As a result of Peter the Great’s reforms, some categories of the population whose representatives were not included into any social estate appeared in the Russian Empire. To denote them in legislative acts and office documents, the terms odnodvorets (plural odnodvortsy) and raznochinets (plural raznochintsy) were introduced. This article is devoted to the determination of the legal status of the odnodvortsy as a specific category of population of the Russian Empire. It examines the main problems and contradictions related to the ways of acquiring the status of odnodvorets, the evolution of its legal definition, the composition of the odnodvortsy, and the
determination of their rights and obligations. By means of factual material, the author confirms the main contradiction of the odnodvortsy status, associated with its duality. On the one hand, odnodvortsy were equated with peasants as they were obliged to pay a poll tax in the same amount as the peasants who belonged to them did, to do landmilitia (frontier) service, and to lead a communal life. On the other hand, they had the rights of the noble estate, namely, the right to own peasants and land. Another contradiction was that the rights of the noble estate were limited for the odnodvortsy: the purchase and sale (as well as other disposal) of peasants and land were prohibited
to them. The author comes to the conclusion that the inconsistency of the legal status of the odnodvortsy was a consequence of the heterogeneity of this category of the population, associated with the existence of many ways to replenish it and the difficulty for the authorities in determining the functions of this social estate, which changed over time. The problems were connected with the dying out need to maintain landmilitia regiments (the traditional main civic duty of the odnodvortsy): in the new conditions, the authorities needed to clearly determine the status of this category of population, but they could neither lower it to peasants nor raise it to the nobility, fearing criticism and discontent of both the noblemen and the odnodvortsy themselves. Odnodvortsy were given an opportunity to join the merchant estate, losing land in doing so, and after 1762 they were given an opportunity to join the nobility, thus increasing the stratum of gentry. Thus, the odnodvortsy were an intermediate taxable category of Russian society whose place in social structure was between the nobility and the state peasants. By the beginning of the 19th century, the authorities had not determined the status of the Odnodvortsy more precisely.
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odnodvorets, nobility, state peasants, peasantry, social history, Russian Empire, taxable estates, legislative act, legal status, landowners
Bileush, K.K. “Legal Status of the Odnodvortsy: Problems and Contradictions.”
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