The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Mongols in Russia

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Title: The Mongols in Russia

Author: Jeremiah Curtin

Release date: January 20, 2024 [eBook #72764]

Language: English

Original publication: Boston: Little Brown & Company, 1908

Credits: Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at for Project Gutenberg (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)


Newly Designed Front Cover.




Jeremiah Curtin in the Ruins of the Roman Forum

Jeremiah Curtin in the Ruins of the Roman Forum


Original Title Page.




The Mongols, A History
Theodore Roosevelt



In gathering material for “The Mongols” and “The Mongols in Russia,” Mr. Curtin used the early chronicles of China, Persia, and Russia. To obtain these chronicles he went several times to Russia and once to the Orient. [ix]




Kurultai held by Ogotai.—Sarai, the Mongol capital.—Patriarchal system of Russia.—Rurik, 862.—Death of Rurik, 879.—Oleg, successor of Rurik.—Askold and Dir.—Oleg takes Kief.—Expedition against Constantinople.—First Russian treaty.—Death of Oleg, 912.—Reign of Igor.—Attacks on the Byzantine Empire, 941, 944.—Murder of Igor, 945.—Olga avenges the murder of her husband.—Reign of Olga.—Succession of Sviatoslav, 957.—Olga receives Christianity.—The Kazars.—Sviatoslav controls Bulgaria.—Kief attacked by Petchenegs.—Death of Olga.—Sviatoslav divides his inheritance.—Second war with Bulgaria.—Murder of Sviatoslav, 972.—Dispute between the sons of Sviatoslav.—Yaropolk becomes master of Russia.—Vladimir takes Polotsk.—Blud betrays Yaropolk.—Vladimir becomes Prince of Kief.—Religion of Russia.—Marriage of Vladimir with Anna, sister of the Greek Emperor.—Death of Vladimir, 1015.—Vladimir’s twelve sons.—Sviatopolk seizes power.—Murder of Boris and Glaib.—Defeat of Sviatopolk.—Sviatopolk seeks assistance in Poland.—Sviatopolk defeated a second time.—Mystislav appears before Kief.—Mystislav takes Novgorod.—Battle of Listven.—Yaroslav enters Kief.—Yaroslav becomes Grand Prince, 1016.—Death of Mystislav, 1035.—Yaroslav frames a code of laws.—Arranges the succession.—Death of Yaroslav the Lawgiver, 1054.—Russia divided between the sons of Yaroslav.—Izyaslav Prince of Kief.—Vseslav the Wizard.—Vseslav imprisoned by Izyaslav.—Polovtsi cross the boundary of Pereyaslavl, 1055.—Peace made by the Polovtsi.—Polovtsi defeat the Russian princes.—Kief dissatisfied with Izyaslav.—Kief reënstates Izyaslav.—Izyaslav driven from Kief a second time.—Sviatoslav becomes Grand Prince.—Izyaslav’s son visits Rome.—Polish king asks Pope Gregory to assist Izyaslav.—Monomach and Glaib.—Polovtsi warriors employed for the first time.—Death of Sviatoslav, 1076.—Death of Glaib.—Polovtsi led in by Oleg and Boris.—Izyaslav, Yaropolk and Monomach march against Oleg.—Death of Boris.—Death of Izyaslav.—Vsevolod becomes Grand Prince, 1078.—Volodar and Vassilko.—Chernigoff given to Monomach.—Polovtsi army sent against Vsevolod.—Death of Roman, 1079.—Trouble in Volynia.—Traffic with Tsargrad.—Flight of Yaropolk.—Surrender of Lutsk.—David, son of Igor, rules Volynia.—Galitch seized from the King of Poland.—Death of Yaropolk, 1086        1


Death of Vsevolod, 1093.—Sviatopolk, Prince of Kief.—Conflict between Sviatopolk and the Polovtsi.—Defeat of Sviatopolk.—Polovtsi [x]attack Kief.—Polovtsi army led in by Oleg.—Siege of Chernigoff.—Oleg master of Chernigoff.—Polovtsi Khans visit Pereyaslavl to sell peace, both are killed.—Advance of Oleg against Murom.—Itlar and Kitan, Polovtsi Khans, come to Pereyaslavl, 1095.—Death of Izyaslav.—Murom receives Oleg.—Mystislav seizes Oleg’s officials.—Mystislav pursues Oleg.—Defeat of Oleg.—Princes of Russia meet at Lubetch, 1097.—David suspicious of Monomach and Vassilko.—David explains the plot to Sviatopolk.—Capture of Vassilko.—David blinds Vassilko.—Volodar attacks David.—Vassilko seeks revenge.—Sviatopolk lays siege to Vladimir.—Yaroslav goes to Hungary to find aid for Vassilko.—Koloman of Hungary lays siege to Premysl.—Mystislav defends Vladimir.—Death of Mystislav.—Vladimir men defeat David.—The Russian princes meet at Vititchevo, 1100.—Monomach acts against steppe tribes.—Defeat of the Polovtsi.—Expeditions against the Polovtsi, 1110 and 1111.—Death of Sviatopolk, 1113.—Monomach becomes Prince of Kief, 1113.—Monomach marches against Minsk, 1116.—Trouble in Volynia.—Monomach expels Yaroslav, and seats Roman in Volynia.—Death of Roman.—Andrei, Roman’s successor.—Kidnapping of Volodar.—Efforts of Vassilko to free his brother.—Yaroslav, with Cheks, Poles and Hungarians, attacks Vladimir, 1123.—Death of Yaroslav, 1123.—Death of Monomach, 1125.—Mystislav succeeds Vladimir Monomach, 1125.—Yaroslav, son of Monomach, founds the principality of Ryazan.—Mystislav frees himself of the Polovtsi princes.—Yaroslav successor of Oleg of Chernigoff.—Vsevolod opposes his uncle.—Yaroslav withdraws to Ryazan.—Death of Mystislav, 1132.—Yaropolk successor of Mystislav, his brother.—Mystislav’s sons rise against their uncle.—Vsevolod receives Pereyaslavl from Mystislav.—Yuri Dolgoruki expels Vsevolod.—Pskoff resolves to declare its independence.—Sviatoslav sent to attack Pskoff.—Yuri Dolgoruki receives Gorodok.—Vsevolod seizes Chernigoff.—Death of Yaropolk.—Vyacheslav successor of Yaropolk, 1150.—Vyacheslav drives Vsevolod from Kief.—Position of Monomach’s descendants.—Vsevolod attacks his enemies separately.—Yuri seizes Torjok        33


Death of Andrei.—Vyacheslav takes Pereyaslavl.—Vsevolod calls a council.—Siege of Pereyaslavl by dissatisfied heirs.—Defeat of the besiegers.—Vsevolod asks aid of Sviatosha.—Izyaslav obtains Pereyaslavl.—Visit of Izyaslav to Yuri in Suzdal.—Position of the descendants of Monomach and Oleg.—Death of Volodar and Vassilko, 1124.—Quarrel between Vsevolod and Vladimirko.—Vladimirko calls in Hungarians, 1127.—Vladimirko’s enemies grow defiant.—Siege of Galitch.—Triumph of Vladimirko.—Vsevolod enters Galitch (1146).—Position of Novgorod.—Vsevolod declares Igor his successor, 1145.—Death of Vsevolod, 1146.—Igor remains with the army and sends Sviatoslav to Kief.—Defeat of Igor.—Capture of Sviatoslav.—Izyaslav enters Kief.—Power returns to Monomach’s descendants.—Flight of Sviatoslav to Chernigoff.—Sviatoslav asks aid of Yuri.—Effort of the sons of David to crush Sviatoslav.—Rostislav of Murom attacks Yuri’s country.—The sons of David move on Putivl.—Flight of Sviatoslav.—Sons of David resolve to kill Sviatoslav.—Sviatoslav reaches the forests of Vyatichi.—Izyaslav leaves his sister’s son in Chernigoff.—Yuri of Suzdal sends aid to Sviatoslav.—Death of Ivan, son of Yuri.—Yuri invites Sviatoslav [xi]to meet him in Moskva (Moscow), 1146.—The name Moscow appears for the first time in history, 1146.—Izyaslav addresses his boyars.—Izyaslav sends envoys to the sons of David.—Murder of Igor.—Glaib seizes Kursk.—Struggle of Chernigoff princes against Izyaslav.—Rostislav deceives the Kief people.—Novgorod assembles forces to march against Yuri.—Izyaslav sends envoys to Sviatoslav.—Sviatoslav consults with Yuri.—Yuri marches to Pereyaslavl.—Yuri sends a message to Izyaslav.—The bishop begs Izyaslav to make peace.—Defeat and flight of Izyaslav.—Izyaslav sends to Poland for aid.—Message of Izyaslav to Vyatcheslav.—Vyatcheslav begs Yuri to make peace.—Yuri invests Lutsk.—Yuri makes peace.—Izyaslav obtains aid from the Polovtsi.—Vyatcheslav and Izyaslav rule Kief.—Yuri approaches Kief.—Flight of Vyatcheslav and Izyaslav.—Izyaslav asks aid of the King of Hungary.—Vladimirko lavishes gold on the Hungarians and they withdraw.—Escape of Boris.—Kief welcomes Izyaslav.—Triumph of Vyatcheslav.—Contest between Vyatcheslav and Yuri.—Yuri attacks Vyatcheslav.—Defeat of Yuri.—Yuri takes oath not to attack Kief while it is held by Izyaslav and his uncle.—Return of Yuri to Suzdal.—Yuri brings Polovtsi legions to besiege Chernigoff.—Defeat of Yuri.—Triumph of Izyaslav and his uncle        58


Izyaslav and the King of Hungary attack Vladimirko, 1151.—Escape of Vladimirko.—Vladimirko declares that he is dying and begs for peace.—Izyaslav yields.—Vladimirko sends troops to help Yuri.—Refusal of Vladimirko to fulfil promises.—Death of Vladimirko.—Yaroslav successor of Vladimirko.—Battle at Terebovl.—Defeat of Izyaslav.—Death of Izyaslav, 1154.—Rostislav succeeds his brother.—Attack on Pereyaslavl.—Death of Vyatcheslav.—Defeat of Rostislav.—Kief men call Izyaslav to the throne.—Peace between Yuri and Rostislav.—Yuri meets an old friend.—Yuri enters Kief, 1155.—Disaffection of Kief.—Death of Yuri, 1157.—Andrei carries the miraculous image to Vladimir.—Founding of Bogolyuboff.—Mystislav successor of Yuri.—Andrei marches against Mystislav, 1169.—Destruction of Kief.—Andrei adorns Vladimir.—History of Vladimir.—Suzdal and Rostoff jealous of Vladimir.—Enemies of Andrei.—Methods of Andrei.—Pride of Novgorod.—Andrei attacks Bulgar.—Triumph of Andrei.—Friendship of the Greek Emperor and the Patriarch.—Andrei calls a council.—Asks the Patriarch to give Vladimir a metropolitan.—Refusal of the Patriarch.—Marriage of Andrei.—Youth of Andrei.—Murder and burial of Andrei, 1174.—Fear of the boyars.—Execution of the murderers.—Andrei’s two nephews chosen to succeed him.—Sviatoslav of Chernigoff displeased; insists that the brothers of Andrei shall be associated with the nephews.—Boyars masters in Vladimir.—Vladimir men send for Mihalko and Vsevolod, and install them, 1176        88


Death of Mihalko, 1176.—Men of Vladimir kiss the cross to Vsevolod.—Vsevolod gives Rostoff to Mystislav.—Mystislav invades Vladimir.—Battle near Yurieff.—Flight of Mystislav.—Triumph of Vsevolod.—Burning of Moscow.—Attack on Vladimir.—Seizure of Bogolyuboff by Glaib.—Defeat of Mystislav and the Polovtsi.—Decision regarding prisoners.—Blinding of Yaropolk and Mystislav.—Refusal of Glaib to receive freedom with conditions.—Death of [xii]Glaib.—Importance of Vladimir as a capital.—Activity of the Prince of Vladimir in Novgorod affairs.—Defense of Novgorod against pagans.—Attempt of Mystislav to punish Polovtsi.—Death of Mystislav.—Flight of Roman to the steppes.—Submission of Ryazan.—Choice of Vladimir as Prince of Novgorod.—Imprisonment of Glaib.—Efforts of Sviatoslav to liberate his son.—Retreat of Sviatoslav.—Preparations of Rurik to seize Kief.—Asks aid of Yaroslav Eight Minds.—March of Yaroslav and Igor from Chernigoff.—Allies from Lithuania.—Desire of Smolensk to force battle.—Attack of the Prince of Vladimir on Nova-Torg.—Peace is made.—Defeat of Mohammedans.—Death of Izyaslav, son of Glaib.—Party struggles in Novgorod.—Trouble in Ryazan.—Address of Big Nest to Ryazan people.—Pronsk princes ask for assistance.—Retreat from Kolomna.—Surrender of Pronsk.—Deceitful submission of Roman.—Attack on Kolomna by the Prince of Vladimir.—Peace made with Ryazan.—Accusations against Porfiri, the Chernigoff bishop.—Sviatoslav invites all princes to join him in an expedition against the Polovtsi.—A great victory.—Eight Minds, Prince of Galitch.—Triumph of Sviatoslav.—March of Igor against the Polovtsi.—Defeat of Igor.—Death of Glaib        111


Death of Vladimir of Pereyaslavl.—Inheritance of Pereyaslavl by the Prince of Vladimir.—Onrush of Polovtsi.—Grief of Igor.—Escape of Igor from imprisonment among Polovtsi.—Polovtsi raids.—Decline of Kief.—Influence of the Latins.—Death of Yaroslav Eight Minds, 1187.—Anastasia, mistress of Eight Minds.—Bond between Galitch and Hungary.—Vladimir, son of Eight Minds.—Marriage of Vladimir.—Flight of Vladimir and his family.—Reception of Vladimir by Bela III.—Seizure of Vladimir’s property by Roman.—Assistance given Roman by Rurik of Smolensk.—Honor given King Bela in Galitch.—Bela takes the title Rex Galiciæ.—Andrei, son of Bela, made king in Galitch.—Position of Andrei in Galitch.—Rostislav invited to the throne of Galitch.—Battle outside the capital.—Death of Rostislav.—Church trouble in Galitch.—Dispute between Rurik and Sviatoslav.—Plans of the Kief prince.—Escape of Vladimir of Galitch from imprisonment in Hungary.—Vladimir begs aid of Barbarossa.—Barbarossa commands Kazimir of Poland to assist Vladimir.—Vladimir enters Galitch with a Polish army.—Flight of Andrei.—Decision of Chernigoff princes that war alone can settle boundaries.—Death of Sviatoslav, 1194.—Rurik, Prince of Kief.—Roman, son-in-law of Rurik.—Rurik feels the policy of Big Nest.—Feast giving between Rurik and David.—Trouble between Rurik and Big Nest.—Appeal to Nikifor, the metropolitan.—Roman reproaches Rurik.—Roman seeks aid in Cracow.—Roman assists the Poles.—Defeat of Roman.—Message from Big Nest and Rurik to the descendants of Oleg.—Big Nest promises to march against Chernigoff.—Victory of Chernigoff.—Rurik reproaches Big Nest.—Rurik marches on Chernigoff.—Death of Vsevolod Buitur.—Message of Rurik to the Galitch prince.—Council of Ryazan princes.—Demand of Big Nest that Yaropolk should leave Novgorod.—Rurik reproaches Big Nest.—Indifference of Big Nest.—Death of Rostislav, 1198.—Death of Vladimir, son of Eight Minds.—Struggle between Bela of Hungary and Roman.—Rule of Roman in Galitch.—Ingvar is seated on the Kief throne.—Chermny and Rurik bring Polovtsi against Kief, 1204.—Capture of Kief.—Rurik [xiii]again prince in Kief, 1205.—Campaign against Polovtsi.—Rurik becomes a monk.—Rostislav prince in Kief.—Meeting in Kief of the ruling princes.—Occupation of Lublin        133


Death of Roman, 1205.—Rurik, the monk, again prince in Kief.—Quarrels in Galitch.—Escape of Roman’s widow and children.—Desire of Andrei to establish Daniel in Galitch, 1206.—Chermny leads troops into Galitch.—Trouble with Galitch boyars.—Recall of Andrei.—Satisfaction of Chermny.—Desire of the boyars to get possession of Volynia.—Aid asked of Leshko by Roman’s widow, 1211.—Disorder in Galitch and Volynia.—Trouble in Kief.—Rule of Chermny in the Kief country, 1207.—Vassilko and Daniel.—Desire of Alexander Bailski to rule in Volynia.—Ingvar claims Volynia.—Vassilko receives Brest.—Quarrels of the sons of Igor.—Big Nest marches against Chermny.—Quarrel of Big Nest and son.—Big Nest moves on Ryazan.—Ryazan men beg for peace.—Crossing of the Oká.—Return of the army to Vladimir, November, 1207.—Big Nest sends Yaroslav, his son, to Ryazan as prince, 1208.—Intrigue of Glaib.—Burning of Ryazan and Bailgorod.—Disorder increases in Galitch.—Expulsion of the sons of Igor.—Coming of Benedict Bor.—Escape of Benedict Bor.—Volodislav, a boyar, promises Galitch to Andrei of Hungary.—Reception of Daniel by Galitch.—Triumph of Daniel.—Parting of Daniel and his mother.—Establishment in Galitch of Roman’s widow.—Torture and exile of Volodislav.—Triumph of Mystislav.—Return of Volodislav.—Rule of Volodislav in Galitch.—Andrei of Hungary and his queen.—History of Benedict Bor.—Volynia rises against Volodislav.—Defeat of Volodislav.—The young King and Queen of Galitch.—Volodislav dies in prison.—Latin priesthood brought into Galitch, 1214.—Dispute between Novgorod and Big Nest.—Mystislav the Gallant, son of Mystislav the Brave.—Appearance of Mystislav in Novgorod.—Success of Mystislav the Gallant.—Trouble between Big Nest and his son.—Death of Big Nest, 1212.—Mystislav the Gallant assists Kief.—Flight of Chermny.—Death of Chermny, father of Michael the Martyr        161


Triumph of Mystislav the Gallant.—Superiority of Mystislav over Russian princes.—Marriage of Daniel, Roman’s son.—Success of Daniel.—Perilous position of Daniel.—Endurance of Daniel.—Yaroslav Prince of Novgorod.—Misfortunes of Novgorod.—Appearance of Mystislav the Gallant in Novgorod.—War between Novgorod and Vladimir.—Reinstatement of Constantine by Mystislav, 1215.—Battle of Lipetsk.—Departure of Yuri.—Death of Vassili, son of Mystislav the Gallant.—Installation of Latin priests in Galitch.—Decision of Russian princes to regain Galitch.—Battles fought by Daniel.—Reign of Koloman and Silomeya in Galitch.—Management of Sudislav “the traitor.”—Hurried preparations to defend Galitch.—Seizure of towns and cities by Leshko of Poland.—Defeat of the Poles.—Storming of Galitch by Mystislav.—Conspiracies in Galitch and Volynia.—Success of Daniel, son of Roman.—Troubles in Novgorod, way to the sea cut off by Fins.—Troubles among Lithuanian tribes        185 [xiv]


The Baltic coast.—Kors and Livs.—Merchants of the 12th century.—Visit of Meinhardt to Polotsk, 1186–7.—Attack of Kors and Livs on the Germans.—Founding of Holm or Kirchholm.—Conversion of pagan tribes.—Death of Meinhardt, 1196.—Victory of the Germans.—Reëstablishment of the Livonian Church.—Decision of Rome.—Albert von Apeldern Bukshevden.—Building of a fortress.—Founding of the city of Riga.—Dispute between Albert, Bishop of Livonia, and the Order.—Seizure of Polotsk territory.—Embassy sent by the bishop to Vladimir.—Preparations of Riga for defense.—Embassy from Riga.—Message sent by the abbot to the envoys of the prince.—Attack on Holm by Ako.—Defeat of Ako.—Campaign of Vladimir against Riga.—Negotiations between the bishop and Vladimir.—Dissatisfaction of the people subject to Riga.—Crossing of the Dvina.—Complaints of the bishop against Pskoff and Novgorod.—Refusal of Pskoff and Novgorod to make a treaty with Riga.—Meeting of the archbishop and Vladimir.—Prince of Polotsk.—Return of Mystislav the Gallant to Novgorod, 1214.—Defeat of the knights of Riga.—Cruelties of the knights.—Fate of Kors and Livs.—Trouble in Lithuania from Prussian refugees.—Esthonia.—Expedition of Yaroslav against Riga.—Prince Vyachko of Kuikenos.—Siege of Yurieff.—Burning of Yurieff by its defenders.—Capture of Yurieff.—Quarrels between Pskoff and Novgorod.—Occupation of Pereyaslavl.—Radical changes in Russia.—Battle on the Kalka, 1224.—Defeat of the Russians.—Accusations against Daniel.—Death of Mystislav, 1228        206


Vladimir, son of Rurik, prince in Kief.—Trouble over the Kief principality.—Michael of Chernigoff.—War throughout Galitch and Volynia, from 1230 to 1240.—Escape of Daniel.—Defeat of Michael.—Constant dissensions in Russia.—Intriguing of Galitch boyars.—Plot against Daniel.—Riots in Galitch.—Capture of Peremysl.—Shifting fortune of Daniel.—Schemes of Bailski.—Yaroslav, son of Big Nest, Prince of Kief, 1237.—Capture of Kief by Michael of Chernigoff.—Desertion of Kief in 1239.—Ruin of Pereyaslavl by the Mongols.—Triumph of Daniel.—Mongol tempest.—Attack on Trans-Volga regions by Mongols.—Batu, grandson of Jinghis Khan.—Advance on Ryazan by Mongols.—Terror in Russia.—Resistance of Ryazan.—Capture of Ryazan, and slaughter of the population.—Fury of Kolovrat.—Attack on Vladimir.—Burning of Kolomna.—Burning of Moscow.—Capture of Vladimir, 1238.—Slaughter and destruction.—Struggle on the Siti.—Victory of the Mongols.—Burning of Torjok, Tver and Yaroslavl.—Advance upon Kief, 1240.—Flight of Michael from the capital.—Campaign of Batu against Kief.—Defense of Kief.—Capture of Kief, and slaughter of the inhabitants.—Capture of Ladyjin.—Assault on Volynia.—Destruction of Brest.—Mongols in Poland, 1240.—March on Galitch.—Flight of Boleslav of Cracow, 1241.—March of the Mongols on Breslau.—Advance to frontiers of Bohemia and Austria.—Demand of Batu that King Bela yield obedience.—March of Hungarian army to meet the Mongols.—Death of Ogotai.—Terror brought on Europe by Batu.—Mongol law.—Mongol ceremonies.—Cruelty of Batu.—Questions regarding the Latin religion.—Daniel crowned, 1253.—Daniel summoned to the Horde.—Reception of Daniel by the Horde.—Promises of the papal legate        225 [xv]


Despair of Michael of Chernigoff, 1245.—Youth of Michael.—Return of Michael to the ruins of Chernigoff.—Preparations to visit the Horde.—Arrival at Sarai.—Refusal of Michael to comply with Mongol demands.—Decision of Michael.—Execution of Michael        254


Yaroslav prince in Vladimir.—Return of Yaroslav to Vladimir.—Survival of Novgorod.—Victory of Alexander on the Neva, 1240.—Indecision of Novgorod.—Attack of towns on the Klyazma.—Return of Constantine from Mongolia, 1245.—Misfortune of Yaroslav.—Journey through Central Asia.—The Mongol capital.—Death of Yaroslav.—Burial of Yaroslav.—The Mongol yoke.—Alexander Nevski.—Marriage of Alexander.—Campaign against the Chuds and Lithuanians.—Success of Nevski.—Insolence of the Livonian knights.—Swedish ships in the Neva.—Closing of the way to the Baltic.—Trouble between Novgorod and Vladimir.—Capture of Izborsk, Yurieff and Pskoff by the Livonian knights.—Arrival of Nevski by Pskoff.—Fame of Nevski.—Raids of the Lithuanians.—Flight of the Grand Master of the Livonian Order.—Reception of Nevski by Pskoff.—Fame of Nevski.—Raids of the Lithuanians.—Visit of Nevski to the Horde.—Return of Nevski to Novgorod.—Rejection of old rules.—Confusion and disorder in all parts of Russia.—Questions regarding succession of princes under Mongol rule.—Embassy from Rome to convert Nevski.—Plano Karpini.—Letter of the Pope to Nevski.—Rule of Sartak, son of Batu.—Death of Batu.—Difficulties attending a visit to the Horde.—Dispute between Sviatoslav and his nephew, Andrei.—Visit of Andrei to the Horde.—Inability of Nevski to act against the Mongols.—Death of Sviatoslav.—Visit of Alexander to the Horde.—Punishment given Vladimir by the Mongols.—Flight of Andrei and Yaroslav.—Victory of the Mongols.—Escape of Andrei to Riga.—Return of Nevski to Vladimir.—Rules of Nevski in Vladimir, 1252.—Murder of Sartak.—Seizure of the Mongol throne by Berkai.—Visit of the Russian princes to Sarai        260


“Lord Novgorod.”—Novgorod “liberties.”—Insolence and unrest of Novgorod.—Disgrace of Yaroslav.—Excitement in Novgorod.—Riot in Novgorod.—Persistence of Nevski.—Nevski’s message to the city of Novgorod.—Attack of Germans on Novgorod borders.—Attack of the Swedes.—Campaign of Nevski against Fins and Lapps.—Establishment of the Finnish boundary.—Demands of the Mongols.—Taking of the census.—Appearance in Ryazan of officials from the Horde.—Opposition to the census.—Trouble in Novgorod over the census.—Murder of Mihalko.—March of Nevski to Novgorod.—Message of Nevski to Pskoff.—Threats of the Mongols.—Rescue of Novgorod by Nevski.—Taking of the census in Vladimir.—Birth of Nevski’s youngest son, Daniel, 1261.—Uprisings against tax collectors.—Advance of the Knights of Livonia on Pskoff.—Visit of Nevski to the Horde.—Dissatisfaction at the Horde.—Death of Nevski, 1263.—Inheritance of Daniel of Moscow.—Increase in the importance of Moscow.—Founding of Moscow.—Government of Vladimir principality.—Life of Daniel.—Population and growth of Moscow.—Death of Andrei, Nevski’s brother, 1304.—Struggle between Yuri and Michael of Tver, 1308.—Struggle of Yuri [xvi]and Michael to incline Novgorod to their side.—Maxim the metropolitan.—Visit of Yuri to the Horde.—Visit of Michael of Tver to the Horde.—Defeat of Akinfi, a Moscow boyar.—Return of Michael from the Horde.—Campaign against Moscow.—Complaints at the Horde of Michael against Yuri.—Failure of Michael of Tver to take Moscow.—Death of Tokhta, the Khan, 1312.—Succession of Uzbek.—Visit of Russian princes to Sarai.—Conversion of Uzbek to Islam.—Journey of Yuri to the Horde.—Kavgady, a Mongol magnate.—Marriage of Yuri to Konchaka, sister of the Khan.—Expulsion of Michael’s officials from Novgorod.—An unfortunate expedition.—News of the approach of Yuri with a large army.—Increase of defenses in Tver.—Indecision of Michael’s allies.—Collection of tribute.—Accuracy of Michael in regard to tribute.—Burning of towns by Yuri’s army.—Meeting of forces, December 22, 1317.—Defeat of Yuri.—Capture of Konchaka, Yuri’s wife.—Delight of the victors.—Attempt of Yuri to cross the Volga with a new army.—Death of Konchaka, and trouble for Michael.—Visit of Michael to Sarai.—Arrival of Michael at Sarai.—Trial of Michael.—Judgment of the princes of the Horde.—Sentence of Michael.—New trial by order of the Khan, and a new sentence.—Kang put on Michael.—Mongol hunting party.—Journey of twenty-five days’ duration.—Execution of Michael        279


Return of Yuri with Khan’s patent.—Death of Boris, Yuri’s brother.—Gift of land by Yuri to his brother Ivan.—Visit of Ivan of Moscow to the Horde, 1320.—Marriage of princes.—Quarrel of Yuri with Ryazan.—Subjection of minor princes.—Visit of Dmitri of Tver to the Horde.—Explanation given Uzbek by Dmitri regarding Yuri’s calumniation of his father.—Yuri summoned to Sarai.—Defeat of the Swedes by Yuri.—Hesitation of Yuri to visit the Horde.—Visit of Dmitri to the Horde.—Murder of Yuri by Dmitri.—Execution of Dmitri, 1326.—Cholkhan sent to Tver by Uzbek, 1327.—Riot in Tver; killing of Mongols.—Anger of Uzbek.—Bloodshed throughout all Vladimir, 1328.—Flight of Alexander to Novgorod.—March of the Khan toward Moscow.—Embassy sent to Uzbek.—Terror throughout Russia.—Reception of Ivan by Uzbek.—Return of Ivan, 1332.—Demand of the Khan that Alexander should be sent to him.—Search for Alexander.—Refusal of Alexander to visit the Horde.—Return of Alexander to Pskoff.—Moscow the real capital of Russia.—Rule of Ivan.—Position of Ivan.—Seizure of Torjok by Ivan to force obedience of Novgorod.—Quarrels of Novgorod with Ivan.—Friendship of Novgorod and Lithuania.—Rule of Gedimin’s son in Novgorod.—Ivan Grand Prince of all Russia.—Friendship of Uzbek.—Growth Of Moscow.—Visit of Alexander to Sarai.—Astonishment of Uzbek.—Return of Alexander to Russia.—Quarrels with Moscow.—Disorder in Novgorod.—Alexander summoned to Sarai.—Trial of Alexander.—Execution of Alexander and his son.—Death of Ivan Kalitá, 1340.—Death of Gedimin and Uzbek, 1340.—Account of Gedimin’s dynasty.—Account of Mindog’s activity.—Reign of Trenyat in Lithuania.—Securing of power by Voishelk.—Viten, Dovmont and Gedimin.—Message from Bishop of Riga to the Pope, 1323.—Arrival of envoys to baptize and crown Gedimin.—Refusal of Gedimin.—Liberty declared to the Orthodox Church.—Beginning of war by the Livonian Knights.—Death of Gedimin.—Cremation of Gedimin at Vilna.—“Pagan hunts” of the knights, 1336.—Rule of Olgerd.—Description of Olgerd        308 [xvii]


Increase of Lithuania, 1340.—Simeon successor of Ivan of Moscow.—Complaint of Simeon against Novgorod.—Outbreak in Torjok.—March of Simeon to Torjok.—Reign of Simeon.—Trouble in Riga territory.—Pskoff regions plundered by Olgerd.—Attack planned by Olgerd against Simeon.—Envoys sent to Chanibek by Simeon.—Seizure of Lithuanian envoys by Chanibek.—Victory of the Germans over Olgerd.—Olgerd’s desire for peace.—Marriage of Simeon.—Baptism of Olgerd.—Marriage of Olgerd and Julianna.—Peace in Tver.—Quarrels in Ryazan.—Attack of Simeon against Olgerd.—Death of Simeon by plague, 1353.—Death of Feognost, 1356.—Succession of Ivan, son of Ivan Kalitá.—Alexis successor of Feognost.—Struggle of Constantine of Suzdal to obtain the Grand Principality.—Trouble in Ryazan.Ivan’s lieutenant imprisoned.—Mamat Hodja sent by the Horde to settle boundaries between Ryazan and Moscow.—Assassination of Mamat.—Intention of Olgerd to master all Russia.—Claims of Olgerd.—Influence of Olgerd in Tver.—Preference of Novgorod for Roman, Olgerd’s metropolitan.—Tradition concerning the days of Ivan.—Death of Chanibek, 1358.—Accession of Berdibek.—Death of Ivan the Mild, 1359.—Death of Berdibek, successor of Chanibek.—Successor of Kulpa followed by Navrus.—Appearance of Mamai, and division of the Horde.—Disturbance in Russia.—Abdul Khan on the right bank of the Volga, Murat on the east.—Great enmity of the two Hordes.—Dmitri of Moscow Grand Prince of all Russia.—Position in Moscow when Dmitri began to reign.—Jealousy of Abdul, the Khan, for Dmitri; trouble arising thereby.—Moscow takes possession of Bailozero, 1363.—Success of Dmitri.—Nizni patent obtained by Boris.—Boris summoned to Moscow.—March of Dmitri against Nizni.—Olgerd the great enemy of Moscow.—Condition in Tver.—Yeremi sets aside his oath to Tver, 1367.—Visit of Michael to Ryazan and Moscow.—Dmitri of Moscow.—Detention of Michael.—Reprimand from Mongol envoys.—Liberation of Michael.—Attack of Olgerd on Moscow, 1368.—Retreat of Olgerd.—Peace between Moscow and Tver.—Threats of Olgerd against Dmitri.—Campaign of Tver and Lithuania against Moscow, 1370        336


Visit of Michael to the Horde, 1371.—Cost of Mamai’s good-will.—Desire of Dmitri to make war on the Mongols.—Discouragement in Moscow.—Decision of Dmitri to visit the Horde.—Reception of Dmitri at Sarai.—Moscow joined by Novgorod.—War between Moscow and Tver.—March of Oleg against Moscow.—Battle of Skornistchevo.—Defeat of Oleg.—Abakumovitch of Torjok.—Suffering of Torjok from Mongols.—Defeat of Olgerd.—Threats of the Mongols.—War made on Moscow by Mamai.—Waiting for the Mongols, 1373.—Devotion of the people.—Appointment of Michael as Grand Prince.—Michael breaks his oath to Moscow.—March of Dmitri against Tver.—Defeat of Tver.—Peace with severe terms.—End of war between Tver and Moscow, 1375.—Death of Olgerd, 1377.—Murder of Keistut by his nephew Yagello.—Attack of Mongols on Nizni Novgorod.—Killing of Saraiko, the Mongol envoy, and his suite.—Nizni territories doomed to fire and sword.—Advance of Dmitri to the Oká.—Appearance beyond the Sura of Arabshah, a Mongol prince, 1377.—Nizni’s request for aid from Moscow.—Russian troops surprised and destroyed by Mongols.—Death of Prince [xviii]Ivan.—Attack on Ryazan by Mongols.—Moscow men cut down for aiding Mongols.—Anger of Mamai.—Mustering of Mongol forces, 1378.—Mongols cross the Voja August, 1378.—Victory of Dmitri.—Execution of Ivan Velyaminoff, the first man put to death publicly in Moscow, August 30, 1379.—Great work of the metropolitan Alexis.—Church troubles in Moscow.—Mityai given the highest church office by Dmitri.—Anger of Cyprian.—Imprisonment of Cyprian.—Quarrel between Mityai and Dionisi.—Mityai starts for Tsargrad, 1379.—Death of Mityai.—Deceit of Pimen.—Confirmation of Pimen as metropolitan.—Refusal of Dmitri to receive Pimen.—Sending of Dionisi to Tsargrad to secure the expulsion of Pimen.—Death of Dionisi.—Mamai rouses the Mongols to destroy Russia.—Mustering of forces by Dmitri, 1379.—Boasting of Mamai.—Correspondence of Oleg of Tver with Yagello of Poland.—March of Vagello to join Mamai, 1380.—Distribution of Dmitri’s army.—Address of Dmitri to his officers.—Examination of the battle ground by Bobrok and Dmitri.—Description of Kulikovo.—Eagerness for action.—Beginning of the great battle.—Enormous victory of Russia on the field of Kulikovo        358


Fresh troops assembled by Mamai.—Tohtamish declared heir of Batu.—Slaughter among Mongols.—Demand from Tohtamish that all the Russian princes should come to Sarai.—Indignation in Russia.—Confidence of Dmitri in his own strength.—Treachery of Oleg.—Approach of Tohtamish’s troops.—Disorder in Moscow.—Appearance of Ostei in the capital.—Retreat of the Mongols.—Rebuilding of Moscow by Dmitri.—Sending of Vassili to do homage at the Horde.—Declaration of Tohtamish.—Death of the Nizni prince.—Revenge of Oleg of Ryazan.—Seizure of Kolomna.—Vladimir the Brave.—Peace made between Oleg and Dmitri.—Return of Dmitri’s son from the Horde.—Troubles of Dmitri regarding succession.—Self-sacrifice of Vladimir the Brave.—Death of Dmitri.—Succession of Vassili.—Visit of Vassili to the Horde.—Marriage of Vassili.—Tamerlane, the world-shaking Mongol.—Trouble between Tamerlane and Tohtamish.—Attack of Tohtamish on regions belonging to Tamerlane, 1392.—Army of Tohtamish.—Escape of Tohtamish.—Attack of Tamerlane on Tohtamish.—Fortunate aid of Nur ed din.—Flight of Tohtamish.—Vassili of Moscow leads an army to the Oká to confront Tamerlane.—Withdrawal of Tamerlane.—Storming of Astrachan.—Plans of Vitold to rule the Golden Horde.—Great army assembled to move on the Mongols.—Battle of August 5, 1399.—Triumph of Kutlui. Defeat of Vitold.—Trouble in Smolensk.—War between Lithuania and Smolensk.—Welcome of Yuri in Novgorod.—Attack of Vitold on Pskoff.—Disorder in the Horde.—Installation of Bulat Bey, Kutlin’s son.—Edigai’s march on Moscow, 1408.—Capture of Pereyaslavl, Rostoff and Nizni.—Eligai recalled by Bulat.—Unwillingness of Vassili to pay tribute to the Mongols.—Installation of Jelal ed din as Khan.—Assassination of Jelal ed din.—Dispute between the Teutonic Order and Yagello.—Konrad von Jungingen, 1393–1407.—Battle of Tannenberg.—Defeat of the Order.—Meeting of Yagello, Vitold and Russian boyars at Horodlo, 1413.—Predominance of Poles in upper circles of Russia.—Death of Cyprian, 1406.—Synod assembled by Vitold, 1416.—Territory of Vitold.—Meeting of sovereigns brought about by Vitold, at Lutsk, 1429.—Opposition of Olesnitski.—Assembly at Vilna, 1430.—Disappointment [xix]of Vitold.—Death of Vitold, 1430.—Death of Vassili, 1424.—Visit of Yuri to the Crimea.—War between Mongol Khans.—Trouble caused by an heirloom.—Vassili defeated by Yuri, his rival for the throne of Moscow.—Refusal of Moscow boyars to serve Yuri.—Return of Vassili to power.—The Vyatka, a Novgorod colony        392


Death of Foti, 1431.—Succession of Iona.—Church divisions and troubles.—Union of Churches.—Mohammed expelled from the Horde by Kutchuk.—Mongol troops sent against Russia, 1445.—March of Vassili to meet the enemy.—Defeat of Vassili. Seizure of his person.—Return of Vassili to Moscow, 1445.—Plot of Ivan against Vassili.—Capture of Vassili by Ivan.—Blinding of Vassili.—Shemyaká reigns in Moscow.—Shemyaká frees Vassili.—Defeat of Shemyaká.Surrender of Galitch to Vassili, 1450.—Death of Shemyaká, 1453.—Influence of Vassili over Tver and Ryazan.—Campaign of Vassili against Novgorod.—Death of Vassili, 1462.—Influence of Poland.—The Poles plan to seize Podolia and Volynia.—Stratagem of Polish knights.—Imprisonment of Polish envoys by Svidrigello.—Polish king leads an army into Volynia, 1431.—Sacking of Vladimir by Poles.—Olesnitski the chancellor.—Lithuania acknowledges Sigismund.—Crowning of Sigismund.—Death of Yagello.—Vladislav successor of Yagello.—Agreement of Sigismund with Kief and Volynia.—Victory of Sigismund.—Diet summoned by Sigismund.—Murder of Skobeiko.—Kazimir made prince.—Entrance of Kazimir into Vilna.—Crowning of Kazimir.—Peace between Michael and Kazimir.—Poles seek to turn Lithuania and Russia into Polish provinces.—Death of Svidrigello, 1415.—Peace of Thorn, 1466.—Alexander receives Kief regions from Vassili of Moscow.—Death of Alexander, 1455.—Simeon rules in Kief till 1471.—Succession of Michael.—Plot to assassinate King Kazimir.—Execution of Alexander’s son, Michael, 1482.—Separation of the Orthodox Church into two parts.—Death of Kazimir IV, 1492.—Khanate of the Crimea.—Origin of the Crimean khanate.—Raids of Mongols against Russians.—Death of the first Khan of the Crimea.—Condition of the Crimean khanate.—Change of Russian boundaries.—Founding of Kremnchug and Cherkasy by Vitold        427


Birth of Ivan III, January 22, 1440.—Consolidation of Russia.—Decline of Novgorod.—Martha Boretski, the Novgorod patriot, favors Kazimir.—Defeat of the Boretski party.—Disputes in Moscow.—Epistles of the metropolitan Philip.—Fall of Novgorod.—Decision of Ivan of Moscow.—Prince Shuiski.—Attack on Novgorod by Ivan.—Siege of Deman by Moscow.—Riots in Novgorod.—Success of Moscow.—Submission of Novgorod        454


Feofil, Archbishop of Moscow, 1471.—Marriage of Ivan of Moscow to Sophia.—Journey of Sophia to Russia.—Trouble with the Roman legate.—Advance of Ivan to Novgorod.—Hospitality of Novgorod people.—Dispute between the Grand Prince and the Novgorod people.—Trouble made by the Kazimir party in Novgorod.—Declaration of war sent to Novgorod by Ivan.—Novgorod begs for peace.[xx]—Discussions with peace envoys.—Hunger in Novgorod.—Triumph in Moscow.—Insurrection in Novgorod.—Visit of Ivan to the city.—Siege of Novgorod.—Distribution of the people of Novgorod.—End of semi-separate existence of Novgorod.—Importance of Ivan, even in Europe.—Fear of Ivan causes Kazimir to rouse Ahmed against Moscow.—Friendship of Girei, Khan of the Crimea, and Ivan of Moscow.—Ivan withdraws from the capital.—Dissatisfaction of the people.—Letter of Ivan’s confessor.—Ivan orders his son to Moscow.—Refusal of the son to comply.—Lack of eagerness for battle.—Attack of Girei on Volynia and Kief draws Kazimir’s forces southward.—Command of Ivan for the army to withdraw from the Ugra.—Retreat of the Mongols.—Destruction of the Horde by Mongols without bloodshed in Russia.—Last blow given to the Golden Horde by Girei, Khan of the Crimea.—Destruction of Sarai, and end of the Mongol yoke in Russia        463 [1]





In my history of the Mongols we have seen how Hulagu beguiled the Assassins and slaughtered them. We have seen also how he ended the Kalifat at Bagdad, showing no more regard for the heir of Mohammed than for the chief of those murderers who held that marvelous mountain-land south of the Caspian. The Kalif of Islam was trampled to death under horse-hoofs. The chief of the Assassins was treated with insult, endured for a time, and then slain like a wild beast.

We are now to consider an expedition planned at that Kurultai held during Ogotai’s election, and see what was done by its leader, an expedition which ruined large portions of Europe as far as the Adriatic, and made Batu, the nephew of Jinghis Khan, supreme lord of them.

The Mongols retreated from all lands west of the Carpathians and confined themselves exclusively to that part of Europe which we know as Russia. The West was too narrow for them, too mountainous, too much diversified, and contained too little pastoral land. It had too much culture, and differed too greatly from that immense open region which stretches from the Dnieper, or more correctly from the Danube, to that vast ocean of water which was later called the Pacific.

This region is made up of those spaces lying north of the Great Wall of China, that largest fence ever reared by man to ward off an enemy, and farther west by the greatest barrier raised upon [2]earth through creation, and also used by man as a line of defense, a fortress of refuge, that unique mountain system extending from Eastern China to Persia, and then, with a break, to the Caspian. From the Caspian westward the immense space is bounded by the Caucasus and the Black Sea, till it reaches the Danube and the mountains just north of that river.

This vast region, or Mongol careering ground as we may call it, began on the east at waters which are really the Pacific, and on the west touched the Danube, which finds its source very near the Rhone and the Rhine, both flowing into the Atlantic, since the North Sea, with its waters, is merely a part of that ocean.

The width of this region extends from the southern boundary just given to the Arctic, or Frozen Ocean. The entire southern part, somewhat less than half of this entire area, was an open, treeless country, grass-growing land and sand plains. All along on the northern side of this southern division were great stretches of grass land, with small groves of trees, from one acre to one hundred in area. Lands of this kind are seen in Siberia to our day. In the center were fruitful spots, deserts and oases. In the east, next to the center, were boundless plains, with a greater proportion of forest toward the distant east and toward the north, but with clear spaces everywhere. On the south, from the Danube to the Chinese Sea, the country was open at all points.

Such was the Mongol careering ground, and after they had overrun Europe to the Adriatic and north of it they retired to the western part of this great open country of Eastern Europe, and made their capital at Sarai, just east of the Volga, and perhaps two hundred miles north of the Caspian.

But before writing of the Mongol invasion of Russia, it will be necessary to give a somewhat detailed history of Russia previous to that event.

It is, of course, not known when the Russians settled in their present territory. In the first half of the ninth century they occupied a large extent of land stretching from the Carpathians to the upper waters of the Don and the Volga, and from the neighborhood of Lake Ladoga to a point about half-way between Kief and the Black Sea. All this population lived in villages which were governed in patriarchal fashion by the heads of families. A number of village communities formed a volost, or district, which was [3]the largest government unit in the country. The size of these volosts varied, according to the convenience or the necessities of the case, but in general they were small. As the Slavs were much attached to their village autonomy, and as there was an inexhaustible supply of land, it was quite impossible for a large community to subdue and absorb a weaker one, for the latter had always the power of removing to some unoccupied district and setting up its little republic in the wilderness.

The family system in force among the Slavs greatly favored this process, for a family was not, as in modern times, composed of parents and children only, but of two, three and even four generations. The head of this family was the oldest person in it, and its size was regulated by power of agreement among the members. There were often forty, fifty, or a hundred persons living in one family, all obeying a single head. A few such families formed a village, a few villages a volost, which was sometimes as large as one of our counties. The tendency of a society like this was altogether toward expansion. After reaching a certain size the village community divided, one part remaining in the old place, the other selecting a new field for its industry. It was only at a few points favorable for trade that a large number of people lived together—Novgorod near Lake Ilmen was the most conspicuous example of this kind. It is evident that people living in this manner had little power of combination and could offer but slight resistance to invasion.

Novgorod, situated near the confluence of the different rivers, and in direct communication with the Baltic, became a great trading point, and was not only the most populous place in the whole country, but the first in which civil government began. It was a market-place for the goods of Europe and Asia, and soon rose to a position of wealth and importance. Its government was an extension of the communal system of the country, and was in fact a confederation of villages, held together very loosely. Such a place offered an excellent point of attack to the Northmen, the most enterprising and rapacious of mankind, who at that period left no European country in peace.

In the south the Kazars, a powerful Asiatic horde, took tribute and left the inhabitants to their own devices. This tribute was simply the price of being let alone. In the north it was different; [4]the Scandinavians, who made their presence felt wherever they went, wanted not only profit, but power. They were greedy of rule, and wished to direct the affairs of Novgorod. This was unendurable; the citizens rose up, drove out the strangers, and began to govern themselves as in the old time. Theirs was no easy task, for the place was divided into parties, or rather factions, neither one of which had the power to govern. While affairs were in this troubled state, Gostomyal, the elder or president of the city, rose on a certain occasion and addressed the assembled multitude. Reminding them of their previous condition and present peril, he said that being easily inflamed by passion they were unfit to rule, that if they continued as they were the stranger would surely come, bringing dishonor to their wives and daughters and slavery to themselves, that too late they would shed bitter tears. He closed by advising them to invite from abroad some wise, strong man to govern according to their laws.

Under the immediate influence of this speech, a deputation was chosen and sent to the chieftain Rurik. The gist of their message was: “Our lands are broad and rich, but there is no order therein; do thou come and rule over us.”

Rurik came that same year, bringing with him his two brothers, Sineus and Truvor, and a certain force of his own, which was considerably increased after his arrival by native recruits. Who Rurik was is still a question among Russian historians, but it is generally conceded that he was a Scandinavian, though efforts have been made to show that he was from some Slav tribe on the southern coast of the Baltic.

The political history of Russia begins in 862, when these three brothers came to rule over Novgorod lands. The great importance claimed for this election is that an executive power, independent of all native factions, was introduced without conquest, an event unexampled in Western Europe, where the introduction of a foreign dynasty was attended always by foreign conquest.

At first Rurik, the eldest brother, settled in Ladoga, and Sineus at Bailozero. Truvor went to Izborsk to hold the Livs in check. Two years after their coming Sineus and Truvor vanish from history, whether by a natural death or through violence is not now known to any man. Rurik then advanced from the Ladoga region to Novgorod. He founded several towns, which were simply [5]stockaded forts, centers of settlement. He conquered Finnish tribes and sent his lieutenants to govern at needful points. At Novgorod he built a castle, and remained in that city till his death, which took place fifteen years later. During those years, he extended Novgorod rule on the west to the Upper Dvina, and on the south to the sources of the Dnieper.

Rurik died in 879 and was succeeded by Oleg, a nephew, or at least a near relative, a man of vast plans and great resources. Soon after his election Oleg, leaving a posadnik, or lieutenant at Novgorod, moved toward the south with a large force composed of Varangians, Slavs, and Fins. He had with him his ward, Igor, Rurik’s only son, then in childhood. The new prince took possession of Smolensk, Lubetch, and all other towns and villages which he found south of Novgorod. Whether these places came to him by force or by agreement no chronicler tells us. He pressed forward till he came to Kief, where he found a principality which had its origin during the lifetime of Rurik, in the following manner,—

Two of Rurik’s warriors, Askold and Dir, received permission to go to Tsargrad with the view of enrolling themselves in the guard of the Emperor. Traveling by the usual route of the Dnieper, they arrived at Kief, which so charmed them by its beauty, and the beauty of the surrounding country, that they at once decided to go no farther. The inhabitants of this place were tributary to the Kazars. The two warriors collected a number of Scandinavians and other adventurers, put themselves in the place of the Kazars, and began their rule, which was soon extended over tribes round about. The number of their adherents was increased by fugitives from Novgorod, opponents of Rurik. After a time their power became so considerable that they fitted out an expedition against Tsargrad. As their galleys approached the city, the Greeks invoked their patron saint, and dipped his image in the waters of the Bosphorus. A terrible storm came upon the invaders and destroyed the greater part of their fleet. This event, which was attributed to divine interposition, is said to have made such an impression upon Askold and Dir that they became Christians. This took place several years before Oleg’s arrival at Kief.

Finding an organized rule as an obstacle in his path, Oleg was not slow to act, and his conduct was in keeping with the Norse [6]cunning of that age. Leaving the greater part of his fleet behind him, he sailed up to Kief with a few boats, in which warriors were concealed; then he sent messengers to the rulers of Kief, saying that some of their countrymen, merchants, were on their way to Tsargrad and would like to show them their wares. The unsuspecting princes went on board Oleg’s boat. They were seized by men-at-arms; then Oleg stepped forth and said: “You are neither princes nor of princely race. I am a prince, and with me is Igor, the son of Rurik.” And he had them put to death at once;1 then he took possession of Kief for Rurik’s son.

In Kief Oleg fixed himself firmly, declaring that thenceforth it should be called the mother of Russian towns. His first care was to build fortifications in the new territory, both to secure his own power and to defend the country from the Asiatic tribes of the steppes. He spent nearly thirty years, however, in gaining authority over tribes south, east and west of the new capital, before he felt strong enough to make an attack on Tsargrad.2

In 907 he set out on his famous expedition against the Eastern Empire. A large force, composed of Slavs, Scandinavians and Fins, accompanied him. The number of his boats, perhaps overstated, is given at two thousand. Forty men went in each boat. When the fleet touched the Bosphorus, the Greeks closed the Golden Horn, and also the gates of the capital.

Oleg’s men put their craft on the shore, and then used fire and sword around the city with such vigor that the terrified Emperors were glad to buy peace dearly. With the peace was concluded a treaty of commerce, the first Russian treaty known to history. Oleg nailed his shield to one of the city gates as a mark of victory, and returned home in triumph, bringing with him such booty as no man had seen north of the Euxine till that day.

The effect of this exploit was very great. Oleg was surnamed “the Seer” by his admiring subjects, who felt proud of his, and of their own fame. He had led many of them across the Black Sea to the capital of the Cæsars. He had roused the imagination of all. From being villagers they had become members of a political commonwealth, able to impose terms on one of the great powers of the earth. [7]

Oleg was a keen diplomat rather than a warrior, a ruler who, by shrewd management, brought many tribes under his sway without striking a blow. He was undoubtedly the greatest politician of pagan Russia.

In 912 Oleg died. The tradition is that some years earlier he had been warned by a wizard that the horse he was riding would cause his death. The prince dismounted at once, sent this favorite steed away to be cared for, and never rode him again. On being told that the horse was dead and his bones were bleaching in the field, he resolved to go and look at them, saying: “These wizards are always lying. The horse is dead, and I am living.” When he came to where the bones were, he pushed the skull with his foot, and exclaimed: “This was to be my death!” That instant a serpent sprang out and bit him in the leg, and straightway he sickened and died.

Igor, son of Rurik, now came to power. In 903 he had married Olga, a maiden famed for wit and beauty, and said to be the daughter of that Gostomyal who first proposed the election of Rurik. Igor’s reign had no such importance as that of his predecessor. In 941, after twenty-nine years of waiting, he made an attack on the Byzantine Empire. This attack was a failure; a mere remnant of warriors came home from it, and those brought no booty with them.

Igor resolved to find a cure for this failure, and set out for Tsargrad in 944, three years later. He went by sea, with a numerous army collected from all tribes between Lake Ladoga and the Euxine, including even Petchenegs of the southern steppe land.

The Greek Emperor sent envoys to Igor, and as he sailed near the coast they met him north of the Danube, where they delivered rich presents. “Go no farther,” said they to him. “Take the same that Oleg took, even more will be given thee.” Advised by his attendants, Igor accepted the offer, and the following year envoys were sent by him to make a treaty of commerce at Tsargrad. The treaty was made and the Emperor gave oath to observe it, then he sent envoys to Kief and Igor took the oath. Those of his men who were pagans swore by Perun, the god of thunder, and by their weapons; those who were Christians gave oath in the church of Elias. This treaty, more favorable to the Greeks than that made with Oleg, contains the phrase “Russian land,” used [8]then for the first time in history. Toward the end of that same year, 945, Igor went to the Drevlians, a forest tribe in the North-west, to collect tribute a second time. Learning of his approach, the Drevlians counseled together and said: “If a wolf attacks sheep he will devour the whole flock, unless he is killed; so this man will ruin us, unless we destroy him.” They seized Igor, bent down two trees, tied his feet to the top of one and his head to the other, then let them go; thus he was torn asunder.

The Drevlians then sent envoys to Olga to justify their action, and propose that she should marry their prince. Olga, determined to avenge her husband, answered: “Your speech is pleasing to me. To-morrow I will receive you in the presence of all my people. When my messengers come in the morning, tell them that you will not go on horseback or on foot,—that you must be carried in your boats.” When the envoys were gone, Olga had a deep pit dug in the courtyard. Next morning she sent for her guests, who came in their boats borne on the shoulders of men. The Drevlians, from their lofty position, looked down proudly on the multitude; but when they arrived at the courtyard they, with their boats, were thrown into the pit and quickly covered with earth.

Olga, keeping secret what had taken place, sent for a guard of honor to conduct her to the Drevlians. The first men of the tribe came; these she had burned up in a bath-house. Then she sent a message, saying: “I am on the road. Bring as much mead as you can to where my husband died. I wish to weep over his grave.” She came, with a part of her army, to where Igor was buried, and there she had a great mound raised, and celebrated the funeral feast. The Drevlians asked, “Where are our men?” She replied, “They are coming with my men.” The simple foresters, satisfied with this answer, went on feasting. When they had drunk themselves into helplessness, Olga’s warriors fell upon them and slew great numbers.

This vengeful widow next attacked Korosten. Unable to take it by force, she destroyed it by cunning. She sent a message to the inhabitants saying: “You have neither mead nor skins in abundance; give me a tribute of three pigeons, and as many sparrows from each house, and I will leave you in peace.” The Drevlians, pleased with this moderation, sent the birds at once. When evening came, Olga had rags steeped in oil tied to their wings [9]and ignited. The terrified creatures, set free, flew to their cots and nests, and soon every house in Korosten was in flames. The inhabitants, rushing out of the place, were either killed or captured. This was a victory of far-reaching importance, for had Olga failed to conquer the Drevlians, other tribes would have revolted, and Kief would have been lost.

Olga ruled wisely and firmly till 957, when Sviatoslav, her only son, reached manhood and succeeded his father; then she made a journey to Tsargrad, became a Christian and was baptized under the name of Helen, the Greek Emperor being her godfather. It is said that upon her return she strove to introduce Christianity into Russia, but was unsuccessful, mainly because of her son’s opposition. She, however, remained a strong advocate of the new faith and has been canonized by the Church, as the first Russian who ascended to the heavenly kingdom.

Sviatoslav, whose sole delight was in war, began his stormy rule by marching against the only Slavs east of the Dnieper, who paid him no tribute, the tribe of the Vyatichi. They were at that time tributary to the Kazars, a tribe that had issued from Northern Asia and were known to the Armenian historians as early as the second century. In the ninth century they were familiar to the Byzantines as the Eastern Turks; by the eighth century they had gained the greater part of Tauris, the present Crimea. It is not known when they first met the Slavs, but in the middle of the ninth century four Slav tribes paid tribute to the Kazars. The Kazan state itself was a composite one with four religious systems, Paganism, Mohammedanism, Judaism and Christianity. The Khan was converted to Judaism in the eighth century, and in a letter written by Khan Joseph to a Rabbi in Bagdad, he claimed to be ruler over nine nations of the Caucasus and thirteen near the Black Sea.

Sviatoslav attacked Sarkel on the Don, the chief western town and fortress of the Kazars, and captured it. Then he marched eastward to the Volga, and sailed down the river to Itil, the Kazar capital, near the northern shore of the Caspian. Itil, and all the towns of that region, were seized and plundered. Next the Russian prince marched to the foot of the Caucasus, and turned westward toward the Azoff, or “Sea Bend,” as the Russians call it. He overcame all forces that met him on the way, and established Tmutarakan, [10]with its capital at the Greek town Tamatarche, between the Azoff and the Euxine.

On his journey home from this long expedition, Sviatoslav finished what he undertook when he started: he subjected the Vyatichi on the Oká, and forced them to pay tribute. At this juncture the Greek Emperor, Nikifor, threatened on one side by the Bulgarians and on the other by the Arabs, sent envoys to Sviatoslav with much gold and many promises. “Let the Russian prince attack the Bulgarians,” said the envoys. “Let him take their land, let him keep it if he wishes.” Following this suggestion, Sviatoslav, in 967, overran the greater part of Bulgaria, and wished to remain in the country, taking Pereyaslavets on the Danube as his capital.

But while Sviatoslav was ruling Bulgaria from his place on the Danube, the Petchenegs, who had hitherto been kept down by the Kazars, rushed to Kief and laid siege to it so closely that no man could enter the city or leave it. At last means were found to inform Sviatoslav, who hurried home with men and scattered the besiegers, driving them far out into the steppe. Olga, his mother, then in old age, died three days after his coming.

Sviatoslav now instated his sons as princes in Russia. He established his eldest son, Yaropolk, in Kief; his second son, Oleg, he sent to the Drevlians; Vladimir, the third and youngest son, went to Novgorod at the request of its citizens, who were advised by Dobrinya, his uncle, to demand him of his father.

Sviatoslav, now free, went back to Bulgaria, but he did not meet the same fortune as before. The Bulgarians received him with weapons in their hands and gave battle immediately, but they were defeated, after a desperate struggle, and their town was taken by storm. Then appeared a far more formidable enemy, the Byzantine Emperor, John Zimisces, with an overwhelming army. The Russians were terrified, but Sviatoslav strengthened them, saying: “We have no escape. Whether we will or not, it has come to us to stand against the Greeks. Let us not bring an evil name upon the Russian land, but leave our bones upon the field; for the dead there is no disgrace. If we flee we shall find no hiding-place from our shame. Stand firmly together!”

A mighty struggle began. According to the Greeks, the Russians were overcome; according to the Russians, the Greeks yielded. [11]Whoever gained the victory, Sviatoslav, before leaving Bulgaria, concluded a treaty by which he agreed not to attack Byzantine territory or permit others to do so. The Emperor sent rich gifts to Sviatoslav and had an interview with him, evidently thinking the friendship of such a man better than his enmity.

Then Sviatoslav set out for Kief, sailing down the Danube and along the Black Sea to the mouth of the Dnieper, which he ascended to the cataracts. There the Petchenegs, informed by the Bulgarians of his coming, defeated his army and killed him. It is stated that the Petcheneg chief had a drinking-cup made of Sviatoslav’s skull and ornamented with this motto: “In striving for what belonged to another, thou hast lost thy own.” Thus ended the life of a man who was, without doubt, the greatest warrior amongst the descendants of Rurik.

Sviatoslav was of medium height, robust, with broad breast, blue eyes and flat nose. He wore long moustaches and had a tuft of hair on the crown of his shaven head as a mark of his nobility. Nestor describes him as being a man of honor who, when about to make war on a people, always forewarned them by the words: “I march against you!”

There was now, for the first time since the death of Rurik’s brothers, a number of princes, descendants of Rurik, in Russia. From 864 to 972, somewhat more than a century, there had been single rule all the time, but from 972 to 1480, that is, to the victory of Moscow over the principalities and over the Mongols, a period of five hundred years, there was, with only two intervals, a continual struggle between princes for supreme power.

Sviatoslav’s three sons were born of different mothers and were soon brought to enmity by advisers. As the tale runs, Svainald, an old warrior who had served the two preceding princes, was the counsellor and confidant of Yaropolk. Lyut, the son of this confidant, while hunting in a forest, encroached on Oleg’s territory, and was killed by the order of that prince. Svainald, to avenge his son’s death, incited Yaropolk against Oleg, and two years after the death of Lyut, Yaropolk invaded Oleg’s land and defeated him. While trying to escape Oleg fell from a bridge before Ovrutch and was crushed to death by his fleeing warriors, who fell on him. When the corpse was brought before Yaropolk, he was grieved and wept over it. [12]

Vladimir, on hearing in Novgorod of the battle near Ovrutch and the death of Oleg, fled to foreign parts, but returned three years later bringing with him strong forces.

Yaropolk, meanwhile, had made himself master in Russia, and, living in Kief, ruled, through a lieutenant, or posadnik, in Novgorod. Vladimir and his uncle expelled this posadnik straightway, and sent these words by him to Yaropolk: “Vladimir is marching against thee. Be ready for battle!”

The brothers now prepared to struggle for mastery. They began these preparations by searching out accessions of strength wherever they could find them. Southwest of Novgorod and northwest of Kief was the principality of Polotsk, which included the whole Dvina region, at that time ruled by Rogvolod, a man not of Rurik’s descendants, or family. This prince had a daughter, Rognyeda, betrothed then to Yaropolk. Vladimir, at the instance of Dobrinya his uncle and adviser, sent envoys to ask for this princess. This marriage would bring with it the assistance of Rogvolod.

Rogvolod had no wish to refuse, but he would not consent. When pressed for an answer, he referred the affair to his daughter.

Rognyeda was very fond of her betrothed husband, and having no thought at that time for policy, she replied that she would not marry the son of a bondslave. Vladimir was the son of Malusha, housekeeper of the great princess Olga,3 his grandmother, that “wisest of women;” Dobrinya, Vladimir’s counsellor and uncle, was Malusha’s brother and a bondman. He had already, with wise advice and assistance, won Novgorod for his nephew, and was now striving to win all Russia.

Enraged at Rognyeda’s taunt regarding his sister, Dobrinya gave answer not in words, but in action. Vladimir, following his uncle’s counsel, attacked Rogvolod straightway, killing him and his two sons in battle. He then took Rognyeda, and with her Polotsk, which he joined to his own lands. Vladimir’s next step was taken against Yaropolk, who shut himself up in his capital, which he had meanwhile strengthened.

Yaropolk’s chief counsellor in Kief was one Blud, a man who in reality wished for Vladimir’s success, and worked well in secret to help him. Vladimir now laid siege to Kief. After the siege [13]had gone on for a time, Blud proved to Yaropolk that treason was rife in the capital, and prevailed on the prince to withdraw in the night-time to Rodnya. This place was invested soon after so closely and suffered such famine that the phrase “Misery of Rodnya” was current for a long time in Russia. In these straits, Blud advised agreement with Vladimir, and Yaropolk set out for his brother’s headquarters, where the meeting was to take place, but when near the door of his tent, two Varangians with sharp swords sprang from behind it, and hewed the man’s head off.

Vladimir was now master. He was one of those powerful, determined characters who found primitive states: large in person, self-willed, shrewd, with strong impulses and limitless activity.

Russia was pagan at that time, but there were a few Christians in Kief, and some writers think Yaropolk himself was on that side. In that case, Vladimir’s triumph over his brother was in the first instance a victory for primitive ideas. At all events, there came in with Vladimir a greater activity in the ancient religion, and for some time the new prince was its leader. After he began to reign rich statues of the gods were set up, sacrifices were more frequent and much energy was displayed in order to give the paganism of the Slavs a dignity and significance equal to that of the religions by which it was surrounded.

Though the tribes inhabiting Russia had the same pagan religion, there were many local variations. It was a religion in a more elementary stage than that of the Aryan settlers of India, when the earliest Vedas were composed. It was simply an aggregation of beliefs, superstitions, customs and festivals; the elements of religion not yet grown into a system.

Vladimir saw at last that a new religion was necessary to consolidate the tribes under his rule. His efforts to create one were in vain, for he could no more have created a religion by edict than he could have so created a language. They are both growths requiring time and certain processes. Convinced of this fact, all that was left to the Russian prince was to change the religion of the country to one of those by which he was surrounded, and this he resolved to do immediately. In religion Vladimir’s action resembled that of Peter, Russia’s modern industrial reformer, who, some centuries later, feeling that Russia must use the appliances [14]and methods of modern activity, or others would use them against her, strove to introduce them himself. Vladimir determined to find a religion himself, to bring it in himself, so that no power outside might be master in Russia by means of it.

The account of this conversion is so characteristic that I have translated it from Nestor, the first Russian chronicler. He says: “About this time different missionaries came to Vladimir. First the Mohammedans in 986, and they said: ‘You are wise and full of judgment, but you do not know the law. Believe in our law, and revere Mohammed.’ Vladimir asked: ‘What is your faith?’ ‘We believe in God, and Mohammed teaches us, saying: “Do not eat pork, do not drink wine.” Mohammed will give each man seventy wives.’ Vladimir listened, for he was a lover of women, and for him it was pleasant to hear this, but he did not like to hear of the prohibition of wine and of pork, and he said: “In Russia, wine is gladness; we cannot get on without that.”

“Afterward the Germans came, saying: ‘We are from the Pope, and this is his message: “Thy land is like our land, but thy faith is not like our faith. Our faith is light, and we bow down before God, who made the heavens and the earth, the stars and the moon, and created every breathing thing; but your gods are of wood.’

“Vladimir then asked: ‘What are your commandments?’ And they answered: ‘Fasting in proportion to a man’s power, but if any one eats or drinks let it be for the glory of God, as our teacher, Paul, declared.’ Then Vladimir said to the Germans: ‘Go your way; our fathers did not receive this law.

“The Jews, hearing of these missions, came and said: ‘We have learned that Mohammedans and Christians have come, each teaching his own faith. Him in whom the Christians believe we crucified. We believe in the one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Vladimir asked: ‘What is your law?’ and they said: ‘To be circumcised; not to eat pork or rabbits; to observe the Sabbath.’ Then he asked: ‘But where is your land?’ ‘In Jerusalem.’ ‘Is it indeed there?’ They answered: ‘God became angry with our fathers and scattered them through the nations on account of our sins, and our land was given to the Christians.’ Then Vladimir asked: ‘How is it that you teach others when you are yourselves outcasts rejected of God? If God loved you and [15]your law, he would not have scattered you through strange lands. Do you think to bring this evil on us, too?’

“Then the Greeks sent a philosopher to Vladimir, who told him that the Mohammedans defiled the earth, that they were cursed above all people, and were like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, whom God destroyed with fire from heaven and overwhelmed in the Dead Sea. That a like day of destruction awaits the Mohammedans when the Lord shall come to judge the earth and destroy all who work unlawful things. Vladimir said: ‘The Jews came to me and declared that the God of the Greeks and the Germans is the man whom they crucified.’ The philosopher replied: ‘That was foretold by the Prophets. The Lord took upon Himself death by the cross at the hands of the Jews, and arose from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven. To His executioners forty-six years were given for repentance, but not repenting, the Romans were sent against them to destroy their cities and scatter them over the face of the earth, where they now wander.’ Vladimir asked: ‘For what cause did God come down upon the earth and suffer such torments?’ The philosopher replied: ‘If you wish, I will tell you all from the beginning.’ Vladimir answered: ‘I am glad to listen.’ And the Greek told him all from the creation of the world.

“In 987 Vladimir called a council composed of his chief men and the elders of the towns and said to them: ‘The Mohammedans came to me, saying: ‘Receive our law;’ then the Germans came and praised their law. Afterward came the Jews, and last the Greeks, with other laws; all praised their own faith. The Greeks explained everything from the beginning of the world, and spoke with great skill. It was wonderful to hear them and pleasant to listen to their words. They say there is another world, and whoever accepts their faith, after he dies he will rise from the dead, and then he shall not die again forever; but he who receives another law will burn in fire in the other world. To which do you give your mind?’ They answered: ‘You know, Prince, that no one belittles his own, but praises it. If you wish to know all religions well, you have men, send them to examine the religion of each country, and how each people serve God.’

“Their speech was pleasing to the prince, and to the people. They chose good and sensible men, ten in number, and said to them, [16]‘Go first to the Mohammedans and try their religion.’ They went and saw the foul deeds of the Mohammedans, and came home. Then Vladimir said: ‘Go to the Germans, and also to Tsargrad.’ After visiting the Germans, they arrived at Tsargrad and stood before the Tsar. He asked the cause of their coming, and they told him all that had happened. The Tsar was rejoiced, and showed them great honor that day. Next morning there was a patriarchal service. A deacon was placed near the envoys to explain the worship of God, and they wondered greatly, and marveled, praising the service.

“Upon their return to Kief, Vladimir called together his chief men, with the elders of the towns, and said: ‘Behold, the men whom we sent have returned to us. Let us hear what has taken place. Let it be spoken before the warriors.’ The envoys said: ‘We went to the Mohammedans, we saw how they prayed in the mosques, without girdles, and how, having bowed down, they looked on one side and on the other like madmen. There is no joy in their temples, but sadness and great uncleanness. Their law is not good. We went to the Germans and saw much ceremony in their churches; then we went to the Greeks, and when they led us into the place where they serve their God, we knew not whether we were in heaven, or upon earth, for in the world there is not such a sight, or such beauty. We know not how to describe it, we only know that it is there that God meets man. Their service is beyond the service of all lands. We are not able to forget that beauty. A man who has tasted the sweet will not afterward accept the bitter, hence we do not wish to remain where we are!’

“Then the chief men said to Vladimir: ‘If the law of the Greeks were bad your grandmother Olga would not have received it, for she was the wisest among men.’ Vladimir asked: ‘Where shall we receive baptism?’ And they answered: ‘Where it pleaseth thee.’ ”

While Vladimir had decided to embrace Christianity, he had resolved at the same time to avoid even the semblance of moral subjection to any foreign power. He therefore set about acquiring religion by conquest. For that purpose he led an expedition against the Crimea and captured Kerson,4 the capital of the ancient republic [17]of that name, and at that time the most flourishing city on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Then he sent a message to the Greek Emperors, demanding their sister Anna in marriage. They answered that their sister could not marry a pagan. Vladimir replied that religion could be no bar, for he had long since made up his mind not only to receive Christianity himself, but to introduce it into his domains, and if the requisite number of priests were sent in the suite of the princess there need be no delay, but that if they did not consent to his proposal, he would march on Tsargrad, and treat it as he had treated Kerson. This threat had the desired effect, for at that time the Eastern Empire was torn with civil war. The Emperors hastened to avert the chance of Vladimir’s favoring their enemies, and sent the Princess Anna to Kerson. A large number of church dignitaries accompanied her. Vladimir, with his whole army, was baptized and the marriage was celebrated without delay. A part of the Russian force was despatched to assist the Emperors, and Vladimir returned to Kief, after restoring Kerson as a friendly gift to his brothers-in-law.

On his arrival at Kief, the newly converted prince overturned the ancient idols. Some were cut into pieces, others were cast into the fire, but the statue of Perun (the Vedic Parjana), the god of thunder, the Slavonic Jupiter, was tied to the tails of horses and dragged from its height to the river. Twelve men were sent to beat it with sticks, not because the wood could feel, but to insult the Devil, since by this image he had seduced man. When dragged to the river the image was hurled into the water, and Vladimir commanded men to push it out into the current, should it touch the shore anywhere. It was borne on the stream and carried over the cataracts, and the wind blew it far away toward the Black Sea.

Then heralds were sent through the city saying: “Who will not be baptized, be he rich or poor, he will be hateful to me.” Vladimir went down with all the priests to the Dnieper. Great multitudes stood in the water, and the priests prayed and baptized them. Nestor says: “There was joy upon earth and in heaven, for many souls were saved that day.” After the sacred rite the people went their way, each man to his own home. In a like manner the inhabitants of each village and settlement were brought to Christianity, and Vladimir ordered churches to be built on the places where idols had been. After Kief, the turn came for the tribes east and [18]west, as well as north. In Novgorod, where the old beliefs had their stronghold, the opposition was greatest, and when the first church was built the people tore it down straightway, but a skilful mingling of persuasion and force, together with the adhesion of the more important citizens, carried the day, and all Russia in time became Christian. Of course paganism lived on for many a year among the common people, as it did in other countries, and traces of it are still to be found in the folk-songs and different religious beliefs, survivals which are extremely interesting to the historian and philosopher.

This sending of an embassy of wise men to examine and report on various religions, so that prince and people might have means of making the best choice, was a remarkable departure from previous methods, and stands quite alone in the history of European Christianity. It was the exact opposite of the method used south of the Baltic,—a method which gave such great profit to invaders.

All Slav tribes between the Elbe and the Nieman, the Baltic and Bohemia lost independence, language, and race through the method by which Christianity was forced on them by Germans. If there were men among the conquered and Christianized who escaped, they were men who made themselves useful as assistant oppressors, and thus were received into the foreign aristocracy.

Christianity, introduced first into Kief and then into Novgorod, extended later on the east and west of the Dnieper till, after Yaroslav’s day, it occupied all regions held by Russian princes.

Vladimir had what the Russians love in a man: a broad nature. Occupied with serious work, he still found time for feasts. The celebration of victories and the consecration of churches were always accompanied by great banquets. These festivals took the place of pagan holidays. In all the songs of Vladimir’s time the feasts of the “Bright Sun of the Russian land” are ever remembered. So firmly did these ballads fix themselves in the popular mind, that not many years ago Hilferding, the president of the Slavonic Society at St. Petersburg, collected in the course of two months enough to fill an octavo volume of eight hundred double columns.

Vladimir’s rule in Russia was firm and unconquerable; no enemy was able to shake it. On the east he extended his power to all places reached by the princes before him; on the west his possessions touched the river San, and included the Dvina region. It [19]is difficult to overestimate the importance of this remarkable man’s activity, but it is by his greatest work that Vladimir is best remembered. Before he introduced Christianity, the different tribes had been held together by merely material bonds; thenceforth they were united by a common faith. There is no tie so strong as the tie of faith, and in no country has it shown more strength than in Russia.

Vladimir died in 1015, leaving twelve sons and also a nephew, or son, namely Sviatopolk. These sons were from various mothers, and great trouble rose quickly among them. Sviatopolk, whom people called “the sinful son of two fathers,” could claim Vladimir’s heritage as a nephew of Vladimir, and son of Yaropolk. He was the only one of the heirs who was in Kief when the prince died, and he claimed the throne at once by virtue of his seniority.

Vladimir had preferred two of his younger sons, Boris and Glaib, to the others, partly it may be because they were better, as he thought, and partly also because they were born of the Greek princess, Anna, to whom he was married as a Christian. Boris was perhaps his favorite, and this son he wished to succeed him as Grand Prince.

Sviatopolk looked on himself no doubt as the son of Yaropolk, whom he had reason to think of as done to death foully by Vladimir. His mother, who not long before his birth had been the betrothed wife of Yaropolk, may have schooled him touching his father. Of this we are not informed, though it seems very probable. In every case, Sviatopolk acted as if moved by keen hatred, though his motive might have been purely ambition. Acting swiftly, he seized the throne of Kief straightway, summoned the people, spoke fairly, and gave presents on all sides; then he found men to slay the sons of Vladimir. First they killed Boris, and then Glaib. Another son fled westward toward Hungary, but was followed and killed in the Carpathians.

Yaroslav, Vladimir’s fourth son, was prince in Novgorod. This city had been paying Kief a yearly tax of two hundred grievens. The tax, paid at all times unwillingly, was refused altogether during Yaroslav’s rule. Vladimir had been preparing to punish his son, and force payment on Novgorod, when he died rather suddenly. Yaroslav, to defend Novgorod against his father, had brought in Varangians to help him. Those men, as is the [20]wont of such persons, grew insolent quickly and were offensive to Novgorod women. Certain people rose up and slew some of those warriors. Yaroslav, to defend his men, put to death the offenders. The very night after this deed, a message came to the prince from his sister, Predslava, in Kief, giving notice of the death of his father and of all that had happened in the city.

Next morning Yaroslav summoned the people of Novgorod, and with tears in his eyes made this speech to them: “If I could, I would raise up with gold those men who fell yesterday. My father is dead, and now Sviatopolk is master. He is killing my brothers. Give me help to meet Sviatopolk and avenge these murders.”

“Though some of our brothers are dead, we have men enough yet to stand up and fight for thee,” said the people of Novgorod.

Sviatopolk, taking all of his own warriors and many Petchenegs, hurried northward to strike down Yaroslav if possible. The two armies met near Lubetch, and Yaroslav gained a great victory.

Sviatopolk fled to Poland, where his wife’s father, Boleslav the Brave, was then sovereign, and Yaroslav marched into Kief, and began rule there. The Polish king took the part of his son-in-law, and after various efforts, in which Petchenegs of the steppe were on Sviatopolk’s side, and Henry of Germany on Yaroslav’s, Boleslav, adding to his own men German and Hungarian mercenaries, led in a great force against Kief, defeated Yaroslav, and the fratricide was in power again. The king now sent home one half of his army, but lingered behind with the rest of it, which was scattered about for subsistence in different towns and villages. Sviatopolk soon tired of his ally, and then the people on whom Boleslav’s warriors were quartered rose up and slew many of them. The Polish king left at last, bearing with him much treasure. On the way to his own lands, he took Galitch5 as the price for ridding Kief of his presence. No sooner was Boleslav fairly at home, than a fierce northern storm rushed down upon Sviatopolk.

Expecting no good to their city from Sviatopolk the Accursed, who would surely exact the old tribute, the Novgorod people rallied round Yaroslav, and, hiring foreign troops, took the field themselves. Sviatopolk was beaten in the first battle, and fled to [21]the Petchenegs, from whom he obtained a large army. A second battle was fought and, as fate would have it, at the place where Boris had been slain. Three times the armies paused in the struggle, and three times they closed in mortal combat, but, before the sun went down, Yaroslav had become master of the field. This battle ruined Sviatopolk. He fled straightway toward the Polish boundary, and after miserable wanderings perished. It is unknown where death came to him, or in what manner.

Of Vladimir’s twelve sons, only three were now living, Yaroslav, Mystislav, and Sudislav. There was also a nephew, Bryacheslav. The throne of Kief came to Yaroslav without a rival, for since Bryacheslav’s father had never sat on the throne, his son could not hold it. Mystislav and Sudislav were younger brothers and were excluded till Yaroslav’s death, unless he should give place to them. Younger brothers, however, claimed equal shares in the common inheritance, but these were held back by Yaroslav. He kept for himself the shares of his brothers who were dead, and gave nothing to the survivors.

The youngest, Sudislav, took no action, but Mystislav came promptly from Tmutarakan with an army to ask for the share that belonged, as he thought, to him. While Yaroslav was absent in Novgorod, Mystislav appeared before Kief, but the people there closed the gates firmly against him. He went then to Chernigoff and took it. Yaroslav hired warriors immediately, and with them and those he already had set out to find and punish Mystislav.

The two brothers met at Listven, somewhat west of Chernigoff, where Mystislav made an attack. He forced the battle at night during a terrible thunder-storm, and, knowing his ground well, defeated Yaroslav, who fled to Novgorod.

Though Mystislav had won, he sought only that which he held to be his own, and which he had demanded at first; he would not take Kief from an elder brother. He sent this message to Yaroslav: “Remain in thy Kief. Give me what is east of the Dnieper.” On that basis they settled, and the following year Yaroslav entered Kief with a large army.

Mystislav of Chernigoff had one son, who died in 1032. He himself died in 1035, while out hunting.

Sudislav, Yaroslav’s youngest brother, ruled in Pskoff and did nothing to win more dominion. But in 1035, Yaroslav put him [22]in prison and kept him there. The chronicler states that men calumniated Sudislav, asserting that he was dissatisfied at not receiving a share in the lands of his dead brothers. The nephew, Bryacheslav of Polotsk, was more fortunate; he made himself unendurable, nay, dangerous, and, in view of this, Yaroslav added to Polotsk the two cities of Vitebsk and Usvyat.

While ruling in Novgorod, Yaroslav had struggled against tribute to Kief. Now, as Grand Prince, he gave that city a charter of freedom from tribute, and sent there as prince Vladimir, his eldest son. When Vladimir died, some two years later, he sent Izyaslav, another son. Because of these sons, Yaroslav quarreled with Kosnyatin, his grand-uncle, son of Dobrinya. We have seen how Dobrinya, the uncle of Vladimir, had made this son of Malusha, his sister, prince in Novgorod, and somewhat later Grand Prince of Russia.

Kosnyatin was a man of distinction in Novgorod, who fought devotedly for Yaroslav during his struggles with Sviatopolk. Kosnyatin was now imprisoned by Yaroslav, who put him to death two years later. The cause of this seemingly ungrateful treatment is not known, but doubtless Kosnyatin, demanding too much for himself and for Novgorod, opposed the prince as energetically as he had formerly fought for him. In other words, he encroached on the sovereignty of Yaroslav, and his actions became of the kind which rulers of states treat as criminal, and which they meet with one answer at all times and places,—that answer is permanent removal.

Yaroslav the Lawgiver, the man who completed the foundation of the ancient Russian state, ascended the throne in 1016 and ruled for thirty-eight years. This was the most prosperous period of ancient Russia. The hordes of the steppes were kept in subjection, and about one third of Finland added to Russia, who thus held both sides of the water highway on the north. But Yaroslav’s claims to the title of a great ruler rest on another basis. He was a legislator, an administrator, a founder of cities. He framed the first code of laws, the famous Russkaya Pravda, or Russian Right; he carried on the most orderly government known till that day. In the restoration of boundaries and in internal improvements his activity was not less important. He recovered Galitch, which Boleslav of Poland had seized on his way home from his [23]campaign with Sviatopolk the Accursed. He founded many towns and cities, two of which are well known in our time, Yaroslavl on the Volga, and Yurieff, now Dorpat. Wishing Kief to rival Tsargrad, he spent much of the revenue exacted from tributary peoples in adorning his capital. He established the first school in the north, at Novgorod, a school for three hundred students. He concluded more alliances and maintained a more extended intercourse with European sovereigns than any prince of ancient Russia. His later wars were mostly with the Petchenegs, those robbers of the steppe who had made a drinking-cup of his grandfather’s skull, and he at last succeeded in crushing them so completely that they never again took up arms against him, and even their name finally disappeared. All his children were from one mother, Ingigerd of Sweden. One of his daughters married King Andrew of Hungary; another became the wife of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway; a third, Anna, married Henry I of France and took with her the beautiful missal afterwards used in the Cathedral of Rheims at the coronation of the French kings. When Peter the Great visited that city in 1717, the missal was shown him as of the rarest antiquity, no one even knowing the language in which it was written. To the astonishment of all present, the Emperor exclaimed: “Why, this is my own Slavonic,” and he began to read in a loud voice. This missal, a masterpiece of penmanship, and one of the most ancient specimens of Slavonic writing, was copied no doubt under the supervision of Yaroslav himself.

Yaroslav died in 1054. He was not such a favorite with the multitude as his father, Vladimir, had been. He was more austere in character, a subtle-brained ruler of men, wise and far-seeing, but unbending, better fitted to inspire respect than love. The chronicler says of him: “Yaroslav was in his place. He was lame, but his mind was not halt. He was brave in war, he was a Christian, and read books.” He built many churches, among them Saint Sophia, the admiration of Kief, and Saint Sophia of Novgorod, a precious monument of ancient Russia.

Yaroslav, knowing well the evils of civil war, arranged the succession as follows. The eldest son was to rule at Kief, with the title of Grand Prince; the other sons were to have each a principality, proportioned in accordance to his age. On the death of the Prince of Kief, he was to be succeeded by his next brother, who, [24]on his decease, would be followed by the next to him, and so on to the youngest, whose heir was the eldest son of the eldest brother, or first Prince of Kief. In the second generation, the succession was to continue as in the first. This system was evidently copied from that of the Slavonic households, where it might operate well enough, because a younger brother held no position during the life of the elder. But in the ruling family each member governed a certain territory, and when the Prince of Kief died, there was a change all around, each ruler moving a step higher in the scale. The result was continual shifting, disorder, and civil war.

Yaroslav left five sons, and a number of grandsons, whose fathers were dead. To the sons he gave principalities; to the grandsons he left nothing; they must depend upon the kindness of their uncles; they were really excluded from sovereignty, and became in fact common people.

Before death Yaroslav enjoined mutual love on all his sons, and on the younger obedience to Izyaslav, the eldest, who would be to them in the place of a father. To Izyaslav he gave Kief, saying to him: “If any of thy brothers offend another, do thou protect the offended man.”

Besides Kief, Izyaslav was prince also in Novgorod, hence the road from the Baltic to the Greeks was at his command.

Sviatoslav, the second son, received Chernigoff with Ryazan, Murom, and Tmutarakan, beyond the Sea of Azoff. Vsevolod, the third son, received Pereyaslavl, Suzdal and Bailo-Ozero; the fourth son, Vyacheslav, got Smolensk, and the fifth, Igor, Volynia with its capital, Vladimir. Rostislav, son of Vladimir, Yaroslav’s eldest son, who died before his father, received from his uncles Rostoff, situated in the middle of Vsevolod’s territory.

In this division of Russia the best principality, Kief, went to the eldest son; the second in value, Chernigoff, to the second son, and so on. The idea was to give each prince a place whose income corresponded to his rank in the scale of seniority. Kief, besides its superior income, carried with it the sovereignty of Russia.

Let us follow the working of this system. In 1057, three years after Yaroslav’s death, died the fourth brother, Vyacheslav of Smolensk, leaving one son. Igor of Volynia was transferred to Smolensk by his brothers, and Rostislav, the nephew, was [25]moved from Rostoff to Volynia. In 1060 Igor died in Smolensk, leaving sons also. The remaining three brothers gave Smolensk neither to Igor’s sons, nor to Rostislav, to whom, by the established order, it would belong.

Rostislav, enraged at his uncles, found daring spirits in Novgorod to help him, among others Vyshata, son of Ostromir, the posadnik. With these men he set out for Tmutarakan to find warriors and win by the sword that which, as he thought, belonged to him.

In 1058 the four surviving brothers freed their uncle Sudislav from prison, where Yaroslav, his brother, had kept him for eighteen years. They took from him an oath to act in no way against them. Old and childless, he entered a monastery, and died five years later.

Rostislav now took Tmutarakan from Glaib, son of Sviatoslav. Sviatoslav hurried to help his son, and, as Rostislav did not resist his uncle, Glaib was put back into power very promptly. No sooner was Sviatoslav at home, however, than Glaib was driven out a second time by Rostislav, who now settled down firmly and with a purpose. He began at once to extend his dominion along the Caucasus, and was rapidly gaining power to use against his uncles, when the Greeks of the Chersonese poisoned him, and Glaib took his old place again unhindered.

The three sons of Yaroslav were rid now of their nephew, but they had a cousin who began to give them much trouble. This cousin was Vseslav of Polotsk, grandson of Izyaslav, the eldest brother of Yaroslav the Lawgiver. This Vseslav was known to be desperate in battle, and swift beyond any man in marching. People believed him born through enchantment, they thought him a real devil’s son, who could turn to a gray wolf and race in one night from the Caucasus to Novgorod. This so called “wizard,” excluded from the sovereign circle, now began war in defense of rights which to him, the great-grandson of Vladimir the Apostle, might indeed seem well founded.

In 1065 the wizard attacked Pskoff, meeting with no success, but the following year he entered Novgorod, captured many people, took down the great bell of Sophia, seized church ornaments and hurried away. “Immense was the misery of that day,” states the chronicler. Izyaslav and his brothers pursued Vseslav during terrible cold, for the time was midwinter. On the road [26]they halted at Minsk. The people had shut themselves up in the stronghold; so they stormed the stronghold and captured it, cutting down all defenders, sparing only women and children as captives.

They followed Vseslav till early in March, when they overtook him, and notwithstanding a blinding snow-storm, there was a terrible battle. Many fell on both sides. Vseslav was defeated, but he escaped, as he always did, because of his swiftness and “magic.”

The following summer, Izyaslav invited the “evil wizard” to a council of peace and kissed the cross not to harm him. Vseslav, with his two sons, passed over the Dnieper, but when he entered Izyaslav’s tent he was seized, though a wizard, and imprisoned; his sons were imprisoned also.

The Prince of Kief and his brothers had rest now from relatives. But some great calamity was coming, every one felt it; there were portents on all sides. A bloody star appeared in the sky and remained a whole month there; the sun was as pale as the moon; a deformed fish had been caught, enormous and dreadful to look at.

While all men were convinced that some terror was approaching, and were waiting in fear to see what it might be, the Polovtsi, a new scourge, appeared. They had conquered the Petchenegs and were now ready to harass Russia. Kazars, Torks and Petchenegs had preceded them in this office, but the Polovtsi were Russia’s direst foes thus far.

In 1055 the Polovtsi had crossed the boundary of Pereyaslavl, but made peace and then vanished. In 1059 Vsevolod attacked a certain Tork force, which he crushed. In 1060 a “countless host” was led against those Tork opponents, who, informed of the movement, hurried off to the steppe, but were followed. The princes killed many and seized numbers more of them. The captives were settled in towns to do service. Those Torks who succeeded in escaping died in the steppe from frost, hunger and hardship. The Torks were now finished, as were also the Petchenegs, but the Polovtsi succeeded both, as attackers of Russia.

In 1061 these people appeared in large numbers. Vsevolod met them immediately, but he was vanquished. They took what they pleased and rushed off to the steppe again. In 1068 a still greater host came. The three Russian princes met this host, and [27]fought bravely, but were badly defeated and fled, Izyaslav with his brother Vsevolod to Kief; and Sviatoslav to Chernigoff.

All men in Kief were enraged at Izyaslav. Some demanded arms, and others a prince who would lead them successfully against the Polovtsi. They rushed to the prison, freed Vseslav the wizard, and made him Grand Prince immediately. Izyaslav, to save his life, hastened westward to Poland. The Polovtsi advanced to Chernigoff, where Sviatoslav met the plundering host and crushed it.

Seven months after his flight, Izyaslav appeared before Kief with a numerous army commanded by Boleslav the Bold, King of Poland. Vseslav went forth to meet him, and it is told of him that, since he could hope for no favor from Vsevolod or Sviatoslav against Izyaslav, their brother, the wizard became a gray wolf in the night-time and vanished. In fact he fled. The army, deserted by its leader, returned to Kief and sent the following message to Sviatoslav and Vsevolod: “Unless ye save Kief from the Poles, we will burn it and go to the land of the Greeks.” “We will warn our brother,” replied Sviatoslav, “we will not permit him to enter the city with large forces.”

Izyaslav, warned by his brothers, came with only a part of the army, was received and took his place as of old in the capital. As soon as he left the Kief army, Vseslav hurried off to Polotsk and took possession of that city.

Once well reinstated in Kief, Izyaslav attacked Vseslav, expelled him from Polotsk, and placed there Mystislav, his own son. When that son died he sent another one, Sviatopolk. Vseslav, meanwhile, went to the Chuds (Fins), assembled a large force among them, and attacked Novgorod, but he was again unsuccessful. Fresh warriors, however, flocked to the wizard, who drove Sviatopolk from Polotsk, which he held now successfully, and with firmness.

Izyaslav, having failed to subdue the wizard, decided to act alone, and negotiate with him. He asked no aid from his brothers; he could not well do so, for Sviatoslav the Strong was unfriendly, was in reality plotting against Izyaslav, working to make himself master of Kief at the earliest moment. Dissatisfied Kief men, and victims of Izyaslav’s anger, found refuge with Sviatoslav, who turned now to Vsevolod, his brother, and said: “Izyaslav [28]is plotting with the wizard against us. Unless we expel him from Kief at once, he will drive us both from our places.” The two brothers took action and Izyaslav was forced to leave Kief for the second time.

Sviatoslav became Grand Prince and gave Chernigoff to Vsevolod. Izyaslav now went to Poland. He gave immense presents to Boleslav the Bold and to magnates, who did naught to assist him, but in the end told him that he would better go elsewhere. He journeyed then to Mainz and asked aid of Henry IV, the same Emperor who went to Canossa. He gave presents to Henry and begged help against Sviatoslav and Vsevolod. Henry, pleased by this recognition of his power by a Grand Prince of Russia, sent an embassy straightway to Kief to demand reinstatement for Izyaslav.

The Polish king and Henry were enemies at this time, hence Sviatoslav made a treaty at once with the king, and sent Oleg, his own son, with Monomach, son of Vsevolod, to assist him. Henry’s efforts were vain, so Izyaslav’s son visited Rome to beg aid of Gregory, the seventh of that name, the strong Pope who forced Henry IV to stand thinly clad in the cold at Canossa.

The Russian prince declared that his father was ready to recognize papal supremacy, if Gregory would only restore Kief to him. The Pope wrote at once to the Polish king, touching the gifts which he had taken from Izyaslav before sending him out of the country.

At this juncture Henry’s ally, the Bohemian king, Vratislav, heard that two Russian princes were coming with warriors to attack him. He asked peace of Boleslav, and obtained it for one thousand grievens in silver. Boleslav then directed Oleg and Monomach to return, as peace had been concluded. They replied that they could not go back without shame, unless they won honor. Hence they advanced to get honor. During four months they “went through” Vratislav’s land—to “go through” means to ravage. Vratislav then gave them a thousand grievens in silver for peace. They made peace, and returned home with the money—and with honor.

The Polish king, angered by Oleg and Monomach, and roused by Pope Gregory, promised to help Izyaslav, and began an advance on Kief. Meanwhile Sviatoslav died, and Vsevolod set out with [29]forces to meet Boleslav, but upon reaching Volynia he made peace, yielding in favor of Izyaslav, who became Grand Prince for the third time, and Vsevolod returned to Chernigoff. There was trouble on all sides, however.

In 1076, during winter, Monomach hastened to Novgorod to help Glaib against Vseslav the wizard, who was raiding and would give no rest at any time unless that which he claimed was assured him. Some months later Monomach was joined by his father, Vsevolod, and they marched against Vseslav, taking with them Polovtsi warriors, employed now for the first time in conflicts between princes. They made an attack, but could not crush Vseslav; he was too swift in his movements. They could lay waste to the country, but could not conquer the wizard, or stop him. They could only watch and then ward off the blows which he struck at one point or another.

But from the east still greater troubles were approaching. Vladimir, Sviatoslav, Vyacheslav and Igor, four sons of Yaroslav, were now dead, all leaving sons to whom their uncles would give no land. After Sviatoslav’s death in 1076, and when Vsevolod had gone to meet Izyaslav and yield Kief to him, Boris, a son of Vyacheslav, seized the throne of Chernigoff, but retained it only eight days. Then he sped away to Tmutarakan, where Roman, son of Sviatoslav, was ruler. There were five of those sons of Sviatoslav, who held good lands while their father was Grand Prince, but after his death they were driven from the lands by Izyaslav, their uncle. Glaib was forced to leave Novgorod and lost his life in the north among Fins. Oleg, driven from Volynia, turned first to Vsevolod, his uncle, but when he could get no assistance from him he went to Tmutarakan, in search of men to aid him. Meanwhile, Izyaslav and Vsevolod gave all disposable lands to their own sons.

Two years later, 1078, Oleg and his cousin Boris led an army of Polovtsi and others to Chernigoff, where they attacked Vsevolod and defeated him. Vsevolod turned then to Izyaslav for assistance, and the two princes, with Yaropolk and Monomach, their sons, marched against Oleg and his cousin. Boris was killed in the front of the battle, and a spear went through the body of Izyaslav, the Grand Prince. Though these two princes fell, the battle continued till Oleg’s forces were broken and he was swept from [30]the field, escaping with great difficulty. Thus one son and one grandson of Yaroslav fell in this desperate struggle between uncles and nephews (October, 1078).

Now Vsevolod, the last son of Yaroslav the Lawgiver, became Grand Prince, and the difficulties before him were enormous.

As already stated, Yaroslav the Lawgiver had six sons: Vladimir, Izyaslav, Sviatoslav, Vyacheslav, Igor and Vsevolod. Vladimir, the eldest son, had died before his father’s death, and had left one son, Rostislav, poisoned afterward in Tmutarakan by the Greeks of Chersonese. Rostislav had three sons: Rurik, Volodar and Vassilko. Rurik died early, Volodar and Vassilko lived long and caused much trouble.

Vyacheslav, the fourth son of the Lawgiver, died Prince of Smolensk, leaving one son, Boris, who fell, as we have seen, on the battle-field with Izyaslav, his uncle. Igor, the fifth son, had died young, leaving one son, David. Vsevolod, the sixth son, was now Prince of Russia. Of Sviatoslav’s sons, four were living, Oleg, Roman, David and Yaroslav. Seven descendants of Yaroslav the Lawgiver were excluded, besides Vseslav, the wizard of Polotsk, who demanded equal rights with the sons of Yaroslav, and would not give peace till he got them.

On assuming power in Kief, Vsevolod gave Chernigoff to his son Monomach, and to Yaropolk, son of Izyaslav, he gave Volynia. He gave nothing to any of the dissatisfied princes. This conduct roused Oleg, whose father had been Grand Prince in Kief with the aid and consent of Vsevolod, given either by constraint or freely. So in 1079 Oleg sent his brother, Roman, with an army of Polovtsi to war against Vsevolod, who met him, but made peace with the Polovtsi by giving value in hand without fighting. As Roman had nothing to give them, save a promise of plunder for which they must fight, the Polovtsi dropped Roman’s cause and killed him. Then they went home, seized Oleg and gave him to the Greeks of the Chersonese, who sent him in fetters to Rhodes in the Archipelago. Ratibor was sent by Vsevolod as posadnik to Tmutarakan, and he ruled there till David, son of Igor, with Vassilko and Volodar, sons of Rostislav, came the following year, drove him out of Tmutarakan and governed in their own way. Oleg, who had fled from his exile, appeared a year later, confined [31]the three princes, and put those Polovtsi to death who slew Roman. Later on he freed the princes, who had now to seek for lands in other places.

In 1084 Rostislav’s son’s, Vassilko and Volodar, disappeared from Volynia, where they had been living with Yaropolk. Disappeared, but returned with an army and drove away Yaropolk. Monomach now, at command of his father, marched against those two princes, expelled them and reinstated Yaropolk after much fighting and effort.

David, son of Igor, used means of another sort. He remained for a time in Tmutarakan, then he went with warriors to the mouth of the Dnieper, stopped all merchants trading with Tsargrad and took their wares from them. This put an end to commerce with the Byzantine Empire. Vsevolod’s treasury suffered immediately and he was obliged to come to terms. He gave David a part of Volynia, and commerce with Tsargrad was free again.

Yaropolk, deeply offended by this gift to David, which decreased his own lands, began to enlist men and make ready for warfare. Vsevolod, upon learning of this, sent his son, Vladimir Monomach, to attack Yaropolk, but that prince had fled to Poland, leaving wife, mother and treasures in Lutsk. An attack was made upon Lutsk, which surrendered to Monomach, who captured Yaropolk’s family with attendants and treasures and established David, son of Igor, as ruler of all Volynia.

At this time Galitch was won, as it seems, by the sons of Rostislav. They seized it from the Polish king, who was friendly with Yaropolk.

The following year, 1086, Yaropolk came back from Poland, made peace with Monomach and was again seated in Volynia. Still his lands could not have been of great use to him, since soon after his coming he set out for Zvenigorod. He was slain on the road by a man named Neradets, who escaped and took refuge with Rurik, son of Rostislav, in Galitch.

That same year Vsevolod moved against Volodar and Vassilko, but in the end made peace with them. After that there was rest for a time in Volynia. But there was sharp trouble with Vseslav the wizard, who at Vsevolod’s accession had “scorched” Smolensk, that is burned it, all save the stronghold. Monomach [32]hunted him swiftly with men doubly mounted,6 but the wizard escaped. A second hunt followed, by men from Chernigoff and Polovtsi allies. On the way they took Minsk by surprise, and left not a man or beast in the city. [33]

1 The tomb of Askold is still shown near Kief. 

2 The city of the Tsar, or Cæsar, that is Constantinople, so called for the first Christian Emperor, Constantine. 

3 Olga was the mother of Sviatoslav and thus the grandmother of Vladimir. 

4 Ruins of this city still exist near Sevastopol. Among the ruins is a church said to be the one in which Vladimir received baptism. 

5 The present Galicia. 

6 Men riding one horse and leading another. 




In 1093 Vsevolod died at the age of sixty-four. His successor was Sviatopolk, son of Izyaslav, a weak and worthless man. Then came trouble and turmoil. “Those were days,” an old song says, “when strife was sown, when it grew as grain in the field grows, when men’s lives were shortened by princes’ struggles, when the cry of the earth-tiller was heard only rarely, but often the scream of the crows wrangling over corpses.” Monomach, the bravest and ablest of all the descendants of Yaroslav, might have taken the Kief throne had he wished, since the Kief people begged him to do so, but he feared civil war and refused, saying: “Sviatopolk’s father was older than my father; he reigned first in Kief.”

Sviatopolk, greedy and cruel, showed his character quickly. Envoys from the Polovtsi came to sell peace to him. He cast them into prison. When the Polovtsi heard of this insult they made war with the utmost vigor.

Sviatopolk then freed the envoys and asked for peace, but could not get it. He began at once to prepare for war on a small scale, but at last took advice and asked aid of Monomach, who came, bringing with him his brother. The three princes with their combined forces attacked the Polovtsi, though Monomach urged peace, since the enemy outnumbered them notably. The Russians were beaten in a savage encounter and Rostislav, Monomach’s brother, was drowned while crossing a river; Monomach himself had a narrow escape when struggling to save him. Elated with triumph, the Polovtsi hastened toward Kief, ravaging all before them. Sviatopolk, who had taken refuge in the capital, summoned fresh warriors and went out to meet the enemy a second time, but was again defeated and fled back to Kief with but two attendants. [34]

As Sviatopolk now wished greatly for peace, he gave what the Polovtsi asked, and took the Khan’s daughter in marriage.

Oleg, son of Sviatoslav of Chernigoff, one of the most resolute and active men of the eleventh century, came also with peace to sell, leading in a new army of Polovtsi. The crushing defeats which his cousins had suffered prepared the way for him. He laid siege to Chernigoff, harried the surrounding country and burned churches and villages. For eight days his Polovtsi worked at the stronghold, then Monomach sent a message to Oleg declaring that to stop bloodshed and ruin he would march from the city. Peace was made on that basis, and Oleg became master of Chernigoff.

Pereyaslavl was now Monomach’s capital, and continued to be so during a time of sore trial and waiting. Pereyaslavl was the place which the Polovtsi struck first of all, when marching against Russia. Monomach lived three years in this exposed capital, where he suffered through lack of means and from ceaseless attacks of the Polovtsi. In 1095 two Khans, Itlar and Kitan, came to Pereyaslavl to sell peace, that is to take treasure for a promise of peace, and then break the promise.

Itlar went with his men to the stronghold to pass the night there and was lodged at the house of Ratibor, a distinguished boyar.

Kitan remained between the outer wall and the second one, and Monomach gave Sviatoslav, his son, to Kitan as hostage for the safety of Itlar.

A man by the name of Slavata, who had come that day on some mission from Sviatopolk in Kief, persuaded Ratibor to get consent from Monomach to kill those Polovtsi. “How could I permit such a deed?” demanded Monomach; “I have given my oath to Itlar:” “The Polovtsi give oaths to thee, and then slay and ruin us on all sides. That they will do this time also.” Monomach yielded after much persuasion, and that night men were sent out who stole away Sviatoslav and then killed Kitan with his attendants. Itlar, at Ratibor’s house, knew nothing of what had happened. Next morning Ratibor’s men climbed to the top of the house in which Itlar was lodging, opened the roof and killed the Polovtsi warriors with arrows. Sviatopolk and Monomach moved at once to the steppe against the Polovtsi and sent to Oleg for aid in the struggle. Oleg went, but held aloof through [35]suspicion. The two princes were successful. The Polovtsi, taken unawares, were badly defeated. The princes seized men, cattle, horses and camels, and returned home with rich booty.

Oleg’s conduct had angered Sviatopolk and Monomach seriously. “Thou art unwilling to join us against the vile enemy,” said they. “In thy house Itlar’s son is now living; give him to us, or else kill him.” Oleg would not yield to his cousins. Soon after they sent this message: “Come to Kief and take counsel, so that we may defend Russia together.” “I will not let priests and common men judge me,” replied Oleg. This answer enraged Kief people, and Sviatopolk and Monomach declared war against Oleg without another question. “Thou wilt not help us to crush pagans,” said they, “or meet us in council. Thou art plotting to strengthen the enemy. Let God judge between us.”1

The two princes now marched on Chernigoff. Oleg fled thence to Starodub and shut himself in there. The princes laid siege to the place, and during thirty-three days they made vigorous onsets, but the defense was most resolute. At last the besieged were exhausted, and Oleg was obliged to beg for peace. “Go to David, thy brother,” replied the princes, “and come with him to Kief. Kief is the mother city. In Kief ruled our ancestors. Let us meet there and settle all questions.” Oleg kissed the cross in assent and set out for Smolensk to find David, but upon arriving at that city the people would not allow him to enter, so he turned and went back toward Ryazan.

Since Oleg and David did not come to Kief to make peace and take counsel, the two princes marched on Smolensk. David now made peace with them, on what terms is unknown to us, while Oleg, with his own men and some warriors sent him by David in secret, advanced against Murom to expel Izyaslav, son of Monomach. Izyaslav, having a numerous force, went out to meet Oleg. “Go to Rostoff, which belonged to thy father,” said Izyaslav, “but leave my father’s portion.” “I wish to be here,” replied Oleg. Izyaslav now gave battle. A fierce struggle followed, and Izyaslav fell in the fight before the walls of Murom. The town then received Oleg, who hurried on straightway to Suzdal, which also surrendered. Of the citizens some he held captive while others were sent to various places in his own land, [36]but he seized all of their property. He appeared next in front of Rostoff, which surrendered at once, and he appointed men to collect taxes there.

Oleg held now all lands connected with Murom. At this juncture there came to him an envoy from Mystislav, prince in Novgorod, with this message: “Leave Suzdal and Murom. Take not another man’s province. I will make peace between thee and my father, even though thou hast slain Izyaslav, my brother.”

Oleg would not listen. After such a victory he had no desire for peace. He planned to take Novgorod, he had even sent forward his brother, Yaroslav, and was going to assist him. Mystislav sent men, who seized Oleg’s tax-gatherers. In view of this, Yaroslav warned Oleg to guard himself carefully, that forces were advancing from Novgorod. Oleg turned back to Rostoff, but Mystislav followed him. He then left Rostoff for Suzdal; his enemy hurried straight after him. Oleg burned Suzdal and fled to Murom. Mystislav reached Suzdal and halted. From Suzdal he sent an envoy again to make peace, if possible.

Oleg, doubtful of victory through force, now sought it through strategy. He sent back words of seeming friendliness, and was watchful.

Mystislav, thinking peace near, quartered most of his warriors at some distance in villages. While eating at midday, news was brought in that the enemy was advancing rapidly. Oleg had thought that a sudden feint would put his nephew to flight, but Mystislav held his ground firmly. He quickly called together all his men, and when Oleg was drawing near Suzdal, an army was ready for action in front of him. For four days were the two princes facing each other; neither one saw his way to begin the hard trial. Meanwhile Monomach was hurrying on reinforcements to Mystislav. These were Polovtsi commanded by another son, Vyacheslav. On the fifth day Oleg moved against Suzdal, and Mystislav, having placed the Polovtsi in ambush to attack at the critical moment, marched out to meet him.

The battle began, and Mystislav with his Novgorod men was bearing down heavily on the enemy, when the Polovtsi, with Monomach’s banner above them, suddenly rushed at the flank of Oleg’s army. Panic fell on the warriors at sight of that banner; [37]they thought that Monomach was attacking in person, and they fled from the field in disorder.

Oleg escaped to Murom, where he left his brother, Yaroslav, and then marched with all speed to Ryazan. Mystislav hastened to Murom, made peace with the people and freed the men seized by Oleg some time earlier, then he pursued Oleg farther. Oleg, learning that Mystislav was approaching, left Ryazan. Mystislav came to terms with the people of Ryazan, as he had with those of Murom. He now sent a second letter to Oleg, urging him to make peace with his cousins. Oleg made a favorable promise, and Mystislav wrote to Monomach on behalf of Oleg, who was his godfather. Because of this letter Monomach, anxious to put an end to the dispute between the princes, sent a mild, but firm message to Oleg. The result was a meeting of the princes in 1097 at Lubetch, a place east of the Dnieper on the land of Chernigoff.

Seated on the same carpet, they agreed that in order to put an end to civil war, each prince, or group of princes, should receive the land held by his, or their father. Hence Sviatopolk received Kief with Turoff; to Vladimir went all that Vsevolod, his father, had held,—Smolensk with Rostoff and its settlements. Novgorod fell to Mystislav, who had conquered Oleg; Sviatoslav’s sons, Oleg, David, and Yaroslav, received the lands of Chernigoff. There now remained the izgoi, or orphans, the excluded princes: David, son of Igor, with Vassilko and Volodar, sons of Rostislav. To David was given Volynia, or all that was left of it after the paring of land from that province. Peremysl fell to Volodar, and Terebovl to Vassilko.

When everything was thus amicably settled, the princes kissed the cross, and declared that if any one of them should raise hands on another all the rest would oppose that man, and the holy cross be against him. After that they kissed one another and parted.

This meeting at Lubetch fixed succession to lands east of the Dnieper by giving what the father had held to the sons of Sviatoslav. But west of that river were, as we shall find, fruitful causes of trouble. In Polotsk was Vseslav, the restless wizard, unrecognized as yet, and dissatisfied. In Volynia was David, son of Igor; next to him were the sons of Rostislav, who had some land which David looked on as a part of Volynia. Vassilko, Prince of Terebovl, [38]was renowned for his activity and enterprise. He had led Polovtsi into Poland and was planning new exploits. Warriors from various tribes were coming even then to serve under him. David, perfidious and grasping, but no warrior, was in ceaseless dread of Vassilko. Before the council at Lubetch was ended, Turijak, Vassili, and Lazar, three men of David’s escort, had persuaded their master that Monomach and Vassilko had formed a plan and were ready for action against him. Vassilko, they said, was to take Volynia, David’s land, while Monomach would seize Kief from Sviatopolk. This tale threatened David with loss of rule, and death or exile. He knew well what wandering and seeking for power meant, so on the way back to Kief he explained this tale to Sviatopolk, and added: “Unless we seize Vassilko at once, thou wilt not stay in Kief, nor I in Volynia.” Since Sviatopolk was doubtful as to the truth of this statement, David developed his reasons for making it: “He killed thy brother Yaropolk, and is now plotting against both of us; he is at one with Monomach.”

Sviatopolk was willing to have the deed done, but wished to make David entirely responsible for it. “If thou art speaking the truth,” said he, “God Himself will be witness on thy side. If untruth, He will judge thee.”

When Vassilko reached Kief he was invited by Sviatopolk to the feast of his name’s day, but he excused himself, saying that his men had gone ahead and he must overtake them. On hearing this, David sent word to Vassilko as follows: “Offend not thy elder brother, remain for the feast.” Vassilko refused even this request. David turned then to Sviatopolk, with these words: “Here in thy capital he dares to disregard thee. What will the man do in his own land? He will take Pinsk and other towns, thou wilt think of my words then. Send men, seize Vassilko, and give him to me; I will care for him.”

Sviatopolk yielded and sent an invitation to Vassilko to visit him at his home: “If thou wilt not stay for my festival,” said he, “visit me this morning, and sit awhile with David and me.”

Vassilko consented and was on the way when a servant who met him gave warning: “Go not, O prince,” said he; “they will seize thee.” “God’s will be done,” replied Vassilko and making the sign of the cross, he rode on. Upon his arrival Sviatopolk came to the door of his palace, and greeted him with great [39]cordiality and kindness. Then David appeared, and Vassilko was invited to breakfast with his two kinsmen. Presently Sviatopolk withdrew, as if to give orders, and upon some pretext David followed him. The next moment men rushed into the room, seized Vassilko and put him in double fetters.

Sviatopolk now sought the advice of Kief boyars and the clergy. The boyars answered evasively; the clergy took the side of Vassilko, and begged the Kief prince to free him. Sviatopolk seemed to waver. “This is all David’s work,” declared he, “I have no part in it.” David interfered at once, saying: “If thou set him free, we shall not remain princes.” “He is in thy care then,” replied Sviatopolk, and Vassilko was given up to David, who straightway had his eyes put out.

Monomach wept when he heard of the tragedy. “Never before,” cried he, “has such a deed as this been done in the midst of us.” And at once he sent to Sviatoslav’s sons, Oleg and David, for aid in chastising the criminal. They came promptly, with forces to help him. The three princes then sent this query to Sviatopolk: “Why commit such iniquity; why cast a knife between princes? Why put thy brother’s eyes out? If he had offended, why not accuse him before us, we would have punished him if guilty. But tell us now what his fault was, what did he do to thee?”

“David told me,” replied Sviatopolk, “that Vassilko slew Yaropolk, my brother, that he was preparing to kill me, that Monomach would take Kief and Vassilko Volynia. I had to care for my own life. Besides, it was David, not I, who blinded Vassilko. David took him and on the way home put his eyes out.”

“Thou canst not lay thy own sins on David. Not in his land, but in thine, was the deed done,” retorted the envoys, and they left him.

Next day, when the three princes were marching on Sviatopolk, he prepared to flee from his capital, but Kief men interposed and sent his stepmother to Monomach. With her went Nikolai the metropolitan, to beg in the name of the city not to make war upon Sviatopolk. They presented such reasons that Monomach was moved, and he sent this injunction: “Since David alone did this deed, as thou sayest, do thou, Sviatopolk, move against David, and either seize the man captive, or drive him out of his province.” Sviatopolk declared himself ready to do this. [40]

Vassilko was meanwhile imprisoned by David, who took every town that he could during the winter and set out the next spring before Easter to seize all the lands that remained to his captive. He was met on the boundary, however, by Volodar, who was ready for battle, hence David took refuge in Bugsk. Volodar moved on that place without waiting, and sent this question to David: “Why hast thou done so much evil, and wilt not repent of it? See what immense harm thou hast wrought already.”

David laid the guilt upon Sviatopolk. “Was it I who did the deed?” asked he. “Was it done in my capital? I feared to be treated as was thy brother. I was not free; I was at their mercy.” “God knows which man of you is guilty,” said Volodar. “Give me my brother and I will make peace with thee.” David was glad to be free of Vassilko, so peace was declared, and they parted. That peace, however, was not lasting, for David would not yield the towns which he had taken after blinding Vassilko, hence the two brothers attacked him at Vsevolod. But David escaped, shut himself in at Vladimir, and waited.

Vsevolod was stormed and burned down. As the people fled from the blazing city, Vassilko commanded Volodar to kill them. Thus he avenged his own wrongs upon innocent people.

Next the two brothers hastened to Vladimir. “We have come,” declared they to the citizens, “not against you, but to find Turijak, Vassili, and Lazar, those men who lied foully to David. Through listening to them he has done dreadful evil; yield those three up to us. If ye protect them, we must attack you.” The citizens counseled together and declared then to David: “Yield these three men; for thee we are ready to battle, but not for them.” “They are not here,” replied David. He had sent those attendants to Lutsk to save them. The people forced him to bring back Vassili and Lazar; Turijak had fled to Kief and thus saved himself. Peace was made, and next morning Vassili and Lazar were hanged on two gibbets, in front of Vladimir.

Sviatopolk had promised to march against David and expel him, but all this time he was idle; he set out only after a year, and then he moved not directly, but to Brest on the boundary, where he made a Polish alliance. He feared to attack single-handed and acted only when David was beaten by Volodar and Vassilko; even then he wished the Poles to assist him. He also made [41]an alliance with Volodar and Vassilko, and kissed the cross to them.

David, too, went to Brest to get Polish aid, and gave fifty gold grievens2 to King Vladislav Herman as a present. “Help me!” implored David. “Sviatopolk is in Brest,” said the king, “I will reconcile thee with him.” Vladislav, however, soon discovered by experience that the friendship of Sviatopolk brought a greater return to him than did friendship with David. The Kief prince made richer gifts, and to Vladislav’s son he gave his daughter in marriage. In view of these facts, the king informed David that he had failed in discussions with Sviatopolk. “Go home,” said he; “I will send aid if thy cousin attacks thee.”

David went home and waited a long time. Sviatopolk laid siege to Vladimir. David held out, hoping for Polish assistance, which came not. At last he yielded, and the two princes made peace. David marched out, and Sviatopolk, when he had entered Vladimir in triumph, began to think of Volodar and Vassilko. “They are on lands which belonged to my father,” said he, and he marched against the two brothers, forgetting that he had kissed the cross to them recently. He found it most difficult, however, to deal with those princes. When he advanced to invade their lands, Volodar and Vassilko met him promptly on the boundary. Before the battle, which followed immediately, Vassilko held up the cross which Sviatopolk had kissed, and cried out to him: “See what thou didst kiss to prove thy good faith to me. Thou hast robbed me of eyesight, and now thou art trying to kill me. Let this holy cross be between us.”

The ensuing battle was savage. Sviatopolk was forced from the field and withdrew to Vladimir, where he put his son, Mystislav, in charge, and sent another son, Yaroslav, to Hungary to find aid against Volodar and Vassilko, he himself going to Kief in the meantime.

At Yaroslav’s call, the Hungarian king, Koloman, came with an army and two bishops and laid siege at once to Peremysl, where Volodar had fixed himself. David came back from Poland, where he had begged aid without finding it. Their common danger at this time brought him and his victim together, and, leaving his wife in Volodar’s care, he set out to find Polovtsi allies. He met Bonyak, the famous Polovtsi Khan, who returned with him, bringing [42]a strong force of warriors. They attacked and drove out the Hungarians, and punished them severely. Yaroslav, son of Sviatopolk, who had brought the Hungarians to Russia, fled now to the Poles, and David, making use of his victory with promptness, marched on Vladimir when he was not expected, seized the suburbs and laid siege to the fortress without delay.

Mystislav, placed in command, as we have seen, by Sviatopolk, his father, defended the city successfully till misfortune befell him. He was standing one day on the wall behind a wooden curtain when an arrow flew in through a crevice and killed him. His death was concealed from the people for three days. When they learned of it, they said straightway: “If we surrender now, Sviatopolk will destroy us.” So the chief men sent to Kief, saying: “Thy son is slain, we are dying of hunger. If thou come not, the people will yield to the enemy.”

Sviatopolk sent his voevoda, Putyata, with forces which halted at Lutsk, where Sviatoslav, son of David of Chernigoff, had warriors. At this juncture envoys from David, son of Rurik, who was besieging Vladimir, had audience with Sviatoslav, who had just sworn friendship to them. But when Putyata appeared, this same Sviatoslav was frightened. He seized David’s envoys, and went himself with his warriors to help Putyata, instead of helping David. These two allies arrived before Vladimir one midday, and attacked David. The Vladimir men, seeing this from the walls of the city, made a sally and David was badly defeated. He fled and Putyata and his ally marched into Vladimir, where they established one Vassili as lieutenant of Sviatopolk. After that the allies departed for Lutsk, and Putyata went to Kief.

Meanwhile David fled quickly toward the steppe land to find Polovtsi. Again he met Bonyak, who returned with him, and they captured Lutsk and Vladimir, which David now occupied. Then he sent his nephew, Mystislav, to the mouth of the Dnieper to seize merchants, and thus force the Grand Prince to sue for peace as he had done formerly—Sviatopolk, by nature weak and vacillating, had shown that he was not the man to punish David, who was stronger now than he had ever been before.

In 1100 a new meeting of princes was arranged to assemble at Vititchevo. At this meeting the following decision was made known to David: “We will not let thee have Vladimir, because [43]thou hast cast a knife wickedly between us. We do not exclude thee, or punish thee further. Thou canst take Bugsk with Ostrog. Sviatopolk gives thee Dubno and Chartorisk, also Dorogobuj. In addition, Monomach gives thee two hundred grievens, Oleg and David two hundred more.”

To Volodar the princes sent the following message: “Take thy brother, Vassilko, and possess Peremysl. If thou wilt not keep thy brother, let him come to us, we will support him.”

Volodar and Vassilko would not comply with this, and each remained in the place which belonged to him. When the princes wished to constrain the two brothers, Monomach would not consent to it; he insisted on the Lubetch agreement.

The two meetings, the first at Lubetch, the second at Vititchevo, ended that struggle which had raged half a century. The strong princes became stronger, the izgoi (orphans) and their descendants were excluded. Volodar and Vassilko were the only izgoi who retained a province. The descendants of Vyacheslav, son of Yaroslav, lost their places in the first generation; those of Igor, his brother, in the second. Later on they reappear as petty princes of small places without independent significance. With full and equal rights appear only the descendants of the three elder sons of Yaroslav, Izyaslav, Sviatoslav and Vsevolod. Of these, the sons of Sviatoslav saved themselves only after a bitter and bloody struggle, thanks also to the moderation of Monomach, and his son Mystislav.

The division of land between the descendants of these three sons of Yaroslav the Lawgiver was unequal. Monomach, through his superior personality and favoring fortune, received a much larger portion than his brothers. He received Pereyaslavl, Novgorod, Smolensk and Rostoff. Sviatopolk received Volynia, but Novgorod, connected always so closely with Kief, did not fall to him. The sons of Sviatoslav, Oleg and his brothers, received nothing beyond the land which their father had held.

Sviatopolk was greatly dissatisfied that Novgorod did not remain with his house. As he could not take it from Monomach without compensation, he gave Volynia in return for it. But when Mystislav, Monomach’s son, was recalled to give place to a son of Sviatopolk, the men of Novgorod revolted, and sent envoys to Kief with this message: “Novgorod wishes neither Sviatopolk [44]nor his descendants. If Sviatopolk’s son has two heads, let him come to us.” Sviatopolk had to live without Novgorod.

Monomach, now free to act against steppe tribes, urged Sviatopolk to help him. “Let us join our forces,” said he, “and march in the spring against these enemies.” Sviatopolk turned to his warriors for counsel. They were unwilling to move, and answered that war during spring months took men from their labor. “Let us meet in some place, and consult with the warriors,” was Sviatopolk’s answer to Monomach. They met at Dolobsk, above Kief, on the bank of the Dnieper. “Begin, brother, thou art the elder,” said Monomach; “tell what we are to do in our Russia.” “Begin thou, that is better,” answered Sviatopolk. “How am I to speak,” replied Monomach, “thy warriors will oppose, and say that I wish to ruin earth-tillers and their labor, though I wonder why they are so tender of earth-tillers, forgetting how Polovtsi come in the spring-time, strike down each man in his furrow, take his wife, take his children, seize his horse, and burn his granary.” “True,” said the warriors. “Thou art right, they do much evil.” “I am ready to go!” exclaimed Sviatopolk. And he rose and proclaimed the expedition. “Thou hast done a great deed, O my brother,” said Monomach.

The two princes sent at once to the sons of Sviatoslav, saying: “Let us march against the Polovtsi, we shall either fall in the struggle, or survive it.” David promised aid, but Oleg would not go. His health was too frail, he said. Four other princes joined willingly in making war on the steppe foes of Russia.

The Polovtsi learned what was coming, and met in council. Some were in favor of buying peace, but the younger men called loudly for war, and their side won the mastery.

A force was sent out to reconnoitre. The princes met this force, cut down every man in it, advanced on the main army quickly and struck it. A fierce struggle followed. Twenty Polovtsi chiefs were killed, and a Khan named Beldug was captured. Beldug, when brought to Sviatopolk, offered much ransom for his life in gold, silver, cattle, horses and camels. Sviatopolk sent him to Monomach for judgment. “How often hast thou sworn not to war with us,” said Monomach to the Khan, “but still thou attack. Why not teach thy sons what an oath is? How much Christian blood hast thou shed? But now thy own blood be on [45]thee, not on our heads.” With that, he gave a sign to his men, and Beldug was cut to pieces.

Immense booty was taken, and the princes went home rejoicing, and with great glory. The terrible Bonyak was alive yet, however, and made his power felt very keenly.

In 1106 Sviatopolk sent three voevodas against Polovtsi, whom they defeated, and from whom they recovered much booty. In 1107, near Pereyaslavl, Bonyak seized large herds of horses. Somewhat later he appeared with other Khans and encamped at the Sula River near Lubni. Sviatopolk, Monomach, and Oleg, with four other princes, discovered his camping-ground, and, stealing up to it, made an attack with great outcry. The Polovtsi had no time to defend themselves. Those who could seized their beasts, mounted and fled; those who could not mount rushed off on foot, if they were able. The princes pursued them to the river Horol, slaying all whom they could reach with their sabres.

Despite these successes, Oleg and David in that same year held a meeting with two Khans, whose daughters they took as wives for two of their sons.

In 1110 an expedition undertaken by Sviatopolk, Monomach and David came to naught, but in 1111 they set out on the second Monday in Lent, and on Friday before Passion Week they met the Polovtsi in large force beyond the Don River, and crushed them. It was not till the following Monday, however, that they found the main host of the enemy. When the two armies met, there was a roar like thunder, as the chronicler describes it, and the battle was merciless. Both sides were equal and balanced each other till David and Monomach, with two regiments, rushed furiously at the enemy’s center and pierced it. At this the Russians dashed forward with renewed strength, broke the Polovtsi and, cutting and slashing, pursued them to the steppes.

This was the greatest victory won up to that time over Polovtsi. The profit of the exploit was enormous, and the fame of it extended through Europe. It went both to Rome and to Tsargrad. Though all the princes helped Monomach, they could not of themselves have conceived such a feat or have accomplished it, hence to him the chief glory was due, and was given. For him and for the whole land and people there was great benefit in conquering the Polovtsi. For him, because those tribes were ever ready to [46]harass and plunder, and doubly ready to help any prince in his projects.

To landless princes, or those who had quarrels, the Polovtsi were ready aids, but they were the terror of all who tilled land or lived by labor. To a great chief like Monomach they were enemies nearly always, for principally through them civil war and disorder were possible. A prince without land or position might find among Polovtsi at all times men ready to go with him and take their reward in plundering the country and enslaving as many people as they could lay hands on.

It was difficult in those days to be a Grand Prince ruling wisely and with justice. Such a man had to get the throne of Kief first, and then hold it; he had to satisfy, or eliminate, the unreasoning and unruly; he had to crush or terrorize the Polovtsi; he had, by victory, a show of power, or a daring front, to ward off his western neighbors. When these deeds were all accomplished he might begin to work for wealth and order. We can understand easily the desire of Monomach to crush the Polovtsi, and his joy at having tamed them, at least for a season.

In 1113 Sviatopolk died, and Monomach succeeded him, but he took the highest office only after a hesitation which we may believe to have been shown to make men express themselves with the utmost emphasis. Sviatoslav was older than Monomach’s father, but Sviatoslav, though he had been prince in Kief, was prince by expelling Izyaslav unjustly, and, though Sviatoslav had ceased to live before Izyaslav was reinstated, and therefore died in office, he might be considered as not having been in Kief at any time; his sons in this event could have no real claim. In every case the people would receive no man except Monomach, and he became Grand Prince by acclamation.

Though the sons of Sviatoslav made no demands in public, they cherished plans in secret, as was shown somewhat later, and very clearly. But trouble came immediately from other princes. Glaib of Minsk, a son of Vseslav, that swift moving wizard, so well known to us, ravaged lands in Monomach’s possessions, and when asked to cease made sharp reproaches. Because of this, the Grand Prince, in 1116, marched against Minsk with his sons, and others. The young princes seized various towns, and Monomach resolved to capture Minsk at every hazard, hence [47]he fixed his camp before it, and had a house built in haste, for headquarters. When Glaib saw this house, he begged for peace straightway, and it was granted him. Somewhat later he rebelled again, and in 1120 was brought to Kief, where he died that same season.

The next scene of trouble was Volynia. Sviatopolk, the last Grand Prince, had cherished good feeling toward Monomach, and had caused Yaroslav, his son, to marry the daughter of Mystislav of Novgorod, son of Monomach. Sometime later, however, Monomach laid siege to Vladimir, Yaroslav’s capital. After fighting two months, that prince asked for peace, and Monomach granted it on condition that Yaroslav would come to him whenever summoned. The attack on Yaroslav had been made because, in connection with Boleslav of Poland, who had married his sister, he was acting in Galitch against Volodar and Vassilko. Monomach had remonstrated without effect, and then moved on Yaroslav, with the result we have just seen. Before going on this expedition, the Grand Prince had recalled Mystislav from Novgorod, and installed him in Bailgorod, so that in case of need he might have that son near him. Yaroslav, who, because his father had been Grand Prince, wished to succeed Monomach, saw in this transfer a step toward taking the succession from him and giving it to Mystislav, hence his enforced obedience was short-lived, and he ended it by driving away his wife, a granddaughter of Monomach. In punishment for this act Monomach moved a second time against him.

To think of war with Vladimir Monomach, Yaroslav must have counted on large forces, and have had firm faith in receiving assistance from allies. But just then his own boyars deserted him, and he was obliged to flee to Hungary, and later on to Poland.

Monomach then seated in Volynia Roman, his own son, and when this son died, Andrei, his brother. In 1120 Andrei moved against the Poles with Polovtsi forces. In the following year Yaroslav set out to attack Cherven in Galitch with Polish forces, but Monomach had the border towns well strengthened and in Cherven was Ratiborovitch, his voevoda, who drove back Yaroslav, entirely baffled.

Most dangerous to the Poles was Volodar, who had as allies tribes in Pomoria and in Prussia on the Baltic. These tribes were [48]hostile to the Poles. The question now was to stop Volodar. At the court of Boleslav there lived Peter Vlast, a Dane of many adventures, who advised the king not to meet Prince Volodar in battle, but to kidnap him, and promised, if permission were given, to accomplish the deed himself.

The king was pleased, and Vlast, who had gained much renown through marvelous exploits, set out with thirty men to win the confidence of Volodar and capture him. He appeared before the prince and, feigning himself an exile in deadly enmity with Boleslav, quickly won Volodar’s good-will and confidence. Some weeks later the prince took Vlast to a hunt in a great forest where, adroitly separated from his own people, Volodar was seized by Vlast’s men, who bore him beyond the boundary and never drew rein till they delivered him safely to Boleslav. The king was triumphant.

Vassilko the Blind gave all the money that he and his brother possessed to free Volodar; besides this, those two sons of Rostislav swore to act with the Poles against every enemy.

In 1123 Yaroslav, son of Sviatopolk, appeared at Vladimir with immense forces,—Cheks, Poles and Hungarians, bringing also as allies Volodar and Vassilko. Monomach’s son, Andrei, who was prince there, defended the city. Monomach sent forward Mystislav, and also hurried men from Kief, but before Mystislav could arrive the siege was well ended.

Early one Sunday morning Yaroslav rode toward the walls with two attendants, and shouted to Andrei and the citizens: “This city is mine! Open ye the gates and come out to me with homage. If not I will storm the place to-morrow and take it.”

While he was thus riding in front of the city and boasting, two Poles, employed, as is said, by Andrei, slipped out and hid near the wayside. When the prince was retiring from the walls, they sprang up and sent a spear through his body. He reached camp, barely living, and died a few hours later.

Stephen II, King of Hungary, thought to continue the siege, but the chiefs of his army were opposed to shedding blood without profit. In view of this, the allies of Yaroslav, the late prince, made peace with the Kief prince and retired each to his own land. Through Yaroslav’s death Sviatopolk’s descendants lost the Kief succession. Four years later his younger sons, Izyaslav [49]and Bryache, died, so that Volynia and Turoff went to Monomach’s descendants.

Monomach’s strength with the people swept all men and obstacles before it. Yaroslav, with a foreign army, failed in Volynia, because the people and the boyars would not uphold him, but stood firm for Monomach. Monomach saw the danger of Russia’s falling into a chaos of insignificant and independent principalities, therefore he strove to increase the authority of the Grand Prince, and to restrict the succession to his own descendants, with the provision that if the younger brothers died before the eldest, who was Prince of Kief, their sons were to be excluded forever from the succession.

New persons now and dramatic scenes pass before us swiftly. Vladimir Monomach, always spoken of in Russia as Monomach, died in 1125, and with him departed the prosperity of ancient Russia. He had come to the throne with thirty years of experience in statescraft. He had been the right hand of his father, and without him Sviatopolk could not have ruled at all. He was a man who worked always for what he thought to be the good of his country. Like his grandfather, he was a founder of cities and a lawgiver. There is an interesting paper still extant which he compiled for the guidance of his sons, some clauses of which I will quote: “It is neither fasting nor solitude nor monastic life that will procure you life eternal—it is well doing. Forget not the poor, but nourish them. Bury not your riches in the earth, for that is contrary to the teachings of Christianity.3 Be a father to orphans; judge the cause of widows yourself. Put to death no human being, be he innocent or guilty, for there is nothing more sacred than the soul of a Christian. Love your wives, but beware lest they obtain power over you. When you have learned something useful, strive to retain it in your memory, and work unceasingly for knowledge.”

Monomach had eight sons, named here in the order of their ages: Mystislav the Great, who succeeded his father; Izyaslav, killed before Murom in battling against Oleg of Chernigoff; Sviatoslav, given once as a hostage to Kitan and then stolen away in the night at Pereyaslavl on the Alta; Roman, famous in nothing, married the sister of the renowned Vladimirko of Galitch; Yaropolk, [50]who reigned in Kief after Mystislav, and died without issue; Vyacheslav, “of scant mind and simple,” who raised Monomach’s ensign over the Polovtsi contingent at Koloksha, and thus routed Oleg; Yuri, named later on Dolgoruki, or Long-Handed (Grasping); and Andrei, who died rather early.

The two sons of Vladimir Monomach renowned in history are Mystislav the Great, and Yuri, surnamed Dolgoruki. From the first comes the elder, from the second the younger line of Monomach’s descendants. Mystislav became the ancestor of the Western Russian princes, those of Galitch (Galicia), Smolensk and Volynia. Yuri, through the founding of Moscow and the results flowing from it, became the father of that northern line of princes so famous in history. The descendants of these two brothers were often at enmity, and it was their rivalry which later on ruined Kief.

Mystislav succeeded his father in 1125 without opposition. Oleg of Chernigoff had died during Monomach’s reign, so had David, his brother. Only Yaroslav, the youngest brother, now remained. He, not greatly considered in his family, was expelled from Chernigoff by Vsevolod, his nephew, and founded in Ryazan a new principality.

Mystislav’s reign was distinguished for three things. First he brought to order those Polovtsi who would live in peace near the boundary, and crushed or expelled the others; then he seized all lands of the Polotsk princes, the descendants of Rognyeda, that unwilling wife of Vladimir (Saint Vladimir of the Orthodox Church). We have seen how those Polotsk princes, when excluded from the Kief succession, harried Smolensk and raided Novgorod, bringing ceaseless trouble and never-ending bloodshed. Later on both Pinsk and Turoff had been taken from them. This intensified resistance, and, as they would abate no claim whatever, Mystislav resolved at last to end the trouble. He captured all those princes and, putting them on a vessel, sent them to Tsargrad, where the Emperor, his friend, detained the captives. Some died; the survivors, or most of them, escaped in later days, and ruled again in parts of Polotsk, but soon were lost to fame, unless the tradition be true that Gedimin and his sons, who seized Western Russia during Mongol dominion and joined it with Poland through marriage, were descended from those Polotsk princes who returned [51]from Tsargrad. A third event in Mystislav’s reign was the founding of Ryazan, which happened in this way.

Oleg of Chernigoff, who died during Monomach’s reign, was succeeded by his youngest brother, Yaroslav. Of Oleg’s sons the second, Vsevolod, later on the Kief prince, was a man who in early life had planned a great career very carefully. He had married the eldest daughter of Mystislav the Great, and had thus become connected with Monomach’s descendants. When Mystislav succeeded Monomach, his father, in Kief, Vsevolod drove his uncle from the throne of Chernigoff, and seated himself there. Vsevolod was unceremonious with Yaroslav because the man was not strong, and because he himself wanted Kief when the time came to get it. To possess Kief, he must first win, or get Chernigoff, hence must drive out his uncle.

Yaroslav turned for assistance to Mystislav, who was willing to reinstate him by force even, if need be. It was the proper policy of Kief to act thus, and be the arbiter in Russia. But times had changed much, and Kief men were no longer willing to fight for helpless princes. Yaroslav, unable to fight his battles alone, and forced to withdraw from Chernigoff, settled in Ryazan, where he founded a new line of princes.

Mystislav reigned seven years and died in 1132. He was succeeded by Yaropolk, his brother, who, himself without issue, swore to provide in all fairness for Mystislav’s children. He strove to do this without offending any one, but was unable, as there were not places enough for the two lines of landless princes. The first step he took was to summon from Novgorod Vsevolod, son of the late Mystislav, and give him Pereyaslavl on the Alta. Thereupon Yuri Dolgoruki marched with astonishing swiftness from Suzdal to the Alta, fell upon Vsevolod and expelled him. His reason for this act was that for three reigns Pereyaslavl had been, as it were, the stepping-stone to Kief, the capital and first place, the transfer being made from Pereyaslavl. Dolgoruki, as uncle to Vsevolod, was his senior, and would not permit him to settle in Pereyaslavl and thus obtain the succession.

The sons of Mystislav rose up now against their uncles, and, to gain force sufficient to war with them, made a league with their cousins, David of Chernigoff and Oleg, his brother. Yaropolk, Mystislav’s brother, and brother of Yuri, moved against Chernigoff. [52]Mystislav’s sons helped the Chernigoff princes, and when these sons attacked their uncle, Dolgoruki, Vsevolod, son of the late Oleg the endless quarreler, went to help them. Meanwhile the condition of Kief was almost repeated in Novgorod.

When the late Prince of Kief, Mystislav the Great, was recalled from Novgorod by Monomach, his father, his brother Vsevolod was sent to replace him. During Vsevolod’s day the dignity of prince was lowered notably in Novgorod. In earlier times the posadnik had been an aid to the prince,—an assistant; he was now his associate, and at times even his superior. Vsevolod was disliked in Novgorod because, as the men there declared, he had left it for another place, that is, Pereyaslavl on the Alta. He had fought against his uncle Dolgoruki, and had fled from him. They said, too, that he cared only for falcons and hunting; that he sided with the rich, and with boyars; that he looked with contempt on poor people, and on small folk. To these words they added a deed never witnessed till that day in Novgorod. They seized Vsevolod, locked him up in a tower and set a watch around it. They sought then for a prince who might please them. Some, unwilling to offend Dolgoruki, their dangerous neighbor, thought to choose Rostislav, his son, as their ruler, but others, who were greater in number, prevailed and turned to Chernigoff. Vsevolod, son of Oleg, sent his brother, Sviatoslav, but Novgorod was no better pleased with the new than with the late prince.

Pskoff, up to this time dependent on Novgorod, resolved now to break its bonds. Vsevolod, freed from the Novgorod tower and expelled from the city, went to Pskoff and was received joyfully. Novgorod sent Sviatoslav, its new prince, with warriors to subdue the Pskoff men, but Sviatoslav, finding the task both impossible and useless, led his men back to Novgorod. The city, enraged at this failure, turned out the new prince, and sent him home to Chernigoff.

Thus disorder was rife in all places, and only after much time and great effort was Yaropolk, the Grand Prince, able to satisfy his nephews, without, at the same time, enraging his brothers. When all were in a deadlock of dissension and wearied of fighting, he gave them lands in the following order: Izyaslav, eldest son of Mystislav, received for his sons the Polotsk principality, or the greater part of it, and for himself Volynia and its adjuncts. His [53]brother, Rostislav, received Smolensk, which, increased by additions from Polotsk and Volynia, became a great principality. Vsevolod, son of Mystislav, connected with Pskoff till his death, left no posterity. Vladimir and Sviatopolk, also sons of Mystislav, received nothing and led a landless existence. Yaropolk’s brothers, that is, the other surviving sons of Monomach, were settled thuswise: Yuri Dolgoruki retained his northern land in entirety. He obtained also Gorodok on the Oseter, a place which he prized because of its connection with Kief and with Southern Russia. Pereyaslavl was given to Andrei, the youngest brother. Having settled questions as best he was able Yaropolk had little left for himself save the capital.

It is to be remembered that besides the few leading princes, who gave away or received immense regions, there was now a horde of small princes, all related to one another and to the great ones. These it was necessary to satisfy, some with a single town, others with more, as the case might be. There was not land enough to satisfy all, however, for sons of the ruling princes were increasing in number. There were also princes who, dying before they had received places, left orphans. These orphans needed sustenance; they were of princely blood and, what was of more importance, made trouble when discontented, if they had power to do so. This great band of land-seekers turned to the Kief prince, who was for them in the place of a father. Yaropolk, while trying to settle princes of this kind, was forced to set aside towns to support them till he could find permanent places. Thus Kief was soon reduced to narrow limits.

At first the lands of the mother city covered all Southern Russia. On the southwest and the south they touched the Carpathians and the Danube; on the west they reached the headwaters of every river flowing toward the Euxine and included some rivers flowing into the Baltic. They extended toward the Volga and the Caspian till they reached the territory occupied by the wild tribes of the Polovtsi. But now, by gifts to the dissatisfied and the demanding, Yaropolk left little to the city. In later reigns there was nothing left, and in that final day a Kief prince was no longer the highest power in Russia; he was scarcely more than a guardian of the capital.

It was not the might of Kief which, in his day, gave Yaropolk [54]influence, but his native worth, and his character, which recalled that of Monomach, his father. Lofty qualities gave him strength against Vsevolod, the keen, cunning, shifty son of Oleg. Vsevolod had not seized Chernigoff from his uncle to sit there in quietness; he aimed at Kief, through which alone power was at that time obtainable, and power was the lodestar of his existence.

During Mystislav’s reign Vsevolod had made no move whatever, and, while Yaropolk was settling with his brothers and nephews, he took no part with the dissatisfied, but when Yaropolk had decided every question, the crafty Vsevolod joined hands with Igor and Sviatoslav, his cousins, sons of David, and attacked Yaropolk on both sides of the Dnieper. Fire and sword swept through those lands on the Ros and the Sula, and west of the Dnieper a great war began in which all men of weapons took part with eagerness. After several preliminary battles troops hurried in from many places,—brothers and nephews came to help Yaropolk. From Volynia, Polotsk, Smolensk, Rostoff, Turoff and Suzdal did they come. Yaropolk himself led the regiments of Kief and the Black Caps, called also “Cherkassi” (Circassians).

At sight of these overwhelming forces Vsevolod lost all hope of victory. He prepared to abandon Chernigoff and flee to the Polovtsi, but he was stopped by the bishop at the head of the people. “Halt,” said the bishop; “leave thy pride, and beg for peace. Yaropolk is kind and generous; he will grant it.” Vsevolod listened to this advice, and sent envoys to Yaropolk, who received the men graciously, gave presents in return for those brought by them, forgave Vsevolod, and made peace.

Yaropolk’s advisers were enraged at this peace. They desired the destruction of Vsevolod, and wished to avenge their comrades who had fallen in recent battles, but Yaropolk was firm; he dismissed his forces and returned to Kief, where he ruled for a season, and then died, after years of sore trial and effort.

Yaropolk was succeeded in 1150 by his brother, Vyacheslav, a prince “poor in wit, and simple,” as the chronicler assures us, but in fact a person original and most interesting,—one of “God’s fools” in the language of myth tales. Vsevolod’s chance appeared now, and he seized it greedily. He promised Chernigoff to his cousins, Monomach’s descendants, and then pledged to his brothers all the possessions of those same descendants of Monomach, [55]thus promising to men what was not their own, but their neighbors’. He fell upon Kief, fired the suburbs, and sent this message to Vyacheslav: “Go in peace out of Kief.” “Not of myself did I come to Kief,” replied Vyacheslav; “I came, commanded by my ancestors and in succession to my brother. If thou, abandoning thine own, hast come to take what belongs to thy senior, I will offer no resistance; I become thy junior.” And he went out of Kief, thus making his withdrawal a reproach and a shame to Vsevolod.

That prince, however, cared no whit for reproach and shame; he wanted power. To him all else, be it right or wrong, was as nothing. Hence he entered Kief in pomp and great circumstance. An immense feast was placed before the people, and to the monasteries and churches rich presents were given. Highly gifted with the art of pleasing, and lavish of money and flattery, Vsevolod won the multitude quickly.

This seizure and holding of sovereignty by a man in a junior and excluded line was a real exploit. How did Vsevolod accomplish it; and, once having Kief, how did he hold it? Why did Monomach’s descendants let Oleg’s son take possession of the city, which was theirs by inheritance, and thus lose that which distinguished them from all other princes?

The position of Monomach’s descendants was peculiar at this juncture. It was involved beyond measure. Though the strongest group of men in Russia, they had no leader. The oldest of Monomach’s three surviving sons, Vyacheslav the Simple, was incompetent in action; the second, Yuri Dolgoruki, was competent, but not ready at that time. He was little known in southern regions, and, so far as known, was unpopular. Andrei, the youngest brother, was popular, but could not be the leader.

The man best fitted to be Grand Prince was Izyaslav, then ruling in Volynia. He was the eldest son of Mystislav the Great, who was the eldest son of Monomach. But Izyaslav was barred from action by his three living uncles, the younger brothers of his father. He could not win Kief without them, and they would neither yield to him, nor help him.

The house of Monomach was thus divided. Vsevolod saw clearly that, thanks to this division, he could seize the capital, and hold it. Hence he hastened to win over Izyaslav with the following [56]message: “At thy father’s death, Kief should have been thine, but thy uncles would not suffer thee to take it; they expelled thee and thy brothers from every place, and had I not assisted, ye would to-day have no land in Russia. I want Kief. Thou and thy brothers will be as my own blood to me. Ye will get the choicest places, and at my death Kief will fall to thee, Izyaslav, but thou and they must not help thy uncles to oppose me.”

These words pleased Izyaslav; he and Vsevolod made a pact and kissed the cross to keep it. Owing to this pact, Vsevolod appeared in Kief with slender forces and found few men opposing, though Kief might have resisted very easily. Once in power, Vsevolod became expectant; he waited to see what would happen.

The Monomach party, both uncles and nephews, met promptly for counsel. Izyaslav went to Smolensk to confer with Rostislav, to whom Dolgoruki went also. Rostislav could not act with both nephews and uncles. To Dolgoruki he had been respectful at all times, and now Dolgoruki’s talks with him were successful. Vsevolod learned of this, and was ready for action immediately. He made proposals to Izyaslav, whom he invited to Kief. Izyaslav would not go; he had lost all faith in Vsevolod; he would have nothing further to do with him.

Izyaslav and his friends now began preparations for an attack on the usurper.

Vsevolod resolved to forestall his enemies; to meet each separately, take his land and give it to his brothers as he had promised. Against Vyacheslav, whom he had driven out of Kief, and Izyaslav, his cousin, he sent Izyaslav, son of David, with Vladimirko and Rostislav, the Galitch princes, grandsons of Rostislav. Vsevolod himself marched against Andrei, son of Monomach, in Pereyaslavl, taking with him his own brother Sviatoslav, for whom he intended this city. While on the road he sent Andrei a message containing the sentence: “Go thou to Kursk!” “I will die rather than leave my inheritance,” retorted Andrei. “My father ruled here, not in Kursk. If there is not sufficient land for thee elsewhere in Russia, and thou must have this place, slay me and take it. While I live, I will not leave what belongs to me.”

Vsevolod did not in person attack Andrei’s forces, but sent Sviatoslav, his brother, who was defeated. Next day they made peace. The terms, as we know them, left Andrei in his capital [57]while he agreed to join in no war upon Vsevolod, and to recognize him as Grand Prince. The prince returned to Kief then, defeated, but still with some part of a victory.

The attack on Volynia was a failure, but Vladimirko of Galitch and the Poles, his allies, succeeded in a degree. They captured towns, but they could not expel Izyaslav or his uncle. There, as in other places outside of Chernigoff, the people favored Monomach’s line, though neither Yuri of Suzdal nor Rostislav of Smolensk had given aid to them. The reason aid did not come was that Novgorod would not help Izyaslav, and had driven out Yuri’s son Rostislav. Yuri returned then to Suzdal and seized Torjok to punish Novgorod by stopping supplies.

While Yuri was acting thus, Rostislav of Smolensk dared not move against Vsevolod. Peace was concluded because of this balance of forces. Izyaslav got Volynia, and Vsevolod was acknowledged as Grand Prince.

Division among opponents gave Vsevolod the headship. Had they been united he could not have taken Kief, or, if he had taken that city, he could not have retained it. Even now his hold, though efficient, was exceedingly slender and delicate, for among his adherents, that is, his cousins and his brothers, there was endless dissension and wrangling. [58]

1 This phrase is a declaration of war. 

2 The value of the gold grieven was about one hundred and eighty-six rubles while that of the silver grieven was from four to five rubles. 

3 The burying of gold and silver was customary at that time. 




The death of Andrei, son of Monomach, brought many changes. Vsevolod induced Vyacheslav, Yuri’s brother, to take Pereyaslavl, that city which led to the Kief succession, and leave Turoff, where he put Sviatoslav, his own son. “He has a principality for his son, but for us he has nothing,” cried Vsevolod’s brothers. “It was heavy at their hearts,” adds the chronicler.

Hereupon Vsevolod summoned his cousins and brothers to a council, saying he wished to make peace with them if possible. Having no confidence in Vsevolod, they would not enter the city, so the two parties encamped on the Dnieper, near Kief, and held communication from side to side of the river. Since the terms proposed by the Grand Prince, one town to each of his relatives, were acceptable to none of them, his brothers kissed the cross to each other and to their cousins, then joined in a pact to resist the injustice of Vsevolod. Still he did not increase his first offer. Thereupon they marched against Vyacheslav, thinking to have as easy a victory over him as had Vsevolod, when he took Kief from this simple-minded and interesting old prince. But Pereyaslavl met them firmly, and, failing to take the city by assault, they laid siege to it.

Vsevolod reënforced the place promptly, and Izyaslav of Volynia hurried men to his uncle. The besiegers were defeated and driven off by Vyacheslav.

Rostislav of Smolensk moved now from the west against Chernigoff territory. Izyaslav attacked it on the east, and seizing many places returned home with great honor. A new attack was made upon Vyacheslav soon after by the malcontents, who fought a three days’ battle, in which they were sorely defeated.

Vsevolod now summoned Sviatosha, his cousin, a monk renowned [59]widely for sanctity, to aid him in reasoning with his relatives, and he himself sent them this message: “Dear brethren, take what I offer with good feeling; fight with me no longer.” Discouraged by defeat and influenced by the monk they accepted, and settled in Kief.

Vsevolod, who owed what he had to his own subtle cunning and to the dissension among princes, was dissatisfied with the league between his brothers and their cousins. So, to detach the sons of David from the league, he said to them: “Leave my brothers; I will give you all splendid places.” Tempted by this promise, they deserted their allies, and received good places.

Vsevolod’s brothers were incensed at this open treachery, but were silent for the time. They clamored later on, however, and very loudly, when Vyacheslav, advised by Vsevolod, exchanged principalities with Izyaslav, his nephew of Volynia, and then gave Volynia for Turoff, from which Vsevolod recalled his own son, whom he sent to Volynia straightway.

Pereyaslavl, as the stepping-stone to Kief, was acceptable to Izyaslav, who wanted the succession most solemnly promised him. But Vsevolod’s brothers and his cousins were greatly angered by this change, which they understood not, and which they looked on as an act of monstrous treason. “Our brother keeps at his side the worst foes of our family,” complained they. “He leaves us without a chief, and without places,” and they urged Vsevolod to act against Monomach’s descendants, and demand the places which he had pledged to them earlier, but had not given.

It would have been difficult, nay, quite impossible for Vsevolod to keep those promises, and he made no real effort to do so. Izyaslav was disquieted, however. He saw clearly what Vsevolod was doing. He knew him to be an inveterate trickster, who would deceive all men, who ever they might be, whenever the chance came and his interest required it, so he resolved to change the position if possible, and try to win Yuri, his uncle. He journeyed to Suzdal to see him, but he could make no impression on Yuri. Next he went to Rostislav, his brother, in Smolensk, and, last of all, to his brother in Novgorod, where he passed the winter. Thus did the descendants of Monomach and Oleg stand toward one another. How stood the other princes?

First among these were the descendants of Rostislav, whose [60]sons, Volodar and Vassilko, are well-known to us. Both died in 1124, the first leaving two sons, Vladimirko and Rostislav; the second left two also, Grigori and Ivan.

Of these four men, Vladimirko alone was remarkable. This prince not only kept his own among others, but was able to leave a strong principality to his son, whose friendship or enmity became highly important. Being weaker at first than most of his neighbors Vladimirko worked for success without reference to truthfulness or methods. In 1127 he called in the Hungarians and rose against Rostislav, his elder brother. His cousins came to the aid of Rostislav, as did also Mystislav, the Kief prince, and saved him. Rostislav died some years later; his two cousins died also. Thereupon Vladimirko took all Galitch, disregarding his nephew, Ivan, then ruling in Zvenigorod. The wars which followed the death of Mystislav the Great left a free hand to Vladimirko.

In Vsevolod’s struggle with Monomach’s descendants, Vladimirko helped him, but matters changed altogether when the son of the Kief prince was transferred to Volynia. Vsevolod might permit Vladimirko to snatch land from a descendant of Monomach, but not from Sviatoslav, his son. Both men were perfectly selfish, neither had scruples of any kind, and in 1144 Vsevolod quarreled with Vladimirko because of Volynia, and marched against Galitch with a large army. Nine Russian princes went with him, and the Polish prince Vladislav. Vladimirko had called in his friends, the Hungarians, but his troops, outnumbered and cut off, would have been forced to surrender had he not saved himself cunningly through Igor, the Kief prince’s brother, to whom he sent this wily message: “Reconcile me with thy brother, and I will make thee prince in Kief, after Vsevolod.” Igor, influenced by this promise, set about making peace, and succeeded.

Vladimirko went from his camp and bowed down before Vsevolod. He, “the cunning-minded and word-rich,” as people called him, brought Vsevolod to think it far better for him not to weaken Galitch too greatly, so Vsevolod, after taking an oath from Vladimirko, and a large ransom, restored all the towns which he had captured, and returned to his capital.

Vladimirko’s enemies now grew more defiant, and the citizens of Galitch installed in that city his nephew, Ivan, surnamed later Berladnik. Vladimirko hastened with forces to Galitch, and besieged [61]it for three weeks unsuccessfully, till Ivan made a night attack, went too far out, and was cut off from his capital. Unable to return, he broke through the investing lines, made his way to the Danube, and through steppe regions to Kief, where Vsevolod received him with kindness. Vladimirko entered Galitch, and there met his opponents without mercy.

Vsevolod’s reception of Ivan was, beyond doubt, the cause of a second war with Vladimirko. In 1146 Vsevolod led to Galitch large forces, among which were Poles, men of Novgorod, and Polovtsi. Siege was laid to Zvenigorod. When some of the citizens wished to surrender Vladimirko’s commander slew three of their leaders, cut each of the bodies in two, and hurled the six halves from the walls of the city. After that, those inside fought with valor. Vsevolod, who tried to storm the place, fought from daylight till evening. He fired the town in three places, but the people extinguished the fires, and resisted with desperation. The Kief prince at last raised the siege and returned home, forced mainly by an illness of which he died somewhat later.

The position of Novgorod in Vsevolod’s day was most difficult; when this prince drove Vyacheslav from Kief, Yuri Dolgoruki asked aid of Novgorod against the usurper, but the city refused to help him. He immediately recalled his son, who was then prince in Novgorod, and, seizing Torjok, stopped Novgorod’s provisions. The city sent then to Vsevolod for a prince, and was forced to accept from him Sviatoslav, his brother, a second time. A riot was kindled by Monomach’s partisans, and it was raging fiercely when the new prince arrived. Sviatoslav, deposed recently for his failure at Pskoff, remembered his enemies and punished them. They resented this, and soon the position presented a deadlock. “It is grievous for me to be here with these people,” wrote the prince to his brother. “I cannot endure them.”

To weaken the Monomach party, and smooth Sviatoslav’s way for him, Vsevolod induced the city to send him seven of its best men. Upon their arrival he threw them all into prison. This measure roused Novgorod greatly. Sviatoslav’s partisans were beaten at assemblies, and he himself, learning that he might be seized, fled in the night out of Novgorod, the posadnik, Yakun, going with him. Yakun was captured on the road and brought back to the city, with Prokop, his brother. Beaten by the people [62]till almost insensible, these two men were stripped of their clothing, and hurled from the bridge into the Volkov. Wading out, they were seized again, but not beaten. Yakun was fined one thousand silver grievens, and Prokop one hundred. Then the hands of both men were tied to their necks and they were cast into prison. After a time, however, they escaped to Yuri of Suzdal, who treated them kindly.

Meanwhile the Bishop of Novgorod went to Kief with a number of notables, and said to Vsevolod: “Give us thy son; we want not thy brother.” Vsevolod consented, and sent his son, Sviatoslav. While the young prince was traveling toward Novgorod, people sent secondly to Vsevolod: “We want neither thy son, nor any man of thy family. Give us a son of Mystislav.” Hereupon Vsevolod detained the bishop and notables, and, not wishing to see a man of Monomach’s line prince in Novgorod, summoned his wife’s brothers, Sviatopolk and Vladimir, and gave them the Brest principality. “Think not of Novgorod,” said he, “let it have whatever prince pleases it.” After that, Novgorod was nine months without a prince, which for that proud city was unendurable. Grain was stopped by Yuri of Suzdal, and the price of food was enormous. The party hostile to Kief, which found favor with Yuri, rose in strength and increased greatly. They invited Yuri to Novgorod. He was not willing to go himself, but he sent his son, Rotislav.

Vsevolod saw now that he had erred in not sending a brother-in-law, hence he vented his rage against Yuri. He took possession of Gorodok, Yuri’s capital, and seized his herds in southern regions. That did not settle the Novgorod question, however. Izyaslav, brother of Vsevolod’s wife, and prince now in Pereyaslavl, sent to his sister a message, which contained these words: “Get Novgorod for Sviatopolk, thy brother.” She set to work, and finally Vsevolod consented. He saw, of course, without any advice, that for him his wife’s brother in Novgorod was better than a son of Prince Yuri. Besides, the expulsion of Yuri’s son in favor of one of his nephews would widen the breach between Yuri and all his near relatives, a thing most desirable for Vsevolod.

When men heard in Novgorod that Sviatopolk was coming, and with him the bishop and notables, the opponents of Yuri rose in power again, for the city must choose to retain Yuri’s son, [63]and be hostile to Vsevolod and all his adherents, or receive Sviatopolk and have Yuri alone as an enemy. Sviatopolk was installed, and Rostislav sent away to his father. Thus was the question decided.

Vsevolod, double-dealing and shifty at all times, had promised the succession of Kief both to Igor, his own brother, and also to his wife’s brother, Izyaslav, who, as if selected for the place, had Pereyaslavl for his portion. Igor had the promise renewed in Galitch, when he made peace between the Kief prince and Vladimirko, the latter guaranteeing his aid to obtain the position.

In 1145 Vsevolod, in presence of his cousins and brothers—Izyaslav also was in the assembly—declared Igor to be his successor. “Vladimir Monomach,” said the prince, “placed Mystislav, his son, on the Kief throne. Mystislav gave Kief to Yaropolk, his brother. Whenever God calls for me, Kief will go to Igor.”

Oleg’s descendants knew well that these two Monomach successions broke the old rule by which Kief should belong to the senior among Yaroslav the Lawgiver’s descendants. The descendants of Monomach had violated this rule in their own line, by rejecting it. As they had led the way in destroying precedents, Vsevolod could now declare himself justified in following their example. Izyaslav opposed this decision, but with no avail. He was forced to kiss the cross in favor of Igor.

In 1146, when returning in illness from the second campaign against Galitch, Vsevolod halted at Vyshgorod, and summoned the principal Kief men. “I am ill; take my brother as Grand Prince,” said he. “We do so with gladness,” responded the Kief men. Igor went with these men to the capital, where he assembled the citizens, and they kissed the cross to him. “Thou art our prince,” declared they, but “they deceived,” says the chronicler. Next day the Vyshgorod citizens also kissed the cross to Igor.

Just before dying, Vsevolod sent to Izyaslav and to his brothers to learn if they adhered to their oaths taken solemnly. “We adhere,” replied all. After Vsevolod’s death, Igor made the Kief men take oath a second time, and the affair seemed concluded. But later, the Kief men assembled again, and sent to Izyaslav the words: “Come hither, O Prince!”

Igor sent Sviatoslav, his brother, to Kief, and remained himself [64]with the warriors. The Kief men complained of Ratsha and Tudor, two tiuns (high officials). “Ratsha plundered Kief, and Tudor stripped Vyshgorod,” said they to Sviatoslav. “Now kiss the cross for thy brother, to give us fair justice.” “I kiss the cross for my brother, that ye will suffer no violence, and that ye will have tiuns to suit you.” When he had said this, he dismounted and kissed the cross. Chosen men went with Sviatoslav to Igor, who kissed the cross to do what his brother had promised. But, since the old tiuns were left in their places, men rushed to Ratsha’s house and attacked it. Igor sent troops and his brother to defend the tiuns, which they did with difficulty. Meanwhile he sent a message to Izyaslav, asking if he held to the oath which he had taken. Izyaslav gave no answer; he even detained the envoy.

Since Igor retained the old tiuns, the Kief men decided quickly, and sent to Izyaslav, saying: “Come to us, Prince, we desire thee!” Izyaslav marched now against Kief. On the way, all towns declared for him. “Thou art ours, we will have no son of Oleg. March on!” shouted they. “We are with thee!” On he went, and soon he was met by Kief envoys. “Thou art our prince,” declared they. “We will not be the inheritance of Oleg’s son.”

Meanwhile Igor sent for support to his cousins, the sons of David. They wished to sell that support at the highest price. Igor gave what they demanded and promised to give all that he could give when he reached power, if they would take the field for him. Still more important for Igor were his late brother’s warriors. He also strove to secure the chief boyars by promising to those men their old places, but he was late with the promise for the boyars, observing that the people had cast him aside, had deserted already in secret. Quick to abandon a lost cause, they sent this message to Izyaslav: “Hasten, Prince. The sons of David are coming to aid thy opponent.” Sviatoslav’s men were no more faithful than were those of his brother Igor. They, too, were prepared to desert at the critical moment.

When Izyaslav appeared before Kief with his forces, the people were gathered at one side in a large body. Some distance away was the army of Igor. Izyaslav sent at once a chief and a banner to the people. A detachment fell upon Igor’s camp, and then came a fierce battle. The boyars, devoted to Izyaslav, went over immediately, [65]and Igor’s cause was lost very quickly. His whole army fled.

While fleeing, Igor’s horse stuck fast in a swampy place, and the prince, unable to move, had to stay there alone with the animal. Sviatoslav, Igor’s brother, fled to Chernigoff; Sviatoslav, his nephew, took refuge in Kief, where he was captured.

Izyaslav entered the capital with honor, and sat on the throne of his father and grandfather. All boyars faithful to Igor were captured and held until ransomed. The Kief people plundered the houses of Igor’s adherents and those of the late Vsevolod’s officials, taking much property of all kinds. Igor himself was found in the swamp four days later, and brought to Izyaslav, who put him first in a monastery, and then in prison, whence he was freed some time later.

Thus power returned to Monomach’s descendants. Passing two uncles, Vyacheslav and Yuri, it came to a nephew, because Izyaslav, through his personal qualities, satisfied the people, while the uncles did not please them. When Izyaslav first rose against Igor, he stated that it was to restore the Kief throne to his uncle, but when he was marching, the people declared: “Thou art our prince.” Hence when he took Kief, he kept it because the people wished him to keep it. Of course, he himself was quite willing. The people did not want Vyacheslav, though his right was undoubted, but the boyars, knowing they could rule through him, wanted the old man. Acting on their advice, he seized principalities, among others Volynia, but Izyaslav soon forced him to restore them, for the new prince held firm possession.

Meanwhile Sviatoslav, brother of Igor, fled with small forces to Chernigoff, and inquired of the sons of David if they intended to keep their oath to his brother. “We do,” replied they. Leaving with them his boyar, Kosnyatka, Sviatoslav set out for his own lands to take an oath from the people there. Once he had gone, the sons of David made their plans apart from Kosnyatka, who, learning by chance that they were plotting to seize Sviatoslav, sent at once to warn him. The sons of David, since their cousins could now obtain nothing west of the Dnieper, feared that they would take land from them in Chernigoff, hence they decided to join the Grand Prince against their cousin, and sent to Izyaslav, saying:

“Igor is as hostile to us as to thee; hold him firmly.” To [66]Sviatoslav they sent this message: “Take Putival and abandon thy brother Igor.” “I am seeking my brother, not land,” replied Sviatoslav. “Take land and kiss the cross,” said the sons of David. Sviatoslav wept and sent to Yuri of Suzdal, saying: “God took Vsevolod, and now Izyaslav has taken Igor. Be gracious; march against Kief; free my brother, while I, with God’s aid, will bring forces hither to help thee.”

Then he asked for men from the Polovtsi Khans, his wife’s uncles. They sent a detachment of warriors with promptness. From Murom came Vladimir, a grandson of that Yaroslav whom Vsevolod had driven from Chernigoff in order to take Kief later on, which he did successfully.

This Yaroslav, who founded the Ryazan line of princes, had two sons: Sviatoslav and Rostislav. When the former died in Murom, Rostislav took his land and sent Glaib his own son to rule in Ryazan, giving nothing to Vladimir, his nephew, who came now to join Sviatoslav. After him came the nephew of Vladimirko of Galitch—Ivan, surnamed Berladnik, from Berlad, a town in Moldavia, which was filled with adventurers of all kinds. Ivan had found there a refuge, and next a small party of daredevils to join him. The sons of David wished now to crush Sviatoslav at all cost. “We have begun a hard task,” said they to one another; “let us end it. Let us kill Sviatoslav and take his possessions.” They saw that while alive he would fight to free Igor; in that his success lay. Triumph and love for his brother had for him become one thing. They remembered that in the late reign Igor and his brother had continually insisted upon having land in Chernigoff, and had been restrained only by promises of Kief and of places about it. What now could restrain those men? Of course only lands in Chernigoff. They could not get lands in another place.

David’s sons begged aid of the Kief prince, who sent his son, Mystislav, with warriors to help them. The allies attacked Novgorod Seversk and fought three days there. They plundered the region about, and seized all the horses belonging to Igor and Sviatoslav. News came at this juncture that Yuri of Suzdal was Sviatoslav’s ally, and was marching to aid him.

Izyaslav, the Grand Prince, now asked Rostislav of Murom to attack Yuri’s country. The Murom prince moved at once. We have seen that Rostislav’s nephew and enemy, Vladimir, was in [67]Sviatoslav’s camp, being thus an ally of Yuri, hence Rostislav was ready to fight against Yuri. Besides, Rostislav could not have been friendly to the sons of Oleg, one of whom had driven his father from his throne in Chernigoff.

Yuri had reached Kozelsk, when he heard that Rostislav of Murom was attacking his country. This forced him back, but he sent his son, Ivan, who received Kursk and lands on the Seim as reward from Sviatoslav. It was clear that the latter would give what he had to preserve the alliance, and, with Yuri’s aid, redeem Igor. After he had given half his land for this ally, he tried, at the advice of his boyars, to win the sons of David to his cause, and sent to them his priest with this message: “Ye have ravaged my lands, seized my herds and the herds of my brother. Ye have burned my provisions and destroyed all my property; nothing remains for you now, but to kill me.” “Abandon thy brother,” answered the sons of David. “I would rather die,” replied Sviatoslav, “than abandon my brother. I will strive for him while life is in me.”

The sons of David now plundered on every side. They took Igor’s town, where he had a residence. In his cellars were mead and wines, in his storehouses goods of much value. All that men could remove they took with them, then they fired the place, burning nine hundred stacks of grain.

While Izyaslav was hastening from Kief with his warriors, David’s sons moved on Putivl, but the town was held firmly by the people till the Kief prince appeared before it. They yielded to him, when he kissed the cross to respect them, and merely installed his own posadnik, instead of the old one. He and his allies, however, seized all of Sviatoslav’s wealth in Putivl,—wine, mead, provisions and seven hundred slaves. Sviatoslav himself, advised by his allies, had fled northward, to be close to provisions and near Yuri of Suzdal, taking with him his wife and children, and also the wife of Igor. Some of his warriors had deserted, but the best remained faithful. The sons of David were infuriated by this flight of their cousin, and at once resolved to capture the man or kill him. Izyaslav said, “Let us follow Sviatoslav. If by any chance he escapes us, we will at least seize his wife and children, and take all of his property.” And with three thousand horsemen he set out to hunt down his cousin. When this force was [68]gaining on him, Sviatoslav pondered whether it were better to save his own person by flight and let his warriors and family be captured, or remain with them and lay down his life fighting. His men were not many, but they were of excellent quality,—Ivan, a son of Yuri of Suzdal, Ivan Berladnik, Vladimir of Murom, the Polovtsi party, and some others. He had to meet thousands with hundreds, but he chose to remain, and, turning on the son of David in a forest, he routed him thoroughly; then he fled farther as swiftly as possible.

The Grand Prince and Vladimir, the other son of David, following on at some distance behind, had stopped to take food, when news came that Sviatoslav had defeated his pursuers. The Kief prince was enraged at this failure, and set out himself in immediate pursuit of the fugitive. On the way he was joined by stragglers from the scattered force, and at last came the son of David.

Sviatoslav hastened forward to Koracheff, and as Izyaslav was again hunting him sharply, he fled to great forests in Vyatichi regions, where pursuit was impossible.

“I hold the places which ye desired,” said the Kief prince to the sons of David. “Take ye the lands of Sviatoslav; I yield them all to you. Igor’s slaves and his goods in those lands will be mine. Sviatoslav’s goods we will divide between us.” After making this distribution, he returned to his capital.

Meanwhile Igor, who lay ill in prison, wished to assume a monk’s habit, and requested permission. “Thou mayst do that,” replied Izyaslav. “I intended to free thee in every case.” Taken from prison to a cell in a monastery, Igor lay eight days and nights without food or drink. At last he revived and took the monk’s habit.

The conflict still raged between Sviatoslav and his cousins. Izyaslav had left in Chernigoff his sister’s son, Sviatoslav, the son of Vsevolod, the late Grand Prince. The interests of this Sviatoslav were closely connected with the house of Oleg. A decisive defeat of his uncle would destroy this “sister’s son’s” chance of being prince in Chernigoff, to which he aspired, as the first son of Vsevolod. Hence, in secret, he favored his uncle, and informed him of all that his enemies were doing.

Yuri of Suzdal now sent fresh warriors to Sviatoslav, who with [69]them was ready to rend his pursuers, when Yuri’s son, Ivan, who led them, died suddenly. The sons of David feared to attack Yuri’s warriors, but they urged leading men of the Vyatichi, in whose towns their posadniks were stationed, to kill Sviatoslav and scatter his forces. At this point two of Yuri’s sons, one of whom was Andrei, later on very famous, forced Rostislav, the Murom prince, who was attacking their father, to flee to the Polovtsi.

That same year, 1146, Yuri invited Sviatoslav, his ally, to meet him in Moscow (Moskva). This name appears now for the first time in the chronicles of Russia. Originally a farm on the river Moskva, and owned by one Stephen Kuchka, it was called Kuchkova. When the land came into the possession of Yuri Dolgoruki, he built a village on an elevation and called it Moskva. There was feasting and gift-giving now in Moscow, but also much serious work. Yuri furnished warriors, led by his son, and fresh troops of Polovtsi came to Sviatoslav; thus he had power to take the offensive. This he did with effect, and when a third force of Polovtsi came, the effect was decisive. All the posadniks installed in Vyatichi towns by the sons of David fled quickly, and Sviatoslav sent in new men to replace them. Both sons of David withdrew from the north to Chernigoff, and sent peace proposals to Sviatoslav. Those same sons of David now turned traitorously on the Kief prince, to whom they sent this faithless message: “Sviatoslav has taken Vyatichi lands. Come with us to attack him. When we have driven him away we will march with thee against Yuri, and make peace or war with him.”

Izyaslav agreed, but Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod, to make sure of carrying out his own plans and escaping beyond reach of the Kief prince in season, came to Izyaslav, and said to him, “Let me go to Chernigoff, my father. I wish to get lands from my cousins.” “Thou hast thought this out well,” replied Izyaslav. “Go straightway.” He went, and the whole affair was fixed surely, as they thought. He and the sons of David were to seize the Kief prince the moment he set foot in Chernigoff. As he delayed, they sent envoys to hurry him. “Our land is perishing,” said they, “and thou wilt not come to assist us.”

Izyaslav summoned his boyars and warriors and the people, and said to them: “I am going with the sons of David to war against Sviatoslav, and Yuri my uncle. I must go, for Yuri is [70]helping my enemy, Sviatoslav.” “Go not against Yuri,” said the people. “Make peace with thy uncle. Lend no ear to the sons of David, take not the same road with them.” “I must go,” replied Izyaslav; “they are my allies.” “Take it not ill of us,” continued the people, “we cannot raise hands against a son of Monomach. But if thou wilt march against the house of Oleg, we will not only go with thee, but take our sons also.”

The prince, however, asked for volunteers to attack Yuri, and a large number went with him. On passing the Dnieper, he sent Ulaiba, his boyar, to learn what was happening in Chernigoff. The boyar hurried back, bringing news that the allies of the Kief prince were acting with Sviatoslav. Chernigoff friends also sent to Izyaslav, saying that his allies were deceiving him foully. “They wish to slay or to seize thee, and liberate Igor. They have kissed the cross to Sviatoslav, and also to Yuri.”

The Kief prince now sent envoys to confer in his name with the sons of David: “We agreed on a great work, and kissed the cross to each other,” said the envoys. “Let us kiss it again, so that there be no disagreement hereafter.” “Why kiss again? We have kissed already,” replied the sons of David. “What harm in kissing the cross?” said the envoys. “The cross is salvation.” But they refused to kiss it a second time. The envoys repeated now these words from Izyaslav to the sons of David: “I have heard that ye are deceiving me, that ye have sworn to Sviatoslav to seize me or to kill me because of Igor. Is this true, brothers, or is it not true?” They would not answer. At last one of them said to the envoys: “Withdraw, we will summon thee later.” They consulted long, and then called the envoys.

“We have kissed the cross to Sviatoslav,” declared they frankly. “We grieve over Igor, our cousin. He is a monk now; set him free, and we will ride at thy stirrup. Would it please thee if we held thy brother?” The treaty papers were cast at their feet, and these words were added in answer: “Ye took oath to be with me till death, and I gave you the lands of both sons of Oleg. I expelled Sviatoslav; I won his lands and gave you Putivl with other places. We divided Sviatoslav’s property between us. I took Igor’s. And now, brothers, ye have broken your oath. Ye invited me hither intending to kill me. Let God be on my side and [71]the power of the life-giving cross. I will manage as the Lord may assist me.”

The prince asked Rostislav, his brother, to bring Smolensk forces from all sides. He sent to Kief also, explaining the conduct of the sons of David, and reminded the people of what they had promised. The Kief men decided immediately to go forward in boats and on horseback to help him. “We rejoice,” declared they in a message, “that God has preserved thee. We come and bring our sons with us, according to promise!” When thus excited, some man in the throng called out loudly: “We will fight for our prince, but think first of one important thing. Here in this city is the enemy of our prince. Let us slay him to finish that family in Chernigoff, and then go!” The people rushed to the monastery, and before Prince Vladimir, the metropolitan, or the commander in the city, could stop them they had seized Igor, and slain him.

Izyaslav was at the edge of Chernigoff when news of Igor’s death came to him: “If I had thought of this, I should have guarded him more carefully,” said he to his warriors. “Men will say now that I wished to kill Igor, but God knows that I did not.” “Be not concerned,” answered his warriors. “God knows, and people know, also, that not thou, but his own cousins killed him; they who took an oath to thee, and then conspired traitorously to kill thee.”

Izyaslav seized Kursk, where he placed his son, Mystislav, and thus barred out the Polovtsi. But Glaib, son of Yuri, came later with Sviatoslav to take the place. The people would not raise a hand against Glaib, since he was a grandson of Monomach. They would have fought against Sviatoslav had he come unassisted, as they informed Mystislav, who returned to his father.

Glaib, after installing posadniks, left that region, and the Polovtsi were free to appear again. Rostislav of Smolensk led in large forces to help his brother, the Grand Prince, and after an involved and tedious war, ending rather against Izyaslav than for him, the Chernigoff princes were unable to continue the struggle; their territory was stripped of provisions, and ruined in great part; they had no food for their warriors, and could not pay Polovtsi allies. Yuri had sent a son with forces, but he would not go with his main strength in person, and without Yuri the Chernigoff princes were unable to stand against Izyaslav and his brothers. [72]

In such straits, they sent these words to Yuri: “Thou didst kiss the cross to go with us against Izyaslav; thou hast not done so. Izyaslav came, burned our towns, took our country. He came a second time; he burned and seized what he spared at the first attack, but thou hast neither come to us nor fought against Izyaslav. If thy wish is to march now against the Kief prince, we will go with thee; if not, we are freed from our oath; we have no wish to perish in war unassisted.”

From Yuri came no answer of value, hence they turned with proposals to the Kief prince. He replied that he would consult with Rostislav and then answer finally. He consulted with his brother for form’s sake, and then made peace with the princes of Chernigoff, who took oath to forget Igor’s death, and be in friendship for the future. Kursk remained in their possession.

At this time Rostislav, Yuri’s eldest son, once prince in Novgorod, came to Kief, declaring that he had quarreled with his father, who refused him land in Suzdal; hence he had come to Izyaslav with homage. The Kief prince gave him those five towns held formerly by Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod, and also Gorodok, where Izyaslav did not wish to see Yuri’s son Glaib, to whom he sent this command: “Find lands with the sons of Oleg.”

In autumn, the Grand Prince went to Gorodok, taking Rostislav with him. The sons of David were there, but no son of Oleg. When Izyaslav mentioned this, the princes replied: “We are here. It is indifferent whether they come or not; they and we took the oath to make common cause with thee, and to go with thee against Yuri, starting when the rivers should be frozen.” They who had been Yuri’s allies a short time before had now become his enemies, and allies of Izyaslav. When the time came, Izyaslav left Vladimir, his brother, in Kief, and visited Smolensk, to confer with Rostislav.

Novgorod had assembled large forces to march against Yuri, and now sent many warriors, as did Smolensk. They moved down the Volga, and, finding no trace of Yuri, ravaged both sides of the river as far as Uglitch. Here news came that the sons of David, with Sviatoslav, brother of Igor, had marched to assist them, but had halted in the Vyatichi country to see who would be victor, the Kief prince, or Yuri.

“Let them come or stay,” replied Izyaslav, and he sent Novgorod men and others to take Yaroslavl on the Volga. This they [73]did after much effort, and returned with great booty. A week before Easter the weather became so warm that the army could not remain in the country. Horses walked to their bellies in water. Rostislav went back to Smolensk, and Izyaslav to Novgorod and thence to his capital.

This campaign cost Yuri’s country seven thousand men led away captives, besides all the property burned and ruined. Upon Izyaslav’s return to Kief, he learned from his boyars that Yuri’s son, Rostislav, had worked against him in his absence, and had said to the people: “If God helps my father, he will visit Kief and take Izyaslav’s house from him, and also his family.” “Send this traitor back to his father; thou art keeping him here to thy ruin,” said the boyars. The prince summoned Rostislav, and, without receiving him, gave this message: “Thou didst come to me and say that thy father was unjust and would give thee no land. I took thee in as a brother, I gave thee lands, and now thou wouldst seize Kief from me.” Yuri’s son sent back this answer: “Neither in my heart nor my mind was the thought which thou hast mentioned. If he who has lied is a prince I am ready to meet him, if of lower degree, either Christian or pagan, judge thou between us.” “Ask no judgment of me,” replied Izyaslav. “I know what thou wishest. Go back to thy father.”

The boyars put Rostislav in a boat with three men and sent him up the river. His warriors were retained, and his property taken.

Rostislav bowed down to his father in Suzdal, and said: “The whole Russian land desires thee. Men say in Kief that their prince has dishonored them. March thou against Izyaslav.” These words imply clearly that Yuri’s son had worked with zeal against Izyaslav, and that the complaint of the boyars was well founded.

Such an “insult” to Rostislav greatly offended Yuri, who demanded angrily, “Is there then no place for me or my sons in Russia?” He assembled his forces quickly, hired Polovtsi, and was soon ready for action.

It was not anger alone which roused Yuri; he believed that his day had come, the long deferred day of triumph. His son’s report that he would find in the south serious allies, decided his movements, and he marched forward with all speed. He had reached the land of the Vyatichi, when Vladimir, son of David, warned Izyaslav, saying: “Be ready for action; thy uncle is marching.” [74]Izyaslav prepared, and with the sons of David sent envoys to Sviatoslav, brother of the late Igor, reminding him of their treaties.

Sviatoslav gave no answer at first, but guarded the envoys to keep men away from them. Meanwhile he consulted with Yuri. “Art thou going against Izyaslav? Tell me truly lest I ruin my lands without reason.” “I go, of course,” replied Yuri. “My nephew made war in my lands and set fire to them. He drove out my son, and insulted me. I will avenge the wrong done, or I will lay down my life.”

On receiving this answer, Sviatoslav, unwilling to break his oath, without reasons which men might hold sufficient, commanded his envoys to speak thus to Izyaslav: “Return Igor’s property, and I will be with thee.” “Thou hast kissed the cross to put aside enmity because of Igor and his property,” replied Izyaslav, “but now thou dost mention them when my uncle is marching against me. Keep thy oath, or else break it.”

Sviatoslav joined forces with Yuri. Yuri and Sviatoslav then sent the sons of David a message, but they sent the answer only to Yuri: “In the last war thou didst swear to be with us. But when Izyaslav took all our lands and burned the towns in them, thou wouldst not come to us. Because of this we kissed the cross to Izyaslav, and we cannot jest with salvation.”

Yuri marched southward, expecting the Polovtsi and awaiting submission from Izyaslav, his nephew. Rostislav of Smolensk, with large forces, hastened to strengthen his brother. Yuri advanced to Pereyaslavl, thinking that Izyaslav might yield; but Izyaslav did not yield. “If my uncle had come with his sons only,” said he, “he might have had the best province in my possession, but as he leads in the hated Polovtsi, and with them my enemy, I am forced to the field by his action.”

Izyaslav talked thus to persuade Kief men to march against Yuri. They had insisted on peace, and declared that they could not raise hands against a son of Monomach. But, influenced by Izyaslav’s words, they at last consented to go, though unwillingly. Crossing the Dnieper, the Grand Prince met Yuri’s army, the advance troops being Polovtsi, and repulsed it. Then the two armies stood all day and night facing each other. In the night Yuri sent to his nephew this message: “Thou hast ravaged my country, thou hast taken seniority from me, but spare Christian [75]blood now. Let me seat a son in this city of Pereyaslavl, and rule thou in Kief. If not, let God judge between us.”

Izyaslav detained the envoy, and led out all his men to meet Yuri. Next morning the bishop, with tears in his eyes, begged thus of Izyaslav: “Make peace with thy uncle. If thou do so, thou wilt save the land from sore misery, and have great reward from God.” But the prince would not listen. The armies were face to face that day till evening, the river Trubej between them. At a council called by Izyaslav, some favored crossing the river: “God gives thee the enemy; seize him,” said these men. “Remain where thou art,” said others. “Thy uncle is wavering, he will vanish in the night. Let him go, do not touch him.” The first advice pleased the prince, and he crossed the river. Next day at noon the armies came very near fighting, but Yuri halted, and in the evening withdrew. Again there were two minds in Izyaslav’s council: “Thy uncle is fleeing,” urged one mind; “attack him before he escapes thee.” “Follow not,” urged the other; “there will be no battle; thou wilt have victory for nothing.” This time too Izyaslav took the first advice.

At daybreak next morning the battle began. It was resolute at the opening and venomous on both sides, but soon all of Izyaslav’s contingents from the Ros River fled. Seeing this, the sons of David and the Kief men fled also. Pereyaslavl, persuaded already by Yuri’s son, Rostislav, opened its gates without fighting, and thus the battle was ended.

Izyaslav had pierced an opposing regiment, but when in the rear of it he saw that all had deserted him, and knew that nothing save flight remained. He reached Kief with only two attendants, and went immediately to Volynia; but he withdrew to reopen the struggle.

On reaching Volynia Izyaslav sent to Poland, Bohemia and Hungary for aid. Aid was promised, but he wished aid itself, and not promises, hence he sent envoys a second time bearing rich presents, with the injunction to get what he asked for. Knowing now what it was to fight against his uncle when the people were indifferent or opposed to him, he sent these words to Yuri’s elder brother, Vyatcheslav: “Be my father and take the throne of Kief; if not I will ruin thy country.”

Vyatcheslav, alarmed by the threat, sent this message to Yuri: [76]“Make peace, defend my country, come hither thyself; we shall then see what to do. If thou come not, I must act as seems best to me.” Yuri set out at once with his troops, taking Polovtsi also. Izyaslav marched from Volynia against him. To Vyatcheslav came Rostislav and Andrei, sons of Yuri, and soon Yuri himself came. Vladimirko of Galitch moved to the boundary and thus checked Poles and Hungarians.

The Poles, greatly alarmed by news from their own land that Prussian tribes were attacking them, went home. Hence the allies sent these words to Yuri and Vyatcheslav: “Though ye are as fathers to Izyaslav, ye are now warring against him. As Christians and brethren we should all be united. Can you not arrange peace with your son and your brother? Ye might remain in Kief. Ye yourselves know who should be there. Let Volynia and whatever else is his go to Izyaslav. Let Yuri give back the Novgorod tribute.”

“God reward you,” replied Yuri and his brother. “Since ye ask for peace and wish well to us, let Izyaslav return to Volynia, and go ye to your own lands; we will discuss then with Izyaslav.” The allies withdrew, and the uncles proposed terms to their nephew. But the affair halted because Yuri’s eldest son and a nephew advised with great earnestness not to make peace with Izyaslav. Yuri took this advice all the more readily, since Izyaslav’s allies had gone to their own lands, and he thought it easy to force down his nephew. “I will expel Izyaslav and take his lands,” said Yuri, and he moved with his brother to do this.

Yuri and his forces invested Lutsk, and for many weeks fought around the city. The besieged lacked water greatly. Izyaslav strove to aid them, but Vladimirko of Galitch barred the way; he desired victory for neither side. Volynia, independent of Kief, was what he wished. Izyaslav sent to him, saying: “Reconcile me with my uncle Yuri.” Vladimirko was willing, in fact he was very glad to attempt this.

Andrei, Yuri’s second son, was for peace and counseled his father. “Give no ear to my brother or cousin,” said he. “Make peace, O my father, do not ruin thy possessions.” Vyatcheslav favored peace also. He had his own reasons for doing so. “Make peace,” said he to Yuri. “If not, and thou go, Izyaslav will destroy my country.” [77]

Yuri finally agreed to peace. His nephew yielded Kief, and Yuri gave back the Novgorod tribute. Izyaslav visited his uncles, and all sides promised to return booty taken since the action near Pereyaslavl. After that Yuri went back to Kief, and wished to give it to Vyatcheslav, to whom it belonged by seniority, but the boyars dissuaded him. “Thy brother could not hold Kief,” said they. “It will be neither his nor thine, if thou yield it.” Yuri took his son from Vyshgorod, and gave the place to Vyatcheslav.

Meanwhile, 1150, Izyaslav sent to find herds and property seized before peace was concluded, but when his men had found what they were seeking, and asked for it, Yuri refused it, and they went back empty-handed. Thereupon Izyaslav sent a complaint and threat to his uncle: “Keep thy oath, for I cannot remain thus offended.” Yuri made no answer, and Izyaslav took arms again, urged, as was said, by Kief people.

At this time Yuri’s son Glaib was encamped not far from Izyaslav, who suddenly attacked him in the night. Glaib escaped with much difficulty, having lost everything he had. Next day he sent to his cousin this message: “Yuri is my father, so art thou, and I render thee homage. Thou and Yuri will settle all questions. But give thy oath that thou wilt permit me to visit my father. If thou do, I will come and bow down to thee.” Izyaslav gave the oath. Glaib went to Yuri, and Izyaslav hastened to the steppe to get aid from the Black Caps, who rejoiced with unbounded delight when they saw him.

Yuri, on hearing that his nephew had gone to the Black Caps, left Kief at once, crossed the Dnieper and hastened to Gorodok. As soon as Yuri withdrew from Kief, Vyatcheslav entered. The Kief people went out in great crowds to meet Izyaslav, who was not slow in coming. “Yuri has left us,” said they. “Vyatcheslav is in the palace, but we do not want him. Go to Holy Sophia, and then take the throne of thy fathers.” “I gave thee Kief,” said Izyaslav, in a message to his uncle, “but thou wouldst not take it. Now when thy brother has fled, thou art willing. Go to thy Vyshgorod.” “Even shouldst thou kill me for staying, I would not go,” answered Vyatcheslav.

Taking a few attendants, Izyaslav went to his uncle and bowed down before him. Vyatcheslav rose, kissed him and they sat down together. “Father,” said Izyaslav, “I give thee homage, [78]I cannot do what thou wishest, such is the power of the people. They are opposed to thee. Go to Vyshgorod; from there we two will manage.” “When thou didst invite me to Kief,” answered Vyatcheslav, “I had kissed the cross to Yuri. If Kief is thine now, I will go to Vyshgorod.” And he went.

Meanwhile Yuri called on the sons of David and Oleg for assistance, and Vladimirko was marching from the west. Izyaslav, greatly alarmed, prepared for defense very promptly and went with boyars to Vyatcheslav in Vyshgorod. “Take Kief,” said he to his uncle, “and with it what lands thou desirest; the rest leave to me.” Vyatcheslav was offended at first. “Why didst thou not give me Kief when thou wert forcing me out of it shamefully?” asked he. “Now when one army is moving against thee from Galitch and another from Chernigoff, thou givest me my inheritance.” “I offered thee Kief, declaring that I could live with thee, but not with Yuri,” said Izyaslav. “Thee I love as my father. And I say now again: Thou art my father, and Kief belongs to thee.” These words softened Vyatcheslav and he kissed the cross to consider Izyaslav as his son, and Izyaslav swore to regard him as a father. “I am going to Zvenigorod against Vladimirko,” said Izyaslav. “Be pleased thou to enter Kief and let me have thy warriors.” “I will send all of my warriors with thee,” replied Vyatcheslav.

Vladimirko was now in the field to help Yuri, and Izyaslav marched westward at once to hasten the struggle, but when he came near the enemy his men forsook him. “Vladimirko has a countless host,” cried they. “Do not destroy us and forfeit thy own life. Wait till another time.” “Better die here than suffer disgrace such as that!” exclaimed Izyaslav. Nevertheless all fled the field, and the Kief prince was left with only his personal following. He fell back on the capital safely, though he might have been captured. Vladimirko thought the whole movement a strategy, hence he followed on cautiously, looking for ambushes everywhere. Izyaslav found his uncle in Kief, waiting anxiously. They counseled awhile and then sat down to dinner. During dinner news came that Yuri was crossing the Dnieper, and with him the men of Chernigoff. “This is not our day!” exclaimed the two princes, and they fled from Kief, Vyatcheslav going to Vyshgorod, and Izyaslav back to Volynia. [79]

Next day Vladimirko and Yuri met outside Kief and greeted each other on horseback. The Galitch prince visited all the holy places in the city, and then bade farewell to his father-in-law in friendship. He took with him Yuri’s son, Mystislav, and installed that prince on the boundary of Volynia. Later on Yuri gave this whole region to his best son, Andrei.

Andrei fixed his camp in Peresopnitsa, and during the winter Izyaslav sent an envoy to him. “Reconcile me with thy father,” said he. “My inheritance is not in Hungary or Poland. Ask from thy father the return of my land on the Goryn.” He sent this request, but bade his envoy look sharply at all things. He was planning to fall on Andrei, as he had fallen on Glaib, Yuri’s other son, some time earlier.

The envoy found everything in excellent order, and a strong force of warriors in readiness. Andrei, unsuspicious, or feigning to be so, turned to Yuri in favor of Izyaslav, but Yuri would not yield a whit to his nephew. “My uncle,” declared Izyaslav, “would drive me to exile. Vladimirko of Galitch has taken my land at command of Yuri, and is now making ready to march on Vladimir, my capital.” So he sent Vladimir, his brother, to Hungary to ask aid of the king, who marched straightway with an army on Galitch. “I, thy brother, have started,” wrote the king. “Join me at once with thy forces. Vladimirko will see the men whom he has offended.”

Vladimirko had friends in Hungary, who sent him information, hence he left Bailz, where his camp was, and hastened forward to meet the Hungarian forces at Peremysl. There he discovered that he was no match for the king in the field, so he begged the archbishop and two bishops from Hungary with certain influential boyars to help him. He lavished gold without stint on these prelates and boyars, and they in return urged the king to go home and make war at another time. He yielded, and sent this explanation to Izyaslav: “The Greek Emperor is moving against me; I must return to my own country to meet him, but next summer I can send ten thousand men, or even more if thou need them.”

The Hungarian force vanished, and was as if it had never seen Galitch. Izyaslav, foiled for the moment by his enemy, sent Vladimir a second time to Hungary with this message: “Vyatcheslav’s boyars, the people and the steppe tribes have sent for me. [80]If thou must stay at home to prepare for the Greek Emperor, send me the aid which thou hast promised, and I will be with thee hereafter at all times.” The king sent him now ten thousand men, and with these warriors he set out against Kief.

On the way news was brought to him that Vladimirko was following. A council was summoned, and the boyars spoke thus: “Thou art marching on Yuri, and Vladimirko is pursuing; our position is perilous.” “Ye have come out of Kief,” replied Izyaslav; “ye have lost land and property, ye have lost all. I have lost my inheritance. I must get back my own and win yours in the same effort. If Vladimirko comes, God will decide between us. If Yuri should meet me, the Lord will judge also in his case.” And leaving Sviatopolk, one of his brothers, behind in Vladimir, his capital, to guard the place, he moved forward with the Hungarians and his own men.

On the way Vladimirko was joined by Andrei, and both forces followed together. Though sometimes at skirmishing distance, Izyaslav wisely abstained from action, and sent on Vladimir to Bailgorod, where Boris, son of Yuri, was feasting. If a collector of taxes had not raised the bridge, Boris would have been seized at table. Unable to get possession of the place without a battle, Vladimir rejoined Izyaslav, and they hastened on toward Kief. When Vladimirko’s men came up, they approached and sounded a trumpet. People ran out and lowered the bridge willingly. This advance force entered Bailgorod, and Boris hurried away to his father. Yuri, greatly alarmed by the strength of the enemy marching against him, left Kief at once, crossed the Dnieper, fled on, and took refuge in Gorodok.

All Kief went out to meet Izyaslav. The delight of the people this time seemed real. Yuri, whom the city never really liked, had become most unpopular, and they now rejoiced to be rid of him.

On the west, beyond Bailgorod, Vladimirko and Andrei were manœuvering for battle with Izyaslav, when suddenly news reached them that their enemy was in Kief with his forces, and Yuri powerless in Gorodok. Vladimirko’s rage was unbounded. “I cannot see how my father-in-law manages,” said he to Andrei. “I cannot understand how ye, his sons, help him. Thou, Andrei, hadst thy camp on the Goryn; Boris was in Bailgorod. We might have [81]forced Izyaslav to action and lamed, or defeated him, but Boris left us and gave the road to our enemy. Thy father then abandoned Kief, and Izyaslav is now Grand Prince. To-day the whole Russian land is on his side. I leave you, and go now to Galitch.”

Yuri had no friends in the south, where all had hoped for his downfall. The campaign seemed indeed like some folk-tale. A battle might have ruined Izyaslav; a quick march secured him dominion.

Vladimirko turned home, but to each town he said as he came to it: “Give me the silver and gold that I ask of you. If ye refuse I will take what I find at the sword’s point.” No town or city had the silver or gold, or the coin or utensils to meet this demand of Yuri’s ally, hence people were forced to take every ornament from the necks and the arms of their women, and give them to the master of Galitch. Vladimirko took from all in this way till he reached his own boundary.

At last the hour of triumph had sounded for Yuri’s simple-minded brother. On the day after his entrance to Kief, Izyaslav sent this message to his uncle: “I salute thee, my father. I have sinned before thee, but I repent. I have sinned a first, and a second, and a third time. I repent now of all these transgressions, and, if thou forgive, God will pardon me. I give thee Kief; come thou and sit on the throne of thy fathers.” Thus Izyaslav acknowledged completely the right of uncles as opposed to the sons of their elder brothers, a right against which even personal qualities, or the respect of people availed not.

“God give thee strength, my son,” replied Vyatcheslav, “because thou hast given me due honor. It was thy duty thus to act long ago. Thou hast given honor to God by the honor given me. Thou sayest that I am thy father; I say that thou art my son. I have no son, and thou hast no father; thou art my son, thou art also my brother.”

Uncle and nephew now kissed the cross to each other not to part in defeat or in triumph. The Hungarians were feasted, received rich presents, and went home. The two princes sent Izyaslav’s son on a mission to Hungary, to assure the Hungarian king of the Kief princes’ gratitude, and to make offer of service, asking, too, that if the need came the king would send troops, as he had sent them recently. Rostislav of Smolensk was invited to aid in liberating [82]Kief, for they thought, and thought rightly, that Yuri would not yield without a struggle.

Yuri now summoned all his allies. Sviatoslav moved promptly and met Vladimir, son of David, in Chernigoff; then their forces sailed down in boats to Gorodok, where they joined Yuri. Izyaslav, the other son of David, joined the Kief princes. Rostislav of Smolensk came to Kief early with his forces. Yuri moved with his allies from Gorodok to the Dnieper and strove hard to cross, but was foiled in each effort by his nephew. Strengthened now by large forces of the Polovtsi, he marched toward the south and crossed at the second ford, below Kief, then turning back, he advanced on the capital. Izyaslav and his uncle, disposing their men in the city and around it, waited for the coming conflict.

“We are now ready for battle,” said Vyatcheslav to his nephews. “Yuri is my brother, though younger, and I wish to bring my seniority before him. God in his judgment considers the right side.” So he summoned an envoy and gave these instructions: “Go thou to Yuri, my brother: bow down to him in my name and say these words from me: ‘I have said often to thee, Yuri, and to Izyaslav, shed not Christian blood, ruin not the Russian land. I have tried to restrain thee from war. I have regiments and power of my own which God gave me. Still I have not fought for myself, though thou, Yuri, and also Izyaslav have deeply offended me, not one time, but many. Izyaslav, when going to fight against Igor, said that he was not seeking Kief for himself, but for me, his father. Then, when God gave him victory, he kept Kief for himself, and took also Turoff and Pinsk from me. That is how Izyaslav offended, but I, keeping Christians in mind and the Russian land, did not remember it against him. Thou, brother Yuri, when going to Pereyaslavl to fight against Izyaslav, didst say: “I seek not Kief for myself. I have an older brother who is to me as a father; I am seeking Kief for that brother.” But, when God aided thee to take Kief, thou didst keep it. Thou didst seize from me, besides, Dorogobuj and Peresopnitsa, and gavest me only Vyshgorod. Thus did ye wrong me. All this time I sought no redress out of love for the Russian land and for Christians. Ye would take no decision of mine; ye sought war. I strove to dissuade thee from war, but ye would not listen. Thy answer was that thou couldst not give homage to a junior. But Izyaslav, though he has failed [83]twice before in his word to me, has given now what is mine; he has yielded up Kief, and calls me father. Thou hast said: “I cannot bow down to a junior.” I am older than thou not a little; I was bearded before thou wert born. If it is thy wish to defy my seniority, God will render judgment.’ ”

To this Yuri answered: “I bow down to thee, brother; thy words are true, and well spoken. Thou art to me in the place of a father, and if it is thy desire to arrange matters clearly, let Izyaslav go to Volynia and Rostislav return to Smolensk. I will settle all questions then with thee.” “Brother Yuri, this is what I will say in answer,” retorted Vyacheslav. “Thou hast seven sons, and I do not hunt them away from thee. I have two adopted sons, Izyaslav and Rostislav, with some others still younger. I will add this: Do thou for the good of the Russian land and of Christians go to Pereyaslavl, thence to Kursk with thy sons, and beyond is Rostoff, thy great inheritance. Send home the sons of Oleg. After that we will settle, and shed no Christian blood. But if thou must have thy own way, the Purest Lady and her Son will judge between us.”

Yuri gave no answer to these words, but next morning he appeared before Kief with his forces. There was nothing but skirmishing till toward evening, when a part of each army engaged. The Kief troops drove back their opponents, and fought with such vigor that Yuri withdrew his whole force and marched westward to meet Vladimirko, his ally from Galitch, who, as he heard, was now hastening to join him. He appeared before Bailgorod, from which his son Boris had fled some time previously, and summoning the citizens, said: “Ye are my people, open the gates to me.” “Has Kief opened its gates?” was the answer. The gates remained closed, and Yuri marched farther. The Kief princes set out in pursuit and overtook him near Rut River, beyond Bailgorod. There they strove again to make peace, but failed, since the sons of Oleg and the Polovtsi opposed it.

As they could not come to terms, the Kief princes were anxious to force a battle before Vladimirko could strengthen their enemy. Yuri wished to defer the engagement till Vladimirko could join him. His first intention was to pass Rut River, prevent the Kief troops from crossing, and wait for his ally in a favorable position. But all his movements to gain time were useless, and he was compelled [84]to turn promptly to battle. Andrei, now Yuri’s eldest son, for Rostislav had died recently, ranged his father’s warriors in order of battle. “Thou hast striven much for the good,” said Izyaslav and his brother to Vyatcheslav, “but thy brother opposes at all times. We are willing, if need be, to lay down our lives to save thy rights for thee.” “My sons,” replied the old man, “I have been opposed all my life to bloodshed. We are on this field to-day because of Yuri. God will judge between him and me.”

Andrei advanced in the front rank, led the battle, and made the first lance cast. His lance broke, his shield was torn from him, his helmet was shivered, and he fell from the horse, which was wounded under him. Izyaslav also engaged in the front rank; thrown from his horse, he fell and was lost among the slain and wounded.

The battle was brief, but decisive. Izyaslav’s men fought willingly this time, while Yuri’s showed no heart in the struggle. His Polovtsi fled without using an arrow. After them fled the sons of Oleg, and next Yuri himself and his sons. Many prisoners were taken, many men slain. Among the slain was Vladimir, son of David, Prince of Chernigoff.

When the victors, returning, passed over the field after hunting their fugitive opponents, they saw a man trying to rise from a great pile of dead and wounded. Some foot warriors ran up and struck him. “I am a prince!” he was able to say. “Thou art the man we are seeking,” cried they, and slashed at his helmet, thinking him a son of Oleg, or David. “I am Izyaslav. I am your prince,” called he to them. They raised him then with gladness, and praised the Lord, who had saved him.

The Kief princes urged Izyaslav, son of David, to take his brother’s corpse, hasten with all the strength in him to Chernigoff, and sit on the throne before Sviatoslav could forestall him. (This was a real case of running for office.)

From the battlefield Yuri fled to the Dnieper, which he crossed, and then sped forward to Pereyaslavl for refuge. Sviatoslav fled to Gorodok, but as the son of Oleg was enormous in person, and mortally weary from fighting and fleeing, he could not move farther, though eager to do so. If he had had wings and could have used them, he would have flown through the air to Chernigoff; as it was, he sent forward his nephew, son of Vsevolod, who learned [85]at the Desna that Izyaslav, son of David, was already on the throne. Vladimirko of Galitch, on hearing of his father-in-law’s defeat, hastened homeward.

At last Vyatcheslav and his nephew were in safety on all sides. They returned to Kief, which they entered in triumph, and held the place with pleasure, at least for the moment.

Vladimirko of Galitch now dealt a sore blow at his enemies. Having heard that Mystislav, son of Izyaslav the Kief prince, was bringing in Hungarians, he lay in wait to destroy them. He found means to place a great quantity of wine within reach of the foreigners and they seized it and had a rich feast that evening. Just before daybreak Vladimirko attacked and slew nearly all of them, reserving but few for captivity. Mystislav escaped with his personal attendants. “If God give health to the king, and to me,” said Izyaslav, when he heard of the slaughter, “Vladimirko will pay for this dearly.”

Yuri, still in Pereyaslavl, was inciting Vladimirko, and collecting fresh Polovtsi, so the Kief princes marched to expel him. After fighting two days before the town, on the third they burned its outskirts and sent these words to Yuri: “We salute thee. Go thou to Suzdal. Leave a son in Pereyaslavl. We may not leave thee there; thou wouldst bring in Polovtsi.” Yuri could get no aid from Vladimirko or the Polovtsi. His own forces were greatly decreased, and he would not weaken Suzdal, hence he returned this answer: “I will march to Gorodok, remain there a time, and go afterward to Suzdal.” To this the reply was that he might remain one month in Gorodok, and then he must go to Suzdal. If he would not agree to this, they would attack Gorodok, as they had attacked Pereyaslavl. There was no escape now, so, though unwilling, Yuri and his son kissed the cross to go in one month to Suzdal. He promised also to make no attack on Kief while it was held by Izyaslav and his uncle, and his uncle made no treaty with Sviatoslav, son of Oleg.

Leaving his son Glaib in Pereyaslavl, Yuri went to Gorodok. Andrei, his eldest son, begged to go in advance to Suzdal. “We have naught now in this place,” said he to his father. Sviatoslav, hearing that Yuri had agreed with Vyatcheslav and his nephew, sent to Izyaslav, son of David, in his own name and in that of Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod, asking for what had belonged to their [86]fathers. Izyaslav gave those lands to them, but on condition of their leaving Yuri, and acting with the sons of Mystislav.

Yuri had not the heart to go home with defeat, and when the month had passed, and the time came to go to Suzdal he broke his oath and remained in Gorodok. Izyaslav with his warriors, the Prince of Chernigoff with his men, also the son of Vsevolod promptly moved against him. The son of Oleg sent his forces, but would not appear himself against his old ally. Yuri shut himself up in the place and fought, but at last he grew weary; he could not win victory alone, and no help was visible on any side. He was forced finally to swear again that he would go back to Suzdal. He went this time, and left his son Glaib in Gorodok. Because of the Gorodok oath breaking, Pereyaslavl had been taken from Glaib, and given to Mystislav, son of the Grand Prince.

On the way home, Yuri stopped to see his friend Sviatoslav, son of Oleg, who received him with honor and gave him things needed for his journey. This friendly visit caused, very likely, the meeting between the princes of Kief and Chernigoff in 1152 (Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod, was present at this meeting), at which they decided to deprive Yuri of his foothold between the South and Chernigoff. Then they razed Gorodok, fired the ruins and consumed the place utterly. They left not one thing on the site of it.

“Yuri sighed from his heart,” as the chronicler states, when he heard of this destruction, and began at once to rally his forces. Rostislav of Ryazan came with his brother; Sviatoslav, son of Oleg, broke his treaty with the Kief prince and came to aid Yuri. A great host of Polovtsi appeared from all hordes between the Don and the Volga. An immense army assembled. “They burned my Gorodok,” said Yuri, “and also the church in it. I will burn their cities in return.” And he marched on Chernigoff.

The Kief prince sent this message at once to his brother in Smolensk: “If Yuri moves against thy land, I will hasten to aid thee. If he passes thee, do thou hurry hither with warriors.” Rostislav saw that Yuri, when passing Smolensk lands, would strike at Chernigoff, so marching with speed he reached Chernigoff before his uncle, and shut himself in there with Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod. Polovtsi legions appeared that same day, and fell straightway to burning the suburbs.

Yuri himself with his allies came in sight the next morning. [87]Twelve days and nights did the Suzdal prince struggle with the city but the defense was so stubborn that he seized nothing, mastered no part of Chernigoff. On the thirteenth morning came news that Vyatcheslav and Izyaslav were hurriedly approaching with all the Kief forces. The Polovtsi, active at looting and burning, fled when they saw that real fighting and danger were near them, and Yuri was forced to withdraw. He went first to Novgorod, then to Rylsk, and was about to start for Suzdal when the son of Oleg reproached him as follows: “Thou art leaving me when thou hast ruined my property. All the grain in this land has been trampled by Polovtsi. Thy Polovtsi have fled, and thou thyself art deserting. After thee will come Izyaslav, and he will destroy what remains here because I broke faith with him, and gave thee assistance.” Yuri engaged to leave troops, but his words were merely vain promises. He left only fifty men of his guard, and Vassilko, his son, to protect all that country.

At Novgorod appeared Izyaslav, with his allies. In three days he was master of all save the innermost fortress. Sviatoslav, son of Oleg, asked then for peace, which the Kief prince wished at first to refuse, but he granted it finally and returned to Chernigoff. There he received news from his son, Mystislav, that he had overtaken and crushed Yuri’s Polovtsi, freed a great number of captives and recovered much booty. Yuri made still another effort, but a weaker one and his defeat was decisive.

Thus ended Izyaslav’s struggle with his uncle. Yuri’s main ally, Sviatoslav, was reduced to take gladly the place that was given him. There remained still another of Yuri’s assistants, the last one, his son-in-law, Vladimirko of Galitch, and to him Izyaslav now turned his attention. [88]




In 1151 the Kief prince and King Geiza of Hungary attacked Vladimirko near Peremysl, where, though hemmed in by the armies, he managed to escape to the town with a single attendant. He informed the king straightway, that, mortally wounded and dying, he begged him for peace and forgiveness. He sent also, through agents, great presents and bribes to Geiza’s attendants and to the archbishop. “Let me not die without peace or pardon,” implored he. “Great is my sin, but forgive me.”

Notwithstanding all protests from Izyaslav, peace and pardon were granted, Vladimirko promising to return the towns seized from Izyaslav, and to be his ally, both in defeat and in triumph. Vladimirko was lying in bed, as if mortally wounded, and seemed to dread his last hour, then approaching.

When King Geiza was sending officials with a cross, which the dying man was to kiss, Izyaslav objected with anger. “That man jests with every oath,” said he. “It is vain to send a cross to Vladimirko.” “This is the very wood on which died Christ our Lord,” explained Geiza. “By God’s will it came to Saint Stephen, my ancestor. If Vladimirko kisses this cross, survives, and breaks his oath, I will lay down my life, or capture Galitch and give it to thee. I cannot kill a man on his death-bed.”

Izyaslav yielded, but Mystislav, his son, who was present, added these words: “He will break the oath surely, and I repeat here before this holy cross, forget not thy word, O King of Hungary, but come again with thy warriors to Galitch, and do what thou hast promised.”

“If Vladimirko breaks his oath,” replied Geiza, “I will ask thy father to help me in Galitch, as he has asked me up to this time.” Vladimirko kissed the cross to do all that he had promised. [89]

On his way home Izyaslav sent posadniks to take possession of the towns which were to be returned to him. These men came back quickly with news that not one town had been given to them—one half of the oath was now broken. On learning that Yuri was marching against Izyaslav, Vladimirko at once sent troops to help Yuri, and thus broke the rest of his oath. He returned home only when the Grand Prince was marching against him a second time.

Izyaslav sent Borislavitch, his boyar, who had witnessed the oath on the holy cross of Saint Stephen, to demand the towns promised. “Say to Izyaslav,” said the Galitch prince, “that he attacked me unawares and perfidiously, that he brought a foreign king with him, and that I will either lay down my life, or avenge the wrong done me.” “But, thou hast taken an oath to the king and to Izyaslav,” said the boyar. “Wilt thou foreswear the cross?” “Oh, that little cross!” retorted Vladimirko. “Though that cross be small it is mighty,” said the boyar. “Men have told thee that Christ the Lord died on that wood, and that thou wouldst not live if thy promises were broken. Dost remember?” “I remember that ye spoke many words to me then, but leave this place now and go back to thy Izyaslav.”

While the boyar was leaving the courtyard, Vladimirko started for vespers, but halted to ridicule him. When, on his way back from the church, the prince reached the spot where he had stood to revile Borislavitch, he call out on a sudden: “Some one has struck me on the shoulder!” He could not move his legs, and would have fallen had men not seized him. He was borne to his chambers and placed at once in a hot bath, but he grew rapidly worse, and died that same night.

Borislavitch, who had passed the night at a village by the wayside, was roused hurriedly next morning at daybreak, and bidden to wait till the prince should recall him. Some hours later a second message came, asking him to return. When he reappeared at Vladimirko’s palace, servants clothed in black came out to meet him. In the chief seat was Yaroslav, son of Vladimirko, dressed in black; his boyars also were in black, every man of them. Yaroslav burst into tears as he looked at the envoy, who learned at once how Vladimirko had died in the night, though in perfect health a few hours earlier. “God has shown his will,” [90]said Yaroslav; “thou art called back to hear these words from me. Go thou to Izyaslav, bow down to him and say from me: ‘God has taken my father, be thou in his place. There were questions between thee and him, those questions the Lord will judge as he pleases. God has taken my father and left me here in place of him. His warriors and attendants are all at my order. I salute thee, O father, receive me as thou dost Mystislav, thy son. Let him ride at one of thy stirrups, and I with my forces will ride at the other.’ ”

The boyar went home with this message, which seems to have been sent to win time and lull Izyaslav, for no towns were returned, and all things remained as they had been.

Hence, in 1153, the Grand Prince again moved against Galitch. The two forces met at Terebovl, but the battle was strangely indecisive as to victory, though its results were more useful to Yaroslav than to the Grand Prince. One part of the Kief force defeated one part of Yaroslav’s army, while the other part of those forces was badly beaten and pursued by the Galitch men. Izyaslav, impetuous as usual, broke the ranks of his opponents and drove them far from the first place of onset, but his brothers and allies were beaten, and hopelessly scattered.

Izyaslav, having no forces with which to continue the struggle, returned to Kief and abandoned all plans against Galitch. Some months later he married a Georgian princess, and died shortly after, 1154. Kief and the south mourned greatly for this prince, and most of all mourned Vyatcheslav his uncle. “Thou art where I ought to be, but against God all are powerless,” sobbed the old man, bending over the coffin.

If in Kief men were saddened by this death, they rejoiced in Chernigoff immensely. Izyaslav, son of David, who yearned for Kief as a man yearns for her of whom he is desperately enamoured, set out for the city at once, but was stopped at the Dnieper by Vyatcheslav, who sent this inquiry: “Why hast thou come? Who has called thee? Go back to thy Chernigoff.” “I wish to weep over my cousin. I was far from him when he died. Let me weep at his coffin,” implored Izyaslav. By the advice of the boyars, and the son of the dead prince, this request was rejected. They dared not trust the son of David, and were waiting impatiently for Rostislav to take the place of his brother. [91]

Prompt action was taken meanwhile to divide the Chernigoff cousins. Vyatcheslav sent for Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod, who came at once, without knowledge of his uncle’s death. The Smolensk prince appeared at the earliest moment, and all felt relieved when Rostislav sat in the place of his brother, as a son and subordinate of Vyatcheslav, the Grand Prince, though really commanding. “Act,” said the Kief men, “as did thy brother, and Kief will be thine till thy death hour.”

The first act of Rostislav was a settlement with Sviatoslav, son of Vsevolod. “I give thee Turoff and Pinsk,” said he to this nephew, “because thou didst come to my father, I give thee good lands for that act of thine.” Sviatoslav took this large gift with gladness. There was need to attach him firmly, since his uncles of Chernigoff were treating already with Yuri, whose son Glaib was now marching on Pereyaslavl with a strong force of Polovtsi. Rostislav sent his son straightway to that city with assistance. The Polovtsi had attacked, but at sight of Kief warriors they withdrew beyond the Sula. Rostislav resolved then to march on Chernigoff, and crossing the Dnieper he was ready to move forward when a courier galloped up with the message: “Vyatcheslav, thy uncle, is dead!”

After the prince had been interred with great honor, Rostislav went back to the army and held a council: “Return to the capital,” said the Kief boyars, who wished to be sure of the offices. “Settle there with the people, and begin to rule anew well supported. If Yuri comes, make peace or war, as need dictates.” Rostislav did not take their advice, but moved on Chernigoff, sending this message first to Izyaslav, son of David: “Wilt thou kiss the cross to reign in Chernigoff, while I am in Kief?” “I know not what I have done to make thee march against me. If thou come, we shall have that which God gives,” was the answer.

But this far-seeing son of David had sent Polovtsi under Glaib to Pereyaslavl, and was in fact warring at that time with Rostislav. He now joined Glaib with great promptness. Rostislav, finding no zeal in Kief boyars, and thinking himself outnumbered and powerless, lost courage, and discussed terms of peace with the son of David. Such indecision roused Mystislav, son of the recent Grand Prince, who left his uncle with these words: “Soon neither thou nor I will have any place.” Rostislav, deserted by his nephew, [92]and outflanked by the Polovtsi, fought two days, and then fled, saving his life with much difficulty. The Polovtsi turned now toward Kief, which they threatened. “I wish to go to you,” was the message sent by Izyaslav to Kief citizens. The capital was helpless, Izyaslav was the one man to save it. “Come thou to Kief, lest the Polovtsi take us. Thou art our prince, come at once,” was the quick answer.

Izyaslav needed no second call. He appeared, took the throne of Kief, and sent Glaib, son of Yuri, to Pereyaslavl. When Yuri heard that Izyaslav, his nephew, was dead, and that Rostislav, his other nephew, was in Kief, he set out with strong forces immediately, and was nearing Smolensk, for which he intended the first blow, when he learned that Vyatcheslav, his brother, was dead; that Rostislav was defeated, that Izyaslav, son of David, was reigning in Kief, and Glaib his own son, was prince in Pereyaslavl.

Rostislav, who had reached Smolensk and had collected men, was marching to meet Yuri. Each now wished peace with the other. Yuri was hastening to Kief, which he coveted beyond everything else. Rostislav, who had no desire at that juncture for Kief, was glad to agree with his uncle, and they made peace with apparent sincerity. Yuri continued his march toward Kief, and Rostislav retired to his own capital. Near Storodub, Yuri met his old ally, Sviatoslav, son of Oleg, with whom was Vsevolod’s son, Sviatoslav, who appeared now with a prayer for reinstatement. “In days past I lost my mind altogether. Forgive me.” These were his words to Yuri. The son of Oleg interceded, and Yuri gave pardon, making Sviatoslav kiss the cross not to desert either him, or the son of Oleg. All three set out then for Chernigoff.

Before reaching that city the son of Oleg sent the Kief prince this message: “Go out of Kief, brother, Yuri is marching against thee.” Izyaslav was unwilling to leave Kief. A second message came, but he took no note of it. Thereupon Yuri sent these words: “Kief is my inheritance, not thine.” Without right, and without the special favor of the people, Izyaslav could not remain, so he answered: “I am here not of my own will; the Kief people sent for me. Kief is thine, but harm me not.” Yuri made peace with him and entered Kief, 1155, with four sons, whom he seated in regions about there,—Andrei in Vyshgorod, Boris in Turoff; Vassilko in the Ros country, and Glaib remained in Pereyaslavl. [93]

Thus the succession of Kief fell at last to the oldest man of the family. The heirs of Mystislav the Great could not stand against the seniority of Yuri their uncle. David’s descendants had dropped out still earlier; those of Oleg had perished. Yuri’s seniority now received perfect recognition; he had broken through every claim and given victory once more to the right of seniority. Once more and for the last time appeared a perfect reëstablishment of the old regime of Kief dominion, but in the person of Yuri it ended forever. In this was the fateful position of the last son of Monomach: Yuri Dolgoruki stood on the very line dividing the old from the new time in Russia. Even in the early days of this unresisted establishment of Yuri in Kief, there was dissatisfaction, for it was quickly manifest how unacquainted he was with the state of things there, and with the minds of the people. Though perhaps not wantonly cruel, according to the standards of that age, he was grasping and selfish, but as his grandfather, Monomach, was the most popular prince in Russian history, and Mystislav the Great, his father, was second only to the renowned Monomach, he, Dolgoruki, was endured as Prince of Kief, because of his family position. He held the office until death came to him, two years later, 1157, just before an effort was to have been made to expel him.

Yuri, when he became Grand Prince, wishing to keep Andrei near him, had given this favorite son the fortified town of Vyshgorod, fifteen versts distant from Kief, but Andrei was ambitious, and soon became dissatisfied with his humble and dependent position. Therefore he left Vyshgorod secretly and went to Vladimir, his birthplace, taking with him all his belongings and the miraculous image of the Mother of God painted, according to legend, by Saint Luke, and greatly valued by Russians.

This holy image had been brought from Tsargrad to Kief, especially for Yuri, and he had placed it in a cathedral in Vyshgorod.

When Andrei, with the help of the monks, secured the image, he intended to place it in a church in Rostoff, but after leaving Vladimir, and when ten versts beyond that city, the horses drawing the vehicle containing the holy image stopped suddenly, and could not be made to cross the river. Several times the horses were changed, but with no result. Thereupon Andrei declared to the [94]people present that the previous night the Mother of God had appeared to him in a vision with a charter in her hand, and had told him to put her image in a church in Vladimir.

The procession turned back at once, and the image was placed in the Vladimir church. Andrei commanded a church and monastery to be built on the spot where the Virgin had made herself manifest. He called this place Bogolyuboff, which means the love of God, and from it he received his own name later on. Henceforth all deeds of valor and prowess, and successes of every kind were ascribed to the miraculous image.

Yuri did not urge Andrei to return to Vyshgorod, nor did he insist upon his restoring the holy painting. Andrei could not have done so, in any case, for all people believed that the Mother of God had selected Vladimir as the home of her image.

After Yuri’s death his territory was divided, and Mystislav assumed the title of Grand Prince of Kief, though in reality there ceased to be any Grand Principality of Kief.

Born in the north, the city of Vladimir was dear to Andrei. Only through necessity did he go from it to serve in the various wars waged by his father. From youth, Andrei was famous as a warrior, and was the chief and right hand of Yuri. Prompt, energetic and resolute, he loved to be in the front rank of every battle, and on a mighty horse to tear through the heart of the enemy. He was greatly distinguished in war, excelling in management, in the knowledge of details, and in the power of going at once to the very root of a question. No matter what he undertook, he always proved himself a master.

In 1169 Andrei, becoming greatly dissatisfied with Mystislav’s management in Kief, formed a coalition of eleven princes, and marched with a large force against him. After three days Kief was taken by assault; during three more days the place was pillaged, the victors, in the frenzy of triumph, forgetting that they were Russians and that Kief was a Russian city. Everything of value, including the contents of churches, was carried away.

Through continual civil wars, and the increased power of wandering hordes, a condition of any permanency had become impossible, and the interest which Yuri took in Kief was not shared by Andrei. Yuri had founded Suzdal, but, notwithstanding that fact, he had spent most of his life in an effort to become Grand Prince of Kief. [95]Upon the decline of Kief, Suzdal, in the basin of the Volga, became the chief city, but loving neither Suzdal nor Rostoff, Andrei determined to make Vladimir the capital of Russia. The majesty of buildings had always attracted him, and he now invited from every part of Russia, not only skilled workers in stone and in wood, but clever craftsmen of all kinds. In Bogolyuboff he established many artificers; a whole ward was occupied by masters in silver and gold work, and makers of holy images. He brought in not only Russian artists, but artists from other lands, from Tsargrad and Italy. The chroniclers of those days were astonished at the great number of these persons.

Andrei spared neither treasure nor labor in ornamenting Vladimir. Remembering his ancestor, who had adorned Kief with the Golden Gate and the Tithe Church, he determined that his birthplace should equal Kief, the mother of Russian cities, hence he built the Assumption Cathedral, which was esteemed at that time a marvel, and during centuries it served in the North as a model for similar structures. The Assumption Cathedral in Moscow, once the place for crowning the Tsars of Russia, and where the Emperors are now crowned, was built on this model. He erected the Golden, as well as the Silver Gate, called thus because the church dome at one gate was of gold, while at the other it was of silver.

The city of Vladimir, adorned with beautiful buildings, and exalted by the presence of the marvelous image, became Andrei’s residence, and, because of the image and the residence, also the capital city. In spite of the opposition of boyars in Rostoff and Suzdal, the Assumption Cathedral of Vladimir became the main sanctuary of the Russian land, and gave primacy to the city. The North was no longer the land of Rostoff and Suzdal, it was mentioned more and more frequently as Vladimir. This Vladimir country included what are known now as the governments of Vladimir, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Moscow, Ryazan, Tuer, Nizni-Novgorod, Bailozero, in other words what is really Great Russia.

From time immemorial, in Russia the only place held in high honor was a place with a sanctuary. The people revered Kief, because the Christian faith had first been accepted there. In Kief there were relics and holy places and there also was the monastery in which the great monks Antonio and Fedosia had lived. Till [96]Andrei’s day, the immense northern land beyond the forest contained nothing sacred. Now two images, one made by Luke the Evangelist, and known as the Vladimir Mother of God, the other that of the Holy Virgin as she made herself manifest to Andrei in a vision, made Vladimir the first sanctuary in Russia.

Popular belief assigned the founding of the city to St. Vladimir the Apostle and Grand Prince. He had, in fact, come from Kief with the first metropolitan to baptize the pagan people of that region, but the city was founded only during the days when Vladimir Monomach was the ruler. It occupied, however, the spot on which the Apostolic Vladimir had camped, on his way to baptize the people of Rostoff and Suzdal, hence it was said that the city received its name from Vladimir the Apostle, the Purifier. Political power helped the religious idea, and religion gave strength to the policy.

In the mind of Yuri Dolgoruki the plan had been fixed firmly that his northern lands must remain undivided. One reason why he had struggled for Kief so persistently was to satisfy some of his sons in the South, while the North was to remain intact, and be given to his eldest son. Through increase of Vladimir’s descendants, and the separation of property, princes who had little land and no power became numerous. In extreme cases Yuri had divided out towns of Rostoff and Suzdal for the temporary use of those princes. Andrei’s brothers were not treated differently from others.

Having fixed himself at Vladimir as the one power, Andrei would not give any brother, or even any son, a bit of land in that region. His brothers and some of his nephews worked with him, but all did what he commanded; they were simply his agents, doing as he directed. And for them, he was the same lord precisely that he was for others. Of course the boyars signified less than the princes, whether the boyars were his own near advisers, or of the “ancient strong, local people,” “proud and powerful high persons,” as men called them. These boyars had been met by his father and conquered. They might have thought of struggling with Yuri Dolgoruki, but not with Andrei. Yuri had battled with one and another of them. When defeated some had fled to neighboring princes, others had been exiled, or imprisoned. But in Andrei’s time it might be said with truth that every question as to the strength of the prince or the boyars was settled. [97]

With those who opposed him, Andrei showed still less ceremony than had his father. He spared not his brothers, in the least degree. Those of the “ancient strong people” in Rostoff and in Suzdal who preferred the new order rallied round Andrei, and gave him full support. There were others, and those were in the majority, who warred against him in secret. For the time they threw out merely words like the following: “Rostoff is old, and a great place, and so is Suzdal; Vladimir is only an adjunct.” But these people knew that they were powerless against a prince who had the common men, the land-tillers and craftsmen in full force behind him. Because of this relation of common men to Andrei, and the hostility of most of the boyars and the wielders of weapons who had lost places, there rose reports and explanations quite opposite, the substance of which was expressed by the phrase: “There is a fierce battle in Rostoff and Suzdal.” This was uttered by “proud high people,” and by men thrown out of office. Common men used other phrases: “We love Prince Andrei. We love this grandson of Monomach. This prince never rests from his labor, he keeps his mind and conscience clear. He has love for God and man. He is firm and kind. He is good to the weak and to the ailing.”

Andrei’s wars were waged always to benefit Vladimir and the people. He had no thought for petty quarrels among princes, and never took part in them. A prince in his place needed no special army. Towns and cities in that region were numerous, and ever prompt to send warriors in defense of their interests. Whenever an enemy came, all people were ready to rise. Instead of a chosen legion, led by boyars, who, in the old time, surrounded the prince and curbed freedom immensely, Andrei received into his “courtyard” whomever he wished, people of all sorts, and even all origins. They were not called as in the old days drujina (friends), but dvoryani (court men). They lived in his court and around it in complete acquiescence; they were people of his court. Though the former name of drujina was not abandoned immediately, it lost its old meaning, and soon the prince’s assistants were known as dvoryani, a word translated later as noble. This word, used afterward to denote specially the highest people of Moscow, had its origin in the Vladimir of Andrei.

The wars carried on by Andrei had a definite policy. If he gave aid to some prince who annoyed him by imploring, this aid was [98]limited to sending a small detachment. But he defended those who asked assistance against enemies more by a threat than by fighting. If he warred, as happened later, he did so in the interest of his own principality. His problem was to manage freely in Kief and in Novgorod for the benefit of Vladimir. When one or another prince asked his permission to reign in Kief, the mother city, that prince had to take an oath not to meddle with Novgorod. Andrei did not care about Kief, but between Novgorod and Vladimir there were endless dissensions, which rose from the fact that Vladimir and Novgorod were neighbors. Novgorod, rich in commerce, was poor in land, and had to get wheat and rye from Vladimir or regions beyond it. “Vladimir and Novgorod stood face to face as opponents.” And besides the question of grain on one side and of trade on the other was that of the boundless North with its treasures. Novgorod claimed that northern region, claimed all of it. Wherever a foot of land presented itself Novgorod wanted that to be the land of a man in its service. This proud understanding of things was expressed by the phrase: “Who can stand against God and Lord Novgorod?” But into those northern places had entered Rostoff and Suzdal, and now they were dealing with Andrei of Vladimir.

From times before Rurik, Novgorod men had the wish for dominion, but they could not have this unless they could find a man to keep order, and be at the same time their servant. That was why they had summoned Rurik. The Novgorod men had explored the great North and East, and knew that its size was enormous. They counted as theirs that northeastern region, but there was one corner, White Lake, which Vladimir could claim. Of this corner Novgorod might not say beyond doubt: “It is mine,” still the city laid claim to it. In Yuri’s day, Daniel the Hermit was sent by him to take possession of a point north of White Lake, which place lapped over the Novgorod boundary, and caused endless quarrels. But the real origin of the dispute was the water connection between the Neva and the Volga—the so-called Dvina tribute. This was the source of the continual dissension between Novgorod and Vladimir. Of this tribute and other questions we shall hear later.

Andrei made a campaign to Bulgar, a town on the Volga. Possessing already the upper course of that river, he must have [99]command of its lower course, at least to the point where the Kama falls into it. Somewhat lower than the entrance of the Kama, which finds its source in the great Ural Mountains, was the city Bulgar. This time Andrei led the army in person. Under him were Ryazan princes. He took the Vladimir Mother of God to arouse the courage and strength of the army. The confidence which this holy image gave to the warriors passed every description. When the Vladimir men entered the country of “unbelievers” the clergy went in front of them bearing the image, and while preparing for battle, they turned to the “Commanderess” with prayers for her blessing.

The Bulgar campaign gave a great victory. Andrei’s forces captured all that they met in that country and seized Bryahimoff, the chief town. Wherever the enemy appeared, they were scattered. Vast booty was seized, and many lands were annexed to Vladimir. The chief encounter took place August 1st, a day famed in the Russian calendar till then as the day of the Maccabees, but thence forward changed to the day of the Merciful Saviour. Andrei, seeing in this victory special favor, conveyed news of it speedily to Manuel, the Greek Emperor. In Tsargrad, on that very day, they were celebrating a victory over Saracens in Asia. On comparing dates it was found that the victory in Asia and that on the Volga coincided. Hence the Orthodox Church in both lands determined that the day should be called ever after the day of the Merciful Saviour.

Andrei’s friendship in Tsargrad was great both with Emperor and Patriarch, and he hoped that this friendship might aid him in giving Vladimir the first place in Russia. He had resolved to raise it, not merely above northern cities, but above Kief, the old capital. The problem was difficult, but he must attempt it. In church matters Vladimir was still under Kief, whose metropolitan had power in all Russia. Vladimir had its bishop, but he lived in Rostoff, a rival city. Now that Andrei had built the great golden-domed church, and had subdued Volga regions, he intended to make his Vladimir the capital of Russia in every sense,—not merely independent as to Kief,—but superior, and resolved that the metropolitan of all Russia should reside there.

Andrei summoned princes, boyars and people to Vladimir, and said to them: “This city was founded by Saint Vladimir, [100]the Grand Prince who enlightened all Russia by baptism. I, though unworthy and sinful, have by God’s aid exalted the Christian faith and extended it. I have adorned the church of the glorious and holy Mother. I have given lands to it, and one tenth of my income, I wish Vladimir to be the capital, the head of all cities in Russia.” No man said a word to oppose this.

Russian princes in regard to some things communicated with the Patriarch in Tsargrad directly; on occasions they sent presents, and at times they sent envoys, but when church affairs were discussed they were forced to act through the Kief metropolitan.

Andrei sent a special envoy in this case, whose name, Yakov Stanishavitch, is preserved to us. The prince explained in a letter that Vladimir was at the head of a new, immense country where the Christian faith, unknown till recently, had become firmly fixed and widely extended. Vladimir needed more strength and order in church service; she prayed to receive a metropolitan. Boundless regions were now in light, regions which, till his father’s day and his own, had been in darkness. His recent victories had opened up new and vast countries. Andrei spoke a greater truth than he himself realized. He had in fact opened up a new world in such form and meaning as no man at that time comprehended.

The boyars gazed with dread on him. Well might they ask: “How far will his plans go? Does he think to enforce them on all Russia? Will he not take power from us, and every significance? If he makes Vladimir the great mother city, where shall we find a place in it?”

In due time came the answer to Andrei’s letter. The Patriarch praised the zeal of the prince in planting truth in new places, approved of his bringing order to lands hitherto without it, but while revering that for which Andrei was toiling so earnestly, his Humility the Patriarch could not grant the prayer of Prince Andrei, because the Kief metropolitan already had jurisdiction in those northern lands. If the prince had won new lands, in regions apart and divided geographically, the question would have been different, but the regions under discussion could not be taken from their present right relations without violating ancient rules and destroying Christian truth as existent. Andrei had asked in the name of religion and truth, concealing his chief, if not his only object. The Patriarch answered in the same way,—the [101]inevitable and ever recurrent method of masking the main point. Andrei was obliged to abandon the project.

During his father’s life, Andrei had married the daughter of Kutchka, a boyar who had been put to death by Yuri. In family life Andrei knew little, if any happiness. All his children died earlier than he, except one, the youngest son, Yuri, who married Queen Tamara of Georgia and died in the Trans-Caucasus, prematurely, after painful adventures. Neither from his wife nor her relatives had Andrei witnessed good-feeling. No matter how he strove to draw near the Kutchkas, no matter what he spent in lavish kindness toward them and their friends, they ever cherished for him a hatred which nothing could extinguish. The same might be said of the men near Andrei. He had removed his drujina and the boyars, and chosen new people. He treated those people with such kindness and so liberally that he might hope to see them grateful. “Father,” “Giver of good,” “Bestower of pleasant things,” “Nourisher” were the only words which they might with honesty have said of him. These were the terms used in satire by those men who witnessed but did not receive this attention. It was with the following words that all described Andrei,—all save the circle which opposed him. “The beloved father, the nourisher of orphans, kind and gentle, simple and strong, putting his arms round the poor, loving those who are abandoned, giving them to eat and drink, like his great ancestor Monomach.” He was holy also, though men did not know it. He had commanded that at any time of the day or night, if there were a really needy man or woman, that man or woman should be nourished. He had also built houses where the sick and the unprotected might be received and cared for.

From his youth Andrei, with all the kindness ascribed to him by the people, had not many friends, because he was abrupt in manner, and as he grew older this abruptness became more apparent. The expulsion of boyars and men who had been connected with his father caused great discontent, and now his one prop was the people, who, though with him to a man, were not in physical touch with him. He had incensed the princes because he commanded at all points in Russia as he did in his own house. There were reasons enough why princes and boyars desired the death of Andrei. Much was said about [102]defense against such a man. Reports were even current that Glaib of Ryazan and his boyars were plotting against him, and that Rostoff and Suzdal boyars had joined with Glaib. While men might expect action from this point, Andrei fell a victim to what seemed a conspiracy of his servants and relatives. In any case he died at the hands of his servants, brought to the deed, it may be, by keen machinations of princes and boyars. That princes and boyars were the movers, and the others only the instruments, there is, however, no formal proof. The story of the crime is as follows:

The whole number of assassins was twenty. Four men were the leaders in the murder,—Takin, whose personality is uncertain; Pyotr, son-in-law of one of the Kutchkas, Anval the key-bearer, at that time a great favorite, and Yevfrem Moiseitch, a converted Jew. A report was spread, on Friday, June 28th, 1174, that Andrei intended to summon and execute one of the Kutchkas. That same day the four men made this decision: “To-night, when Andrei lies down to sleep, we will kill him.” In the darkness between Friday the 28th and Saturday the 29th the key-bearer, Anval, stole from Andrei’s chamber the sword of Prince Boris, which had been an heirloom in Vladimir Monomach’s family. On the afternoon of that day, Andrei’s wife had gone on a visit. In the evening Andrei lay down to sleep without anxiety or suspicion. On the floor in the room lay one of the little serving boys called “Bones,”—thus are they termed in the chronicles. The murderers were completely armed. They came to the house, but when at the entrance fear seized them and they ran out again. To get courage they went to find drink. After they had drunk sufficiently, they returned and groped their way in the darkness. Having found the door of the chamber where Andrei was sleeping, one of them tapped at it lightly. “Who is there?” called the prince. The man who had knocked answered: “Prokofi.” The assassins heard the prince say: “That is not the voice of Prokofi.” Hearing this, they burst the door in with one effort. Andrei, suspecting the deed, sprang up and grasped for his sword; the sword was not there. The two men who entered first Andrei put down quickly. There being no light in the chamber, the assassins struck at random and hit their own men till they found Andrei. He, being strong, fought in the darkness a long time. The battle was [103]stubborn, but since twenty men were fighting with one, they at last overpowered him. The victim groaned as he said: “God will take vengeance on you for my bread, which you have eaten.” They hastened to finish. The breath seemed to halt in Andrei as if the soul were going out of him, and he lay on his back in agony. They gave him, as they thought, final blows, and waited in the darkness, till every sound ceased in his body, and they found no trace of breath in him. Then, taking with them a man whom Andrei had killed in the struggle, they started to grope their way out, but they could not go quickly, for in fear and in darkness the right passage was missed. Halting a moment, they discovered it, and going down the stone stairs to the open, again visited the mead cellar. Coming back, they stood a while to recover from the inner air, and from terror of the deed just accomplished.

While this was taking place Prince Andrei, who had been left for dead, regained consciousness. He sat up and remembered with difficulty what had happened; then, leaving the room, he began to descend the stone stairway slowly, but as he went he betrayed himself. He might have escaped had he gone down in silence, but he could not suppress groans of anguish. The assassins heard those groans. “He is not killed!” whispered one in alarm. They returned to the chamber hurriedly; Andrei was not there. “Where is he?” asked one of another. “Quick! quick! we must find him!” They struck a light and, through blood which had dropped from the wounds of the prince as he passed down the stairway, they discovered him. Andrei, who saw the men coming, rose and stood behind a stone pillar near the entrance to his palace, and when they saw him, he cried: “O God, receive Thou my spirit!” Those were Andrei’s last words, He struggled no longer in mind, but still he raised his hand and they cut off his arm at the shoulder. Thus died Andrei, son of Yuri Dolgoruki, slain in his own house, by men whom he had treated justly and with kindness.

The next work of the murderers was to kill Prokofi, the favorite of the prince, and their opponent. After the death of Prokofi they began to pillage. Before daylight they had emptied the palace, the cellars, the places where holy images were made, and the workshops where cloth of gold and of silver was woven and where precious stones were set. Everything had vanished, gold, silver, silk, satin, rich furs, weapons, and rare objects which Andrei [104]had possessed in abundance. At daybreak Bogolyuboff was as empty “as a hollow, old tree.” The assassins were gone, each stolen thing had been secreted. To remove those things quickly they had taken all the horses, even those used in the personal service of the prince. They now sent men to Vladimir to declare what had taken place. “Have no feeling against us,” said they to the people. “The thing done has happened in spite of us.” “We know not who were with you,” replied the Vladimir men, “but whoever they were, they will answer for this vile murder.”

In Vladimir the boyars feared the morrow, and with reason, for common men loved Andrei. And now came the clashing of forces. Men who had land and lived from it through the labor of others had been opposed to Andrei, but those who themselves tilled land had been on his side. These two groups stood face to face now like two armies. What was to be done? Among boyars and the powerful at this time of peril, there was no confidence in their own leaders. If there had been a leader in whom they could have trusted, they would surely have conquered, but that man was lacking. The leader of the people had been Andrei; now he was gone, and both sides were helpless.

At first there was utter discouragement in Vladimir, a paralysis of mind for the moment. Meanwhile no one knew where the body of Andrei was; no one knew what the murderers had done with it till Kuzma, a former servant of the dead prince, discovered it. This faithful man, who feared only God and loved no man on earth save Andrei, did not cease his questions: “Where is the prince? Where is his body?” “We threw it into the garden,” replied one of the assassins at last, with great insolence. “But go not near. We threw out the body that the dogs might devour it. If thou go near, men will kill thee.”

The old servant said nothing, but sought for the body and found it. “O thou my master and friend!” cried he, weeping. “Didst thou not feel the approach of those murderers, thou who didst terrify thousands so many times?” As he was weeping he turned, and through an opening saw the eyes of the key-bearer, Anval. “O thou enemy, why art thou looking?” called he then. “Give me some garment to cover my lord’s body, O thou heretic!” “Be off!” called out Anval; “dogs will eat up that body.” “Give this body to dogs! Remember, O reprobate, in what [105]clothes thou didst come to Prince Andrei; now thou art in velvet and cloth with gold threads in it, while thy lord is lying dead here, and naked. Even such as thou art, throw out to me something to cover my master.”

Anval threw out an upper garment and a piece of carpet. Kuzma covered the body, wrapped it in the carpet and carried it on his shoulders to the church, but no one would open the door to him. “Do not come with him here,” said they. At that moment all near were either on the side of Andrei’s enemies or in dread of them. Kuzma put down the body before the door and cried, stooping over it: “Thou my master, thou, O strong prince, thy lowest servants do not regard thee. Thou, O my master, who didst conquer the Balgars, and gain immense countries, art not admitted to the church which was built by thee. We are here at the door of it, I living and thou dead, and no one will admit us.”

The body lay there two days, wrapped in the carpet and guarded continually by Kuzma. In Vladimir the people were waiting in dread of the future. Those were two evil days, opened by murder and robbery in Bogolyuboff, and succeeded by violence from Andrei’s enemies. Every treasure was carried off, all that their hands could lay hold of. If any servant was faithful, he was slain without mercy. In neighboring villages they killed those who held office from Andrei, or were known to be friends of his. They raised riots to excite evil passions and help men to forget themselves. But many of those who committed such deeds were afraid, and with reason, that punishment would strike them from Vladimir.

That which failed the Vladimir men, namely courage, and which had to come, if it came, from some other source, came from the clergy, and began in the Golden-domed Church of Vladimir. The chief priest there was Mikulets, that same priest who in Vyshgorod had care of the holy image, and later assisted in bringing it to Vladimir. After consulting with other priests, Mikulets, arrayed in his robes, bore the sacred image of the Mother of God through the city. A procession followed him. The conspirators were dumb and complete quiet reigned in Vladimir. The people recovered their minds at once, and all joined the clergy, who had great power, for the common people were with them. After that men talked on the street and in other places about the need of burying Prince Andrei with honor, of bringing his body from [106]Bogolyuboff and placing it in the Golden-domed Church which he had erected. The moment that this was decided upon, the citizens formed a guard for protection. Seeing this, the conspirators lost all courage.

In Bogolyuboff also the clergy now showed the bravery and the decision necessary to meet the blind insolence of those insurgent and riotous boyars, who thought that because they had had the upper hand for a moment they would have it forever. On the third day Arsenie, an abbot, took action. “Is our prince,” said he, “to lie before the church door unconsidered, guarded by Kuzma? Open the door, and I will chant the sacred words over the body. I will place it in the coffin myself, if no man will help me. God will then have mercy and make an end of this disorder. Men will come from Vladimir to bear hence the coffin with reverence.” Andrei’s body was put in a coffin, and placed in front of the altar, and all the people of the city wept and sang in the sacred service.

On the sixth day the men of Vladimir asked of the clergy a burial the most imposing and majestic that could be given. It was arranged that the clergy of Bogolyuboff, in complete church array, with crosses and emblems, were to follow behind the coffin, and with them Kuzma, the old servant who had sat two days and nights before the church door, guarding the body of his master. The clergy of Vladimir were to meet them between the two places.

When the Vladimir people met the procession, they were shown the highest honor. The Bogolyuboff men, ready to receive them, stood around the coffin, and those who had been appointed to take the coffin received it and moved on toward the city with awe, and with great weeping. The road was thronged with a multitude of persons, filled with reverence. All came forward to make the sign of the cross and look at the coffin as it was borne toward its resting-place. No man could restrain his tears, as he wailed, “O our friend, art thou gone from us, thou who built the Golden-domed Church of the Holy Mother? Art thou gone from us?”

Every man held it his duty to make the sign of the cross and repeat a prayer for the soul of Andrei. Day and night continued those prayers, which people thought it a privilege to say over the body of their prince, and the prayers offered by the Vladimir people, and by a multitude of pilgrims from all parts of that northern region in behalf of the victim, continued to increase for a long time. [107]From that day to this the people who wish to pray for Andrei are not decreasing in number. To our time, in the chief church of Vladimir on the right side, as one enters the northern door, stands the coffin of Andrei, and near it on the wall is his portrait. Six miles from Vladimir is a single church, which marks the site of Bogolyuboff. There also stands a part of the stone building in which Andrei lived, some of the walls with their heavy arches, and the stone column behind which the prince stood when his murderers gave him the last blow.

A gloomy tradition is preserved among the people, touching the assassins and their punishment. The Kutchkas and Anval were hanged, and fifteen men were decapitated. Andrei’s princess, who it was thought had had knowledge of the plot, was sewed up alive in a canvas bag and put into a basket holding stones sufficient to sink it. That done, a cloth was wrapped around the basket and this cloth sewed together securely. The basket was then thrown into the lake, and it vanished immediately.

The following legend has immortalized the history of Andrei’s death. Near Vladimir is a dark, swampy lake. In that weird lake is a spot which the people call “Floating Island.” On that island are seen dark patches, which move hither and thither when the wind blows. Every anniversary of Andrei Bogolyuboff’s murder, noises like groans are said to come forth from the depths of that lake, now known as Foul Water—into this foul water the basket containing Andrei’s false princess was thrown, and into it were hurled also the murderers’ bodies.

Of Andrei there remains in the minds of the Russian people a bright and pure memory. From every part of Russia come pilgrims to Vladimir to pray before his coffin. With the blood of a martyr, the prince sprinkled the house in which he lived. In the moments of his bitterest agony he parted from this world with the words, “O God, receive Thou my spirit,” and to that coffin people turn now, saying: “Pray thou for us also, that the Lord may assist us against enemies.”

Immediately after the death of Andrei, men of the party opposed to him in Suzdal and Rostoff began to ask: “What are we to do, now that our prince is gone? With whom can we replace him? Ryazan is our neighbor; if Ryazan princes attack, what shall we do without a leader? Shall we not take a Ryazan prince? [108]The wife of their ruling prince is a daughter of Rostislav, son of Yuri Dolgoruki; she is a relative of our late prince. Let us find a prince in Ryazan; that is better.” The boyars sent confidants to Vladimir, who declared to the friends of Andrei: “Ye are not many in number; ye would better not oppose Rostoff and Suzdal; your city is still a dependency. It is wise for you to agree with us. If ye hold to the plans of Andrei, we will meet you with war to the death. The Ryazan princes may also attack you.”

Volunteers from Rostoff and Suzdal hovered round, as it were, to support all these statements. In Vladimir the “smallest people,” as they called themselves, and those who were not in the boyar conspiracy, gave answer in this form: “Whose is with you, is not on our side.” The boyars wanted a prince who would not punish those who had caused the murder of Andrei. They wanted a prince who would be an opponent of all that Andrei had established, hence they selected two nephews of Andrei, two orphans, sons of Rostislav, Andrei’s elder brother, who died early.

In Ryazan itself, where the conspiracy had originated, there was joy, but words were few: no discussion was needed; all knew exactly what they wanted. In Rostoff and Suzdal the plan existed even before Andrei was assassinated. Glaib of Ryazan, when envoys came to him to ask for a prince in place of Andrei, was greatly delighted. To those envoys he added others, and all went to Chernigoff, where the orphans were living.

When the envoys appeared before Sviatoslav, he saw at once the meaning of the embassy and was not pleased with the project of choosing the orphans. He insisted that Mihalko and Vsevolod, brothers of Andrei, who were in Chernigoff, should go to Vladimir in company with Mystislav and Yaropolk (the orphans).

On hearing of this, the Rostoff and Suzdal boyars were angry, and sent a message saying that Mihalko and Vsevolod were not to come nearer than Moscow. Mihalko paid no attention to the message, but hastened to Vladimir, where the people received him with gladness, and prepared for a siege by the boyars. Meanwhile Glaib of Ryazan, bringing Rostoff and Suzdal forces, with Mystislav and Yaropolk, attacked the city. A siege of seven weeks brought the people to famine and a surrender on promise that no harm should meet any man. Mihalko and Vsevolod went back to Chernigoff, and the new princes, after hearing the statement [109]of the Vladimir men: “Not against you have we struggled, but against the boyars of Rostoff, who boasted: we will scorch you, and then send a posadnik to rule. Ye are our slaves, O ye masons and carpenters,” took oath to give kindness and peace to the people.

But their position was impossible. The boyars, who had insulted Vladimir and forced those two princes upon the country, were the real masters. Their friend, Glaib of Ryazan, did what seemed good to him; his troops sacked villages in every direction and burned them. Rostoff boyars got what they wanted; they and their friends took all the offices of value. The importance of Vladimir was leaving it daily. The cathedral was plundered, the holy images taken, and the chief one, that of the Mother of God, was given to Glaib. He got also the sword of Boris, inherited from Monomach, as well as silver and gems from the churches. He got much for he had helped much, and might help still more in the future. Soon the position became unendurable. The plan of the boyars was evident. They were undoing the work of Andrei, reducing and robbing Vladimir, and enslaving common people. Seeing this clearly, the Vladimir men were enraged to the utmost, and sent at once for Mihalko and Vsevolod. The brothers set out from Chernigoff immediately, but at the Oká Mihalko fell ill and was carried on a litter to Moscow, where envoys from Vladimir were waiting.

The boyars prepared now for a life and death struggle. Yaropolk was sent with forces toward Moscow to cut off Andrei’s brothers from Vladimir. But they were well on their way, and Yaropolk missed them in the deep forests of that time. On learning this, he sent a swift courier with warning to Mystislav, who hastened at once to cut off Mihalko and Vsevolod. He met them near Vladimir, and rushed at them “as if to devour them,” says the chronicler. But as his chief forces were militia without marks to distinguish them from other men, they became mixed and confused with the men of Vladimir, and had to cease fighting. That at least was the tale told when they were reproached by the boyars. The truth was, as it seems, that the common men of Rostoff and Suzdal would not fight against those of Vladimir, and whatever struggle there was, was sustained by the personal following of the boyars. [110]

Mihalko and Vsevolod, in after years called “Big Nest” because of his many children, were installed June 15, 1176, a great and memorable day for Vladimir. The people praised the Lord and His Holy Mother for their ready assistance. “Oh,” said they, of the Ryazan and Suzdal boyars, “they did not care for God’s truth; they boasted that they would do what they liked with us. Well, God did not let them offend us.” The defeated princes vanished; Mystislav fled to Novgorod, and Yaropolk sought refuge in Ryazan.

The new princes gave peace to the whole country promptly, and then, resolved to settle with the faith-breaking Glaib of Ryazan, they marched against him that summer. Their success had thus far been so signal that Glaib was alarmed and sent envoys with this message: “I bow down to you; I am to blame in every way. All that was seized by Mystislav and Yaropolk and given to me, I will gladly return.” He sent back the treasures with the holy image, and the sword of Boris that Andrei had kept in his bed-chamber. Peace was made, and the princes returned to Vladimir. [111]




Peace in Vladimir was short-lived, however. Mihalko died that year, 1176. The men of Vladimir acknowledged Vsevolod and kissed the cross to him, as did all the Suzdal men then in Vladimir. The popular voice was in favor of Vsevolod, but the boyars of Rostoff insisted that in the oath given to the late prince no mention had been made of his brother, hence no man was bound to consider him as heir of Mihalko, and this occupation of the throne was illegal. “Come to us quickly!” said the boyars, in a message to Mystislav. “We will have none but thee to rule over us.”

Vsevolod marched now with his forces toward Suzdal, but the people were not altogether satisfied with him; they complained of his kindness, and his self-effacing politeness to rebels. He had sent to Mystislav, his nephew, saying: “Vladimir and Pereyaslavl have kissed the cross to me; they are mine. Rostoff has sent for thee. Let it be so; stay thou in Rostoff. Let Suzdal wait; whomever Suzdal chooses will be prince there.” Mystislav was not opposed to this offer, but the boyars who had sent for him would not consider it and said: “If thou think to be reconciled with thy uncle, we will not permit thee.”

Mystislav now invaded Vladimir, and from Yurieff sent his uncle a message, which was something between a demand and a request to visit him for a personal conference. Vsevolod seemed ready to go, but when his partisans heard of the matter their anger was very great. “Think not,” cried they, “to visit the camp of the enemy. Those people are seeking thy life; they are oath-breakers, all of them. Are we to perish because thou art soft-hearted?”

So Vsevolod refused the request and a fierce battled ensued with Mystislav, his nephew, near Yurieff. The boyars of Rostoff and [112]their followers fought with great valor. The men of Vladimir, “the masons and carpenters,” needed no urging to pay back the insults which they had received, and strike down the men who had tried to enslave them. The battle hung long in even balance, till the Pereyaslavl men “tore forward with all their strength,” and pushed back the right wing of Mystislav’s forces; at this juncture the Vladimir men, aided by a regiment from Suzdal, swept everything before them. Mystislav fled from the field with few followers; not many of his adherents could save themselves. His two main advisers, Dobrynya Dalgi and Ivanko Stefanovitch, fell in the battle. The surviving boyars were seized and bound with ropes. Mystislav made his way to Novgorod, but Novgorod men conducted him out of the city with these words: “God has given judgment against thee, in the dispute between thee and thy uncle.”

He went then to Glaib of Ryazan for assistance. Glaib gave fresh aid to his brother-in-law, and they raided Vladimir territory at once, plundering and burning all before them. At last they burned Moscow. This action forced Vsevolod to leave Rostoff regions, and make ready to attack Glaib’s inheritance. But Glaib marched home quickly from Moscow, and Vsevolod deferred the attack till his forces were properly assembled. Novgorod of its own will had offered volunteers. From Chernigoff were coming Oleg and Vladimir, sons of Sviatoslav, with good warriors. From southern Pereyaslavl on the Alta were coming men under Vladimir, Vsevolod’s nephew. Vsevolod set out for Ryazan toward the beginning of winter, but on the way halted at Kolomna, where he received most astonishing intelligence,—intelligence which turned his campaign in another direction.

Glaib with his two sons, and with Mystislav, who led a large force of Polovtsi, had gone by other roads to Vladimir, the capital. The Polovtsi were plundering, burning, and taking captives; Glaib had given them a free hand on every side. He himself had seized Bogolyuboff, had torn down the chief doors of its church and stripped the place of everything.

Vsevolod, moving with swift marches toward his capital, found the invaders in a strong camp near the Koloksha, a river flowing into the Klyasma, some miles from Vladimir. The Polovtsi had their thousands of prisoners in stockaded pens, while Glaib’s booty-laden [113]wagons were arranged in a place at that time inaccessible. Both he and the Polovtsi were beyond the river. Winter was beginning, but the season was capricious beyond parallel. Frosts, thaws, rains, followed one another unexpectedly, and made the passage of the river dangerous and exceedingly difficult, hence the two armies stood a whole month there facing each other. Glaib wished for peace, but Vsevolod would not grant it. Glaib had not been offended by Vsevolod. He had listened to evil tales from Rostoff men and from Mystislav; he had brought in the Polovtsi; he had plundered the churches and pillaged Vladimir; his punishment must meet him.

Vladimir of Pereyaslavl on the Alta at last led troops across the river, and took a flank position against Mystislav, Glaib’s ally. After this, reinforcements crossed over in numbers to strengthen him, Vsevolod remaining meanwhile on the other bank of the river: Glaib, thinking to cut Vsevolod off and capture him, pushed across the river. While he was making this movement, Vladimir struck with great impetus on Mystislav, put his warriors to flight and pursued them. Glaib’s men crossed the river, but seeing their comrades in flight on the other side, fell into disorder. Vsevolod charged now quickly, and a general rout was the end of the battle. Oleg and Vladimir, sons of Sviatoslav, rushed forward to hunt down the Polovtsi. Their warriors were trained well in sword-play, and they spared no man. Of the Polovtsi only those who were swiftest and strongest could save themselves. Joyous shouts were raised in the pens which the pagans had built around their captives, freed now by that fortunate battle. Mystislav was made prisoner. Nearly all his advisers were slain; those who survived were bound with hemp ropes and taken to Vladimir.

The return of the victors to the capital was a triumph such as no man there had ever seen or imagined. In front of all rode the princes, Oleg and Vladimir, who had hewn down the Polovtsi; next came the bound prisoners, the boyars, then Vsevolod the conqueror, and last of all came the captives saved from the Polovtsi by the battle. Delight was unbounded in Vladimir, where there were mothers who had been weeping for sons, and wives for husbands whom they had looked on as lost to this world. To crown the whole victory were the treasures and booty seized from the Polovtsi. [114]

After the triumph came questions of policy, and here the prince and the people differed greatly. “He is too kind,” said the people. “He does not understand those traitors, their plans and their wickedness. He is too innocent, too good-hearted.” Still Vsevolod’s celebrated “good-heartedness” was what bound the people to him. They believed him to be honest and kind. But they saw in the captured boyars vile enemies with whom there could be no compromise. They were traitors who had burned, robbed and slain, and were not to be forgiven. They accused the Ryazan princes and boyars openly of framing the plot to kill Andrei. They accused Glaib’s brother-in-law and his adherents of being connected with the murder, because they exhibited no enmity toward the assassins.

All the inhabitants met and took counsel. Then, going to Vsevolod, they addressed him thus: “We are willing to lay down our lives for thee, and will spare nothing. But those Ryazan prisoners are treated as if they were guests in our city. In secret they are preparing to attack us, and will do so if freed from prison. We ask thee to punish these enemies with death, or if not with death to put their eyes out. If thou wilt do neither, deliver them to us. We will care for them.”

It was difficult for Vsevolod to restrain the people who stood there before him. He promised to keep the prisoners, not as guests, but in strictness, and to treat future captives more sternly. He declared also that he had sent a demand to deliver other enemies to Vladimir; if not, he would march to Ryazan with his warriors. But prayers for the captives came now from many sides. Mystislav the Brave, who had married Glaib’s daughter, begged Sviatoslav of Chernigoff to free the prisoners if possible. A whole embassy came from Chernigoff with the bishop at the head of it. In Vladimir the report spread that Vsevolod was weakening. There was anger a second time, and more danger than ever. The people threatened to break open the prisons and slay the captives, or at least blind them. The crowd gathered in greater numbers than before. Vsevolod went out to them, accompanied by the bishop, and declared that the Ryazan princes would not be freed until all the conditions were complied with. The bishop spoke to the people, who answered: “We wish not to break faith, we ask only that God’s justice be dealt out to traitors. The Lord himself, [115]seeing their wickedness, has delivered them to us. Are we free to liberate such criminals?”

Seeing this intense feeling, Vsevolod gave his final decision: “Yaropolk and Mystislav will be freed only when blinded. If Glaib yields not the cities which we demand of him, he will stay in prison till he dies there.” On hearing this the people went to their homes somewhat pacified. Toward evening of that day the sons of Rostislav suffered that operation which gave them the name of Bezoki, or The Eyeless ever after. The “Good-hearted,” however, had given command not to injure their eyes, but to simply perform an operation which would deceive the people. The executioner made deep cuts above their eyes, which he seemed then to dig out. In the night both princes were borne away to Smolensk very speedily, lest the people should kill them even though they had been blinded, as was supposed. Years after, the story was current that they had been blinded through too great anger of the people, and that the Lord had given back to them their eyesight. Still, though they had their eyes, they retained the surname—Bezoki.

Freedom was offered Glaib if he would yield up Kolomna. He did not accept the proposal. To the offer made through the Prince of Chernigoff that he should go to the south and surrender the Ryazan principality, he gave the stern answer: “Rather than do that, I will die here in prison.” Some time later, while still a prisoner, he was found dead. After Glaib’s death his son, Roman, having promised perfect submission, was set free with permission to go to Ryazan.

Thus ended the war and the disturbance which broke out after the murder of Andrei, and lasted from 1174 till 1177. It ended to the profit of the work begun by Yuri Dolgoruki, enlarged by Andrei, and strengthened by Vsevolod.

The work of Yuri, his father, and Andrei, his elder brother, was completed finally by Vsevolod. During his life Rostoff and Suzdal, and now we must call it the Vladimir country, contained a well-ordered society, in which the prince’s authority was great, because the people approved and accepted it. The people and the prince stood face to face squarely. The people knew well that their popular society could not stand without the prince, and the prince knew that he could not rule a day without the people to support him. This mutual understanding secured the position of Vladimir [116]and made Northern Russia what it is to-day, the head of a great empire, and, after Northern Russia, made what is called Great Russia, that country beyond the forest. This land of the younger sons of Monomach grew to be more important than the domains of the eldest sons, and got the upper hand of Southern Russia.

Rostoff and Suzdal bowed at last, when forced to do so, and Vladimir became, as to influence, the mother of Russian cities, the recognized capital. This was the result of the understanding between prince and people, and of that searching for the best place wherein to do a work,—an effort which is always made when people are in earnest. Later on, Vladimir lost the position and Moscow attained it. But at first Vladimir was the natural capital of Russia. It was the place in which the greatest number of people were willing to give their adherence to him whom they considered best qualified to hold their society together. And in that age the prince by descent and connection with their history was the man for that work. Because of this great mutual interest, the people and their prince formed a unit, while the boyars formed a number of units, each acting mainly for itself.

Among the princes who preceded and followed him, Vsevolod occupied an exceptional position. He seemed not to strive for mastery. He made no claim to be Grand Prince of all Russia, or even of Vladimir. But when all Russia was mentioned, it meant in the minds of most people that Russia which had its head in Vladimir. In this way, though Vsevolod was not called Grand Prince of all Russia, he was treated as holding that position, and the political business of Russia was carried on in great part in Vladimir.

After the death of Sviatoslav of Chernigoff, “the sister’s son,” Kief had no great significance. During the life of this Sviatoslav, it might have been said that the Russia of Kief and that of Vladimir balanced each other, but in different senses. After Sviatoslav’s death, Vladimir was beyond question the capital of Russia. Galitch fell a victim to the struggles between boyars. Rent by internal dissensions, it became a prey at times to Volynia, at times to Smolensk and Chernigoff, and was torn apart finally by Poles and Hungarians, to the first of whom it at last became a possession.

Toward the end of his reign, Vsevolod felt able to treat Kief more decisively. While his friend Sviatoslav was living, the Prince [117]of Vladimir held aloof from the South, but when “the sister’s son” died, Vsevolod’s activity so increased that South and North became closely connected. Through nearness to Ryazan and to Novgorod, Vsevolod had to deal with them always, and his dealings with these two regions were more important than those of any prince who preceded him.

The Ryazan princes, conquered in that war after which Glaib died in prison, had engaged to appear before Vsevolod whenever he summoned them. Kolomna had been joined to Vladimir. The same fate awaited Ryazan, in case of refusal to carry out promises. Its princes had increased greatly in number, and to them were added those of Pronsk and Murom. But no matter how those princes united and fought, they could not resist Vladimir. In case of resistance, they knew not how to deal with the problem. Behind them were small quarreling parties, in front a united strong people. The Ryazan princes were under guidance, and this meant what it means always, subjection. Vsevolod, through kindness, but also through wisdom, would not claim to be master.

As to “Great Lord Novgorod,” it was surrounded by adherents of Vsevolod. Not at that moment, but soon afterward, the city preferred a bad peace to good warfare. The Dvina land dropped away from Great Novgorod, and from giving tribute to that city, and joined Vladimir. After that, smaller places about which there might be disputes crept away gradually and became connected inseparably with the capital. Novgorod could not go anywhere, to the harm of Vladimir. The Volga was closed to the city completely, nothing that touched the Volga was accessible to Novgorod without the consent of Vladimir. Vsevolod strengthened the town at that point where the Oká joins the Volga, and called it Lower Novgorod (Nizni-Novgorod). Soon he settled people there, and so roused that region that during the time of his children Lower Novgorod became a considerable city. In the days of his grandchildren, the settlement which extended from the city became a large district, and to one of those grandchildren it went as a portion.

On the Volga, at its upper waters, Tver was now founded at the side of the Tvertsa River. To this well-fortified little town came settlers in such numbers that, even in Vsevolod’s day, it became the head of a principality. The Vladimir men not only defended [118]this place from “Lord Novgorod,” but they made it a new advance post against that proud city. They seized also Nova-Torg, the portage.

The Vladimir princes held now an exceptional position toward Novgorod. If they could retain the two places Torjok and Tver, they were superior to Novgorod, in every case equal. In Yuri Dolgoruki’s day, Novgorod men, keen to spy out advantage, were watching for eastern connections, and would have seized the Vladimir position and prevented the rise of a principality, had not Yuri anticipated them. Yuri’s work, done in the nick of time, settled the fate of “Lord Novgorod.”

It was only when firmly seated on the throne of Vladimir that Vsevolod found himself at enmity with the men of Novgorod, whom he could not forgive for receiving the Bezoki (Eyeless) with great kindness, and for having seated Mystislav, one of those brothers, in Novgorod, and the other, Yaropolk, in Nova-Torg. Mystislav died somewhat later, and they buried him in Saint Sophia, the Novgorod cathedral. They transferred Yaropolk then to their own city.

Vsevolod seized at once every Novgorod merchant in the land of Vladimir. He stopped commerce between the two cities, and began war in earnest. This alarmed the Novgorod men greatly, and they showed Yaropolk the road leading out of their city. Though Vsevolod himself was satisfied with the banishment of Yaropolk, and was ready to raise his blockade, the war was continued by the people, the reason being that Vladimir and Tver men thought that it touched not only the honor of their prince, but still more their own profit. They wished to stop the encroachments of Lord Novgorod. Again they blamed Vsevolod for good nature; again they accused him of indecision. “The Novgorod men,” said they, “take oaths every day, but they break them continually. We are not here to kiss Novgorod warriors, but to stop their advance.” They took Nova-Torg then, bound every man in it capable of fighting, seized women and children, took all goods, burned the place, and sent the captives, tied with ropes, to Vladimir.

Vsevolod moved now toward Nova-Torg, but before reaching the town, he decided that enough had been done to punish Novgorod, hence he retired to Vladimir. Soon after this the Novgorod [119]people invited Mystislav the Brave, son of Rostislav, the Smolensk prince, to rule in Novgorod. Mystislav the Great was revered beyond all princes who had ever ruled, and Mystislav the Brave was his grandson. The young prince’s heart did not lean toward the city, however, and the more he thought over the matter, the more he resolved on refusal. But his brothers and his drujina began to urge him, and at last he yielded to their persuasion and went to Novgorod, where he was received by a procession and with great honor. He visited Holy Sophia and then sat on the throne of his father and his grandfather.

The service Novgorod men prized most in their princes was the defense of the city against pagans,—the Chud, who swept in from the side of the Baltic. Pskoff and Novgorod borders suffered greatly at first from wild men, who had an unknown, boundless country behind them. These men had at last been defeated and tribute imposed on them. Among the tributes established was the bearing of goods and boats over portages. All at once, just before Mystislav’s coming, these men sent to bear goods became robbers. When the prince assumed power, he called together the best men of Novgorod, and said: “Brothers, let us free this Novgorod land of offenders.” With one voice they answered: “If it please God and thee, we are ready.”

When the troops were assembled, and Mystislav drew them up in review, he found that they numbered twenty thousand. He went to the land of the pagans, and these twenty thousand men marched with him. He passed through that land from end to end, not stopping till he reached the seacoast. He seized men, cattle and property; when there was need to punish, he reduced all before him to ashes. In one word, he established obedience. Then he turned toward Pskoff.

According to old usage, the posadnik of Pskoff was appointed by Novgorod, but on this point there were endless disputes between the two cities. The Pskoff men wished independence and their own prince. During the winter of 1180 Mystislav planned a campaign for the springtime. He remembered the offenses of Prince Vseslav, the Plotsk wizard, who could turn, as the people declared, into a gray wolf and run in one night from the Caucasus to Novgorod. Vseslav, years before, had seized a part of Great Novgorod; he had carried off its assembly bell and borne away holy images and [120]church vessels. Mystislav resolved to bring all these back to the city. The prince in Polotsk at that time was Vseslav, a brother-in-law of Roman, son of Rostislav.

When spring came, Mystislav moved against Polotsk with his army. Roman sent an envoy to meet him with these words: “Thou hast not been offended by Vseslav, why go against him? If thou decide on attack, thou wilt meet me before others.” Mystislav, not wishing to offend his own elder brother, turned back from his enterprise. Barely had he reached Great Novgorod, when he fell ill. No man could tell what affected him. For a time he lay without memory. His wife stood at his bedside, as did his drujina and best friends. When his mind returned, he looked at those present, and tears came to his eyes. Only a few of the words which he uttered had meaning. Vladimir, his youngest son, he entrusted to a favorite boyar. Of the two sons left to his brothers, one was renowned much in later years as Mystislav the Gallant. “Forget not my children,” begged he of his brothers. He raised his hands, sighed from the depth of his heart, tears came to his eyes again, and his breath left him.

Roman, eldest son of Glaib, and once prisoner in Vladimir, had married a daughter of Sviatoslav, the Kief prince, and had thus become an ally of “the sister’s son.” In 1180 Roman’s brothers turned to Vsevolod of Vladimir, saying: “Thou art our lord and father; settle between us and Roman, who takes away our land at the advice of his brother-in-law, Sviatoslav.” Vsevolod moved against Roman, who met him at Kolomna. Sviatoslav sent his son Glaib from Kief to aid Roman. Vsevolod invited this son of Sviatoslav to meet him and negotiate. Glaib was unwilling to do so, but as Kolomna was occupied by Vsevolod, he had to accept the inevitable. Upon his arrival, Vsevolod ordered him put in chains and sent him to Vladimir, whither he sent all the men and property seized by Glaib’s warriors, commanding that both man and property should be kept under strong guard. Roman, leaving his two younger brothers in Ryazan to defend it, fled to steppe regions. When Vsevolod marched to Ryazan, the princes submitted, whereupon he made peace and apportioned the principality between them. All kissed the cross to Vsevolod, even Roman, who returned now and joined his brothers.

When he heard that his son had been captured, Sviatoslav was [121]tremendously indignant, and went at once to Chernigoff. In Chernigoff, at that time, ruled Yaroslav, brother of the Kief prince. Of the younger princes, there were present in the city Igor, son of Sviatoslav, and his brother, Vsevolod the “Rushing Bull,” as he is called by a Russian poet. With them were their sons just reaching maturity. All had taken to heart the offense which Sviatoslav had suffered. After they had counseled together and were agreed, Sviatoslav addressed them in these words: “As a father, I command you to act as follows: thou, Igor, will stay with Yaroslav, my brother, to guard Chernigoff, while I will go to Suzdal to free my son from Vsevolod. And let God judge between us.”

Sviatoslav left one half of his forces in Chernigoff, and led away the other half, taking with him a man who was his guest at that time, Yaropolk Bezoki. Sviatoslav’s son, Vladimir, who had become prince in Novgorod after the death of Mystislav, was to meet his father on the road. The allies from North and South assembled in lands within the Tver boundaries, and marched toward Pereyaslavl.

Beginning at the Tvertsa and on the Dubna, they laid everything in ashes, sparing nothing. “They emptied the whole Volga region,” says the chronicler. When forty versts from Pereyaslavl, they met Vsevolod on the Blena River, a branch of the Dubna. The Vladimir prince was in a wonderful position. The Blena had steep, rough, stony banks, broken into gullies. The place was chosen wisely, for it was remarkably defensive. The warriors had their positions on heights and in hollows. No enemy could reach them. During two weeks the armies faced each other. Vsevolod’s army was numerous, and, if compared with the forces of Sviatoslav, was enormous. As the Ryazan and Murom princes had to ride with their men at the stirrup of Vsevolod, they were now in his army. Against Vsevolod were the sons of the Kief prince, Oleg and Vladimir, the latter now Prince of Novgorod. These were the two princes who a short time before had conducted Vsevolod to Vladimir, and had cut down the Polovtsi in battling with Ryazan, which was now on the side of Vladimir. The personal following of the Vladimir prince was eager to engage the enemy; his warriors were praying to begin the battle, but Vsevolod would not permit them to advance. At first he sent out the warriors [122]of Ryazan and Murom, who burst into Sviatoslav’s camp and broke the regiments of Chernigoff, but “Rushing Bull” came to the rescue and drove back the assailants with much loss. After that, nothing was won on either side; every effort was fruitless. Sviatoslav tried now to negotiate, and, through two priests who had come with him, sent this message to Vsevolod: “My brother and my son, I have done thee much good and did not think to receive such a return from thee. Thou hast imprisoned my son, and harmed me greatly. Give now a road by which I can go to thee. If not, I will give thee a road to meet me, and let God judge between us.”

Vsevolod sent the two priests as prisoners to Vladimir, and gave no answer to Sviatoslav, whose position then was not free of danger. Delay was impossible; Sviatoslav saw that warm weather was coming, that rivers would rise, and all roads would be impassable, that, in fact, if he did not withdraw he would be forced to surrender, hence he raised camp and departed. Vsevolod gave his men leave to attack Sviatoslav’s train, but forbade them to injure the Kief prince, or pursue him. Sviatoslav’s allies, avoiding places which they had plundered in coming, burned many towns, among others Dmitroff, the town in which Vsevolod was born. Sviatoslav permitted his son Oleg to withdraw, and also Rushing Bull, his cousin, and with Vladimir, another son, went to Novgorod, taking with him Yaropolk Besoki, and seating him in Nova-Torg.

In the South, after Sviatoslav had gone on this expedition against Vsevolod, Rurik, son of Rostislav, prepared again to seize Kief. He brought from Volynia Vsevolod, and also asked aid of Yaroslav “Eight Minds,” who sent a few men under Tudor, his boyar. David, Rurik’s brother, set out for Smolensk to get help from Roman, but Roman died before he arrived there. David then seized the vacant throne, and delayed in Smolensk. Yaroslav, who with Igor, his cousin, was left to take care of Chernigoff, did not wait for the enemy, but marched at once to strike Smolensk regions. With their own men those two princes took also Polovtsi, and hastened toward Vitebsk. One of the Polotsk princes, Glaib, had joined the Smolensk side, and, with the aid of Smolensk warriors, was fighting against the other Polotsk princes, who were defending their independence. They had brought in allies from Lithuania, and timely assistance came now from [123]Chernigoff. Because of this, the war assumed large proportions at once. The Chernigoff princes sent to Novgorod, then acting with Sviatoslav of Kief, and expected help from that city. In the camp of the Polotsk and Chernigoff allies appeared—a thing till then never witnessed—aid from Lithuania and Livona. And now was understood what “strength from the Baltic” meant.

Against this combination stood David, the new Smolensk prince. He had wished to force the battle, but Yaroslav of Chernigoff held back; he was waiting for his brother. Yaroslav occupied a strong position near the Drutcha River, and remained a whole week, warding off the enemy, who could only reach him by crossing the river. Sviatoslav of Kief now appeared, and began at once to bridge the Drutcha. David, seeing the strength of the enemy, would not risk a battle, and withdrew to Smolensk very promptly. Sviatoslav burned the Drutcha fortress, ended the expedition, and returned to his capital. Yaroslav and his cousin, Igor, went to Chernigoff.

Vsevolod of Vladimir, incensed at this Novgorod and Ryazan struggle, attacked Nova-Torg, stormed and captured the town, seized Yaropolk Bezoki, and carried him to Vladimir. Novgorod, grown weary of wrangling, dismissed Vladimir, son of Sviatoslav, and requested Vsevolod to send the prince whom he liked best. He sent one of the most obscure princes of that period, his own brother-in-law, however. Satisfied with the change in Novgorod, Vsevolod now liberated Glaib, and all were in agreement again.

The peace which followed was strengthened by two marriages. A son of Sviatoslav of Kief, that Glaib just released from prison, married Rurik’s daughter, and Mystislav, another son, married a sister-in-law of Vsevolod. So there was harmony between North and South for a season. Sviatoslav not only made peace with the Prince of Vladimir, but sent two sons to assist him in his campaign against the Silver Bulgars. “God grant us in my day to stand against pagans,” wrote Sviatoslav, and he sent one thousand men, led by Vladimir, his son, late prince in Novgorod. Forces came, too, from Ryazan and Murom, also from Pereyaslavl in the South, that place which the Polovtsi had always hit the hardest. This contingent was led by Izyaslav, the most gallant of Vsevolod’s nephews. All the forces met at Nizni-Novgorod, whence one [124]part of the army advanced on horseback, and the other in boats down the Volga. Vsevolod himself was with the expedition.

Never before did Russians go into an enemy’s country so deeply as this time. They gave many a defeat to the pagan Bohmitan, as Mohammedans were called at that period. But in front of a palisaded fort, to the great grief of all, the gallant Izyaslav, son of Glaib, was struck in the heart by an arrow, and brought to the Russian camp dying. The loss of this youth, loved by the army, was avenged through a crushing battle fought at the edge of the Volga. More than one thousand Bulgars were drowned with their boats. More than fifteen hundred were cut down near the river. The body of the brave Izyaslav was taken back to Vladimir, and buried there with great honor.

The Grand Prince did not wish at that time to bring Mohammedans under his rule; his only desire was to prove beyond question that Nizni-Novgorod and the places around it belonged to Vladimir, his capital. He wished to settle Russian ownership in those places, and establish moral influence over the people who lived between him and the Mohammedans, and who were still pagans.

Not fearing war when it must come, but shunning it always when possible, Vsevolod, at home again, toiled at developing the lands of Vladimir. He desired, above all, the confidence of the people, and won it through giving them safety, order, and prosperity. He was busied specially with the many towns founded by Yuri, his father. In Suzdal he built a strong fortress, and put walls around it. He also repaired the cathedral in that city. “Though old, let it be as if new,” was said of the building. Pereyaslavl, renewed, and adorned as in the old time, grew distinguished.

In Vladimir the Kremlin was enlarged with walls and towers of greater beauty and strength than even those of Suzdal. In other towns also did Vsevolod labor and erect buildings which were monuments. But the chief one, the marvel of Vsevolod’s day, and the one which, after centuries, forms in our time the glory of Vladimir, is the cathedral, which he built in honor of Dmitri, the martyr of Salonica. Not equal in size and in wealth to the church which Andrei built, it surpassed that golden-domed structure in proportions and beauty. It was noted, moreover, for a subtle variety of exterior adornment. But the God-loving church builder enriched it with relics more precious by far to believers than silver [125]or gold. Those treasures were a slab from the grave of Dmitri, his tunic, and some of the great martyr’s bones. Unbounded delight was felt by the men of Vladimir when those sacred relics were brought to the city.

Ryazan was a source of great anxiety to Vsevolod, for its princes were always quarreling, and they did not hesitate to openly threaten one another with destruction. The Grand Prince was forced to put an end to these disputes. To guard his own cities he must protect Ryazan regions from the Polovtsi. The insolence of those nomads increased with the quarrels of the Ryazan princes. In view of this, Vsevolod undertook a campaign against the Polovtsi, and went to the heart of the Don region. He struck at the center of the steppes occupied by the “wild” Polovtsi, those who made the Ryazan attacks. He passed quickly and assailed their winter quarters, but his agile foes slipped away at once; he merely frightened them. To defend Ryazan, it was necessary to have Ryazan itself under control.

At this period party struggles in Novgorod sometimes threatened the peace of Vladimir, but Vsevolod had no need to support princes whom by request he had sent to that city. He made no move to stop Novgorod from changing their prince. When the city complained of Yaroslav, Vsevolod replaced him by Mystislav, son of David of Smolensk, his ally in the Bulgar expedition. When Novgorod, which never liked any prince long, asked for Yaroslav a second time, it got him. More than once did those two unimportant princes rule Novgorod. Later on these words came from the city to Vsevolod: “Novgorod is the inheritance of thy father and grandfather; send thy own son to us.”

Vsevolod sent Sviatoslav, one of his younger sons, at that time a boy. Several times this son was returned to his father, and sent back each time at request of the city. Holding Novgorod in peace by commanding the roads to it, the Grand Prince was not disquieted by that city, but Ryazan affairs were involved and troublesome.

Roman, the eldest Ryazan prince, had brought his brothers to war with one another. He was a vain and ambitious man who, as son-in-law of the Kief prince, thought far more of himself than was proper. Igor and Vladimir, younger brothers of this Roman, who with him held Ryazan, had invited Vsevolod and Sviatoslav, their brothers who ruled in Pronsk, to visit them. Those younger [126]brothers, hearing that the other two wished to imprison or kill them, remained in Pronsk and fortified the city. The elder brothers marched promptly against Pronsk, besieged the place, and ravaged the country around it. Roman and his brothers, in making this war, appeared to censure their younger brothers for good will toward the Prince of Vladimir, and also to declare that they themselves cared not a whit for that Vladimir principality. Thus their action was a challenge to Vsevolod, and he gave answer very quickly. Without mingling in the quarrel between the brothers, he sent two boyars to Ryazan with this message, which was really a warning: “It is not a wonder to me that pagans ravage your country. But it is a wonder that ye, instead of living like brothers and guarding your lands against Bulgars and Polovtsi, attack one another and slay your own people. I will not permit such deeds. God has sent me to preserve justice and protect people, to bring to obedience those who break the law criminally. I fear that unless I am careful, God will judge me for the crimes that ye are committing. O brothers, what harm are ye doing? I leave that for you to judge.”

Though the princes knew well what these words meant, they answered haughtily. Wise and cool advisers were not numerous among them. “Each man of their intimates gave nine powers to himself in comparison with others, and, seeing no enemy, was a victor at all times.” They nourished the quarrelsome nature of Roman, and he answered the envoys, with insolence: “What right has Vsevolod to talk here? Are we not just such princes as he is?” The envoys brought back these words to Vladimir. The younger princes in Pronsk had asked Vsevolod to help them. He, to show that he had been asked to protect the weaker, and not as an exhibition of strength, sent three hundred men to aid Pronsk, where they were received gladly. But Roman, with his brothers, continued the siege, looking contemptuously on such a contingent. Vsevolod now sent against Roman the Murom princes and a regiment of his own men. These troops were still in Kolomna when Roman, alarmed at the approach of such forces, left Pronsk with his warriors and hurried home. Vsevolod, one of the Pronsk princes, left Sviatoslav, his brother, in the city and went himself to the allies in Kolomna. When informed of Roman’s flight, the contingent considered the campaign at an end, and returned [127]to Vladimir. But the Pronsk prince went to Vsevolod’s capital, and asked for further protection, as he had no confidence in maintaining peace with his elder brothers.

When Roman heard of the retreat from Kolomna of the allies, he returned and attacked Pronsk a second time. Turning the river, he deprived the place of water and brought the people to great suffering. Then he tried to capture Pronsk by treachery, and at last succeeded in this way: Sviatoslav, who held the city, became an enemy of Vsevolod, his brother, who had gone to Vladimir. “Destroy not thyself and thy men with hunger,” said Roman to him. “Come out to us. Thou art our brother, why fear us? We are fighting not against thee, but against the Prince of Vladimir.” The friends of the besieged prince continually repeated to him words like these: “Thy brother Vsevolod has gone over to the Prince of Vladimir; he has deserted and betrayed thee. Why destroy thyself and us?” At last, influenced by these speeches, the Pronsk prince surrendered. The three hundred men from Vladimir were captured and sent to Ryazan. A worse fate befell the men serving the prince who had gone to Vladimir, and, as his enemies alleged, had gone over to the Grand Prince. They were seized, every one of them, both boyars and common men, bound with ropes and thrown into prison. Roman detained Vsevolod’s wife and children, and imprisoned them. Vsevolod of Pronsk, on hearing of this, began war against all of his brothers.

When news was brought to the Prince of Vladimir that Pronsk had been captured by deceit, he at once prepared for war in earnest. He began by sending a message to the prince who had surrendered to Roman: “Give back my men. Give back all my men and property. Thou and thy brother asked aid of me. Not wishing to desert you in trouble, I gave it; now thou hast made peace with Roman and betrayed the men sent by me.” When the Pronsk prince received this message, Roman, fearing an attack from Vladimir, sent straightway these words to the Grand Prince: “Thou art our lord, father and elder brother. Wherever there is an offense against thee, we will be first to avenge thee. We have warred against our brother, for he would not obey us, but be not angry because of that. We stand with bowed heads before thee. Thy men will be freed without harm, and immediately.” [128]

The Grand Prince, seeing that Roman had turned from venomous malice to deceitful submission, did not wait for a lying peace. “An honorable war is better than a disgraceful peace,” declared he to the envoys of Roman, and he sent them away. He moved then on Kolomna, and commanded the Murom men and the Pronsk prince to advance. They crossed the Oká, and on the Ryazan side made a desert wherever they showed themselves. Knowing the state of affairs in Ryazan, the Polovtsi, who were ever watching with keenness, rose and began to ravage the country. The lands of those wrangling brothers were subjected to every evil that man could inflict. Roman, not forgetting that he was a son-in-law of the Kief prince, and remembering that Ryazan was connected with Chernigoff territory in some degree, begged the Chernigoff princes to bring Vsevolod to leniency. The bishop of Chernigoff, who was the Ryazan bishop also, was sent to the city of Vladimir, where he begged the resident bishop to assist him. The two bishops, aided by boyars from the Kief prince, persuaded Vsevolod that peace was best if obtained with honor. The trouble now lay in details. The real question which rose in the mind of Vsevolod was this, that the Ryazan princes must cease to be sovereign, they must obey Vladimir. The bishop assured him that the princes promised this faithfully, that they would kiss the cross to be under his will altogether, and would in future obey him. The Grand Prince granted power to make peace on this basis. That done, he liberated all the Ryazan men held captive in Vladimir. He freed also the envoys, who had been sent to him, and then appointed an embassy to conclude the treaty in Ryazan. The Chernigoff bishop reached Ryazan earlier than Vsevolod’s envoys. He brought details of the conditions proposed, and had influence on negotiations, but everything that he presented, and that he did was in a different spirit from that concerted in Vladimir. Then he hastened home to Chernigoff, avoiding the envoys of the Grand Prince. The Chernigoff bishop, it is clear, desired that Ryazan should remain bound to Chernigoff in church matters, and subjected, in some degree at least, to his own direction.

To Vladimir it was very important that Ryazan should not be under Chernigoff in any way. The Vladimir people blamed Porfiri, the Chernigoff bishop, for acting not as a man of God, but as a wily politician. They complained that peace with Ryazan [129]was not concluded on the conditions fixed in Vladimir. They wished Vsevolod to expose the man who had given information in a sense hostile to Vladimir, and then vanished. But Vsevolod did not find it proper to do what they demanded. Peace was concluded, and the princes, who had sworn to recognize Vsevolod of Vladimir “to the full extent of his will,” were bound over now to submission. Vsevolod, Roman’s brother, was reinstated in Pronsk, and he and his brother regained all the lands there, both ruling in common.

After that the princes of Ryazan without exception remained obedient to Vladimir. The troubles just described occurred in 1185–86, and so strong were the relations formed then that years later, when Constantine, son of Vsevolod, was crowned in Vladimir, all the Ryazan princes were present to render homage.

In 1184, being again friendly with Rurik of Bailgorod, and David of Smolensk, as well as with the Volynia princes and the Prince of Galitch, Sviatoslav of Kief invited all princes to join him in a war against their common enemy, the Polovtsi. The southern princes promised Sviatoslav aid, but in Chernigoff his brothers and cousins were more difficult to deal with than remoter relatives, because of questions touching land in Chernigoff. His sons needed territory in that region, and princes, when dividing lands, nearly always disputed. Still his brothers and cousins did not refuse directly. The campaign, they said, was arranged awkwardly for them. If he would change the plan they would go with him. But other princes had assembled, and with them warriors in sufficient number.

With the Kief prince marched his sons, Glaib and Mystislav, also the gallant Vladimir, son of Glaib, from Pereyaslavl on the Alta. From Volynia came Roman, son of Mystislav, who brought with him two cousins, and also princes less distinguished. From Smolensk came Izyaslav, son of David, and Rurik came from Bailgorod. Yaroslav Eight Minds sent a contingent also. The allies, under Sviatoslav, came upon the enemy near a river, now known as the Orel, but then called Erela by the Polovtsi, at a place where the Vorskla and the Erela, both tributaries of the Dnieper, flowing almost parallel and close to each other, form a long tongue of land bounded by the Dnieper and those two rivers on two sides and one end. At that time this place was called simply “The Corner.” In that corner was won a great victory.

When they were nearing the Polovtsi, the daring Vladimir, son [130]of Glaib, therefore grandson of Sviatoslav, begged for the first place. “Let me go against them, O my father,” implored he. “They have turned my lands into a desert. Let me go in advance with my men to attack them.” But the sons of the prince would not consent to be behind Vladimir in valor, hence Sviatoslav sent forward with his gallant grandson all the youngest princes of his guard, adding twenty-one hundred Cherkasi to strengthen their forces, but Vladimir led on with such swiftness that the princes going with him were left far behind, and he with his single command met the enemy in “The Corner.”

The numerous vanguard of the Polovtsi swept round the advancing Vladimir and sent word quickly to Kobyk, the chief Khan in command of the army, that they had the Russians surrounded. The Polovtsi were delighted. “We have not worked for this,” said they, “but the Russians have come to us. Great wealth is falling into our hands; we will take it.” And they rushed with shrill, piercing shouts to the battle. Vladimir withstood the fierce onset. The youngest of the princes held his ground; he did not quiver. The Polovtsi, not dreaming of resistance such as that, were astounded and whirled back on both sides to give a blow with more impetus. Meanwhile Kobyk, the commander, moved out strong detachments. These rushed forward swiftly. The Khan, thinking that there were no attackers save those who were fighting in front of him, commanded to strike savagely, to break, and then to hunt down Vladimir’s detachment.

But, all at once, the Polovtsi saw new forces hurrying forward. These were the princes who had set out with Vladimir, but Kobyk mistook them for Sviatoslav and his whole army. The Polovtsi, now greatly alarmed, wished to escape from the field, but that second force held them at bay. A fierce battle raged, till at last the Polovtsi were thrown into disorder. At that juncture, Sviatoslav and the older prince came up. The victory was complete. Kobyk was captured, and with him his two sons; Toblie with his son and also his brother. Of Khans alone twenty were captured, and common men were taken in great numbers. Among Khans who fell, the chief one was Tarsuk. The battle was on Monday, June 30, 1184. “God gave an immense victory over pagans, and Sviatoslav returned to Kief with great glory and honor.”

Igor, the Chernigoff prince, who had not gone with Sviatoslav [131]against the Polovtsi, had, besides land questions, many cares to detain him at home. He was a son-in-law of Eight Minds. This old Galitch prince had long since divorced his wife, a daughter of Yuri Dolgoruki, hence a sister of Vsevolod of Vladimir, with whom she had taken refuge. Eight Minds had also expelled his legitimate son, Vladimir, who for a time could find no asylum in any place. From Galitch he turned first to Roman, son of Mystislav, in Volynia, but this stern prince had so much fear of old Eight Minds that, for reasons of interest and policy, he would not let the exile pass even one night in his capital. No matter where Vladimir tried, and he even went to Vsevolod, his uncle in Vladimir, he found no reception till he turned at last to his sister, and Igor, her husband, in Chernigoff. With them he found rest, for they met him with kindness. He lived two years in Chernigoff,—lived there until he was reconciled with his dying father, old Eight Minds.

This connection of Igor with Galitch brought ruin later on to his sons, but who in that day could foresee this? Just at the time of Vladimir’s visit, a wave of delight was passing over Russia. Sviatoslav’s victory over the Polovtsi was magnified as the “Erela triumph.” All men glorified this marvelous adventure. The Chernigoff princes had taken no part in it, so now the thought dropped into Igor’s mind to win glory in this very field, independently, and at all costs. He boasted of his own campaigns, and said to his warriors: “Though the Polovtsi came to those princes and they fought with them, they dared not follow them. But with you I will cross the Don and crush them. If true success comes, we will pursue them to places to which our grandfathers never thought, even in dreams, of advancing. We will win for ourselves splendid glory.”

With his own men and a detachment of Chernigoff warriors, Igor set out on his adventure, April 23, 1185, accompanied by his son, now touching manhood, his brother Vsevolod the “Rushing Bull,” and a few neighboring princes with their forces. He met the Polovtsi in a desperate battle, and was vanquished with great slaughter. He and his fellow princes all went beyond the Don,—but they went as prisoners. “They were taken from the saddles of princes and put on the saddles of captives.” Along the whole Luko Morye (Sea of Azoff) shouts of delight rose from pagans. [132]At the place where the Don River touches the Sea of Azoff, thousands of Polovtsi were singing and celebrating, not honor to Russia, but woeful disaster. “Little Polovtsi boys and beautiful Polovtsi maidens magnified the fame of their people.”

This crushing defeat of Igor’s forces roused all the Polovtsi to greater activity, and gave them at once boundless insolence. They sent a message to Sviatoslav: “Come hither and ransom thy brothers, or wait at thy own place till we come for our people.” By this they referred to Kobyk and the other Khans captured on the Erela. And now the Polovtsi raced over Russia. They burned and plundered, and seized captives. The gallant Vladimir, son of Glaib, defended himself at Pereyaslavl on the Alta. “Wounded from head to foot,” he was borne out of battle dead, as his friends thought. A year later he died of those wounds, though he had apparently recovered, and had warred against the Polovtsi a second time. After Vladimir’s death there was no heir to Pereyaslavl on the Alta, hence the place went to Vsevolod of Vladimir.

Sviatoslav’s grief was unspeakable when he heard what had happened to Igor and his comrades. “Striplings!” said he, overwhelmed with sorrow and bitterly bewailing their rash enterprise. “Why did they tarnish the glory of victory? Why did they ruin the work of an old man and his allies? Why did they destroy a God-given triumph?” He had walled up the road against pagans, and the “striplings” had thrown this wall down again.

All measures possible were taken by Sviatoslav to ward off the onrushing Polovtsi, but these measures were inadequate and in no way proportionate to the strength of the enemy. Igor was humble in presence of the misfortune which he had caused. He prayed and did penance, often repeating: “Why have I remained alive; I, who have destroyed so many people?”

Not soon did those robber raids cease, but they did cease in time, not so much because the Polovtsi had inflicted great and sufficient loss on the Russians as because that flush of joy at a victory, which for them seemed well-nigh incredible, died away; and then the two camps, one on the Kief-Chernigoff border, and the other on the Polovtsi steppe, resumed their former attitude. [133]




Igor lived in captivity among the Polovtsi, but without hardship. His servants were left with him; he had his own equerry. He was even allowed to hunt. Men set to guard his tent showed the prince honor. One of those guards, Lavor, grew to love Igor greatly, and to serve him in Russia became finally his one thought, hence he planned an escape, which succeeded. During night hours the guard over Igor was strict; for whole days, and for weeks even, he was never from under the eye of some watcher. This was true especially in the first days of his captivity. He was least under guard after sunset, when, during supper, the Polovtsi drank their kumys and grew tipsy. On the night of escape, Lavor was waiting with horses beyond the river. When darkness came down, Igor rose in his tent, and after making the sign of the cross on himself with a small holy image, hanging this image and a cross around his neck, he pulled aside the tent curtain, stepped out and walked rapidly away to the river. The guards were drinking kumys, and thought the prince safe in his tent. Igor waded through the water and found Lavor on the other bank waiting with two horses.

Great rejoicing spread through Russia when news came of Igor’s return. He went first to Kief to visit Sviatoslav, and the aged prince, with tears of delight in his eyes, embraced him.

Igor’s young son, Vladimir, while in captivity with his father, fell in love with the Khan’s daughter and married her. “The Khans have entangled him with a beautiful girl,” was the saying, but he was ransomed and the marriage was celebrated with great solemnity in Russia. As war with the Polovtsi did not prevent Russian princes from being friendly and intermarrying, so also their connections did not prevent them from warring, as the princes [134]who became related with the Polovtsi through marriage often warred with them afterward. Hence Igor warred with the Polovtsi after this marriage, as well as before it.

The raids of the Polovtsi and the campaigns of Russian princes against them were so many that it would not be possible to describe them in detail. They were an incurable evil in Russia, and continued to be so till the Mongol invasion and conquest put an end to them.

While Kief, the mother of Russian cities, was declining, Galitch was forming a separate principality, and the influence of its western neighbors rose more and more. Hungarians and Poles, who had joined Latinized nations, could boast at this time that they formed in Eastern Europe the foremost advance of Latin influence, the remotest boundary of the Holy Roman-German Empire, beyond which was Russia. In the life of Poles and Hungarians, there were many traits in common. First came subjection of all the people by nobles, while the sovereign merely focused the splendor of nobles and magnates. The sovereign held office to preserve supreme privileges for nobles; beyond that he meant nothing to them, and for the people he had no meaning whatever. From the nobles came the laws, the disposition of wealth, the amount of taxation and its character. The income from lands and towns, and all the government of the country was in possession of the upper class solely, hence the amazing concentration of wealth in their hands. The nobles did as they pleased, while the people endured all that was put on them. Hungarians and Poles yielded themselves to the West in religion. Their learning was Western, and, for the greater part also, their vices. They imparted these vices to their neighbors of Galitch, where they found a place in the palace and brought about a great riot, which ended in the burning alive of Anastasia, the mistress of Eight Minds, whose legal wife had fled to seek an asylum with her brother Vsevolod, Prince of Vladimir, at that time generally called Big Nest. Later on riots were frequent, and the power of the boyars grew daily.

In 1187, the famous Yaroslav Eight Minds, feeling that death was near him, summoned his advisers and the clergy, and commanded them to open his palace to every one, to rich and poor, great and small, to all people, and he bade farewell to every person, saying: “Fathers, brothers, sons, forgive me as I go from this [135]world of vain effort. I have sinned more than any man. Another like me there has not been. Fathers and brothers, forgive me.” He wept for three days. Three days did the people come to see him from all sides. The dying man ordered his goods to be given to the needy and to monasteries. “I did what I could,” said he, “to defend those who were wronged, and to dispose taxes so that they should not be a burden to some beyond others. I tried not to listen to informers, and to drive off the evil-minded; some I exposed to the public, others I punished in private. I had many vices myself, I could not control all of them. I beg now forgiveness of every one.” Many poor people received gifts, and much wealth was distributed. “God sees,” continued Eight Minds, “that I wished for the good, but through weakness I could not obtain it.”

The intimate boyars and the older clergy surrounded the death-bed of Eight Minds; others were in remoter chambers, and the people filled every entrance. He disposed of the principality to his sons in this fashion: “To Oleg,” said he, “I bequeath Galitch; to Vladimir, I give Peremysl,” and he commanded the people to take oath to the princes in that sense. Oleg was the son of Anastasia, his mistress, and was dear to him.

Soon after Eight Minds’ death came boundless confusion in Galitch. Among common people intense hatred of Anastasia was general, and all the boyars detested Oleg, her son. There was such a variety of factions that an armed outbreak seemed likely. Though some had kissed the cross to Oleg, they favored Vladimir; others wished neither son and were ready to call in Roman, son of Mystislav, Prince of Volynia. A third group would hear nothing of either son, or of Roman, but declared openly for Hungary.

The bond between Galitch and Hungary was ancient. Many of the boyars had friends and even relatives in that country. They visited Hungary, for it was near, and they went thither frequently on business, and sometimes lived in that domain. They liked the Hungarian political order because the common people were submissive and looked on the nobles as masters. The highest class was exceedingly haughty. It was sovereign, and the king was its servant. The ties between the boyars of Galitch and Hungary became so enduring and intimate that the heir to Galitch might find aid more readily in Hungary than in Kief or Vladimir.

Vladimir, son of Eight Minds, was by his first marriage a [136]son-in-law of the Kief prince. His wife, dead at this time, was a daughter of Sviatoslav, “the sister’s son.” But that marriage had been so unfortunate that the father-in-law did not like even to mention it. Roman, son of Mystislav of Volynia, was now intriguing against Vladimir, though he had promised his daughter to Vladimir’s son. In Smolensk the prince had just given refuge to the natural enemy of Vladimir, Rostislav, son of Ivan Berladnik.

After the burial of Eight Minds, the intrigues and the efforts of boyars led to nothing, and Vladimir was raised to the throne by the wish of the people. Anastasia’s son, the hated Oleg, had to flee from the country and, dying while young, vanished from record. Vladimir inherited every vice of his father, but not one of his virtues. Disorderly from boyhood, and unconnected at all times, he conducted one year and a half of his reign most disgracefully. All people complained of him. If any man’s daughter or wife pleased Vladimir, he took her. Then he married a woman of such sort that the people of Galitch were indignant. As happened in the case of Anastasia, his unlegalized stepmother, people never mentioned this new woman’s name, and would not speak in detail of her. They only knew that from her the prince had two children. She had been seized from her husband, a priest, and knowing this, no one cared to speak further. Among common people she was mentioned as “the priestess.”

The anger roused by this marriage was so great that it very nearly caused an uprising. Vladimir’s son by his first wife was married to a daughter of Roman. She was in Galitch at that time. Roman, the crafty Prince of Volynia, tempted the boyars of Galitch. To win for himself the principality, he urged them against the unworthy Vladimir. Common people were true to Vladimir, but the boyars sent these words to him: “The people do not oppose thee, but they will not bow down to a priest’s wife. Take whatever princess seems good to thee; they will receive any decent woman, but they will put an end to the priest’s wife.” The boyars knew well that he would not part with the “priestess,” and that both would leave Galitch if threatened. And thus it happened.

Vladimir took treasures, and all the gold and silver which he could carry, and fled to Hungary with his priestess and his children. The Galitch men made no move to stop him. Roman came promptly and was made Prince of Galitch. He gave Volynia to [137]Vsevolod, his brother, and kissed the cross while bestowing it, but, as was shown somewhat later, he was over hasty in this action.

The King of Hungary, Bela III, gave Vladimir and his priestess a friendly reception, and promised good aid to the fugitive. They agreed on all points as to what assistance should be given, and then kissed the cross to each other. Soon after, at the head of an army, large and famed for knightly character, Bela III set out to reinstate Vladimir. Roman, though brave and resolute, on hearing of Bela’s approach, did not venture an encounter. He saw clearly that though the men of Galitch were not fond of Vladimir they were true to him, for he was their “native prince,” and they believed that in a war he would undoubtedly have God’s justice on his side. They attributed his flight to the treason of boyars. These same boyars were so hostile to one another that a bloody conflict seemed impending. Roman’s adherents were few; they needed protection against other boyars. A large majority of the boyars throughout the whole country were opposed now to every prince, no matter who he might be, and they opposed more than all the stern Roman, whom they dreaded greatly, not doubting that, were he sure of his strength and position, he would strive to crush them. Many therefore declared their adherence to Bela, who was then drawing near, and was already in the Carpathians.

Roman took Vladimir’s property and all the treasure accessible. He gathered his adherents of lower degree and his boyars, with their wives and children, and turned toward Volynia, but Vsevolod would not vacate his capital, and did not admit his brother. Roman, deprived of land, was obliged to seek the aid of friends. He had been married to a daughter of Rurik of Smolensk, and now he sent his wife to her father; with her went the wives of boyars, and their children. Rurik gave Roman temporary possession of Torchesk, and then commanded Vsevolod to yield up Volynia to his brother and go back to Bailz, his own portion. Vsevolod, fearing Rurik’s anger, obeyed without murmuring, and Roman recovered the lands which he had given away too lightly.

Meanwhile, in Galitch, there happened a thing without parallel in Russia. King Bela was met with such honor that he was astounded. The boyars went forth to him with a solemn announcement of loyalty. The chief men among them declared that they [138]knew well his methods in Hungary, that to them the order there was very pleasing, and they begged him to bring just such order into Galitch. Because of this surprising statement, Bela dropped Vladimir and gave the management of Galitch to the boyars. He installed his own son, Andrei, as chief of the government. Vladimir he took back to Hungary as captive, on pretense that he had given a false and deceitful representation of the troubles in Galitch, and besides had not paid the sums promised for friendly assistance. The king took all Vladimir’s property, and put him and his “priestess” under guard in the tower of a castle. It was made to appear that the people of Galitch had bowed down to Bela, and had begged from him a government with his son as a ruler. He had graciously yielded, and had not only given a son, but his heir to rule Galitch.

To Bela III was now added the title Rex Galiciæ (King of Galicia). But as Hungary was subject to Rome in religion, and the title of every dependent State was confirmed by Papal blessing, the Pope of course reckoned the new kingdom among other bishoprics. The boyars knew well that when the people of Galitch learned of this there would be a great outburst, and a war against men of a foreign religion. Still the adherents of Bela, those who had put the land under Latins, guaranteed that the people were mild, and that the subjection of Galitch was a very slight matter, if the Latin faith were brought in without vaunting, by degrees, and in a way not to be noted. The great point was to respect ancient customs and venerated ritual.

After Bela had made his son king in Galitch, he learned very soon that he had been led into serious error. He had word from Andrei that the position was torturing, and would soon grow impossible. Bela was in friendly relations with princes in Central and Northern Russia. Sviatoslav, the Kief prince, negotiated with him continually. He sought connections for his children, and for his grandchildren, and there are absolute proofs that before Bela established his son in Galitch, negotiations directly concerning that principality were carried on between him and the Kief prince.

Andrei’s position in Galitch became at last unendurable. The adherents of Hungary, supported by the capital and by the forces of Bela, seemed to triumph. The whole land was seething, however. [139]The people were ready to rise, but knew not to whom they might turn for aid. Among boyars there were a few who had not betrayed the people. Even among those who found their support in foreign regiments, there were some who began to speak of preserving their country and its customs. Listening to men who called for their own native princes, a party of boyars withdrew from the traitors, and, kissing the cross, swore to stand with the people. They then sent envoys to Smolensk, on behalf of all Galitch, and invited Rostislav, son of Ivan Berladnik, to come and be their prince. Rostislav consented, and was received with joy on the boundary, but he soon found that he would meet scant support in the capital, where those boyars who favored Hungary still adhered firmly to King Andrei. At this time Bela sent fresh troops to his son, and the Hungarian commanders, on hearing of Rostislav’s coming, made all the people take oath a second time. “Those who were loyal to Galitch kissed the cross without changing, while traitors adhered still to Hungary.” Rostislav met the Hungarians advancing against him, and, fearing betrayal, knew not what to do. The men who had invited him to Galitch, and who surrounded him with followers, implored him to retreat for the present, but the son, as ill-fated as his father, hesitated. “Brothers,” said he at last, “ye have kissed the cross to me, and now if other men of Galitch wish my head, let God and this cross be their judge. I will not wander over foreign earth longer, I will die in the land of my inheritance.” And he rushed to the battle. He was wounded in the onset and thrown from his horse. His men rescued him. Swords were sheathed on both sides, and the wounded prince was taken to the city. The Hungarians, to avoid civil war, thought it wise, as they said, to be rid of Rostislav, so, as if to heal his wounds, they placed on them poisonous herbs, from the effects of which he died soon afterward and was numbered with his ancestors.

Andrei, who had been assured that no one wished a Russian prince, came now to see realities. The Hungarians fell to wreaking vengeance on the people. The Latins ridiculed the Greco-Russian faith; they turned Russian churches into stables; they contemned the clergy; they brought their horses into the houses of those boyars who had fled from Galitch, or did not hide their opposition to Hungary. An unrestrained orgy began. Violence increased [140]in every place. Hungarians took wives and daughters from the men of Galitch with growing frequency. Wails of anguish and despair were heard throughout the principality and finally they reached all parts of Russia.

In Kief, the clergy turned to Sviatoslav and Rurik. “Strange men have taken your inheritance,” exclaimed the metropolitan. “Ye should vie one with another in freeing Galitch from this misery.” But those princes cared little for anything in Galitch, or elsewhere, unless it gave power or profit. Moreover a quarrel broke out between them.

It transpired that Bela, negotiating in secret with Sviatoslav, had worked out for himself many useful conditions. He now proposed to go from Galitch, and begged Sviatoslav to send some son of his to end negotiations. So Glaib was sent. But Rurik stood against this embassy and reproached Sviatoslav, saying: “Since thou hast sent thy son to Bela, and said no word to me touching the affair, our treaty is broken.” A dispute rose which came near ending in bloodshed. The Kief prince, striving to soften Rurik’s anger, returned this answer: “My friend and brother, I sent my son, not to rouse Hungary against thee, but on my own business. If it is thy wish to march against Galitch, I am ready. I go with thee.”

The princes met in peace and planned an expedition. Rurik marched with his brothers, and Sviatoslav with his sons, but the Kief prince had his own plan in mind, hidden carefully. Kief was surrounded with the possessions of Monomach’s descendants,—Vyshgorod, Bailgorod, and almost all lands on the Ros belonged to them. Sviatoslav hoped to add these regions to Kief, and give Galitch in exchange for them, which he was ready to yield altogether to Rurik. He did not speak of this to Rurik when they were planning the march on Galitch, but only while marching. It turned out that Rurik was not anxious for unreliable possessions in Galitch, and preferred greatly his own lands within the Kief region. This caused a quarrel. No matter how much both princes talked upon the subject, they reached no agreement. When half the journey was finished, they turned and marched back to Kief. The fate of Galitch was settled by other adventurers.

Vladimir, confined in the tower with his priestess, grew weary. Bela had taken all the property brought by Vladimir to Hungary, [141]but the captive had coin sufficient to bribe the guards watching him. Among those guards were some so devoted to Vladimir that they undertook, not merely to let him escape, but to conduct him through pathless forests to Germany. The first question, however, was to get out of the tower. In this work the hitherto shiftless Vladimir proved abler than many a wise man. The tower was high and the prisoners were kept in the top of it, where there was a small outside platform. On this platform was a tent, made of canvas, in which a man might find shelter from heat in the day-time, and gaze at the stars during night hours. Vladimir tore this tent into strips with which he made a long rope and slipped to the earth by it. The trusty guards took him to Barbarossa, the Emperor. The fleeing prince was well received by Barbarossa, from whom he begged aid. We know not what reward Vladimir offered Bela, for reinstating him in Galitch, but we know exactly his agreement with Frederick Barbarossa. He bound himself to pay two thousand silver grievens yearly for his restoration. There were other reasons, too, why the Emperor became interested. He was astonished to see before him the nephew of Andrei Bogolyubski and of Vsevolod (Big Nest). Hearing that he was a son of a sister of those two famous princes, he doubted not that he was an important man. He had grown acquainted with Andrei Bogolyubski through letters, when that prince was building his cathedral in Vladimir. Because of those letters, various artists and materials had gone from Germany. Of Big Nest and his eminence among Russian princes, reports were frequent. To aid Vladimir would cause the Emperor no trouble. He had no thought to help with men. He was going then to Palestine, but Poland was subject to his influence, and he commissioned Kazimir, King of Poland, to reinstate the exile. The Poles envied Hungarians Galitch, and were glad to expel them.

Vladimir, leading a Polish army, entered Galitch very easily. When the return of their native prince was announced, the people rushed to meet him. Flight was all that was left for Andrei and those Russian boyars who adhered to him. While the Hungarian was fleeing as best he was able, and bearing with him the title Rex Galiciæ, which remains to this day on the shield of his country, Vladimir took the throne; and he held it as long as there was breath in his nostrils. He held it, thanks to Big Nest, his uncle, [142]because of this message: “My lord and father, keep Galitch under me, I pray thee. I belong to God and to thee with all Galitch.” Big Nest listened to Vladimir’s entreaty, and kept him firmly in Galitch till his death came.

Sviatoslav, “the sister’s son,” insisted that Kief should have the boundaries established as in the days of Rostislav’s father, that is he wanted Kief to have Vyshgorod and Bailgorod, with other towns in the Ros River region, taken from it by the sons of Rostislav. Disputes became bitter, and the princes were near deciding the question by force of arms. Rurik and David sent back their oath papers, and Sviatoslav declared that he would not yield in any case. In Smolensk the princes turned to Big Nest, saying: “We have accepted thee as father; judge this question for us.” Big Nest sided with Smolensk, and sent to Sviatoslav, saying: “The conditions on which thou wert confirmed are those to which we adhere. If thou still adhere to the same conditions, we will be with thee in peace; but seek not to rouse old disputes, and desert agreements, for we will not permit thee.” Sviatoslav yielded. Thenceforth he made no mention of lands for Kief, till he tried to get them by giving Galitch to Roman in exchange for them. Not succeeding in this, he wished, both for himself and to please his brethren in Chernigoff, to round out and to defend their inheritance on the Ryazan side. Their possessions touching the Oká and Ryazan were subject to ceaseless attacks from Ryazan, whose princes laid claim to them. All the Chernigoff house assembled at Karachef, under Sviatoslav’s direction. They declared at that meeting that war alone could settle boundaries. The princes were ready to war with Ryazan in a body, but Sviatoslav could not decide to begin, or let his relatives begin, without the consent of Big Nest, Prince of Vladimir, so he sent to ask advice of him. From Big Nest came the answer that he forbade Chernigoff princes to open war on Ryazan, and all obeyed him.

Before this meeting ended, Sviatoslav fell ill for the last time. “Something appeared on his leg.” Thus his disease was described. Unable to sit on his horse, he was borne in a sleigh to the river, for traveling in a wheeled vehicle over those roads would have caused him great pain; then he sailed down the Desna and the Dnieper. Arriving in Kief, he went first of all to pray in the church of Boris and Glaib, and afterward to bow down and pray at the [143]tomb of his father, but the priest had gone away and taken the key of the church with him, hence the prince did not see his father’s grave. He reached home broken completely.

On the wedding day of Euphemia, his granddaughter, who had been betrothed to the heir of Byzantium, envoys from the Emperor came, but Sviatoslav took no part in the matter beyond appointing certain boyars to receive them. He grew weak, ceased speaking, and fell into a torpor. Recovering after a time, he commanded a monk’s habit to be brought, and sent for Rurik, who found him alive, but not in his senses. So far as is known, no word passed between them. Afterward, when Rurik had gone, the dying man regained consciousness and, turning to the princess, asked: “When will the day of the Maccabees be?” July was ending, and he remembered August 1, that day of death for his father and his grandfather. “Next Monday,” answered the princess. He looked into her eyes, as if to be sure that he saw her, and said: “I shall not live to the day of the Maccabees.” He died July 27, 1194.

The next Prince of Kief was Rurik, son of Rostislav, but he had to get the consent of Big Nest, whom he and his brothers had long recognized as their senior, and esteemed as a father. Big Nest was not opposed to Rurik, for Rurik’s son, Rostislav, had married Verhuslava, his favorite daughter; hence he sent his boyars to confirm the new prince. Soon the relationship was strengthened by another bond: the Prince of Vladimir found a bride in Smolensk for his eldest son, Constantine, who married the daughter of Mystislav, son of Roman the Mild. Later on, this prince became Prince of Kief, and fell in the battle with Mongols on the Kalka.

So Rurik and David grew nearer to the Prince of Vladimir. Since the older line of Monomach, descended from Mystislav the Great, and the younger line, descended from Yuri Dolgoruki, were so united, all the descendants of Monomach were now in accord and friendship.

The great man of Volynia, Roman, had married Rurik’s daughter. The other Volynia princes, heirs of Yaroslav of Lutsk, were insignificant in those days. Roman, who had not shown great respect for Rurik at any time, ceased to care for him after he reached Kief dominion. To Roman’s thinking, the oldest throne in Russia should be held by the strongest of its princes, a man who could [144]govern wisely, defend the Russian land in all places, and preserve order so that no prince could offend another, none attack and ravage a neighboring province. “But,” said he, “we see the very opposite. The throne of Kief is seized by senseless rulers, who not only are unable to manage others and stop strife among relatives, but are unable to defend their own borders; hence they bring in pagan Polovtsi, and ruin the country. For this, Big Nest is to blame.” Such was Roman’s opinion of his father-in-law.

Later on, from the enmity of these two men, disputes came among the southern princes. Rurik lost the throne of Kief repeatedly, while Roman, without ruling Kief, acquired so much fame among princes that they saw in him the one southern ruler. Meanwhile both Rurik and Roman recognized the superiority of Big Nest, who mixed in their quarrels, as he did in general in all quarrels of princes, only in so far as those quarrels subserved his own interest; aside from that, he let them alone, and for this many people blamed him. He reinstated certain princes against others, thus weakening one through the other, and finding means to strengthen himself through their dissensions. Rurik, in the first year of his reign, 1195, felt this keen policy of Big Nest. When Rurik ascended the Kief throne, and had been greeted by envoys from Big Nest, he thanked the Vladimir prince with many expressions of friendship. Delighted over his confirmation, he invited his brother David to Kief. “Behold,” said he in a letter, “thou and I are now seniors in Russia. Come hither to Kief to take counsel. We will think over everything, and settle all questions.”

After such an invitation, David went promptly from Smolensk down the Dnieper. Rurik met him at Vyshgorod, and invited him to a banquet. He arranged a great festival for David and his children. They passed the time in rejoicing and gladness. Then Rostislav, heir of the Kief prince, with Verhuslava, his princess, had a family festival in Bailgorod in honor of David, and gave him great gifts. After that David invited the Kief prince and his children to a dinner. Next he gave a feast to all monks, and bestowed many gifts on the poor and on monasteries. Finally he made a feast for the Cherkasi. All drank their fill, and received rich presents at parting. Then the Kief citizens wished to give a dinner to David. He accepted their hospitality, and Kief played [145]the host to him. David then could not fail to give a dinner and presents to the citizens of Kief, so he invited them to a feast, and at that feast there was “mighty pleasure for all men.”

While these feasts were in progress the brothers were occupied seriously. They arranged the whole family and divided up all the regions and provinces among them. Rurik rewarded his son-in-law richly. He gave Roman Korchesk, Kaneff, Tripol, Korsun and Bogulov. In one word, the best towns in the Ros region, and kissed the cross not to withdraw them at any time.

When news of these festivals came to the city of Vladimir no special joy was expressed there. Whether Big Nest was offended that nothing had been given him in the south, or whether he wished to cause Rurik and Roman to quarrel with each other is unknown, but he sent envoys to Kief with this message: “Ye have called me the eldest among the descendants of Monomach, and now, my brother and friend, thou hast bestowed all the lands on thy younger brothers, and given me no share whatever. If there be no part for me, let it be so. Thou art in the Kief region apart; to whom thou wilt, thou mayest give, and with them care for it,—I am needed no longer. But we shall see how thou wilt hold Kief without me.”

Confused by a turn so unlooked for, Rurik was ready for any arrangement, and desired Vsevolod to choose from places that he, Rurik, still had at his disposal. But the Prince of Vladimir asked for those very places which Rurik had already given to Roman. Rurik tried to induce Roman to yield the towns, saying that in return he might take whatever places pleased him. Roman would not hear of this. He threatened war. An outcry was raised throughout the whole Kief region. All inclined now toward Roman. They condemned Rurik’s yielding proposal, and pointed with wrath at the action of Big Nest, saying that it recalled the old claims of Yuri Dolgoruki, and his struggle with the grandfather of Roman. They demanded that the metropolitan should examine the papers and treaties preserved in the treasury of Holy Sophia. They pointed out that Rurik’s predecessor had yielded Novgorod in favor of Vsevolod, and let him manage that city on condition that he dropped his claim on Kief. “By the treaties which are still preserved, it is clear,” said they, “that Vsevolod resigned Kief.” But the more they argued, the more did the Vladimir prince insist, and the more threateningly did he inform [146]the Kief men that he was ready to meet them, even with war, should the need come.

In this difficulty, Rurik turned for advice to Nikifor, the metropolitan. “We are placed here by God to keep you from bloodshed,” replied the metropolitan. “As I see that you cannot avoid it, because you considered the towns not as belonging to the elder, but the younger, I will remove from you the oath, and take the sin on my own soul. I permit you to take back the towns from the younger, and give them to the elder. But listen to me in this, also: Instead of what thou takest from Roman, give him its equal in value.” Rurik took this advice, promised his son-in-law the full value of what he relinquished, and satisfied him, apparently. In every case when he yielded the Ros towns, Roman sent this submissive answer: “It is not for thee to quarrel with the Prince of Vladimir because of me. Give him the places for which he asks, and because of which he complains of me, and instead of them, thou wilt give me other lands, or the value of them.”

Rurik now announced to Big Nest that he gave him the five towns in question. Thus the affair was ended. The Prince of Vladimir, meanwhile, to the astonishment of all, showed that he did not value the towns, because of which he was ready for war. The principal one he gave back to Rurik immediately. Torchesk he gave to his son-in-law, Rostislav; to the others he paid little heed, sending insignificant men to manage them. Roman saw in this a new slight. Whether he suspected some plan on the part of Rurik, or knew clearly that he was innocent, he lost the last trace of respect which till then he had shown in a small way for his father-in-law. He accused him of inability to rule Kief, and concluded an alliance with Oleg’s descendants against him. He negotiated with them openly to expel the Kief prince; and advised his wife, Rurik’s daughter, to enter a convent.

Rurik tried to reason with Roman, and explain their relations: “I gave thee those places, and when the Prince of Vladimir complained that I did not show him due honor, I declared all his words to thee. Thou didst agree to relinquish those places. As is known to thee, we cannot work against the Vladimir prince. We, Monomach’s descendants, made him the elder. Thou wilt have regions equal to those given to him.”

But Roman was simply feigning offense when he reproached [147]Rurik. In fact he was seeking reproaches, and had no wish at all to agree with him. When at last Rurik learned that his son-in-law had kissed the cross with Yaroslav of Chernigoff to occupy Kief, he sent envoys to cast his written oath at the feet of the traitor. He wrote then to Big Nest, explaining Roman’s treason—and a general war was soon in preparation.

Roman, alarmed at Rurik’s act in casting down the oath papers, and fearing that prince’s powerful ally, Vsevolod of Vladimir, not to lose time by negotiation, took his military following and marched straight to Cracow, where he had a few time-serving friends and some temporary allies. Kazimir the Just, Roman’s uncle, had died in 1194. His widow, Yelena, the daughter of Vsevolod, Roman’s brother, and her children, the heirs of the late king, rejoiced at his coming, but instead of giving aid they begged aid of Roman against Mechislav, who would not recognize Kazimir’s son, Leshko, as king, though he had been placed on the throne by all the estates.

“We should be glad to assist thee,” said Leshko, “but we cannot while Mechislav, my uncle, attacks me. Give aid against him, and when we have conquered, we will go as one man to assist thee.” This plan of giving all Poland to Leshko, and then, with its aid, to win primacy in Russia seemed pleasing to Roman. “I will get my mind’s wish now,” thought he.

Mechislav did not desire war with Roman, and begged that prince, through envoys, to mediate between him and Leshko. Roman’s Russian intimates advised compliance with this request, but, listening neither to them nor the envoys, he attacked Mechislav with his own men and those of his nephew. His thought: “I will get my mind’s wish,” was not realized this time, however, for Mechislav gained a great victory. Roman, so severely wounded that he could not sit on a horse, was borne back to Cracow on a litter, and thence to Volynia in the same way.

Thus ended at that time the great plans of Roman. When leaving Cracow, he urged his Polish relatives not to be cast down in spirit, and promised to help them as soon as he had assembled his forces. Knowing his father-in-law’s weakness, he sent him a message of penitence and implored the metropolitan Nikifor to speak for him. Rurik was delighted. “Since Roman is sorry and repents,” said he, “I will let him kiss the cross again, and give [148]him provinces. He will honor me now as a father, I will call him my son again, I have wished him well at all times.”

In fact Roman received new lands. Rurik, in pacifying his son-in-law in this way, wished to ward off Chernigoff princes roused against him by Roman. In treating of this matter, Big Nest and Rurik sent a message to the descendants of Oleg in the name of all the descendants of Monomach, as follows: “Kiss the cross to us that ye will not seek to take from us, or our descendants, or any descendant of Monomach, our Kief inheritance and Smolensk.” Referring to the ancient ordinance which left to the ancestor of all the descendants of Oleg the Chernigoff region as far west as the Dnieper, they added: “Ye do not need Kief.”

The descendants of Oleg met in counsel, and sent this answer to the Prince of Vladimir: “We adhere to our agreement, which was that we would not try to take Kief from you, or your relatives. But if we are to lose Kief forever, we answer that we are not Poles or Hungarians, but grandsons of one grandfather. During thy life we will not strive for Kief, but after thy death, let it go to whom God will give it.”

Such a decided reply troubled Big Nest considerably, and brought Rurik to confusion. He begged the Vladimir prince insistently to make war on Chernigoff. Big Nest promised “to mount his horse,” and commanded his warriors to assemble. Even Novgorod took the field at his order. But at the same time he received with pleasure envoys from Chernigoff, who declared that they had no thought to offend him. Big Nest dismounted, and commanded the Novgorod men to return to their city. We can understand easily this action of Big Nest. The demand made on Chernigoff, not only to abstain from seeking Kief, but also from entering Smolensk lands, showed the cause of the fear which disturbed Rurik, and concerned even Big Nest, though he considered it without direct interest. This question touched Drutsk, Vitebsk and neighboring places which, because they were near Chernigoff borders, were seized frequently by Smolensk princes. If the Chernigoff princes could not get these lands themselves, they preferred that the Polotsk princes should have them. The great point was that Smolensk should not get them. Now David, Rurik’s son, had seized Vitebsk, and therefore was in open enmity with Yaroslav of Chernigoff. To end this quarrel, Rurik promised to [149]discuss the question with his brother. He laid down the condition that Chernigoff should not take arms till negotiations were finished. But the Chernigoff princes, who had prepared for war some months earlier, being roused now by Roman, were unwilling to wait for the end of negotiations between Smolensk and Kief, and began war that same winter to win the Smolensk border, where it touched their possessions on the Polotsk side.

Yaroslav of Chernigoff sent forward Oleg, his nephew, and the Polotsk princes helped him. David, Rurik’s brother, sent against them his nephew, Mystislav, son-in-law of Big Nest. The first battle came out very strangely. The Chernigoff princes were thrown into confusion, and their banners were trampled by Smolensk. When Oleg’s son, David, was pursued by Mystislav of Smolensk, and Oleg was growing weak from attacks of the enemy, the Smolensk men were put to flight by a Polotsk onset. Since Smolensk was now beaten by Chernigoff, the Polotsk warriors ceased to pursue other Smolensk men, and turning, fell on the rear of Mystislav’s regiment and trampled it. Mystislav himself was following one of Oleg’s divisions. When he turned, after stopping pursuit, he thought that he would see his own men, that Chernigoff was conquered, but, to his amazement, he found not his men, but Polotsk warriors in front of him. They recognized him, and he was seized at once. Others, returning from the pursuit of Oleg of Chernigoff, beheld from afar the Polotsk triumph, and fled, as did all the men of Smolensk.

Freed from pursuers, and discovering the Polotsk men, Oleg could scarcely believe his senses. Straightway he sent this message to Yaroslav, his uncle: “I have captured Mystislav; I have beaten his army and the army of David and the Smolensk men. O father, such a time will not come again. March without delay. Put all our forces together. We will get our honor back!”

On receiving this message, Yaroslav, with Igor and all the descendants of Oleg, joined their forces for the expedition. They wished to fall upon Smolensk unexpectedly, but when Rurik of Kief was going from the capital to take rest in his favorite residence, Ovrutch, he sent his oath papers to Yaroslav with these words: “If in thy joy thou art going to kill my brother, here are thy oath papers. If thou go to Smolensk, I will go to Chernigoff. Let us see how God and the holy cross will judge between us.” Because [150]of this threat, Yaroslav did not go to Smolensk, but returned to Chernigoff, and the two princes, Rurik of Kief and Yaroslav of Chernigoff, continued to send envoys to each other with reproaches of oath breaking. Yaroslav declared that he had not broken his oath, but that the real blame was on David, son of Rostislav, who had seized Vitebsk. There were many disputes and high words between them, and they came to no agreement. Thereupon Rurik sent this message to Big Nest: “Since thou didst agree with David and me to set out about Christmas, and meet us near Chernigoff, I joined him with troops and wild Polovtsi, and waited all winter; thou didst not move, thinking that the Chernigoff princes would not attack us. In view of this, I dismissed David and the Polovtsi, and Yaroslav and I kissed the cross not to raise arms against each other till we had agreed or failed in agreement. Now Mystislav is sitting in chains in Chernigoff. If we should delay longer, wilt thou mount thy horse and declare where we are to assemble? Avenge the offense and remove the shame. Let us free Mystislav, and get justice.”

Big Nest gave no answer that summer. In the autumn, when Rurik had summoned his brethren and the Polovtsi, he marched on Chernigoff. Then Yaroslav of Chernigoff sent this message to Rurik: “My brother, why dost thou wage war on my country and use pagans to help thee? Thou hast done me no harm, and I am not seeking thy capital. If thy brother sent his nephew against me, God judged between me and Mystislav. I ask no ransom for Mystislav; I am ready to free him. Kiss the cross to me that thou wilt bring me to friendship with David, thy brother, and that thou hast no plot with Big Nest, whether I settle with him or fail in a settlement.” Rurik, without restraining the Polovtsi, began now to negotiate, demanding that Yaroslav should let his envoys pass to Smolensk and Vladimir. But the Chernigoff prince feared, and with reason, that the labors of those envoys would be directed against him; hence he closed all of his lands to the Kief prince. War continued till winter. To one sorrow was added another in Yaroslav’s case, for the bravest of all the descendants of Oleg, Vsevolod Buitur of Trubchenvsk, died and was buried “amid mighty wailing and weeping.” They were roused from this sadness by delight at a friendship proposed by the Prince of Volynia. [151]

Roman raised weapons now against Rurik. The Kief prince received news at the same time from his son Rostislav and from David, his brother, that Roman had attacked their possessions. Thereupon he summoned to Kief Mystislav the Gallant, and sent him to Galitch to Vladimir, son of Eight Minds, and nephew of Big Nest, so that both might march into the lands of Volynia. Rurik, to rouse the Galitch prince greatly, gave command to say to him: “I would go myself with thee, but Big Nest has mounted and is marching to help me against the descendants of Oleg; we have decided to meet near Chernigoff.”

In fact Big Nest with David, Rurik’s brother, had entered the land of the Vyatichi. They burned town after town and devastated the country. After this storm, Yaroslav of Chernigoff prepared for a siege. Leaving his nephews in the capital to defend it, he took Igor of Novgorod-Seversk and a force of wild Polovtsi, and went to meet Big Nest and David. In that forest region of the Vyatichi, he felled trees and erected barriers for defense. He destroyed bridges, and made all roads and crossings as difficult as possible. Then he sent his most eminent men to lay terms of peace before Big Nest, but also a word of decision. “My brother and relative,” said he, “thou hast seized our bread and our inheritance, but, if it is thy true wish to agree and be in accord with us, we do not flee from agreement, and will act with thee. We will liberate Mystislav without ransom. If thou hast plans against us, we will not avoid meeting thee. Let God and the Holy Saviour give judgment.”

Big Nest called a council of the Ryazan princes who were with him. At this council, he declared that there was no reason for the war now, as he thought, and that he wished to give peace to Chernigoff. David was indignant. “How?” asked he. “Thou hast stipulated with Rurik, my brother, and me to meet us both at Chernigoff, and make peace only there, and as we all agreed. Rurik waits with impatience for news from us, while fighting with his force against Chernigoff. For me and for thee he has let his whole country be covered with fire, and now we wish to make peace without him. I tell thee sincerely that such a peace will not please my brother.” But, in spite of David’s protest, Big Nest stopped the advance and began to negotiate.

At this time Yaropolk, son of Yaroslav of Chernigoff, was Prince [152]of Novgorod, called there by the Novgorod men some months earlier. Big Nest demanded that Yaropolk leave Novgorod. Mystislav must be freed without ransom, and then he advised that Chernigoff abandon the alliance with Roman. All these conditions were accepted save the last. Finally the negotiations were concluded with a strict and precise obligation on the part of Chernigoff, without mentioning alliances, not to strive to take Kief or Smolensk from Rurik or David. The Vladimir prince gave peace on this basis. “I have made peace with Yaroslav. He has kissed the cross not to seek Kief from thee, or Smolensk from thy brother,” was his message to Rurik.

Rurik flashed up with rage at these words, and sent a reproach, not an answer to Big Nest. “Thou didst kiss the cross to me that whoso was my enemy was thine also. Thou didst ask of me a share in Southern Russia, and I gave thee the best province, not from excess of land at my disposal, since I was forced to take the land from Roman, and he is for that cause my enemy. No matter how many promises thou didst make to help me, thou didst pass the winter and summer in promises. How didst thou assist me, and how didst thou finish that touching which thou didst kiss the cross with me?” And the enraged Rurik took back those towns on the Ros which he had given to Big Nest. Big Nest, though very angry, paid no heed to this action. He had given already, as we know, the best towns to Rurik and to Rurik’s son, Rostislav.

Thus rose the quarrel between the Kief prince and the Prince of Vladimir, a complete break between relatives. That this was a bad move for Rurik, and that he would not remain in Kief long, seemed clear to most men; his fall appeared certain. In addition to this trouble, he lost David, his best friend and defender, who died in Smolensk in 1197. The throne of Smolensk and the lands around Kief which belonged to him, David left to Mystislav, son of Roman, the oldest in his family. His children he committed to Rurik.

That Rurik was weakened in Kief and had lowered its dignity, Roman was more convinced now than ever. Divorced from Rurik’s daughter, he sent her to her father and married a second time. Rurik, however, held Kief for some years after this. Meanwhile Roman was collecting strength to get his “mind’s wish,” [153]and later it came to him; for soon he reached immense power for that place and period. About this time the bravest of Oleg’s descendants, Vsevolod, son of Sviatoslav, died and disappeared from the field of activity. The Chernigoff prince, Rostislav, died in 1198, and his throne was occupied, according to seniority, by Igor of Novgorod-Seversk. Two years later “Rushing Bull” the hero of the Slovo died. Among the descendants of Oleg, Vsevolod Chermny, son of Sviatoslav “the sister’s son,” became prominent, and soon occupied the first place. The decease of these older men was not followed by any disorder, but a little later, Vladimir, son of Eight Minds, died, and as he left no heir his death caused immense changes and brought after it endless disturbance throughout Southern Russia. The Hungarians and Poles struggled for his possessions, but were set aside promptly by Roman, who having once held the Galitch throne never again turned his eyes from it.

Bela of Hungary, who still called himself “King of Galicia,” hurried straightway with his troops to take possession of Galitch, but Roman moved his forces still more quickly. He had planned to arm Poland against Hungary, its permanent rival, and hastening to Cracow turned again to Leshko, for whom he had shed his blood some years earlier. Taking him and his forces, he anticipated Bela and was in the capital before him. The Hungarians, hearing of Roman’s success, fell back beyond the Carpathians. The men of Galitch, who had opened the city to Roman, seated him on the throne of Volodar, Vladimirko and Eight Minds. The new ruler surpassed without exception all who had preceded him; with his strong mind and heroic manner, it could not be otherwise.

Galitch and Volynia, through the character of the people and the nature of the country, formed one possession. From the time that they were separated through violence by Vsevolod, son of Monomach, who died in 1093 (he separated them for the benefit of the landless “orphan” princes), disputes touching boundaries had been continual between princes of Galitch and Volynia. The first prince who held both lands was Roman. It should be remembered that Galitch in those days extended to the Danube, and included the present Roumania. Roman took Galitch without a struggle, because the people there helped him. They had learned to fear foreign rule, hence received him as the prince of their [154]wishes; they would have no prince but Roman. The Poles boasted, however, that thanks to them Roman was seated in Galitch, and in later years, when Roman had been slain, and while his two sons were still children, they robbed Volynia and plundered Galitch. Polish boasting and the really close relationship between Mazovian and Volynian princes gave rise to the fable and claim in Poland that those lands were an ancient appanage of Poland. After Roman’s death, they were claimed by the Poles as their own lands, which their princes through kindness had given, as they averred, for temporary use to Russian princes, their relatives.

But come what might, Leshko was glad that they had stopped the Hungarians, who in their turn were glad that Galitch had gone from the Poles to their opponents. Both sides feared Roman and made a proverb declaring him to be “as brave as a bull, as pugnacious as a rat, and as deadly as a crocodile.”

Andrei, the former “King of Galicia,” raised no claim during Roman’s time. Polish princes sought Roman’s friendship, and not only made no attack on his territory, but feared lest he might demand of them lands which were formerly Russian, but had been seized by Polish princes.

Roman was feared still more by his enemies in Galitch. Almost all the boyars were traitors to the people through their love of power and delight in loose living, in which they resembled their western neighbors. To raise themselves high above the people and bind them in absolute slavery, so as to hold Galitch as the Poles and Hungarians held their lands, was the ideal of those boyars, and that is why they yielded so gladly to Hungary. These tendencies they exalted, of course, as love of country, and sacrifice for the fatherland. But the keen Roman saw through such pretenses. His opponents said that he acted inhumanly with the boyars of Galitch. During his short reign he destroyed many of them. His enemies declared that he quartered boyars, shot them, or buried them alive; that when they fled he lured them back by promises of kindness, and when, trusting in his words, they returned, he delivered them to torrents. The truth is that at the time of his first occupation of Galitch, he saw its disorders most clearly. That which his own eyes beheld fully convinced him that the boyars who pretended to care for and toil in the interest of the country were the ones who gave it up to a Latin prince and a foreigner, [155]and he would not spare traitors. When he settled finally in Galitch, he was forced to take mighty measures against men who were at once his opponents and the enemies of the people. There is no doubt that the greater part of them fled from Roman’s anger, withdrawing in season to Hungary. Those who remained, he either put to death, or reduced to obedience. For this he received from the chroniclers not blame but thanks, and the title “Single Ruler of Galitch.” He reigned with glory, possessing all Carpathian Russia, that is, ruling alone on the banks of the Dniester, the Pruth, the Seret in the Danube regions, in places which are now Roumania, and in the Volynian lands in addition.

Rome sought now more intimate relations with Roman, but all attempts failed and further approach was deferred till a more favorable period, which did not come during Roman’s days. In the short interval from 1197 to 1201, Galitch and Volynia held the first place in Southern Russia. In other principalities, nothing happened of interest. Big Nest’s whole activity was confined to Vladimir, except that he renewed Gorodok and strengthened its Kremlin, and sent Yaroslav, his son, to Pereyaslavl, thus making it clear that he had part in Southern Russia. With Rurik of Kief he stopped all relations. The Polovtsi did not trouble Kief during this period, but their new day was coming.

Of all the descendants of Monomach and even of Oleg, “those ancient allies of the wild Polovtsi,” there was no prince in history so intimate with those steppe men as Rurik. He wished to be friends with every horde without exception, and in cases of need they were ready to serve him. It was not stated in chronicles without good reason that “the pagans delighted in Rurik, for he received all with love, whether Christians or pagans, and sent away no man unsatisfied.”

In 1202 came the end of peace. In that year began wars without number, and expeditions which plunged the whole country into gloom. As soon as Rurik had made a firm treaty with the princes of Chernigoff, he hastened to use it. He resolved to humiliate Roman. The Chernigoff princes joined this league against Roman, and persuaded all descendants of Oleg to be with them. Chermny, the Chernigoff prince, went to Kief with his brethren, to help Rurik against the “Single Ruler of Galitch” and his kinsmen who managed under him in Volynia. These allied princes could not [156]forgive Roman for taking Galitch without their consent, and without sharing it with another; they also envied him his swift exaltation. It was learned besides that Roman had come to an agreement with Big Nest, whom alone he considered as his senior. And, to finish the matter, it had been decided between those two princes to give the Kief throne to Ingvar, son of Yaroslav of Volynia.

But, while sitting in Galitch, the golden-domed capital of Eight Minds, Roman knew well what was happening in Kief, the old capital. Marching swiftly, he anticipated his enemies and forestalled their campaign. The Cherkasi and the Black Caps rose to a man and went forth gladly to join the on-marching regiments of Volynia and Galitch. Kief and the towns around it were excited in favor of Roman. While the allies were talking over the future division of Bailgorod, Vyshgorod and other towns, and also the partition of Galitch; while they were planning the positions of the regiments and the hordes of Polovtsi, Roman, supported by the population, approached Kief on a sudden. The inhabitants opened the gates, and he marched in without opposition. He occupied Podol, the lower part of the city, and sent to Rurik, who was in the hill part, demanding surrender. In view of the fact that the people had opened the gates and were ready for a general uprising, the allies made no resistance whatever. Roman brought them all to kiss the cross to him; he kissed it also in this,—that he did not take Kief for himself. He then permitted them to withdraw from the city and go to their homes. Rurik went to his Ovrutch, and the Chernigoff princes to their lands east of the Dnieper. Then, deferring to Big Nest, Roman seated Ingvar, son of Yaroslav, on the Kief throne. After this, Roman won the double love of the people by a campaign against the Polovtsi, “the wild ones.” Instead of the plunder of Galitch promised the Polovtsi by Rurik, they had now to pay dearly for assisting him. Roman seized their towns and made a vast number of prisoners. He freed Christian captives, and the delight at his victory was unbounded.

Thus began a new reign in Kief. But while Ingvar sat there no one dreamed of calling him Grand Prince, for he was simply a lieutenant; moreover his rule had but one feature of brightness,—its brevity.

The vanquished Rurik and Oleg’s descendants, who had been humiliated, could not forgive the Kief people their treason, and [157]prepared to take vengeance. A crime was committed then that has not its like in Kief history. Though many evils had come upon the mother city they were slight in comparison with this one. Rurik with his people and Chermny with his troops, in January, 1204, brought to Kief countless legions of Polovtsi, promising those savage warriors and wild men of the steppes the plunder of the capital. It was said that “the whole land of the Polovtsi” was present. Kief was taken by storm; not only did the Polovtsi sack all the lower town, but they rushed to the upper part; they plundered the monasteries, Sophia cathedral, and the Tithe church; they stripped the holy images, and carried away the consecrated vessels and crosses. “The wild ones” seized the precious robes of ancient princes, of Saint Vladimir and his son, Yaroslav the Lawgiver, and other robes which had been kept in the churches and revered as sacred relics. The city was blazing. Along the streets captive people were driven in multitudes. Foreign merchants defended themselves in the stone churches so manfully that the Polovtsi bargained with them, taking a part of their merchandise as ransom.

In general, the Polovtsi spared neither the great nor the insignificant, the rich nor the indigent. A multitude of old monks and nuns, and also the parish clergy, were slain with lances or cut down with swords, as were the lame, the blind, and all useless people. The healthy and young were taken captive. Not a house was left unplundered. In the churches not one sacred vessel was spared, or one holy image with its ornaments. When they had sated themselves with plunder and withdrawn from the city, Kief was a smoking ruin; only the groans of the dying broke the silence. The streets, stained with blood, were covered with corpses.

People afterward called to mind many prophecies and omens given during that year: one night, for example, the heavens suddenly appeared as if dyed with blood; on the streets and in the houses each object seemed blood-covered. Men saw how stars torn from the sky fell to the earth. This phenomenon terrified all who witnessed it. People thought that the end of life was approaching. It seemed now that the destruction of Kief had been foretold by those heavenly wonders. “It might have been so, for what could be more awful than the ruin of Kief by its own princes. Had such a crime ever been heard of in the world till that day?” [158]But the words describing its terrors had not ceased to sound among people, when they were drowned by an outcry still more terrible.

A tale came from afar giving an account of a new and dreadful woe to all people of the Orthodox world. Tsargrad had been taken by the Latins. The Western Crusaders had seized the capital of the Emperors, had plundered it to the last object, and had robbed and slaughtered people too numerous for reckoning. They had entered Holy Sophia, had torn off the door, and cut in pieces the ambo covered with silver; they had stripped the wonderful altar, had taken all the precious stones and candlesticks, the Gospels bound in gold and silver, the holy crosses and the priceless images. Other churches without number in the city and outside the city and the monasteries they had stripped naked. “The number of these and their beauty could not be recounted or described by any man.” Thus had fallen the God-preserved city of Tsargrad, the capital of the empire and of the land of the Greeks.

These two deeds, the capture of Kief by Rurik and the Polovtsi, and the capture of Tsargrad by the Latins, happened in the same year, 1204. Rurik, chief destroyer of Kief, not daring to set foot in the capital, went back to Ovrutch. Ingvar buried himself for the rest of his life in Volynia.

Roman, not believing his ears when he learned of the terrible destruction of Kief, wished to hear from Rurik himself the explanation, and went from Galitch directly to Ovrutch. We know not what Rurik told Roman, who for his own selfish purposes greatly desired to detach Rurik from the princes of Chernigoff and from the Polovtsi. Rurik was willing to desert them, or at least to promise to do so, if Kief might be his again. Whatever the result was, both parties were dissatisfied. Apparently Roman did not wish, in view of detaching Rurik from Chernigoff and the Polovtsi, to refuse him the Kief throne. Being friendly with Big Nest, and knowing his dislike for the Kief prince, since he had contributed to Rurik’s disgrace, and the establishment of Ingvar, Roman arranged in this way: he declared to Rurik that to confirm a prince in Kief did not depend on him, the Prince of Galitch, and advised Rurik to turn with his request to Big Nest, promising to write himself to the Prince of Vladimir touching the matter. He made this promise, believing that Big Nest would reject the proposal. But, in this case, Big Nest did not justify Roman’s expectation. [159]The Grand Prince of Vladimir, to the utter amazement of all persons, gave his consent to the return of Rurik, and no one, save Roman, could explain the act, otherwise than as due to the marvelous good nature of Big Nest. “This merciful prince,” said the people, “does not remember Rurik’s crimes, or even the offense which he himself has endured from him.” But Roman apparently explained this unexpected act differently, and, not wishing Rurik’s return, took his own course.

In 1205, the following year, when Rurik was prince in Kief again, Roman strengthened his earlier friendship with Chernigoff, and with Yaroslav, son of Big Nest, ruling at that time in Pereyaslavl on the Alta. Then he went to Rurik with regiments from Volynia and Galitch, and announced a campaign against the Polovtsi. No matter how Rurik might favor the Polovtsi, he could not refuse to fight against the enemies of his country. The sacred cry raised all Southern Russia. A general arming took place, and under Roman a successful campaign was made. The Polovtsi were beaten, as they had not been beaten for a long time. Many captives were rescued, and much of the wealth seized in Kief at the sacking of the city was restored. Roman won immense honor, and the gratitude shown him was general.

But to conquer the Polovtsi was not the only, or perhaps the chief reason for this expedition. On their return, Rurik was removed from the Kief throne. We know not how this was effected; we know only that Roman did it indirectly. This is shown by the fact that he took home with him to Galitch Rurik’s two sons, Vladimir and Rostislav, the former a son-in-law of Big Nest. Rurik himself became a monk, while his daughters and wife were forced to enter a convent. No one doubted that Rurik took the habit through compulsion from Roman. When Big Nest heard of these acts, he was angry, but only because the husband of his favorite daughter was, as he thought, a captive in Galitch. He demanded the instant liberation of both brothers. To this Roman answered, not merely with perfect compliance, but he made an addition: Rostislav was not only set free, he was placed on the Kief throne.

Roman proposed now a meeting in Kief of all the ruling princes to discuss and establish new rules which he intended to lay before the assembly. These rules were in substance as follows: To prevent [160]local princes from becoming insignificant, they must be stopped from dividing their lands, and made to give rule to the eldest son only. At the death of the Grand Prince, the other ruling princes were to choose from among them the man most deserving of primacy. The princes did not like this proposal, but not wishing, or perhaps not daring to anger Roman, they promised to assemble and examine his project. Later on, in one way and another, they avoided the meeting. Big Nest refused to consider the question at all, and answered: “I have no wish to violate customs. Let matters rest as they were in the days of our fathers.”

Involved more and more with his Polish relations, Roman did not cease to help Leshko in the war which he waged against Mechislav, his uncle. He took part in a later war, also, against Mechislav’s son, surnamed Cane Legs (Laska Nogi). Meanwhile, regiments of Volynia and Galitch occupied the ancient Russian region of Lublin. But Leshko and Cane Legs made peace with each other, and asked Roman to lead home his warriors. Roman, in answer, laid siege to Lublin and demanded either a return in money for all his campaign, or that they should yield up to him this ancient Russian region so long in dispute between Poles and Russians.

Leshko, roused against Roman by Cane Legs, marched with Konrad, his brother, to attack him. Roman abandoned the siege and went to meet the two brothers. When he was encamped on the left of the Vistula, at Zavihvost, envoys came to him from Leshko, and a truce was agreed upon, pending a final arrangement and treaty. Supposing this truce to be genuine, Roman, taking no further thought about action or safety, went out one day from his camp to hunt with a small party. All at once he was surrounded, and, in a desperate struggle with men who would not take note of the truce, he fell, weapons in hand, with all his attendants. This was in 1205, on the day of Saints Gervasius and Protasius.

Leshko and his brother were so rejoiced at the unhoped-for deliverance, that in the Cracow cathedral they raised an altar to those two saints and made them their patrons. [161]




When Roman’s death became known, Chermny, Prince of Chernigoff, set out for Kief. But the monk Rurik was in the city before him. Throwing off his habit, he ruled again in the ancient capital, replacing Rostislav, who left the throne to his father. Rurik and his allies, bound by old treaties, took fresh oaths, Rurik agreeing to give them certain towns near the capital, Bailgorod on the Ros, Torchesk, and Tropoli.

Meanwhile in Galitch there were disturbances, quarrels and uprisings. There was no end to dissensions among boyars, who rushed in from all sides, returning some from Hungary, and others from Poland. Roman’s former enemies tried to arm all men against the heirs of their late opponent. The youthful widow of Roman was left with two sons, Daniel, four years of age, and Vassilko, an infant. Though in 1205 the people of Galitch had proclaimed Daniel to be their prince, and had taken oath to him, it was impossible for a little boy, or those who had charge of him, to keep peace among quarreling factions which were threatening one another with bloodshed. At this difficult juncture, the widow sought audience of Andrei of Hungary, who had just received the Hungarian crown so long withheld from him. This was the same Andrei who had once ruled in Galitch, but had become afterward a friend of Roman. He was moved now by her grief as she presented Roman’s orphans, and he remembered the promise which on a time he had given their father. Loyal to his brother by adoption, as he called Roman, who was a distant relative, Andrei’s grandfather, Geiza, having married Efrosina, daughter of Mystislav the Great, and sister of Roman’s grandfather, Andrei fondled Daniel, called him “dear son,” and sent a detachment of warriors to establish him in Galitch and guard the peace there. Hungarian garrisons were [162]distributed also in many places. This timely aid, though foreign, stopped attack from Kief and Chernigoff princes, who fought on the Dniester and Seret successfully, but dared not draw near Galitch.

This evidence of friendship on the part of the king forestalled action by the boyars of Galitch. But the year following, 1206, Chermny again led his men into Galitch, bringing with him a great force of Polovtsi. All the sons of the late Igor of Novgorod-Seversk joined him, and also the grandsons of Yaroslav, who, through their mother, the daughter of Eight Minds, thought themselves the next heirs to Galitch. Chermny also engaged the Mazovian princes, who were hostile to Galitch. Though connected with these princes by marriage, for his wife was the daughter of Kazimir, he relied less on their friendship for him than on their jealousy of Hungary. He believed that the Poles and Hungarians would dispute over Galitch, and he was not mistaken. Rurik also, as Kief prince, thought himself master of every inheritance. This time the allies were more numerous than a year earlier.

At news of this advance of Russian princes and of their alliance with Poles, a disturbance began which was worse than any preceeding it. The enemies of Roman’s sons preferred Chernigoff princes. Some of the boyars wished neither Daniel nor any grandson of Eight Minds, but Hungary, with which they desired perfect union. Others inclined toward the Poles; still others declared that they wished no prince whatever, that they were all foreign upstarts; that a government by boyars was the right one for Galitch. To this party were joined men who had deserted the people, adventurers of all kinds. These disposers of Galitch were willing to attach themselves to any faction, to leave any side for any other. They were ready to flatter all parties at once, if by thus doing they could continue disorder. The seizure of lands and the winning of fortunes was their single policy. The tyranny of boyars increased daily. The grabbing of land had become now an everyday action, and men who were not boyars at all, but laid claim to the title, took lands and kept them.

Roman’s sons were surrounded by falsehood and treason. When they heard that Polish and Russian forces were marching against them, they turned to their protector. But to wait for the king would have been perilous. He gave notice indeed that he was coming and would save them, but Galitch disorders had [163]become so serious that the widowed princess refused to stay longer in the city with her children; and the family of Roman saved itself only by flight to Volynia. When the king had passed the mountains, he heard that the Poles were marching on Volynia, and he hastened to intercept them.

Igor’s sons crossed the Galitch boundary, but halted when they found that the king was leading in a strong army. At this juncture, affairs suddenly called Andrei back to Hungary. Such disturbances had broken out there that he feared for his throne. In view of this, he sought peace with the Poles, pointing out to them that he did not seek Galitch for himself, and did not insist now on setting up Roman’s children. He advised Galitch men to invite Yaroslav, son of Big Nest, to be their prince.

Abandoned by Andrei and all the Hungarians, the men of Galitch were terrified by the advance of Rurik and the Chernigoff forces. Yaroslav was hastening to them from Pereyaslavl, but the sons of Igor anticipated him, for they were present in the Chernigoff army. Owing to the ancient ties between Novgorod-Seversk and the family of Eight Minds, but, more than that, owing to the triumph at that juncture of those boyars who preferred the sons of Igor to all other princes, they established themselves in Galitch. Such a quick turn toward Oleg’s descendants put an end to the whole expedition.

Chermny, satisfied with the success of his line, withdrew from his connection with Rurik and the quarreling allies returned to their homes. But it was not enough that the sons of Igor were in Galitch. The boyars who had seated them did not wish to lose Volynia, and commanded these princes, who were now in their power, to get possession of that city, and expel the sons of Roman. The sons of Igor immediately sent envoys to Volynia to demand the surrender of the city. The people were so enraged by this demand that they wished to tear the envoys to pieces. But in Volynia, too, there were boyars who sided with the sons of Igor, hence the disposition of the capital was mutinous. The widowed princess, on learning that the sons of Igor had threatened to destroy Volynia if Roman’s sons, Daniel and Vassilko, were not given up to them, and that the city contained not a few partisans of those princes, counseled with Miroslav, her elder son’s tutor, and resolved to flee promptly. [164]

Avoiding the city gates, where the guards might be hostile, the princess crept through a hole in the wall during night hours. With her were three persons, Miroslav, a priest, and a nurse who cared for the little princes. “Not knowing to what place they should flee,” adds the chronicler, “since the Poles had murdered Roman.” But being related to Leshko, the widow decided to appear before him, and ask refuge. Leshko was moved when he saw the little orphans of the man who had been both his friend and opponent. “The devil himself made us disagree in those days,” cried he. Leshko had in fact loved Roman; but the crafty Cane Legs, for purposes of his own, had brought about the quarrel.

Leshko kept the princess with her infant Vassilko, and sent Daniel with attendants to Hungary, commanding his envoys to say to the king there: “Remember not the faults of Roman, for he was a friend to thee. He and thou swore to each other that whoso of you lived the longer would cherish the orphans of the dead man. Now Roman’s children are exiles, but thou and I may help them to return to their country.” These words, flattering, through confidence, served to bring the prince and the Hungarian king nearer to each other. Hitherto they had been quarreling, but thenceforth both men cared actively for the two sons of Roman. This care was friendly in appearance, but fatal in reality. These men had now an opportunity to reëstablish the strong house of Roman, but fearing its power, they hesitated to do so. For them there was profit in separating Galitch from Volynia, and more profit still in taking possession of those lands and dividing them. Hence throughout Galitch and Volynia endless disorder continued.

In Kief troubles multiplied immensely, because Big Nest did not choose to put an end to them. He left Southern Russia to follow its own course. But great changes were at hand. Chermny, seeing that matters had arranged themselves well to his profit in Galitch without Rurik’s devices, and that Rurik had not power to bestow on Chernigoff the Kief cities promised it, quarreled with him finally, and, relying on himself, seized Kief. “Why should I not take it?” thought he. “I am Sviatoslav’s heir.”

Once in Kief, Chermny sent these words to Yaroslav, Prince of Pereyaslavl on the Alta: “Go to thy father, and seek not to take Galitch from my cousins. Unless thou leave of thy own will, I will march against thee.” [165]

Pereyaslavl was vacated immediately, and Chermny installed a prince of his own line. Rurik, enraged by this, summoned Mystislav, the Smolensk prince, Mystislav the Gallant, and his own sons, Vladimir and Rostislav, to help him, and, aided by their forces, he drove Chermny out of Kief, and won back Pereyaslavl. The following winter Chermny, as was his wont, led into the country great hordes of Polovtsi, and laid siege to Kief, but was soon forced to raise the siege and withdraw. At the end of the year he returned with larger forces, and began by winning Tripoli on the Ros. Vladimir, son of Igor, came with assistance, and all marched on Kief. Rurik, learning that enormous forces were moving against him from every side, and knowing that there was no aid from any place, withdrew to Ovrutch. Chermny, besides seizing Kief, took Bailgorod, and reduced Torchesk by famine. Thus at the end of 1207 all the Kief country fell into his possession.

Meanwhile, in Galitch and Volynia, affairs were very gloomy. At first the Hungarian king, taking pity on Daniel, wished to give him the dominions of his father, but the sons of Igor sent costly gifts to Andrei, and ceased not in the sending, declaring at the same time that they were ready to remain as his assistants. This was the position which the boyars desired. Such subjection of Galitch pleased the king, who kept Daniel near him, as if through hospitality. Leshko, by sheltering Vassilko and his mother, under pretext of defending the orphans and restoring their inheritance, managed in Volynia as he did in his own house. At this work he was helped most zealously by Alexander, better known as Bailski, Roman’s nephew, his brother’s son, who wished to rule in Volynia, and set aside Roman’s sons if possible. So the sons of Igor were protected by the King of Hungary, and Bailski worked with Leshko to keep Volynia from the sons of Roman. Thanks to Bailski, Leshko, and Konrad his brother, brought Polish forces to Volynia and disposed of places in it, as if they were their own inherited possessions. Some they gave to Russian princes who pleased them; others they reserved for their own special use. The people of Volynia, indignant at this Polish action, passed judgment on Bailski “the traitor,” saying; “We trusted Bailski, since he was Roman’s nephew. Had it not been for that, the Poles could never have crossed the Būg to rob us.” [166]

The Polish princes kept Bailski in Volynia, as the manager. Leshko married Gremislav, Bailski’s daughter, and the former connection of Mazovian princes with the princes of Volynia became even more involved through this marriage, which gave them, as they thought, still greater right to use Volynia as their own inheritance.

But soon the senior of Volynian princes, that same Ingvar who in Roman’s day had reigned in Kief, though very briefly, claimed Volynia, and was established in it, though for a short period only. The Polish guardians changed their minds quickly. The place returned to Bailski, and Ingvar was sent back to Lutsk.

To Vassilko, Roman’s second son, his Polish guardians gave Brest at the urgent demand of its people, who, alarmed that Poles had taken possession of Russian land so near them, wished to have their native princes. When the mother went to Brest with Vassilko, the people met her with joy, and declared that in the boy they beheld the great Roman. The widow complained with bitterness: “They have given Bailski all our lands; only one town is left for my son.” In view of this complaint Leshko, who had given much to Bailski, commanded him to yield Bailz to Daniel and his brother.

Sviatoslav, son of Igor, once captured in Volynia, was sent to his brothers in Galitch, neither to his own good nor theirs, as became evident later. In Galitch the boyars made prince quarrel with prince, and brother rise against brother. Each son of Igor wished to take all that his brothers had, each wished to rise at the expense of the others; each of them fled more than once from his portion, and returned to it eagerly. More than once was complaint made in Hungary against all three of them. The king wished at last to be rid of these quarrelsome princes, so he placed in Galitch his own viceroy, Benedict Bor, a noted magnate, to whom he gave great authority.

Big Nest, Prince of Vladimir, now suddenly decided to cast aside his policy of non-interference and take active part in Southern Russia. When his son Yaroslav, driven from Pereyaslavl, returned home and described Chermny’s accession, and the general predominance of Oleg’s descendants, even in Galitch, Big Nest inquired: “Is all that land theirs, or is it ours as well?” And these words of the Grand Prince went whirling through Russia. [167]They encouraged the descendants of Monomach and confused the Chernigoff princes. A great army soon moved from the North toward the South. Command was given to the troops of Ladoga, of Pskoff, of Nova-Torg and Tver to march with it. All these forces were led by Constantine, the eldest son of the Prince of Vladimir, who waited for his father at Moscow. Big Nest advanced with the men of Rostoff and Suzdal and the Vladimir regiments, led by his second and third sons, Yuri and Yaroslav; with him also was Vladimir, his youngest son. The troops of Pronsk, Ryazan and Murom had received commands to join the expedition at Moscow.

In Moscow the two main divisions met. The Grand Prince gave a week for rest. He praised the posadnik of Novgorod and the boyars of that city for obedience, and gave a great feast to them. In general, the Moscow halt was gladsome for the warriors. From Moscow they went to the Oká, where, in the meadows opposite the Chernigoff-Ryazan bank, they pitched their camp. There they were soon joined by the remaining forces, but still they did not advance. This caused general surprise in the army, and men began to complain of delay and indecision.

It was said that Big Nest’s eldest son, Constantine, had quarreled with his father over this question. It was also stated that there was treachery in the army, that two princes of Ryazan, Roman and Sviatoslav, sons of Glaib, had betrayed their uncle and cousins, and had promised to go over to Chermny’s side and deliver Big Nest into his hands. It seems true that Ryazan princes had been brought into this campaign against their wishes, that they did not desire success for Big Nest, and in case of his failure would have gone over, in all likelihood, to his opponents.

The cautious Prince of Vladimir acted in his own way. He sent to his capital as prisoners all the princes who had come to him from Ryazan, and all their boyars, with command to keep them carefully under guard. Then he turned toward Ryazan. First he attacked Pronsk, which after desperate resistance surrendered. He then appointed his own men to places throughout the principality, and moved on Ryazan. He was within twenty versts of that city and about to pass the Pron River, when a large company of penitent Ryazan men came, bringing with them envoys [168]from the bishop. They bowed down and humbly implored the Vladimir prince not to ruin their city. Arseni, the Ryazan bishop, had sent more than once remonstrating letters, and now he spoke through envoys: “Grand Prince and lord, do not ruin noble places. Do not burn God’s holy churches; sacrifice is offered to the Lord in them, and prayers for thee. We promise to accomplish thy will as thou wishest precisely.”

Big Nest, pleased with this obedience, turned his anger into mercy. He ordered the army to withdraw to Kolomna, where the petitioners were to meet him for final negotiations. It was late in the year, inclining to frost. The Oká was not firmly frozen, but there was ice on it. Big Nest had to wait two days in tents near the river; the third day heavy frost came; the whole army crossed the Oká on the ice, and entered Kolomna. The night after a tremendous storm rose; next morning came a violent rainfall, and the ice broke. The bishop, Arseni, and the Ryazan men crossed in boats, with great peril. The bishop thanked the Grand Prince for his clemency, and begged him to be gracious to the end, to return the captured princes, and he, the bishop, would answer for their loyalty.

“Cast aside thy anger against those men,” said he; “take them into thy favor and the Most Holy will cast aside thy faults. Turn thy ear from calumniators, for they, with feigned loyalty and fawning, are working not for the good of the country, but for their own profit. God has placed thee, O great prince, as a ruler to judge and give justice to His people. It is proper for thee to punish the guilty, God himself commands thee to do so, but there is need also for mercy, and not of punishment in anger. I, thy lowly petitioner, have been sent to thee at the prayer of all the Ryazan men. I have not come with power to command, that is not given from God to me, but with mildness and tears I implore and pray thee to accept my beseeching.”

Big Nest was moved by these speeches, and declared to the bishop, that because of his pastoral intercession, and the penitence of the Ryazan men, he was willing to give complete peace, if they would promise not to conspire against him or oppose him in future. The bishop took this promise on himself, and engaged to bind the whole people to it by an oath. Big Nest agreed to think of the captive princes, but later on,—not that day. In this, however, [169]he did not yield to the prayers of Arseni, offered in the name of Ryazan. On the contrary, he demanded that they should without delay send the remaining princes and princesses to him in Vladimir, so that there should be no further disturbance.

November 21, 1207, the army arrived in Vladimir, and there was great rejoicing. Big Nest again thanked and rewarded the Pskoff and Novgorod men, who had shared the campaign and its toils with him. Especially was he kind to the wounded, many of whom he retained in Vladimir at his own expense till they recovered.

The Ryazan men, when the bishop returned to them, listened to the tidings which he brought, and took counsel. They did not find it possible to disobey the Grand Prince; so they sent the rest of their princes and princesses to Vladimir. Such a quick and complete accomplishment of his will was a surprise even to Big Nest. He explained it only by this, that the bishop, who was dependent on him, not on Chernigoff, brought them to submission.

In the winter of 1208, Big Nest sent as prince to Ryazan his son Yaroslav, who had been driven from Pereyaslavl by Rurik. The Ryazan men, not without astonishment, but without resistance, accepted the prince and kissed the cross to him, and there was no special dissatisfaction.

But the bishop’s statement when he spoke of calumniators, who feigned loyalty and only sought their own objects, proved true somewhat later. Glaib, who at the beginning of the campaign against Chernigoff had informed the Prince of Vladimir of the disloyalty of Ryazan men, had no doubt that after such service he would be made prince in Ryazan. Now, when he was put aside, he began to intrigue in all places. He could not be detected in open treason, but secretly he worked with untiring energy to increase discontent. He roused “the thought of disorder and the spirit of pride,” which in Ryazan displeased the Grand Prince so greatly. The name of Glaib was used now among the people as the watchword of liberty. In him they saw the defender of Ryazan, the hero of their freedom. Danger threatened the son of Big Nest. Many of his lieutenants were driven from their places; some were confined in cellars, others were put in chains, and some died of hunger. There were uprisings throughout the [170]whole principality, and all things indicated that a general revolt was beginning.

Big Nest saw that he had been deceived by the Ryazan men, and that he had congratulated himself too soon. He was indignant, and, determining that neither they nor their bishop should deceive him a second time, he led a new attack on Ryazan. When he was approaching the doomed capital his son, Yaroslav, came to meet him, thinking to incline him toward mercy. Shielding the guilty as far as was possible, he assured his father of the general obedience, and brought forward many men to strengthen this statement. But excuses and speeches seemed insolent to Big Nest; he paid no heed to any statement. Commanding the people to leave the city immediately, and take all movable property with them, he sent warriors to fire the place. From Ryazan he marched to Bailgorod, and the same cruel fate met that city. The whole Ryazan region was turned into emptiness by Vsevolod, Grand Prince of Vladimir.

During this campaign multitudes of proud, unbending men were seized in various Ryazan towns and sent with their families to Vladimir to be settled afterward in remote places. Big Nest took the most notable boyars to Vladimir, also the bishop. Of the princes who survived this visitation, only two tried to struggle further. Izyaslav, the only one of Glaib’s sons who had abstained from intrigue, and had distinguished himself by gallant fighting at Pronsk, and Kir Michael, who had sought refuge with Chermny, his father-in-law, and returned to reign afterward amid the ashes and ruins of his birthplace.

In the winter of 1209–1210, these two princes, in revenge for the burning of the Ryazan, attacked the southwestern edge of the Vladimir principality and burned many villages near Moscow. Big Nest sent his son, Yuri, who expelled the two princes easily. He severely punished Izyaslav’s forces, but Kir Michael escaped without injury. In 1210–1211, attacks were made on Ryazan, but with decreased vigor. Big Nest did not go himself; he sent his sword-bearer. This time also many prisoners were brought from Ryazan, and settled at various points in Vladimir. Thus ended the war with Ryazan. Roman and Sviatoslav never again saw their birthplace; both died in Vladimir. The younger princes were freed, but only after the death of Big Nest. [171]

In the two years which Big Nest spent in warring with Ryazan, disturbances in the South grew more and more intricate. There was war between Chermny and Rurik. Meanwhile disorder in Galitch and Volynia increased continually. In Galitch, after the expulsion of the sons of Igor, nothing was gained by the coming of Benedict Bor. That overbearing viavoda, or viceroy, was dissolute and addicted to women; he ruled in a conquered country and demanded from boyars and common men unlimited submission. His one care was for feasts and orgies. Following the custom of Hungarian magnates of that day, not only was he not ashamed of his vicious life,—he was proud of it. He seized maidens and other men’s wives when it pleased him; priests’ wives and nuns were his preference. It was said among the people that he did not govern, he harassed the country. Later on he received the appellation “Antichrist.”

Men demanded at last that they should be freed from this depraved viceroy. The people of Galitch began to communicate in secret with the sons of Igor, and with neighboring princes. At last they appealed to Mystislav the Silent, Prince of Peresopnitsa. This inconsiderable prince, the youngest son of Lutsk, brother of Ingvar, imagining himself the liberator of Galitch, came as a champion against “Antichrist,” but he appeared without troops. His attendants were “so few that bystanders could count them.” The boyars laughed him to scorn. More fortunate were his rivals, the sons of Igor, who heard these words from Galitch, through an embassy sent to them: “We have sinned against you, but come to us and save us from torture and ‘the harrier.’ ”

Taught by experience, the brothers now made a treaty with one another. They promised to have no more disputes, to take no land from one another, to ask nothing of the King of Hungary, and with common forces to support one another and guard well the country which they had lost and to which they were now summoned. When Benedict Bor came to Galitch, he had seized in a bath their eldest brother, Vladimir. Now they came near taking Bor in exactly the same condition. They entered the city so unexpectedly and surprised the viceroy so thoroughly that “Antichrist” did not dream of resistance. He thought only to save himself, and rushed in disgrace back to Hungary. [172]

Igor’s sons began to rule with great sternness. The king held them as rebels and disturbers; the boyars looked on them as outlaws and as rebels against boyar lordship; but the princes gave no ear to those boyars, showing a contempt which was calculated and unsparing. They hunted boyars and put them to death without mercy; they put magnates to death for the least opposition, and brought back the stern days of Roman. Against boyars a council was created which put to death Yuri Vassilievitch, Ilya Stepanovitch, and other distinguished men. Five hundred in all lost their lives. Many fled from Galitch. Even Volodislav, that boyar who first brought Galitch people to favor Igor’s sons during their boyhood, when their mother, the daughter of Eight Minds, was living, was forced to seek safety in flight, and from being their ally, he now became their worst enemy. With him went Sudislav and Philip, celebrated boyars, and other men like them. These swore on leaving the country that they would return and show who they were to those fellows who had dared to ape Roman.

The rage of those men against Igor’s sons was not to be measured. Volodislav toiled now in Hungary, saying: “Igor’s sons, in clear violation of regal right, and in hostility to the will of their monarch, are ruling as despots.” Volodislav implored Andrei to give him an army and Daniel, then ten years of age, to go with him. “I will bring Galitch to the feet of your Majesty promptly,” said he.

The king wished in one way or another to establish Roman’s heir, whom he was guarding. There were reports that he thought of giving Daniel his daughter, and with her Galitch as dowry. Volodislav’s words pleased the king; he gave a trusty following, and sent with the boyar his so-called son, Daniel.

The first towns, Peremysl and Zvenigorod, were hostile; neither place yielded. Daniel was shown to the people, and they were advised to take the prince born to them, but they clung to Igor’s sons firmly. They saw the king’s banners before them, they heard that voevodas and horsemen had come in large number from Hungary,—still they would not surrender. In Peremysl, they stood resolutely for Sviatoslav, that son of Igor who was with them. Then Volodislav himself went up to the walls of the city and called to the people: “Oh, brothers, why do ye waver? Are the men now managing our country not foreign intruders? Did they not slay [173]both your fathers and brothers and bear off your property? Did they not give your daughters to their servants? Do ye wish to lay down your lives for them?” The people listened to these questions, and remembered the evil done in the first reign of Igor’s sons. They hesitated also to dip their hands in blood in a war against Daniel, so at last they opened the gates of the city to him. Igor’s son, Sviatoslav, was captured.

At Zvenigorod the people fought stubbornly. The besieged did not let Volodislav come near the walls, and they made desperate sallies. The prince in that city was Roman, son of Igor, who brought “wild Polovtsi” to help him. Mika, Andrei’s voevoda, was unable to save himself. The “wild ones” took the head from his shoulders. That day the Hungarians were badly defeated.

When the Volynia men heard that “their Daniel” had come, they rose up against the sons of Igor. In Volynia all “the people” favored Daniel and his brother.

Envious, since Galitch was becoming the property of Hungary, Leshko, the guardian of Vassilko, took part in the uprising also. The Poles hastened to war against Hungary. Ingvar of Lutsk went with them, while Vassilko sent men from Bailz to his brother. It was difficult for Zvenigorod to remain independent. Roman, son of Igor, fearing the fate of his brother, declared that he was going for assistance, but he was captured and taken to the camp of the enemy. Then the allies sent this message to the citizens: “Your prince is captured! Surrender!” They could not believe it, and continued to fight for him, but when they saw Roman a captive they yielded. The eldest brother, Vladimir, who was in Galitch, left the city as the enemy approached it, and sought safety in flight. He was pursued and came near being captured, but his swift-footed stallion saved him.

Thus was accomplished in Galitch what Roman’s widow, tortured by waiting and exile, had not dared even to hope for; her firstborn son, Daniel, entered Galitch in triumph, and occupied the throne of his father. She appeared now in Galitch very promptly. Daniel, the boy of ten years, did not know her, but, as the annalist tells us, he expressed all the more feeling when he heard the word “son” from her lips, and saw the tears of delight which fell from her eyes. The boyars did not want that strong-hearted [174]mother in the country, for her word might have power there against them, hence she was removed quickly and without ceremony. Daniel was frantic at the parting. The boy had no wish to be in Galitch without his mother, and, while her foes were conducting her out of the city, he rode at her side, and held her robes firmly. One of the boyars seized the bridle of his horse to stop him. Furious at this, the young prince gave a sword-blow which missed the boyar, but wounded the horse on which he was riding. The mother grasped Daniel’s sword-hilt, bidding him to be calm and stay bravely in Galitch. On returning to Bailz, she sent a message to Hungary, complaining bitterly of the boyars, of Sudislav, and of Philip, but, above all, of Volodislav.

The boyars had not got what they wanted. They had overthrown Igor’s sons, who had dared to remind them of Roman, but to overthrow those princes was not enough; they must punish them. Such men as Sudislav and Volodislav were ready to give immense sums in gold for opponents like Sviatoslav and Roman. The voevodas, however, refused to yield up the captives, saying that such traitors should be sent to the sovereign. The boyars now had recourse to gold, and the voevodas, persuaded by great gifts, agreed to surrender the princes. In this way the men got possession of Igor’s sons and then hanged them. While the princes were swinging on gibbets, those boyars pierced them with arrows shot from their own bows by their own hands. That done they gave homage to Daniel, placed on the throne by the King of Hungary, and went home in good humor. Galitch was governed by boyars.

That same year, 1211, the king, touched by the tears of Roman’s widow, went in person to establish her in Galitch, where, to his amazement, he found Daniel’s relatives from Volynia,—Ingvar of Lutsk and others, who were there under pretext of visiting the new prince.

The king acted quickly. Volodislav, with Sudislav and Philip, were placed under guard, and then tortured; after this they were exiled. Sudislav, however, bought his freedom. “He turned himself into gold,” as is said by the chronicler. Volodislav was sent to Hungary in fetters, but he had two brothers in freedom, who were precisely such wily heroes as Volodislav himself. These men appeared now before Mystislav, whose brother, Ingvar, had [175]not been in Galitch without a purpose. All Volynia rose in revolt quickly, and made war on Andrei. Volynia was managed at this time by Leshko of Poland. This guardian of Vassilko had taken Bailz from his ward and given it back to Bailski, his father-in-law. The little Vassilko had been forced to hide himself in the poor town of Kamenyets. No one knew well, save the managers, what was happening in Volynia. To the outward observer there was chaos everywhere. In Galitch confusion seemed dominant. Reports were brought in that countless regiments were moving against the city. The people were ready to surrender, and go out and join with those regiments. Daniel and his mother, whom the king had brought back, fled now to save themselves, and Mystislav the Silent, who had been brought by Volodislav’s brothers, entered the city in triumph.

After this incredible triumph of Mystislav, came the still more incredible triumph of the chief of these brothers, Volodislav. From fetters and a prison in Hungary, he appeared before the king in his palace, and was nearer to power than he had ever been. A report flew through the country that the king was disposed to give him the throne of Galitch, and in fact not much time passed before Volodislav, at the head of Hungarians and a mercenary army, broke into Galitch.

Mystislav the Silent, whose rule had been short-lived, left his capital, and vanished. His place was immediately occupied by Volodislav. The chronicler says that he took the throne and ruled Galitch. All this was incredible only in appearance, for everything took place in the simplest manner possible.

The Poles and Hungarians, who were guarding the persons, and also the inheritance of Daniel and Vassilko, vied with each other in turning this inheritance to their own use and profit. Neither lacked will in the matter; means alone failed them. The determination of Hungarians equaled that of the Poles, but their absence of means was equal also. The Poles tried to win by bringing forward their kinship in Russia. The Hungarians worked in another way. They promised to give the boyars of Galitch a constitution like that in Hungary. They agreed to deliver the whole land and the people to those boyars.

Volodislav’s aims were clear and consistent. A year earlier, he had promised the submission of Galitch; he had guaranteed [176]to snatch the whole land from Igor’s sons and return it to Hungary. This he had done, and the king might have placed there as viceroy any boyar whom he liked, but to have Daniel thrust upon this party of magnates was unendurable. Volodislav had fulfilled his promise, and now he explained to Andrei that Galitch did not want a Russian prince; it wanted to be governed by boyars associated intimately with Hungary. This time Volodislav assured the king of a satisfactory agreement. Thus the solid union of Galitch with Hungary seemed imminent.

Andrei sent Volodislav forward with associates to bring all things to order, while he, with his main army, followed. He was on the Russian slope of the mountains when news overtook him of a terrible outburst in Hungary, not simply in the kingdom, but in his own palace.

Andrei had been forced to yield more than any preceding king, to do more toward lessening royal power and building up nobles. Gertrude, his queen, was ambitious. A German princess, she had filled Hungary with her relatives and with Germans in general. She had urged Andrei to cruelties, and in retaliation attacks upon Hungarians were increasing. The queen helped her relatives and countrymen to wealth and high places. She was fond also of aiding in love intrigues. Eckbert, her brother, became enamoured of the wife of Benedict Bor, the man known in Galitch as Antichrist. The queen permitted the lovers to meet in the palace, even in one of her own chambers. Though Bor was notorious for absence of morals, and was in the habit of seizing other men’s wives if they pleased him, he could not pardon the queen, when her love intrigues involved his own family. The king being absent, Bor joined with other avengers, and slew a great number of Germans. Queen Gertrude was cut into pieces, and the whole palace was plundered. This was the news brought to Andrei in the mountains.

He returned to his capital by forced marches, and quelled the savage outburst with great bloodshed.

Volodislav, sent in advance of the king to take possession of Galitch, acted like a man clothed in majesty. No matter how far-reaching were his powers, he increased them, since the king was not present.

When Andrei had put down the uprising and freed himself [177]somewhat in Hungary, he hurried off to make war on Leshko for his ravages in Galitch, which the king looked on as his own spoil and property. Leshko, besides guarding Vassilko, had taken on himself the care of Daniel. For the sake of these orphans, as he declared, he was ready to fight for Galitch as well as Volynia. Daniel, on seeing the terrible bloodshed in Hungary when Queen Gertrude was murdered, withdrew thence to Poland, where he got naught from Leshko but a reception with honor; later he went to Kamenyets, where his brother was living. There, still more than in Bailz, was Vassilko attended by the ancient adherents of Roman, his father. Daniel, who was of an age now to ride a horse splendidly, joined them, and Roman’s boyars rallied round the brothers with enthusiasm. Leshko could not hide his astonishment on seeing that after Bailz had been taken from Vassilko not one of those faithful adherents abandoned the orphans, and when a whole court gathered round them in Kamenyets, he was still more disquieted. “Thenceforward, Leshko felt great affection for Daniel.”

Volynia rose now against Volodislav. First Mystislav the Silent was put forward, then Bailski, Leshko’s father-in-law, sent his brother, Vsevolod, to attack the adventurer, and went himself later. Last of all Daniel acted. After that, Leshko with Poles and men of Volynia advanced against Volodislav. Volodislav left to his brothers the task of defending the capital, and with hired forces hurried forth to meet his opponents, but he was driven back and defeated. The victors could not take Galitch, however. They fought at its walls till exhausted, and then had to abandon the task. On the way home, Leshko induced Bailski, now Prince of Volynia, to give two towns near the capital to the orphans, who then moved thither from Kamenyets, and, being near the capital, ceased not to sigh for it. “It will come to us,” thought they. And it came earlier than they expected.

Not Leshko, but his voevoda, Pakoslav, keen at invention, found means to reconcile warring interests for the moment. Leshko had a young daughter and Andrei of Hungary had a son. Leshko sent Pakoslav to the king with this message: “Volodislav, a boyar, should not be on a throne. Take thou my Saloméya for thy Koloman, and let us install them in Galitch.” Pakoslav’s plan pleased Andrei. He had a meeting with Leshko, and they [178]arranged all the details of the marriage. The king, from the portion of Koloman, gave two cities to Pakoslav,—Peremysl and Lubetch.

Pakoslav now offered a second good counsel: “Let the prince, out of love for the orphans, give them Vladimir of Volynia.” Immediately Leshko sent this message to Bailski: “Give Vladimir to Vassilko and Daniel. If thou wilt not consent, I will take it.” Bailski would not yield, then Leshko constrained him, and installed Roman’s sons in Vladimir.

Volodislav, now a prisoner, was put in fetters and died in confinement. No prince would shelter his orphans, because their father had aspired to sovereignty.

The King and Queen of Galitch, though mere children, were crowned straightway. Andrei, seeing that the boyars were desirous of union with Hungary, and remembering their statement that the people would not oppose union, if their faith and its ceremonies were respected, now wrote to the Pope on the subject: “Let it be known to your Holiness that the princes of Galicia, and the people there under us, wish as king our son, Koloman, and promise union with the Most Holy Roman Church if they may keep their own ritual. Lest delay harm a thing so useful to us and to you, give a written command, we beg of you, to the Archbishop of Strigonia to anoint, at the earliest, our son, the King of Galitch.”

In the Russian chronicles it is written under the year 1214: “The Ugrian king seated his son in Galitch; he then drove out and hunted the clergy and bishops from the churches, and brought in his own Latin priesthood.”

Thus Galitch was lost for a time to Russian princes and the Orthodox clergy. In Chernigoff and Kief, people were not thinking of Galitch; they had their own troubles. Chermny and Rurik exchanged principalities, Chermny went to Kief and Rurik to Chernigoff. Thus the ancient home of Oleg and his descendants passed to a descendant of Monomach, and Chermny, the senior of Oleg’s descendants, not only took the old capital, but threatened to drive from Kief regions all the descendants of Monomach. He declared that through their fault a terrible crime had been committed. “Ye caused the death of my cousins in Galitch, and put a great shame on us. Ye have no part in Kief regions,” asserted he. Still after that Chermny turned to Big Nest with [179]a prayer for peace and friendship. He begged the metropolitan to bear this request to Vladimir. Peace was granted, and that winter Big Nest strengthened this peace by a marriage between his second son, Yuri, and the daughter of Chermny.

Toward the end of his life, the Prince of Vladimir had many disputes with Novgorod, which for years had been friendly. It was most important for Novgorod to be at peace with Vladimir, to trade with its broad regions, and receive grain, which in Novgorod was lacking at all times. Nothing harmed Novgorod more than a quarrel with Vladimir, whose prince could stop grain from reaching the city and surrounding country, and arrest Novgorod merchants wherever he found them in his own territory. But this was not sufficient to change the quarrelsome disposition of Novgorod, where factions fought with one another continually. When a posadnik displeased them, they beat him, or hurled the man from the bridge to the river. Big Nest did not interfere with their freedom. On the contrary he apparently commended it. “Love him who seems good to you, but execute bad men,” said he. And the Novgorod people carried out this instruction, even against their own adherents, the Miroshiniches, with whom they settled in real Novgorod fashion.

Miroshka was chosen posadnik in 1187 to please Big Nest. He was the son of Naizda, a man killed by them in the days of Andrei Bogolyubski, for adherence to Vladimir. When Miroshka died his descendants became famous people. Big Nest was unable for a long time to bring about the election, as posadnik, of Miroshka’s son, Dmitri. He could not do so till he sent his own son, Constantine, as prince to the city. The Novgorod men then cast out the old posadnik, and gave the office to Dmitri. This brought about a conflict with a great citizen of Novgorod, Oleksa Bogolyubski Sbyslavich, but he met his death very quickly.

During Constantine’s stay in Novgorod, 1205–1209, with Dmitri as posadnik, it might be said that Big Nest ruled Novgorod as pleased him. The execution of Oleksa is proof of this. All were astounded when Big Nest sent this command: “Execute Oleksa without trial!” That is, at the good judgment of Constantine. And though all men were roused, and said on the day after the execution that the Mother of God had dropped tears for Oleksa, the will of the prince was accomplished. After this Dmitri [180]became so strong in his office, and served the Grand Prince so zealously, that the four years of Constantine’s rule passed in harmony.

When Constantine was summoned by his father to the war in Ryazan, a large force from Novgorod marched with him under command of Dmitri, who was greatly distinguished at the taking of Pronsk. He was wounded severely and Big Nest detained him to be healed in Vladimir, but he died. After his death the people in Novgorod seized all his family property, plundered his house and the house of his father and burned them. They sold the country places of the son and the father, and also their servants; they took possession of their effects and divided them. The debts due the family were left to the prince. Still the people were not satisfied; they insisted on punishment, and when Dmitri’s body was brought from Vladimir, they wished to hurl it into the river. Mitrophan, the archbishop, was barely able to stop them. When Big Nest sent his son, Sviatoslav, to the city, the people kissed the cross in assembly not to admit any son of Dmitri to Novgorod, and they gave his family to the prince for imprisonment. But, though Sviatoslav received the sums due Dmitri, and through them got much wealth, he did not obey Novgorod in this affair. Some of the family he sent under guard to Vladimir; a few he permitted to stay unobserved in the city.

As this uprising was directed against all adherents of Big Nest, the Novgorod people did not escape punishment. Again he arrested Novgorod merchants and their goods throughout the lands of Vladimir. Great inconvenience was felt by Novgorod people, and Oleksa’s avengers spread complaints wherever they could against Big Nest, who, being then at the height of his power and influence, had no effective opponents. It seemed as though no man could refuse him obedience.

But at this juncture a prince of the smallest region in Russia, Mystislav of Toropets, son of Mystislav the Brave, had courage to challenge the greatness of Big Nest. On hearing how Novgorod was treated, he offered himself to the city, a thing unheard of till that day in Russia.

In the first years of this reign, during troubles in Novgorod, Mystislav the Brave had inflicted defeat upon Big Nest, and now, in 1210, a more unexpected rebuff was delivered by the son of [181]that same prince, Mystislav the Gallant, who had grown up and strengthened in this interval, and whose fame began with this challenge. Thus far this young prince had appeared only in small actions, in the quarrels of Rurik, his uncle, and in two or three raids on the Polovtsi, but on coming to Novgorod he began a brilliant career as a hero and defender of justice, a protector of the weak and offended, and he so towered above other princes that he soon had no equal. Later on, he reminded the world of his father, for he made a triumphant campaign against the Chuds, and brought them all to obedience from border to border of that country.

His appearance in Novgorod astonished every one by its daring, and was crowned with incredible victory. From his small, insignificant Toropets he came with a slender but chosen army. At Torjok he seized Sviatoslav’s boyars and took possession of their property; then he sent the following message to Novgorod: “I bow to Holy Sophia; to the grave of my father, and to all men of Novgorod. I have heard of the violence done by your princes, and I grieve for my inheritance. Do ye wish me to be prince in your city?” The Novgorod men were delighted and sent for him. Sviatoslav they confined in the bishop’s palace with all his attendants, to keep him till “Lord Novgorod” should settle with his father.

The Prince of Vladimir in anger sent against “The Gallant” a numerous army, with his three elder sons at the head of it. But immediately after he hesitated. He now, as on a time Dolgoruki, his father, had done, thought proper to say when he faced an untamable enemy: “I am old, he is young in all the passions of this world. It is not for me, near the end of existence, to be occupied with quarrels and bloodshed. I should be patient.” And he sent envoys to Mystislav with this message: “Thou art my son; I am thy father. Free Sviatoslav with his boyars, and return what thou hast taken. The merchants and their goods will be liberated.”

Mystislav did at once all that was asked of him, and Big Nest fulfilled his promise. Sviatoslav returned to his father, and Mystislav entered Novgorod, rejoicing that he had passed through great peril without bloodshed.

Big Nest was nearing the end of his earthly existence. He had continued the task undertaken by his father and his brother to [182]preserve and enlarge the principality of Vladimir. He had not worked for all Russia, though he had tried to hold a share in the Russia outside of Vladimir. During his rule, which was firm and at times even terrible, he not only preserved unimpaired, but extended and strengthened Vladimir. He established the beginning of a state in the North and fixed its central region. Earlier than Big Nest, not only in the time of his father, but also in that of Andrei, his brother, Rostoff and Suzdal were remembered as belonging to Novgorod. Men did not consider Vladimir or Moscow or any other place, as that Great Russia which they were to obey, and to which they must gravitate. Before Big Nest’s activity, Bailozersk and Galitch beyond the Volga, and other places, if not claimed by Novgorod altogether, were claimed at least partially. Now the Dvina country beyond the Volga had become so connected with Vladimir that all was reconstituted. That broad region looked on itself as Great Russia, and all men began to regard it in that light. Lord Novgorod itself was forced to count those lands as lost forever. Neither Rostoff nor Suzdal, from the time of Big Nest, dared to think of their earlier primacy, the memory of which became mingled with traditions of its ancient connection with Novgorod. After Big Nest there could be no talk of separation from Vladimir, for it became clear that not to Rostoff, or to Suzdal did that Great Russia gravitate, but to Vladimir.

As his father had left Rostoff and Suzdal to his younger sons and Vladimir to the eldest, so Big Nest, almost on the eve of his death, gave Vladimir to his eldest son, Constantine, and left Rostoff to Yuri his second son.

Constantine, who was in Rostoff at this time and enjoyed there great friendship among boyars, was angry that his favorite city was given not to him but to Yuri, and he would not abandon Rostoff for Vladimir at the command of Big Nest. This was not his first disobedience. His father had not forgotten the campaign of Ryazan, when Constantine spoke against him in the presence of others. Big Nest repeated the command. Constantine refused a second time, and sent a demand that Rostoff should be given with Vladimir. The Grand Prince was grieved and distressed at his son’s disobedience, and there was no measure to his anger. As a result that took place which up to this time had been unknown in Russia: Big Nest deprived his eldest son of [183]seniority, and gave it to his second son, Yuri. From all the districts and towns in Vladimir he summoned an assembly of priests, merchants, nobles, and people, with Yoan, the bishop, at the head of them, and in their presence gave the capital of Vladimir to Yuri, imposing on him seniority. He commanded Yuri’s brothers to obey him, and they kissed the cross to do so. Then the people kissed the cross to the Grand Prince, that they would obey Yuri. From this came endless contention in the family of Big Nest, who died shortly after. He expired at the age of fifty-eight, Sunday, April 15, 1212, at the hour when mass was ending in all the churches of Vladimir. They buried him near his brother Andrei in the golden-domed cathedral, the day following his death, as was the custom at that time.

After this began ceaseless troubles, not in Galitch, Kief, and Chernigoff, where there was never an end to trouble, but in Vladimir, where for thirty-seven years peace and quiet had flourished. Deprived of seniority, Constantine did not accept the decision of his father, but warred against Yuri and Yaroslav, who stood firmly together. Vladimir and Sviatoslav wavered, joining now one, now the other side. Vladimir, the youngest brother, wished Moscow as his part, but expelled from Moscow by Yuri, he obtained his father’s inheritance in the South,—Gorodok and Pereyaslavl. Yuri offered Constantine peace, and even Vladimir, but asked Rostoff for himself. Constantine would not yield; he would give Suzdal, and take Vladimir, only if Rostoff were given him also.

Yuri freed the Ryazan and Murom princes imprisoned by his father. Strengthened by them, he could war against his brother more successfully. Constantine, leaving for a time his attempt on Vladimir, continued hostile action in northern places. He seized Saligalsk, and burned Kostroma. The whole principality was in conflict from Vologda to Moscow. A second and a third year after the death of Big Nest this struggle continued.

Finally, Mystislav the Gallant, their now all-powerful neighbor in Novgorod, the main decider of wars and disputes in Russia at that time, interfered. He had made two campaigns against the Fins near the Baltic, and inflicted sharp punishment, but he was eager for weighty deeds and great actions, not on distant borders, but in Russia. His cousins, the grandsons of the “monk loving” [184]Rostislav, turned to him for succor, and protection. Chermny, now prince in Kief, was driving them from Dnieper regions. “The Kief prince will not give us a part in the Russian land,” complained they. “Come thou and help us.”

Mystislav summoned the assembly and bowed down before Novgorod, saying: “I am going to Kief to rescue my relatives. Will ye aid me?” “If thou go, we will follow,” was the answer. The men chosen set out under Tverdislav, but at Smolensk the Novgorod men had a quarrel and killed a Smolensk man; they refused thereupon to go farther, saying: “We promised to conduct the prince hither, but to Kief we will not go.”

Mystislav embraced the posadnik, kissed all the officers, then he bowed to the Novgorod men, bidding Godspeed to them, and moved forward with only his personal following and Smolensk warriors.

The Novgorod men were not pleased with themselves, and they halted. “Lord brothers,” said Tverdislav, “what ye decide will be done at all hazards. The question is ought we to abandon our prince at this juncture. In their day our fathers and grandfathers marched to suffer at Kief when their prince commanded. It is clear that we should act in the old way.” Pleased with this speech, they turned, and with hurried marches overtook Mystislav.

Chermny’s fate was decided at Vyshgorod. His allies were crushed, and he fled. Two of his cousins were captured. Ingvar of Volynia, who accompanied Mystislav, refused the Kief throne, and Roman, son of Mystislav of Smolensk, obtained it. Vladimir, son of Rurik, received Smolensk in addition to districts near Kief inherited from his father. So Chermny was unable to keep his promise to avenge Igor’s sons and expel all descendants of Monomach from Dnieper regions. Mystislav the Gallant now besieged Chermny in Chernigoff, and imposed peace on him. Chermny died soon after, leaving as heir his son Michael, who later on ruled in Kief and Novgorod. His name is still known and revered among Russians, not because he ruled, but because he died a martyr’s death among Mongols. [185]




Mystislav returned to Novgorod in triumph, but the mad rage of factions had not become weaker in the interval, and he was forced to take strong measures. Many boyars were banished, and many were imprisoned. Mitrophan, the archbishop famed for justice, who had received his office not against the will of Novgorod, but who was a friend of Big Nest, was not acceptable to Mystislav’s adherents. He was exiled to Toropet; more than that, he was imprisoned.

During Mystislav’s absence and after his return, Vladimir partisans were not idle. Mystislav learned that he could not rely on support in Novgorod. He learned also that there was even a movement to expel him. He was not the man to let any one show him the road, hence he called the assembly on a sudden, and took farewell of it. “I have work to do in Russia,” said he; “and ye are free as to princes.” All were astounded on hearing this, but Mystislav, while “standing on one foot in Novgorod, had the other in Galitch,” whither Leshko had called him most earnestly. Leshko had been summoned more than once to the throne in Cracow. After the crowning of Koloman, the small boy, and Salomeya, the little maiden, their fathers endured not long in friendship. What the king had given Leshko in Galitch, he withdrew very quickly. That happened which happens generally with guardians who have squandered property confided to them. The heirs demanded account touching management.

Roman’s sons were growing rapidly. Vassilko had reached an age when he could sit on a horse, and take part in campaigning, while Daniel was nearing strong manhood, and gave promise of having the powers that would make him as great as his father. He complained loudly of Leshko, the guardian who was keeping [186]possession of his towns on the Būg, and his inheritance beyond it. It was at this time that King Andrei took from Leshko what he had given him in Galitch. Seeing no profit in the fact that his daughter was queen in “Galicia,” Leshko looked on Hungarians with envy, since they treated Galitch as if it belonged to them, and he could not conceal his vexation on this point. He saw that of Russian princes there was only one who had genius in fighting; that one was Mystislav the Gallant, hence he invited that prince to assist him.

Mystislav, through relationship with Ingvar, was a natural ally of that branch, and not of the heirs of Roman. His preference for Ingvar was shown by offering him the Kief throne. When Mystislav drove Chermny from Kief and asked Ingvar to that capital, it seems that Leshko sent him letters, and when the victor went back to Novgorod Leshko sent envoys who offered him Galitch. When Sudislav, the boyar who favored Hungarians, heard of Mystislav’s coming, he preferred Daniel, and sent to him promising assistance. But Mystislav was too quick for this movement. As he approached Galitch, the Hungarians withdrew, and with them went Sudislav. Mystislav entered the capital without opposition, but, with all his good-will for Bailski, he was glad now to see Daniel, who joined him. Instead of ill-will there was friendship between the two princes, and Mystislav gave Anna, his daughter, to Daniel in marriage. Daniel, who was of the oldest line among Monomach’s descendants, was connected now with the Smolensk branch of this line, and with the younger line also, since Mystislav’s eldest daughter had married Yaroslav, son of Big Nest.

To all friends of Galitch Daniel’s marriage seemed of good omen, but to ill-wishers and enemies it was hateful. Daniel grew more and more hostile to Leshko, and more and more stubbornly demanded the return of the Brest lands. He complained to Mystislav of his enemy in the guise of a guardian. “Leshko,” said he, “has taken many towns of mine, and holds a good part of my inheritance. Assist me.” “My son,” replied Mystislav, “I cannot make war on him now, for he has shown friendship, but thou canst find other allies.”

Daniel acted. He won back many towns, and warred against Leshko successfully. Leshko doubted not that this winning was effected through Mystislav’s counsel, and in view of this he changed [187]his plans quickly. The Poles and Hungarians, from being enemies, suddenly became friends. Leshko sent a message to Hungary that he yielded Galitch gladly to Koloman, his son-in-law. With that Andrei immediately allied himself with Leshko, and declared war against Mystislav and Daniel. Leshko led in a strong army. A still greater force came from Hungary. Mystislav wished to attack in the rear, hence he moved toward Zbruch, and ordered his son-in-law to defend Galitch. He summoned Bailski, also, and commanded both allies to retire into Galitch and defend it. But Bailski left this difficult task to Daniel, who had to bear the whole brunt of the attack of Hungarian and Polish forces. He yielded no whit, however, and defended the city successfully.

The allies now raised the siege and turned all their strength against Mystislav, who was acting in their rear. Mystislav spared his scant forces, and, while withdrawing, commanded Daniel to march out of Galitch and join him. It was easy to give this command, but far from easy to obey it. Mystislav himself, by deft action, slipped away without loss, marching quickly to Kamenyets and thence to the Ros River.

Daniel found himself now in a perilous position. The allies with united strength, rushed at his army. It was difficult to withdraw from Galitch, and extremely difficult to retreat along the whole course of the Dniester, repelling the ceaseless attacks of keen enemies who disputed each step that his men made. These enemies were much encouraged by Mystislav’s withdrawal. Their forces were vastly greater, and Daniel’s men lacked provisions. Night and day marches, cold and hunger, fighting on horseback, riding without food and sleep for nights and days in succession; all this the young warrior had to live through in that murderous retreat down the Dniester. The glory of this march was shared by his father’s chief boyars, who were with him. Even they were astonished by the valor of their leader, still a stripling. They saw with wonder how he fought entire days without dismounting, how he rushed in pursuit of the enemy, who only saved themselves through the swiftness of their horses.

Daniel’s men suffered greatly from lack of food. It happened that on the festival of Saint Dmitri, when tortured with hunger, they saw on a sudden a long line of wagons hastening forward to market. They seized the wagons, ate abundantly, and thanked the [188]Holy Martyr for feeding them. When at last they reached that point in the Dniester where they had to cross, and found no bridge or ford, they despaired of escape; but all at once they saw many merchant boats sailing toward them from the Oleshya. On those boats all of Daniel’s men were conveyed to the opposite bank of the river, and given provisions.

When Daniel brought his weary troops to Podolia, Mystislav marveled at this deed of great skill and endurance. He showed every favor to the young hero, gave him his favorite, his very best horse, as a present. “Go now to Vladimir, the capital of thy Volynia,” said he, “and we will avenge this insult most surely.” And he gave assurance that he would go to the steppes and return with Polovtsi forces. From his youth, steppe life in tents had been pleasing to Mystislav. In those early days he found a wife among Polovtsi maidens.

Daniel, awaiting the time of fresh action, returned to his capital, but Mystislav did not go directly to the Polovtsi. He appeared soon after in Novgorod. During his absence many changes had taken place. The prince sent from Vladimir by Yuri had been replaced by one sent from Kief by Mystislav, son of the Smolensk prince, Roman. Neither man pleased “Lord Novgorod.” The first, alarmed at disorders, hastened home to his father; the second found still greater trouble. Bloody battles took place on the streets, and again a posadnik was murdered.

Novgorod turned to Yuri a second time. “If thy son will not stay with us, send Yaroslav, thy brother,” said they. Yaroslav seemed indeed just the prince needed in Novgorod, and the friends of Mystislav the Gallant might think to find in him the prince for whom they had been seeking a long time, for was he not intimate with Mystislav, being married to his eldest daughter? Partisans also saw in him the best of his family.

But when Yaroslav came to Novgorod an outburst so tremendous was taking place in the city, that no man had ever seen its like before. The passions of the people and the wild rage of parties had never been so violent. It turned out, too, that Yaroslav himself was of those called “young, but early.” Men were mistaken when they thought to find in him a son-in-law who would agree with Mystislav. He was a genuine Vladimir prince, hence in no way inclined to preserve the famed liberties of Novgorod. [189]He had one thought alone: to acquire additions for Vladimir. Mystislav’s adherents immediately conceived a deep hatred for Yaroslav, the most irascible among all the sons of Big Nest. So acute was their feeling that, while warming his palace, he was threatened with banishment. To make up for this hatred, his adherents “raised their heads and stood up for the prince like a mountain.” They advised him to go to Torjok and rule from there, holding Novgorod with all firmness.

Yaroslav went to Torjok, and then chose his own method. When a message was sent to him saying: “Come thou to Novgorod,” he seized the envoys and conveyed them to Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest, imprisoning them on an island. Novgorod now rose as one man against Yaroslav. Meanwhile, he sat in Torjok very quietly, laughed at the city, and gave command to seize Novgorod merchants and their wares on all roads in Vladimir. A multitude of Novgorod men were arrested and imprisoned. To add to the misfortunes of the city, the harvest that year was a failure in Novgorod regions. Yaroslav did not let one load of wheat reach the city. From these severe measures, there was such hunger that parents sold their children for bread, and unclean things were eaten. People died on the streets, and their dead bodies lay on the roads, where hungry dogs devoured them.

Novgorod sent envoys to Yaroslav, begging him to return to the city, but he gave no answer, and arrested the envoys. Novgorod sent a third time. “Come to thy place; come to Holy Sophia. If thou wilt not come, declare thy intention,” begged they. Yaroslav, as usual, detained the envoys. The men in confinement at this time numbered two thousand. There was “wailing and great sorrow in Novgorod.”

All at once, in the midst of these terrors, Mystislav the Gallant appeared in the city. No man there knew whence he came. Yaroslav, who learned of his coming, sent a detachment to arrest him, but this detachment surrendered to Mystislav. The first thing the gallant prince did was to seize all known partisans of Yaroslav, and put them in irons. Then, summoning the assembly and kissing the cross before the whole people, he said to them: “Either the men and the lands of Great Novgorod will be freed, or I will lay down my life for the city.” “In life or in death we are with thee!” called out the citizens in answer. [190]

Mystislav’s first move was to send a peaceful embassy to negotiate with Yaroslav. He selected a priest, the most famed and beloved in the city, as a sign that negotiations were to be carried on, not with threats, but with love, and conscientiously. He gave command to bow down to his son-in-law, saying: “My son, free the Novgorod merchants and men. Treat with me kindly. Leave Torjok for thy own place.”

Yaroslav dismissed the priest without discussion. Not only did he not free the prisoners, but those whom he held in Torjok he put in chains, and sent to Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest. Their property and goods he distributed among his attendants. The moment that news of this came to Novgorod, Mystislav commanded to sound the bell of the assembly. The whole city came to him. “Let us go, brothers!” said he. “Let us rescue our lands. Let us liberate our own people!”

The war from the very beginning assumed an unusual character. The citizens of Novgorod had a single mind this time, and the prince was at one with the people. To take vengeance for injustice was their war-cry. Mystislav was not simply enraged against his son-in-law; he hated in him that inborn pride of the Vladimir princes. Knowing well that this unendurable haughtiness rested really on power, knowing well that they had a great multitude of people behind them, and a very large army, the strong warrior looked forward, not to a brilliant victory in this unequal conflict, but rather to the crown of a martyr, and prepared for the struggle with fear, but also with fortitude. He summoned from Pskoff that brother of his whom Mystislav the Brave on his death-bed had committed to Yuri Zaharitch, the boyar. This brother, Vladimir, called to join him his cousin Vladimir, son of Rurik, he who had taken the throne of Smolensk, when Mystislav, son of Roman of Smolensk, went to rule Kief, the old capital.

Mystislav the Gallant worked untiringly. Novgorod assembled all possible warriors, but in number they were insufficient. Mystislav doubted not that Yaroslav and Yuri, Grand Prince of Vladimir, would act as one man, but he counted on Constantine, who in his eyes seemed another victim of Vladimir’s self-will and insolence. To Constantine, and not to Yuri, belonged the throne of Vladimir, by right of birth. To deprive a son of his God-given inheritance was a sin in Mystislav’s eyes, and he thought that when he entered [191]the Vladimir principality, proclaiming to Yaroslav and Yuri that he was there to reinstate their eldest brother, Constantine would assist him. To instate the senior son seemed to Mystislav just and proper.

Constantine enjoyed general respect; he was mild, and not haughty. To punish Yaroslav for his cruelty to Novgorod was identified in Mystislav’s mind with reëstablishing the old order, violated by the whim of Big Nest. The only fault found with the son, as Mystislav thought, was that he liked not innovations established by Andrei Bogolyubski—Constantine defended the ancient order. Hatred for Andrei was inherited by Mystislav, and he looked on Big Nest as he looked on Andrei.

When the gallant prince approached Torjok, Yaroslav withdrew, and his Novgorod friends in that place followed promptly. Vladimir partisans came to strengthen Yaroslav, who hurried now to join Yuri, and the brothers marched to meet the invader.

Mystislav’s campaign was swift and decisive beyond parallel. Begun the moment Yaroslav rejected peaceful offers with insult, the season was most inconvenient, just when roads were breaking up at Easter, which that year fell on April 10 Old Style. Still the campaign was ended before the roads had dried thoroughly.

On Tuesday, March 1, Mystislav moved out of Novgorod. He permitted his warriors to seize food, but forbade them most sternly to harm the inhabitants. He found Torjok abandoned. Fearing lest Constantine might join his brothers and attack in the rear, he was greatly relieved when that prince sent his vanguard as aid, and also the news that he was coming in person. Mystislav now moved forward rapidly to the depths of Vladimir. He marched through the enemy’s country, taking not only food and forage, but booty of all kinds. As they advanced, his men burned everything before them, and seized many captives. The Pskoff prince now met Constantine, “their third friend,” as Mystislav called him. He arrived on Holy Saturday. Constantine himself led the troops, and there was immense joy at his coming. The allies passed Easter together, and then pressed forward in Holy Week. The roads were so bad, and Mystislav was hastening on so eagerly, that he was obliged to leave his wagons behind.

On the Sunday after Easter, they beheld Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest, Yaroslav’s capital, but they learned that the prince [192]had gone, taking all his men with him. Yuri, determined not to let any enemy come near his capital, marched out to join Yaroslav, and met him near Yurieff, on the famed banks of the Koloksha, where a battle had been fought in the days of Yuri Dolgoruki. The place was better known, however, through two other battles, one fought somewhat more than a hundred years earlier, in Monomach’s day, when the first Mystislav, great-grandfather of Mystislav the Gallant, leading Novgorod regiments, crushed Oleg’s forces, and drove him to Ryazan. On this same field, fifty years later, Big Nest inflicted a dreadful defeat on the descendants of those same Ryazan men, and settled the fate of their prince.

Yuri and Yaroslav fixed their camp on that field, renowned through the deeds of their ancestors. They had not the least doubt of their own triumph and the inevitable ruin of their enemies, all the more as preponderance in numbers was immensely on their side. Yuri’s brothers were all under the banner of their Grand Prince, except Constantine. The forces of Murom had come, there were many Novgorod citizens, and all the Torjok men. The main force, however, was from the countless villages and towns of the Vladimir principality, excepting that part held by Constantine. In the number of its towns and in its military structure, Vladimir surpassed every other division of Russia. Besides local forces, or militia, there were irregulars, introduced by Yuri Dolgoruki. The nucleus of this force had been formed from steppe tribes, though much of its character had been changed by the gradual addition of local people. It had grown to large dimensions, and resembled greatly the later time Cossack force.

When Mystislav began the campaign and took Zubtsoff, he sent to Yaroslav, saying that he did not like to make war on Vladimir, that peace would be better. “I do not want peace,” replied Yuri; “to your one man we have a hundred.” “Thou hast power, but we have the cross,” answered Mystislav. A month had not passed after that, when the opponents stood face to face, waiting for battle. The battle came April 21, 1216, and from the place on the Lipetsk held by Constantine it was called the “Lipetsk battle,” and the victory which was won there was called by a name used only once in Russian chronicles,—“The monstrous victory.”

The Smolensk regiments of Vladimir, son of Rurik, and those led from Pskoff by Vladimir, as well as those brought by Constantine, [193]were all given to Mystislav. He, with his Novgorod men and his personal following, formed the soul of the action. He was chosen with one voice to lead the warriors. In his name negotiations were conducted. He sent to say to Yuri: “We bow to thee, brother. From thee there is no offense, and has not been at any time; the offense is from Yaroslav.” Yuri answered:

“Yaroslav and I are one. Ye have come to us; we shall see how ye leave us.” Mystislav now gave command to say to Yaroslav: “Free thou our Novgorod men, and withdraw from Torjok. Make peace with us, and let no blood be shed.” “The men whom I took,” answered Yaroslav, “I shall retain. The army has seized all their property; where could I find it at this day?” Then the allies met in council, and again sent proposals of peace to Yuri and Yaroslav, with the statement that this message was final: “Brothers, we have come not to spill blood, not for conflict, not for ruin, not to take your rightful possessions. God forbid. We are all of one stock and race. We have come to arrange matters in accord with God’s truth, and Russian justice. Give your eldest brother seniority. Seat him in Vladimir, and the Suzdal lands may belong to you.” Yuri sent answer: “Though our father could not make terms with Constantine, ye think to make him agree with us! Go to the places whence ye came. We do not wish peace with you; we do not need it.” Both brothers commanded to say specially to Constantine, that they considered all discussion ended, and were ready for battle.

Yuri and Yaroslav had such power that they were confident of success, and made a feast in their tents where joy was loud and unbounded. They drank and were gladsome. They boasted that a battle would show on whose side was justice. “They have come,” said Yuri, “but how will they leave us?” The feast ended by sending a message to Mystislav, stating that they were marching to Lipetsk and would receive battle, if there were forces to meet them. That same day, Mystislav assembled a council and accepted the challenge to meet for a life and death struggle, and all kissed the cross to obey him.

The allies feared Constantine’s weakness, remembering that he had not come very promptly, that he had delayed at the outset, and might even now join his brothers. But Constantine gave the oath asked of him, and was first on the battle-field. In his regiments [194]trumpet calls did not cease all that night, which was passed in alarm and preparations for battle. In the morning, however, it was seen that the princes who had challenged had evaded. Instead of being at the spot agreed upon for action Yuri and Yaroslav had moved in the night to another position. They had selected a place with a deep gully stretching in front of it, while near by was “Widow Hill.” They had strengthened this camp with palisades, and their wagons. Mystislav and his allies occupied a height close to Yurieff. Constantine disposed his men toward Lipetsk. To get at the enemy now, Mystislav would have to cross the gully.

Yuri and Yaroslav, feeling safe at Widow Hill, did not think of fighting, no matter how Mystislav challenged. To reach the hill through the gully was impossible. So Mystislav sent three men to parley, and again proposed peace as an end to the quarrel. “If ye will not make peace, then come to the field, we will meet you; or if ye choose we will go to Lipetsk and ye can attack us.” “We will not give peace, and we will not abandon our position,” replied the two brothers. “Ye have crossed our whole land; can ye not cross this small gully?”

Mystislav commanded his men then to advance at all hazards. But no matter how he approached Widow Hill, he could not entice the two brothers to leave it. He then decided to march on Vladimir directly, and seize the town if possible. He commanded to raise the camp quickly. At once Yurieff Mountain was seething, and soon the army marched down, and moved off on the road to the capital. The Pskoff prince now joined the main body. But Constantine delayed yet at Lipetsk, where doubt and dissension seemed evident. He feared “the desperate move,” as he called it. He said that his men were simple villagers, unaccustomed to battle; he feared that they might disperse on the march. It was better, he thought, to remain on Yurieff Mountain. Mystislav answered with passion: “The mountain will give neither victory nor defeat! In the cross and in truth lies our triumph.” Aided by his brother and cousin he at last convinced Constantine that it was necessary to march on Vladimir, and he commanded his forces to advance.

As soon as the regiments were moving on the road toward Vladimir, and before all had reached the road, a stir at Widow Hill was observed, and directly the army of the two brothers left its position. Both armies turned now toward the same side. [195]There was an encounter at Lipetsk. Mystislav halted and the men of Smolensk and of Novgorod faced the enemy. They stood without moving: Constantine was at Lipetsk on one flank, Mystislav with Novgorod warriors held the center; on the other flank was Vladimir, son of Rurik, with Smolensk men. Between him and the center was Mystislav’s brother with Pskoff troops. The whole force of the enemy moved against them directly. Yuri and Yaroslav were confident and smiling. Yuri’s warriors rushed straight at the Novgorod regiments, to whom Mystislav had said already: “Brothers, we have come to the heart of our enemy’s country, and that enemy is powerful. If we flee, not a man of us will escape. Look not back in this battle. Forget homes, wives and children. Fight to the death. He who is not killed will be living. Hit hard! God is in truth, not in numbers. Forward like men! Hit hard! Forward on foot or on horseback, but forward!”

The Novgorod men remembered the fight of their great-grandfathers when they were led by the great-grandfather of Mystislav, and the blood rose in them. “We will not fight on horseback,” said they. Steam was rolling now from the oncoming enemy. The Novgorod men threw off their boots and upper clothing and rushed to the fight with axes and clubs, vying with the men of Smolensk in their valor. Each man was bound to surpass every other, and no crowd of men would stay behind any other crowd.

The first standard cut down was a standard of Yaroslav; the second that fell was his standard also. The battle became very soon a great slaughter. The Pskoff prince stood at the side of his brother, and both watched the battle before them. All at once, Mystislav said to Vladimir: “May God not permit us to abandon good men,” and he rushed to the combat. Through the whole mass of his warriors did he ride, encouraging them, saying that the moment for victory had come. He made his way through all the ranks to the front, took from his shoulders the cord securing his battle-ax and swinging the ax plunged, at the head of the warriors, into the thick of the fight. Men saw how he hewed to the right and to the left. His warriors followed him with desperate venom. In a short time the field was a scene of unpitying slaughter. Three times did Mystislav go back and forth through the ranks of Vladimir, cutting down men right and left with his terrible broadax. [196]The Smolensk prince and he of Pskoff broke through the ranks before them till they reached the camp in the rear, now abandoned by Yaroslav and Yuri.

Those princes, who had boasted of having a hundred warriors to one of Mystislav’s, now found that for each one of Mystislav’s men killed or wounded, ten or even more than that number had fallen on their own side. The groans of the wounded and the dying reached Yurieff from the battle-field, as the people said afterward; and of corpses on that field they counted nine thousand, not reckoning those borne away earlier.

Then the defeated fled, and all their camp fell to the victors. Mystislav forbade his men to touch anything. “Leave the camp,” said he, “and finish the battle, or they will turn back and defeat you.” The Smolensk men could not refrain from plundering, but the Novgorod warriors obeyed and rushed in pursuit of the enemy. Constantine was the first man to stop fighting; when the tide turned to his side he fought no longer. He pitied his brothers and did them no subsequent injury. Their army was terribly defeated; whole regiments had been destroyed.

Both Yuri and Yaroslav fled without looking behind them, the first to Vladimir, the second toward Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest. Yuri raced into Vladimir on the fourth horse; he had ridden to death the other three. He had thrown away on the road all his upper clothing, and even his saddle cloth. Yaroslav fled still more fiercely. He rode four horses till they fell, and reached home on the fifth. The wounded and maimed flowed into Yurieff and into every village around it. Many men were drowned in crossing rivers, others died on the road. Every man cursed Yaroslav as the one cause of evil; on him alone did they fix all the error.

When in Vladimir people saw from the walls a horseman rushing toward the city, they thought him a courier with glad tidings from their prince, but when he came nearer they recognized Prince Yuri himself, in shirt and trousers. “Strengthen the town! Strengthen the town!” shouted he, from a distance. Instead of joy, there was wailing. During all that night broken remnants of the army were coming in; some of the warriors almost dead, others wounded. If the victors had chosen to follow, neither Yuri nor Yaroslav, nor any other man, could have escaped them. They might have taken the city without resistance. But they remained [197]all the following day on the battle-field, and drew near Vladimir only in the morning on Sunday.

By agreement with Yuri, the citizens had closed the gates. When he had drawn breath and recovered his mind, he said to the people: “Let us keep the gates shut, brothers; perhaps we can stand a siege.” “With whom can we stand it?” asked they. “Where are our brothers? Some are killed, some are captives, others have rushed in here naked and wounded. There is no one to work with us.” “That is true,” answered Yuri, “but yield me not to Constantine, my brother, or to Vladimir or Mystislav. I wish of my own will to meet them.” They promised what he asked.

The allies, seeing the city closed, as if for a siege, surrounded it. During the night between Sunday and Monday a fire broke out in the palace, and there was great uproar. The Novgorod men wished to attack, and were climbing the walls, when Mystislav stopped them. The fire was extinguished quickly, but a new fire burst out on Tuesday, two hours after sunset, and burned until daybreak. The Smolensk men rushed to mount the walls then, but were again forbidden. Yuri now sent a petition, saying, “Do not press me; I will come out to meet you to-morrow.”

On Wednesday he went to the enemy, taking with him his two younger brothers, Vladimir and Sviatoslav. He bowed down to the victors, and said: “Brothers, I bow down to you, do not deprive me of life, and let that be with Constantine which pleases you.”

Constantine was made Grand Prince, and all was arranged to receive him with triumph. To Yuri was assigned a small town near the Volga, whither he was to set out immediately. His wife and attendants went at once to the boats which had been prepared for the journey. People were greatly moved by the conduct of Simon, the bishop, who would not part with Yuri. He had shared the sorrows and joys of the prince all his life, and now he sailed down the Klyazma with him and his family. Before leaving for exile, Yuri took farewell of his parents. He bowed down and prayed at the grave of Big Nest, his father, and said, while weeping: “God is the judge of my brother. Behold to what Yaroslav has brought me.” Afterwards he left in humility, no one appearing to note his departure. He went to the small town assigned him, to his “little town;” thus did he call the place of his exile without naming it. [198]

As for Yaroslav, he was not tamed by defeat and suffering. The second week after Easter the allies went to Pereyaslavl. Constantine appeared first. Yaroslav went forth, with great gifts, to meet him, and opened the gates, begging his brothers not to surrender him to Mystislav. Constantine, wishing to reconcile the two men, sent gifts to Mystislav from his brother, whose part he took most earnestly. Mystislav would not yield, but demanded his daughter, Yaroslav’s wife, and took her with him. Afterward Yaroslav tried to recover the princess, but Mystislav paid no heed to his demands. Thus the quarrel between the sons of Big Nest ended in Constantine’s triumph. He was installed in Vladimir immediately, while Yuri and Yaroslav were effaced for the moment.

A misfortune met Mystislav now: Vassili, his only son, died in Torjok, and was buried in Holy Sophia, near the tomb of his grandfather. Soon after this, Mystislav the Gallant left Novgorod. He promised to return, but this time, as appeared in the sequel, he parted with the city forever. As was usual before meetings, he had the Sophia bell sounded, and the people assembled thinking that they had been summoned for Novgorod business. But Mystislav bowed on three sides to all present, and took farewell of them solemnly. They could not credit his words: they had thought that he would remain in their city till his death. He declared then the cause of his going: “I wish to save Galitch.” They implored him to stay with them, and all cried out that they would not let him leave Novgorod. “I shall never forget you,” said Mystislav. “God grant me to lie down here at last near my father in Holy Sophia, but to-day I must go from you.” And he left them.

Indeed it was time to remember the promise given Daniel, and avenge the shame wrought on them both by the Poles and Hungarians. If, when Roman was forced to leave Galitch, the Latin Church made Galicia a bishopric, it is easy to imagine what happened under Koloman and Salomeye. When this youthful king and queen had been crowned in obedience to Rome, the Latin Church triumphed directly. Latin priests were installed, while the Bishop of Galitch and Orthodox priests were expelled from their churches on all sides. Mystislav now assembled Russian princes and roused them to this Galitch question. Mystislav, [199]the Kief prince, having lost the favor of Mystislav the Gallant, was unable to help him, but his other cousin, Vladimir of Smolensk, promised aid very willingly.

Mystislav then went to Khan Kotyan, his father-in-law, and obtained warriors from him. Daniel, son of Roman, was delighted to help in freeing Galitch.

But if Russian princes were preparing to fight for their Galitch inheritance, the men who had seized that inheritance were preparing to keep it. To Koloman came reinforcements from his father. Leshko, dividing his army into two parts, sent one to defend his young daughter in Galitch; the other he led to threaten Volynia. Depending on those princes in Galitch who did whatever he asked of them, Leshko and Bailski, his ally, threatened with these henchmen other princes, known allies of Mystislav. Bailski looked on Daniel as Mystislav’s main ally.

Daniel and his brother would have moved at once to help Mystislav, since they were threatened earliest, but their possessions, both on the Polish and Russian side, were attacked by swift enemies. They were met at every point by evil neighbors, “all men were against them,” as the chronicler informs us. “Save from God they had no aid from any one.”

Mystislav waited for the Polovtsi; when they came he began action. His faithful friend and ally, Prince Vladimir, brought with him the promised warriors of Smolensk, and he and Mystislav then moved against Galitch. But Daniel did not go with them. They received no word from him, for he was greatly occupied elsewhere. Daniel would have been troubled to count the toils and battles which he passed through at that time. With whom and where had he not struggled? In recent days his conflicts with Poles had increased. They roused the Yatvyags against him and against those Lithuanians who were under him. Daniel, defending these men, warred frequently in forests and wild regions belonging to their enemy. He met the Poles themselves among his Lithuanian subjects, whom the Polish princes tried to take from him through interference and intrigues. The Poles also attacked Daniel on the Būg, where he was forced to meet them, and through Bailz and Lutsk he met continual raids from Russian princes.

Only after Mystislav had come and triumphed, could Daniel [200]breathe with some little freedom, but till Mystislav appeared the first blows of Poles, and also of Hungarians, fell directly on him. Beginning with Benedict Bor, the famous harrier of people, Hungarian magnates were frequent visitors in Galitch. Ruling in the king’s name, they differed little from that renowned Bor known as “Antichrist.”

In the time now before us, the chief man near Koloman was Filni, a magnate whom the Russians nicknamed “Filya.” Hungarian magnates in those days were famous for haughtiness, but Filya surpassed all Hungarians in this regard. Moreover, to this nickname was added another; he was called “Filya the Important.” Of him people said, and this was stamped on his countenance, that he thought his equal was not on the earth, that he could embrace the whole world, and drink the whole sea up. It was known also that though his pride was unbounded, his mind was quite limited. When on a time Filya was warned before battle that his enemies were many and his strength insufficient, though as a rule he avoided battle, he repeated, when moving his warriors: “A stone is but one; still it breaks many pots just by moving.”

Koloman and Salomeya reigned in Galitch, but all things were managed through Filya, whose aids were traitorous boyars, of whom the chief man was Sudislav. These boyars wished to merge Galitch in Hungary, and were hated by common folk. “Sudislav the traitor, the disturber of the country,” were the only words used to describe this man.

When news came that Mystislav the Gallant was marching, Filya and Sudislav made preparations to defend the city. Filya placed himself at the head of Hungarian and Polish forces, and put Sudislav in command of the Galitch men. He did not dream, in his confidence, that the enemy could come near the capital, still he took measures to meet a siege seriously. To show that in the building of fortresses he was not inferior to the celebrities of that day, he strove in every way to make Galitch impregnable. In doing this he roused the indignation of the Orthodox. He seized the cathedral, made it a fortress, and added a tower to it.

The excitement of the adherents of Hungary and Poland was extraordinary. Sudislav and his friends, in their rage at the man who was moving Russian regiments against them, declared that [201]Mystislav wanted to deliver all boyars to the Polovtsi, and settle the steppes with them. Their hatred for Mystislav was boundless, and, through the efforts of Poles, Hungarians, and their partisans among Russians, a venomous opposition was raised against him. He had marched half-way from the Dnieper to the upper waters of the Dniester and the San, when blood commenced to flow in Būg regions. At the opening of the war, Leshko promised Filya to protect the rear of the Polish and Hungarian troops, which, combined, seemed able to hurl aside Mystislav; and after that Filya was to finish him. Leshko had undertaken besides to hold down Volynia, and not let it move to assist Mystislav.

Leshko entered Volynia territory and seized towns and cities. Daniel and Vassilko had work in plenty near their own capital. Konrad, more honest than Leshko, his brother, tried in vain to make him friendly to Daniel, and hostilities in Volynia continued. If they were not of greater violence, and even fatal to Daniel, it was because Mystislav’s campaign was ended with one blow, and so quickly that neither Filya nor Leshko could foresee such a result. The Hungarian magnate had been deceived in the strength of his enemy, and only came to his mind when Mystislav was near Galitch. Then he and Sudislav hastened to lead forward their forces, and block the road to the gallant prince.

The place of meeting was a broad, rolling country, from the highest points of which all other high places were visible. On lower slopes, and in depressions between one round-topped high place and another, a commander might hide a whole army. Filya drew up his warriors and disposed them in two camps apart from each other. It seemed to him that no man could stand against this force. The Poles and Sudislav’s regiments from Galitch were placed by themselves in one body. One of these forces was to meet the oncoming enemy on his right, the other on his left flank.

Mystislav, leaving in one of those deep depressions just mentioned his Polovtsi legions, moved forward against Filya. From a distance he saw that the Poles were too far to one side for their profit, hence he commanded Vladimir, his ally, to entice them away with his warriors, who were eager for battle, and while struggling with them to retreat toward the Polovtsi.

The Poles met Vladimir’s men bravely, forced them back toward the ambush, and followed. Mystislav marched with chosen regiments [202]and his personal following to the high place beyond which was Filya’s position. Relying on the valor of his ally, whom he had tried against Yuri and Yaroslav, and on the great number of the Polovtsi who were placed in ambush, he seemed to abandon Vladimir and his men. The Poles followed the retreating Smolensk men toward the place where the Polovtsi were waiting, as Mystislav could see clearly. Right in front of Mystislav stood Filya. It was imprudent now to delay longer. Strengthening his army with the name of the holy cross, he rushed at the enemy. The battle was grievous, but Mystislav triumphed. The Hungarians were crushed, and Filya was captured.

When the Poles had driven Vladimir as far as they wished, and had seized many prisoners and much booty, they returned shouting victory. Not suspecting that Filya had been terribly beaten, they marched back rejoicing, but, instead of finding Filya in possession of the battle-field, they came upon Mystislav’s warriors, who rushed at them savagely. Meanwhile Vladimir had turned, and with him came the Polovtsi. A great slaughter set in. The Polovtsi took captive all the Poles who were not slain, taking from them their arms and horses. But Mystislav’s men touched no booty. Following the enemy, as they scattered in every direction, they slew without mercy. The whole field was covered with bodies, and the streams which ran through it were crimsoned with blood.

Mystislav stood before Galitch immediately, and demanded surrender, promising immunity to all. Filya, in spite of his impregnable fortress, sent a courier advising surrender. Since he himself had been beaten, he despaired of success through another. Mystislav repeated his summons three times, but with Koloman were leaders who would not surrender; they relied on the stronghold, and swore to endure to the end with their sovereign. Sending out all who could not fight, so that there should be no useless mouths in the city, they made ready for the siege.

Mystislav declared that from that hour there would be no mercy shown to any man, and he prepared to take Galitch by storm. The Hungarians were confident, and strengthened the gates of the city. That Mystislav was digging a tunnel under their stronghold they knew not, and that it was finished they only discovered one gloomy night when his warriors rose through the earth and cut down the guards at the gate, which they opened then to their comrades. [203]

At daybreak, Mystislav with his army was in Galitch. The leading Hungarians shut themselves up in the church, which Mystislav surrounded. They were unyielding; they threw stones and shot arrows, but at last they were captured. The magnates and their families, for whom immense ransoms were expected, and some of the higher Poles, were divided among the victors. Koloman, his queen, and Filya went to Mystislav. Sudislav, the artful, fell at Mystislav’s feet, embraced his knees, wept, and swore that while living he would serve him most faithfully. Mystislav, knowing little of Galitch, and seeing the position which Sudislav held among boyars, not only left life to that traitor, but gave a good town to him.

The people magnified Mystislav now as the deliverer of Galitch; they called him the shining sun, the bright falcon. Their delight at being freed from foreign men seemed unbounded and heartfelt. When news came to Leshko of Filya’s defeat, he immediately made peace with Daniel, and feigned immense love for him. Daniel wished now to see Mystislav, his father-in-law, so he hurried off quickly to Galitch. The delight of those two men was great. Not only were they avenged on Poles and Hungarians, but those enemies had been paid back a hundredfold, and were eliminated as rulers from Galitch. The Orthodox people said that God had given those two nations into their hands to punish the enemy for defiling His temple, which had been turned by them into a bastion of battle. The people did not forgive this “great sacrilege,” as they called it.

Thus Hungarians and Poles perished in a land which they had planned to take from its owners. Many were killed in battle, others were taken prisoners, still others perished on the roads and in lonely villages. They died of hunger in forests, or were drowned in crossing rivers. People rose up and slew the invaders wherever they found them. Few escaped.

On losing his son, Vassili, Mystislav had no heir left. His youngest daughter was in tender years yet, his eldest daughter had married the son of Big Nest, Yaroslav, whom he held in his power; his second daughter, Anna, was the wife of Daniel, who, as heir to the great Roman, would have seemed the direct heir of Galitch. The people thought that land would surely go now to Daniel, but deceit and intrigue disappointed them. Not only in [204]Galitch but in Volynia there were falsehoods, conspiracies, and endless struggles. Mystislav’s victory changed the form, not the substance of the misery. Men now persuaded the prince to take Galitch himself, and Daniel was set aside promptly. At the prayers of Koloman’s father, peace was concluded, and reports were sent out that Mystislav was to give his youngest daughter in marriage to King Andrei’s second son.

Meanwhile in Volynia Bailski made war against Daniel. Daniel defeated his enemy, and was ready to give the last blow to him, when Mystislav commanded his son-in-law to withdraw and not trouble Bailski in future. Andrei and Leshko from having been enemies of Mystislav became his friends in appearance, but their friendship was more deadly to Russia than their enmity had ever been. Supported by Leshko and Mystislav, Bailski acquired so much influence that Roman’s sons lost all the power they had won. Bailski made use of the open and unbounded confidence of Mystislav, who was a great man in battle, but short-sighted and incompetent as a ruler, and strove to persuade him to a direct war against Daniel. In this he was aided considerably by Leshko, and though they failed at first, they succeeded later on. So neither Volynia nor Galitch gained anything from Mystislav’s victory.

Forgetting for the moment all care touching Galitch, Daniel established himself firmly in his own place, which, notwithstanding the woes of that period, he served very sensibly. He took from Leshko the border lands that the Poles had attached to Mazovia. Though the profit of this winning did not seem much at the time, it proved very great in the sequel.

Brest was at first a border settlement of Russia, beyond which were the Yatvyags and the Lithuanians. In ruling those regions, the Russians did not quarrel with their Lithuanian neighbors. The Lithuanians had long been protected by Russian princes, to whom they paid a small tribute. The Poles, after seizing the country, acted differently and harshly with these people. When Daniel restored the places to Russia, the whole country breathed much more freely. All the elders, or, as the Russians called them, princes, sent solemn declarations of peace to Daniel, and thereafter he found in them faithful allies against Leshko. Those tribes had many relatives, both in the Baltic country and in Poland, who would help them when proper agreements were made. They [205]now aided Daniel against his Polish opponents, and with their assistance he carried on further struggles with Leshko. At this time there was a special movement among Lithuanian tribes, which till then had been quiescent.

When Mystislav the Gallant went to the South and did not return, the North ceased to think of him. There were no lasting results from his victories and exploits, either in Novgorod or Vladimir. Constantine, son of Big Nest, who had never been stalwart of body, died in 1217, shortly after he had taken the throne of Vladimir. He had made a friend of Yuri, his brother, and, when dying, committed his children to Yuri, who after Constantine’s death was again ruling prince in Vladimir. Yaroslav, while Prince of Pereyaslavl, continued to occupy Novgorod at intervals. He held Turjok as though it had been a part of Vladimir, and no matter what prince was acting in Novgorod, Yaroslav’s hand never ceased to be felt there. The Novgorod men could not live without Yaroslav, or be content with him. At this time, to round out their troubles, their way to the sea was cut off by German knights, the Chuds (Fins), and Lithuanians, against whom they warred frequently. Yaroslav, in fighting with these enemies of Novgorod, went far into the country. He marched to places where no Russian prince had ever preceded him. [206]




To understand the difficulties of the situation in the north Baltic region, it will be necessary to describe it somewhat in detail. In the tenth century the Russian coast on the Baltic belonged to the Polotsk principality, to Pskoff and to Novgorod. The western part, that which had the Dvina River for its artery, belonged to the Polotsk princes; north and east of that were the Pskoff possessions, and last of all those of Novgorod.

The Polotsk coast was inhabited by tribes known collectively as Kors and Livs. Later on, their territory was called by the Germans Korland and Livland. The part belonging to Pskoff was occupied by Chud, or Fin tribes. The Russians gave no collective name to these regions, but called each group by its own name; a good proof that they were left in great part to themselves.

Though all those tribes paid tribute to Pskoff, Polotsk or Novgorod, they were not disturbed in their mode of living. During almost a century and a half the Russian princes built no forts or strongholds in that country. From Polotsk to the sea there were but few places. Gersiké and Kuikenos were the capitals of those lands which belonged to Polotsk. At the beginning of the eleventh century, the Polotsk region was ruled by Prince Vsevolod, whose wife was a Lithuanian. In Kuikenos was Prince Vyacheslav. The country was left mainly to the care of its inhabitants. They paid tribute and kept landing-places and portages. After the manner of primitive people, they had many disputes among themselves, but in those disputes the Russian princes meddled little; their main interest was to receive tribute, and have an open road to the sea. Christianity was spreading gradually, though no great effort was made to change the primitive religion.

At the beginning of the twelfth century, Bremen merchants [207]visited the Baltic coast of Russia and established small landing-places and villages. One of these was called Dalen, another Holm, a third Ikskul. The latter was on the Dvina about twenty-five miles from its mouth, and was simply the native village of Ikeskola; here the Germans built a small fort with a warehouse. They knew well that this coast belonged to Russia, and was a part of the Polotsk principality, and their thought was how to get possession of it.

To Vladimir, Prince of Polotsk, came one day a man of God, an old monk, Meinhardt by name. He had, he said, devoted all his life to God, and, being in the Polotsk country, wished to work for God there. He thought it his duty to bow down before Vladimir, who held all that region of the Dvina, and to beg permission to preach the word of God among the pagan tribes of the Baltic coast. Vladimir received him kindly and gave the desired permission.

Ten years passed. Suddenly it was announced throughout the Polotsk principality that the Kors and Livs were attacking the Germans. In the course of those ten years wonderful things had happened. When the monk Meinhardt went from Prince Vladimir to Ikeskola with a greeting from the prince, the people listened to his words willingly; he was himself astonished at the success of his preaching. His flock increased rapidly. People came from far and near to be baptized; they came by families and then by whole villages. He built a church in Ikeskola and one also in Holm.

But, strangely enough, this monk knew how to build fortresses. Besides being a spiritual leader, he was a warrior of much skill. During his first winter in the country, 1186–1187, Ikeskola was attacked by a neighboring tribe. Meinhardt armed his spiritual children with clubs and axes, and set out against the enemy. He made an ambush and gained a great victory. After that, conversion went on still more rapidly. The monk meanwhile persuaded the people to build a stone fortress. He brought in German masons and mechanics, and the following summer he built two large castles with towers, in fact regular fortresses, at Ikeskola and Holm.

Besides merchants and mechanics, warriors began to appear in the country, and Meinhardt invited in Latin monks to assist [208]him in his spiritual labors. He sent one of these monks, Dietrich, to convert people in the neighborhood of Aa River. This man was acquainted with medicinal plants and could heal the sick; but he was greatly disliked. The people were suspicious of him. Finally he was seized and condemned to be burned alive, but his life was spared through soothsaying. Before burning him, the people placed a spear on the ground and led a horse up to it; the horse crossed it with the “foot of life.” The people would not believe, they demanded a second trial; the result was the same. They freed the monk, and thereafter Meinhardt kept him near his person,—not as a preacher, but as an adviser.

Of the most important elders of his church, Meinhardt formed a body-guard. Among those men he chose certain ones who were to act as spies and inform him of every secret. These he distinguished above others, and rewarded. He sent them to persuade the people, and by degrees the most stubborn yielded.

Meanwhile German commerce flourished. From Holm, or Kirchholm, as Meinhardt called the place after his church was built, and Ikeskola new villages were founded. Taking the name of the Livs, the whole country was now called by the Latinized term Livonia, and the churches were mentioned as “the Church of Livonia.” It might seem that this work was one that could never be undone. But all at once there was a tempest—a wild revolt throughout the whole country. A thing unheard of, a spectacle unique in Christianity was presented to the eyes of the “Apostle of Livonia,” as disciples called Meinhardt, when those same people who had received baptism from him sprang into the Dvina, washed themselves clean of his apostolic touch, dived in the water “to purify their persons.” “Behold!” shouted they to him. “We have cleansed ourselves from German baptism.” And looking at the waves of the river rushing toward the sea, they added: “Be off from us, far away. Go to the place whence thou hast come.” In this manner the whole country gave back its baptism to the German monk.

Meinhardt began to threaten. He would sail away; he would find a legion of defenders of Christ and bring them back on countless ships. Then they would see how God punished apostates, they would see the awful power of Christ’s vicar on earth, by whom he, Meinhardt, had been deputed. This threat alarmed the people; [209]they became tearful and begged him not to leave them. Instead of going himself, he sent Dietrich.

Why did the people rise? “Because they differed little from beasts, were wild and rude. There had been great religious excitement, and this uprising was simply a reaction.” This is the explanation of certain historians, but a further statement should be added: The monk had begun to enforce obedience to the Archbishop of Bremen, and to demand tithes for “the church.” The “Apostle of Livonia” was a faithful servant of the Archbishop of Bremen. He was made Bishop of Livonia in subjection to Bremen in 1188, and died in 1196.

The monk Berthold, an abbot of the Cistercian Order, appointed to fill Meinhardt’s place, heard that the people were considering whether to burn him in the church or drown him in the river. He shut himself up in Kirchholm, but he had warriors clad in steel from head to foot, with heavy swords at their sides, and sitting on mighty horses, such as the people had never seen till that day. These were the “Knights.” People sent to ask why this man of God had brought those warriors into the country. “To punish apostates,” was the answer.

The bishop now prepared for a serious uprising. He left Holm and encamped at the mouth of the river Rigje. People began to gather from far and near, crowds of half-naked men, armed with sharp sticks, clubs and axes. The more they increased, crowd after crowd, the more they gathered courage. The knights let the natives assemble in the greatest possible number—they did not hasten to begin the battle, but when at last they did rush forward, they had not long to struggle for victory. It was impossible to stop the onrush of the conquerors. The bishop, Berthold, in pursuing the people, was carried away by excitement. He lost control of his spirited horse and became separated from his men. The Livs immediately surrounded him, and chopped him into small bits.

The triumph on the German side was complete, and they made a terrible use of it. It might be said that the warriors of the cross became executioners. The people begged for mercy, and promised to submit to baptism again, and to receive into the villages the priests who had been driven out. But in vain did they plead. All were sentenced to death. Separate divisions of knights passed [210]through the country, and in every village dealt out dreadful punishment to “apostates.”

The youthful Livonian church was thus reëstablished. Then the Western crusaders, considering their holy work finished, and their sins absolved, reëmbarked and sailed away home. But all at once, and most unexpectedly, there was a new outburst of rage and indignation through the whole country. The natives rushed at the “vile strangers,” killing or beating them, and looting their homes. They intended to act in like manner with all foreigners, but the merchants gave them great presents, and bought their good-will. Those who had been re-baptized sprang a second time into the river, and a second time washed themselves clean of the German religion.

When this news reached Bremen and Rome, they decided to delay no longer, but acquire Livonia in permanence. To do this they needed a military brotherhood warring for Christ.

The Germans appeared now in a triple character: as a military order to strike down opposition; as merchants to extend trade; as a church to bring all to the faith. As their leader stood forth Albert von Apeldern Bukshevden, and to aid in subjecting Livonia the Pope gave him permission to found a new knightly order, the members of which would spend their lives in extending the Livonian church. Albert visited the chief German cities, enlisted knights, and collected contributions for his great “patriotic work.” His knights wore a white mantle on which was a red cross and a red sword. In Russia they were called “Bearers of the Sword.” They took the name willingly, and called themselves “Brothers of the Sword.”

Albert’s first work was to build a fortress at the mouth of the river, and then began the city of Riga at the village Rigje. In two years there was a fortress and a cathedral. The people received him unwillingly. Being a keen politician, he opened negotiations with the natives, and, when their elders went to him to conclude peace, he seized them and threatened to send them to Germany. This threat brought the elders to terms, and Albert obtained of their sons thirty as hostages. These were sent to Bremen to be educated.

Soon a dispute arose between Albert, the sovereign Bishop of Livonia, and the Order, which wished on its part to rule the conquered [211]country. It was finally settled by the Pope, who divided the land into three parts. One third was to go to the bishop; one third to the metropolitan of the city of Riga, and one third to the Order. But the Order would not live in the same city with the bishop, so they erected a castle,—Wenden. This castle and the city which grew up around it became the capital of the Order. Here lived the “Grand Master,” as the Germans entitled him. In every direction castles of barons and knights sprang up like mushrooms. In proportion as the people were conquered and converted, they were turned into slaves and forced to build strongholds for their masters. The material reward for saving souls was all the land and all the people.

Albert put to death unsparingly those who refused to be baptized. In villages where the people tried to free themselves of their enslavers, the Germans killed whole crowds of prisoners—in some cases the entire male population—and consumed the village with fire. In other places, where they went into servitude meekly, they were taken on campaigns against regions not yet subjected. The bishop favored quarrels between tribes, and by skilful management used one tribe to subdue another. Thus also did he rouse tribes against Russia; inspire them not to pay tribute to Pskoff or Novgorod, and promise to liberate them with German assistance. He even helped them in their raids against the Russians.

Why did Polotsk princes permit intruders to seize their ancient possessions? Were no efforts made to drive them out? There were. Prince Vsevolod, assisted by Lithuanians, advanced to attack Riga, but when he saw from a distance the tower and walls of the city he turned back. Afterward Vladimir went from Polotsk to Ikeskola. The Germans, taken by surprise, carried out gifts to him, and he left without interfering with the city. He went to Holm, but that city could not be taken by surprise. Reinforcements hurried up from Riga, and Vladimir left, merely taking tribute. Albert, the wily bishop, expressed no astonishment that the Polotsk prince had come. On the contrary, he explained that the tribute paid by the tribes to Polotsk was in his eyes a sacred matter. In the future, he would himself undertake to forward it to Polotsk. Vladimir discovered that his rights had not been assailed and would not be. As to the Germans baptizing the Kors, [212]Livs and Chuds, it was done by his permission given to Meinhardt.

In 1206, Albert, now archbishop, felt the need of further explanations, hence he sent an embassy to Vladimir. At that time a general uprising was feared. One of the elders, Ako, was rousing the whole country against the German intruders. It was reported that the Polotsk prince was coming to assist the oppressed people. In fact many elders of the tribes had begged Vladimir to aid them. There was a great movement in Polotsk, and the prince was making ready for a campaign, when the embassy arrived. At the head of the embassy was Theodoric, with gifts and pleasant words. Vladimir decided to receive the envoys, but only in presence of the elders, who had come with complaints against the archbishop. The reception, which began with gifts, came near ending in a hand to hand encounter. When Vladimir asked why they came, the abbot answered, “To strengthen peace and friendship.” The elders, on hearing this statement, raised such a terrible outcry that the prince hastened to end the reception, requesting the envoys to await his decision.

Theodoric immediately sent a letter of warning to Albert, and Riga began at once to prepare for defense; the Grand Master and knights were occupied day and night. Vladimir heard of this, and lost all hope of seizing Riga by surprise. After consulting with his warriors, he decided to invite the bishop to Polotsk to examine with him the complaints made by the elders. He dismissed the Riga embassy, and with them sent his own embassy. When they reached Kuikenos the Polotsk embassy stopped; only one member of it went with the abbot to declare the wish of the prince to Albert.

While the envoys were waiting Albert’s reply, they summoned all who had complaints to make to meet at Kuikenos. The elders who had been in Polotsk were already there, and many people came from both sides of the river. The envoys were waiting impatiently for the bishop, when he sent this haughty answer to their invitation. “Envoys do not summon ruling personages to whom they are sent, but appear themselves with obeisance.” The people who had assembled turned now to the Polotsk envoys, asking what they were to do. The envoys could give no advice. Thinking there was no further help from Polotsk, the unfortunate [213]adherents of Ako attacked Holm, where they were cut down like sheep. A few of the insurgents were left alive to form a spectacle in Riga, whither they were driven in chains to be executed. The archbishop had not considered it necessary to be present at this battle. After mass, while the abbot was still in the cathedral, a knight brought him Ako’s bloody head as a token of victory.

The bishop found it needful to visit Europe often. He had to go to Rome; he had to make explanations to the Bremen archbishop; he had to see his friend, the Danish king, who was looking for his share of profit by conversion; he had also to select German colonists and craftsmen. While he was absent on one of these journeys, the people rose up to avenge Ako. They went again to Vladimir, who consulted with his warriors. “Delay not,” said they; “the blood of these people will fall on us.” A campaign was decided upon, but the new campaign was more unsuccessful than the first and brought more woe on the ill-fated people. Vladimir found Riga strongly fortified. He tried to take Holm, but failed. Suddenly news came from Riga that a great fleet was approaching. When Vladimir heard of this, he withdrew from Holm. The fleet was that of the Danish king, who had stopped at Riga, but only to sail farther. Vladimir, by his weakness, had again brought destruction on the people. The conversion of the Kors and Livs was now completed to the remotest corner of the country. All begged for mercy, all promised to accept baptism and the priests. The kind and faithful pastor pacified his bishopric, until no dissenting voice was heard.

The bishop raised no question with Vladimir. He acted as though no attack had been made. But he opened negotiations on another subject. He pointed out that the Lithuanians were robbers, and quarrelsome, and proposed an alliance between himself and Vladimir. In 1210 he sent an envoy, Rudolph, to Polotsk on this business. In Polotsk they failed, it seems, to understand that the alliance was not so precious to Albert as the recognition by treaty that the two contracting parties had equal rights to carry on and conclude such a treaty, a recognition, as it were, of his own sovereignty. On one side it was arranged that the Livs should pay the Polotsk prince an annual tribute, or the Riga archbishop would pay it for them; on the other side, Vladimir [214]permitted free trade on the Dvina River. Thus did Albert settle with the capital city of Polotsk, and with its ruling prince.

As for the petty princes of Gersiké and Kuikenos, they were treated more unceremoniously. Wenden Castle stood on the high bank of the river Aa, and commanded the whole region. This castle was the residence of the Grand Master. Vyachko, Prince of Kuikenos, the unfortunate neighbor of such barons and counts, did not deceive himself. He knew that his fate was an evil one. The knight, Von Lenewerden, broke into Kuikenos, occupied the place with his men, declared the inhabitants prisoners, and put Vyachko in irons. On hearing of this, the archbishop summoned both Vyachko and Von Lenewerden to Riga, and reconciled them. He restored Vyachko’s property, and persuaded him, as protection for the future, to have a German guard in his town. Soon after a band formed of Lithuanians and Kors, occupied in sea robbery, attacked Riga on a sudden. That day Riga hardly saved itself. The assailants fought desperately. The Riga men, wearied almost beyond endurance, considered their destruction as certain; but aid came unexpectedly, and the assailants departed. They made a great fire on the seacoast, threw their dead into it, and sailed away from Riga.

At every report of trouble in Riga, the people of the country were encouraged to rise against their enslavers. Vyachko now rebelled. He sent to Vladimir, the Polotsk prince, asking him to take advantage of the trouble, and of the absence of the archbishop. Meanwhile he destroyed the garrison brought into his city. When the archbishop returned and learned of this act of “his assistant,” as he considered Vyachko, he moved with the whole Order against “the rebel.” They took everything that could be taken, and then burned the city. Thus did Vyachko part with Kuikenos, his birthplace. The people escaped to swamps and forests. Higher up the river was Gersiké. Albert had long threatened Vsevolod, its petty prince, and accused him of friendship for Lithuanians, saying that instead of guarding Riga from Lithuanians, he made it easy for them to cross the Dvina. The archbishop now thought it important that he should take possession of Gersiké and thus in the eyes of the Livs become their defender against Lithuanians. The hostility between these people and the Lithuanians, who were related to them by race, seemed unappeasable. [215]

Albert surprised Gersiké. Vsevolod succeeded in crossing the river and hiding in the forest, but his wife and family were captured; everything of value was taken, and the town burned. The archbishop was magnanimous; he sent to Vsevolod, saying that if he wished peace and his family he must come to Riga. Vsevolod went immediately. He called Albert father, and asked for his family. “I will restore them,” said the archbishop, “but art thou willing to give thy principality forever to the Riga Cathedral?” Vsevolod thought that the archbishop meant to rob him, but when Albert explained that he would give his possessions back as a gift to him, with his wife and children, Vsevolod agreed to everything. Thus did Germans settle with the petty princes.

Their success with Polotsk was more than incredible.

When the archbishop had concluded his treaty with Vladimir of Polotsk, he strove to form just such relations with Pskoff and Novgorod. His policy was diplomatic and cautious. He roused the tribes subject to Novgorod by the report that the Germans had come to free them from tribute. But after Pskoff and Novgorod warriors went through the country beyond Odempe, and even as far as the sea, all action stopped and the tribes settled back into obedience.

Albert now complained more and more to Pskoff and Novgorod of robber attacks upon commerce from “unruly” subjects of Russia. He said that it was indispensable in self-defense to put down Tolova and Torma. If he could keep the country in his power, he could collect and send the tribute to Pskoff and Novgorod.

Vladimir, the Pskoff prince, liked Riga and the Germans so well that he had given his daughter to Dietrich, a brother of Albert, but for this friendship the Pskoff people dismissed him. He then went to Riga, where Albert received him gladly, and gave him land.

When Vladimir of Polotsk saw that Pskoff and Novgorod would make no treaty with the archbishop, he was greatly concerned. He was uncertain how it was best to act against his insolent neighbor, but at last he decided to write to him touching various questions. Albert replied that he had nothing against a friendly meeting, but where could they meet? He could not expect the Polotsk prince to come to him, nor could he go to Polotsk. Kuikenos [216]now belonged to the lands of the Order. There still remained ruined Gersiké. And in that city, in 1213, they had a notable meeting.

The Prince of Polotsk had much to discuss with the master of Livonia. Albert, however, would not touch upon anything that Vladimir really wanted, and turned stubbornly to the question of how they were to act toward a common enemy. He proposed that they act as allies, and pointed out the great good to come from this coöperation. He said that the treaty already concluded was too narrow; it required broadening. Vladimir was a simple man and expressed his thought to the wily archbishop with artless words. On a sudden he said to him: “Wilt thou at last stop baptizing my Kors and Livs; wilt thou leave my people in peace? They are mine absolutely, not thine. If I wish to baptize them, I will do so, if not let them remain unbaptized.” The archbishop was astounded. Appealing to the command of God: “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them,” he asked the Polotsk prince which command should be honored, that of God, or of man. The simple and good-natured Vladimir replied: “That of God,” and said no more about baptism.

“Tribute is another thing,” continued Albert. “God himself established that all who are under authority shall pay tribute to their rulers. Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s.” Recently this tribute had been stopped, but the archbishop declared that he was not to blame. The Livonians were now begging him to free them from the yoke of Russia. This was not pleasant for Vladimir to hear. He began with angry words to threaten. He would burn Riga; he would not let his land be trampled by foreign intruders; he would level their cities to the earth. The meeting came very near ending in a battle, and nothing was accomplished.

After Vladimir’s return to Polotsk, he grew very sad. His warriors said not a word, but he heard the reproach: “Think what thou hast done in giving the Germans such power. What answer canst thou render to God for their crimes?” The people were silent, but the prince saw that they were thinking day and night of how they could avoid falling into the power of the foreigner. In this sorrow Vladimir continued, till at last every one was roused and made happy by the great success of Novgorod. [217]

About the time that Mystislav the Gallant came back to Novgorod in 1214, the insolence of the tribes incited by the archbishop had become unendurable. Mystislav at once led his warriors into that country, and went twice from side to side through the whole region. When he had finished the people bowed down to him, and began as before to send tribute to Novgorod. In 1216 Mystislav left Novgorod, but an example had been given, and Vladimir of Polotsk recovered his courage. Soon there was at Polotsk an immense congregation of warriors,—many Russians and a multitude of Livs. The army was ready to move, but as Vladimir was about to embark he stumbled in stepping from the shore to the boat, fell into the water, and died suddenly. That ended the expedition.

Saved from Polotsk, the knights did not escape defeat from Novgorod. They had subjected again the places won by Mystislav, but Novgorod recovered them.

With the death of Vladimir of Polotsk, that principality ceased, as one might say, to exist. In that region Russians and Lithuanians had so assimilated that they were difficult to distinguish.

Vladimir was without a successor. After his death, where the German domain ended, the Lithuanian began. There was now an independent Livonia, and the Germans were seeking to include that region where they had built the castle of Fellin, a region which the Danes admired as the Revel coast. This was the Estland, or the Esthonia of Rome.

After Mystislav the Gallant had shaken the power of the Vladimir principality by the battle of Lipetsk, and vanished forever from Novgorod, there was an interval of quiet, beginning with 1218, which greatly favored the Germans in their efforts to obtain Esthonia. But the Danish king was equally anxious to get possession of this country, or, according to his biographer, he wanted to purify his conscience from sin and show his devotion to the Riga Mother of God; therefore he disembarked on the coast of Livonia a numerous army.

The Danes and the Riga Germans now did their best to excel each other at baptizing. Villages and settlements trembled at the appearance of the “cross-bearers.” Wherever there was a battle the conquerors became executioners, and in retaliation, whenever a soldier of the cross fell into the hands of the natives, they burned [218]him alive as an offering to their god; sometimes they flayed a cross out of the flesh of his back before burning him.

From the castle of Fellin and along the Revel coast regions, the country had gibbets thickly planted over it. From dread of the terrible sword and gibbet of the intruder, the people were anxious for baptism. The Riga Germans had many priests, the Danes only a few; but when the Danes lacked priests they used lay baptism. They collected the people in a crowd, and baptized them all together. It happened frequently that when the German knights came, people fell on their knees and cried: “We are baptized already.” There were cases where the two crowds of missionaries met, and one took its converts from the other by force of arms. The hatred of the baptizers for each other became so great that the archbishop went to Rome to complain of the Danes, but he found there envoys from the Danish king on a similar errand. The Pope confirmed the Revel coast to the Danish king; afterward, however, the whole land went to Riga.

The Kors and Livs had not been able to save themselves under the protection of Polotsk, neither were these tribes protected by Novgorod. In five or six years, that is between 1218 and 1224, their evil fate was settled. During that period princes changed several times in Novgorod; and the Pskoff men gravely considered in their meetings the question of making an alliance with Riga. Complaint against Novgorod was general. “Our Novgorod brothers,” said they, “come to take tribute of rebellious tribes and then go home quickly; when they are gone we suffer doubly on their account. A bad peace with Germans is better than such brotherly assistance.”

At this period Lithuanians were troubled greatly by refugees of their own stock, who had been driven out of Prussia. These people, urged by the Livonian knights, made raids against Novgorod. Warring continually with its new enemy, Novgorod was not able to properly defend its possessions on the coast, and so asked aid of Yuri of Vladimir. Yuri sent Sviatoslav, his brother, with troops. There was a battle at Wenden, the knights were defeated, and the castle was besieged, but the Grand Master succeeded in bringing in reinforcements, and the Russians, satisfied with their booty, withdrew.

The Letts, who were obedient to the Germans and under their [219]lead, now threatened Pskoff. The whole country about there, called Esthonia by the Germans, consisted of warring fragments now under German, and now under Russian command. Odempe, Izborsk, and Yurieff passed from hand to hand. The people suffered from the Russians because they yielded to the Germans, and from the Germans because they went back to the Russians. It would be impossible to count all the campaigns and raids of that troubled time.

The archbishop was hated for his cruelty. Populations whom he came to convert were filled with terror by his presence; they submitted to baptism, but they washed it away quickly when he was gone.

To their assistance came the Novgorod prince, Yaroslav, son of Big Nest. When on his way to Riga, envoys came to him from the Sea-Fins, from the island of Izel, and begged him to defend them from the Danes. The country from Izborsk and Yurieff toward Fellin seemed free of the enemy. It remained to drive the Danes from the Revel coast, strengthen Revel and build a stone fortress there. When Yaroslav approached Fellin, a fearful sight met his eyes; traces of the terrible knights were everywhere; villages had been burned; in places the earth was red with blood; there were gibbets with bodies swinging from them. The knights had retaken Fellin, and the Russian garrison had been slaughtered. Yaroslav and his forces went through the country to the sea, approached Kolivan and besieged the castle of Revel for nearly a month. The Danes defended the place valiantly. At that stage, Yaroslav took counsel of the Novgorod men, and decided to abandon the siege for a large tribute in gold. The Pskoff people considered this ending of the campaign inglorious, and blamed their “brothers of Novgorod” for their selfish conduct. But even this campaign did not shake the faith of the people in their Russian defenders.

Yurieff and the country around struggled against the knights till completely exhausted. While waiting for promised reinforcements from Novgorod, a few Russian champions and native people fought with the whole force of Livonian knights. This party of brave men was led by the most insignificant prince of all Russia, that Prince Vyachko, from whom the archbishop had taken his native place, Kuikenos. His name, however, had [220]acquired great notoriety among the Germans, for he was their most irreconcilable enemy. From Kuikenos, Vyachko had gone to Yurieff, and there he gave the Germans no peace. He strengthened the place, and made savage raids on all sides. At last the archbishop decided, cost what it might, to take Yurieff, that hateful den where all the “malefactors and traitors” had assembled, as well as many of the bitterest enemies of the church in Livonia, and where they were commanded by that prince who, from the beginning, had been the root of all evil.

The archbishop himself took part in this campaign, bringing with him a multitude of knights from various parts of Germany. The Knights of Livonia assisted with all their strength. The place was surrounded and besieged. In addition to the usual engines of war, the Germans had a movable tower as high as the walls of the city. Under cover of this tower, they began to dig a tunnel. Meanwhile they entered into negotiations with Vyachko, offering him a free escape with all the Russians, horses and arms, if he would surrender the fortress and with it the natives who had found shelter within its walls. Vyachko gave an answer which the archbishop called shameless and insolent, and in Russian style.

After the refusal of terms, the siege continued with redoubled force. The knights complained of the great loss inflicted upon them by the garrison of the fortress, which day after day, made desperate sallies. At last, fearing that relief might come to the besieged, the Germans determined to storm the place. Next morning at daybreak, a fierce assault was made, but it was repulsed. Later on the besieged made an opening in the wall just opposite the tower, and hurled out blazing stuff to burn down the structure. The besiegers rushed to extinguish the fire, and in the general excitement and uproar certain knights made their way through the opening in the wall. Once inside, they spared no one; a terrible struggle ensued. Meanwhile the place was fired by its defenders, who had sworn to perish to the last man in case of defeat. The Germans captured but one man, who later on was sent to Novgorod, with a message that Yurieff was taken.

When this messenger arrived, and announced that help was not needed, that all had perished, there was great sadness in the city, for the warriors were on the eve of marching to relieve the besieged. [221]

Not long after this, Pskoff, still fighting with Novgorod, made a friendly alliance and treaty with Riga. This happened when Novgorod men were continually sending away Prince Yaroslav and recalling him. It is not to be wondered at that while there was such internal dissension and disagreement between Novgorod men themselves, and between Novgorod and Pskoff, the Germans succeeded in Esthonia. Whatever the peace terms were between Pskoff and Riga, the Germans had become an acknowledged and independent power on the Baltic coast of Russia.

Yaroslav, about this time, went to Pereyaslavl on the Alta, and Yuri of Vladimir, who had married the daughter of Chermny, gave Novgorod to his brother-in-law, Michael. Thereupon Yaroslav, opposing Yuri, drove Michael from Novgorod, and conquered Chernigoff.

Remembering how he had been driven from Pereyaslavl by Chermny, Yaroslav occupied that region which once had belonged to him. Remembering also how on a time he had been invited to reign in Galitch, he extended his views beyond Kief to Carpathian Russia. But a slight failure in the South caused him to return to Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest, not taking his eye for a moment, however, from Novgorod. Working now against Yuri, he strove to incite him to quarrel with his nephews, Vassilko and Vsevolod, sons of Constantine, the first of whom was Prince of Rostoff, the second Prince of Yaroslav on the Volga.

Ten years had passed since the death of Big Nest in 1212,—years filled with strife, disorder and conflict. A second ten years had begun. That which had troubled Russia in the past threatened in the future, with the end not in sight. And so it continued until a thunderbolt fell, as it were from the sky, “a punishment for the sins of many generations, and for all the injustice and lawlessness committed from one generation to another. The anger which was preparing on high,” as the chronicler says, “and was delayed by the long suffering of God, burst forth at last.”

And now comes the period of vast and radical changes in Russia.

These changes were caused indirectly by the Polovtsi in 1224, who, fearing greatly the dauntless Mongols, who were attacking them, appealed to the Christian princes. “They have seized our country,” said the Polovtsi. “To-morrow they will seize yours.” Mystislav the Gallant, taking advantage of this opportunity to [222]crush a possible future enemy, persuaded other princes of Southern Russia to join him in aiding the Polovtsi. Basti, Khan of these idolatrous Polovtsi, embraced Orthodoxy to cement the alliance with the Russians, and the army moved forward without delay. Upon reaching the lower Dnieper, the Russians, under Mystislav the Gallant, Daniel, Prince of Volynia, Mystislav, Grand Prince of Kief, Oleg of Kursk, Mystislav of Chernigoff, Vladimir of Smolensk, and Vsevolod, for a short time Prince of Novgorod, were met by envoys from the Mongols, who tried to persuade them to abandon the cause of the Polovtsi, saying: “The Mongols have nothing against the Russians. It is the pagans whom we wish to destroy. We are as the Russians in that we worship the one God. Profit by our offer, and avenge yourselves upon the enemy who has warred against you in the past.” The envoys were seized and put to death immediately, and the Russians continued their march.

At the Kalka, a small stream flowing into the Sea of Azoff, they encountered the Mongol forces, led by two great commanders, Subotai and Chepé. Mystislav the Gallant, Daniel of Volynia, and Oleg of Kursk, wishing to win for themselves all the glory of the victory, rushed forward without the aid of the Prince of Kief, and even without warning him of their intention. The Polovtsi advanced also but when the critical moment of the struggle came, they were seized with panic, and fell back upon their Russian allies, thus throwing them into terrible disorder. The defeat was overwhelming; hardly a tenth of the men under those rash leaders escaped, six princes and seventy distinguished voevodas were killed. Mystislav of Kief, abandoned by the army, tried to defend himself in his hastily fortified camp on the banks of the Kalka. The Mongols offered him his life and the lives of his sons-in-law if he would surrender and pay them a ransom for himself and his personal following. Knowing well that he could not successfully contend with the victors, he surrendered. But the Mongols did not regard their promise; they massacred Mystislav’s men, and putting the three princes under heavy planks, they sat upon those planks and feasted while the unfortunate Russians died in the greatest agony.

After this victory, the Mongols returned to the East, vanished, and were not seen again for thirteen years.

Mystislav died four years after that disastrous battle on the [223]Kalka, and sad was the end of his glory. He began a war on Volynia by reason of a calumny that his son-in-law, Daniel, was trying to deprive him of Galitch,—nay more, there was a direct accusation that Daniel intended to kill him. These accusations were brought against Daniel by Bailski. Later on, Mystislav repented and became friendly with Daniel. He gave rich presents to his daughter Anna, the wife of Daniel, and gave Daniel his best horse, Aklaz. No steed on earth, as he thought, was the equal of that one, for had he not brought him alive from the terrible slaughter on the Kalka. Nevertheless Mystislav betrothed his youngest daughter to the son of Andrei of Hungary, and gave his son-in-law Peremysl at the advice of boyars in Galitch, chief among whom was Sudislav “the traitor,” as people still called him. In bringing Mystislav to give his daughter to the king’s son, these men believed that Galitch would fall to Hungary a second time, and their efforts were directed toward that object very earnestly. All at once a report spread that Mystislav the Gallant had decided to go to the lower country and give Galitch to his father-in-law, Kotyan, a Polovtsi khan. This report was monstrous, and invented doubtless by tricksters, still Galitch men were so greatly alarmed because of it, that many left the country and went to Hungary.

The prince contradicted this lie before all the people. He sent Timofei, his confessor, to the fugitives; he persuaded them to return, but soon after the king himself came into Galitch with a numerous army, and insisted that Galitch be given to his son immediately. Mystislav prepared now for battle. This last battle fought by the hero was as decisive and brilliant as any which preceded it. The king’s army was crushed. The king himself fled with maddened mind and shattered body. There was a rumor that this disaster had been foretold him. “Thou wilt not live, if thou see Galitch,” were the reputed words of a wizard whom King Andrei asked to soothsay as he was leaving Hungary.

Mystislav’s allies, Daniel and Vassilko, who fought against Leshko, and did not let the Poles help King Andrei, brought their regiments to Galitch and strove to make Mystislav pursue the defeated army. Mystislav was unwilling to do this; Sudislav and the boyars, not wishing the ruin of the king, in whom lay their great hope, opposed with all their power; and the war with Hungary ended in nothing. [224]

Mystislav, weary of the utter faithlessness of the boyars, resolved to leave Galitch. This resolution delighted the boyars; but they warned him immediately that the hatred of the country toward him reached also to Daniel, hence they advised him to give Galitch to the king’s son as a dowry for his daughter. This advice they strengthened by the following words: “If thou give Galitch to the king’s son as dowry for thy daughter, thou canst withdraw it later on, should the wish come, but if thou yield now to Daniel, Galitch will never be thine again.” Mystislav made no answer, but he did as they advised. He married his daughter to the king’s son and then gave them Galitch, thus acting as a traitor toward Russia. He withdrew after that, and lived on the Ros in Podolia.

Daniel, though deceived and disappointed most cruelly, did not utter a word of complaint. He remained true to Mystislav, and grew stronger and stronger in Volynia. Mystislav the Silent who admired Daniel greatly, left him the province of Lutsk, but Daniel had to use force to obtain this inheritance, for not only Bailski but Yaroslav, the nephew of Mystislav the Silent, raised arms against him. Knowing Mystislav the Gallant’s affection for these princes Daniel sent his own trusty friend to explain the situation to his father-in-law, who was glad to communicate directly with Daniel, from whom he had allowed himself to be separated by false and intriguing boyars. Explanations made, Mystislav sent a secret message to Daniel: “My son,” said he, “I sinned in not giving thee Galitch. The boyars deceived me through Sudislav the Traitor. Go with God’s assistance against them. I will summon the Polovtsi to aid thee, and do thou move with thy own men. God give thee Galitch, and I will stay here.”

In this way the old man hoped to repair his shortcomings, but he died soon after in Torchesk. Aware that death was approaching he begged to see Daniel; he wished to commit all his house to him, since he had perfect trust in his honesty. The crafty boyars, however, prevented this meeting, and Mystislav the Gallant died in lonely Torchesk, without seeing his son-in-law. Of his end it is only known that when he fell ill, in 1228, he retired to a monastery and assumed the monk’s habit. He left all Podolia to Daniel, but for this inheritance a general war broke out quickly in Volynia, Galitch, Kief and Chernigoff, involving all Southern Russia in bloodshed. [225]




After Vladimir of Smolensk had perished at the Kalka, Vladimir, son of Rurik, who returned from that disastrous battle, took the Kief throne as the senior prince and favorite cousin of Mystislav, whose support he enjoyed till the death of the latter. But no sooner had Mystislav gone from the world than there rose storms of trouble because of the Kief principality. Vladimir called to mind quickly the offense of Daniel’s father, who had forced the tonsuring of Rurik. And for this act of the dead Roman he went now to take revenge on the living.

As Prince of Kief, Vladimir concluded an alliance with Michael of Chernigoff, and both began war against Daniel. They would not let him have Podolia, and were jealous of his claim upon Galitch. Daniel now made an alliance with the Poles, and, since the chief troops brought against him were Polovtsi, Daniel asked Kotyan, who was his wife’s grandfather, to put a stop to the war. “Oh, father,” begged he, “stop this war; take me into thy friendship.” The Khan immediately dropped his allies and made a movement in favor of Daniel, crushing all that he met on his way. Then he vanished, and the war ceased of itself, without much injury to Daniel.

Thankful for this service, Daniel made no use of the Poles, and dismissed his ally, who had not lost a warrior. Vladimir, son of Rurik, deserted by the Polovtsi, made peace with Daniel, and soon after begged his aid against Michael. This Michael of Chernigoff, so recently an ally of Vladimir, was now trying to force him from Kief, since he greatly desired that ancient city for his own use.

From 1230 to 1240 war raged throughout Galitch and Volynia, Chernigoff, and Kief. More than once did Vladimir flee from Kief [226]to be succeeded by Michael; more than once was Michael deprived of his possessions. All Southern Russia, from the San and the Dniester to the Desna, was the alternate and fleeting possession of Michael and his brothers, or of the men who opposed them, namely, Vladimir and Daniel. Each side had its victory, but each met defeat somewhat later. Daniel brought aid many times to Vladimir. In one of these campaigns the two men crossed the Dnieper and captured Chernigoff; they warred on the Desna, and captured many towns in other places. More than once Michael appeared with his troops on the San and the Dniester. He seized Galitch and left his son and heir, Rostislav, to reign there. At times Michael gave towns to Daniel; at times he drove him unsparingly from Galitch regions. At times one of them fled from the other to Hungary, alternately they were hostile and friendly to each other. Once Daniel and Vladimir were defeated by Michael and the Polovtsi, which he led in. Vladimir was captured by those same Polovtsi and could not, for some time, buy his freedom. On the day that Vladimir was captured a horse was killed under Daniel, who barely escaped with his life from that battle-field. Then again not only did Michael lose Kief and Galitch, he lost Chernigoff also. At last Michael was brought to such straits that he begged for peace earnestly, and made amends to Daniel. “Much have I sinned against thee,” said he. “I have not held to my promises, I have done great harm to thee, but how many times have I wished to act otherwise, though unable, for the faith-breaking boyars of Galitch would never permit me. Now I take oath that with thee I will never have enmity.” So Daniel, with his brother Vassilko, received Michael as a relative.

But this happened in 1239, when Michael’s dominions had been turned to a terrible wilderness, and the city of Chernigoff was a ruin. Up to that ghastly period wars and dissensions were constant in Southern Russia. During that troubled time Kief was without a prince really, for it passed from one hand to another so frequently that the interval during which one prince was winning the place from another was often far longer than the time he sat on the throne after winning it. Instead of asking who in that period of unrest ruled Kief, one might better ask who of prominent princes was not its ruler. The same was true of Galitch. It was difficult to say who reigned there. [227]

In 1229 some of the Galitch men, faithful to the people, secretly invited Daniel to come and rule in their land. At his approach, boyars favorable to Hungary closed the gates of the city, burned the bridge on the Dniester, and used every possible means to oppose him. But the people from Ushitsa, Bobrok and Pruth regions marched in from all quarters to meet the prince “born to them,” and no party had sufficient power to check them.

Daniel, forgetting the king’s opposition, and remembering only his personal kindness, did no harm to Prince Bela, who was Mystislav’s son-in-law. He allowed him to go back to Hungary, and even went with him to the Dniester. The intriguing boyars bowed now before Daniel, and only one of them, Sudislav the Traitor, went with the king’s son. The people threw stones at this boyar, and shouted: “Be off, thou disturber, thou traitor!”

The next year, however, a new plot was formed against Daniel, and during the decade setting in with 1230 conspiracies and disturbances did not cease throughout Galitch. The boyars called Daniel prince, but seized for themselves everything in the country. A dissolution of all social bonds and a general decay of loyalty spread with rising rapidity. Formerly only boyars such as Sudislav or Volodislav, called Red Hair, were exalted, but now a great host broke in, boyars of whom no man had heard until that day; notorious were Voldrys and Klimyata, but no one knew of what stock they were. One Dobruslav seized the whole lower country, though he had no more right to it than a robber. At the same time a certain Grigory Vassilevitch took the upper part of Peremysl. A priest’s grandson, one Suditch, plundered actively on every side. Famous also were Lazar Domajiritch and Ivor Molibojitch, two lawless men of low origin. Such boyars “made great disturbance and robbed much,” says the chronicler. And these men were managing the fortunes of Galitch, treating now with Hungarians, now with Poles, and now with Russian princes. From one side they rushed to another, and again turned from that one with offers of service to him who could promise the profit at which they were grasping. In such a condition of Galitch Daniel now lost his heritage, not preserving one foot of land for himself in all that great region, and then again he returned to the throne of his father with apparent security.

The Hungarian king, at the advice of boyars, came sometimes [228]himself, and sometimes he sent his sons thither. Bailski, with his brethren, took the side of the boyars and rose up in arms against Daniel. Finally Michael of Chernigoff appeared to take vengeance on Daniel for harassing his land, but, besides this, Michael remembered the offense against his own kinsmen in Galitch, the vile death inflicted by boyars on Igor’s sons. There, on the spot where their blood had been shed in the city of Galitch, he felt it his duty to win back the honor of his family. Hence Galitch was torn into bits and was ruled at short intervals, now by its own men, and now by outsiders. More than once intriguing boyars fell at Daniel’s feet and begged mercy, for the common people adhered to him firmly at all times. At last Bailski ceased his scheming: “I see myself,” said he to Daniel, “that I can be with no one but thee.” And then the Poles made peace with Daniel. Next the Hungarian king, Bela IV, made peace.

But each success gained by Daniel was followed by the treason of boyars. Now they conspired to burn him and his brother in their palace; now to assassinate them at table while feasting. And again they roused Bailski against Daniel.

Then they summoned in Daniel’s enemies from other regions of Russia, to be followed by renewed inroads of Poles and Hungarians. Michael of Chernigoff once more entered into greater friendship with Hungary than with Daniel. He arranged a marriage of his son, Rostislav, to one of Bela’s many daughters, and maintained a continual alliance with Poland. Such was the state of affairs during the dreadful ten years which succeeded 1230.

Yaroslav, son of Big Nest, held Kief as prince in 1237. We know not from whom he received it, but the place fell to him without a struggle. There were two princes then who might have claimed the throne, each insignificant,—Vladimir, son of Rurik, who was still in debt for a part of his ransom to the Polovtsi, and Izyaslav. It may be that Yaroslav took Kief from these men. He left it on hearing that the city of Vladimir was destroyed by the Mongols.

Michael of Chernigoff now took Kief, and put his son in Galitch, but in 1239 he left Kief because the Mongols had ruined Pereyaslavl and Chernigoff on the Alta, and were moving against the ancient capital. The Mongols sent envoys to Michael demanding surrender. The Kief people seized those envoys and slew them. [229]Michael fled straightway. Now from Smolensk came Rostislav, son of Mystislav, but he was driven out immediately by Daniel, who had at last won Galitch and mastered it thoroughly. But though Daniel had Kief, he himself did not enter it, but he sent Dmitri, his boyar, to hold the place.

Daniel had completely overcome his opponents on every side. He now surpassed all southern princes, and was stronger than his father had ever been, for he had Kief in addition to Galitch and Volynia, but this was in 1239, when the dreadful hour was approaching, and it was too late to enjoy any fruit from the battles and toils which he had passed through. The very next year Kief was turned into “corpses, and ruins and ashes,” and Daniel was soon to receive the Mongol command: “Yield Galitch, and level thy walls in Volynia.”

It is remarkable that the Mongol tempest was preceded not only by countless wars and mad quarrels, which produced immense suffering and anguish, but by the appearance of such omens in the sky and such marvels on all sides that ceaseless terror was born of them everywhere.

Beginning with 1224, the fateful year of the Kalka disaster, the whole course of nature seemed changed throughout Russia. There was an unheard-of dry season, and a hazy heat with it; pitchy forests were burning and turf swamps were smoking all over the country; birds had not strength to fly, and fell down inanimate. In the autumn appeared a great comet; after sunset it lighted up the whole heavens, extending like a long, awful lance from the west toward the east. There were tales of floods overwhelming distant places. There were reports also of raging fires. Novgorod burned so that the flames crossed the river; all thought the end of the city was before them. In Vladimir there was a fire such as no man remembered. Besides this, there were earthquakes. In Vladimir, during mass, the holy images in churches began to quiver, the walls of the city were trembling. In Kief the stone church of the Holy Virgin sank at the corners. More than once was the sun darkened. Men who knew the movements of heavenly bodies strove to pacify people by explaining that the moon had gone through the sky, stopped in front of the sun, and thus hid it. But the sun was affected in other ways; once, while rising, it was like a small star, and no one could see where its size had gone; then [230]suddenly it appeared in full greatness; another time it sent immense pillars of light through the skies, which were green, blue and purple. Especially terrible was it in Kief; from these pillars of many-colored light a fiery cloud formed, which the wind carried forward till it brooded above the whole city. People fell on their knees and prayed to the Lord to have mercy; they took farewell of one another, feeling sure that the end of all life was then near them. The fiery cloud dropped, moved aside, and fell into the Dnieper, where it vanished without injury to any man. There was terrible famine in places, above all in Novgorod; there were neither dogs nor cats left for food in the city; men killed their own brothers and ate them; then there was pestilence. In Novgorod there were not graveyards to hold all the corpses, and fences were made around new ones, in which forty-two thousand people were buried. In Smolensk they laid out four new graveyards; in two of these sixteen thousand were buried; in the third seven thousand, and in the fourth nine thousand.

Confused and scattered stories of a terrible invasion were spread among people. From the East, from the land of the Bulgars of the Volga, came reports of ill-omen, and then the tale of the “Mongol” became universal. “Oh, that is they!” was heard now in all places. “It is they who gave the Russian princes that awful defeat on the Kalka!”

But who these pagans were, no man could indicate. According to report, they came of impure races hidden away in unknown regions. It was said that there was a prophecy of old concerning those people which said: “They will come before time ends, and capture all places.”

The Mongols burst in from the Trans-Volga regions, through those open spaces called much later on the steppes of Tamboff and Saratoff, and attacked Ryazan boundaries.

The Mongol army was enormous for that time. It seemed to the Russians as though a whole people were moving from one part of the earth to the other. This army was led by Batu, the great Jinghis Khan’s grandson, the son of his eldest son, Juchi.

In attacking a region the Mongols surrounded it, as beaters surround game in a forest, and moved toward a fixed point of meeting. Batu sent envoys to Ryazan, and with them went an enchantress. The presence of this woman alarmed the Ryazan [231]people greatly. The envoys brought this message: “Give one tenth of everything: one prince in ten; one man in ten of the common people; give every tenth one from black, white, brown, and pied horses; from every kind of beast, give one out of ten; and of all wealth and all products give the tenth part to us.”

The princes met, and when they had counseled together they sent back this answer: “When no one of us is living, what is left will belong to you.”

The Mongols advanced with fire and sword toward the capital. The time was December, 1237, and January, 1238.

To prevent these invaders from entering settled places, the princes marched out to meet them in steppe lands. Flinging themselves on the advancing hordes, they fought with desperate bravery, only to be crushed and destroyed utterly. Ingvar, who was at that time in Chernigoff, with Kolovrat, a voevoda, seeking warriors and imploring the Polovtsi to help him, returned home to a desert. Towns and villages were charred ruins, and contained only corpses which beasts of prey and foul birds were devouring. Dead princes, voevodas and warriors lay in the frozen grass, snow-covered. Only at long intervals appeared people, who had been able to hide in the forest, and who came out now to weep over the ruin of their homes.

The Mongols not only surrounded the city of Ryazan with an army, but with a wall as well, and they strengthened this wall in places with firm palisades. This they called “driving the pig in.” Thus they expressed themselves, delighted that no one could escape when the city was taken. After they had finished their wall, they put up rams for battering the city walls in, and prepared ladders for storming.

The Ryazan men resisted many days, and fought with desperation. They inflicted great loss on the Mongols, but, as was clear, they were weakening. Since they did not let their weapons go out of their hands, they were sure to be conquered in the end by weariness. The Mongols relieved their own storming parties, they gave those men rest, and sent forward fresh regiments. At last they succeeded in crushing the walls down and firing the city by hurling in heavy stones and blazing substances. On December 21, 1237, they mounted the breaches, and through fire, smoke and slaughter burst into the city. [232]

At the same time, in the region about Ryazan, through all villages and monasteries, similar seizures and slaughters were enacted. For the Mongols it was not enough to capture cities and towns; they destroyed all the people from the aged to infants. They amused themselves with inflicting various kinds of cruel death singly; they loved also to kill men in multitudes. Made drunk, as it were, by abundance of bloodshed, they rose to a wild, boundless ecstasy.

For many days this rejoicing and slaughter continued. Then groans and wails ceased in the ruined city and its environs, and all was silent. There was no one to wail, no one to groan, since all were lying dead and frozen. When the Mongols had vanished naught remained but blackened stones and charred remnants. Of many towns, cities and villages, nothing was left except stones, and cinders and dead bodies. It might almost be said that the Ryazan principality existed no longer. Those ill-fated princes, when the Mongols appeared on their southern border, sent to beg aid of Prince Yuri of Vladimir, and their relatives in Chernigoff. Kolovrat, who had been sent to Chernigoff, led back some men to the ruins of his birthplace. Amazed and maddened when he saw those ruins, he rushed forward to strike the rear of the Mongols. He overtook them at night, as they were leaving the Ryazan borders. The Mongols were terrified when they saw him. “Are not those the dead of Ryazan,” cried they, “who have risen and come to avenge their own deaths on us?”

Those unknown Russians fought like furies. Then, seizing the swords from Mongols slain by them, and dropping their own weapons, they cut and slashed with more fury than ever. There was uproar and chaos in the whole Mongol army. The Mongols succeeded, however, in capturing five of the raging pursuers, whom they took to the Khan, their commander. “Who are ye?” asked the Khan. “Wonder not, O Tsar,” answered they, “that we have strength to fill the cup of death for all Mongols. We are servants of Prince Ingvar; we are of Kolovrat’s regiment, sent to conduct thee and thy warriors with honor. We conduct as many as we are able.”

Tavrul, Batu’s brother-in-law, offered to seize Kolovrat. He went out on an unterrified steed against him, but Kolovrat cut the [233]Mongol in two, from his head to the saddle on which he was sitting. Then the Mongols surrounded the handful of heroes, who stood like a fortress, and not one of them yielded. All of those warriors were slain after desperate fighting. The Khan praised the dead men, and gave the five living their freedom. “The Russians know well,” said he, “how to drink the death cup with their princes.”

Prince Yuri gave no aid to Ryazan. He said he would move against the enemy in person, and act separately.

The Mongols turned now against Yuri. The old road from Ryazan to Vladimir lay through Kolomna and Moscow, in a country comparatively rich and well settled. Yuri sent troops to both cities. To Kolomna he sent his own son Vsevolod, and to Moscow another son, Vladimir, so young that Philip, the voevoda, was attached to his person. Leaving wife and family in Vladimir, confident that they would be safe within its walls, he himself hurried northward to levy warriors, and make ready for action. His nephews from Rostoff and Yaroslavl, the sons of Constantine, hastened to join his forces, and he hoped for the return of his brother, Yaroslav, with regiments from Kief.

The Mongols made no useless delay at Kolomna. They slaughtered the inhabitants and burned down the city. One of the Ryazan princes, who had survived, joined at Kolomna the army sent out by Yuri, but in the battle which followed almost immediately every man fell except Yuri’s son. He escaped by fleeing swiftly to Vladimir, to meet a worse death in that doomed city.

A fate like that of Kolomna soon struck Moscow; the place was stormed and sacked. Philip was killed, with other defenders, who fell fighting bravely. While the Mongols were dividing the rich spoils and rejoicing, they burned the city. Ordinary prisoners were killed quickly, those of distinction were crucified, flayed alive or burned. Yuri’s son, Vladimir, they took with them. The countless army, that same army of which Arabian historians wrote that on its path “the earth groaned, birds dropped dead, and wild beasts lost their senses,” opened now and moved away in various directions. From these divisions still smaller ones separated and marched off on all roads. They took in towns and settlements as a net gathers fish under water. People fled from cities and villages in crowds. They hid in caves, in dark forests, [234]and in gullies, not knowing how to escape or whither they should go for refuge. Those who were near heard from those who had come from afar that Mongols were everywhere slaying, burning, robbing churches, and cutting down old and young as they traveled. Others were leading a multitude of captives to their camps. It brought terror to look at those captives, barefoot and bloodless.

February 3, 1238, the Mongols appeared at Vladimir and surrounded the city. The Vladimir men rejected proposals of surrender, and saw with dismay how the enemy strengthened their camp, and began preparations for storming. Mongol leaders rode round the city and surveyed its defenses. Then, to the amazement of all, an immense crowd of mounted commanders approached the main gate of the city, and asked, “Is Prince Yuri among you?” The people answered with arrows. The commanders replied in the same way, sending each of them an arrow at the crosses on the bell-towers glittering with golden tops in the sunlight. Then they made signs to stop shooting and negotiate. When the Vladimir men desisted, to see what would happen, the Mongols showed Yuri’s young son made prisoner in Moscow, and asked if they knew him. A cry rose. Vsevolod and Mystislav, brothers of the captive, wished to sally forth and save him, but they were held back by the people. All, from the voevoda to the last man in the city, swore to fight while life remained. All declared that they were ready to die for God’s churches, and those simple words were no idle sounds from those people.

The bishops of Vladimir counseled every one to prepare for death and the last hour, to have this passing life in their memories no longer; and assured them that Christ would forget no one made worthy through the crown of a martyr. All who heard these words began to work valiantly. From old to young, every man was to fight on the walls, or wherever the need was. All armed themselves for the coming storm and the battle. On the second or third day of the siege, news spread through the city that Suzdal had been taken, that Rostoff had yielded. Men on the walls saw on the Suzdal road Mongol regiments approaching rapidly, and then they saw men, women, monks, nuns and a multitude of people led captive.

That day the Mongols worked from early morning till nightfall, pulling up timber, and engines, and planting their wall-crushing [235]instruments. Next morning it appeared that they had not been idle in the night-time. A wooden wall now encircled the city. For the last twenty-four hours no man in Vladimir had slept. No person had undressed for a week past. All knew that their city was doomed. The princes, and Yuri’s whole family, many of the boyars and the people had put on the monk’s habit, making ready for death with great earnestness.

On Sunday February 14, 1238, the city was stormed and captured. At daybreak the Mongols were on the walls, and before midday their work was accomplished. They did not occupy all parts immediately, though they broke in at once on many sides,—on the Klyazma, the Lybed, the Golden Gate, and the Valski sides. At one side they made a long mound, traces of which are seen even to our day. They went up along this mound and came down inside the walls on their ladders.

The new city was covered with corpses. In the old city there was a stubborn defense and great slaughter. Savage fighting went on outside the walls as well. The Mongols killed every man who tried to escape. Then began the sack of Vladimir. Wherever Mongols entered, they seized what they found; they stripped the churches, taking everything of value; wherever they met with resistance, they brought piles of wood and burned all before them.

When the enemy sprang in over the walls every person in Vladimir who could carry a weapon rushed “to drink the cup of death” promptly, knowing well that resistance was fruitless. The young princes, who thought to break through the enemy, were cut to pieces. The voevoda, Pyotr Oslyadukovitch, pressed heavily on the Mongols with his “children,” that is, the whole population of Vladimir, who did not desert him. They fought fiercely on the walls, and at the walls outside the city, and on all streets within it. Blood flowed till midday, and not to win victory, for that, as they knew, was impossible, but to kill as many infidels as they could, and die fighting for the holy Orthodox faith and for their country.

The Mongol multitude crushed all before it; numbers conquered everywhere. The new and the old city were taken by assault, and the capital was burning from side to side in one vast conflagration.

Yuri’s princess, with her relatives, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, [236]all the wives and daughters of boyars, many of the people and clergy with wives and children, and the bishop himself had taken refuge in the Vladimir cathedral. The smoke and flame of the city’s burning had reached the walls of this edifice, while round about were heard the shouts of the oncoming Mongols. Those inside the building sought safety in the galleries. Suffocating from smoke, they would have gone down again, but there was a dense crowd below pressing upward. The Mongols forced open the door of the cathedral and, rushing in, seized gold and silver, and all the church vessels. They cut and hewed down those persons who had not hidden, and those who were trying to get to the galleries. Then they brought sticks and brushwood, filled the place well with fuel, and set fire to it. Smoke rose in columns within the cathedral. The roar of the burning building and the cries of victory from the wild conquerors were heard in one dull groaning thunder, mingling with the wails, shrieks and prayers of the dying. The bishop blessed all at their parting, crying: “O Lord, stretch thy unseen hands to us, and receive the souls of thy people.” The massive walls of the cathedral did not fall; they withstood the fire and have remained in integrity to our time.

The horrors of Ryazan were repeated in Vladimir. Only young women, nuns, and strong laborers were led away captive. The sick, the infirm, the weak and the aged were slaughtered at once, and without mercy. Smoking ruins alone were left of the beautiful city of Vladimir. When the Mongols marched away from the remnant of the capital, there was not a groan, or a cry to be heard from the people, for all who were in that city were lying dead.

To overtake Yuri and destroy his forces was no difficult task for the savage invaders. They found him in Yaroslavl regions, on the banks of the Siti. Among other princes was Vassilko, his favorite nephew, a son of Constantine, whom his dying father had asked Yuri to treat as one of his own sons. Crushed by news from Vladimir, Yuri seemed dazed, and repeated unceasingly: “Why am I left, why do I not die with them?” Grief for children and wife was swallowed up in his anguish over the destruction of the city, the people, the bishop, and the clergy. Volunteers who were pouring in brought similar tidings from every part: “The enemy are slaying all people, burning all places; they are everywhere!” Only one thing remained: retreat to the distant north. But from [237]Vologda, and even from Galitch beyond the Volga, came news of the same universal slaughter and destruction. Three thousand men, sent as scouts to the north, returned with these tidings: “The enemy are attacking off there, they are around us far and near, they are everywhere.”

Soon the struggle began on the Siti, and became straightway a most terrible massacre. Numbers crushed everything. The Mongols had scarcely begun when they had victory. Those people who were not mortally wounded, and who rose from the battle field, and a few who were unwounded fled, and hid in the forests. Yuri, Grand Prince of Vladimir, lay dead in a great pile of bodies,—his head was not with his body. More terrible still was the death of Vassilko. The young prince was taken alive by the Mongols. Attractive in mind and in person, his men said of him that whoso had served him would not serve another. He pleased also the Mongols. Batu strove to incline him to friendship. “Oh, dark kingdom of vileness,” answered Vassilko, “God has given me into thy hands, but thou canst not separate me from Christians.” He would take neither food nor drink from the pagans. Enraged at his stubbornness, they killed him most cruelly, and threw out his body to be eaten by wild beasts. The corpse of the young prince was found in a forest, under the guidance of a woman who said that she had witnessed his tortures, and Vassilko was buried with Yuri, his uncle. The headless Yuri, as found on the field of battle, was put in a coffin, but afterward the head was discovered and placed with the body, and the two bodies were taken later on to Rostoff for interment.

After the destruction of Vladimir, Rostoff and Suzdal, the whole principality of Vladimir was ravaged. The lands now included in the governments of Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Tver and Moscow, with a part of Novgorod and Vologda, were scenes of ruin and terror. Everywhere the same marks of Mongols. Such noted places as Tver, Torjok, Volokolamsk, Yaroslavl and Mologa were sacked and burned to the ground, as well as villages and settlements beyond reckoning. The Russians looked on this invasion as a testimony of God’s anger, such an evil as a flood or an earthquake, irresistible and almighty. In small villages, when the Mongols appeared, the people grew helpless from terror; those who could escape rushed away to the forests, secreting their property [238]in the ground; what remained was left to fire and sword. Such boundless woe had never been witnessed in Russia. The surviving clergy throughout the country called on all to prepare for the last hour.

The Mongols cut people down as a mower cuts grass. When they entered a province, they sent out detachments on every side; like locusts, they destroyed everything utterly. Monasteries and villages they stripped clean of all things that had value. From stores of grain they took what they needed, and burned the remainder, boasting that grass would not grow on their path.

A great thaw saved Northwestern Russia. In the first days of March, the Mongols, when within a hundred versts of Novgorod, became alarmed by the swelling of rivers and turned back. Conducting their countless treasures and urging on long lines of prisoners, they moved swiftly southeastward to grass-growing regions. On the way they came to Koselsk, where they met a most stubborn resistance. A detachment attacked the town for forty-two days, but succeeded in storming the place only after reinforcements had been sent by Batu, who was enraged at this resistance. It was destroyed utterly, but its fame will never die in Russian history.

Before the wooden walls of this city, the Mongols lost four thousand men and three princes. When at last they burst into the town, they were met by old and young, men and women, who rushed at them with knives, axes and other weapons, and fought with desperation from house to house, from street to street. Gradually forced back, they retired into the Kremlin, or fortress, and fought till the last man perished. Vassili, the little prince, who was very young, was drowned, it is said, in the blood of the people.

The Mongols called this town “Mo balig” (town of woe), the same name which they gave Bamian of the Kwarezmian Empire, the place at which Moatagan, one of Jinghis Khan’s grandsons, fell pierced by an arrow, and where the young man’s mother, a daughter of Jinghis, rushed in at the head of ten thousand warriors and left nothing alive, not a man, woman or child, destroying even the dogs and cats, slaying everything in her vengeance.

After Batu had established himself in the steppes of the Volga, he began to build Sarai, the capital of his Horde. He cleared the whole country and drove out the Polovtsi. Kotyan, the Polovtsi [239]Khan, took a remnant of his people, forty thousand in number, and settled in Hungary. The king gave him land on condition that he and his tribes became Catholic. The rest of the Polovtsi joined with the Mongols, and from that day they ceased forever as a people in Russia.

Pereyaslavl on the Alta and Chernigoff were doomed now, and all who could leave those two places hurried elsewhere for refuge.

When winter had again frozen the rivers and put snow on the steppe lands, the Mongols set out afresh to capture cities and slaughter new thousands of people. Batu sent a number of his leaders of ten thousand to the north again to search out and finish all places bordering on Vladimir. This work they did thoroughly in December, 1238, and January, 1239. Batu, meanwhile, took Pereyaslavl; destroyed the church of Saint Michael; slew the bishop; killed all who were useless as captives; took whatever belonged to the people and the churches; and moved on Chernigoff. The walls of that city were broken in by hurling stones, each of such weight that five men were needed to lift it. The city was stormed then and burned, the people slain, and every building plundered. One of the younger princes fell with the warriors. The chronicler states that the older princes had fled to Hungary. It is true that Michael’s heir, Rostislav, who had been left by his father in Galitch, and driven thence by Daniel soon after, had gone to marry King Bela’s daughter. Michael, himself, who at this time had taken Yaroslav’s place, in Kief, soon found it impossible to stay there.

When Chernigoff was ruined, Batu commanded his brother to advance upon Kief and make a reconnaissance. From the Chernigoff bank of the Dnieper he saw the mother of cities and wondered at its beauty. Envoys were sent to demand its surrender. The Kief people slew them, and Michael fled from the capital. He went, as he thought, to a safe place, to Hungary, to be present at his son’s wedding. But, learning of the ruin of Chernigoff by the Mongols, Bela would not give his daughter to Rostislav. Michael and his son went then to the Mazovian prince, Konrad.

Bolder than Michael, Rostislav, a Smolensk prince, occupied Kief, now abandoned by others. But Daniel of Galitch would not let Rostislav stay there, and seized for himself the old capital. He did not wait in Kief for Batu; he sent Dmitri, his boyar, to defend [240]the city. Daniel left even Volynia and Galitch, and went to Hungary. From there he went to Poland, for Bela himself was struck with such terror that he fled from the Mongols, and knew not where to find refuge.

In 1239 the whole Russian land, if not yet under Mongols, looked on that doom as inevitable. There was such panic terror that men lost proper use of their faculties. All that interval from December, 1237, when Ryazan was destroyed, till December, 1240, was a time of destruction and captivity, and the end came only when there was nothing to destroy, and all the treasures of Russia were in Mongol hands.

For the people these three years were merged in one unit of time, filled with anguish, terror and despair. It might be said that they had lost the sense and the power to count seasons. That Russian land, which in the days of Yaroslav the Lawgiver and Monomach his grandson had so easily overcome its enemies, and which in the days of Big Nest, Monomach’s nephew, in spite of all its divisions and conflicts, still preserved some appearance of oneness, existed no longer.

On the San and the Dniester there was the same terror of Mongols as on the Desna and the Dnieper. From the north, from Vladimir, from Novgorod, no regiments appeared, and none were expected; no prince came with help, and no man was looking for him. The whole land was as silent as a grave or a desert. The Mongols had not captured Novgorod, but this was because they considered it as subject to Vladimir. They had been sated with bloodshed, and looked on the Vladimir region as thoroughly subjected. To avoid further evil, Novgorod had to connect itself absolutely with Vladimir, and with it carry the weight of the burden. Besides, the distant north was a country without attraction for Mongols. Beyond Novgorod lived the Chud people (Fins), whose lands extended to the shores of the Frozen Ocean. The Mongols did not consider that Novgorod could be the center of a region dangerous to their dominion, hence they left the old capital of Rurik uninjured. If they had had reason to punish Novgorod they would have razed it as they razed Ryazan and Vladimir.

The Kief campaign was undertaken by Batu on a scale that was enormous; with him went his brothers and relatives: Kuyuk, son of the Grand Khan, was there, and Mangu and Baidar, grandsons [241]of Jinghis Khan, also a multitude of famous commanders,—Burundai, Subotai and others. The whole army consisted of more than five hundred thousand men.

After finishing with Russia, Batu intended to pass into Hungary and destroy that country. He had sent a demand for obedience already, and a reprimand to the king for receiving Kotyan with his Polovtsi, whom Batu looked on as slaves who had fled from their master.

As soon as the Dnieper was frozen, the army passed over. The Mongol warriors were so numerous, the squeaking of their wagons so piercing, the neighing of their horses and the roaring of camels so deafening, that men in the city could not hear, as was declared, what they said to one another. First the attackers surrounded Kief; next they built a wooden wall; then they erected their engines and hurled immense stones at the city walls day and night without ceasing. The mother city was defended bravely by its citizens, but available warriors were few; for so short-sighted had the princes been that even when the enemy was on the march they had continued to struggle for succession. When the Mongols had made sufficient breaches in the walls, they rushed through and began a hand-to-hand struggle. The Kief men fought desperately. From morning till evening the battle raged, but toward night overwhelming numbers conquered, and the Mongols held the walls of the city. That night the Kief men made a new wall in front of the first one, even women and children assisting in building defenses, and next day the battle continued. From every house, church and monastery people came out, and fought to the death in all parts of the city. In the churches, multitudes had gathered, and from the weight of the people and their effects on roofs and in the galleries the walls fell. Many perished in hand-to-hand conflict; others were suffocated with smoke; but none surrendered, for all knew that but one fate awaited them.

For several days in succession the slaying of people and the destruction of buildings continued. The Vladimir Church fell; the Sophia Cathedral, built by Yaroslav the Lawgiver, endured best of any; the body of that church remained sound, and there is one uninjured part of the wall, on which is an image of the Virgin, preserved to the present. Of the Catacomb Monastery, the ancient church and walls were destroyed; of the Golden Gate, built by [242]Yaroslav, only ruins remained. The more violently the people defended the remnant of their city, and fought out their last hour, the more joyously did the destroyers carry on the destruction. They slew old men and children to the last one. If in other cities they had taken pleasure in general slaughter and devastation, they took tenfold more pleasure now. The strong places and the sanctuaries of a city were never overthrown with such fury, and never were the Mongols so relentless as in Kief, the city of churches. The destroyers did not spare even tombs; they forced them open, and with their heels crushed the skulls and broke the bones of the ancient princes. The havoc was so great that during the entire fourteenth century which followed, and in the fifteenth century, a large part of the city remained a desert covered with refuse. The remnants of stone buildings which had stood for centuries sank into the ground, dust drifted in over them, and then was concealed all those ruins. Of that Kief which, in the days both of Yaroslav the Lawgiver and Monomach, was compared by travelers with Tsargrad, there remained only the memory. It fell December, 1240, and was never renewed in its former magnificence, even to our day.

The defender of Kief, Daniel’s boyar, Dmitri, was brought half alive before Batu, who repeated these words of praise: “The Russians know well how to drink the cup of death.” He gave him his life, and took the hero with him in his campaign against Volynia and Galitch. The boyar, continuing to serve his prince, strove to lead the Khan from ruining Galitch. He advised him to go quickly and take vengeance on the King of Hungary for harboring Kotyan and his Polovtsi, saying: “It is time to go against the Hungarians; unless thou go now they will gather great forces and exclude thee forever. Their land is a strong one.” Thus spoke Dmitri to Batu, while, in mind, he was weeping over Galitch.

Batu was the more willing to hurry forward to Hungary, since he had learned that Michael of Chernigoff and Daniel of Galitch had gone to that kingdom. This, however, did not change his plan, though it may have hastened its execution, for the campaign against Galitch and Volynia was notable for swiftness. Batu on his way took through falsehood Ladyjin, a town which fought stubbornly and refused to yield. He promised the people in case they surrendered [243]to spare them and their town. At last they respected his word and surrendered. He slew every man to the last one. Kamenyets he passed, because its position seemed impregnable. Vladimir, the capital of Volynia, he took by assault and spared not one person. Galitch he treated in the same way.

Moving from Vladimir of Volynia along the Būg, the Mongols advanced only as far as Brest. There, near the edge of Lithuania, Batu halted. The great swampy forests troubled him and his warriors, and he resolved to turn back. As one more example of cruelty after so many, they destroyed Brest and slew all the people. Then they moved southward.

One division of Batu’s army entered Poland in 1240, ravaged the province of Lublin, and returned with great booty to Galitch. The Mongols reappeared in that country, however, in winter, crossing the Vistula on the ice, but after advancing to within a few miles of Cracow, they turned again toward Galitch, loaded with much spoil and driving before them a multitude of captives, among whom were some of the first people of Poland. They were pursued by Volodmir, the governor, who surprised them near Palanietz, and killed many. Discovering how small the attacking party was, the Mongols turned, made a furious charge, and put them to flight; then they continued their march. Soon, however, they reëntered Poland with new forces. The nobility of Sandomir and Cracow assembled their warriors and advanced to meet the oncoming Mongols, but in the conflict which followed, they were defeated with great loss.

Boleslav IV at this time occupied the throne of Cracow. Fearing to remain in the citadel, he took refuge with his family in a castle at the foot of the Carpathians, and later on in a monastery in Moravia. Many of the aristocracy of Poland followed his example, escaping to Hungary or Germany; the common people sought refuge in the forests, swamps and mountains. The conquerors entered Cracow, March 24, 1241, and set fire to the city, which they found deserted; then they marched toward Breslau, the capital of Silesia, devastating the region through which they passed.

On reaching Breslau, they discovered that it had been reduced to ashes by the inhabitants, who had taken refuge in the citadel with the garrison. The Mongols, after investing the fortress for several days, raised the siege and joined another corps of their [244]army to march with it against the forces assembled near Lignitz, where Henry, Duke of Silesia, was commander of about twenty thousand men. The Mongols were led by a prince (in Polish chronicles called Péta) whose army far outnumbered that of Duke Henry. The defeat of the Poles was complete. Henry fled from the field with but four of his officers; retarded by the fall of his horse, which was wounded, he mounted a second, but was surrounded, captured, and his head cut off. The Polish loss was heavy. It is told that to discover the number of the enemy killed, the Mongols cut an ear from each corpse, and with those ears filled four large sacks.

They now moved forward, carrying fire and blood even to the frontiers of Bohemia and Austria. While one part of Péta’s army besieged Olmütz in Moravia, several corps of it plundered and devastated the surrounding region. Sternberg, commander of Olmütz, made a successful sortie from the citadel, killed some three hundred of the enemy, and returned in safety. A few days later the Mongols raised camp and marched toward Hungary to join the great army under Batu. It was evident that they had besieged Olmütz only for the purpose of pillaging the country round it.

Before marching into Hungary, Batu had written to King Bela, demanding that he yield obedience to the Mongol sovereign if he wished to save his own life, or the lives of his subjects. Bela paid no heed to this demand, and the only measure of defense he took was to send small detachments to hold the passes of the Carpathians.

There was much dissatisfaction with King Bela, for he had no military ability; another cause for the dissatisfaction was that he had received Kotyan, the Polovtsi Khan, and allowed him to settle, with some forty thousand families, in Hungary. The acquisition of this number of subjects increased the power of the king, and the hope of converting the pagans to Christianity gave him pleasure. But these Polovtsi were so displeasing to the people that in 1240 Bela had to convoke an assembly of the clergy, and the nobility of his kingdom as well as the chiefs of the Polovtsi. It was then resolved that the Polovtsi should be dispersed in different provinces, and should be assigned uncultivated districts where they could pasture their flocks and herds. Kotyan was baptized, [245]so also were his chief officers. Still the hatred of the people continued.

Batu penetrated into Hungary by the pass called “Gate of Russia,” and was joined by divisions of his army which had been devastating Poland. Thence he marched toward Pest, and, camping half a day’s journey from that city, he ravaged the country. The people, thinking that Kotyan, the Polovtsi Khan, was secretly communicating with Batu, murmured against the king and demanded the death of Kotyan and his men. They attacked Kotyan, who defended himself for a time, but was at last overpowered and killed. This murder only served to increase the woes of Hungary. The report of it spread to the country, and the peasants fell on the Polovtsi and massacred them without mercy. But those who escaped united and later on avenged their people.

When the Hungarian army had assembled the king marched out of Pest to meet the Mongols. The result of the conflict was most disastrous for the Hungarians. The king owed his escape to the swiftness of his horse. He took refuge near the Carpathians, where he encountered his son-in-law, who was also seeking an asylum in that country.

While these events were passing in the heart of Hungary, Kadan advanced through Transylvania, seizing property, profaning churches, and leading away captives.

The Mongols remained inactive during the summer of 1241, but in December of that year a detachment crossed the Danube and pitched their camp near the city of Strigonia, or Gran. The besieged destroyed all that was most valuable, killed their horses, and retired into the stone edifices to defend themselves. The Mongols, furious at loss of plunder, were careful that no person should escape. They seized and burned the principal inhabitants over slow fires, to make them declare where they had hidden their riches.

At this moment news came to Batu of the death of Ogotai, the Grand Khan, and with the news an order to return to Mongolia at once.

The barbarians had penetrated even into Austria, and a corps advanced to Neustadt near Vienna, but retired on learning of the approach of a large army. After the destruction of Strigonia, Kadan was sent with a detachment against King Bela. Bela, [246]who had taken refuge in Austria, retired with his family to Agram in Croatia, where he remained during the summer. Learning that Kadan was marching toward Agram, he went to Spalato on the Dalmatian coast, and then to Trau. Kadan marched with marvelous rapidity. Halting for a few days at Sirbium River, he assembled the Hungarian prisoners whom he had seized on the march, and had them all put to death. On arriving at Spalato and learning that the king was not there, he advanced at once to the neighborhood of Trau, and camped upon the bank facing the island in the Adriatic where Bela had taken refuge. There the Mongols remained through the month of March, and then, after pillaging Cattaro, Suagio and Drivasto, and killing every man, woman and child who fell into their hands, they returned by way of Herzegovinia and Serbia to join Batu. While on the march Kadan received orders to hasten, as all Mongol princes had been summoned to Mongolia.

Daniel and Vassilko, on hearing that Batu had left Hungary, delayed for a time in returning to Russia. They knew not where their families were, or indeed if they were living, and their delight was unbounded on finding them. On the way home from Poland they could not draw near Brest, because of the terrible odor of corpses. Very little remained of the former Vladimir, and the ruined churches were filled with dead bodies.

Batu, who had brought terror on all Europe by the destruction wrought in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldavia and certain portions of Poland, was not pleased with those lands. The West was too narrow for a nomad people, and Russia became the real province for Mongols. Hungary and Poland suffered little in comparison. Batu pitched his tents and built Sarai, as has been stated, on the bank of the Lower Volga, from where it was convenient and easy to send troops in every direction, and keep conquered Russia in obedience. The Golden Horde, as thenceforth men called the Khan’s residence in Russia, was noted for wealth even in Batu’s day.

Jinghis Khan, who died in 1227, was succeeded by his eldest son Ogotai, who reigned from 1229 to 1241. During that reign, Batu completed his conquest of Russia.

Russia, subject now to the Mongol, learned that a new sovereign had appeared in Mongolia, but Batu, the grandson of Jinghis [247]Khan, remained their ruler. To him was given entire control of the “Kipchak Horde,” his possessions extending from a line somewhat east of the Ural Mountains to the Danube. He now counted all the Russian land as his property, and declared to its princes that they might not live on the Khan’s land unless they bowed down to him.

Thus began the heavy yoke of the Mongols, which was to last for more than two hundred years.

Mongol law touching subjects was brief, being this, in substance,—that not only their families and property, but their lives were entirely at the Khan’s disposition. This law, universal, fundamental, unchangeable, was applied to all conquered regions. It was inevitable to give each year one tenth of the harvest and one tenth of every kind of increase. Every man was liable to military service with the Mongols against whomsoever they might send him. Bashaks were appointed in every large town to see to the accurate fulfilment of these duties, and to keep in obedience both people and princes. At first princes left in power by the Khan were bound to appear at the Horde with yearly tribute; besides they were summoned whenever the need came. They must appear with bending knees, and bowing, and striking the earth with their foreheads. They were forced to give special gifts to the Khan, to his wives and his courtiers.

When coming before the Khan, various ceremonies had to be observed. For instance, when entering his tent, each man had to cross the threshold without touching it; if he touched it death was the penalty. But before being admitted to the eyes of the ruler, princes were obliged to go through many trials by wizards. They were forced to bow to fire, to bushes, to the shades of dead Khans; to pass between two fires while the wizards and witches who lighted those fires pronounced incantations.

As this bowing to bushes and fire and the shades of dead rulers took place before pictures on felt and on silk, it seemed like bowing to idols. They had also to praise Mongol customs, to drink liquor made of mare’s milk, and eat of Mongol dishes. The least show of repugnance or indifference involved peril. But, since effect was felt keenly by Mongols, kindness and terror alternated. They knew at the Horde who the men were from whom they must withhold honor, and to whom honor ought to be given. Rulers of [248]regions under Mongol dominion, but remote from Sarai and bordering on lands which were free, were received more politely than those who were nearer. The following has been stated by a man who observed the position in Batu’s day: “The Mongols take less tribute from those whose lands are remote from them, and border on others which are free, and from those whom they fear for some reason. They treat those remote subjects more kindly, so that they may not attack, or that others may obey with more willingness.” The cruel and savage Batu was sometimes fond of charming those princes who bowed down before him, and of showing magnanimity in treatment, and at such times he seemed the most kindly host possible.

Though all Russia was under the Mongol, the yoke weighed with greatest burden on the lands in the center; that place which was the real heart of Russia, and had formed the principality of Vladimir. It was unspeakably more difficult for Yaroslav to manage than for princes in Volynia and Galitch. After Kief had been swept from the earth, so to speak, or crushed into it, and Batu had shown no wish to take Hungary or Poland, Galitch and Volynia, as being nearest those countries, were in the easiest position of all the principalities in Russia.

Batu, in his first campaign, did not touch Smolensk in its western portions, and in the second he did not go beyond Brest in a northern direction. In the princes of Volynia and Galitch he had his last representatives. On the west was the country which for their own reasons the Russians represented to Batu as little dependent on their rule, in fact a foreign region, and purposely they called it not Rus, but Litvá. Thus of all Russian princes, the position of Daniel was most favored with reference to the Mongols. As to his rival in Chernigoff, Prince Michael, his possessions might have been called non-existent. Chernigoff and Kursk were in the worst position possible, because nearest the Mongols. Hence after the conquest, Daniel and Michael were, each in his own way, distinguished beyond other princes in Russia.

Daniel knew not from childhood what rest was, and only in years of ripe manhood, after endless toil and great effort, did he secure Volynia and Galitch on the very eve of the Mongol tempest, to appear next in a fateful position from which he found no issue whatever. His principalities, which comprised the borderland of [249]Southwestern Russia in the days of Kief supremacy, were attracted to the ancient capital from the earliest, but as the Russia of Kief times existed no longer, and as Northern Russia had been turned into a Mongol possession, the ruler of Volynia and Galitch had to do one of two things: either compact his lands into a new and special body and stand apart from the rest of Russia,—alone he could not stand, for he would be obliged to associate himself willingly or unwillingly with his western neighbors, the Poles and Hungarians, and, as they were in close connection with the Holy Roman-German Empire, he might not stand apart even from union with that power (he might be forced to join Rome, the Latin communion),—or he had the other issue: to recognize and strengthen the ancient bond of Volynia and Galitch with the remainder of Russia, with that Russia which had begun in Rurik’s day in Novgorod, and which was baptized in the Dnieper under Vladimir. But in this case, he would have to suffer Mongol captivity with it, and sacrifice his own land for the benefit of the common, much suffering country. He would have to cling to the princes of the house of Vladimir, who had been turned into slaves, and bear with them the same bitter burden which they were bearing. His Orthodox feeling forbade him to join Rome and the West. But to join the other Russian princes and the rest of the Russian people in their subjection to the Mongols was also beyond his endurance; his pride could not brook that, so he languished all the rest of his life in a position without escape and without moral refuge.

Hungary and Poland, crushed by the Mongol invasion, were saved only because those countries were too narrow for the nomad Mongols, who wanted the freedom of movement and the space which existed in Russia. But the Hungarians and Poles, proud of their safety, though defeated and led away captive in every encounter with Mongols, explained the affair in another way: the West was no longer afraid of a Mongol invasion. Rome, which had tried in the time of Daniel’s father to bring “the kingdom” of Galitch to the Latin religion, did not cease now to point out to Daniel, with pride, the freedom of the West from Mongol subjection, and to promise that if he would obey the True Mother he would have a right to the same freedom. The Pope explained to Daniel that the only means of saving his country from that [250]slavery which had been put on it because of its schism, was “to return” to the bosom of the Mother. He promised in that case the assistance of Poles and Hungarians and the whole Roman Empire, and offered at the same time a crown and a kingly title. Daniel refused the title and the crown, but asked very earnestly for the military assistance. He asked that Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, and all who obeyed the Holy See, should be roused to a general attack on the pagan Mongols. Rome summoned all nations against the Mongols, and to Daniel came assurance that aid from the West would not be slow in arriving.

Of Russian princes Daniel alone reigned a number of years without a summons from Batu to visit the Golden Horde. He had paid no tribute and had not been to the Khan with obeisance. But the promised aid from the West came not, and in 1250 envoys arrived from Batu, who repeated the message sent to other Russian princes: “It is unbecoming to live on the Khan’s land, and not bow down to him.” To this was added: “Give Galitch.”

Daniel might give Galitch, withdraw to the depth of Volynia, and be satisfied with half his inheritance; besides the country beyond Brest was unconquered. But after praying earnestly, and counseling with his brother, Daniel said: “I will go to Batu.”

When Daniel reached Kief, he saw dreadful misery. He prayed to the Archangel Michael; he implored the monks to pray for him, and then sailed down the river to Pereyaslavl. Hence he went directly along by Mongol stations toward the Golden Horde, and he grieved greatly when he witnessed the pagan ceremonies in the Russian land. In places Orthodox for centuries, men worshiped fire, bowed down to the sun, moon, earth, and dead ancestors. Beyond the Volga and near Sarai, he was troubled still more when he heard how at the Horde they would force him to pagan observances. By that time most other Russian princes had been at the Horde, and the Mongols declared that not one of them had violated the ceremonies established for receptions. One of the officials said to Daniel: “How great is Prince Yaroslav of Vladimir, but no exception was made for him. He bowed to the bushes, and thou wilt bow.” Daniel spat, and said: “The devil speaks through thy lips. God close them to guard me from hearing such utterances.”

But Batu, in addition to saving Daniel from all that might seem [251]like the worship of idols, greeted him pleasantly, and with unusual kindness. When the prince, led into the Khan’s tent, bowed in a way that seemed to humiliate him, Batu said: “Daniel, thou wert long in coming, but thou art here and thou hast done well to come. Thou art ours now. Take our drink.” And they brought him a goblet. The prince emptied it and bowed, repeating the commonplace words which all princes uttered on similar occasions: “God gave thee power. I obey thee through God’s will.” He bowed again, and begged to salute the Khan’s consort. “Go,” said Batu, and he added when Daniel was about to leave, “Thou art not accustomed to milk; drink wine.” And when he was taking farewell of the Khan’s wife, they brought a goblet of wine to him from Batu. They detained Daniel at the Horde a shorter time than was usual for princes. After confirming all his rights in Volynia and Galitch, they dismissed him with courtesy.

Great was the delight of Daniel’s family when he returned to them unharmed. His success was mentioned on all sides. That summer the King of Hungary sent this message: “Take my daughter for thy son Lev.” The king feared Daniel because he had visited the Horde, and besides, on the San, he had beaten the king’s son-in-law and expelled him from Galitch. When the wedding took place Daniel restored all captive Hungarians. Thus he and the king became friendly. Roman, another son of Daniel, married Gertrude, a daughter of the late Duke of Styria. Roman now claimed Styria as the dowry of Gertrude. The King of Bohemia, whose queen was a daughter of the same duke, also claimed this inheritance.

Daniel, with Boleslav of Poland, Bela’s son-in-law, campaigned against the Bohemian king. He did this to make friends in the West, and thus get rid of the Mongols. He tried to induce his western neighbors to join him, and for this purpose he entered their circle of action. But from beginning to end, every promise of aid proved futile,—empty sound, nothing more. The Pope saw very well how fruitless were his efforts. Not only in Germany, but in Hungary and Poland his messages were unheeded. At last Daniel left papal promises unanswered. Then a legate was sent to deliver the crown to him and anoint him king in Western fashion. It was not the first time that they had come to Daniel for this purpose, but he had set them aside with various excuses. For example, [252]he had said earlier to the legate that it was no time for coronation when his lands were in danger,—not a crown did he need, but strong warriors. But now the papal envoy found Daniel at the place and time most convenient for his object, namely, at Cracow, on the way from Bohemia to Galitch, surrounded by his allies after a victory and the capture of a city.

He refused this time also, saying: “I am in a foreign land.” But the papal legate, Polish princes, and magnates urged Daniel to take the gift offered. His mother, a Polish princess, insisted also and helped to influence him. “The Pope respects the Greek Church,” said the legate, “and curses all men who offend it. He is about to call a council to unite the two Churches. Aid will come from the Pope very quickly.” The Polish princes promised with every solemnity, and their magnates promised with them, that after Daniel had taken the crown they would march against the Mongols.

In 1253, Daniel was crowned in Drogitchin. His subjection to Rome was complete, as it seemed to Polish princes. But, breaking all solemn promises, neither Poles nor Hungarians made a move to march against the Mongols.

The following year Batu, who had been watching, and understood perfectly Daniel’s problem, sent an envoy renowned for his keenness, with a command to raze and destroy every fortress in Volynia and Galitch. Never had he commanded the Galitch prince so decisively, as if to show the world that he knew the situation and was master of it. Daniel, understanding well that no opposition could serve him, withdrew to Volynia, and sent Vassilko, his brother, and Lev, his own son, to meet Burundai, the keen envoy. “Raze your fortresses!” said Burundai. And all were destroyed at his order. The walls of Vladimir in Volynia, though of wood, were so strong and immense that there was no chance to tear them down before the coming of the envoy, hence they were burned by Vassilko immediately. Such promptness was praised by Burundai, who even dined with Vassilko on that day. But when this envoy departed, another one came, who said: “Burundai has commanded me to level your entrenchments.” “Accomplish the command,” said Vassilko. Baimur and his men filled every trench, and leveled all the earthworks surrounding the walls of Levoff, a city which Lev himself had founded, and which was called after [253]him. Burundai now ordered both princes to make a campaign with him. Adding to his own men warriors from Volynia and Galitch, he attacked Lithuania; then he took Vassilko against Poland and visited the districts of Sandomir and Lublin.

With such a turn of affairs, Daniel had cut off all relations with Rome; he was therefore not a little astonished on receiving a new reprimand from the Pope for his lack of obedience to the Holy See. To this he made no answer.

Not loving Galitch, the capital with which were connected so many memories of boundless deceit and disturbance, Daniel founded Holm, a new capital, and built a number of Orthodox churches. Thenceforth he passed his life in sorrow, for his position was one without issue. He was in a charmed circle without power to solve the riddle of his condition; he could look at it with terror, but he could not escape from it. In Holm he died in 1266, and was buried in the church of the Holy Virgin which he had founded. The honor Daniel received from Batu wounded his spirit so that his words touching this were recorded: “Oh, worse than woe is honor coming from Mongols.” A similar blow had he received at Drogitchin, through that gift of a crown bestowed with deceit and in spite of him. [254]




Michael of Chernigoff wished to show how a Russian prince could bear himself when in despair over the ruin of his country, and when he felt that a Christian could not live under Mongols. Unlike his family, Michael was not noted for mental endowments. He had been ambitious; he had sought power as keenly as others and more than once had begged pardon of Daniel, saying that he had not kept his oath; but, with all his human failings and weakness, he preserved in his soul with more vividness than many the testament, “I am a Christian.” He had been in some ways distinguished. To begin with, he was an only son, and, according to family tradition, a son given in answer to prayerful entreaties. He and the wife of Yuri of Vladimir, that princess who had perished in the burning church and the blazing city, were the two children of Chermny. In addition to general weakness, he had suffered since childhood from a seemingly incurable disorder, which subjected him to marvelous illusions. He sought relief in vain and was unsparing of outlay. The greatest physicians of that time were powerless; no help could be found for him. At last, by the prayers of a saint, he was freed from the disease. He was cured by a miracle before age settled down on him.

Michael heard that in Pereyaslavl Nikita, an old man, was living on the top of a pillar, and was saving his soul there. The prince took with him two intimate boyars and some attendants, and went to that land beyond the forest. Never had he been so troubled with hellish attacks, never had they so tormented and overcome him as when he was nearing the place where Nikita was winning salvation. He had dreadful visions, and when awake he was as if demented. The boyars who were sent to Nikita to inform him of Michael’s arrival, received from the saint a staff [255]with the command to give it to Michael. The prince took the gift and from that hour he was freed from his trouble. He went to the pillar serenely, and a blessing was given him. On the place where his tent had stood and where he was cured, the prince erected a cross, and wrote on it the date of his recovery, May 16, 1186. A chapel stands on that spot to-day. He gave liberal gifts to the Pereyaslavl monastery, and returned home to be well ever after.

If, to such peculiarities of Michael in youth, we add other traits, they are those forms of his kindly disposition which touched even the hearts of the stern men of Novgorod, when he was prince in their city. They never forgot that when they crushed Michael’s enemies, who were partisans of Yaroslav, son of Big Nest, Michael did not let Novgorod drown one of those persons in the Volkof, or inflict death upon any man. Besides, the prince did not take any property from men whose effects were subjected to seizure; he persuaded Novgorod adherents not to divide for their own use the goods of the guilty, but to use them for the public good. Later on those men boasted that they had taken nothing, but had used all to build a second bridge in the city at the persistent advice of Prince Michael.

In 1245 this only son of Chermny, and grandson of Sviatoslav, “the sister’s son,” was in such a position that the fate of other princes could not be compared with it for hopelessness. Through nearness to the Golden Horde his inheritance was a part of the immediate possessions of Batu, and, speaking correctly, Michael had nothing left to him. His wife, a sister of Daniel and Vassilko, had found a refuge with her brothers; the husband of his only daughter, Vassilko, son of Constantine of Vladimir, had been killed most cruelly, and later his widow became a nun in Suzdal. All of Michael’s near relatives had lost their lives mercilessly. His only son, Rostislav, was more a cause of suffering than of pleasure. As has already been stated, he was betrothed and about to marry a daughter of King Bela. Michael went to Hungary to be present at the marriage, but the king, upon hearing that Chernigoff was utterly ruined, changed his mind very quickly, and father and son found it well to leave the country.

Michael felt bitter pain in his heart at this proof of the falsehood and selfishness of mankind. But when the king himself had been [256]struck by the Mongol tempest, he changed his mind and agreed to the marriage. Whether Michael consented this time or not, he did not go to the wedding. Still, out of love for his son he could not refrain later on from a journey to see the young couple. He experienced then a new sorrow and a suffering far greater than that which had struck him the first time, for King Bela and his son both turned from Michael: the first from his daughter’s father-in-law, the second from his own father.

Having lost all in this world that was dear to him, Michael returned to the ashes of Chernigoff, accompanied by only one faithful person, Feodor, his intimate boyar. Each now took an oath to the other that he would give an example of how men will die if there is Christian faith in them. This was at the time when Batu had declared to all Russia that he considered its subjection accomplished, and invited the princes and common men who had fled and were then in concealment to come back to their places, and live as was proper for subjects. Up to the time of that declaration towns, hamlets and villages were deserted. Men had settled down to live among wild beasts, and were hiding wherever concealment was possible. When this announcement was made by Batu, the people returned to the ashes of their dwellings, and the princes explained to them what would now be their duties. Those of the princes who were left assembled from all parts of conquered Russia and went to Batu at the Horde. There they begged him for the power which had so recently been their own. And to each who bowed down before him in submission, and according to Mongol ceremony, the Khan gave the place which seemed good to him.

Michael did not go to the Horde to get power in Chernigoff. He had no desire now for the deceits of this transient existence; he went to lay down his life among Mongols, but he wished to so die that his death would be a sermon to Russia, and strengthen the souls of all Christians. He said to Ioann, his confessor: “I wish to stand with him before Batu,” and he pointed to Feodor, his boyar. “Many go to that place and accomplish the will of the pagan,” replied Father Ioann. “Being tempted by this world’s deceitful glory they walk between fires, they bow down before the sun, trees, and other objects. Do that not, O Michael, but declare before pagans that it is a sin to worship things created.” [257]“With the aid of thy prayers, holy father,” said the prince, and the boyar, “as is pleasing to God, so will it be in our action. We wish to shed our blood for Christ’s holy teaching.” Ioann blessed them for their high undertaking, and added: “If ye will appear as new martyrs in our wild, sinful century, do this for the strengthening of people.” With faith and with many exhortations, the priest gave them additional communion bread to take with them, to use in case of need, and blessed the two men for the journey, saying: “May God give you strength, and send His holy Spirit to uphold you.”

When Michael reached the Horde, and announced his arrival, Batu commanded the wizards and witches to present him in the usual way. They led the prince and his boyar toward the Khan’s residence, and soon they saw a multitude of people, Mongols, Russians and others. Some were bowing to fires and bushes; others were muttering words and looking at the sun, or gazing at the fire. Women were whispering toward the fires and throwing into them chips of food, scraps of cloth, silk, and satin, bits of down, and little bundles of fur plucked from costly peltry brought as presents to the ruler. All things brought as gifts were first made pure by this ceremony of burning. Then the wizards told those to be presented to the Khan how they should pass between the two fires and be purified.

Wizards now came to Michael and Feodor and asked them to approach. But when they neared the fires and saw people passing between them, Michael halted. “I think,” said he, “that we ought not to follow.”

The wizards urged. “We are Christians,” answered Michael, “and will not worship any created thing. We will not go between your fires, and will not bow down to idols.” These bold words put an end to the pending presentation. The two men were led aside and left in peace.

Batu, when informed of this refusal to conform to established ceremonies, sent to persuade Michael with kindness. The Mongols knew how to soften orders by decreasing ceremonial so much that disobedience would seem simply stubbornness. Batu sent a man of high degree named Eldage, who had great power of persuasion. “Why offend the Khan?” asked Eldage. “Is anything difficult demanded?” But Michael would not bend to idols. “Why not [258]carry out the Khan’s directions?” continued Eldage. “Only refrain from offending him and thou wilt be honored; thou wilt receive thy principality. Whoso will not bow to the sun is not worthy to look at it. Why not bow before fire? Preserve thy life; receive thy principality. If thou wilt not carry out the Khan’s orders, think what will happen to you.”

But Michael was immovable. “Because of our sins, God has given us to you,” said he. “Say to the Khan from me: ‘I bow to thee, O sovereign, because God has given rule to thee and this world’s glory, but I will never bow to that which these people are worshiping.’ ” “Let it be known to thee,” broke in Eldage, “that thou hast lost life already.” “I am willing to die for Christ,” replied Michael.

But even after this, Batu gave some chance for pardon. Many Russians now came to Michael and endeavored to change his decision. Most important of all was Boris, his own grandchild, his daughter’s youthful son, the first born of Vassilko, son of Constantine, and grandson of Big Nest. The Russians began imploring and persuading Michael not to risk life for mere ceremony. His grandson fell at his feet. “O my father, my lord, bow down, do the will of the Khan,” begged he, weeping. “God himself sees,” added the boyars of the young prince, “that thou art constrained and not acting of thy own will. Would He take account of such an action?”

“I do not wish to be a Christian in name,” replied Michael, “and yet do the deeds of a pagan.” The boyars denied not the sin, but they took it from him. They said that since he had given a promise to suffer for Christ they would take on themselves that promise and obtain pardon. The young prince clung to his grandfather; he begged, he implored, and wept. Eldage saw with pleasure that Michael was weakening, and said nothing further. But Feodor, the boyar, fearing lest Michael might falter at sight of those who were imploring and weeping, led him to one side and spoke thus to him: “Remember the words of Ioann, which he took from the Gospel: ‘Whosoever will save his life shall lose it.’ Remember also the words: ‘Whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my father, which is in heaven.’ ”

All surrounded Michael again, and again they entreated. “No, no,” answered Michael; and on a sudden he loosened the sword [259]from his side and hurled it to a distance. Then he slipped from his shoulder the princely mantle and threw it away from him, saying: “Take the glory of this world, I want it no longer.”

Eldage’s delight became anger, and turning in rage to Michael, he said sternly, “Life or death, choose now between them!” Those were his last words. “I am a Christian,” replied Michael. “Go and say to the Khan that I will not go between fires, I will not bow down to idols.”

Eldage walked away, leaving all in deep sorrow. Michael and Feodor read the psalms; those who were near made the sign of the cross with them. No one used arguments now. Men saw how Michael and Feodor took the communion bread which they had received from the priest Ioann, and brought with them.

Suddenly the people cried, “They are coming! they are coming!” A party of horsemen rode up. These were the men sent to kill Michael and Feodor, who were repeating aloud, “Thy martyrs, O Lord, who have not rejected Thee, suffering for Christ’s sake, undergoing many torments.” The executioners rushed at Michael, stretched apart his arms, and throwing him to the earth backward, they fell to beating the old man with fists on the breast and near the heart, with much violence. When he was half dead they turned him face downward and jumped on him, stamping with their heels till life left him. They had to murder him with blows, and not with the sword, since that was the Mongol method with princes. The corpse was then decapitated by one of the Mongol spectators. This man proved to be a thief and a renegade from Russia, who had gone over to the enemy. He whispered afterward to the boyar: “Bow down and thou wilt live. Perhaps they will give thee Michael’s dominion.” Feodor made no answer, but turning to the executioners he said: “I am ready to follow my prince.” And he was killed also.

It was the Mongol custom to give the bodies of their victims to the dogs to be eaten, but the multitude of Russians living at the Horde gathered them nightly, when the dogs were loosened, and prayed above them. Thus the bodies of the martyrs were saved, and taken to Chernigoff, where they rested till Tsar Ivan Vassilivitch wished to have them. The bodies of Michael and his boyar are now in the cathedral of the Archangel Michael in Moscow. [260]




After Yuri’s death on the Siti, in 1238, the Vladimir throne of Dolgoruki and Big Nest was taken by his eldest brother, Yaroslav. Yaroslav thought of his birthplace in that splendid time when his father’s power covered Russia, and his capital, with its magnificent edifices, was considered as the chief of all cities. In his youth he had shared with Yuri, his brother, in the deeds and humiliation of that time when the first place among princes was won by Mystislav the Gallant, who took the Vladimir throne and gave it to their eldest brother, Constantine, after that prince had been deprived of seniority by Big Nest, because of disobedience. In manhood Yaroslav had worked with Yuri at one time, at another against him, in Chernigoff and Novgorod. He had ruled in Pereyaslavl; he had ruled in Novgorod many times in succession, and in Kief more than once.

Yaroslav’s previous life had passed, not merely without fruitful action, but even in action which dimmed his reputation. It had passed in barren wars, which were for the greater part the mere wanton, fighting amusement of princes. Only in riper years, when, in time of bitter slavery, he held the throne of Vladimir under Mongols, and when he had passed through the woe of the Russian land in common with all people, did he redeem his past errors and receive that respect which made his name memorable and won for him that love which he could not obtain earlier.

When Yaroslav returned to Vladimir the people met him with grateful tears and a touching delight, with prayers to the Almighty and with thankfulness. All saw in him now a prince who had suffered with the people, and a still greater merit was this,—that he was ready to suffer with them in future. Everything that had happened before the Mongol tempest seemed now very distant, [261]a past gone forever, but a past with its terrible relics. What Yaroslav had seen while returning to Vladimir was ghastly to look at and remember. He had passed through places worse than a desert. Vladimir was one half destroyed, one half charred and blackened. There were dead bodies everywhere,—in the streets, in the houses, in the churches. Yaroslav’s first task was to cleanse, to clear out and purify, to bury the dead; clear away the ruins; summon the people from forests and dens of concealment; to struggle with hunger, which threatened to increase, and with pestilence, which follows closely on hunger; to restore order; and begin anew to establish that which had been created by generations of labor and had been lost in that one Mongol horror.

Novgorod, which had survived, owing to the fact that the Mongols considered it a part of Vladimir, now by necessity became more nearly connected with the capital; besides the destruction and ruin of Southern Russia had greatly affected Novgorod by barring the road to princes from Kief or Chernigoff. Above all, by a marvelous provision, Alexander, son of Yaroslav, rose now among princes, and his immense work in those days of anguish strengthened Northern Russia and saved it. When Yaroslav in 1237 undertook to reign in Kief, he seated in Novgorod his son, Alexander, who later on was famous for his victory on the Neva, which gave him his second name, Nevski. Though Alexander became Novgorod’s favorite, that city could never live long in peace even with the best of its princes, and Alexander thought more than once of leaving the place. In 1240 he went away with his mother, the daughter of Mystislav the Gallant, his wife, and his court to Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest. Then when at the city’s request Yaroslav sent his second son, Novgorod wanted Alexander back. At that time the Mongols attacked anew, wasting Murom and towns on the Klyazma. There was terror again in every place, so that no man knew how to save himself. Then envoys from Batu came to Yaroslav, demanding his presence with the tribute of Vladimir. Yaroslav, doing all things demanded, went to the Horde with Constantine, his son, and some boyars, taking with him the tribute. Batu received his declaration of obedience with courtesy and commanded that he call himself Prince of Kief. “Be the head of all,” said Batu, and Constantine Batu sent to bow down before the Grand Khan in Mongolia. [262]

Constantine spent more than a year and a half on his journey. After Yaroslav had submitted to Batu, the other princes followed his example. The Khan confirmed those subordinates and the Mongol yoke was established, with all its burdens increasing in weight as each year came.

The tribute was not appointed at first with precision, but the Khan declared that he would send men to arrange all things, and describe the Russian land. It would be evident then what the income would be for each principality.

When in 1245 Constantine returned from Mongolia, where he had found favor with the Grand Khan, Batu summoned Yaroslav a second time. Ogotai, the Grand Khan, was now dead, and in his place Kuyuk, a son of Ogotai, was reigning. To his enthronement went many vassals, all subject rulers, also Khans, relatives of Jinghis. Batu sent his brothers to this assembly, but did not go himself. Being sovereign in the Horde, one part of which was found in Asia, while the other extended deeply into Europe, he thought himself next to Jinghis, even when that mighty conqueror was living, and now, after the death of Ogotai, he felt nearer to the Grand Khan than ever. To increase the splendor of the festival, he sent his vassals to represent him, selecting from all those who ruled under him only the great ones. Hence he commanded Prince Yaroslav to visit Mongolia.

Yaroslav, crushed more by misfortune than by his fifty-five years, found it difficult to endure this long, torturing journey, but he went without murmuring, understanding well that safety for Russia was to be purchased only by unconditional obedience to the will of the conqueror.

Beyond the Caspian were monotonous sand plains. In reaching Central Asia he had to cross stretches of dry and parched land, waterless regions without inhabitants, where many of his men died while struggling with drought and great spaces. In the Kwarezmian kingdom they met ruins of cities; plains covered with skulls, bones and skeletons, monuments of Jinghis Khan’s terrible slaughters. On these endless expanses, Yaroslav met legions of many tongued people, all of whom, in common with Russians, were under the Mongol yoke. Beyond Kwarezm stretched boundless deserts and steppes. Again new trials and a road unspeakably difficult and exhausting, along which were [263]still other traces of Jinghis Khan’s triumphs. And again and again Yaroslav was met by the ever present conquerors, commanding subject tribes.

But all that he suffered on the road seemed as nothing compared with what he had to see and endure at the Mongol capital. Kuyuk had assembled all subject sovereigns, so that of rulers and the highest persons near them four thousand were present. The gifts which those persons brought with them formed whole camps filled with treasure. Of silver and gold alone there were five hundred wagon-loads. During the time of festivities, Yaroslav was not merely a witness of feasts, he took part in them. Among guests they gave him the first place, and distinguished him by a goblet of honor. But that special “honor” shown Yaroslav was of the kind given when a victor honors the chief among many captives, and from this honor he died somewhat later.

At the end of the festivities, when Yaroslav had taken farewell of his hosts and was on the eve of departure, he died suddenly. Considering the place, no one thought his death natural. Each man of the Horde knew well from observation that whoever came there depended on fate for salvation. There were so many Khans and Khan’s wives and they had so many relatives that it was hard to please all, nay, impossible. No man could answer this question: “Have I succeeded?” No man could discover the springs through which decisions were made and brought to fulfilment.

It was noised about in the Horde that Yaroslav had been poisoned. Some thought that the Mongols did not like his strong influence at home, and would not let him go back to Vladimir; others said that his own relatives had calumniated the Grand Prince to Batu, and Batu had written about him to Kuyuk, that stern-faced and marvelous Mongol, of whom it was said by his intimates that no man had ever seen a smile on his face, or heard a jest from his lips. This Grand Khan had been gracious to Yaroslav, but it was whispered most cautiously that Kuyuk’s mother, Turákina, had given Yaroslav a cup of honor with her own hands at parting, and poisoned him. His faithful boyars brought back his body and buried it at the side of his brother, and of Big Nest, his father.

Yaroslav was not distinguished for civil, or military exploits. He was not renowned for one of the great deeds [264]in history, but his name became memorable and is honored to this day in Russia. In him men saw the first prince who, insulted by pagans, bowed with humility before a Heaven-sent misfortune, and who did not fall into despair through empty pride, or through personal haughtiness. They saw in him not a conquering prince, but a man who with suffering and grief bowed down and beat the earth with his forehead before the savage Mongol, in order to save Russian people. His image was fixed in the national mind as the image of one who had suffered for Russia, as a prince whose lot it was not to magnify himself, but to endure insults for the sake of those under him. In the popular mind, he was the first of those men who humbled themselves to save others.

At that time all Russians looked on Mongol subjection as a terrible misfortune, as something that could not be avoided in any way. It seemed at first to be the fate of the country. Nothing bright or gladsome could be seen ahead for ages, no light of salvation, even in the distance. Captivity, the yoke, the Mongols, such was the cruel period which began when Yaroslav had reached advanced manhood. In addition, they gave this as praise to him, that he had inspired in his children, especially in Alexander, the same kind of fortitude in suffering, and had left as a testament to that son to seek salvation for the people through devotion. This thankful memory of the prince, who had given the first notable example of humility and firmness in misfortune, lived in his descendants for generations.

When the great-grandsons of Yaroslav had lived at last to the hope that God would free the Russians, they honored more than their fathers had the memory of their great-grandfather, the sufferer who had died in Mongolia, who had in his day, with much weariness, warded off ruin from Russia.

In the terrible time of Russia’s captivity under Batu, Yaroslav’s son, Alexander, the favorite son of Feodosia, daughter of Mystislav the Gallant, appeared next as the savior of Russia. He had before his father’s death become celebrated for discretion, for magnificent valor, for victories and for kindness even to enemies. He was unbending and severe only to crime and disobedience. One of the most noted knights of the West, who was sent by the Livonian Order to confer with Alexander, said on his return: “I [265]have traveled many lands, and seen many sovereigns, but such a man I have not met thus far.” Batu in his old age at the Golden Horde, said, after he had received Alexander Nevski: “The truth has been told me; there is not another prince like Alexander.”

Nevski was never defeated in battle, and never made any man his enemy. But this was the wonderful trait in him; neither among princes nor other men was any his equal in humility. The Mongol yoke was a terrible test of submissiveness and endurance. When the Mongols had strengthened themselves, and had become firmly established, the yoke became the more difficult to carry. The people believed that it had been inflicted by Providence, and looked on it as a punishment for the injustice of many generations, but no man understood this belief of theirs so well, and felt the consciousness of Russia, as did Alexander Nevski. The younger princes were too inexperienced, too proud to comprehend the position, and bend to it. The strongest of these, Daniel of Galitch, blushed for shame at being tributary to the Mongols, and instead of meeting them with humility, took measures which were useless and vain, measures which ended in nothing. Alexander’s career as a prince began in his childhood. In 1228 he was first made prince in Novgorod at eight years of age, when his father was disputing with Michael of Chernigoff. Later on he was prince in Novgorod a second time, when his father returned to the ruins of Vladimir. By being in Novgorod, Alexander was undoubtedly saved from the sword of the Mongol.

In 1238, when eighteen years old, Alexander married a Polovtsi princess. From the wedding feast he was forced to go to the banks of the Sheloni, where there were many and bloody attacks of the Chuds, urged on by the Germans of Riga, and led by them, aided also by Lithuanians at the direct and indirect instance of the Knights of Livonia. These attacks became more and more threatening, and at last were insufferable. Alexander defeated those invaders, but at this time new enemies showed themselves,—the Swedes, who strove to rouse the more eastern tributaries of Novgorod, and to fix their power in the Chud regions, where St. Petersburg now stands.

The Mongol yoke, in addition to other evils, roused all the enemies of Russia to greater activity. The Livonian Knights put aside every ceremony, and their haughtiness went beyond bounds. [266]They seized for all time, as they thought, the lands named by them Esthonia, and threatened to take Pskoff and even Novgorod. The Pope demanded from Waldemar of Denmark, the destroyer of Wends, and from the Swedes, too, a campaign against the “faithless Ruthenians.” He demanded the subjection of Russian lands bordering on Sweden, so that all might be brought to the one true religion.

In 1240, when the Mongols were marching on Kief, Swedish ships entered the Neva and closed the old Russian way to the Baltic. The Chud tribe, Ijora, long subject to Novgorod, was defenseless; the Swedes claimed the whole country. The Swedish king’s son-in-law, Birger, sent this message to Alexander: “If thou hast courage, come hither; I have taken thy land and am occupying it.”

Novgorod lands were now in great peril and a cry of discouragement rose throughout the city. Novgorod regiments were summoned immediately, and the city sent to Yaroslav of Vladimir for assistance. But Alexander would not wait for reinforcements; he was satisfied with the moderate forces of Novgorod, and was ready to set out at once. After mass in Holy Sophia, the bishop went to the square with Alexander and blessed him for action. Then the prince said to all, in the words uttered on that same square by Mystislav, his grandfather: “God is not with might, but with justice.”

The Ijoras greatly feared Swedish supremacy; this fear gave them strength in the encounter, and the Swedes, though they outnumbered Alexander’s men, were defeated decisively. Alexander himself did not leave the battle-field all that day of July 15, 1240. He was in the most dangerous places, guiding every movement of the army, and left the mark of his own weapon on Birger’s face. Night saved a remnant of the Swedes, who sailed away in the darkness. So the fame of Alexander sprang up in that dreary time of Mongol captivity, in that day of general suffering and helplessness, and his countrymen of the South and East, crushed in spirit and on the verge of despair, found some consolation in the fact that their brethren of the North had been led to victory by their prince, who alone had success in that time of trial. After this battle the people surnamed him Nevski (of the Neva) in reward for his bravery and this great victory, the anniversary [267]of which was for three centuries celebrated throughout Russia with solemn memorial services.

But if the Swedes were forced to give peace for a time, the Germans of Riga had no wish to respect the boundaries of Novgorod. The Livonian Knights acted as pleased them along the Pskoff borders, and roused subject tribes against Novgorod whenever they found it possible. Soon after the battle with the Swedes, Nevski, as now we may call him, could not agree longer with Novgorod, hence he retired to Pereyaslavl with his wife, his mother, and attendants. The complaints made by Novgorod were those made against all Vladimir princes, namely: “They wish to connect Novgorod lands with their own, and that is impossible. What has gone to the Vladimir prince is his, and what is of Novgorod belongs to Novgorod. In Volok and Torjok, for example, the princes were to maintain one half the tax-collectors; one half were to be appointed by them, and one half by Novgorod, but they manage all the work with their own half. The princes entice Novgorod men in numbers to go to Vladimir, and in Novgorod places they settle Vladimir men. Besides, they acquire villages by purchase and by gifts, and in exchange they take in their own names, and in the names of their princesses, villages belonging to Novgorod. They permit their followers from Vladimir, and their other favorites to act in the same way. Places in Novgorod which have been assigned to the princes are managed by Vladimir men, and not men of Novgorod. Such things must not be!”

Another part of those complaints was regarding meadows given up for the personal use of the princes, their hunting and fishing grounds, and bee places. It was also asserted that the prince built his own towns on Novgorod land; that he governed, judged and managed Novgorod without considering the posadnik; that he took places from Novgorod men and gave them to outsiders without consulting the posadnik. In view of all these accusations and quarrels, Nevski refused to govern, and left the city.

The Livonian Knights had seized Pskoff, where that most disorderly son of a disorderly father, Yaroslav, son of Vladimir and nephew of Mystislav the Gallant, was active. He had been taken prisoner once and sent captive to Pereyaslavl, but was freed somewhat later. With him were associated certain Novgorod traitors, who were in Pskoff, and these men now, for the second time, went [268]over to the Germans of Riga. By the help of such traitors, the Livonian Knights not only got possession of Izborsk and Yurieff, but of Pskoff also, and those deserters were rewarded by being made posadniks and managers. Now the Germans demanded children as hostages from the loyal Russians of Pskoff, from fathers of families, and those children were taken to Riga. When they were, as they thought, firmly settled in Pskoff, the knights roused those Chud tribes which they controlled and broke into Novgorod regions. Already they had conquered the two tribes connected with Novgorod, and had erected a fortress, Koporia, at Lake Ladoga.

Novgorod men turned, with a prayer for assistance, to Yaroslav of Vladimir, asking him to send his son Alexander to them. But Nevski refused with decision, so Yaroslav sent Andrei, a younger son. To others enemies were now added Lithuanians, who ravaged in various directions south of Novgorod, while the Germans with their Chud subjects came within thirty versts of the city. They seized all the cattle and horses, so that earth-tillers had no animals to work with. The Novgorod men sent to Yaroslav a second time, saying: “Give thy son Alexander, we pray thee.”

Their prayer was heard. Nevski arrived, and all was changed quickly. A good army was assembled at once. Men of Ladoga, Karelia, and Ijora went under his banners with gladness. Alexander razed the fortress of Koporia to its lowest foundation, and defeated the Germans; some he sent as prisoners to Novgorod, others he set at liberty. Strict and stern judgment reached only those Chuds who had gone over to the enemy. Spies and men who had given information to the Germans he hanged as a lesson to the others.

Many persons came then from Pskoff with accounts of the terrible disorder reigning there. They begged Nevski to free them, not only from Germans, but also from traitorous Russians. The Germans dissembled no longer. What they had taken, they said, was now sacredly theirs, and they would never give up what belonged to them.

In 1241 Nevski occupied all approaches to Pskoff, and then captured the city itself. The neighboring Chuds, who had deserted to the Germans, he pacified strictly. He took possession of their country and burned it. Some of the people he cut down where he [269]met them; others he took captive. Those Russian friends of the Germans, who were posadniks in various places, he put in chains and sent to Novgorod for imprisonment. The worst among spies and informers were put to death. The worthless, treacherous Prince Yaroslav, who was related to Nevski by his mother, humiliated himself and left the enemy, and Alexander sent him to Torjok to fight against Lithuanians.

Thus Pskoff was freed from the Germans, and from traitors. The Livonian Knights would not acknowledge this position and war with them became unavoidable. These knights of the Sword boasted that with one blow they would end every Russian success; they would not let the Slav language dominate the German; Nevski would be taken alive to serve as a spectacle. It was said that the Bishop of Riga himself would appear with his warriors, and from Wenden and Fellin all the forces of the Order were coming; that the Danish king was sending assistance.

Nevski, not wishing a siege in the city, marched out of Pskoff to meet the assailants. A small detachment of Pskoff men sent forward to forage met such defeat that it brought all to terror. Their voevoda and others were slain, many people were captured; a mere handful came back with the tidings that the enemy was near in great strength. Nevski turned then to the Chud lake, to that spot known as Voroni Kamen (Raven Stone), and fixed his camp near the cliff there. It was at the end of March, but winter in that northern country was still in full vigor. The Pskoff lake had strong ice on it and the whole region about was still snow-covered. The Germans came with a large force. The whole power of the Order was present, and they brought all their subject tribes with them. The two armies met on the Pskoff lake. But this time the Russians were not few in number: new regiments had come. Yaroslav had not left his son unassisted; Novgorod troops had been sent under Andrei, his brother, and reinforced by these warriors, Alexander was strong, and all were rejoiced to be under him. Courage was great among Nevski’s men. “We are ready to die for thee. The day has come to give our lives for the cause!” said his warriors in one outburst. Alexander had the gift of inspiring his men with confidence both in him and in their own ability to meet the enemy successfully. Before the battle he prayed: “Judge, O God, and give sentence between us and our haughty [270]opponents. O, give us not to suffer from the noisy tongue.” And he made the sign of the cross. A like prayer was on the lips of all his warriors.

This renowned battle began on Sunday, April 5, at daybreak. From the vigor of the struggle and the multitude fighting on both sides it was called a slaughter, and from the place where it was fought on the lake it was called “the Ice Slaughter.” “The conflict was stubborn and very venomous,” says the chronicler. “The rattle from the breaking of lances, and the clashing of swords was as if a frozen sea had broken its ice and was fighting furiously with the pieces.” The Germans rushed into the battle confident of victory and proud of their skill. They advanced boldly with their wedge, which the Russians called in derision “a pig snout,” or simply “a pig.” Pressing heavily on, they succeeded in breaking through one of the regiments, but Nevski struck the side of this wedge, bending the rear of it, and the ranks were thrown into confusion; they had no place of refuge; they were driven seven versts and utterly defeated.

More than four hundred famous knights fell in this battle; fifty more were made prisoners, and most of the Chuds were either slain or taken captive. The Master of the Order fled with a poor remnant of his forces, and, trembling for Livonia and Riga, sent messages to Denmark immediately, imploring the king to rescue the Holy Virgin of Riga from the “faithless Ruthenians.”

All Pskoff went forth with images, crosses, and banners, to meet Nevski. After this great victory Alexander returned to Novgorod, where envoys from the Order soon appeared with homage, and spoke thus in the name of the Germans: “We yield Pskoff and other towns which we have taken with the sword. Prisoners we will exchange for our men whom you have captured.” Peace was concluded on these terms.

As Livonia and Sweden belonged to the Latin religion, Nevski’s fame was heard throughout Western Europe. In Rome at this period they had not for a moment lost sight of one of Russia’s strong men, Daniel of Galitch, and now they turned sharp attention to Alexander Nevski.

Lithuanian raids not only did not cease after Nevski had sent the worthless Yaroslav to Torjok, but that prince himself came near being captured, while trying to repulse them. The Tver men [271]joined this prince at Torjok, and suffered a dreadful reverse there. The Lithuanian bands killed a multitude of men, took herds of horses, and, with animals and prisoners, hurried homeward. Pursued to Toropets, they seized that place, and, entering it with all their booty, thought themselves safe behind strong defenses. But Nevski hurried from Novgorod, took Toropets, seized the prisoners, saved the booty, and killed or captured all the Lithuanians. Some he slew while attacking the city; others while they were fleeing. He destroyed eight bands of those invaders, then he dismissed the Novgorod men and with his own following set out for Vitebsk, where his little son Vassili lived with relatives of his mother. On the way he came upon many bands of Lithuanians, which he exterminated. Taking the boy from Vitebsk, he turned toward Novgorod. On the road to that city he met new bands and crushed them. Seven times did he crush Lithuanians. After that they feared Nevski and dared not annoy him.

Alexander, now famous in many countries and nations, had not as yet been troubled by Batu, who considered him a subject. In this way he had an exceptional position among all the princes, though he did not hold himself free, and grieved greatly over the sorrow and suffering of Yaroslav, his father. Still, as a prince of Great Novgorod, where his palace was near the cross-covered dome of Sophia, he, with the Novgorod people, could still say: “We have not been conquered by Mongols.”

At the Horde they were satisfied for the time with Yaroslav’s obedience, and made no demand on Nevski. But they were waiting for the moment in which to summon him with greatest emphasis. Only after Yaroslav’s death did Batu’s words come to Nevski: “Does Alexander not know that God has subjected to me many kingdoms and peoples? Will the Prince of Novgorod be alone in opposing my lordship? If he will preserve his lands intact and uninjured, let him come hither to look at my rule in its glory and honor.”

Alexander in every weighty question of conduct sought counsel from spiritual advisers. At this time in Russia two men named Cyril enjoyed special confidence. One of these was renowned for his difficult and peace-bringing labors; he was Cyril, a native of Galitch, and at that time Metropolitan of Kief and all Russia. The second Cyril was Bishop of Rostoff, and was then in Vladimir. [272]To this second Cyril Nevski went for advice touching one point: Should he go to Batu or avoid going? Had he the strength to endure torments which would be inflicted most surely if he would not reject Christ the Saviour in case they required him to do so? He did not trust in his own strength completely. Alexander opened his mind thus to Cyril. The bishop encouraged him to go, and to die if the need came, but to avoid death were that possible.

Alexander went to Sarai and met with high favor. His younger brother, Andrei, had been at the Golden Horde earlier. All then remembered how firm Russian princes could be on occasions; they had not forgotten Prince Michael of Chernigoff and the way that he died when his hour came.

The prompt coming of Alexander pleased the aged Batu, who did not force him to bow down to the sun or to fire. Moreover, he praised him before his own favorites. Still Alexander and his brother, Andrei, were commanded to go and bow down to the Grand Khan in Asia.

The two brothers, with dismal forebodings, set out on the journey which had caused the death of their father; they were more fortunate, however, than he, for they returned to their country uninjured. Each brought with him different impressions. Whether going or coming, Andrei did not cease to exhibit his hatred of Mongols and his anger at the general obedience given to that people. “Is it possible that we are to be forever friendly with pagans, and serve them? Better leave all and escape to other countries.” So thought Andrei. That this was his mind was shown by his deeds performed later. Alexander, at every step through the great destructive land of the Mongols, became sterner and more and more thoughtful, as if he were beholding the sufferings of his father as he passed through those same deserts and sand plains.

After an absence of less than two years, Alexander returned, in 1249, with a face of stern thoughtfulness and an expression which had changed altogether the youthful appearance of him who had conquered at the Neva and the Raven Stone.

Where each prince was to reign was a difficult question in Russia at that time. The will of the Khan, if not the only law, was at least the supreme law for princes. The old rules were both observed and rejected. The man who found in those rules [273]his own profit sought to make others observe them, but if they obstructed his way, he tried to ride over them. The Khan could appoint whomsoever he pleased to hold any place; all knew that very clearly, hence enterprising young princes worked against their seniors. At the Horde appointments were given not unfrequently through respect for the ancient Russian law, to which princes appealed in petitions. But if a petitioner was unable to retain the place given him, the Khan might or might not assist him.

In a word, confusion was common during the early years of Mongol dominion. Nevski had no direct reason to strive for the throne of Vladimir. He, like all the sons of Yaroslav, was second to his uncles, the brothers of his father. Sviatoslav, the eldest of these, to whom Yaroslav had given Suzdal, was confirmed by Batu as Prince of Vladimir. But, as if to prove that in this gloomy time every right was confounded, Sviatoslav had barely assumed power when there appeared among his nephews an unprincipled, ambitious prince who dispossessed his uncle of the throne and seated himself there immediately. That was Prince Michael, Nevski’s youngest brother. For his boldness they called him “Plucky Michael.” But his rule was short, for he was soon killed in battle by Lithuanians. Being the youngest of Yaroslav’s sons, Michael had not received a large portion,—he got only Moscow. While guarding this little province he met Lithuanians near the Kaluga, frontier on the Potva; from that small river his corpse was brought back and buried in Vladimir.

This quarrel between uncle and nephew occurred while Nevski and his brother Andrei were journeying to Mongolia.

But the death of Prince Michael did not restore rule to Sviatoslav, his uncle, who, freed from one rival, met another straightway. Nevski would not oppose his uncle, though he might have done so with some show of justice, for his father, when Grand Prince, had given Suzdal to Sviatoslav as an inheritance.

The Vladimir principality came to Nevski as Yaroslav’s eldest son. Though Sviatoslav had taken Vladimir as against his brother’s children, and had been confirmed in this by Batu, the “Plucky” had not been slow in ejecting his uncle. Now, after Michael’s death, Vladimir was princeless. Nevski did not care, as it seems, for Vladimir at that time, and would not contend for it. Andrei [274]had a different view of the question; he would not yield to his uncle, and strove at the Horde to supplant him. Batu for some reason found it unjust to return the principality to Sviatoslav; so he gave it to Andrei. But he remembered that Nevski was older, and Andrei did not deny the fact, hence the Khan made this decision: let Nevski be Grand Prince of Kief and at the head of all princes; let Andrei be Prince of Vladimir. Thus, because of the title given Nevski at the Horde and by his seniority, there were two so-called Grand Princes in Russia in 1250, but the Prince of Vladimir was the real Grand Prince, since his was the Grand Principality.

That such a position was impossible became clear very quickly even to Mongols. But for the time Nevski was silent, and ruled not in Kief, but in Pereyaslavl, when not in Novgorod. His heart was too heavy and his soul too greatly tortured to fight about places with his uncle or his brothers. He would not contend at the Horde with other princes. He had an important object of his own, though at that time he thought it not attainable.

To Novgorod, where Alexander lived mainly, came an embassy from Rome like that which had once gone to Daniel of Galitch. The envoys were two cardinals of distinction. The Pope informed Nevski that these men were skilled in speech and fitted to teach the law of God perfectly. They brought a letter from “His Holiness,” which mentioned the Livonian Knights and Rome’s ceaseless care in protecting Christian lands from savage races, and stated that the Pope wished to incline Prince Alexander to receive the teachings of the Latin Church, and show obedience to the See held by God’s vicegerent. “The greatest ruler,” wrote the Pope, “is not lessened, but exalted through obedience. Hence we persuade thee, O prince, to recognize the Roman Church as thy mother, obey her first priest, and bring all thy subjects to join us. Know if thou take advantage of our disposition we will exalt thee among other princes to the very pinnacle of glory.” To convince him the more, the Pope assured Nevski that Yaroslav, his father, had died in the Latin communion. “From Plano Karpini, our envoy sent to the Mongols,” wrote the Pope, “we received news that thy father gave obedience to the Church. This would have been known to the world had not sudden death seized him. In view of that happy death it is clear that he is in communion [275]with the blessed, a happiness which we wish thee to share with him finally.”

That Plano Karpini saw Yaroslav in Mongolia is undoubted, for in his writings he describes the visit to the Grand Prince minutely, and how he knew him, also Yaroslav’s death, but of this conversion there is not a syllable.

Nevski received the envoys, but avoided discussion. He informed them that he would take counsel and give an answer in writing. The Pope was encouraged by the fall of Byzantium and the rise of Baldwin’s empire, which forced the Patriarch to Nicea, thus hindering communication between him and Russia, and also through the conquest of Russia itself by the Mongols. Hence his hope to win the two most important Russian princes, Daniel of Galitch, and Alexander Nevski.

Daniel at first roused in the Pope hopes which were not justified later. Nevski on the contrary gave absolute refusal at the outset, and thus relieved the Pope from further explanations. He consulted his spiritual advisers and prepared a written answer stating briefly and clearly: “We know sacred history; we adhere to the teachings of the Apostles, and the traditions of the Fathers. We follow the seven ecumenical councils, but we do not recognize your teaching.”

In his letter the Pope praised Nevski because he had not recognized the Khan. It is hardly possible that the West knew not of Nevski’s journey to Mongolia, for the Livonian Knights knew that he had been there, and whatever they knew Rome knew also. Nevski did not see how peace, power and glory could come to Russia through papal supremacy, but to hear the Pope’s statement that the West could not think of Nevski as a subject of the Mongols must have grieved his spirit. It reminded him, who had tamed invading Germans at the Raven Stone and elsewhere, that he must bear the Mongol yoke on his shoulders. The gloomy vision was not brightened by the fact that he, a Grand Prince of Kief, had no domain whatever, and that Andrei, his brother, through whimsical rule in Vladimir, was ruining power where it really existed. In the Horde itself the friendly Batu was growing senile, and it was evident to all men who knew the situation that power was slipping from him. But those eager to rule at the Horde had not yet ventured on action. Sartak, Batu’s son, was reigning [276]in his father’s name, and though Berkai, his uncle, was threatening Sartak, even with death, neither the son nor the brother had real power.

Ulavchi, Batu’s favorite, was the man who managed every affair at the Horde. Whoever went to Sarai at that period, however much he pleased Berkai or Sartak, could do nothing, unless first of all he gave presents to Ulavchi, and came to an agreement with him. Toward the end of his long life Batu became so feeble that for two or three years before his death no one heard of him; it was as though he had already ceased to exist. By some accounts he died in 1255, by others two years earlier. It was difficult to tell who held power at Sarai during that period. No matter where one looked, disorder was evident.

In Vladimir, Sviatoslav, the uncle, still struggled with his nephew, and ceased not his complaints at the Horde. Andrei, that nephew, continued to boast of his hatred toward Mongols, and to rouse Russians against them. He did not go regularly with the tribute, and he decreased the sum each time. He disturbed people’s minds; he not only roused opposition to tax collectors, but, as if to exhibit his feelings, he met them contemptuously and annoyed them. He did not restrain the expression of popular hatred, which was great of itself, but strove to excite and extend it. At the Horde the baskaks made complaint of the prince and were bitterly dissatisfied.

Andrei blamed Alexander for inactivity, and persuaded their brother, Yaroslav, to join him and give an example to their elders that they were not to be friends or servants of the Mongols. (Yaroslav was Prince of Tver later on, and from him came the line of Tver princes who fought so stubbornly with Moscow.)

At Sarai the gloomy disorder of the Horde was increasing, and, with the utmost humility that a man could exhibit in submitting himself to demands there, it was impossible to get a just arrangement of affairs in Russia. No matter how Sviatoslav struggled, Mongols paid no attention, for he was poor in comparison with others. But his nephew, Andrei, when he appeared at the Horde with obeisance, scattered gold before those whom he found there of use to him. Notwithstanding all his keen hatred of Mongols, he even exchanged hospitality with the most important ones, that is, with those who “had influence,” and the complaints raised by tax collectors against Andrei were left unconsidered. [277]

Thus passed one year of his reign, and the second began, which for him ended badly. It was reported that they were ready at the Horde to settle with Andrei severely. A detachment of Mongols, commanded by Nevruya, was sent to Vladimir, and the meaning of such a military promenade was well known to all Russians. The following was the Horde statement concerning the prince: “Andrei has no fear in his heart; he offends and annoys those men sent from the Horde to him. The Khan has commanded to punish him. What has been done with the gold and silver which Andrei has collected? Everything written in his letters and all that he has quoted is false. Let him feel Mongol anger because of his insolence. He might have lived in truth and honesty, then no evil would be done in his country; his people would not suffer. But now let every harm come. Let his people perish!”

In such straits as this what could Nevski do? He could not defend his foolish brother. Andrei himself knew well that Alexander could not act against the Mongols. On hearing of Nevruya’s march, Alexander rushed to Sartak, at the Horde. Whether he went of his own will or at the call of the Khan is uncertain. Hitherto he had avoided visits, no matter what honor might come from them, but this time his decision was quick and effective. The Khan, in his anger, had sent a detachment of Mongols to Vladimir. What could he do to allay that anger? Of course he could tell the whole truth to the Khan without concealment, but it would injure Andrei. He could excuse Andrei only by laying the blame on his youth and his lack of good sense. This he did, and succeeded.

Soon after his return an event occurred which sent him again to the Horde. Sviatoslav, his uncle, fell ill, and died somewhat later. While alive this uncle was senior and demanded the Vladimir principality. Alexander would not act against Sviatoslav. Michael had seized the crown from his uncle; Andrei held it not through his right or by force, he held it through the Khan’s pleasure. But a clear road to the throne was now open to Nevski. A younger brother should not be preferred to an elder. By his foolish conduct Andrei had incurred the Khan’s anger, and with it great suffering for the country. Alexander could remain silent no longer. He begged the Khan to recognize him as Grand Prince and guaranteed peace in Vladimir. [278]

They saw at the Horde that his right was undoubted. Still they wished at the same time to punish and give a sharp lesson to all who might need it. The command had been given; the Mongols had already set out on their “promenade.” Alexander remained with Sartak, who was then ruling. He preferred to intercede from time to time in so far as was possible, and not to witness the bloodshed and suffering in his birthplace.

Nevruya sent his commanders, Kotya and Olabuh, with a legion of warriors to plunder Suzdal. Andrei complained of the indifference of other princes, some of whom he said served the Mongols against their own brothers, and others were like Sviatoslav, his uncle, who on a time summoned eaters of raw flesh to help him against his own people. “O Lord!” exclaimed he, “how long must we fight with each other and bring in Mongols?”

Nevruya reached the walls of Vladimir, but Andrei and Yaroslav had left the city before his arrival. The Mongols overtook them in Pereyaslavl, where Andrei gave battle, preferring to fight in Alexander’s territory rather than in his own. The battle was stubborn, but it was won by the Mongols. Andrei fled to Novgorod, and thence to Pskoff, but through fear of the Mongols neither city would admit him. Then he went farther, either beyond the Baltic or to Riga, taking with him his princess, the daughter of Daniel of Galitch.

Yaroslav, after this vain attempt to assist Andrei, saved himself by fleeing first to Ladoga and thence to Pskoff, but his wife was killed and his children were taken into captivity. The Mongols inflicted great suffering and slaughtered a multitude of people. Those who were able to escape fled, and, scattering through forests, lived among wild beasts, as men had lived during Batu’s invasion. Nevruya withdrew after that, and Alexander returned from the Horde to Vladimir, where his first work was to collect the people, and resettle ruined places. [279]




In 1252–1253 Alexander Nevski began rule and was the real successor of Yaroslav, his father. When Andrei had grown weary of exile, he begged Nevski to intercede for him at the Horde. Meanwhile Sartak, Batu’s son, had been murdered, as is said, by Berkai, his uncle, who took the Kipchak throne and waited confirmation from Mangu, at that time Grand Khan.

Again all Russian princes had to visit the Horde and wait to have their titles confirmed. Alexander sent his nephews, Glaib and Boris, with rich gifts to Ulavchi, the favorite. The gifts were accepted and Andrei was forgiven, but Nevski himself had to go to the Horde with his guilty brother to receive the formal pardon.

The eternal enmity in Novgorod between the strong and the weak; the rich and the poor; the rooted hostility of haughty merchants and opulent traders to craftsmen and land-tillers; and the rivalry among the ambitious for power and offices raged unceasingly. From of old a large number, and at times a majority, were attracted to the Russia outside of Great Novgorod. There had long been partisans of Vladimir among Novgorod boyars, men who thought it well for their country to act with Vladimir and even to be merged in it, but there were also implacable opponents to either coöperation or union, and these nourished hatred for Vladimir at every hazard. On the Vladimir side were all the more or less well-to-do people, the peace men. Therefore it seemed as if the adherents of Vladimir were only the well-to-do, and the satisfied, who cared not for the poor; but this was not the case. On the side of Vladimir were the land-tillers and common folk.

When Nevski took power in Vladimir he placed his eldest son, Vassili, in Novgorod. Vassili could not oppress Novgorod; he was too young for such action. He was, also, a real Novgorod partisan, [280]as he showed later on by contemning his father. These partisans were supported by the mob of the city, men without houses, with nothing to lose at any time, and nothing to gain except what they could win through disorder. They were advocates of the loudly lauded “Novgorod liberties.” They appeared, though untruly, as friends and defenders of working men. But working men saw in boyars who “loved liberty” their chief and main enemies. They saw in them persons who sought liberty for themselves, but not for “small people.” Among these boyars were the very rich, the proud, who recognized no man beyond their circle. In all riots, no matter how many there might be, these great and rich persons directed the councils and managed the city. Some of them claimed to love liberty and poor men; others did not go that far. But in cases of riot both divisions of those “great people” strove to hold the street mob at command. They put forward bold rioters, who cared not for small or great persons, but found profit in disorder. And when during encounters the people came to examine the question at issue, or had at last to interfere in those matters, such confused causes were presented that it seemed beyond human power to explain them. Each side appealed to the rights of Great Novgorod and the good of the people, but the people could never find out the real cause of the disturbance, or where there could be any profit for them in the turmoil.

Just such a riddle was offered in the case of Vassili, son of Nevski. There was a party in Novgorod which had pretexts at all times for rousing the people, and beclouding good counsel. As Mongol oppression increased and taxes and tribute grew heavier, oppression of all kinds gave designing men chances for evil incitement. They needed simply to shout: “We are defending our liberties against cursed eaters of raw flesh. Away then with favorites of the Khan, slaves to Mongols!” and the conflict would begin.

In 1255 Novgorod disturbers summoned Yaroslav as prince to their city. Nevski was astounded when he heard that his son had been driven away in disgrace, and that his place had been given to Yaroslav. Why could Yaroslav serve Novgorod better than Vassili, unless because Yaroslav was in disgrace at the Horde, and under the Khan’s anger? Nevski moved at once against Novgorod. In Torjok, where he met his son, he learned still newer details of the riot from Novgorod men, who had come out to [281]meet him. The city was terribly excited, disorder had taken unusual proportions. Yaroslav had fled when he heard that his brother was coming. The posadnik at that time was Anani, a well-known opponent of Vladimir. The adherents of Vladimir, who were, of course, favorable to Nevski, strove to allay the excitement, and bring back Vassili, but they also had an object apart from this: their leader was Mihalko Stepanovitch, whom they wished to make posadnik; therefore they accused Anani of causing the disturbance, and tried to expel him from office. Mihalko appeared boldly against his opponents, and the people were divided. It seemed to uninformed observers as if Mihalko’s adherents were seeking merely for the profit of boyars. “Were they not mainly those rich men, who cared not for poor folk, while Anani’s adherents were simple men, standing up bravely for liberty and the honor of Novgorod?” The excitement became greater and greater. Nevski, having drawn near, sent a command to Novgorod to put an end to the riot, and give him Anani. Through this the excitement was not decreased, but heightened immensely,—nay, it became general. The outbreak was involved by the fact that Anani, though a known enemy of Vladimir, proved to be innocent this time. The disturbers on both sides had abused his name greatly. One party promised to die for him, the other to throw him into the river, and drown him. Some declared that the whole riot was made to protect their good guardian and defender, while others represented him falsely as the banisher of Vassili, and the father of every known evil. Those in arms against Mihalko encamped at Nikola, and swore to die for Anani.

When Nevski was approaching, they asked of one another, “What shall we do?” and finally resolved not to surrender any of their people. The “small folk” kissed the cross, declaring: “We will defend Novgorod rights and live or die for them.” When Nevski commanded them to surrender Anani, all were confused, and, not knowing what course to pursue, they went to Dolinot, the archbishop, and counseled. They knew Nevski’s persistence, they knew that when he had once taken a position he would not retire from it, and to the demand these words were added: “If ye will not yield me Anani, I am no longer your prince, I will march straight against you.” They decided at last to beg Dolinot, [282]and Klim, the commander, to go to Nevski in the name of all Novgorod, and say to him: “Come, Prince, to thy throne and give no ear to offenders. Work thy displeasure on Anani and others.”

The two men went to Nevski as ambassadors. All waited their return with impatience. The prince listened neither to Klim nor to Dolinot. When they returned and announced their failure, there was sorrow on both sides. In the meeting which followed, people said with one voice: “It is a sin for those men who have brought us to quarrel with Nevski.” They came almost to bloodshed, and if blood did not flow the whole merit belonged to Anani. Mihalko with his men was ready to fall on Anani’s adherents, but Anani sent secret observers to note all that was happening. When the adherents of these two men came to blows, and the mob rushed to burn the house of Mihalko and kill him, Anani stopped them, saying: “Brothers, if ye wish to kill him, ye must take my life from me first.”

The third day after this, Nevski’s forces stood fully armed before Novgorod. On the fourth day he sent again a message to the city, but now it was changed somewhat: “Remove Anani from office, and I will forgive you.” All yielded willingly, and Anani himself before others. They gave the office to Mihalko, making peace with Nevski on his own terms. Prince Vassili was seated in Novgorod again, and his return should have pleased the city, since his reign was not without profit. The Riga Germans, and also the Swedes, had begun new attacks on the Novgorod borders, and frequent raids were made by the Lithuanians. Vassili won victories over all these enemies. The Lithuanians were crushed; the prince pursued them far west of Toropets. The Germans withdrew before the Pskoff warriors, and the Swedes were badly defeated.

This new attack of the Swedes disturbed Nevski, hence he came to Novgorod with large forces, and commanded the city to assemble fresh regiments. The point of his intended attack was kept secret. Cyril, Metropolitan of Russia, came with him, and conducted the prince and his troops to Koporye. From there he sent him on his journey, after blessing the warriors, who learned then that their campaign was to end in that region where in summer the sun does not set for six months, and in winter does not rise for the same [283]length of time. This locality—the country of the Lopars, later called Lapland by Germans—was the remotest part of Novgorod possessions, and was visited rarely, for it had not been assailed hitherto by the enemies of Russia, but about this time the Swedes were endeavoring to take those lands from Russia, and connect them with Sweden.

This was among Nevski’s most striking campaigns. Marching along difficult cliffs and through dense forests he finally reached the sea. The wearied Novgorod men now refused to go farther, though they had made but half the journey, so Nevski sent them home and finished the campaign with his own personal followers, who were as untiring and fearless as their prince. He won all the seacoast, and returned bringing a multitude of prisoners, and leaving the country behind him in fear and obedience. Nevski’s men had before this pushed through the gloom of Yatoyag forests; they had made paths through wooded swamps in Lithuania; they had suffered from blizzards in Trans-Volga regions; they had endured all kinds of hardship and toil in campaigning, but they had seen nothing like that which they experienced in this war against Chuds and Lopars (Fins and Lapps). Nevski had now marked with his sword, for the use of coming ages, the Finnish boundary of Russia.

Whenever Nevski went to the Horde he was distinguished beyond other princes; they did not detain him too long; they granted his requests, and dismissed him with honor. When he brought with him Yaroslav, his brother, as he had brought Andrei earlier, the Khan forgave Yaroslav, who after that remained quietly in his own possessions. And when an order came from the Khan to send forces beyond the Terek near the foot of the Caucasus, the Russians were freed from this service at Nevski’s request.

The prince suffered more and more from those visits to the Horde. In former days he seemed stern and serious after each of them, but now he seemed worn and exhausted. His health did not promise long life to him. The demands of the Mongols were increasing, and soon a decision was published which brought all men to despair when they heard it. No one had power to set aside or change this decision. The Khan commanded to take a great census, to count all his subjects, and increase his income by imposing [284]a head tax. This time Nevski’s intercession was useless. The greedy master of the Horde insisted on his decision, adding that such was the will of the Grand Khan. Mangu had in fact commanded to enumerate all men and things under Mongol dominion.

Officials of the Horde appeared first in Ryazan and in Murom. There they counted the people and described the land minutely. Dues were imposed upon all men except the clergy. Town and village property, and occupations were described in this census. The officials went thence to Suzdal, Rostoff, and Vladimir. One year and a second had passed before they finished. They did this work with great care, without haste, and most accurately. Next inspectors appeared to ensure the close gathering of the tribute and taxes. All this time an ominous sound was heard coming from Novgorod, though there had been order in the city since the second installation of Nevski’s son, Vassili, now sixteen years of age and well conversant with the affairs of that place.

Nevski was observing the census carefully everywhere, in places ruled by others as well as by himself. His labor in studying this work took much of his time and strength.

In the winter of 1257–1258 the Mongols were sent to Novgorod to enumerate the inhabitants and property of that place. When the officials were leaving Vladimir, Nevski gave them as assistants a number of his own men, but he did not go himself, since he wished to hear from his son before further action. While he was waiting for news, the chief Mongols came rushing back to Vladimir in anger. How they had been offended in Novgorod no man could learn from their account and their outcries. With a great din they attacked the prince, saying that they had gone to Novgorod believing in his word, but if they were to be treated in this way they would throw aside everything and go back to the Golden Horde straightway.

Nevski, seeing clearly the danger, summoned his brothers, Boris from Rostoff, and Andrei from Suzdal, but only with great difficulty could he detain the Mongols. At last, however, they consented to return to Novgorod, if accompanied by Nevski and his brothers. The Grand Prince, upon approaching Novgorod, was surprised that his son did not come out to meet him. Most of the Mongols had followed their superiors to Vladimir, only a few [285]had remained in the city; these declared that no census had been made, and added: “We know not what is happening.”

The posadnik, Mihalko, had been killed,—Anani had died a few months earlier. Some said that Prince Vassili had declared to the people his willingness to die for the liberties of Novgorod; others said that he was not in the city. A second posadnik had been chosen, and killed. Klim, the commander, they had driven out of Novgorod.

When Vassili heard that his father was coming, he had in fact said to the people: “They are bringing fetters to put on us. Let us die for the liberties of Novgorod!” He had been taught these daring words by boyars. But after uttering them his courage failed and he fled to Pskoff with these same boyars.

Nevski wished to march against Pskoff without waiting, but the Mongols would not permit it; they feared to part with him. Novgorod then sent the following message to the Mongols: “Honor from us to the Khan, and to you. We have gifts for him, and for you also.”

Nevski now turned to Pskoff with this message: “Send back my son and all the traitorous boyars immediately.” The guilty men were sent back, and, knowing that Nevski was not mild with offenders, they looked for dire punishment. “To evil men an evil end,” said the people. “These boyars have brought Prince Vassili to sorrow.” All in the city expected that one would be hanged, and another beheaded. The authors of these troubles were, in fact, cruelly punished. Some had their eyes put out, some had a hand cut off, others had their nostrils torn away, their tongues cut out, or their ears taken off; Vassili was put under guard and sent to Suzdal.

The Mongol officials, well pleased with this punishment, and with the rich gifts of the city, promised to make no complaint to the Khan; they would either be silent, they said, touching what had been done, or would mention it mildly. So those officials were pacified, and brought to good humor.

Novgorod had chosen Misha as posadnik, but he had been murdered during the disturbance. They now selected Michael; a third man, Jiroha, was appointed as commander to succeed Klim, who had been driven from Novgorod. The people begged [286]Nevski not to leave them without a prince. Many Novgorod men had recently visited Vladimir; some of these had gone on errands, and some had been sent by Nevski to see how obedience was rendered the Mongols in that city. Hearing from the people there all the terrors of Nevruya’s “promenade” they knew well the meaning of a Mongol census invasion. Some of these men, on returning, informed their friends that if Novgorod would not yield to the census, a Mongol host would come quickly, and bring woe to the city; others reported dread tidings: Mongol forces were marching already. Novgorod grew quiet at once, and the leading citizens decided to permit the census to be taken. Because of this decision, Nevski was able to satisfy the Mongols, and he begged them not to delay or defer, but to carry out the Khan’s will immediately. They consented, but required that the Grand Prince himself should stay with them.

When the census officials appeared to begin their work again in Novgorod and districts around it, the promise to yield was as if it had never been given. When the officials stepped out of sleighs, and were assigned the best houses to live in, and the Mongols made ready to pass from street to street, and from house to house, an ominous murmur went up throughout Novgorod. In all districts near the city there was disturbance and uproar. Men ridiculed the Mongols, and spoke evil words to their faces. The censors, in alarm, asked Nevski to protect them. He sent guards to their houses, and among these the son of the posadnik. But neither posadnik nor commander had meaning for Novgorod malcontents. Not only were common people terribly excited, but the chief men fell into two parties opposed to each other. The Khan’s officials threatened to abandon their task altogether. Nevski was forced to stay with them always. The people grew still more excited: “We will die for Holy Sophia!” was their watchword. The Mongol officials turned to the boyars, repeating suggestively: “Permit us to take the census, or we will leave Novgorod!” The boyars laid all blame on the people. The Mongols turned then to Nevski, with these words: “Why should we stay here longer? Your people will kill us.” On the square louder and louder were heard threatening voices. “Let us resist to the death! Whoso is just let him join us!” The crowd of people felt sure of their rights and complained: “The rich command [287]to count our heads. They make everything easy for themselves, but evil for small folk.” There was a roar throughout the city: “We will die for justice!” All at once a report was spread that the Mongols were to move on the Kremlin from two points. There was a rush to the cathedral from all parts, and a cry rose: “Let us go to Saint Sophia. We will lay down our heads there!”

Meanwhile the Mongols were only thinking of how to save themselves. Nevski, greatly fearing lest the people might kill them, did not think it wise to detain them longer. Not merely had they not finished the census, they had barely begun it. Still, in spite of the turmoil, no riot took place in that boisterous Novgorod, accustomed to disorder and bloodshed. No “pagan eater of raw flesh” was attacked, either inside its walls or beyond them.

At the beginning of 1259, new envoys from the Horde arrived at Vladimir, men so important that even the people remembered their names, which were Berkai and Kasatchik. They were sent to command the Khan’s men, and to finish the census in Novgorod. Again Nevski was forced to accompany census officials. On the way to Novgorod he joined with his own forces Rostoff regiments, and also the regiments of Suzdal. Berkai and Kasatchik had demanded this aid to protect them. They approached the city with a great force of warriors. This time the Novgorod men were alarmed, but they yielded only when they found resistance to be vain. The new envoys did not return to the Horde till the work had begun in their presence and they felt sure that their subordinates would be able to complete it. These men went along each street from house to house, describing accurately all the land, houses, goods, and people.

But Novgorod showed a no less desperate opposition than earlier, an opposition which was strong, protracted and stubborn. Both sides were prepared for a bloody conclusion. On one side was the dense population of a city in which all carried weapons; on the other the armies of the Grand Prince and the Khan’s commanders. Two almost equal forces stood opposed to each other, and had reached the utmost bounds of excitement. They had come to that moment beyond which a bloody encounter must take place. But at this critical juncture an idea flashed on Nevski which averted the peril. He begged the Khan’s envoys [288]to go from Novgorod, and he would assume all responsibility. They did this, and then he declared to the people that he had exhausted all means and methods of saving them. He would leave them now to the Khan, they might meet his anger in their own way. Thereupon he commanded his troops to leave the city immediately, and he himself walked forth from the fortress. The Novgorod men had waited for his order to the troops to attack them, and now to their amazement he had commanded those troops to march out of the city. This command produced terror. All bowed down at once before Nevski, and implored him not to leave them. They promised to yield to his will absolutely. This ended the trouble. The Mongols were recalled, and their work began in good earnest. Later on the delight of Great Novgorod was unbounded when the Khan’s agents finished the census, and vanished.

The struggle and anxieties of this period, ending with the completion of the Novgorod census, took much time and strength from Nevski. Only in 1260 was there, as the chronicler tells us, “any peace for Christians.”

In the beginning of 1261, Nevski’s youngest son, Daniel, was born to him. After that year the prince had no respite from suffering.

The worst of the Mongol yoke was not that every man’s head, and every horn and hoof of his cattle was registered, not that Mongol inspectors were stationed in all parts of the country; the heaviest weight of the yoke came when the Khan farmed Russian taxes to men from Khiva, Turkestan and Bukhara. Among partners and aids of those tax-farmers were Jews and Armenians, persons of various languages and religions. These traders in tribute, a people unheard of in Russia till that time, began a work which greatly intensified Mongol oppression. They became real torturers, squeezing the last copper coin from the people. They imposed grinding interest for arrears of tribute. They were worse than the most cruel usurer. Men who were unable to pay they sold into slavery or beat savagely with whips and clubs. This terror extended from end to end of the country. From those galling oppressions came riots. The riots were suppressed most unsparingly, and with bloodshed. No longer could safety and peace be connected with any place. There were disorders in Suzdal, in Pskoff, even in Pereyaslavl Beyond the Forest. [289]

These uprisings were not against Mongols directly. The people beat tax-farmers and their assistants, not the Khan’s men, hence the Khan could not be angry in the same degree; still his anger might be looked for, and reports were often current that regiments from the Horde were marching “to pacify” Russia.

At this juncture news came that Germans, the Knights of Livonia, were advancing with a numerous force to attack Pskoff. Nevski sent his own personal troops to Dmitri, his son, Prince of Novgorod at that time, and ordered his brother, Yaroslav of Tver, to go also; he went then to the Horde to try to save the Russian people from some of their new and great afflictions. The gifts which he took with him were more valuable than any he had given earlier, and his petitions were the simplest, and the most reasonable. But at the Horde they gave Nevski to understand that they were dissatisfied. They let him know that they were not pleased with him personally. Berkai was different from what he had been while Batu was still living or while he was struggling with Sartak for mastery. He was curbed now by no man; besides, he was angered by military failure beyond the Caucasus, where he was warring with Hulagu, his strong cousin. He detained Nevski without need all that winter, then he detained him during the following summer, and only late in autumn could the prince set out for home, sick and broken, to die before reaching Vladimir. He came to Nizni-Novgorod, and when they brought him to Gorodets his last hour was near. At that place he took the monk’s habit, and on November 14, 1263, his life left him.

The death of Nevski fell on Russia like a thunderbolt. It was a national calamity expected by no man, for with all his great services Nevski died when only forty-two years had passed over him. Even when burying him people could not believe that he had left them forever. His name, his very coffin seemed sacred.

When the great Peter had founded St. Petersburg on the Neva, concluded peace with the Swedes and restored the ancient patrimony of Ijora, he brought Nevski’s bones to the capital, where they repose in the monastery of Alexander Nevski, and are honored at present and will be for the ages to come as relics of a saint and a hero. There is no better saint in the whole Russian calendar, and no greater statesman or warrior in its history than Alexander Nevski. By his wisdom and by his policy of yielding with apparent [290]resignation to the tyranny of the Mongols, he suppressed revolts which would have perhaps brought about the abolition of native government, with the substitution of Mongol for Russian princes. Such substitution would have endangered the language, religion and race of the Russian people. This had to be avoided at every sacrifice. No man knew the relative strength of the Mongols and Russians better than Alexander Nevski; no man was more devoted to Russia than he; no man was more respected by his own; therefore his words had weight, and when he explained that resistance would be ruin and submission was the only road to salvation the people believed and obeyed him. In this way he rescued Novgorod and many another city from utter destruction, and saved the lives of untold thousands. Above all his influence remained; it curbed passion and instilled patience and courage into the minds of men, and the knowledge that violence only made the yoke more oppressive.

About the time of Nevski’s death, Moscow began to increase in size and importance. Daniel, his youngest son, received this town, then very small, and a few villages around it, as his inheritance.

In Yuri Dolgoruki’s principality of Vladimir was laid the foundation of Moscow, and all that distinguished Vladimir from Rostoff and Suzdal distinguished Moscow in a higher degree. The advantage of Vladimir over earlier cities consisted in this, that there were none of those “ancient strong families” which held themselves separate from others. The Vladimir principality was settled by people who had come from many places and established themselves there during that historical period when out of a varied multitude of Slav stocks and families were formed one Russian people. This from the very first was the place of all Russia, this was Vladimir’s distinction. This must be said in a higher degree touching Moscow, the youngest and most recent of places subjected to Yuri, and formed later than others into a well-ordered region. When Dolgoruki’s inheritance had become a strong state under princes succeeding him, the cities therein became so assimilated to Vladimir that they recognized no longer the pretensions to primacy of Rostoff and Suzdal. In the days of Big Nest the appellation Great Russia was connected somewhat loosely with Vladimir. This appellation, before which not only [291]Rostoff and Suzdal yielded, but Lord Novgorod, was forced to incline, became permanently connected with Moscow, when that city rose to power finally. If, after the death of Andrei Bogolyubski, Rostoff and Suzdal boyars insisted on calling Vladimir an adjunct, they could not pretend that Moscow depended on the boyars of any place, since Yuri Dolgoruki had raised it against boyars in general. The tradition was that Moscow had been founded by Dolgoruki, and then seized from him by boyars with violence which he punished with immediate death.

The distinction of Vladimir rule lay in the fact that the power of the prince acted firmly. Dolgoruki, and still more his son Andrei Bogolyubski, put an end to boyar control, which in other principalities was strong, and in some of them absolute, almighty. The struggle of boyars to uphold the ancient, and for them useful order of rule, their struggle for exceptional rights above other men, had in the Vladimir land dropped to the place and the character of intrigue and of treason, against which the people rose almost unanimously. The power of the prince thus appeared with single effect, and the people hastened to make it a state power. By precisely this aid of the people Big Nest had overcome the proud and powerful “great ones,” who stood against the “small people.” He had ended every claim of the boyars, claims hostile to all rule which favored the people. He had earned the love of earth-tillers and other workers by the fact that he permitted no town or district to be governed through boyar authority, but sent his own faithful servants to manage, and went himself yearly with his family and trusted persons to see what was taking place, and to personally give justice to all men. These servants differed greatly from boyars; they were just as much subject to the Vladimir prince as were the rest of the people. It was for their profit to strengthen and support the native prince who was ruling.

In the Vladimir principality the whole social structure was built upon land. The interests of all coincided. All, from small to great, earth-tillers, artisans, clergy, merchants, warriors up to the prince himself, formed one solid power, and this was Great Russia. When Big Nest, near the end of his life, was opposed by his eldest son, Constantine, and resolved on a radical change, he turned for support to the people. He desired strength from the whole land as a unit. He did not assemble simply boyars in [292]an affair of such magnitude, he did not turn to his confidants only, he called boyars, merchants, and all classes of people. Such a union of the prince and the people ruled by him was confirmed by kissing the cross, and was a pledge of future union and consequent greatness. This union was the special distinction, and formed the main force of Great Russia. This belonged not to Rostoff and Suzdal, where, through ties with Great Novgorod and the old time, the boyar spirit was still strong. Not to the earliest cities did the trait belong at its best, but to later places, and most of all to the youngest, for this trait depended much on the general success attained not immediately, but slowly, with pain and great labor, by the princes of Vladimir, and later on by the princes of Moscow.

At first while they were bringing into Vladimir the new type of rule to replace the old boyar order, the men pushed aside and driven out opposed it in every way possible. They complained of the prince’s agents and servants, they invented keen sayings against this new system. At that time none of the powerful men of the ancient order were reconciled with the new, and some fled from the country. But in the days of Daniel, son of Nevski, when Moscow was becoming prominent, the complete solidarity of prince and people, and the devotion of the people to an established princely line, became the chief trait of Moscow, the coming capital of Russia. The sturdy, industrious, persistent and peace-loving people were delighted to have the youngest son of Nevski, who was but two years of age when his father died, as Prince of Moscow and the country surrounding it. That region invited new settlers, who came in large numbers from all sides, because there was peace there and order, while north and south was disturbance and turmoil. This great advantage of being a peaceful and modest place was at that time the preëminence of Moscow, where Daniel, who alone of all the brothers had inherited the “sacred virtues” of his father, ruled quietly and unobserved.

Following Nevski’s death in 1263, there was a dreary interval during which the princes struggled for the possession of Vladimir. Nevski was succeeded by Andrei, his brother, who lived only a few months. Yaroslav of Tver, brother of Andrei, then became Grand Prince. In the early years of his reign the people of Novgorod were involved in a stubborn war with Danes and the Knights of Livonia. During these troubles they lived in peace with [293]Yaroslav, but in 1270 they rose against him, and he was forced to ask aid of the Mongols. They promised assistance, and had sent forward a considerable army when, through the influence of Vassili, Yaroslav’s brother, it was suddenly recalled. The Grand Prince and his warriors then marched alone against Novgorod, but at the instance of the Metropolitan of Kief, he made peace with the rebellious boyars.

In 1272 Yaroslav died, and was succeeded by Vassili, who lived somewhat less than three years. Then Dmitri, son of Nevski, became Grand Prince. While the principality was thus passing from the possession of one prince to that of another, the Mongols were taking full advantage of the quarreling, confusion and disorder brought about by constant change. They pillaged the provinces near by, and in 1278 burned Ryazan.

In 1281 Dmitri’s brother, Andrei, conspired against him, and going to the Horde obtained, through bribes and flattery, the title of Grand Prince. Troops were sent from Sarai, and dependent princes were ordered to join their forces to Andrei’s and march against Dmitri, but they refused. Because of this refusal, Andrei’s own warriors lost courage and deserted him, and he fled. The Mongols, meanwhile, ravaged Murom and many large towns. Pereyaslavl resisted and received dire punishment. It was sacked and most of the people were slaughtered.

Andrei now went to Sarai a second time and brought an army against Dmitri, who fled to Pskoff, and the Mongols seated Andrei on the throne of Vladimir. Again Russian towns were pillaged. Suzdal and Moscow suffered greatly, churches were sacked and precious vessels broken. If people resisted they were slaughtered. Dmitri, driven from Vladimir, wished to return to Pereyaslavl, his capital, but he was attacked by Andrei and fled to Tver, where Michael made peace between the brothers, and Dmitri, after struggling for three years to hold his own, promised to abdicate all claim to the Grand Principality. Shortly after this he fell ill and died (1294).

During all these troubled years Moscow had been slowly gaining power and influence. Daniel, called by the people, who loved his peaceful and gentle life, “Holy Daniel,” was the first Prince of Moscow, the first real heir to it, and he became the founder of the Moscow line of princes, as well as the founder of the city’s [294]greatness. Nevski’s youngest son received the smallest portion, but, though no one could even dream of it in Daniel’s day, it was to excel in glory and importance every other capital in Russia. Vladimir, Kief and Novgorod all paled before Moscow. After Daniel had united to his capital places on the border and had acquired Pereyaslavl, his portion, by its size and good order, surpassed every other. He was not Grand Prince; the glory of his name, which was to be handed down from generation to generation, was not in a resounding title, or in mighty deeds. His entire reign passed in comparative peace, but to him specially fell the honor of maintaining the illustrious memory of his ancestors, so that they might be renowned among Russians till the remotest generation. The glory of his name is connected forever with Moscow. While his brothers were struggling with one another and with their uncle for the Grand Principality of Vladimir and the title, not one of them left a permanent inheritance to their children, not one of them became famous. Daniel, called simply “the Moscow prince,” collected an entire principality around his inconsiderable town, and amassed such an inheritance for his descendants that not only his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren, but his own children were called Princes of All Russia.

We have few facts concerning Daniel; they are not to be found in Russian chronicles. He was among the best of the princes—a man who worked in the gloomy days of Mongol oppression.

Daniel’s work was continued by his son Ivan, surnamed Kalitá (Purse). As his father had gathered around Moscow a whole principality and his residence had become the capital of a coming empire, so Ivan began to gather round Moscow all the unconnected parts of the country, and in his day the city appeared as the center of Great Russia, its genuine capital, and Vladimir ceased to be important. Though without the splendid virtues of his father, he, more than any of his brothers, resembled him. A churchgoer, he loved home and economy,—the latter he carried to excess even. His predecessors had struggled for the Grand Principality, but Ivan left this work to Yuri, his brother, and improved that which his father had left him. To things beyond Moscow, Ivan paid no attention. During twenty-five years his name was mentioned rarely. Meanwhile he was toiling at the heritage left by Nevski and winning strength in it. One of his great works consisted [295]of clearing the whole principality of thieves, evil-doers and robbers. There was no such order anywhere in that day as in Moscow, and the city increased through immigration and otherwise beyond all places.

Besides other advantages, the central position of this principality helped it immensely. In it the roads crossed in every direction. The great water system began in its borders. Craftsmen, traders and people of all kinds came readily to settle in Moscow. Land-tillers found it more to their profit to live there than in places torn by quarrels. Hence Moscow was made up of men from every part of Russia. Next to Moscow was Tver, but there was less strength in Tver and less order. The turmoils of Novgorod were felt in Tver somewhat, and Tver was more exposed to raids from Lithuania. The place was, moreover, distinguished for an almost frivolous and insolent demeanor toward Mongols; hence in Moscow there was less danger from Mongols. All these causes taken together made Tver less desirable to immigrants than Moscow.

In 1304 died Andrei, brother of Nevski. After his death, two men were rivals for the dignity of Grand Prince. Yuri, son of Daniel, through the glory of his grandfather, Nevski, and the newly won greatness of Moscow, where he and his brother Ivan were ruling, looked on himself as the senior. But the senior in fact, if descent were decisive, was Michael of Tver, the youngest brother of Nevski. Both Yuri and Michael hastened to occupy the throne of Vladimir, and each strove to incline Novgorod to his side. Michael hurried off to the Horde to win the patent, but found that Yuri had preceded him. The boyars of Andrei, the recent Grand Prince, were in favor of Michael, and the men who had served with Andrei were convinced that the throne would fall to their candidate. But Yuri succeeded in occupying Vladimir, and Novgorod was divided. Though that city contained many followers of Yuri, it did not reject Michael. The Novgorod men declared to both candidates that they would accept him who obtained the Khan’s patent; still they murmured at Michael. Why was he sending officials to Novgorod while he lacked confirmation?

Maxim, the metropolitan, was friendly to Michael; he revered Ksenia, Michael’s widowed mother, as one of God’s chosen people; and respected Michael’s wife, Princess Anna, because she had [296]many Christian virtues. Yuri seemed to him not in the right as compared with his senior. Seeing the general movement of warriors and regiments on both sides, he was greatly alarmed, and, wishing for agreement, he not only threatened Yuri, but implored him to make peace. Maxim thought that he had succeeded, but he did not know Yuri, who never dropped any claim that he cherished. He would give no word not to go to the Horde. When the metropolitan tried to win a promise he answered:

“I am not going to the Horde for a patent, but for another object.”

This wily prince, who was ambitious and unprincipled, stopped at nothing to obtain power, which was dearer to him than all things else. He knew well that the Horde was all-powerful, and the Khan was its master in Russia. The word of the Khan was his sword; on this sword Yuri’s trust was unswerving, and he used every means to wield it; hence he set out for Sarai. While on the journey Michael’s adherents came very near seizing Yuri. He escaped, however, and by a roundabout road reached the Horde in safety, but only after much effort.

The Mongol magnates charmed the prince with their readiness to feast and make friends with him. “Give more than Michael, and the yarlyk (patent) will be thine,” said they. So the princes strove to surpass each other in making presents to the Khan’s wives and favorites, as well as to Horde magnates. It proved, however, that Michael had more gold to spend than had Yuri. Yuri halted, and going to Michael, he said: “Let us strive no longer. I will not ruin my heritage. Let Vladimir be thine.” Soon after this the Khan gave the patent to Michael, who returned home eight months later.

While the princes were at the Horde there was great activity in Russia. Boris, Yuri’s brother, sent by him to seize Kostroma, had been captured and taken to Tver. Novgorod men had expelled Michael’s boyars, who strengthened Nova-Torg, and then planned to attack Pereyaslavl and take it from Moscow. Akinfi, a Moscow boyar, having quarreled with Rodion Nestorvitch, a boyar who had come from Kief to Moscow with seven hundred followers and had received the first place in service, left Moscow in anger to seek a better place, which he found with the Tver prince, who made him the first among boyars. Akinfi assisted in [297]planning the campaign, and led the troops against Pereyaslavl. But in Tver there were many well-wishers of Moscow, and they gave warning of Akinfi’s adventure. The army which Ivan hurriedly led from Moscow was successful. Akinfi’s troops were defeated and he lost his life in the struggle; with him fell his son-in-law and many warriors. His sons, Ivan and Feodor, fled to Tver with few attendants. As Rodion Nestorvitch, who had sustained a leading part in this unsparing and decisive conflict, was leaving the battle-field, he raised his rival’s head on a lance-point and held it up before Ivan of Moscow. Ivan’s name, mentioned this once, was not mentioned earlier in Russian chronicles, and was left unmentioned thereafter for a long time. In the quarrels with Tver and Vladimir not Ivan, but Yuri, his brother, is prominent.

The Grand Prince Michael, on returning from the Horde, settled down in Tver and ruled both the Grand Principality and Novgorod through his lieutenants. He would not leave unavenged Akinfi, his chief boyar. A campaign against Moscow was undertaken with every force which the Grand Prince could summon. But he had not the strength to bend Moscow. Neither opponent had sufficient power to crush the other; one had to retreat and the other had to let him go unpunished. It seemed that all that remained for Michael was to rule and live peaceably as Grand Prince. He had no foe except Yuri, who, though he had made peace with Michael, would not acknowledge his headship; nay, more, he challenged Michael’s position directly. Causes and excuses for this were plentiful on every side. Yuri not only did not yield the disputed Tver boundaries to Michael, but he seized other lands in addition. At last Michael complained without ceasing that Yuri was taking Tver lands from him, while he, Michael, sought nothing save lands belonging to Tver in the time of his father. Yuri would not give peace to his rival in Novgorod or Vladimir; he roused both secret and open intrigues against him unceasingly through his adherents in the two cities, and tried to undermine Michael at all times. Novgorod as usual was divided against itself. Factions were at war in the city. Some were in favor of the prince, while others demanded his expulsion and wanted a new man.

Yuri and Ivan ruled together in Moscow and gave no voice to their brothers. It was evident that Yuri intended to place his younger [298]brothers in other principalities. With that intent he had sent Boris to Kostroma, where he was captured by Tver men. Besides Kostroma there was only Nizni-Novgorod, but in general Yuri had his eye upon any place which might be open to seizure. He was not troubled with delicacy in dealing with princes, and soon there was a quarrel about Nizni-Novgorod. As Michael was patient, Yuri’s insolence was overlooked for a season, but the more Michael yielded, the greater were Yuri’s demands on him. Their strength might seem equal, but Moscow was so far superior that the Tver prince, even adding Vladimir, was not the stronger.

In 1308, three years after his first attack upon Moscow, Michael, because of Novgorod, was forced to take arms against Yuri a second time. This campaign was undertaken with all the power which the Grand Prince could summon and there was a great battle; much harm was inflicted, but again Michael failed to take Moscow, and returned to Tver without triumph.

Michael’s position in Novgorod was difficult. There were old involved boundary questions between Novgorod and Vladimir; also between Tver and Novgorod. If Michael did justice to Tver, he made Novgorod an enemy. If he acceded to Novgorod’s demands, he made Tver indignant. Yuri, knowing this difficulty, inflamed Michael’s enemies in Novgorod, and upheld the demands of that city.

Tok Timur, Khan of the Golden Horde, died in 1312, and was succeeded by Uzbek, the first Mongol ruler of Russia to become a Mohammedan, though he was more Mongol by far than a follower of Mohammed. Again all princes must visit Sarai and bow down to the Khan. Michael of Tver appeared at the Horde before the others. He was accompanied by the Metropolitan of Russia, who was allowed to go home after a very short time. He returned to Vladimir before any one looked for him, but for his friend Michael they waited till they ceased to expect him. One year passed, a second began. At last, however, his visit came to a favorable end. Uzbek confirmed him in the Grand Principality and commanded Novgorod’s obedience. This was to be assured by Horde warriors, who were prompt in assistance. With Michael went from the Horde three “sultans” (commanders), Taitmar, Matroja and Indy. And the capricious Moscow prince, who, during Michael’s absence, had made himself master of Novgorod, [299]was threatened with anger and summoned to Sarai to answer Michael’s charges. Yuri set out from Novgorod directly, leaving Afanasi, his brother, and Feodor Rjerski behind him to govern the city. A Novgorod embassy went to the Horde to help Yuri. This support was especially valuable to him, since the people never sent men with empty hands to do business; they scattered gold and silver as far as was needed. In money power no place at that time was equal to Novgorod. Yuri knew well how to manage the Mongols. The Golden Horde magnates had pleased him immensely in the days of his earliest visit, because of their readiness to feast and rejoice with him. He had had friends and allies during Tok Timur’s reign, but since he had promised Novgorod men to relieve them of Michael, he had vastly more influence, for Novgorod’s liberality was measureless. He received worthy aid for the road and was assured of further assistance whenever the need came, and in any proportion necessary, if only the Novgorod wish could be gratified. Yuri felt sure of success. When he entered Sarai all things seemed favorable. To begin with, Prince Michael, his enemy, who in Tok Timur’s time had contended with him for the Grand Principality, though the patent had been given him, was not popular at the Horde, for he had not become intimate with any one. He knew not how to win Mongol favor. Mild and sedate, he had not roused respect even by his obedience. His sober, methodical life was unendurable to Mongols. On the other hand, Yuri was loved by his old, and now by his new friends. Kavgady was the keenest of the Mongol magnates, and he had the Khan’s fullest confidence; with this man Yuri became specially intimate. Soon the Khan himself was very gracious to Yuri, who was at home not only throughout the Horde, but in the Khan’s family. There was no great feast without him. In 1297, when young, he had married a Rostoff princess, but he was now a widower. Soon it was known to all the high Mongols that Konchaka, the Khan’s favorite sister, was to marry Yuri. Uzbek permitted her to become a Christian, and she took in baptism the name Agatha.

Yuri remained at the Horde about two years. While he was there Afanasi, his brother, and Feodor, placed by him in Novgorod, carried on war against Michael, who marched toward Novgorod and met their forces at Torjok in the spring of 1316. The Novgorod [300]warriors were choice and not few in number, but they were of the boyar party, for the people would take no part in this war. Their army was defeated and was forced to seek refuge inside the walls of Torjok.

Then Michael sent to them saying: “Give me the princes, Afanasi and Feodor, and I will make peace.” “We will die for Holy Sophia with honor,” was the answer. “We will not yield up those princes.” Then Michael sent a second time: “Give me Feodor alone.” At first they refused, then finally surrendered him, and peace was made.

But soon a new war broke out which dragged on a whole year, if not longer. Michael sent his posadnik and officials to Novgorod, but the city expelled them and the war continued, while Yuri was absent arranging with Uzbek. Novgorod charged Michael with perfidy. The tribute which Michael imposed on Torjok was not paid, and Novgorod accused him of detaining hostages and of seizing their people, with arms and horses. They sent an embassy to Yuri, but Tver warriors intercepted those envoys and detained them. Novgorod complained that after Michael had withdrawn from Torjok they sent a request through their bishop asking him to liberate the Novgorod people detained by him, but this he had refused to do. The Tver men in answer pointed out Novgorod’s injustice. “Why send envoys to Yuri and the Horde, and incite anger against Tver, Pskoff, Ladoga and other places? Why did Novgorod in time of council throw Basok into the river, declaring him a spy from Prince Michael? Why also was Daniel Pistsoff slain?”

Again Michael marched against Novgorod, but this time, though he was not defeated, he suffered greatly. Approaching within fifty versts of the city and discovering that men from Pskoff, Ladoga and other places had come to help Novgorod, he withdrew. While retreating his troops lost their way amid lakes and swamps, and were forced by hunger to eat their own horses and even the rawhide of their shields. Many died of hunger and cold; those who survived reached home in great wretchedness.

But this unfortunate expedition did not affect Michael so much as the news from the Horde, news which forced him to make peace with Novgorod, remit all arrears and return prisoners and hostages. Novgorod, on its part, engaged to withdraw from Yuri and take [301]no part in quarrels between the two princes. The news which reached Michael before he made peace, and which Novgorod did not at that time know, was then published to all men. The Khan’s brother-in-law, Yuri, with his princess, had left the Horde with large regiments from the Khan, and a suite of Horde magnates. They were coming to strip Michael of his office. No one doubted that Yuri was Grand Prince; that was the report, and the first to believe it was Michael. He waited for further news, but no news was forthcoming. No messenger came from the Khan, nor did he receive any word from his men, who were at the Horde in attendance. But that which was done in the Mongol camp and declared to the world was incredible, unless Yuri had the patent.

Kavgady sent Telebuga, his assistant, to Novgorod to summon all warriors to the banners of Yuri. Astrobyl was sent to the Volga for the same purpose. Kavgady himself moved with his own troops, and some from Yuri. They expected reinforcements from places above and below them.

Michael, fearing an attack on Tver, increased its defenses and summoned in other princes. But in Rostoff and Suzdal, as well as Vladimir, no one knew anything accurately. So that while some princes favored Michael, others joined his opponents, and still others were undecided which prince to support, though Kavgady had ordered all to join Yuri.

Michael marched toward Kostroma, but when he came in sight of Yuri and his army, he sent him this message: “If the Khan has given thee the office of Grand Prince, I withdraw. But touch not my heritage.”

One of the principal duties and the distinguishing right of the Grand Prince was to give the Khan all the tribute collected by princes. For this the Grand Prince was responsible directly, and in questions concerning it he treated smaller princes as pleased him. They had to deal with him only, and had not the right to appear at the Horde with their tribute. Hence, because of those tributes, there were endless disputes between the Grand Prince and the princes beneath him. It was almost impossible to disentangle the questions of tribute paid too late or too early, neglected, overpaid or underpaid. But Michael was distinguished in this as in all things requiring accuracy. Every item was recorded. How much he had received from this prince or that, was written down [302]carefully and delivered with precision. So now, when he yielded the office of Grand Prince, he thought it his duty to give a clear list of the tribute, including that which was not yet delivered. All this was explained to Kavgady and to Yuri. Michael then gave up the Grand Principality and the tribute.

“I will remain in my own place,” said he; “only leave me in quiet.” Thus all was arranged and Michael, before the eyes of his enemies, dismissed his main forces, leading home only a small retinue. Meanwhile Yuri disbanded no warriors, but strengthened his army. The Suzdal princes took Yuri’s side. Yuri now went to Moscow and with him went his princess, “Konchaka,” as the people continued to call her. During the summer Michael was occupied in fortifying Tver. Toward October, Kavgady and Yuri marched against him. The whole Volga region joined Yuri. Novgorod men were to be at Torjok to act against Michael.

When Yuri’s army reached the Tver border he began to burn towns and take prisoners. Avoiding the capital, he turned against the Tver possessions beyond the Volga. Michael lost patience at this point. Tver men had always been noted for hating the Mongols. Michael’s sons, his boyars and his warriors all demanded war, and he could not curb them. “It is impossible,” said the people, “for thee not to go against Yuri. We are ready to lay down our lives in this action.”

Michael and his forces met the foe forty versts from the city, December 22, 1317, and Yuri was thoroughly defeated. He fled to Novi-Torg with few attendants, and then to Novgorod. His camp and his tent were seized by the victors. They captured Konchaka, Yuri’s princess, and Boris, his brother. When Kavgady saw that the battle was lost, he surrendered to Michael, whose armor was cut and hacked, but whose body was not wounded.

The delight of the victors was unbounded in view of the multitude of prisoners. But the pleasure of their triumph was lessened by the fact that many Mongols had fallen in the battle. Men learned now, and they might have guessed earlier, that the conflict had been brought on by Yuri and Kavgady without the Khan’s order or knowledge. What could they do in Tver with the prisoners? Michael lodged Konchaka in his palace with honor, and gave her every attention. Kavgady and his attendants were favored with gifts and with feasts. The Mongols flattered their entertainers [303]and praised their generosity, but this deceived no one. They remembered what wealth they had lost in the battle, and how many captives had been taken from them, and it was seen in their eyes how revenge lurked in their souls while they flattered.

That winter, just before Lent, Yuri led Novgorod men against Michael, who, unwilling to cause more bloodshed so soon after his recent victory, marched out, stopped Yuri from crossing the Volga, and sent him this message: “We must go to the Khan; why should we fight before going?” Yuri answered with insolence but agreed finally that both should go to the Horde and let the Khan judge them. Michael declared that Konchaka and Boris would be given up immediately, and the opponents parted without an encounter.

But terrible trouble came now upon Michael. Konchaka died in his palace, and the report was spread that she had been poisoned. The coffin containing the body of the ill-fated woman was taken from Tver to Rostoff and given to Yuri’s relatives. Michael was weighed down with woe. Fate seemed to pursue him in this struggle with Yuri.

On learning that Michael was preparing to visit Sarai, Kavgady insisted that Yuri should hasten and anticipate the Tver prince, and in clear proof of the importance of doing so hurried off himself. When going, he advised Yuri to collect as many men as possible of those who had had dealings with Michael in the matter of tribute, so that they could be called to give testimony against the Tver prince.

Michael understood well what serious work was before him, for it was known at the Horde that Kavgady always misrepresented him to the Khan, and reports of this had come to Michael. At last, toward the end of the summer, he realized that he must loiter no longer. At Vladimir he met Akhmyl, an envoy, from whom he hoped to learn something of what was taking place in Sarai. Akhmyl counseled haste; he gave no precise information, only whispering Kavgady’s calumnies, “Be there before a month has passed,” said he. “Kavgady has stated that thou art not coming.” Michael’s boyars advised him not to go; his sons said, “Send us.” The prince hesitated. “One of thy sons is there now,” said the boyars; “send another.” “Listen to us,” begged the sons. “Go not, thou art calumniated. Send us. Go when the Khan’s rage has softened.” [304]

Michael sat long in thought. At last he said, “The Khan has not asked for you. It is my head that he wants. If I do not go, my inheritance will be seized, and many Christians will perish. I must die sometime; better die now, and save others.” He explained how he wished his inheritance to be divided; gave advice to his sons; wrote his will and took farewell of them. During the whole journey to the Horde he was gloomy and depressed. He was ready to pour out his soul before Uzbek, trusting in his justice. He did not doubt that the Khan would be gracious if he only knew the facts in the quarrel. But would the Khan know the facts?

When Michael reached Sarai he found that Uzbek had gone, and he had to journey a thousand versts farther, to find him near the mouth of the Don at the Sea of Azoff. Constantine, Michael’s son, who had been in Sarai, could give his father no information except that one of the Khan’s wives was kind; he had visited her and she liked him. From his boyars, who were with Constantine at the Horde, he heard that the Khan had spoken no evil against him. At the Horde all received his presents graciously, but he could learn nothing decisive.

At last the day came when he was to bow to the earth before Uzbek. He could see no displeasure in the Khan’s visage; he seemed as friendly as when he had given the patent; he was neither kind nor unkind. In the Horde it was the same—neither kind nor unkind. There was no recognition between him and Kavgady or Yuri. The whole Horde was with them, as it seemed to Michael. Everything confirmed the statement of his friends that Kavgady was calumniating him always. It was said also that the intimates of the Khan had mentioned repeatedly the necessity of judging the Tver prince. When the Khan promised and afterward forgot, they reminded him that the case was important and should not be deferred; that a state is made strong through showing favor to good men, and punishing the wicked.

Michael lived six weeks in anxiety without trial. Then he was suddenly summoned to receive judgment. The Khan, who was as much occupied by amusement as by affairs, was preparing for a grand hunt in the Caucasus and beyond those mountains. Pleasure, it appeared, coincided with policy. Some said that he was taking the forces of the Horde to a great hunt and was then going to a war on the Persian boundary. At all events, before setting out, [305]he wished to settle certain questions which annoyed him, and suddenly he said to his magnates, “Judge Yuri and the Grand Prince; then bring your decision. Whoever is right, him will I reward; the guilty I will punish.” This was all Kavgady needed.

Next day they summoned Michael. Many complaints were preferred against him: he had withheld the Khan’s tribute; he had sent his wealth to Livonia; he had begged aid of the Pope; he had borrowed money from tax collectors and princes, and had not returned it; he had been a robber; he had been unjust to subject princes,—this must have referred to Novgorod. Then came the two great offenses: he had poisoned Konchaka, and had warred against the Khan’s envoys.

The princes of the Horde sat in judgment; a great accumulation of complaints lay before them. Kavgady and Yuri were among the judges; they were witnesses as well. When Michael presented strict accounts of the tribute and lists of all taken from each person they cried out: “Thou art haughty and disobedient; thou hast insulted the Khan’s envoy, Kavgady, and fought with him; kept back the Khan’s tribute, and poisoned Yuri’s princess; thou hast beaten the Khan’s magnates.” “I have obeyed the Khan,” answered Michael, “and I obey him now. I have given accurate tribute. The Khan’s envoy attacked me with warriors; I was forced to defend myself. After that I honored him and gave him good presents; I took farewell of him with gifts, and with homage. I did not kill Yuri’s princess; her death came from nature.”

When the trial was ended it was repeated to the Khan. Uzbek was waiting. “Prince Michael,” said the judges, “is worthy of death, but thy word is free. All will be done according to thy pleasure.” And they explained the main offenses. The Khan commanded to give a new trial and test the truth carefully a second time. The judges were confused and retired with submission. But going later on to the Khan, by the advice of Kavgady, who was assisting them, they said: “Michael is worthy of death. If thou command to revise the late trial he should stand before us in fetters. We would not see thee offended; thy glory and honor touch us, O Khan, and concern all the people.” Kavgady now added: “The case between Yuri and Michael is known to me perfectly; I know the whole truth of it.” “Do as ye like,” replied [306]Uzbek, after thinking a little. “But judge the case justly, and come to me afterward.”

Michael was judged as he had been judged the first time, and warriors were commanded to lead away the condemned man. The second trial was on Friday, and lasted till late in the evening. The judges went directly to Uzbek. “We find Michael worthy of death this time also,” said they. “If that is just,” replied Uzbek, “act as ye have decided.” The judges now strove to hasten the execution, but Uzbek deferred it.

From the moment of the second trial, Michael knew well that his cause was lost. On returning to his tent he repeated the words “My days have vanished like smoke and have passed like a vision.” Two hours later heavier fetters were put on him; his attendants were expelled; his robes of a prince were stripped from his body, and the guards seized his effects. This was done always in the case of condemned men. He was left then with guards to watch over him strictly. On Sunday he learned that the Horde was to follow the Khan to a hunt on the Caucasus north and south of the Terek. That day they put a kang on him,—an instrument of torture and an index of infamy, borrowed by the Mongols from China. It was made of two planks, and was four-cornered like a small oblong table. In the center was a round hole cut to fit the neck and a smaller one on either side into which the hands of the victim were inserted. The planks were pushed apart, the neck and wrists fixed in their places, and then the planks were brought together and fastened. Chains were attached to the kang, by which men led the prisoner. In this way the unfortunate Michael was led behind the Khan’s forces and for twenty-five days he traveled in that horrible torture.

Hunting, the favorite amusement of the Mongol Khans, continued usually a month or two, and showed strikingly their character. The whole Horde was in motion. Two or three hundred thousand men often shared in this immense spectacle and enjoyment. Each man rode his best horse and wore his finest clothes; countless wagons carried goods from Greece, India and other distant regions. Delight and luxury were visible everywhere. Lonely steppes were filled with people; certain places in them became populous cities for a day or two, and all was noise, mirth and turmoil. Michael dragged on, walking behind this great [307]army of pleasure seekers, for in his case Uzbek had not spoken the death words. A great part of the way the ill-fated prisoner was urged forward on foot. Occasionally the kang was removed, but at such times he was heavily chained. The hunt lasted long and extended far beyond the Terek to the mountains and the Caspian.

When the decision of the judges was at last confirmed by the Khan, the execution was summary. November 22, 1318, Kavgady saw Uzbek in the morning, and received the order to execute Michael. Toward midday, while the prince, who had grown mortally weary of life, was repeating the fifty-fifth psalm: “My heart is sore pained within me, and the terrors of death are fallen upon me,” an attendant rushed up, and cried: “Kavgady and Yuri are coming with a number of people.” “I know why they are coming,” said Michael.

The two men halted on the market-place, at a distance of a stone’s throw from the prisoner’s tent, and Michael was summoned. The executioners seized him and threw him to the earth, but he sprang up quickly. They threw him again, beat him with fists, and then with their heels stamped his life out. When they had killed him, they put the corpse out on the steppe, where they left it. Yuri went to look at the body. “Why art thou looking?” asked Kavgady, reproachfully. “He was to thee as thy father. Have him covered!” One of Yuri’s men removed his upper garment and covered the body. Soon after this, Michael’s attendants came out, tied the corpse firmly to a plank, and then, by Yuri’s order, bore it to Moscow. [308]




In 1319, Yuri returned from the Horde with the Khan’s patent making him Grand Prince. According to old Russian rules, he was equal to the sons of Prince Michael. If they were superior through inheritance from a father who had held the position of Grand Prince, a position which Yuri’s father had never held, he surpassed them through his grandfather Nevski, who was senior to their grandfather, Yaroslav. In descent, men might hold them equal. But Yuri surpassed the Tver prince in wealth, and in the number of his warriors, and with the patent of the Khan he became chief, and all yielded.

Yuri hastened to Vladimir and took the throne, merely making a short halt at Moscow, to leave there Michael’s son Constantine, with his father’s boyars and servants. Yuri had taken Constantine from the Horde, partly as a relative, partly as a prisoner; the boyars were really prisoners. No one in Tver knew exactly what had taken place; all were in doubt and anxiety, and when Yuri’s return was reported, men were sent to Vladimir to discover the truth. They brought tidings to Tver that Prince Michael was dead and his body had been taken to Moscow and buried.

As soon as Yuri appeared in Vladimir, Dmitri, Michael’s eldest son, took possession of Tver in accordance with the will of his father. Then he sent his younger brother, Alexander, to Yuri, to ask for the body of his father. Yuri refused at first to deliver it, but he at last consented, and the body was taken back to Tver.

Boris, Yuri’s brother, died in Moscow soon after this, as did also Afanasi, whom Yuri had settled in Novgorod, so that of Daniel’s sons only Yuri and Ivan were living. When Yuri returned from the Horde as Grand Prince, he gave his inherited lands, as it seems, to Ivan. In 1320, Ivan went to do homage to Uzbek; till [309]that time he had never seen him. In that year Tver had three marriages of princes: Alexander and Constantine found brides among Russians, but Dmitri took a daughter of Gedimin, the Lithuanian Grand Prince. This connection with Gedimin brought Dmitri into intimate relations with an enemy of Russia, and made it more difficult still for Tver to be friendly with Vladimir. Dmitri did not wish to see Yuri, or approach him, or even hear his name mentioned. Outspoken and direct, irrepressible and passionate the name Terrible Eyes had been given Dmitri, and it described him clearly.

Yuri’s first move as Grand Prince was a quarrel with Ryazan, undertaken to punish one of its princes. That labor finished, he moved on Dmitri. The task was “to take his honor,” as the phrase ran in those days.

Expeditions were made then, as they had been made earlier, to impose peace “with dread and trembling.” Minor princes performed certain acts at the coronation of a Grand Prince. If not to show submission, at least to recognize that he was their superior. The Grand Prince made a treaty with each minor prince, causing him at the same time to kiss the cross to observe it. When the Khan gave a patent to an important prince, minor princes led his horse in the ceremony of installation.

Yuri, of course, was not seeking a service of this kind, but as Dmitri had not ranged himself with princes who acknowledged his headship, Yuri now led his warriors to attack Tver. When Dmitri heard of this campaign against him, he made no move, but begged his friend Varsonofi, the bishop, to save him from every discussion with Yuri. He agreed to all terms in advance, so as to avoid meeting him. The bishop persuaded the Grand Prince to withdraw from the country, after receiving a solemn declaration from Dmitri that he would not strive to be Grand Prince.

The chief mark of subjection in a minor prince at that time was to pay the Khan’s tribute, not at the Horde, but to the Grand Prince. Yuri insisted on this, and if negotiations with the bishop were protracted, it was only because of discussions on that subject; but Dmitri in the end agreed to that also, and promised to send to Yuri two thousand grievens, which he had collected from Tver as a tribute. Dmitri sent this money to Yuri that year (1321). The following year he went to the Horde for confirmation as senior [310]heir to the Tver principality. He took gifts to the Khan and rendered homage as usual; then, unable to restrain himself, he told the Khan all that was troubling his spirit. Disregarding the ceremony which was binding on every one, he explained to Uzbek how Kavgady and Yuri had calumniated his father, condemned him, and killed him in his innocence. The Terrible-Eyed Dmitri explained everything with respect and submission. Moreover, his coming to the Horde was a mark of his faithfulness. He might refer to this, and, of course, he was not silent; he said that he submitted to the will of the Khan; that he acknowledged the primacy of Yuri, the proof of which was that he had given him the tribute of Tver, those two thousand grievens which Yuri had not paid at the Horde, as was shown when officials sought for an account of them.

Yuri perhaps had no thought of withholding this tribute; circumstances may have prevented his going immediately to the Horde with it, for soon after he received the money he was forced to hasten to Novgorod, and farther, since at that time he was fighting fiercely against the Swedes and the Germans of Riga, and he had not yet returned from that distant campaigning. Still, as was thought at the Horde, it was not the right way to act, and command was given straightway to summon Yuri. To Dmitri Uzbek was more gracious than he had ever been to any prince. Surprised by his daring speech, the Khan gave him honor. Mongol magnates, in view of this, were full of respect for him, and his success was immediate. Yuri was summoned once more to the Horde. Dmitri received his patent, not as Prince of Tver, but as Grand Prince, and the Khan sent his envoy, Svinche Buga, and a Mongol detachment of warriors to install the new favorite. Such double rule under Mongol direction was not a new thing.

From the winter of 1322 to that of 1324, no man among the Russians knew positively whether Yuri or Dmitri was Grand Prince. Both ruled in the Khan’s name, and each held his patent. Yuri, meanwhile, was defending Novgorod against Swedes, and meeting also Tver regiments led against him by Alexander, a brother of the Terrible-Eyed Dmitri. Yuri defeated the Swedes at that point where the Neva flows out of Lake Ladoga, and made a “permanent peace” with them. When he had finished with the Swedes, he prepared to assuage the Khan’s anger. Some time before he had begged his brother, Ivan, to defend him at the [311]Horde. No man was better fitted to do this than Ivan, and he succeeded. It is true that when he came home to Moscow the Khan’s envoy came also to confirm the summons to Yuri, but in every case Yuri’s safety at the Horde seemed more than likely.

Though satisfied by the news which Ivan brought, Yuri still hesitated over the risks of the journey. He made repeated inquiries of friends at the Horde as to what might await him, and learned that he could go with good chances of security. He did not go empty-handed, moreover, knowing well that success at Sarai was connected at all times with an abundance of silver and gold. He went at the same time with envoys from Novgorod. Dmitri had beset all the roads to the Volga; he was determined to prevent Yuri’s visit to the Horde. Hence the Grand Prince was forced to go by Vyatka to Perm, thence down the Kama to the Volga, and thus he reached Sarai finally.

In 1325, when most men knew not what had happened to Yuri, news came that he was in good health at the court of his brother-in-law. Dmitri, astonished that his enemy had escaped unpunished, set out for the Horde to work against him. All were now waiting in Russia to see which of the two men would come back as Grand Prince; neither came. First Yuri’s corpse was brought to Moscow November 21, 1325, and it was learned that Dmitri and Yuri, having been summoned to Uzbek’s presence, had met in his palace. Dmitri could not restrain himself. He drew his sword instantly, and Yuri fell, slain by the avenging hand of Michael’s son. “A deed like this done near the eyes of the Khan, and almost in his presence, is not to be pardoned!” cried the Mongols. Uzbek ordered all to be silent. When news of this order came to Russia, men thought that Yuri’s death had been pleasing to Uzbek. But when they learned later that it had happened without the Khan’s desire or knowledge, Dmitri’s friends were greatly troubled.

During more than nine months the Khan’s will in this case was not uttered, and some had good hopes for Dmitri, but on September 15, 1326, Dmitri was executed, and the body of the Tver prince was taken to his native city, where they placed it at the side of Prince Michael, his father.

Though Uzbek had ordered the execution of Dmitri, Alexander, Dmitri’s brother, was made Grand Prince. But Alexander’s [312]power was not lasting. Before twelve months had passed it had ended.

In 1327, Uzbek sent Cholkhan, his cousin, to Tver. With him came warriors, princes and merchants. Cholkhan occupied Alexander’s palace, and his warriors were quartered on the people. They committed violence, as was usual on every such occasion, and there was much feeling against them in Tver. It was reported among Russians that the Mongols intended to kill the Tver prince, his friends, and his family, and clear the throne for Cholkhan, who would at once put Mongol princes in every part of Russia, and force his religion on Christians.

Early one morning a deacon was leading to water a young mare in good flesh; some Mongols rushed to take the beast from him,—they wished to kill, cook, and eat her. The deacon struggled and shouted; people ran up to help him; more Mongols hurried to the spot, and a fight began which developed and extended till it filled the city. Church bells were tolled. Cholkhan was roused and rushed forth to the battle. At sunrise all Tver was raging in a desperate conflict. The Grand Prince himself took part, and pushed into the thickest of the struggle. Both sides fought all day fiercely, and only toward evening did Alexander force Cholkhan and his men to the palace, where the Mongols quickly barred every entrance. But Alexander did not spare his father’s palace; he fired it with his own hands, and Cholkhan and his Mongols were burned to death in it. All Mongol merchants were slain; the Tver men spared not one of them; even those who had lived a long time in the city received neither quarter nor mercy. They were burned in their houses, or drowned in the river.

Such was the punishment inflicted on Cholkhan, Uzbek’s cousin. When Uzbek heard of this massacre, his anger blazed up furiously against the rebels, and in grief over Cholkhan. He sent at once for the Prince of Moscow. Ivan delayed not. It seems that his obedience and ready arrival at Sarai surprised even the Khan. Ivan found every one in great alarm. The Mongols thought that all Russia had risen in revolt and refused further obedience. When the true condition was explained, Uzbek gave the Moscow prince a part of his army to punish the insolent Tver men. He sent with him also Mongol princes and five commanders, each leading ten thousand warriors. In fact he gave an army [313]sufficient to conquer a kingdom. His order was to destroy the Tver principality.

No man had ever seen Uzbek in such convulsions of anger. He roared like a lion. Not a Tver prince was to be left alive. The whole Russian land must be harassed. Ivan was to slaughter his own countrymen to avenge Mongols. Vassili, a Ryazan prince summoned recently for judgment, was beheaded at once. Later on, when Mongol warriors were at work, the head of another prince fell at the Khan’s capital. During the summer of 1328, there was great bloodshed throughout all Vladimir. The legions which came with Ivan, led by Turlyak, were so numerous that no Russian power could withstand them. Tver and other towns were leveled. All people who did not flee were either slain or taken captive. Alexander and his brothers fled to Novgorod, but Novgorod, greatly alarmed, would not allow them to remain in the city, and they fled to Pskoff. When the Khan’s warriors approached Novgorod, Ivan sent envoys from himself and Turlyak. The Novgorod men showed the envoys all honor, paid tribute and made presents. The city sent then an embassy to Uzbek, and implored Ivan to conduct it. “Go thou to the Horde,” begged they, “and declare the obedience of Novgorod.” The prince consented. Constantine of Tver, Ivan’s cousin, joined the embassy, for Ivan had promised to intercede in his favor.

It would be difficult to estimate what suffering that outbreak in Tver brought on Russia; how much torture and anguish that desperate affair cost the people. The Khan was waiting for news with impatience; when it came, it was so terrible that he was satisfied. The smoking ruins of Tver towns and settlements seemed to him a splendid reminder and a hint strong enough to keep down the disobedient. Tver, Kashin, and all towns in Torjok and the Tver principality were turned into ashes. People had been destroyed or taken captive wherever hands or weapons could reach them. Only those who fled to gloomy forests, where they hid among wild beasts, survived that dreadful visitation. In time they came back to their places, and began to work anew, but all were in dire need and poverty, for their lands were as a desert.

The campaign successfully ended, the Mongols went home with much wealth and many captives. They not only seized cattle, [314]horses, and property, but took the wives and daughters of Russians, and the men who were able to labor. They took everything that pleased them, wherever they found it. Those who complained or resisted were cut to pieces immediately. But Moscow and all its lands were free from Mongol rapacity and massacre.

In the autumn of 1328, Ivan went to the Horde to report that the Khan’s demand was accomplished. With him were the Novgorod envoys and Feodor Kolenitsa, their chief man, also Constantine, the Tver prince. Uzbek met all very graciously, and received Ivan with much honor. He gave him the Grand Principality, adding lands also to Moscow, and granting everything that the prince asked for; he gratified Kolenitsa as well. But he commanded them all to the last man to seek out Alexander and bring him to the Horde to receive the Khan’s sentence.

After the countless quarrels between princes, and the Mongol raids which did not cease for even one year during five decades after the death of Alexander Nevski, the peace which now began, when Nevski’s grandson, Ivan, became Grand Prince of Vladimir, must have seemed a miracle. And for many a day it remained in the minds of the people as a wonderful benefaction. This lasting peace was the great event of Ivan’s reign. All knew that he had Uzbek’s confidence. Russian princes saw that the Khan granted whatever Ivan asked of him. They saw this even before, but when Constantine, brother of the fugitive Alexander, was confirmed in Tver through Ivan’s influence, all were convinced of Uzbek’s friendship for him, none more firmly than the Novgorod envoys, who had visited the Horde with the Grand Prince.

In 1328, upon his return from Sarai, Ivan and the other princes met in Novgorod, for they had to find Alexander. They decided to send envoys to that prince, and say, “The Khan summons thee to judgment; wilt thou suffer for the Russian land like a warrior of Christ, or survive alone, and give the whole Russian land to destruction?” The envoys returned with the declaration that the Pskoff men would not yield Alexander. They had agreed and kissed the cross not to forsake him. He and they would stand or fall in one company. The princes moved now on Pskoff with strong forces. Besides Ivan’s army, he commanded Tver troops with the troops of other princes, and men of Novgorod also. Wishing no harm to Pskoff, he pitched his camp at some distance [315]and negotiated. He sent the Novgorod bishop with the Novgorod commander to the prince, and strove to act with kindness. Alexander was moved to tears and answered that he was willing to stand before Uzbek, but the Pskoff men swore that they would not allow him to go from their city. Alexander sent this message from himself: “It is better that I die for all, than that all should perish for me. But ye might defend your own brothers and not yield them to pagans. Ye do just the opposite, and with you ye bring Mongols.”

“It is impossible to take the prince from Pskoff or drive him from the city.” These words were current in the camp of the allies. Ivan knew much more of the true state of affairs than could be gathered from camp reports, or the words of Alexander. He knew that Pskoff hoped to be independent of Novgorod, that it wished for its own prince, and thought that it had one now in Alexander. He knew also that Livonia supported the city in secret, understanding well that if alone it would be weaker and more easily subjected, while Lithuania supported Pskoff openly and roused the city to resistance. Alexander, consciously or not, was the helper of Gedimin. Ivan knew, perhaps, of a treaty made by Pskoff and Alexander with Livonia. “The Germans are near them, and they expect aid from them,” said Ivan in council. It was difficult for him to act. In those straits he remembered that when Yuri, his brother, was struggling with Tver, Maxim, the metropolitan, made peace at the outset. There was still another case, even more memorable. At the time when Dmitri of the Terrible Eyes, intending to war against Yuri, was leading his troops to Nizni, and had reached Vladimir, Pyotr, the bishop, stopped him by refusing to give him his blessing, and Dmitri, after waiting three weeks, returned home without meeting Yuri. Ivan turned now to Feognost, the metropolitan, and begged for his assistance.

Feognost consented immediately, and was ready to utter a curse on the Pskoff prince if he would not stand before Uzbek, and on all the Pskoff people unless they surrendered him. Envoys were sent to the city declaring that unless they submitted an interdict would be issued, and services stopped in the churches. All people would be excommunicated.

“Brothers and friends,” said Alexander to the people, on hearing [316]this message, “let your oath to me, and my oath to you lose their value. I will go from your city so that no harm may strike you. I will find refuge with the Germans or in Lithuania,” and he departed. Pskoff then informed Ivan that Alexander was no longer with them, and added: “Pskoff pays thee homage as its Grand Prince.”

Thus Ivan was the first Moscow prince who gave peace to Pskoff in the old fashion, as he would to his own principality. The metropolitan blessed the Pskoff people, and Ivan marched homeward with the princes. After Ivan had reached Moscow, Gedimin proposed that Novgorod should take as prince his son Narimont, and give him Oraihovo and Ladoga, with a part of Karelia, as inheritance. Moscow learned then for the first time that since Ivan had left Pskoff, Alexander had returned, and was prince there, supported by Gedimin. It was not this return alone which roused Novgorod, but the treason of the Pskoff men. The city had accepted Alexander as prince from Lithuania, and were striving now for church separation. When Vassili, the new archbishop, went from Novgorod for ordination, Gedimin of Lithuania and Alexander of Pskoff sent envoys to Feognost, Metropolitan of Russia, then in Volynia. These envoys took with them Arseni to be bishop in Pskoff. Gedimin had given Pskoff a prince in Alexander, and would now give a bishop. Feognost ordained Vassili as Archbishop of Novgorod, but refused to ordain Arseni, and Alexander’s envoys returned without a bishop. Gedimin, enraged by the Novgorod success, and the failure of Arseni, sent men to seize Vassili, but, warned by a messenger from Feognost, he escaped the Lithuanians, and returned in safety to Novgorod.

Alexander managed Pskoff for ten years, while Constantine and Vassili, his brothers, ruled the Tver region,—the first in Tver, the chief city, the second in Kashin in the northern part of the Tver principality. Ivan had reconciled the Tver princes with Uzbek, and as they were friendly and obedient their position was easy. Ivan asked of them only to leave the road free between Moscow and Novgorod,—Tver held the way between those two cities. Vladimir, the capital of the principality, was occupied by Alexander, the Suzdal prince, not as a capital, but as a possession. Ivan lived at all times in Moscow, which had become the real capital of Russia. Uzbek, as stated already, gave him many [317]lands in addition, giving Vladimir meanwhile to the Suzdal prince.

Several princes found themselves tied to Ivan through relationship. He gave one of his daughters to Vassili, Prince of Yaroslavl, another to Constantine of Rostoff. Those princes, fearing to disobey their father-in-law, had worked with him loyally thus far.

Besides having the Khan’s confidence, Ivan was strong through the tribute. No other Grand Prince had given the Khan such an income; and no prince held such uncontrolled management of tribute. This gave Ivan unique power and position. Of all princes in that day he was the only one, or at least the only one known to us, who had a fixed object. He took no part in local quarrels in favor of one or another region. He strove for Russia, and when prince only in Moscow he saw all Russia far in the future. This was clearly shown in his every act, not merely in the title which he assumed, “Grand Prince of Moscow and All Russia,” but in his relations with other princes and with Novgorod, and even with Uzbek. To preserve the Russian land in its integrity was, by the very working of fate, to preserve the Khan’s lordship, and support it for a season. There is no doubt that Ivan explained always to Uzbek the harmful growth of Lithuania, and as he himself warred with that power, so he roused Uzbek to war with it. He showed the Khan, too, the immense wealth of Novgorod in the distant lands of the East and the Pechora, to which Novgorod admitted no Grand Prince. Uzbek rewarded and honored his untiring assistant, and Ivan all the more easily reached his object, calling himself with deep reason Grand Prince, not of Moscow alone, but of all Russia.

Throughout his whole reign, Ivan had no personal quarrels; he deprived no prince of his inheritance, he made war on no rival. Still he kept all in obedience. At that epoch Alexander, the Tver prince, was beyond doubt the most important of the princes. Owing to Ivan’s non-interference, Alexander reigned ten years in Pskoff without annoyance; neither with arms nor with words did Ivan disturb him, but he watched Alexander’s connections with Gedimin and with Livonia, and forgot no intrigue of his.

Novgorod, fearing the power of Ivan, sought his good-will, offered friendship, and did not refuse to send Moscow more tribute than it had sent Vladimir. As Prince of Novgorod he might have been satisfied with the tribute, and the honor with [318]which Novgorod strove to placate him, but as chief of all Russia he was not content with this; he demanded what the city owed to all Russia. Ivan would never yield to Novgorod when it claimed single ownership of regions beyond the Volok, nor would he pardon its boyars for threatening to favor Lithuania. On those points he warred with the city at all times. During his reign he made Novgorod feel very clearly that he did not ask an extra thousand of grievens to build up Moscow, but that the boundaries fixed from the days of Yuri Dolgoruki, Andrei Bogolyubski, and Big Nest must be given to Vladimir. Besides he showed the Novgorod men that not to their city alone, but to all Russia, was open the road to the whole northern country. And the region beyond the Ural Mountains, the Kamen, as it was then called (beyond the Kamen meant Siberia) was, as Ivan considered it, the property, not of Novgorod alone, but of all Russia. Novgorod, however, insisted most stubbornly that those regions belonged to her exclusively. The Moscow prince would not concede this claim, and watched with the utmost care those relations which then began between Novgorod and Lithuania.

The boyars of Novgorod not only considered that they had a right to invite a prince from Lithuania, but apparently they were ready to place Novgorod under Lithuanian protection, if thus they could keep independent of other princes, and preserve to their city those rich, boundless lands on the north and the east.

Ivan would not admit for a moment that they had the right to call in a foreign prince, or owned exclusively those lands which they claimed for their own.

In 1332, when returning from the Horde, Ivan made a demand in the name of the Khan to which the people of Novgorod gave a stern refusal. He insisted, and to make sure of their compliance he seized the Upper Baijets and Torjok immediately. From that began a long quarrel. At times Novgorod seemed to yield, and the quarrel apparently ceased; again it would blaze up on the city’s renewed refusal. Thus the dispute continued during Ivan’s reign.

The main cause of the dispute was the silver beyond the Ural Mountains. Ivan demanded from Novgorod an income from places claimed by the city, no part of which income should go to any prince ruling in Novgorod. He wished to extend taxes over all Novgorod possessions to the boundaries of Siberia. [319]

In proportion as Novgorod quarreled with Ivan, it tried to be intimate with Pskoff. Vassili, the archbishop, having added stone walls to the Kremlin of Novgorod, found it proper to visit Pskoff and give the people his blessing, withheld since his installation, at which time he had opposed Pskoff’s efforts to separate from the diocese. A son had just been born to Alexander. The bishop baptized him, and was one of the godfathers of this little prince, named for his grandfather, Michael.

At that time Novgorod had entered into friendship with Lithuania, and Narimont, son of Gedimin, had arrived in the city. Novgorod received him with gladness, and gave him Ladoga with Oraihova and Karelia in part as a portion. In view of these acts Ivan went to Sarai, and when he came back it was stated that he had been shown great honor, and had gained large accessions of power while with Uzbek. This alarmed Novgorod. During Ivan’s absence the Novgorod archbishop had gone on a visit to Moscow, bearing gifts from the city to the metropolitan, who had just come from Tsargrad. The archbishop begged the metropolitan to speak with Ivan about Novgorod. This intercession succeeded, for when envoys arrived in Moscow and invited Ivan to Novgorod, he set aside his dislike for the city, entered Novgorod February 16, 1335, and was received there in triumph. They offered to add all their forces to his, and fall upon Pskoff if he so ordered. But he would not attack Pskoff at that period; he accepted their service, however, and marched on Lithuania. His forces, and those of the city, took towns in good number, and though this Lithuanian campaign was not the most important in conquest, it was in agreement.

Meanwhile Gedimin’s son had not justified Novgorod’s hopes in him, and he went back at last to his father. This freed Ivan’s hands, for he had been gracious to Novgorod partly because of this young prince’s presence at Ladoga. At this time Novgorod yielded in many, if not in all things to Ivan. He bought lands where he liked in Novgorod regions, and founded villages in them, a thing which Novgorod had never permitted to any prince. Still he yielded no claim touching Russia. The great contention as to what belonged to Novgorod, and what was all Russia’s dominion was still undecided. Novgorod now sought again the Pskoff friendship. But the Pskoff men knew well that Novgorod’s desire [320]for friendship came from dread of Ivan, Prince of Moscow. They knew also that a little while earlier Novgorod had offered aid against Pskoff, if Ivan wished to have it. There was no quarrel or hatred on either side at the time of the offer, and it had been made purely from policy; passion had had nothing to do with the matter.

If Ivan, as Grand Prince of all Russia, preferred his demands against Novgorod so insistently, we may understand very well that he was not tender with princes of small strength. Attendants and boyars of small princes went to serve him by preference, Moscow’s success was desired by all people who toiled and produced, because order and quietness came from it. No prince could rival Ivan in power and in resources. He surpassed not only each Russian prince separately, but he was stronger than any combination which might be made among them. For long years Ivan had worked at winning wealth and power. He had worked successfully and with great diligence. Then Uzbek gave him lands in addition to Moscow, and gave him perfect control of all tribute from other princes. This made his position unequaled. Ivan now held the purse. He kept such firm order that merchants felt safe to expose their goods everywhere. New markets on the Volga and elsewhere were opened. In Northern Russia Yaroslavl, near the mouth of the Mologa, a river which enters the Volga, was a place where German, Persian, Greek and Italian merchants met and sold goods during summer. The revenue from transactions was large. Boats covered the Volga, and till the sixteenth century this market was an important one in Russia.

Ivan purchased from poor princes not only villages, but towns such as Uglitch, Bailozersk, and Galitch beyond the Volga, and thus increased his inheritance unceasingly. He also bought from boyars and monasteries, and exchanged with them. He received presents of land and property through wills of friends and relatives. With the wealth which belonged to him personally, and that which pertained to his office, he was able to meet all possible demands.

Responsible to the Khan for Russian tribute, and paying this tribute at regular intervals, he frequently had to pay for princes who lacked ready money. Of these some grew insolvent and paid him with land. All, in greater or less degree, were dependent upon him; all in fact needed his protection. Without regard to the [321]murmurs of Novgorod boyars, he bought towns and villages in Novgorod regions continually. So, extending power from his capital always with the rights of a Grand Prince, to which he knew how to give proper emphasis, he was strong at all points, and for many reasons. Consequently boyars and warriors of weakening principalities went gladly to the service of Moscow.

Alexander, Prince of Pskoff for about ten years, was disturbed by no one. It was quite impossible that the Khan did not know what Alexander was doing, or had forgotten that Cholkhan, his favorite cousin, had been killed by him. At last Alexander left Pskoff of his own accord. Lest his son might lose Tver through his father’s exile, he resolved to appear at the Horde and hear the Khan’s sentence. It was thirteen years since his first visit, and now he was ten years in disobedience. To the astonishment of Mongol magnates, and of the Khan himself, Alexander stood before him, not only without trembling, but with a clear eye; and all were astounded at the words which he uttered:

“Supreme Sovereign,” said he, “though I have committed much evil, and am guilty before thee, I have come hither of my own will, and am ready to receive life or death, as God shall announce to thee. If, for the sake of God, through thy greatness thou give me pardon, I will thank God and thy grace; if thou give me death, I am worthy of death.” At this he bowed down, and added, “My head is at thy disposal.”

For a moment Uzbek was dumb from astonishment, and all present wondered. Alexander was kneeling with bowed head, and in silence. “See ye,” said Uzbek at last, “how with obedient wisdom Alexander has saved himself.” The Khan pardoned him straightway, gave him back the Tver principality, and sent him home without injury.

But Alexander from the first had an ominous feeling, a presentiment that evil days were approaching. When the Khan’s officials had installed him, and Abdul, the chief envoy, was returning to Sarai, “to show the Khan favor,” he took to the Golden Horde Alexander’s son, Feodor. Soon news came from this prince of fifteen years that for some unknown reason the Khan was very angry, and would not dismiss him. Alexander understood then that his son had been taken as a hostage.

The return of Alexander to Tver signified a return to the old [322]quarrels with Moscow. It meant trouble also in governing. Alexander brought with him to Tver new boyars and warriors, partly strangers. The chief of these boyars was a German from Livonia. The Tver boyars were not pleased with this man, or with the return of Alexander. The Moscow prince, of course, could not expect such relations with Alexander as with Constantine. The old rivalry was remembered, and with Alexander were renewed the claims of the Tver principality not to depend on the Prince of all Russia, but to be quite apart from him and separate. Through this example and also through advice from Alexander, other princes showed the same tendencies. As soon as Tver had left that position which for some years it had held toward Ivan, a similar movement appeared in other places, especially in Yaroslavl, where David, Ivan’s son-in-law, showed clear disobedience. Unpleasant reports came from Lithuania. It seemed as though Ivan had lost in one moment, and fatally, all that he had gained step by step for a decade. Was he now to be Grand Prince of Russia, or was the old rivalry between Moscow and Tver to begin again? Alexander felt the need of explaining relations with Moscow, but Ivan avoided discussions of all sorts. Envoys came at last to Ivan from Alexander, but Ivan would not talk upon any subject with the Tver prince, hence there was no result from the action of the envoys.

Ivan went now to the Horde. This visit of his to Uzbek produced on all a peculiar impression. He took with him his eldest and second sons, Simeon and Ivan; the youngest, Andrei, he sent to Novgorod. This sending of a son to Novgorod was not without special meaning. Ivan had remained two years, not in peace, not in war with the city. Lord Novgorod had not met his demands, and he had not dropped them. By sending Andrei to the city at this juncture, Ivan reminded Novgorod men once again that he looked on their capital as his inheritance.

At Novgorod the usual disorders were active. Gedimin’s son, who had been absent for a time in Lithuania, had returned, but there was great dissatisfaction with him, for he did not show sufficient energy in defending their borders against the Swedes.

Ivan came back from the Horde with added power and new honor. All princes were placed under his hand still more firmly. It became known very quickly that, owing to Ivan’s suggestion, [323]the princes were summoned to Sarai to receive the Khan’s commands.

Alexander knew that now he must go, and that he would never again see Tver. He sent quickly to his son for any information which he might have regarding the affair. The tidings which came back were woeful and he hesitated. An envoy now came to Alexander from the Khan promising him favor, but at the same time reminding him that his son was held as hostage. If a year before the Tver prince had hastened to the Horde when he himself was in danger, he hastened all the more now when Feodor was threatened.

Meanwhile Ivan had gone to Sarai still a second time, and taken with him his three sons. Before Alexander’s arrival at the Horde Ivan was back in Moscow, but his sons had wished to remain with the Khan.

With Alexander went the princes of Bailozero and Yaroslavl. When the Tver prince approached the Khan’s capital, his son came to meet him, and with tearful eyes told of Uzbek’s dreadful anger. “God’s will be done,” said Alexander. “If I do not die now, I shall die on some other day.” In accord with Mongol custom, he presented rich gifts to the Khan and his magnates, but the gifts were received in gloomy silence. His offenses were not declared, nor were questions asked him. It was announced that the Khan had commanded to give him to death without trial. But till his last day, October 28, 1339, he enjoyed freedom. That morning he sent to one of the Khan’s wives, who had been kind to Feodor, to learn his fate; then he mounted a horse to make the inquiry in person. She did not conceal from the prince that his last sun had risen.

Returning to his tent, Alexander embraced Feodor, and took farewell of his attendants. He kissed his boyars, asking pardon of all, then he and his son with the boyars took holy communion. Soon after that they heard the executioners approaching, and Alexander and Feodor went forth to meet them. The men stripped the clothes from the two princes, tied their hands, and led them toward Tablubey, the Khan’s magnate, who was present on horseback. “Kill them!” commanded Tablubey. The executioners hurled the prince and his son to the earth, beat both with fists, and then, after trampling them to death, cut their heads off. Alexander’s attendants carried the bodies to Tver. [324]

That winter Ivan’s three sons were sent home in high favor. By command of “the Godless Uzbek,” adds the chronicler, “the following princes were put to death during that winter: Feodor of Starodub, Ivan and Vassili of Ryazan, and Alexander Novosilski.

The position acquired by Ivan through the favor of Uzbek was evident to all other princes. They knew, moreover, that after his death no change would be made. Every measure had been taken to give primacy to his family, and not to another.

Six months had not passed after the death of Alexander and his son, when Ivan died, March 31, 1340, being about fifty years of age. He died before his time, and perhaps unexpectedly, but he was able to go to Spasski, his favorite monastery, and put on the monk’s habit. He was buried in the Archangel Cathedral, his tomb being the first in that series of Moscow sovereigns, his descendants.

Uzbek, besides appreciating Ivan as a servant who was faithful and who worked for him zealously, liked the man personally. He placed him above all the princes, honored him in sovereign style, and made him presents. Among those presents was a bag, the Mongol kalitá, destined to historic celebrity. Of Ivan it was said by those who praised him that to the poor he stretched a hand which was never empty; that whenever he went from his palace he filled his kalitá with coins and gave them to the poor whom he met in his progress. “Not precious the gift,” says the proverb, “but precious the love which goes with it,” and Ivan Kalitá, as people came to call him from the gift of the Khan which ever afterward he used so constantly, gave his coins affably, for he liked much to give to the needy. The kalitá which he had received from Uzbek’s own hands might be considered emblematic of his leading activity and methods. Though one use of this kalitá was to carry coins for the needy, Ivan’s purse had other uses. It was the clearing house of Russia in his day. Into it flowed the tribute and taxes; out of it went the sums for which account was imperative; with him remained for use in his struggle for supremacy all profits and remnants of every kind. One of the most important acts of Ivan’s life was the removal of the religious capital of Russia from Vladimir to Moscow. During his pastoral visits, Peter of Lithuania, at that time metropolitan, came to Moscow frequently, and conceived a friendship for Ivan. Later he spent all of his time in Moscow, where he died and was buried. His last words to Kalitá were: “If [325]you obey me, my son, you will build a church here and give repose to my bones in your city. You and your sons and your grandsons will thus gain more fame than all the other princes, and this place will be renowned. The pastors of the church will dwell in it, and it will be above all other cities.” The church was built. The succeeding metropolitan would not desert the house and tomb of the holy Peter, and Moscow became the center of religious administration.

During 1340 died Ivan Kalitá, Gedimin, and Uzbek Khan of the Golden Horde, three men who left profound traces in Russia.

Before touching on Gedimin, we must give some account of his dynasty. In the district of Kovno, on the right bank of the Dubissa, is a place called Eiragola. In the thirteenth century there was a small wooden castle in Eiragola, and from that castle came the Lithuanian princes. The first noted man of this line was Mindog; the first great one was Gedimin. Mindog was sure of success in that place and epoch. He was a man for whom all means were equally good, if equally effective. He had only one way of judging an action,—might it be of use to him, and had he power to commit it?

When Batu had conquered Eastern Russia, the Lithuanian princes fell to raiding the west of that country, but in 1246, while returning from a raid, they were overtaken near Pinsk and scattered by Daniel of Galitch and his brother, Vassilko. The next year, another such party was crushed by those same princes.

In 1252, Mindog sent Vykint, his uncle, and two nephews, Tovtivil and Edivil, to attack Smolensk places, and to ravage the country. “Let each of you keep what he wins,” said he at parting. But these words were used simply to mislead and deceive his three relatives. As soon as they had gone, Mindog seized their possessions, and sent warriors to follow and kill them. They heard of this treachery in season, and took refuge quickly with Daniel, who had married the sister of Tovtivil and Edivil. Mindog sent at once to Daniel, asking him not to assist them, but Daniel paid no heed to this message; first through regard for his wife’s brothers and her uncle, and second because he wished to weaken Mindog and his people. After counseling with Vassilko, Daniel formed a plan. He sent to Polish princes this message: “It is time for us to fall upon pagans, since they are warring against one another.” He sent similar messages to the Yatvyags, to Jmud, and to the Germans in Riga. [326]

Vykint, Daniel’s envoy, roused the Yatvyags, and half the Jmud region. The Germans sent this answer to Daniel: “Though Vykint, thy relative, has killed many of our men, we have made peace with him, and will assist you.” The brothers now set out to make war in earnest. Daniel sent Vassilko to Volkovisk, his son to Slonim, and then marched to Zditov. They captured many towns and returned to Galitch well satisfied. After that, he sent Tovtivil with Russians and Polovtsi against Mindog. The Germans made no move whatever, until Tovtivil went to Riga, where he received baptism from them; then they made ready for action.

Mindog saw that he could not meet two foes in one conflict. He could not war with the Germans and Daniel of Galitch at the same time. Hence he sent secretly rich gifts to the Grand Master Von Schtükland, and the following proposal: “If thou kill Tovtivil or expel him, thou wilt get still greater gifts from me.” Von Schtükland replied that he felt immense friendship for Mindog, but could give no aid till baptism had changed him. Mindog asked for a meeting, which was granted, and he settled the question while feasting with Von Schtükland. The Lithuanian prince was to be baptized. On hearing this news, the Pope was delighted, and wrote to the bishop that no one should offend the new convert. The Bishop of Culm was to crown him.

But Mindog was forced to Christianity under the sword-blade, just as the Prussians had been forced to it earlier, and had gone back to the faith of their fathers whenever the chance came. Mindog, however, escaped all the dangers which threatened him from the Order. Tovtivil fled to Vykint, his uncle. He assembled warriors from the Yatvyags and Jmud, and, aided by warriors from Daniel, marched against Mindog assisted now by the Germans.

During 1252, the war was not marked by notable action, but in 1253 Daniel took part in it personally, and with such success that Mindog asked for peace. He offered his daughter to Daniel’s son, Svaromir, and found still other means of persuasion.

Tovtivil declared now that Mindog had bribed the Yatvyags, who refused to assist Daniel longer. Daniel was enraged at the Yatvyags, but that could not serve him. Two years passed. In 1255, there was peace between Daniel of Galitch and Mindog’s son, Voishelk. Voishelk was a man greatly noted, even in that [327]time of bloodshed. Mindog was cruel and terrible, but Voishelk surpassed him, if the annalist is truthful. Voishelk shed blood from his youth up. “Every day he killed three or four men for amusement. When his time passed without bloodshed, he was sad, and when he had killed a man, good feeling returned to him.”

All at once news came of Voishelk’s baptism; nay, more, it was said that he had left ruling, and had put on a monk’s habit. This man now appeared as a peacemaker between Daniel and Mindog. The conditions seemed so favorable that Daniel did not reject them. Daniel’s son, Svaromir (familiarly Shvarn), was to marry Mindog’s daughter; Shvarn’s elder brother, Roman, was to have Novgrodek from Mindog, and Daniel was to get Slonim and Volkovisk from Voishelk, on condition of recognizing Mindog as his superior in those places.

Mindog had promised the Order to accept its religion for himself and all the people under him. He was to receive the friendship of the Order, and the kingly office as a reward. In exchange, he was to give the Order various places in Jmud, those same places where there had been such terrible bloodshed because of newcomers fleeing from Prussia. The friendship seemed to be made for the ages, and a speedy union of the two lands appeared imminent. In case that he had no heir, Mindog agreed to give his kingdom to Livonia, now of one faith with him.

The Bishop of Culm came with priests and monks; the Grand Master with knights of the Order. Mindog was christened, anointed, and crowned at Novgrodek. Pope Innocent IV in 1255 blessed the new convert to war against Russia and its inhabitants who were schismatic, and confirmed in advance to him all regions which he might join to his kingdom.

“The God-Crowned King,” as he was entitled, freed himself gradually from every one. From Tovtivil he freed himself by perfidy; from the Yatvyags by money, from Daniel through marriage and lands, from Poland by victories. One Polish prince was slain in battle, another was captured. Then the Knights of Livonia discovered what kind of man their good friend and new convert was. Mindog turned on them and fought like a hero. He sent a message stating that he dropped them and their baptism. He roused Jmud to the struggle, and those people whom he had so recently surrendered to the Order rose up against it in pitiless [328]warfare. To one who did not understand Mindog’s keen policy, it might seem strange that he should show such hatred for his godfathers, and should openly irritate the Order. The Germans, however, knew from the first that his conversion was feigned for the purpose of obtaining aid.

He did not cease to observe the ancient rites of his people; he made sacrifices to their deities, but for him that was not sufficient. He was a shrewd leader of men; he had also learned the policy of Germans. It was necessary to fire the hearts of his people, and to purify himself perfectly from any taint of German religion, hence before Lithuanians he ridiculed his own pretended conversion.

The Germans made war on him promptly, but were defeated. Mindog, in celebrating his victory, made a great sacrifice. It was not enough for him to burn bulls and horses; he took one of the knights whom he had captured and burned him on horseback in complete battle armor, as an offering.

After the marriage of his daughter to Daniel’s son, Mindog sustained friendly relations with Russia. He made more than one campaign with Daniel and Vassilko against the Yatvyags and disobedient Lithuanians, and against the Poles, and princes of Northern Russia. He went against the Livonian Knights to fight Riga. When Daniel became a widower, he married a niece of Mindog. Mindog had power now, but he had become too important for his family. His relatives were enraged at his haughtiness; they would not permit him to so exalt himself, and though he was the single ruler of all Lithuania, they ceased not to plan his death. At last personal hatred subdued the man.

Mindog’s wife died in 1262, and he grieved much. To her sister, the wife of Prince Dovmont, he sent this message: “Thy sister is dead; come to see us.” When she came, Mindog said: “When dying, thy sister commanded me to marry thee, that her children might not be tormented.” And he took his sister-in-law as wife.

Dovmont, in deep anger, planned to kill Mindog. Seeking an ally, he found one in Trenyat, the Jmud prince. In 1263, Mindog sent all his troops against Roman of Bryansk, who ruled east of the Dnieper. Dovmont was in that expedition. While on the road he declared to the leaders that a wizard had warned him [329]not to advance farther, and leaving the army, he returned straightway to Mindog’s castle, where he killed him and his two sons.

Trenyat, very likely through a bargain with Dovmont, began to reign in Lithuania in place of Mindog, and also in Jmud, and sent to Tovtivil of Polotsk, his brother, saying: “Come at once; we will seize the whole land and all Mindog’s substance.”

The division caused a quarrel. Tovtivil began to think how to kill Trenyat, and Trenyat how to be rid of his brother. Tovtivil’s boyar informed Trenyat of the prince’s designs. Trenyat, being quicker than Tovtivil, killed him and reigned unassisted, but his reign was not long. Four of Mindog’s equerries, to avenge their late prince, murdered Trenyat.

Voishelk, when he learned of his father’s death, went to Minsk, but when he heard that Trenyat had been assassinated, he set out with Pinsk forces for Novgrodek, and from there, taking more warriors, he went to Lithuania, where his father’s adherents received him most joyfully. He began to reign, and as if to make men forget that he had ever worn a monk’s habit, he fell to slaying his enemies wherever he found them. In his new rôle of avenger he surpassed himself. Along the Nieman and all the Jmud boundaries Voishelk shed blood for the death of his father. When he had restored what had been taken from Mindog’s possessions, and extended them, and had almost exterminated his father’s enemies, he yielded all to his brother-in-law. He wished to be a monk and retire to Mount Athos. No matter how Shvarn begged, he would not remain, he would have no earthly dominion. “I have sinned much before God and man,” replied Voishelk. “Do thou rule; the land is in peace now.”

This was the year that Daniel of Galitch died, and shortly before his decease Voishelk asked him for a safe-conduct to Mount Athos. But as there was war in Bulgaria, the would-be monk was forced to turn back without seeing the holy mountain. He settled then in Volynia, built a monastery, and passed the remainder of his life in seclusion.

Voishelk and Dovmont are considered as cousins. The fate of the two is remarkable; one became a monk, the other a warrior. Dovmont fled from civil war in Lithuania, taking his troops with him. He was baptized in Pskoff and married the daughter of Prince Dmitri, son of Nevski. He became a great favorite of his [330]father-in-law. Pskoff was thereafter safe, not only from Lithuanian raids, but from the Knights of Livonia, whom he drove from the walls of the city and followed into the depths of the forests. Though Dovmont fought many battles he never lost one, and he governed the Pskoff people with firmness and wisdom. Voishelk assumed the monk’s habit, but the habit and the building of a monastery were accounted as nothing to Voishelk, while Dovmont’s sword is held sacred in Pskoff, even to our day.

Lithuania fell back into anarchy. There were continual struggles between the descendants of Mindog and other princes, who would not accept their supremacy, and no distinguished man appeared until Gedimin. In 1315 Gedimin replaced Viten, and about this time died Yuri Lvovitch, the grandson of Daniel and the last prince of both Galitch and Volynia.

In 1316 Andrei and Lev, the two sons of Yuri, divided Volynia and Galitch between them. But the great Roman’s inheritance was of small use to those, his weak and last male descendants. Those two sons of Yuri Lvovitch had each a daughter, one of whom married the Mazovian prince, Troiden; the other married Lyubart, a son of Gedimin. Lyubart received Volynia with his princess and laid claim to Galitch. So the Lithuania of Gedimin’s day was increased by almost the whole of South Russia.

Rome, meanwhile, did not cease to consider Lithuania as one of its bishoprics. The churches of Livonia and Lithuania were spoken of as neighboring churches, and the Pope acted in Lithuania through Livonia. But about the time Gedimin began to rule, a dispute was raging between the knights and the Bishop of Riga. The bishop complained to the Pope that the knights, by their greed, love of power, and savage treatment, turned people away from Christianity. The knights declared that the bishops, in dealing with conquered people, influenced them against the knights and encouraged them in paganism. They proved to the Pope that the Bishop of Riga had invited the people more than once to act against the Order; that the bishops negotiated in secret with Lithuanian princes and extended their influence over the people; that they acted in spite of the Order, and used the Order only when they had need of its services. In view of such contradictory statements, the Pope took sometimes the side of the bishop, and sometimes the side of the Order, not hindering either side, [331]however, in continuing the “sacred work” of converting the infidels.

Through the Bishop of Riga the Pope received in 1323 a message from Gedimin stating that he was ready for baptism, as were all people under him. He asked that the knights be prevented from making war on Lithuania, and declared that the Order had stopped him from having relations directly with the Curia; that they helped in no way to Christianize people.

At the same time letters went to the Franciscans and Dominicans in Riga, requesting that monks be sent to Lithuania. Letters were sent also to Germany with offers of free trade, and asking for colonists. The Pope was delighted with the letter from Gedimin, and commanded the Order to stop warlike action in view of Lithuania’s conversion. The Archbishop of Riga made a friendly alliance with Gedimin, and the Order was forced to join also.

In due time envoys appeared from Rome, and when they had confirmed all agreements between Lithuania and Livonia, they set out to find Gedimin and establish the Catholic faith in his capital and elsewhere. They intended to baptize and crown the Lithuanian prince, and then baptize all his subjects, but this they were unable to do.

In Vilna they found things very different from what they had expected. They found great hatred for the German religion; they found, to their astonishment, Orthodox churches; they found also that the heathen Lithuanians not only threatened to hurl Gedimin from power if he tried to baptize them, but to exterminate his whole family. They saw that all Jmud and the Prussians would rise if Gedimin endeavored to bring in the German religion. Besides this, Gedimin’s Russian Orthodox subjects formed three-fourths of the whole population; they also threatened loudly. Thus opposed on two sides, his position would have been difficult had he really wished to introduce the German religion. Gedimin had been christened in the Orthodox faith, whether through conviction or policy we may not determine at this day, but his motives must have been overwhelming, either to remain pagan or become Orthodox. He sent the legates away. They went back enraged and indignant at the faith-breaking ruler. But Gedimin found no fault in himself; he found it on the other side. Each side accused the other, but it was difficult to tell which was the more perfidious. [332]Illiterate Lithuania carried on its home correspondence in Russian, but with Rome and the West the Livonian Germans helped Gedimin in Latin, and he had monks for that purpose from Vilna. It proved that those zealous aids, in their Latin letters sent to Rome by the way of Riga, had written much over Gedimin’s name which he would not acknowledge. In every case, when thunders struck him from the Vatican, and throughout Western Europe men called him a preternatural deceiver and liar, a forerunner of Antichrist, who trampled on laws divine and human, Gedimin justified himself, saying that the Latin writers had not correctly translated his words; he had never uttered the words which they had written.

The German now became more troublesome than ever. Gedimin was forced to perpetual conflict with his neighbors. The knights, warring continually on the banks of the Niemen, made their attacks in the form of excursions, which they called “journeys.” Men came in large numbers from every part of the Holy Roman Empire to join those excursions. In 1336 there came of simple knights about two hundred counts and princes, and the Grand Master formed for their amusement what might be called a great pagan hunt.

Like the founder of Riga, his successor, the Grand Master did not cease to baptize pagan people, who later on complained to all Europe in these words: “Listen to us, O princes spiritual and secular! The knights are not seeking our souls for God; they are seeking our land for their own use. They have brought us to this,—that we must either beg or be robbers if we are to save the lives in us. The knights are worse than the Mongols. All that the land gives, or that bees gather in they take. They do not let us kill a beast, or catch a fish, or trade with our neighbors. They take our children as hostages, our elders they hunt off to Prussia and imprison; our sisters and daughters they take for themselves. And still those men wear the cross of Christ on their mantles! Have pity on us. We too are men, and not wild beasts. We would take Christianity, and be baptized not in blood, but in sacred water.”

When the knights did not cease visiting their “godchildren,” the latter greeted them with these words: “What place will ye rob now, for everything is taken by your prelates [333]and priests,—all wool, honey, and milk. They teach Christianity poorly.”

The Grand Master, for the amusement of his guests, made an “excursion” to the island of Pillene, where four thousand people of Jmud, men, women, and children, together with their elders, had entrenched themselves strongly. In vain did the Germans fill the ditches, attack and cut down people; they could not take the place. At last they hurled in burning arrows wrapped with a blazing substance, and the fortress took fire on all sides.

The besieged resolved to perish. They built up a great pile of wood, and threw on to it all that they held of most value. That done, they slew one another; fathers killed their children, husbands their wives, and put the bodies on the pile. The few who remained arranged themselves in pairs and stabbed one another; those who died first were placed on the pile by those who died later. The elder of the people stood apart and watched everything to the end. When all the others were dead he killed his wife, put her on the pile, and set fire to it, then he mounted the blazing wood, killed himself, and burned with his people. When the knights broke in they found no one to finish, and had merely to tell in their annals of the dreadful tragedy in which they had played the part both of actors and of audience.

Gedimin declared entire liberty to the Orthodox Church, and before his countrymen he announced himself a defender of that pagan faith to which they adhered so devotedly. In Vilna the znitch (sacred fire) was maintained without dying, and every rite of that interesting Lithuanian religion was supported in its primitive vigor. For this he was denounced, and the Livonian Knights began war for that cross the symbol of which, together with a sword, they wore embroidered on their mantles.

Gedimin went out to meet them, and this was his last encounter with Germans. On the right bank of the Niemen in that Jmud land was a strong fortress, Velona, a defense against Germans, almost on the edge of that district which the Knights of the Cross and Livonia had conquered. Thus far they had not been able to take Velona, and even now they did not venture to storm it. They determined to destroy the stronghold in another way. They built a fortress at each side of it, and set about starving out the garrison.

Gedimin came to the rescue of his people, and was soon besieging [334]the Germans in their two fortresses. Firearms had become known in the West only a short time before, and the Germans were now using guns, which later on were called “squealers.” During the conflict, Gedimin was killed by a ball. He was taken to Vilna and seated on his favorite horse. By him were placed his faithful armor-bearer, his hunting-dogs and falcons, and he and they were then burned according to the primitive ritual of the Lithuanians. With him were burned three German knights in full armor, and much booty taken from Germans.

Gedimin had married twice, each time a Russian princess. Five of his sons were Orthodox and belong entirely to Russian history. Of five daughters, four received Orthodox baptism, and two—Maria, the widow of Dmitri of Tver, surnamed Terrible Eyes, and Augusta, the first wife of Ivan Kalitá’s son—died nuns. Gedimin left a domain extending from the Niemen to the Lower Dnieper and the Dniester, including Kief, the ancient capital. This state, by special structure, population and religion, was for the greater part Russian, especially in language.

Of Gedimin’s sons who survived him, seven are mentioned. Of these the ablest and most important was Olgerd, with whom his brother, Keistut, was associated closely. Olgerd’s first wife was a daughter of the Vitebsk prince who left no sons, and through this wife Olgerd inherited her father’s possessions. Soon after Gedimin’s death, Olgerd seized power over all his brothers, took Vilna and became the one ruler of Lithuania. This meant at that time Kief and the best part of Russia.

Russian chronicles, without praising Olgerd, give him full justice. His self-restraint was unparalleled. He refrained from vain things most carefully, from sports and amusements of all kinds. He drank no wine, beer or mead. He was temperate in every way; from this, he acquired clear reason and great keenness. His mind was ever working; he toiled day and night at extending his dominion; he won many countries and lands; he subjected cities with all the broad regions under them; he increased his possessions untiringly. Olgerd was equally at home in Lithuania and Russia. He spoke with the Jmud men like a neighbor; Russian was his language from childhood. With the Knights of the Cross he could speak in German, and he knew something of Latin. [335]

With Lithuanian princes love of war was inborn, but Olgerd surpassed all men in the cunning of his sudden attacks, and the subtle concealment of his purpose. There was no man more unsparing and ruthless than Olgerd. He warred with the Mongols near Kief, and hunted them out of Podolia. He inflicted bloody defeat on the Germans near the Niemen, while helping Lyubart, his brother. He drove the Poles from Volynia and Galitch, and fought with them in their own places; he threatened also the Hungarians. Olgerd’s sword was the most terrible ever wielded by a man of his dynasty; while defending Polotsk from Livonia it defended Volynia and Kief from Polish inroads.

But that which might satisfy Mindog or Gedimin could not satisfy Olgerd. To be prince of Lithuania and one half of Russia was not his ambition; he was striving for more than that, striving for power over Smolensk, Tver, Pskoff, Novgorod, and Moscow. He aspired to be ruler of all Russia. The Moscow princes had in him a dangerous enemy. Hence the Grand Prince of Moscow, in struggling to consolidate Russia, and put himself at the head of it, had a problem of the utmost complication and difficulty. [336]




Lithuania increased after Gedimin’s death, and so did Moscow when Ivan Kalitá was succeeded by Simeon.

After the death of Ivan, who died a few months before Uzbek, his sons Simeon, Ivan, and Andrei went to Sarai. Other princes went hither also, among them Constantine, son of Michael of Tver, and the Suzdal prince, Constantine, son of Vassili. Both the Tver prince and the Suzdal prince hoped to obtain the first place through seniority. Uzbek, now very old, received the three Moscow princes with kindness and sympathy. Through friendship for their father, he preferred them to others, and gave Simeon the patent immediately. He enjoined obedience to the Grand Khan, declared that he would listen to no calumnies against them, and dismissed the three brothers with affection and honor. Ivan’s heirs were all included in this grand patent. Uzbek engaged not to take from those heirs the inheritance of their ancestors, to give the principality to them, and not to others. After them it should go to their children. This distinction exalted the Moscow house above others immediately, and raised Simeon, the oldest man in it, supremely.

Simeon, like his father, used the title Grand Prince of All Russia. This title, so great in its meaning and future importance, received strength from the Moscow throne, which had now become magnified. On returning from the Horde Simeon took his place in Moscow as Grand Prince. While at the Horde he had met many Russian princes; he met others in Vladimir, where, after he had received the metropolitan’s blessing, he was solemnly greeted by all men. Later, there was a general assembling of princes in Moscow, at Simeon’s invitation. “Esteemed and dear brethren,” said Simeon, addressing the princes, “if there be peace and agreement [337]among us, Russia will be free again, as she was in the days of the earlier princes.”

According to Simeon, there was power enough to defend Russia, but there was lack of agreement. At that meeting he mentioned the offenses of Novgorod, complained of those unjust, wayward people, and said, “They make war and peace with whomever they please, consulting with no one. Novgorod regards not all Russia, and will not obey her Grand Prince.” It was resolved then to punish and subdue Great Novgorod. War had been declared by Ivan before his death, and Simeon had inherited this struggle.

Meanwhile Novgorod had added a new offense. Its daring freebooters, who were real river and land pirates, had plundered Moscow possessions in the Ustyug and Bailozero regions. To such an insolent challenge, Simeon replied with moderation. He sent men to collect Torjok arrears of long established taxes, which, because of troubles in Vladimir, Novgorod had neglected. At times these taxes were paid, at times they were disputed. With the tax officials went now a small number of warriors. These men remained in Torjok, and sent collectors to all appointed places. At this the Novgorod boyars in Torjok sent to their city for aid. When the Novgorod party appeared, they imprisoned Simeon’s lieutenant and his officials. Torjok envoys arrived at this time in Moscow with haughty speeches.

“How is this?” asked they of Simeon. “Thou art not confirmed yet in Novgorod, and hast not taken thy seat in the city; still thy boyars are acting among us.” They pointed out to Simeon that he was gosudar (lord) in Moscow alone; that Novgorod chose its own princes and would not endure dictation. To sum up briefly, they multiplied those explanations because of which Kalitá had recently declared war against Novgorod.

Simeon did not argue; he mustered his forces. There was an outbreak and riot in Torjok, where, as in Novgorod, common men took the part of the Grand Prince. They freed the Moscow officials, and then fell to plundering the rich men of Novgorod.

Meanwhile Simeon was rapidly approaching with his army. He was met with gladness by the people of Torjok. With him came princes from Rostoff, Yaroslavl, and Suzdal. Novgorod men, as ever, used lofty phrases at first, but eschewed hopeless [338]warfare, and sent to ask peace of the Grand Prince. They paid all dues past and present; besides, it was settled that without the consent of the Grand Prince, the city would not war against any one, or make an alliance.

In general it may be said that during Simeon’s reign and that of his immediate successors the affairs of Novgorod and Pskoff did not thrive very greatly. Meanwhile there was continual conflict along Baltic waters, east, north and south of Riga. Every place was in fear of being attacked on a sudden. Hostility from foreigners was the great, the chronic evil. In Moscow, peace reigned almost as completely as in Kalitá’s day. The same relations with the Horde that had been maintained during Uzbek’s reign were maintained during the rule of Chanibek, who became Khan in 1340. The first threats of danger came from the West, which was at this time an enemy far more dangerous to Moscow than were the Mongols.

When Olgerd took Vilna in 1345, and declared himself lord of Lithuania, certain brothers of his sought an asylum in Moscow. Simeon had now to reckon on meeting Olgerd, whose attack on Majaisk was still fresh in his memory, as well as his raid on Novgorod, and his insolent deeds in Pskoff, which were followed by plundering Pskoff regions. Roused to action by Olgerd’s fleeing brothers, Simeon was ready for conflict. Olgerd, knowing this, planned to checkmate him. He sent a great embassy to Chanibek with rich presents. At the head of this embassy went his own brother, Koriat, accompanied by a number of princes. He asked for an alliance against their common enemies, chief of whom, as he stated, was the Grand Prince of Moscow.

Simeon learned of this move, and sent envoys immediately to Chanibek. Among them were Russianized Mongol murzas, then serving the Moscow prince.

By Lithuania they understood at the Horde, from Batu’s day, something quite different and independent of that Russia subjected by Mongols. In Gedimin’s time, Lithuania was not only independent, but dangerous, and dreaded by Uzbek. Hence the imploring and lowly attitude of Lithuania pleased the Khan greatly, and the embassy was received with distinction. But when Simeon’s envoys came, the position changed quickly. They explained through the Russianized murzas that Olgerd, by his attacks and [339]incursions, was devastating the Khan’s dominions, and leading out prisoners in multitudes. “If thou permit this,” said they, “Olgerd will take us all captive, and make thy dominions a desert.”

Chanibek was “as angry as fire.” He seized the Lithuanians and sent them to Moscow. With them went, as special envoy, Tatuti, to deliver to the Grand Prince Koriat, Olgerd’s brother, and all who were with him. Olgerd grew mild now, the more so since he had suffered a crushing defeat from the Germans. Those iron-clad warriors had broken into Lithuania, taken Troki, and ravaged the country around it. Olgerd had such a battle with them as he had never known previously. Fourteen thousand Lithuanians fell. It was no time to quarrel with Moscow, hence he sent an embassy to Simeon with many gifts and a humble prayer for peace, the life of his brother, and the freedom of that brother’s attendants.

Simeon, who had recourse to war only when war was unavoidable, received Olgerd’s envoys with favor, concluded peace with them, and freed Koriat with his embassy.

Soon after this, Olgerd again became related to Simeon, whose first wife was a daughter of Gedimin. Simeon in 1347 married Maria, the daughter of Alexander, son of Michael, the Tver prince, who, with his father, was put to death by the Mongols. Olgerd asked now for the hand of Julianna, Maria’s sister. Simeon, being the guardian of his sister-in-law, was troubled about Olgerd’s Christianity. He had been baptized before taking Maria of Vitebsk, his first wife, and had declared at Pskoff that he was a Christian, but after Maria’s death he had persecuted Christians, in order to hold his heathen subjects more firmly, and three Orthodox Christians had been martyred in Vilna. But after consulting the metropolitan, Simeon gave Julianna in marriage to Olgerd.

This marriage was memorable, for by this Julianna Olgerd had his son Yagello, the first of the Yagello dynasty, the man who gave Lithuania to Latinism and to Poland.

The house of Gedimin strengthened its relations with the house of Rurik by another marriage, that of Lyubart, Olgerd’s brother. After the death of his first wife, the great-granddaughter of Daniel of Galitch, Lyubart asked in marriage Simeon’s niece, a daughter of Constantine, the Pskoff prince. [340]

But Olgerd, though doubly a brother-in-law of the Moscow prince, became more intimate with his wife’s brothers, Michael and Vsevolod, sons of Alexander the martyr. Soon after this, Michael became the most prominent of all the Tver princes, and threatened Moscow, through Olgerd, with attacks, which Olgerd, in the guise of assistance to the Tver prince, never ceased to make while it was humanly possible to do so.

While Michael’s sons were living, Constantine in Tver, and Vassili in Kashin, the Tver princes bore themselves peaceably. Their quarrels were moderated somewhat by Simeon, who gave his daughter in marriage to Michael, the son of Vassili. Simeon favored Vassili because of his seniority, though he loved Vsevolod, who was quarreling with Michael. But after Simeon’s death, the internal Tver quarrel broke out with violence.

In Ryazan princely quarrels were endless, till Oleg rose there above other princes, and for a time was important.

During his short reign Simeon warred only with those who attacked him, against whom he was forced to defend himself. The first of these was Olgerd, who, at the death of Simeon’s father, had attacked Mojaisk. In company with the Smolensk prince, Olgerd also attacked Novgorod savagely. But these wars were stopped before they became very serious.

After Olgerd’s second marriage he did not desist from those seizures. When he had connected many towns of Smolensk with his rule, and annexed some of them, he strove to extend his dominion to places claimed both by Moscow and Tver, and also to places south of Smolensk and Kaluga.

In 1351–1352 Simeon was forced to take arms because of this action. He declared war on Olgerd, and marched with strong forces against him. Olgerd preferred to negotiate. He sent envoys with gifts, and Simeon inclined to peace. Certain towns acknowledged by Olgerd as belonging to Moscow were claimed by Smolensk. Simeon then led forward his forces, and took possession of them. In this way the war ended favorably for Moscow, and was the last act of Simeon’s life. He died of the plague April 27, 1352. Forty days earlier, Feognost, the metropolitan of Russia, had died of old age. That same week Simeon lost two young sons, and almost at the same time Andrei, his brother. Of Kalitá’s sons there now remained only one, Ivan, the successor of Simeon. [341]

Before touching on the reign of Ivan, it is well to give some account of the man who succeeded Feognost as metropolitan, namely, Alexis. In the time of Nevski’s youngest son, Daniel, the boyar, Feodor Byakont, came to Moscow from Chernigoff, and was looked on with favor by Daniel. When Feodor’s first son was christened, Ivan, son of Daniel, then eight years of age, became his sponsor. The child was named Yelevtheri. He grew up, so to speak, in the palace, for he was a favorite in the family of Prince Daniel. They reared him carefully to serve the prince, but from childhood he was drawn in another direction. While still a youth he became a monk, and was distinguished among all monks in Moscow for love of letters, and zeal in everything with which he was entrusted.

Feognost noted Yelevtheri, and tried him in various ways. The young monk learned Greek sufficiently well to gain familiarity with the ancient classics, and compare the Slav testament with the original. There remains to this day a copy of the Gospels, which is not only his translation, but is in his handwriting. When Yelevtheri, now called Alexis, reached the office of abbot, Feognost, who was absent frequently, made him assistant, and finally vicar. Later he was bishop in Vladimir, and there he was when Feognost passed away from his labors. Feognost had wished Alexis to be his successor if possible.

It had been the fixed habit of the Patriarchs to appoint Greeks to the office of metropolitan. On the eve of Feognost’s death he sent his last letter to Tsargrad. In this letter he asked with insistence that Alexis succeed him. He explained that it would harm the Empire if another were chosen, and no matter whom they might send, the Grand Prince would not receive him.

For his zeal Feognost, though a Greek, was beloved in Russia, since he understood the true interests of the country. When he came to Russia in that gloomy day of the Mongol domination, it depended greatly on him to keep the seat of his office in Moscow. Selected by Peter, his predecessor, he did not forget Peter’s blessing to the city, and he made it his residence.

Tenibek and Chanibek, Uzbek’s successors at the Horde, were not tolerant like their father. They had a Mohammedan hatred of Christians, and wished to tax Christianity. The metropolitan stood firm against this, though threatened with torture, and he [342]succeeded in preserving ecclesiastical freedom. Among his many services one of the greatest was his choice of a successor, whose services to the Church of Russia at that time were beyond estimate.

Simeon, the Grand Prince of Moscow, was succeeded by Ivan, his brother. Constantine of Suzdal, assisted by Novgorod, strove in vain to obtain the Grand Principality. Though Novgorod sent great gifts to the Horde, we may be sure that the Moscow gifts were not of less value. This Ivan, called the Mild, who, according to contemporary opinion, looked on the honor and glory of this world as nothing, and was considered notably good by his people, later historians speak of as being weak, though facts do not bear out this estimate. The difficulties of his time rose from circumstances, and not from Ivan’s lack of ability. In fact his patience was perhaps the best weapon that could have been used. The evils not being serious, dropped away of themselves, and Ivan left to his successor a principality strengthened by peace, and not weakened by struggles.

The first trouble of his reign was an attack from Ryazan. Oleg, the new prince there, seized Lopasnya. A Moscow boyar, Ivan’s lieutenant, was imprisoned, and was freed only after a heavy ransom had been paid. Oleg, not hoping to keep the place without the Khan’s sanction, took means to obtain it.

Five years later Mamat Hodja informed Ivan that he had been appointed by the Khan to establish an exact boundary between Ryazan and Moscow. The Moscow prince, knowing that this was a move directed against him, refused to let Mamat enter Moscow territory, and sent word to him that his boundaries were known to himself and undoubted. Mamat could accomplish nothing; so he started to return to the Horde. On the road he quarreled with one of the Khan’s favorites and killed him. He fled to the mouth of the Don, but quick pursuers overtook him, and he was slain at command of the Khan. Thus the places seized by Oleg were not yielded by Moscow.

More serious than Oleg’s attempt to change the boundaries, which remained without result, were the efforts of the Suzdal prince, Constantine, who, assisted by Novgorod, strove to win the Grand Principality. Failing in this, he still did not make peace with Moscow, neither did Novgorod, which withheld Mongol tribute, and expelled Moscow lieutenants. [343]

Not succeeding at the Horde, Constantine withdrew to Nizni-Novgorod, where he built a stone church to the Saviour, and strengthened the Kremlin. Boris, his son, he married to a daughter of Olgerd: he made friends with Lithuania; kept up with Novgorod relations hostile to Moscow, and bore himself haughtily at all times.

Olgerd attacked now most actively. His plan was to master all Russia, as he had mastered Polotsk, Kief, and Vilna. While at war with Smolensk he captured the heir to that place and detained him. In regions touching Kaluga and Tula, such as Obolensk, Novasil, and Odoeff he seated his lieutenants as in Grodno or Vitebsk. In regions where his plans had been balked by Simeon of Moscow, he made himself master in Ivan’s time. In all places he injured the Moscow prince, set aside his authority, and extended his own power; in one place by dominion, in another by influence. In Tver, in Nizni-Novgorod, even in Ryazan, he had adherents. In Tsargrad itself he met no refusal. At his request, and through gifts, a second metropolitan, named Roman, was appointed for Russia.

Olgerd considered as his own not only all parts of Western and Southern Russia, but also those regions which were under the Khan; caring little that the Mongol was its master. Nay, he used this fact as reason for extending dominion, since the shield of Lithuania promised freedom from the Mongol. Olgerd looked on the Tver principality as half conquered. In Tver at this time, the reduced princes, descendants of Constantine and Vassili, the younger sons of Michael the Martyr, were on the verge of political extinction.

Alexander, Michael’s second son, had become the eldest of the line, through the death of Michael’s brother Dmitri Terrible-Eyes, who died childless. The chief power of this prince and his brothers came from Olgerd, whose wife was Julianna, their sister, the mother of Yagello, It is clear that at this time Olgerd’s influence in Tver was very great. The descendants of Constantine and Vassili, who had become poor and were quarreling continually, sought the assistance of Moscow, while Olgerd’s brothers-in-law turned from Moscow and were growing hostile to Ivan.

Tver began to recognize Roman, Olgerd’s metropolitan. Novgorod also, through enmity to Moscow, preferred Roman. Even [344]Boris, Olgerd’s new son-in-law, refused somewhat later in Nizni to communicate with Moscow in church matters, and turned to Lithuania. But if in places like those just mentioned, subject only to Olgerd’s remote influence, there was such opposition to the Moscow metropolitan of Kief and all Russia, in places half subject to Olgerd,—and there were many such,—if people wished to recognize him, the civil power stopped them when possible. In places where Olgerd had real power, Roman, the metropolitan whom he had created, was declared metropolitan of Kief and all Russia.

Olgerd’s design was to unite Russia, both spiritually and temporally. To do this he must eliminate the metropolitan of Moscow, and bring all princes under his own dominion. At this time, too, the Horde sternly demanded fresh tribute. This was the situation which confronted Ivan the Mild. It was not created by him, and was not the result of his qualities. It may be that Olgerd’s daring was roused and strengthened by Ivan’s mildness, but in the end Lithuania gained nothing by it. The ill-will between Novgorod and Moscow ended easily. Novgorod continued its opposition for a year and a half, but no evil to Moscow resulted from it.

After Prince Constantine had strengthened Nizni-Novgorod, and built a stone church there, no warriors came from Moscow to threaten him, but that was not through any weakness in Moscow. Ivan did not hide his displeasure at Novgorod for supporting Constantine at the Horde, and withholding the tribute. Novgorod complained against the Moscow metropolitan at Tsargrad, and had relations with Olgerd. Ivan was well aware of this. It was known that he was preparing to chastise Novgorod, and that many of the other princes were ready to march with him. Constantine, not daring to disobey an order from the Khan to make peace with the Grand Prince, sent envoys to Moscow. Those envoys were joined by others from Novgorod. Thus Ivan, without warring, won peace at last from all opponents, Novgorod paid the tribute, and received the tax officials who had been appointed by Moscow in Simeon’s time.

In the popular mind there was later a wonderful tradition concerning the days of Ivan the Mild; that serious and even dreadful period when all feared destruction. There had been demands for fresh tribute, and there were ominous reports from the Horde, [345]when, as the tale runs, this message came to the Grand Prince: “Send thy chief priest (the metropolitan) to us quickly. We hear that God listens to his prayers always. Let him cure our Tsaritsa.” The metropolitan answered: “That is beyond my measure.” Encouraged, however, by the Grand Prince, and trusting in God, he went to the Horde and found that Taidula, the Khan’s wife, was blind, in addition to other ailings. He declared that he was not a physician of the body, but that whoso asks with faith him God will not despise, and he prayed over the sick woman. She was cured and there was great rejoicing at the Horde. Taidula made the metropolitan a present of much value, a ring with her seal on it. By putting this seal to papers, he could give them the power of the Khan’s patent. Such was the faith in Alexis. But he hurried from the Horde, for trouble came quickly. Taidula’s husband was no longer Khan, but her son Berdibek, who had seized the place of his father, Chanibek. Chanibek had been able to keep together for a short time the inheritance of Uzbek, his father, by killing his two brothers. He had ruled the Horde in the old way and extended his power from the Volga to the Aral, and beyond the river Terek to Persia. Terrible to his Mohammedan subjects, he was kind to Russian Christians. He reigned, however, only eighteen years.

Not long before Chanibek’s death, there rose in the Horde a strong personage, Tavlug Bey, who disliked Chanibek and did not cease to whisper to Berdibek, the Khan’s son: “It is time for thee to sit on the throne. It is time for thy father to leave it.” Through various devices he was able to bring the Horde magnates to that way of thinking. When in 1358 his perfidious advice was accepted, Chanibek died by strangulation.

Berdibek’s accession forced the princes to go to the Horde for fresh confirmation. On gaining power the new Khan killed all his brothers—there were twelve of them. There was now great trouble in Russia, a new demand was made for tribute. From Moscow came a request for Alexis the metropolitan to go to the Horde and soothe Berdibek’s anger. So he hastened back, and was there probably when Berdibek’s brothers were murdered. It is undoubted that the metropolitan was able to influence Berdibek, and save the Russian Church from taxation.

Ivan the Mild died November, 1359, at the age of thirty-three, [346]after a reign of six years. Now too died Berdibek, who had ruled a little more than a year. Then evil gave birth to new evil, one conspiracy succeeded another, parricide was followed by fratricide; one Khan took the place of another on a blood-reeking throne, and over each one the chronicler utter these words: “He received the reward of his actions.”

Berdibek was followed by Kulpa, who ruled six months and five days, then “the judgment of God did not suffer him longer.” He and his two sons were assassinated by Nurus, but not long could Nurus hold the throne, for Hidjrbek of the Blue Horde on the Yaik intrigued against him. He was given up to Hidjrbek, and he and his sons were murdered. Hidjrbek was murdered by his son, Timur Khoja, in 1361. One month and seven days later Timur Khoja was slain in a revolution effected unexpectedly by a new man, Mamai. This Mamai surpassed in a short time all others to such a degree that the bloody revolution made by him put an end to uprisings.

Mamai’s adherents, who were in the Don region, separated from those of Sarai on the Volga, and rose against Timur Khoja. This parricide feared death in Sarai, and fled from the left to the right bank of the Volga, where he perished most wretchedly.

Mamai placed now in his own Horde a new Khan, Abdul; but the Sarai men proclaimed Hidjrbek’s brother, Murad; thus the original Volga Horde became divided, and the seeds of destruction were sown. About that time Kildybek, who declared himself to be Chanibek’s son, and a grandson of Uzbek, began war as a third Khan, and killed many prisoners, after which he himself was killed. Khan Murad now made an effort to unite the two Hordes. He attacked Mamai, and slew many warriors, but did not succeed in his purpose. There were now two Khans, Abdul was made Khan by Mamai on the right bank of the Volga, and Murad was Khan on the east of that river, “and those two Khans were in enmity always.”

The division of the Horde brought great unrest and disturbance in Russia, not because Prince Dmitri, the heir to the Grand Principality, was a boy, but because at the Horde there was no one in permanent possession. Though the Moscow boyars had sent an envoy, they did not decide that Dmitri should go to either rival. This delay gave the Suzdal princes some advantage. The [347]Moscow men, hearing of Hidjrbek’s accession, took their Dmitri, who was nine years of age, to the Horde at Sarai and presented him to the Khan. But their journey was not successful. Troubles increased at the Horde. There was no time for talking with Hidjrbek. The great point was to escape at the earliest moment.

Taking advantage of the turmoil of Sarai, Dmitri, son of Constantine, the late Suzdal ruler and prince in Nizni-Novgorod, settled in Vladimir, and declared himself Grand Prince, trying thus to restore to Vladimir its old-time prestige and position as capital. This namesake of Dmitri of Moscow, and some years later his father-in-law, had been advised by Andrei, his elder brother, to avoid the Grand Principality. “The Khan wants gifts,” said Andrei. “Dmitri of Moscow is the natural heir, and will get his own a little later.” But Dmitri of Suzdal would not wait; he gave immense gifts to the Horde, and got the patent. By this time many of the Russian princes had become accustomed to the idea that the Grand Principality belonged to the Moscow princes. Novgorod men, however, were well satisfied with the son of Constantine, Moscow’s opponent, but no other people were pleased with him; even in Tver they preferred the Moscow prince, and no later than 1362 Dmitri of Moscow received the patent.

The Horde was so divided, that no one knew whom to obey. In Sarai, east of the Volga, was Murad, and west, on the Don side, was Abdul. Moscow preferred Murad because he held Sarai, the old capital. But as this Khan gave no troops, the Suzdal prince would neither obey nor abandon Vladimir. The Moscow boyars then put Dmitri on horseback, and also his brother and cousin, both young boys, and set out with great forces to expel the son of Constantine, who fled from Vladimir to Suzdal. His brother, Andrei, now reproached him a second time: “Have I not told thee never to trust Mongols? Why not listen to me? Thou seest that it is easy to lose what is thine while striving to take what belongs to another.” And he advised friendship with Moscow, “that Christianity might not perish.” For in Moscow men began now to see the first hope of liberation from the Mongol. The two brothers divided their inheritance. Andrei took Nizni; to Dmitri fell Suzdal.

Dmitri of Moscow entered Vladimir and took his seat on the throne there. That done, he returned to Moscow. So Kalitá’s [348]grandson made certain the purpose of his grandfather. He made that inheritance of his family secure, and began the great work, the real mission of Russia.

It was given to the Russian people as a task from the first to stand unbroken between Europe and Asia, to stand apart and independent of both. From the time that the name Rus first appeared the country had its own individuality, and was self-determining. From of old two warring principles attacked her, one from the West, the other from the East. This gave the great problem to Russian history. Russia was to give way neither to Europe, nor Asia; she was to fathom and understand both of them, but be subject to neither. This, too, was the position of the whole Slav race, a position which tortured and tore it, till some parts were conquered and absorbed by strange nations, so that on the west they were turned into Germans, Magyars and Italians, while on the south they were turned into Mussulman.

This old and difficult problem had to be met in all its weight and its terrible bitterness by the Moscow principality. To meet it, struggle with it, and solve it successfully required an enormous waste of force, a continuous and endless persistence. If Moscow had not grown sufficiently strong at the right time there would have been no Russia at present. For on the one side there would not have been strength enough to emerge from Mongol slavery, while on the other side, if there had not been the moral and physical power to face Western Europe, Russia would have been absorbed, would have taken another form, would have been an element in the strength of her enemy. On the east, Moscow was forced to defend herself, weapons in hand, or yield to the Mongol forever. She had either to rise up in desperate war, or be voiceless and obedient. On the west, a still more dangerous power was threatening, a power which might be permanent and inexorable.

This was the position of the Moscow principality when Dmitri, grandson of Kalitá, began rule in Moscow. Though the struggle on the east and the west was contemporary, the great battle was first begun with the Mongol.

Abdul, the Khan on the right bank of the Volga, became jealous upon learning that Dmitri had received his patent from Murad, and immediately sent a patent from himself with a gracious embassy, though no one had asked him to do so. The Moscow [349]boyars met these men courteously, and gave them good presents at parting. But when Murad of Sarai heard that a patent had gone from Abdul to Dmitri, he was greatly enraged against Moscow, and, to spite Abdul, he made Dmitri of Suzdal Grand Prince a second time.

There was in Sarai at this juncture one of the reduced Bailozero princes; with this prince, and very likely other adherents of the Suzdal prince, a Mongol embassy numbering thirty persons arrived in Suzdal to declare the Khan’s will. They had no warriors with them, still Dmitri of Suzdal was delighted with the Khan’s favor, and again took his seat in Vladimir.

Moscow could not forgive this. Dmitri of Moscow marched with a great force, and not only hunted Dmitri out of Vladimir and Suzdal with shame, but ravaged Suzdal. The Suzdal prince, thus humiliated, had recourse to Andrei, who was ruling quietly in Nizni, and had often warned his foolish brother against rivalry with Moscow. Owing to Andrei’s intercession, the Moscow prince left Dmitri in Suzdal, but reduced him to thorough subjection, and deprived some of his allies of dominion.

In 1363, when Moscow took final possession of Bailozero and Galiten beyond the Volga, the Starodub prince lost his possessions; his province was added to Moscow. The Grand Prince then extended his rule over the entire Rostoff region; some of the princes were left, but left as assistants of Moscow. Dmitri of Suzdal became now a firm ally of the Grand Prince. Thus the very first year of Dmitri’s reign was successful. It was distinguished by the strengthening of his primacy, and by considerable accretions. The two succeeding years were made calamitous for Moscow and all Russia by a second appearance of the “black death.” A multitude of people died, and among them were many princes. In Novgorod died Prince Andrei, so friendly to Moscow, and his brother, Dmitri of Suzdal, became by inheritance prince in Nizni, but Olgerd’s son-in-law, Boris, the youngest son of Constantine, seized Nizni before Dmitri, and would not yield. Dmitri turned then to Moscow, and the Grand Prince assisted him. At this time the Suzdal prince showed obedience to Moscow willingly. His eldest son, Vassili, who afterward lost all his possessions, and is known in history as Kirdyapa, was at the Sarai Horde just then, and secured a patent for his father, but his father refused it, and [350]informed the Grand Prince that he preferred his friendship to the favor of the Mongols.

At the Horde, meanwhile, Boris, the younger brother, obtained the Nizni patent. In view of this complication, an unusual decision was taken in Moscow. As on a time the metropolitan, Peter, had forbidden the Terrible-Eyed Dmitri to lead his warriors against Nizni, where the prince should be subordinate to Yuri of Moscow, so now, in the dispute about Nizni, the metropolitan was active a second time.

As Nizni was merely an adjunct of Suzdal, Nizni and Gorodets were subjected to Alexis, the Suzdal bishop. The metropolitan separated the Novgorod district from the Suzdal diocese, and declared it as belonging to the metropolitan directly. But Boris communicated with Olgerd, his father-in-law, and, having well-wishers in Tver, showed resistance to the metropolitan, and would not yield Nizni to his elder brother. In view of this disobedience, the metropolitan summoned Sergius of Radonej, the abbot of the Troitsa monastery, and sent him to declare to Boris that he must go with Dmitri and his brother to have their dispute adjudged by the Grand Prince of Moscow.

The mild Sergius, who obeyed the command sorrowfully, was forced to bear another burden also: in case Boris would not obey he was to close the Nizni churches. The mildness of Sergius, his continual avoidance of quarrels and disturbance, frequent in his day, was well known, and if he did not refuse these difficult tasks it was clear to all that the disobedience of Boris was beyond measure.

Boris was unbending. He would not go to Moscow; he would not yield to his brother. So troops were moved from Moscow against him; and because he refused to obey the Church order the churches in Nizni were closed to all people. Dmitri, his brother, at the head of troops sent from Moscow and his own troops, approached Nizni in great force. But the affair did not come to blows. Boris came out to meet his brother, repented, and was forgiven. The Grand Prince did not take all from him; he left Gorodets, and took Nizni, joining it again to Suzdal. Soon after this the Nizni See was restored to the Suzdal bishop.

Boris lived peacefully afterward, a faithful subordinate to his brother, and to Suzdal. The Nizni prince remained friendly to Dmitri of Moscow, who shortly after married Yevdokiya, daughter [351]of the Nizni prince. Through respect for his future father-in-law, Dmitri did not wish to invite the bride to Moscow for the wedding, and as Grand Prince of all Russia he did not care to visit Suzdal, hence the ceremony took place in Kolomna, with all the rich display of that time. The country rejoiced greatly at this marriage, which strengthened the union of Nizni and Suzdal with Moscow.

But barely had Moscow won agreement with Suzdal and the principalities attached to it, when a long and stubborn struggle began with Tver, which at that time had come to an alliance with Olgerd.

During Dmitri’s reign Moscow had no such inveterate foe as was Olgerd, except, perhaps, Mamai the Mongol. And Olgerd, in his struggle with Moscow, had a devoted assistant in Tver, where reigned Michael, brother of Julianna, whose son, Yagello, was Olgerd’s favorite offspring. After countless blood-spilling struggles with each other for possession of petty districts, during which two towns, Tver and Kashin, were subjected to ruin repeatedly, and after the plague, which brought death to many thousands of people, there remained two rivals for the headship of Tver. The first was the only surviving son of the martyr, Michael, Vassili, then an old man; the second was Michael, a grandson of the martyr, and son of the ill-fated Alexander. This Michael was born in Pskoff, as we remember, where the Bishop of Novgorod was his godfather; through his sister, Julianna, he was brother-in-law of Olgerd. At first the small town of Mikulin was Michael’s single possession, and for a long time he was called Mikulinski. But he had now become strong through places left to him by his brothers. He had also received by will from Simeon, his cousin, the town of Dórogobuj, with its dependencies. This he received to the detriment of Vassili, his uncle, and Yeremi, Simeon’s own brother. This cousin and uncle turned now to Moscow for redress, and Dórogobuj became the cause of great trouble.

Kalitá and his successors had been more inclined to Constantine and Vassili, the younger sons of Michael the Martyr. Both elder sons, the Terrible-Eyed Dmitri and Alexander, had been always incurably hostile to Moscow. Terrible-Eyes left no children, but the sons of Alexander had inherited the pride of their father, and his hatred of Moscow. [352]

Michael, on becoming Prince of Tver, found no quarrels between the two principalities. Dórogobuj caused the first trouble. Vassili was prince in Kashin; he had been prince in Tver after the death of his elder brother, Constantine, but was forced to yield that place to Michael, his nephew. When he, with another nephew, Yeremi, turned to Moscow for justice against Michael, the question was left to Alexis the metropolitan, who deputed Vassili, the Tver bishop, to settle it. But Vassili’s decision brought hostility instead of peace. Resting on the fact that Michael had taken Dórogobuj not by force, but by the will of the late prince, the bishop recognized it as Michael’s lawful property, and decided against Yeremi and Vassili.

The baffled heirs took advantage of Michael’s visit to Lithuania, and made a new complaint in Moscow. They demanded that the bishop be called to account for judging unjustly. The inheritance, they said, did not belong to Simeon in such fashion that he could dispose of it absolutely. Only a portion belonged to him, and that portion, besides, was connected with conditions. Simeon’s uncle and his brother, Yeremi, claimed their rights with insistence. The bishop was summoned to Moscow, where it was settled that his decision was irregular, and he was forced to pay damages to the princes. Troops were then given to instate Yeremi and Vassili in that part of the property adjudged to them. But instead of peacefully taking possession of this property, they moved against Tver and demanded a ransom. They got no ransom, and could not take Tver, hence they plundered the country about it unmercifully. Michael, the Tver prince, returned from Lithuania with assistance from Olgerd, and marched directly on Kashin, where he seized the wives of the two princes with their relatives and many boyars. Vassili and Yeremi begged for peace, which was granted, and all, including Michael, treated with Dmitri of Moscow concerning it. But a year later, 1367, Yeremi set aside his oath to Michael of Tver, and went to Moscow. The princes complained that Michael oppressed and deceived them. The introduction of a Lithuanian force, and the crushing of the Kashin prince, an adherent of Moscow, but most of all, perhaps, the active and unbending pride of Prince Michael, were displeasing to the Grand Prince of Moscow. Though the Tver prince had discussed peace in company with Yeremi and Vassili, he had attacked Kashin, and [353]thus belittled the allies of Moscow, forgetting that those allies had Moscow troops at their command.

Moscow might have answered with war, but another course was thought better. It seemed well to connect with this settlement all the Tver princes, and in giving a part of the inheritance to Michael to let him have as much as Simeon had a right to bequeath, and give the remainder to Yeremi and Vassili, who had struggled so stubbornly for their rights. Moreover, by thus doing justice, Moscow would somewhat weaken the Tver prince, which was the real point of the question. The complainants being allies, or rather subordinates of Moscow, Michael of Tver did not oppose this division, and agreed to visit Moscow. The Grand Prince invited him, and the metropolitan declared that they awaited him in peace and good-will for a general discussion.

Michael, then thirty years old, went to visit Dmitri, who was only eighteen, but he found in Moscow what he had not expected. Having brought his most notable boyars, he thought to see the principal Moscow boyars, and present his own in Dmitri’s capital. They received him, however, not as a relative, but with haughtiness. He had thought to astonish Moscow by readiness to yield a part of his own to the other two princes, but this was considered in Moscow as decided long before, and they let him feel that that was not the main question. They wanted him to show subjection to Moscow. Michael flushed up with rage, and did not hesitate to tell Dmitri before all his boyars that the rights of hospitality had been violated. After that was said, Moscow violated those rights in reality.

The men who had gone to Moscow with Michael were taken from him, and treated as if in detention. Michael himself was lodged in a separate house, or palace, as if in imprisonment. Such a turn of affairs was almost more grievous for Dmitri than for Michael, and it grieved most of all the metropolitan, for the Tver prince put the blame of the act on him. That passionate prince was indignant at the metropolitan: “I believed his words, and came hither to Moscow,” said Michael; “now see what they have done to me.” Michael considered it all planned previously through policy and cunning. Both sides were equally vehement, each side declared itself right, and each felt offended. There seemed no way to reconcile them. To hasten Michael’s release [354]would be to declare that Dmitri had been the offender; his boyars would not agree to this; they had brought about the detention and they insisted that it should continue.

Dmitri now asked the metropolitan’s aid with all seriousness. Unexpectedly, at this juncture, Mongol envoys came to deliver a reprimand to Dmitri. He had not paid the tribute and had not shown himself to his master.

The Tver question must be settled immediately. Michael was freed with fair promptness, and if there was some delay, it was to avoid the appearance of over haste, and preserve proprieties. The land which Michael had offered, namely Gorodok, was accepted for Yeremi, and an oath paper was taken from Michael that he was satisfied, and had no claim against any one. This done, he departed. After that Dmitri gave troops to instate Yeremi in Gorodok.

During this year, 1368, Prince Vassili died in Kashin, and Michael, by the death of his uncle, became Prince of Tver in the fullest sense possible. He was now the eldest of the house, and besides, the Tver people were satisfied with him. The angry enemy of Moscow was strengthened. The position was still more entangled by the fact that the heir of the late Prince Vassili, also Michael, now Prince of Kashin, and married to Vassilissa, a daughter of Simeon the Proud, hastened in his turn to Moscow with petitions. In Moscow, opposition from Michael was expected, and even an attack upon Moscow regions was looked for. But the storm struck unexpectedly from elsewhere.

Late in the autumn of 1368, Olgerd suddenly, as was his wont in such cases, attacked Moscow regions without declaring hostilities. With him came Keistut, his brother, and Vitold, his nephew, the latter still young and “not famous,” as the chronicler tells us. They led in large forces. Moscow learned of this war only when the enemy was capturing towns on the border. Moscow allies were summoned quickly, but only inconsiderable regiments had time to muster. The invading force crushed all before it. Now there was reason to be thankful for the stone walls recently built in Moscow; Dmitri had all places cleared round the Kremlin, and every house burned which was near that firm stronghold.

The Lithuanian army stood three days outside those new walls. Olgerd had not power to meet or crush them, but he did great [355]harm to Moscow in many parts. He burned nearly everything in the city and in the country round, and took a multitude of captives. Then, driving along every beast which he could find, he hastened homeward, for news had come to him that the Germans had attacked his lands. He could say, however, that he had satisfied the tearful prayers of the Tver prince, his brother-in-law, Michael. Surely Moscow would remember him, for he had done as much harm as possible, and Michael was avenged.

Dmitri ceased to defend Yeremi, from whom Gorodok was now taken, and Yeremi went to Tver to seek favor from Michael. It seems that besides aid from Olgerd, the Tver prince had sought to gain strength from the Mongols by rich gifts to the Khan, and to others. At the Horde, anger was increasing against Dmitri. Mamai, now all-powerful, had eliminated every opponent, and had effected that for which he had been struggling, the reunion of the Horde. He had instated Mamant, a new Khan, and was now ready for action.

A storm was rising against Moscow. Peace between Tver and Moscow was short-lived. In 1370 war broke out again. Michael, the new Prince of Kashin, turned to Dmitri a second time for protection. Dmitri informed Michael of Tver that he set aside his oath papers; and the Tver prince immediately sought aid of Olgerd. This war with Tver, or more correctly with Olgerd, lasted five years, counting intervals. If at times Olgerd sought peace, even permanent peace, no one had faith in him, suspecting it to be a plot to deceive Moscow. In view of this, only short truces were given, and with caution. Through Lithuanian activity at the Horde, and through presents to the Khan, the Mongols aided the Tver prince.

The war ended only when Dmitri and all the princes who acknowledged him rose against Olgerd and the Mongols, and brought Tver to conditions. Early in September, 1370, Moscow troops, led by Dmitri, marched against Michael. They moved from Voloko-Lamsk directly on Zubtsoff, a city which with Rjeff, its neighbor, had passed more than once into Olgerd’s possession, thanks to Tver men. This time the Moscow troops did not treat it with tenderness; they stormed, sacked, and destroyed the place. Then, taking everyone captive, they marched to Mikulin, which stood on the road between Moscow and Novgorod. This was [356]Michael’s own personal inheritance, hence no mercy was shown it. The native nest of Alexander’s descendants was given to destruction. The troops took it by storm, and then razed it to the ground.

After taking Mikulin, they made the whole region around it empty. They captured the people, and seized all their cattle. Cattle were the main wealth of Russia at that time, hence at the end of hostilities it was often stipulated in treaties that the cattle should be returned. The Grand Prince went back to Moscow with great herds, and filled his land with cattle. He had avenged Olgerd’s insult, and humiliated the Tver men most effectively.

When Michael, who was in Lithuania, heard of the ruin of his birthplace, his sister assured him that Olgerd would send him aid when he returned from warring with the Germans. Michael at the same time was in active communication with the Horde. He had sent gifts of such value to the Mongols, and had won Mamai’s confidence so thoroughly, that in Moscow they soon received most astonishing news, though hardly anything could astonish in those days,—news which made Dmitri indignant.

Mamai had placed Michael of Tver in Vladimir as Grand Prince. Sari Hodja had already invited the Tver prince to come to the Horde for the patent. Dmitri immediately placed guards on all roads, and sent mounted men everywhere to seize Michael should he go for the patent. But Michael, rejoicing at Olgerd’s return from warring successfully with the Germans, deferred the Horde visit. Olgerd promised to strike the Kremlin with his spear-points, and give a lesson to Dmitri. “The true warrior makes no delay,” remarked Olgerd; “his plan being made, he strikes quickly. Dmitri threatens to take Kief, Polotsk and Vitebsk from me; through fire and sword he wants to say, in Vilna, ‘Christ has arisen.’ He need not come so far. We will break the fast in Moscow. Dmitri will be at Easter mass in the Moscow cathedral; we will give a red egg to the prince on that morning.”

The campaign of Tver and Lithuania against Moscow was decided. This time, too, Olgerd’s attack was distinguished for suddenness and fury. He had not such success as the first time, however. Starting with a strong army toward the end of November, he was at Moscow on December 6. He was aided by Michael of Tver, by his brother, and by the Smolensk prince, their ally. A number of thousands of peasants with axes cut a road through [357]dense forests, and laid logs in morasses. The troops marched without rest; they hardly halted day or night. When he reached Moscow, Olgerd again burned the city, which the people had barely had time to rebuild since his first blow. He did not attack the Kremlin, however, where Dmitri himself was commanding. The metropolitan was absent in Nizni, whither he had gone to baptize a newly born grandson of Olgerd, the son of Boris of Gorodets.

Meanwhile Vladimir, the cousin of the Grand Prince of Moscow, was gathering his forces and marching on Olgerd. Even troops from Ryazan were hurrying forward with assistance to Moscow. Olgerd now proposed permanent peace and alliance. In proof of his sincerity he offered his daughter to Dmitri’s cousin, Vladimir. The Grand Prince refused peace, but made a truce for six months.

Thus ended Olgerd’s stay of eight days before the Kremlin. The haste, and the care with which he retreated, show that numerous forces were following. He had not found the Grand Prince unprepared, and had boasted vainly in Vilna, for he did not break fast in Moscow. His fear and his hurried retreat prove how little he trusted in truces or in treaties. [358]




Michael, deserted by Olgerd, made peace with Dmitri but only to go to the Horde, which he visited January, 1371. Judging by what he accomplished, he was received well by Mamai, who ruled the Horde then through his creature, Khan Mamant Sultan. Michael got not only a patent for the Grand Principality, but an offer of troops against Dmitri “the rebel,” for such was Dmitri in the eyes of Mamai, at least officially. Michael refused the troops, and only took Sari Hodja, the envoy. The good-will of Mamai and the new Khan cost Michael much treasure, for besides what he carried to Sarai, he was forced to a debt of ten thousand grievens, an immense sum for that time, and as surety he engaged to send his son, Ivan, to Mamai.

Moscow had agents at the Horde always, and from these men Dmitri knew the situation even before Michael had turned his face homeward. Agents were sent to each city to bring all to oath that they would not accept Michael, and would not permit him to be Prince of Vladimir. All people were on the side of Dmitri, and he and his cousin, at the head of a large army, at once moved against Pereyaslavl.

When Michael arrived and announced his appointment, the Vladimir men would not receive him. They sent word to him that they did not believe he had a patent, and he was forced to retreat. Sari Hodja, Michael’s Mongol friend, summoned Dmitri to Vladimir to hear the Khan’s patent read. “I will not go to the reading,” replied Dmitri. “I will not let any one enter Vladimir, and to thee, O envoy, thy way is open.” But the boyars who carried this answer were to give Sari Hodja gifts of honor, and in private invite him to make Moscow happy with his presence.

Sari Hodja, who had received rich gifts from Prince Michael, [359]hesitated. He expressed great reverence for the Tver prince, and conducted him to the Mologa, where he delivered the Khan’s patent. He spoke long of his unfailing devotion, then took farewell. After that Sari Hodja went straightway to Moscow, where they gave him more gifts than he had ever dreamed possible. He marveled at the beauty and excellence of the city, and praised Dmitri for his winning ways, and his kindness. He complained, however, that the Grand Prince had not visited the loving Khan, from whom he guaranteed a good reception. At parting he repeated that he would never forget Dmitri, and when at the Horde would tell of his kindness.

It was time indeed for Dmitri to beware of breaking with the Mongols. More than once sharp reminders had come from Mamai, and even war had been threatened. Michael, armed with the Khan’s patent, was taking district after district and installing his agents in every disputed place. Novgorod men had informed Michael that if he were in truth appointed instead of Dmitri, they were ready to kiss the cross to him.

Dmitri counseled with his boyars and the metropolitan: “Should he make war on the Horde; or should he take refuge in phrases?” No matter how grievous was the latter, his advisers feared to counsel resistance, hence Dmitri decided that he would go to the Khan and come to terms with him if possible. When this decision was published, there was deep discouragement in Moscow. All feared an evil issue, and Dmitri wrote his will before starting. The metropolitan went with him to the Oká, and blessed him at parting. Soon after the departure of the Grand Prince, envoys came from Olgerd to conclude peace with Moscow. Prince Vladimir and the council of boyars, with the metropolitan at the head of it, made peace with Lithuania. Then followed the betrothal of Yelena, Olgerd’s daughter, to Dmitri’s cousin, Vladimir; some months later the marriage was solemnized. Such favorable news came from the Horde that there was no evil word for Sari Hodja in Moscow. At Sarai they rejoiced at Dmitri’s arrival. His grandfather, Kalitá, had been Uzbek’s friend. Dmitri was a nephew of Simeon the Proud and a son of Ivan, Simeon’s brother. All those princes had been faithful friends of the Horde, and had always obeyed it. Dmitri received great honor. The gifts that he had brought to Mamai, to the Khan and his wives, and to magnates [360]were such as had not been seen for a long time. Other princes could not bring as rich gifts at that period. When Dmitri learned that Ivan, son of Michael, was in pledge at the Horde for ten thousand grievens, he offered the money immediately, and they answered that he might take the youth and keep him till all was paid back by his father. Mamai and Dmitri met face to face and took note of each other. They examined the lists of tribute, a work which, though tedious, was finished at last with satisfaction. A patent was given to the Grand Prince and he returned home; with him went notable envoys, who conducted Ivan, son of Michael, and delivered him in Moscow as pledge for his father’s debt.

Dmitri learned later that he had not left the Horde before the following Mongol message was sent to Michael of Tver: “We gave thee the Grand Principality, and offered troops to install thee. Thou didst refuse both our power and our warriors, resolving to sit in the Grand Principality with thy own force. Ask no aid of us further; but sit there with the assistance of whomever may please thee.”

So Dmitri returned to Moscow with good results and much honor, having strengthened his position, and in all questions put his enemies to shame. He began at once to restore the integrity of Moscow’s possessions, destroyed in his absence by Michael, who had occupied some Moscow towns on the border, and ravaged others. After his instalment at Novgorod, Michael had replaced Dmitri’s agents with his own men, and Novgorod had given him an oath paper. When Dmitri returned from the Horde with a new patent and honor, Novgorod broke immediately with Michael, and joined Moscow.

The next year, 1372, the war became more determined, especially since Ryazan was on Michael’s side. It was clear that Tver and Ryazan were leagued against Moscow more unsparingly than ever, and against Novgorod, which was now aiding Moscow. Olgerd, who had given his daughter in marriage to Dmitri’s cousin, Vladimir, refrained from action for a time. But even from the beginning, his restraint seemed like ridicule, for he sent a number of princes with succor to Michael: Prince Drutskoi, Andrei, the Polotsk prince, one of his own sons, his brother, Keistut, and his son, Vitold; who brought with them many Poles and Lithuanians. Moscow again had to meet, not so much Tver, as Olgerd. [361]

The war with Ryazan was ended in one crushing battle. The daring Oleg of Ryazan had shown himself hostile to Moscow in the days of Dmitri’s father, and had claimed, if not all places joined to Kolomna, at least those included with Lopasnya. When Olgerd invaded Moscow the second time, Ryazan troops helped Dmitri. A Pronsk prince, however, commanded them, and those princes defended themselves against the Ryazan prince through their friendship with Moscow. Oleg now demanded Lopasnya as the price of his aid against Olgerd, and this caused a break between him and Dmitri. Dmitri replied that they had not defended Moscow, they had stood only on their own boundary; that Olgerd had burned and ruined Moscow. But Dmitri, lest Oleg might complain to the Khan, said he would discuss with him the question of boundaries. Oleg wished for something more real than promises, so he took Lopasnya with a strong hand, and held it,—occupied the region that he wanted.

The hatred between the people under Dmitri and Oleg reached back to the days of Big Nest, when Moscow was nothing but the Kutchkovo village and Ryazan men broke in through Lopasnya and plundered it cruelly. But Moscow had grown enormously since that time. It had become the chief city, called its ruler Grand Prince of All Russia, and looked upon the Ryazan men as “raging, arrogant, savage, half-witted people.”

Dmitri had a veteran leader, a man of rare gifts and long practice, a leader tried in many campaigns, knowing well the tricks of war and the meaning of every move made by an enemy; besides, he was Dmitri’s chief confidant, his brother-in-law, married to his sister, Anna. Men usually called him Prince Volynski, adding the nickname, Bobrok. This Bobrok of Volynia was now to chasten Oleg, the Ryazan prince.

Oleg, who had assembled an army, marched out against Moscow. The battle was merciless; one of the most renowned conflicts of that epoch. The name of the field, Skornistchevo, on which it took place, was made famous. Oleg fought stubbornly, but notwithstanding his valor and bravery, he had to flee with a few attendants. Bobrok took Ryazan, and placed there Vladimir of Pronsk.

Michael of Tver undertook now to harass the heart of the Moscow possessions. The week after Easter his allies surprised [362]Pereyaslavl, which they plundered and burned, leaving naught save the fortress behind them. Next they seized all the neighboring settlements. Keistut struck this blow with such suddenness that he surprised men at work in the fields, and on the road going to market or elsewhere, but he could not capture the fortress. The Tver prince, attacking Dmitroff, plundered it, and led away multitudes of people. Then the allies turned on Kashin and ruined it. The Kashin prince hastened to Moscow. The allies went home, but the Tver prince, on reaching Torjok, seized the town, and installed his officials. News came now that Olgerd was approaching, and the place was declared where Michael was to meet him.

Meanwhile Dmitri sent men to Torjok, and from Novgorod came boyars and others. They expelled Tver officials; those who did not escape they took captive. They stopped Tver merchants and seized their property. News that Torjok had gone over to Dmitri, and that Novgorod was on that side, enraged Michael. He hastened with all his troops to Torjok, to that “adjunct of Tver,” as he called it. “Yield up those who have seized my people and robbed them. Put back my lieutenants; I ask nothing further,” was Michael’s demand, and from daylight he waited till midday.

In Torjok at that moment were Novgorod men famed as great warriors,—among them Abakumovitch, notorious for freebooting trips on the Volga, and elsewhere; but especially renowned for that exploit which seemed a miracle, and beyond human strength: the courageous and desperate journey along the Ob River, through all Siberia. With him were other “daredevils,” and “Novgorod land pirates.” These men would not yield to the Tver prince. They raised a great shout of defiance, and gathering their forces, marched out against him.

Abakumovitch fell in the first shock of the encounter. The battle was merciless, but Michael was the victor. Some fled from the field to save themselves, others hastened back to the stronghold. Michael’s men fired the town from that side whence the wind came. The wind was fierce on that day, and the flames consumed everything. The destruction was absolute. Some, in trying to save their property, were burned in their houses or courtyards; others fled to the Church of the Redeemer and were stifled by smoke, or, [363]rushing out of the fire and the town, were seized by the enemy; many more were drowned in the river while fleeing. Michael’s warriors were furious, raging. They stripped women and maidens, some of whom, from shame, drowned themselves; they stripped monks and nuns, doing what even pagans had not dreamed of doing. Torjok had never suffered so greatly, even from Mongols.

The unexpected movement of Moscow troops and of Moscow’s allies toward Kaluga informed all that Olgerd was coming. This time every measure had been taken to prevent his drawing near to the capital. Less than two weeks after Torjok had been ruined the Tver prince was at Lyubutsk, whither Olgerd was hastening, and where, somewhat later, the two armies joined forces. Oleg of Ryazan was instructed to march thither also. The forces of Moscow were marching toward the same place.

On the twelfth of June there was a desperate battle, and Olgerd for the first time was thoroughly beaten in those regions. He withdrew, or rather fled, but Dmitri followed on closely. Olgerd halted in a place intersected with gullies, and strengthened his position on heights well secured in steep, rocky places. Dmitri halted directly opposite and entrenched himself. The two forces stood face to face, and remained many days there, watching each other. Only a wooded ravine, abrupt and steep, lay between them.

Olgerd, who had planned to surprise his opponents, fell into a trap, and had at last to ask peace of Dmitri. We have not all the details of that peace, but enough are preserved to give an idea of the advantage gained by Moscow. Olgerd was on the verge of destruction, and only because of that did he accept the peace given. With this peace hostilities with Tver and Lithuania ended, so far as a treaty could end them. Lithuania and Tver bound themselves not to invade Moscow lands in future; and Olgerd was not to take the part of his brother-in-law. All the places seized by Michael were to be returned, and all the property restored to the owners. Tver officials must be removed, if not Dmitri had the right to eject them. Peace with Tver was concluded with a special agreement by which Michael’s son, Ivan, at that time in Moscow, would be free when his father paid the debt incurred by Dmitri because of him.

But barely had Moscow by this victory in the west over Olgerd turned away every danger on that side, when she was threatened [364]by the Mongols. Mamai, enraged at the growing success of Dmitri, was the more incensed by his want of respect for the Mongols. Not only were all princes of the “Lower Land,” even those of Tver and Ryazan, in subjection to Moscow, so that Dmitri seemed to be more important than the Khan, and his commands to be obeyed with more accuracy, but it seems besides that Dmitri had not paid tribute in recent days. In every case, in treaties with the princes of that time, this clause was added: “Whether we are to be at peace or war with the Mongols, to give the Horde tribute, or refuse it, of that we are to decide in common.”

When Mamai made war on the Grand Prince, he alleged as chief cause non-payment of tribute. Dmitri, to ward off invasion, gave an obligation to stop no stipulated payment. Mamai then demanded more than had been agreed upon. Moreover, the princes of Ryazan and Nizni regions, and other subordinates of Moscow, treated rudely, and even insulted the Mongols, and when they had learned to insult they went further,—they attacked the Khan’s warriors. To inspire obedience in Dmitri’s chief ally, his father-in-law, Saraiko, a murza, was sent by the Khan from Sarai to Nizni. But the Nizni prince, who no doubt consulted with Dmitri, had no fear of the envoy. Seeing that Saraiko had with him a thousand attendants, the Nizni prince lodged these Mongols in different places, as if to show honor. Saraiko, though maintained in luxury, was, as it were, in detention.

The Grand Prince had his well-wishers in Sarai, and paid his friends there liberally. They lived under various disguises, but were getting information for Moscow at all times. From them news was brought that Mamai, who had long threatened Moscow, had decided at last to accomplish his wishes. But Moscow was ready, and the troops sent by Mamai to punish the city merely ravaged Ryazan, which, as things stood at that time, was no injury to Moscow.

All the summer of 1373 Dmitri had his main forces on the bank of the Oká, and had divisions widely disposed waiting for the Mongols. The Mongols, on their part, had friends in Moscow and secret spies everywhere. They had information that Moscow was looking for uninvited guests, hence they did not cross the Oká.

If 1373, the year following the Tver peace, passed quietly for Moscow, it was because a strong army stood “on the brink,” [365]and did not let in the Mongols from Ryazan parts. There was perfect concord in the Grand Prince’s family. The devotion of his cousin, Vladimir, seemed reflected in the boyars and officials. The greater number of the boyars had served Kalitá also. Young men followed old, but the families continued. For example a descendant of Protasi, a noted boyar in Kalitá’s time, was commander in Moscow for Dmitri, and his brother, Timofei, was renowned as a voevoda and counselor. The commander himself, Vassili Velyaminoff, who died in 1374, left three sons, men as faithful as he had been, except one, who gave truth to the proverb: “No family without a deformity.” One of Velyaminoff’s sons had married the sister of Dmitri’s wife; and the other son, Polyekt, was connected with a princely house also. One of Dmitri’s sons had married Polyekt’s daughter.

Ivan Kvashnya, another of the Grand Prince’s intimate boyars, commanding beyond the Volga, was a son of Rodion Nestorvitch, renowned under Kalitá. Feodor Svibl was a great-grandson of Akinfi, a Moscow boyar, who was killed while serving Tver, after leaving the service of Moscow. Still another, Feodor Kashka, was a son of the noted Andrei Kobyla, more correctly Kambil (this Andrei Kambil was the ancestor of the Romanoffs, now reigning in Russia). Dmitri had also many faithful servants and friends, who had come to Moscow during his own reign. First among these recent men was Dmitri, the Volynian prince called Bobrok, who had married Anna, the sister of the Grand Prince. There was a wonderous zeal in serving Dmitri; only one rebel appeared, the son of Vassili Velyaminoff, who left three sons: Mikula, Polyekt, and a third named Ivan.

When the commander died Dmitri did not appoint any one to take the place left vacant by him. This offended Ivan, who had hoped to receive the office. Being disappointed, he began an intrigue, or more correctly a conspiracy. He found no confederate among boyars or the people. A merchant in silk and Eastern stuffs, a certain Nekomat, became his associate. Whether he was of Moscow origin, or came from Novgorod, or what were his habits, no one could declare surely: “Ivan and Nekomat began work with many lies to the ruin of people,” is what the chronicler states of them. They went to Tver and roused Michael to strive again for the patent. They assured the Tver prince that many people [366]in Moscow would rise to assist him. “We have associates everywhere,” said they. They persuaded Michael that success at the Horde was beyond peradventure. Nekomat appeared as a man who knew the Horde well, and was conversant with every affair among Mongols. Of course it was not because of what these men could do, or say, that Mamai upheld Michael. But they undertook to work for the Tver prince at the Horde because Mamai was enraged at Dmitri. And they met with success.

Not only was Michael appointed Grand Prince again, but Mamai engaged to send an army; Michael this time had begged for Mongol warriors. Atchi Hodja, the envoy, brought the Khan’s patent, but he did not bring the warriors. Thereupon Michael turned to Olgerd for aid, and, while waiting for men from the Horde and Lithuania, broke the peace with Moscow. He sent envoys to renounce the oath given Dmitri.

The Grand Prince was not slow in his answer; he summoned his allies and commanded them all to hasten. Then, collecting his forces, he marched toward Volok, whither his subordinates and allies were hurrying. They assembled quickly and in formidable numbers. Their rage against Michael was boundless. “How many times has he brought Olgerd against us; how much harm has he done, and how often? Now he is on the Khan’s side, and assisting him. If we let Michael go further, the Mongols will destroy us.” And from Volok they marched directly against Tver. Michael shut himself in for a siege there, and strengthened his chief city quickly. The besiegers, to reach the place, built two bridges over the Volga. The Novgorod men, remembering Michael’s recent offense, and how Torjok had been ruined, hastened to Dmitri’s assistance. Tver men fought with desperate valor, quenching fires and repairing breaches. While the siege was progressing, Staretsa Zubtsoff and other towns fell to Moscow, which, with its allies, seized every place on the march, and took captives. They destroyed or mastered all things.

No matter how great might be Michael’s resistance, he was vanquished. He could have no hope of Mongol aid, or of aid from Olgerd. The Lithuanians did come, but when they drew near they hesitated, then turned and marched home. From the Horde was heard no word of any kind; famine touched Tver decisively. Michael, overpowered at all points, was forced to [367]depute the Tver bishop and the oldest boyars to ask peace of the Grand Prince.

Dmitri gave a stern peace, but a just one. He deprived Michael forever of the claim to rival Moscow, and subjected him to Moscow primacy. He permitted him to style himself, and to be within certain limits Grand Prince in Tver regions; but it was established that Kashin must be independent of Michael. Every clause was defined very strictly, and in case of dispute Dmitri agreed to let Oleg of Ryazan act as arbiter. No man could think of Oleg as partial to Moscow. Further Michael was not to seek Moscow, or the Grand Principality, or Novgorod for himself, or his children, or any of his family, and was not to accept the Grand Principality of Vladimir from the Mongols.

On his part Dmitri was not to take Tver under any circumstances. The following article is noteworthy: “Whether we are to be at peace with the Horde, or to give tribute will be decided in council together. If the Mongols attack any prince, we are all to resist. Should the Grand Prince of Moscow move on the Horde, the Tver prince must go with him.”

Michael abjured all alliance with Olgerd, his brothers, and his family. Further he bound himself to fight against Lithuania, should it attack Moscow, or any Moscow ally. Boyars and free men might pass from one prince to the other, rights were considered as equal on both sides in this regard; two men were excluded, however, Ivan and Nekomat; their property was forfeited, and they themselves declared traitors.

Thus ended that bloody war of 1375 between Tver and Moscow, and there was quiet for a time. But even now Michael did not yield in his heart; he still hoped to triumph over Dmitri. He did not relinquish his alliance with Olgerd. On the contrary, he worked hard to strengthen it. That very year his son, Ivan, pledged lately for the Horde debt, married Olgerd’s niece, Keistut’s daughter. Lithuania waged war on Smolensk for co-operation with Moscow. Olgerd’s forces burned, plundered, and led captive. “Why did ye help ruin Tver?” asked they, as they taunted their victims. The Lithuanian friendship brought less fruit, however, than Michael had hoped from it.

One year and six months later, 1377, Olgerd died, and then began grave and protracted disorders. Yagello killed Keistut, his [368]uncle, and married Yedviga of Poland, thus causing new and great complications.

No sooner had the storm on the west apparently subsided, than another storm moved from the east against Moscow.

The Mongols attacked Nizni-Novgorod and ravaged it unsparingly, thus striking the Grand Prince through his allies, the chief one of whom was his father-in-law. “Why did ye help Moscow, and march against Tver?” asked they, as they plundered Nizni. Farther south they declared: “We do thus because ye fought against the Tver prince.”

Nizni men rose now to take revenge; they killed Saraiko, the envoy, and his thousand attendants. This happened while Dmitri of Nizni was absent and his son was ruling for a short time. The old prince, fearing a Mongol attack on his city, had commanded to hold Saraiko’s men apart from him. When Vassili, the prince’s son, obeyed these instructions, Saraiko became alarmed, and fled to the episcopal palace with a few of his attendants. This flight seemed an attack to some people, and they rose to protect the bishop. Mongols, in self-defense, used arrows, one of which, without wounding the bishop, stuck fast in his mantle. This roused a whole multitude, who rushed to clear the palace of Mongols. A struggle began which extended till Saraiko had fallen, with all of his attendants. “The pagan thought,” said the people, “to do what he wanted, but he and all of his men with him have perished.” After this December, 1375, and January, 1376, the territories of Nizni in all of their extent, from the east to the Sura, and south to the Piana, were doomed to fire and the sword without mercy.

Dmitri of Moscow went beyond the Oká with an army to guard against Mongol forces, which, as he heard, were advancing. The Grand Prince, in defending the lands of his father-in-law, found it needful to fill the Trans-Sura with a great dread of Russia. He sent strong detachments under Bobrok of Volynia, with Ivan and Vassili, two sons of the Nizni prince. They marched to the present Kazan, and their victory was signal. Kazan rendered homage to the Grand Prince’s leader by giving him two thousand rubles, in the money of their period, and three thousand rubles to the army. Kazan received a Moscow official and engaged to pay tribute. The Khan counted those lands as his own beyond [369]question, hence this victory increased Mamai’s rage very greatly.

In 1377 news came from beyond the Sura that a new Mongol prince, Arabshah, had appeared there and fixed his camp at a place called Volchi Vodi (Wolf Water), but that place, as it seemed, was not enough; he was extending his power in many directions. The terror of his name touched Kazan, and the Volga, and alarmed Nizni also. The Nizni prince begged aid of Moscow a second time. The affair seemed so serious that Dmitri himself went with his forces. As there were no tidings of the new conqueror, Dmitri, after waiting a fortnight, returned to his capital; he left, however, a part of his forces composed of men from Vladimir and Murom.

Soon reports came of Arabshah and his army. People said that he was near, but no one knew in what spot he was lurking. Scouts made fruitless efforts to find him. At last the Nizni prince sent forward his son, Ivan, with a Novgorod force, and sent also the Moscow commanders with the regiments left by Dmitri. They were to cross the Piana, and guard the lands south of it. Finding themselves in a primitive region, called by the Russians in those days “The Wild Fields,” these warriors had no fear of natives; they thought only to amuse themselves. There were but a few villages, and those few were in secluded places; a person might pass very near and not see them. The country was one of forests and grass; it was well-watered, abounding in game, and in honey. Prince Ivan and his men found life there agreeable. They went hunting, and moved about everywhere, thoughtless of peril, taking no precautions whatever.

Soon news came that Arabshah was approaching. Still there was no trace of him anywhere. The wily natives were hiding Mamai’s forces, which were lurking very near the Nizni army. They had been led in unobserved, and had surrounded the Russians completely. On August 2, 1377, they destroyed Ivan’s men,—it may be said, without fighting. The Mongols, arranged in five divisions, struck at once from five sides, and only when attacked and facing death did the men of that camp gain their senses. They grasped for their shields, swords and lances. No one had weapons at hand; some were in cases, others in wagons; some warriors were half dressed. The slaughter was thorough. The Mongols had only to strike, thrust, and hew down their victims. [370]Prince Ivan sprang into the river on horseback, and was drowned there. Thousands of common men, and many officers, perished.

Three days later the triumphant Mongols were at Nizni. The prince, having no men to defend the place, fled to Suzdal. Those who had means to flee saved themselves. Those who had not means were slain, or went into captivity. The city was burned, and on August 7 the Mongols turned back, taking with them a multitude of captives. Of Nizni there remained little but charred ruins.

Prince Dmitri Kirdyapa searched for the body of his brother, which he at last found, and buried in the single stone church left in Nizni. Thirty-two churches had been burned.

Reports now came that Arabshah was slaying all who had survived beyond the Sura, but this was not true.

Arabshah was seeking new fields, and soon fell on Ryazan. Oleg met him and was terribly defeated. The Ryazan prince came very near being captured. Wounded and covered with blood, he tore himself free of the Mongols and escaped. About this time another calamity befell the Nizni region; it was visited by a robber attack of the “Filthy Mordva,” as the natives were called by the Russians. The Nizni prince, coming home at that juncture, set out to punish those “eaters of hedgehogs and wolves” for their attack, and their perfidy in bringing in Mongols by stealth to kill Russians. Boris, Ivan’s youngest brother, hunted some of those robbers into the Piana; the greater part of the others were slain; very few went back to their haunts beyond the river. But the people in Moscow were not satisfied with this punishment. They resolved to seize the elders who had led in the Mongols, and to fill with terror the whole region lying south of the Piana.

In January, 1378, Dmitri of Moscow sent men to his father-in-law. One of his best leaders, Svibla, went with them. The Moscow men entered the land where their friends had been slaughtered, and cut down the inhabitants. Throughout the winter villages vanished at touch of the Russians. Some of the elders were slain straightway when captured, others were taken to Nizni and hunted to death with dogs on the ice of the Volga.

The Mordva land was considered by the Mongols as not the least among those lands which belonged to their Khan. The death of its elders for assisting Horde warriors roused Mamai’s wrath to the utmost, and he resolved to punish Moscow most famously. [371]

Nizni, which had recovered somewhat from the first Mongol destruction, was destroyed now a second time. The old prince, who had fled to his brother Boris at Gorodets, sent word that he would pay a ransom. Every ransom was rejected. They made the whole province empty, and rushed home to join the men making ready to punish Dmitri of Moscow.

The Mongol army assembled in vast numbers. It marched under many princes. The chief leader was one of Mamai’s greatest warriors, Baigitch, his faithful assistant. Moscow forces were mustered with promptness. Dmitri at that time was friendly with Oleg, the Ryazan prince, who agreed to give prompt aid against Mamai. It was only ten miles beyond Oleg’s chief city that Dmitri met the whole Mongol army encamped on the Voja. The opponents found themselves face to face with the river between them. The Mongols were on the left bank, the Russians on the right, where, unobserved by the enemy, they had found a good place for battle, and fixed their camp near it.

August 11, 1378, the Mongols, thinking to crush their opponents by numbers, crossed the Voja. The time was past midday. They had no thought of fighting immediately, but Dmitri did not give his foe time to rest, or select a place after crossing. He rushed with all speed to the struggle. The Pronsk prince attacked one flank, Velyaminoff the other. Dmitri himself struck the center. The battle, though fierce, was not long in duration. The Mongols were broken at all points, and before night the whole bank was strewn with their corpses. The remnant, in recrossing the river, were drowned in great numbers. The victors could not hunt the enemy in darkness, and this saved a few of the Khan’s men. Next morning, though a dense fog covered the country, pursuit was resumed. The vanquished had cast aside everything; their road was well marked with weapons, carts, and baggage, but they themselves were far away. Complete victory came from this battle. Baigitch was left dead on the field, as were many Horde magnates.

On August 30, 1379, at four o’clock after midday, the first man put to death publicly in Moscow was beheaded. Ivan, son of Vassili Velyaminoff, was taken to the Kutchkovo Polye. That great square was crowded with people, and when the criminal, whose father and whole family had been loved and honored by the city, was brought forth, tears stood in the eyes of many, and when [372]the sword glistened and fell, a groan filled the place. A little more than two years later there was a similar spectacle on the same spot. Nekomat had been found and he also was beheaded for high treason.

The battle on the Voja raised Moscow’s position immensely. “God assisted the Grand Prince; the Mongols turned and fled,” was the general statement, and was received as a harbinger of freedom from the Mongols, the dawn of a brighter and better period.

The great worker, the good metropolitan Alexis, died that same year, six months before the battle. As they stood around his grave, the people remembered, with tears, all his labors, and their petition was “Forget us not, in thy prayers, O Alexis, for thy words before God are effective.” Dmitri stood at the coffin with Vassili, his heir, then six years of age, and another son of four, with his cousin, Vladimir, and many other princes. Dmitri, the godson of Alexis, could remember well how he, a boy of eight years, had met the metropolitan on his return from the Horde after curing Berdibek’s mother, Taidula, bringing back her signet-ring, and great honor.

Alexis lived to the age of eighty-five. With his office he had inherited many difficult tasks from Feognost, who preceded him. There were many troubles in the Church at that time. Alexis had suffered much from intrigues at the Byzantine capital, where, through the influence of Poland, a metropolitan was appointed for Galitch; and another for Lithuania and Rus through the influence of Olgerd. Both of these laid claim to authority which belonged to Alexis by right and historically, hence the struggle was endless, and the final solution seemed exceedingly difficult, if not absolutely impossible.

But the greatest of all griefs and the worst was that caused by Dmitri, the Grand Prince. It came about as follows: In the time of Ivan Kalitá, the church Spas na Ború had been founded, and some years later a monastery was built near it. This monastery was favored beyond others by the Grand Prince; not only its abbot, but its monks had high honor. The people of Moscow esteemed very greatly a deep noble voice in church service. There was a priest then in Moscow whose voice surpassed all that men remembered. This priest so pleased the Grand Prince that he raised him from low degree to such a height that people fell to asking with curiosity: “Who is this Mityai? Why has he power [373]and importance?” It proved that Mityai was the son of a priest from Kolomna, who had a church in Tashilov. This priest had been able to rear his son carefully, and settle him in Kolomna. Men said of Mityai that he was skilled in letters, a master at reading and singing, and at quoting from records. He knew the church service to perfection. He could find a proverb for any case. In a word he was dexterous in many things. He so enchanted the Grand Prince that Dmitri made him his confidant, then seal-keeper, and sometime later his confessor. In this position he passed many years most successfully.

The Spas na Ború abbot, whom the people named “Drink Not,” because he not only drank nothing spirituous himself, but would not permit any monk under him to use liquor, was relieved of his office, and shut himself up in a cell for meditation and silence. Mityai became a monk, and then was made abbot in Ioann’s place. This happened when Alexis was aged and failing, about two years before his last day came. He was not, perhaps, greatly astonished to see the seal-keeper made abbot, but the haste in making him a monk had offended the metropolitan deeply. Notwithstanding all this, and while Mityai was no more than a novice, Dmitri said, in the presence of Alexis, that the abbot would make a grand metropolitan.

These were not chance words, which might be recalled upon second thought; they were said purposely to define the position. The only reply was silence. After that Dmitri asked the metropolitan to bless the abbot as his successor. Alexis was unwilling; Dmitri insisted, and thus it continued for a long time. The metropolitan listened with mildness, not wishing to offend by refusal, but he did not give the blessing.

Time passed; the insistence continued. Dmitri did not desist; the metropolitan, though mild, was unbending. Dmitri’s requests became more emphatic, more frequent, and finally seemed demands. He beset the metropolitan, he sent the oldest boyars to ask for the blessing, and Alexis said at last with vexation, or weariness: “I will consent if God, His Holy Mother, the Patriarch and an Oecumenical Council will bless him.” They took his words as consent, and announced that the metropolitan had named a successor.

As soon as Alexis was dead, Mityai left his position of abbot, [374]and, by order of Dmitri, took the highest office and performed most of the duties that pertained to it. The death of Alexis roused great excitement. Cyprian, then acting in Kief, declared himself Metropolitan of all Russia. But meanwhile there was a crisis in Tsargrad. The Patriarch Philotheos, who had ordained Cyprian, was expelled. Makarios, who succeeded him, did not hold the ordination of Cyprian as binding, and was quick to seize the situation. He wrote to Moscow immediately, asking them not to recognize Cyprian, but to send all the papers in Mityai’s case. He honored Mityai as the first priest of Moscow, and intrusted the Church to him till he could be installed as chief pastor in Russia; he also invited him to Tsargrad.

The dislike of the people for Cyprian was changed now to something like sympathy, though they knew little of his good or bad qualities. They were offended by the brusque, dictatorial way of the Patriarch at Tsargrad. The people thought that, inspired by hope of gain, Makarios was favoring Mityai, and they were deeply angered. At the report that he had been installed, Mityai became hateful to them. This meant favor for Cyprian.

During Mityai’s tenure of office, February, 1378, to August, 1379, there was a new crisis in Tsargrad. Andronicus, the Emperor, was dethroned, and Makarios, the Patriarch, excluded. The new Patriarch decided in favor of Mityai, so the exclusion of Makarios was not harmful to Mityai; it only delayed his affair, since the new Patriarch, Nilos, was not installed,—he was only appointed. Meanwhile, Mityai enjoyed every right of his office, save the power to ordain men. The chronicler states that no one had so much glory and honor in Moscow as Mityai. At that time he seemed the very model of majesty. Imposing of stature, lofty and vigorous, with a flowing beard and a beautiful countenance, of smooth and clear speech, a master of ancient sayings, and of proverbs from books, from spiritual experience, and from popular knowledge, he surpassed all men in dignity of mind and body. No man in his office had dressed in such taste, and so imposingly.

The Grand Prince was delighted; he was flattered by the success of his favorite and adviser. But by common men and the clergy, Mityai was detested; none desired him. Bishops, abbots and monks were imploring Heaven not to let Mityai become metropolitan. Mityai relied on the Grand Prince, and cared not [375]a whit for his enemies. All the more were people opposed to him that he was haughty, stern and harsh to subordinates; he judged them himself, by his own power, and punished severely.

News was received now that Cyprian was approaching Moscow with a train of attendants and servants requiring forty-six horses. Measures were taken at once not to admit him. Couriers with letters addressed to him were seized; sentries were stationed in needed places to stop him, and, as Cyprian neared Moscow, he was arrested. The boyars sent to capture him took all his property, covered him with ridicule and curses, and confined him, without food, in a damp, loathsome chamber. Envoys from the Patriarch, traveling with Cyprian, were insulted. They, with their Patriarch and Emperor, were called “Lithuanians.” What the servants of Cyprian had was taken from them; they were seated on their horses without saddles, and the horses were lashed away from the city. The next day at nightfall, after Cyprian had been twenty-four hours without food, and in confinement, he was conducted from Moscow by the boyars who had seized him. Stopping at no great distance from the city, Cyprian wrote to Sergai and Feodor, the abbots, touching what he had suffered. He opposed the unlawful claims of Mityai, and cursed the men who had arrested him.

After this event, Mityai had a talk with the Grand Prince. “It is written in the rules of the Apostles,” said he, “that two or three bishops may ordain a new bishop. If I have thy favor, command all the bishops in thy dominion to assemble in Moscow and ordain me.” Dmitri and his intimate boyars approved of this proposal. It would save trouble, and the expense of going to Tsargrad. Command was then given to all bishops in Russia to assemble. They came, one after another, and went to be blessed by the new, so-called, metropolitan. But Dionisi, the Bishop of Suzdal, being indignant at Mityai, would not approach him. Bowing to the assembly and the Grand Prince, he spoke as follows: “We have come at thy command, and we see that thou wishest, through us, to create a metropolitan, but we may not break the law given to us. Blessing must be had from the Patriarch. That is the law given anciently.”

The appointed metropolitan, seeing his plan put to shame, and provoked by men who incited both him and Dionisi, sent a reprimand to the latter in these words: “Why not come to me [376]for a blessing? Have I not power over thee, and in the metropolis? Knowest who I am?” Dionisi then went to Mityai, and answered: “Thou sayst that thou hast power over me; thou hast none. If thou hast power, say thyself who, according to Scripture, is greater, a priest or a bishop? It is for thee to bow before me and be blessed, for thou art a priest, while I am a bishop.” “Thou hast called me a priest?” shouted Mityai. “Me, an abbot, and an appointed metropolitan! Know then that thou wilt not be even a priest during my day. With my own hands I will strip off thy vestments; only wait till I come from the Patriarch!”

A fierce quarrel rose between them. Dionisi declared that he himself would go to the Patriarch. The following words may have burst from him: “We shall see who, thou or I, will be metropolitan!” Mityai told the Grand Prince that Dionisi uttered them, and begged him to repress the Suzdal bishop.

The Grand Prince detained Dionisi, and a strong guard was placed over him. He was informed that he could go to Tsargrad only after Mityai had returned. Dmitri was annoyed beyond measure. The meeting had failed, and there was great scandal. Nothing could save Mityai now but ordination from the Patriarch. The Grand Prince hastened the journey, and was ready to do everything to make it successful and splendid. On second thought, it seemed unsafe to confine the Suzdal bishop. He was respected by the people, his diocese was important, he had wide connections among the clergy. Dmitri freed him on this promise: “I will not go to Tsargrad without thy permission; the abbot of the Troitski monastery will guarantee my promise.” But after returning to his diocese, and meditating a while, Dionisi sailed down the Volga to Sarai, and hurried off to Tsargrad, thus breaking his word and betraying his bondman.

The indignant Mityai, who had urged keeping Dionisi in detention, and had tried to persuade the Grand Prince not to trust either Dionisi or his bondman, gave full expression now to his rage against the abbot and the bishop. He represented them as keen and persistent conspirators against him. Dmitri, confused and saddened, knew not how to pacify his favorite. Again he advised him to hasten to Tsargrad, and declared that he was more anxious than ever to make the journey a triumph.

It was natural that Mityai should look on the Troitski abbot [377]with suspicion. There were reports that the late metropolitan had held secret converse with the abbot about taking his office, and Mityai found in him, as he thought, a rival. Either he did not know that Sergai had refused, or he did not believe in the refusal. He was convinced that Sergai and Dionisi had asked Alexis to keep back his blessing. Mityai proved to the Grand Prince that the abbot and Dionisi had caused all the opposition of Alexis, who up to death had not yielded. And if, in his anger, Mityai had told Dionisi that he would strip off his vestments, he announced to Sergai in his rage that he would drive out all the Troitski monks, and destroy the whole monastery. “I pray the Lord,” said Sergai in answer, “not to let the boaster destroy sacred places and expel blameless persons.” When the monks spoke of Mityai’s departure and the terror which would return with him, the abbot said merely: “God knows whether he will ever see Tsargrad, much less be anointed.”

Meanwhile preparations for the journey were unparalleled. Those who had said recently that ordination in Moscow would save expense and trouble were only thinking now how to add grandeur to the occasion. All were aware that the Grand Prince loved Mityai. No one knew this better than Mityai himself, and he tested it thoroughly. For years he had been the Grand Prince’s seal-keeper; he knew well that a small sheet of paper brings death to a man, or brings fortune, if only the name and the seal of the prince be upon it, and the right words stand above them. So he said to his patron at parting, “If I have thy favor, give me a few blanks with thy seal and thy name on them. Should I need a thousand pieces of money, or if a want of some other kind touches me, I can place on that paper the right words.”

Dmitri not merely consented, he praised such forethought. “Let it be as thou sayest,” replied he, and he gave him not one, but a number of papers. In the summer of 1379, when Mityai started, by way of Kolomna, the Grand Prince, with his children and his oldest boyars, also bishops and abbots and the clergy, with a concourse of people, escorted him outside the city. On the journey he was accompanied by three abbots,—Ivan of Moscow, Pimen of Pereyaslavl, and the abbot from Kolomna, also other clergy, boyars and servants, “a very great regiment.” They went through Ryazan to Mongol regions. Mamai had heard that Mityai was [378]going to Tsargrad, and he commanded a halt in the journey. But on learning that an appointed metropolitan was going to the Patriarch (and no doubt Mityai gave him presents), he not only left a free road to him, but added also a patent freeing him and the Russian clergy from tribute. On arriving at Feodosia, they took a Genoese ship, and sailed over “the abysses of the Euxine.”

When the Black Sea was behind them, and they were nearing the city of Constantinople, Mityai fell ill and died suddenly. As soon as land was reached, they buried him in the suburb of Galata.

The pastors of the church were greatly troubled, not through losing Mityai, but to decide who might fill the void left by him. Every one learned quickly what had happened, and a violent death was mentioned. But a more important question in that “great regiment” was to find a metropolitan. Some wished Ioann of Moscow, while others insisted on Pimen. When most men favored Pimen, Joann rose against them, and threatened exposure. They answered by putting him in irons and choosing Pimen unanimously. Pimen took Mityai’s robes with all his money and papers. He found the signed blanks, and on one of them wrote the wish, as it were, of the Grand Prince to make Pimen metropolitan; other blanks were used to procure money. When Dmitri’s desire was presented to the Council, the Emperor and Patriarch expressed great surprise, since Russia had a metropolitan already. At subsequent meetings the surprise was omitted—rich presents had been given meanwhile. Pimen was confirmed as metropolitan.

But the trouble which began with Mityai was merely the commencement of disorder, and drew after it a series which did not end till long after Dmitri’s time. Dmitri found no rest in Church matters after the day he raised up his favorite, Mityai. “I know not,” said the Grand Prince, “how the metropolitan died, or how the deceit began. I did not send Pimen to be metropolitan, and I will not receive him. I have no wish whatever to see the man.” Somewhat later, Dmitri sent for Cyprian, and received him with honor at the place where this same Cyprian had been so basely insulted. But during the ceremony, and even while Dmitri was kissing Cyprian, this message was delivered: “Pimen, the metropolitan, [379]is journeying from Tsargrad. He has passed through the Horde, and is coming.”

The Grand Prince would not receive Pimen, who was stopped at Kolomna. His vestments and his money were taken from him, and he was sent to confinement at Chuhloma. The “whole regiment” of his counselors and attendants were scattered, and some were imprisoned. Still later on Cyprian was expelled a second time. The Patriarch took Pimen’s part and declared Cyprian’s position illegal, and Dmitri received the metropolitan whom he had refused to see earlier. Pimen, now recognized in Moscow, and welcomed with solemnity, enjoyed the honor shown previously to Cyprian. Cyprian’s day had been brief; Pimen’s day was brief also. It was quite impossible to live with that self-made, intriguing church dignitary.

At last the Grand Prince decided to appoint Dionisi of Suzdal, the bishop who had quarreled with Mityai, and who, in spite of his promise, had fled to Tsargrad, and seen the ordination of Pimen. Dionisi had been raised to the dignity of archbishop by the Patriarch, who gave office to all men whom he feared through their knowledge of Pimen’s peculiar investment.

After three years and six months Dionisi returned to Suzdal with papers from the Patriarch. As an eye-witness, he knew every detail of Pimen’s ordination, and he explained all to the Grand Prince. In that year, 1383, Dionisi was sent by Dmitri to Tsargrad to secure the expulsion of Pimen. Later on Dionisi was ordained metropolitan, but on the way home he was arrested in Kief, where he died three years later in prison. Pimen, expelled from his office, and even deprived of communication, did not yield to Cyprian.

In the midst of these troubles rose the terrible question of meeting the Mongols, a question of salvation or ruin for Russia. Mamai had roused the whole Mongol power to destroy Russia utterly. He intended to appear as a second Batu, to reconquer, then rule as might please him. All of 1379 was spent by Mamai in preparation; no matter how he strove to conceal these preparations, they became more and more evident. Moscow spies at the Horde capital gave clear notice of all that was going on, and at last Dmitri declared to his boyars and counselors: “Mamai is marching against us!”

The Grand Prince had been greatly troubled by the coming war [380]and its perils, but he became cheerful and resolute when all doubt had vanished, and he prepared for the trial with alacrity. The danger was great, for Oleg of Ryazan and Yagello were assisting the Mongols. They had, in fact, formed an alliance with Mamai. Toward the end of 1379, Dmitri mustered his warriors. He sent then to Michael of Tver, called him brother, and asked for assistance. Michael deputed his relative, a Holm prince, with his contingent; a Kashin prince came also, leading his men.

Dmitri summoned forces from Pskoff and Novgorod. Novgorod hurried forward an excellent quota. Pskoff sent word that it would take part in the struggle. The Nizni prince furnished men from both sides of the Volga.

In 1380 Mamai boasted that he had assembled half a million warriors. He had left the Lower Don and was moving on Varony. Besides Mongol warriors, he had many hired troops in his army, Turks and Armenians. One complete regiment was made up of Genoese from Kaffa. Mamai, who wished to repeat the success of Batu, intended to cross the Don River, and so march that Oleg and Yagello might join him and strengthen his forces in season. He boasted tremendously. “We need supplies for the winter,” said he to his Mongols. “We are going to eat Russian bread, and grow rich on Russian treasure.” “Does Mitya,1 my servant in Moscow, know that I am going to see him?” asked he, laughing, in presence of some Russians. “With me are twelve hordes with three kingdoms, and thirty-three princes, besides foreign leaders. We have seven hundred and three thousand warriors. Can Mitya, my servant, entertain us all?”

Oleg of Ryazan turned to the Mongol with these words: “To Mamai, the free Eastern Grand Khan above Khans, I, thy appointed and sworn servant, pray thee. Thou art marching to punish Dmitri, thy servitor. The time is near, Serene Khan, when thy hands will hold all the riches of Moscow. Free me, thy slave, through thy grace from disaster. Dmitri and I are thy slaves, but I am obedient and humble; I serve thee. Dmitri is refractory and insolent.” Papers like these, seized by Dmitri’s swift horsemen, revealed what his enemies were plotting.

Interesting was Oleg’s correspondence with Yagello: “Grand Prince Yagello, I write to thee gladly. Thou hast been thinking [381]this long time to punish Dmitri; the time has now come to do so. Mamai is marching on Moscow with countless warriors. My envoys have gone to Mamai with many gifts and with worship. Thou wilt send things of as much higher value as thou art above me in greatness. When the Khan comes and Dmitri escapes to distant regions, we will sit in Moscow or Vladimir. At the Khan’s command, we will divide Moscow between us; thou from Lithuania, I from Ryazan.”

It is noteworthy that Mamai, while delighted with their offers of service, declared to each of the princes as follows: “As much Russian land as ye wish in my dominion I will give as reward, and ye will utter strong oath to me.” And then, with Mongol haughtiness, he added: “I do not need your assistance, but since ye have been abused I reward, and show you favor.” He informed them suggestively that he considered the campaign against Moscow as undertaken only to punish disobedience. “The terror of me will crush Moscow,” said he, as if to chide them for exalting his glory in the triumph then approaching. For invincible majesty like his, it was no exploit to quell Dmitri.

When the summer of 1380 began, Yagello set out to join Mamai. News came to Moscow in season. Swift couriers hastened in many directions. All were anxious, all were impatient. Each man sent out seemed to go at a snail’s pace. Soon reports were confirmed by the statement: “Mamai is coming!” Meanwhile, regiment after regiment was appearing at Moscow, and marching on farther toward Kolomna. Somewhat later news came that Mamai had halted, or was moving more slowly; that he was waiting for his allies. He and Yagello had agreed to meet at the Oká, and enter Moscow regions in early September. All of Dmitri’s men were to be at Kolomna before the first half of August had ended.

As there was no metropolitan at that time in Moscow, Dmitri went to the Troitski abbot, Sergai, for a blessing. He shared his food with the holy hermit, and noting among the monks present two of great strength and stature, by name Peresvait and Oslyaba, he asked as a favor that they should go with him. In the world they had been boyars, and noteworthy persons. At parting, Sergai gave this comfort in words to Dmitri: “The Lord will defend, He will help thee. He will put down thy enemies and give thee great glory.” [382]

August 20, Dmitri left Moscow and found his whole army waiting at Kolomna. There was a general review at that place, and a redistribution of parts of the army. When everything was in order, prayer was offered up in the open field, and then all the army sang “Spasi Gospodi pyudi Tvoya” (O Lord, save Thy people). It may be that never had the strength and great meaning of these words been felt more profoundly in Russia than in Kolomna on that day.

The army was divided into the center, the left and the right wing, the rear and the vanguard, each of which divisions was again subdivided in the same way. Dmitri was in the center with his chief voevodas. Among the first of these was Bobrok of Volynia, to whom the most difficult work in that march had been given. The next famed voevodas were Mikula and Nikolai Velyaminoff. On the right wing marched Vladimir, Dmitri’s cousin; the left wing was led by Glaib, among the most beloved of the leaders, a prince from Bryansk, whose name his friends had changed to Brenko. When all places were assigned, the army advanced toward the Don, marching so as to intercept the advance of Yagello.

As soon as the army had moved from Kolomna, scouting parties were sent out on all sides to learn clearly the positions of Mamai, Yagello and Oleg. In the first days of September, the army reached the Don country, and on September 6, 1380, Dmitri’s men beheld the brown river. They encamped directly in front of that spot where the small river Nepryadva enters the Don. Some of the voevodas were in favor of waiting for the Mongols without crossing the river, but in this case Dmitri showed resolve and immense firmness. He wished to cross the river and give Mamai battle immediately. When all opposing reasons were given, he answered: “I have not come to the Don to watch Mongols.” Just then one of the two monks who had come with him from the Troitski monastery gave him a letter from the abbot, which contained these words, and seemed to Dmitri to point out the true order of action: “March on, O Prince Dmitri, Our Lord the Holy Trinity will assist thee.”

Meanwhile, a Mongol prisoner had been brought in from Mamai’s outpost; not a simple warrior, but a man who, because he feared torture, gave true information. “The Khan is waiting,” said he, “for Oleg of Ryazan, and Yagello. He does not know [383]that the Moscow prince has reached the Don.” To the question “Is his force great?” the man answered: “An immense multitude; it is countless.”

From the west now came tidings that Yagello was at Odoeff. Again the question rose—“Shall we cross the river, or wait here for the enemy?” “It is better to cross,” declared some. “We shall bring fear to Mamai’s men.” Others objected. “Wait on this side,” said they, “it is safer. Mamai is mighty; to attack him may ruin us.” But the first men insisted that the blow should be given before Yagello could join with the Mongols, and they instanced how Nevski had beaten the Swedes by crossing a river, and how Yaroslav the Lawgiver, by passing the Dnieper, had crushed Sviatopolk the Cursed. “If we stay here,” added Andrei and Dmitri, Yagello’s two brothers, “we shall give a weak battle; if we cross each man will think, ‘We cannot escape, we must win, though we die in the struggle.’ The Mongols may be many, but are we not Orthodox Christians? God is in truth, not in numbers.” “But if we leave Oleg in the rear?” asked others. “It is better to withdraw to one side, intrench, and wait; see what Oleg will do. How can we leave him behind us?”

Dmitri rose then and began speaking: “I,” said he, “address no man apart, but speak to all equally. I have not come to stand guard over Oleg, or to watch the Don River. Better never leave home than come hither and do nothing.” He gave command then to find fords and pass over immediately. “Dear friends and brothers,” said he, as he rode through the regiments later, “we are preparing to cross the river. On the other side we shall find that which God sends us. Either we shall win and redeem all, or we shall lay down our lives for our brothers, Orthodox Christians.” “We are ready to die or to conquer!” responded the whole army.

Dmitri’s decision was timely and wise. Simeon Melik, his boyar, rushed in and declared that he had been battling with outposts; that Mamai was at Gusin Brod and knew of Dmitri’s arrival, that he was hastening on to prevent him from crossing, and thus delay battle till after the coming of Yagello. It was learned that Yagello had marched from Odoeff, and that Mamai was informed of his movements. There was no time for loitering; on the contrary, moments might be decisive.

September 7, Dmitri’s army was on the right bank of the river [384]A ford had been found near the Nepryadva, and when the moon, full on September 1, touched the horizon, all the regiments had crossed and were encamped. The army extended along the Nepryadva about three miles and a half, with its rear toward the river, which had a steep bank, and was hidden by a forest. In front of the army was a wide open region of gentle hillsides, and slightly raised flat land. That eve of the Holy Virgin’s Nativity, September 7, O.S., was calm and warm, and the moon was shining clearly. Just at midnight, when all the warriors were at rest, the Grand Prince and Bobrok of Volynia rode out to examine the battle-field. When out a good distance they looked around at their sleeping army, that host of two hundred thousand men. Here and there they could see the dying flame of a camp-fire; farther off at one side, or behind them, were numberless distant lights of small watch-fires. From the Nepryadva and the Don came at intervals the cry of a night-bird, or the plashing of wings on the water; and from the forest the howling of wolves was heard, or the screech of an owl, as if the odor of flesh had enticed them.

Bobrok, who knew well the tricks of war, and their practice, learned in countless expeditions and battles, showed Dmitri how to estimate the enemy’s strength and position by the “earth throbbing,” as people called it in those days. Both men dismounted, put their ears to the earth, and listened. They heard a sound from tens of thousands of horses, a sound as if myriads of people were building a city, or as if an army of men had met, on a great boundless market-square, in discussion. The coming day seemed mysterious, ominous, from this deep “earth throbbing.” Bobrok, however, gave hope to Dmitri, and as he had faith in his own heart, he assured the Grand Prince of triumph, but triumph which would verge very closely on failure. “Thou wilt overcome the Mongols,” said he, “but many and many of thy faithful men will fall by pagan hands.” “God’s will be done,” replied Dmitri, sadly.

After they had examined the battle-ground carefully, they returned without speaking. The broad field of Kulikovo was cut in two by a depression, at the bottom of which flowed the small Smolka River. Near its mouth stood a dense forest, but its farther extent and all the upper part of the depression was composed of level eminences, the gentle slopes from each facing another. On [385]the high field touched by the Nepryadva the Russian army had arranged itself. From beyond the elevation, which faced the army, the Mongols were expected. Toward this elevation stretched from the steep bank of the Nepryadva another depression containing a forest of oak trees. This was the Lower Dubik, at the bottom of which was a small stream, also called Dubik, which flowed into the Nepryadva. The beginning of this Dubik depression began far beyond Kulikovo, but when it approached the Nepryadva it branched off in the flat expanse into small side slopes, which, becoming less marked, ceased at last near the foot of that eminence beyond which began the gentle slopes toward the Smolka. That was therefore the highest place in all the eminence. It was clear that on that place the Mongols would camp; from that point they would move to the battle. In general the position seemed favorable to Dmitri.

The well known tactics of the Mongols of spreading out widely and enclosing the enemy, which they did through numerical preponderance, could not be used by Mamai at Kulikovo. He could not turn either flank or reach the rear of the Russians. The abrupt bank of the Smolka, on which rested the left wing of the army, seemed unapproachable, through its woody entanglement, for some distance before it reached the Don, and the right wing rested on the rugged bank of the Nepryadva, which had no ford at any point. Besides, the descent from the eminence to be occupied by the Mongols to the center of the plain of Kulikovo was to some extent difficult. The great point was to give Mamai no time to make plans after coming, and for the Russians to advance as far from the Don as was needed, and quickly. The Mongol cavalry would be confused from lack of room to develop. It is true that in case of defeat the destruction of the Russians seemed certain. Escape would be cut off on three sides, and advance would be blocked by the enemy. But the army had crossed, so that no man might think of retreating. The forest which covered the lower course of the Smolka gave also the chance of secreting a division of warriors to meet the Mongols, in case they should try to encircle the rear; or, if they should force the Russian center and cut it in two, this division would meet them. In view of this plan, the various parts of the army were assigned to positions.

On September 8, the Virgin’s Nativity,—when day and night [386]are of equal length, the sun rising at six and setting at the same hour in the evening,—the whole country was covered with a dense fog. Time passed, and still the sky was not visible. Meanwhile the regiments were taking their positions. The men under Bobrok and Vladimir the Brave took a place on the left wing. To them were added Novgorod forces commanded by Dmitri of Nizni. He was to stay on that wing and not leave it, but Bobrok and Vladimir, after the battle began, were to enter the forest and wait till Bobrok gave the signal for action. The right wing, which touched the Nepryadva, was commanded by Andrei and Dmitri, sons of Olgerd. To their forces were joined the Pskoff and Starodub men, with Rostoff troops and others. The Grand Prince took his place in the center, made up of warriors from Moscow, Vladimir and Suzdal. This was the great, the strong regiment, divided again into portions. Its left flank, which touched on the Nizni men, was commanded by Bailozero princes; its advance lines were led by Nikolai, and the center by Timofei Velyaminoff with Prince Glaib, known as Brenko. The right flank, which touched on the forces of Andrei and Dmitri, was commanded by other great boyars.

About an hour before midday the fog disappeared, and the day became radiant. The Grand Prince rode through the regiments, encouraging all to have firm faith in God, and stand steadfast for Christ’s sacred Church, and the whole Russian land. “We are ready to die or win!” was the answer. The eagerness for action grew irrepressible, as the murmur spread over those two hundred thousand men: “The Mongols are coming! the Mongols!” The Grand Prince rushed to his regiment, and with the words: “God is our refuge and strength,” the army began to move forward. The awe of the moment filled every man. Each wished to surpass every other in valor. There was no chance then for speaking; all voices were merged in the thunder of marching.

The Mongols, who appeared an hour before midday, did not stay on the height, as had been their purpose. Urged to action by the rapid approach of the Russians, Mamai’s legions rolled down like a flood to the field of Kulikovo. As they drew near the Russians a Mongol champion of great size and threatening aspect rode out in front of the army, and challenged any one to meet him. Hearing these words a man on the Russian side turned to those about him, saying: “Fathers and brothers, forgive me, the sinful. Pray for [387]me, brother Oslyaba!” This was the monk Peresvait. When Mamai’s champion saw him, he spurred on with all his might. The Russian urged his horse unsparingly, and the two men struck each other squarely with their lances; both horses fell, but rose again. The Mongol dropped to the earth and remained there. Peresvait was borne back to his place alive, but he died soon after.

Trumpets on both sides now sounded for action, and the great battle began. At midday they were fighting breast to breast; face to face. Lances broke as if reeds; arrows came as numerous as raindrops. Dust dimmed the sun; people fell like grass when scythes are cutting. A horse was killed under Dmitri; he mounted another. Later he was seen on foot, limping and wounded. After that no man beheld him till the battle was over.

When the Russians began the struggle, they had the Dubik on the west and the Smolka on the east at the left, and looked themselves toward the south. Bobrok and Vladimir retired to the forest and hid there, as they had been commanded. On the left wing from which they had withdrawn, was the Nizni prince. The Mongols moved at midday on the center, where stood the Grand Prince’s standard. In the first ranks were the valiant boyars, Simeon Melik and Nikolai Velyaminoff. The sun was in the face of the Russians; the wind was against them. The Mongols had the sunlight on their shoulders; their faces were shaded; the wind was on their side and helped them. The main force and weight of the enemy was hurled at the “great regiment” in the center, rather more towards its left flank. On the right wing it was easier for the Russians, despite the superior and growing force of the enemy. Mamai’s tent, commanding the field, was on the height called Red Hill (Krasno Gora); from there he followed the battle, and sent reinforcements, which rushed with great shouts to the places appointed; and for miles in the width and the length of it the whole field of Kulikovo groaned with the giant battle.

The sound of the terrible conflict rose and fell from edge to edge of the land, like deep bursts of thunder. No matter how the Mongols were cut down with swords, raised on spears, or hewn with axes, they pressed into every place. Legion rushed in after legion, numerous as in Batu’s day; a multitude so great that in places they were troubled by their own immense numbers. At times they were so crowded, that, throwing away weapons, they [388]fought empty-handed, and falling, were trampled. After a time, it seemed that the Mongols were conquerors. Half the field on the left of the Russians appeared to be won by Mamai’s men; but the Russians remembered how their ancestors had died on the Kalka; and praying, “O God, do not suffer us to perish like our fathers on the Kalka,” they sprang up again. “And it was a wonder,” said an eye-witness, “to see how those thousands fought on the Kulikovo.” Each man tried to surpass the other. But the foe was not second in valor. At two o’clock the battle was raging in all its fury and its terror. Neither could conquer the other; attack and resistance were equal. Then Mamai’s warriors stormed at the center, and, though driven back, rushed again to the onset and displaced the left wing of the enemy.

Mamai, from Krasno Gora, saw the Russian ranks weaken, saw that banners and flags had gone down in great numbers, and he sent his last strong reserve forward. The left wing was torn from the center. There remained but a few wretched remnants of the regiments from Nizni, and the center itself held its place with terrible effort. Andrei, son of Olgerd, had to send from the right wing part of his forces to strengthen the center, now ready to separate into fragments. Passing around the rear, behind the men fighting under Brenko, this reinforcement came out where the left wing had been forced from the center, and the rent was repaired by its coming. The balance of the battle was established. The Vladimir and Suzdal regiments had been brought to disorder, because in their ranks were men without training, taken recently from the plough. These, thinking that the end had come, were breaking. Now they rallied, and, under the valiant Timofei Velyaminoff, they prevented the Mongols from winning. The struggle at that point had grown desperate. The Mongols in their turn were thrown into disorder, and fell back after suffering a pitiless slaughter. All on the Russian side were encouraged by this new advantage, and they paid back the enemy with mighty strokes.

Thus the battle raged on till three o’clock, when came the moment of greatest intensity. Mamai, looking from his height, was quivering from excitement, anxiety, and anger. Doubt in the power at his disposal was beginning to seize him, when all at once an immense shout of joy was sent up by the Mongols. The center had been displaced by Mamai’s men. Toward the Don the Russian [389]line had given away very sensibly. The right Russian wing kept its position from the height, the left wing could not be discovered; only Mongol troops were visible on that part of the field. Simeon Melik and Nikolai Velyaminoff were both dead. The “great regiment” was almost annihilated.

After shattering Timofei Velyaminoff and Brenko forces, the Mongols turned toward the left wing, They found little resistance there from the forces of the Bailozero princes, and still less from those of Dmitri of Nizni. Thus the whole Russian left and center were pushed more and more from their original positions by the enemy, and driven toward the Don.

The right wing had suffered less from the Mongols,—even had the advantage.

The sons of Olgerd not only repulsed the extreme Mongol left, but advanced on it. They were held back, however, by the fact that the center could not advance with them. The entire center was overborne and pushed back by the immense force of Mongols, but still it did not let itself be broken. Then Pskoff troops and others were sent to support the left wing. The two sons of Olgerd repelled every onset from horsemen, till at last, though not moving forward, they found themselves in advance of all other forces. At four after midday, the great standard of the Grand Prince went down, and nearly at the same time Brenko died. Judging by his dress, the Mongols took him for the Grand Prince, and shouts of triumph filled all the battle-field. The princes of Bailozero had fallen. There also, among the piles of dead, lay the two princes Tarusski, and many others. But the struggling army made the enemy pay dearly for every step they gained; they fought breast to breast, and retreated, it might be said, advancing one step and falling back two, to advance then another step. The field was covered with bodies, the body of a Russian on the body of a Mongol. The Russian power was failing, yielding, falling back,—on the point of breaking.

Mamai was triumphant. From the height of Red Hill the left wing and the center of the Russian army seemed broken into fragments.

All this was seen by Vladimir and Bobrok of Volynia from their ambush. “Why are we idle so long?” asked Vladimir, reproaching Bobrok, and eager to rush into action. Bobrok restrained him, [390]and followed every movement with the utmost care and anxiety. Men sent by him to watch from the tree-tops gave details. “Wait, wait a little longer,” said Bobrok. Meanwhile the turn made by the Russians was so great that, facing them always, the Mongols came at last to present their rear ranks to the regiments in ambush, while the Russian left wing was almost where it had stood at the opening of the battle. The right wing had repulsed all attacks and remained in its original position. The men in ambush were enraged at Bobrok. “Why are we here? What are we doing?” “Why do we wait to see our comrades slaughtered?” “If we begin at the wrong time,” said Bobrok, “all will be lost.” When at last he saw that the moment had come, he said: “Pray to the Lord now, my brothers. This is the moment!”

All made the sign of the cross and rushed forward. The regiment appeared like a terrible storm in the midst of the battle. Those warriors had sprung, as it were, from the earth behind the enemy. Strong, fresh and eager for hours to join in the action, directed by heroes like Bobrok and Vladimir, they decided the battle.

Wearied as they had been, though upheld by the flush and glory of triumph, the terror of the Mongols became now in one moment unbounded. Struck in the rear and the flank by fresh warriors, they were in a hopeless position. Every Mongol who had strength to leave the field fled. The left and right wings of the Russian forces, under Dmitri of Nizni and the sons of Olgerd, rushed after the fugitives. The defeat and the ruin of Mamai’s men was complete. He and his magnates fled, leaving all things behind them. Bobrok’s fresh troops followed throughout the night. The rest of the army, which was wearied, held the field of that desperate slaughter.

Vladimir left pursuit to Bobrok, and returned. His one question was: “Where is the Grand Prince; where is my cousin Dmitri?” No one could answer. “Look for him! Look for him!” cried Vladimir. They sought him in all places, and at last two warriors found him not far from where the battle had opened. There were many trees freshly felled in that place. Among the branches of one of these trees, they saw, as they thought, a dead body. On examination they found that the man was breathing, and then they recognized the Grand Prince. One of the men remained with him, while the other rushed with the news to Vladimir. [391]Dmitri was bruised and injured internally, and though he recovered his life was cut short by the wounds received in that terrible battle.

Five centuries have passed since that memorable day, but the name of Dmitri of the Don is still fresh in the minds of the people, and on “Dmitri’s Saturday,” the anniversary of the battle, prayers are offered by the Church in remembrance of the men who on the field of Kulikovo laid down their lives for fatherland and faith.

The victory gave immense gain to Moscow. It strengthened that city’s supremacy greatly. But the liberation of Russia from the Mongols was still in the future, and distant. It was not till a century and four years later that final freedom was attained, in the reign of Dmitri’s great-grandson, Ivan Veliki. [392]

1 Diminutive of Dmitri. 




Mamai fled from Kulikovo and assembled a fresh and numerous army to take revenge on Dmitri for his triumph. But suddenly a new enemy rose up against him: Tohtamish, made Khan only recently by Tamerlane, declared himself heir of Batu, and set out from the Yaik River to take possession of his inheritance. Mamai marched forth to meet him, and on that renowned field near the Kalka, the field where Mystislav the Gallant had been vanquished, the Mongols met now to slaughter one another. Tohtamish triumphed. Mamai’s perfidious murzars fell at the feet of the conqueror, and swore to serve him faithfully all their lives. Mamai fled to Kaffa, the present Theodosia, taking with him rich treasures. “He went with much gold, silver, jewels and pearls, and was slain by the Genoese deceitfully.” They seized all his property, secure in the knowledge that the death of Mamai would please the new Khan greatly. The position of the Genoese was precarious in those days, and they strove always to please in every way possible the Mongol Khan who was in power.

Master now of the Golden Horde, Tohtamish sent envoys to Moscow and all other places, stating that he had conquered Mamai, their common enemy, and had taken possession of Sarai. The unexpected and uninvited guests were received nowhere with pleasure; still they were entertained with honor and dismissed with presents and politeness; but those things were not what the new Khan was seeking. He wished to see the Russians just such slaves as they had been under Batu and Uzbek.

In 1381, Tohtamish sent an envoy, Ak Hodja, with a suite of seven hundred, to Dmitri to demand that all princes should visit him immediately. But when he reached Nizni, the envoy dared not go farther. The Grand Prince had sent a message saying that he could not answer for the safety of Ak Hodja or that of his suite, [393]should they continue their journey to Moscow. Ak Hodja then sent attendants to consult with Dmitri, but even those, when they saw the resentment of Russians, did not venture to enter the capital. Indignation against messengers bringing insolent demands from men who had fled from the battle-field of Kulikovo was pardonable on the part of the victors, but in the lofty answer of Dmitri was heard a note which had never been heard from him earlier, and this note was not to the profit of Russia.

After the victory at Kulikovo, Dmitri was so confident that he did not think it necessary to assemble new forces, and be ready for battle. Trusting too much in Mongol weakness, he turned his attention to home questions. Feeling the need of a metropolitan, it was decided to summon Cyprian, who had been expelled from Moscow. An embassy was sent to him, and on May 23, 1381, he returned, and was received in the city with great solemnity. On that same day was announced the coming of Pimen, ordained at Tsargrad in place of Mityai. But, as already stated, upon his arrival at Kolomna, he was arrested and sent off to Chuhloma. Thus the Grand Prince passed the year occupied in home affairs, till news came on a sudden that, in the land of the Bulgars, the Mongols had arrested Russian merchants, had seized their boats, and in those boats they were now sending warriors toward Moscow.

When Dmitri insulted and threatened Tohtamish’s envoy, serious work began at once at the Horde. A daring campaign was planned and preparations were made in strict secrecy. Tohtamish wished to surprise Moscow and capture it. Every man who could give news to the capital was seized and held securely; strong pickets were stationed at all points. Even reports could not go to Dmitri. At last, however, in spite of every precaution, news reached Moscow, but too late to be of service. Dmitri learned of the terrible power of his enemy only when many Russian princes had already joined Tohtamish.

In this absence of union among princes lay the peril of Moscow. The great need was to root out this remnant of a system of semi-independent princes, a system no longer endurable, and unite the whole country. Moscow had done much in that direction, already. The victory on the Don was proof of what Russia could do when princes were united. But the more Dmitri gained, the less did other princes find in union their personal profit, and profit [394]was all that most of them cared for at that time. They had helped to strengthen Moscow, but they had no wish to raise the Moscow prince higher.

Dmitri of Nizni, when he heard of the Tohtamish movement, sent his two sons very promptly to the Horde with gifts, but the Khan was already on the road. By rushing after him quickly, they came up to Tohtamish in Ryazan. Oleg, whose treachery in Mamai’s day had been forgiven by the Grand Prince, now betrayed Moscow a second time. He went out to meet the Khan, gave him many presents, offered to guide him in person, and advised as to how to take the capital.

Surprised now for the first time, Dmitri was discouraged. It was too late to find troops. At first he thought to entrench himself near Kolomna, but, on summoning his voevodas and available warriors, he discovered the astonishing weakness of his army, and, after consulting with his cousin, decided that with such troops he could do nothing effective. Some advised sending gifts, and begging for mercy; others said that the Khan was raging, that the only way was to stand sieges in cities, and wait till men could be assembled from all points. The Grand Prince decided to visit Yaroslavl, Rostoff, Kostroma, and find men there. Vladimir was to hurry to Volok and get warriors in those parts.

Meanwhile the Khan’s troops were rapidly approaching. In his army were Dmitri’s brothers-in-law; Oleg of Ryazan was there also.

In Kostroma the Grand Prince enrolled perhaps ten thousand men. From Novgorod no word had come thus far. The Tver prince, instead of helping Dmitri, sent his son to the Khan with gifts and homage. Many warriors in Dmitri’s regiments deserted; whole companies went home of their own accord. There was a general paralysis. In Moscow, deserted by the army and left without a leader, there was anarchy. All who were able hurried out of the city, and then appeared vagrants and persons who in ordinary times were not visible anywhere. The mob rang the bells and summoned the inhabitants to die in defense of their city. The Grand Princess and her children left Moscow, as did the metropolitan Cyprian. The people wished to keep the metropolitan with them, but, leaving all things and every one, he escaped unobserved and unattended, and fled to the Tver prince. The mob [395]was like a sea in a tempest; there was no hope of rescue from any side.

All at once Prince Ostei appeared in the capital with a small group of warriors. The crowd did not know well who this prince was, or whence he came. Some declared him a son of Oleg; but in every case they were delighted, for it was clear that he knew well the art of war. There was more order after his coming. A great number of people assembled from the env