Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota


a legal code compiled in the Novgorod feudal republic in the 15th century. It has survived in a single copy (1471 version without its last section) as part of a manuscript collection from about 1475. The legal sources of the Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota were articles from the Russkaia Pravda and from later local Novgorod laws. Some of the norms in the Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota resemble those of the Pskov Sudnaia Gramota and the legal practices of northeastern Rus’. M. F. Vladimirskii-Budanov subdivided the Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota into 42 articles. Various sections of the code date from different periods.

The code deals with judicial organization and procedure in Great Novgorod. It defines the jurisdiction of the courts of the archbishop, posadnik (chief administrative official), tysiatskii (second highest official), and the grand prince’s vicegerent and tiun (agent). The code also fixes the amount of various court fees and describes different kinds of legal cases. Special attention is given to litigation over land. In addition to the interests of the ruling class of Novgorod (the boyars, zhit’i liudi, and other groups), the Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota also reflects Ivan Ill’s policy of limiting the Novgorod boyars’ arbitrary acts and strengthening the grand prince’s power—for example, a 50 ruble fine was prescribed for boyars who slandered judges. The Novgorod Sudnaia Gramota was one of the sources of the Belozersk Ustavnaia Gramota of 1488 and the Sudebnik of 1497.


Pamiatniki russkogo prava, fasc. 2. Moscow, 1953.
Cherepnin, L. V. Russkie feodal’nye arkhivy XIV–XV vv., part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.