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Nikon(nē`kōn), 1605–81, Russian churchman, patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (1652–66). He undertook an extremely vigorous reform of church discipline and ritual with a view to purging accretions and eccentricities from the Russian rites. His reforms, particularly his correction of service books from the Greek (1654), created a schism in the church and inspired the formation of a major opposition sect, the Raskolniki, who retained the older usages banned by Nikon. Heterodox sects such as the DukhoborsDukhobors
[Russ.,=spirit wrestlers], religious group, prominent in Russia from the 18th to the 19th cent. The name was coined by the Orthodox opponents of the Dukhobors, who had originally called themselves Christians of the Universal Brotherhood.
..... Click the link for more information. formed and attached themselves to the Raskolniki to avoid persecution. By 1658, Nikon had aroused sufficiently powerful opposition to bring about his banishment, and in 1666 he was deposed and degraded. He was a figure unique in Russian church history, for he opposed any interference by the state in church affairs and considered the two institutions to be distinct and separate. His reforms were maintained after he was deposed.
Date of birth unknown; died in 1088. Kievan religious and political figure and chronicler.
According to the historian M. D. Priselkov, Nikon was the name given to Ilarion, the first Russian metropolitan, when he took monastic vows in the Kiev-Pecherskaia Laura. Nikon left Kiev in 1061 because of Prince Iziaslav’s hostility toward him and founded a monastery near Tmutarakan’. In 1074 he became abbot of the Kiev-Pecherskaia Laura. He was a vigorous opponent of the princes’ internecine wars. Many historians believe that Nikon was the author of the chronicle codex of 1073, one of the sources for the Tale of Bygone Years (Primary Chronicle).
REFERENCELikhachev, D. S. “Povest’ vremennykh let (Istoriko-literaturnyi ocherk).” In Povest’ vremennykh let, part 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
(Nikita Minov). Born in 1605, in the village of Vel’-demanovo, in present-day Perevoz Raion, Gorky Oblast; died Aug. 17 (27), 1681, in Yaroslavl. Russian church and political figure of the 17th century and patriarch of the Russian Church from 1652 to 1667.
The son of a Mordovian peasant, Nikon became a priest in his village at the age of 19. In 1635 he went to the Solovetskii Monastery, where he took monastic vows. In 1643 he became abbot of the Kozheozerskii Monastery. His indefatigable energy and forceful personality attracted the attention of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich in 1646. That year he was chosen archimandrite of the Novospasskii Monastery in Moscow and joined the influential Circle of Pious Zealots. In 1648, Nikon was appointed metropolitan of Novgorod, where he helped suppress the Novgorod Uprising of 1650.
In 1652, Nikon was appointed patriarch, and in the spring of 1653 he began carrying out church reforms. He altered religious texts and rituals to conform to the Greek models adopted by the South Slavic countries, thereby strengthening Russia’s religious and political ties with the Slavic countries under Turkish rule. Furthermore, uniformity of ritual subjected the church to centralized state control. A large part of the Russian clergy strongly opposed the innovations, and a schism occurred. Nikon and the secular authorities persecuted the schismatics, among whom were members of the Circle of Pious Zealots.
Nikon took an active part in political affairs. He persuaded the tsar to end the war with Poland and advocated fighting Sweden in the Baltic region. The Russian failure to gain an outlet to the sea was blamed on the patriarch. Nikon’s willfulness and overbearing manner alienated court circles and caused him to lose favor with the tsar. Nikon sought to use church reform as a means of strengthening the church organization and the patriarch’s power. He hoped to make the church independent of secular authorities. Proclaiming that the clergy was superior to tsardom, he attempted to oppose the patriarch’s authority to that of the tsar. A breach between Nikon and the tsar occurred in 1658. Nikon resigned as patriarch and went to the New Jerusalem Voskresenskii Monastery near Moscow, which he had founded, expecting that the tsar would recall him. Instead, he was ordered to remain in the monastery. When Nikon returned to Moscow in 1664 and announced that he was still the patriarch, he was sent back. The Church Council of 1666–67 upheld the reforms that Nikon had introduced but deposed him as patriarch. Nikon was banished to the Ferapontov Belozerskii Monastery. In 1681, Tsar Fedor Alekseevich allowed Nikon to return to the New Jerusalem Monastery, but he died during the journey.
REFERENCESKapterev, N. F. Patriarkh Nikon i tsar’ Aleksei Mikhailovich, vols. 1–2. Sergiev-Posad, 1909–12.
Ustiugov, N. V., and N. S. Chaev. “Russkaia tserkov’ v XVII v.” In Russkoe gosudarstvo v XVII v. Moscow, 1961.
V. S. SHUL’GIN