This narrow - minded anti - Muscovite attitude of Novgorodian boyars proved to be unfavourable to artistic achievement. Architectural monuments erected under Euthymius II cannot compare, in beauty and perfection of form, with Novgorodian buildings of the latter half of the fourteenth century. The art of the fresco fell into gradual decline. Only icon painting continued to thrive all through the fifteenth century - a circumstance of great importance to the destiny of Novgorodian culture.

In addition to restoring twelfth - century church buildings, Euthymius II established a cult of "passed over", or departed, archbishops of Novgorod: they were canonized as local saints, and he had their Lives written and church services composed for them. The interest felt in Novgorod for the city's past history was strong and general as elsewhere. Old annals were transcribed and studied on a scale never before known. Collections of chronicles were compiled in rapid succession, reaching a volume hardly to be matched anywhere else in the lands of Rus. They were far more sophisticated in style than the old annals with their laconic manner and simple everyday wording.

In 1436 y., Novgorodian men of letters started work on a new cycle of legends, most of them centred around Archbishop John (Ioann), during whose bishopric, in the year 1169, the men of Novgorod repulsed the joint forces of north - eastern principalities led by the Suzdalian army. One of the legends of this cycle stands out for its high literary merit. It tells how Archbishop John shamed the devil, making the Evil One ride him to Jerusalem (a motif later used by Nikolai Gogol in his story of Christmas Night, written in 1832). The text is full of everyday detail, and gives a vivid picture of Novgorodian life and manners.

The central legend of the cycle, dealing with the miraculous deliverance of Novgorod from its foes in 1169 y., was best known and most popular in the version of Pachomius the Serbian, the writer invited by Euthymius II to compile the Lives of the newly canonized Novgorodian saints. His Tale of the Miraculous Deliverance of Novgorod from the Suzdal Host extols the heroic spirit of the Novgorodians fighting for their city's independence.

The subject of Novgorod's victory over the besieging army of Suzdal men was also depicted in icon painting. There are three surviving icons illustrating this event. The best of the three is now in Novgorod, and the other two are at the Russian Museum, Leningrad, and the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.