Vasily Klyuchevsky

Vasily Osipovich Klyuchevsky (Russian: Василий Осипович Ключевский; 28 January [O.S. 16 January] 1841 in Voskresnskoye Village, Penza Guberniia, Russia25 May [O.S. 12 May] 1911, Moscow) was a leading Russian historian of the late imperial period. Also, he addressed the Russian economy in his writings.

Vasily Klyuchevsky
Born(1841-01-28)28 January 1841
Penza Guberniia, Russia
Died25 May 1911(1911-05-25) (aged 70)
Moscow, Russia

A village priest's son, Klyuchevsky studied at Moscow University under Sergey Solovyov, to whose chair he succeeded in 1879. His first important publications were an article on economic activities of the Solovetsky Monastery (1867) and a thesis on medieval Russian hagiography (1871).

Kluchevsky was one of the first Russian historians to shift attention away from political and social issues to geographical and economical forces. He was particularly interested in the process of Russian peaceful colonisation of Siberia and the Far East. In 1882, he published his landmark study of the Boyar Duma, whereby he asserted his view of a state as a result of collaboration of diverse classes of society.

In 1889, Klyuchevsky was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences. Although his lectures were highly popular with the students of Moscow University, only a few of his works were intended for publication, e.g., a handful of biographies of "representative men", including Andrei Kurbsky, Afanasy Ordin-Nashchokin, Feodor Rtishchev, Vasily Galitzine, and Nikolay Novikov.

The last decade of his life was spent preparing the printed version of his lectures. He also became interested in politics, and joined the Constitutional Democratic Party. Maxim Gorky records the following dictum by Leo Tolstoy:[1]

Karamzin wrote for the tsar, Solovyov wrote lengthily and tediously, and Klyuchevsky wrote for his own pleasure.


  1. Gorky, M. (2001). Literary Portraits. University Press of the Pacific. p. 16. ISBN 9780898755800. Retrieved 2015-07-07.

English translations

Further reading

  • Mazour, Anatole G. "V.O. Kliuchevsky: The Making of a Historian", Russian Review, Vol. 31, No. 4. (Oct., 1972), pp. 345–359.
  • Mazour, Anatole G. "V.O. Kliuchevsky: The Scholar and Teacher", Russian Review, Vol. 32, No. 1. (Jan., 1973), pp. 15–27.
  • Vasily Klyuchevsky. "The course of the Russian history", ISBN 5-244-00072-1, (in Russian)
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