Earthly Mother, Holy Witch: Social Perceptions of Maria-Magdalena Mazepa (1687-1707)

In: Russian History
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  • 1 University of Nottingham

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Maria-Magdalena Mazepa, the natural mother of Hetman Ivan Mazepa and mother superior of an elite women’s convent in Kyiv, played a prominent role as her son’s informal political aide and confidante from the start of his hetmanship in 1687 until her death in 1707. Her forceful personality and willingness to engage with the power struggles in the Hetmanate provoked social resentment, which culminated in a formally recorded witchcraft accusation. Drawing on broader East Slavic and older Byzantine models, the article explores the charge of sorcery against Maria-Magdalena placed within the cultural and political context of the Ukrainian Hetmanate at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.

  • 2)

    Tetiana Kara-Vasylieva, Liturhiine shyttia Ukraïny XVII-XVIII st.: ikonohrafiia, typolohiia, stylistyka (Lviv: Svichado, 1996), 169-171, figs 46-47.

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  • 4)

    Bodianskii (ed.), “Istochniki malorossiiskoi istorii,” 25. In other four instances found on the transcript Zabelin is described as having uttered unspecified “insanely slanderous/ evil pronouncements” against Maria-Magdalena: ibid., 26-8.

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  • 5)

    Lara Apps and Andrew Gow, Male Witches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), 140.

  • 11)

     See V. A. Peredrienko (ed.), Likars’ki ta hospodars’ki poradnyky XVIII st. (Kyiv: Naukova dumka, 1984), 100.

  • 12)

    Catia S. Galatariotou, “Holy Women and Witches: Aspects of Byzantine Conceptions of Gender,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 9 (1985): 62-66.

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  • 14)

    Franko, “Khmel’nytchyna 1648-1649 rokiv”, 229. On Iefrosinia Kysil’s (died c. 1653) monastic career see S. Horin, Monastyri zakhidnoï Volyni: druha polovyna XV– persha polovyna XVII st. (Lviv: Misioner, 2007), 235, 237.

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  • 16)

    Dysa, Istoriia z vid’mamy, 64. Cf. M. Pilaszek, Procesy o czary w Polsce w wiekach XV-XVIII (Cracow: Universitas, 2008), 280-81.

  • 17)

    Michael Ostling, Between the Devil and the Host: Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 44.

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  • 19)

    Ostling, Between the Devil and the Host, 25, 36, 40-41, 50-51.

  • 20)

    N. Novombergskii, Koldovstvo v Moskovskoi Rusi XVII stoletiia (St Petersburg: Tip. Al’tshullera, 1906), 94 (this volume is part of Novombergskii’s work Materialy po istorii meditsiny v Rossii, III, 1); see also V. Horobets’, “‘Khochu odruzhytysia na Moskvi…’ Zhinky v politychnii biohrafii het’mana Ivana Briukhovets’koho”, Dzerkalo tyzhnia, 28 (17 July 2004), http://dt.ua/SOCIETY/hochu_odruzhitisya_na_moskvi_zhinki_v_politichniy_biografiyis_getmana_ivana_bryuhovetskogo-40474.html (accessed 15/03/2012).

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  • 21)

    Russell Zguta, “Witchcraft Trials in Seventeenth-Century Russia,” The American Historical Review, 82, no. 5 (1977): 1204-1205.

  • 22)

    Ostling, Between the Devil and the Host, 18-19.

  • 24)

     Ibid., 19. See also Franko, “Khmel’nytchyna 1648-1649 rokiv,” 232-33.

  • 25)

    Pilaszek, Procesy o czary, 51.

  • 27)

    Ostling, Between the Devil and the Host, 21.

  • 30)

    Zguta, “Witchcraft Trials in Seventeenth-Century Russia”, 1205; also see his article “Was there a Witch Craze in Muscovite Russia?” 124.

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  • 31)

    Tairova-Iakovleva, Mazepa, 195-6; S.O. Pavlenko, Otochennia het’mana Mazepy: soratnyky ta prybichnyky, 2nd ed. (Kyiv: Kyievo-Mohylians’ka Akademiia, 2009), 67.

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  • 32)

    A. Lazarevskii, “Vlastnaia getmansha,” Kievskaia starina, 1, no. 1 (1882): 213.

  • 36)

    Iaroslav Isaievych, Voluntary brotherhood: confraternities of laymen in early modern Ukraine (Edmonton, Toronto: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 2006), 58.

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  • 37)

     See Pavlenko, Otochennia het’mana Mazepy, 67.

  • 41)

    S. Pavlenko (ed.), Doba het’mana Ivana Mazepy v dokumentakh (Kyiv: Kyievo-Mohylians’ka Akademiia, 2007), 957-64; previously published in Dopolneniia k aktam istoricheskim, 12 (St Petersburg: Tipografiia V.V. Prats, 1872): 326-31.

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  • 42)

    Pavlenko (ed.), Doba het’mana Ivana Mazepy, 963.

  • 43)

    Pavlenko, Otochennia het’mana Mazepy, 255-7.

  • 51)

    Tairova-Iakovleva, Mazepa, 84.

  • 53)

    Pavlenko, Otochennia het’mana Mazepy, 121.

  • 54)

    De Madariaga, “Who was Foy de la Neuville?”, 28.

  • 55)

     See Tairova-Iakovleva, Mazepa, 78-85.

  • 56)

    Bodianskii (ed.), “Istochniki malorossiiskoi istorii”, 1, 3-4.

  • 60)

    Cited in Kostomarov, Mazepa i mazepintsy, 71.

  • 70)

    Briggs, Witches and Neighbours, 247. Also see Alan Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: a Regional and Comparative Study (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), 249.

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  • 71)

    Ostling, Between the Devil and the Host, 22.

  • 72)

    Max Gluckman, “Gossip and scandal,” Current Anthropology, 4, no. 3 (1963): 309.

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