Kachenovskii, Mikhail Trofimovich

Kachenovskii, Mikhail Trofimovich


Born Nov. 1 (12), 1775, in Kharkov; died Apr. 19 (May 1), 1842, in Moscow. Russian historian and literary critic. Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1841).

Kachenovskii was appointed a professor at Moscow University in 1810 and became rector of the university in 1837. He began his literary activity in 1799 in the journal Ippokrena as a proponent of classicism. From 1805 to 1830 (with interruptions) he edited Vestnik Evropy, and it was in that journal that he began his criticism of N. M. Karamzin’s History of the Russian State in 1818–19. In historical science, Kachenovskii is known as a founder and important representative of the “skeptical school.” He advanced the groundless thesis that the oldest written sources of Russian history were spurious and rejected Karamzin’s view that Kievan Rus’ had attained a high level of development.

Kachenovskii’s work, with its critical approach to the sources, played a positive role in stimulating criticism of noble and nascent bourgeois historiography. His conclusion that ancient Rus’ remained at a generally low level of development was erroneous. Nevertheless, his criticism of Karamzin’s views became significant as a protest against official ideology and attracted student sympathy, although Kachenovskii himself was far from espousing any revolutionary political views.


Ikonnikov, V. S. Skepticheskaia shkola v russkoi istoriografii i ee protivniki. Kiev, 1871.
Rubinshtein, N. L. Russkaia istoriografiia. Moscow, 1941.
Ocherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1955.