Military Review

Taking the fortress

Taking the fortress

The abolition of serfdom in Russia led to the impoverishment of the peasants and the emergence of a layer of "tramps"

“Fortress” - this word in Russia of the XVII – XIX centuries was called the feudal dependence of the peasant on his landowner. In the 19th century, it was an anachronism — nowhere in Europe did the peasants bear such heavy duties to their landlords, and in a number of European countries serfdom either never did or was already abolished. Serfdom was ineffective and, moreover, periodically led to unrest among the peasants. Alexander I was aware of the need to cancel it - but the sovereign himself did not think of the form in which this reform could be carried out, and his successor, Nicholas I, eventually ceased to consider it necessary. As a result, the preparation and implementation of the reform was forced to take Alexander II into their hands, and she, apparently, turned out to be somewhat belated and inconsistent.

Revolution from below

Alexander II was well aware that the landlords for the most part were against the abolition of serfdom, and wanted to furnish the reform as if its initiative came "from below," from the nobles themselves. Stating the need for reform in his speech delivered by 30 in March 1856 to representatives of the Moscow nobility, he formulated his attitude towards the liberation of the peasants: “It’s better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait for it to start canceling itself from below”. It was an argument that the nobles understood well: even the chief of gendarmes wrote to Nicholas I: “The fortress is a powder cellar under the state”. They felt even more keenly the correctness of the royal words in the five years since the death of Nicholas I: during these years, almost five hundred peasant unrest occurred in the Russian Empire.

Emperor Emperor Alexander II. Photo:

However, like his predecessors, Alexander quickly realized how inert his officials become as soon as it comes to the reform project. At first, the project was prepared by the Ministry of the Interior, which presented the “Note”, which set forth the basic principles: the land on the estate will continue to be considered the property of the landlords, and the peasants will rent it, paying the rent with corvee or rent. Then a special Secret Committee chaired by Alexander took over the project. The committee consisted of former Nikolaev dignitaries who fully shared the views of the late emperor and deliberately delayed the discussion. Alexander was looking for an initiative “from below” that would allow him to begin the practical implementation of the reform.

The necessary excuse was found in the Lithuanian provinces: the Vilna governor-general Nazimov suggested to the local nobility to discuss in what form they would like to introduce the inventory rules defining the duties of the landlord peasants. The question was painful - the rules greatly limited the arbitrariness of landlords in relation to their serfs, and the Lithuanian nobles told Nazimov that they did not see the point in introducing inventory — would it not be better to raise the question of the destruction of serf rights (while retaining their landowners) in the whole empire?

Nazimov came with a petition of Lithuanian nobles to the capital, and Alexander ordered a response rescript in which it was proposed to form provincial committees in the Lithuanian provinces of elected from the nobility, who would discuss ways to liberate the peasants. The rescript basically followed the provisions of the “Note” prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but it clarified that the peasants would not only be able to rent land, but would also have the right to buy out their plots at a certain time. By publishing it, the government burned the bridges behind it — now it was impossible to turn the tide back.

Freedom or improvement of life?

After this declaration of intent, the government proceeded to "replicating re-scripts": the first of them (not counting Vilnius) was given first to the St. Petersburg Governor-General, and then the rescripts and the other governors followed. During the 1858 year, in the 46 provinces where serfdom existed, there were established “committees for improving the life of landlord peasants”. Their name itself is quite eloquent: the government, on the one hand, feared to cause discontent among the landlords, and on the other, did not want to give the peasants premature aspirations.

Despite this caution, the landlords in the mass were against the “improvement in the life” of the peasants: among the provincial committees of the central provinces, only one Tver committee was mainly set up to support the provisions of the rescript. Of the 46 thousands of landlords in Central Russia, only 13 thousands have signed their agreement to follow. But the landowners in the northern, nonchernozem provinces, where the peasants paid dues to their masters, obtained through local and waste fisheries, saw that the reform was quite beneficial for them - provided that the land ransom covered the lost income from the peasant descendants.

The discussion of the provincial committees and the Main Committee that led them (transformed from the Secret) reflected the intensity of the peasant movement in the country. Thus, on April 21, Alexander 1858 approved a program supported by the landlord majority, where the idea of ​​liberating the peasants was crossed out - it was only a matter of softening their situation, but the peasant revolts that broke out in summer forced the government to revise the program. The document, adopted in December of the same year, was intended not only to give the peasants the opportunity to buy out their allotments for permanent use, but also with their own self-government bodies.

The new program, developed by General Yakov Rostovtsev, contained a number of important additions that will further affect the course of the reform - provided for an intermediate state of the peasants who had to buy the land for several years, and also the source of their funding - a special state loan. In this form, the program was sent to the editorial commissions headed by Rostovtsev under the main committee. A furious struggle unfolded around the program - suffice it to say that Rostovtsev himself, a quick-tempered man, acutely surviving a discussion of his program, fell ill on nerves and died without waiting for its implementation. The conservatives again threatened to bury the reform in endless discussions, and in January 1861, in a tough form, Alexander called on the State Council to finish work on the program by the first half of February, so that it could be announced before the start of the field work season: “I repeat, the affair was now over. Now, 4 of the year, how it lasts and excites various fears and expectations both in landowners and peasants. Any further delay can be detrimental to the state. ”

The State Council heeded the demand of the king, and 19 February 1861, Alexander signed the Manifesto “On the Most Gracious Tribute to the Serfs People the Rights of the State of Free Rural Philistines” and its supplement - a number of acts, chief among which was the “Provision on peasants emerging from serfdom”.

Reading the Manifesto on the abolition of serfdom in the village. Photo:
Long awaited release

“The serfdom of the peasants established in the landed estates and on the people of the yard is abolished forever,” said the beginning of the “Provisions”. From now on, the serfs went into the category of “free rural inhabitants”, equaling their rights with the peasants who had gained freedom earlier - now they could not be sold, bought, given, forcibly resettled. They received their own houses and all real estate as personal property, could themselves enter into marriages or any contracts, act in court. The peasants also received freedom of movement and self-government — rural communities, governed by a gathering, united in volosts.

The landowners retained their estates, but were obliged to give the peasants a "manor settled" - a plot next to the house, and besides this extensive allotment of land to the rural community, which distributed it among individual peasant farms.

For the use of the land, the peasants had to serve the serfdom or pay a rent: “In this state, which is transitional, the peasants are called temporarily obliged,” explained the Manifesto. However, the peasants had the right of redemption of the "manor", and the rural communities had the right to redeem the field plots, having agreed with the landowner about the price. In fact, in this case, the state itself paid the landowner a large part (80%) of the redemption money, and the peasants had to reimburse it to the state, contributing 6% of the redemption amount annually for 49 years. The release of the peasants was carried out with the help of a conclusion between landowners and rural communities consisting of their former peasants, statutory charters, which determined the amount of land provided to the peasants for permanent use, and the amount of duties due from them to the landowner.

"The great chain was broken"

The manifesto was read in churches after the mass. His promulgation provoked an angry reaction from the landowners - Nekrasov ridiculed the reaction of the landowners on the example of the comic "Prince Utyatin":

The master's angry voice

In the feast of the courtyard heard;

Ozlylilsya so that in the evening

Enough of his punch!

The peasants' turn came a little later, when they studied the order of redemption payments and calculated that in a little less than half a century, the landlord and the state would have to pay 194% more than if they had money to pay immediately. In addition, the purchase price of the plots often exceeded its market value - in the non-black-earth zone, it had to be paid 2 – 3 times more expensive. The payment of the rent was also unprofitable: the peasants who were temporarily obliged to pay paid as much as their brethren in black earth provinces (on average, about 10 rubles per year), while their land was several times less fertile. A coronation turned out to be more profitable than a turnover: the law limited the stay of 40 in corvee for men and 30 for women. If the peasant had more land than was established in a particular locality, then the surplus was transferred to the landowner.

Beggars near the church. Painting by Ivan Tzorozhnikov

Even during the preparation of the reform, among the serfs there were rumors that they would be set free without land — that is, without means for subsistence. Now the peasants began to refuse to sign charters with the landowners. There was a rumor in the village that the current “freedom” was not real, but real, given by the king, the landowners had hidden from the peasants. In a year, 1176 peasant uprisings swept the empire - more than in the whole previous decade. In more than 2 thousands of villages, the king had to suppress unrest with the help of army units. Major disturbances, for example, occurred in the village of the Abyss of Kazan province, where a local peasant Anton Petrov read the “authentic” manifesto of his own composition to a crowd of five thousand: “Landowner lands — mountains and valleys, ravines and roads, and sand and reed, the forest with them no rod. He will step over from his land - give a good word, did not obey - cut their heads to him, you will receive an award from the king! ”The troops who entered the village opened fire on the crowd, killing fifty people and injuring about eighty.

In general, the reform led to the impoverishment of the peasantry - due to the fact that the landowners took "pieces" of holdings, in total, made up one fifth of all land, the average size of the peasant holdings decreased by about 30%. Its fertility also fell: the landlords willingly exercised their right to independently choose the land given to the peasants for use, giving the scarce allotments to the former serfs, depriving them of the agricultural land needed for grazing and forage for him. The unprofitability of the transition from temporary to “redeemed” felt so acutely that the peasants were in no hurry to change their status. The government was forced to push them to this: by a decree already adopted under Alexander III, all the temporarily obliged peasants were to turn into redemption with 1 in January of 1883.

As for the yard people, who made up more than 6% of the total number of serfs, their fate was even more unenviable: they did not have land, they were left completely without means of livelihood. And it is not without reason that Firs, a lackey, in “The Cherry Orchard” calls the abolition of serfdom a “misfortune”: many courtyards joined the huge army of tramps, the lumpen-proletarians - disasters that have not been seen in Russia for a long time. In short, critics of the reform have repeatedly recalled the words of Pushkin, written by him in a controversy with Radishchev and challenging the idea of ​​the terrible life of the serfs: “Liens are not at all burdensome. The airbag is paid by the world; corvee is defined by law; the rent is not ruinous ... The peasant does what he thinks of, and sometimes it takes him 2000 versts to make money for himself ”.

Despite all these shortcomings of the reform, it was of great importance: Freedom found almost 22 million inhabitants of the country. This contributed to the development of economic relations and society as a whole. Russia has ceased to be a country where "slavery" existed, embarked on the path of a truly civilized power.
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  1. papont64
    papont64 26 November 2015 10: 53
    Millions of ruined peasants poured into the cities, forming the working class and the bourgeoisie.
    1. Consul-t
      Consul-t 26 November 2015 11: 08
      Millions of ruined peasants poured into the cities, forming the working class and the bourgeoisie.

      Which ultimately became the wick that set fire to the country in 17.
      So the hope of the master, in this case the king, the people did not justify.
      Everything about us is like through opa, when will we get smarter?
      1. Vend
        Vend 26 November 2015 11: 45
        Quote: Consul-t
        Millions of ruined peasants poured into the cities, forming the working class and the bourgeoisie.

        Which ultimately became the wick that set fire to the country in 17.

        Well, not only that. They became the force that on its shoulders performed the Russian economic miracle after the 1900 year.
        1. The comment was deleted.
        2. vladimirZ
          vladimirZ 27 November 2015 05: 51
          The abolition of serfdom in Russia led to the impoverishment of the peasants and the emergence of a layer of "tramps"
          - from article

          Serfdom, and essentially slavery, up to the peasant trade - the slave trade - is a shame of tsarist Russia, for which half a century later, in 1917, after the "abolition of serfdom," the people paid off with tsarism, the tsarist dynasty and the class of landowners-nobles, destroying them.
          But the most disgusting thing now is that there are still people in modern Russia who are advocating the restoration of a "benevolent monarchy" in a modern manner, with the revival of the "noble class", with a call to the Russian tsarist crown, some not destroyed by time, "offspring royal dynasty ".
          Involuntarily, you think, what would happen if the direct heirs of the royal crown remained alive, how much grief and blood would they bring to the people and Russia?
          1. bober1982
            bober1982 27 November 2015 08: 43
            All those who speak of the restoration of the monarchy in Russia are not nasty, but naive people. There are no legal heirs, all impostors.
            Serfdom was not a disgrace to tsarist Russia, and not the people settled with tsarism, but completely different forces, and with the people themselves, who were deceived and fooled.
            And that this very nation was by 1917. : embittered crowd, pogroms, spontaneous killings of the same landlords, officers, even people who had a neat appearance, employees.
            The assassination of the Tsar and the Tsar’s Family is a purely ritual murder, and there Russians could be counted on the fingers. There was nothing to do with the class issue.
          2. alebor
            alebor 17 November 2016 12: 20
            Of course, the monarchy is an anachronism for modern Russia, but the people who call for its restoration are quite understandable. Their desire is not at all the revival of serfdom, but to obtain a "master" for the country, not a temporary worker elected for several years, who wants to have time to get everything quickly, pump out more and do good to the "favorites" during his short reign - and what will happen after him is no longer his business; but the one who treats the country as his own home, standing above the party and group interests, the one who leaves the country as inheritance to his children and therefore ruling not only from the interests of today, but thinking about the prospects for posterity. There is a certain rationale in such views.
  2. Vend
    Vend 26 November 2015 10: 54
    Thoughtless adherence to Western opinions led to the difficulty that arose after the abolition of serfdom. It was impossible to please all classes. However, Russia has recovered. After the 1900 year, according to historical data, the Russian peasantry wrote out a huge number of scientific agricultural journals.
  3. dmi.pris
    dmi.pris 26 November 2015 10: 55
    Very interesting article. As usual with us .. we wanted the best, but it turned out ...
  4. Nikita Orlov
    Nikita Orlov 26 November 2015 11: 08
    The wretchedness of the Russian "elite" is in the endless desire to live at someone's expense inside, and outside, they say, their elites rule, there is no reason to go. Bourgeois.
  5. Quzmi4
    Quzmi4 26 November 2015 11: 13
    The author is right: the introduction of freedoms in Russia only leads to the impoverishment of the vast masses of the people ...
    For those who are watching and not seeing - this is sarcasm!

    In general, an interesting trend can be seen: centuries are going on, and our reforms are either stupid, or belated, or brought to the point of absurdity by the bureaucratic apparatus or zaboterny to zero.
  6. dr. sem
    dr. sem 26 November 2015 11: 16
    The serf is not a slave. Learn to understand the socio-political aspects. The landowner depended on his serfs, and the peasant on the landowner. Such freaks as Saltychikha in Russia were few. In fact, Russian serfdom is a special form of social (largely mutually beneficial) partnership.
    A peasant received a yard with cattle from a landowner ... On a bare bump, peasants did not sit naked at the landowners. Meaning???
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 26 November 2015 11: 27
      "A serf is not a slave ... The landowner depended on his serfs, and the peasant depended on the landowner." ////

      But would you personally prefer to be who: landowner or serf? smile
      1. dr. sem
        dr. sem 26 November 2015 12: 33
        Are you sure that you yourself are not a "serf" ??? No credits? No debts? Are you sure of the future?
        Oh yes ... I did not look at the flag of the Israel tribe ... We are "goy" for you, and you are so "special" ... what are you, what are you ...
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 26 November 2015 14: 07
          for dr. sem:

          There are loans. But I cry without much stress.
          There is a normal job, and you can find another similar one if you suddenly get fired.
          I'm sure of tomorrow. I am definitely not a serf.
          But not a landowner, fortunately. fellow
          1. dr. sem
            dr. sem 26 November 2015 15: 09
            Happy for you. And then be happy in your little world ...
    2. Sergey S.
      Sergey S. 26 November 2015 11: 48
      Quote: dr. sem
      The serf is not a slave. Learn to understand the socio-political aspects.

      I agree.
      The position of a slave, for example, in Greece was determined by law ...
      The serf was completely dependent on the landowner ...
      Read about court cases against landowners.
      To search for such abominations in our history.

      Or at least read Nikolai Semenovich Leskov ...

      The abolition of serfdom is a belated step.
      It was necessary to abolish Peter I ...
      But he, on the contrary, enslaved the last free ...
      1. dr. sem
        dr. sem 26 November 2015 12: 30
        That is the meaning of "the liberation of the serfs." Get rid of the burdensome responsibility for the peasants, leave them "free" but with bare Zh.O.P.O. (without land in fact), force the "free" half a century to "redeem" beggarly plots, squeeze them out of the village into the city in order to turn in "industrial slaves" (there were NO labor laws), and now in "credit" and "mortgage" slaves ...
        Summary: with the course of history, only the form of slavery changes, and SLAWFUL IS AND WILL BE.
      2. moskowit
        moskowit 26 November 2015 19: 29
        Peter the Third, by his decree "On the granting of liberty and freedom to the entire Russian nobility" dated 18.02.1762/XNUMX/XNUMX, laid the foundation for the liberation of the Russian people from serfdom in various forms. And do not kill his "grateful" people, the next step could have been taken in relation to the Russian peasantry. The name of this unfortunate king was very popular among the people. It was not for nothing that Emelyan Pugachev called himself Peter Fyodorovich ...
    3. Retvizan
      Retvizan 30 October 2016 17: 25
      Quote: dr. sem
      The serf is not a slave. Learn to understand the socio-political aspects. The landowner depended on his serfs, and the peasant on the landowner. Such freaks as Saltychikha in Russia were few. In fact, Russian serfdom is a special form of social (largely mutually beneficial) partnership.

      This is the first time I've seen such a formulation. Maybe before the cancellation of St. George's Day there was still a "partnership" (but I don't think so).
      Reading literature, for example (Emelyan Pugachev), the terrible situation of the peasants and complete lack of rights (they beat them to death, they sold "partners," they exchanged them for dogs ...) (Peter the Great), they hung, changed because of their cleverness, attributed to factories forever ..
      So a partnership, when one of the "partners" can be beaten to death, marry forcibly, exchanged for a dog, take whatever you want ... an excellent partnership! request
      In ancient Rome, it was impossible to sue a slave (he is the property of the owner, therefore the owner simply transferred the property from one pocket to another). And here it was also possible to judge ... a well-known result.
      This is the first time I see the justification of "Russian serfdom". This is how it was justified under Catherine II ... Russia rests on this ... so nizya sovereign mother ... the rabble is in check
  7. Mr shrek
    Mr shrek 26 November 2015 11: 20
    Now the same thing is happening with loans, especially with mortgage loans, that's right one to one.
  8. ermak.sidorov
    ermak.sidorov 26 November 2015 12: 03
    a little less than half a century of payments will be due to the landowner and the state by 194% more than if they had the money to pay immediately

    Still, the tsar-father still treated people more humanly than modern bourgeois bankers
  9. bober1982
    bober1982 26 November 2015 12: 07
    The article did not like. The author rightly noted the inconsistency of Emperor Alexander II, and as a result concludes that the power embarked on a civilized path.
    They only arranged chaos. I liked the words of the old lackey Firs (the author successfully cited) - some misfortunes from such freedom. You can’t say better.
  10. ermak.sidorov
    ermak.sidorov 26 November 2015 12: 07
    I got 220% in a mortgage in just 15 years
    told about this to the Nigerian and Colombian students from the university, they said: "This should not be so!". And I answered them: "And we have =)".
    From 15 years of "slavery" I was saved by a "young family" and an interest-free, not obligatory to return, loan from my mother-in-law ...good health and long life
  11. Basil50
    Basil50 26 November 2015 17: 34
    The process of separating the * elite * from the people is interesting, and the * elite * is always dissatisfied with the people, and this is probably why there is such a brazen robbery of the people to which they themselves belong, the right to robbery goes without saying.
    The Romanovs, after gaining access to the throne, for centuries * worked * on substantiating their * divine right * and, of course, on the enslavement of RUSSIA. After the destruction of the archives, they appropriated enormous values ​​and were able to buy the loyalty of the nobility, hence the dependence of the nobles. Only * the era of coups * gave the nobles * noble liberties *. The Romanovs destroyed the history of RUSI-RUSSIA with unprecedented bitterness and hatred. The main ally in the enslavement of RUSSIA was the church and naturally entered state administration and became state as an accomplice in enslaving the people. Today, churchmen do not discuss and certainly do not condemn the slave trade of RUSSIAN peasants and slavery. But dozens of saints are also stamped on * morality * reasoned and * taught * life.
  12. bober1982
    bober1982 27 November 2015 09: 05
    The church never entered into public administration, and was never state. From what archives did you learn all this?
    The Romanovs (as you put it) were rather cool towards the Church, and where does the main representative in the enslavement of the people (?!) The bright representative of the Romanovs (as you put it) Tsar Peter I himself called the enslaved people of Russia the antichrist on the throne.
    About how the clergy talk about morality, it is not clear what is bad here.
  13. Warrior2015
    Warrior2015 11 December 2015 14: 45
    In general, I would have made Serfdom Abolition Day a national holiday! This truly grand event deserves it! 90% of the population gained personal freedom, freedom of movement and other personal rights! Isn't this a miracle?

    Quote: dr. sem
    The serf is not a slave. Learn to understand the socio-political aspects. The landowner depended on his serfs, and the peasant on the landowner. Such freaks as Saltychikha in Russia were few. In fact, Russian serfdom is a special form of social (largely mutually beneficial) partnership.

    Yes, as one comrade has already noted, this is ridiculous. And how else to call the state of people, when their own, Orthodox, were sold in bulk (and before Paul I - thanks to him, he forbade the destruction of families! - also at retail)?!? What about the announcements in Russian newspapers of the 18th century of such content "I will exchange a family of serfs for a pack of thoroughbred greyhounds"? Not slaves, not?

    Quote: bober1982
    The author rightly noted the inconsistency of Emperor Alexander II, and as a result concludes that the power embarked on a civilized path.
    Russia has indeed embarked on the path of civilization, and, having passed the stage of "wild capitalism," and would have followed it further, if not for 1917. And after 1990 our country, after the abolition of a sort of secondary serfdom, had to start over again - and we also passed the "stage of wild capitalism" ...
  14. Retvizan
    Retvizan 30 October 2016 17: 34
    The process is certainly necessary but belated ..
    However, I understand that in the climatic conditions of Russia, before taking control of the southern territories (chernozem), it was unprofitable to cultivate non-chernozem land by labor of civilians. Only serf slave labor is beneficial. However, the serfdom should have been abolished during the time of Catherine 2, after the 2nd Turkish company. Fruitful and favorable climatic (though not yet developed) territories would make it possible to ensure the same production of food products with civilian occupation as non-black earth with slave territory.
    But even under Catherine, it was rather late ... and under Alexander 2 and after the Crimean (Eastern War) where they humiliatingly showed the superiority of technology over heroism, but backward serfdom.
    In general, Russia was always unlucky with the climate - and it was the climate that served the long slavery of the peasants. However, the capture of the necessary territories in the south solved the problem of the abolition of serfdom a hundred years earlier.