Principium Volume II, Book 7, Quote 753 and 754

753. (4-5-2010) As can be seen, the evolution in Russia of property in land ran in the diametrically opposite direction from the rest of Europe. At the time when Western Europe knew mainly conditional land tenure in the form of fiefs, Russia knew only allodial (free from the tenurial – the holding or possessing of anything - rights of a feudal lord – dictionary.com)ATJ property. By the time conditional tenure in Western Europe yielded to outright ownership, in Russia allodial holdings turned into royal fiefs and their onetime owners became the ruler’s tenants in chief. No single factor in Russia’s history explains better the divergence of her political and economic evolution from that of the rest of Europe, because it meant that in the age of absolutism in Russia, unlike most of Western Europe, property presented no barrier to royal power.

- Richard Pipes – Property and Freedom, 2000

(Considering the times of absolutism, the difference between Western and Eastern Europe being [the absolutist regimes in France, Prussia, Sweden, and Spain obtained the services of nobles “but not on a compulsory basis. “Compulsion,” of course, made all the difference.]) – Richard Pipes – Slavic Review 53, No. 2 (1994), 524-30.


(Note: tiaglo cannotes the payment of money or the performance of menial labor or both. (- Richard Pipes – Property and Freedom, 2000)ATJ


754. (In this next section, although long, I know, we can see why Russia fell so easily and completely to Communism, and why, in Communism, it was important to destroy the last vestige of autonomy or freedom from state control – the Family.)ATJ [T]he absence in tsarist Russia of property in land would have had fewer consequences for her political evolution had that country developed self-governing urban communities. The Western European city gave rise to three institutions: (1) absolute private property in the form of capital and urban real estate at a time when the principal productive asset, land, was held conditionally; (2) self-government and judiciary autonomy; and (3) common citizenship in the sense that all urban inhabitants were freemen who shared civil rights by virtue of residence in the city rather than their social status. It is, therefore, of considerable importance that in Russia – with the notable exception of Novgorod and Pskov, neither of which survived into the modern era – cities of this kind failed to emerge. As noted previously, at the dawn of her history (tenth and eleventh centuries) Russia had numerous urban centers which did not significantly differ in either appearance or function from those of Western Europe two centuries earlier. They were citadels built to protect the Viking ruling elite and its goods, outside whose walls artisans set up their workshops and traders their stalls. Typically, the early Russian city consisted of two parts: the fortress or kreml, near which stood the cathedral, both structures protected by a palisade of wood or stone; and the commercial settlement outside the walls, called posad. In Western Europe during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, such primitive fortress-towns began to evolve into something quite different. Benefiting from the revival of trade, the cities of Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries organized into communes, which acquired the right to govern themselves and to dispense justice to their citizens. Again, with the exception of Novgorod and Pskov, nothing comparable occurred in Russia. The reasons were both economic and political. At the very time when trade revived in Western Europe, it declined in central and southern Russia: the disruption of the “Greek Route” (a route of trade bypassing the Muslim controlled Mediterranean route, and including Novgorod)ATJ and the resultant concentration on agriculture significantly reduced the commercial role of the cities. Secondly, the Mongols, viewing cities as centers of resistance, eliminated their organs of self-rule. The princes of Moscow, first as agents of the Mongols and then as sovereigns in their own right, would not tolerate autonomous enclaves exempt from tribute, service, and tiaglo. The patrimonial principle applied to the entire realm, without exception. Thus, the cities of central Russia turned into military-administrative outposts distinguished neither by a different economic structure nor by special rights. They were not oases of freedom in an unfree [sic] society but microcosms of the unfree society at large. Their population consisted of nobles bearing service and commoners bearing tiaglo. The city was militarized in that in the middle of the seventeenth century nearly two-thirds of Russian urban inhabitants consisted of military personnel. These residents had no common bond other than physical proximity: they were defined by their social status and the obligations they owed the state, not by common citizenship. They enjoyed neither self-government nor independent courts. Nothing resembling the Western European class of “burghers” had a chance to emerge. Novgorod and Pskov, which did develop genuine urban institutions, after their conquest by Moscow were reduced to the same status as the rest of Muscovite cities. The destruction of their self-government was only one aspect of Moscow’s determination to bring all cities to heel. Moscow’s expansion was everywhere accompanied by the physical destruction of cities and the expropriation of the owners of urban real estate, who were either deported or reclassified as servitors and commoners. According to the chronicles, virtually every acquisition of a city by Moscow during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was followed by the confiscations of its privately held real estate on behalf of the great prince. This, for example, was the procedure adopted by Ivan I kalita in the 1330s in Rostov. Basil III, emulating his father, Ivan III, carried out mass expulsions from Pskov (1509), shutting down the veche and replacing the expellees with his own servitors. These were not impulsive acts but a system: a cadastre of nineteen Russian cities compiled in 1503 for the khan of the Golden Horde listed most of them as burned down, with their “bad” people banished and replaced with the great prince’s loyal servants. Just as all private real estate was liquidated, so was every institution or practice faintly reminiscent of urban autonomy. In Russia, the juridical separation of the city from the land, a fundamental feature of European history since classical antiquity, never occurred. The Muscovite city, like cities in most regions of the world untouched by Western culture, was a mirror image of the country side. The resemblance even extended to appearance. Writing in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Russia’s most prominent historian of the time thus described the Russian city: “Europe consists of two regions: the western constructed of stone, and the eastern, made of wood….[Russian] cities consist of heap of wooden huts: the first spark, and instead [of a city] there is a heap of ashes. No great loss, however: there is so little of personal property that it is easy to carry it out, and building material is so cheap that to erect a new home costs next to nothing. For this reason, the ancient Russian so readily abandoned his home, his native town or village….” (- S. M. Solorriev) Muscovite cities were considered “black” land and as such subject to taxation. Their status as cities (goroda) was determined by the presence of a government official called the voevoda. The commoners inhabiting them were tied to their place of residence, like serfs, and forbidden to move without permission. Whereas in the West, according to the German adage, “city air makes free,” in the sense that a serf who had succeeded in residing in the city for a year and a day automatically gained his freedom, Russia recognized no statute of limitations on the retrieval of escaped serfs: serfdom was eternal. Like agriculture land, possession of urban real estate entailed service to the crown: “there was no form of urban property that private citizens [rather: subjects] might hold n right of full ownership.” (-J. Michael Hittle – The Service City) For the ground on which buildings stood was held either as votchina or as pomestie and in either case was liable to be confiscated for the inability or unwillingness of the residents to render service. (sounds an awful lot like property taxes)ATJ It could neither be bequeathed nor sold without government authorization. Even the market sites on Moscow’s Red Square belonged to the tsar. Lacking in both economic and legal privileges and subjected to heavy burdens, Russian cities developed slowly. The average Muscovite city in the mid-seventeenth century consisted of 430 households, each with five members, thus numbering slightly over two thousand inhabitants. Whereas in much of Western Europe by 1700 urban inhabitants accounted for 25 percent of the total population, and in England for as much as 50 percent, in Russia in the middle of the eighteenth century they constituted a mere 3.2 percent of the country’s male inhabitants subject to the soul tax, or approximately 7 percent of the population.

- Richard Pipes – Property and Freedom, 2000

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