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Novgorod Republic (Knightfall)

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Novgorod Republic
Новгородскаѧ земьлѧ Novgorodskaya Zemlja
Timeline: Knightfall
OTL equivalent: Novgorod Republic
. 1136 - ???
Flag of Veliky Novgorod.svg Coat of Arms of Veliky Novgorod.svg
CapitalVeliky Novgorod
Official languages Old East Slavic
Regional Languages Sápmi
Demonym Novgorodian
Government Mixed
 -  Prince Sviatoslav Olgovich (1136–1138)

The Novgorod Republic (Russian: Новгоро́дская респу́блика, Translated: Novgorodskaja respublika) was a large Russian state which its domain extended from the Ural Mountains to the Eastern Baltic Sea. It included mainly the city of Novgorod, the capital, and regions around Lake Lagoda. The Republic was famed and thrived as the easternmost part and port of the Hanseatic League, or the Hansa.


     See Also: Kievan Rus'


For a detailed overview of Novgorod before 1248, click here .

Thirteenth Century

Fourteenth Century

Fifth Century

Fall of the Republic


The Novgorodian Republic was made up of a network of public assemblies, mayors, tysyatskys (originally of the head of a  town militia, but later an appointed office), members of aristrocratic families, and Orthodox archbishops in the region of Novgorod. There was a Council of Lords, who led the executive branch of the government, who was in turn led by the archbishop. The council met in the archiepiscopal palace. However, the head executives was always the Prince of Novgorod, who was invited by Novgorodians from nearby states. The Archbishop who led the council created embassies, saw over court cases, and acted on other non-religious services. He was always supposed to consult boyars. The archbishop was not appointed, but elected by Novgorodians and approved by the Bishop of Russia. These archbishops were the richest aristocrats in Novgorod and also made profit off court fees, taxes, and through other ways. 

Another very important position was the Posadnik, who carried out the public assembilies, charied with the prince, made sure tax collection was being brought through and managed affairs of the city. Almost all of the Prince's major decisions needed to be approved by this man.

The Public assembly comprised members of cities as well as of the countryside. The mayors, archbishops, bishops, and Posadniks had to all be approved, if not elected by the public assembly. Tradesmen and Artisans participated in politics too. They were organized into five ends, the side of the city they lived and worked in, i.e "Potters' End," Carpenters End." et cetara. This also brought "proto-guilds" into Russian society, although not identical to the guilds in Central and Western Europe.

The Prince was not able to inherit the throne, and his power was reduced, still remained a major force in life for the Novgorodian. They all signed a contract called a r'ad, which protected the rights of Novgorodian boyars and layed our the prince's responsibilities. He held 5 major responsibilities: to be a military leader, to patronize churches, held court, et cetara. The Prince could't own land in Novgorod and could not collect taxes from Novgorod lands. He usually lived from money given by the city of Novgorod. The nation was divided into tysyachas, core lands, and volosts, lands in the east and north which were undeveloped and were still being colonized, or even paying tribute. 

List of Rulers

  • Burivoi (legendary Slovene ruler)
Ninth Century
Tenth Century
Eleventh Century
Twevelth Century
  • Vsevolod I Mstislavich, 1117–1132
  • Sviatopolk II Mstislavich, 1132
  • Vsevolod I Mstislavich, 1132–1136
  • Sviatoslav II Olgovich , 1136–1138
  • Sviatopolk II Mstislavich, 1138
  • Rostislav I Iurevich, 1138–1140
  • Sviatoslav II Olgovich, 1140–1141
  • Sviatoslav III Vsevolodovich, 1141
  • Rostislav I Iurevich, 1141–1142
  • Sviatopolk II Mstislavich, 1142–1148
  • Yaroslav II, 1148–1154
  • Rostislav II Mstislavich, 1154
  • David II Rostislavich, 1154–1155
  • Mstislav II Iurevich, 1155–1158
  • Sviatoslav IV Rostislavich, 1158–1160
  • Mstislav III the Eyeless, 1160–1161
  • Sviatoslav IV Rostislavich, 1161–1168
  • Roman I the Great, 1168–1170
  • Rurik Rostislavich, 1170–1171
  • Iuri I Bogolyubsky, 1171–1175
  • Sviatoslav V Mstislavich, 1175–1176
  • Mstislav III the Eyeless, 1177
  • Yaroslav III Mstislavich, 1177
  • Mstislav III the Eyeless, 1177–1178
  • Yaropolk II Rostislavich, 1178
  • Roman II Rostislavich, 1178–1179
  • Mstislav IV the Bold, 1179–1180
  • Vladimir III Sviatoslavich, 1180–1181
  • Yaroslav III Vladimirovich, 1182–1184
  • Mstislav IV-Boris Davydovich, 1184–1187
  • Yaroslav III Vladimirovich, 1187–1196
  • Yaropolk III Iaroslavich, 1197
  • Yaroslav III Vladimirovich, 1197–1199
Thirteenth Century
Fourteenth Century
Fifteenth Century


The economy of Novgorod was mainly dependant on farming, animal husbandry, hunting, beekeeping, and fishing. There were many regional economies as well, such as iron mining off the coast of the Gulf of Finland. The real wealth of Novgorod came from fur trade. The city of Novgorod stood on the northwestern end of the Silk Road and the trade established by the Hansa. The actual wealth came from fur trade from Lae Ladoga, to the Ural montains. Novgodrian Merchants primarily traded with Swedish, German, and Danish cities. Early on, Novgorodians sailed around the Baltics themselves. More than half of privtely owned land was owned by boyar families. This secured the politicial position of the boyars. Boyars tried to ristrict peasants from leaving their land, in some cases, actually worked. There was an unwritten rule that peasants could leave their land if they had paid all their debts. They could also lose during the weeks before and after St.George's Day. However, full serfdom never exsisted in the Republic. There were up to 80 armed rebellions around the nation due to this. 

Foreign Relations

While Kievan Rus' was at it's zenith, Novgorod was a trading center at the north of the Volga River trade route, becoming a gateway from Scandinavia to Greece along the Dnieper River. Goods were moved along these trade routes, transported by local Novgorodian merchants. After the Great Schism in 1054, Novgorod was bombarded with a series of Scandinavian and German crusades. Novgorod went to war with them more than 37 times. The Crusades were obviously unsuccessful; the Germans ending in disastrous defeat after the Battle on the Ice, in 1242.

Mongol Relations


Art and Iconography

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. Citizens of Novgorod were producing 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. Icons became so prominent in Novgorod that by the 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. 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. The icons that do remain show a mixture of traditional Russian style, Palaeologus-Byzantine style (prominent previously in Kiev), and European Romanesque and Gothic style.

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.


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 St. Sophia Cathedral and an ancient kremlin rested on the other side of the river. 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. The city was overcrowded because of its large population of 30,000 people. The wealthy (boyar families, artisans, and merchants) lived in large stone houses inside the city walls, and the poor used whatever space they could find. The streets were paved with wood and were accompanied by a wooden water-pipe system, a Byzantine invention to protect against fire.The Byzantine style (famous for large domes) and the European Romanesque style influenced the architecture of Novgorod. 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.

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. The inside of the churches contained icons, woodcarvings, and church plates.


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 the early Rus'. Roughly 950 of these texts were from Novgorod. Archeologists and scholars assume that fires destroyed a majority of Novgorod’s written works and that about 20,000 similar texts still remain hidden in the city. Novgorod 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. 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. The collection of birch-bark texts also includes chronicles of byliny (Russian folklore and epic stories). The heroes of these stories were most commonly men who represented the free and adventurous spirit of the Novgorod Republic. One popular figure of the time was Sadko, a business man and traveler. Another popular figure was Vasilii Buslaev, a young giant who gets into fights with his neighbors. 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.

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