In Peter Kolchin’s Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, the reader gets a comparison of American slavery and Russian serfdom. For the most part, he shows where there are significant similarities between the two. The exploration of these similarities between the two different slaveries enlightened me.
For example, Kolchin stated something that I did not know before: in some parts of the thirteen colonies, such as Virginia, there were periods where the issue of race with slavery was a non-issue.… Read the rest here
Slavery in the United States and serfdom in Russia were simultaneously the dominant sources of production in their respective nations. The institutions differed greatly in their economic and political motivations and their societal repercussions, but according to Peter Kolchin’s book Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, both systems developed from a high land to population ratio. Many social scientists have proposed the idea that compulsory labor is often borne from such a ratio coupled with an expansion of agricultural production.… Read the rest here
While the two systems of human bondage appear significantly different, they are more similar that most realize. At the basis for both systems was the shortage of labor. For the Russian system, this was less prominent until the Mongol period. Mongolian conquest, Mongolian centralization of the state, and plague caused population shifts, forcing the nobility to largely abandon the indentured servitude systems that had been used for centuries, replacing it with serfdom, where the workers tied to land, rather than an individual. … Read the rest here
When first coming to the understanding of serfdom in Russia, many draw comparison to slavery in the Americas; however, there are subtle differences between these two institutions. Although both were instilled for agricultural labor, slavery had always set humans as the property of their owners. Serfdom, on the other hand, tied serfs to the land, which in turn tied them to the owners of that land, be them nobles, the church, or the tsar, himself. Slaves were never permitted to leave their masters unless they had been granted freedom, as they were physical property. … Read the rest here
At the very beginning of his reign, Nicholas I faced rebellion as his succession to the throne was called into question. 3,000 members of the Russian military stood against the state on the date which subjects were to pledge fielty to the new emperor.
As Alexander I had no heirs before his sudden death, the next logical successor was his brother Constantine. Constantine was favored by Russian subjects as they viewed him to be more liberalized, mainly because he was living in Poland and isolated from St.… Read the rest here
The Emancipation Manifesto was established in 1861 during the reign of Alexander II. While this appeared to be a sudden, rash decision, in reality, the movement was quite logical. Russia’s pitiful defeat in the Crimean War revealed to officials the blatant inadequacies in the Russian governmental system. Eager to grow and develop industry and subsequently the military and political power, the abolishment of serfdom seemed a practical option. This would allow people who had been previously tied to the land to branch out and help jumpstart a market economy in Russia.… Read the rest here
The reading for today was a except from Dmytryshyn and contained a deceleration from Alexander II the then tzar of Russia freeing the surfs from their burden. In the deceleration he says that he with the cooperation and assistance of the nobles have devised a method of freeing the surfs without violating the nobles rights. They decide to free the surfs in two years. And that any freed surfs will receive some land and a stipend from the noble they were serving.… Read the rest here
The emancipation of serfs and serfdom in 1861 was forced due to the realization that Russia was far more backwards in compared to other major European powers which prevented them from industrializing at the rate necessary. Although serfdom was far more prevalent in the South than the North due to the availability of healthy land and soil, it did decrease slightly between 1835 and 1858 based on the census taken these two years. Once Alexander II created The Emancipation Manifesto, he enabled Russia to move more towards modernization by completely freeing those who had been subjected to servitude for generations.… Read the rest here
Serfdom in Russia was such an important phenomenon because, like P. Kolchin mentions in his book, peasants “were the essence of” Russia “and 90 percent of its population.” Were the serfs really slaves, like P. Kolchin implies? He states that even some respectable Russian writers and historians referred to the serfs as slaves. I believe that this meant that the life conditions of serfs in Russia were very hard, and in this respect compared to the slaves in the United States.
… Read the rest here
There are interesting parallels between Russian serfdom and the form of slavery found in the Americas. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Russian serfdom changed dramatically. The beginning of the 16th century brought economic prosperity to Russia, but from the 1560’s into the early 1600’s Russia was struck by many brutal periods of chaos that combined to cause large reforms in serfdom. These reforms drastically restricted the movement of the serfs and turned serfs from peasants into property.… Read the rest here