Molchenskyy Sofroniyivskyy monastery in the materials of the Bilopillya Povit (District) Court (1793)

Serhii I. Degtyarev, Мyhailo V. Меlnyk




Abstract. This work is devoted to the little-known pages of the history of the Molchensky Sofroniyivsky monastery, which is located near the ancient city of Putivl. During its existence, the Molchensky Sofroniyivsky Monastery was repeatedly ruined and rebuilt. At various times, its walls housed such prominent historical figures as Pseudo-Demetrius I, one of the first bibliographers and religious writer Simeon Medvedev (Sylvester), Seraphim of Sarov and many others. During the XVII-XVIII centuries the monastery grew strongly, had large holdings and material wealth. Its patrons were the monarchs of the Moscow state, including Boris Godunov, Vasily Shuisky, representatives of the Romanov dynasty, and other patrons.

By the middle of the XVIII century Putivl monastery was very wealthy. He owned large land holdings and many different properties. The monastery also owned a large number of peasants. The status of the Molchensky Sofroniyivsky Monastery changed dramatically as a result of church reform in the second half of the 18th century. This was the so-called secularization of monastic possessions, initiated by decrees of Empress Catherine II. As a result of this reform, the Putivl monastery was included in the number of 3rd class monasteries. The state allocates 2.5 times less money to such monasteries than to such institutions of the 1st class. These funds were enough only to support and feed the monks. Lands belonging to monasteries were confiscated. And the monastery peasants together with the lands were transferred to the disposal of the Board of Economy. Now they became economic peasants and later merged with the state peasants.

The authors present several documents from 1793 from the State Archives of Sumy region (Ukraine). They belong to the category of act sources. These are decrees, reports, extracts from the journal of sittings of the Bilopillya district court – only 5 documents. The discovered documents help to understand the peculiarities of the implementation of the church reform of the end of the 18th century and to explore the little-known pages of the history of the Molchenskaya Sofroniivska monastery. These materials highlight the conflict that arose as a result of the improper allocation of land to the peasants removed from the power of the monastery. The solution to this problem was assigned to the Bilopillya Povit (District) Court of the Kharkiv Governorate, as it was on the territory of Bilopillya County (Povit) that the disputed lands were located.


Keywords: church history, Russian Empire, Putivl, Molchensky Sofroniyivsky Monastery, secularization, povit (district, county) court, XVIII century.