Kievan Rus’ & Pravda Russkaia

The Pravda Russkaia, or the law code of Kievan Rus’, has a very interesting and unique mixture of possible offenses and punishments, some of which are logical, while others are not.  For example, Point 9 states that “If someone unsheathes a sword, but does not strike anyone,then he pays 1 grivna.”  This offense is somewhat similar to laws about carrying a weapon with out a permit.  Another example is point 12, which states that “if someone rides on someone else’s horse, not having asked him for permission, then he is to provide three grivnas.”  This law is similar to that of auto theft.  These laws shows that the Kievan Ru’s “state” had some idea of what was right and wrong, even showing similarities to modern statutes.

Additionally to these logical laws, the laws also show signs of a modern judicial system. Some of the crimes explicitly state that a witness must be found if there was one present.  This third party individual would aid in solving the dispute, as well as helping determine if someone is guilty or innocent.

However, some of these laws have penalties that do not fit the crime.  For example, article 7 says that one must pay 3 grivnas for cutting of a man’s finger, but must pay four times that amount for cutting a man’s mustache, which is stated in article 8.  While it is understandable that cutting a man’s beard be an offense in a culture where a beard and/or mustache is sacred, cutting a finger off could potentially kill a man due to infection, as well as severely hinder him and his ability to do labor.  Another odd punishment is that of article one, which states that one must pay 40 grivnas, which is the same exact amount for cutting a man’s arm off, even if it does not kill him.

Overall, Kievan Rus’ code of law is much more  advanced than I originally had thought it would be, despite some odd penalties and punishments for crimes.