Background. A considerable part of the Russian state has historically included a huge number of regions with very diverse climatic conditions, determining their economic specialization. The specificity of economic production was causing such socio-economic phenomena as crop failures and famine, the consequences of which caused a wave of social unrest, destabilizing the situation in the country. The aim of the work is to analyze the text of the Russian chronicles of XI–XVI centuries to identify the causes of such phenomena as crop failures and famine and the measures to combat them.
Materials and methods. The research problems were solved through studying the chronicles of such sources as the Patriarchal or Nikon’s Chronicle, the Chronicle of Ancient Years (the Laurentian list), and the First Novgorod Chronicle in old and new languages. The methodological basis of the research included the principles of historicism, objectivity and systemacy. The internal structure of the work is based in the problem-chronological order. The study used the traditional methods of histo¬rical knowledge: descriptive, comparative-historical, typological and system-structural.
Results. The main aspects of crop failures and famine as a social phenomenon in the XI–XIV centuries are discussed in article. Its causes, development and conse-quences for the population are studied. The ways of dealing with crop failures and hunger, as well as the role of the government in this process are analyzed in article.
Conclusions. The official history of the phenomenon of crop failures and famine, in the context of the social and economic history of the Russian state begins in the XI century. The formation of the rudiments of the food system, characterized by the appearance of grain trade, the issue of drawing up inventories and cash and in-kind loans as a way to deal with crop failures and famine begins in the XI–XIV centuries. However, the described chronological period is characterized by poor attention by the state to the needs of hungry people, its passive role in solving food problems.
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