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 Vasiliy Kluchevsky

Born:   January 16, 1841
Deceased:   May 12, 1911



Kluchevsky Vasiliy Osipovich, famous Russian historian, is born on January 16, 1841 in the Voskresenskoye village near Penza in the family of a poor beneficed clergyman. His father is his first teacher, but unfortunately dies in August 1850, and the family has to move to Penza, where future scientist attends parish religious school and district religious school, and later is admitted to theological seminary. Since a schoolboy, Vasiliy Osipovich shows a good knowledge of many works in history. Young man leaves theological seminary for the opportunity to dedicate himself to science and starts preparing for entering the university.

Ambitious young man enters Moscow State University in 1861, the year serfdom is abolished in Russia, and new period starts in life of young scientist. His teachers are famous and talented people. The time of Vasiliy Osipovich’s studies coincides with important changes in the country’s life – bourgeois reforms of 1860s. Kluchevsky doesn’t approve either extreme measures of the government, or students’ riots. His final composition describes foreign view of Russia in 15-17 centuries and brings him a gold medal and a place at the department “for preparation to professorship”.

Master thesis of Vasiliy Osipovich describes hagiographies of over 5000 canonized persons and reveals their role in historic process. After thesis defense Kluchevsky gets permission to teach in higher educational institutions and reads course of general history in several universities and academies. Since 1879 Kluchevsky replaces famous historian Soloviev in his professor chair at Russian history department of Moscow State University. Vasiliy Kluchevsky’s teaching skills make him famous, and he deserves it – being extremely talented in portraying scenes of the past and witty in plain talk and lectures, the scientist draws picture galleries of historical figures, memorized by the listeners.


Kluchevsky’s doctor thesis is published in the “Russkaya Mysl’” (Russian Idea) magazine and describes administrative authority of boyare, Russian class. Most famous work of the scientist is “Course of Russian History” in 5 volumes, which occupied Kluchevsky’s mind and time for 30 years. The scientist dares to publish the work of his life only in the beginning of the 20th century Historian suggests colonization to be the main factor, affecting Russian history, which allows diving the whole history into four periods. First period lies between 8th and 13th centuries, when Russian people concentrated at the Middle and Upper Dnepr with accompanying small rivers. At that time Russia consisted of independent towns, which maintained foreign commerce. The second period, dating 13th - middle of 15th century, saw main part of the population moving to territories between two rivers – the Upper Volga and Oka. The country was still in fragmented state, however fragments became larger – independent principalities. The third period took place from the middle of 15th century to the second decade of 17th century, when Russian population colonized south-eastern steppes near the river Don with rich chernozem soils, and the lands began uniting, and peasants became serfs. The last, but not the least, fourth period of Russian history covered times, when Russian Empire was formed, and monarchy found support in military men. Economy of that period turned to industry of plants and factories.

Vasiliy Kluchevsky’s scientific concept reflects public and science ideas of the second part of the 19th century. Importance of the natural factor and geographical position for historical development of a nation meets demands of positive philosophy.

Vasiliy Osipovich Kluchevsky dies in Moscow on May 12, 1911.


Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian history     

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