Although frequently overlooked by Western scholars of Church history, theology and ecumenism, Aleksei S. Khomyakov (1804–1860), one of Russia's most original thinkers and most prolific and diverse writers of the nineteenth century, merits attention as one whose religious writings not only occupy a prestigious place in the history of Orthodox thought but greatly influence Orthodox thinkers today. If the nineteenth century can be regarded as the Renaissance of the Russian Empire, Khomyakov is an example of its Renaissance men. A poet of no little talent, historian, essayist, dramatist, inventor, philosopher, theologian and founder of the Slavophile school that undertook to discover and define Russia's cultural and historical significance, Khomyakov was indeed a man of many parts. But his pioneering efforts to delineate the essence of Russian Orthodox Christianity from that of its Western counterparts remain perhaps most noteworthy in the eyes of his countrymen. His theological accomplishments have led some modern Orthodox writers to regard him as the most important figure in Orthdox thought since the Patristic age; some of his ardent admirers have, in fact, named him a Father of the Russian Orthodox Church. His work to divine the natural strengths of the Russian people by exploring the special character of their national faith not only elicited Russian national self-consciousness but helped to foster the sentiment of religious exclusiveness that did much to prepare the way for a comprehensive system of Russian nationalism. These achievements prompt one of his biographers to rank him with Peter the Great, Lomonosov and Pushkin as one of the four most important men in all Russian history.