Uspenskii, Fedor

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Uspenskii, Fedor Ivanovich


Born Feb. 7 (19), 1845, in Gorki, Galich District, Kostroma Province; died Sept. 10, 1928, in Leningrad. Russian historian. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1900).

Uspenskii graduated from the faculty of history and philology at St. Petersburg University and received a master’s degree from the university in 1874. From 1874 to 1894 he taught at Novorossiia University in Odessa, becoming a professor at the university in 1879. From 1894 to 1914 he was director of the Russian Archaeological Institute, which he had founded, in Constantinople. From 1915 to 1928, Uspenskii edited Vizantiiskii vremennik (Byzantine Chronicle). He taught a course at Leningrad University from 1922 to 1927.

Uspenskii’s principal work, The History of the Byzantine Empire, is based on a great number of sources, including manuscripts. The work devotes considerable space to Byzantine-Bulgarian relations. Uspenskii believed that the socioeconomic development of Byzantium was influenced by the social structure of the Slavs, who brought with them a communal way of life. According to Uspenskii, the Slavic commune, which he considered a bulwark of monarchy, and free ownership of land by the peasants were preserved virtually throughout the history of the Byzantine Empire.

Uspenskii’s idealistic world view determined his ideological and theoretical position. He exaggerated the historical importance of matters involving the church, ignored the class nature of the state, and idealized the Byzantine monarchy and the Orthodox Church. In addition, he exhibited a sharply critical attitude toward class struggle and tended to support Pan-Slavism.

In the first decade of Soviet power, Uspenskii was the leading figure in Russian Byzantine studies. On cardinal questions of agrarian and social history, however, he retained his old views. Uspenskii’s most important works after 1917 are his studies, based on archival materials, of the history of the Trebizond Empire. The publication of The Acts of Vazelon (1927) by Uspenskii and V. N. Beneshevich was a valuable contribution to Byzantine studies.


Istoriia Vizantiiskoi imperil, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg-Moscow-Leningrad, 1913–48.
Ocherki po istorii vizantiiskoi obrazovannosti. St. Petersburg, 1891.
Ocherki iz istorii Trapezuntskoi imperii. Leningrad, 1929.


Kapterev, S. N. “Bibliographia Uspenskiana” (part 1, “Khronologich. ukazatel’ trudov”; part 2, “Lit-ra o. F. I. Uspenskom”). Vizantiiskii vremennik, 1947, vol. 1 (26).
Udal’tsova, Z. “K voprosu ob otsenke trudov akad. F. I. Uspenskogo.” Voprosy istorii, 1949, no. 6.
Udal’tsova, Z. “Vizantinovedenie.” In Ocherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 2, Moscow, 1960, pp. 508–25; vol. 3, Moscow, 1963, pp. 514–26; vol. 4, Moscow, 1966, pp. 615–21.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.