PSKOV, a government of the lake-region of north-west Russia, which extends from Lake Peipus to the source of the west Dvina, having the governments of St Petersburg and Novgorod on the N., Tver and Smolensk on the E., Vitebsk on the S. and Livonia on the W. It has an area of 17,064 sq. m. In the south-east it extends partly over the Alaun or Vorobiovy heights, which stretch west into Vitebsk and send to the north a series of irregular ranges which occupy the north-western parts of Pskov. A depression 120 m. long and 35 m. broad, drained by the Lovat and the Polista, occupies the interval between these two hilly tracts; it is covered with forests and marshes, the only tracts suitable for human occupation being narrow strips of land along the banks of the rivers, or between the marshes, and no communication is possible except along the watercourses.
With the exception of the south-eastern corner, where Carboniferous rocks crop out, nearly the whole of the government consists of Devonian strata of great thickness, with deposits of gypsum and white sandstone, the latter extensively quarried for building purposes. The bottom moraine of the Scandinavian and Finnish ice-sheet formerly extended over the whole of this region, and has left behind it numerous ridges (kames or eskers), the upper parts consisting of Glacial sands and post-Glacial clays, sands and peat-bogs. The soil is thus not only infertile, but also badly drained, and only those parts of the territory which are covered with thicker strata of post-Glacial deposits are suitable for agriculture.
The rivers are numerous and belong to three separate basins to Lakes Peipus and Pskov the rivers in the north-west, to Lake Ilmen those in the middle, and to that of the Dvina the rivers in the south-east. A great number of small streams pour into Lake Pskov, the chief being the Velikaya. The Lovat and the Shelon, belonging to the basin of Lake Ilmen, are both navigable; while the west Dvina flows for 100 m. on the south border of the government or within it, and is used only for floating timber. There are no fewer than 850 lakes in Pskov, with a total area of 391 sq. m. The largest is Lake Pskov, which is 50 m. long and 13 broad, covers 300 sq. m. and has a depth of 3 to 18 ft.; it is connected by a channel, 40 m. long and 3 to 10 wide, with Lake Peipus. The marshes on the banks of the Polista are nearly 1250 sq. m. in extent. Forests occupy nearly one-third (32%) of the entire area, and in some districts (Kholm, Toropets, Porkhov) as much as two-thirds of the surface. Large pine forests are met with in the north; in other parts the birch and the aspen prevail; but almost one-quarter of the forest area is overgrown with brushwood.
The climate is very moist and changeable. The average temperature is 41 F. (17-1 in January and 64-8 in July).
The population of the government numbered 1,135,639 in 1897, when there were 584,931 women, and the urban population only 72,623. The estimated population in 1906 was 1,275,300. With the exception of 25,460 Esthonians (1897), the inhabitants are almost entirely Great Russians. They belong mainly to the Orthodox Greek Church, but the official number of Nonconformists, 32,066, is far below the mark. There are also about 1 2 ,000 Lutherans and 4000 Roman Catholics. The government is divided into eight districts, the chief towns of which, with their populations in 1897, are Pskov (q.v.), Kholm (5899), Novorzhev (2973), Opochka (5658), Ostrov (6252), Porkhov (5573), Toropets (7489) and Velikiye Luki (8481). Between 1875 and 1896 the peasantry increased their landed possessions by 91%, and the merchants bought considerable areas from the nobles, who altogether sold 43% of their estates. Although the soil is far from fertile, no less than 30% of the total area is under crops and 1 2 % under meadows. The crops principally cultivated are rye, oats, barley, pease, potatoes, flax (for which the government is famous) and hemp. Grain has to be imported, but oats are exported. Owing to the efforts of the zemslws, there has been a notable improvement in agriculture, especially in dairyfarming. Fishing in Lake Pskov and the smaller lakes is a source of income. The manufacture of wooden wares for local needs, ship-building, the timber trade, and the weaving of linen and woollens for local requirements are additional sources of income. Flax, flour, tobacco factories, saw-mills, distilleries and breweries are the principal industrial establishments. The population engage also in the preparation of lime, in stone-quarrying, and in the transport of merchandise. (P. A. K.; J. T. BE.)
PSKOV, in German, Pleskau, a town of Russia, capital of the government of the same name and an archiepiscopal see of the Orthodox Greek Church, situated on both banks of the Velikaya River, 9 m. S.E. from Lake Pskov and 170 m. by rail S.W. of St Petersburg. Pop. (1897), 30,424. The chief part of the town, with its kremlin on a hill, occupies the right bank of the river, to which the ruins of its old walls (built in 1266) descend; the Zapskovye stretches along the same bank of the Velikaya below its confluence with the Pskova; and the Zavelichye occupies the left bank of the Velikaya all three keeping their old historical names. The cathedral in the kremlin has been four times rebuilt since the 12th century, the present edifice dating from 1691-1699, and contains some very old shrines, as also the graves of the bishops of Pskov and of several Pskov princes, including those of Dovmont (d. 1299), and Vsevolod (d. 1138). The church of Dmitriy Solunskiy dates originally from the 12th century; there. are others belonging to the 14th and 15th. The Spaso-Mirozhskiy monastery, founded in 1156, and restored in 1890-1903, has many remarkable antiquities. The ruins of numerous rich and populous monasteries in or near the town attest its former wealth and greatness. The present town is ill-built, chiefly of wood, and shows traces of decay. It has a cadets' school, a normal school for teachers, and a few lower technical schools, an archaeological museum (1903) and some scientific societies. The private collections (coins, antiquities, art works, etc.) of Messrs Pushkin and Sudhov are two of the most remarkable in Russia. The manufactures are unimportant. Since the completion of the St Petersburg and Warsaw railway the trade of Pskov has increased. Pskov has regular steam communication with Dorpat.
History. Pskov, formerly the sister republic of Novgorod, and one of the oldest cities of Russia, maintained its independence and its free institutions until the 16th century, being thus the last to be brought under the rule of Moscow. It already existed in the time of Rurik (gth century); and Nestor mentions under the year 914 that Olga, wife of Igor, prince of Novgorod, was brought from Pleskov (i.e. Pskov). The Velikaya valley and river were from a remote antiquity a channel for the trade of the south of Europe with the Baltic coast. Pskov being an important strategic point, its possession was obstinately disputed between the Russians and the Germans and Lithuanians throughout the nth and 12th centuries. At that time the place had its own independent institutions; but it became in the 12th century a prlgorod of the Novgorod republic that is a city having its own free institutions, but included in certain respects within the jurisdiction of the metropolis, and compelled in time of war to march against the common enemy. Pskov had, however, its own prince (defensor municipii); and in the second half of the 13th century Prince (Timotheus) Dovmont fortified it so strongly that the town asserted its independence of Novgorod, with which, in 1348, it concluded a treaty wherein the two republics were recognized as equals. Its rule extended over the territory which now forms the districts of Pskov, Ostrov, Opochka, and Gdov (farther north on the east side of Lake Peipus). The vyeche or council of Pskov was sovereign, the councils of the subordinate towns being supreme in their own municipal affairs. The council was supreme in all affairs of general interest, as well as a supreme court of justice, and the princes were elected by it; these last had to defend the city and levied the taxes, which were assessed by twelve citizens. But while Novgorod constantly showed a tendency to become an oligarchy of the wealthier merchants, Pskov figured as a republic in which the influence of the poorer classes prevailed. Its trading associations, supported by those of the working classes, checked the influence of the wealthier merchants.
This struggle continued throughout the 14th and 1sth centuries. Nothwithstanding these conflicts Pskov was a very wealthy city. Its strong walls, its forty large and wealthy churches, built during this period, its numerous monasteries, and its extensive trade, bear testimony to the wealth of the inhabitants, who then numbered about 60,000. As early as the 13th century Pskov was an important station for the trade between Novgorod and Riga. A century later it became a member of the Hanseatic League. Its merchants and trading associations had factories at Narva, Reval and Riga, and exported flax, corn, tallow, skins, tar, pitch, honey, and timber for ship-building. Silks, woollen stuffs, and all kinds of manufactured wares were brought back in exchange. In 1399 the prince of Moscow claimed the privilege of confirming the elected prince of Pskov in his rights; and though, fifty years later, Pskov and Novgorod concluded defensive treaties against Moscow, the poorer classes continued to seek at Moscow a protection against the richer citizens. After the fall of Novgorod (1475) Pskov was taken (1510) by Basil Ivanovich, prince of Moscow, and a voyvode or deputy was nominated to govern the city. Moscow, at the end of the i;th century, abolished the last vestiges of self-government at Pskov, which thenceforward fell into rapid decay. Near this city the Teutonic knights inflicted a severe defeat upon the Russians in 1502. Pskov became a stronghold of Russia against Poland, and was besieged (1581) for seven months by Stephen Bathory during the Livonian War, and in 1615 by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Under Peter the Great it became a fortified camp.
(P. A. K. ; J. T. BE.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)