- For other cities named Novgorod see Novgorod (disambiguation).
Novgorod (Но́вгород) is a city in North-Western Russia. Since 1998 the official name of the city has been Velikiy Novgorod (Great Novgorod). It is the capital of Novgorod Oblast. The city lies along the Volkhov River just below its outflow from Lake Ilmen. Population: ca. 290,000.
It is not to be confused with Nizhny Novgorod, on Volga River.
The exact year of foundation is not known. The written record is ambiguous: one record mentions it as an existing city as of 854, another as of 859.
The Varangian name of the city Holmgard (Holmgård, Holmegaard) is mentioned in Norse Sagas as existing substantially earlier, but the historical fact cannot be separated from myth. Later in history Holmgard referred only to the stronghold inside the city (Riurikovo Gorodische).
In medieval times Novgorod was one of the greatest cities of Ruthenia. During the Kievan Rus period it was the second most important center in the nation and the center of the lucrative fur trade. After the sacking of Kiev and many of the other Russian cities by the Mongols Novgorod's position was greatly enhanced and it became an independent city state of great power. It gained control of a vast swath of territory in Northern Russia and was a center of trade. The city was far less autocratic than the Ruthenian norm with the Prince elected by a council of nobles, also known of Novgorod veche, the ancient parliament, the democratic assembly of representatives of all city parts or all free people in most important cases. The term "veche" is being revived in modern Novgorod.
The city's downfall came about, however, because of its inability to feed its large population which made it dependent on the Vladimir-Suzdal area for grain. The main cities in this area, Moscow and Tver, used this dependence to control Novgorod. Eventually Ivan III annexed the city to Muscovy. It remained powerful, however, until being sacked and its inhabitants slaughtered by Ivan the Terrible.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04