TCHERNIGOFF, capital of the above government, stands on the right bank of the Desna, nearly half a mile from the river, 476 miles from Moscow. Far removed from the great channels of trade, its sole importance is as an administrative centre. Its houses are poorly built, and the streets are unpaved. The population (19,000 in 1885, one-third being Jews) is almost stationary. The ruins of its fortress, and the old cathedrals of Preobrazhenie and Borisoglebsk, founded in the 11th and 12th centuries, bear witness to the former importance of the town. Numerous graves scattered about, and now partly explored, speak of the battles which caused its decay.
Tehernigoff is known to have existed before the introduction of Christianity into Russia. In 907 it is mentioned in the treaty of Oleg as next to Kieff, and in the 11th century it became the capital of the principality of Syeversk and an important commercial city. The Mongolian invasion put an end to its growth. Lithuania annexed it in the 14th century, but it was soon seized by Poland, which held it until the 17th century. The great rising in 1648 rendered it independent until 1654, when the Cossacks accepted the protectorate of the czars of Moscow. In 1686 it was definitely annexed to Russia.