Votchina Industry

Votchina Industry


industry carried on by forced labor of the pomest’e (fief) peasants on the votchinas (patrimonial estates) in Russia. Votchina industry in the form of small-scale manufacture—that is, the products of estate artisans— appeared during the llth and 12th centuries. By the 17th century, large-scale votchina industry had developed in the form of simple cooperation and manufacture. The boyars B. I. Morozov and I. D. Miloslavskii and Prince N. I. Odoevskii were the outstanding votchina entrepreneurs in that century. During the first half of the 18th century pomeshchiks (landlords) usually built small industrial establishments on their estates using the products mainly to satisfy their personal needs and those of their estates. Only in the distilling industry did the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry) estate factories occupy a leading position. In the early 1750’s they were producing more than 1.7 million vedros (4.5 million imperial gallons) of wine a year (40 percent of the total wine production in Russia), the major part of which was for sale. Votchina industry attained its greatest development in the second half of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 1760’s, the pomeshchiks owned about half of the cloth manufacturing establishments (34 out of 73), almost one-fourth of the glass and crystal works (six out of 25), and one-sixth of the linen establishments (14 out of 84). They also became involved in metallurgy. The products of votchina industry were intended mainly for delivery to the state (linen for sails, cloth for the army, wine for the state stores) and partly for the market. Some votchina establishments of that period numbered as many as 2,000 to 3,000 laborers. Pomest’e peasants fulfilled their corvee by working in these industries. Some peasants forfeited their land allotments and worked in these enterprises year-round, receiving monthly wages in money and in kind from the pomeshchiks. In their establishments the pomeshchiks also began to employ free hired laborers, who usually were paid higher wages than the serf peasants.

In the first half of the 19th century, with the progress of capitalism, votchina industry declined. Merchant and peasant manufacture, founded on more efficient labor and improved techniques, began to force out the votchina establishments. Thus, in 1804, 90 percent of the cloth factories were operated with serf labor, but only 4 percent did so in 1850. With the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, votchina industry came to an end.


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