Family Domostroi

Medieval relic or the perfect recipe of living together?

Family Domostroi

The perception of family and marriage in Russia differed from modern ideas. The growing number of divorces and re-marriages in our day has led many to say that the family institution has long outlived its usefulness. In this connection it is interesting to turn to the experience of our ancestors, collected in the middle of the XVI century in a single set of rules for family life – “Domostroy”. Many of the tenets by today’s standards seem to be cruel and barbaric, but among these rules were quite sensible advice aimed at promoting a respectful attitude to the family.

K. Makovsky. A scene from the seigniorial life of the XVII century.
With domestic orders normally associated with tyranny, oppression of women and domestic lawlessness, but it is not so. Strict discipline and subordination do expected.


The dominant role in the family played by a man
In the middle Ages in Russia, the main is the traditional Christian model of marriage: the Patriarchal monogamous family, which was a micro model of society. Relationship in it was built in the image of relations in the state. Therefore, the dominant role played “the Emperor”, that is the husband. A man without a family was considered to be inferior members of society.

The author of “Domostroi” think of the priest Sylvester, though he was probably not the author, and the editor, who gathered together the long existing rules and regulations. The postulates of the “Domostroi” affect not only family life, but also life in General, is a collection of practical advice: how to farm, how to receive guests, how to care for cattle, how to cook, how to build relationships, etc. there are recipes for all occasions.

Family Domostroi – the highest value
Human life in the middle Ages was strictly regulated, to the tenets of “Domostroi” unconditionally believed and adhered to them. The Orthodox Church was allowed one person to marry more than three times. The solemn wedding ceremony was performed usually only at first marriage. Family was the value that was supposed to protect throughout life. Divorce was a rare phenomenon.

N. Pimonenko. Matchmakers
The woman in the house should be “clean and compliant”. Her main responsibilities is to raise children and keep order in the house. Children grow in severity for the faults was provided for punishment: “the Execution of her son in his youth, and he will lie down you at old age. Not ustavi to beat him though with a rod are beaten, die, and be healthier, punching him in the body and save the soul from death.” For modern man it is nonsense, but the whole medieval pedagogy was built on corporal punishment.

The main task of women was the upbringing of children

Children being raised by carrot and stick
Beat in special cases were allowed to the wife: “If the wife does not obey and has no fear, polegate whip, not only before people, but alone”. But it was impossible to beat on the head and under the heart – crippled wife can no longer bear children and keep house. Impossible to beat for any fault, and after punishment, the wife should pity and caress. The punishment might be “instructions”, instruction. However, punishment is not what cemented family life. The main message is everyone needs to do their job and try to perform their duties.

Advice concerns not only family life but also of coexistence in society was encouraged to help people “in every time of need”, “someone worse than you” – the poor, the hungry, the sick, prisoners, etc. are good deeds should not brag. You need to endure wrongs and to forgive, as the good God pleases. The basis of communication – traditional Christian values: not to steal, not to lie, not to be angry, not to envy, not to offend, not to fornicate, etc.

Kindness and obedience – the main female virtue

The dominant role in the family played by a man
Of course, many of the tenets of “Domostroy” obsolete, and traditional role in the family long ago redistributed. Domestic violence does can not be justified. But the attitude to the house as stronghold, fortress, unwavering values not only deserves attention, but also expects a revival in the modern world.

Such rules lived Russian family before revolution: the Domostroy, a lot of children, the grandfather Yes the grandmother

Translated by Yandex Translate