Aleksandr Evgenevich Presniakov

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Presniakov, Aleksandr Evgen’evich


Born Apr. 21 (May 3), 1870, in Odessa; died Sept. 30, 1929, in Leningrad. Russian historian. Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1920).

Presniakov graduated from the University of St. Petersburg, becoming a privatdocent there in 1907 and a professor in 1918. In the 1920’s he taught at the Institute of Red Professors. Early in his career, Presniakov followed the psychological trend of positivist sociology. His prerevolutionary works were devoted chiefly to the history of political relations in pre-16th-century Rus’ (Princely Law in Ancient Rus’, 1909; The Formation of the Great-Russian State, 1918), to the study of sources of 16th-century Russian chronicles, and to the history of 19th-century social thought. Presniakov rejected the theory of clannish princely rule in Kievan Rus’, believing that the property rights of the princes were based on “family and hereditary landownership law.” In his view, Kievan Rus’ was the common historical background of both the Russian and Ukrainian peoples.

Presniakov studied the process of centralization as closely related to the entire complex of the international relations of northeastern Rus’. He investigated the unification of the Russian lands from the viewpoint of the internal history of both the Grand Principality of Moscow and the appanage principalities of Tver’, Riazan’, and Nizhny Novgorod. He thus succeeded in describing the political aspect of the unification of northeastern Rus’ more comprehensively and believably than his predecessors. However, his idea of the princes’ accumulation of power, which he had advanced in opposition to the theories of official historiography, remained unrelated to the development of socioeconomic relations. In his The Muscovite Kingdom (1918) Presniakov examined the Russian state of the 16th and 17th centuries from the official viewpoint, regarding it as an entity that existed above all classes and that had enslaved all social groups in Russia equally.

After the October Revolution of 1917, Presniakov attempted to master Marxist methodology; this was reflected particularly in his interest in socioeconomic questions. At this time he began to devote considerable attention to 19th-century Russian history, including the history of the revolutionary movement.


Aleksandr I. Petrograd, 1924.
Apogei samoderzhaviia: Nikolai I. Leningrad, 1925.
14 dekabria 1825 g. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Lektsii po russkoi istorii, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1938–39.


Shapiro, A. L. “Kritika A. E. Presniakovym traditsionnykh vzgliadov na istoriiu Drevnei Rusi.” In his book Russkaia istoriografiia v period imperializma. Leningrad, 1962.
Chirkov, S. V. “Obzor arkhivnogo fonda A. E. Presniakova.” In Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1970 god. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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