How Ryazan peasants bought a whole village from a master

On February 20, 1803, Emperor Alexander the First signed a decree on free farmers. According to this decree, the serfs could, in agreement with the landowner, ransom for freedom and become, as the document said, "free farmers." Before the official abolition of serfdom in 1861, about 150, 000 peasants exercised this right. And in the Ryazan province, the peasants bought out an entire village from the landowner.

The village of Izhevskoye, Ryazan province, belonged to Nikolai Ivanovich Demidov, a general of the Russian army, a representative of a family of famous entrepreneurs, one of the richest in Russia. The peasants of the village paid the owner a substantial annual rent in the amount of 62, 000 rubles. If translated into modern money, the amount will be tens of millions. The inhabitants of Izhevsk were far from poor, despite the fact that the local land did not give large harvests. Their income was brought by the local craft - the manufacture of barrels.

Izhevskoye was not called the cooper's capital of the Russian Empire for nothing. In winter, they made blanks for barrels, and in summer they sold their goods at the docks of the Volga and Oka. The money earned was enough to pay the rent to Demidov and for his own needs. Only by the beginning of the thirties of the last century, the health of the owner of the village had seriously deteriorated. He was no longer young, had no direct heirs, besides, even those considerable sums that the serfs collected annually were not enough for a luxurious life.

It turned out that Demidov had an impressive debt of almost 1, 300, 000 rubles. It was rumored that he lost most of this money at cards. Nikolai Ivanovich, trying to make ends meet, announced the sale of his estate. Buyers were soon found, but the estate manager Anton Stepanovich Voronkov suggested that the villagers buy themselves free from the master.

At the village gathering, Voronkov said that Demidov was seriously ill, if the deal on the sale of the village did not take place in the near future, then the debts, after the death of the owner, would be divided among all the peasants. Voronkov himself said that he was ready to personally contribute 30, 000 rubles. By the way, the manager turned out to be right, Demidov, indeed, died soon after, unsuccessfully trying to recover at the Caucasian mineral water resorts.

But the owner managed to get the deal to buy out the village. A letter was sent to Demidov, in which the peasants were asked to name the redemption amount. Barin did not miss an opportunity to earn money and named a fantastic amount - 1, 000 rubles per capita. The price was so prohibitive that even the Ministry of Finance, before signing the document, sent it to the emperor for consideration. The sovereign ordered to reduce the ransom amount by at least 30 percent.

As a result, the peasants had to pay 3, 339, 200 rubles for freedom. Suffice it to say that in 1867 the United States bought Alaska from Russia for 11, 000, 000. This is 1.7 million square kilometers. Residents of the village of Izhevskoye paid Demidov 650, 000 rubles at a time, the rest of the amount was to be paid in installments. In June 1832, all the necessary documents were signed in St. Petersburg and sent for execution to the Ryazan governor.