The historical significance of Velikiy Novgorod
Velikiy Novgorod — one of the most ancient cities of Russia located in its North-West, near the site where the Volkhov river takes its waters from Lake Ilmen, emerged as a political center of Slavic and Fino-Ugric tribes in the mid-9th century, while as a town it was formed in the middle of the 10th century.
The history of Novgorod is closely linked with all major stages in the life of Russian state. In the times, when the statehood of Rus was just in the making, the Novgorodians invited Scandinavian prince Rurik to keep law and order, thus giving birth to the prince Rurik dynasty that ruled over all Russian lands throughout more than 750 years.
In the early 10th century, war campaigns of the Novgorodians against Constantinopol to secure equal trade with Bizantine resulted in the integration of East Slavic tribes into the ancient Kievan Russian state.
The adoption of Christianity at the close of the tenth century turned Novgorod into a powerful ecclesiastical center. The efforts of Novgorod Bishops in spreading and promoting the Orthodoxy were given high credit in the mid-12th century when they were elevated to the ranks of Archbishops which made the Bishops Chair of Novgorod most powerful in the Russian Orthodoxy.
The right of Novgorod to select its own princes, that was granted in the middle of the twelfth century, attracted princes to the Novgorod throne, and that provided favorable conditions to maintain the unity of Russian lands tending to be feudally divided, while the annexation of Novgorod republic to Moscow Principality at the end of the 15th century resulted in the united Russian State with Moscow as a capital.
Throughout many centuries, Novgorod was a political center of vast territories stretching up from Baltic lands and Finland in the West to northern Urals in the East. It was also one of the greatest international trade centers on theBaltic-Volga commercial route that tied northern Europe with Asia as early as in the mid - 8th century.
Novgorod is the cradle of Russian republican and democratic traditions. In the course of over 600 years, up till 1478, all vital decisions on its life and foreign policy were taken by the "veche" - ancient parliament comprising the representatives of the town aristocratic. families. At crucial times of Novgorod history, all people took part in the veche.
The republic's special political structure, spiritual freedom and territorial independence were highly favorable to evolve culture and art.
Novgorod was one of Russia's major centers of literacy and book production. As far back as in the 30-s of the 11th century, by the will of the great Prince Yaroslav The Wise, Novgorod saw the first school to train three hundred children at a time.
Medieval Novgorod was one of the greatest art centers of Europe. Its architectural traditions, school of icon-painting, jeweler's and decorative applied art became famous all over the world.