Russian history 55 part 2. Classes. Landlords and peasants

The lands of the knyaz consisted of three categories. First, the "land of the palace". Everything produced on this land was the property of the knyaz. Second, the "black land", which was given to the tenants — the peasants' communities. Third, the "boyars' land" that belonged to the boyars.

Earlier, the knyaz granted parts of the land of the palace to his servants. Soon, the shortage of the land of the palace forced the knyazes to grant parts of the "black land". Earlier the granted land was called "the servants' land", now they were called "poméstye" and those who received this land became "pomeshchiks". (This word is usually translated as "landlords", but there are important differences between landlords in general and poméshchiks in particular.) Unlike inheritable patrimonies (votchinas), poméstyes belonged to poméshchiks only as long as the poméshchik served to the knyaz. When the poméshchik died or was discharged, his poméstye returned to the knyaz. In the early XVI century there were thousands of poméshchiks who received lands in former principalities of Novgorod, Smolensk, Seversk, along river Oka and around Moscow. Two administrations were established in Moscow: "Poméstnaya izbá" administered the poméstyes and Razryad administered the poméshchiks.

Besides the poméstyes, the knyaz's servants received irregular monetary grants. To the noblest of them the knyaz granted kormlénye. This meant that they were sent to one of the towns or districts as the knyaz's deputies. The inhabitants of the town or the district payed them korm (gifts sent on holidays) and poshliha (payments for the deputy's work for the benefit of the people, like working as a judge and so on). This system was called kormlénye. The new hierarchy of the knyaz's servants included:

  1. the aristocracy: knyazhata and boyars;
  2. other nobles: owners of patrimonies and poméstyes;
  3. and the garrison soldiers who were granted small lot of land in the fortified cities.

As the system of poméstyes grew, large areas of the land earlier occupied by peasants were granted to the poméshchiks and the peasants turned from the subjects of the knyaz into the subjects of poméshchiks. The landlord served the country and for his service the peasants worked for him, ploughed his land and payed him tribute. Now, both poméshchiks and the government attempted to prevent peasants from moving away. Some peasants and their lots were listed in special books. These so called "written peasants" were not allowed to leave freely, while the "non-written peasants" still could leave at any moment they wished. The landlords, however, lent them money, grain and kettle to tie them with debts. The right of the Yuriev day still worked, but the peasants' communities were interested in keeping the members in place, since those who stayed had to pay for those who left, and they asked the knyazes to ban the written peasants from leaving. Eventually, most peasants were not allowed to leave and had to pay the tribute to the knyaz and work on the land of the landlord (either a poméshchik or the knyaz himself.)

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