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A legacy of Serfdom in Poland?


Radders 3 | 47
3 Feb 2013  #1
Serfdom effectively ended in England in the 14th century when Feudalism faded. At that point, Poland and England were at about the same point; in both nations the service obligations of peasants had been converted to monetary payments and the number of 'free' peasants, i.e. those with the right to freedom of movement, increased dramatically. Then we diverged. England lost serfdom entirely, whilst in Poland things went backwards - until by the 18th century a Polish serf could be obliged to work 7 days a week for his lord, not allowed to move or to marry without the lord's permission, and could be raped or murdered at will by his master until the very end of the 18th century. The abolition of serfdom in Poland ran roughly parallel to the abolition of negro slavery in the West, from 1807 - 1861. This much I think all Poles know, but I repeat it for non-Poles on the forum.

The serfs were just the least free of a servile society in which no-one except the magnates were really free. A serf's failure to denounce another serf who milled their own corn, or ran away, or who infringed the lord's rights led to being held equally culpable, and their failure to join a successful manhunt for an escaped serf led to the rest having to make up the labour lost. So in practice serfs did denounce; they policed themselves. To a serf, any other serf except their immediate family (and maybe not even then) was a potential informer.

American blacks claim the legacy of slavery still shackles them from achieving their potential, but of course they are highly visible. Nothing today distinguishes a Pole whose great-great-grandfather was a serf from one descended from the szlachta. So the question is, does this negative legacy exist in Poland in any form? Or is it something confined solely to black americans?
Zibi - | 336
3 Feb 2013  #2
You see, it was not all that clear cut as you would think. For example, polish szlachta sat in the same church alongside their serfs, peasants, during sunday mass. Could that be said of blacks in America and their masters?
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
3 Feb 2013  #3
Could that be said of blacks in America and their masters?

Well, they did get Gospel from hearing the plantation owners singing Scottish plainsong hymms,so, you tell me.
A Noble sitting in a prime position in a Church demonstrating to the peasants in the cheap seats that he is far superior and even god thinks so,do you really see that as something to *boast* about?
OP Radders 3 | 47
3 Feb 2013  #4
Yes, of course; serfs were always recognised as having a soul and Gogol of course describes them as so many 'souls' - and neither could they be bought and sold individually, though land sale meant the transfer of ownership of serfs living on that land as well. Both different from negro slaves in the US. And many 'one horse' szlachta were not much materially better off than their serfs.

But no consciousness of that former status remains today? It's completely disappeared?
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
3 Feb 2013  #5
until by the 18th century a Polish serf could be obliged to work 7 days a week for his lord

Not really... up to 7 work days per household, which usually meant that a family made of several people worked for 1 day a week, they also could pay someone else to do this job, and all of that was instead of paying taxes... today paying ZUS or paying off mortgage is so cool ? The same shyt with better makeup.

and could be raped or murdered at will by his master until the very end of the 18th century.

Mainly according to commie era stories about bad bad pre-commie Poland... It was clearly a stupid system but not as terrible as you believe, very much different than negro slavery. Besides, in the USA negro people were often treated like crap till 60's/70's of 20th century. But anyway, they for sure complain too much about it, slavery has nothing to do with status of young negros these days.

does this negative legacy exist in Poland in any form?

No.
wjtk - | 29
3 Feb 2013  #6
Not really... up to 7 work days per household, which usually meant that a family made of several people worked for 1 day a week, they also could pay someone else to do this job, and all of that was instead of paying taxes... today paying ZUS or paying off mortgage is so cool ? The same shyt with better makeup.

Exactly. To fulfill his obligation peasant had to work maximum 104 days per year and that was this tax. In modern Poland we work 164 days per year to pay all taxes...
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
3 Feb 2013  #7
The same shyt with better makeup.

Yeps, have to agree :)


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