The theory “Moscow is the third Rome” served as the semantic basis of the Messianic ideas about the role and significance of Russia, which took shape during the period of the rise of the Moscow principality. The Moscow grand dukes who claimed the title of a king were relied upon by the successors of the Roman and Byzantine emperors. Maria Molchanova understands the intricacies of the first official national ideology.
The theory of "Moscow - the Third Rome" served as the semantic basis of the messianic ideas about the role and importance of Russia, which were formed during the formation of the Russian centralized state. Since 1869, there is a well-established version that this concept was explicitly stated for the first time in the epistles of the elder of Pskov, Elizarov Monastery Philotheus, to Grand Duke of Moscow Vasily III Ivanovich. This version is firmly established in the mass consciousness and is reflected in works of art. “God bless and listen, pious king, to the fact that all the Christian kingdoms agreed on one thing, that the two Romes fell, and the third is, the fourth does not happen” - this formulation from the letter of Philothea became a classic expression of the essence of the concept.
Fragment from the Epistle of the Elder of Pskov Elizarov to the Monastery of Philotheos to the Grand Duke of Moscow Vasily Ivanovich
The author of the theory "Moscow - Third Rome" was a Josephite in its ideological orientation. His doctrine developed and refined the main Josephite ideas about the nature of royal power, its purpose, relations with subjects and church organization. About the author himself, the monk (or, perhaps, the abbot) of the Pskov Yelizarov Monastery of Philothea, little is known. He writes about himself using the traditional self-deprecating formula: “a rural man studied letters, but he didn’t read the Hellenistic borzosti, but he did not read rhetorical astronomy, nor did he visit any wise philosophers”. The surviving note from a contemporary tells us that Filofey lived permanently in the monastery (“that old man was not descended from the monastery”) and was an educated person (“we know the wisdom of words”). An unknown biographer also notes Philopheus’s courage and his impartiality, thanks to which he “showed a lot of daring to the sovereign ... boyars and governors”, fearlessly exposing their abuses. He formulated his political theory in letters to the Pskov governor, M. G. Munekhin, and the Grand Dukes Vasily Ivanovich and Ivan Vasilyevich.
Patriarch Gennady explains to Sultan Mehmet II the foundations of Orthodox dogma
The most detailed in Philothea developed the question of the significance of the legitimate royal power for the whole Russian land. In the Message to the Grand Duke Vasily Ivanovich, he raises the dynastic genealogy of the Russian princes to the Byzantine emperors, indicating that he should rule according to the commandments, which began with great great-grandfathers, among whom are called “the great Constantine ... Blessed Saint Vladimir and the great and God's chosen Yaroslav and the rest ... is their root to you. " The high notion of royal power is confirmed by the requirements of unconditional subordination to it by its subjects. According to Philotheus, all his subjects give a vow to the sovereign his will to "keep and commandments to be kept in everything," and if someone will have to endure the "royal great punishment," then, perhaps, only to express his sadness by "bitter lamentation and true repentance" . The duties of the sovereign imputed concern not only for his subjects, but also for churches and monasteries. Spiritual authority is subject to secular, however, leaving the right of spiritual shepherds to "speak the truth" to those in high authority. He, like his predecessors, insists on the need for legitimate forms of realization of power. So, he advises Ivan Vasilyevich to live righteously and to ensure that his subjects live according to the laws.
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The main idea of the concept is the succession of the succession of the Christian sovereign empire from the Byzantine emperors, who in turn inherited it from the Roman ones. The greatness of ancient Rome, the powerful growth and vast size of its territory, which accommodated almost all countries and peoples known to the then world, a high degree of culture and success of romanization gave rise to the conviction in contemporaries of perfection and firmness of the order created (Rome is an eternal city, urbs aeterna). Christianity, taking from the pagan Rome the idea of a single eternal empire, gave it further development: in addition to political tasks, the new Christian empire as a reflection of the kingdom of heaven on earth, set itself religious goals; instead of one sovereign, two were secular and spiritual. The one and the other are organically inextricably linked; they do not exclude, but complement one another, being the two halves of one indivisible whole.
Sophia Paleolog - The Last Byzantine Princess
From the second half of the 15th century, a significant change took place in the views of Russian society. The Florence Union of 1439 rocked the authority of the Greek Church at the very root; the charm of Byzantium as the keeper of the precepts of Orthodoxy disappeared, and with it the right to political supremacy. The subsequent fall of Constantinople in 1453, understood as God's punishment for falling away from faith, further strengthened the new view. But if the “Second Rome” perished, like the first, then the Orthodox kingdom has not yet perished with it. New Rome is Moscow - liberated from the Tatar yoke of uniting scattered minorities in a large Moscow state; the marriage of Grand Duke Ivan III to Sophia Paleolog, the niece (and heiress) of the last Byzantine emperor; success in the East (the conquest of the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates) - all this justified in the eyes of contemporaries the idea of Moscow’s right to play such a role. On this basis, the custom of coronation of Moscow princes, the adoption of the royal title and the Byzantine coat of arms, the establishment of the patriarchate. The emergence of well-known legends is also connected with this: about barmas and the royal wreath, received by Vladimir Monomakh from the Byzantine emperor Konstantin Monomakh; about a white hood. This cowl, as a symbol of church independence, was handed over to Emperor Constantine the Great by Pope Sylvester, and the successors of the latter handed it to the Patriarch of Constantinople; from him he passed on to the Novgorod rulers, and then to the Moscow metropolitans.
The fall of Constantinople in 1453
It is worth noting that the astrological predictions about a new global flood supposedly coming in 1524 - more precisely, about the upcoming global change (“change”), which was interpreted as a flood, became the immediate pretext for writing the message of Philotheus. This prediction came to Russia from the West; it was published in an astrological almanac published in Venice at the end of the 15th century and reprinted many times. Horror gripped the cities of Europe, and the most enterprising even began to build arks. These predictions came to Russia, bringing concern to the church and government circles. Naturally, it was necessary to refute them. It is clear that the “Third Rome” is not only and not so much Moscow, as a kingdom, whose function is to serve as a guarantor of the duration of the earthly history of mankind. This function does not arise as a pretense, but as a result of a specific historical situation, naturally existing conditions: the loss of political independence by all Orthodox Slavic and Balkan kingdoms, the fall of Byzantium, the “falling away” of the first (“great”, “old”) Rome. And the function, the mission of the Orthodox Tsar, is to take care of Orthodox Christians, protecting the Church and providing external conditions for a pious life.
Visualization of the concept “Moscow is the third Rome”
In the 16th-17th centuries, the idea was spread in the church book, the letters of Philotheus were copied in numerous manuscript collections, while the editors, compilers and copyists sometimes and strictly reproduced the author’s text, and sometimes allowed “liberties”, additions , the content of which seemed to them particularly important and interesting. Neither Vasily III, nor Ivan the Terrible has ever referred to the concept of Philotheus. Ivan IV loved another work - “The Legend of the Princes of Vladimir” - about the origin of the Russian princes from the emperor Augustus. It was he who began to divide the universe, and some Prus received part of it, from which the Prussian land originated, and his distant descendant was Prince Rurik, the founder of the Rurik dynasty, and later the Princes Vladimir. These ideas were used in a number of cases in the ideological foundation of Ivan IV's foreign policy.