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S. V. Zagraevsky

 

New researches of Vladimir-Suzdal museums

architectural monuments

 

 

 

Published in Russian: .. - -. M.: -, 2008. ISBN 5-94025-099-8

 

Introduction

Chapter 1.Organization of production and processing of white stone in ancient Russia

Chapter 2. The beginning of Russian Romanesque: Jury Dolgoruky or Andrey Bogolyubsky?

Chapter 3. About the hypothetical intermediate building of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Virgin Mary

in Suzdal in 1148 and the original view of Suzdal temple of 12221225

Chapter 4. Questions of date and status of Boris and Gleb Church in Kideksha

Chapter 5. Questions of architectural history and reconstruction of Andrey Bogolyubskys  

Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir

Chapter 6. Redetermination of the reconstruction of Golden Gate in Vladimir

Chapter 7. Architectural ensemble in Bogolyubovo: questions of history and reconstruction

Chapter 8. To the question of reconstruction and date of the Church of Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl

Chapter 9. Questions of the rebuilding of Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir by Vsevolod the Big Nest

Chapter 10. Questions of the original view and date of Dmitrievsky Cathedral in Vladimir

Notes

 

Chapter 7.

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 Vladimir1. Indeed, we do not know another such a large complex of white stone buildings in pre-Mongolian Russia.

The contemporary town of Bogolyubovo (Vladimir region) is located approximately 10 km to the north-east from the center of Vladimir, on one of the hills near the left bank of the Klyazma. The modern highway Vladimir Nizhny Novgorod cuts ancient city of Bogolyubovo2 almost in the middle.

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin. The boundaries of the eastern part of the city can be determined approximately, if to continue mentally the northern line of the ramparts in the direction of the ravine, which is located to the east from the modern monastery.

 Plan of the ancient part of the modern town of Bogolyubovo (by N.N. Voronin).

 

Fig. 56. Plan of the ancient part of the modern town of Bogolyubovo (by N.N. Voronin).

 

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 Bogolyubovo had white stone walls in XII century4.

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 Princes 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 1-1.5 km (for example, the length of wooden walls in Suzdal was about 1.4 km). Such a scale of white stone fortifications of Bogolyubovo has no analogues in pre-Mongolian architecture of Ancient Russia.

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 Bogolyubovo was the seat of the prince, so firstly it was the Prince's castle. Accordingly, the researchers applied to Bogolyubovo the concept of the city only in the broadest sense as any fortified settlement. V.K. Emelin believed that there were some utility services of the Prince and his armed force, but the trade was not developed11. Thus, the researchers actually denied that Bogolyubovo was a "full-fledged" city.

However, the city of Bogolyubovo had exclusively favorable economic and strategic location (the intersection of trade routes by the Klyazma and the Nerl was so important that it was even "marked" by the Church of Intercession). The presence of the residence of the Prince in the city of Bogoliubovo also contributed to its rapid growth. Accordingly, we may assume that, as in any large and developing city, considerable commercial and artisanal suburbs were located outside the city walls.

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 Vladimir principality.

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 Russia changed radically. And at the beginning of XIII century Daniil Zatochnik mentioned Bogolyubovo as a symbol of happiness and prosperity ("So, my lord, for someone Bogolyubovo, and for me fierce sorrow"15). By the deserving confidence monastery legend, recorded by Abbot Aristarch in XVIII century16, the city was stormed by the Mongols, and that reflects its strategic importance. And much later, in the end of XIV century, Bogolyubovo was mentioned in List of distant and close Russian cities17.

According to 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 Russia, but still fairly "clean".

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 city of Bogolyubovo"20, he dated the construction of the white stone citadel by the end of 1150s21.

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 palace22. The "city of stone" is mentioned only in the chronicle messages, which give general characterization of Bogolyubskys 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 Russia churches were usually located on main gates;

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin (its contemporary view see at Fig. 57).

 

Church of Nativity of the Virgin with the northern complex of buildings. Modern view.

 

Fig. 57. Church of Nativity of the Virgin with the northern complex of buildings. Modern view.

 

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.

 

Icon of Our Lady of Bogolyubovo. XVII century.

 

Fig. 58. Icon of Our Lady of Bogolyubovo. XVII century.

 

Western wall of the passage. Arrows indicate the traces of turnings.

 

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).

 

Arch under the northern passage. The traces of turnings at the places of the gate hinges are marked by arrows.

 

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin is reconstructed as follows:

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin without masonry bond and united rubble, and it covered the already executed arcaturne-columnar zone (Fig. 61). This situation must be considered especially (it will be useful for us in the future).

 

The place of junction of the northern passage to the wall of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin.

 

Fig. 61. The place of junction of the northern passage to the wall of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin.

 

N.N. Voronin, paralleling in his studies the galleries of the Church of Intercession on the Nerl with overlapping the arcature-columnar zone north additions to the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo, wrote that every part of the ensemble was fully processed, although it was known that this part of the facade will be closed by extensions... That was the system of Vladimir craftsmen totally illogical, with our modern point of view31.

This stereotype is very stable. For example, P.A. Rappoport wrote: It is obvious that the builders of ancient Russia, ending every object, performed all its exterior decoration, even knowing well that immediately (or in the next construction season) they will close this decoration with an adjacent part of the architectural complex. Apparently, there existed an original, seeming irrational to us, logic, on which even covered parts of the facades were to have a complete finishing32.

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo, covered by the arch with the passage33.

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 Church of Nativity was built, and then the arch with the passage was "attached" to it. But why should we believe that the craftsmen, making the arcature-columnar zone, already knew that it would be permanently closed with new stone buildings?

It is much more likely, that at the time of construction of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin the craftsmen had yet no clear view how the choir of the church will be connected to the palace complex. This could be not a cumbersome stone passage above the arch, but a light wooden bridge, or even a simple wooden staircase, as in Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Pereslavl-Zalessky, where the archaeological researches did not discover any remains of foundations of a stone stair-tower under the preserved doorway in the upper part of the western fence of the northern wall34.

Accordingly, the actions of the craftsmen, who completed the arcature-columnar zone of Nativity Church, are seen as quite logical: erecting a church, they did not know that the western fence of the northern wall will be covered by a white stone passage. Perhaps the palace, which part was the stair-tower, at first was connected with the choir of the church by a light wooden bridge.

We have finished the consideration of the first proof of the sequence of erection of the preserved complex of northern extensions to the Church of Nativity of the Virgin.

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).

 

The interior of the upper tier of the stair-tower.

 

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.

 

The complex of buildings around the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in XII century. Reconstruction by N.N. Voronin.

 

Fig. 63. The complex of buildings around the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in XII century. Reconstruction by N.N. Voronin.

 

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 2-3 m between the palace and the city walls), it would have been very small and not conforming to the status of Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky.

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 Mikhailovsky Castle in St. Petersburg was built.

Accordingly, the remains of white stone masonry, opened by the excavations to the south of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin, could belong both to the walls and the complex of palace buildings.

Was that 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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin has no window in the upper tier (Fig. 64) despite that the location of all other windows on the southern and western walls has almost the same system. Let us also note the shift of the southern portal to the east. These observations suggest that in the middle of XVIII century, when the existing temple was built, a passage over the arch, similar to the northern, bordered with the southern wall.

 

Existing Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo. Southern wall.

 

Fig. 64. Existing Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo. Southern wall.

 

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 palace of Bogolyubsky.

Preserved northern extensions to the Church of Nativity of the Virgin (maybe, like the rest of the "burg" buildings) are built of white stone of average quality (yellow and porous), treated fairly smoothly. The large number of various carved stones, found during the excavations39, shows that the buildings of the burg were richly decorated. Perhaps they were mostly two-storey and had marquee tops, depicted on the miniature of Litsevoj Chronicle of XVI century (Fig. 65)40.

 

The construction of temples in Bogolyubovo. Miniature of Litsevoj Chronicle of XVI century.

 

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin44 (we shall speak about the forechurches of the temple in Chapter 3). G.K. Wagner believed that detached Our Ladys Pillar, surmounted by this capital, was located not far from the entrance to the Church of Nativity45 (Fig. 67).

 

So-called four faces capital. Modern view.

 

Fig. 66. So-called four faces capital. Modern view.

 

Our Ladys Pillar in XII century. Reconstruction by G.K. Vagner.

 

Fig. 67. Our Ladys 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 Jerusalem, Byzantium and Western Europe46). We can lead an additional argument in favor of this hypothesis: the "four faces" block in XIX century was revered as a shrine (it was built into the monastery wall, there was a church dome above it, and then a chapel was arranged47) is unlikely that a simple construction block could deserve such an exceptional honor.

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 Kiev. However, even the example of few remaining buildings shows that the construction of the "burg" had a lot of stages and was to take much more than one year. Accordingly, we may date the beginning of construction of Bogolyubovo Palace by 1158 and consider that its main core was built in the border of 1150s and 1160s, but the completion of various parts of the palace complex continued at least during the first half of 1160s (perhaps even until the beginning of 1170s).

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).

 

3. Church of Nativity of the Virgin

 

The church52 of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo, apparently, was the central, highest and most richly decorated white stone construction of the Princes "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 Kiev, and built the city of Bogolyubovo, and surrounded it with ramparts, and erected two stone churches53. There is no doubt that this message concerns the Churches of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo and of Intercession on the Nerl, because First Novgorod Chronicle reports: "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"54. Consequently, both chronicles clearly linked the foundation of the city of Bogolyubovo and the construction of churches of Nativity and Intercession. And Fourth Novgorod Chronicle gives an unambiguous date of Bogolyubovo foundation 115855.

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 Church of Nativity was the first building of Bogolyubovo ensemble.

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 monastery57.

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin58. Apparently, that accelerated the destruction of the temple: in 170559 and 172260 the head, vaults and a large part of the walls fell. In 1751 the remains of the church were almost completely dismounted61. On that place a new temple of white stone (re-use) and brick was built, and its plan almost exactly repeated the plan of the church of Andrey Bogolyubsky.

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.

 

Detail of the western part of the northern wall of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo. View from the interior. Arrows indicate the traces of turning.

 

Fig. 68. Detail of the western part of the northern wall of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo. View from the interior. Arrows indicate the traces of turning.

 

Thus, the plan of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin is known to us (Fig. 69). The temple had 4 pillars, 3 apses, was slightly elongated from west to east (length without apses about 13 m, width 10 m). Average side of the omphalos 4.5 m. The temple had not cross-like, but round pillars (their intact remains were opened by the excavations of N.N. Voronin63).

 

Plan of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin of XII century (by N.N. Voronin).

 

Fig. 69. Plan of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin of XII century (by N.N. Voronin).

 

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 Western Europe.

Church of Nativity of the Virgin had the arcature-columnar zone (its preserved remains on the western part of the northern wall are shown at Fig. 61). N.N. Voronin, basing on the analysis of XVIII century frescoes with figures, partially covered by the northern additions to the temple, showed that there were the frescoes of XII century were at the location of the frescoes of XVIII century, and, accordingly, the arcature-columnar zone was painted, as in Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir64.

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 Church of Intercession on the Nerl, closest to it by style and proportions, is also one-domed. But the question of the proportions of Nativity church deserves separate consideration.

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 8.1 m above the floor of the ancient church.

But the Church of Intercession on the Nerl, relatively close in size and proportions, the height of the choir is only 5.4 m. Therefore, if we assume that the level of the choir of Nativity church is located midway between the floor of the church and the abutments of the omphalos arches, the height of the temple is supposed to be 19.2 m only up to the omphalos arches. N.N. Voronin rightly pointed out that this height is exaggerated, as the church acquires unnaturally elongated up proportions, and believed that the choir was not in the middle of the height of the pillars, but much higher nearly two-thirds of the height66 (see the reconstruction of the original form of Nativity Church by N.N. Voronin at Fig. 70).

 

The initial view of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin. Reconstruction by N.N. Voronin.

 

Fig. 70. The initial view of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin. Reconstruction by N.N. Voronin.

 

We must fully support the position of N.N. Voronin that the choir of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin was significantly above the middle of the pillars, as the proportion of Bogolyubovo church in the reconstruction of the researcher looks absolutely adequate. For example, the ratio of the width of the western facade to its height in Vladimir Assumption Cathedral of Andrey Bogolyubsky and the Cathedral of St. Demetrius is close to 1, in the Church of Intercession on the Nerl 0,85, in the reconstruction of N.N. Voronin also 0,85.

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 (Kiev, Chernigov, Novgorod, Pskov, etc.), any general and compulsory system of the height of the choir is also absent. For example, the choir of the Cathedral of Ivanovsky Monastery in Pskov is approximately at two-thirds of the height of the pillars, of the Church of St. Nicholas on the Lipna at one third, of Boris and Gleb Cathedral in Chernigov about three fifths, of Pyatnitskaya church in Chernigov about two fifths.

Thus, we accept the reconstruction the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bogolyubovo by N.N. Voronin (see Fig. 70), although with some reservations. The matter is that the existing doorway in the northern wall of the church, which prior led to the choir from the passage above the arch, is much higher than the current and ancient floors (for about 0.8 m). It looks very strange: why not to build the floor at the level of the choir originally, why two or three "extra" steps up in the "ceremonial" passage from the Prince's palace to the choir of the church were necessary?

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 Church of Nativity (that turning we have mentioned above).

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 Church of Nativity of the Virgin of XII century at a height of about 7.3 m. This is only 1.9 m higher than the choir of the Church of Intercession on the Nerl. And since the church in Bogolyubovo is bigger than the Church of Intercession (the side of omphalos about 4.5 m vs 3.2 m, the size without the apses about 13 x 10 m vs 8 x 7 m), and then, if we take the proportions of the Church of Nativity similar to the proportions of the Church of Intercession, the choir in Bogolyubovo temple turns out to be almost in the middle of the height of the pillars.

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 Church of Intercession on the Nerl. Small zoomorphic sculpture was found during the excavations in Bogoliubovo68, therefore, the bases of the columns of the arcature-columnar zone of the Church of Nativity could be not only wedge-shaped, but also zoomorphic, as the bases of the columns of the church of Intercession.

The temple had perspective portals. Their columns were smooth, and archivolts were probably carved69.

Let us consider the question of the forechurches of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin.

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 Andreys 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.

Theoretically, such wooden forechurches might have been available from the west, south and north of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin. But the northern and southern forechurches would have prevented the passage under the arches. Accordingly, we suppose that the temple had only the western forechurch, and the Prince's body was put there. It is absolutely unnecessarily that the wooden forechurch spoiled the appearance of the ensemble: it could be plastered, lined by quadras, whitewashed, and even decorated with carving.

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 Church of Nativity of the Holy Virgin in the city of Bogolyubovo, and beautified it more than all other churches... And he built that church in memory of himself76. And, indeed, the memory of Andrey turned out to be inseparable from his unique architectural ensemble in Bogolyubovo: the prince remained in history as Andrey Bogolyubsky.

 

Chapter 8. To the question of reconstruction and date of the Church of Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl

 

Sergey Zagraevsky

 

Introduction

Chapter 1.Organization of production and processing of white stone in ancient Russia

Chapter 2. The beginning of Russian Romanesque: Jury Dolgoruky or Andrey Bogolyubsky?

Chapter 3. About the hypothetical intermediate building of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Virgin Mary

in Suzdal in 1148 and the original view of Suzdal temple of 12221225

Chapter 4. Questions of date and status of Boris and Gleb Church in Kideksha

Chapter 5. Questions of architectural history and reconstruction of Andrey Bogolyubskys  

Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir

Chapter 6. Redetermination of the reconstruction of Golden Gate in Vladimir

Chapter 7. Architectural ensemble in Bogolyubovo: questions of history and reconstruction

Chapter 8. To the question of reconstruction and date of the Church of Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl

Chapter 9. Questions of the rebuilding of Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir by Vsevolod the Big Nest

Chapter 10. Questions of the original view and date of Dmitrievsky Cathedral in Vladimir

Notes

 

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