Dovnar-Zapolskii, Mitrofan Viktorovich

Dovnar-Zapol’skii, Mitrofan Viktorovich


Born June 2 (14), 1867, in Rechitsa, present-day Gomel’ Ob-last; died 1934. Russian liberal-bourgeois historian. Folklorist and ethnologist.

A graduate of the University of Kiev (1894), Dovnar-Zapol’skii was appointed professor of Russian history there in 1902. He worked in Byelorussia after the October Revolution, and he was affiliated with the Byelorussian University from 1925 to 1926.

Some of Dovnar-Zapol’skii’s concepts gave rise to the antiscientific theories of the single stream, which asserted that there were no class conflicts in the development of the Byelorussian people, and the “golden age,” which depicted the 16th century as a period in which the peasants were well off and the Byelorussian state flowered. Dovnar-Zapol’skii published documents on the history of the Lithuanian-Russian state, including Acts of the Lithuanian-Russian state (fasc. 1, 1899) and Documents of the Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Justice (vol. 1, 1897). His work on the history of the Decembrists, in which he used new factual material, includes The Secret Society of the Decembrists (1906), Memoirs of the Decembrists (1906), and The Ideals of the Decembrists (1906).

Dovnar-Zapol’skii’s great interest in the economic history of the Russian state in the 16th and 17th centuries is reflected in such works as The Trade and Industry of Moscow in the 16th and 17th Centuries, which was published in 1910. He initiated and participated in the publication of the multi-volume Russian History in Essays and Articles (vols. 1-3, 1909-12). Dovnar-Zapol’skii’s History of the Russian National Economy (vol. 1, 1911) and Survey of Recent Russian History (1912) are based on lectures he gave at the Commercial Institute. In the Soviet period he wrote several more works on the history of Byelorussia’s national economy, in which he analyzed the major changes in the economy and social relations in the feudal and capitalist epochs and in the early years of Soviet power. He published more than 30 works on the ethnology and folklore of the Byelorussians. The vast amount of facts that Dovnar-Zapol’skii used for the first time make his work valuable today.


Shapiro, A. L. Russkaia istoriografiia v period imperializma: Kurs lektsii. Leningrad, 1962. Pages 71-74.