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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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What the studios
on the Galician-Volyn chronicle show

Nicholas Zharkikh

This chapter, which I did not plan when starting work in 2018, I am writing during the war between Russia and Ukraine (June 2, 2022 at 8:33 am).

Our valiant army drove the Pushkinists away from Kyiv, and now the war reminds us of itself only by the distant wail of air-raid sirens (for example, today at 5:45). But I always remember , that Ukraine loses from 60 to 100 soldiers every day in this struggle.

Our boys are dying every day, my friends and acquaintances are risking their lives every day – scientists who went to defend Ukraine. Behind their backs, I, a private of the sofa centuria, can continue my work…

All researchers agree that the Hypatian chronicle consists of several parts. They also agree that the Kyiv chronicle ends in 1199 and continues until 1292 with the Galicia-Volyn chronicle (GVL). There is also agreement that the GVL is divided into "Galician" and "Volyn" parts (although there are disagreements about the boundaries of the parts).

Then a general disagreement begins – everyone with everyone.

After reading the introductions to these three books, I felt bitter disappointment. Three authors (teams) studied the same ancient text, studied professionally, using the entire arsenal of methods available today, studied for many years – and as a result did not come to any agreement. On every important issue, the opinions of one author differ from those of the other two, no one agrees with anyone on anything, and no one can convince anyone of anything. Subjectivism in its purest form is the summation of 160 years of studies.

If Mykola Kotlyar saw in GVL records made shortly after the events themselves (therefore, of primary source value), the team of authors of the last book simply destroys this source value to nothing: GVL is not the story of a competent person, but a historical novel (at least in that part, which contains the episodes we need), written using several ancient chronographic works. The mass of details that give the GVL concreteness and convincingness are borrowed from these chronographs.

If, based on such conclusions, I reject the GVL records from my consolidated table, then the entire construction of our 13th century history will completely collapse and the very subject of my work will disappear – due to the lack of sources. I do not dare to take such a radical step. I prefer to reject all the latest studies I have read and stick to the old opinion: GVL is a text that is relatively close in time to the described events and is a valuable source, although not flawless.

Already after this chapter was completed, I learned about another monograph on the topic:

Jusupoviǰć A. The chronicle of Halych-Volhynia and historical collections in medieval Rus’. – Leiden: Brill, 2022.

Fortunately for me, the author and Brill Publishers have made sure that the full text of the book is not available online, so I can breathe a sigh of relief and ignore this book. I can only repeat after Bulgakov’s Master: "Well, haven’t I read others?"