Anniversary of a Russian academician, historian and publicist Konstantin Bestuzhev-Ryumin

26 May 1829

On May 14 (26), 1829 in Kudreshki village of Gorbatov district in Nizhny Novgorod province, in an ancient noble family was born Konstantin Nikolaevich Bestuzhev-Ryumin, an academician of St. Petersburg Academy of Science, a Russian historian and publicist, the founder of the High Women Courses in Petersburg.

Konstantin Nikolaevich was educated first in L. F. Kambek’s boarding school and then in Noble boarding school under Nizhny Novgorod gymnasium. In 1851 he graduated from Moscow University, Law Department, but had never actually been occupied with legislation. During his student years the future researcher was seriously influenced by such Russian historians as T. N. Granovsky, K. D. Kavelin, S. M. Soloviev.

From the middle of 1850s K. N. Bestuzhev-Ryumin became the ‘Moscow bulletin’ editor assistant; then tried to publish his own journal ‘Moscow review’ and from 1859 began to work partially in ‘Otechestvennye zapiski’ (National notes) journal.

In 1864 K. N. Bestuzhev-Ryumin became a member of Archaeography Committee and the Russian Historical Society. At the same time he began teaching Russian history to the future Emperor Alexander III and the imperial family member. He also wrote for people such books as ‘On Christianization of Russia’, ‘On Vladimir Monomakh and his descendants’, ‘On severe age of Tatar invasion’, ‘About Moscow state development’. In 1865 the scholar was elected an associate professor at the Russian history department of St. Petersburg University. Three years later he was conferred the doctor’s degree for his thesis ‘On the Russian chronicles’ composition until the end of 14th century’. From 1867 to 1871 Bestuzhev-Ryumin had taught the Russian history also in History and Philology Institute. His lectures were quite captivating owing to bright images, strong conception, emotional characteristics; he also studied deeply the sources and weighted contrary theories.

Having thoroughly studied the Russian chronicles, the scholar proved that the ‘Tale of Bygone Years’ (Russian Primary Chronicle) is the Codex composed in the 12th century. Bestyzhev-Ryumin had made textual analysis to determine the places of the latest insets into chronicles and demonstrated that the sources of the most ancient codes had been composed from separated legends, weather notes, copies, editions and other annalistic notes. Thus Bestyzhev-Ryumin had considerably expanded the notion of the beginning of writing chronicles in Russia and restored its development.

Being a staunch supporter of women education, from 1871 Bestyzhev-Ryumin started to lecture on the Russian history at Vladimir High Women Courses. In September of 1878 he became the official founder and the first Director of the High Women Courses named later after him ‘Bestuzhev’.

The main contribution of Bestyzhev-Ryumin to the science was the critical development of source study and historiography issues. His generalized two volume work ‘The Russian history’ represented the sources code and their latest interpretations. Though he had many followers, his principle of ‘scientific objectivity’ prevented the appearance of the so-called school. He had never systematically advised any student felling that he was not able to do it.

In 1884 due to a disease Bestyzhev-Ryumin was obliged to stop his teaching and social activities. However in 1890 he was elected a full member of the Imperial Academy of Science at the Department of Russian language and literature.

On January 2 (14), 1897 Konstantin Bestyzhev-Ryumin died of pneumonia.


Lit.: Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Биографии и характеристики. СПб., 1882; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Князь Володимирский Всеволод Мономах и потомки его, Мономаховичи, или о временах княжеских смут и усобиц. СПб., 1865; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. О крещении Руси, о Владимире Святом, о сыновьях его и об монастыре Печерском. СПб., 1864; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. О составе русских летописей до конца XIV века. СПб., 1868; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. О том, как росло Московское княжество и сделалось русским царством. СПб., 1866; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Письма К. Н. Бестужева-Рюмина о Смутном времени. СПб., 1898; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Русская история. Т. 1. СПб., 1872; Т. 2. Вып. 1. СПб., 1885; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Рец. на соч. С. М. Соловьёва «История России с древнейших времён. Т. XXV» (М., 1875). СПб., 1877; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Рец. на соч. Ф. И. Леонтовича «Очерки истории литовско-русского права. Образование территории Литовского государства» (СПб., 1894). СПб., 1896; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Рец. на соч. Н. М. Павлова «Русская история от древнейших времён. Первые пять веков родной старины (862-1362 гг.). Т. 1» (М., 1896). СПб., 1896; Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Рец. на соч. П. В. Голубовского «История Смоленской земли до начала XV века» (Киев, 1895). СПб., 1898; Киреева Р. А. К. Н. Бестужев-Рюмин и историческая наука второй половины XIX в. М., 1990; Малинов А. В. К. Н. Бестужев-Рюмин. Очерк теоретико-исторических и философских взглядов. СПб., 2005; Платонов С. Ф. Константин Николаевич Бестужев-Рюмин // Русский исторический журнал. Кн. 8. Пг., 1922; Шмурло Е. Ф. Очерк жизни и научной деятельности К. Н. Бестужева-Рюмина. 1829-97. Юрьев, 1899.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Иоанн IV Васильевич // Энциклопедический словарь / Под ред. проф. И. Е. Андреевского. Т. 13а. СПб., 1894. С. 681-692;

Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. М. П. Погодин. Статьи политические и польский вопрос (1856-1867). М., 1876;

Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. О злых временах татарщины и о страшном Мамаевом побоище. СПб., 189;

Бестужев-Рюмин К. Н. Николай Михайлович Карамзин: Очерк жизни и деятельности. СПб., 1895;

Киреева Р. А. К. Н. Бестужев-Рюмин и историческая наука второй половины XIX в. М., 1990;

Кобеко Д. Ф. К родословной рода Бестужевых-Рюминых. СПб., 1889;

Коялович М. И. Разбор критики К. Н. Бестужева-Рюмина на сочинение М. О. Кояловича: «История русского самосознания по историческим памятникам и научным сочинениям». СПб., 1885;

Памятники новой русской истории: Сб. ист. ст. и материалов, издаваемый В. Кашпиревым. Т. 1 / Сост. при содействии и участии К. Н. Бестужева-Рюмина. СПб., 1871.