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

in Russian History
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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-VasylievaLiturhiine shyttia Ukraïny XVII-XVIII st.: ikonohrafiia typolohiia stylistyka (Lviv: Svichado1996) 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 GowMale Witches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester: Manchester University Press2003) 140.

  • 11)

     See V. A. Peredrienko (ed.)Likars’ki ta hospodars’ki poradnyky XVIII st. (Kyiv: Naukova dumka1984) 100.

  • 12)

    Catia S. Galatariotou“Holy Women and Witches: Aspects of Byzantine Conceptions of Gender,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies9 (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)

    DysaIstoriia z vid’mamy64. Cf. M. Pilaszek Procesy o czary w Polsce w wiekach XV-XVIII (Cracow: Universitas 2008) 280-81.

  • 17)

    Michael OstlingBetween the Devil and the Host: Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press2011) 44.

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  • 19)

    OstlingBetween the Devil and the Host25 36 40-41 50-51.

  • 20)

    N. NovombergskiiKoldovstvo v Moskovskoi Rusi XVII stoletiia (St Petersburg: Tip. Al’tshullera1906) 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) (accessed 15/03/2012).

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  • 21)

    Russell Zguta“Witchcraft Trials in Seventeenth-Century Russia,” The American Historical Review82 no. 5 (1977): 1204-1205.

  • 22)

    OstlingBetween the Devil and the Host18-19.

  • 24)

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

  • 25)

    PilaszekProcesy o czary51.

  • 27)

    OstlingBetween the Devil and the Host21.

  • 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-IakovlevaMazepa195-6; 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 starina1 no. 1 (1882): 213.

  • 36)

    Iaroslav IsaievychVoluntary brotherhood: confraternities of laymen in early modern Ukraine (Edmonton, Toronto: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies2006) 58.

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  • 37)

     See PavlenkoOtochennia het’mana Mazepy67.

  • 41)

    S. Pavlenko (ed.)Doba het’mana Ivana Mazepy v dokumentakh (Kyiv: Kyievo-Mohylians’ka Akademiia2007) 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 Mazepy963.

  • 43)

    PavlenkoOtochennia het’mana Mazepy255-7.

  • 51)


  • 53)

    PavlenkoOtochennia het’mana Mazepy121.

  • 54)

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

  • 55)

     See Tairova-IakovlevaMazepa78-85.

  • 56)

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

  • 60)

    Cited in KostomarovMazepa i mazepintsy71.

  • 70)

    BriggsWitches and Neighbours247. 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)

    OstlingBetween the Devil and the Host22.

  • 72)

    Max Gluckman“Gossip and scandal,” Current Anthropology4 no. 3 (1963): 309.

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    Manuscript copies of sermons on the “good” and “evil” women (16th-18th centuries), Vernads’kyi National Library of Ukraine, Kyiv.

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