First Advisor

Jon Mandaville

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors








This thesis is the culmination of research from over the past three years. It sta11ed out with the question: Can the foreign policy of the medieval Muscovite State be fully explained by the concept of Third Rome? Third Rome is a concept of political inheritance whereby Moscow was seen as heir of the religious and political ideology of Byzantium, and, therefore, the Roman Empire. I quickly found a great deal of scholarship that mentioned the concept. In fact, I found so much that I believed that the concept appropriately identified the Muscovite foreign policy. I excitedly wrote up a draft. However, before submitting the draft I took a vacation to Washington, DC. At Portland State University we had recently lost our Russian historian, Lois Becker, so in Washington, DC I made an appointment to see the Russian historian Dr. David Goldfrank at Georgetown University. 1 brought along my draft hoping to gain a bit of insight. It turned out that Dr. Goldfrank was a specialist on the Third Rome concept. It quickly became apparent that my research, at the time, was inadequate, but with a few suggestions I was sent back on the right path.

Yet, I kept thinking that all my research could not have been inadequate. After all, it came from well published historians. With Dr. Goldfranks's suggestions in mind I delved deeper into the historiography until my head and apartment swarmed with books and articles. Suddenly, it occurred to me why I had made such an error. The great majority of scholarship that mentioned the concept appeared to validate my original assumption, but recent scholarship by Russian, or more specifically Muscovite, historians countered this assumption. There was a shift in scholarship from those that supported the concept of Third Rome to those that upheld counter views. As a result, my original draft was thrown out and a new direction began. With such a vast amount of scholarship at my fingertips I sought to organize and explicate how such a shift occurred. The result is this historiographic survey of the concept of Third Rome.


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Note: This thesis is only available to students, staff and faculty at Portland State University.

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