Ivan Fyodorov

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Ivan Fedorov, also Fedorovych, (Ива́н Фёдоров,) was among the fathers of printing in the Eastern Slavonic language and was the first printer in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.


Ivan was born early in the sixteenth century. Little is known of his early life. Neither his place nor his date of birth are known. He graduated from Jagiellonian University in Kraków with bachelor degree in 1532.

In 1564–5 Fedorov accepted an appointment as a deacon in the church of St. Nicholas (Gostunsky) in the Moscow Kremlin. With Peter Mstislavets, he established the Moscow Print Yard and published a number of liturgical works in Church Slavonic using moveable type.This technical innovation created competition for the Muscovite scribes, who persecuted Fedorov and Mstsislavets and finally caused them to flee to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. There they were received by the Lithuanian Hetman H. Khodkevych at his estate in Zabłudów (Zabludiv) (northern Podlachia), where they published Ievanheliie uchytel’noie (Didactic Gospel, 1569) (see Zabłudów Gospel) and Psaltyr’ (Psalter, 1570).

In Zabłudów, Fedorov changed his surname from Fedorov to Fedorovych. In 1572, he moved to Lvov and resumed his work as a printer the following year at the St. Onuphrius Monastery. (Fedorovych's tombstone in Lvov is inscribed ‘drukovanie zanedbanoe vobnov[yl]’ [renewed neglected printing].) In 1574, Fedorovych, with the help of his son and Hryn Ivanovych of Zabłudów published the second edition of the Apostolos (originally published in Moscow), with an autobiographical epilogue, and Azbuka (Alphabet book). Fedorovych was known as the ‘Muscovite printer’ or Iwan Moschus (Ivan the Muscovite) in Lvov, a name used more to identify his place of origin than his nationality. In 1575, Fedorovych, in the service of Prince Kostiantyn Ostrozky, was placed in charge of the Derman Monastery.

In 1577–9 he established the Ostrih Press, where, in 1581, he published the Ostrog Bible and a number of other books. Fedorovych returned to Lvov after a quarrel with the Prince, but his attempt to reopen his printing shop was unsuccessful. His printery became the property of the Lvov Dormition Brotherhood (later the Stauropegion Institute). The brotherhood used Fedorovych's original designs until the early nineteenth century.

Fedorovych died on December 14, 1583 in Lvov. He was buried on the grounds of the St. Onuphrius Monastery, now in Poland.