Quantitative Analysis and the Shelonskoe Pomestie, 1480-1540

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Pre-revolutionary historians (Rozhdestvenskii, e.g.) drew a sharp distinction between the temporary possession of the conditional pomest'e and the permanent ownership of the alodial votchina. The cadasters from Shelonskaia province in northwestern Russia, where the system began, undermine this distinction. Seventy-seven (60%) of the 128 Shelonskaia estates held by servingmen in 1539/1540 were “old” because the original family held the land for more than a generation. V.B. Kobrin (Vlast’ i sobstvennost’ v srednevekovoi Rossii, 1986) found the same continuity of possession in central Muscovy. Modern Russian historians (A.A. Danilov, Istoriia otechestva, 1996) agree the pomestie was “hereditary in fact, while . . . votchina holders were obligated to serve." Multiple linear regression uncovers the relative influence of the complex set of factors behind the continuity of possession. They include the landlord’s income, nearby family members, and each parcel’s average distance from the family seat (the index of fragmentation). The difficulty of traveling suggests the geographic distance of the family seat from Novgorod, Porkhov, Staraia Rusa, and Kursk was a factor. Since the pomeshchik had to support his sons’ service after their enrollment at the age of fifteen, the availability of nearby land (pridachas) was important too. The multiple linear regression coefficients computed from the 1540 Shelonskaia census data covering all of the province’s pomesties show the influence of the above independent variables on the rate of turnover (one for “old” and two for “new” estates). The partial correlation coefficients indicate the availability of additional land (0.47) and income received from the peasants’ dues (0.33) exercised the strongest influence on the rate of turnover. The older estates’ landlords received higher incomes and had larger pridachas to support their sons’ service.


Keywords: Novgorod, Shelonskaia, Pomestie, Votchina
Stream: Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Quantitative Analysis and the Shelonskoe Pomestie, 1480-1540


Dr. Vincent Hammond

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Central Arkansas
Conway, Arkansas, USA

I received a Ph.D. in Russian History (with additional fields in British and Modern European history) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research on sixteenth and seventeenth century Muscovy has focused on the legal distinction between the pomestie and votchinas and the application of quantitative analysis to the cadastral data explaining the rate of turnover of the pomestie. I have also conducted extensive research into the medieval Russian Parliament (zemskii sobor). My paper on “The Inheritability of the Shelonskaia Pomestie in the Sixteenth Century” was recently presented to the annual conference of the Arkansas College History Teachers’ Association while my paper on “Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Century Russian Parliaments” will be presented in January to the 6th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.

Ref: I08P0343