Allotment Landownership

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Allotment Landownership


(Russian, nadel’noe zemlevladenie), a system of peasant landownership in Russia that existed from the second half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th.

Allotment landownership was introduced under the Peasant Reform of 1861 and the reform affecting state and appanage peasants. In most parts of the Russian empire it took the form of communal landownership, but in Lithuania, the Right-bank Ukraine, and Moldavia the land was owned by individual peasant households. Allotment landownership was a kind of semiserfdom. The peasants did not have the right to sell, mortgage, or give away their nadel (land allotment). Furthermore, the size of the allotment depended on the category to which the peasant belonged. In 1905 former state peasants had average allotments of 12.5 desiatinas (13.63 hectares) per household, whereas former landlords’ peasants had average allotments of 6.7 desiatinas (7.3 hectares) per household. The krest’iane-darstvenniki had a per capita allotment of about 1 desiatina (1.09 hectares).

After 1861 the average landlord estate was 2, 500 desiatinas (2, 725 hectares), and the average peasant household in European Russia owned 11.1 desiatinas (12.1 hectares). By the end of the 19th century, 6.2 million of the 12.3 million peasant households in European Russia owned less than 8 desiatinas (8.7 hectares) of land, and 2.2 million households owned more than 15 desiatinas (16.4 hectares). Land shortage among the peasantry intensified as the peasant population grew, and the importance of allotment landownership in the peasant economy declined. The allotment often did not suffice to feed the peasant family. It became increasingly common for peasants to rent additional land, especially landlords’ land, and for most peasants this was tantamount to servitude. Not less than half the rented land was concentrated in the hands of kulaks, who used it for capitalist production. Sometimes the kulaks became rich by subleasing land. The purchase of land by peasants apart from the allotment system was purely a bourgeois phenomenon. Of the 7.5 million desiatinas (8.2 million hectares) that the peasants acquired between 1877 and 1905, from two-thirds to three-fourths was owned by a small minority of prosperous households (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17, p. 93).

Under the Stolypin agrarian reform, peasants obtained the right to leave the commune and to own their land allotments as personal property without any restrictions. The declining role of allotment landownership in the peasant economy and the spread of nonclass private landownership resulted in a situation where “the breakup of the old system of landownership—both landlord and peasant ownership—has become an absolute economic necessity” (ibid. pp. 96–97). This task was carried out by the Great October Socialist Revolution.


Lenin, V. I. “Agrarnyi vopros v Rossii k kontsu XIX v.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17.
Statistika zemlevladeniia 1905 g., books 1–50. St. Petersburg, 1906–07.
Svod dannykh po 50-ti guberniiam Evropeiskoi Rossii. St. Petersburg, 1907.
Zaionchkovskii, P. A. Provedenie v zhizn’ krest’ianskoi reformy 1861 g. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.