Sloboda. A self-governing settlement in 16th- to 18th-century Ukraine. The inhabitants of a sloboda were exempted by the owner (usually a magnate, also the state or the church) from obligations, such as fees and taxes, for an extended period (15 to 25 years). The privileges were offered by owners to attract peasants and skilled workers from other regions. The largest number of slobody sprang up in the first half of the 17th century in Right-Bank Ukraine and Left-Bank Ukraine. In the 1630s and 1640s hundreds of slobody were created on the border regions of Muscovy, and they attracted peasants from Left-Bank and Right-Bank Ukraine. By the end of the 18th century there were 523 slobody in that territory, which was called Slobidska Ukraine, and over 100 slobody on the lands of the New Sich.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries the term was sometimes used in central and eastern Ukraine to refer to larger villages as well as to industrial or factory settlements which did not have the status of cities or towns. About 100 places in Ukraine still retain sloboda or slobidka in their name, usually with an adjective referring to the larger town or territory where the settlement sprang up, among them Sharhorod (Shahorodska sloboda) and Krasyliv (Krasylivska slobidka) in eastern Podilia.
Encyclopedia of Ukraine