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Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

The 17th century was an important period of transition in Europe. During this period, European Renaissance and Reformation were coming to an end, but Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment had just emerged . Russia of 17th century was also in a transitional era. During this era, thanks to a relatively stable society, Russian culture developed to a certain extent, and a more Western European culture was introduced into Russia, which accelerated transformation of Russian culture. All this prepared for westernization of reforms of Peter Great and Catherine II.

1. The progress of culture and education: creating conditions for spread of Western culture

During time of Grand Duchy of Moscow, due to relatively chaotic political situation and constant foreign invasions, cultural level of Russia did not rise much. Religious thought occupies a dominant position in cultural field, and level of literacy in society is also very low. The books circulating on market are mostly handwritten, full of typos, and expensive, which severely limits spread of culture.

In 1560, Fedorov first used printing in Moscow, which was considered a major event in Russian culture. But Mr. Scribe was worried that he would lose his job, so he did everything possible to squeeze out Fedorov, so that he was forced to transfer to Lithuania. The Church also went out of its way to prevent introduction of Western European culture. Any books imported from Western Europe could be confiscated or burned if discovered by Church. It can be seen that Russian culture of that time was both backward and conservative.

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

Russian village

In 17th century, Romanov dynasty established itself in Russia, society stabilized, domestic commodity economy developed, and economic ties with West strengthened. Against this background, slow development of Russian culture was manifested. At that time, number of literate people in Russian cities was constantly increasing, for example, literacy rate in Moscow reached 24%. Printing was also promoted, and some writings on literacy were published. For example, Vasily Burtsev's literacy textbook (published in 1634) was printed in 300,000 copies. The Slavic Grammar of Smotlitsky was published in 1648, and Russian educator Lomonosov called it "an enlightening textbook of wisdom." shows that at that time there was a high demand for cultural development in society.

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

The advent of printing accelerated development of European culture

Russian schools also began to develop. Primary education was mostly monopolized by church, mostly established in churches and monasteries, and content of education was mainly literacy and religious teachings. Later, several gymnasiums appeared in city, in which they taught mainly Slavic, Greek, Latin, rhetoric and philosophy. In 1685, Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy was opened in Moscow, which is considered first higher school in Russia.

The increase in literacy, spread of printing, expansion of schools, etc. - all this created necessary conditions for spread of Western culture and progress of Russian culture.

Secondly, spread of Western culture: contributed to transformation of Russian culture

In 17th century, Russia's external relations strengthened. At this time, number of foreigners in Russia increased dramatically, and some scientific and technical talents came to Russia from Western European countries such as Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands.

In 17th century, many Western books were translated into Russia. From point of view of science and technology, geography of Luca de Lind, who promoted Copernican system, and Mercator's "Cosmography" are more representative. Under influence of Western scientific and technical culture, Russian science also grew, for example, appearance of geographer Remetsov, etc.

In military affairs, he translated and translated military works "Infantry Combat and Strategy" and "Netherlands Military Legal Norms" by Warri Gosen, as well as "Infantry, Artillery and Other Military Sciences" edited by Y. Mikhailov. Leadership". Russia really wants to learn from West in military affairs, so she brought a lot of military talents to Western Europe. In 1647, Russia published "Infantry Combat Order and Skills", which is a combat charter drawn up according to Western model. At end

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

Peter visited Holland in 1687

The church is an obstacle to cultural exchange. Under strict control of church, it was difficult for Western European love literature to take root in Russia, but many other works still allowed Russians to understand other world. At that time, many Western literary works were translated, such as The History of Prince Beauvais, The History of Emperor Otto and Queen Oren, The History of Seven Wise Men, The Collection of Proverbs, The Collection of Roman Tales, and so on. The introduction of Western European literary works had a great influence on genre, material and thought of Russian literature.

In terms of poetry, Simeon of Polotsk introduced Western European rhythmic poetry, which was appreciated by tsar, and thus became first court poet in Russia; From point of view of drama, Western European classical dramaturgy was introduced into Russia, and began to spread among highest nobles. In 1672 they began to stage first Russian drama. However, after death of Tsar Alexei, development of Russian drama came to a halt and resumed only during period of Peter Great; many themes of Russian novels come from Western Europe, such as content of "The Tale of Drunkard", which is familiar in Western Europe but in different places. In this country, protagonist has different personalities. He is a farmer in France, a worker in Germany, and an alcoholic in Russia. "The Story of Fox and Rooster" also comes from Western Europe.

In terms of art, Russia has also been influenced by Western culture. At end of 17th century, Western Baroque architectural style spread and gained popularity in Russia. The manor buildings of Golitsyn and Naryshkin families in Russia are representative buildings of Russian Baroque style of 17th century. The Assumption Cathedral, built near Moscow in 1693, is a prominent representative of Russian baroque . Russian History mentions that "the reason why Russians are especially fond of Baroque style is that they have already taken a liking to various decorations."

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

The Church of Virgin on Wall: one of masterpieces of architectural style of early Russian Baroque

At same time, Russian painting, music, dance, etc. were influenced by West. If we go back to 17th century, we find that Russian court nobles learned Latin and Polish and began to live comfortably in Western Europe. Western Western clothing gradually replaced Russian traditional clothing, and Western balls gradually became an integral part of life of nobles. In palace, Germans played organ, trumpet and timpani.

Thirdly, rise of satirical literature: a reflection of contradictions of Russian culture and system

The spread of Western culture influenced development of Russian culture and contributed to development of Russian culture, but did not replace Russian culture. Western culture was introduced into Russia, combined with Russian social reality and developed into an original Russian culture. Here we mainly present situation of literature.

Until 17th century, Russian literary works were distinguished by high national feelings, mainly describing desire of Russian people to get rid of Mongolian slavery, strive for national unity, and praise country and monarch after unification. But after unification of country, social contradictions in Russia became more and more, and advanced culture and a backward system made up a sharp contrast, so writers began to vigilantly criticize this era, satirical literature appeared.

In era of change in 17th century, Russian writers were faced with such positions as conservative and fashionable, advanced and backward, feudal autocracy and democracy, state and individual, etc. ... During this period, confusion of values, a strong sense of crisis prompts them to use satire to attack regime, bureaucracy and deformed public life. ——“Russian satirical literature of 17th century”

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

Russian literature of 17th century mainly consisted of stories or novels in which “the hypocrisy, hypocrisy and inferiority of violations of canon of church priests, as well as corrupt practices of judges and other officials, as well as atrocities of exploitation of ordinary people, were exposed, condemned, ridiculed and ridiculed. of people". For example, in "The Story of Rooster and Fox" church is compared with a fox, and people with a rooster, it is told how church deceives and oppresses lower classes. The Tale of Trial of Judge Semyaka is a 17th-century masterpiece of satirical literature that ridicules Russian judicial system. The satirical works of other works include "The Tale of Drunkard" and "The Textbook of Dispossessed". The emergence of satirical literature indicates that Russian literature gradually began to pay attention to ordinary people, and secular literature began to supplant religious literature. At same time, satirical literature is also the beginning of Russian realism literature.

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

In connection with development of commodity economy and emergence of merchant class in Russia, some novels appeared that reflected urban and city life. The Tale of Froll Skobeev describes marriage of Froll's new aristocrat, showing social phenomenon of decline of old aristocracy and rise of new aristocracy in 17th century; The Tale of Savoy Gru is first Russian In this novel, protagonist, son of a merchant, left his decadent birthplace and went to a new city to start a new life, but he was attacked by traditional forces. These works reflect struggles and contradictions in changing Russian society.

In addition to novels, there is a clear irony or realism in poetry and drama. Polotsky's "Allegory of Prodigal Son" reflects changing phenomenon of Russian society of that time by describing contradiction between parents and children; oral poetry of 17th century expresses praise of peasant rebels and king, irony of nobility. >. In short, satirical literature became mainstream literature in Russia in 17th century and reached its peak in next 200 years. Gogol once said: "In Russia, everyone uses satire. Sarcasm is often found in our proverbs and songs. It consoles us when the heart is suffering."

Russian culture of 17th century: spread of Western culture contributed to cultural progress and gave rise to critical thought

Polotsky: first Russian playwright, poet

The development from ode-style literature in past to satirical literature in 17th century was an important turning point in Russian literature. The 17th century is seen as a bridge between ancient and modern periods of Russian literature.


The 17th century was an era for Russia. In 17th century, Russia began to be greatly influenced by Western culture, gradually becoming intoxicated with Western culture and accelerating its own cultural progress. All this prepared conditions for Westernization reforms of Peter Great and Catherine II in 18th century. What we must note is that spread of Western culture has contributed to cultural upsurge of Russian characteristics. In 18-19 centuries, cultural level of Russia reached advanced world level, a large number of world-class scientists, writers and artists appeared. Cultural progress and a backward social system are in sharp contrast, and critical thinking occupies mainstream of society, which is also main feature of Russian culture of 18th-19th centuries. This feature was formed in 17th century.

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