Having looked at the Правда Русская (Pravda Russkaia) and compared it to Iaroslav’s Statute I think that the change in the documents can tell us a lot about life in early Rus as well as the different roles that men and women played in their society. In my opinion the biggest change between the two legal codes is the shift in importance from material possessions to family as well as sexual values. In the Pravda Russkaia most of the laws are jumbled around with little regard for organization, however the central theme seems to be property and its value; however, in Iaroslav’s statute we can see Christian values starting to emerge as there are many laws pertaining to marriage and adultery in particular. These include rules about when and how people can get divorced as well as several clauses that talk about incest or sexual relations with other non Christians, actions which were both condemned.
Another aspect of this document that I think is important to look at is the role of women in Rus society. Generally when looking through history I expect to find women having very little power as compared to men. However, in Iaroslav’s Statue I saw several things that led me to believe that women held some power in early Rus. One law in particular that comes to mind is…
“if a girl does not wish to marry,[and] then the father and mother give her [in marriage] by force, and if the girl causes [harm] to herself, than the father and mother are guilty before the Metropolitan, and they are to pay the losses. Likewise with a young man [who does not wish to marry].”
Not only does this law seem to protect women from marriages they may not want, it also does something that I think is equally important. In the end of the clause it says that this practice is the same with both males and females who do not wish to marry. This leads me to believe that the people of Rus may have valued female contribution more than other societies of the time.
Lastly I also noticed that there was nothing in this legal code regarding homosexuality. I found it interesting that nothing was said, as this seems to be a very consistent topic in so dubbed “Christian nations”. The absence of this subject leads me to wonder whether or not this issue was important in Rus society or if it was a social taboo that was intentionally not included.