Legal Status of the Odnodvortsy: Problems and Contradictions

Legal Status of the Odnodvortsy: Problems and Contradictions

Kseniya К. Bileush
Full text:
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.
Kseniya К. Bileush
Laboratory Assistant at the Institute of History and Social Sciences
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St Petersburg, Russia
Belyavskii, M.T. Krest'yanskii vopros v Rossii nakanune vosstaniya E.I. Pugacheva [Peasant issue in Russia on the eve of the Pugachev’s Rebellion]. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1965. (In Russian)
Bileush, K.K. “K voprosu o poluchenii dvoryanskogo sostoyaniya v nachale tsarstvovaniya Aleksandra I (1801–1803 gg.)” [On the issue of obtaining the status of a noble at the beginning of the reign of Alexander I (1801–1803)]. In Gertsenovskie chteniya 2016. Aktual'nye problemy russkoi istorii: sbornik nauchnykh trudov [Herzen Readings 2016. Topical problems of Russian history: collected scientific works], edited by S.V. Smal', 179–85. St Petersburg: ElekSiS, 2017. (In Russian)
Blagoveshchenskii, N.A. Chetvertnoe pravo [Chetvert landholding]. Moscow: Tipo-litografiya Tovarishchestva N.N. Kushnerev i K°, 1899. (In Russian)
Blum, J. Lord and Peasant in Russia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961.
Churkin, M.K. “Odnodvortsy tsentral'nykh i zapadnykh gubernii Rossii: faktory etnokul'turnoi identichnosti i migratsionnyi potentsial (XIX – nachalo XX vv.)” [Odnodvortsy of the central and western provinces of Russia: factors of ethnocultural identity and migration potential (19th – early 20th centuries)]. Gumanitarnye issledovaniya, no. 3 (12) (2016): 34–38. (In Russian)
Churkin, M.K. “Rossiiskie odnodvortsy v otechestvennoi istoriografii vtoroi poloviny XIX – nachala XX v.: sotsial'no-ekonomicheskii status, soslovnaya identichnost', migratsionnaya
mobil'nost'” [Russian smallholders in Russian historiography in the second half of the 19th – early 21st centuries: socioeconomic status, class identity, migration mobility]. Vestnik Tomskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, no. 419 (2017): 171–75. (In Russian)
Esper, T. “The Odnodvortsy and the Russian Nobility.” The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 45, no. 104 (1967): 124–34.
Germanov, M.A. “Postepennoe rasprostranenie odnodvorcheskogo naseleniya v Voronezhskoi gubernii” [Gradual spread of the odnodvotsy population in Voronezh Governorate]. In Zapiski imperatorskogo russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva [Proceedings of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society], bk. 12, edited by P.N. Nebol'sin, 185–325. St Petersburg: Tipografiya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk, 1857. (In Russian)
Hartley, J.M. A Social History of the Russian Empire, 1650–1825. London; New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1999.
Hosking, G.A. Russia: People and Empire. 1552–1917. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.
Lappo F.I. “Nakazy odnodvortsev kak istoricheskii istochnik” [Mandates of the Odnodvortsy as a historical source]. In Istoricheskie zapiski [Historical transactions], 132 vols., edited by
B.D. Grekov, vol. 35, 232–64. Moscow: Akademiya nauk SSSR, 1950. (In Russian)
Lappo, F.I. “Revizskie skazki kak istochnik po istorii russkogo krest'yanstva” [Poll tax census records as a source in the history of Russian peasantry]. In Ezhegodnik po agrarnoi istorii
Vostochnoi Evropy. 1960 g.: materialy simpoziuma (Kiev, 23–29 sentyabrya 1960 g.) [Yearbook on the agrarian history of Eastern Europe. 1960: proceedings of the symposium (Kiev, September 23–29, 1960)], edited by V.K. Yatsunskii, 236–47. Kiev: Izdatel'stvo Akademii nauk USSR, 1962. (In Russian)
Nedosekin, V.I. “Obostrenie bor'by za zemlyu mezhdu pomeshchikami i odnodvortsami Voronezhskoi gubernii v seredine XVIII v.” [Aggravation of the struggle for land between the
landlords and the odnodvortsy of Voronezh Governorate in the middle of the 18th century]. Izvestiya Voronezhskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo instituta, vol. 19 (1955): 133–54. (In Russian)
Semevskii, V.I. Krest'yane v tsarstvovanie imperatritsy Ekateriny II [Peasants in the reign of Empress Catherine II], 2 vols. Vol. 2. St Petersburg: Тipografiya F.S. Sushchinskogo, 1901. (In Russian)
Solov'ev, Ya.M. “Ob odnodvortsakh” [On the odnodvortsy]. Otechestvennye zapiski, vol. 69, no. 3 (1850): 81–100. (In Russian)
Tkacheva, N.K. “K istorii krest'yan-odnodvortsev v XVIII veke” [On the history of the odnodvortsy peasants in the 18th century]. Sovetskie arkhivy, no. 1 (1971): 84–87. (In Russian)
Tkacheva, N.K. “Odnodvortsy XVIII veka v otechestvennoi istoriografii” [Odnodvortsy of the 18th century in Russian historiography]. In Istoriya i istoriki. 1975: istoriograficheskii ezhegodnik [History and historians. 1975: historiographical yearbook], edited by M.V. Nechkina, 281–99. Moscow: Nauka, 1978. (In Russian)
odnodvorets, nobility, state peasants, peasantry, social history, Russian Empire, taxable estates, legislative act, legal status, landowners
For citation:
Bileush, K.K. “Legal Status of the Odnodvortsy: Problems and Contradictions.” Historia Provinciae – the Journal of Regional History, vol. 7, no. 1 (2023): 159–89.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2587-8344 (Online)