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HISB93H3 Professor Dowler Fall 2009 Lecture Note

Course Code
Wayne Dowler

of 4
NOV 10
x Baba Yaga
x Rusalka
x Olga
x Russkaia Pravda
x Marfa Boretskaia
x Terem
x Votchina
x Pomestie
x As in the West, women lived in the framework of patriarchy (primacy of men over women
was assumed and this assumption was shared by both sexes)
x This patriarchal approach existed before Christianity, but it was reinforced by Orthodoxy
x So the Church felt that women needed to be watched and guided by men
x It contained male fears over wRPHQ¶VSRZHURYHUPHQVH[XDODQGUHSURGXFWLRQ
x Folklore is full of stories of women who are good and evil
x The most famous figure was Baba yaga, a witch who plays tricks on people to humiliate
x There were rusalka (a maiden who has drowned because of a tragic love affair). She lurked in
ponds and streams and when men came along, they would reach out and drown the men
x In real life, there were female folk healers (condemned by the Church) and was sought out
for their abilities to heal with potions and herbs
sorcerers that are seen to use magic for evil
x Image of women is ambivalent
x The condition and treatment of women was not the same in all times and places. There were
differences from place to place
Women in Kievan Rus:
x Princess Olga, she avenged the killing of her husband
x She ruled for 20 years as regent to her son
regularized the tribute. Once it was collected, population was left alone
x she was the first person in Kievan Rus to see the value of Christianity to unify the population
x she traveled to Constantnople to meet Byzantine Emperor where she became Christian
x her acts as a secular leader and founder of Christianity, she is now a Saint
x The dynasty was connected to other dynasties in Europe. Several Kievan princesses married
western dynasties and played significant roles in their lives
x The establishment of Christianity in the elites created opportunities for learning for elite
x Covent schools were established and the abbesses who ran these convents were well
educated and those who graduated were highly literate for their times
x In elite Kievan households, sons had tutors and daughters learned along with the sons
x Literacy was there in elite
x Many city states led by princes provided women opportunity to take part in public life
x There are records of princesses serving as judges in their principalities
x Many women engaged in the intrigues of power struggles in Kievan Rus federations
x Law in Kievan Rus gave women equal standing with men
x Russkaia Pravda provided property rights to all free women and it gave women standing in
court as witnesses (eligible in the absence of men witnesses), protected against rape, women
who committed crimes were treated equally as men, and it allowed them access to the court
for complanance
x Women took advantage of this freedom in order to support their lives
x One of the things the Mongols had done was lesson the participation of women
x It was once thought that Mongols made women stay secluded but Mongol women were never
x Mongol women played major roles
x The Mongols left the princes to rule as long as they secured a yurlik from Sarai
x Lawcodes were not changed and protection of women continued
x Princesses who chose to be active in public life continued
x A celebrated woman was Marfa Boretskaia (end of Mongol domination)
x She lived in Novgorod
x Came from a wealthy boyar family and married mayor of Novgorod
x She built a huge fortune out of land and trade
x She dominated Novgorod politics (strong voice in policy making)
x She negotiated with Lithuania to get their protection although she lost, Ivan III defeated the
x She was arrested and exiled and her fortunes were confiscated
x Even in a patriarchal order, women could still assume leading roles
x The centralization of political authority reduced the public activity for everyone including
elite women
x One by one, the princely branches of the family were removed from the throne by Moscow
princes and enter the service to those princes
x Family members who had played public parts in governing lose their roles (decreasing
opportunities to govern). Governance was replaced by male Moscow appointees.
x By the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Moscow absolutism is placed and the Church was more
assertive on its moral ability of patriarchy on private life as a counter for losing influence on
the state (marriage, divorce etc)
x Women were pushed out of public life and restricted to the household
x The Tsars, boyars, big merchants and dvoriana built mansions that included separate quarters
for women , the terem
x It lasted for about 100 hundred years before Peter the Great abolishes it
x One reason for the terem was snobbishness (differentiating the rich and poor) as it separated
elite families from the rest as it could do without the work of the women
x The terem enabled families to control access to their women
x Personal connection were the key to power, daughters were extremely important currency,
the right marriage could improve your family standing
x Daughters should be isolated from adventurers (the wrong men) so they could not fall in love
with them
x Daughters should be kept pure so their value would be as high as possible
x Seclusion did not mean isolation
x The oldest female ran the household and younger women had their roles around the
x This was true in the service state where men are often absent
x Seclusion of women were limited to a small elite
x Both urban and rural women played important roles in the family
x Townswomen produced goods for sale, peasant women had assigned roles in the economy,
ran the household and did yard work such as keeping chicken and had field roles as well
x Women fished and foraged in berries and mushrooms
x For non elite women, patriarchy was limited because of the need to employ women
x There were midwives also who controlled birthing practices
x Marriage and divorce evolved
x Marriage in pre Christian times involved abduction rituals and it continued
x Arranged marriages through these contracts remained a norm
x The Church valued celibacy over marriage and took very little interest in marriage, not a
x The church had rules over marriage, set the age of marriage for 12 for girls and 15 for boys
x 1649, the age of girls were raised to 15
x Marriage in Kievan Rus and Muscovy was early because life expectancy was 50 years and it
maximized reproductive years for the couple
x Marriage earlier for ages 12 was for political reasons
popular rituals rather than religions rituals, a church ceremony was not required especially in
rural areas
x Until the 16th century, divorce was possible for a number of reasons. A man could divorce his
wife for adultery, but she could only have him fined if he were to cheat. Impotence and
infertility and inability to financially support family were grounds for divorce. If husband
sold himself to slavery without her knowledge, a husband who slandered his wife with sexual
slanders and if a husband went off to service and did not return for 3 years allowed women to
x Divorce was not very significant, many did not bother they simply separated
x 16th and 17th century, divorce became rarer and harder to get as the Church began to assert
itself over the moral life of the population, limit the grounds of divorce
x As a result, the status of women began to decline
x The role of women as witnesses was reduced
x Nevertheless, evidence showed that women remained active in defending themselves
wherever possible