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But in reality, everything is not so simple. Many lovers of antiquity idealize the very recent past, and yet it has not entirely bright sides. For example, sleepwalking.

Sexual intercourse between the head of a peasant family and his daughter-in-law was in fact a common part of the life of a patriarchal family. "It seems nowhere, except Russia, at least one type of incest has acquired the character of an almost normal everyday phenomenon, having received the appropriate technical name - dreamer." This is a quote from Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov, a Russian lawyer, politician and journalist. Observers noted that this custom was still alive in the late 19th century, and one of the reasons for its persistence was the seasonal outflow of young men to work. Although this form of incest was generally condemned, the peasants did not consider it a serious offense. Moreover, they often said about the daughter-in-law with a share of sympathy: “He loves his daughter-in-law. Yong lives with her as with a wife, he liked him."

However, in different counties, the attitude was slightly different. So, for example, according to the testimony of the peasants of the Borisoglebsk district of the Tambov province, daughter-in-law was common, but traditionally it was considered the most shameful sin in the village. Daughter-in-law at the gathering was ignored when solving public affairs, since everyone could tell them: "Get out to hell, daughter-in-law, it's none of your business."

And here is what contemporaries wrote about it:

This is a quote from the 1885 book “Information about the Cossack communities on the Don. Materials for common law : Dreaming among the Cossacks is so common and ordinary, especially in the northern districts and more among the schismatics, that they look at him condescendingly and turn a blind eye, if only the daughter-in-law does not show himself too clearly.

And further:

“Old believers daughter-in-law often marry, as it was mentioned, their sons aged 13 or 14 to girls aged 20 or older under the plausible pretext of having a worker in the house, and, of course, they choose the one they like as their wife. Thus, it turns out that the wife is not needed for the son, but for the father."

Dreaming is mentioned in the fiction "Fathers and Sons" by Turgenev, "The Life of a Woman" by Leskov, "Well" by Loginov. In Doroshevich's book "Sakhalin", a popular omen is given: How the daughters-in-law starts helping, you cannot move the bell. Also, daughter-in-law is found in Mikhail Sholokhov's novel Quiet Don, when Daria Melekhova tries to seduce her father-in-law Pantelei Prokofievich, in the absence of her husband Peter, explaining that she “cannot live without a Cossack”.

There are several reasons for this phenomenon.

One of the reasons is early marriages. In the middle of the 19th century, in the villages of the Elatomsky district of the Tambov province, it was customary to marry 12-13 year old boys to brides 16-17 years old. Fathers prone to sleepwalking deliberately married their sons young in order to take advantage of their inexperience. Another reason is the peculiarity of everyday life, when several families lived side by side in the same peasant yard. Another reason for the daughter-in-law is the aforementioned peasants' latrine trades.

Here is a testimony from the Bolkhovsky district of the Oryol province: "Daughter-in-law is widespread here because husbands go to work, see their wives only twice a year, while the father-in-law stays at home and disposes at his own discretion." The mechanism for persuading the daughter-in-law to cohabitation was quite simple. Taking advantage of the absence of his son, and sometimes in his presence, the father-in-law forced the daughter-in-law to intimacy. All means were used: persuasions, gifts, and promises of light work. There was even a saying: "Keep quiet, daughter-in-law, I'll buy a sundress."

As a rule, such a targeted siege yielded results. Otherwise, backbreaking work, accompanied by nagging, cursing, and often beatings, became the lot of the young. Some women tried to find protection in the volost court, but, as a rule, they were removed from the analysis of such cases. True, Professor Orshansky in his research gives an example, when, according to the daughter-in-law's complaint against the father-in-law's agreement to become a daughter-in-law, the latter was deprived of "big" by the decision of the volost court.

But this was more the exception than the rule. A typical example of a father-in-law's inclination to sexual intercourse is given in the correspondence of a resident of the village of Krestovozdvizhenskie Ryabinki, Bolkhovsky district, Oryol province, Perkov.