Libmonster ID: BY-2140

Chisinau. 1967. 399 pp. Circulation of 1000 copies. Price 1 rub. 74 kopecks.

Soviet historical science has recently been enriched by a number of studies devoted to the socio-economic development of Bessarabia in the era of feudalism and capitalism. Especially many works have appeared on the history of the peasantry and the peasant movement .1 However, some issues of this topical topic, primarily the history of the national economy of the region, remain unsolved. The recently published peer-reviewed work of J. S. Grosul and I. G. Budak is the first monographic study of all branches of the national economy of Bessarabia for the 50-year period preceding the reform of 1861. It reveals both the general features and specifics of economic relations in Moldova during the transition from feudalism to capitalism. The material presented by the authors allows us to judge the origins of those features that were inherent in the economy of Bessarabia in the post-reform period and then in the era of imperialism.

The monograph contains a detailed socio-economic analysis of the progressive consequences of the annexation of Bessarabia to Russia in 1812. Incorporation of Bessarabia into the centralized Russian Federation

1 Ya. S. Grosul. Peasants of Bessarabia (1812-1861). " Kishinev. 1956; I. G. Budak. The development of capitalism in agriculture in Bessarabia during the post-reform period. Chisinau. 1964; I. A. Antsupov. State village of Bessarabia in the XIX century (1812-1870). Chisinau. 1966; V. I. Zhukov. Cities of Bessarabia 1812-1861 Chisinau. 1964; I. I. Meshcheryuk. Migration of Bulgarians to Southern Bessarabia in 1828-1834 Chisinau. 1965; "History of Moldova". Tt. I-II. Chisinau. 1965.

page 170

It guaranteed the empire's external security, streamlined its administrative, judicial, and fiscal systems, and promoted a more rational use of natural resources. The authors do not idealize the situation of the broad masses of the region after 1812. Bessarabia became part of a feudal-feudal state; the Moldavian people, like the peoples of other national suburbs of tsarist Russia, were subjected to feudal exploitation, political and national oppression (p.35). But the union with the Russian, Ukrainian and other fraternal peoples of our Homeland provided Moldovans with the opportunity for faster economic and cultural development.

The authors aim to identify the continuity in the development of many socio-economic processes in the region before and after 1812. Until recently, the socio-economic history of Bessarabia was studied in isolation from its development under foreign oppression. As a result, many specific phenomena inherited from that time (some forms of feudal land ownership, a number of categories of the rural population, legal norms, etc.) remained, in fact, unexplained. Therefore, it was difficult to determine What qualitatively new things appeared in Bessarabia after 1812. Of particular interest, in our opinion, are the changes in the forms of exploitation of the working masses after 1812. In the works of researchers studying the history of Moldavia before the XIX century, it is shown that then the surplus product from the population of the country was collected mainly in a centralized way (in the form of various taxes, contributions, duties and other duties in favor of the landowner and officials)2 , while the exploitation of peasants by feudal lords was relatively low. The peasant was attached to the village as a taxpayer, and not to a feudal lord, as, for example, a Russian serf. Money collected centrally was spent unproductively: 62.4% of the principality's revenues went to the Porte, 20.8% to the boyars, and 16.8% to the gospodar (p. 360). The accumulated wealth, therefore, in a significant part flowed out of the country, which was the main obstacle to the initial accumulation of capital, and therefore to the transition to the capitalist formation. But over time, even in Bessarabia, the center of feudal exploitation is gradually transferred to the patrimony. Corvee and dues are on the rise, while the share of state duties in the appropriation of surplus product is falling. However, in the conditions of the 19th century, the patrimonial form of exploitation could no longer assume the forms of domination and subordination that were characteristic of other countries in the 16th and 18th centuries. The personal freedom of the Bessarabian peasants is preserved. The developing patrimonial economy is increasingly adapting to commodity-money relations. The expansion of agricultural production, along with the trend of development of the economy of the manor estate, was also facilitated by the increasing use of free labor. Thus, in the pre-reform period in the Bessarabian countryside, there is an intertwining of two principles that led to the expansion of the marketability of agriculture and predetermined the course of the development of capitalism in northern and central Bessarabia along the so-called "Prussian path". Only in the south of Bessarabia, where the role of the lordly estate was insignificant, did the development of capitalism go to a large extent in the so-called "American way".

Specifically, the book examines the emergence of capitalist relations in industry and agriculture, reveals the features of the process of initial accumulation, manifested, in particular, in the absence of the problem of free workers. The Bessarabian peasants, being legally personally free, could sell their labor more easily than, for example, the peasants of the central provinces of Russia. The authors rightly point out that 1812 marked the beginning of a new stage of initial accumulation in Bessarabia (p.385). However, the sources of initial accumulation and the main stages of this process are only outlined in the book. Moldovan historians are faced with the task of continuing to study the genesis of capitalism in the region, the process of forming classes in bourgeois society.

The book raises an interesting question about the penetration of capitalist relations into the Rezesh fiefdoms (in these fiefdoms, land was owned as "intoxicated" representatives of the nobility, who went bankrupt as a result of the restructuring of the feudal state-

2 P. G. Dmitriev and P. V. Sovetov. The role of the centralized way of appropriating surplus product from the peasants of feudal Moldavia in the XV-XVIII centuries. " Yearbook on the agrarian History of Eastern Europe. 1963". Vilnius. 1965.

page 171

The diversity of the social composition of the Rezesh village was often perceived by historians as evidence of the presence of capitalist stratification in it. The authors of the reviewed work note that when studying the social differentiation of the capitalist type in Rezesh villages, the nature of the origin of land ownership in them should be taken into account. "Otherwise, the peculiar remnants of the old feudal formation can be presented as a manifestation of the new genesis of capitalism" (p.136). At the same time, the monograph provides examples of capitalist stratification in the villages of Rezesh (pp. 136-138). To clarify the question of the ratio of old and new in these villages, special studies are still to be conducted.

Studying the development of agricultural production in Bessarabia after 1812, the authors used concrete factual material to trace how animal husbandry gradually lost its predominant importance, and the share of agriculture, and especially grain farming, increased. If in 1814 up to 700 - 750 thousand quarters of grain were collected in the region4, then in the 50s the grain harvest was equal to 4.5 million quarters, and the marketable part of the product reached 2 million quarters (p. 191). Bessarabia took one of the first places among the provinces of European Russia in terms of grain collection and became an important area of commercial grain production. However, the fact that already in the 1940s animal husbandry lost its predominant importance in the region's economy (p.147) did not mean the decline of this industry. On the contrary, the authors note an increase in the number of livestock by the middle of the XIX century, an improvement in its pedigree and an increase in productivity. There was only a relative decrease in the share of cattle breeding in the economy of Bessarabia, with the rapid growth of agriculture (pp. 192, 204, etc.). It seems to us that the picture would be more complete if conclusions about the dynamics of the number of livestock and the growth of acreage were made separately for the South, Center, and North of the region.

Valuable material revealing the progressive significance of the annexation of Bessarabia to Russia is given in the book on the development of industry, transport, trade, and finance of the region. With the significant growth of Bessarabia's industry compared to the period before 1812, the level reached by the 60s of the XIX century was significantly lower than in a number of provinces of European Russia. In 1860, Bessarabia ranked 39th in terms of the number of enterprises operating, 41st in terms of the cost of output, and 46th in terms of the number of workers among 62 provinces and regions and 4 city mayors of Russia (p.299). The authors explain the weak development of the region's industry by the inhibitory role of feudal relations that prevailed at that time, the oppressed situation of the broad masses of the population (including the urban population), and the stagnation and lack of initiative of the tsarist administration. One cannot but agree with this. However, these negative factors were also inherent in other provinces of Russia. In Bessarabia, the development of industry was also hindered by the lack of mineral raw materials and fuel, an extensive credit system, including state credit, and a lack of specialists (p.275).

It should be emphasized that Bessarabia's industrial lag behind a number of provinces of European Russia was also due to the fact that in 50 years it could not catch up with all that was lost during the 300-year period of oppression by the Ottoman Empire.

The book notes that the inclusion of Bessarabia in the all-Russian market guaranteed it the sale of a number of agricultural and industrial products (wine, fruit, tobacco, salt, etc.), stimulating the growth of their marketability. At the same time, Bessarabia was a market for Russian industry. For the first time in Moldovan historiography, the monograph raises and resolves the question of the formation of a single Bessarabian market after 1812 as part of the all-Russian one. This phenomenon was predetermined, according to the authors, first of all by the creation of a single administration throughout the territory of the region, by combining its parts into a single whole. These measures of the Russian administration contributed to an increase in the intensity of population movement, an increase in the trade and craft stratum in the former Turkish fortresses, and the development of economic ties between all the territories of the region. In turn, all these processes led to an increase in capital accumulation and the formation of bourgeois relations (pp. 317-339).

3 See D. M. Dragnev and P. V. Sovetov. Restructuring of the land ownership structure in Moldavia of the XV-XVIII centuries. "History of the USSR", 1968, N 1.

4 One quarter is equal to 160 kg.

page 172

The authors did not limit themselves only to quantitative indicators and the study of internal processes that took place in Bessarabia. They often compare the level of economic development of the region with the corresponding level of development of other provinces of Russia (especially the Novorossiysk Region) and territories that still remained under Ottoman oppression (Zaprutskaya Moldova and Wallachia). This allowed them to determine the place of Bessarabia in the all-Russian economy, to show its faster economic development in comparison with the territories that were under the rule of the Ottoman Porte.

There are also some shortcomings in the book. The chronological framework of the monograph is defined in 1812-1861. The initial date is quite reasonable, but the final date seems to be debatable. Of course, for Russia as a whole, 1861 represents a milestone in the development of the capitalist mode of production. However, the abolition of serfdom in the central provinces of Russia is unlikely to have directly affected the economy of Bessarabia, at least in the first time after this act. Meanwhile, a more specific role in the socio-economic development of the region was played by the Tsaran reform of 1868, carried out in Bessarabia, as a result of which feudally dependent peasants (tsarane) were endowed with land. If the authors considered the chronological boundary of 1861 to be more appropriate, then a detailed justification should be given in favor of this. In our opinion, the monograph does not fully use demographic sources. The dynamics of the population movement process and its composition were not entirely accurate. In some cases, mutually exclusive data are provided and it is not indicated which of them, in the authors ' opinion, are the most reliable. For example, on page 51 different figures are given on the population of Bessarabia in 1812 (200 and 275 thousand people of both sexes). Page 62 contains information on the ethnic composition of the population of Bessarabia, collected by P. I. Koppen in the 30s of the XIX century (VIII revision), and information collected by A. Zashchuk in the 50s of the XIX century. There are significant discrepancies between these data, the reasons for which should be discussed in more detail. The book usually contains county-by-county data on the development of the productive forces. In the section on population, county data on the size and social composition of the population are given only for the years 1842-1861. For the earlier period (which is a period of almost 30 years), mostly only Pogubernian general information is given. Thus, on page 61, data on the ethnic composition of the population of Budjak as a whole are published, although the source allowed us to do this by county.

The economic relations of Bessarabia with neighboring Ukraine are not sufficiently shown (and yet it is precisely at this time that the development of such shopping centers as Odessa, through which the main articles of Moldovan exports went, belongs). The influence of the Danube Highway, which attracts a part of Bessarabian exports, is poorly revealed. Nothing is said about such an important consumer of agricultural raw materials as the 2nd Army, which was based in the South-West of Russia and produced billets mainly in Bessarabia and adjacent areas of Novorossiya.

Summing up, we must admit that the book by J. S. Grosula and I. G. Budak is undoubtedly an important contribution to the study of the history of the national economy of Moldova.


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L. G. BESKROVNY, V. M. KABUZAN, A. A. SHEVYAKOV, Reviews: J. S. GROSUL, I. G. BUDAK. ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY OF BESSARABIA (1812-1861) // Minsk: Belarusian Electronic Library (BIBLIOTEKA.BY). Updated: 19.06.2023. URL: (date of access: 16.06.2024).

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