Russian history 22: Russkaya Pravda and civil institutes in Kievan Russia

Since the times of Vladimir the Saint and Yaroslav the Wise, Russian knyazes attempted to bring a better life to the citizens of their country. Vladimir began to persecute road robbers, seeing their crimes not as a private offense, but as a crime against the state. Yaroslav the Wise created the first Russian written code of law, known as Russkaya Pravda. After Yaroslav, Russkaya Pravda was re-written and amended by his sons and grandsons. Its main goal was to limit and later to abolish the blood feud. The first version of Russkaya Pravda gives the right of vengeance only to the closest relatives of the victim. Later, Yaroslav's sons introduced a new norm which prohibited the revenge. Instead, two kinds of fines appeared: vira was payed to the knyaz and golovnichestvo was payed to the family of the victim. The code also introduced fines not only for murder, but also for other crimes. All fines were measured in grivnas of silver or in kunas (furs). Murder of a member of the druzhina was fined 80 grivnas of silver, murder of a free man -- 40 grivnas, murder of a woman -- 20 grivnas. The law supported the slavery by large fines for stealing of slaves and for hiding runaway slaves.

In the late XII century, when the state was falling apart, the national awareness is being born in various parts of the society. Knyazes remembered that they are all "grandsons of one grandfather". The Kievan chronicler telling about "where the Russian land came to be from" tells not only about Kiev, but about other provinces, too. The author of "The tale of Igor's campaign" writes about the campaign of one of the knyazes, but says that the whole Russian land was sorrow for him when he was captured.

The activity of the first Varangian knyazes turned various Russian tribes into one state. This artificial union became one country when the new religion was brought from Constantinople and became an element of the identity of all Russian provinces. The political unity was destroyed by the knyazes, but the cultural ties were strong enough to keep the people together. This is, in brief, the essence of the Kievan period of the Russian history.

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