Sacred spaces and imperial boundaries on Catherine II’s southern frontier
Archbishop Nikiforos, Catherine II, edinoverie, Imperial Russia, Orthodoxy
Canadian Slavonic Papers
In 1775, Catherine II established the diocese of Slaviansk and Kherson in those territories recently acquired from the Ottoman Empire as a result of the Russo-Turkish War. The Empress christened the new southern vistas, Novorossiia (New Russia), and immediately launched a project to transform the sparsely populated lands and integrate them into the Russian Empire. Catherine viewed religion in utilitarian terms and considered the Orthodox Church, in particular, as a very important “instrument” to realize her ambitions. As a reflection, perhaps, of her aspirations to increase the population of the southern borderlands through intentional colonization, she appointed, successively, the Greek prelates Voulgaris and Theotokis as bishops of the new diocese. The bishops, Theotokis in particular, endeavoured to realize Catherine’s self-evidently reasonable, yet abstract, goal of harmonizing a discordant periphery peopled with Orthodox Christians, Old Believers, Dukhobors, and a host of others of indeterminate identity, with an idealized Russian and Orthodox imperial centre. The reality of the frontier, however, compelled Theotokis to reach some concord with a universe of porous and fluid boundaries between faiths, ethnicities, and empires, the best example of which was his idea of accommodation with the Old Believers known as edinoverie.
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Bruess, Gregory, "Sacred spaces and imperial boundaries on Catherine II’s southern frontier" (2020). Faculty Publications. 389.