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Veliky Novgorod: Tragic events of 1471-1479
Veliky Novgorod: Tragic events of 1471-1479

The annexation of Veliky Novgorod to the Moscow principality was accompanied by bloody massacres and merciless deportations.

The tragic events of 1471-1479, which ended the independence of Veliky Novgorod, had been preparing for a long time - for a century and a half, the Moscow princes, envious of the prosperity, wealth and independence of the free city, tried to oppress it with tributes.

Between Moscow and Lithuania

The reason for the decisive offensive of Moscow was the revival in Novgorod of the "Lithuanian party" - supporters of an alliance with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, headed by King Casimir. In addition, in 1470 Novgorod stopped paying its traditional tribute to Moscow altogether. At the same time, the decision of the veche emphasized that "Novgorod is not the fatherland of the Grand Duke, but his own master."

In the fall of 1470, Metropolitan of Novgorod, Vladyka Jonah, died. The "Lithuanian" party insisted that the newly elected Metropolitan, St. Theophilus, go to Kiev for the "appointment" (confirmation) - the head of Orthodox Lithuania, Metropolitan of Kiev, lived there. Moreover, at the meeting, a contractual Novgorod-Lithuanian charter was drawn up with guarantees of the preservation of Novgorod freedoms. The people at the veche shouted: "Veliky Novgorod is a land free from centuries!" As a result, in the spring of 1471, the Moscow ambassadors were expelled from the city.

Ivan III

Upon learning of this, Ivan III handed over a letter with the ambassadors, in which he reproached the Novgorodians for deviating from "Christianity to Latinism." It was on the fact that the supposed alliance with Casimir was a departure from Orthodoxy that the whole ideology of the Moscow offensive against Novgorod was later built.

Before the start of the war, Metropolitan Philip of Moscow compared Ivan III's campaign against Orthodox Novgorod with the feat of Prince Dmitry Donskoy, who opposed the "godless Tatar army." And now the Grand Duke went "against the apostates, their deeds are worse than the infidels" - after all, they decided "to move to Latinism." So the Novgorodians were presented as "traitors", and the Moscow prince - the only defender of the Orthodox faith.

Defeat of Novgorodians

Moscow letters added fuel to the fire of the struggle that was blazing in the republic. The "Lithuanian Party" has grown stronger. Its informal leader was the famous Martha Boretskaya, the widow of the mayor Isaac Boretsky.

Soon Ivan III, fearing the arrival of Kazimir to Novgorod, moved his troops there. The Moscow detachments received the order: to burn and destroy all Novgorod villages and cities on the way, to kill old and small indiscriminately. Following the army, the Grand Duke himself set off unhurriedly. It is curious that Ivan took clerk Stepan the Bearded, a court historian, with him on the campaign. He, it turns out, was able to deftly "turn around the Russian chroniclers": he could find "old lies of Novgorodians" and expose them.

The militia of the townspeople also gathered in Novgorod. But this army was ill-prepared. Many went to war unwillingly. Vladyka Theophilus sent his cavalry regiment, but the riders behaved passively. As a result, the Novgorodians were defeated at Korostyn, on the banks of the Ilmen. The Muscovites cut off their noses and lips to the captured Novgorodians, and then let them go to Novgorod in this form: "Now show yourself to your own!" It was a Moscow-Mongolian style of intimidation. But the result turned out to be the opposite: the Novgorodians gathered a new army.

Velikiy Novgorod

On the banks of the Sheloni River, the two armies met. The victory in the "swearing competition" clearly remained with the Novgorodians; later the Moscow chronicler thought so: "The cursed," he wrote about the Novgorodians, "like dogs barked, wearing blasphemous words at the Grand Duke himself." But the scolded Muscovites won a landslide victory.

The Novgorodians, dejected by the defeat, began to prepare for the siege - they armed themselves, fortified the walls.However, the mood of the veche changed: there were immediately more supporters of Moscow, they raised their heads, urging "women not to listen", but to bow to the Grand Duke. Vladyka Theophilos with ambassadors and gifts sailed through the Ilmen to the mouth of the Sheloni, where the grand ducal tents stood. With tears in his eyes, Theophilus asked for Novgorod.

Satisfied Ivan III forgave the "offense" of the unfaithful Novgorodians, told them that "he gives up his dislike, subdues the sword and the storm in the earth." The Novgorodians publicly renounced Casimir and promised to "supply" their ruler exclusively in Moscow. A monstrous contribution was imposed on the city - 14, 5 thousand rubles in silver, and most importantly, the Novgorodians recognized their citizenship not only to the Grand Duke, but also to his son. The latter meant the hereditary domination of the Grand Duke of Moscow over Veliky Novgorod. Such was the price of defeat at Shelonne.


However, the free spirit of Novgorod has not died yet: the Novgorodians began to take revenge on the pro-Moscow boyars. They rushed to Moscow with complaints. In the fall of 1475, Ivan himself came to Novgorod to consider complaints on the spot, as befits a just sovereign.

Everything further was arranged in such a way as to humiliate the pride of the lord and the mayor: the Grand Duke began to administer the judgment at his discretion. He called the accused the "oppressors" of the common people. The stake on the plebs split the republic from within. And then the feasts began, accompanied by rich offerings from the Novgorodians who tried to appease the Grand Duke.

However, henceforth Ivan III decided to judge the Novgorodians not only himself, but also at home, in Moscow. This was an innovation: until then, it was forbidden to judge a free Novgorod citizen “on Niza”, outside the Novgorod land. The boa constrictor's rings were tightening closer and closer.

Novgorod veche

In 1477, another important symbolic event took place: in Novgorod, they stoned their own envoys, who had been sent earlier to Ivan. It turns out that those, being in Moscow, swore allegiance for the whole of Novgorod to Ivan III not as "lord", but as "sovereign". And for free Novgorodians, such a "slave" oath was considered impossible, humiliating, because the concept of "sovereign" is identical to the concept of "master".

The Grand Duke took the indignation of the Novgorodians and the beating of the ambassadors as a riot. In the fall of 1477, he gathered troops and, already traditionally accusing the Novgorodians of treason to the Orthodox faith, moved west. And again the Muscovites, slowly moving through the Novgorod lands, burned, killed, robbed, raped. When the sovereign reached Ilmen, the submissive Novgorod embassy, ​​headed by the lord, again appeared to him.

But history did not repeat itself. Henceforth, the Grand Duke refused to conduct direct negotiations with the Novgorod mayor and the lord. Through his boyars, Ivan replied that if "he wants to beat Veliky Novgorod with his forehead, then he knows how to beat him with his forehead!" That is, the Novgorodians themselves had to end their freedoms forever.

Destruction of the republic

In early December, Moscow troops closed the blockade ring around the city, dooming the townspeople to starvation. After long disputes at the veche, Vladyka again appeared with ambassadors to Ivan and asked him for forgiveness for disobedience. To this he was told that the Grand Duke wants "such a state in our land of Veliky Novgorod, as we have in Moscow."

At first, the Novgorodians thought that we were talking about an increased tribute. But they were told straightforwardly: “There will be no evening and bells in Novgorod, as there is no such thing in our patrimony; the mayor will not be; what is it for you, give it to us, so that it is ours”. At the same time, Ivan III graciously promised the boyars of the republic not to take the land away from them.

The Veche Bell leaves Novgorod

For six days, the Novgorodians discussed the conditions and decided to sacrifice the symbols of freedom for the sake of preserving the estates. Once again, the embassy appeared before the Muscovites. It expressed its willingness to sign a pact of allegiance with the kissing as an oath of the cross. But then Ivan ordered to convey to the Novgorodians that neither he nor his boyars would kiss the cross, but the Novgorodians must certainly do this.

Meanwhile, famine and pestilence began in Novgorod.And Ivan, having settled down for the winter in Gorodishche - opposite Novgorod, calmly watched the agony of the republic. And at the beginning of January 1478 the Novgorodians surrendered. Soon Ivan III demanded for himself half of the richest sovereign and monastic volosts. Then he demanded the Novgorodians to take the oath. But in fact it was an oath of loyalty to the disenfranchised subjects to the omnipotent sovereign.

And then something began that the Novgorodians did not expect: on February 2, Ivan ordered the arrest of Martha Boretskaya, as well as her grandson, and then they began to seize all the "unreliable", among whom were mainly rich and large landowners. Their property and land were immediately confiscated in favor of the sovereign. That is, the Grand Duke kept his promise “not to intervene in the boyar lands” until these boyars turned out to be “traitors”. The boa constrictor strangled and slowly swallowed its prey.


But the freedom-loving spirit of Veliky Novgorod has not yet faded away. At the end of 1479, the townspeople resumed the veche and elected the mayor. But it was all in vain. Ivan III again laid siege to Novgorod and demanded to surrender without any conditions. And the Novgorodians submitted.

The victorious emperor drove into the city, and were immediately seized from fifty "traitors". They were brutally tortured, demanding to hand over their accomplices, which allowed them to take another hundred people. All those arrested were executed. The Novgorodians froze in horror - they had never had such atrocity. Metropolitan Theophilus was overthrown from his throne, and the innumerable riches of Sophia of Novgorod were taken to Moscow.

Sending Martha Posadnitsa to Moscow

Then merciless deportations began. Thousands of families of merchants and children of the boyars were ordered to be resettled to the Volga region or to the north, and their estates were assigned to the sovereign. The unfortunate were not allowed to take any things or food with them. Together with their children, they were driven like cattle into the bitter frost along the Moscow road.

The defeat of Veliky Novgorod continued in 1484, when Ivan III came to deal with the "women" - the rich and once influential widows of the former boyars and rich townspeople who had been executed and exiled before. Three years later, fifty of the best guests - wealthy merchants - will be evicted from Novgorod to Vladimir. And then a new fierce decree will come - to send “to Niz” another seven thousand families of Novgorodians.

Finally, in 1489, the rest of the Novgorodians - "living people" (that is, the owners of houses) were expelled from their hometown, and on the way numerous complainants against the dominance of Moscow governors were executed - the rest of them were sent to science. So the Lord Veliky Novgorod was destroyed. "Moscow" has come here firmly and forever.

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