Joakim, Patriarch

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(16201690), Ivan "Bolshoy" Petrovich Savelov (as a monk, Joakim) was consecrated Patriarch Joakim of Moscow and All Russia on July 26, 1674.

When Patriarch Joakim assumed the post, the Russian Church was experiencing increasing opposition. Joakim moved firmly but tactfully to rationalize the administrative structure of the church, to bolster patriarchal finances, and to bring the institution under his control. Joakim's administrative reforms were complemented by efforts to revitalize the reform program begun at mid-century, which included both liturgical and spiritual reform. During Joakim's tenure, liturgical reform continued, and sermons and other simple religious tracts were composed, printed, and distributed in increasing numbers. Joakim was also committed to a program of education, under the control of the church. Joakim's ardent conviction that the church alone could define doctrine and should control education generated opposition. Individuals and groups, ranging from the original opponents of Patriarch Nikon and their followers to disparate dissenters who did not conform to new practices, vocally and sometimes violently opposed the liturgical and administrative changes effected by Patriarch Joakim and the church he led. When teaching, preaching, and persuasion failed to convince opponents, the state stepped in to persecute and repress. In the 1680s Joakim's determination that a proposed academy of higher learning be under patriarchal control led to a clash with the monk Sylvester Medvedev and a faction that enjoyed the sympathy of the regent, Sophia Alexeyevna. This conflict ripened into a dispute about the Eucharist that drew in learned members of the clerical elite in Ukraine. The debate threatened plans to subordinate the Kievan see to the Moscow patriarchate. Quickly it degenerated into polemics. The palace coup of 1689 that brought Peter to the throne ended the dispute. Patriarch Joakim's support of Peter assured his victory in this affair. Sylvester Medvedev was arrested, then, almost a year after Patriarch Joakim's death, tried and executed. This was a crude political resolution to what had begun as a learned debate. As such, it undermined the legitimacy of the church in the eyes of the educated. Joakim died on March 17, 1690, shortly after the coup, leaving a testament that manifested profound anxiety for the future of both church and state.

Joakim has attracted little scholarly attention. Discussions that relate to his patriarchate focus on the increasing influence of Ukrainian churchmen in Moscow, the struggle over the opening of an academy in Moscow, the Eucharistic controversy of the late 1680s, and the subordination of the Kievan church to the Russian patriarch. Until recently, the dominant theme in this literature was the growing tension in Moscow as Old Muscovite culture confronted Ukrainian Culture and as supporters of a Greek direction for the Russian Church came into conflict with those favoring an allegedly Latin direction. Joakim traditionally was placed on the side of the conservative, Old Muscovite, Greek faction opposed to a progressive, Ukrainian, Latin faction. An emerging body of related scholarship questions this binary analysis, suggesting the need for a more complex approach to the period and the man.

See also: medvedev, sylvester agafonikovich; nikon, patriarch; patriarchate; peter i; russian orthodox church; sophia


Potter, Cathy Jean. (1993). "The Russian Church and the Politics of Reform in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century." Ph.D. diss. Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Vernadsky, George, ed. and tr. (1972). "Testament of Patriarch Ioakim." In A Source Book for Russian History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Cathy J. Potter