JUDITH HERRIN. UNRIVALLED INFLUENCE. WOMEN AND EMPIRE IN BYZANTIUM. REVIEW

Varina Voronina

Анотація


I am not a specialist in the Middle Ages, moreover Medieval Byzantium, but I have been studying gender and mental characteristic features of the Russian Empire (1861-1917) and Soviet Ukraine (1917-1939) for many years, that is why my interest in the history of the millennium beginning of the state, out of which Christianity has come (its Eastern, i.e. Byzantine, rite) is the foreground of the root depth. As ethnic and psychological features are transformed too slowly and their female constituent is much more conservative, my main aim is to find in this work new and general in the “women’s issue”, what impression Byzantium took, and what became acceptable out of those for both Kyiv Rus and Moscow Kingdom.

The book is a paper collection aimed at specialists in Medieval Byzantium history. If you are interested in history of women in general as I am, these texts are too complicated for comprehension: terminology and names of the particular documents (the Peira of Eustatios Romaios) – the author juggles with them so that you do not part with Google, moreover Wikipedia often keeps deceitful silence. That is why you are forced to read papers by specialists in Law, e.g. Charles Diehl)[1], for general intelligence, to review Judith Herrin.

Introduction was very promising: female monkhood was presented as a gender challenge - p. XV “…thus rose above the normal constraints of womanhood, to surpass them in a way that was not womanly. This is the other common trope of women who become like men, manly in the courage…”. Nevertheless, later the author characterizes the majority of examples as a type of repression. What is paradoxical towards my study aim: female monkhood was hardly widespread in Kyiv Russo as it was in Ukraine (with the very Kyiv as the centre), which was formed on the given territory in about the 16th century, while in Moscow Kingdom in the 15-16th centuries there happened taking the veil of mothers, wives, sisters of kings and female part of the palace – terem (gynaecium) and also bride shows – this is the Byzantium Renaissance. (By the way, what puts me on my guard is that Judith Herrin calls the country Vladimir of Kiev - Russia in Chapter 11, pp. 242-243. The term appeared during Peter I in the 18th century. To correct this political and philological mistake my country is shedding its blood. Moreover, scientific ethics obliges to know quite a big part of Eastern Europe.)


 


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