Pistsovye Knigi

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pistsovye Knigi


systematic compendiums of documents on economic matters prepared in Russia during the 15th through 17th centuries.

The earliest surviving pistsovye knigi are from Novgorod and date from the end of the 15th century. The last such economic description was undertaken in 1684–85 but was not completed. The pistsovye knigi served as the basis for assigning land taxes through soshnye pis’ma (census documents that assessed arable land). Gradually they became a means of strengthening feudal landownership and enserfing the peasants. The pistsovye knigi begun in 1581 and completed in 1592–93 became the basic document for determining the lord’s proprietary rights over individual peasants.

The pistsovye knigi were compiled by special commissions consisting of pistsy (revenue agents) and pod’iachie (revenue clerks) sent out by the central government in Moscow. They often began with an exposition of the ukase on compilation of the tax documents and the instructions given to the pistsy. Pistsovye knigi were compiled for populated areas. Cities were described in terms of their fortifications, churches, shops, number of households, and population. Districts (uezdy) and their constituent administrative units (stany and volosti) were distinguished, and each village and town was described separately. The pistsovye knigi gave detailed descriptions of plowlands, hayfields, and forests. They concluded with summaries of all data. The pistsovye knigi are a most valuable source for Russian socioeconomic history of the 15th through 17th centuries.


Veselovskii, S. B. Soshnoe pis’mo, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1915–16.
Merzon, A. Ts. Pistsovye i perepisnye knigi XV-XVII vv. Moscow, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(71) Novgorodskie pistsovye knigi, 5: Knigi Shdonskoi piatiny.
(50.) The records of Nikita Vasil'evich Borisov and Dmitrii Andreevich Kikin, written between 1565 and 1568, described Kazan's Spaso-Preobrazhenskii Monastery's courtyard with numerous secular and ecclesiastical merchants: Materialy po istorii Tatarskoi ASSR: Pistsovye knigi goroda Kazani 1565-68 gg.
The actual ascription of the Semenov Monastery to the Borisoglebskii Monastery at the request of both Feodosii and Arsenii seems to have happened in 1659, according to a document from the Monastic Chancellery (Monastyrskii prikaz) from May 1665 that is cited in the cadastral books (pistsovye knigi) of Torzhok.
It is striking that concepts and terms previously reserved for Russian institutions--obshchina (commune),> pistsovye knigi (land registries), (40) barshchina (corvee), (41) otkhozhie promysly (seasonal labor), (42) pozemel'nyi and podushnyi nalog (land and capitation tax), (43) and others--were hereafter applied indifferently to other contexts, such as the Roman and Byzantine empires and Western medieval or non-European societies.
Liudmila Danilova's study of the pistsovye knigi (the land cadastres compiled for the grand princes, reporting on the economic capabilities of their newly acquired Novgorodian lands) helps explain why Feofil may have had a say in how the cavalry was used.
The Pistsovye knigi were compiled only after the Muscovite conquest and do not cover all the Novgorodian land but are one of the only sources available.