Lord Novgorod the Great
Господин Великий Новгород (Russian)
1136–1478
Flag of Novgorod Republic
Flag (c. 1385)
Coat of arms (c. 1385) of Novgorod Republic
Coat of arms
(c. 1385)
Sign on Novgorod's seal (1426):
Beast from Novgorod's seal (1426)
The Novgorod Republic c. 1400
The Novgorod Republic c. 1400
CapitalNovgorod
Common languagesChurch Slavonic (literary)
Old Novgorod dialect[a][1][2]
Religion
Russian Orthodoxy
Demonym(s)Novgorodian
GovernmentMixed republic
Prince 
• 1136–1138 (first)
Sviatoslav Olgovich
• 1462–1478 (last)
Ivan III
LegislatureVeche
Council of Lords
History 
• Established
1136
• Disestablished
1478
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kievan Rus'
Pskov Republic
Grand Duchy of Moscow
Principality of Great Perm
Today part ofRussia

The Novgorod Republic (Russian: Новгородская республика) was a medieval state that existed from the 12th to 15th centuries in northern Russia, stretching from the Gulf of Finland in the west to the northern Ural Mountains in the east. Its capital was the city of Novgorod. The republic prospered as the easternmost trading post of the Hanseatic League, and its people were much influenced by the culture of the Byzantines,[3] with the Novgorod school of icon painting producing many fine works.[4]

Novgorod won its independence in 1136 after the Novgorodians deposed their prince and the Novgorod veche began to elect and dismiss princes at its own will.[5][6] The veche also elected the posadnik, who was the chief executive of the city,[7] and from 1156, the archbishop of Novgorod, subject to approval by the Russian metropolitan.[b][8] The tysyatsky was also elected by the veche, who was originally the military commander,[9] and served the interests of the common people.[10] Novgorodian nobles known as boyars dominated the veche,[11] and the offices of posadnik and tysyatsky remained in the hands of boyar families.[8] The boyars also gave funding to the ushkuyniki, who contributed to the expansion of Novgorod's trade and colonies in the north of European Russia.[12][13]

By the 14th century, the prince of Moscow (who was almost always the grand prince of Vladimir) was usually the prince of Novgorod as well.[14] As Moscow grew in power in the 15th century, Novgorod began to lose its autonomy; a peace treaty between Novgorod and Moscow in 1471 led to Novgorod being subjugated by Moscow, though Ivan III left its system of government in place. Ivan III took direct control of the city in 1478 and later adopted the title of sovereign of all Russia during his campaign to annex all of the remaining semi-independent Russian states.[15][16][17]

Name

The state was called Novgorod and Great Novgorod (Russian: Великий Новгород, romanizedVeliky Novgorod) with the form Sovereign Lord Novgorod the Great (Russian: Государь Господин Великий Новгород, romanizedGosudar Gospodin Veliky Novgorod) becoming common in the 15th century.[c] Novgorod Land and Novgorod volost usually referred to the land belonging to Novgorod. Novgorod Republic (Russian: Новгородская республика, romanizedNovgorodskaya respublika) itself is a much later term,[19] although the polity was described as a republic as early as in the beginning of the 16th century.[20][21] Soviet historians frequently used the terms Novgorod Feudal Republic and Novgorod Boyar Republic.[22]

History

Origins

Main article: Novgorod Land § History

The area of Novgorod was populated by various East Slavic tribes that were constantly at war with one another for supremacy. However, these tribes came together during the beginning of the 9th century to try to form a negotiated settlement to end military aggression amongst each other.[23] The Novgorod First Chronicle, a collection of writings depicting the history of Novgorod from 1016 to 1471, states that these tribes wanted to "seek a prince who may rule over us and judge us according to law".[24] According to tradition, Novgorod was where the Varangians were "invited" to rule over what is now northwestern Russia in 862 and the birthplace of its monarchy.[25][26]

The Novgorodians were the first to reach the regions between the Arctic Ocean and Lake Onega. Even though there is no definitive account of the precise timing of their arrival at the northern rivers that flowed into the Arctic, there are chronicles which mention that one expedition reached the Pechora River in 1032, and trading was established as early as 1096 with the Yugra tribes.[27] The Chronicle mentions Novgorodians traveling "beyond the portage" as early as 1079.[28] They also traveled to Pomorye, the "summer [southern] coast" of the "Cold [White] Sea" in search of furs as well as fish and salt.[28] Historian George Lantzeff remarked that "in the beginning of Russian history, two Russian principalities, Novgorod and Rostov-Suzdal, were engaged in exploring, conquering, exploiting, and colonizing the area west of the Ural Mountains".[28] From the late 11th century, the Novgorodians asserted greater control over the determination of their rules and rejected a politically dependent relationship to Kiev.[29]

Medieval walls of the Novgorod Detinets from the late 15th century. The Kokui tower (left) dates from the 17th century; its name is of Swedish origin.

Chronicles state that the Novgorodians paid tribute to the grand prince of Kiev by 1113. Some time after this, the administration of the principality seemed to have matured. The Novgorodian tysyatsky and posadniki appointed boyars from the cities and collected revenues for administration in the territories it held. A charter from the 1130s mentioned 30 administrative posts in the territory of Novgorod, where revenues were collected regularly and sent as a tithe to the Novgorod bishop. Throughout the 12th century, Novgorod utilized the Baltic-Volga-Caspian trade route, not only for trading but also for bringing food from the fertile Oka region to their city.[27]

Republican period

In 1136, the Novgorodians dismissed their prince Vsevolod Mstislavich, and over the next century and half, were able to invite in and dismiss a number of princes. However, these invitations or dismissals were often based on who was the dominant prince in Rus' at the time, and not on any independent thinking on the part of Novgorod.[30]

Rostov-Suzdal comprised the territory of the important Oka region and lands along the vital Sheksna River. This river lay in the Northern Volga tributary region. Whoever controlled the river was able to block food supplies causing a famine in Novgorod. Perhaps due to these fears, Novgorod led a failed invasion of Suzdal in 1134. They tried again and succeeded in 1149. Alternatively, Novgorod, in a bid to appease Suzdal, accepted some Suzdalians as rulers of Novgorod. Despite these events, Suzdal still blocked off trade to Novgorod twice and intercepted Novgorod's tributes.[27]

According to Russian sources,[31] during the Northern Crusades, the Novgorodian prince Alexander Yaroslavich defeated the Swedes at the Battle of the Neva in July 1240, from which he received the sobriquet Nevsky ("of the Neva").[32][33] Alexander then defeated German crusaders at the Battle on the Ice in 1242,[34] after the forces of the exiled prince of Pskov and men from the Bishopric of Dorpat attacked the Pskov Republic and Votia, a tributary of Novgorod.[35][36] This later led to him being depicted as the "ideal defender of the whole Russian nation", in chronicles such as the Life of Alexander Nevsky where he is shown to be an ideal ruler.[37] Novgorod was also spared by the Mongol armies during the Mongol invasions after Alexander Nevsky agreed to pay tribute.[38] Historians such as J. L. I. Fennell have called the proportions of Nevsky's victories as having been overblown; he also argued that there was no existence of a unified Western scheme of aggression against Russia and that Nevsky appeased the Mongols, while many Russian historians have argued that Nevsky was being wise, with cooperation with the Mongols being the only sensible option at the time which averted further tragedy.[39]

The city of Pskov, initially part of Novgorod Land, became de facto independent as early as the 13th century after opening a trading post for merchants of the Hanseatic League. Several princes such as Vsevolod Mstislavich (d. 1138) and Dovmont (d. 1299) reigned in Pskov without any deference to, or consultation with, the prince or other officials in Novgorod. The independence of the Pskov Republic was acknowledged in the 1348 Treaty of Bolotovo. However, the archbishop of Novgorod continued to head the church in Pskov and kept the title of archbishop of Novgorod the Great and Pskov until 1589.

In the 12th to 15th centuries, the Novgorod Republic expanded east and northeast. The Novgorodians explored the areas around Lake Onega, along the Northern Dvina, and coastlines of the White Sea. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Novgorodians explored the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, and the West-Siberian river Ob. The lands to the north of the city, rich with fur, sea fauna and salt among others were of great economic importance to the Novgorodians, who 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 Novgorod Republic.[citation needed]

Fall of the republic

Martha the Mayoress at the Destruction of the Novgorod Veche, painting by Klavdiy Lebedev (1889)

Tver, Moscow and Lithuania fought over control of Novgorod and its enormous wealth from the 14th century. Upon becoming the grand prince of Vladimir, Mikhail Yaroslavich sent his governors to Novgorod. A series of disagreements with Mikhail pushed Novgorod towards closer ties with Moscow during the reign of Yury. In part, Tver's proximity (the Tver principality was contiguous with Novgorod Land) threatened Novgorod. It was feared that a Tverian prince would annex Novgorod's territory, and thus weaken the republic. At the time, though, Moscow did not border 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 Moscow grew in strength, however, the Muscovite princes became a serious threat to Novgorod. Ivan I, Simeon, and other princes sought to limit Novgorod's independence. In 1397, a critical conflict took place between Moscow 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.[40][41] This territory was returned to Novgorod the following year.

Novgorod supported the rebellious Dmitry Shemyaka against Vasily II in his civil war in Moscow, and after Vasily II returned to throne, a war between Moscow and Novgorod took place, which ended after the Treaty of Yazhelbitsy was signed in 1456. The treaty marked the beginning of the fall of Novgorod's independence as it lost certain freedoms. Moscow began to gradually seize land in the northern territories that were formerly under Novgorod's control for the next decade and half due to a desire for luxury furs in the area.[42] This led to a struggle with Novgorod for the Russian fur trade, and thus, an economic rivalry for fur, land and trade ports.[42]

Some Novgorodian boyars were opposed to Moscow as a result, while others pursued a pro-Muscovite policy in the hopes that good relations with Moscow would reduce disruption in Novgorod's trade; Novgorod was also dependent on the Russian lands to its southwest for important imports such as grain.[42] Some Novgorodians were also attracted to Moscow due to it being the center of Russian Orthodoxy as opposed to Lithuania, where Catholicism was dominant and its culture was being increasingly polonized, though some Novgorodian clergy adopted a pro-Lithuanian policy for political reasons due to fears that embracing the grand prince of Moscow would eventually lead to the end of Novgorod's independence.[42] Most Novgorodian boyars had hoped to maintain the republic's independence since if Novgorod were to be conquered, the boyars' wealth would flow to the grand prince and Muscovite boyars, and the Novgorodians would fall into decline; most of them also did not earn enough to pay for war.[43]

The removal of the veche bell from Novgorod, miniature from the Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible (16th century)

By 1470, with the pro-Lithuanian faction being dominant,[42] the Novgorodian boyars questioned Ivan's sovereignty over Novgorod as their prince.[44] Novgorod negotiated with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for a new prince to be sent over.[42] This led to Mikhailo Olelkovich, a cousin of Ivan III, to be accepted.[45] According to tradition, Marfa Boretskaya, the wife of the posadnik Isak Boretsky, was the main proponent of an alliance with Poland–Lithuania to save the republic. According to this legend, Boretskaya invited the Lithuanian princeling Mikhailo 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 of Lithuania. The prospects of changing allegiance in favor of the allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania caused a 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, which forbade Novgorod from conducting foreign affairs without grand princely approval.[46] 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 River, was drawn up between Casimir and the Novgorodians.[47]

The 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 in July 1471, which severely limited Novgorod's freedom to act thereafter, although the city maintained its formal independence. For the next six years, pro-Moscow and anti-Moscow factions in Novgorod competed with one another.[48] Ivan III visited Novgorod several times during this period, persecuting a number of pro-Lithuanian boyars and confiscating their lands. In 1478, Ivan III sent his army to take direct control of the city. He destroyed the veche, tore down the veche bell, the ancient symbol of participatory governance, civil society, and legal rights, and destroyed the library and archives, thus ending the independence of Novgorod.[49] After the takeover, Ivan took more than four-fifths of Novgorod's land: half for himself and the rest for his allies.[50] The formal annexation of Novgorod marked a major step in the unification of Russia around Moscow,[51] with Ivan III later adopting the title of sovereign of all Russia.[52] The Novgorod Chronicle which had been critical of Ivan III before the fall of Novgorod thus described the conquest in its aftermath, justifying it on the grounds of purported conversion of Novgorodians to the Catholic faith:[53]

Thus did Great Prince Ivan advance with all his host against his domain of Novgorod because of the rebellious spirit of its people, their pride and conversion to Latinism. With a great and overwhelming force did he occupy the entire territory of Novgorod from frontier to frontier, inflicting on every part of it the dread powers of his fire and sword.

Government

A fragment of the icon Praying Novgorodians depicting the Kuzmin boyars (1467)

The city-state of Novgorod had developed procedures of governance that held a large measure of democratic participation far in advance of the rest of Europe,[54] but that share several similarities with the democratic traditions of Scandinavian peasant republics. The people had the power to elect city officials and they even had the power to elect and remove the prince. The Chronicle writer then goes on to describe a "town meeting" where these decisions would have been made, which included people from all social classes ranging from the posadniki (burgomaster), to the chernye liudi (lit.'black folks') or the lowest free class.[55][56] The precise constitution of the medieval Novgorodian republic is uncertain, although traditional histories have created the image of a highly institutionalized network of veches (public assemblies) and a government of posadniki (burgomaster), tysyatskys ("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.

The veche tradition convinced Novgorodians that they had the right to be consulted on important issues, though in practice, the posadniki came from a few rich merchant families. In the early years of the republic, the prince and posadnik shared power until the prince's power was gradually restricted, while the archbishop of Novgorod increasingly played the role of head of state, particularly during times of feuds.[57] Just before 1300, a series of reforms further curtailed the prince's powers within the local administration while those of the archbishop rose. The Council of Lords (Russian: Совет господ, romanizedSovet gospod) was also formed, and boyar families from each district were represented, typically by former posadniki, with each posadnik beginning to hold office for only one year. As feuds continued to grow, the structure was again changed so that each district had its own posadnik, with the number of posadniki increasing to 24 in 1423, though this failed to achieve stability, and feuds continued until the last days of independence.[57]

The Novgorod Judicial Charter, inherited from the earlier Russkaya Pravda, served as the legal code of the Novgorod Republic from 1440. The latest version was supplemented in 1471 under the auspices of Ivan III and his son Ivan Ivanovich.[58] The Novgorod Judicial Charter, along with the Pskov Judicial Charter, were later used for Ivan III's Sudebnik of 1497 which served as the legal code for the entire Russian state.[59]

Novgorod was called a republic by Sigismund von Herberstein in his Notes on Muscovite Affairs written at least half a century after the conquest of Novgorod.[20] Soviet-era Marxist scholarship frequently described the political system of Novgorod as a "feudal republic", placing it within the Marxist historiographic periodization (slaveryfeudalismcapitalismsocialismcommunism).[60][61] Many scholars today, however, question whether Russia ever really had a feudal political system parallel to that of the medieval West.[citation needed] Historians have also described Novgorod's political system as an oligarchy due to the dominance of rich merchant families in politics.[62][63][64][65]

Archbishop

The Cathedral of St. Sophia, built in the 11th century

See also: Diocese of Novgorod and List of bishops and 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 (Russian: Совет Господ) that was headed by the archbishop and met in the archiepiscopal palace (and in the Chamber of Facets after 1433).[66][67]

The executives of Novgorod, at least nominally, were always the princes of Novgorod, invited by Novgorodians from neighboring states, even though their power waned in the 13th and early 14th centuries.[68][69] It is unclear if the archbishop of Novgorod was the true 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. However, the archbishops appear 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 the metropolitan bishop of Russia.[68][70] The archbishops were probably the richest single land-owners in Novgorod, and they also made money off court fees, fees for the use of weights and measures in the marketplace, and through other means.[71][72]

Veche and posadnik

Main article: Novgorod veche

The Veche in the Republic of Novgorod, painting by Vasily Khudyakov (1861)

Another important executive was the posadnik of Novgorod, who chaired the veche, co-chaired courts together with the 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 the mid-14th century, instead of one posadnik, the veche began electing six. These six posadniks kept their status for their lifetimes, and each year elected among themselves a stepennoy posadnik. Posadniks were almost invariably boyars – the city's highest aristocracy.[73] The precise makeup of the veche is also uncertain, although it appears to have comprised members of the urban population, as well as of the free rural population. Whether it was a democratic institution or one controlled by the boyars has been hotly debated. The posadniks, tysiatskys, and even the bishops and archbishops of Novgorod,[74] were often elected or at least approved by the veche.[75]

Tradespeople and craftsmen also participated in the political affairs of Novgorod. Traditional scholarship argues that they were organized into five kontsy ("ends" in Russian) – i.e., the boroughs of the city they lived in; each end was then organized by the streets in which they lived. 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 merchants were organised into associations, of which the most famous were those of wax traders (called Ivan's Hundred) and of the merchants engaged in overseas trade.[76]

Like much of the rest of Novgorod's medieval history, the precise composition of these organizations is uncertain. 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.

"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.[77]

Prince

Main article: Prince of Novgorod

The prince, while his status in Novgorod was not inheritable 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 called a ryad (Russian: ряд), which protected the interests of Novgorodian boyars and laid out the prince's rights and responsibilities. The ryads that have been preserved in archives describe the relationship of Novgorod with twelve invited princes: five of them from Tver, four from Moscow, and three from Lithuania.[78]

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. The 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.[79] Besides, the prince could not own land in Novgorod and could not himself collect taxes from the territory of Novgorod. He lived from money given to him by the city.[68]

According to several ryads, the prince could not extradite or prosecute a Novgorodian outside of Novgorod Land.[80] The princes had two residences, one on the Marketplace (called Yaroslav's Court), and another in Rurikovo Gorodische (Рюриково городище) several miles south of the Trade Side of the city.

Administrative divisions

A map showing the five kontsy of Novgorod

Main article: Administrative divisions of the Novgorod Republic

The administrative division of Novgorod Republic is not definitely known; the country was divided into several tysyachi (Russian: тысячи, lit.'thousands') in the core lands of the country, and volosti (Russian: волости) in lands in the east and north that were being colonized or just paid tribute. The city of Novgorod and its vicinity, as well as a few other towns, were not part of any of those. Pskov achieved autonomy from Novgorod in the 13th century; its independence was confirmed by the Treaty of Bolotovo in 1348. Several other towns had special status as they were owned jointly by Novgorod and one of the neighbouring states.

The city of Novgorod itself was divided into five kontsy (концы) or boroughs: Nerevsky, Zagorodsky, Lyudin, Slavensky and Plotnitsky. The city was also divided into two sides: the left-bank of the Volkhov was called the Sophia Side and the right-bank the Commercial or Trade Side.[81]

Geography

The Novgorod Republic was the largest of the Russian states in terms of area until it was surpassed by Moscow following its annexation of other independent principalities. The Novgorod Republic occupied the northwest and north of European Russia, as well as the eastern part of Finland. To the east, it was bordered by the Principality of Tver and to the west, it was bordered by Lithuania as well as various Baltic powers, including the Teutonic Order and the bishoprics of Dorpat and Courland as well as the Hanseatic cities of Riga and Reval.[82]

Economy

The marketplace in Novgorod, painting by Apollinary Vasnetsov (1908–1909)

See also: Foreign trade of medieval Novgorod

The economy of the Novgorod Republic included farming and animal husbandry (e.g., the archbishops of Novgorod and others raised horses for the Novgorodian army), while hunting, beekeeping, and fishing were also widespread. In most of the regions of the republic, these different "industries" were combined with farming. Iron was mined on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Staraya Russa and other localities were known for their saltworks. Flax and hop cultivation were also of significant importance. Countryside products, such as furs, beeswax, honey, fish, lard, flax, and hops, were sold on the market and exported to other Russian cities or abroad.

The real wealth of Novgorod, however, came from the fur trade. Hanseatic merchants were particularly attracted to the Russian trade due to its vast resources of furs and beeswax, with Novgorod being the leading supplier of furs.[83] The city was the main entrepôt for trade between Rus' and northwestern Europe as it was located at the eastern end of the Baltic trade network established by the Hanseatic League. 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[84] had so much fur that medieval travel accounts tell of furry animals raining from the sky.[85] 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 and 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 St. Olaf church and trading house in Novgorod. However, the Hanseatic League disputed the right of Novgorodian merchants to carry out sea trade independently and to deliver cargoes to Western European ports by their own ships. Silver, cloth, wine and herring were imported from Western Europe.[76]

Hunting and beekeeping in the forests of Novgorod (1360)

The amount of fur, especially squirrel and other relatively cheap furs, that Novgorod supplied to Hanseatic merchants was considerable. The Lübeck company of Wittenborg exported between 200,000 and 500,000 Lübeck marks from Novgorod to Livonia in the 1350s. Anna Khoroshkevich assumed that exports increased throughout the 14th century and was at its height in the beginning of the 15th century, but by the second half of the century, Novgorod suffered from the effects of exhaustion of its resources with hunting grounds moving considerably further north and Muscovite merchants accruing the main profit of the shift.[86]

In spite of unfavorable natural conditions, Novgorod's rural population was dependent upon agriculture and stock-rearing, while hunting and fishing were also important. The agricultural basis was also insecure, as the land passed almost fully into the hands of ruling boyars and clergy, with only a small area belonging to merchants. The peasants of Novgorod also paid dues to their lords in the products of agriculture, fishing, forestry, and stock-rearing.[83]

Foreign coins and silver were used as a currency before Novgorod started minting its own novgorodka coins in 1420.[87][88]

Society

13th-century Novgorod as depicted in Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (1938)

More than half of all privately owned lands in Novgorod had been concentrated in the hands of some 30–40 noble boyar families by the 14th and 15th centuries. These vast estates served as material resources, which secured political supremacy of the boyars. The Cathedral of St. Sophia – the main ecclesiastic establishment of Novgorod – was their chief rival in terms of landownership. Its votchinas were located in the most economically developed regions of Novgorod Land. The Yuriev Monastery, Arkazhsky Monastery, Antoniev Monastery 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 – the system of metayage – was typical for the afore-mentioned categories of landowners. Their household economies were mostly serviced by slaves (kholops), whose number had been constantly decreasing. Along with the metayage, monetary payments also gained significant importance by the second half of the 15th century.

Some scholars argue that the feudal lords tried to legally tie down the peasants to their land. Certain categories of feudally dependent peasants, such as davniye lyudi (давние люди), polovniki (половники), poruchniki (поручники), and 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, until the late 16th century peasants could leave their land in the weeks preceding and coming after George's Day in Autumn.

Marxist scholars such as Aleksandr Khoroshev often spoke of a 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, 1228–1229, 1270, 1418, and 1446–1447. 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 tradesmen 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 or that the peasants should be allowed to run the city.

Throughout the republican period, the archbishop of Novgorod was the head of the Orthodox church in the city. The Finnic population of Novgorod Land underwent Christianization. The sect of the strigolniki spread to Novgorod from Pskov in the middle of the 14th century, with its members renouncing ecclesiastic hierarchy, monasticism and sacraments of priesthood, communion, repentance and baptism, before they disappeared by the early 15th century.[89] Another sect, known as the Heresy of the Judaizers by its opponents, appeared in Novgorod in the second half of the 15th century and subsequently enjoyed support at the court in Moscow,[90][91] before ultimately they were persecuted and several councils of the Russian Church condemned them.[92]

Military

Like other Russian states, the military of Novgorod consisted of a levy and the prince's retinue (druzhina).[93] While potentially all free Novgorodians could be mobilised, in reality the number of recruits depended on the level of danger faced by Novgorod. The professional formations included the retinues of the archbishop and prominent boyars, as well as the garrisons of fortresses.[94] Firearms were first mentioned in 1394,[95] and in the 15th century, fortress artillery was used,[96] and cannons were installed on ships.[97]

Foreign relations

The Battle on the Ice against the Livonian Order, miniature from the Life of Alexander Nevsky (16th century)

During the era of Kievan Rus', Novgorod was a trade hub at the northern end of both the Volga trade route and the route from the Varangians to the Greeks along the Dnieper River system. A vast array of goods were transported along these routes and exchanged with local Novgorod merchants and other traders. The merchants of Gotland retained the Gothic Court trading house well into the 12th century. Later, German merchantmen also established trading houses in Novgorod. Scandinavian royalty would intermarry with Russian princes and princesses.

Livonian Order and Sweden

After the East–West Schism, Novgorod struggled from the beginning of the 13th century against Swedish, Danish, and German crusaders. During the Swedish–Novgorodian Wars, the Swedes invaded lands where some of the population had earlier paid tribute to Novgorod. The Germans had been trying to conquer the Baltic region since the late 12th century. Novgorod went to war 26 times with Sweden and 11 times with the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The German knights, along with Danish and Swedish feudal lords, launched a series of uncoordinated attacks in 1240–1242. Russian sources mention that a Swedish army was defeated in the Battle of the Neva in 1240.[31] The Baltic German campaigns ended in failure after the Battle on the Ice in 1242. After the foundation of the castle of Vyborg in 1293 the Swedes gained a foothold in Karelia. On August 12, 1323, Sweden and Novgorod signed the Treaty of Nöteborg, regulating their border for the first time.

Golden Horde

The Novgorod Republic was saved from the direct impact of the Mongol invasions as it was not conquered by the Mongols.[98] In 1259, Mongol tax-collectors and census-takers arrived in the city, leading to political disturbances and forcing Alexander Nevsky to punish a number of town officials (by cutting off their noses) for defying him as the grand prince of Vladimir (soon to be the khan's tax-collector in Russia) and his Mongol overlords.[99][100]

Culture

Art and iconography

See also: Russian icons

The Angel with Golden Hair, c. 1200

The Republic of Novgorod was famous for its high level of culture in relation to other Russian duchies like Suzdal. A great majority of the most important Eastern artwork of the period came from this city. Novgorodians produced large quantities of art, more specifically, religious icons. This high level of artistic production was due to the flourishing economy. Not only would prominent boyar families commission the creation of icons, but artists also had the backing of wealthy merchants and members of the strong artisan class.[101] Icons became so prominent in Novgorod that by the end of the 13th century, a citizen did not have to be particularly rich to buy one; in fact, icons were often produced as exports as well as for churches and homes.[102] However, scholars today have managed to find and preserve only a small, random assortment of icons made from the 12th century to the 14th century in Novgorod.[102]

The icons that do remain show a mixture of a traditional Russian style, Palaeologus-Byzantine style (prominent previously in Kiev), and European Romanesque and Gothic style.[103] The artists of Novgorod, and their audience, favored saints who provided protection mostly related to the economy. The Prophet Elijah was the lord of thunder who provided rain for the peasants' fields. Saint George, Saint Blaise, and Saints Florus and Laurus all provided some manner of protection over the fields or the animals and herds of the peasants. Saint Paraskeva Pyatnitsa and Saint Anastasia both protected trade and merchants. Saint Nicholas was the patron of carpenters and protected travelers and the suffering. Both Saint Nicholas and the Prophet Elijah also offer protection from fires. Fires were commonplace in the fields and on the streets of the city.[104] Depictions of these saints retained popularity throughout the entire reign of the republic. But in the beginning of the 14th century another icon became prominent in the city: the Virgin of Mercy. This icon commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Andrew the Fool. During this appearance, Mary prays for humankind.[105]

Novgorod lost not only its political authority after 1478 but also its artistic authority, resulting in a more uniform method for iconography being established throughout Russia.[106] The Novgorod school of icon painting, derived from the Byzantine school, served as the basis for future Russian art with the Moscow school, which emerged in the 16th century and was later succeeded by the Stroganov school.[107]

Architecture and city layout

The Volkhov River divided the Republic of Novgorod into two-halves. The commercial side of the city, which contained the main market, rested on one side of the Volkhov. The Cathedral of St. Sophia and the ancient kremlin rested on the other side of the river.[108] The cathedral and kremlin were surrounded by a solid ring of city walls, which included a bell tower. Novgorod was filled with and surrounded by churches and monasteries.[109] The city was overcrowded because of its large population of 30,000 people. The wealthy (boyar families, artisans, and merchants) lived in large houses inside the city walls, and the poor used whatever space they could find.[108] The streets were paved with wood and were accompanied by a wooden water-pipe system, a Byzantine invention to protect against fire.[108]

The Byzantine style (famous for large domes) and the European Romanesque style influenced the architecture of Novgorod.[110] A number of rich families commissioned churches and monasteries in the city. About 83 churches, almost all of which were built in stone, operated during this period.[111] Two prominent styles of churches existed in the Republic of Novgorod. The first style consisted of a single apse with a slanted (lopastnyi) roof. This style was standard throughout Russia during this period. The second style, the Novgorodian style, consisted of three apses and had roofs with arched gables. This second style was prominent in the early years of the Republic of Novgorod and also in the last years of the Republic, when this style was revitalized to make a statement against the rising power of Moscow.[112] The inside of the churches contained icons, woodcarvings, and church plates.[113] The first known one-day votive church was built in Novgorod in 1390 to ward off a pandemic, several others were built in the city until the mid-16th century. As they were built in one day, they were made of wood, small in size and simple in design.[114][115]

Literature and literacy

Many birch-bark documents have been found in Novgorod attesting to a high level of literacy among Novgorodians of different social classes

See also: Birch bark manuscript

Chronicles are the earliest kind of literature known to originate in Novgorod, the oldest one being the Novgorod First Chronicle. Other genres appear in the 14th and 15th centuries: travel diaries (such as the account of Stephen of Novgorod's travel to Constantinople for trade purposes), legends about local posadniks, saints and Novgorod's wars and victories.[116] The events of many bylinas – traditional Russian oral epic poems – take place in Novgorod. Their protagonists include a merchant and adventurer Sadko and daredevil Vasily Buslayev.

Scholars generally believe that the Republic of Novgorod had an unusually high level of literacy for the time period. Archeologists found over one thousand birch-bark texts, all dating from the 11th to the 15th centuries, in towns dating back to early Rus'. Roughly 950 of these texts were from Novgorod. Archeologists and scholars estimate that as much as 20,000 similar texts still remain in the ground and many more burned down during numerous fires.[117]

Novgorodian citizens from all class levels, from boyars to peasants and artisans to merchants, participated in writing these texts. Even women wrote a significant amount of the manuscripts.[117] This collection of birch-bark texts consists of religious documents, writings from the city's archbishops, business messages from all classes, and travelogues, especially of religious pilgrimages. The citizens of Novgorod wrote in a realistic and businesslike fashion. In addition to the birch-bark texts, archeologists also found the oldest surviving Russian manuscript in Novgorod: three wax tablets with Psalms 67, 75, and 76, dating from the first quarter of the 11th century.[118]

Notes

  1. ^ Considered to be a dialect of (Old) Russian which dispersed in the 15th century.
  2. ^ From 1165, the bishop of Novgorod became known as the archbishop of Novgorod. The archbishop was confirmed by the metropolitan of Kiev (later based in Vladimir then Moscow) and, after the Russian Orthodox Church became de facto independent in 1448, the metropolitan of Moscow.
  3. ^ Also Lord Novgorod the Great (Russian: Господин Великий Новгород, romanizedGospodin Veliky Novgorod).[18]

References

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  6. ^ Feldbrugge 2009, p. 159, The major showdown took place in 1136... From then on, the Novgorod veche appointed and expelled the prince.
  7. ^ Feldbrugge 2009, p. 159, During the first decades of the 12th century, it gradually appropriated the right to elect its own posadnik, who was originally an official appointed by the prince to rule during the latter's absence. The posadnik thus became the elected burgomaster.
  8. ^ a b Feldbrugge 2009, p. 159.
  9. ^ Feldbrugge 2009, p. 159, The most important official after the posadnik was the tysiatskii (chiliarch, 'thousandman')), originally the military commander.
  10. ^ Feldbrugge 2017, p. 487.
  11. ^ Feldbrugge, Ferdinand J. M.; Clark, Roger; Pomorski, Stanislaw (22 November 2021). International and National Law in Russia and Eastern Europe: Essays in honor of George Ginsburgs. BRILL. p. 178. ISBN 978-90-04-48076-6. Actual power in Novgorod rested with its chief officials, the posadnik (mayor, or governor) and the tysiatskii (the Byzantine chiliarch, a military commander), originally appointees of the prince, but subsequently elected, the veche, dominated by the Novgorod boyars...
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  13. ^ Советская историческая энциклопедия. Том 14. p. 923. ISBN 978-5-458-23391-0. Ушкуйники... вооруженные новгородские дружины (до неск. тыс. чел.), формировавшиеся боярами из людей без определенных занятий для захвата колоний на Севере и торг. разбойничьих экспедиций на Волге и Каме...
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  17. ^ Stevens 2013, p. 28.
  18. ^ Vernadsky & Karpovich 1959, p. 37.
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  24. ^ Primary Chronicle
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  31. ^ a b Line, Philip (31 March 2007). Kingship and State Formation in Sweden 1130-1290. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-474-1983-9. This 'Second' Crusade to Finland was, according to Russian sources, immediately followed by the unsuccessful Swedish expedition to the Neva, which was thwarted by the Novgorodians
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  33. ^ Moss 2003, p. 73, The first significant Russian prince to rule under the Mongols was Alexander Nevsky. When the Mongols conquered Rus, he was prince of Novgorod, and he soon led it to two important victories. For his first victory, against Sweden on the Neva River in 1240, he received (two centuries later) the appellation 'Nevsky'.
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  37. ^ Moss 2003, p. 73.
  38. ^ Moss 2003, pp. 73–75.
  39. ^ Martin, Treasure of the Land of Darkness
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  44. ^ Crummey 2013, p. 88.
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  57. ^ Feldbrugge 2017, p. 185.
  58. ^ Hammond, Vincent E. (16 March 2009). State Service in Sixteenth Century Novgorod: The First Century of the Pomestie System. University Press of America. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-7618-4386-3. The unification of Russia around Moscow confronted the Russian government with the problem of integrating Novgorod with the other newly annexed territories into the state... The Sudebnik issued by Ivan III in 1497 was Russia's first 'national' code of laws.
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  60. ^ See, for example, Igor Froianov, Kievskaia Rus; ocherki sotsialʼno-ekonomicheskoĭ istorii. (Leningrad: Leningrad State University, 1974).
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  62. ^ Wren, Melvin C.; Stults, Taylor (8 January 2009). The Course of Russian History, 5th Edition. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-1-7252-2440-7. It consisted exclusively of members of the great merchant families who dominated city office and gave city government the character of an oligarchy.
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  103. ^ Vzdornov & McDarby 1997, p. 53.
  104. ^ Vzdornov & McDarby 1997, p. 56.
  105. ^ Vzdornov & McDarby 1997, p. 67, The art of Novgorod and its vast northern territories will always be one of the most brilliant pages in the history of Russian art. With the fall of the city in 1478, not only did its political importance decrease, but so did its artistic authority. After having established a centralized Russian state, Moscow set out to suppress systematically all local traditions... The borders between the iconography from Moscow and that of Novgorod were slowly disappearing and, starting with the second half of the sixteenth century, it becomes more difficult to trace boundary lines between the two schools.
  106. ^ Vzdornov, Gerol'd I. (20 November 2017). The History of the Discovery and Study of Russian Medieval Painting (61 ed.). BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-30527-4. ...the Novgorod school gave way to the Moscow school which, in turn, was succeeded by the Stroganov school. As the Novgorod school derives directly from the Byzantine one, Novgorod painting was regarded as a variety of Greek painting rather than a school of its own. The Moscow school of icon painting was the first, and most famous, Russian one. It emerged in the sixteenth century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
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  109. ^ Anonymous, "Novgorod," 183.
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Bibliography

Further reading

58°33′N 31°16′E / 58.550°N 31.267°E / 58.550; 31.267