A short history of Russia
Some contents of books
What is now European Russia — the great plain of Eastern Europe, bounded on the north by the White Sea, on the east by the Ural Mountains, on the south by the Black Sea, and on the west by the Baltic — was about the ninth-century a.d. inhabited, in its central portion, by the various tribes of the Eastern Slavs, who had originally migrated there from the banks of the Danube. These Slavs dwelt together in independent tribes, in towns and villages surrounded by wooden stockades and ditches, as a protection from wild beasts and other enemies. Their houses were rude wooden huts and in every family the father,. as head of the house, held absolute sway and exacted implicit obedience.
Matters of public importance, such as the carrying on of war, or the defense of the towns, were decided upon in council by the members of each community, and this council was called the Veche, and was, more or less, the equivalent of the Saxon Witenagemot.
The Slavs hunted in the vast forests and bogs that covered the country, fished in the rivers, tilled the ground in a rude and primitive manner, and even carried on a certain amount of trade in natural products with their neighbors. The women performed all household duties, brought up the children, and on the death of their husband were burned on his funeral pyre, together with his weapons, his horse, and any other cherished possessions he might require in the after-life. The Slavs believed in the immortality of the soul and thought the life beyond the grave would be a continuation of the earthly life.
The religion of the Slavs consisted of a deification of the great elemental forces of Nature, and they consequently had many gods, of whom the greatest were: Perun, god of thunder and lightning; Dazhbog, or Hors, god of the sun; and Stribog, god of the winds. Besides these gods, the founder of every household was supposed, after his death, to return to earth in spiritual form, and as the Domovoi or House-god, protect his descendants from many evils. The Slavs erected no temples to their gods and had no regular priesthood, but the head of each family offered up prayer and sacrifice in his own house. In early times they made no idols to their gods, but later large figures of wood or stone were set up for worship in public places, and before them, human sacrifices were occasionally offered, the victim being chosen by lot. Wizards, witches, pixies, and mermaids of course played a great part in Bog in Russian means, God.
Download PDF ebook