Sudebnik (судебник). A collection of legal norms in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Muscovy. Such collections were used in the courts as law manuals and particularly as manuals of criminal law and procedural law. The sudebnik of 1468 of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was codified under Grand Duke Casimir IV Jagiellończyk and made public at the Vilnius Diet. It was the first general, though incomplete, legal code for Lithuania, and a precursor of the Lithuanian Statute. Focused on criminal law and procedural law, it was based primarily on Ruskaia Pravda, customary law, and articles of later legislative acts. Some influences of Western law are also evident, such as the introduction of capital punishment, which is not found in Ruskaia Pravda. In Muscovy the first general legal code was the sudebnik of 1497, which marks the beginning of the legal enserfment of the peasantry by limiting their mobility (see Serfdom). It was based also on Ruskaia Pravda, as well as on various princely decrees and customary law. It was succeeded by the sudebnik of 1550, which set the legal groundwork of an estate (see Estates) monarchy and remained in force until the major legal reform of 1649.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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