Skeptical School

Skeptical School

 

a school in Russian historiography of the first half of the 19th century that developed a critical (“skeptical”) attitude toward historical sources. The school was founded by M. T. Kachenovskii.

The skeptical school demanded that history be treated as a science rather than as moralizing narrative and criticized the sources on which N. M. Karamzin based his History of the Russian State. Proceeding from the assumption that each nation experiences a “legendary period” in its history, the skeptics unjustifiably cast doubt upon the authenticity of much of the information in the Primary Chronicle and the Russkaia pravda and attributed the origins of these documents entirely to the influence of foreign writings and law.

Attacking the Normanists, the skeptical school agreed with I. Evers that Rus’ was of Khazar origin and regarded the Varangians as Baltic Slavs. Because these conclusions were so distorted, opponents of the school, including M. P. Pogodin and P. G. Butkov, found themselves justified in subjecting the school’s theories as a whole to harsh criticism and denying the school any important position in historical science.

Despite the incorrectness of many of its views regarding Kievan Rus’, the skeptical school did play a significant role in the development of Russian historical science and undermined the authority of official monarchist historiography. The school’s activity marked a stage in the development of bourgeois historiography in Russia. Adherents of the school included S. M. Stroev, O. M. Bodianskii, and I. M. Sazonov. la. I. Berednikov and P. M. Stroev also sided with the school.

REFERENCES

Ikonnikov, V. Skepticheskaia skhola 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.

A. M. SAKHAROV [23–1500–]

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