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Government and Political System of Russia in XVI century.
Social and Economic Development of Russia in XVI century
Internal Policy
Reforms of the middle of XVI century
The Oprichnina (1565-1572)
The Reign of Tsar Feodor Ivanovich (1584-1598).
Foregn Policy
The Livonian War (1558-1583)
Russian Culture in XVI century
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Social and Economic Development of Russia in XVI century

The territory of Muscovy by the end of 10's of XVI century was about 2,8 million sq. km, and the population - 6,5 million. Average density of population was 2,3 men per 1 sq. km, and that could not certainly stimulate development of agriculture. On the whole Russia widely exploited resources of internal and, after annexation of the new lands, external colonization.

In XVI century the taxes were imposed upon lands, not peasants, therefore adult sons and nepnep had the right to leave for new territories. A big role in colonization was played by monasteries. Subsistence economy still prevailed, however, there were some areas specializing on certain cultures. For example Zamoskovsky Krai developed arable lands and productive cattle breeding, the Volga Region was engaged in cattle breeding.

Trade and craft were also developing. New professions and occupations appeared (Only in metal processing there were more than twenty specialities.) Ustyuzhna Zhelezopolskaya and Tula became the centres of iron production. The number of trading villages was also growing (first of all in the Novgorod Land). Though cities (with only about 2% of the whole population of Russia) remained the true centresof trade. Moscow of XVI century had the population of 100 thousand people, Novgorod - only about 30 thousand, while many other Russian cities had less than 500 estates.

In the time of the Grand Duke Vasily Ivanovich stone became frequently used in construction. Many foreign masters were invited to Russia for this purpose. Foreigners were also involved in gunnery.

Oprichnina and the Livonian War had grave consequences on Russia: ruined villages and cities, scattering peasants. Stagnation of the national economy in 60's was aggravated by an epidemic of plague in 70's and bad harvests - all that resulted in an economic crisis. 9/10 of lands in several central areas were absolutely neglected. Survived peasants left for the Volga and Ural regions, to the south, and from the middle of 80's - to Siberia.

In search for a way out from the crisis of 1581/1582 the government set "forbidden years" during which any resettlement of peasants was banned. By the end of XVI century peasants completely lost the right to leave their landlord. Overcoming of the crisis was restrained by the taxes that preserved the same level while the actual amount of the lands cultivated by peasants was reduced. The market had a slow development and renting of feudal lords' lands by peasants was also rare. Economic rise began in 90's, but extensive character of agriculture made it extremely vulnerable as two or three poor harvest years were just enough to put the economy in jeopardy.

The land owners were mainly secular and church feudal lords. Their ancestral lands had wide tax and judicial privileges fixed by the grand-ducal or princely decrees. In XVI century considerable changes took place in the structure of the feudal landed property. The share of landed gentry increased greatly. The further development of the landed property system led to a sharp reduction of the number of state peasants in the central regions of the country.

A distinctive feature of economic development of the medieval Russia was a naturally arisen territorial division of the two forms of feudal landed property: steady estate land ownership of secular and church feudal lords in the central areas and communal country landed property in sparsely populated remote areas. The latter was gradually falling under the control of the State and consequently was broadly exploited. State peasants and free Cossack communities of remotes did not radically change the picture of complex social relations. Since the basic tendency was the increase of dependent population.

Despite the variety of life ways and social relations in formerly independent lands the general tendency of social and economic development of the country in XVI century was strengthening of the feudal serfdom order. An economic basis of serfdom was feudal landed property: landlord estates, ancestral lands and the state landed property. According to their social status peasants were as well subdivided into three groups: those who belonged to different secular and church feudal lords; those who belonged to the Court; and state peasants who lived in volost communities in the lands belonged to no one, but these peasants had to carry out certain state duties.

Trade grew notably in XVI century. The main centres of trade were in Moscow, Veliky Novgorod, Kholmogory, Nizhni Novgorod and in other cities. Grain was transported to the northern lands and they, in their turn, supplied fish, salt, furs. Big feudal lords and above all the Grand Duke had a lot of privileges and so they played the first role in domestic trade. Monasteries also traded. Merchants of big cities had a great influence as well.

Foreign trade increased. Commercial intercourse with the western neighbors of Russia was carried out through the cities of Novgorod and Smolensk. In 1553 a sea route to England was established through the White Sea (port Arkhangelsk). Russia exported the goods of home trades and wood in return for industrial goods: cloth, weapon, metals. Then the whole Volga Way fell to suzerainty of Russia the eastern direction of foreign trade became also important. From the East Russia received Chinese fabrics, porcelain, jewelry and instead sent furs, hemp fiber and wax.

On the whole the upgrowth of stock rotation of internal and especially foreign trade in XVI century resulted in development of financial system and accumulation of capital. However in conditions of feudal serfage and hard fiscal state policy this money went directly to the Treasury, to feudal lords, supported usury and involved population in further bondage.

A stratum of the merchant class was forming from various social groups in the process of trade expansion. Several exclusive merchant associations were established in Moscow. They were controlled by the government, that provided them with tax and judicial privileges. In legal respect they were substantially equalized in rights with feudal land owners.

The Stroganovs were the first-rate merchants of XVI century. Representatives of this family - Spiridon, Kuzma, Luka and Feodor, coast-dweller peasants by origin, founded a powerful commercial and industrial house in XV century. This enterprise existed till 1917.

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