The myth of the eternal poverty simple Russian people

Boris Kustodiev. Country Fair. 1920

Very widely believed that the common people in Russia have always lived hard, constantly hungry, and he endured all sorts of harassment from the boyars and the landowners. However, since it was for real? Of course, due to objective reasons, we now have almost no statistical data on the pre-revolutionary Russia, such as GDP per capita, cost of living, cost of living, etc.


The material for this article we will use quotes from the memoirs of foreigners on their visit to Russia at the same time. They are even more valuable to us, because foreigners do not need to deal with reality, glamorized stranger to them the country.

Interesting note left Yuri Krizhanich, Croatian theologian, philosopher, and in 1659 arrived in Russia. In 1661 he was exiled to Tobolsk — his views on a single, independent of the Church of Christ earthly disputes were unacceptable as the defenders of orthodoxy, and for Catholics. In exile, he spent 16 years, where he wrote a treatise on "Talk of vladetelstve", also known as the "Policy", which carefully analyzed the economic and political situation in Russia.

People even lower class inciting whole sable fur hats and whole … and that it is possible to invent absurd that even the black people and the peasants wear shirts, embroidered with gold and pearls? … Hats, odnoryadki and collars decorated with stripes and tvezami, balls, strings, cords of pearl, gold and silk …

It would prohibit the common people to use silk, gold and precious yarn scarlet cloth to boyar class different from ordinary people. For it will not unseemly to an insignificant clerk went in the same dress with a noble boyar … Such ugliness does not exist anywhere in Europe. Naigorshie black people wear silk dresses.Their wives are not different from the first noblewoman.

It should be noted that only in the 20th century, the world has come to that style of clothing no longer define wealth man. Blazers are ministers, professors, and can wear jeans as a billionaire, and a simple workflow.

And here is what Krizhanich about food, "the Russian land, compared with the Polish, Lithuanian and Swedish lands and White Russia is much more fertile and yields. Grow in Russia are large and nice garden vegetables, cabbage, radishes, beets, onions, turnips and different. Indian and domestic chickens and eggs in Moscow bigger and tastier than in the countries mentioned above. Bread, really, in Russia and other simple rural people eat much better and longer than in Lithuania, but the Swedish Polish lands. Fish is also produced in abundance. "And that's how it was, according to V.Klyuchevskogo, in 1630, a typical land-hungry (sows the field size of one acre, that is 9.1 hectare) farm Murom district:" 3-4 hive of bees, 2 -3 horses with foals, 1-3 Podtyolkov cow, 3-6 sheep, pigs, and 3.4 in the stands 10.6 quarters (1,26-2,1 cubic meters) of any bread. "

Many foreign travelers say more affordable products in Russia. Here is what Adam Oleary, who, as secretary to the embassy sent Schleswig-Holstein Duke Frederick III, the Shah of Persia, visited Russia in 1634 and 1636-1639 years. "Generally speaking, the whole of Russia, due to the fertile soil, provisions are very cheap, 2 pennies for a chicken, we got 9 eggs for a penny." And here is another quote from it is: "Since the game birds they have a tremendous amountthen it is not considered so rare and do not appreciate the way we have: capercaillie, black grouse and grouse different breeds of wild geese and ducks can be obtained from the peasants for a small sum of money".

Persian Orudj Bey Bayat (Urukh Bey), who in the late 16th century was part of the Persian embassy to Spain, converted to Christianity and became known as Don Juan of Persia gives similar evidence about cheap food in Russia: "We stayed in the city [ Kazan] eight days, and we were treated so profusely that the dishes had to throw out the window. In this country, no poor people, because food is so cheap that people take to the road to look for, who would give them away. "

And here is what the Venetian merchant and diplomat Barbaro Jehoshaphat, in 1479, who was in Moscow: "The abundance of grain and meat here is so great that the beef is not sold by weight, and by eye. In one brand you can get 4 pounds of meat, 70 chickens are gold piece, and the goose is not more than 3 marks. Winter brought to Moscow so many oxen, pigs, and other animals already quite shabby and frozen, that for once you can buy up to two hundred pieces. " Secretary of the Austrian Ambassador to Russia John Gvarienta Korb, who was in Russia in 1699, also notes the low cost of meat, "partridges, ducks and other wild birds, which are the subject of fun for many people and they are very expensive, are sold here for a low price, such as You can buy a partridge or two for a penny, and other species of birds are not acquired for a large sum. " Compatriot Korba, Adolf Lizek, the secretary of the Austrian ambassador, the former in Moscow in 1675, the year, and at all points out that "the birds so much that larks, starlings and blackbirds do not eat."

In the same 17-century Germany, the problem with the meat solved differently. There, during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was destroyed about forty percent of the population. As a result, it came to the point that the Hannover government officially allowed the sale of meat of people dying of hunger, and in some areas of Germany (Christian, by the way, the country) were allowed polygamy to fill casualties.

However, all of the above applies to the period before the 18th century, that is, Moscow kingdom. Let's see what was in the period of the Russian Empire. Interesting to note, Charles Gilbert Romm, an active participant in the French Revolution. From 1779 to 1786 he lived in Russia, in St. Petersburg, where he worked as a teacher and tutor of Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov. He made three trips to Russia. He wrote in a 1781 letter G. Dyubrelyu (unfortunately, it does not specify exactly what the peasants of question).

"The farmer is a slave as his master may sell, exchange, at its discretion, but generally preferable to slavery that freedom means used by our farmers. Here, everyone has more land than it can handle. Russian peasant, far away from city life, hardworking, very witty, hospitable, humane and, as a rule, live in prosperity. When it is finished for the winter harvest of all necessary for themselves and their cattle, he surrenders to rest in the hut (isba), if not assigned to a factory, of which there are many in this area, thanks to its rich mines, or if not a journey to their business or for the master. If there were better known craft, the peasants would have less time for leisure at a time when they are not agricultural labor. Master and slave would get myself from it, but neither one nor the other can not count their profits, as there are quite feel the necessity of crafts. There is in the simplicity of manners and contented air would never have left the people had minor bureaucrats or major property owners did not show the greed and self-seeking. Small population area is largely the cause of the abundance of all that is necessary for life. Food is so cheap that getting two louis, a farmer living very well off. "

Note that that the Russian "slavery" of the peasants preferred to the "freedom" of the French writes not just anybody, but an active participant in the future of the French Revolution, which was held under the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." That is, we have no reason to suspect him of bias and propaganda serfdom.

Here is what he wrote in one of his letters about the situation of French peasants before his departure for Russia:

Overall, my dear friend, and the walls of Versailles, and a hundred leagues away with the peasants treated so savagely that it turns the whole soul sensitive person. One can even say with good reason that their tyranny here more than in the distant provinces. It is believed that the presence of seniors should help reduce their disaster that saw their misery, these gentlemen should try to help with the handle. This is the opinion of all who have a noble heart, but not the court. They are looking for things to do in the hunt with such vehemence that they are willing to sacrifice for it everything. All neighborhoods of Paris turned into game reserves, causing accidents [farmers] are prohibited weed their fields weeds that choke their bread. Except that they are allowed to stay awake all night, driving from their vineyards ruining their deer, but is not allowed to hit any of these deer. Worker, bent in slavish obedience, often wasting their time and skills in the service of powdered and gilded idols, who ruthlessly persecuted him, unless he decided to ask for a fee for their work.

It is just about those "free" French peasants, "freedom" which, according to Romm, worse than the "slavery" of the Russian serfs.

Pushkin, who had a profound intellect and who knew the Russian village, said: "Fonvizin in the late XVIII century. traveled in France, said that, in good conscience, the fate of the Russian peasant seemed to him good fortune French farmer. Trespass believe … no painful. Capitation paid world; corvee defined by law not Reaver dues (except in the vicinity of Moscow and St. Petersburg, where a variety of industry turnover increases and annoying self-interest owners) … To have a cow everywhere in Europe, is a sign of luxury, we do not have a cow is a sign of poverty. "

Position of the Russian serfs were better not only French, but also Irish. Here's what he wrote in 1824, the British captain John Cochrane. "Without any hesitation … I say, that the situation of the local peasantry much better state of this class in Ireland. In Russia, the abundance of food, they are good and cheap, and in Ireland the lack of them, they are an abomination, and roads, and the best of them are taken out of another country, while local obstacles in the first result in the fact that they are not worth such expense. Here, in every village you can find good, comfortable log houses, huge herds scattered vast pastures, and a forest of wood can be purchased for pennies. Russian peasant can become rich ordinary diligence and frugality, especially in the villages located between the capital. " Recall that in the 1741 famine took to the graveone-fifth of the population of Ireland — About 500 thousand people. During the famine of 1845-1849. died in Ireland from 500 thousand to 1.5 million. Significantly increased emigration (from 1846 to 1851 left 1.5 million people.). Finally, in 1841-1851 years. Ireland's population fell by 30%. In the future, Ireland is also rapidly losing population: in 1841 the population was 8 million 178 thousand people, in 1901 — only 4 million 459 thousand

We would like to highlight the issue of housing:

"Those whose homes were lost by fire, can easily make new buildings: a white wall on a particular market is worth a lot of houses, a part of folded and partly dismantled. They can be bought cheaply and deliver and put in place "- Adam Oleary.

"And by the Skorodumov with vast area, which sold an incredible amount of any forest: beams, planks, bridges and even the towers felled already finished homes that without any difficulty after buying and dismantling them shipped anywhere" — James Reytenfels, Courland nobleman , was in Moscow from 1670 to 1673.

"This market is located in a large area and is a whole lot of ready-made wooden houses of diverse species. The buyer, being on the market, announces how many want to have a room, eyeing the woods and pays the money. The part seems incredible how to buy a home, carry and put it in one week, but we should not forget that there are quite prepared to sell the house cut down, so it does not cost anything to take them and build again, "- William Cox, an English traveler and historian, visited Russia twice (in 1778 and 1785 m.). Another English traveler Robert Bremner, in his book "Travel to Russia," published in 1839, wrote: "There are areas of Scotland, where the people are huddled in homes that Russian peasants deemed unfit for their cattle."

Here's what he wrote Russian traveler and scientist Vladimir Arsenyev about peasant dwelling in his book "On the Ussuri region," which is based on the events of his expedition to the Ussuri taiga in 1906:

Inside the hut were two rooms. One of them had a large Russian stove and around the different shelves with dishes, closed the curtains, and polished brass washstand. Along the walls were two long benches, wooden table in the corner, covered with a white cloth, and the table with the shrine of old images depicting saints with large heads, dark faces and long thin hands.
..
Another room was spacious. Then the wall was a large bed, screened chintz curtains. Under the windows again stretched the bench. In the corner, as well as in the first room was a table covered with a makeshift tablecloth. On the wall between the windows hung watch, and next to them a shelf with a big old leather-bound books. In another corner was a manual machine Singer, on a nail by the door hung a small-bore rifle Mauser and Zeiss binoculars. Throughout the house the floors were scrubbed clean, well vystrugany ceilings, walls properly caulked.

From all the above it is clear that, according to the foreigners themselves, which can compare the life of ordinary people in Russia as well as in their countries, and that there is no need to embellish the Russian reality, during the pre-Petrine Russia, and the Russian Empire at the time the common people lived in not generally poorer, and often richer than the other peoples of Europe.

Of course, the children in the schools fool head is other information. What's the worst that after zdachi school exams begin institutions where information is changing dramatically again, and what do you do to the poor students, from which teachers need not know that? They have to repeatedly re-teach-suffering history. Although many of the students in these and similar situations in other sciences use a custom report on pre-graduation practice, and feels fine, not zamorachivayas because the more stringent innovations. Anyone figure out that it is better to order the report, coursework or a test at the proposed site and not to suffer.

References:
1. "Russia — it is life itself. Notes foreigners about Russia from the XIV to the XX century "
Publisher Sretensky, 2004
2. A. Goryanin. Myths about Russia and the spirit of the nation, M., Pentagraphic, 2002
3. B. Medina. On the Russian drunkenness, laziness and cruelty. M. Olma, 2008
4. AV Chudinov About traveling Gilbert Romm in "Siberia" (1781): hypotheses and facts
5. Richard Pipes. Russia under the old regime.
6. V.K.Arsenev. By Ussuri region. Dersu Uzala. M., The Truth, 1983.

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