The excerpts from The Code of Law of 1649 (Ulozhenie) corroborate what we have been exploring in class. Following the Time of Troubles, which lasted from 1598 to 1613, Russia’s government changed the way that it treated its people. Because of the Social period during the Time of Troubles the government understood the power of the people and the need to keep them happy. Along with this understanding came mistrust. The government became rightly afraid of uprising and tighter hold on the people of Russia ensued.
As can be expected some of the most prominent codes regarded the church and the Tsar. Treasonous talk involving the Tsar or the government and insolence towards the church was unacceptable. The government and the church were both gaining power while peasants became even more controlled. Laws became most specific and calculated, as did the corresponding punishments. The laws regarding peasant travel became stricter and even spread to other parts of the class system. This was partially caused by Russian Orthodox Church’s fear of other religions and thus reluctance to let people travel to other countries. More severe punishments including Capital and corporal punishment became routine. “Death without mercy” was one of the most common punishments in the law code. Trials were more specific and people could not be punished for the mistakes of their family as long as they were not aware of the rules being broken. Property was still seen as very important and was something that could be taken away as a form of punishment. The forgery of documents became a serious problem along with the issue of counterfeit money. The falsifying of important possessions is not unusual. With the relatively new prevalence of money and documentation comes the need for laws against forgery. All of the laws in The Code of Law of 1649 came about because at some point they were being broken.
How did the people of Russia react to these laws? Were they obeyed? How can we tell if they were used in the society?