Once a society evolves into a body with some form of governance (whether it be a system of lords, barons, or landowners), a law code is often developed for the purpose of keeping the peace. In the Kiev region of the world during the evolution of the Rus people, two prominent law codes came to the forefront as a list of commandments by which their society stood. The first of these codes, known as Iaroslav’s Statute, came into being during the early 11th/late 10th century, and existed as a compilation of laws borrowed, modified, and evolved from tribal customs and statues that existed among the Kievan people for centuries. The second, more modern version of early Rus lawcode, known as Russkaya Parvda, stuck to many of the major principles put forth in Iaroslav’s Statute, with only a few minor alterations. Both law codes reflect a civility in style of governance that shows a relative leniency towards those who violate the principle laws illustrated in both edicts.
The lack of an overarching, state mandated death penalty for major offenses (excluding rape) shows both a respect for human life on the part of Rus society as a whole, a respect that perhaps blossomed out of the necessity to keep a sizeable enough population to have society function properly; in other words, perhaps the early Rus people believed a man more valuable alive as a tax paying citizen and land-worker opposed to an executed convicted criminal. Perhaps the Rus people placed a heavier financial levy on more serious crimes in order to make a steadier profit for the government, or perhaps , in the case of murder, to recoup the financial contribution that the deceased would have made as a tax payer and layman during the rest of his/her lifetime.
The way in which both codes directly address the issue of gender proves confusing, especially in a society that acted in an inherently patriarchal manner (excluding the rule of a female regent or two). Iaroslav’s Statute in particular goes into detail regarding the way in which men and women should act when engaged in marital affairs, assigning a government enforceable punishment for such acts as infidelity, incest, bestiality, and “defrocking” of a nun. This attention to detail in regard to the way in which men and women treat each other shows the way the early people of Rus felt about gender. Although specific gender roles are also assigned in the law code, and women are clearly subservient to men, the amount of detail given in regard to the way men and women are meant to behave towards each other in both codes shows that the patriarch based society cared enough about the well being of its women to write specific legal precedent into their highest law code, solely for the purpose of providing ample punishment for those who did each other wrong across the board, regardless of gender.