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Before the Mongol conquest, peasants in Russia were more or less free. The Russian government of the 16th century purposely promoted serfdom to empower the nobles and weaken the peasants. There was even a law in 1649 which made serfdom hereditary. Other laws tied the serfs to their land and gave the landlords legal rights over them. They were practically slaves being bought, sold, and punished by their "owners".

Before the Mongol conquest, peasants in Russia were more or less free. The Russian government of the 16th century purposely promoted serfdom to empower the nobles and weaken the peasants. There was even a law in 1649 which made serfdom hereditary. Other laws tied the serfs to their land and gave the landlords legal rights over them. They were practically slaves being bought, sold, and punished by their "owners".

Men Israelite costumes and Southern Russia peasants costumes in 1837. Description from gettyimages.com. I searched for this on bing.com/images

Men Israelite costumes and Southern Russia peasants costumes in 1837. Description from gettyimages.com. I searched for this on bing.com/images

Early Color Photography | Early 20th-century Russia in Color Photos by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Early Color Photography | Early 20th-century Russia in Color Photos by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Costumes of Inhabitants of Little Russia, Ukrainian 1840. Description from world4.eu. I searched for this on bing.com/images

Costumes of Inhabitants of Little Russia, Ukrainian 1840. Description from world4.eu. I searched for this on bing.com/images

1723 - RUSSIA ABOLISH SLAVERY - Slavery abolished in Russia. Peter the Great converted the household slaves into house serfs.

1723 - RUSSIA ABOLISH SLAVERY - Slavery abolished in Russia. Peter the Great converted the household slaves into house serfs.

Catherine the Great wearing the uniform of her Preobrazhenskii regiment  painted by Vigilius Eriksen, 1762.

Catherine the Great wearing the uniform of her Preobrazhenskii regiment painted by Vigilius Eriksen, 1762.

Maria Tchebotareva. Trying to feed her 4 hungry children during the massive 1932-33 famine, she allegedly stole 3 pounds of rye from her former field—confiscated by the state as part of collectivization. Sentenced to ten years in the Gulag. When her sentence ended in '43, it was extended till '45. After release, she was required to live near her Gulag camp north of the Arctic Circle, and she was not able to return home until 1956, after the death of Stalin. She never found her children.

Maria Tchebotareva. Trying to feed her 4 hungry children during the massive 1932-33 famine, she allegedly stole 3 pounds of rye from her former field—confiscated by the state as part of collectivization. Sentenced to ten years in the Gulag. When her sentence ended in '43, it was extended till '45. After release, she was required to live near her Gulag camp north of the Arctic Circle, and she was not able to return home until 1956, after the death of Stalin. She never found her children.

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