Posolskii Prikaz

Posol’skii Prikaz


(Foreign Office), one of the central administrative offices in Russia from the mid-16th to the early 18th century. It supervised and carried out the work of dealing with foreign governments.

The Posol’skii Prikaz was founded early in 1549, when ambassadorial duties were delegated to I. M. Viskovatyi. Its chief functions included sending Russian embassies abroad, receiving foreign embassies, composing treaties and instructions to Russian envoys, carrying out negotiations, and, beginning in the 18th century, appointing and supervising the permanent Russian diplomatic representatives abroad.

The Posol’skii Prikaz dealt with foreign merchants during their stay in Russia. It also ransomed and exchanged Russian prisoners and administered a number of territories in southeastern Russia, as well as the Don Cossacks and Tatar service landowners in the country’s central districts. In the second half of the 17th century, the Posol’skii Prikaz administered the Little Russian office and the prikazy of Smolensk and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 17th century the administrators of the Posol’skii Prikaz usually ran the affairs of Novgorod, Vladimir, and Galich chetverti (districts) as well. The office was in charge of the state seals, which were affixed to diplomatic and internal official documents; it also administered the state archives, which contained important documents dealing with foreign policy and internal affairs. A number of official historical and political works were issued by the Posol’skii Prikaz in the 17th century.

The staff of the Posol’skii Prikaz included two to six chief administrators; d’iaki and pod’iachie (officials); translators; and illuminators. The office was divided into departments responsible for different territories. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Posol’skii Prikaz was headed by such outstanding Russian diplomats as Viskovatyi, A. la. Shchelkalov, V. Ia. Shchelkalov, A. I. Ivanov, A. L. Ordin-Nashchokin, A. S. Matveev, and V. V. Golitsyn. The office’s importance gradually declined after the establishment, in the early 18th century, of the Foreign Chancery, which was at first an itinerant administration and later became permanently located in St. Petersburg. The Posol’skii Prikaz was abolished in 1720 and was replaced by the Collegium of Foreign Affairs.


Belokurov, S. A. O posol’skom prikaze. Moscow, 1906.
Leont’ev, A. K. Obrazovanie prikaznoi sistemy upravleniia ν Russkom gosudarstve. Moscow, 1961.