Document Type


Date of Award



Women, Russia, History, Middle Ages, 500-1500

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alton S. Donnelly

Second Advisor

Sidney S. Harcave

Third Advisor

Sarah Elbert


The history of women is inseparable from the rest of the human experience. It is, therefore, only to be expected that their role in pre-Petrine Russia was the result of events and forces which originated in and acted upon the whole society. Between the decline of the Kievan Rus unity and the influx of western ideas and customs in the seventeenth century, the three most crucial determinants of women’s position in Russia were: changes in the organization of the Russian socio-political order, culminating in the rise of the Muscovite sovereignty; the evolution of Russian forms of Orthodox Christianity; and the emergence of serfdom as the basic production organization of the realm. These are, of course, the three most significant internal developments of the Muscovite era. Their effect upon women has been largely ignored, though they changed the lives of women as deeply and directly as they did any other facet of Russian society.

These pivotal developments did not, however, have exactly the same consequences for women as for men. Not only the direction and manner of influence, but especially the chronology of change in women's position is not identical to the usual periodization of Russian history. Hence the unconventional time span of this research.