On the nature of the authority of the Kievan (Grand) Prince Cover Image

A kijevi (nagy) fejedelmi hatalom jellegéről
On the nature of the authority of the Kievan (Grand) Prince

Author(s): Márta Font
Subject(s): History
Published by: AETAS Könyv- és Lapkiadó Egyesület

Summary/Abstract: Emerging from the elite of the tribes and kinships, the prince was authorized to make decisions in military, judicial and spiritual cases. His privileged position, which was due to his aristocratic birth, did not in any way mean monarchic powers in itself, let alone that he was by definition the owner of estates as professed by most historians in the Soviet era. We regard the agreement at Lyubech in 1097 as the beginning of land-ownership or at least the manifestation of the adherence to a territory. Besides the revenues from spoils and the tributes by subjugated tribes, the first signs of the landownership of princes are detectable by the 12th century, as for instance in 1136, when Prince Rostislav Mstislavich granted two villages to the bishopric of Smolensk at its foundation. First among the princes was the grand prince holding Kiev, whose position rested on his senior status within the dynasty, which he had to have accepted by the other princes and the Kievan veche. From the middle of the 12th century the senior status meant merely declared/recognized rather than real seniority. It would seem significant that coronation was absent from among the legitimizing factors of the authority of the grand prince. What we have instead was the practice of “setting on the throne”, and this element would apparently retain its secular nature. Thus the spiritual confirmation, deriving authority Dei gratia , is missing. The formulation of the description of enthronement (“sede na stol ottsa svoyego i deda svoyego”, i.e. “he sat on his father’s and grandfather’s throne”) merely shows the legitimacy of the authority grounded on a familiar basis. The few charters (ustav ) that have survived from the Kievan period begin with the formula “I, the prince...” (Se yaz knyaz ...), which is followed by a reference to the Holy Trinity, proof of the Christianity of the prince. In the cases of smaller princes, legitimation was achieved either by authorization by the grand prince or by the participation (invitation, election) of the locals (veche).

  • Issue Year: 1999
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 19-28
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: Hungarian