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Lay Cash Land Purchases during the Reign of Ivan IV

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Historians disagree about whether laymen, especially the lay elite of boyars, gentry, and bureaucrats, purchased landed estates in Muscovy for cash during the reign of Ivan IV (1533–1584). Some have concluded that lay buyers could and did buy land; others, to the contrary, insist that the dominance of conditional-land holding and the poverty of the elite precluded such purchases. Unfortunately, those historians who take the former position have provided only selective, isolated examples of lay land purchases to substantiate their conclusion. No one has collected a sufficient number of purchase records to sustain statistical analysis. This article fills that lacuna by aggregating a data-base of 205 cases of lay land purchases. It then analyzes the data on the basis of seven parameters: date, type of document, purchaser, social class of purchaser, seller, type of land, geographic location, and ruble amount. This quantity of evidence definitively corroborates the position that laymen, particularly members of the elite, were able to purchase landed estates for cash during Ivan's reign. The implications of this phenomenon require further study.
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Keywords: 16TH CENTURY; IVAN IV; LANDED ESTATE; RUSSIA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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  • The Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas ("East European History") present the discipline in its entire breadth; for thematically focused articles the emphasis lies on the territory of the former Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union. A double-blind review process with international experts ensures adherence to the annals' recognized high quality standards. An extensive section devoted to reviews informs the reader about current trends in German and international research. In addition, the editorial board publishes an electronic review supplement under the title jgo.e-reviews at recensio.net.
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