The area of Arkhangelsk Oblast has been settled by Finno-Ugric peoples since prehistoric times, and most of the toponyms in the region are in fact Finno-Ugric. It was subsequently colonized by the Novgorod Republic.Kargopol was first mentioned in the chronicles in 1146, Shenkursk was mentioned in 1315, and Solvychegodsk was founded in the 14th century. By 13th century the Novgorodian merchants had already reached the White Sea. The area was attractive in the first instance because of fur trading. The Novgorodians penetrated the area using the waterways, and this is why most of the ancient (and, as a matter of fact, of the modern) settlements were located into the main river valleys. The main historical areas of the Arkhangelsk region were Poonezhye (????????) along the Onega, the Dvina Land along the Northern Dvina, Pinezhye (???????) along the Pinega, Mezen Lands along the Mezen, and Pomorye (???????) at the White Sea coast. The main waterway was the Northern Dvina, and Novgorod merchants used the Volga and its tributary, the Sheksna, along the Slavyanka River into Lake Nikolskoye, then the boats were taken by land to Lake Blagoveshchenskoye, from there downstream along the Porozovitsa River into Lake Kubenskoye and further to the Sukhona and the Northern Dvina. Portages from the Northern Dvina Basin led further to the Mezen and the Pechora.
After the fall of Novgorod in 1478, all these lands became a part of the Great Duchy of Moscow. Until 1703, the Northern Dvina served as the main export trading route of Muscovy. The local centers were Veliky Ustyug and Kholmogory, however, during the 17th century, Kholmogory lost its significance, and its role was gradually replaced by Arkhangelsk. In 1708, when the governorates were established by Tsar Peter the Great, Arkhangelsk became the seat of one of the seven governorates of the Russian Empire.
At the same time, Arkhangelsk lands were one of the most remote areas in Russia. This fact was attractive for