Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959. He was the son of the emperor Leo VI and his fourth wife, Zoe Karbonopsina, the nephew of his predecessor, the emperor Alexander. Most of his reign was dominated by co-regents: from 913 until 919 he was under the regency of his mother, while from 920 until 945 he shared the throne with Romanos Lekapenos, whose daughter Helena he married, his sons. Constantine VII is best known for his four books, De Administrando Imperio, De Ceremoniis, De Thematibus, Vita Basilii, his nickname alludes to the Purple Room of the imperial palace, decorated with porphyry, where legitimate children of reigning emperors were born. Constantine was born in this room, although his mother Zoe had not been married to Leo at that time; the epithet allowed him to underline his position as the legitimized son, as opposed to all others who claimed the throne during his lifetime.
Sons born to a reigning Emperor held precedence in the Eastern Roman line of succession over elder sons not born "in the purple". Constantine was born at Constantinople, an illegitimate son born before an uncanonical fourth marriage. To help legitimize him, his mother gave birth to him in the Purple Room of the imperial palace, hence his nickname Porphyrogennetos, he was symbolically elevated to the throne as a two-year-old child by his father and uncle on May 15, 908. In June 913, as his uncle Alexander lay dying, he appointed a seven-man regency council for Constantine, it was headed by the Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos, the two magistroi John Eladas and Stephen, the rhaiktor John Lazanes, the otherwise obscure Euthymius and Alexander's henchmen Basilitzes and Gabrielopoulos. Following Alexander's death, the new and shaky regime survived the attempted usurpation of Constantine Doukas, Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos assumed a dominant position among the regents. Patriarch Nicholas was presently forced to make peace with Tsar Simeon of Bulgaria, whom he reluctantly recognized as Bulgarian emperor.
Because of this unpopular concession, Patriarch Nicholas was driven out of the regency by Constantine's mother Zoe. She was no more successful with the Bulgarians, who defeated her main supporter, the general Leo Phokas, in 917. In 919 she was replaced as regent by the admiral Romanos Lekapenos, who married his daughter Helena Lekapene to Constantine. Romanos used his position to advance to the ranks of basileopatōr in May 919, to kaisar in September 920, to co-emperor in December 920. Thus, just short of reaching nominal majority, Constantine was eclipsed by a senior emperor. Constantine's youth had been a sad one due to his unpleasant appearance, his taciturn nature, his relegation to the third level of succession, behind Christopher Lekapenos, the eldest son of Romanos I Lekapenos, he was a intelligent young man with a large range of interests, he dedicated those years to studying the court's ceremonial. Romanos kept and maintained power until 944, when he was deposed by his sons, the co-emperors Stephen and Constantine.
Romanos spent the last years of his life in exile on the Island of Prote as a monk and died on June 15, 948. With the help of his wife, Constantine VII succeeded in removing his brothers-in-law, on January 27, 945, Constantine VII became sole emperor at the age of 39, after a life spent in the shadow. Several months Constantine VII crowned his own son Romanos II co-emperor. Having never exercised executive authority, Constantine remained devoted to his scholarly pursuits and relegated his authority to bureaucrats and generals, as well as to his energetic wife Helena Lekapene. In 949 Constantine launched a new fleet of 100 ships against the Arab corsairs hiding in Crete, but like his father's attempt to retake the island in 911, this attempt failed. On the Eastern frontier things went better if with alternate success. In 949 the Byzantines conquered Germanicea defeated the enemy armies, in 952 they crossed the upper Euphrates, but in 953 the Hamdanid amir Sayf al-Daula entered the imperial territory.
The land in the east was recovered by Nikephoros Phokas, who conquered Hadath, in northern Syria, in 958, by the general John Tzimiskes, who one year captured Samosata, in northern Mesopotamia. An Arab fleet was destroyed by Greek fire in 957. Constantine's efforts to retake themes lost to the Arabs were the first such efforts to have any real success. Constantine had active diplomatic relationships with foreign courts, including those of the caliph of Cordoba Abd ar-Rahman III and of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. In the autumn of 957 Constantine was visited by Olga of Kiev, regent of the Kievan Rus'; the reasons for this voyage have never been clarified. According to legends, Constantine VII fell in love with Olga, however she found the way to refuse him by tricking him to become her godfather; when she was baptized, she said. Constantine VII died at Constantinople in November 959 and was succeeded by his son Romanos II, it was rumored that Constantine had been poisoned by his son or his da
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated south of the Southern Carpathians. Wallachia is traditionally divided into two sections and Oltenia. Wallachia as a whole is sometimes referred to as Muntenia through identification with the larger of the two traditional sections. Wallachia was founded as a principality in the early 14th century by Basarab I, after a rebellion against Charles I of Hungary, although the first mention of the territory of Wallachia west of the river Olt dates to a charter given to the voivode Seneslau in 1246 by Béla IV of Hungary. In 1417, Wallachia accepted the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. In 1859, Wallachia united with Moldavia to form the United Principalities, which adopted the name Romania in 1866 and became the Kingdom of Romania in 1881. Following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the resolution of the elected representatives of Romanians in 1918, Transylvania as well as parts of Banat, Crișana, Maramureș were allocated to the Kingdom of Romania, thereby forming the modern Romanian state.
The name Wallachia is an exonyme not used by Romanians themselves who used the denomination "Țara Românească/Rumânească” - Romanian Land. The term "Wallachia" is derived from the term walhaz used by Germanic peoples to describe Celts, romanized Celts and all Romance-speaking people. In Northwestern Europe this gave rise to Wales and Wallonia, among others, while in Southeast Europe it was used to designate Romance-speakers, subsequently shepherds generally. In the Early Middle Ages, in Slavonic texts, the name Zemli Ungro-Vlahiskoi was used as a designation for its location; the term, translated in Romanian as "Ungrovalahia", remained in use up to the modern era in a religious context, referring to the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan seat of Hungaro-Wallachia, in contrast to Thessalian or Great Vlachia in Greece or Small Wallachia in Serbia. The Romanian-language designations of the state were Muntenia, Țara Românească, România. For long periods after the 14th century, Wallachia was referred to as Vlaško by Bulgarian sources, Vlaška by Serbian sources, Voloschyna by Ukrainian sources and Walachei or Walachey by German-speaking sources.
The traditional Hungarian name for Wallachia is Havasalföld "Snowy Lowlands", the older form of, Havaselve, meaning "Land beyond the snowy mountains". In Ottoman Turkish, the term Eflâk Prensliği, or simply"Eflâk افلاق, appears. Arabic chronicles from the 13th century had used the name of Wallachia instead of Kingdom of Bulgaria, they gave the coordinates of Wallachia and specified that Wallachia was named al-Awalak and the dwellers ulaqut or ulagh. The area of Oltenia in Wallachia was known in Turkish as Kara-Eflak and Kuçuk-Eflak, while the former has been used for Ottoman Moldova. In the Second Dacian War western Oltenia became part of the Roman province of Dacia, with parts of Wallachia included in the Moesia Inferior province; the Roman limes was built along the Olt River in 119 before being moved to the east in the second century, during which time it stretched from the Danube up to Rucăr in the Carpathians. The Roman line fell back to the Olt in 245 and, in 271, the Romans pulled out of the region.
The area was subject to Romanization during the Migration Period, when most of present-day Romania was invaded by Goths and Sarmatians known as the Chernyakhov culture, followed by waves of other nomads. In 328, the Romans built a bridge between Sucidava and Oescus which indicates that there was a significant trade with the peoples north of the Danube. A short period of Roman rule in the area is attested under Emperor Constantine the Great, after he attacked the Goths in 332; the period of Goth rule ended when the Huns arrived in the Pannonian Basin and, under Attila and destroyed some 170 settlements on both sides of the Danube. Byzantine influence is evident during the 5th to 6th century, such as the site at Ipotești-Cândești, but from the second half of the 6th century and in the seventh century, Slavs crossed the territory of Wallachia and settled in it, on their way to Byzantium, occupying the southern bank of the Danube. In 593, the Byzantine commander-in-chief Priscus defeated Slavs and Gepids on future Wallachian territory, and, in 602, Slavs suffered a crucial defeat in the area.
Wallachia was under the control of the First Bulgarian Empire from its establishment in 681, until the Hungarians' conquest of Transylvania at the end of the 10th century
Moldavia is a historical region and former principality in Central and Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester River. An independent and autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia as the basis of the modern Romanian state; the region of Pokuttya was part of it for a period of time. The western half of Moldavia is now part of Romania, the eastern side belongs to the Republic of Moldova, the northern and southeastern parts are territories of Ukraine; the original and short-lived reference to the region was Bogdania, after Bogdan I, the founding figure of the principality. The names Moldova are derived from the name of the Moldova River. Dragoș was accompanied by his female hound called Molda; the dog's name would have been extended to the country. The old German Molde, meaning "open-pit mine" the Gothic Mulda meaning "dust", "dirt", referring to the river. A Slavic etymology, marking the end of one Slavic genitive form, denoting ownership, chiefly of feminine nouns.
A landowner named Alexa Moldaowicz is mentioned in a 1334 document as a local boyar in service to Yuriy II of Halych. In several early references, "Moldavia" is rendered under the composite form Moldo-Wallachia. Ottoman Turkish references to Moldavia included Boğdan Boğdan. See names in other languages; the name of the region in other languages include French: Moldavie, German: Moldau, Hungarian: Moldva, Russian: Молдавия, Turkish: Boğdan Prensliği, Greek: Μολδαβία. The inhabitants of Moldova were Christians. Archaeological works revealed the remains of a Christian necropolis at Mihălășeni, Botoșani county, from the 5th century; the place of worship, the tombs had Christian characteristics. The place of worship had a rectangular form with sides of seven meters. Similar necropolises and places of worship were found at Nicolina, in IașiThe Bolohoveni, is mentioned by the Hypatian Chronicle in the 13th century; the chronicle shows that this land is bordered on the principalities of Halych and Kiev.
Archaeological research identified the location of 13th-century fortified settlements in this region. Alexandru V. Boldur identified Voscodavie, Voloscovti, Volcovti and their other towns and villages between the middle course of the rivers Nistru/Dniester and Nipru/Dnieper; the Bolohoveni disappeared from chronicles after their defeat in 1257 by Daniel of Galicia's troops. Their ethnic identity is uncertain. In the early 13th century, the Brodniks, a possible Slavic–Vlach vassal state of Halych, were present, alongside the Vlachs, in much of the region's territory. Somewhere in the 11th century, a Viking named Rodfos was killed by Vlachs in the area of what will become Moldavia. In 1164, the future Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, was taken prisoner by Vlach shepherds around the same region. Friar William of Rubruck, who visited the court of the Great Khan in the 1250s, listed "the Blac", or Vlachs, among the peoples who paid tribute to the Mongols, but the Vlachs' territory is uncertain.
Rubruck described "Blakia" as "Assan's territory" south of the Lower Danube, showing that he identified it with the northern regions of the Second Bulgarian Empire. In the 14th century, King Charles I of Hungary attempted to expand his realm and the influence of the Catholic Church eastwards after the fall of Cuman rule, ordered a campaign under the command of Phynta de Mende. In 1342 and 1345, the Hungarians were victorious in a battle against Tatar-Mongols; the Polish chronicler Jan Długosz mentioned Moldavians as having joined a military expedition in 1342, under King Władysław I, against the Margraviate of Brandenburg. In 1353, Dragoș, mentioned as a Vlach Knyaz in Maramureș, was sent by Louis I to establish a line of defense against the Golden Horde forces of Mongols on the Siret River; this expedition resulted in a polity vassal to Hungary, centered around Baia. Bogdan of Cuhea, another Vlach voivode from Maramureș who had fallen out with the Hungarian king, crossed the Carpathians in 1359, took control of Moldavia, succeeded in removing Moldavia from Hungarian control.
His realm extended north to the Cheremosh River, while the southern part of Moldavia was still occupied by t
Cossacks were a group of predominantly East Slavic-speaking people who became known as members of democratic, self-governing, semi-military communities, predominantly located in Eastern and Southern Ukraine and in Southern Russia. They inhabited sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper, Don and Ural river basins and played an important role in the historical and cultural development of both Ukraine and Russia; the origins of the first Cossacks are disputed, though the 1710 Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk claimed Khazar origin. The emergence of Cossacks is dated to the 14th or 15th centuries, when two connected groups emerged, the Zaporozhian Sich of the Dnieper and the Don Cossack Host; the Zaporizhian Sich were a vassal people of Poland–Lithuania during feudal times. Under increasing pressure from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the mid-17th century the Sich declared an independent Cossack Hetmanate, initiated by a rebellion under Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Afterwards, the Treaty of Pereyaslav brought most of the Cossack state under Russian rule.
The Sich with its lands became an autonomous region under the Russian-Polish protectorate. The Don Cossack Host, established by the 16th century, allied with the Tsardom of Russia. Together they began a systematic conquest and colonisation of lands in order to secure the borders on the Volga, the whole of Siberia and the Yaik and the Terek rivers. Cossack communities had developed along the latter two rivers well before the arrival of the Don Cossacks. By the 18th century Cossack hosts in the Russian Empire occupied effective buffer zones on its borders; the expansionist ambitions of the Empire relied on ensuring the loyalty of Cossacks, which caused tension given their traditional exercise of freedom, self-rule, independence. Cossacks such as Stenka Razin, Kondraty Bulavin, Ivan Mazepa and Yemelyan Pugachev led major anti-imperial wars and revolutions in the Empire in order to abolish slavery and odious bureaucracy and to maintain independence; the empire responded with ruthless executions and tortures, the destruction of the western part of the Don Cossack Host during the Bulavin Rebellion in 1707–08, the destruction of Baturyn after Mazepa's rebellion in 1708, the formal dissolution of the Lower Dnieper Zaporozhian Host in 1775, after Pugachev's Rebellion.
By the end of the 18th century Cossack nations had been transformed into a special military estate, "a military class". Similar to the knights of medieval Europe in feudal times or the tribal Roman auxiliaries, the Cossacks came to military service having to obtain charger horses and supplies at their own expense; the government provided only supplies for them. Cossack service was considered the most rigorous one; because of their military tradition, Cossack forces played an important role in Russia's wars of the 18th–20th centuries, such as the Great Northern War, the Seven Years' War, the Crimean War, Napoleonic Wars, the Caucasus War, numerous Russo-Persian Wars, numerous Russo-Turkish Wars and the First World War. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tsarist regime used Cossacks extensively to perform police service, they served as border guards on national and internal ethnic borders. During the Russian Civil War and Kuban Cossacks were the first people to declare open war against the Bolsheviks.
By 1918 Russian Cossacks declared the complete independence and formed independent states, the Don Republic and the Kuban People's Republic. The Ukrainian State emerged. Cossack troops formed the effective core of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, Cossack republics became centers for the anti-Bolshevik White movement. With the victory of the Red Army, the Cossack lands were subjected to Decossackization and the Holodomor. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Cossacks made a systematic return to Russia. Many took an active part in post-Soviet conflicts. In Russia's 2002 Population Census, 140,028 people reported their ethnicity as Cossacks. There are Cossack organizations in Russia, Ukraine and the United States. Max Vasmer's etymological dictionary traces the name to the Old East Slavic word козакъ, kozak, a loanword from Cuman, in which cosac meant "free man", from Turkish/Turkic languages quazzaq rabble rouser, trouble maker, outcast rebel, from Tatar languages Kazak skinny bollard The ethnonym Kazakh is from the same Turkic root.
In modern Turkish it is pronounced as "Kazak". In written sources the name is first attested in Codex Cumanicus from the 13th century. In English, "Cossack" is first attested in 1590, it is not clear when new Slavic people apart from Brodnici and Berladniki started settling in the lower reaches of major rivers such as the Don and the Dnieper after the demise of the Khazar state. It is unlikely it could have happened before the 13th century, when the Mongols broke the power of the Cumans, who had assimilated the previous population on that territory, it is known that new settlers inherited a lifestyle that persisted there long before, such as those of the Turkic Cumans and the Circassian Kassaks. However, Slavic settlements in southern Ukraine started to appear early during the Cuman rule, with the earliest ones, like Oleshky, dating back to the 11th century. Early "Proto-Cossack" groups are reported to have come into existence within the present-day Ukraine in the mid-13th century as the influence of Cumans grew weaker, though some have ascribed their origins to as early as the tenth century.
Some historians suggest that the Cossack people were of mixed ethnic origins, descending from Russians, Belarusians, Turks and others who settled or passed through the vast Steppe. However some Turkologists arg
In the medieval history of Europe, Bulgaria's status as the Bulgarian Empire, wherein it acted as a key regional power occurred in two distinct periods: between the seventh and eleventh centuries, again between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The two "Bulgarian Empires" are not treated as separate entities, but rather as one state restored after a period of Byzantine rule over its territory. Bulgaria is one of the few historic states and nations whose economy and society were never based on slavery, slavery never played an important role in Bulgarian statehood development and wealth. Not long after the Slavic incursion, Moesia was once again invaded, this time by the Bulgars under Khan Asparukh, their horde was a remnant of Old Great Bulgaria, an extinct tribal confederacy situated north of the Black Sea in what is now Ukraine. Asparukh attacked Byzantine territories in Moesia and conquered the Slavic tribes there in 680. A peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire was signed in 681, marking the foundation of the First Bulgarian Empire on the territory both north and south of the lower course of the Danube River in 681 as an alliance between the ruling Bulgars and the numerous slavs in the area, becoming the oldest still existing Slavic state.
The minority Bulgars formed a close-knit ruling caste. It is described as having lasted between 681 and 1018, when it was subjugated by the Byzantine Empire despite Emperor Samuel's fierce resistance. Tervel of Bulgaria, son of Asparuh, was the Khan at the beginning of the 8th century. In 705 Emperor Justinian II named him Caesar, the first foreigner to receive this title. Tervel played an important role in defeating the Arabs during the Siege of Constantinople in 717–718. During Krum reign in the early 9th century Bulgarian territory doubled in size, spreading from the middle Danube to the Dnieper and from Odrin to the Tatra Mountains, his able and energetic rule brought law and order to Bulgaria and developed the rudiments of state organization. Bulgaria reached its cultural and territorial apogee in the 9th century and early 10th century under Prince Boris I and Emperor Simeon the Great, when its early christianization in 864 allowed it to develop into the cultural and literary center of Slavic Europe, as well as one of the largest states in Europe, thus the period is considered the Golden Age of medieval Bulgarian culture.
Major event is the development of the Cyrillic script at the Preslav Literary School, declared official in 893, as was declared the liturgy in Old Church Slavonic called Old Bulgarian. The medieval Bulgarian state was restored as the Second Bulgarian Empire after a successful uprising of two nobles from Tarnovo and Peter, in 1185, existed until it was conquered during the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans in the late 14th century, with the date of its subjugation given as 1396, although some fringe views place it at 1422; until 1256, the Second Bulgarian Empire was the dominant power in the Balkans, defeating the Byzantine Empire in several major battles. In 1205 Emperor Kaloyan defeated the newly established Latin Empire in the Battle of Adrianople, his nephew Ivan Asen II made Bulgaria a regional power again. During his reign, Bulgaria spread from the Adriatic to the economy flourished. Under Ivan Asen II in the first half of the 13th century the country recovered much of its former power, though this did not last long due to internal problems and foreign invasions.
Bulgarian artists and architects created their own distinctive style. Until the 14th century, during the period known as the Second Golden Age of Bulgarian culture, literature and architecture flourished; the capital city Tarnovo, considered a "New Constantinople", became the country's main cultural hub and the centre of the Eastern Orthodox world. The Empire became tributary to the Golden Horde, a successor state of the Mongol Empire in the 13th to 14th centuries. After the death of Emperor Ivan Alexander in 1371 Bulgaria was split into three countries and in the following decades fell under the domination of the Ottomans. After the Ottoman conquest, many Bulgarian clerics and scholars emigrated to Serbia, Wallachia and Russian principalities, where they introduced Bulgarian culture and hesychastic ideas. Kingdom of Bulgaria History of Bulgaria Zlatarski, Vasil N.. Medieval History of the Bulgarian State. Sofia: Science and Arts Publishers, 2nd Edition, Zahari Stoyanov Publishers, 4th Edition, 2006.
ISBN 978-954-739-928-0. Бакалов, Георги. Електронна издание – История на България. София: Труд, Сирма. ISBN 978-954-528-613-1. Делев, Петър. История и цивилизация за 11. Клас. Труд, Сирма. Българите и България. Министерство на външните работи на България, Труд, Сирма. 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-11-10. Fine, John V. A. Jr.. The Early Medieval Balkans. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08149-3
Serfdom is the status of many peasants under feudalism relating to manorialism. It was a condition of debt bondage, which developed during the Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century; as with slaves, serfs could be bought, sold, or traded, abused with no rights over their own bodies, could not leave the land they were bound to. Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land. In return they were entitled to protection and the right to cultivate certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Serfs were required not only to work on the lord's fields, but in his mines and forests and to labor to maintain roads; the manor formed the basic unit of feudal society, the lord of the manor and the villeins, to a certain extent serfs, were bound legally: by taxation in the case of the former, economically and in the latter. The decline of serfdom in Western Europe has sometimes been attributed to the widespread plague epidemic of the Black Death, which reached Europe in 1347 and caused massive fatalities, disrupting society.
The decline had begun before that date. Serfdom became rare in most of Western Europe after the medieval renaissance at the outset of the high Middle Ages. But, conversely it grew stronger in Central and Eastern Europe, where it had been less common. In Eastern Europe the institution persisted until the mid-19th century. In the Austrian Empire serfdom was abolished by the 1781 Serfdom Patent. Serfdom was abolished in Russia in the 1860s. In Finland and Sweden, feudalism was never established, serfdom did not exist. According to medievalist historian Joseph R. Strayer, the concept of feudalism can be applied to the societies of ancient Persia, ancient Mesopotamia, Muslim India and Japan during the Shogunate. James Lee and Cameron Campbell describe the Chinese Qing dynasty as maintaining a form of serfdom. Melvyn Goldstein described Tibet as having had serfdom until 1959, but whether or not the Tibetan form of peasant tenancy that qualified as serfdom was widespread is contested by other scholars.
Bhutan is described by Tashi Wangchuk, a Bhutanese civil servant, as having abolished serfdom by 1959, but he believes that less than or about 10% of poor peasants were in copyhold situations. The United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery prohibits serfdom as a practice similar to slavery; the word serf was derived from the Latin servus. In Late Antiquity and most of the Middle Ages, what are now called serfs were designated in Latin as coloni; as slavery disappeared and the legal status of servi became nearly identical to that of the coloni, the term changed meaning into the modern concept of "serf". Serfdom was coined in 1850. Serfs had a specific place in feudal society, as did barons and knights: in return for protection, a serf would reside upon and work a parcel of land within the manor of his lord, thus the manorial system exhibited a degree of reciprocity. One rationale held that a serf "worked for all" while a knight or baron "fought for all" and a churchman "prayed for all".
The serf was the worst fed and rewarded, but at least he had his place and, unlike slaves, had certain rights in land and property. A lord of the manor could not sell his serfs. On the other hand, if he chose to dispose of a parcel of land, the serfs associated with that land stayed with it to serve their new lord; this unified system preserved for the lord long-acquired knowledge of practices suited to the land. Further, a serf could not abandon his lands without permission, nor did he possess a saleable title in them. A freeman became a serf through force or necessity. Sometimes the greater physical and legal force of a local magnate intimidated freeholders or allodial owners into dependency. A few years of crop failure, a war, or brigandage might leave a person unable to make his own way. In such a case he could strike a bargain with a lord of a manor. In exchange for gaining protection, his service was required: in labour, produce, or cash, or a combination of all; these bargains became formalized in a ceremony known as "bondage", in which a serf placed his head in the lord's hands, akin to the ceremony of homage where a vassal placed his hands between those of his overlord.
These oaths bound the lord and his new serf in a feudal contract and defined the terms of their agreement. These bargains were severe. A 7th-century Anglo Saxon "Oath of Fealty" states: By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to N. be true and faithful, love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I with will or action, through word or deed, do anything, unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will. To become a serf was a commitment
A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or farmer one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and paying rent, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, peasants were divided into three classes according to their personal status: slave and free tenant. Peasants either hold title to land in fee simple, or hold land by any of several forms of land tenure, among them socage, quit-rent and copyhold; the word peasantry is used in a non-pejorative sense as a collective noun for the rural population in the poor and under-developed countries of the world. The word "peasant" is derived from the 15th century French word païsant, meaning one from the pays, or countryside. Peasants made up the majority of the agricultural labour force in a pre-industrial society; the majority of the people in the Middle Ages were peasants. Though "peasant" is a word of loose application, once a market economy had taken root, the term peasant proprietors was used to describe the traditional rural population in countries where smallholders farmed much of the land.
More the word "peasant" is sometimes used to refer pejoratively to those considered to be "lower class" defined by poorer education and/or a lower income. The open field system of agriculture dominated most of northern Europe during medieval times and endured until the nineteenth century in many areas. Under this system, peasants lived on a manor presided over by a bishop of the church. Peasants paid labor services to the lord in exchange for their right to cultivate the land. Fallowed land, pastures and wasteland were held in common; the open field system required cooperation among the peasants of the manor. It was replaced by individual ownership and management of land; the relative position of peasants in Western Europe improved after the Black Death had reduced the population of medieval Europe in the mid-14th century: resulting in more land for the survivors and making labor more scarce. In the wake of this disruption to the established order centuries saw the invention of the printing press, the development of widespread literacy and the enormous social and intellectual changes of the Enlightenment.
The evolution of ideas in an environment of widespread literacy laid the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution, which enabled mechanically and chemically augmented agricultural production while increasing the demand for factory workers in cities, who became what Karl Marx called the proletariat. The trend toward individual ownership of land, typified in England by Enclosure, displaced many peasants from the land and compelled them unwillingly, to become urban factory-workers, who came to occupy the socio-economic stratum the preserve of the medieval peasants; this process happened in an pronounced and truncated way in Eastern Europe. Lacking any catalysts for change in the 14th century, Eastern European peasants continued upon the original medieval path until the 18th and 19th centuries. Serfdom was abolished in Russia in 1861, while many peasants would remain in areas where their family had farmed for generations, the changes did allow for the buying and selling of lands traditionally held by peasants, for landless ex-peasants to move to the cities.
Before emancipation in 1861, serfdom was on the wane in Russia. The proportion of serfs within the empire had decreased "from 45-50 percent at the end of the eighteenth century, to 37.7 percent in 1858." In Germany, peasants continued to center their lives in the village well into the 19th century. They belonged to a corporate body and helped to manage the community resources and to monitor community life. In the East they had the status of serfs bound permanently to parcels of land. A peasant is called a "Bauer" in German and "Bur" in Low German. In most of Germany, farming was handled by tenant farmers who paid rents and obligatory services to the landlord—typically a nobleman. Peasant leaders supervised the fields and ditches and grazing rights, maintained public order and morals, supported a village court which handled minor offenses. Inside the family the patriarch made all the decisions, tried to arrange advantageous marriages for his children. Much of the villages' communal life centered on holy days.
In Prussia, the peasants drew lots to choose conscripts required by the army. The noblemen handled external relationships and politics for the villages under their control, were not involved in daily activities or decisions. Information about the complexities of the French Revolution the fast-changing scene in Paris, reached isolated areas through both official announcements and long-established oral networks. Peasants responded differently to different sources of information; the limits on political knowledge in these areas depended more on how much peasants chose to know than on bad roads or illiteracy. Historian Jill Maciak concludes that peasants "were neither subservient, nor ignorant."In his seminal book Peasants into Frenchmen: the Modernization of Rural France, 1880–1914, historian Eugen Weber traced the modernization of French villages and argued that rural France went from backward and isolated to modern and possessing a sense of French nationhood during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
He emphasized the roles of railroads, republican schools, universal military conscription. He based his findings on school records, migration patterns, military-service documents and economic trends. Weber argued that until 1900 or so a sense of French nationhood