Ivan Fyodorov (printer)

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The first monument to Fyodorov was unveiled in front of the Moscow Print Yard in 1909

Ivan Fyodorov (Russian: Ива́н Фёдоров, sometimes transliterated as Fedorov[1] or Fiodorov; c. 1525 in Grand Duchy of Moscow – December 16, 1583 in Lwów, Ruthenian Voivodeship, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth) 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 Feоdor (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 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 circa 1510, most likely, in Moscow: he called himself a Muscovite even after his move to Lithuania, and in his afterword to the Lviv Apostle he named Moscow "our home, our fatherland and our kin".[4] In 1935 a Russian historian of heraldry, Lukomsky, advanced the hypothesis that his printer's mark resembled the Szreniawa coat of arms of the Rahoza szlachta family, and that Fyodorov had a connection with that family either by descent or by adoption.[5] 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.[6]

Fyodorov graduated from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland 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).[7]

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).

He 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 "renewed neglected printing".) In 1574 Fyodorov, with the help of his son and Hryn Ivanovych of Zabłudów published the second edition of the Apostolos (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 in Church Slavonic - the first full version of the Bible 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, published in 1563 by 17/IV 1/III 1564, 6 unnumbered leaves + 262 numbered (hereinafter refers to numbering in Cyrillic letters), format pages, at least 285 x 193 mm, printed in two colors, circulation about 1,000, preserved in at least 47 copies.

2 and 3. Book of Hours (Chasoslovets). Moscow, two copies (7/VIII - 29/IX and 2/IX - 29 / X 1565), 173 (in the second edition of 172) unnumbered letter, format, no less than 166 x 118 mm, printed in two colours, preserved at least 7 copies.

4. Didactic Gospel (Yevangeliye uchitelnoye). Zabłudów [3], 8/VII 1568-17/III 1569, 8 unnumbered + 399 numbered pages, the format of at least 310 x 194 mm, printed in two colours, preserved at least 31 copies.

5. Psalms with Book of Hours . Zabłudów, 26/IX 1569-23/III 1570, 18 unnumbered sheets + 284 sheets + 75 first account leaves the second account, the format (for cutting hard copies) at least 168 x 130 mm, printed in two colors. Very rare edition: only three known in existence [4], all incomplete. For the first time in Cyrillic typography the inclusion of a typed table. A digital version exists.

6. Apostolos. Lvov, 25/II 1573-15/II 1574, 15 unnumbered + 264 numbered lists, the format of at least 300 x 195 mm, printed in two colours, edition 1000–1200, preserved at least 70 copies. Similar to the Moscow edition in 1564 with a few more refined design. There is an electronic version of the almost complete copy.

7. Primer. Lviv, 1574, 40 unnumbered leaves, band set 127,5 x 63 mm, two colour printing, circulation was probably 2000, but has only a single copy is known to have survived (stored in the library of Harvard University).

8. Greek-Russian Church-Slavonic Reader. Ostrog, 1578, 8 unnumbered leaves, band set 127,5 x 64 mm, printing in one colour, for the first time set in two columns (parallel Greek text and Slavonic), only one 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), because of what is often considered one of their books, which are referred to as ABC Ostrog in 1578. A digital version is available online.

9. ABC (Reader). Ostrog, 1578, 48 unnumbered leaves, band set 127,5 x 63 mm, printing in one colour, circulation was more, but only two incomplete specimens exist (the one already mentioned, the other kept in the Royal Library of Copenhagen). Lviv repeat primer 1574 with attached "Word of letters" Chernoryztsya Hrabra. A digital version is available online.

10. New Testament with Psalms. Ostrog, 1580, 4 unnumbered + 480 numbered sheets, the format of at least 152 x 87 mm, printed in two colours, the circulation of information available, preserved at least 47 copies.

11. Alphabetical index to the previous edition ("Knizhka, sobraniye veschey ..."). Ostrog, 1580, 1 unnumbered + 52 numbered sheets, band set 122 x 55 mm, printing in one colour, preserved in at least 13 copies (clearly 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 / V in 1581, two-page leaflet (text published on inside pages), band set 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 + 276 + 180 + 30 + 56 + 78 numbered lists five bills, the format of at least 309 x 202 mm, set in two columns, including some in Greek, mainly printing in one colour (vermilion only on the title). Circulation 1500, approximate 400 survive.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jakobson 1955, p. 8.
  2. ^ Unbegaun, Boris Ottokar (1972). Russian Surnames. London: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Rein, Gabriel; Stenbaeck, Gust. Leonhard (1829). Periculum historicum de curonibus saeculis XII et XIII Fenniam infestantibus. Helsinforsia: Frenckell. pp. 19–20.
  4. ^ (in Russian) Щепкина М. В. Переводы предисловий и послесловий первопечатных книг. Послесловие Львовского Апостола 1574 г. // У истоков русского книгопечатания. — М.: Изд-во Академии наук СССР, 1959. — С. 234—236, 246—247.
  5. ^ (in Russian) Лукомский В. К. Иван Федоров первопечатник. — М.-Л., 1935. — С. 167—175.
  6. ^ (in Russian) Немировский Е. И. Очерки об истории издательской марки // Мир Этикетки. — № 9. — 2002.
  7. ^ Fletcher, Giles (1856) [1591]. "Of the Russe Common Wealth". In Jerome Horsey, Edward Augustus Bond (ed.). Russia at the close of the sixteenth century. New York: Hakluyt. p. 111. Retrieved 2011-11-18. However, modern scholars cast doubt on Fletcher's claim of arson, believing that referred to some printing shop other than Fyodorov's.

Further reading[edit]

In English
In Ukrainian
  • Ohienko I. «Іван Хведорович. Історично-літературна монографія», або «Іван Хведорович, Фундатор постійного друкарства на Україні, життя і діяльність». Див.: Стара Україна. Львів. 1924. No. II — V. С. 21 — 34.
  • Isaievych, Ia. Pershodrukar Ivan Fedorov i vynyknennia drukarstva na Ukraïni (Lviv 1975)
  • Isaievych, Ia. Literaturna spadshchyna Ivana Fedorova, (Lviv 1989)