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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.


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.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In February 1826 the village elder petitioned the estate Office to cancel the previous year's quitrent demands.
The introduction of individual tenure systems such as quitrent and a form of freehold title to landholders in the nineteenth century set the basis for the PTO system.
Penn sold land at the incredibly low price of 10 pence per acre down payment with a quitrent of one-fourth penny per acre.
By 1956, the Chief Magistrate complained that, `the last returns of native taxes show that outstandings in respect of local tax [hut tax], quitrent, stock rate and General Council levy [poll tax] are considerable'.(35) As an extreme case, in 1959 in Bizana only about four per cent of the poll tax and 17 per cent of the hut tax were paid.(36) Widespread defaults on taxes resulted from a number of linked events.
The colonists also took every opportunity to draw from the proprietary storehouse while avoiding their quitrent obligations and ignoring instructions from faraway London.(11)
Although inattentive proprietary governance contributed greatly to the unrest in the province, the royalization of North Carolina in 1729 hardly produced tranquility, as witnessed early by the quitrent protests in the 1730s, the Representation Controversy which virtually halted the process of government in the Northern counties during the 1740s and 1750s, remonstrances against the Lord Granville's land officers, and objections, sometimes forceful, to land speculation.(2)
A short chapter follows on the quitrent system, against which all Americans, according to the author, were united.
(44) The forced transfers have something else in common: unlike in the settled agricultural districts of central Russia, where serfs enjoyed a degree of protection and a measure of quiet independence cultivating their holdings, working in cottage industries, or serving in towns and paying quitrent to their owners, possessional serfs in Ural mining districts were exploited like slaves, worked hard and brutally; they were a significant element in Pugachev's uprising, which the serfs in central Russia declined to join.
I have similar reservations about his use of the term 'quitrent farm system' where Van der Merwe has 'leningsplaasstelsel'.
The 1715 Yamasee War removed this protection, and stagnating trade and a quitrent dispute halted land patents and slowed further settlement.
Based on his detailed investigation of quitrent rolls, land-tax records, and estate inventories, Tillson concludes that Upper Valley common folk normally engaged in small-scale agricultural production for local markets.
According to the second census (1744), in the five settlements (Krasnomyskaia, Kamenskaia, Krutikhinskaia, Ol'khovskaia, Bagariatskaia) and two forts (Kolchedanskii and Kataiskii) of Kamenskii District there were 12,180 ascribed male peasants who had to work off or pay soul taxes, quitrent, and a fee of 0.5 kopecks for every ruble of soul tax dues, totaling 13,769 rubles.