LYAPIN D.A. Cases of Peasants in the South of Russia in the 20s of the 17th Century


Denis A. Lyapin

Doctor of Sciences (History), Head of the Department of History and Historical and Cultural Heritage,

Bunin Yelets State University,

Kommunarov St, 28, 399770 Yelets, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. Among the materials of the Belgorod Stol of the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (RGADA), there is an extensive set of documents related to disputes over peasants who fled to the South of Russia from uyezds of other regions of the state. These are “cases of peasants” which were created in the 1620s. They are an important episode of the overall picture of the economic development of Southern Russia in the 17th century. These documents are of great interest for the study of the Russian peasantry.

Methods. The author uses the problem-historical method and traditional methods of working with historical sources. The focus of the article is an attempt to comprehend this vast complex of records management materials. These important materials are connected with the peasant issue in uyezds of Southern Russia in the 1620s. The question is how peasants, who did not have freedom, could move to the South. Unfortunately, this topic was hardly a subject of study in historiography. However, historian Novoselsky showed the importance of studying “cases of peasants”. In the course of the article, the author shows that peasants did not have legal grounds for the resettlement to the southern outskirts. In the last two decades of the 16th century, peasants were attached to the land. This is a wellknown and proven fact. However, in the Time of Troubles, many peasant families fled to the South. It was a time of anarchy. In the 1620s, the flight of peasants continued and was numerous. This triggered the emergence of “cases of peasants”. The author has studied 58 cases of this kind.

Results. The study of these documents shows that the governmental policy regarding the flight of peasants was not harsh. The state allowed the possibility of the flight of peasants. The authorities did not consider landowners who accepted fugitives to be lawbreakers. The rules prohibiting the transfer of peasants began to act only if a landowner found his peasant and filed a lawsuit about his return.

Key words: peasants, landlords, serfdom, “cases of peasants”, economic development of the South of Russia, St. George’s Day.

Citation. Lyapin D.A. Cases of Peasants in the South of Russia in the 20s of the 17th Century. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 162-171. (in Russian). DOI:

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Cases of Peasants in the South of Russia in the 20s of the 17th Century by Lyapin D.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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