It spread to the Moscow court when the grand prince engaged the two clerical converts to serve in Kremlin churches - possibly as sympathisers of his plan for the secularisation of church lands.27 Elena of Moldavia, Ivan III's daughter-in-law, and state secretary Fedor Kuritsyn were the highest-ranking 'heretics', and for some years the grand prince refused to root out the heresy with violence, despite an inquisitorial campaign launched against these heretics in 1487 by Archbishop Gennadii.
The fate of the heretics was intimately tied to the politics of the day: the conflict over church landholdings and the struggle for succession between Ivan III's grandson Dmitrii (son of Elena of Moldavia) and his son Vasilii, born to Ivan's second wife Sophia Palaiologina, niece of the last Byzantine emperor. The synod of 1490 dealt leniently with the heretics, and this first trial, which accused the heretics of refusing to venerate Moscow and Rostov saints, has been seen as having a distinctly anti-Novgorodian bias.28 A later trial led by Vasilii in 1504 sentenced the heretics to death or life banishment, with Elena conveniently dying in prison in 1505.
In broad terms Muscovite culture remained, culturally and to a large extent politically, a medieval society throughout the period under discussion and, as one might expect, its cultural monuments of written literature, visual art, architecture and notated music are intimately bound up with the purposes and expressions of religion. The historiography, personal and diplomatic correspondence, and legal-administrative texts that remain to us are also coloured by Orthodox Christianity. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to imagine that all cultural production was of a pious nature. A vast quantity of oral literature (epic byliny, historical songs, lyrics, spells, riddles, etc.) was developed and circulated by the skomorokhi,29 sometimes enjoying court favour (under Ivan IV for example), but always frowned upon by the church.
Relatively few western theological influences penetrated pious culture during this period, and for the most part the Russian elite remained suspicious of both Protestantism and Catholicism. There were exceptions: the Novgoro-dian Archbishop Gennadii, in addition to his interest in inquisitorial methods of controlling heresy, employed a Dominican monk for several years and used
27 J. L. I. Fennell, Ivan the Great of Moscow (London: Macmillan, 1961), 327.
28 Skrynnikov 'Ecclesiastical thought', 36.
29 See Z. I. Vlasova, Skomorokhi ifol'klor (St Petersburg: Aleteiia, 2001); R. Zguta, Russian minstrels: a history of the Skomorokhi (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978).
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