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Novgorod was first mentioned in The Tale of Bygone Years and dates back to the year 859. However, the first settlements in this place emerged in Neolithic times - in III-IV millennia BC.

The Tale of Sloven and Rus assumes that the city appeared in 2395 BC. That means, it is possible that Novgorod is already older than 5000 years! However, historians have not arrived at a common view on the exact date of the foundation of Novgorod.

Therefore, the official date is conventionally considered the year 859.

According to the legend, when Novgorod was besieged by the troops of Suzdal residents, the Archbishop Iliya took an icon of Our Lady of the Sign and put it on the fortress wall so that is faced the attackers. One of the arrows of the attackers hit the icon, and a miracle happened - the icon turned its face away from the attackers and a tear came out of its eye. At the same moment all the residents of Suzdal became blind, and the city defenders defeated the enemy. Now you can see the trace of that arrow under the left eye on the icon of the Mother of God.

The miraculous icon is now located in St. Sophia Cathedral. Many all-Russian saints originated from this city, but there are also some local ones. For example, Nikolai Kochanov. There were two fools in the city in the fourteenth century Fyodor from the Trade side and Nikolai from the Sophia Side. They came together in the middle of the city, on the bridge, and parodied Novgorod residents, portraying the way swear, trade, fight with each other indulge in sins.

Nikolai got his nickname when he threw a cabbage (kochan in Russian) to Fyodor in the course of their performance. The official legend claimed that at that time he went by the water of Volkhov like by land. The cases of miraculous healing happened at the grave of the blessed man, and people built a cathedral of St. Panteleimon on it. The relics of the holy fool were kept in this cathedral, and people called it Nikolo-Kochanovskaya Church.

Novgorod - the Oldest Russian Center of Christianity

Novgorod played an important role in converting the Northwestern and Northern lands to Christianity. The contribution of the Novgorodian higher clergy in protecting and promoting Christianity in Russia was rewarded by their appointment to an archbishopric (12th century). A tight circle of monasteries was gradually formed around Novgorod, their monks often holding high positions in other parishes of Rus. In the 15th century the power of the higher Novgorodian clergy grew even stronger, penetrating into practically all aspects of the city's life. At that time the Archbishop was virtually the head of the boyar oligarchic republic. Novgorod of those days resembled the Vatican, where secular power is completely subordinate to religious power. But here the resemblance stops. Unlike the Vatican, the Novgorodian archbishops had under their control a vast territory equal to the combined territories of modern France, Belgium and Holland, or to the territory of the state of Texas. Only the victory of Moscow and Novgorod's joining the centralized state put an end to this extraordinary republic. Novgorod - the Cradle of Russian democracy

In the days of Yaroslav the Wise (978-1054), descendants of those tribal leaders who had settled in Novgorod long ago received special rights and tax benefits; at the end of the 11th century they were granted even the right to autonomy. The fact that the posadnik (city mayor) was not appointed but elected from the ranks of boyars contributed to the further development of republican traditions. In 1136 citizens of Novgorod for the first time implemented the principle of "free election of princes. In this case the veche, a mass assembly of Novgorod citizens, dismissed Prince Vsevolod Mstislavovitch and ran him out of town. The city was dominated by numerous parties and groups, which were incessantly battling between each other to elect "their" princes.

In 1169 Great Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky from the city of Vladimir made an attempt to restore Novgorod to its old traditions but failed. According to legend, one of the reasons for the destruction and capture of his troops was the holy icon "Virgin Oranta", which after that became the city's sacred relic. Republican rule was solidified by the 14th century. By that time power had been seized by a few boyar families and was controlled by the veche. After the reform of 1416 - 1423 a new body of boyar power - the Masters' Council (Sovet Gospod) was established and Novgorod was renamed Great Novgorod. Historians often compare its political system to that of Venice, where the Dodge Council controlled all aspects of the city's life. The Novgorod oligarchic republic, which stood in the way of the formation of a unified Russian state with Moscow as its center suffered a resounding defeat in 1471.




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