The Mechanisms of the Old Russian State Genesis

The Mechanisms of the Old Russian State Genesis The Mechanisms of the Old Russian State Genesis
Author: Shinakov, Evgeniy A.
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 6, Number 2 / September 2007


In the process of comparative study of different types of historical sources two groups of mechanisms of hierarchy formation and power legitimation in the Ancient Rus were defined: 1) ‘plutocratic’ (trading), genealogical, military-resistance, treating (contracting), military-integrative mechanisms; 2) military-repressing (‘ritual conflict’), legislative, military-conquering, marriage-relative, ideological, military-defensive, integrative-demographical mechanisms. Mechanisms of the first group functioned during the period of consolidation of different types of chiefdoms into ‘barbarian’ power with two-level hierarchy (the second half of the 9th century). Mechanisms of the second group appeared during the process of transformation of ‘barbarian’ power into the early state (the second half of the 10th century). The first group is connected with the struggle between the Varangians that exploited tribes and chiefdoms (‘kniazeniya’) along the ‘East Way’ and local nobility for treasury and sovereignty. Ancient Rus was created as a result of treaty between the local elite and part of the Varangians and was greatly expanded during Oleg's reign. The second group of mechanisms begins by the ‘ritual’ massacre of seceded Drevlian' chiefdom and was immediately followed by Olga's reforms. The centralizing activity of two sons of Swiatoslaw was followed by complex reforms of Vladimir I and was finalized by legislative activity of Yaroslav the Wise that finally formalized social structure and hierarchy of Old Russian early state.

Despite the insufficient precision of the correlation of the terms: social and cultural (or sociocultural)1 political anthropology2 (or its approximate equivalent – potestoral-political ethnography in the late Soviet and early post-soviet historiography) (Kubbel 1988)3 and especially the complexity of rigid differentiation of their objects of research, some concepts which were born in their environment, are indisputable.

For example, the mechanisms of the socio- and politogenesis. The set of the former ones has been recently well worked out by A. V. Korotayev formally on the example of Sabaean region (Korotayev 1997). As to the latter mechanisms, the data on them are contained in the works connected with the concrete ways, territories and stages of the politogenesis. Formerly the author tried to compile these data for the three stages of the politogenesis: formation of chiefdoms; transition from the simple chiefdoms to complex ones and their development; transition from complex chiefdoms to the early states4.

The only and incomplete attempt of accepting this scheme of stages was undertaken in respect to the old Russian state genesis (concept ‘politogenesis’ is not quite adequate to the essence of the investigated phenomenon) (Melnikova 1995). The author in his dissertation of the late 90-s and the monograph of 2002, reflecting its basic principles (Shinakov 2000а, b; 2002) adheres to the following scheme of stage-by-stage dynamics of the formation process of the old Russian statehood.

1. The stage of separate ‘chiefdoms’ and other late potestoral formations of different types and ethnoses on the territory of the future old Russian state. They are so-called ‘tribal principalities’, protocities – the states of Northeuropean type – ‘viki’, tribal military-potestoral unions under the protectorate of Khazar Khaghanate, etc. The top level of this stage is basically the middle – second half of the 9th century (before Ryurik and Oleg) – the degree of their reality or fabulosity in the given context is not the theme under the study). In the separate potestoral-political zones (regions)5 of the future old Russian part of the Eastern Europe the durability of this stage lasts out (or resumes with the means of rolling aside) up to the middle – second half of the 10th century. In our opinion6 it is connected with the crisis of the supreme authority in Rus in 40-s of the 10th century (under Igor), which induced the reanimation of the late potestoral formations led by local hierarchy in some regions.

2. The stage of the ‘complex chiefdoms’ (the pre-states of a potestoral-political stage, ‘territorial empires’, complex states, ‘barbarian kingdoms’ of the Big transitive (pre-feudal) period, ‘military democracy’ and ‘military hierarchy’, based on terminology of various domestic and foreign experts in political anthropology) goes on from the end of the 9th – up to the middle and the beginning of the second half of the 10th century (Oleg, Igor, Olga, Svyatoslav, Yaropolk). This stage finishes with Olga's reforms in one part of territories of Ancient Rus and after unifying actions of Jaropolk and Vladimir – in another one.

This stage of state genesis especially for Rus finds the form of ‘the two-level state’ (Shinakov 1993b), the device and functioning of which was in details and skillfully described by Constantine Porfirogenetus (in 30-s – the beginning of 40-s of the 10th century) It is characterized by the uniformity of the ‘top’ level authority in Rus which forms the ‘skeleton’ of the complex state, and by ethnocultural and potestoral-typological variety of low, ‘slavic’ level of authority. Constantine has it like domination of ‘Russia’ over several ‘Slavinia’, carrying ethno-tribal names. The domination is based on the military superiority of ‘all rosi’7 over each single ‘Slavinia’ and partly on the reciprocity concerning two levels of authority. ‘The tribal’ hierarchy was interested in the participation of the reception of its share from the subjects of ‘prestigious consumption’ from foreign trade and combined campaigns to Byzantia and, probably, to the East. Externally, except for special role of international trade, this system reminds to some extent earlier, but synchrostadial I Bulgarian empire of 8th – the beginning of the 9th century (before Krum's reforms).

3. The transition to the early state begins with Olga's reforms and comes to the end basically under Vladimir the Saint and under Yaroslav the Wise and his sons, concerning the relations, governed by law.

Inside this transition it is possible to mark the phases of limited in territory, but perspective Olga's reforms; Svyatoslav's ‘imperial experiment’ called to involve external resources in ‘the state construction’, but as a result distracted them from it; unifying actions of Yaropolk and Vladimir (and, probably, Oleg); Vladimir's all-embracing reforms; legal reforms of the 11th century (caused by the casual reasons and socially limited by Yaroslav the Wise, but grew universal and systematic under his sons (1072). This year (the year of compiling ‘The Brief variant of the Russian Truth’) can be considered the legal date of creation of the early state in Rus.

The further work stage consists of revealing those mechanisms which were involved in the transition from one stage to another, and also in institutionalization and legitimation of a new level or type of the organization of the authority.

For this purpose it is used the integrative and comparative analyses of the concrete groups of sources, concerning each fact or the phenomenon during old Russian state genesis, and also the attempt ‘to try on’ these or those mechanisms, revealed by synthesis, to old Russian realities from the sources.

Earlier the author offered the following types of mechanisms of power institutionalization which gave birth to creating different types of power structures of the chiefdom’s level . He called them ‘initial’ or ‘traditional’8.

1. Through personal qualities, abilities (a way to meritocracy, military democracy).

2. Through family connections (a way to aristocracy, ‘megacommunities’ of different types, the caste state and sometimes as a result – to the official-bureaucratic state).

3. Through age classes (a way to gerontocracy, ‘military government’, primitive ‘feudalism’).

4. Through sacralization of the features, actions, qualities (a way to theocracy, some kind of agricultural, ‘eastern’ protocities-states, then – to the official-bureaucratic state such as ‘eastern despotism’).

5. Through the informal corporative organizations (a way to initial hierarchy, including military, corporative-exploiting protocities-states).

6. Through accumulation of material assets, with no connection with the status (a way to ‘plutocracy’ – oligarchies, to the trading protocities-states, special (‘melanesian’) to types of chiefdoms).

7. Through family-marital ties (a way to ‘territorial empires’, hierarchically organized unions of tribes).

Later, during the transition from primitive (simple) chiefdoms to complex ones, there appear and become prevailing the external-military mechanisms. Then the mechanisms of the internal conflicts which can be solved in different ways add them, especially closer to final phase of complex chiefdoms. The most perspective mechanism is the compromise when power structures of a new level (frequently – already of the early state) were created during reforms (with no exclusion of the preliminary suppression of the loser side. And, at last, on the phase of the formation of the early states (with the preservation of the most part of traditional mechanisms) there appear the regulative-legal and ideological mechanisms. Their elements, certainly, exist earlier in the structure of the ‘sacral’ mechanisms, through the informal organizations and others but as special system of the views postulated and brought by power structures and aimed on the legitimation of power, the ideological mechanisms appear only at this stage of the state genesis. Religion, philosophy and art become the part of ideology.

But the state ideology does not always completely coincide with the religious one in the form, content, means and the purposes. There are also the direct conflicts of their carriers. The civil demagogy appears as a variant of affecting the ‘society’ by power structures or ruling hierarchy.

The external-military, mainly expansionist, mechanisms, resulted in the creation of corporatively (ethnically) exploiting (including nomadic) the two-level prestates (I Bulgarian empire before Krum's reforms, Oleg and Igor's state in Rus, the Great princedom of Lithuania of pagan times, Khazar Khaghanate), some types of poleis, and also the expansion of limits of power, belonging to trading and ‘eastern’ cities – states, ‘eastern despotisms’.

Almost exclusively military mechanisms are contaminated with the caste and feudal-hierarchical statehood.

Internally conflict, contractual-compromising, legal, ideological mechanisms are not rigidly coordinated to this or that form of statehood (though they are frequently used in the creation and the further strengthening of poleis and the official-bureaucratic states).

There is no necessity to say that in a historical and ethnological reality, taking into consideration specific features, degree of informativity and tendentiousness of the source base, various types of mechanisms are intervened, they supplement or ‘fight’ each other and frequently lead not to the same results (forms of chiefdoms, protostates, states) which were mentioned earlier.

So, long ago forgotten ‘traditional’ mechanisms seem to unexpectedly emerge on a new turn of the politogenesis, confirming the thesis ‘every new thing is a well forgotten old one’, and also ‘nothing is new under the Moon’!

The problem of combining the plurality, unity and similarity in socio- and politogenesis has been recently examined by H. J. M. Claessen. Various (but not infinite, repeated) ways and lines of initial politogenesis, which are expressed in different forms of the prestate bodies, and that is why in the mechanisms of their formation, under certain conditions result also into the same diverse, but possessing important common features, early states (Claessen 2000: 18).

The set of the mechanisms of the institutionalization and legitimation of power in all regions, ways and stages of the state genesis is quite standardized, for it depends basically on the features of human psychology, ethnic mentality, cultural and religious traditions, the level of the social development, the status and the purposes of those people who strive for power.

It once again confirms the thesis that ‘similar political structures (and we can add – the processes and mechanisms of their realization – Е. S.) have arisen in the various cultural environment and independently’ (Claessen 2000: 18).

The mechanisms of the institutionalization and legitimation of power (МILP), or state genesis, in this connection could not absolutely coincide with so-called ‘factors of social evolution, connected with the deep, cause-effecting phenomena in a social life, with the same objective tasks for the society solution at the give moment’. Not without a reason the author of the concept A. V. Ko-rotayev characterizes it like ‘sources of social evolution’ (Korotayev 1997: 5, 6), giving names to about a dozen of their types. With the quantitative coincidence of the ‘mechanisms’ and ‘factors’ only one ‘conflict of interests’ approximately coincides, but only ‘in complex and supercomplex societies’ (Korotayev 1997: 37).

It speaks about absolutely different motivation of the social development as a whole and of the separate personalities or their groups, ‘strati’, aspiring the authority over them.

Besides, the ‘choice’ of ‘the mechanism’ is determined not by the purpose, but by means, which are considered the most accessible and effective in the concrete situation.

The purpose of this article is not the revealing of the factors which were the source and initial stimulus of the old Russian state genesis and which defined social, to a less degree – political – specificity of the old Russian statehood at different stages of its development.

These factors have not received direct illumination in all the kinds of sources and attempts of revealing them proceeding from the basic, vulgarly understood Marxist doctrine (and moreover from the universal-metaphysical plan), put the Soviet historiography of Kievan Rus into a blind alley.

The purpose of article is the solution of a more private question, – what kind of mechanisms consciously or implicitly were used by hierarchy and ruling elite of potestoral-political formations of the Eastern Europe for coming to power, its strengthening and expanding the political and territorial limits. The application (for the first time – systematic) of the methods of the political (sociocultural-?) anthropology to the realities from the sources allows to compensate the objective and subjective faults of the latter, to draw more precise, though formalized, but built-in in the global sociopolitical dynamics, a picture of the old Russian state genesis. On the other hand, the application of this theory to concrete materials can check up once again the degree of its accuracy, add and verify it.

Besides the knowledge of mechanisms of the state genesis can in the reverse order help to verify also the structure of the state which was formed as a result of their actions, especially if it (as in our case) finds weak reflection in sources. Here we entirely agree with the H. J. M. Claessen's opinion, that ‘the comparable problems which have appeared at various places on earth lead to the development of comparable solutions’ (Claessen 2006: 28). It means, that if the original problems (phenomena) and the processes generated by them are similar in some regions, so and their results will be similar too. If we know them for one territory, we can transfer them to another one, where the result (in this case the form of a state system) is weakly covered by the sources, with the certain share of probability provided the obvious similarity of the initial ‘stimulus’ and the mechanisms of the state genesis.

* * *

The stage of separate chiefdoms. The very content of a stage and typology of the chiefdoms in the Eastern Europe was earlier in details reconstructed by the author. We shall dwell on the mechanisms. Two of them – ‘plutocratic’ and ‘patrimonial’ (genealogical) types are reconstructed for a phase of the peak of the chiefdoms. A source of the means for creation of the first bodies of power, judging by a combination of written, archeological, numismatic data, was the participation in international trade along ‘the Eastern way’. The substantiation of the right of power – original settling, an antiquity of a family, belonging to the ‘land’ aristocracy (‘the best specimen’), i.e. mechanisms of the ‘patrimonial’ type. The influence of external forces on the process of local politogenesis is not traced, though the annals mark, that the part of Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes is under dependence from Varangians and Khazars (PSRL Vol. 1. 1962: 19, 21), and some historians assume the existence of the protectorate of Great Moravia (Novoseltsev … 1991; Shinakov 2002: 133, 250, 367).

We should note, that there are no data in sources about the existence of hierarchy – patrimonial nobility in the southern regions. They exist in the Southwest (White Horvats) and the Center (Polyane) in the form of data, concerning the early genesis of ruling – princely-bodyguard elite. They came from the Arabian authors (Ibn Ruste, Al Masudi), and the legend included in PVL about the Polyan tribute ‘swords’ to the Khazars (PSRL. Vol. 1 1962: 17). Indirectly it testifies the external – military mechanisms, which are not directly reflected in sources (about battles with khazars (except for indirect – ‘a sword tribute’) and intertribal collisions (‘lived in peace’) there are no data). By the data of archeology ‘military democracy’ and ‘hierarchy’, which also mean the military mechanisms, could be present in the state genesis of the Southeast (‘Khazarian zone’) tribes, the Severyane most of all.

The final phase of the stage of the separate chiefdoms and the beginning of the transition to the next stage in the North of Rus is marked by the military-resistance mechanism connected with the redistribution of the incomes from the international trade, which had been monopolized by the middle of 9th century by the strange ‘Varangians’ (in annalistic terminology) – ‘Rusi’ (in the terminology of the Arabian sources).

The tribal aristocracy (hierarchy) came to power during the revolt against them, which is also recorded in the Scandinavian sagas and by the data of archeology (Jackson 1994: 73; Kirpichnikov 1988: 49). Later, after the conflict between the hierarchy of different tribal associations (chud, merya, ves, krivichi, slovene) the contractual-compromising mechanism comes into effect. It consists in the formation of the top level of authority in the created confederation with the help of the method of the invitation from abroad, not especially strong, but already possessing the experience and, the main thing, – the aura of legitimacy, ruling group (prince Ryurik with brothers, his family and bodyguard). The authenticity of Ryurik's personality and especially of his brothers – Truvor and Sineus, is rather debatable question in the literature, and has no value. The actions of ruling family of the separate parts of the protostate formations, built by the military-resistance mechanism even logically should be the same if the preservation of this consolidation of equal in rights and similar in force ‘chiefdoms’ was more important for them than personal or group ambitions.

There is a well-founded point of view, that this compromise was fixed in the written treaty where the rights and duties of both sides were stipulated (Grinev 1989: 38–42) If it is true so we deal with the fact of transformation of the contractual-compromising mechanism into the legal one. In the stadial aspect it started to operate too early, however, it is necessary to take into account the regional specificity of the Northern Rus, which was the member of ‘Baltic cultural-economical community’ (Kirpichnikov 1979: 98, 99; Kirpichnikov, Lebedev 1980: 26, 27; Lebedev 1985: 47) where the legal regulations arises during the epoch of ‘barbarity’, inside the separate chiefdoms.

As a result there formed the complex system of authority where each element did not possess it completely.

The stage of complex chiefdoms. During gradual expansion of the ‘territory of power’ with the means of adding new chiefdoms (tribal princedoms, the protocities-states, military-potestoral unions) to already developed along the international trading ways (‘Eastern’, later – ‘From Varyags to the Greek’ or Dnieper, Bavarian-Khazarian) ‘skeleton’ of the ‘barbarian’ statehood, there used the old trading-plutocratic mechanism and the new – military-expansionist one. The ‘old’ mechanism operated in two ways. First, the main source of riches of the new ruling elite and partly the old hierarchy was the international trade. Both Varangian-Rus elite, and the tribal hierarchy of the North aspired to put under the control the whole length of trading ways. Second, the local nobility put up with the loss of a part of power and tribute for the benefit of elite of the top level, having the share in incomes from international trade and contribution in case of external predatory wars which could not be independently conducted.

In the group of ‘military’ mechanisms there arises a new, integrative-concentrating on value type of the mechanism – ‘predatory wars’.

The function of the first mechanism has generated varyag expeditions down the Dnieper, supported by the land-trading hierarchy of the ‘northern confederation’, aimed to secure the markets of Byzantine. As a result – the capture of Kiev by Askold and Dir, and then – by legendary Oleg the Prophetic (882) and their military – trading activity in the Byzantine direction.

For the further expansion of the ‘spheres of power’ Rusi applied the military-expansionist mechanism. This expansion (consolidation of the southern chiefdoms and princedoms around ‘Russia’ with the center in Kiev was necessary for increasing the export base of Rusi in trade and military contingents – in case of war. The local prince and hierarchy ‘Slavinias’ put up with the supreme sovereignty of Rusi until the latter were ‘lucky’. The military way was effective to subdue isolated opponents (moreover those who had already got used to pay tribute to the khazars or Great Moravia), but the few Rusi could not to keep them using only this military-forced method. The events of 941–944 resulted in the murdering of prince Igor and partly – in the destruction of the old (the level of the complex chiefdoms, potestoral-political system. This system breaks up as a result of the internal conflict between different levels of power – ‘russian’ and ‘slavic’, generated by external military failures.

The very revolt of one of ‘Slavinias’ (Drevlane), headed by local princes and aristocracy (ruling elite and hierarchy) was suppressed by the princess-regent Olga with the use of ‘barbarian’ methods: of a military suppression and military-frightening mechanisms, which acquired in the annals the legendary formof the ‘ritualized conflict’9. However, the new mechanisms were required for the positive actions and the reconstruction of the whole system of power. Provided the state leader was rather passive, there could be a return of the statehood on a level of separate chiefdoms or, what is less probable, replacement of a ruling family and elite as the head of the of preserved but a bit transformed and reduced (in territory) ‘barbarian’ pre-state formation. In case of using the proper mechanisms, their resolute and careful application, probably, not only the crisis was overcome, but also after some time there could be a transition to new, higher level of the development of the statehood.

The stage of the early state – a phase of transition and formation. During this stage many new and traditional mechanisms were applied rather consciously or under the pressure of events.

The mechanism of consciously flowing systematic reforms for the first time in a history of Russian state genesis was applied at the end of 40-s of the 10th century by the princess-regent Olga. The regional potestoral-political traditions, specificity, the status and a way of their annexation to the old Russian state were taken into account during their conducting. They included the Ryurikovichi's ‘domain’ – Middle Dnieper territory; northern lands which had long contractual relations having with a ruling dynasty and also conquered after the mutiny lands of Drevlyane and that is why deprived of civil rights.

The reforms were carried out, by the annals, in three stages. The first one took place during the Olga's reign and was concentrated in time (some years) and limited in spheres and territories of application. The second stage, under Vladimir, was more prolonged in time (80–90-s of the 10th century) and all-embracing in territorial aspect, concerning almost all sides of life of the society. The third one, under Yaroslav and his sons, was discreet in time, rather episodic and touched only the legal sphere and the system of enthronement and the status of prince.

Olga managed to conduct the most cardinal changes in again conquered after the revolt the lands of Drevlyane. All old bodies of local power – from prince to the town self-government, were liquidated. Instead of tribal princedom, i.e. ethnopotestoral body there created a pure territorial unit – ‘land’ under the control of prince from the house of Ryurikovichi – the Kievan deputy.

Local mononorms or common law10 were replaced by the grand-ducal ‘charters’ – decrees for concrete cases, i.e. common legal system with guarantees for the population was liquidated. The unsystematic tribute (the contribution from times of Igor) was replaced by the constant fixed ‘uroki’ which were gathered not during cancelled gafol, but were driven to the princely ‘stani’ under protection of the Kievan garrisons. As a result there appeared many attributes of the statehood – replacement of the tribal division by the territorial one, occurrence of the tax system, and the apparatus of compulsion. The relations of reciprocity, which existed in the chiefdom (in Drevlyane's princedom between the ruling elite, hierarchy and other society) were actually or ideologically replaced by the domination-submission relations.

Reforms in the North were more limited and had rather privately legal nature. First, the North was completely loyal to Kiev and personally to Olga during the crisis so there was no need to strengthen positions of the government here.

On the other hand, there was no legal or peaceful opportunity to change position for the benefit of princely authority since the relations between local hierarchy and prince had traditional – contractual character. As the strong points of Ryurikovichi's personal authority and riches there allocated the lands and settlements with the special status – pogosti – where inhabitants did not pay a tribute (state tax), but quitrent – the rent directly for the benefit of the princely personality.

The private possessions and settlements of princes – villages – were created in the domain, in the close proximity to Kiev.

The Olga's reforms were subjectively directed to the creation of monopoly of the supreme power only for the Ryurikovichi, and were objectively the first step to creation of the early state in Rus.

The chronicles directly or are indirectly mentioned only several reforms from numerous Vladimir the Saint's transformations: military, political, rather limited legal and only one (religious – ideological) – is described rather in details. It is no wonder because of the hagiographical character of the description of the activity of Vladimir, and also with authorship of the Russian annals as they were created exclusively in the church environment.

The military reform had two stages that was connected with the tasks facing the state. In the beginning it was the conquering of the tribes, princedoms, cities, which disappeared or were not earlier subordinated to Kiev, later – the defense against a massive impact of nomads – Pechenegi.

In the first case a rather small separation was necessary in order to cope with the tribal home guards and not numerous bodyguards, and then to make small garrisons of points under control – ‘gradi’. They were provided (by earlier example of Great Moravia and Czechia) due to the surrounding population what was profitable from the economic point of view. The army should consist of the professionals who were not connected by origin with the local population. Ideal for this role were the mercenaries – varyags and the bodyguard – ‘rus’, consisted of people who lost their traditional (tribal) social and ethnic connections.

In the second case it was required to create a big army that had to struggle for patriotic reasons for the defensive wars gave no plunder. The part of an army could be introduced by not so well trained (but with professionals in the head) garrisons of boundary fortresses, the other part – by professional, mobile, surpassing Pechenegi in quality cavalry. These both parts initially were heterogeneous in the ethnic and social nature, but during the joint military activities they were integrated into monolithic organization – ‘big state bodyguard’, though and divided in ranks, but possessing corporative consciousness and feeling of ‘elitism’, superiority over the rest of the population, and later – realization of their exclusive right to advise to the prince and to participate in the state governing. Military mechanisms have created ready machinery of state of different levels. The military mechanism created the complete state machinery of different levels. In the connection with war ‘the big bodyguard’ replaced tribal troops and small tribal and personal bodyguards, and also ‘all Rosi’ – military-powerful elite of the country. Varangians-mercenaries kept to be used, but only in case of large internal and external conflicts.

The political reform touched the system of the organization of the supreme authority and government. The power over all lands and key cities was transferred only to sons of grand duke and all members of the house of Ryurikovichi, and only at their shortage – to their vassals from the structure of the ‘senior bodyguard’ – ‘the best specimen’, called ‘bolyare’ after the Bulgarian term. This system of the organization of the higher authority has received in the literature the name of ‘patrimonial sovereignty of the Ryurikovichi over Rus’. The nearest analogies of such a system are Khazar Khaghanate, Poland, Scandinavia.

Vladimir did not carry out the universal legal reforms, confining himself to the sphere of the church law. However, one reform – temporary introduction of a death penalty – took place during his reign. The religious-ideological motivation of this step is very interesting because it implies the delivery of the sword of justice from God to the governor, giving the latter the right over the lives of ‘malicious’ citizens in interests of the ‘kind’ ones. From the point of view of assistance to the process of the state genesis this reform by a method of intimidation helped to liquidate inevitable collateral consequences very quickly which were the outlay from the swift breaking of tribal social and ethnopotestoral relations, generating ‘a lot of robbers’ (Shinakov 2003).

During carrying out of the given reform there used the results of early religious one (with the support of the orthodox priests). We shall stop only on its value in the context of the state genesis for there is a great deal of the literature concerning it.

Firstly, the integrative one. Secondly, the strengthening of the position of the dynasty inside the country. Thirdly, strengthening of the foreign policy positions and prestige of the new state as a whole, and of the ruling family.

More obviously the integrative purpose of religious reform can be seen in the description of its pagan part – pagan idols of different tribes were simply delivered to Kiev, as though taken hostages and violently subordinated to the God of Rusi – Perun. Christianization solved the problem even more cardinally, i.e. tribal gods were simply abolished. On the other hand, the acceptance of the equally alien religion to all tribes helped to avoid psychological difficulty – natural unwillingness to submit to the god of the neighbors, equal in rank to their own one.

From the point of view of increasing the prestige of the authority not only the religious ideology of the country or even ceremonialism were important, but also the process of its acceptance – practically from the hands of the head of the world – Roman basileus – accompanied with the establishment with the family ties with his dynasty (for Vladimir it was more important than the very fact of christening). Vladimir's practicality is important too – for he knew, that for Christian states any contracts with pagans were not considered obligatory.

The church organization could be used as one of the elements of machinery of state, and the religion, the religious literature and art could become a part of the ideological mechanism of legitimation of power.

Implicitly the conducting of the territorial-administrative, family-marital, monetary-financial reforms under Vladimir with the big degree of reliability is based on the context of annals, diachronic comparative analysis of a situation before and after his reign, the data of archeology, numismatics, emblematics, epigraphy.

Territorial-administrative reform. If up to Vladimir there were independent or semi-independent ethnopotestoral bodies of different types and sizes, so that in the 11th century there already existed the unified division of Rus into the lands, volosti, pogosti, communities (so called “mir” and “ves”)- pure administrative districts of different ranges. They were ruled by the princes from the house of the Ryurikovichi and their deputies – vassals, elective ‘startsi gradski’(elders of the town) and heads.

The family-marital reform is confirmed by the fact that in the first half of Vladimir's reign there was still polygamy and in the end of it – monogamy where, at least, the Church and princely administration could supervise it.

The monetary-financial reform consisted of a complete cancellation of gafol, and its replacement by stage-by-stage gathering of a tribute (pogosti – volosti – lands – Kiev) with the help of special detachments such as ‘tax police’. The orientation of Russian monetary-weight system changed from the Muslim East where silver mines exhausted, to Byzantine. The first Russian coins with princely and Christian symbols were minted on a sample of Byzantine milliarisi, what also increased the state prestige.

Under Yaroslav the Wise the precise system of enthronement, called ‘lestvitsa’ was at last established. The throne was transferred from the brother to the brother then the turn passed to the next generation of brothers and so on.

The Legal reforms began even during civil wars of 1016–1019 and proceeded with breaks down to disintegration of the Old Russian state in 30-s of the 12th century.

Naturally, as the mechanism of the state genesis, they served as the means of consolidating of the early state and increasing the authority of power, and directly as the protection of economic interests of the ruling elite, and also (though later) – of the land hierarchy.

Military mechanisms of a phase of early statehood formation are divided into military-unifying, military-defensive, military-expansionist, conflicts with a demographic orientation, internal conflicts, military interference in the affairs of neighboring countries, conflicts of other type.

The military-unifying mechanisms cover the short period (975–985, 993) under Yaropolk and the beginning of Vladimir the Saint's reign and had the expansion of territorial, demographic and financial-economic base of the central power for an object and objectively had the integrative nature.

The military-defensive mechanism covers the 90-s of the 10th century – the middle of Vladimir the Saint's reign, and also 1018, 1036, 1060–1061, 1068. The last (except for 1068) years slightly influenced the process of state genesis, and the defense from Pechenegi became the first nation-wide event which played a main part in the consolidation of the just territorially created early state in the 90-s of 10th century. It served as the ideological justification of many ‘unpopular’ activities of ruling elite and helped its reconciliation with the local military hierarchy which lost its power by means of including it in the structure of ‘big state druzhina(bodyguard)’11.

The military-expansionist mechanisms (on the contrast with ‘internal’-unifying ones) did not play an essential part in the state genesis without depending on their losing or winning. It is necessary to note only ‘the imperial experiment’ of Svyatoslav, who tried to create the state of the same form (two-level), but of other scale12.

The conflicts of a demographic orientation were specifically old Russian phenomenon for as against the Western Europe, in its East there was need of population and not of land. There were conflicts which, probably, had the conscious purpose of resettlement of the whole groups of the population to Rus as it, probably, took place in 1058 with Galindi, moved to the central region of Rus after the Yaroslavichi's campaign. The defensive war with Pechenegi in 1036, and the offensive one against Torki in 1055 had the side demographic effect – the creation of special groups of population – frontier guards-federats (allied tribes). The settlement of the Polish prisoners on the boundary river Ros was of the same value.

The internal conflicts had the following positive value for consolidation of statehood: during their course the number of applicants for the supreme authority was reduced, and sometimes there remained only one autocrator, as Yaroslav the Wise in 1019 or Vladimir the Saint in 980. Successfully resolved military conflict to a less degree (for there almost were not conflicts of a separative orientation) stopped the centrifugal tendencies. During the suppression of national uprisings (1068–1069, 1071) there was a temporary consolidation of the ruling elite. Some of the revolts (1015, 1068-1069, 1071) influenced the legislative activity (creation of ‘the Yaroslav's Law’ in 1016–1019, Brief edition of ‘The Russian Law’ in 1072).

Interference in the internal affairs of the adjacent countries. The participation in the suppression of military elite mutinies and separative movements in the Byzantine empire in 987–988 could push the governors of Byzantine to authorize a marriage of princess Anna and Vladimir that increased the prestige of the latter both inside the country and abroad. The assistance to Kazimir the Restorer in the suppression of the national uprising and the separative movements in 1041–1047 in Poland strengthened positions of Rus on its western borders and essentially increased its international prestige.

Conflicts of other type. Till now there has been no explanation of the reasons for overdue ‘viking campaign’ to Byzantine in 1043, which ended with a failure. Probably, the purpose was of military-frightening nature – to achieve the greater autonomy of Russian Church, to provide more profitable conditions of trade or, for example, to receive recognition of the rights of Yaroslav on a title of caesar (which he had in the end of his life by the epigrahic data).

Among other mechanisms the most closely contaminated with military ones there appeared integrative-demographic, meritocratic and partly – ideological mechanisms.

The first ones received the detailed description in one of the last articles of the author (Shinakov, in printing). It was the practice of resettlement of the prisoners and the whole suppressed tribes on the boundary (by the Byzantine-Bulgarian example) and the empty lands that connected them with military mechanisms. Besides solving the problem of settling soldiers in the boundary fortresses, Vladimir simultaneously undermined the main source of separatism among the subordinated tribes and princedoms. In the structure of their garrisons the significant part was played by the military-political elite of these tribes – ‘best specimen’, who violently were come off from their ethnosocial environment and resettled to the opposite borders of the state. Former nomads (Khazars, Pechenegi, Torki) helped to form Russian cavalry in the structure of the special boundary ‘settled’ armies (‘their own pagans’), or directly including in the structure of ‘the big bodyguard’ (e.g. Khazars – according to the archeological data).

Survivals (or reminiscences) of meritocratic mechanisms are connected with the sources and the way of acquisition of the ‘the big bodyguard’. To tell the truth, their use finds its confirmation not in the main sources, but in the Russian bylinas and written monuments of the neighbouring, synchrostadial and similar in type of state genesis, countries – Poland in particular (Gall the Anonym 1994: 343). The abilities to war were the way of increasing the social status and including into the new, early state ruling bodyguard top that helped it to win tribal elite and hierarchy.

The ideological mechanisms started to be applied already in the separate chiefdoms, completely coinciding with the pagan religion, and its conductors were the priests – ‘volchvi’(wizards). However the period of acting of these mechanisms found its reflection only in the chronicle of the Christian period. In PVL there compiled three types of ideological legitimation of power: resettling-patrimonial, which reflected the action of ‘patrimonial’ (genealogic) mechanisms (a legend about Kiy and his brothers); bodyguardian – ‘Varangian legend’, connected with the action of military – unifying and contractual-compromising mechanisms, the Christian ideology. The latter one is shown in the given aspect the least precisely: the idea of primordiality of authority and its reception from the God is implicitly traced. The same Christian origin, probably in the way of direct adoption from Byzantine – belongs to the idea about a duty of the soldiers to protect Faith and the fatherland, not without a reason the first name of the new, ethnically heterogeneous people became ‘Christians’. Patriotism has its origin exactly in this form for Rusi were one of the peoples of the state, and their god was pagan Perun. Except for the military and integrative purposes, Christian-ideological mechanisms were used for the increasing of the prestige of Russia in foreign policy, national self-consciousness, authority of the princely power. The ideological substantiation was created and for the concrete, private purposes: for example, introduction of a capital punishment for the first time, creation of the notion that the attempt on a life and even health of prince from the House of Ryurikovichi was a deadly sin, for which the guilty will be inevitably punished by God. The latter is especially essential, for not only in the common law, but even in the codified law – ‘The Russian Law’ – articles about protection of a life, health and honour of prince were absent.

The legal mechanisms partly coincide with the mechanisms of reforms, codifying and legitimating their results. But more often reforms did not find reflection in the written law, remaining, probably, at a level of oral princely decisions and decrees. On the other hand, also the very right carries not preventive, but eventual, precedental character and fixes the results of operative reaction on the concrete incidents, including connected with the protection of life, health, honour and property of ruling elite (bodyguard, state and privately owning princely administration) and hierarchy (boyars – land owners).

The family-marital mechanisms were applied by Vladimir during his activity in parallel with the reformatory and military ones. Their basic sphere – integration, concept of internal and external prestige, legitimation of power, and also expansion of territorial limits of the state, strengthening its foreign policy positions (Shinakov 2000d). We shall add that Vladimir could try to make family-marital mechanisms the alternative to the patrimonial ones, but judging by the system of enthronement, introduced under Yaroslav the Wise, this attempt failed.

The comparative analysis of mechanisms of the concrete forms of statehood shows, that at the stages of complex chiefdoms and early states (for earlier stages there are no typology selected by the author and enough informative sources) in Russia of the 9th – the middle of the 11th century as a whole or as separate elements there existed the following forms:

1. Corporative-exploiting form; 2. Two-level form; 3. Official-bureaucratic of moderate (Byzantine-Bulgarian [Shinakov 2001]) model; 4. Forms of trading and agricultural (‘eastern’) city-state.

The given conclusion does not contradict with earlier made on the basis of empirical analysis ones about ‘two-levelness’ of the barbarian state (Shinakov 1993a, b), and with some estimations of the character of the old Russian statehood as a whole, claiming universalism.

The following theories: the theory of the ‘state’ or ‘city’ feudalism (the founder – B. A. Rybakov, the present supporter – M. B. Sverdlov), by definition the most similar to ‘the eastern despotism’, that is – with official-bureaucratic state; the theory of the city-states basically of the ‘commercial and industrial’ type and in the second turn city-states – communities of the ‘veche’ type, for the first time offered by V. O. Klyuchevsky (Klyuchevsky 1987: 137–150, 161–171), during last decades were shared in the pure state only by foreign scientists (Soloviev 1979; Lind 1984). Some historians conveyed this idea to the point of irrationality, postulating the absence of the actual statehood in Rus which represented ‘Varangian trade enterprise’, the analogue of the East-Indian company, where separate princedoms were ‘the commercial enterprises for gaining the profit’ (Pipes 1993: 48). The analyzed action of mechanisms, including trading-plutocratic, shows that they were objectively one of the important, and during the some moments – determinative points of the state genesis, though they could subjectively pursue mainly economic aims. Domestic scientists (Froyanov, Dvornichenko 1986, 1988; Majorov 2001) emphasize the potestaral -administrative aspect in the formation of the city-states in Rus, which is close to the states-communities (poleis).

The elements of the official-bureaucratic statehood (contaminated with such a system of ruling as ‘the eastern despotism’ and with such a social basis as ‘the Asian way of manufacture’) are traced in two theories: of ‘the state feudalism’ and ‘the “druzhina” (bodyguard) state’. The features of the second one awe as follows: phenomenon of ‘the power-property’, rigid division into societies on the basis of a role principle, also taxes and other kinds of duties of citizens in relation to the state machinery. The latter one in contrast to the classical and ‘the eastern despotism’ consists not of officials, but coincides with the military bodyguard top, over which the Supreme governor (in contrast to the same despotism) almost does not rise and sacralize. Thus, ‘the “druzhina” (bodyguard) state’ represents symbiosis of official-bureaucratic, corporative-exploiting, and in perspective – feudal-hierarchical statehood. A. A. Gorsky, the supporter of the theory of ‘the state feudalism’, who for the first time lifted a question about the bodyguard role in the political (and not just military) system of Ancient Rus, which was ‘early feudal in nature’ (1984), considers it the main tool and source of the further feudalization of the latter (Gorsky 1989: 87). The bodyguard is the corporatively organized class of feudals, so-called ‘the collective feudal’. In the stage-stadial aspect of the theory of politogenesis by Claessen-Skalnik it means the full coincidence with a stage of the early state. E. A. Melnikova (1995: 22) and N. F. Kotlyar (1995: 46) have practically the same opinion about the stadial limits of ‘the bodyguard state’. Agreeing with them in stadial aspect, we cannot do it with the chronological one: they begin the early state in the end of the 9th century, we consider the end of the 10th century. By the way we consider it rather a short-term episode of the old Russian state genesis, coinciding with the transition from complex chiefdoms to the early state, and the phase (and the tool) of its formation (Shinakov 2002: 31–32, 277–287).

In potestoral-political ethnography this term (‘the bodyguard state’), old Russian by origin, is used for a designation of one of the forms of complex chiefdoms (along with ‘the complex state’, ‘the protocity-state’, etc.) (Kubbel 1988: 52, 147).

In medievism and slavism ‘the bodyguard state’ is considered one of forms of early feudal statehood of the Central Europe (Тrzesztik 1987; Zemlicska, Marsina 1991), i.e. Great Moravia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and also, in our opinion – Denmark (Shinakov 2002: 277). Incidentally, for this region we consider the bodyguard state not the type of early feudalism, but the form of the early state of a phase of its formation, the tool and even the special transitive form from complex chiefdoms (Shinakov 1998b: 131–132).

The late elements of the official-bureaucratic statehood have even more amplified at the construction of the early Christian statehood under the influence of the Byzantine-Bulgarian model and partial inclusion of Rus into the structure of ‘Byzantine community of the states’ (Obolensky 1971, 1982, 2000).

For the macroregion of Eastern, Central, Northern and Southeast Europe the certain forms and elements of statehood (and latent behind them ones, resulting in them with the help of mechanisms) are contaminated with the certain types of civilization or models of development (Shinakov 2002: 290–291).

The corporative-exploiting and two-level statehood are connected with the nomadic (steppe) civilization, introduced by Khazar Khaghanate and I Bulgarian empire (before Krum's reforms). It was already spoken about official-bureaucratic and ‘bodyguard’ forms, the city-states are by all means connected with the Baltic cultural-economic community. Also it is not necessary to try ‘to choose’ one of them for the whole Rus, as supporters of absolutization of this or that model of development tried to do. In its different regions and at different stages of the state genesis in a different degree there traced the elements of all earlier enumerated forms of statehood.

The correctness of earlier made initially typological positions for Rus has sustained the checking by a method of contamination of the state genesis mechanisms with the forms of statehood.

The stadial distribution of the mechanisms into the stages of the state genesis is traced less precisely. The same mechanisms, but in a different degree, operated at the stages of the separate and complex chiefdoms and also at the formation of the early state. Actually, one of the earliest stadial mechanisms – ‘patrimonial’ (genealogic) ones – keep operating in the remaining type even at a stage of early state. They are the preservation of ‘blood feud’ in the law of Ancient Rus till 1072, and also so-called ‘patrimonial sovereignty of the Ryurikovichi’ (Nazarenko 1986; Schavelev 2000). On the other hand, the elements of the ‘prelegal’ and ideological mechanisms, usually stadially later, are already traced at the transition from the simple chiefdoms to the complex ones. As a result, sharing R. Carneiro's point of view about preservation of the importance of the stadial approach as a whole (Carneiro 2000: 94), at least in the contamination with mechanisms, we consider the regional-typological aspect more important, than the stadial one for studying the process of old Russian state genesis.

In summary we need to note, that in Claessen's formula ‘similar problems have similar solutions’ (Claessen 2006: 28), the average part – the mechanism, means of the solution of the problems is missed.

The old Russian example basically confirms the last part of the formula – about the contamination of the mechanisms of the certain type with concrete forms of statehood, created with their help.


1 Recently about the correlation of the given terms in their historical development: Skalník 2002; Carneiro 2003 or, from earlier editions: Naroll, R., Cohen, R. (eds.) 1970.

2 About the understanding of the term of the history of political anthropology there is no uniform point of view. Compare: Political anthropology 1966; Winkler 1970; Service and Cohen 1978; Claessen 1981; Кochakova 1986. Introduction; Kubbel 1988. Introduction; Godiner 1991; Кradin 2001, 2004.

3 Leningrad scientist V. M. Misyugin called the similar in essence scientific discipline – ethnosocial history (Misyugin 1984).

4 Earlier, before the acquaintance with the positions of political anthropology, the author offered other periodization of the process of the old Russian state genesis. Stage 1 – a conglomerate of the ‘barbarian’ states and non-states under the military – trading domination of ‘Rusi’ and Novgorod (the 9th – middle of the 10th centuries); Stage 2 – the complete victory of the top level of statehood (‘Rusi’ with the only Ryurikovichi's right for power. The state form of exploitation (second half of the 10th – middle of the 12th centuries); Stage 3 – formation of the true statehood with the elements of class functions (Shinakov 1993a: 178–179).

5 Perhaps, A. P. Novoseltsev was the first to mention fundamentally the aspect of regional-political division of the Eastern Europe (Novoseltsev 1991). The author touched this question, and then has developed his own scheme of regional-typological aspect of the genesis of the old Russian statehood (Shinakov 1993a: 179; 1995; 1998a; 1999; 2000a, c; 2002 : 106–137). Up to the end of the 10th century the lines of the development in these 5–6 regions were typologically various, but all led to the early state.

6 There also exist other opinions about the importance of the crisis of Olga's reforms and degree of political-territorial recourse of statehood (Gorsky 2004)

7 Constantine mentions that ‘all Rosi’ go in the gafol (Constantine Porfirogenetus 1991: 50, 51) that already testifies their rather small number. For earlier time Gardizi tells about 100–200 of Rusi, making an annual winter detour of the Slavic lands (Novoseltsev 1965: 400).

8 The list and examples of the action of ‘initial’ or ‘traditional’ mechanisms of institutionalization and legitimation of power are given in Chapter 1 of the author's thesis for a doctor's degree (Shinakov 2000а), and his typology of forms of the states (partly – complex chiefdoms) is given in the author's abstract of the thesis (Shinakov 2000b: 12) in more detailed variant, with explanations and examples (Shinakov 2003, 2005). In the contrast to the earlier variants of typology of the states (Oberg 1955, for example) our typology to the greater extent takes into account the stadial aspect and has more universal character.

9 Some historians consider the ritual surrounding of the conflict the main thing, taking into account the peculiarities of the pagan religious-mystical outlook (Alexandrov 1995).

10 About the correlation of the traditional mononorm and already early state pre-law you may see: Shinakov, Ponomareva 2005.

11 The more detailed structure of such a bodyguard, where the regiment of ‘princes’ (probably, former tribes) was included was described for the neighboring Poland (Gall the Anonym 1994: 335).

12 ‘Imperial’ stage is sometimes considered obligatory at the certain lines of the state genesis, and namely for Slavic one, building up its last stage (Korolyuk 1972: 23).


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