Comparing the Sudebnik and the Ulozhenie

The Law Code of 1649 (Ulozhenie) ((( shows us how life has changed for the Muscovites since the Sudebnik of 1497   (( ))  written under the rule of Ivan III. This document, written during Alexis I’s reign, is significantly longer and more detailed than its predecessors, including topics topic’s that we haven’t seen before such as permits to travel to other countries, tolls, ferries, and bridges, and even illegal taverns. There are many differences, but it is crucial to mention the first and second articles, Blasphemers and Heretics and The Sovereign’s Honor and How to Guard his Health respectively. There is some mention of bishops and patriarchs dealing justice on those who offended them in previous documents, but in Article 1 of the Ulozhenie the state punishes blasphemers and anyone who interrupts a church liturgy with whipping or even death. This illustrates how truly the church and state become one after Mikhail Romanov instated his imprisoned father as the Patriarch of Moscow and how it has continued this way through Alexis’s time.

Article 2 is especially important because it gives many details about traitors who wish to do harm to the Sovereign or even think about harming him. If a man is investigated and is found to have “malicious thought” against the Tsar, he should be executed. This control of thought is very reminiscent of Big Brother and the fact that the sovereign desires total control over his subjects illustrates how there must have been little control over the population at this time. Acts against the Tsar are not even mentioned in the Sudebnik, almost as if no one would dare harm their Grand Prince. This new need for control is certainly valid, given this was written after the oprichnina and the Time of Troubles. People were starting to question this idea of hierarchy and rebellions were becoming more and more common, so this is Alexei’s way to halt rebellion in its tracks. This is especially important for him to do since his family was still new to the throne and some people, especially the boyars, didn’t see him as a valid Tsar.


1. How has the idea of owning land and property shifted from the Pravda Russkaia and the Sudebnik to the Ulozhenie?

2. The Sudebnik talks a lot about the minute details of fines whereas the Ulozhenie practically doesn’t mention it  at all. What do you think is the reason behind this?