Forschung, Veranstaltungen, Publikationen

Seminarreihe des Arbeitsbereichs Ökonomie am IOS

Zeit: Dienstag, 13.30–15.00 Uhr
Ort: Leibniz-Institut für Ost-und Südosteuropaforschung (IOS); vorerst online via Zoom, Link wird mit den Einladungen verschickt!

Forschungslabor: „Geschichte und Sozialanthropologie Südost‐ und Osteuropas“

Zeit: Donnerstag, 14–16 Uhr (Lehrstuhl) oder 16–18 Uhr (Graduiertenschule und Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus)
Ort: WiOS, Landshuter Str. 4 (Raum 017)

Freie Stellen Text
Gastwiss. Programm Text

Tsar Ivan IV. Groznyj and the „Schlitte Project“ – A Failed Attempt at the Modernization of Russia 150 Years prior to Peter the Great?

The „Schlitte Project“ describes the last futile attempt of the Goslar merchant Hans Schlitte and his many helpers and followers, who, on the initiative of tsar Ivan IV. Groznyj, sought to supply Muscovy with a large number of specialists in varied fields from the Holy Roman Empire. This event occurred during the years of 1548–1582, it became one of the best known single events in the history of German-Russian relations in the Early Modern Age and has been the subject of numerous publications, as well as a few source editions during the last 150 years.

Therefore, it is all the more surprising that the central question, which has become evident from the historic examinations of this topic, still remains unresolved: Did the political offers of the Muscovite ruler to emperor Karl V and the empire that Hans Schlitte referred to in the context of his recruiting mission indeed originate with Ivan IV and were they possibly, or at least partly, genuine? Or did they merely arise from the imagination of the recruiter, quickened by business acumen and self-interest?

The contrasting answers to this question correlate with the fundamentally different evaluations of Hans Schlitte himself and of his “project”. He is considered to be either a talented diplomat and confidant of the tsar or a ruthless, deceitful adventurer and impostor. Accordingly, the „Schlitte Project“ is considered either as an attempt – defeated by Livonian resistance, but nonetheless historically important − at a comprehensive rapprochement between the Tsardom of Muscovy and the empire and, resulting from this, the political, economical, cultural and military opening of Russia 150 years prior to the reign of Peter the Great. Alternatively, it is seen as a historically irrelevant episode without any importance for the deeper understanding of the political and cultural development of Muscovy under Ivan IV.

This dichotomy of researchers’ opinions is understandable in light of the scarcity of sources that previous studies on the “Schlitte Project” were based on. Previously, studies on this topic have been majorly obstructed by the fact that, even known relevant sources are scattered throughout numerous archives in several European countries and only a few of them are available in printed form. The comprehensive review, evaluation and ideally also edition, both of the known sources and also those possibly yet to be discovered in various archives, is therefore the necessary precondition for a promising scientific re-assessment of the “Schlitte Project” that could aim to solve the central question of this research topic.

First steps in this direction have already been taken with the systematic review and partial evaluation of the relevant archival material in the Bavarian State Archives in Munich (Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv), the Prussian Privy State Archives in Berlin (Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz), the Austrian State Archive in Vienna (Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv), as well as the Archive of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck.

The sources that were discovered in this process lead to the assumption − still needing verification by further archival research − that Hans Schlitte really did act by order of Tsar Ivan IV. This goes not only for his recruitment of “western” specialists from varied fields for service in Muscovy, but also for his exploration of the positions of Emperor Karl V and the empire towards the conclusion of an alliance directed against the Ottoman Empire, a union of the Roman-Catholic and the Russian-Orthodox churches as well as the possible recognition of the Muscovy ruler’s tsarist title by the Roman-German emperor.

Further archival research in Augsburg, Dillingen, Schleswig, Stettin und Paris shall make it possible to answer the central question of the „Schlitte Project“ as a research subject on a solid factual basis.


Project results:


- Frëčner, Rajnchard [Frötschner, Reinhard], Delo Šlitte, in: Sigismund Gerberštejn: Zapiski o Moskovii. V dvuch tomach. Pod red. A. L. Choroškevič. Tom II: Stat’i, kommentarij, priloženija, ukazateli, karty. Moskva 2008, S. 132–147.



- Reinhard Frötschner: „Novye istočniki o missii Gansa Šlitte. Ob osobennostjach moskovskoj diplomatičeskoj praktiki v seredine XVI v. v evropejskom kontekste“, Vortrag im Rahmen der Internationalen wissenschaftlichen Konferenz „Reprezentacija vlasti v posol’skom ceremoniale i diplomatičeskij dialog v XV – pervoj treti XVIII veka“, Kreml’-Museum Moskau, 21.10.2006.

- Reinhard Frötschner: „Novye svedenija o političeskich i religioznych predstavlenijach pervogo carja Moskovskogo gosudarstva po istočnikam kruga Gansa Šlitte i Vejta Senga v Glavnom gosudarstvennom archive Bavarii v Mjunchene“, Vortrag im Rahmen der Internationalen wissenschaftlichen Konferenz „Inozemcy v Rossii XV – XVII vekov: Zapad – vostok“, Kreml’-Museum Moskau, 25.10.2004.