The Zaonezhye Pogosts (parishes) is a historical name of areas in the Northeast of Novgorod district in the XVI-XVII centuries. They were formed on the basis of existed so-called Obonezhsky territory of Great Novgorod and included 18 pogosts in the area surrounding lakes Onego, Vygozero, Vodlozero and Syamozero, on the coast of the Svir River and on Olonets plain. Since the second half of the XVI century all population of the Zaonezhye pogosts was generally called zaonezhyane. Since the end of the XV century by the year 1563 population of the Zaonezhye pogosts had grown from 25-26 thousand people to 44,500 people, ans about one half of the population lived in Olonetsky, Shuisky, Kizhsky, Tolvuisky, Vazhinsky and Ostrechensky pogosts. Northern and Eastern pogosts (Begozersky, Chelmuzhsky, Shalsky, Pudozhsky and Vodlozersky) totaled only 7,300 people. This proportion continued in the further.
As a result of oprichnina and Livonian War by 1582 the population reduced up to 28,000 people and in the next decades demographic situation in the Zaonezhye pogosts remained unstable. Nevertheless, by the end of the XVII century the population size has made 85-90 thousand people. Administratively, in the end of the XV century almost all the Zaonezhye pogosts were devided into suburban volosts headed by volostels. During reforms of the middle of the XVI century the Zaonezhye pogosts have received judicial and police investigatory machinery of self-government locally elected by peasants living on state lands (feudal tenants owing obligation in labor and in kind) and landowners. Besides, all the 18 Zaonezhye pogosts were included in the northern Zaonezhye part of Obonezhskaya Pyatina region (Old Russian lit. a fifth part, one of the five territorial subdivisions belonging to the city state of Great Novgorod in the XII-XV centuries), — judicial investigation and fiscal district in the system of local government and self-government — and have fallen under the direct power of voivodes and departmental administration of Novgorod.
Remaining within the Novgorod uyezd (district), for the first time in 1584-85 Zaonezhye pogosts have received the status of separate administrative district with the center in the settlement of Oshta. In 1592 the White Sea coast of Vygozersky Pogost was separated from the Zaonezhye pogosts and the Novgorod district and included in the independent patrimonial district of the Holy-Transfiguration Monastery of Solovki. During the years of the Swedish troops's occupation of Novgorod since 1611 population of the Zaonezhye pogosts fought against the invaders. In Andoma, Tolvuya and Shunga in the autumn and winter of 1613-14 Russian cossacks of ataman Boris Chulkov together with local residents drove off the attack of Polish (Zaporozhye) cossacks hired by the Swedes. In 1613 Tikhvin rose in rebellion against the Swedish occupation. By the summer of 1614 the Zaonezhye pogosts were completely rid of occupation. In 1617 on conditions of Stolbovo peace treaty, the uyezd autority power over the pogosts returned to the Russian province administration of Novgorod uyezd.
In 1626 the Zaonezhye pogosts became a domain of voivodes of Oshta appointed from Moscow, though supervised by voivodes of Novgorod. In 1649 the Olonets uyezd was formed and the Zaonezhye pogosts (except for the Pirkinsky pogost) became a part of it. In the XVIII-XIX centuries the land of former Zaonezhye pogosts has formed a special industrial district of Olonets mining works.
As a historical name the term of Zaonezhye pogosts and zaonezhyane sometimes appeared in the sources of the XVIII-XIX centuries related to territories and population of the mining district and even the province of Olonets. Nowadays only people living on the Zaonezhye peninsula are called 'zaonezhyane'.
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