The highest general sub-Duma rank of military and court servitors in Muscovy.
Literally meaning "table-attendant," stolnik first appears in 1228 and 1230 for episcopal and princely court officials. As Moscow grew, younger and junior memoirs of the top families and provincial serving elites needed a place at court. Accordingly stolnik lost its earlier meaning and was granted to many members of these strata. Above it was the much smaller number of postelniks (chamberlains), and below a large contingent of striapchis (attendants, servants—a term that appears by 1534), and Moscow dvorianins. The service land reforms of the 1550s and 1590s assigned Moscow province estates to these ranks.
From the end of the sixteenth century to 1626, the numbers of stolniks, striapichis, and Moscow dvorianins grew respectively from 31–14–174 to 217-82-760, plus another 176 stolniks of Patriarch Filaret, much of that growth occurring during the Time of Troubles. After measured growth to 1671, the numbers of stolniks mushroomed from 443 to 1307 in 1682 and 3233 in 1686. By this time an elite category of chamber stolniks arose, growing from 18 in 1664 to 173 in 1695. Some stolnik were always in the tsar's suite, attending to his needs.
In 1638, the average stolnik land-holding was seventy-eight peasant households, sufficient to outfit an elite military servitor and several attendants, as opposed to 24 and 28–29 respectively for the average striapchiu and Moscow dvorianin, and 520 for the average Duma rank.
The most eminent family names virtually filled the stolnik rosters in the early seventeenth century. Among those on the 1610–1611 list were Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, the military hero of 1612 and the young "Mikhailo" Romanov, elected tsar in 1613. The percentage of non-aristocratic stolniks surpassed two-thirds toward the end of the century. Under Peter I (the Great) these terms disappeared, but former stolniks and their progeny constituted the critical mass of the upper ranks of his service-nobility.
See also: boyar; duma; muscovy; romanov, mikhail fyodorovich; time of troubles
David M. Goldfrank