SHADRINA A.V. The Old Believers’ “Schism” in the Don Cossack Host Region in the Early 20th Century According to the Clergy Records of the Don and Novocherkassk Diocese


Alla V. Shadrina

Candidate of Sciences (History), Researcher,

Federal Research Centre The Southern Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Chekhov St, 41, 344006 Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. This article represents an analysis of the state of the Old Believers’ “schism” in the Don Cossack Host Region (Province or Oblast) in the early 20th century: determining the Old Believers’ concords existing in the region, as well as their numbers and localization.

Methods and materials. The empirical base of this article consists of a complex of archival documents, the clergy records, which represent the clerical documentation of the churches of the Don and Novocherkassk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. The member churches, as well as the numbers of the Old Believers and their belonging to different concords, were recorded in those documents on an annual basis. This is the first time that the statistical component of the complex of those sources is introduced into the scientific operation. The methodological base of this article is represented by the principles of scientific objectivism and systematicity, which are traditional for historical science. Based on those principles, we could reveal and correctly determine the complex of historical sources, while their systematic study provided the opportunity to make conclusions on the state of the Old Believers’ community of the Don Region in the early 20th century, to reveal the Old Believers’ concords (persuasions), which were popular in the Don Cossack Host Region in the period under examination, and to determine their localization peculiarities).

Analysis and results. As a result of the analysis, it was found out that in the territory of the Don Cossack Host Region there lived representatives of both concords: those who recognized the hierarchy (“Popovtsy”, i.e. priesthood followers) and those who did not (“Bespopovtsy”, i.e. not following priesthood). The former were represented by “Beglopopovtsy”, i.e. fugitive priesthood followers, and the Austrian (Belaya Krinitsa) concord, with the latter divided into “Okruzhniki”, i.e. followers of the 1862 Epistle, and “Neokruzhniki”, i.e. those who did not recognize it. The “Bespopovtsy”, along with a large group whose membership was not provided, were divided into “Pomortsy” (coastal church followers), “Pomortsy-Brachniki” (coastal church followers recognizing the marriage), and “Sredniki” (Wednesday tradition followers. As compared to the results of the First General Census of the Russian Empire, the Old Believers’ population had decreased in the region, still comprising more than 5% of the total number of the local residents. The major part of the Old Believers was localized in the First and the Second Don Okrugs (districts). Most representatives of all concords lived in the Cossack yurt (small settlement) in the stanitsa (Cossack village) of Nizhny Chir. The characteristic feature of the Old Believers of the Don Region was their conflict-free living side by side with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, with co-believers, and with those following different concords.

Key words: Don Cossack Host Region, Old Believers’ “schism”, localization of the Old Believers’ population, Beglopopovtsy, Belokrinitskaya Hierarchy, Bespopovtsy, Pomortsy.

Лицензия Creative Commons

The Old Believers’ “Schism” in the Don Cossack Host Region in the Early 20th Century According to the Clergy Records of the Don and Novocherkassk Diocese by Shadrina A.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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