the eleventh century, when Isaac, a monk of the cave-monastery, deliberately made himself an object of ridicule and vilification.102 Given their lifestyle, holy fools are unlikely to have made the voyage to Rus from Byzantium and the concept was most probably picked up from Lives of Byzantine fools available in translation. In this instance, as in others, monks seem to have been the broadcasters of Byzantine notions and practices to the populace at large. Deliberate transgression of social norms for the sake of Christ and literal enactment of His Beatitudes presented, in their way, a kind of living icon. The fool constituted a variant on the icons lodged in many private houses and chapels, which offered their venerators direct access to the holy. During the sixteenth century the theory and practice of holy foolery gained considerable political significance in Rus. Giles Fletcher, an eyewitness of Ivan IV's Muscovy, observed that the fools were regarded 'as prophets and men of great holiness'. Some, such as Basil and Nikolai of Pskov, had freely rebuked Ivan 'for all his cruelty and oppressions, done towards his people'; 'this maketh the people to like very well of them, because they . . . note their great men's faults, that no man else dare speak of.103 They were, Fletcher recorded, called 'holy men' by the Rus.
No precise analogies to fools of such persistent political prominence are known from Byzantium, although holy men were not behindhand in speaking out about misdeeds of officials or the emperor himself. Nor do Byzantine emperors offer convincing counterparts to Ivan the Terrible's conduct. Ivan's panoply of ceremonial is understandable in terms of adapting Byzantine rites and concepts of legitimate hegemony to the needs of his own polity, impressing the uniqueness of his authority upon fellow members of his family and truculent boyars, firing them and newly subjugated populations with a sense of divine purpose. That the ideology voiced in Makarii's address at Ivan's coronation should have echoed that of a sixth-century treatise on imperial authority by Deacon Agapetos is likewise unremarkable. More striking is the fact that one of the main responses to Ivan's pretensions to autocracy came from individuals acting in apparent isolation from one another, lacking direct experience of Byzantine precedents. Faced with Ivan's experiment, they reacted by drawing on a cultural idiom and range of behaviour-patterns now
102 Kievo-Pecherskii paterik, ed. L. A. Ol'shevskaia in Biblioteka literatury drevnei Rusi, ed. D. S. Likhachev iv (St Petersburg: Nauka, 1997), 478, 480; trans. M. Heppell, The Paterik of the Kievan Caves Monastery [Harvard Library of early Ukrainian Literature: English Translations 1] (Cambridge, MA: Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University, 1989), 208; S. Ivanov, Holy Fools, trans. S. C. Franklin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
103 Giles Fletcher, Of the Russe Commonwealth (London: Thomas Charde, 1591), reprinted with introduction by R. Pipes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), 89v-9ir.
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