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«February 2020»

Fellow Seminar

17 May 2018

Dr. Kristina Nikolovka will present her research proposal on the topic: "Churchmen on the Move: Migrations of South Slavic Orthodox Clergy during the Era of Ottoman Rule (1400-1650)" on 17 May 2018 (Thursday) at 16:30h.


In several hagiographies and historical writings from the early modern period there are references to South Slavic churchmen moving away from the Ottoman territories in Southeastern Europe to distant areas governed by Christian emperors or nobles. We know that Constantine of Kostenets (ca. 1380‐1431), a well‐known writer and a disciple of the head of the Orthodox Church of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Patriarch Evtimiy of Tarnovo, migrated to Stefan Lazarević's Serbian Despotate a decade after the 1393 Ottoman conquest of Tarnovo. Other clergymen writing between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries moved to the Danubian Principalities, Hungary or the Tsardom of Muscovy. My research focuses on South Slavic narratives of exile and explores the ways in which they were used by the writers as a vehicle for articulating ideas on power and religious identity.

During the talk I will present primary sources relevant to my research: manuscript marginalia and colophons, letters of request for settling down in Russia addressed to the tsar (molba), Muscovite imperial epistles (gramota) and hagiographies. Based on evidence found in some of the sources listed above, I can formulate a tentative hypothesis that merit further investigation. I suggest that monastic migrations were driven by a range of factors, such as intra-ecclesiastical conflicts, doctrinal controversies, absence of patronage and a quest for opportunities for the monks to rise to higher posts in the new lands. A good example of exile driven by intra-ecclesiastical conflict is the case of the metropolitan bishop Mihail of Kratovo (1650s), whose first-person accounts will be presented during the seminar. I will argue that his case is an indication that priests occasionally left their ecclesiastical units not because of Ottoman ‘evil', but rather because some of them objected the corrupt rule of their patriarchs.

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