Decree on Primogeniture

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Primogeniture, Decree on


a legislative act of Peter I the Great, dated Mar. 23,1714, and titled “On the Order of Inheritance of Movable and Real Property, ” which consolidated the nobility’s ownership of land. By the terms of the decree, a father could leave real property to only one of his sons or to a daughter (if he had no sons); if he had no children, he could leave his real property to a relative, but only to one with the same surname. The decree prohibited the sale and mortgaging of real property. A testator could distribute his movable property among his children at his discretion.

The purpose of the decree was to prevent the breaking up of the nobles’ estates, a practice which Peter I thought would lead to the impoverishment of the nobility. The decree eliminated the legal distinctions between the pomest’e (fief) and the votchina (patrimonial estate); the two became a single type of land property owned by the nobility.

Because of the dissatisfaction of the nobility, the decree was revoked by Empress Anna Ivanovna on Dec. 9,1730.

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