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Prof. Dr. S.V. Zagraevsky


To the question of Patriarch Nikon’s prohibition

for hipped-roof temples construction





In the last years some researchers question the fact that Patriarch Nikon’s prohibition for hipped-roof temples construction in the middle of the 1650-ies took place. After analyzing all arguments "pro" and "contra", Prof. S.V. Zagraevsky shows that this prohibition actually took place, and analyzes the reasons of this prohibition.




The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.



The fact that the ban of the Patriarch Nikon for the construction tent churches (i.e. churches with tents over the pump – the main volume) in the middle of the 1650-ies seemed to be until recently well known and is not subject to doubt. First, it drew the attention of more researchers who lived in the XIX century (as N. In. Pokrovskiy1, N. In. Sultans2). This fact was enacted and M. A. Ilyin, whose position was also reflected in the major publication "the history of the Russian art" of the late 1950's-early 1960-ies3. In support of this fact cited a number of ramosmania letters, especially the following:"...To build temples in the order of the correct and authorized statutes, how about this rule and Charter of the Church command, to build on a single, about three, about five chapters, and the hip of the Church is not to build..."4.

Reasons this prohibition, most researchers of XIX – the mid XX century considered "necrosociety" tent5. But consider any architectural form "non-canonical" can be used only if you know the Canon, which the or other form can match or not match. But if not known neither Canon nor any relevant guidance referred to in hemoscanning the charters of the "rules and statutes of the Church" (one of the researchers does not lead such canons, rules, or statutes), and the "necrosociety" as the reason for such a global ban on an entire branch of Russian architecture seems dubious.

Not less doubtful is the cause, wrote about M. A. Il'in,"the Church saw in this architectural the form of expression of the secular, "worldly" origin, which increasingly made itself to know the architecture to build temples. The Church in the person of Patriarch Nikon decided start the fight against the "secularization" of the architecture of the temples"6. It is unlikely, for example, forms of the architectural complex, built by the Patriarch in "his" new Jerusalem monastery, can someone to seem less "mundane", ie, less flamboyant and more austere than, for example, the forms of the Church of the ascension or of the Intercession in Medvedkovo.

In the lack of clarity about the reasons for the ban on the construction of the tent is not surprising that modern researchers doubt began to cause the fact of such a ban.

For the first time such doubt was expressed by I. L. Buseva-Davydov, who wrote about "so-called" ban Nikon and thought the ban if there was, it was "private", "selective" nature, that is, the Patriarch wanted to ban the tents, but only limit their number7.

Position I. L. Busevac-Davydova was supported by the Russian Orthodox Church8, which an irreversible ban of Patriarch Nikon creates a certain canonical disturbance during the construction of numerous modern tent churches.

D. F. poloznev in his article with edifying title of "Patriarch Nikon tent the temples was not forbidden, or again about the benefits of treatment to the sources", based on the analysis hemoscanning diplomas Nikon, wrote: "Natriarch Nikon had not issued any decree banning the tents. His blessed letters belonged to specific temples and was only ordered to arrange for them or their the aisles round the head... And so favorite academic public quote ("on a single, about three, about five chapters, and the hip is by no means to build" – S. Z.)represents a late a distorted compilation of original Nikon diplomas... the architecture of the temples was determined by traditions the area, tastes, experiences and preferences of parishioners and instructions Bishop"9.

There is no doubt that sources to address not only useful but necessary, and hardly anyone of the researchers makes sense to be reminded of, especially in the title of scientific labor. But first, you need to analyze the source data, which in this case are the facts themselves construction tent churches.

Imagine myself no one kremastinou certificate, directly or indirectly talking about ban Nikon tent churches, we do not have. Can we conclude such a ban just by looking at the history of old Russian stone tent architecture?

Since the most known to the public masterpieces of hip architecture (Church Of the ascension, the intercession Cathedral on the Moat, the Church of the Transfiguration in Island) was built in the XVI century, many believe that the heyday of hip architecture flourished in this century and during the XVII century, this architecture, as it is in itself itself was on the decline, and the prohibition of Nikon if they had a place that, by and large, there was little change. In order to understand what is actually was otherwise, we're going to list the steepled churches that have at least an approximate date.

In The XVI century was built: Trinity, now the intercession Church in Alexandrov Sloboda (1513 around year10), Church of the ascension in Kolomenskoye (1529-1532), the assumption Cathedral of the Brusensky monastery in Kolomna (1552), Church of St. Nicholas Pokrovsky monastery in Balakhna (1552), the Cathedral of the intercession on the Moat (1554-1560), the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Saviour vorotynsky monastery near Kaluga (1550), Boris and Gleb Cathedral in Staritsa (1558-1561), the Church of Kosma and Damian Church in Murom (1564), Nicolai Church Miracle worker "Dolgolet" in Ryazan (1566), Church of Martyr Nikita in. (1566-1567), the Crucifixion Church "who under the bells" in Alexandrov (1570), Vvedenskaya Church of the Dormition monastery in Staritsa (1570), Church of the beheading of John the Baptist in Maiden The field (about 1570), the Church of St. Nicholas (Gostinodvorskaya) in Kazan (about 1570), the assumption Church of the Spaso-evfimiev monastery (1570), the Annunciation Church of the Trinity monastery Lyutikova (1570-s) Resurrection Church in Gorodnya (up to 1578), the Church of Elijah the Prophet in Prussia (until 1578), Church of Metropolitan Peter in Pereslavl-Zalessky (1585), the Church of our Saviour Transformation in Spas-Tushino (1586-1587), the Church of the Nativity in Conversations (about 1590), Vvedenskaya Church of the Trinity monastery Boldin (1592), Church of the Epiphany in Krasnoe-na-Volge (1592), Church of the Smolensk icons of the mother in Coraline (1594-1597), the Church of St. George Episcopal monastery in Serpukhov (1598-1606), the Church of Boris and Gleb Borisov Town (at the turn of XVI–XVII centuries), Church of the Transfiguration in the Island (at the turn of XVI–XVII centuries11).

We have listed 27 temples. Since, for various reasons, this list is not exhaustive, it is we may assume that the 1513 prior to the beginning of the XVII century tent churches were built about 30-35.

And since the late 1620-ies to the mid 1650's was built (not counting numerous tents on the aisles): the assumption "wonderful" Church alekseevskogo monastery in Uglich (late 1620's or 1630-ies), the Cathedral of Archangel Michael in Nizhny Novgorod (1628-1631), the Cathedral of St. Alexis the Man of God in Moscow Alekseevsky monastery (1631-1634), the Church of Zosima and Savvaty of Solovki in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra (1635-1638), Church Of the intercession in Medvedkovo (1635-1640), the Church of the Three Hierarchs "ilk under the bells" St. Anthony Sian monastery (1639-1661), the Church of St. Martinian Belozersky in The Ferapontov convent (1640-1641), Church The descent of the Holy spirit in Ryazan (1642), Church of the Annunciation St. Anthony Siysky monastery (1642-1643), Church of the Trinity in the Trinity-the Golenishchev (1644-1646), Church of the assumption in Veshnyaki (1644-1646), the assumption Church of the Nizhny Novgorod caves monastery (1640s) Church of Euphemia of Suzdal Nizhny Novgorod Pechersk monastery (1640), Church of St. Nicholas in the Boots (the end 1640s), the Church of the exaltation of the virgin in Tula (end of 1640s), the Kazan Church Trinity monastery in Murom (1648-1652), Church of the Resurrection in Gonchar (1649), Holy Gates, with churches Epiphany and Ferapont Belozersky in Ferapontov monastery (1649), Church of the Nativity of the virgin in Putinki (1649-1652), Entry into Jerusalem Cathedral of St. John the Baptist monastery in Kazan (early 1650s), Vvedenskaya Church vorotynsky monastery (early 1650s), Trinity Church of the Savvino-Storozhevsky monastery (early 1650s), the assumption Church Annunciation monastery in Nizhny Novgorod (early 1650s), Smolensk Church John the Baptist monastery in Vyazma (about 1652), Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh Nikolo-Volosovsky monastery (about 1652), Church of Euphemia of Suzdal of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery (1653), Church of the Transfiguration "ilk under the bells" of the Annunciation monastery in Kirzhach (before 1656).

We see the same churches (27, and since this list is not exhaustive, it is roughly 30-35), but built in a much shorter time timespan is less than 30 years. And in the last decade – from the mid The 1640s to the mid 1650s- was built about two-thirds of these temples.

After the middle of the 1650-ies for twenty years steepled churches practically built. Then they began to appear again, but much less frequently. Mid 1670-ies to the end of the seventeenth century was built only 5 of these churches: the Church ofthe Church of the Vladimir Icon of the mother of God on Bozhedomka in Yaroslavl (until 1678), Trinity Church in Alexandrova desert (until 1678), the Nikolskaya Church in the Petrovsky-Lytkarino (1681-1690), Znamenskaya Church in Andine (to 1690), the Church of Elijah the Prophet "ilk under the bells" in Teykovo (1694-1699). Sometimes tents were erected over the aisles (as in the Church Nikola Wet 1665-1672 years in Yaroslavl), but such tents can be attributed to tent architecture only conditionally.

Unique the hipped roof of the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, founded by Nikon in 1656 New Jerusalem monastery was built after the death of the Nikon – not earlier the start of the 1680-ies, is not a phenomenon of the hip architecture, as they do not was blocked by the bulk of the temple, and replaying exactly the tent was dictated by the task "creative copying" of the Jerusalem model.

So we see that in the period from the mid 1640s to the mid 1650s hip architecture has survived genuine its heyday (as many tent churches was not built a in one of the previous decade), and suddenly within a year or two actually stopped across the country. The sporadic resumption of the tent construction twenty years later, already belongs to another era.

And this purely statistical fact is a direct and primary evidence that the middle of the 1650-ies have taken place a ban on the construction of the tent churches, as such a termination of the playback is so important for old Russian architecture of the XVI–XVII centuries of architectural form, like a tent over the naos could not be explained by any other factors – no change "architectural fashion", or technical, financial or personnel problems.

As this the construction was stopped, not in any region and throughout the country, and the ban could only come "from the top", ie from the Patriarch Nikon. He could be expressed in the form not the official decree and the oral instructions or even repeated refusal to bless the construction of temples tent, but actually it does not change.

Actually, this is possible it would be to study the possible causes of the Patriarchal ban, but still makes sense to bring and some additional evidence of this prohibition.

First, you need remember the already mentioned ramosmania certificates with ban to build a tent temples. Them to our times has reached a large number (only in the collection of documents in the history of the Vyatka diocese of the prohibition to build tent top is found in hemoscanning charters 1655-1703 years at least 20 times12). D. F. Poloznev denied the prohibition of the Nikon on the basis that, firstly, in the specified the company issued and certificates without restrictions on tents, and secondly, many the letters with the bans date back to just three basic patterns13. But we remember that ramosmania letters are not the main and additional proof patriarshego ban (main – termination of hip construction), and even "prohibitive" letters would be sufficient to confirmation of the fact of the ban. And such letters there are dozens. In terms of rigid hierarchical structure of the Russian Orthodox Church without Patriarch's blessing so clearly and unambiguously expressed prohibitions on the tent the construction in so many hemoscanning the letters could not appear.

Second, the monitoring of PN. Maximov, from the mid-seventeenth century in Central Russia wooden tent-roofed Church was replaced by the longline and the churches "the stone thing" (ie, the same form being repeated stone temples, usually a cubic one or five domes in a pyramidal roof), and only in the Russian North wooden steepled churches continued to be built in large quantity14. And because wood is much easier to build a tent than the dome or the head of complex form (for the frame of the tent enough to bring in the top a few logs, and for frames other forms of completions of the temples requires curved or patterned the segments of the tree), the refusal wooden tents with totally unjustified construction point of view and can be explained only any "nastroyeniye" prohibitions.

Thirdly, when in 1655 it was decided to build two chapels have built in 1646 tent the Church of the assumption in Veshnyaki, the Nikon in cremosano literacy is commanded to "...of the head b on the altars were round, not peaked"15. This is another confirmation of the fact that the attitude of the Patriarch to the tent architecture between 1646 and 1655 years indigenous way changed.

Fourth, when the middle of the 1650-ies the construction of tents it is necessary a pump so dramatically stopped, steepled bell tower (not temples "ilk under the bells", namely the bell tower without its own initiations) as built, and continued to be built, and in large quantities. Therefore, it was not technological the difficulty of erecting tents or unwillingness of churchwardens and architects to build the tents as they are (in Suzdal eparchy in the XVIII century over the bell there was even tents are fine "Udachnoe" forms), namely to ban tents on the pump.

Fifthly, G. V. Alferov, analyzing the documents related to the construction activities of Patriarch Nikon, showed that his instructions to the masters were so detailed that it can rightfully considered by the architect at least three monasteries built by him: The Voskresensky new Jerusalem, Iversky Valdai and Cross Kiya16. And since the Nikon is so attentive and professional attitude to architecture such a meaningful and global ban on the Church marquee, in fact, ended a whole branch of old Russian architecture, could not be accepted in addition to Patriarch.

Sixth, the ban of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on a particular architectural form in the middle 1650 years was not unprecedented. For example, in the early fourteenth centuryhad the place of the Church's ban on Romano-Gothic zooantropomorfnogo (i.e., images of people and animals) sculpture the decoration of churches17. At the dawn of the stone old Russian architecture took place and the Church's prohibition on "Nikopolidis" churches, i.e. it was required mandatory device in the stone Orthodox churches of the dome18.

The analogy with other Church bans allows to understand why the construction of temples tent after the mid-1650s years, still revived, though twenty years later, and in small quantities. Not fully executed, and then ignored, and other prohibitions – for example, in the early sixteenth century, architects and patrons bypassed the ban on "Nikopolidis" temples, starting to erect the tents, which were typological the counterparts of the domes19. A ban on zooantropomorfny sculptures is also constantly broken, and, perhaps, the most global violation was the heyday of the Russian Baroque of the temple sculptures in the eighteenth century – despite the fact that the Big Moscow Cathedral 1666 agreed that the temples carved can only be crucifixion20, and 1722 the Synod forbade "to have the icons in churches or carved istesanny, sdavlenie, sculptured". And in 1832 was accepted but has not started commonly performed a complete ban of the Synod on the temple sculpture21.

And given the fact that Nikon in 1666 was deprived the Patriarchal dignity, and sent into exile, occasional violations of its ban on tent construction in 1670-ies absolutely natural. Natural and the continued construction of wooden tents in the Russian North, where, as they say, "to God highly, to the Tsar far" and tent, as we have said, much easier to build than a dome.

Seventh, large-scale reform efforts Nikon began in 1653-1654, and that followed about a year later the ban on the construction of the tent completely fit into its framework.

Now we can move on to the last question of our research: why Nikon banned steepled churches?

Formal the reason probably was "necrosociety" tent, mentioned almost all researchers, as it was quite natural justification of any Patriarchal prohibition. But what could this be "acanonical", one of the researchers did not elaborate, and this is not surprising: as showed and I. L. Buseva-Davydov22, and the author of this article23, no Church canons, regulations and statutes relating to architectural features temples, ancient stone temple architecture of the not existed, and the words hemoscanning letters of what you want"to build temples according to the order of the correct and authorised statutes, how about this rule and Charter of the Church command" was not more than a formality. Besides the ban, coming from the Patriarch Nikon, in conditions created of rigid centralization of the Russian Orthodox Church (suffice it to recall one of the titles Nikon – "the Great Lord and Emperor") in those days could be equated to the Constitution and to rule.

We we believe that "necrosociety" tent consisted of the following: since, as we mentioned above, the dome in ancient temple stone architecture was mandatory element24, which began in the XVI century universal replacement dome tent could not cause censures of the Church hierarchy. Therefore, if you wish any of them would tent to deny, that in the end did Nikon.

Why such a desire came from Nikon, the options.

Option one: on the part of the Patriarch took place a kind of "monopoly" on the marquee as the Nikon, forbidding others yet to build the tents, he decided to erect a tent-roofed rotunda in the New Jerusalem. (Formally, as we have said, this rotunda had not violated the prohibition, since it is not had their own Church dedications).

Option two: the Patriarch is obliged to take care of the material side of Church life, thought hip architecture too expensive, technologically complex and inefficient from the point of view of capacity temples. Indeed, the stone dome to build much easier than the tent, and the dome can cover a much larger span. The fact that the stone tent it has almost the same thrust as the dome, and to achieve uniformity of thrust at high altitude tent (relatively speaking to the middle is not "dipped") – a complex engineering challenge.

Option three: the tents were not satisfied with the Nikon purely personal (e.g., aesthetic) reasons. After all, the Patriarch was a native of Novgorod, where tent-roofed architecture was not extended, and tents could be for him, strange and alien.

In conclusion, we note that in the second half of the XVII century, the search for new forms of completions of the temples instead of the tent – forbidden – continued. And how in the beginning of XVI century tent was the replacement of the dome, and after the Patriarch's prohibition of the dome, in the new conditions, was the replacement tent. Tent (respectively, and substituting it with the dome) on the large and high the drum created a feeling of elevation and solemnity, and the optimal the main volume from the point of view of roominess and ease of construction there was a quadrangle. The resulting form "octagon on square" has become one of the most mass in the Russian architecture of late XVII – XVIII century.




1. Pokrovsky N. In. Ancient Kostroma Ipatiev monastery // Journal of archaeology and history, published by the Archaeological Institute. SPb., 1885. Vol. 4. S. 33.

2. Sultans N. In. Russian tent-roofed churches and their attitude to the Georgian-Armenian pyramidal the coatings of the Architect. SPb., 1887. No. 9-10. S. 67.

3. Ilyin M. A. Stone the architecture of the third quarter of the XVII century // History of Russian art. T.4. M., 1959. P.162.

4. TSof it. in the book: Ilyin M. A. ibid.

5. Ilyin M. A. ibid.

6. M. A. Il'in, Moscow. M., 1970.

7. Buseva-Davydova I. L. On the so-called ban tent churches by Patriarch Nikon] / / Trudy GIM. 2004. Vol. 139. P. 317-323.

8. Cm., for example, the official publication of the Russian Orthodox Church "Patriarch Nikon – the architect Holy Russia" (M., 2011).

9. Poloznev D. F. Patriarch Nikon tent churches not prohibited, or again about the benefits of treatment to the sources // History and culture The Rostov land. The materials of the conference2007. Rostov, 2008. P. 6-27.

10. Zagraevsky S. V. Trinity, now Pokrovskaya, the Church in Alexandrov Sloboda, the first stone tent-roofed Church of Ancient Russia. New research. Electronic publishing: electronic research library "Rusarh", 2014.

11. Kavelmaher Century Church of theHoly mother Church The Transfiguration in the Island. M., 2009.

12. Poloznev D. F. The Decree. Op.

13. Ibid.

14. Maximov P. N. Wooden architecture of the XVII century // History of Russian art. T.4. M, 1959. S. 102.

15. CIT. in the book: M. A. Il'in, Moscow. M., 1970.

16. Alferov G. V. on the construction activities of Patriarch Nikon, / / the Architectural legacy. No.18. M., 1969. P. 30-44.

17. Zagraevsky S. V. Yuri Dolgoruky and ancient Russian white stone architecture. M., 2001. GL. 6.

18. ZagraevskyS. V. Typological formation and the basic classification of the old Russian Church architecture. Saarbrücken, 2015. GL. 3.

19. Zagraevsky S. V. Decree. CIT. CH. 8.

20. Acts of the Moscow councils 1666-1667, M, 1893. GL. 43.

21. The decrees of the Holy governing Synod from 1721 to 1878 // a Guide to Orthodox clergy. M., 1878.

22. Buseva-Davydov I. L. Symbols architecture on ancient written sources of XI–XVII centuries // Hermeneutics old Russian literature of the XVI – nach. XVIII V. M., 1989.

23. ZagraevskyS. V. Methodological problems in the study of the Canon, symbols and proportions in the Orthodox the temple architecture. Electronic publishing: electronic research library "Rusarh", 2016.

24. ZagraevskyS. V. Typological formation... GL. 3.


Moscow, 2017.


© Sergey Zagraevsky

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