December 13 2017
Take-Home Final Examination
Serfdom in Russia is a prettier way of saying slavery, Nicholas I never truly agreed with Serfdom being slavery. Although he did say American slavery was wrong and it needed to stop. Serfs were peasants that occupied a plot of land and were required to work for the owner of that land. In return they were entitled to protection, justice, and the right to cultivate certain fields within the estate, although it sounds nice peasants had to sign their life away to the owner. Serfs were often required not only to work on the owner’s fields, but also in his mines, forests and work on maintain the roads. Peasants had no other choice, the owners would come in take the land and force the peasants to work for them, in return they got to stay on there tiny piece of land. There was no refusal once your land was taking over you were bound legally and financially to your owner, although the serfs were not treated as inhumanely as American slaves they still had no human rights and were in short property of there owners.
The Russian people wanted change, and it wasn’t just the serfs. Throughout the many years of serfdom hundreds of thousands of serfs would attempt to free themselves from the grasp of their owners. Not to0 many people however would go on to make a memoir about there lives as a serf. Aleksandr Nikitenk one of the few people who decided to write a memoir about his life as a serf tells an interesting story of what it was like as a serf. This story was interesting because it didn’t tell the story of any normal serf, in fact it told the story of a middle class family that was forced into serfdom because of a father’s mistake. Through education and self perseverance, we follow a young boy named Nikitenk in his quest to freedom, unlike other serfs however Nikitenk had an education and was very smart in his path towards freedom. It almost creates a false sense of comfort on what serfdom really was like for your average serf.
Russian serfdom had served its purpose for a developing nation, some of the greatest super powers to date had some sort of slavery to help them achieve their goals faster. However, serfdom was far outlived, in fact it never needed to happen. “By the time of the Decembrist Rebellion in 1825 Russian serfdom had outlived its usefulness to the state and the village as a form of rural control and a way of peasant life. Indeed, as a vehicle for village stability and social justice, serfdom no longer had any redeeming value as an institution” (Professor Pearson). This statement couldn’t be more right, serfdom had far outlived its purpose in Russia and it was shown through the rebellions that occurred, for instances the Decembrist revolt which really was the starting point in opening the eyes of Nicholas I that something needed to change. Many rebellions came before the Decembrist Rebellion that should’ve acted as an eye opener such as...