Quitrent


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Quitrent

 

(Russian, obrok), payments in produce or money by feudally dependent peasants to their lords constituting feudal ground rent in kind or in cash. Unlike corvée, called barshchina in Russia, the exaction of obrok entailed the feudal lord’s appropriation of the surplus produce (or its cash equivalent) produced by the peasant on his holding. Quitrent payments in kind could consist of various agricultural products (grain, wine, or vegetables) or of handicraft articles. The peasant paid cash quitrent out of the income he derived from selling part of his harvest. During the rise of feudalism, quitrent, chiefly in kind, was one of the most common primary forms of peasant exploitation. In the period of fully developed feudalism, quitrent was usually combined with corvée. As the landlords gradually gave up corvée, the exaction of quitrent in kind and especially cash quitrent became the chief form of feudal rent; in Western Europe this change began in the 14th and 15th centuries. Quitrent in cash and, to a lesser extent, in kind continued to be the primary form of feudal rent during the decline of feudalism, except in countries where “second serfdom” prevailed. In these countries quitrent was less important than corvée. In most Oriental countries, quit-rent in the form of centralized rent (state taxes) was the chief obligation imposed on the peasantry throughout the Middle Ages.

IU. L. BESSMERTNYI

Obrok in Russia. The rise of feudal relations in Kievan Rus’ between the ninth and 11th centuries led to the appearance of obrok in kind, initially collected as tribute, as one of the forms of exploitation of the peasantry. During the 13th and 14th centuries, obrok in kind became more important as the peasants’ economic independence increased and village property holders became more stratified. The amount of the obrok tended to become fixed, and the development of commodity and money relations led to an increasing reliance on cash obrok, especially in the Novgorod lands. With the enserfment of the peasantry, the development of the manorial system, and the rise of the lord’s demesne during the 16th and early 17th centuries, a combination of barshchina (corvée) and obrok in kind became the rule. While barshchina predominated among manorial peasants, the chief form of exploitation of court, monasterial, and state peasants from the 17th century was cash obrok. From the second half of the 18th century, obrok prevailed in the industrial provinces outside the black earth region. The development of crafts and commerce and the growth of market relations made cash obrok increasingly common among manorial peasants as well. During the second half of the 18th century, in 19 provinces of European Russia, 55 percent of the manorial peasants outside the black earth region paid obrok, as opposed to 26 percent in the black earth region. In the course of the second half of the 18th century, the obrok of manorial peasants increased three or four times, and the obrok of state and appanage peasants also rose. The amount of obrok became one of the primary issues in the peasantry’s class struggle. Cash obrok assured the peasant household of a measure of economic independence, and landlords’ attempts to replace obrok with barshchina provoked fierce resistance.

During the crisis in the feudal system in the first half of the 19th century, the obrok of manorial peasants roughly doubled, and the size of their holdings diminished. The increases in the amount of obrok caused many peasants to become seasonal laborers, and throughout the 19th century seasonal work was a main source of money for paying the obrok. In calculating the amount of obrok, landlords, particularly those in nonblack earth regions, attached greater importance to the peasants’ income from nonagricultural sources than to their income from farming. A system of mixed obligations emerged that included both cash obrok and barshchina. In the early 19th century, few landlords demanded obrok in kind, which was often replaced by cash

obrok. By the end of the 1850’s, 28.5 percent of the serfs paid obrok, and only in the nonblack earth regions of central Russia and in the north did these serfs predominate over barshchina peasants. In state and appanage villages obrok was the chief form of exploitation. Under the Peasant Reform of 1861, barshchina was replaced by obrok. When the compulsory redemption of peasant land was instituted on Jan. 1, 1883, obrok payments to landlords ceased. The obrok payments of state and appanage peasants were converted into redemption payments during the 1860’s.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3.
Ignatovich, I. I. Pomeshchich’i krest’iane nakanune osvobozhdeniia. 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1925.
Grekov, B. D. Krest’iane na Rusi s drevneishikh vremen do XVII v., books 1–2. Moscow, 1952–54.
Rubinshtein, N. L. Sel’skoe khoziaistvo Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII v. Moscow, 1957.
Cherepnin, L. V. “Novye dannye po istorii russkogo krest’ianstva XIV–XV vv. v novgorodskikh berestianykh gramotakh.” In Voprosy istorii sel’skogo khoziaistva, krest’ianstva i revoliutsionnogo dvizheniia v Rossii. Moscow, 1961.
Kochin, G. Sel’skoe khoziaistvo na Rusi v period obrazovaniia Russkogo tsentralizovannogo gosudarstva: Konets XIII-nachalo XVI vv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Milov, L. V. “Ob izuchenii rosta obroka v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII v.” Nauchnye doklady vyssheishkoly: Istoricheskie nauki, 1961, no. 1.
Koval’chenko, I. D. Russkoe krepostnoe krest’ianstvo v pervoi polovine XIX v. Moscow, 1967.

L. V. BELOVINSKII

References in periodicals archive ?
In February 1826 the village elder petitioned the estate Office to cancel the previous year's quitrent demands.
Mikhail Ul'ianov, the peasant who had been charged with delivering quitrent payments and the village elder's petition to the Moscow Office, had done so without incident.
As a result of this, Pelageia Iakovleva begged that her family be freed from quitrent duties she was simply unable to meet.
The quitrent, an annual payment of a fixed rate of several shillings for each hundred acres of land, secured a freeman's title to his land; it was paid in lieu of the services traditionally required by feudal custom.
William Penn offered 200 acres to any settler able to pay an immediate quitrent, with 50 additional acres for every servant he brought over, but the recipient was required to improve his land within three years or have it recovered by the proprietor.
In 1686, the Crown intervened directly, requiring payment of quitrent in coin after it was reported that most of the tobacco that had been received in payment was unmarketable.
During the early 1730s the colony resolved the quitrent dispute, and in 1731 Parliament passed legislation allowing the colony to export rice directly to Spain, stimulating renewed settlement around Port Royal.
Seigniorial authority was weaker, however, on quitrent estates, where there was no demesne economy and therefore less need for the manager or owner to actively intervene in village life.
Many estate owners employed a combination of quitrent and labor services, but even on such "mixed estates," one form played the dominant role.
Quitrents represented a payment by a freeholder that released him from liability to perform services.
Despite his best efforts, Patterson was unable to enforce collection of quitrents.
During the Civil War and Parliamentary periods, these quitrents often went uncollected.