Young Folks' History of Russia - Nathan Dole

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."