define and contain the institutions and expressions of Orthodox Christianity in the secular terms of Enlightenment thought that reached its apogee during the reign of Catherine the Great. Comparing herself to her great predecessor, Catherine saw herself as completing Peter's institution building and, soon after gaining power, expropriated ecclesiastical lands. While the tsarina's actions were justified as a means of solving the state's growing fiscal problems, the confiscation of church property symbolised the diminished political and economicpower of Russian Orthodoxy. In the course of a century, schism, abolition of the patriarchate, institution of a secular administrative apparatus and loss of property left weakened and disorientated church leaders searching for opportunities to reinstate the faith's lost public prestige and independence. The nineteenth century saw a gradual restoration of Orthodoxy's public authority, beginning with inclusion in the proto-nationalistic trinity that became the slogan of Tsar Nicholas I's reign - Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality. This famed trinitarian maxim of spiritual, secular and ethnic qualities of Russian identity, coined in the early 1830s, represented administrative nostalgia and a response to liberal and revolutionary movements in continental Europe more than actual reality. At a time when Russians and ethnic minorities within the empire were becoming interested in their own linguistic, folkloric and religious heritages, this equation expressed a strong defence of monarchy and its two main pillars of support.2
The impact of Orthodox Christianity on Russian history and its place in the formation of an ethnic identity stood at the centre of the most controversial cultural and philosophical debates that remain unresolved to this day. One side can be organised under the general rubric of Slavophilism that included the original group of mid-nineteenth-century intellectuals whose proOrthodox and communalist and exceptionalist convictions were rooted in the fear of the non-Orthodox and ill-defined western individualistic, self-interested 'other'. Slavophiles and their ideological heirs have argued that Orthodoxy has bestowed upon the Russian people (narod) concern for the well-being of the group, which contrasts sharply with Catholic and Protestant individualism, competition and callousness that place low priority on the good of the
2 N. V Riasanovsky, Nicholas I and official nationality in Russia, 1825-1855 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959); J. Remy, Higher education and national identity: Polish student activism in Russia, 1832-1863 [Bibliothecahistorica 57] (Helsinki: Suomalaisen kir-jallisuuden seura, 2000). Interest in national traits that included language, folklore and faith, among other things, emerged throughout post-Napoleonic Europe as eighteenth-century political borders were redrawn. See E. Gellner, Nations and nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983); and E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and nationalism: programme, myth, reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
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