1902 Encyclopedia > Novgorod (capital), Russia

Novgorod (capital)

NOVGOROD, capital of the above government, is situated 119 miles to the south of St Petersburg, on the low fiat banks of the Volkhoff, some two miles below the point were begun in 1302, and much extended and embellished Constantinople to take the place of the original wooden the kremlin is Yaroslaff's Tower, in the square where the the gridnitsa or chancellery of the secretaries of the vyetche: immediate neighbourhood shows the great extension the city formerly had. A monument to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the foundation of the Russian state (the calling in of the Varangians by Novgorod in 862) was erected in 1864. It consists of a large globe on a massive pedestal, surrounded by numerous statues commemorating the leading events of Russian history. Another monument commemorates the campaign of 1812. On the whole, apart from its old churches and some portions of its walls, Novgorod has nothing to recall the leading part it has played in the history of Russia. Since the diversion from it of the great commercial highways of north-western Russia its commercial influence has been very limited. Its merchants still send timber, grain, and hay to St Petersburg; but the total production of its manufacturing establishments - paper-mills, flour-mills, saw-mills, glass-works, brick-works, match-works, and distilleries - does not reach 1,000,000 roubles. A trunk railway, 45 miles long, connects the city with Tchudovo on the Moscow and St Petersburg Railway. The population is 17,500.

The date at which the Slavonians on their northward advance first erected forts on the Volkhoff (where it leaves Lake Ilmen and where it flows into Lake Ladoga) is unknown. That situated on a low terrace close by Lake Ilmen was soon abandoned, and Novgorod or "New-town " arose on another which extended a mile lower on both banks of the river. The older fort (Go•odische) still existed in the 13th century. It is certain that, even in the 9th century, the new city on the Volkhoff, whilst maintaining close relations with Kieff, already exercised a kind of supremacy over the other towns of the lake region, when its inhabitants in 862 invited the Varangians to the defence of the Russian towns of the north. Down to the end of the 10th century Novgorod was in some sort dependent on Kieff; yet it must have maintained its internal autonomy, for in 997 its inhabitants obtained from their own Prince Yaroslaff charter which granted them self-government, a jurisdiction of their own, 'and the rule of their proper vyetche. For five centuries this charter continued to be regarded as the chief written testimony of the independence of Novgorod, and was ever resorted to in the struggles with the princes. From the end of the 10th century the princes of Novgorod, chosen either from the sons of the great princes of Kieff (until 1136) or from some other branch of the family of Rurik, were always elected by the vyetche, and swore to maintain the free institutions of the town ; but they were only its military defenders. Their delegates were merely assessors in the courts which levied the fixed. taxes meant to defray the maintenance of the military force raised by the prince. The vyetche expelled the princes as soon as they provoked discontent. Their election was often a subject of dispute between the wealthier merchants and landowners and the poorer classes ; and Novgorod, which was dependent for its corn supply upon the land of Suzdal, was sometimes compelled to accept a prince from the Suzdal branch instead of from that of Kieff, which was more popular among the poorer classes. After 1270 the city often refused to have princes at all, and the elected mayor (posathzik) was the representative of the executive in its limited attributes. Novgorod in its transactions with other cities took the name of "Sovereign Great Novgorod" (Gospodin Velikii Ilrowgorod). The supreme power and the supreme jurisdiction were in the hands of the ttyetehe, whose resolutions were carefully inscribed by its secretaries (dialci). The city, which had a population of more than 80,000, was divided into sections (kontsii), radiating from its centre,. and corresponding to some extent to the prevailing occupations of the inhabitants ; each constituted a distinct commune which enjoyed a large share of independence. The kontsy were subdivided into streets (ulitsy), which also corresponded to the prevailing occupations of their inhabitants (artisans or merchants), and each of which was quite independent with regard to its own affairs: suchinferior matters, the i election of priests, the maintenance of order, jurisdiction n nferior matters, trade, food supply, &c.

Trade was carried on by corporations which embodied, not only the merchants proper or gosti, but also the poorer classes; in fact, it was the chief source of income, and, owing to the existence of numerous trading corporations, everybody was enabled to participate in it more or less. Novgorod, owing to its very advantageous position, made great advances in trade. By the Volkhoff and the Neva it had direst communication with the Hanseatic and Scandinavian cities. The Dnieper brought it into connexion with the Bosphorus, The Novgorod uksliuyaiki (who often associated robbery with trade) at an early date penetrated to the shores of the White Sea, hunted on Novaya Zemlya in the 11th century, colonized the basins of the northern Dwina, descended the Volga, and, as early as the 14th century, extended their dominions over the " Ugra," beyond the Ural, into Siberia. The Zavolotchie, or the basin of the northern Dwina, was early colonized, and forts were erected to maintain the dominions, while two great colonies, Vyatka and Vologda, organized on the same republican principles as the metropolis, favoured the further colonization of north-eastern Russia.

At the same time a number of flourishing minor towns (prigorody), such as Novyi Torg (Torzhok), Novaya Ladoga, Pskov, and many others, arose in the lake region. Pskov soon became quite independent of the metropolis, and had a history of its own ; the others enjoyed a large measure of independence, still figuring, however, as subordinate towns in all those circumstances which implied a common action of the whole region. Several contemporary testimonies state the population of Novgorod in the 14th century to have reached 400,000, and add that the pestileuees of 1467, 1508, and 1533 carried off no fewer than 134,000 persons. These figures, however, seem to relate rather to the Ilmeu region ; but it may be safely admitted that, before the visitations referred to, the city, with the suburbs, had a population of nearly 100,000.

Throughout its history Novgorod has had to sustain many contests. Its struggle against the Suzdal region began as early as the 12th ceu tury. In the following century it had to contend with the Swedes and the Germans, who were animated not only by the desire of territorial extension throughout the lake region but also by the spirit of religious proselytism. The advances of both were checked by the battles at Ladoga and Pskov in 1240 and 1242. Protected as it was by its marshes, Novgorod escaped the Mongol invasion, and was able to repel the attacks of the princes of Moscow by whom the Mongols were supported ; but it was compelled to pay a tribute, which soon became a tribute to Moscow (end of the 14th century). It also successfully resisted the attacks of Tver, and aided Moscow in its struggle against this powerful neighbour, but it soon itself experienced the power of the growing Moscow state. The first serious invasion of its independence, in 1332, was turned back only with the aid of the Lithuanians. But a severe blow was inflicted in 1456 by the Great Prince of Moscow, Vasilii Temnyi, who, taking advantage of the internal troubles of the city, and finding supporters among the Novgorod boyars, succeeded in imposing a heavy tribute. Ivan III. took possession of the Zavolotchie colonies and the Perm region, and began two bloody wars, (luring which Novgorod fought for its liberty under the leadership of Martha Posadnitsa. In 1475 Ivan III. entered Novgorod, abolished its charters, and carried away 1000 of the wealthier families, substituting for them families from Moscow ; the old free city now recopized his sovereignty. A century later Iran IV. (the Terrible) abolished the last vestige of the independence of the city. Having learned of the existence of a party favourable to Lithuania, he took the field in 1570, and entered Novgorod (much weakened by the recent pestilences) without opposition. His followers seized nearly all the heads of monasteries and beat them to death with sticks. At a given signal a general pillage began : the shops were destroyed, the merchandize thrown out, the wealthier of the merchants and clergy killed and thrown into the Volkhoff, whilst other plundering parties burned and pillaged all stores in the villages. No less than 15,000 men, women, and children were killed at Novgorod alone (60,000 according to some authorities). A. famine ensued, and the district of Novgorod fell into utter destitution. Thousands of families were transported to Moscow, Nijni-Novgorod, and other towns of the principality of Moscow. In the beginning of the 17th century Novgorod was taken and held for seven years by the Swedes ; and in the 18th century the foundation of St Petersburg ultimately destroyed its trade. Its position, however, on the water highway from the Volga to St Petersburg, and on the trunk road from Moscow to the capital, still gave it some commercial importance ; but even this was brought to an end by the opening of the Vishera canal and the Nicholas Railway, which passes 45 miles to the east of Novgorod. (P. A. K.)

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