Juraj Križanić

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Juraj Križanić
Bornc. 1618
Obrh, near Ozalj, Croatia
Died12 September 1683
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Juraj Križanić (c. 1618 – 12 September 1683), also known as Yuriy Krizhanich or Iurii Krizhanich (Russian: Крижанич, Юрий), was a Croatian Catholic missionary who is often regarded as the earliest recorded pan-Slavist.[1][2] His ideal, often misunderstood - even today - was to bring about a union of the churches, which Rome and Constantinople had tried to do without success for centuries. He believed that this might come about through closer relations between Slav Catholicism and the Russian Orthodox Church, and supported the idea that all Slavs had a common language and ethnic origin. However, he was not a pan-Slav if this meant seeking the political unity of all Slav people under Russian leadership.[3] He considered that the only possible role for the Tsar to 'correct' or unify the ortography and script used in Slav-language books and awaken Slav consciousness was through works conducive to education and logic. In extremis the South Slavs might join with the Russian tsar as a sovereign of the same language and people if the Catholic rulers supported his leadership in a war against the Ottomans. Although he had no direct followers, Križanić's work influenced many later South Slav thinkers who championed both reliance on Russia and South Slav cultural and political unification. After lengthy travels and fifteen years of exile in Siberia, Križanić died, misunderstood and disappointed, in battle during the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683.


Early life, education, and early missionary work[edit]

Križanić was born in Obrh, near Ozalj (in present-day Croatia) in 1618, a period of political turmoil and of Turkish invasions into Croatia. He attended a Jesuit grammar school in Ljubljana and a Jesuit gymnasium in Zagreb from 1629 to 1635. His father died when he was 17 years old, at approximately the same time he graduated from the gymnasium. He began attending the University of Bologna in 1638 to study theology and graduated in 1640. Shortly after graduating Križanić began attending the Greek College of St. Athanasius, a center in Rome for the training of Catholic missionaries who would work with Orthodox Christians, from which he graduated in 1642. By the end of his life he was proficient in ten languages. While Križanić had a strong desire to travel to Moscow with the ambitious goal of uniting the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, he was assigned missionary duties in Zagreb, where he was a teacher at the Zagreb Theological Seminary as well as a priest in several neighboring towns.[4]

Life in Russia[edit]

Križanić managed to secure permission from the papacy for a brief visit to Moscow from 25 October to 19 December 1647.[4] as part of a Polish embassy. However, he was not able to secure permission for a prolonged stay until 1658 (it was retracted shortly after being issued, a fact that Križanić simply ignored) and he did not arrive in Moscow until 17 September 1659.[citation needed] Another author[5] said that he pretended to be an Orthodox Serb. He was assigned the duty of translating Latin and Greek documents and preparing an improved Slavic grammar. However, he was exiled to Siberia on 20 January 1661. The reason for his exile is still unknown. Possible explanations put forward have included the fact that he was a Roman Catholic priest, his criticism of Russian society and of the Greeks, with whom Patriarch Nikon was attempting reconciliation, and other political and social motives. Križanić postulated that he was exiled because of "some foolish thing" he had said to someone, and that whatever he had said had been mentioned to the authorities.[4]

After his stay of roughly a year and a half in the Russian capital, Križanić arrived in Tobolsk in Siberia, on 8 March 1661. He lived there for 15 years, surviving on a state stipend and working on the treatises On Divine Providence, On Politics, and On Interpretation of Historic Prognostications amongst others. In these books, written in his self-devised "Common Slavonic language" (a Pan-Slavonic grammar named Grammatitchno Iskaziniye that incorporated numerous Slavic languages), he set forth a comprehensive program of reforms required for the Russian state, including reforms to administration, Russian serfdom, economic policy, education, grammar, and Russia's primitive agricultural system. Many of the reforms he recommended were in fact carried out by Peter the Great, although there is no concrete evidence of Križanić's direct influence in his doing so. His Politika, which he wrote from 1663-1666, was published by Peter Bezsonov (Russia in the Seventeenth Century, 1859–60) and for the first time in English in 1985[4] and is his most well known and influential work.

His appeal to the Czar to head the Slavs in the fight against the Germans shows a remarkable political foresight. Križanić was freed from exile on 5 March 1676. After that he remained in Moscow until 1678, when he travelled to Vilnius and later to Warsaw. He accompanied a Polish force on its way to liberate besieged Vienna from the Ottomans during the Battle of Vienna, where he died near Vienna while participating in its defence against the Turks in the Ukrainian troops that adjoined the troops of the Polish king Jan Sobiesky in 1683.[4]

Ideas and theories[edit]

Križanić was one of the earliest proponents of Pan-Slavism. The language he created and used in his writing was called Ruski jezik ("Russian language"), but in reality it was a mixture of several Slavic languages and was devised to serve as a symbol of and even to promote Slavic unity. He wanted to unite the Slavic nations under the Russian Tsar and unite Catholic and Orthodox against the German Protestants and Turkish Muslims.[6]

A key component of Križanić's theories concerning necessary reforms for the Russian state were his "Five Principles of Power." His five principles were: Full autocracy (essentially absolute monarchy), closed borders, compulsory labor or a ban on idleness, government monopoly of foreign trade, and ideological conformity. Križanić argued that Russia would be strengthened if immigration were tightly restricted and if native Russians were prohibited from leaving the country without justification.[7] The autocrat should use his power to eliminate bad customs, modernize the country and give the nobles and clergy privileges on the model to the Western Ständestaat.[6]

His works, which also include writings on music and economics, were re-discovered and printed in the mid-19th century.

Important works[edit]

  • The Križanić Memorandum of 1641 (1641)
  • Gramatično izkazanje ob ruskom jeziku (1659-1666)
  • On Politics also known as the Politika (in original "Razgovory o vladatelstvu") (1666)
  • On Divine Providence (in original "De Providentia Dei") (1667)
  • Holy Baptism (1669)
  • An Interpretation of Historical Prophesies (1674)
  • Chinese Foreign Trade (1675)
  • History of Siberia (1680)


(in French) Paulin-Gérard Scolardi, Krijanich, Messager de l'unité des Chrétiens et du panslavisme, Paris, Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1947.

  1. ^ VLČEK, Radomír. Ruský panslavismus - realita a fikce. Prague: Historický ústav AV ČR, 2002. s. 43. (čeština)
  2. ^ Ł. Puszkariow, Jurij Kriżanicz, Oczierk żizni i tworcziestwa, Nauka, 1984.
  3. ^ Goldstein, Ivo, Croatia - A History (2011), Hurst&Company, London, pp 45.
  4. ^ a b c d e John M. Letiche and Basil Dmytryshyn: "Russian Statecraft: The Politika of Iurii Krizhanich", Oxford and New York, 1985
  5. ^ Marshall T. Poe,"A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748", 2000
  6. ^ a b Poe, page 181-188
  7. ^ Yuri Druzhnikov: "Prisoner of Russia: Alexander Pushkin and the Political Uses of Nationalism" Pg 36-37. Prisoner of Russia: Alexander Pushkin and the Political Uses of Nationalism by Юрий Дружников


  • Vatroslav Jagić: Istoriia slavianskoi filologii, St. Petersburg, 1910
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • James H. Billington (29 December 1985). "The First Kremlinologist". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-01.