Law, Gender and Kin in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy

Law, Gender and Kin in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy DANIEL H. KAISER (Grinnell, IA, USA) LAW, GENDER AND KIN IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY MUSCOVY Another notable absence from late Muscovite law is the more elevated status held by women in Byzantine law. Old Roman law was notorious for the patria potestas, giving the father complete control, even of life and death, over his spouse and offspring. This was greatly modified by Justinian and his successors, but the Muscovite norms were much closer to the Ro- man than the later Byzantine. For example, the Ulozhenie provided no sanc- tions for a husband who killed his wife. "While Muscovite women could and did possess and inherit property (perhaps 5 percent of both landed and slave property owners were women ... and some women participated in commerce as well), the woman really possessed or owned such property only in the absence of a husband."' . The relation between law and society has occupied a central place in the en- tire scholarly career of Richard Hellie. Already in his 1965 dissertation, for ex- ample, Hellie argued that the 1649 Ulozhenie certified the final enserfinent of the peasantry as a concession to the military servitors whose interests the gov- ernment felt obliged to defend. Similarly, Russian History Brill

Law, Gender and Kin in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy

Russian History , Volume 34 (1-4): 16 – Jan 1, 2007

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