Solovetskii Monastery

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Solovetskii Monastery


a monastery founded on Solovetskii Island in the White Sea in the late 1420’s and in the 1430’s by Zosima and Savvatii (St. Sabatios), monks from the Kirill-Be-lozersk Monastery. In the 15th and 16th centuries its landholdings, located along the White Sea and on the banks of the rivers emptying into it, rapidly grew. Economic activity and trade developed, and the monastery became the economic and political center of the White Sea region. Archimandrites were appointed directly by the tsar and patriarch. In 1765 the monastery became subject directly to the Synod. A major industry was the production of salt; the monastery owned 54 saltworks in the 1660’s. Other major activities included the hunting of sea mammals, the hunting and trapping of land animals, fishing, the mining of mica and iron ore, and pearl fishing. These industries played a leading role in the economy of the monastery, which employed a great number of people—as many as 350 monks and 600–700 servants, tradesmen, and peasants by the mid-17th century. In the 1650’s and 1660’s the monastery was a stronghold of the schism (in Russian, raskol). The Solovetskii Uprising of 1668–76 directed against the church reform of Nikon grew into an antifeudal revolt.

The monastery, along with the Sumy and Kem’ stockades, was very important as a frontier fortress, with dozens of guns and a powerful garrison. In the 16th and 17th centuries it successfully repulsed attacks by Livonians and Swedes (1571, 1582, and 1611). Attacked by sea on July 6–7, 1854, by three English ships, it withstood nine hours of artillery bombardment, and the ships finally left for the open sea. From the late 16th to the early 20th century the monastery was also a place of exile for opponents of the aristocracy and official Orthodoxy. It was the Christianization center of the north and had a book repository containing many manuscripts and early printed books. The Solovetskii Chronicle was compiled in the monastery.

The monastery and its grounds are situated on Solovetskii Island, on Blagopoluchie Bay. They are surrounded by massive walls, with seven gates and eight towers. The walls are 8–11 m high and 4–6 m thick; the towers (1584–94, by master architect Trifon) are built primarily of unhewn boulders reaching 5 m in length. The religious buildings, arranged along a single axis, are connected by covered vaulted passageways and are surrounded by numerous outbuildings and residential structures. Among them are the refectory (a single-pillared chamber with an area of 500 sq m) connected to the Uspenskii Cathedral (1552–57), the Preobrazhenskii Cathedral (1556–64; three-tiered, with a distinctly pyramidal main interior and four turret-like corner chapels, which once served as watchtowers), the Blagoveshchenie Church (1596–1601), lavish stone buildings (1615), a water mill (early 17th century), a campanile (1777), and the Nikolai Church (1834).

Today, the monastery is an architectural and historical preserve.


Barsukov, N. A. Solovetskoe vosstanie (1668–1676). Petrozavodsk, 1954.
Frumenkov, G. G. Solovetskii monastyr’ i oborona Pomor’ia v XVI–XIX vv. [Arkhangel’sk] 1963.
Frumenkov, G. G. Uzniki Solovetskogo monastyria. [Arkhangel’sk] 1965.
Borisov, A. M. Khoziaistvo Solovetskogo monastyria i bor’ba krest’ian s severnymi monastyriami v XVI–XVII vv. Petrozavodsk, 1966.
Veresh, S. V. “Solovki.” Istoriia SSSR, 1967, no. 3.
Maksimov, P., and I. Svirskii. “Novye materialy po drevnim zdaniiam Solovetskogo monastyria.” In the collection Arkhitekturnoe nasledstvo, fasc. 10. Moscow, 1958.
[Bartenev, I. A.] Solovetskie ostrova, [Leningrad, 1969.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(12) When the chronicle mentioned Ivan's selection of Abbot Filipp of the Solovetskii Monastery to become the new metropolitan of Moscow and All Rus' in 1566, it did not mention the negotiations between Ivan and Filipp over the abolition of the oprichnina, or the compromise agreement they reached, discussed below (no.
According to a 20 July 1566 "agreement" (prigovor), Filipp, abbot (igumen) of the Solovetskii Monastery, had initially refused Ivan's request that he become metropolitan unless Ivan abolished the oprichnina.
Sergius Monastery, the Volokolamsk Monastery, and the Solovetskii Monastery, we lack studies for smaller regional monastic institutions.
She argues that the rare "Short Redaction" was composed in the Solovetskii Monastery in the 1590s on the basis of a roughly contemporary (hypothetical) archetype, which in turn also formed the basis of the widely copied "Tulupov Redaction" from the 1600s and another very rare "Kolychev Redaction" in the 1610s.
In 1592, the body was moved to the Solovetskii Monastery, where Filipp had been monk and hegumen for many years before his metropolitanate.
Thus his short piece on Filipp is about his hegumenate at the Solovetskii Monastery and one of the icons painted there at his instigation.