The serfs, whose wrongs seldom attracted notice in an age indifferent to the claims of common humanity, found a friend in this severe monarch, and he protected even the despised and persecuted Jews.
On the great estates in Assyria and its subject provinces were many serfs, mostly of subject race, settled captives, or quondam slaves, tied to the soil they cultivated and sold with the estate but capable of possessing land and property of their own.
The service was usually discharged by slaves and serfs, but the amelu (and perhaps the muskinu) went to war.
By these measures the counts became citizens, the rural population ceased to rank as serfs, and the Italo-Roman population of the towns absorbed into itself the remnants of Franks, Germans and other foreign stocks.
Un homme d'etat russe (1884) gave the history of the emancipation of the serfs by Alexander II.
Up to 1861, the date of the emancipation, the peasant serfs had been under the patrimonial jurisdiction of their lords.
Dissidence of all kinds has made a considerable advance since the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, the increase - as might be expected in a wholly illiterate population - being greatest in the more extravagant sects.
Half of them were formerly serfs (10,447,149 males in 1858) - the remainder being " state peasants " (9,194,891 males in 1858, exclusive of the Archangel government) and " domain peasants " (842,740 males the same year).
The redemption was not calculated on the value of the allotments of land, but was considered as a compensation for the loss of the compulsory labour of the serfs; so that throughout Russia, with the exception of a few provinces in the S.E., it was - and still remains, notwithstanding a very great increase in the value of land - much higher than the market value of the allotment.
On the other hand, since 1861, and more especially since 1882, when the Peasant Land Bank was founded for making advances to peasants who were desirous of purchasing land, the former serfs, or rather their descendants, have between 1883 and 1904 bought about 19,500,000 acres from their former masters.
The great estates of the Church, on which were settled about a million serfs, were secularized and assimilated with the state-domains.
At one moment the idea of emancipating all the serfs was entertained, but the project was speedily abandoned, because it would have alienated the nobles - the only class on which Catherine could rely for support.
To conciliate them she greatly extended the area of serfage by making large grants of land and serfs to courtiers and public servants who had specially distinguished themselves.
She waited, however, until a deputation of the malcontents, who regretted the loss of liberum veto and who were afraid that the party of reform might undertake the emancipation of the serfs, came to St Petersburg and asked for support in defence of the ancient liberties.
Tradition ascribed to him the capture of the maritime town of Helos, which resisted his attempt to curtail its guaranteed rights, and the institution of the class of serfs called Helots.
There is nothing to be found in Tusser about serfs or bondmen, as in Fitzherbert's works.
Who made them serfs of the soil?
Forty thousand serfs and millions of rubles!
As soon as the provocatively gay strains of Daniel Cooper (somewhat resembling those of a merry peasant dance) began to sound, all the doorways of the ballroom were suddenly filled by the domestic serfs--the men on one side and the women on the other--who with beaming faces had come to see their master making merry.
With those about him, from his daughter to his serfs, the prince was sharp and invariably exacting, so that without being a hardhearted man he inspired such fear and respect as few hardhearted men would have aroused.
The prince went through the conservatories, the serfs' quarters, and the outbuildings, frowning and silent.
Sonya, Natasha, Petya, Anna Mikhaylovna, Vera, and the old count were all hugging him, and the serfs, men and maids, flocked into the room, exclaiming and oh-ing and ah-ing.
Hurry off and tell Maksim, the gardener, to set the serfs to work.
In the outlying serfs' quarters torches and candles were burning and no one slept.
On the way he intended to visit all his estates and see for himself how far his orders had been carried out and in what state were the serfs whom God had entrusted to his care and whom he intended to benefit.
Continuing to represent the liberation of the serfs as impracticable, he arranged for the erection of large buildings--schools, hospitals, and asylums--on all the estates before the master arrived.
The estates he had not before visited were each more picturesque than the other; the serfs everywhere seemed thriving and touchingly grateful for the benefits conferred on them.
Everywhere he saw the stewards' accounts, according to which the serfs' manorial labor had been diminished, and heard the touching thanks of deputations of serfs in their full-skirted blue coats.
He did not know that the brick buildings, built to plan, were being built by serfs whose manorial labor was thus increased, though lessened on paper.
Some domestic serfs Pierre met, in reply to inquiries as to where the prince lived, pointed out a small newly built lodge close to the pond.
"There now, you wish to liberate your serfs," he continued; "that is a very good thing, but not for you--I don't suppose you ever had anyone flogged or sent to Siberia--and still less for your serfs.
So that's what I'm sorry for--human dignity, peace of mind, purity, and not the serfs' backs and foreheads, which, beat and shave as you may, always remain the same backs and foreheads.
On other estates the serfs' compulsory labor was commuted for a quitrent.