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Novgorod Republic

Novgorod Republic

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The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n state which stretched from the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 to the Ural Mountains
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...

 between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod. Citizens referred to their city-state as "His Majesty (or Sovereign) Lord Novgorod the Great" (Gosudař Gospodin Velikij Novgorod), or more often as "Lord Novgorod the Great" (Gospodin Velikij Novgorod). The Republic prospered as the easternmost port of the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

.

History



Originally Novgorod was the capital of the Rus
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

 until 882 when Oleg transferred the capital to Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

. From that time and up until 1019-1020 Novgorod was a part of Kievan Rus. Novgorod Princes were appointed by the Grand Prince of Kiev (usually one of the elder sons). Novgorod was sort of a spiritual center as by the legend it was the first city of Rus. Remarkably, to this day Novgorod still possesses the relics of the old traditional beliefs that preceded Christianity and are now part of the long forgotten history.

Novgorod continuously played a key role in the politics of Rus by assisting Vladimir the Great of Kiev, and later playing a key role in placing Yaroslav the Wise on the Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 throne. One of his first actions as a Grand Prince was to grant loyal Novgorodians (who had helped him to regain the throne) numerous freedoms and privileges. Thus, the foundation for the Novgorod Republic was laid. While still being a part of Kiev Rus, Novgorod eventually evolved into a powerful regional center that was largely independent. While the city had a more participatory government than much of the rest of Rus', and it chose its officials locally, it still was very much a part of the political and cultural landscape of Kiev Rus.

The Novgorod boyars began to dominate the offices of posadnik
Posadnik
Posadnik was the mayor in some East Slavic cities or towns. Most notably, the posadnik was the mayor of Novgorod and Pskov...

 and tysyatsky
Tysyatsky
Tysyatsky was a military leader in Ancient Rus, who commanded a people's volunteer army called тысяча...

, which up until about the mid-12th century had been appointed by the grand prince in Kiev. In 1136, the Novgorodians dismissed Prince Vsevolod Mstislavich
Vsevolod Mstislavich
Vsevolod Mstislavich may refer to:* Vsevolod Mstislavich of Volhynia, Rurikid, knyaz of Belz , knyaz of Volodymyr-Volynsky *Vsevolod Mstislavich of Novgorod and Pskov Rurikid, knyaz of Novgorod , of Vyshgorod , of Pskov...

 and over the next century and a half were able to invite in and dismiss a number of princes, although these invitations or dismissals were often based on who the dominant prince in Rus' or Appanage Russia was at the time, and not on any independent thinking on the part of Novgorod.

Cities such as Staraya Russa
Staraya Russa
Staraya Russa is a town in Novgorod Oblast, Russia, located south of Veliky Novgorod. It is a wharf on the Polist River in the Lake Ilmen basin. It serves as the administrative center of Starorussky District, although administratively it is not a part of it...

, Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

, Torzhok
Torzhok
Torzhok is a town in Tver Oblast, Russia, famous for its folk craft of goldwork embroidery. Population: Torzhok has twenty-two large and medium-sized industrial enterprises. Two of them are especially significant...

 and Oreshek, were part of the Novgorodian Land. According to some accounts, a vicar of the archbishop ran the city of Staraya Ladoga in the 13th century.

The city of Pskov
Pskov
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

 was initially part of the Novgorodian Land, but had de facto independence from at least the 13th century after joining the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

. Several princes such as Dovmont and Vsevolod Mstislavich reigned in Pskov without any deference to or consultation with the prince or other officials in Novgorod. Pskov's independence was acknowledged by the Treaty of Bolotovo
Treaty of Bolotovo
The Treaty of Bolotovo was concluded in 1348 between the northwestern Russian cities of Novgorod the Great and Pskov and recognized Pskov's political independence from Novgorod...

 in 1348 (see Pskov Republic
Pskov Republic
Pskov, known at various times as the Principality of Pskov or the Pskov Republic , was a medieval state on the south shore of Lake Pskov. The capital city, also named Pskov, was located at the southern end of the Peipus–Pskov Lake system at the southeast corner of Ugandi, about southwest of...

). Even after this, however, the Archbishop of Novgorod
Archbishop of Novgorod
The Archbishop of Novgorod is the head of the eparchy of Novgorod the Great and is one of the oldest offices in the Russian Orthodox Church. The archbishops have, in fact, been among the most important figures in medieval Russian history and culture and their successors continued to play...

 headed the church in Pskov and kept the title "Archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov" until 1589. In the 12th–15th century, the Novgorodian Republic expanded east and northeast. The Novgorodians explored the areas around Lake Onega
Lake Onega
Lake Onega is a lake in the north-west European part of Russia, located on the territory of Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Oblast and Vologda Oblast. It belongs to the basin of Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and is the second largest lake in Europe after Lake Ladoga...

, along the Northern Dvina
Northern Dvina
The Northern Dvina is a river in Northern Russia flowing through the Vologda Oblast and Arkhangelsk Oblast into the Dvina Bay of the White Sea. Along with the Pechora River to the east, it drains most of Northwest Russia into the Arctic Ocean...

, and coastlines of the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

. In the beginning of the 14th century the Novgorodians explored the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Kara Sea, and the West-Siberian river Ob.

The Ugric tribes, which inhabited the Northern Urals, had to pay tribute to Novgorod the Great. The lands to the north of the city, rich with fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

s, sea fauna, salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 etc., were of great economic importance to the Novgorodians and they fought a protracted series of wars with Moscow beginning in the late 14th century in order to keep these lands. Losing them meant economic and cultural decline for the city and its inhabitants. Indeed, the ultimate failure of the Novgorodians to win these wars led to the downfall of the Republic.

The name "feudal republic" has been frequently used in the Soviet-era scholarship, where it was often used by Marxist scholars to place the Novgorodian Republic within the Marxist historiographic periodization
Marx's theory of history
The Marxist theory of historical materialism understands society as fundamentally determined by the material conditions at any given time - this means the relationships which people enter into with one another in order to fulfill their basic needs, for instance to feed and clothe themselves and...

 (slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 - feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 - capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 - socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 - communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

). Many scholars today, however, question whether or not Russia ever really had a feudal
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 political system parallel to that of the medieval West. The term "Feudal Republic" was never used by the Novgorodians themselves (indeed, feudalism is a seventeenth-century scholarly term); rather they referred to their city-state as "His Majesty (or Sovereign) Lord Novgorod the Great" (Государь Господин Великий Новгород / Gosudar' Gospodin Velikiy Novgorod), or more often as "Lord Novgorod the Great" (Господин Великий Новгород / Gospodin Velikiy Novgorod); The entire region - the city and its vast hinterlands - was known as The Novgorodian Land.

Internal organization


The precise constitution of the medieval Novgorodian Republic is uncertain, although traditional histories have created the image of a highly institutionalized network of veche
Veche
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.In Novgorod, where the veche acquired the greatest prominence, the veche was broadly similar to the Norse thing or the Swiss Landsgemeinde.-Etymology:...

s (public assemblies) and a government of posadnik
Posadnik
Posadnik was the mayor in some East Slavic cities or towns. Most notably, the posadnik was the mayor of Novgorod and Pskov...

s (mayors), tysyatsky
Tysyatsky
Tysyatsky was a military leader in Ancient Rus, who commanded a people's volunteer army called тысяча...

s ("thousandmen," originally the head of the town militia, but later a judicial and commercial official), other members of aristocratic families, and the archbishops of Novgorod.

Some scholars argue that the archbishop was the head of the executive branch of the government, although it is difficult to determine the exact competence of the various officials. It is possible that there was a "Council of Lords" (Совет Господ) that was headed by the archbishop and met in the archiepiscopal palace (and in the Palace of Facets after 1433), but more recently Jonas Granberg has called into doubt whether such a body every really existed; he argues it is, in fact, an invention of historians reading too much into sparse sources.

The (at least nominal) executives of Novgorod were always the Princes of Novgorod, invited by Novgorodians from the neighboring states, even though their power waned in the thirteenth and early 14th centuries. It's unclear if the archbishop of Novgorod was the real head of state or chief executive of the Novgorod Republic, but in any case he remained an important town official; in addition to overseeing the church in Novgorod, he headed embassies, oversaw certain court cases of a secular nature, and carried out other secular tasks, but the archbishops appeared to have worked with the boyars to reach a consensus and almost never acted alone. The archbishop was not appointed, but elected by Novgorodians, and approved by Metropolitan bishop of Russia.

The archbishops were probably the richest single land-owner in Novgorod, and also made money off court fees, fees for the use of weights and measures in the marketplace, and through other means.

Another important executive was Novgorod Posadnik
Posadnik
Posadnik was the mayor in some East Slavic cities or towns. Most notably, the posadnik was the mayor of Novgorod and Pskov...

, who chaired Veche
Veche
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.In Novgorod, where the veche acquired the greatest prominence, the veche was broadly similar to the Norse thing or the Swiss Landsgemeinde.-Etymology:...

, co-chaired courts together with Prince, oversaw tax collection and managed current affairs of the city. Most of the Prince's major decisions had to be approved by the Posadnik. In mid-14th century instead of one Posadnik, Veche began electing 6. These 6 posadniks kept their status for their lifetimes, and each year elected among themselves a chief Stepennoy Posadnik.

The precise makeup of the veche
Veche
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.In Novgorod, where the veche acquired the greatest prominence, the veche was broadly similar to the Norse thing or the Swiss Landsgemeinde.-Etymology:...

 is also uncertain, although it appears to have comprised members of the urban population, as well as of the free rural
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 population. Whether it was a democratic institution or one controlled by the boyars has been hotly debated. The posadnik
Posadnik
Posadnik was the mayor in some East Slavic cities or towns. Most notably, the posadnik was the mayor of Novgorod and Pskov...

s, tysiatskys, and even the bishops and archbishops of Novgorod(starting from 1156) (elevated to archiepiscopal status in 1165 were often elected or at least approved by the veche.
Tradespeople and craftsmen also participated in the political affairs of Novgorod the Great. The traditional scholarship argues that they were organized into five "kontsy
Kontsy
Кontsy literally "ends", were the five boroughs into which medieval Novgorod the Great was divided. They were based on the three original settlements that combined to form the city toward the end of the tenth century: the Nerev End, the Liudin End , and the Slavno End; two later additions -...

" (ends) - konets (конец; pl. концы) in Russian - i.e., the boroughs of the city they lived in); each end was then organized by the streets in which they were living). The ends and streets often bore names indicating that certain trades were concentrated in certain parts of the city (there was a Carpenter's End and a Potters' End for example). The trade groups had sotnyas (сотни, or hundredmen) (see also Ivan’s Hundred, though to have been the first Russian guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 although there is no evidence of guilds existing in Rus' such as they were in, say, the Low Countries, Germany, France, or England).

Like much of the rest of Novgorod's medieval history, the precise composition of these trade or crafts organizations is uncertain and they ought not to be confused with the much more organized guilds (or later unions) of Western Europe. It is quite possible that the "ends" and "streets" were simply neighborhood administrative groups rather than guilds or "unions". Street organizations were known to build churches in their neighborhoods and to have buried the dead of their neighborhoods during outbreaks of the plague, but beyond that their activities are uncertain. As for Ivan's Hundred, its exact nature is not known. It was organized around the Church of St. John the Forerunner on the Opoki
Opoki
Opoki is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Aleksandrów Kujawski, within Aleksandrów County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland. It lies approximately south-west of Aleksandrów Kujawski and south of Toruń....

, just north of the marketplace, and each member had to pay an entrance fee of a bolt of Ypre
Ypres
Ypres is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the villages of Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke, and Zuidschote...

 cloth (from northern France) to the archbishop. The tysyatsky arbitrated disputes between the members. Other than that, the activities of Ivan's Hundred is unknown.

"Streets" and "ends" may have taken part in political decision-making in Novgorod in support of certain boyar factions or to protect their interests. Merchant "elders" are also noted in treaties and other charters, but only about a hundred of these charters exist. A half dozen date from the 12th century, while most are from after 1262. Thus it is difficult to determine Novgorod's political structure due to the paucity of sources.

The prince, while his status in Novgorod wasn't heritable and his power was much reduced, remained an important figure in Novgorodian life. Of around 100 princes of Novgorod, many, if not most, were invited in or dismissed by the Novgorodians. At least some of them signed a contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

 called a r'ad
Riad
Riad or Riyad may refer to:* Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia* Riad , people with the name* Riad , a garden inside Morocco's houses* Riyad, Mauritania* Riyad Hassan El-Khoudary, a member in the Executive Committee in the P.L.O....

(ряд) which protected the interests of the Novgorodian boyars and laid out the prince's rights and responsibilities. The r'ads that have been preserved in archives describe relationship of Novgorod with twelve invited Princes: five of them from Tver', four from Moscow and three from Lithuania.

First and foremost among the prince's functions, he was a military leader. He also patronized churches in the city and held court, although it was often presided over by his namestnik or lieutenant when he was personally absent from the city. Posadnik had always to be present in the court and no court decision could be made without his approval. Also, without the posadnik's approval the prince could neither give out Novgorod lands nor issue laws. Besides, the prince couldn't own land in Novgorod and couldn't himself collect taxes from the Novgorod lands. He lived from money given to him by the city.

According to several r'ads, the prince couldn’t extradite or prosecute a Novgorodian outside of the Novgorodian Land. The princes had two residences, one on the Marketplace (called Yaroslav's Court
Yaroslav's Court
Yaroslav's Court was the princely compound in the city of Novgorod the Great. Today it is roughly the area around the Trade Mart, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Church of St. Procopius, and the Church of the Myrrh-bearing Women. The Trade Mart renovated and heavily modified in the sixteenth and...

, after Yaroslav the Wise), and the (Городище / Riurkovo Gorodische) several miles south of the Market Side of the city.

The administrative division of Novgorod Republic is not definitely known; the country was divided into several tysyachas (in the core lands of the country) and volost
Volost
Volost was a traditional administrative subdivision in Eastern Europe.In earlier East Slavic history, volost was a name for the territory ruled by the knyaz, a principality; either as an absolute ruler or with varying degree of autonomy from the Velikiy Knyaz...

s
(lands in the east and north that were being colonised or just paid tribute). The city of Novgorod with its vicinity, as well as a few other towns were not part of any of those. Pskov
Pskov
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

 achieved an autonomy from Novgorod in the 13th century; its independence was confirmed by the Treaty of Bolotovo
Treaty of Bolotovo
The Treaty of Bolotovo was concluded in 1348 between the northwestern Russian cities of Novgorod the Great and Pskov and recognized Pskov's political independence from Novgorod...

 in 1348. Several other towns had special status as they were owned jointly by Novgorod and one of neighbouring states.

Economy


The economy
Economy
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

 of the Novgorodian Republic included farming and animal husbandry (e.g., the archbishops of Novgorod and others raised horses for the Novgorodian army), hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, beekeeping
Beekeeping
Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive , to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers...

, and fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 were also widespread. In most of the regions of the republic, these different "industries" were combined with farming. Iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 was mined on the coast of the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

. Staraya Russa
Staraya Russa
Staraya Russa is a town in Novgorod Oblast, Russia, located south of Veliky Novgorod. It is a wharf on the Polist River in the Lake Ilmen basin. It serves as the administrative center of Starorussky District, although administratively it is not a part of it...

 and other localities were known for their saltworks. Flax
Flax
Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

 and hop
Hop (plant)
Humulus, Hop, is a small genus of flowering plants native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The female flowers of H. lupulus are known as hops, and are used as a culinary flavoring and stabilizer, especially in the brewing of beer...

 cultivation were also of significant importance. Countryside products, such as furs, beeswax
Beeswax
Beeswax is a natural wax produced in the bee hive of honey bees of the genus Apis. It is mainly esters of fatty acids and various long chain alcohols...

, honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

, fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, lard
Lard
Lard is pig fat in both its rendered and unrendered forms. Lard was commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. Its use in contemporary cuisine has diminished because of health concerns posed by its saturated-fat content and its often negative...

, flax, and hop, were sold on the market and export
Export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

ed to other Russian cities or abroad.

The real wealth of Novgorod, however, came from the fur trade. The city was the main entrepôt for trade between Rus' and northwestern Europe. It stood on the northwestern end of the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 from China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and at the eastern end of the Baltic Trade network established by the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

. From Novgorod's northeastern lands ("The Lands Beyond the Portages" as they were called in the chronicles), the area stretching north of Lakes Ladoga and Onega up to the White Sea and east to the Ural Mountains had so much fur that medieval travel accounts tell of furry animals raining from the sky. The Novgorodian merchants traded with Swedish, German, and Danish cities. In early years, the Novgorodians sailed the Baltic themselves (several incidents involving Novgorodian merchants in Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

 and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 are reported in the Novgorodian First Chronicle. Orthodox churches for Novgorodian merchants have been excavated on Gotland. Likewise, merchants from Gotland had their own S:t Olof church and trading house in Novgorod. However the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 disputed the right of the Novgorod merchants to carry out sea trade independently and to deliver cargoes to the West-European ports by their own ships.

More than a half of all Novgorodian privately owned lands had been concentrated in the hands of some 30–40 noble boyar families by the 14th–15th century. These vast estates
Estate (house)
An estate comprises the houses and outbuildings and supporting farmland and woods that surround the gardens and grounds of a very large property, such as a country house or mansion. It is the modern term for a manor, but lacks the latter's now abolished jurisdictional authority...

 served as material resources, which secured political supremacy of the boyars. The House of Holy Wisdom
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in the Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Novgorod and the mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy.-History:...

 (Дом святой Софии, Dom Svyatoy Sofiy) — the main ecclesiastic establishment of Novgorod — was their chief rival in terms of landownership. Its votchina
Votchina
Votchina or otchina was an East Slavic land estate that could be inherited. The term "votchina" was also used to describe the lands of a knyaz.The term originated in the law of Kievan Rus...

s were located in the most economically developed regions of the Novgorod Land. The Yuriev Monastery
Yuriev Monastery
The St. George's Monastery is one of Russia's oldest monasteries. It stands south of Novgorod on the left bank of the Volkhov River near where it flows out of Lake Ilmen. The monastery used to be the most important in the medieval Novgorod Republic...

, Arkazhsky Monastery
Arkazhsky Monastery
The Arkazhy Monastery was one of the most important monasteries of medieval Novgorod the Great. It stood about two miles south of the city and just west of the Yuriev Monastery. All that remains of it today is the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God, which is visible on the road out...

, Antoniev Monastery
Antoniev Monastery
The Antoniev Monastery rivalled Yuriev Monastery as the most important monastery of medieval Novgorod the Great. It stands along the right bank of the Volkhov River north of the city centre and forms part of the Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings, a World Heritage Site...

 and some other privileged monasteries are known to have been big landowners. There were also the so-called zhityi lyudi (житьи люди), who owned less land than the boyars, and unprivileged small votchina owners called svoyezemtsy (своеземцы, or private landowners). The most common form of labor exploitation
Exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

 — the system of metayage
Metayage
The Metayage system is the cultivation of land for a proprietor by one who receives a proportion of the produce, as a kind of sharecropping.-Origin and function:...

 — was typical for the afore-mentioned categories of landowners. Their household
Household
The household is "the basic residential unit in which economic production, consumption, inheritance, child rearing, and shelter are organized and carried out"; [the household] "may or may not be synonymous with family"....

 economies were mostly serviced by slaves (kholop
Kholop
Kholops were feudally dependent people in Russia between the 10th and early 18th centuries. Their legal status was close to that of serfs.- Etymology :The word kholop was first mentioned in a chronicle for the year of 986. Its etymology is unclear...

y), whose number had been constantly decreasing. Along with the metayage, monetary payments also gained significant importance by the 2nd half of the 15th century.

Some scholars argue that the feudal lords tried to legally tie down the peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s to their land. Certain categories of feudally dependent peasants, such as davniye lyudi (давние люди), polovniki (половники), poruchniki (поручники), dolzhniki (должники), were deprived of the right to leave their masters. The boyars and monasteries also tried to restrict other categories of peasants from switching their feudal lords. However, there was a tradition in Russia that peasants could leave their land if they had paid all their debts. They were able to leave during the weeks preceding and coming after "St. George's day in the autumn
Yuri's Day
Yuri's Day is the Russian name for either of the two feasts of Saint George celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church.Along with various other Christian churches, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of St George on April 23 , which falls on May 6 of the Western Calendar...

". This tradition was "temporarily" suspended only by Ivan the Terrible, more than a century after the Muscovite conquest of Novgord; thus full serfdom never existed in the Novgorodian Republic. The temporary suspension was, in fact, never lifted and serfs were formally tied to their land by the Ulozhenie (law code) of 1649
Sobornoye Ulozheniye
The Sobornoye Ulozheniye was a legal code promulgated in 1649 by the Zemsky Sobor under Alexis of Russia as a replacement for the Sudebnik of 1497 introduced by Ivan III of Russia, which is based, among others, on the Third Statute of Lithuania...

.

Marxist scholars (e.g., Aleksandr Khoroshev) often spoke of class struggle in Novgorod. There were some 80 major uprisings in the republic, which often turned into armed rebellions. The most notable among these took place in 1136, 1207, 1228–29, 1270, 1418, and 1446–47. The extent to which these were based on "class struggle" is unclear. Many were between various boyar factions or, if a revolt did involve the peasants or tradesman against the boyars, it did not consist of the peasants wanting to overthrow the existing social order, but was more often than not a demand for better rule on the part of the ruling class. There did not seem to be a sense that the office of prince should be abolished (it didn't seem to cross the medieval mind to do that) or to let the peasants run the city.

Foreign relations


Novgorod struggled for centuries against Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Danish, and German crusaders. During the Swedish-Novgorodian Wars
Swedish-Novgorodian Wars
Swedish–Novgorodian Wars were a series of conflicts in the 12th and 13th centuries between the Republic of Novgorod and medieval Sweden over control of the Gulf of Finland, an area vital to the Hanseatic League and part of the Varangian-Byzantine trade route...

, the Swedes invaded first Finland and then Karelia
Karelia
Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

, lands where some of the population had on previous occasions paid tribute to Novgorod. The Germans, for their part, had been trying to conquer the Baltic region
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 since the late 12th century. Novgorod had to go to war 26 times with Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and 11 times with the Livonian Brothers of the Sword
Livonian Brothers of the Sword
The Livonian Brothers of the Sword were a military order founded by Bishop Albert of Riga in 1202. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the establishment in 1204. The membership of the order comprised German "warrior monks"...

. The German knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

s along with the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Swedish feudal lords launched a series of uncoordinated attacks in 1240-1242. Their campaigns, however, failed after the Battle of the Neva
Battle of the Neva
The Battle of the Neva was fought between the Novgorod Republic and Swedish armies on the Neva River, near the settlement of Ust-Izhora, on July 15, 1240...

 (1240) and Battle on the Ice (1242). On August 12, 1323, the Treaty of Nöteborg
Treaty of Nöteborg
Treaty of Nöteborg, also known as Treaty of Oreshek , is a conventional name for the peace treaty that was signed at Orekhovets on August 12, 1323. It was the first settlement between Sweden and Novgorod Republic regulating their border...

, a treaty between Sweden and Novgorod regulating their border, was signed. This was the first time the border between what was to become Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Sweden-Finland
Sweden-Finland
Sweden–Finland is an outdated Finnish historiographical term referring to the Swedish Kingdom from the Kalmar Union to the Napoleonic wars, or the period from the 14th to the 18th century. In 1809 the realm was split and the eastern half came to constitute the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, in...

 was regulated.

The army of Novgorod successfully repelled subsequent attacks, as well. The Novgorod Republic managed to escape the horrors of the Mongol invasion, because the Mongol commanders probably did not want to get bogged down in the marshlands surrounding the city and turned back 100 km from Novgorod. In spite of never being formally conquered, the Republic began to pay tribute to the khans
Khan (title)
Khan is an originally Altaic and subsequently Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, widely used by medieval nomadic Turko-Mongol tribes living to the north of China. 'Khan' is also seen as a title in the Xianbei confederation for their chief between 283 and 289...

 of the Golden Horde. In 1259, Mongol tax-collectors and census-takers arrived in the city leading to political disturbances in the city and forcing Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military...

 to punish a number of town officials (he cut off their noses) for defying him as Grand Prince of Vladimir (soon to be the khan's tax-collector in Russia) and his Mongol overlords. In the 14th century, the raids of Novgorod's pirates (or ushkuiniki), who sowed fear as far as Kazan
Kazan
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 , it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the...

 and Astrakhan
Astrakhan
Astrakhan is a major city in southern European Russia and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast. The city lies on the left bank of the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea at an altitude of below the sea level. Population:...

, assisted Novgorod in their wars with Muscovy.

Fall of the Republic


Tver
Tver
Tver is a city and the administrative center of Tver Oblast, Russia. Population: 403,726 ; 408,903 ;...

, Moscow
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

, and Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 fought over control of Novgorod and its enormous wealth from the 14th century. Upon becoming the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Mikhail Yaroslavich
Mikhail Yaroslavich
Mikhail Yaroslavich , also known as Michael of Tver or Michael the Saint, was a Prince of Tver who ruled as Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1304 until 1314 and again from 1315-1318...

 of Tver
Tver
Tver is a city and the administrative center of Tver Oblast, Russia. Population: 403,726 ; 408,903 ;...

 sent his governors to Novgorod. A series of disagreements with Mikhail pushed Novgorod towards closer ties with Moscow during the reign of Grand Prince George
Yury of Moscow
Yuriy Danilovich, also known as Georgiy Danilovich was Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir ....

. In part, Tver's proximity (the Tver Principality is contiguous with the Novgorodian Land) threatened Novgorod. It was feared that a Tverite prince would annex Novgorodian lands and thus weaken the Republic. At the time, though, Moscow did not touch Novgorod, and since the Muscovite princes were further afield, they were more acceptable as princes of Novgorod. They could come to Novgorod's aid when needed, but would be too far away to meddle too much in the Republic's affairs.

As Muscovy grew in strength, however, the Muscovite princes became a serious threat to Novgorod. Ivan Kalita
Ivan I of Russia
Ivan I Danilovich Kalita was Prince of Moscow from 1325 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1328.-Biography:Ivan was the son of Prince of Moscow Daniil Aleksandrovich....

, Simeon the Proud
Simeon of Russia
Simeon Ivanovich Gordyi was Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir. Simeon continued his father's policies of supporting the Golden Horde and acting as its leading enforcer in Russia. Simeon's rule was marked by regular military and political standoffs against Novgorod Republic and...

 and other Muscovite monarchs sought to limit Novgorod's independence. In 1397, a critical conflict took place between Muscovy and Novgorod, when Moscow annexed the Dvina Lands along the course of the Northern Dvina. These lands were crucial to Novgorod's well-being since much of the city's furs came from there. This territory was returned to Novgorod the following year.

Resisting the Muscovite oppression, the government of Novgorod sought an alliance with Poland-Lithuania. Most Novgorodian boyars wished to maintain the Republic's independence since if Novgorod was to be conquered, the boyars' wealth would flow to the grand prince and his Muscovite boyars and the Novgorodians would fall into decline. 77.8% of them didn't earn enough to pay for war. According to tradition, the proponent of an alliance with Poland-Lithuania to save the Republic, called the Lithuanian party, was led by Marfa Boretskaya
Marfa Boretskaya
Marfa Boretskaya, also known as Martha the Mayoress , was the wife of Isaac Boretsky, Novgorod's posadnik in 1438-1439 and again in 1453...

, the wife of Posadnik Isak Boretskii.

According to this legend, Boretskaya invited the Lithuanian princeling Mikhail Olelkovich and asked him to become her husband and the ruler of Novgorod. She also concluded an alliance with Casimir, the King of Poland and Grand Duke
Grand Duke
The title grand duke is used in Western Europe and particularly in Germanic countries for provincial sovereigns. Grand duke is of a protocolary rank below a king but higher than a sovereign duke. Grand duke is also the usual and established translation of grand prince in languages which do not...

 of Lithuania. The prospects of changing allegiance in favor of the allied Kingdom of Poland
Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569)
The Kingdom of Poland of the Jagiellons was the Polish state created by the accession of Jogaila , Grand Duke of Lithuania, to the Polish throne in 1386. The Union of Krewo or Krėva Act, united Poland and Lithuania under the rule of a single monarch...

 and Grand Duchy of Lithuania caused major commotion among the commoners. Janet Martin and Gail Lenhoff have recently argued that Boretskaya was scapegoated, probably by Archbishop Feofil (r. 1470-1480) in order to shift the blame from him for his betrayal of the terms of the Treaty of Yazhelbitsy
Treaty of Yazhelbitsy
The Treaty of Yazhelbitsy was a peace treaty signed by Vasili II, Grand Prince of Moscow and Vladimir, and the government of Novgorod the Great in the village of Yazhelbitsy in February 1456...

, which forbade Novgorod from conducting foreign affairs without grand princely approval.

While the extent of Boretskaya's role in the Lithuanian party is probably exaggerated, Novgorod did, indeed try to turn to the King of Poland. A draft treaty, allegedly found among the loot after the Battle of Shelon
Battle of Shelon
The Battle of Shelon was a decisive battle between the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow under Ivan III and the army of the Novgorod Republic, which took place on the Shelon River on July 14, 1471. Novgorod suffered a major defeat and ended with the de facto unconditional surrender of the city...

 River, was drawn up between Casimir and the Novgorodians.

Muscovite authorities saw Novgorod's behavior as a repudiation of the Treaty of Yazhelbitsy and went to war against the city. The army of Moscow won a decisive victory in the Battle of Shelon River
Battle of Shelon
The Battle of Shelon was a decisive battle between the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow under Ivan III and the army of the Novgorod Republic, which took place on the Shelon River on July 14, 1471. Novgorod suffered a major defeat and ended with the de facto unconditional surrender of the city...

 in July 1471, which severely limited Novgorod's freedom to act thereafter, although the city maintained its formal independence for the next seven years. In 1478, Ivan III
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich , also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus"...

 sent his army to take the city. He massacred the population and destroyed the veche
Veche
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.In Novgorod, where the veche acquired the greatest prominence, the veche was broadly similar to the Norse thing or the Swiss Landsgemeinde.-Etymology:...

, including the library and archives, at which point the history of the Republic of Novgorod can be said to have ended.
Ivan took 81.7% of Novgorod's land half for himself the rest for his allies.

Rulers of Novgorod



Rus
  • Riurik 862–879
  • Oleg
    Oleg of Novgorod
    Oleg of Novgorod was a Varangian prince who ruled all or part of the Rus' people during the early 10th century....

     879–912
  • Igor 912–945
  • Olga
    Olga of Kiev
    Saint Olga , or Olga the Beauty, hypothetically Old Norse: Helga In some Scandinavian sources she was called other name. born c. 890 died 11 July 969, Kiev) was a ruler of Kievan Rus' as regent Saint Olga , or Olga the Beauty, hypothetically Old Norse: Helga In some Scandinavian sources she was...

     945–962
  • Sviatoslav the Brave 962–969

Novgorod Land
  • Vladimir the Great 969–977
  • Dobrynya
    Dobrynya
    Dobrynya was Vladimir the Great's maternal uncle and tutor who was later transformed into the invincible bogatyr Dobrynya Nikitich in the Russian folklore....

     977–988
  • Vysheslav Vladimirovich 988–1010
  • Yaroslav the Wise 1010–1019
  • Konstantin Dobrynich
    Konstantin Dobrynich
    Konstantin Dobrynich was an 11th-century posadnik of Novgorod. According to the Novgorod chronicles, he was the son of Dobrynya and wielded great influence at the court of his own cousin, Yaroslav the Wise....

  • Vladimir
    Vladimir of Novgorod
    Vladimir Yaroslavich reigned as prince of Novgorod from 1036 until his death. He was the eldest son of Yaroslav I the Wise of Kiev by Ingigerd, daughter of king Olof Skötkonung of Sweden....

     1036–1052 (assisted by Vyshata
    Vyshata
    Vyshata was a Novgorodian general and voivode, whose father is supposed to have been posadnik Ostromir and whose son was another statesman, Yan Vyshatich...

    )
  • Ostromir
    Ostromir
    Ostromir was a statesman, voivod and posadnik of Novgorod in 1054-1057 and probably for some decades previous....

     1052–1054 (probably as a representative before being replaced by Mstislav)
  • Mstislav Iziaslavich 1054-1067 (son of Izyaslav I of Kiev)
  • part of Principality of Polotsk 1067–1069
  • Gleb Svyatoslavich
    Gleb Svyatoslavich
    Gleb Svyatoslavich was the ruler of Tmutarakan. He ruled this area under the overal authority of his father Svyatoslav II the Prince of Chernigov. In 1064 Gleb was removed from power by the forces of Rostislav, the son of a former ruler of Novgorod...

     1069–1073
  • Sviatopolk Iziaslavovich
    Sviatopolk II of Kiev
    Sviatopolk II Iziaslavich was supreme ruler of the Kievan Rus for 20 years, from 1093 to 1113. He was not a popular prince, and his reign was marked by incessant rivalry with his cousin Vladimir Monomakh...

     1078–1088
  • Mstislav the Great
    Mstislav I of Kiev
    Mstislav I Vladimirovich the Great was the Grand Prince of Kiev , the eldest son of Vladimir II Monomakh by Gytha of Wessex...

     1088–1117
  • Vsevolod
    Vsevolod of Pskov
    Vsevolod Mstislavich , the patron saint of the city of Pskov, ruled as Prince of Novgorod in 1117–32, Prince of Pereslavl and Prince of Pskov in 1137–38.- Early life :...

    1117–1132

Novgorod Republic

External links