TESTAMENTS OF MEMBERS OF THE ORTHODOX AND UNIATE CHURCHES AS A SOURCE OF DATA ON THE HISTORY OF THE EASTERN RITES IN THE POLISH-LITHUANIAN COMMONWEALTH IN THE 16TH-18TH C. (THE STATE OF RESEARCH AND RESEARCH POSTULATES) (Polish title below)
(Polish title: Testamenty prawoslawnych i unitów jako zródlo do badan nad dziejami konfesji wschodnich w Rzeczypospolitej XVI-XVIII wieku (stan badan, postulaty badawcze). The previous studies concerning testaments of members of the Eastern Churches were mostly focused on the publication of last wills undertaken in the 19th c. by the specially appointed Russian state commissions in Vilnius, Kiev, Witebsk and St Petersburg. Testaments have not been considered so far as a source of data on the history of the Orthodox and Uniate Churches in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. In view of the scarcity of sources concerning the monasteries and churches of both rites it seems advisable to use alternative sources. Last wills were used sporadically in studies devoted to Byelorussian architecture (Inessa Sljunkova), the charitable activity (Antoni Mironowicz) and religious foundations (Tomasz Kempa) of Orthodox Christians in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The author of the present article used testaments to show the attitude of Eastern Christians to death and to funeral ceremonies. She also explored the usefulness of this type of source in establishing the religious affiliation and describing the religious activity of the gentry in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. Among the Ukrainian studies related to the subject we should mention the works of S. Horin devoted to monasticism in Ruthenian territories and of M. Dovbyshchenko, the author of a monograph of the religious movements of Volhynian gentry in the end of the 16th and the first half of the 17th c. Although based on extensive sources, this work is controversial. The author draws far-reaching conclusions solely on the basis of last wills. Some of the conclusions are questionable, especially as regards the interpretation of bequests to churches or lack thereof. One of the previously unexplored topics is the personal property of the priests and hierarchs of both Churches. Since high positions in the hierarchy were given to monks, it is interesting to consider whether the life standard of Eastern bishops was close to monastic poverty or to the level of the gentry. Another question concerns the garments used by Eastern priests both in liturgy and in everyday life, especially to what extent priests financed the liturgical vestments mentioned in testaments. In connection with testaments it can also be asked whether priests sponsored other church accessories, who inherited the artefacts connected with the testator's priesthood and service, and how those artefacts were perceived by testators. Valuable insights supplementing such research could be gained from probate inventories.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.