Russia 19th Century Economy : Facts, History, Serfdom
Serfs paid their lord to live and work on his land
They could not leave and were often treated harshly
Serfs were the same as slaves elsewhere
Most lords lived in the city and never attended to their lands instead they had an overseer collect the rent, taxes and whatever else was necessary to run the estates
A landowner’s worth was measured by how many serfs or souls he owned
The landowner paid taxes on his serfs, which was collected from the serfs. The number of serfs taxed was determined by the last census taken.
The census was taken every 10 or 20 years. If serfs died before the next census, the landowner still had to pay taxes on the dead until the next census was taken. There was no refunds.
In the book, Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, the main character goes all over Russia buying up the names of the dead souls or serfs to use as collateral so he can get a loan from the bank to buy land and live serfs
See Tsar Alexander II Facts for Emancipation of the Serfs