Medieval Studies-Mary Jaharis Center Lecture in Byzantine Studies


Thursday, March 4, 2021, 3:00pm to 4:30pm


Zoom presentation

Alexandra Vukovich (Oxford University), Ritual and Politics in Early Rus. Co-sponsored by the Committee on Medieval Studies and the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture. This talk will take place on the Zoom meeting platform; please click here to register.

Abstract: This lecture explores the political culture of early Rus, the ceremonies and rituals that held a constitutive significance in the various polities (or fortified towns) of Rus in the pre-Mongol period. The ceremonial culture of Rus offers insight into the influences on this emergent society, a place (or a series of places) that stretched from Scandinavia to the Eurasian Steppe. The literature, iconography, material culture, and built landscape of early Rus all offer representations of ceremonies, such as enthronement, alliance-making, oath-swearing, and commensality. These acts, often repetitive and banal, reflect the political coordinates of an elite that began to emerge (according to written sources) in the tenth century. The evolution and change of these practices over the centuries preceding the Mongol conquest reflect the articulation of princely power in Rus, as well as its shifting political organization.