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Old Russian term that describes a specific system of remunerating state officials.

Loosely translated as "feeding," Kormlenieu meant that princes awarded their servitors lands from which tribute could be extracted. Part of what was taken would be passed on to the prince, and the remainder would be kept.

In a situation of general poverty, where there was insufficient money to pay for needed troops, it may have seemed rational to offer kormlenie, but as that system came to form the basis for financing an emerging state bureaucracy, its serious drawbacks became apparent.

One problem was the lack of effective controls over how much was extracted; another, that the subjects would be drawn into complex patterns of personalized relations, where all distinctions between public and private were eroded. Above all, kormlenieu constituted a serious obstacle to the introduction of a money economy.

Under Tsar Peter the Great an attempt was made to replace kormleniei by the payment of wages, but under his successors persistent shortages of money caused a reversal to the old policies of allowing officials to live off the land.

Even in the Soviet era, one might well interpret the positions of local party bosses as similar to those of the holders of old kormlenie, who were allowed to help themselves to whatever they felt that their fiefdoms could offer.

See also: economy, tsarist


Pipes, Richard. (1974). Russia Under the Old Regime. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Stefan Hedlund

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