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Appropriation of Morality. The Polemicist’s Problem of Choice in Comprehension of Transformations in Russia in the 16th–17th Centuries

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Abstract. The article discusses influence of the moral discourse on the social consciousness in Russia in the 16th–17th centuries. Noting the complexity and multifacetedness of “morality” concept, author makes assumptions about lack of attention to morality in modern historiography. Author presents some modern approaches to morality used for further analysis. Author considers the supporters’ and opponents’ attitude to rtransformations and autocracy from the perspective of morality drawing on the polemic writings by Ivan the Terrible, Andrey Kurbsky and Yury Krizhanich. Author concludes that Ivan the Terrible admitted himself not being an ideal of behavior though he tried to justify the cruelty of political changes by the need for “samoderzhstvo”. Thus, he claimed power itself as the source of morality. Kurbsky denied the authorities’ exclusive right to morality. He claimed the only way of saving the state was the governor’s uprightness and the end of tyranny toward noblemen. Using the concepts of “chuzhebesiye” and “gostogonstvo” introduced by Krizhanich the author of article analyzes the connection of these phenomena with the autocracy strengthening in Muscovy. In сconclusion, he states that Russian political culture is Eurocentric, and the polemicists’ negative or positive attitude to the transformations is determined by their personal choice and attitude towards tyranny.

Keywords: morality, transformations, autocracy, chuzhebesiye, Eurocentrism, tyranny, Ivan the Terrible, Andrey Kurbsky, Yury Krizhanich, Russian history.

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