(Hundreds of the Posady, that is, of the artisans’ quarters of the cities), medieval associations of merchant-artisans in Russian feudal cities from the 11th to 18th centuries.
A posadskaia sotnia usually consisted of artisans who were engaged in the same kind of work and who lived in the same or adjoining neighborhoods. Such artisans enjoyed the right of self-rule and the right to meet in assembly and elect their own leader (sotnik or sotskii) and clerk (sotennyi d’iachok). From the 11th to 15th centuries, posadskie sotni were fiscal and military institutions of the taxable populace, serving as agencies for the payment of state taxes and yielding up recruits in time of war. The urban populace relied on the posadskie sotni to defend its rights against princely authority and the urban aristocracy.
In Novgorod, in the 12th and 13th centuries, the posadskie sotni played a considerable political role; subsequently, however, the city’s aristocracy, through division of the city into districts (kontsy). reduced their significance. In Moscow, posadskie sotni apparently emerged in the first half of the 14th century. From the late 15th century, with the formation of a unified Russian state and with the enhanced authority of the grand princes and, later, of the tsars, they gradually evolved into units of territorial administration, joining together the taxable populace in collective responsibility for tax payments and obligations. The government left the posadskie sotni their powers of self-rule but subordinated them to the central administrative apparatus. Seventeenth-century Moscow had no fewer than 25 sotni and even more small sotnia associations of 50 members (polusotni) and 25 members (chetvert sotni). In the 16th and 17th centuries, division of the urban populace into posadskie sotni also persisted in Pskov and other cities. The posadskie sotni gradually lost their territorial and professional attributes and evolved into purely fiscal institutions; in the 18th century, they ceased to be of importance.