Saturday, April 21, 2018

Novgorod (duchy)

Part of the Grand Duchy of Moscovy, the Duchy of Novgorod is a crucial military and shipping region in western Russia. Excellently situated so as to possess access to the southern Dvina and Ladoga routes to the Baltic Sea in addition to the valley of the Volga, Novgorod was originally the center of a trading empire that predated Moscovy.

The duchy has a total area of 53 hexes, with a density of 1,188 persons per hex. It is bordered on the south by Tver; on the west by Pleskov; on the north by the Kingdom of Sweden (Ingria) and the Kingdom of Vepses; and on the east by Vologda. It has a population of 62,966.


Founded in 859, Novgorod is the oldest city in the grand duchy. It soon became a center for trade and communications for the Varangian peoples throughout the north; however, in 882 Prince Oleg moved his capital to Kiyev and for a time Novgorod was nominally under the authority of the Kiyevan Rus. Novgorod became one of the principalities of Kiyev in Yaroslav the Wise's rotation system - however, as the 11th century waned, Novgorod increasingly became more independent of Kiyevan control.

In 1136, the boyars of Novgorod dismissed Prince Vsevolod, sent to them by Kiyev. Thereafter, for the next century and a half, Novgorod would elect its own princes, inviting many of them from Kiyev, Volhynia or Moscovy. Towns such as Staraya Russa, Kholm and Borovichi would become important transshipment points for goods moving through Novgorod to the Baltic. Novgorod influence would extend outward into Tver, Pleskov, Ingria and the last remains of the Vepsian Empire. The great gnome city of Yarrin would be razed to the ground and the new city of Vologda founded on its ruins in 1147. The remains of the empire would be organized as a client kingdom under Novgorod, paying a yearly tribute and providing gnomish engineering for Novgorodian projects.

Expansion into Egreliia began in the 1170s, initiating a 40-year period of skirmishes and encroachment on the elven Kingdom of Ulthua. By 1209 there were some 10,000 humans in Egreliia, stretched in small colonies between the Onega and Ladoga lakes. The situation persisted until King Jallinor (1205-1261) initiated a reconquest of the region in what became known as the War of the Trees (1209-1212). After the destruction of several human villages along the shore of Lake Onega, the western flat above Lake Ladoga was cleared out and 4,000 Novgorodias marched to Jarrin where they were massacred. Novgorod built a force and met the Ulthuans at the Battle of Dariun. While the humans succeeded in taking the field, losses were so heavy that both sides sued for peace. Settlement south of Lavallinir was reduced by both sides, while human villages were permitted in Ulthua within 20 miles of the agreed-upon border.

As the 13th century progressed, Novgorod fought agianst Swedish, Danish and German crusaders. The German knights proved the most dangerous, allying with the Swedes and launching a series of attacks in 1240-1242, while the rest of Russia was taken with fighting the Mongols. The Swedes were defeated at Neva in 1240 and the Germans after the Battle on the Ice of 1242.

Defended against the Mongols by marshland and distance, Novgorod became a refuge for Russians from the east. However, in 1259 a Mongol army descended on the city and forced Novgorod to pay a tribute. Thereafter, Novgorodian power in the region began to wane. While Swedish expansion brought the Swedes into conflict with the Ulthuans as well in Finland, that Kingdom's threats against Novgorod would end in the building of a fortress at Viborg in 1293, gaining a foothold in Ingria. Over the same period, Novgorod would fight 11 wars against Livonia and the Teutonic Germans, who's influence on the southern Dvina would prove unbreakble.

In 1323, Sweden and Novgorod would sign the treaty of Noteborg, fixing their border for the first time. Throughout the 14th century, influence would be felt from Moscovy in the east and the population of the city of Novgorod (once as high as 150,000) began to decline. Soon after the Muscovite victory against the Tatars in 1380, Russian annexation of Novgorodian trade interests began to starve the city of wealth. Pressure through the mid-15th century would culminate in the Battle of Shelon River in 1471, with Ivan I the Great imposing Muscovite authority over Novgorod by 1478.

A century later, Novgorod - now largely denuded of its commercial supremacy - would become a military duchy under the Belsky family. In 1558, the nobles of Novgorod would drag Moskva into a war with Sweden in an attempt to seize control of Swedish Estonia and especially Riga. The Livonian War would last until 1581. After initial successes against the Swedes at Dorpat and Narva, Poland would intervene in the war in 1559 and Denmark in 1561. Russia, though succeeding in establishing a Livonian Kingdom that would last until 1576, was eventually exhausted by the extended campaign. After the two-year Battle of Wenden, Russian forces retreated. The war ended after the long and difficult siege of Pleskov with the Treaty of Jam Zapolski. Russia renounced its claims to Estonia, Livonia and Vitebsk and was permitted to retain Pleskov and Vyazma.

Thereafter, Novgorod's history has been that of Moscovy.



Novgorod's trade is wholly dependent upon river and lake traffic; there are no major trade roads leading outwards from the city. Goods arrive downstream along the Msta from Tver, the Lovat from Velikiye Luki, from the south through the transhipment port of Staraya Russa and upstream along the Volkhov from Lake Ladoga and ultimately the Baltic Sea.

References for local goods in Novgorod include those produced in the Kingdom of Vepses:

See sheet maps C 03 ~ Lithuania & Poland and C 04 ~ Upper Volga.


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