Evgenii Kosminskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kosminskii, Evgenii Alekseevich


Born Oct. 21 (Nov. 2), 1886, in Warsaw; died July 24,1959, in Moscow. Soviet medievalist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1946; corresponding member, 1939), member of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR (1945), and Honored Scientist of the RSFSR (1947).

Kosminskii graduated from Moscow University in 1910. In 1921 he became a full member of the Institute of History of the Russian Association of Scientific Research Institutes for the Social Sciences, and in 1929 he joined the Institute of History of the Communist Academy. From 1934 to 1949 he headed the subdepartment of medieval history at Moscow State University, and from 1936 to 1952 he directed the medieval history section of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

His research on the agrarian history of medieval England (llth-15th centuries) received wide recognition and greatly influenced later studies both in the USSR and abroad, especially in Great Britain. His major works in this area include The English Village in the 13th Century (1935) and Studies on the Agrarian History of England in the 13th Century (1947), published in English at Oxford in 1956. In contrast to bourgeois patrimonial estate theory, Kosminskii viewed the English manor as an institution for the extraction of land rent from the exploited peasantry by the feudal nobility. Relying on hitherto unused sources, including archival documents, he showed the heterogeneity of the 13th-century English manorial system, the predominance of money rent over corvee and rent in kind, the increase in the number of free peasants, the existence of a large strata of peasants with little land obliged to work for wages, and the sharp class struggle in the English countryside. He viewed these new phenomena as the result of developing commodity-money relations in rural England.

Kosminskii also dealt with the historiography of the Middle Ages, the English bourgeois revolution of the 17th century, and the history of Byzantium. He was one of the authors of the first volume of the History of Diplomacy (1941), awarded the State Prize in 1942. He played a major role in developing an overall Marxist-Leninist conception of the history of Western Europe in the Middle Ages. From the late 1930’s to the mid-1950’s he was a leading writer and editor of basic textbooks on medieval his-tory for institutions of higher education and secondary schools, and he trained a large number of medievalists. Kosminskii was twice awarded the Order of Lenin and received two other orders.


Istoriografiia srednikh vekov, V v.-ser. XIX’ v. (lectures). Moscow, 1963.
Problemy angliiskogo feodalizma i istoriografii srednikh vekov: Sb. st. Moscow, 1963. (Includes a detailed bibliography of Kosminskii’s works.)


“Nauchnaia i obshchestvennaia deiatel’nost’ E. A. Kosminskogo.” In the collection Srednye veka, no. 8. Moscow, 1956.
Gutnova, E. V., and N. A. Sidorova. “Nauchnye trudy i deiatel’nost’ E. A. Kosminskogo.” Nauchnye doklady vyssheishkoly: Istoricheskie nauki, 1960, no. 3.
Gutnova, E. V. “E. A. Kosminskii.” Voprosy istorii, 1972, no. 9.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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He paints portraits of his teachers Evgenii Kosminskii, Aleksandr Neusykhin, and other wellknown Soviet historians, primarily of the older generation-Sergei Skazkin, Boris Porshnev, Robert Vipper, Mikhail Barg, Aleksandr Chistozvonov, Aleksandr Danilov, Nina Sidorova, and Isaak Mints.