Fyodorov, Ivan

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(c. 15101583), the most celebrated among printers in old Rus.

Ivan Fyoderov (also called Ivan Fyodorovich, Fyodorov syn, Moskvitin, and drukar Moskvitin) was the initiator of printing in Muscovy and Ukraine, and was a printer also in Belarus. He produced the first printed Church Slavonic Bible (the "Ostroh Bible" of 15801581), the first Russian (or other East Slavic) textbook (Bukvar, 1574), and the first printed Russian alphabetical subject index, calendar, and poem. He was an accomplished craftsman in numerous trades, and a man of broad vision and great persistence. Altogether, Ivan played an important role in the promotion of literacy and Eastern Orthodox confessional unity, and he introduced a high level of content, design, and craftsmanship into a critically needed profession.

Born sometime around 1510 in Muscovy, he studied at Krakow University, where he probably received training in Greek and Latin, and from which he graduated in 1532. Subsequently, he worked as deacon in the St. Nikola Gostunsky church in the Moscow Kremlin, serving from some time after 1533 until 1565. He was selected by Tzar Ivan IV "Grozny" to initiate an official printing press in Moscow where, together with his partner Petr Mstislavets, he printed books that were needed for an expanding Russian Orthodox Church. These included the first dated Russian imprint, the Apostol of 15631564, and two editions of the Chasovnik (Horologion, 1565). Several anonymous Moscow editions from the immediately preceding period (c. 15531563) are also generally ascribed to Ivan. His Moscow activity was cut short by what he describes

in one of his later editions as the antagonism of narrow-minded people, and he moved to Zabludovo in Belarus together with his son (also named Ivan) and Petr Mstislavets. Here he opened a new print shop under the sponsorship of Hetman G. A. Khodkevich and produced several more editions, including the Evangelie uchitelnoe (1569, Instructive Evangelary ) and a psalter (1570). Advised by his aging sponsor to retire to farming on land provided him, he declined, saying he was suited to sowing not seeds but the printed word. Instead, he moved to the city of Lviv (now in Ukraine), where with his son he printed more editions, including a reprint of his Moscow Apostol (15731574), and the Bukvar (1574, Primer ).

Federov subsequently established one more print shop, on the estate of Prince Kostiantyn (Constantine) of Ostroh, participating in the latter's defense of Eastern Orthodoxy against increasing pressure from Western denominations. The major publication among the several issued there was the famous Ostroh Bible, which remains of prime historical, textual, and confessional importance. The first complete printed Church Slavonic Bible, it was issued in a large print-run and widely distributed among East Slavic lands and abroad, surviving in the early twenty-first century in some 300 copies. In 1581 Ivan left Ostroh to return to Lviv, where he died on December 15, 1583. He was buried in the Onufriev Monastery; his gravestone read, in part, "printer of books not seen before." The literature devoted to Ivan Fyodorov is vast, well exceeding two thousand titles, mostly in Russian and other Slavic languages.

See also: education; ivan iv


"Ivan Fedorov's Primer of 1574: Facsimile Edition," with commentary by Roman Jakobson; appendix by William A. Jackson. (1955). Harvard Library Bulletin IX-1:144.

Mathiesen, Robert. (1981). "The Making of the Ostrih Bible." Harvard Library Bulletin 29(1): 71110.

Thomas, Christine. (1984). "Two East Slavonic primers: Lvov 1574 and Moscow 1637." British Library Journal 10(1): 6067.

Hugh M. Olmsted