Rominskyi Ye. V.

The scientific-practical Law Journal
“Almanac of Law” Volume 14 (2023), 314- 320 p.

DOI: 10.33663/2524-017X-2023-14-314-320

Rominskyi Ye. V. Local rule-making in Ancient Rus’.

The subject of this study is the ways and methods of regulating legal relations at the local level in medieval Ukraine. The main attention is paid to the state formations of the East Slavic legal-cultural and political space of the 11th–14th centuries. 

The legal reality of Ancient Rus’ was characterized by limited centralized legal regulation. In contrast to the Middle Ages of Western Europe, rulers in Ancient Rus’ did very little to create laws. As a result of this policy, a significant part of legal relations had to be settled at the local level. The unique social structure of Ancient Rus’, which did not know self-governing urban communities, did not know self-governing craft guilds, etc., also contributed to this.

The complex structure of the society of Ancient Rus’, its characteristic features and basic elements is revealed. Family and pseudo-family corporate structures served as the basis of society. These structures included certain families, clans, large and small families, as well as numerous «people of the house», that is, people who were in various types of legal dependence. Attention is drawn to how these corporations, as rule-making subjects, regulated relations within themselves and among themselves. The contractual nature of pseudo-family corporate structures, whose counterpart in Western Europe is «conjuratio», is revealed. 

Ancient Rus’ was characterized by the lack of legal formalization of the division of society into estates. At the same time, a significant number of types of forms of early feudal and ministerial dependence, as well as slavery, are known. There is no record of the existence of proper laws, or of the regulation of such relations of dependence through tradition. Thus, dependency relations in all their forms were mostly to be regulated by local law acts, in particular by law-making treaties. And the more complex the form of dependence was, the more complex was the legal act regulating it.

A separate subject of research is church institutions and monasteries, which formed separate corporate structures with their own regulatory system, which combined both downward normative legal regulation and local rulemaking, which could come into conflict with such centralized legal regulation. 

Attention is also paid to terminological problems and their solution at the modern stage. It is necessary both to update the existing scientific terminology and to be cautious about the terminology of the past. The peculiarities of the use of the word «custom» (zwychay) in the medieval society of Ancient Rus’. Examples from church literature illustrate how this word was used precisely in a legal sense, which is quite different from the modern legal understanding of legal custom. 

Key words: Medieval Ukraine, East Slavic state formations, Ancient Rus’, Medieval Law, Ancient Rus’ Law, law-making treaty, Source of Law, Legal history.


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