Kharkiv College

Kharkiv College (Харківський колеґіюм; Kharkivskyi kolegiium). An educational institution in Kharkiv that functioned in the 18th and early 19th centuries and combined elements of upper secondary education and higher education; one of the most important religious schools in the Russian Empire in the 18th century. Founded in 1722 in Belgorod as a Slavo-Latin school by Bishop Yepyfanii Tykhorsky, the college was relocated to Kharkiv in 1726. At Tykhorsky’s request, the neighboring Church of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God was appended to the school, whereupon this complex became known as the Scholastic Monastery of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God. It was directed by an archimandrite who concurrently held the office of the rector at the school. The Scholastic Monastery of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God in Kharkiv had a status analogous to that of the Kyiv Epiphany Brotherhood Monastery with the Kyiv Epiphany Brotherhood School. In his efforts to extend the rights of the school, Tykhorsky appealed to the imperial authorities and obtained a letters patent from Empress Anna Ivanovna, dated 16 March 1731, according to which Kharkiv College was permitted to enrol pupils from different estates and was granted the privilege to instruct them in poetics, rhetoric, philosophy, and theology, as well as to carry out legal proceedings against both its teachers and students. The letters patent moreover protected the college from any interference on the part of the military or secular authorities.

The development of Kharkiv College was boosted by considerable philanthropic support from the various social strata of Slobidska Ukraine, owing to which the college accumulated substantial land holdings and industrial enterprises (such as parcels, villages, forests, mills, apiaries, urban plots for development, buildings, etc.). Among its patrons was the Russian field marshal Mikhail Golitsyn (followed in this respect by his heirs).

The college’s sizable holdings made it possible to increase the number of students either totally or partially exempted from school fees. In the mid-18th century, its enrolment averaged about four hundred pupils, growing by the end of the century to over seven hundred. Apart from the children of the clergy, the college’s student body also included Cossacks and other social strata.

Until the end of the century, the college’s graduates occupied both clerical and secular offices, a feature that distinguished it from theological academies and theological seminaries in the Russian Empire proper, where the latter practice was relatively uncommon.

The course of studies at Kharkiv College was patterned on that of the Kyivan Mohyla Academy (which followed the model of Jesuit colleges), and included classes in grammar, poetics, rhetoric, philosophy, and theology. Its practical adherence to the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum was an important feature of the education offered there. In the grammar classes, pupils were intended to master Latin; in addition to the study of Church Slavonic, arithmetic, singing to notes, catechism, German, and French (from late 1730s on), Polish was also included in the curriculum until the 1750s. The classes in poetics and rhetoric were aimed at providing the students with an advanced command of Latin, as well as at shaping the students’ moral and ethical development. According to some reports, a school theater existed in the college. In the second half of the 18th century, the curriculum for classes in poetics and rhetoric was substantially modified to include history, geography, mathematics, Russian, Ancient Greek, and Hebrew.

The study of philosophy was initiated in 1727, based, as at the Kyivan Mohyla Academy, on late scholastic Aristotelianism. In the second half of the 18th century, it was supplanted with the Leibnizian-Wolffian system. The philosophy courses held at the college provided access to rational knowledge and to the West European paradigm of thought. That was the very beginning of a systematic teaching of philosophy in the eastern Ukrainian lands.

Classes in theology were introduced in 1729. Since the students there acquired a special clerical education, these classes were sometimes called the ‘Theological Department’ in official documents. At the end of the 18th century, the basic curriculum was supplemented with pastoral theology, canon law, church history, and hermeneutics. Yoakynf Karpynsky and Sylvestr Lebedynsky, who lectured at the college, later wrote theological textbooks used, apart from the college itself, in academies and theological seminaries throughout the Russian Empire.

The students of the college were also permitted to attend lectures in arithmetic, geometry, German, French, and Italian languages, architecture, drawing, and painting in the so-called ‘Additional Classes,’ founded in 1768 and later transformed into Kharkiv Public School. Following the opening of Kharkiv University in 1805, the students of the college’s superior classes attended certain academic courses at the university (such as botany, physics, and medicine). Agriculture and medicine were added to the course of study at Kharkiv College in the early years of the 19th century.

Graduates were often sent to continue their studies abroad (to Germany, in particular). Among the first such students was Kyrylo Florinsky, who traveled abroad in 1727 and, upon his return, became a lecturer in poetics and philosophy at the college. He later headed to the Moscow Academy, where he served as rector.

Kharkiv College had a rich library. In 1732, it received the personal book collection of Metropolitan Stefan Yavorsky. In addition to the purchase of books, the library was stocked through donations from the bishops of Belgorod and Kharkiv (considerable collections were donated by the bishops Yoasaf Mytkevych, Samuil Myslavsky, and Khrystofor Sulyma), from the college’s rectors and graduates, and from the population of Kharkiv and Slobidska Ukraine in general. In 1769, the library had 1962 volumes in its stocks, a figure that grew to 3228 volumes in 1823.

The college’s teaching staff included, in different periods, the outstanding philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda, the natural scientist Ivan Dvyhubsky, the educator and scholar Ivan Pereverzev, the grammarian Ivan Ornatovsky, the painter Ivan Sabluchok, and others. It had a number of notable individuals among its graduates: the Russian physicist Vasilii Petrov, the translator and writer Nikolai Gnedich, the physicians Hryhorii Bazylevych and Yefrem Mukhin, the architect Petro Yaroslavsky, the historian Mikhail Kachenovsky (also rector of Moscow University), the churchmen Arsenii Mohyliansky (metropolitan of Kyiv), Archbishop Sylvestr Lebedynsky, and more. The college graduates Vasyl Dzhunkovsky and Andrii Pavlovsky would become rectors of Kharkiv University.

Together with the Kyivan Mohyla Academy, Kharkiv College (sometimes called an academy in the official documents of the Orthodox Church from the 1740s on) was until the end of the 18th century an important centre for the education of the Ukrainian clerical and secular elite, especially for the eastern Ukrainian lands. The college helped transplant to Kharkiv some forms of West European academic culture, thus laying the groundwork for the foundation of Kharkiv University in 1805.

As a result of the reform of Russian Orthodox church education in 1808, Kharkiv College was transformed into a theological seminary, which received a new statute in 1817 (though it kept the title ‘college’ until 1841).

Lebedev, Amfian. Khar'kovskii kollegium kak prosvetitel'nyi centr Slobosskoi Ukrainy do uchrezhdenija v Khar'kove universiteta (Moscow 1866)
Posokhova, Liudmyla. Kharkivs'kyi kolehiium (XVIII – persha polovyna XIX st.) (Kharkiv 1999)
———. Na perekhresti kul'tur tradytsii, epokh: pravoslavni kolehiiumy Ukraïny naprykintsi XVII – na pochatku XIX st. (Kharkiv 2011)
———. ‘Vykladachi ta uchni pravoslavnykh kolehiiumiv,’ in Ukraïns'kyi Het'manat: Narysy istoriï natsional'noho derzhavotvorennia XVII–XVIII st., ed. Valerii Smolii (Kyiv 2018)

Liudmyla Posokhova (translated by Serhii Vakulenko)

[This article was updated in 2023.]

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