Guba Reform

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guba Reform


reform of local administration in the Russian state in the 16th century. The reform was evoked by a sharpening of the class struggle. Under the guba reform, affairs involving known “evil men” (robbers and thieves) were taken from the courts vicegerents and chiefs of volosts (small rural districts) and put under the control of elected chiefs (guba elders), who were chosen from the local gentry and deti boiarskie (second-rank nobility). To help the elders, tseloval’niki (sworn assistants) were chosen from among the “best” well-to-do peasantry to carry out judicial and police functions. The reform gave the ruling class a broad range of possibilities to use the guba administrative agencies in the struggle against antifeudal revolts of peasants and kholopy (male’ slaves).

The earliest guba charters date to 1539. At this time the Razboinyi prikaz (Justice Office) was established in Moscow to supervise the work of the guba organs. In the early 1540’s the guba reform was implemented in the majority of localities of the Russian state, and it was completed by the government of Ivan IV in 1555–56.

The guba institutions underwent the greatest development in the second half of the 16th century. As a result of Ivan IV’s reform of local government, which abolished the kormlenie system, the guba institutions became the chief agencies of district administration. They were responsible for the compilation of kabal’nye knigi (records of servitude), almost all criminal affairs, preservation of order in the district, and other police functions. In Moscow in 1555–56 the first statutory code of the Razboinyi prikaz was drawn up. In the 17th century the guba elders were close aides of the voevody (military governors).


Nosov, N. E. Ocherki po istorii mestnogo upravleniia Russkogo gosudarstva pervoi poloviny XVI v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Kashtanov, S. M. “K probleme mestnogo upravleniia v Rossii pervoie poloviny XVI v.” Istoriia SSSR, no. 6, 1959.
Zimin, A. A. Reformy Ivana Groznogo. Moscow, 1960.
Leont’ev, A. K. Obrazovanie prikaznoi sistemy upravleniia v Rus-skom gosudarstve. Moscow, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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