Vladimir Monomakh

Автор: Maks Ноя 20, 2020

Trading in human beings and maintaining a slave population to perform labour existed in ancient times as a kind of law of nature, that the weaker deserved to be enslaved. Though enlightened mod-em man looks with abhorrence on the practice, slavery continues to exist in our own day, such international agreements as the Geneva Convention notwithstanding.

The basis of slavery in Old Russia, as elsewhere, was warfare and debt. Those who were captured in battle were deemed appropriate victims for the slave market. Similarly, those who were unable to pay back what they had borrowed, plus interest, often found themselves sold or traded into bondage.

There were, however, even in ancient times, sufficiently enlightened souls who reasoned that slavery, though generally in narrow definition, was unjust. Solon for one, the sixth-century B.C. Athenian who framed that city-state’s democratic laws, regarded enslavement of one’s own kind as a threat to a state’s existence. Accordingly, he ruled it unlawful for an indebted Athenian to be sold into slavery for payment of debts.

Because of a similarly enlightened stance in opposition to slavery, Grand Prince Vladimir Monoma-kh has been called the “Solon of Russia” by nineteenth century and contemporary Russian historians.

Vladimir’s predecessor, Svyatopolk, earned an unsavory reputation for defending the city’s usurers, included among whom was a prosperous group of lenders of Judaic ancestry. Svyatopolk ruled that those who could not pay back their debts along with the exorbitant interest were liable to be sold into slavery. Upon Svyatopolk’s death, a four-day riot resulted in the residences of the city’s most hated Boyars and usurers being burnt to the ground.

When Vladimir assumed the crown of Kievan Rus, he annulled all his predecessor’s laws on the enslavement of debtors. The new grand prince further outlawed the practices of beating or selling debtors or preventing them from being employed.

On the basis of such benign decrees rests Vladimir Mono-makh’s reputation for showing a degree of progressiveness and humanity rare in early medieval times.

  Рубрика: Russian history 108 раз просмотрели

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