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The Settling of the Slavs
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Slavs

SlavsPloughed field farming constituted the base of the Eastern Slavs' economy. The peculiarities of its running in different regions of the Eastern European plain were defined by specific climatic conditions. Thus in southern (steppe and forest-steppe) regions, rich in fertile soil, fallow system of farming was widely used. With this system a plot of virgin land was being ploughed up, used for a long period of time and then it was thrown up till the renewal of soil fertility.

In northern regions covered with perennial forests hewing system of farming was used. That system required the preliminary hewing of a certain plot of a forest and subsequent scorching of it. As a result the soil fertilized with ashes for some years yielding greatly. When the plot became exhausted clearing of new lands was done. The Eastern Slavs used arable tools having running parts of iron - 'ralo' (in the South) and a plough (in the North). Wheat and some rye prevailed among corn; millet, buckwheat and barley were also known. Cattle-breeding, hunting (including fur-trade), fishing and wild-honey farming (carrying honey of wild bees) played a subordinate part in the economy of the Eastern Slavs.

A small family was a unit of economy. And the neighbours' community (a territorial one) - 'the verv' - was the lowest unit of social organization of direct producers and it united the economy of individual families. The transition from a clan commune and patriarchal clan to the neighbours' community and a small family took place in the process of the Slavs' settling in the 6th - 7th centuries. The members of the 'the verv' (the neighbours' community) owned hayfields' areas, forests and the waters jointly. As for ploughed fields they were divided among individual farms that belonged to the families - members of the neighbours' community. They united into tribal principalities and the latter - into the unions of tribal principalities.

In the course of Eastern Slavs' economic activity the process of standing apart of crafts and farming and singling out of craftsmen as a special social group (originally potters and smiths) took place.

Universal spreading of ploughed field farming with the use of iron tools gave the possibility of getting a surplus product sufficient for maintaining the ruling social stratum. Singling out of such a stratum was the result of disintegration of clan and tribal relations and increased the settling of the Slavs. The base of it was the military and service aristocracy, which appeared in the epoch of settling.

The unions oSlavsf tribal principalities constituted a very complicated social organism, the center of which was a fortified town (some towns gradually turned into cities). In the fortified central part of the town there were courts of kings and the nobility. A trading quarter inhabited by craftsmen and merchants was next to it. The most important problems were solved at the assemblies of the members of communities (veche) held in the towns. But gradually all the leading positions were taken by professional fighters and members of prince's armed force with prince at head. The first mentioning of prince's armed force refers to the 6th - 7th centuries according to Byzantine data. By the 9th century the members of prince's armed force became a privileged social group. In their hands princes concentrated the real power in the unions of tribes (thanks to the military forces and the wealth, piled up). All this gives objective premises for the formation of state organization in Slavs' social development.

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