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Administrating a Right Life: Secular and Spiritual Guidance at Solovki Monastery in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

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image of Russian History

The spiritual and economic endeavors of Russian monasteries in the pre-modern period have often been studied as separate issues by scholars researching the internal life and/or impact of cloisters in a particular region. However, these two areas of monastic life worked not just in tandem, but were mutually supportive as can be observed in the responsibilities and duties of monastic leaders and officers. Solovki Monastery, with its extensive wealth and strong spiritual leadership in northern Russia, provides an excellent example for exploring the manner in which spiritual leadership and spiritual labor dovetailed with economic responsibilities and labors. A broad variety of economic records as well as pious literature and instructional texts provide evidence for the merged spiritual and temporal/economic roles of the leaders, cellarers, treasurers, bailiffs, and other individuals and groups that had designated duties or titles within the cloister. It can be observed that spiritual power and economic success were considered mutually reinforcing among the monks and the surrounding population of Solovki, and at other monasteries of pre-Petrine Russia.


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