Start page

Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

Personal site


Lawrence Muller (1581)

Nicholas Zharkikh

Courland German Lawrence Muller (advisor of Polish king Stefan Batory) in 1585 published in Frankfurt-am-Main book «Kurtze und wahrhaffte Beschreibunge, welche massen dieser jetzregiereder Konigin Polen Stefanus der Namens der Erste zum Regiment kommen» (Short and true description how currently ruling Polish king Stephen 1st came to power). It covers events 1576 – 1584 biennium, ie the rule of S.Batory.

L.Muller personally visited Kyiv in 1581. His primary interest was to find the body of the Roman poet Ovidio, which allegedly was transported to Kyiv. Muller searched for it, but found no trace. His description of Kyiv very short and does not contain any microtoponyms. About st. Barbara he wrote:

In one niche [inside the church, whose name has not submitted by L.Muller] lies the body of a young girl, beautiful and nice to look at, with blond long hair, covered with precious little transparent canvas, her body completely intact and even now you can look at and touch all members. Locals believe that this is St. Barbara, and whether it coincides with her history, the reader may find himself and conclude [Mytsyk Ju.A. . – Scientific Notes of Kiev-Mohyla Academy, 2003, v. 21, p. 59].

This also is the first note of eyewitness about Kyiv relics of st. Barbara. Muller described them in great detail, excellent state of preservation in a rather damp and cool climate Kiev clearly tells us that the relics were mummified relatively recently (in my guess – in the 16th century). In my view, the phrase "her body completely intact" completely denies the severed head, which is an essential feature of historical Barbara.

But Muller gave no attention to this; as a true son of his time – an atheist and rationalist – he claimed historical approvement of feasibility relics stay in Kyiv. At the time, no legends about the origin of these relics had been created – we shall consider the formation of this "historical justification" in following chapters.

Fear first impressions – it is usually correct, says the proverb. So in our case L.Müller's impression was right…