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HISB93H3 Professor Dowler Summer 2010 Lecture Note

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Wayne Dowler

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x The process of serfdom began in the middle of 15th century and ended in the middle of 17th
x The lawcode Ulozhenie made serfdom legal
x It appeared formally in Russia just about the time it was disappearing in western Europe
x There are broad theories about the causes of serfdom in Russia:
arose from peasant indebtedness which meant that they could not leave the land. The
government merely just made it a law
o Decree Theory: the government decreed that the peasants be bound to the land.
(foreign policy)
x The Russian army was made of the service gentry (the dvoriane) and the government paid
them with grants of land (pomestie)
x From his grant of land, the servicemen had to earn enough money to support his money, his
travel to and from the place of service and out of his earnings he had to buy his horses,
weapons and armor
x They depended on their income that they could derive from their pomestie
x The service gentry did not have time to work the land so they hired peasants
x Up to the reign of Vasilii II, most peasants were free peasants as in they could move from
land to land at will. They could leave the peasantry and get an occupation
x The population had a tendency of moving in search of better land and opportunities
x Therefore, there was labour shortages
x During the civil wars of 15th century, the disruption increased peasants moving
x In response to the shortage of labour, Vasilii II, as a favour to some monastaries, he decreed
that peasants could move only one week before or one week after the St. George Day in
x By 1497, the new lawcode Sudebnik extended the St George rule to all peasants
x In order to move, peasants had to pay his debts and a penalty to the owner
x As long as labour was in short supply, the peasants had no difficulty finding a new landlord
who could pay off his debts
x The rule presented only a small obstacle to a peasant who wanted to move
x The real sufferers were the service gentry because most of the had small grants of land and
only had a few peasants of their land. If one family left, a good part of your income would
x The boyars and monasteries had larger estates and they could offer peasants a better deal and
x When the government captured Kazan and Astrakhan, it opened those regions to settlement
x The peasants flocked there because the land there was very rich
x The government hesitated to halt this move because they saw it as a buffer from other Tatars
from the east
x The troubles under Ivan the Terrible caused more peasants to move
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