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On the moral obligation of the historian and on tin buttons. Advices of Vladimir Malov (1938–2019)

Uvarov Pavel

The professional career of Vladimir Nikolaevich Malov was fraught with controversy. His mentors, Boris Porshnev and Aleksandra Lyublinskaya, had occupied polar positions in the study of French absolutism as well as in their ideas of the meaning and the style of historians’ work. Malov became an expert paleographer and wrote a book about the evolution of handwriting in the 15th —18th centuries (1975). In this study, Malov had drawn not only on the manuscripts stored in the Russian archives but also on such an important source as calligraphy textbooks. Besides evolution of aesthetic styles, he saw the pragmatic desire to establish practical skills of chancery work. The history of the chancery and later the history of Secretaries of State provided him access to the study of the absolutist bureaucracy in France. At the same time, Malov considered it his moral duty to acquaint his colleagues with Russian archival funds that promised interesting finds. In this capacity, he is known in the West. In Russia, he was appreciated as a historian, able to combine the knowledge of empirical material with large-scale generalizations. His books on Colbert (1991) and Fronde (2009) were a success, although Malov could not demonstrate in them his unique competence as an archivist-paleographer. He was given that opportunity in his work with a collection of the 16th to 17th-century diplomas from Orléans. These documents, that came to Russia already in the 19th century, turned out to be unique, since the archive of the Department of Orléans was destroyed in 1940. Malov’s local history work allowed him to produce a book entitled ‘Orléans and Its Environs’ (2015), where his ability to work with complex paleographical sources, his profound knowledge of French law, and the desire to trace the dynamics of socio-economic changes have yielded good results. Thus, at the very end of his life, the contradiction inherent in the historian’s creative biography was removed.

Keywords: Vladimir Malov, Boris Porshnev, Aleksandra Lyublinskaya, 16th- and 17th-century France, Paleography, Colbert, Fronde, Absolutism, Archive of Orléans
Link: Uvarov P. On the moral obligation of the historian and on tin buttons. Advices of Vladimir Malov (1938–2019) // Annual of French Studies 2019: The era of Napoleon and her memory.М. P. 360-385.