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Research seminar: «"Friend to Foes, Foe to Friends": Translator of the Ambassadorial Prikaz Christoph Boush (died in 1667) and his diary»

On November 13, 2021 at the session of the research group 'Languages for Describing the Other in Early Modern Europe: Social Contexts and Repertoires of Interpretation' the research associate of the Higher School of Economics Oleg Rusakovsky presented his report «"Friend to Foes, Foe to Friends": Translator of the Ambassadorial Prikaz Christoph Boush (died in 1667) and his diary».

The speech was dedicated to an anonymous unpublished text of the period between 1654-1664. According to the indirect data (diplomatic events, persons indicated in the diary, the set of languages ​​that the author speaks), the author of the text can be reliably identified as Vasily Boush - the translator of the Ambassadorial Prikaz in the service of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. 

The author identifies himself as Christoph only once; twice he uses personal pronoun "I", preferring to refer to himself in the third person as a member of the Moscow embassy. Most likely, a native of Courland, Boush was captured by the Russian troops at the beginning of the Russian-Polish war of 1654-1667. He was taken to Moscow, where he converted to Orthodoxy and made a quick and extremely successful career in the Ambassadorial Prikaz (he translated speeches from Latin, German and Polish). But, despite the successful career of a Russian subject, Boush secretly and anonymously kept a "Diary", which is replete with harsh criticism of the Russians (but never the Russian Tsar), and at the same time - constant expressions of sympathy to the Polish Commonwealth and its szlachta, living in the regions to the west and north of Smolensk, suffering in "Moscow slavery."

The material of the "Diary" allows us to reconstruct both Boush's own identity and his ideas about the political, ethnic and confessional map of Eastern Europe. "Poles", "Lithuanians", "Russians" in Boush's Diary are not so much ethnonyms as politonyms. For example, the term "Poles" most often denotes only the Polish nobility, whereas "Lithuania/Lithuanians" - the army. His sympathy for the “Poles” remained unchanged, although his attitude toward the “Muscovites”/“Russians” softened over time, and political rhetoric became more moderate and varied.

The report generated active discussion among the participants of the seminar about stereotypization the description of Russians in the Diary compared to Polish sources; what Boush meant by Livonian language; and what the origins of the source were. At the end of the presentation, Oleg Rusakovsky announced the forthcoming translation of Boush's "Diary" and shared some observations about the difficulties that arose during translation and annotation of the text.