The article examines the problem of Russian-Byzantine treaties, namely the role of the pagan gods in the execution of the terms of the contracts.
Keywords: campaigns of Russia to Byzantium, treaties, oath, gods.
The problem of the international legislation of Ancient Russia, its appearance and the development of Old Russian legislation is always in the focus of attention of researchers. In the domestic annals of interest in relation to the stated problems are first encountered in the PVL. Russian-Byzantine treaties are considered one of the most important sources of information, because, firstly, this is the beginning of the formation of international law of Kievan Rus. Secondly, their performance is evidence of the parties' interest in establishing economic and political relations between the two major powers of Europe and Asia. Naturally, each of the parties, participants in these relations should act as a guarantor of the implementation of the fixed norms of international law.
In the scientific world, there are three directions in the study of this problem: firstly, the study of the foreign policy of Russia; secondly, the formal part of the contracts, which includes the composition of the participants, the structure of the contracts, conditions; thirdly, ways of securing contracts [3, p. 36]. In this paper, a third party to the Russian-Byzantine treaties will be considered.
Contracts were primarily needed to establish trade relations between Russia and the Byzantine Empire. The main campaigns in the PVL are in 907, 944, 971. The PVL provides information about the embassy campaigns of the Rus. The composition of the participants in the campaign is determined by an article in the PVL under 907: «Ida Oleg left the Greeks, leaving Kiev, singing a lot of Varangians, and Sloven, and Chud, and Sloven, and Krivichi, and measure, and Drevlychi, and glade and north, and Vyatichi, and Croats, and dulebs, and tivertsi, even the essence of interpretation: si all be fooled from Greek Great skuf» [1, p. 16].
The agreement of 907 states that the Russian ambassadors demanded exemptions for merchants arriving in Byzantium, namely, their residence, which was carried out at the expense of Byzantium. Merchants should have lived at the Church of St. Mamoth (St. Mammoth Quarter is a suburb located a few kilometers from the northern walls of the capital). In turn, under the terms of the contract, the Greeks had to ensure security both inside the walls of the capital and outside, as well as equip everything necessary for returning home.
Foreign merchants could be in the empire only for a certain period of time — no more than three months. In turn, the Russians pledged not to rob the neighborhood, and, foreseeing the possibility of offenses, determined the system of punishment for violators.
The next substantive component of the treaties is their ratification, i.e. the process of giving effect to a document. In the PVL it is indicated that the Byzantines secured the treaty with the imperial seal and the oath on the cross. The Russians secured the agreement with an oath, which is fully explained for the pagan state. As stated in the PVL «Olga took the company, and his men, according to the Russian law, swearing with their weapons, and with Perun, their god, and Volos, the flesh of God, and confirming the world» [1, p. 17]. According to A. A. Fetisov the oath began with the Russians laying their shields, drawn swords, “hoops and other weapons” [3, p. 38] on the ground. The sword in the oath was a peculiar symbol of Perun (translated into the modern language “he who hits hard”, “smashing”) — a pagan god, the eldest son of Svarozhich, worshiped by the Eastern Slavs. Thunder and lightning are subject to him, for some time he was even considered the god of fertility or bread [3, p. 38]. At the same time, he is considered the patron saint of princes, ambassadors and squads. The weapon of Perun, i.e. its symbols are the sword, ax and thunder arrow. This deity headed the pantheon of gods created by Vladimir Svyatoslavovich.
Legends about the death of one's own sword were common in the early Scandinavian states, where various sagas circulated, in which they talked about the oath of weapons, for example, the Saga of Halvdan Black, etc. Such death was considered a punishment for those who violated the written and not written rules. In the PVL there is information that another pagan god acted as a guarantor of the fulfillment of the conditions. His name was Veles (Hairy-Hairy-Hairy-Hairy) [2, p. 35] — «bestial god», the son of Rod. He could move in three worlds and was the patron saint of the Magi. Many researchers conclude that he was associated with the animal kingdom, which follows from his name. This deity is identified with a snake that lived underground. In this regard, some scholars suggest that the Serpent-Volos is the same Serpent-Gorynych that Perun fought with, and later the epic heroes, so these two deities are often compared to each other. Veles lived underground and had a terrifying appearance: according to the legend, at first he was a monster having parts of the body from other animals, but over time he began to take on the appearance of an old man. He was designated as the god of wisdom, fertility, merchants and the epic cycle.
In the PVL article in 945, the meaning of the oath of arms is explained, which says that if the Russians break the oath, they will be cut with their swords and deprived of help from their gods, they will be punished. The wrath of the gods, wielding the forces of nature, can cause a real crisis. There will be no harvest — there will be no food, and no stocks. The decline of agriculture will lead to a violation of the entire economic system, in fact, not only the development of the state, but also of the whole society will stop.
A similar situation with the oath of the Kiev prince by the pagan gods is observed after the short campaign of Svyatoslav Igorevich to Bulgaria in 971. This suggests that the pagan gods played a huge role as guarantors in the performance of international relations by the Kiev state.
Researchers note that the Greeks also ratified the oath treaties, but it was expressed in kissing the cross and the oath of the holy church, as well as formally approved by the imperial signature. The punishment for non-compliance with the terms of the contract was the curse of the Almighty God.
Apparently, the southern campaigns of the Kiev princes could be carried out due to non-fulfillment by the opposite side of previously accepted obligations or due to a change of power in the states.
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