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Anglo-Russian Research Network Spring Reading Group: Russian Orthodox Church and Anglicanism in the nineteenth century

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Prior to the efforts of slavophile W.J. Birkbeck, relations between Anglicans and the Russian Orthodox Church were strictly the preserve of eccentrics - William Palmer of Magdalen being a prime example, having famously made several trips to Russia where he campaigned - unsuccessfully - for intercommunion. But this is only one part of the story. Drawing on a number of sources, readers in this session are invited to examine a rather different picture, focussing on the role of two leading Russian laymen: Count Aleksandr Tolstoy, chief procurator of the Holy Synod after the Crimean War, and his anglophile friend, Count Evfimy Putiatin, who combined an expertise in the latest naval technology with ultra-Orthodox piety. So without forgetting the eccentrics (the convert Stephen Hatherly was another notable example), the discussion will concentrate on the period 1840 to 1870, throwing light on a wider set of concerns, including historical hostility towards Roman Catholicism and the tensions between pan-Slavism and pan-Orthodoxy.

Professor Simon Dixon was born in Lancashire, where he learned Russian at Bolton School, Simon Dixon graduated in History from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he held a Junior Research Fellowship after studying for a PhD at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies.  Having spent nine years lecturing at the University of Glasgow, he was Professor of Modern History at the University of Leeds from 1999 to 2008 before moving to the Sir Bernard Pares Chair of Russian History at UCL SSEES.

The Anglo-Russian Research Network organises termly reading groups for those interested in the interactions between British and Russian culture and politics in the period c.1880-1950. More details along with podcasts of their previous events can be found HERE.

If you would like to attend, please contact Matt Taunton ( or Rebecca Beasley( to obtain copies of the texts we will be discussing. These are informal events with plenty of discussion and wine. All are welcome.