Developing a Medieval Russian Persona
by Lisa Kies, aka Sofya la Rus
26 April 2009
"The Little Things" from Cariadoc's Miscellany and "So you
want to have a Persona?" by Jennifer Reymes (Gwenhwyfar ferch Llewelyn)
- What is your name? How did you get it? What would your non-Slavic
neighbors call you? (An useful consideration in the
French/English oriented SCA)
- When were you born? What period are you from?
Medieval Russian history
is generally divided into 3 periods: Kievan Rus, Rus under the Mongols, and
Muscovite Russia. Some would separate out pagan Rus as the first period of Rus medieval history, with the conversion to Christianity marking the transition to "Kievan" Rus.
- Where are you from? Where do you live now? Do you live in a city or
in a rural village?
- What do you wear? Are there sumptuary laws?
- What is your status in society? Prince? Boyar? Merchant? Serf?
- How were you educated? Can you read and write? What languages do you
- How do you make your living? How did you learn your trade?
- Who is in your family? Which family members live with you? Who else is
in your household: servants, slaves...?
Pouncy, Caroline. The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible.
- How do you reckon time? How do you know what time it is? What time
does the day end? What calendar do you use? [The Julian Calendar was used in
Russia up to the 19th century and years were reckoned according to the year
of creation, 5508 years before Christ.]
- What meals do you eat? What do you eat at them? How do you prepare
food? Does the menu change during the year? When do you fast?
- How do you keep clean? What are the rules of hygiene?
- What religion do you follow? What rituals or superstitions do you
- What do you do for fun?
- How do you travel? How much do you travel? Is that unusual?
were important "highways" in both summer and winter, and winter was a good
time to travel by land on sleds over frozen ground.]
- How do you measure things? (The following are approximate.)
a verst = 2/3 mile
a sazhen' = 7 feet
an arshin = 28 inches
a pud = 35 pounds
- What do you use for money? How much do things cost?
one grivna = 50 rezanas = 20 nogatas = 100 kopeks
a nogata = a whole fur including the feet = 50 kopeks
a rezana = a cut fur skin = 20 kopeks
a horse = 2 grivnas as a fine if killed
a male slave = 5 grivnas as a fine if killed
a female slave = 6 grivnas as a fine if killed
a (silver) fox pelt > a silver ruble = a peasant's yearly wage
What your world is like
- What is the climate and terrain like? Are there wild animals? What
crops are grown?
Continental climate (similar to the American midwest)...
Bears, fur-bearing animals (sable, fox, etc.), eagles, deer...
Rye, millet, barley, wheat (depending on region of Russia), root vegetables, temperate fruits and berries...
- What do you know about geography? What
is the most distant land you know of?
Russian principalities (Galich, Vladimir-Suzdal, Chernigov, etc.)...
The major rivers (Volga, Dnepr, Okay, Dvina, etc.)...
Mountain ranges such as the Urals and the Caucasus...
The Holy Land, China, England? Norway? Persia?
- What countries are important in your world? Which are allies, or
The west: German lands, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Sweden...
The east: steppe nomads, Volga Bulgars, the Golden Horde...
The south: Byzantium, Bulgaria, other Balkan nations, more steppe nomads...
Neighbors and Other Influences
- Who is your lord? Who is your ruler?
Where is your capital? What taxes or tribute do you owe them?
- Are there any wars going on that affect you? What armor and weapons are
- What history do you know?
The Russian Primary Chronicle, and the Novgorod Chronicle are both available on-line on various webpages.
- What is the legal system? What laws do you follow?
- What medical care is available to you? Who provides it?
- What is the status of women? Jews? Foreigners?
- What stories do you grow up with? Who are the heroes?
- What art forms are there? What songs do you sing?
- What mythical beasts have you heard of? Which do you believe in?
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