Primary Chronicle

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Primary Chronicle
Tale of Bygone Years
Povest' vremennykh let[a]
Author(s)Traditionally thought to be Nestor, others unknown
LanguageChurch Slavonic
Datec. 1113
Manuscript(s)5 main surviving codices:[1]
Period coveredFrom biblical times to the year 1117

The Russian Primary Chronicle, commonly shortened to Primary Chronicle[b] (Church Slavonic: Повѣсть времѧньныхъ лѣтъ, romanized: Pověstĭ vremęnĭnyxŭ lětŭ,[c] commonly transcribed Povest' vremennykh let (PVL),[a] lit.'Tale of Bygone Years'),[6][2] is a chronicle of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110. It is believed to have been originally compiled in or around Kiev in the 1110s, and has been traditionally ascribed to the monk Nestor.[11]

The work's name Povest' vremennykh let ("Tale of Bygone Years") originates from the opening sentence of the Laurentian text,[12] which reads: "These are the narratives of bygone years regarding the origin of the land of Rus', the first princes of Kiev, and from what source the land of Rus' had its beginning".[13] The work has long been considered to be a fundamental source in the interpretation of the earliest history of the East Slavs.

The content of the chronicle is known today from several surviving editions and codices that have been revised over the years and evince a slight degree of variation from each other. Because of the work's several identified chronological issues and numerous logical incongruities that have been pointed out by historians over the years, its value as a reliable historical source has been placed under strict scrutiny by the contemporary experts in the field (see: § Assessment and critique).

Authorship and composition[edit]


The Historian Nestor by Leo Mol[14]

Tradition long regarded the original compilation as the work of a monk named Nestor (c. 1056 – c. 1114), who is known to have written other works at the time, such as Life of the Venerable Theodosius.[15] Hence, writers spoke of the Chronicle of Nestor,[16] and of the author as Nestor "the Chronicler". Based on the 1661 Paterik of the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, 17th-century writers started to assert that Nestor "the Chronicler" wrote many of the surviving Rus' chronicles,[17] including the Primary Chronicle, the Kievan Chronicle and the Galician–Volhynian Chronicle,[18] even though many of the events described therein were situated in the entire 12th and 13th century (long after Nestor's death c. 1114).[18] Another reason given for belief in Nestorian authorship has been the word нестера in the opening lines of the Khlebnikov Codex (discovered in 1809[19]), which some readers took to refer to Nestor "the Chronicler",[20][21] but Ostrowski (1981) pointed out: 'The word нестера was added in [the Khlebnikov Codex], and thus cannot be used as evidence for the name of the compiler of the PVL.[21] It is not found in any of the other five main witnesses of the PVL,[21][d] and thus represents an interpolation inserted into the text by an editor, who perhaps guessed the author's name.[24] From the 1830s to around 1900, there was fierce academic debate about Nestor's authorship, but the question remained unresolved, and belief in Nestorian authorship had persisted.[25] It is especially the internal evidence of the PVL and the known works of Nestor, which frequently contradict each other, while the contents barely coincide in places where that would have been expected, that has led modern scholars to conclude Nestor was not the author.[26][e]

A more likely candidate as author is Sylvester of Kiev, hegumen (abbot) of the St. Michael's Monastery in Vydubychi (a village near Kyiv), who may have compiled several sources in the year 1116.[28] This attribution is based on the fact that the Laurentian text ends on page 286, lines 1 to 7, with the colophon "I wrote down (napisakh) this chronicle",[28][f] after which he requests the readers to remember him in their prayers.[28] Alternately, the real author may have been some other unnamed monk from the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves mentioned in the title, and that Sylvester completed his work, or was a very early editor or copyist of the PVL.[28]


Wladyslaw Duczko (2004) argued that one of the central aims of the Chronicle's narrative is to 'give an explanation how the Rurikids came to power in the lands of the Slavs, why the dynasty was the only legitimate one and why all the princes should terminate their internal fights and rule in peace and brotherly love.'[30]

In the year 1116, Nestor's text was extensively edited by the hegumen Sylvester who appended his name at the end of the chronicle. As Vladimir Monomakh was the patron of the village of Vydubychi (now a neighborhood of Kyiv) where Sylvester's monastery was situated, the new edition glorified Vladimir and made him the central figure of later narrative.[20] This second version of Nestor's work is preserved in the Laurentian codex (see § Surviving manuscripts).[citation needed]

A third edition followed two years later and centered on the person of Vladimir's son and heir, Mstislav the Great. The author of this revision could have been Greek, for he corrected and updated much data on Byzantine affairs. This latest revision of Nestor's work is preserved in the Hypatian codex (see § Surviving manuscripts).[citation needed]


The organization style and the narrative flow of the Primary Chronicle exhibit visible signs of compilation, where different historical elements are brought together into a cohesive historical account.[30] Studies by a Russian philologist Aleksey Shakhmatov and his followers have demonstrated that the PVL is indeed not a single literary work but an amalgamation of a number of preceding accounts and documents.[31] In compiling the Chronicle, some of Nestor's original sources definitely included but were not limited to:[citation needed]

  • The chronological table in the Primary Chronicle was derived from the Chronographikon Syntomon written by patriarch Nikephoros I of Constantinople (died 829)[32]
  • the Byzantine annals of John Malalas, a Greek chronicler, who in 563 produced an 18 book work of intertwined myth and truth[citation needed]
  • the Byzantine annals of the monk George Hamartolus (literally "the Sinner", as he called himself; also known as "George the Monk")[33] who tried to adhere strictly to truth, and whose works are the unique contemporary source for the period 813–842[citation needed]
  • byliny,[34] which were traditional East Slavic oral epic narrative poems
  • Norse sagas[35]
  • several Greek religious texts[citation needed]
  • Rus'–Byzantine treaties[citation needed][30]
  • oral tradition (non-written memories of the past), but how much "is very difficult to tell".[36]
  • probably no "earlier local chronicles".[30] The hypothesis that a local chronicle was written until the late 980s at the St Elias church in Kiev "has to remain an unproven speculation".[30]

Surviving manuscripts[edit]

Oleg the Wise's campaign against Constantinople during the Rus'–Byzantine War in 907 (from the Radziwill Chronicle

Because the original of the chronicle as well as the earliest known copies are lost, it is difficult to establish the original content of the chronicle. The six main manuscripts preserving the Primary Chronicle which scholars study for the purpose of textual criticism are:[10][g]

Laurentian Codex[edit]

The Laurentian Codex was compiled in Suzdalian lands by the Nizhegorodian monk Laurentius for the Prince Dmitry Konstantinovich in 1377. The original text he used was a codex (since lost) compiled in 1305 for the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Mikhail of Tver. The account continues until 1305, but the years 898–922, 1263–83 and 1288–94 are missing for reasons unknown. The manuscript was acquired by the famous Count Musin-Pushkin in 1792 and subsequently presented to the National Library of Russia in Saint Petersburg.[citation needed]

Hypatian Codex[edit]

The Hypatian Codex dates to the 15th century. It incorporates much information from the lost 12th-century Kievan Chronicle and 13th-century Galician–Volhynian Chronicle.[38] The language of this work is the East Slavic version of Church Slavonic language with many additional irregular east-slavisms (like other east-Slavic codices of the time). Whereas the Laurentian (Muscovite) text traces the Kievan legacy through to the Muscovite princes, the Hypatian text traces the Kievan legacy through the rulers of the Halych principality. The Hypatian codex was rediscovered in Kiev in the 1620s, and a copy was made for Prince Kostiantyn Ostrozhsky. A copy was found in Russia in the 18th century at the Ipatiev Monastery of Kostroma by the Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin.[citation needed]

Numerous monographs and published versions of the chronicle have been made, the earliest known being in 1767. Aleksey Shakhmatov published a pioneering textological analysis of the narrative in 1908. Dmitry Likhachev and other Soviet scholars partly revisited his findings. Their versions attempted to reconstruct the pre-Nestorian chronicle, compiled at the court of Yaroslav the Wise in the mid-11th century.[citation needed]


The early part of the PVL features many anecdotal stories, among them:

  • those of the arrival of the three Varangian brothers,
  • the founding of Kiev
  • the murder of Askold and Dir, ca. 882
  • the death of Oleg in 912, the "cause" of which was reported foreseen by him
  • the thorough vengeance taken by Olga, the wife of Igor, on the Drevlians, who had murdered her husband;[39] (Her actions secured Kievan Rus' from the Drevlians, preventing her from having to marry a Drevlian prince, and allowing her to act as regent until her young son came of age.)[citation needed]

The PVL also contains an account of the labors of Saints Cyril and Methodius among the Slavic peoples, and narrates how Vladimir the Great (ruled 980 to 1015) suppressed the worship of Perun and other traditional gods at Kiev.[40][non-primary source needed]

The text of the PVL traces the origins of the Slavs to Noah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, and then proceeds to narrative early Slavic history. The banks of the river Danube in the regions of Hungary, Illyria, and Bulgaria are then described to be the place of original settlement of the Slavic people.[citation needed]

Although, as a result of aggression on the part of the Vlachs, one group of the Slavs made their homes by the Vistula (Polyanians), another settled on the Dnieper (Drevlians and Polyanians), while the third resided along the Dvina (Dregovichians), and another group dwelt about the Lake Il’men. All this migration is dated back to the time of Andrew the Apostle who visited the Slavs on Il’men.[citation needed]

The Polyanians built Kiev and named it after their ruler, Kyi. After the establishment of Kiev, under the rulership of Emperor Heraclius, many of the Slavs were invaded and oppressed by the Bulgars, Avars, and Pechenegs. At the same time, the Slavs from the Dnieper came under the predatory lordship of the Khazars and were forced to pay tribute.[citation needed]


The chronology offered by the Primary Chronicle (PVL) is sometimes at odds with that of other documents such as the Novgorod First Chronicle (NPL) and Byzantine literature.[41] Sometimes the Primary Chronicle also contradicts itself, especially between narrative and chronological parts, which appear to have been written by two different authors.[42] Several scholars including Aleksey Shakhmatov (1897), Mikhail Tikhomirov (1960), Ia. S. Lur’e (1970), and Constantin Zuckerman (1995) have concluded that the 9th- and 10th-century dates mentioned in the PVL were not added to the text until the 11th century, unless directly copied from the Chronicle of George the Monk.[33]

Opening date error[edit]

The historical period covered in the Tale of Bygone Years begins with biblical times, in the introductory portion of the text, and concludes with the year 1117 in the chronicle's third edition. Russian philologist Aleksey Shakhmatov was the first one to discover early on that the chronology of the Primary Chronicle opens with an error. The Laurentian text of the Chronicle says: "In the year 6360 (852), the fifteenth of the indiction, at the accession of the Emperor Michael, the land of Rus' was first named".[43] It is thus claimed that the reign of Byzantine emperor Michael III began in this year, but Byzantine sources (such as 11th-century Greek historian John Skylitzes' account[44] ) point out that it began on 21 January 842.[32][45] Shakhmatov (1897) demonstrated that an editor based himself on a miscalculation found in the Short History of Nikephoros I of Constantinople.[32][45] Moreover, a few sentences later, the text states: 'from the birth of Christ to Constantine, 318 years; and from Constantine to Michael, 542 years. Twenty-nine years passed between the first year of Michael's reign and the accession of Oleg, Prince of Rus'.'[46][45] However, Constantine the Great acceded in 313, not 318, and the resulting sum of 318+542 years leads to another erroneous accession of Michael III, this time in 860.[32][45] This then leads to an internal contradiction, when "Michael the Emperor" is said to have mounted a campaign against the Bulgars in 853–858 (6361–6366),[47] which could not have happened before he became Byzantine emperor in 860 according to the latter accession date.[45]

Major events[edit]

Chronology of major events:[48][page needed]

  • 852 (6360): The principal date mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, when the land of Rus' was first named in the Greek chronicle of George Hamartolos; this is evidence that the compiler used it as one of the sources for the Primary Chronicle.[49]
  • 859: 'The Varangians from beyond the sea imposed tribute upon the Chuds, the Slavs, the Merians, the Ves', and the Krivichians. But the Khazars imposed it upon the Polyanians, the Severians, and the Vyatichians'.[47]
  • 862: The calling of the Varangians. The various tributaries of the Varangians attempted to rid themselves of the Varangian lordship, which led to quarrels among the tribes and culminated in them inviting a knyaz ("prince") from the Varangians to rule over them.[47][non-primary source needed] As a result, the three Varangian brothers Rurik, Sineus and Truvor and their kinsfolk crossed the sea and settled themselves in various localities, and it is claimed that it was after these Varangians that the land of Rus' would eventually be named.[50][non-primary source needed] Around the same time, two other Varangians called Askold and Dir captured the town of Kiev.[50][non-primary source needed]
  • 866 (6374): The Siege of Constantinople (860) by Rus' forces. According to Byzantine sources, this happened in 860, not 866.[51][8]
  • 881/2 (6390): Rurik's successor, Oleg, sent messengers to Askold and Dir, representing himself as a stranger on his way to Greece on an errand for Oleg and for Igor', the prince's son, requesting a meeting. He then ambushed Askold and Dir, saying: "You are not princes nor even of princely stock, but I am of princely birth." Igor' was then brought forward, and Oleg announced that he was the son of Rurik. They killed Askold and Dir, and after carrying them to the hill, they buried them there, on the hill now known as Uhorska (Hungarian hill), where the castle of Ol'ma now stands.'[52] Then 'Oleg set himself up as prince in Kiev'[45] (Church Slavonic: къняжа въ Киеве, romanized: kŭnyaza vŭ Kyeve[45]) 'and declared that it should be the mother of Rus' cities.'[52] According to the text's aforementioned chronology of Oleg's accession 29 years after Michael III in 860, Oleg's reign should have begun in 889 rather than 881/2.[45]
  • 883: Prince Oleg conquers the Derevlians.[citation needed]
  • 884–885: Prince Oleg defeats the Radimichians and the Severians, bringing them under his rule.[citation needed]
  • 907: Prince Oleg launched an incursion against the Greeks, resulting in a favorable treaty for Rus'. The Greek emperor Leo conceded to provide allowances for Oleg's men, award them a right to stay and trade in Constantinople free of tax, and to enter unconditional peace. This event is not mentioned in Byzantine sources.[8]
  • 912: After Oleg's prophetic death from a snakebite, prince Igor succeeded him as the ruler of Rus' and was neither “successful in his military campaigns nor popular with people.”[citation needed] According to the Novgorod First Chronicle, Oleg died in 922; if Oleg (Helgi) is the same person as HLGW, "king of the Rus'", in the Genizah Letter, he would still have been alive in the 940s.[53]
  • Ca. 945: Prince Igor was murdered in the act of uprising by the Derevlians. His wife Olga assumed the throne following her husband's death and brought revenge upon Igor's murderers. Some of the Derevlians were burned in their homes, others were buried alive, while the remaining were simply slaughtered. Olga later ruled as a regent for her young son Svyatoslav, who went on to have an extensive military career as an adult, venturing East against the Khazars and the Bulgars.[citation needed]
  • 972: Svyatoslav was killed in a Pecheneg ambush while returning from one of his frequent campaigns against the Greeks.[citation needed]
  • 973: The reign of Yaropolk began and was complicated by quarrels with his two brothers, Oleg and Vladimir.[citation needed]
  • 978–980: Yaropolk proved himself victorious against his brother Oleg but died at the hands of men of his other brother Vladimir. After inheriting the throne, Vladimir initially upheld pagan practices and worshipped Perun.[citation needed]
  • 986–988: The conversion of Volodimer: Vladimir was baptized into Orthodoxy, which later became referred to as the "Baptism of Rus'" because it was followed by a widespread Christianization of Kievan Rus'.[citation needed] The entire conversion story covers a large chunk of the Primary Chronicle: pages 84–121, or 37 out of a total of 286 pages (12.9%) of the entire text.[54]
  • 1015: Following Vladimir's death, Svyatopolk inherited the title of the Prince of Kiev and became known as Svyatopolk the Accursed for his violent actions towards his siblings.[citation needed]
  • 1019: Svyatopolk was overthrown by his brother Yaroslav the Wise, whose reign brought an end to the unified kingdom of Rus but laid the foundation for the development of the written tradition in the Kievan Rus'.[citation needed]
  • 1054: After Yaroslav's death, the kingdom was split into five princedoms with Izyaslav ruling in Kiev, Svyatoslav in Chernigov, Igor in Volodymyr, Vsevolod in Pereiaslav, and Rostislav in Tmutarakan’.[citation needed]
  • 1076: Vsevolod held a victory over his four rivals and became the Grand Prince of Kiev.[citation needed]
  • 1093: After Vsevolod’s death, Svyatopolk reigned over the Kievan Rus.[citation needed]
  • 1113: Rise to power of Vladimir Monomakh, whose religious testament and prayers were appended at the end of the Chronicle by monk Sylvester, working from St. Michael’s monastery in 1116.[citation needed]

Christian elements[edit]

Radziwill Chronicle
The baptism of Prince Vladimir I in Korsun in 988 (from the Radziwiłł Chronicle

The Primary Chronicle is vibrant with Christian themes and biblical allusions, which is often argued to be reflective of the text’s monastic authorship. Aleksandr Koptev remarked that the Chronicle also belongs to the genre of Christian literature.[55] In the introduction, the chronicler was dedicated to exploring the biblical origin of the Slavic people, tracing their heritage to the times of Noah. In numerous occasions throughout the text, the chronicler openly discusses the pagan Slavs in a condescending manner, saying “for they were but pagans, and therefore ignorant.”[56][non-primary source needed] Later in the Chronicle, one of the most pivotal moments of the narrative is Prince Vladimir's conversion to Orthodox Christianity which ignited extensive Christianization of the Kievan Rus'.[citation needed]

Biblical origin[edit]

The Primary Chronicle traces the history of the Slavic people all the way back to the times of Noah, whose three sons inherited the Earth:

The Varangians, the Swedes, the Normans, the Rus, and others were named to be descendants of Japheth. In the very beginning, humanity was united into a single nation, but after the fall of the Tower of Babel, the Slavic race was derived from the line of Japheth, “since they are the Noricians, who are identified with the Slavs.”[57][non-primary source needed]

Korsun legend[edit]

According to the so-called "Korsun legend", presented in the Chronicle just preceding the conversion of Volodimer, the Prince took possession of the Greek city of Korsun (Chersonesus) located in the Crimean Peninsula, in an attempt to gain certain benefits from Emperor Basil. Following Vladimir's successful conquest of the city, he demanded that the Emperor's 'unwedded' sister be given up for marriage with him. Upon hearing the news from Korsun, emperor Basil responded that "It is not meet for Christians to give in marriage to pagans. If you are baptized, you shall have her to wife, inherit the kingdom of God, and be our companion in faith."[58][non-primary source needed] The legend concludes with Vladimir's embrace of Christianity at the church of St. Basil in Korsun and his marriage to the Emperor's sister, Anna Porphyrogenita.[citation needed]

Archaeological findings[edit]

For centuries after the Chronicle’s creation, the legend's factuality had been subject to extensive debate. Many historians, antiquarians, and archaeologists had attempted to determine the actual location of Vladimir's conversion by synthesizing textual evidence of the Chronicle with material evidence from Crimea. Their efforts became known in the realms of historical discipline as the “archaeology of the Korsun legend.”[59] This search culminated under Archbishop Innokentii's diocesan administration (1848–57), when in the ruins of Chersonesos, archaeologists unearthed the foundations of three churches and determined that the one containing the richest findings was allegedly used for the baptism of the Kievan Prince.[60] The unearthed material evidence proved sufficient to pinpoint the real location of the legend's events with reasonable accuracy.[59]

In the early 1860s, the Eastern Orthodox Church began construction of The Saint Vladimir Cathedral in Chersonesos, which has been destroyed on three separate occasions after first being erected and was renovated each time thereafter. The cathedral last faced destruction during the October Revolution and was not restored until the fall of the Soviet Union. It has been argued that by honoring Vladimir the Great and his contribution to the Eastern Orthodoxy, the cathedral serves the purpose of validating Russia's historical ties with the Crimean Peninsula, the accounts of which are preserved by the Chronicle.[59]

Assessment and critique[edit]

Unlike many other medieval chronicles written by European monks, the Tale of Bygone Years is unique as the only written testimony on the earliest history of East Slavic people.[61] Its comprehensive account of the history of Rus' is unmatched in other sources, but important correctives are provided by the Novgorod First Chronicle.[62] It is also valuable as a prime example of the Old East Slavonic literature.[48][page needed]

However, its reliability has been widely called into question and placed under careful examination by contemporary specialists in the field of the Old East Slavonic history. The first doubts about trustworthiness of the narratives were voiced by Nikolay Karamzin in his History of the Russian State (1816–26), which brought attention to Nestor's questionable chronology and style of prose.[63] Building upon Karamzin's observations, further inquiries into the philology of the Rus Primary Chronicle shined more light on various weaknesses in the text's composition. According to Dmitry Likhachov (1950), the chronicle exhibits the presence of plentiful "fillers" that were added post factum and, in effect, "destroyed the narrative's logical progression."[64]

According to Aleksey Shakhmatov (1916), some of the incongruities are a direct result of the fact that "the ruling Princes of Kiev had their own propagandists who rewrote the annals to make political claims that best suited their own purposes."[31] Shakhmatov further described the Tale of Bygone Years as a literary creation that fell under heavy influence of the Church and the State.[65] Dmitry Likhachov famously wrote in his 1950 critique of the Rus Primary Chronicle, "No other country in the world is cloaked in such contradictory myths about its history as Russia, and no other nation in the world interprets its history as variously as do the Russian people."[66] The need to interpret the Chronicle, mentioned by Likhachov as essential to making sense of its narrative, stems from the facts that the text was initially compiled and edited by multiple authors with different agendas and that it had to be translated from Old East Slavic language, which proved to be an arduous task.[66]

Harvard linguist Horace G. Lunt (1988) found it important to "admit freely that we are speculating" when tales – such as Yaroslav the Wise being more than just "a patron of Slavonic books" – are reconstructed and the logical incongruities of the text are faced.[67]

Polish historian Wladyslaw Duczko (2004) concluded that the compiler of the Primary Chronicle 'manipulated his sources in the usual way: information that was not compatible was left aside, while the elements that should be there but did not exist, were invented.'[30] Russian historian and author Igor Danilevsky mentioned that the Rus Primary Chronicle was more concerned with exploring the religious significance of the events rather than conveying to the reader the information about how it actually happened.[68] As a result, a sizable portion of the text was directly borrowed from earlier works that contained a religious undertone like some Byzantine sources, and most notably, the Bible.[68] The protagonists are frequently identified with biblical personages and so are ascribed certain relevant qualities and deeds that did not necessarily match the reality.[68]

Ukrainian historian Oleksiy Tolochko in 2015 upheld the conclusion reached by his many predecessors that the Chronicle’s contents are more or less fictional. Tolochko argued that some of the tales, like the story of the Rurikid clan's entry into Kiev, were invented "so as to produce a meaningful reconstruction of past events and include these well-known names" in the author's "historical scenario."[69] Tolochko called the Rus Primary Chronicle an outstanding work of literature with an untrustworthy story and concluded that "there is absolutely no reason to continue basing our knowledge of the past on its content."[70]

Paul Bushkovitch (2012) from Yale University writes “the author was serving his rulers, identifying princes and people and leaving historians with a muddle virtually impossible to sort out.”[71] He also mentions that there are discrepancies when overlapping Scandinavian history with the narrative of the Primary Chronicle. For example, “archeological evidence does not fit the legends of the Primary Chronicle” such as: “in Scandinavia itself, there were no sagas of Viking triumphs and wars in Russia to match those recounting the conquest of Iceland and the British Isle’s”. The credibility of the Primary Chronicle should be taken with a grain of salt for its undertone of being a political tool to justify rule.[71]


August Ludwig von Schlözer produced a German translation with commentary of the Povest' vremennykh let until 980 in 5 volumes (Hecтopъ. Russische Annalen in ihrer Slavonischen Grund–Sprache. Göttingen, 1802–1809).[72]

In 1930, Harvard professor Samuel Hazzard Cross published an English translation of the Laurentian Codex's version of the PVL under the title The Russian Primary Chronicle. Laurentian Text., which became very influential amongst American readers.[73] Cross was working on a revised edition when he died; it was completed and published by Georgetown professor Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor in 1953.[74] By the early 21st century, Primary Chronicle had become the common shortened English name for the text shared by the surviving five main manuscripts of the PVL.[3] Nevertheless, Cross' translation was often found to be inaccurate, with Waugh (1974) writing that Perfecky (1973) had produced a more reliable English text of the PVL.[75]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b English-language scholarly publications often only transcribe the title to Latin script without translating it, leading to Povest' vremennykh let,[6][7][8][3] or Povest' vremennyx let,[9] and abbreviate it as PVL.[7][6][10][8][3]
  2. ^ Primary Chronicle[1][2][3] is shortened from Russian Primary Chronicle,[4] the title given by Samuel Hazzard Cross for his English translation of The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text. (1930).[4] Alternatively, it has been named Rus' Primary Chronicle.[5]
  3. ^ Belarusian: Аповесць мінулых часоў, romanizedApoviesć minulych časoŭ; Russian: Повесть временных лет, romanizedPovest' vremennykh let; Ukrainian: Повість минулих літ, romanizedPovist' mynulykh lit.
  4. ^ The often careless writer Vasily Tatishchev (1686–1750) claimed that three Chronicle texts that were somehow "lost" later also identified "Nestor" as the author.[20] Modern scholars distrust all such "Tatishchev information [ru]" until it is supported by another extant source.[22][23]
  5. ^ 'In any case, the internal evidence of the Povest', along with the lack of coincidence of its contents with Nestor's works wherever the two are related, is distinctly opposed to the tradition of Nestorian authorship.'[27]
  6. ^ Church Slavonic: Игуменъ силивестръ стаг михаила· написах книгы си лѣтописець·, romanized: Igumenʺ silivestrʺ stag mikhaila· napisakh knigy si lětopisecʹ·, lit.'Abbot Silivestr" of St. Michael's Abbey – I wrote this chronicle [lit. "book of year writings"].[29]'
  7. ^ According to Gippius (2014), the six main manuscripts can be divided in three groups of two: Laurentian/Trinity (LT), Radziwiłł/Academic (RA), and Hypatian/Khlebnikov (HX). Gippius considered the last group the "southern, Kievan branch" and the other four the "Vladimir-Suzdal branch".[37]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lunt 1994, p. 10.
  2. ^ a b Martin 2007, p. 97.
  3. ^ a b c d Isoaho 2018, p. 637.
  4. ^ a b Lunt 1988, p. 251.
  5. ^ Lunt 1995, p. 335.
  6. ^ a b c Dimnik 2004, p. 255.
  7. ^ a b Ostrowski 1981, p. 11.
  8. ^ a b c d Ostrowski 2018, p. 32.
  9. ^ Gippius 2014, p. 341.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Gippius 2014, p. 342.
  11. ^ Zhukovsky, A. (2001). "Povist' vremennykh lit – The Tale of Bygone Years". Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  12. ^ Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, pp. 3–4.
  13. ^ Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, p. 51.
  14. ^ "Mol, Leo" (PDF).
  15. ^ Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, p. 6.
  16. ^ Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, p. 3.
  17. ^ Tolochko 2007, p. 31.
  18. ^ a b Tolochko 2007, p. 47.
  19. ^ Maiorov 2018, p. 339.
  20. ^ a b c Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, p. 17.
  21. ^ a b c Ostrowski 1981, p. 28.
  22. ^ Tolochko 2005, pp. 458–468.
  23. ^ Ostrowski 2018, pp. 36, 38, 47.
  24. ^ Ostrowski 2003, pp. xvii–xviii.
  25. ^ Tolochko 2007, pp. 32–33.
  26. ^ Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, pp. 6–12.
  27. ^ Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, p. 12.
  28. ^ a b c d Ostrowski 2003, p. xvii.
  29. ^ Ostrowski & Birnbaum 2014, 286.1–2.
  30. ^ a b c d e f Duczko 2004, p. 202.
  31. ^ a b Isoaho 2018, p. 642.
  32. ^ a b c d Cross & Sherbowitz-Wetzor 1953, p. 30.
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