2006 | 66 | 7-24
Article title

Conditions for Peasant Economic Activity in Little Poland and Red Rus' During the First Half of the Fifteenth Century in the Light of Locatio Documents

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The source foundation of the presented article is composed of 101 fifteenth-century locatio documents describing the obligations of the peasant population in relation to the estate owners. Out of this total 40 documents pertain to Church-owned villages (bishops' and monastic), 34 - to royal villages, 24 - to belonging to the gentry, and three villages in possession of towns in Little Poland (67 documents) and Red Rus' (34 documents). The sources have been analysed from the viewpoint of the size of the peasant farms and the level of the burdens borne for the village owners and sculteti, and paid in money and assorted natural forms. Almost all the analysed documents apply the category of the one-laneus farm. As in the fourteenth century, a laneus was to comprise the standard size of the peasant farm in a located village. To a certain extent its application was also convenient for describing the peasant obligations. Rent was collected usually on St. Martin's Day (11 November). The nominal value oscillated from 6 to 48 groszy (1 grosz = 18 denarii) per laneus, and the average in the first half of the fifteenth century amounted to not quite 23 groszy. The differentiation of the economic situation of the peasants can be perceived by comparing rent in the context of the types of property in particular villages. The lowest sums were paid by peasants living in Church estates – an average of 15 groszy, a higher rent – by about 10 groszy for each laneus – was paid in the royal villages and those belonging to the gentry, where the average was over 28 groszy. The highest rent was paid in the three villages owned by the burghers. Corvee is mentioned in only 33 documents, and its size oscillated from one day a year to one day a week, with a decidedly dominating yearly cycle - from one to 14 days. Weekly corvee is mentioned only in five cases. Particular forms of the feudal rent, especially money rent and corvee, were frequently of an equivalent nature. Their application depended on numerous factors, i.a. the distance between the village and the gentry estate or the manner in which the latter was organised. Rent in kind was usually paid in grain, as a rule in wheat and oat, from one bushel of oat to, in exceptional cases, 4 cwiertnie (1 cwiertnia = 8 gallons) of oat and 2 cwiertnie of wheat from a single laneus, but as rule not exceeding one cwiertnia of oats. This was a relatively small percentage of the grain produced by a peasant farm. Considerable significance was attached to poultry: cockerels, capons and predominantly eggs.

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  • P. Guzowski, Uniwersytet w Bialymstoku, Instytut Historii, pl. Uniwersytecki 1, 15-420 Bialystok, Poland
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