Economic Survival in the Novgorod Lands in the 1580s
In the early 1580s north-western Russia was a scene of devastation. As the Livonian War (1558–82) came to an end, Muscovite scribes conducted surveys of the Novgorod lands, a task which had not been undertaken for almost twenty years. Their observations, compiled in cadastres or pistsovye knigi, reflect the cumulative effects of a series of catastrophic events, resulting in famine and disease, fire and flight. Some of those events had been experienced long before Muscovy’s armies began their attempt to conquer Livonia; others were direct consequences of the long, drawn-out, unsuccessful war that followed. The net effect, however, was a disaster. Entry after entry in the pistsovye knigi describes porozzhie zemli or abandoned estates that had reverted to the state’s land pool. Vast stretches of previously cultivated fields lay fallow. Some had been in this state for so long they were overgrown with brush or even forests. Whole villages sat empty; in some cases only the charred remains of peasant huts and outbuildings survived.
KeywordsEconomic Crisis Europe Transportation Income Assimilation
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- 1.The Novgorodian economic crisis has been discussed in scholarly literature ranging from early works, such as N. A. Ianitskii’s Ekonomicheskii krizis v Novgorodskoi oblasti XVI v. (Kiev, 1915), to the more recent product ofGoogle Scholar
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