Under the Russian Tsar Ivan the Third, the main forces of the state were aimed at "gathering the Russian lands" around Moscow, freeing the khans from the Horde from dependence. On the annexed lands, it was necessary to establish the procedure for their use, which resulted in a local system of land tenure. According to it, state land was transferred to a serviceman for temporary use or for life as a reward for service and a source of income. This is how local troops were formed. Until 1497, relatively free peasants worked on the lands of the newly-minted landlords, who could move from one “employer” to another without hindrance, paying a fee for the use of housing and land, as well as repaying all existing debts.
Agriculture does not encourage frequent travel
Was there before 1497enslavement of peasants? The stages of the agricultural cycle do not really promote the active movement of farmers from one site to another. This is due to the fact that it is required to equip a new home, prepare a new plot for crops, and create a food reserve for the first time. Therefore, the free peasantry in that period of time was distinguished by conservativeness and, in fact, did not move very often, although it had the right to do so. Farmers in the 15th century were usually divided into newcomers and old-timers. The first of which could count on benefits from their feudal lord (in order to attract workers to the economy), while the latter were not subject to very large taxes, since they worked constantly, and there was a great interest in them. Peasants could work either for part of the harvest (ladles) or for interest (silver coins).
Becoming free was only possible almost in winter
How did the enslavement of the peasants take place? The stages of this process stretched over several centuries. Everything changed with the adoption by Ivan the Third of a code of laws - the Sudebnik, which established that a peasant could leave one owner for another only after the end of agricultural work, during St. George's day and a week before or after it with the payment of "elderly". It must be said that in different years the feast of this saint - George the Great Martyr - was celebrated on different days. According to the old calendar, this day fell on November 26, in the 16-17 centuries it was celebrated on December 6, and today it is December 9. Sudebnik also determined the amount of "elderly", which amounted to one ruble from the yards located infields, and half a ruble from the farms located in the forests, in favor of the landowners. At the same time, this payment was set for four years, that is, if a peasant lived and worked for a year, he had to pay a quarter of the amount determined by the Sudebnik.
Characteristics of the main stages of the enslavement of peasants
The son and heir of Ivan the Third, Vasily the Third, expanded the Moscow principality by annexing Ryazan, Novgorod-Seversky and Starodub principalities. Under him, there were active processes of centralization of power, which were accompanied by a minimization of the power of the boyars and the growth of the landed nobility, in the estates of which someone had to work. This trend increased during the reign of Ivan the Fourth (the Terrible), who, in his Sudebnik of 1550, confirmed the right of the landowners to let the peasants go only on St. George's Day, while reducing the rights of the peasants and serfs themselves and raising the "old" by two altyns. The stages of enslavement of peasants in Russia went one after another.
Not free tillers have been in Russia since ancient times
It is worth saying a few words about the serfs separately. This status of a personally unfree person existed from the time of the principalities of Ancient Russia and until 1723. The serf was in fact a slave (a slave captured in the war was called "Chelyadin" and was in the worst position relative to the serf). Again, they fell into serfs in the war, as a result of a crime (the prince could take into serfs a person who committed murder during robbery, arson or horse-stealing), in case of insolvency in paying debts or whenborn to captive parents.
You could also become a serf voluntarily if a person married a not free person, sold himself (at least for 0.5 hryvnia, but with witnesses), served as a housekeeper or tiun (in the latter case, other relationships were possible). With slaves, the owner was free to do anything, including selling and killing, while at the same time answering for their actions to third parties. Serfs worked where they were placed, including on the ground. Therefore, we can say that the enslavement of the peasants, the stages of which date back to the 15th-16th centuries, was actually based on the established practices of the slave system.
Partial ban on the transition
Shortly before his death (in 1581), Ivan the Terrible imposed restrictions on the transition of tillers and on St. George's Day to conduct a general census of land and assess the scale and quality of farming on it. This was another event that caused further enslavement of the peasants. The stages in the development of the enslavement system, however, are attributed during this period to both Grozny and Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich, who allegedly issued such a decree in 1592.
Supporters of the introduction of the ban by Grozny point out that the letters before 1592 contain references to “reserved (forbidden) years”, while Fyodor Ivanovich’s supporters believe that it is precisely the absence of references to “reserved years” in the documentation after 1592 indicates that the ban was introduced in 1592-1593.There is still no clarity on this issue. It is worth noting that the cancellation of St. George's Day did not operate throughout Russia - in the south, peasants could move from one owner to another for quite a long time.
Complete enslavement of farmers
The main stages of the enslavement of peasants in the 16th century did not end with the above activities. In 1597, a decree on lesson years was introduced, which established that a fugitive peasant could be returned to his former owner within 5 years. If this period expired and the former owner did not file an application for an investigation, then the fugitive remained in the new place. Any departure was considered as an escape, and the return was made with all property and family.
Church summers were partially canceled under Boris Godunov
The stages of legal enslavement of peasants have been in effect since 1597 in relation not only to the tiller himself, but also in relation to his wife and children, who became "fixed" to the land. Ten years after the adoption of the rules of fixed years (1607), the situation of forced rural workers worsened even more, since under Vasily Shuisky a decree was issued to extend the period of investigation to fifteen years, which significantly expanded the rights of landowners to work peasants. This document tried to prove the illegality of the abolition of the fixed years during the reign of B. Godunov, who introduced relief, most likely in connection with the famine in 1601-1602.
How did all the stages endenslavement of the peasants? Briefly - the complete abolition of the fixed years and the indefinite search for fugitives. This happened under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and was formalized by the Council Code of 1649. Only after more than two hundred years, in 1861, serfdom will be abolished and Russian peasants will receive relative freedom.