Minstrels in Rus’

Due to the destruction caused by the Mongols during their invasion of Rus’, the culture of the time is not as well known as it is in other times. The Mongols obviously had significant impact on the culture of Rus’, but they also left large amounts of destruction in their wake, meaning that culture came second to other activities (namely: survival).

Painting, literature, and other forms of the performing arts were not as prevalent in this time, but we know that one thing that was very prevalent was wandering minstrels. These minstrels would go town to town performing their various arts or crafts for the people.

They were popular among the general populace (mainly in villages), but not as commonly seen in larger cities. This is primarily due to the Church warring against, and banning in some cases, the traveling minstrels due to their activities and methods. The Church was still trying to eliminate traces of paganism and they were very clearly carrying on the traditions of paganism.

2 thoughts on “Minstrels in Rus’

  1. The text does see to imply that there were wondering mistrals that moved from city to city. But it could also be that there was a large if not larger percentage that were settled in a single city. It would be entirely practical for mistrals with acts that did not require large animals to live a double life similar to what was described in the text.Also the reasons for the churches and sometimes a towns objection may not have always been because of a dislike of pagan ideas. It is entirely likely that they were just considered a nuisance to some towns. The church likely viewed meany acts of frivolity as disagreeable.

  2. One thing that I think would be interesting to consider about the Church’s hatred of the minstrels has less to do with paganism and more to do with their threat to the social order. Zguta writes that the minstrels had the possibility to be from all castes of society, allowed women to join, and were members of “worldly” professions such as business or industry. We learned in class that the church was highly protective of social hierarchy, and since the minstrels completely defied all church social teachings, they were considered a threat. With the influence of the Christianity strengthened during the Mongol invasions, there has to be more than just religious factors at play here.

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