Ulozhenie of Aleksei Mikhailovich of 1649

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ulozhenie of Aleksei Mikhailovich of 1649


(also Sobornoe Ulozhenie of 1649 [Assembly Code of 1649]), a code of laws of the Russian state. The Ulozhenie consisted of 25 chapters (967 articles) with such titles as “Courts of Law Concerning Peasants, ” “Concerning Posadskie Liudi” (seePOSADSKIE LIUDI), “Concerning Seigniorial Lands, ” “On Courts of Law, ” and “On Robbery and Thievery.” The draft of the Ulozhenie was prepared by a commission headed by N. I. Odoevskii, and it was approved by the Zemskii Sobor (National Assembly)—hence the name “Sobornoe Ulozhenie.”

The Ulozhenie of Aleksei Mikhailovich of 1649 reflected important socioeconomic changes, and it satisfied the demands made by the principal supporters of the autocracy—the dvoriane (nobles)—and by the leading figures in the cities. It abolished the urochnye leta (the time limit beyond which legal action could not be taken for the return of runaway peasants), thereby legalizing the process of enserfment, and it established fines for harboring runaway peasants. Landowners acquired unrestricted rights over the person and property of each of their peasants and received the right to try the serfs. In order to strengthen the principle that the dvoriane should be granted land only on the condition of military service, the Ulozhenie eliminated the differences between the pomest’e (fief) and other types of landholdings, such as the votchina (patrimonial estate).

Some of the articles of the Ulozhenie were devoted to criminal law. For example, certain articles made the concept of crimes against the state more precise and established the death penalty as punishment for such crimes. The Ulozhenie also set forth in detail the punishments for different types of crimes; the sentences, which were intended to punish offenders and deter crime, generally involved some sort of mutilation (cutting off the arms, legs, ears, or tongue or beating with rods, knouts, or lashes). The sentence for a given crime depended upon the class affiliation of the accused; for example, dvoriane convicted of battery were sentenced to torgovaia kazn’ (flogging with the knout in the market square) and a month’s imprisonment, although peasants convicted of the same crime received the death penalty.

The Ulozhenie of Aleksei Mikhailovich of 1649, supplemented by later articles, formed the fundamental code of feudal law in Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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