The Novgorodian colonization of the North

The original settlement of the Russian North by Slavic tribes started from Novgorod the Great.

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More «ordinary men» like simple manufacturers and plowmen from the worldly people and not less ordinary settlers from the monastic brotherhood walked to the North after the first inhabitants of Pomorye, the Novgorod boyars, had beaten the path. This people dwelt in Pomorye among the Local Indigenous – Lop’ (Saami) and Korela people, who were there from time immemorial, and apparently didn’t quarrel with them for the land that lacked everything.

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Russian dwellers planted their usual self-government zemstvo to the natives «wild Lop’» and «Korela children», baptizing them into the Orthodox church. Having been christened, a Korela or Lop' (together with a new religion and a Russian name) took the whole complexion of a Russian «peasant», got together in pogost districts around the church or chapel, and started living a Russian custom to such an extent that it is not possible to distinguish the indigenous Novgorodian of a new-christened foreigner according to old documents.

Sergey F. Platonov
The past of the Russian North. Petrograd, «Vremya», 1923.

Translated by Ilya Kuznetsov, 2013