Russia was once economically and socially interdependent upon the feudal system fueled by serfdom. Socially speaking there were class ranks with the lords at the top that owned the land and then the serfs, also known as kreposinoy krestyanin in Russian, who were the lowest class and worked the fields. Once born into serfdom, a person would have to live in the same area their whole life working to feed, clothe, and overall improve the community they lived in as a whole. Prokudin Gorskii, a Russian photographer captured what a normal farm would look like during the serfdom era in Imperial Russia with this featured photograph. People would spend their entire lives working the same field day after day after day, never gaining a formal education or changing occupation. On the other hand, the top class of serf owners spent a life of luxury getting fat off of the land literally. Because there was a lack of an educated public, the serfs continued to use the same technology and tools to work the land while the rest of the world was developing new techniques and transitioning into industrial nations. All this became a prevalent problem to the Russian government after Russia performed poorly in the Crimean War against the Ottoman Turks. Shortly after the war ended however, Tsar Alexander II emancipated the serfs setting in motion Russia’s destiny to become one of the largest land empire’s the world has ever seen!
Sources Used: http://russiapedia.rt.com/of-russian-origin/serfs/
More of Prokudin Gorskii’s photos can be found here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/prk2000000564/