The dictionary of Russian History terms and concepts

This dictionary was created as an answer to the Sweden colleagues' request - to help them in their creating a general commentary to the Russian documents of Novgorod City Office of 1611-1617. This determinate the nomenclature of the dictionary. I hope it could be useful also to colleagues studying neighbor districts and epochs

Administrative and territorial division

Moscow governors tried to make reforms in the territorial system of Novgorod Land during all the 16th c. In Late 15 c. the system of pyatinas were created: the most of Novgorod Land was divided in 5 parts:

In the same tame the system of uezds (districts) was created. The uezds – settlement territories (a number of pogosts) that belonged to a town (fortress).

There were uezds of Novgorod (the largests), Ladoga, Jama, Kopor’e, Korela, Oreshek, Ivangorod.. Sometimes also the uezds of Kursk and Demon are mentioned (in the southern part of Derevskaja pyatina) but up to the end of 16th c. the mentions of them are very rare.

The other name of uezd – prisud (court district) because in the early 16th c. the towns (fortresses) became the centers of court districts. To the end of 16th c. this subject lost its mean and prisud became only a synonym of uezd.

In mid-16th c. after the plotting of the Guba elders institute the division of pyatinas into polovinas (halfs) was created.

Sometimes in 16th c. we can read about the division of some pyatinas into stans (Zaretskij and Orehivsky stan in Vodskaya pyatina, Kostovskij and Borovitskij stan in Bezhetskaja pyatina). It corresponds with the gradualness of Guba reform plotting and permanent experiments of Moscow state on the territorial division in Novgorod land; in this context stan is the residence of guba elder and a number of pogosts that belong to the guba district.

Court (Dvortsovaja) volost'

Since early 16th c. – the settlement areas that were the private property of Tzar. The rent from dvortsovye volosty comes to the private Tzar’s economy. The name of the volostes came from the central office – Dvorets (Palace) or Bolshoj Dvorets (Great Palace) that took the rent from the volosts.


Small fortification, small fortress

Voevoda’s Office

Central Organ of Uezd and Town governing, voevoda’s residence.


Bureaucrat, official, clerk. For the service in Chancelleries received money payment. In the Time of Troubles in conditions of cash money shortage the money payment could be substitute for land estates ( at a rate of 1 ruble=10 chetverts)

Different categories of peasants

Dvortsovye (Palace) peasants – peasants lived in Dovortsovaya volost\ who paid money and other payments to Crown Estates Economy Chancellery (originally – for Tzar’s privete economy, then, in Novgorod 1611-1617 – to support governments’ expenses in general).

Mitropolich’i (= Sophijskie) peasants – peasants lived in Metropolitan’s lands who paid money and other payments to Novgorod Metropolitan (= The St.Sophia’s House / Court)

Monastyrskie peasants – peasants lived in monastery’s lands or Novgorod monastery’s either countryside ones. They paid money and other payments to the landowners.

Pomeshchichji peasants – peasants who lived in local estates of gentry. Their duty was to support the gentleman – the warrior/soldier or, rarely, the Chancellery clerk.

Gentry and estates

The servant men from/for their birth – Gentry, Dvoryanstvo (from Dvor, Tzar’s Dvor = Court), dety boyarskie (= boyar’s children, the descendants of Moscow Great Prince’s boyars and servants). After the 15 years the were to pass through a procedure of verstanie – to report for review and to be appointed to a state service receiving the land scale (pomestnyj oklad) – a virtual number of chetverts, which since that time the gentleman could pretend on. By the order of Tzar or the Governor the gentleman was to come to the ordered place “with horse, people and arms (sometimes – also in nice dress)”. In the course of the carrier the scale could grow. But the gentleman was to search the no man’s (escheated or confiscated by State) land estate by himself; only after he find such estate he could make a request (bit’ chelom) for it. In the Time of Troubles the escheated estates were made equal with the traitors’ estates. In the case of not coming to state service the estate was confiscated by state , totally or in half. If the gentleman perished his wife and children had a right for an estate that gave a possibility of livelihood and, for the sons, since the age of 15 to begin their own state service. The childless widow and daughter also had a right for small estate until she die or get married again or take the veil (to take the veil she had to give some money to a nunnery). If a widow or gentleman’s daughter received a large estate she had to forward a number (datochnye=given) people to state service - to send her slave or to engage a volunteer who could go on state war service (rarely – to state workshops) instead of her husband or brother.

Service men from the recruitment – streltsy, cossacks, artillerists, datochnye ljudi. They were recruited from the town people (rarely – from peasants) and “any people” – tramps, vagrants, etc. They received money and bread payment for their service, as a rule – remarkably smaller than the equivalent land estate of a gentleman of 1st year of service. As a rule, they served in garrisons and in auxiliary troops – transports, guards, etc.

Belyj Dvor (White Yard)

Yard free of rent. As a rule – property of serviceman, bureaucrat, clergy


Court range in Moscow State. Appointed from stolniks. Formally his duty was to look after the Tzar’s drink and also bee-keeping etc. Buturlin had only a formal title of cashnik been appointed by Vassilij Shujskij.

Chetvertnaja pomestnaja poshlina

Rent that the person received the estate had to pay to the State. In Novgorod – 2,5 den’ga (0,0125 rubles) for 1 chet’ of land.


Person elected from 10 yards

Dvorovoj prikazchik

The servant of the yard


Weight measure 410,5 г., 96 золотников

Kabatskoj djachek

Scribe keeping the kaback account books.

Kljuchnichji rashodnye knigi

The credit books of the Chancellery of Corn distribution keeping by zhitnichnyj kluchnik

Kormovoj sborschik

Serviceman sent to the countryside for taking meals, forager

Lutchie krest'ane (the best peasants)

Village elite, the most solvent and long living in the concrete pace peasants.

Luki Vielikie

Town and fortress on Lovat’, some 300 km from Novgorod

Poslushnaja gramota

A deed given to a serviceman confirming his rights on the estate and addressed to the peasants including the direction of obedience to the serviceman


Moscow Court and Council range, one range lower than bojarin. Okolnichij usually took part in the Moscow State Councils – Bojarskaja Duma

Okol'nichij voevoda

Okolnichij appointed to be the governor


Gentleman (rarely bureaucrat) appointed to give the estate to serviceman. He had to assign the concrete parts of arable (and other) land that had to be included in the newly creating estate

Pyatennye poshliny

Rent paid for awarding the sign of property (“pyatno”). The “pyatno” could belong to the State/Crown or to the local state institution (jam or Court). There were also private “pyatno”s – the registered mark, stamp confirmed the property (of cattle, horse or land)

Platezhnye knigi

Books created for taking rent from a territory. As a rule they were created on the basis of pistsovaja or dozornaja book. Included a list of estates with marking the sum of rent.

Pogrebnyj prikazchik

The bureaucrat appointed to be in charge of State wine–cellar (the state strategic reserve of alcohol)

Povytno po chetvertyam

(Distribution) the parts (chetverts) of land (as a rule, even distribution of inhabited and vast lands) between estates.


Serviceman appointed to be on charge of threshing


Robber, brigand.


The Strellets or Cossack officer, commander of a hundred. As a rule sotnik was appointed from gentlemen. Had a right for land estate. For gentleman – such service – a loss of face.


State deed as a rule of general character including imperative of execution


Instruction on concrete procedure of execution


A deed including concrete order or direction


Liquid measure. 12 or 16 kruzhkas (caps) about 12 or 16 liters


Vernye celovalniki

= Celovalniki, sworn empowered by community

Vvoznaja gramota

Deed from the Court of Estates confirming the right for taking an estate for the presentation to state officials (scribes, land-searchers etc.)


Weight measure (4,266 g)

Udelnyj knjaz'

Traditionally – one of the successors (not the Crown Prince) of great prince / Tzar who succeeded an autonomous Principality. The last Udelnyj knjaz in Russian history was Dmitrey of Uglich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible perished in 1591. Here - the Russian equivalent to the European Prince of Blood


The Country estate, the gentleman’s yard in the estate.

Dozornye knigi

Books of Land Cadaster created in the cases of changing in inhabitance and accordingly of solvency of a territory




Robbers in the countryside (with some political meaning)

Litovskie ljudi

Formally – the soldiers of Polish-Lithuanian State, in the same time such can be named also any soldiers from Poland, Lithuania, White Russia, ettc.


Non-agricultural or landless peasant

Bojarskie deti

The lower Muscovite gentry

Bol'shoj prihod

Debit Chancellery

Chet', chetvert'

Amount of Land (0, 545 ha) or dry substances (210 liters)

Dachnye knigi

Record Books of actual land estate

Desjatnja verstal'naja

List of gentry (usually for one district or pytaina) marking the amount of their virtual assessment (first land assessment, then land and money) regularly making by bojarin or governor.


1) church sacristan, reader; 2) Scribe, the lowest chancellery or community clerk


The highest chancellery range, head of the Chancellery

Dvortsovyj prikaz

The Crown Estates Economy Chancellery


Town and fortress commandant


Privileged merchant

Gubnoj starosta

Elder of Guba elected from and by local gentry (rarely – appointed by the governor) with civil judicial and police power Guba – local district of civil judicial and police organization (mainly = district or, in Novgorod land, half of pyatina)

Jamskaja sloboda

A part of town or local settlement inhabited with coachmen


1) The steward., a serf; 2) traditionally, the steward of Chancellery of Corn distribution (serviceman).


State clerk, police officer, officer of a court.


Gentleman not been on actual state service (or without any experience of the service)


Newly baptized, newly Orthodox (former Muslin or, rarely, Catholic)


Person newly came to the town (state)


Land measuring unit (before mid-16th c. – local peasant allotment; since mid-16th c. – 10 chetvert’ of good land, about 5,45 ha)

Obrochnye den'gi

Rent for land using or hay-making

Obysknye knigi

Record books created as the result of a search.

Obysknye rechi

The texts of a examination of local people while searching


Half of a chet’

Otdelnaja gramota

Official document on giving an estate

Perevodnaja gramota

Official document on transmission of a debt (especially – debt on state payments)

Pistsovye knigi

Books of Land Cadastres in 16-17 cc. Muscovy State. Since mid-16 th – had an official status

Pjatikonetskij starosta

An elected elder of town inhabitants of Novgorod 5 corners (parts)


Region, one fifth part of Novgorod Land. Hold by Moscow State in 1480s.

Pomestnyj prikaz

Chancellery of Estates, regulated the giving and taking process.

Pososhnye ljudi

Elected by local community or appointed by a landowner workers for state works each from one soha (land measure)

Posylochnyj pod'jachij

The lower clerk, courier


Bailiff of an private or state estate


Clerk of every range


The sign of official state or communal functionary assuring the document

Pripravochnye knigi

The supplying books of land cadastr created for amplification the land recording; as a rule for the creation of new pistsovye knigi.


1) police supervisor; 2) officer of a court


Land unit, object of an economic significance, former settlement, vast land


Trade-handicraft or fishing settlement (not a town)


Chancellery of State Service

Sbavochnye uchastki

The parts of land made free of rent (temporary, as a rule)

S'ezzhaja izba

The Office of a Community with some police functions.


= pripis’ made on the place where documents’ lists were pasting together


1) residence of guba elder or local community; 2) administrative unit; 3) temporary war camp


Elected (rarely – appointed) elder of a comminity


The Court range in 16-17th cc. Muscovy, Chevalier de la Chambre


1) the lowest Court range in 17th c. Muscovy; 2) servant, bailiff

Sudnaja izba

Court Office


Assistant, substitute


1) One third part; 2) administrative unit, part of pogost, volost’


District in Moscow State with the center in a town


1) Large land estate; 2) countryside local administrative unit, a part of uezd

Volostnoj starosta

Elected elder of volost’


State criminals


The hereditary land estate


State official parting a number of property (usually corn) to the state


1) Land unit, a yard-holding; 2) any land estate; 3) a private part, portion

Zakosnye knigi

Record books of hay-making

Zemskaja izba

Communal office in small and big towns

Zemskoj celovalnik

Elected sworn from peasants or town inhabitants

Zemskoj djachek

Communal clerk (as a rule in countryside)

Zhalovannaja gramota

State document certifying privileges or estates

Zhitnichnyj prikaz

Ведомство распределения хлеба

Chancellery of Corn distribution

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