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Rent in kind or money (quitrent).

Obrok was land rent paid by a peasant to his lord either in kind or in money. Although there is disagreement about its status prior to the Mongol conquest, scholars agree that from the mid 1200s to the end of the 1400s, rents in kind dominated the economy after the Mongol invasion destroyed the urban market and caused a precipitous population decline.

As a market reemerged in the late 1400s and 1500s, dues paid in money increased significantly. But by the end of the fifteenth century, the new money dues were forcibly converted into more profitable labor dues (barshchina ). The latter became predominant on seigniorial estates into the early eighteenth century.

By the last third of the 1700s, market development and major agricultural expansion into the black soil region produced regional economic specialization. Rent in cash and in kind came to predominate in the non-black soil region, which extended north from Moscow. Fifty-five percent of the serfs in the region were on obrok. Increasingly the payments were in cash, which was earned largely from nonagricultural wages. This overall proportion remained relatively stable down to the emancipation, even though there was a strong shift from labor dues to cash payments near the capital as wages rose.

There has been a major controversy over what happened to the level of cash payments in the last hundred years of serfdom. Clearly, the nominal value of the payments increased rather sharply. But when adjustments are made for inflation and price increases, Western, Soviet, and post-Soviet scholars agree the increase was fairly moderate.

See also: barshchina; serfdom


Blum, Jerome. (1961). Lord and Peasant in Russia from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Moon, David. (1999). The Russian Peasantry, 16001930: The World the Peasants Made. London: Longman.

Elvira M. Wilbur