The prominent Russian historian, Academician Valentin Yanin, devoted much of his time and attention to Novgorod - originally, the Republic of Novgorod the Great - one of Russia's oldest towns, dating at least to the 9th century, a notable trading center, governed by its Veche - elected popular assembly, which stubbornly resisted the autocratic claims of the Muscovy rulers. In his article analyzing the roots of Novgorodian statehood Academician Yanin wrote: "We have long been accustomed to describing the 'Veche' systems of government in Novgorod as a 'boyar republic' (boyars - the nobility). But what kind of a republic this was if it also had 'the throne of a prince' and when its system of government included the person of a prince as an indispensable condition of its functioning?" On the other hand, however, one can neither call it a principality because a prince - an invited military commander, or chieftain, remained under strict control of the local boyars.
The 1264 Treaty signed by Novgorod with Prince Yaroslav Yaroslavich - the oldest such document preserved to this day - not only regiments the status and relations of the "contracting parties", but also contains a proud formula of what they called "liberty in princes". This key provision was punctually preserved in all of the subsequent treaties of this kind up to the loss of Novgorod's independent status in 1478. No earlier Novgorodian treaties of this kind have been preserved over the centuries because of various reasons, but the local chronicle contains repeated mentions of "Yaroslav treaties" in its description of the military commander swearing his oath of loyalty to the Republic. Who was this person - one out of five who held this post during this period of Novgorodian history?
As Acad. Yanin points out, one can regard with a fair measure of confidence the long-established opinion of scholars that the chronicle mention of "Yaroslav treaties" refers to some official documents which asserted the system of ... Читать далее