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Historical Works on the Time of Troubles. The Tale of Abraham Palitsyn


The task of providing an historical explanation of the Time of Troubles fell to writers of the period after the Time of Troubles and the election of Michael Romanov to the throne in 1613, that is, the remaining years of that decade and the following one. These writers belonged to various estates, for the participaton of all estates found in the period of the Peasant War and Polish intervention had not yet ceased. They included churchmen and laymen, government officials and aristocrats.

The Tale of Abraham Palitsyn. One of the most popular and lengthy works on the Time of Troubles was written by the monk Abraham Palitsyn, cellarer of the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius (the cellarer was in charge of the monastery stores or its secular affairs in general). His Tale6 consists of seventy-seven chapters dealing with different periods. The first six chapters were written in 1612, although the work was not completed until 1620. The central part deals with the famous siege of the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius. Then the account is continued up to the Deulino armistice of 1618, in the conclusion of which Abraham Palitsyn himself took an active part.

Abraham Palitsyn was a prominent figure in the events of the Time of Troubles (his conduct in these difficult years was not entirely without reproach, however, for he served Pseudo-Dmitry II). He constantly stresses his own importance, as, for example, in his account of how he went to the Hypatian Monastery in Kostroma to fetch Michael Romanov, how he met him later in the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius and so on.

In the Tale Abraham Palitsyn paints a terrible picture of the people’s sufferings: “Then people hid in dense thickets and in the heart of dark forests, and in secret caves, and in the water among the bushes. And they sighed, and wept, and prayed to the Lord their Maker that night cover them and that they might rest a little in a dry place. But there was no peace for the fugitives neither day nor night, nor did they find a secluded spot. Instead of the pale moon the fields and forests were lit up at night by fire, and no one could move an inch: the enemy lay in wait like wild beasts for those who left the forest.”