The monograph by D. Y. Samokvasov “Ancient towns of Russia” (1873) in the light of criticism of F. I. Leontovich


The purpose of the article: to analyze the scientific controversy between F. Leontovich and D. Samokvasov, which arose on the monograph of D. Samokvasov “Ancient cities of Russia” (St. Petersburg, 1873). Research methods: analytical, historical, biographical, problematic-historiographic, descriptive. Main results: the beginning of the scientific controversy between D. Samokvasov and F. Leontovich, which arose over D. Samokvasov’s monograph “Ancient Cities of Russia” (St. Petersburg, 1873), was laid by a review written by F. Leontovich. According to the reviewer, D. Samokvasov’s doctrine of the historical development of the concept of the city was marked by confusion of concepts and definitions. F. Leontovych considered the author’s position on the historical origin and role of ancient Russian positions to be based on incorrectly interpreted historical evidence. Among the reasons he named complete ignorance of historical facts or simple disregard of them. The reviewer considered the first chapter of the monograph devoted to determining the number of towns in Ancient Russia the best part of the work, but, in his opinion, the author stopped halfway, he did not explain exactly what these cities were – simple fortifications or fortified points of people’s settlement. D. Samokvasov’s own views on the time of the initial emergence of cities and on the historical development of popular settlements in Russia, considered in the second chapter of the monograph, without exception, generated, as F. Leontovich believed, doubts, misunderstandings and controversial points. The reviewer did not agree with the author’s statement that the city was a center of community unity, and that with its appearance began a transitional period between the forms of patrimonial way of life and community-state life. The main thesis proposed by D. Samokvasov’s theory that in the pre-Moscow period in Russia urban life prevailed everywhere, and rural began to prevail only in the 16th century, F. Leontovich declared to be based only on questionable or misunderstood historical evidences. In addition to criticism of the main provisions of D. Samokvasov’s conceptual scheme, the reviewer presented his own understanding of this topic. In response to the review by F. Leontovich, D. Samokvasov did not agree with his criticism. He stated that the reviewer had neglected the true content of the monograph and therefore could hardly write a thorough, useful scientific review. D. Samokvasov believed that his research deserved a more thorough study and more serious and just estimation. In his reply to D. Samokvasov F. Leontovich criticized his polemic tricks and did not reject any of his critical remarks. The original continuation of this scientific discussion was the monograph by D. Samokvasov “Severian Land and Severians on the Towns and Burial Grounds”, published in 1908. After thirty years the researcher categorically declared that it is impossible to refute fundamentally the conclusions of his theory, because they are based on irrefutable factual material. D. Samokvasov called the scientific theory of his opponents unsubstantiated. Practical significance: the received results can be used in training courses and generalizing works on the history of Ukraine and its historiography, especially on the historiography and history of the ancient Russian city. Originality: scientific polemic between F. Leontovich and D. Samokvasov concerning the monography “Ancient cities of Russia” is systemized and analyzed. Scientific novelty: the scientific polemic between F. Leontovich and D. Samokvasov concerning the monography “Ancient cities of Russia” is thoroughly and as much as possible comprehensively opened and analyzed. Type of article: research.

Author Biography

Vitalii Yatsenko, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University

Ph. D. in History, Associate Professor, Associate Professor at the Department of History of Eastern Europe, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University


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How to Cite
YATSENKO, Vitalii. The monograph by D. Y. Samokvasov “Ancient towns of Russia” (1873) in the light of criticism of F. I. Leontovich. Universum Historiae et Archeologiae = The Universe of History and Archeology = Універсум історії та археології ISSN 2664-9950 (Print) ISSN 2707-6385 (Online), [S.l.], v. 4, n. 1, p. 121–135, dec. 2021. ISSN 2707-6385. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 05 june 2023. doi:
Historiography. Source Study. Special Historical Disciplines