Peter the Great did not come to the throne in August 1689 of a country possessing a simple, organic religious culture. The previous two centuries were periods of continuous change, gathering speed after 1645. The starting point of these changes was the decline of the authority and central importance of monasticism, a decline that is visible after about 1530. Another large implication is that the evolution of religion in Russia in these centuries led the country down a road that rapidly converged with that of Western Europe. Both Reformation and Counter Reformation had resulted in an enormous increase in the role of preaching among Protestants and Catholics. The evolution of religious life and thought inside Russia brought the country up to the gate of Europe. Peter opened it.
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