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Russian Culture in XVII century

Serious social conflicts, foreign intervention, changes in social and economic life, increase in impact of the West-European culture - all that influenced the development of Russian culture greatly. XVII century became the turning-point for the Russian culture. During the whole century the influence of the church on the culture was diminishing.

The chronicles in XVII century gave way to historico-publicistic narrations ("The Story about Tsar Feodor Ivanovich","the Story of the year 1606", 'Novaya Povest', 'Plach o Pleneniy' (1610-1612). The rise of the social and political thinking in the first quarter of XVII century was due to the depression of the Destempered Time. In 20's there appeared narrations of religious and secular authors devoted to the wild developments of this period: 'Skazaniye' by Avraamy Palitsin, the cellarer of the Troitse-Sergiyev Monastery, "Vremennik" by Clerk Ivan Timofeyev, 'Slovesa' by Prince Ivan Andreyevich Khvorostinin, "Povest" by Prince Ivan Mikhaylovich Katyrev-Rostovsky.

The authors of these works found the main reason for the social disasters in the break of the Ryurikovichs dynasty and weakening of the government. 'Novy Letopisets' written by the request of Patriarch Filaret in 1630 became a prominent historical work that officially substantiated the rights of the Romanovs to the throne. At the end of 50's the creation of the official history was entrusted to a special establishment - the Zapisnoy (Recording) Department. The main task of the department was to continue compiling of 'Stepennaya Kniga'. When the department was closed this task was partially accomplished by Clerk F. Griboyedov in 'The History'.

The first printed historical book appeared in 70's - it was a composition of a Kiev monk Innokenty Gizel "Sinopsis" ("Description"). It became the first available educational book on the Russian history from the most ancient times. The author made the main emphasis on the appropriateness of the re-unification of Ukraine with Russia.
Secular works based on systematized historical material were printed in 90's of XVII century ('The Scythian History" by Andrey Lyzlov, "the Siberian History" by S.U. Remezov).

Monk Simeon Polotsky (Samuil Emelyanovich Petrovsky-Sitnianovich) was a brilliant representative of the official publicism in the literature of XVII century. He was the first court poet who composed not only panegyrics to autocracy but also satirical, religious verses and moralistic works.

During this century various stories of everyday life were written, they depicted a daily life of simple people and blamed the church and judicial systems, the morals and manners of boyards and nobility ("Povest o Gore-Zloschastiy', "The Story of Savva Grudtsin', "Povest o Ershe Ershoviche", "The Narration about Priest Savva", "The Story about Shemyaka's Trial"). From the end of the century the woks of amateur and folk arts were being collected. P.A. Kvashnin compiled a collection of songs in 1681. In 90's he was collecting Russian proverbs and sayings.

The ways of the further development of Russian culture were a matter of strong debates in XVII century. The prospects of expansion of cultural relations with the countries of the Western Europe were regarded as means of overcoming of the cultural backwardness of Russia caused by negative historical circumstances. These ideas were expressed in the works of I.A. Khvorostinin and the clerk of the Ambassadorial Department Grigory Kotoshikhin who in 1664 ran to Sweden and there made up the well-known description of Muscovy.

Enlightenment in Russia in XVII century involved more and more layers of the population and got more and more deep and thorough character. Literacy among noblemen and city dwellers increased considerably. By the end of the century each second or third townsman could read and write. Uniformed printed textbooks were appearing: the first ABC book compiled by Vasily Burtsevy in 1634, the multiplication table in 1682, an illustrated ABC book by Karion Istomin at the end of one century.

A grammar school under the direction of Simeon Polotsky was opened at the Zaikonospassky Monastery in 1665. The school prepared clerks for the departments of the government. In 80's another school functioned at the State Printing Office where Greek language was the major discipline. In the year of 1687 the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy was opened under the initiative of Silvester Medvedev. Its curriculum had both secular and religious disciplines.

The progress of education increased the demand for books. During XVII century the State Printing Office published almost 500 titles, the secular literature was also presented among them. The first bookstore was opened in Moscow in 60's. The Tsar Court hand-written newspaper 'Kuranty' containing translations of foreign news appeared in 1621. The stocks of private libraries were also growing. The first Russian scientific library was opened at the Pharmaceutical Department.

The accumulation of scientific knowledge went on. In 1633-1638 as a result of a campaign of Cossacks Ilya Perfilyev and Rebrov the rivers Yana and Indigirka were discovered; in 1643 Mikhail Stadukhin reached the Kolyma; Kurbat Ivanov got to the Baikal; Semen Dezhnev and Fedot Popov discovered the strait between the Asia and America in 1648; expeditions of V. Poyarkov (1643-1646) and E.P. Khabarov opened a way to the Pacific ocean; and the expedition of V.V. Atlasov (1697-1699) surveyed the Kamchatka. A big contribution to the study of Mongolia and China was made by official documents of Russian embassies. The detailed description of China made by Nikolay (Milesku) Spafary (1675), the translator of the Ambassadorial Department, rendered a lot of new facts earlier completely unknown by the world science.
Accumulation of the geographical data made cartography of the country possible.

In XVII century decoration in architecture became more rich. Wood remained the basic building material. Its peak the wooden architecture of XVII century reached in a magnificent Tsar's palace in Kolomna (1667-1668). It was highly decorated with fretworks and multicoloured painting. The share of brick construction was steadily growing. The traditional temple construction reached its fullest flower in XVII century. In this period the grandiose Rostov Kremlin was erected and the ensembles of the Iosifo-Volokolamsky, Troitse-Sergiyev and Kirillo-Belozersk monasteries were accomplished.

The last quarter of XVII century gave birth to a new style. It was especially characteristic of small churches in the manors of Russian grandees - the Moscow or the Naryshkins' baroque. The Church of the Protection in Fili and the Sukharev Tower in Moscow were constructed in this style.

Painting and especially icon-drawing were under strict supervision of the church and the state and preserved traditional conservative style. The control over the activity of painters was carried out by the Armory Museum of the Kremlin that since XVII century became the art centre of the country. Its workshops accomplished works for the Tsar's Court: icons and portraits; crockery, furniture and toys. During 30 years (1626-1688) the art production in the Armory Museum was headed by Simon Ushakov who created his own art school.

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