Chronology of Novgorod's Political History

[This is based primarily on V. L. Ianin, Novgorodskie posadniki, M., 1961.   Since the focus of Ianin's book is the institution of the mayoralty, not all important aspects of Novgorod government are reflected in this chronology.  Some details of Ianin's work have been modified by subsequent research.]

10th-11th c.

Posadniki ("mayors") the representatives of Kievan princely power. Could be princes or local elite.


First indication of prince and posadnik existing simultaneously.

1096, 1102

Novgorodians refuse to accept prince appointed by Kiev.

1st decade of 12th c.

Indication of reassertion of princely power but also move of princely residence to Gorodishche outside of city. Sotskie ("hundredmen") and desiatskie ("tenmen") as organs of princely administration.


Enthronement of Prince Vsevolod Mstislavich under condition that he could be thrown out if did not serve full term or violated agreement.


He did so; not readmitted when he returned.


Vsevolod jailed and accused of various crimes. Prince invited from Ol'govich branch of Riurikid dynasty from Chernigov. First time a non-Kievan prince on Novgorod throne.


Posadnik seals independent of princely ones.


Disappearance of posadnik seals, but continuation of princely ones.


Boyar disagreements--factions supporting one or another princely family, the rivalry being basically between Vladimir/Suzdal' and Chernigov branches. Princely independence reasserted. They often leave sons behind and even once or twice appoint posadnik.


Posadnik comes out in opposition to prince and henceforth is leader of that opposition. But princely power still very real: no posadnik seals and existing restrictions on princely land ownership confined to border lands. Yet prince not always a strong military leader--some boys become princes.

end 12th c.

Appearance of tysiatskii (chiliarch) as organ of republic administration concerned with fiscal and economic matters.

beg. 13th c.

Evidence for principle of seniority in posadnik elections; special connections of boyar factions with boroughs of city.


Prince weak enough so that he could have been eliminated but for external German threat. Vladimir/Suzdal' princes get inside track to throne but elected and promise to observe laws.

13th c.

Development of Council of Lords. Grand Prince of Vladimir usually recognized as prince and he sends deputy (a relative) to act in name in Novgorod.

1240, 1242

Prince Aleksandr Iaroslavich, son of the Grand Prince of Vladimir, leads Novgorod troops to victory over Swedish and German knights, the first battle on the R. Neva earning him later the epithet "Nevskii". The second battle has been immotalized in the Soviet-era anti-German propaganda film directed by Sergei Eisenstein, "Aleksandr Nevskii."

1269 or 1270

First extant treaty between Novgorod and one of its princes, although clearly tradition of drawing up such treaties already a long one. Prince's power and ability to gain a permanent foothold in Novgorod territory sharply limited.


Beginning of annual re-election of posadnik. Alternation between two families representing different boroughs. This suggests that each borough had a permanent posadnik who sat in the council.

end 13th c.

Special merchant courts under tiun' established; merchant "elders" had most of responsibility for collecting customs and trade-related revenues.

ca. 1330s

Novgorod recognizes de facto primacy of Moscow princes in appointment of Novgorodian princes.


Pskov delcares its independence of Novgorod.


Reform of office of posadnik undertaken by Ontsifor Lukich, who, with rest on council, resigns. Collective mayoralty created--six posadniki--with new faces now elected. By 1372, also six tysiatskie. Each borough represented (in one case initially, representation double).


Brief but unsuccessful attempt of Grand Prince of Vladimir and Moscow, Vasilii I, to establish direct Moscow administration in Novgorodian territory around N. Dvina River.


Number of posadniki tripled. Tenure of senior one halved; now new elections every six months.


Another six posadniki added. Clear that real oligarchy established. Individual posadnik seals now less important; development of an all-Novgorod seal. Indication that power increasingly in hands of a few wealthy elite families. They control office of tysiatskii and take over functions that had been in merchant-controlled tiun' courts.


After defeat by Moscow, Novgorod forced to sign Treaty of Iazhelbitsy, yielding effective sovereign power and control of foreign policy to Moscow.


Novgorod annexed by Moscow.


Ivan IV and his Oprichnina army devastate Novgorod.