Prince Jaroslav’s Charter on the Ecclesiastical Court

I have been thinking about reading an article on Jaroslav the Wise’s (983-1054) laws which established the independence of the ecclesiastical courts in Russia, written in the mid-11th century. Before reading the article, however, I thought I’d read the laws themselves. It took me a while to track down a copy of the laws online, and then I found that I was unable to locate a translation into English. Even finding a translation into modern Russian was difficult, as they’re rare, and there are various versions of the law, so even the one translation I found didn’t line up with the medieval text I had found. So, I decided to practice my medieval Russian and put together this translation.

Saint Jaroslav the Wise, holding a miniature church and a copy of his laws

Prince Jaroslav’s Charter on the Ecclesiastical Court

[Translation by John Beebe, known in the Society for Creative Anachronism as Master Ivan Matfeevich Rezansky, OL.]

The medieval Russian text was found online here: http://museumreforms.ru/load-document/nojs/13620

This page itself cites as its source the following book:
Российское законодательство Х-ХХ веков. Т. 1. М., 1984. С. 139-140
Rossijskoe zakonodatel’stvo X-XX vekov. Vol. 1, Moscow, 1984. pp. 139-140.

[Translator’s notes: I’ve done my best to convey both the meaning and style from the original. Comments in square brackets and footnotes labeled “jeb” are my own. This document may contain specialized vocabulary related to embroidery, archeology, Eastern Orthodoxy, or Russian history; see this vocabulary list for assistance with some of these terms. This translation was done for my own personal education, and is provided here as a free resource for members of the Society for Creative Anachronism who may be interested in this topic but are unable to read Russian. I receive no compensation or income for this work. If you like this translation, please take a look at other translations I have made available on my blog.]

Medieval Russian TextEnglish TranslationNotes
1. А се аз, князь великыи Ярослав, сын Володимеров, по данию отца своего сгадал есмь с митрополитом киевским и всея Руси Иларионом, сложихом греческыи номоканон; еже не подобаеть сих тяж судити князю, ни бояром его, ни судиям его, дал есмь митрополиту и епископом: роспусты по всем городом, 10-ю неделю мыта к церкви и к митрополиту, а людем его не даяти мыта нигде; осминечье дал есми.1. Here I, Grand Prince Jaroslav, son of Vladimir, having reviewed the Greek Nomocanon with Hilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev and of all Rus', on behalf of my father, (and having seen) that it is not appropriate to judge the Prince or the Boyars by these conventions, here have given to the Metropolitan and to the Bishops: the right to judge on divorce in all cities, 1/10th of the fee for the transportation of goods to be given to the Metropolitan and the church, but his people are not to be charged for the transport of goods anywhere; and a 1/8 duty to be paid when trading grain.Jaroslav the Wise (c. 983-986 - 1054) - Prince of Rostov and Novgorod and (later) Grand Prince of Kiev during the heyday of Kievan Rus'.

Metropolitan Hilarion was the first head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and ruled from 1051-1055.
2. Аще кто умчить девку или насилить, аще боярская дочи будеть, за сором ей 5 гривен злата, а митрополиту 5 гривен золота; аще будеть менших бояр, гривна золота ей, а митрополиту гривна золота; а добрых людеи будеть, за сором рубль, а митрополиту рубль; на умыцех по 60 митрополиту, а князь их казнить.2. If someone should rape or kidnap a girl, then if she is the daughter of a boyar, then for her shame he shall pay 5 golden grivnas, and 5 golden grivnas to the Metropolitan; if she belong to a lesser boyar, 1 golden grivna, and 1 golden grivna to the Metropolitan; if she be from a wealthy family, then for her shame he shall pay 1 ruble, and a ruble to the bishop; and those involved in the abduction shall pay 60 grivna-kunas to the Metropolitan; and the prince shall execute this penalty.A grivna was the main monetary denomination of Kievan Rus', typically a silver ingot weighing approx 165g (in Kiev) or 204 g (Novgorod); a golden grivna was worth 12.5 times more than a silver grivna. A ruble was a monetary unit worth anywhere from 0.25 to 1 grivna. Grivna-kunas were worth about 1/4 of a hyrvnia each.
3. Аще кто пошибаеть боярскую дочерь или боярскую жену, за сором еи 5 гривен золота, а митрополиту 5 гривен золота; а меньших бояр — гривна золота, а митрополиту — гривна золота; нарочитых людеи — два рубля, а митрополиту два рубля; простыи чади — 12 гривен кун, а митрополиту 12 гривен, а князь казнитель.3. If someone shall violate a boyar's wife or daughter, then for her shame 5 gold grivnas, and 5 gold grivnas to the bishop; if she belong to a lesser boyar, then 1 gold grivna and 1 gold grivna to the metropolitan; if she be of wealthy townspeople, then 2 rubles and 2 rubles to the metropolitan; and if she be of common folk, then 12 grivna-kunas, and 12 to the metropolitan; the prince shall execute this penalty.
4. Аще же пустить боярин жену великых бояр, за сором ей 300 гривен, а митрополиту 5 гривен золота, а менших бояр гривна золота, а митрополиту гривна золота; а нарочитых людии 2 рубля, а митрополиту 2 рубля; простои чади 12 гривен, а митрополиту 12 гривен, а князь казнить.4. If a boyar shall leave his wife where she is without fault, then she shall be given 300 grivnas for her dishonor, and 5 golden grivnas to the bishop; if they be nobles, then 3 rubles and 3 rubles to the bishop; if they be common folk, then 5 grivnas and 15 grivnas to the bishop. The prince shall execute this sentence.
5. Аще же девка блядеть или дитяти добудеть у отца, у матери или вдовою, обличивше, пояти ю в дом церковныи.5. If a girl living in the home of her mother and father gives birth to a child, then having been publicly exposed, she shall be sent to a church house.Guilty women were often sent to a nunnery for penance, typically for a sentence of 3 years.
6. Тако же и женка без своего мужа или при мужи дитяти добудеть, да погубить, или в свиньи ввержеть, или утопить, обличивши, пояти (и) в дом церковныи, а чим ю паки род окупить.6. Likewise, if a woman gives birth without her husband or before her marriage, or if she aborts the child, or if she throws the child to the pigs, or if she drowns the child, having been denounced, she shall be sent to the church house, until her relatives shall pay for her release.
7. Аже девка засядеть великих бояр, митрополиту 5 гривен золота, а менших бояр — гривна золота, а нарочитых людии — 12 гривен, а простои чади рубль.7. If parents refuse to marry off their daughter, then if they be boyars, they shall pay the Metropolitan 5 golden grivnas; if they be lesser boyars, then 1 golden grivna; and if they be common folk, then 12 grivna. The prince shall execute this penalty.
8. Аже муж от жены блядеть, митрополиту нет кун, князь казнити.8. If a husband cheats upon his wife, then there shall be no payment to the Metropolitan. The prince shall judge his case.
9. Аже муж оженится иною женою, а с старою не роспустится, митрополиту вина, молодую поняти в дом церковны(и), а с старою жити.9. If a husband shall marry a new wife without having gotten a divorce from the previous wife, then the Metropolitan shall judge the husband; the new wife shall be sent to the church house, and he must live with his original wife. The prince shall execute this penalty.
10. Аже поидеть жена от своего мужа за иныи муж или иметь блясти от мужа, ту жену поняти в дом церковныи, а новоженя в продажи митрополиту.10. If a wife shall leave her husband or even start to lie with another man, then she shall be sent to the church house, and the man shall be fined by the Metropolitan.
11. Аще будеть жене лихыи недуг, или слепа, или долгая болезнь, про то еа не пустити.11. If the wife shall be severely ill, or blind, or shall have an incurable disease, then (the husband) shall not be allowed to leave her.
12. Тако же и жене нелзе пустити мужа.12. Likewise, a wife shall not be allowed to leave her husband.
13. Аще кум с кумою блуд створить, митрополиту 12 гривен, а опитемии указание от бога.13. If a godfather enters into a relationship with a godmother, they shall pay the Metropolitan 12 grivnas, and they shall do penance to God.
14. Аще кто зажжеть гумно, или двор, или иное что, митрополиту 40 гривен, а опитемию подоимуть, а князь казнить.14. If anyone should commit arson on a barn, or a manor, or any other thing, the Metropolitan shall be due 40 grivnas, and they shall pay restitution; the prince shall execute this penalty.This statue refers to arson of church property.
15. Аще кто с сестрою блуд створить, митрополиту 40 гривен, а во опитемии указано по закону.15. If anyone should enter into a relationship with his sister, then they shall pay the Metropolitan 40 grivnas, and they shall be punished according to the law.
16. Аще ближний род поимется, митрополиту 40 гривен, а их разлучити, а опитемию приимуть.16. If any close relations should enter into a relationship, then they shall pay the Metropolitan 40 grivnas, and they shall be separated, and penance shall be taken.
17. Аще кто иметь две жены водити, митрополиту 20 гривен, а которая подлегла, тую пояти в дом церковныи, а первую жену держати по закону. Иметь ли лихо ею держати, казнью казнити.17. If any man marries two wives, then he shall pay the Metropolitan 20 hrynvia, and the second wife shall be sent to the church house, and he shall keep the first wife as per the law. And he shall be punished for this mistreatment of his wife.
18. Аще муж роспустится с женою по своей воли, а будеть ли венчальная, и дадять митрополиту 12 гривен, будеть ли невенчальная, митрополиту 6 гривен.18. If a husband chooses to leave his wife by his own will, and if they have been wedded by the church, then he shall pay the Metropolitan 12 grivnas; and if they not be wedded by the church, then he shall pay 6 grivnas. This punishment shall be executed by the prince.In the days of early Christianity, not all unions were carried out through the Christian church. Here the church is granted a penalty even in the case of traditional forms of marriage.
19. Аще жидовин или бесерменин будеть с рускою, на иноязычницех митрополиту 50 гривен, а рускую поняти в дом церковныи.19. If a Jew or Muslim should lie with a Russian woman, the foreigner shall pay the Metropolitan a fine of 50 grivnas, and the woman shall be sent to the church house.
20. Аще кто блудить с черницею, митрополиту 40 гривен, а во опитемию вложити.20. If any should fornicate with a nun, they shall owe the Metropolitan 40 grivnas, and shall be subject to penance.
21. Аще ли кто с животиною блуд створить, митрополиту 12 гривен, а во опитемии и в казни.21. If any should fornicate with an animal, they shall owe the Metropolitan 12 grivnas, and will be subject to penance and punishment.
22. Аще свекор с снохою блудить, митрополиту 40 гривен, а опитемию приимуть по закону.22. If a father-in-law should lie with his daughter-in-law, then he shall owe the Metropolitan 40 grivnas, and he shall be subject to penance according to the law.
23. Аще кто з двема сестрама в блуд владеть, митрополиту 12 гривен.23. If any should lie with two sisters, they shall owe the Metropolitan 12 grivnas.
24. Аще кто с падчерицею блудить, митрополиту 12 гривен.24. If any man should lie with his stepdaughter, he shall owe the Metropolitan 12 grivnas.
25. Аще деверь с ятровию впадеть, митрополиту 12 гривен.25. If any man should lie with his brother's wife, he shall owe the Metropolitan 12 grivnas.
26. Аще кто с мачехою в блуд впадеть, митрополиту 12 гривен.26. If any man should fornicate with his stepmother, he shall pay the Metropolitan 12 grivnas.
27. Аще два брата с единою женою, митрополиту 30 гривен, а женку поняти в дом церковныи.27. If two brothers should be married to the same wife, they shall pay the Metropolitan 30 grivnas, and the wife shall be sent to the church house.
28. Аще отец с дочерию впадеть в блуд, митрополиту 40 гривен, а опитемию приимуть по закону.28. If a man should fornicate with his daughter, he shall pay the Metropolitan 40 grivnas, and he shall do penance according to the law.
29. Аще девка не въсхощеть замуж, то отец и мати силою дадять. А что девка учинить над собою, то отец и мати митрополиту в вине.29. If a girl would not be married, then her mother and father shall give her by force. If the girl should commit suicide, then the mother and father shall be responsible to the Metropolitan.
30. Аще кто зоветь чюжую жену блядию, а будеть боярьская жена великых бояр, за сором 5 гривен золота, а митрополиту 5 гривен золота, а князь казнить; а будеть меньших бояр — 3 гривны золота, а митрополиту рубль; оже будеть городскых людей — 3 гривны золота, а митрополиту рубль; селенце — 60 резан, а митрополиту 3 гривны.30. If anyone should denigrate the name of a another's wife, if she be the wife of a greater boyar, they shall pay 5 golden grivnas, and 5 golden grivnas to the Metropolitan, and the prince shall execute this punishment; if she be wife of a letter boyar, then 3 golden grivna, and 1 ruble to the Metropolitan; if she be of townsfolk, 3 golden grivnas, and 1 ruble to the Metropolitan; and if they be commoners, 60 rezan, and 3 grivnas to the Metropolitan.A rezan was 1/750 of a golden grivna or 1/50 of a silver grivna.
31. Аще кто пострижеть кому голову или бороду, митрополиту 12 гривен, а князь казнить.31. If any man should shave the head or beard of another, then he shall pay the Metropolitan 12 grivnas, and the prince shall execute this judgement.
32. Аще муж иметь красти конопле или лен и всякое жито, митрополиту 12 гривен. Тако же и женка.32. If a man should steal hemp or flax or any kind of grain, he shall owe the Metropolitan 12 grivnas. So too for a woman.The latter refers to a woman who might steal from her husband.
33. Аще муж крадеть белыа порты, или портища, или полотны, и митрополиту 3 гривны, и тако же и женка.33. If a man should steal any white clothes, or canvases, or other cloth [from the church], they shall pay the Metropolitan 3 grivnas, and likewise for a woman.
34. Аще кто иметь красти сватебное и сгородное — все митрополиту.34. If any should steal any items prepared for a wedding or engagement, they shall be subject to the Metropolitan's court.
35. Про девку сыр краявши, за сором ей 3 гривны, а что потеряно, тое заплатити, а митрополиту 6 гривен, а князь казнить.35. If any man should abandon his betrothed, he shall pay 3 grivnas for her dishonor, and he shall repay all costs, and he shall pay the Metropolitan 6 grivnas; the prince shall execute this judgement.
36. Аще жена мужа крадеть и обличити ю, митрополиту 3 гривны, а муж казнить ю, и про то не разлучити.36. If a wife has stolen from her husband and he has denounced her, she shall owe the Metropolitan 3 grivnas, and the husband shall punish her, but they shall not be separated.In other words, this is not a sufficient reason for divorce.
37. Аще кто клеть крадеть, тако же творять.37. If a wife steals from her husband's barn, the punishment shall be the same.
38. Аще жена будеть чародеица, наузница, или волхва, или зелейница, муж, доличив, казнить ю, а не лишиться.38. If a wife is a sorceress, a maker of amulets, a prophet, or a maker of poisons, the husband is obligated to punish her, but he shall not leave her.nauznitsa - a maker of amulets
volkhva - a prophet
zelejnitsa - a maker of poisons or magic (including medicines)
39. Аще мужа два бьетася женьскы, любо одереть, любо укусить, митрополиту 12 гривен.39. If two men should fight like women, clawing and biting, they shall pay the Metropolitan a fine of 12 grivnas.
40. Аще жена бьеть мужа, митрополиту 3 гривны.40. If a woman should beat her husband, she shall pay the Metropolitan 3 grivnas.
41. И жене две бьется, митрополиту 6 гривен на виноватой.41. If a woman beats herself twice, she shall pay the Metropolitan 6 grivnas as punishment.
42. Аще который муж бьеть чюжюю жену, за сором ей по закону, а митрополиту 6 гривен.42. If any man beats another's wife, for her dishonor he shall pay according to the law, but to the Metropolitan he shall also pay 6 grivnas.
43. Аще ли сын биеть отца или матерь, да казнять его волостельскою казнию, а митрополиту в дом церковный такий отрок.43. If a son should beat his father or mother, then punish him according to the will of the law, as well as that of the Metropolitan in the church house.That is, both the secular and ecclesiastical courts shall judge the son.
44. Иже чернець или черница впадеть в блуд, тех судити митрополиту.44. If a monk or a nun should engage in fornication, then they shall be judged by the Metropolitan.
45. Тако же или поп, или попадиа, или проскурница, а впадуть в блуд, тех судити митрополиту опроче миру, а вь что их осудить, волен.45. Likewise, if a priest or priestess or one who bakes bread for the service should fall into fornication, the Metropolitan may judge them without secular oversight, and punish them as he sees fit.
46. Аще поп, или чернец, или черница упиеться без времени, митрополиту в вине46. If a priest or monk or a nun drinks excessively, the Metropolitan may punish them.
47. Аще кто что поганое сьясть по своей воли, или кобылину, или медведину, или ино что отреченое, митрополиту в вине и в казни.47. If any servant of the church should willingly eat either horse meat, or bear meat, or any other forbidden substance, then the Metropolitan may punish them as he sees fit.
48. Иже поп дети крестить в чюжем уезде иного попа, раз пси нижа или при болезни, а что створить крешеньское не во своем уезде, митрополиту в вине.48. If a priest should hold baptisms in the parish not his own, excepting in times of extreme need or of illness, and not perform the baptisms in his own parish, then the Metropolitan may judge him.
48. С некрещеным, ни иноязычником, или от нашего языка будеть с некрещеным, ведая ясть и пиеть, митрополиту в вине.49. Those who eat or drink with those who are unbaptized, or who speak another language, or were not baptized in our language, may be judged by the Metropolitan.
50. Аще кто с отлученым ясть и пиеть, да будеть сам отлучен.50. Any who eats or drinks with one who has been excommunicated, shall himself also be excommunicated.
51. Аще кто с бесерменкою или с жидовкою блуд створить, а не лишиться — церкви отлучиться и христьян, а митрополиту 12 гривен.51. Any who fornicates with a Jew or Muslim and refuses to terminate the relationship shall be excommunicated from the church, and shall pay the Metropolitan a fine of 12 grivnas.
52. Аще чернец или черница (рос)стрижються, митрополиту 40.52. If any monk or nun should give up their monastic title, they shall owe the Metropolitan 40 grivnas.
53. А сими винами разлучити мужа с женою.
1). А се первая вина. Услышить жена от иных людей, что думати на царя или на князя, а мужу своему не скажеть, а опосли обличиться — розлучити.
2). А се вторая вина, оже муж застанеть свою жену с любодеем или учинить на ню послухы и исправу, разлучити.
3). А се 3-я вина, аще подумаеть жена на своего мужа или зелием, или инеми людьми, или иметь что ведати мужа еа хотять убити, а мужу своему не скажеть, а опосле обьявиться, и разлучити их.
4). А се 4-я вина, аще без мужня слова иметь с чюжими людьми ходити, или пити, или ясти, или опроче мужа своего спати, потом обьявиться, разлучити их.
5). А се 5-я вина, оже иметь опроче мужа ходити по игрищам, или в дни, или в нощи, а не послушати иметь, розлучити их.
6). А се 6-я вина, оже жена на мужа наведеть тати, велить покрасти, или сама покрадеть, или товар, или церковь покрадши, инем подаеть, про то разлучити.
53. For these sins, separate the husband from his wife:
1) This is the first sin: if the wife should hear of a conspiracy against the prince or princess, and does not inform her husband, and she becomes caught up in the conspiracy, then they shall be separated.
2) This is the second sin: if a husband should catch his wife fornicating with another, or if this adultery is confirmed by a witness, then they shall be separated.
3) This is the third sin: If a woman tries to poison her husband, or attempts to kill him with the help of others, or if she learns that others wish to kill her husband and she does not inform him, and this later comes to light, then they shall be separated.
4) This is the fourth sin: if a wife talks with or eats or drinks with others outside her household, or spends the night away from the house, without her husband's permission, then this shall be announced and they shall be separated.
5) This is the fifth sin: if the husband has forbidden his wife to attend games, either at day or at night, and she does not listen, then separate them.
6) This is the sixth sin: if a wife should lead thieves to her husband, or should herself steal [from him], or should steal either goods or from the church, then they shall be separated.
54. А что ся дееть в монастырьскых делех, в церковных, в самех монастырех, да не вступаеться князь, ни волостель, безатщина приидеть к волостелю митрополичю.54. In the affairs of the monastery and of the church, and in the monasteries themselves, let not the prince, nor local officials, nor any escheat properties impinge upon the rights of the Metropolitan.
55. Аще кто устав мой и уставление мое порушить, или сынове мои, или внуци мои, или правнуци мои, или от рода моего кто, или от рода боярьскаго бояр моих, а вступягь в суд митрополич, что есмь дал митрополиту церковныи суды, епискупом, по правилом святых отец, судивше, казнити по закону.55. Any who violates my statute and ordinance, be they my sons, or my grandsons, or my great-grandsons, or any of my line, or from the royal line of my boyars, and interfere with the cases belonging to the Metropolitan, which I have given to the Metropolitan, bishops, and church in all cities according to the rules of the holy fathers, shall be judged and punished according to the law.
56. А хто иметь судити, станеть сь мною на страшнем суде пред богом, и да будеть не нем клятва святых отец 300 и 18, иже в Никии и всех святых. Аминь.56. And let those who would judge me stand before the terrible judgement of God, and let him be cursed by the 318 holy fathers of Nicaea, and by all of the saints. Amen.This line refers to the attendees of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325.

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