Boltin, Ivan Nikitich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Boltin, Ivan Nikitich


Born Jan. 1 (12), 1735, in the village of Zhdanovo, Alatyr’ District, Simbirsk Province; died Oct. 6 (17), 1792, in St. Petersburg. Russian historian. Important landowner and statesman.

Boltin’s scholarly interests were formed through his acquaintance with historical literature, in particular the works of V. N. Tatishchev and the French enlighteners. He participated in the publication of historical memorials; he prepared the publication of an extended edition of the Pravda Russkaia (Russian Law) on the basis of several written records (1792) and other documents. In his Comments on M. Le Clerc’s History of Ancient and Modern Russia (vols. 1–2, 1788–94), Boltin accused the French author of ignorance and dishonesty in his treatment of Russian history. Boltin also polemized against M. M. Shcherbatov in Major General Boltin’s Reply to the Letter of Shcherbatov, Storyteller of Russian History (1789) and Critical Comments on the First and Second Volumes of Prince Shcherbatov’s History (vols. 1–2, 1793–94).

Boltin believed that the Russian historical process was governed by laws common to all peoples. He criticized the Norman theory and made valuable observations on the history of feudal relations. He singled out the time of the breakdown of the appanages as a separate period, saw an analogy with the European vassal system in the Russian feudal hierarchy, and first posed the question of the origin of serfdom in Russia. Although many of Boltin’s propositions were erroneous, his general interpretations and periodization of Russian history had a positive significance for Russian historical scholarship. In the field of the study of historical sources, Boltin clearly formulated the tasks of selection, comparison, and critical analysis of sources. The Comments on the works of Le Clerc and Shcherbatov were the first complete survey of the historical geography of the Russian Primary Chronicle.


Ocherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1955. Pages 210–214.
Rubinshtein, N. L. Russkaia istoriografiia. Moscow, 1941. Pages 137–50.
Nikolaeva, A. T. “Vopsrosy istochnikovedeniia i arkheografli v trudakh I. N. Boltina.” In the collection Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1958 g. Moscow, 1960.


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