The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

By Anatole L. Leroy-Beaulieu; Zaenaefde A. Ragozin | Go to book overview

BOOK VIII.
MIR, FAMILY, AND VILLAGE COMMUNITIES.

CHAPTER I.

Land Tenure Unchanged by Emancipation--Is the Mira Slavic Institution? Antiquity and Origin of Communal Property in Russia--Differing Views on the Subject--Difference between Moscovite Russia and Western Europe from the Standpoint of the Agrarian System.

WE have seen that the Emancipation Act, while endowing the mujik with land, practically left him very much where he was in the times of serfdom. He now owns the land of which his landlord formerly let him have the use, but the mode of tenure is the same still. Now as formerly the land belongs to the peasants in common, not personally, not individually, by hereditary right. The lots purchased from the landlords were not distributed to the various members of a village community, but remain the collective, undivided property of the commune. The peasant, decorated by the law with the title of landholder, usually owns permanently and certainly only his cabin, his izbà--and the small adjoining enclosure, usàdba ; as to the rest he in reality only has the usufruct of the lot he is paying for.

Such, from times immemorial, has been the form of land tenure in use amidst the peasants of Moscovia or Great-Russia. The emancipation has not changed it. As the tenure of the lands was usually collective, so the redemption of them has also been operated, not individually, but, as a rule, by communes. It is

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