The Novgorod First Chronicle (russian: Новгородская первая летопись) or The Chronicle of Novgorod, 1016–1471 is the most ancient extant
Old Russian Old East Slavic (traditionally also: Old Russian, be, старажытнаруская мова; russian: древнерусский язык; uk, давньоруська мова) was a language used during the 10th–15th centuries by East ...
chronicle of the Novgorodian Rus'. It reflects a tradition different from the
Primary Chronicle The ''Tale of Bygone Years'' ( orv, Повѣсть времѧньныхъ лѣтъ, ''Pověstĭ vremęnĭnyxŭ lětŭ''), often known in English as the ''Rus' Primary Chronicle'', the ''Russian Primary Chronicle'', or simply the ''Primary Chroni ...
of the
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
. As was first demonstrated by
Aleksey Shakhmatov Alexei Alexandrovich Shakhmatov (russian: Алексе́й Алекса́ндрович Ша́хматов, – 16 August 1920) was a Russian Empire, Russian Imperial philology, philologist and historian credited with laying foundations for ...
, the later editions of the chronicle reflect the lost Primary Kievan Code (Начальный Киевский свод) of the late 11th century, which contained much valuable information that was suppressed in the later Primary Chronicle. However, an author to the chronicle was never established. The earliest extant copy of the chronicle is the so-called Synod Scroll, dated to the second half of the 13th century. First printed in 1841, it is currently preserved in the
State Historical Museum The State Historical Museum (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane ( ...
. It is the earliest known manuscript of a major East Slavic chronicle, predating the
Laurentian Codex 250px Laurentian Codex or Laurentian Letopis (genre), Letopis (russian: Лаврентьевский список, Лаврентьевская летопись) is a collection of chronicles that includes the oldest extant version of the ''Primary ...
of the Primary Chronicle by almost a century. In the 14th century, the Synod Scroll was continued by the monks of the
Yuriev Monastery The St. George's (Yuriev) Monastery (russian: Юрьев монастырь) is usually cited as Russia's oldest monastery. It stands in 5 kilometers south of Novgorod on the left bank of the Volkhov River near where it flows out of Lake Ilmen. Th ...
Novgorod Veliky Novgorod ( rus, links=yes, Великий Новгород, p=vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj ˈnovɡərət), also known as just Novgorod (russian: Новгород, lit=newtown, links=yes), is the largest city and administrative center of Novgorod O ...

. Other important copies of the Novgorod First Chronicle include the Academic Scroll (241 lists, 1444), Commission Scroll (320 lists, mid-15th century), Trinity Scroll (1563), and Tolstoy Scroll (208 lists, 1720s).

Parallels with pagan beliefs

Many historians have paid attention to the information contained in the Novgorod chronicle about the acts of the
Volkhv A volkhv or volhv (Cyrillic , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs , fam2 = Proto-Sinaitic , fam3 = Phoeni ...
s (Magi), which is mentioned in 1024 and 1071. Historian Igor Froyanov cites as an example a scene from the Novgorod Chronicle, where the Magi talk about the creation of man. According to legend, under the year 1071, two Magi appeared in Novgorod and began to sow turmoil, claiming that soon the
Dnieper } The Dnieper or Dnipro () is one of the major list of rivers of Europe, rivers of Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills near Smolensk, Russia, before flowing through Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. It is the longest river of Ukraine and ...

will flow backwards and the land will move from place to place. Froyanov was the first to draw attention to the similarity of the text with the Mordovian-Finn legend about the creation of man by God (Cham-Pas) and the devil (Shaitana). In the retelling of
, this legend sounds like this: The similarity of the legend with the words of the Magi under the year 1071 (presumably they were of Fino-Ugric origin) indicates that the worldview of the Magi of that period was no longer
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
, but was a symbiosis of Christianity with folk beliefs.


The text of the First Novgorod chronicle was repeatedly used in other Novgorod chronicles. It became one of the main sources of the so-called Novgorodsko-Sofiysky Svod, which in turn served as the protograph of the Fourth Novgorod and First Sofia Chronicles. The Novgorodsko-Sofiysky Svod was included in the all-Russian chronicle of the XV-XVI centuries. Independently it was reflected in the Tver chronicle.''Alexey Gippius'
The Novgorod letopis and its authors: the history and structure of the text in linguistic coverage
// Linguistic source studies and history of the Russian language. 2004-2005. - Moscow, 2006


Online editions

The Chronicle of Novgorod 1016–1471. Intr. C. Raymond Beazley, A. A. Shakhmatov (London, 1914)

External links

*{{Commons category inline 13th-century manuscripts 13th-century history books 13th century in Russia 14th-century manuscripts 14th-century history books 14th century in Russia 15th-century manuscripts 15th-century history books 15th century in Russia East Slavic chronicles Novgorod Republic History of Russia