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John II of Novgorod

John II of Novgorod, also Ioann (Russian: Иоанн) was the Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov from 1388 to 1415. During his archiepiscopate John opposed attempts by Metropolitan Cyprian, who was Metropolitan of Kiev to become Metropolitan of Moscow. He also supported efforts by Novgorod to remain independent of Moscow.


Little is known of the early life of John who is not to be confused with Abp. John of Novgorod in the twelfth century who often is referred to as Ioann in hagiographic literature, but was apparently called Ilya during his archiepiscopate. Upon the retirement and with the blessing of his predecessor, Abp. Alexsei, John was elected by the Novgorod veche[1] in 1388. John came to office as Moscow began to gain hegemony over Novgorod in a growing dispute that would continue for the next century.

In his position as the archbishop of Novgorod, John became a partisan in the dispute between Novgorod and supporters of Metr. Cyprian of Kiev in his attempt to become Metropolitan of Moscow that continued from 1376. Initially, named as Metropolitan of Moscow, Cyprian was forced to flee Russia until he later returned and was supported and appointed Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia by Prince Basil II. [1] However, after Cyprian was enthroned he was still not allowed to hear appeals from the archbishop's court in Novgorod or gather a tax, which was the metropolitan's customary right. As consequence of the dispute, no metropolitan of Moscow visited Novgorod for almost the next four decades.

John was active in both the religious and political activities of Novgorod. A number of churches were built under his direction as well as renovations to St. Sophia Cathedral, including gilding of the main dome in 1408. Abp. John supported Novgorod's political and missionary efforts in the centuries old conflict with Sweden in the northern areas of Vyborg and along the River Neva to Lake Ladoga where Valaam Monastery developed.

In 1415, John retired to the Derevianitsky Monastery in Novgorod and died two years later, in 1417. He was buried in the main church of the monastery near the grave of Abp. Alexsei, his predecessor.


  1. John Meyendorff, Byzantium and the Rise of Russia (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary, 1989), 214-221.
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John II of Novgorod
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Archbishop of Novgorod
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