The main source of our knowledge of ancient Russia is medieval chronicles. In the archives, libraries and museums there are several hundred, but in fact this is one book written by hundreds of authors, starting work in the 9th century and ending it seven centuries later.
First you need to determine what is the record. In a large encyclopaedic dictionary, the following is written: “The historical work, the type of narrative literature in Russia from the 11th to the 17th centuries, consisted of weather records, or represented monuments of complex composition – free vaults.” The chronicles were all-Russian (“The Tale of Bygone Years”) and local ( “Novgorod Chronicles”).
Chronicles were preserved mainly in the late lists. The first began to study the annals of VN Tatishchev. Having conceived to create his grandiose “Russian History”, he turned to all the chronicles known in his time, found many new monuments. After VN Tatishchev,
studying the chronicles, specifically “The Tale of Bygone Years,” A. Schlesser was engaged. If VN Tatishchev worked in breadth, combining additional information of many lists in one text and, as it were, following the footsteps of the ancient chronicler-procurer, Schlesser worked in depth, revealing in the text a lot of notes, errors, inaccuracies. Both research approaches, with all their external differences, had a similarity in one: in science the idea of a non-original form was fixed, in which the Tale of Bygone Years reached us. This is the great merit of both remarkable historians.
The next major step was made by the famous archaeographer P. M. Stroev. Both VN Tatishchev and A. Shlepzer imagined the “Tale of Bygone Years” as the creation of one chronicler, in this case Nestor. PM Stroev expressed an entirely new view of the chronicle, as on a set of several earlier chronicles, and all the chronicles that had come down to us began to be counted as such. Thus, he opened the way not only to a more correct from a methodical point of view study of surviving chronicles and arches
that did not reach us in its original form.
Extraordinary was the next step taken by AA Shakhmatov, who showed that each of the chronicles, from the 11th century to the 16th century, is not an accidental conglomeration of diverse chronicle sources, but a historical work with its own political position dictated by the place and creation time. So he linked the history of chronicle with the history of the country.
There was a possibility of mutual verification of the history of the country, the history of the source. The data of the source study did not become an end in itself, but the most important help in reconstructing the picture of the historical development of the whole people. And now, starting to study a particular period, first of all they try to analyze the question of how the annals and their information are related to reality. A great contribution to the study of the history of Russian chronicle was made by such outstanding scientists as VM Istrin, AN Nasonov, AA Likhachev, MP Pogodin, and many others. There are two main hypotheses concerning the “Tale of Bygone Years”. First we consider the hypothesis of AA Shakhmatov.
The history of the emergence of the initial Russian chronicle attracted the attention of more than one generation of Russian scientists, beginning with VN Tatishchev. However, it was only Academician AA Shakhmatov who managed to resolve the issue of the composition, sources and editions of The Tale at the beginning of this century. The results of his research are set forth in the works “Discoveries of the Ancient Russian chronicles” (1908) and “The Tale of Bygone Years” (1916). In 1039, a metropolis was founded in Kiev, an independent organization.
At the court of the Metropolitan, the Ancient Kiev Vault was created, brought to the year 1037. This collection, suggested AA Shakhmatov, arose on the basis of Greek translated chronicles and local folklore material. In Novgorod in 1036г. The Novgorod Chronicle is being created, on the basis of which, in 1050, the ancient Novgorod arch arises. In the year 1073. monk of the Kiev-Pechersky Monastery Nestor the Great, using the oldest Kiev arch, composed the first Kiev Pechersky arch, which included historical events that occurred after the death of Yaroslav the Wise (1054). On the basis of the first Kiev-Pechersky and Novgorod arch, the second Kiev-Pechersky arch is created.
The author of the second Kiev-Pechersky arch supplemented his sources with materials of Greek chronographs. The second Kiev-Pechersky arch served as the basis for the “Tale of Bygone Years”, the first edition of which was created in 1113 by the monk of the Kiev-Pechersky Monastery Nestor, the second edition by the abbot of the Vydubitsky Monastery by Sylvester in 1116 and the third by an unknown author in the same monastery in 1118 year.
Interesting refinements of the hypothesis of AA Shakhmatov were made by the Soviet researcher DS Likhachev. He rejected the possibility of existence in 1039. The ancient Kiev arch and linked the history of the appearance of the chronicle with the concrete struggle that the Kiev state led in the 30-50s of the 11th century against the political and religious claims of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantium sought to turn the church into its political agents, which threatened the independence of the Russian state. The struggle between Rus and Byzantium reaches a special intensity in the middle of the 11th century.
The political struggle of Russia with Byzantium passes into an open armed clash: in 1050, Yaroslav sends troops to Constantinople, led by his son Vladimir. Although Vladimir’s campaign ended in defeat, Yaroslav in 1051g. elevates the throne of the Russian priest Hilarion to the metropolitan. This further consolidated and consolidated the Russian state. The researcher suggests that in the 30-40 years in the 11th century, according to the order of Yaroslav the Wise, a record was made of oral folk historical legends about the spread of Christianity.
This cycle served as the future basis of the annals. DS Likhachev suggests that “Tales of the initial spread of Christianity in Russia” were recorded by the scribes of the Kiev Metropolitanate at St. Sophia Cathedral. Obviously, under the influence of the Easter chronological tables, the Paschalia, compiled in the monastery. Nikon betrayed his narrative in the form of weather records – for ~ years ~. In the created around 1073g. the first Kiev-Pechersky arch Nikon included a large number of legends about the first Russians, their numerous campaigns to Tsargrad. Thanks to this code 1073g. has acquired an even more anti-Byzantine orientation.
In “Legends of the distribution of Christianity” Nikon gave the chronicles a political poignancy. Thus, the first Kiev-Pechersky arch was the expression of people’s ideas. After the death of Nikon, the work on the chronicles continued uninterruptedly within the walls of the Kiev-Pechersky Monastery and in 1095 a second Kiev-Pechersky arch appeared. The second Kiev-Pechersky arch continued propaganda of the ideas of the unity of the Russian land, initiated by Nikon. In this vault, princely internecine strife is also sharply condemned.
Further in the interests of Svyatopolk on the basis of the second Kiev-Pechersky arch, Nester creates the first edition of The Tale of Bygone Years. Under Vladimir Monomakh, Hegumen Sylvester, on behalf of the Grand Duke in 1116, compiles the second edition of The Tale of Bygone Years. This edition came to us as part of the Laurentian Chronicle. In 1118 in the Vydubitsky Monastery an unknown author created the third edition of The Tale of Bygone Years. It was brought to 1117g. This edition was best preserved in the Ipatiev Chronicle. In both hypotheses there are many differences, but both these theories prove that the beginning of the chronicle in Russia is an event of great importance.