not only rid the old capital of troublesome vagrant clergy, but introduced in the process a controversial office that survived until 1917: that of'upholders of good order' (blagochinnye). These were appointed supervisors, who replaced elected clerical elders as the consistory's principal diocesan agents.11 As supernumerary priests were purged, so the quality of the remaining clergy was improved. Platon's commitment to clerical education helped to transform underfunded grammar schools into specialist theological seminaries whose empire-wide enrolments rose from 4673 in 1766 to 29,000 in 1808. Though brutalised by their teachers, isolated from their flock by a curriculum steeped in Latinity, and impoverished by their lowly social status, Russia's parish priests were now more professionally prepared than ever before.12
The age of Enlightenment may have left the Russian Church stronger in administrative terms, but its legacy of religious toleration was more complex. The reign of Elizabeth (1741-61) saw a determined attempt to challenge the schismatic communities, which had formed in response to persecution in the reign of her father, Peter I. Church and state also embarked in tandem on a conversion campaign that brought some 430,000 people - the overwhelming majority of Mordvins, Chuvash, Cheremis and Votiaks in the central Volga region - into Orthodoxy between 1741 and 1755.13 But the wisdom of such initiatives was questioned when it emerged that local zealots had achieved their aims only by resorting to violence that their superiors had never intended (a pattern that was to recur in the nineteenth century). Under Catherine II, raison d'etat combined with enlightened conviction to produce a gentler approach to mission. Muslims were treated with kid gloves in newly annexed territories in the south. Exiled schismatics were permitted to return from Poland, and though sceptical churchmen sought to impede the impact of toleration,14 Old Believers were relieved of the obligation to pay a double poll tax in 1782 and confirmed, three years later, in their right to elect (and be elected) to posts in urban government. Hopes were raised in the 1780s that a new 'unitary faith'
11 K. A. Papmehl, Metropolitan Platon of Moscow (Petr Levshin, 1737-1812): the enlightened prelate, scholar and educator (Newtonville, MA: Oriental Research Partners, 1983), 55-8. Cf.Platon, Instruktsiia blagochinnym iereiam ili protoiereiam (Moscow, 1775).
12 G. L. Freeze, The Russian Levites: parish clergy in the eighteenth century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977), ch. 4; table 3, 88.
13 M. Khodarkovsky, 'The conversion of non-Christians in early modern Russia', in Of religion and empire: missions, conversion and tolerance in tsarist Russia, ed. R. P. Geraci and M. Khodarkovsky (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 115-43; P. W Werth, 'Coercion and conversion: violence and the mass baptism of the Volga peoples, 1740-55', Kritika 4 (2003), 543-69.
14 See, for example, G. L. Bruess, Religion, identity and empire: a Greek archbishop in the Russia of Catherine the Great (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1997), 135-76.
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