In 882, Rurik's
successor, Oleg of Novgorod, captured Kiev and founded the state of Kievan
Rus'. Novgorod's size as well as its political, economic, and cultural
influence made it the second city in Kievan Rus'. According to a custom, the
elder son and heir of the ruling Kievan monarch was sent to rule Novgorod
even as a minor. When the ruling monarch had no such son, Novgorod was
governed by posadniks, such as legendary Gostomysl, Dobrynya, Konstantin, and
sagas the city is mentioned as the capital of Gardariki (i.e., the East
Slavic lands). Four Viking kings - Olaf I of Norway, Olaf II of Norway,
Magnus I of Norway, and Harald Haardraade - sought refuge in Novgorod
from enemies at home. No more than a few decades after the death and
subsequent canonization of Olaf II of Norway, in 1028, the city's community
had erected a church in his memory, Saint Olaf's Church in Novgorod.
their princes, Novgorodians cherished most the memory of Yaroslav the Wise
(1010-1036) who had sat as prince while his father, Vladimir the Great, was
prince in Kiev (978-1015). Yaroslav promulgated the first written code of
laws (later incorporated into Russkaya Pravda) among the Eastern Slavs and is
said to have granted the city a number of freedoms or privileges, which they
often referred to in later centuries as precedents in their relations with
other princes. His son, Vladimir (1036-1052), sponsored construction of the
great St. Sophia Cathedral, more accurately translated as The Cathedral of
Holy Wisdom, which stands to this day.
His Majesty Lord Novgorod the Great
the Novgorodians dismissed their prince Vsevolod Mstislavich.(1117-1136) This
date is considered to be the
traditional beginning of the Novgorod
city was able to invite and dismiss a number of princes over the next two
centuries, but the princely office was never abolished and powerful princes,
such as Alexander Nevsky (1236-‘40/ 1241-’52), could assert their will in the
city irrespective of the Novgorodians’ wishes. The city state controlled most
of Europe's North-East, from today's Estonia to the Ural Mountains, making it
one of the largest states in medieval Europe, although much of the territory
north and east of Lakes Ladoga and Onega were sparsely populated and never
the most important local figures in Novgorod was the Posadnik or mayor, an official elected by the public
assembly (called the Veche) from
among the city's boyarstvo or
aristocracy. The tysyatsky, or
“thousandman,” originally the head of the town militia but later a commercial
and judicial official, was also elected by the veche. The Archbishops of Novgorod were also important local
officials and shared power with the boyars. They were elected by the veche or by the drawing of lots; after
their election, they were sent to the metropolitan for consecration.
While a basic
outline of the various officials and the veche
can be drawn up, the city-state's exact political constitution remains
uncertain. The boyars and the archbishop ruled the city collectively,
although where one officials power ended and another's began is uncertain.
The prince, although reduced in power beginning in about the mid-twelfth
century, was represented by his namestnik
or lieutenant, and still played important roles as a military commander,
legislator, and jurist. The exact composition of the veche, too, is uncertain.
Novgorod was made an administrative centre of the Novgorod Governorate of the
Russian Empire, which was detached from Saint Petersburg Governorate (see Administrative divisions of Russia in
administrative division existed until 1927. Between 1927 and 1944 the city
was a part of Leningrad Oblast, and then became an administrative center of
the newly formed Novgorod Oblast.
World War II, on August 15, 1941, the city was occupied by the German Army.
Its historic monuments were systematically annihilated. In 1998, the city was
officially renamed Veliky Novgorod, thus partly reverting to its medieval
title "Lord Novgorod the Great".
oldest known coat of arms is in a Spanish flag book and shows a white and
yellow castle on a red field. Later symbols are derived from a drawing of a building,
possibly a city gate or a cathedral. In the 16th century, so after the
conquest by Ivan III, two animals were added to the symbol and a fish
appeared underneath. Finally, the symbol was corrupted into a throne held by
two bears with two fish respecrting in the base.
interesting are the seals of the republic from the beginning of the 13th
century. It contains both an eagle and a lion. Possibly the eagles still
refer to the Empire of Kiev in the time that the princes of Galicia still
held the royal title. The lions would then relate to the former principality
of Novgorod and be the emblem of the ruling princes
Russian Vladimir. End of the 12th century.
Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky (1220-1263), Prince of Novgorod, Grand Duke of
Vladimir. Obverse (the prince on a horse with a sword) and the
(St. Theodore Stratilates, slaying the dragon).
of the12th century.
Michael of Novgorod
1224 & 1229
Prince of Cernigov 1224-1242
Prince of Halicz 1235-1238
Prince of Novgorod 1229-1230
Prince of Halicz 1238-1239
Prince of Cernigov
bird on these coins is explicitely called orel’ (Eagle). Probably
these seals date from the (last) personal union of Novgorod and Cernigov:
Seals of Greater Novgorod /Pecat velikogo novgorod
The lions may be from the time of
the personal union with Vladimir 1238-46; 1248-52; 1257-1259 (Alexander
Nevski); 1281-’85 (Andrej)
The arms of Novgorod in the Book of Knowledge
The quote in the Book of Knowledge reads:
This river of
Nu bounds a great province called Siçcia, a very cold country. In this Siçcia
there is a great city, the capital of the kingdom, called Nogarado. The king
has for its device a red flag with a white castle. 
Seal of Stephan Pavlovič (1st
half 15th century).
Stepana ...lo n ... oleksandrov...asn .
Seal of Novgorod. 1426 (v.Winkler):
Seal of Greater Novgorod on a treaty of
1461 between V.K. Tverskim, Boris Alexandrovič and Novgorod.
(V. Winkler): Pecat velikogo novagorod
Peterhof, Hanseatic trading
View of Novgorod, 17th century
Valentin L.: Plany Novgoroda velikogo XVII-XVIII
veka. Moskva, 1999
In the 14th and
15th centuries there was a trading post of the Hanse in Novgrorod called
Peterhof after the church of St. Peter in the city. The settlelement was in a
quarter of the city within a palisade with only one gate to control raids and
thefts of the local population. In 1494 the post was closed by tsar Iwan III.
The coat of arms of
the trading post was:
Arms: Per pale, the dexter Gules, a key (of St. Peter)
per pale Argent, the sinister Or, an eagle Sable (Germany).
From: Bote, Herman: Schichtbuch. Herzog August Bibliohek,
Wolffenbüttel. Cod Gnelf. 1 Gud Lat. fol 69r-70r
16th century seal of Novgorod
On a document,
L.: ПЕЧАТЪ ГОСПОДНИ ВЕЛИКОГО НОВАГОРОДА (Seal of the lord of Greater Novgorod)
Emblem of Novgorod on the seal of Iwan the Terrible
September 1565, Ivan the Terrible "ordered that a new seal to be made
for Veliky Novgorod, to be used by the governor "
emblem of Novgorod was included in the Great Seal of Ivan the Terrible, but
there were two fish in the lower part of the emblem. On the Great Seal of
Ivan IV, the emblem of Novgorod is a throne, on it is a rod or staff, under
it are two fish. On the sides of the tribune are a bear and a lynx (or other
predator). In a circle the inscription: "Seal of the governor of Veliky
Arms of Novgorod on the throne of Michael
Arms of Novgorod on a plate of Alexis Michailovič
From: Titularnik, 1672
supporters two bears instead of a lynx and a bear
The arms of Novgorod Government were adopted 8
The arms of the city of Novgorod were adopted on 16
a throne Or with on its seat a pillow Gules and two scepters in saltire,
rising from its back a candelabrum of three candles burning; and a base
Azure, four fish respecting 2 and 2 Argent.
Soviet era the arms pf the city were restyled thoroughly.
February 1969, the city’s coat of arms was approved, which had a red shield,
gold bears and the number “859” instead of a chair and a five-pointed star
with demi cogwheel in chief all Or, and a base Azure, two fish respecting Or.
1998, the official name of the city is Veliky Novgorod.
in the new Russian Republic the arms of 1969 were replaced by a more
of Veliky Novgorod (approved by the decision of the City Council of 04.23.98
No. 368 as amended by the decisions of the City Council of May 24, 2001 No.
155, dated September 27, 2001 No. 233) states:
"Chapter I. Article 9. Symbols of Veliky
symbols of Veliky Novgorod are the historical emblem and flag. The coat of
arms and flag of Veliky Novgorod are given in Appendix 2 to this Charter and
are its integral part. The procedure for using the coat of arms and flag of
Veliky Novgorod is determined by the City Duma."
official heraldic description of the coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod
(Appendix 2 to the Charter of the city) is as follows:
silver field of the shield are two black bears supporting a golden chair with
a scarlet (red) pillow. A golden scepter, completed with a cross, is placed
crosswise on the right side of the seat, and a golden cross on the left side.
Above the chair is a golden three-candlestick with candles burning with a red
flame. In the azure (blue, blue) outskirts of the shield there are four
silver, one against the other, fish.
time, a stylized fragment of the Novgorod Kremlin was added on the city coat
of arms (probably not approved).
following documents existed:
Decision of the Duma No. 284 "On
approval of the Regulation on the procedure for using the symbols of Veliky
Novgorod" dated December 28, 2001; Decision of the Duma No. 416 "On
introducing amendments to the Regulation on the procedure for using the symbols
of Veliky Novgorod, approved by the decision of the Duma of Veliky Novgorod
of 28.12.2001 N 284" of 16.10.2002. Both of these acts were
repealed in 2006.
decision of the Duma of Veliky Novgorod dated December 21, 2006 (No. 423 "On approval of the
description of the flag of Veliky Novgorod and the Regulation on the use of
official symbols of
Veliky Novgorod")the historical description of the coat of arms of
Novgorod was legalized: "2.1. The coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod is the
historical coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod, the official heraldic description
of which is given in the Decree of Empress Catherine II of August 16,
1781." Thus, for several centuries the fish present in the coat of
arms of Novgorod were declared "illegal". Probably, the thesis
about the primacy of the heraldic description in front of the image was not
completely interpreted by the deputies. In the description of the coat of
arms of 1781 there was really no mention of fish. Perhaps this was just
a technical error, as there were fish in the PSZ picture. There were the
same fish (sometimes four, sometimes two) and in almost all known images of
the Novgorod coat of arms. Thus, the fish were laid in the "coat of
2007, the coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod was added to the State Heraldry
Register of the Russian Federation under No. 3194 .
spring of 2008, members of the Novgorod society of lovers of antiquity turned
to the City Council of Veliky Novgorod "with a convincing request to
return to the issue of approval and registration in the State Heraldic
Register of the coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod." In particular, it
was proposed to return the image of fish to the coat of arms. The
Novgorod coat of arms was traditionally portrayed with fish. But this
argument probably seemed not enough, so additional ones were added - like
"the fish as a symbol carry the encrypted monogram of Christ, thereby
turning us to the history of the oldest Russian Orthodox diocese in
of arms with the base azure with four fish Argent was approved by the
decision of the Duma of Veliky Novgorod dated 29 November, 2010 No. 850
“On amending the decision of the Duma of Veliky Novgorod dated 21.12.2006 No.
432“ On approval of the description of the flag of Veliky Novgorod and the Regulation on the
Procedure use of official symbols of Veliky Novgorod "
by the Duma of Veliky Novgorod on 24 November 2010) and entered in the State
Heraldry Register of the Russian Federation under No. 6682.
of the coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod
silver field a base azure, encumbered by two pairs of coiled silver fish, one
above the other, supported by two black bears on the sides, a golden chair
with a red pillow and a back crowned with a gold candlestick about three
silver candles burning with scarlet flames; on the pillow put crossed gold
crowned with a cross scepter and cross. ";
to V. Markov, citing materials from the site of the Novgorod Administration
2011, the adjusted coat of arms of Veliky Novgorod was added to the State
Heraldry Register of the Russian Federation under No. 6682.
© Hubert de Vries 2019-09-26
of the Knowledge of all the kingdoms, lands, and lordships that
are in the world. (ca 1350) Works issued by the Hakluyt Society. 2nd series N°
XXIX. 1912. P. 60, fig 91.