The Free Serfs


These law codes follow the emancipation of the serfs causing much of the information and prevalence to revolve around this event. The redistribution of land and property as well as the way it should be distributed is frequently discussed throughout all the codes. This is not surprising as with the freeing of the serfs, a huge section of the population, comes the problem of property dispersal across the country. The nobles of Russia previously owned and controlled a huge majority of the property in Russia. The freeing of the serfs does not take away the noble lands but it does change the way in which they are controlled.

Also discussed are the management and help that are involved in charity work. A new appreciation for helping those less fortunate is notable in the codes. The creation of institutions specifically for this task shows the awareness of this problem not just in Russian society but also in the government. Economic interests are also more prominent in these codes. Smaller villages and towns are becoming more involved in the economic structure of Russia.

How did the introduction of the economic world influence the ideals and minds of the Russian peasants? Did the international influence brought with trade accelerate the emancipation of the serfs?

How did nobles react to the emancipation of the slaves? How quickly were these new ideas accepted?





Kaiser, Daniel H., and Gary Marker. Reinterpreting Russian History: Readings, 860-1860’s. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.

Ask not what Russia can do for you but what you can do for Russia

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. In return they must fulfill their obligations to the nobles. The declaration also states that any surfs not working the fields but instead otherwise employed should work out an arrangement with their noble. The peasants office and the organization of peace were to be set up to determine the fairness of the proceedings.

The most interesting part of the deceleration was the last section were the now freed surfs are spoken to directly. In it they are told to act with in a appropriate way and bear their new obligations. I believe that this is the Russian version of “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. The government is telling the surfs to serve the same roles they are now and not to forfeit their jobs and move to a better location.