Serfdom is the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism, and similar systems. It was a condition of debt bondage, which developed during the Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century.
As with slaves, serfs could be bought, sold, or traded (with some limitations as they generally could be sold only together with land, with the exception of the kholops in Russia and villeins in gross in England who could be traded like regular slaves), abused with no rights over their own bodies, and could not leave the land they were bound to. Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land. In return they were entitled to protection, justice, and the right to cultivate certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Serfs were often required not only to work on the lord's fields, but also in his mines and forests and to labor to maintain roads. The manor formed the basic unit of feudal society, and the lord of the manor and the villeins, and to a certain extent serfs, were bound legally: by taxation in the case of the former, and economically and socially in the latter.
The decline of serfdom in Western Europe has sometimes been attributed to the widespread plague epidemic of the Black Death, which reached Europe in 1347 and caused massive fatalities, disrupting society. The decline had begun before that date. Serfdom became increasingly rare in most of Western Europe after the medieval renaissance at the outset of the high Middle Ages. But, conversely it grew stronger in Central and Eastern Europe, where it had previously been less common (this phenomenon was known as "later serfdom").
In Eastern Europe the institution persisted until the mid-19th century. In the Austrian Empire serfdom was abolished by the 1781 Serfdom Patent; corvée continued to exist until 1848. Serfdom was abolished in Russia in the 1860s. In Finland, Norway and Sweden, feudalism was never fully established, and serfdom did not exist; however, serfdom-like institutions did exist in both Denmark (the stavnsbånd, from 1733 to 1788) and its vassal Iceland (the more restrictive vistarband, from 1490 until 1894).
According to medievalist historian Joseph R. Strayer, the concept of feudalism can also be applied to the societies of ancient Persia, ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt (Sixth to Twelfth dynasty), Islamic-ruled Northern and Central India, China (Zhou dynasty and end of Han dynasty) and Japan during the Shogunate. James Lee and Cameron Campbell describe the Chinese Qing dynasty (1644–1912) as also maintaining a form of serfdom.
Melvyn Goldstein described Tibet as having had serfdom until 1959, but whether or not the Tibetan form of peasant tenancy that qualified as serfdom was widespread is contested by other scholars. Bhutan is described by Tashi Wangchuk, a Bhutanese civil servant, as having officially abolished serfdom by 1959, but he believes that less than or about 10% of poor peasants were in copyhold situations.
The United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery also prohibits serfdom as a practice similar to slavery.
The word serf originated from the Middle French serf and was derived from the Latin servus ("slave"). In Late Antiquity and most of the Middle Ages, what are now called serfs were usually designated in Latin as coloni. As slavery gradually disappeared and the legal status of servi became nearly identical to that of the coloni, the term changed meaning into the modern concept of "serf". Serfdom was coined in 1850.
Serfs had a specific place in feudal society, as did barons and knights: in return for protection, a serf would reside upon and work a parcel of land within the manor of his lord. Thus the manorial system exhibited a degree of reciprocity.
One rationale held that a serf "worked for all" while a knight or baron "fought for all" and a churchman "prayed for all"; thus everyone had a place. The serf was the worst fed and rewarded, but at least he had his place and, unlike slaves, had certain rights in land and property.
A lord of the manor could not sell his serfs as a Roman might sell his slaves. On the other hand, if he chose to dispose of a parcel of land, the serfs associated with that land stayed with it to serve their new lord; simply speaking, they were implicitly sold in mass and as a part of a lot. This unified system preserved for the lord long-acquired knowledge of practices suited to the land. Further, a serf could not abandon his lands without permission, nor did he possess a saleable title in them.
A freeman became a serf usually through force or necessity. Sometimes the greater physical and legal force of a local magnate intimidated freeholders or allodial owners into dependency. Often a few years of crop failure, a war, or brigandage might leave a person unable to make his own way. In such a case he could strike a bargain with a lord of a manor. In exchange for gaining protection, his service was required: in labour, produce, or cash, or a combination of all. These bargains became formalized in a ceremony known as "bondage", in which a serf placed his head in the lord's hands, akin to the ceremony of homage where a vassal placed his hands between those of his overlord. These oaths bound the lord and his new serf in a feudal contract and defined the terms of their agreement. Often these bargains were severe.
A 7th-century Anglo Saxon "Oath of Fealty" states:
By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to N. be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will.
To become a serf was a commitment that encompassed all aspects of the serf's life.
Moreover, the children born to a serf inherited the status of the parent, and were considered born into serfdom at birth. By taking on the duties of serfdom, individuals bound not only themselves but their future progeny.
The social class of the peasantry can be differentiated into smaller categories. These distinctions were often less clear than suggested by their different names. Most often, there were two types of peasants:
Freemen, or free tenants held their land by one of a variety of contracts of feudal land-tenure and were essentially rent-paying tenant farmers who owed little or no service to the lord, and had a good degree of security of tenure and independence. In parts of 11th-century England freemen made up only 10% of the peasant population, and in most of the rest of Europe their numbers were also small.
A villein (or villain) represented the most common type of serf in the Middle Ages. Villeins had more rights and higher status than the lowest serf, but existed under a number of legal restrictions that differentiated them from freemen. Villeins generally rented small homes, with a patch of land. As part of the contract with the landlord, the lord of the manor, they were expected to spend some of their time working on the lord's fields. The requirement often was not greatly onerous, contrary to popular belief, and was often only seasonal, for example the duty to help at harvest-time. The rest of their time was spent farming their own land for their own profit. Villeins were tied to their lord's land and couldn't leave it without his permission. Their lord also often decided who they could marry.
Like other types of serfs, villeins had to provide other services, possibly in addition to paying rent of money or produce. Villeins were somehow retained on their land and by unmentioned manners could not move away without their lord's consent and the acceptance of the lord to whose manor they proposed to migrate to. Villeins were generally able to hold their own property, unlike slaves. Villeinage, as opposed to other forms of serfdom, was most common in Continental European feudalism, where land ownership had developed from roots in Roman law.
A variety of kinds of villeinage existed in Europe in the Middle Ages. Half-villeins received only half as many strips of land for their own use and owed a full complement of labour to the lord, often forcing them to rent out their services to other serfs to make up for this hardship. Villeinage was not, however, a purely uni-directional exploitative relationship. In the Middle Ages, land within a lord's manor provided sustenance and survival, and being a villein guaranteed access to land, and crops secure from theft by marauding robbers. Landlords, even where legally entitled to do so, rarely evicted villeins because of the value of their labour. Villeinage was much preferable to being a vagabond, a slave, or an unlanded labourer.
In many medieval countries, a villein could gain freedom by escaping from a manor to a city or borough and living there for more than a year; but this action involved the loss of land rights and agricultural livelihood, a prohibitive price unless the landlord was especially tyrannical or conditions in the village were unusually difficult.
In medieval England two types of villleins existed-villleins regardant that were tied to land villleins in gross that could be traded separately from land.
In England the Domesday Book, of 1086, uses bordarii (bordar) and cottarii (cottar) as interchangeable terms, "cottar" deriving from the native Anglo-Saxon tongue whereas "bordar" derived from the French.
Status-wise, the bordar or cottar ranked below a serf in the social hierarchy of a manor, holding a cottage, garden and just enough land to feed a family. In England, at the time of the Domesday Survey, this would have comprised between about 1 and 5 acres (0.4 and 2.0 hectares). Under an Elizabethan statute, the Erection of Cottages Act 1588, the cottage had to be built with at least 4 acres (0.02 km2; 0.01 sq mi) of land. However, the later Enclosures Acts (1604 onwards) removed the cottars' right to any land: "before the Enclosures Act the cottager was a farm labourer with land and after the Enclosures Act the cottager was a farm labourer without land".
The bordars and cottars did not own their draught oxen or horses. The Domesday Book showed that England comprised 12% freeholders, 35% serfs or villeins, 30% cotters and bordars, and 9% slaves.
Kholops were the lowest class of serfs in the medieval and early modern Russia. They had status similar to slaves, and could be freely traded.
The last type of serf was the slave. Slaves had the fewest rights and benefits from the manor. They owned no tenancy in land, worked for the lord exclusively and survived on donations from the landlord. It was always in the interest of the lord to prove that a servile arrangement existed, as this provided him with greater rights to fees and taxes. The status of a man was a primary issue in determining a person's rights and obligations in many of the manorial court-cases of the period. Also, runaway slaves could be beaten if caught.
The usual serf (not including slaves or cottars) paid his fees and taxes in the form of seasonally appropriate labour. Usually a portion of the week was devoted to ploughing his lord's fields held in demesne, harvesting crops, digging ditches, repairing fences, and often working in the manor house. The remainder of the serf's time he spent tending his own fields, crops and animals in order to provide for his family. Most manorial work was segregated by gender during the regular times of the year; however, during the harvest, the whole family was expected to work the fields.
A major difficulty of a serf's life was that his work for his lord coincided with, and took precedence over, the work he had to perform on his own lands: when the lord's crops were ready to be harvested, so were his own. On the other hand, the serf of a benign lord could look forward to being well fed during his service; it was a lord without foresight who did not provide a substantial meal for his serfs during the harvest and planting times. In exchange for this work on the lord's demesne, the serfs had certain privileges and rights, including for example the right to gather deadwood – an essential source of fuel – from their lord's forests.
In addition to service, a serf was required to pay certain taxes and fees. Taxes were based on the assessed value of his lands and holdings. Fees were usually paid in the form of agricultural produce rather than cash. The best ration of wheat from the serf's harvest often went to the landlord. Generally hunting and trapping of wild game by the serfs on the lord's property was prohibited. On Easter Sunday the peasant family perhaps might owe an extra dozen eggs, and at Christmas a goose was perhaps required too. When a family member died, extra taxes were paid to the lord as a form of feudal relief to enable the heir to keep the right to till what land he had. Any young woman who wished to marry a serf outside of her manor was forced to pay a fee for the right to leave her lord, and in compensation for her lost labour.
Often there were arbitrary tests to judge the worthiness of their tax payments. A chicken, for example, might be required to be able to jump over a fence of a given height to be considered old enough or well enough to be valued for tax purposes. The restraints of serfdom on personal and economic choice were enforced through various forms of manorial customary law and the manorial administration and court baron.
It was also a matter of discussion whether serfs could be required by law in times of war or conflict to fight for their lord's land and property. In the case of their lord's defeat, their own fate might be uncertain, so the serf certainly had an interest in supporting his lord.
Within his constraints, a serf had some freedoms. Though the common wisdom is that a serf owned "only his belly" – even his clothes were the property, in law, of his lord – a serf might still accumulate personal property and wealth, and some serfs became wealthier than their free neighbours, although this happened rarely. A well-to-do serf might even be able to buy his freedom.
A serf could grow what crop he saw fit on his lands, although a serf's taxes often had to be paid in wheat. The surplus he would sell at market.
The landlord could not dispossess his serfs without legal cause and was supposed to protect them from the depredations of robbers or other lords, and he was expected to support them by charity in times of famine. Many such rights were enforceable by the serf in the manorial court.
Forms of serfdom varied greatly through time and regions. In some places serfdom was merged with or exchanged for various forms of taxation.
The amount of labour required varied. In Poland, for example, it was commonly a few days per year per household in the 13th century. One day per week per household in the 14th century. Four days per week per household in the 17th century. Six days per week per household in the 18th century. Early serfdom in Poland was mostly limited on the royal territories (królewszczyzny).
"Per household" means that every dwelling had to give a worker for the required number of days. For example, in the 18th century, six people: a peasant, his wife, three children and a hired worker might be required to work for their lord one day a week, which would be counted as six days of labour.
Serfs served on occasion as soldiers in the event of conflict and could earn freedom or even ennoblement for valour in combat. Serfs could purchase their freedom, be manumitted by generous owners, or flee to towns or to newly settled land where few questions were asked. Laws varied from country to country: in England a serf who made his way to a chartered town (i.e. a borough) and evaded recapture for a year and a day obtained his freedom and became a burgher of the town.
Social institutions similar to serfdom were known in ancient times. The status of the helots in the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta resembled that of the medieval serfs. By the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire faced a labour shortage. Large Roman landowners increasingly relied on Roman freemen, acting as tenant farmers, instead of slaves to provide labour.
These tenant farmers, eventually known as coloni, saw their condition steadily erode. Because the tax system implemented by Diocletian assessed taxes based on both land and the inhabitants of that land, it became administratively inconvenient for peasants to leave the land where they were counted in the census.
However, medieval serfdom really began with the breakup of the Carolingian Empire around the 10th century. During this period, powerful feudal lords encouraged the establishment of serfdom as a source of agricultural labor. Serfdom, indeed, was an institution that reflected a fairly common practice whereby great landlords were assured that others worked to feed them and were held down, legally and economically, while doing so.
In the later Middle Ages serfdom began to disappear west of the Rhine even as it spread through eastern Europe. Serfdom reached Eastern Europe centuries later than Western Europe – it became dominant around the 15th century. In many of these countries serfdom was abolished during the Napoleonic invasions of the early 19th century, though in some it persisted until mid- or late- 19th century.
Serfdom became the dominant form of relation between Russian peasants and nobility in the 17th century. Serfdom only existed in central and southern areas of the Russian Empire. It was never established in the North, in the Urals, and in Siberia. According to the Encyclopedia of Human Rights:
Russia's over 23 million privately held serfs were freed from their lords by an edict of Alexander II in 1861. The owners were compensated through taxes on the freed serfs. State serfs were emancipated in 1866.
The Emancipation Reform of 1861 in Russia, also known as the Emancipation Edict of Russia,(Russian: Крестьянская реформа 1861 года, romanized: Krestyanskaya reforma 1861 goda – "peasants' reform of 1861") was the first and most important of liberal reforms passed during the reign (1855–1881) of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The reform effectively abolished serfdom throughout the Russian Empire.
The 1861 Emancipation Manifesto proclaimed the emancipation of the serfs on private estates and of the domestic (household) serfs. By this edict more than 23 million people received their liberty. Serfs gained the full rights of free citizens, including rights to marry without having to gain consent, to own property and to own a business. The Manifesto prescribed that peasants would be able to buy the land from the landlords. Household serfs were the least affected: they gained only their freedom and no land.
In Georgia the emancipation took place later, in 1864, and on much better terms for the nobles than in Russia. The serfs were emancipated in 1861, following a speech given by Tsar Alexander II on 30 March 1856. State owned serfs, i.e. the serfs living on Imperial lands, were emancipated later in 1866.Folwark
Folwark (Belarusian: фальварак, Falvarak; German: Vorwerk; Lithuanian: Palivarkas) is a Polish word for a primarily serfdom-based farm and agricultural enterprise (a type of latifundium), often very large.History of serfdom
Like slavery, serfdom has a long history, dating to the Ancient Times.Loonalaid
Loonalaid (Swedish: Letenholm, German: Lettenholm) is a small island in the Baltic Sea belonging to the country of Estonia. Its coordinates are 58°19′42″N 21°48′19″E. Loonalaid lies just off the NW coast of the island of Saaremaa, is administered by Kihelkonna Parish, Saare County (Estonian: Saare maakond) and is also part of Vilsandi National Park.
Loonalaid is a windswept, rocky, low-lying 1 km2 islet west of Vilsandi in the westernmost part of Estonia. The islet is exposed to the Baltic Sea’s predominantly westerly winds and weather systems. Historically, the area had many shipwrecks due to the winds, weather and numerous uncharted shoals. These were a hazard, particularly to ships accessing the Gulf of Riga, off the southern tip of Saaremaa.
During the days of serfdom, Loonalaid and adjacent areas of Saaremaa (called Oesel by the Germans) belonged to the Loona Manor, owned by Baron Hoyningen-Huene. In 1830 Baron Huene sent a man by the name of Aadu All to live on Loonalaid, primarily to guard the hay that was grown there as feed for the manor’s livestock and to prevent it from being stolen or burned. All, his wife and young son Peeter, who was 1 yr old at the time, became the islet’s first residents and built a farmhouse. Peeter All became a seaman and businessman and eventually purchased the family farm from the Baron.Qing conquest theory
The Qing conquest theory is a theory proposed by Chinese academics that attempts to explain the Great Divergence, the overtaking of China by the Western world as the major economic and industrial world power. Specifically, the theory seeks to explain how Europe could experience an industrial revolution, but China did not. Theory supporters claim that although the prosperous Song and Ming dynasties moved China toward a modern age, the restrictions placed on commerce and industry and the persecution of non-orthodox thought after the Manchu conquest of China caused the country to stagnate and fall behind the West.Russian Empire
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.The third largest empire in world history, at its greatest extent stretching over three continents, Europe, Asia, and North America, the Russian Empire was surpassed in size only by the British and Mongol empires. The rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Golden Horde, the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Persia and the Ottoman Empire. It played a major role in 1812–1814 in defeating Napoleon's ambitions to control Europe and expanded to the west and south.
The House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, and its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov ruled from 1762. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean, into Alaska and Northern California in America on the east. With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it featured great diversity in terms of economies, ethnicity, and religion. There were many dissident elements, who launched numerous rebellions and assassination attempts; they were closely watched by the secret police, with thousands exiled to Siberia.
Economically, the empire had a predominantly agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs (Russian peasants) until they were freed in 1861. The economy slowly industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways and factories. The land was ruled by a nobility, the boyars, from the 10th through the 17th centuries, and subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III (1462–1505) laid the groundwork for the empire that later emerged. He tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, and laid the foundations of the Russian state. [Emperor Peter the Great (1682–1725) fought numerous wars and expanded an already huge empire into a major European power. He moved the capital from Moscow to the new model city of St. Petersburg, and led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political mores with a modern, scientific, Europe-oriented, and rationalist system.
Empress Catherine the Great (reigned 1762–1796) presided over a golden age; she expanded the state by conquest, colonization and diplomacy, continuing Peter the Great's policy of modernization along Western European lines. Emperor Alexander II (1855–1881) promoted numerous reforms, most dramatically the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861. His policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. That connection by 1914 led to Russia's entry into the First World War on the side of France, the United Kingdom, and Serbia, against the German, Austrian, and Ottoman empires.
The Russian Empire functioned as an absolute monarchy on principles of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality until the Revolution of 1905 and then became a de jure constitutional monarchy. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917, largely as a result of massive failures in its participation in the First World War.Serfdom in Poland
Serfdom in Poland became the dominant form of relationship between peasants and nobility in the 17th century, and was a major feature of the economy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, although its origins can be traced back to the 12th century.
The first steps towards abolishing of serfdom were enacted in the Constitution of May 3, 1791, and it was essentially eliminated by the Połaniec Manifesto. However, these reforms were nullified by partition of Poland. Over the course of the 19th century it was gradually abolished on Polish territories under foreign control, as the region began to industrialize.Serfdom in Russia
The term "serf", in the sense of an unfree peasant of the Russian Empire, is the usual translation of krepostnoi krestyanin (крепостной крестьянин) which meant an unfree person who, unlike a slave, could be sold only with the land he or she was "attached" to. Historic legal documents of the epoch, such as Russkaya Pravda (12th century onwards), distinguished several degrees of feudal dependency of peasants.
Serfdom became the dominant form of relation between Russian peasants and nobility in the 17th century. Serfdom most commonly existed in the central and southern areas of the Tsardom of Russia and of the subsequent Russian Empire. Serfdom in the Urals and Siberia generally occurred rarely until, during the reign (1762-1796) of Catherine the Great, businesses began to send serfs into those areas in an attempt to harvest their extensive untapped natural resources.Emperor Alexander I (r. 1801–1825) wanted to reform the system but moved only cautiously. New laws allowed all classes (except the serfs) to own land, a privilege previously confined to the nobility. Emperor Alexander II finally abolished Russian serfdom in the emancipation reform of 1861. Scholars have proposed multiple overlapping reasons to account for the abolition, including fear of a large-scale revolt by the serfs, the government's financial needs, changing cultural sensibilities, and the military's need for soldiers.Serfdom in Tibet controversy
The serfdom in Tibet controversy rests on Chinese claims of moral authority for governing Tibet, portraying Tibet as a "feudal serfdom" and a "hell on earth" prior to its invasion in 1950. Claims of unfree labour practices have been a recurrent theme, covering periods both before and after the Chinese takeover. Supporters of the Chinese position highlight statements by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) that, prior to 1959, 95% of Tibetans lived in "feudal serfdom", and cite cases of abuse and cruelty in the traditional Tibetan system. Western responses have tended to attempt to discredit the Chinese claims as part of an effort to discredit the takeover of Tibet.Slavery in Poland
Slavery in Poland existed on the territory of Kingdom of Poland during the times of the Piast dynasty in the Middle Ages. It continued in various forms until late in the 14th century and was supplanted by the institution of serfdom, which has often been considered a form of modified slavery.Slavery in Russia
Slavery in Russia ended in February 19th, 1861 when Czar Alexander II of Russia issued The Emancipation Reform that abolished serfdom. Term serf (loose translation from Russian 'krepostnoy') stands for an unfree person who, unlike slave, can be sold only with the land he or she is "attached" to. In 2013, Global Slavery Index reported on unsatisfactory living conditions of migrant workers who for a number of reasons cannot obtain work permits in Russia but continue to work in the country illegally and for minimum wage.Slavery in medieval Europe
Slavery had mostly died out in western Europe about the year 1000, replaced by serfdom. It lingered longer in England and in peripheral areas linked to the Muslim world, where slavery continued to flourish. Slavery became more widespread in Ireland throughout the 11th century, as Dublin became the biggest slave market in Western Europe. Church rules suppressed slavery of Christians. Most historians argue the transition was quite abrupt around 1000, but some see a gradual transition from about 300 to 1000.In the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, slaves became quite rare by the first half of the 7th century A shift in the view of slavery is noticed, which by the 10th century transformed gradually a slave-object into a slave-subject. From 11th century, semi-feudal relations largely replaced slavery, seen as "an evil contrary to natury, created by man's selfishness", although slavery was permitted by the law.The major European languages, including English, used variations of the word "slave", in references to Slavic laborers of Byzantium.Slavophilia
Slavophilia was an intellectual movement originating from the 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles opposed the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in Poland, Serbia and Croatia, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia. Depending on the historical context, its opposite could be termed Slavophobia, a fear of Slavic culture, or even what some Russian intellectuals called zapadnichestvo (westernism).Social class in Tibet
There were three main social groups in Tibet prior to 1959, namely ordinary laypeople (mi ser in Tibetan), lay nobility (sger pa), and monks. The ordinary layperson could be further classified as a peasant farmer (shing-pa) or nomadic pastoralist (trokpa).The Tsang (17th century) and Dalai Lama (Ganden Podrang) law codes distinguished three social divisions: high, medium and low, each in turn was divided into three classes, to give nine classes in all. Social status was a formal classification, mostly hereditary and had legal consequences: for example the compensation to be paid for the killing of a member of these classes varied from 5 (for the lowest) to 200 'sung' for the second highest, the members of the noble families.
Nobles, government officials and monks of pure conduct were in the high division, only - probably - the Dalai Lama was in the very highest class. The middle division contained a large portion of the population and ranged from minor government officials, to taxpayer and landholding peasants, to landless peasants. Movement between classes was possible in the middle division. The lower division contained ragyabpa ('untouchables') of different types: e.g. blacksmiths and butchers. The very lowest class contained executioners, and (in the Tsang code) bachelors and hermaphrodites.Anthropologists have presented different taxonomies for the middle social division, in part because they studied specific regions of Tibet and the terms were not universal. Both Melvyn Goldstein and Geoff Childs however classified the population into three main types:
taxpayer families (tre-ba or khral-pa)
householders (du-jong or dud-chung-ba)
landless peasants (mi-bo)In the middle group, the taxpaying families could be quite wealthy. Depending upon the district, each category had different responsibilities in terms of tax and labor. Membership to each of these classes was primarily hereditary; the linkage between subjects and their estate and overlord was similarly transmitted through parallel descent. The taxpayer class, although numerically smallest among the three subclasses, occupied a superior position in terms of political and economic status.
The question of whether serfdom prevailed in traditional Tibetan society is controversial; Heidi Fjeld argues for a moderate position, recognizing that serfdom existed but was not universal in U-Tsang; a better description of the traditional Tibetan social class system, at least in Central Tibet, would be a caste system, rather than a comparison to European feudalism.The Road to Serfdom
The Road to Serfdom (German: Der Weg zur Knechtschaft) is a book written between 1940 and 1943 by Austrian British economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek, in which the author "[warns] of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning." He further argues that the abandonment of individualism and classical liberalism inevitably leads to a loss of freedom, the creation of an oppressive society, the tyranny of a dictator, and the serfdom of the individual. Hayek challenged the general view among British academics that fascism (including National Socialism) was a capitalist reaction against socialism. He argued that fascism, National Socialism and socialism had common roots in central economic planning and empowering the state over the individual.
Since its publication in 1944, The Road to Serfdom has been an influential and popular exposition of market libertarianism. It has sold over two million copies.The Road to Serfdom was to be the popular edition of the second volume of Hayek's treatise entitled "The Abuse and Decline of Reason", and the title was inspired by the writings of the 19th century French classical liberal thinker Alexis de Tocqueville on the "road to servitude". The book was first published in Britain by Routledge in March 1944, during World War II, and was quite popular, leading Hayek to call it "that unobtainable book", also due in part to wartime paper rationing. It was published in the United States by the University of Chicago Press in September 1944 and achieved great popularity. At the arrangement of editor Max Eastman, the American magazine Reader's Digest published an abridged version in April 1945, enabling The Road to Serfdom to reach a wider popular audience beyond academics.
The Road to Serfdom has had a significant impact on twentieth-century conservative and libertarian economic and political discourse, and is often cited today by commentators.Thrall
A thrall (Old Norse/Icelandic: þræll, Faroese: trælur, Norwegian: trell, Danish: træl, Swedish: träl) was a slave or serf in Scandinavian lands during the Viking Age. The corresponding term in Old English was þēow. The status of slave (þræll, þēow) contrasts with that of the freeman (karl, ceorl) and the nobleman (jarl, eorl). The Middle Latin rendition of the term in early Germanic law is servus. The social system of serfdom was continued in medieval feudalism.Timeline of abolition of slavery and serfdom
The abolition of slavery occurred at different times in different countries. It frequently occurred sequentially in more than one stage – for example, as abolition of the trade in slaves in a specific country, and then as abolition of slavery throughout empires. Each step was usually the result of a separate law or action. This timeline shows abolition laws or actions listed chronologically. It also covers the abolition of serfdom.
Although slavery is still abolished de jure in all countries, some practices akin to it continue today in many places throughout the world.Užulėnis
Užulėnis is a village in Ukmergė District Municipality, Vilnius County, Lithuania. According to the 2001 census, the village had a population of 90 people. The population decreased to 68 at the time of the 2011 census. The village is the birthplace of the first President of Lithuania Antanas Smetona.
Užulėnis formed as a linear village, with all houses hugging the road. Under the Serfdom in the Russian Empire, the village belonged to the Taujėnai Manor, controlled from 1826 by the Radziwiłł family. After the abolition of serfdom, some of the land surrounding the village was allocated to the villagers, with common grazing grounds.Volost
Volost (Russian: во́лость, IPA: [ˈvoləsʲtʲ]) was a traditional administrative subdivision in Eastern Europe.
In earlier East Slavic history, volost was a name for the territory ruled by the knyaz, a principality; either as an absolute ruler or with varying degree of autonomy from the Velikiy Knyaz (Grand Prince). Starting from the end of the 14th century, volost was a unit of administrative division in Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Poland, Muscovy, lands of modern Latvia and Ukraine. Since about the 16th century it was a part of provincial districts, that were called "uyezd" in Muscovy and the later Russian Empire. Each uyezd had several volosts that were subordinated to the uyezd city.
After the abolition of Russian serfdom in 1861, volost became a unit of peasant's local self-rule. A number of mirs are united into a volost, which has an assembly consisting of elected delegates from the mirs. These elect an elder (starshina) and, hitherto, a court of justice (volostnoy sud). The self-government of the mirs and volosts was, however, tempered by the authority of the police commissaries (stanovoi) and by the power of general oversight given to the nominated "district committees for the affairs of the peasants".Volosts were abolished by the Soviet administrative reform of 1923–1929. Raions may be roughly called a modern equivalent of both volosts and uyezds.