Pokhozhi peasants

Pokhozhi peasants (pokhozhi seliany). A category of formally free peasants who lived on and utilized state-owned lands in the 14th- to 16th-century Lithuanian-Ruthenian state. In exchange they paid tribute or taxes in cash or kind and fulfilled basic agricultural and labor obligations to the state (eg, plowing and harvesting land on the grand duke's estates and around castles, delivering hay and wood to castles, building roads, bridges, and fortifications, hunting and fishing for the grand duke). Those obligations were collectively called tiahlo (‘draft,’ from the use of draft animals; thence the term tiahlo peasants). The pokhozhi (‘mobile’) peasants had the right to move to other places. Their personal property, and their inheritance rights, which were regulated by customary law, were diminished over time. Pokhozhi peasants who moved onto lands owned by feudal lords, or who lived on lands granted by the grand duke to such lords, no longer had obligations to the state, but paid quitrents to and performed corvée for the lords. Their freedom to leave was subject to restrictive loan agreements with the lord and excessive penalties for breaking their contracts. After 10 years they became nepokhozhi peasants; that is, they lost their freedom to move and were partially enserfed (see Serfdom).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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