1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Daniel of Kiev

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DANIEL (Danil), of Kiev, the earliest Russian travel-writer, and one of the leading Russian travellers in the middle ages. He journeyed to Syria and other parts of the Levant about 1106–1107. He was the igumen, or abbot, of a monastery probably near Chernigov in Little Russia: some identify him with one Daniel, bishop of Suriev (fl. 1115–1122). He visited Palestine in the reign of Baldwin I., Latin king of Jerusalem (1100–1118), and apparently soon after the crusading capture of Acre (1104); he claims to have accompanied Baldwin, who treated him with marked friendliness, on an expedition against Damascus (c. 1107). Though Daniel’s narrative, beginning (as it practically ends) at Constantinople, omits some of the most interesting sections of his journey, his work has considerable value. His picture of the Holy Land preserves a record of conditions (such as the Saracen raiding almost up to the walls of Christian Jerusalem, and the friendly relations subsisting between Roman and Eastern churches in Syria) peculiarly characteristic of the time; his account of Jerusalem itself is remarkably clear, minute and accurate; his three excursions—to the Dead Sea and Lower Jordan (which last he compares to a river of Little Russia, the Snov), to Bethlehem and Hebron, and towards Damascus—gave him an exceptional knowledge of certain regions. In spite of some extraordinary blunders in topography and history, his observant and detailed record, marked by evident good faith, is among the most valuable of medieval documents relating to Palestine: it is also important in the history of the Russian language, and in the study of ritual and liturgy (from its description of the Easter services in Jerusalem, the Descent of the Holy Fire, &c.). Several Russian friends and companions, from Kiev and Old Novgorod, are recorded by Daniel as present with him at the Easter Eve “miracle,” in the church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There are seventy-six MSS. of Daniel’s Narrative, of which only five are anterior to A.D. 1500; the oldest is of 1475 (St Petersburg, Library of Ecclesiastical History 9/1086). Three editions exist, of which I. P. Sakharov’s (St Petersburg, 1849) is perhaps the best known (in Narratives of the Russian People, vol. ii. bk. viii. pp. 1-45). See also the French version in Itinéraires russes en orient, ed Me B. de Khitrovo (Geneva, 1889) (Société de l’orient latin); and the account of Daniel in C. R. Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, ii. 155-174.  (C. R. B.)