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I have lingered over this pre-history to Solzhenitsyn's starting date of the Polish partitions in order to try to understand the problem the Russian Empire faced when it took on these areas with their substantial Jewish population. It could perhaps be reduced most simply to a matter of relations between, on the one hand, a serf population, largely Orthodox, tied to the land and to a largely Catholic Polish nobility, owners of the land; and on the other a Jewish population which was free, mobile, had its own distinct social organisation, was used by the Polish nobility to perform functions that were economically necessary but beneath the nobles' dignity, and who could indeed take on the role of landlords themselves by subleasing lands (giving them also rights over churches built on those lands). This was the position which had given rise to the massacres of the Khmelnitsky rising (probably largely committed by those despised kholopy) and, if we accept Poliakov's account, what followed in the areas remaining to Poland was a degenerate version of the same thing - a serf peasantry and a relatively free and self organising Jewish population, still patronised by the nobility to fulfil the functions of a middle class but much poorer than before and facing more competition from Christian rivals, including priests and monasteries. It was in these circumstances of greater poverty that the role of Jews as tavern keepers and distillers of liquor developed, a role that was to assume great importance in their problematic relationship with the Russian state, a state which, unlike the Polish state and nobility, had some concern for the wellbeing of the Orthodox peasantry.