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The Russian Empire 1450-1801$
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Nancy Shields Kollmann

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280513

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280513.001.0001

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Soslovie, Serfs, and Society on the Move

Soslovie, Serfs, and Society on the Move

(p.355) 17 Soslovie, Serfs, and Society on the Move
The Russian Empire 1450-1801

Nancy Shields Kollmann

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the fate of the peasantry in Russia’s booming eighteenth-century economy. About half of the East Slavic peasants were enserfed to landlords; the other half, the “state peasants,” resided primarily at the northern borders. Population mobility was constant in this century as the empire expanded into fertile southern lands, population grew markedly (not merely from territorial expansion), and the economy diversified. Landlords transferred peasants to better lands or to factory labor; state peasant villages moved in toto or dispatched members to trade and industry to send home their earnings. Some peasants, even in serfdom, found opportunities to prosper, while others were subjected by their landlords or communes to harsher labor conditions in agriculture and industry. Passive resistance continued as typical of peasant societies, but violent rebellion also broke out in the Urals and Volga led by Cossack Emelian Pugachev.

Keywords:   serfdom, resistance, population movement, black earth regions, demographic growth, industry, Bashkirs, garrison troops, state peasants, communes

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