century onwards, while funeral rites (including the prayers chanted at the graveside) prescribed for monastic communities became widespread practice in Rus.91 This may well reflect the frequency with which monks conducted funeral services for laypersons, itself a mark of their involvement with secular society. The wills and funeral rites form a backdrop to the claims of charitable works, miracles, and near-universal veneration made for a number of holy men by their hagiographers from the turn of the fourteenth century.
These holy men were riding waves of socio-economic change that were, as stressed above, peculiar to Rus. They lacked direct experience of monasticism in the eastern Mediterranean world. None the less, three of the most prominent, Sergii of Radonezh, Kirill of Beloozero and Stefan of Perm, looked not only to the Desert Fathers and other early exponents of monasticism but also to contemporary practices on Mount Athos, in Constantinople and in affiliated centres of spiritual excellence. While trusting in their own direct access to God, they sought partly to compensate for instruction by living sages with accurate liturgical texts, recently written manuals of spiritual instruction, and more theoretical works, paying close attention to the 'workshop of virtue' and corresponding with its products. Sergii of Radonezh spent years in a forest 'desert' well to the north of Moscow, founding a house for himself and one brother, but attracting others, reportedly against his will. Eventually he became abbot of the Trinity monastery in Moscow. Anxious to impose discipline as the means to piety, he insisted on ascetic communal living and looked to Byzantium for a model. He repeatedly sought the patriarch's counsel, and obtained an authoritative letter from a patriarch, probably Kallistos, berating those monks who objected to the rigours of cenobitic ways.92 At the same time Sergii's personal qualities earned him respect from a wide range of persons, including Grand Prince Dmitrii, who sought his blessing before breaking with Muscovite precedent and making a military stand against the Tatars at Kulikovo in 1380. His standing was such that a Byzantine embassy of 1377 successfully sought his good offices with Grand Prince Dmitrii in an attempt to have Kiprian accepted as metropolitan in succession to Aleksii. Among the gifts which the embassy brought him was a small gold cross containing particles of the
91 D. H. Kaiser, The growth of the law in medieval Russia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 153-5; Franklin, Writing, society and culture, 181, 184-6; A. A. Musin, Khristianizatsiia novgorodskoi zemli v IX-XIV vekakh: pogrebal'nyi obriad i khristianskie drevnosti [Archaeologica Petropolitana Trudy 5] (St Petersburg: Institut istorii mate-rial'noi kul'tury, 2002), 75-6.
92 'Poslanie konstantinopol'skogo patriarkha', in RIB vi, cols. 187-90; Meyendorff, Byzantium, 134 n. 62.
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