Tatishchev, Vasilii Nikitich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tatishchev, Vasilii Nikitich


Born Apr. 19 (29), 1686, near Pskov; died July 15 (26), 1750, in the village of Boldino, in what is now Solnechnogorsk Raion, Moscow Oblast. Russian state figure and historian.

Tatishchev graduated from the Engineering and Artillery School in Moscow. He took part in the Northern War of 1700–21, in the course of which he performed various military and diplomatic missions for Tsar Peter I the Great. From 1720 to 1722 and from 1734 to 1737 he managed state-owned plants in the Urals and in 1723 founded Ekaterinburg (now Sverdlovsk). In 1730 he declared his opposition to the verkhovniki (members of the Supreme Privy Council). From 1741 to 1745 he was governor of Astrakhan Province.

Tatishchev was the first to publish Russian historical sources, making the texts of the Russkaia Pravda and the Sudebnik of 1550 available to scholars with detailed commentary. He introduced the study of ethnography and original sources in Russia and wrote A History of Russia From the Earliest Times (books 1–5, Moscow, 1768–1848), a general work on Russian history based on numerous Russian and foreign sources. He also compiled the first Russian encyclopedic dictionary, the Leksikon rossiiskoi (Russian Lexicon).

Tatishchev was the first Russian historiographer to seek regularities in the development of human society and to substantiate the causes of the emergence of state power. A rationalist, he rejected the providential explanation of historical events and linked the historical process with the development of “mental enlightenment.” He revealed a decided preference for autocracy over all other forms of government for Russia. Tatishchev was the first Russian scholar to devise a general periodization of Russian history: the ascendancy of absolutism (862–1132), the decline of absolutism (1132–1462), and the restoration of absolutism (from 1462). Soon after the publication of Tatishchev’s History, the writers M. M. Shcherbatov and I. N. Boltin debated the significance of Tatishchev’s work, particularly the portions based on certain lost sources.


Istoriia Rossiiskaia, vols. 1–7. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962–68.
Izbr. trudy po geografii Rossii. Moscow, 1950.
“Tatischchevskie spiski Russkoi pravdy.” In Materialy po istorii SSSR, fasc. 5. Moscow, 1957.


Popov, N. V. N. Tatishchev i ego vremia. Moscow, 1861.
Ocherki isotorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1955.
Deich, G. M. V. N. Tatishchev. Sverdlovsk, 1962.
Peshtich, S. L. Russkaia istoriografiia XVIII v., vols. 1–2. Leningrad, 1961–65.
Iofa, L. E. “V. N. Tatishchev.” In Ekonomicheskaia geografiia v SSSR. Moscow, 1965.
Valk, S. N. “V. N. Tatishchev v svoem boldinskom uedinenii.” In Problemy istorii feodal’not Rossii. Leningrad, 1971.
Shakinko, I. M. “V. N. Tatishchev kak gosudarstvennyi deiatel’.” Voprosy istorii, 1975, no. 4.
Istoriia istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR—Dooktiabr’skii period: Bibliografiia. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(20) "Tatishchev, Vasilii Nikitich," MERSH 38:192-93.