Slavery and Serfdom

Both slavery and serfdom developed as a means of labor for agricultural cultivation; however, as time progressed the status of those slaves and serfs became more property oriented with less societal mobility and less of exclusively a labor force (both growing in force as the years went on). The differences stem from how the institutions were created: tied to their “masters” or to the land. Because the serfs were tied to the land their individual liberties declined as the Russian state centralized- more power was given to the tsars who in turn attempted to add loyalties by giving land that contained serfs to noblesĀ (whose power continued to grow over time, so their control of the serfs also broadened). As time progressed it became more obvious that serfs were no longer self- fulfilled through this (as they could be in the past by selling themselves into serfdom for monetary purposes) as they were both tied more harshly to both the land and their owners,

1 thought on “Slavery and Serfdom

  1. I was interested in how the economic climate affected the peasants’ lives and their liberties. From the reading, I gathered that the peasants suffered no matter the economic climate. Economic upturn led to a rising demand for agricultural products, which increased the need for labor and led many landholders to introduce barshchina obligations. Likewise, in economic collapse, peasants were forced to sell themselves into serfdom or leave in search of better livelihood. This worsened labor conditions for the peasants who remained and the shortage of labor led to prohibition of movement. Was there an economic climate that ever resulted in anything good for the Russian peasants? Did the rise of unfree labor go hand-in-hand with any situation, economic collapse as well as economic flourishing?

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