Russian history 21: Structure of the population of the Kiev state

The members of the druzhina were a special class of the population. Only in a druzhina one could become a boyarin and enter the aristocracy. The main part of the Kievan society consisted of two large groups: free people (muzhi) and slaves. With the growth of the cities, muzhi divided into the urban population and the village population. Two classes were distinguished in the urban population: "better", or rich people, and "black", or poor people. The former class included merchants and the latter class consisted mainly of craftsmen. The free village population was named smerds. If a smerd agreed to work on the land of another land-owner using the employer's tools and cattle, he ceased to be a free man and became a zakup (bought man). A zakup was not a slave. He could become a smerd again if he could find enough money to pay for his freedom. Smerds lived in communities named vervs or pogosts and payed tribute to the knyaz. Just like in the pagan times, slavery was widespread. Slaves, or kholops were bought and sold. Debtors who couldn't pay their debt were turned into slaves. Slaves' children also became slaves. The influence of Christianity made the lives of the slaves easier, but couldn't eradicate the tradition itself. In many villages owned by boyars, the population consisted only of slaves.

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