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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(pledging), in the Russian state, the placing of the tiagletsy (people paying taxes to the state) under the protection of the feudal magnates.

Zakladniki did not constitute a fixed category of the population:zakladnichestvo was a condition in which a city dweller as well as a peasant could find himself. Seeking to free themselves from heavy taxes and duties to the state, people “pledged’’ themselves to rich feudal magnates, secular or ecclesiastic, negotiating lesser obligations. In doing so, the zakladnik (pledger) lost his personal freedom.

Zakladnichestvo is first mentioned in a treaty of Novgorod with the prince of Tver’ in the early 1260’s. The government, concerned by the decrease in revenues caused by the reduction of the number of tiagletsy, forbade by the Code of 1550 (Art. 91) tradesmen to pledge themselves to monasteries; in 1584, secular feudal lords were also prohibited from accepting zakladniki. Not every kind of zakladnichestvo was prohibited; only those where a person avoided the tiaglo (obligation to pay taxes to the state). However, these regulations were violated. In November 1648 a decree of the tsar stated that henceforth all zakladniki would be “the people of the great soverign, bearing the tiaglo,” and were prohibited from pledging themselves to anyone else.Zakladnichestvo was finally prohibited by the Council Code of 1649 but disappeared completely only in the early 18th century.


Grekov, B. D.Krestiane na Rusi s drevneishikh vremen do XVII v., 2nded.,vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1952–54.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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