Young Folks' History of Russia - Nathan Dole

The Ancestors of the Russians

In Central Asia there is a vast table-land surrounded by lofty, sheltering mountains, watered by noble The early rivers, and so fertile that it might well be called home of the Garden of Eden. Perhaps this was the cradle Aryans of the human race.

The people who dwelt there in earliest times tilled the soil, tended their flocks and herds, fished in the wide streams, worshipped the heaven and "our mother the dank earth," and, living quiet and happy lives, increased and multiplied until at last there was no more room for them all. Then the young men, taking their families and their goods, joined themselves into little bands and turned their faces toward the south and the west and the north.

Some settled on the lands between the Indus and the Ganges; some reached the beautiful islands of the Mediterranean, and peopled the sunny vales of Greece and the balmy shores of Italy; others, more adventurous, wandered across the never-ending plains into the cold, wind-swept regions of Russia and the rocky coasts of Scandinavia.

Island of Liparl


The Hindu throwing himself under the wheels of Juggernaut, the wild robber-chief lurking in the caves of Olympos, the Italian beggar proud of his name, the peasant starving in the swamps of Ireland, the serf in his sheepskin coat crouching on top of his huge oven, the farmer guiding his oxen over the stony hills of New England, are all kith and kin. Our common ancestors dwelt in that morning land and spoke one language, which was the parent of a hundred tongues,—Sanskrit and Greek and Latin, Keltic and Russian, German and English. Hence all over the world are found the same superstitions, the same customs of seed-time and harvest, the same rites of marriage and death, the same strange myths and fairy tales: Jack the Giant Killer and Cinderella were natives of the Garden of Eden thousands of years ago.

The wanderers from Asia who settled in Greece became civilized early and built cities, the history of which every schoolboy knows. The Greek cities in turn sent out colonists who established trading-posts and flourishing towns on the shores of the Black Sea, at the mouth of the Danube, on the Don, in the Crimea, at the foot of the Caucasus. These enterprising merchants kept alive the manners and customs of the mother cities, sang the poems of Homer as they marched to battle, cultivated the arts of sculpture and eloquence, and bartered with their barbarous cousins, the Scythians, who brought furs and honey, amber and lapis-lazuli, to exchange for richly sculptured vases, jewels, and weapons fashioned to their taste by Athenian artisans.

Herodotus, the father of history, made a journey to these regions, and he gives us what little knowledge we have of the many tribes which, under the general name of Scythians, occupied south-eastern Europe four centuries before Christ. He divides them into three branches the farmers, the herdsmen, or wanderers, and the royal Scythians, who considered the others their slaves. Many of them were doubtless Finns; many were driven west and occupied the forests of Germany; some were the ancestors of the Russians.

In the Museum of the Hermitage at St. Petersburg there are two vases which were found in the tombs of southern Russia, and are believed to be more than two thousand years old. On one of them men are represented in sculptured silver, taming and bridling their horses. With their long beards, coarse features, strange tunics and trousers, they are the very type of the present inhabitants of the same plains. They are the agricultural Scythians, the ancestors of the Slavs of the Dnieper. On the other vase, in gold, are the royal Scythians, warriors with pointed caps, embroidered garments, and curving bows.

These tribes worshipped as their god of war an antique iron sword fixed on top of a mound, and sacrificed to it their captives. They drank the blood of the first enemy slain in battle, took off the scalps of their conquered foes and made cloaks of them, or swung them as ornaments from their saddle-bows, and used their skulls, lined with leather or beaten gold, for drinking cups.

Our knowledge of the world of tribes who dwelt beyond the Scythians in the far north is less accurate and is mixed with fable. Some were cannibals, and devoured the bodies of their dead parents with great solemnity; some were called Black Robes, from the color of their raiment; others were luxurious and fond of adorning themselves with gold; some, like the Cyclops, had only one eye; some were from birth to death snub-nosed and bald, both men and women; others, once every year, were changed into fierce were-wolves. There were tribes of warlike women, called Amazons, who killed their male children; and the Gryphons who kept watch and ward over fabulous hoards of gold in unapproachable mountains; and gentle and peace-loving men who dwelt under the north star and fed on dainty food, eating honey and drinking dew, and thus lived to be centuries old.

Unexplored lands are always supposed to be inhabited by monsters: a German baron who visited Russia in, the sixteenth century speaks of the lands beyond the Obi where "are said to dwell men of prodigious stature, some of whom are covered all over with hair like wild beasts, while others have heads like dogs, and others have no necks, their breast taking the place of a head, while they have long hands but no feet. There is also in the river a certain fish with a head, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, feet, and in other respects almost exactly like a man, but without speech." He also tells of certain black men rho die on the 27th of November and come to life again, like the frogs, the following spring. Neither the father of history nor the German baron ever saw these fabulous and scarcely credible monsters; "they dwelt remote and withdrew before the power of civilization.

During the early Christian centuries, Asia, the inexhaustible mother of barbarians, poured out over Europe successive throngs of warlike and conquering tribes. Well might it have been said, No one could tell their origin, whence they came, what religion they professed. God alone knew who they were, God and perhaps wise men learned in and the books." First came the Goths, who built up a vast empire between the Black Sea and the Baltic, threatened Rome, and spread even into Spain. The Goths were defeated and destroyed by the Huns, who followed them from China, and in turn fell before Asparuch and his countless multitudes of Bulgarians and Finns, Turks and Tatars.

The Eastern emperors and chroniclers, in their descriptions of these invasions, often mention the Slavs. They settled first in the fertile valley of the Danube, but were soon driven out by stronger tribes, and forced to take refuge in different lands, Bohemia and Moravia, Poland and Russia.

A thousand years ago, the Russian Slavs, divided into many small tribes constantly at war with one another, but speaking the same language, and governed by the same traditions, occupied a district between the Dnieper and the Dniester, less than one-fifth of the European Russia of to-day. The names of many of these tribes have come down to us in the chronicle of Nestor, an old Russian monk who lived at Kief eight hundred years ago. Two of the principal tribes were the Field Folk and the Forest Folk. Nestor thus contrasts them:—

"The Field Folk followed the customs of their forefathers; they were gentle, humble, and respectful to their sisters-in-law and their mothers; the women, too, honored the brothers and sisters of their husbands. Their customs in regard to marriage were strange: the bride-groom went not in person to receive his bride; she was brought to him the rather at eventide, and only on the following morning did he come into possession of her dower.

"The Forest Folk, on the contrary, lived in a strange fashion, verily like the wild beasts; they cut each other's throats, ate impure food, despised all marriage ties.

Possibly Nestor exaggerated their wildness in order to show the softening effect of Christianity upon them. They were not entirely like savage beasts, but were by nature peaceful and fond of agriculture, devoted to liberty, music, and the dance, and so hospitable that it was considered a virtue among them to steal from a neighbor to provide an unexpected guest with food. In the funeral mounds which they left are found curious vessels of pottery, articles of iron and bronze, bits of glass, false pearls, and Oriental coins.

The emperors of Constantinople describe them as cruel in war and full of wiles; able to conceal themselves in places where it would seem impossible for their bodies to be stowed, fond of lying for hours at a time in streams with the water over the head, breathing by means of a hollow reed. They were of high stature and had long black hair, ruddy complexions, and gray eyes. They were taught from earliest childhood to endure extremes of heat and cold, to face pain, and hunger. They wore no armor, but fought naked to the waist, protecting themselves by osier shields. Their weapons were pikes, long wooden bows, poisoned arrows, and lassos.

Each family obeyed its elder or head; little groups of families formed a commune, tilled the land, and deliberated together on matters of general importance, in a council formed of all the elders. The communes nearest together made a canton or district, which was governed by an hereditary or elected chief. Each canton had at least one fort or village enclosure built of earth and protected by ditches and palisades or osier hedges, and situated on the bank of a stream, the steep shore of a lake, or as a crown to some little hill in the midst of primitive forests.

Besides these villages, even at this early day, the Slavs had considerable cities. In the fifth century they built New Town, near Lake Ilmen, on the site of an ancient city which had been destroyed or depopulated by a pestilence. The old chronicle tells how the Field Folk built the city of Kief: The families of the Field Folk had each their own chief, who lived on his estate and governed his house. Now there once lived among the Field Folk three brothers and a sister. The brothers built a city and in honor of the eldest called it Kief."

The city was surrounded by thick pine forests in which the inhabitants chased bears, wolves, and martens After the death of the three brothers, the Forest Folk and other neighboring tribes overcame the Field Folk; and the Kozars, who dwelt among the mountains and woods, attacked them and said unto them, Pay us tribute." The Field Folk, under necessity, gave them two-edged swords, one from every house. The Kozars carried the tribute to their prince and their elders, and said to them, "We have brought a new people under subjection."

"Where are they?" demanded the prince and the elders.

"They live in the forests and mountains beyond the Dnieper."

"What tribute did they give?"

The Kozars showed the swords. Then said the elders of the Kozars,

"Prince, this tribute is not good. Our sabres have only one edge, but these swords have two edges. There is danger of these men levying tribute upon us and upon other nations."

The Kozars at this time ruled over all the land from the mouth of the Volga to the Black Sea and around the banks of the Dnieper; the Caspian Sea was called the Sea of the Kozars. They built their city of Atel on the Volga, and their White City on the Don; they entered into commercial and military alliances with the emperors of Byzantium, the califs of Bagdad, and the Moorish rulers of Spain. They had great schools, and their liberal shagan or emperor tolerated all forms of religion. The Greeks tried to convert them to Christianity, and sent the missionary St. Cyril to them toward the middle of the ninth century. Even as late as the time of Lewis VII. of France and King Stephen of England the kan of the Kozars still ruled over the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The Coming of the Northmen

While the Slavs beyond the Dnieper were paying to these fierce Finnish tribes their tribute of two-edged swords and squirrel skins, down from the shores of Jutland and Sweden came the warlike Northmen, ready for plunder or for trade. Not a sea in those wild days but was ploughed by their venturesome keels, not a city but trembled before the demands of their impetuous Vikings; under Rollo they invaded France; they waged continual war with the English kings, attracted by the wealth of the monasteries; they roved through the Mediterranean, fought on the coasts of Sicily and Syria, and it is believed by many that they were the true discoverers of the Western Continent.

The Norman adventurers who served in the body-guard of the Eastern emperors, under the name of Ros or Variags, reached the Queen City of the Bosphorus by Russian rivers, called the "Great Water Way." Clad in their coats of mail and pointed helmets, they embarked in long-boats, and, rowing across the Baltic, entered the Neva, or the Western Dvina.

We can see their fleets of war pillaging Novgorod, gaining the upper waters of the Dnieper, and swiftly descending past Kief, devastating the shores of the Black Sea, and bringing dismay to the nations of the south. Reckless was their courage, and gigantic their stature: the Arabs declared that they were as tall as palm-trees. According to the chroniclers, their compact ranks when they fought seemed like a wall of steel, bristling with lances and glittering with shields, and their clamor was like the waves of the sea. They sheltered Themselves behind huge bucklers taller than a man, and no arrow could reach them when they retreated. They fought like madmen. Never would they yield themselves up as prisoners; if the battle went against them, they stabbed themselves to the heart, lest, falling by the hand of an enemy, they should be forced to serve him in the world to come.

Ready always for war, they did not scorn the peaceful pursuits of trade. They exacted tribute from the tribes of Russia, and often made marauding expeditions down the Volga to fight with the Kozars and Bulgarians.

The old Monk of Kief tells us in his simple prose how the Northmen became the masters of Russia and the real founders of its future greatness:—

"For many years the Normans, who dwell on the other side of the sea, took tribute from the Northern Slavs and their neighbors, the Finns. One year the tribes which they had conquered refused to pay their tribute, and, uniting together, drove out the strangers and tried to govern themselves, but there was no manner of justice among them. One family was set against another, and great quarrels arose among them, and at last they said:—

"'Let us find a prince who will govern us, and speak according to the law.'

"Then they sent their ambassadors across the sea to the Norman tribe, the Russ, and said unto them:—

"'Our land is great and fruitful, but order in it there is none. Come and be our princes, and rule over us.'

"A certain Rurik determined to heed this call, and he came with his brothers and all his followers, and settled on Lake Ilmen. From them our land was called Russia."

A little more than a thousand years ago Rurik the Peaceful, and his brothers the Victorious and the Faithful, crossed the stormy sea of the Variags to establish order and security, in place of misrule and dissension. They built strong castles on the borders of the Slav lands, the elder brother on Lake Ladoga, the Victorious on the White Lake, and the Faithful at Izborsk.

After the death of his two brothers, Rurik, or Roderik, the Peaceful, took up his abode in the old merchant city of Novgorod, and became the prince of all the land round about. He divided the power among his followers, and set them over fortresses to hold the unruly tribes in close subjection.



Among Rurik's captains were two Norman nobles of his own blood, Askold and Dir, who, without asking for leave, deserted their brothers, and with a small band of warriors set out for a marauding expedition down the Dnieper. On their way they came to a city, beautifully situated on a high hill, commanding the river. The inhabitants, seeing the Norman troop approaching in their galleys, hastened to the bank and welcomed them, and told them that their city was called Kief, and that they were compelled to pay tribute to the Kozars. Askold and Dir established themselves among the Field Folk and freed them from their oppressors, and ruled over their land.

This was the beginning of the heroic age of Russia.

How the Russians Made Expeditions
against Constantinople

While Rurik was busy quelling insurrections among the people of Novgorod, and teaching them to obey, Askold and Dir, with two hundred long-boats filled with Norman Vikings and soldiers, made a descent upon the Grecian Empire.

Constantinople, the richest city of the East, the rival of Rome, built on seven hills, beside the blue waters of the Bosphorus, with its many-domed churches, its precious relics of bygone days, with its fisheries and its tolls, its bazaars, where merchants from every nation of Europe and Asia brought their costliest wares, the capital of Constantine the Great, the old. Byzantium of the Greeks, the Istanbul of the Faithful, the Tsar of Cities, was ever the goal of the eager hordes which sought their fortunes in the fields of war. Innumerable sieges its towers and walls sustained; Goth and Hun, Turk and Tartar, Norman and Russian alike, looked with envious eyes on the beautiful city by the Golden Horn, which guards the Dardanelles and commands the sea of Marmora, the Euxine, and the Mediterranean.



The Emperor Michael was waging war with the Arabs on the shores of the Black Sea, when a messenger came post-haste with the news that Askold and Dir were putting his subjects to death and laying siege to Constantinople. He hastened back to his capital, and with the Patriarch spent the night in prayer before the shrine of the Holy Mother of God in the church built by his ancestor, the Emperor Marcian.

At daybreak the Patriarch took the wonder-working robe which the Virgin Mary had worn, and dipped it into the Bosphorus, while the priests chanted the canticles, and the choirs of boys sang sacred hymns.

"Instantly," says the chronicle, "the waves, which before were smooth and still, arose in anger and began to roar, and the ships of the idolatrous Russians were dispersed, dashed upon the shore and broken to pieces, so that few escaped the disaster or chanced to reach their own land again." The leaders of the fleet came back to Kief, and there reigned.

Meanwhile, Rurik the Peaceful, after ruling Novgorod for seventeen years, died and left his son Igor, a boy four years old, in care of his kinsman Oleg, a prince of talent and enterprise.

Oleg immediately gathered together an army of Normans, Finns, and Slavs, and proceeded to enlarge his boundaries. He went against the southern tribes by the Great Water Way, captured many cities, and at last reached the walls of Kief, which he took by means of a stratagem. Leaving the greater part of his army behind him, and hiding a band of trusty warriors in a galley or two, he approached the city in the guise of a Norman merchant, and sent a messenger to the princes Askold and Dir, saying:—

"Come and buy pearls and a thousand beautiful things of some Norman merchants, your countrymen, who are on their way to Greece."

Hardly had the over-trustful princes drawn near the river, when Oleg's soldiers leaped from their hiding-places, and seized them, and Oleg cried:—

"You are neither princes nor boyars, but I am a prince."

Then pointing to the boy Igor, whom he held by the hand, he said:—

"This is the son of Rurik, and your master."

Askold and Dir were put to death, and buried in one tomb. Oleg was pleased with the situation of Kief, and resolved to settle there, saying:—

"Let it be henceforth the mother of Russian cities."

He also united under his sceptre all the Slavic tribes along the Dnieper, forced them to pay him a tribute of marten skins, and build strongholds in their lands.

When Igor was a young man, his kinsman left him in charge of Kief, and with a fleet of two hundred boats, each holding forty men, and with an army of cavalry, prepared to besiege Constantinople both by land and sea. His galleys rowed down the Dnieper, and the horsemen kept them company along the banks. As they drew near the Bosphorus, the inhabitants, panic-stricken, hastened to Constantinople and entrenched themselves behind palisades. Oleg landed his forces, and began to plunder the land, and burn the churches and convents. He put to the sword, or terribly tortured, all the Greeks whom he met. According to the legend, he fitted wheels to his vessels, and spread the sails, and soon a favorable wind arose and blew his fleet across the fields to the very gates of the city.



Then the Emperor sent ambassadors with food and wine, and promised to pay tribute if Oleg would spare the city. But it was discovered that the food and wine were poisoned, and, as a punishment for their treachery, Oleg obliged the Court to pay his army of eighty thousand men six pounds of silver apiece, besides gifts to all of the Russian cities under his protection. Then he made peace, swearing by the God of Thunder and the God of the Flocks, by Perun and Volos, while the Greek Tsars kissed the crucifix. After fixing his shield upon the Golden Gate, he returned to Kief, taking with him silken stuffs, embroidered in silver and gold, fruits and wines, and all manner of precious things; and Nestor says that "from this time he was called the magician, because his people were foolish and idolatrous."

He afterwards sent ambassadors to Constantinople to renew the treaty, and the Emperor showed them the beauty and magnificence of the city, the gilded churches, the rich treasures which they held in gold, silver, and precious stones, and the instruments of the passion, the crown of thorns, the nails of the cross, the purple robe, and many relics of the saints. Then he sent them home, laden with costly gifts.

One day Oleg asked a soothsayer to predict the manner of his death, and the soothsayer declared that the horse which he best loved would cause his death. Oleg sent away the horse on which he was mounted, and five years later heard that it was;1.dead. So he mocked the sooth sayer, saying:—

"All that soothsayers prophesy is false. My horse is dead, and I am still alive."

Then he went to view the carcass, and dismounting, kicked the skull, and said,—

"Behold the beast which was to be my death!"

Immediately a poisonous serpent came forth and stung the prince in his foot, and he died, greatly lamented by the people of Kief over whom he had ruled three and thirty years.

Oleg was succeeded by Igor, the son of Rurik, and the Forest Folk rose against him, but he subdued them, and allowed his favorite captain, Svieneld, to receive their tribute. And Igor, with many thousand galleys, made a new expedition against Constantinople, but instead of attacking the city he ravaged the provinces with fire and sword, mutilating, crucifying, and torturing his prisoners, destroying churches and prosperous towns. The Byzantine generals, uniting their Macedonians and Thracian and all their Eastern forces, attacked Igor's army and destroyed it. Igor himself put out to sea, pursued by a few brave sailors who hastily manned some unserviceable vessels, and attacked his galleys with "a kind of winged fire which leaped upon the Russians and made them take to the water to save themselves, but many of them were drowned by the weight of their helmets." Those who reached home said to their countrymen:—

"The Greeks have a fire which runs through the air like lightning, and they threw it upon us and burned our vessels, and thus we failed to conquer them."

Three years later Igor organized still another expedition to avenge his defeat. He secured the help of the Petchenegs, a cruel and treacherous tribe which had recently come from the plains of the Ural, and with an innumerable throng of boats set forth. When the Roman emperor heard that he was coming he sent an embassy, offering to pay a greater tribute than had been given to Oleg, and Igor was persuaded to turn back. The Greek ambassadors came to Kief and signed the treaty, and while some of Igor's men went to the Church of St. Elias and took the oath, after the manner of the Christians, Igor himself and most of his captains went to the hill of Perun, where stood an idol to the thunder-god; and there the prince and his heathen followers took the oath before the altar, throwing upon the ground their shields, their naked swords, their rings, and their most valued possessions, and saying

"May we never have help from Perun, and may our shields afford us no shelter, if it enter our minds to break this peace. If any one, prince or subject, violate it, may he be cut in pieces by his own sword, be destroyed by his own arrows, and be a slave in this world and the world to come."

Prince Igor swore to keep peace and friendship with the Greeks as long as the sun should shine or the world stand, and he sent back the ambassadors with gifts of furs and wax and slaves.

The next year he went to raise tribute from the Forest Folk, for his jealous followers said to him:—

"The men of Svieneld have beautiful arms and fine garments, while we all go naked. Come with us, prince, and levy a new tribute, that thou and we may become rich." "So he yielded," says Nestor, "and led them against the Forest Folk to raise the tribute." He increased the first imposts and did violence unto them, he and his men; and after he had taken all he wanted he returned to his city. While on the road he took council with himself, and said to his followers: "Go on with the tribute; as for me, I will go back and get some more out of them." Leaving the greater part of his men, he returned with only a few, to the end that he might better himself. But the Forest Folk, when they knew that Igor was coming back, said to Mal, their prince:—

"When the wolf enters the sheep-fold he slays the whole flock unless the shepherd slay him. Thus it is with us and Igor. Unless we slay him he will despoil us entirely." And they sent deputies, and said to him, "Why dost thou come again unto us? Hast thou not collected all the tribute?"

Igor would not listen to them, so the Forest Folk came out of their city and fell upon his band, and put them to death. And they tied Igor to two saplings bent to the earth, which taking their natural direction tore him to pieces.

The Beautiful Princess Saint Olga
and Pagan Russia

Prince Igor's band, laden with the tribute, rode slowly through the shady forest back to Kief, and at last began to wonder why their prince so long delayed to overtake them. Just as they reached the city gate a Norman captain came flying at full speed and, half breathless, cried,—

"Prince Igor is dead, and all his men are dead, and I alone have escaped from the fury of the Forest Folk."

When they heard the story of the fugitive the bolder captains were minded forthwith to turn back and avenge the murder of their comrades, but their counsels were divided; they had no prince to lead them, for Igor's son, Holy Fame, was a mere boy; and so they returned each to his own house. The tidings of the disaster spread through the city and came to the ears of the beautiful Princess Olga, as she sat waiting her lord's return in her palace of wood. Olga swore to wreak vengeance on the Forest Folk, but first she firmly established herself on the throne of Kief and ruled in her son's stead, collecting the tribute and judging disputes among her followers.

View in the forest


When months thus passed away, and the Forest Folk saw no ill effects from their violence, they grew bold and said among themselves,—

"We have killed the Russian prince; now let us send to his widow, Olga, and marry her to our prince Mal. Thus shall Igor's son and city come into our power."

An embassy of twenty of their chief men appeared before Olga and delivered their message. The princess affected to hear them graciously, but as they turned to go she had them seized and buried alive. No one escaped to tell the story to their prince. Olga, however, sent him a courier, saying,—

"Thy embassy receives good cheer in Kief, but if thou wouldst make me thy princess send more honorable men than they."

When they without suspicion heeded her request and came to Kief, Olga offered them the luxury of a bath, and caused it to be so heated that they perished, every one.

Then Olga went to mourn at her husband's tomb, and when the Forest Folk gathered about her she made them drunk with mead and put five thousand of them to death. Even this did not satisfy her thirst for vengeance. She gathered a great army and went out with her son against the Forest Folk. Holy Fame threw the first javelin, but being young he missed his aim; nevertheless the Forest Folk fled and shut themselves up in their wooden city, called Bark Wall, which Olga besieged for a year, and when she could not take it she offered them peace on condition that they would pay a tribute of three pigeons and three sparrows from each house. This the Forest Folk were glad to do, but they soon regretted it, for Olga tied lighted tow to the tails of the birds and set them free. The pigeons flew to the barns, the sparrows flew to the roofs, where their nests were, and immediately the whole city was in flames. The inhabitants fled, followed by the troops of Olga, who massacred some and made the rest slaves.

Having thus avenged Igor's death, Olga made a triumphal progress through all her dominions, regulating the tribute and founding villages and castles. When she came back to Kief the desire seized her to go to Constantinople and learn for herself about the new faith which some of her people claimed to be so far superior to the old. Christianity was not unknown in Russia. When the fleet of Askold and Dir was dispersed by the miraculous storm, it is said that the Russians sent envoys to Constantinople to ask for baptism, and they were given an archbishop who worked a miracle by throwing a Bible into a burning brazier and drawing it out unscorched before their eyes. Askold became a Christian saint, and a Christian church was built on the spot where his bones were laid.

Olga went to the Queen City and listened to the arguments of the clergy. Her heart was moved by the mysteries of the sacraments, and she was baptized under the name of Helen. The Greek Emperor himself was her godfather.

With the benediction of the Patriarch, and laden with many splendid gifts, she returned to Kief, full of zeal to induce her subjects to leave their ancient worship and accept the new faith.

Pagan Tartars


The pagan Russians of her time, like most primitive peoples, worshipped the sun, moon, and stars, the thunder, and the spirits of their dead ancestors. Their chief deity was the avenger, Perun, the god of fire, who wielded the thunderbolt and sent the rain and made the plants grow and the trees bud. He was believed to be tall and beautifully formed, with black hair and a long golden beard. He rode in a flaming car, grasping in his left hand a quiver full of arrows, and in his right a fiery bow, or he flew abroad on a great mill-stone, supported by the mountain spirits, who obeyed his will and caused the storms to rise. His dart became a golden key which unlocked the earth and brought to light its hidden treasures, the gems hidden under lofty mountains or in the depths of the sea. The fern was Perun's flower, and those who resisted the spells of the evil demons and gathered its rare blossoms in spite of the magic sleep, the rocking earth, the lightning flashes, the roaring thunder, and the devouring flames, could read the secrets of the universe.

Perun's statue, at Kief, was made of carved wood with iron legs and silver head adorned with golden ears and mustache. In its hands was a precious stone fashioned to represent the thunderbolt. Before it burned the sacred fire of oak logs, and on festal days they sacrificed animals and human beings, prisoners of war, slaves, young men and maidens. Whole forests were devoted to his service.

"The groves were God's first temples,"

and no one was allowed to cut or mutilate a single tree under pain of death. In later times, when Christianity began to take the place of paganism, the peasants transferred the attributes of Perun to the Prophet Elijah, who went to heaven in a fiery chariot drawn by flaming horses. Volos, the god of cattle, was the sun personified, who watched over the flocks and herds. Stribog, or the Air-god, rode in the chariot of the winds. His idol stood with that of Perun and several others on Perun's hill at Kief.

In the early spring the Russians celebrated the feast of Kupalo the Bather, the god of the summer time, a kind and gentle god. Girls and boys adorned with garlands of flowers danced hand in hand around the sacred fire, singing their songs of rejoicing because the pleasant days had come. Afterwards the feast of St. John the Baptist, whom the peasants, call Ivan Kupalo, was celebrated in like manner on the 24th of June. Did-Lado was the goddess of marriage, of mirth and pleasure, to whom couples about to wed offered sacrifices to secure a happy union. The Virgin Mary, "the sister of Elijah, the thunderer," subsequently took the place of Did-Lado, and the peasants sing:—

Ivan and Marya

Bathed on the hill;

While Ivan bathed,

The earth shook;

While Marya bathed,

The grass sprouted.

Russian stories and songs are full of allusions to the strange beings which peopled that ancient world, giant heroes, rivers which spoke and performed mighty deeds of valor, Morena, the goddess of death, the cruel Frost with ruddy nose and icy heart, the deathless Snake with fiery wings and many heads, which changed into a handsome youth and wooed earthly maidens. Then there was the Baba-Iaga, a dreadful ogress, a hideous, bony, tall old woman, with a long iron nose and sharp teeth. Her cottage was supposed to rest on a single support like a fowl's leg, and to whirl and sway in the breeze. It stood at the entrance of the forest, and was protected by a fence made of the bones of the unlucky mortals on which she fed. The posts were tipped with skulls, in whose hollow eyes at night gleamed a ghostly fire. The gates were human legs, the bolts human arms, and a mouth with bristling teeth served as a lock. In an iron mortar she sallied forth, paddling herself along with her pestle and sweeping away all traces of her frightful journey with a burning broom. The Day and the Night were her slaves; bodiless hands worked her behests. She had fire-breathing horses, seven-leagued boots, a self-cutting sword, a self-flying carpet. She fed on the bodies of the living and on the souls of the dead. When the wind bows down the tall grass or the ears of corn, the Russian peasants still frighten naughty children by saying that the Baba-Iaga is running after them to pound them in her iron churn.

A water-nymph


In the sea dwelt the sea-tsar with his thirty beautiful daughters, the swan-maidens, in a great crystal, gem-adorned palace of light and splendor. The rivers were full of Undines or naiads, sometimes mischievous, sometimes kindly disposed to men. They were beautiful maidens with slender limbs, wild eyes, and fair faces, and long, waving hair, green as grass. In June, when the wind blows and the waves plash upon the shore, the Russian even now sees their dancing feet. Little children who were drowned were changed into these merry water-nymphs.

In lakes, ponds, and swamps, and especially near mill-wheels dwelt the water-sprite, who was supposed to be a naked old man who cares for the bees. The peasants call him Little Grandfather, and stand in awe of him. These water-sprites marry young girls who drown themselves and become Undines. When the brook arises and carries away the bridge or mill, it is the mad prank of the water-sprite who is celebrating his marriage.

Here is one of the stories which the Russian peasants tell:—

"Once upon a time a girl was drowned and she lived for many a year with a water-sprite. But one day she swam to the shore and saw the red sun and the green woods and fields, she heard the humming of bees and the far-off sound of bells. Then a longing for her old life on earth came over her, and she could not resist it. So she came out from the water and went to her native village. But her relatives knew her not, her friends knew her not. Sadly she returned at eventide to the water-side and rejoined once more the water-sprite. Two days later her body drifted upon the sands while the stream roared and was wildly agitated. The remorseful water-sprite was lamenting his irrevocable loss."

The forests too were haunted by demons who sometimes appeared as peasants dressed in sheep skin garments, but ungirdled and having neither eyebrows nor eyelashes. The forest demon in his own shape had an eye like a cyclops from his head sprang branching horns; his legs were those of a goat; his head and body were covered with shaggy green hair; his fingers had sharp claws. When the Russian goes out to hunt he must offer sacrifice to the forest sprite or come back unsuccessful. The belated traveller in the woods is often frightened by his shrieks of laughter, his feigned voices of horses, cows, and dogs.

A still more important place in the belief of the people was held by the household spirit, whose home is behind the great oven in the peasant's cottage, and which jealously guards the inmates and warns them of coming good or evil. Woe befall the unlucky cow or hen, cat or dog, whose color offends the household spirit! Once a year he is believed to grow malicious, and the peasants offer him little cakes or stewed grain, or a red egg, on the midnight of the thirtieth day of March. When a Russian moves into a new house and all the furniture has been taken from the old one, the oldest woman of the family, the grandmother, or mother-in-law, lights a fire for the last time in the oven. At noon she puts the burning embers into a clean jar, covers them with a white napkin, and takes them to the door of the new abode, where the head of the family is waiting to say,—

"Welcome, grandfather, to our new home."

The jar is then broken, and buried at night under the front corner of the house, and the household-spirit is content. All these rites and ceremonies have come down from the pagan days.

The Slavs believed that after death the soul had to travel a long journey either across the sea or down the Milky Way. So they put money in the grave to pay the boatman, and food because it was a desert road. The Milky Way was called the mouse-path, for they thought the soul escaped in the form of a mouse. The dead finally reached the land of the sun, eastward of the ocean. Souls of little children live and play there and gather golden fruit. The souls of men unborn are there. It is the mystic land of the snake older than all snakes, and the prophetic raven oldest brother of all ravens, and the bird the largest and oldest of all birds, with iron beak and copper claws, and the mother of bees eldest of bees. There is the dripping oak under which lies the snake Garafena and the divine maiden Zaria the Dawn, and there is the white stone under which flow rivers of healing. No cold wind ever blows across those Fortunate Isles and there winter never dares to come.

The life beyond the grave they believed would be a continuation of that led on earth. The slave still served his master, the wife still clung to her lord. The bodies of the dead were sometimes buried, sometimes burned; their favorite slaves and horses were sacrificed, and the widows either hung themselves and were burned upon the pyre, or they were buried in caves upon the hillside.

An Arabian traveller of the ninth century describes a Russian funeral which he witnessed:—

For ten days the friends of the dead merchant bewailed him and drank themselves drunk over his body.

Then the men-servants were asked which of them would be buried with his master. One offered

and was instantly strangled. A maid-servant also gave herself up for the same purpose and was taken in charge by a wrinkled, yellow crone, called the Death-Angel, who washed her, adorned her with rich raiment, and treated her like a princess. On the appointed day she took off her jewels, and drinking a glass of spirit, cried,—

"Look! there is my lord. He sits in paradise. Paradise is so green, so beautiful! By his side are all his men and boys. He calls me. Bring me to him!" Then, when the men beat their shields with clubs so as to drown her cries, the Death-Angel put an end to her with a dagger. Her body was placed beside her lord in a boat propped up by four trees, and surrounded by gigantic wooden idols. The funeral pyre was lighted, and consumed the merchant, his arms, and his garments, his slaves, his dog, two horses, and a pair of fowls.

The Slavs of Novgorod buried their dead, and in their tombs are found weapons, tools, jewels, bones of animals, and grains of wheat. Every spring they celebrated a feast in honor of their dead, throwing portions of the food under the table for the ghosts. After the spirits had eaten all they wanted they were escorted out, and the hosts drank and made merry.

Many of these heathen notions were retained by the peasants after Christianity was brought to Russia. In their prayers still echo the strange spells which their pagan ancestors addressed to the powers of nature. The superstitious still go out into the woods and say such words as these:—

"Forgive me, O Lord; forgive me, O holy mother of God; forgive me, O ye angels, archangels, cherubim, and seraphim, and all ye heavenly host; forgive me, O sky; forgive, O damp mother earth; forgive, O free and righteous sun; forgive, O fair moon; forgive, O bright stars; forgive, ye rivers, lakes, and hills; forgive me, all ye elements of heaven and earth."

A few of Olga's subjects followed her example, and were baptized. Nestor says that when one of her soldiers wished to become a convert he was not prevented, but only laughed at. Her efforts to convert her son, Holy Fame, were in vain. Olga assured him that if he would be baptized all his subjects would follow his example. But he despised the rite of baptism, and would hear nothing of it. To his mother's arguments he replied harshly,—

"How can I embrace a new religion? My men would mock me." And he continued to live like a pagan.

Sviatoslaf, the Pagan Warrior

When Holy Fame became of age he relieved his mother of the government, and to the people who dwelt round about he sent the warning:—

"I am coming to fight you."

He defeated the Kozars and their prince, and captured their "White City "on the Don. He exacted tribute from the tribes of the distant Caucasus. At the instigation of the Greek Emperor, who sent him rich gifts, he made war with sixty thousand men against the Bulgars, captured eighty of their cities and established himself at their capital.

While he was there the Petchenegs, "a greedy people, who devoured the bodies of men, corrupt and filthy, bloody and cruel beasts," whose progress had been favored by the decline of the civilized Kozars, suddenly appeared with an immense army under the walls of Kief, which they closely besieged. Olga and her three grandsons were reduced to terrible straits.

A young man offered to save the city. By a bold ruse he succeeded in passing through the line of the savages and reached the other shore. At daybreak the Petchenegs heard the sound of trumpets and the shouts of warriors, and saw a host of boats drawing near to Kief. Thinking it was Holy Fame himself, they quickly raised the siege and departed.

As soon as they had disappeared the men of Kief sent messengers, who said,—

"Prince, thou seemest to prefer foreign lands to thine own which thou hast deserted, and it has almost chanced that thy mother and thy children have fallen into the power of the barbarians. Haste to return, lest we be again attacked." Holy Fame came back and pursued the Petchenegs and avenged himself upon them; but the next year, forgetting this lesson, he said to his mother and his captains,—

"I weary of living at Kief. I prefer the Bulgarian capital on the Danube. That is the centre of my domain and abounds in wealth. From Greece come gold and precious stuffs, wine, and every kind of fruit; from the country of the Cheks and Huns come silver and horses; from Russia are sent furs, wax, honey, and slaves."

Three days later Olga died. "She was in Russia," says the Monk of Kief, "the omen of Christianity, like the morning-star which shines before the sun, like the dawn which heralds the day. She shed abroad a glory like the moon; amid a faithless generation she gleamed like a pearl amid ordure. She was the first in Russia to mount to the kingdom of heaven."

Holy Fame left his three sons to administer the affairs of his realm, and again set out against the Bulgars who had broken from his sway. When, after many bloody battles, he had them again in his power, he determined to attack the Greeks, and they, wishing to test his temper, sent gold and silken fabrics. The prince looked upon them with disdain, and said,—

"Take them away."

The deputies then brought him a sword and other weapons, and he seized upon them with admiration and kissed them as he would have kissed the Emperor himself. The Greeks were afraid, and said to each other,—

"This must be a ferocious man, since he scorns wealth and accepts a sword, a glaive, for tribute." And they were glad to make peace with him, for he was at their very gates.

If Holy Fame, supported by the disciplined legions of Bulgaria, the Northmen of Sweeden, the Russian Finns and Slavs, and the light cavalry of the Petchenegs, had been able to found a great empire, extending from Thrace and Macedonia to the Baltic, with its capital on the Danube, the Greeks would have been driven from Constantinople, and the history of Europe have been changed. But a great emperor mounted the throne of the Grecian empire, and seeing the danger which threatened, he ordered Holy Fame to evacuate the country. Holy Fame, who had just captured Philippopolis, replied that he hoped soon to be at Constantinople.

The Emperor sent a fleet to the mouth of the Danube, and at the head of his "Immortals "marched against the Russian prince. He took the Russians by surprise in the defiles of the Balkans, defeated their army under the walls of the Bulgarian capital, and assaulted the city. Eight thousand Russians threw themselves into the royal citadel, supposed to be impregnable, but were forced by the flames to leap from the rocks or be suffocated.

The Balkan Mountains


When Holy Fame heard of the loss of his new capital he was not discouraged nor chagrined, but advanced against the victorious tsar with seventy thousand men. A bloody battle took place; before sunset a dozen times the victory shifted from side to side. At last, "as the star of Venus was setting," the Greek cavalry, the Iron-sides, made a desperate charge. The Russians gave way and took refuge in the city of Dorostol, where the Emperor closely besieged them with battering-rams and all sorts of machines of war: The Russians defended themselves by hurling rocks and darts and logs upon the heads of the besiegers, and often they made wild sallies. Even their women, like the Amazons of old, took part in these epic conflicts. Rather than yield, the Russians preferred to stab themselves. After the day was done they would leave the city and burn their dead under the light of the moon, sacrificing over their ashes prisoners of war, and drowning in the Danube fowls and little children. At last provisions began to grow scarce, and Holy Fame took advantage of a stormy night and stole out with a fleet of canoes manned by two thousand of his bravest warriors. He escaped the watchmen of the Greeks and collected corn and millet from all the villages round about. Then falling suddenly upon his enemies he fought his way victoriously back to the city.

The Emperor proposed to decide the war by a single combat, but Holy Fame replied,—

"Better than my enemy I know what lies before me. If the Tsar is weary of life there are a thousand means by which he can end his days."

A few days after this Holy Fame gathered his men about him, and said,—

"Comrades, we must fight or die lest our common country be brought to shame. Disgrace is not for the dead but for cowards. As for me, I am willing to die."

His captains and his men shouted,—

"The place of thy death shall be our tomb."

So he issued with all his forces from the gates, and there was a bloody battle. A baptized Arab, a son of the Emir of Crete, dropping his reins, dashed up to Holy Fame and felled him to the ground with his broadsword; but the Russians rallied to the assistance of their prince and quickly despatched the Emir's son. When the battle seemed to favor the troops of the prince, the Emperor himself rushed into the thick of the fight followed by his Immortals. A storm arose and blew the dust into the eyes of the Russians, and they were pelted with great hail-stones. And suddenly there appeared among them St. Theodore the martyr, in the guise of a horseman on a white horse, calling the Greeks to victory.

The Russians gave way, leaving on the battle-field fifteen thousand dead and twice ten thousand shields. Holy Fame retired into the town once more and sued for peace. He swore by Perun and Volos never again to invade the empire, but to help defend it from all enemies. "If we break our vows," said he, "may the curse of God fall upon us, may we become yellow as gold, and perish by our own weapons."

The Greek Emperor granted peace to the Russians, and let them depart. He even sent deputies to the Petchenegs, begging them to give free passage to the little remnant of the prince's army. When Holy Fame reached the rapids of the Dnieper these ferocious barbarians were lying in wait for him. He was obliged to winter there, and endure the horrors of famine.

Russian Cavalry


When spring returned and Holy Fame tried to pass the cataracts, the Petchenegs fell upon his army and made great carnage. They killed Holy Fame, and their prince took his skull and had it fashioned into a drinking-cup, with the inscription in gold,—

"He who covets the wealth of another often loses his own."

Thus perished this brave, cunning, and ambitious Norman. He was agile as a panther, and cared only for the riot of war. His army marched without baggage or train. His meat was horse-flesh half broiled on the coals. He slept in the open air, on the bare ground, with a saddle for his pillow and a horse-blanket for a mattress. One who saw him after his defeat has left us this portrait of him as he came to converse with the Greek Emperor:—

"John, in shining armor, on horseback, and surrounded by a countless escort with golden cuirasses, approached the bank of the Danube. And Holy Fame drew near in a long boat, handling the oar like his companions. He seemed to be of middle height, and very robust. He had a broad chest, a thick neck, a flat nose, bushy eyebrows, long, shaggy mustaches, a thin beard; the hair on his head was close shaven except one tuft, the mark of his nobility. He wore a single gold earring, ornamented with a ruby and two pearls. His whole appearance was rough and gloomy, and he was distinguished from the other Russians only by the cleanness of his white raiment. And not disembarking from his boat he spoke a few words with the Emperor and then returned as he came."

Vladimir, the Beautiful Sun of Kief

Holy Fame's son, Fiery Host, left Lord of Kief, attacked his brother Oleg, Prince of the Forest Folk, and put him to death. His half-brother, Vladimir, chosen Prince of Novgorod, fled beyond the sea. Fiery Host conquered the Petchenegs and remained master of all Russia. But his younger brother returned from Norway with a well-armed band of warriors and sent word to him,—

Vladimir is coming against thee; prepare to defend thyself." And he again took possession of Novgorod.

Fiery Host was to marry Rogneda, the beautiful daughter of Rogvolod, who had come from the other side of the sea and was Prince of Polotsk, but Vladimir had heard of her beauty and he vowed to win her hand. He sent word: "I wish to marry thee;" but the princess, knowing that Vladimir's mother was only a serving-woman, answered,—

"I will never wed the son of a slave."

Vladimir, angry at the insult, gathered together a great army, sacked Polotsk and killed the prince and his two sons and forced the proud and scornful Rogneda to be his wife. Then, without losing time, he marched against Kief. His brother listened to the counsels of the traitor Blud, and fled, and was soon after put to death by the Normans of Vladimir, who in turn ruled over all Russia. These bloody civil wars were accompanied by fearful signs in the sun, moon, and stars; thunder-storms and hurricanes desolated the fields and the habitations of men.



Vladimir, freed from all rivals, went out against the Poles and many other ferocious tribes, and forced them to pay tribute. When he returned to Kief he offered up victims to the false gods on the hill of Perun, and the lot fell on the son of a Christian Norman, who said,—

"Your gods are not gods, but only sticks of wood which soon perish, for they cannot eat nor drink nor speak, but they are made by the hand of man. There is only one God and him the Greeks adore. It is he who made the universe and man. But what have your gods done? I will not give my son to the devil."

The men of Kief were angry at this speech, and they destroyed the Christian's house and put him and his son to death. These were the first Christian martyrs in Russia, and the Church of the Holy Mother of God was afterwards built upon the site of their ruined house.



Soon afterwards Vladimir conquered the Bulgars and made a peace which was to last until stones should float and hops sink. The Bulgars, who were Mahometans, sent their missionaries to him, but he would not adopt their faith because he was unwilling to forswear pork and wine.

Then came Catholic missionaries from Germany, but he sent them back, saying, Our fathers did not believe in your religion." The Jews also tried to convert him, but the prince said to them,—

"What! you wish to teach others,—you whom your God has dispersed and punished on account of your sins? If it were true that God loved you and your land, he would not have allowed you to wander through the earth. Perchance you want us to suffer the same fate."

Finally the Greeks sent a philosopher who taught the prince the history of the world from the creation, and told him of the world to come. Vladimir was puzzled and did not know what to do. By the advice of his elders he sent wise men to search for the best religion, and they came back with their report:—

"We first visited the Bulgars and their temples, and we saw their service and how they act like madmen; their religion is not good. Then we went to the Germans and saw their churches and their mode of prayer; but we found neither ornament nor beauty. And last of all we came among the Greeks and were shown their divine service, and it seemed as though we were in heaven, for in sooth on earth it is vain to find such magnificence."

They told the prince of the glory of Santa Sophia; the multitude of candles, the clouds of incense, the sacred hymns, and the gorgeously robed priests, and how they saw beautiful youths with wings, descending in shining robes, singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy." Then the elders said,—

"If the Greek religion were not the best thy grandmother Olga, the wisest of mortals, would not have adopted it."

This decided Vladimir, but he would not beg for baptism; he would conquer it by force of arms. The next year he attacked Korsun, the last city of southern Russia that remained subject to the Greeks. He entered it in triumph and sent a proud message to the Emperors Basil and Constantine, demanding the hand of their sister Anna unless they wished Constantinople to be treated as he had treated Korsun.

Interior of St. Sophia


Driven to despair by internal revolts, they consented on condition that Vladimir should be baptized; and the Greek princess, in spite of her tears and her protests, was sent by ship to the wily barbarian who already had as many wives as Solomon.

As soon as Vladimir was baptized he was miraculously cured of his sore eyes, and was married to Anna, the Grecian heiress of the emperors of Rome. When he came back to Kief with captive priests and their sacred ornaments and relics, he sent the proclamation through the streets,—

"Whoever, rich or poor, laborer or beggar, shall not come to the banks of the river shall be treated as a rebel."

The inhabitants of the city said among themselves,—

"If baptism were not a good thing our prince and our elders would not have submitted to it."

So they all came to the Dnieper, and Vladimir broke up the false idols, and the golden-bearded image of Perun was tied to the tail of a horse and whipped by a dozen men. When it was pitched into the river the current washed it upon the shore and all the people instantly rushed to worship their old god; but the prince's soldiers cast it back, and then all the Kievans, men and women, masters and slaves, old and young, plunged into the "consecrated waters of the old pagan stream" and paddled around, while the Greek priests, standing on the shore with Vladimir and the princess, repeated the solemn service.

Vladimir sent to every city and village throughout his land, and catechised the people and forced them to be baptized.

It was not without opposition that the new faith was thus given to the Russians. At Novgorod the idol of Perun swam against the stream and its voice was heard summoning the inhabitants to remain true. Riots broke out in various parts of the land. Even though the Christ was worshipped in the new churches, secretly in the depths of the forest still rose the smoke of sacrifice to Perun and Volos; the peasants still celebrated their marriages around the "brush of broom;" in every village the witch or soothsayer still foretold the future, unriddled auguries, and was believed to have power to drive away evil spirits and the Fever Sisters, to bring fertilizing rains or terrible droughts and storms.

"The Beautiful Sun of Kief" no longer cared for war, but occupied himself in founding cities, in building and ornamenting churches, and establishing schools, where the children were taught the magic of writing, and he became so gentle that brigands began to take advantage. At last the bishops came to him and said,—

"Thieves and robbers increase marvellously; why dost thou not punish them?"

"I fear to sin," was the prince's reply.

"God placed thee here to chastise the wicked and reward the good," said the bishops, and Vladimir quickly made an example of the robbers.

The Petchenegs also came to trouble him, and they had a mighty giant for a champion. The Petcheneg prince sent a challenge to the Beautiful Sun of Kief, that if the Russian champion overcame the champion of the Petchenegs there should be peace between them for three years, but if his champion won there should be merciless war.

Vladimir sought for a David to fight with this Goliath, and at last an old man, a leather-worker, came and said that he had a young son at home whom no one had ever been able to throw.

The youth was sent for, and to prove his strength he tore in pieces an angry bull. The lists were formed and the two champions grappled. The giant was horrible to see, but the tanner's son seized him and stifled him to death in his arms. The Petchenegs fled in dismay and were cut down by Vladimir and his men.

Afterwards, while the prince was at Novgorod with the flower of his army, the Petchenegs besieged his favorite town, the White City, and reduced the inhabitants to the verge of starvation. But they let down into a well great caldrons of dough and honey-water, and showed them to the Petchenegs, who, thinking that it would be impossible to take a town where the soil naturally produced such abundance of food and drink, raised the siege and departed.

The Russian epic poems are full of these marvellous doings of Vladimir, who seems to take the place of the divinities which he destroyed. His mighty men fight and kill the winged monster, the nightingale whose nest weighs down seven trees, and the serpent of the mountain, Shark the giant, the forty brigands, and the terrible maiden with the falcon. He is the King Arthur of Russia and has his Round Table. His knights complain that they have to eat from wooden bowls: he gives them cups of silver adorned with gold, saying,—

I cannot every day get friends with gold and silver, but with friends I can win both, as did my father and my grandfather before me."

Every week he gave splendid feasts and distributed game and the flesh of oxen and mead and kvas to the poor. And to the people who told his exploits he was always the Beautiful Sun of Kief.

The Glory of Kief under Iaroslaf

It was about half a century before the battle of Hastings that St. Vladimir, called the Apostle, died, leaving a dozen sons, among whom he distributed the cities of his realm. His nephew, Holy Host, usurped the throne of Kief and treacherously put to death Boris and Glieb, the sons of Vladimir. The Prince of the Forest Folk met the same fate, and the lame Fiery Fame, Prince of Novgorod, saw that he must defend himself.

Shortly before some of his turbulent subjects had massacred his Norman guard, and as a punishment he enticed the chief citizens of Novgorod into his castle and put them to death. Consequently Novgorod was angry with him, but when he appeared before the town-council and wept for his cruel conduct in presence of the people and humbly besought their aid they cried with one accord,—

"Prince, though thou hast wickedly shed the blood of our brethren, yet we promise to fight for thee."

With an army of a thousand Normans and forty thousand soldiers from many tribes, Fiery Fame marched against Holy Host, and on a wintry day after a hard-fought battle Holy Host's army was put to rout. Many of his men broke through the ice and were drowned, and Holy Host himself took refuge with his father-in-law, the fat, brave king of Poland. Fiery Fame entered Kief in triumph.

The next year, as he was on a certain day fishing by the banks of the Dnieper, word was brought that the King of Poland was coming against him with a great army. Fiery Fame threw down his fishing-pole and left his fish, but he had little time to collect an army ere his enemy was upon him. The King of Poland clove the gate of Kief with his mighty sword which an angel was said to have given him, and took possession of the city. Fiery Fame escaped with only three companions to Novgorod, and gathered ships to cross the sea to the Normans, but the men of Novgorod were brave and burnt his ships, and said,—

"We will measure our strength once more with the enemy."

They raised taxes in furs and money and gathered a great army, and Fiery Fame again took the field.



Meantime Holy Host had quarreled with his father-in-law and driven him away after massacring his men. Deprived of his powerful aid, Holy Host fled at his cousin's approach and brought against him an army of barbarians. The battle took place on the banks of the Alta, and the plain along the river was red with the blood of warriors. "Now it was a Friday," says the chronicle, "and since daybreak the battle had raged, and the combat became terrible and fierce; the like had never been seen in Russia. The fight was hand-to-hand; twice the tide of victory ebbed and flowed, and with such fury that the blood of the slain seemed like a mountain torrent. At last, at even-tide, Fiery Fame won the day." The impious usurper fled "pursued by the wrath of God," and perished miserably in the deserts of Bohemia.

The history of Vladimir's successors recalls that of the heirs of Clovis. The murder of the sons of Clodomir is paralleled by the assassination of Boris and Glieb, sons of Vladimir, by the order of Holy Host, the usurper of the throne of Kief. His two victims were canonized, and henceforth became inseparable in the orthodox calendar.

Fiery Fame, after many civil wars with his brothers and nephews, made himself master of all Russia and reigned gloriously at Kief. He founded new towns and made his name renowned from the Baltic to the Black Sea, in Finland and Bulgaria. He captured many cities belonging to the King of Poland, and he put to rout and entirely destroyed the Petchenegs who attacked Kiel in his absence. His dealings with the Eastern emperors were not so fortunate. He intrusted his son, the Prince of Novgorod, with the charge of an expedition to Constantinople to settle a mercantile dispute by dint of arms. The Greeks sent envoys to offer favorable terms, but Fiery Fame's son scornfully rejected them and drove them away loaded with insults.

A naval battle was fought in the Bosphorus and the Prince of Novgorod was vanquished; the Russians were not able to resist the terrible Greek fire; moreover a sudden tempest arose and scattered their fleet; eight thousand of their men who reached shore and tried to fight their way back to Kief by land were surrounded and cut to pieces; the Greeks took with them to Constantinople eight hundred prisoners and put out their eyes.

It is said that a prophetic inscription was found in the boot of one of the bronze statues of Byzantium, declaring that the day was coming when the capital of the Greek empire would fall a prey to the men of the North, but it was not the destiny of Fiery Fame to fulfill the prediction. To this day the Russians look with greedy eyes upon the tsar-city  of the Dardanelles.

Under Fiery Fame Kief reached the pinnacle of its glory. Like Constantinople it had its Cathedral of St. Sophia and its Golden Gate; it was surrounded with walls and ornamented with gilded towers. It was called the city of the four hundred churches, and the religious services gave employment to a host of Greek singers and priests. St. Sophia was Fiery Fame's special pride. Colossal mosaics on backgrounds of gold adorned "the indestructible wall." The frescos painted by the artists from Constantinople have been preserved or carefully restored, and everywhere cover the pillars and the gilded vaults. Many of the mosaics and the Greek inscriptions still exist, and the traveller marvels at the quaint images of saints and doctors, angels and cherubim, the Virgin Mother of God, and the Last Supper, where a double Christ is represented giving his body to six of his disciples and to six others his blood.

Ancient Russian gateway


Kief at this time was composed of three separate parts, each with its own fortifications, churches, and schools. Merchants came from Holland, Hungary, Germany, and the far North, and made the eight markets lively with their babel of tongues, and covered the Dnieper with their ships and boats. Situated on the Great Water-Way to Constantinople, the city seemed a part of the empire to the Western writers, who called it the rival of the sceptre of Constantinople and the most famous glory of Greece.

The Russia of that early and heroic time was closely connected with Western Europe. Thither came as refugees a Swedish prince and Edwin and Edward, sons of Edmund Ironside, driven from England by the cruel young Cnut the Dane. St. Olaf, King of Norway, and his two sons spent their exile at the court of Kief. Fiery Fame married the daughter of King Olaf, and his sister, Marya, married Kasimir, King of Poland. His sons took for their wives the princesses of Poland and Constantinople, of Germany and England; his eldest son, the Prince of Novgorod, married Githa, daughter of Harold, King of England. His daughters also became the wives of kings: Anna married Henry I. of France, and the first King Philip was her son; Agmunda married Andrew I. of Hungary; and Harold the Brave, Prince and King of Norway, scorned the love of the Greek Empress Zoe, and fought the infidels in Africa and Sicily to prove himself worthy of the Princess Elizabeth, for whom he wrote this poem eight hundred years ago:—

"My ships have sailed the Sicilian Sea;

Their storm-browned hulls alive with intrepid warriors

Bore us on full of hope and dreaming of glorious combat.

I saw my vessel heed my voice and dash through the waves

And cross the wide seas. Alas, no more! I love;

And she whom I love, the daughter of Russia, scorns my love

"While young I was acquainted with dangers;

The inhabitants of Drontheim felt my courage.

They were an hundred to one;

How terrible our combat!

By my sword perished their haughty chief.

Vain success! A maid of Russia scorns my love.

"One day our vessel skimmed the waves.

Suddenly the sky grew black,

The wind roared, the waves submerged our deck,

But courage and ready hands defeated death.

My heart burned with hope.

O maid of Russia, wherefore scorn my love?

"I have a dozen claims for glory.

Bold in combat; I can tame the fiery steed;

Can swim the stormy sea, can skate the glassy ice;

Can pierce the bull's-eye with my spear;

And steer the fickle boat;

And yet the maid of Russia scorns my love!

"Wilt thou deny it, maiden young and proud?

Have I not come back from the walls

Of the Southern city, the hero of an hundred fights?

'Twas there I made my arms renowned,

And left the eternal memory of my name.

Why then, O maid of Russia, scorn my love?"

Fiery Fame founded schools and monasteries, he caused the Scriptures and many books written by the holy fathers—the lives of saints and romances—to be translated into Russian, and had coins struck for him by Greek founders with his Slav name on one side and his Christian name, George, on the other. He left a curious and somewhat barbarous code of laws: an assassin was left to the vengeance of his victim's family; a money-fine was to be paid for theft, assault, or other crimes; innocence or guilt was established by the ordeal of handling red-hot iron or plunging in boiling water. The judicial duel was also a part of the code; an Arabian writer thus describes it:—

"When one Russian hath a grievance against another he summons him to the tribunal of the prince and both present themselves before him. When the prince hath given his sentence his orders are executed. If his judgment is disputed, he bids them settle the matter with their swords. He whose sword cuts the sharpest gains the cause. When the duel takes place the friends of the two adversaries appear, armed to the teeth, and close the lists. The combatants then come to blows, and the victor can impose such conditions as he pleases."

Fiery Fame also confirmed the liberties and privileges of Novgorod and founded there another Cathedral of St. Sophia, one of the most precious remains of the Russian past.

Cathedral of St. Sophia, Novgorod


When he felt the end of his days draw nigh he summoned his children to his bedside, and said:—

"Behold, I am going to leave this world. Love one another, for you are children of the same father and the same mother. Let friendship and union reign among you; then will our Saviour abide with you, your enemies will be crushed, and you will live in peace. But if you hate each other and are divided you will come to destruction, and this country which your ancestors conquered with so much pains will be utterly overthrown."

Fiery Fame distributed among them his cities, and bade them obey their eldest brother, the Grand Prince of Kief, as they would obey their father; and he died and was buried in St. Sophia in a sarcophagus of white and blue marble sculptured with birds and trees.

Family Quarrels Among the Princes

The number of churches and monasteries in Kief in the time of Fiery Fame shows how fast Russia was changing from a pagan to a Christian state. But the fact that its religion came from Constantinople and not from Rome had a great influence upon its history.

The Roman Church, intrenched behind its secular power, and furnished with the keys of heaven and earth, armed with the thunderbolt of excommunication, and counting kings and emperors its humble vassals, was able to help the Spaniards in their struggle with the Moors or to lead crusades against the impious Turks. Russia, on the other hand, was left to grapple single-handed with the barbarian hordes of Asia. The princes of the Roman faith were dependent upon the Pope for their crowns; the higher classes of European society were sharply marked from the lower by their knowledge of the church language, the Latin tongue. In Russia the Church was independent of the civil power, was purely national; its services were conducted in a language known as well to the peasant as to the grand prince.

The Greek religion gave the Russian princes an idea of royal power which finally reached its full development in the tsars of Moscow. The princes of Kief were by no means sovereigns in the modern sense of the word, but rather powerful chiefs of bands who at any time were free to leave them and take service elsewhere. But the priests from Constantinople brought a new ideal: this was the emperor, "the heir of Augustus and Constantine the Great, the Vicar of God on earth, the typical monarch on whom the eyes of the barbarians of Gaul, as well as those of Scythia, were fixed."

Pope Sylvester II


"He did not consider his states as an inheritance to be divided among his children, but handed over to his successor the empire in its entireness. His power came to him not only from the people but from God himself; his imperial ornaments like his person had a sacred character, and if ever the barbarian kings came to Constantinople and begged for one of his jewelled crowns, his purple robe, his sceptre, or his brodekins, their answer was that when God gave the empire to Constantine he sent these vestments by the angels, that they were not the work of man, that they were laid upon the altar and worn by the emperor himself only on solemn occasions, and that Leo the Kozar was visited with a mortal ulcer because he put on the crown without the Patriarch's permission."

Whatever advantages of morals or civilization Christianity brought in its train, it did not secure the blessings of peace. The hundred and seventy years from the death of Fiery Fame till the Tartar invasion were filled with a varying succession of domestic and foreign wars. During this time sixty-four states rose and fell, two hundred and ninety-three princes disputed the throne of Kief, eighty-three civil wars wasted the country, and innumerable campaigns were fought with the barbarians. As the ruin of the civilized empire of the Kozars broke the barriers against the Petchenegs, so Fiery Fame's defeat of the Petchenegs opened the way for the Kumans, who alone invaded Russia forty-six times during these troublous years. The end of the world seemed to be at hand: there were terrible disasters on every side; fires, earthquakes, eclipses, comets, famines, and locusts. The chronicle says:—

"Cities were deserted; you might see on all sides villages on fire, churches, houses, barns, reduced to ash-heaps, and the wretched citizens either dying beneath the lashes of their enemies, or waiting death with horror. Prisoners, barefoot and naked, were dragged in chains to the far-off lands of the savages, and they said to one another, weeping, 'I am from such a Russian village, and I am from such a city.' On our plains no more cattle or horses were to be seen; the fields were full of weeds, and wild beasts ranged the places where Christians had lately dwelt."

If Greece and Switzerland by their mountains and valleys are countries meant by nature to be cut up into petty kingdoms or principalities, Russia, composed of one vast plain with hills nowhere more than three hundred and sixty meters above the level of the sea, and crossed by great rivers, those "roads that run," was equally fitted to be one united empire. That this empire was not sooner formed was due to the custom of the princes to divide their domain among all their sons. During the two centuries of family quarrels which followed Fiery Fame's death, Kief, "the mother of Russian cities," continued to be a goal for the ambition of all the descendants of Rurik. The Prince of Kief was the grand prince, and according to the Eastern or patriarchal idea the eldest of the family, whether uncle, brother, or son, always claimed the fair city as his seat; it was there that Olga and Oleg had gloriously reigned, that St. Vladimir had held his epic court, that Fiery Fame had built his numberless churches with their golden domes.

Fiery Fame's eldest son therefore mounted the throne of Kief, but, says the chronicle, "the devil sowed strife among his brethren," and they took up arms against him and forced him to seek refuge among the Poles, who treacherously robbed him of his furs and his cups of silver and gold, and refused to aid him. Henry IV., King of Germany, gave him asylum and sent an embassy to Kief bidding the usurper restore the throne to the rightful prince. The envoys were received with such civility and were so dazzled by the display of riches that they forgot their errand. The unfortunate grand prince did not return to his inheritance until the death of his rival; even then his reign was interrupted after two years by his death in battle with his nephew. He was an ideal of the princes of the sunny land of Kief: he was tall of stature and of goodly favor; his heart was tender and right before God. He was brave in war and merciful after the fight. He hated lies and the workers of deceit, and he returned good for evil. He loved the faithful soldier and scorned gold. He was a boon companion and liked good cheer and jovial feasts.



It was not his son Michael, called Holy Host, but his brother, the eldest of the family, who succeeded him on the throne of Kief, and reigned for fifteen years. He in turn was succeeded not by his son, Vladimir, surnamed Monomak, but by his nephew, Michael Holy Host. Vladimir was just and generous; he stepped down from the seat of power which he had shared with his father, and resigned the throne to his cousin, saying,—

"His father was older than mine and reigned first in Kief."

One of his cousins, angry at the loss of certain rich lands, brought a terrible army of Kumans and began to lay waste the regions around Kief. Vladimir Monomak called a congress of his nephews and cousins to talk over the evils of their common country. Sitting on the same carpet they swore to cease from civil war and to unite against the barbarians, and they kissed the cross, saying,—

"If any one break this oath and arm himself against his brother, let this holy cross and let all of us and let all Russia become his enemy."

But hardly had each gone to his newly allotted principality when a fresh trouble arose. Prince David of Galitch, in Red Russia, went to the grand prince and persuaded him that his nephew, Vasilko, was plotting against his life. The grand prince lured Vasilko to Kief on the occasion of a religious feast, and threw him in chains and brought him before the citizens and nobles, who said,—

"Prince, thou hast the right to watch over thy safety. If Prince David tells the truth, Vasilko is a traitor and deserves death, but if he lies, may the judgment and wrath of God fall upon him."

The grand prince lent too ready an ear to these libels, and gave Vasilko into the hands of his uncle David, who shut him up in a chamber in the White City and sent his men to punish him. They threw the wretched young man on the floor, bound him and tore out his eyes with a sharp knife. Vladimir was angry at this horrible crime, and uniting with his cousins, and forcing the grand prince to join with them, they marched against David and took away his principality.

When this affair was settled, Vladimir led the army of the princes against the Kumans. A great battle took place; the barbarians advanced in serried ranks like a forest, but suddenly they were filled with fear; they turned and fled, followed by the Russians. Twenty of their chiefs were left dead on the field, and one taken alive offered as a ransom gold, silver, and horses, and swore never again to take up arms against Russia. Vladimir distrusted his oath and had him hewn in pieces and seized his horses and cattle, his sheep and his camels, his embroidered robes, his slaves, and all his wealth.

When Michael Holy Host died the men of Kief swore that no one else but Vladimir should be their grand prince. Vladimir refused, and it was only after a riot broke out, followed by a general mobbing of the Jews, that he consented to mount the throne. He fought many successful battles against the barbarians on the shores of the Baltic, in the wilds of Finland, and in the Bulgarian lands of the Volga. The legend says that he sent an army against the Grecian Empire and Invaded Thrace. The Emperor in alarm sent the Bishop of Ephesos with costly gifts,—a cup of cornelian that once belonged to Augustus Caesar, the golden chain and necklace of his grandfather, Constantine Monomochos, a crucifix made of the wood of the true cross, and a crown and throne which are kept among the curiosities of the arsenal at Moscow.

Vladimir also made his power felt in many parts of Russia. Glieb, Prince of Minsk, went on a marauding expedition and carried off as slaves a host of men, women, and children to the banks of the Dvina, but Vladimir promptly sent his son against him and dethroned him, and took him to Kief, where he died in prison. Vladimir also meddled in the affairs of Novgorod and kept the turbulent city under control by requiring its chief boyars to be sent as hostages to his court.

Ravages of War


Vladimir left a curious will on parchment for the instruction of his sons. It gives a sort of autobiography of his long and eventful life, his labors, and his character:—

"All my great campaigns were eighty-three, and those of less account were without number. Twenty times less one I made peace with the Polovtsui, even while my father lived, and afterwards by myself alone. One hundred of their princes I have taken and freed, and two hundred I have hewed in pieces and drowned; Much pleasure also I took in the chase. I have captured a hundred wild bulls in a summer; bound together in the thickest forests tens and dozens of wild horses with my own hands. Twice, wild bulls with their horns have thrown me from my saddle. A reindeer gored me; an elk trampled me under its hoofs while its mate gored me. A wild boar tore away my knife from my belt. A bear tore through the blanket under my very knee. A fierce beast leaped upon me and threw my horse under me, but God preserved me in safety. Twice I broke my head. How many times I have fallen in my youth! I used to hurt my hands and my legs and my head. How my men had to work, but I also worked in war and in peace, night and day, in heat and cold, never giving myself rest. I never waited for officials or heralds, but I myself did the thing needful to be done. No one ever made swifter journeys than I. If I left Tchernigof at early morn I reached Kief before vespers. But think not, children, that I mean to boast. No, I praise God alone and glorify his grace that he kept so many years such a sinner as I from all mortal ills and made me active for every deed.

The cap of Monomakh


"Thus may you also, my children, fear death neither in war nor in peace, but do everything proper for man as God gives to you to do. If God think best, you will die not in battle, nor by wild beasts, nor by water, nor by stumbling horses; but if death is destined by God neither father nor brother will save you. Never forget the Lord in any place. Penitence, tears, and alms are not hard commands of the Lord; by them you will escape from your sins and gain the kingdom of heaven. Better than all, forget not the poor, feed them when you can; give to the orphan, and judge the cause of the widow, lest they come into the power of the violent man. Condemn to death neither the innocent nor the guilty; order no one to be put to death even though he be worthy of it; do not destroy a single Christian soul. Do not swear lightly, but when you have taken an oath keep it strictly. Love your wives, but beware lest they get the upper hand. Be not puffed up. We are all mortal; to-day alive, to-morrow in the tomb. Nothing that we have is ours, but all is a gift from God and for a day. Hide not your wealth in the earth; that is a grievous sin. Look upon the old man as your father, upon the young man as your brother.

"What you know forget not; what you do not know that learn. My father sitting at home learned five strange tongues. By our knowledge we are known in foreign lands; but the lazy forget even what they know. Let not the sun find you in bed. Thus did my father: having heard matins before the sunrise he praised the Lord and sat down with his men, or gave counsel to his people or went hunting. At noon he took a nap, since sleep, he said, was granted by God at noon, and at noon sleep birds, beasts, and men."

Such, in the early part of the twelfth century, while Louis VI. and Henry III. were fighting with their proud barons in France and England, was the pattern of a grand prince of Russia.

How Andrew, Autocrat of the North,
Destroyed Kief

The sons of Vladimir looked with longing eyes upon the principality of Kief, and for more than half a century their quarrels deluged the land with blood.

George Long-Hand, settled at Suzdal in the tranquil forests of the far North-west, was not content with the appanage which his father gave him, but spent all his strength in his struggle with his brother and nephews, the princes of Volynia and Galitch. After many adventures he had the comfort of gaining his end. He died in two years, however, at the moment when a league was forming to expel him. One of the leaguers, hearing the news, cried,—

"I thank thee, great God, that by the sudden death of our enemy, thou hast spared us the need of shedding his blood."

His son, Andrew God-loved, was a new type of prince: ambitious, sharp, close, shrewd, imperious, pitiless, the father of the tsars of Moscow, with not mg to recall the chivalrous, light-hearted, restless, careless princes of the South.

Andrew refused to heed his father's will, and divide his inheritance with his three brothers; they were forced to take refuge with their mother, a Greek princess, at the court of the Emperor Manuel at Constantinople. The men of Suzdal approved of this act, and by their own will chose Andrew as their prince. He had no wish to mount the throne of Kief, but let his nephews and cousins dispute the succession among themselves. The power of the royal city of the Dnieper was already beginning to wane. A great fire broke out the year before Monomak died, and burned two days, destroying hundreds of churches and laying the whole city in ashes. Andrew of Suzdal gave Kief its death-blow. He sent against it his son with an immense army brought by eleven princes who joined in the league. For three days they besieged the old city and at last took the walls by assault.

"Many times had this mother of Russian cities been besieged and oppressed. She had often opened to her enemies her Golden Gate, but none before had ever entered by force. To their eternal shame the victors forgot that they too were Russians. For three days not only the houses but the monasteries, churches, and even the temples, St. Sophia and the 'Tithe,' were given over to pillage. The precious pictures, the priestly ornaments, the books, and the bells, all were taken away."

After sacking the capital of St. Vladimir, Andrew attacked Novgorod, but when the citizens saw the foe under their walls and remembered what fate had befallen the city of the Dnieper, they swore to die for their laws and liberties, for their holy church St. Sophia. John, their archbishop, took the wonder-working picture of the Mother of God and paraded it with great pomp around the walls; and the story is told that when an arrow shot by a soldier of Suzdal struck the sacred image of the Virgin, she turned her face toward the city and deluged the archbishop's robes with a flood of miraculous tears. Instant panic seized the besiegers; they fled in dismay, and the men of Novgorod made so many prisoners that, as their annalist contemptuously said, "You could buy six Suzdalians for half a silver pound." The Novgorodians had to go to Suzdal for bread, and they were soon led to make peace and accept the prince whom Andrew imposed upon them. At this time his only son died, but this misfortune did not curb his haughtiness and ambition. Venging Fame the Brave, of Smolensk, and his brothers rebelled against him, dared his threats, and took Kief. Andrew sent a herald to them, saying,—

"Ye are rebels, the principality of Kief is mine;" and bade them to go back, each to his own place.

Venging Fame the Brave, says the annalist, feared no one but God, and when he heard Andrew's message he insulted the herald by shaving off his hair and beard and said,—

"Go tell these words to thy prince: Until now we have been glad to look upon thee as a father, but since thou dost not blush to treat us like slaves and common people, since thou hast forgotten that thou art speaking to princes, we laugh at thy threats: fulfil them; we appeal to the judgment of God."

Andrew was angry at the insult and the bold message, and sent an army under twenty vassal princes to carry out his vengeance. They besieged the "Brave" for several months in a fortress not far from Kief, but the judgment of God upheld the disobedient prince; he divided his enemies' forces, made a victorious sortie, and put them to flight.

The next year Andrew's nobles, spurred on by his wife, resolved to free themselves from his tyranny. They fell upon him by night in his favorite palace and cruelly murdered him.

Andrew God-loved was three centuries ahead of his time. He saw the influence which the clergy had upon the common people, and he won the friendship of the priests, "posing as a pious prince," often rising by night to worship in the cathedral, and giving liberal alms to the poor.

He had a thorough distrust of popular liberty, and rather than make his residence at either of the chief cities of his province he chose to live free from the annoyances of city liberties and institutions in a small town named after his grandfather, Vladimir. He told his subjects that as he slept one night in his tent pitched beside the road to Suzdal, the Mother of God carne to him in a dream and bade him take her miraculous image, the handiwork of the Apostle Luke, to Vladimir and make it his capital. He also built a church and monastery on the spot where the Virgin showed herself to him, and it was in his wooden palace at the village which sprang up around it that his boyars put him to death. Andrew, taking the title of grand prince, made Vladimir a new Kief. The chronicle mentions a fire which broke out ten years after his death and destroyed two hundred and thirty churches and the Cathedral of Our Lady, with its golden dome and all its precious ornaments, its lustres and silver lamps, its costly utensils, the robes of the priests adorned with gold and pearls, and its wonder-working pictures framed in beautiful jewels.

"Andrew's distrust of popular liberty, his despotic treatment of the boyars, his efforts to suppress the appanages, his proud bearing toward the other Russian princes, his alliance with the clergy, and his plan of transporting the religious metropolis of all the Russias to the valley of the Oka, are signs of a political programme which ten generations of princes failed to carry out. The hour was not yet come; Andrew had not enough power, nor Suzda1 resources enough, to subjugate the rest of Russia."

The Rival Princes of Suzdal and Galitch

The death of this premature autocrat was followed by great troubles and riots. The courtiers plundered his palace and carried off all his gold and silver and his fur-lined robes; the common people broke into the houses of the rich and committed many murders; the magistrates were powerless to restrain them, and the clergy were obliged to parade the sacred images about the streets to restore order. As Andrew left no children the throne of Suzda1 was disputed by his brothers and nephews who had returned from Constantinople.

The ancient cities, envious of the upstart capital, formerly a mere borough dependent upon them, upheld the nephews. Vladimir took the part of Andrew's brothers. The men of Rostof said, —

"We will destroy the city of Vladimir, we will reduce it to ashes, we will make their generals prisoners; they shall be our servants and our serfs."

But in the war which followed, the new city was victorious, and caused Andrew's brother Michael to be recognized as grand prince.

The same trouble arose at his death; the men of Rostof refused to obey the second brother, who was surnamed Big Nest, from his large family. They declared that their arms alone should do them justice upon the vile populace of Vladimir. A second time the men of Vladimir were successful. Big Nest mounted the throne and reigned six and thirty years.

This prince, who has likewise been called "the Great," showed in his acts" the foresight, the spirit of intrigue, the constancy and firmness" which marked the Russian princes of the northern forests. He reduced proud Novgorod to ask for his son, Constantine.

"Lord and Grand Prince," said the envoys of the city to him, "our country is thy inheritance; we beg thee to send us the grandson of George Long-Hand, the great-grandson of Monomak, to be our prince."

He added the states of Riazan to his domains, burned its capital, and transplanted the inhabitants to the wilds of the North. He was connected by marriage with many powerful princes.

After his death the quarrels began anew. Three of his sons kindled a general civil war which was remarkable for its savage cruelty. The order was that no quarter be given, and that the princes of the blood, "those with embroideries of gold upon their shoulders," should be cut down without mercy. At the battle of Lipetsk nine thousand Battle of men were killed, and only sixty prisoners were taken. Big Nest's second son, George, disguised himself and escaped by hard riding. He wore out three horses, and on a fourth just managed to reach Vladimir. A turn in fortune, however, the next year made him grand prince.



George was full of enterprise, and made many expeditions by land and along the Volga against the Bulgars, whose wooden forts and villages he burned. During one campaign in which he swept the whole length of the great river, he noticed a hill not far from where the Oka and Volga join their waters and make an inland lake. Here he founded a city which he called Nether Newborough, or Lower Novgorod, which afterwards became famous as the seat of the great Year Market, or fair. It often drew three hundred thousand visitors from the merchant lands of Europe and Asia .

A tradition kept by the tribe of Mordva, in whose midst the new town was built, commemorates this event: "The Prince of the Russias was sailing down the Volga. On the mountain he saw the Mordva, in long white coats, adoring their god, and he said to his warriors,—

"What are those white birches that bend and sway up there above the nurse, the earth, and bow toward the east?'

"And he sent his men to look closer, and they came back, and said,—

"'They are not birches bending and swaying; it is the Mordva worshipping their god. In their vessels they have delicious beer; omelets hang from sticks; in pots their priests are cooking meat.'

"And when the elders of the Mordva learned of the coming of the Russian prince they sent young men with beer and meat; but on the way the young men ate the meat and drank the beer, and to the Russian prince they brought only earth and water. The prince rejoiced at this gift and considered it a sign of submission on the part of the Mordva. He continued his voyage down the Volga; where he threw on the bank a handful of this earth a town was born; where he threw a pinch. of this earth a village was born. Thus the Mordvan land was conquered by the Russians."

The Princes of Western Russia

The, Tartars put an end to George's plans of conquest; but before entering upon the details of this era of barbarian invasion it will be well. to look at Western or Red Russia, taken from Poland by Fiery Fame, and left by his grandson, Monomak. to George Long-Hand's elder brother. With the decline of Kief, caused by the feuds between Suzdal and Galitch, the unity of Russian history was broken. The title of grand prince, formerly borne only by the rulers of Kief, was taken also by the rival families of Tchernigof and Smolensk, of Galitch and Suzdal. Three centuries later Moscow became the centre about which the empire of all the Russias was formed.

Red Russia, or Galitch, was famous for its fabulous wealth and strength. An early poet, the son of the founder of its capital, sings of one of its princes:—

"Thou art seated very high on thy throne of wrought gold;

With thy regiments of iron thou upholdest the Carpathians;

Thou closest the gates of the Danube,

Thou barrest the way to the King of Hungary,

At thy will thou openest the gates of Kier;

From afar thou strikest with thy arrows."

Here from early times the nobles had more power than the princes who were elected by an assembly and kept the crown by its consent. When the prince celebrated in the poem neglected Olga, his lawful wife, the nobles waxed indignant, burnt his favorite alive, and obliged him to proclaim Olga's son, Vladimir, as his heir.

Vladimir became prince, but surpassed his father in wickedness, and seeing that he was in danger from his angry people he took his family and his treasures and fled to Bela, King of Hungary, who raised an army with which to restore the fugitive to the throne. But when the king saw how rich and beautiful Galitch was, he wanted the country for himself. He threw Vladimir into prison and raised his own son, Andrew, to the throne. The nobles soon rebelled at the heavy Hungarian yoke, drove out the strangers, and recalled Vladimir, who had escaped to the court of Frederic Red Beard.

After his death the warlike and energetic Roman of Volynia determined to mount the throne of Galitch, and with an allied army furnished by the King of Poland he entered the principality and reduced the proud nobles to terms. He promised to pardon such fugitives as would return, but when he had them in his power he accused them of plotting; and saying, "To eat a drop of honey ill peace you must first kill the bees," he gave them over to the most horrible tortures, quartering them, burning them, burying them alive, and riddling them with arrows. Their estates he took for himself.

"Roman the Great, the Autocrat of all the Russias," as he was called, fought many battles with the Kumans and the Lithuanians. After one of his victories over the latter he harnessed his prisoners to the plough and drove them across the fields. "Evil art thou, Roman, thou ploughest Lithuania," says the proverb, and long after his day Lithuanian mothers used his terrible name to frighten their children. He mixed in the civil wars of Russia and was victorious; he gave the throne of Kief to his son, Venging Fame.

The chronicle says of him:—

"He walked in the way of God, cut in pieces the heathen, flung himself like a lion upon the infidels, was savage as a wildcat, destructive as a crocodile, swooping upon his prey like an eagle."

The Pope sent him missionaries, who said,—

"Be a convert to the Catholic faith, and by the sword of St. Peter thou shalt be a great king."

Roman drew his own sword, and answered proudly,—

"Has the Pope a sword like mine? While I wear it by my side I need not the blade of another."

At last, in a war with Poland, his zeal carried him. too far away from his army and he was overpowered and killed.

As Roman's son, Daniel, was a young boy and his mother had not the strength to be his regent, Red Russia at once fell a prey to terrible factions. The Poles and Hungarians tried to get the upper hand; Venging Fame the Rash, of Smolensk, son of "the Brave," came in search of adventure and drove out the Hungarians. He took the title of Prince and married his daughter to Daniel, to whom he gave Volynia. The two princes were immediately involved in a war with Poland, in which Daniel showed great valor. After the death of his father-in-law he became Prince of Galitch and ruled with a firm hand. The Tartars, whom he was one of the first to beard, drove him from the throne and covered his country with ruins.

When the scourge had passed he returned, and by an offer of great privileges he induced a host of Germans, Armenians, and Jews to fill the voids in his population. By this measure he stimulated commerce and industry. The Jewish element thus introduced proved, as everywhere else in the world, to be alien and hateful to the natives, and ever since there have been periodical outbreaks of persecution against the Jews in Polish Russia, arising from the envy of their great financial success, and from their exactions.

Daniel promised the Pope of Rome that he would do his best to help unite the two churches, and he offered to join in the crusade against the Tartars. The Pope wrote him an affectionate letter calling him his dear son, gave him the title of King, and sent him a crown and sceptre. He was solemnly crowned by the Abbot of Messina. He did not fulfil his engagements, however, and the new Pope overwhelmed him with reproaches and threats, but he still kept the title of King Daniel took an active part in the wars of Europe, but he was not able to hold his own against the Tartars. He was obliged to dismantle his fortresses and submit to the horde.

"Thou hast done well to come at last," said the khan, who treated him honorably, and gave him wine to drink when he saw that the sour milk of the Tartars was not to his taste.

The civil wars of his youth, his struggle with the hordes of Asia, his dealings with the West, make the story of his checkered career one of the most romantic in Russian history. A chronicler describes how "the Hungarians admired the order that reigned among his troops, the magnificence of the prince, his Greek habit, embroidered with gold, his sabre, and his arrows, his saddle, enriched with jewels and precious metals richly chased." "No prince," says a French writer, "better deserved to free Southern Russia, but his activity and talents struggled in vain against the fate of his country." After his death Galitch passed to different princes of his family and was finally absorbed into the Kingdom of Poland.

The Coming of the Tartars

Who were the Tartars? A Chinaman, writing six hundred years ago, says of them:—

"The Ta-tzi, or the Das, are entirely busied with their flocks; they go wandering ceaselessly from pasture to pasture, from river to river. They know not the nature of a town or a wall; they are unacquainted with writing and books; their treaties are made orally. From infancy they are wont to ride horses, to shoot their arrows at birds and rats, and thus they gain the courage needful for their life of war and rapine. They have neither religious ceremonies nor courts of justice. From the prince to the lowest man of the tribe, all feed on the flesh of such animals as they kill, and they dress in skins and furs. The strongest among them have the largest and fattest morsels at feasts; the old men eat and drink the remains. They respect naught but strength and courage; they scorn age and weakness. When the father dies his son marries the youngest wives."

The Tartars were armed with lances, axes, and lassos; with them came a multitude of wagons filled with their provisions; when they encamped they used felt tents. An ancient writer thus describes them to one of the popes:—

"On the east side of Moscow are the Scythians, which are now-a-days called Tartars, a wandering nation, and at all ages famed in war. In the stead of houses they use wagons covered with hides. For cities and towns they use great tents and pavilions, not defended by trenches or walls of timber or stone, but enclosed with a numberless host of archers on horseback. The Tartars are divided into companies which they call Hordes, which word in their tongue signifies a consenting company of people gathered together in form of a city."



"For person and complexion," says a quaint old English writer, "they have broad and flat visages of a tanned color, yellow and black, fierce and cruel looks, thin haired upon the upper lip and a pit on the chin, light and nimble bodied, with short legs, as if they were made naturally for horse men: whereto they practise themselves from their childhood, seldom going a foot about any business. Their speech is very sudden and loud, speaking as it were out of a deep hollow throat. When they sing you would think a cow lowed or some great ban dog howled. Their greatest exercise is shooting, wherein they train up their children from their very infancy, not suffering them to eat till they have shot near the mark within a certain scantling."[original spelling corrected]

The Tartars had no infantry in battle, and when they wanted to take a city they rode up to it on their fiery little horses, and obliged the natives of the surrounding villages to lug a quantity of wood, stones, and other things whereby they filled up the ditches or reached the level of its walls. "In the capture of a town," says a Chinese author, "the loss of ten thousand men was a mere trifle. No place could resist them. When once they had possession they put to death the whole population, old and young, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, those who resisted and those who yielded."

Tartar man


These rough tribes of Mongols living at the foot of the Altai Mountains were united into a conquering army under an energetic prince living near the river Amur. On the death of this conqueror, his son, a lad of thirteen, found himself the lord of fifty thousand families. Many of the subject tribes tried to break away fro him,[ but he seized their leaders, plunged seventy of them into boiling water, and after forty years of obscure struggles he freed himself from the overlordship of the Chinese Emperor, and was acknowledged to be Chingis-Kan, the Lord of the earth.

At the head of an immense army he crossed the famous wall of China and made himself master of ninety cities. The Emperor sent him as a sign of submission a thousand beautiful young men and women, three thousand heroes and great treasures of silk and gold. This tribute did not stop his progress. Peking fell before his legions and was given to the flames. Then he crossed the lands of "the great and mighty Saladin," burnt Samarkand and the capital of Bukhara, and for three years ravaged the plains of Western Asia, and made such devastation that to this day Turkestan has not recovered from the disaster.

Tartar woman


While the "Chief of the Kans" was subduing Bukhara he sent two of his generals around the Caspian Sea. They conquered a host of Turkish tribes, passed Georgia and the Caucasus, and on the level steppes of. Southern Russia measured their arms with the Kumans, the ancient enemies of the Russians.

Basti, the Kan of the Kumans, sent a message to the princes of Kief and Suzdal and Galitch:—

"To-day they have taken our land, to-morrow they will take yours."

Venging Fame the Rash, and the brave Daniel, persuaded all the princes of Southern and Western Russia to go to the defence of Basti, who in honor of the alliance was baptized.

The Russian princes of Galitch and Volynia, Chernigof and Smolensk, Novgorod and Kief, assembled on the banks of the Dnieper, and the Tartars sent them ambassadors, who said,—

"We are come by the will of God against our slaves and grooms, the cursed Kumans. Be at peace with us, we have no quarrel with you."

But the princes put the ambassadors to death and marched nine days into the steppe. On the banks of the little Kalka stream flowing into the Sea of Azof, they caught the first glimpse of the many-colored tents of the Tartar host extending as far as the eye could reach.

Venging Fame the Rash, and Daniel of Volynia, without waiting for any signal or giving any warning, but wishing only to win fame, dashed into the midst of the Asiatic horsemen, and the battle raged with instant fury. Suddenly their allies, the Kumans, were seized with a panic and doubled back upon the Russians carrying' disorder into the ranks. The Tartars, with shouts and yells, and sending showers of arrows, rushed in pursuit and drove the fugitives before them. The rout became general; the battle was lost. Seven princes and seventy of the chief captains or boyars were among the slain. Nine-tenths of the army were destroyed. Kief alone lost ten thousand men. Its grand prince, abandoned by his allies, remained in a fortified camp on the banks of the Kalka, and tried to defend himself.•

"Pay us ransom for thyself and thy chief men, and thou shalt be allowed to depart in peace," said the Tartar Kan; but the barbarian broke his word as soon as the ransom was paid, hewed to pieces the prince's guard, stifled him and his two sons-in-law under planks, and held high carnival over their bodies.

Instead of following up his advantage, the Chief of the Kans recalled his Tartars to Northern China, and three years later died, leaving to his four sons one of the greatest empires that the world had ever seen.

The Russians, who thought that these wild tribes were the hosts of Gog and Magog, foretelling the end of the world, soon forgot the danger which had threatened them, and for a dozen years more their princes quarrelled to their hearts' content, not heeding the fatal omens, the famines and pestilences, fires, comets, earthquakes, and eclipses which we know by the chronicles warried the land.



When Oktai, the eldest son of the Great Kan, had established his power and brought the nations of Asia to terms, he sent his nephew, the terrible Baty, with an army as numberless as the locusts, to conquer the lands north of the Caspian Sea. Baty crossed the Ural Mountains and came down into the valley of the Volga, where he burned the great city, capital of the half-civilized Bulgars, and put the inhabitants to the sword.

Then pressing on directly west through miles of unbroken forest, he entered the heart of Russia, and sent a sorcerer and two heralds to the princes of Riazan, saying:—

"If you want peace give us a tenth of your goods."

The Russian princes replied:—

"When we are dead you can take all that we have."

They asked help in vain of the selfish princes of Tchernigof and George II. of Suzdal. Nevertheless they bravely advanced to meet the Tartar Kan. Baty was victorious. Nearly all the princes of Riazan and their allies were left dead upon the field. But the Russians did splendid deeds of valor. Prince Theodore fought like a hero to prevent his young wife from falling into Baty’s hands, but he was crushed by superior forces, and his princess, when she heard that he was dead, took their little son and leaped from the upper window of her apartment. Oleg the Handsome was found alive on the battle-field and brought before the Kan, who offered him his life if he would accept the Tartar religion, worship the sun, and serve him. But the brave prince rejected the temptation and was hewn in pieces. Then the Tartars went through the provinces, sacking the cities and killing the inhabitants. George II. of Suzdal, who had refused to come to the aid of Kief, or Riazan, was now punished for his selfishness. His army was beaten on the Oka; Moscow, and a multitude of other towns were burned and sacked. He left his two sons to defend Vladimir, which. the Tartars closely invested. Princes and nobles chose death rather than servitude. The bishop gave them all the holy sacrament, and they shut themselves into the cathedral with their wives and children and perished in the flames.

The Tartars scaled the walls, sprung the gates, and swarmed through the city; the streets ran with blood. The Grand Prince was in camp on the bank of the river Sit, not far from Novgorod, whither he went to raise a new army. He hastened back to save his capital, but when he heard of the fate of the citizens and of his family he cried:—

"Better for me were it to perish than to live to see this day! Why am I left alone? "

The Mongol host drew nigh and George gave them gallant fight, but it was all in vain. The Tartar cavalry overrode his men-at-arms and swept them down. The Grand Prince himself was slain, and after the battle the Bishop of Rostof found his headless body. His nephew, Vasilko, was taken prisoner, and his noble face, his bravery, his genial manners greatly pleased the victors. "Be our friend," said they, "and fight under the standard of the Great Baty." "The enemies of my fatherland and of Christ can never be my friends," was his reply. "Great as is my woe, ye will never force me to fight against Christians. Thy destruction also is at hand, O heavy and cursed power! "

The Tartars, grinding their teeth with rage, stabbed the young hero and threw his body into the underbrush.

The devastating host swept on. "Villages and cities disappeared, and the heads of the Russians fell beneath the swords of the Tartars as grass falls beneath the scythe." Only the deep forests and the impassable marshes and the rivers, swollen by the spring rains, spared Novgorod the Great. Baty came within one hundred kilometers of the old city, then he turned toward the south. The little town of Kozelsk made such a determined resistance, caused them such a long delay and so much loss of life, that the Tartars called it the "Wicked City." When at last they took it they set it on fire, exterminated the inhabitants, and drowned the young prince in blood.

Two years were spent in desolating Southern Russia. At last it came the turn of Kief. Long stood the Kan on the left bank of the Dnieper, admiring the beautiful city rising on the opposite hills, with its white walls of cut stone, reflected in the wide river, with its lofty towers, its churches with golden domes shining in the sun.

The barbarian offered terms of surrender, but the men of Kief, though their princes fled and though they knew well how other states had fared, put the Kan's envoys to death and waited their fate. The annalist says that as the main army drew nigh, so loud was the grinding of the wooden chariots, the bellowing of buffaloes, the cries of the camels, the neighing of the horses, and the ferocious shouts of the Tartars, that men could not hear each other's voices in the heart of the town.

The barbarians assailed the Polish gate and the walls with their rude battering-rams. Dimitri, a noble of Galitch, the deputy of Prince Daniel, headed the citizens in holding the ramparts until sunset.

Then they retreated to the Church of the Tithe and built a palisade, behind which the next day they perished on the tomb of Fiery Fame. The brave Dimitri was spared by the Kan, but the mother of Russian cities was pillaged for the third time, and from this blow it never recovered. The Church of the Tithe was dismantled; even Saint Sophia and the Monastery of the Caves were plundered. This was the convent where the saints bricked themselves into cells which became their tombs, and where their bodies stayed incorruptible. It is now one of the "Holy Places,” and every year three hundred thousand of the faithful make pilgrimages to the city and bow before the holy relics of the past.

Tartar Kan at home


All Russia, except Novgorod and the northwest country, was now in the power of the Tartars. Few of the princes remained; the most were dead or in exile. Many of the richest citizens were dragged into bondage; "the wives of boyars who had never known toil, who but a short time since had been clothed in rich raiment, adorned with jewels and collars of gold, surrounded by slaves, were now made to be the slaves of barbarians, and of their wives, turning the stone of the mill and cooking their coarse food."

Baty invaded Hungary and fought with the Poles in Silicia, but was long checked by a gallant noble in Moravia. Europe was terror-struck by the danger.

The Pope, whose help was asked by Daniel, Prince of Galitch, summoned Christendom to arms. Lewis IX; of France got ready for a crusade. The Emperor Frederic wrote to the Kings of the West:—

"This is the moment to open the eyes of body and soul when the brave princes on whom we reckoned are dead or in slavery."

Just as the King of Bohemia and the Dukes of Austria and Karinthia were mustering their forces to oppose the conquering Kan, the second ruler of the vast Mongol Empire died, and his nephew deemed it best to withdraw.

On his way back he founded, on one of the branches of the lower Volga, a city which he called the Castle, and which became the capital of the Golden Horde, or the Kipchak, a powerful empire reaching from the Ural Mountains to the Danube, whose Tsars or Kans exacted tribute of money and furs and military aid from the nations under their sway.

The envoy of one of the popes gives this picture of Baty's court:—

"It is crowded and brilliant. His army numbers six hundred thousand men, a quarter of whom are Tartars, the rest foreign contingents, Christians as well as infidels. On Good Friday we were led to the Kan's tent between two fires, because the Tartars believe that fire purifies everything and takes away even the strength of hid poison. We had to make many salaams and enter the tent without touching the threshold. Baty was on the throne with one of his wives; his brothers, his children, and the Tartar lords were seated on benches; the rest of the assembly were on the ground, the men on the right, the women on the left. The Kan and the lords of his court from time to time emptied cups of silver and gold, while musicians made the air resound with melodies. Baty has a bright face, he is rather affable with his men, but people in general are stricken with terror before him."

The Mongol Kans, having brought Russia into subjection, contented themselves with a general overlordship, leaving the native laws, courts, and government. The Russian princes were allowed to keep their titles, but they were forced to do homage at the Horde and pay terrible taxes. The cruel baskaks, or tax collectors of the Kans, were often the cause of revolts in the Russian cities.

The Golden Horde was at first bound to the authority of the Grand Kans of Asia, but under the fourth successor of Chingis, the vassalage was shaken off and the Golden Horde became independent. About fifty years after the battle of the Kalka the Tartars accepted the faith of Mahomet and became the fiercest champions of Islam.

The Story of Alexander, Hero of the Neva

On the tragic death of George II., his brother, the active and prudent Fiery Fame, went from Novgorod to the throne of Suzdal. He waited till the Tartars returned to the East and then he came to his inheritance, which he found in a sad plight: "cut up by the feet of horses, fertilized with human blood, white with bones, where sorrow grew abundantly." He called his frightened subjects from the forests where they were hiding, caused the roads and fields to be cleared of the unburied bodies, and began to rebuild the ruined villages and towns. Finally Baty sent him a haughty summons to come to his court at Sarai. The grand prince dared not disobey, and accompanied by a few nobles he presented himself before the Tartar Kan.

Baty received him with honor and confirmed his title of grand prince, but obliged him to pay homage in person to the new Master of the World, whose splendid palace was on the banks of the Amur. Fiery Fame made the terrible journey across Europe and Asia, through deserts and once prosperous countries ravaged by the barbarian armies. He humbled himself before the Grand Kan of the Mongol Empire, succeeded in disproving the charges brought against him by one of his subjects, and after a delay of several months was again assured of his title and allowed to return.

He had made only a few hundred leagues into the sandy deserts when thirst and exhaustion overcame him; his faithful followers bore his remains to the city of Vladimir and placed them in the cathedral. The envoy of Pope Innocent IV. saw the whitened bones of the men who perished with him lying unburied in the sands of the steppe.

His son, Andrew, became Grand Prince of Suzdal, and his son, Alexander, remained Prince of Novgorod. Alexander, even before the arrival of the Tartars, had won fame by his battles with the Swedes and Finns, led by the German order of Sword-brothers.

The provinces along the Baltic had long been considered by the Russians of Novgorod to be their property, but at the time when the German merchants of the Hanse towns came to swallow up all the commerce of Northern Russia, the Archbishop of Bremen sent missionaries to convert the natives to Roman Catholicism. "The banners of the strangers waved," says a native poem, "the intruders made us slaves, enchained us as the serfs of tyrants, forced us to be their servants; the priests strangled us with their rosaries, greedy knights plundered us, troops of brigands ravaged our land, armed murderers cut us to pieces, the father of the cross stole our riches, stole our treasures from the hiding-places, attacked the tree, the sacred tree, polluted the waters and the fountain of life; the axe smote on the oak of Tara, the woeful hatchet on the tree of Kero."

The natives soon rose against their oppressors, washed oft their baptism by plunging into the sacred waters of the Dvina, and returned to their old gods. But the Pope preached a crusade against them, and Bishop Albert, "the true founder of the German rule in Livonia," came against them with a fleet of three and twenty ships, built Riga and many fortresses of cemented stone, and established the order of the Brothers of the Army of Christ, or the Sword-bearers, who, dressed in their white mantles, with red crosses on their shoulders, and uniting with the Black Cross Knights of the Teutonic order, in their zeal for their religion and commerce, soon found themselves at issue with the men of Novgorod concerning the lands along the Neva and the Gulf of Finland.

The men of Novgorod helped the natives resist the Latin faith, and King John of Sweden, having obtained from Pope Gregory IX. full indulgence, sent his son-in-law, Burger, against Novgorod and the pagans of Livonia.

"Defend thyself if thou canst. Know that I am already in thy provinces," was the challenge which he sent to Alexander, the son of Fiery Fame.

The prince went to the cathedral of St. Sophia, received the blessing of the archbishop, and then called upon his brave soldiers to follow him to victory. Without having time to ask aid from Suzdal, he went out against the Swedes.

Burger's tent


The story goes that on the night before the battle one of the elders of a pagan tribe who had been converted was standing on guard, and about the murky dawn he saw a wondrous vision: a boat, rapidly rowed by ghostly oarsmen, came gliding down the Neva, and in the midst of it stood the martyred saints, Boris and Glieb, in shining raiment, and Boris said,—

"Brother Glieb, we must row faster, so as to help our kinsman, Alexander."

The guard hastened to the prince with the tale of his vision, and Alexander, encouraged, gave instant battle, and won a splendid victory on the banks of the Neva. He did great deeds of valor and" imprinted the seal" of his lance on Burger's face. His warriors were no whit behind him in prowess. One of them, on horseback, pursued the Swedish commander even into a ship, and when the Swedes rallied and hurled him into the water, he escape to the shore and again mingled in the ranks of his foes, sowing destruction on every side.

Another on foot captured three Swedish galleys and brought them in. A third dashed up to Burger's tent of cloth of gold and hewed down the ashen post amid the joyful shouts of his friends. Three ship-loads of dead the Swedes carried away, and a numberless host were buried in a ditch dug along the shore.

When, nearly five centuries later, Peter the Great founded his capital on the Neva the conqueror of the Swedes became one of the patron saints of the city, and his bones repose in the monastery of Alexander Nevski.

The men of Novgorod, forgetting his services, quarrelled with the prince and allowed him to go into exile, and then the Sword-brothers took Pskof, imposed tribute on the vassal tribes, and plundered their merchants almost under their very walls. Alexander was persuaded by the archbishop and the people to return. He collected an army, expelled the Germans from Pskof, hanged the prisoners who fell into his hands, and gave battle to the Livonian order on the ice of the Finnish Lake, where he killed four hundred Sword-brothers and triumphantly brought back to Novgorod fifty in chains. A few years later, when Alexander Nevski had concluded peace with the Germans, the Pope of Rome, deceived by a lying tale, sent two cardinals with a letter, calling him a devoted son of the Church, and begging him to fulfil the desires of his sire, Fiery Fame, who died a convert at the Horde, and thus secure the protection and blessing of the father of the faithful, who sat on the throne of St. Peter. Alexander replied,—

"We wish to follow the doctrines of the true church. As for your doctrines, we have no wish to adopt them or to know them."

Although Novgorod was the only Russian city which the Tartars had not sacked and burned, it was not to escape the exactions of the Kan. Baty heard of Alexander's bravery, and one day a messenger appeared before the prince with a letter which read:—

"Prince of Novgorod, God has put many nations under me; wilt thou alone resist? If thou wishest to keep thy land, come to me, and thou shalt behold the grandeur and glory of my sway."

Alexander, knowing that to gainsay this summons was madness, went with his brother, Andrew, to Sarai, whence they were both sent, like their father before them, across the measureless deserts to the Grand the Horde. The Grand Kan received them kindly, confirmed them in their titles, and let them go, giving them costly gifts.

Three years later Baty's brother and successor at Sara! ordered a census to be taken and an immense tribute to be levied over all Russia. The men of Novgorod took to this by no means kindly; when the posadni, or burgomaster, declared in the popular assembly that they must needs bow before the strongest, a terrible cry arose and a tumult; the posadnik was torn to pieces.

The prince's son, Basil, declared against a father "who brought slavery upon free men;" the council voted to withhold the tribute, and sent back the envoys with gifts. Alexander was wiser; he arrested his son and threw him into prison; he punished the nobles who joined in the hubbub; some he hanged; he plucked out the eyes and cut off the noses of others; and then sent word to the Kan that Novgorod would humble itself to the census.

The Tartars entered the city and haughtily began their work. The inhabitants assembled around the cathedral of St. Sophia and said they would die for liberty and honor, and it was with difficulty that the prince kept them from falling on the baskaks and putting them to death. Only his threat to leave the city to the Kan's wrath brought them to terms. The insolent registers were then allowed to proceed in peace through the silent and deserted streets of the humiliated town.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The inhabitants of the other cities which belonged to Alexander's princedom revolted and murdered the tax collectors. Alexander, knowing his risk of the Kan's vengeance, again set out for the Horde to tender his excuses. He was forgiven, in spite of the many charges against him, but was kept for a year at the court of Saral, and his health broke down.

On his way back he died and a herald brought the tidings to the Metropolitan bishop as he was performing the service in the cathedral of Vladimir. The bishop turned to the people and said, —

"Know, dear children, that the sun of Russia is set."

And the people burst into sobs, and cried,—

"We are lost! we are lost!"

Novgorod, the Great Merchant Commonwealth

From earliest times Novgorod, or New Town, was the chief city of Northwestern Russia. Its possessions included the regions surrounding the great lakes and extended to the Frozen Ocean, and to the wilds of Siberia. Numberless cities paid tribute to "Lord Novgorod the Great."

A French traveller, who visited Russia early in the fifteenth century, has left us this description of the city:—

Novgorod is a prodigiously large town situated in a beautiful plain amid vast forests. The soil is low, subject to floods, marshy in places. The town is surrounded by poor ramparts made of screens filled with earth; the towers are of stone."

Novgorod was divided into halves by a deep and rapid river flowing from Lake Ilmen to Lake Ladoga. A bridge, famous in the annals of the town, joined the two parts. On the right bank was the Kreml, or Castle, built of hewn stone in the fourteenth century, and containing the palaces of the archbishop and the prince. This side was called Saint Sophia, and it was here that Fiery Fame the Great built his splendid cathedral. In the church are still preserved the ancient frescos• the pillars overlaid with gold and painted with pictures of the saints, stand as they were six hundred years ago. The legend says that Christ appeared to the artist who was charged to paint his image on the dome of Saint Sophia and said:—

"Represent me not with my hand stretched out for blessing. but with my hand closed, because within it I hold Novgorod, and when it is opened it will be the end of the city."

Seal of Novogorod


The Christ of the dome looks down upon the tombs of princes and archbishops, upon the bronze coffin of Venging Fame the Brave, the defender of Novgorod, and upon the banner of the Virgin, which so often revived the fainting courage of the battlers on the walls.

On the left bank of the river was the side of Commerce, with its Court of Fiery Fame, and its quarters named after the Carpenters, the Slav's, and the Germans.

The marshy, sandy soil of Novgorod was more fertile of famines and fevers than of food; its earliest record is that of a pestilence. In order for its one hundred thousand inhabitants to live, new cities had to be constantly founded in the forests of the north and east, its merchants had to trade with the tribes of the Urals, with the Slavs of the Baltic, with the Germans of the Hanse towns, with the oriental bazaars of Constantinople. The Greek annals tell how in the tenth century the Slavs of "Nemogard" descended the Dnieper, passed the rapids and the naval stations at the mouth of the river, and spread over all the shores of the Greek Empire.

A legend of Novgorod tells how their army once besieged Korsun, one of the Grecian cities, "with a grievous siege of seven years' time," and how the bondslaves, doubtful of their masters' return, possessed themselves of the towns, lands, houses, and also of their wives, who had grown weary of their lonely state. At last the army took the Grecian city, and returned in triumph, bringing with them the bronze gates and the great bell. On the way they learned of what had been done in their absence.

"At whiche newes being somewhat amazed and yet disdaining the villanie of their seruants, they made the more speed home: and so not fane from Nouograde met them in warlike manner marching against them. Whereupon aduising what was best to be done, they agreed all to fet upon them with no other shew of weopon but with their Horse whips (which as their manner is euery man rideth withall) to put them in remembrance of their servile condition, thereby to terrifie them and abate their courage.

"And so marching on and lashing together with their whips in their hands they gave the onset, which seemed so terrible in the Eares of these villaines and strooke such a sense into them of the smart of the whip, which they had felt before, that they fled altogether like Sheepe before the Driuers."

The type of the merchant of Novgorod was the rich Sadko, whose adventures have inspire whole volumes of song and tale. We see him at first a poor minstrel, playing his harp by the shores of the lake. The tsar of the blue waves, the old man of the waters, hears him, and is filled with delight at the sweet music, and rises from his cool depths and draws near the shore. At his bidding Sadko makes a wager with the merchant, of the town that he will net a fish with fins of shiny gold. The merchants stake their all that no such fish swims the lake. Sadko casts his net, and lo! There is the fish with the fins of shining gold, which the old man of the sea steers into the net. The merchants pay their fines, and Sadko is the richest man in all the city.

He builds a white marble palace, lighted by a magic sun, moon, and stars, but the spirit of unrest comes upon him. He must go forth to trade. On his voyage a fierce tempest arises. It is the sea tsar, who is angry, and will not be appeased by an offering of silver or an offering of gold. So the sailors cast lots for the sacrifice. Sadko throws into the water a little ring made of the wood of the true cross; the others fling in iron rings. But wonder Of wonders! the iron floats, the wood sinks. Seeing that there is no escape Sadko puts on his fur coat, and taking in one hand the picture of blessed Saint Nicholas and in the other his golden harp, he leaps into the sea, and the tsar of the sea, sitting in his crystal palace with his queen and his three hundred daughters, receives him and puts him to a hundred tests of courage and skill. He passes them all in safety, and suddenly finds himself on the shore near Novgorod with countless treasures, and he cries: "They see that I am a rich merchant of Novgorod but Novgorod is even richer than I."

The fickle, restless inhabitants of the old city had too many opposing interests to be able to govern themselves; at the same time they were too free-minded and powerful to submit to tyranny from their princes. They called the Normans to do justice over them, but when Rurik went beyond his authority the hero, Vadim, headed a revolt against him. When they elected a new prince he was forced to bind himself by an oath to observe their charter which assured them their ancient laws, liberties, and customs. Even his tax-list was limited. He was forbidden to plant colonies or build new cities in any of the five great cantons of Novgorod; he could not hunt in the neighboring forests except during the autumn; the time of reaping his harvests was fixed for him by law; above all, he was obliged to have the help of the posadnik in carrying out the law, and he could not try a suit in any other city.

His actions were sharply watched by the town council, composed of all the citizens, which, at the ringing of the great bell, met in the Court of Fiery Fame, or in the Square of Saint Sophia. If there was a grievance against the prince "Lord Novgorod made him a bow and showed him the road," or else locked him up in the archbishop's palace. "Who can withstand God and the Great Novgorod?" was the popular boast.

Women of Novogorod


One of the grand princes of Kief declared his right to make his son lord of the merchant city, but the men of Novgorod said:—

"We will have nothing to do with thee or thy son; if thy son has a head to spare, let him come."

Another prince, who had abandoned them to rule elsewhere, wished to come back to Novgorod, but the council gave him for answer these words:—

"Thou didst forget thy oath to die with us, and didst eek another throne. Depart from us."

Afterwards they repented and took him back, but to their sorrow. He reigned four years, and then a great council, composed of the men of Novgorod and all the subject towns, accused him of neglecting the poor, of taking pleasure only in dogs and falcons, of wishing to establish himself elsewhere, of cowardly deserting the field of battle, and of having no fixed mind in the quarrels of the princes. He was contemptuously dethroned and exiled.

Some of the citizens traded down the Volga and with the East; others traded down the Dnieper and with Greece. So sometimes there met two rival councils, the one eager to elect a Prince of Suzdal, who could control the eastern water way, the other a Prince of Kief or Chernigof, master of the southern river. Often the rivals met on the bridge, and fast and furious fell the blows until the archbishop came out with his clergy and calmed the tumult. These quarrels often led to the fall of princes and magistrates.

Big Nest of Suzdal, at the request of Novgorod, gave them his son Fiery Fame, who was soon expelled by his unruly subjects. He took an army, came to Torzhok near Novgorod, and blockaded the town. He prevented the merchants from reaching the Volga, cut off the supply of corn, and made famine his ally. The wretched citizens were brought to eat the bark of trees, moss, and lime leaves; more than forty thousand died; the dogs devoured the dead, which lay unburied in the streets.

Venging Fame the Rash heard of Novgorod's plight, and sent word:—

"Torzhok shall not thrust itself above Novgorod; I will deliver your land and your citizens or lose my life."

After he had brought the principality to order, he summoned the council and said:—

"I salute Saint Sophia, the tomb of my father, and you, O men of Novgorod! I am going to reconquer Galitch from the strangers, but I shall never forget you. My hope is to lie by the tomb of my father in Saint Sophia."

The assembly begged him to stay, but he was deaf to their tears and entreaties. The excitement of new adventures had more attraction for the sturdy old hero. Hungarians, Poles, and Tartars alike felt the edge of his sword.

Novgorod invited his nephew from Smolensk to mount the throne, but he could not control the factions of the city. The posadnik arrested a noble. Some of the citizens took the noble's part; others supported the mayor. A general rising took place; for a whole week the alarm bells of the fortress rang incessantly. At last the citizens met with drawn swords on the bridge. The posadnik looked at Saint Sophia and cried:—

"I shall be the first to fall, or else God will prove me right by giving the victory to my brothers." The battle was not long nor fierce; only ten men were killed, and peace was restored.

The Prince charged the posadnik with causing the riot, and sent his herald to demand his removal. "What crime has he done?" asked the council. "No crime," said the herald, "but it is the Prince's will."

"I rejoice," replied the posadnik, "that I am charged with no sort of crime; but you, my brothers, can do your will on princes and on posadniks."

Then the Council sent word to the Prince:—

"Thou didst kiss the cross and swear to remove no man from power without cause, and now we salute thee. The posadnik is ours, and with thee we have nought to do." Thus the Prince was shown the road out of Novgorod and was seen no more. During the next half dozen years the riotous city changed its princes as many times. Famines and fires helped to bring down the pride of miserable citizens, who were glad to sell themselves as slaves for a mouthful of bread.

Big Nest's son, Fiery Fame, came back for the third and fourth time, and ruled them like a tyrant until he became Grand Prince of Suzdal. Then he left them as their prince, his son, Alexander, the Hero of the Neva.

Pskof And Viatka

The most important of the Novgorod's vassal towns was Pskof, whose kreml, with solid ramparts of stone, overlooked the lake and river from which it was named. "These once famous walls are to-day a heap of ruins, and the street-boys amuse themselves by splashing stones into the Pskova to frighten the washer-women."

The Cathedral of the Trinity still stands at one end of the fortress, and there rest in metallic coffins the bones of its favorite princes.

It was near Pskof that Igor, as he returned from hunting, first saw the beautiful Olga, the daughter of a poor Norman, and married her though she was not of princely blood.

Women of Pskof


Pskof had a long struggle with Germans, Swedes, and Lithuanians on the one side and with the father city on the other. Finally Novgorod recognized the vassal as a "younger brother, Lord Pskof the Great." The people were famous for their refined and kindly manners, for the straightforwardness, good faith, and simplicity of their dealings. Their laws and customs were much the same as those of Novgorod. In both towns the social distinctions were strongly marked. The boyars and lower nobility formed an aristocracy above the merchants, the black people, and the peasants. The merchants had a guild of their own and a powerful church. Then there were bands of freebooters, or rather free-boaters, 1 who followed their reckless leaders up and down the great Volga and its tributaries, plundering, seeking wild adventures, and planting colonies in the forests of the North.

It was thus that Viatka was founded in the twelfth century. Two bands of Good Companions from Novgorod, uniting together, advanced into the centre of Russia and came to a pagan city, with a sanctuary crowning a hill and defended by a pale and a ditch. The pious adventurers fasted for several days, then called upon Boris and Glieb, their patron saints, and took the city by storm. Then they built a new city, and colonists, hearing of their victory, flocked to it. To this day this distant land has the peculiarities of Novgorod, the same sort of houses, the same cap, the same dialect. For three hundred years the council bell called its citizens to free discussion.

How Moscow Triumphed Over Tver

During all this time the name of Moscow has scarcely been heard. In the annals it is mentioned as one of the many small cities burnt by the Tartars. It had been founded about a century before by George Long Hand, who was one day returning from a visit to his son, Andrew God-loved, Prince of Suzdal, and came to the banks of a picturesque river. The Grand Prince was charmed with the view, and stayed to refresh himself at one of the villages which nestled amid the thick pines along the shore. Stephen, the proprietor of the domain, gave his visitor so surly a welcome that the Grand Prince lost his temper, and bade his men seize Stephen and drown him. He then took possession of the land, and built a stockade upon the hill where now the Kreml rises with its towns, palaces, and churches. He called his new fortress Moskva, or Moscow, from the name of the river. His son, Andrew God-loved, took pleasure in enlarging and adorning it.

Moscow remained obscure until the time of Daniel, the son of Alexander, the hero of the Neva, who made it the head of a small principality. At his death he was buried in the Church of Michael the Archangel, which for the next four hundred years was the tomb of Russian princes.

Between the house of Moscow and the house of Tver arose a bitter feud for the possession of the throne of Suzdal. Michael of Tver was the eldest of the family; the nobles of Vladimir and Suzdal and the burghers of Novgorod hailed him as Grand Prince. The Kan of Sarai, before whom the matter was brought, decided in his favor, and ordered him to be crowned. But his nephew, George, the son of Daniel, put forth his claims in so lawless a spirit that Michael was obliged twice to besiege him in Moscow, and made him swear to keep the peace.

Kreml of Moscow


Prince George was not the man to stick to his word or to hold his hand from any treachery. He managed to win over the republic of Novgorod, which gave him an army. He went out against his uncle and was defeated.

About this time the Kan of Sarai died, and George hastened to the Horde, where he won the heart of the new Kan's sister, and married her under the Christian name of Agatha. His brother-in-law immediately decided against Michael, and gave George a Mongol army with which to conquer the Grand Principality. Michael offered to make terms, but George again broke his word and began to ravage Michael's lands round about Tver. Michael took an army and went out against his nephew, and again put him to rout. George's Tartar wife, his brother Boris, his Mongol general, and nearly all the leaders of the Kan's army, fell into Michael's hands, who had the wisdom to treat his prisoners with all honor and respect. Unfortunately Agatha sickened and died, and when, for the third time, the dispute of the two princes was taken to the Kan's tribunal, George was wise enough to go in person, distributed costly gifts to all the Kan's family, and accused his uncle of drawing his sword against the Kan and of poisoning his sister.

Michael at first sent his young son, Constantine, a boy of twelve, to represent him, but when he heard of his nephew's plots he deemed it best to follow him. So he made his will and shared his estates among his children, knowing well that he might never more return.

For some weeks after his arrival the Kan paid no heed to the Grand Prince, nor deigned to look at the rich gifts which he brought in token of homage. George, meanwhile, ceased not from his slanders, and at last a tent was spread and Michael was brought before his judges, who declared him guilty. He was condemned to death and loaded with chains. Soon after the Kan went to hunt through the mountains of the Caucasus. It was a brilliant spectacle as he left Sarai, accompanied by his richly dressed nobles; by a hundred thousand soldiers in glittering uniform, and mounted on fine horses; by merchants with countless chariots filled with the costliest treasures of the East; by Russian princes and boyars dressed in long floating kaftans, with turbans surmounted by aigrets of precious stones, with sabres and poniards in belt and bows and arrows in their hands. Where they camped reigned all the pomp and luxury of an Eastern city.

The unhappy Michael was dragged in the Kan's train far among the forests of Dagestan. One day they reached a great town and the prisoner was exhibited in the market-place, and the people crowded around and pitied him, saying to one another,—

"Do you know this captive in the stocks only a few moons ago was a mighty prince in his own land?"

Michael might have escaped, because the Kan cared no whit what became of him, but he refused to take advantage of his chances, telling his faithful nobles,—

"I will never degrade myself by flight; better for me to perish than for my people to suffer."

At last the Kan yielded to George's constant bribes and prayers, and gave the order for his rival's death. One of Michael's pages saw George and a Tartar lord drawing near followed by a throng of people. He hastened to warn his master. "I know why he comes," said the brave prince, and he prepared to die, giving last messages for his wife and children, and sending his little son, Constantine, for protection, to one of the Kan's wives who was interested in him.

George came near the tent which served as Michael's prison and sent his ruffians to do their cruel work. They threw the prince on the ground, tore off his garments and trampled upon him, and a Russian wretch who played the traitor plunged a dagger into his side and plucked out his heart. Then George entered the tent and looked upon the naked body, and the Tartar lord, Kavgadi, to whom Michael had been generous and kind, turned and said,—

"What! wilt thou allow thy uncle's body to be put to shame?"

Michael's followers took their murdered prince back to Tver, and his body, "incorruptible as that of a saint," was laid in a silver coffin in the great cathedral, on whose walls artists afterwards painted the scene of his martyrdom. He became the patron saint of the city, and George, freed of his rival and still upheld by the Kan, took possession of Moscow, Suzdal, Vladimir, and Novgorod.

Some years later George was called to the Horde to answer the charge of keeping back the tribute. There he was met by his cousin, Dimitri, "of the Terrible Eyes," who had a father to avenge. Out of the scabbard flashed his sword, and the Prince of Moscow lay dead at his feet The Kan was inclined to pardon the young prince, but George's friends insisted that if he did so it would encourage the Russians in boldness and be a deathless stain on his memory. After a year's imprisonment the Kan ordered him to be beheaded, and appointed his brother, Alexander, prince in his place. The next year, however, the Kan's tax-collector appealed with a strong body-guard in the streets of Tver, and the citizens, angered either by his cruel conduct or by the rumor that the baskak  ha come to kill the prince, seize the throne, and force them to become Mahometans, rose in rebellion and massacred the Tartar and all his suite. Alexander, carried away by the popular madness, himself led the assault upon the palace where the baskak was hiding, and was the first to apply the torch.

Such an insult the Kan could not forgive. He deposed Alexander. Ivan, called Money Bag  , who had succeeded his brother George at Moscow, offered to finish the ruin of Tver. The Kan gave him the title of Grand Prince and an army of fifty thousand Tartars, with which he cruelly ravaged his kinsman's principality. Alexander and his brother lost their courage, and, deserting their people, fled to Pskof. The Kan demanded Alexander of the victorious Ivan, whose ambassadors forthwith repaired to Pskof and summoned the citizens to deliver up the fugitive prince.

"Do not expose a Christian people to the wrath of the infidels," said they; but the men of Pskof, heroic and faithful to the end, .said to Alexander,—

"Do not go my lord; whatever happens we will die with thee." And they •bade the ambassadors begone, and made ready to defend themselves and their prince; nor did they yield even when Ivan got together an army, and when Theognost, the head of the church, threatened them with God's wrath. But Alexander, as usual, deemed discretion the better part of valor, and again fled, and the men of Pskof, greatly relieved, sent word to the grand prince:—

"Alexander has gone; all Pskof swears it, from the smallest to the greatest, popes, monks, nuns, orphans, women, and children."

After a short abiding in Lithuania Alexander determined to submit to the Kan's mercy. He took his nobles and went boldly to the Golden Horde, and beating his forehead in the dust before the terrible Uzbek Kan, he said,—

"Lord, all-powerful Tsar, if I have done aught against thee I am come hither to receive from thee life or death. Do as God inspires thee. I am ready for any fate."

The Kan admired his frankness and courage and gave him a full pardon. Hardly -had he reached Tver before Ivan, who thought he was forever rid of his rival, hastened to Sarai and painted Alexander as the most dangerous enemy of the Tartars. The Kan was persuaded, and again bade Alexander appear before his tribunal. This time he was put to death and his son Theodore. The other princes of Tver, seeing that the Kan had faith only in the wily Prince of Moscow, made their submission by sending the great bell of the cathedral to Money Bag  Novgorod also was required to pay him a double tax on every head, and as he acted as the Kan's baskak he took pains to keep as much for his own treasury as he gave the Kan. Thus he was able to buy many towns and lands and add them to his domain.

Under Ivan Vladimir remained the legal capital of Suzdal, but he was all the time working to make Moscow the real capital. He built many magnificent churches and or the Cathedral of the Assumption, which he enriched with vessels of silver and gold, with costly ornaments of every kind, and pictures framed in precious stones. The metropolitan bishop, Peter, lived there most of the time, and his successor, Theognost, who threatened Pskof with the wrath of God, made it his chief residence, so that the religious headship of Russia passed entirely from Vladimir to Moscow. St. Peter, the first actual metropolitan of Moscow, painted a great picture of the Assumption, and himself selected the place of his tomb in the new cathedral. His prophecy concerning the future of Moscow and Ivan Money Bag  was more than fulfilled:—

"Prince Ivan," said the old man, "God will bless thee and raise thee above all other princes, and this thy town above all other towns. Thy race shall reign in this place during many centuries; their hands shall conquer all their enemies; the saints shall make their dwelling here, and here shall my bones repose."

Ivan reigned securely by means of his wealth and influence with the Kan. Trade began to thrive; markets and fairs were founded; the merchants of Asia and Europe met on the Volga, and every year thousands of pounds of silver were collected for the greedy and unwarlike prince, whose moneybag always hung at his belt instead of a sword.

Ivan loved to talk with the monks of his Monastery of the Transfiguration, and when he felt the end of his days draw nigh he let himself be tonsured and put on the dress of a monk and a new name. When he died he divided his domain among his three sons, but he gave the largest share to the eldest, Simeon, and forbade the principality of Moscow to be divided.

From now until the time of Peter the Great, Russian history centres about this "princely and magnificant" city on the Moskva. Its princes, politic and persevering, prudent and pitiless, of gloomy and terrible mien, whose foreheads were marked by the seal of fate; who gained their ends by intrigue, corruption, the purchase of consciences, servility to the kans, faithlessness to their equals, murder and treachery, the tax-gatherers and police of the Tartars, were to gather Russia together and make the scattered fragments into a mighty empire.

Monastery of ST. Sergius at Troitsa


As soon as Ivan Money Bag  died many princes rose up to dispute the principality of Vladimir with his sons. The eldest, Simeon, went to the Horde and spoke eloquently of his father's faithfulness to the kans; but it was not his winged words nor his arguments, but his father's treasure, which moved the infidels, and he returned to be crowned in the Cathedral of Vladimir. He was the first to take the title, Grand Prince of all the Russias, and he so mightily domineered over the other princes that he was called the Haughty. The men of Novgorod at first resisted his claims, but his army soon brought them to terms. The chief event of his reign was the foundation of the famous Trinity Monastery, which became the richest in Russia, and was surrounded with ramparts and solid brick walls, with a triple row of embrasures and nine lofty towers, which in after days many times withstood the assaults of Catholics and infidels. It was founded by holy St. Sergius, who left Moscow and took up his abode amid the thick forests along a beaver-haunted stream. His first companion was a huge bear, but it was not long before many monks joined themselves to him.

"At that time there were near Moscow," says old Richard Eden, "woods of exceeding bigness in the which black wolves and white bears are hunted. The cause where of may be the extreme cold of the North which doth greatly alter the complexion of beasts and is the mother of whiteness as the Philosophers affirm. They have also great plenty of bees whereby they have such abundance of honey and wax that it is with them of small price;"

"For," says another ancient writer, "in the stocks or bodies of exceeding great and hollow trees are sometimes found great pools or lakes of Honey. Dimitri the ambassador of the Duke of Moscow whom he sent to the Bishop of Rome not many years since made relation that a husbandman of the Country not far from the place where he remained seeking in the woods for Honey descended into a great hollow tree full of Honey into the which he slipped up to the breast and lied there only with Honey for the space of two days calling in vain for help in that desert of woods: and that in fine despairing of help he escaped by a marvelous chance, being drawn out by a great Bear that descended into the tree with her loins downward after the manner of men. For when the man (as present necessity and opportunity served) perceived the Bear to be within his reach, he suddenly clasped her about the loins with his arms and with a terrible cry provoked the beast to enforce her strength to leap out of the tree and therewith to draw him out as it chanced indeed." [archaic spelling corrected]

Such in the middle of the fourteenth century was the neighborhood of "Holy Mother Moskva." A stranger visiting the city would have seen the metal-founder, Boris, casting sweet-toned bells for the churches, and many Greek and Russian artists adorning the cathedrals of the Kreml with their stiff and conventional paintings.

The Black Death


The reign of Simeon the Haughty was cut short by his sudden death. The terrible plague known as the Black Death  came sweeping over from thickly peopled China. Hardly a country in Europe was spared from its ravages. In a few months thirteen millions of men perished. Among the victims was the Prince of all the Russias: He left a will written on paper, which now for the first time took the place of parchment. He was succeeded by his peace-loving brother, Ivan.

The Hero of the Don

Ivan the gentle allowed his neighbors to take advantage of him and ride over him. Oleg of Riazan marched through his lands, burned his villages, and insulted his military lieutenants. The men of Novgorod laughed at his authority, and, despising him, turned to Constantine of Suzdal. Olgerd, Grand Prince of Lithuania, and his son, Andrew, took his tribute towns. The civil wars in Riazan and Tver, the quarrels of the rival factions in the Commonwealth of Novgorod, were of no account to this peace-loving prince. He let his bishops settle all difficulties; he had not the will even to punish the men who murdered one of his officers. At his death the Kan of the Golden Horde appointed Dimitri of Suzdal grand prince, and for a season Moscow ceased to be the capital. But St. Alexis, the Metropolitan of Moscow, who had acquired great influence among the Tartars by reason of a miraculous cure, was watchful of the interests of Ivan's young children. When Dimitri, the oldest son, was twelve, Alexis bade him declare himself Grand Prince and the rival of Suzda1. The dispute was taken to Murut Kan, who, influenced by St. Alexis, "a man whose prayers preserved his life and strengthened his armies," gave the title to the grandson of Ivan Money Bag.  At the head of a strong army the boy-prince marched triumphantly into Vladimir, and was crowned in the ancient cathedral by his faithful friend, the Metropolitan, St. Alexis.

Dimitri's jealous uncles and cousins were by no means willing that this lad should become grand prince.

Dimitri of Suzdal gained the ear of the fickle Murut, and with his support came back to Vladimir, but the brave boy was ready for him, and met him with an army and drove him away with great rout. They then signed a treaty of peace, and the victorious prince bade St. Sergius, the founder of the Trinity Monastery, lay Lower Novgorod under a curse, and thus bringing it to terms, he gave it to his rival and married his daughter, and ever after stood by him as a friend, as was no more than fair.

Then the princes of Starodub, or Old Oak  , and Galitch rebelled against him. He brought them to terms and made his cousin, Vladimir, the son of Andrew, call him father and serve him faithfully all his life. Like his father and grandfather, he became involved in a quarrel with the house of Tver. Michael, whose grandfather and father and unde and brother had all perished at the Horde on account of their rivalry with the princes of Moscow, was disputing "Tver the ancient, Tver the rich," with one of his uncles. The Grand Prince of Moscow and the Metropolitan took the uncle's part, but Michael cared not for this decision. His sister, Juliana, was the wife of the great pagan, Olgerd, Prince of Lithuania, whose armies had won for him the whole basin of the Dnieper and overrun all Western Russia. With the army of his brother-in-law he took Tver, conquered his uncle in Kashin, and in a space of four years thrice led his •troops, burning and pillaging, to the very walls of the Moscow Kreml. At last the great Olgerd died, the Lithuanians deserted his standard, and Dimitri and his allies and the men of Novgorod, who had not forgotten Michael's evil deeds in their lands, closely besieged him in Tver, and brought him to such straits that he was glad to forswear Novgorod and Vladimir and promise never again to molest the allies of Dimitri, his "elder brother," but to follow his course toward the Tartars, whether in paying tribute or waging war.

Even longer and fiercer was Dimitri's war with Oleg of Riazan, who had braved his father, the gentle Ivan II., and now defied his warlike son. Dimitri defeated him, and installed a prince of Pronsk on the throne; but Oleg came back and drove out his weak successor, and the quarrel began anew.

Meantime the power of the Tartars was fast waning. The ravages of the Black Death  , the ceaseless civil wars of rival kans, the growth of wealth and luxury, were fatal to the vast Empire of the Kipchak. Little by little the Russian princes came to see that their disobedience was followed by no quick revenge. A Tartar chief came against Riazan: Oleg defied him to do his worst. Dimitri, the new prince of Lower Novgorod, defeated Bulat-Temir in person, and the princes of Suzdal put a band of Mordva to death and delivered up their chiefs to be torn in pieces by the dogs of Novgorod.

Dimitri of Moscow had a summons from the ferocious Mamai Kan to repair to the Horde. He had the courage to obey, in spite of his many acts of disobedience, and was allowed to return to Moscow in safety. Five years later he sent a great expedition down the Volga, captured Kazan, capital of Bulgaria, and forced two Tartar princes to. pay him tribute. He followed this victory with a still more brilliant feat of arms. He conquered Mamai's army on the banks of a little river near Riazan, and as he saw the T~ fly, he cried,—

"Their day is over, and God is with us."

Mamai, carried away by blind fury, and caring not whom he struck, turned upon his enemy's rival, Oleg of Riazan, and ravaged his country far and wide. Then for two years he worked in secret to prepare a great vengeance. He gathered an immense host of every nation and tongue,—Turks and Circassians, Jews and Kumans; even the colonists of Genoa, on the shores of Azof and the Caspian Sea, had to send their sons to join the Tartar army.

When the Grand Prince was warned of the coming storm he was nothing daunted, but called upon the princes and nobles to meet in Moscow with every man they could bring. They came, filled with the long thirst for vengeance and with enthusiasm, nobly prepared to die, flocking into the Kreml walls, greeted with cheers and words of welcome:—

"Along the river Moskva coursers were neighing;

Trumpets sounded in Kolomna;

Drums were beat in Serpukhof;

Many were the standards which rose

On the banks of the mighty Danube."

Before he took the field Dimitri went out to the aged hermit of Trinity, and the saint prophesied in these words:—

"Thou wilt triumph, but only after a terrible fight. Thou wilt vanquish the foe, but thy laurels will be sprinkled with the blood of countless Christian heroes."

St. Sergius sent two of his monks, brave men who had not forgotten the cunning of battle, to go with the prince, and on their cowls he made the sign of the cross, and said,—

"Behold a weapon which never proveth false."

Dimitri, at the head of his warriors, eager to measure their swords in battle with the Tartars, and feeling the joy of coming victory, little heeded the news that Oleg of Oleg of Riazan was playing the traitor, or that Michael of Tver was a craven prince. Down the smiling valley to the Don marched the Russian army, one hundred and fifty thousand strong, with banners flying and cavalry in superb array. Never before had Russia sent so brave a host into the field.

Warned by St. Sergius to go forward, Dimitri crossed the Don, and on a bright September day drew up his army in the wide field of the Wood-Cocks, through which flowed a little stream, a tributary of the Don.

The old chronicle tells how, on the evening before the battle, Dimitri and his cousin, Dimitri of Volynia, mounted horse and rode out of the camp to consult the earth-mother. After they had ridden a short way the Grand Prince's cousin dismounted and pressed his ear close to the ground and listened long and earnestly. And the Grand Prince said,—

"What is it, my brother? Tell me." But the listening prince gave no answer; and then Dimitri came nearer and begged him to speak, and when he saw him weeping he was afraid, and said,—

"My brother, speak to me, for my heart suffers cruel pangs."

And his cousin said,—

"I will tell thee, my lord and prince, but hold the secret fast. There are two omens,—one of great joy, one of great sorrow. As I pressed my ear upon the ground I heard the earth groaning in two places, bitterly, terribly. One place was like a woman who utters vain shrieks, crying in the Tartar tongue, wailing for her children who fight, shedding her tears like a river; the other place was like a young girl weeping, sobbing with a plaintive voice, like a reed, in great grief and sorrow. I have seen many battles, and ofttimes I have watched these fore-signs, and to me they are plain. Trust in God. Thou wilt conquer, but a host from thy army will fall by the edge of the sword."



In the centre of the field of the Wood-Cocks was the Grand Prince with his own men and the men of Pskof and Briansk; the other princes were set upon the right and left; Dimitri's cousin Vladimir, and the brave Dimitri of Volynia led the reserve. The Tartar host drew nigh, slowly and in solid ranks. For three long hours the battle raged with unequalled fury. The Grand Prince's body-guard was cut to pieces; the day seemed lost. Suddenly from their ambush behind a dense wood, with loud hurrahs, came Vladimir and the wily Dimitri and the fresh strength of the reserve. They fell upon the wellnigh victorious but exhausted Tartars and drove them back like a whirlwind. Mamai Kan, standing on an ancient burial-mound in the midst of the plain, saw his troops fly by in confusion pursued by the shouting Russians, and in despair he cried aloud,—

"The God of the Christians has won the fight!" A hundred thousand of his men were killed upon the field or drowned in their attempts to swim the stream. Mamai's whole camp, with his chariots and his tents, his horses and his camels, his cattle and his precious treasures of silks and Eastern robes, were the booty of the Russian princes. It was a glorious victory, but St. Sergius's prophecy and the fore-signs given by "mother earth" were fulfilled. A host of brave warriors lay upon the field; a long week the Russians spent in burying their dead. Among the fallen were the two monks of Trinity, one of them fast clasped in the mighty arms of a Kuman giant who had perished with him in a hand-to-hand fight. The Grand Prince for a long time was missing; at last two soldiers found him in a swoon, with his armor bloody and broken, amid a heap of the slain.

As he turned to leave the battle-field Dimitri cried aloud a farewell to the dead:—

"Brothers, nobles, and princes, a place of resting has been found for you between the Don and the Dnieper. on the field of Kulikovo by the river Napriadva. You have your lives for the holy churches, for the Russian soil, for the faith of Christ. Farewell and be blessed! For you all is the eternal crown."

Although the tradition of Tartar supremacy was broken, the Russians were not yet free from their oppressors. A new conqueror appeared at the Horde. Toktamish, of Tamerlane's generals, put Mamai to death, and, revolting from his master, seized the throne of the Kipchak. He then sent a messenger to Dimitri, the hero of the Don, saying,—

"I have triumphed over Mamai, our common foe. Come to do me homage at the Golden Horde."

Dimitri, proud of his last victory, sent back a defiant answer and waited the result. The Kan waited two years, and then marched with an immense host straight upon Moscow.

Dimitri, not aided as before by the other princes, left his capital in the hands of one of his boyars, and hastened to Kostroma to raise an army.

For three days the Tartars besieged the Kreml gate and made their assaults in vain. It was only by a ruse that they managed to surprise the garrison and enter the city. Twenty-four thousand of the citizens perished by the sword; scarcely more than the walls were left standing. After the Tartar army, laden with booty, had scattered through the province, carrying fire and sword to the other cities, Dimitri came back and wept over the ruins of his beautiful capital.

"Our fathers," he cried, "who never triumphed over the Tartars, were less unhappy than we."

Nevertheless he set bravely to work to build his city again, and continued his war with the "Traitor," Oleg, who ravaged the land of Kolomna. Dimitri sacked Riazan, the home of renegades, but at last, by the intercession of St. Sergius, who went in person, a perpetual peace was signed, and Dimitri married his daughter, Sofia, to Oleg's son, Theodore.

Novgorod still resisted Dimitri's authority and refused to obey his Metropolitan. With an army furnished by twenty-five provinces he marched against the commonwealth, and forced it to pay a great sum of money for the ravages of the freebooters, and to promise a yearly tribute.

At the time of Dimitri's death his principality of Moscow was the largest of the Russian states of the North, and Moscow, the capital, was beginning to surpass Vladimir, though that ancient city of Andrew God-loved was quite as well situated. Each had its Kreml-crowned hill and its water-way down the Oka, to the mighty" Mother Volga," which flows in a majestic stream, a thousand meters wide for eight hundred leagues, till it reaches the Caspian by a hundred mouths. To-day Vladimir is a quiet town of fourteen thousand souls, while Moscow is one of the great cities of the world with more than half a million of inhabitants.

In Dimitri's reign the Russians began to trade with the West through the merchants of Genoa and Venice who settled in Azof and Kaffa; silver and copper coins, with the head of a knight, and with Tartar and Slav inscriptions upon them, took the place of marten-skins or the heads and ears of squirrels; cannon began to be used the very year that Dimitri died.

The Stone Belt


In his reign a monk named Stephen went up into the Ural Mountains, "the stone belt" of Russia, and entered the country of the Permians, who lived along the sources of the Kama. There stood the marvellous temple of the god Iumala, which was so richly ornamented with precious stones that it was said to illuminate all the land around. There sat the" Golden Old Woman," holding in her arms her son and grandson, while magical trumpets blew weird sounds. The sturdy missionary overthrew the idols, put the sorcerers to shame, and stopped the sacrifice of reindeer; he built the first church, founded schools, and died the bishop of the land.

An old Russian poem tells how Dimitri of the Don was warned that his death was at hand:—

"In the holy Cathedral of the Assumption St. Cyprian, the Metropolitan, was chanting the mass. Prince Dimitri was there with his Princess Eudoxia, with his princes and •his boyars, with his famous captains.

"Suddenly Prince Dimitri ceased to pray; he fell back against a column. He was rapt away in spirit; the eyes of his soul were opened, he saw a strange vision.

"He sees no longer the candles burn before the holy pictures; he hears no longer the sacred songs. What he sees is the level plain, the battle-field of Kulikovo. It is sown with Christian and with Tartar dead; the Christians are like melted wax, the Tartars are like filthy pitch. Across the field of the Wood-Cocks  walks slowly the Holy Mother of God; behind her the angels of the Lord, the angels and the holy archangels with shining lamps. They sing sacred hymns over the ashes of the heroes who fell in the faith. The Mother of God herself swings the censer, and from heaven descend upon them crowns of amaranth. And the Mother of God asks,—

"'But where is Prince Dimitri?' And the Apostle Peter replies,—

"'Prince Dimitri is in his city of Moskva in the holy Cathedral of the Assumption, where he is hearing the liturgy, he and his Princess Eudoxia and his princes, his boyars, and his famous captains.'

"Then said the Virgin Mother,—

"'Prince Dimitri is not in his place; he must lead the choir of martyrs, and his princess must join my holy band.'

"Then the vision vanished. In the temple the candles shone, on the pictures the precious jewels gleamed. Dimitri awoke; his tears flowed, and he said,—

"'The hour of my death is at hand; soon I shall rest in the tomb and my princess shall take the veil.'"

How Russia was almost Crushed

Between Timur the Great and a Western Prince

Dmitri's son, Basil, a young man of seventeen, succeeded to the triple throne of Moscow, Vladimir, and Novgorod without opposition. He went to the Horde with a purse full of money, and ignominiously bought the titles to Murom, Lower Novgorod, and Suzdal. The men of Lower Novgorod betrayed their own prince, opened the gates to Basil's soldiers and the Kan's baskak, and then all the bells proclaimed Basil Prince of the town. He also took possession of many provinces of Chernigof and vast tracts along the Dvina belonging to Novgorod; he brought Viatka into submission and made the Princes of Riazan and Tver bow before him. He married Sofia, daughter of the Grand Prince of Lithuania, and one of his own children was the wife of John, Emperor of Constantinople. But in spite of Basil's power he was nearly crushed by two fierce enemies. One was his father-in-law, Vitovt of Lithuania, and the other the mighty conqueror Timur, or Tamerlane.

Timur the Lame was the son of an obscure Mongol prince, but his soul was filled with visions of glory. At the age of thirty-five he had brought the Tartar tribes under his power, and seated himself on the throne of his ancestor, Chingis Kan. The Great Commander of the World "made his capital at Samarkand, and when he came back from his conquering expeditions, from Tiflis and the plains of Persia, from Delhi and the muddy waters of the sacred Ganges, or from the Nile-swept valley of Egypt, he sat upon a gorgeous throne with a golden crown upon his head, a royal belt around his loins, and dressed in a robe which sparkled with precious stones, while "troops of conquered kings" obeyed his slightest wish.

Plains of Persia


Having reduced "Bukhara the noble" and Bagdad, the seat of the renowned caliphs, he determined to punish his general, Toktamish. He marched leisurely northward through the Asiatic plains, stopping to hunt the countless cattle which ranged around the Caspian Sea. He expelled the rebel Kan, pillaged the Golden Horde, and then moved west with half a million men "in armor clad, upon their prancing steeds, disdainfully with wanton paces trampling on the ground." They burnt and ravaged every village from the Volga to the Don. Then the great host suddenly stopped and began to retreat, pillaging the rich cities of Azof and Astrakan on its way; the desert steppes, the gloomy forests, and the danger of the cold Russian winter were not to the mind of a monarch used to the sunny lands of the East. We hear of him next in Hindustan, and sending this proud message to Baiazet, the conqueror of Turkey, the first to bear the title of Sultan:—

"Learn that the earth is covered with my warriors from sea to sea. Kings form my body-guard, and take their places as servants before my tent. Art thou not aware that the destiny of the universe is in my hands? Who art thou? A Turkish ant! And darest thou raise thy hand against an elephant? If in the woods of Anatolia thou hast gained some meagre gains, if the timid Europeans have fled like cowards before thee, give thanks to Mahomet for thy success, for it is not owing to thine own valor. Listen to the words of wisdom. Be content with the heritage of thy fathers, and, though small it be, beware how thou darest in the least to extend its limits, lest death be the forfeit."

The two great champions of the world, Timur the Lame and Baiazet the Thunderbolt, met at Angora, and the Ottoman was humbled. For fifty years longer Constantinople was saved to the Grecian empire.

While Basil was so threatened by the hosts of Timur, he was in even greater danger from the vast Lithuanian empire of the West.

The Lithuanian tribes had once paid the Russians tribute of furs, bark, and brooms. Proud, independent, ferocious pagans, they often resisted their masters, came forth from the trackless forests of the Niemen, and, blowing long trumpets and mounted on shaggy ponies, made swift incursions into the lands of Kief.

In the time of Alexander of the Neva, one of their petty princes, the wily Mendog, "began by slaying his brothers and sons, and drove the rest from the country, and reigned alone over the land of Lithuania." Mendog, threatened by Alexander Nevski and the Sword-brothers, begged aid of Pope Innocent IV., who sent knights of the Teutonic Order, and a bishop to baptize him into the Church of Rome, and crown him king. When the German knights began to be overbearing, Mendog grew angry and "washed off his baptism," went back to his old gods, rekindled the sacred fire before the idol of Perkun, god of thunder, and called back the scattered priests and priestesses. He was assassinated by Prince Dovmont, who had an injured wife to avenge. Dovmont fled to Pskof, and became one of the best-beloved princes of the commonwealth. Then Lithuania, under Gedimin and Olgerd, for threescore years waxed steadily in power, extended its possessions down the Dnieper, humiliated Novgorod the Great, and almost conquered all Eastern Russia.

Olgerd's son, the cruel and treacherous Iagello, put his uncle Keistut to death, and drove out his brothers and cousins. At the request of the Polish nobles he married Hedwiga, their princess, who was affianced to the Duke of Austria, and loathed to give her hand to "a cruel pagan." Iagello went to Krakof, and was baptized into the Roman faith and crowned King of Poland. He straightway set his hand to the conversion of his Lithuanian subjects; he overthrew their idols, put out the sacred fire called the znitch that burned in the ancient castle at Vilno, killed the sacred snakes, and cut down the magic woods. Then the Catholic priests divided the people into little groups, sprinkled them with holy water, and gave them new names. Each group was named Ian, or Peter, or Paul, as the case might be, and many of the peasants came again and again to be baptized, so as to receive a full supply of white tunics. Thus the Lithuanians, like the Poles, were separated by religious form from their kinsmen the Russians.

Many of them, however, felt that by the union with Poland they had lost their independence. Iagello's cousin, Vitovt, son of the hero Keistut and the wild captured priestess Biruta, put himself at the head of the malcontents, made alliance with the Teutonic knights, and besieged the Polish guard in the castle of Vilno. Iagello was forced to recognize him as Grand Prince of Lithuania, and grant his independence. He took up the plans of his uncle Olgerd, and with all the energy in the world set about to conquer Northeastern Russia. He took Smolensk by treachery, and allowed his army to pillage it, even while he was feasting its princes in his tent. He made himself Grand Prince of Pskof. He fought many battles with the Tartars, and colonized many of his prisoners near Vilno, in villages where their race still exists. He even resolved to reduce the Golden Horde, which Timur the Lame had already pillaged and greatly weakened, and he said to himself,—

"When I have conquered Sarai I will turn my arms against Moscow and Riazan."

He gathered a splendid army under the walls of poor old Kief, which was now but a shadow of its former glory. His cousin, the King of Poland, sent an army under his bravest captains. Toktamish, the exiled Kan of the Golden Horde, brought a Tartar band; the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order sent five hundred knights, "iron men," richly armed. Many Russian princes came with their followers to swell the host.

Vitovt set out against Kan Temir-Kutlu, and came up with him on the banks of the Vorskla, a branch of the Dnieper which runs near the famous battle-field of Poltava, where the heroes of the North fought three hundred years later.

Temir-Kutlu sent a messenger to Vitovt, saying,—

"Give up to me my fugitive Toktamish; he is my foe. I cannot rest in peace knowing that he is alive and in thy hands: for our life is full of change, to-day a Kan, to-morrow in exile; to-day rich, to-morrow in poverty; to day friends only, to-morrow all foes. I fear for thee since thou knowest not Toktamish, my foe. Therefore give him unto my hands and keep what thou hast."

Vitovt replied,—

"We will not give Toktamish into thy hands; as for Kan Temir-Kutlu, I wish to see him also."

Then they drew up in battle array, but before the battle began Temir sent again,—

"Why dolt thou come out against me? I touch not thy land nor thy cities nor thy villages."

Vitovt replied,—

"God has brought all lands into my power. Submit also to me; be my son, and I will be thy father. Give me every year gifts and tribute. But if thou wilt not be my son, then shalt thou be my slave, and all thy Horde shall be given to the sword."

The Kan, to gain time, appeared to yield to all Vitovt's demands; and Vitovt, encouraged, further demanded that the Kan should place his father's "bearings on the Mongol coins. "Give me three days to think," said the Kan.

Before the three days were run the Tartar general Edige came up with a great army, and said, "Better die than yield."

Then Vitovt stood opposite to Edige, and Edige challenged him:—

"Easily didst thou take our Kan and his sons, since thou art old and he is young; but I am older than thou, therefore it is proper for thee to be my son, to give me tribute every year, and put my arms upon thy coins."

The Tartars Victorious


The question was brought to the test of battle. Edige had the most men. Vitovt had a great array of cannon. The Tartars outflanked the Lithuanians. The day was lost. Thirty princes and two thirds of Vitovt's army were left upon the field; the rest fled in dire dismay to the banks of the Dnieper, pursued by the relentless barbarians, who turned upon Kief and took a tribute of three thousand rubles. Again the Monastery of the Caves was plundered.

Basil of Moscow carefully held aloof from this quarrel between his two foes. Vitovt thrice marched against his son-in-law, but never risked a pitched battle with him, and at last, seeing that they both had too many enemies to afford to quarrel with each other, they signed a treaty of peace, which fixed the boundary between the two states.

After Edige had thus put Vitovt to rout, he made up his mind to extort tribute from Moscow. He collected another army, and took pains to spread the rumor that it was against the Lithuanians; and even while Basil was rejoicing that his wife's father was going again to be punished, he heard that the Tartar was at his gates.. He had barely time to escape in the same manner as his father had done to Kostroma, where he assembled an army, while his uncle, Vladimir the Brave, defended the city. The Kreml was now furnished with cannon, and before Edige had time to reduce the town by famine, he heard that his master was in danger at the Horde, and, raising the siege, he departed. Before he went, he sent a haughty letter to the Grand Prince, and collected a tribute of three thousand rubles from the citizens of Moscow.

How Dimitri Donski's


After Basil's death a civil war broke out in his family. His brother George of Galitch appealed to the patriarchal law of succession, and as "eldest" claimed the throne of Moscow. His other brothers upheld Basil's son, Basil, a lad ten years of age. The quarrel lasted half a dozen years, and was at last taken to the Kan. George of Galitch won the favor of Tegini, a powerful Tartar murza, who promised to get him the title. Basil's interests were represented by Ivan, a boyar of Moscow, "artful, adroit, full of resources," who kindled the jealousy of the other Tartars at Tegini's power.

"It is in vain," said he, "to lay our cause before the Kan. He cannot escape from Tegini's will, and by his will the throne of Moscow is given to George of Galitch. But what will become of us if the Kan hears Tegini? George will be Grand Prince of Moscow his friends will reign in Lithuania, and at the Horde Tegini will be stronger than we."

By such words "he wounded their hearts as with arrows," and they beat their brows in the dust before the Kan for Basil's sake, and so worked upon the Kan that he threatened Tegini with death if he spoke again in George's favor. All that year there was discord between uncle and nephew. George founded his right upon the ancient customs of his land, brought the chronicles to bear upon his side, and, finally, cited the will of Dimitri of the Don. But Ivan, the boyar of Moscow, said,—

"Prince George demands the throne because of his father's will, Prince Basil, by thy mercy; thou gayest it to his father Basil the son of Dimitri, and he, depending on thy favor, gave it to his son who has already ruled these many years, and has not shaken off thy authority; therefore is he Prince by thy mercy."

This flattery won the Kan; he bade George lead his nephew's horse, and sent a baskak to represent him at the coronation, which for the first time took place at the Cathedral of the Assumption at Moscow. This same year the great Vitovt died. It may perhaps seem strange that this ambitious Prince had not taken advantage of these discords to fulfil the plans of his youth. But fortune did not favor him. His own subjects were rebellious; he quarrelled with the Patriarch of Constantinople; and just as the old man was expecting to be recognized King of Lithuania, and the ambassadors of Sigismond, Emperor of Germany, were bringing him the crown and sceptre, the Poles secured an injunction from the Pope. The Prince, now eighty years of age, fell ill of disappointment and died. His court had been royal in its magnificence; princes, kings, kans, governors, and ambassadors mingled in its gayeties, and each day it is said that seven hundred oxen, fourteen hundred sheep, and numberless fowls were killed to serve the princely board.

Basil owed his throne to the clever boyar Ivan, whose daughter he promised to marry, but the haughty Sofia, Vitovt's daughter, had more ambitious designs for her son. She married him to the Princess Maria, granddaughter of Vladimir the Brave.

They made a grand wedding; among the guests were George's two sons, Basil the Cross-eyed, and Dimitri, surnamed Shemiaka. The Cross-eyed wore around his waist a beautiful golden belt studded with jewels which was once a part of the dower of his grandmother, Dimitri Donski's wife. One of the old nobles knew it and told its romantic story to the Princess Sofia, who snatched it from its owner at the public banquet. The two brothers, not brooking such an open affront, at once mounted horse and rode off to their father.

George, urged by his two sons and the jilted boyar of Moscow, took up arms and made his nephew prisoner. Basil wept and begged to be set free, and George, contrary to his sons' advice, instead of putting him to death, gave him the town of Kostroma. George was now Grand Prince, but he found it an empty glory, for as soon as the men of Moscow learned that Basil was established as governor of Kostroma, they left Moscow, princes, boyars, captains, domestics, all, and pressed around their favorite prince as "bees cluster around their queen." George was forced to let his nephew return to Moscow and take the throne again, but even then he was loath to give up the struggle.

Once more the Kreml, together with Basil's wife and mother, fell into his hands. Hardly was he acknowledged as Grand Prince when he died suddenly at the age of sixty. Another war followed, and Basil took his cousin, Basil the Cross-eyed, prisoner, and in a fit of wrath put out his eyes. His repentance was as quick as his fury; as an act of atonement he set free Shemiaka, who promised to be his faithful ally.

Church in Cathedral Place


About this time the Kan Ulu was expelled from the Golden Horde, and gathering a great army of Tartars, Lithuanians, Novgorod Freebooters, and "good companions" of all races and tongues, he established an empire at Kazan on the ruins of the ancient "White City" of the Bulgars, and began to tyrannize over the Mordva and all the other tribes of the Volga valley. He grew rapidly in power and wealth, and soon came in collision with Basil. A battle took place near Moscow. Shemiaka played the traitor; Basil was left with only fifteen hundred men to bring into the field, but he fought with the energy of despair; an arrow pierced his hand, he lost several fingers by the stroke of a Tartar sword, and at last, struck down by a battle-axe and covered with fifteen wounds, he fell into the hands of the Kan, at whose court he found his faithless ally trying to get himself appointed Grand Prince.

Ulu kept Basil prisoner a few months and then set him free for a small ransom. He came back to Moscow amid the joyous shouts of the people, and with a few companions went to the Trinity Monastery to return thanks to Saint Sergi for his liberation. While he was away his cousin Shemiaka appeared before Moscow with Prince Ivan of Mozhaisk and a band of conspirators, took the Kreml by surprise, and captured Basil's wife and mother and all his treasures. Then they hastened to the monastery after Basil, who hearing the tumult tried to find a horse whereon to escape, but it was in vain. He took refuge in the Church of the Trinity, and the sexton made fast the doors. His enemies rode up the steps and Ivan of Mozhaisk stumbled on the stones and was thrown from his horse. Pale as a corpse at this omen he nevertheless demanded where the Grand Prince was. Basil, hearing his voice, said,—

"Brothers, have mercy upon me. Let me stay here. I will not leave the monastery; I will become a monk,"

Taking the ikon, or picture, from the tomb of Saint Sergi, he went to the church door and said to Prince Ivan,—

"Brother, did we not swear by the living cross, by this ikon, by this church, and this wonder-working tomb, not to do harm to each other? and now I know not what is being done to me."

Prince Ivan replied,—

"Lord, if we have thought to do thee any harm may the same befall us. What we are doing is for Christianity's sake, for thy ransom; for when the Tartars know of this they will lighten thy ransom."

Basil, seeing the treachery, replaced the holy ikon, and, falling prostrate on the "wonder-working tomb," began to pray with such sobs and lamentation that even his enemies were moved. Nevertheless they seized him, and he said, The will of God be done."

He was brought to Moscow, and Shemiaka avenged his brother by plucking out the Grand Prince's eyes and sending him to a far-off city.

Shemiaka mounted the throne, but was so cruel and unjust that he soon won the hatred of all his subjects, who remained always faithful to their luckless Basil. To this day, when a ruler gives an unjust sentence, it is called by the people a "Shemiaka's judgment."

Basil's friends assembled troops in Lithuania, and, with the aid of two sons of Ulu Kan and many princes, took the field. Shemiaka started out against them, but he had no sooner left the city than a revolt broke out, and the blind Basil was restored in triumph to the throne.

Three years later, "the ferocious and implacable" Shemiaka, unable to keep his word, again took the field, but was completely overwhelmed by the Muscovites and Tartars near Galitch. His domains were added to Moscow, and he himself took refuge in Novgorod, where he died by poison, much to the relief of his cousin Basil the Blind.

Novgorod had not ceased to give shelter to his enemies, to disobey his lieutenants, and to show a dangerous spirit of independence. Basil made up his mind to subdue the proud commonwealth. He sent an army and forced the city to give the Prince of Moscow full control and to pay a tribute of ten thousand rubles. Pskof and Viatka also were made to acknowledge his power. He brought to Moscow the young Prince of Riazan, whose father had just died, and governed the province by a lieutenant. He put the grandson of Vladimir the Brave in prison and robbed him of his possessions, in spite of the great services he had done. During Basil's reign the dreadful leather whip, with curled edges, called the knout, was invented, and used unsparingly upon his subjects, whether they were rebels or not.

Timur the Lame had conquered Baiazet the Thunderbolt at Angora, but soon the Turks were again in the full tide of victory and pressing hard upon the Eastern Empire. It seemed that the only way to save Europe from the deluge of these invaders was to unite in a general crusade. It was proposed to hold a Council at Florence and discuss the union of the Greek and Roman churches. The Emperor of Constantinople, who hoped that the Pope and the Western kings would send him aid, signed the act of union; and his example was followed by three of his vicars, seventeen metropolitan bishops, and a host of the lower clergy of his communion. Among them was Isidor, the Metropolitan of Moscow, who came back from Florence, full of zeal for the great reconciliation. The Latin cross suddenly made its appearance in the Russian cathedrals and the name of the Roman Pope was brought into the liturgy. The orthodox Russians were shocked at the change, but no one was more angry than the Grand Prince Basil the Blind. He called Isidor a false shepherd, and so covered him with insults that he was glad to escape with his life to Rome.

Mosque of Saint Sophia at Constantinople


The Greek Empire, deprived of help from the West, fell before the genius of the young Sultan, Mahomet, the Ottoman leader, who launched eighty ships in the harbor of Constantinople, killed the emperor, and changed his palace into a seraglio and the splendid cathedral of Santa Sofia into a Moslem mosque.

From this time Moscow became the chief seat of the Greek Church and a refuge of the artists, writers, and priests of Constantinople, the apostles of the renascence.

At the time of Basil's death the Lithuanian and Tartar empires nearly stifled the little Russian state of Moscow, which eight successive princes had not yet made into a stable kingdom. Riazan and Tver still held aloof; Novgorod and Pskof were ready at any pretext to choose their princes from Lithuania rather than from Moscow. The Empire of the Golden Horde was broken up into several powerful states; Ulu threatened Moscow from the East. A descendant of Timur's old enemy Toktamish, named Azi, had founded an empire in the Crimea, or Krim, and ruled over Mongols and a host of tribes, Greeks and Goths, Armenians, Jews, and Genoese, the remains of ancient conquests. A peasant named Girei had rescued the Kan from death, and as a mark of gratitude the benefactor's name was henceforth used as a title by all the Krim kans. King Kashmir was the powerful monarch of Lithuania and Poland united. It was a critical time for Russia. Great princes began to reorganize the nations of Europe. Charles VII. and Louis XI. in France; the Tudors in England; Frederick III. and Maximilian in Austria; Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain, aided by the wealth brought from the new world beyond the sea. Russia also was destined to be freed from the Mongol yoke and to make mighty strides of progress. When a son, Ivan, was born to Basil the Blind, an old monk living at Novgorod the Great had a vision, and, troubled in spirit, came to the archbishop and said,—

An Armenian


"Verily to-day the Grand Prince triumphs: God has given him an heir. I behold this child making himself illustrious by glorious deeds. He will conquer princes and peoples. But woe to us! Novgorod will fall at his feet and never rise again."

At Basil's death Ivan was two-and-twenty years of age, and had been his father's assistant for a dozen years.

How Ivan the Great Humiliated Novgorod


Ivan, the fortunate heir of wise, ambitious, sparing ancestry, a cold, calm, imperious prince, born a despot, had no design of running risks by an appeal to arms when he could reach his ends by peaceful measures. Stephen of Moldavia said of him: Ivan is a strange man; he adds to his dominion by sitting at home and sleeping, while I can barely defend my own boundaries though I fight every day." He was willing to be thought a coward so long as he could outweary his foes by parleying and delay.

He was terrible in appearance; he hated women, and if by chance he met them his looks were so fierce that they fainted away. At dinner he drank so much wine that he was often oppressed with sleep, and his guests waited in silent terror until he awoke and began to rally them. He was hypocritical and cruel; he put his relatives to death and publicly wept for them; he whipped and mutilated, tortured and burned to death, nobles of the highest rank.

Ivan first quarrelled with Novgorod; he wanted the archbishop to be named by the Metropolitan of Moscow; he sent word: "Let my inheritance Great Novgorod beat the forehead (to bow so low that the brow touches the ground signifies in Russian to prefer a petition, or ask a favor) to me and I will spare it. Let Novgorod take my officers without complaint, as was the custom in the days of my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather."

The men of Novgorod thought that they could despise his authority, and they declined to "beat the forehead" to the new prince or adopt his suggestions. In his slow, decisive way he sent word to Pskof and said,—

"In case Novgorod the Great refuses to obey me according to the ancient custom, then shall Pskof my inheritance aid me, the Grand Prince, against Novgorod the Great to uphold my rights."

The men of Pskof were loath to embroil themselves with the neighbor city, and they sent messengers to Novgorod saying,—

"The Grand Prince will lead us against you. He wishes your submission; but if you beat the forehead to him we too shall have to yield."

As the messenger ceased speaking a voice was heard in the assembly:—

"We do not wish the Grand Prince of Moscow. We do not wish to be called his inheritance. We are free. We will not suffer insults from Moscow. We prefer' to yield ourselves up to Kashmir, King of Poland."

The council was divided into two factions: some shouted, "Long live orthodox Moscow! Long live our Grand Prince Ivan, and our father, the Metropolitan Philip!" others shouted, "Hurrah for the King!"

The leaders of the anti-Moscow party were Martha, the widow of a former posadnik, and her two grown up sons. She was of ready speech and eloquent, very bold and rich. Her party was the stronger, and after much tumult it was voted to give the city into the protection of the King of Poland. A formal act was drawn up with great solemnity: the commonwealth was to enjoy the ancient rights granted by Fiery Fame and which their elected princes had respected.

When Ivan heard of this act he called a council of his brothers, the Metropolitan, the archbishops, his boyars, and his captains, and told them that Novgorod must be brought to terms; and he demanded their opinion whether it were better to take immediate steps or wait for winter.

"The territory of Novgorod," said the Grand Prince, "is full of lakes and rivers and impassable marshes, and in days gone by those who went in summer against Novgorod lost many men."

But the council, more energetic than the Prince, decided to begin the war forthwith, and the chronicle says that "the Grand Prince went out against the men of Novgorod not as against Christians but as against pagans and backsliders, for they were traitors not only to their master but to God the Lord; and as his ancestor, the Grand Prince Dimitri, measured his strength with the godless Mamai, so did the orthodox Grand Prince John attack these traitors."

His captains conquered the lands of the northern Dvina, and, aided by Tartar horsemen, cruelly ravaged the possessions of the "perfidious men of Novgorod," cutting off the lips and noses of those whom they took alive. The cowardly King Kashmir stirred not for the relief of Novgorod the Great, but one of Martha's sons hastily gathered an army of forty thousand ill-trained soldiers and went out to the banks of the Shelona. Four thousand Muscovites dashed through the river and attacked the artisan-soldiers of Novgorod and put them to flight, though they were ten to one. Ivan made the rebels sign a shameful treaty and pay a large fine in silver rubles.

"At this time," says the chronicle, "the land was lawless and cared not for princes nor listened to them, and there was much evil done, murders, thefts, unjust divisions of property, and every one's hand was turned against his neighbor."

Many of the citizens, therefore, seeing that their discords were always on the increase, longed for Ivan's strong arm, and his party in the old city grew apace. At last he went in person and in peace to visit his inheritance. When he was yet a long way off the chief bishop and the posadnik and the nobles of Novgorod came to meet him, bringing splendid gifts. He entered the city welcomed by a loyal throng. He made his abode in the citadel but at first refused the hospitality of the city. A great boyar came and humbly "beat his forehead," begging the Grand Prince to dine at his house, but the invitation was declined. On the next day Ivan made a dinner and bade the chief bishop and the posadnik, and all the former mayors, and the captains of police, and many rich merchants, and while they were dining he let them see what a host of citizens came to him with their complaints. He was encouraged to establish a court, and from all the region round they came and brought him webs of cloth, and money, and gifts of wine, and he heard them all. He assumed more and more power. He suddenly arrested the posadnik and other leading citizens on charge of treason, and when the chief bishop came and beat his forehead before him, begging him to show mercy and let the prisoners go on bail, he said,—

"Not so; for it is known to thee, O servant of God, it is known to my inheritance, Novgorod the Great, that heretofore much mischief has been done by these men, and even now whatever trouble arises comes from them." That very day he sent the posadnik and three others to Moscow loaded with chains.

After he went back to Moscow the chief bishop and several boyars followed him and begged him to free the prisoners of Novgorod. He received them kindly in his palace, but not one of the exiles did he let go.

Still the quarrels of the factions continued. Many citizens, not being able to wait until Ivan should come again to Novgorod, brought their complaints to the Prince in Moscow. The posadnik was called before the Prince's tribunal to defend himself from many charges, and in turn many nobles and people of lower rank, the rustics, the nuns, widows, and all who felt aggrieved, came to complain of each other. "Never had this happened from the beginning, when the land first was, when the princes from Rurik down went to Kief and Vladimir. One only, the Grand Prince John, the son of Basil, brought them to this pass."

Afterwards two envoys from Novgorod went to the Grand Prince and, either by treachery' or by a slip of the tongue, called him Proprietor, or Sovereign, instead of "My Lord." He took advantage of this mistake and sent his bailiffs to seize the old palace of Fiery Fame, which for centuries had been looked upon as the temple of their liberties.

When the news of this fresh act of tyranny spread through the city the great tocsin of the Council rang once more with wild alarm. The people gathered together and put the Grand Prince's friends to death without mercy, and word was sent to Moscow:—

"We beat the forehead to thee as our lord, but we will not call thee proprietor; the court of thy deputies may meet in the citadel as of yore, but thy bailiff shall not dwell among us and we will not give up the palace of Fiery Fame."

Ivan heard the message, and said to the Metropolitan,—

"I did not desire sovereignty over them; they themselves besought me, and now they disavow it and give me the lie."

The Metropolitan, Ivan's mother and brothers, the nobles and captains, all Moscow, urged him to go forth against Novgorod the Great, the ally of Lithuania and the Pope of Rome, the enemy of the true faith. With a great army he marched against the rebel city, and when he drew near, the chief bishop, with the mayors and a throng of people, came out to meet him and beat their foreheads in the dust before him and said,—

"Lord Proprietor, John, son of Basil, Grand Prince of Russia! thou hast shown thy wrath upon thine inheritance, upon Novgorod the Great; thy sword and thy fire ravaged the land; the blood of Christians flowed. Have mercy upon thine inheritance, hold back thy sword, quench thy fire, let the blood of Christians cease to flow. Gospodin! Gosudar! So be it: let thy ban fall upon the nobles of Novgorod, take them to Moscow, but have pity on thine inheritance, Novgorod the Great."

Ivan listened to them, but answered never a word. The next day he sent three of his boyars to make known his demands:—

"I will reign at Novgorod the Great as I do at home in Moscow. No longer shall the bell call you to council; the office of the posadnik shall cease; the whole principality shall be mine."

Six days the men of Novgorod took counsel together. It was in vain that the patriotic party shouted, "Let us die for liberty and Saint Sofia!" The treaty was signed, giving the old commonwealth fully into Ivan's power. He sent Lady Martha and her grandson and many of the chief citizens to Moscow, and seized their goods. When he himself returned to his capital the great tocsin of the Council went too, and was placed in the public square of the Kreml, together with the other bells, the emblems of liberty.

Afterwards, when Moscow was threatened with an invasion of the Golden Horde, the men of Novgorod took occasion once more to seek Kasimir's help, but the envoy had hardly left the city when Ivan suddenly appeared before them. His cannon thundered at the walls, and he sent word:—

"I am the guardian of the guiltless and your lord. Open the gates. When I enter the city I will spare the innocent."

At last the gates were opened and the people fell on their faces and begged for forgiveness, which the Grand Prince granted, saying, loud enough for all to hear,—

"I, your proprietor, grant peace to all the guiltless. Have no fear."

Nevertheless, after he had heard mass in Saint Sofia, and dined with the posadnik, he caused fifty of the chief enemies of Moscow to be clapped into prison. They, being put to the torture, named the chief bishop and many more as traitors. The chief bishop was stripped of his possessions and sent to a distant monastery under guard, a hundred of the patriots were put to death, and a hundred men-at-arms and merchants were banished to Eastern cities. Not even then did he cease his cruelty; he listened to any charges which the men of Novgorod made against each other, at one time putting four nobles to death, at another torturing thirty citizens, sacking their houses, and sending their wives and children into exile. At another time he caused several thousand men, women, and children to be transplanted to the towns of Suzdal and their places to be filled with merchants from other places.

Bosnian Merchant


Ivan struck one last and terrible blow at the prosperity of the old city when he pillaged the German market. The Grand-Master of the town of Reval had unjustly treated some Russian merchants. Ivan angrily demanded satisfaction from the Livonian Order. His demands were rejected with insults. He then forbade all dealings with the Germans, and arrested in Novgorod fifty of the Hanse merchants and put them in prison, where several of them died. He carried off to Moscow three hundred wagon-loads of gold, silver, jewels, furs, silks, and other precious merchandise. The tale of this violence was noised throughout Northern Europe, and it was many long years before the merchants of Reval and Riga, Dorpat and Narva, again made their appearance in Russian lands.

Thus the Grand Prince killed the goose which laid the golden eggs.

The Fate of Viatka, Tver, and the Princes.

Viatka, trusting to its distance from Moscow, and to the marshes and trackless forests between them, was fain to keep its independence, and on one occasion dared to be openly disobedient to the Grand Prince and to despise the commands of the Metropolitan. Ivan immediately sent his general Prince Daniel with an army of sixty-four thousand men against the city. When it drew nigh, the chief citizens came out and besought him not to make war upon them.

"We beat the forehead to the Grand Prince," said they, "we submit to his will, we will pay tribute and offer him our services."

Prince Daniel in reply demanded that all Viatka, small and great, should kiss the cross, and that the three ring-leaders should be given up to him.

"Give us till to-morrow to decide," cried the inhabitants. They sat in debate two days, and then sent word that they would not give up the three men; but when they saw the preparations made for storming the city, and the bark and pitch piled for kindling against their wooden walls, they repented and surrendered. Ivan knouted the three ringleaders and hanged them: the chief boyars were exiled to other domains along the southern boundaries of the province, and the merchants were colonized in a distant city.

Tver was free, but only in name; when Prince Michael, Ivan's brother-in-law, troubled at the growth of Moscow, had the imprudence to marry the grand-daughter of Kasimir IV., King of Poland and Prince of Lithuania, and make an offensive and defensive alliance, Ivan declared war. Tver was not strong enough to resist, no help came from the King, and Michael was forced to send his archbishop and sue for peace. He agreed to look upon Ivan and his son as elder brothers, to give up the friendship of Kasimir, and never again to have any dealings with him without Ivan's consent. Peace was granted on these conditions, but soon there arose disputes between the nobles of Moscow and Tver. Michael again turned to Lithuania. His message was intercepted, and the letter was taken to Ivan, who hailed the pretext with delight, and went out in person against his former ally.

When the army came under the walls of Tver the citizens met him and submitted themselves, saying that Prince Michael had fled by night to Lithuania. Thus a principality which could furnish forty thousand soldiers was added to Moscow without a blow. In like manner Ivan grafted on to his growing empire domain after domain. Pskof, as a reward for its docility and faithful service, was for a time allowed to keep its Council, its ancient institutions, and its bell. The Grand Prince of Riazan, a boy of only five, was in the care of his grandmother Anna, Ivan's sister. She, as well as the boyars and the soldiers, the nobles and the rustics, was entirely devoted to the Grand Prince of Moscow.

Ivan's brother George died, and he seized all his towns. Andrew, who had refused to march against the Eastern Tartars, ventured into Moscow and was thrown into prison. When the Metropolitan begged him to set his brother free, he replied,—

"I am sorry for my brother, and I have no wish to punish him and meet thy reproaches; but I cannot set him free because it is not once alone that he has done me harm, but even now he is plotting to be Grand Prince instead of my son. He has constantly tried to make discord among my children, and if he should succeed the Tartars would come again and take tribute and cause Christian blood to flow as before, and you would be slaves to the Tartars."

As he allowed George to die in prison, the clergy found it hard to forgive him. The Metropolitan and the bishops assembled in his palace; and he came before Ahem with mock humility, with downcast eyes bathed in tears, and accused himself of having been too cruel. Nevertheless he took George's domain and imprisoned his children. About the same time his brother Boris died leaving two sons; but Ivan added their domain to his own.

Thus he won the title, "The Collector of the Russian Lands."

How Ivan the Great


When Ivan was a lad of twelve and beginning to share his father's throne, he was married to Maria, the daughter of Boris, Grand Prince of Tver. She did not live long: it is said that one of her women procured from a witch a magic belt which poisoned her. She left one son also named Ivan.

Two years later a Greek named George, ambassador from the Pope of Rome, made his appearance at Ivan's court, with a letter from Cardinal Bessarion.

At the time that the Turks took Constantinople, the Emperor's brother Thomas escaped with his family to Rome, where he died leaving two sons and a cultured and beautiful daughter, Sophia, whom the Pope took into his protection.

The Cardinal's envoy assured Ivan that the Pope aid him the honor to offer him Sophia's hand, which had been refused to many royal suitors, including the King of France and the Duke of Milan.

The Grand Prince heard the message and was troubled; but the Metropolitan was delighted, and said,—

"God sends thee this illustrious spouse, a branch of the imperial tree which once overshadowed all orthodox Christianity. Happy alliance, which will make of Moscow another Constantinople and give its grand princes all the rights of the Grecian tsars!"

After a solemn consultation with his mother and his nobles, at the next moon he sent to Rome as ambassador the master of his mint, John Friazin, Italian born, who came back with the portrait of the Princess and a passport for Russian ambassadors through all the lands holding the Roman faith.

The Grand Prince was charmed, and again his mint-master made the long journey to Rome, this time empowered to sign the marriage bond. The Pope, dreaming of a union between the churches of the West and East, and seeing in the Grand Prince of Moscow a mighty ally against Mahomet II., who was boasting that he would feed his horse from the altar of Saint Paul's, found no great difficulty in believing all that the wily mint-master said; and he on his part caring not a straw for either form of faith, "told what was not, promised what could not be, so that the event desired no less in Moscow than in Rome might be brought about."

St. Nicholas Church and St. Nicholas gate


On a beautiful day of June the Princess Sophia, richly dowered by the Pope, and escorted by Cardinal Antonio, and with a host of Greeks and Italians in her train, left Rome to meet her northern lord. No hasty trip was this, but slow and dignified: from Rome to Lubeck, from Lubeck by sea in a gorgeously decorated ship to Reval.

On an October day, the Council-bell of Pskof was heard to ring, and when the citizens hastily gathered in the Court, Nicholas, the herald from Reval, rose to address them:—

"The daughter of the Grecian tsar is on her away across the sea, is bound for Moscow,—the daughter of Thomas, Prince of the Morea, the niece of Constantine, Tsar of Tsargrad, Sophia, and she is to be our sovereign lady, and to the Grand Prince Ivan a wife, and do ye, men of Pskof, prepare to receive her honorably."

Having thus spoken the herald passed on to Novgorod and to Moscow. The people of Pskof made all preparations to welcome the Princess; the posadnik and the aldermen, the boyars and the men-at-arms, went out to their borders to meet her, and waited for her eight full days on the banks of the Embach. The river was gay with boats and banners, and when at last she came they filled cups and golden horns with wine and mead, and beat their foreheads before her. Sophia graciously accepted their homage and, escorted by a splendid train, rode into Pskof. First she went to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity with the Cardinal and her friends, and afterwards to the palace, where again the officials of the city and the boyars and all Pskof brought gifts,—wine and mead and meats and food and horses for her friends and servants. They also gave her gifts of money, and the mint-master was not forgotten: ten silver rubles was his share.

When the Princess saw what honor the citizens of Pskof were doing her, she made a graceful little speech:—

"Now I am anxious to set out upon my way to meet my lord and your sovereign at Moscow. For your honorable reception of me, for your bread, wine, and mead, I thank you. When, God willing, I am in Moscow and occasion arises, I shall always look out zealously for your interests."

Having thus spoken she bade farewell to the posadnik and to all Pskof, and departed to Novgorod.

While being entertained in Novgorod the Great the Grand Prince held another council with his mother, his brothers, and his nobles, touching the manner of receiving the Grecian Princess. Hitherto into whatsoever city she came the Cardiff Antonio had walked before her with the Latin cross in his hand, and some declared that such a scandal should never be allowed in holy Moscow, and others brought to mind how the Roman faith had been treated by Basil the Blind, and how Isidor, Metropolitan of Moscow, had been ruined by it. Ivan was perplexed and asked the opinion of Philip, his Metropolitan, who replied,—

"It is contrary to all right for such an ambassador to enter the city with his cross, or even to draw nigh. If thou, wishing to do him honor, permittest him to do this, when he enters the city by one gate, I, thy father, shall go out by another. It is an outrage for us to think of such a thing, since he who dallies with a false faith is recreant to his own."

The Grand Prince sent a noble to take away the offensive cross and hide it in his sledge. Antonio was at first inclined to resist, but yielded in spite of the secret advice of Ivan's mint-master, who wished due honor to be paid to the Pope's envoy. On the first day of December Sophia entered Moscow, and was immediately married to the Grand Prince with great pomp.

Cathedral of the Assumption


Sophia brought with her all the pageantries of Constantinople. In her train were the wily statesmen, the learned theologians, the skilful artists of the East. Under the direction of her Greek and Italian architects Ivan caused the kreml to be surrounded with new white stone walls, solid and high, topped with notched battlements, and guarded by eighteen towers. Pietro of Milan built the gate afterwards called "Our Saviour," which no one can enter covered, and another Italian built the gate of St. Nicholas, the avenger of perjury, before whose image suitors make solemn oath.

At Ivan's request, Aristotle of Bologna, the favorite architect of Western popes and kings, came with his son, Andrew, and his apprentice, at a salary of ten rubles a month. He rebuilt the Cathedral of the Assumption, where, for four hundred years, the Russian tsars have been crowned. Russian architects had made many efforts to build this church. Aristotle inspected the works, praised the smoothness of the walls, but said the lime was not properly made. He caused a battering-ram of his own invention to be set up, and wonderful to relate, says an old chronicle, the foundations which had taken three years to build he succeeded in laying flat in less time than is credible.. Then he placed solid foundations and built the cathedral in four years.

When it was done Ivan sent to all his cities and gathered the metropolitans and archbishops, bishops and clergy, and made a great consecration service. Countless candles lighted up the pillars overlaid with solid gold, and threw a sombre glow upon the faces of the, saints and angels, brought out the details of the "Last Judgment" and "The End of the World" painted on the walls, gleamed on the diamonds and jewels of the screens, and drove away the shadows which forever dwell about its windowless, dungeon-like vaults.

Aristotle, besides building Ivan's churches, coined money for him, invented a pontoon bridge to be used in his attack upon Novgorod, and cast the cannon which enabled him to conquer the lesser princes and Kazan. Paolo Bossio of Genoa cast for him the tsar of guns, a mighty monster which rests a silent guardian of the Kreml walls. After the completion of the Assumption Cathedral Ivan ordered an Italian to build him a stone palace with a gilded roof. This was called the palace of cut stone, and was afterwards used for the reception of ambassadors. The Red Stair case, from the top of which the tsars showed the light of their eyes to the people, still exists, and the Terem, or women's apartment, with its painted ceiling; the vaulted Hall of Council, and the oratory where Ivan's guardian saints are pictured on backgrounds of gold.

Arms of Russia


Ivan the Great, by his marriage with the Grecian Princess, became the heir of the Emperors of Constantinople and of the Roman Caesars. He took for his new arms the double-headed eagle, the symbol of imperial power. Russia henceforth is not a dismembered collection of principalities but an Empire.

How Ivan the Great


The quarrels and rivalry of the three hordes into which the Tartar Empire was divided served the Russian prince in good stead. The Kans of Kazan, Sarai, or the Krim, when expelled from their thrones, often took refuge with Ivan and served in his armies against Novgorod or Lithuania. Five years before his marriage with Sophia he sent his army against Kazan, but owing to the lateness of the season it was unable to cross the Volga, and suffered much from rain and cold, and many soldiers perished of hunger.

Two years later, in the spring, he made great preparations. A fleet of boats from all the towns along the Moskva, the Oka, and the Volga, assembled at Lower Novgorod, where the union of the rivers makes an inland sea. The leaders addressed the army with eloquent words, and the soldiers shouted,—

"We all wish to go against the accursed Tartars, for the glory of the church, for our sovereign, the Grand Prince, and for orthodox Christianity."

Full of religious enthusiasm, they bade the priests chant the Te Deum, and then they set forth.

After camping two nights on the route, they reached Kazan at early morning, took the suburbs by surprise, and, with the sound of trumpets, began to murder the sleeping Tartars. Then they set fire to the wooden houses on all sides, and the natives, rather than fall alive into the hands of the Christians, shut themselves into their mosques with their wives, their children, and their goods, and perished in the flames. The Russians, wearied with slaughter, and not able to get within the walls of the city itself, embarked for an island, where they stayed several days. At last there came in full haste a prisoner escaped from Kazan, who said,—

"Ibrahim is coming at daybreak with all his forces, boats, and cavalry."

When they heard this news there was great stir in the camp: the younger men were sent in the better boats to another island; all made ready to defend themselves. The Tartar forces came in clouds; even the women shot arrows, but the Russians, dauntless, went out against them and drove them back into Kazan.

It was a Sunday morning; the priests had performed the service, and all were making ready for dinner. Suddenly the Tartars again made their appearance, some in boats, others on horse upon the shore. All day the battle lasted and the arrows flew, and night came down upon the battle.

The Russians felt it best to retreat, and the Tartars followed close at their heels. In a hand-to-hand skirmish one of Ivan's nobles won great fame by leaping amid a fleet of Tartar canoes bound together, and scattering his enemies with his club. After losing many men the brave band reached Lower Novgorod in safety.

Ivan was still humble before the Kan of the Golden Horde, and though he avoided paying tribute he often sent costly gifts, and managed to keep on the right side of the powerful Akmat.



This state of affairs was a great grief to the spirited Sophia. She said to him,—

"My father and I preferred to lose our inheritance rather than pay tribute; and I refused my hand to brave, strong princes and kings, and came to thee, but thou art willing for me and my children to be slaves. Is it because thou hast only a small army that thou art called his slave and hast not the power to defend thy honor and the holy faith?"

Ivan was stirred out of his usual caution by this appeal, and when Akmat sent his envoys demanding tribute, instead of meeting them on foot, beating his forehead before them, spreading costly carpets for their horses to tread upon, Ivan, in the presence of his court, takes the Kan's portrait seal, breaks it, and tramples it in the dust. He puts to death all the envoys except one, to whom he cries,—

"Depart! Tell the Kan what has happened to his seal and to his envoys, and say the same will happen to him also if he leave me not in peace."

Akmat took the field and Ivan went out to meet him with an army of one hundred and eighty thousand men armed with arquebuses and furnished with cannon but the sight of the barbarians filled his soul with fear. He even abandoned his army, hastened back to Moscow, and hid behind the Kreml walls. The people were indignant at such craven conduct, and the priests and boyars murmured, saying,—

"Thou, O Sovereign Grand Prince, hast of thine own accord angered the Kan, not paying him the tribute; and yet thou dost leave us to the mercy of the Tartars."

And the aged Vassian, Archbishop of Rostof, sought Ivan in the Kreml and upbraided him:—

"All the blood of the Christians cries out upon thee because thou hast abandoned the cause of Christianity, taken refuge in flight, and hast not given battle to the Tartars. Why dost thou fear death? Thou art not an immortal man but mortal, and free from the fate of death is neither man nor bird nor beast. Give me who am an old man thy army, and thou shalt see whether I turn my back upon the Tartars."

Ivan sent a letter to his son, commanding him at least to return to the safety of Moscow, but the brave young man replied, "I will meet death anywhere, but I will not return to my father."

Priest of the Greek Church


Then the Grand Prince, overcome by the prayers and entreaties of his mother and the clergy, made up his mind to take his place with the army, and the Metropolitan blessed his cross and said,—

"God preserve thy realm by the power of this holy cross and give thee victory over thine enemies! Be brave and true, my son, not as a hireling but as a good shepherd laying down his life for his sheep. Strive to save the flock from the wolf, and God the Lord will give thee strength and aid." And all the clergy said,—

"Amen! God will be thy helper."

Ivan set forth, but still doubted his power to give battle. The two armies, encamped on opposite sides of the Oka, were content to exchange arrows and insults. The Kan sent an envoy saying,—

"I have pity upon Ivan: only let him come in person to me and beat his forehead, as his fathers came to my fathers at the Horde."

Again he sent and said,—

"Since he is unwilling to come in person, let him send his son, or his brothers; let him send his boyar, Nikifor."

Even this Ivan declined to do; but he also held his hand from fighting, and the white-haired Vassian lost patience and sent a letter "to the orthodox and Christian and noble and God-crowned and God-strengthened Tsar, in glory shining to all the ends of the world, most illustrious, most glorious Sovereign, Grand Prince of all Russia," urging him to lay aside his weakness, to think no more of asking peace of this busurman  Akmat, (The mussulmans called busurman) whose armies came to put his people to the sword, and his churches to pollution.

"Go out to meet this godless Akmat," he wrote, "calling to mind thy ancestors, the grand princes, who not only freed Russia from the pagans, but conquered foreign lands. I mean Igor and Holy Fame and Vladimir, who took tribute from the Grecian tsars; of Monomak, who fought with the cursed Kumans for the Russian land; and many others whom thou knowest better than I. What bravery and valor did not thy ancestor, the Grand Prince Dimitri, show by the Don, in face of these same accursed gluttons!"

Ivan assured the archbishop that his letter filled his heart with joy, courage, and strength; but he let another fortnight pass in inaction.

It was now November; the river was coated with ice, which the Tartars were expecting soon to be able to cross. Ivan, seeing that the battle was nigh at hand, ordered his troops to change their position by night. This caused a panic; the soldiers felt that this order was a confession of weakness. They began a hasty and confused retreat, and soon were in full flight toward "Holy Mother Moscow."

And now happened one of the most wonderful events of history. The next morning the Tartars, seeing not a Russian on the banks of the river, began to suspect some dreadful ambuscade, such as Dimitri of the Don had used against their fathers; sudden panic spread through the ranks of the barbarians; they too began to retreat, and the flight soon became general. They left their tents and their utensils. By the time that Ivan's demoralized troops, hearing the Tartars at their heels, had safely hid themselves in Moscow, Akmat's army, pursued by fear of the Russians, was in full course down the Don; the two great hosts flying each from the other.

Akmat had hardly reached the banks of the Volga when he was attacked by Ivak, Kan of the Shiban, who put him to death, made his wives and children prisoners, and sent word to the Prince of Moscow that his great foe was dead.

Thus Ivan, "not by the might of earth's warriors nor by human wisdom, but by the will of God," repulsed the last invasion of the Golden Horde. His people saw that they had misjudged him: "His craven conduct was prudence, his cowardice was wisdom, his flight was skill."

The relations of Ivan with the Kans of the Crimea were far different. He sent to Mengli-Girei an envoy with a humble petition for friendship.

Mengli answered,—

"I, Mengli Girei, by the supreme will of God, Tsar, grant my favor to my brother, accept his love and friendship, and desire perpetual peace from children to grandchildren. Everywhere my friend shall be his friend, my enemy his enemy."

This friendship lasted all the rest of Ivan's life, and was as useful against the Golden Horde as against his other great enemy, the Lithuanian.

How Ivan Dealt with his Son-in-Law

Ivan's bitterest foe was Kasimir, master of united Poland and Lithuania. His hand was against him in all parts, now stirring up the smaller princes to rebel, now causing the Tartars of the East to attack their ancient tributary. Just before Kasimir died it was discovered in Moscow that he had engaged a certain prince to put an end to Ivan, either by dagger or poison. The poison was found on the prince's person. He was seized and burned to death, and several whom his confession connected with the plot were punished. Ivan was spoiling for war, and when Kasimir died and left Poland to his eldest son Ian, and Lithuania to Alexander, he resolved to turn the division of power to account.

While he had been engaged in shaking off the Mongol yoke, his faithful ally, Mengli, Kan of the Crimea, kept Lithuania in check, pillaging the Ukraine, that is to say, the Marches of Poland, and sacking Kief and the Monastery of the Caves. Now Mengli Girei turned his arms against the Kan of Saran, and Ivan began to pay off old scores with Lithuania. He was seconded by the celebrated Stephen, Gospodar of Moldavia, whose daughter Helena his son Ivan had married. He won the friendship of Matthew Corvin, King of Hungary. In his army marched many disaffected princes of Lithuania. Peace was made after a short campaign, and the Russian frontier was carried back to the river Diesna.

"Lithuania," said Ivan's envoys to Alexander, "once profited by the ill fortune of Russia to take our land; but to-day things are different."

Alexander sent one of his captains, begging for peace and for the hand of Ivan's daughter Elena.

Ivan consented, and the agreement was drawn up with due solemnity. It was demanded that the princess, his daughter, should under no circumstances change her faith, that she should have a Greek chapel in the palace and an orthodox service.

On a cold January day, after hearing mass in the Assumption Cathedral, with his family and his nobles, Ivan gave his daughter to the Lithuanian envoys. He rode part way with her, and at parting gave her the most careful directions as to her conduct, her dress, her table, her way of travelling. He bade her say her prayers in every cathedral; he told her how to treat the Polish lords and their invitations; but warned her against the refugees from Russia and the descendants of Shemiaka. He scrupulously enjoined upon her to beware of entering Romish churches or monasteries; if her mother-in-law, the Queen, desired her to go to the Catholic Communion in Vilno, she must accompany the Queen to the door and then politely excuse herself, and turn her steps to her own church.

Not long afterwards, Prince Simeon Bielski sent to Ivan for permission to enter his service, saying that he suffered great outrage in Lithuania on account of the true faith. He declared that the Grand Prince Alexander forced Elena to do violence to her conscience, and to wear the Polish dress; that her domestics and orthodox almoners were dismissed, and their places filled by renegades to the faith; that the Greek religion was foully persecuted; and that the assassins of the archbishop of Kief had gone unpunished.

Ivan, ever the champion of orthodoxy, hailed the broken agreement as a pretext for war, and hastened to take the field. His army captured many cities and reconquered all the country between the Diesna and the Sozha. Alexander could not bear to see the conquests of his fathers thus taken from him, and he sent out an army under his captain, Constantine, who fell into an ambush on the banks of the Vedrosha and was captured with all his men.

There was great rejoicing in Moscow.

The war dragged along. The army of the North, furnished by Novgorod and Pskof, made some conquests, but Dimitri, Ivan's son, was unable to take Smolensk. The Kan of the Crimea continued pitilessly to devastate Galitch and Volynia, and Alexander, at the end of his resources, made an alliance with the Livonian Order. The Grand-Master Walter of Plettenberg was more than willing to take up the quarrel, as it gave him a chance to avenge the seizure of the Hanse wares at Novgorod, and the building of the many-towered stronghold of Ivangorod opposite Narva.

Novgorod  Village


Ivan sent an army under two of his princes, which met the grand-master at Siritsa. "The Germans," says the annalist, "let loose the winds upon the Russian host, and fire from cannon and from arquebuses, and when the regiments of Pskof had fled they turned their guns upon the men of Moscow, and so dense was the smoke and so horrible the noise that they also took refuge in flight."

After this victory and several more, sickness fell upon Walter's army, and he had to withdraw in great chagrin. The next year Ivan sent a stronger army, which defeated the "iron men" and caused them a loss of forty thousand killed and prisoners.

Kan Akmat's son, Shig Akmet, the new Kan of the Golden Horde, was making preparations to avenge his father's death upon Moscow. Mengli, the Kan of the Crimea, was on the watch for him, and fell upon him suddenly and cut his army to pieces.

Shig Akmet refused Ivan's offer of friendship and alliance against Lithuania, and took refuge among the Turks. Sarni, where the Russian princes had so many years basely groveled in the dust, was utterly thrown down, and "its ruins were henceforth a home of serpents."

Alexander was now elected King of Poland in place of his brother Ian, who had died, and he was heartily anxious to end the long and ruinous war. His brother, the King of Bohemia and Hungary, sent an embassy, offering his mediation. The Pope also sent to Ivan, urging the need of peace, since the Turks ceased not to threaten Christianity with destruction; since indeed they had taken two Venetian cities in the Morea, and were about to make a descent upon Italy.

"Therefore," said the Pope, "should all Christian governments dwell in peace." The Hungarian envoy, in the name of his king, gave counsel that the first step against the Turk should be the end of the war between Alexander and Ivan. Elena also wrote an affectionate letter to her father, telling how kind and honorable was her husband's treatment of her, and how eager were the king and his family, and the whole land, to have lasting peace, brotherly love, friendship, and aid against the pagans:—

"War, discord, sack and fire of cities and cantons, rivers of Christian blood, wives made widows, children made orphans, slavery, tears, lamentations. Is this thy kindness and love toward me?" she cries. Ivan was for a moment touched, and made a compact of peace to last six years. Alexander agreed not to meddle with Russian lands and to yield to his father-in-law nineteen cities and more than a hundred fortresses and towns.

Ivan's Relations with Western Europe

The dealings of Russia with Western Europe during the reign of Ivan III. began to be frequent and important. The Grand Prince made an alliance with John, King of Denmark, who was ambitious to mount the throne of Sweden. He sent to his aid an army under three of his captains, who ravaged the coasts of Finland, but found themselves, after a three months' siege, unable to take Viborg, the walls of which were defended by enormous cannon. Ivan sent a larger army, which joined battle with the Swedes and caused them a loss of seven thousand men. The following year the Swedes had their revenge: with seventy ships they sailed to the mouth of the Nar' a and attacked the newly founded fortress Ivangorod. The Russian commandant saw that the casemates were beginning to catch fire from the red-hot shells, and he made his escape; the stronghold was taken and sacked. This war, however, was short. John of Denmark became King of Sweden.

A curious circumstance brought Russia into relationship with Austria. An Austrian knight, led by his thirst to see all Christian lands, took a letter from the Emperor Frederick III. and visited Moscow. At first he was taken for a Polish spy with designs upon the Grand Prince's life, and his story was scarcely believed. He managed to clear himself; satisfied his curiosity, and came back to tell the Germans that the Prince of Moscow, instead of being the vassal of the King of Poland, was vastly more powerful and rich than he. "His estates are immense," he said, "his people without number, his wisdom beyond belief. Frederick sent the knight back again, secretly to demand the hand of Ivan's daughter for his nephew, the Margrave of Baden, and offering to get Ivan from the Pope the title of King. Ivan proudly answered "that he was through God's grace sovereign of his own countries since the beginning, and by right of his ancestors, and that he held his station from' God himself, and he prayed to God it might be so preserved to him and his children; and as in times past he had never wished the nomination of any other power neither did he now."

Clergy of the Russian Church


The Austrian envoy was troubled in heart and spoke no more of title, but said,—

"The Grand Prince has two daughters: if he be unwilling to give one of them to the Margrave of Baden will he not give one of them to Johann, Prince of Saxony, and the other to the Margrave of Brandenburg?"

Ivan replied by sending George, his favorite Greek ambassador, to the imperial court to declare to the Emperor Frederick that the great sovereign of Russia, the heir of the tsars of Byzantium who gave Rome to the Pope, felt that his daughter was worthy of a higher alliance than with a margrave, even with his son, Maximilian.

Maximilian wished first to see the Princess and to know what her dower should be. Ivan answered that it was not the custom in Russia to set forth their princesses on show, and that after her marriage she should have a dower suited to her high birth, and when he furthermore declared that she must be allowed to have her own religion, Greek priests, and service as long as she lived, nothing more was said of the marriage, but a treaty of alliance was signed at Moscow for mutual aid against the Kings of France and Poland, and frequent embassies were exchanged between the courts. Maximilian was married to Anne of Brittany, and Elena, as has been said, became Queen of Poland.

With the great republic of Venice, "the bride of the Adriatic," then at the height of its power, Ivan had friendly dealings. The envoy who arranged his marriage with Sophia was a native of Venice. The Venetians were at that time involved in a bloody war with the Turks, and were anxious to gain over the Tartars as their allies. When their old countryman, the Grand Prince's envoy, reached Rome the Venetians sent him rich gifts and begged him to take back their envoy to Moscow under his protection and put him on the right way to the Horde. Ivan's envoy readily yielded, but when he came to Moscow he failed to tell the Grand Prince whom he was hiding in his house. It was noised abroad, however, and came to Ivan's ears. He had both the Venetians clapped into prison, and sent his envoy's brother Antonio to Venice to say to the Doge,—

"Why hast thou done this dishonor to me, sending thy envoy stealthily through my land without a word to me?"

The Doge apologized, and begged for the release of the Venetians and for a safe conduct for his envoy to the Kan. The Grand Prince accepted the apology and granted the favor which the Doge asked.

Ivan afterwards sent to Venice for architects and craftsmen. When the Venetian ambassador to Persia, sent to incite Ussum Kassan to make war on Mahomet II., came back from Ispahan in company with Ivan's own Persian envoy the Italian, Marco Rosso, he stopped at Moscow and was greatly impressed by the magnificence of the court and his kind reception by "the Duke Zuanne, Lord of Great White Russia." "When in speaking I respectfully drew back," he says, "the Grand Prince always came closer to me and gave careful heed to all I had to say."

Ambassadors came to Ivan from the furthest east, from Georgia and Siberia. Matthew Corvin of Hungary sent him mining engineers, architects, and silver-smiths. Italy and Germany sent him physicians and all kinds of craftsmen.

Ivan's eldest son, Ivan, the husband of Helena of Moldavia, fell sick and was put under the care of a Jewish leech, Mister  Leon from Venice, for he said,—

"I will cure thy son; if I fail I will answer with my life."

Leon gave him drugs and treated him with hot water, but the young man grew worse and died. The unlucky leech was executed in the public square. Ivan's son left one son, Dimitri. A great contest arose who should be the Grand Prince's successor, this grandson, Dimitri, or Sophia's son, Gabriel-Basil, who inherited from Constantinople the traditions of his "purple-born" ancestors. The Grand Prince hesitated long. The court was divided into two factions. For three generations the throne had come down in the direct line; precedent was on the side of Dimitri; most of the princes and nobles favored him because they hated Sophia and the foreign customs which she brought with her.

Suddenly Ivan came to a decision; he put Basil under guard, drowned six of his partisans in the Moskva River, cut off the hands and feet of others, and threw others into prison. His wrath fell also on Sophia, and he sent her away. She was charged with dealing with witches who came through the river to her chamber and brought her magic spells to put an end to her son's rival and his mother.

He even went so far as to cause his grandson to be crowned. Soon after Ivan changed his mind, imprisoned Helena, Dimitri's mother, and put to death some of his most illustrious boyars. Sophia was restored to favor, and her son, Basil, was proclaimed heir to the throne. Pskof and Novgorod dared to protest. Ivan haughtily replied to the envoys whom they sent,—

"Am I not lord over my grandson and my sons? To whomsoever I will I give the Grand Principality;" and he threw them into prison.

Before Ivan died he framed a new code of laws which had little tenderness for criminals: thieves when caught were to be bastinadoed; death punished the second offence. If a man charged another with theft or murder he was obliged to stand by his words and prove it in a duel. In such contests the men were often dressed in coats of mail, in breast-plate and helmet; they had a lance, a hatchet, and a sort of two-edged dagger. Women and priests were allowed to be represented by a champion. Sometimes the friends of the two parties forgot themselves, and the fight became a general melée  with fists, clubs, and fire-pointed sticks.

During his reign Ivan the Great added four hundred thousand subjects to his rule, and extended his realm from Kief to Kazan. In his treasury was untold wealth: countless crowns of gold, sumptuous plate and costly vases, cups and horns and golden pans, fur collars adorned with jewels and pearls, fur cloaks and caps, embroidered vestments, rings and seals, crosses and ikons, silken damask beds, pillow-cases and pillows embroidered in gold, rich trunks of oak filled with precious things, ivory boxes holding earrings and necklaces, bracelets and thimbles, belts and laces; such treasures had never before been seen in Russia.

Ivan left five sons; to Basil he gave Moscow and sixty of the chief cities of the land; among the others he divided thirty cities and the remaining third of his domain, and he left them this commandment:—

"Do you, my children, George, Dimitri, Simon, and Andrew, receive my son Basil, your eldest brother, in place of me your father; obey him in all things; and thou, my son Basil, hold thy brothers in honor and without reproach."

Thus Basil became Tsar.

Basil and Lithuania

Alexander, King of Poland, died childless and was succeeded by his brother, Sigismond. Basil was eager to be elected Prince of Lithuania, and wrote to his sister, Elena, begging her to use all her influence for his nomination. Sigismond, however, like his brother and father, united both crowns, which caused some discontent in Lithuania.

Alexander's chief favorite had been Prince Michael Glinski, a powerful noble of Tartar origin, who had served on important missions to Spain, Italy, and Austria. He was a brave and skilful general, a man of vast understanding and spirit, and so rich and ambitious that he was envied and hated by the other nobles, who ceased not to accuse him before Sigismond of harboring designs upon the throne of Lithuania. Their persecution at last became so fierce that Prince Michael wrote to Basil for aid and protection. Basil declared war. Glinski joined his forces to the army of Moscow, which again invaded the principality. The war was short, and was followed by a "perpetual peace." Sigismond confirmed Basil in his father's conquests, and gave Glinski and his friends leave to dwell in Russia.

Glinski was too ambitious to be satisfied with the results of this peace, and he constantly sought pretexts for another war. Albert, Margrave of Brandenburg, began to quarrel with his uncle and overlord, the King of Poland. The Emperor and the Master of the Teutonic Knights supported him, and many German and Livonian princes came to his aid. The chance was too good to lose. Basil was easily persuaded. He accused Sigismond of failing to exchange prisoners, of plundering the merchants of Moscow, of allowing his subjects to treat his sister Elena, Alexander's widow, with great indignity, of tempting his brother Simon to play the traitor, and finally of urging the Tartars to ravage Russia. On this plea he declared war, saying,—

As long as my horse is in condition and my sword cuts sharp there shall be neither peace nor truce with Lithuania."

The Grand Prince, with his brothers George and Dimitri, with Prince Michael Glinski and other famous captains, set forth to capture Smolensk. Six weeks they lay in front of the old city but were without the skill to take it. The Grand Prince strengthened the heart of his army with mead and beer, and the soldiers drank till midnight and then made an assault upon the walls and built great mounds of earth. All night they fought and all the next day, in the Dnieper and on the banks, but it was in vain. The attack failed, and so did a second. Afterwards Basil came back to the charge; his guns did great execution and damage to the fortress, and some of the citizens wanted to give up to the Grand Prince, while others feared the King. The chief bishop came to the bridge and beat his forehead to Basil, and begged for a truce. A fresh volley of artillery was his answer. He returned, clad in his robes and holding the cross and the sacred ikons, and escorted by the Polish lieutenant, by all the clergy, and the people, and he cried,—

"Gosudar! Grand Prince! Much Christian blood has been shed; the land of thine inheritance is laid waste. Ruin not the city, but spare it."

Basil yielded, and the citizens took the oath, though many of the nobles, feeling more at home with the elegant Poles than with the rough Russians, obtained his permission to take service with the King.

"The taking of Smolensk," says a Russian chronicler, "was a splendid field-day for Russia; for the capture of another's property can flatter only an ambitious prince, but to regain possession of one's own is always a cause of rejoicing."

Michael Glinski, disappointed in his hopes of becoming Prince of Smolensk, resolved secretly to desert the ungrateful Basil, and having obtained a promise of pardon from Sigismond he left the Grand Prince's camp by night. One of his servants betrayed him; he was taken in chains to Moscow and thrown into prison.

The Grand Prince's army, eighty thousand strong, was immediately set in marching order and came to the banks of the Dnieper. The Poles and Lithuanians, under command of the same Constantine who was captured at Vedrosha and afterwards escaped, began to cross the river by an improvised bridge, and when half of them were over the Russian commander was advised to attack them, but he was puffed up in his own conceit.

"Let us wait," said he, "until the whole army has crossed, for such is our strength that without doubt we shall be able with but little trouble either to wipe out this army or, surrounding them, to drive them like cattle to Moscow, and afterwards to take possession of all Lithuania."

When the armies got into position the Russians sounded their clarions and made the first attack. The battle raged long and furiously; many times the fortunes of the day shifted from side to side. The Russians outnumbered their foes three to one, but at last the Lithuanians, by a feigned retreat, threw the Russian van into disorder which spread through the whole host. They fled and were put to terrible slaughter, and all the chief captains were taken and distributed among the strongholds of the land.

When Basil heard of this defeat he returned in haste to Moscow and left Smolensk to defend itself as well as it might.

"Constantine celebrated the victory which he won over a people of the same religion as himself, and gave thanks to God in the Russian tongue for having destroyed the Russians."

The Emperor Maximilian, who wanted Sigismond to marry his granddaughter Bona of Milan, sent his ambassador to Basil to mediate for the King of Poland. The Austrian baron, with much difficulty, persuaded the haughty Sigismond also to send envoys to the Grand Prince, but when they declared that they had no power to treat unless Basil would give up Smolensk Basil dismissed them. The German baron, however, made a long speech, showing how all Christian Europe, except Poland and Russia, was in deepest peace, and all the kings were united by bonds of friendship or marriage to his illustrious Emperor, who wished to make common cause against the Turk, the conqueror of Damascus, Jerusalem, and Egypt.



Pope Leo X. also was anxious to have the aid of Russia in the great crusade, and proposed that Sigismond should take command of the united Christian armies, and that Basil should turn his sword against the Ottoman and rescue Constantinople, the inheritance of Sophia, his mother.

The negotiations came to nothing, but were afterwards renewed with better success by Pope Clement VII., the Emperor Charles, and his brother Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and Infanta of Spain. Basil swore to keep the truce. He took a gilt cross which hung by a silken cord and looked upon it and made the sign of the cross three times, "bowing his head each time so that his hands nearly touched the ground; then advancing nearer and moving his lips as if in prayer, he wiped his mouth with a napkin, and after spitting upon the ground he kissed the cross and touched it first to his forehead and then to each eye; then stepping back he again bowed his head and crossed himself."

When the Lithuanian ambassadors had done the same, Basil bade the mediators to report to Clement, Charles, and Ferdinand that he had done these things for the love which he bore them, and to prevent the shedding of Christian blood by wars between Russia and Poland. Nevertheless he kept Smolensk.

Basil and the Tartars

Ivan the great had finally captured Kazan and punished the Tartars, but they were by no means subdued. Kazan was still able to raise an army of thirty thousand men, and the new Kan Magmed Amin rebelled against Basil, who sent his brother Dimitri and Prince Bielski to bring him to terms. The Tartars, however, outflanked the Russians as they drew near the city, and cut them to pieces. Basil was angry and sent another army with artillery and terrible threats of destruction. The people of Kazan saw that they were unequal to fight in open battle with the Russians, and contrived how they might outwit them by a stratagem. They pitched their camp near the city and posted their bravest men in ambush, and then fled as though struck with a panic. The Russians threw themselves upon the deserted tents and gave themselves up to pillage and feasting. While they were eating and drinking and making merry, the Tartars suddenly came out from their hiding-places and completely overwhelmed them. A few only fled to the boats and brought the tidings back to Moscow.

The next year Magmed Amin sent envoys and sued for peace, which Basil was glad to grant on account of the war with Lithuania.

Mengli Girei, the old ally of Ivan the Great, turned against his son Basil, and his successor, Magmet Gird, was Russia's deadliest foe. After the death of the Kan of Kazan, a quarrel arose between Magmet Gird and Basil, as to who should be the successor of Magmed Amin. Basil succeeded in getting the throne for his client, Shig Alei, a grotesque Mussulman with an enormous belly, a small head, and a weak face. His subjects grew so to hate and despise him that they again revolted and offered to submit to Sahib Gird, the brother of Magmet Gird.

Shig Alei fled to Moscow with his wives and property, and the Krim Kan brought his brother to Kazan with a great army, and then turned upon the Grand Prince and crushed the army brought against him by Prince Dimitri Bielski and Basil's brother Andrew. He crossed the Oka, and laid waste the whole region around Moscow. The Grand Prince acted precisely as two of his ancestors had done: he left the capital in command of his brother-in-law, Peter, a Christianized Tartar Kan, and fled. According to Herberstein, so great were his fright and despair that he hid himself for some time under a haystack. The Tartars drew near; everywhere they left ashes and ruins. An immense host of fugitives fled to Moscow for protection; helpless old men, women, and children, carriages and carts of all sorts, crowded into the gates in such haste that many were trampled under foot and perished. There was great danger of pestilence, for it was summer. The Kreml was provided with cannon, but there was no powder.

Such was the dismay in the city that a hundred Tartar horsemen might easily have stormed it. But they took no advantage of this state of things, and the Kan received the envoys sent with rich gifts by the garrison, and agreed to depart, on condition that the Grand Prince should bind himself by a writing to pay tribute as his ancestors had done. Basil had to yield. Magmet Girei went next to Riazan, and his assistant, the chief of the Dnieper Kazaks, showed the governor the treaty and demanded to enter the city. The governor suddenly opened upon him with cannon, and the Tartars made off in all haste, leaving the humiliating treaty behind them.

The Kan returned to the Crimea laden with booty and prisoners: the old and infirm served as targets for Tartar boys; those who were not stoned or drowned were sold as slaves to the Turks in the markets of Kaffa and Astrakan.

The next year Basil got together a great army on the banks of the Oka, and strengthened his position with cannon and machines of war, and sent a challenge to the Kan asking for a fair fight in open field; since the year before he had attacked him without notice, after the fashion of thieves and outlaws.

The Tartar answered,—

"In warfare, chances are as good as weapons. I never consult my enemies, but I choose my own time for fighting."

A Cossack


Instead of coming against Moscow, Magmet Gird got the aid of Mamal, Kan of the Nogai Tartars, and fulfilled his long-cherished wish of taking Astrakan. But his reign was short; his ally turned against him and put him to death.

Magmet's successor immediately sent to Basil promising to be his friend if he would pay a small tribute of silver rubles and make peace with the Tsar of Kazan. Basil answered that he would pay no tribute, nor send gifts to any Tartar tsar, or tsar's son, or tsar's daughter, under any circumstances; and as for the Tsar of Kazan, he would not cease to make war upon him, because in the first place he was tsar without permission of the Grand Prince, and in the second place he had put Russian merchants and envoys to death.

Basil then sent Prince Ivan Bielski against Kazan with an army of a hundred and fifty thousand men. Sahib Gird fled to the Turks, and the Kazan Tartars chose his nephew, the thirteen-year-old son of Magmet Gird, and prepared to meet the siege. The Russian fleet, abundantly provided with stores and guns, covered the wide Volga and came down to the Island of Merchants near Kazan. While they were waiting for the cavalry the wooden fortress of the town was smeared with pitch and set on fire. It burned to the ground, but this golden chance was thrown away.

The cavalry was delayed; precious time was lost; famine began to threaten them; robber tribes, allies of Kazan, attacked their provision boats under cover of a fog, and captured ninety of the largest of them, manned by nearly three thousand men. At last, after the commander had shown the last degree of mismanagement and cowardice, the army withdrew. A peace was signed, and Basil, against his will, allowed Kazan to keep its new kan.

He struck a hard blow at the commercial interests of the town, however, by founding two rival cities and a fair on the Volga, and forbidding his subjects, under pain of a forfeit, to trade with Kazan. It was this fair which was afterwards removed to Lower Novgorod.

How a Many-Winged Eagle


In almost all respects Basil's reign was like that of his father. Indeed, there was little difference between the Russian grand princes of Moscow. From John Money-bag  to John the Terrible they were all alike in their cold, stem, passionless faces, in their selfish, unchivalrous, unscrupulous way of heaping up wealth, in their cruelty to their subjects and their families.

Ivan the Great had brought Novgorod into subjection, but Pskof was spared for a little, It was now the turn of My Lord Pskof the Great. The men of Pskof were involved in a quarrel with the royal lieutenant, whom they charged with having come contrary to law, and with showing wanton cruelty to the people. Basil, having heard of the disorder, came to Novgorod to hold court and summoned before him the magistrates of Pskof. He heard their complaints, and his anger was kindled against them; he had them seized and thrown into prison. They humbled themselves before him, and he sent word to them:—

"Ye deserve prison and disgrace, but the sovereign is ready to show mercy if ye obey his will: unhang the Council bell and let the Council cease henceforth. And the sovereign himself wishes to come to Pskof and worship in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. And if ye obey his will your sovereign will have mercy and not seize your land. But if ye accept not his terms then your sovereign will do the deed as God inspires him, and Christian blood will flow."

The magistrates and the chief nobles of Pskof replied,—

"At the sovereign's terms we beat the forehead;" and they kissed the cross that they would serve Basil, his children, and his grandchildren till the end of the world.

A merchant of Pskof, on his way to Novgorod, heard the news; he left his goods on the road and galloped back to tell his fellow-townsmen what their magistrates had done, and "on the men of Pskof there fell fear and trembling and anguish; their throats grew dry by reason of their sorrow, and their lips parched. Many times, the Germans had come against them," says their chronicle, "but never before had there been such grief."

The bell of the Council was set ringing, and some cried, "Let us raise the shield against the Grand Prince! Let us close the gates of the city!" but the wiser ones saw how idle it was to resist since the nobles were on the other side. They sent to Basil, in Novgorod, a messenger, who burst into tears and said,—

"O Gosudar, be gracious to thine ancient inheritance for we, thy orphan children, were before and are now always dependent upon thee, and we did not think to resist thee. God and thou are the masters of this thine inheritance, and of us thy slaves."

Basil sent them his scribe Dalmatof, who repeated the conditions of pardon, and stood before the people waiting for their reply, and the people beat their foreheads upon the ground, and could speak never a word, because their sobs and tears choked them. It was only the infants at the breast who shed no tears." At last they cried,—

"Envoy of the Grand Prince, give us till to-morrow; we will take counsel and decide." And again the sobs broke forth, for "how should not their eyes have filled with scalding tears, and how could their hearts fail to be torn up by the roots?" asks the chronicle. Next morning the people met in council for the last time, and gave their answer to Dalmatof:—

"In our annals it is written that our fathers and our fore-fathers kissed the cross to the Grand Prince, their proprietor, who dwelt in Moscow, and swore that we of Pskof should serve him and never turn aside to Lithuania nor the Germans. For should we turn to Lithuania or the Germans, or be rebels to the Grand Prince, then the wrath of God would come upon us,—famine, fire, floods, and the inroad of the pagans. And the vow which the Grand Prince the proprietor took to us was the same, and the penalty the same if he broke it. Now thy inheritance, the city of Pskof, and we and the bell are in the hands of God and the Prince, and we have no wish to renounce the ancient oath and bring bloodshed upon our heads, and we have no wish to raise the shield against the Grand Prince nor shut the gates of the city. And if our proprietor the Grand Prince wishes to visit his inheritance, we are heartily glad to welcome him, lest he destroy us in the end."

Then Dalmatof had the great bell, the symbol of their independence, taken down from the tower of Trinity Church, and carried by night to the Grand Prince in Novgorod, and Basil himself came to Pskof and posted his men in the citadel, a thousand Muscovites and five hundred Novgorod artillerymen. He transplanted to Moscow three hundred boyars with their wives and children, and filled their places with as many families from the ten cities of Moscow; and thus in place of the refined and kindly manners of the men of Pskof were introduced those of the Muscovites, which are more debased in every respect, "for there was always much integrity, candor, and simplicity in the dealings of the men of Pskof."

"Alas," cries the annalist, "glorious city of Pskof! why this lamentation and tears? How can I but weep and lament? An eagle, a many-winged eagle with lion's claws, has swooped down upon me; he has taken captive my three cedars of Lebanon—my beauty, my riches, my children. Our land is a wilderness, our city destroyed, our commerce brought to naught. Our brothers have been carried away to a place where our fathers never dwelt, nor our grandfathers, nor our great-grandfathers."

Thus vanished the last spark of popular liberty in Russia.

Only two princes in all Russia were now in any wise independent. These Basil quickly brought under his hand. The Prince of Riazan escaped into Lithuania, and his rich domain was added to Moscow. Prince Basil Shemiakin of Severia was invited to Moscow, and at first honorably entertained. Suddenly Basil threw him into prison on a charge of treason, and took possession of his country, rich in fortresses and towns, fertile fields and wide forests. One of the Grand Prince's jesters had hinted at the fall of the last independent prince; he went through the streets of Moscow swinging a broom, and replying to all questions "that the Grand Prince's dominions were not yet cleaned, and that now was the fitting time to sweep all garbage out of the land." Basil also took pains that his nephew and his brothers should not cross his path. Dimitri, who was according to Western laws the true heir to the throne, died in prison. His brother Simon tried to escape to Lithuania, but was brought back, and pardoned only at the prayer of the Metropolitan.

Thus Basil strengthened his empire.

The Court of Basil


Basil was five-and-twenty before he married, and Herberstein says, "While he was taking counsel about his marriage, it struck him that it would be better to marry the daughter of one of his subjects than a foreigner, because he would thus not only spare himself great expense but also avoid having a wife used to foreign customs and of a different religion."

He ordered the governors of all his towns and provinces to send to Moscow the most beautiful maidens of noble birth whom they could find. Fifteen hundred fair girls came together at this call. The choice was reduced to five hundred, three hundred, two hundred, one hundred, ten; and of these ten, the healthiest and most beautiful, Solomonia, the daughter of a boyar, was the fortunate maid. Basil lived with her twenty-one years, but they had no children, and his love for her passed; and "one day," says the chronicle, "the Grand Prince was making a journey and he saw a bird's nest upon tree, and his eyes overflowed with tears, and began bitterly to mourn his fate:—

"'Woe is me!' he cried; 'what am I like? I am not like the birds of the air, because they increase; and I am not like the beasts of the fields, because they increase; and I am not like the waters, because the waves make them glad, and the are full of fish.' And looking at the earth he cried, 'O Lord I am not even like the earth, because the earth brings forth its fruit in due season, and the harvest gives blessing.' "Then Basil took counsel with his boyars, and he wept before them and said,—

Mount Athos


"Who shall be tsar over the Russian land, and over all my cities and provinces? My brothers? But they are not able to take care of their own cities."

The boyars replied, "The barren fig-tree was cut down and cast out of the vineyard." And all the people counselled Basil to put away his wife. So he put her in a convent at Suzdal.

Basil then married Helena, the daughter of Prince Basil Glinski, and niece of the Lithuanian captain, who had been in prison ever since his attempted flight to King Sigismond. The Metropolitan protested against this second marriage, but Basil had him deposed and banished to a monastery in the far north. Maxim, a Greek monk from Mt. Athos, who had come to arrange the splendid library of the Patriarchs and translate the sacred books into Slavonic, also dared to blame the Grand Prince, and was given over to his enemies, the Metropolitan Daniel and the ignorant priests, who hated him because of his great knowledge. He was accused of heresy and of falsely interpreting the Scriptures, and was banished to Tver.

Basil took less and less occasion to consult his council of boyars. Once a great lord made objection to one of his measures: "Silence, peasant!" was his reply.

His sister's husband was exiled for disobedience. One of his boyars complained loudly that the Grand Prince followed the foreign customs brought by his mother, and that he decided all questions for himself, "shut up alone with two others in his bedroom." His audacity cost him his life.

The Grand Prince held unlimited power over the lives and property of all his subjects. The greatest lords were his slaves and, in addressing their requests to him, signed themselves by servile diminutives, instead of their real names. Herberstein declares "that in the authority which he wields over his subjects, the Grand Prince of Moscow easily surpasses all the monarchs of the known world: what his father began he has perfected."

His power was shown in the magnificence of his court. In his hunting expeditions he went out accompanied by hundreds of horsemen. He rode a richly caparisoned horse, and wore a splendid robe of cloth of gold; his white fur cap was adorned with jewels and golden plate-like feathers. From his girdle hung small knives and a dagger; behind him swung a stick a cubit long, with a thong and a gilded knob. Shig Alei, armed with bow and arrows, and Tartar princes with hatchets and clubs, rode in his train. Hundreds of men, dressed in black and yellow livery, held the Siberian hounds in leash, or bore purple and white falcons. Bear-baiting was a favorite sport, and hunting hares. He was thought to have done the best day's work who killed the greatest number of hares. "In the fields round about the city," says Bishop Paul, "is an incredible number of hares and roebucks, which it is lawful for no man to chase or pursue with dogs or nets, except only certain of the King's familiars and foreign ambassadors, to whom he giveth license by special appointment."

After the Prince had taken several hundred hares, he entered his hunting lodge and sat upon an ivory throne, while confections—coriander, anise-seed, and almonds, sugar and brandy—were served among his guests.

Basil received foreign envoys with great display. When an envoy, on his way to Moscow, readied the frontier, he was met by Basil's officers, who gave him housing, provisions, and equipage, but carefully watched his actions. He was conducted through the richest and most populous districts; in all places inns and shops were closed, and the chief citizens were required to be on the streets dressed in their costliest attire. At Moscow a palace of the Tsar was assigned him, and caterers provided him and his followers with bread, meat, fish, beer, mead, salt, pepper, onions, and all the delicacies of the season.

His first interview took place in the hall of the palace of cut stone, hung with magnificent tapestries. The Prince sat on his throne surrounded by young nobles, dressed in high fur caps, in kaftans of white satin, and armed with silver hatchets. After due salutation the Prince, saying, "Thou wilt eat bread and salt with us," led the stranger to the banqueting hall in another palace. In the middle of the hall stood a table laden with gold and silver plate, made by Asiatic smiths in Eastern forms. All the vessels which held the meat and drink, the salt-cellars and cruets, were of purest gold. The servants wore robes embroidered with pearls and gems. The dinners lasted many hours. Brandy was served round before the meal began. The first dish was usually roast swan, served with sour milk, pickled cucumbers, and stewed prunes. Then came other kinds of meats, served with malmsey and Greek wines.

The Grand Prince drank to the envoy's health, saying,—

"Thou art come from a great sovereign to a great sovereign; thou hast made a long journey. After receiving our favor and seeing the lustre of our eyes, it shall be well with thee. Drink and drink well, and eat well to thy hearty content, and then take thy rest that thou mayest at length return to thy master."

Palace of cut stone


After the toast was drunk, the cup was turned upside down over the head, to show that it was empty. Drinking was carried to excess; it was felt to be a merry jest, "to make the envoy full." When the dinner was over the Prince dismissed his company, saying, "Now depart."

At the leave-taking of an envoy, the Grand Prince gave him a robe of honor trimmed with sable, and sometimes added other gifts. Basil gave Herberstein eighty sables, three hundred ermines, fifteen hundred squirrel-skins, a sledge and a fine horse, with white bearskin trappings, besides a quantity of unsalted fish in copper vessels.

Basil had diplomatic dealings with many countries of Europe and Asia. He made a sixty years' peace with Sweden, which was confirmed by the great Gustavus Vasa. He also made alliances with Livonia and the Hanse cities. Pope Leo X. tried to interest him in the union of the churches and the crusade against the Turks. Basil however kept on friendly terms with Sultan Selim and his successor, Solyman the Magnificent, as well as with Baber, the Great Mogul of India, the descendant of Timur.

How the Young Ivan


Basil had no hesitation in leaving the care of his two sons, Ivan and George, and the government in the hands of his second wife, Helena. She was of Western origin and remarkable for her freedom of mind and for her accomplishments.

She straightway set to work to complete her husband's plans for the establishment of absolute empire. She threw his brothers into prison; she put down the plots of the princes and boyars; she met the Tartars and Lithuanians on the battle-field and came back with victorious arms; she surrounded a part of Moscow with walls. As there were few in whom she could trust she gave all her confidence to the "master of horse," who was charged with being her lover.

The old nobles were angry to see a woman, and especially a foreign woman, wielding the sceptre. They believed that her place was in the seclusion, of the Terem. If they could not keep her there by force, they could at least put her out of the way. Helena died by poison; the "master of horse" was starved to death, and his sister, the young Grand Prince's nurse, was banished to a nunnery.

Then there began a period of lawlessness; the supreme power became an object of ambition among the boyars, the descendants of Rurik and Gedimin. Chief among the rivals were the families of Bielski and Shuiski. Prince Ivan Bielski, who had the support of the Metropolitan, ruled in Helena's place for several years. Prince Ivan Shuiski headed a conspiracy among the boyars and men-at-arms and seized the regent by night and had him murdered. The Metropolitan escaped into the Grand Prince's chamber, but was followed and bound in spite of Ivan's cries for help. Ivan Shuiski soon after died, and the regency passed to three of his family, and more especially to Prince Andrew. These three nobles jealously watched the growing influence of Prince Vorontsof, and at last they fell upon him, struck him on the cheek, and tore off his robes and nearly killed him. The young Ivan sent the Metropolitan to beg them to desist; they heeded him not, but dragged the prince out to the stables, beat him ignominiously, and delivered him over to the guard.

In after years Ivan the Terrible thus described in a letter his stormy childhood and the impudence of his boyars:—



"After the death of our mother, Helena, we were left with our brother George absolute orphans; our subjects did their own will, carried on the government lawlessly. They took no care of us, their sovereign, but busied themselves only in the gain of wealth and power, and began to war with one another. And what evil things they did! How they killed boyars and captains, the friends of our father! The houses, villages, and domains of our uncles they took for themselves. . . . They treated us and our brother George like strangers, like beggars. They granted us not even the necessities of dress and food. They treated us as it was unbecoming to treat children. One example: it chanced that we were playing and Prince Ivan Shuiski had the impudence to sit with his elbows leaning over the bed of our father and his leg stretched out upon it! What shall I say of our hereditary treasure? They pillaged everything and gave to their men-at-arms, and the men-at-arms were unworthy and dishonest. Out of the treasure of our fathers they stole vases of gold and silver and engraved upon them the names of their kinsfolk as though it were their inherited property. And it was known to all men. Then they rode about among the cities and towns and plundered the citizens without mercy, and such evils they did upon their neighbors as it is impossible to number. Of our subjects they made slaves, and, their own slaves they raised to be great lords. They thought they were ruling and ordering, but on the contrary there was misrule and disorder. For every one made boundless gain and no one spoke or acted except for gain."

While the nobles were thus struggling for their own ends the two young princes were left to themselves. George was feeble-minded, but Ivan was "gifted with great talents." He was a lad of quick temper and open to all impressions, good or bad. The hard circumstances in which he was placed seemed to bring out and strengthen his character. For three years he had been Grand Prince in form, and he clearly saw that the very boyars, who in private were most insolent and lawless, at the receptions of foreign envoys appeared before his throne in the attitude of cringing slaves. It was his signature which made a law of force among the people. Even if he had not been bright enough to see for himself the power which his name and title bore, there failed not to be men around him who, out of envy or worldly wisdom, filled his mind with distrust of his self-appointed tutors. He also read much and eagerly studied sacred and profane history, the rise and fall of empires, the Russian annals, and the works of the holy fathers. He had no fear of using too cruel measures. As a boy, says one of his early biographers, he delighted to kill animals and see the blood flow, and in all such brutal pleasures he was praised by his guardians. He had an example, too, in the way that his friends and favorites were treated. It was dangerous for boyars to show him any attention or do him any favor: banishment or poison was their reward. He saw that he must be wary, but at last the time drew nigh for him to show his hand.

The Christmas festival had just been celebrated. Ivan, who was about fourteen years old, unexpectedly called the boyars before him and sternly upbraided them for their conduct: "Many of you are guilty," he said, but I will make example of only one." At his nod the guard seized Andrew Shuiski, the regent, and gave him to the dogs, who tore him to pieces on the spot. Others who fell under his displeasure were banished.

The surprise which this sudden action of the young prince caused was a complete success: "From that time forth," says the annalist, "the boyars began to fear their master and obey him."

How Ivan IV. Took the Title of Tsar


After the destruction of the Shuiskis the family of Ivan's mother, the Glinskis, came to the aid of the young prince, who continued to indulge all the passions which his tutors had kindled. He tore out the tongues of his nobles and mutilated those on whom his displeasure fell. He gathered around him a band of reckless young nobles, with whom he played on the streets and squares, fighting, jostling against old women, trampling upon little children, and robbing every one who came in his way. His flatterers shouted, "Oh, brave will be this Prince and manly!"

One day, when he was sixteen, Ivan called before him the Metropolitan and all the boyars, even those who wore their hair long, because they were in disgrace, and proceeded to address them:—

By the mercy of God, and his all-pure Mother, by the prayers and grace of the great wonder-workers, Peter, Alexis, John, Sergi, and all the Russian wonder-workers in whom I put my trust, and with thy blessing, Holy Father, I propose to marry. At first I thought to marry a foreign princess, the daughter of some king or tsar, but afterwards I gave up the thought. I have no wish to marry a foreign princess, for if I marry a wife from a strange land we may not agree, and life would be hard for us. Therefore I wish to marry in my own realm and God will bless it."

The annalist says that the Metropolitan and the boyars wept for very joy at the speech of their young prince; and he continued,—

With thy blessing, my father, and the council of our nobles, I wish before my marriage to perform the ancestral ceremonial as did my forefathers, the tsars and grand princes, and our ancestor, Vladimir Monomak, and mount the throne."

Allegorical picture of the Tsar


Again the boyars rejoiced that their young prince was minded to perform the ancient ceremonial, but they were marvellously surprised that he should take the title of Tsar, which neither his father nor his grandfather had taken. He had read too much, however, not to know that the great kings of the past, Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, David and Solomon, Augustus and Constantine, all bore in the Russian books and Scriptures the title of Tsar; Russian princes and Tartar kans served as his "domestics;" the title of Grand Prince no longer expressed the empire which he wielded: he was the head of a mighty state; hence, at his coronation he took the title about which clustered so many brilliant associations.

Meantime a circular-letter was sent to all the nobles and men-at-arms throughout the land:—

"When these, our letters, reach you, it shall be your duty instantly to repair with your unmarried daughters, if such you have, to our lieutenant in the city for inspection. Conceal not your marriageable daughters under any pretext. Whoever shall conceal a marriageable daughter and not bring her to our lieutenant, on him shall be our great disfavor."

The choice fell upon Anastasia, the young daughter of an ancient family of Moscow, whose father was held in great honor by the Grand Prince Basil. Soon after his marriage a series of misfortunes came upon the young Tsar. Fires broke out; the great bell of the Assumption Cathedral fell to the ground; then there came another fire, such as had never been seen in Moscow; the flames spread like lightning, swept along the river, leaped across to the roof of the Assumption, burned the palaces of the Metropolitan and the Tsar, the arsenal with all its arms, the treasury, the Church of the Annunciation, with the sacred screen and the treasures which the people had left. The Metropolitan, in trying to save the cathedral, was almost suffocated by the smoke; he barely escaped with the picture of the Virgin. The Assumption was spared. The Tsar took his wife, his brother, and his nobles, and fled to a near village, but the most of the city was in ashes; seventeen hundred people perished by the disaster.

The day after the fire it began to be whispered about that the town was burned by magic, that certain people of high station had taken human hearts, soaked them in water, and with the water sprinkled the streets and houses. The whisperings grew into voices. Five days after the fire, on a Sunday, several nobles came into the square before the Assumption, and collected the black people, that is to say, the lower classes, and began to ask, "Who set Moscow on fire?" And the people, who hated the Glinskis, gave a cry, "The Princess Anna Glinskaia and her children and her servants have been working magic." This was what the boyars wanted, because the Glinskis were near the throne and in favor. Neither Prince Michael Glinski, Ivan's grandfather, nor the aged Princess Anna was at this time in Moscow, but George was with the boyars in the square. When he heard the shouts he feared for his life and took refuge in the cathedral. The people, urged by the boyars, rushed after him, killed him, and dragged his body from the Kreml to the market-place. Then they broke into his palace, killed his servants, and left everything desolate. Three days later the mob hastened to the Tsar at his village, and, with loud cries, demanded the Princess Anna and her son. Ivan himself was in danger; with difficulty he succeeded in dispersing the mob. He knew well enough that it was the returned exiles, the Shuiskis, who raised this revolt; he had no intention of yielding to them. But the spectacle of his burning city greatly affected his mind; he saw that his course of life was wrong. A priest, Sylvester, from Novgorod the Great, appeared before him and began to upbraid him from the holy books. In after years Ivan wrote:—

"The pen cannot write nor the tongue describe all the evil and sinful things that I did in my youth. . . . I grew up in neglect, without instruction, the toy of evil-minded boyars. At this time how I sinned before God and what punishments God sent upon us! More than once we tried to avenge ourselves upon our enemies, but all in vain. I did not understand that God was visiting me with great punishments, and I repented not, but oppressed poor Christians with all sorts of violence. The Lord punished me for my sins, now with a deluge, now with pestilence, and yet I did not repent. At last God sent the great fire, and fear came upon my soul and trembling upon my bones. My soul was humbled, and I was moved to tenderness. I saw my sin. I asked forgiveness of the clergy and I forgave the princes and the boyars."

Anastasia, Ivan's young and beautiful wife, was, as an English traveller wrote, "wise and of such hollyness, vertue, and government as she was honnored, beloved and feared of all her subjects. He being yonge and riotous, she ruled him with admirable affabillitie and wisdome."

The priest Sylvester took charge of church affairs, and Alexis Adashef was minister of war and state. Ivan called deputies of all classes to Moscow to deliberate on the reforms which he had in mind. He himself came before the people and delivered a discourse in which he described the disorders and troubles caused by the boyars during his infancy, and asked the people to forget the past and trust in his promises for justice and good government. Thus Ivan began to rule wisely, and the seven years which followed his marriage were the happiest of his long reign.

How a Threatening Cloud
Descended upon Kazan

Two hostile factions were always struggling to control the rich and splendid city of Kazan. Some of the citizens preferred the overlordship of Moscow; others and probably the larger number claimed the protection of the Krim Kan.

Ivan at last decided to make an end of this Mussulman city, and free himself from his Eastern foes. He had hardly finished his preparations when he was checked by the news that the Krim Kan was invading Russia. He at once sent Prince Kurbski with fifteen thousand men, who met double that number of Tartars at Tula, and forced them to retire leaving their captives and their camels.

Then Ivan, with one hundred and fifty thousand men and one hundred and fifty cannon, went down the Volga in boats and encamped under the walls of Kazan. The Tartars said among themselves, "This is not the first time that we have seen the Russians come against us. They always have to retreat and now we laugh them to scorn." Their magicians too came upon the walls at sunrise with their garments close girt, and wove incantations, and the Russians had some reason to believe that their shrieks and gestures availed, for a terrible tempest demolished many tents and ruined the provisions. But Ivan sent to Moscow for the sacred cross given to Saint Vladimir at his baptism; and thus the incantations were supposed to be counteracted. At any rate fair weather came; Ivan got fresh provisions; he built movable towers and placed cannon upon them; he completely hemmed in the city so that none could get in or out. Kazan was defended by thirty-two thousand five hundred Tartars, who made many sorties, and fought desperately to hinder the Russians and capture the towers. Ivan frequently offered them honorable terms of surrender. Finally he had some of their prisoners hung up on poles before the walls to frighten the Kan into surrendering, but the men of Kazan poured a storm of arrows upon these hapless wretches, saying, "It is better for them to receive death from the pure hands of their Mussulman friends than be killed by these uncircumcised giaurs."  Water began to grow scarce, the people died of thirst in the city; famine stared them in the face; discords broke out; many wanted to surrender. Meanwhile the siege went on; the towers were brought nearer and nearer to the walls; the Streltsi, or "Archers," of the Tsar's body-guard picked off the watchmen on the walls; the German engineer sprung new mines and destroyed the terraces behind which the Tartars hid. The Tsar himself came to see the fight and encourage his men.



Ivan gave them one final offer of mercy, but they said, "We will not beat the forehead. If the Russians climb the walls or take the towers we will build another wall, and there we will all die rather than yield."

Then the Tsar made preparations for the assault.

"He laid a mine under the Kazanka,

Under the city he dug a mine;

There he buried barrels,

Barrels of oak,

Filled with black, forceful powder.

He lighted the fuse of yellow wax.

The Tartars of Kazan

Were standing on the walls."

It was early morning; the sunbeams were just beginning to gild the tapering minarets where stood the muezzin to call the Mussulmans to prayer; in the Russian camp the soldiers were taking the communion and preparing for the great struggle. In the chapel tent the Tsar was listening to the words, "There shall be one fold and one shepherd." Suddenly there came a sound as of thunder, and the earth shook,—

"The Tsar had time to say never a word

When the city of Kazan began to crumble,

To crumble, to fall, to leap forth,

To fall thundering into the river."

The priest with a voice of triumph went on to read how the Lord would subdue every foe, when a second explosion came louder than the first. The Russians, with the cry, "God with us!" hurled themselves into the town. The streets were narrow; the Tartars fought for every inch of ground; from the house-tops they poured boiling water and rolled down heavy beams; the Russians seeing the rich booty forgot themselves and began to pillage; it was a critical moment. The Tartars came on in fresh numbers. Suddenly the Tsar brought help; the Tartars were driven back; they took refuge in the mosques; the Russians pursued them; there was a fearful battle; the head Molla was killed. The Kan at first shut himself into his palace, and then, seeing the idleness of resistance, tried to escape with ten thousand men. Prince Kurbski completely cut him off. The Tartars shouted,—

While the mosque and the palace where the throne is stood, we would fight to the death for the Kan and the mosque, but now Kazan is yours; we give you the Kan alive and well. Take him to your Tsar; as for us, we are going to the open field to drink with you our last cup of life."

Deserting their Kan, they leaped down the walls toward the Kazanka, pursued by Prince Kurbski, who cut them to pieces.

Meantime Ivan, his rich armor glittering with gold and plumes, and surrounded by his nobles, rode into the captured city. He bade his soldiers kill all who had arms and save only the women and children. It is said that at the sight of the Tartar dead he wept over them: "They are not Christians," said he, "yet they are men." He ordered the town to be cleaned, and on the spot where the Kan's standard was captured he built a Christian church. He destroyed all the mosques and minarets and built churches and monasteries. He repeopled the town with Russians.

Ivan distributed among the army the treasures and slaves; for his own share he took the Kan and his standard, "his crown and sceptre and his purple robe." The Kan went to Moscow, was baptized under the name of Simeon, and became a great lord at court. A poem, long current among the people, tells how the wife of the Tsar of Kazan was troubled by a dream. "Wake up," said she, "and arise, Tsar Simeon, for this night I have slept but little; much have I seen in dreams. I have seen a blue-black eagle flying, a threatening cloud flying and descending from Moskva on our kingdom." Thus her dream came true.

As Ivan made his triumphal return up the Volga a messenger came with the news that his first son, Dimitri, was born; and as he drew nigh to Moscow all the people went forth to meet him, and from a thousand throats went up the cry,—

"Long life to the holy Tsar, the conqueror of the barbarians, the defender of the faith!"

Two years later an expedition of thirty thousand men descended the Volga and established Derbish Alei on the throne of Astrakan. Derbish swore to pay a large tribute in fish and money, but he soon after drove the Russian envoy out of the city and entered into relations with the Krim Kan. Afterwards the city of Astrakan was conquered and united to Russia. Thus the Volga, "that grand artery of eastern commerce, now flowed in the whole of its course, from its source to its mouth, through the land of the Tsars."

All these events made a great impression upon the Russian people; the capture of the Tartar city forms the subject of many epic poems. Kazan was the first fortress which the Russians had taken after a regular siege.

The Turk saw the consequences of this victory and was mightily troubled. His ambassadors came to Moscow and protested. The Sultan wrote to the Kan of the Nogg: "The days of Ivan, the Russian Tsar, are numbered."

Defeat in the West—Conquest in the East

After the capture of the two Volga cities, Ivan's ministers urged him to turn his arms against the Krim Kan and put an end to the last Tartar Horde. But he had more ambitious designs, and certain grievances to avenge upon the Livonian Order. The year of the Great Fire, a Saxon named Schlitte was in Moscow, and had many long talks with the Tsar concerning the spread of civilization in Germany. Finally Ivan sent him back to engage for the Russian service a number of physicians, apothecaries, printers, locksmiths, interpreters, artists, and other craftsmen. The Livonian Order demanded of the Emperor the right to stop these craftsmen on the road, lest Russia, growing enlightened, should also grow too strong. Just as they were going to take ship at Lubeck, Schlitte was arrested and imprisoned, and his men were scattered; one of them, Meister  Hans, tried to escape to Moscow, but after various mishaps, was caught and put to death. Ivan was angry, but at the time was fully occupied with Kazan.

Afterwards, when envoys of the Livonian Order came to Moscow and wished to make a treaty with the Tsar, Ivan complained that they had despoiled his merchants. His demands for tribute led to war. The Russian army took Narva, Dorpat, and eighteen other places, and the ancient Russian city of Polotsk.

At first it seemed as though Ivan were going to be as successful in the West as he was in the East. Sigismond, King of Poland, who had come to the assistance of the Order, demanded a truce. Ivan assembled the great council of the Empire, and, standing upon the circular stone tribune of the Red Place, asked their opinion. The council decided against granting it, and offered men and arms to continue the war. The Kan of the Crimea made common cause with Sigismond. He invaded Russia and took Ivan completely by surprise. He set the suburbs of Moscow on fire; the fire spread to the town, and burned the whole in four hours; nothing but the Kreml was left. Then he withdrew with one hundred and fifty thousand prisoners, and when Ivan came back to Moscow, Tartar envoys stood before him and presented him with a knife "to stick himself withal," and gave him this insolent message from the Kan:—

"I burn, I lay waste everything because of Kazan and Astrakan; all your riches I reduce to ashes. I came to you and I have burned Moscow. I wished to have your crown and your head, but you did not show yourself; you came not out against me and yet you boast to be the Tsar of Russia. You were too full of shame to stand and fight me! Will you live and be my friend? Then yield to me our sacred cities, Kazan and Astrakan. If you have nothing but money to offer me it is useless, were it the riches of the whole world. What I want is Kazan and Astrakan. The roads which lead into your empire, I have seen them, I know them."

The next year he came again, but Ivan was ready for him and drove him back with great slaughter. The Kan sent envoys to the Tsar, begging humbly for the Tartar cities, and promised never to return; but Ivan was not to be bribed, he returned answer:—

The Red Palace


"Now there is only one cimetar opposed to us, that of the Krim; but once Kazan was a second, and Astrakan a third, the Nogai a fourth."

The same year the King of Poland died, and some of the nobles wished to elect the son of Ivan the Terrible, and thus unite the two great Slav empires, whose discords, arising mainly from religious differences, threatened the ruin of one or both of them. Ivan, however, wanted the crown for himself, and when the Polish ambassadors came to Moscow to ask for his son, he set forth his own claims and tried to defend himself from the charges of cruelty brought against him by his subjects:—

"Many among you say that I am cruel. It is true that I am cruel and prone to anger: I do not deny it—but to whom, I ask, am I cruel? I am cruel to any one who is cruel to me. To the good! ah, I would give them gladly the robe and chain that I wear. It is nothing strange that your princes love their subjects, because their subjects love them. Mine gave me over to the Krim Tartars. My captains did not even warn me of their coming. Perhaps it was hard for them to vanquish a force so numberless, but if they had lost a few thousand men, and brought me a whip or a lash from the Tartars, I should have rejoiced. I feared not the Tartar forces; but when I saw the treason of my men I turned aside a little from the Tartars. Then they invaded Moscow, which might have been defended with a few thousand men. But when the nobles fail, what can the people do? Moscow was in flames and I knew nothing about it. If some of my men were afterwards punished, it was for their crimes. I ask you, do you punish or spare traitors? I think you punish them."

But, in spite of Ivan's promise "to observe the laws, and to guard and even to extend the liberties of Poland," he failed in his wooing. The French ambassador caused Henry, brother of Charles IX., to be proclaimed king. This was the year of the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Henry soon fled from Warsaw, and Stephan Batori was elected king. Batori was one of the most ambitious and energetic men of his time, and entered into the war with Russia with all his heart. He suddenly appeared with a superb army before Polotsk and took it. The Russian gunners in despair hanged themselves to their guns. Batori made alliance with Sweden and invaded Northern Russia; but Pskof, defended by Prince Basil Shuiski, marked the limits of his successes. The young king, after three months of fruitless siege and assault, was obliged to withdraw. The Tsar was discouraged by his losses, and asked the mediation of the Pope, who sent to Moscow a Jesuit with a history of the Council of Florence and with orders to include the Union of the Two Churches in his negotiations. The envoy succeeded in making a truce between the two sovereigns, but Ivan was forced to cede Polotsk and all Livonia, thus bringing to naught the labors of thirty years.

The Conquest of Siberia

Ivan the Terrible was disappointed in the result of his struggle with the civilization of the West, and if his bold enterprise for "cutting a window into Europe" was premature and a failure, his empire on the other hand was strengthened in the East. The princes of the Caucasus began to ask the protection of Russia against each other and the Krim Tartars. The Kazaks of the Don acknowledged the Tsar as their sovereign. Persia and the lands of Central Asia began to open long vistas of conquest.

Most romantic in its history was the conquest of Siberia. Early in Ivan's reign Gregory Strogonof came to the Tsar, and beat the forehead, and said that eighty-eight versts below Great Permia, on both sides of the Kama, lay desert places, black forests, rivers and lakes, which brought no revenue to the Tsar. Gregory asked to have this land to build cities, to fortify them with cannon and arquebuses, and so to make use of "the silver beyond the Kama." Ivan gave his consent, and the Strogonofs, with ten thousand men besides bondslaves, began to found new cities and centres of wealth.

Siberian cap


A chief of the Don Kazaks, condemned to death but afterwards pardoned by the Tsar, took service with Simon Strogonof and his nephew. At the head of less than a thousand reckless adventurers, he crossed the "mountain girdle" of the Urals, and entered the wide forests of Siberia; everywhere the musket triumphed over the bow. Makmetkul, who met them in battle, wrote to his cousin, the Kan Kutchum,—

"The Russians are mighty in war; when they shoot, fire flashes from their bows, smoke bursts forth, and there is loud thunder. Their arrows are not seen, but they wound indeed, and they strike to the death. It is useless to hide behind any manner of shield; they pierce through all things."

The Kazak brigand defeated the Kan in many battles, and took Sibir, his capital, with all the royal treasure. Then he deliberated with his men whether to go back or onward. "Brothers," said he, "where shall we go? It is now autumn; the rivers begin to freeze. But let us not go back and bring upon us shame and reproach. Let us trust in God. He helps the helpless. Let us remember the vow we made to the Strogonofs. We cannot go back without shame. If God will help us, then even after death our fame in these lands will never grow less, and our glory will be eternal."

The men voted to go on; they brought the regions around the Irtysh and the Obi into subjection, and Iermak, the Kazak, sent word to the Tsar that he had conquered for him a new kingdom. As for Iermak, a year or two later, he was surprised by his foes, and in trying to swim the great river which he had discovered, he sank by the weight of his coat of mail. He became a hero among the people, and his glorious deeds are celebrated in many a song; by the church he was looked upon as a saint, and it was believed that miracles were worked at his tomb.

How the English Discovered Russia

During the reign of King Edward VI. the Lord High Treasurer of England and other "grave and wise citizens of London," having at heart the welfare of their country and grieving at the decay of trade, met together and formed a company of "Merchant Adventurers, for the discovery of lands, territories, isles, and seigneuries unknown and not by the seas and navigations commonly frequented." Six thousand pounds sterling were collected; three ships were bought, put in order, and given into the hands of Sir Hugh Willoughby, "a right valiant and worthy gentleman."

The beginning of the first voyage was discouraging; adverse winds kept them off the English coast for two months, but at last they managed to put out in search of the northeast passage around the world, toward that sea spoken of by the Romans, "sluggish and motionless, which forms the girdle of the world, where the sound of the sunrise is heard." Violent gales overtook the squadron. Richard Chancellor, the pilot-major in charge of the Bonaventura, lost sight of his companions and succeeded in doubling the Holy Cape. An unknown sea lay before him; as he ploughed its stormy waters the mouth of a river and a monastery came in sight. He landed, and learned from some fishermen that the river was the Northern Dvina, and that he was in the dominions of the Great Tsar of Moscow. Chancellor left his ship near the monastery of St. Michael, where afterwards was built the city of Archangel, and made the journey to Moscow, where he delivered to Ivan the Terrible the letter written in Latin by Edward VI., addressed vaguely "to all the kings and princes and lords, to all the judges of the earth and the captains thereof, to any who possesses high authority in all the regions under the universal heaven," and asking them to let his subjects have free pass and to entreat them with humanity and kindness.

Ivan allowed the Englishmen to see "the lustre of his eyes," entertained and feasted them in his Golden Palace, and he granted to Richard and his guests from beyond the sea to come and go in safety in the Russian dominions and to buy and build houses without let or hinderance. While Richard was in Moscow some Laplanders brought word that they had found on the west coast of the White Sea two ships at anchor in a bay and the crew of eighty-three men all dead. It was the missing squadron; Sir Hugh Willoughby was seated at his table with his journal before him. He had perished of the cold. Ivan commanded all the merchandise, the cannons, the culverins, and the rigging to be returned to the pilot-major.

"Bloody Queen Mary," with her Spanish husband, Philip II., was on the throne when Chancellor returned to England. The Merchant Adventurers received from them a new charter, and named Sebastian Cabot governor for life. The company was licensed to make discoveries in the North, Northeast, and Northwest, to

carry the royal banners, flags, and standards, "to subdue, possess, and occupy as our subjects all towns, castles, isles, and mainlands of infidelitie," and to use force on strangers who "attempted to block their trade. Chancellor, taking letters to the Tsar, written in Polish, Greek, and Italian, again set sail for the mouth of the Dvina, and with two other members of the company came in safety to Moscow. The Tsar gave them letters-patent, allowing the English to settle in two Russian towns and to trade east and west in all wares without duty.

Chancellor's two vessels, the Edward Bonaventura  and the Philip and Mary, laden with wax, train-oil, furs, felt, and other commodities worth £20,000, set sail for England. A November tempest scattered the fleet, which had Willoughby's two ships in convoy. Three vessels were wrecked on the coast of Norway. The Bonaventura, after a stormy passage of four months, struck on the rocks of Pitsligo. The first Russian envoy to England, Joseph Nepeia, was on board. Chancellor succeeded in getting him safely on shore, but he himself, his son, and nearly all his crew perished. The savage natives of the Scottish coast plundered the cargo and the property of the ambassador and the gifts of the Tsar.

Joseph was met near London "by fore-score merchants with chains of gold and goodly apparel," and after being presented with "a right faire and large gelding richly trapped, together with a foot-cloth of orient crimson velvet enriched with gold laces, all furnished in most glorious fashion," he was conducted to his lodgings in London by the Lord Mayor and all the aldermen in their skarlet."

Tartar maid


Nepeia, whose "gravity, wisdom, and stately behaviour" won great praise, set sail for Russia on the Primrose, accompanied by the bold English sailor, Jenkinson, whose life was a romance. Jenkinson spent the winter in Moscow, and by his ready wit and his wide knowledge won the Tsar's favor. Ivan gave him a letter to the princes of Asia, and in the spring of the next year he descended the Volga, and was the first to fly the red cross flag of St. George on the Caspian. He landed on the coast of Turkestan, and with a thousand camels loaded with English goods struck boldly into unknown regions infested with brigands; he was nearly massacred, but succeeded in reaching Bukhara and making his trade before that city was sacked by the Sultan of Samarkand. Three years later he again crossed the Caspian and brought to Shah Thamas, King of Persia, letters and specimens of English manufacture. The jealous Venetians poisoned the Shah's mind, and Jenkinson was received with insults. When he left the court sand was scattered "to efface the impure footsteps of the giaour  from the floor of the sacred palace." Jenkinson returned to Moscow with the envoys of Bukhara and the Turkomans; he brought the Tsar for gifts a white cow's tail and a Tartar drum, for the company six hundred camel-loads of merchandise, and for Queen Elizabeth a Tartar maid named Aura Sultana.

In acknowledgment of Jenkinson's services Ivan allowed the English to trade on all the rivers of the North and to settle in all the Russian towns from Novgorod to Astrakan. The merchants of Holland, Spain, and France tried to rival the English. Sweden made a treaty by which its merchants could go freely into the inheritance of the Tsar and its envoys pass through to India and China. But the English, who were the first to get the Tsar's support, kept the lead.

How Ivan Wrote his Name in Blood

The age of Ivan the Terrible was an age of cruelty; it was the century of Henry VIII. in England, of Ferdinand and the Inquisition in Spain, of Catherine de' Medici and the great massacres in France. The influence of the Tartar slavery was seen in the severity of the new laws. For a debt a man could be tied up and beaten three hours a day; if, after a month, no one was moved to pay his debt for him, he was sold as a slave. Thieves and murderers were hanged, beheaded, broken on the wheel, drowned under the ice, or whipped with sinews which were made to give a sore lash and bite into the flesh." Sorcerers were roasted alive in cages; traitors were tortured by iron hooks which tore their sides into ten thousand pieces; false coiners had to swallow molten metal. The noble had the life and death of his peasants in his hand.

A keen observer of Ivan's time says the basest and wretchedest servant, "that stoupeth and croucheth like a dogge to the gentleman and licketh up the dust that lyeth at his feete, is an intollerable tyrant when he hath the advantage. By this means," says he, "the whole country is filled with rapine and murder. They make no account of the life of a man." The same barbarism was seen in the treatment of woman: she was shut up in the top room of the house; no eyes could look upon her face; she was considered the property of the man; her glory and honor was "to obey her husband as the slave obeys his master." Sylvester, Ivan's minister, in his famous book of instructions, warned husbands to correct their wives with loving and judicious punishment, but not to use too thick sticks or to whip them unduly before their servants.

de' Medici


To illustrate Russian manners Herberstein tells this story: "There is at Moscow a certain German, a blacksmith named Jordan, who married a Russian woman. After she had lived some time with her husband she one day thus lovingly addressed him: 'Why is it, my dearest husband, that you do not love me?' The husband replied, 'I do love you with all my heart.' 'I have as yet seen no proofs of your love,' said she. The husband asked what proofs she wished. She replied; 'You have never beaten me.' 'Really,' said the man, 'I did not think blows were proofs of love; however, I will not fail even in this respect.' And not long after," says Herberstein, "he beat her most cruelly, and confessed to me that after that process his wife showed much greater affection for him." The Russian proverb says: "I love thee like my soul, but I beat thee like my jacket." Amid this general ignorance and barbarism it was not strange that Ivan, whose youthful brutality was applauded by his tutors, should have led his countrymen in what an Englishman called the "supersuperlatives of crueltie."

The year after the capture of Kazan he fell ill and was thought to be dying. The boyars seized the chance to rebel against him; they refused to swear allegiance to his son Dimitri; they made Ivan's cousin Vladimir the head of their plot; his mother spoke many seditious words and distributed gifts to the army. The noisy talk of the boyars came to Ivan's sick-bed: he saw the danger which threatened his wife and son. He called his faithful nobles around him and said,—

"You gave me and my son an oath to serve us, but many boyars wish not to see my son on the throne; thus, if I happen by the will of God to die, forget not, I pray you, that you have kissed the cross; give not my son to the boyars to destroy; fly with him to some foreign land, whithersoever God will lead you."

Then he turned to his wife's relatives, the Romanofs. "Why these terrors?" said he; "think you the boyars will have mercy upon you? You will be their first victims. Die then for my son and his mother; leave not my wife to the fury of the boyars."

Ivan got well, but henceforth he was a changed man. Sylvester was exiled; Adashef was sent to Dorpat. Shortly after their disgrace the wise and gentle Anastasia died suddenly. Ivan believed that she was poisoned. Even then the Tsar was not the Terrible. He sent the mutinous boyars to the monastery of St. Cyril on the White Lake; in one of his letters to the monks he complains that the prisoners reigned in their cells like the Tsar, drank as though it were a wedding or a baptism, and distributed iced fruits, cake, and sweetmeats.

"When the treason of that dog, Alexis Adashef, and his friends was discovered," says Ivan in a letter, "we let our wrath be tempered with mercy. We condemned not the guilty to death, but banished them. When they set on foot against us a perfidious plot, then only, seeing their wicked stubbornness and their undying treason, we inflicted on the guilty the penalty of their crimes."

The flight of his chief boyar, Prince Kurbski, a descendant of Rurik, was what caused the Tsar to be more severe. Prince Kurbski, as we have seen, bore a famous part against the Tartars at Tula and Kazan. Angry at the fall of Ivan's ministers, he basely allowed four thousand Poles to beat fifteen thousand Russians. Having reason to fear the Tsar's vengeance, he secretly left his camp at Vendur with one servant, and took service with the King of Poland: He sent back his servant Vaska, who delivered to the Tsar a long letter expressing in severest terms the Prince's grievances, and declaring that Sigismond August would "load him with favors and consolations for his misfortunes." Ivan, according to the tradition, took his iron-pointed staff and nailed the messenger's foot to the Red Staircase while the letter was being Read. Then he gave him over to the torturers, who worked their cruelest tortures upon him: His constancy won Ivan's praise, who wrote back to Kurbski: "Let thy servant Vaska shame thee.! He kept his truth to, thee before the Tsar and the people. Having given thee his word of faith, he kept it even before the gates of death." The correspondence of the Tsar and his exile is one of the most curious literary monuments of the sixteenth century. "They exchanged many letters, in which the one showed a great knowledge of the sacred and profane authors, close reasoning, and bitter irony the other, an indignant and tragic eloquence."



Ivan, whose suspicions were fully aroused by Prince Kurbski's conduct and by the plots which the friends of his exiled ministers were weaving, suddenly quitted Moscow with his servants and treasures, and retired to one of his favorite villages, whence he wrote a letter to the Metropolitan, complaining of the plots and faithlessness of the nobles and the clergy. He sent word to the people of Moscow that he had no displeasure or lack of trust in them. Great was the terror and perplexity in the capital; when the people heard the Tsar's message sobs and cries were heard; "Alas! woe! we have sinned before God and angered the Tsar. His great mercy we have changed into wrath and fury. And now to whom shall we go? Who will pardon us and free us from the attacks of our foes? How can the flock live without the shepherd? If the sheep have no shepherd the wolves ravage them." The people feared the boyars; the boyars trembled before the people, and they besought the Metropolitan, saying: "We all come to thee with our heads, begging thee to go to the Tsar and ask his grace." When the people with the clergy came in procession to ask his pardon, Ivan consented to resume the throne, but only on his own conditions. And now for seven years there was a most extraordinary system of government. Ivan came back to Moscow. He divided the villages and cities of the empire into two parts. In charge of the larger of these divisions he left the ancient council of boyars; this was called "the rule of the land." With his own creatures he formed a new court, a new council and administration, to which he gave control of the part of Moscow and the twenty towns and villages which fell to his own private share. He surrounded himself with a body-guard of a thousand men, who were distinguished by a dog's head and a broom hung from the saddle-bow. They were indeed meant to bite and to sweep away the Tsar's enemies.

A reign of terror hung over Russia during the rest of Ivan's life.

The Metropolitan Philip could not endure the sight of so much suffering. He came boldly before the Tsar.

The Tsar: Keep silence, I tell thee, hold thy peace, Holy Father,—hold thy peace and give me thy blessing.

Philip: If I held my peace my silence would be a sin against thy soul.

The Tsar: My subjects rise against me to seek my hurt. What hast thou to do with my councils?

Philip: I am the shepherd of the flock.

The Tsar: Philip, dare not my power lest my anger fall upon thee. I bid thee give up thine office!

Philip: I sought not the place, neither by myself nor by others. Why dost thou remove me?

Ivan, amid the tears of the people, caused the brave Metropolitan to be literally swept out of the cathedral and exiled from Moscow; the next year he sent his ruffian, Skuratof, to demand his blessing. "How can I bless him when I see my country in mourning?" said Philip: The next moment he was seized and strangled.

Among the memorials of the monastery of St. Cyril is a letter from Ivan the Terrible asking the prayers of the church for his victims. The list numbers thirty-four hundred and seventy persons, of whom nine hundred and eighty-six are mentioned by name: "Kazarin Dubrovski and his two sons, with ten men who come to their help; "twenty men of this village, eighty of that." "Remember, Lord, the souls of thy servants, in number fifteen hundred and five men of Novgorod." Such are the sinister contents of this curious letter. Relatives, favorites, boyars, peasants, all fell alike before the suspicious wrath of the tyrant.

Church of St. Basil the Blessed


He himself was never free from fears for his life. He sent to Queen Elizabeth to ask an assurance by oath and faith that in case any misfortune fell upon either of them, or if they were obliged to go out of their own country, they should find safe asylum each in the land of the other.

Queen Elizabeth's reply was as follows:—

"Thorough Gods goodnes allwais shewed unto us we have no manner of doubt of the Contynuance of our peacable gouernment without danger eyther of our subiects or of any forren ennemys."

But a secret despatch with the Queen's privy seal and signed by Nicholas Bacon and William Cecil, offered the Tsar an asylum:—

"Wee offer that yf at anie time it so mishappe that you lord our brother emperour and great duke, bee by anie casuall chaunce, either of secrite conspiracie or outward hostillitie, driven to change your countries and shall like to repaire into our Kingdome and dominions with the noble empresse your wife and youre deare children the princes, wee shall with such honors and curtesies receive and intreate your highnes then, as shall become so great a prince."

In this interchange of letters Ivan soon perceived that the Queen cared more for her own profit than for his. He returned a spiteful answer, rehearsing his kind acts to her merchants and ending with this outburst of anger:—

"We had thought that thou wert sovereign in thine own country and ruled with sovereign power, caring for the honor and profit of thy country; hence we wished to treat with thee as with a sovereign. But we perceive that other men and not thyself rule thy country, and not men indeed but boorish merchants, and thou, wench that thou art, behavest like a wench."

About the time that Ivan was building his treasure castle and making secret preparations to take refuge from his boyars in England, he gave up his power to a foreigner, a prisoner, a Tartar vassal. He himself seemed ashamed of this farce: he told Sylvester, the interpreter, that "though he seemed to have enthroned another, yet he had not so far resigned but that he was able to take the imperial dignity to himself again." And when ambassadors came from the Emperor Maximilian, he had them brought to one of his reserved towns, and they, not suspecting that there was any other lord of Russia, declared on their knightly honor that neither in Rome nor in Spain had they met with a more sumptuous reception.

Ivan's character was a strange mixture of greatness and meanness, of liberality and superstition. He liked foreigners and allowed them to trade freely, but "he kept up an undignified rivalry with his own subjects," forced them to sell to him their honey, wax, and furs at a low price, saying, "My people are like my beard, the oftener it is shaven the thicker it grows; they are like sheep that must need be shorn once a year at the least to keep them from being over-laden with the wool."

Ivan was religious, and built "in hys tyme above 40 faire stone churches richly bedaect and adorned within and the turrets all gilt with fine pure gold." The most curious church, perhaps, in the world is that of Basil the Blessed, who "was idiotic for Christ's sake." The legend says that Ivan built it in memory of the capture of Kazan, and put out the eyes of the Italian architect to prevent his building another like it. "It is," says a recent traveller, the most chimerical of all architectural creations, an edifice without a prototype, a riddle for the eye. Picture a maze of incoherent chapels, porches, cells, projections, and galleries, knotted in one fantastic huddle and surmounted by a crowd of carved towers, turbaned cupolas, and Tartar bulbs, each of a different size and style, painted in every possible color, a harlequin in stone with a casque of gold."

Ivan wished to be the patron of printing, and he engaged a German to set up a press and print a Russian Bible at Moscow; but the people looked upon the art as impious, and so persecuted the printer that he had to flee for his life. At first Ivan greatly harassed the dealers in magic, burying them alive with wild animals, but toward the end of his life superstition grew upon him.

The year of his death a comet appeared which he took as a fatal omen. He caused threescore sorcerers to be gathered from the far North and daintily entreated them in Moscow. But the great blazing star over the city and all the signs were against him. He was wont to play with precious stones, believing that they possessed marvellous properties. Just before his death the Englishman, Horsey, was with him in the treasury. The loadstone," said Ivan, "you all know, hath great and hidden virtue, without which the seas that at compass the world are not navigable, nor can the bounds or circles of the world be known. Mahomet, the Persian prophet, his tomb of steel hangs in the mosque at Derbent most miraculously. This fair coral and this fair turquoise by nature are orient colors; put them on my hand and arm. I am poisoned with disease. You see they show their virtue by the change of their pure color into pale. It declares my death." Then taking his staff royal, garnished with precious stones which cost seventy thousand marks, he said: "The ruby, oh! this is most comfortable to the heart, brain, vigor, and memory of man; it clarifies congealed and corrupt blood. The emerald has the nature of the rainbow; the precious stone is an enemy to uncleanness. The sapphire I greatly delight in: it preserves and encreaseth courage, joys the heart, is pleasing to all the vital senses, and is precious and very soothing to the eyes."

After the death of Anastasia, Ivan the Terrible married in succession a number of wives, all of whom came to a more or less violent death. His seventh wife was Maria Nagoi. Shortly before the birth of her son Dimitri, Ivan tried to make a foreign alliance; first he asked the sister of the King of Poland; then he sent his envoy to England, to negotiate a treaty by which the two countries might be linked together in firm amity, and to demand an interview with Lady Mary Hastings, niece of the Queen, to get her portrait, inquire her age, and notice if she were of good height, of plump person and fair complexion. The Russian, when he saw the lady, "cast down his countenance, fell prostrate at her feet, rose, ran back from her, his face still towards her; she and the rest admiring at his manner. Then he said by an interpreter that it did suffice him to behold the angel he hoped should be his master's spouse, and commended her angelical countenance, state, and admirable beauty." As the news of Dimitri's birth followed the envoy to England, Sir Jerome Bowes was sent "with a riche standing

cupp, conteyning in it greate nombere of peeces of plat artificially wrought," which he was to present to the Tsar and explain at the same time the impossibility of the proposed marriage.

The Tsar's quick temper and his ready use of the terrible iron staff led to a sad tragedy. In a discussion with his son, Ivan; he struck him a sudden and deadly blow. His fierce anger was changed in an instant to grief as fierce.

Three years only he survived his favorite son. He died in the midst of a game of chess; just as he was setting up the king, he fell back in a swoon. That night the government was put into the hands of five lords whom he had named as guardians of Theodore, his feeble-minded son.

In spite of Ivan's cruelties, he kept the love of his people in a marvellous way. His exploits are celebrated in whole cycles of song. In the cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, in a "coffin of cypress, lies Ivan the Terrible, the orthodox Tsar."

How the Dynasty of Andrew God-Loved


Theodore, the son of Ivan the Terrible, was "of a stature, somewhat lowe and grosse, of a sallowe complexion, and inclining to the Dropsie, Hawke-nosed, unsteady in his pose by reason of some weaknesse of his limmes, heavy and unactiue, yet commonly smiling almost to a laughter." A Russian historian says he was "distinguished for his excellent heart; he was of a sweet, philanthropic disposition, and of boundless pity; he fulfilled with scrupulous fervor all the obligations of a perfect Christian, but he looked upon the world as simply frivolous. He shunned the hard labors of government, and though he had every virtue expected of a private citizen, he was a feeble monarch, especially in contrast to such an autocrat as Ivan Terrible, and in the face of the troubles into which Russia was about to fall." His father said of him, "He is a sacristan, not a Tsar's son."

Theodore's brother-in-law, Boris Godunof, the son of a Tartar murza, was of an active and restless disposition, clear-sighted and skilled in affairs, with a keen knowledge of men, and of boundless ambition. "Thou shalt reign," said the soothsayers, according to the legend; then, frightened by the omens, they added timidly, "Thou shalt reign but for seven years only." "Were it only seven days, no matter," said Boris; "only let me reign."

Boris used every means to get the supreme power; he had been Ivan's minister, and was appointed one of the five boyars of the Council of Regency. At first Theodore's uncle, Nikfta Romanof, ruled in his name. He died, and the power passed to Boris.

Prince Bielski was banished; the other two rivals in the Council were charged with treason and put out of the way. The Metropolitan was deposed and replaced by Job, whom Boris soon raised to be Patriarch. Theodore gave Boris the title of Allied Chief Boyar: he had immense revenues; it is said that he could bring from his own estates an army of a hundred thousand men. Theodore, "simple and slow witted, quiet, merciful, of no maretial disposition, nor greatly apt for matters of policie," allowed his regent to reply to envoys, to receive the gifts of foreign princes, to reign in all but name. Boris recaptured from Sweden the cities taken from Ivan the Terrible; he schemed in Poland for the union of the two countries; he tried to win the friendship of the clergy by the creation of the Patriarchate, the support of the smaller nobility by binding the peasant to the soil, so that the great land-owners might not attract away the laborers from their estates.

Young priest of the Greek church


Hitherto the peasant was in law a freeman; he was allowed to change his master on St. George's Day. Henceforth he was a serf. This law became so odious to both master and peasant that Boris himself partly repealed it: while they were still forbidden to change from a small to a great proprietor, ten at a time were allowed, on St. George's Day, to pass from one small land-owner to another.

By these means Boris created for himself a strong party of which he had no small need. The Tsar Theodore had a half-brother Dimitri, son of his father's seventh wife. This Dimitri, his mother and her relations, the Nagoi, were exiled, for fear of their intrigues, to Uglitch. As Theodore had no left children, and his health was not firm, many looked upon Dimitri as his probable successor. Boris knew this danger only too well. Suddenly the news came that the young Dimitri was dead. The Englishman, Horsey, happened to be about twenty miles from Uglitch on the night of the tragedy: he tells how one rapped at his gate at midnight, and how he took his pistols and went to the door with his fifteen servants, thinking verily the end of his days had come. There stood the Empress's brother, who whispered, "The Tsar's son Dimitri is dead; his throat was cut about the sixth hour, and the Empress is poisoned and on the point of death. Help and give some good things, for the passion of Christ's sake!"

The story was that Dimitri was playing in the court-yard of his palace. His nurse, a governess, and a maid were near; his mother had just left him for a moment. Suddenly he was discovered bathed in blood with a great wound in his throat. The women screamed; Martha Nagoi came running back; the bell of the palace was rung; the inhabitants of Uglitch, thinking there was a fire, hurried to the scene. To calm the tumult, the spy of Boris Godunof shouted that the boy had fallen in a fit and killed himself. His mother, half beside herself, cried, "There is the murderer!"

Instantly a hundred hatchets chopped the wretched man and his son to bits. Then the mob fell upon the governess and killed her son before her eyes. A dozen of Theodore's men were "forked like hares."

Boris Godunof, knowing that he was charged with the murder, ordered an inquest, at the head of which he appointed Prince Basil Shuiski, who passed for his enemy. No evidence of crime was brought to light; the verdict declared that the young Prince had fallen in a fit, and that the Nagoi and the inhabitants of Uglitch had put innocent men to death. Martha Nagoi was forced to take the veil; her two brothers were killed; two hundred of the inhabitants of Uglitch were put to death; the rest were exiled to Siberia. The palace was destroyed; even the bell was sent to Siberia. Seven years later Theodore died. It was said that on his death-bed he presented Boris Godunof with a gold chain and a box of relics, and appointed him his successor. "Regent of the orthodox people," said he, "place thy hands on these holy relics; govern wisely; then shalt thou reach thy desire, but thou wilt find that all on this earth is vanity and deception."

How a False Prince


After the death of the Tsar the people hastened to kiss the cross to his widow Irene. But she refused to govern, and took the veil at the Convent of the Virgin, lamenting that "by her the sovereign race had perished." The Patriarch Job, the clergy, and many of the citizens of Moscow, with tears in their eyes, besought her brother Boris to accept the crown. The annalist adds, "Those who could not weep moistened their eyes with spittle." At first he refused, but when he was elected by an assembly of the people in which the "Archers," the clergy, and the smaller nobility were a majority, when his sister "blessed him for the throne," he listened to the voice of "the tempters" and yielded. The son of the Tartar prince was Tsar.

Boris was a remarkably enlightened man; his children were far better educated than most Russians. He was fond of foreigners; his army is said to have contained a detachment of twenty-five hundred men of different nationalities. He showed great favor to English and Dutch merchants, and to the German artisans driven from their land by the Reformation. By their aid "he built a goodly steeple of hewn stone in the inner Castle of Moscow, with thirty-four great, sweet-sounding bells in it, which serves to all these cathedrals and goodly churches standing round about." This was the "Tower of Ivan the Great," ninety-nine meters in height, and topped by a golden dome with a Slavonic inscription in letters of gold.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


It was in the time of Boris that the Tsar of Bells, "that bronze Titan," was first cast. Boris was the first to send young Russians abroad to study European arts. He sent eighteen to Lubeck, England, France, and Austria; their parents mourned for them as though they were dead. The foreign powers were not over anxious that the Russians should learn their civilization; the Duke of Alva said it was "inexcusable to furnish Russia with cannon and other arms, and to teach the Russian the way war was carried on in Western Europe, because thus a dangerous neighbor was being educated." Sigismond, King of Poland, long before had written to Queen Elizabeth that he could not endure to see "the Muscovite, who is not only our present adversary, but the hereditary foe of all free states, greatly provided with guns, bullets, and munitions, and especially with artisans who furnish things of great use to the enemy, weapons and arms hitherto unknown and unseen in that barbarous country;" for, said he, "Your majesty cannot be ignorant how great is the cruelty of the said enemy, of what force he is, what tyranny he useth on his subjects, and in what servile sort they be under him. We seemed hitherto to vanquish him only in this, that he was rude of arts, and ignorant of policies."

In spite of the wise rule of the new Tsar, in spite of his successes in Livonia, and his victories over Kasim Girei, Kan of the Crimea, in spite of his generosity and public spirit, the country was uneasy; the peasantry, now bound to the soil, was sullen and hostile; the smaller nobility, who were forced to come at the Tsar's call, mounted, armed, and equipped," began to find his service ruinous; the boyars and great nobles, descendants of Rurik and Gedimin, were ready at any moment to rebel against the usurper. Boris, feeling himself in danger, kept an army of spies; he received the accusations of slaves against their masters; he tortured, mutilated, and exiled many of the Romanof family. He obliged Theodore, the eldest, to become a monk, under the name of Philaret, and his wife to take the veil. "From the son of this monk and this nun emperors were to spring."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


A fire broke out in Moscow: Boris rebuilt entire streets at his own expense: the ungrateful people said that he himself had set it. He saved Moscow from the Krim Kan: they said he had invited the Tartars in order to hide the death of Dimitri in a greater danger. A fearful famine desolated Russia for three years; multitudes flocked to Moscow; pestilence broke out; one hundred and twenty thousand people perished in the city; parents ate their own children. Boris caused immense quantities of food and large sums of money to be distributed. The famine was laid to the crimes of Boris Godunof. "He gave the poor the blood of the innocents in a golden cup; he fed them by unholy alms," says the annalist. The fated seven years of his rule were drawing to an end. Suddenly the rumor spread that Dimitri was alive and was coming with arms to take his rightful throne!

This was the story current among the people: A Polish prince while taking his bath fell angry with his valet, who burst into tears and said, "Ah, Prince Adam, if you knew who is serving you, you would not treat me so." "Who art thou?" "I am Dimitri, the son of the Tsar Ivan IV." Then he told the story of his miraculous escape from the assassins, produced a roll of papers, a seal bearing the arms and name of Dimitri, and his baptismal cross adorned with diamonds. Prince Adam lent a ready ear, gave him rich clothes, brocaded kaftans, furs, and gilded arms, and said, "All I have is, at thy service." A Russian fugitive recognized him and declared that he was his old master, the true Dimitri. The Pope's nuncio took him under his protection.

The palatine of Sandomir gave him his support and promised him the hand of his youngest daughter, the beautiful Marina. King Sigismond Vasa received him. The Polish nobles, always ready for any adventure, offered their services, which he accepted with an air of granting a favor. He was courteous and affable, spoke Polish and Russian equally well, was acquainted with Latin and history; he was used to all knightly sports, a mighty wrestler, a sure shot, and a skilful Horseman.

Boris Godunof was at first disposed to treat the matter lightly; he offered money to some of the Poles to deliver over the "monk, rebel, and magician." This only increased their faith in him; they disdained even to reply to the bribe. Boris caused the Patriarch and Prince Basil Shufski to proclaim to the people that Dimitri was really dead and that the pretender was a defrocked monk named Grishka, who had escaped from the White Lake Monastery. The people were hungry for wonders and changes; the real Grishka was wandering among the warlike Kazaks, urging them to take service for the son of the Tsar. The absurdest rumors were in circulation; it was said that Boris was making ready to fly to Persia; the boyars began to declare that it was hard to bear arms against their lawful sovereign; in Moscow two nobles were put to death for drinking the health of the Tsar Dimitri.

Meantime the impostor crossed the Dnieper. Western Russia at once arose; the cities, one after another, opened their gates. The impostor's hussars were dressed in skins of bears floating over their shoulders. On the backs of their cuirasses they bore great eagles or vultures which overtopped their heads; the Russians sent to oppose their progress were frightened at their appearance. "They had no hands to fight, but only feet to run away."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Prince Basil Shuiski was despatched to rally the Russians. He had better success; the impostor was beaten and forced to flee, but through the treachery of the Russian officers he escaped. The war had only begun. Boris Godunof was now deserted by nearly all but the clergy; he was sick and in despair. Three months after he had defeated the impostor he presided over his council of boyars for the last time. Feeling that death was near he put on a black robe, received the sacrament, took a monk's name, and died. The people declared that he had poisoned himself: "He has brought justice upon himself," they said; "he foresaw the wrath of the Prince, whose throne he usurped. He lived like a lion, reigned like a fox, and died like a dog."

How the Ashes of a Russian Tsar


The Patriarch Job, the boyars of the Council, the "Archers" and the officials of Moscow kissed the cross to Theodore, the son of Boris, a lad of sixteen. His guardian Basmanof took command of the army, but soon found that no one was going to fight for a Godunof. He resolved to take advantage of the tide and not to stem it. Providence has spoken," said he; "God gives us Dimitri for master. Let us not resist his laws." Then holding up the letter and seal of the impostor, he cried out, "Soldiers, here is the order of our Tsar Dimitri, the son of Ivan, whom the traitor Boris wished to put to death. Saved by divine Providence, he is our true sovereign." A tumult arose; the soldiers proclaimed the pretender; the false Dimitri marched upon Moscow; at his approach the people rose and broke into the Tsar's palace. Theodore and his mother were loaded with chains and either poisoned themselves or were strangled. The new Tsar rode into the city on a splendid charger, guarded by gorgeously dressed Poles and Germans. The bells of Moscow rang a joyous peal of welcome; the people flocked along the streets, crying, "Long life to our father!" "May the Lord cover thy life with his shadow!" "He is our true Tsar!" "The race of Rurik shall not perish!" We were in darkness; now the red sun has arisen." Prince Bielski took off his cap, kissed the sacred picture, and called the people to be faithful. Just then a sudden whirlwind filled the place with dust and hid the Tsar from sight. It was an evil omen.

Whether the pretender were a runaway monk or a Jesuit emissary, the fact remained no less extraordinary. He was Tsar of Russia. His wisdom was soon seen to be folly. He preferred foreigners; he surrounded himself by a body-guard of three hundred Germans, Poles, and Scotchmen, whom he dressed in all magnificence. He offended the boyars by his raillery. "Travel and get learning," he said; "you are savages, you need to be polished." He won the hatred of the clergy by his scorn of their rites and ceremonies; he went to church on horseback, he forgot to salute the holy images, he ridiculed the monks, he borrowed money of the monasteries to pay his soldiers; he replaced the Patriarch Job by Ignatius of Cyprus, at heart a Roman Catholic; he allowed the Catholics to build a church in the Kreml. He also shocked the people by his habits: he ate veal, which was believed to be an unclean meat; he was often impious enough to rise from table without washing his hands; he never napped after dinner, but took the time to walk the streets unattended; he visited shops, talked familiarly with artisans, was fond of foreign music and arts; he gave balls and concerts at a convent. At the entrance of his new palace he placed a bronze Cerberus, which made a frightful noise if touched. The people saw in this "the sign of hell, and the darkness thereof." He entered the arena and fought with bears, he pointed cannons with his own hand. He organized sham-fights with snowballs, and was pleased when his foreign mercenaries defeated the national troops.

The false Dimitri sent to Poland for his bride, Marina, who, escorted by armed Poles, entered the city in a carriage drawn by eight horses, with painted manes and tails. "One would think she were entering a conquered town," murmured the Russians; "why these cuirasses and lances? Do you cover yourselves with iron at a wedding?" At the coronation, which was on a Friday, the Poles leaned on the sacred screens and tombs. Although Martha Nagoi publicly acknowledged him as her son, the people began to doubt him. Within a month after Marina's arrival they were ripe for revolution. Basil Shuiski, nearest to the race of Rurik, put himself at the head of a conspiracy. He was denounced to the Tsar and brought into his presence and condemned to death. The executioner had taken off the Prince's kaftan and was brandishing his hatchet when a reprieve came. Shuiski was restored to honor. The Tsar's advisers remonstrated. "I have sworn not to shed innocent blood," was his reply. "I will keep my oath."

The pretender's over-confidence was his ruin. One night, after a feast, the boyars attacked the Kreml; the guards played traitor; the tocsin sounded. The False Dimitri fled, and leaping out of a high window, fell and broke his leg. He was discovered and stabbed; Basmanof, who tried to defend him, was also killed. The people took him to his chamber, covered him with a cook's kaftan. Behold the Tsar of all the Russias!" they cried. They then exposed the two corpses on the place of execution, with the impostor's feet resting on Basmanof's breast. They threw over his face a ribald mask which was said to have been found in his chamber in the place usually occupied by the holy images. A flute was thrust into his mouth, and a bagpipe was placed under his arms. After three days the juggler, the sorcerer, was flung into the "poor-house," the winter receptacle of friendless dead. After this more prodigies: a hurricane, blue lights, an earthquake, a fearful, untimely frost. The people believed that he was a sort of vampire which would come to life again; they took his body, burned it, charged a cannon with the ashes and scattered them to the winds.

The Story of a Brigand,


The people of Moscow thought that the "Vampire "was forever laid when they scattered the ashes of the false Dimitri to the four winds. It was rather like sowing seed.

Prince Basil Shuiski was made Tsar, but he was scarcely on the throne before the report came that three men in disguise had crossed the Oka by night. One of them gave the ferryman an extra fee, saying,—

"You have just ferried the Tsar over: when he comes back with a Polish army, he will not forget your services." Again the turbulent cities of the South and West arose. The tribes of the Volga revolted under the pretext of sustaining the son of Ivan the Terrible. The flower of Polish cavalry came to his aid. The Kazaks of the Don joined him. In his ranks were five or six impostors, all of whom claimed to be relations of Ivan the Terrible. The seed of the Vampire was of quick growth. During the next century hundreds of impostors re-enacted the same folly.

The name of the second false Dimitri is not known; his origin is uncertain; it was said by some that he was a Jew, by others that he was the son of a priest. At all events he was a bold and crafty impostor.

With all his forces he marched against Basil, defeated the Tsar's army, and established his court at a village near Moscow. Hence he is known in Russian history as the "Brigand of Tushino."

His camp soon became a city of 100,000 inhabitants. An ambitious crowd of Russians flocked to his standard. The beautiful Marina, in hopes of getting her crown again, flew to his arms. Famous Polish captains came to his aid, and besieged the Trinity Monastery, which, with its seven hundred friars and one hundred and ten thousand souls, or male peasants, sheltered behind its solid ramparts and towers, was able to resist the Polish artillery. The peasantry, whose cattle were driven off, organized themselves into little bands for self protection. Woe befell the Poles who came into their hands. They plunged them under the ice, saying savagely, "There, you wretches, you have eaten our cows and our calves, now eat our fish."

Basil turned to Sweden for help; his nephew, with five thousand Swedes, began to make headway against the Brigand. Suddenly Skopin Shuiski died, and the people declared that his uncle had poisoned him. The King of Poland openly declared in favor of the impostor; his army defeated the Tsar's brother, Dimitri Shuiski; the mercenaries, after trying in vain to retrieve the day, passed over to Sigismond's service. Basil, never very popular, was utterly ruined. The people dragged him from his palace and forced him to become a monk.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Russia was now without a Tsar. Who should fill the vacant throne? The "Brigand "was plainly a brutal impostor. One of the boyars suggested the son of the King of Poland. The citizens of Moscow went so far as to take the oath to the Polish Tsar, who promised to maintain orthodoxy and secure the Russian people their rights and liberties.

When the "Brigand "heard of this proposition he marched upon Moscow. The boyars then invited the Polish troops to enter the Kreml; the Brigand," deserted by his foreign troops and in danger of capture, fled, crying, "If I get my crown once more, I will not leave one foreigner alive in my states." He was soon after assassinated by a Tartar prince. King Sigismond, a vain and ambitious man, and a tool of the Jesuits, determined to claim the throne for himself, and refused to send his son to Moscow. The Patriarch Hermogenes, a patriotic old man of eighty, was the first to raise the alarm; he was arrested and starved to death by the Poles. Prince Liapunof put himself at the head of a new band, called himself the defender of the faith and the White Tsar. "Where his horse passed, the grass grew no more." At his approach a quarrel broke out in Moscow, between the Russians and the Poles. The Poles massacred seven thousand Russians, set Moscow on fire, and then shut themselves into the Kreml, where they were besieged by a hundred thousand men. Discord broke out among the besiegers; the Kazaks of the Don fell upon Liapunof and cut him to pieces; the great army was scattered. Meantime Novgorod the Great gave itself to a son of Charles IX. of Sweden; Kazan and Viatka proclaimed the son of Marina and the Brigand of Tushino; Sigismond reduced Smolensk by fire and famine, and tortured its brave defender. On hearing of the revolt of Moscow, he imprisoned the Russian hostages and went back to Warsaw in triumph, dragging Basil Shuiski a prisoner in his train.

Picture the state of Russia! The throne vacant, the Patriarch starving in prison, the Swedes at Novgorod the Great, the Poles at Moscow; the higher nobility playing traitor; bands of brigands everywhere desolating the land; famine driving the people to eat human flesh!

Palitsin and the patriotic monks of the Trinity Monastery came to the rescue. They sent letters to all the cities of Russia. When the letter came to Lower Novgorod, and was read to the citizens assembled in the market-place, Kozma Minin, the butcher, arose and said, "We must spare neither our lands nor our goods. Let us sell our houses; let us put our wives and children to service; let us raise money for an army." The butcher and other citizens gave a third of their wealth; one woman who had 12,000 rubles gave 10,000 of them; no one held back. Three days of fast were commanded. Prince Pozharski, who had led the revolt at Moscow, was put at the head of the rising. Bishops and monks marched in the ranks; the sacred images went in the van. The Poles were compelled to" leave the Kreml and deliver up their prisoners. Sigismond came too late to their aid. Russia was saved.

How the Tsar Regained


A great national assembly met at Moscow, and with one consent gave the crown to Michael Romanof. He was only fifteen, but his family could be charged with no crimes, no cruelties, no inglorious memories. The clergy stood by him, the people came nobly to his support; he was enabled to free Astrakan from Marina and the Don Kazaks, to ransom Novgorod from the Swedes, and to drive the Poles from Moscow. His father, Philaret, returned and was made Patriarch, and took control of the government. His firm hand brought order: the ruined cities were rebuilt, trade was revived, iron foundries were established, foreign craftsmen and scholars were invited to settle. As in the years after the Crimean War, "Russia was getting well."

At Michael's death the people took the usual oath to his son, Alexis, then in his sixteenth year. Alexis, like his father, was gentle and easily influenced. His wife's relatives, the Miloslavskis, and his brother-in-law, Morazof, used their position to gain their own ends. They were grasping and unjust. The people at last lost patience. Terrible riots broke out. In Moscow they were easily calmed. At Novgorod and Pskof it was whispered that the traitor, Morazof, was sending money and grain to the Germans. The citizens rose against the foreigners; the Tsar's envoys narrowly escaped; even the archbishops were put in chains and beaten. The Tsar was obliged to send a strong army against the rebel cities. Pskof held out for several months and surrendered only on the promise of a general pardon. Russia was now able to wreak its revenge on Poland.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


In White Russia the situation of the common people had been growing worse and worse during the seventy-five years since Poland and Lithuania were united by the Diet of Lublin; they were ground down by the great lords; they were persecuted by the Jesuits; they were given over, body and soul, to the Jews, the stewards of the lands, who made them pay dearly for the right to hunt or fish, ride or walk, marry or baptize their children. Hosts of them, driven to desperation, deserted to the border and peopled the southern steppes. Many, to avoid the fate of the Russian serfs, joined the Kazak republic, below the rapids of the Dnieper. There they lived a life of glory and adventure. Their palisaded island was a school of courage and chivalry. They made unceasing war on the Turk and the Tartar; throwing themselves into their light boats they shouted their farewells to their "father, the Dnieper," and ravaged along the Black Sea, the scourges of the infidel. All brave men were welcome among them; the runaway serf, the refugee of noble birth, all were free and equal, and ate at a common table.

These Kazaks were passionate lovers of liberty; at the same time they were devoted to the Eastern Church, and in all the insurrections of Little Russia they took a lively part.

The Polish government tried to limit the warlike population of the border to six thousand, but the Kazaks, having once tasted liberty, refused to submit to the register, and when the persecutions of the Catholics grew more violent they turned their eyes to the sun of orthodoxy, the Tsar of Russia. Bogdan, the Kazak, unable to get redress for a series of outrages, fled to the Krim Kan, put himself at the head of a strong army of Tartars, and, joined by all the malcontents of Little Russia, came back to the border, where the insurrection spread like fire. Bogdan was everywhere victorious; the peasants demolished the castles of their lords and put the hated stewards to death.

At this moment the King of Poland died, and the revolt broke out more violently than ever. Ian, the new king, went out in person against Bogdan, and saved himself from defeat only by buying off the Kan of the Crimea. Bogdan was driven to ask for terms; he was made hetman of Little Russia, and the number of registered Kazaks was raised to forty thousand. A second revolt resulted in a worse defeat; a second and a third time the Krim Kan deserted his ally. Bogdan then begged the Tsar to take Little Russia under his protection. Alexis granted all the liberties asked by the Kazaks and marched in person against the King of Poland. "On this occasion," it was said, "Moscow made war in a quite new way, and conquered the people by the Tsar's kindness and gentleness." All the towns of White Russia fell before him; Smolensk held out only a few weeks.

The next year Vilno and the chief cities of Lithuania gave their submission to Russia. About the same time the King of Sweden fell upon Poland and captured the three capitals and claimed Lithuania. Alexis hastened to make peace with Poland and turned against Sweden with small success. He was obliged to renounce Livonia. The war with Poland soon began anew and lasted ten years. Russia was exhausted by the long struggle; a bronze currency took the place of silver; provisions were high; the people began to starve; in Moscow the soldiers had to fire upon the mob, who again attacked the Tsar's kinsmen. Alexis was glad to make peace; he gave up Lithuania, but kept Smolensk and Kief, the mother of Russian cities, and the turbulent Kazaks of the Dnieper.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Many of the Dnieper Kazaks took refuge during these troublous times in the plains of the Don. A famine arose, and these wretched adventurers were ready for any desperate relief. The Kazak, Stephen Razin, put himself at their head, provided them with sabres, guns, and boats, and led them to the East, where they ravaged the coasts of the Caspian and the plains of Persia. He was bold and daring. His fame as a magician, proof against bullets and arrows, was widespread. His generosity was princely. One of the many poems which his exploits inspired says,—

"The number of my comrades was four,—the dark night, a knife of steel, a good steed, a tough bow; and my messengers were keen arrows."

And it is, said that as he was one day sailing down the Volga, heated with wine, he looked upon the water and said, "O Mother Volga, thou great river, much hast thou given me of gold and of silver and of all good things; thou hast nursed me and nourished me and covered me with glory and honor. But I have in no way shown thee my gratitude. Here is somewhat for thee. Take it." With these words he seized a beautiful Persian princess, one of his captives, and flung her into the waves.

A host of brigands joined his standard. He came back from the far East with an immense army, swept the Don, crossed over to the Volga, and took all the cities from Astrakan to Lower Novgorod. Through the river valley the serfs revolted from their masters, the subject tribes took up arms against the government. Stephen was at last captured and put to death; his followers were scattered and Eastern Russia was quieted.

A Riot and a Regent

The three ministers of Alexis especially distinguished themselves: the first was his brother-in-law, whose influence was narrow and exclusive. The second was the son of a gentleman of Pskof. He was "the first great European that Russia had produced;" he reformed the army, he tried to make Moscow the centre of the trade between East and West, he built the first Russian ship on the Oka, he was the founder of the Russian press. In his old age, wearied by the hatred which his foreign notions brought upon him, he became a monk and was succeeded by a boyar who likewise had strong leanings toward European habits. Alexis used frequently to visit his house. Matveef's wife was a Scotch Hamilton, and, contrary to the Russian custom of the time, dressed in foreign clothes, appeared at table and joined in the conversation when guests were present. Shortly after the death of his wife and his eldest son, Alexis was dining with Matveef and was struck by the comeliness and grace of a young damsel who served the refreshments. He learned that she was Natalia, the daughter of a country nobleman, and was getting her education at Moscow under the charge of Matveef's wife. The Tsar on going away told his minister that he would find a bridegroom for his pretty ward.

Alexis was in the prime of life; his son Theodore was sickly; his son Ivan was almost an imbecile. The order had already been issued for the gathering of the maidens from whose number the Tsar would select his bride. Natalia was bidden to appear with the rest, and was immediately announced as the chosen of the Tsar. Matveef was accused of using magic herbs to win the Tsar's favor; the wedding was postponed until an investigation was made, but finally, in spite of the jealous intrigues of the Miloslavskis, and of the Tsar's six daughters, some of whom were older than Natalia, it was celebrated with great pomp. Five years later the Tsar Alexis died suddenly, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Theodore. The Miloslavski family came into power again; Matveef, at whose house an algebra was found, accused of using black arts, was banished. Natalia with her two children was sent away to the villa of the Transfiguration.

The reign of the sickly Theodore was chiefly marked by court intrigues and by one great reform, the burning of the "books of rank," in which for many hundred years the services in camp and court of every member of all the noble families had been kept. No Russian nobleman was willing to take a place in the service lower than his ancestors had taken. Theodore called an assembly of the higher clergy and of the boyars to legislate upon this question of precedence. The Patriarch declared that "henceforth all ranks should be without precedence, because formerly in many military exploits and embassies and affairs of all kinds, much harm, disorganization, ruin, and advantage to the enemy had been wrought by this." Then the Tsar solemnly burned the books of rank.

Four months after the accomplishment of this reform Theodore died, leaving no children. There were now two candidates for the throne: Theodore's own brother Ivan, who was blind, lame, dull of speech, and half idiotic; and his half-brother Peter, who was strong, healthy, and gifted with keen intellect. The question was carried to the people, and decided in favor of Natalia's son. Natalia again took up her abode in the Kreml, recalled her foster-father Matveef, and put her own relatives in the chief offices. The Miloslavskis were in despair. Sophia, the best-educated and most energetic of the daughters of Alexis, revolting at the thought of the cloister to which she and her sisters were condemned by Russian etiquette, determined to create a party in her own behalf. With all cunning and patience she kept herself and her grievances before the people; she appeared at Theodore's funeral, complaining loudly that her brother had been poisoned; she worked upon the excitable feelings of the "Archers," causing it to be whispered through Moscow that Natalia's relatives had uttered threats against them, and were plotting to destroy the royal family.

At last it was openly announced that Natalia's brother Ivan had seized the throne. With the cry, "To arms! punish the traitors! save the Tsar!" the Archers hastened to the Kreml, fifteen thousand strong. Natalia, with her son, Peter, and the half-wined Ivan, stood on the Red Staircase before the Archers, who saw that they had been misled. Their favorite commander, the old Matveef, came down among them, talked calmly, and told them that there was no cause for alarm about the young princes; the mob began to waver. Matveef left them for a moment, and Prince Michael Dalgortiki, the second in command, took the occasion to order the men to go home, and mind their own affairs. The good effect of Matveef's sensible words was lost in a moment. Prince Michael was flung down into the square and cut to pieces. At the sight of blood their fury awoke; they rushed into the presence of Natalia, dragged Matveef to, the Red Staircase and flung him on to the pikes below. Then they ransacked the palace, killing all whom they met.

For three days the riot continued; the Archers wreaked their vengeance on all who had roused their suspicion or their hatred. Their violence came to an end with the murder of Natalia's brother Ivan and the German physician, Daniel von Gaden, who was charged with poisoning Theodore. Natalia's father, her three younger brothers, and the young Matveef, who escaped with their lives, were exiled at the petition of the Archers. They also proposed to make Ivan share the throne with Peter, under the regency of Sophia. The majority of the boyars were opposed to this division of power, but the examples found in sacred and profane writings and the threats of the Archers proved to be strong enough arguments. The two princes were crowned with great solemnity in the Cathedral of the Assumption; the silver-gilt throne with a double seat for the two boy Tsars is still shown in Moscow.

Sophia took control of the government. Her first act was to deal with the dissenters. During her father's reign the learned Patriarch Nikon undertook to correct the Sacred Books. The copyists, by accident or design, had allowed many strange errors to creep into their manuscripts. The common people and most of the clergy looked upon the text of the Scriptures as divinely perfect; therefore it seemed to them a mortal sin to shave the beard or to read Christ's name, Iisus  for Isus. The number of bars on the cross, the number of fingers used in making the sign of the cross, the number of wafers employed in the liturgy, were matters of life and death. Rather than submit to these reforms men were willing to die; for this the monks of the White Lake monasteries underwent a siege for eight years and were finally captured and hung.

The "Old Believers," as the party was called which refused to accept the reforms, felt that the triumph of the Archers ought to insure the triumph of pure orthodox faith. Many of the Archers were Old Believers, and their new chief, Prince Khovanski, read the old books and signed himself with two fingers and not three. The dissenters demanded a public discussion with the Patriarch. The discussion took place, but ended in a riot. Sophia, who was present, together with Natalia, caused the ringleaders to be arrested and imprisoned. One of them who had insulted the Patriarch was beheaded. Sophia now felt that it was necessary to rid herself of Prince Khovanski, whose sympathy and influence with the riotous Archers made his power to be feared. He prided himself on his descent from the ancient kings of Lithuania; it was reported that he was anxious to marry his eldest son to one of Sophia's sisters. Accordingly, the regent took refuge in the fortified monastery of the Trinity with Natalia and the two Tsars, and surrounded herself with her men-at-arms. Khovanski and his son Andrew were arrested and put to death without any form of trial. His younger son, Ivan, begged the Archers to destroy the murderers of their beloved commander, but when they learned that a hundred thousand men were in arms to defend Sophia they saw that their day had passed. They immediately sent a deputation to the Trinity Monastery offering their submission. The Patriarch pleaded for them; Sophia had their ringleaders executed and pardoned the rest.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


She was now mistress of the situation. Her reign of seven years was on the whole advantageous to Russia; she had the support of Prince Basil Galitsin, her Minister of Foreign Affairs. Prince Basil was a man of good education: he spoke Latin fluently, was fond of foreigners, and was by far the ablest and most liberal-minded Russian of his time. It was said of him that "he wished to people the waste places, to enrich the destitute, of savages to make men, of cowards to make heroes, and to transform cottages into marble palaces." He planned to develop trade in Siberia, to reform the army and the administration, even to emancipate the serfs. His tastes were magnificent; his house was filled with costly furniture and tapestries, carvings in wood and ivory, paintings and statuary, plate, jewels, and crystals; his equipages and silver-mounted harnesses were marvels of richness. Unfortunately he was a greater statesman than general.

Russia, in return for the city of Kief, had agreed to assist the Poles in their war with the Turks. Prince Basil, much against his will, was sent against the Crimea with one hundred thousand Russians and fifty thousand Kazaks. A fire swept the grassy plains and destroyed the forage; the army, fearfully reduced by starvation, returned from the campaign without even seeing the enemy.

In order to shield Prince Basil Sophia laid the blame on the hetman of the Kazaks. He was sent without trial to Siberia, where he died, and his place was filled by the famous Mazeppa. The army was rewarded with gold medals; money and estates were given to the officers.

Two years later a second expedition was as fruitless as the first. Prince Basil managed to reach the fort of Perekop, and demanded the Kan's surrender. There was no water, grass, or wood in the parched steppe; the Kan refused to accept the terms offered, and the Russians were forced to retreat, losing thirty-five thousand men and seventy cannon. The failure of this campaign was the ruin of Sophia and Prince Basil. The false report that one hundred and fifty thousand Tartars had been beaten, the distribution of rewards and decorations, the triumphal entry into Moscow, could not blind the enemies of the regent and her lover.

How a Russian Tsar Dreamed of the Sea

There was no keener critic of the Krim campaign than the young Tsar Peter.

In his earliest childhood his toys were bows and arrows, pikes and spears, wooden guns and cannon, drums and banners. As he grew older he formed his playmates into a soldier band called the "Sport Company," with which he went on long marches into the country, and bore his part in all military duties and discipline, standing on guard, obeying the commander, and rising by promotion from bombadier to colonel. At the age of thirteen he constructed little forts, and in the regular siege and defence of them blood was often shed; even the Tsar was not spared in the heat of battle.

Having grown up thus to care for things martial, Peter could not forgive Prince Basil's failure. It was with difficulty that Sophia extorted from him the permission to sign the announcement of the rewards. The unavoidable struggle soon broke out. Peter forbade his sister to appear at a state ceremony. She disobeyed, and Peter angrily left Moscow. Sophia tried to keep the goodwill of the Archers, but they had not forgotten her treatment of their leaders. She had become a scandal to many of them; her gifts won failing hearts; her eloquent words sounded in unready ears.

As Peter was sleeping at his villa of Transfiguration he was suddenly awakened at midnight by two Archers, who told him he was in danger. It was a false alarm, but Peter fled bare-footed and half-naked to the stables, saddled a horse, and rode off to the nearest woods, where he dressed. He then made haste to reach the Trinity Monastery, where he burst into tears, and told the abbot how his sister was seeking his life. He was there joined by his mother, his wife, his especial court, his Transfiguration regiment of playmates, and one regiment of Archers. It was soon seen where the power lay. The Patriarch, sent by Sophia to bring about a reconciliation, remained with her brother. Colonel Gordon and the foreign officers openly supported him. Mazeppa, with characteristic fickleness, seeing how the wind lay, deserted Prince Basil's cause and presented himself before Peter, who confirmed him in his hetmanship.

Sophia was charged with making herself equal to her brother, and desiring to be crowned as Empress and Autocrat. She was put into strict confinement in a nunnery. Her friends were tortured and punished with more or less severity. Several were beheaded, others were banished. Prince Basil and his son were deprived of rank and property and sent to Siberia.

Peter was now about eighteen, and though his size and strength were of a full-grown man he took no concern in the affairs of state, but left them entirely to his boyars, the relations of his wife and mother, and to Prince Boris Galitsin. Peter's delight was in mechanical amusements, forging and turning, shipbuilding and sailing. His attention was turned to boats by accident. He had heard that in foreign parts men used an instrument to measure distances without moving. He sent for one from abroad, and Franz Timmermann, a Dutch merchant, living in the German quarter of Moscow, showed him the use of it. Peter was sadly deficient in writing and mathematics. did not understand even subtraction or division. His interest was roused by his new possessions; he set to work under Timmermann's instruction, and studied arithmetic, geometry, and finally geography and the science of fortification. Timmermann became Peter's constant companion. One June day as he was looking over a store-house, he found, among other rubbish which had belonged to his grandfather's cousin, an English boat. Timmermann told the boy that if it had sails it would beat against the wind: Peter was anxious to make trial of it at once. He sent for an old Dutch carpenter named Brandt who calked and tarred it, "stepped" the mast, and set the sail. Peter was delighted with the experiment. He learned to manage the boat first on a little narrow river, then on a shallow pond. His ambition soon outran such limits. He learned that there was a large lake some eighty kilometers beyond the Trinity Monastery. Thither he betook himself, with Brandt and another Dutchman, and built a little fleet. His zeal in such amusements was so great that he could scarcely be induced to return to Moscow for even the great church festivals or the receptions of foreign envoys.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


He at last decided to see the open sea, and in spite of his mother's, tears and the Patriarch's prayers he set out for Archangel accompanied by over a hundred persons. Archangel was the great summer market for the western trade. Here Peter was able to converse with foreign sailors and merchants, to study commerce and shipbuilding, to practise the arts of turning and forging. It was a keen grief to him that no ship bore the Russian flag. He determined to correct that want, and with his own hands he laid the keel of a large ship to be called the "St. Paul." In spite of a promise made to his mother, Natalia, Peter dared angry waves of this Northern Sea in a five days' voyage. The following year his mother's death did not prevent Peter from making a long visit to his ships. With a caravan "which occupied more than twenty barges, he sailed down the Dvina and reached Archangel the last of May. While he was waiting for the outfit of the "St. Paul "he made an excursion to the very monastery which his father had beseiged for eight years. A tremendous storm arose and carried away the sail of his little yacht. Fully expecting to be swamped he took the last sacrament, but stood unmoved at the helm. It was by a narrow chance that Antip, the pilot, helped him steer past the reefs into harbor. Peter marked the landing-place with a wooden cross bearing a Dutch inscription, and rewarded the pilot, and gave large sums of money to the monasteries. Notwithstanding this experience he put back to Archangel and started on a fresh cruise in the "St. Paul," accompanying the English and Dutch fleets as far as the Holy Cape, which separates the White Sea from the Northern Ocean.

Peter soon returned to Moscow, and for the last time took part in what he called "the game of Mars." The sham battle was of no mean proportions, however; towns as distant as Suzdal and Vladimir furnished their quota; it is known that one division of the army numbered seven thousand five hundred men, under a mock "King of Poland;" a real fort was stormed and taken according to the rules of war; bursting bombs and fire-pots, heedless blows and thrusts, resulted as usual in burns and wounds. These trivial amusements, with their comedy of dwarfs and singers, their accompaniment of drinking and dissipation, lasted five weeks. With them Peter's boyhood ended and his real life began.

The Royal Shipwright of Zaandam

The two Russian rivers, the Don and the Dnieper, flowed into Turkish waters. The key of the Don was the great fortress of Azof, famous in the annals of Greece and Genoa as the emporium of Asia. It was ruined by Timur the Lame, rebuilt by the Turks, captured and destroyed by the Don Kazaks in the reign of Peter's grandfather, and again fortified by the Turks, who made it the centre of their marauding expeditions. The mouth of the Dnieper was blockaded by five forts. In the winter following Peter's military manoeuvres it was suddenly decided to open a campaign against the Turks and Tartars. Peter took great interest in the preparations, and enlisted as a bombardier.

In the spring a Russian army of one hundred and twenty thousand men, together with Mazeppa's Kazaks, succeeded in mastering four of the Turkish forts guarding the Dnieper. A smaller army, comprising the four well-drilled regiments, which had grown out of Peter's "Amusement Company," invested Azof, and made two assaults, but owing to the want of ships, the division of command, the inexperience of the officers, the Tsar's impulsiveness, and the treachery of one of the German engineers, who passed over to the Turks and exposed the Russian plans, the siege had to be raised. Nevertheless Peter made a triumphal entry into Moscow with one captive Turk led before him.

This failure was a good lesson. The Tsar engaged competent officers and artillerymen from Germany and Holland, Prussia and Venice. Instead of intrusting the command to a council of boyars, he appointed Alexis Shelf to be general in chief; in order to invest Azof both by land and sea, he set to work to build a fleet. The woods south of Moscow furnished the lumber; thirty thousand men worked all winter in the towns on the Don. The weather was bitterly cold, fires burned his docks, his workmen deserted; he himself was ill. But his will was undaunted. He was at once overseer and master shipwright; he wrote that following the counsel which God gave our grandfather Adam he was eating his bread in the sweat of his face." At last twenty-nine galleys, one hundred rafts, and seventeen hundred barges were built, and the campaign began. The "marine caravan "under Admiral Lefort shut away the Turks from Azof; the foreign engineers dug mines and trenches, and planted batteries. Peter himself was full of zeal. He lived on board his galley and watched the Turkish fleet; he wrote his sister Natalia: "Little Sister, in obedience to thy counsels I go not to meet the shells and balls; it is they who come against me. Give thy orders that they come not." Preparations were being made for a final assault, when the Pasha surrendered.

This was the first real victory which the Russians had been able to celebrate for many a long day; the army re-entered Moscow under a triumphal arch adorned with inscriptions and pictures. Pleased as the Russians were with the great victory over "the Infidel "and with the gorgeous spectacle, they were surprised and disgusted at the conduct of their Tsar, who, dressed as a simple ship's captain in German clothes and hat, walked behind the admiral's gilded chariot. Peter was now sole ruler, his brother Ivan having died during the winter, and for the first time he began to take an active part in the affairs of state. With the consent of the Council he sent to Azof three thousand peasant families and a garrison of Archers, and fortified the city with strong bastions and a great fortress called Petropolis. He saw the need of a fleet, and obliged the monasteries and the merchants, the princes and the boyars, to bear their share in the expenses. He himself furnished nine ships-of-the-line; the merchants built a dozen bomb-ships. Fifty nobles of the court, accompanied each by a soldier, were sent to Venice, England, and the Lowlands, to learn the use of charts and compasses, and to become skilled in navigation and shipbuilding. Finally Peter determined to set an example by going himself to study his favorite art in the favored lands of the West. His education, which began in the German quarter of Moscow, was to be finished in the ship-yards of Amsterdam and London.

A great embassy was sent to the courts of Europe to explain the Russian policy toward Turkey and to make favorable treaties if possible. Besides the three chief envoys there was a suite of two hundred and seventy persons, nobles and soldiers, interpreters and pages, priests and singers, dwarfs and buffoons. In the number was the Tsar of Russia, who travelled under the name of Peter Mikhailof. During his absence the government was left to a council of regency; all safeguards were taken against disorders at home and on the border.

The embassy started the last of March, and were detained at Riga by the breaking up of the ice. As there was a famine in the province of Livonia the Swedish governor of the town did not lay himself out to entertain the foreigners, and Peter, trying to inspect the fortifications, was ordered off by the sentinel; these justifiable discourtesies were afterwards remembered as a pretext for war.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The Tsar's journey to Holland was slow and eventful. He practised carpentry at Mitava, he spent a month at Konigsberg in the society of the elector Frederick III. of Brandenburg. He studied artillery at Pillau, and received a certificate for remarkable progress. He visited the iron works of Ilsenburg and enjoyed the view from the Brocken. He dined and danced with Sophia Charlotte, the wife of Frederick III., and her mother, Sophia of Hanover, and astonished them by his awkwardness, his vivacity, his grimaces, and his boorishness at table.

At this time the little town of Zaandam was famous for its shipbuilding. Peter had heard of it and resolved to study the science there. He hastened down the Rhine, and, without stopping at Amsterdam, took up his lodging at Zaandam in a small hut belonging to a blacksmith whom he knew. He immediately set to work with his axe. He was soon recognized, and his stay was made unpleasant by the crowd which followed wherever he went. He managed, however, to visit every manufacturing establishment in the neighborhood,—cutleries, rope walks, paper mills. After a week's stay he sailed back in his own yacht to Amsterdam, where he worked busily for four months at the docks of the East India Company. All his spare time was spent in sight-seeing. He was interested in everything; he went to workshops, museums, grist-mills, ferry-boats, hospitals; he took lessons of a wandering dentist, and practised on his friends; he learned to etch; he visited the Greenland whaling fleet; he engaged artists, officers, engineers, surgeons; he bought models of ships, and neglected nothing which, as he wrote to the Patriarch, might enable him thoroughly to master the art of the sea." Having learned all that the Dutch could teach him he went to England. Here again he was unwearied. He spent most of three months at the Deptford Docks, but found time to visit the sights of London, the Arsenal at Woolwich, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and the Tower, and to witness a grand naval display off Spithead. He had the curiosity to attend Quaker meetings and Protestant services, and, as in Holland, to study the various creeds. He became very intimate with King William, who presented him with a beautiful yacht. Finally Peter rejoined the embassy at Amsterdam, and turned his eyes toward Vienna and Venice. At Vienna bad news suddenly called him back to Moscow.

How the Giant Autocrat


The Archers formed a sort of hereditary militia, and were full of the spirit of ancient Russia, bitterly hating all foreigners and foreign customs, and seeing in their German-loving Tsar the Antichrist who was to come. Driven to despair by harsh treatment and by dreadful rumors, eight thousand of them marched upon Moscow. General Gordon and General Shen met them near the New Jerusalem Monastery and begged them to disperse. They replied with a petition setting forth all their grievances, their sufferings at Azof, their cruel separation from their wives and children, their horror at the Germans who shaved the beard and smoked tobacco to the entire destruction of the holy faith. A few rounds of artillery scattered the rebels; more than a hundred were executed and nearly two thousand were imprisoned. It was the news of this revolt which suddenly cut short Peter's stay on the shores of the "Ocean Sea." He hastened back to Moscow, and at once began the conflict with the old ideas. First he decreed that all beards should be sacrificed. The effect was the same as if the Emperor of China should suddenly compel all his subjects to cut off their cues. The Patriarch had declared that it was irreligious, unholy, and heretical to shave or cut the beard, which was an ornament given by God and worn by all the holy apostles and by Christ himself. Nevertheless Peter set the example, and with his own hands applied the scissors to his great lords. He also forced all the boyars and officials to wear foreign clothes, models of which were hung up at the gates of the towns. About the same time another change was made. The Russian new year began on the first of September; Peter decreed that henceforth the Russians should begin the new year on the first of January, and reckon from Christ instead of the creation.

Meanwhile a terrible tragedy was taking place. In fourteen torture chambers, under the charge of the Tsar and his friends, the unhappy Archers underwent their trial. More than seventeen hundred were knouted, roasted, and exposed to torments worthy of the Spanish Inquisition. Peter made up his mind that his sister was the leading spirit of the late revolt; he forced her to take the veil, and he put an end to the Archers; in front of the cell where Sophia was confined he hanged one hundred and ninety-five of them. Three, suspended from the bars all winter, presented a mock petition. A week was spent in executions; a thousand victims met their death. The Tsar compelled his nobles to help the hangmen. On one day the courtiers beheaded one hundred and nine in the Tsar's presence. The Austrian Minister in Moscow heard that "five rebel heads had been sent into the dust by an axe wielded by the noblest hand in Russia." All winter the bodies remained unburied. It was whispered among the common people that the Tsar never went to bed without drinking blood. The Patriarch took the wonder-working picture of the Virgin and urged the Tsar to mercy.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


"Why halt "thou brought out the holy image?" exclaimed the Tsar. "Hence, and restore it to its place. Know that I reverence God and his most holy Mother no less than thou, but know, too, that it is my duty to defend the people and punish crime."

Peter took this occasion to put away his wife, who was hateful to him because she was jealous and had no sympathy for his friends or his ideas.

After this storm blew over Peter again devoted himself to his naval projects. His fleet on the Sea of Azof was completed, a Russian frigate was sent to Constantinople, and a thirty years' truce was signed with the Turks. Russia kept Azof, but was forbidden the Black Sea. The Ottoman Porte guards the Black Sea like a pure and undefiled virgin," said the Sultan, and we would sooner allow outsiders to enter our harem than permit foreign ships to sail on the Black Sea."

In order, therefore, to have free course to Europe, Peter needed a port on the Baltic, and he determined at the first opportunity to recover from Sweden the provinces which had been seized in the troublous times. The occasion came. Poland and Denmark declared war upon Sweden, and invited Russia to join the league. Peter consented, and sent an army of sixty-three thousand five hundred men to capture Narva and the old Russian fortress of Ivangorod.

The character of Charles XII., the young King of Sweden, had been entirely misjudged. With unexpected rapidity he attacked Copenhagen and forced his cousin, the King of Denmark, to make peace; then crossing over to Livonia, and learning that at his approach his cousin, Augustus of Poland, had raised the siege of Riga, he suddenly turned upon Peter and reached Narva by a terrible forced march. The surprise of the Russians was complete; the Swedes came on under cover of a blinding snowstorm, crossed the ditch and the parapet, and brought a panic into Peter's camp. The soldiers, with the cry, "The Germans have betrayed us," began to massacre the foreign officers who surrendered to the Swedes to save themselves. The battle was lost; the Swedes took seventy-nine officers, one hundred: and forty-nine cannon, and one hundred and forty-six banners. It was a crushing blow, but no time was to be lost. Charles might see fit to invade Russia and even proclaim Sophia. Peter went to work, with new courage: men, women, children, priests, monks, labored night and day on the fortifications of Pskof and Novgorod. The bells of the churches and monasteries were melted down to replace the lost cannon; new regiments were formed; dishonest officials were punished.

But Charles, puffed up by his victory, despised the Russians, and instead of securing the Baltic provinces for Sweden spent five years in useless plotting for the dethronement of Augustus and the election of Stanislas. During this time the Russians learned to conquer; while Charles was entangled in the marshes of Poland, they swept through Eastern Livonia and devastated the country with great cruelty, ruining towns, villages, and farms, and sending the inhabitants into captivity. Among those captured at Marienburg was Catherine, a young orphan girl who served in the family of Pastor Gluck. She was fairly educated, pretty, and vivacious: Peter saw her at the house of his favorite, Menshikof, and fell in love with her. It was the captive waiting-maid's destiny to become the Empress of Russia!

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The Neva was held by the Swedes. Peter himself captured the Little Hazelnut  Island and renamed the fort Schlusselburg, the key of the Neva; he also took the fort which guarded the mouth of the river, founded the citadel of Kronstadt, and celebrated his first naval victory. But his earnest support of Augustus was wasted; the cowardly king abdicated the throne, and the rash, knight-errant of the North was now able to avenge the capture of the Neva. Peter would have been glad to make peace, for discontent was stirring throughout Russia; the tribes of the Volga were rebellious; the Kazaks of the Don attacked Azof; the Kazaks of the Dnieper were restless; Mazeppa was beginning to play the traitor. But Charles refused to make peace: "I will treat with the Tsar in Moscow," was his reply. He might have easily captured Pskof and dictated his own terms, but he had no plan, and after hesitating several months he allowed himself to be tempted by the old fox, Mazeppa, into the steppes of Little Russia. The Tsar cut off his reinforcements; the winter came on with terrible rigor; bitter winds swept the plains; it was so cold that crows were frozen on the wing; the Swedes had no winter clothing; in one short march three thousand perished of the frost; the army was fed on mouldy bread; when spring came only eighteen thousand men fit for service were left of forty-one thousand, and only thirty-four cannon remained. Mazeppa, who had promised to join the king with twenty thousand men, brought only fifteen hundred.

A Russian expedition to the rapids of the Dnieper destroyed the island-city of the Kazaks, and prevented them from following their hetman. Charles was advised to return to Poland; he declared that "an angel would have to descend from heaven with orders before he stirred from his position." He determined to attack the strong town of Poltava "for a diversion." For six weeks he besieged the town; though famines threatened and ammunition failed, though he himself, like another Achilles, was cruelly wounded in the heel, he refused to listen to advice, saying, "We must do extraordinary things for honor and glory." Peter came and took the chief command of the Russians, who outnumbered the Swedes fourfold, Nevertheless Charles determined to begin the attack. His brave men fought with courage worthy of their ancestors, but they were completely beaten. Most of his generals were captured; twenty thousand men laid down their arms. Charles himself, the last of the Northmen, and Mazeppa, the last free Kazak, together entered the land of the Sultan as fugitives." In one of Pushkin's poems Mazeppa is made to say:—

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


"I have been mistaken about this Charles; he is indeed a bold and audacious youth; two or three battles can he gain; he can fall suddenly on the enemy after supper; reply to a bomb with a burst of laughter; like a Russian sharpshooter he can steal by night into the camp of the foe, overthrow the Kazak, give blow for blow, wound for wound; but it is not for him to cope with the giant autocrat; he wishes to make fortune manoeuvre like a regiment at the sound of a drum. He is blind, obstinate, impatient and thoughtless and presumptuous; he trusts in God knows what star. The new forces of his foe he measures by his past success. The horn of his strength is broken. I blush that in my old age I was misled by a military vagabond. Like a timid girl I was dazzled by his boldness and quick success."

How a Reformer Knouted his Only Son

The victory of Poltava secured to Russia the long-desired haven on the Baltic. Peter felt that the new city at the mouth of the Neva was henceforth safe from Swedish guns. "The fate of Phaethon has come upon our enemy," he wrote from the battle-field, "and the last stone for the foundation of St. Petersburg is laid by the help of God." The Neva near its mouth was divided into many water-courses by marshy islands, which were often covered by the stormy waves of the Baltic. Here Peter, after the capture of the two Swedish forts, determined to build a new city. On the desolate "Isle of Hares" were founded a fortress and a stuccoed church. Just outside was Peter's "palace," a small log cottage with three rooms. While he was personally superintending these works, a Dutch ship arrived with a cargo of salt and wine. Peter himself piloted it to port and presented the skipper with five hundred ducats and decreed the ship forever free from tolls.

The new city soon became "the apple of Peter's eye." All the masons of the country were brought there; it was forbidden to build stone buildings elsewhere, or even to repair those already built. Every noble who owned five hundred souls—souls is the Russian for male peasants—was required to erect a stone house of two stories. Every boat entering the harbor had to bring an offering of unhewn stone. This frozen Venice of the North seemed like a "paradise to the headstrong Tsar. He was discouraged neither by the terrible floods, nor by the unhealthy climate, nor by the sullen opposition of his courtiers, who longed for "Holy Mother Moscow."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Immediately after the battle of Poltava Peter hastened back to his "Holy Land" and busied himself with plans for its improvement. He also took advantage of Charles's five years' stay in Turkey to clinch his Northern conquests. He captured Vyborg on the Gulf of Finland, the most important city of Karelia, and transported the inhabitants to St. Petersburg. Riga fell next, and then the other cities of Livonia. The capture of Pernava and Reval assured the conquest of Esthonia. Kurland was given back to Poland. Peter's niece Anna was married to the young Duke, and Augustus again took the throne.

Suddenly, at the instigation of Charles XII. of France and the Krim Kan, the Sublime Porte declared war upon Russia. Peter accepted the challenge with enthusiasm, but he made the same mistake as Charles. Neglecting the advice of his German officers he crossed the Dniester with thirty-eight thousand men, advanced recklessly into the deserts of Moldavia and refused the Grand Vizier's propositions of peace. His ally, the ruler of Valakhia, deserted to the Turks; there were no provisions; the whole land was eaten up by grasshoppers. The Turks, one hundred and ninety thousand strong, managed to surround the Russian army. Peter was in such straits that by the advice of his brave wife, Catherine, who was with him, he sent to the Vizier a messenger empowered to give up Azof and all his Southern conquests, to restore Livonia to the Swedes, to exchange Pskof for the right to St. Petersburg, to recognize Stanislas as King of Poland, and to offer enormous bribes to all the Turkish officers. The wily Russian envoy, however, arranged for a peace on more favorable terms; the principal sacrifice was Azof and the fortresses on the Turkish border. Peter was unreconciled, but he wrote that though the loss of the cities which had cost so much labor and wrong was a "feast of death," yet he could see a prospect of future advantage.

The war with Sweden still went on. Two years after the unlucky campaign of the Pruth, Peter captured the capital of Finland and sent its university library to St. Petersburg. Sweden lost all its German provinces. The Tsar, whose relations with Europe were becoming complicated, tried to win the friendship of France. He visited Paris and took Louis XV. in his arms. "The little King is scarcely taller than our dwarf Loaki," wrote the Tsar. A French writer, on the other hand, says of the Tsar: "He was a very tall man, well made, though rather thin, his face somewhat round, with a high forehead, beautiful eyebrows, a short nose thick at the end; his lips rather thick; his skin ruddy and brown. He had fine black eyes, large, piercing, and wide-awake; his expression was dignified and gracious when he liked, but often wild and stern; his eyes and his whole face were distorted by an occasional twitch which was very unpleasant. It lasted only a moment and gave him a haggard and terrible look till it was gone. His whole manner was impressed with his intellect, thoughtfulness, and greatness, and was not lacking in grace." As everywhere else he astonished people by his intense curiosity; he studied government, commerce, science, and fortifications, but he could not induce France to break with England and help him restore the Stuarts to the throne. A commercial treaty was the only result of his visit.

Peter was on the point of a reconciliation with Charles XII. when the latter was killed in Norway. The Swedish Diet resolved to continue the war. Peter landed an army on the shores of Sweden, and extended his ravages to within sight of Stockholm. The ruin was enormous, and at last forced the Diet to end this war, which had dragged on for two-and-twenty years. The captured provinces were formally ceded to Russia. Great was the joy throughout the land. Peter was hailed as the Father of his Country, and was asked to take the title of Emperor and "the Great." Nor did his conquests end with the Baltic provinces. Russian merchants had been robbed in Persia; Peter made this a pretext to secure the Caspian. He descended the Oka and the Volga, crossed the great inland sea, and took Derbend, delivered the Shah from his rebellious subjects, and in return was given valuable districts beyond the Caucasus.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


While he was thus winning glory a shadow was clouding his life. As it were by main force he had accomplished his reforms; he destroyed the ancient nobility and established the Order of Rank based on service to the state; he brought woman from the seclusion of the terem  into society; he replaced the ancient Council of boyars by the Senate; he divided the Empire into governments and provinces with a foreign system of laws and justice; he established the Secret Police; regulated taxes; formed a regular army by conscription; he established the Patriarchate and gave its power to the Holy Synod; he allowed foreigners to work mines and start manufactories; he made a new alphabet and established the Moscow Gazette; he founded schools, academies, and colleges, in which the sciences excluded the classics; he built hospitals, and sent out exploring expeditions; he built a new capital, and made Russia a European state.

All these reforms he saw endangered by the conduct of his only son. Alexis was eight years old when his mother was sent to the convent. She had soon thrown off the habit of a nun, and lived in her cell with all the state of a princess. The young Alexis often visited her and fell under her narrowing influence. His father tried in vain to instill into his mind his own ideas, and married him to Charlotte of Brunswick, but it was too late. The young man was indolent and wayward; he neglected his bride because she was a foreigner; the anxious father saw that his son was the hope of those who hated his reforms. He wrote him: "Disquiet for the future destroys the joy caused by our present successes, for I see that you despise all that can make you worthy to reign after me. To whom shall I leave what I have established and done? If you do not alter your conduct, know that I shall cut you off from the succession. I have not spared my own life for my country and my people; do you think I shall spare yours? Better a worthy stranger than an unworthy relation."

While Peter was in the West Alexis fled to the Court of Charles VI. at Vienna, and was finally concealed in a castle near Naples. He was tracked and brought back to Moscow, where his father obliged him to sign a formal renunciation of the throne. It was found that Alexis had openly wished for his father's death, and had promised as soon as he was Tsar to abandon St. Petersburg and the Swedish conquests, and bring the court back to Moscow. Twice he was knouted, and a tribunal of the highest officials condemned him to death. Two days after the sentence was passed he was again knouted and died under the torture.

This was Peter's last conflict with the forces of the past. All his life long he had allowed nothing to stand in the way of his "terrible task;" comfort, luxury, pleasure, sister, wife, son, everything, was sacrificed to the one great idea. And what was his reward? He was so feared and hated by boyar and serf that there was scarcely one to be found in all Russia who did not devoutly wish for his death. Some said that he was bewitched by the Germans; others declared that he was not the son of the Tsar Alexis, but a changeling, that Natalia's child was a girl, and that the midwives had changed her for a son of Lefort. Others believed that the real Tsar had been killed while among the foreigners, who sent one of their own men to oppress Russia and turn the orthodox from the faith. The stories grew. It was whispered about that the Tsar Peter had gone into the realm of glass, where a woman reigned who mocked the Tsar and put him into a hot frying-pan and then threw him into prison. Others varied the legend by declaring that Peter had been nailed up in a cask lined with spikes and thrown into the sea. "This is not our lord," they said; "this is a German; "and they wanted to kill him.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Meanwhile Peter's health became broken by his toils and excesses. After the death of Alexis he issued the famous decree that the Russian Emperor had the right to name his successor. This right. Peter himself failed to use, although he solemnly crowned Catherine as Empress. His death was brought on by a series of exposures. He flung himself into ice-cold water to save a crew of shipwrecked sailors. He recovered from the fever thus brought upon him, but soon afterwards drank to excess at one of his unworthy festivities. His cold was increased at the "Blessing of the Neva," and before he expressed his last wishes he became unconscious and died.

How the Russian Throne


Once more Old and New Russia were brought face to face, but Peter's "eaglets" were all powerful in the Council and in the army; they straightway gave the throne to Catherine, the "heroine of the Pruth." The two years of her reign were mainly occupied with Peter's favorite schemes; the Academy of Sciences was founded; new exploring expeditions were sent out; St. Petersburg and the fleet were fostered. At Catherine's death the High Council undertook to govern in the name of Peter II., the young son of the unfortunate Alexis. As in the preceding reign, Prince Menshikof was at first the leading spirit, but his overweening arrogance led to his disgrace. The conservative party got the young Emperor under their influence, and began to undo the reforms of the "Giant Tsar." The court returned to Moscow; the poor little Peter was led into all sorts of idle follies; the courtiers cared only for their own interests; "They never obey me," he cried to his aunt Elizabeth, "but I will break my chains yet." It was death which broke his chains. Like his grandfather, he caught cold at the "Blessing of the Waters," and died suddenly in his fifteenth year. His last words were: "Get ready the sledge! I want to go to my sister."

There were now five candidates for the vacant throne: Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great; his grandson, Peter of Holstein; his divorced wife, and his two nieces, Catherine, Duchess of Mecklenburg, and Anna, Duchess of Kurland: The leading nobles took upon themselves to offer the crown to the Duchess Anna. She signed an agreement to consult the High Council on all government affairs, and to make neither war nor peace without its consent, nor to impose taxes, nor punish any noble without trial, nor marry, nor name a successor. Anna came to Moscow, but she soon found that the "Constitution" which she had agreed to fulfil was not the will of the whole nation, "Let her be an autocrat like her predecessors," was the popular cry. She then seized the power and suppressed the High Council. She put Germans into all the chief offices; she had no pity upon her subjects; taxes were collected mercilessly; "the peasants beheld their last head of cattle, their last tool, seized by the Government for payment."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The spies of the Secret Court of Police were everywhere; a hint was enough to bring a Russian noble under suspicion; thousands of the upper classes were banished and beheaded. Anna's low-born lover, Biren, whom she made Duke of Kurland, was brutal and cordially hated; the discontent became universal; famines and fires drove the people to despair; they thought that these woes had come upon them because a woman reigned; "Cities ruled by women endure not; the walls built by women are never high," was their proverb. They longed for the staff of Peter to chastise "Biren, the cursed German." For greater safety the court returned to St. Petersburg. "No one here dares to murmur against the will of the Empress," wrote Lefort, "and the evil-minded have been so effectually put out of the way that scarce a trace can be found of the Russian whose unfriendly designs are to be feared."

The succession to the Polish throne soon interested Anna. Twenty thousand Russian entered Poland and proclaimed Augustus III. King, although the nobles had elected the candidate of France. The French met the Russians in battle for the first time, and were beaten near Danzig. Then the war was transferred to the Rhine and Italy. Russia came to the aid of Austria, and for the first time also Western Germany saw a Russian army in its borders. France, in order to avenge itself on Russia, persuaded Turkey to declare war. Anna took the offensive and sent a great expedition across the steppes of the South. The lines of Perekop were forced, the capital of the Krim kans was pillaged, the Western Crimea was laid waste. Azof was again captured; the next year the conquests continued. The Russians crossed the Pruth and entered the capital of Moldavia. Austria grew jealous and obliged its Russian allies to make peace. The sacrifice of a hundred thousand men was rewarded with only the fortress of Azof and a little tongue of land between the Bug and the Dnieper. The terrible cost in men and money of this campaign still further increased the discontent. The Secret Police discovered that the Dalgoruki family was heading a conspiracy to remove the Empress, make way with Biren and the Germans, and raise Elizabeth to the throne.

Anna's revenge was complete: Marshal Dalgoruki died in prison; Basil and two others were beheaded; Ivan was broken on the wheel; the story of his beautiful wife, Natalia, who bravely shared his misfortunes, reads like a romance. Anna was chiefly urged to this severity by her minister, Volynski, who was himself plotting a greater treason. "He was distinguished for his great intellect and intolerable disposition. Turbulent, ostentatious, proud, constantly making advances, insolent to his equals, ready for any act of crying injustice toward the poor, he drew upon himself the hatred of all." He plotted to force Anna to marry him and lift him to the throne. But he managed to offend Biren, who said to Anna, "One of us must go." He was in turn put to death after having his tongue torn out, and his children were sent to Siberia. His estates were given to Biren.

After these conspiracies were put down Anna again devoted herself to her amusements. Her court became famous in Europe for its barbaric splendor. "Biren loved bright colors, therefore black coats were forbidden at court, and every one appeared in brilliant raiment; nothing was to be seen but light-blue, pale-green, yellow, and pink. Old men came to Peterhof—her pleasure palace near the capital—in delicate rose-colored costumes." Anna took great delight in her court-fools; she made princes of the noblest birth occupy this position, and had them beaten if they refused to amuse her. She forced two Russian princesses to gulp balls of pastry and crouch in bark tubs and cackle like hens.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Prince Galitsin's wife having died, Anna forced him to marry an old and ugly Kalmuk, nicknamed Pickled Pork. The marriage festival was celebrated with great pomp; representatives of every nation and tribe of the empire took part, with native costumes and musical instruments; some rude on camels, some on deer, others were drawn by oxen, dogs, and swine. The bridal couple were borne in a cage on an elephant's back. Anna had a palace built entirely of ice for their reception. It was ornamented with ice-pillars and statues, and lighted by panes of thin ice. The doors and window posts were painted to represent green marble; droll pictures on linen were placed in ice frames. All the furniture, the chairs, the mirrors, even the bridal couch, were ice. By an ingenious use of naptha the ice chandeliers were lighted, the ice logs in the ice grates were made to burn! At the gates two ice dolphins poured forth fountains of flame; vases filled with frosty flowers, trees with foliage and birds, a life-sized elephant with a frozen Persian on its back adorned the yard. All was of ice. Ice cannon and mortars guarded the doors and were fired in salute. The bride and bridegroom had to spend the night in their glacial palace.

The year after this festivity Anna died, leaving the throne to Ivan of Brunswick, her niece's son, who was only three months old. At the same time she appointed the hated Duke of Kurland regent. His regency lasted only three weeks: Ivan's parents could not bear his presence; a plot was laid to get rid of him; he was suddenly arrested in bed by eighty grenadiers and sent with his wife and children to Siberia. Ivan's mother, Anna, assumed the regency, but her conduct was scandalous. She spent days at a time undressed upon her couch conversing with her friends; she had not even the energy to sign the most important papers. Such incapacity was doomed to destruction. Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, aided by French money and Swedish influence, won the guards: "My children," she said, "You know whose daughter I am." "We know and we are ready," they cried. "I swear to die for you; will you swear to die for me?" she asked, and they all took the oath. Anna, her husband, Duke Anton of Brunswick, and the other Germans, were suddenly arrested and exiled. The poor infant Emperor was put into a dreary dungeon for life, and grew up idiotic.

Elizabeth was hailed as the savior of the people, "the Moses who snatched Russia in one night from Egyptian slavery," "the Noah who had saved the land from the deluge of foreigners." Like a true Russian she was devoted to the Orthodox Church; under the influence of the priests she planned to suppress the dissenting churches on the Nevski street of St. Petersburg; she closed the Tartar mosques in the East and South; she expelled thirty-five thousand Jews because they were the foes of Christ the Lord and did much evil to her subjects." She turned her attention to the morals and education of the clergy, ordered the peasants to clean their dirty ikons, caused catechisms to be distributed in the churches and a revised edition of the Bible to be sold. At the Church Academy of Moscow the pupils discussed the nature of the light of glory in the life to come."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Elizabeth also looked after the material interests of Russia; she founded banks, sent the sons of merchants to study trade and book-keeping in Holland. She encouraged the working of mines and colonized Siberia and the Southern steppes. At the same time that she abolished the death penalty, she used more stringent measures to put a stop to brigandage and punish crime; those who survived the knout were mutilated and sent to the public works. Her minister and lover, Count Ivan Shuvalof, founded the University of Moscow and opened schools on the borders. He patronized literature and the stage. By his example French civilization began to influence Russian manners. Elizabeth dressed in the fashion of Paris, and is said to have left in her wardrobe fifteen thousand costly dresses, several thousand pairs of shoes and slippers, and two great chests full of silk stockings. The French theatre in St. Petersburg was all the rage. French plays were translated into Russian. Learned Frenchmen joined the Academy of Sciences, for which a splendid palace was built.

Elizabeth's foreign policy was no less worthy of her father; the Swedes tried to win back lost territory; her armies forced them to make the treaty of Abo, which assured Southern Finland to Russia, and the crown of Sweden to her ally, Adolph of Holstein. She also interfered in the war of the Austrian succession, and her army of thirty thousand men, though they fired not a shot, helped to bring about the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. She was afterwards persuaded that Frederick II. of Prussia was "the most dangerous of neighbors," and united with Maria Theresa, the Empress Queen," and with Louis XV., against Prussia and England in the Seven Years' War. Frederick invaded Saxony, and eighty thousand Russians occupied Eastern Prussia, captured Memel, and defeated the Prussian General Lewald. Two years later the great king himself was completely crushed. He wrote from the battle-field: "But three thousand men are now left of my army of forty-eight thousand. All are in flight; it is a cruel blow." The Russians then entered Berlin and Pomerania. The greatest general of his age was saved from absolute ruin only by the death of the Empress, who was succeeded by her nephew, Peter of Holstein, the grandson of Peter the Great.

Catherine Dispatches her Husband

Peter of Holstein was at this time thirty-four years old, and a devoted admirer of the Prussian King and the Prussian tactics. Boasting that his greatest glory was to call Frederick the Great his master, he hastened to restore all the Russian conquests, giving up the French and Austrian alliance to make peace with his old friend." His first acts won him great applause: he freed the nobles from the obligation to serve the state; he abolished the Secret Court of Police, he protected the dissenters whom his aunt had so terribly persecuted, and gave them lands, saying, "Mahomedans and even idolaters are permitted in the Empire, but the dissenters are Christians;" he recalled many political exiles from Siberia, and released the wretched Emperor Ivan VI. from his dungeon.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


On the other hand he despoiled the clergy and publicly showed his contempt for the orthodox faith; he won the hatred of the army by the favor shown to his Holstein battalions; he embarked in a foolish war against Denmark; he irritated his court by his coarse manners; he brutally abused his wife, the beautiful Sophia of Anhalt, who became Empress under the name of Catherine, and it was said proposed to put her in a convent and marry another woman. Such conduct ripened revolution. Catherine won all hearts by her sufferings, her piety, her gracious ways; she placed herself at the head of the conspirators. Peter was warned, but paid no heed. He was at his favorite palace near St. Petersburg when suddenly Catherine appeared at the head of twenty thousand men. Escape was vain. He was forced to abdicate in favor of his wife. A few days afterwards the foreign ministers were informed that the late Emperor had died of a colic to which he was subject.

Catherine hastened to withdraw from the Seven Years' War, and made a close alliance with Frederick, whom she had at first publicly called "the perfidious enemy of Russia." It was in Poland that the interests of the two sovereigns were found to agree. This royal republic was fast verging on ruin: the throne was stripped of nearly all power; a few great magnates persisted in retaining the luxurious feudalism of the Middle Ages; the population was mainly composed of degraded serfs; a million grasping Jews, despised and down-trodden, monopolized the little commerce of the land; there was no law, no order; at the Diets a single member could veto any act. The army was composed of lawless cavalry, without infantry, artillery, or national defences.

The whole state was divided against itself. At the death of King Augustus III. Stanislas II., one of Catherine's early lovers, was placed upon the throne by the intervention of Russian arms. Immediately the old religious quarrel broke out; the orthodox supported the new king; the Roman Catholics, uniting under the name of "Confederates," rebelled. It was a savage war; the peasants murdered nobles, Romanists, and Jews; the Kazaks and the brigands of the border went plundering from estate to estate; not a house was left standing in a circle of forty miles. An army of eighty thousand Russians entered Warsaw and forced the Diet to give the orthodox nobles the same rights as the Catholics, and secure Stanislas on the throne.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The French court, in order to help the "Confederates," induced the Porte to declare war on Russia. Though Catherine's troops were mostly occupied in Poland, she sent Alexander Galitsin with thirty thousand men against one hundred thousand Turks. "The Romans," she said, "took no thought of the number of their foes; they only asked: Where are they?" Galitsin defeated the Grand Vizier in person, and occupied Valakhia and Moldavia. The next year seventeen thousand Russians put one hundred and fifty thousand Mussulmans to flight at Kahul, while a fleet under Catherine's lover, Alexis Orlof, left the Baltic, appeared on the coasts of Greece, raised a revolt among the Christian populations of the Morea, and with the help of the Englishmen, Dugdale and Elphinstone, destroyed the Turkish fleet. Instead of sailing straight upon Constantinople, which he might easily have taken, he wasted his time among the Greek islands; when he reached the Straits of the Dardanelles he found them closed.

The war lasted two years more. Prince Dalgoruki ravaged the Crimea, took the chief cities, and drove the Turks from the isthmus forever. At the same time all the fortresses on the lower Danube were captured; the Russian army conquered Bessaria and entered Bulgaria.

Frederick the Great, who was anxious to seize Western Prussia and the cities of the Vistula from Poland, assured Catherine that if she kept her Turkish conquests France and Austria would unite to drive her from the Danube. He proposed, therefore, that she should voluntarily withdraw her forces from the South and unite with him and Joseph II. in a partition of Poland. White Russia, which once formed part of the territory of St. Vladimir, would amply repay her for the sacrifice. Catherine, rather than fight united Europe, was obliged to consent. The partition was immediately brought about. Frederick took Western Prussia, Joseph took Western Galitch, or Red Russia, Catherine took White Russia and the cities on the Dvina with one million six hundred thousand inhabitants.

The Turkish war was soon after renewed; the Russians surrounded the Grand Vizier at Shumla, and the Sultan was glad to make peace. The Krim Kan was declared independent; Russia was allowed to keep the strongholds of Azof and Kinburn, to protect the Christian population of the southern provinces and to send merchant ships through the Bosphorus. Moreover the Porte agreed to pay a fine of four million five hundred thousand rubles.

While her armies were winning laurels abroad, Catherine had ugly trials at home. Only two years after her husband's death Mirovitch, a lieutenant of the guards, plotted to free the imbecile Ivan VI. from his dungeon, and raise him to the throne once more. The warders stabbed Ivan and seized Mirovitch, who was beheaded. It was the first public execution for more than twenty years, and the pressure of spectators was so great that the bridge over the Neva nearly broke down.

The armies which returned victorious from the first Krim campaign brought with them the plague. At Moscow the deaths during the summer months amounted to a thousand a day; the people thronged in fright to ask protection of a holy picture. The Archbishop, Ambrosius, removed it because many were suffocated in the crowd. "The Archbishop is an infidel," cried the people; "he and the doctors would make us die; if they had not smoked up the streets and the hospitals the plague would have ceased long ago." And they rushed to the Kreml, put the Archbishop to death, and sacked his palace. Catherine had to send her lover, Gregory Orlof, to calm the revolt. On his return to Petersburg he was received with a triumphal arch: "To the man who freed Moscow from the plague." Eastern Russia, too, was a prey to all sorts of violence. A tribe of three hundred thousand Kalmuks wearied of their life on the steppe, broke up camp, and with their cattle and chariots crossed the Volga and the Urals, and returned to their ancient home in China. Many in the rear were cut off by the Kazaks. The villages and woods of the Volga were filled with "Old Believers" and other fanatical dissenters, enemies of a woman tsar; "hundreds of runaway serfs, deserters from the army, robbers, and pirates infested those far-off regions; hosts of impostors claimed to be Peter III. or Ivan VI. The Kozak, Pugachef, a prisoner at Kazan, managed to escape into the steppes of the Iaik River. There he proclaimed himself Peter III., unfurled the banner of Holstein, and uttered threats against Catherine, his "murderous wife." All the troops sent against him joined his ranks. The people began to receive him as their Emperor; the priests acknowledged his authority. Some of the Polish confederates sent as captives to the East acted as his masters of artillery; again the serfs rose against their masters; the barbarians of the Volga revolted and joined him. Catherine sent Alexander Bibikof to put an end to the trouble. Though he saw that the "evil was great, frightful, ugly," he went to work wisely and well, he dispersed the "bugbear's" army and took his guns. The impostor fled, pillaged and burned Kazan, was again defeated; then he retreated boldly to the cities of the Southern Volga, hanged the governors, and established new officers. At last he was shut in between the Volga and the Iaik and surrendered by his own troops. Even his cruel death at Moscow did not end the revolt. On every hand false Pugachefs and false Peters continued for some time to appear. Gathering savage bands they murdered the land-owners and burned their houses. (In order to blot out the memory of the revolt, the Iaik was renamed Ural, and the Ialk Kazaks were called Ural Kazaks.)

Catherine, put on her guard by these events, resolved to forestall similar revolts in the South. She put an end to the famous Kazak republic of the Dnieper, destroyed their island city, and gave their rich lands to foreign colonists. At the same time she annexed the Crimea. Its ravines, for centuries the haunts of robber bands and the menace of Moscow, were taken from the control of lawless Tartars. A firm government replaced the anarchy of rival kans.

Catherine's Glory and Shame

The relations of Russia and the Porte were growing every day more critical. Catherine's lover, Potemkin, Prince of the Taurid, was making the Crimea a shield for Russian operations on the Black Sea; arsenals and fortresses bristled with guns; a powerful fleet was ready at an hour's notice to sail for the Golden Horn. Catherine herself visited her new provinces; arches inscribed "The Way to Byzantium" welcomed the victorious Empress. She had already agreed with Joseph II. of Austria to make a division of Turkey, expel the Ottomans from Constantinople, and re-establish the Greek Empire, with her grandson Constantine on the throne.

The old relations were reversed: England, Prussia, and Sweden were arrayed in policy against Russia, Austria, and France. Suddenly the Porte declared war. Potemkin, taken by surprise, proposed to evacuate the new port of Sevastopol. "I beg you to take courage," said Catherine's letter, the brave soul can mend even disaster." The Swedes took advantage of the crisis to claim South Finland; their guns were heard at the Winter Palace; a quick march would have brought them to St. Petersburg, which was defenceless. Catherine rose to the occasion; while Gustavus III. was wasting his time she got together twelve thousand troops to protect the capital; the Russian fleet met the Swedish fleet at Hogland; the Swedish king was recalled by a conspiracy to Stockholm; the Danes invaded Sweden, and Catherine was enabled to give all her attention to Turkey. She sent eighteen thousand men to the Caucasus, thirty-seven thousand to act on the Dniester, while Potemkin had eighty thousand with which to capture Otchak6f and protect the Crimea. At the same time Joseph II., with two hundred thousand, threatened the Danube.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


While the Russian fleet defeated the Turkish fleet Potemkin tried to starve out Otchakof, but winter came on; his soldiers suffered from lack of shelter, scanty clothing, and starvation. At last, in desperation, he gave them brandy seasoned with Spanish pepper, and ordered the assault. A galling cross-fire raked the columns, but after a fearful struggle the place was won. The Turks lost eight thousand, the Russians even more. In this war Suvorof was the hero: he defended Kinburn against fearful odds; he annihilated the remains of the Turkish fleet; he twice saved the Prince of Coburg from overwhelming disaster; he carried the stronghold of Ismail on the Danube, defended by forty thousand Turks. "Never was a fortress stronger than Ismail," he wrote, "and never was a defence more desperate! But Ismail is taken!" The loss of the Turks was thirty thousand men.

Catherine's unfortunate ally, Joseph II., died and was succeeded by Leopold II., who signed a peace at Sistova. Catherine kept up the war for some months; the Russians captured the mouths of the Danube, again scattered the Turkish fleet, and cut off the Grand Vizier from Constantinople. The Sultan begged for peace, which Catherine granted. She kept only Otchakof and a short line of sea-board which brought the Russian frontier to the Dniester.

While Russia was occupied with her Northern and Southern wars, Poland had been making desperate efforts to take its rightful place among the nations; a Diet of patriots drew up a new constitution. The nobles forgot their quarrels, an era of glory seemed to be at hand. But the hopes of the Poles were doomed. After the Turkish war was ended Catherine denounced the reformers as Jacobins, and sent her army to restore the old anarchy. King Stanislas was weak enough to yield. The King of Prussia, claiming that the safety of his states was threatened by Polish troubles, crossed the western frontier, and in conjunction with Catherine proceeded once more to maim Poland.

Catherine's artillery and bayonets obliged the king and the Diet to ratify the "Second Partition," which added three million inhabitants to the Russian Empire and sent a million and a half of Slavs under the hated yoke of Prussia.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The Polish patriots were not willing to yield their liberties without a struggle. Thaddeus Kosciuszko organized the national plot; Krakof, the second city of Poland, "the capital of the ancient kings," expelled the Russian garrison; the population was called to arms; Warsaw and Vilno followed the example of Krakof; a government of patriots took control of public affairs. But Russia, Austria, and Prussia soon drew their toils about the unhappy Poles. France, occupied with its own revolution, was unable to give any aid. The Prussians entered Krakof, the Austrians took Lublin, the Russians defeated Kosciuszko on the Vistula and captured him; Suvorof took Prague, opposite Warsaw, by assault; the Poles defended themselves "with desperate recklessness." "The streets are covered with corpses; blood flows in torrents," was Suvorof s message.

The revolt was crushed. Poland was divided among the three Powers; Stanislas II. died a state prisoner at St. Petersburg; the very name of Poland was wiped from the map of Europe. The "Third Partition" gave Russia all Lithuania east of the Niemen, all Volynia, Kurland, and Samogitia.

Catherine, who had once declared that "the nation was not made for the Sovereign but the Sovereign for the nation," that "liberty is the right to do everything not forbidden by law," was vastly irritated by the French Revolution; she refused to recognize the Republic; forbade the tricolor flag to be displayed in her ports, and finally hastened to welcome Louis XVII. to the throne of the Bourbons.

Catherine's reign was distinguished for her conquests and her reforms. Her conquests in the South and the West brought Russia "into the heart of Europe;" her Persian conquests, which followed the others, opened the way into the heart of Asia.

Her reforms were no less glorious: she "pillaged the philosophers of the West" to form a new code of laws; she subdivided the Empire into fifty governments; she founded two hundred new cities; she devoted the surplus revenues of the Church to the foundation of schools and hospitals; she tolerated all forms of religion; she founded schools for young women; she encouraged art and science; she spent a million rubles in a single year for the purchase of celebrated pictures; at her order the great sculptor Falconet made his famous bronze statue of Peter the Great.

Catherine especially affected the friendship of French writers. She entertained Diderot with royal magnificence and bought his library; she gave the education of her grandsons, Alexander and Constantine, to the care of the republican Laharpe; she kept up a constant correspondence with Voltaire, the hermit of Ferney, "telling him of her victories, her reforms, and her plans to colonize the steppes." The great Empress also wrote history for her grandsons, and dramas for the stage, and made herself the patroness of Russian literature. It was said of her: "She was born in Germany; she had the mind of a Frenchman and the heart of a Russian."

The personal character of Catherine the Great was not blameless. "I know," said Voltaire, "that she is reproached with some trifles about her husband; but these are family affairs with which I do not meddle." Her lovers were countless; her lavishness toward them almost incredible; she distributed among them more than one hundred and fifty thousand serfs and nearly ninety million rubles. Prince Potemkin received in two years nine million rubles and thirty-seven thousand serfs. But if she thus threw away the treasure of the Empire, "no monarch since Ivan the Terrible had extended its frontiers by such vast conquests." She was planning other enterprises when she died, suddenly, at the age of sixty-seven, and was succeeded by her son Paul.

How the Russian Hamlet


Russia was exhausted by forty years of ceaseless war. The new Emperor, a man of generous impulses, announced that he could not refuse his subjects the peace for which they longed; he recalled his army from Persia, and refused to take part in the contest with France, though he promised to oppose by all possible means the progress of the mad French Republic which threatened Europe with total ruin by the destruction of laws, privileges, property, religion, and manners." He established the exiled Louis XVIII. in the ducal palace of Mitava and gave him a pension.

But peace was of short duration; Napoleon's ambition forced Europe into a general war. Paul made an alliance with England, Austria, and Naples; even Turkey joined the league. A Turko-Russian fleet cruised among the Ionian Islands; a Russia army was sent to Holland; and Suvorof was recalled from exile to command the united armies of upper Italy. He entered Milan and abolished the Cis-Alpine republic. He fought the bloody battle of the Trebbia and captured Mantua. This was his creed: "A quick glance, speed, dash! The van of the army must not wait for the rear; musket balls are fools; bayonets are the fine fellows." Leaving Italy, the intrepid old man found himself entangled in the Alps. His allies were defeated in the battle of Zurich; he was surrounded by the French. He crossed the St. Gothard, that "kingdom of terrors," as he called it, drove the enemy before him, and made his famous retreat across the snows of Mont Bragil and Glarus.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Paul was angry with the "treachery" of Austria and England, and hastened to make an alliance with the First Consul, with whom he arranged the famous plan for the expedition to overthrow English rule in India. Eleven regiments of Kazaks had even started on the hazardous march through Asia when they were recalled by a sudden change in the government.

The Emperor's mind was narrow; his character capricious. He delighted in showing his authority. "Know," said he, "that the only person of consideration in Russia is the person whom I address and only during the time that I am addressing him." It is said that he ordered a whole regiment of the guard to Siberia because they misunderstood an order. He obliged his subjects to fall on their knees when hp passed; even women had to go down into the mud oz snow. This "Russian Hamlet" went in all things contrary to his Empress mother; he prohibited the use of her favorite words "citizen" and "society," he kept the theatre and the press under the strictest censorship, forbade European books to be imported,, and recalled Russian students and travellers from abroad. As time went on his violence increased, he often broke out into threats against his wife, the beautiful Empress Maria, and his eldest son Alexander. No one felt safe. The peace with Napoleon and the rupture with England brought the crisis; a conspiracy was put on foot to force Paul to abdicate. Alexander consented to the scheme. The guard of the palace was won over. The conspirators went to Paul's chamber and presented the act of abdication. A struggle ensued; the lamp went out, and in the darkness the Emperor was strangled with an officer's scarf.

The Russian Hamlet

Alexander mounted the throne and vowed to "govern according to the principles and after the heart of Catherine." He was full of illusions and hope; his "Triumvirate" of young friends, liberal and progressive in their ideas, incited him to reform. Paul's tyrannical measures were repealed; Western books and theories came once more into vogue; the emancipation of the serfs was the topic of the time; once more the wandering sheep of the church" were protected; a set of dancing dissenters were allowed to perform their rites in the Mikhail Palace.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The rule of the liberal triumvirate lasted six years; they worshipped the English constitution, and it was not strange that the alliance with France was given up for that of Great Britain. England and Russia agreed together to drive the newly crowned Emperor Napoleon from Northern Germany, and to declare Holland and Switzerland independent. Sweden and Naples joined the coalition. Alexander had the famous interview with the King and Queen of Prussia near the tomb of Frederick the Great, and Prussia agreed to furnish eighty thousand men. Austria had already begun the war. The Russian army was endangered by the defeat of the latter near Ulm and by the capture of Vienna, but the Russians and Austrians joined forces at Olmutz. Then came the epic battle of "the three emperors" at Austerlitz, when Alexander himself was obliged to flee almost unattended, and the loss of the Russians was twenty-one thousand men, two hundred cannon, and thirty flags. Napoleon reached the summit of his power; the Confederation of the Rhine brought him one hundred and fifty thousand men; his brothers sat on the thrones of Naples and Holland.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


A new war arose; again England, Sweden, Prussia, and Russia united against the Corsican; again Russia's chief ally was too hasty; the battles of Jena and Auerstadt endangered the Prussian monarchy. The French entered Berlin and Prussian Poland. Alexander proclaimed that the war was made "not for vainglory but for the salvation of the fatherland." Nevertheless his General-in-chief; Bennigsen, was driven out of Poland with a loss of ten thousand men and eighty cannon. A winter campaign ended disastrously with the battle of Eylau, which was one of the bloodiest on record. Whole regiments were swept away in a breath; the Russians lost twenty-six thousand men. The French remained masters of the field; but as the Russians withdrew safely under cover of the darkness the Te Deum  of victory was sung. Napoleon stayed a week at Eylau and tried to dictate terms to Prussia. But Frederick William still clung to the Russian alliance, and the war went on. In the spring Bennigsen, with one hundred and ten thousand men, fought several bloody battles with Marshal Ney, and being obliged to retreat, took up a most dangerous position in the ravine of the Alle, near Friedland. Napoleon saw that his opponent had left himself no chance of retreat. No," said he, it is not every day that an enemy is caught in such a blunder." The event proved as the great general foresaw; Ney led an irresistible charge; the three bridges behind the Russians were cannonaded; the Russian army was almost annihilated. Alexander was obliged to treat, and the two Emperors had their famous meeting on the raft in the midst of the Niemen. The King of Prussia waited on the shore, impatiently urging his horse into the water and gazing on the raft where his fate was being decided. The result of the interview finished the fall of Prussia.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Alexander the Weak, to his shame, suddenly turned his back upon England, allowed "the two wings of the Prussian eagle to be broken," and as a reward took all Finland from his brother-in-law, the King of Sweden, and allowed Napoleon to form the Grand Duchy of Warsaw upon his borders.

Alexander had already freed himself from the liberal friends of his youth who favored England, and was under the influence of Speranski, who was devoted to the French. Speranski was the son of a poor priest who by sheer ability had risen to distinction during the two preceding reigns. In proportion as he won the Emperor's favor he drew upon himself the hatred of his associates.

The alliance with Napoleon was extremely distasteful. Alexander, as usual given to illusions, found his illusions again disappointed. Sweden was able to thwart the proposed annexation of Finland; the naval war with England was ruining commerce; the hope which Napoleon had held out of a partition of Turkey was a bubble. At the "interview at Erfurt" between the two Emperors, Russian pride was pained to see the conscious superiority of the French. Nevertheless the alliance was renewed: Alexander agreed to keep Europe quiet while Napoleon seized the throne of Spain. Napoleon engaged to further the Russian occupation of Finland and the States of the Danube. It was proposed that Napoleon should put away Josephine and marry Alexander's sister. Alexander now had his hands full of war; with England, Sweden, Austria, Turkey, with Persia, and the tribes of the Caucasus. The Russian fleet of the Archipelago was captured by the English in the Tagus, but the second war with Sweden was more successful. Sixty thousand Russians entered Finland, took all the great fortresses, and banished the Swedish fleet from the gulfs. The war with Austria, in which Napoleon involved Alexander, was half-hearted; the Russians and Austrians met only twice; and the loss was three killed and four wounded! Napoleon rewarded his "lukewarm "ally with Eastern Gallicia, with a population of four hundred thousand souls.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


But the French alliance was not to last. The establishment of the Polish Grand Duchy, the failure of the projected marriage, the annexation to France of Oldenburg and the three Hanse towns, the enforcement of the Continental blockade which ruined commerce, and Napoleon's insolence, brought Alexander's anger to the highest pitch. He began to make preparations for war. He suddenly disgraced Speranski, the friend of France, and the great struggle began. Napoleon and "the army of the Twenty Nations" crossed the Niemen. Alexander summoned patriotic Russia: "Oh, that the foe may find in each noble a Pozharski, in each priest a Palitsin, in each citizen a Minin. Rise, all! With cross on breast and arms in hand no human force can prevail against us."

The Invasion of Russia

Every one knows the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia; how day by day the Grand Army was tempted on to its destruction; how it melted away in the long march through Poland and Lithuania; how its very victories were defeats. It counted one hundred and fifty thousand lost before it reached Mogilef: Thousands fell in the three battles at Smolensk; fifteen thousand were left on the bloody field of Valutina. Then came Borodino. Old Kutuzof was at the head of the Russians. "Kutuzof," they said, "had come to beat the French." They knew it was their last chance to save Holy Mother Moscow. On the morning of the battle the priests sprinkled them with holy water; the wonder-working Virgin of Vladimir was carried in solemn procession to the front. An eagle hovered over the head of their favorite leader. Their religious and patriotic enthusiasm was put then to the test. The outworks of Borodino were lost and won and lost again. Irresistible the onrush of Murat's cavalry, the assault of Caulaincourt's cuirassiers. Here again the French lost thirty thousand men, forty-nine generals, and thirty-seven colonels." The beast was wounded to the death," says the great novelist, Tolstoi.

Kutuzof withdrew beyond Moscow, and the French entered the city singing the "Marseillaise." Napoleon took up his abode in the palace of the Tsars. The legend tells how he made up his mind to go to the rich convent of St. Sergi. He climbed Ivan's Tower to examine the route: "All that wealth is mine," he said, "there is no one to gainsay me." Then, as he looked forth across the city, he saw an old man come out of the monastery with a cross in his hand and behind him swept a mysterious army which covered all the fields. It was the spirits of the dead heroes of Russia coming to defend their beloved land. All at once the old man lifted his cross, and Napoleon in affright covered his eyes, and when again he looked the city was in flames.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Napoleon had to flee from the Kreml for his life. Almost perishing he reached the Petrovski Palace. More than a month the "pitiless army" loitered in Moscow; four fifths of the houses were in ashes; at last food began to fail; they had to kill their horses for meat; around them the toils of the Russians drew closer. Kutuzof's army was daily growing; twenty-six regiments of Don Kazaks came to his aid. He shut off the road to Riazan, the road to Kaluga; only the desolated road to Smolensk was left for the French retreat. The October snows had begun to fall when Napoleon ordered the first divisions to quit Moscow. As a last revenge Mortier blew up the Kreml walls; Elizabeth's palace was ruined; the Tower of Ivan the Great was cracked; great gaps were left in the sacred gates.

Napoleon and his army reached Smolensk before the cold grew very severe; here too they suffered severely from hunger. The Russians hung upon their rear. Kutuzof captured twenty-six thousand stragglers, two hundred and eight cannon, and five thousand carriages; his exultation knew no bounds; he threw his cap into the air and cheered lustily "for the brave Russian soldier." Then he told his officers a fable: "Listen, gentlemen, to a pretty fable that Krilof, the good story-teller, sent me. A wolf entered a kennel and tormented the dogs. As to getting in he managed that well enough, but it was another thing to get out! All the dogs were at him, and he was driven into a corner with hair on end, saying, 'What is the matter, friends? What have you against me? I came just to see what you were up to, and now I am going away.' By this time the huntsman had come and replied, 'No, friend Wolf, you cannot fool us; you are an old rascal with gray hair, I know, but so am I gray and no more stupid than you." And with that the old man took off his cap again and shook his gray locks.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The situation of the French grew desperate. General Jack Frost, as the Russians expressed it, smote them hip and thigh. Then came the awful passage of the Berezina, the still more frightful massacre at Vilno, and the flight across the Niemen. More than half of the "Grand Army" had perished in the wilds of Russia. Napoleon was not crushed by the disaster; he hastened back to France and levied four hundred and fifty thousand men with twelve hundred cannon. Paris, Lyons, Rome, Amsterdam, and Hamburg came to his aid. But once more the allies joined against him; his star was on the decline; neither the victories of Lutzen and Bautzen, nor of Dresden, could save him. The tide turned at Kulm; then came the "Battle of the Nations "at Leipzig, when the French, reduced to one hundred and sixty thousand men, for four days withstood three hundred thousand under the fiercest cannonade of the century. Napoleon, deserted by his German allies, crossed the Rhine. Alexander, not discouraged by the defeat of Blucher and the armies of Silesia and Bohemia, nor by the bloody battles of Craonne and Laon, cried, "No peace while Napoleon is on the throne." He ordered his army to march into France. Napoleon threw himself on the rear of the Russians, but he was lost. After the battle of Paris the allied sovereigns entered the capital. By Alexander's efforts Napoleon was reduced to the throne of Elba; Louis XVIII. once more dwelt in the palace of the Louvre.

Then came the congress of Vienna, the fourth partition of Poland, the sudden return of Napoleon, the new coalition against the "man of destiny," the battle of Waterloo, the second abdication. Alexander again led his army into Paris, where he won the hearts of the people by his protests against Prussian exactions. In Paris he met the mysterious adventuress, Madame de Krudener, who filled his mind with her visions of absolute justice and universal brotherhood. Here he wrote the first draught of the "Holy Alliance," by which all the sovereigns of Europe, except the Pope and the Sultan, should agree to live like brothers of one Christian family, and to protect religion and maintain peace.

After Napoleon's fall Alexander appeared as "the liberator of nations," the champion of freedom. Suddenly his ideas changed; he fell under the influence of Arakcheef, "the born enemy of all new ideas and all thoughts of reform, the apostle of absolute power and passive obedience." Henceforth the Emperor stood forth as the champion of the divine right of kings; the "Holy Alliance," founded for the brotherhood of man, became an alliance against the liberty of man. With all his might he opposed the new constitutions of Spain, Portugal, and Naples; he allowed the Greek war of independence to fail; the Mussulmans massacred three metropolitans, eight bishops, and thirty thousand Greeks at Constantinople; the Patriarch was hanged in his sacred robes at the very door of his church; all Russia burned to take part in a holy war of revenge, but Alexander turned his head away and refused to raise his hand. The people saw in the sorrows which darkened their Emperor's latter days, the scourge of God to avenge the desertion of their brethren in the East. A fearful flood devastated St. Petersburg, his new state of Poland was boiling with insurrection, secret societies honey-combed the Empire, his military colonies caused fierce riots; he was about to abdicate when he learned of the plot to assassinate him; "Ah! the ungrateful monsters," he cried, "I meant nothing but their good." Far away on the shores of the Azof Sea he died, suddenly, mysteriously.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


It is not hard to judge his character. He was Alexander the Weak; by his position "he ruled for a dozen years the fate of the Continent," but he in turn was ruled now by an "inspired prophetess," now by the incarnation of old narrow Russia. At first he sowed the seed boldly; when it sprang up he was unwilling for the harvest to ripen. He set the cup of knowledge to the lips of his nation, and when they had tasted and would drink more he dashed it away. But in spite of the later acts of tyranny, the growing rigor of the censorship, the stifling of all free thought, and the summary treatment of liberal professors, the reign of Alexander was memorable; it was indeed "an epoch of magnificent blossom." New universities sprang up, old ones were revived; newspapers were founded and encouraged the new school of poets and writers; literary societies began to flourish; the great cities were better cared for, and were adorned with statues and cathedrals. By conquest and convention he added to his vast empire Finland and Bessarabia; Persia, as far as the ancient Araxes; Bieolstok, and the Kingdom of Poland.

How St. George Fought with the Dragon

(The Revoluton of 1848)

The Emperor's death raised a strange contest of rivalry between his two brothers. Each hastened to take the oath of allegiance to the other and each refused to mount the throne. Constantine, the elder, was the legal heir, but in order to marry a Polish lady he had put away his wife and secretly promised Alexander to give up his right of succession in favor of Nicholas. It was not until he sent a final and formal renunciation of his birthright that Nicholas yielded.

The secret societies took advantage of the crisis. The "Society of the North" was composed of soldiers who had brought back from the West the new ideas, and of young men with generous and impulsive hearts, who keenly felt the yoke of slavery. Many of its members were in government employ and kept informed of all that took place in the palace. When it was known that the senators were going to swear to Nicholas the leaders vowed that he should never wear the crown. The fatal morning came. The conspirators spread among the soldiers the rumor that Constantine was a prisoner at Warsaw and that Nicholas was about to usurp the throne. The Moscow regiments rallied around the statue of Peter the Great, crying, "Long live the Emperor Constantine!" Some one shouted "Hurrah for the constitution!" and the ignorant mob joined in the cry, supposing that to be the name of Constantine's wife.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


When Nicholas learned that the Place of the Senate was full of armed conspirators, and that already blood had been shed, he went with some of the Finland Life-Guard to the great gate of the Winter Palace and calmly read to the crowd there assembled the announcement of his accession. It had great effect. The citizens began slowly to disperse.

Meanwhile many new companies of grenadiers and marines joined the rebels; the governor-general of the city who tried to bring them back to duty was shot down in cold blood; the Metropolitan who came out to them in robe and mitre narrowly escaped with his life. Nicholas gave them one more offer of mercy; then, just as the short winter's day was drawing to a close, he ordered the cannon to clear the square. In a few moments the rude barricades lay flat and the rebels were fleeing in every direction. Five hundred prisoners were taken. That night thirteen members of the Circle of the South "were also arrested, and a few days afterward "The United Slavs," who came to their rescue with several companies, were completely defeated as they were marching on Kief. The revolution was crushed. One hundred and twenty-one of the ringleaders, the elite  of all that was civilized and truly noble in Russia," were tried and found guilty; five suffered on the scaffold. "I knew before hand," said their poet-leader, Rileef, that this enterprise would be my ruin, but I could no longer bear to see my country under the yoke of despotism. The seed which I have sown will spring up ere long and bring forth fruit."

Nicholas knew well that in the night no seed could bear fruit. This modern Joshua, who called himself the guardian of the moral order established by God, wished to stay the rising of the sun, and for thirty years his arms were held up by the censorship and the Secret Police. For thirty years the "Crowned Sergeant," the "Jailor of Russia," set his iron will against the growth of liberty, the spread of knowledge, the progress of the race. The universities were the hotbeds of revolution: they must be cut down and replaced by military schools. Philosophy was the mother of radicalism: the professors must teach only the Scriptures. Europe was the home of liberal ideas: the doors of the Empire were closed to travellers. It was declared that every writer was a bear and ought to be kept in chains: the press was therefore gagged; few books could come from abroad, all originality was quenched. It was indeed "a regime of silence, isolation, and ignorance." Corruption was rampant; Nicholas declared that he was the only honest man in Russia. It was impossible to get justice; two million eight hundred and fifty thousand lawsuits were waiting trial; the fifteen thousand folio pages of the Code were made so much waste-paper by the first statement that the Emperor was above all law. It was wittily said that the only article in the Russian constitution was the whip. "Life was very painful at this time," says Turgenief; "the young people of to-day have to go through no such experience."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The first military exploit under the new Emperor was against Persia. The Shah declared war and sent his son to take Tiflis. Paskievitch, with only ten thousand men, defeated Abbas Mirza, who had forty-four thousand. He then crossed the Araxes, took Erivan by assault, entered Tauris, and began to march against the capital. The Shah, in alarm, ceded the province of Erivan as far as the Araxes and paid a tribute of twenty million rubles.

The Greek war of independence broke out. Nicholas united with England and France to bring about peace. The three allied squadrons destroyed the Turkish fleet in the harbor of Navarino. The French expelled the Turks from the Morea. The Russians, who had the grievances of the Greek Church to avenge, crossed the Danube and took Varna and Brailof. In Asia Paskievitch carried the ancient town of Kars. England and Austria became uneasy, but as Russia had the support of France Nicholas was free for further conquest. In the next campaign Paskievitch captured Erzerum, capital of Turkish Armenia. The Russians, under General Dibitch, crossed the Balkans and entered Adrianople. The Sultan was obliged to yield. Greece was declared independent; Russia took the islands of the Danube delta and several important districts in Asia and a tribute of twenty-four million dollars. Russian commerce was given free access to the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The enemy of liberty gave liberty to Greece; he was none the less shocked by the "July revolution" in Paris which caused the fall of Charles X., and by the Belgian and Italian revolutions which followed in quick succession. The young patriots of Poland were greatly excited by these momentous changes. The secret societies, the Templars and the Patriotic Club, resolved to act. Constantine in Warsaw was informed of the plot, but he affected to believe that it was merely an agitation among "lawyers without clients, physicians without patients, and young officers unwilling to hold lower positions."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Suddenly the explosion came. An admirable plan of attack was drawn up. One band of conspirators was to assemble in Lazienski Park and capture the Grand Duke. The eight thousand Russian soldiers scattered through Warsaw were to be surrounded and disarmed, the arsenal and bridges seized, the provinces raised. Owing to haste and misunderstanding none of the details were carried out. Had not Constantine been entirely confused by the outbreak he might have nipped it in the bud. On the contrary he escaped from the city and trusted to the faithfulness of his beloved Polish army. His trust was deceived. Without exception all the officers and men joined the insurgents. No efforts were made by the Poles to prevent the Grand Duke leaving the country. That was their first great error. Their second was lack of unity in plan. The younger men thought that their only hope of restoring the independence of Poland and recovering the lost provinces was in united action in a national war. As long as Constantine was alive the aristocratic party had no desire to follow the hot-headed young radicals into a war with Russia. They would have been satisfied with such reforms as the Grand Duke was ready to give them. They saw no safety for Poland except in a prompt reconciliation with Nicholas. A deputation was sent to confer with the Emperor, but he refused to have any dealings with rebellious subjects before they had laid down their arms unconditionally. He declared that if the nation arose against his authority it would be Polish cannon which would put an end to Poland.

In spite of all the efforts of the aristocratic party, in spite of Klopitski, who made himself dictator and used the weight of his popularity with the army to prevent an outbreak, the war party got the upper hand. At the January Diet the independence of Poland was proclaimed; the motion was carried to depose the house of Romanof and free the provinces from the Russian allegiance. The patriots were filled with enthusiasm by French promises and English sympathy. At last the conflict came. Count Dibitch, the hero of the Balkans, crossed the borders with one hundred and twenty thousand Russians and four hundred cannon. The Poles had at the most only ninety thousand men and about one hundred cannon, and were under command of the weak and inefficient General Radzivil. The whole country was open to the approach of the Russians.

At first, however, the advantage was with the Poles, but the tide turned. General Dibitch and the Grand Duke Constantine died of the cholera which was raging in both armies. Paskievitch succeeded Dibitch and began the siege of Warsaw. Again discord broke out among the insurgents; the Western Powers which had expressed the most sympathy kept aloof; Prussia lent its friendly aid to the Russians. Paskievitch was able to write to Nicholas: "Sire, Warsaw is at your feet. The submission is general and complete." Nicholas made a terrible example of the rebels; besides the punishment inflicted on the leaders of the revolt, five thousand Polish families were sent to the Caucasus. More than sixty-seven million dollars worth of property was confiscated; the constitution granted by Alexander was taken away; the public offices were all filled with Russians; the Polish army was absorbed into the Russian army; the Russian system of taxes, coinage, and law was introduced; the metric system of weights and measures was replaced by the Russian; finally the Polish language was forbidden to be taught in schools, and the University of Warsaw was suppressed.

Similar punishments were visited upon Lithuania. The following year, when Constantinople was threatened by the victorious Khedive of Egypt, Nicholas, whose policy was "to combat the enemies of public order wherever they were found," came to the aid of Turkey.: The Russian fleet entered the Bosphorus; twenty-four thousand men crossed the Pruth. England and France, however, brought about a reconciliation, and the Russian forces were withdrawn. Russia had its reward; a treaty was signed by which the Sultan and the Emperor were to give each other all needful aid to preserve peace and security. By a secret article the Sultan agreed to close the straits to ships hostile to Russia. Six years later Sultan Mahmud died, and again the Khedive revolted. For a second time Nicholas acted as protector of Turkey.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The revolution of 1848 gave Nicholas his last great chance to fulfil his "holy mission "and play his part of St. George slaying the dragon. He had already united with Prussia and Austria to suppress the free republic of Krakof, which was giving refuge to Polish fugitives. Now Europe was shaken to its very foundations. France was proclaimed a republic; the Austrian provinces of Italy threw off their allegiance; the Emperor Ferdinand fled from Vienna and abdicated in favor of his nephew, Francis Joseph. The spirit of liberty moved over the face of the continent; the Germans declared that "Germany exists wherever German is spoken;" the Slavs met at Prague and proposed to form a Slav republic. The Danubian principalities dethroned their rulers and prepared for the formation of Rumanian unity. Hungary arose at the call of Louis Kossuth, defeated the Austrians, took Buda, and declared itself free and independent. Poland and Russia felt the impulse from afar, and "quivered with excitement." Now arose St. George in his might! He kept King Frederick William IV. from accepting the imperial throne of Germany; his armies crossed over into Valakhia and Moldavia, and thus for the third time he protected Turkish integrity. With the most generous zeal and in the most liberal manner "he assisted Francis Joseph in Hungary, "where," as he said, "the Polish traitors of 1831, together with refugees and exiles from other nations, were usurping the power." Paskievitch, the conqueror of Poland, with one hundred and ninety thousand Russians, crushed the armies of the patriot Kossuth.

Thanks to the interference of Nicholas, the flag of Austria waved above the tricolor of liberty. Francis Joseph punished Hungary more cruelly than Nicholas had punished Poland. During all these years Russia was stealthily and steadily encroaching on Asia. The whole southern slope of the Caucasus was now Russian soil; forts and outposts defended the valleys on the northern side. On the far-off Amur Russia and China stood face to face. This silent advance was not wholly peaceful, however, nor free from disagreeable consequences. The brave mountaineers in their lofty citadels offered constant resistance. Shamyl, the soldier-priest of Circassia, for twenty-five years held the best Russian generals in check. The Kan of Khiva in his desert realm dared all the strength of the Empire, and still each year two hundred Russians were sold in the markets of his capital.

How "Don Quixote" Fought, but not with Windmills

(The Krim War)

For many centuries the eyes of pious pilgrims have turned lovingly toward Palestine. Ten years after the battle of Hastings the Turks took Jerusalem, and emperors, kings, and popes led their crusades in vain against the sacred walls. The infidel at last allowed the Christian to have a convent and chapel at Bethlehem and worship in the grotto where tradition says that Christ was born. After the second separation of the churches a great quarrel arose between the Greek and Latin monks for the right to possess and guard these holy places. The Porte favored now the Eastern, now the Western Church, but in the reign of Nicholas it was solemnly decreed that though the Greek monks should keep control of the holy places, yet the Roman monks might have a key to the great door of the church at Bethlehem, and place a silver star in the grotto. The Porte, however, failed to carry out the decree, and the petty quarrel still went on. From this trivial cause grew the Crimean War.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Napoleon III., the new Emperor of France, warmly took the part of the Latin monks, and threatened to appeal to arms. France was more than ready to fight Russia. The eighteen years of Louis Philippe's reign had been one long series of insults on the part of Nicholas; the French had not forgotten the retreat from Moscow, the presence of the Russians in Paris, the partition of Poland. Nicholas, the protector of the Eastern Christians, naturally took the part of the Greek monks, but he had more ambitious designs. After the proclamation of the Empire a coolness sprang up between France and England. Nicholas resolved to take advantage of it, and if possible induce England to support him in his grievances against the Porte. In a private talk with Sir George Seymour, the English envoy, he compared Turkey to a sick man, and insisted that England and Russia ought to come to an understanding as to the division of his estate, if he should suddenly die upon their hands. "We cannot bring the dead to life again," he said; "if the Turkish Empire falls, it falls to rise no more." Sir George wrote to his government for instructions, and Lord John Russell replied that Russia would do well to show great forbearance to the "sick man" and restore him to health rather than hasten the crisis by any rash action. The Emperor was indignant, and said to Sir George, "I tell you that if your government has been led to believe that Turkey retains any elements of life it must have received false information. I repeat it: the sick man is dying, and we can never allow such an event to take us by surprise." The Emperor then proposed a plan of partition by which he should take the Danubian principalities and allow England to take Egypt and Candia. He disclaimed any designs upon Constantinople, and at the same time declared that he would not allow any Christian Power to control the Bosphorus.

The events which preceded the Crimean war have been compared to a drama. The next act was the appointment of Prince Menshikof as envoy to the Porte. He was sent with all the state of a conquerer, and was commissioned to settle the vexed question of the holy places and other grievances of the Emperor. The time was fitly chosen; the envoys of France and England were away. Prince Menshikof studiously neglected the rigid Eastern etiquette; his brusque ways led to the fall of minister after minister. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe and Mr. de Lacour hurried back to Constantinople, and on their arrival the question of the holy places was straightway settled; but still Prince Menshikof lingered for the ostensible purpose of "regulating a few unimportant business details." He at last laid before Rifaat Pasha, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, a plan for a treaty by which Nicholas was to take the Greek Christians in the Ottoman Empire under his protection. This was to ask the Sultan to share his throne; the ultimatum was refused, and Prince Menshikof fulfilled his threat, broke off diplomatic dealings, and left Constantinople. Nicholas sustained his envoy's action, and announced that the Russian troops would immediately occupy the principalities, not for the purpose of making war "but in order to get security that the Porte would fulfil its obligations.

France and England saw danger in this threat; the French and English fleets cast anchor in Besika Bay at the entrance of the Dardanelles. Less than a month elapsed, and the Russian army, under Prince Gortchakof, crossed the Pruth.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The third act in the drama was occupied with the last efforts on the part of the European Powers to preserve peace. A conference met at Vienna. It seemed as though the delegates of the Five Powers were about to succeed, when suddenly events at Constantinople changed the face of things. The students of the Koran petitioned the Sublime Porte to declare war. "You are now listening to infidel ambassadors, the enemies of the Faith," they cried; "we are the children of the prophet. We have an army, and that army cries out with us for war to avenge the insults heaped upon us by the giaours."

The excitement grew more intense. The Great Council of the Empire met at the palace of the Sublime Porte and unanimously voted for war. The Sultan summoned Prince Gortchakof to leave the Turkish territory; the French and English fleets crossed the Dardanelles and cast anchor in the Bosphorus. Hostilities immediately broke out between the Turks and the Russians, both in Asia and on the banks of the Danube. Even now peace might have been brought about. The last hope, however, was taken away by the destruction of a small Ottoman squadron in the harbor of Sinope. It was perfectly justifiable, but it roused great excitement throughout Europe. "The blow struck at Sinope was not against Turkey alone," cried the French; and France united with England to control the Black Sea. Nicholas declared that this was to take from Russia the right to protect its own coasts.

Such acts and feelings led to rupture. France and England offered their assistance to Turkey and concluded an offensive and defensive alliance. Austria and Prussia, from whom Nicholas had reason to expect at least gratitude, agreed together to remain neutral until Russia attacked Austria or crossed the Balkans.

The allied armies met at Malta and together sailed for Constantinople. At Varna, where they went into camp, the cholera broke out.

An expedition against the Russians who occupied the region bounded by the Danube, the Sea, and the wall of Trajan failed utterly. It was decided to carry the war to the Crimea and there strike Russia a mortal blow. The Russians meanwhile had failed in their long and costly siege of Silistria and had returned to the left bank of the Danube. Austria occupied the principalities.

The story of the great Krim war has been often told. Three hundred and fifty transports and frigates landed the allied armies on the "holy ground" where St. Vladimir had been baptized eight centuries before. The almost impregnable heights of the Alma were taken; Sevastopol lay before them. "The Battle of the Alma was a thunderbolt to Russia." Although Sevastopol was well protected on the water side, on the land side it was wholly defenceless. When the allies failed to take advantage of their victory and march straight upon the city the Russians set to work to remedy the defects. Soldiers, sailors, men, women, and children labored at the earthworks. The stony soil soon began to bristle with redoubts. Admiral Kornilof sank seven of the best ships at the mouth of the harbor. Eighteen thousand marines were transferred to the land defence. The bastions of the Centre, of the Flagstaff, of the two Redans, and of the Malakof, all historic names, crowned the heights around the city. "Children," said Kornilof to the soldiers, "we are going to fight the enemy till the last extremity. Each one of us must die at his post. Kill the man who dares to speak of going back. If I order you to retreat, kill me." At the first bombardment, after the English had taken possession of Balaklava and the French were on the Fediukhin heights, the brave admiral was killed by a cannon-ball. His last words were: "May God bless Russia and the Emperor. Save Sevastopol and the fleet."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


A week later, the Russians attacked the English entrenchments at Balaklava and gained some slight advantage. It was then that the Earl of Cardigan led the Light Brigade on their famous charge to save the field pieces captured by the Russians. The action is well described in the graphic and stirring poem by Alfred Tennyson:—

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!" he said:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was there a man dismay'd?

No; tho' the soldier knew

Some one had blunder'd:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell!

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,

Flash'd as they turn'd in air,

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

All the world wonder'd:

Plunged in the battery-smoke,

Right thro' the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reel'd from the sabre-stroke

Shatter'd and sunder'd.

Then they rode back, but not,—

Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon behind them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell,

While horse and hero fell,

They that had fought so well

Came thro' the jaws of Death

Back from the mouth of Hell,

All that was left of them,

Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

All the world wonder'd.

Honor the charge they made!

Honor the Light Brigade,

Noble six hundred!

A few days later Prince Menshikof renewed the attack. For three hours the Russians tried to force "the Thermopylae of Inkermann," and they had nearly won the battle when a small band of French came to the aid of their allies. The Russians, thinking it was the whole French army, fell back a little in disorder and the day was lost. Eleven thousand lives were thrown away in this "badly planned, badly conducted" action.

The winter came on, and all the armies, especially the English, suffered terrible hardships from cold, storm, and disease. Still the "parallels" and mines drew near the walls, and the Russian engineers in turn, under the direction of Todleben, strengthened the fortifications of the town and built new redoubts.

One serious battle marked the winter. Omer Pasha landed twenty thousand Turks at Eupatoria, which had been greatly strengthened and fortified. Nicholas sent an imperative order to take the place by assault and drive the Turks into the sea. The attempt was made recklessly and failed disastrously.

This was a crushing blow to the Emperor. In Europe he was called the "Don Quixote of Autocracy," but in Russia his successes in the East and West, the part which he had seemed to play of "king of kings," blinded the people to real facts. The awakening came. The "invincible fleet" was sunk at Sevastopol; the army was vanquished; the ports of Russia on all its seas were blockaded or burned, Odessa, Kronstadt, Sveaborg, the Siberian ports, even the towns on the Amur. It was suddenly seen that owing to the silence of the press the government officials had practised all sorts of corruption undetected. "The greater men's hopes had been, the more they expected the conquest of Constantinople, the upheaval of the East, the extension of the Slav Empire, the deliverance of Jerusalem, the harder and more cruel was the awakening." Voices, pamphlets, broadsides, spread the tumult of popular judgment. Even the Emperor was not spared in the sudden outburst of injured pride.

"Arise, O Russia!" they said, "devoured by enemies, ruined by slavery, shamefully oppressed by stupid government officials and spies, awaken from thy long sleep of ignorance and apathy! We have been kept long enough in serfage by the successors of the Tartar kans. Arise and stand erect and calm before the throne of the despot; demand of him a reckoning for the national misfortunes."

Nicholas saw that he had been wrong. "My successor," he said, "can do as he pleases. As for me, I cannot change." He heard the sudden voice of the nation calling him to appear before the bar of history and truth. He could not bear to live. Less than a month after Eupatoria the word went forth: the Emperor is dead."

The End of the Krim War and the Beginning of Freedom

The burden of the new Emperor was indeed hard to bear. All Europe was arrayed against him. The money in his treasury was almost gone. The people were weary of war.

Alexander declared, however, that he was bound to accomplish the wishes and designs of his illustrious ancestors, "Peter the Great, Catherine, Alexander the Blest, and his father of imperishable memory." He was willing to renew the conflict, and go to destruction rather than yield a point of honor. A new conference of the Six Powers met at Vienna, but as no agreement could be brought about the Krim war went on.

Victor Emmanuel sent the allies an army of fifteen thousand Sardinians; General Pelissier assumed the chief command of the French, and announced that he was going to take Sevastopol. Sixty men-of-war cruised around in the Sea of Azof, where they ruined forts, arsenals, and granaries, bombarded many towns, destroyed hundreds of ships, and cut off the Russians from every base of supplies except Perekop. Sevastopol was doomed. There was not a building in the town left uninjured by the cannon-balls and bursting bombs. The garrison began to suffer from lack of provisions. General Pelissier carried the "White Works "on Mount Sapun and the redoubts on the Green Hill. The key of Sevastopol was the citadel of Malakof, which was protected by a palisade of sharpened stakes, a parapet of earthworks six meters in height, and three tiers of batteries separated from the parapet by a ditch seven meters deep and eight meters wide. On the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo the French attacked the Malakof, and the English hurled themselves upon the Great Redan. It was a bloody battle. The allied armies were driven back, and for the first time during the siege were compelled to ask for a truce to bury their dead.

In spite of this success Prince Gortchakof saw little hope of saving the city. He wrote to the war minister: "I have done my best, but the task has been too hard ever since I came to the Krim." Against his better judgment he gave orders to attack the allies on the Black River. He sent seventy thousand men to the Tavern bridge with the intention of capturing Mount Hasford, where nine thousand Sardinians were intrenched. General Read, however, without waiting for orders, crossed the river and tried to storm the Fediukin heights where the French were posted with eighteen field-pieces. The struggle for possession of the battery was terrible. Again and again the Russians rallied to the attack, gained the bridge, crossed the aqueduct, and dashed up the fire-swept slope. Again and again the French came down upon them "like an avalanche." The river and the canal were choked with the dead. The battle was lost.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Meanwhile the French engineers brought the "parallels," or trenches, to within twenty-five meters of the Malakof. The final struggle was near at hand. The French batteries mounted six hundred cannon, the English two hundred; the Russians could reply with thirteen hundred and eighty. The bombardment began on the 5th of September and lasted three days. At night the lurid scene was made more weird by the beacon-light of a burning frigate loaded with alcohol which took fire from a red-hot shell. At noon of the third day the guns suddenly ceased their "infernal noise," the bugles sounded, the drums beat, the French Zouaves leaped from their trenches, mounted the slope, crossed the ditch, which was now choked with debris, and the French flag floated from the parapet! At the same time the English again assaulted the Great Redan, took it by storm, were driven out, twice again came to the charge, twice were repulsed with terrible loss.

Prince Gortchakof saw that further defence was vain. The Malakof, in the hands of the French, threatened "the only anchorage left to the vessels, as well as the only way of retreat open to the Russians." As soon as night came on the Russians began to withdraw from the city; across the bridge of boats which they had thrown from one shore of the harbor to the other poured a steady stream of soldiers, while one after another the forts were blown up, and the remainder of the fleet was scuttled and sunk. When the last man had crossed the bridge was severed from the shore and the army was safe. Prince Gortchakof told his men that "he would not willingly abandon that country where St. Vladimir had received baptism." Alexander promised the nobles of Moscow to continue the war for the sake of glory. The official newspaper, the Bee, announced that the war was becoming serious, and that since Sevastopol was destroyed a stronger fortress would be built.

The campaign dragged along. In October a strong French and English fleet cruised through the Black Sea, and destroyed immense quantities of provisions and timber. Its chief exploit was the capture of Fort Kinburn at the junction of the Bug and the Dnieper. The Russians, on the other hand, were successful in Turkish Armenia and Georgia. They took Kars after a long siege, and this victory somewhat flattered their pride and consoled them for the loss of Sevastopol. Napoleon was anxious to act as angel of peace. At his proposal a congress met at Paris and peace was signed. Russia gave up its exclusive right to protect the Danubian provinces and interfere with their internal affairs. The Danube was made free to all the Powers: its delta was given to Turkey and the Rumanian principalities. The Black Sea was opened to merchantmen of all nations, but closed to ships-of-war. No military or marine arsenals should be erected on its coasts. The Sultan agreed to renew the privileges of his Christian subjects.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Thus ended the great Krim war. It had cost France eighty thousand men, England twenty-two thousand men and fifty million pounds sterling. But Russia suffered the most: two hundred and fifty thousand men had perished from the army; an irredeemable paper currency had driven out the precious metals; the banks paid only in paper; the credit of the government was at the lowest ebb. Such were the fruits of the narrow-minded ambition of Nicholas.

As soon as peace was fairly established Alexander turned his attention to the long-needed reforms: he allowed foreign ships to enter Russian ports, he repealed the law limiting the number of students in the universities to three hundred, he abolished the excessive fee for passports, he put an end to the disgraceful military schools. He thus became greatly popular. A witty Russian said that if Nicholas had forbidden his subjects to appear in the streets and if Alexander had only repealed this law he would have been considered by his people as one of the most liberal monarchs of the age.

Great hopes were raised. The seed sown in the early part of the century were seen to be still alive. Every one was eager to eat of the fruit. Russia was compared to a strong giant awaking from sleep, stretching his brawny arms, collecting his thoughts, and making ready to atone for his long idleness by feats of untold prowess. "It was altogether a joyful time," says a writer who shared in the excitement, "as when, after the long winter, the genial breath of spring floats over the cold, stony earth and nature awakes from her death-like sleep. Speech, long held down by the laws of police and censors, now began to flow like a mighty river that has just been freed from ice."

The Story of the Emancipation

The first great question to be settled was that of the serfs. They were divided into two great classes: peasants of the crown, and peasants belonging to private individuals. The crown peasants paid a rent to the state, took charge of their own affairs in the commune, and were almost free men. Alexander proclaimed their personal liberty, and abolished the restrictions on their right of coming and going, acquiring new lands, and disposing of their goods. Thus by a stroke of the pen more than twenty-four millions of free men were created.

The case of private serfs was vastly more difficult. It was easy enough to give them personal liberty, but the division of the soil between proprietor and peasant was where the difficulty lay. Serfdom historically was an institution peculiar to Moscow. The Grand Prince of Moscow called himself proprietor of the nobles, and demanded of them military service; the revenues of the soil were their only pay, and the revenues depended on the number of hands to cultivate it. Hence the peasants were "fixed to the soil" as slaves; the nobles were by law only life-tenants, but they had, in time, become the actual proprietors of the soil and the owners of the serfs. The peasants, however, had a proverb which expressed their original right to the soil: "We are yours, but the land is ours." Serfage was long known to be Russia's weak point. The peasants believed that Napoleon was coming to give them their liberty. Nicholas saw the need of action in the matter. "However hostile he may have been to the doctrine of liberty," says Prince Dalgoruki, one of his enemies, "we must do him the justice to say that he never ceased throughout his life to cherish the idea of freeing the serfs." His attempts at investigating the question were interrupted, and he had to leave the task to his son.

Only a few days after the treaty of Paris was signed Alexander invited "his faithful nobles" to help him change the existing manner of owning serfs. Some of the nobles hoped that if their serfs were freed they would be given a share in the government. They wished to limit the supreme authority of the Emperor by the establishment of a national parliament, as was the case in England. Forty-six committees, aggregating thirteen hundred and thirty-six proprietors, called together by the government, voted to abolish serfage and give no land to the serfs. The wiser councillors saw that this selfish policy would not work. The Emperor interfered. He appointed an "Imperial Commission," who prepared the famous act of 1861.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


The peasant, by this act, was enabled to borrow money of the state and buy of his master the ground whereon his cottage stood and the soil which his ancestors had cultivated. The amount of land which each male peasant might buy averaged about nine English acres, but in the fat "Black Land" they received less. The authority of the masters was replaced by that of the commune, or mir;  the communes were grouped into cantons, with a population varying from three hundred to two thousand male members; the head of the canton was responsible for peace and order.

The sacrifices which this great reform entailed on both lord and serf were by no means small; if the good results expected have not been realized it must be remembered that it takes time to bring a slave to the knowledge of the meaning of liberty. Other reforms were enacted; a new system of justice was introduced; corporal punishment was abolished; the censorship was made less rigorous.

Note: The Emperor is the absolute head of the Russian State, Army, and Church. He is aided by a Privy Council and four Grand Councils,—the Holy Synod, the Eleven Ministers, the Council of the Empire, and the Senate. The provinces of the Empire are administered by governors; local affairs are in charge of officers elected by each commune. The commune, as a whole, is responsible for the taxes. Commune lands are of three kinds,—meadow land, allotted among all the male members once a year; arable land, allotted in periods varying from one to fifteen years, and the village lots with house and garden, which are hereditary and not affected by reallotment. The mir  is supplemented by the Semstvo, or assembly of deputies, elected once in three years by landed proprietors, village communes, and city corporations. This assembly, with its bureau, elects justices of the peace, and acts as a board of highways, health, and education. The dignities of the Empire are divided into thirteen classes, called the Chin, or table of rank. Each member has personal or hereditary nobility. The Holy Synod has charge of church affairs, and elects bishops at the nomination of the Emperor. The priesthood consists of the white clergy, who are allowed to marry, the village priests, and the black clergy, or monks of St. Basil. Besides Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews, there are thought to be ten million dissenters (Raskolniki) in Russia.

How the Nihilists Killed the Tsar Deliverer

Most of the great hopes raised by the new order of things were doomed to disappointment. This was especially true in Poland, where dreams of a constitution and a restoration of the fatherland excited the patriotic everywhere. Certain acts of arbitrary authority brought a crisis. The Poles broke out in open revolt and formed a national government, but there was no army, and the cruel General Muravief with Russian troops soon put an end to the trouble. He declared that it was "useless to make prisoners." The captured leaders were shot or hanged; the Polish towns and villages were treated with inhuman brutality. Poland was reduced to a worse state than ever: the Russian language replaced the Polish not only in schools but in all public acts. The public offices were filled with Russians. The serfs were ordered to take possession of the lands which they cultivated, and the nobles who took part in the revolt were forced to give up their estates.

About the same time the students in some of the Russian universities, feeling that their rights had been trampled upon, came into collision with the authorities. The universities were closed for several months, and many students were arrested and treated with pitiless severity. It was now that the doctrine of Nihilism began to be discussed. "The Nihilist," said Bakunin, "is a man devoted and resigned to torture and death. He has neither personal interests nor business nor sentiments nor property. He is missionary and apostle. The religion for which he is ready to die is revolt. For him there is one science in life,—destruction. He scorns and hates the present system of morality. For him all that favors revolution is moral, all that hinders it is immoral. Between him and society is a death-struggle, ceaseless, irreconcilable."

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


While Russia was being eaten up by internal disease its outward growth in all respects was wonderful. In Asia, Shamyl, "the Prince of Believers," was captured, and the long Circassian revolt came to an end. In Asia Turkestan and the ancient lands which once fell before Timur now fell before the Russians. On the east Russia faced China; the English possessions of India were threatened on the south. The Kan of Khiva was besieged in his oasis and compelled to yield. After the Franco-Prussian war Alexander broke loose from the treaty of Paris and began to prepare for the future by restoring the fort and harbor of Sevastopol. About the same time the whole system of the army was changed. It was declared that the defence of the throne and the country was the duty of every Russian subject. On this principle the army was to be recruited each year by all young men who reached the age of twenty. The time of active service would vary from six months to six years, according to the education of the conscript. The standing army would number five hundred and sixty thousand men in time of peace, with a reserve of upwards of a million liable to be called out in time of war. The new system was immediately put to the severest test by events in the East. Some of the Christian subjects of the Porte, driven to desperation by cruel tax-collectors, raised the standard of revolt. The insurgent leaders declared that they could not live under the Turkish yoke. "We are human beings," they said, "and not cattle. We want real and absolute freedom. We will never fall alive into the bands of the Turks." Austria and Russia, fearing that the revolt if continued might lead to trouble in their own lands, tried to force the Porte to carry out the reforms it had promised. The Porte offered amnesty to the insurgents, but they had no faith in any Turkish promises, and the following spring the revolt assumed more serious proportions.

The Bulgarians took advantage of the Sultan's perplexity and threw off his yoke. The insurrection spread through the villages like wildfire. The beys of Philippopolis and Adrianople met the insurgents with irregular troops called Bashi Bazuks. These cruel soldiers burned and pillaged more than sixty villages, destroyed eighteen hundred and forty houses, forty churches, and forty-three schools. It was estimated that they massacred fifteen thousand Christians, many of whom were women and children. The Turkish government, instead of condemning these atrocities, gave rewards and decorations to the leaders. Great was the indignation throughout Europe, especially in England, whose merchants had already suffered from the repudiation of the interest on the Turkish bonds.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Stirring events at Constantinople followed each other with great rapidity; students of the Koran, crying, "Turkey for the Turks," broke into revolt, deposed the Grand Vizier, and put a reform party into power. The Sultan, Abdul Aziz, was dethroned and murdered. His weak successor reigned only three months and was in his turn deposed. His brother, Abdul Hamid, a man of liberal ideas and kindly-minded to the Christians, took the throne. In the mean time Prince Milan of Serbia also threw off the Turkish yoke, and supported by many Russian volunteers entered the contest with a bold heart. The Turks, however, defeated him at every point, and occupied Deligrad; Serbia lay at the feet of the Sultan unless help should come.

Alexander of Russia was the deliverer. He commanded his envoy to leave Constantinople unless a truce were granted the Serbians within two days. The Sultan yielded, and Serbia was saved. At the suggestion of England a conference of the powers was held at Constantinople; but the Porte refused to submit to any interference from abroad, and the plenipotentiaries, despairing of peace, left Turkey to its fate.

Alexander, assured that the Powers would remain neutral, now came to the rescue of the oppressed Christians. He joined the army of the south and gave orders to cross the Danube. By the 27th of June two hundred thousand Russians occupied all the Turkish defences on the southern bank of the river, and the Turkish fleet of iron-clads was so closely blockaded that from this time forth they did no service. Then came the passage of the Balkans by General Gurko, the outflanking of Shipka Pass, and the capture of Nikopolis. It was a brilliant beginning of the summer campaign. But here reverses came. Osman Pasha, with an army of forty thousand Turks, coming too late to the aid of Nikopolis, turned aside into Plevna, an important town which, as the meeting point of many roads, was the key of the Balkans. The occupation of Plevna by this strong force of Turks was accomplished entirely without the knowledge of the Russians. The Kazaks, who were called the eye and ear of the army," discovered no sign that such a movement was taking place.

[Illustration] from History of Russia by Nathan Dole


Osman Pasha threw up entrenchments and fortified himself in a masterly manner. For five months he resisted the most terrible assaults known in the history of war. The Russian advance was entirely checked; the Emperor was obliged to mobilize three hundred thousand men, and all this time to "direct the affairs of his empire from miserable huts in obscure villages of a foreign land." It was not until November that Plevna was invested. Osman Pasha tried to break through the lines, but was forced back and compelled to surrender. Winter was now at hand; nevertheless, the Grand Duke Nicholas resolved to make up for lost time and push forward the campaign. General Gurko again crossed the Balkans, hauling his guns over steeps slippery with ice and snow. The Turks were taken by surprise and deserted their defences. Gurko pressed on to Philippopolis, where he destroyed Suleiman Pasha's army of sixty thousand men. Meantime General Skobelef, in a brilliant action, captured thirty-six thousand Turks at Shipka and occupied Adrianople without a blow. The Turkish inhabitants of the whole region Red in panic before the victorious Russians. Thousands of helpless women and children perished of hunger, fatigue, and cold.

The Russian victories at Plevna and beyond the Balkans had been paralleled in Armenia. After many reverses caused by insufficient forces, reinforcements came. Mukhtar Pasha's army southeast of Kars was cut in two. Kars itself, situated in the midst of rocky hills and almost impregnable, was taken by storm, together with seventeen thousand prisoners and three hundred guns. Erzerum was invested.

The Porte was ready for peace. On the 29th of January the last shot was fired. On the 3rd of March the treaty of San Stefano was signed. Turkey seemed absolutely in Russia's hold. But the Great Powers, having let the war go on, now suddenly blocked Russia's plans and refused to allow the treaty of San Stefano to be carried out. A congress met at Berlin and restored Turkey to life again. All the gain that Russia made by the war was a part of Bessarabia and a small territory in Armenia, including Kars and Batum. The Russians were bitter in their complaints. It was said that "the Congress was a colossal absurdity, a blundering failure, an impudent outrage; that Russia had been mocked with a fool's cap and bells; that the honor of Russia had been trampled under foot and made a mockery."

The discontent which was felt in Russia began to express itself in revolutionary measures. Incendiary fires and assassinations became frequent throughout the land. Trouble again broke out in the universities. Anonymous pamphlets circulated everywhere; it was demanded that the people should be delivered from spies and secret police, that the press and speech should be free, that professors should be allowed to teach without vexatious restrictions, and that political prisoners should be pardoned. The Nihilist committees made proclamations to the army: "Depotism must fall sooner or later," they said, "but the crisis may not come for years, to the cost of many lives. It therefore depends on all honorable and thoughtful men in the army to hasten this result."

The excitement was increased by an order obliging every householder in St. Petersburg to keep a watchman at his door day and night to prevent the posting of seditious placards, and the spread of revolutionary pamphlets. The great cities of the Empire were declared in a state of siege. In one month seventeen thousand three hundred fires destroyed property valued at two million rubles. The life of the Emperor was attempted again and again. He was publicly declared to be the personification of a cursed despotism, of everything mean and bloodthirsty; his reign was denounced as a curse from beginning to end; the liberation of the serfs was called a delusion and a lie.

A slight relief was caused by the abolition of the hated "Third Section," or Secret Police, but still the Nihilists kept up their activity and threatened the Emperor with death unless he gave the country a constitution. At last their plots met with success. On the 13th of March, 1881, as the Emperor was on his way to the Winter Palace, he fell mortally wounded by an Orsini bomb thrown by a desperate man.

In the light of subsequent history it is quite possible that Alexander II., the emancipator of the serfs, and the victim of a political sect, "which does not represent the great voice of the nation, will be regarded by posterity as a martyr to the cause of the people."

The Reign of Alexander III
and the Accession of Nicholas II.

The tragic death of Alexander II at the hands of the Nihilists, instead of appeasing the ruthless appetite of the Terrorists, seemed rather to inspire the members of the Revolutionary party with greater zeal in their crusade against the despotism of the Government. Extraordinary precautions were taken by the authorities to protect the person of the uncrowned Emperor, who, in nervous terror of assassination, spent his time in practical imprisonment in the somber pine-embowered palace of Gatschina,—the Russian Escurial—or in isolation at Peterhoff.

On the 23rd of March, 1881, ten days after the murder of Alexander II., the Executive Committee of the Revolutionary party published an address, in which the attention of the Czar was forcibly directed to the condition of the Russian people, and a powerful appeal made for remedial legislation.

"Inspired by ideals of truth and humanity"—so ran, in part, this celebrated document—"the Russian Revolutionary party chose for its aims the elevation of the Russian workman and peasant to a higher plane of intelligence, and did not concern itself with politics. . . . It was rewarded by cruel persecution on behalf of the Russian Government. . . . Hundreds and thousands were martyred to death, in prison, in exile and in mines, and the powers of the bureaucracy were enlarged. Impoverishment, and demoralization at sight of wealth thus easily gotten, resulted in perverted views of life, and had a terribly depressing influence on the people . . . The interests of the people were sacrificed to the interests of the ruling classes, among whom, arrogance and cynicism prevailed. . . . Hunted and baited, and situated so they could not attempt to carry out their cherished reforms, they were finally drawn into open conflict with the Government. The Russian Social Revolutionary party, scorning the pitiful existence of slaves, has determined either to perish or to crush the prevailing despotism, and owing to the inhumanity of the Russian authorities, there was no other way open but that of sanguinary conflict."

"A general amnesty for all political offenders" was also asked for, and "a convocation of the representatives of the whole of the people, for the examination of the best forms of social and political life." Then followed the stipulations concerning the methods of election; a protest against all restrictions calculated to interfere with the political liberty of the subject, and an appeal for the following provisional regulations:

  • Complete freedom of the press.
  • Complete freedom of speech.
  • Complete freedom of public meeting.
  • Complete freedom of electoral addresses.

"These being the only means by which Russia could hope to enter upon the path of peaceful and regular development."

"The answer to this petition, presentation of facts, and bill of rights," says Stepniak—the well-known author and Nihilist—"was the exiling of thousands to Siberia, fresh executions, fresh rigors against the press, and opposition to every liberal tendency." The 'Third Section' of the dreaded Secret Police was again re-organized, by Chief Plome, but under another name, and after the dismissal of Melikoff, deportation to Siberia without trial was resumed.

It had been hoped by Melikoff, and those of his following who believed in the constitutional doctrine of a liberal monarchy, that his reformatory project of the creation of a representative assembly would meet with the approval of the Emperor, who, previous to his accession to the throne, had zealously advocated conservative reforms, and had even tolerated the presumptive possibility of the establishment of some form of constitutional government. To the astonishment of Melikoff, however, and notwithstanding that the suggested change had received the approval of the Cabinet, the Czar hastened to assert his fixed belief in the principles of autocracy. He issued a manifesto nullifying the purpose of the convocation of an elective commission, "in so far as it was intended to satisfy popular craving for representative institutions," and clearly demonstrated that he was "opposed to even the rudimentary beginnings of popular self-government."

Ignatieff, a versatile politician, who had earned for himself the soubriquet of the "father of lies," when engaged diplomatically in Turkey, was nominated to succeed Melikoff as Minister of the Interior. In his first official circular, while he scored the culpable negligence of government officials, and deplored the absence of moral and religious principles in the education of the children, he concluded by declaring that the chief energy of the Government would be directed to the eradication of sedition.

"But Terrorism was not to be put down by retaliation. The dynamic period called into existence by Nicholas was a law unto itself, and cynically warred," writes Noble, "against moral and social obligations." From a negation of these principles, it rapidly progressed to the negation of political dogmas, developed a policy of active hostility, until schools for the propaganda, under the guise of workshops, were founded in St. Petersburg, and offered to Prince Krapotkin, an active zealot, an opportunity to address the restless artisans.

Autocracy at the close of the nineteenth century, in a country in constant touch with the rest of Europe, and where the cultivated classes receive a thoroughly European education, is—according to Stepniak—so monstrous, that, "except those having a personal interest in it, no one can defend it. . . . If the Russian Government were not in such flagrant contradiction with society, a struggle between it and the Terrorist branch of the Socialists would be impossible, for society would not remain indifferent, but would act as one man against the disturbers of its peace, and crush them in an instant."

And so, in not unnatural sequence, the temperate propagandist was succeeded by the inexcusable Terrorist, in the ill-governed domains of the White Czar.

"Conceived by hatred, nurtured by patriotism and hope, Terrorism grew up in an electrical atmosphere, impregnated with the enthusiasm awaked by acts of nihilistic heroism." This reign of terror, if but a brief epoch, was, however, tragic enough, for the greatest sanguinary reprisals fell upon Russia between 1878 and 1882. During this period some twenty assassinations were recorded, accomplished through the aid of explosives, or by hand, and culminating in the death of the Emperor.

While extraordinary precautions were taken by the police for the protection of the Czar, he was himself an unwilling accomplice to his enforced retirement. Though fully alive to the gravity of his position, instead of displaying cowardice he was prone to rashness. Every conceivable measure for his safety was adopted by the Director General of Police, upon whom rested the entire responsibility of the Emperor's well-being. Whenever he appeared in public the police patrols were doubled, and an army of detectives in plain clothes, and a body-guard of armed gentle-men, his devoted personal followers, shadowed his footsteps. The slightest pretext constituted grounds for arrest, and three thousand suspects and others were apprehended before the end of October. At Moscow when threatened with death by posted proclamation, after attending mass at the Kremlin, whence he returned on foot, he addressed the crowd from the palace steps. "I have been warned," he said, "that this day would be my last. I have, therefore, done what any other man would have done under similar circumstances. I have been to church to ask forgiveness for my sins and protection from on high. While my body, like my soul, is in the hands of God, I fear nothing." He then thanked them for their loyalty and entered the palace amid the wildest cheering.

Alexander III., unlike most of his royal predecessors, was credited with possessing a deep natural piety in addition to a marked devotion for his family. "He had a mind, not speculative but solid and sure, practical and sound. The mind of a man capable of inspiring and reposing confidence; an honest man, who endeavored to see everything from the standpoint of justice," and then automatically tried to do right. Though "with the heart of a little child and sincere faith in the providence of God," he was a man of stubborn resolve. A resolution once taken was never altered unless he was misinformed, when "with his sense of justice and honesty—his pre-eminent characteristics—he would publicly own his mistake." Scrupulously exact in the performance of his religious duties, he was a regular attendant at mass. Strong either to love or hate, he was more leniently disposed towards the Nihilists than were his own police, and regarded the conspiracies of the university students with a generous compassion but an officer once convicted of treason passed out of and beyond the pale of his forgiveness. Every inch an athlete and physically a Hercules, he had not imbibed the passionate love of his father for military display, and was apt to be lax in the maintenance of court etiquette. His self-expressed ambition was "not to be a great sovereign, but rather the sovereign of a great people," and he had a righteous horror of war; not for peace at any price, but for peace almost at any price, compatible with national honor, and the interests of Russia. In the light of these recorded characteristics, and viewing the policy of his rule from the vantage ground of accepted history, his actions as Emperor seem scarcely to have been in strict harmony with his declarations.

That the Emperor was not all-seeing, or omnipotent, that the administration was corrupt, that the municipal organization was vitiated by bribery at its electoral sources, and at the best incapable, were all undeniable truths and universally admitted. The special governmental evil in Russia, to quote front a high authority, consisted in "a vain attempt to reconcile representative institutions with irresistible absolutism, without at the same time fixing the limits between the sovereign power and the popular rights." Added to this hopeless condition of political disorder the three national vices of thriftlessness, indolence, and inebriety, also exercised their evil and united influence. The close of the first twelve months of the new Emperor's reign was marked by a rampant stale of militarism in every branch of the civil service, and with a horizon ominously clouded with rumors of regicidal plots.

Early in 1882, Prince Gortchakof, after directing the foreign policy of Russia for over thirty years, and regarded next to Bismarck as the most influential statesman of Europe, retired from office at the age of eighty-four. He was succeeded by M. de Giers, a noted diplomat, the husband of his niece the Princess Kantakuzene. Owing to the wanton persecution of the Jews—connived at under Ignatieff's administration—a hegira set in—15,000 migrating to the United States. Committees for the relief of the refugees were organized in Europe and America, and special instructions were issued by President Arthur to the United States Minister at St. Petersburg, to protect the rights of all Jewish-Americans in Russia. Meanwhile, Ignatieff, who had resorted to questionable tactics to reconcile his actions with his sympathies, which were not in harmony with Alexander's manifesto, was dismissed from office, to make room for Count Tolstoy, and two days later a ukase was issued announcing the progressive abolition of the poll-tax, as a remedy for the now great and rapidly increasing agrarian complications.

The activity of the Nihilists was still unabated. A mine was unearthed under the Cathedral at Moscow, anticipatory of the coronation ceremonials. Even the garrisons of the prisons of St. Peter and St. Paul were found to be infected with Nihilism, and convicts, officially supposed to be in Siberia, were discovered in the enjoyment of comparative freedom under Revolutionary jailers.

After a long postponement, due, it was stated, to the Emperor's desire to allow the feeling of horror over his father's tragic end to become appeased, the Czar and Czarina left St. Petersburg for Moscow, where, after three days of fasting and prayer in retirement at the palace of Neskotchenaya, the ceremony of coronation was performed on Sunday, May 27th, in the Church of the Assumption. The official entry into Moscow was a gorgeous pageant, the "White Czar" being mounted on a white charger and clothed in a sheepskin caftan, a Muskovite garb which he has since revived as a military garment.

On the day following the fete, meat-pies, confections, and use were served out to over 400,000 of the million persons estimated to be present, but gesticulatory manifestations were not tolerated, the loyal mujiks even, being forbidden to toss their caps for fear they might conceal infernal machines. On the return to St. Petersburg, no demonstrations whatever were permitted, the royal couple arrived secretly, and were hurried with little outward ceremony into the penitential seclusion of the Peterhoff palace.

The militant Muscovites who constituted the war-party, which stood nearest to Alexander, now showed signs of aggressive activity, the pacific mission of M. de Giers to the European courts alone allaying the distrust of the foreign governments. In an imperial message addressed to this plenipotentiary, the Emperor wrote:—

"The great glory and power which, thanks to Providence, have been acquired by Russia, the extent of her Empire, and her numerous population, leave no room for any idea whatever of further conquests. His solicitude is exclusively devoted to the peaceable development of the country and its prosperity, to the preservation of its friendly relations with foreign powers on the basis of existing treaties, and the maintenance of the dignity of the Empire."

The Panslavists still agitated in the Balkan, and though the friendly visits of many European sovereigns "proved a counter-check to a war-like policy," the spirit of territorial aggrandizement, despite the disclaimer of "further conquests," was not yet extinguished, for the recognition of Russian sovereignty over the Kilia branch of the Danube, was gained at the London conference, through English support. While General Ignatieff was fond of insisting that Russia did not want to see another yard of land added to the Empire, but that what she desired most was to "develop her resources and let time do the rest,"—his presentation of the case was neither in keeping with tradition, history, nor current fact. For a better understanding of Russia's inflexible policy of occupation, a reference to her masterful acquisition of outside territory will be necessary. "From the moment that Tartar rule was over-thrown," says Boniton, "then commenced Russian expansion."

Ivan the Great and Ivan the Terrible annexed Kazan and Astrachan. Fedor acquired all of Siberia, south of the 50th degree of latitude to the Arctic circle. Michael Romanoff added the Ural district, and a vast slice of Northwestern Asia, from the Yenissei River to Behring's Strait and the Sea of Okhotsk. Alexis annexed Little Russia and the Cossacks of the Ukraine. Peter the Great conquered the Baltic provinces, and the peninsula of Khamschatka. Empress Anna stole from the Turks the district between the Dneiper and the Bug, and absorbed the Kirghiz Tartars on the Caspian. Elizabeth appropriated a strip of Finland. Catherine II. deprived Turkey of the Crimea and the shores of the Sea of Azof, a part of Poland, and a belt of the Baltic lands from Liban to the Black Sea. Paul I. coveted "his neighbor's vineyard" in the Province of Georgia—and took it. Alexander I. relieved Sweden of the custody of what remained of Finland, another slice of Poland, and appropriated Bessarabia in spite of Turkey's protest. In Asia he occupied the entire country extending from the Sea of Aral to Lake Balkhash. Nicholas cast an evil eye on Persia and promptly acquired two whole provinces in Trans-Caucasia. After his defeat, however, in the Crimea, he unwillingly ceded Bessarabia to Roumania. Alexander II., subsequently, under the Treaty of Berlin, re-acquired it by purchase, obtaining at the same time from Turkey, Kars, Batoum, a nearly limitless stretch of Black Sea littoral, and all of the Eastern coast of the Caspian. In Asia he absorbed Khokand, and extended Russian dominion to Khiva and Bokhara. He also annexed the region of the Amur on the Pacific; which included the whole coast line up to the Korean frontier, and a long line of coast on the Sea of Japan; but after the Crimean war he forfeited Russia's right to maintain a fleet upon the waters of the Black Sea.

While amnesty was extended to many prisoners after the coronation, Alexander excluded all Nihilists from the benefits of participation, and their acts continued to he regarded by a vast number of the middle and upper classes with malicious satisfaction. But the press was shackled as never before, information regarding any important event being wholly suppressed. In response to the demand of the mercantile class, whose interests were menaced by the imposition of a three percent income tax, the depreciation of the paper rouble and a commercial crisis, a new department, that of commerce and manufactures was established, with Ignatieff in control.

Though the fair held at Nijni-Novgorod was a failure as regards attendance, the great Industrial Exhibition at Moscow had demonstrated that while the United States and India would rob Russia of her importance as the granary of Europe, the industries of Central Russia were shown to be susceptible of unlimited expansion. Russian roads, however, are deplorably bad, and though the magnificent river system, with its extensive canals, offers extraordinary transportation facilities through tributary districts, vast tracts of arable lands lie fallow, awaiting the advent of the railway.

Seventy-six percent of the whole of the population of Russia is engaged in agricultural pursuits. The Cossack Dons on the Volga cultivate, in some individual instances, thirty thousand acres of wheat, own stud-farms comprising five hundred horses, besides herds numbering a million head of sheep. The taxes paid into the treasury by the Russian peasantry, have amounted annually to nearly one hundred and twenty million roubles, one third of which is applied to the repayment of the debt on the land, which was charged against the serfs at the time of their emancipation. This tax was substantially diminished by ukase of Alexander on his accession to the throne. On the rich "black lands" of Southern Russia, English farm machinery is now utilized, "where it is no unusual thing," says Morfill, "to see one proprietor with as much as fourteen thousand acres under crop with white Turkish wheat." Out of the one hundred and twenty-four million of Russia's population to-day not twenty millions live in the towns. "It is not among the palaces of St. Petersburg," writes Stead, "nor amid the glories of the Kremlin that you find the real Russian, but in the villages." Of these villages there are more than half a million, and from these, which "nestle like so many flocks of little brown sheep" on the immeasurable pasture lands of the Czar, a constant but unanswered prayer ascends to the imperial head shepherd at remote Gatschina, for better railway facilities and some more practical display of the milk of human kindness.

In 1883, a relaxation of existing decrees against the dissenters from the Orthodox creed, of whom there were over twelve millions, was shrewdly encouraged by the Emperor, but the Mennonites, whose religious tenets would not allow them to bear arms, were expelled from the country and sought refuge in the United States and Canada. The Poles were conciliated by the establishment of a modus vivendi  with the Vatican, and the Archbishop of Warsaw, and other offending prelates, were pardoned upon the guarantee of clerical loyalty, and the teaching of Russian in the schools. The Russification of the Baltic provinces, however, presented greater difficulties, and the agitation in Livonia and Estonia developed into a battle of languages. The Slavic idioms versus the Muscovite dialect.

Educational revolts occurred among the students at Nova Alexandria on the Polish border, one hundred and forty-three of whom were expelled, the disaffection extending to the colleges at Kazan and St. Petersburg. Youths under sixteen were prohibited from reading any work without permission of their teachers, and the curriculum was restricted to the sterile fields of grammar. "The history and literature of Greece and Rome were tabooed, and petitions for schools of technology rejected." The rectors of universities were clothed with autocratic authority, extreme discipline was enforced, and an outbreak resulted at Kiev in September. Such obstacles to the cause of education were clearly inopportune. Existing educational facilities were, at the best, gravely inadequate. Instead of there being "a little red schoolhouse" in every one of the half million villages, there were but thirty thousand in all Russia, and only two million, four hundred and forty thousand scholars, and of the sixty million women and girls, only three hundred thousand were attending the elementary classes. Though every year over four million children were being born in Russia, the problem of the education of the masses gave the imperial government but little concern.

The censorship of the press was continued with unexampled vigor in 1884, until independent opinion ceased to be represented, and the Liberal Party was without an organ. Whether the opinions expressed conflicted with the imperial views mattered little, but if they clashed with those of the Executive, the paper was doomed. The power of the minister was absolute, and anyone appealing to the Emperor would be marked for future and inevitable discipline. The muzzle worked like a charm. Literary men were arrested and fined, the printing presses of the Empire were practically silent, and under the instructions of the Minister of the Interior, the works of such men as Lyell, Huxley, Lubbock, Mill, and Herbert Spencer were interdicted. Anti-semitic outrages, resulting in bloodshed, occurred in Southern Russia, necessitating is commission of enquiry. The Holy League which had been organized to combat the spread of Nihilism proved valueless, though sixteen Revolutionists were convicted of criminal offenses, and six sentenced to death. Among these were members of the nobility, and officials of high rank, including seventy-five army officers, and arrests and trials were made in all parts of the Empire and without publicity.

In December alone, one batch of fifty prisoners was condemned to the fortress of Schasselburg. "All offenses against absolutism," writes Noble, "were now met by most disproportionate punishments." For the thirty years ending 1885, thirteen hundred and fifty-six persons had been punished for political crimes. Of these, forty-five were executed; five in the reign of Nicholas, thirty-one under the reign of Alexander II., and nine since the accession of Alexander III., while fifty met their death by violence either in prison or while enduring exile. Up to this time, and during the past twenty-five years, over two hundred prisoners had succeeded in escaping from banishment or prison, and had found shelter in Western Europe.

Count Dmitry Tolstoy, the Minister of the Interior, once suggested to the Czar that he should be authorized to open his correspondence in order to economize time. "You forget that I am Emperor," said his majesty, his face growing dark, "how dare you propose to stand between me and my subjects." As over one hundred of such petitions and appeals arrived at the Czar's chamber daily, the probability that all would have received the consideration they were entitled to—notwithstanding the Emperor's reputation for justice—seems in the nature of things a practical impossibility. Personal audience of the Czar was not permitted by the police. "Nihilist plots," says Stead, "rendered it impossible for the Emperor to stand at the door of the Anitchkoff Palace to receive petitions, but the post office was open and any mail would bear the petition to the Czar's council chamber." Of the hundred of appeals, however, addressed to the Monarch in loyal good faith, but which never reached their destination, history offers no record.

In September the Czar paid a long contemplated visit to the city of Warsaw, where he met in conference the Emperors of Germany and Austria, which resulted in a solemn confirmation of friendly relations, the establishment of steps for the suppression of nihilistic propaganda, and an invocation to the neutral powers to curtail the right of asylum. His entry into the capital of the "fair land of Poland," was the most gloomy festivity ever recorded. The royal line of march was guarded by rows of naked bayonets, and the police were in possession of the flanking houses.

The imperial decree, which had declared that Russia's territorial vastness made further conquest undesirable, was now proved to have been but a flimsy fiction. Under the pretext of the development of Central Asia, Count Ignatieff elaborated a plan for the reorganization of Turkistan. Through the representations—or perhaps, strictly speaking, instructions—of the Khan of Khiva, who was present at and duly impressed with the coronation ceremonials, and backed by Russian troops, the Oasis of Merv, the famous stronghold of the Turcomans, on the Afghan frontier, surrendered with its garrison of Merv Tekkes to the dominion of the White Czar. "This gave to Russia the undisputed trade of the whole country as far as Tejend, offered security of the projected route to the Oxus, made commercial access to Persia and Afghanistan feasible, and removed a hitherto conceded barrier against a possible advance on India." At Askabad—which though three hundred and eighty miles from Herat was one hundred and thirty-four miles nearer than Quetta, the terminal point of the English strategic railroad—the Sarik Turcomans also announced allegiance to the Russian scepter.

Meanwhile the British viewed the advance of Russia in the East with suspicion, and determined that the old boundary lines of Afghanistan, as designated on the maps, must be kept intact. An international commission was agreed to, and while Sir Peter Lumsden, the English representative who had hastened to the scene, was awaiting the arrival of the Czar's tardy commissioner, the occupation of Penjdeh on the Murgab, by the Ameer of Cabal, with a military force, and at the instigation of the English, precipitated a crisis. But Penjdeh was, in reality, a Turcoman town, and being of immense strategic value to England, as it commanded the approach to Herat—the key to India—the Russian government interfered, and as a preliminary advanced the outposts of its army of thirty-five thousand men to Pul-i-Khista, within what was colored on the maps as Afghan territory. England then addressed an ultimatum, insisting upon an immediate withdrawal of the Russian troops. This Russia refused to accede to, demanding on her part the evacuation of Penjdeh—and both countries prepared for war.

Owing to the joint opposition of Russia and Germany, at the Constantinople Conference, to the union of the two Bulgarias, the popular revolution in Roumelia led to the interdiction of "freedom of expression." Prince Cantacuzene, the Russian Minister of War at Sophia was instructed to resign, and Prince Alexander's name was, by order of the Czar, struck from the Russian Army list. At the monster trial of Nihilists held at Warsaw, several army officers, landowners, lawyers, journalists and workmen were charged with belonging to a society called the Proletariat. The proceedings were conducted with the utmost secrecy, six were condemned to be hanged, and twenty-two sentenced to long terms of penal servitude. An encounter between Russian troops under Komaroff and those of the Ameer of Afghanistan, who, countenanced by the British, were occupying Penjdeh, and which terminated in the defeat of the latter, for a time, seriously imperiled the peaceful relations existing between the two governments.

Arbitration was suggested by Earl Granville as a step that would permit no loss of national dignity to either government. The impracticability of the submitting of the case to the Emperor Wilhelm, owing to the moral support of Russia's position by the Austro-German Alliance, having become apparent, the King of Denmark was mutually agreed upon as a referee, but as time advanced, arbitration was postponed, and the joint commission resumed its labors, though a period of extreme tension followed, succeeded by the mobilization of troops.

The belligerent attitude of Russia in Afghanistan drove the Afghans into an alliance with England and strengthened the position of the British in Central Asia, and while the Russian trans-Caspian railway was about entering Astrakabad in October, the English strategic railway was rapidly pushing its iron parallels towards Quetta, and British troops were occupying the fortifications of Herat. When the international commission was at last recalled in the summer of 1886, owing to the renewed disputations, it was found that out of the nine thousand square miles that were originally in dispute, the two thousand conceded to the Ameer comprised the most valuable portion of the territory.

During the crisis in Bulgaria, when Europe was scandalized at Russia's support of the abductors of Prime Alexander, it was reported from Vienna that the Czar, who was personally directing the foreign policy of the Empire was showing signs of hereditary insanity.

The prohibitive iron duty which went into force in 1887, the suppression of the iron-mills in Poland, the expulsion of German citizens, the expropriation of foreign landowners, and other measures, so exasperated the German bankers that they refused to finance a new Russian loan, and Russian credit received a profound shock. Money was urgently needed to meet the extraordinary appropriations sanctioned for military purposes. The plans for the building of the costly line of railway from St. Petersburg through the whole length of Siberia to Vladivostok on the Pacific, had also received government approval, and money had to be raised at any cost. Paris refused to come to the rescue, and St. Petersburg itself had finally, to issue a four percent loan of one hundred million roubles at a selling price of eighty-four percent. Active revolution rioted through the land. Conspiracies existed to an alarming extent among both the cadets at the Naval School at St. Petersburg, and the students of the military academies. The "Constitutional" Society was formed, its motto being "The people, with the Czar or against the Czar." In spite of the unusual precautions taken by Gen. Dresser—the "White Terror"—on the anniversary of the assassination of Alexander II., an accidental incident alone prevented a repetition of the act of March 13th, 1871. Three hundred students were arrested. Many persons are supposed to have been summarily tried and executed.

On April 6th another attempt was made on the life of the Czar, and during the month, four hundred and eighty-two officers of the army were banished to Siberia. No one was permitted to utter an opinion contrary to the administrative system. "Nihilism" as Curtis says, "is an hysterical remonstrance against this condition of affairs. It is the protest of enlightened reason, against the despotic tyranny of the police. It is a refusal to submit." May and November witnessed more inquisitory trials, more executions and more deportations to Siberia, the nation's charnel-house, which awaits the development of its "potentialities of wealth."

For many years railway construction had retrograded in Russia. On an average but three hundred miles had been built annually since 1880. In 1885; the railroads, exclusive of those in Finland, comprised a total length of fifteen thousand, nine hundred and thirty-four miles only. Upon the completion of the Trans-Caspian road to Santarcand, the construction of which, under General Annekoff had taken but three years, another thousand miles was added to the system. The new road was opened with public ceremonies on May 27th, the anniversary of the Czar's coronation, and opportunity was now offered the ambitious traveller to reach the tomb of Tamarlane, in the heart of Southern Tartary, nine days after leaving St. Petersburg. Across a territory which, until lately, had been recognized as the terror and despair of civilized man, it was now possible to travel with regularity and in safety, and the torrid east at last commenced to pour its plethora of cotton, wool, silks and fruits, into the acquisitive lap of the Russian manufacturer. At the crossing of the Amou-Daria river, which, with its tributaries, like the Volga, waters both the land of the reindeer and the camel, powerful light-draft steamers ply south, Afghanistan-wards from Tchardjni to Kilif, while northward they follow the same stream to the sea of Aral. In 1888 only six hundred miles of a gap separated the termini in Central Asia of the two railway systems, which, starting respectively at Calais and Calcutta, were hastening, not without some political spasms of international misgivings, to unite their colonizing forces.

Notwithstanding the stringency of the passport regulations, the yearly average arrival of foreigners in Russia was placed at eight hundred thousand, the departures at seven hundred and fifty thousand. At the present time—1895—the natural increase to the population is developing at the rate of nearly one million five hundred thousand annually.

The nine hundredth anniversary of the adoption of Christianity under Vladimir the Great, was celebrated during the year, the principal festivities being held at Kiev "the mother of Russian cities," and the first seat of the Russian Church. While Kiev (or Kieff) is generally recognized as the parent capital, it, strictly speaking, is only second on the chronological list, having been founded by Oleg the Conqueror, in 882. Twenty years prior to this, Rurik the Barbarian, the creator of the Russian Empire, had established, according to Karamsin, the seat of his primitive government at Novgorod, upon the very coast where, eight hundred and forty years later, the genius of civilization, following Ruriks example, established the fifth capital at St. Petersburg.

Though the Afghans, at the instigation of the English political agent, had thwarted, by every means in their power, the migration of Turcomans and others into Russian territory, Col. Alikhanoff succeeded in gathering nearly all of them under the protecting shelter of the eagles of the White Czar.

The turbulent spirit displayed by the students, during the demonstrations by which they hoped to compel the government to rescind the obnoxious regulations imposed in 1887, finally developed into riot. The universities of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kasan, Kharkov, and Odessa were temporarily closed, and several hundred students were sent to Siberia, or to prison. Great political friction existed at this time, owing to the conservative policy that was pursued by Count Tolstoy, representing the Nationalist and Panslavist parties. The control so exercised, "influencing even the Czar at times, to act at variance with the declared policy of his government."

Early in 1888 an effort was made by Count Tolstoy to change the basis of representation, as vested in the Semstvos by the law of 1864. In these rural assemblies—the nearest approach to an elective body permitted in Russia—the land owners, manufacturers, merchants and rural communes had been proportionately represented. The Minister of the Interior now proposed to change this basis of representation, by having "each eight thousand acres of land held by the nobility, each four hundred and fifty thousand roubles of commercial capital, and each four thousand adult male peasants, represented by one delegate in the council," thus giving the nobles an unfair preponderance, besides investing the district governor with absolute power of veto. The opposition to the plan was so great that its consideration was postponed. As evidence, however, of the influence of Panslavism upon the Czar, was the appointment of Gen. Bogdanovich to the position of chief of staff in Tolstoy's department, though but a year before he had been dismissed from the army in disgrace by the Emperor, for his secret participation with Gen. Boulanger in the effort to effect an alliance between Russia and France.

In 1889, the Russification of the Baltic Provinces became complete. By imperial ukase in February the official dominance of Russian law and language was made imperative, and the total abolition of the old German courts and system of judicature followed. In July, Count Tolstoy's reform measure, shearing from the peasants what little shred of local self-government had previously been allowed them, though rejected by a majority of the Council of State, was ratified by the Czar. The people were now deprived of electing even the minor judiciary, and a "district chief administrator, directly responsible to the Minister of the Interior was made the repository of the administrative power." By another imperial ukase, trial by "a specially constituted court" was substituted for trial by jury, and greater centralization and further enlargement of despotic rule ensued. In excuse for the curtailment of the people's power in the Semstvos, it was announced that the peasants besides being altogether too apathetic were not sufficiently educated to understand its value as a link between themselves and the central authority as personified in the Czar.

In 1890, the edicts against the Jews, which had become almost a dead letter, were more vigorously enforced, their revival depriving about two million persons of the means of subsistence, and inhuman persecution of the sect was openly permitted. A protest against starvation, made by some of the suffering exiles in Siberia, aroused the anger of the Governor at Ostashine. Cossack soldiers broke into the house of the exile Notkine and fired upon the inmates, killing six and wounding nine, The persons responsible for the butchery and atrocities went unpunished. The indignities inflicted upon the female prisoners at Kara, was resented by Madame Soluzeff-Kovalsky, who died under the punishment meted out to her—one hundred strokes of the lash. Three of her companions poisoned themselves, and thirty of the male prisoners attempted to take their own lives.

The activity of Nihilism now knew no bounds. The refugees expelled from Switzerland made Paris their headquarters, Gen. Seliverstoff, chief of the Third Section, was murdered in like manner as Gen. Mezentzoff, his predecessor. Olga Ivanovsky, the niece of a Privy Councilor, was arrested in her uncle's house: dynamite bombs and nihilistic correspondence were found in her apartments. Mme. Tshebrikova, a lady widely known for her work in the cause of education, counseled the Czar to remember that Terrorism was not the fruit of the reforms of Alexander II., but "the result of their cancellation, their tardiness, or insufficiency." Offenses that would have been punished in Austria with two weeks imprisonment, entailed in contiguous Russia twelve years of banishment. Siberia with its deadly climate continued to absorb its victims.

On May 24th, 1891, the first rail of the government Trans-Siberian railroad was laid by the Czar. The total length of the road was estimated at five thousand six hundred and thirteen miles and its cost at about one hundred and eighty million dollars. The undeveloped resources of Siberia are inconceivable. It teems with raw material. It has been aptly termed Russia's inland Australia. Its natural wheat lands rival those within the fertile belt of Northern America. Its mountains of auriferous quartz are only awaiting the advent of modern machinery to yield the secret of their exhaustless possibilities. Two mighty rivers, the Ob and the Yenissei, drain its fruitful and measureless plateaus. Up the latter of these, Captain Wiggins, an English explorer, having passed through the Iron Gates of Nova Zembla, hitherto believed to have been unnavigable, took his yacht, Diana, in 1874, and subsequently, in 1886, his steamship Phoenix, two thousand miles to Vennisseisk, where he established a profitable trade.

Baron Hirsch, the philanthropic capitalist of Vienna, touched with the scandalous persecution of the Jews in Moscow, and indeed in all portions of Russia, offered to give fifteen million dollars to aid the exiles in seeking new homes. In pursuance of this laudable undertaking, he purchased seven million acres of the best farming lands in Argentina, whereon he intended to settle five thousand families of expatriated Russian Hebrews. The unrelenting harassment of these unfortunate people was in keeping with the established policy of the Old Russian party, whose purpose was to crush out all foreigners, or dissenters from the orthodox faith. Poles, Germans, Jews, Lutherans, Stundists, Baptists, had to be reduced to serfdom with forfeiture of property or suffer banishment. With the ready acquiescence of the Czar, this was not a very difficult matter for accomplishment.

In the summer of 1891, the wheat and rye crops having harvested but seventy percent of the average yield, a famine seized upon a scattered area tributary to the Volga, covering a territory of thirty thousand square miles, with a population of twenty-five million souls, and whole villages perished before food could be shipped and distributed. While private individuals and foreign governments came nobly to the relief of the sufferers with cash and kind, the liberality of the contributions from the United States evoked special acknowledgment. Besides gifts of money, four ships were dispatched laden with flour, bread stuffs and clothing, valued at over one million roubles, equivalent to the support of seven hundred thousand persons for a month. About this time, an encounter between a Russian expeditionary force and one thousand Afghan soldiers, over a disputed fight of way in the passes of the Pamirs, created a diversion from domestic woes, and aroused a good deal of excitement in India as well as in England. When it became known, however, that Russia was merely expelling intruders from her own territory, European political equanimity was restored.

Few incidents of an alarming character now disturbed the surface peace of Alexander's days. The drastic measures resorted to in the treatment of the Terrorists seemed, for a time at least, to have hypnotized them into a state of acquiescence, and the only conflict that Russia had upon its hands was a tariff war with Germany, and a misunderstanding with Great Britain on account of the poaching by Canadian sealers within the thirty mile marine limit in Behring's Sea. A commercial treaty, however, concluded in Berlin, in which Germany made the necessary concession, and an arrangement with the British Government, by which sealing was to be provisionally regulated, offered a peaceful solution of both these difficulties. This, together with a modus vivendi  agreed on between the United States and England, with the co-operation of China and Japan, would, it was believed, promote pelagic interests in the north Pacific.

The Cossack outrages on the Catholics were carried to such an extreme in 1894 that papal protests ensued. In an autograph letter to the Pope, the Czar promised that peace should be preserved. The pledge, however, was either not respected, or its fulfillment was found to be impossible. The attacks were repeated.

The progressive commercial treaty concluded with Germany instituted a new era in tariff reform, while it brought Dr. Witte, the Finance Minister, in direct but brief conflict with the Czar, who had set his heart upon the expansion of trade relations with Germany, it also aroused the opposition of a large wing of German politicians who resented Emperor Wilhelm's announcement that "rejectment of the treaty by the Reichstadt meant, not only a tariff war with Russia, but later a war of actual hostilities."

At this time, a veritable war cloud darkened Europe's horizon, and the attitude of nation towards nation, was not only watched with dread suspense, but with deep diplomatic interest. The Emperor Wilhelm's visit to England was viewed by the Czar with ill-concealed jealousy, while he threatened to break Russia's commercial treaty with France, on account of a dispute over the corn duties. The theater of anarchist plot having been temporarily transferred to Paris—culminating in the assassination of President Carnot—extended to Alexander a slight surcease from personal anxiety, and opportunity for needed physical rest.

In April the betrothal of the Grand Duke Nicholas—heir apparent to the throne—to the Princess Alix of Hesse, was announced and in August the Grand Duchess Xenia, only daughter of the Czar, was married to the Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch at Peterhoff. The condition of the Czar's health now caused the gravest apprehension, and the darkest forebodings filled the minds of the people. As the forbidding character of the Russian landscape has exerted a marked influence on the ethnological characteristics of the people, so it has also contributed to the national pessimistic character of the race. "The music of Russia," writes Noble, "has a plaintively pessimistic ring. Even the cries of the street peddler are more like wails of anguish. Repression and somberness are the distinguishing features."

In September the malady from which Alexander was suffering assumed a more malignant form, and he repaired with the Empress to Livadia. On October 10th he was told by Professor Zacharias that there was no hope. Bright 's disease in an aggravated form had set in; it was now apparent that the Czar was doomed. On the afternoon of November 1st, All Saint's Day, the booming of cannon at Livadia and St. Petersburg announced that Russia's autocratic ruler had passed away.

On November 2nd his son Nicholas II. was proclaimed Czar, and the same day issued a pathetic yet manly manifesto, in which he solemnly vowed that his "sole aim" would be "the development of the power and glory of our beloved Russia and the happiness of all our faithful subjects."

On the 19th the remains of the late Czar were entombed in the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul at St. Petersburg. On the 27th of the same month the Emperor Nicholas was married to the Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt in the Picketnay chapel of the Winter Palace.

Felix Volkovsky, a critical author, recently wrote, concerning the late Emperor, as follows "What is the present head of the Russian Government? An obstinate narrow-minded man, who, with the pertinacity of strong conviction, clings to the idea that it is good to do evil. He is a hot-tempered person, who has to keep himself in check by means of reason, which he is not very abundantly provided with. He is supposed to be very kind at heart, yet all around him tremble, as he is convinced that to be independent he must be stern. He is supposed to be honest and in a certain way he is; and yet he does things which are not easily reconciled with honesty, simply understood."

Whatever may have been Alexander's shortcomings as a sovereign, as a father his name was the synonym of loving kindness, and as a husband he was without reproach.

If the Russian Government would only—instead of nursing the doctrine that nearly everything is forbidden except that which has been specifically permitted—"let everything be permitted, excepting that which has been specifically forbidden," the Empire might reasonably look for greater peace within its borders.

The social and political condition of the Russian people at the present time seems to bear a striking parallel to the physical conditions of their own northern latitudes. These were described by Marco Polo, as "a region of darkness, with the sun invisible, and the atmosphere obscured to the same degree as we, in other countries, find it just about dawn of day, when we may be said to see and yet see not."

Under the broader and less fettered policy of a new and more youthful ruler, is it too much to hope that with to-morrow's dawn will arrive an era of constitutional reform in Russia? A splendid extension of individual liberty and rights, more in harmony with the magnificent possibilities of the Empire of the White Czar, and in response to the progressive demands of the nineteenth century.