К вопросу о понятии русь в древнейшем летописании
In the article the author studies what kind of identity the name rus’ referred to in the earliest chronicles of Kievan Rus’. His analysis is based on the ideas and reconstructions of Alexei A. Shakhmatov who proved that the famous “Tale of By-gone Years” (1100s) included some earlier chronicle or annalistic texts composed in the 11th century. According to Shakhmatov, the “Tale” originated from the so-called “Initial Composition” written in Kiev in the 1090s. The author shows that the writer or writers of the “Composition” placed Rus’ in the world history based on eschatological schemes of the Byzantine chronicles. They understood the Rus’ as a Christian people and as a powerful state and tried to “expand” its identity over local communities. The texts which can be dated back to the mid 11th century considered Rus’ in a different way: their authors’ efforts were to specify its identity in relation to other ethnic or political groups stressing its military victories and ignoring religious discrepancies. The author of the article concludes that the intellectuals of Kievan Rus’ were able to propose a variety of distinct “strategies of identification” and “ethnic projects”.
The book deals with some aspects of social and political history of medieval Rus' (the 9-13th centuries): its political and administrative structure, social makeup and functions of town assemblies (veche), relations of nobles (boyars) and princes (kings), decimal organization (chiefs of tens and hundreds). A variety of sources and methods is used, and in every single case origins and biases of any relevant sources have been analysed.
The author explores the text of “The Legend of the Calling-in of the Varangians” in the oldest Rus’ian chronicle codices. He relies on the idea (proposed once by A. A. Shakhmatov), which considers the beginning part of the so-called Novgorod First Chronicle of younger redaction (N1Ch y.r.) as a compilation dating back to the 1090s and thus preceding the famous “Tale of By-Gone Years” (originated in the 1110s). The author concludes that the text of the “Legend” preserved in the N1Ch y.r. is older and more correct than the text in the codices containing “The Tale of By-Gone Years”. He demonstrates how the compiler(s) of “The Tale of By-Gone Years” revised the text preserved in the N1Ch y.r. changing its chronology, reconstructing the narrative, enriching it with additional data etc. He pays a special attention to the context of the “Legend” in the N1Ch y.r. and suggests a new understanding of its concept and content searching for analogies in the medieval historiographical works of the genre Origo gentis.
The author examines the origins of the so called "right for departure" - a right of nobles to leave one king and to enter an other's service in medieval Rus'. He considers as crucial the question why this right dating back to early times was fixed in writing only in the 14th century.
The author presents a history of the institute of pol’udie in Old Rus’ from the 10th to the mid 16th century and concludes that this institution had transformed depending on changing economic and financial conditions. Originally, pol’udie was gifts and food which population gave voluntarily to their leaders/rulers when they went round over a territory of a given “tribe”. Beginning at the early 12th century the pol’udie evolved into one tax collected in naturalia or money in favor of a prince or his agents or his beneficiaries. The poliud’e disappeared in the northeastern princedoms of Rus’ since they had been conquered by the Mongols and obliged to pay them a tribute in the mid-13th century.
The study aims to define the forms and makeup of the elite in the 10th and 11th century society of Rus’, and to identify those involved in making critical military and political decisions. The sources of the study include the early chronicle-writing, the 10th-century treaties between Rus’ and Byzantium, Russkaya Pravda (‘The Rus’ian Justice’), and others. The evidence on Rus’ is compared to that on similar early medieval European societies. Special attention is given to the groups which made the key elements of the Rus' elite in the 11th century - the nobility (boyars) and the corps of princes' military servants (otroki or grid').
The author studies the rituals and rules in the relationship of kings and nobles in medieval Rus'. The key issues are if the nobles swore an oath to the kings when entreing their service and if the nolbles exercised the so called "right of departure" when leaving the kings' service. The author's approach is comparative. He uses the evidence on the vassal rituals and norms in medieval countries of Europe, first of all, in Scadinavia in the 11-13th centuries.
Early polities are often called as tributary (from Latin tributum). It is a question of great importance but also of great difficulty which tributes (taxes) the Rus’ collected from the subjugated population in the 9-11th centuries. The oldest Rus’ian chronicle texts contain several references about an extraction of some taxes in favor of the Rus’, but these references are difficult to understand. The author interprets the chronicle reports with these references taking two approaches: 1) it is taken for granted that the chronicle preceding to “The Tale of Bygone Years” is preserved in the so-called Novgorod First Chronicle of Younger Redaction, and 2) the chronicle reports are compared with the evidence of non-Rus’ian origin (the treaties by Constantine Porphyrogentis, the Arabian geographers’ accounts from the 9-11th centuries etc.). The most important conclusions drawn by the author are: 1) the tribute rate matched to the “standards” common in Eastern Europe in the 9-11th centuries, and this was in fact a fur skin which corresponded in prize to 4-7 g silver, 2) the Rus’ian ruling class collected the tribute (dan’) during the yearly circuit around the subjugated territory, extracting also some naturalia for feeding as “gifts”; both the circuits and the naturalia were called as poliud’e, 3) the evidence on both the tribute rate and methods of extracting the tribute comes from different regions of Old Rus’ – from Novgorod to Kiev. This fact shows that the basic principles of tax system which the Rus’ applied to the subjugated territories were the same anywhere. These principles laid a foundation for the “tributary” dominance of the Rus’ in the 9-11th centuries.
The book is a publication of a full text of M.Kh. Aleshkovskiy’s candidate of sciences (PhD) thesis defended in 1967 and previously available only in a shortened popular edition.