Condition of Peasantry during 13th to 17th-century C.E. – Medival History of India

During these five centuries, many changes took place in the agrarian relationships but the overall stratified structure of peasantry, where, tiller faced the maximum rent burden continued along with the numerous caste divisions and relative insulation of the rural peasantry.

Improvement in land revenue system and state loans, new irrigation systems, the introduction of new crops and expansion of farming under concessional pattas were the major interventions during this period. These steps definitely improved the income of peasantry.

But, agriculture was highly stratified, from the cultivator via primary and intermediary Zamindars, Rajas up to the King. Elite secured most of this increased income. Foreign travelers talk about abject inequality. Peasant enjoyed the ownership of land and there existed a hierarchy of rights on only the land revenue.

The villages had landless laborers and resident cultivators; who were sub-divided into privileged owner cultivators- these often formed the rural elite class, owner cultivators and tenants. These divisions aligned with caste divisions in society. The pai-kashts were concessional resettlers from outside the village. The movement of pahis were in search of improved socio-economic status was quite common.

The state remained aloof to the village matters as long as revenue was paid regularly. Village governance was in the hand of now romanticized village panchayats. One can broadly conclude that during this period, the Indian peasantry wasn’t an undifferentiated mass of pauperized peasants as during the British times.

Hence, the condition of peasantry remained more or less same during this phase to become only worse later.

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