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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also feodosievtsy, Feodocei, or Theodosians), a religious sect in the Schism (raskol) under the Russian Empire—one of the various currents within the movement of religious opposition known as bespopovshchina, which denied the authority of the priests.

The sect arose in Northwest European Russia among peasants and posadskie liudi (merchants and artisans) who were Old Believers; it was founded by a former deacon, Feodosii Vasil’ev (1661–1711). The Fedoseevtsy were at odds with another sect in the bespopovshchina—the Pomortsy, or “dwellers by the sea”—who were retreating from the strict rules of the “old belief (an example of such retreat being their practice of praying for the tsar). The founding principles of the Fedoseevtsy were irrevocable opposition to the serfowning state and strict asceticism, including celibacy. A community of Fedoseevtsy headed by I. A. Kovylin (1731–1809), established near the Preobrazhenskoe Cemetery in Moscow, was the sect’s most important Russian settlement in the late 18th century and thereafter. The element of social protest gradually disappeared from the doctrines of the Fedoseevtsy as social inequality developed among them. Praying for the tsar was accepted by the sect in 1848. In the second half of the 19th century, a group that recognized marriage—the novozheny, or “newlyweds”—split away from the Fedoseevtsy. In the USSR today the sect has a small number of isolated groups that are relinquishing their religious intolerance and asceticism.


Ryndziunskii, P. G. “Staroobriadcheskaia organizatsiia v usloviiakh razvitiia promyshlennogo kapitalizma.” In Voprosy istorii religii i ateizma [vol. 1]. Moscow, 1950.
Milovidov, V. F. Staroobriadchestvo v proshlom i nastoiashchem. Moscow, 1969.
Kartsov, V. G. Religioznyi raskol kak forma antifeodal’nogoprotesta v istorii Rossii, part 2. Kalinin, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.