Tamozhennye knigi Sukhono-Dvinskogo puti XVII v. Sostaviteli S. N. Kisterev, L. A. Timoshina. Vyp. 5. Sankt-Peterburg: “Kontrast”, 2017. 344 pp. ISBN 978-5-4380-0138-6.
Tamozhennye knigi Sukhono-Dvinskogo puti XVII v. Sostaviteli S. N. Kisterev, L.A. Timoshina Vyp. 6. Sankt-Peterburg: “Kontrast”, 2017. 152 pp. ISBN 978-5-4380-0140-9.
The commendable project to publish the customs registers of the Russian North continues. One can but hope that the resources and energy are there for this series to continue, as these registers are a hugely valuable resource for a wide range of subjects. The three large volumes edited by A. I. Iakovlev, which appeared in 1950-51 (Tamozhennye knigi Moskovskogo gosudarstva XVII veka), sampled three different periods for the 17th century, but left many gaps in what in some cases are unbroken series over several decades (notably for Velikii Ustiug). For some of the customs registers in the Muscovite South, we have a volume published in the first instance for linguistic study (Pamiatniki iuzhnovelikorusskogo narechiia: Tamozhennye knigi, ed. S. I. Kotkov, N. S. Kotkova, M., 1982).
As a reminder, the new series began in 2013. Its other volumes to date contain the registers for Velikii Ustiug for 1634/5-1636 and 1636-7; for Tot’ma, 1626/7-1628 (and a fragmentary one for 1635/6), 1626/7, and 1628-9. The new volumes continue the Tot’ma series, for 1628/9 (RGADA, f. 137. Boiarskie i gorodovye knigi. Op. 1. Tot’ma, No. 5) and 1629/30 (Loc. cit., No. 6). In both cases, Timoshina has written the substantial introductions on the manuscripts and their fates and the recording practices. Each volume has name and geographic indexes.
I had never paid much attention to this material until recently when I undertook a small project on a rather specific case of trade and communication along the northern river routes in the 17th century (this will appear in the next number of Russian History). Dipping into these sources has suggested many possibilities for studying networking and communication in Muscovy. There is plenty of material here to document very precisely travel routes, times, and the connections among the individuals who made the Russian North a prosperous place. I am convinced we might need seriously to revise conventional wisdom about how hard and slow it was to get around in the Russian provinces in the pre-modern era. Even what from our modern perspective were very remote and perhaps inaccessible places were connected rather effectively for those for whom it was a priority to travel there.