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The tsar's descent from caesar : clans, genealogy, mythmaking, and statehood in Russia, 1400-1550

Author: Cherie Kartchner Woodworth
Publisher: 2001.
Dissertation: Ph. D. Yale University 2001
Series: (3030851).
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"In the early sixteenth century, a new story about the origin of the Russian princes appeared, tracing their origins back to Caesar Augustus. In 1547, it was incorporated into the coronation ceremony of the young Ivan IV (later Ivan the Terrible), when he assumed the throne and claimed the title "Tsar" of all Russia. What was the meaning and motivation of this fabricated genealogical story? For over a century,  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Genealogy
History
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Cherie Kartchner Woodworth
OCLC Number: 52848523
Notes: "December 2001."
Reproduction Notes: Photocopy. Ann Arbor : UMI, 2002. 326 p. ; 22 cm. (3030851).
Description: 326 leaves ; 28 cm
Contents: Chapter 1. Boundaries, borderlands, and princes --
Chapter 2. What is a princely clan? --
Chapter 3. The golden belt, chronicle history and clan history --
Chapter 4. Three grand princes, Vitovt, Svidrigailo, Iurii Smolenskii --
Chapter 5. Family politics and family stories --
Chapter 6. Geneaology, history, and legend --
Chapter 7. The Tsar's descent from Caesar. Claiming a place in world history --
Conclusion --
Appendix: Princely clan biographies --
Bibliography.
Series Title: (3030851).
Responsibility: by Cherie K. Woodworth.

Abstract:

"In the early sixteenth century, a new story about the origin of the Russian princes appeared, tracing their origins back to Caesar Augustus. In 1547, it was incorporated into the coronation ceremony of the young Ivan IV (later Ivan the Terrible), when he assumed the throne and claimed the title "Tsar" of all Russia. What was the meaning and motivation of this fabricated genealogical story? For over a century, historians have seen it as further evidence that the newly-born Russian empire was founded on autocracy and Moscow's claim to be the 'Third Rome, ' heir to the imperial legacy. But the obvious conclusion is misleading. This dissertation argues that the crucial element in the formulation was not 'tsar' or 'caesar' but descent, not empire but genealogy. Beginning with a genealogical database of 1600 Russian princes, this dissertation shows their complex kin relations and political behavior based on complicated clan hierarchies. Unlike princes in western Europe, Russian princes took no effort to restrict the number of heirs or establish a single lineage. By carefully tracking the genealogical records kept by the princes themselves, this dissertation demonstrates that princes did indeed cultivate a broader clan consciousness. Genealogy provided the Russian elite with both a hierarchy and a framework for their first synthetic view of history. Each prince with a genealogy became invested in the common conception of the past. Genealogy created a robust and flexible political structure of cooperation, rather than competition, which became the engine driving the expansion of the early-modern Russian empire. It was in this context that the fabricated descent from Caesar arose. This genealogical myth did not set the tsar apart from and above other princes, for dozens of other princes at the Moscow court could also claim the same descent through a common ancestor, and the Roman descent myth was common throughout Europe. Thus, paradoxically, understood in its context 'the tsar's descent from caesar' signifies the opposite of what historians have believed. Autocracy, military coercion, and imperial ideology are inadequate explanations for the rise of Moscow. Moscow became the dominant political center on the eastern border of Europe through the conceptual framework of interlinked clans, which created a complex, hierarchy of stakeholder princes"--Leaves [iv-v].

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