The following study of the economic activities of the Borisoglebskii Monastery in the provincial town of Torzhok, as evident in property deeds, donation charters, petitions, and royal and ecclesiastical decrees, suggests that after the Time of Troubles the head of this medium-sized Russian monastery employed all traditional means available to place his institution once again on a sound economic footing.
The Borisoglebskii Monastery and the Time of Troubles
The first documentary evidence of the Torzhok Borisoglebskii Monastery, which seemingly dates back to the 12th century, appears in a charter by Ivan III from 6 April 1476, which assigns some of the Borisoglebskii lands to the archbishop of Novgorod.
In the Borisoglebskii Monastery, Archimandrite Konstantin (1600-9) and his brothers were killed when the wooden Church of the Introduction of the Virgin into the Temple was set on fire.
In response to the destruction, under Archimandrite Iona (1609-36) the Borisoglebskii monks pursued a vigorous policy of reconstruction.
(11) The clause shows that like many other monasteries in the Tver' region after the Time of Troubles, the Borisoglebskii Monastery managed to attract new settlers.
Beyond seeking confirmation of the Borisoglebskii Monastery's property rights and privileges, Archimandrite Iona successfully explored opportunities to increase the monastery's holdings by taking advantage of his monastery's patronage ties with the Semenov Monastery, located in Torzhok's suburb two versts outside the town.
Another opportunity to widen the Borisoglebskii Monastery's control over the Semenov house arose in 1615, when the donors of the Semenov Monastery and its monks petitioned the tsar to have the Borisoglebskii monks rebuild their monastery, which had been destroyed by the Tushinites in 1609.
Iona seems to have used this opportunity to reassert the Borisoglebskii Monastery's influence over other Semenov lands.
While the gradual takeover of the Semenov house by the Borisoglebskii Monastery under Iona was completely legal, and was in part initiated by Semenov monks and donors concerned about the survival of their institution, Iona's motivation for the property transactions cannot be characterized as a simple act of charity.