LEGAL REGULATION OF THE ABOLITION OF SERFDOM IN BALTIC GOVERNORATES OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE IN EARLY 19TH CENTURY: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND, REALISATION, SPECIFIC FEATURES AND
This presentation is devoted to significant reforms - abolition of serfdom at the second decade of 19th century in three Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire. The author analyses the background to the abolition of serfdom noting that in this case not only the struggle of Estonian and Latvian peasants for their rights, but also the activities of liberal circles of Baltic German elite played a significant role. Abolition of serfdom in Baltic governorates was supported by liberally minded Russian emperor Alexander I. Landtag (Diet of knighthood) of every Baltic governorate adopted analogous Peasantry Laws – Estonian in 1816, Courland in 1817 and Livonian in 1819 which then were confirmed by emperor. These laws established terms of liberation of peasants, transitional period regulation, civil and administrative law of peasants, peasant courts and their competence, law of procedure, offenses against rules of administrative law. These reforms had a compromise character, because liberation of the peasants was performed basing on condition that all the farmland remains in the ownership of the landlords. The relationship between landowners and peasants further was regulated on basis of free lease contract. Initially the economic situation of peasants was worsened, because landlords could demand corvée and payments in kind as rent which was not limited by law as it was before. However, peasantry laws issued for Baltic governorates in the middle of 19th century prescribed mandatory selling of farmland to peasants, promoting the formation of the class of Latvian and Estonian bourgeoisie.