Political History of Novgorod

Chronology of Novgorod's Political History

This chronology 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") are the representatives of Kievan princely power. They could be princes or members of the local elite.
1088 First indication of prince and posadnik existing simultaneously.
1096, 1102 Novgorodians refuse to accept the prince appointed by Kiev.
1st decade of 12th c. Signs of reassertion of princely power, but the princely residence is moved to Gorodishche outside the city. Sotskie ("hundredmen") and desiatskie ("tenmen") are the organs of princely administration.
1117 Enthronement of Prince Vsevolod Mstislavich on condition that he could be deposed if he did not serve his full term or violated the agreement.
1132 Vsevolod broke the agreement and is not readmitted when he returns.
1136 Vsevolod jailed and accused of various crimes. Prince invited from Ol'govich branch of Riurikid dynasty from Chernigov. For the first time a non-Kievan prince occupies the Novgorod throne.
1117-1136 Posadnik seals are independent of princely seals.
1136 - Posadnik seals disappear, but princely seals continue. ones.
1136-1207 Boyar disagreements--factions supporting one or another princely family, the rivalry being basically between the Vladimir/Suzdal' and Chernigov branches. Princes reassert their independence, often leaving sons behind and even once or twice appointing a posadnik.
1189 Posadnik comes out in opposition to prince and henceforth is the leader of that opposition. But princely power is still very real: there are no posadnik seals, and existing restrictions on princely land ownership are confined to border lands. Yet the prince is 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 the principle of seniority in posadnik elections; special connections of boyar factions with boroughs of city.
1220s-1230s Prince so weak that he could have been eliminated but for the external German threat. Vladimir/Suzdal' princes get the 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 his 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 immortalized in the Soviet-era anti-German propaganda film "Aleksandr Nevskii.", directed by Sergei Eisenstein.
1269 or 1270 First extant treaty between Novgorod and one of its princes, although clearly the tradition of drawing up such treaties is already a long one. Prince's power and ability to gain a permanent foothold in Novgorod territory sharply limited.
1291 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 are established under a tiun'. Merchant "elders" have most of responsibility for collecting customs and trade-related revenues.
ca. 1330s Novgorod recognizes the de facto primacy of the Moscow princes in the appointment of Novgorodian princes.
1348 Pskov delcares its independence of Novgorod.
1354 Reform of office of posadnik undertaken by Ontsifor Lukich, who resigns, along with the rest of the council,. Collective mayoralty created--six posadniki--with new faces now elected. By 1372, also six tysiatskie. Each borough represented (in one case initially, representation double).
1397-1398 Brief but unsuccessful attempt of the Grand Prince of Vladimir and Moscow, Vasilii I, to establish direct Moscow administration in Novgorodian territory around Northern Dvina River.
1416-17 Number of posadniki tripled. Tenure of senior posadnik halved; new elections now held every six months.
1423 Another six posadniki added. Clear that real oligarchy has been established. Individual posadnik seals are now less important; development of an all-Novgorod seal. Indication that power is increasingly in the hands of a few wealthy elite families, who control the office of tysiatskii and take over functions that had belonged to the merchant-controlled tiun' courts.
1456 After defeat by Moscow, Novgorod forced to sign Treaty of Iazhelbitsy, yielding effective sovereign power and control of foreign policy to Moscow.
1478 Novgorod annexed by Moscow.
1570 Ivan IV and his oprichnina army devastate Novgorod.

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