Verv


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Verv’

 

(from verv’, meaning verevka, rope; hence, a plot of land measured with a rope), ancient communal organization in Rus’ and among the Croatians. It is mentioned in Russian Law (the legislative monument of Kievan Rus’) and in the Poljica Statute (legislative monument of Poljica [Poglizza], a small area on the Dalmation coast in Croatia). Originally the verv’ was a consanguineous organization. However, under the subsequent influence of different social and economic conditions, the verv’ took a different evolution among the Russians and among the southwestern Slavs. Russian Law describes the verv’ as a rural commune free of any consanguineous ties. In the verv’ of the Poljica Statute consanguineous ties also became weaker; nevertheless, some elements of such ties were retained. The social system reflected in Russian Law is more developed than the Poljican social relations expressed in the Poljica Statute, although Russian Law in some of its parts reflects the social relations of the eighth to the 12th centuries and the Poljica Statute, relations of the 15th to the 17th centuries.

In Russian Law the verv’ has no signs whatsoever of a kinship collective. It is a rural commune occupying a large territory, and the members of a verv’ are not called kin. Russian Law refers to the members as liudi (“folk,” freemen). They are bound by collective responsibility, are obliged to search for a thief in their territory (gnat’ sled: pursue the track), and are responsible for a murder committed in their territory if the murderer has not been found and the body of the murdered person is found on their territory. The verv’-commune also fulfilled other functions imposed on it by the authorities.

The Croatian verv’ still shows weak traits of consanguineous relations. The Poljica Statute does not have any specific social organization that it calls verv’. It is difficult to establish whether, according to the statute, the terms verv’ and “village” are synonymous or if the verv’ is a component part of the village. Both hypotheses are tenable. There is a vast literature about the verv’, but to this day this question cannot be considered definitively solved.

REFERENCES

Tikhomirov, M. N. Issledovaniia o Russkoi Pravde. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Iushkov, S. V. Obshchestvenno-politicheskii stroi i pravo Kievskovo gosudarstva. Moscow, 1949.
Grekov, B. D. Politsa. Moscow, 1951.
Grekov, B. D. “Bol’shaia sem’iai verv’ Russkoi pravdy i Politskogo statuta.” Izbr. trudy, vol. 2, Moscow, 1959 (Bibliography, pp. 564-75.)
Pravda russkaia, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947. Pages 261-74.
Barada, M. Starohrvatska seoska zajednica. [Zagreb, 1957.]

IU. V. BROMLEI