The Widow’s Prize

This reading focused on how the Mongol Invasion greatly influenced Rus’ politics and culture. As a result of this influence, The First Treaty of Novgorod was created. This treaty created more communication between the princes of the various provinces. This created a stronger alliance between the provinces; however the treaty seemed to be directed more to the citizens then the government. This is evident based on the new laws that were created by the treaty. Another significant part of the reading was Dmitrii Donskoi’s last will and testament. What was truly significant about this will was the recognition he gave to his wife. She was given a significant amount of power for a woman of that era. She was in charge of distributing the land between the sons. The rest of the will described what son would get what bit of land, and even included any future sons.

This was a very interesting reading, what made so remarkable was the last will and testament of Dmitrii, was his devout understanding of God. “And if, because of my sins, God takes away one of my sons…(Reinterpreting Russian History, pg 89)”. The strength of his faith and the fact that he would blame himself rather than God for the potential death of a son gives Dmitrii a much more martyred appearance. It is even more interesting to note that his wife gained distributing control of his property and possessions. Women during the Middle Ages, especially in Western Europe, had very little privileges and had a lot of social restrictions. Dmitrii seemed to think far more into the future than most ‘civilized’ Western Europeans at the time; he even had written in his will that his children should obey their mother.

I have two major questions on this reading. 1) How did the Orthodox Church feel about this Last Will and Testament? And 2) Was this the way most widows were treated, and if not was this simply because she was a part of the nobility?

2 thoughts on “The Widow’s Prize

  1. In response to your second question, I believe that the fact Dimitri’s wife came from nobility it resulted in her obtaining such privileges. As you have said in your post, women during this time period are commonly remembered as having very limited, as well as strict social, privileges.

  2. I don’t know what the Orthodox Church would have thought, but I would think it was probably the type of thing that officially they did not approve of. However, just because they did not approve of it did not meant he most of the people of Rus where not fine with it. I would love to see if there are a significant number of other examples of the same kind of situation, one could be a fluke, but more are solid evidence.

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