In early Russia, the vast majority of peasants are free. More precisely, the majority of the population, since with the strengthening of the central power all the estates are gradually becoming enslaved. It is about the North-Eastern Russia, Vladimir-Moscow, which became Russia. The attachment of peasants, restricting freedom of movement, has been known since the 14th century. It is noteworthy: at the same time nobles are first mentioned.
The nobleman (for the time being the son of the boyars rather) received for service a limited amount of land. And perhaps not too fertile. The man, as they say, is looking for where is better. In the frequent years of hunger, the peasants could easily move to better land, for example, to a larger landowner. Moreover, in the very hungry years, a rich landowner could support the peasants thanks to serious reserves. More and better land - higher yield. You can buy more land, better quality. You can get the best agricultural equipment and seed.
Large landowners both deliberately lured away the peasants, and seemed to be simply captured and taken to themselves. And of course, the peasants themselves habitually migrated. In addition, large landowners often, partially or fully, exempt the new migrants from taxes.
In general, it is more profitable to live in large lands or on “black” lands. And feed the serving nobles need. And basically enslavement went in their interests.
Traditionally, the farmer and the landowner entered into a lease agreement. It seems that at first the tenant could drive off at any time, then the settlement and departure timed on certain days. Traditionally - the end of the agricultural year, autumn: Pokrov, Yuryev day. In the 15−16. the government, meeting the nobility, restricted the peasant transition to the week before and the week after St. George's Day.
The forced strengthening of the “fortress” occurred during the reign of Godunov (in the reign of Fyodor Ivanovich and Boris Godunov proper). A number of crop failures and mass hunger. Peasants run in search of elemental feed. They run primarily from poor landowners.
But in order.
1497 - the establishment of St. George's Day as the only term for the transition of the peasants.
1581 - Decree on Reserved Years, specific years in which there is no transition even on St. George’s Day.
The beginning of the 1590s - the universal abolition of St. George's Day. A temporary measure due to a difficult situation.
1597 - summer lesson, 5-year-old search for runaway peasants. The farmer lives in a new place for more than 5 years - he is left. Apparently, he settled down, it is no longer necessary to touch ...
Then Smoot, ruin - and again the need to provide the noblemen with land and workers.
Noble support is more than necessary! Firstly, it is still the main military force. Secondly, the Romanovs were elected to the kingdom with the active participation of the nobility. Thirdly, it was the nobility that manifested itself in the Time of Troubles, by and large, an independent force. Fourthly, Zemsky Sobor assemblies are still being assembled in the 17th century.
Finally, the normal process of the establishment of autocracy is going on again. Nobles are the main pillar of the throne. And since the importance of the nobility is growing - the laws relating to the attachment of the peasants are becoming increasingly tougher.
1649 - Cathedral Code. The code of laws that remained relevant, as it turned out later, was for ... 200 years (the Decembrists were tried in accordance with the Council Code!). Cancel 5-year spying; the found peasant returns to the landowner, regardless of the time elapsed since the time of his departure. Serfdom becomes hereditary ...
The transition from the local militia to regular troops does not negate the need for estates. A standing army is expensive! In fact, this is also in Europe one of the main reasons for the slow transition to permanent armies. To keep an army in peacetime is expensive! What hired that recruit.
Nobles actively go to the civil service, especially since the administrative apparatus is growing.
It is beneficial for the government if officers and officials feed from the estates. Yes, the pay is paid - but unstable. Already under Catherine II, feeding bribes were almost officially allowed. Not out of kindness or naivety, but because of a budget deficit. So the estate is the most convenient way for the state to provide the nobles.
Under Peter I, serfs were forbidden to voluntarily engage in military service, which exempted them from serfdom.
Under Anna Ioannovna, the prohibition to go out into the fields and enter into payoffs and contracts without the permission of the landowner.
Under Elizabeth, the peasants are excluded from the oath of the emperor.
The time of Catherine II is the apogee of enslavement. It is also the “golden age” of the nobility. Everything is interconnected! Nobles are exempt from compulsory service and have become a privileged class. So they do not receive a salary!
During the reign of Catherine, nobles distributed land and about 800 thousand souls of serfs. These are men's souls! Multiply, conditionally, by 4. How many came out? That’s it, and she ruled for more than 30 years ... It was not by chance that the biggest uprising in Russia, Pugachev, took place in her reign. It, by the way, was never a peasant — but the serfs actively participated in it.
1765 - the right of nobles to exile serfs to hard labor. Without trial.
1767 - a ban on serfs to complain to the landowner.
All the emperors after Catherine II tried to alleviate the situation of the peasants! And that "serfdom" was abolished only in 1862 - just before it could provoke a powerful social explosion. But the cancellation was prepared by Nicholas I. In fact, his entire government was working on the preparation, the search for opportunities, etc.
Paul I established (rather recommended) a 3-day corvee; prohibited the sale of domestic and landless peasants; banned the sale of peasants without land — that is, as slaves; forbade crushing the family of serfs; again allowed the serfs to complain to the landlords!
Alexander I issued a decree on "free farmers", allowing landowners to free the peasants. Few people took advantage of them - but this was the very beginning! Under him, the development of measures for the liberation from serfdom began. As usual, Alexey Andreevich Arakcheev was engaged in it. Which, as usual, was against - but did an excellent job. Provided, in particular, the redemption of peasants by the treasury - with 2 tenths of land. Few - but at least something, for that time and the first project is more than serious!
Nicholas I sees the main support already raznochintsev, bureaucracy. He seeks to get rid of the noble influence on politics. And realizing that the liberation of the peasants would blow up the society, he was actively preparing for the future liberation. Yes, and the actual measures were! Albeit very careful.
The peasant question has been discussed from the very beginning of the reign of Nicholas I. Although it was officially stated at the beginning that there will be no changes in the position of the peasants. Really - more than 100 decrees concerning peasants!
Landowners recommended legal and Christian treatment of peasants; the ban to give serfs to factories; exile in Siberia; split up families; to lose the peasants and pay their debts ... and so on. Not to mention the development of release projects.
There is a massive impoverishment of the nobles (the ruin of the order of 1/6 landlord families!). Land for sale, mortgaged. Under the rule of Alexander II, a mass of lands with people passed to the state.
Liberation, and therefore succeeded!
And the last. "Serfdom" was not. That is, the term itself appeared in the 19th century in academic circles. There was no “right” as some kind of law, decree, article. There were a number of measures over the centuries, gradually attaching the peasants to the land. The land was transferred to landowners, they very gradually gained strength ... There was no single law, there was no “right” as such!
Nevertheless, serfdom was, in fact, at its apogee - on the verge of slavery. So it is much more correct to speak not about the right, but about the serfdom ...