Also called Chronicle of Nestor or Kiev Chronicle, Russian Povest vremennykh let (“Tale of Bygone Years”), medieval Kievan Rus historical work that gives a detailed account of the early history of the eastern Slavs to the second decade of the 12th century. The chronicle, compiled in Kiev about 1113, was based on materials taken from Byzantine chronicles, west and south Slavonic literary sources, official documents, and oral sagas; the earliest extant manuscript of it is dated 1377. While the authorship was traditionally ascribed to the monk Nestor, modern scholarship considers the chronicle a composite work.
The Tale of Bygone Years (Old East Slavic: Повѣсть времѧньныхъ лѣтъ, Pověstĭ vremęnĭnyxŭ lětŭ), often known in English as the Rus’ Primary Chronicle, the Russian Primary Chronicle, or simply the Primary Chronicle, as well as also, after the author it has traditionally been ascribed to, Nestor’s Chronicle, is an Old East Slavic chronicle (letopis) of Kievan Rus’ from about 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev around 1113. The work’s name originates from the opening sentence of the text, which reads: “These are the narratives of bygone years regarding the origin of the land of Rus’ (Old East Slavic: Рѹсь), the first princes of Kiev, and from what source the land of Rus’ had its beginning.” The work is considered to be a fundamental source in the interpretation of the history of the East Slavs. The Chronicle’s content is known today from several surviving editions and codices that have been revised over the years and evince a slight degree of variation from each other.
The historical period covered in the Tale of Bygone Years begins with biblical times, in the introductory portion of the text, and concludes with the year 1117 in the Chronicle’s third edition. Russian philologist and founder of the science of textology, Aleksey Shakhmatov, was the first one to discover early on that the chronology of the Primary Chronicle opens with an error. The Chronicle has it that “In the year 6360 (852), the fifteenth of the indiction, at the accession of the Emperor Michael, the land of Rus’ was first named.” However, 11th century Greek historian John Skylitzes’ accounts of the Byzantine history show that Emperor Michael III did not begin his reign in 852 but rather a decade earlier, on January 20, 842. Because of the work’s several identified chronological issues and numerous logical incongruities that have been pointed out by historians over the years, the Chronicle’s value as a reliable historical source has been placed under strict scrutiny by the contemporary experts in the field.
Hardcover reprint with leather binding, gold leaf printed spine, complete with marbled endpapers.