Leichoudes, Ioannikios and Sophronios

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Greek hieromonks, Ioannikios (secular name: Ioannes, 16331717) and Sophronios (secular name: Spyridon, 16521730).

The two brothers Leichoudes were born on the Greek island of Kephallenia. They studied philosophy and theology in Greek-run schools in Venice. Sophronios received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Padua in 1670. Between 1670 and 1683, they worked as preachers and teachers in Kephallenia and in Greek communities of the Ottoman Empire. In 1683 they reached Constantinople, where they preached in the Patriarchal court. Following a Russian request for teachers, they arrived in Moscow in 1685. There they established the first formal educational institution in Russian history, the Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy, and participated in a heated debate known as the Eucharist conflict, principally against Sylvester Medvedev. They taught in the Academy until 1694, when they were removed for attempted flight after a scandal involving one of their relatives. After a brief stint as translators in the Muscovite Printing Office and as tutors of Italian, they were accused of heresy by one of their former students. Between 1698 and 1706, they were transferred to various monasteries, both in Moscow and in other towns, where they continued their authorial activities. In 1706 they were sent to Novgorod and established a school under the supervision of Metropolitan Iov. In 1707 Sophronios was recalled to Moscow to work in a Greek school there. Ioannikios taught in Novgorod until 1716, when he joined his brother in Moscow. After his brother's death, Sophronios continued his teaching activities until 1723, when he became archimandrite of the Solotsinsky monastery in Ryazan until his death. The two brothers authored or coauthored many polemical (anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant), philosophical, and theological works, sermons, panegyrics, orations, and, most important, textbooks for their students. A large part of these textbooks were adaptations of those used in Jesuit colleges. Through their educational activities, the Leichoudes, though Orthodox, imparted to their students the Jesuit interpretation of Aristotelian philosophy, and the Baroque culture of contemporary Europe. As such, they contributed to the Russian elite's westernization and its preparedness to accept Peter the Great's own westernizing reforms.

See also: orthodoxy; russian orthodox church; slavo-greco-latin academy; westernizers


Chrissidis, Nikolaos A. (2000). "Creating the New Educated Elite: Learning and Faith in Moscow's Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy, 16851694." Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Nikolaos A. Chrissidis