This book intertwines two themes in medieval studies, which so far have never been brought together: comparative studies of Latin and Orthodox Europe and a debate on the “feudal revolution” – the changes that occurred during the transition from Carolingian to post-Carolingian Europe. The book broadens the linguistic and geographical scope of the debate by comparing texts written in “learned” and “vulgar” Latin, Church Slavonic, Anglo-Norman, and East Slavonic, the vernacular of Kievan Rus. From this comparison, the Kingdom of the Rus’ – a terra incognita for most medievalists, generally assumed to be profoundly different from the West –emerges as a regional variation of European society. In particular, the finding that contractual relations, traditionally described in scholarly literature as “feudo-vassalic,” were present in the Kingdom of the Rus suggests that current explanations for the origins of such relations may overemphasize factors unique to the medieval West and overlook deeper pan-European processes.
Elegant writing always looks effortless and the same is true of persuasive historical research. Mikhailova merits such praise. Her work brings together two major medieval historiographical themes usually treated in isolation from one another: western feudo-vassalic relations and the nature of power, authority, and land tenure in Rus (medieval Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia), in order to suggest that the latter had some similarities to the former., Talia Zajac, University of Manchester, The Medieval Review, 4 December 2019