The Practical Importance of Genealogy in Early Modern Russia

The Practical Importance of Genealogy in Early Modern Russia DANIEL H. KAISER (Grinnell, IA, USA) THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF GENEALOGY IN EARLY MODERN RUSSIA Genealogy certainly played an important part in early modem Russian his- tory. Elites composed elaborate genealogies with which to document their claims to social status and depended upon them to secure appointments and status rank in Muscovite society (although they were not above forging gene- alogies for the same reasons).' Similarly, donors to church institutions in- scribed their descent networks in books of remembrance according to which clerical prayers would remember entire clause Among the lower social orders of Muscovy, however, the role of genealogy is less clear. Because the state had less interest in inscribing onto paper the ancestors of peasants and towns- folk - their genealogies were not important to state service - fewer records with which to document their genealogies survive. For example, the occa- sional peasant's written testament might survive, and the state's periodic at- tempts at inventorying its population meant that on those occasions officials recorded the names of adult tax-paying males.3 But only rarely does the ex- tant documentation permit one to reconstruct several generations of a single peasant family.4 The names of ordinary men seem not http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Russian History Brill

The Practical Importance of Genealogy in Early Modern Russia

Russian History, Volume 33 (2-4): 455 – Jan 1, 2006

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2006 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0094-288X
eISSN
1876-3316
D.O.I.
10.1163/187633106X00267
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

DANIEL H. KAISER (Grinnell, IA, USA) THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF GENEALOGY IN EARLY MODERN RUSSIA Genealogy certainly played an important part in early modem Russian his- tory. Elites composed elaborate genealogies with which to document their claims to social status and depended upon them to secure appointments and status rank in Muscovite society (although they were not above forging gene- alogies for the same reasons).' Similarly, donors to church institutions in- scribed their descent networks in books of remembrance according to which clerical prayers would remember entire clause Among the lower social orders of Muscovy, however, the role of genealogy is less clear. Because the state had less interest in inscribing onto paper the ancestors of peasants and towns- folk - their genealogies were not important to state service - fewer records with which to document their genealogies survive. For example, the occa- sional peasant's written testament might survive, and the state's periodic at- tempts at inventorying its population meant that on those occasions officials recorded the names of adult tax-paying males.3 But only rarely does the ex- tant documentation permit one to reconstruct several generations of a single peasant family.4 The names of ordinary men seem not

Journal

Russian HistoryBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2006

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