Articles Chaplains in the Imperial Russian Navy, 1890–1914

By Sozont S. Singh, published February 2024


Naval chaplains in the Imperial Russian Navy faced particular difficulties at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They initially had little training and were not paid as part of the naval establishment. They were therefore treated with condescension or contempt and it proved difficult to recruit chaplains to the naval service. Despite their low status within the navy, many served with distinction in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5. New regulations came into force in 1908 that required chaplains to monitor the political as well as religious well-being of the crew following the revolutionary events of 1905–7. Reforms to the naval chaplaincy in 1911–12 saw a professionalization of the service and an influx of clergy who were educated. Despite this their status and influence remained limited, and they were unable to combat anti-government sentiment resulting in the sailors becoming the ‘vanguard of the revolution’ in 1917. This article provides an insight into the chaplaincy service of the Imperial Russian Navy at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Filed under: Other (Twentieth C)
Subjects include: Administration | Strategy & Diplomacy

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