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Serkina V. N.

The Role of Women among the Slavs in Early Paganism

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Pages: 85-92

Starting with XVIII century scholars became interested in status, rights and role of a woman among the Slavs in the period of the Middle Ages. Unfortunately till nowadays retrospective study model of a woman's role prevails.
The object of the study is creation of a woman's role reconstruction that would take into account all the available sources (written, ethnographic and archaeological), and at the same time would be least of all concerned with the retrospective model.
The results of data source research make it clear that prevailing view about the position ofa woman in the early medieval society ofthe Slavs is mostly faulty.The affirmation referring to Slavic place of a woman is not objective. Otherwise, medieval authors give us a large-scale picture of woman's activity. A woman could occupy the same niche as a man did, in other words be "sorcerer", "warrior" and "worker" (according to Dump's triad).
In the process of work much information from the sources about the role of women has been discovered. Firstly, it was revealed that woman's status evolution coincide with the alternation of military and magical periods in early medieval history ofthe Slavs.
Secondly, the study displayed that figure of a"wicked wife" (often blamed by Christian authors) remained from times of heathenism. Such a female behavior was cultivated in the course of centuries and couldn't disappear immediately with the advent of new moral norms.
Thirdly, there was set up a hypothesis and found arguments in its favour of existence of female military "fratern ities" among the Slavs. So far this fact is established on the basis of information of Cosmas Pragensis only for Czechs. But occasionally encountered mentioningss about women-warriors allow us to suspect that the other Slavic people also had such fraternities.
Fourthly, there was offered fundamentally new interpretation ofthe episode about"Duleb women'torment" from PovestiVremennyh Let. On the analogy found in a Bulgarian chronicle the conclusion about symbolic and sacral context of the event was drawn.
The study achieved that during the heathenism in early Middle Ages Slavic women enjoyed great independence and sovereignty.
Sure we can't forget about biological peculiarities and destination of a woman that in fact are the only borders of her abilities. The main task in every woman's life was and will be birth and upbringing of children.
This attempt of reconstruction allowed us to understand that on the whole women's authority and social status played the same part as men's did. Single distinction consisted the clear-cut division of spheres of influence into both sexes. Men play the key role in some lines, women do it in the others.


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