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Economic Development

As a result of the Distempered Time about 50% of arable lands were neglected, many villages deserted, cities depopulated. Vast territories in the north and west of the country passed to Poland and Sweden. Though the development of Siberia was going on well.

Restoration of the economy lasted several decades, and only in the middle of the century the areas of cultivated soils reached the former level. This long revival of economic life went on against a background of aggravation of social contradictions that accompanied the process of strengthening and distribution of serfdom. The wide distributed practice of granting of estates in the first decades of XVII century increased sharply the number of enslaved population and the degree of their dependence.

The role of large-scale feudal landed property grew. By the middle of the century each member of Boyard Duma possessed on average 520 peasant holdings. Four boyards - I.N. Romanov, F.I. Sheremetyev, I.B. Cherkassky, D.M. Pozharsky - owned from 1 to 3 thousand peasant holdings. The Troitse-Sergiyev and Kirillo-Belozersky Monasteries were among the biggest landowners as well.

Subsistence farming did not promote improvement of agricultural techniques. This determined an extensive character of development of agriculture and toughening of exploitation of extremely unproductive peasants' labour. Numerous duties to their masters and the state were beyond small farms strength. Runaway of peasants got grandiose scale in the time of Mikhail Fedorovich. Families, even whole villages made off.

Under the pressure of nobility the government continued the policy of serfdom's toughening. The most interested supporters of enslavement were numerous servicemen who possessed small ground areas with 10-30 families of peasants. They laid strong claims during the Zemsky Council in 1648. The attitude to this question of large landowners - boyars, monasteries and church hierarchs was a little different. Their estates had a very well-organized administrative machinery that allowed them to suppress runaways of peasants easily.

The gradual growth of the term of fugitives' pursuit grew in 1649 into a law that set eternal and hereditary attachment of peasants to the land. New features of the economic development of Russia appeared in the middle of XVII century. First of all it was concerned with the development of commodity manufacture both in cities and villages. People were gradually returning to desolate towns. Handycrafts were re-established.

By the middle of XVII century there were 250 towns in the territory of Russia (without Ukraine and Siberia). Moscow was the biggest among them; its population was about 270 thousand residents. Other 15 largest cities had more than 500 homesteads. Cities became centres of commercial and industrial life of the country. There appeared districts specializing on manufacture of certain goods.

The first manufactories were organized in Russia in 20-30's. There was division of labour and qualified masters worked at such enterprises. The first of them were engaged in metallurgy - the state needed weapons and handicraft industry could not serve quickly growing needs of the state any longer. In 1636 Andrey Vinius, a Dutch merchant, founded a factory producing cannons and cannon-balls in Tulsko-Kashirsky District. A part of its production went to the domestic market (frying pans, nails). The same factories were constructed by big landowners I.D. Miloslavsky and B.I. Morozov to meet the needs of their patrimonies in iron.

There appeared the first brass works. In 30's the first glass-works were founded near Moscow by Swede E. Koet. Its production was mainly for the Tsar's Court. Khamovny Dvor was the first textile manufactory that operated in Moscow. A rope factory was opened in Arkhangelsk. The total number of manufactories at the end of XVII century was hardly more than 20, and their overall share was rather insignificant in the market.

The main role in supply of population with industrial products and formation of the All-Russia market was played by small commodity manufacture. Strengthening of interdistrict relations resulted in appearance of All-Russia trade fairs - Makaryevskaya Fair (under Nizhni Novgorod), Svenskaya (under Bryansk), Irbitskaya in Ural. Moscow was the largest center of trade in Russia. All agricultural and industrial production, goods from the countries of the East and the Western Europe were gathered in Moscow. All wholesale bargains were also held in the capital. Developing trading relations laid the foundation of inter-economic consolidation of the country.

The top layer of the merchant class was formed by guests and tradesmen of the guest and cloth sotnias. The guests (in middle of the XVII century only 30 persons) were the richest and most privileged part of the merchant class. They had an exclusive right to go abroad on business and were exempted from many taxes and duties. Retail trade was in hands of small traders who owned one or several stores in the market place.

The trade with the countries of the Western Europe was carried out through the only Russian port - Arkhangelsk on the White Sea. ¾ of the country's trade turnover belonged to this port. The importance of Arkhangelsk was steadily growing during the century: 24 ships arrived in 1604, by the end of the century the annual number of incoming ships reached 70. The trade with the Asian countries was carried out through Astrakhan. Industrial goods made up the basis of the import from the European counties, while the East imported luxury goods. The Russian export consisted mainly of agricultural raw stuff and semi-product: hemp, cloth, furs, leather, lard, potash, etc.

The foreign trade of Russia was almost fully controlled by foreign merchants. They were gradually penetrating the home market as well. It evoked strong discontent of less rich and less organized Russian merchant class. Russian tradespeople lodged complaints since 1627, they demanded to exile foreigners. Only in 1653 the government issued the Trading Charter, which strengthened positions of the Russian merchants in the home market. Novotorgovy (New-trading) Charter of 1667 had even more protective character. It was compiled by a prominent statesman A.L. Ordin-Nashchokin.

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