Russia to 1917 Syllabus

History 356 Fall 2003

Study Questions, Week 2

Kaiser & Marker Ch. 2:

Introduction: What is the basic issue at question in this section?

Intro. to Primary Chronicle on Dissension:

What role might Christian allegory have served in the Primary Chronicle?

Primary Chronicle on Dissension:

What sorts of relationships tied together the various principalities of Rus'?

What sort of familial imagery does the chronicle employ, and why?

What sort of religious imagery does the chronicle employ, and why?

What symbolic importance is invested in the description of the murders of Boris and Gleb?

What importance might we attribute to Iaroslav's treatment of the men of Novgorod?

If we look at this selection as the story of the unification of Rus' under Iaroslav, what might it

suggest about the nature of the Rus' "state"?


Intro to Primary Chronicle on Kiev's rebellion:

What might the editors' reading of this selection suggest about popular sovereignty?

Primary Chronicle on Kiev's Rebellion:

Again, how is religious imagery used in this selection?

What relationship seems to have existed between the Prince of Kiev and the populous?

What "lesson" might be intended by Kiev's need to "call home" Prince Sviatoslav?


Intro to Pravda Russkaia:

Explain the difference between the three different "versions" of the Pravda Russkaia.

Do the editors think that these laws were intended to introduce new concepts of justice or to codify state power? Explain.

Pravda Russkaia:

Based upon these codes, describe norms of familial, inter-familial, and property relations in Rus'.

Based upon these codes, describe relations between the individual and the state in Rus'.


Froianov and Dvornichenko, "The City State":

What institutions do the authors see as alternative centers of power to the monarchy?

What evidence do the authors present of the strength of the city commune? What were its responsibilities?

What sort of textual evidence from the Primary Chronicle do the authors present on the nature of the "Kievan people"? Why is this important?

How do the authors explain the "plunder" of Iziaslav's castle in 1068? Why is this important?

According to the authors, how was Vladimir Monomakh "placed" on the Kievan throne?

Explain their evidence. Why is this important?

What do the authors tell us about the workings of the Kiev commune? Why is this important?

What, then, is the authors' thesis about the Kievan state?

How do the explain the decline of the Kievan commune, and why is this important?


Kaiser & Marker Ch. 3:


What is at the heart of debates over the economy of Kievan Rus'?

How extensive was agriculture and trade in Kievan Rus?


Lepasheva, "Agriculture in Rus'":

How did the development of agriculture in the forrest zone differ from that in the steppe?

Explain the techniques and purpose of slash and burn agriculture.

Explain what slash and burn inferred for settlement patterns.

Explain the purpose and techniques of the "fallow" system.

Explain the differences between scratch plows, heavy plows, and light plows, where they were used, when, and why.

Do differences in plow types suggest different levels of agricultural advancement? Explain.


Rybina, "Novgorod's Amber Trade":

What can we learn about Novgorod from archeological discoveries of amber?

When was amber first imported to Novgorod? When did imports peak? Decline?

How can we determine the "dates" of the amber trade?

What was the source of the amber found in Novgorod, and what does this tell us?

When and why did the source of amber in Novgorod change, and what does this tell us?

When and why did the supply of amber to Novgorod decline, and what does this tell us?


Kaiser & Marker Ch. 4

Introduction:  What fundamental questions do the editors hope to uncover in this section and how?

Intro to Statute of Grand Prince Iaroslav:

Explain the origins of this document and the questions it might help answer.

Statute of Grand Prince Iaroslav

How have these laws been determined?

What sorts of differences between social strata emerge from these laws?

What sorts of offenses do the laws cover, and what might this suggest about attitudes towards gender, status, and property?

What do these laws suggest about attitudes towards sexuality, and the relationship between sex and power?

What do these laws suggest about attitudes regarding religion and religious difference?

What do these laws tell us about the relationship between family, property, and status?

What else strikes you as significant in these statutes?

Who administers punishment in these cases, and what does that tell us?


Pushkareva and Levin, "Women in Medieval Novgorod":

According to the authors, what was the didactic function of church literature regarding women? Explain.

Did this church literature necessarily represent societal norms? Explain.

What evidence might suggest that Novgorod's medieval laws actually placed considerable stock in the "value" of women? That women may have had access to a variety of social roles and social status? Explain.

What sorts of women were given special protection under Novgorodian law, and in what ways? Explain.

What evidence is their that women often played an active (rather then passive) in shaping their own roles and status? Explain.

What sorts of property rights did Novgorodian women have, and what might this show?

Why do the authors think that we must relate the status of women in Novgorod to the process of "feudalization," and what does this mean?

What is the thesis of this essay?


Kaiser & Marker, Ch. 5:

Introduction:  Was "Christianized" culture the only form of cultural expression in Kievan Rus'? Explain.

Why do the authors describe the Primary Chronicle's narrative of Christianization as   "political"? What methods have we used to understand the popular culture of Rus'?

Intro to Primary Chronicle on Christianization:

What do the editors suggest we look for in reading this selection? Why?

The Christianization of Rus'...:

According to the chroniclers, what was Vladimir's religion in 978?

Why did Vladimir reject Islam? Why did he reject Catholicism? Judaism?

Why did Vladimir accept [Greek] Orthodox Christianity? What influenced this decision?

As an historian, what do you find significant about the story of the taking of the city of

Kherson? In what sense is this a political as well as religious tale? What messages are the

chroniclers trying to get across?


Intro to the "Life of St. Theodosius":

Into what tradition of sainthood do the authors suggest we place the tale of Theodosius?

Life of St. Ted:

According to this narrative, what marked the child Theodosius as "different"?

What lessons might be intended in this tale of T.'s youth (re. the ideal Christian life, family, devotion, etc)?

What proofs are presented of T's sainthood, and what function might this have?


Birchbark Charters from Novgorod:

What sorts of details of life do these fragments written on barks reveal? Explain.


Graffiti from St. Sophia:

What sort of details of life in Kiev do these graffiti reveal? Explain.


Franklin, "Literacy in Kievan Rus":

What evidence is there for literacy in Kievan Rus', and at what sort of level?

What sorts of folks seem to have been literate, and what is the evidence of this?

According to the author, what do these written sources seem to reveal?

For what purposes did Kievans write, and why is this important?

What conclusions does the author think that we can and can not reach on the basis of the existing evidence?

Russia to 1917 Syllabus