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

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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.

References
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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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