Czar's ukases to improve peasantry's conditions

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1803

Several laws beneficial to the peasantry were passed during Alexander I rule, the ultimate goal was to abolish serfdom. One of the most important laws was passed in 1803 regarding free farmers: it granted the land lords the right to free a farmer from serfdom and turn them into land owners. This shows that Russian Empire was aiming towards freeing the farmers with land, which was to guarantee them regular income after the serfdom had been abolished. We know now the nobles in the Baltics decided otherwise - farmers did not receive land and initially it was very difficult to purchase it. Nonetheless, the law of 1803 granted the peasantry at least a theoretical possibility to become free from serfdom.

In addition to the law from 1803, Alexander I limited serfdom in many other ways: in 1802, estate owners were prohibited to exile farmers to Siberia; in 1807, farmer could not be sentenced to forced labor without court's decision; in 1808 auctioning off farmers was prohibited. Peasantry's economic rights were widened: from 1812 on, farmer could buy and sell other goods than those he produced himself, and from 1817 on, a farmer could operate a factory.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. IV: Põhjasõjast pärisorjuse kaotamiseni, lk-d 203–211.


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  • ajalooline
  • mõis
  • raamatukogu
  • tulease