Beliaev, Ivan

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Beliaev, Ivan Dmitrievich


Born in 1810 in Moscow; died there Nov. 19 (Dec. 1), 1873. Russian historian.

Born into the family of a priest, Beliaev graduated from Moscow University in 1833. From 1852 until his death he was professor of the history of law at Moscow University and secretary of the Moscow Society of History and Russian Antiquities and editor of its publication Vremmenik. In his sociopolitical views he was a Slavophile. His works were devoted to the history of the Russian peasantry, law, the economy, everyday life, military affairs, and chronicle writing in Russia. His work Peasants in Rus’ (published in Russkaia Beseda, 1859, books 3–6) was the first systematic work in Russian historiography on the history of the peasants from the time of Kievan Rus’ until the 18th century. Beliaev wrote it during the years of preparation of the 1861 peasant reform and sought to answer the questions of the day. He assessed serfdom as a “disease of Russian society” and its abolition as a process of “gradual recovery” begun at the end of the 18th century by the ukases of Pavel I and continued by the legislation on the peasant question by Alexander I and Nicholas I. Beliaev defended the thesis that until the 18th century Russian peasants had been personally free and owned land; the essence of serfdom he reduced to an aggregate of legal institutions. He was the first Russian historian to extensively use official documents in addition to legislative materials. He gathered a rich collection of ancient Russian documents and manuscript books.


Mrochek-Drozdovskii, P. N. “Spisok trudov I. D. Beliaevo.” Chteniia ν obshchestve istorii i drevnostei Rossiiskikh, 1905, book 2.


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