Kholop. The term designating a male slave (a female slave was called roba); it was used interchangeably with cheliadnyk (see Cheliad). According to Ruskaia Pravda a kholop was an object, rather than a subject, of law: for taking the life of a kholop one paid a monetary fine known as prodazha, not a vyra, the fine for killing a freeman. A kholop's master was responsible for any crime committed by him. One could become a kholop voluntarily or involuntarily. A freeman could assume the status by marrying a roba, by selling himself to a prince or boyar, or by serving in the capacity of a tyvun or of keeper of the keys. Involuntary kholopy were either war captives, zakupy who committed a crime, debtors unable to repay their debts, or descendants of kholopy. Voluntary kholopy and kholopy who were artisans had a higher value and received better treatment than ordinary kholopy (riadovychi). A master could dispose of his kholopy freely and could even sell or kill them. In fact they were often bought and sold. Yet kholopy enjoyed the right to own property. Their condition changed somewhat after the church promoted their redemption through monetary payments and provided protection to some categories of kholopy (see Slavery). Full (obelni) kholopy were of a lower status than half-free individuals (zakupy). In Muscovy most kholopy became serfs in the 14th–15th centuries, but the institution survived, particularly in the form of debtor servitude. In the Polish Commonwealth the khlop (Polish: chłop) was not a slave, but a dependent peasant. In modern times the term has been applied to peasants in general.

Zimin, A. Kholopy (Moscow 1973)

Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989).]

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