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Church Immunities in Practice during the Reign of Ivan IV

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This article examines the dynamic and interactive relationship between the central governmental authorities in Moscow and regional church institutions, especially monasteries, during Ivan IV’s reign (1533-1584). This relationship is plainly visible in the texts of immunity charters—official exemptions from taxes or other fees exacted on churches, monasteries, and entire tracts of land. Based on the complete corpus of surviving immunity charters, this article demonstrate that regional officials sometimes violated these charters by collecting taxes and fees from persons or institutions that were supposed to be exempt from them, but that these abuses prompted immediate and stern responses from the tsar’s officials and clerics affected by these infractions, and by central authorities in (sometimes) distant Moscow. The disputes over these immunities generated a lively crisscrossing dialogue between church and state officials in the provinces and in the capital, showing the links between the Muscovite center and periphery.

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