Ivan Fyodorov (printer)

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Ivan Fyodorov
The first monument to Fyodorov was unveiled in front of the Moscow Print Yard in 1909
Bornc. 1510–1525
Grand Duchy of Moscow] (also possibly, not far from Minsk, Grand Duchy of Lithuania)
Died16 December 1583
Known forfirst Russian printer

Ivan Fyodorov or Ivan Fеdorov[1] (Russian: Ива́н Фёдоров; Ukrainian: Іван Федоров; born c. 1510 or c. 1525 – died December 16, 1583) sometimes transliterated as Fiodorov, was one of the fathers of Eastern Slavonic printing (along with Schweipolt Fiol and Francysk Skaryna), he was the first known Russian printer in Moscow and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, he was also a skilled cannon maker and the inventor of a multibarreled mortar.


In those times Russians still did not have hereditary surnames, but used patronymics or nicknames, which were also not stable. In his first book "Apostolos" (printed in Moscow in 1564) he called himself in typical Russian style Ivan Fedorov that is "Ivan, son of Fedor".[2] In his other famous book "Ostrog Bible" (1581) he called himself in both Church Slavonic and Greek as "Ivan, son of Feodor (Феодоров сын, Θεοδώρου υἱός), a printer from Moscow". In the Greek version there was "from Great Russia" instead of "from Moscow". But when he was living for a long time in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, he adopted a local Ruthenian style patronymic in Polish spelling "Fedorowicz" and also added a nickname indicating his origin. In his Latin documents he signed Johannes Theodori Moscus (that is "a Muscovite"[3]), or Ioannes Fedorowicz Moschus, typographus Græcus et Sclavonicus. As a result of the dialectical replacement of consonant /f/ with /x~xw/ in early East Slavic the first letter F was sometimes changed, so the patronymic became Chwedorowicz or Chodorowicz. In his later Slavonic books (printed in PLC) he signed "Ioann (Ivan) Fe(o)dorovich" (with some orthographic differences), and added a nickname "a Muscovite printer" or just simply "a Muscovite".[1]


Fyodorov's autograph from July 23, 1583

Neither his place nor his date of birth are known. It is assumed that he was born c. 1510 or c. 1525, most likely in Moscow during the Grand Duchy period - he called himself a Muscovite even after his move to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and in his afterword to the Lviv edition of Apostle he named Moscow "our home, our fatherland and our kin".[4] In 1935 a Russian historian of heraldry, Vladislav Kreskent'evich Lukomsky [ru], advanced the hypothesis that his printer's mark was the coat of arms of Rahoza, a Belarusian szlachta family,[5][6] and that Fyodorov had a connection with that family either by descent[7] or by adoption.[8] No subsequent researchers have accepted that theory other than Nemirovsky (2002), who agreed only with the possibility of adoption but not with the theory of Fyodorov's descent from the szlachta.[9]

Fyodorov graduated from the University of Kraków in 1532 with a bachelor's degree.

In 1564–5 Fedorov accepted an appointment as a deacon in the church of Saint Nicolas (Gostunsky) in the Moscow Kremlin. Together with Pyotr Timofeev from Mstislavl (i.e. Mstislavets), he established the Moscow Print Yard and published a number of liturgical works in Church Slavonic using moveable type. This technical innovation created competition for the Muscovite scribes, who began to persecute Fyodorov and Mstislavets, finally forcing them to flee to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after their printing workshop had been burned down (an alleged arson, as related by Giles Fletcher in 1591).[10][a]

The printers were received by the Great Lithuanian Hetman Hrehory Chodkiewicz at his estate in Zabłudów (northern Podlaskie), where they published Yevangeliye uchitel’noye (Didactic Gospel, 1569) (see Zabłudów Gospel) and Psaltir’ (Psalter, 1570).

Fyodorov moved to Lviv in 1572 and resumed his work as a printer the following year at the Saint Onuphrius Monastery. (Fyodorov's tombstone in Lviv is inscribed with the phrase "renewed neglected printing".) In 1574 Fyodorov, with the help of his son and Hryn Ivanovych of Zabłudów published the second edition of the Apostolos (Apostle, previously published by him in Moscow), with an autobiographical epilogue, and an Azbuka (Alphabet book).

In 1575 Fyodorov, now in the service of Prince Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski, was placed in charge of the Derman Monastery near Dubno; in 1577–9 he established the Ostrog Press, where, in 1581, he published the Ostrog Bible — the first full version of the Bible in Church Slavonic printed in moveable type — as well as a number of other books. Fyodorov returned to Lviv after a quarrel with Prince Konstantyn Ostrogski, but his attempt to reopen his printing shop was unsuccessful. His printing facilities became the property of the Lviv Dormition Brotherhood (later the Stauropegion Institute). The brotherhood used Fyodorov's original designs until the early 19th century.

In 1583 he visited Vienna and Kraków, where he showed the Emperor his latest inventions. He then returned to Lviv, where he died on December 16, 1583; he was buried there on the grounds of the Saint Onuphrius Monastery.


Title page from the Ostrog Bible, 1581

1. Apostolos (Apostol). Moscow, 17 April 1563 – 3 March 1564, 6 unnumbered and 262 numbered leaves (in Cyrillic numerals) sized at least 285 x 193 mm, in two colours, edition of about 1,000 copies of which at least 47 copies are extant.

2 and 3. Two editions of Book of Hours (Chasovnic). Moscow, 7 August – 29 September 1565 and 2 September – 29 October 1565, 173 (172 in the second edition) unnumbered leaves sized at least 166 x 118 mm, printed in two colours, at least 7 copies are extant today.

4. Didactic Gospel (Yevangeliye uchitelnoye). Zabłudów, 8 July 1568 – 17 March 1569, 8 unnumbered and 399 numbered leaves sized at least 310 x 194 mm, printed in two colours, at least 31 copies are extant today.

5. Psalms with Book of Hours. Zabłudów, 26 September 1569 – 23 March 1570, 18 unnumbered leaves with two separately numbered sets of 284 and 75 leaves sized at least 168 x 130 mm (a heavily cropped copy), printed in two colours. A very rare edition: only three extant copies are known, all of them incomplete. The first Cyrillic book with ruled tables. A digital version is available.

6. Apostolos. Lvov, 25 February 1573 – 15 February 1574, 15 unnumbered and 264 numbered leaves sized at least 300 x 195 mm, printed in two colours, edition of 1,000–1,200 copies, at least 70 copies are extant today. Similar to the Moscow edition of 1564 with a little more refined design. An electronic version of an almost complete copy is available online.

7. Primer. Lviv, 1574, 40 unnumbered leaves, frame (type page) of 127,5 x 63 mm, printed in two colours, edition of probably 2,000 copies, but only a single one is known to have survived (stored in the library of Harvard University).

8. Greek-Russian Church-Slavonic Reader. Ostrog, 1578, 8 unnumbered leaves, frame of 127,5 x 64 mm, printed in one colour, set in two columns (parallel Greek and Slavonic text) for the first time in Fyodorov's books, only one copy is in existence (stored in the State Library of Gotha, East Germany). This copy is bound with a copy of the Primer of 1578 (see below), which makes them appear as one book referred to as Ostrog Primer of 1578. A digital version is available online.

9. Primer. Ostrog, 1578, 48 unnumbered leaves, frame of 127,5 x 63 mm, printed in one colour, the edition was of many copies, but only two incomplete copies exist (one is already mentioned above, the other one is kept in the Royal Library of Copenhagen). A reprint of the Lviv's Primer of 1574 with the added "On the Letters" by Chernorizets Hrabar. A digital version is available online.

10. New Testament with Psalms. Ostrog, 1580, 4 unnumbered + 480 numbered leaves sized at least 152 x 87 mm, printed in two colours, the number of copies is unknown, at least 47 copies are extant.

11. Alphabetical index to the previous edition ("Knizhka, sobraniye veschey ..."). Ostrog, 1580, 1 unnumbered and 52 numbered leaves, frame of 122 x 55 mm, printed in one colour, at least 13 copies are extant (often added to the previous book, but evidently printed and issued separately as a special edition).

12. Chronology of Andrew Rymsha ("Kotorogo sya m(s)tsa shto za starykh věkov děyelo korotkoye opisaniye"). Ostrog, 5 May 1581, two-page leaflet (text printed on the inside of the pages), frame of about 175 x 65 mm. The only known copy is stored in the Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library in St.Petersburg.

13. Bible. Ostrog, 1581. 8 unnumbered leaves with five separately numbered sets of 276, 180, 30, 56 and 78 leaves sized at least 309 x 202 mm, text set in two columns, including some in Greek, mainly printed in one colour (vermilion is used only for the title), edition of 1,500 copies of which approximately 400 are extant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ However, modern scholars cast doubt on Fletcher's claim of arson, believing that his account referred to some printing shop other than Fyodorov's


  1. ^ a b Jakobson & Jackson 1955, p. 8.
  2. ^ Unbegaun 1972.
  3. ^ Rein & Stenbaeck 1829, p. 19–20.
  4. ^ Shepkina 1959, p. 234—236, 246—247.
  5. ^ Lukomsky 1935, p. 171: "...гербовый знак Ивана Федорова является известным в Литве гербом, усвоенным белорусским родом Рáгоза [...the heraldic sign of Ivan Fedorov is the coat of arms, well-known in Lithuania, adopted by the Belarusian family of Rahoza]".
  6. ^ Lukomsky 1935, p. 172: "Герб же “Рагоза”, составляя родовую эмблему рода того же наименования, в дальнейшем изменял только свою внешнюю геральдическую композицию, зависимую от стиля эпохи, но сохраняя незыблемость сочетания именно этих двуз фигур, т. е. изогнутой полосы и наконечника стрелы над нею [But the “Rahoza” coat of arms, being the emblem of the family with that name, varied only in its heraldic composition's frame, depending on the style of a certain period, but kept the combination of precisely these two figures stable, i.e. a curved stripe with an arrow-head above it]".
  7. ^ Lukomsky 1935, p. 173: "Допуская, однако, возможность происхождения Ивана Федорова из русской ветви белорусского рода Рагоз, едва ли ошибочным будет предположить, что о родовом своем гербе Иван Федоров мог узнать только в бытность его в Литве в 70-х гг., а затем, под влиянием польских обычаев, широко использующих в быту родовую геральдику, прибег и сам к применению своего герба, в качестве издательской и типографской марки, в той именно его конфигурации, которая свойственна была геральдической графике XVI века [Although allowing the possibility of Ivan Fedorov's descent from the Russian branch of the Belorusian Rahoza family, it would not be wrong to assume that Ivan Fedorov could learn of his coat of arms only during his stay in Lithuania in 1570s, and then, influenced by the Polish custom of making wide use of family heraldic signs in everyday life, he could resort to using his coat of arms as a printer or typographic mark in that very configuration, which was characteristic to the heraldry graphics of the 16th century]".
  8. ^ Nemirovsky 2002.
  9. ^ Fletcher 1591.


  • Unbegaun, Boris Ottokar (1972). Russian Surnames. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Fletcher, Giles (1591). "Of the Russian Common Wealth". In Jerome Horsey, Edward Augustus Bond (ed.). Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century. New York: Hakluyt (published 1856). p. 111. Retrieved 2011-11-18.

Further reading[edit]

In Church Slavonic
In Russian
In Ukrainian
  • Ohienko, Ivan (1924). "Ivan Hvedorovych, Fundator postijnoho drukarstva na Ukraini. Zhyttia i diial'nist'" Іван Хведорович, Фундатор постійного друкарства на Україні. Життя і діяльність [Ivan Fedorovych, the Founder of Regular Book Printing in Ukraine. Life and Work]. Stara Ukraina Стара Україна [Old Ukraine] (in Ukrainian). Lviv. II–V: 21–34.
  • Isaievych, Iaroslav (1975). Pershodrukar Ivan Fedorov i vynyknennia drukarstva na Ukraïni Першодрукар Іван Федоров і виникнення друкарства на Україні [First Printer Ivan Fedorov and the Emergence of Book Printing in Ukraine] (in Ukrainian). Lviv.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Isaievych, Iaroslav (1989). Literaturna spadshchyna Ivana Fedorova Літературна спадщина Івана Федорова [Literary Heritage of Ivan Fedorov] (in Ukrainian). Lviv.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)