RUSSIAN RESEARCH CENTER STUDIES
Cover: The Kurbskii-Groznyi Apocrypha: the 17th-Century Genesis of the Cover: The Kurbskii-Groznyi Apocrypha in E-DITION

Russian Research Center Studies 66

The Kurbskii-Groznyi Apocrypha

the 17th-Century Genesis of the "Correspondence" Attributed to Prince A. M. Kurbskii and Tsar Ivan IV

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

For centuries the exchange of letters between Ivan the Terrible (1530–1584) and Prince Kurbskii, Muscovy’s first notable defector, has been considered an authentic and important source for sixteenth-century Russian history. The Ivan portrayed in these letters has dominated posterity’s perception of him and his time. But the provenance of the “Correspondence” has never been properly established.

Edward L. Keenan draws on all the tools of source study and literary criticism to demonstrate that the “Correspondence” is a forgery, and in fact was composed some decades later in the seventeenth century. He concentrates on the first letter of Kurbskii, which is the earliest of the letters as well as a source for the later ones, and concludes that it was written between 1623 and 1625 by Semen Ivanovich Shakhovskoi—a conclusion that will necessitate the re-evaluation of sixteenth-century Russian history as it has previously been written by scholars throughout the world.

Keenan discusses at length the implications of his discovery and sketches directions for future study, which will include a reconstruction of our conception of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century political thought, of Ivan’s personality—indeed of the nature of his reign—and of the evolution of Muscovite state ideology.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, by Lindsay Chervinsky, from Harvard University Press

Why You Should Participate in an (Online) Book Club

Online book clubs can be a rewarding way to connect with readers, Lindsay Chervinsky discovered, when she was invited to join one to discuss her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Since my book was published in April 2020, I’ve discovered that my work appeals to three main audiences. First, the general readers who are enthusiastic about history, attend virtual events, and tend to support local historic sites. Second, readers who are curious about our government institutions and the current political climate and are looking for answers about its origins. And third, history, social studies, and government teachers