Thursday, September 1, 2011

Women in Medieval Russia Class Notes

945-964 (19 years) Princess Olga
-First female land owner
-“Builder of Russia”
-Arranged orderly tribute collection at intervals
-To transform country – converted to Christianity (pg 9 in women book)
11th - 12th – common for women to be involved in governance
Yaroslav, great grandson – well educated daughters
-3rd daughter, Anna, wife of Henry I of France (pg 13 in women book)
--Took over government affairs
--Most important documents in 1050's bore her signature
--Not exceptional of women in 11-13th
Anna's niece founded monastery & school for women
-First girl's school – 1089
--Taught writing, needlework, other useful crafts
--12-13th monastic girl schools common
Princes educated daughters same as sons
-Grammar, mathematics, philosophy, healing arts, astronomy, rhetoric, foreign language
Digs found seals of three women
-Represents administrative power
--Women very active – Ulita, wife of Prince Andrei, joined boyars in plot
Many women had goals to self rule
-Anna Romanovna planned to self rule when husband died
--It took 40 years, but accomplished it finally

About courtship/betrothal

Women trained to be mistress of household as children
-Needed nuclear family
Courtship – game – abducting brides
10th c. contractual marriage – dowry
Pomolvka (talk) – brides parents inspect groom's home, groom's parents inspect bride
-Dowry, date, consent
-Join hands – cutting a block of cheese confirmed promise
--If groom broke pomolvka, he was fined
Parents fined – forced child or chose love and did not arrange it
If man married a slave – became a slave
If woman married slave – kept her freedom and that of her children
Women outlived men: married 2-3 times
-Took on being head of household
-Men = women in contributions

Evening before: ceremonial bath, gift of needles + whip, braiding hair, singing
-Bath water – excite and create love in her husband continued to 17th c
-Bed and dowry brought to groom's home
Day of:
Bride - nevesta - unknown woman - has not seen groom since engagement meeting
Bride waits for groom at her home
-Brought bread – satisfying
-Coins on floor – rich
-Hops – joy
-Grains – prosperity
-Fur coat – wealth/evil spirits
-Straw – ease of childbirth
Bride and groom ride in separate wagons to church after arrival and inspection
-Upon arrival, furs under feet of bride
Noisy travel home – frighten spirits
-First in household, boot with money, step on wine glass
Feast – all relations and whole village
-Whole chicken – divided and speared by bride and groom for suggestive comments
Bed ceremony

Man could divorce woman:
-Eats, drinks, sleeps with outsiders
-Made attempt on husband's life
-Brought thieves into home unknowingly
-Attended amusements against husband's wishes
Both could divorce if impotent, infertile, or financially impaired
Woman could divorce man:
-Husband hid slavery or sold self into bondage
-Accused wife of evil conduct with no substance


Sexual sin justified through pregnancy only
Severe penalty for infanticide, termination, and birth control
-Penalty for a man to raise a hand to a pregnant woman
Woman unclean for 40 days
Sons and daughters both a joy

Age 50 – prepare for death
-Women made funeral bundles for themselves, husbands, widowed brothers
--clothing, fabric for coffin, towels/kerchiefs
Death anthropomorphically portrayed as old woman
Upon death, body washed by post menopausal women not related

Legal System

Women's property distinct from husband
-Dowry/private will/commonly acquired
-Women allowed to bring from 1st to 2nd marriage
-Widows not helpless because of rights
--Could live with children over their objections and keep her own “portion”
-Men not allowed to steal or use as collateral
-Wife widow came first and could give things to daughters instead of sons
-Husband widow had to save wife's property for her children or make good out of loss
-If both parents died, sons were to inherit and create out of it dowrys for sisters
--If no sons, daughters got everything
--In 13th c, sons and daughters equal claim
-Wealthy women did not have to give preferential treatment
--daughter in law = 5/6th and nephew = 1/6th
Women could: buy, sell, trade, inherit, receive as a gift, donate to the church – land
-Did not need a man, all independent
Women presided of courts, participated in duels, and testified as witnesses
-Abolished legal restrictions on women's activities
Most offenses were punished by fines, differing by social order but not by gender
-Men and women had same responsibilities under the law
Russian law defended a woman's honor and value, from princess to peasant
-No slaves were protected, man or woman – if by master
Insulting an honorable woman by attributing sexual misconduct = rape
-Sometimes levied to murder
-Words more damaging than physical attack
If son beat mother – shorn as a monk

Fairy tales
-Baba Yaga
-Vasilissa the Beautiful
-Animals (fox, bird, rabbit)
-Ivan the Fool
-Animals (snotty goat)
Most all stories have a woman in it
-Win their heart
-Follow tasks given to them
-Being saved by
-Silence/outwit them

Day in the Life

House set up
-Hearth – womb of house, physically dominant
-Icon – male area
--Opposite each other, icon facing/protecting door
Lower Class
-Women: up before dawn: fetch water, stoke fire, grind flour, make bread, feed family
-Men: take care of icon lamps
During day
-Help husband in field or workshop
--Only men allowed in brewery
Women of all social orders
-Spin, make lace, weave cloth
-Documents testify to women in charge of household finances: money lending/trade
Noble women
-Oversee landholdings/household work

First layer same for everyone, just varies in length/fabric/decoration
-Usually linen shift, loose cut, long sleeves, belt
--Underwear – hygiene
-Peasant – beads, ribbons, embroidery, lace
-City women – pearls
-Nobles – sequins, silk
Outerwear - only varied in working of fabric
-Wrap around three paneled skirts
-Sarafans, caftans, cloaks, coats
-Usually coats/cloaks were open to show off ornamented clothing
--Because ornamentation took a lot of work, usually removable
Ceremonial dress = detached collars/cuffs
Furs – pile in
Headdress – women vs maidens
-Unisex fur hats
No earrings, yes necklaces and bracelets