islands, and they wintered on the mainland. On the ice, Pomors sympathizing with the faithful prisoners helped the monks to replenish their supplies of provisions and ammunition. In the summer it all started on a new one.

In 1673, the patience of Alexei Mikhailovich burst. The new voivod Ivan Mescherinov was ordered to begin bombing the monastery. This did not affect the hardness of Solovkov’s defenders, but their political views: in 1675 they stopped offering prayers to the health of the “tsar-Herod”, but they didn’t open the gate to the archers. Despite the fact that the army suffered heavy losses in the shootings, Meshcherinov left the siege for the winter and began to dig under the walls. The monks were starving, but did not give up and successfully brought down the digs.

True, hunger and fear of punishment made the most unstable escape from the monastery. On January 18, 1676, Chernets defector Feoktist gave Mescherinov an underground passage from the moat of the Onufrievskaya church to the inner White Tower and suggested that it was necessary to walk along it an hour before dawn, when the guard changing the walls. On February 1, the archers broke into the monastery. Caught unawares defenders could not give a fitting rebuff. Most of them fell in a fierce battle. Of the half-thousand solovts, only 60 survived. They were betrayed by fierce executions. The monks and elders were quartered, thrown alive in a hole, burned with fire, they froze alive, hung on hooks by the ribs. 14 survivors of the cruel harassment were exiled to distant monasteries. After that, the new abbot, with the new monks sent from Moscow, re-consecrated the monastery and began to worship under the new rites.


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