A History of Russian Law

From Ancient Times to the Council Code (Ulozhenie) of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich of 1649


The beginnings of Russian law are documented by the Russo-Byzantine treaties of the 10th century and the oldest Russian law, the Russkaia Pravda. The tempestuous developments of the following centuries (the incessant wars among the princes, the Mongol invasion, the rise of the Novgorod republic) all left their marks on the legal system until the princes of Muscovy succeeded in reuniting the country. This resulted in the creation of major legislative monuments, such as the Codes of Ivan the Great of 1497 and of Ivan the Terrible of 1550. After the Time of Troubles the Council Code of the second Romanov Tsar, Aleksei, of 1649 became the starting point for the comprehensive Russian codification of the 19th century.

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Biographical Note
The author headed the department of East European Law and Russian Studies of Leiden University until his retirement in 1998. Among his numerous works on Soviet and Russian law is Law in Medieval Russia (Brill, 2009).
Review Quotes
“The book under review culminates a life-long study of legal codes from the Kiev Rus' era to the 1649 Ulozhenie. This is not a monograph with an overarching argument; Feldbrugge’s goal is more descriptive and historiographical.
There is much valuable information in this book. It analyzes all the sources of secular and church law over these centuries and comprehensively covers social structures, landholding patterns, the development of towns, and judicial venues. It can be a good resource in study of the law of Kiev Rus', the era of fragmentation, and Muscovite Russia.”
- Nancy S. Kollmann, Stanford University

“…[I]mpressive, professional and profound… The book is of great value to researchers and to those who make this their first exposure to Medieval Russian law. The author’s ability to mirror the 'national spirit' of the Russians, to feel and to bring to the international readers the 'notoriously tricky' Russian language, and to depict the historical changes reflected in the law deserves admiration and is worth keeping in mind in the contemporary legal landscape and world’s intellectual climate.”
- Sergey Yu. Marochkin, University of Tyumen; Oleg Yu. Vinnichenko, University of Tyumen and Svetlana S. Racheva, University of Tyumen
Table of contents
List of Abbreviations
List of Maps

Part 1: The Middle Ages (until 1497)

1 General Introduction
 The Purpose of This Work
 The Definition of Law
 The Organization of This Work
 General History and History of Law
 Medieval Law
 An Outline of the ‘Constitutional’ History of Russia During the Era of the Independent Principalities
 State and Law During the Era of the Independent Principalities

Section 1: Sources
2 Sources
 The Concept of Sources
 The Merilo Pravednoe
 The Knigi Zakonnye
 Foreign Sources for the Prehistory of Russian Law
 Publication of Texts, Literature, Bibliography
3 The Treaties with Byzantium: The Zakon Russkii
 The Treaties with Byzantium
 The Treaty of 907
 The Treaty of 911
 The Treaty of 944
 The Treaty of 971
 The Zakon Russkii
4 The Russkaia Pravda or Russian Law
 History of the Study of the Russkaia Pravda
 The Different Versions of the Russkaia Pravda
 The Division of the Russkaia Pravda into Articles
 The Short Pravda: Introduction
 The Short Pravda: The Pravda of Iaroslav
 The Sources of Iaroslav’s Pravda
 The Pravda of Iaroslav’s Sons
 The Final Compilation of the Short Pravda
5 The Russkaia Pravda: The Expanded Pravda
 The Expanded Pravda: Introduction
 The Codicology of the Expanded Pravda
 The Composition of the Expanded Pravda
 The Relationship Between the Short Pravda and the Expanded Pravda
 The Statute of Vladimir Vsevolodovich Monomakh
 The Final Compilation of the Expanded Pravda
 Foreign Sources for the Russkaia Pravda?
 The Abridged Version of the Russkaia Pravda
6 Princely Statutes
 The Church Statute of St. Vladimir
 The Church Statute of Iaroslav the Wise
 The Statute of Vsevolod on Church Courts and People and on Trade Measures
 The Testament of Vsevolod Mstislavich (Rukopisanie)
 The Statute of Sviatoslav Ol’govich of 1137
 The Smolensk Charters of Rostislav Mstislavich and Bishop Manuil
 The Church Statute of Lev Danilovich of Galicia of 1301
 Church-State Relations in 14th and 15th Centuries Texts
7 Treaties
 Treaties: Internal Russian Treaties
 Treaties with Foreign Powers
 Selected Examples and Special Categories
 The Treaty of 1229 between Mstislav Davydovich of Smolensk and Riga and the Gothic Coast
 The Treaty between the ‘Unknown Prince’ of Smolensk and Riga and the Gothic Coast
 The 1269 Treaty between Novgorod and the Hanseatic League
 The Novgorod-Tver’ Treaties
 The Peace Treaty of 1318 between Moscow and Novgorod and Tver’
8 Town and Provincial Charters
 The Charter of Dvina Land
 The Court Charter of Pskov
 The Charter of Novgorod
 Iaroslav’s Law on Bridges
 The Charters of Belo Ozero
 The Metropolitan’s Justice
9 The Code (Sudebnik) of Ivan iii of 1497
 The Homicide Law of Vasilii ii the Blind
 The Code of Ivan iii : Introduction and Historiography
 The Numbering of the Articles of the Code
 The Contents of the Code
 General Historical Background and Character of the Code
 The Sources for the Code of 1497
 Legal Significance of the Code of 1497
10 Foreign Laws
 The Impact of Byzantine Law
 The Court Law for the People (Zakon Sudnyi liudem)
 The Skra of Novgorod
 The Iasa of Chingis-Khan and the Impact of Mongol-Tatar Rule on Russian Law
 The Legal Environment of Medieval Russian Law
 Rurikid Marriages as an Indication of Political and Cultural Contacts
11 Non-Legislative (Non-Normative) Legal Sources: Gramoty
 Sources and Historiography before 1917
 Sources and Historiography after 1917
 Classification of Documents
 Alphabetical Dictionary of Gramoty
 Documents and Collections Other Than Gramoty
Pistsóvye and razriadnye knigi
 Novgorod Birch-Bark Documents
 The Iarlyki of the Tatar Khans
Section 2: The Law
12 Setting the Stage: Territory and Tribes in Early Kievan Russia
 The Physical Stage of Early Russian History
 The Eastern Slav Tribes in the 10th Century
 Russia’s Multi-Ethnic Past in Ancient Times
 The Emergence and First Expansion of the Early Russian State
 The Dynasty of Rurik
 The Socio-Economic Nature of Kievan Russia: The Feudalism Debate
 The Viking Question
 Tribute and Inter-Tribal Relationships in Early Kievan Russia
 Territory: A Postscript
13 The Prince in Medieval Russia
 Relations between Princes: Succession and Treaties – Introductory Observations
 The Viking Origins of the House of Rurik
 The Succession History According to the Primary Chronicle – A Brief Survey
 The General Principles of Princely Succession
 The Grand Princely Dignity
 Relations between Princes: Wills and Treaties
 Princely Rule: Succession, Popular Assent, Mongol-Tatar Validation
 The Office and Function of the Prince
 The Prince’s Court and Officials in Kievan Times
14 The Prince’s Government
 The Prince’s Government
 The Expansion of Princely Administration in Later Centuries
 General Taxation
 The Prince as Judge
 The Prince as Legislator
 External Relations: Diplomacy and War
15 The Towns
 The Origin of Russian Towns
 Town Government and the Veche in Particular
 External Relations: Treaties with Princes and Foreign Powers
 The Urban Population
 The Legal Framework of the Urban Economy
16 Novgorod and Pskov
I Velikii Novgorod
II Pskov
III A Note on Viatka-Khlynov
17 Western Russia
 Historical Introduction
 The Law of the Lithuanian Principality and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
18 Rural Russia
 Land Tenure and Land Ownership
 Large-Scale Land Ownership – Feudalism?
 Princes as Landowners
 Boyars and Other Landowners
 Landowning by the Church and Monasteries
 Peasant Landowning
 The Peasant Population in Later Centuries
 Transactions Concerning Land
 Local Government
19 The Individual and the Family
 The Legal Status of the Individual
 Legal Classes
 The Individual as a Family Member
20 The Individual as a Legal Actor
21 The Church and Monasteries
 Church and State
 The Organization of the Church
 Church Jurisdiction
 Other Sources of Church Income
 Landowning by the Church
22 Courts and Justice
 Secular and Church Courts
 Procedure in the Russkaia Pravda
 Procedure in Novgorod and Pskov
 Criminal Law
 Court Fees and Related Payments

Part 2: Muscovy (until 1649)

23 Introduction
 The Law of the Principality of Muscovy
 The Reforms of Ivan iv
Section 1: Sources
24 The Code (Sudebnik) of Ivan iv of 1550
 Introduction and Historiography
 General Historical Background and Character of the Code
 The Contents of the Code of 1550
 In Conclusion
25 The Stoglav
 Legal Relevance of the Stoglav
 The Enactment of the Stoglav
 The Contents of the Stoglav
26 The Codes of 1589 and 1606–1607
 The Code of 1589: Introduction
 The Contents of the Short and the Expanded Redactions
 The Relationship between the Two Redactions and the Character and Sources of the Code of 1589
 The Composite Code of 1606–1607
27 The Statute Books of the Prikazy
 The Statute Books of the Brigandage Department
 The Statute Book of the Slavery Department
 The Statute Book of the Department for the City of Moscow
 The Statute Book of the Department of Roads
 The Statute Books of the Land Department
28 Decisions of the Land Assembly (Zemskii Sobor)
 The Resolutions of 15 January 1580 and 20 July 1584
 The Resolution of 9 March 1607
 The Resolution of 30 June 1611
29 The Council Code (Sobornoe Ulozhenie) of Aleksei Mikhailovich of 1649
 Historical Background
 Preparation and Enactment
 Overview of the Contents
 The Follow-up: Novellae or Novoukaznye stat’i
section 2: The Law
30 The Tsar
 The Title of Tsar
 Autocracy and Public Law
 The Tsar’s Court
31 The Tsar’s Government
 A Boyar Duma?
 In Conclusion
 The Land Assembly (Zemskii Sobor)
 The Administration
 Lower Officials
 The Army
32 Territory and Population
 The Growth of the Principality of Moscow
 Muscovy and Western Russia
33 Local Government
Kormlenie as the Basis of the Traditional System
 The Reforms of Ivan iv
 The Abolition of Kormlenie
34 Criminal Law and Procedure
 Criminal Law in the Codes of Ivan iii (1497) and Ivan iv (1550)
 The Guba and Land Charters
 Criminal Law in the Council Code (Sobornoe Ulozhenie) of 1649
 Criminal Law and the Church; Offences against Morals
 Criminal Procedure
35 Civil Law: Persons
 The Legal Status of the Individual: Men and Women
 Legal Classes
 The Sovereign and His Family
 Boyars and Other High Nobles
 Lesser Nobles: Boyars’ Sons and Dvoriane
 Clergy and Church People
 Townspeople in Moscow and Elsewhere
 Legal Persons
36 Civil Law: Ownership and Obligations
 Ownership of Land
37 Civil Law: Family Law and Succession
 The Family
 Relations between Spouses
 Dissolution of Marriage
 Parents and Children
 Inheritance and Succession
38 Courts and Justice; Civil Procedure
 Courts in the Period after the Sudebnik of Ivan iii of 1497
 Courts in the Council Code (Sobornoe Ulozhenie) of Tsar Aleksei of 1649
 Court Officials
 Civil Procedure
39 The Church, Monasteries, and Church Law
 Church-State Relations in Muscovy
 The Organization of the Church
 Church Legislation
 Church Jurisdiction

Appendix 1 Money and Measurements
 The Monetary System of Medieval Russia
Appendix 2 Genealogies
Glossary of Russian Terms
Index of Personal Names
Index of Geographical Names
Subject Index
All interested in legal history, history of Russia, Russian studies and comparative law.
Index Card
Collection Information