Korañ: three centuries from the life of a manor
The territory in central Belarus (approximately 50 km north of Minsk) has been selected as an object for micro–level investigation. The area of the territory is almost 100 km2. Starting from the first mention in the sources of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1395, this territory belonged to the Korań manor which was granted by the Great Duke Vitaut to the Capitular of the St.Stanislau Roman–Catholic church in Vilnia. During the last quarter of the 16th century, a Roman–Catholic church was established in Korań. After inclusion into the Russian Empire in 1793, the village of Korań remained in the ownership of the Korań Catholic church. The rest of the estate confiscated from the Vilnia Capitular was granted in 1795 by the Empress Catherine II to the General Ivan Nepluyev. From this time on, the manor got the name Krasny Bor.
Starting from the 16th century, the sources allow to trace changes in structure and size of the duties of the manor’ serfs. Under the Church ownership the rent prevailed, and sometimes the corvée took place. In the 18th century the highest norm of the work duty was stated in the inventory of 1786: 3 men’s and 2 women’s days of corvée from each voloka (plot of land which, as a rule, was used by two households averaging 6 persons each). In general, the work duties of the church serfs were much lower in comparison with private manors. After 1795, the work duties increased. In the inventories of 1804 and 1807 the corvee embraced 4 days per week per a plot of land belonging to one family. This corresponded approximately to 1 day per week per each person capable to work. The inventory of 1841 states a rather complicated system of corvee depending on a number of persons capable to work (aged from 15 to 50–55) each of whom had to devote 1 working day per week to the landlord. One more day was due from each household, irrespective of its size. As a result, the average number of the working days per each household reached 5.
The increase in the household size up to 9 persons might be the response of peasants to the growth of the work duties which took place within the period of the Russian rule. The households which possessed more hands were naturally in a more advantageous position. Therefore a delayed creation of separate households by fission became more profitable for peasants. The new system of work duties indicated in 1841 was probably the response of the landlords to the increase of the size of peasants’ households. Its aim was obviously to control the workforce and to allocate the work duties depending on the number of persons capable to work rather than on the number of households.