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Gostinaya Sotnya

GOSTINAYA SOTNYA

Literally "Guest Hundred," a privileged corporation of Russian merchants between the late sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries.

The name Gostinaya sotnya derives from the word gost (guest), which was used to refer to prosperous merchants in medieval Russia. The Gostinaya sotnya was the second most important corporation of elite merchants after the gosti (pl. of gost ). Members of the Gostinaya sotnya tended to be relatives of gosti, former members of the Sukonnaya sotnya (a lower corporation of merchants), prominent local merchants, and prosperous peasant-traders. Three categories of Gostinaya sotnya members were defined in terms of wealth.

Members of the Gostinaya sotnya performed official duties for the government, usually once every six years for half a year at a time. They typically served as heads or officials of local customs and taverns. They assisted gosti in large cities and conducted similar functions independently in smaller towns. They sold treasury goods at fairs and abroad. In return, Gostinaya sotnya members were exempted from direct taxes, minor customs duties, and the responsibility to quarter soldiers. They were excluded from the jurisdiction of local authorities and granted other privileges, including the right to distill liquor for personal consumption. Elevated fines of ten to twenty rubles were assessed in cases of dishonor committed against Gostinaya sotnya members. Unlike the status of a gost, membership in the Gostinaya sotnya was hereditary and typically shared with other family members engaged in a joint enterprise.

A 1613 charter issued to members of the Gostinaya sotnya closely resembled the charter of the gosti; however, it did not authorize travel abroad. Foreign travel was subsequently permitted through government-issued passes. The Gostinaya sotnya typically sent two representatives to Assemblies of the Land (zemskie sobory ).

The Gostinaya sotnya had 345 members in 1601 and 1602; membership fell to 185 in 1630 and 158 in 1649. A total of 2,100 individuals joined the Gostinaya sotnya during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, with a particular marked growth in the 1680s. With the introduction of the poll tax in the 1720s, members of the Gostinaya sotnya, along with townsmen, joined the stratum of merchants.

See also: gosti; foreign trade; merchants; sukonnaia sotnya;taxes

bibliography

Hellie, Richard. "The Stratification of Muscovite Society: The Townsmen." Russian History 5(2):119175.

Hittle, J. Michael. (1979). The Service City: State and Townsmen in Russia, 16001800. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Jarmo T. Kotilaine

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