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Stratum plus. 2005-2009. №6

P. V. Sovetov

Late 17th – Early 18th Centuries as a New Stage in Proportions of Patrimonial and Centralized Systems of Feudal Exploitation of Moldavian Peasants

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Pages: 27-71

The paper is another chapter of the unfinished monograph (see Stratum plus, №6, p. 190-226). The author shows that the last decades of 17th century was a crucial point when the two main forms of feudal exploitation (patrimonial and centralized) getting bigger brought Moldavia into an economic crisis. Under these circumstances any further growth of state rent could only take place by redistributing the liege share in the added product. 
Charging levies from every landlord, including feuds, was aimed to pump means from private persons over still bigger predators as nobility at state service and the ruler himself, who were sharing part of their wealth with the Ottoman establishment. When transformation of patrimonial rent into centralized one involved all boyars’ and monasteries’ lands, it endangered further destinies of Moldavian patrimonial estates. 
Levies imposed on private landownership were at core of the main shift in the reform of the rent during the described period. Landowners going bankrupt en mass was its direct consequence. Extermination of patrimonial landownership was the logical outcome of the economic policy focused on maximum taxation. This would bear the complete loss of whatever had left of Moldavia’s local autonomy. Due to a number of external and internal circumstances the Ottoman powers did not go for introducing the military-feudal system in Moldavia, which was common everywhere else in the Empire. 
If the first attempts of the state’s offensive against patrimonial estates would stir anxiety, in a contemporary’s words “many houses of boyars and monasteries grew poor”, then the end of the period in question was marked by development of a prejudice about the coming collapse of the landlords. This idea became a leading motive of Moldavian chronicles at late 17th – first decades of 18th centuries. 
At the same time, many holders of patrimonial estates hoped that the liege incomes would grow with transition to the agricultural economy of East-European type. Politically, this transformation would be made possible through accepting the Russian sovereignty. A well known fact is, however, that the Prut River march of the Russian-Moldavian army led by Peter the Great and Dimitrie Cantemir was a failure.
To sum up, state exploitation played leading role in Moldavia in the given historical period and, in terms of the burden, was among the heaviest in Europe. At the same time, the liege (private) exploitation fell down to the lowest point in its development through the history of the feudal Moldavia. This evident asymmetry of taxation led to a crisis in the country which was overcome owing to the reforms of early 1740s when transformation of patrimonial rent into centralized rent was limited.

Keywords: Patrimonial Systems, Feudal Exploitation, Moldavian Peasants, Ottoman establishment

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