Pravda Ros'kaia


Translated by Daniel H. Kaiser


1. If a man kills a man, then a brother may avenge a brother, or a son [may avenge] his father, or a father [his] son, or a brother's son or sister's son [may avenge the death of their uncle]; if there be no one to avenge [the man] then [the offender] is to pay 40 grivnas[1] for the corpse [lit., for the head]; if [the dead man] be a [Kievan] Rus' man, junior member of the prince's retinue, merchant, bailiff, member of the prince's personal guard, or if [the dead man] be a freedman under the prince's protection or if he be a [Novgorodian?] Slav, then [the killer] is to pay 40 grivnas for his [murder].

2. If someone be beaten so that he bears bruises and is bloody, then he need seek no eyewitness [to confirm his complaint]; if he bears no sign [of the fight], then [let] an eyewitness come forward; if the [complainant] is unable [to produce a witness], then that is the end of the matter; if [the victim] is unable to avenge himself, then he is to take for the offense three grivnas, and also payment for the physician.

3. If someone strikes someone with a cudgel, or a rod, or palm of the hand, or cup, or horn or the back of the hand, then [he is to pay] twelve grivnas; if they do not catch him [to return the blow], then he is to pay, and that is the end of the matter.

4. If someone strikes [a man] with a sword, but does not unsheath it, or [if someone strikes a man] with the hilt [of a sword], then [he is to pay the victim] twelve grivnas for the offense.

5. If [someone] strikes [a man's] arm, and the arm falls off or withers, then [the guilty party is to pay] 40 grivnas.

6. If [someone is struck in the leg but] the leg remains whole, and then [the victim] begins to limp, then [let the victim's] children humble [the offender].

7. If someone cuts off a finger, then [he is to pay the victim] three grivnas for the offense.

8. And for a mustache, twelve grivnas; for a beard twelve grivnas.

9. If someone unsheaths a sword, but does not strike [anyone], then he pays one grivna.

10. If a man either shoves [another] man away from himself or pulls him toward himself, [then he is to pay the victim] three grivnas, if [the victim] presents two eyewitnesses; if the man [the victim] is a Viking or [some other] foreign resident, then let him take an oath [to prove his claim].

11. If a slave is hidden either with a Viking or with another foreign resident, and they do not bring [the slave] forward within three days [after the slave's owners announce their loss], and [the slave's owners] learn [the slave's whereabouts], then on the third day [the slave's owners are] to take back their slave, and [receive] three grivnas for the offense.

12. If someone rides on someone else's horse, not having asked him [the owner] for permission, then [he] is to provide [the owner] three grivnas.

13. If someone takes another's horse, or weapon, or clothes and [the owner] recognizes [his property] in his own community, then he is to take back his own [property], and [receive] three grivnas for the offense.

14. If someone recognizes [his property], he is not to take it back, and ought not say to him [who possesses his property], "This [property] is mine"; instead he ought to say, "Come to a confrontment [to disclose] where you obtained [the property]"; if he [who is asked to appear] does not come, then [he is to provide] a guarantor within five days.

15. If somewhere someone seeks from another person the balance [of money owed him], but that person begins to resist, then he is to appear at an investigation before twelve men; and if he wrongfully did not give [the money] back, then he is [to return] the money [to its rightful owner], and [pay] three grivnas for the offense.

16. If someone, having recognized his own [stolen] slave, wishes to take him back, then [the man who acquired the stolen slave] is to lead him to another [man], from whom he purchased [the slave], and that man leads him to another, even to the third [party from whom the slave was acquired]; then say to the third [party], "Give me your own slave [in exchange for the stolen slave], and you seek your own property [i.e., his loss] in the presence of an eyewitness [with the help of the stolen slave]."

17. If a slave strikes a free man, and [then] flees to [his lord's] house, and [his] lord does not give him up [for punishment], then the lord takes his slave, and pays for him twelve grivnas; and if after that somewhere they find him [the slave], then the man [whom the slave struck] may beat him.

18. And if someone breaks a lance, or shield, or destroys clothes, and wishes to keep [the damaged property] for himself, then [the owner] is to take payment for it; and if he has broken it, and if he will return it, then [the one who broke it] is to pay [the owner] money, as much as [the owner] gave for it.


The Pravda established for the Rus' land, when Iziaslav [1054-78], Vsevolod [1076-93], Sviatoslav [1073-76], Kosniachko Pereneg [the Pecheneg?], Mikyfor [Nikifor] the Kievan, and Chiudin Mikula met together.

19. If they kill a steward as an offense, then the killers must pay for him 80 grivnas, and [no other] people [of the community] are responsible; and [for killing] the prince's collector of fines [they are also to pay] 80 grivnas.

20. And if they kill a steward in an assault, or they [the residents of a community] do not seek the murderer, then [the community] in which the corpse lies must pay the bloodwite.

21. And if they kill the steward by the storeroom [while they are engaged in theft], or [while stealing] horses or cattle, or [if they kill the steward while committing] cattle theft, then kill [them] like a dog. And the same regulation obtains for [the homicide] of an overseer.

22. And for [the homicide] of the prince's overseer [pay] 80 grivnas.

23. And for the senior stablemaster [who is murdered] while [he is] with the herds [pay] 80 grivnas, as Iziaslav [1054-78] established when the residents of Dorogobuzh killed his stablemaster.

24. And [for the homicide of] the prince's field supervisor and [for the homicide of] the plowland supervisor [pay] twelve grivnas.

25. And [for the homicide of] the prince's contract laborer pay five grivnas.

26. And [for the homicide of] a peasant and [for the homicide of] a male slave [pay] five grivnas [each].

27. And [for the homicide of] a slave wet-nurse or male tutor [pay] twelve [grivnas].

28. And for [killing] the prince's horse, if it is branded [the offender is to] pay three grivnas, and for a peasant's [horse he pays] two grivnas, for a mare 60 rezanas, for an ox one grivna, for a cow 40 rezanas, for a three-year-old [cow] 15 kunas, for a two-year-old [cow] one-half grivna, for a calf five rezanas, for a lamb one nogata, [and] for a ram one nogata.

29. And if [someone] abducts another's male or female slave, then [he is to] pay twelve grivnas for the offense to him [who owned the stolen slave].

30. And if a man, bloody and blue with bruises, comes forward [to complain], then he does not need to find a witness [to substantiate his complaint of assault].

3l. And if someone steals either a horse or oxen, or [steals from] the storeroom, and if one man committed the theft [alone], then he is to pay him [the owner of the property] one grivna and 30 rezanas; or if there were eighteen [thieves], then [they are to pay the owner] three grivnas and 30 rezanas each.

32. And if they set fire to or destroy the prince's beehive, then [they are to] pay three grivnas.

33. And if they torture a peasant [of the prince] without the prince's authorization, then [they shall pay] three grivnas for the offense; and if [they torture the prince's] steward, overseer or guard, then [they shall pay] twelve grivnas.

34. And if someone plows across a border or [beyond] a border marker carved on a tree, then [he is to pay the owner] twelve grivnas for the offense.

35. And if someone steals a boat, then [he is] to pay [the owner] 30 rezanas for the boat, and a fine of 60 rezanas.

36. And [for the theft of] a dove or a chicken [pay the owner] nine kunas, and for a duck, a goose, a crane, or swan [pay the owner] 30 rezanas; and [pay] a fine of 60 rezanas.

37. And if they steal someone's dog, or hawk, or falcon, then [they are to pay the owner] three grivnas for the offense.

38. If they kill a thief at their own home, or at the storeroom or by the barn, then the thief is killed [and there the matter ends]; [but] if they hold him until daylight, then [they are] to conduct him to the prince's residence; but if they kill him, and people have seen [the thief] tied up, then they shall pay for him.

39. If they steal hay, then [they are to pay the owner] nine kunas; and [thieves are to pay] nine kunas [for stealing] firewood.

40. If they steal a sheep, or a goat, or a swine, and if there will be ten [men] who stole one sheep, then they shall pay 60 rezanas each as a fine; and the one who captured [the thieves receives] ten rezanas [as a reward].

4l. And from a one-grivna [fine] one kuna goes to the prince's guard, [and] fifteen kunas [go to the church] as a tithe; and the prince receives three grivnas [sic]; and from twelve grivnas 70 kunas go to the one who captured [the thief], and two grivnas [to the church] as a tithe, and [the remainder of the] ten grivnas [goes] to the prince.

42. This is the schedule of fees paid in connection with the collection of the bloodwite: the bloodwite collector gets seven buckets of malt each week, and also a ram or half a carcass of meat, or two nogatas; and on Wednesday a rezana or cheese; on Friday the same;[2] and as much bread as he can eat, and millet; and two chickens each day; provide four horses, and feed them as much as they will eat; and 60 grivnas to the bloodwite collector, and ten rezanas and twelve veveritsas, and one grivna in advance; or if [the bloodwite collector arrives] during Lent, then fish are needed; [he is entitled to] take seven rezanas for fish, a total of 15 kunas each week; and give them [the bloodwite collectors] as much bread as they can eat; and the bloodwite collectors are to gather the bloodwite within a week. This is the regulation of Iaroslav [1019-54].

43. And this is the schedule for the bridge builders: If they have built a bridge, then [they are to take] for their work a nogata, and one nogata for each span; if they repair an old bridge with several boards--either three, or four, or five--then the same [payments obtain].

[1] The relative values of the monetary units mentioned here are as follows: 1 silver grivna = 4 grivnas of "fur" [presumably borrowed from an original, pre-money economy] = 80 nogatas =100 rezanas = 200 kunas =196.2 grams of silver. Apparently there were 150 vekshas in a silver grivna; the value of the veveritsa is unknown.

[2]According to Orthodox canon law, Wednesday and Friday were fast days.

SOURCE: The Laws of Rus'--Tenth to Fifteenth Centuries, tr., ed. Daniel H. Kaiser (Salt Lake City: Charles Schlacks Publisher, 1992), 15-19.

1992, Daniel H. Kaiser. All rights reserved.