Forbidden Years

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Forbidden Years


(Russian, zapovednye leta), periods during which krest’ianskii vykhod (the right of peasants to leave their feudal lords) on St. George’s Day in the autumn (a provision of art. 88 of the Law Code of 1550) was forbidden in certain regions of the Russian state.

Forbidden years were first instituted by the government of Tsar Ivan IV in 1581, at the same time that a general census of the country was undertaken to determine the extent of the severe economic ruin suffered in the 1570’s and 1580’s. No state ukase on forbidden years is extant; there are only short references to them in some charters of the 1580’s and 1590’s. In about 1592-93 a ukase of Tsar Fedor Ivanovich established forbidden years on a statewide scale. This ukase forbade krest’ianskii vykhod and declared the pistsovye knigi (census books) begun in 1581 and finished in 1592-93 to be the juridical basis of serfdom. The information contained in the pistsovye knigi determined what peasants belonged to a particular landlord.


Koretskii, V. I. “Iz istorii zakreposhcheniia krest’ian v Rossii v kontse XVI-nachale XVII v. (K probleme ‘zapovednykh let’ i otmeny lur’eva dnia).” Istoriia SSSR, 1957, no. 1.


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