Makary's parentage is not known, and nothing is known about him before he was tonsured at the Pafnuty-Borovsk Monastery at the end of the fifteenth century. In February 1523, Metropolitan Daniel appointed Makary archimandrite of the Luzhetsk Monastery near Mozhaisk. He became archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov on March 4, 1526, the first archbishop to be appointed to that city since 1508. This appointment may have come about, at least in part, as a result of Makary's support of the divorce of Grand Prince Basil III from his wife Solomonia in 1525 and the subsequent marriage of the grand prince to Elena Glinskaya. As archbishop, Makary undertook reorganization of the monasteries and promoted missionary activity to the Karelo-Finnic population in the northern reaches of his jurisdiction. He also undertook a number of building and restoration projects, including the direction of the unsuccessful construction of the first water mill on the Volkhov River. The greater complexity of Novgorodian church architecture in the 1530s, such as tri-apse constructions and five-cupola designs, has been attributed to Makary's intervention. Makary also undertook a number of literary and mathematical activities, including updating the Novgorod Chronicle, compiling a menology, which became the prototype of the Great Menology, and calculating the date of Easter through the year 2072. In 1531 he participated in the council that tried the monks Maxim the Greek, Isaak Sobaka, and Vassian Patrikeyev for holding heretical views.
Makary replaced Ioasaf (Joseph) as metropolitan of Moscow and all Rus on March 16, 1542, and took over responsibility for the education and upbringing of the young Ivan IV. He continued as a close adviser of the tsar until the end of his own life. In 1547 Makary presided over the coronation of Ivan as tsar (January), the marriage of Ivan to Anastasia (February), and (with Ivan) a church council (January–February) that canonized a number of Rus saints. Makary was badly injured in the Moscow fire in June of that year when he was being lowered from the Kremlin wall to escape the flames. Nonetheless, he continued to remain active in religious and political affairs while he recovered. In February 1549, along with Ivan, he presided over another church council that canonized more Rus saints. In June 1550, Makary and Ivan presided over the assembly that compiled the Sudebnik of 1550, the first major revision of the law code since 1497. During January and February 1551, Makary presided with Ivan over the Stoglav (Hundred-Chapter) church council, which codified the regulations of the Church similar to the way government laws had been codified the previous year in the Sudebnik. Also in 1551, Makary released Maxim the Greek from imprisonment and allowed him to move to the Trinity–St. Sergius Monastery in Zagorsk but would not allow him to return to Greece.
While Ivan IV was away on the campaign against Kazan from June through October 1552, Makary, along with Ivan's wife Anastasia and brother Yuri, was left in charge of running the civil affairs of the Muscovite state. By 1553, his first large literary compilation project as metropolitan, the Great Menology, was completed. Makary also presided over several significant heresy trials, including those of the archimandrite of the Chudov Monastery Isaak Sobaka (1549), the military servitor Matvei Bashkin, the hegumen of the Trinity–St. Sergius Monastery Artemy (1553–1554), and the monk Feodosy Kosoi (1554–1555). Also in 1555, Makary established the archiepiscopal see of Kazan. In addition, Makary directed the introduction of a new style of icon painting, which combined political and ideological concepts with religious themes. This new style was manifested in the wall and ceiling paintings of the Golden Palace in the Kremlin. The state secretary Ivan Viskovaty criticized a number of the new icons for violating the established standards of Eastern Christian icon painting. As a result, Viskovaty was brought to trial before a Church council in 1553 presided over by Makary. Viskovaty's views were condemned, but he escaped punishment and maintained his position by recanting. During the remainder of his tenure in office, Makary concentrated on a number of construction projects, including the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat (1555–1561), popularly known as Basil the Blessed after one of its chapels, as well as two major literary compilations, the Book of Degrees and the Illuminated Compilation.
As an ideologist, Makary is credited with formulating the Church-based justification for the Muscovite conquest of Kazan as well as solidifying into a formula the Church's anti-Tatar diatribes. The close relationship between the Church and the State that he fostered was in accord with Eastern Church political theory and received visible articulation in the style of icon painting he helped to introduce. Several important letters and speeches are attributed to Makary, although he cannot be considered a major literary figure. There exist several letters of his from the time he was archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov. In his speech at the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547, Makary, in his role as metropolitan, reminded the new tsar of his duty to protect the Church. His Reply (Otvet ) to Tsar Ivan IV was written around 1550 shortly before the Stoglav Church Council. In it, Makary cites a number of precedents concerning the inalienability of Church and monastic lands, including the Donation of Constantine, the Rule of Vladimir, and the false charter (yarlyk ) to Metropolitan Peter.
He ends the Reply with a plea to the tsar not to take away the "immovable properties" belonging to the Uspensky (Assumption) Cathedral, the seat of the metropolitan. In his speech after the conquest of Kazan, Makary depicted victory as the result of a long-term religious crusade and thereby articulated the Church-based justification for Muscovy's claim to Kazan.
Perhaps Makary's most remarkable achievement was the Great Menology (Velikie minei-chety ), which consisted of twelve volumes, one for each month, and which comprised a total of approximately 13,500 large-format folios. The Great Menology included full texts of almost all Churchrelated writings then known in Russia, including saints' lives, sermons, letters, council decisions, translations, condemnations of heretics, and so forth, all arranged in categories of daily readings. Makary had competed a shorter version of this menology while he was archbishop of Novgorod, and the resources of the Muscovite Church allowed him to expand it to comprehensive proportions.
During his tenure as metropolitan, two other major compendious works were begun that were completed only after his death. One was the Book of Degrees (Stepennaya kniga ), a complete rewriting of the Rus chronicles to provide a direct justification for the ascendancy of the Muscovite ruling dynasty from Vladimir I. The other was the Illuminated Compilation (Litsevoi svod ), based on the Rus chronicles. Twelve volumes were projected, of which eleven volumes are extant with more than ten thousand miniatures.
Makary died on December 31, 1563. He was buried the next day in the Uspensky Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Despite apparent attempts immediately after his death and in the seventeenth century to raise him to miracle worker (chudotvorets ) status, Makary was not canonized until 1988.
See also: book of degrees; ivan iv; kazan; metropolitan; muscovy; sudebnik of 1550; trinity-st. sergius monastery
Ci evskij, Dmitrij. (1960). History of Russian Literature: From the Eleventh Century to the End of the Baroque. 's-Gravenhage: Mouton.
Pelenski, Jaroslaw. (1974). Russia and Kazan: Conquest and Imperial Ideology (1438–1560s). The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton.