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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Nicholas Zharkikh

1. The following shortcomings of previous research on the origin of the texts "Tale of the death in the Horde of Prince Michael of Chernihiv and the boyar Fedor" (SMF):

1.1. Insufficient attention to the chronicle versions of the SMF;

1.2. Complete disregard for the "Eulogy" by Leo Philologist.

This has led to a simplistic and sometimes misconception about the relationship between different SMF variants.

2. The classification of texts should be based on their structure, ie the composition and sequence of episodes. The similarity / difference of structure is of paramount importance in the study of the origin of texts, and the similarity / difference of individual words and phrases is insignificant.

3. There are two main structural types of SMF: long Prologue texts (RPT) and the text by Pachomius Serb (TPS). In TPS, a whole group of episodes of RPT has been moved to a new place below.

The three texts have a special structure and do not belong to the outlined types.

4. There are 4 separate works on the topic of SMF, based on the same facts, but with different ideas:

4.1. All texts of the structural type of RPT are variants of one work. Its idea is the collision of two irreconcilable principles or worlds: the firm will of King Batu encounters the same firm resistance of Michael. This clash naturally leads to the death of the martyrs.

4.2. Similarly, all texts of the structural type of TPS are variants of one other work. The reason for Michael’s death was not his firmness in the faith, but false information given to the king, as if Michael disgraced the Tatar faith. This makes the death of the martyrs somewhat accidental, although it does not affect the end result.

The main variant of the work has three versions, all of which were probably created by Pakhomije Serb himself. Dimitry Tuptalo wrote a special version of this work in the late 17th century, expanding the local Kyiv context of events and emphasizing "Russian land" and "Russian princes" throughout the text. This idea of Russian national patriotism is superfluous for the history of Michael and Fedor, but important for Dimitry.

4.3. The oldest (late 13th century) Rostov work (S-1) has a special structure and idea. Its main idea is expressed in the final prayer: the holy martyrs are asked to take special care of the Rostov princes Boris and Gleb Vasilkovich.

4.4. The eulogy of Leo Philologist (1530s) also has a special structure and a special idea. Leo showed the victory of the forces of good (Christianity), personified by Michael and Fedor, over the forces of evil (devil), personified in Batu. This victory for Leo is a turning point in the entire history of Rus’, which remained under Orthodoxy.

The magnificent rhetoric of Leo Philologist had a strong influence on the SMF as part of the Degree Book (1560 – 1563) and because of the latter – on the SMF as part of the Illustrated Chronicle (1568 – 1576).

5. All works and all their variants were created in the territory of north-eastern Russia (later the Moscow state). The number of versions of the text that existed at the same time, opens the prospect of seeking for regional versions of the SMF.

There was no local memory of Michael and Fedor in Ukraine, the first work on this topic was published in Kyiv by Dimitry Tuptal (as part of his Menaion for reading).

6. The sources for the compiling SMF are the well-known Laurentian and Hypatian chronicles – the stories about the campaign of Batu and the death of Prince Michael Vsevolodovich. Later SMF texts used later chronicles with their characteristic errors, in particular, Pachomius Serb relied on the SMF as part of the most recent chronicle of the 1460s, and Dimitry Tuptalo used the Synopsis (also the most recent historical work at the time).

Other written sources include the Bible and ancient hagiographic works. In particular, the SMF has a direct quote from the Tale of St. Boris and Gleb. Parallels to the SMF can be traced in the sufferings of St. James of Persia and St. Panteleimon. It is hoped that other hagiographic sources of the SMF will be identified.

7. Due to their relatively late origins (several decades after the event), even the oldest texts of the SMF cannot be considered as a source for the events of the mid-13th century. These oldest texts contain numerous anachronisms and use late terminology.

The authors of later revisions of ancient texts had no additional factual material and showed an increasingly poor understanding of the realities of the 13th century, making up for it with their own fantasies and rhetorical inserts.

8. The general direction of development of the texts of the SMF during the 14 – 17 centuries was to increase the volume by expanding the presentation of Christian doctrine (which was probably the most important goal of all versions of the SMF), pious dialogues, short eulogies and emotional exclamations.

It is also very clear the sharpening of anti-Tatar rhetoric, the accumulation of worse and worse abusive words addressed to the Tatars and Batu personally.

This provides good material for the history of Great Russian literature, as well as for historiography (history of views on the past) and the history of religious and political ideas.