(literally, “service people”), the general term for persons in service to the Russian state in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. Most sluzhilye liudi were dvoriane (nobility or gentry) and held land on condition of service. The feudal elite of boyars and princes were also sluzhilye liudi.
Sluzhilye liudi were divided into several groups. The highest was that of the duma ranks (dumnye chiny): boyars, okol’nich’i (nobles ranking below the boyars), dumnye dvoriane (duma gentry), and dumnye d’iaki (duma clerks). All were officials in the Boyar Duma. Below the highest group were the putnye boiare, who headed the puti, the individual branches of the royal household—for example, the koniushii (senior equerry), lovchii (master of the hunt), stol’nichii (chamberlain), and chashnichii (cupbearer). The next lower group was that of the Moscow ranks (moskovskie chiny), that is, the nobles (dvoriane) in service in the prikazy or at the courts of the tsars and grand princes of Moscow. The lowest group of noble sluzhilye liudi was that of the uezd (district) ranks (chiny uezdnye), which consisted of city dvoriane (dvoriane gorodovye), or provincial dvoriane, and deti boiarskie, who made up the great bulk of the gentry levy. All these groups were called sluzhilye liudi “by patrimony” (po otechestvu), because their positions were as a rule passed from father to son.
Others became sluzhilye liudi “by selection” (po pribory) from the various estates (sosloviia)—for example, the strel’tsy (semi-professional musketeers) and cannoneers. Such sluzhilye liudi were in no sense feudal proprietors; rather, they were paid in money and grain and received land only occasionally. The term sluzhilye liudi died out in the early 18th century, when reforms were introduced in the army and state apparatus.