Boris Dmitrievich Grekov, the Russian historian and academician, was born

21 April 1882

Boris Dmitrievich Grekov, a Russian historian, the Director of the Institute of the Russian history, the Institute of the material culture history, the Institute of Slavic Studies, academician of the Academy of Science of the USSR was born on April 09 (21), 1882 in the town of Mirgorod, near Poltava.

When he was a child his family moved to Warsaw. In 1901 he entered the University of Warsaw where he met with the eminent historian-medievalist D. M. Petrushevsky who contributed a lot to Grekov’s formation as a historian. Four years later, having obtained a recommendation of Petrushevsky, he transferred to Moscow University. At first his scientific adviser there was A. A. Kizevetter, then M. K. Lyubavsky. After the University Grekov was assigned a teacher in a Women School of Kholmsk but soon he moved to Petersburg and started working in Gurevich’s School, the Imperial Commercial School and Catherine’s School. In the University of St. Petersburg, under the guidance of professor S. F. Platonov, he studied in magistracy and in the seminary of academician A. S. Lappo-Danilevsky.

In 1914 B. Grekov defended his magistrate thesis on the topic of ‘The House of Saint Sophia in Novgorod (The organization and intern relationship in a large church)’ and was conferred the title of professor.

In 1913 Grekov became a member of the Imperial Commission for the study of early texts. On the instruction of the Commission in 1913-1914 Grekov revised and described the archive of the Great Monastery of Tikhvin, and in 1916-1917 he revised, described and transported to Perm the archive of Solovetsky Monastery.

After the end of the World War I, Grekov was given a vacation in order to prepare the doctor’s thesis. He went to Crimea and worked as a professor in Taurida University in Simferopol. In 1921 the scientists returned to Petersburg where he combined the teaching with the work in the Academy of Science and the Central Historical Archive.

In the first half of 1930s Grekov worked as a scientific secretary in the Historical Institute for the Study of early texts under the Academy of Science of the USSR in Leningrad. In 1935 he was conferred the title of academician and from March 1936 stood at the head of the Institute of History Leningrad branch under the Academy of Science of the USSR. In 1937 – 1953 he occupied the post of the Director of the Institute of History and at the same time, from 1944, headed the Institute of material culture history under the Academy of Science. In 1946 Grekov organized the Institute of Slavic studies which he headed until 1951. From 1947 he was also a member of the Academies of Science of Poland and Bulgaria, a PhD of the University of Prague. Grekov was a laureate of three State Prizes of the USSR and was awarded with two orders of Lenin.

The first research studies of B. Grekov covered the social and economical history of Novgorod. He concentrated his attention of the social and economical side of feudal relationships and the study of inner life of feudal patrimony. His essential subject of research was the history of the Ancient Russia and the East Slavs. In his fundamental work ‘Kievan Russia’ (1939), having made a careful analysis of all the sources, he refuted the opinion existing in the historical literature that the society of the Ancient Russia was slaveholding and proved that the East Slavs passed from primitive communal system to the feudal relationship escaping the slaveholding system. He demonstated that the basis for the economical activity of the Ancient Russia was a highly developed plough agriculture instead of hunt or other trades and thus refuted the opinion of western historians about the backwardness of the East Slavs social and economy system. Grekov did not accept the theory of Norsemen and believed that the Ancient Russia had a state and played a significant role in the international affairs. At the same time in his work ‘Culture of Kievan Russia’ (1944) he refuted the nationalist concept of a Ukrainian historian M. S. Grushevsky and proved that Kievan Russia was a single cradle for the Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian peoples.

B. Grekov also studied a lot the history of the Russian peasantry. In 1946 he published the work ‘Peasants in Russia from the ancient times to the 17th century’ where he revised the history of the Russian peasantry of the 10-17th centuries in a close relation with the peasant history in Lithuania and Poland. Grekov made a significant contribution to the development of historiography and source study in Russia paying attention to collection and publication of many primary sources and history annals in particular.

Boris Dmitrievich Grekov died on September 9, 1953 and was buried in Moscow.


Lit.: Академику Б. Д. Грекову ко дню 70-летия: Сб. ст. М., 1952; Горская Н. А. Борис Дмитриевич Греков. М., 1999; Греков Б. Д. Новгородский дом святой Софии (Опыт изучения организации и внутренних отношений церковной вотчины). Ч. 1 СПб., 1914; Греков Б. Д. Очерки по истории феодализма в России. Система господства и подчинения в феодальной деревне. М.-Л., 1934; Греков Б. Д. Автор «Слова о полку Игореве» и его время // Историк-марксист. 1938. Кн. 4 (68). С. 10-19; Греков Б. Д. Борьба Руси за создание своего государства. М.-Л., 1942; Греков Б. Д. Киевская Русь. М.-Л., 1944; Греков Б. Д. Культура Киевской Руси. М.-Л., 1944; Греков Б. Д., Якубовский А. А. Золотая Орда и ее падение. М.-Л., 1950; Греков Б. Д. Избранные труды. Т. 1-4. М., 1957-60; Греков Б. Д. Русь времён «Слова о полку Игореве» // Югов. Слово. 1945. С. 14-26; Исследования по истории и историографии феодализма: К 100-летию со дня рождения академика Б. Д. Грекова. М., 1982; Комиссаренко А. И., Чекунова А. Е. Борис Дмитриевич Греков: приготовление к профессорскому званию — поиск научного пути // Образ науки в университетском образовании: Материалы XVII научной конференции. М., 2005. С. 283-288; Панеях В. М. О следственном деле Б. Д. Грекова. 1930-1931 гг. // Отечественная история. 2001. № 4. С. 208-210; Шунков В. И. Борис Дмитриевич Греков (1882-1953) // Греков Б. Д. Избранные труды / Под ред. П. Н. Третьякова и И. Б. Грекова. М., 1957. Т. 1. С. 3-16.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Греков Б. Д. Золотая Орда : (очерк истории Улуса Джучи в период сложения и расцвета в XIII-XIV вв.). М., 1941.