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The Primary Chronicle


Around 1095 a new chronicle was compiled, which Alexei Shakhmatov suggests calling The Primary Chronicle. He argues convincingly that The Primary Chronicle was preserved in The Novgorod First Chronicle, although in somewhat revised form. Thus, with a high degree of probability we can pick out from the extant text of The Tale of Bygone Years (the chronicle created on the basis of The Primary Chronicle) the material which originally belonged to this Primary Chronicle.

The compiler of The Primary Chronicle continued Nikon’s work, extending the account of events from 1073 to 1095 and giving his narrative in this new section a distinctly publicistic tone, reproaching the princes for their internecine wars and complain­ing that they showed no concern for the defence of Russian land and did not heed the counsel of wise men.45 Apart from Russian sources, the chronicler also drew on the oldest Russian chrono- graphic compilation, The Great Narrative Chronicle, from which he inserted several fragments in his chronicle account: the story of the campaign by Hoskuld and Dyri against Constantinople (found in The Tale of Bygone Years under the year 866), the story of Igor’s campaign against Constantinople (under 941) and the story of the miraculous signs that occurred during the reigns of King Antiochus of Syria, the Roman Emperor Nero and the Byzantine emperors Justinian, Mauritius and Constantine (under 1065).

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