«Slavic World» in the early Middle Ages: the search of form (Forum) (Answers to the questionnaire of «Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana») Cover Image

«Slavic World» in the early Middle Ages: the search of form (Forum) (Answers to the questionnaire of «Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana»)

Author(s): Andrej Pleterski, A. A. Gorskiy, Viktor Vladimirovich Puzanov, Petr V. Shuvalov
Subject(s): History, Middle Ages
Published by: Издательство Исторического факультета СПбГУ
Keywords: tribe; early Slavs; Slavic tribes; župa; chiefdom

Summary/Abstract: In answer to question of the appropriateness of using the term «tribe» in relation to the Slavic societies of the early Middle Ages, A. Gorskiy and A. Pleterski said that they did not use the term in this context, while V. Puzanov said that he uses the term to refer to both Slavic pre-state formations in general and those Slavic ethnic groups that based their cohesion on real or fictitious kinship. P. Shuvalov said that he prefers to use the term «tribe» rather as a literary concept, than a scientific term. According to Gorskiy, the use of the term «tribe» in reference to the early medieval Slavs is incorrect because, first, the word is not used in this sense in primary sources, and, second, the Slavs in the early Middle Ages were at the stage of chiefdoms, and not at that of tribes. A. Pleterski, while pointing out that many Slavic tribal names are only attested in late sources and mainly the result of the identification from the outside, thinks that the basic social unit of the early Slavs was župa (zhupa). According to Pleterski, župa as the basic unit of the early Slavic society was a social, economic, religious and legal entity. Puzanov points to the uncertainty of correlation of the terms «tribe» and «chiefdom» in relation to the early medieval Slavs, noting that in historiography the term chiefdom used to be used to what was known earlier «tribal principality». Meanwhile, Puzanov notes, the presence of a («tribal») leader does not automatically mean that the question is of a chiefdom. In answer to the question of mechanisms of the emergence and reproduction of tribal identities in the Slavic community, Shuvalov said that in contrast to the Germanic tribes, Slavs, apparently, had no strong traditions of aristocratic ancestral memory with its emphasis on proximity to the world of gods. According to Shuvalov, the princely power among the Slavs in what concerned the formation of their tribal identities based on the folk presentation of history as well as the memory of three to five previous generations within the real ancestral memory.

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 1 (19)
  • Page Range: 3-16
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Russian