The Defining Moment: Land Charters and the Post-Emancipation Agrarian Settlement in Russia, 1861-1863

Allan K. Wildman


Although standard works on the Emancipation of 1861, Russian and Western, reveal that the division of land and other resources between erstwhile masters and serfs was to be laid down in land charters (ustavnye gramoty) and brokered by newly appointed

peace mediators, little attention has been devoted to the texts of the documents and the "negotiating" process that led to their finalization.• Soviet scholars have, however, devoted much attention to those terms that served as indicators of the massive expropriation of lands formerly in peasant use through the system of socalled cutoffs (otrezki), a notion backed by Lenin's unimpeachable authority. In 1958, P. A. Zaionchkovskii devoted an entire monograph to the question based not only on his own investigations but also those of his students (2,457 charters from sixteen uezdy or provincial districts) and other scholars, most notably B. G. Litvak (with S. S. Phillipov) on the province of Moscow (3,025 charters).

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