[RUSSIAN LAW]. Ulozheniye Tsaria Alezseia Mikhailovicha, in Russian. [Moscow: Pechatnii Dvor, 29 January 1649]
2o (295 x 185 mm). 337 leaves (of 339, without first and last blanks). Cyrillic type. Printed in red and black throughout. Woodcut headpieces and sectional dividers. (Some dampstaining, heaviest at beginning and end, outer margin of first five and last four leaves renewed, holes in five leaves repaired affecting a few letters, some tiny wormholes.) 19th-century black hard-grained morocco over wooden boards, edges gauffered and gilt, brass clasps, white watered-silk linings (corners lightly rubbed).
Provenance: Possibly Simeon Agafonikovich (1641-1691), Russian churchman and writer and editor at the Pechatniy dvor: inscription "Medvedeva" written on first nine leaves -- Professors of Moscow University: lithographic presentation slip bound-in at front dated May 1867 -- [Christie's, London, 30 May 1986, lot 70]
FIRST EDITION, second issue of the first printed Russian code of law. The work was prompted by the second Romanov tsar Alexis (1629-1676, ruled 1645-1676) and became the most important piece of feudal legislation in Russia. Alexis, the son of Michael, the first Romanov monarch of Russia, received his tutelage from Boris Ivanovich Morozov before acceding to the throne at age 16. Morozov, who was also Alexis' brother-in-law, initially took charge of state affairs but a popular uprising in Moscow in 1648 caused Alexis to exile Morozov. Alexis agreed to the rebellion's demands and convened a land assembly (Zemskii sobor), which presented this new Russian law code on 3 October 1648 (it was ratified on 29 January 1649). The code legally defined serfdom, and therefore defined Russia's feudal system. During the reign of Alexis the peasants were tied to the land and to the landlord and were thus finally enserfed. The land assemblies were allowed to fall into gradual disuse.
The first edition was completed in less than two months, from 7 April to 29 May 1649, and by the end of the year three issues had appeared. This second issue is differentiated from the first by not having blank f. 63.
Fekula 1740; Victor Sopikov, An Essay in Russian Bibliography (London 1962), 1568; Zernova, Knigi kirillovskoi pechati izdannie v Moskve v XV-XVII vekakh (1958), no. 216.