Nikon

1605-1681. Patriarch of Moscow. He had a monastic education and became a monk after the early deaths of his three children, separating from his wife, who became a nun. On a visit to Moscow in 1643 he became friendly with Czar Alexis, who subsequently promoted him to the patriarchate (1652-60) and allowed him to exercise considerable power: he acted as regent in the czar's frequent absences from Moscow. Nikon quickly reformed the Russian liturgy, bringing it into conformity with Greek and Ukrainian practice, thus aiding the czar politically in the absorption of the Ukraine (1654-67). Nikon's reforms were made permanent, but much opposition was aroused, the Old Believers* continuing to observe the traditional forms of worship. Feelings were so strong that both Nikon and the czar were variously identified with Antichrist, and bloodshed more than once ensued. Nikon was deposed in 1660 and exiled to a remote monastery. He was pardoned shortly before his death by the next czar, Fedor III. A man of immense energy and influence, though lacking in tact, Nikon is reckoned the greatest of the Russian patriarchs.