S. V. Zagraevsky
Published in Russian: Çàãðàåâñêèé Ñ.Â. Íîâûå èññëåäîâàíèÿ ïàìÿòíèêîâ àðõèòåêòóðû Âëàäèìèðî-Ñóçäàëüñêîãî ìóçåÿ-çàïîâåäíèêà. M.: Àëåâ-Â, 2008. ISBN 5-94025-099-8
Architectural ensemble in Bogolyubovo:
questions of history and reconstruction
1. White stone citadel with on-gate church
N.N. Voronin wrote: “The
construction of Bogolyubovo castle of Prince Andrey – one of the most
interesting pages of history of culture of Ancient Russia in general and in
particular of Vladimir”1. Indeed, we do not know another such a
large complex of white stone buildings in pre-Mongolian
The contemporary town of Bogolyubovo (Vladimir region)
is located approximately
The outlines of the western part of the city are well
traced on the ground, and also at the plan by N.N. Voronin3
(Fig. 56). The south-western corner of the fortifications was formed by the
cape, the north-western – by the curve of ramparts. The remains of a rampart
are preserved from the north-west. The city center was located where there was
the Prince's palace – near the
56. Plan of the ancient part of the modern town of
Archaeological researches of 1954, held under the
direction of N.N. Voronin, showed the loyalty of the messages of
chroniclers and scholars of XIX century that the city of
V.K. Emelin, the modern researcher of the monument, believed that only the princely court near the church of Nativity of the Virgin had white stone walls (see Section 2), and the next line of defense, according to V.K. Emelin, was a wooden citadel, which had white stone gate with white stone church of St. Andrey on it (the walls of the citadel began at the western city walls, approximately followed the line the modern walls of the monastery to the bell-tower, and then turned to the south-east and reached the precipice to the Klyazma), and the city extended to the north from the citadel and was fortified by ramparts with wooden walls5.
But we can not agree with V.K. Emelin that only the Prince’s courtyard had white stone walls: in Section 2 we shall see that its area was very small, and in fact it was a fortified complex of buildings, i.e. the Chronicles could hardly tell about it as about a "city of stone"6. And taking into consideration that the studies by N.N. Voronin discovered the remains of white stone walls in the southern corner of the city and on the west line of ramparts (these excavations are shown at Fig. 56)7, we must assume that the walls were made of white stone around the whole perimeter, as N.N. Voronin considered8.
The length of these walls is estimated at about 1-
Let us note that if there was a citadel in the city (by V.K. Emelin), then it is likely that the walls also were built of white stone. But this position has not been confirmed by archaeological data.
E.E. Golubinsky9 and N.N. Voronin10
believed that the main purpose of the city of
However, the city of
We can evaluate only approximately the size of these suburbs. The location of Dobroye village and of an ancient dwelling site near Sungirevsky ravine (which became a small town in XII century12) between Bogolyubovo and Vladimir, as well as the elongation of the fortifications of Vladimir to the east13 (see Fig. 45), lets us suggest that the eastern part of Vladimir and the western part of Bogolyubovo during the reign of Andrey constantly "stretched" to each other, and in early 1170s the suburbs might have actually formed a coherent whole (including Dobroye village and the town near Sungirevsky ravine).
Thus, Bogolyubovo was a "full-fledged" city
in 1160-1170s, quite comparable by size and significance to Suzdal,
Yuryev-Polsky or Dmitrov. And since there was the residence of the Grand Prince
in Bogolyubovo, we must make one more principal conclusion: in the time of
Andrey not Vladimir, but Bogolyubovo was the capital of
So it is no coincidence, that after the death of
Andrey and the foundation of the monastery in the former princely castle14
the city fell into neglect only several centuries later, when the economic and
strategic situation in
archaeological researches, the walls were built in half-rubble
technology of large white stone blocks on lime mortar
mixed with wooden coal18. Blocks were treated somewhat more roughly
than wall blocks of pre-Mongolian temples of North-Eastern
N.N. Voronin assumed on the basis of
stratigraphic analysis of remains of the southern tower that the construction
of white stone fortifications took three building seasons19. Basing
on the message of Fourth Novgorod Chronicle under 1158 "and founded the
But we, basing on the fact that, as we have shown above, the city had big suburbs, can assume that Bogolyubovo was developing by the most typical way for fast-growing Russian cities:
– in the late 1150s the princely palace (see Section 2), the Church of Nativity of the Virgin (see Section 3) and the first small wooden fortress (which later perhaps became the citadel) were constructed;
– at the next stage of development, the city walls were substantially expanding in the direction of the "field";
– at the next stage (possibly already in the late 1160s and early 1170s), the wooden walls were replaced by white stone.
This position is confirmed by the fact that the message of “Brief Vladimir Chronicler”, which describes the arrival of Andrey to Suzdal from Kiev and the construction of Bogolyubovo, says nothing about stone walls: “And then Andrey Yurievich came from Kiev, and built the city of Bogolyubovo, and surrounded it with ramparts, and erected two stone churches, and stone gates, and the palace”22. The "city of stone" is mentioned only in the chronicle messages, which give general characterization of Bogolyubsky’s reign23.
Accordingly, we can tentatively date the white stone fortifications of Bogolyubovo by the border of 1160s and 1170s.
Probably one of two stone churches, mentioned in “Brief Vladimir Chronicle” – the Church of Nativity of the Virgin (see Section 3), second – the Church of Intercession on the Nerl (as it is evidenced by the message of First Novgorod Chronicle: "And he erected for her (Mother of God – S.Z.) the temple on the Klyazma river, two stone churches in the name of Holy Mother of God"24). “Brief Chronicle” says nothing about the on-gate temple, but we can provide some indirect evidence that it existed and was devoted to Andrey the First Called:
– in ancient
– “Life of Andrey Bogolyubsky” (the beginning of XVIII century) states: "built the stone gate and the church on it and gave it the namesake of St. Apostle Andrew the First Called"25;
– the on-gate church, which was erected in the monastery in late XVII century, was also dedicated to Andrew the First Called (and the traditions of consecration were usually respected in ancient monasteries).
However, we do not know where the gate of XII century was – at the place of the existing bell-tower or somewhere else. The answer to this question can be got only by new archaeological researches.
2. Prince's palace-"burg"
The message of “Brief Vladimir Chronicle” does not say explicitly that the palace was made of stone (the latter could relate only to the gate – “and the stone gate and the palace”). But the archaeological investigations of 195026 indicate that the palace was built of white stone (at least in part).
Let us try to
clarify the purpose of two buildings, which remained from the palace – the
stair-tower and the passage27 between it and the
V.K. Emelin drew attention to the fact that the tower faces to the west by the narrow windows-loopholes, and to the east – by the "civil" three-part window, and expressed the doubt that between the stair-tower and the choir of the Church of Nativity there was a large stone passage, built without a specific need (it would have been easier to attach the tower to the wall of the temple). In this regard, the researcher suggested that under the arch a gate was located, which led into a fortified princely courtyard28.
We shall add that the narrow windows and loopholes are seen in quite a realistic picture of the passage at the XVII century icon of Our Lady of Bogolyubovo29 (Fig. 58). The fact that the contemporary rough, asymmetrically arranged rectangular windows of the passage are not primary, is confirmed by the observation of clearly visible traces of numerous turnings of the passage walls under the arcature-columnar zone between the capitals and bases of columns (Fig. 59). Perhaps the primary windows of “loophole” form were in each interval between five columns, i.e. there were four windows in the passage, as it is depicted at the icon. However, we can not exclude the option that there were two primary windows in the passage, but the icon painter showed four by the number of the spaces between the columns.
Fig. 58. Icon of Our Lady of Bogolyubovo. XVII century.
Fig. 59. Western wall of the passage. Arrows indicate the traces of turnings.
In this regard, we fully support the hypothesis of V.K. Emelin that the western facades of the stair-tower and the temple were included into the complex of fortifications of the Prince's courtyard, and the gate, which led to this court, was located in the arch under the passage. That was confirmed by studies, conducted by the author of this book in cooperation with T.P. Timofeeva in 2006: symmetrical traces of turnings were found at the places under the arch, where the gate hinges could be situated (Fig. 60).
Fig. 60. Arch under the northern passage. The traces of turnings at the places of the gate hinges are marked by arrows.
It may seem that the imposts under the arch could interfere the gate to open. However, according to the observation of T.P. Timofeeva, the exterior blocks of imposts were replaced later, and, most likely, there were top gate hinges in their place. Accordingly, if the gates were opened to the outside, the imposts did not interfere.
And since, as we have shown above, the passage had narrow windows-loopholes, we must assume that it also played the role of the on-gate battle site. Perhaps, there was one more – open – battle site on the vault of the passage.
The sequence of erection of the preserved complex of
northern extensions to the
– firstly the church was built;
– then the lower tier of the stair-tower;
– then (after a sufficiently long time – perhaps several years) the arch with the passage;
– then (after a sufficiently long time – perhaps several years) the upper tier of the tower.
We can bring some proofs for this situation.
First, the arch with the passage is
"attached" to the northern wall of the
61. The place of junction of the northern passage to the wall of the
N.N. Voronin, paralleling in his studies the
galleries of the
This stereotype is very stable. For example, P.A.
Rappoport wrote: “It is obvious that the builders of ancient
In other words, N.N. Voronin and
P.A. Rappoport believed that ancient Russian craftsmen were doing some kind
of "Sisyphean labor", having no other reason than "an original
logic". As the main example of such a “Sisyphean labor”, those researchers
cited the arcature-columnar zone of the northern wall of the
However, we see no “original logic’, and moreover “Sisyphean labor” in the work of Bogolyubovo craftsmen. Their actions are seen absolutely logical from contemporary positions, and we can justify that.
There is no doubt that initially the
It is much more
likely, that at the time of construction of the
Accordingly, the actions of the craftsmen, who
completed the arcature-columnar zone of
We have finished the consideration of the first proof of the sequence of erection of the preserved complex of
northern extensions to the
The second proof: the arch with the passage is "attached" to the stair-tower as well as to the northern wall of the church – without masonry bond and united rubble.
Third: the lining of the masonry of the arch with the passage coincides neither with the lining of the masonry of the church, nor with the lining of the masonry of the tower.
Fourth: the lower tier of the stair-tower, including its adjacent to the arch with the passage southern wall, is solid and once erected structure. That is proved by the clear lining of masonry and conjugation of the square plan of the external walls with intricate internal volume (circular in plan and having a spiral system of vaults over the spiral staircase) by the stone blocks of complicated form35.
Fifth: the construction of the upper tier of the stair-tower (i.e. of the closed site, where the staircase leads) later than the arch with the passage was "attached" to the lower tier, is proved by the existence of the doorway to the passage and of the arcature-columnar zone, similar to the zone on the external walls of the transition, in the interior of the upper tier.
Accordingly, while there was no upper tier of the tower, the northern passage ended by the wall, which was decorated by arcature-columnar zone and had a doorway. After the building of the upper tier of the tower, the northern wall of the passage with the doorway and arcature-columnar zone turned out to be in the interior of this tier (Fig. 62).
Fig. 62. The interior of the upper tier of the stair-tower.
Let us consider the question, how the palace-temple complex could look in general.
N.N. Voronin believed on the basis of excavations near the southern wall of the church that it had a similar construction – a stair-tower with a passage over an arch (the reconstruction the whole complex of buildings around Nativity Church by N.N. Voronin is presented at Fig. 63)36.
63. The complex of buildings around the
But it is shown on Fig. 56 that there was very little space the south and east of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin for the palace buildings (even taking into account the fact that in the pre-Mongolian time the precipice to Klyazma was slightly farther away from the temple). It is unlikely that the courtyard was greatly elongated to the north-east – then its form would have been too narrow and curved.
Therefore, if we assume that the Prince's courtyard
had "full-fledged" walls at the south, north and east, then the free
space inside it would have been too small (by V.K. Emelin, it could be
only a few hundred sq. m37). This area needed also some vacant
space, where the preserved arch led. It turns out that if the Prince's palace
had been a detached building within a fortress (with a gap at least 2-
This problematic situation is solved as follows: the
walls of the palace also were the walls of the princely courtyard to a
considerable extent, i.e. the yard was not just a fenced area, but a fortified
complex of buildings. The system of fortifications could contain most of the
palace buildings (they might have looked like N.N. Voronin depicted them
on his reconstruction, but without many arches in the walls). In the time of
Bogolyubsky many German and North Italian "burgs" were built on the
similar principles, and many centuries later so
Accordingly, the remains of white stone masonry,
opened by the excavations to the south of the
southern complex of buildings symmetrical to the northern? We believe that it
was not fully symmetrical, but similar. This is proved by the fact that the
western part of the southern wall of the existing
This position is confirmed by the archaeological research of N.N. Voronin, who showed that the southern extensions were similar to the northern37 and still existed in XVII century38. The fact that the southern extension were not reflected at the XVII century icon of Our Lady of Bogolyubovo (see Fig. 58) is not surprising: the temple is depicted on the edge of the icon, and these additions could not fit the picture.
Judging by the upper level of decoration of the lower
tier of the western part of the southern wall of the existing Nativity church,
the unpreserved southern passage joined the church wall somewhat higher than
the northern, and this is consistent with our understanding of the different
time of the construction of various parts of the
Preserved northern extensions to the
Fig. 65. The construction of temples in Bogolyubovo. Miniature of “Litsevoj” Chronicle of XVI century.
The area in front of the gate to the prince's "burg" was beautified, paved with stone slabs with gutters-drains, the 8-pillared dome over a chalice, opened by N.N. Voronin, was located there41 (see Fig. 63).
The origin of the so-called “four faces” capital,
located in Bogolyubovo exhibition of Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve42
(Fig. 66), interested researchers for long time. A.I. Nekrasov believed that
the capital belonged to the "main pillar" of a princely palace43.
N.N. Voronin attributed it to one of the pillars of the hypothetical
opened western forechurch-baldachin of the
Fig. 66. So-called “four faces” capital. Modern view.
Fig. 67. “Our Lady’s Pillar” in XII century. Reconstruction by G.K. Vagner.
The author of this study considers the position of
G.K. Vagner as the most reasonable from the historical point of view (the
researcher provided several examples of the installation of such pillars in
The only caveat that we can do – that the stone block with faces of the Virgin in XII century could stand not on a pillar, but on a lower pedestal, so that believers could kiss it. This explains the poor preservation of faces, made of high quality stone that could effectively resist the "normal" weathering. In XIX century the block was laid in the wall and could be kissed only from one side48, and since all four faces survived poorly, for several previous centuries the block was to be "kissed" from all sides.
We can date the "burg" of Andrey Bogolyubsky
only very tentatively. As it follows from the message of “Brief Vladimir
Chronicle”, quoted in Section 1, the prince's palace was built shortly after
the arrival of Andrey to Suzdal from
The question, when the "burg" disappeared from the face of the earth, requires separate consideration. The stratigraphy of the excavations of N.N. Voronin to the north of the preserved stair-tower showed that after the thin cultural layer with ceramics of XIII century the layers of XVIII-XIX centuries immediately follow49. This researcher concluded that “a disaster befell the palace after a short time after its construction”, and thought that the palace could be destroyed either during the uprising of 1174, when the townspeople looted the prince's court, either during the campaign of Gleb of Ryazan in 1177, or during the Mongol-Tatar invasion50.
But these uprisings and gains could hardly so fatally affect the destiny of a large white stone "burg", which was actually a strong fortress: first, it was impossible to destroy (or burn) it completely during an assault, briefly seizing or rebellion, and secondly, it could not worn out and completely disappear within seventy years even in the conditions of complete desolation (which, as we have shown in Section 1, did not take place in pre-Mongol Bogolyubovo).
In XII-XIII centuries the "burg" of Andrey Bogolyubsky could only be purposefully dismantled ("razed"), and that would have required enormous labor and time costs. That could happen neither in 1174, neither in 1177, nor even in 1237-1238: we do not know precedents of complete "razing" of Russian fortresses by the Mongols. In addition, in the time of Batu a monastery had already been settled in Bogolyubovo "burg"51, and exceptional religious tolerance of the Mongols is well known.
Most likely, that the excavations of N.N. Voronin to the north of the stair-tower were at he place of some buildings of the "burg". In XIII century this place could be open (so the cultural layer included ceramics), and in post-Mongolian time it could built up. In this regard the cultural layer of XIII century at that site was so thin, and the layers of XIV-XVII centuries were not found.
Thus, it is likely that non-survived buildings of the "burg" of Andrey Bogolyubsky had the same fate as many pre-Mongolian white stone buildings: they dilapidated gradually, deteriorated, were used for building materials, and disappeared not later than the second third of the XVIII century (when the southern extensions to Nativity church disappeared).
The church52 of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo, apparently, was the central, highest and most richly decorated white stone construction of the Prince’s "burg". The temple was built of white stone of higher quality than other buildings of the “burg”.
Considering the question of dating of the temple, let
us recall once more the messages listed in Section 1. “Brief Vladimir
Chronicler” says: “And then Andrey Yurievich came from
The fact that the arch with the passage was "attached"
to the northern wall of the church and covered the arcature-columnar zone (see
Section 2 and Fig. 61), also shows that the
This position is confirmed by another chronicle message – of Vladimir Chronicler (XVI century), to which the attention of the author was attracted by T.P. Timofeeva56. Under 1158 it states: "This Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky built the ramparts of the city, and erected the stone Church of Nativity of the Holy Virgin on the Klyazma river, and another church of Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl, and founded the monastery”57.
And taking into consideration that, as we have shown in Chapter 4, the term “to erect” usually meant in chronicles the construction within one year, and many temples were really built within one construction season, we must accept 1158 as the date of the Churches of Nativity and Intercession (see Chapter 8).
In the end of XVII century the choir was broken and the
windows were widened in the
The western part of the northern wall, which bordered with the arch and passage, survived above the choir, though it was turned from the interior at the rebuilding62. The fact of masonry turning is proved by the presence of blocks with "upside" notches for plaster; blocks without notches (respectively, re-treated, inverted or displaced); small-sized inserts in masonry; unevenly placed blocks (Fig. 68). The remaining walls are preserved at 2-3 rows of masonry.
68. Detail of the western part of the northern wall of the
Thus, the plan of the
69. Plan of the
The lisenes of the temple had half-columns in the
middle and quarter-columns at the sides, the corner lisenes were united by the
corner three-quarter columns, the apses had thin half-columns (four on the
middle apse and two – on the side). The socle of the temple was decorated by
Attic profile. The bases of the half- and quarter-columns were also decorated
by Attic profile and had angular "claws". Let us note that we see the
similar "claws" in many Romanesque and Gothic churches of
The question of the number of heads of the temple is
easily solved – it was single-headed, as it was depicted at the XVII century
icon of Our Lady of Bogolyubovo (Fig. 58), and the
Temple had a choir (where the guests of Andrey
Bogolyubsky, not belonging to the Orthodox church, were to be led "to see
true Christianity and be baptized"65). The northern entrance to
the choir from the passage above the gate survived the rebuilding, the
threshold of current pass lies at the height of
70. The initial view of the
We must fully support the position of
N.N. Voronin that the choir of the
The fact that
in Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, the Church of Intercession on the Nerl and
St. Demetrius Cathedral the choirs are located in the middle of the pillars, in
any case is not common and mandatory system for all pre-Mongolian temples of
North-Eastern Russia (for example, in Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in
Pereslavl-Zalessky and the Church of Boris and Gleb in Kideksha the choirs are
approximately at three-fifths of the height of the pillars). In the temples of
other ancient kingdoms (
Thus, we accept the reconstruction the
To answer this question, we can hypothesize that the
doorway between the passage and the choir in its present form is not a door, but
a window. Originally there was a "full-fledged" door at this place,
and when at the end of XVII century the choir was broken, this doorway, which
led “nowhere”, was turned to the window by the putting of two or three rows of
stone on its bottom. Perhaps the transformation of the door to the window was
caused by the turning of the interior masonry of the northern wall of the
Of course, it is only a hypothesis, which may be
confirmed or denied by a probe of the bottom of the existing doorway, which is
covered by a thick layer of plaster. But according to this hypothesis, we can
reconstruct the choir of the
However, as we have shown above, the location of the choir at two thirds of the height of the pillars (by N.N. Voronin, see Fig. 70) is also absolutely normal, moreover – the high choir enhances the feeling of the height of the interior and emphasizes its solemnity (low choir, on the contrary, creates the feeling of "cramped" interior and "press" the people inside a temple).
Judging by archaeological discoveries in Bogolyubovo
(carved female and lion masks, head of the beast of the white stone water-jet)
we have all reason to consider after N.N. Voronin67 that the
temple had the same system of zooantropomorphous sculptural decoration, which
is present on the
The temple had perspective portals. Their columns were smooth, and archivolts were probably carved69.
Let us consider the question of the forechurches of
The “Story of the death of Andrey” tells that the Prince's body was put in a forechurch70. But extensive archaeological researches found no remnants of forechurches71. In this regard, E.E. Golubinsky assumed that the western forechurch was an open porch72, D.I. Ilovaisky – that the church had an open "portico"73, N.N. Voronin – that the western forechurch could be “baldachin”, open from 3 sides, relying by its arches on the temple wall and two pillars74. However, all these assumptions were very arbitrary, and even N.N. Voronin, putting forward his version of the type and location of the forechurch, found impossible to reflect it on his reconstructions of the temple (see Fig. 63 and 70).
We are going to put forward our own version, what forechurch “Story of the death of Andrey” tells about.
First, the putting of a dead body of the Prince in the open vestibule (albeit under the "baldachin") was almost tantamount to its abandonment in the street, but the logic of the “Story” says that the body was put into some room, where two days later Abbot Arseny saw it and insisted on the funeral service75.
Secondly, an open white stone forechurch (even in the form of a "baldachine") was to have some foundations under the pillars, and since very detailed excavations did not discover them, it is likely that they never existed.
Third, we, following G.K. Vagner, have identified more likely and logical place for the “four faces” capital, which N.N. Voronin referred to a hypothetical open forechurch (see Section 2).
In this regard, we suggest the following: the temple had closed forechurches, built not of white stone, but of wood (archaeological researches are virtually unable to detect the remnants of wooden forechurches in such a complex stratigraphy).
Between the building of the church and the palace (late 1150s-early 1160s) and the murder of Bogolyubsky (1174) about fifteen years passed, and it is not surprising that the white stone "burg" in prosperity Suzdal Grand Duchy in Andrey’s times (i.e. being completely safe from attacks of external enemies) was gradually "overgrowing" by a set of wooden utilitarian extensions (which, as a rule, forechurches for temples are). This situation is absolutely typical for Ancient Russia.
wooden forechurches might have been available from the west, south and north of
In conclusion, let us remember the words of the
Chronicle: "This good-believing and Christ-loving Prince Andrew was like
the king Solomon, when erected a house of God and the glory stone
© Sergey Zagraevsky