Excerpts from THE DOMOSTROI (mid-16th century)
How to Educate Children and Bring Them Up In the Fear of God
If God send children, sons or daughters, father and mother must take care of these their children. Provide for them and bring them up in good instruction. Teach them the fear of God and politeness and propriety, and teach them some handicraft, according to the time and age of the children: the mother instructing her daughters, and the father his sons, as best he knows and God counsels him. Love them and watch them and save them through fear. Teaching and instructing them and reasoning with them, punish them. Teach your children in their youth, and you will have a quiet old age. Look after their bodily cleanliness, and keep them from all sin, like the apple of your eye and your own souls. If the children transgress through the neglect of their parents, the parents will answer for these sins on the day of the terrible judgement. If the children are not taken care of and transgress through lack of the parents' instruction, or do some evil, there will be both to the parents and children a sin before God, scorn and ridicule before men, a loss to the house, grief to oneself, and cost and shame from the judges. If by God-fearing, wise and sensible people the children be brought up in the fear of God, and in good instruction and sensible teaching, in wisdom and politeness and work and handicraft, such children and their parents are loved by God, blessed by the clerical vocation, and praised by good people; and when they are of the proper age, good people will gladly and thankfully marry off their sons, according to their possessions and the will of God, and will give their daughter In marriage to their sons. And if God take away one of their children, after the confession and extreme unction, the parents bring a pure offering to God to take up an abode in the eternal mansion; and the child is bold to beg God's mercy and forgiveness of his parents' sins.
How to Teach Children and Save Them Through Fear
Punish your son in his youth, and he will give you a quiet old age, and restfulness to your soul. Weaken not beating the boy, for he will not die from your striking him with the rod, but will be in better health: for while you strike his body, you save his soul from death. If you love your son, punish him frequently, that you may rejoice later. Chide your son in his childhood and you will be glad in his manhood, and you will boast among evil persons and your enemies will be envious. Bring up your child with much prohibition and you will have peace and blessing from him. Do not smile at him, or play with him, for though that will diminish your grief while he is a child, it will increase it when he is older, and you will cause much bitterness to your soul. Give him no power in his youth, but crush his ribs while he is growing and does not in his wilfulness obey you, lest there be an aggravation and suffering to your soul, a loss to your house, destruction to your property, scorn from your neighbours and ridicule from your enemies, and cost and worriment from the authorities.
How Chnstians Are to Cure Diseases and all Kinds of Ailments
If God send any disease or ailment down upon a person let him cure himself through the grace of God, through tears, prayer, fasting, charity to the poor, and true repentance. Let him thank the Lord and beg His forgiveness, and show mercy and undisguised charity to everybody. Have the clergy pray the Lord for you, and sing the mass. Sanctify the water with the holy crosses and holy relics and miracle-working images, and be anointed with the holy oil. Frequent the miracle-working and holy places, and pray there with a pure conscience. In that way you will receive from God a cure for all your ailments. But you must henceforth abstain from sin, and in the future do no wrong, and keep the commands of the spiritual fathers, and do penance. Thus you will be purified from sin, and your spiritual and bodily ailment will be cured, and God will be gracious to you.
The Wife Is Always and in All Things to Take Counsel with Her Husband
In all affairs of everyday life, the wife is to take counsel with her husband, and to ask him, if she needs anything. Let her be sure that her husband wants her-to keep company with the guests she invites, or the people she calls upon. Let her put on the best garment, if she receives a guest, or herself is invited somewhere to dinner. By all means let her abstain from drinking liquor, for a drunk man is bad enough, but a drunk woman has no place in the world. A woman ought to talk with her lady-friends of handiwork and housekeeping. She must pay attention to any good word that is said in her own house, or in that of her friend: how good women live, how they keep house, manage their household, instruct their children and servants, obey their husbands, and ask their advice in everything, and submit to them. And if there is anything she does not know, let her politely inquire about it.... It is good to meet such good women, not for the sake of eating and drinking with them, but for the sake of good conversation and information, for it is profitable to listen to them. Let not a woman rail at anyone, or gossip about others. If she should be asked something about a person, let her answer: "I know nothing about it, and have heard nothing of it; I do not inquire about things that do not concern me; nor do I sit in judgement over the wives of princes, boiars, or my neighbours."
How to Instruct Servants
Enjoin your servants not to talk about other people. If they have been among strangers, and have noticed anything bad there, let them not repeat it at home; nor should they spread rumours about what is going on at home. A servant must remember what he has been sent for, and he must not know, nor answer any other questions that are put to him. The moment he has carried out his commission, he should return home and report to his master in regard to the matter he has been sent for; let him not gossip of things he has not been ordered to report, lest he cause quarrel and coldness between the masters. If you send your servant, or son, to tell, or do something, or buy a thing, ask him twice: "What have I ordered you to do? What are you to say, or do, or buy?" If he repeats to you as you have ordered him, all is well.... if you send anywhere some eatables or liquids, send full measures, so that they cannot lie about them. Send your wares after having measured or weighed them, and count the money, before you send it out. Best of all, dispatch under seal. Carefully instruct the servant whether he is to leave the things at the house, if the master should be absent, or if he is to bring them back home.... When a servant is sent to genteel people, let him knock at the door softly. If anyone should ask him, as he passes through the courtyard: "What business brings you here?" let him not give him any satisfaction, but say: "I have not been sent to you; I shall tell to him to whom I have been sent." Let him clean his dirty feet before the antechamber, or house, or cell, wipe his nose, clear his throat, and correctly say his prayer; and if he does not receive an "amen" in response, he should repeat the prayer in a louder voice, twice or three times. If he still receives no answer, he must softly knock at the door. When he is admitted, he should bow before the holy images, give his master's respects, and tell his message. While doing so, let him not put his finger in his nose, nor cough, nor clean his nose, nor clear his throat, nor spit. If he absolutely must do so, let him step aside. He must stand straight and not look to either side when reporting the message; nor should he relate any matter not relevant to the message. Having done his duty, he should forthwith return home, to report to his master.