And in such instances where one might be sold, the selling nobleman was given the right to retain the individuals family and property.
Though the laws would stop short of allowing the right of the noble to kill a serf, the penalty for doing so was a nominal monetary fine of a negligible sum to a member of the landed gentry. Therefore, prohibition on killing a serf was pointedly low. It is thus that the Russian feudalist system created a scenario in which the seeds of Communist revolution could ultimately be sowed. With literally half of its population living in abject slavery and the stability of the central government constantly threatened by invading Mongols and rebelling Cossacks, the slave population increasingly came to represent a serious threat to the continued survival of the ruling class. First through its constant undermining of the system by flight from ownership and thereafter by increasingly organized slave revolts, the serf population demonstrated the sheer irrationality of enslaving so large a population to the service of so few. Ultimately, the great many would come to recognize their power.
So would this be the recognition of the Tsar Alexander II, who in 1861 responded to a fear that ultimately the imbalance of this system would come to destroy the noble class by emancipating those in bondage and abolishing slavery.
The impracticality of the system and the harsh survival imposed upon so great a population would have irreparable consequences though. For the people of Russia, emancipation would not ease its suffering or quell its anger. The agreement forged in the name of emancipation would forge a system still deeply exploitive and absent of opportunity for those without land. The lives of the Russian peasantry would be little changed by emancipation, such as slavery had plunged so many into a condition of great inequality.
This would most assuredly by the cause for Russias role in the spread of communist and socialist ideologies, which were predicated on the understanding that the enormity of the slave classes were sufficient to justify their empowerment. Thus, in 1918, when the Bolsheviks stormed the Alexander Palace and executed Tsar Nicholas II and his family, the prophecy of Alexander II before him may be said to have largely come true. The Marxist principles which underscored the Revolutionary Era, pushed forward by Russias struggles in the Russo-Japanese War and World War II, would be the inevitable outcome of a serfdom that was too late and too large to.