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supervision altogether, for monks and monasteries played an important part in opening up the forests, following the trail of new settlements and offering or imposing economic and spiritual management. This marked a change from the pre-Mongol era, when monasteries had largely been confined to towns and 'compact nests'. Many monks probably regarded their forest retreats primarily as opportunities for meditation, uncomplicated by routine secular concerns. But even small communities required continuous funding and consequent organisation. Whatever their original intentions, they tended to draw in additional manpower and rapidly acquired sizeable acreages of cultivable land. They could afford to set rents quite low and impose lighter labour services thanks to the fiscal exemptions issued by their princes and Tatar overlords. Circumstances inevitably varied according to personality and priorities, but monastic complexes emerged as potent economic and social forces in northern Rus, providing pastoral care for the inhabitants of their own lands and beyond. They set the tone for overt displays of spirituality as well as colouring the peasants' view of the world.

Given the extent of the lands belonging to monasteries and to the Rus metropolitan church by the fifteenth century and their sweeping jurisdictional rights over those living on them, the profusion of legal texts of one kind or another compiled or circulating in the monastic and ecclesiastical milieu is unsurprising. An important collection of translated texts of Byzantine church and civil law had been made in the 1260s at the behest of Metropolitan Kirill II, drawing on a recently compiled Serb compendium. Copies of this Helmsman's Book (Kormchaia kniga) were disseminated across Rus, and regional variants soon appeared, while Kirill himself invoked it in the Rule on church discipline that he promulgated. These sets of regulations, dictums and penalties covered a broad range of secular activities, including crimes, and in the fourteenth century a compilation from imperial law-codes in translation known as Merilo pravednoe ('Measure of law') was available to senior churchmen. However piecemeal, there were opportunities to apply some of these guidelines among the many communities living under the clerical or monastic wing. The responses of individual peasant households to the monks' material demands, adjudication of disputes and pastoral care are sparsely documented, but there are hints that monastic supervision and example could have an impact for better or for worse on everyday living and manners of dying. So, laymen's testaments witnessed by churchmen start to survive from the late thirteenth izmenenii', inRus'vXIIIveke: drevnosti temnogo vremeni, ed. N. A. Makarovetal. (Moscow:

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