St. George's Day in the Autumn

St. George’s Day in the Autumn


November 26, Old Style:

(1) A religious holiday in honor of St. George.

(2) The date associated with the implementation in Russia of vykhod krest’ianskii, the right of peasants to move from one feudal lord to another. St. George’s Day coincided with the completion of the year’s agricultural production and with the time when calculations were made of the peasants’ obligations in cash and kind to their owners and of state taxes.

The Sudebnik (Law Code) of 1497 limited vykhod krest’ianskii to a two-week period—the week before and the week after St. George’s Day. The Sudebnik of 1550 confirmed this restriction. The right of peasants to leave their place of residence was temporarily rescinded with the introduction of the forbidden years (zapovednye leta), which has been dated by historians variously as 1550, 1581, 1584, or 1585. The right was abolished in the 1590’s by legislation that extended the restriction on movement to the bobyli (impoverished feudally dependent people not subject to the system of state duties known as tiaglo) and to townspeople who were subject to the tiaglo system. The Sobornoe Ulozhenie (Assembly Code) of 1649 confirmed the restriction on change of residence by members of the population who were subject to the tiaglo system.