|When Czar Nicholas I emancipated the serfs of the Russian Empire in 1861 it was not so much a liberal revolution as a return to traditional standards - for serfdom was not an ages-old institution in Russia, as in Western Europe, but a relatively late-developing tangent to the rise of imperial, centralized power. Historically, the great majority of the Russian people have been peasants, and by the mid-19th century almost all peasants were either serfs of private landowners or in serflike bondage to the state.
It was not always so. In Kievan Russia (879 A.D. - 1240 A.D.), and under the Tartar occupations (11th century - 14th century), most peasants had been freedmen, though there were some who were simple slaves. Though the process of the establishment of serfdom in Russia is variously interpreted, it can be