Developing a Medieval Russian Persona

by Lisa Kies, aka Sofya la Rus
Updated 26 April 2009

Inspired by "The Little Things" from Cariadoc's Miscellany and "So you want to have a Persona?" by Jennifer Reymes (Gwenhwyfar ferch Llewelyn)

Getting Started:

  • 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? Slave?
  • How were you educated? Can you read and write? What languages do you know?
  • 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.

Daily Life

  • 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 observe?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • How do you travel? How much do you travel? Is that unusual?
      [Rivers 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

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