V. O. (Vasilii Osipovich) Kliuchevskii.

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forms of private dependency was its non-terminableness at the will of the
slave. He could leave it only at the will of his owner.

In Muscovite Rus there sprang from full slavery several different
forms of mitigated, conditional bondage. Thus from personal servitude
— more especially the servitude of a prikazchik (clerk), tiun (attorney),
or kliuchfiik {?,iey^2ir6) in the household of a master — there arose, at the
close of the fifteenth century, or else at the beginning of the sixteenth,
what was known as dokladnoe kholopstvo or "referred slavery" — so-called
because the bondage deed had to be accompanied by didok/ad or " refer-
ment " to the local naniiestnik or civil governor. This form of slavery
was distinguished from full slavery by the fact that rights over a " re-
ferred " slave varied in their conditions. Sometimes they came to an
end with the death of the master ; sometimes they passed to that master's
children — though not further. Again, I have spoken of zakladnichestvo
or " self-pledging," which arose at various periods, and was governed by
various conditions. Its original and simplest form was a personal
" pledging " or hire under an obligation to work for the receiver and to
live in his household. Neither the zakup of the times of the Russkaia
Pravda ^ nor the zakladen of the appanage period nor the zakladchik
of the seventeenth century were slaves, since their bondage could ter-
minate at the will of the bonded person, whose debt became extinguished
either by its repayment or by the fact of the labour contract having come
to an end. " They shall serve their term, and thence go forth, in that they
have performed their service for the roubles ; but if they shall serve not
their term, they shall render all " {i.e. they shall return the whole of the
money lent). So runs a decree of the fifteenth century. Other pledge-
contracts there were whereby the zakladchik was not bound to extinguish
his debt by any measure of service, but only to pay the interest in service
("to serve for usury") and, on the expiry of the agreed term, return the
istina or borrowed capital. Such a " loan contract " was, in ancient Rus,
known by the borrowed Jewish name of kabala ; and the personal depen-
dency which arose out of an obligation to " serve for usury " was confirmed
by a deed which, to distinguish it from the loan kabala accompanied by
a personal pledging under a contract of labour, was known either as a
sluzhilaia kabala (service kabala) or a kabala za rost sluzhiti (a kabala of

1 See vol. i. p. i86.


service as usury [interest]). It is from the close of the fifteenth century
that persons figuring as kabalnie first begin to make their appearance.
Yet not until long afterwards do we remark in them any signs of actual
kabala bondage. In those days a kabala entered into on the strength of
a personal " pledging " was essentially a zazhivaia kabala^ or a kabala which
gave the zakladchik the right to work off his debt without interest ; whereas
a rostovaia or sluzhilaia kabala (" usury " or service kabala) compelled
the bondsman to work off the interest in household service, without
thereby becoming emancipated from his obligation to return also the capital
within the stipulated term. Such, then, were the kabalnie who figure in
documents previous to the middle of the sixteenth century, and they were
the only kabalnie of whom the Sudebnik of 1550 — which code fixed fifteen
roubles (700 to 800 roubles in modern currency) as the extreme limit of
a loan advanced upon such a personal " pledging " — had cognisance.
Also, from a law of 1560 it is clear that kabalnie under a rostovaia or
sluzhilaia kabala could be sued for the repayment of their debt : a sure
sign that they were not yet become " bonded " persons or serfs, but still
remained "pledgers" who possessed the right to redeem themselves if
ever they should be able to do so. Also, we learn from the same law that
hitherto there had been kabalnie who, if unable to repay their kabala
loan, were wont to request their master-creditors to take them either
into full or into " referred " slavery. The law of which I am speaking
forbids this course, and prescribes that, as in former times, insolvent
kabalnie shall be handed over to their creditors until they (the kabalnie)
shall have repaid or completely worked off their debt. This prohibition ;
the readiness of kabalnie to enter into full slavery ; the evidence given
by the English Ambassador Fletcher (who, in 1588, was informed, in
Moscow, that the law permitted a creditor to sell the wife and children
of a debtor who had been handed over to him for permanent or temporary
slavery), — all this shows that kabalnie were drawn in two directions — in
the direction of full slavery by their own usage with regard to their masters
and domestic servitude, and in the direction of temporary bondage by the
law. In this struggle sakladnichestvo that was conditionary upon service
in lieu of interest developed into slavery ; yet it did not do so into full
slavery — only into that of kabala. Nevertheless the usually insolvent
condition of persons who thus surrendered themselves to their master
led to their being forced practically to work off their debt in perpetuity ;
whence the kabala caused service in lieu of interest to become an extinc-
tion of the debt itself, and personal zakladnichestvo in return for a loan


to become a personal hiring on the receipt of a sum in advance. This
combination of "interest" service with the extinction of the debt, added
to the personal nature of the kabala obligation itself, became the juridical
basis of the service kabala as a form of bondage. By it also the limit of
kabala service was fixed. As a personal obligation binding one person
to another, sbizhilaia kabala, or the service kabala, lost its validity on the
death of one of the two parties. During the seventeenth century we
meet with kabali which were accompanied by an obligation on the part
of the kabalni " to serve his lord in the household until he (the slave)
shall die." But in the event of the master predeceasing the slave this
condition would have infringed the personal character of the kabala, since
it would have forced the kabalni to serve also the wife and children of the
deceased, as though he were an hereditary chattel. In passing it may be
said that there were two categories of domestic servants for whom a
different event fixed the limit of their service ; that event being the death of
their master. A law of 1556 ordained that a prisoner of war who had been
legally handed over to slavery should serve his master " so long as he
(the master) shall live." The other of the two categories consisted of
persons who, under like circumstances, entered into personal servitude
which included neither a loan nor a hiring. In 1596 we see a service
kabala concluded whereby a free person bound himself to serve a master
without a loan, but merely " upon the substance of the same " until that
master should die ; after which the servant, with his wife and children,
was to be free, and to have left to him and to his children " whatsoever
of substance he shall then hold." In this case we see three conditions
expressive of the personal nature of the service kabala — namely, only
life possession of the kabahii by the master, inalienableness of that posses-
sion by the master, and right on the part of the kabahii to retain what he
should have earned during service. In this case the additional juridical
conditions of the kabala service were established by agreement, since, up
to 1597, we know of no ukazi legalising kababiie or prisoners of war to
exact them at their own pleasure. With the establishment of life duration
only of the sluzhili kabali this form of service acquired the character of
servile bondage, since the kabalni agreed to renounce his right of self-
redemption, and his bondage was to come to an end only with the death,
or at the will, of his master. As early as 1555 an ukaz of that year
presents the sluzhilaia kabala in the light of an act of " bonding " that
was equal both to full and to " referred " slavery, while a testament of
15 7 1 uses the phrase " kababiie kholopi and rabi" in place of the hitherto


customary expression '■^ kabalnie liudi" (or, more simply, ^^ kabaln'ie").
At that period there also became established a well-known form of the
service kabala which lasted, unchanged, for a century. This was the
form whereby a freeman — alone, or with his wife and children — borrowed
of a given person (usually a member of the State service class) a sum of
money for the space precisely of one year, under an understanding that
he should " serve for usury in the household of his master all the days
of the year, and store up money against the term, and for interest to his
master, and serve him daily." This stereotyped formula makes it clear
that the norm followed in its composition was that of a terminable
" pledging " which had a person, not an article, for its subject, and
provided for a possible failure to redeem. Not infrequently, also, zaklad
contracts of this sort resemble service kabali in their conditions, and even
in their phraseology. Thus, in 1636, we find a father surrendering his
son to a creditor " to the end that he may serve for one year," but
under an obligation which required the father, should he fail to repay the
money to term, to surrender the son to the creditor as a permanent house-
hold bondsman.

It was in this position that an ukaz issued to the Kholopii Prikaz
(Government Office of Slaves) on April 25th, 1597, found kabala servi-
tude. The object of the ukaz was to regulate slave-ownership by estab-
lishing a permanent system of its ratification. Yet it introduced nothing
new into the juridical composition oi kabala bondage — it merely confirmed
and formulated its already sufficiently complex relations. After ordaining
that only sluzhilia kabali should have legal force which stood registered
in the kabala records of the Muscovite Court of Slaves, and by the town
clerks of provincial boroughs, the law commanded that kabalnle, with
their wives and such of their children as were named in their kabala
deeds, should remain in slavery, under the terms alike of those deeds
and of deeds of " referment slavery," until the death of their masters ; that
where kabaln'ie proposed to redeem themselves the masters should refuse
to accept the money ; and that the Court of Slaves should entertain no
petitions from kholopi on the subject, but hand them over into servitude,
according to the terms of their kabali, until the death of their masters.
As for the children of a kabalni who were named in his deed of contract,
or who should be born during his term of slavery, they were to be bound
to their father's master until the latter's death. Yet among the regula-
tions of this law there were some new features which at least reveal the
covert contempt in which the ruling classes held the people's labour.


Along with kabaln'ie there existed, at that time, certain free-serving men
who served their masters without kabali, as mere freely-hired domestics
— as "wilHng {i.e. voluntary) slaves." Indeed, some of them had served
for ten years, or more, without ever desiring to become their masters'
kabalhie. Consequently they had retained a right which had been
recognised by an ukaz of 1555 — namely, the right of leaving their service
whenever they pleased. But now for such free-serving men the above
law of 1597 appointed a maximum term of service — namely, half a year.
Any man who voluntarily served a master longer than six months was to
surrender himself into kabala to that master, and the latter was thence-
forth to provide him with " food, raiment, and shoes." Karamzin appraises
this ordinance aright where he says that it was not only "a law unworthy
of the name in respect of its unrighteousness," but also a law which had
been published " only that it might please the highly-born dvorianeP
Yet this restriction of free service was not accomphshed without fluc-
tuations of legislation, since, though the Boyar-Tsar, Vassilii Shuiski, had
resort to the law of 1555, the Boyarskaia Duma fixed half a year as the
maximum term of free service, and the Ulozhen'ie shortened this brief
term by one-half. In the ukaz of 1597 there is another regulation
which shows clearly the interests which inspired the authorities under
weak Tsar Theodor. I have said that by a law of 1560 which opposed
the extension of full slavery insolvent kabalhie were forbidden to sell
themselves either into full or into "referred" slavery to their master-
creditors ; but by the above law of 1597 it was decided that absconding
kabalhie^ on apprehension by their masters, might pass into heavier
bondage to those masters if they (the absconders) so willed it. Conse-
quently the last-mentioned of these laws weighted, rather than lightened,
" bonded " servitude. Abraham Palitsin gives us some further details
concerning the legislative tendency, since he tells us that, under Tsar
Theodor, the nobles (more especially the kinsmen and adherents of the
all-powerful minister, Boris Godunov) and the leading dvorian'e were in-
fatuated with a lust for enslaving anyone whom they happened to come
across ; that they enticed men to become slaves by all sorts of kindnesses
and gifts; that they constrained them to " inscribe themselves into service "
{i.e. to bind themselves to become service kabalhie^ by force and torture ;
and that some such persons they would even invite to their houses " but
to drink wine," and when the unsuspecting guest had drained three or
four goblets — well, by that time he had become a slave. After Tsar
Theodor was gone, however, and Boris had succeeded him, there followed


a period of scarcity when the masters saw that they could not possibly
feed such a multitude of menials. Accordingly they bestowed upon some
their freedom, and others they dismissed unfreed ; while a third section
absconded on its own account ; with the result that, during the Period
of Troubles which followed, all this mass of human wealth — human
wealth so heinously acquired, only to be dispersed like dust to the winds
of heaven — repaid with interest its former masters !

I have touched upon the history of kabala servitude only in so far as
is necessary to explain its action upon the fortunes of the seigniorial
peasantry. At first sight it is difficult to discern any points of contact
between two such different social statuses as that of the slave and that
of the peasant, since the one person was a non-taxable individual, and
the other a taxable — the one worked in the household of a master, and
the other on a master's land. Yet in that master lay the points of con-
tact, since he served as a common knot for all the juridical and industrial
relations of the two parties, as well as acted as director of the same. We
have seen that, on the accession of the new dynasty, the relations of the
peasantry to the land and to the landowners still remained indefinite.
A law which Vassilii Shuiski issued in 1607, concerning the personal
attachment of peasantry to their landlords by registered lists, lost, during
the Period of Troubles, its force, and the selo or rural settlement returned
to the system which had become established at the beginning of the
seventeenth century. Peasant contracts continued to be concluded on
the old conditions of voluntary agreement. " He shall do unto me
izdielie^ according unto this writing, even as I will perform unto him
this treaty at his pleasure, and inscribe the same in the records," — so ran
the contracts in question. But the passage of properties from hand to
hand soon caused peasants who were not bound by long residence, or by
any obligations of indebtedness, to be able to remove whither they willed,
and incoming landlords had nothing to do with them or their stock, but
could only " release them utterly " as the documents express it. At the
same time, both starinhie ^^r^i'/Za??!? (old-established peasants who had been
born on their lots or had grown up under one and the same landlord)
and starozhiltsi or " old dwellers " - {krestiane who had exceeded ten years
of settlement) remained where they were, whereas peasantry who had
recently settled with the help of a loan from their landlord could be
transferred, after he had set them up in business, to any other of his
estates. Also, the peasant still worked off the interest on the ssuda or

1 See vol. ii. p. 201. 2 ggg yol. ii. p. 225.


landlord's loan by izdielie or barstchina (agreed labour for the landlord) ;
which liquidation of interest by labour gradually caused the krestianin-
debtor to approximate to the kabala bondsman, since the peasant's izdielie
was personal labour for a master similar to the service of a kabalni " for
usury," except that the latter performed indoor work, and the latter out-
door. "He shall go unto \\^tdvor, and shall there do the work of the
same" — so it is phrased in contracts. Industrial similarity led also to
juridical approximation. As soon as there became legally established the
idea that kabala obligation extended not only to the acts, but also to the
person, of the kabalni, and made him a bondsman, the idea began more
and more to make its way into the minds of private landowners, and into
their relations with their peasantry. It was a notion whereof the general
diffusion received an added impetus from the slave quarter, since the move-
ment of the peasantry towards slavedom met a contrary movement of
slavedom towards peasanthood. Consequently by the side of the peasant-
agriculturalist doing work for a seigniorial establishment there appeared
the household menial converted into an agriculturalist. The Period of
Troubles had swept like a hurricane over the country, and denuded the
central provinces of the bulk of their peasant inhabitants ; which gave
rise to such a crying need for agricultural labour that the private land-
owners were forced to turn to an old resource of theirs, and to seek new
hands among the slave class. That is to say, they now began to settle
their arable estates with household menials, to grant the latter loans in
advance, and to fit them out with cots, implements, and plots of land.
Also, with those slaves they concluded special agreements which, like the
agreements concluded with peasantry, went by the name of ssudnia zapisi
or " loan contracts " ; and in this fashion there arose among slavedom a
rural class which came to be known as zadvornie liudi, for the reason that
such folk lived in special huts behind {za) the homestead {dvor) of their
landlord. It is a class which first figures during the second half of the
sixteenth century, since in deeds of 1570-1580 we meet with establish-
ments called ^^ zadvoria" or '■'■ zadvornia dvorishki^^ — i.e. cots placed
behind the large seigniorial mansions ; and throughout the seventeenth
century the number of this non-free rural class is seen to be continually
on the increase. Thus in agrarian registers for the first half of the century
such persons are scarcely noticeable ; but during the second half of the
century they figure, in many localities, as the customary, as well as the
largest, constituent section of the agricultural population. For instance,
a register of the canton of Bielozersk for the thirties of the seventeenth


century shows us that " peopled " cots belonging to slaves (nor were those
slaves by any means constituted solely of zadvornie liudi) formed rather
less than nine per cent, of all the krestiani, bobili (non-arable-landholding
peasants), and slaves residing in special cots on the estates of the service
landowners; whereas by the year 1678 a similar register shows us that the
local zadvornie liudi alone numbered twelve per cent, of the whole. In
time this class had added to it a section of the seigniorial domestic staffs,
known as dielov'ie liudi or "men of all work." Although we find these
menials described in registers as living in the mansions ol pomiestchiki and
otchinniki, they were identical, in their industrial and juridical position,
with the zadvornie liudi. The latter came of all sections of slavedom, but
more especially of the kabala bondsmen ; yet their position as slave-
homesteaders or holders of cots exercised a certain juridical effect. This
was owing to the fact that a law of 1624 made zadvornie liudi themselves
responsible for any crimes which they might commit, instead of their
masters. Hence, to a certain extent, their substance must have been
looked upon as their own, even if not wholly so. Also, zadvornie liudi
were attached to the person of their landlord by a special method —
namely, by the method that they had to render a "loan contract" to their
landlord, not only if settling *' from freedom " " behind " the seigniorial
mansion, but also if passing thither from the ranks of domestic slavedom.
Thus their contracts created a special form of slavery which served as
a transitional stage between domestic service and peasant agriculture.

In a register for 1628 we find 3. pomiestchik recording that, on z. pustosh
or area of unoccupied land which he had settled with tenants, he had " set
his household kabalnie and old-time folk among the peasantry, and had
accorded unto them a loan." This does not mean that he converted his
slaves into actual kresiiane, for such a change in their position would have
rendered them freemen, and converted them from non-taxable persons
into taxpaying agriculturists — neither of which results would have suited
the pomiestchik. For a long while past it had been the custom to settle
slaves on arable land ; it was a custom which constituted an ordinary
condition of private agrarian industry ; but, until now, it had never been
said of such slaves that they were settled "among the peasantry." To
settle a slave " among the peasantry " was an expression taken, not from
jurisprudence, but from the new practice observed in agrarian relations ;
and it shows us how nearly the krestia?iin had come to approximate to the
kholop. At about the same period there appears also in peasant-land-
owner contracts a purely .y^?/ condition, since in a "loan contract" come


down to us from the year 1628 a freeman binds himself " to Hve with my
master among the peasantry, and to seek my sustenance, nor to depart
thence." This condition of inability of the peasant to remove at will
assumed various forms of expression. Formerly the kresHanin, on settling
upon a plot with the aid of a loan from his landlord, wrote, in his "loan
contract," that, should he depart without first of all fulfilling the obliga-
tions which he had undertaken, the landlord should be free to make him
responsible for the loan and a forfeit in compensation both for the land-
lord's industrial loss and for the landlord's legal expenses in prosecuting
the peasant — but not more. Now, however, the peasant's obligation to
pay compensation on removal had added it to another condition. " He,
my hosudar, shall be free to recover me thence unto himself"; "Hence-
forth I will dwell upon this portion as a kresiianin, and the holder thereof,
and a renderer of /iaglo " ; " Henceforth I will dwell as a peasant among
the peasantry"; "Henceforth, for the loan which he hath accorded
me, I will abide alway among the peasantry, and depart not thence."
All these forms meant but the one thing — that the peasant renounced,
voluntarily and for ever, his right to depart, and thereby converted the
forfeit which extinguished his contract obligations into a penalty for
desertion which neither restored to him that right nor annulled the
contract. Soon this inability to remove at will became the customary
concluding condition of a "loan contract"; whence also it came to
constitute peasant serfdom (" peasant perpetuity " as it was called in
the seventeenth century), and for the first time communicated to the
" loan contract " the meaning of an act of enserfment which, though
it confirmed the personal dependency of the peasant, failed to give him
the right of all dependents to terminate their condition.

The chronological coincidence of peasant enserfment with the settling
of slaves "among the peasantry " during the third decade of the seven-
teenth century was no mere accident, for both processes had a close
connection with the great break of the day in State and seigniorial

Online LibraryV. O. (Vasilii Osipovich) KliuchevskiiA history of Russia (Volume 3) → online text (page 20 of 43)