Post Mongol Invasion Law

After the Mongol conquest of Russia was over, law seemed to change by putting a focus on a more civilized and fair society rather than “getting even” with another party.  The Pravada Russkaia was created in the eleventh century and is a long list of crimes and set fines to go along with them. There is little organization to this early Russian law code.

The courts are given much of the responsibility when determining which party is at fault, rather than a set list of fines, after the Mongol Invasion. It is the Prince who is always receiving money from the trials regardless. Before in the Pravada Russkaia, crimes such as murder and theft could sometimes be compromised with a fine, however in the Russian Sudebink of 1497 these deeds are all punishable by death. It is interesting to note that the Sudebink does has a “one strike” policy from some crimes such as in Article 10, where it denotes that a thieve is sometimes eligible for a different consequence, rather than death. There were many more references to the religion in the post-Mongol invasion texts. For instance, The Novgorod Judicial Charter states in Article 4a, that one always must “Kiss the Cross”. Also in Article 58 of the Sudebink it acknowledges that foreigners must also “Kiss the Cross”. The use of evidence was key in these trials. It is thought that the litigants had more power in determining the case rather the judge because they were responsible for gathering and presenting evidence.

Post-mongol era laws provided was much more advanced than before and had a goal of limiting corruption and crime, rather than just punishing it.


1.) How good was the value of one’s word? Because there was so much stress on evidence, case witnesses were used a lot. Was this a loophole in the system?

2.) In what ways did the mongols bring light to the issue of corruption? Considering how much of a social hierarchy the Mongols put in place, it was very important to be able to trust your superiors. Were Russian elites that bad?


Law and Women in Early Rus Society

The two law codes we have read for the people of Rus are very different. They show changing attitudes to governance, punishment, and women. The First law code we read, the Pravada Russkaia, mostly describes crimes that pretty much everyone would have a problem with. They are things like theft, violence, and destruction of property. The mechanism for enforcement is the wronged party. The second set of laws we have read, Iaroslav’s Statute, Are much broader. Instead of before when crimes such as rape where left out, probably because everyone knew what to do about it, they are included. There are lots of new laws about women, their actions, and actions against them. There is also the inclusion of laws with religious reasons. Punishments no longer go just to the wronged party, but they may now also have to be paid to the Metropolitan or the Church. Some crimes even require people to go to covenants. The laws protected people especially women from things such as being kicked out of their house, or raped, but also restricted rights we would see as very important today.

In early Rus the Orthodox Church had a heavy hand in people’s views of women. The Church had a way of viewing women that we might refer to as the “Madonna/Whore complex.” Women where either good or evil based on a set of guidelines we today would most likely not think of. However that does not mean that women where without power in the society. There was evidence of them doing everything from being mayors of towns to brewing their own beer. While this might have set them occasionally at odds with the Church they where still able to enjoy greater freedoms. The Church’s opinion of women was widespread it often did not reflect the actual position of women, who often had prominence than they where given credit for. I wonder how comparable the situation of women was in Rus to other places around the world at the same time.