Quantitative Analysis and the Shelonskoe Pomestie, 1480-1540
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
Dr. Vincent Hammond
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Central Arkansas