Feofanov Alexander

Stratification of the russian landed nobility in the middle — second half of the 18th century

Feofanov Alexander (2022) "Stratification of the russian landed nobility in the middle — second half of the 18th century ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2022, vol. 104, pp. 38-48 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII2022104.38-48


The study is based on the materials preserved in Fund 16 of the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (RGADA). They indicate the age, property status (number of serf”s souls), geographical location of their estates (in which county were the estates) and the place where they were assigned for service (army, guards, navy, etc.) or in an educational institution. A total of 8,762 noblemen were reckoned. The overwhelming majority of landlords had possessions in only one county. The median value of soul-ownership of all the nobles was 14 souls, for the landlords – 23 souls. More than 20 percent of the nobility had no peasants in their ownership. Landlords (who had over 100 souls) accounted for slightly more than 12 percent of all noblemen and about 16 percent of serf-owners alone. Of all the landlords, less than 1 percent were the descendants of the Duma officials of the Tzardom of Russia. Exactly half of them had the title of kniaz (prince), almost 60 percent were the children of military and civilian generals. They were very rich landlords, 92 percent had more than 500 souls, more than 78 percent owned more than 1,000 souls. Representatives of the titled nobility, namely, princes, numbered a little more than 2 percent of the total mass of landlords. A quarter of them belonged to the large landed gentry. In general, large landlords accounted for 2.5 percent of the total number of nobles, a third part of them were the descendants of the Duma officials. Magnates who owned a thousand souls or more made up just over 1 percent of the total mass of nobles, of which the descendants of Duma officials made up almost 60 percent. The future generals of the undergraduates of 1743–1750 were less than 3 percent, half of them came from families of landowners who owned less than a hundred souls. Of the children of generals (the first three ranks) almost 90 percent may be considered as large landlords, the owners of more than 1 thousand souls were 72 percent. At the same time, of the descendants of non-aristocratic nobles – sons of generals (of the first three ranks), the owners of more than a thousand souls were only 42 percent. These figures clearly show the conjugation of having large quantities of serfs and gentility. To be of noble origin was even more important than to have a rank of a general.


nobility, landowners, general officers, kniazes, boyars, serf-ownership, prosopography


  1. Kabuzan V. M., Troitskii S. M. (1971) “Izmeneniia v chislennosti, udel′nom vese i razmeshchenii dvorianstva v Rossii v 1782–1858 gg.” [Changes in the number, percentage, and distribution of the nobility in Russia in 1782–1858]. Istoriia SSSR, 1971, 4, pp. 162–164 (in Russian).
  2. Mironov B. N. (2014) Rossiiskaia imperiia: ot traditsii k modernu. T. 1. [The Russian Empire: from tradition to modernity. Vol. 1]. St. Petersburg (in Russian).
  3. Rubinshtein N. L. (1957) Sel’skoe khoziaistvo Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII v. [Russian agriculture during the 2nd half of the 18th century]. Moscow (in Russian).
  4. Shepukova N. M. (1964) “Ob izmenenii dushevladeniia pomeshchikov Evropeiskoi Rossii v pervoi chetverti XVIII — pervoi polovine XIX v.” [On the change in the sizes of serf-ownership in the European Russia in the 1st quarter of the 18th — 1st half of the 19th centuries]. Ezhegodnik po agrarnoi istorii Vostochnoi Evropy, 1963. Vil′nius, pp. 402–419 (in Russian).
  5. Vediushkin V. A., Korelin A. P., Marasinova E. N., Nazarov V. D. (2007) “Dvorianstvo” [Nobility], in Bol′shaia rossiiskaia entsiklopediia [Russian Encyclopaedia], 8, p. 385 (in Russian).
  6. Vodarskii Ia. E. (1977) Naselenie Rossii v kontse XVII — nachale XVIII veka [The population of Russia in the late 17th — early 18th centuries]. Moscow (in Russian).

Information about the author

Feofanov Alexander

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Place of work: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University; 23b Novokuznetskaya st., Moscow 115184, Russian Federation; Associate Professor of the department of History of Russia;
Post: Associate Professor, Department of Russian History;
ORCID: 0000-0001-7180-0927;
Email: aleksandr-feofanov@yandex.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.