The Novgorod Republic emerged out of the disarray of Kievan Rus’, early in the twelfth century, but this trading city’s commerce-driven economy fostered an independence of mind and aversion to autocracy that led to a novel form of a feudal republic.
Its “veche”, or an assembly of all free males, selected a prince to govern Novgorod, and similar bodies met in smaller cities of the republic to choose their local executives.
The city that gave its name to the Novgorod Republic is one of the oldest urban settlements in the Slavic realm. Its strategic location on the Volkhov River made it an important link on a trade route that connected Scandinavia to the riches of the Byzantine Empire to the south. As Kiev emerged as the center of power in the region, Novgorod often took sides and at times harbored princes from the Kievan Rus’ Rurikid line during periods of dynastic crisis.
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