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Pre-revolutionary Russian historiography of city self-government of Belarus in the 14-18th centuries.

UDK 930.2 (470): 94(476)" 13/17"

Sergey Petrovich Strenkovsky

candidate of historical sciences, professor of department of management, vice rector for educational and methodical work of the Minsk city institute of development of education

(Republic of Belarus)



In article the author considered the main works of the Russian historians of XIX - the beginning of the 20th century which are grouped in social and political currents (conservative, liberal) and to schools (historical and legal). Article gives rather complete idea of views of the Russian historiography of city self-government of Belarus. Valid conclusions are drawn on a contribution of pre-revolutionary Russian historians to studying this problem, certain shortcomings of the Russian historiography, first of all negative assessment of the Magdebourg right are noted.

Because the cities take the important place in the system of feudal society, feudal relations of production, in historical literature a lot of attention was paid to them. As self-government is the integral party of city life, historians also did not leave it out of the field of the sight.

In Russia the studying history of the Belarusian cities of times of Grand Duchy of Lithuania (further - VKL) and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (further - IS) began right after sections of the last. However works of the first half of H1H of century differed in generally descriptive and ethnographic character. In the second half of XIX - the beginning of the 20th century much attention, in connection with the general interest in studying the past of the Belarusian and Ukrainian lands for the purpose of justification of legality of their entry into structure of the Russian Empire is paid to a research of history of city settlements at the time of VKL and IS.

The representative of the conservative direction of the Russian historiography F.P. Elenev considered the German right to absolutely alien national representations, local laws, claimed that it put petty bourgeoises "in hostile position to other estates and kind of beyond laws of the country". According to him, it was given on a sample of the Polish cities where it was brought by Germans who in turn made urban population of Poland [1, page 17].

From conservative positions M.O. Koyalovich and I.D. Belyaev who, adhering to theories of overseas influence, the Russian monarchism and Orthodoxy, in the works speak about negative influence of the western neighbors of VKL, transformation of petty bourgeoises into lackeys polonizirovanny tops [2 also proceeded; 3]. These historians substituted process of historical development for change of its external forms. M.O. Koyalovich claimed that in the cities of VKL the local element had a great opportunity for development, than in Polish which were subject to strong influx of foreigners. A small amount of Germans and Jews in the cities of VKL, lack of the reasons which would promote the settlement in the cities of foreigners and to oppression of local community, lack of the Polish shlyakhetsky theory in Lithuania, according to M.O. Koyalovich preserved in the Lithuanian cities patriarchal character of life and force of "native urban population" [2, page 212]. The Magdebourg right, according to M.O. Koyalovich, left management in hands of citizens and "concentrated in a town hall where sat a bailiff, lavnik". However "the national nature of the cities Lithuanian" did not change, in them "the Russian population" prevailed [2, page 213]. At the same time M.O. Koyalovich noted what granted the Magdebourg right to "the Russian people" power as gave them "the chance to unite the forces and to work at the same time" [2, page 263].

The head of the Kiev historical school

was one of the first representatives of the liberal Russian historiography whom the historical way of the cities of VKL and IS interested

M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov. He considered that the Belarusian cities were guided by the general principles of the internal device of Vilna, Trok, Brest. As the representative of istorikopravovy school M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov assigned the defining part in development of society to laws and mistakenly claimed that feudalism got to VKL by loan of the German right. According to its judgments, introduction of the Magdebourg right "entered class discord, belittled the nation-wide rights of city estate" [4, page 300, 302]. In the Magdebourg right he saw "the reason of decline and poverty of the cities" [4, page 302]. M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov allocated three steps in development of city self-government: 1) "Voight's power does not belong to city community"; 2) "the city community acquires Voight's power and copes closed glad"; 3) "the power are glad it is limited to representative institutions of community" [4, page 1 56]. Entering concepts of the full and incomplete Magdebourg authority, M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov wrote what full created "a reliable support in representative institutions" for self-government. He declared domination of overseas sources of law in city courts [5]. However M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov's position about legal isolation of the cities does not correspond to their real situation. The historian also noted that though privileges on the Magdebourg right and provided to the city governments legislature, however they did not use her as did not leave "such mass of Weistum^ with which archives even of the insignificant cities of Germany are rich". The scientist with the fact that in VKL the German right "hardened in a motionless state" explained it [5, page 34-35].

Application of the Magdebourg right in city courts of IS was considered by V.B. Antonovich. He overestimated influence of the German right for self-government of city communities. Considered that from it only external forms of a city system are taken, and in legal practice local customs remained the leading norms. Entering this outer side of self-government on overseas samples the government, according to V.B. Antonovich, sought for rise them from the decline caused by decomposition of Old Russian territorial communal life. V.B. Antonovich claimed that petty bourgeoises were not familiar with concrete norms of the Magdebourg right but only in exceptional cases provided articles from codes, but for a form and at random. Considered privileges "charters which guaranteed any given share of independence". In its works it is claimed that it is impossible to find "two cities... in which the device which as if was based on the Magdebourg right would be similar in detail to one another or would answer norm which was established by the Magdebourg law" [6].

The monograph by F.V. Taranovsky "The review of monuments of the Magdebourg right of the West Russian cities of the Lithuanian era" is devoted to studying emergence of the Magdebourg right, its penetration into Poland and VKL, the analysis of collections of the norms of the Magdebourg right published by B. Groitsky and P. Shcherbich. The historian explained emergence of own court and self-government with development of craft work and trade which caused "aspiration to freedom" in citizens [7, page 2]. F.V. Taranovsky considered that "the Magdebourg right was acting, worked by the use of various manual books of the Magdebourg right of the Polish lawyers by vessels", but, on the other hand, it "suffered modifications from local legal customs and views" [7, page 33]. He agreed with V.B. Antonovich that the government granted to the cities the Magdebourg right to lift them from decline, besides saw in it means of a polonization, a stereotypic form of communal self-government in IS. However at the same time claimed that only the outer side, but not the Magdebourg right in full was entered [7, page 18, 37, 55]. F.V. Taranovsky saw the reason that the German right got to VKL in "the general legal system of the Middle Ages when the person in itself was a subject of the rights and carried with himself these rights where would not be". Process of its distribution represented as "a special form of reception of the overseas rights which developed. by judicial practice through assimilation of private popular legal collections" [7, page 52, introduction]. Considered privileges "charters which guaranteed to the cities any given share of independence", namely the right of the structure of court and management as the German communities, the right of a regulation of the vital relations of petty bourgeoises on the basis of the right of these communities" [7, page 35].

The historical fate of the Belarusian cities was investigated in the work by V.K. Stukalich [8]. Analyzing value of the Magdebourg right for development of craft and trade, he tried to define its influence and on political position of citizens. V.K. Stukalich considered that city self-government in VKL was "absolutely artificially organized on an alien German sample" that the Magdebourg right changed "radically all tenor of life and legal relations of members of city society" that only before introduction of the German right of the city could work independently, and after his talent "in every possible way sought to destroy or, at least, to alter action of the Magdebourg right" [8, page 4]. As well as other Russian historians, V.K. Stukalich claimed that history of actually city communities

begins only after submission of VKL by Poland as before they were a part of the earth in which were "nothing else as the largest of volosts and the centers of veche life and princely military management" [8, page 4]. Then the cities became the isolated legal entities subordinated directly to the monarch [8, page 5]. To the cities V.K. Stukalich considered the bases of talent of the Magdebourg right interest of grand dukes in their prosperity as sources of considerable money for treasury; in their growth which was necessary for protection and maintenance of fighting capacity of locks. The talent purposes the historian called protection of the rights of city communities against a shlyakhta and officials and also a guarantee of successful development in the cities of trade and crafts, establishment of uniform structure of urban population [8, page 18-21]. V.K. Stukalich noted that, despite the Magdebourg privileges and the state intervention with the purpose to protect the cities from penetration in them of feudal lords, the last after all based in them the yuridik which growth led to city blight. According to V.K. Stukalich, it was promoted by restriction of city self-government in favor of heads [8, page 22-23] and also "parasitism of Jews" [8, page 33]. V.K. Stukalich claimed that, having acquired the Magdebourg right, petty bourgeoises did not seek to study its contents, and perceived it just as "an external guarantee of the internal communal freedom", and at the same time sought to fill others forms of self-government with "spirit of communal solidarity, characteristic of Slavs" [8, page 33-34]. According to V.K. Stukalich, petty bourgeoises at a veche system were equal, had free communal self-government and court in which they could show the activity. The Magdebourg self-government was represented by elective officials and judges who were under control respectively of "the authorities alien to community" and the highest judicial authorities [8, page 33-34]. V.K. Stukalich noted that the higher authority "vaguely represented the city right and a difference between electoral bodies" [8, page 34]. He claimed that I became gradually glad independent of city community and invariable, as well as a lava, saw in it means of "Catholicism and a polonization" [8, page 35]. However V.K. Stukalich allocated also a number of the positive, in his opinion, moments of the Magdebourg right: an opportunity for citizens to unite in a whole and together to advocate own interests; enslaving termination; a support, though weak, acting through the grand duke instead of communication with the earth [8, page 36-39]. According to V.K. Stukalich's representations, shops and brotherhoods were "the separate self-coping groups of urban population". If privileges to the cities were an initiative of actually grand dukes who acted for the benefits, then privileges to shops were an initiative of the last to promote their rights and interests [8, page 39-40].

The representative of historical school of the right F.I. Leontovich considered loan of the German right by the cities of VKL "one of the first acts of decomposition of unity of the Lithuanian-Russian areas", saw it parallel with a polonization. The reasons of talent of the German right called not so much the domestic policy of the state directed to strengthening of the state defense and treasury and also industrial upsurge of the cities, but most - aspiration to planting of Catholicism and a polonization. The historian confirmed with uneven placement of magdeburgiya in the territory of the state. Also F.I. Leontovich claimed that in public consciousness the German right was option Polish; that magdeburgiya were under construction on the Polish templates with talent to the cities independent legislative and the judicial administrative authority. At last, according to F.I. Leontovich, the Magdebourg system led to decomposition and economic decline of city communities, "to suppression in them to any public amateur performance, development of operation of the cities Polish (later Jewish) colonies" [9, page 6-10].

A.I. Milovidov considered that the government gave to the cities own management and court for a raising of their improvement and welfare, sacrificing the rights, but gradually. For this reason even the most exclusive cities constantly felt over themselves the castle power. In the privately owned cities the Magdebourg right was granted only in those sizes which were favorable to the yard. A.I. Milovidov considered restriction of city court the right of the appeal to castle court as the highest judicial authority. The historian claimed that the urban policy from 17th century had polonizatorsky and pro-Catholic character both in relation to magistrates, and to shops. He held the opinion on allogeneity of the Magdebourg right to the communal device of the Lithuanian-Russian cities because of what they grew poor, and their population ran to villages. The place it was taken by Jews. According to A.I. Milovidov only admission of Belarus in structure of the Russian Empire corrected this situation [10, page XVIII-XXVI].

Typical for the generalizing works on history VKL it is possible to call a position of G.V. Vernadsky who claimed that provisions of the German city right satisfied grand dukes and kings for the reasons of financial character; that there were several options of this right which were popular in Poland (Magdebourg and kulmsky). Supporting

Grushevsky, the historian considered that the government specially entered the Magdebourg right to weaken the Russian influence in the cities of VKL, took steps for reduction of number of "Russians" in magistrates. Being the exclusive right of Christian citizens, the Magdebourg right as an exception extended also to Karaites in Trokakh. The historian also wrote that the grand duke Vitovt specially eliminated users of the German right in the cities of Podlyashya orthodox; that division in some cities of magistrate into the Russian and Polish half gave privileges to Catholics; that at the German right the magistrate was close corporation. G.V. Vernadsky provides the simplified scheme of city self-government: at the head of his Voight who was appointed by the grand duke and which descended a position or could sell; Voight chose Rada and a bailiff. Then the bailiff was appointed glad. In some cities, according to V.G. Vernadsky, I am glad executed only functions of municipal management, judicial functions were performed by a lava which members were appointed glad. Had to pay the extraordinary tax for the right of use of the Magdebourg right of the city to the grand duke. The Magdebourg right, according to G.V. Vernadsky, in general did legal status of petty bourgeoises to steadier and also exempted them from many duties, on the other hand, petty bourgeoises had to suffer the competition from a shlyakhta [11].

The same negative relation to the Magdebourg right in the cities of VKL in general is characteristic of the Russian historians authors of the generalizing works: V.O. Klyuchevsky [12];

N.I. Kareeva [13], A .L. Pogodin [14], F.M. Umantsa [15], P.D. Bryantsev [16], I.P. Filevich [17].

The expert on history of Jews of VKL S.A. Bershadsky in the works in detail considered contents of the diploma on the Magdebourg right to troksky Karaites, proved its authenticity, defined its similarity to other privileges on the Magdebourg right to the cities of VKL [18, page 241243]. S.A. Bershadsky claimed that the essence of the Magdebourg right was defined most precisely only by Sigismund Keystutovich Vilne's diploma 1431 (actually 1432) years, and before this any development the city life in Lithuania was not [18, page 247]. Until the end of the 15th century as S.A. Bershadsky considered, actions of grand dukes on talent of the Magdebourg right were very avaricious, at the same time he even denied authenticity of privilege of Vitovt on the Magdebourg right to Brest. The main plus of the Magdebourg right S.A. Bershadsky called release from the power of voivodes and deputies. The researcher claimed that the maintenance of the Magdebourg right was badly known in the cities of VKL even in the 16th century therefore in courts not it worked, and common law [18, page 248-249]. S.A. Bershadsky saw exile of Jews from VKL at Alexander Jagiellon-chike the additional reason of talent for the cities of the Magdebourg right and privileges on lands [18, page 256-257, 261].

The liberal historian M.K. Lyubavsky considered that the idea dominating in Poland that it promotes progress of the cities, enhancement of their population and income was the cause of introduction of the Magdebourg right. For this purpose petty bourgeoises were exempted from volost duties, the power of officials of the state, the rights which interfered Magdebourg, they were granted certain sources of income - "frames". At the same time the cities had to bring the corresponding payment for the right of use of privileges. The local merchants focused retail trade in the hands. At the head of self-government M.K. Lyubavsky placed hereditary voyt which the grand duke, with the corresponding income appointed. Over time the cities redeemed voytovstvo and did this office elective. Voight together with community chose radets who, in turn, chose bailiffs. Voight, bailiffs and radets considered all lawsuits, except for "four starostinsky articles" under which court was managed by the government official with radets. Appeals were sent to decisions of city courts to the grand duke. Served as codes of the Magdebourg right Saxon Zertsalo and the Magdebourg establishments. Only in some cities the court was divided into Rada and a lava with appropriate authority. After Voight's office became elective, it was possible to appeal on his decisions to Rada whereas earlier from decisions are glad appealed to Voight. M.K. Lyubavsky wrote that I am glad in general was rather administrative, than judicial authority. In the cities, additional bodies, such as shafara and "18 husbands" could be entered into Vilne. Also M.K. Lyubavsky claimed that at introduction of the Magdebourg right all population of the city submitted to it. Privately owned citizens were exempted from this citizenship and were obliged to pay the former owners only "pozy" [19, page 148-152].

Development of the cities was mentioned in the works by M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov's follower A.S. Grushevsky. He assigned a special part in life of the cities to old times and unity of the city and volost as to bases of their existence. At the same time, A.S. Grushevsky recognized that there was a decomposition of a veche system, and the authorities were forced to become for a way of innovations. He stated growth of the cities as centers of craft and trade and as result, growth razmezhe-

their vaniye with rural okrugy and also need of introduction of city self-government as means of control of abuses [20].

M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky considered the Magdebourg right important advantage of the Belarusian petty bourgeoises in comparison with Russian [21, page 328-331]. He emphasized the incentive nature of privileges on the Magdebourg right, did not agree with opinions on its heterogeneity and artificiality [22, page 293]. M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky considered the reason of introduction of the Magdebourg right that "the government arrived at an idea to replace the Old Russian beginnings and customs which decayed because of creation of the closed shlyakhetsky and city estates" and also "economic theories of the 16th century and a deplorable condition of treasury" [23, page V-VI]. The historian claimed that the Magdebourg right could reconcile all population groups of the cities as it was characterized by internationality; that colonization on the German right, characteristic of Poland, was also in the Lithuanian Russia; carried the Magdebourg right to branch of financial policy of the authorities of the state. M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky noted that the voytovsky privilege served for the population of places on "a crude root" as a guarantee of use of the German right, but was not the German right in full sense yet [22, page 274-284]. M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky also claimed that the Magdebourg right entered quite identical mechanism of a city system, but strongly differed in trifles. The special difference in privileges concerned fiscal questions, it reflected degree of grand-ducal arrangement to this city. The historian saw the main feature of the cities on the Magdebourg right in a gap with the volost and considerable difference in the financial plan from the cities on the Russian right. He also offered division of the exclusive cities into two groups: the first group included the cities which had "so-called big privileges on a magdeburgiya" and paid to treasury chinsh and a kapshchina; in another - the cities "with small privileges" which paid chinsh, the taxes of trade and a station. M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky considered "The small privileges on the Magdebourg right" of these last constructed as the kulmsky right. He saw influence of the kulmsky right and in the Charter to the cities included in "The charter on drag". The historian considered the cities on the kulmsky right agricultural settlements, transitional type from the village to the city [22, page 329-335]. Providing in "Acts of the Lithuanian-Russian state" of privilege on the kulmsky right, M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky speaks about it as about "a nonrandom and rare kind of all-German which played in the Lithuanian Russia a large role, though under other name" [23, page VIII].

V.I. Picheta saw the reason of changes in position of citizens in the privileges given by supreme authority that he explained with objective conditions. The pro-urban policy of the government, in his opinion, aimed at growth in incomes of treasury due to increase in volumes of city trade. One of circumstances of formation of urban policy saw an initiative of citizens. The Magdebourg right as V.I. Picheta considered, accelerated natural process of transformation of the cities into special class administrative units. V.I. Picheta also noted higher level of development of city life in the west of Belarus, than in the east [24, page 67-69, 71-74, 75-82, 424-427]. The historian denied considerable Polish influence and impact on "destruction of a vsesoslovny system" and respectively considered that it is not necessary to attach great value to loan of forms of the Magdebourg right in INCL. Also among the reasons of talent of the Magdebourg right saw desire of grand dukes to lift economic development of the country "by initiation of economic production and activity of urban population" that was the return to process of emergence of self-government in the German cities where it was a consequence of economic blossoming. First of all grand dukes granted the Magdebourg right to the "nodal" cities. V.I. Picheta claimed that thanks to the Magdebourg right the possibility of abuses of officials of the state actually disappeared [24, page 426]. The western volosts of VKL, according to V.I. Picheta, at Stefan Batory, became covered by "network of free communities" [24, page 434]. The initiative to the grand duke of issue of charters and privileges was shown, according to the historian, by a general meeting of citizens [24, page 437]. The population had a certain sympathy for the Magdebourg right as it wished to be exempted from the power of public administration [24, page 456]. According to V.I. Picheta, grand dukes usually appointed voytam of candidates which the population of the city offered [24, page 461].

Thus, it is possible to note that for a pre-revolutionary Russian historiography there was characteristic in general a negative relation to the Magdebourg right and the city self-government created in connection with its introduction. Historians in every possible way emphasized the polonizatorsky purposes of its introduction, the pro-Catholic nature, assistance to a separation of the cities from the volost in what saw the reason of their decline. Also the aspiration to typification of structure of city self-government, small study of actually Belarusian systems of city self-government, exaggeration of influence of the Jewish population on life of the cities is allocated.

Only in M.V. Dovnar-Zapolsky and V.I. Picheta's works a certain withdrawal begins

from a legallistic view of the history of city self-government, are emphasized

its positive lines and objective character.

A merit of pre-revolutionary Russian historians it is possible to call introduction to scientific

use of a large number of sources.


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2. M.O. Koyalovich. Lectures on the history of the Western Russia. M, 1864.
3. I.D. Belyaev. The history of Polotsk and Northwest Russia since the most ancient times to the Lublin union. M, 1872.
4. M.F. Vladimirsky-Budanov. The German right in Poland and Lithuania. SPb., 1868.
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13. N.I. Kareev. The history of Western Europe during modern times. SPb., 1913. T.3.
14. A.L. Pogodin. Essay of history of Poland. M, 1908.
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16. P.D. Bryantsev Istoriya the Lithuanian state since the most ancient times. Vilna, 1889.
17. Filevich, Nominative Poland and Polish question. M, 1894.
18. Bershadsky S.A. Lithuanian Jews. History of their legal and social standing in Lithuania from Vitovt to the Lublin union (1388-1569). SPb., 1883.
19. M.K. Lyubavsky. An essay of history of Litovsko - the Russian state to the Lublin union inclusive. St. Petersburg, 2004.
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