by Valentin SEDOV, RAS Corresponding Member, head of the Field Research Department, RAS Institute of Archeology
Were Rurik, whom llmen Slavs invited as a reigning prince to Novgorod, and Gostomysl, the first Novgorodian posadnik (governor), real personalities who made history? Did the republic of Novgorod the Great with its democratic government appear well before the full-blown Middle Ages? Who dispensed justice and what power did princes wield there, in Old Russia's northwest? What do the oldest writs on birch bark and the cylindrical tallies tell us? These and other questions are answered by Academician Valentin Yanin in his latest book, At the Sources of Novgorodian Statehood, off the press in 2001.
This brilliant, boldly imaginative book reads like a thrilling novel. Looking into the headsource of Novgorodian statehood, the republic of Novgorod the Great, the author portrays historical figures (mentioned now and then in chronicles) as real, multidimensional personalities who come alive in the flesh. As a man who for decades has been heading archeological work at Novgorod, Academician Yanin shows a masterly command of the subject-matter, a deep knowledge of the history of this Russian city-state with its veche, or popular assembly. A wealth of material has been amassed in the course of archeological diggings on the economy, culture and daily life of the Novgorodians. We learn a remarkable lot about their governance, ecclesiastical and secular alike. Proceeding from these new data, the author has found a key to many problems, both substantial and circumstantials. His findings, in particular, shed light on the early stages of East Slav history (9th-11th centuries A.D.).
Clearly, the history of Rus (Old Russia) in its full scope can be studied only by collating data contained in archeological and written sources (the latter often fragmentary not explicit, contradictory). The author does exactly that. His expert knowledge of chronicles and other writ ... Читать далее