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History Professor Contributes Chapter to Collection of Historical Fiction

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dr. Russell Martin, Westminster College professor of history, has contributed a chapter to Portraits of Old Russia: Imagined Lives of Ordinary People, 1300-1725.

The book is a collection of fictionalized biographies of real and imagined people in Old Russia and is designed to help undergraduate and other non-specialist readers better imagine life in medieval and early modern Russia.  Each chapter presents a brief account of someone from early Russian society using primary, archival source materials and attempts to create a whole picture of the life, attitudes, and fate of that person.

Martin's chapter, "Anna Koltovskaia: A Russian Tsaritsa," is about one of the later wives of Ivan the Terrible.  She was married to the tsar for only a few months and lived the rest of her long life as a nun in a number of convents across Russia.

"This book brings together many of the most important historians of Russia and asks them to draw on their knowledge and experience with the sources to imagine the past," Martin said.  "It was a tremendous challenge to write this essay, since it required more the skills of a novelist than a historian."

Martin has been invited to present his contribution to the book along with some of the other authors at the April 8 Early Slavists' Seminar at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.  The seminar chair is Donald Ostrowski, one of the co-editors of the book.

Martin, who has been with Westminster since 1996, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Martin appeared on A&E Biography in a broadcast on Ivan the Terrible as an expert on the controversial ruler.  He is the co-founder of the Muscovite Biographical Database, a Russian-American computerized register based in Moscow of early modern Russian notables.  The Neville Island, Pa., native is not only fluent in Russian, but also reads Old Church Slavonic/Russian, French, German, Latin, and Polish.

Martin continues to translate from Russian to English the official Webpage of Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the heiress to the vacant Russian throne.  Translations are available at  Martin was awarded the Russian Imperial Order of St. Anna, second class, by the grand duchess for his work on behalf of the House of Romanov.

Contact Martin at (724) 946-6254 or email for additional information.

Dr. Russell Martin