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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(vicegerent), (1) In ancient Rus’, an official who, together with the volost’ official, headed the local administration. He was the chief magistrate and supervised tax collection. Introduced in the 12th century, the office of namestnik was firmly established by the 14th century, when namestniks were appointed to administer cities by the grand and appanage princes. In return for their services they received no salary but were maintained by the local population under the kormlenie system. They had at their disposal administrative functionaries and military detachments for local defense and the suppression of antifeudal uprisings. From the early 16th century, the power of namestniks was limited, and in 1555–56 the office was replaced by elected institutions as a result of the guba reform and the land reform of Ivan IV.

(2) From the late 18th century until the 20th century, the chief local administrator. The office was introduced in 1775 in order to further centralize power. The namestnik, or governor general, headed the administration of two or three provinces, which constituted a namestnichestvo (vicegerency). The namestniks were appointed from among the higher officials and were given extraordinary powers and the authority to supervise the entire local bureaucracy and court system. They were accountable only to Catherine II. The namestniks controlled troops posted in the namestnichestvo. In 1796, Paul I abolished the office, but in the 19th and 20th centuries it was revived in the Kingdom of Poland (1815–74) and in the Caucasus (1844–83, 1905–17).


Nosov, N. E. Ocherki po istorii mestnogo upravleniia Russkogo gosuadrstva pervoi poloviny XVI v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Eroshkin, N. P. Istoriia gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.


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