Estonians are freed from serfdom

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23. May 1816

In May 1814, Alexander I demanded the new peasantry law to be implemented. The Nobility Corporation of Estonia revalued the legislation in 1815, and sent it back to the central government. It added few minor changes, and on May 23, 1816, the czar signed the act.

Even though Estonian farmers were now free of serfdom, they did not get rid of corvee and all the land was still owned by the estate owners. In the process of law creation, the nobility had kept their own real profit in mind, and the situation of the peasantry even somewhat worsened.

On the other hand, they had personal freedom and could decide for themselves. Abolition of serfdom was declared on January 8, 1817 in Tallinn, and later in parish churches.

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

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