The texts discussed in the present article have not been studied by historians so far, although testaments from Kiev, like testaments from the territory of the Crown of Poland, offer wide research opportunities. They can be used to study legal and economic issues, everyday life, mentality, spirituality and human attitudes to death. They present the testator's last will against the wide social context, involving the family, neighbours, friends, debtors and creditors. They indicate the financial position of the testator, and sometimes even show how money could be earned and how it was supposed to be spent (this concerns mostly the contents of trunks and stalls). The analysis of movables owned by the elite of Kiev burghers leads to the conclusion that they tried to imitate the lifestyle of the local gentry. Secondly, as is pointed out by Andrzej Pospiech, movables, regardless of how accessible they are in comparison with estates, are very clear indicators of social status. One of such indicators is undoubtedly the clothing. Burgher dress was largely influenced by the costume of the gentry, which was one of the symptoms of the extensive influence of the gentry culture on burgher elites, both in the Crown and in the Ukraine. The observations presented in the article should be treated as preliminary, due to the limited source basis available. Testaments from the Ukraine, especially those of the gentry from the Ruthenian and Volhynian voivodeships, have survived in hundreds, together with the basic archives of court records. In the case of Kiev, however, the situation is different, since all the city records from the period in question were destroyed by wars and fires. Only a few extracts and bequests recorded in other sources have been preserved. Since testaments give us much wider opportunities of studying the history of Ukrainian burghers that could be presented in the article, it seems that those few surviving texts should be published. Comparing them to the last wills from other towns will undauntedly contribute to the study of the living standard of the inhabitants of the south-eastern part of the Commonwealth.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.