Hist [гість]. Name originating in Kyivan Rus’ for a certain category of merchants. In Ukraine the term was used as early as 945 and as late as the 15th century and referred to foreign merchants trading in Ukraine, to Ukrainian merchants who went abroad to trade, and, by extension, to local merchants engaging in inter-town trade. A hist was a merchant of considerable means and influence, distinguished from ordinary traders by the greater extent of his business, the distances over which it was conducted, and his high social status. Such merchants were accorded a number of privileges: coastal (littoral) trade rights (Strandrecht); precedence in competition; and the right to be judged by their own peers and their own law. A foreign hist could not acquire immovables, although this right belonged to the self-administered companies of foreign merchants, which ran hospices for their members.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine