The Axis Kyiv–Lviv and Beyond: Community of Interaction of Ukrainian Ecclesiastic Elites in the Mid-Eighteenth Century
The fruitful multifocal relations which Kyiv and Lviv maintained in the mid-eighteenth century may come as a surprise at first glance. A closer look, however, reveals the established community of interaction which went far beyond political and confessional dividing lines. These cities served particularly as the sites for the broad intellectual collaboration that crossed the state border between the Hetmanate and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, to which they correspondently belonged. The rivalry for a leadership within the Rus' Christian realm that was taking place between the Orthodox and Uniate Churches since the Union of Brest (1596) also did not prevent their representatives to communicate intensively.
This community of interaction was being sustained not by means of political domination or Church control. On contrary, it was keeping as a whole through the exchange of ideas, texts and artistic contributions, in other words, through the symbolic communication of the actors. On the one hand, the secular and religious spheres were merging as both sides cooperated on non-church publishing projects. On the other hand, this symbolic communication attained the collaborators (publishers and booksellers) abroad, mostly in Poland and Germany, ultimately reducing religious tensions and making an emergence of inter-confessional constellations possible. The roots of this communication traced back to the third decade of the seventeenth century, when viewing on the Jesuits educational institutions, the Kyiv Orthodox Metropolitan Petro Mohyla (1596–1647) founded the collegium later known as the Kyiv-Mohyla Academia. The trilingual system (Church Slavonic, Latin, and Greek) adopted there paved the way for the polyphony of texts, also in Polish and German.
The research program “Polycentricity and Plurality of Premodern Christianities" offers a set of modern methodological instruments to explore this community of interaction as a case study through the prism of its structure, resources, and realm. It equally allows shifting a focus from what was dissociating (mostly in the theological dimension) toward the benefits of interplay and mutual support. In this sense, a common historiographic path narrowed by the denominational limits will be replaced by a wider prospect of religious interrelations.