i658, a few prominent clergymen, members of the ecclesiastical elite, wrote detailed critiques of Nikon's reforms. They received valuable support from Bishop Aleksandr of Viatka who, although he did not write any polemics of his own, encouraged those who did and collected a library of texts to support the antireform position. Despite some differences in details, the works of Potemkin, Nikita Dobrynin Pustosviat, the priest Lazar and others all attacked the internal inconsistencies in the new service books and raised fundamental questions about the legitimacy of Russian Orthodoxy. For if traditional Russian usages were heretical, were all previous generations of Russian Christians -saints and sinners alike - damned as heretics? Although these manuscripts had very limited circulation, they served as a valuable resource for later generations of polemicists against the reformed church.
Their opponents, the defenders of Nikon's policies, had far more powerful weapons at their disposal - the resources of the Printing Office and the support of the hierarchy and government. In 1668, for example, the Ukrainian-trained court poet and royal tutor Simeon Polotsky published Zhezlpravleniia, the first in a long series of attacks on the conservative opposition.22
Small numbers of uneducated laypeople also expressed opposition to the reforms. In i657, the ecclesiastical and governmental authorities imprisoned the Rostov weaver Sila Bogdanov and two companions for publicly condemning the new service books.23
More radical still were the small groups that made up the Kapiton movement. Beginning in the 1620s or 1630s, Kapiton and his followers rejected the Orthodox Church and its clergy as corrupt and practised extreme forms of asceticism, such as rigorous fasting in all seasons; if official accusations can be believed, some even starved themselves to death. In 1665 and 1666, the authorities investigated several informal monastic communities that followed his fundamental teachings. And although not their central concern, these later followers of Kapiton included the new liturgical books in their list of grievances against the church.
In the short run, isolated objections to the new liturgical texts did nothing to shake Nikon's overwhelming power over the church and influence at court.
22 G. B. Michels, Atwarwith the church: religious dissent in seventeenth-century Russia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 112-15.
23 Ibid., 33-8; Dokumenty Razriadnogo, Posol'skogo, Novgorodskogo i Tainogo Prikazov o raskol'nikakhvgorodakhRossii, i6j4-i684gg., ed. V S. Rumiantseva(Moscow: Akademiia nauk SSSR, Institut istorii SSSR, 1990), 29-58.
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