Post Kievan Rus’ economy and society


Looking back at post Kievan Rus’ the only thing we can all agree on is that we don’t know enough. The information gathered is mangled and confusing but if looked at in depth it does give us an idea of what society was like.

In chapter seven the economy and society of post Kievan Rus is explored through a few documents. In examine these texts “the reader ought to note what the laws tell us about social differentiation, about the legal standing of women, and about the role of documentation in judicial hearings.” (109). The first is the Novgorod Judicial Charter from the late fifteenth century. Compared to the other texts we have from the Kievan Rus’ the rules seem much more modern and thoughtful. People are expected to pay different amounts as punishment for wrongdoing depending on their wealth. This idea was not present in earlier texts. It seems women were somewhat present in court cases. The charter discusses women kissing the cross in their own home, which insinuates they were not welcome in the official court but a complaint could be filed against them. It is clear that documentation was much more widely used then in previous court dealings. The use of documentation is discussed even more in the second charter. In A Muscovite Judgment Charter tells of a specific court case. In this case the use of documentation is evident and is a large part of the case. The Judge oversaw proceedings but was not the one who made the final decision. He asked questions and guided the case. The importance of “God’s justice” was also an influence.


What was God’s justice and what did it entail? Was it just another was for the Russian Orthodox to control the people of Rus’?


What does the newfound use of documentation tell us about the change the Mongols brought to Rus’?

One thought on “Post Kievan Rus’ economy and society

  1. I believe that the Rus’ judges left the decision as “God’s Justice” because it removed the possibility of them getting a case wrong or allowing the one who lost to argue against it. The infallibility of god is being used here to give the Russian courts and Church the same infallibility in their decision making. When I was reading through the multitude of examples they give for God’s Justice, the actual sense of it was beyond me. In one case, a random peasant kissed the cross to learn where the boundary between Church and private land was. Even more strangely, it was sometimes used in duels. God’s Justice was simply another way for the Church to seize even more power over the lives of the people.

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