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Serfdom in Russia

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 11 months ago

Week 23 Emergence of Industrial Society IDs

 

Serfdom in Russia

 

  • The origins of serfdom are traced to Kievan Rus in the 11th century when he declared feudal dependency of the peasants who eventually became “serfs”
  • Their situation was not helped when in 1497 Ivan III created a legal code that strengthened their dependency and restricted their mobility
  • After the passage of these laws, the majority of the Russian population found themselves in serfdom
  • Serfs were assigned estates and leaving these estates was made a criminal offense
  • Landowners gained almost unlimited ownership over serfs
  • They could transfer the serf to other landowners while keeping their personal property and family, but they could not kill a serf
  • There were numerous rebellions that occurred in Russia as a result of serfdom the most famous being the Pugachev rebellion
  • All of these rebellions were about escaping serfdom rather than the institution itself
  • Finally in 1861, all serfs were freed in a major agrarian reform that was started by Tsar Alexander II when he said

“it is better to liberate the peasants from above” than to wait until they won their freedom by risings “from below.”

  • Although it was abolished the terms on which it occurred was unfavorable to the peasants and ironically served to increase revolutionary pressures and revolts

 

This is a picture of a peasant leaving his landlord on Yuriev Day which was a feast celebrated twice a year (in spring and autumn.) This was the only time of year when the Russian serfs were free to move from one landowner to another. However, the government made this illegal when they declared it a criminal offense for a serf to leave an estate.

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