Anthroponymical Embodiment of Family Unity in Medieval Rus’

2021. № 6, 77-97

Anna F. Litvina1, Fjodor B. Uspenskij2, National Research University Higher School of Economics1, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences)2, annalitvina@gmail.com1, fjodor.uspenskij@gmail.com2


The paper dwells on various onomastic means that ensured family unity within a generation in Medieval Rus’, highlighting, fi rst and foremost, the unity between brothers. The important research tools are the history of personal patronal saints cult and the fact that many Christians of the pre-Petrine time uses to have two names: a baptismal one, as well as an additional name from the church calendar. Particular emphasis is put on intentional semantics play of non-Christian names, on the one hand, and on working with recurring Christian anthroponyms in a family, on the other hand. The article introduces a term anthroponymical castling, which is supposed to explain the cases common in Medieval Times where the members of the family carried the same names and underline the systemic nature of this phenomenon. ‘The language of names’ allows to demonstrate ambitions of the family, invoke its history, whether actual or fi ctional, highlight 79 various aspects of family piety and current political situation. The paper demonstrates how given names acted as a means of planning when they were given to the fi rst and the last of the Rurikids to rule on the Russian throne; to the Morozov brothers, the boyars; and to some other obscure participants of numerous events described in the 16th and 17th centuries.

For citation:

Litvina A. F., Uspenskij F. B. Anthroponymical Embodiment of Family Unity in Medieval Rus’. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2021.
No. 6. Pp. 77–97. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170017981-8.


The article was prepared based on the results of the project
“Ancient Russia and the Peter’s Era in Manuscripts: Commented Reading
and Publishing of Texts” with the support of the Humanitarian Research
Foundation of the Higher School of Economics National Research University
in 2021.