Sudebnik of 1497


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Sudebnik of 1497

 

a collection of laws, instrumental in the elimination of feudal fragmentation, in the centralization of the Russian state, and in the creation of Russian law.

The sources of the Sudebnik of 1497 were the Russkaia Pravda, the Pskov Sudnaia Gramota, ustavnye gramoty (administrative charters given to local administrators), ukases of the grand princes, and customary law, the norms of which were revised in order to take account of socioeconomic change. For the most part, the Sudebnik contained procedural norms. It established a single system of state judicial bodies, defined their authority and place in the judicial hierarchy, and regulated court fees. It broadened the range of actions recognized as criminally punishable—for example, sedition, sacrilege (tserkovnaia tat’ba), and slander—and set forth a new conception of crime and of especially dangerous crime. It established an inquisitorial procedure and provided for capital punishment, public flogging, and other harsh punishments.

In protection of feudal landownership, the Sudebnik of 1497 placed limitations on servitudes, extended the period allowed for protection of a violated right with respect to princely lands, and introduced public flogging for destroying boundary markers and for trespass on princely, boyar, and monastery lands (and a fine for the same offenses on peasant lands). It introduced the payment of a pozhiloe upon a peasant’s departure from the service of a feudal lord (seeVYKHOD KREST’IANSKII) and set the period around November 26—St. George’s Day—as the only time at which peasants could move from one lord to another.

PUBLICATION

Sudebniki XV-XVI vv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1952. Pages 13–108.