Zakup. A semifree bondsman in Kyivan Rus’ (11th–12th centuries) and later in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (14th–16th centuries). Legally the zakupy were free people, but in actual fact they were equal in status to slaves as a result of their voluntarily assumed dependence on their landlord or a particular institution. People became zakupy by agreeing to a loan (kupa), with their personal bondage as a guarantee. Ruskaia Pravda defined the relationship of the zakup with the landlord and categorized the zakupy into those who worked in the households (dvirni) and those who worked in the fields (roleini). The landlord had the right to mete out corporal punishment, but he could not kill or sell a zakup. The zakup had the right to bring charges against the landlord before the prince's court (see Court system), to own property, to enter into agreements, and to appear in court as a witness. The repayment of the debt made the zakup a free man, but an attempt to escape before repayment could reduce him to a slave (kholop).

Under Lithuanian rule in Ukraine the zakupy were debtors, known as zakupni (equivalent to the dvirni) or as liudy v peniazikh (equivalent to the roleini). Relations between the landlord and the zakup were based on a bilateral private legal agreement, and the Lithuanian Statute only stated the amount which the zakup was obliged to repay annually. The zakupni would repay their debt by labor, whereas the liudy v peniazikh would repay an equivalent value from the yearly harvest. Zakupy who did not manage to repay their debt would become serfs (nepokhozhi peasants). (See also Feudalism and Land tenure system.)

Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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