Ringing in the New Year: Notices about some recent books of interest.

Daniel Waugh's picture

The descriptive book notices below are not formal reviews but rather quick summary information about the publications, even if I interject some personal opinions, in one case at some length. The books are ones in Russian which I have recently acquired; thus the selection makes no claim to “cover the field” of important publications in the broadly conceived “Early Slavic” field. 

Daniel Waugh

Shoreline, WA, USA

13 January 2023


Included here are the following:

  • Sbornik statei, posviashchennykh Iuriiu Dmitrievichiu Rykovu (1946-2020)
  • Knizhnye tsentry Drevnei Rusi. Rostovo-Iaroslavskaia zemlia
  • Piotrovskaia. “Letopisets vskore konstantinopol’skogo patriarkha Nikifora” v slaviano-russkoi pis’mennoi traditsii
  • Bibikov. Vizantiiskie istochniki po istorii drevnei Rus i Kavkaza
  • Drevneishie gosudarstva Vostochnoi Evropy. 2021 god
  • “Bratu nashemu Ludvigu”: Perepiska russkikh tsarei s koroliami Frantsii v kontse XVI-nachale XVIII v.
  • Beliakov. Simeon Bekbulatovich: primer adaptatsii vykhodtsev s Vostoka v Rossii XVI v.
  • Opisanie dokumentov moskovskih prikazov. Prikaznye dela starykh let 1644 god.
  • Ganzeiskie dokumenty po istorii Novogorda i Pskova. 1392-1409 gg.
  • Novgorod i Novgorodskaia zemlia. Istoriia i arkheologiia. Materialy XXXV nauchnoi konferentsii
  • Gus’kov, Kochegarov, Shamin. Russko-turetskaia voina 1686-1700 godov.
  • Prichernomor’e v Srednie veka. Vyp. XI.
  • Kradin Nikolai Nikolaevich. Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’. K 60-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia.
  • Otchet S. M. Dudina o poezdkakh v Sredniuiu Aziiu v 1900-1902 gg.


Sbornik statei, posviashchennykh Iuriiu Dmitrievichiu Rykovu (1946-2020). Otv. sost. A.  V. Deduk. M.: Drevlekhranilishche, 2021. 450 pp. + 8 pp. b/w photos. ISBN 978-5-93646-412-6.

I regret not having received this volume, which contains a range of valuable essays, before writing a short essay to honor Iurii Dmitrievich Rykov that is scheduled to appear soon in the journal Slověne. My comments here are based on a still preliminary acquaintance with the book.

Commemorative volumes for important scholars generally appear on the occasion of round-number birthdays.  The book here had been planned for Iurii Dmitrievich’s 60th in 2006. As the editors explain, for “various reasons” it was not then published, nor was a second effort to do so in 2011 successful. In 2016, there was an agreement with the publisher that it would then appear on the occasion of the honorees 70th birthday, but again, due to financial problems, the book was delayed. Sadly, Iu.D. died of complications from COVID in 2020; so the book we now have is a posthumous tribute on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The essays in the book thus were completed at various dates, beginning in 2006, some of them by distinguished senior scholars (S.O. Shmidt, A.L. Khoroshkevich, O.V. Tvorogov) who, alas, are no longer with us.

Iurii Dmitrievich’s contributions may not be well known to many who work in the Early Slavic field.  His early studies of the History attributed to Prince Kurbskii have recently been reissued (with the publication of his kandidat dissertation) in Kniaz’ Kurbskii i oprichnina Ivana Groznogo (M.: Kvadriga, 2021). Much of his subsequent career was in the Manuscript Division of the Russian State Library (RGB, formerly GBL), where he participated in a number of archaeographic expeditions to collect old manuscripts and books, and was a major contributor to the descriptions of collections under then then head of the division, S.V. Zhitomirskaia.  In the opening essay here on Iu.D.’s life and career, Iu.V. Ankhimiuk summarizes those scholarly achievements, and pulls no punches in describing the politically charged upheaval in the division (inter alia, involving the dismissal of Zhitomirskaia) which ultimately would force Iu.D. out after his decades of service. Personal histories of the scholars we admire are indeed relevant for our appreciation of what they could or could not accomplish.

I will not attempt to list here the full table of contents (a partial list of the 30 essays may be found at: http://www.hamlet.ru/?view=item&id=34614, but the book is currently not listed on the Drevlekhranilishche website). As is appropriate given Iu.D.’s professional interests, the focus here is on manuscript study and text publication. Any student of Muscovite culture and its legacy should find material of interest. The book contains Iu.D.’s bibliography of 229 scholarly publications, a generous selection of photos from his personal collection (most of them previously published by him in a blog on-line), and an index of geographic names.


Knizhnye tsentry Drevnei Rusi. Rostovo-Iaroslavskaia zemlia. [Otv. red. S.A. Semiachko]. SPb.: Izd-vo. “Pushkinskii Dom”, 2022. 528 pp. + 36 pp. color illustrations. ISBN 978-5-91476-133-9.

The tenth volume in this irregularly published series (the most recent previous one appeared in 2014) is indeed welcome, focusing as it does on the book culture and related iconographic monuments of the Rostov-Iaroslavl’ region.  Previous volumes in the series, devoted to several of the most important centers of medieval Rusian book culture, may be be accessed (the articles all on-line) from the website of the Division of Old Russian Literature in Pushkinskii dom (http://odrl.pushkinskijdom.ru/Default.aspx?tabid=1948). One of the distinctions of this series is that it includes often monograph-length studies, not subject to the space limitations imposed by most scholarly journals and Festschriften. There are thirteen literary and iconographic studies, opening with A.G. Mel’nik’s article arguing on the basis of the 15th-century material for the importance of the Rostov-Iaroslavl’ region as a major center of early Rusian book production. (Gail Lenhoff will be interested that he disputes, pp. 43-44, her recent analysis of origins of the Tale about Peter, the tsarevich ordynskii.) Several articles deal with iconography and the relationship of the images to specific hagiographic texts. Three esssays will be of interest for students of Nil Sorskii and his legacy. In addition, there are two articles on scribal practice, the most forward-looking of them a collectively written piece relating to innovative new methods of studying manuscript inks which may eventually contribute a great deal to codicological studies. As always, the production values of these books are first-rate; the color plates are of excellent quality. Presumably eventually this volume will become freely available on the Pushkinskii dom website.


E[lena] K[onstantinova] Piotrovskaia. “Letopisets vskore konstantinopol’skogo patriarkha Nikifora” v slaviano-russkoi pis’mennoi traditsii. Spb.: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2021. 240 pp. ISBN 978-5-86007-982-3.

This book is an excellent reminder of how there is still much to be learned from the analysis “well known” early Slavic texts, and how work begun decades ago (as the author makes clear in her introduction explaining her first research on the subject directed by N.A. Meshcherskii) now comes to fruition even if it cannot answer all the outstanding questions. As she points out, understandably the more substantial Byzantine historical texts that were translated into Slavic have received more careful attention than the short ones. Patriarch Nicephoros, an opponent of the iconoclasts who was active in the late 8th and early 9th centuries, compiled two such short chronicles, one of which has been edited and translated into English by Cyril Mango. The second of these is the one which is known from its translation in various redactions in some 56 early Slavic manuscripts. The focus of Piotrovskaia’s study is to classify the versions, for which she provides a description of the manuscripts, and the publication from single exemplars of the various redactions (leaving to others the publication of manuscript variants). Her textual appendix occupies roughly the last third of this book.  In addition to establishing the redactions, she discusses the possible date when the Slavic translation(s) first appeared, in the process examining evidence about the knowledge of Nicephoros’ text in works such as the Izbornik of 1073 and the Kormchaia kniga. This analysis so far suggests that the Izbornik references derive from an acquaintance with a Greek original (known to the Bulgarian bookman who produced its source); so the earliest date for the translations which appear in the Russian manuscript tradition are later.  Obviously there will continue to be scholarly disagreement about some of these issues. For a generalist interested in the Byzantine heritage in early Rus, the book has much to offer by way of its review of earlier scholarship, and it opens the door to more careful consideration of the short historical texts, frequently found in manuscript miscellanies, which were an important part of the book culture.


M[ikhail] V[adimirovich] Bibikov. Vizantiiskie istochniki po istorii drevnei Rus i Kavkaza. Novaia Vizantiiskaia biblioteka. Issledovaniia. SPb.: Aleteiia, 2022. 318 pp. ISBN 978-5-89329-150-6.

Even though there is no indication here of its earlier appearance, this book is an unaltered reprint of the author’s monograph which first appeared in Drevneishie gosudarstva na territorii SSSR. Materialy i issledovaniia. 1980 god (M.: Nauka, 1981): 5-151, and was subsequently reprinted in 1999. The editor of the 1981 edition, V.T. Pashuto, reassured readers that Bibikov’s work “is based on Marxist-Leninist methodology and contains critical analysis of pre-soviet and foreign bourgeois historiography” (p. 3). Presumably this was because, unless I have missed something, there is no citation of the Marxist classics in the notes. Another explanation may be that the eminent Byzantinist A.P. Kazhdan supervised Bibikov’s kandidat dissertation defended in 1976, the basis for the published book, but had recently emigrated to the United States. Subsequently Bibikov was the compiler and editor of Byzantinorossica. Svod vizantiiskikh svidetel’stv o Rusi (2 vols., M., 2004, 2009), the first volume of which was the subject of a detailed critical review (by D.V. Kashtanov in Scrinium. Т. 2: Universum Hagiographicum. Mémorial R. P. Michel van Esbroeck, s. j. (1934–2003) / Ed. par B. Lourié et A. Mouraviev [2006]: 340-364). One of the criticisms of Bibikov’s work was his frequent failure to cite important recent scholarship. This then might raise the question of whether his Vizantiiskie istochniki, which focuses on the historiography of the study of the relevant Byzantine sources, merits yet another reprint, based as it is on publications and research no more recent than four decades ago. Surely there is more to be learned now from the scholarship which has appeared since then. Bibikov has had a prominent career among Russian Byzantinists (for an up-to-date summary of his career and list of publications, see https://pashuto.ru/names/bibikov). Among his monographs is a substantial volume on the Byzantine prototype for the 1073 Izbornik Sviatoslava. He is one of the members of the editorial board of Vizantiiskaia biblioteka which has included this reprint volume.


Drevneishie gosudarstva Vostochnoi Evropy. 2021 god. Vostochnaia Evropa i mir islama. K iubileiu Tat’iany Mikhailovny Kalininoi. Izd. 2-e, pererabotannoe i dopolnennoe. Otv. redaktory E.V. Litovskikh, E.A. Mel’nikova, B.E. Rashkovskii. M.: Universitet Dmitriia Pozharskogo, 2021. 872 pp. ISBN 978-5-91244-289-6; ISSN 1560-1382.

Now entering its fifth decade of publication, this annual continues to be one of the most valuable and widely ranging sources of recent scholarship on medieval East European history. The tables of contents for all of the volumes to date may be found at https://dgve.igh.ru/issues?locale=ru. The volume here, the next most recent one to appear, is the most substantial yet. Its first two of three sections honor the distinguished Arabist Tat’iana Mikhailovna Kalinina, a bibliography of whose published work from 1974-2020 is on pp. 839-855.  Over the years she has made significant contributions to the study of the Islamic sources for the history and cartography of Eastern Europe. A selection of her previously published articles (many from earlier volumes of Drevneishie gosudarstva; others from less readily accessible publications) is on pp. 8-336, their value enhanced by corrections and emendations since they had first appeared. The next section of the book (pp. 337-616) contains 18 Festschrift articles honoring her, a number of of them relating to Khazar studies (one of Kalinina’s special areas of interest); others analyzing Byzantine, Islamic and Scandinavian sources; two relating to the Muscovite period: one on Islamic lexemes in Russian translations, and the other on relations with the Crimea in the 1590s. The third section of the book opens with a short article by A.V. Podosinov translating verses by the Byzantine scholar Maximus Planudes with evidence about the discovery of Ptolemy’s Geography in 1295.

The final contribution in this imposing book (pp. 622-838) is the publication for the first time of Anatolii Petrovich Novosel’tsev’s 1959 kandidat dissertation, Goroda Azerbaidzhana i Vostochnoi Armenii v XVII-XVIII vv. As A.V. Akopian explains in his introduction to the work, Novosel’tsev’s study was a pioneering one that retains its value for its methodology and results but remained largely unknown to later scholars studying urbanization in Transcaucasia and Iran, a subject which to a considerable degree, at least in Russian scholarship, has been influenced by I.P. Petrushevskii’s generalizing book published in 1949 and since reprinted (Ocherki po istorii feodal’nykh otnoshenii v Azerbaidzhane i Armenii v XVI-nachale XIX v.). Novosel’tsev was renowned for his linguistic ability in all of the relevant languages for study of the region; he had a distinguished career in which he contributed to the history of early Rus and to Khazar studies. Why his kandidat dissertation never appeared as such in book form is not clear, though likely the explanation lies in his questioning some of the standard Marxist periodization of stages of feudal development.

The essays in this volume of Drevneishie gosudarstva are all provided with short English resumės, the Russian titles in the bibliographies have been translated into English, and the captions to the (granted small and b/w) illustrations of Islamic maps and related material also translated.


“Bratu nashemu Ludvigu”: Perepiska russkikh tsarei s koroliami Frantsii v kontse XVI-nachale XVIII v. [Sostaviteli: A. Berelovich, S.M. Kashtanov et al.; Otv. red. S.M. Kashtanov, L.V. Stoliarova]. Moskva/Berlin: Direktmedia Pablishing, 2021. 264 pp. ISBN 978-5-4499-1491-0.

One always opens with anticipation a new publication bearing the name of Sergei Mikhailovich Kashtanov. In many ways, this volume does not disappoint, but there are some caveats… The publication of the originals of important diplomatic documents, where they have not all previously been printed both in facsimile and in diplomatic transcription is certainly welcome. The book offers 17 official letters of the French kings to the tsars (based on the originals in RGADA, f. 93) and 9 letters of the tsars to the French kings (based on the originals in the French foreign affairs archives). The period covered is from the the late 16th century down through the 1730s—that is, from the inception of formal diplomatic relations between Russia and France through the French mediation that facilitated the end of the Russian war against the Ottoman Empire in the time of Empress Anna Ioannovna. The French kings’ letters for the most part were published or excerpted more than a century ago, though presumably not meeting current scholarly standards.

In addition to these letters (the earliest of which is from 1595), there are several letters of Henri II and Henri III Valois (dated 1555, 1574, 1580 and 1583), which are published here with careful annotation from copies in the Austrian and Polish archives. Oddly, the preface to the book is silent regarding the inclusion of this material; however, for the context, see the first analytical essay (by S.M. Kashtanov et al.), pp. 14-15. Presumably because the original of a letter Louis XIV wrote in response to a Russian embassy in 1681 has not survived—it was rejected by the Russian ambassadors for what they claimed was the incorrect rendering of the tsar’s titles, though they preserved a Latin translation of it—it is not mentioned in the book and has not been included here. (See the archival inventory [fol. 4r-v] for RGADA, f. 93, op. 1, 1681 g., d. 2.)

Accompanying the documentary publication are three essays on specific periods within the broader chronology of early Russo-French relations: a helpful survey of the earliest exchanges; an essay on the circumstances around the correspondence in 1687; and a lengthy analysis (by O.S. Kashtanova) of the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739. The editors state that the material testifies to the recognition of the emergence of Russia as a European power and “undoubtedly will contribute to the creation of a positive image of Russia in the contemporary world” (p. 8).

The intent here is not to provide a full history of early Russo-French relations, a project that would require the study of the largely unpublished diplomatic files. The emphasis is on the formalities of communication and written forms of diplomatic documentation, where the royal letters illustrate best scribal practice. Despite this emphasis, unfortunately, the somewhat muddy black-and-white photographs of the originals hardly do justice to the documents, and one would wish for close-up images of some of the seals, which, the editors indicate, are of some interest. The letters generally are on large-format parchment or paper; the pictures, while full-page in size, are approximately 1/4 the size of the original documents and thus, at least for many of the French letters, even with a magnifying glass, would challenge a diligent reader who might wish to appreciate the calligraphy and read from the original. The artistically decorated Russian letters, using a range of pigments, would leap off the page if printed on art paper and in color in the quality we often get now in current Russian publications.  However, “Direktmedia Pablishing” [sic] has not done the job.  Presumably it was a blessing to the excellent scholars who worked on this project that they managed to get the book printed at all.

To complement the facsimile illustrations, the editors have provided detailed descriptions of the manuscripts, but this of itself leaves open some important questions which are not addressed. In particular for early Russo-French relations (this is true for any treatment of the “emergence” of Russia in European diplomacy), one wonders about translation. The preface indicates that one virtue of this edition is its inclusion of drafts, copies and translations of the letters which illustrate the work in the Russian and French chanceries and diplomatic practice from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Indeed, there are copies and translations, but no effort to explain what they tell us. For a long time, the Ambassadorial Chancery (Posol'skii prikaz) had but limited resources for translation from French. Confronted with the reality that foreign governments often indicated they had no one to translate Russian, the makers of Russian foreign policy began to supply diplomats with Latin translations of the tsar’s letters, and often, in order to check on the accuracy of the letters from the foreign monarch, would receive (or make) a Latin translation. By the time of Aleksei Mikhailovich, preserved are what appear to be the contemporary Latin versions of the French letters, but they have not been included in this book. Moreover, as the descriptions of the archival files indicate, attached to many of the original French letters are translations into Russian (or commentaries on the content of the letters). At least for the earliest letters, these Russian texts were produced not at the time the letters were first received; rather, they are the work of translators or secretaries in the College of Foreign Affairs in the 18th century. In some instances, we have two different 18th century translations. For whatever reason, a number of them are the work of Martyn Nikiforovich Sokolovskii, who worked in the College of Foreign Affairs in the second half of the 18th century and also copied the original texts. He must have been considered an expert on French and published a popular grammar of French that went through several editions.  The Russian translations and summaries of the 18th century are the ones printed here along with the diplomatic transcriptions of the originals. One is left to wonder how the Russian government dealt with the earliest missives of the French kings before French became one of the languages of the Russian elite.

We can be grateful for the appearance of this book, especially if it might serve as the catalyst for publication of the other documentation concerning early Russo-French relations, not least in importance being the ambassadorial reports (stateinye spiski). 


A[ndrei] V[asil’evich] Beliakov. Simeon Bekbulatovich: primer adaptatsii vykhodtsev s Vostoka v Rossii XVI v. SPb.: Nestor-Istoriia, 2022. 408 pp. ISBN 978-5-4469-1890-4.

My acquaintance with the work of the prolific Andrei Beliakov is primarily from his studies of the Ambassadorial Chancery (Posol’skii prikaz) and its translators. However, his serious scholarship also includes studies of the late Chingisids who entered Russian service and joined the ranks of the Muscovite elite as a result of Russian expansion to the east and south in the 16th century.  A decade ago, Beliakov wrote a long article on one of the most intriguing of these individuals, Sain-Bulat bin Bekbulat, better known by his Christian appellation, Simeon Bekbulatovich. His career included ruling the client khanate of Kasimov, the apparent designation by Ivan IV as the “Grand Prince of All Russia”, the appointment as prince of Tver’, and ended as the monk Stefan.

This substantial book is the most comprehensive treatment of its hero since a 19th-century publication by N.V. Lileev. Beliakov adduces here some new documentation (copies of the recently discovered documents are in an appendix) and devotes considerable attention to the remains of material culture that might be associated with Simeon, but readily admits that the source base for writing about Simeon is inadequate to document a full-scale bibliography. So his approach is to contextualize his hero on a canvas that includes discussion of some of his contemporary Chingisid emigres and how they came to be integrated into Russian society. I expect to learn a great deal from this volume.


Opisanie dokumentov moskovskih prikazov. Prikaznye dela starykh let 1644 god. Podgotovil A.V. Antonov. M.: Drevlekhranilishche, 2022. 522 pp. ISBN 978-5-93646-426-3.

This is the sixth volume in a welcome detailed inventory of the archival deposits in RGADA, f. 141 (Prikaznye dela starykh let) inaugurated in 1994. For a good summary in English explaining the contents of that fond, see the preface by Nancy Shields Kollmann, who was one of the responsible editors for the first volume compiled by N.P. Voskoboinikova (Opisanie drevneishikh dokumentov arkhivov moskovskikh prikazov XVI-nach. XVII v.v. [RGADA f. 141, Prikaznye dela starykh let] [M.: “Arkheograficheskii tsentr”, 1994]: xi-xiv). The current volume is the third compiled by Anton Vladislavovich Antonov. His previous volumes, for 1641 and 1642-43 appeared in 2021. Most of the material here relates to the financial administration of the Ustiug and Novgorod chetverti, whose activity extended into Siberia, but the range of material is much broader than just concern over revenue. A good many of the documents were produced under the purview of the Ambassadorial Chancery and pertain to foreign residents in Muscovy and events in border regions. The colossal amount of work it has taken to describe the material can be appreciated from statistics. Fond 141 contains some 22,000 documents. The more than 100 deposits for 1644 include approximately 12,000 folios and some 3550 separate headings for individual documents. Antonov’s descriptions are detailed enough to serve as source evidence even short of a scholar’s ability to access the entire documents. The value of the book is the greater for its personal name and geographic indexes.


Ganzeiskie dokumenty po istorii Novogorda i Pskova. 1392-1409 gg. Sostavlenie, podgotovka izdaniia, predislovie i kommentarii: P.V. Lukin, S.V. Polekhov, E.R. Skvairs. M.-SPb.: Nestor-Istoriia, 2021. 264 pp. + 8 color plates. ISBN 978-5-4469-2044-0.

This selection of 63 documents dating between the Peace of Niburov in 1392 and the Novgorod-Hanse treaty of 1409 has been guided by a number of criteria (see pp. 19-21), the primary emphasis being to include material which sheds light on the internal administration and life of Novgorod (and to a lesser degree, Pskov). As the editors point out, the most common sources for Novgorod history (starting with the Russian chronicles) often are silent on aspects of the city’s history which can be best documented from the Hanse materials. A planned second volume will cover from 1409-1417; a new edition of the Novogorod treaties with the Hanse (to replace the to date standard one produced by S.N. Valk in 1949) is also underway. Most of the documents are from the Hanse archive now preserved in Tallinn; some are from the archive in Riga. While the older publication series of Hanse materials include these documents (and many have been reproduced in two recent volumes by M.B. Bessudnova), for various reasons those editions are unsatisfactory: inaccurate in transcriptions, dating, translation etc.  The current project is to provide, according to the best archival and textual practice, accurate transcription of the Middle Low German (Mittelnierderdeutch) originals, new translations, and updated commentary on terminological and historical issues. The result will be of value not only for historians of Novgorod and the Hanse but also for the work of historical linguists. The book is provided with a descriptive chronological listing of the documents; name, geographical and subject indexes, and 8 pp. of excellent color illustrations.


Novgorod i Novgorodskaia zemlia. Istoriia i arkheologiia. Materialy XXXV nauchnoi konferentsii, posviashchennoi 80-letiiu A.S. Khorosheva. Velikii Novgorod, 26-28 ianvaria 2021 g. Vypusk 35. Otv. red. E.A. Rybina. Velikii Novgorod: Novgorodskii muzei-zapovednik, 2022. 248 pp.

The annual conferences which are the basis for the volumes in this series are perhaps the best way to stay abreast of the most recent discoveries in Novgorod archaeology  and history. Most of the earlier volumes in the series appeared in modest, small-format editions, whereas this one is in large format, with clear black-and-white illustrations. It is an appropriate tribute to Aleksandr Stepanovich Khoroshev (1941-2007), whose career encompassed, first of all, Novgorod archaeology and (not without controversy) political aspects of church history and the veneration of saints. The first section of the book contains 13 articles summarizing the results of excavations in the city in 2020. The 8 articles in the second part of the book include a range of topics from numismatics to the visual reconstruction of medieval Novgorod buildings, with much of the material also based on archaeological evidence from the wider region. All the articles include summaries in English.


A[ndrei] G[ennad’evich] Gus’kov, K[irill] A[leksandrovich] Kochegarov, S[tepan] M[ikhailovich] Shamin. Russko-turetskaia voina 1686-1700 godov. M.: “Russkoe slovo”, 2022. 528 pp. ISBN 978-5-533-02732-8.

Since this substantial and important book is not yet officially out (though in final form, its appearance imminent), these comments are limited as a kind of preview for readers to anticipate what it will offer. The authors, amongst the most accomplished historians of Muscovy, have mined extensively archival material—especially, for military affairs, from RGADA, f. 210 (Razriadnyi prikaz) and for diplomacy from several of the foreign affairs deposits. As they explain, the effort here is not to provide a detailed account of every event in the long war, but to move beyond the traditional focus mainly on the unsuccessful Crimean campaigns of the late 1680s and then the successful Azov campaigns of the mid-1690s, an emphasis that has derived in part from perceptions about a “Petrine divide” in the periodization of the end of the 17th century. There is much more to be learned about both of those events, but also about the broader aspects of the preparation for the war and the strategic considerations which invite an examination of policy and accomplishment in the preceding, intervening and subsequent years. A re-examination of the Golitsyn campaigns of the 1680s emphasizes that there was impressive degree of preparation for them. There is scrupulous analysis of the flow of intelligence and news and its impact on decision-making.  Of particular interest for me is the chapter entitled “Voina i ideologiia: rasprostranenie informatsii i prezentatsiia sobytii v publichnom prostrantstve”. Many important questions are left for further study, one being to document to what extent the Russian campaigns contributed to the successes of the Holy League on other fronts.


Prichernomor’e v Srednie veka. Pod red. S.P. Karpova. Vyp. XI. (Trudy Istoricheskogo fakul’teta MGU). SPb.: Aleteiia, 2021. 338 pp. ISBN 978-5-00165-374-5.

This volume of an ongoing and valuable series was prepared in anticipation of the 21st International Congress of Byzantinists. It contains four substantial contributions plus a short obituary (for M.F. Tiepolo). Three of the essays are in Russian (here just the translated titles): “Polemical Letters of Pope Gregory the Great Concerning the ‘Ecumenical’ Title of the Patriarch of Constantinople” [an extensively annotated Russian translation of selected letters based on the critical edition of the originals by D. Norberg]; “Archaeological Evidence of the Residence of Italian Merchants in the City Area of Golden Horde Azak Outside the Borders of Venetian and Genoese Tana”; “Finds of Byzantine Coins of the 14th Century in the City Area of Azov”. The fourth contribution is a 230-page descriptive and bibliographic reconstruction and reference guide by Rudolf Stefec for the official records of the Empire of Trebizond, “Die Regesten der Herrscher von Trapezunt, 1204-1461.” It includes an index of incipits and a general index (personal and geographic names; subjects). It will remain a fundamental resource for future study of this important outpost of Byzantium that lived beyond the fall of Constantinople.


Kradin Nikolai Nikolaevich. Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’. K 60-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia. Sostavitel’ N.A. Kliuev. Vladivostok: IIAE DVO RAN, 2022. 140 pp. ISBN 978-5-6045470-3-8.

The genre of this little volume is a popular one in Russia, highlighting the personal and professional activities of distinguished scholars. Typically, the biography may be written by a colleague; in this case, the essay is autobiography, a good reminder of how personal histories of scholars are essential for an appreciation of professional interests and publication.  Nikolai Nikolaevich Kradin, a sibiriak, now a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences based in Vladivostok, may not be a familiar name to many who work in the “Early Slavic” field. I happen to have had the privilege of translating and publishing some of his work in The Silk Road. He is one of the most prolific contributors to scholarship on early nomadic empires, not only for his interpretive studies of nomadic polities but also for his participation in and leadership of archaeological expeditions. Already at age 60, his list of publications numbers more than 550 articles and more than a dozen books. Some of the work is co-authored; in recent years, his studies have appeared in English. He has been a visiting scholar at a number of institutions outside of Russia, serves on numerous editorial boards, and much more.  All of this is recorded here, in a chronology of key moments in his career, and in the extensive bibliographic listings. The book includes good quality color pictures from his personal archive, starting with early family photos and including then illustrations from the field work, and a lot of the standard images of him with colleagues.


Otchet S.M. Dudina o poezdkakh v Sredniuiu Aziiu v 1900-1902 gg. S fotografiiami S.M. Dudina. [Podgotovka teksta, vstupitel’naia stat’ia, prim. T.G. Emel’ianenko]. M.: Fond Mardzhani, 2021. 559 pp. ISBN 978-5-6040378-4-3.

In our era when colonial expansion of empires and “colonial ethnography” are frequently the subject of harsh criticism, to honor the achievements of Russian scholars and ethnographers a century or more ago in their studies and recording of the cultures of areas such as Central Asia may be looked on askance. However, while subject to new interpretation, the materials they collected are still essential for any effort to understand the region which was as yet little affected by the impositions of the “modernizing” colonial regime. Among the most important participants in the Russian scholarly enterprise in Central Asia was Samuil Martynovich Dudin (1863-1929), whose contributions have tended to be overshadowed by the work of other Russian explorers and academics.

Dudin was an artist and documentary photographer, as such accompanying the expeditions organized by the eminent orientalists V.V. Bartol’d and N.I. Veselovskii in the 1890s. Anticipating the opening of the new Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg, Radlov, its director, commissioned Dudin to undertake expeditions to Central Asia in 1900-1902 to obtain artefacts for its collection and document their provenance. On his return, Dudin wrote up his report (the text published here), obviously using detailed diary notes, which, however, have not been preserved. Even though he was not trained in ethnographic field work, Dudin did a remarkable (and arguably, for the time, objective) job of recording pertinent data.  He returned with some 5000 artefacts and took nearly 2000 photographs, in almost all cases documenting exactly the circumstances in which they were acquired. He had a particular interest in the decorative arts and tended to focus on the “Sarts” in their urban settings, where, due to his extended stays, he was often able to obtain information other outsiders missed (for example, documenting womens’ domestic environments). However, he also documented the culture of groups such as the nomadic Kyrgyz.

The publication here of his report is thus a valuable addition to the other accounts we have by explorers of Central Asia. A generous and well-produced selection of his photos is included, all of which confirm the excellence of his work (a selection may be viewed at https://collection.ethnomuseum.ru/entity/OBJECT?query=Дудин). I know no better images of the peoples and cultures of Central Asia from the same period. Most of his collections are now in the Russian Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg. The book contains an informative introduction to Dudin’s work by T.G. Emel’ianenko and indexes of geographic names and architectural monuments.


Dear Daniel, again, thank you very much for these helpful overviews! I am glad, we can catalogue your book notices here at H-EarlySlavic.
Since you reviewed the Russian books: just out of curiosity - how difficult did it become now to order and ship the books from Russia to the US? Or do you work mostly with the e-versions?