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The Orthodox Nationalist: Peter I and the Old Believers – TON 020619


Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson looks at the theory that Peter I was replaced by an imposter while abroad and returned to turn Russian medieval society upside down.

In 1551 the Stoglavy Sobor under Ivan IV, the equivalent of the Byzantine autocrat, glorified and enshrined a specifically Russian sanctity. For the sake of empire, Tsar Alexis, the second Romanov, wanted a new rite that would take into consideration all regional distinctions as the empire would grow into Europe.

Against this arose the martyrs Avakuum, Paul of Kolomna, Epiphanus, Lazarus and the noblewoman Morozova to create the “Old Believer” movement. The 1551 Sobor was overthrown without cause or reason. Thinking that “the Greeks” backed him, Patriarch Nikon and Alexis trusted Bishops Arsen the Greek and Paissy Ligarides, men who turned out to be total frauds. They were not bishops in the Greek Mideast.

After 1666 there is not one Russia, but two –  the official pro-Western system and the outsiders, the Old Believers who rose up against it. Peter I totally secularized the state, banning traditional Russian dress and ideas in his new city, the “floating” Gnostic experiment of Petrograd. By the rise of Catherine II, the majority of the peasants were Old Believers. Peter and his successors were not autocrats nor legitimate monarchs, but a blasphemous parody.

The theory, today promoted by AT Fomenko and GV Nosovsky, not to mention the entire Old Believer movement, that Peter was killed abroad and replaced with an impostor has been popular in Russia for centuries. While such a theory is fantastic, it does explain Peter's total rejection of his wife upon return (and his affair while in England with a commoner),  the murder of elite Russian guards in Moscow and the removal of all family members from positions of power. It would also explain the horrific torture and death of his son, Alexis, at his orders. That the “Peter” that returned from his “Grand Embassy” to Western Europe struggled to speak good Russian might give us a clue about the truth. From March 9 1697 to the Fall of 1698 was meant to only last two weeks. Of the 20 Russians that left Russia, only one returned, the rest were foreign craftsmen and businessmen.

Regardless of this theory, the Peter that returned in 1698 was not the man who left, whether literally or ideologically. Due to the policies Peter imposed on Russia, Russian traditionalists of the Old Rite accepted that justice had left the Russian land. The true faith was gone, or at least was violently damaged.  This transition from a traditional society to a modern one, from the sacral to the profane meant the loss of the ritualization of life to its arbitrary will. The Old Rite accused its opponents of rebelling against Russia herself. 

Patriarch Nikon's belief in his providential mission to unify all Orthodox people was buttressed by the frauds mentioned above. It gave rise to his sense of superiority over the state since the entire Orthodox world, or so he thought, was with him. The Old Belief was not about rites. Rather, rites were icons, a society in miniature, of Old Russia. Adopting the new rite however, gave the state the green light to persecute the resisters. The Old Rite was anathematized, something utterly unnecessary and shows a darker agenda.

When Peter returned, the Patriarchate was abolished and the official Church put under strict control of the secular power that was deeply Masonic and Gnostic. Endless wars to benefit foreign powers, the genocide against the Cossacks, the destruction of hundreds of monasteries and the total purging of the upper clergy suggest that darker forces operated here.

Presented by Matt Johnson


The Orthodox Nationalist: Peter I and the Old Believers – TON 020619




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