Landless peasants

Landless peasants (pidsusidky ‘those under neighbors’). The collective name for various categories of impoverished peasants in 16th- to 18th-century Ukraine who did not have their own land but worked for neighbors who did—primarily Cossack captains, common Cossacks, and monasteries—in exchange for shelter and garden plots. Some pidsusidky had their own homes and even oxen and farm tools, but not arable land. Others were peasants and Cossacks who sold their land to neighbors to avoid taxation, military service, and other feudal obligations. Because many peasants chose to sell, in the 1690s the government of the Hetman state in Left-Bank Ukraine began restricting the possibilities and forcing pidsusidky to perform corvée. In the Hetman state in 1732, 7 percent of the peasant and Cossack households included pidsusidky. Most of the pidsusidky in Left-Bank Ukraine and Slobidska Ukraine became serfs after Catherine II introduced serfdom there in 1783.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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