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Networking in Muscovy: Archbishop Afanasii of Kholmogory and his Capital Connections

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Afanasii, the Siberian monk who became the first archbishop of Kholmogory and Vaga, displayed remarkable skill in developing and maintaining a network of contacts in Moscow, building upon the traditional practice of distribution of podnosy by church hierarchs. The Arkhangel’sk market gave him access to a wide variety of luxury goods which he brought to the capital as gifts not only for those at the top of the religious and secular hierarchy but for many of lesser status whose positions made them “door-keepers.” He maintained these contacts for over two decades while managing to remain on good terms with both the Miloslavskii and Naryshkin factions during Peter’s minority. Peter’s visits to the North during the 1690s intensified the working relationship between tsar and archbishop, while their shared interests drew Afanasii more deeply into royal projects. Afanasii, like his Siberian compatriot Semen Ul’ianovich Remezov, exemplified in his strengths and weaknesses the characteristics of “Peter’s people” outside of court circles and away from the center.

Affiliations: 1: University of Nebraska-Lincoln,


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