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Condition in Russia before the Revolution




Compared to other European nations, Russia was politically backward, during the thirteenth century. Russia was partly semi barbaric and partly feudal. The institution of serfdom, dates from the middle of the sixteenth century. By the turn of the next century the serfs became bound to the lords whose lands they occupied. Russian serfs were no different from the slaves. It has been observed that ‘the Negroes on the American plantations were happier than the Russian private serfs’. The serfs had no right of redress against their master who could deport him to Siberia or put him up for public sale. The condition of the serfs, comprising nearly one-half of the population, was degrading. The educated class was in favour of abolition of serfdom.

Know a little more about Serfs and Serfdom
Serfs were labourers who were bound to the land; they formed the lowest social class of the feudal society. Serfs were also defined as people in whose labour landowners held property rights.

Serfdom is the socio-economic status of peasants under feudalism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery seen primarily during the Middle Ages in Europe. Serfdom was the enforced labour of serfs on the fields of landowners, in return for protection and the right to work on their leased fields.

Serfdom involved work not only on fields, but various agriculture-related works, like forestry, transportation , crafts and even in production. Manors formed the basic unit of society during this period, and both the lord and his serfs were bound legally, economically and socially.

After the Renaissance, serfdom became increasingly rare in most of Western Europe.

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