Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Russian Embassy presents the Illustrated Chronicles of Ivan the Terrible

On 21st June 2017, Yury Uraksin, First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands, presented the Illustrated Chronicles of Ivan the Terrible also known as the “Tsar Book” to Leiden University.

This facsimile copy of the medieval manuscript was accepted with pleasure by Rector Magnificus professor Carel Stolker, who said that this excellent text would provide a great opportunity for scholars who sought to gain more detailed knowledge of the circumstances that had led to the fascinating period of Russian history.

For centuries, the Chronicles were not available to a wider audience. Only now with the efforts of enthusiasts, were they recovered and compiled together, providing a rare opportunity to explore the history of the world from the perspective of a 16th-century scholar.  The chronicle was created on the orders of Tsar Ivan IV and was produced during 1568-1576, reputedly by around fifteen different scribes and ten artists. 

A significant part of the Chronicles is dedicated to the period of Ivan’s IV reign, shedding light on the circumstances that led to the infamous “Time of Troubles” and the fall of Rurik’s dynasty.

Ivan IV realised that to build a strong state he had to rely on well educated, forward thinking people. Therefore to provide his successors with a source of knowledge he decreed for the Illuminated Chronicles to be created.

The most enlightened minds of the time worked to create the “Tsar Book”. Macarius, the Metropolitan of Moscow, led the project to create these Chronicles, with the aim of educating future Tsars.

This gorgeous facsimile edition in Russian, which consists of thirty-four volumes, will become available shortly at the University Library. 

From left to right: Subject Librarian Russian Language, Jan Paul Hinrichs, Kurt De Belder, University Librarian, First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands, Yury Uraksin and Rector Magnificus, Carel Stolker.