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Title: The Empire of Russia
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot), 1805-1877
Language: English
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The Monarchies of Continental Europe


From the Remotest Periods to the Present Time







The world is now too busy to read voluminous history. The interminable
details of battles, and the petty intrigues of courtiers and
mistresses, have lost their interest. In this volume it has been our
object to trace perspicuously the path which Russia has trod from
earliest infancy to the present hour. The career of this empire has
been so wild and wonderful that the historian can have no occasion to
call in the aid of fancy for the embellishment of his narrative.

The author has not deemed it necessary to incumber his pages with
notes to substantiate his statements. The renowned Russian historian,
Karamsin, who wrote under the patronage of Alexander I., gives ample
authentication to all the facts which are stated up to the reign of
that emperor. His voluminous history, in classic beauty, is
unsurpassed by any of the annals of Greece or Rome. It has been
admirably translated into French by Messrs. St. Thomas and Jauffret in
eleven imperial quarto volumes. In the critical citations of this
author, the reader, curious in such researches, will find every fact
in the early history of Russia, here stated, confirmed.

There are but few valuable works upon Russia in the English language.
Nearly all, which can be relied upon as authorities, are written
either in French or German. The writer would refer those who seek a
more minute acquaintance with this empire, now rising so rapidly in
importance, first of all to Karamsin. The "Histoire Philosophique et
Politique de Russie Depuis les Temps les Plus Reculés Jusqu'au Nos
Jours, par J. Esneaux," Paris, five volumes, is a valuable work. The
"Histoire de Russie par Pierre Charles Levesque," eight volumes, is
discriminating and reliable. The various volumes of William Tooke upon
Russian history in general, and upon the reign of Catharine, contain
much information.

It is only since the reign of Peter the Great that Russia has begun to
attract much attention among the enlightened nations of Europe.
Voltaire's life of this most renowned of the Russian sovereigns, at
its first publication, attracted much notice. Since then, many books
have been written upon fragments of Russian history and individual
reigns. From most of these the author has selected such events as have
appeared to him most instructive and best adapted to give the reader a
clear conception of the present condition and future prospects of this
gigantic empire. The path she has trod, since her first emergence into
civilization from the chaos of barbarism, can be very distinctly
traced, and one can easily count the concentric accretions of her
growth. This narrative reveals the mistakes which have overwhelmed her
with woe, and the wisdom which has, at times, secured for Russia peace
and prosperity.

In writing these histories of the monarchies of Continental Europe,
the author has no wish to conceal his abhorrence of aristocratic
usurpation. Believing in the universal brotherhood of man, his
sympathies are most cordially with the oppressed masses. If the people
are weak and debased, the claim is only the more urgent upon the
powerful and the wise to act the part of elder brothers, holding out
the helping hand to those who have fallen. The author feels grateful
for the reception which the first number of this series, the Empire of
Austria, has received from the American public. He hopes that this
volume will not prove less interesting or instructive. In the course
of a few months it will be followed by the History of Italy.




From 500 B.C. to A.D. 910.

Primeval Russia.--Explorations of the Greeks.--Scythian
Invasion.--Character of the Scythians.--Sarmatia.--Assaults Upon the
Roman Empire.--Irruption of the Alains.--Conquests of Trajan.--The
Gothic invasion,--The Huns--their Character and Aspect.--The
Devastations of Attila.--The Avars.--Results of Comminglings of these
Tribes.--Normans.--Birth of the Russian Empire--The Three Sovereigns
Ruric, Sineous and Truvor.--Adventures of Ascolod and
Dir.--Introduction of Christianity.--Usurpation of Oleg.--His
Conquests.--Expedition Against Constantinople.



From 910 to 973.

Expedition to Constantinople.--Treaty with the Emperor.--Last Days of
Oleg.--His Death.--Igor Assumes the Scepter.--His Expedition to the
Don.--Descent Upon Constantinople.--His Defeat.--Second
Expedition.--Pusillanimity of the Greeks.--Death of Igor.--Regency of
Olga.--Her Character.--Succession of Sviatoslaf.--His Impiety and
Ambition.--Conquest of Bulgaria.--Division of the Empire.--Defeat,
Ruin and Death of Sviatoslaf.--Civil War.--Death of Oleg.--Flight of
Vladimir.--Supremacy of Yaropolk.



From 973 to 1092.

Flight of Vladimir.--His Stolen Bride.--The March Upon
Kief.--Debauchery of Vladimir.--Zealous Paganism.--Introduction of
Christianity.--Baptism in the Dnieper.--Entire Change in the Character
of Vladimir.--His Great Reforms.--His Death.--Usurpation of Sviatopolk
the Miserable.--Accession of Yaroslaf.--His Administration and
Death.--Accession of Ysiaslaf.--His Strange Reverses,--His
Death.--Vsevolod Ascends the Throne.--His Two Flights to
Poland.--Appeals to the Pope.--Wars, Famine and Pestilence.--Character
of Vsevolod.



From 1092 to 1167.

Character of Vsevolod.--Succession of Sviatopolk.--His
Discomfiture.--Deplorable Condition of Russia.--Death of
Sviatopolk.--His Character.--Accession of Monomaque.--Curious Festival
At Kief.--Energy of Monomaque.--Alarm of the Emperor At
Constantinople.--Horrors of War.--Death of Monomaque.--His Remarkable
Character.--Pious Letter To His Children.--Accession of Mstislaf.--His
Short But Stormy Reign.--Struggles For the Throne.--Final Victory of
Ysiaslaf.--Moscow in the Province of Souzdal.--Death of
Ysiaslaf.--Wonderful Career of Rostislaf.--Rising Power of
Moscow.--Georgievitch, Prince of Moscow.



From 1167 to 1212.

Centralization of Power At Kief.--Death of Rostislaf.--His Religious
Character.--Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch Ascends the Throne.--Proclamation of
the King.--Its Effect.--Plans of André.--Scenes At Kief.--Return and
Death of Mstislaf.--War in Novgorod.--Peace Concluded Throughout
Russia.--Insult of André and Its Consequences.--Greatness of Soul
Displayed By André.--Assassination of André.--Renewal of
Anarchy.--Emigration From Novgorod.--Reign of Michel.--Vsevolod
III.--Evangelization of Bulgaria.--Death of Vsevolod III.--His Queen



From 1212 to 1238.

Accession of Georges.--Famine.--Battle of Lipetsk.--Defeat of
Georges.--His Surrender.--Constantin Seizes the Scepter.--Exploits of
Mstislaf.--Imbecility of Constantin.--Death of Constantin.--Georges
III.--Invasion of Bulgaria.--Progress of the Monarchy.--Right of
Succession.--Commerce of the Dnieper.--Genghis Khan.--His Rise and
Conquests.--Invasion of Southern Russia.--Death of Genghis
Khan.--Succession of His Son Ougadai.--March of Bati.--Entrance into
Russia.--Utter Defeat of the Russians.



From 1238 to 1304.

Retreat of Georges II.--Desolating March of the Tartars.--Capture of
Vladimir.--Fall of Moscow.--Utter Defeat of Georges.--Conflict of
Torjek.--March of the Tartars Toward the South.--Subjugation of the
Polovtsi.--Capture of Kief.--Humiliation of Yaroslaf.--Overthrow of
the Gaussian Kingdom.--Haughtiness of the Tartars.--Reign of
Alexander.--Succession of Yaroslaf.--The Reign of Vassuli.--State of
Christianity.--Infamy of André.--Struggles With Dmitri.--Independence
of the Principalities.--Death of André.



From 1304 to 1380.

Defeat of Georges and the Tartars.--Indignation of the Khan.--Michel
Summoned To the Horde.--His Trial and Execution.--Assassination of
Georges.--Execution of Dmitri.--Repulse and Death of the Embassador of
the Khan.--Vengeance of the Khan.--Increasing Prosperity of Russia.
--The Great Plague.--Supremacy of Simon.--Anarchy in the
Horde.--Plague and Conflagration.--The Tartars Repulsed.--Reconquest
of Bulgaria.--The Great Battle of Koulikof.--Utter Rout of the



From 1380 to 1462.

Recovery of Dmitri.--New Tartar invasion.--The Assault and Capture of
Moscow.--New Subjugation of the Russians.--Lithuania Embraces
Christianity.--Escape of Vassali From the Horde.--Death of
Dmitri.--Tamerlane--His Origin and Career.--His Invasion of
India.--Defeat of Bajazet.--Tamerlane Invades Russia.--Preparations
for Resistance.--Sudden Retreat of the Tartars.--Death of
Vassali.--Accession of Vassali Vassilievitch.--The Disputed
Succession.--Appeal to the Khan.--Rebellion of Youri.--Cruelty of
Vassali.--The Retribution.



From 1462 to 1480.

Ivan III.--His Precocity and Rising Power.--The Three Great
Hordes.--Russian Expedition Against Kezan.--Defeat of the
Tartars.--Capture of Constantinople By the Turks.--The Princess
Sophia.--Her Journey To Russia, and Marriage With Ivan
III.--Increasing Renown of Russia.--New Difficulty With the
Horde.--The Tartars invade Russia.--Strife On the Banks of the
Oka.--Letter of the Metropolitan Bishop.--Unprecedented
Panic.--Liberation of Russia.



From 1480 to 1533.

Alliance With Hungary.--A Traveler From Germany.--Treaty Between
Russia and Germany.--Embassage to Turkey.--Court Etiquette.--Death of
the Princess Sophia.--Death of Ivan.--Advancement of
Knowledge.--Succession of Vassili.--Attack Upon the Horde.--Rout of
the Russians.--The Grand Prince Takes the Title of Emperor.--Turkish
Envoy to Moscow.--Efforts To Arm Europe Against the Turks.--Death of
the Emperor Maximilian, and Accession of Charles V. to the Empire of
Germany.--Death of Vassili.



From 1533 to 1546.

Vassili At the Chase.--Attention To Distinguished Foreigners.--The
Autocracy.--Splendor of the Edifices.--Slavery.--Aristocracy.--Infancy
of Ivan IV.--Regency of Hélène.--Conspiracies and Tumults.--War with
Sigismond of Poland.--Death of Hélène.--Struggles of the
Nobles.--Appalling Sufferings of Dmitri.--Incursion of the
Tartars.--Successful Conspiracy.--Ivan IV. At the Chase.--Coronation
of Ivan IV.



From 1546 to 1552.

The Title of Tzar.--Marriage of Ivan IV.--Virtues of His
Bride.--Depraved Character of the Young Emperor.--Terrible
Conflagrations.--Insurrections.--The Rebuke.--Wonderful Change in the
Character of Ivan IV.--Confessions of Sin and Measures of
Reform.--Sylvestre and Alexis Adachef.--The Code of Laws.--Reforms in
the Church.--Encouragement To Men of Science and Letters.--The
Embassage of Schlit.--War With Kezan.--Disasters and Disgrace.--Immense
Preparation For the Chastisement of the Horde.--The March.--Repulse of
the Tauredians.--Siege of Kezan.--Incidents of the Siege.



From 1552 to 1557.

Siege of Kezan.--Artifices of War.--The Explosion of Mines.--The Final
Assault.--Complete Subjugation of Kezan.--Gratitude and Liberality of
the Tzar.--Return To Moscow.--Joy of the inhabitants.--Birth of An
Heir To the Crown.--Insurrection in Kezan.--The Insurrection
Quelled.--Conquest of Astrachan.--The English Expedition in Search of
a North-East Passage to India.--The Establishment at
Archangel.--Commercial Relations Between France and Russia.--Russian
Embassy to England.--Extension of Commerce.



From 1557 to 1582.

Terror of the Horde in Tauride.--War with Gustavus Vasa of
Sweden.--Political Punctilios.--The Kingdom of Livonia Annexed to
Sweden.--Death of Anastasia.--Conspiracy Against Ivan.--His
Abdication.--His Resumption of the Crown.--Invasion of Russia by the
Tartars and Turks.--Heroism of Zerebrinow.--Utter Discomfiture of the
Tartars.--Relations Between Queen Elizabeth of England, and
Russia.--Intrepid Embassage.--New War with Poland.--Disasters of
Russia.--The Emperor Kills His Own Son.--Anguish of Ivan IV.



From 1582 to 1608.

Anguish and Death of Ivan IV.--His Character.--Feodor and
Dmitri.--Usurpation of Boris Gudenow.--The Polish Election.--Conquest
of Siberia.--Assassination of Dmitri.--Death of Feodor.--Boris Crowned
King.--Conspiracies.--Reappearance of Dmitri.--Boris Poisoned.--The
Pretender Crowned.--Embarrassments of Dmitri.--A New
Pretender.--Assassination of Dmitri.--Crowning of Zuski.--Indignation
of Poland.--Historical Romance.



From 1608 to 1680.

Conquests by Poland.--Sweden in Alliance with Russia.--Grandeur of
Poland.--Ladislaus Elected King of Russia.--Commotions and
insurrections.--Rejection of Ladislaus and Election of Michael Feodor
Romanow.--Sorrow of His Mother.--Pacific Character of Romanow.--Choice
of a Bride.--Eudochia Streschnew.--The Archbishop Feodor.--Death of
Michael and Accession of Alexis.--Love in the Palace.--Successful
intrigue.--Mobs in Moscow.--Change in the Character of the
Tzar.--Turkish invasions.--Alliance Between Russia and Poland.



From 1680 to 1697.

Administration of Feodor.--Death of Feodor.--Incapacity of
Ivan.--Succession of Peter.--Usurpation of Sophia.--Insurrection of
the Strelitzes.--Massacre in Moscow.--Success of the
Insurrection.--Ivan and Peter Declared Sovereigns under the Regency of
Sophia.--General Discontent.--Conspiracy against Sophia.--Her Flight
to the Convent.--The Conspiracy Quelled.--New Conspiracy.--Energy of
Peter.--He Assumes the Crown.--Sophia Banished to a
Convent.--Commencement of the Reign of Peter.



From 1697 to 1702.

Young Russians Sent to Foreign Countries.--The Tzar Decides Upon a Tour
of Observation.--His Plan of Travel.--Anecdote.--Peter's Mode of Life
in Holland.--Characteristic Anecdotes.--The Presentation of the
Embassador.--The Tzar Visits England.--Life at Deptford.--Illustrious
Foreigners Engaged in His Service.--Peter Visits Vienna.--The Game of
Landlord.--Insurrection in Moscow.--Return of the Tzar, and Measures of
Severity.--War with Sweden.--Disastrous Defeat of Narva.--Efforts to
Secure the Shores of the Baltic.--Designs Upon the Black Sea.



From 1702 TO 1718.

Peter takes Lake Lagoda and the Neva.--Foundation of St.
Petersburg.--Conquest of Livonia.--Marienburg Taken by Storm.--The
Empress Catharine.--Extraordinary Efforts in Building St.
Petersburg.--Threat of Charles XII.--Deposition of
Augustus.--Enthronement of Stanislaus.--Battle of Pultowa.--Flight of
Charles XII. to Turkey.--Increased Renown of Russia.--Disastrous
Conflict with the Turks.--Marriage of Alexis.--His Character.--Death
of his Wife.--The Empress Acknowledged.--Conquest of Finland.--Tour of
the Tzar to Southern Europe.



From 1718 to 1725.

The Tzar's Second Visit to Holland.--Reception in France.--Description
of Catharine.--Domestic Grief.--Conduct of Alexis.--Letters from His
Father.--Flight To Germany.--Thence to Naples.--Envoys Sent to Bring
Him Back.--Alexis Excluded from the Succession.--His Trial for
Treason.--Condemnation and Unexpected Death.--New Efforts of the Tzar
for the Welfare of Russia.--Sickness of Peter.--His Death.--Succession
of the Empress Catharine.--Epitaph to the Emperor.



From 1725 TO 1769.

Energetic Reign of Catharine.--Her Sudden Death.--Brief Reign of Peter
II.--Difficulties of Hereditary Succession.--A Republic
Contemplated.--Anne, Daughter of Ivan.--The Infant Ivan Proclaimed
King.--His Terrible Doom.--Elizabeth, Daughter of Peter the Great,
Enthroned.--Character of Elizabeth.--Alliance with Maria
Theresa.--Wars with Prussia.--Great Reverses of Frederic of
Prussia.--Desperate Condition of Frederic.--Death of
Elizabeth.--Succession of Peter III.



From 1728 TO 1762.

Lineage of Peter III.--Chosen by Elizabeth as her Successor.--The
Bride Chosen for Peter.--Her Lineage.--The Courtship.--The
Marriage.--Autobiography of Catharine.--Anecdotes of Peter.--His
Neglect of Catharine and his Debaucheries.--Amusements of the Russian
Court.--Military Execution of a Rat.--Accession of Peter III. to the
Throne.--Supremacy of Catharine.--Her Repudiation Threatened.--The
Conspiracy.--Its Successful Accomplishment.



From 1762 to 1765.

Peter III. at Oranienbaum.--Catharine at Peterhof.--The Successful
Accomplishment of the Conspiracy.--Terror of Peter.--His Vacillating
and Feeble Character.--Flight to Cronstadt.--Repulse.--Heroic Counsel
of Munich.--Peter's Return to Oranienbaum.--His Suppliant Letters to
Catharine.--His Arrest.--Imprisonment.--Assasination.--Proclamation of
the Empress.--Her Complicity in the Crime.--Energy of Catharine's
Administration.--Her Expansive Views and Sagacious
Policy.--Contemplated Marriage with Count Orlof.



From 1765 to 1774.

Energy of Catharine's Administration.--Titles of Honor Decreed to
Her.--Code of Laws Instituted.--The Assassination of the Empress
Attempted.--Encouragement of Learned Men.--Catharine Inoculated for
the Small-Pox.--New War with Turkey.--Capture of Crimea.--Sailing of
the Russian Fleet.--Great Naval Victory.--Visit of the Prussian Prince
Henry.--The Sleigh Ride.--Plans for the Partition of Poland.--The
Hermitage.--Marriage of the Grand Duke Paul.--Correspondence with
Voltaire and Diderot.



From 1774 to 1781.

Peace with Turkey.--Court of Catharine II.--Her Personal Appearance
and Habits.--Conspiracy and Rebellion.--Defeat of the
Rebels.--Magnanimity of Catharine II.--Ambition of the
Empress.--Court Favorite.--Division of Russia into
Provinces.--internal Improvements.--New Partition of Poland.--Death of
the Wife of Paul.--Second Marriage of the Grand Duke.--Splendor of the
Russian Court.--Russia and Austria Secretly Combine to Drive the Turks
out of Europe.--The Emperor Joseph II.



From 1781 to 1786.

Statue of Peter the Great.--Alliance Between Austria and
Russia.--Independence of the Crimea--The Khan of the Crimea.--Vast
Preparations for War.--National Jealousies.--Tolerant Spirit of
Catharine.--Magnificent Excursion to the Crimea.--Commencement of
Hostilities.--Anecdote of Paul.--Peace.--New Partition of
Poland.--Treaty with Austria and France.--Hostility to Liberty in
France.--Death of Catharine.--Her Character.



From 1796 to 1801.

Accession of Paul I. to the Throne.--Influence of Hereditary
Transmission of Power.--Extravagance of Paul.--His Despotism.--The
Horse Court Martialed.--Progress of the French Revolution.--Fears and
Violence of Paul.--Hostility to Foreigners.--Russia Joins the
Coalition Against France.--March of Suwarrow.--Character of
Suwarrow.--Battle on the Adda.--Battle of Novi.--Suwarrow marches on
the Rhine.--His Defeat and Death.--Paul Abandons the Coalition and
Joins France.--Conspiracies at St. Petersburg.



From 1801 to 1807.

Assassination of Paul I.--Implication of Alexander in the
Conspiracy.--Anecdotes.--Accession of Alexander.--The French
Revolution.--Alexander Joins Allies Against France.--State of
Russia.--Useful Measures of Alexander.--Peace of Amiens.--Renewal of
Hostilities.--Battle of Austerlitz.--Magnanimity of Napoleon.--New
Coalition.--Ambition of Alexander.--Battles of Jena and Eylau.--Defeat
of the Russians.



From 1807 to 1825.

The Field of Eylau.--Letter to the King of Prussia.--Renewal of the
War--Discomfiture of the Allies.--Battle of Friedland.--The Raft at
Tilsit.--Intimacy of the Emperors.--Alexander's Designs upon
Turkey.--Alliance Between France and Russia.--Object of the
Continental System.--Perplexities of Alexander.--Driven by the Nobles
to War.--Results of the Russian Campaign.--Napoleon Vanquished.--Last
Days of Alexander.--His Sickness and Death.



From 1825 to 1855.

Abdication of Constantine.--Accession of Nicholas.--Insurrection
Quelled.--Nicholas and the Conspirator.--Anecdote.--The Palace of
Peterhof.--The Winter Palace.--Presentation at Court.--Magnitude of
Russia.--Description of the Hellespont and Dardanelles.--The Turkish
Invasion.--Aims of Russia.--Views of England and France.--Wars of
Nicholas.--The Polish Insurrection.--War of the Crimea.--Jealousies of
the Leading Nations.--Encroachments.--Death of Nicholas.--Accession of
Alexander II.



From 600 B.C. to A.D. 910.

Primeval Russia.--Explorations of the Greeks.--Scythian
Invasion.--Character of the Scythians.--Sarmatia.--Assaults upon the
Roman Empire.--Irruption of the Alains.--Conquests of Trajan.--The
Gothic Invasion.--The Huns.--Their Character and Aspect.--The
Devastations of Attila.--The Avars.--Results of Comminglings of these
Tribes.--Normans.--Birth of the Russian Empire.--The Three Sovereigns
Rurik, Sineous and Truvor.--Adventures of Ascolod and
Dir.--Introduction of Christianity.--Usurpation of Oleg.--His
Conquests.--Expedition Against Constantinople.

Those vast realms of northern Europe, now called Russia, have been
inhabited for a period beyond the records of history, by wandering
tribes of savages. These barbaric hordes have left no monuments of
their existence. The annals of Greece and of Rome simply inform us
that they were there. Generations came and departed, passing through
life's tragic drama, and no one has told their story.

About five hundred years before the birth of our Saviour, the Greeks,
sailing up the Bosphorus and braving the storms of the Black Sea,
began to plant their colonies along its shores. Instructed by these
colonists, Herodotus, who wrote about four hundred and forty years
before Christ, gives some information respecting the then condition of
interior Russia. The first great irruption into the wastes of Russia,
of which history gives us any record, was about one hundred years
before our Saviour. An immense multitude of conglomerated tribes,
taking the general name of Scythians, with their wives and their
children, their flocks and their herds, and their warriors, fiercer
than wolves, crossed the Volga, and took possession of the whole
country between the Don and the Danube. These barbarians did not
molest the Greek colonies, but, on the contrary, were glad to learn of
them many of the rudiments of civilization. Some of these tribes
retained their ancestral habits of wandering herdsmen, and, with their
flocks, traversed the vast and treeless plains, where they found ample
pasture. Others selecting sunny and fertile valleys, scattered their
seed and cultivated the soil. Thus the Scythians were divided into two
quite distinct classes, the herdsmen and the laborers.

The tribes who then peopled the vast wilds of northern Europe and
Asia, though almost innumerable, and of different languages and
customs, were all called, by the Greeks, Scythians, as we have given
the general name of Indians to all the tribes who formerly ranged the
forests of North America. The Scythians were as ferocious a race as
earth has ever known. They drank the blood of their enemies; tanned
their skins for garments; used their skulls for drinking cups; and
worshiped a sword as the image or emblem of their favorite deity, the
God of War. Philip of Macedon was the first who put any check upon
their proud spirit. He conquered them in a decisive battle, and thus
taught them that they were not invincible. Alexander the Great
assailed them and spread the terror of his arms throughout all the
region between the Danube and the Dnieper. Subsequently the Roman
legions advanced to the Euxine, and planted their eagles upon the
heights of the Caucasus.

The Roman historians seem to have dropped the Scythian name, and they
called the whole northern expanse of Europe and Asia, Sarmatia, and
the barbarous inhabitants Sarmatians. About the time of our Saviour,
some of these fierce tribes from the banks of the Theiss and the
Danube, commenced their assaults upon the frontiers of the Roman
empire. This was the signal for that war of centuries, which
terminated in the overthrow of the throne of the Cæsars. The Roman
Senate, enervated by luxury, condescended to purchase peace of these
barbarians, and nations of savages, whose names are now forgotten,
exacted tribute, under guise of payment for alliance, from the proud
empire. But neither bribes, nor alliances, nor the sword in the hands
of enervated Rome, could effectually check the incursions of these
bands, who were ever emerging, like wolves, from the mysterious depths
of the North.

In the haze of those distant times and remote realms, we catch dim
glimpses of locust legions, emerging from the plains and the ravines
between the Black Sea and the Caspian, and sweeping like a storm cloud
over nearly all of what is now called Russia. These people, to whom
the name of Alains was given, had no fixed habitations; they conveyed
their women and children in rude carts. Their devastations were alike
extended over Europe and Asia, and in the ferocity of their assaults
they were as insensible to death as wild beasts could be.

In the second century, the emperor Trajan conquered and took
possession of the province of Dacia, which included all of lower
Hungary, Transylvania, Moldavia, Wallachia and Bessarabia. The country
was divided into Roman provinces, over each of which a prefect was
established. In the third century, the Goths, from the shores of the
Baltic, came rushing over the wide arena, with the howling of wolves
and their gnashing of teeth. They trampled down all opposition, with
their war knives drove out the Romans, crossed the Black Sea in their
rude vessels, and spread conflagration and death throughout the most
flourishing cities and villages of Bythinia, Gallacia and Cappadocia.
The famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, these barbarians committed to
the flames. They overran all Greece and took Athens by storm. As they
were about to destroy the precious libraries of Athens, one of their
chieftains said,

     "Let us leave to the Greeks their books, that they, in reading
     them may forget the arts of war; and that we thus may more easily
     be able to hold them in subjection."

These Goths established an empire, extending from the Black Sea to the
Baltic, and which embraced nearly all of what is now European Russia.
Towards the close of the fourth century, another of these appalling
waves of barbaric inundation rolled over northern Europe. The Huns,
emerging from the northern frontiers of China, traversed the immense
intervening deserts, and swept over European Russia, spreading
everywhere flames and desolation. The historians of that day seem to
find no language sufficiently forcible to describe the hideousness and
the ferocity of these savages. They pressed down on the Roman empire
as merciless as wolves, and the Cæsars turned pale at the recital of
their deeds of blood.

It is indeed a revolting picture which contemporaneous history gives
us of these barbarians. In their faces was concentrated the ugliness
of the hyena and the baboon. They tattooed their cheeks, to prevent
the growth of their beards. They were short, thick-set, and with back
bones curved almost into a semicircle. Herbs, roots and raw meat they
devoured, tearing their food with their teeth or hewing it with their
swords. To warm and soften their meat, they placed it under their
saddles when riding. Nearly all their lives they passed on horseback.
Wandering incessantly over the vast plains, they had no fixed
habitations, but warmly clad in the untanned skins of beasts, like the
beasts they slept wherever the night found them. They had no religion
nor laws, no conception of ideas of honor; their language was a
wretched jargon, and in their nature there seemed to be no moral sense
to which compassion or mercy could plead.

Such were the Huns as described by the ancient historians. The Goths
struggled against them in vain. They were crushed and subjugated. The
king of the Goths, Hermanric, in chagrin and despair, committed
suicide, that he might escape slavery. Thousands of the Goths, in
their terror, crowded down into the Roman province of Thrace, now the
Turkish province of Romania. The empire, then in its decadence, could
not drive them back, and they obtained a permanent foothold there. The
Huns thus attained the supremacy throughout all of northern Europe.
There were then very many tribes of diverse names peopling these vast
realms, and incessant wars were waged between them. The domination
which the Huns attained was precarious, and not distinctly defined.

The terrible Attila ere long appears as the king of these Huns, about
the middle of the fifth century. This wonderful barbarian extended his
sway from the Volga to the Rhine, and from the Bosphorus to the shores
of the Baltic. Where-ever he appeared, blood flowed in torrents. He
swept the valley of the Danube with flame and sword, destroying
cities, fortresses and villages, and converting the whole region into
a desert. At the head of an army of seven hundred thousand men, he
plunged all Europe into dismay. Both the Eastern and Western empire
were compelled to pay him tribute. He even invaded Gaul, and upon the
plains of Chalons was defeated in one of the most bloody battles ever
fought in Europe. Contemporary historians record that one hundred and
six thousand dead were left upon the field. With the death of Attila,
the supremacy of the Huns vanished. The irruption of the Huns was a
devastating scourge, which terrified the world. Whole nations were
exterminated in their march, until at last the horrible apparition
disappeared, almost as suddenly as it arose.

With the disappearance of the Huns, central Russia presents to us the
aspect of a vast waste, thinly peopled, with the wrecks of nations and
tribes, debased and feeble, living upon the cattle they herded, and
occasionally cultivating the soil. And now there comes forward upon
this theater of violence and of blood another people, called the
Sclavonians, more energetic and more intelligent than any who had
preceded them. The origin of the Sclavonians is quite lost in the haze
of distance, and in the savage wilds where they first appeared. The
few traditions which have been gleaned respecting them are of very
little authority.

From about the close of the fifth century the inhabitants of the whole
region now embraced by European Russia, were called Sclavonians; and
yet it appears that these Sclavonians consisted of many nations, rude
and warlike, with various distinctive names. They soon began to crowd
upon the Roman empire, and became more formidable than the Goths or
the Huns had been. Wading through blood they seized province after
province of the empire, destroying and massacring often in mere
wantonness. The emperor Justinian was frequently compelled to purchase
peace with them and to bribe them to alliance.

And now came another wave of invasion, bloody and overwhelming. The
Avars, from the north of China, swept over Asia, seized all the
provinces on the Black Sea, overran Greece, and took possession of
most of the country between the Volga and the Elbe. The Sclavonians of
the Danube, however, successfully resisted them, and maintained their
independence. Generations came and went as these hordes, wild,
degraded and wretched, swept these northern wilds, in debasement and
cruelty rivaling the wolves which howled in their forests. They have
left no traces behind them, and the few records of their joyless lives
which history has preserved, are merely the gleanings of uncertain
tradition. The thinking mind pauses in sadness to contemplate the
spectacle of these weary ages, when his brother man was the most
ferocious of beasts, and when all the discipline of life tended only
to sink him into deeper abysses of brutality and misery. There is here
a problem in the divine government which no human wisdom can solve.
There is consolation only in the announcement that what we know not
now, we shall know hereafter. All these diverse nations blending have
formed the present Russians.

Along the shores of the Baltic, these people assumed the name of
Scandinavians, and subsequently Normans. Toward the close of the
eighth century, the Normans filled Europe with the renown of their
exploits, and their banners bade defiance even to the armies of
Charlemagne. Early in the ninth century they ravaged France, Italy,
Scotland, England, and passed over to Ireland, where they built cities
which remain to the present day. "There is no manner of doubt," writes
M. Karamsin in his history of Russia, "that five hundred years before
Christopher Columbus, they had discovered North America, and
instituted commerce with the natives."

It is not until the middle of the ninth century, that we obtain any
really reliable information respecting the inhabitants of central
Russia. They are described as a light-complexioned, flaxen-haired
race, robust, and capable of great endurance. Their huts were
cheerless, affording but little shelter, and they lived upon the
coarsest food, often devouring their meat raw. The Greeks expressed
astonishment at their agility in climbing precipitous cliffs, and
admired the hardihood with which they plunged through bogs, and swam
the most rapid and swollen streams. He who had the most athletic vigor
was the greatest man, and all the ambition and energy of the nation
were expended in the acquisition of strength and agility.

They are ever described as strangers to fear, rushing unthinkingly
upon certain death. They were always ready to accept combat with the
Roman legions. Entire strangers to military strategy, they made no
attacks in drilled lines or columns, but the whole tumultuous mass, in
wild disorder rushed upon the foe, with the most desperate daring,
having no guide but their own ferocity and the chieftains who led
small bands. Their weapons consisted of swords, javelins and poisoned
arrows, and each man carried a heavy shield. As they crossed the
Danube in their bloody forays, incited by love of plunder, the
inhabitants of the Roman villages fled before them. When pursued by an
invincible force they would relinquish life rather than their booty,
even when the plunder was of a kind totally valueless in their savage
homes. The ancient annals depict in appalling colors the cruelties
they exercised upon their captives. They were, however, as patient in
endurance as they were merciless in infliction. No keenness of torture
could force from them a cry of pain.

Yet these people, so ferocious, are described as remarkably amiable
among themselves, seldom quarreling, honest and truthful, and
practicing hospitality with truly patriarchal grace. Whenever they
left home, the door was unfastened and food was left for any chance
wayfarer. A guest was treated as a heavenly messenger, and was guided
on his way with the kindest expressions for his welfare.

The females, as in all barbaric countries, were exposed to every
indignity. All the hard labor of life was thrown upon them. When the
husband died, the widow was compelled to cast herself upon the funeral
pile which consumed his remains. It is said that this barbarous
custom, which Christianity abolished, was introduced to prevent the
wife from secretly killing her husband. The wife was also regarded as
the slave of the husband, and they imagined that if she died at the
same time with her husband, she would serve him in another world. The
wives often followed their husbands to the wars. From infancy the boys
were trained to fight, and were taught that nothing was more
disgraceful than to forgive an injury.

A mother was permitted, if she wished, to destroy her female children;
but the boys were all preserved to add to the military strength of the
nation. It was lawful, also, for the children to put their parents to
death when they had become infirm and useless. "Behold," exclaims a
Russian historian, "how a people naturally kind, when deprived of the
light of revelation can remorselessly outrage nature, and surpass in
cruelty the most ferocious animals."

In different sections of this vast region there were different degrees
of debasement, influenced by causes no longer known. A tribe called
Drevliens, Nestor states, lived in the most gloomy forests with the
beasts and like the beasts. They ate any food which a pig would
devour, and had as little idea of marriage as have sheep or goats.
Among the Sclavonians generally there appears to have been no
aristocracy. Each family was an independent republic. Different tribes
occasionally met to consult upon questions of common interest, when
the men of age, and who had acquired reputation for wisdom, guided in

Gradually during the progress of their wars an aristocracy arose.
Warriors of renown became chiefs, and created for themselves posts of
authority and honor. By prowess and plunder they acquired wealth. In
their incursions into the empire, they saw the architecture of Greece
and Rome, and thus incited, they began to rear castles and fortresses.
He who was recognized as the leading warrior in time of battle,
retained his authority in the days of peace, which were very few. The
castle became necessary for the defense of the tribe or clan, and the
chieftain became the feudal noble, invested with unlimited power. At
one time every man who was rich enough to own a horse was deemed a
noble. The first power recognized was only military authority. But the
progress of civilization developed the absolute necessity of other
powers to protect the weak, to repress crime, and to guide in the
essential steps of nations emerging from darkness into light. With all
nations advancing from barbarism, the process has ever been slow by
which the civil authority has been separated from the military. It is
impossible to educe from the chaos of those times any established
principles. Often the duke or leader was chosen with imposing
ceremonies. Some men of commanding abilities would gather into their
hands the reins of almost unlimited power, and would transmit that
power to their sons. Others were chiefs but in name.

We have but dim glimpses of the early religion of this people. In the
sixth century they are represented as regarding with awe the deity
whom they designated as the creator of thunder. The spectacle of the
majestic storms which swept their plains and the lightning bolts
hurled from an invisible hand, deeply impressed these untutored
people. They endeavored to appease the anger of the supreme being by
the sacrifice of bulls and other animals. They also peopled the
groves, the fountains, the rivers with deities; statues were rudely
chiseled, into which they supposed the spirits of their gods entered,
and which they worshiped. They deemed the supreme being himself too
elevated for direct human adoration, and only ventured to approach him
through gods of a secondary order. They believed in a fallen spirit, a
god of evil, who was the author of all the calamities which afflict
the human race.

The polished Greeks chiseled their idols, from snow-white marble, into
the most exquisite proportions of the human form. Many they invested
with all the charms of loveliness, and endowed them with the most
amiable attributes. The voluptuous Venus and the laurel-crowned
Bacchus were their gods. But the Sclavonians, regarding their deities
only as possessors of power and objects of terror, carved their idols
gigantic in stature, and hideous in aspect.

From these rude, scattered and discordant populations, the empire of
Russia quite suddenly sprang into being. Its birth was one of the most
extraordinary events history has transmitted to us. We have seen that
the Normans, dwelling along the southern and eastern shores of the
Baltic, and visiting the most distant coasts with their commercial and
predatory fleets, had attained a degree of power, intelligence and
culture, which gave them a decided preëminence over the tribes who
were scattered over the wilds of central Russia.

A Sclavonian, whose name tradition says was Gostomysle, a man far
superior to his countrymen in intelligence and sagacity, deploring the
anarchy which reigned everywhere around him, and admiring the superior
civilization of the Normans, persuaded several tribes unitedly to send
an embassy to the Normans to solicit of them a king. The embassy was
accompanied by a strong force of these fierce warriors, who knew well
how to fight, but who had become conscious that they did not know how
to govern themselves. Their message was laconic but explicit:

"Our country," said they, "is grand and fertile, but under the reign
of disorder. Come and govern us and reign over us."

Three brothers, named Rurik, Sineous and Truvor, illustrious both by
birth and achievements, consented to assume the sovereignty, each over
a third part of the united applicants; each engaging to coöperate with
and uphold the others. Escorted by the armed retinue which had come to
receive them, they left their native shores, and entered the wilds of
Scandinavia. Rurik established himself at Novgorod, on lake Ilmen.
Sineous, advancing some three hundred miles further, north-east, took
his station at Bielo Ozero, on the shores of lake Bielo. Truvor went
some hundred miles further south to Truvor, in the vicinity of

Thus there were three sovereigns established in Russia, united by the
ties of interest and consanguinity. It was then that this region
acquired the name of Russia, from the Norman tribe who furnished these
three sovereigns. The Russia which thus emerged into being was indeed
an infant, compared with the gigantic empire in this day of its
growing and vigorous manhood. It embraced then but a few thousand
square miles, being all included in the present provinces of St.
Petersburg, Novgorod and Pskov. But two years passed away ere Sineous
and Truvor died, and Rurik united their territories with his own, and
thus established the Russian monarchy. The realms of Rurik grew,
rapidly by annexation, and soon extended east some two hundred miles
beyond where Moscow now stands, to the head waters of the Volga. They
were bounded on the south-west by the Dwina. On the north they reached
to the wild wastes of arctic snows. Over these distant provinces,
Rurik established governors selected from his own nation, the Normans.
These provincial governors became feudal lords; and thus, with the
monarchy, the feudal system was implanted.

Feudality was the natural first step of a people emerging from
barbarism. The sovereign rewarded his favorites, or compensated his
servants, civil and military, by ceding to them provinces of greater
or less extent, with unlimited authority over the people subject to
their control. These lords acknowledged fealty to the sovereign, paid
a stipulated amount of tribute, and, in case of war, were bound to
enter the field with a given number of men in defense of the crown. It
was a system essential, perhaps, to those barbarous times when there
was no easy communication between distant regions, no codes of laws,
and no authority, before which savage men would bow, but that of the

At this time two young Norman nobles, inspired with that love of war
and spirit of adventure which characterized their countrymen, left the
court of Rurik at Novgorod, where they had been making a visit, and
with well-armed retainers, commenced a journey to Constantinople to
offer their services to the emperor. It was twelve hundred miles,
directly south, from Novgorod to the imperial city. The adventurers
had advanced about half way, when they arrived at a little village,
called Kief, upon the banks of the Dnieper. The location of the city
was so beautiful, upon a commanding bluff, at the head of the
navigation of this majestic stream, and the region around seemed so
attractive, that the Norman adventurers, Ascolod and Dir by name,
decided to remain there. They were soon joined by others of their
warlike countrymen. The natives appear to have made no opposition to
their rule, and thus Kief became the center of a new and independent
Russian kingdom. These energetic men rapidly extended their
territories, raised a large army, which was thoroughly drilled in all
the science of Norman warfare, and then audaciously declared war
against Greece and attempted its subjugation. The Dnieper, navigable
for boats most of the distance from Kief to the Euxine, favored their
enterprise. They launched upon the stream two hundred barges, which
they filled with their choicest troops. Rapidly they floated down the
stream, spread their sails upon the bosom of the Euxine, entered the
Bosporus, and anchoring their fleet at the mouth of the Golden Horn,
laid siege to the city. The Emperor Michael III. then reigned at
Constantinople. This Northmen invasion was entirely unexpected, and
the emperor was absent, engaged in war with the Arabs. A courier was
immediately dispatched to inform him of the peril of the city. He
hastily returned to his capital which he finally reached, after
eluding, with much difficulty, the vigilance of the besiegers. Just as
the inhabitants of the city were yielding to despair, there arose a
tempest, which swept the Bosporus with resistless fury. The crowded
barges were dashed against each other, shattered, wrecked and sunk.
The Christians of Constantinople justly attributed their salvation to
the interposition of God. Ascolod and Dir, with the wrecks of their
army, returned in chagrin to Kief.

The historians of that period relate that the idolatrous Russians were
so terrified by this display of the divine displeasure that they
immediately sent embassadors to Constantinople, professing their
readiness to embrace Christianity, and asking that they might receive
the rite of baptism. In attestation of the fact that Christianity at
this period entered Russia, we are referred to a well authenticated
letter, of the patriarch Photius, written at the close of the year

"The Russians," he says, "so celebrated for their cruelty, conquerors
of their neighbors, and who, in their pride, dared to attack the Roman
empire, have already renounced their superstitions, and have embraced
the religion of Jesus Christ. Lately our most formidable enemies, they
have now become our most faithful friends. We have recently sent them
a bishop and a priest, and they testify the greatest zeal for

It was in this way, it seems, that the religion of our Saviour first
entered barbaric Russia. The gospel, thus welcomed, soon became firmly
established at Kief, and rapidly extended its conquests in all
directions. The two Russian kingdoms, that of Rurik in the north, and
that of Ascolod and Dir on the Dnieper, rapidly extended as these
enterprising kings, by arms, subjected adjacent nations to their sway.
Rurik remained upon the throne fifteen years, and then died,
surrendering his crown to his son Igor, still a child. A relative,
Oleg, was intrusted with the regency, during the minority of the boy
king. Such was the state of Russia in the year 879.

In that dark and cruel age, war was apparently the only thought,
military conquest the only glory. The regent, Oleg, taking with him
the young prince Igor, immediately set out with a large army on a
career of conquest. Marching directly south some hundred miles, and
taking possession of all the country by the way, he arrived at last at
the head waters of the Dnieper. The renown of the kingdom of Ascolod
and Dir had reached his ears; and aware of their military skill and
that the ranks of their army were filled with Norman warriors, Oleg
decided to seize the two sovereigns by stratagem. As he cautiously
approached Kief, he left his army in a secluded encampment, and with a
few chosen troops floated down the stream in barges, disguised as
merchant boats. Landing in the night beneath the high and precipitous
banks near the town, he placed a number of his soldiers in ambuscade,
and then calling upon the princes of Kief, informed them that he had
been sent by the king of Novgorod, with a commercial adventure down
the Dnieper, and invited them to visit his barges.

The two sovereigns, suspecting no guile, hastened to the banks of the
river. Suddenly the men in ambush rose, and piercing them with arrows
and javelins, they both fell dead at the feet of Oleg. The two victims
of this perfidy were immediately buried upon the spot where they fell.
In commemoration of this atrocity, the church of St. Nicholas has been
erected near the place, and even to the present day the inhabitants of
Kief conduct the traveler to the tomb of Ascolod and Dir. Oleg, now
marshaling his army, marched triumphantly into the town, and, without
experiencing any formidable opposition, annexed the conquered realm to
the northern kingdom.

Oleg was charmed with his conquest. The beautiful site of the town,
the broad expanse of the river, the facilities which the stream
presented for maritime and military adventures so delighted him that
he exclaimed,

"Let Kief be the mother of all the Russian cities."

Oleg established his army in cantonments, strengthened it with fresh
recruits, commenced predatory excursions on every side, and soon
brought the whole region, for many leagues around, under his
subjection. All the subjugated nations were compelled to pay him
tribute, though, with the sagacity which marked his whole course, he
made the tax so light as not to be burdensome. The territories of Oleg
were now vast, widely scattered, and with but the frailest bond of
union between them. Between the two capitals of Novgorod and Kief,
which were separated by a distance of seven or eight hundred miles,
there were many powerful tribes still claiming independence.

Oleg directed his energies against them, and his march of conquest
was resistless. In the course of two years he established his
undisputed sway over the whole region, and thus opened unobstructed
communication between his northern and southern provinces. He
established a chain of military posts along the line, and placed his
renowned warriors in feudal authority over numerous provinces. Each
lord, in his castle, was supreme in authority over the vassals subject
to his sway. Life and death were in his hands. The fealty he owed his
sovereign was paid in a small tribute, and in military service with an
appointed number of soldiers whom he led into the field and supported.

Having thus secured safety in the north, Oleg turned his attention to
the south. With a well-disciplined army, he marched down the left bank
of the river, sweeping the country for an hundred miles in width,
everywhere planting his banners and establishing his simple and
effective government of baronial lords. It was easy to weaken any
formidable or suspected tribe, by the slaughter of the warriors. There
were two safeguards against insurrection. The burdens imposed upon the
vassals were so light as to induce no murmurings; and all the feudal
lords were united to sustain each other. The first movement towards
rebellion was drowned in blood.

Igor, the legitimate sovereign, had now attained his majority; but,
accustomed as he had long been, to entire obedience, he did not dare
to claim the crown from a regent flushed with the brilliancy of his
achievements, who had all power in his hands, and who, by a nod, could
remove him for ever out of his way.

Igor was one day engaged in the chase, when at the door of a cottage,
in a small village near Kief, he saw a young peasant girl, of
marvelous grace and beauty. She was a Norman girl of humble parentage.
Young Igor, inflamed by her beauty, immediately rode to the door and
addressed her. Her voice was melody, her smile ravishing, and in her
replies to his questionings, she developed pride of character,
quickness of intelligence and invincible modesty, which charmed him
and instantly won his most passionate admiration. The young prince
rode home sorely wounded. Cupid had shot one of his most fiery arrows
into the very center of his heart. Though many high-born ladies had
been urged upon Igor, he renounced them all, and allowing beauty to
triumph over birth, honorably demanded and received the hand of the
lowly-born yet princely-minded and lovely Olga. They were married at
Kief in the year 903.

The revolution at Kief had not interrupted the friendly relations
existing between Kief and Constantinople. The Christians of the
imperial city made great efforts, by sending missionaries to Kief, to
multiply the number of Christians there. Oleg, though a pagan, granted
free toleration to Christianity, and reciprocated the presents and
friendly messages he received from the emperor. But at length Oleg,
having consolidated his realms, and ambitions of still greater renown,
wealth and power, resolved boldly to declare war against the empire
itself, and to march upon Constantinople. The warriors from a hundred
tribes, each under their feudal lord, were ranged around his banners.
For miles along the banks of the Dnieper at Kief, the river was
covered with barges, two thousand in number. An immense body of
cavalry accompanied the expedition, following along the shore.

The navigation of the river, which poured its flood through a channel
nearly a thousand miles in length from Kief to the Euxine, was
difficult and perilous. It required the blind, unthinking courage of
semi-barbarians to undertake such an enterprise. There were many
cataracts, down which the flotilla would be swept over foaming billows
and amidst jagged rocks. In many places the stream was quite
impassable by boats, and it was necessary to take all the barges, with
their contents, on shore, and drag them for miles through the forest,
again to launch them upon smoother water; and all this time they were
exposed to attacks from numerous and ferocious foes. Having arrived at
the mouth of the Dnieper, they had still six or eight hundred miles of
navigation over the waves of that storm-swept sea. And then, at the
close, they had to encounter, in deadly fight, all the power of the
Roman empire. But unintimidated by these perils, Oleg, leaving Igor
with his bride at Kief, launched his boats upon the current, and
commenced his desperate enterprise.



From 910 to 973.

Expedition to Constantinople.--Treaty with the Emperor.--Last Days of
Oleg.--His Death.--Igor Assumes the Scepter.--His Expedition to the
Don.--Descent upon Constantinople.--His Defeat.--Second
Expedition.--Pusillanimity of the Greeks.--Death of Igor.--Regency of
Olga.--Her Character.--Succession of Sviatoslaf.--His Impiety and
Ambition.--Conquest of Bulgaria.--Division of the Empire.--Defeat,
Ruin and Death of Sviatoslaf.--Civil War.--Death of Oleg.--Flight of
Vlademer.--Supremacy of Yaropolk.

The fleet of Oleg successfully accomplished the navigation of the
Dnieper, followed by the horse along the shores. Each barge carried
forty warriors. Entering the Black Sea, they spread their sails and
ran along the western coast to the mouth of the Bosporus. The enormous
armament approaching the imperial city of Constantine by sea and by
land, completely invested it. The superstitious Leon, surnamed the
Philosopher, sat then upon the throne. He was a feeble man engrossed
with the follies of astrology, and without making preparations for any
vigorous defense, he contented himself with stretching a chain across
the Golden Horn to prevent the hostile fleet from entering the harbor.
The cavalry of Oleg, encountering no serious opposition, burnt and
plundered all the neighboring regions. The beautiful villas of the
wealthy Greeks, their churches and villages all alike fell a prey to
the flames. Every species of cruelty and barbarity was practiced by
the ruthless invaders.

The effeminate Greeks from the walls of the city gazed upon this sweep
of desolation, but ventured not to march from behind their ramparts
to assail the foe. Oleg draw his barges upon the shore and dragged
them on wheels towards the city, that he might from them construct
instruments and engines for scaling the walls. The Greeks were so
terrified at this spectacle of energy, that they sent an embassage to
Oleg, imploring peace, and offering to pay tribute. To conciliate the
invader they sent him large presents of food and wine. Oleg,
apprehensive that the viands were poisoned, refused to accept them. He
however demanded enormous tribute of the emperor, to which terms the
Greeks consented, on condition that Oleg would cease hostilities, and
return peaceably to his country. Upon this basis of a treaty, the
Russian array retired to some distance from the city, and Oleg sent
four commissioners to arrange with the emperor the details of peace.
The humiliating treaty exacted was as follows:

=I.= The Greeks engage to give twelve _grivnas_ to each man of the
Russian army, and the same sum to each of the warriors in the cities
governed by the dependent princes of Oleg.

=II.= The embassadors, sent by Russia to Constantinople, shall have
all their expenses defrayed by the emperor. And, moreover, the emperor
engages to give to every Russian merchant in Greece, bread, wine,
meat, fish and fruits, for the space of six months; to grant him free
access to the public baths, and to furnish him, on his return to his
country, with food, anchors, sails, and, in a word, with every thing
he needs.

On the other hand the Greeks propose that the Russians, who visit
Constantinople for any other purposes than those of commerce, shall
not be entitled to this supply of their tables. The Russian prince
shall forbid his embassadors from giving any offense to the
inhabitants of the Grecian cities or provinces. The quarter of Saint
Meme shall be especially appropriated to the Russians, who, upon their
arrival, shall give information to the city council. Their names shall
be inscribed, and there shall be paid to them every month the sums
necessary for their support, no matter from what part of Russia they
may have come. A particular gate shall be designated by which they may
enter the city, accompanied by an imperial commissary. They shall
enter without arms, and never more than fifty at a time; and they
shall be permitted, freely, to engage in trade in Constantinople
without the payment of any tax.

This treaty, by which the emperor placed his neck beneath the feet of
Oleg, was ratified by the most imposing ceremonies of religion. The
emperor took the oath upon the evangelists. Oleg swore by his sword
and the gods of Russia. In token of his triumph Oleg proudly raised
his shield, as a banner, over the battlements of Constantinople, and
returned, laden with riches, to Kief, where he was received with the
most extravagant demonstrations of adulation and joy.

The treaty thus made with the emperor, and which is preserved in full
in the Russian annals, shows that the Russians were no longer savages,
but that they had so far emerged from that gloomy state as to be able
to appreciate the sacredness of law, the claims of honor and the
authority of treaties. It is observable that no signatures are
attached to this treaty but those of the Norman princes, which
indicates that the original Sclavonic race were in subjection as the
vassals of the Normans. Oleg appears to have placed in posts of
authority only his own countrymen.

Oleg now, as old age was advancing, passed many years in quietude.
Surrounded by an invincible army, and with renown which pervaded the
most distant regions, no tribes ventured to disturb his repose. His
distance from southern Europe protected him from annoyance from the
powerful nations which were forming there. His latter years seem to
have been devoted to the arts of peace, for he secured to an unusual
degree the love, as well as the admiration, of his subjects. Ancient
annalists record that all Russia moaned and wept when he died. He is
regarded, as more prominently than any other man, the founder of the
Russian empire. He united, though by treachery and blood, the northern
and southern kingdoms under one monarch. He then, by conquest,
extended his empire over vast realms of barbarians, bringing them all
under the simple yet effective government of feudal lords. He
consolidated this empire, and by sagacious measures, encouraging arts
and commerce, he led his barbarous people onward in the paths of
civilization. He gave Russia a name and renown, so that it assumed a
position among the nations of the globe, notwithstanding its remote
position amidst the wilds of the North. His usurpation, history can
not condemn. In those days any man had the right to govern who had the
genius of command. Genius was the only legitimacy. But he was an
assassin, and can never be washed clean from that crime. He died after
a reign of thirty-three years, and was buried, with all the displays
of pomp which that dark age could furnish, upon one of the mountains
in the vicinity of Kief, which mountain for many generations was
called the Tomb of Oleg.

Igor now assumed the reins of government. He had lived in Kief a
quiet, almost an effeminate life, with his beautiful bride Olga. A
very powerful tribe, the Drevolians, which had been rather restive,
even under the rigorous sway of Oleg, thought this a favorable
opportunity to regain their independence. They raised the standard of
revolt. Igor crushed the insurrection with energy which astonished all
who knew him, and which spread his fame far and wide through all the
wilds of Russia, as a monarch thoroughly capable of maintaining his

Far away in unknown realms, beyond the eastern boundary of Russia,
where the gloomy waves of the Irtish, the Tobol, the Oural and the
Volga flow through vast deserts, washing the base of fir-clad
mountains, and murmuring through wildernesses, the native domain of
wolves and bears, there were wandering innumerable tribes, fierce,
cruel and barbarous, who held the frontiers of Russia in continual
terror. They were called by the general name of Petchénègues. Igor was
compelled to be constantly on the alert to defend his vast frontier
from the irruptions of these merciless savages. This incessant warfare
led to the organization of a very efficient military power, but there
was no glory to be acquired in merely driving back to their dens these
wild assailants. Weary of the conflict, he at last consented to
purchase a peace with them; and then, seeking the military renown
which Oleg had so signally acquired, he resolved to imitate his
example and make a descent upon Constantinople. The annals of those
days, which seem to be credible, state that he floated down the
Dnieper with ten thousand barges, and spread his sails upon the waves
of the Euxine. Entering the Bosporus, he landed on both shores of that
beautiful strait, and, with the most wanton barbarity, ravaged the
country far and near, massacring the inhabitants, pillaging the towns
and committing all the buildings to the flames.

There chanced to be at Constantinople, a very energetic Roman general,
who was dispatched against them with a Greek fleet and a numerous land
force. The Greeks in civilization were far in advance of the Russians.
The land force drove the Russians to their boats, and then the Grecian
fleet bore down upon them. A new instrument of destruction had been
invented, the terrible Greek fire. Attached to arrows and javelins,
and in great balls glowing with intensity of flame which water would
not quench, it was thrown into the boats of the Russians, enkindling
conflagration and exciting terror indescribable. It seemed to the
superstitious followers of Igor, that they were assailed by foes
hurling the lightnings of Jove. In this fierce conflict Igor, having
lost a large number of barges, and many of his men, drew off his
remaining forces in disorder, and they slowly returned to their
country in disgrace, emaciate and starving. Many of the Russians taken
captive by the Greeks were put to death with the most horrible

Igor, exasperated rather than intimidated by this terrible disaster,
resolved upon another expedition, that he might recover his lost
renown by inflicting the most terrible vengeance upon the Greeks. He
spent two years in making preparations for the enterprise; called to
his aid warriors from the most distant tribes of the empire, and
purchased the alliance of the Petchénègues. With an immense array of
barges, which for leagues covered the surface of the Dnieper, and with
an immense squadron of cavalry following along the banks, he commenced
the descent of the river. The emperor was informed that the whole
river was filled with barges, descending for the siege and sack of
Constantinople. In terror he sent embassadors to Igor to endeavor to
avert the storm.

The imperial embassadors met the flotilla near the mouth of the
Dnieper, and offered, in the name of the emperor, to pay the same
tribute to Igor which had been paid to Oleg, and even to increase that
tribute. At the same time they endeavored to disarm the cupidity of
the foe by the most magnificent presents. Igor halted his troops, and
collecting his chieftains in counsel, communicated to them the message
of the emperor. They replied,

"If the emperor will give us the treasure we demand, without our
exposing ourselves to the perils of battle, what more can we ask? Who
can tell on which side will be the victory?"

Thus influenced, Igor consented to a treaty. The opening words of this
curious treaty are worthy of being recorded. They were as follows:

"We, the embassadors of Igor, solemnly declare that this treaty shall
continue so long as the sun shall shine, in defiance of the
machinations of that evil spirit who is the enemy of peace and the
fomenter of discord. The Russians promise never to break this alliance
with the horde; those who have been baptized, under penalty of
temporal and eternal punishment from God; others, under the penalty of
being for ever deprived of the protection of Péroune;[1] of never
being able to protect themselves with their shields; of being doomed
to lacerate themselves with their own swords, arrows and other arms,
and of being slaves in this world and that which is to come."

[Footnote 1: One of the Gods of the Russians.]

This important treaty consisted of fourteen articles, drawn up with
great precision, and in fact making the Greek emperor as it were but a
vassal of the Russian monarch. One of the articles of the treaty is
quite illustrative of the times. It reads,

"If a Christian kills a Russian, or if a Russian kills a Christian,
the friends of the dead have a right to seize the murderer and kill

This treaty was concluded at Constantinople, between the emperor and
the embassadors of Igor. Imperial embassadors were sent with the
written treaty to Kief. Igor, with imposing ceremonies, ascended the
sacred hill where was erected the Russian idol of Péroune, and with
his chieftains took a solemn oath of friendship to the emperor, and
then as a gage of their sincerity deposited at the feet of the idol
their arms and shields of gold. The Christian nobles repaired to the
cathedral of St. Elias, the most ancient church of Kief, and there
took the same oath at the altar of the Christian's God. The renowned
Russian historian, Nestor, who was a monk in the monastery at Kief,
records that at that time there were numerous Christians in Kief.

Igor sent the imperial embassadors back to Constantinople laden with
rich presents. Elated by wealth and success, the Russian king began to
impose heavier burdens of taxation upon subjugated nations. The
Drevliens resisted. With an insufficient force Igor entered their
territories. The Drevliens, with the fury of desperation, fell upon
him and he was slain, and his soldiers put to rout. During his reign
he held together the vast empire Oleg had placed in his hands, though
he had not been able to extend the boundaries of his country. It is
worthy of notice, and of the highest praise, that Igor, though a
pagan, imitating the example of Oleg, permitted perfect toleration
throughout his realms. The gospel of Christ was freely preached, and
the Christians enjoyed entire freedom of faith and worship. His reign
continued thirty-two years.

Sviatoslaf, the son of Igor, at the time of his father's unhappy death
was in his minority. The empire was then in great peril. The
Drevliens, one of the most numerous and warlike tribes, were in open
and successful revolt. The army accustomed to activity, and now in
idleness, was very restive. The old Norman generals, ambitious and
haughty, were disposed to pay but little respect to the claims of a
prince who was yet in his boyhood. But Providence had provided for
this exigence. Olga, the mother of Sviatoslaf, assumed the regency,
and developed traits of character which place her in the ranks of the
most extraordinary and noble of women. Calling to her aid two of the
most influential of the nobles, one of whom was the tutor of her son
and the other commander-in-chief of the army, she took the helm of
state, and developed powers of wisdom and energy which have rarely
been equaled and perhaps never surpassed.

She immediately sent an army into the country of the Drevliens, and
punished with terrible severity the murderers of her husband. The
powerful tribe was soon brought again into subjection to the Russian
crown. As a sort of defiant parade of her power, and to overawe the
turbulent Drevliens, she traversed their whole country, with her son,
accompanied by a very imposing retinue of her best warriors. Having
thus brought them to subjection, she instituted over them a just and
benevolent system of government, that they might have no occasion
again to rise in revolt. They soon became so warmly attached to her
that they ever were foremost in support of her power.

One year had not passed ere Olga was seated as firmly upon the throne
as Oleg or Igor had ever been. She then, leaving her son Sviatoslaf at
Kief, set out on a tour through her northern provinces. Everywhere, by
her wise measures and her deep interest in the welfare of her
subjects, she won admiration and love. The annals of those times are
full of her praises. The impression produced by this visit was not
effaced from the popular mind for five hundred years, being handed
down from father to son. The sledge in which she traveled was for many
generations preserved as a sacred relic.

She returned to Kief, and there resided with her son, for many years,
in peace and happiness. The whole empire was tranquil, and in the
lowly cabins of the Russians there was plenty, and no sounds of war or
violence disturbed the quiet of their lives. This seems to have been
one of the most serene and pleasant periods of Russian history. This
noble woman was born a pagan. But the gospel of Christ was preached in
the churches of Kief, and she heard it and was deeply impressed with
its sublimity and beauty. Her life was drawing to a close. The
grandeur of empire she was soon to lay aside for the darkness and the
silence of the tomb. These thoughts oppressed her mind, which was, by
nature, elevated, sensitive and refined. She sent for the Christian
pastors and conversed with them about the immortality of the soul, and
salvation through faith in the atonement of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. The good seed of Christian truth fell into good soil.
Cordially she embraced the gospel.

That her renunciation of paganism, and her confession of the Saviour
might be more impressive, she decided to go to Constantinople to be
baptized by the venerable Christian patriarch, who resided there. The
Christian emperor, Constantine Porphyrogenete, informed of her
approach, prepared to receive her with all the pomp worthy of so
illustrious a princess of so powerful a people. He has himself left a
record of these most interesting ceremonies. Olga approached the
imperial palace, with a very splendid suite composed of nobles of her
court, of ladies of distinction, and of the Russian embassadors and
merchants residing at Constantinople. The emperor, with a
corresponding suite of splendor, met the Russian queen at a short
distance from the palace, and conducted her, with her retinue, to the
apartments arranged for their entertainment. It was the 9th of
September, 955. In the great banqueting hall of the palace there was a
magnificent feast prepared. The guests were regaled with richest
music. After such an entertainment as even the opulence of the East
had seldom furnished, there was an exchange of presents. The emperor
and the queen strove to outvie each other in the richness and elegance
of their gifts. Every individual in the two retinues, received
presents of great value.

The queen at her baptism received the Christian name of Helen. We do
not find any record of the ceremonies performed at her baptism. It is
simply stated that the emperor himself stood as her sponsor. Olga, as
she returned to Kief, with her baptismal vows upon her, and in the
freshness of her Christian hopes, manifested great solicitude for her
son, who still continued a pagan. But Sviatoslaf was a wild,
pleasure-seeking young man, who turned a deaf ear to all his mother's
counsels. The unbridled license which paganism granted, was much more
congenial to his unrenewed heart than the salutary restraints of the
gospel of Christ. The human heart was then and there, as now and here.
The Russian historian Karamsin says,

"In vain this pious mother spoke to her son of the happiness of being
a Christian; of the peaceful spirit he would find in the worship of
the true God. 'How can I,' replied Sviatoslaf, 'make a profession of
this new religion, which will expose me to the ridicule of all my
companions in arms?' In vain Olga urged upon him that his example
might induce others to embrace the gospel of Christ. The young prince
was inflexible. He made no effort to prevent others from becoming
Christians, but did not disguise his contempt for the Christian faith,
and so persistently rejected all the exhortations of his mother, whom
he still tenderly loved, that she was at last forced to silence, and
could only pray, in sadness, that God would open the eyes and touch
the heart of her child."

The young prince having attained his majority in the year 964, assumed
the crown. His soul was fired with the ambition of signalizing himself
by great military exploits. The blood of Igor, of Oleg and of Rurik
coursed through his veins, and he resolved to lead the Russian arms to
victories which should eclipse all their exploits. He gathered an
immense army, and looked eagerly around to find some arena worthy of
the display of his genius.

His character was an extraordinary one, combining all the virtues of
ancient chivalry; virtues which guided by Christian faith, constitute
the noblest men, but which without piety constitute a man the scourge
of his race. _Fame_ was the God of Sviatoslaf. To acquire the
reputation of a great warrior, he was willing to whelm provinces in
blood. But he was too magnanimous to take any mean advantage of their
weakness. He would give them fair warning, that no blow should be
struck, assassin-like, stealthily and in the dark.

He accustomed his body, Spartan-like, to all the fatigues and
exposures of war. He indulged in no luxury of tents or carriages, and
ate the flesh of horses and wild beasts, which he roasted himself,
over the coals. In his campaigns the ground was his bed, the sky his
curtain, his horse blanket his covering, and the saddle his pillow;
and he seemed equally regardless of both heat and cold. His soldiers
looked to him as their model and emulated his hardihood. Turning his
attention first to the vast and almost unknown realms spreading out
towards the East, he sent word to the tribes on the Don and the
Volga, that he was coming to fight them. As soon as they had time to
prepare for their defense he followed his word. Here was chivalric
crime and chivalric magnanimity. Marching nine hundred miles directly
east from Kief, over the Russian plains, he came to the banks of the
Don. The region was inhabited by a very powerful nation called the
Khozars. They were arrayed under their sovereign, on the banks of the
river to meet the foe. The Khozars had even sent for Greek engineers
to aid them in throwing up their fortifications; and they were in an
intrenched camp constructed with much military skill. A bloody battle
ensued, in which thousands were slain. But Sviatoslaf was victor, and
the territory was annexed to Russia, and Russian nobles were placed in
feudal possession of its provinces. The conqueror then followed down
the Don to the Sea of Azof, fighting sanguinary battles all the way,
but everywhere victorious. The terror of his arms inspired wide-spread
consternation, and many tribes, throwing aside their weapons, bowed
the neck to the Russian king, and implored his clemency.

Sviatoslaf returned to Kief with waving banners, exulting in his
renown. He was stimulated, not satiated, by this success; and now
planned another expedition still more perilous and grand. On the south
of the Danube, near its mouth, was Bulgaria, a vast realm, populous
and powerful, which had long bid defiance to all the forces of the
Roman empire. The conquest of Bulgaria was an achievement worthy of
the chivalry even of Sviatoslaf. With an immense fleet of barges,
containing sixty thousand men, he descended the Dnieper to the Euxine.
Coasting along the western shore his fleet entered the mouth of the
Danube. The Bulgarians fought like heroes to repel the invaders. All
their efforts were in vain. The Russians sprang from their barges on
the shore, and, protected by their immense bucklers, sword in hand,
routed the Bulgarians with great slaughter. Cities and villages
rapidly submitted to the conqueror. The king of Bulgaria in his
despair rushed upon death. Sviatoslaf, laden with the spoils of the
vanquished and crowned with the laurels of victory, surrendered
himself to rejoicing and to all the pleasures of voluptuous

From these dissipations Sviatoslaf was suddenly recalled by the
tidings that his own capital was in danger; that a neighboring tribe,
of great military power, taking advantage of his absence with his
army, had invested Kief and were hourly expected to take it by
assault. In dismay he hastened his return, and found, to his
inexpressible relief, that the besiegers had been routed by the
stratagem and valor of a Russian general, and that the city and its
inhabitants were thus rescued from destruction.

But the Russian king, having tasted the pleasures of a more sunny
clime, and having rioted in the excitements of sensual indulgence,
soon became weary of tranquil life in Kief. He was also anxious to
escape from the reproof which he always felt from the pious life of
his mother. He therefore resolved to return to his conquered kingdom
of Bulgaria. He said to his mother:

"I had rather live in Bulgaria than at Kief. Bulgaria is the center of
wealth, nature and art. The Greeks send there gold and cloths; the
Hungarians silver and horses; the Russians furs, wax, honey and

"Wait, my son, at least till after my death," exclaimed Olga. "I am
aged and infirm, and very soon shall be conveyed to my tomb."

This interview hastened the death of Olga. In four days she slept in
Jesus. She earnestly entreated her son not to admit of any pagan rites
at her funeral. She pointed out the place of her burial, and was
interred with Christian prayers, accompanied by the lamentations and
tears of all the people. Sviatoslaf, in his foreign wars, which his
mother greatly disapproved, had left with her the administration of
internal affairs. Nestor speaks of this pious princess in beautiful
phrase as _the morning star of salvation for Russia_.

Sviatoslaf, having committed his mother to the tomb, made immediate
preparations to transfer his capital from Kief to the more genial
clime of Bulgaria. Had he been influenced by statesmanlike
considerations it would have been an admirable move. The climate was
far preferable to that of Kief, the soil more fertile, and the
openings for commerce, through the Danube and the Euxine, immeasurably
superior. But Sviatoslaf thought mainly of pleasure.

It was now the year 970. Sviatoslaf had three sons, whom he
established, though all in their minority, in administration of
affairs in the realms from which he was departing. Yaropolk received
the government of Kief. His second son, Oleg, was placed over the
powerful nation of Drevliens. A third son, Vlademer, the child of
dishonor, not born in wedlock, was intrusted with the command at
Novgorod. Having thus arranged these affairs, Sviatoslaf, with a
well-appointed army, eagerly set out for his conquered province of
Bulgaria. But in the meantime the Bulgarians had organized a strong
force to resist the invader. The Russians conquered in a bloody
battle, and, by storm, retook Pérégeslavetz, the beautiful capital of
Bulgaria, where Sviatoslaf established his throne.

The Greeks at Constantinople were alarmed by this near approach of the
ever-encroaching and warlike Russians, and trembled lest they should
next fall a prey to the rapacity of Sviatoslaf. The emperor, Jean
Zimisces, immediately entered into an alliance with the Bulgarians,
offering his daughter in marriage to Boris, son of their former king.
A bloody war ensued. The Greeks and Bulgarians were victors, and
Sviatoslaf, almost gnashing his teeth with rage, was driven back again
to the cold regions of the North. The Greek historians give the
following description of the personal appearance of Sviatoslaf. He was
of medium height and well formed. His physiognomy was severe and
stern. His breast was broad, his neck thick, his eyes blue, with
heavy eyebrows. He had a broad nose, heavy moustaches, but a slight
beard. The large mass of hair which covered his head indicated his
nobility. From one of his ears there was suspended a ring of gold,
decorated with two pearls and a ruby.

As Sviatoslaf, with his shattered army, ascended the Dnieper in their
boats, the Petchénègues, fierce tribes of barbarians, whom Sviatoslaf
had subdued, rose in revolt against him. They gathered, in immense
numbers, at one of the cataracts of the Dnieper, where it would be
necessary for the Russians to transport their boats for some distance
by land. They hoped to cut off his retreat and thus secure the entire
destruction of their formidable foe. The situation of Sviatoslaf was
now desperate. Nothing remained for him but death. With the
abandonment of despair he rushed into the thickest of the foe, and
soon fell a mangled corpse. How much more happy would have been his
life, how much more happy his death, had he followed the counsels of
his pious mother. Kouria, chief of the Petchénègues, cut off the head
of Sviatoslaf, and ever after used his skull for a drinking cup. The
annalist Strikofski, states that he had engraved upon the skull the
words, "In seeking the destruction of others you met with your own."

A few fugitives from the army of Sviatoslaf succeeded in reaching
Kief, where they communicated the tidings of the death of the king.
The empire now found itself divided into three portions, each with its
sovereign. Yaropolk was supreme at Kief. Oleg reigned in the spacious
country of the Drevliens. Vladimir was established at Novgorod. No one
of these princes was disposed to yield the supremacy to either of the
others. They were soon in arms. Yaropolk marched against his brother
Oleg. The two armies met about one hundred and fifty miles north-west
of Kief, near the present town of Obroutch. Oleg and his force were
utterly routed. As the whole army, in confusion and dismay, were in
pell-mell flight, hotly pursued, the horse of Oleg fell. Nothing
could resist, even, for an instant, the onswelling flood. He was
trampled into the mire, beneath the iron hoofs of squadrons of horse
and the tramp of thousands of mailed men. After the battle, his body
was found, so mutilated that it was with difficulty recognized. As it
was spread upon a mat before the eyes of Yaropolk, he wept bitterly,
and caused the remains to be interred with funeral honors. The
monument raised to his memory has long since perished; but even to the
present day the inhabitants of Obroutch point out the spot where Oleg

Vladimir, prince of Novgorod, terrified by the fate of his brother
Oleg, and apprehensive that a similar doom awaited him, sought safety
in flight. Forsaking his realm he retired to the Baltic, and took
refuge with the powerful Normans from whom his ancestors had come.
Yaropolk immediately dispatched lieutenants to take possession of the
government, and thus all Russia, as a united kingdom, was again
brought under the sway of a single sovereign.



From 973 to 1092.

Flight of Vlademer.--His Stolen Bride.--The March Upon
Kief.--Debauchery of Valdemar.--Zealous Paganism.--Introduction of
Christianity.--Baptism in the Dnieper.--Entire Change in the Character
of Valdemar.--His Great Reforms.--His Death.--Usurpation of Sviatopolk
the Miserable.--Accession of Yaroslaf.--His Administration And
Death.--Accession of Ysiaslaf.--His Strange Reverses.--His
Death.--Vsevolod Ascends the Throne.--His Two Flights to
Poland.--Appeals to the Pope.--Wars, Famine And Pestilence.--Character
of Vsevolod.

Though Vlademer had fled from Russia, it was by no means with the
intention of making a peaceful surrender of his realms to his
ambitious brother. For two years he was incessantly employed, upon the
shores of the Baltic, the home of his ancestors, in gathering
adventurers around his flag, to march upon Novgorod, and chase from
thence the lieutenants of Yaropolk. He at length, at the head of a
strong army, triumphantly entered the city. Half way between Novgorod
and Kief, was the city and province of Polotsk. The governor was a
Norman named Rovgolod. His beautiful daughter Rogneda was affianced to
Yaropolk, and they were soon to be married. Vlademer sent embassadors
to Rovgolod soliciting an alliance, and asking for the hand of his

The proud princess, faithful to Yaropolk, returned the stinging reply,
that _she would never marry the son of a slave_. We have before
mentioned that the mother of Vlademer was not the wife of his father.
She was one of the maids of honor of Olga. This insult roused the
indignation of Vlademer to the highest pitch. Burning with rage he
marched suddenly upon Polotsk, took the city by storm, killed Rovgolod
and his two sons and compelled Rogneda, his captive, to marry him,
paying but little attention to the marriage ceremony. Having thus
satiated his vengeance, he marched upon Kief, with a numerous army,
composed of chosen warriors from various tribes. Yaropolk, alarmed at
the strength with which his brother was approaching, did not dare to
give him battle, but accumulated all his force behind the ramparts of
Kief. The city soon fell into the hands of Vlademer, and Yaropolk,
basely betrayed by one of his generals, was assassinated by two
officers of Vlademer, acting under his authority.

Vlademer was now in possession of the sovereign power, and he
displayed as much energy in the administration of affairs as he had
shown in the acquisition of the crown. He immediately imposed a heavy
tax upon the Russians, to raise money to pay his troops. Having
consolidated his power he became a very zealous supporter of the old
pagan worship, rearing several new idols upon the sacred hill, and
placing in his palace a silver statue of Péroune. His soul seems to
have been harrowed by the consciousness of crime, and he sought, by
the cruel rites of a debasing superstition, to appease the wrath of
the Gods.

Still remorse did not prevent him from plunging into the most
revolting excesses of debauchery. The chronicles of those times state
that he had three hundred concubines in one of his palaces, three
hundred in another at Kief, and two hundred at one of his country
seats. It is by no means certain that these are exaggerations, for
every beautiful maiden in the empire was sought out, to be transferred
to his harems. Paganism had no word of remonstrance to utter against
such excesses. But Vlademer, devoted as he was to sensual indulgence,
was equally fond of war. His armies were ever on the move, and the cry
of battle was never intermitted. On the south-east he extended his
conquests to the Carpathian mountains, where they skirt the plains of
Hungary. In the north-west he extended his sway, by all the energies
of fire and blood, even to the shores of the Baltic, and to the Gulf
of Finland.

Elated beyond measure by his victories, he attributed his success to
the favor of his idol gods, and resolved to express his homage by
offerings of human blood. He collected a number of handsome boys and
beautiful girls, and drew lots to see which of them should be offered
in sacrifice. The lot fell upon a fine boy from one of the Christian
families. The frantic father interposed to save his child. But the
agents of Vlademer fell fiercely upon them, and they both were slain
and offered in sacrifice. Their names, Ivan and Theodore, are still
preserved in the Russian church as the first Christian martyrs of

A few more years of violence and crime passed away, when Vlademer
became the subject of that marvelous change which, nine hundred years
before, had converted the persecuting Saul into the devoted apostle.
The circumstances of his conversion are very peculiar, and are very
minutely related by Nestor. Other recitals seem to give authenticity
to the narrative. For some time Vlademer had evidently been in much
anxiety respecting the doom which awaited him beyond the grave. He
sent for the teachers of the different systems of religion, to explain
to him the peculiarities of their faith. First came the Mohammedans
from Bulgaria; then the Jews from Jerusalem; then the Christians from
the papal church at Rome, and then Christians from the Greek church at
Constantinople. The Mohammedans and the Jews he rejected promptly, but
was undecided respecting the claims of Rome and Constantinople. He
then selected ten of the wisest men in his kingdom and sent them to
visit Rome and Constantinople and report in which country divine
worship was conducted in the manner most worthy of the Supreme Being.
The embassadors returning to Kief, reported warmly in favor of the
Greek church. Still the mind of Vlademer was oppressed with doubts. He
assembled a number of the most virtuous nobles and asked their advice.
The question was settled by the remark of one who said, "Had not the
religion of the Greek church been the best, the sainted Olga would not
have accepted it."

This wonderful event is well authenticated; Nestor gives a recital of
it in its minute details; and an old Greek manuscript, preserved in
the royal library at Paris, records the visit of these ambassadors to
Rome and Constantinople. Vlademer's conversion, however, seems, at
this time, to have been intellectual rather than spiritual, a change
in his policy of administration rather than a change of heart. Though
this external change was a boundless blessing to Russia, there is but
little evidence that Vlademer then comprehended that moral renovation
which the gospel of Christ effects as its crowning glory. He saw the
absurdity of paganism; he felt tortured by remorse; perhaps he felt in
some degree the influence of the gospel which was even then faithfully
preached in a few churches in idolatrous Kief; and he wished to
elevate Russia above the degradation of brutal idolatry.

He deemed it necessary that his renunciation of idolatry and adoption
of Christianity should be accompanied with pomp which should produce a
wide-spread impression upon Russia. He accordingly collected an
immense army, descended the Dnieper in boats, sailed across the Black
Sea, and entering the Gulf of Cherson, near Sevastopol, after several
bloody battles took military possession of the Crimea. Thus
victorious, he sent an embassage to the emperors Basil and Constantine
at Constantinople, that he wished the young Christian princess Anne
for his bride, and that if they did not promptly grant his request, he
would march his army to attack the city.

The emperors, trembling before the approach of such a power, replied
that they would not withhold from him the hand of the princess if he
would first embrace Christianity. Vlademer of course assented to this,
which was the great object he had in view; but demanded that the
princess, who was a sister of the emperors, should first be sent to
him. The unhappy maiden was overwhelmed with anguish at the reception
of these tidings. She regarded the pagan Russians as ferocious
savages; and to be compelled to marry their chief was to her a doom
more dreadful than death.

But policy, which is the religion of cabinets, demanded the sacrifice.
The princess, weeping in despair, was conducted, accompanied by the
most distinguished ecclesiastics and nobles of the empire, to the camp
of Vlademer, where she was received with the most gorgeous
demonstrations of rejoicing. The whole army expressed their
gratification by all the utterances of triumph. The ceremony of
baptism was immediately performed in the church of St. Basil, in the
city of Cherson, and then, at the same hour, the marriage rites with
the princess were solemnized. Vlademer ordered a large church to be
built at Cherson in memory of his visit. He then returned to Kief,
taking with him some preachers of distinction; a communion service
wrought in the most graceful proportions of Grecian art, and several
exquisite specimens of statuary and sculpture, to inspire his subjects
with a love for the beautiful.

He accepted the Christian teachers as his guides, and devoted himself
with extraordinary zeal to the work of persuading all his subjects to
renounce their idol-worship and accept Christianity. Every measure was
adopted to throw contempt upon paganism. The idols were collected and
burned in huge bonfires. The sacred statue of Péroune, the most
illustrious of the pagan Gods, was dragged ignominiously through the
streets, pelted with mud and scourged with whips, until at last,
battered and defaced, it was dragged to the top of a precipice and
tumbled headlong into the river, amidst the derision and hootings of
the multitude.

Our zealous new convert now issued a decree to all the people of
Russia, rich and poor, lords and slaves, to repair to the river in the
vicinity of Kief to be baptized. At an appointed day the people
assembled by thousands on the banks of the Dnieper. Vlademer at length
appeared, accompanied by a great number of Greek priests. The signal
being given, the whole multitude, men, women and children, waded
slowly into the stream. Some boldly advanced out up to their necks in
the water; others, more timid, ventured only waist deep. Fathers and
mothers led their children by the hand. The priests, standing upon the
shore, read the baptismal prayers, and chaunted the praises of God,
and then conferred the name of Christians upon these barbarians. The
multitude then came up from the water.

Vlademer was in a transport of joy. His strange soul was not
insensible to the sublimity of the hour and of the scene. Raising his
eyes to heaven he uttered the following prayer:

"Creator of heaven and earth, extend thy blessing to these thy new
children. May they know thee as the true God, and be strengthened by
thee in the true religion. Come to my help against the temptations of
the evil spirit, and I will praise thy name."

Thus, in the year 988, paganism was, by a blow, demolished in Russia,
and nominal Christianity introduced throughout the whole realm. A
Christian church was erected upon the spot where the statue of Péroune
had stood. Architects were brought from Constantinople to build
churches of stone in the highest artistic style. Missionaries were
sent throughout the whole kingdom, to instruct the people in the
doctrines of Christianity, and to administer the rite of baptism.
Nearly all the people readily received the new faith. Some, however,
attached to the ancient idolatry, refused to abandon it. Vlademer,
nobly recognizing the rights of conscience, resorted to no measures of
violence. The idolaters were left undisturbed save by the teachings of
the missionaries. Thus for several generations idolatry held a
lingering life in the remote sections of the empire. Schools were
established for the instruction of the young, learned teachers from
Greece secured, and books of Christian biography translated into the
Russian tongue.

Vlademer had then ten sons. Three others were afterwards born to him.
He divided his kingdom into ten provinces or states, over each of
which he placed one of these sons as governor. On the frontiers of the
empire he caused cities, strongly fortified, to be erected as
safeguards against the invasion of remote barbarians. For several
years Russia enjoyed peace with but trivial interruptions. The
character of Vlademer every year wonderfully improved. Under his
Christian teachers he acquired more and more of the Christian spirit,
and that spirit was infused into all his public acts. He became the
father of his people, and especially the friend and helper of the
poor. The king was deeply impressed with the words of our Saviour,
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy," and with the
declaration of Solomon, "He who giveth to the poor lendeth to the

In the excess of his zeal of benevolence he was disposed to forgive
all criminals. Thus crime was greatly multiplied, and the very
existence of the state became endangered. The clergy, in a body,
remonstrated with him, assuring him that God had placed him upon the
throne expressly that he might punish the wicked and thus protect the
good. He felt the force of this reasoning, and instituted, though with
much reluctance, a more rigorous government. War had been his passion.
In this respect also his whole nature seemed to be changed, and
nothing but the most dire necessity could lead him to an appeal to
arms. The princess Anne appears to have been a sincere Christian, and
to have exerted the most salutary influence upon the mind of her
husband. In the midst of these great measures of reform, sudden
sickness seized Vlademer in his palace, and he died, in the year 1015,
so unexpectedly that he appointed no successor. His death caused
universal lamentations, and thousands crowded to the church of Notre
Dame, to take a last look of their beloved sovereign, whose body
reposed there for a time in state, in a marble coffin. The remains
were then deposited by the side of his last wife, the Christian
princess Anne, who had died a few years before. The Russian historian,
Karamsin, says:

"This prince, whom the church has recognized as equal to the apostles,
merits from history the title of Great. It is God alone who can know
whether Vlademer was a true Christian at heart, or if he were
influenced simply by political considerations. It is sufficient for us
to state that, after having embraced that divine religion, Vlademer
appears to have been sanctified by it, and he developed a totally
different character from that which he exhibited when involved in the
darkness of paganism."

One of the sons of Vlademer, whose name was Sviatopolk, chanced to be
at Kief at the time of his father's death. He resolved to usurp the
throne and to cause the assassination of all the brothers from whom he
could fear any opposition. Three of his brothers speedily fell victims
to his bloody perfidy. Yaroslaf, who had been entrusted with the
feudal government of Novgorod, being informed of the death of his
father, of the usurpation of Sviatopolk and of the assassination of
three of his brothers, raised an army of forty thousand men and
marched upon Kief. Sviatopolk, informed of his approach, hastened,
with all his troops to meet him. The two armies encountered each other
upon the banks of the Dnieper about one hundred and fifty miles above
Kief. The river separated them, and neither dared to attempt to cross
in the presence of the other. Several weeks passed, the two camps thus
facing each other, without any collision.

At length Yaroslaf, with the Novgorodians, crossed the stream
stealthily and silently in a dark night, and fell fiercely upon the
sleeping camp of Sviatopolk. His troops, thus taken by surprise,
fought for a short time desperately. They were however soon cut to
pieces or dispersed, and Sviatopolk, himself, saved his life only by
precipitate flight. Yaroslaf, thus signally victorious, continued his
march, without further opposition, to Kief, and entered the capital in
triumph. Sviatopolk fled to Poland, secured the coöperation of the
Polish king, whose daughter he had married, returned with a numerous
army, defeated his brother in a sanguinary battle, drove him back to
Novgorod, and again, with flying banners, took possession of Kief. The
path of history now leads us through the deepest sloughs of perfidy
and crime. Two of the sisters of Yaroslaf were found in Kief. One of
them had previously refused the hand of the king of Poland. The
barbarian in revenge seized her as his concubine. Sviatopolk, jealous
of the authority which his father-in-law claimed, and which he could
enforce by means of the Polish army, administered poison in the food
of the troops. A terrible and unknown disease broke out in the camp,
and thousands perished. The wretch even attempted to poison his
father-in-law, but the crime was suspected, and the Polish king,
Boleslas, fled to his own realms.

Sviatopolk was thus again left so helpless as to invite attack.
Yaroslaf with eagerness availed himself of the opportunity. Raising a
new army, he marched upon Kief, retook the city and drove his brother
again into exile. The energetic yet miserable man fled to the banks of
the Volga, where he formed a large army of the ferocious Petchénègues,
exciting their cupidity with promises of boundless pillage. With these
wolfish legions, he commenced his march back again upon his own
country. The terrible encounter took place on the banks of the Alta.
Russian historians describe the conflict as one of the most fierce in
which men have ever engaged. The two armies precipitated themselves
upon each other with the utmost fury, breast to breast, swords,
javelins and clubs clashing against brazen shields. The Novgorodians
had taken a solemn oath that they would conquer or die. Three times
the combatants from sheer exhaustion ceased the strife. Three times
the deadly combat was renewed with redoubled ardor. The sky was
illumined with the first rays of the morning when the battle
commenced. The evening twilight was already darkening the field before
the victory was decided. The hordes of the wretched Sviatopolk were
then driven in rabble rout from the field, leaving the ground covered
with the slain. The defeat was so awful that Sviatopolk was plunged
into utter despair. Half dead with terror, tortured by remorse, and
pursued by the frown of Heaven, he fled into the deserts of Bohemia,
where he miserably perished, an object of universal execration. In the
annals of Russia the surname of _miserable_ is ever affixed to this
infamous prince.

Yaroslaf, thus crowned by victory, received the undisputed title of
sovereign of Russia. It was now the year 1020. For several years
Yaroslaf reigned in prosperity. There were occasional risings of
barbaric tribes, which, by force of arms, he speedily quelled. Much
time and treasure were devoted to the embellishment of the capital;
churches were erected; the city was surrounded by brick walls;
institutions of learning were encouraged, and, most important of all,
the Bible was translated into the Russian language. It is recorded
that the king devoutly read the Scriptures himself, both morning and
evening, and took great interest in copying the sacred books with his
own hands.

The closing years of life this illustrious prince passed in repose and
in the exercises of piety, while he still continued, with
unintermitted zeal, to watch over the welfare of the state. Nearly all
the pastors of the churches were Greeks from Constantinople, and
Yaroslaf, apprehensive that the Greeks might acquire too much
influence in the empire, made great efforts to raise up Russian
ecclesiastics, and to place them in the most important posts. At
length the last hours of the monarch arrived, and it was evident that
death was near. He assembled his children around his bed, four sons
and five daughters, and thus affectingly addressed them:

"I am about to leave the world. I trust that you, my dear children,
will not only remember that you are brothers and sisters, but that you
will cherish for each other the most tender affection. Ever bear in
mind that discord among you will be attended with the most funereal
results, and that it will be destructive of the prosperity of the
state. By peace and tranquillity alone can its power be consolidated.

"Ysiaslaf will be my successor to ascend the throne of Kief. Obey him
as you have obeyed your father. I give Tchernigof to Sviatoslaf;
Pereaslavle to Vsevolod; and Smolensk to Viatcheslaf. I hope that each
of you will be satisfied with his inheritance. Your oldest brother, in
his quality of sovereign prince, will be your natural judge. He will
protect the oppressed and punish the guilty."

On the 19th of February, 1054, Yaroslaf died, in the seventy-first
year of his age. His subjects followed his remains in tears to the
tomb, in the church of St. Sophia, where his marble monument, carved
by Grecian artists, is still shown. Influenced by a superstition
common in those days, he caused the bones of Oleg and Yaropolk, the
two murdered brothers of Vlademer, who had perished in the errors of
paganism, to be disinterred, baptized, and then consigned to Christian
burial in the church of Kief. He established the first public school
in Russia, where three hundred young men, sons of the priests and
nobles, received instruction in all those branches which would prepare
them for civil or ecclesiastical life. Ambitious of making Kief the
rival of Constantinople, he expended large sums in its decoration.
Grecian artists were munificently patronized, and paintings and
mosaics of exquisite workmanship added attraction to churches reared
in the highest style of existing art. He even sent to Greece for
singers, that the church choirs might be instructed in the richest
utterances of music. He drew up a code of laws, called Russian
Justice, which, for that dark age, is a marvelous monument of
sagacity, comprehensive views and equity.

The death of Yaroslaf proved an irreparable calamity; for his
successor was incapable of leading on in the march of civilization,
and the realm was soon distracted by civil war. It is a gloomy period,
of three hundred years, upon which we now must enter, while violence,
crime, and consequently misery, desolated the land. It is worthy of
record that Nestor attributes the woes which ensued, to the general
forgetfulness of God, and the impiety which commenced the reign
immediately after the death of Yaroslaf.

"God is just," writes the historian. "He punishes the Russians for
their sins. We dare to call ourselves Christians, and yet we live like
idolaters. Although multitudes throng every place of entertainment,
although the sound of trumpets and harps resounds in our houses, and
mountebanks exhibit their tricks and dances, the temples of God are
empty, surrendered to solitude and silence."

Bands of barbarians invaded Russia from the distant regions of the
Caspian Sea, plundering, killing and burning. They came suddenly, like
the thunder-cloud in a summer's day, and as suddenly disappeared where
no pursuit could find them. Ambitious nobles, descendants of former
kings, plied all the arts of perfidy and of assassination to get
possession of different provinces of the empire, each hoping to make
his province central and to extend his sway over all the rest of
Russia. The brothers of Ysiaslaf became embroiled, and drew the sword
against each other. An insurrection was excited in Kief, the populace
besieged the palace, and the king saved his life only by a precipitate
abandonment of his capital. The military mob pillaged the palace and
proclaimed their chieftain, Vseslaf, king.

Ysiaslaf fled to Poland. The Polish king, Boleslas II., who was a
grandson of Vlademer, and who had married a Russian princess,
received the fugitive king with the utmost kindness. With a strong
Polish army, accompanied by the King of Poland, Ysiaslaf returned to
Kief, to recover his capital by the sword. The insurgent chief who had
usurped the throne, in cowardly terror fled. Ysiaslaf entered the city
with the stern strides of a conqueror and wreaked horrible vengeance
upon the inhabitants, making but little discrimination between the
innocent and the guilty. Seventy were put to death. A large number had
their eyes plucked out; and for a long time the city resounded with
the cries of the victims, suffering under all kinds of punishments
from the hands of this implacable monarch. Thus the citizens were
speedily brought into abject submission. The Polish king, with his
army, remained a long time at Kief, luxuriating in every indulgence at
the expense of the inhabitants. He then returned to his own country
laden with riches.

Ysiaslaf re-ascended the throne, having been absent ten months.
Disturbances of a similar character agitated the provinces which were
under the government of the brothers of Ysiaslaf, and which had
assumed the authority and dignity of independent kingdoms. Thus all
Russia was but an arena of war, a volcanic crater of flame and blood.
Three years of conflict and woe passed away, when two of the brothers
of Ysiaslaf united their armies and marched against him; and again he
was compelled to seek a refuge in Poland. He carried with him immense
treasure, hoping thus again to engage the services of the Polish army.
But Boleslas infamously robbed him of his treasure, and then, to use
an expression of Nestor, "_showed him the way out of his kingdom_."

The woe-stricken exile fled to Germany, and entreated the
interposition of the emperor, Henry IV., promising to reward him with
immense treasure, and to hold the crown of Russia as tributary to the
German empire. The emperor was excited by the alluring offer, and sent
embassadors to Sviatoslaf, now enthroned at Kief, ostensibly to
propose reconciliation, but in reality to ascertain what the
probability was of success in a warlike expedition to so remote a
kingdom. The embassadors returned with a very discouraging report.

The banished prince thus disappointed, turned his steps to Rome, and
implored the aid of Gregory VII., that renowned pontiff, who was
ambitious of universal sovereignty, and who had assumed the title of
King of kings. Ysiaslaf, in his humiliation, was ready to renounce his
fidelity to the Greek church, and also the dignity of an independent
prince. He promised, in consideration of the support of the pope, to
recognize not only the spiritual power of Rome, but also the temporal
authority of the pontiff. He also entered bitter complaints against
the King of Poland. Ysiaslaf did not visit Rome in person, but sent
his son to confer with the pope. Gregory, rejoiced to acquire
spiritual dominion over Russia, received the application in the most
friendly manner, and sent embassadors to the fugitive prince with the
following letter:

"Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Ysiaslaf, prince
of the Russians, safety, health and the apostolic benediction.

"Your son, after having visited the sacred places at Rome, has humbly
implored that he might be reëstablished in his possessions by the
authority of Saint Peter, and has given his solemn vow to be faithful
to the chief of the apostles. We have consented to grant his request,
which we understand is in accordance with your wishes; and we, in the
name of the chief of the apostles, confer upon him the government of
the Russian kingdom.

"We pray that Saint Peter may preserve your health, that he will
protect your reign and your estates, even to the end of your life, and
that you may then enjoy a day of eternal glory.

"Wishing also to give a proof of our desire to be useful to you
hereafter, we have charged our embassadors, one of whom is your
faithful friend, to treat with you verbally upon all those subjects
alluded to in your communication to us. Receive them with kindness as
the embassadors of Saint Peter, and receive without restriction all
the propositions they may make in our name.

"May God, the all-powerful, illumine your heart with divine light and
with temporal blessings, and conduct you to eternal glory. Given at
Rome the 15th of May, in the year 1075."

Thus adroitly the pope assumed the sovereignty of Russia, and the
right, and the power, by the mere utterance of a word, to confer it
upon whom he would. The all-grasping pontiff thus annexed Russia to
the domains of Saint Peter. Another short letter Gregory wrote to the
King of Poland. It was as follows:

"In appropriating to yourself illegally the treasures of the Russian
prince, you have violated the Christian virtues. I conjure you, in the
name of God, to restore to him all the property of which you and your
subjects have deprived him; for robbers can never enter the kingdom of
heaven unless they first restore the plunder they have taken."

Fortunately for the fugitive prince, his usurping brother Sviatoslaf
just at this time died, in consequence of a severe surgical operation.
The Polish king appears to have refunded the treasure of which he had
robbed the exiled monarch, and Ysiaslaf, hiring an army of Polish
mercenaries, returned a second time in triumph to his capital. It does
not appear that he subsequently paid any regard to the interposition
of the pope.

We have now but a long succession of conspiracies, insurrections and
battles. In one of these civil conflicts, Ysiaslaf, at the head of a
formidable force, met another powerful army, but a few leagues from
Kief. In the hottest hour of the battle a reckless cavalier, in the
hostile ranks, perceiving Ysiaslaf in the midst of his infantry,
precipitated himself on him, pierced him with his lance and threw him
dead upon the ground. His body was conveyed in a canoe to Kief, and
buried with much funeral pomp in the church of Notre Dame, by the side
of the beautiful monument which had been erected to the memory of

Ysiaslaf expunged from the Russian code of laws the death penalty, and
substituted, in its stead, heavy fines. The Russian historians,
however, record that it is impossible to decide whether this measure
was the dictate of humanity, or if he wished in this way to replenish
his treasury.

Vsevolod succeeded to the throne of his brother Ysiaslaf in the year
1078. The children of Ysiaslaf had provinces assigned them in
appanage. Vsevolod was a lover of peace, and yet devastation and
carnage were spread everywhere before his eyes. Every province in the
empire was torn by civil strife. Hundreds of nobles and princes were
inflamed with the ambition for supremacy, and with the sword alone
could the path be cut to renown. The wages offered the soldiers, on
all sides, was pillage. Cities were everywhere sacked and burned, and
the realm was crimsoned with blood. Civil war is necessarily followed
by the woes of famine, which woes are ever followed by the pestilence.
The plague swept the kingdom with terrific violence, and whole
provinces were depopulated. In the city of Kief alone, seven thousand
perished in the course of ten weeks. Universal terror, and
superstitious fear spread through the nation. An earthquake indicated
that the world itself was trembling in alarm; an enormous serpent was
reported to have been seen falling from heaven; invisible and
malignant spirits were riding by day and by night through the streets
of the cities, wounding the citizens with blows which, though unseen,
were heavy and murderous, and by which blows many were slain. All
hearts sank in gloom and fear. Barbarian hordes ravaged both banks of
the Dnieper, committing towns and villages to the flames, and killing
such of the inhabitants as they did not wish to carry away as

Vsevolod, an amiable man of but very little force of character, was
crushed by the calamities which were overwhelming his country. Not an
hour of tranquillity could he enjoy. It was the ambition of his
nephews, ambitious, energetic, unprincipled princes, struggling for
the supremacy, which was mainly the cause of all these disasters.


From 1092 to 1167.

Character of Vsevolod.--Succession of Sviatopolk.--His
Discomfiture.--Deplorable Condition of Russia.--Death of
Sviatopolk.--His Character.--Accession of Monomaque.--Curious Festival
at Kief.--Energy of Monomaque.--Alarm of the Emperor at
Constantinople.--Horrors of War.--Death of Monomaque.--His Remarkable
Character.--Pious Letter to his Children.--Accession of Mstislaf.--His
Short but Stormy Reign.--Struggles for the Throne.--Final Victory of
Ysiaslaf.--Moscow in the Province of Souzdal.--Death of
Ysiaslaf.--Wonderful Career of Rostislaf.--Rising Power of
Moscow.--Georgievitch, Prince of Moscow.

Vsevolod has the reputation of having been a man of piety. But he was
quite destitute of that force of character which one required to hold
the helm in such stormy times. He was a man of great humanity and of
unblemished morals. The woes which desolated his realms, and which he
was utterly unable to avert, crushed his spirit and hastened his
death. Perceiving that his dying hour was at hand, he sent for his two
sons, Vlademer and Rostislaf, and the sorrowing old man breathed his
last in their arms.

Vsevolod was the favorite son of Yaroslaf the Great, and his father,
with his dying breath, had expressed the wish that Vsevolod, when
death should come to him, might be placed in the tomb by his side.
These affectionate wishes of the dying father were gratified, and the
remains of Vsevolod were deposited, with the most imposing ceremonies
of those days, in the church of Saint Sophia, by the side of those of
his father. The people, forgetting his weakness and remembering only
his amiability, wept at his burial.

Vlademer, the eldest son of Vsevolod, with great magnanimity
surrendered the crown to his cousin Sviatopolk, saying,

"His father was older than mine, and reigned at Kief before my father.
I wish to avoid dissension and the horrors of civil war."

He then proclaimed Sviatopolk sovereign of Russia. The new sovereign
had been feudal lord of the province of Novgorod; he, however, soon
left his northern capital to take up his residence in the more
imperial palaces of Kief. But disaster seemed to be the doom of
Russia, and the sounds of rejoicing which attended his accession to
the throne had hardly died away ere a new scene of woe burst upon the
devoted land.

The young king was rash and headstrong. He provoked the ire of one of
the strong neighboring provinces, which was under the sway of an
energetic feudal prince, ostensibly a vassal of the crown, but who, in
his pride and power, arrogated independence. The banners of a hostile
army were soon approaching Kief. Sviatopolk marched heroically to meet
them. A battle was fought, in which he and his army were awfully
defeated. Thousands were driven by the conquerors into a stream,
swollen by the rains, where they miserably perished. The fugitives,
led by Sviatopolk, in dismay fled back to Kief and took refuge behind
the walls of the city. The enemy pressed on, ravaging, with the most
cruel desolation, the whole region around Kief, and in a second battle
conquered the king and drove him out of his realms. The whole of
southern Russia was abandoned to barbaric destruction. Nestor gives a
graphic sketch of the misery which prevailed:

"One saw everywhere," he writes, "villages in flames; churches,
houses, granaries were reduced to heaps of ashes; and the unfortunate
citizens were either expiring beneath the blows of their enemies, or
were awaiting death with terror. Prisoners, half naked, were dragged
in chains to the most distant and savage regions. As they toiled
along, they said, weeping, one to another, '_I am from such a village,
and I from such a village_. No horses or cattle were to be seen upon
our plains. The fields were abandoned to weeds, and ferocious beasts
ranged the places but recently occupied by Christians."

The whole reign of Sviatopolk, which continued until the year 1113,
was one continued storm of war. It would only weary the reader to
endeavor to disentangle the labyrinth of confusion, and to describe
the ebbings and floodings of battle. Every man's hand was against his
neighbor; and friends to-day were foes to-morrow. Sviatopolk himself
was one of the most imperfect of men. He was perfidious, ungrateful
and suspicious; haughty in prosperity, mean and cringing in adversity.
His religion was the inspiration of superstition and cowardice, not of
intelligence and love. Whenever he embarked upon any important
expedition, he took an ecclesiastic to the tomb of Saint Theodosius,
there to implore the blessing of Heaven. If successful in the
enterprise, he returned to the tomb to give thanks. This was the
beginning and the end of his piety. Without any scruple he violated
the most sacred laws of morality. The marriage vow was entirely
disregarded, and he was ever ready to commit any crime which would
afford gratification to his passions, or which would advance his

The death of Sviatopolk occurred in a season of general anarchy, and
it was uncertain who would seize the throne. The citizens of Kief met
in solemn and anxious assembly, and offered the crown to an
illustrious noble, Monomaque, a brother of Sviatopolk, and a man who
had acquired renown in many enterprises of most desperate daring. In
truth it required energy and courage of no ordinary character for a
man at that time to accept the crown. Innumerable assailants would
immediately fall upon him, putting to the most imminent peril not only
the crown, but the head which wore it. By the Russian custom of
descent, the crown incontestably belonged to the oldest son of
Sviatoslaf, and Monomaque, out of regard to his rights, declined the
proffered gift. This refusal was accompanied by the most melancholy
results. A terrible tumult broke out in the city. There was no arm of
law sufficiently powerful to restrain the mob, and anarchy, with all
its desolation, reigned for a time triumphant. A deputation of the
most influential citizens of Kief was immediately sent to Monomaque,
with the most earnest entreaty that he would hasten to rescue them and
their city from the impending ruin. The heroic prince could not turn a
deaf ear to this appeal. He hastened to the city, where his presence,
combined with the knowledge which all had of his energy and courage,
at once appeased the tumult. He ascended the throne, greeted by the
acclamations of the whole city. No opposition ventured to manifest
itself, and Monomaque was soon in the undisputed possession of power.

Nothing can give one a more vivid idea of the state of the times than
the festivals appointed in honor of the new reign as described by the
ancient annalists. The bones of two saints were transferred from one
church to another in the city. A magnificent coffin of silver,
embellished with gold, precious stones, and _bas reliefs_, so
exquisitely carved as to excite the admiration even of the Grecian
artists, contained the sacred relics, and excited the wonder and
veneration of the whole multitude. The imposing ceremony drew to Kief
the princes, the clergy, the lords, the warriors, even, from the most
distant parts of the empire. The gates of the city and the streets
were encumbered with such multitudes that, in order to open a passage
for the clergy with the sarcophagus, the monarch caused cloths,
garments, precious furs and pieces of silver to be scattered to draw
away the throng. A luxurious feast was given to the princes, and, for
three days, all the poor of the city were entertained at the expense
of the public treasure.

Monomaque now fitted out sundry expeditions under his enterprising son
to extend the territories of Russia and to bring tumultuous tribes and
nations into subjection and order. His son Mstislaf was sent into the
country of the Tchoudes, now Livonia, on the shores of the Baltic. He
overran the territory, seized the capital and established order. His
son Vsevolod, who was stationed at Novgorod, made an expedition into
Finland. His army experienced inconceivable sufferings in that cold,
inhospitable clime. Still they overawed the inhabitants and secured
tranquillity. Another son, Georges, marched to the Volga, embarked his
army in a fleet of barges, and floated along the stream to eastern
Bulgaria, conquered an army raised to oppose him, and returned to his
principality laden with booty. Another son, Yaropolk, assailed the
tumultuous tribes upon the Don. Brilliant success accompanied his
enterprise. Among his captives he found one maiden of such rare beauty
that he made her his wife. At the same time the kingdom of Russia was
invaded by barbarous hordes from the shores of the Caspian. Monomaque
himself headed an army and assailed the invaders with such impetuosity
that they were driven, with much loss, back again to their wilds.

The military renown Monomaque thus attained made his name a terror
even to the most distant tribes, and, for a time, held in awe those
turbulent spirits who had been filling the world with violence. Elated
by his conquests, Monomaque fitted out an expedition to Greece. A
large army descended the Dnieper, took possession of Thrace, and
threatened Adrianople. The emperor, in great alarm, sent embassadors
to Monomaque with the most precious presents. There was a cornelian
exquisitely cut and set, a golden chain and necklace, a crown of gold,
and, most precious of all, a crucifix made of wood of the true cross!
The metropolitan bishop of Ephesus, who was sent with these presents,
was authorized, in the name of the church and of the empire, to place
the crown upon the brow of Monomaque in gorgeous coronation in the
cathedral church of Kief, and to proclaim Monomaque Emperor of Russia.
This crown, called the _golden bonnet of Monomaque_, is still
preserved in the Museum of Antiquities at Moscow.

These were dark and awful days. Horrible as war now is, it was then
attended with woes now unknown. Gleb, prince of Minsk, with a
ferocious band, attacked the city of Sloutsk; after a terrible scene
of carnage, in which most of those capable of bearing arms were slain,
the city was burned to ashes, and all the survivors, men, women and
children, were driven off as captives to the banks of the Dwina, where
they were incorporated with the tribe of their savage conqueror. In
revenge, Monomaque sent his son Yaropolk to Droutsk, one of the cities
of Gleb. No pen can depict the horrors of the assault. After a few
hours of dismay, shriekings and blood, the city was in ashes, and the
wretched victims of man's pride and revenge were conducted to the
vicinity of Kief, where they reared their huts, and in widowhood,
orphanage and penury, commenced life anew. Gleb himself in this foray
was taken prisoner, conducted to Kief, and detained there a captive
until he died.

Monomaque reigned thirteen years, during which time he was incessantly
engaged in wars with the audacious nobles of the provinces who refused
to recognize his supremacy, and many of whom were equal to him in
power. He died May 19, 1126, in the seventy-third year of his age,
renowned, say the ancient annalists, for the splendor of his victories
and the purity of his morals. He was fully conscious of the approach
of death, and seems to have been sustained, in that trying hour, by
the consolations of religion. He lived in an age of darkness and of
tumult; but he was a man of prayer, and, according to the light he
had, he walked humbly with God. Commending his soul to the Saviour he
fell asleep. It is recorded that he was a man of such lively emotions
that his voice often trembled, and his eyes were filled with tears as
he implored God's blessing upon his distracted country. He wrote, just
before his death, a long letter to his children, conceived in the
most lovely spirit of piety. We have space but for a few extracts from
these Christian counsels of a dying father. The whole letter, written
on parchment, is still preserved in the archives of the monarchy.

"The foundation of all virtue," he wrote, "is the fear of God and the
love of man. O my dear children, praise God and love your fellow-men.
It is not fasting, it is not solitude, it is not a monastic life which
will secure for you the divine approval--it is doing good to your
fellow-creatures alone. Never forget the poor. Take care of them, and
ever remember that your wealth comes from God, and that it is only
intrusted to you for a short time. Do not hoard up your riches; that
is contrary to the precepts of the Saviour. Be a father to the
orphans, the protectors of widows, and never permit the powerful to
oppress the weak. Never take the name of God in vain, and never
violate your oath. Do not envy the triumph of the wicked, or the
success of the impious; but abstain from everything that is wrong.
Banish from your hearts all the suggestions of pride, and remember
that we are all perishable--to-day full of life, to-morrow in the
tomb. Regard with horror, falsehood, intemperance and impurity--vices
equally dangerous to the body and to the soul. Treat aged men with the
same respect with which you would treat your parents, and love all men
as your brothers.

"When you make a journey in your provinces, do not suffer the members
of your suite to inflict the least injury upon the inhabitants. Treat
with particular respect strangers, of whatever quality, and if you can
not confer upon them favors, treat them with a spirit of benevolence,
since, upon the manner with which they are treated, depends the evil
or good report which they will take back with them to their own land.
Salute every one whom you meet. Love your wives, but do not permit
them to govern you. When you have learned any thing useful, endeavor
to imprint it upon your memory, and be always seeking to acquire
information. My father spoke five languages, a fact which excited the
admiration of strangers.

"Guard against idleness, which is the mother of all vices. Man ought
always to be occupied. When you are traveling on horseback, instead of
allowing your mind to wander upon vain thoughts, recite your prayers,
or, at least, repeat the shortest and best of them all: '_Oh, Lord,
have mercy upon us.'_ Never retire at night without falling upon your
knees before God in prayer, and never let the sun find you in your
bed. Always go to church at an early hour in the morning to offer to
God the homage of your first and freshest thoughts. This was the
custom of my father and of all the pious people who surrounded him.
With the first rays of the sun they praised the Lord, and exclaimed,
with fervor, 'Condescend, O Lord, with thy divine light to illumine my

The faults of Monomaque were those of his age, _non vitia hominis, sed
vitia soeculi_; but his virtues were truly Christian, and it can
hardly be doubted that, as his earthly crown dropped from his brow, he
received a brighter crown in heaven. The devastations of the
barbarians in that day were so awful, burning cities and churches, and
massacring women and children, that they were regarded as enemies of
the human race, and were pursued with exterminating vengeance.

Monomaque left several children and a third wife. One of his wives,
Gyda, was a daughter of Harold, King of England. His oldest son,
Mstislaf, succeeded to the crown. His brothers received, as their
inheritance, the government of extensive provinces. The new monarch,
inheriting the energies and the virtues of his illustrious sire, had
long been renowned. The barbarians, east of the Volga, as soon as they
heard of the death of Monomaque, thought that Russia would fall an
easy prey to their arms. In immense numbers they crossed the river,
spreading far and wide the most awful devastation. But Mstislaf fell
upon them with such impetuosity that they were routed with great
slaughter and driven back to their wilds. Their chastisement was so
severe that, for a long time, they were intimidated from any further
incursions. With wonderful energy, Mstislaf attacked many of the
tributary nations, who had claimed a sort of independence, and who
were ever rising in insurrection. He speedily brought them into
subjection to his sway, and placed over them rulers devoted to his
interests. In the dead of winter an expedition was marched against the
Tchoudes, who inhabited the southern shores of the bay of Finland. The
men were put to death, the cities and villages burned; the women and
children were brought away as captives and incorporated with the
Russian people.

Mstislaf reigned but about four years, when he suddenly died in the
sixtieth year of his age. His whole reign was an incessant warfare
with insurgent chiefs and barbarian invaders. There is an awful
record, at this time, of the scourge of famine added to the miseries
of war. All the northern provinces suffered terribly from this frown
of God. Immense quantities of snow covered the ground even to the
month of May. The snow then melted suddenly with heavy rains, deluging
the fields with water, which slowly retired, converting the country
into a wide-spread marsh. It was very late before any seed could be
sown. The grain had but just begun to sprout when myriads of locusts
appeared, devouring every green thing. A heavy frost early in the
autumn destroyed the few fields the locusts had spared, and then
commenced the horrors of a universal famine. Men, women and children,
wasted and haggard, wandered over the fields seeking green leaves and
roots, and dropped dead in their wanderings. The fields and the public
places were covered with putrefying corpses which the living had not
strength to bury. A fetid miasma, ascending from this cause, added
pestilence to famine, and woes ensued too awful to be described.

Immediately after the death of Mstislaf, the inhabitants of Kief
assembled and invited his brother Vladimirovitch to assume the crown.
This prince then resided at Novgorod, which city he at once left for
the capital. He proved to be a feeble prince, and the lords of the
remote principalities, assuming independence, bade defiance to his
authority. There was no longer any central power, and Russia, instead
of being a united kingdom, became a conglomeration of antagonistic
states; every feudal lord marshaling his serfs in warfare against his
neighbor. In the midst of this state of universal anarchy, caused by
the weakness of a virtuous prince who had not sufficient energy to
reign, Vladimirovitch died in 1139.

The death of the king was a signal for a general outbreak--a
multitude of princes rushing to seize the crown. Viatcheslaf, prince
of a large province called Pereiaslavle, was the first to reach Kief
with his army. The inhabitants of the city, to avoid the horrors of
war, marched in procession to meet him, and conducted him in triumph
to the throne. Viatcheslaf had hardly grasped the scepter and
stationed his army within the walls, when from the steeples of the
city the banners of another advancing host were seen gleaming in the
distance, and soon the tramp of their horsemen, and the defiant tones
of the trumpet were heard, as another and far more mighty host
encircled the city. This new army was led by Vsevolod, prince of a
province called Vouychegorod. Viatcheslaf, convinced of the
impossibility of resisting such a power as Vsevolod had brought
against Kief, immediately consented to retire, and to surrender the
throne to his more powerful rival. Vsevolod entered the city in
triumph and established himself firmly in power.

There is nothing of interest to be recorded during his reign of seven
years, save that Russia was swept by incessant billows of flame and
blood. The princes of the provinces were ever rising against his
authority. Combinations were formed to dethrone the king, and the king
formed combinations to crush his enemies. The Hungarians, the Swedes,
the Danes, the Poles, all made war against this energetic prince; but
with an iron hand he smote them down. Toil and care soon exhausted
his frame, and he was prostrate on his dying bed. Bequeathing his
throne to his brother Igor, he died, leaving behind him the reputation
of having been one of the most energetic of the kings of this blood
deluged land.

Igor was fully conscious of the perils he thus inherited. He was very
unpopular with the inhabitants of Kief, and loud murmurs greeted his
accession to power. A conspiracy was formed among the most influential
inhabitants of Kief, and a secret embassage was sent to the grand
prince, Ysiaslaf, a descendant of Monomaque, inviting him to come, and
with their aid, take possession of the throne. The prince attended the
summons with alacrity, and marched with a powerful army to Kief. Igor
was vanquished in a sanguinary battle, taken captive, imprisoned in a
convent, and Ysiaslaf became the nominal monarch of Russia.

Sviatoslaf, the brother of Igor, overwhelmed with anguish in view of
his brother's fall and captivity, traversed the expanse of Russia to
enlist the sympathies of the distant princes, to march for the rescue
of the captive. He was quite successful. An allied army was soon
raised, and, under determined leaders, was on the march for Kief. The
king, Ysiaslaf, with his troops, advanced to meet them. In the
meantime Igor, crushed by misfortune, and hopeless of deliverance,
sought solace for his woes in religion. "For a long time," said he, "I
have desired to consecrate my heart to God. Even in the height of
prosperity this was my strongest wish. What can be more proper for me
now that I am at the very gates of the tomb?" For eight days he laid
in his cell, expecting every moment to breathe his last. He then,
reviving a little, received the tonsure from the hands of the bishop,
and renouncing the world, and all its cares and ambitions, devoted
himself to the prayers and devotions of the monk.

The king pressed Sviatoslaf with superior forces, conquered him in
several battles, and drove him, a fugitive, into dense forests, and
into distant wilds. Sviatoslaf, like his brother, weary of the storms
of life, also sought the solace which religion affords to the weary
and the heart-stricken. Pursued by his relentless foe, he came to a
little village called Moscow, far back in the interior. This is the
first intimation history gives of this now renowned capital of the
most extensive monarchy upon the globe. A prince named Georges reigned
here, over the extensive province then called Souzdal, who received
the fugitive with heartfelt sympathy. Aided by Georges and several of
the surrounding princes, another army was raised, and Sviatoslaf
commenced a triumphal march, sweeping all opposition before him, until
he arrived a conqueror before the walls of Novgorod.

The people of Kief, enraged by this success of the foe of their
popular king, rose in a general tumult, burst into a convent where
Igor was found at his devotions, tied a rope about his neck, and
dragged him, a mutilated corpse, through the streets.

The king, Ysiaslaf, called for a _levy en masse_, of the inhabitants
of Kief, summoned distant feudal barons with their armies to his
banner, and marched impetuously to meet the conquering foe. Fierce
battles ensued, in which Sviatoslaf was repeatedly vanquished, and
retreated to Souzdal again to appeal to Georges for aid. Ysiaslaf
summoned the Novgorodians before him, and in the following energetic
terms addressed them:

"My brethren," said he, "Georges, the prince of Souzdal, has insulted
Novgorod. I have left the capital of Russia to defend you. Do you wish
to prosecute the war? The sword is in my hands. Do you desire peace? I
will open negotiations."

"War, war," the multitude shouted. "You are our monarch, and we will
all follow you, from the youngest to the oldest."

A vast army was immediately assembled on the shores of the lake of
Ilmen, near the city of Novgorod, which commenced its march of three
hundred miles, to the remote realms of Souzdal. Georges was unprepared
to meet them. He fled, surrendering his country to be ravaged by the
foe. His cities and villages were burned, and seven thousand of his
subjects were carried captive to Kief. But Georges was not a man to
bear such a calamity meekly. He speedily succeeded in forming an
alliance with the barbarian nations around him, and burning with rage,
followed the army of the retiring foe. He overtook them near the city
of Periaslavle. It was the evening of the 23d of August. The unclouded
sun was just sinking at the close of a sultry day, and the vesper
chants were floating through the temples of the city. The storm of war
burst as suddenly as the thunder peals of an autumnal tempest. The
result was most awful and fatal to the king. His troops were dispersed
and cut to pieces. Ysiaslaf himself with difficulty escaped and
reached the ramparts of Kief. The terrified inhabitants entreated him
not to remain, as his presence would only expose the city to the
horror of being taken by storm.

"Our fathers, our brothers, our sons," they said, "are dead upon the
field of battle, or are in chains. We have no arms. Generous prince,
do not expose the capital of Russia to pillage. Flee for a time to
your remote principalities, there to gather a new army. You know that
we will never rest contented under the government of Georges. We will
rise in revolt against him, as soon as we shall see your standards

Ysiaslaf fled, first to Smolensk, some three hundred miles distant,
and thence traversed his principalities seeking aid. Georges entered
Kief in triumph. Calling his warriors around him, he assigned to them
the provinces which he had wrested from the feudal lords of the king.

Hungary, Bohemia and Poland then consisted of barbaric peoples just
emerging into national existence. The King of Hungary had married
Euphrosine, the youngest sister of Ysiaslaf. He immediately sent to
his brother-in-law ten thousand cavaliers. The Kings of Bohemia and of
Poland also entered into an alliance with the exiled prince, and in
person led the armies which they contributed to his aid. A war of
desperation ensued. It was as a conflict between the tiger and the

The annals of those dark days contained but a weary recital of deeds
of violence, blood and woe, which for ten years desolated the land.
All Russia was roused. Every feudal lord was leading his vassals to
the field. There were combinations and counter-combinations
innumerable. Cities were taken and retaken; to-day, the banners of
Ysiaslaf float upon the battlements of Kief; to-morrow, those banners
are hewn down and the standards of Georges are unfurled to the breeze.
Now, we see Ysiaslaf a fugitive, hopeless, in despair. Again, the
rolling wheel of fortune raises him from his depression, and, with the
strides of a conqueror, he pursues his foe, in his turn vanquished and
woe-stricken. But

     "The pomp of heraldry, the pride of power,
      And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
     Alike await the inevitable hour;
      The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

Death, which Ysiaslaf had braved in a hundred battles, approached him
by the slow but resistless march of disease. For a few days the
monarch tossed in fevered restlessness on his bed at Kief, and then,
from his life of incessant storms on earth, his spirit ascended to the
God who gave it. Georges was, at that time, in the lowest state of
humiliation. His armies had all perished, and he was wandering in
exile, seeking new forces with which to renew the strife.

Rostislaf, grand prince of Novgorod, succeeded to the throne. But
Georges, animated by the death of Ysiaslaf, soon found enthusiastic
adventurers rallying around his banners. He marched vigorously to
Kief, drove Rostislaf from the capital and seized the scepter. But
there was no lull in the tempest of human ambition. Georges had
attained the throne by the energies of his sword, and, acting upon the
principle that "to the victors belong the spoils," he had driven from
their castles all the lords who had been supporters of the past
administration. He had conferred their mansions and their territories
upon his followers. Human nature has not materially changed. Those in
office were fighting to retain their honors and emoluments. Those out
of office were struggling to attain the posts which brought wealth and
renown. The progress of civilization has, in our country, transferred
this fierce battle from the field to the ballot-box. It is, indeed, a
glorious change. The battle can be fought thus just as effectually,
and infinitely more humanely. It has required the misery of nearly six
thousand years to teach, even a few millions of mankind, that the
ballot-box is a better instrument for political conflicts than the

Armies were gathering in all directions to march upon Georges. He was
now an old man, weary of war, and endeavored to bribe his foes to
peace. He was, however, unsuccessful, and found it to be necessary
again to lead his armies into the field. It was the 20th of March,
1157, when Georges, entering Kief in triumph, ascended the throne. On
the 1st of May he dined with some of his lords. Immediately after
dinner he was taken sick, and, after languishing a fortnight in
ever-increasing debility, on the 15th he died.

The inhabitants of Kief, regarding him as an usurper, rejoiced at his
death, and immediately sent an embassage to Davidovitch, prince of
Tchernigof, a province about one hundred and fifty miles north of
Kief, inviting him to hasten to the capital and seize the scepter of

Kief, and all occidental Russia, thus ravaged by interminable wars,
desolated by famine and by flame, was rapidly on the decline, and was
fast lapsing into barbarism. Davidovitch had hardly ascended the
throne ere he was driven from it by Rostislaf, whom Georges had
dethroned. But the remote province of Souzdal, of which Moscow was the
capital, situated some seven hundred miles north-east of Kief, was now
emerging from barbaric darkness into wealth and civilization. The
missionaries of Christ had penetrated those remote realms. Churches
were reared, the gospel was preached, peace reigned, industry was
encouraged, and, under their influence, Moscow was attaining that
supremacy which subsequently made it the heart of the Russian empire.

The inhabitants of Kief received Rostislaf with demonstrations of joy,
as they received every prince whom the fortunes of war imposed upon
them, hoping that each one would secure for their unhappy city the
blessings of tranquillity. Davidovitch fled to Moldavia. There was
then in Moldavia, between the rivers Pruth and Sereth, a piratic city
called Berlad. It was the resort of vagabonds of all nations and
creeds, who pillaged the shores of the Black Sea and plundered the
boats ascending and descending the Danube and the Dnieper. These
brigands, enriched by plunder and strengthened by accessions of
desperadoes from every nation and every tribe, had bidden defiance
both to the grand princes of Russia and the powers of the empire.

Eagerly these robber hordes engaged as auxiliaries of Davidovitch. In
a tumultuous band they commenced their march to Kief. They were,
however, repulsed by the energetic Rostislaf, and Davidovitch, with
difficulty escaping from the sanguinary field, fled to Moscow and
implored the aid of its independent prince, Georgievitch. The prince
listened with interest to his representations, and, following the
example of the more illustrious nations of modern times, thought it a
good opportunity to enlarge his territories.

The city of Novgorod, capital of the extensive and powerful province
of the same name, was some seven hundred miles north of Kief. It was
not more than half that distance west of Moscow. The inhabitants were
weary of anarchy and blood, and anxious to throw themselves into the
arms of any prince who could secure for them tranquillity. The fruit
was ripe and was ready to drop into the hands of Georgievitch. He sent
word to the Novgorodians that he had decided to take their country
under his protection--that he had no wish for war, but that if they
manifested any resistance, he should subdue them by force of arms. The
Novgorodians received the message with delight, rose in insurrection,
and seized their prince, who was the oldest son of Rostislaf,
imprisoned him, his wife and children, in a convent, and with
tumultuous joy received as their prince the nephew of Georgievitch.
Rostislaf was so powerless that he made no attempt to avenge this
insult. Davidovitch made one more desperate effort to obtain the
throne. But he fell upon the field of battle, his head being cleft
with a saber stroke.



From 1167 to 1212.

Centralization of Power at Kief.--Death of Rostislaf.--His Religious
Character.--Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch Ascends the Throne.--Proclamation of
the King.--Its Effect.--Plans of André.--Scenes at Kief.--Return and
Death of Mstislaf.--War in Novgorod.--Peace Concluded Throughout
Russia.--Insult of André and its Consequences.--Greatness of Soul
Displayed by André.--Assassination of André.--Renewal of
Anarchy.--Emigration from Novgorod.--Reign of Michel.--Vsevolod
III.--Evangelization of Bulgaria.--Death of Vsevolod III.--His Queen

The prince of Souzdal watched the progress of events in occidental
Russia with great interest. He saw clearly that war was impoverishing
and ruining the country, and this led him to adopt the most wise and
vigorous measures to secure peace within his own flourishing
territories. He adopted the system of centralized power, keeping the
reins of government firmly in his own hands, and appointing governors
over remote provinces, who were merely the executors of his will, and
who were responsible to him for all their acts. At Kief the system of
independent apanages prevailed. The lord placed at the head of a
principality was an unlimited despot, accountable to no one but God
for his administration. His fealty to the king consisted merely in an
understanding that he was to follow the banner of the sovereign in
case of war. But in fact, these feudal lords were more frequently
found claiming entire independence, and struggling against their
nominal sovereign to wrest from his hands the scepter.

Rostislaf was now far advanced in years. Conscious that death could
not be far distant, he took a journey, though in very feeble health,
to some of the adjacent provinces, hoping to induce them to receive
his son as his successor. On this journey he died at Smolensk, the
14th of March, 1167. Religious thoughts had in his latter years
greatly engrossed his attention. He breathed his last, praying with a
trembling voice, and fixing his eyes devoutly on an image of the
Saviour which he held devoutly in his hand. He exhibited many
Christian virtues, and for many years manifested much solicitude that
he might be prepared to meet God in judgment. The earnest
remonstrances, alone, of his spiritual advisers, dissuaded him from
abdicating the throne, and adopting the austerities of a monastic
life. He was not a man of commanding character, but it is pleasant to
believe that he was, though groping in much darkness, a sincere
disciple of the Saviour, and that he passed from earth to join the
spirits of the just made perfect in Heaven.

Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch, a nephew of the deceased king, ascended the
throne. He had however uncles, nephews and brothers, who were quite
disposed to dispute with him the possession of power, and soon civil
war was raging all over the kingdom with renewed virulence. Several
years of destruction and misery thus passed away, during which
thousands of the helpless people perished in their blood, to decide
questions of not the slightest moment to them. The doom of the
peasants was alike poverty and toil, whether one lord or another lord
occupied the castle which overshadowed their huts.

The Dnieper was then the only channel through which commerce could be
conducted between Russia and the Greek empire. Barbaric nations
inhabited the shores of this stream, and they had long been held in
check by the Russian armies. But now the kingdom had become so
enfeebled by war and anarchy, all the energies of the Russian princes
being exhausted in civil strife, that the barbarians plundered with
impunity the boats ascending and descending the stream, and eventually
rendered the navigation so perilous, that commercial communication
with the empire was at an end. The Russian princes thus debarred from
the necessaries and luxuries which they had been accustomed to receive
from the more highly civilized and polished Greeks, were impelled to
measures of union for mutual protection. The king, in this emergence,
issued a proclamation which met with a general response.

"Russia, our beloved country," exclaimed Mstislaf, "groans beneath the
stripes which the barbarians are laying upon her, and which we are
unable to avenge. They have taken solemn oaths of friendship, they
have received our presents, and now, regardless of the faith of
treaties, they capture our Christian subjects and drag them as slaves
into their desert wilds. There is no longer any safety for our
merchant boats navigating the Dnieper. The barbarians have taken
possession of that only route through which we can pass into Greece.
It is time for us to resort to new measures of energy. My friends and
my brothers, let us terminate our unnatural war; let us look to God
for help, and, drawing, the sword of vengeance, let us fall in united
strength upon our savage foes. It is glorious to ascend to Heaven from
the field of honor, thus to follow in the footsteps of our father."

This spirited appeal was effective. The princes rallied each at the
head of a numerous band of vassals, and thus a large army was soon
congregated. The desire to punish the insulting barbarians inspired
universal enthusiasm. The masses of the people were aroused to avenge
their friends who had been carried into captivity. The priests, with
prayers and anthems, blessed the banners of the faithful, and, on the
2d of March, 1168, the army, elate with hope and nerved with
vengeance, commenced their descent of the river. The barbarians,
terrified by the storm which they had raised, and from whose fury they
could attain no shelter, fled so precipitately that they left their
wives and their children behind them. The Russians, abandoning the
incumbrance of their baggage, pursued them in the hottest haste. Over
the hills, and through the valleys, and across the streams pursuers
and pursued rushed on, until, at last, the fugitives were overtaken
upon the banks of a deep and rapid stream, which they were unable to
cross. Mercilessly they were massacred, many Russian prisoners were
rescued, and booty to an immense amount was taken, for these river
pirates were rich, having for years been plundering the commerce of
Greece and Russia. According to the custom of those days the booty was
divided between the princes and the soldiers--each man receiving
according to his rank.

As the army returned in triumph to the Dniester, to their boundless
satisfaction they saw the pennants of a merchant fleet ascending the
river from Constantinople, laden with the riches of the empire. The
army crowded the shores and greeted the barges with all the
demonstrations of exultation and joy.

The punishment of the barbarians being thus effectually accomplished,
the princes immediately commenced anew their strife. All their old
feuds were revived. Every lord wished to increase his own power and to
diminish that of his natural rival. André, of Souzdal, to whom we have
before referred, whose capital was the little village of Moscow far
away in the interior, deemed the moment favorable for dethroning
Mstislaf and extending the area of such freedom as his subjects
enjoyed over the realms of Novgorod and Kief. He succeeded in uniting
eleven princes with him in his enterprise. His measures were adopted
with great secresy. Assembling his armies, curtained by leagues of
forests, he, unobserved, commenced his march toward the Dnieper. The
banners of the numerous army were already visible from the steeples of
Kief before the sovereign was apprised of his danger. For two days the
storms of war beat against the walls and roared around the battlements
of the city, when the besiegers, bursting over the walls, swept the
streets in horrid carnage.

This mother of the Russian cities had often been besieged and often
capitulated, but never before had it been taken by storm, and never
before, and never since, have the horrors of war been more sternly
exhibited. For three days and three nights the city and its
inhabitants were surrendered to the brutal soldiery. The imagination
shrinks from contemplating the awful scene. The world of woe may be
challenged to exhibit any thing worse. Fearful, indeed, must be the
corruption when man can be capable of such inhumanity to his fellow
man. War unchains the tiger and shows his nature.

Mstislaf, the sovereign, in the midst of the confusion, the uproar and
the blood, succeeded almost as by miracle in escaping from the
wretched city, basely, however, abandoning his wife and his children
to the enemy. Thus fell Kief. For some centuries it had been the
capital of Russia. It was such no more. The victorious André, of
Moscow, was now, by the energies of his sword, sovereign of the
empire. Kief became but a provincial and a tributary city, which the
sovereign placed under the governorship of his brother Gleb.

Nearly all the provinces of known Russia were now more or less
tributary to André. Three princes only preserved their independence.
As the army of André retired, Gleb was left in possession of the
throne of Kief. In those days there were always many petty princes,
ready to embark with their followers in any enterprise which promised
either glory or booty. Mstislaf, the fugitive sovereign, soon gathered
around him semi-savage bands, entered the province of Kief, plundering
and burning the homes of his former subjects. As he approached Kief,
Gleb, unprepared for efficient resistance, was compelled to seek
safety in flight. The inhabitants of the city, to escape the horrors
of another siege and sack, threw open their gates, and crowded out to
meet their former monarch as a returning friend. Mstislaf entered the
city in triumph and quietly reseated himself upon the throne. He
however ascended it but to die. A sudden disease seized him, and the
songs of triumph which greeted his entrance, died away in requiems and
wailings, as he was borne to the silent tomb. With dying breath he
surrendered his throne to his younger brother Yaroslaf.

André, at Moscow, had other formidable engagements on hand, which
prevented his interposition in the affairs of Kief. The Novgorodians
had bidden defiance to his authority, and their subjugation was
essential, before any troops could be spared to chastise the heir of
Mstislaf. The Novgorodian army had even penetrated the realms of
André, and were exacting tribute from his provinces. The grand prince,
André himself, was far advanced in years, opposed to war, and had
probably been pushed on in his enterprises by the ambition of his son,
who was also named Mstislaf. This young prince was impetuous and
fiery, greedy for military glory, and restless in his graspings for
power. The Novgorodians were also warlike and indomitable. The
conflict between two such powers arrested the attention of all Russia.
Mstislaf made the most extensive preparations for the attack upon the
Novgorodians, and they, in their turn, were equally energetic in
preparations for the defense. The army marched from Moscow, and
following the valley of the Masta, entered the spacious province of
Novgorod. They entered the region, not like wolves, not like men, but
like demons. The torch was applied to every hut, to every village, to
every town. They amused themselves with tossing men, women and
children upon their camp-fires, glowing like furnaces. The sword and
the spear were too merciful instruments of death. The flames of the
burning towns blazed along the horizon night after night, and the cry
of the victims roused the Novgorodians to the intensest thirst for

With the sweep of utter desolation, Mstislaf approached the city, and
when his army stood before the walls, there was behind him a path,
leagues in width, and two hundred miles in length, covered with ruins,
ashes and the bodies of the dead. It was the 25th of February, 1170.
The city was immediately summoned to surrender. The Novgorodians
appalled by the fate of Kief, and by the horrors which had accompanied
the march of Mstislaf, took a solemn oath that they would struggle to
the last drop of blood in defense of their liberties. The clergy in
procession, bearing the image of the Virgin in their arms, traversed
the fortifications of the city, and with prayers, hymns and the most
imposing Christian rites, inspired the soldiers with religious
enthusiasm. The Novgorodians threw themselves upon their knees, and in
simultaneous prayer cried out, with the blending of ten thousand
voices, "O God! come and help us, come and help us." Thus roused to
frenzy, with the clergy chanting hymns of battle and pleading with
Heaven for success, with the image of the Virgin contemplating their
deeds, the soldiers rushed from behind their ramparts upon the foe.
Death was no longer dreaded. The only thought of every man was to sell
his life as dearly as possible.

Such an onset of maniacal energy no mortal force could stand. The
soldiers of Mstislaf fell as the waving grain bows before the tornado.
Their defeat was utter and awful. Mercy was not thought of. Sword and
javelin cried only for blood, blood. The wretched Mstislaf in dismay
fled, leaving two thirds of his army in gory death; and, in his
flight, he met that chastisement which his cruelties merited. He had
to traverse a path two hundred miles in length, along which not one
field of grain had been left undestroyed; where every dwelling was in
ashes, and no animal life whatever had escaped his ravages. Starvation
was his doom. Every rod of the way his emaciated soldiers dropped dead
in their steps. Famine also with all its woes reigned in Novgorod.
Under these circumstances, the two parties consented to peace, the
Novgorodians retaining their independence, but accepting a brother of
the grand prince André to succeed their own prince, who was then at
the point of death.

André, having thus terminated the strife with Novgorod by the peace
which he loved, turned his attention to Kief, and with characteristic
humanity, gratified the wishes of the inhabitants by allowing them to
accept Roman, prince of Smolensk, as their chieftain. Roman entered
the city, greeted by the most flattering testimonials of the joy of
the inhabitants, while they united with him in the oath of allegiance
to André as the sovereign of Russia. André, who was ever disposed to
establish his sovereign power, not by armies but by equity and
moderation, and who seems truly to have felt that the welfare of
Russia required that all its provinces should be united under common
laws and a common sovereign, turned his attention again to Novgorod,
hoping to persuade its inhabitants to relinquish their independence
and ally themselves with the general empire.

Rurik, the brother of André, who had been appointed prince of
Novgorod, proved unpopular, and was driven from his command. André,
instead of endeavoring to force him back upon them by the energies of
his armies, with a wise spirit of conciliation acquiesced in their
movement, and sent to them his young son, George, as a prince,
offering to assist them with his counsel and to aid them with his
military force whenever they should desire it. Thus internal peace was
established throughout the empire. By gradual advances, and with great
sagacity, André, from his humble palace in Moscow, extended his
influence over the remote provinces, and established his power.

The princes of Kief and its adjacent provinces became jealous of the
encroachments of André, and hostile feelings were excited. The king at
length sent an embassador to them with very imperious commands. The
embassador was seized at Kief, his hair and beard shaven, and was then
sent back to Moscow with the defiant message,

"Until now we have wished to respect you as a father; but since you do
not blush to treat us as vassals and as peasants--since you have
forgotten that you speak to princes, we spurn your menaces. Execute
them. We appeal to the judgment of God."

This grievous insult of word and deed roused the indignation of the
aged monarch as it had never been roused before. He assembled an army
of fifty thousand men, who were rendezvoused at Novgorod, and placed
under the command of the king's son, Georges. Another army, nearly
equal in number, was assembled at Tchernigof, collected from the
principalities of Polotsk, Tourof, Grodno, Pinsk and Smolensk. The
bands of this army were under the several princes of the provinces.
Sviatoslaf, grandson of the renowned Oleg, was entrusted with the
supreme command. These two majestic forces were soon combined upon the
banks of the Dnieper. All resistance fled before them, and with
strides of triumph they marched down the valley to Kief. The princes
who had aroused this storm of war fled to Vouoychegorod, an important
fortress further down the river, where they strongly entrenched
themselves, and sternly awaited the advance of the foe. The royalist
forces, having taken possession of Kief, pursued the fugitives. The
march of armies so vast, conducting war upon so grand a scale, excited
the astonishment of all the inhabitants upon the river's banks. A
little fortress, defended by a mere handful of men, appeared to them
an object unworthy of an army sufficiently powerful to crush an

But in the fortress there was perfect unity, and its commander had the
soul of a lion. In the camp of the besiegers there was neither harmony
nor zeal. Many of the princes were inimical to the king, and were
jealous of his growing power. Others were envious of Sviatoslaf, the
commander-in-chief, and were willing to sacrifice their own fame that
he might be humbled. Not a few even were in sympathy with the
insurgents, and were almost disposed to unite under their banners.

It was the 8th of September, 1173, when the royalist forces encircled
the fortress. Gunpowder was then unknown, and contending armies could
only meet hand to hand. For two months the siege was continued, with
bloody conflicts every day. Wintry winds swept the plains, and storms
of snow whitened the fields, when, from the battlements of the
fortress, the besieged saw the banners of another army approaching the
arena. They knew not whether the distant battalions were friends or
foes; but it was certain that their approach would decide the strife,
for each party was so exhausted as to be unable to resist any new
assailants. Soon the signals of war proclaimed that an army was
approaching for the rescue of the fortress. Shouts of exultation rose
from the garrison, which fell like the knell of death upon the ears of
the besiegers, freezing on the plains. The alarm which spread through
the camp was instantaneous and terrible. The darkness of a November
night soon settled down over city and plain. With the first rays of
the morning the garrison were upon the walls, when, to their surprise,
they saw the whole vast army in rapid and disordered flight. The
plains around the fortress were utterly deserted and covered with the
wrecks of war. The garrison immediately rushed from behind their
ramparts united with their approaching friends and pursued the

The royalists, in their dismay, attempted to cross the river on the
fragile ice. It broke beneath the enormous weight, and thousands
perished in the cold stream. The remainder of this great host were
almost to a man either slain or taken captive. Their whole camp and
baggage fell into the hands of the conquerors. This wonderful victory,
achieved by the energies of Mstislaf, has given him a name in Russian
annals as one of the most renowned and brave of the princes of the

George, prince of Novgorod, son of André, escaped from the carnage of
that ensanguined field, and overwhelmed with shame, returned to his
father in Moscow. The king, in this extremity, developed true
greatness of soul. He exhibited neither dejection nor anger, but bowed
to the calamity as to a chastisement he needed from God. The victory
of the insurgents, if they may be so called, who occupied the
provinces in the valley of the Dnieper, was not promotive either of
prosperity or peace. Mindful of the former grandeur of Kief, as the
ancient capital of the Russian empire, ambitious princes were
immediately contending for the possession of that throne. After
several months of confusion and blood, André succeeded, by skillful
diplomacy, in again inducing them, for the sake of general
tranquillity, to come under the general government of the empire. The
nobles could not but respect him as the most aged of their princes; as
a man of imperial energy and ability, and as the one most worthy to be
their chief. He alone had the power to preserve tranquillity in
extended Russia. They therefore applied to him to take Kief, under
certain restrictions, again into his protection, and to nominate for
that city a prince who should be in his alliance. This homage was
acceptable to André.

But while he was engaged in this negotiation, a conspiracy was formed
against the monarch, and he was cruelly assassinated. It was the night
of the 29th of June, 1174. The king was sleeping in a chateau, two
miles from Moscow. At midnight the conspirators, twenty in number,
having inflamed themselves with brandy, burst into the house and
rushed towards the chamber where the aged monarch was reposing. The
clamor awoke the king, and he sprang from the bed just as two of the
conspirators entered his chamber. Aged as the monarch was, with one
blow of his vigorous arm he felled the foremost to the floor. The
comrade of the assassin, in the confusion, thinking it was the king
who had fallen, plunged his poignard to the hilt in his companion's
breast. Other assassins rushed in and fell upon the monarch. He was a
man of gigantic powers, and struggled against his foes with almost
supernatural energy, filling the chateau with his shrieks for help.
At last, pierced with innumerable wounds, he fell in his blood,
apparently silent in death. The assassins, terrified by the horrible
scene, and apprehensive that the guard might come to the rescue of the
king, caught up their dead comrade and fled.

The monarch had, however, but fainted. He almost instantly revived,
and with impetuosity and bravery, seized his sword and gave chase to
the murderers, shouting with all his strength to his attendants to
hasten to his aid. The assassins turned upon him. They had lanterns in
their hands, and were twenty to one. The first blow struck off the
right arm of the king; a saber thrust pierced his heart, passed
through his body, and the monarch fell dead. His last words were,
"Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit." There is, to this day,
preserved a cimeter of Grecian workmanship, which tradition says was
the sword of André. Upon the blade is inscribed in Greek letters,
"Holy mother of God, assist thy servant."

The death of the monarch was the signal for the universal outbreak of
violence and crime. Where the sovereign is the only law, the death of
the monarch is the destruction of the government. The anarchy which
sometimes succeeded his death was awful. The Russian annalists cherish
the memory of André affectionately. They say that he was courageous,
sagacious and a true Christian, and that he merited the title he has
received of a second Solomon. Had he established his throne in the
more central city of Kief instead of the remote village of Moscow, he
could more efficiently have governed the empire; but, blinded by his
love for his own northern realms, he was ambitious of elevating his
own native village, unfavorable as was its location, into the capital
of the empire. During his whole reign he manifested great zeal in
extending Christianity through the empire, and evinced great interest
in efforts for the conversion of the Jews.

Just before the death of the king, a number of the inhabitants of
Novgorod, fatigued with civil strife and crowded out by the density of
the population, formed a party to emigrate to the uninhabited lands
far away in the East. Traversing a region of about three hundred miles
on the parallel of fifty-seven degrees of latitude, they reached the
head waters of the Volga. Here they embarked in boats and drifted down
the wild stream for a thousand miles to the mouth of the river Kama,
where they established a colony. At this point they were twelve
hundred miles north of the point where the Volga empties into the
Caspian. Other adventurers soon followed, and flourishing colonies
sprang up all along the banks of the Kama and the Viatha. This region
was the Missouri valley of Russia. By this emigration the Russian
name, its manners, its institutions, were extended through a sweep of
a thousand miles.

The colonists had many conflicts with the aboriginal inhabitants, but
Russian civilization steadily advanced over barbaric force.

Soon after the death of André, the nobles of that region met in a
public assembly to organize some form of confederate government. One
of the speakers rose and said, "No one is ignorant of the manner in
which we have lost our king. He has left but one son, who reigns at
Novgorod. The brothers of André are in southern Russia. Who then shall
we choose for our sovereign? Let us elect Michel, of Tchernigof. He is
the oldest son of Monomaque and the most ancient of the princes of his

Embassadors were immediately sent to Michel, offering him the throne
and promising him the support of the confederate princes. Michel
hastened to Moscow with a strong army, supported by several princes,
and took possession of Moscow and the adjacent provinces. A little
opposition was manifested, which he speedily quelled with the sword.
Great rejoicings welcomed the enthronement of a new prince and the
restoration of order. Michel proved worthy of his elevation. He
immediately traversed the different provinces in that region, and
devoted himself to the tranquillity and prosperity of his people. The
popularity of the new sovereign was at its height. All lips praised
him, all hearts loved him. He was declared to be a special gift which
Heaven, in its boundless mercy, had conferred. Unfortunately, this
virtuous prince reigned but one year, leaving, however, in that short
time, upon the Russian annals many memorials of his valor and of his
virtue. It was a barbaric age, rife with perfidy and crime, yet not
one act of treachery or cruelty has sullied his name. It was his
ambition to be the father of his people, and the glory he sought was
the happiness and the greatness of his country.

Southern Russia was still the theater of interminable civil war. The
provinces were impoverished, and Kief was fast sinking to decay.
Michel had a brother, Vsevelod, who had accompanied him to Moscow. The
nobles and the leading citizens, their eyes still dim with the tears
which they had shed over the tomb of their sovereign, urged him to
accept the crown. He was not reluctant to accede to their request, and
received their oaths of fidelity to him under the title of Vsevelod
III. His title, however, was disputed by distant princes, and an armed
band, approaching Moscow by surprise, seized the town and reduced it
to ashes, ravaged the surrounding region, and carried off the women
and children as captives. Vsevelod was, at the time, absent in the
extreme northern portion of his territory, but he turned upon his
enemies with the heart and with the strength of a lion. It was
midwinter. Regardless of storms, and snow and cold, he pursued the foe
like the north wind, and crushed them as with an iron hand. With a
large number of prisoners he returned to the ruins of Moscow.

Two of the most illustrious of the hostile princes were among the
prisoners. The people, enraged at the destruction of their city, fell
upon the captives, and, seizing the two princes, tore out their eyes.

Vsevelod was a young man who had not acquired renown. Many of the
warlike princes of the spacious provinces regarded his elevation with
envy. Sviatoslaf, prince of Tchernigof, was roused to intense
hostility, and gathering around him the nobles of his province,
resolved with a vigorous arm to seize for himself the throne.
Enlisting in his interests several other princes, he commenced his
march against his sovereign. Vsevelod prepared with vigor to repulse
his assailants. After long and weary marchings the two armies met in
the defiles of the mountains. A swift mountain-stream rushing along
its rocky bed, between deep and precipitous banks, separated the
combatants. For a fortnight they vainly assailed each other, hurling
clouds of arrows and javelins across the stream, which generally fell
harmless upon brazen helmet and buckler. But few were wounded, and
still fewer slain. Yet neither party dared venture the passage of the
stream in the presence of the other. At length, weary of the
unavailing conflict, Sviatoslaf, the insurgent chief, sent a challenge
to Vsevelod, the sovereign.

"Let God," said he, "decide the dispute between us. Let us enter into
the open field with our two armies, and submit the question to the
arbitrament of battle. You may choose either side of the river which
you please."

Vsevelod did not condescend to make any reply to the rebellious
prince. Seizing his embassadors, he sent them as captives to Vlademer,
a fortress some hundred miles east of Moscow. He hoped thus to provoke
Sviatoslaf to attempt the passage of the stream. But Sviatoslaf was
not to be thus entrapped. Breaking up his camp, he retired to
Novgorod, where he was received with rejoicings by the inhabitants.
Here he established himself as a monarch, accumulated his forces, and
began, by diplomacy and by arms, to extend his conquests over the
adjacent principalities. He sent a powerful army to descend the banks
of the Dnieper, capturing all the cities on the right hand and on the
left, and binding the inhabitants by oaths of allegiance. The army
advancing with resistless strides arrived before the walls of Kief,
took possession of the deserted palaces of this ancient capital, and
Sviatoslaf proclaimed himself monarch of southern Russia.

But while Sviatoslaf was thus prosecuting his conquests, at the
distance of four hundred miles south of Novgorod, Vsevelod advanced
with an army to this city, and was in his turn received by the
Novgorodians with the ringing of bells, bonfires and shouts of
welcome. All the surrounding princes and nobles promptly gave in their
adhesion to the victorious sovereign, and Sviatoslaf found that all
his conquests had vanished as by magic from beneath his hand.

Under these circumstances, Vsevelod and Sviatoslaf were both inclined
to negotiation. As the result, it was agreed that Vsevelod should be
recognized as the monarch of Russia, and that Sviatoslaf should reign
as tributary prince of Kief. To bind anew the ties of friendship,
Vsevelod gave in marriage his beautiful sister to the youngest son of
Sviatoslaf. Thus this civil strife was terminated.

But the gates of the temple of Janus were not yet to be closed.
Foreign war now commenced, and raged with unusual ferocity. Six
hundred miles east of Moscow, was the country of Bulgaria. It
comprehended the present Russian province of Orenburg, and was bounded
on the east by the Ural mountains, and on the west by the Volga. A
population of nearly a million and a half inhabited this mountainous
realm. Commerce and arts flourished, and the people were enriched by
their commerce with the Grecian empire. They were, however,
barbarians, and as even in the nineteenth century the slave trade is
urged as a means of evangelizing the heathen of Africa, war was urged
with all its carnage and woe, as the agent of disseminating
Christianity through pagan Bulgaria. The motive assigned for the war,
was to serve Christ, by the conversion of the infidel. The motives
which influenced, were ambition, love of conquest and the desire to
add to the opulence and the power of Russia.

Vsevelod made grand preparations for this enterprise. Conferring with
the warlike Sviatoslaf and other ambitious princes, a large army was
collected at the head waters of the Volga. They floated down the wild
stream, in capacious flat-bottomed barges, till they came to the mouth
of the Kama. Thus far their expedition had been like the jaunt of a
gala day. Summer warmth and sunny skies had cheered them as they
floated down the romantic stream, through forests, between mountains
and along flowery savannas, with pennants floating gayly in the air,
and music swelling from their martial bands. War has always its
commencement of pomp and pageantry, followed by its terminations of
woe and despair.

Vsevelod in person led the army. Near the mouth of the Kama they
abandoned their flotilla, which could not be employed in ascending the
rapid stream. Continuing their march by land, they pushed boldly into
the country of the Bulgarians, and laid siege to their capital, which
was called "The Great City." For six days the battle raged, and the
city was taken. It proved, however, to be but a barren conquest. An
arrow from the walls pierced the side of a beloved nephew of Vsevelod.
The young man, in excruciating agony, died in the arms of the monarch.
Vsevelod was so much affected by the sufferings which he was thus
called to witness, that, dejected and disheartened, he made the best
terms he could, soothing his pride by extorting from the vanquished a
vague acknowledgment of subjection to the empire. He then commenced
his long march of toil and suffering back again to Moscow, over vast
plains and through dense forests, having really accomplished nothing
of any moment.

The reign of Vsevelod continued for thirty-seven years. It was a scene
of incessant conflict with insurgent princes disputing his power and
struggling for the supremacy. Often his imperial title was merely
nominal. Again a successful battle would humble his foes and bring
them in subjection to the foot of his throne. But, on the whole,
during his reign the fragmentary empire gained solidity, the
monarchical arm gained strength, and the sovereign obtained a more
marked supremacy above the rival princes who had so long disputed the
power of the throne. Vsevelod died, generally regretted, on the 12th
of April, 1212. In the Russian annals, he has received the surname of
Great. His reign, compared with that of most of his predecessors, was
happy. He left, in churches and in fortresses, many monuments of his
devotion and of his military skill.

His wife, Maria, seems to have been a woman of sincere piety. Her
brief pilgrimage on earth, passed six hundred years ago, led her
through the same joys and griefs which in the nineteenth century
oppress human hearts. The last seven years of her life she passed on a
bed of sickness and extreme suffering. The patience she displayed
caused her to be compared with the patriarch Job. Just before she
died, she assembled her six surviving children around her bed. As with
tears they gazed upon the emaciated cheeks of their beloved and dying
mother, she urged them to love God, to study the Bible, to give their
hearts to the Saviour and to live for heaven. She died universally
regretted and revered.

The reign of Vsevelod was cotemporaneous with the conquest of
Constantinople by the crusaders. The Latin or Roman church thus for a
season extended its dominion over the Greek or Eastern church. The
French and Venetians; robbed the rich churches of Constantine of their
paintings, statuary, relics and all their treasures of art. The Greek
emperor himself fled in disguise to Thrace.

The Roman pontiff, Innocent III., deeming this a favorable moment to
supplant the Greek religion in Russia, sent letters to the Russian
clergy, in which he said:

"The religion of Rome is becoming universally triumphant. The whole
Grecian empire has recognized the spiritual power of the pope. Will
you be the only people who refuse to enter into the fold of Christ,
and to recognize the Roman church as the ark of salvation, out of
which no one can be saved? I have sent to you a cardinal; a man noble,
well-instructed, and legate of the successors of the Apostles. He has
received full power to enlighten the minds of the Russians, and to
rescue them from all their errors."

This pastoral exhortation was entirely unavailing. The bishops and
clergy of the Russian church still pertinaciously adhered to the faith
of their fathers. The crusaders were ere long driven from the imperial
city, and the Greek church again attained its supremacy in the East, a
supremacy which it has maintained to the present day.



From 1212 to 1238.

Accession of Georges.--Famine.--Battle of Lipetsk.--Defeat of
Georges.--His Surrender.--Constantin Seizes the Scepter.--Exploits of
Mstislaf.--Imbecility of Constantin.--Death of Constantin.--Georges
III.--Invasion of Bulgaria.--Progress of the Monarchy.--Right of
Succession.--Commerce of the Dnieper.--Genghis Khan.--His Rise and
Conquests.--Invasion of Southern Russia.--Death of Genghis
Khan.--Succession of his Son Ougadai.--March of Bati.--Entrance into
Russia.--Utter Defeat of the Russians.

Moscow was the capital of a province then called Souzdal. North-west
of this province there was another large principality called
Vladimir, with a capital of the same name. North of these provinces
there was an extensive territory named Yaroslavle. Immediately after
the death of Vsevolod, a brother of the deceased monarch, named
Georges, ascended the throne with the assent of all the nobles of
Souzdal and Vladimir. At the same time his brother Constantin, prince
of Yaroslavle, claimed the crown. Eager partizans rallied around the
two aspirants. Constantin made the first move by burning the town of
Kostroma and carrying off the inhabitants as captives. Georges replied
by an equally sanguinary assault upon Rostof. Such, war has ever been.
When princes quarrel, being unable to strike each other, they wreak
their vengeance upon innocent and helpless villages, burning their
houses, slaying sons and brothers, and either dragging widows and
orphans into captivity or leaving them to perish of exposure and

In this conflict Georges was victor, and he assigned to his brothers
and cousins the administration of the provinces of southern Russia.
Still the ancient annals give us nothing but a dreary record of war. A
very energetic prince arose, by the name of Mstislaf, who, for years,
strode over subjugated provinces, desolating them with fire and sword.
Another horrible famine commenced its ravages at this time, caused
principally by the desolations of war, throughout all northern and
eastern Russia. The starving inhabitants ate the bark of trees, leaves
and the most disgusting reptiles. The streets were covered with the
bodies of the dead, abandoned to the dogs. Crowds of skeleton men and
women wandered through the fields, in vain seeking food, and ever
dropping in the convulsions of death. Christian faith is stunned in
the contemplation of such woes, and yet it sees in them but the fruits
of man's depravity. The enigma of life can find no solution but in
divine revelation--and even that revelation does but show in what
direction the solution lies.

Mstislaf of Novgorod, encouraged by his military success, and
regardless of the woes of the populace, entered into an alliance with
Constantin, promising, with his aid, to drive Georges from the throne,
and to place the scepter in the hands of Constantin. The king sent an
army of ten thousand men against the insurgents. All over Russia there
was the choosing of sides, as prince after prince ranged his followers
under the banners of one or of the other of the combatants. At last
the two armies met upon the banks of the river Kza. The Russian
annalists say that the sovereign was surrounded with the banners of
thirty regiments, accompanied by a military band of one hundred and
forty trumpets and drums.

The insurgent princes, either alarmed by the power of the sovereign,
or anxious to spare the effusion of blood, proposed terms of

"It is too late to talk of peace," said Georges. "You are now as
fishes on the land. You have advanced too far, and your destruction is

The embassadors retired in sadness. Georges then assembled his
captains, and gave orders to form the troops in line of battle.
Addressing the troops, he said:

"Let no soldier's life be spared. Aim particularly at the officers.
The helmets, the clothes and the horses of the dead shall belong to
you. Let us not be troubled with any prisoners. The princes alone may
be taken captive, and reserved for public execution."

Both parties now prepared, with soundings of the trumpet and shoutings
of the soldiers, for combat. It was in the early dawn of the morning
that the celebrated battle of Lipetsk commenced. The arena of strife
was a valley, broken by rugged hills, on the head waters of the Don,
about two hundred miles south of Moscow. It was a gloomy day of wind,
and clouds and rain; and while the cruel tempest of man's passion
swept the earth, an elemental tempest wrecked the skies. From the
morning till the evening twilight the battle raged, inspired by the
antagonistic forces of haughty confidence and of despair. Darkness
separated the combatants, neither party having gained any decisive

The night was freezing cold, a chill April wind sweeping the mists
over the heights, upon which the two hosts, exhausted and bleeding,
slept upon their arms, each fearing a midnight surprise. With the
earliest dawn of the next morning the battle was renewed; both armies
defiantly and simultaneously moving down from the hills to meet on the
plains. Mstislaf rode along the ranks of his troops, exclaiming:

"Let no man turn his head. Retreat now is destruction. Let us forget
our wives and children, and fight for our lives."

His soldiers, with shouts of enthusiasm, threw aside all encumbering
clothes, and uttering those loud outcries with which semi-barbarians
ever rush into battle, impetuously fell upon the advancing foe.
Mstislaf was a prince of herculean stature and strength. With a
battle-ax in his hands, he advanced before the troops, and it is
recorded that, striking on the right hand and the left, he cut a path
through the ranks of the enemy as a strong man would trample down the
grain. A wake of the dead marked his path. It was one of the most
deplorable of Russian battles, for the dispute had arrayed the son
against the father, brother against brother, friend against friend.

The victory, however, was now not for a moment doubtful. The royal
forces were entirely routed, and were pursued with enormous slaughter
by the victorious Mstislaf. Nearly ten thousand of the followers of
Georges were slain upon the field of battle. Georges having had three
horses killed beneath him, escaped, and on the fourth day reached
Vladimir, where he found only old men, women, children and
ecclesiastics, so entirely had he drained the country for the war. The
king himself was the first to announce to the citizens of Vladimir the
terrible defeat. Wan from fatigue and suffering, he rode in at the
gates, his hair disheveled, and his clothing torn. As he traversed the
streets, he called earnestly upon all who remained to rally upon the
walls for their defense. It was late in the afternoon when the king
reached the metropolis. During the night a throng of fugitives was
continually entering the city, wounded and bleeding. In the early
morning, the king assembled the citizens in the public square, and
urged them to a desperate resistance. But they, disheartened by the
awful reverse, exclaimed:

"Prince, courage can no longer save us. Our brethren have perished on
the field of battle. Those who have escaped are wounded, exhausted and
unarmed. We are unable to oppose the enemy."

Georges entreated them to make at least a show of resistance, that he
might open negotiations with the foe. Soon Mstislaf appeared, leading
his troops in solid phalanx, with waving banners and trumpet blasts,
and surrounded the city. In the night, a terrible conflagration burst
forth within the city, and his soldiers entreated him to take
advantage of the confusion for an immediate assault. The magnanimous
conqueror refused to avail himself of the calamity, and restrained the
ardor of his troops. The next morning, Georges despairing of any
further defense, rode from the gates into the camp of Mstislaf.

"You are victorious," said he. "Dispose of me and my fortunes as you
will. My brother Constantin will be obedient to your wishes."

The unhappy prince was sent into exile. Embarking, with his wife and
children, and a few faithful followers, in barges, at the head waters
of the Volga, he floated down the stream towards the Caspian Sea, and
disappeared for ever from the observation of history.

Constantin was now raised to the imperial throne through the energies
of Mstislaf. This latter prince returned to his domains in Novgorod,
and under the protection of the throne he rivaled the monarch in
splendor and power. Constantin established his capital at Vladimir,
about one hundred and fifty miles west of Moscow. The warlike
Mstislaf, greedy of renown, with the chivalry of a knight-errant,
sought to have a hand in every quarrel then raging far or near.
Southern Russia continued in a state of incessant embroilments; and
the princes of the provinces, but nominally in subjection to the
crown, lived in a state of interminable war. Occasionally they would
sheath the sword of civil strife and combine in some important
expedition against the Hungarians or the Poles.

But tranquillity reigned in the principality of Vladimir; and the
adjacent provinces, influenced by the pacific policy of the sovereign,
or overawed by his power, cultivated the arts of peace. Constantin,
however, was effeminate as well as peaceful. The tremendous energy of
Mstislaf had shed some luster upon him, and thus, for a time, it was
supposed that he possessed a share, no one knew how great, of that
extraordinary vigor which had placed him on the throne. But now,
Mstislaf was far away on bloody fields in Hungary, and the princes in
the vicinity of Vladimir soon found that Constantin had no spirit to
resent any of their encroachments. Enormous crimes were perpetrated
with impunity. Princes were assassinated, and the murderers seized
their castles and their scepters, while the imbecile Constantin,
instead of avenging such outrages, contented himself with shedding
tears, building churches, distributing alms, and kissing the relics of
the saints, which had been sent to him from Constantinople. Thus he
lived for several years, a superstitious, perhaps a pious man; but, so
utterly devoid of energy, of enlightened views respecting his duty as
a ruler, that the helpless were unprotected, and the wicked rioted
unpunished in crime. He died in the year 1219 at the early age of
thirty-three. Finding death approaching, he called his two sons to his
bedside, and exhorted them to live in brotherly affection, to be the
benefactors of widows and orphans, and especially to be the supporters
of religion. The wife of Constantin, imbibing his spirit, immediately
upon his death renounced the world, and retiring to the cloisters of a
convent, immured herself in its glooms until she also rejoined her
husband in the spirit land.

Georges II., son of Vsevelod, now ascended the throne. He signalized
the commencement of his reign by a military excursion to oriental
Bulgaria. Descending the Volga in barges to the mouth of the Kama, he
invaded, with a well-disciplined army, the realm he wished to
subjugate. The Russians approached the city of Ochel. It was strongly
fortified with palisades and a double wall of wood. The assailants
approached, led by a strong party with hatchets and torches. They were
closely followed by archers and lancers to drive the defenders from
the ramparts. The palisades were promptly cut down and set on fire.
The flames spread to the wooden walls; and over the burning ruins the
assailants rushed into the city. A high wind arose, and the whole
city, whose buildings were constructed of wood only, soon blazed like
a volcano. The wretched citizens had but to choose between the swords
of the Russians and the fire. Many, in their despair, plunged their
poignards into the bosoms of their wives and children, and then buried
the dripping blade in their own hearts. Multitudes of the Russians,
even, encircled by the flames in the narrow streets, miserably
perished. In a few hours the city and nearly all of its male
inhabitants were destroyed. Extensive regions of the country were then
ravaged, and Bulgaria, as a conquered province, was considered as
annexed to the Russian empire. Georges enriched with plunder and
having extorted oaths of allegiance from most of the Bulgarian
princes, reascended the Volga to Vladimir. As he was on his return he
laid the foundations of a new city, Nijni Novgorod, at the confluence
of two important streams about two hundred miles west of Moscow. The
city remains to the present day.

It will be perceived through what slow and vacillating steps the
Russian monarchy was established. In the earliest dawn of the kingdom,
Yaroslaf divided Russia into five principalities. To his eldest son he
gave the title of Grand Prince, constituting him, by his will, chief
or monarch of the whole kingdom. His younger brothers were placed over
the principalities, holding them as vassals of the grand prince at
Kief, and transmitting the right of succession to their children.
Ysiaslaf, and some of his descendants, men of great energy, succeeded
in holding under more or less of restraint the turbulent princes, who
were simply entitled _princes_, to distinguish them from the _Grand
Prince_ or monarch. These princes had under them innumerable vassal
lords, who, differing in wealth and extent of dominions, governed,
with despotic sway, the serfs or peasants subject to their power. No
government could be more simple than this; and it was the necessary
resultant of those stormy times.

But in process of time feeble grand princes reigned at Kief. The
vassal princes, strengthening themselves in alliances with one
another, or seeking aid from foreign semi-civilized nations, such as
the Poles, the Danes, the Hungarians, often imposed laws upon their
nominal sovereign, and not unfrequently drove him from the throne, and
placed upon it a monarch of their own choice. Sviatopolk II. was
driven to the humiliation of appearing to defend himself from
accusation before the tribunal of his vassal princes. Monomaque and
Mstislaf I., with imperial energy, brought all the vassal princes in
subjection to their scepter, and reigned as monarchs. But their
successors, not possessing like qualities, were unable to maintain the
regal dignity; and gradually Kief sank into a provincial town, and the
scepter was transferred to the principality of Souzdal.

André, of Souzdal, abolished the system of _appanages_, as it was
called, in which the principalities were in entire subjection to the
princes who reigned over them, these princes only rendering vassal
service to the sovereign. He, in their stead, appointed governors over
the distant provinces, who were his agents to execute his commands.
This measure gave new energy and consolidation to the monarchy, and
added incalculable strength to the regal arm. But the grand princes,
who immediately succeeded André, had not efficiency to maintain this
system, and the princes again regained their position of comparative
independence. Indeed, they were undisputed sovereigns of their
principalities, bound only to recognize the superior rank of the grand
prince, and to aid him, when called upon, as allies.

In process of time the princes of the five great principalities,
Pereiaslavle, Tchernigof, Kief, Novgorod and Smolensk, were
subdivided, through the energies of warlike nobles, into minor
appanages, or independent provinces, independent in every thing save
feudal service, a service often feebly recognized and dimly defined.
The sovereigns of the great provinces assumed the title of Grand
Princes. The smaller sovereigns were simply called Princes. Under
these princes were the petty lords or nobles. The spirit of all evil
could not have devised a system better calculated to keep a nation
incessantly embroiled in war. The princes of Novgorod claimed the
right of choosing their grand prince. In all the other provinces the
scepter was nominally hereditary. In point of fact, it was only
hereditary when the one who ascended the throne had sufficient vigor
of arm to beat back his assailing foes. For two hundred years, during
nearly all of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it is with
difficulty we can discern any traces of the monarchy. The history of
Russia during this period is but a history of interminable battles
between the grand princes, and petty, yet most cruel and bloody,
conflicts between the minor princes.

The doctrine of the hereditary descent of the governing power was the
cause of nearly all these conflicts. A semi-idiot or a brutal ruffian
was thus often found the ruler of millions of energetic men. War and
bloodshed were, of course, the inevitable result. This absurdity was,
perhaps, a necessary consequence of the ignorance and brutality of the
times. But happy is that nation which is sufficiently enlightened to
choose its own magistrates and to appreciate the sanctity of the
ballot-box. The history of the United States thus far, with its
elective administrations, is a marvel of tranquillity, prosperity and
joy, as it is recorded amidst the bloody pages of this world's annals.

According to the ancient custom of Russia, the right of succession
transferred the crown, not to the oldest son, but to the brother or
the most aged member belonging to the family connections of the
deceased prince. The energetic Monomaque violated this law by
transferring the crown to his son, when, by custom, it should have
passed to the prince of Tchernigof. Hence, for ages, there was
implacable hatred between these two houses, and Russia was crimsoned
with the blood of a hundred battle-fields.

Nearly all the commerce of Russia, at this time, was carried on
between Kief and Constantinople by barges traversing the Dnieper and
the Black Sea. These barges went strongly armed as a protection
against the barbarians who crowded the banks of the river. The stream,
being thus the great thoroughfare of commerce, received the popular
name of _The Road to Greece_. The Russians exported rich furs in
exchange for the cloths and spices of the East. As the Russian power
extended toward the rising sun, the Volga and the Caspian Sea became
the highways of a prosperous, though an interrupted, commerce. It
makes the soul melancholy to reflect upon these long, long ages of
rapine, destruction and woe. But for this, had man been true to
himself, the whole of Russia might now have been almost a garden of
Eden, with every marsh drained, every stream bridged, every field
waving with luxuriance, every deformity changed into an object of
beauty, with roads and canals intersecting every mile of its
territory, with gorgeous cities embellishing the rivers' banks and the
mountain sides, and cottages smiling upon every plain. Man has no foe
to his happiness so virulent and deadly as his brother man. The
heaviest curse is human depravity.

We now approach, in the early part of the thirteenth century, one of
the most extraordinary events which has occurred in the history of
man: the sweep of Tartar hordes over all of northern Asia and Europe,
under their indomitable leader, Genghis Khan.

In the extreme north of the Chinese empire, just south of Irkoutsk, in
the midst of desert wilds, unknown to Greek or Roman, there were
wandering tribes called Mogols. They were a savage, vagabond race,
without any fixed habitations, living by the chase and by herding
cattle. The chief of one of these tribes, greedy of renown and power,
conquered several of the adjacent tribes, and brought them into very
willing subjection to his sway. War was a pastime for their fierce
spirits, and their bold chief led them to victory and abundant booty.
This barbarian conqueror, Bayadour by name, died in the prime of
life, surrendering his wealth and power to his son, Temoutchin, then
but thirteen years of age. This boy thus found himself lord of forty
thousand families. Still he was but a subordinate prince or khan,
owing allegiance to the Tartar sovereign of northern China. Brought up
by his mother in the savage simplicity of a wandering shepherd's hut,
he developed a character which made him the scourge of the world, and
one of its most appalling wonders. The most illustrious monarchies
were overturned by the force of his arms, and millions of men were
brought into subjection to his power.

At the death of his father, Bayadour, many of the subjugated clans
endeavored to break the yoke of the boy prince. Temoutchin, with the
vigor and military sagacity of a veteran warrior, assembled an army of
thirty thousand men, defeated the rebels, and plunged their leaders,
seventy in number, each into a caldron of boiling water. Elated by
such brilliant success, the young prince renounced allegiance to the
Tartar sovereign and assumed independence. Terrifying his enemies by
severity, rewarding his friends with rich gifts, and overawing the
populace by claims of supernatural powers, this extraordinary young
man commenced a career of conquest which the world has never seen

Assembling his ferocious hordes, now enthusiastically devoted to his
service, upon the banks of a rapid river, he took a solemn oath to
share with them all the bitter and the sweet which he should encounter
in the course of his life. The neighboring prince of Kerait ventured
to draw the sword against him. He forfeited his head for his audacity,
and his skull, trimmed with silver, was converted into a drinking cup.
At the close of this expedition, his vast army were disposed in nine
different camps, upon the head waters of the river Amour. Each
division had tents of a particular color. On a festival day, as all
were gazing with admiration upon their youthful leader, a hermit, by
previous secret appointment, appeared as a prophet from heaven.
Approaching the prince, the pretended embassador from the celestial
court, declared, in a loud voice,

"God has given the whole earth to Temoutchin. As the sovereign of the
world, he is entitled to the name of Genghis Khan (_the great

No one was disposed to question the divine authority of this envoy
from the skies. Shouts of applause rent the air, and chiefs and
warriors, with unanimous voice, expressed their eagerness to follow
their leader wherever he might guide them. Admiration of his prowess
and the terror of his arms spread far and wide, and embassadors
thronged his tent from adjacent nations, wishing to range themselves
beneath his banners. Even the monarch of Thibet, overawed, sent
messengers to offer his service as a vassal prince to Genghis Khan.

The conqueror now made an irruption into China proper, and with his
wolfish legions, clambering the world-renowned wall, routed all the
armies raised to oppose him, and speedily was master of ninety cities.
Finding himself encumbered with a crowd of prisoners, he selected a
large number of the aged and choked them to death. The sovereign,
thoroughly humiliated, purchased peace by a gift of five hundred young
men, five hundred beautiful girls, three thousand horses and an
immense quantity of silks and gold. Genghis Khan retired to the north
with his treasures; but soon again returned, and laid siege to Pekin,
the capital of the empire. With the energies of despair, though all
unavailingly, the inhabitants attempted their defense. It was the year
1215 when Pekin fell before the arms of the Mogol conqueror. The whole
city was immediately committed to flames, and the wasting
conflagration raged for a whole month, when nothing was left of the
once beautiful and populous city but a heap of ashes.

Leaving troops in garrison throughout the subjugated country, the
conqueror commenced his march towards the west, laden with the spoils
of plundered cities. Like the rush of a torrent, his armies swept
along until they entered the vast wilds of Turkomania. Here the "great
and the mighty Saladin" had reigned, extending his sway from the
Caspian Sea to the Ganges, dictating laws even to the Caliph at
Bagdad, who was the Pope of the Mohammedans. Mahomet II. now held the
throne, a prince so haughty and warlike, that he arrogated the name of
the second Alexander the Great. With two such spirits heading their
armies, a horrible war ensued. The capital of this region, Bokhara,
had attained a very considerable degree of civilization, and was
renowned for its university, where the Mohammedan youth, of noble
families, were educated. The city, after an unavailing attempt at
defense, was compelled to capitulate. The elders of the metropolis
brought the keys and laid them at the feet of the conqueror. Genghis
Khan rode contemptuously on horseback into the sacred mosque, and
seizing the Alcoran from the altar, threw it upon the floor and
trampled it beneath the hoofs of his steed. The whole city was
inhumanly reduced to ashes.

From Bokhara he advanced to Samarcande. This city was strongly
fortified, and contained a hundred thousand soldiers within its walls,
besides an immense number of elephants trained to fight. The city was
soon taken. Thirty thousand were slain, and thirty thousand carried
into perpetual slavery. All the adjacent cities soon shared a similar
fate. For three years the armies of Genghis Khan ravaged the whole
country between the Aral lake and the Indus, with such fearful
devastation that for six hundred years the region did not recover from
the calamity. Mahomet II., pursued by his indefatigable foe, fled to
one of the islands of the Caspian Sea, where he perished in paroxysms
of rage and despair.

Genghis Khan having thoroughly subdued this whole region, now sent a
division of his army, under two of his most distinguished generals,
across the Caspian Sea to subjugate the regions on the western shore.
Here, as before, victory accompanied their standards, and, with
merciless severity, they swept the whole country to the sea of Azof.
The tidings of their advance, so bloody, so resistless, spread into
Russia, exciting universal terror. The conquerors, elated with
success, rushed on over the plains of Russia, and were already pouring
down into the valley of the Dnieper. Mstislaf, prince of Galitch,
already so renowned for his warlike exploits, was eager to measure
arms with those soldiers, the terror of whose ravages now filled the
world. He hurriedly assembled all the neighboring princes at Kief, and
urged immediate and vigorous coöperation to repel the common foe. The
Russian army was promptly rendezvoused on the banks of the Dnieper,
preparatory to its march. Another large army was collected by the
Russian princes who inhabited the valley of the Dniester. In a
thousand barges they descended the river to the Black Sea. Then
entering the Dnieper they ascended the stream to unite with the main
army waiting impatiently their arrival.

On the 21st of May, the whole force was put in motion, and after a
march of nine days, met the Tartar army on the banks of the river
Kalets. The waving banners and the steeds of the Tartar host, covering
the plains as far as the eye could extend, in numbers apparently
countless, presented an appalling spectacle. Many of the Russian
leaders were quite in despair; others, young, ardent, inexperienced,
were eager for the fight. The battle immediately commenced, and the
combatants fought with all the ferocity which human energies could
engender. But the Russians were, in the end, routed entirely. The
Tartars drove the bleeding fugitives in wild confusion before them
back to the Dnieper. Never before had Russia encountered so frightful
a disaster. The whole army was destroyed. Not one tenth of their
number escaped that field of massacre. Seven princes, and seventy of
the most illustrious nobles were among the slain. The Tartars followed
up their victory with their accustomed inhumanity, and, as if it were
their intention to depopulate the country, swept it in all directions,
putting the inhabitants indiscriminately to the sword. They acted upon
the maxim which they ever proclaimed, "The conquered can never be the
friends of the conquerors; and the death of the one is essential to
the safety of the other."

The whole of southern Russia trembled with terror; and men, women and
children, in utter helplessness, with groans and cries fled to the
churches, imploring the protection of God. That divine power which
alone could aid them, interposed in their behalf. For some unknown
reason, Genghis Khan recalled his troops to the shores of the Caspian,
where this blood-stained conqueror, in the midst of his invincible
armies, dictated laws to the vast regions he had subjected to his
will. This frightful storm having left utter desolation behind it,
passed away as rapidly as it had approached. Scathed as by the
lightnings of heaven, the whole of southern Russia east of the Dnieper
was left smoking like a furnace.

The nominal king, Georges II., far distant in the northern realms of
Souzdal and Vladimir, listened appalled to the reports of the tempest
raging over the southern portion of the kingdom; and when the dark
cloud disappeared and its thunders ceased, he congratulated himself in
having escaped its fury. After the terrible battle of Kalka, six years
passed before the locust legions of the Tartars again made their
appearance; and Russia hoped that the scourge had disappeared for
ever. In the year 1227, Genghis Khan died. It has been estimated that
the ambition of this one man cost the lives of between five and six
millions of the human family. He nominated as his successor his oldest
son Octai, and enjoined it upon him never to make peace but with
vanquished nations. Ambitious of being the conqueror of the world,
Octai ravaged with his armies the whole of northern China. In the
heart of Tartary he reared his palace, embellished with the highest
attainments of Chinese art.

Raising an army of three hundred thousand men, the Tartar sovereign
placed his nephew Bati in command, and ordered him to bring into
subjection all the nations on the northern shores of the Caspian Sea,
and then to continue his conquests throughout all the expanse of
northern Russia. A bloody strife of three years planted his banners
upon every cliff and through all the defiles of the Ural mountains,
and then the victor plunging down the western declivities of this
great natural barrier between Europe and Asia, established his troops,
for winter quarters, in the valley of the Volga. To strike the region
with terror, he burned the capital city of Bulgaria and put all the
inhabitants to the sword. Early in the spring of the year 1238, with
an army, say the ancient annalists, "as innumerable as locusts," he
crossed the Volga, and threading many almost impenetrable forests,
after a march, in a north-west direction, of about four hundred miles,
entered the province of Rezdan just south of Souzdal. He then sent an
embassage to the king and his confederate princes, saying:

"If you wish for peace with the Tartars you must pay us an annual
tribute of one tenth of your possessions."

The heroic reply was returned,

"When you have slain us all, you can then take all that we have."

Bati, at the head of his terrible army, continued his march through
the populous province of Rezdan, burning every dwelling and
endeavoring, with indiscriminate massacre, to exterminate the
inhabitants. City after city fell before them until they approached
the capital. This they besieged, first surrounding it with palisades
that it might not be possible for any of the inhabitants to escape.
The innumerable host pressed the siege day and night, not allowing the
defenders one moment for repose. On the sixteenth day, after many had
been slain and all the citizens were in utter exhaustion from toil
and sleeplessness, they commenced the final assault with ladders and
battering rams. The walls of wood were soon set on fire, and, through
flame and smoke, the demoniac assailants rushed into the city.
Indiscriminate massacre ensued of men, women and children, accompanied
with the most revolting cruelty. The carnage continued for many hours,
and, when it ceased, the city was reduced to ashes, and not one of its
inhabitants was left alive.

The conquerors then rushed on to Moscow. Here the tempest of battle
raged for a few days, and then Moscow followed in the footsteps of



From 1238 to 1304.

Retreat of Georges II.--Desolating March of the Tartars.--Capture of
Vladimir.--Fall of Moscow.--Utter Defeat of Georges.--Conflict at
Torjek.--March of the Tartars Toward the South.--Subjugation of the
Polovtsi.--Capture of Kief.--Humiliation of Yaroslaf.--Overthrow of
the Russian Kingdom.--Haughtiness of the Tartars.--Reign of
Alexander.--Succession of Yaroslaf.--The Reign of Vassuli.--State of
Christianity.--Infamy of André.--Struggles with Dmitri.--Independence
of the Principalities.--Death of André.

The king, Georges, fled from Moscow before it was invested by the
enemy, leaving its defense to two of his sons. Retiring, in a panic,
to the remote northern province of Yaroslaf, he encamped, with a small
force, upon one of the tributaries of the Mologa, and sent earnest
entreaties to numerous princes to hasten, with all the forces they
could raise, and join his army.

The Tartars from Moscow marched north-west some one hundred and fifty
miles to the imperial city of Vladimir. They appeared before its walls
on the 2d of February. On the evening of the 6th the battering rams
and ladders were prepared, and it was evident that the storming of the
city was soon to begin. The citizens, conscious that nothing awaited
them but death or endless slavery, with one accord resolved to sell
their lives as dearly as possible. Accompanied by their wives and
their children, they assembled in the churches, partook of the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper, implored Heaven's blessing upon them,
and then husbands, brothers, fathers, took affecting leave of their
families and repaired to the walls for the deadly strife.

Early on the morning of the 7th the assault commenced. The impetuosity
of the onset was irresistible. In a few moments the walls were scaled,
the streets flooded with the foe, the pavements covered with the dead,
and the city on fire in an hundred places. The conquerors did not wish
to encumber themselves with captives. All were slain. Laden with booty
and crimsoned with the blood of their foes, the victors dispersed in
every direction, burning and destroying, but encountering no
resistance. During the month they took fourteen cities, slaying all
the inhabitants but such as they reserved for slaves.

The monarch, Georges, was still upon the banks of the Sité, near where
it empties into the Mologa, when he heard the tidings of the
destruction of Moscow and Vladimir, and of the massacre of his wife
and his children. His eyes filled with tears, and in the anguish of
his spirit he prayed that God would enable him to exemplify the
patience of Job. Adversity develops the energies of noble spirits.
Georges rallied his troops and made a desperate onset upon the foe as
they approached his camp. It was the morning of the 4th of March. But
again the battle was disastrous to Russia. Mogol numbers triumphed
over Russian valor, and the king and nearly all his army were slain.
Some days after the battle the bishop of Rostof traversed the field,
covered with the bodies of the dead. There he discovered the corpse of
the monarch, which he recognized by the clothes. The head had been
severed from the body. The bishop removed the gory trunk of the prince
and gave it respectful burial in the church of Notre Dame at Rostof.
The head was subsequently found and deposited in the coffin with the

The conquerors, continuing their march westerly one hundred and fifty
miles, burning and destroying as they went, reached the populous city
of Torjek. The despairing inhabitants for fifteen days beat off the
assailants. The city then fell; its ruin was entire. The dwellings
became but the funeral pyres for the bodies of the slain. The army of
Bati then continued its march to lake Seliger, the source of the
Volga, within one hundred miles of the great city of Novgorod.

"Villages disappeared," write the ancient annalists, "and the heads of
the Russians fell under the swords of the Tartars as the grass falls
before the scythe."

Instead of pressing on to Novgorod, for some unknown reason Bati
turned south, and, marching two hundred miles, laid siege to the
strong fortress of Kozelsk, in the principality of Kalouga. The
garrison, warned of the advance of the foe, made the most heroic
resistance. For four weeks they held their assailants at bay, banking
every effort of the vast numbers who encompassed them. A more
determined and heroic defense was never made. At last the fortress
fell, and not one soul escaped the exterminating sword. Bati, now
satiated with carnage, retired, with his army, to the banks of the
Don. Yaroslaf, prince of Kief, and brother of Georges II., hoping that
the dreadful storm had passed away, hastened to the smouldering ruins
of Vladimir to take the title and the shadowy authority of Grand
Prince. Never before were more conspicuously seen the energies of a
noble soul. At first it seemed that his reign could be extended only
over gory corpses and smouldering ruins. Undismayed by the magnitude
of the disaster, he consecrated all the activity of his genius and the
loftiness of his spirit to the regeneration of the desolated land.

In the spacious valleys of the Don and its tributaries lived the
powerful nation of the Polovtsi, who had often bid defiance to the
whole strength of Russia. Kothian, their prince, for a short time made
vigorous opposition to the march of the conquerors. But, overwhelmed
by numbers, he was at length compelled to retreat, and, with his army
of forty thousand men, to seek a refuge in Hungary. The country of the
Polovtsi was then abandoned to the Tartars. Having ravaged the
central valleys of the Don and the Volga, these demoniac warriors
turned their steps again into southern Russia. The inhabitants,
frantic with terror, fled from their line of march as lambs fly from
wolves. The blasts of their trumpets and the clatter of their horses'
hoofs were speedily resounding in the valley of the Dnieper. Soon from
the steeples of Kief the banners of the terrible army were seen
approaching from the east. They crossed the Dnieper and surrounded the
imperial city, which, for some time anticipating the storm, had been
making preparation for the most desperate resistance. The ancient
annalists say that the noise of their innumerable chariots, the lowing
of camels and of the vast herds of cattle which accompanied their
march, the neighing of horses and the ferocious cries of the
barbarians, created such a clamor that no ordinary voice could be
heard in the heart of the city.

The attack was speedily commenced, and the walls were assailed with
all the then-known instruments of war. Day and night, without a
moment's intermission, the besiegers, like incarnate fiends, plied
their works. The Tartars, as ever, were victorious, and Kief, with all
its thronging population and all its treasures of wealth, architecture
and art, sank in an abyss of flame and blood. It sank to rise no more.
Though it has since been partially rebuilt, this ancient capital of
the grand princes of Russia, even now presents but the shadow of its
pristine splendor.

Onward, still onward, was the cry of the barbarians.

Leaving smoking brands and half-burnt corpses where the imperial city
once stood, the insatiable Bati pressed on hundreds of miles further
west, assailing, storming, destroying the provinces of Gallicia as far
as southern Vladimir within a few leagues of the frontiers of Poland.
Russia being thus entirely devastated and at the feet of the
conquerors, Bati wheeled his army around toward the south and
descended into Hungary. Novgorod was almost the only important city
in Russia which escaped the ravages of this terrible foe.

Bati continued his career of conquest, and, in 1245, was almost
undisputed master of Russia, of many of the Polish provinces, of
Hungary, Croatia, Servia, Bulgaria on the Danube, Moldavia and
Wallachia. He then returned to the Volga and established himself there
as permanent monarch over all these subjugated realms. No one dared to
resist him. Bati sent a haughty message to the Grand Prince Yaroslaf
at northern Vladimir, ordering him to come to his camp on the distant
Volga. Yaroslaf, in the position in which he found himself--Russia
being exhausted, depopulated, covered with ruins and with graves--did
not dare disobey. Accompanied by several of his nobles, he took the
weary journey, and humbly presented himself in the tent of the
conqueror. Bati compelled the humiliated prince to send his young son,
Constantin, to Tartary, to the palace of the grand khan Octai, who was
about to celebrate, with his chiefs, the brilliant conquests his army
had made in China and Europe. If the statements of the annalists of
those days may be credited, so sumptuous a fête the world had never
seen before. The guests, assembled in the metropolis of the khan, were
innumerable. Yaroslaf was compelled to promise allegiance to the
Tartar chieftain, and all the other Russian princes, who had survived
the general slaughter, were also forced to pay homage and tribute to

After two years, the young prince, Constantin, returned from Tartary,
and then Yaroslaf himself was ordered, with all his relatives, to go
to the capital of this barbaric empire on the banks of the Amour,
where the Tartar chiefs were to meet to choose a successor to Octai,
who had recently died. With tears the unhappy prince bade adieu to his
country, and, traversing vast deserts and immense regions of hills and
valleys, he at length reached the metropolis of his cruel masters.
Here he successfully defended himself against some accusations which
had been brought against him, and, after a detention of several
months, he was permitted to set out on his return. He had proceeded
but a few hundred miles on the weary journey when he was taken sick,
and died the 20th of September, 1246. The faithful nobles who
accompanied him bore his remains to Vladimir, where they were

There was no longer a Russian kingdom. The country had lost its
independence; and the Tartar sway, rude, vacillating and awfully
cruel, extended from remote China to the shores of the Baltic. The
Roman, Grecian and Russian empires thus crumbling, the world was
threatened with an universal inundation of barbarism. Russian princes,
with more or less power ruled over the serfs who tilled their lands,
but there was no recognized head of the once powerful kingdom, and no
Russian prince ventured to disobey the commands even of the humblest
captain of the Tartar hordes.

While affairs were in this deplorable state, a Russian prince, Daniel,
of Gallicia, engaged secretly, but with great vigor, in the attempt to
secure the coöperation of the rest of Europe to emancipate Russia from
the Tartar yoke. Greece, overawed by the barbarians, did not dare to
make any hostile movement against them. Daniel turned to Rome, and
promised the pope, Innocent IV., that Russia should return to the
Roman church, and would march under the papal flag if the pope would
rouse Christian Europe against the Tartars.

The pope eagerly embraced these offers, pronounced Daniel to be King
of Russia, and sent the papal legate to appoint Roman bishops over the
Greek church. At the same time he wished to crown Daniel with regal

"I have need," exclaimed the prince, "of an army, not of a crown. A
crown is but a childish ornament when the yoke of the barbarian is
galling our necks."

Daniel at length consented, for the sake of its moral influence, to be
crowned king, and the pope issued his letters calling upon the
faithful to unite under the banners of the cross, to drive the
barbarians from Europe. This union, however, accomplished but little,
as the pope was only anxious to bring the Greek church under the sway
of Rome, and Daniel sought only military aid to expel the Tartars;
each endeavoring to surrender as little and to gain as much as

One of the Christian nobles endeavored to persuade Mangou, a Tartar
chieftain, of the superiority of the Christian religion. The pagan

"We are not ignorant that there is a God; and we love him with all our
heart. There are more ways of salvation than there are fingers on your
hands. If God has given you the Bible, he has given us our _wise men_
(Magi). But _you_ do not obey the precepts of your Bible, while _we_
are perfectly obedient to the instructions of our Magi, and never
think of disputing their authority."

The pride of these Tartar conquerors may be inferred from the
following letter, sent by the great khan to Louis, King of France:

"In the name of God, the all powerful, I command you, King Louis, to
be obedient to me. When the will of Heaven shall be accomplished--when
the universe shall have recognized me as its sovereign, tranquillity
will then be seen restored to earth. But if you dare to despise the
decrees of God, and to say that your country is remote, your mountains
inaccessible, and your seas deep and wide, and that you fear not my
displeasure, then the Almighty will speedily show you how terrible is
my power."

After the death of Yaroslaf, his uncle Alexander assumed the
sovereignty of the grand principality. He was a prince of much
military renown. Bati, who was still encamped upon the banks of the
Volga, sent to him a message as follows:

"Prince of Novgorod: it is well known by you that God has subjected to
our sway innumerable peoples. If you wish to live in tranquillity,
immediately come to me, in my tent, that you may witness the glory
and the grandeur of the Mogols."

Alexander obeyed with the promptness of a slave. Bati received the
prince with great condescension, but commanded him to continue his
journey some hundreds of leagues further to the east, that he might
pay homage to the grand khan in Tartary. It was a terrible journey,
beneath a blazing sun, over burning plains, whitened by the bones of
those who had perished by the way. Those dreary solitudes had for ages
been traversed by caravans, and instead of cities and villages, and
the hum of busy life, the eye met only the tombs in which the dead
mouldered; and the silence of the grave oppressed the soul.

In the year 1249, Alexander returned from his humiliating journey to
Tartary. The khan was so well satisfied with his conduct, that he
appointed him king of all the realms of southern Russia. The pope, now
thoroughly alienated from Daniel, corresponded with Alexander,
entreating him to bring the Greek church under the supremacy of Rome,
and thus secure for himself the protection and the blessing of the
father of all the faithful. Alexander returned the peremptory reply,

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

Alexander administered the government so much in accordance with the
will of his haughty masters, that the khan gradually increased his
dominion. Bati, the Tartar chieftain, who was encamped with his army
on the banks of the Volga and the Don, died in the year 1257, and his
bloody sword, the only scepter of his power, passed into the hands of
his brother Berki. Alexander felt compelled to hasten to the Tartar
camp, with expressions of homage to the new captain, and with rich
presents to conciliate his favor. Many of the Tartars had by this time
embraced Christianity, and there were frequent intermarriages between
the Russian nobles and princesses of the Tartar race. It is a curious
fact, that even then the Tartars were so conscious of the power of the
clergy over the popular mind, that they employed all the arts of
courtesy and bribes to secure their influence to hold the Russians in

The Tartars exacted enormous tribute from the subjugated country. An
insurrection, headed by a son of Alexander, broke out at Novgorod. The
grand prince, terrified in view of the Mogol wrath which might be
expected to overwhelm him, arrested and imprisoned his son, who had
countenanced the enterprise, and punished the nobles implicated in the
movement with terrible severity. Some were hung; others had their eyes
plucked out and their noses cut off. But, unappeased by this fearful
retribution, the Tartars were immediately on the march to avenge, with
their own hands, the crime of rebellion. Their footsteps were marked
with such desolation and cruelty that the Russians, goaded to despair,
again ventured, like the crushed worm, an impotent resistance.
Alexander himself was compelled to join the Tartars, and aid in
cutting down his wretched countrymen.

The Tartars haughtily entered Novgorod. Silence and desolation reigned
through its streets. They went from house to house, extorting, as they
well knew how, treasure which beggared families and ruined the city.
Throughout all Russia the princes were compelled to break down the
walls of their cities and to demolish their fortifications. In the
year 1262, Alexander was alarmed by some indications of displeasure on
the part of the grand khan, and he decided to take an immediate
journey to the Mogol capital with rich presents, there to attempt to
explain away any suspicions which might be entertained. His health was
feeble, and suffered much from the exposures of the journey. He was
detained in the Mogol court in captivity, though treated with much
consideration, for a year. He then returned home, so crushed in health
and spirits, that he died on the 14th of November, 1263. The prince
was buried at Vladimir, and was borne to the grave surrounded by the
tears and lamentations of his subjects. He seems to have died the
death of the righteous, breathing most fervent prayers of penitence
and of love. In the distressing situation in which his country was
placed, he could do nothing but seek to alleviate its woe; and to this
object he devoted all the energies of his life. The name of Alexander
Nevsky is still pronounced in Russia with love and admiration. His
remains, after reposing in the church of Notre Dame, at Vladimir,
until the eighteenth century, were transported, by Peter the Great, to
the banks of the Neva, to give renown to the capital which that
illustrious monarch was rearing there.

Yaroslaf, of Tiver, succeeded almost immediately his father in the
nominal sway of Russia. The new sovereign promised fealty to the
Tartars, and feared no rival while sustained by their swords. His
oppression becoming intolerable, the tocsin was sounded in the streets
of Novgorod, and the whole populace rose in insurrection. The movement
was successful. The favorites and advisers of Yaroslaf were put to
death, and the prince himself was exiled. There is something quite
refreshing in the energetic spirit with which the populace transmitted
their sentence of repudiation to the discomfited prince, blockaded in
his palace. The citizens met in a vast gathering in the church of St.
Nicholas, and sent to him the following act of accusation:

"Why have you seized the mansion of one of our nobles? Why have you
robbed others of their money? Why have you driven from Novgorod
strangers who were living peaceably in the midst of us? Why do your
game-keepers exclude us from the chase, and drive us from our own
fields? It is time to put an end to such violence. Leave us. Go where
you please, but leave us, for we shall choose another prince."

Yaroslaf, terrified and humiliated, sent his son to the public
assembly with the assurance that he was ready to conform to all their
wishes, if they would return to their allegiance.

"It is too late," was the reply. "Leave us immediately, or we shall be
exposed to the inconvenience of driving you away."

Yaroslaf immediately left the city and sought safety in exile. The
Novgorodians then offered the soiled and battered crown to Dmitry, a
nephew of the deposed prince. But Dmitry, fearing the vengeance of the
Tartars, replied, "I am not willing to ascend a throne from which you
have expelled my uncle."

Yaroslaf immediately sent an embassador to the encampment of the
Tartars, where they were, ever eagerly waiting for any enterprise
which promised carnage and plunder. The embassador, imploring their
aid, said,

"The Novgorodians are your enemies. They have shamefully expelled
Yaroslaf, and thus treated your authority with insolence. They have
deposed Yaroslaf, merely because he was faithful in collecting tribute
for you."

By such a crisis, republicanism was necessarily introduced in
Novgorod. The people, destitute of a prince, and threatened by an
approaching army, made vigorous efforts for resistance. The two armies
soon met face to face, and they were on the eve of a terrible battle,
when the worthy metropolitan bishop, Cyrille, interposed and succeeded
in effecting a treaty which arrested the flow of torrents of blood.
The Novgorodians again accepted Yaroslaf, he making the most solemn
promises of amendment. The embassadors of the Tartar khan conducted
Yaroslaf again to the throne.

The Tartars now embraced, almost simultaneously and universally, the
Mohammedan religion, and were inspired with the most fanatic zeal for
its extension. Yaroslaf retained his throne only by employing all
possible means to conciliate the Tartars. He died in the year 1272, as
he was also on his return journey from a visit to the Tartar court.

Vassali, a younger brother of Yaroslaf, now ascended the throne,
establishing himself at Vladimir. The grand duchy of Lithuania,
extending over a region of sixty thousand square miles, was situated
just north of Poland. The Tartars, dissatisfied with the Lithuanians,
prepared an expedition against them, and marching with a great army,
compelled many of the Russian princes to follow their banners. The
Tartars spread desolation over the whole tract of country they
traversed, and on their return took a careful census of the population
of all the principalities of Russia, that they might decide upon the
tribute to be imposed. The Russians were so broken in spirit that they
submitted to all these indignities without a murmur. Still there were
to be seen here and there indications of discontent. An ecclesiastical
council was held at Vladimir, in the year 1274. All the bishops of the
north of Russia were assembled to rectify certain abuses which had
crept into the church. A copy of the canons then adopted, written upon
parchment, is still preserved in the Russian archives.

"What a chastisement," exclaim the bishops, "have we received for our
neglect of the true principles of Christianity! God has scattered us
over the whole surface of the globe. Our cities have fallen into the
hands of the enemy. Our princes have perished on the field of battle.
Our families have been dragged into slavery. Our temples have become
the prey of destruction; and every day we groan more and more heavily
beneath the yoke which is imposed upon us."

It was decreed in this council of truly Christian men, that, as a
public expression of the importance of a holy life, none should be
introduced into the ranks of the clergy but those whose morals had
been irreproachable from their earliest infancy. "A single pastor,"
said the decree of this council, "faithfully devoted to his Master's
service, is more precious than a thousand worldly priests."

Vassali died in the year 1276, and was succeeded by a prince of
Vladimir, named Dmitri. He immediately left his native principality
and took up his residence in Novgorod, which city at this time seems
to have been regarded as the capital of the subjugated and dishonored
kingdom. The indomitable tribes inhabiting the fastnesses of the
Caucasian mountains had, thus far, maintained their independence. The
Tartars called upon Russia for troops to aid in their subjugation; and
four of the princes, one of whom, André of Gorodetz, was a brother of
Dmitri the king, submissively led the required army into the Mogol

André, by his flattery, his presents and his servile devotion to the
interests of the khan, secured a decree of dethronement against his
brother and his own appointment as grand prince. Then, with a combined
army of Tartars and Russians, he marched upon Novgorod to take
possession of the crown. Resistance was not to be thought of, and
Dmitri precipitately fled. Karamsin thus describes the sweep of this
Tartar wave of woe:

"The Mogols pillaged and burned the houses, the monasteries, the
churches, from which they took the images, the precious vases and the
books richly bound. Large troops of the inhabitants were dragged into
slavery, or fell beneath the sabers of the ferocious soldiers of the
khan. The young sisters in the convents were exposed to the brutality
of these monsters. The unhappy laborers, who, to escape death or
captivity, had fled into the deserts, perished of exposure and
starvation. Not an inhabitant was left who did not weep over the death
of a father, a son, a brother or a friend."

Thus André ascended the throne, and then returned the soldiers of the
khan laden with the booty which they had so cruelly and iniquitously
obtained. The barbarians, always greedy of rapine and blood, were ever
delighted to find occasion to ravage the principalities of Russia. The
Tartars, having withdrawn, Dmitri secured the coöperation of some
powerful princes, drove his brother from Novgorod, and again grasped
the scepter which his brother had wrested from him. The two brothers
continued bitterly hostile to each other, and years passed of petty
intrigues and with occasional scenes of violence and blood as Dmitri
struggled to hold the crown which André as perseveringly strove to
seize. Again André obtained another Mogol army, which swept Russia
with fearful destruction, and, taking possession of Vladimir and
Moscow, and every city and village on their way, plundering, burning
and destroying, marched resistlessly to Novgorod, and placed again the
traitorous, blood-stained monster on the throne.

Dmitri, abandoning his palaces and his treasures, fled to a remote
principality, where he soon died, in the year 1294, an old man
battered and wrecked by the storms of a life of woe. He is celebrated
in the Russian annals only by the disasters which accompanied his
reign. According to the Russian historians, the infamous André, his
elder brother being now dead, found himself _legitimately_ the
sovereign of Russia. As no one dared to dispute his authority, the
ill-fated kingdom passed a few years in tranquillity.

At length Daniel, prince of Moscow, claimed independence of the
nominal king, or grand prince, as he was called. In fact, most of the
principalities were, at this time, entirely independent of the grand
prince of Novgorod, whose supremacy was, in general, but an empty and
powerless title. As Daniel was one of the nearest neighbors of André,
and reigned over a desolate and impoverished realm, the grand prince
was disposed to bring him into subjection. But neither of the princes
dared to march their armies without first appealing to their Mogol
masters. Daniel sent an embassador to the Mogol camp, but André went
in person with his young and beautiful wife. The khan sent his
embassador to Vladimir, there to summon before him the two princes and
their friends and to adjudge their cause.

In the heat and bitterness of the debate, the two princes drew their
swords and fell upon each other. Their followers joined in the melee,
and a scene of tumult and blood ensued characteristic of those
barbaric times. The Tartar guard rushed in and separated the
combatants. The Tartar judge extorted rich presents from both of the
appellants and _settled_ the question by leaving it _entirely
unsettled_, ordering them both to go home. They separated like two
boys who have been found quarreling, and who have both been soundly
whipped for their pugnacity. In the autumn of the year 1303 an
assembly of the Russian princes was convened at Pereiaslavle, to which
congress the imperious khan sent his commands.

"It is my will," said the Tartar chief, "that the principalities of
Russia should henceforth enjoy tranquillity. I therefore command all
the princes to put an end to their dissensions and each one to content
himself with the possessions and the power he now has."

Russia thus ceased to be even nominally a monarchy, unless we regard
the Khan of Tartary as its sovereign. It was a conglomeration of
principalities, ruled by princes, with irresponsible power, but all
paying tribute to a foreign despot, and obliged to obey his will
whenever he saw fit to make that will known. Still there continued
incessant tempests of civil war, violent but of brief duration, to
which the khan paid no attention, he deeming it beneath his dignity to
inter meddle with such petty conflicts.

André died on the 27th July, 1304, execrated by his contemporaries,
and he has been consigned to infamy by posterity. As he approached the
spirit land he was tortured with the dread of the scenes which he
might encounter there. His crimes had condemned thousands to death and
other thousands to live-long woe. He sought by priestcraft, and
penances, and monastic vows, and garments of sackcloth, to efface the
stains of a soul crimsoned with crime. He died, and his guilty spirit
passed away to meet God in judgment.



From 1304 to 1380.

Defeat of Georges and the Tartars--Indignation of the Khan.--Michel
Summoned to the Horde.--His Trial and Execution.--Assassination of
Georges.--Execution of Dmitri.--Repulse and Death of the Embassador of
the Khan.--Vengeance of the Khan.--Increasing Prosperity of
Russia.--The Great Plague.--Supremacy of Simon.--Anarchy in the
Horde.--Plague and Conflagration.--The Tartars Repulsed.--Reconquest
of Bulgaria.--The Great Battle of Koulikof.--Utter Rout of the

The Tartars, now fierce Mohammedans, began to oppress severely,
particularly in Kief, the Christians. The metropolitan bishop of this
ancient city, with the whole body of the clergy, pursued by
persecution, fled to Vladimir; and others of the Christians of Kief
were scattered over the kingdom.

The death of André was as fatal to Russia as had been his reign. Two
rival princes, Michel of Tver, and Georges of Moscow, grasped at the
shadow of a scepter which had fallen from his hands. In consequence,
war and anarchy for a long time prevailed. At length, Michel, having
appealed to the Tartars and gained their support, ascended the frail
throne. But a fierce war now raged between Novgorod and Moscow. In the
prosecution of this war, Georges obtained some advantage which led
Michel to appeal to the khan. The prince of Moscow was immediately
summoned to appear in the presence of the Tartar chieftain. By the
most ignoble fawning and promises of plunder, Georges obtained the
support of the khan, and returning with a Tartar horde, cruelly
devastated the principality of his foe. Michel and all his subjects,
roused to the highest pitch of indignation, marched to meet the
enemy. The two armies encountered each other a few leagues from
Moscow. The followers of Michel, fighting with the energies of
despair, were unexpectedly successful, and Georges, with his Russian
and Tartar troops, was thoroughly defeated.

Kavgadi, the leader of the Tartar allies of Georges, was taken
prisoner. Michel, appalled by the thought of the vengeance he might
anticipate from the great khan, whose power he had thus ventured to
defy, treated his captive, Kavgadi, with the highest consideration,
and immediately set him at liberty loaded with presents. Georges,
accompanied by Kavgadi, repaired promptly to the court of the khan,
Usbeck, who was then encamped, with a numerous army, upon the shores
of the Caspian Sea. Soon an embassador of the khan arrived at
Vladimir, and informed Michel that Usbeck was exasperated against him
to the highest degree.

"Hasten," said he, "to the court of the great khan, or within a month
you will see your provinces inundated by his troops. Think of your
peril, when Kavgadi has informed Usbeck that you have dared to resist
his authority."

Terrified by these words, the nobles of Michel entreated him not to
place himself in the power of the khan, but to allow some one of them
to visit the _horde_, as it was then called, in his stead, and
endeavor to appease the wrath of the monarch.

"No," replied the high-minded prince; "Usbeck demands my presence not
yours. Far be it from me, by my disobedience, to expose my country to
ruin. If I resist the commands of the khan, my country will be doomed
to new woes; thousands of Christians will perish, the victims of his
fury. It is impossible for us to repel the forces of the Tartars. What
other asylum is there then for me but death? Is it not better for me
to die, if I may thus save the lives of my faithful subjects?"

He made his will, divided his estates among his sons, and entreating
them ever to be faithful to the dictates of virtue, bade them an
eternal adieu. Michel encountered the khan near the mouth of the Don,
as it enters the Sea of Azof. Usbeck was on a magnificent hunting
excursion, accompanied by his chieftains and his army. For six weeks
he did not deign, to pay any attention to the Russian prince, not even
condescending to order him to be guarded. The rich presents Michel had
brought, in token of homage, were neither received nor rejected, but
were merely disregarded as of no moment whatever.

At length, one morning, suddenly, as if recollecting something which
had been forgotten, Usbeck ordered his lords to summon Michel before
them and adjudge his cause. A tent was spread as a tribunal of
justice, near the tent of the khan; and the unhappy prince, bound with
cords, was led before his judges. He was accused of the unpardonable
crime of having drawn his sword against the soldiers of the khan. No
justification could be offered. Michel was cruelly fettered with
chains and thrown into a dungeon. An enormous collar of iron was
riveted around his neck.

Usbeck then set out for the chase, on an expedition which was to last
for one or two months. The annals of the time describe this expedition
with great particularity, presenting a scene of pomp almost surpassing
credence. Some allowance must doubtless be made for exaggeration; and
yet there is a minuteness of detail which, accompanied by
corroborative evidence of the populousness and the power of these
Tartar tribes, invests the narrative with a good degree of
authenticity. We are informed that several hundreds of thousands of
men were in movement; that each soldier was clothed in rich uniform
and mounted upon a beautiful horse; that merchants transported, in
innumerable chariots, the most precious fabrics of Greece and of the
Indies, and that luxury and gayety reigned throughout the immense
camp, which, in the midst of savage deserts, presented the aspect of
brilliant and populous cities. Michel, who was awaiting his sentence
from Usbeck, was dragged, loaded with chains, in the train of the
horde. Georges was in high favor with the khan, and was importunately
urging the condemnation of his rival.

With wonderful fortitude the prince endured his humiliation and
tortures. The nobles who had accompanied him were plunged into
inconsolable grief. Michel endeavored to solace them. He manifested,
through the whole of this terrible trial, the spirit of the Christian,
passing whole nights in prayer and in chanting the Psalms of David. As
his hands were bound, one of his pages held the sacred book before
him. His faithful followers urged him to take advantage of the
confusion and tumult of the camp to effect his escape. "Never,"
exclaimed Michel, "will I degrade myself by flight. Moreover, should I
escape, that would save _me_ only, not my country. God's will be

The horde was now encamped among the mountains of Circassia. It was
the 22d of November, 1319, when, just after morning prayers, which
were conducted by an abbé and two priests, who accompanied the Russian
prince, Michel was informed that Usbeck had sentenced him to death. He
immediately called his young son Constantin, a lad twelve years of
age, into his presence, and gave his last directions to his wife and

"Say to them," enjoined this Christian prince, "that I go down into
the tomb cherishing for them the most ardent affection. I recommend to
their care the generous nobles, the faithful servants who have
manifested so much zeal for their sovereign, both when he was upon the
throne and when in chains."

These thoughts of home overwhelmed him, and, for a moment losing his
fortitude, he burst into tears. Causing the Bible to be opened to the
Psalms of David, which, in all ages, have been the great fountain of
consolation to the afflicted, he read from the fifty-sixth Psalm,
fifth verse, "Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror
hath overwhelmed me."

"Prince," said the abbé, "in the same Psalm with which you are so
familiar, are the words, 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall
sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.'"

Michel simply replied by quoting again from the same inspired page:
"Oh that I had wings like a dove; for then would I fly away and be at

At that moment one of the pages entered the tent, pale and trembling,
and informed that a great crowd of people were approaching. "I know
why they are coming," said the prince, and he immediately sent his
young son away on a message, that the child might not witness the
cruel execution of his father. Two brawny barbarians entered the tent.
As the prince was fervently praying, they smote him down with clubs,
trampled him beneath their feet, and then plunged a poignard into his
heart. The crowd which had followed the executioners, according to
their custom rushed into the royal tent for pillage. The gory body was
left in the hands of the Russian nobles. They enveloped the remains in
precious clothes, and bore them with affectionate care back to Moscow.

Georges, now confirmed in the dignity of grand prince by the khan,
returned to Vladimir, where he established his government, sending his
brother to Novgorod to reign over that principality in his name.
Dmitri, and others of the sons of Michel, for several years waged
implacable warfare against Georges, with but little success. The khan,
however, did not deign to interfere in a strife which caused him no
trouble. But in the year 1325 Georges again went to the horde on the
eastern banks of the Caspian. At the same time, Dmitri appeared in the
encampment. Meeting Georges accidentally, whom he justly regarded as
the murderer of his father, he drew his sword, and plunged it to the
hilt in the heart of the grand prince. The khan, accustomed to such
deeds of violence, was not disposed to punish the son who had thus
avenged the death of his father. But the friends of Georges so
importunately urged that to pardon such a crime would be an
ineffaceable stain upon his honor, would be an indication of weakness,
and would encourage the Russian princes in the commission of other
outrages, that after the lapse of ten months, during which time Dmitri
had been detained a captive, Usbeck ordered his execution, and the
unfortunate prince was beheaded. Dmitri was then but twenty-seven
years of age.

And yet Usbeck seems to have had some regard for the cause of the
young prince, for he immediately appointed Alexander, a brother of
Dmitri, and son of Michel, to succeed Georges in the grand
principality. The Novgorodians promptly received him as their ruler.
Affairs wore in this State when, at the close of the summer of 1327,
an embassador of Usbeck appeared, with a band of Tartars, and entered
the royal city of Tver, which was the residence of Alexander. The
principality of the Tver was spread along the head waters of the
Volga, just north of the principality of Moscow. The report spread
through the city that the Mogol embassador, Schevkal, who was a
zealous Mohammedan, had come to convert the Russians to Mohammedanism,
that he intended the death of Alexander, to ascend the throne himself,
and to distribute the cities of the principality to his followers.

The Tverians, in a paroxysm of terror and despair, rallied for the
support of their prince and their religion. In a terrible tumult all
the inhabitants rose and precipated themselves upon the embassador and
his valiant body guard. From morning until night the battle raged in
the streets of Tver. The Tartars, overpowered by numbers, and greatly
weakened by losses during the day, took refuge in a palace. The
citizens set the palace on fire, and every Tartar perished, either
consumed by the flames or cut down by the Russians.

When Usbeck heard of this event, he was, at first, stupefied by the
audacity of the deed. He imagined that all Russia was in the
conspiracy, and that there was to be a general rising to throw off the
Tartar yoke. Still Usbeck, with his characteristic sagacity, decided
to employ the Russians to subdue the Russians. He at once deposed and
outlawed Alexander, and declared Jean Danielovitch, of Moscow, to be
grand prince, who promised the most obsequious obedience to his
wishes. At the same time he sent an army of fifty-thousand Tartars to
coöperate with the Russian army, which Jean Danielovitch was commanded
to put in motion for the invasion of the principality of Tver. It was
in vain to think of resistance, and Alexander fled. The invading army,
with awful devastation, ravaged the principality. Multitudes were
slain. Others were dragged into captivity. The smoking ruins of the
cities and villages of Tver became the monument of the wrath of the
khan. Alexander, pursued by the implacable wrath of Usbeck, was
finally taken and beheaded.

But few particulars are known respecting the condition of southern
Russia at this time. The principalities were under the government of
princes who were all tributary to the Tartars, and yet these princes
were incessantly quarreling with one another, and the whole country
was the scene of violence and blood.

The energies of the Tartar horde were now engrossed by internal
dissensions and oriental wars, and for many years, the conquerors
still drawing their annual tribute from the country, but in no other
way interfering with its concerns, devoted all their energies to
conspiracies and bloody battles among themselves. Moscow now became
the capital of the country, and under the peaceful reign of Jean,
increased rapidly in wealth and splendor. Jean, acting professedly as
the agent of Usbeck, extorted from many of the principalities double
tribute, one half of which he furtively appropriated to the increase
of the wealth, splendor and power of his own dominions. His reign was
on the whole one of the most prosperous Russia had enjoyed for ages.
Agriculture and commerce flourished. The Volga was covered with boats,
conveying to the Caspian the furs and manufactures of the North, and
laden, on their return, with the spices and fabrics of the Indies. On
the 31st of March, 1340, Jean died. As he felt the approach of death
his spirit was overawed by the realities of the eternal world. Laying
aside his regal robes he assumed the dress of a monk, and entering a
monastery, devoted his last days zealously to prayer. His end was

Immediately after his death there were several princes who were
ambitious of grasping the scepter which he had dropped, and, as Usbeck
alone could settle that question, there was a general rush to the
horde. Simeon, the eldest son of Jean, and his brothers, were among
the foremost who presented themselves in the tent of the all-powerful
khan. Simeon eloquently urged the fidelity with which his father had
always served the Mogol prince, and he promised, in his turn, to do
every thing in his power to merit the favor of the khan. So
successfully did he prosecute his suit that the khan declared him to
be grand prince, and commanded all his rivals to obey him as their

The manners of the barbarian Mogols had, for some time, been assuming
a marked change. They emerged from their native wilds as fierce and
untamed as wolves. The herds of cattle they drove along with them
supplied them with food, and the skins of these animals supplied them
with clothing and with tents. Their home was wherever they happened to
be encamped, but, having reached the banks of the Black Sea and the
fertile valleys of the Volga and the Don, they became acquainted with
the luxuries of Europe and of the more civilized portions of Asia.
Commerce enriched them. Large cities were erected, embellished by the
genius of Grecian and Italian architects. Life became more desirable,
and the wealthy chieftains, indulging in luxury, were less eager to
encounter the exposure and perils of battle. The love of wealth now
became with them a ruling passion. For gold they would grant any
favors. The golden promises of Simeon completely won the heart of
Usbeck, and the young prince returned to Moscow flushed with success.
He assumed such airs of superiority and of power as secured for him
the title of _The Superb_. He caused himself to be crowned king, with
much religious pomp, in the cathedral of Vladimir. Novgorod manifested
some resistance to his assumptions. He instantly invaded the
principality, hewed down all opposition, and punished his opponents
with such severity that there was a simultaneous cry for mercy.
Rapidly he extended his power, and the fragmentary principalities of
Russia began again to assume the aspect of concentration and adhesion.

Ere two years had elapsed, Usbeck, the khan, died. This remarkable man
had been, for some time, the friend and the ally of Pope Benoit XII.,
who had hoped to convert him to the Christian religion. The khan had
even allowed the pope to introduce Christianity to the Tartar
territories bordering on the Black Sea. Tchanibek, the oldest son of
Usbeck, upon the death of his father, assassinated his brothers, and
thus attained the supreme authority. He was a zealous Mohammedan, and
commenced his reign by commanding all the princes of the
principalities of Russia to hasten to the horde and prostrate
themselves, in token of homage, before his throne. The least delay
would subject the offender to confiscation and death. Simeon was one
of the first to do homage to the new khan. He was received with great
favor, and dismissed confirmed in all his privileges.

In the year 1346, one of the most desolating plagues recorded in
history, commenced its ravages in China, and swept over all Asia and
nearly all Europe. The disease is recorded in the ancient annals under
the name of Black Death. Thirteen millions of the population were, in
the course of a few months, swept into the grave. Entire cities were
depopulated, and the dead by thousands lay unburied. The pestilence
swept with terrible fury the encampments of the Tartars, and weakened
that despotic power beyond all recovery. But one third of the
population of the principalities of Pskof and of Novgorod were left
living. At London fifty thousand were interred in a single cemetery.
The disease commenced with swellings on the fleshy parts of the body,
a violent spitting of blood ensued, which was followed by death the
second or third day.

It is impossible, according to the ancient annalists, to imagine a
spectacle so terrible. Young and old, fathers and children, were buried
in the same grave. Entire families disappeared in a day. Each curate
found, every morning, thirty dead bodies, often more, in his church.
Greedy men at first offered their services to the dying, hoping to
obtain their estates, but when it was found that the disease was
communicated by touch, even the most wealthy could obtain no aid. The
son fled from the father. The brother avoided the brother. Still there
were not a few examples of the most generous and self-sacrificing
devotion. Medical skill was of no avail whatever, and the churches were
thronged with the multitudes who, in the midst of the dying and the
dead, were crying to God for aid. Multitudes in their terror bequeathed
all their property to the church, and sought refuge in the monasteries.
It truth, it appeared as if Heaven had pronounced the sentence of
immediate death upon the whole human family.

Five times, during his short reign, Simeon was compelled to repair to
the horde, to remove suspicions and appease displeasure. He at length
so far ingratiated himself into favor with the khan, that the Tartar
sovereign conferred upon him the title of Grand Prince of _all the
Russias_. The death of Simeon in the year 1353, caused a general rush
of the princes of the several principalities to the Tartar horde, each
emulous of being appointed his successor. Tchanibek, the khan, after
suitable deliberation, conferred the dignity upon Jean Ivanovitch of
Moscow. His reign of six years was disturbed by a multiplicity of
intestine feuds, but no events occurred worthy of record. He died in

Again the Russian princes crowded to the horde, as, in every age,
office seekers have thronged the court. The khan, after due
deliberation, conferred the investiture of the grand principality upon
Dmitri of Souzdal, though the appointment was received with great
dissatisfaction by the other princes. But now the power of the Tartars
was rapidly on the decline. Assassination succeeded assassination, one
chieftain after another securing the assassination of his rival and
with bloody hands ascending the Mogol throne. The swords of the Mogol
warriors were turned against each other, as rival chieftains rallied
their followers for attack or defense. Civil war raged among these
fierce bands with most terrible ferocity. Famine and pestilence
followed the ravages of the sword.

While the horde was in this state of distraction, antagonistic khans
began to court the aid of the Russian princes, and a successful Tartar
chieftain, who had poignarded his rival, and thus attained the throne,
deposed Dmitri of Souzdal, and declared a young prince, Dmitri of
Moscow, to be sovereign of Russia. But as the khan, whose whole
energies were required to retain his disputed throne, could send no
army into Russia to enforce this decree, Dmitri of Souzdal paid but
little attention to the paper edict. Immediately the Russian princes
arrayed themselves on different sides. The conflict was short, but
decisive, and the victorious prince of Moscow was crowned as
sovereign. The light of a resurrection morning was now dawning upon
the Russian monarchy. There were, fortunately, at this time, two rival
khans beyond the waves of the Caspian opposing each other with bloody
cimeters. The energetic young prince, by fortunate marriage, and by
the success of his arms, rapidly extended his authority. But again the
awful plague swept Russia. The annalists of those days thus describe
the symptoms and the character of the malady:

"One felt himself suddenly struck as by a knife plunged into the heart
through the shoulder blades or between the two shoulders. An intense
fire seemed to burn the entrails; blood flowed freely from the throat;
a violent perspiration ensued, followed by severe chills; tumors
gathered upon the neck, the hip, under the arms or behind the shoulder
blades. The end was invariably the same--death, inevitable, speedy,
but terrible."

Out of a hundred persons, frequently not more than ten would be left
alive. Moscow was almost depopulated. In Smolensk but five individuals
escaped, and they were compelled to abandon the city, the houses and
the streets being encumbered with the putrefying bodies of the
dead.[2] Just before this disaster, Moscow suffered severely from a
conflagration. The imperial palace and a large portion of the city
were laid in ashes. The prince then resolved to construct a Kremlin of
stone, and he laid the foundations of a gorgeous palace in the year

[Footnote 2: See Histoire de l'Empire de Russie, par M. Karamsin.
Traduite par MM. St. Thomas et Jauffret. Tome cinquieme, p. 10.]

Dmitri now began to bid defiance to the Tartars, doubly weakened by
the sweep of the pestilence and by internal discord. There were a few
minor conflicts, in which the Russians were victorious, and, elated by
success, they began to rally for a united effort to shake off the
degrading Mogol yoke. Three bands of the Tartars were encamped at the
mouth of the Dnieper. The Russians descended the river in barges,
assailed them with the valor which their fathers had displayed, and
drove the pagans, in wild rout, to the shores of the Sea of Azof.

The Tartars, astounded at such unprecedented audacity, forgetting, for
the time, their personal animosities, collected a large army, and
commenced a march upon Moscow. The grand prince dispatched his
couriers in every direction to assemble the princes of the empire with
all the soldiers they could bring into the field. Again the Tartars
were repulsed. For many years the Tartars had been in possession of
Bulgaria, an extensive region east of the Volga. In the year 1376, the
grand prince, Dmitri, fitted out an expedition for the reconquest of
that country. The Russian arms were signally successful. The Tartars,
beaten on all hands, their cities burned, their boats destroyed, were
compelled to submit to the conqueror. A large sum of money was
extorted from them to be distributed among the troops. They were
forced to acknowledge themselves, in their turn, tributary to Russia,
and to accept Russian magistrates for the government of their cities.

Encouraged by this success, the grand prince made arrangements for
other exploits. A border warfare ensued, which was continued for
several years with alternating success and with great ferocity.
Neither party spared age or sex, and cities and villages were
indiscriminately committed to the flames. Russia was soon alarmed by
the rumor that Mamai, a Tartar chieftain, was approaching the
frontiers of Russia with one of the largest armies the Mogols had ever
raised. This intelligence roused the Russians to the highest pitch of
energy to meet their foes in a decisive battle. An immense force was
soon assembled at Moscow from all parts of the kingdom. After having
completed all his arrangements, Dmitri, with his chief captains,
repaired to the church of the Trinity to receive the benediction of
the metropolitan bishop.

"You will triumph," said the venerable ecclesiastic, "but only after
terrible carnage. You will vanquish the enemy, but your laurels will
be sprinkled with the blood of a vast number of Christian heroes."

The troops, accompanied by ecclesiastics who bore the banners of the
cross, passed out at the gate of the Kremlin. As the majestic host
defiled from the city, the grand prince passed the hours in the church
of Saint Michael, kneeling upon the tomb of his ancestors, fervently
imploring the blessing of Heaven. Animated by the strength which
prayer ever gives, he embraced his wife, saying, "God will be our
defender," and then, mounting his horse, placed himself at the head of
his army. It was a beautiful summer's day, calm, serene and cloudless,
and the whole army were sanguine in the hope that God would smile upon
their enterprise. Marching nearly south, along the valley of the
Moskwa, they reached, in a few days, the large city of Kolomna, a
hundred miles distant, on the banks of the Oka. Here they were joined
by several confederate princes, with their contingents of troops,
swelling the army to one hundred and fifty thousand men. Seventy-five
thousand of these were cavalry, superbly mounted. Never had Russia,
even in her days of greatest splendor, witnessed a more magnificent

Mamai, the Tartar khan, had assembled the horde, in numbers which he
deemed overwhelming, on the waters of the Don. Resolved not to await
the irruption of the foe, on the 20th of August, Dmitri, with his
army, crossed the Oka, and pressed forward towards the valley of the
Don. They reached this stream on the 6th of September. Soon
detachments of the advanced guards of the two armies met, and several
skirmishes ensued. Dmitri assembled his generals in solemn conclave,
and saying to them, "The hour of God's judgment has sounded," gave
minute directions for the conflict. Aided by a dense fog, which
concealed their operations from the view of the enemy, the army
crossed the Don, the cavalry fording the stream, while the infantry
passed over by a hastily-constructed bridge. Dmitri deployed his
columns in battle array upon the vast plain of Koulikof. A mound of
earth was thrown up, that Dmitri, upon its summit, might overlook the
whole plain.

As the Russian prince stood upon this pyramid and contemplated his
army, there was spread before him such a spectacle as mortal eyes
have seldom seen. A hundred and fifty thousand men were marshaled on
the plain. It was the morning of the 8th of September, 1380. Thousands
of banners fluttered in the breeze. The polished armor of the
cavaliers, cuirass, spear and helmet, glittered in the rays of the
sun. Seventy-five thousand steeds, gorgeously caparisoned, were
neighing and prancing over the verdant savanna. The soldiers,
according to their custom, shouted the prayer, which rose like the
roar of many waters, "Great God, grant to our sovereign the victory."
The whole sublime scene moved the soul of Dmitry to its profoundest
depths; and as he reflected that in a few hours perhaps the greater
portion of that multitude might lie dead upon the field, tears gushed
from his eyes, and kneeling upon the summit of the mound, in the
presence of the whole army, he extended his hands towards heaven in a
fervent prayer that God would protect Russia and Christianity from the
heel of the infidel. Then, mounting his horse, he rode along the
ranks, exclaiming,

"My brothers dearly beloved; my faithful companions in arms: by your
exploits this day you will live for ever in the memory of men; and
those of you who fall will find, beyond the tomb, the crown of

The Tartar host approached upon the boundless plain slowly and
cautiously, but in numbers even exceeding those of the Russians.
Notwithstanding the most earnest remonstrances of his generals, Dmitri
led the charge, exposing himself to every peril which the humblest
soldier was called to meet.

"It is not in me," said he, "to seek a place of safety while crying
out to you, '_My brothers, let us die for our country!_' My actions
shall correspond with my words. I am your chief. I will be your guide.
I will go in advance, and, if I die, it is for you to avenge me."

Again ascending the mound, the king, with a loud voice, read the
forty-sixth Psalm: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present
help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear though the earth be
removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the
sea." The battle was immediately commenced, with ferocity on both
sides which has probably never been surpassed. For three hours the two
armies were blended in a hand to hand fight, spreading over a space
seven miles in length. Blood flowed in torrents, and the sod was
covered with the slain. Here the Russians were victorious and the
Tartars fled before them. There the Tartars, with frenzied shouts,
chased the Russians in awful rout over the plain. Dmitri had stationed
a strong reserve behind a forest. When both parties were utterly
exhausted, suddenly this reserve emerged from their retreat and rushed
upon the foe. Vladimir, the brother of Dmitri, led the charge. The
Mogols, surprised, confounded, overwhelmed and utterly routed, in the
wildest confusion, and with outcries which rent the heavens, turned
and fled. "The God of the Christians has conquered," exclaimed the
Tartar chief, gnashing his teeth in despair. The Tartars were hewed
down by saber strokes from unexhausted arms, and trampled beneath the
hoofs of the war horse. The entire camp of the horde, with immense
booty of tents, chariots, horses, camels, cattle and precious
commodities of every kind, fell into the hands of the captors.

The valorous prince Vladimir, the hero of the day, returned to the
field of battle, which his cavalry had swept like a tornado, and
planting his banner upon a mound, with signal trumpets, summoned the
whole victorious host to rally around it. The princes, the nobles,
from every part of the extended field, gathered beneath its folds. But
to their consternation, the grand prince, Dmitri, was missing. Amidst
the surgings of the battle he had disappeared, and was nowhere to be



From 1380 to 1462.

Recovery of Dmitri.--New Tartar invasion.--The Assault and Capture of
Moscow.--New Subjugation of the Russians.--Lithuania Embraces
Christianity.--Escape of Vassali From the Horde.--Death of
Dmitri.--Tamerlane--His Origin and Career.--His Invasion of
India.--Defeat of Bajazet.--Tamerlane Invades Russia.--Preparations
for Resistance.--Sudden Retreat of the Tartars.--Death of
Vassali.--Accession of Vassali Vassilievitch.--The Disputed
Succession.--Appeal to the Khan.--Rebellion of Youri.--Cruelty of
Vassali.--The Retribution.

"Where is my brother?" exclaimed Vladimir; "where is he to whom we are
indebted for all this glory?" No one could give any information
respecting Dmitri. In the tumult he had disappeared. Sadly the
chieftains dispersed over the plain to search for him among the dead.
After a long exploration, two soldiers found him in the midst of a
heap of the slain. Stunned by a blow, he had fallen from his horse,
and was apparently lifeless. As with filial love they hung over his
remains, bathing his bloody brow, he opened his eyes. Gradually he
recovered consciousness; and as he saw the indications of triumph in
the faces of his friends, heard the words of assurance that he had
gained the victory, and witnessed the Russian banners all over the
field, floating above the dead bodies of the Tartars, in a transport
of joy he folded his hands upon his breast, closed his eyes and
breathed forth a fervent, grateful prayer to God. The princes stood
silently and reverently by, as their sovereign thus returned thanks to

Joy operated so effectually as a stimulus, that the prince, who had
been stunned, but not seriously wounded, mounted his horse and rode
over the hard-fought field. Though thousands of the Russians were
silent in death, the prince could count more than four times as many
dead bodies of the enemy. According to the annals of the time, a
hundred thousand Tartars were slain on that day. Couriers were
immediately dispatched to all the principalities with the joyful
tidings. The anxiety had been so great, that, from the moment the army
passed the Don, the churches had been thronged by day and by night,
and incessant prayers had ascended to heaven for its success. _No_
language can describe the enthusiasm which the glad tidings inspired.
It was felt that henceforth the prosperity, the glory, the
independence of Russia was secured for ever; that the supremacy of the
horde was annihilated; that the blood of the Christians, shed upon the
plain of Koulikof, was the last sacrifice Russia was doomed to make.

But in these anticipations, Russia was destined to be sadly
disappointed. Mamai, the discomfited Tartar chieftain, overwhelmed
with shame and rage, reached, with the wreck of his army, one of the
great encampments of the Tartars on the banks of the Volga. A new
khan, the world-renowned Tamerlane, now swayed the scepter of Tartar
power. Two years were devoted to immense preparations for the new
invasion of Russia. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Dmitri was informed
that the Tartars were approaching in strength unprecedented. Russia
was unprepared for the attack, and terror congealed all hearts. The
invaders, crossing the Volga and the Oka, pressed rapidly towards

Dmitri, deeming it in vain to attempt the defense of the capital,
fled, with his wife and children, two hundred miles north, to the
fortress of Kostroma. A young prince, Ostei, was left in command of
the city, with orders to hold it to the last extremity against the
Tartars, and with the assurance that the king would return, as
speedily as possible, with an army from Kostroma to his relief. The
panic in the city was fearful, and the gates were crowded, day and
night, by the women and children, the infirm and the timid seeking
safety in flight. Ostei made the most vigorous preparations for
defense, while the king, with untiring energy, was accumulating an
army of relief. The merchants and laborers from the neighboring
villages, and even the monks and priests crowded to Moscow, demanding
arms for the defense of the metropolis. From the battlements of the
city, the advance of the barbarians could be traced by the volumes of
smoke which arose, as from a furnace, through the day, and by the
flames which flashed along the horizon, from the burning cities and
villages, through the night.

On the evening of the 23d of August, 1382, the Tartars appeared before
the gates of the city. Some of the chiefs rode slowly around the
ramparts, examining the ditch, the walls, the height of the towers,
and selected the most favorable spot for commencing the assault. The
Tartars did not appear in such overwhelming numbers as report had
taught the Russians to expect, and they felt quite sanguine that they
should be able to defend the city. But the ensuing morning dispelled
all these hopes. It then appeared that these Tartars were but the
advance guard of the great army. With the earliest dawn, as far as the
eye could reach, the inundation of warriors came rolling on, and
terror vanquished all hearts. This army was under the command of a
Tartar chieftain called Toktamonish. The assault was instantly
commenced, and continued without cessation four days and nights.

At length the city fell, vanquished, it is said, by stratagem rather
than by force. The Tartars clambering, by means of ten thousand
ladders, over the walls, and rushing through the gates, with no ear
for mercy, commenced the slaughter of the inhabitants. The city was
set on fire in all directions, and a scene of horror ensued
indescribable and unimaginable. The barbarians, laden with booty, and
satiated with blood and carnage, encamped on the plain outside of the
walls, exulting in the entireness of their vengeance. Moscow, the
gorgeous capital, was no more. The dwellings of the city became but
the funeral pyre for the bodies of the inhabitants. The Tartars,
intoxicated with blood, dispersed over the whole principality; and all
its populous cities, Vladimir, Zvenigorod, Yourief, Mojaisk and
Dmitrof, experienced the same fate with that of Moscow. The khan then
retired, crossing the Oka at Kolomna.

Dmitri arrived with his army at Moscow, only to behold the ruins. The
enemy had already disappeared. In profoundest affliction, he gave
orders for the interment of the charred and blackened bodies of the
dead. Eighty thousand, by count, were interred, which number did not
include the many who had been consumed entirely by the conflagration.
The walls of the city and the towers of the Kremlin still remained.
With great energy, the prince devoted himself to the rebuilding and
the repeopling of the capital; many years, however, passed away ere it
regained even the shadow of its former splendor.

Thus again Russia, brought under the sway of the Tartars, was
compelled to pay tribute, and Dmitri was forced to send his own son to
the horde, where he was long detained as a hostage. The grand duchy of
Lithuania, bordering on Poland, was spread over a region of sixty
thousand square miles. The grand duke, Jaghellon, a burly pagan, had
married Hedwige, Queen of Poland, promising, as one of the conditions
of this marriage which would unite Lithuania and Poland, to embrace
Christianity.[3] He was married and baptized at Cracow, receiving the
Christian name of Ladislaus. He then ordered the adoption of
Christianity throughout Lithuania, and the universal baptism of his
subjects. In order to facilitate the baptism of over a million at
once, the inhabitants were collected at several central points. They
were arranged in vast groups, and were sprinkled with water which had
been blessed by the priests. As the formula of baptism was pronounced,
to one entire group the name of Peter was given, to another the name
of Paul, to another that of John. These converts were received, not
into the Greek church, which was dominant-in Russia, but to the Romish
church, which prevailed in Poland. Jaghellon became immediately the
inveterate foe of the Russians, whom he called heretics, for new
proselytes are almost invariably inspired with fanatic zeal, and he
forbade the marriage of any of his Catholic subjects with members of
the Russian church. This event caused great grief to Dmitri, for he
had relied upon the coöperation of the warlike Lithuanians to aid him
to repel the Mogols.

[Footnote 3: For an account of the romantic circumstances attending
this marriage, see _Empire of Austria_, pp. 53 and 54.]

Affairs were in this condition when Vassali, the son of Dmitri,
escaped from the horde after a three years' captivity, and, traversing
Poland and Lithuania, arrived safely at Moscow. Dmitri was now forty
years of age. He was a man of colossal stature, and of vigorous
health. His hair and beard were black as the raven's wing, and his
ruddy cheek and piercing eye seemed to give promise of a long life.
But suddenly he was seized with a fatal disease, and it was soon
evident that death was near. The intellect of the dying prince was
unclouded, and, with much fortitude, in a long interview, he bade
adieu to his wife and his children. He designated his son Vassali,
then but seventeen years of age, as his successor, and then, after
offering a touching prayer, folded his hands across his breast, in the
form of a cross, and died without a struggle. The grief of the
Russians was profound and universal. For ages they had not known a
prince so illustrious or so devoted to the welfare of his country.

The young Vassali had been but a few years on the throne when
Tamerlane himself advanced with countless hordes from the far Orient,
crushing down all opposition, and sweeping over prostrate nations like
the pestilence which had preceded him, and whose track he followed.
Tamerlane was the son of a petty Mogol prince. He was born in a season
of anarchy, and when the whole Tartar horde was distracted with civil
dissensions. The impetuous young man had hardly begun to think, ere he
had formed the resolve to attain the supremacy over all the Mogol
tribes, to conquer the whole known world, and thus to render himself
immortal in the annals of glory. Behind a curtain of mountains, and
protected by vast deserts, his persuasive genius collected a large
band of followers, who with enthusiasm adopted his views and hailed
him their chief.

After inuring them to fatigue, and drilling them thoroughly in the
exercises of battle, he commenced his career. The most signal victory
followed his steps, and he soon acquired the title of hero. Ambitious,
war-loving, thousands crowded to his standards, and he had but just
attained the age of thirty-five when he was the undisputed monarch of
all the Mogol tribes, and the whole Asiatic world trembled at the
mention of his name. He took his seat proudly upon the throne of
Genghis Khan, a crown of gold was placed upon his brow, a royal girdle
encircled his waist, and in accordance with oriental usage his robes
glittered with jewels and gold. At his feet were his renowned
chieftains, kneeling around his throne in homage. Tamerlane then took
an oath, that by his future exploits he would justify the title he had
already acquired, and that all the kings of the earth should yet lie
prostrate before him.

And now commenced an incessant series of wars, and victory ever
crowned the banners of Tamerlane. He was soon in possession of all the
countries on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. He then entered
Persia, and conquered the whole realm between the Oxus and the Tigris.
Bagdad, until now the proud capital of the caliphs, submitted to his
sway. Soon the whole region of Asia, from the Sea of Aral to the
Persian Gulf, and from Teflis to the great Arabian desert, recognized
the empire of Tamerlane. The conqueror then assembled his companions
in arms, and thus addressed them:

"Friends and fellow-soldiers; fortune, who recognizes me as her child,
invites us to new conquests. The universe trembles at my name, and the
movement even of one of my fingers causes the earth to quake. The
realms of India are open to us. Woe to those who oppose my will. I
will annihilate them unless they acknowledge me as their lord."

With flying banners and pealing trumpets he crossed the Indus, and
marched upon Delhi, which for three centuries had been governed by the
Mohammedan sultans. _No_ opposition could retard the sweep of his
locust legions; and the renowned city at once passed into his hands.
Indulging in no delay, the order was still _onwards_, and the hosts
soon bathed their dusty limbs in the waves of the Ganges. Here he was
informed that Bajazet, the Grand Seignior of Turkey, was on a career
of conquest which rivaled his own; that he had overrun all of Asia
Minor; that, crossing the Hellespont, he had subjugated Serbia,
Macedonia, Thessaly, and that he was even besieging the imperial city
of Constantine. The jealousy of Tamerlane was thoroughly aroused. He
instantly turned upon his steps to seek this foe, worthy of his arms,
dispatching to him the following defiant message:

"Learn," wrote Tamerlane to Bajazet, "that the earth is covered with
my warriors from sea-to sea. Kings compose my body guard, and range
themselves as servants before my tent. Are you ignorant that the
destiny of the universe is in my hands? Who are you? A Turkoman ant.
And dare you raise your head against an elephant? If in the forests of
Natolia you have obtained some trivial successes; if the timid
Europeans have fled like cowards before you, return thanks to Mohammed
for your success, for it is not owing to your own valor. Listen to the
counsels of wisdom. Be content with the heritage of your fathers, and,
however small that heritage may be, beware how you attempt, in the
slightest degree, to extend its limits, lest death be the penalty of
your temerity."

To this insolent letter, Bajazet responded in terms equally defiant.

"For a long time," he wrote, "Bajazet has burned with the desire to
measure himself with Tamerlane, and he returns thanks to the
All-powerful that Tamerlane now comes himself, to present his head to
the cimeter of Bajazet."

The two conquerors gathered all their resources for the great and
decisive battle. Tamerlane speedily reached Aleppo, which city, after
a bloody conflict, he entered in triumph. The Tartar chieftain was an
impostor and a hypocrite, as well as a merciless butcher of his
fellow-men. He assembled the learned men of Aleppo, and assured them
in most eloquent terms that he was the devoted friend of God, and that
the enemies who resisted his will were responsible to God for all the
evils their obstinacy rendered it necessary for him to inflict. Before
every conflict he fell upon his knees in the presence of the army in
prayer. After every victory, he assembled his troops to return thanks
to God. There are some sad accounts to be settled at the judgment day.
In marching from Aleppo to Damascus, Tamerlane visited ostentatiously
the pretended tomb of Noah, that upon the shrine of that patriarch, so
profoundly venerated by the Mohammedans, he might display his

Damascus was pillaged of all its treasures, which had been
accumulating for ages, and was then laid in ashes. The two armies,
headed by their respective chieftains, met in Galacia, near Ancyra. It
was the 16th of June, 1402. The storm of war raged for a few hours,
and the army of Bajazet was cut to pieces by superior numbers, and he
himself was taken captive. Tamerlane treated his prisoner with the
most condescending kindness, seated him by his side upon the imperial
couch, and endeavored to solace him by philosophical disquisitions
upon the mutability of all human affairs. The annals of the day do
not sustain the rumor that Bajazet was confined in an iron cage.

The empire of Tamerlane now extended from the Caspian and the
Mediterranean to the Nile and the Ganges. He established his capital
at Samarcand, some six hundred miles east of the Caspian Sea. To this
central capital he returned after each of his expeditions, devoting
immense treasures to the erection of mosques, the construction of
gardens, the excavation of canals and the erection of cities. And now,
in the pride and plenitude of his power, he commenced his march upon

His army, four hundred thousand strong, defiled from the gates of
Samarcand, and marching to the north, between the Aral and the Caspian
Seas, traversed vast plains, where thousands of wild cattle had long
enjoyed undisturbed pasturage. These cattle afforded them abundant
food. The chase, in which they engaged on a magnificent scale, offered
a very brilliant spectacle. Thousands of horsemen spread out in an
immense circle, making the tent of the emperor the central point. With
trumpet blasts, the clash of arms and clouds of javelins and arrows,
the cattle and wild beasts of every kind were driven in upon the
imperial tent, where Tamerlane and his lords amused themselves with
their destruction. The soldiers gathered around the food thus
abundantly supplied, innumerable fires were built, and feasting and
mirth closed the day. Vast herds of cattle were driven along for the
ordinary supply of the troops, affording all the nourishment which
those rude barbarians required. Pressing forward, in a long march,
which occupied several months, Tamerlane crossed the Volga, and
entered the south-eastern principalities of Russia. The tidings of the
invasion spread rapidly, and all Russia was paralyzed with terror. The
grand prince, Vassali, however, strove with all his energies to rouse
the Russians to resistance. An army was speedily collected, and
veteran leaders placed in command. The Russian troops were rapidly
concentrated near Kolomna, on the banks of the Oka, to dispute the
passage of the river. All the churches of Moscow and of Russia were
thronged with the terrified inhabitants imploring divine aid, the
clergy conducting the devotions by day and by night.

Tamerlane, crossing from the Volga to the Don, ascended the valley of
the latter stream, spreading the most cruel devastation everywhere
around him. It was his design to confound his enemies with terror. He
was pressing on resistlessly towards Moscow, and had arrived within a
few days' march of the Russian army on the banks of the Oka, when
suddenly he stopped, and remained fifteen days without moving from his
encampment. Then, for some cause, which history has never satisfactory
explained, he turned, retraced his steps, and his banners soon
disappeared beyond the frontiers of the empire. It was early in
September when he commenced this retrograde march. Some have surmised
that he feared the Russians, strongly posted on the banks of the Oka,
others that he dreaded the approaching Russian winter; others that
intelligence of some conspiracy in his distant realms arrested his
steps, and others that God, in answer to prayer, directly interposed,
and rescued Russia from ruin.

The joy of the Russians was almost delirious; and no one thought even
of pursuing a foe, who without arriving within sight of the banners of
the grand prince, or without hearing the sound of his war trumpets,
had fled as in a panic.

The whole of the remaining reign of Vassali was a scene of tumult and
strife. Civil war agitated the principalities. The Lithuanians, united
with Poland, were incessant in their endeavors to extend the triumph
of their arms over the Russian provinces; and the Tartar hordes again
swept Russia with the most horrible devastation. In the midst of
calamities and lamentations, Vassali approached his grave. He died on
the 29th of February, 1425, in the fifty-third year of his age, and
the thirty-sixth of his reign.

Vassali Vassalievitch, son of the deceased monarch, was but ten years
of age when the scepter of Russia passed into his hands. Youri, the
eldest brother of the late king, demanded the throne in accordance
with the ancient custom of descent, and denied the right of his
brother to bequeath the crown to his son. After much trouble, both of
the rival claimants consented to submit the question to the decision
of the Tartar khan, to whom it appears that Russia still paid tribute.
Vassali was to remain upon the throne until the question was decided.
Six years passed away, and yet no answer to the appeal had been
obtained from the khan. At length both agreed to visit the horde in
person. It was a perilous movement, and Vassali, as yet but a boy
sixteen years of age, wept bitterly as he left the church, where he
had implored the prayers of the faithful, and set out upon his
journey. All the powers of bribery and intrigue were employed by each
party to obtain a favorable verdict.

A tribunal was appointed to adjudge the cause, over which Machmet, the
khan, presided. Vassali claimed the dominion, on the ground of the new
rule of descent adopted by the Russian princes. Youri pleaded the
ancient custom of the empire. The power which the Tartar horde still
exercised, may be inferred from the humiliating speech which Jean, a
noble of Moscow, made on this occasion, in advocacy of the cause of
the young Vassali. Approaching Machmet, and bowing profoundly before
him, he said,

"Sovereign king, your humble slave conjures you to permit him to speak
in behalf of his young prince. Youri founds his claim upon the ancient
institutions of Russia. Vassali appeals only to your generous
protection, for he knows that Russia is but one of the provinces of
your vast domains. You, as its sovereign, can dispose of the throne
according to your pleasure. Condescend to reflect that the uncle
_demands_, the nephew _supplicates_. What signify ancient or modern
customs when all depends upon your royal will? Is it not that august
will which has confirmed the testament of Vassali Dmitrievitch, by
which his son was nominated as heir of the principality of Moscow? For
six years, Vassali Vassilievitch has been upon the throne. Would you
have allowed him thus to remain there had you not recognized him as
the legitimate prince?"

This base flattery accomplished its object. Vassali was pronounced
grand prince, and, in accordance with Tartar custom, the uncle was
compelled to hold the bridle while his successful rival, at the door
of the tent, mounted his horse. On their return to Moscow, Vassali was
crowned, with great pomp, in the church of Notre Dame. Youri, while at
the horde, dared not manifest the slightest opposition to the
decision, but, having returned to his own country, he murmured loudly,
rallied his friends, excited disaffection, and soon kindled the flames
of civil war.

Youri soon marched, with an army, upon Moscow, took the city by storm,
and Vassali, who had displayed but little energy of character, was
made captive. Youri proclaimed himself grand prince, and Vassali in
vain endeavored to move the compassion of his captor by tears. The
uncle, however, so far had pity for his vanquished nephew as to
appoint him to the governorship of the city of Kolomna. This seemed
perfectly to satisfy the pusillanimous young man, and, after partaking
of a splendid feast with his uncle, he departed, rejoicing, from the
capital where he had been enthroned, to the provincial city assigned
to him.

A curious result ensued. Youri brought to Moscow his own friends, who
were placed in the posts of honor and authority. Such general
discontent was excited, that the citizens, in crowds, abandoned Moscow
and repaired to Kolomna, and rallied, with the utmost enthusiasm,
around their ejected sovereign. The dwellings and the streets of
Moscow became silent and deserted. Kolomna, on the contrary, was
thronged. To use the expression of a Russian annalist, the people
gathered around their prince as bees cluster around their queen. The
tidings of the life, activity and thriving business to be found at
Kolomna, lured ever-increasing numbers, and, in a few months, grass
was growing in the streets of Moscow, while Kolomna had become the
thronged metropolis of the principality. The nobles, with their
armies, gathered around Vassali, and Youri was so thoroughly
abandoned, that, convinced of the impossibility of maintaining his
position, he sent word to his nephew that he yielded to him the
capital, and immediately left for his native principality of Galitch.

The journey of Vassali, from Kolomna to Moscow, a distance of two
hundred miles, was a brilliant triumph. An immense crowd accompanied
the grand prince the whole distance, raising incessant shouts of joy.
But Youri was by no means prepared to relinquish his claim, and soon
the armies of the two rivals were struggling upon the field of battle.
While the conflict was raging, Youri suddenly died at the age of sixty
years. One of the sons of Youri made an attempt to regain the throne
which his father had lost, but he failed in the attempt, and was taken
captive. Vassali, as cruel as he was pusillanimous, in vengeance,
plucked out the eyes of his cousin. Vassali, now seated peacefully
upon his throne, exerted himself to keep on friendly relations with
the horde, by being prompt in the payment of the tribute which they

In June, 1444, the Tartars, having taken some offense, again invaded
Russia. Vassali had no force of character to resist them. Under his
weak reign the grand principality had lost all its vigor. The Tartars
surprised the Russian army near Moscow, and overwhelming them with
numbers, two to one, trampled them beneath their horses. Vassali
fought fiercely, as sometimes even the most timid will fight when
hedged in by despair. An arrow pierced his hand; a saber stroke cut
off several of his fingers; a javelin pierced his shoulder; thirteen
wounds covered his head and breast, when by the blow of a battle-ax
he was struck to the ground and taken prisoner. The Tartars, elated
with their signal victory, and fearful that all Russia might rise for
the rescue of its prince, retreated rapidly, carrying with them their
captive and immense booty. As they retired they plundered and burned
every city and village on their way. After a captivity of three months
the prince was released, upon paying a moderate ransom, and returned
to Moscow.

Still new sorrows awaited the prince. He was doomed to experience
that, even in this world, Providence often rewards a man according to
his deeds. The brothers of the prince, whose eyes Vassali had caused
to be plucked out, formed a conspiracy against him; and they were
encouraged in this conspiracy by the detestation with which the grand
prince was now generally regarded.

During the night of the 12th of February, 1446, the conspirators
entered the Kremlin. Vassali, who attempted to compensate for his
neglect of true religion by punctilious and ostentatious observance of
ecclesiastical rites, was in the church of the Trinity attending a
midnight mass. Silently the conspirators surrounded the church with
their troops. Vassali was prostrate upon the tomb of a Russian saint,
apparently absorbed in devotion. Soon the alarm was given, and the
prince, in a paroxysm of terror, threw himself upon his knees, and for
once, at least, in his life, prayed with sincerity and fervor. His
pathetic cries to God for help caused many of the nobles around him to
weep. The prince was immediately seized, no opposition being offered,
and was confined in one of the palaces of Moscow. Four nights after
his capture, some agents of the conspirators entered his apartment and
tore out his eyes, as he had torn out the eyes of his cousin. He was
then sent, with his wife, to a castle in a distant city, and his
children were immured in a convent. Dmitri Chemyaka, the prime mover
of this conspiracy, now assumed the reins of government. Gradually the
grand principality had lost its power over the other principalities
of the empire, and Russia was again, virtually, a conglomeration of
independent states.

Public opinion now turned so sternly against Chemyaka, and such bitter
murmurs rose around his throne for the cruelty he had practiced upon
Vassali, that he felt constrained to liberate the prince, and to
assign him a residence of splendor upon the shores of lake Kouben.
Chemyaka, thus constrained to set the body of his captive free, wished
to enchain his soul by the most solemn oaths. With all his court he
visited Vassali. The blinded prince, with characteristic duplicity,
expressed heartfelt penitence in view of his past course, and took the
most solemn oaths never to attempt to disturb the reign of his

Vassali received the city of Vologda in appanage, to which he retired,
with his family, and with the nobles and bishops who still adhered to
him. But a few months had passed ere he, with his friends, had
enlisted the coöperation of many princes, and especially of the Tartar
horde, and was on the march with a strong army to drive Chemyaka from
Moscow. Chemyaka, utterly discomfited, fled, and Moscow fell easily
into the hands of Vassali the blind.

Anguish of body and of soul seems now to have changed the nature of
Vassali, and with energy, disinterestedness and wisdom undeveloped
before, he consecrated himself to the welfare of his country. He
associated with himself his young son Ivan, who subsequently attained
the title of the Great. "But Chemyaka," writes Karamsin, "still lived,
and his heart, ferocious, implacable, sought new means of vengeance.
His death seemed necessary for the safety of the state, and some one
gave him poison, of which he died the next day. The author, of an
action so contrary to religion, to the principles of morality and of
honor, remains unknown. A lawyer, named Beda, who conveyed the news of
his death to Moscow, was elevated to the rank of secretary by the
grand prince, who exhibited on that occasion an indiscreet joy." On
the 14th of March, 1462, Vassali terminated his eventful and
tumultuous life, at the age of forty-seven. His reign was during one
of the darkest periods in the Russian annals. Life to him, and to his
cotemporaries, was but a pitiless tempest, through which hardly one
ray of sunshine penetrated. It was under his reign that the horrible
punishment of the _knout_ was introduced into Moscow, a barbaric mode
of scourging unknown to the ancient Russians. Fire-arms were also
beginning to be introduced, which weapons have diminished rather than
increased the carnage of fields of battle.



From 1462 to 1480.

Ivan III.--His Precocity and Rising Power.--The Three Great
Hordes.--Russian Expedition Against Kezan.--Defeat of the
Tartars.--Capture of Constantinople by the Turks.--The Princess
Sophia.--Her Journey to Russia, and Marriage with Ivan
III.--Increasing Renown of Russia.--New Difficulty with the
Horde.--The Tartars Invade Russia.--Strife on the Banks of the
Oka.--Letter of the Metropolitan Bishop.--Unprecedented
Panic.--Liberation of Russia.

In the middle of the fifteenth century, Constantinople was to Russia
what Paris, in the reign of Louis XIV., was to modern Europe. The
imperial city of Constantine was the central point of ecclesiastical
magnificence, of courtly splendor, of taste, of all intellectual
culture.[4] To the Greeks the Russians were indebted for their
religion, their civilization and their social culture.

[Footnote 4: Karamsin, vol. ix., p. 436.]

Ivan III., who had for some time been associated with his father in
the government, was now recognized as the undisputed prince of the
grand principality, though his sway over the other provinces of Russia
was very feeble, and very obscurely defined. At twelve years of age,
Ivan was married to Maria, a princess of Tver. At eighteen years of
age he was the father of a son, to whom he gave his own name. When he
had attained the age of twenty-two years, his father died, and the
reins of government passed entirely into his hands. From his earliest
years, he gave indications of a character of much more than ordinary
judgment and maturity. Upon his accession to the throne, he not only
declined making any appeal to the khan for the ratification of his
authority, but refused to pay the tribute which the horde had so long
extorted. The result was, that the Tartars were speedily rallying
their forces, with vows of vengeance. But on the march, fortunately
for Russia, they fell into a dispute among themselves, and exhausted
their energies in mutual slaughter.

According to the Greek chronology, the world was then approaching the
end of the seven thousandth year since the creation, and the
impression was universal that the end of the world was at hand. It is
worthy of remark that this conviction seemed rather to increase
recklessness and crime than to be promotive of virtue. Bat the years
glided on, and gradually the impression faded away. Ivan, with
extraordinary energy and sagacity, devoted himself to the
consolidation of the Russian empire, and the development of all its
sources of wealth. The refractory princes he assailed one by one, and,
favored by a peculiar combination of circumstances, succeeded in
chastising them into obedience.

The great Mogol power was essentially concentrated in three immense
hordes. All these three combined when there was a work of national
importance to be achieved. The largest of the hordes, and the most
eastern, spread over a region of undefined extent, some hundreds of
miles east of the Caspian Sea. The most western occupied a large
territory upon the Volga and the Kama, called Kezan. From this, their
encampment, where they had already erected many flourishing cities,
enriched by commerce with India and Greece, they were continually
ravaging the frontiers of Russia, often penetrating the country three
or four hundred miles, laying the largest cities in ashes, and then
retiring laden with plunder and prisoners. This encampment of the
horde was but five hundred miles east of Moscow; but much of the
country directly intervening was an uninhabited waste, so great was
the terror which the barbarians inspired.

Ivan resolved to take Kezan from the horde. It was the boldest
resolve which any Russian prince had conceived for ages. All the
mechanics in the great cities which lined the banks of the upper Volga
and the Oka, were employed in constructing barges, which were armed
with the most approved instruments of war. The enthusiasm of Russia
was roused to the highest pitch by this naval expedition, which
presented a spectacle as novel as it was magnificent and exciting.

War has its pageantry as well as its woe. The two flotillas, with
fluttering pennants and resounding music, and crowded with
gayly-dressed and sanguine warriors, floated down the streams until
they met, at the confluence of these rivers, near Nizni Novgorod. Here
the two fleets, covering the Volga for many leagues, were united.
Spreading their sails, they passed rapidly down the river about two
hundred miles, until they arrived at Kezan, the capital of the horde.
Deeming their enterprise a religious one, in which the cross of Christ
was to be planted against the banners of the infidel, they all partook
of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and engaged in the most earnest
exercises of devotion the evening before they reached their place of

In those days intelligence was only transmitted by means of couriers,
at vast expense, and either accompanied by an army or by a strong body
guard. The Mogols had no suspicion of the tempest which was about to
break over their heads. On the 21st of May, 1469, before the dawn of
the morning, the Russians leaped upon the shore near Kezan, the
capital, and with trumpet blasts and appalling cries, rushed upon the
sleeping inhabitants. Without resistance they penetrated the streets.
The Russians, in war, were as barbaric as the Tartars. The city was
set on fire; indiscriminate slaughter ensued, and awful vengeance was
taken for the woes which the horde had for ages inflicted upon Russia.
But few escaped. Those who fell not by the sword perished in the
flames. Many Russian prisoners were found in the city who had been in
slavery for years.

Thus far, success, exceeding the most sanguine anticipations, had
accompanied the enterprise. The victorious Russians, burdened with the
plunder of the city, reembarked, and, descending the river some
distance, landed upon an island which presented every attraction for a
party of pleasure, and there they passed a week in rest, in feasting
and in all festive joys. Ibrahim, prince of the horde, escaped the
general carnage, and, in a few days, rallied such a force of cavalry
as to make a fierce assault upon the invaders. The strife continued,
from morning until night, without any decisive results, when both
parties were glad to seek repose, with the Volga flowing between them.
The next morning neither were willing to renew the combat. Ibrahim
soon had a flotilla upon the Volga nearly equal to that of the
Russians. The war now raged, embittered by every passion which can
goad the soul of man to madness.

One of the Russian princes, a man of astonishing nerve and agility, in
one of these conflicts sprang into a Tartar boat, smiting, with his
war club, upon the right hand and the left, and, leaping from boat to
boat of the foe, warded off every blow, striking down multitudes,
until he finally returned, in safety, to his own flotilla, cheered by
the huzzas of his troops. The Mogols were punished, not subdued; but
this punishment, so unexpected and severe, was quite a new experience
for them. The Russian troops, elated with their success, returned to
Nizni Novgorod. In the autumn, Ivan III. sent another army, under the
command of his two brothers, Youri and André, to coöperate with the
troops in Nizni Novgorod in a new expedition. This army left Moscow in
two divisions, one of which marched across the country, and the other
descended the Volga in barges. Ibrahim had made every effort in his
power to prepare to repel the invasion. A decisive battle was fought.
The Mogols, completely vanquished, were compelled to accept such
terms as the conqueror condescended to grant.

This victory attracted the attention of Europe, and the great
monarchies of the southern portion of the continent began to regard
Russia as an infant power which might yet rise to importance. Another
event at this time occurred which brought Russia still more
prominently into the view of the nations of the South. In the year
1467, the grand prince, with tears of anguish, buried his young and
beautiful spouse. Five years of widowhood had passed away. The Turks
had overrun Asia Minor, and, crossing the Hellespont under Mohammed
II., with bloody cimeter had taken Constantinople by storm, cutting
down sixty thousand of its inhabitants, and bringing all Greece under
the Turkish sway. The Mohammedan placed his heel upon the head of the
Christian, and Constantinople became the capital of Moslem power. This
was in the year 1472.

Constantin Paleologue was the last of the Grecian emperors. One of his
brothers, Thomas, escaping from the ruins of his country, fled to
Rome, where, in consideration of his illustrious rank and lineage, he
received a large monthly stipend from the pope. Thomas had a daughter,
Sophia, a princess of rare beauty, and richly endowed with all mental
graces and attractions. The pope sought a spouse worthy of this
princess, who was the descendant of a long line of emperors. Mohammed
II., having overrun all Greece, flushed with victory, was collecting
his forces for the invasion of the Italian peninsula, and his vaunt,
_that he would feed his horse from the altar of St. Peters_, had
thrilled the ear of Catholic Europe. The pope, Paul II., anxious to
rouse all the Christian powers against the Turks, wished to make the
marriage of the Grecian princess promotive of his political views. Her
beauty, her genius and her exalted birth rendered her a rare prize.

Rumors had reached Rome of the vast population and extraordinary
wealth of Russia; nearly all the great Russian rivers emptied into the
Black Sea, and along these channels the Russian flotillas could easily
descend upon the conquerors of Constantinople; Russia was united with
Greece by the ties of the same religion, and the recent victory over
the Tartars had given the grand prince great renown. These
considerations influenced the pope to send an embassador to Moscow,
proposing to Ivan III. the hand of Sophia. To increase the apparent
value of the offer, the embassador was authorized to state that the
princess had refused the hand of the King of France, and also of the
Duke of Milan, she being unwilling, as a member of the Greek church,
to ally herself with a prince of the Latin religion.

Nothing could have been more attractive to Ivan III., and his nobles,
than this alliance. "God himself," exclaimed a bishop, "must have
conferred the gift. She is a shoot from an imperial tree which
formerly overspread all orthodox Christians. This alliance will make
Moscow another Constantinople, and will confer upon our sovereign the
rights of the Grecian emperors."

The grand prince, not deeming it decorous to appear too eager, and yet
solicitous lest he might lose the prize, sent an embassador, with a
numerous suite, to Rome, with a letter to the pope, and to report more
particularly respecting the princess, not forgetting to bring him her
portrait. This embassage was speedily followed by another, authorized
to complete the arrangements. The embassadors were received with
signal honors by Sextus IV., who had just succeeded Paul II., and at
length it was solemnly announced, in a full conclave of cardinals, on
the 22d of May, 1472, that the Russian prince wished to espouse
Sophia. Some of the cardinals objected to the orthodoxy of Ivan III.;
but the pope replied that it was by condescension and kindness alone
that they could hope to open the eyes of one spiritually blind; a
sentiment which it is to be regretted that the court of Rome and also
all other communions have too often ignored.

On the 1st of June the princess was sacredly affianced in the church
of St. Peter's to the prince of Moscow, the embassadors of Ivan III.
assuring the pope of the zeal of their monarch for the happy reunion
of the Greek and Latin churches. The pope conferred a very rich dowry
upon Sophia, and sent his legate to accompany her to Russia, attended
by a splendid suite of the most illustrious Romans. The affianced
princess had a special court of her own, with its functionaries of
every grade, and its established etiquette. A large number of Greeks
followed her to Moscow, hoping to find in that distant capital a
second country. Directions were given by the pope that, in every city
through which she should pass, the princess should receive the honors
due to her rank, and that, especially throughout Italy and Germany,
she should be furnished with entertainment, relays of horses and
guides, until she should arrive at the frontiers of Russia.

Sophia left Rome on the 24th of August, and after a rapid journey of
six days, arrived, on the 1st of September, at Lubec, on the extreme
southern shore of the Baltic. Here she remained ten days, and on the
10th of September embarked in a ship expressly and gorgeously equipped
for her accommodation. A sail of eight hundred miles along the Baltic
Sea, which occupied twenty days, conveyed the princess to Revel, near
the mouth of the Gulf of Finland. Arriving at this city on the 30th of
September, she remained there for rest, ten days, during which time
she was regaled with the utmost magnificence by the authorities of the
place. Couriers had been immediately dispatched, by the way of
Novgorod, to Moscow, to inform the prince of her arrival. Her journey
from Revel to lake Tchoude presented but a continued triumphal show.
On the 11th of October she reached the shores of the lake. A flotilla
of barges, decorated with garlands and pennants, here awaited her. A
pleasant sail of two days conveyed her across the lake. Immediately
upon landing at Pskov, she repaired, with all her retinue, to the
church of Notre Dame, to give thanks to Heaven for the prosperity
which had thus far attended her journey. From the church she was
conducted to the palace of the prince of that province, where she
received from the nobles many precious gifts.

After a five days' sojourn at Pskov, she left the city to continue her
journey. Upon taking her departure, she aroused the enthusiasm of the
citizens by the following words:

"I must hasten to present myself before your prince who is soon to be
mine. I thank the magistrates, the nobles and the citizens generally
for the reception which they have given me, and I promise never to
neglect to plead the cause of Pskov at the court of Moscow."

At Novgorod she was again entertained with all the splendor which
Russian opulence and art could display. The Russian winter had already
commenced, and the princess entered Moscow, in a sledge, on the 12th
of November. An innumerable crowd accompanied her. She was welcomed at
the gates of the city by the metropolitan bishop, who conducted her to
the church, where she received his benediction. She was then presented
to the mother of the grand prince, who introduced her to her future
spouse. Immediately the marriage ceremony was performed with the most
imposing pomp of the Greek church.

This marriage contributed much in making Russia better known
throughout Europe. In that age, far more than now, exalted birth was
esteemed the greatest of earthly honors; and Sophia, the daughter of a
long line of emperors, was followed by the eyes of every court in
Europe to her distant destination. Moreover, many Greeks, of high
aesthetic and intellectual culture, exiled from their country by the
domination of the Turk, followed their princess to Russia. They, by
their knowledge of the arts and sciences, rendered essential service
to their adopted kingdom, which was just emerging from barbarism. They
enriched the libraries by the books which they had rescued from the
barbarism of the Turks, and contributed much to the eclat of the court
of Moscow by the introduction of the pompous ceremonies of the Grecian
court. Indeed, from this date Moscow was often called a second
Constantinople. The capital was rapidly embellished with palaces and
churches, constructed in the highest style of Grecian and Italian
architecture. From Italy, also, mechanics were introduced, who
established foundries for casting cannon, and mints for the coinage of

The prominent object in the mind of Ivan III. was the consolidation of
all the ancient principalities into one great empire, being firmly
resolved to justify the title which he had assumed, of _Sovereign of
all the Russias_. He wished to give new vigor to the monarchical
power, to abolish the ancient system of almost independent appanages
which was leading to incessant wars, and to wrest from the princes
those prerogatives which limited the authority of the sovereign. This
was a formidable undertaking, requiring great sagacity and firmness,
but it would doubtless be promotive of the welfare of Russia to be
under the sway of one general sovereign, rather than to be exposed to
the despotism of a hundred petty and quarrelsome princes. Ivan III.
was anxious to accomplish this result without violating any treaty,
without committing any arbitrary or violent act which could rouse

That he might triumph over the princes, it was necessary for him to
secure the affections of the people. The palace was consequently
rendered easy of access to them all. Appointed days were consecrated
to justice, and, from morning until evening, the grand prince listened
to any complaints from his subjects. The old magistrates had generally
forfeited all claim to esteem. Regarding only their own interests,
they trafficked in offices, favored their relatives, persecuted their
enemies and surrounded themselves with crowds of parasites who
stifled, in the courts of justice, all the complaints of the
oppressed. Novgorod was first brought into entire subjection to the
crown; then Pskov.

While affairs were moving thus prosperously in Russia, the horde upon
the Volga was also recovering its energies; and a new khan, Akhmet,
war-loving and inflated by the success which his sword had already
achieved, resolved to bring Russia again into subjection. He
accordingly, in the year 1480, sent an embassy, bearing an image of
the khan as their credentials, to Moscow, to demand the tribute which
of old had been paid to the Tartars. Ivan III. was in no mood to
receive the insult patiently. He admitted the embassage into the
audience chamber of his palace. His nobles, in imposing array, were
gathered around prepared for a scene such as was not unusual in those
barbaric times. As soon as the embassadors entered and were presented,
the image of the khan was dashed to the floor by the order of Ivan,
and trampled under feet; and all the Mogol embassadors, with the
exception of one, were slain.

"Go," said Ivan sternly to him, "go to your master and tell him what
you have seen; tell him that if he has the insolence again to trouble
my repose, I will treat him as I have served his image and his

This emphatic declaration of war was followed on both sides by the
mustering of armies. The horde was soon in motion, passing from the
Volga to the Don in numbers which were represented to be as the sands
of the sea. They rapidly and resistlessly ascended the valley of this
river, marking their path by a swath of ruin many miles in width. The
grand prince took the command of the Russian army in person, and
rendezvoused his troops at Kalouga, thence stationing them along the
northern banks of the Oka, to dispute the passage of that stream. All
Russia was in a state of feverish excitement. One decisive battle
would settle the question, whether the invaders were to be driven in
bloody rout out of the empire, or, whether the whole kingdom was to be
surrendered to devastation by savages as fierce and merciless as

About the middle of October the two armies met upon the opposite banks
of the Oka, with only the waters of that narrow stream to separate
them. Cannon and muskets were then just coming into use, but they were
rude and feeble instruments compared with the power of such weapons at
the present day. Swords, arrows, javelins, clubs, axes, battering-rams
and catapults, and the tramplings of horse were the engines of
destruction which man then wielded most potently against his
fellow-man. The quarrel was a very simple one. Some hundreds of
thousands of Mogols had marched to the heart of Russia, leaving behind
them a path of flame and blood nearly a thousand miles in length, that
they might compel the Russians to pay them tribute. Some hundred
thousand Russians had met them there, to resist even to death their
insolent and oppressive demand.

The Tartars were far superior in numbers to the Russians, but Ivan had
made such a skillful disposition of his troops that Akhmet could not
cross the stream. For nearly a week the two armies fought from the
opposite banks, throwing at each other bullets, balls, stones, arrows
and javelins. A few were wounded and some slain in this impotent

The Russians were, however, very faint-hearted. It was evident that,
should the Tartars effect the passage of the river, the Russians,
already demoralized by fear, would be speedily overpowered. The grand
prince himself was so apprehensive as to the result, that he sent one
of his nobles with rich presents to the khan and proposed terms of
peace. Akhmet rejected the presents, and sent back the haughty reply:

"I have come thus far to take vengeance upon Ivan; to punish him for
neglecting for nine years to appear before me with tribute and in
homage. Let him come penitently into my presence and kiss my stirrup,
and then perhaps, if my lords intercede for him, I may forgive him."

As soon as it was heard in Moscow that the grand prince was
manifesting such timidity, the clergy sent to him a letter urging the
vigorous defense of their country and of their religion. The letter
was written by Vassian, the archbishop of Moscow, and was signed, on
behalf of the clergy, by several of the higher ecclesiastics. We have
not space to introduce the whole of this noble epistle, which is
worthy of being held in perpetual remembrance. The following extracts
will show its spirit. It was in the form of a letter from the
archbishop to the king; to which letter others of the clergy gave
their assent:

"It is our duty to announce the truth to kings, and that which I have
already spoken in the ear of your majesty I now write, to inspire you
with new courage and energy. When, influenced by the prayers and the
councils of your bishop, you left Moscow for the army, with the firm
intention of attacking the enemy of the Christians, we prostrated
ourselves day and night before God, pleading with him to grant the
victory to our armies. Nevertheless, we learn that at the approach of
Akhmet, of that ferocious warrior who has already caused thousands of
Christians to perish, and who menaces your throne and your country,
you tremble before him--you implore peace of him, and send to him
embassadors, while that impious warrior breathes only vengeance and
despises your prayer.

"Ah, grand prince, to what counselors have you lent your ear? What
men, unworthy of the name of Christian, have given you such advice?
Will you throw away your arms and shamefully take to flight? But
reflect from what a height of grandeur your majesty will descend; to
what a depth of humiliation you will fall! Are you willing, oh prince,
to surrender Russia to fire and blood, your churches to pillage, your
subjects to the sword of the enemy? What heart is so insensible as
not to be overwhelmed by the thought even of such a calamity?

"No; we will trust in the all-powerful God! No; you will not abandon
us! You will blush at the name of a fugitive, of being the betrayer of
your country. Lay aside all fear. Redouble your confidence in God.
Then one shall chase a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand to
flight. There is no God like ours. Do you say that the oath, taken by
your ancestors, binds you not to raise your arms against the khan? But
we, your metropolitan bishop, and all the other bishops,
representatives of Jesus Christ, absolve you from that oath, extorted
by force; we all give you our benediction, and conjure you to march
against Akhmet, who is but a brigand and an enemy of God.

"God is a Father full of tenderness for his children. He knows when to
punish and when to pardon. And if formerly he submerged Pharaoh to
save the children of Israel, he will, in the same manner, save you and
your people, if you purify your heart by penitence, for you are a man
and a sinner. The penitence of a monarch is his sacred obligation to
obey the laws of justice, to cherish his people, to renounce every act
of violence, and grant pardon even to the guilty. It is thus that God
will elevate you among us, as formerly he elevated Moses, Joshua and
the other liberators of Israel, that Russia, a new Israel, may be
delivered by you from the impious Akhmet, that other Pharaoh.

"I pray you, grand prince, do not censure me for my feeble words, for
it is written, 'Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet
wiser.'[5] So may it be. Receive our benediction, you and your
children, all the nobles and chieftains, and all your brave warriors,
children of Jesus Christ. Amen."

[Footnote 5: Proverbs of Solomon, ix. 9.]

This letter, instead of giving the king offense, inspired him with new
zeal and courage. He immediately abandoned all idea of peace. A
fortnight had now passed in comparative inaction, the Russians and
Tartars menacing each other from opposite sides of the stream. The
cold month of November had now come, and a thin coating of ice began
to spread over the surface of the stream. It was evident that Akhmet
was only waiting for the river to be frozen over, and that, in a few
days, he would be able to cross at any point. The grand prince, seeing
that the decisive battle could not much longer be deferred, ordered
his troops, in the night, to make a change of position, that he might
occupy the plains of Borosk as a field more favorable for his troops.
But the Russian soldiers, still agitated by the fears which their
sovereign had not been able to conceal, regarded this order as the
signal for retreat. The panic spread from rank to rank, and, favored
by the obscurity of the night, soon the whole host, in the wildest
confusion, were in rapid flight. No efforts of the officers could
arrest the dismay. Before the morning, the Russian camp was entirely
deserted, and the fugitives were rushing, like an inundation, up the
valley of the Moskwa toward the imperial city.

But God did not desert Russia in this decisive hour. He appears to
have heard and answered the prayers which had so incessantly ascended.
In the Russian annals, their preservation is wholly attributed to the
interposition of that God whose aid the bishops, the clergy and
Christian men and women in hundreds of churches had so earnestly
implored. The Tartars, seeing, in the earliest dawn of the morning,
the banks of the river entirely abandoned by the Russians, imagined
that the flight was but a ruse of war, that ambuscades were prepared
for them, and, remembering previous scenes of exterminating slaughter,
they, also, were seized with a panic, and commenced a retreat. This
movement itself increased the alarm. Terror spread rapidly. In an
hour, the whole Tartar host, abandoning their tents and their baggage,
were in tumultuous flight.

As the sun rose, an unprecedented spectacle was presented. Two
immense armies were flying from each other in indescribable confusion
and dismay, each actually frightened out of its wits, and no one
pursuing either. The Russians did not stop for a long breath until
they attained the walls of Moscow. Akhmet, having reached the head
waters of the Don, retreated rapidly down that stream, wreaking such
vengeance as he could by the way, but not venturing to stop until he
had reached his strongholds upon the banks of the Volga. Thus,
singularly, _providentially_, terminated this last serious invasion of
Russia by the Tartars. A Russian annalist, in attributing the glory of
this well-authenticated event all to God, writes: "Shall men, vain and
feeble, celebrate the terror of their arms? No! it is not to the might
of earth's warriors, it is not to human wisdom that Russia owes her
safety, but only to the goodness of God."

Ivan III., in the cathedrals of Moscow, offered long continued praises
to God for this victory, obtained without the effusion of blood. An
annual festival was established in honor of this great event. Akhmet,
with his troops disorganized and scattered, had hardly reached the
Volga, ere he was attacked by a rival khan, who drove him some five
hundred miles south to the shore of the Sea of Azof. Here his rival
overtook him, killed him with his own hand, took his wives and his
daughters captives, seized all his riches, and then, seeking friendly
relations with Russia, sent word to Moscow that the great enemy of the
grand prince was in his grave.

Thus terminated for ever the sway of the Tartars over the Russians.
For two hundred years, Russia had been held by the khans in slavery.
Though the horde long continued to exist as a band of lawless and
uncivilized men, often engaged in predatory excursions, no further
attempts were made to exact either tribute or homage.



From 1480 to 1533.

Alliance With Hungary.--A Traveler From Germany.--Treaty Between
Russia and Germany.--Embassage To Turkey.--Court Etiquette.--Death of
the Princess Sophia.--Death of Ivan.--Advancement of
Knowledge.--Succession of Vassili.--Attack Upon the Horde.--Rout of
the Russians.--The Grand Prince Takes the Title of Emperor.--Turkish
Envoy To Moscow.--Efforts To Arm Europe Against the Turks.--Death of
the Emperor Maximilian, and Accession of Charles V. To the Empire of
Germany.--Death of Vassili.

The retreat of the Tartars did not redound much to the glory of Ivan.
The citizens of Moscow, in the midst of their rejoicings, were far
from being satisfied with their sovereign. They thought that he had
not exhibited that courage which characterizes grand souls, and that
he had been signally wanting in that devotion which leads one to
sacrifice himself for the good of his country. They lavished, however,
their praises upon the clergy, especially upon the Archbishop Vassian,
whose letter to the grand prince was read and re-read throughout the
kingdom with the greatest enthusiasm. This noble prelate, whose
Christian heroism had saved his country, soon after fell sick and
died, deplored by all Russia.

Hungary was at this time governed by Matthias, son of the renowned
Hunniades,[6] a prince equally renowned for his valor and his genius.
Matthias, threatened by Poland, sent embassadors to Russia to seek
alliance with Ivan III. Eagerly Russia accepted the proposition, and
entered into friendly connections with Hungary, which kingdom was
then, in civilization, quite in advance of the northern empire.

[Footnote 6: See Empire of Austria, p. 71.]

In the year 1486, an illustrious cavalier, named Nicholas Poppel,
visited Russia, taking a letter of introduction to the grand prince
from Frederic III., Emperor of Germany. He had no particular mission,
and was led only by motives of curiosity. "I have seen," said the
traveler, "all the Christian countries and all the kings, and I
wished, also, to see Russia and the grand prince."

The lords at Moscow had no faith in these words, and were persuaded
that he was a spy sent by their enemy, the King of Poland. Though they
watched him narrowly, he was not incommoded, and left the kingdom
after having satisfied his desire to see all that was remarkable. His
report to the German emperor was such that, two years after, he
returned, in the quality of an embassador from Frederic III., with a
letter to Ivan III., dated Ulm, December 26th, 1488. The nobles now
received Poppel with great cordiality. He said to them:

"After having left Russia, I went to find the emperor and the princes
of Germany at Nuremburg. I spent a long time giving them information
respecting your country and the grand prince. I corrected the false
impression, conceived by them, that Ivan III. was but the vassal of
Casimir, King of Poland. 'That is impossible,' I said to them. 'The
monarch of Moscow is much more powerful and much richer than the King
of Poland. His estates are immense, his people numerous, his wisdom
extraordinary.' All the court listened to me with astonishment, and
especially the emperor himself, who often invited me to dine, and
passed hours with me conversing upon Russia. At length, the emperor,
desiring to enter into an alliance with the grand prince, has sent me
to the court of your majesty as his embassador."

He then solicited, in the name of Frederic III., the hand of Ivan's
daughter, Helen, for the nephew of the emperor, Albert, margrave of
Baden. The proposition for the marriage of the daughter of the grand
prince with a mere margrave was coldly received. Ivan, however, sent
an embassador to Germany with the following instructions:

"Should the emperor ask if the grand prince will consent to the
marriage of his daughter with the margrave of Baden, reply that such
an alliance is not worthy of the grandeur of the Russian monarch,
brother of the ancient emperors of Greece, who, in establishing
themselves at Constantinople, ceded the city of Rome to the popes.
Leave the emperor, however, to see that there is some hope of success
should he desire one of our princesses for his son, the King

The Russian embassador was received in Germany with the most
flattering attentions, even being conducted to a seat upon the throne
by the side of the emperor. It is said that Maximilian, who was then a
widower, wished to marry Helen, the daughter of the grand prince, but
he wished, very naturally, first to see her through the eyes of his
embassador, and to ascertain the amount of her dowry. To this request
a polite refusal was returned.

"How could one suppose," writes the Russian historian Karamsin, "that
an illustrious monarch and a princess, his daughter, could consent to
the affront of submitting the princess to the judgment of a foreign
minister, who might declare her unworthy of his master?"

The pride of the Russian court was touched, and the emperor's
embassador was informed, in very plain language, that the grand prince
was not at all disposed to make a matter of merchandise of his
daughter--that, _after_ her marriage, the grand prince would present
her with a dowry such as he should deem proportionate to the rank of
the united pair, and that, above all, should she marry Maximilian, she
should not change her religion, but should always have residing with
her chaplains of the Greek church. Thus terminated the question of the
marriage. A treaty, however, of alliance was formed between the two
nations which was signed at Moscow, August 16th, 1490. In this treaty,
Ivan III. subscribes himself, "by the grace of God, monarch of all
the Russias, prince of Vladimir, Moscow, Novgorod, Pskof, Yougra,
Viatha, Perme and Bulgaria." We thus see what portion of the country
was then deemed subject to his sway.

Ivan III., continually occupied in extending, consolidating and
developing the resources of his vast empire, could not but look with
jealousy upon the encroachments of the Turks, who had already overrun
all Greece, who had taken a large part of Hungary, and who were
surging up the Danube in wave after wave of terrible invasion. Still,
sound judgment taught him that the hour had not yet come for him to
interpose; that it was his present policy to devote all his energies
to the increase of Russian wealth and power. It was a matter of the
first importance that Russia should enjoy the privileges of commerce
with those cities of Greece now occupied by the Turks, to which Russia
had access through the Dnieper and the Don, and partially through the
vast floods of the Volga. But the Russian merchants were incessantly
annoyed by the oppression of the lawless Turks. The following letter
from Ivan III. to the Sultan Bajazet II., gives one a very clear idea
of the relations existing between the two countries at that time. It
is dated Moscow, August 31st, 1492.

"To Bajazet, Sultan, King of the princes of Turkey, Sovereign of the
earth and of the sea, we, Ivan III., by the grace of God, only true
and hereditary monarch of all the Russias, and of many other countries
of the North and of the East; behold! that which we deem it our duty
to write to your majesty. We have never sent embassadors to each other
with friendly greetings. Nevertheless, the Russian merchants have
traversed your estates in the exercise of a traffic advantageous to
both of our empires. Often they complain to me of the vexations they
encounter from your magistrates, but I have kept silence. The last
summer, the pacha of Azof forced them to dig a ditch, and to carry
stones for the construction of the edifices of the city; more than
this, they have compelled our merchants of Azof and of Caffa to
dispose of their merchandise for one half their value. If any one of
the merchants happens to fall sick, the magistrates place seals upon
the goods of all, and, if he dies, the State seizes all these goods,
and restores but half if he recover. No regard is paid to the clauses
of a will, the Turkish magistrates recognizing no heirs but themselves
to the property of the Russians.

"Such glaring injustice has compelled me to forbid my merchants to
engage in traffic in your country. From whence come these acts of
violence? Formerly these merchants paid only the legal tax, and they
were permitted to trade without annoyance. Are you aware of this, or
not? One word more. Mahomet II., your father, was a prince of grandeur
and renown. He wished, it is reported, to send to us embassadors,
proposing friendly relations. Providence frustrated the execution of
this project. But why should we not now see the accomplishment of this
plan? We await your response."

The Russian embassador received orders from Ivan III. to present his
document to the sultan, standing, and not upon his knees, as was the
custom in the Turkish court; he was not to yield precedence to the
embassador of any other nation whatever, and was to address himself
only to the sultan, and not to the pachas. Plestchief, the Russian
envoy, obeyed his instructions to the letter, and by his haughty
bearing excited the indignation of the Turkish nobles. The pacha of
Constantinople received him with great politeness, loaded him with
attentions, invited him to dine, and begged him to accept of a present
of some rich dresses, and a purse of ten thousand sequins. The haughty
Russian declined the invitation to dine, returning the purse and the
robes with the ungracious response,

"I have nothing to say to pachas. I have no need to wear their
clothes, neither have I any need of their money. I wish only to speak
to the sultan."

Notwithstanding this arrogance, Bajazet II., the sultan, received
Plestchief politely, and returned a conciliatory answer to the grand
prince, promising the redress of those grievances of which he
complained. The Turk was decidedly more civilized than the Christian.
He wrote to Mengli Ghirei, the pacha of the Crimea, where most of
these annoyances had occurred:

"The monarch of Russia, with whom I desire to live in friendly
relations, has sent to me a clown. I can not consequently allow any of
my people to accompany him back to Russia, lest they should find him
offensive. Respected as I am from the east to the west, I blush in
being exposed to such an affront. It is in consequence my wish that my
son, the sultan of Caffa, should correspond directly with the grand
prince of Moscow."

With a sense of delicacy as attractive as it is rare, Bajazet II.
refrained from complaining of the boorishness of the Russian envoy,
but wrote to the grand prince, Ivan III., in the following courteous

"You have sent, in the sincerity of your soul, one of your lords to
the threshold of my palace. He has seen me and has handed me your
letter, which I have pressed to my heart, since you have expressed a
desire to become my friend. Let your embassadors and your merchants no
longer fear to frequent our country. They have only to come to certify
to the veracity of all which your envoy will report to you from us.
May God grant him a prosperous journey and the grace to convey to you
our profound salutation--to you and to your friends; for those whom
you love are equally dear to us."

In the whole of this transaction the Turkish court appears far
superior to the Russian in the refinements and graces of polished
life. There seems to be something in a southern clime which
ameliorates harshness of manners. The Grecian emperors, perhaps, in
abandoning their palaces, left also to their conquerors that suavity
which has transmitted even to our day the enviable title of the
"polished Greek."

In the year 1503, Ivan III. lost his spouse, the Greek princess
Sophia. Her death affected the aged monarch deeply, and seriously
impaired his health. Twenty-five years had now elapsed since he
received the young and beautiful princess as his bride, and during all
these tumultuous years her genius and attractions had been the most
brilliant ornament of his court. The infirmities of age pressed
heavily upon the king, and it was manifest that his days could not
much longer be prolonged. With much ceremony, in the presence of his
lords, he dictated his will, declaring his oldest son Vassili to be
his successor as monarch, and assigning to all his younger children
rich possessions. The passion for the aggrandizement of Russia still
glowed strongly in his bosom even in the hour of death. Vassili,
though twenty-five years of age, was as yet unmarried. He decided to
select his spouse from the daughters of the Russian nobles, and
fifteen hundred of the most beautiful belles of the kingdom were
brought to the court that the prince, from among them, might make his
selection. The choice fell upon a maiden of exquisite beauty, of
Tartar descent. Her father was an officer in the army, a son of one of
the chiefs of the horde. The marriage was immediately consummated, and
all Moscow was in a blaze of illumination, rejoicing over the nuptials
of the heir to the crown. The decay of the aged monarch, however,
advanced, day by day. His death, at last, was quite sudden, in the
night of the 27th of October, 1505, at the age of sixty-six years and
nine months, and at the close of a reign of forty three years and a

Ivan III. will, through all ages, retain the rank of one of the most
illustrious of the sovereigns of Russia. The excellencies of his
character and the length of his reign, combined in enabling him to
give an abiding direction to the career of his country. He made his
appearance on the political stage just in the time when a new system
of government, favorable to the power of the sovereigns of Europe, was
rising upon the ruins of feudalism. The royal authority was gaining
rapidly in England and in France. Spain, freed from the domination of
the Moors, had just become a power of the first rank. The fleets of
Portugal were whitening the most distant seas, conferring upon the
energetic kingdom wonderful wealth and power. Italy, though divided,
exulted in her fleet, her maritime wealth, and her elevation above all
other nations in the arts, the sciences and the intrigues of politics.
Frederic IV., Emperor of Germany, an inefficient, apathetic man, was
unable to restore repose to the empire, distracted by civil war. His
energetic son, Maximilian, was already meditating that political
change which should give new strength to the monarch, and which
finally raised the house of Austria to the highest point of earthly
grandeur. Hungary, Bohemia and Poland, governed by near relatives,
might almost be considered as a single power, and they were, as by
instinct, allied with Austria in endeavors to resist the encroachments
of the Turks.

Inventions and discoveries of the greatest importance were made in the
world during the reign of Ivan III. Gutenberg and Faust in Strasbourg
invented the art of printing. Christopher Columbus discovered the New
World. Until then the productions of India reached central Europe
through Persia, the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Azof. On the 20th of
November, 1497, Vasco de Gama doubled the Cape of Good Hope, thus
opening a new route to the Indies, and adding immeasurably to the
enterprise and wealth of the world. A new epoch seemed to dawn upon
mankind, favorable at least to the tranquillity of nations, the
progress of civilization and the strength of governments. Thus far
Russia, in her remote seclusion, had taken no part in the politics of
Europe. It was not until the reign of Ivan III. that this great
northern empire emerged from that state of chaos in which she had
neither possessed definiteness of form nor assured existence.

Ivan III. found his nation in subjection to the Tartars. He threw off
the yoke; became one of the most illustrious monarchs in Europe,
commanding respect throughout Christendom; he took his position by the
side of emperors and sultans, and by the native energies of his mind,
unenlightened by study, he gave the wisest precepts for the internal
and the external government of his realms. But he was a rude, stern
man, the legitimate growth of those savage times. It is recorded that
a single angry look from him would make any woman faint; that at the
table the nobles trembled before him, not daring to utter a word.

Vassili now ascended the throne, and with great energy carried out the
principles established by his father. The first important measure of
the new monarch was to fit out an expedition against the still
powerful but vagabond horde at Kezan, on the Volga, to punish them for
some acts of insubordination. A powerful armament descended the Volga
in barges. The infantry landed near Kezan on the 22d of May, 1506. The
Tartars, with a numerous array of cavalry, were ready to receive their
assailants, and fell upon them with such impetuosity and courage that
the Russians were overpowered, and driven back, with much slaughter,
to their boats. They consequently retreated to await the arrival of
the cavalry. The Tartars, imagining that the foe, utterly discomfited,
had fled back to Moscow, surrendered themselves to excessive joy. A
month passed away, and on the 22d of June an immense assemblage of
uncounted thousands of Tartars were gathered in festivity on the
plains of Arsk, which spread around their capital city. More than a
thousand tents were spread upon the field. Merchants from all parts
were gathered there displaying their goods, and a scene of festivity
and splendor was exhibited, such as modern civilization has never

Suddenly the Russian army, horse and infantry, were seen upon the
plain, as if they had dropped from the clouds. They rushed upon the
encampment, cutting down the terrified multitude, with awful butchery,
and trampling them beneath their horses' feet. The fugitives, in
dismay, sought to regain the city, crushing each other in their flight
and in the desperate endeavor to crowd in at the gates and along the
narrow streets. The Russians, exhausted by their victory, and lured by
the luxuries which filled the tents, instead of taking the city by
storm, as, in the confusion they probably could have done, surrendered
themselves to pillage and voluptuous indulgence. They found the tents
filled with food, liquors of all kinds and a great quantity of
precious commodities, and forgetting they were in the presence of an
enemy, they plunged into the wildest excesses of festivity and

The disgraceful carousal was briefly terminated during the night, but
renewed, with additional zest, in the morning. The songs and the
shouts of the drunken soldiers were heard in the streets of Kezan,
and, from the battlements, the Tartars beheld these orgies, equaling
the most frantic revels of pagan bacchanals. The Tartar khan, from the
top of a bastion, watched the spectacle, and perceiving the negligence
of his enemies, prepared for a surprise and for vengeance. On the 25th
of June, just at the dawn of day, the gates were thrown open, and
twenty thousand horsemen and thirty thousand infantry precipitated
themselves with frightful yells upon the Russians, stupefied with
sleep and wine. Though the Russians exceeded the Tartars two to one,
yet they fled towards their boats like a flock of sheep, without order
and without arms. The plain was speedily strewn with their dead bodies
and crimsoned with their blood. Too much terrified to think even of
resistance, they clambered into their barges, cut the cables, and
pushed out into the stream. But for the valor of the Russian cavalry
all would have been destroyed. In the deepest humiliation the
fugitives returned to Moscow.

Vassili resolved upon another expedition which should inflict signal
vengeance upon the horde. But while he was making his preparations,
the khan, terrified in view of the storm which was gathering, sent an
embassage to Moscow imploring pardon and peace, offering to deliver up
all the prisoners and to take a new oath of homage to the grand
prince. Vassili, who was just on the eve of a war with Poland, with
alacrity accepted these concessions. The King of Poland had heard,
with much joy, of the death of Ivan III., whose energetic arm he had
greatly feared, and he now hoped to take advantage of the youth and
inexperience of Vassili. A harassing warfare was commenced between
Russia and Poland, which raged for several years. Peace was finally
made, Russia extorting from Poland several important provinces.

In the year 1514, Vassili, entering into a treaty with Maximilian, the
Emperor of Germany, laid aside the title of grand prince and assumed
for himself that of emperor, which was _Kayser_ in the German language
and _Tzar_ in the Russian. With great energy Vassili pushed the work
of concentrating and extending his empire, every year strengthening
his power over the distant principalities. Bajazet II., the Turkish
sultan, the victim of a conspiracy, was dethroned by his son Selim.
Vassili, wishing, for the sake of commerce, to maintain friendly
relations with Turkey, sent an embassador to the new sultan. The
embassador, Alexeief, was authorized to make all proper protestations
of friendship, but to be very cautious not to compromit the dignity of
his sovereign. He was instructed not to prostrate himself before the
sultan, as was the oriental custom, but merely to offer his hands. He
was to convey rich presents to Selim, with a letter from the Russian
court, but was by no means to enquire for the health of the sultan,
unless the sultan should first enquire for the health of the emperor.

Notwithstanding these chilling punctilios, Selim received the Russian
embassador with much cordiality, and sent back with him a Turkish
embassador to the court of Moscow. Nine months, from August to May,
were occupied in the weary journey. While traversing the vast deserts
of Veronage, their horses, exhausted and starving, sank beneath them,
and they were obliged to toil along for weary leagues on foot,
suffering from the want both of food and water. They nearly perished
before reaching the frontiers of Rezan, but here they found horses and
retinue awaiting them, sent by Vassili. Upon their arrival at Moscow,
the Turkish embassador was received with great enthusiasm. It was
deemed an honor, as yet unparalleled in Russia, that the terrible
conquerors of Constantinople, before whose arms all Christendom was
trembling, should send an embassador fifteen hundred miles to Moscow
to seek the alliance of the emperor.

The Turkish envoy was received with great magnificence by Vassili,
seated upon his throne, and surrounded by his nobles clad in robes of
the most costly furs. The embassador, Theodoric Kamal, a Greek by
birth, with the courtesy of the polished Greek, kneeling, kissed the
hand of the emperor, presented him the letter of his master, the
sultan, beautifully written upon parchment in Arabic letters, and
assured the emperor of the wish of the sultan to live with him in
eternal friendship. But the Turk, loud in protestations, was not
disposed to alliance. It was evident that the office of a spy
constituted the most important part of the mission of Kamal.

This embassador had but just left the court of Moscow when another
appeared, from the Emperor Maximilian, of Germany. The message with
which the Baron Herberstein was commissioned from the court of Vienna
to the court of Moscow is sufficiently important to be recorded.

"Ought not sovereigns," said the embassador, "to seek the glory of
religion and the happiness of their subjects? Such are the principles
which have ever guided the emperor. If he has waged war, it has never
been from the love of false glory, nor to seize the territories of
others, but to punish those who have dared to provoke him. Despising
danger, he has been seen in battle, exposing himself like the humblest
soldier, and gaining victories against superior forces because the
Almighty lends his arm to aid the virtuous.

"The Emperor of Germany is now reposing in the bosom of tranquillity.
The pope and all the princes of Italy have become his allies. Spain,
Naples, Sicily and twenty-six other realms recognize his grandson,
Charles V., for their legitimate and hereditary monarch. The King of
Portugal is attached to him by the ties of relationship, and the King
of England by the bonds of sincere friendship. The sovereigns of
Denmark and Hungary have married the grand-daughters of Maximilian,
and the King of Poland testifies to unbounded confidence in him. I
will not speak of your majesty, for the Emperor of Russia well knows
how to appreciate the sentiments of the Emperor of Germany.

"The King of France and the republic of Venice, influenced by selfish
interests, and disregarding the prosperity of Christianity, have taken
no part in this fraternal alliance of all the rest of Europe; but they
are now beginning to manifest a love for peace, and I have just
learned that a treaty is about to be concluded with them, also. Let
any one now cast a glance over the world and he will see but one
Christian prince who is not attached to the Emperor Maximilian either
by the ties of friendship or affection. All Christian Europe is in
profound peace excepting Russia and Poland.

"Maximilian has sent me to your majesty, illustrious monarch, to
entreat you to restore repose to Christianity and to your states.
Peace causes empires to flourish; war destroys their resources and
hastens their downfall. Who can be sure of victory? Fortune often
frustrates the wisest plans.

"Thus far I have spoken in the name of my master. I wish now to add,
that on my journey I have been informed, by the Turkish embassador
himself, that the sultan has just captured Damascus, Jerusalem and all
Egypt. A traveler, worthy of credence, has confirmed this deplorable
intelligence. If, before these events, the power of the sultan
inspired us with just fear, ought not this success of his arms to
augment our apprehensions?"

Russia and Poland had long been engaged in a bloody frontier war, each
endeavoring to wrest provinces from the other; but Russia was steadily
on the advance. The embassage of Maximilian was not productive of
peace. On the contrary, Vassili immediately sent an embassador to
Vienna to endeavor to secure the aid of Austria in his war with
Poland. Maximilian received the envoy with very extraordinary marks of
favor. He was invited to sit, in the presence of the emperor, with his
hat upon his head, and whenever the embassador, during the conference,
mentioned the name of the Russian emperor, Maximilian uncovered his
head in token of respect. The great object of Maximilian's ambition
was to arm all Europe against the Turks; and he was exceedingly
anxious to secure the coöperation of a power so energetic as that of
Russia had now proved herself to be. Even then with consummate
foresight he wrote:

"The integrity of Poland is indispensable to the general interests of
Europe. The grandeur of Russia is becoming dangerous."

Maximilian soon sent another embassador to Moscow, who very forcibly
described the conquests made by the Turks in Europe, Asia and Africa,
from the Thracian Bosporus to the sands of Egypt, and from the
mountains of Caucasia to Venice. He spoke of the melancholy captivity
of the Greek church, which was the mother of Russian Christianity; of
the profanation of the holy sepulcher; of Nazareth, Bethlehem and
Sinai, which had fallen under the domination of the Turk. He
suggested, that the Turks, in possession of the Tauride--as the
country upon the north shore of the Black Sea, bounded by the Dnieper
and the Sea of Azof was then called--threatened the independence of
Russia herself; that Vassili had every thing to fear from the
ferocity, the perfidy and the success of Selim, who, stained with the
blood of his father and his three brothers, dared to assume the title
of master of the world. He entreated Vassili, as one of the most
powerful of the Christian princes, to follow the banner of Jesus
Christ, and to cease to make war upon Poland, thus exhausting the
Christian powers.

Maximilian died before his embassador returned, and thus these
negotiations were interrupted. But Russia was then all engrossed with
the desire of obtaining provinces from Poland. Turkey was too
formidable a foe to think of assailing, and the idea at that time of
wresting any territory from Turkey was preposterous. All Europe
combined could only hope to check any _further advance_ of the Moslem
cimeters. Influenced by these considerations, Vassili sent another
embassador to Constantinople to propose a treaty with Selim, which
might aid Russia in the strife with her hereditary rival. The sultan,
glad of any opportunity to weaken the Christian powers, ordered his
pachas to harass Poland in every possible way on the south, thus
enabling Russia more easily to assail the distracted kingdom on the
north. The King of Poland, Sigismond, was in consternation.

Poland was united with Rome in religion. The pope, Leo X., anxious to
secure the coöperation of both Poland and Russia against the Turks,
who were the great foe Christianity had most to dread, proposed that
the King of Poland, a renowned warrior, should be entrusted with the
supreme command of the Christian armies, and adroitly suggested to
Vassili, that Constantinople was the legitimate heritage of a Russian
monarch, who was the descendant of a Grecian princess; that it was
sound policy for him to turn his attention to Turkey; for Poland,
being a weaker power, and combined of two discordant elements, the
original Poland and Lithuania, would of necessity be gradually
absorbed by the growth of Russia.

Vassili hated the pope, because he had ordered _Te Deums_ in Rome, in
celebration of a victory which the Poles had obtained over the
Russians, and had called the Russians _heretics_. But still the bait
the pope presented was too alluring not to be caught at. In the
labyrinthine mazes of politics, however, there were obstacles to the
development of this policy which years only could remove.

Upon the death of Maximilian, Charles V. of Spain ascended the throne
of the German empire, and established a power, the most formidable
that had been known in Europe for seven hundred years, that is, since
the age of Charlemagne. Vassili was in the midst of these plans of
aggrandizement when death came with its unexpected summons. He was in
the fifty-fourth year of his age, with mental and physical vigor
unimpaired. A small pimple appeared on his left thigh, not larger than
the head of a pin, but from its commencement attended with
excruciating pain. It soon resolved itself into a malignant ulcer,
which rapidly exhausted all the vital energies. The dying king was
exceedingly anxious to prepare himself to stand before the judgment
seat of God. He spent days and nights in prayer, gave most
affectionate exhortations to all around him to live for heaven,
assumed monastic robes, resolving that, should he recover, he would
devote himself exclusively to the service of God. It was midnight the
3d of December, 1533. The king had just partaken of the sacrament of
the Lord's Supper. Suddenly his tongue was paralyzed, his eyes fixed,
his hands dropped by his side, and the metropolitan bishop, who had
been administering the last rites of religion, exclaimed, "It is all
over. The king is dead."



From 1533 to 1546.

Vassili At the Chase.--Attention To Distinguished Foreigners.--The
Autocracy.--Splendor of the Edifices.--Slavery.--Aristocracy.--Infancy
of Ivan IV.--Regency of Hélène.--Conspiracies and Tumults.--War with
Sigismond of Poland.--Death of Hélène.--Struggles of the
Nobles.--Appalling Sufferings of Dmitri.--Incursion of the
Tartars.--Successful Conspiracy.--Ivan IV. At the Chase.--Coronation
of Ivan IV.

Under Vassili, the Russian court attained a degree of splendor which
had before been unknown. The Baron of Herberstein thus describes the
appearance of the monarch when engaging in the pleasures of the chase:

"As soon as we saw the monarch entering the field, we dismounted and
advanced to meet him on foot. He was mounted upon a magnificent
charger, gorgeously caparisoned. He wore upon his head a tall cap,
embroidered with precious stones, and surmounted by gilded plumes
which waved in the wind. A poignard and two knives were attached to
his girdle. He had upon his right, Aley, tzar of Kazan, armed with a
bow and arrows; at his left, two young princes, one of whom held an
ax, and the other a number of arms. His suite consisted of more than
three hundred cavaliers."

The chase was continued, over the boundless plains, for many days and
often weeks. When night approached, the whole party, often consisting
of thousands, dismounted and reared their village of tents. The tent
of the emperor was ample, gorgeous, and furnished with all the
appliances of luxury. Hounds were first introduced into these sports
in Russia by Vassili. The evening hours were passed in festivity,
with abundance of good cheer, and in narrating the adventures of the

Whenever the emperor appeared in public, he was preceded by esquires
chosen from among the young nobles distinguished for their beauty, the
delicacy of their features and the perfect proportion of their forms.
Clothed in robes of white satin and armed with small hatchets of
silver, they marched before the emperor, and appeared to strangers,
say his cotemporaries, "like angels descended from the skies."

Vassili was especially fond of magnificence in the audiences which he
gave to foreign embassadors. To impress them with an idea of the vast
population and wealth of Russia, and of the glory and power of the
sovereign, Vassili ordered, on the day of presentation, that all the
ordinary avocations of life should cease, and the citizens, clothed in
their richest dresses, were to crowd around the walls of the Kremlin.
All the young nobles in the vicinity, with their retinues, were
summoned. The troops were under arms, and the most distinguished
officers, glittering in the panoply of war, rode to meet the
envoys.[7] In the hall of audience, crowded to its utmost capacity,
there was silence, as of the grave. The king sat upon his throne, his
bonnet upon one side of him, his scepter upon the other. His nobles
were seated around upon couches draped in purple and embroidered with
pearls and gold.

[Footnote 7: Francis da Callo relates that when he was received by the
emperor, forty thousand soldiers were under arms, in the richest
uniform, extending from the Kremlin to the hotel of the embassadors.]

Following the example of Ivan III., Vassili was unwearied in his
endeavors to induce foreigners of distinction, particularly artists,
physicians and men of science, to take up their residence in Russia.
Any stranger, distinguished for genius or capability of any kind, who
entered Russia, found it not easy to leave the kingdom. A Greek
physician, of much celebrity, from Constantinople, visited Moscow.
Vassili could not find it in his heart to relinquish so rich a prize,
and detained him with golden bonds, which the unhappy man, mourning
for his wife and children, in vain endeavored to break away. At last
the sultan was influenced to write in behalf of the Greek.

"Permit," he wrote, "Marc to return to Constantinople to rejoin his
family. He went to Russia only for a temporary visit."

The emperor replied:

"For a long time Marc has served me to his and my perfect
satisfaction. He is now my lieutenant at Novgorod. Send to him his
wife and children."

The power of the sovereign was absolute. His will was the supreme law.
The lives, the fortunes of the clergy, the laity, the lords, the
citizens were dependent upon his pleasure. The Russians regarded their
monarch as the executor of the divine will. Their ordinary language
was, _God and the prince decree it_. The Russians generally defend
this _autocracy_ as the only true principle of government. The
philosophic Karamsin writes:

"Ivan III. and Vassili knew how to establish permanently the nature of
one government by constituting in _autocracy_ the necessary attribute
of empire, its sole constitution, and the only basis of safety, force
and prosperity. This limitless power of the prince is regarded as
_tyranny_ in the eye of strangers, because, in their inconsiderate
judgment, they forget that _tyranny_ is the abuse of autocracy, and
that the same tyranny may exist in a republic when citizens or
powerful magistrates oppress society. Autocracy does not signify the
absence of laws, since law is everywhere where there is any duty to be
performed, and the first duty of princes, is it not to watch over the
happiness of their people?"

To the traveler, in the age of Vassili, Russia appeared like a vast
desert compared with the other countries of Europe. The sparseness of
the habitations, the extended plains, dense forests and roads, rough
and desolate, attested that Russia was still in the cradle of its
civilization. But as one approached Moscow, the signs of animated life
rapidly increased. Convoys crowded the grand route, which traversed
vast prairies waving with grain and embellished with all the works of
industry. In the midst of this plain rose the majestic domes and
glittering towers of Moscow. The convents, in massive piles, scattered
around, resembled beautiful villages. The palace of the Kremlin alone,
was a city in itself. Around this, as the nucleus, but spreading over
a wide extent, were the streets of the metropolis, the palaces of the
nobles, the mansions of the wealthy citizens and the shops of the
artisans. The city in that day was, indeed, one of "magnificent
distances," almost every dwelling being surrounded by a garden in
luxurious cultivation. In the year 1520, the houses, by count, which
was ordered by the grand prince, amounted to forty-one thousand five

The metropolitan bishop, the grand dignitaries of the court, the
princes and lords occupied splendid mansions of wood reared by Grecian
and Italian architects in the environs of the Kremlin. On wide and
beautiful streets there were a large number of very magnificent
churches also built of wood. The bazaars or shops, filled with the
rich merchandise of Europe and of Asia, were collected in one quarter
of the city, and were surrounded by a high stone wall as a protection
against the armies, domestic or foreign, which were ever sweeping over
the land.

From the eleventh to the sixteenth century, slavery may be said to
have been universal in Russia. Absolutely every man but the monarch
was a slave. The highest nobles and princes avowed themselves the
slaves of the monarch. There was no law but the will of the sovereign.
He could deprive any one of property and of life, and there was no
power to call him to account but the poignard of the assassin or the
sword of rebellion. In like manner the peasant serfs were slaves of
the nobles, with no privileges whatever, except such as the humanity
or the selfishness of their lords might grant But gradually custom,
controlling public opinion, assumed almost the form of law. The kings
established certain rules for the promotion of industry and the
regulation of commerce. Merchants and scholars attained a degree of
practical independence which was based on indulgence rather than any
constitutional right, and, during the reign of Vassili, the law alone
could doom the serf to death, and he began to be regarded as a _man_,
as a _citizen_ protected by the laws.[8] From this time we begin to
see the progress of humanity and of higher conceptions of social life.
It is, perhaps, worthy of record that anciently the peasants or serfs
were universally designated by the name _smerdi_, which simply means
_smelling offensively_. Is the exhalation of an offensive odor the
necessary property of a people imbruted by poverty and filth? In
America that unpleasant effluvium has generally been considered a
peculiarity pertaining to the colored race. Philosophic observation
may show that it is a disease, the result of uncleanliness, but, like
other diseases, often transmitted from the guilty parent to the
unoffending child. We have known white people who were exceedingly
offensive in this respect, and colored people who were not so at all.

[Footnote 8: Karamsin, tome vii., page 265.]

The pride of illustrious birth was carried to the greatest extreme,
and a noble would blush to enter into any friendly relations whatever
with a plebeian. The nobles considered all business degrading
excepting war, and spent the weary months, when not under arms, in
indolence in their castles. The young women of the higher families
were in a deplorable state of captivity. Etiquette did not allow them
to mingle with society, or even to be seen except by their parents,
and they had no employment except sewing or knitting, no mental
culture and no sources of amusement. It was not the custom for the
young men to choose their wives, but the father of the maiden
selected some eligible match for his daughter, and made propositions
to the family of his contemplated son-in-law, stating the dowry he
would confer upon the bride, and the parties were frequently married
without ever having previously seen each other.

The death of Vassili transmitted the crown to his only son, Ivan, an
infant but three years of age. By the will of the dying monarch, the
regency, during the minority of the child, was placed in the hands of
the youthful mother, the princess Hélène. The brothers of Vassili and
twenty nobles of distinction were appointed as counselors for the
queen regent. Two men, however, in concert with Hélène, soon took the
reins of government into their own hands. One of these was a sturdy,
ambitious old noble, Michel Glinsky, an uncle of Hélène; the other was
a young and handsome prince, Ivan Telennef, who was suspected of
tender _liaisons_ with his royal mistress.

The first act of the new government was to assemble all the higher
clergy in the church of the Assumption, where the metropolitan bishop
gave his benediction to the child destined to reign over Russia, and
who was there declared to be accountable to God only for his actions.
At the same time embassadors were sent to all the courts of Europe to
announce the death of Vassili and the accession of Ivan IV. to the

But a week passed after these ceremonies ere the prince Youri, one of
the brothers of Vassili, was arrested, charged with conspiracy to
wrest the crown from his young nephew. He was thrown into prison,
where he was left to perish by the slow torture of starvation. This
severity excited great terror in Moscow. The Russians, ever strongly
attached to their sovereigns, now found themselves under the reign of
an oligarchy which they detested. Conspiracies and rumors of
conspiracies agitated the court. Many were arrested upon suspicion
alone, and, cruelly chained, were thrown into dungeons. Michel
Glinsky, indignant at the shameful intimacy evidently existing between
Hélène and Telennef, ventured to remonstrate with the regent boldly
and earnestly, assuring her that the eyes of the court were
scrutinizing her conduct, and that such vice, disgraceful anywhere,
was peculiarly hideous upon a throne, where all looked for examples of
virtue. The audacious noble, though president of the council, was
immediately arrested under an accusation of treason, and was thrown
into a dungeon, where, soon after, he was assassinated. A reign of
terror now commenced, and imprisonment and death awaited all those who
undertook in any way to thwart the plans of Hélène and Telennef.

André, the youngest of the brothers of Vassili, a man of feeble
character, now alone remained of the royal princes at court. He was
nominally the tutor of his nephew, the young emperor, Ivan IV., and
though a prominent member of the council which Vassili had
established, he had no influence in the government which had been
grasped so energetically and despotically by Hélène and her paramour
Telennef. At length André, trembling for his own life, timidly raised
the banners of revolt, and gathered quite an army around him. But he
had no energy to conduct a war. He was speedily taken, and, loaded
with chains, was thrown into a dungeon, where, after a few weeks of
most cruel deprivations, he miserably perished. Thirty of the lords,
implicated with him in the rebellion, were hung upon the trees around
Novgorod. Many others were put to torture and perished on the rack.
Hélène, surrendering herself to the dominion of guilty love, developed
the ferocity of a tigress.

Sigismond, King of Poland, taking advantage of the general discontent
of the Russians under the sway of Hélène, formed an alliance with the
horde upon the lower waters of the Don, and invaded Russia, burning
and destroying with mercilessness which demons could not have
surpassed. Prince Telennef headed an army to repel them. The pen
wearies in describing the horrors of these scenes. One hundred
thousand Russians are now flying before one hundred and fifty thousand
Polanders. Hundreds of miles of territory are ravaged. Cities and
villages are stormed, plundered, burned; women and children are cut
down and trampled beneath the feet of cavalry, or escape shrieking
into the forests, where they perish of exposure and starvation. But an
army of recruits comes to the aid of the Russians. And now one hundred
and fifty thousand Polanders are driven before two hundred thousand
Russians. They sweep across the frontier like dust driven by the
tornado. And now the cities and villages of Poland blaze; her streams
run red with blood. The Polish wives and daughters in their turn
struggle, shriek and die. From exhaustion the warfare ceases. The two
antagonists, moaning and bleeding, wait for a few years but to recover
sufficient strength to renew the strife, and then the brutal, demoniac
butchery commences anew. Such is the history of man.

In this brief, but bloody war, the city of Staradoub, in Russia, was
besieged by an army of Poles and Tartars. The assault was urged with
the most desperate energy and fearlessness. The defense was conducted
with equal ferocity. Thousands fell on both sides in every mangled
form of death. At last the besiegers undermined the walls, and placing
beneath hundreds of barrels of gunpowder, as with the burst of a
volcano, uphove the massive bastions to the clouds. They fell in a
storm of ruin upon the city, setting it on fire in many places.
Through the flames and over the smouldering ruins, Poles and Tartars,
blackened with smoke and smeared with blood, rushed into the city, and
in a few hours thirteen thousand of the inhabitants were weltering in
their gore. None were left alive. And this is but a specimen of the
wars which raged for ages. The world now has but the faintest
conception of the seas of blood and woe through which humanity has
waded to attain even its present feeble recognition of fraternity.

In this, as in every war with Poland, Russia was gaining, ever
wresting from her rival the provinces of Lithuania, and attaching them
to the gigantic empire. In the year 1534, Hélène commenced the
enterprise of surrounding the whole of Moscow with a ditch, and a wall
capable of resisting the batterings of artillery. An Italian engineer,
named Petrok Maloi, superintended these works. The foundation of the
walls was laid with imposing religious ceremonies. The wall was
crowned with four towers at the opening of the four gates. Hélène was
so conscious of the importance of augmenting the population of Russia,
that she offered land and freedom from taxes for a term of years to
all who would migrate into her territory from Poland. Perhaps also she
had a double object, wishing to weaken a rival power. Much counterfeit
coin was found to be in circulation. The regent issued an edict, that
any one found guilty of depreciating the current standard of coin,
should be punished with death, and this death was to be barbarously
inflicted by first cutting off the hands of the culprit, and then
pouring melted lead through a tunnel down his throat.

On the 3d of April, 1538, Hélène, in the prime of life, and with all
her sins in full vigor and unrepented, retired to her bed at night,
suddenly and seriously sick. Some one had succeeded in administering
to her a dose of poison. She shrieked for a few hours in mortal agony,
and soon after the hour of twelve was tolled, her spirit ascended to
meet God in judgment. Being dead, she had no favors to confer and no
terrors to execute; and her festering remains were the same day
hurried ignominiously to the grave. Her paramour, Telennef, alone wept
over her death. Russia rejoiced, and yet with trembling. Whose strong
arm would now seize the helm of the tempest-torn ship of State, no one
could tell.

The young prince, Ivan IV., was but seven years of age at the death of
his mother Hélène. For several days there was ominous silence in
Moscow, the stillness which precedes the storm. The death of the
regent had come so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that none were prepared
for it. A week passed away, during which time parties were forming and
conspiracies ripening, while Telennef was desperately endeavoring to
retain that power which he had so despotically wielded in conjunction
with his royal mistress. The prince Vassili Schouisky, who had
occupied the first place in the councils of Vassili, opened the drama.
Having secured the coöperation of a large number of nobles, he
declared himself the head of the government, arrested all the
favorites of Hélène, and threw Telennef, bound with chains, into a
dungeon. There he was left to die of starvation--barbarity, which,
though in accordance with that brutal age, even all the similar
excesses of Telennef could not justify. The beautiful sister of
Telennef, Agrippene by name, was torn from the saloons her loveliness
had embellished, and was imprisoned for life in a convent. The victims
of the cruelty of Hélène, who were still languishing in prison, were
set at liberty.

Schouisky was a widower, and in the fiftieth year of his age. He
wished to strengthen his power by engaging the coöperation of the
still formidable energies of the horde at Kezan, and accordingly
married, quite hurriedly, the daughter of the czar of the horde. But
the regal diadem proved to him but a crown of thorns. Conspiracy
succeeded conspiracy, and Schouisky felt compelled to enlist all the
terrors of the dungeon, the scaffold and the block to maintain his
place. Six months only passed away, ere he too was writhing upon the
royal couch in the agonies of death, whether paralyzed by poison or
smitten by the hand of God, the day of judgment alone can reveal.

Ivan Schouisky, the brother of the deceased usurper, now stepped into
the dangerous post which death had so suddenly rendered vacant. He was
a weak man, assuming the most pompous airs, quite unable to
discriminate between imposing grandeur and ridiculous parade. He soon
became both despised and detested. This state of things encouraged the
two hordes of Kezan and Tauride to unite, and with an army of a
hundred thousand men they penetrated Russia almost unopposed, burning
and plundering in all directions.

Under these circumstances the metropolitan bishop, Joseph, a man of
sincere piety and of very elevated character, and who enjoyed in the
highest degree the confidence both of the aristocracy and of the
people, presented himself before the council, urged the incapacity of
Ivan Schouisky to govern, and proposed that Ivan Belsky, a nobleman of
great energy and moral worth, should be chosen regent. The proposal
was carried by acclamation. So unanimous was the vote, so cordial was
the adoption of the republican principle of election, that Ivan
Schouisky was powerless and was merely dismissed.

The new regent, sustained by the clergy and the aristocracy, governed
the State with wisdom and moderation. All kinds of persecution ceased,
and vigorous measures were adopted for the promotion of the public
welfare. Old abuses were repressed; vicious governors deposed, and the
rising flames of civil strife were quenched. Even the hitherto
unheard-of novelty of trial by jury was introduced. Jurors were chosen
from among the most intelligent citizens. Though there was some bitter
opposition among the corrupt nobles to these salutary reforms, the
clergy, as a body, sustained them, and so did also even a majority of
the lords. It was Christianity and the church which introduced these
humanizing measures.

Among the innumerable tragedies of those days, let one be mentioned
illustrative of the terrific wrongs to which all are exposed under a
despotic government. There was a young prince, Dmitri, a child,
grandson of Vassili the blind, whose claims to the throne were feared.
He was thrown into prison and there forgotten. For forty-nine years he
had now remained in a damp and dismal dungeon. He had committed no
crime. He was accused of no crime. It was only feared that restive
nobles might use him as an instrument for the furtherance of their
plans. All the years of youth and of manhood had passed in darkness
and misery. No beam of the sun ever penetrated his tomb. All unheeded
the tides of life surged in the world above him, while his mind with
his body was wasting away in the long agony.

     "O who can tell what days, what nights he spent,
     Of tideless, waveless, sailless, shoreless woe."

Mercy now entered his cell, but it was too late even for that angel
visitant to bring a gleam of joy. His friends were all dead. His name
was forgotten on earth. He knew nothing of the world or of its ways.
His mind was enfeebled, and even the slender stock of knowledge which
he had possessed as a child, had vanished away. They broke off his
chains and removed him from his dungeon to a comfortable chamber. The
poor old man, dazzled by the light and bewildered by the change,
lingered joylessly and without a smile for a few weeks and died.
Immortality alone offers a solution for these mysteries. "After death
cometh the judgment."

The Christian bishop, Joseph, and Ivan Belsky, the regent, in cordial
coöperation, endeavored in all things to promote prosperity and
happiness. Again there was a coalition of the Tartars for the invasion
of Russia. The three hordes, in Kezan, in the Tauride and at the mouth
of the Volga, united, and in an army one hundred thousand strong, with
numerous cavalry and powerful artillery, commenced their march. The
Russian troops were hastily collected upon the banks of the Oka, there
to take their stand and dispute the passage of the stream. By order of
the clergy, prayers were offered incessantly in the churches by day
and by night, that God would avert this terrible invasion. The young
prince, Ivan IV., was now ten years of age. The citizens of Moscow
were moved to tears and to the deepest enthusiasm on hearing their
young prince, in the church of the Assumption, offer aloud and
fervently the prayer,

     "Oh heavenly Father! thou who didst protect our ancestors against
     the cruel Tamerlane, take us also under thy holy protection--us
     in childhood and orphanage. Our mind and our body are still
     feeble, and yet the nation looks to us for deliverance."

Accompanied by the metropolitan Joseph, he entered the council and

     "The enemy is approaching. Decide for me whether it be best that
     I should remain here or go to meet the foe."

With one voice they exclaimed, "Prince, remain at Moscow."

They then took a solemn oath to die, if necessary, for their prince.
The citizens came forward in crowds and volunteered for the defense of
the walls. The faubourgs were surrounded with pallisades, and
batteries of artillery were placed to sweep, in all directions, the
approaches to the city. The enthusiasm was so astonishing that the
Russian annalists ascribe it to a supernatural cause. On the 30th of
July, 1541, the Tartar army appeared upon the southern banks of the
Oka, crowning all the heights which bordered the stream. Immediately
they made an attempt to force the passage. But the Russians,
thoroughly prepared for the assault, repelled them with prodigious
slaughter. Night put an end to the contest. The Russians were elated
with their success, and waited eagerly for the morning to renew the
strife. They even hoped to be able to cross the river and to sweep the
camp of their foes. The fires of their bivouacs blazed all the night,
reinforcements were continually arriving, and their songs of joy
floated across the water, and fell heavily upon the hearts of the
dismayed Tartars.

At midnight the khan, and the whole host, conscious of their peril,
commenced a precipitate retreat, in their haste abandoning many guns
and much of their baggage. The Russians pursued the foe, but were not
able to overtake them, so rapidly did they retrace their steps.

The news of the expulsion of the enemy spread rapidly through Russia.
The conduct of the grand prince everywhere excited the most lively
enthusiasm. He entered the church, and in an affecting prayer returned
thanks to God for the deliverance. The people, with unanimity,

     "Grand prince, your angelic prayers and your happy star have
     caused us to triumph."

Awful, however, were the woes which fell upon those people who were on
the line of march of the barbaric Tartars.

Ivan Belsky, the regent, had now attained the highest degree of good
fortune, and in his own conscience, and in the general approbation of
the people, he found ample recompense for his deeds of humanity, and
his patriotic exertions. But envy, that poison of society, raised up
against him enemies. Ivan Schouisky, who had been deposed by vote of
the council, organized a conspiracy among the disaffected nobles, and
on the night of the 3d of January, 1542, three hundred cavaliers
surrounded the residences of the regent and of the metropolitan
bishop, seized them and hurried them to prison, and in the prison
finished their work by the assassination of Ivan Belsky.

Ivan Schouisky, sustained by the sabers of his partisans, reassumed
the government. A new metropolitan bishop, Macaire was appointed to
take the place of Joseph, who was deposed and imprisoned. The clergy,
overawed, were silent. The reign of silence was again commenced, and
all the posts of honor and influence were placed in the hands of the
partisans of Schouisky. The government, such as it was, was now in the
hands of a triumvirate consisting of Ivan, André and Feodor. Not a
syllable of opposition would these men endure, and the dungeon and the
assassin's poignard silenced all murmurs. The young prince, Ivan IV.,
was now thirteen years of age. He was endowed by nature with a mind of
extraordinary sagacity and force, but his education had been entirely
neglected, and the scenes of perfidy and violence he was continually
witnessing were developing, a character which menaced Russia with many

The infamous Schiouskies sought to secure the friendship of the young
prince by ministering, in every possible way, to his pleasures. They
led him to the chase, encouraged whatever disposition he chanced to
manifest, and endeavored to train him in a state of feebleness and
ignorance which might promote their ambitious plans. The Kremlin
became the scene of constant intrigues. Cabal succeeded cabal. The
position of the triumvirate became, month after month, more perilous.
The young prince gave decisive indications of discontent. It began to
be whispered into his ears that it was time for him to assume the
reins of government, and he was assured that all Russia was waiting,
eager to obey his orders. The metropolitan bishop, either from a sense
of justice or of policy, also espoused the cause of the youthful
sovereign. It was evident that another party was rising into power.

On the 29th of December, 1534, Ivan IV. went with a large party of his
lords to the chase. Instructed beforehand in the measures he was to
adopt, he, quite unexpectedly to the triumvirate, summoned all his
lords around him, and, assuming an imperious and threatening tone,
declared that the triumvirate had abused his extreme youth, had
trampled upon justice, and, as culprits, deserved to die. In his great
clemency, however, he decided to spare the lives of two, executing
only one as an example to the nation. The oldest of the three, André
Schouisky, was immediately seized and handed over to the conductors of
the hounds. They set the dogs upon him, and he was speedily torn to
pieces in the presence of the company, and his mangled remains were
scattered over the plain.

The partisans of Schouisky, terrified by this deed, were afraid to
utter a murmur. The nobles generally were alarmed, for it was evident
that though they had escaped the violence of the triumvirate, they had
fallen into hands equally to be dreaded. Confiscations and other acts
of rigor rapidly succeeded, and the young prince, still too youthful
to govern by the decision of his own mind, was quite under the control
of the Glinskys, through whose council he had shaken off the
triumvirate of the Schouiskies. Ivan IV. now made the tour of his
kingdom, but with no other object than the promotion of his personal
gratification. Most of his time was devoted to the excitements of the
chase in the savage forests which spread over a large portion of his
realms. He was always surrounded by a brilliant staff of nobles, and
the sufferings of the people were all concealed from his view. The
enormous expenses of his court were exacted from the people he
visited, and his steps were followed by lamentations.

In the year 1546, Ivan attained the eighteenth year of his age, and
made great preparations for his coronation. The imposing rites were to
be performed at Moscow. On the 16th of January, the grand prince
entered one of the saloons of his palaces while the nobles, the
princes, the officers of the court, all richly dressed, were assembled
in the ante-chamber. The confessor of the grand prince, having
received from Ivan IV. a crucifix, placed it upon a plate of gold with
the crown and other regalia, and conveyed them to the church of the
Assumption accompanied by the grand equerry, Glinsky, and other
important personages of the court. Soon after, the grand prince also
repaired to the church. He was preceded by an ecclesiastic holding in
his hand a crucifix, and sprinkling to the right and to the left holy
water upon the crowd.

Ivan IV., surrounded by all the splendors of his court, entered the
church, where he was encircled by the ecclesiastics, and received the
benediction of the metropolitan bishop. A hymn was then sang by the
accumulated choirs, which astounded the audience; after which mass was
celebrated. In the midst of the cathedral, a platform was erected,
which was ascended by twelve steps. Upon this platform there were two
thrones of equal splendor, covered with cloth of gold, one for the
monarch, the other for the metropolitan bishop. In front of the stage
there was a desk, richly decorated, upon which were placed the crown
regalia. The monarch and the bishop took their seats. The bishop,
rising, pronounced a benediction upon the monarch, placed the crown
upon his head, the scepter in his hand, and then, with a loud voice,
prayed that God would endow this new David with the influences of the
Holy Spirit, establish his throne in righteousness, and render him
terrible to evil doers and a benefactor to those who should do well.
The ceremonies were closed by an anthem by the choir. The young
emperor then returned, with his court, to the Kremlin, through streets
carpeted with velvet and damask. As they walked along, the emperor's
brother, Youri, scattered among the crowd handsfull of gold coin,
which he took from a vase carried at his side by Michel Glinsky. The
moment Ivan IV. left the church, the people, till then motionless and
silent, precipitated themselves upon the platform, and all the rich
cloths which had decorated it were torn to shreds, each individual
eager to possess a souvenir of the memorable day.



From 1546 to 1552.

The Title of Tzar.--marriage of Ivan IV.--Virtues of His
Bride.--Depraved Character of the Young Emperor.--Terrible
Conflagrations.--Insurrections.--The Rebuke.--Wonderful Change in the
Character of Ivan IV.--Confessions of Sin and Measures of
Reform.--Sylvestre and Alexis Adachef.--The Code of Laws.--Reforms in
the Church.--Encouragement To Men of Science and Letters.--The
Embassage of Schlit.--War With Kezan.--Disasters and
Disgrace.--Immense Preparation For the Chastisement of the Horde.--The
March.--Repulse of the Tauredians.--Siege of Kezan.--Incidents of the

Though the monarchs of Russia, in all their relations with foreign
powers, took the title of Tzar or Emperor, they also retained that of
Grand Prince which was consecrated by ancient usage. And now the
envoys of Ivan IV. were traversing Russia in all directions to find,
among the maidens of noble blood, one whose beauty would render her
worthy of the sovereign. The choice at last fell upon Anastasia, the
daughter of a lady of illustrious rank, who was a widow. Language is
exhausted, by the Russian annalists, in describing the perfections of
her person, mind and heart. All conceivable social and moral
excellences were in her united with the most brilliant intellectual
gifts and the most exquisite loveliness.

The marriage was performed by the bishop in the church of Notre Dame.
"You are now," said the metropolitan, in conclusion, "united for ever,
by virtue of the mysteries of the gospel. Prostrate yourselves, then,
before the Most High, and secure his favor by the practice of every
virtue. But those virtues which should especially distinguish you, are
the love of truth and of benevolence. Prince, love and honor your
spouse. Princess, truly Christian, be submissive to your husband; for
as the Redeemer is the head of the church, so is man the head of the

For many days Moscow was surrendered to festivity and rejoicings. The
emperor devoted his attention to the rich, the empress to the poor.
Anastasia, since the death of her father, had lived remote from the
capital, in the most profound rural seclusion. Suddenly, and as by
magic, she found herself transported to the scenes of the highest
earthly grandeur, but still she maintained the same beautiful
simplicity of character which she had developed in the saddened home
of her widowed mother. Ivan IV. was a man of ungovernable passions,
and accustomed only to idleness, he devoted himself to the most gross
and ignoble pleasures. Mercilessly he confiscated the estates of those
who displeased him, and with caprice equal to his mercilessness, he
conferred their possessions upon his favorites. He seemed to regard
this arbitrary conduct as indicative of his independence and grandeur.

The situation of Russia was perhaps never more deplorable than at the
commencement of the reign of Ivan IV. The Glinskys were in high favor,
and easily persuaded the young emperor to gratify all their desires.
Laden with honors and riches, they turned a deaf ear to all the
murmurs which despotism, the most atrocious, extorted from every
portion of the empire. The inhabitants of Pskof, oppressed beyond
endurance by an infamous governor, sent seventy of their most
influential citizens to Moscow to present their grievances to the
emperor. Ivan IV. raved like a madman at what he called the insolence
of his subjects, in complaining of their governor. Almost choking with
rage, he ordered the seventy deputies to be put to death by the most
cruel tortures.

Anastasia wept in anguish over these scenes, and her prayers were
incessantly ascending, that God would change the heart of her husband.
Her prayers were heard and answered. The same power which changed
Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle, seemed to renew the soul of Ivan
IV. History is full of these marvelous transformations--a mental
phenomenon only to be explained by the scriptural doctrine of
regeneration. In Ivan's case, as in that of thousands of others,
afflictions were instruments made available by the Holy Spirit for the
heart's renewal.

Moscow was at this time a capital of vast extent and of great
magnificence. As timber was abundant and easily worked, most of the
buildings, even the churches and the palaces, were constructed of
wood. Though almost every house was surrounded by a garden, these
enclosures were necessarily not extensive, and the city was peculiarly
exposed to the perils of conflagration.

On the 12th of April, 1547, the cry of fire alarmed the inhabitants,
and soon the flames were spreading with fury which baffled all human
power. The store-houses of commerce, the magazines of the crown, the
convent of Epiphany and a large number of dwellings, extending from
the gate of Illinsky, to the Kremlin and the Moskwa, were consumed.
The river alone arrested the destruction. A powder magazine took fire,
and with a terrible explosion its towers were thrown into the air,
taking with them a large section of the walls. The ruins fell like an
avalanche into the river, completely filling up its channel, adding
the destruction of a deluge to that of the fire.

A week had hardly passed ere the cry of fire again was raised, and, in
a few hours, the whole section of the city on the other side of the
Yaouza was in ashes. This region was mostly occupied by mechanics and
manufacturers, and immense suffering ensued. Six weeks elapsed, and
the inhabitants were just beginning to recover from their
consternation, and were sweeping away the ashes to rebuild, when on
the 20th of June, the wind at the time blowing a gale, the fearful cry
of fire again rang through the streets. The palaces of the nobles
were now in flames. The palace of the Kremlin itself, the gorgeous
streets which surrounded it, and the whole of the grand faubourg in a
few moments were glowing like a furnace. God had come with flaming
fire as his minister of vengeance, and resistance was unavailing. The
whole city was now in ashes, and presented the aspect of an immense
funeral pile, over which was spread a pall of thick and black smoke.
The wooden edifices disappeared entirely. Those of stone and brick
presented a still more gloomy aspect, with only portions of their
walls standing, crumbling and blackened. The howling of the tempest,
the roar of the flames, the crash of falling buildings, and the
shrieks of the inhabitants, were all frequently overpowered by the
explosions of the powder magazines in the arsenals of the Kremlin.

To many of the people it seemed that the day of judgment had actually
arrived, that the trump of the archangel was sounding, and that the
final conflagration had arrived. The palace of the emperor, his
treasures, his precious things, his arms, his venerated images and the
archives of the kingdom, all were devoured. The destruction of the
city was almost as entire and as signal a proof of the divine
displeasure as that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Even the metropolitan
bishop, who was in the church of the Assumption, pleading for divine
interposition, was with great difficulty rescued. Smothered, and in a
state almost of insensibility, he was conveyed through billows of
flame and smoke. Seventeen hundred adults, besides uncounted children,
perished in the fire.

For many days the wretched inhabitants were seen wandering about, in
the fields and among the ruins, searching for their children, their
friends or any articles of furniture which might, by chance, have
escaped the flames. Many became maniacs, and their cries arose in all
directions like the howlings of wild beasts. The emperor and the
nobles, to avoid the spectacle of so much misery, retired to the
village of Vorobeif, a few miles from Moscow. The whole population of
Moscow, being in a state of despair, and reckless of consequences,
were ripe for any conspiracy against an emperor and his favorites,
whose iniquities, in their judgment, had brought down upon them the
indignation of Heaven.

Several of the higher clergy, in coöperation with some of the princes
and nobles, resolved to arouse the energies of the populace to effect
a change in the government. The Glinskys were the advisers and
instigators of the king. Against them the fury of the populace was
easily directed. These doomed minions of despotism were pursued with
fury energized by despair. Ivan IV. was quite unable to protect them.
The Glinskys, with their numerous partisans, had returned to Moscow to
make arrangements for the rebuilding of the Kremlin when the mob fell
upon them, and they were nearly all slain. In the eye of the populace,
there was something so sacred in the person of their prince that no
one thought of offering him any harm.

Ivan IV., astounded by this outbreak, was trembling in his palace at
Vorobeif, and his truly pious wife, Anastasia, was, with tears,
pleading with Heaven, when one of the clergy, an extraordinary man
named Sylvestre, endowed with the boldness of an ancient prophet,
entered the presence of the emperor. He was venerable in years, and
his gray locks fell in clusters upon his shoulders. The boy king was
overawed by his appearance. One word from that capricious king would
cause the head of Sylvestre to fall from the block. But the intrepid
Christian, with the solemnity of an embassador from God, with pointed
finger and eye sparkling with indignation, thus addressed him:

     "God's avenging hand is suspended over the head of a
     God-forgetting, man-oppressing tzar. Fire from heaven has
     consumed Moscow. The anger of the Most High has called up the
     people in revolt, and is spreading over the kingdom anarchy, fury
     and blood."

Then taking from his bosom a copy of the New Testament, he read to
the king those divinely-inspired precepts which are alike applicable
to monarchs and peasants, and, in tones subdued by sadness, urged the
king to follow these sacred lessons. The warning was heeded, and Ivan
became "a new creature." Whatever explanations philosophy may attempt
of the sudden and marvelous change of the character of Ivan IV., the
fact remains one of the marvels of history. He appears to have been
immediately overwhelmed with a sense of his guilt; with tears he
extended his hand to the courageous monitor, asked imploringly what he
could do to avert the wrath and secure the favor of Heaven, and placed
himself at once under the guidance of his new-found friend.

Sylvestre, a humble, world-renouncing Christian, sought nothing for
himself, and would accept neither riches nor honors, but he remained
near the throne to strengthen the young monarch in his good
resolutions. There was a young man, Alexis Adachef, connected with the
court who possessed a character of extraordinary nobleness and
loveliness. He was of remarkable personal beauty, and his soul was
pure and sensitive. Entirely devoted to the good of others, without
the least apparent mixture of sordid motives, he engaged in the
service of the tzar, and became to him a friend of priceless value.
Alexis, mingling freely with the people, was acquainted with all their
wants and griefs, and he coöperating with Sylvestre, inspired the
emperor with a heart to conceive and energy to execute all good

From this conjunction is to be dated the commencement of the glory of
the reign of Ivan IV. The first endeavor of the reformed monarch was
to quell the tumult among the people. Three days after the
assassination of the Glinskys, a mob from Moscow rushed out to the
village of Vorobeif, surrounded the palace and demanded one of the
aunts of the emperor and another of the nobles who had become
obnoxious to them. The king immediately opened a fire upon mob and
dispersed them. This decisive act restored order. Ivan IV. immediately
devoted all his energies to preparing dwellings for the houseless poor
and in relieving their necessities. His whole soul seemed aroused to
promote the happiness of his subjects, both temporal and spiritual,
and all selfish considerations were apparently obliterated from his
mind. In order to consolidate, by the aids of religion, the happy
change effected in the government and in his own heart, the young
sovereign shut himself up for several days in solitude, and, in the
exercises of self-examination, fasting and prayer, made the entire
consecration of himself to his Maker. He then assembled the bishops in
one of the churches, and, in their presence, with touching words and
tearful eyes, made confession of his faults, implored divine
forgiveness, and then, with the calmness of a soul relieved of the
burden of sin, received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

With true nobility of soul, he wished his penitence to be as
conspicuous as his sins had been. He resolved to humble himself before
his Maker in the presence of all Russia, that his subjects universally
might understand the new principles which animated his heart, and the
new desires which would enlist his energies. Every city in the empire
received orders to send deputies to Moscow, chosen from all the ranks
of society, to attend to matters of the utmost importance to the
country. The Sabbath morning after their arrival, they were all
assembled, an immense multitude, in one of the public squares of the
city. The czar, accompanied by the clergy and the nobles, left the
palace of the Kremlin to meet the deputies. The solemnity of the
Sabbath hallowed the scene, and the people received their sovereign in
profound silence.

The metropolitan bishop first offered a prayer. Ivan IV. then,
standing on a platform, addressed the bishop in the following terms:

"Holy father! Your zeal for religion, your love for our country are
well known to me; aid me in my good intentions. I lost, while an
infant, my parents, and the nobles, who sought only their own
aggrandizement, neglected entirely my education, and have usurped, in
my name, wealth and power. They have enriched themselves by injustice,
and have crushed the poor without any one daring to check their
ambition. I was, as it were, both deaf and dumb in my deplorable
ignorance, for I heard not the lamentations of the poor, and my words
solaced them not in their sorrows. Who can tell the tears which have
been shed, the blood which has flowed? For all these things the
judgment of God is to be feared."

Bowing then on all sides to the people, the monarch continuing, thus
addressed them:

"O, you my people, whom the All-powerful has entrusted to my care, I
invoke this day, in my behalf, both your religion and the love you
have for me. It is impossible to repair past faults, but I will
hereafter be your protector from oppression and all wrong. Forget
those griefs which shall never be renewed. Lay aside every subject of
discord, and let Christian love fraternize your hearts. From this day
I will be your judge and your defender."

Religious ceremonies, simple yet imposing, closed this scene. Alexis
Adachef was appointed minister of justice, receiving special
instructions to watch the empire with a vigilant eye, that the poor
especially should be subject to no oppression. From that moment all
the actions of the sovereign were guided by the counsels of Sylvestre
and Adachef. Ivan IV. assembled around him a council of his wisest and
best men, and ever presided in person over their meetings. With great
energy he entered upon the work of establishing a code of laws, which
should be based upon the love of justice and good order. In the year
1550 this important code was promulgated, which forms almost the basis
of Russian civilization.

On the 23d of February, 1551, a large convention of the clergy, of the
nobles and of the principal citizens of the empire, was assembled at
the Kremlin, and the emperor presented to them, for their own
consideration and approval, the code of laws which had been framed.
The mind of Ivan IV. expanded rapidly under these noble toils, and in
a speech of great eloquence he urged them to examine these laws, to
point out any defects and to coöperate with him in every endeavor for
the prosperity of Russia.

After having thus settled the affairs of the State, the monarch turned
his attention to those of the Church, urging the clergy to devote
themselves to the work of ecclesiastical reform; to add simplicity to
the ceremonies of religion, to prepare books of piety for the people,
to train up a thoroughly instructed clergy for the pulpits, to
establish rules for the decorous observance of divine worship, to
abolish useless monasteries, to purify the convents of all immorality,
and to insist that ecclesiastics, of every grade, should be patterns
of piety for their flocks. The clergy eagerly engaged in this plan of
reform, and vied with their Christian monarch in their efforts for the
public weal.

Among the number of projects truly worthy of the grand prince, we must
not neglect particular mention of his attempt to enrich Russia by
encouraging the emigration, from other lands, of men distinguished in
the arts and sciences. A distinguished German, named Schlit, being in
Moscow in 1547, informed the tzar of the rapid progress Germany was
making in civilization and enlightenment. Ivan IV. listened
attentively, and after many interviews and protracted questionings,
proposed that he should return to Germany as an envoy from Russia, and
invite, in his name, to Moscow, artists, physicians, apothecaries,
printers, mechanics, and also literary men, skilled in the languages,
dead or living, and learned theologians.

Schlit accepted the mission and hastened to Augsburg, where the
Emperor Charles V. was then presiding over a diet. Schlit presented to
him a letter from Ivan IV. relative to this business. Charles was a
little doubtful as to the expediency of allowing illustrious men from
his empire to emigrate and thus add to the consideration and power of
a rival kingdom. Nevertheless, after a long deliberation with the
assembled States, he consented to gratify the tzar, on consideration
that he would engage, by oath, not to allow any of the artists or the
literati to pass from Russia into Turkey, and that he would not employ
their talents in any manner hurtful to the German empire. Turkey was
at that time assuming an attitude so formidable, that it was deemed
expedient to increase the power of Russia, as that kingdom might thus
more effectually aid as a barrier against the Turks; while, at the
same time, it was deemed a matter of the utmost moment that Turkey
should receive no aid whatever from Christian civilization.

Charles V. accordingly gave Schlit a written commission to raise his
corps of emigrants. He soon assembled one hundred and twenty
illustrious men at Lubeck, where they were to embark for Russia. But,
in the mean time, the opposition had gained ground, and even Charles
V. himself had become apprehensive that Russia, thus enlightened,
might attain to formidable power. He accordingly had Schlit arrested.
The corps of emigrants, thus deprived of their leader, and
consequently disheartened, soon dispersed. Several months passed away
before Ivan IV. received intelligence of the sad fate of his envoy.
Though the plan thus failed, nevertheless, quite a number of these
German artists, notwithstanding the prohibition of the emperor,
effected their escape from Germany, secretly entered Russia, and
engaged in the service of the tzar, were they were very efficient in
contributing to Russian civilization.

The barbarian horde at Kezan still continued to annoy Russia with very
many incursions. Some were mere petty forays, others were extended
invasions, but all were alike merciless and bloody. In February, 1550,
Ivan IV., then but twenty two years of age, placed himself at the head
of a large army to descend the Volga and punish the horde. The
monarch was young and totally inexperienced in war. A series of
terrible disasters from storms and floods thinned his ranks, and the
monarch in great dejection returned to Moscow to replenish his forces.
Again, early in December, he hastened to meet his army which had been
rendezvoused at Nigni Novgorod, on the Volga, about three hundred
miles west of Moscow. In the early spring they descended the river,
and in great force encamped before the walls of Kezan. The walls were
of wood. The Russians were sixty thousand strong, and were aided with
several batteries of artillery. The assault was immediately commenced,
and for one whole day the battle raged with equal valor on the part of
the assailants and the defendants. The next day a storm arose, the
rain falling abundantly and freezing as it touched the ground. The
encampment was flooded, and the assailants, unable to make any
progress, were again compelled to beat a retreat. These reverses
mortified the young tzar, though he succeeded in effecting a treaty
with the barbarians, which in some degree covered his disgrace.

But the horde, entirely disorganized, paid no regard to treaties and
continued their depredations. Again, in the year 1552, the tzar
prepared another expedition to check their ravages. He announced to
the council, in a very solemn session, that the time had arrived when
it was necessary, at all hazards, to check the pride of the horde.

"God is my witness," said he, "that I do not seek vain glory, but I
wish to secure the repose of my people. How shall I be able in the day
of judgment to say to the Most High, 'Behold me and the subjects thou
hast entrusted to my care,' if I do not shelter them from the eternal
enemies of Russia, from these barbarians from whom one can have
neither peace nor truce?"

The lords endeavored to persuade the emperor to remain at Moscow, and
to entrust the expedition to his experienced generals, but he
declared that he would not expose his army to perils and fatigues
which he was not also ready and willing to share. Though many were in
favor of a winter's campaign, as Kezan was surrounded with streams and
lakes which the ice would then bridge, yet Ivan decided upon the
summer as more favorable for the transportation of his army down the
rivers. By the latter part of May the waters of the Volga and the Oka
were covered with bateaux laden with artillery and with military
stores, and the banks of those streams were crowded with troops upon
the march. Nigni Novgorod, where the Oka empties into the Volga, was
as usual the appointed place of rendezvous. The 16th of June Ivan took
leave of the Empress Anastasia. Her emotion at parting was so great
that she fell fainting into the arms of her husband.

From his palace Ivan proceeded to the church of the Assumption, where
the blessing of Heaven was implored, and then issuing orders that the
bishops, all over the empire, should offer prayers daily for the
success of the expedition, he mounted his horse, and accompanied by
the cavalry of his guard, took the route to Kolumna, a city on the
Oka, about a hundred miles south of Moscow.

It will be remembered that the Tartar horde existed in several vast
encampments. One of these encampments occupied Tauride, as the region
north of the Crimea, and including that peninsula, was then called.
These barbarians, thinking that the Russian army was now five hundred
miles west of Moscow at Kezan, and that the empire was thus
defenseless, with a vast army of invasion were on the eager march for
Moscow. Ivan at Kolumna heard joyfully of their approach, for he was
prepared to meet them and to chastise them with merited severity. On
the 22d of July, the horde, unconscious of their danger, surrounded
the walls of Toola, a city about a hundred miles south of Kolumna.
Ivan himself, heading a division of the army, fell fiercely upon them,
and the Tartars were totally routed, losing artillery, camels, banners
and a large number of prisoners. They were pursued a long distance as
in wild rout they fled back to their own country.

This brilliant success greatly elated the army. Ivan IV., sending his
trophies to Moscow, as an encouragement to the capital, again put his
army in motion towards Kezan. The relation which existed between the
sovereign and his pastor, the faithful metropolitan bishop, may be
inferred from the following communications which passed between them,
equally worthy of them both.

"May the soul of your majesty," wrote the metropolitan, "remain pure
and chaste. Be humble in prosperity and courageous in adversity. The
piety of a sovereign saves and blesses his empire." The tzar replied,

"Worthy pastor of the church, we thank you for your Christian
instructions. We will engrave them on our heart. Continue to us your
wise counsels, and aid us also with your prayers. We advance against
the enemy. May the Lord soon enable us to secure peace and repose to
the Christians."

On the 13th of August, with his assembled army, he reached Viask on
the Volga, about fifty miles above Kezan. Here he encamped to
concentrate and rest his troops after so long a march. Barges
freighted with provisions, merchandise and munitions of war, were
incessantly arriving from the vast regions watered by the Volga and
the Oka. As by magic an immense city spread out over the green plain.
Tents glistened in the sun, banners waved, and horsemen and footmen,
in all the gorgeous panoply of war, extended as far as the eye could

While resting here, Ivan IV. sent an embassy to Kezan, saying that the
tzar sought their repentance and amendment, not their destruction;
that if they would deliver up to punishment the authors of sedition,
and would give satisfactory pledges of future friendliness, they might
live in peace under the paternal government of the tzar. To this
message a contemptuous and defiant response was returned by the Tartar
khan. The answer was closed with these words: "We are anxiously
awaiting your arrival, and are all ready to commence our festivities."

That very day, the Russian army, amounting to one hundred and fifty
thousand men, arrived within sight of Kezan. A prairie four miles in
width, carpeted with flowers, extended from the Volga to the range of
mountains at the base of which the city stood. The Tartars, abounding
in wealth, by the aid of engineers and architects from all lands, had
surrounded the city with massive walls defended with towers, ramparts
and bastions in the most formidable strength of military art as then
known. Within the walls rose the minarets of innumerable mosques and
the turrets of palaces embellished with all the gorgeousness of
oriental wealth and taste. The horde, relying upon the strength of
their fortification, remained behind their walls, where they prepared
for a defense which they doubted not would be successful. Two days
were employed in disembarking the artillery and the munitions of war.

While thus engaged, a deserter escaped from the city and announced to
the tzar that the fortress was abundantly supplied with artillery,
provisions and all means of defense; that the garrison consisted of
thirty-two thousand seven hundred veteran soldiers; that a numerous
corps of cavalry had been detached to scour the surrounding country
and raise an army of cavalry and infantry to assail the besiegers in
flank and rear, while the garrisons should be prepared to sally from
their entrenchments.

On the 23d of August, at the dawn of day, the army, advancing from the
river, approached the city. The moment the sun appeared in the
horizon, at the sound of innumerable trumpets, the whole army arrested
their steps and the sacred standard was unfurled, presenting the
effigy of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, surmounted by a golden cross.
Ivan IV. and his staff alighted from their horses, and, beneath the
shadow of the banner, with prayers and other exercises of devotion,
received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The monarch then rode
along the ranks, and, in an impassioned harangue, roused the soldiers
to the noblest enthusiasm. Exalting the glory of those who might fall
in the defense of religion, he assured them in the name of Russia that
their wives and their children should never be forgotten, but that
they should be the objects of his special care and should ever enjoy
protection and abundance. In conclusion, he assured them that he was
determined to sacrifice his own life, if necessary, to secure the
triumph of the cross. These words were received with shouts of
acclaim. The chaplain of Ivan, elevated in the view of the whole army,
pronounced a solemn benediction upon the sovereign and upon all the
troops, and then bowing to the sacred standard, exclaimed,

"O Lord, it is in thy name we now march against the infidels."

With waving banners and pealing trumpets, the army was now conducted
before the walls of the city. Every thing there seemed abandoned and
in profound silence and solitude. Not the slightest movement could be
perceived. Not an individual appeared upon the walls. Many of the
Russians began to rejoice, imagining that the tzar of Kezan, struck
with terror, had fled with all his army into the forest. But the
generals, more experienced, suspected a snare, and regarded the aspect
of affairs as a motive for redoubled prudence. With great caution they
made their dispositions for commencing the siege. As a division of
seven thousand troops were crossing a bridge which they had thrown
over a ditch near the walls, suddenly a violent uproar succeeded the
profound silence which had reigned in the city. The air was filled
with cries of rage. The massive gates rolled open upon their hinges,
and fifteen thousand mounted Tartars, armed to the teeth, rushed upon
the little band with a shock utterly resistless, and, in a few
moments, the Russians were cut to pieces in the presence of the whole
army. The victorious Tartars, having achieved this signal exploit,
swept back again into the city and the gates were closed. This event
taught the Russians prudence.

Anticipating a long siege, a city of tents was reared, with its
streets and squares, beyond the reach of the guns from the walls.
Three churches of canvas were constructed, where worship was daily
held. Day after day, the siege was conducted with the usual events
witnessed around a beleaguered fortress. There were the thunderings of
artillery, the explosion of mines, fierce and bloody sorties, the
shrieks of the combatants, and the city ever burning by flames
enkindled by red hot shot thrown over the walls. The Russian batteries
grew every day more and more formidable, and the ramparts crumbled
beneath their blows. The Russian army was so numerous that the
soldiers relieved themselves at the batteries, and the bombardment was
continued day and night. At length a Tartar army was seen descending
the distant mountains and hastening to the relief of the garrison.
Ivan dispatched one half his army to meet them. The Tartars, after a
sanguinary conflict, were cut to pieces. As the division returned
covered with dust and blood, and exulting in their great achievement,
Ivan displayed the prisoners, the banners, and the spoil he had taken,
before the walls of the city. A herald was then sent, to address these
words to the besieged:

"Ivan promises you life, liberty and pardon for the past, if you will
submit yourselves to him."

The response returned was,

"We had rather die by our own pure hands, than perish by those of
miserable Christians."

This answer was followed by a storm of all the missiles of war.

The monarch, wishing as far as possible to save the city from
destruction, and to avoid the effusion of blood, directed a German
engineer to sink a mine under an important portion of the walls. The
miners proceeded until they could hear the footsteps of the Kezanians
over their heads. Eleven tons of powder were placed in the vault. On
the 5th of September the match was applied. The explosion was awful.
Large portions of the wall, towers, buildings, rocks, the mutilated
bodies of men, were thrown hundreds of feet into the air and fell upon
the city, crushing the dwellings and the inhabitants. The besieged
were seized with mortal terror, not knowing to what to attribute so
dire a calamity. The Russians, who were prepared for the explosion,
waving their swords, with loud outcries rushed in at the breach. But
the Kezanians, soon recovering from their consternation, with their
breasts and their artillery presented a new rampart, and beat back the
foe. Thus, day after day, the horrible carnage continued. Within the
city and without the city, death held high carnival. There were famine
and pestilence and misery in all imaginable forms within the walls. In
the camp of the besiegers, there were mutilation, and death's agonies
and despair. Army after army of Tartars came to the help of the
besieged, but they were mown down mercilessly by Russian sabers, and
trampled beneath Russian hoofs.

Ivan, morning and evening, with his generals, entered the church to
implore the blessing of God upon his enterprise. In no other way could
he rescue Russia from the invasion of these barbarians, than by thus
appealing to the energies of the sword. In the contemplation of such a
tragedy, the mind struggles in bewilderment, and can only say, "Be
still and know that I am God."



From 1552 to 1557.

Siege of Kezan.--Artifices of War.--The Explosion of Mines.--The Final
Assault.--Complete Subjugation of Kezan.--Gratitude and Liberality of
the Tzar.--Return To Moscow.--Joy of the inhabitants.--Birth of An
Heir To the Crown.--Insurrection in Kezan.--The Insurrection
Quelled.--Conquest of Astrachan.--The English Expedition in Search of
a North-East Passage to India.--The Establishment at
Archangel.--Commercial Relations Between France and Russia.--Russian
Embassy to England.--Extension of Commerce.

The Russians had now been a month before the walls of Kezan. Ten
thousand of the defenders had already been slain. The autumnal sun was
rapidly declining, and the storms of winter were approaching. Secretly
they now constructed, a mile and a half from the camp, an immense
tower upon wheels, and rising higher than the walls of the city. Upon
the platform of this tower they placed sixteen cannon, of the largest
caliber, which were worked by the most skillful gunners. In the night
this terrible machine was rolled up to the walls, and with the first
dawn of the morning opened its fire upon the dwellings and the
streets. The carnage was at first horrible, but the besieged at length
took refuge in subterranean walks and covered ways, where they
indomitably continued the conflict. The artillery, placed upon the
walls of Kezan, were speedily dismounted by the batteries on the

A new series of mines beneath the walls were now constructed by the
Russian engineers, which were to operate with destructive power,
hitherto unrecorded in the annals of war. On the 1st of October the
tzar announced to the army that the mines were ready to be fired, and
wished them to prepare for the general assault. While one half of the
troops continued the incessant bombardment, the other half were
assembled in the churches to purify themselves for the conflict by
confession, penitence, prayer and the partaking of the sacrament of
the Lord's Supper. The divisions then exchanged that the whole army
might prostrate itself before God. Ivan IV. himself retired with his
confessor and passed several hours in earnest devotion. The night
preceding the assault there was no repose in either camp. The
Kezanians, who were anxiously awaiting events, had perceived an
extraordinary movement among the Russians, as each battalion was
guided to the spot whence it was to rush over the ruins immediately
after the explosion. Forty-eight tons _(tonneaux)_ of powder had been
placed in the mines.

The morning of the 2d of October dawned serene and cloudless. The
earliest light revealed the Russians and the Kezanians each at their
posts. The moment the sun appeared above the horizon the explosion
took place. First the earth trembled and rose and fell for many miles
as if shaken by an earthquake. A smothered roar, swelling into pealing
thunder ensued, which appalled every mind. Immense volumes of smoke,
thick and suffocating, instantaneously rolled over the city and the
beleaguering camp, converting day into night. A horrible melange of
timbers, rocks, guns and mutilated bodies of men, women and children
were hurled into the air through this storm cloud of war, and fell in
hideous ruin alike upon the besiegers and the besieged. At the moment
when the explosion took place, one of the bishops in the church was
reading the words of our Saviour foretelling the peaceful reign of
fraternity and of heavenly love, "Henceforth there shall be but one
flock and one shepherd." Strange contrast between the spirit of heaven
and the woes of a fallen world!

For a moment even the Russians, though all prepared for the explosion,
were paralyzed by its direful effects. But instantly recovering, they
raised the simultaneous shout, "God is with us," and rushing over the
debris, of ruin and blood, penetrated the city. The Tartars met them
with the fury of despair, appealing, in their turn, to Allah and
Mohammed. Soon the Russian banner floated over tottering towers and
blackened walls, though for many hours the battle raged with
fierceness, which human energies can not exceed.

Prince Vorotinsky, early in the afternoon, soiled with blood and
blackened with smoke, rode from the ruins of the city into the
presence of Ivan, and bowing, said,

"Sire, rejoice; your bravery and your good fortune have secured the
victory. Kezan is ours. The khan is in your power, the people are
slain or taken captive. Unspeakable riches have fallen into our

"Let God be glorified," cried Ivan, raising his eyes and his hands to
heaven. Then taking the sacred standard in his own hands, he entered
the city, planted the banner in one of the principal squares, ordered
a _Te Deum_ there to be chanted, and then directed that upon that spot
the foundation should be laid of the first Christian temple. All the
booty Ivan surrendered to the army, saying,

"The only riches I desire, are the repose and the honor of Russia."

Then assembling his troops around him, he thus addressed them:

"Valiant lords, generals, officers, all of you who in this solemn day
have suffered for the glory of God, for religion, your country and
your emperor, you have acquired immortal glory. Never before did a
people develop such bravery; never before was so signal a victory
gained. How can I suitably reward your glorious actions?

"And you who repose on the field of honor, noble children of Russia,
you are already in the celestial realms, in the midst of Christian
martyrs and all resplendent with glory. This is the recompense with
which God has rewarded you. But as for us, it is our duty to transmit
your names to future ages, and the sacred list in which they shall be
enrolled shall be placed in the temple of the Lord, that they may ever
live in the memory of men.

"You, who bathed in your blood, still live to experience the effects
of my love and my gratitude; all of you brave warriors now before me,
listen attentively to my words, and repose perfect confidence in the
promises I make to you this day, that I will cherish you and protect
you to the end of my life."

These were not idle words. Ivan personally visited the wounded,
cheered them with his sympathy, and ever after watched over them with
parental care. His brother-in-law, Daniel, was immediately sent an
envoy to the empress and to the metropolitan bishop, to inform them of
the victory. The day was closed by a festival, in a gorgeous tent,
where all the principal officers and lords were invited to dine with
the tzar. A proclamation was addressed to all the tribes and nations
of the conquered region.

"Come," said the Russian tzar, "without fear to me. The past is
forgotten; for perfidy has received its reward. I shall require of you
only the tribute which you have heretofore paid to the tzars of

On the 3d of October the dead were buried and the whole city was
cleansed. The next day, Ivan, accompanied by his clergy, his council
and the chiefs of his army, made his triumphal entrance, and laid, on
the designated spot, the corner-stone of the cathedral church of the
Visitation. He also made the tour of the city, bearing the sacred
banner, and consecrating Kezan to the true God. The clergy sprinkled
holy water upon the streets and upon the walls of the houses,
imploring the benediction of Heaven upon this new rampart of
Christianity. They prayed that the inhabitants might be preserved from
all maladies, that they might be strengthened to repel every enemy,
and that the city might for ever remain the glorious heritage of
Russia. Having traversed the whole city and designated the places for
the erection of churches, the tzar gave orders for the immediate
rebuilding of the fortifications, and then, accompanied by his court,
he took possession of the palace of the khan, over which now floated
the banners of the cross.

It was thus that one of the most considerable principalities of the
descendants of Genghis Khan fell into the hands of Russia. Kezan was
founded upon the ruins of ancient Bulgaria, and, situated upon the
frontiers of Russia, had long filled the empire with terror. Ivan
immediately established a new government for the city and the
surrounding region, which was occupied by five different nations,
powerful in numbers and redoubtable in war. An army of about ten
thousand men was left to garrison the fortresses of the city. On the
11th of October the emperor prepared to return to Moscow. Many of the
lords counseled that he should remain at Kezan until spring, that the
more distant regions might be overawed by the presence of the army.
But the monarch, impatient to see his spouse and to present himself in
Moscow fresh from these fields of glory, rejected these sage counsels
and adopted the advice of those who also wished to repose beneath the
laurels they had already acquired. Passing the night of the 11th of
October on the banks of the Volga, he embarked on the morning of the
12th in a barge to ascend the stream, while the cavalry followed along
upon the banks. The emperor passed one day at Sviazk and then
proceeded to Nigni Novgorod. The whole city, men, women and children,
flocked to meet him. They could not find words strong enough to
express their gratitude for their deliverance from the terrible
incursions of the horde. They fell at their monarch's feet, bathed his
hands with their tears and implored Heaven's blessing upon him.

From Nigni Novgorod the emperor took the land route through Balakna
and Vladimir to Moscow. On the way he met a courier from the Empress
Anastasia, announcing to him that she had given birth to a son whom
she named Dmitri. The tzar, in the tumult of his joy, leaped from his
horse, passionately embraced Trakhaniot, the herald, and then falling
upon his knees with tears trickling down his cheeks, rendered thanks
to God for the gift. Not knowing how upon the spot to recompense the
herald for the blissful tidings, he took the royal cloak from his own
shoulders and spread it over Trakhaniot, and passed into his hands the
magnificent charger from which the monarch had just alighted. He spent
the night of the 28th of October in a small village but a few miles
from Moscow, all things being prepared for his triumphant entrance
into the capital the next day. With the earliest light of the morning
he advanced toward the city. The crowd, even at that early hour, was
so great that, for a distance of four miles, there was but a narrow
passage left through the dense ranks of the people for the tzar and
his guard. The emperor advanced slowly, greeted by the acclaim of more
than a million of his people. With uncovered head he bowed to the
right and to the left, while the multitude incessantly cried, "May
Heaven grant long life to our pious tzar, conqueror of barbarians and
saviour of Christians."

At the gate he was met by the metropolitan, the bishops, the lords and
the princes ranged in order of procession under the sacred banner.
Ivan IV. dismounted and addressed them in touching words of
congratulation. The response of the metropolitan was soulfull,
flooding the eyes of the monarch and exciting all who heard it to the
highest enthusiasm.

"As for us, O tzar," he said, in conclusion, "in testimony of our
gratitude for your toils and your glorious exploits, we prostrate
ourselves before you."

At these words the metropolitan, the clergy, the dignitaries and the
people fell upon their knees before their sovereign, bowing their
faces to the ground. There were sobbings and shoutings, cries of
benedictions and transports of joy. The monarch was now conducted to
the Kremlin, which had been rebuilt, and attended mass in the church
of the Assumption. He then hastened to the palace to greet his spouse.
The happy mother was in the chamber of convalescence with her
beautiful boy at her side. For once, at least, there was joy in a

The enthusiasm which reigned in the capital and throughout all Russia
was such as has never been surpassed. The people, trained to faith and
devotion, crowded the churches, which were constantly open, addressing
incessant thanksgivings to Heaven. The preachers exhausted the powers
of eloquence in describing the grandeur of the actions of their
prince--his exertions, fatigues, bravery, the stratagems of war during
the siege, the despairing ferocity of the Kezanians and the final and
glorious result.

After several days passed in the bosom, of his family, Ivan gave a
grand festival in his palace, on the 8th of November. The
metropolitan, the bishops, the abbés, the princes, and all the lords
and warriors who had distinguished themselves during the siege of
Kezan, were invited. "Never," say the annalists, "had there before
been seen at Moscow a fête so sumptuous, joy so intense, or liberality
so princely." The fête continued for three days, during which the
emperor did not cease to distribute, with a liberal hand, proofs of
his munificence. His bounty was extended from the metropolitan bishop
down to the humblest soldier distinguished for his bravery or his
wounds. The monarch, thus surrounded with glory, beloved by his
people, the conqueror of a foreign empire and the pacificator of his
own, distinguished for the nobleness of his personal character and the
grandeur of his exploits, alike wise as a legislator and humane as a
man, was still but twenty-two years of age. His career thus far
presents a phenomenon quite unparalleled in history.

As soon as Anastasia was able to leave her couch she accompanied the
tzar to the monastery of Yroitzky, where his infant son Dmitri
received the ordinance of baptism. It seems to be the doom of life
that every calm should be succeeded by a storm; that days of sunshine
should be followed by darkness and tempests. Early in the year 1553
tidings reached Moscow that the barbarians at Kezan were in bloody
insurrection. The Russian troops had been worsted in many conflicts;
very many of them were slain. The danger was imminent that the
insurrection would prove successful, and that the Russians would be
entirely exterminated from Kezan. The imprudence of the emperor, in
withdrawing before the conquest was consolidated, was now apparent to
all. To add to the consternation the monarch himself was suddenly
seized with an inflammatory fever; the progress of the malady was so
rapid that almost immediately his life was despaired of. The mind of
the tzar was unclouded, and being informed of his danger, without any
apparent agitation he called for his secretary to draw up his last
will and testament. The monarch nominated for his successor his infant
son, Dmitri. To render the act more imposing, he requested the lords,
who were assembled in an adjoining saloon, to take the oath of
allegiance to his son. Immediately the spirit of revolt was
manifested. Many of the lords dreaded the long minority of the infant
prince, and the government of the regency which would probably ensue.
The contest, loud and angry, reached the ears of the king, and he sent
for the refractory lords to approach his bedside. Ivan, burning with
fever, with hardly strength to speak, and expecting every hour to die,
turned his eyes to them reproachfully and said,

"Who then do you wish to choose for your tzar? I am too feeble to
speak long. Dmitri, though in his cradle, is none the less your
legitimate sovereign. If you are deaf to the voice of conscience you
must answer for it before God."

One of the nobles frankly responded,

"Sire, we are all devoted to you and to your son. But we fear the
regency of Yourief, who will undoubtedly govern Russia in the name of
an infant who has not yet attained his intellectual faculties. This is
the true cause of our solicitude. To how many calamities were we not
exposed during the government of the lords, before your majesty had
attained the age of reason. It is necessary to avoid the recurrence of
such woes."

The monarch was now too feeble to speak, and the nobles withdrew from
his chamber. Some took the oath to obey the will of the sovereign,
others refused, and the bitter strife extended through the city and
the kingdom. The dissentients rallied round prince Vladimir, and the
nation was threatened with civil war. The next day the tzar had
revived a little, and again assembled the lords in his chamber and
entreated them to take the oath of submission to his son and to
Anastasia, the guardian of the infant prince. Overcome by the exertion
the monarch sank into a state of lethargy, and to all seemed to be
dying. But being young, temperate and vigorous, it proved but the
crisis of the disease. He awoke from his sleep calm and decidedly
convalescent. Deeply wounded by the unexpected opposition which he had
encountered, he yet manifested no spirit of revenge, though Anastasia,
with woman's more sensitive nature, could never forget the opposition
which had been manifested towards herself and her child.

Ivan during his sickness had made a vow that, in case of recovery, he
would visit, in homage, the monastery of St. Cyrille, some thousand
miles distant beyond the waves of the Volga. It is pleasant to record
the remonstrance which Maxime, one of the clergy, made against the
fulfillment of his wishes.

"You are about," said he, "to undertake a dangerous journey with your
spouse and your infant child. Can the fulfillment of a vow which
reason disapproves, be agreeable to God? It is useless to seek in
deserts that heavenly Father who fills the universe with his presence.
If you desire to testify to Heaven the gratitude you feel, do good
upon the throne. The conquest of Kezan, an event so propitious for
Russia, has nevertheless caused the death of many Christians. The
widows, the mothers, the orphans of warriors who fell upon the field
of honor, are overwhelmed with affliction. Endeavor to comfort them
and to dry their tears by your beneficence. These are the deeds
pleasing to God and worthy of a tzar."

Nevertheless the monarch persisted in his plan, and entered upon the
long journey. He buried his child by the way, and returned overwhelmed
with grief. But he encountered a greater calamity than the death of
the young prince, in bad advice which he received from Vassian, the
aged and venerable prince of Kolumna.

"Sire," said this unwise ecclesiastic, "if you wish to become a
monarch truly absolute, ask advice of no one, and deem no one wiser
than yourself. Establish it as an irrevocable principle never to
receive the counsels of others, but, on the contrary, give counsel to
them. Command, but never obey. Then you will be a true sovereign,
terrible to the lords. Remember that the counselors of the wisest
princes always in the end dominate over them."

The subtle poison which this discourse distilled, penetrated the soul
of Ivan. He seized the hand of Vassian, pressed it to his lips, and

"My father himself could not have given me advice more salutary."

Bitterly was the prince deceived. Experience has proved that, in the
counsel of the wise and virtuous, there is safety. There was no sudden
change in the character of Ivan. He still continued for some years to
manifest the most sincere esteem for the opinions of Sylvestre and
Adachef. But the poison of bad principles was gradually diffusing
itself through his heart. A year had not passed away, ere Ivan was
consoled by the birth of another son. In the meantime he devoted
himself with ardor to measures for the restoration of tranquillity in
Kezan. A numerous army was assembled at Nigni Novgorod, with orders to
commence the campaign for the reconquest of the country as soon as the
cold of winter should bridge the lakes and streams. The Tartars had
made very vigorous efforts to repel their foes, by summoning every
fighting man to the field, and by the construction of fortresses and
throwing up of redoubts.

In November of 1553, the storm of battle was recommenced on fields of
ice, and amidst smothering tempests of snow. For more than a month
there was not a day without a conflict. In these incessant engagements
the Tartars lost ten thousand men slain and six thousand prisoners.
One thousand six hundred of the most distinguished of these prisoners,
princes, nobles and chieftains, who had been the most conspicuous in
the rebellion, were put to death. Nevertheless these severities did
not stifle the insurrection; the Tartars, in banditti bands, even
crossing the Volga, pillaging, massacring and burning with savage
cruelty. For five years the war raged in Kezan, with every
accompaniment of ferocity and misery. The country was devastated and
almost depopulated. Hardly a chief of note was left alive. The horrors
of war then ceased. The Russians took possession of the country,
filled it with their own emigrants, reared churches, established
Christianity, and spread over the community the protection of Russian
law. Most of the Kezanians who remained embraced Christianity, and
from that time Kezan, the ancient Bulgaria, has remained an integral
portion of the Russian empire.

Soon after, a new conquest, more easy, but not less glorious, was
added to that of Kezan. The city and province of Astrachan, situated
at the mouth of the Volga as it enters the Caspian, had existed from
the remotest antiquity, enjoying wealth and renown, even before the
foundation of the Russian empire. In the third century of the
Christian era, it was celebrated for its commerce, and it became one
of the favorite capitals of the all-conquering Tartars. Russia, being
now in possession of all the upper waters of the Volga, decided to
extend their dominions down the river to the Caspian. It was not
difficult to find ample causes of complaint against pagan and barbaric
hordes, whose only profession was robbery and war.

Early in the spring of 1554 a numerous and choice army descended the
Volga in bateaux to the delta on which Astrachan is built. The low
lands, intersected by the branching stream, is composed of innumerable
islands. The inhabitants of the city, abandoning the capital entirely,
took refuge among these islands, where they enjoyed great advantages
in repelling assailants. The Russians took possession of the city,
prosecuted the war vigorously through the summer, and the tzar, on the
20th of October, which was his birthday, received the gratifying
intelligence that every foe was quelled, and that the Russian
government was firmly established on the shores of the Caspian. Well
might Russia now be proud of its territorial greatness. The opening of
these new realms encouraged commerce, promoted wealth, and developed
to an extraordinary degree the resources of the empire.

England was, at that time, far beyond the bounds of the political
horizon of Russia. In fact, the Russians hardly knew that there was
such a nation. Great Britain was not, at that time, a maritime power
of the first order. Spain, Portugal, Venice and Genoa were then the
great monarchs of the ocean. England was just beginning to become the
dangerous rival of those States whom she has already so infinitely
surpassed in maritime greatness. She had then formed the project of
opening a shorter route to the Indies through the North Sea, and, in
1553, during the reign of Edward VI., had dispatched an expedition of
three vessels, under Hugh Willoughby, in search of a north-east
passage. These vessels, separated by a tempest, were unable to
reunite, and two of them were wrecked upon the icy coast of Russian
Lapland in the extreme latitude of eighty degrees north. Willoughby
and his companions perished. Some Lapland fishermen found their
remains in the winter of the year 1554. Willoughby was seated in a
cabin constructed upon the shore with his journal before him, with
which he appeared to have been occupied until the moment of his death.
The other ship, commanded by Captain Chanceller, was more fortunate.
He penetrated the White Sea, and, on the 24th of August, landed in the
Bay of Dwina at the Russian monastery of St. Nicholas, where now
stands the city of Archangel. The English informed the inhabitants,
who were astonished at the apparition of such a ship in their waters,
that they were bearers of a letter to the tzar from the King of
England, who desired to establish commercial relations with the great
and hitherto almost unknown northern empire. The commandant of the
country furnished the mariners with provisions, and immediately
dispatched a courier to Ivan at Moscow, which was some six hundred
miles south of the Bay of Dwina.

Ivan IV. wisely judged that this circumstance might prove favorable to
Russian commerce, and immediately sent a courier to invite Chanceller
to come to Moscow, at the same time making arrangements for him to
accomplish the journey with speed and comfort. Chanceller, with some
of his officers, accepted the invitation. Arriving at Moscow, the
English were struck with astonishment in view of the magnificence of
the court, the polished address and the dignified manners of the
nobles, the rich costume of the courtiers, and, particularly, with the
jeweled and golden brilliance of the throne, upon which was seated a
young monarch decorated in the most dazzling style of regal splendor,
and in whose presence all observed the most respectful silence.
Chanceller presented to Ivan IV. the letter of Edward VI. It was a
noble letter, worthy of England's monarch, and, being translated into
many languages, was addressed generally to all the sovereigns of the
East and the North. The letter was dated, "London, in the year 5517
of the creation, and of our reign the 17." The English were honorably
received, and were invited to dine with the tzar in the royal palace,
which furnished them with a new occasion of astonishment from the
sumptuousness which surrounded the sovereign. The guests, more than a
hundred in number, were served on plates of gold. The goblets were of
the same metal. The servants, one hundred and fifty in number, were
also in livery richly decorated with gold lace.

The tzar wrote to Edward that he desired to form with him an alliance
of friendship conformable to the precepts of the Christian religion
and of every wise government; that he was anxious to do any thing in
his power which should be agreeable to the King of England, and that
the English embassadors and merchants who might come to Russia should
be protected, treated as friends and should enjoy perfect security.

When Chanceller returned to England, Edward VI. was already in the
tomb, and Mary, _Bloody Mary_, the child of brutal Henry VIII., was on
the throne. The letter of Ivan IV. caused intense excitement
throughout England. Every one spoke of Russia as of a country newly
discovered, and all were eager to obtain information respecting its
history and its geography. An association of merchants was immediately
formed to open avenues of commerce with this new world. Another
expedition of two ships was fitted out, commanded by Chanceller, to
conclude a treaty of commerce with the tzar. Mary, and her husband,
Philip of Spain, who was son of the Emperor Charles V., wrote a letter
to the Russian monarch full of the most gracious expressions.

Chanceller and his companions were received with the same cordial
hospitality as before. Ivan gave them a seat at his own table, loaded
them with favors and gave to the Queen of England the title of "my
dearly beloved sister." A commission of Russian merchants was
appointed to confer with the English to form a commercial treaty. It
was decided that the principal place for the exchange of merchandise
should be at Kolmogar, on the Bay of Dwina, nearly opposite the
convent of St. Nicholas; that each party should be free to name its
own prices, but that every kind of fraud should be judged after the
criminal code of Russia. Ivan then delivered to the English a diploma,
granting them permission to traffic freely in all the cities of Russia
without molestation and without paying any tribute or tax. They were
free to establish themselves wherever they pleased to purchase houses
and shops, and to engage servants and mechanics in their employ, and
to exact from them oaths of fidelity. It was also agreed that a man
should be responsible for his own conduct only, and not for that of
his agents, and that though the sovereign might punish the criminal
with the loss of liberty and even of life, yet, under no
circumstances, should he touch his property; that should always pass
to his natural heirs.

The port of St. Nicholas, which, for ages, had been silent and
solitary in these northern waters where the English had found but a
poor and gloomy monastery, the tomb, as it were, of hooded monks, soon
became a busy place of traffic. The English constructed there a large
and beautiful mansion for the accommodation of their merchants, and
streets were formed, lined with spacious storehouses. The principal
merchandise which the English then imported into Russia consisted of
cloths and sugar. The merchants offered twelve guineas for what was
then called a half piece of cloth, and four shillings a pound for

In 1556, Chanceller embarked for England with four ships richly laden
with the gold and the produce of Russia, accompanied by Joseph Nepeia,
an embassador to the Queen of England. Fortune, which, until then, had
smiled upon this hardy mariner, now turned adverse. Tempests dispersed
his ships, and one only reached London. Chanceller himself perished in
the waves upon the coast of Scotland. The ships dashed upon the rocks,
and the Russian embassador, Nepeia, barely escaped with his life.
Arriving at London, he was overwhelmed with caresses and presents. The
most distinguished dignitaries of the State and one hundred and forty
merchants, accompanied by a great number of attendants, all richly
clad and mounted upon superb horses, rode out to meet him. They
presented to him a horse magnificently caparisoned, and thus escorted,
the first Russian embassador made his entrance into the capital of
Great Britain. The inhabitants of London crowded the streets to catch
a sight of the illustrious Russian, and thousands of voices greeted
him with the heartiest acclaim. A magnificent mansion was assigned for
his residence, which was furnished in the highest style of splendor.
He was invited to innumerable festivals, and the court were eager to
exhibit to him every thing worthy of notice in the city of London. He
was conducted to the cathedral of St. Paul, to Westminster Abbey, to
the Tower and to all the parks and palaces. The queen received Nepeia
with the most marked consideration. At one of the most gorgeous
festivals he was seated by her side, the observed of all observers.

The embassador could only regret that the rich presents of furs and
Russian fabrics which the tzar had sent by his hand to Mary, were all
engulfed upon the coast of Scotland. The queen sent to the tzar the
most beautiful fabrics of the English looms, the most exquisitely
constructed weapons of war, such as sabers, guns and pistols, and a
living lion and lioness, animals which never before had been seen
within the bounds of the Russian empire. In September, 1557, Nepeia
embarked for Russia, taking with him several English artisans, miners
and physicians. Ivan was anxious to lose no opportunity to gain from
foreign lands every thing which could contribute to Russian
civilization. The letter which Mary and Philip returned to Moscow was
flatteringly addressed to the august emperor, Ivan IV. When the tzar
learned all the honors and the testimonials of affection with which
his embassador had been greeted in London, he considered the English
as the most precious of all the friends of Russia. He ordered mansions
to be prepared for the accommodation of their merchants in all the
commercial cities of the empire, and he treated them in other respects
with such marked tokens of regard, that all the letters which they
wrote to London were filled with expressions of gratitude towards the
Russian sovereign.

In the year 1557 an English commercial fleet entered the Baltic Sea
and proceeded to the mouth of the Dwina to establish there an entrepot
of English merchandise. The commander-in-chief of the squadron visited
Moscow, where he was received with the greatest cordiality, and thence
passed down the Volga to Astrachan, that he might there establish
commercial relations with Persia. The tzar, reposing entire confidence
in the London merchants, entered into their views and promised to
grant them every facility for the transportation of English
merchandise, even to the remotest sections of the empire. This
commercial alliance with Great Britain, founded upon reciprocal
advantages, without any commingling of political jealousies, was
impressed with a certain character of magnanimity and fraternity which
greatly augmented the renown of the reign of Ivan IV., and which was a
signal proof of the sagacity of his administration. How beautiful are
the records of peace when contrasted with the hideous annals of war!

The merchants of the other nations of southern and western Europe were
not slow to profit by the discovery that the English had made. Ships
from Holland, freighted with the goods of that ingenious and
industrious people, were soon coasting along the bays of the great
empire, and penetrating her rivers, engaged in traffic which neither
Russia or England seemed disposed to disturb. While the tzar was
engaged in those objects which we have thus rapidly traced, other
questions of immense magnitude engrossed his mind. The Tartar horde in
Tauride terrified by the destruction of the horde in Kezan, were
ravaging southern Russia with continual invasions which the tzar found
it difficult to repress. Poland was also hostile, ever watching for an
opportunity to strike a deadly blow, and Sweden, under Gustavus Vasa,
was in open war with the empire.



From 1557 to 1582.

Terror of the Horde in Tauride.--War with Gustavus Vasa of
Sweden.--Political Punctilios.--The Kingdom of Livonia Annexed to
Sweden.--Death of Anastasia.--Conspiracy Against Ivan.--His
Abdication.--His Resumption of the Crown.--Invasion of Russia by the
Tartars and Turks.--Heroism of Zerebrinow.--Utter Discomfiture of the
Tartars.--Relations Between Queen Elizabeth of England, and
Russia.--Intrepid Embassage.--New War with Poland.--Disasters of
Russia.--The Emperor Kills His Own Son.--Anguish of Ivan IV.

The entire subjugation of the Tartars in Kezan terrified the horde in
Tauride, lest their turn to be overwhelmed should next come. Devlet
Ghirei, the khan of this horde, was a man of great ability and
ferocity. Ivan IV. was urged by his counselors immediately to advance
to the conquest of the Crimea. The achievement could then doubtless
have been easily accomplished. But it was a journey of nearly a
thousand miles from Moscow to Tauride. The route was very imperfectly
known; much of the intervening region was an inhospitable wilderness.
The Sultan of Turkey was the sovereign master of the horde, and Ivan
feared that all the terrible energies of Turkey would be roused
against him. There was, moreover, another enemy nearer at home whom
Ivan had greater cause to fear. Gustavus Vasa, the King of Sweden,
had, for some time, contemplated with alarm the rapidly increasing
power of Russia. He accordingly formed a coalition with the Kings of
Poland and Livonia, and with the powerful Dukes of Prussia and of
Denmark, for those two States were then but dukedoms, to oppose the
ambition of the tzar. An occasion for hostilities was found in a
dispute, respecting the boundaries between Russia and Sweden. The
terrible tragedy of war was inducted by a prologue of burning
villages, trampled harvests and massacred peasants, upon the
frontiers. Sieges, bombardments and fierce battles ensued, with the
alternations of success. From one triumphal march of invasion into
Sweden, the Russians returned so laden with prisoners, that, as their
annalists record, a man was sold for one dollar, and a girl for five

At length, as usual, both parties became weary of toil and blood, and
were anxious for a respite. Gustavus proposed terms of reconciliation.
Ivan IV. accepted the overtures, though he returned a reproachful and
indignant answer.

"Your people," he wrote, "have exhausted their ferocity upon our
territories. Not only have they burned our cities and massacred our
subjects, but they have even profaned our churches, purloined our
images and destroyed our bells. The inhabitants of Novgorod implored
the aid of our grand army. My soldiers burned with impatience to carry
the war to Stockholm, but I restrained them; so anxious was I to avoid
the effusion of human blood. All the misery resulting from this war,
is to be attributed to your pride. Admitting that you were ignorant of
the grandeur of Novgorod, you might have learned the facts from your
own merchants. They could have told you, that even the suburbs of
Novgorod are superior to the whole of your capital of Stockholm. Lay
aside this pride, and give up your quarrelsome disposition. We are
willing to live in peace with you."

Sweden was not in a condition to resent this rebuke. In February,
1557, the embassadors of Gustavus, consisting of four of the most
illustrious men in the empire, clergy and nobles, accompanied by a
brilliant suite, arrived in Moscow. They were not received as friends,
but as distinguished prisoners, who were to be treated with
consideration, and whose wants were to be abundantly supplied. The
tzar refused to have any direct intercourse with them, and would only
treat through the dignitaries of his court. A truce was concluded for
forty years. The tzar, to impress the embassadors with his wealth and
grandeur, entertained them sumptuously, and they were served from
vessels of gold.

Though peace was thus made with Sweden, a foolish quarrel, for some
time, prevented the conclusion of a treaty with Poland. Ivan IV.
demanded, that Augustus, _King_ of Poland, should recognize him as
_Emperor_ of Russia. Augustus replied, that there were but two
emperors in the world, the Emperor of Germany and the Sultan of
Turkey. Ivan sent, through his embassadors, to Augustus; the letters
of Pope Clement, of the Emperor Maximilian, of the Sultan, of the
Kings of Spain, Sweden and Denmark, and the recent dispatch of the
King of England, all of whom recognized his title of tzar, or emperor.
Still, the Polish king would not allow Ivan a title, which seemed to
place the Russian throne on an eminence above that of Poland.
Unfriendly relations consequently continued, with jealousies and
border strifes, though there was no vigorous outbreak of war.

Ivan IV. now succeeded in attaching Livonia to the great and growing
empire. It came in first as tributary, purchasing, by an annual
contribution, peace with Russia and protection. Though there were many
subsequent conflicts with Livonia, the territory subsequently became
an integral portion of the empire. Russia had now become so great,
that her growth was yearly manifest as surrounding regions were
absorbed by her superior civilization and her armies. The
unenlightened States which surrounded her, were ever provoking
hostilities, invasion, and becoming absorbed. In the year 1558, the
Tartars of Tauride, having assembled an army of one hundred thousand
horsemen, a combination of Tartars and Turks, suddenly entered Russia,
and sweeping resistlessly on, a war tempest of utter desolation,
reached within two hundred miles of Moscow. There they learned that
Ivan himself, with an army more numerous than their own, was on the
march to meet them. Turning, they retreated more rapidly than they
advanced. Notwithstanding their retreat, Ivan resolved to pursue them
to their own haunts. A large number of bateaux was constructed and
launched upon the Don and also upon the Dnieper. The army, in these
two divisions, descended these streams, one to the Sea of Azof, the
other to the mouth of the Dnieper. Thence invading Tauride, both by
the east and the west, they drove the terrified inhabitants, taken
entirely by surprise, like sheep before them. The tents of these
nomads they committed to the flames. Their flocks and herds were
seized, with a great amount of booty, and many Russian captives were
liberated. The Tartars fled to fastnesses whence they could not be
pursued. Some Turks being taken with the horde, Ivan sent them with
rich presents to the sultan, stating that he did not make war against
Turkey, only against the robbers of Tauride. The Russian troops
returned from this triumphant expedition, by ascending the waters of
the Dnieper. All Russia was filled with rejoicing, while the churches
resounded with "Te Deums."

And now domestic griefs came to darken the palace of Ivan. For
thirteen years he had enjoyed all the happiness which conjugal love
can confer. Anastasia was still in the brilliance of youth and beauty,
when she was attacked by dangerous sickness. As she was lying upon her
couch, helpless and burning with fever, the cry of fire was heard. The
day was excessively hot; the windows of the palace all open, and a
drouth of several weeks made every thing dry as tinder. The
conflagration commenced in an adjoining street, and, in a moment,
volumes of flame and smoke were swept by the wind, enveloping the
Kremlin, and showering upon it and into it, innumerable flakes of
fire. The queen was thrown into a paroxysm of terror; the attendants
hastily placed her upon a litter and bore her, almost suffocated,
through the blazing streets out of the city, to the village of
Kolomensk. The emperor then returned to assist in arresting the
conflagration. He exposed himself like a common laborer, inspiring
others with intrepidity by mounting ladders, carrying water and
opposing the flames in the most dangerous positions. The conflagration
proved awful in its ravages, many of the inhabitants perishing in the

This calamitous event was more than the feeble frame of Anastasia
could endure. She rapidly failed, and on the 7th of August, 1560, she
expired. The grief of Ivan was heartrending, and never was national
affliction manifested in a more sincere and touching manner. Not only
the whole court, but almost the entire city of Moscow, followed the
remains of Anastasia to their interment. Many, in the bitterness of
their grief, sobbed aloud. The most inconsolable were the poor and
friendless, calling Anastasia by the name of mother. The anguish of
Ivan for a time quite unmanned him, and he wept like a child. The loss
of Anastasia did indeed prove to Ivan the greatest of earthly
calamities. She had been his guardian angel, his guide to virtue.
Having lost his guide, he fell into many errors from which Anastasia
would have preserved him.

In the course of a few months, either the tears of Ivan were dried up,
or political considerations seemed to render it necessary for him to
seek another wife. Notwithstanding the long hereditary hostility which
had existed between Russia and Poland, perhaps _in consequence of it_,
Ivan made proposals for a Polish princess, Catharine, sister of
Sigismond Augustus, the king. The Poles demanded, as an essential item
in the marriage contract, that the children of Catharine should take
the precedence of those of Anastasia as heirs to the throne. This
iniquitous demand the tzar rejected with the scorn it merited. The
revenge in which the Poles indulged was characteristic of the rudeness
of the times. The court of Augustus sent a white mare, beautifully
caparisoned, to Ivan, with the message, that such a wife he would find
to be in accordance with his character and wants. The outrageous
insult incensed Ivan to the highest degree, and he vowed that the
Poles should feel the weight of his displeasure. Catharine, in the
meantime, was married to the Duke of Finland, who was brother to the
King of Sweden, and whose sister was married to the King of Denmark.
Thus the three kingdoms of Poland, Sweden and Denmark, and the Duchy
of Finland were strongly allied by matrimonial ties, and were ready to
combine against the Russian emperor.

Ivan IV. nursed his vengeance, waiting for an opportunity to strike a
blow which should be felt. Elizabeth was now Queen of England, and her
embassador at the court of Russia was in high favor with the emperor.
Probably through his influence Ivan showed great favor to the Lutheran
clergy, who were gradually gaining followers in the empire. He
frequently admitted them to court, and even listened to their
arguments in favor of the reformed religion. The higher clergy and the
lords were much incensed by this liberality, which, in their view,
endangered the ancient usages, both civil and religious, of the realm,
and a very formidable conspiracy was organized against the tzar.

Ivan IV. was apprised of the conspiracy, and, with singular boldness
and magnanimity, immediately assembled his leading nobles and higher
clergy in the great audience-chamber of the Kremlin. He presented
himself before them in the glittering robes and with all the insignia
of royalty. Divesting himself of them all, he said to his astonished

"You have deemed me unworthy any longer to occupy the throne. I here
and now give in my abdication, and request you to nominate some person
whom you may consider worthy to be your sovereign."

Without permitting any reply he dismissed them, and the next day
convened all the clergy of Moscow in the church of St. Mary. A high
mass was celebrated by the metropolitan, in which the monarch
assisted, and he then took an affecting leave of them all, in a
solemn renunciation of all claims to the crown. Accompanied by his two
sons, he retired to the strong yet secluded castle of Caloujintz,
situated about five miles from Moscow. Here he remained several days,
waiting, it is generally supposed, for a delegation to call, imploring
him again to resume the crown. In this expectation he was not
disappointed. The lords were unprepared for such decisive action. In
their councils there was nothing but confusion. Anarchy was rapidly
commencing its reign, which would be followed inevitably by civil war.
The partisans of the emperor in the provinces were very numerous, and
could be rallied by a word from him; and no one imagined that the
emperor had any idea of retiring so peacefully. It was not doubted
that he would soon appear at the head of an army, and punish
relentlessly the disaffected, who would all then be revealed. The
citizens, the nobles and the clergy met together and appointed a
numerous deputation to call upon the emperor and implore him again to
resume the reins of power.

"Your faithful subjects, sire," exclaimed the petitioners, "are deeply
afflicted. The State is exposed to fearful peril from dissension
within and enemies without. We do therefore most earnestly entreat
your majesty, as a faithful shepherd, still to watch over his flock;
we do entreat you to return to your throne, to continue your favor to
the deserving, and not to forsake your faithful subjects in
consequence of the errors of a few."

Ivan listened with much apparent indifference to this pathetic
address, and either really felt, or affected, great reluctance again
to resume the cares of royalty. He requested a day's time to consider
their proposal. The next morning the nobles were again convened, and
Ivan acquainted them with his decision. Rebuking them with severity
for their ingratitude, reproaching them with the danger to which his
life had been exposed through their conspiracy, he declared that he
could not again assume the cares and the perils of the crown. Still
his refusal was not so decisive as to exclude all room for further
entreaties. They renewed their supplications with tears, for Russia
was, indeed, exposed to all the horrors of civil war, should Ivan
persist in his resolve, and it was certain that the empire, thus
distracted, would at once be invaded by both Poles and Turks.

Thus importuned, Ivan at last consented to return to the Kremlin. He
resolved, however, to make an example of those who had conspired
against him, which should warn loudly against the renewal of similar
attempts. The principal movers in the plot were executed. Ivan then
surrounded himself with a body guard of two hundred men carefully
selected from the distant provinces, and who were in no way under the
influence of any of the lords. This body guard, composed of low-born,
uneducated men, incapable of being roused to any high enthusiasm,
subsequently proved quite a nuisance.

Ivan IV. had but just resumed his seat upon the throne when couriers
from the southern provinces brought the alarming intelligence that an
immense army of combined Tartars and Turks had invaded the empire and
were on the rapid march, burning and destroying all before them.
Selim, the son and successor of Solyman the Magnificent, entered into
an alliance with several oriental princes, who were to send him
succors by the way of the Caspian Sea, and raised an army of three
hundred thousand men. These troops were embarked at Constantinople,
and, crossing the Black Sea and the Sea of Azof, entered Tauride. Here
they were joined by a reinforcement of Crimean Tartars, consisting of
forty thousand well-armed and veteran fighters. With this force the
sultan marched directly across the country to the Russian city and
province of Astrachan, at the mouth of the Volga.

But a heroic man, Zerebrinow, was in command of the fortresses in this
remote province of the Russian empire. He immediately assembled all
his available troops, and, advancing to meet the foe, selected his
own ground for the battle in a narrow defile where the vast masses of
the enemy would only encumber each other. Falling upon the invaders
unexpectedly from ambuscades, he routed the Turks with great carnage.
They were compelled to retreat, having lost nearly all their baggage
and heavy artillery. The triumphant Russians pursued them all the way
back to the city of Azof, cannonading them with the artillery and the
ammunition they had wrested from their foes. Here the Turks attempted
to make a final stand, but a chance shot from one of the guns
penetrated the immense powder magazine, and an explosion so terrific
ensued that two thirds of the city were entirely demolished.

The Turks, in consternation, now made a rush for their ships. But
Zerebrinow, with coolness and sagacity which no horrors could disturb,
had already planted his batteries to sweep them with a storm of
bullets and balls. The cannonade was instantly commenced. The missiles
of death fell like hail stones into the crowded boats and upon the
crowded decks. Many of the ships were sunk, others disabled, and but a
few, torn and riddled, succeeded in escaping to sea, where the most of
them also perished beneath the waves of the stormy Euxine. Such was
the utter desolation of this one brief war tempest which lasted but a
few weeks.

Queen Elizabeth, anxious to maintain friendly relations with an empire
so vast, and opening before her subjects such a field of profitable
commerce, having been informed of the conspiracy against Ivan IV., of
his abdication, and of his resumption of the crown, sent to him an
embassador with expressions of her kindest wishes, and assured him
that should he ever be reduced to the disagreeable necessity of
leaving his empire, he would find a safe retreat in England, where he
would be received and provided for in a manner suitable to his
dignity, where he could enjoy the free exercise of his religion and be
permitted to depart whenever he should wish.

The tolerant spirit manifested by Ivan IV. towards the Lutherans,
continued to disturb the ecclesiastics; and the clergy and nobles of
the province of Novgorod, headed by the archbishop, formed a plot of
dissevering Novgorod from the empire, and attaching it to the kingdom
of Poland. This conspiracy assumed a very formidable attitude, and one
of the brothers of the tzar was involved in it. Ivan immediately sent
an army of fifteen thousand men to quell the revolt. We have no
account of this transaction but from the pens of those who were
envenomed by their animosity to the religious toleration of Ivan. We
must consequently receive their narratives with some allowance.

The army, according to their account, ravaged the whole province; took
the city by storm; and cut down in indiscriminate slaughter
twenty-five thousand men, women and children. The brother of Ivan IV.
was seized and thrown into prison, where he miserably perished. The
archbishop was stripped of his canonical robes, clad in the dress of a
harlequin, paraded through the streets on a gray mare, an object of
derision to the people, and then was imprisoned for life. Such cruelty
does not seem at all in accordance with the character of Ivan, while
the grossest exaggeration is in accordance with the character of all
civil and religious partisans.

War with Poland seems to have been the chronic state of Russia.
Whenever either party could get a chance to strike the other a blow,
the blow was sure to be given; and they were alike unscrupulous
whether it were a saber blow in the face or a dagger thrust in the
back. In the year 1571, a Russian army pursued a discomfited band of
Livonian insurgents across the frontier into Poland. The Poles eagerly
joined the insurgents, and sent envoys to invite the Crimean Tartars
to invade Russia from Tauride, while Poland and Livonia should assail
the empire from the west. The Tartars were always ready for war at a
moment's notice. Seventy thousand men were immediately on the march.
They rapidly traversed the southern provinces, trampling down all
opposition until they reached the Oka. Here they encountered a few
Russian troops who attempted to dispute the passage of the stream.
They were, however, speedily overpowered by the Tartars and were
compelled to retreat. Pressing on, they arrived within sixty miles of
the city, when they found the Russians again concentered, but now in
large numbers, to oppose their progress. A fierce battle was fought.
Again the Russians were overpowered, and the Tartars, trampling them
beneath their horses' hoofs, with yells of triumph, pressed on towards
the metropolis. The whole city was in consternation, for it had no
means of effectual resistance. Ivan IV. in his terror packed up his
most valuable effects, and, with the royal family, fled to a strong
fortress far away in the North.

From the battlements of the city, the banners of these terrible
barbarians were soon seen on the approach. With bugle blasts and
savage shouts they rushed in at the gates, swept the streets with
their sabers, pillaged houses and churches, and set the city on fire
in all directions. The city was at that time, according to the
testimony of the cotemporary annalists, forty miles in circumference.
The weltering flames rose and fell as in the crater of a volcano, and
in six hours the city was in ashes. Thousands perished in the flames.
The fire, communicating with a powder magazine, produced an explosion
which uphove the buildings like an earthquake, and prostrated more
than a third of a mile of the city walls. According to the most
reliable testimony, there perished in Moscow, by fire and sword, from
this one raid of the Tartars, more than one hundred and fifty thousand
of its inhabitants.

The Tartars, tottering beneath the burden of their spoil, and dragging
after them many thousand prisoners of distinction, slowly, proudly,
defiantly retired. With barbaric genius they sent to the tzar a naked
cimiter, accompanied by the following message:

"This is a token left to your majesty by an enemy, whose revenge is
still unsatiated, and who will soon return again to complete the work
which he has but just begun."

Such is war. It is but a succession of miseries. A hundred and fifty
thousand Tartars perished but a few months before in the waves of the
Euxine. Now, a hundred and fifty thousand Russians perish, in their
turn, amidst the flames of Moscow. When we contemplate the wars which
have incessantly ravaged this globe, the history of man seems to be
but the record of the strifes of demons, with occasional gleams of
angel magnanimity.

After the retreat of the Tartars, Ivan IV. convened a council of war,
punished with death those officers who had fled before the enemy as he
himself had done; and, rendered pliant by accumulated misfortune, he
presented such overtures to the King of Poland as to obtain the
promise of a truce for three years. Soon after this, Sigismond, King
of Poland, died. The crown was elective, and the nobles, who met to
choose a new monarch, by a considerable majority invited Maximilian
II., Emperor of Germany, to assume the scepter. They assigned as a
reason for this choice, which surprised Europe, the religious
liberality of the emperor, who, as they justly remarked, had
conciliated the contending factions of the Christian world, and had
acquired more glory by his pacific policy than other princes had
acquired in the exploits of war.

A minority of the nobles were displeased with this choice, and
refusing to accede to the vote of the majority, proceeded to another
election, and chose Stephen Bathori, a warrior chief of Transylvania,
as their sovereign.[9] The two parties now rallied around their rival
candidates and prepared for war. Ivan IV. could not allow so favorable
an opportunity to interfere in the politics of Poland to escape him.
He immediately sent embassadors to Maximilian, offering to assist him
with all the power of the Russian armies against Stephen Bathori.
Maximilian gratefully acknowledged the generosity of the tzar, and
promised to return the favor whenever an opportunity should be
presented. At the same time, Stephen Bathori, who had already been
crowned King of Poland, sent an embassador to Moscow to inform Ivan of
his election and coronation, and to propose friendly relations with
Russia. Ivan answered frankly that a treaty already existed between
him and the Emperor Maximilian, but that, since he wished to live on
friendly terms with Poland, whoever her monarch might be, he would
send embassadors to examine into the claims of the rival candidates
for the crown. Thus adroitly he endeavored to obtain for himself the
position of umpire between Maximilian and Stephen Bathori. The death
of the Emperor Maximilian on the 12th of October, 1576, settled this
strife, and Stephen attained the undisputed sovereignty of Poland.

[Footnote 9: See Empire of Austria, page 181.]

Almost the first measure of the new sovereign, in accordance with
hereditary usage, was war against Russia. His object was to regain
those territories which the tzar had heretofore wrested from the
Poles. Apparently trivial incidents reveal the rude and fierce
character of the times. Stephen chivalrously sent first an embassador,
Basil Lapotinsky, to the court of Ivan, to demand the restitution of
the provinces. Lapotinsky was accompanied by a numerous train of
nobles, magnificently mounted and armed to the teeth. As the
glittering cavalcade, protected by its flag of truce, swept along
through the cities of Russia towards Moscow, and it became known that
they were the bearers of an imperious message, demanding the surrender
of portions of the Russian empire, the populace were with difficulty
restrained from falling upon them.

Through a thousand dangers they reached Moscow. When there, Lapotinsky
declared that he came not as a suppliant, but to present a claim which
his master was prepared to enforce, if necessary, with the sword, and
that, in accordance with the character of his mission, he was
directed, in his audience with Ivan, to present the letter with one
hand while he held his unsheathed saber in the other. The officers of
the imperial household assured him that such bravado would inevitably
cost him his life.

"The tzar," Lapotinsky replied, "can easily take my life, and he may
do so if he please, but nothing shall prevent me from performing the
duty with which I am intrusted, with the utmost exactitude."

The audience day arrived. Lapotinsky was conducted to the Kremlin. The
tzar, in his imperial robes glittering with diamonds and pearls,
received him in a magnificent hall. The haughty embassador, with great
dignity and in respectful terms, yet bold and decisive, demanded
reparation for the injuries which Russia had inflicted upon Poland.
His gleaming saber was carelessly held in one hand and the letter to
the tzar, from the King of Poland, in the other. Having finished his
brief speech, he received a cimeter from one of his suite, and,
advancing firmly, yet very respectfully, to the monarch, presented
them both, saying,

"Here is peace and here is war. It is for your majesty to choose
between them."

Ivan IV. was capable of appreciating the nobility of such a character.
The intrepidity of the embassador, which was defiled with no
comminglings of insolence, excited his admiration. The emperor, with a
smile, took the letter, which was written on parchment in the Russian
language and sealed with a seal of gold. Slowly and carefully he read
it, and then addressing the embassador, said,

"Such menaces will not induce Russia to surrender her dominions to
Poland. We, who have vanquished the Poles on so many fields of battle,
who have conquered the Tartars of Kezan and Astrachan, and who have
triumphed over the forces of the Ottoman empire, will soon cause the
King of Poland to repent his rashness."

He then dismissed the embassador, ordering him to be treated with the
respect due his high station. War being thus formally declared, both
parties prepared to prosecute it with the utmost vigor. The tzar
immediately commenced raising a large army, reinforced his garrisons,
and sent a secret envoy to Tauride, to excite the Crimean Tartars to
invade Poland on the south-east while Russia should make an assault
from the north.

The Poles opened the campaign by crossing the frontiers with a large
army, seizing several minor cities and laying siege to the important
fortress of Polotzk. After a long siege, which constituted one of
those terrific tragedies of blood and woe with which the pages of
history are filled, but which no pen can describe and no imagination
can conceive, the city, a pile of gory and smouldering ruins, fell
into the hands of the Poles. Battle after battle, siege after siege
ensued, in nearly all of which the Poles were successful. They were
guided by their monarch in person, a veteran warrior, who possessed
extraordinary military skill. The blasts of winter drove both parties
from the field. But, in the earliest spring, the campaign was opened
again with redoubled energy. Again the Poles, who had obtained strong
reinforcements of troops from Germany and Hungary, were signally
successful. Though the fighting was constant and arduous, the whole
campaign was but a series of conquests on the part of Stephen, and
when the snows of another winter whitened the fields, the Polish
banners were waving over large portions of the Russian territory. The
details of these scenes are revolting. Fire, blood and the brutal
passions of demoniac men were combined in deeds of horror, the recital
of which makes the ears to tingle.

Before the buds of another spring had opened into leaf, the contending
armies were again upon the march. Poland had now succeeded in
enlisting Sweden in her cause, and Russia began to be quite seriously
imperiled. Riga, on the Dwina, soon fell into the hands of the Poles,
and their banners were resistlessly on the advance. Ivan IV., much
dejected, proposed terms of peace. Stephen refused to treat unless
Russia would surrender the whole of Livonia, a province nearly three
times as large as the State of Massachusetts, to Poland. The tzar was
compelled essentially to yield to these hard terms.

The treaty of peace was signed on the 15th of January, 1582. Ivan IV.
surrendered to Poland all of Livonia which bordered on Poland, which
contained thirty-four towns and castles, together with several other
important fortresses on the frontiers. A truce was concluded for ten
years, should both parties live so long. But should either die, the
survivor was at liberty immediately to attack the territory of the
deceased. No mention whatever was made of Sweden in this treaty. This
neglect gave such offense to the Swedish court, that, in petty
revenge, they sent an _Italian cook_ to the Polish court as an
embassador with the most arrogant demands. Stephen very wisely treated
the insult, which he probably deserved, with contempt.

The result of this war, so humiliating to Russia, rendered Ivan very
unpopular. Murmurs loud and deep were heard all over the empire. Many
of the nobles threw themselves at the feet of the tzar and entreated
him not to assent to so disgraceful a treaty, assuring him that the
whole nation were ready at his call to rise and drive the invaders
from the empire. Ivan was greatly incensed, and petulantly replied
that if they were not satisfied with his administration they had
better choose another sovereign. Suspecting that his son was inciting
this movement, and that he perhaps was aiming at the crown, Ivan
assailed him in the bitterest terms of reproach. The young prince
replied in a manner which so exasperated his father, that he struck
him with a staff which he had in his hand. The staff was tipped with
an iron ferule which unfortunately hit the young man on the temple,
and he fell senseless at his father's feet.

The anguish of Ivan was unspeakable. His paroxysm of anger instantly
gave place to a more intense paroxysm of grief and remorse. He threw
himself upon the body of his son, pressed him fervently to his heart,
and addressed him in the most endearing terms of affection and
affliction. The prince so far revived as to be able to exchange a few
words with his father, but in four days he died. The blow which
deprived the son of life, for ever after deprived the father of peace.
He was seldom again seen to smile. Any mention of his son would ever
throw him into a paroxysm of tears. For a long time he could with
difficulty be persuaded to take any nourishment or to change his
dress. With the utmost possible demonstrations of grief and respect
the remains of the prince were conveyed to the grave. The death of
this young man was a calamity to Russia. He was the worthy son of
Anastasia, and from his mother he had inherited both genius and moral
worth. By a subsequent marriage Ivan had two other sons, Feodor and
Dmitri. But they were of different blood; feeble in intellect and
possessed no requisites for the exalted station opening before them.



From 1582 to 1608.

Anguish and Death of Ivan IV.--His Character.--Feodor and
Dmitri.--Usurpation of Boris Gudenow.--The Polish Election.--Conquest
of Siberia.--Assassination of Dmitri.--Death of Feodor.--Boris Crowned
King.--Conspiracies.--Reappearance of Dmitri.--Boris Poisoned.--The
Pretender Crowned.--Embarrassments of Dmitri.--A New
Pretender.--Assassination of Dmitri.--Crowning of Zuski.--Indignation
of Poland.--Historical Romance.

The hasty blow which deprived the son of Ivan of life was also fatal
to the father. He never recovered from the effects. After a few months
of anguish and remorse, Ivan IV. sank sorrowing to the grave.
Penitent, prayerful and assured that his sins were forgiven, he met
death with perfect composure. The last days of his life were devoted
exclusively to such preparations for his departure that the welfare of
his people might be undisturbed. He ordered a general act of amnesty
to be proclaimed to all the prisoners throughout all the empire,
abolished several onerous taxes, restored several confiscated estates
to their original owners, and urged his son, Feodor, who was to be his
successor, to make every possible endeavor to live at peace with his
neighbors, that Russia might thus be saved from the woes of war.
Exhausted by a long interview with his son, he took a bath; on coming
out he reclined upon a couch, and suddenly, without a struggle or a
groan, was dead.

Ivan IV. has ever been regarded as one of the most illustrious of the
Russian monarchs. He was eminently a learned prince for the times in
which he lived, entertaining uncommonly just views both of religion
and politics. In religion he was tolerant far above his age, allowing
no Christians to be persecuted for their belief. We regret that this
high praise must be limited by his treatment of the Jews, whom he
could not endure. With conscientiousness, unenlightened and bigoted,
he declared that those who had betrayed and crucified the Saviour of
the world ought not to be tolerated by any Christian prince. He
accordingly ordered every Jew either to be baptized into the Christian
faith or to depart from the empire.

Ivan was naturally of a very hasty temper, which was nurtured by the
cruel and shameful neglect of his early years. Though he struggled
against this infirmity, it would occasionally break out in paroxysms
which caused bitter repentance. The death of his son, caused by one of
these outbreaks, was the great woe of his life. Still he was
distinguished for his love of justice. At stated times the aggrieved
of every rank were admitted to his presence, where they in person
presented their petitions. If any minister or governor was found
guilty of oppression, he was sure to meet with condign punishment.
This impartiality, from which no noble was exempted, at times
exasperated greatly the haughty aristocracy. He was also inflexible in
his determination to confer office only upon those who were worthy of
the trust. No solicitations or views of self-interest could induce him
to swerve from this resolve. Intemperance he especially abominated,
and frowned upon the degrading vice alike in prince or peasant. He
conferred an inestimable favor upon Russia by causing a compilation,
for the use of his subjects, of a body of laws, which was called "The
Book of Justice." This code was presented to the judges, and was
regarded as authority in all law proceedings.

The historians of those days record that his memory was so remarkable
that he could call all the officers of his army by name, and could
even remember the name of every prisoner he had taken, numbering many
thousands. In those days of dim enlightenment, when the masses were
little elevated above the animal, the popular mind was more easily
impressed by material than intellectual grandeur. It was then deemed
necessary, among the unenlightened nations of Europe, to overawe the
multitude by the splendor of the throne--by scepters, robes and
diadems glittering with priceless jewels and with gold. The crown
regalia of Russia were inestimably rich. The robe of the monarch was
of purple, embroidered with precious stones, and even his shoes
sparkled with diamonds of dazzling luster.

When he sat upon his throne to receive foreign embassadors, or the
members of his own court, he held in his right hand a globe, the
emblem of universal monarchy, enriched with all the jeweled splendor
which art could entwine around it. In his left hand he held a scepter,
which also dazzled the eye by its superb embellishments. His fingers
were laden with the most precious gems the Indies could afford.
Whenever he appeared in public, the arms of the empire, finely
embroidered upon a spread eagle, and magnificently adorned, were borne
as a banner before him; and the masses of the people bowed before
their monarch, thus arrayed, as though he were a god.

Ivan IV. left two sons, Feodor and Dmitri. Feodor, who succeeded his
father, was twenty years of age, weak, characterless, though quite
amiable. In his early youth his chief pleasure seemed to consist in
ringing the bells of Moscow, which led his father, at one time, to say
that he was fitter to be the son of a sexton than of a prince. Dmitri
was an infant. He was placed, by his father's will, under the tutelage
of an energetic, ambitious noble, by the name of Bogdan Bielski. This
aspiring nobleman, conscious of the incapacity of Feodor to govern,
laid his plans to obtain the throne for himself.

Feodor was crowned immediately after the death of his father, and
proceeded at once to carry out the provisions of his will by
liberating the prisoners, abolishing the taxes and restoring
confiscated estates. He also abolished the body guard of the tzar,
which had become peculiarly obnoxious to the nation. These measures
rendered him, for a time, very popular. This popularity thwarted
Bielski in the plan of organizing the people and the nobles in a
conspiracy against the young monarch, and the nobles even became so
much alarmed by the proceedings of the haughty minister, who was so
evidently aiming at the usurpation of the throne, that they besieged
him in his castle. The fortress was strong, and the powerful feudal
lord, rallying his vassals around him, made a valiant and a protracted
defense. At length, finding that he would be compelled to surrender,
he attempted to escape in disguise. Being taken a captive, he was
offered his choice, death, or the renunciation of all political
influence and departure into exile. He chose the latter, and retired
beyond the Volga to one of the most remote provinces of Kezan.

Feodor had married the daughter of one of the most illustrious of his
nobles. His father-in-law, a man of peculiar address and capacity,
with ability both to conceive and execute the greatest undertakings,
soon attained supremacy over the mind of the feeble monarch. The name
of this noble, who became renowned in Russian annals, was Boris
Gudenow. He had the rare faculty of winning the favor of all whom he
approached. With rapid strides he attained the posts of prime
minister, commander-in-chief and co-regent of the empire. A Polish
embassador at this time visited Moscow, and, witnessing the extreme
feebleness of Feodor, sent word to his ambitious master, Stephen
Bathori, that nothing would be easier than to invade Russia
successfully; that Smolensk could easily be taken, and that thence the
Polish army might find an almost unobstructed march to Moscow. But
death soon removed the Polish monarch from the labyrinths of war and

Boris was now virtually the monarch of Russia, reigning, however, in
the name of Feodor. We have before mentioned that Poland was an
elective monarchy. Immediately upon the death of a sovereign, the
nobles, with their bands of retainers, often eighty thousand in
number, met upon a large plain, where they spent many days in
intrigues and finally in the election of a new chieftain. Boris
Gudenow now roused all his energies in the endeavor to unite Poland
and Russia under one monarchy by the election of Feodor as sovereign
of the latter kingdom. The Polish nobles, proud and self-confident,
and apprised of the incapacity of Feodor, were many of them in favor
of the plan, as Boris had adroitly intimated to them that they might
regard the measure rather as the annexing Russia to Poland than Poland
to Russia. All that Boris cared for was the fact accomplished. He was
willing that the agents of his schemes should be influenced by any
motives which might be most efficacious.

The Polish diet met in a stormy session, and finally, a majority of
its members, instead of voting for Feodor, elected Prince Sigismond, a
son of John, King of Sweden. This election greatly alarmed Russia, as
it allied Poland and Sweden by the most intimate ties, and might
eventually place the crown of both of those powerful kingdoms upon the
same brow. These apprehensions were increased by the fact that the
Crimean Tartars soon again began to make hostile demonstrations, and
it was feared that they were moving only in accordance with
suggestions which had been sent to them from Poland and Sweden, and
that thus a triple alliance was about to desolate the empire. The
Tartars commenced their march. But Boris met them with such energy
that they were driven back in utter discomfiture.

The northern portion of Asia consisted of a vast, desolate,
thinly-peopled country called Siberia. It was bounded by the Caucasian
and Altai mountains on the south, the Ural mountains on the west, the
Pacific Ocean on the east, and the Frozen Ocean on the north. Most of
the region was within the limits of the frozen zone, and the most
southern sections were cold and inhospitable, enjoying but a gleam of
summer sunshine. This country, embracing over four millions of square
miles, being thus larger than the whole of Europe, contained but about
two millions of inhabitants. It was watered by some of the most
majestic rivers on the globe, the Oby, Enisei and the Lena. The
population consisted mostly of wandering Mohammedan Tartars, in a very
low state of civilization. At that time there were but two important
towns in this region, Tura and Tobolsk. Some of the barbarians of this
region descended to the shores of the Volga, in a desolating,
predatory excursion. A Russian army drove them back, pursued them to
their homes, took both of these towns, erected fortresses, and
gradually brought the whole of Siberia under Russian sway. This great
conquest was achieved almost without bloodshed.

Boris Gudenow now exercised all the functions of sovereign authority.
His energy had enriched Russia with the accession of Siberia. He now
resolved to lay aside the feeble prince Feodor, who nominally occupied
the throne, and to place the crown upon his own brow. It seemed to him
an easy thing to appropriate the emblems of power, since he already
enjoyed all the prerogatives of royalty. Under the pretense of
rewarding, with important posts of trust, the most efficient of the
nobles, he removed all those whose influence he had most to dread, to
distant provinces and foreign embassies. He then endeavored, by many
favors, to win the affections of the populace of Moscow.

The young prince Dmitri had now attained his ninth year, and was
residing, under the care of his tutors, at the city of Uglitz, about
two hundred miles from Moscow. Uglitz, with its dependencies, had been
assigned to him for his appanage. Gudenow deemed it essential, to his
secure occupancy of the throne, that this young prince should be put
out of the way. He accordingly employed a Russian officer, by the
promise of immense rewards, to assassinate the child. And then, the
deed having been performed, to prevent the possibility of his agency
in it being divulged, he caused another low-born murderer to track the
path of the officer and plunge a dagger into his bosom. Both murders
were successfully accomplished.

The news of the assassination of the young prince soon reached Moscow,
and caused intense excitement. Gudenow was by many suspected, though
he endeavored to stifle the report by clamorous expressions of horror
and indignation, and by apparently making the most strenuous efforts
to discover the murderers. As an expression of his rage, he sent
troops to demolish the fortress of Uglitz, and to drive the
inhabitants from the city, because they had, as he asserted, harbored
the assassins. Soon after this Feodor was suddenly taken ill. He
lingered upon his bed for a few days in great pain, and then died.
When the king was lying upon this dying bed, Boris Gudenow, who, it
will be recollected, was the father of the wife of Feodor, succeeded
in obtaining from him a sort of bequest of the throne, and immediately
upon the death of the king, he assumed the state of royalty as a duty
enjoined upon him by this bequest. The death of Feodor terminated the
reign of the house of Ruric, which had now governed Russia for more
than seven hundred years.

Not a little artifice was still requisite to quell the indignant
passions which were rising in the bosoms of the nobles. But Gudenow
was a consummate master of his art, and through the intrigues of years
had the programme of operations all arranged. According to custom, six
weeks were devoted to mourning for Feodor. Boris then assembled the
nobility and principal citizens of Moscow, in the Kremlin, and, to the
unutterable surprise of many of them, declared that he could not
consent to assume the weighty cares and infinite responsibilities of
royalty; that the empire was unfortunately left without a sovereign,
and that they must proceed to designate the one to whom the crown
should be transferred; that he, worn down with the toils of State, had
decided to retire to a monastery, and devote the remainder of his days
to poverty, retirement and to God. He immediately took leave of the
astonished and perplexed assembly, and withdrew to a convent about
three miles from Moscow.

The partisans of Boris were prepared to act their part. They stated
that intelligence had arrived that the Tartars, with an immense army,
had commenced the invasion of Russia; that Boris alone was familiar
with the condition and resources of the empire, and with the details
of administration--that he was a veteran soldier, and that his
military genius and vigorous arm were requisite to beat back the foe.
These considerations were influential, and a deputation was chosen to
urge Boris, as he loved his country, to continue in power and accept
the scepter, which, as prime minister, he had so long successfully
wielded. Boris affected the most extreme reluctance. The populace of
Moscow, whose favor he had purchased, surrounded the convent in
crowds, and with vehemence, characteristic of their impulsive,
childish natures, threw themselves upon the ground, tore their hair,
beat their breasts, and declared that they would never return to their
homes unless Boris would consent to be their sovereign.

Pretending, at last, to be overcome by these entreaties, Boris
consented to raise and lead an army to repel the Tartars, and he
promised that should Providence prosper him in this enterprise, he
would regard it as an indication that it was the will of Heaven that
he should ascend the throne. He immediately called all his tremendous
energies into exercise, and in a few months collected an army, of the
nobles and of the militia, amounting to five hundred thousand men.
With great pomp he rode through the ranks of this mighty host,
receiving their enthusiastic applause. In that day, as neither
telegraphs, newspapers or stage-coaches existed, intelligence was
transmitted with difficulty, and very slowly. The story of the Tartar
invasion proved a sham. Boris had originated it to accomplish his
purposes. He amused and conciliated the soldiers with magnificent
parades, intimating that the Tartars, alarmed by his vast
preparations, had not dared to advance against him. A year's pay was
ordered for each one of the soldiers. The nobles received gratuities
and were entertained by the tzar in festivals, at which parties of ten
thousand, day after day, were feasted, during an interval of six
weeks. Boris then returned to Moscow. The people met him several miles
from the city, and conducted him in triumph to the Kremlin. He was
crowned, with great pomp, Emperor of Russia, on the 1st of September,

Boris watched, with an eagle eye, all those who could by any
possibility disturb his reign or endanger the permanence of the new
dynasty which he wished to establish. Some of the princes of the old
royal family were forbidden to marry; others were banished to Siberia.
The diadem, thus usurped, proved indeed a crown of thorns. That which
is founded in crime, can generally by crime alone be perpetuated. The
manners of the usurper were soon entirely altered. He had been
affable, easy of access, and very popular. But now he became haughty,
reserved and suspicious. Wishing to strengthen his dynasty by royal
alliances, he proposed the marriage of his daughter to Gustavus, son
of Eric XIV., King of Sweden. He accordingly invited Gustavus to
Moscow, making him pompous promises. The young prince was received
with magnificent display and loaded with presents. But there was soon
a falling out between Boris and his intended son-in-law, and the young
prince was dismissed in disgrace. He however succeeded in establishing
a treaty of peace with the Poles, which was to continue twenty years.
He also was successful in contracting an alliance for his daughter
Axinia, with Duke John of Denmark. The marriage was celebrated in
Moscow in 1602 with great splendor. But even before the marriage
festivities were closed, the duke was taken sick and died, to the
inexpressible disappointment of Boris.

The Turks from Constantinople sent an embassy to Moscow with rich
presents, proposing a treaty of friendship and alliance. But Boris
declined the presents and dismissed the embassadors, saying that he
could never be friendly to the Turks, as they were the enemies of
Christianity. Like many other men, he could trample upon the precepts
of the gospel, and yet be zealous of Christianity as a doctrinal code
or an institution.

A report was now circulated that the young Dmitri was still alive,
that his mother, conscious of the danger of his assassination, had
placed the prince in a position of safety, and that another child had
been assassinated in his stead. This rumor overwhelmed the guilty soul
of Boris with melancholy. His fears were so strongly excited, that
several nobles, who were supposed to be in the interests of the young
prince, were put to the rack to extort a confession. But no positive
information respecting Dmitri could be gained. The mother of Dmitri
was banished to an obscure fortress six hundred miles from Moscow.

The emissaries of Boris were everywhere busy to detect, if possible,
the hiding place of Dmitri. Intelligence was at length brought to the
Kremlin that two monks had escaped from a convent and had fled to
Poland, and that it was apprehended that one of them was the young
prince in disguise; it was also said that Weisnowiski, prince of Kief,
was protector of Dmitri, and, in concert with others, was preparing a
movement to place him upon the throne of his ancestors. Boris was
thrown into paroxysms of terror. Not knowing what else to do, he
franticly sent a party of Cossacks to murder Weisnowiski; but the
prince was on his guard, and the enterprise failed.

The question, "Have we a Bourbon among us?" has agitated the whole of
the United States. The question, "Have we a Dmitri among us?" then
agitated Russia far more intensely. It was a question of the utmost
practical importance, involving civil war and the removal of the new
dynasty for the restoration of the old. Whether the person said to be
Dmitri were really such, is a question which can now never be settled.
The monk Griska Utropeja, who declared himself to be the young prince,
sustained his claim with such an array of evidence as to secure the
support of a large portion of the Russians, and also the coöperation
of the court of Poland. The claims of Griska were brought up before
the Polish diet and carefully examined. He was then acknowledged by
them as the legitimate heir to the crown of Russia. An army was raised
to restore him to his ancestral throne. Sigismond, the King of Poland,
with ardor espoused his cause.

Boris immediately dispatched an embassy to Warsaw to remind Sigismond
of the treaty of alliance into which he had entered, and to insist
upon his delivering up the pretended Dmitri, dead or alive. A threat
was added to the entreaty: "If you countenance this impostor," said
Boris, "you will draw down upon you a war which you may have cause to

Sigismond replied, that though he had no doubt that Griska was truly
the Prince Dmitri, and, as such, entitled to the throne of Russia,
still he had no disposition personally to embark in the advocacy of
his rights; but, that if any of his nobles felt disposed to espouse
his claims with arms or money, he certainly should do nothing to
thwart them. The Polish nobles, thus encouraged, raised an army of
forty thousand men, which they surrendered to Griska. He, assuming the
name of Dmitri, placed himself at their head, and boldly commenced a
march upon Moscow. As soon as he entered the Russian territories many
nobles hastened to his banners, and several important cities declared
for him.

Boris was excessively alarmed. With characteristic energy he speedily
raised an army of two hundred thousand men, and then was in the utmost
terror lest this very army should pass over to the ranks of his foes.
He applied to Sweden and to Denmark to help him, but both kingdoms
refused. Dmitri advanced triumphantly, and laid siege to Novgorod on
the 21st of December, 1605. For five months the war continued with
varying success. Boris made every attempt to secure the assassination
of Griska, but the wary chieftain was on his guard, and all such
endeavors were frustrated. Griska at length decided to resort to the
same weapons. An officer was sent to the Kremlin with a feigned
account of a victory obtained over the troops of Dmitri. This officer
succeeded in mingling poison with the food of Boris. The drug was so
deadly that the usurper dropped and expired almost without a struggle
and without a groan.

As soon as Boris was dead, his widow, a woman of great ambition and
energy, lost not an hour in proclaiming the succession of her son,
Feodor. The officers of the army were promptly summoned to take the
oath of allegiance to the new sovereign. Feodor was but fifteen years
of age, a thoroughly spoilt boy, proud, domineering, selfish and
cruel. There was now a revolt in the army of the late tzar. Several of
the officers embraced the cause of Griska, declaring their full
conviction that he was the Prince Dmitri, and, they carried over to
his ranks a large body of the soldiers.

The defection of the army caused great consternation at court. The
courtiers, eager to secure the favor of the prince whose star was so
evidently in the ascendant, at once abandoned the hapless Feodor and
his enraged mother; and the halls of the Kremlin and the streets of
Moscow were soon resounding with the name of Dmitri. A proclamation
was published declaring general amnesty, and rich rewards to all who
should recognize and support the rights of their legitimate prince,
but that his opponents must expect no mercy. The populace immediately
rose in revolt against Feodor. They assailed the Kremlin. In a
resistless inundation they forced its gates, seized the young tzar,
with his mother, sister and other relatives, and hurried them all to

Dmitri was at Thula when he received intelligence of this revolution.
He immediately sent an officer, Basilius Galitzan, to Moscow to
receive the oath of fidelity of the city, and, at the same time, he
diabolically sent an assassin, one Ivan Bogdanoff, with orders to
strangle Feodor and his mother in the prison, but with directions not
to hurt his sister. Bogdanoff reluctantly executed his mission. On the
15th of July, 1605, Dmitri made his triumphal entry into Moscow. He
was received with all the noisy demonstrations of public rejoicing,
and, on the 29th of July, was crowned, with extraordinary grandeur,
Emperor of all the Russias.

The ceremonies of the triumphal entrance are perhaps worthy of record.
A detachment of Polish horse in brilliant uniform led the procession,
headed by a numerous band of trumpeters. Then came the gorgeous coach
of Dmitri, empty, drawn by six horses, richly caparisoned, and
preceded, followed and flanked by dense columns of musqueteers. Next
came a procession of the clergy in their ecclesiastical robes, and
with the banners of the church. This procession was led by the
bishops, who bore effigies of the Virgin Mary and of St. Nicholas, the
patron saint of Russia. Following the clergy appeared Dmitri, mounted
on a white charger, and surrounded by a splendid retinue. He proceeded
first to the church of Notre Dame, where a Te Deum was chanted, and
where the new monarch received the sacrament. He then visited the tomb
of Ivan IV., and kneeling upon it, as the tomb of his father, implored
God's blessing. Perceiving that the body of Boris Gudenow had received
interment in the royal cemetery, he ordered his remains, with those of
his wife and son, all three of whom Dmitri had caused to be
assassinated, to be removed to a common churchyard without the city.

Either to silence those who might doubt his legitimacy or being truly
the son of Ivan IV., he sent two of the nobles, with a brilliant
retinue, to the convent, more than six hundred miles from Moscow, to
which Boris had banished the widow of Ivan. They were to conduct the
queen dowager to the capital. As she approached the city, Dmitri went
out to receive her, accompanied by a great number of his nobles. As
soon as he perceived her coach, he alighted, went on foot to meet his
alleged mother, and threw himself into her arms with every
demonstration of joy and affection, which embraces she returned with
equal tenderness. Then, with his head uncovered, and walking by the
side of her carriage, he conducted her to the city and to the Kremlin.
He ever after treated her with the deference due to a mother, and
received from her corresponding proofs of confidence and affection.

But Dmitri was thoroughly a bad man, and every day became more
unpopular. He debauched the young sister of Feodor, and then shut her
up in a convent. He banished seventy noble families who were accused
of being the friends of Boris, and gave their estates and dignities to
his Polish partisans. A party was soon organized against him, who
busily circulated reports that he was an impostor, and a conspiracy
was formed to take his life. Perplexities and perils now gathered
rapidly around his throne. He surrounded himself with Polish guards,
and thus increased the exasperation of his subjects.

To add to his perplexities, another claimant of the crown appeared,
who declared himself to be the son of the late tzar, Feodor, son of
Ivan IV. This young man, named Peter, was seventeen years of age. He
had raised his standard on the other side of the Volga, and had
rallied four thousand partisans around him. In the meantime, Dmitri
had made arrangements for his marriage with Mariana Meneiski, a Polish
princess, of the Roman church. This princess was married to the tzar
by proxy, in Cracow, and in January, 1606, with a numerous retinue set
out on her journey to Moscow. She did not reach the capital of Moscow
until the 1st of May. Her father's whole family, and several thousand
armed Polanders, by way of guard, accompanied her. Many of the Polish
nobles also took this opportunity of visiting Russia, and a multitude
of merchants put themselves in her train for purposes of traffic.

The tzarina was met, at some distance from Moscow, by the royal guard,
and escorted to the city, where she was received with ringing of
bells, shoutings, discharge of cannons and all the ordinary and
extraordinary demonstrations of popular joy. On the 8th of May, the
ceremony of blessing the marriage was performed by the patriarch, and
immediately after she was crowned tzarina with greater pomp than
Russia had ever witnessed before. But the appearance of this immense
train of armed Poles incensed the Russians; and the clergy, who were
jealous of the encroachments of the church of Rome, were alarmed in
behalf of their religion. An intrepid noble, Zuski, now resolved, by
the energies of a popular insurrection, to rid the throne of Dmitri.
With great sagacity and energy the conspiracy was formed. The tzarina
was to give a grand entertainment on the evening of the 17th of May,
and the conspirators fixed upon that occasion for the consummation of
their plan. Twenty thousand troops were under the orders of Zuski, and
he had led them all into the city, under the pretense of having them
assist in the festival.

At six o'clock in the morning of the appointed day these troops,
accompanied by some thousands of the populace, surrounded the palace
and seized its gates. A division was then sent in, who commenced the
indiscriminate massacre of all who were, or who looked like Polanders.
It was taken for granted that all in the palace were either Poles or
their partisans. The alarm bells were now rung, and Zuski traversed
the streets with a drawn saber in one hand and a cross in the other,
rousing the ignorant populace by the cry that the Poles had taken up
arms to murder the Russians. Dmitri, in his chamber, hearing the
cries of the dying and the shrieks of those who fled before the
assassins, leaped from his window into the court yard, and, by his
fall, dislocated his thigh. He was immediately seized, conveyed into
the grand hall of audience, and a strong guard was set over him.

The murderers ransacked the palace, penetrating every room, killing
every Polish man and treating the Polish ladies with the utmost
brutality. They inquired eagerly for the tzarina, but she was nowhere
to be found. She had concealed herself beneath the hoop of an elderly
lady whose gray hairs and withered cheek had preserved her from
violence. Zuski now went to the dowager tzarina, the widow of Ivan
IV., and demanded that she should take her oath upon the Gospels
whether Dmitri were her son. He reported that, thus pressed, she
confessed that he was an impostor, and that her true son had perished
many years before. The conspirators now fell upon Dmitri and his body
was pierced with a thousand dagger thrusts. His mangled remains were
then dragged through the streets and burned. Mariana was soon after
arrested and sent to prison. It is said that nearly two thousand Poles
perished in this massacre.

Even to the present day opinion is divided in Russia in regard to
Dmitri, whether he was an impostor or the son of Ivan IV. Respecting
his character there is no dispute. All that can be said in his favor
is that he would not commit an atrocious crime unless impelled to it
by very strong temptation. There was now no one who seemed to have any
legitimate title to the throne of Russia.

The nobles and the senators who were at Moscow then met to proceed to
the election of a new sovereign. It was an event almost without a
parallel in Russian history. The lords, though very friendly in their
deliberations, found it difficult to decide into whose hands to
intrust the scepter. It was at last unanimously concluded to make an
appeal to the people. Their voice was for Zuski. He was accordingly
declared tzar and was soon after crowned with a degree of unanimity
which, though well authenticated, seems inexplicable.

The Poles were exasperated beyond measure at the massacre of so many
of their nobles and at the insult offered to Mariana, the tzarina. But
Poland was at that time distracted by civil strife, and the king found
it expedient to postpone the hour of vengeance. Zuski commenced his
reign by adopting measures which gave him great popularity with the
adjoining kingdoms, while they did not diminish the favorable regards
of the people. But suddenly affairs assumed a new aspect, so strange
that a writer of fiction would hardly have ventured to imagine it. An
artful man, a schoolmaster in Poland, who could speak the Russian
language, declared that he was Dmitri; that he had escaped from the
massacre in his palace, and that it was another man, mistaken for him,
whom the assassins had killed. Poland, inspired by revenge, eagerly
embraced this man's cause. Mariana, who had been liberated from
prison, was let into the secret, and willing to ascend again to the
grandeur from which she had fallen, entered with cordial coöperation
into this new intrigue. The widowed tzarina and the Polish adventurer
contrived their first meeting in the presence of a large concourse of
nobles and citizens. They rushed together in a warm embrace, while
tears of affected transport bedewed their cheeks. The farce was so
admirably performed that many were deceived, and this new Dmitri and
the tzarina occupied for several days the same tent in the Polish
encampment, apparently as husband and wife.



From 1608 to 1680.

Conquests by Poland.--Sweden in Alliance with Russia.--Grandeur of
Poland.--Ladislaus Elected King of Russia.--Commotions and
Insurrections.--Rejection of Ladislaus and Election of Michael Feodor
Romanow.--Sorrow of His Mother.--Pacific Character of Romanow.--Choice
of a Bride.--Eudochia Streschnew.--The Archbishop Feodor.--Death of
Michael and Accession of Alexis.--Love in the Palace.--Successful
Intrigue.--Mobs in Moscow.--Change in the Character of the
Tzar.--Turkish Invasions.--Alliance Between Russia and Poland.

This public testimonial of conjugal love led men, who had before
doubted the pretender, to repose confidence in his claims. The King of
Poland took advantage of the confusion now reigning in Russia to
extend his dominions by wresting still more border territory from his
great rival. In this exigence, Zuski purchased the loan of an army of
five thousand men from Sweden by surrendering Livonia to the Swedes.
With these succors united to his own troops, he marched to meet the
pretended Dmitri. There was now universal confusion in Russia. The two
hostile armies, avoiding a decisive engagement, were maneuvering and
engaging in incessant petty skirmishes, which resulted only in
bloodshed and misery. Thus five years of national woe lingered away.
The people became weary of both the claimants for the crown, and the
nobles boldly met, regardless of the rival combatants, and resolved to
choose a new sovereign.

Poland had then attained the summit of its greatness. As an energetic
military power, it was superior to Russia. To conciliate Poland, whose
aggressions were greatly feared, the Russian nobles chose, for their
sovereign, Ladislaus, son of Sigismond, the King of Poland. They
hoped thus to withdraw the Polish armies from the banners of the
pretended Dmitri, and also to secure peace for their war-blasted

Ladislaus accepted the crown. Zuski was seized, deposed, shaved,
dressed in a friar's robe and shut up in a convent to count his beads.
He soon died of that malignant poison, grief. Dmitri made a show of
opposition, but he was soon assassinated by his own men, who were
convinced of the hopelessness of his cause. His party, however, lasted
for many years, bringing forward a young man who was called his son.
At one time there was quite an enthusiasm in his favor, crowds flocked
to his camp, and he even sent embassadors to Gustavus IX., King of
Sweden, proposing an alliance. At last he was betrayed by some of his
own party, and was sent to Moscow, where he was hanged.

Sigismond was much perplexed in deciding whether to consent to his
son's accepting the crown of Russia. That kingdom was now in such a
state of confusion and weakness that he was quite sanguine that he
would be able to conquer it by force of arms and bring the whole
empire under the dominion of his own scepter. His armies were already
besieging Smolensk, and the city was hourly expected to fall into
their hands. This would open to them almost an unobstructed march to
Moscow. The Poles, generally warlike and ambitious of conquest,
represented to Sigismond that it would be far more glorious for him to
be the conqueror of Russia than to be merely the father of its tzar.

Sigismond, with trivial excuses, detained his son in Poland, while,
under various pretexts, he continued to pour his troops into Russia.
Ten thousand armed Poles were sent to Moscow to be in readiness to
receive the newly-elected monarch upon his arrival. Their general,
Stanislaus, artfully contrived even to place a thousand of these
Polish troops in garrison in the citadel of Moscow. These foreign
soldiers at last became so insolent that there was a general rising
of the populace, and they were threatened with utter extermination.
The storm of passion thus raised, no earthly power could quell. The
awful slaughter was commenced, and the Poles, conscious of their
danger, resorted to the horrible but only measure which could save
them from destruction. They immediately set fire to the city in many
different places. The city then consisted of one hundred and eighty
thousand houses, most of them being of wood. As the flames rose,
sweeping from house to house and from street to street, the
inhabitants, distracted by the endeavor to save their wives, their
children and their property, threw down their arms and dispersed. When
thus helpless, the Poles fell upon them, and one of the most awful
massacres ensued of which history gives any record. A hundred thousand
of the wretched people of Moscow perished beneath the Polish cimeters.
For fifteen days the depopulated and smouldering capital was
surrendered to pillage. The royal treasury, the churches, the convents
were all plundered. The Poles, then, laden with booty, but leaving a
garrison in the citadel, evacuated the ruined city and commenced their
march to Poland.

These horrors roused the Russians. An army under a heroic general,
Zachary Lippenow, besieged the Polish garrison, starved them into a
surrender, and put them all to death. The nobles then met, declared
the election of Ladislaus void, on account of his not coming to Moscow
to accept it, and again proceeded to the choice of a sovereign. After
long deliberation, one man ventured to propose a candidate very
different from any who had before been thought of. It was Michael
Feodor Romanow. He was a studious, philosophic young man, seventeen
years of age. His father was archbishop of Rostow, a man of exalted
reputation, both for genius and piety. Michael, with his mother, was
in a convent at Castroma. It was modestly urged that in this young man
there were centered all the qualifications essential for the
promotion of the tranquillity of the State. There were but three
males of his family living, and thus the State would avoid the evil of
having numerous relatives of the prince to be cared for. He was
entirely free from embroilments in the late troubles. As his father
was a clergyman of known piety and virtue, he would counsel his son to
peace, and would conscientiously seek the best good of the empire.

The proposition, sustained by such views, was accepted with general
acclaim. There were several nobles from Castroma who testified that
though they were not personally acquainted with young Romanow, they
believed him to be a youth of unusual intelligence, discretion and
moral worth. As the nobles were anxious not to act hastily in a matter
of such great importance, they dispatched two of their number to
Castroma with a letter to the mother of Michael, urging her to repair
immediately with her son to Moscow.

The affectionate, judicious mother, upon the reception of this letter,
burst into tears of anguish, lamenting the calamity which was

"My son," she said, "my only son is to be taken from me to be placed
upon the throne, only to be miserably slaughtered like so many of the
tzars who have preceded him."

She wrote to the electors entreating them that her son might be
excused, saying that he was altogether too young to reign, that his
father was a prisoner in Poland, and that her son had no relations
capable of assisting him with their advice. This letter, on the whole,
did but confirm the assembly of nobles in their conviction that they
could not make a better choice than that of the young Romanow. They
accordingly, with great unanimity, elected Michael Feodor Romanow,
sovereign of all the Russias; then, repairing in a body to the
cathedral, they proclaimed him to the people as their sovereign. The
announcement was received with rapturous applause. It was thus that
the house of Romanow was placed upon the throne of Russia. It retains
the throne to the present day.

Michael, incited by singular sagacity and by true Christian
philanthropy, commenced his reign by the most efficient measures to
secure the peace of the empire. As soon as he had notified his
election to the King of Poland, his father, archbishop of Rostow, was
set at liberty and sent home. He was immediately created by his son
patriarch of all Russia, an office in the Greek church almost
equivalent to that of the pope in the Romish hierarchy. While these
scenes were transpiring, Charles IX. died, and Gustavus Adolphus
succeeded to the throne of Sweden. Gustavus and Michael both desired
peace, the preliminaries were soon settled, and peace was established
upon a basis far more advantageous to the Swedes than to the Russians.
By this treaty, Russia ceded to Sweden territory, which deprived
Russia of all access to the Baltic Sea. Thus the only point now upon
which Russia touched the ocean, was on the North Sea. No enemies
remained to Russia but the Poles. Here there was trouble enough.
Ladislaus still demanded the throne, and invaded the empire with an
immense army. He advanced, ravaging the country, even to the gates of
Moscow. But, finding that he had no partisans in the kingdom, and that
powerful armies were combining against him, he consented to a truce
for fourteen years.

Russia was now at peace with all the world. The young tzar, aided by
the counsels of his excellent father, devoted himself with untiring
energy to the promotion of the prosperity of his subjects. It was
deemed a matter of much political importance that the tzar should be
immediately married. According to the custom of the empire, all the
most beautiful girls were collected for the monarch to make his
choice. They were received in the palace, and were lodged separately
though they all dined together. The tzar saw them, either incognito or
without disguise, as suited his pleasure. The day for the nuptials
was appointed, and the bridal robes prepared when no one knew upon
whom the monarch's choice had been fixed. On the morning of the
nuptial day the robes were presented to the empress elect, who then,
for the first time, learned that she had proved the successful
candidate. The rejected maidens were returned to their homes laden
with rich presents.

The young lady selected, was Eudocia Streschnew, who chanced to be the
daughter of a very worthy gentleman, in quite straitened
circumstances, residing nearly two hundred miles from Moscow. The
messenger who was sent to inform him that his daughter was Empress of
Russia, found him in the field at work with his domestics. The good
old man was conducted to Moscow; but he soon grew weary of the
splendors of the court, and entreated permission to return again to
his humble rural home. Eudocia, reared in virtuous retirement, proved
as lovely in character as she was beautiful in person, and she soon
won the love of the nation. The first year of her marriage, she gave
birth to a daughter. The three next children proved also daughters, to
the great disappointment of their parents. But in the year 1630, a son
was born, and not only the court, but all Russia, was filled with
rejoicing. In the year 1634, the tzar met with one of the greatest of
afflictions in the loss of his father by death. His reverence for the
venerable patriarch Feodor, had been such that he was ever his
principal counselor, and all his public acts were proclaimed in the
name of the tzar and his majesty's father, the most holy patriarch.

"As he had joined," writes an ancient historian, "the miter to the
sword, having been a general in the army before he was an
ecclesiastic, the affable and modest behaviour, so becoming the
ministers of the altar, had tempered and corrected the fire of the
warrior, and rendered his manners amiable to all that came near him."

The reign of Michael proved almost a constant success. His wisdom and
probity caused him to be respected by the neighboring States, while
the empire, in the enjoyment of peace, was rapidly developing all its
resources, and increasing in wealth, population and power. His court
was constantly filled with embassadors from all the monarchies of
Europe and even of Asia. The tzar, rightly considering peace as almost
the choicest of all earthly blessings, resisted all temptations to
draw the sword. There were a few trivial interruptions of peace during
his reign; but the dark clouds of war, by his energies, were soon
dispelled. This pacific prince, one of the most worthy who ever sat
upon any throne, died revered by his subjects on the 12th of July,
1645, in the forty-ninth year of his age and the thirty-third of his
reign. He left but two children--a son, Alexis, who succeeded him, and
a daughter, Irene, who a few years after died unmarried.

Alexis was but sixteen years of age when he succeeded to the throne.
To prevent the possibility of any cabals being formed, in consequence
of his youth, he was crowned the day after his father's death. In one
week from that time Eudocia also died, her death being hastened by
grief for the loss of her husband. An ambitious noble, Moroson,
supremely selfish, but cool, calculating and persevering, attained the
post of prime minister or counselor of the young tzar. The great
object of his aim was to make himself the first subject in the empire.
In the accomplishment of this object there were two leading measures
to which he resorted. The first was to keep the young tzar as much as
possible from taking any part in the transactions of state, by
involving him in an incessant round of pleasures. The next step was to
secure for the tzar a wife who would be under his own influence. The
love of pleasure incident to youth rendered the first measure not
difficult of accomplishment. Peculiar circumstances seemed remarkably
to favor the second measure. There was a nobleman of high rank but of
small fortune, strongly attached to Moroson, who had two daughters of
marvelous beauty. Moroson doubted not that he could lead his ardent
young monarch to marry one of these lovely sisters, and he resolved
himself to marry the other. He would thus become the brother-in-law of
the emperor. Through his wife he would be able to influence her
sister, the empress. The family would also all feel that they were
indebted to him for their elevation. The plan was triumphantly

The two young ladies were invited to court, and were decorated to make
the most impressive display of their loveliness. With the young tzar,
a boy of sixteen, it was love at first sight, and that very day he
told Moroson that he wished to marry Maria, the eldest of the
beauties. Rich presents were immediately lavished upon the whole
family, so that they could make their appearance at court with
suitable splendor. The tzar and Maria were immediately betrothed, and
in just eight days the ardent lover led his bride from the altar. At
the end of another week Moroson married the other sister. Moroson and
Miloslouski, the father of the two brides, now ruled Russia, while the
tzar surrendered himself to amusements.

The people soon became exasperated by the haughtiness and insolence of
the duumvirate, and murmurs growing deeper and louder, ere long led to
an insurrection. On the 6th of July, 1648, the tzar, engaged in some
civic celebration, was escorted in a procession to one of the
monasteries of Moscow. The populace assembled in immense numbers to
see him pass. On his return the crowd broke through the attendant
guards, seized the bridle of his horse, and entreated him to listen to
their complaints concerning the outrages perpetrated by his ministers.
The tzar, much alarmed by their violence, listened impatiently to
their complaints and promised to render them satisfaction. The people
were appeased, and were quietly retiring when the partisans of the
ministers rode among them, assailing them with abusive language,
crowding them with their horses, and even striking at them with their
whips. The populace, incensed, began to pelt them with stones, and
though the guard of the tzar came to their rescue, they escaped with
difficulty to the palace. The mob was now thoroughly aroused. They
rushed to the palace of Moroson, burst down the doors, and sacked
every apartment. They even tore from the person of his wife her
jewels, throwing them into the street, but in other respects treating
her with civility. They then passed to the palace of Miloslauski,
treating it in the same manner. The mob had now possession of Moscow.
Palace after palace of the partisans of the ministers was sacked, and
several of the most distinguished members of the court were massacred.

The tzar, entirely deficient in energy, remained trembling in the
Kremlin during the whole of the night of the 6th of July, only
entreating his friends to strengthen the guards and to secure the
palace from the outrages of the populace. Afraid to trust the Russian
troops, who might be found in sympathy with the people, Alexis sent
for a regiment of German troops who were in his employ, and stationed
them around the palace. He then sent out an officer to disperse the
crowd, assuring them that the disorders of which they complained
should be redressed. They demanded that the offending ministers should
be delivered to them, to be punished for the injuries they had
inflicted upon the empire. Alexis assured them, through his messenger,
upon his oath, that Moroson and Miloslauski had escaped, but promised
that the third minister whom they demanded, a noble by the name of
Plesseon, who was judge of the supreme court of judicature of Moscow,
should be brought out directly, and that those who had escaped should
be delivered up as soon as they could be arrested. The guilty,
wretched man, thus doomed to be the victim to appease the rage of the
mob, in a quarter of an hour was led out bareheaded by the servants of
the tzar to the market-place. The mob fell upon him with clubs, beat
him to the earth, dragged him over the pavements, and finally cut off
his head. Thus satiated, about eleven o'clock in the morning they
dispersed and returned to their homes.

In the afternoon, however, the reign of violence was resumed. The city
was set on fire in several places, and the mob collected for plunder,
making no effort to extinguish the flames. The fire spread with such
alarming rapidity that the whole city was endangered. At length,
however, after terrible destruction of property and the loss of many
lives, the fury of the conflagration was arrested. The affrighted tzar
now filled the important posts of the ministry with men who had a
reputation for justice, and the clergy immediately espousing the cause
of order, exhorted the populace to that respect and obedience to the
higher powers which their religion enjoined. Alexis personally
appeared before the people and addressed them in a speech, in which he
made no apology for the outrages which had been committed by the
government, but, assuming that the people were right in their demands,
promised to repeal the onerous duties, to abolish the obnoxious
monopolies, and even to increase the privileges which they had
formerly enjoyed. The people received this announcement with great
applause. The tzar, taking advantage of this return to friendliness,

"I have promised to deliver up to you Moroson and his confederates in
the government. Their acts I admit to have been very unjust, but their
personal relations to me renders it peculiarly trying for me to
condemn them. I hope the people will not deny the first request I have
ever made to them, which is, that these men, whom I have displaced,
may be pardoned. I will answer for them for the future, and assure you
that their conduct shall be such as to give you cause to rejoice at
your lenity."

The people were so moved by this address, which the tzar pronounced
with tears, that, as with one accord, they shouted, "God grant his
majesty a long and happy life. The will of God and of the tzar be
done." Peace was thus restored between the government and the people,
and great good accrued to Russia from this successful insurrection.

During the early reign of Alexis, there were no foreign wars of any
note. The Poles were all the time busy in endeavors to beat back the
Turks, who, in wave after wave of invasion, were crossing the Danube.
Upon the death of Ladislaus, King of Poland, Alexis, who had then a
fine army at his command, offered to march to repel the Turks, if the
Poles would choose him King of Poland. But at the same time France
made a still more alluring offer, in case they would choose John
Casimir, a prince in the interests of France, as their sovereign. The
choice fell upon John Casimir. The provinces of Smolensk, Kiof and
Tchernigov were then in possession of the Poles, having been, in
former wars, wrested from Russia. The Poles had conquered them by
taking advantage of internal troubles in Russia, which enabled them
with success to invade the empire.

Alexis now thought it right, in his turn, to take advantage of the
weakness of Poland, harassed by the Turks, to recover these lost
provinces. He accordingly marched to the city of Smolensk, and
encamped before it with an army of three hundred thousand men.
Smolensk was one of the strongest places which military art had then
been able to rear. The Poles had received sufficient warning of the
attack to enable them to garrison the fortifications to their utmost
capacity and to supply the town abundantly with all the materials of
war. The siege was continued for a full year, with all the usual
accompaniments of carnage and misery which attend a beleaguered
fortress. At last the city, battered into ruins, surrendered, and the
victorious Russians immediately swept over Lithuanian Poland, meeting
no force to obstruct its march. Another army, equally resistless,
swept the banks of the Dnieper, and recovered Tchernigov and Kiof.

Misfortunes seemed now to be falling like an avalanche upon Poland.
While the Turks were assailing them on the south, and the Russians
were wresting from them opulent and populous provinces on the north,
Charles Gustavus of Sweden, was crossing her eastern frontiers with
invading hosts. The impetuous Swedish king, in three months, overran
nearly the whole of Poland, threatening the utter extinction of the
kingdom. This alarmed the surrounding kingdoms, lest Sweden should
become too powerful for their safety. Alexis immediately entered into
a truce with Poland, which guaranteed to him the peaceable possession
of the provinces he had regained, and then united his armies with
those of his humiliated rival, to arrest the strides of the Swedish

Sieges, cannonades and battles innumerable ensued, over hundreds of
leagues of territory, bordering the shores of the Baltic. For several
years the maddened strife continued, producing its usual fruits of
gory fields, smouldering cities, desolated homes, with orphanage,
widowhood, starvation, pestilence, and every conceivable form of human
misery. At length, all parties being exhausted, peace was concluded on
the 2d of June, 1661.

The great insurrection in Moscow had taught the tzar Alexis a good
lesson, and he profited by it wisely. He was led to devote himself
earnestly to the welfare of his people. His recovery of the lost
provinces of Russia was considered just, and added immeasurably to his
renown. Conscious of the imperfection of his education, he engaged
earnestly in study, causing many important scientific treatises to be
translated into the Russian language, and perusing them with diligence
and delight. He had the laws of the several provinces collected and
published together. Many new manufactures were introduced,
particularly those of silk and linen. Though rigidly economical in his
expenses, he maintained a magnificent court and a numerous army. He
took great interest in the promotion of agriculture, bringing many
desert wastes into cultivation, and peopling them with the prisoners
taken in the Polish and Swedish wars. It was the custom in those
barbaric times to drive, as captives of war, the men, women and
children of whole provinces, to be slaves in the territory of the
conqueror. Often they occupied the position of a vassal peasantry,
tilling the soil for the benefit of their lords. With singular
foresight, Alexis planned for the construction of a fleet both on the
Caspian and the Black Sea. With this object in view, he sent for ship
carpenters from Holland and other places.

All Europe was now trembling in view of the encroachments of the
Turks. Several very angry messages had passed between the sultan and
the tzar, and the Turks had proved themselves ever eager to combine
with the Tartars in bloody raids into the southern regions of the
empire. Alexis resolved to combine Christian Europe, if possible, in a
war of extermination against the Turks. To this end he sent
embassadors to every court in Christendom. As his embassador was
presented to Pope Clement X., the pope extended his foot for the
customary kiss. The proud Russian drew back, exclaiming,

"So ignoble an act of homage is beneath the dignity of the prince whom
I have the honor to serve."

He then informed the pope that the Emperor of Russia had resolved to
make war against the Turks, that he wished to see all Christian
princes unite against those enemies of humanity and religion, that for
that purpose he had sent embassadors to all the potentates of Europe,
and that he exhorted his holiness to place himself at the head of a
league so powerful, so necessary for the protection of the church, and
from which every Christian State might derive the greatest advantages.
Foolish punctilios of etiquette interfered with any efficient
arrangements with the court of Rome, and though the embassadors of
other powers were received with the most marked respect, these powers
were all too much engrossed with their own internal affairs to enlist
in this enterprise for the public good. The Turks were, however,
alarmed by these formidable movements, and, fearing such an alliance,
were somewhat checked in their career of conquest.

On the 10th of November, 1674, the King of Poland died, and again
there was an attempt on the part of Russia to unite Poland and the
empire under the same crown. All the monarchies in Europe were
involved in intrigues for the Polish crown. The electors, however,
chose John Sobieski, a renowned Polish general, for their sovereign.
The tzar was very apprehensive that the Poles would make peace with
the Turks, and thus leave the sultan at liberty to concentrate all his
tremendous resources upon Russia. Alexis raised three large armies,
amounting in all to one hundred and fifty thousand men, which he sent
into the Ukraine, as the frontier country, watered by the lower
Dnieper, was then called.

The Turkish army, which was spread over the country between the Danube
and the Dniester, now crossed this latter stream, and, in solid
battalions, four hundred thousand strong, penetrated the Ukraine. They
immediately commenced the fiend-like work of reducing the whole
province to a desert. The process of destruction is swift. Flames, in
a few hours, will consume a city which centuries alone have reared. A
squadron of cavalry will, in a few moments, trample fields of grain
which have been slowly growing and ripening for months. In less than a
fortnight nearly the whole of the Ukraine was a depopulated waste, the
troops of the tzar being shut up in narrow fortresses. The King of
Poland, apprehensive that this vast Turkish army would soon turn with
all their energies of destruction upon his own territories, resolved
to march, with all the forces of his kingdom, to the aid of the
Russians. One hundred thousand Polish troops immediately besieged the
great city of Humau, which the Turks had taken, midway between the
Dnieper and the Dniester.

John Sobieski, the newly-elected King of Poland, was a veteran soldier
of great military renown. He placed himself at the head of other
divisions of the army, and endeavored to distract the enemy and to
divide their forces. At the same time, Alexis himself hastened to the
theater of war that he might animate his troops by his presence. The
Turks, finding themselves unable to advance any further, sullenly
returned to their own country by the way of the Danube. Upon the
retirement of the Turks, the Russians and the Poles began to quarrel
respecting the possession of the Ukraine. Affairs were in this
condition when the tzar Alexis, in all the vigor of manhood, was taken
sick and died. He was then in the forty-sixth year of his age. His
first wife, Maria Miloslouski, had died several years before him,
leaving two sons and four daughters. His second wife, Natalia
Nariskin, to whom he was married in the year 1671, still lived with
her two children, a son, Peter, who was subsequently entitled the
Great, as being the most illustrious monarch Russia has known, and a
daughter Natalia.

Alexis, notwithstanding the unpropitious promise of his youth, proved
one of the wisest and best princes Russia had known for years. He was
a lover of peace, and yet prosecuted war with energy when it was
forced upon him. His oldest surviving son, Feodor, who was but
eighteen years of age at the time of his father's death, succeeded to
the crown. Feodor, following the counsel which his father gave him on
his dying bed, soon took military possession of nearly all of the
Ukraine. The Turks entered the country again, but were repulsed with
severe loss. Apprehensive that they would speedily return, the tzar
made great efforts to secure a friendly alliance with Poland, in which
he succeeded by paying a large sum of money in requital for the
provinces of Smolensk and Kiof which his arms had recovered.

In the spring of 1678, the Turks again entered the Ukraine with a
still more formidable army than the year before. The campaign was
opened by laying siege to the city Czeherin, which was encompassed by
nearly four hundred thousand men, and, after a destructive cannonade,
was carried by storm. The garrison, consisting of thirty thousand
men, were put to the sword. The Russian troops were so panic-stricken
by this defeat, that they speedily retreated. The Turks pursued them a
long distance, constantly harassing their rear. But the Turks, in
their turn, were compelled to retire, being driven back by famine, a
foe against whom their weapons could make no impression.

The Ottoman Porte soon found that little was gained by waging war with
an empire so vast and sparsely settled as Russia, and that their
conquest of the desolated and depopulated lands of the Ukraine, was by
no means worth the expenses of the war. The Porte was therefore
inclined to make peace with Russia, that the Turkish armies might fall
upon Poland again, which presented a much more inviting field of
conquest. The Poles were informed of this through their embassador at
Constantinople, and earnestly appealed to the tzar of Russia, and to
all the princes in Christendom to come to their aid. The selfishness
which every court manifested is humiliating to human nature. Each
court seemed only to think of its own aggrandizement. Feodor consented
to aid them only on condition that the Poles should renounce all
pretension to any places then in possession of Russia. To this the
Polish king assented, and the armies of Russia and Poland were again
combined to repel the Turks.



From 1680 to 1697.

Administration of Feodor.--Death of Feodor.--Incapacity of
Ivan.--Succession of Peter.--Usurpation of Sophia.--Insurrection of
the Strelitzes.--Massacre in Moscow.--Success of the
Insurrection.--Ivan and Peter Declared Sovereigns under the Regency of
Sophia.--General Discontent.--Conspiracy against Sophia.--Her Flight
to the Convent.--The Conspiracy Quelled.--New Conspiracy.--Energy of
Peter.--He Assumes the Crown.--Sophia Banished to a
Convent.--Commencement of the Reign of Peter.

Feodor, influenced by the wise counsels of his father, devoted much
attention to the beautifying of his capital, and to developing the
internal resources of the empire. He paved the streets of Moscow,
erected several large buildings of stone in place of the old wooden
structures. Commerce and arts were patronized, he even loaning, from
the public treasury, sums of money to enterprising men to encourage
them in their industrial enterprises. Foreigners of distinction, both
scholars and artisans, were invited to take up their residence in the
empire. The tzar was particularly fond of fine horses, and was very
successful in improving, by importations, the breed in Russia.

Feodor had always been of an exceedingly frail constitution, and it
was evident that he could not anticipate long life. In the year 1681
he married a daughter of one of the nobles. His bride, Opimia
Routoski, was also frail in health, though very beautiful. Six months
had hardly passed away ere the youthful empress exchanged her bridal
robes and couch for the shroud and the tomb. The emperor himself,
grief-stricken, was rapidly sinking in a decline. His ministers almost
forced him to another immediate marriage, hoping that, by the birth
of a son, the succession of his half brother Peter might be prevented.
The dying emperor received into his emaciate, feeble arms the new
bride who had been selected for him, Marva Matweowna, and after a few
weeks of languor and depression died. He was deeply lamented by his
subjects, for during his short reign of less than three years he had
developed a noble character, and had accomplished more for the real
prosperity of Russia than many a monarch in the longest occupation of
the throne.

Feodor left two brothers--Ivan, a brother by the same mother, Eudocia,
and Peter, the son of the second wife of Alexis. Ivan was very feeble
in body and in mind, with dim vision, and subject to epileptic fits.
Feodor consequently declared his younger brother Peter, who was but
ten years of age, his successor. The custom of the empire allowed him
to do this, and rendered this appointment valid. It was generally the
doom of the daughters of the Russian emperors, who could seldom find a
match equal to their rank, to pass their lives immured in a convent.

Feodor had a sister, Sophia, a very spirited, energetic woman,
ambitious and resolute, whose whole soul revolted against such a
moping existence. Seeing that Feodor had but a short time to live, she
left her convent and returned to the Kremlin, persisting in her
resolve to perform all sisterly duties for her dying brother. Ivan,
her own brother, was incapable of reigning, from his infirmities.
Peter, her half-brother, was but a child. Sophia, with wonderful
energy, while tending at the couch of Feodor, made herself familiar
with the details of the administration, and, acting on behalf of the
dying sovereign, gathered the reins of power into her own hands.

As soon as Feodor expired, and it was announced that Peter was
appointed successor to the throne, to the exclusion of his elder
brother Ivan, Sophia, through her emissaries, excited the militia of
the capital to one of the most bloody revolts Moscow had ever
witnessed. It was her intention to gain the throne for the imbecile
Ivan, as she doubted not that she could, in that event, govern the
empire at her pleasure. Peter, child as he was, had already developed
a character of self-reliance which taught Sophia that he would
speedily wrest the scepter from her hands.

The second day after the burial of Feodor, the militia, or
_strelitzes_ as they were called, a body of citizen soldiers in
Moscow, corresponding very much with the national guard of Paris,
surrounded the Kremlin, in a great tumult, and commenced complaining
of nine of their colonels, who owed them some arrears of pay. They
demanded that these officers should be surrendered to them, and their
demand was so threatening that the court, intimidated, was compelled
to yield. The wretched officers were seized by the mob, tied to the
ground naked, upon their faces, and whipped with most terrible
severity. The soldiers thus overawed opposition, and became a power
which no one dared resist. Sophia was their inspiring genius, inciting
and directing them through her emissaries. Though some have denied her
complicity in these deeds of violence, still the prevailing voice of
history is altogether against her.

Sophia, having the terrors of the mob to wield, as her executive
power, convened an assembly of the princes of the blood, the generals,
the lords, the patriarch and the bishops of the church, and even of
the principal merchants. She urged upon them that Ivan, by right of
birth, was entitled to the empire. The mother of Peter, Natalia
Nariskin, now empress dowager, was still young and beautiful. She had
two brothers occupying posts of influence at court. The family of the
Nariskins had consequently much authority in the empire. Sophia
dreaded the power of her mother-in-law, and her first efforts of
intrigue were directed against the Nariskins. Her agents were
everywhere busy, in the court and in the army, whispering insinuations
against them. It was even intimated that they had caused the death of
Feodor, by bribing his physician to poison him, and that they had
attempted the life of Ivan. At length Sophia gave to her agents a list
of forty lords whom they were to denounce to the insurgent soldiery as
enemies to them and to the State.

This was the signal for their massacre. Two were first seized in the
palace of the Kremlin, and thrown out of the window. The soldiers
received them upon their pikes, and dragged their mutilated corpses
through the streets to the great square of the city. They then rushed
back to the palace, where they found Athanasius Nariskin, one of the
brothers of the queen dowager. He was immediately murdered. They soon
after found three of the proscribed in a church, to which they had
fled as a sanctuary. Notwithstanding the sacredness of the church, the
unhappy lords were instantly hewn to pieces by the swords of the
assassins. Thus frenzied with blood, they met a young lord whom they
mistook for Ivan Nariskin, the remaining brother of the mother of
Peter. He was instantly slain, and then the assassins discovered their
error. With some slight sense of justice, perhaps of humanity, they
carried the bleeding corpse of the young nobleman to his father. The
panic-stricken, heartbroken parent dared not rebuke them for the
murder, but thanked them for bringing to him the corpse of his child.
The mother, more impulsive and less cautious, broke out into bitter
and almost delirious reproaches. The father, to appease her, said to
her, in an under tone, "Let us wait till the hour shall come when we
shall be able to take revenge."

Some one overheard the imprudent words, and reported them to the mob.
They immediately returned, dragged the old man down the stairs of his
palace by the hair, and cut his throat upon his own door sill. They
were now searching the city, in all directions, for Von Gaden the
German physician of the late tzar, who was accused of administering to
him poison. They met in the streets, the son of the physician, and
demanded of him where his father was. The trembling lad replied that
he did not know. They cut him down. Soon they met another German

"You are a doctor," they said. "If you have not poisoned our sovereign
you have poisoned others, and deserve death."

He was immediately murdered. At length they discovered Von Gaden. He
had attempted to disguise himself in a beggar's garb. The worthy old
man, who, like most eminent physicians, was as distinguished for
humanity as for eminent medical skill, was dragged to the Kremlin. The
princesses themselves came out and mingled with the crowd, begging for
the life of the good man, assuring them that he had been a faithful
physician and that he had served their sovereign with zeal. The
soldiers declared that he deserved to die, as they had positive proof
that he was a sorcerer, for, in searching his apartments, they had
found the skin of a snake and several reptiles preserved in bottles.
Against such proof no earthly testimony could avail.

They also demanded that Ivan Nariskin, whom they had been seeking for
two days, should be delivered up to them. They were sure that he was
concealed somewhere in the Kremlin, and they threatened to set fire to
the palace and burn it to the ground unless he were immediately
delivered to them. It was evident that these threats would be promptly
put into execution. Firing the palace would certainly insure his
death. There was the bare possibility of escape by surrendering him to
the mob. The empress herself went to her brother in his concealment
and informed him of the direful choice before him. The young prince
sent for the patriarch, confessed his sins, partook of the Lord's
Supper, received the sacrament of extreme unction in preparation for
death, and was then led out, by the patriarch himself, dressed in his
pontifical robes and bearing an image of the Virgin Mary, and was
delivered by him to the soldiers. The queen and the princesses
accompanied the victim, surrounding him, and, falling upon their knees
before the soldiers, they united with the patriarch in pleading for
his life. But the mob, intoxicated and maddened, dragged the young
prince and the physician before a tribunal which they had constituted
on the spot, and condemned them to what was expressively called the
punishment of "ten thousand slices." Their bodies were speedily cut
into the smallest fragments, while their heads were stuck upon the
iron spikes of the balustrade.

These outrages were terminated by a proclamation from the soldiery
that Ivan and Peter should be joint sovereigns under the regency of
Sophia. The regent rewarded her partisans liberally for their
efficient and successful measures. Upon the leaders she conferred the
confiscated estates of the proscribed. A monument of shame was reared,
upon which the names of the assassinated were engraved as traitors to
their country. The soldiers were rewarded with double pay.

Sophia unscrupulously usurped all the prerogatives and honors of
royalty. All dispatches were sealed with her hand. Her effigy was
stamped upon the current coin. She took her seat as presiding officer
at the council. To confer a little more dignity upon the character of
her imbecile brother, Ivan, she selected for him a wife, a young lady
of extraordinary beauty whose father had command of a fortress in
Siberia. It was on the 25th of June, 1682, that Sophia assumed the
regency. In 1684 Ivan was married. The scenes of violence which had
occurred agitated the whole political atmosphere throughout the
empire. There was intense exasperation, and many conspiracies were
formed for the overthrow of the government. The most formidable of
these conspiracies was organized by Couvanski, commander-in-chief of
the strelitzes. He was dissatisfied with the rewards he had received,
and, conscious that he had placed Sophia upon the throne through the
energies of the soldiers he commanded, he believed that he might just
as easily have placed himself there. Having become accustomed to
blood, the slaughter of a few more persons, that he might place the
crown upon his own brow, appeared to him a matter of but little
moment. He accordingly planned to murder the two tzars, the regent
Sophia and all the remaining princes of the royal family. Then, by
lavishing abundant rewards upon the soldiers, he doubted not that he
could secure their efficient coöperation in maintaining him on the

The conspiracy was discovered upon the eve of its accomplishment.
Sophia immediately fled with the two tzars and the princes, to the
monastery of the Trinity. This was a palace, a convent and a fortress.
The vast pile, reared of stone, was situated thirty-six miles from
Moscow, and was encompassed with deep ditches, and massive ramparts
bristling with cannon. The monks were in possession of the whole
country for a space of twelve miles around this almost impregnable
citadel. From this safe retreat Sophia opened communications with the
rebel chief. She succeeded in alluring him to come half way to meet
her in conference. A powerful band of soldiers, placed in ambush,
seized him. He was immediately beheaded, with one of his sons, and
thirty-seven strelitzes who had accompanied him.

As soon as the strelitzes in Moscow, numbering many thousands, heard
of the assassination of their general and of their comrades, they flew
to arms, and in solid battalions, with infantry, artillery and
cavalry, marched to the assault of the convent. The regent rallied her
supporters, consisting of the lords who were her partisans, and their
vassals, and prepared for a vigorous defense. Russia seemed now upon
the eve of a bloody civil war. The nobles generally espoused the cause
of the tzars under the regency of Sophia. Their claims seemed those of
legitimacy, while the success of the insurrectionary soldiers promised
only anarchy. The rise of the people in defense of the government was
so sudden and simultaneous, that the strelitzes were panic-stricken,
and soon, in the most abject submission, implored pardon, which was
wisely granted them. Sophia, with the tzars, surrounded by an army,
returned in triumph to Moscow. Tranquillity was thus restored.

Sophia still held the reins of power with a firm grasp. The imbecility
of Ivan and the youth of Peter rendered this usurpation easy. Very
adroitly she sent the most mutinous regiments of the strelitzes on
apparently honorable missions to the distant provinces of the Ukraine,
Kesan, and Siberia. Poland, menaced by the Turks, made peace with
Russia, and purchased her alliance by the surrender of the vast
province of Smolensk and all the conquered territory in the Ukraine.
In the year 1687, Sophia sent the first Russian embassy to France,
which was then in the meridian of her splendor, under the reign of
Louis XIV. Voltaire states that France, at that time, was so
unacquainted with Russia, that the Academy of Inscriptions celebrated
this embassy by a medal, as if it had come from India.[10] The Crimean
Tartars, in confederacy with the Turks, kept Russia, Poland, Hungary,
Transylvania, and the various provinces of the German empire in
perpetual alarm. Poland and Russia were so humiliated, that for
several years they had purchased exemption from these barbaric forays
by paying the Tartars an annual tribute amounting to fifty thousand
dollars each. Sophia, anxious to wipe out this disgrace, renewed the
effort, which had so often failed, to unite all Europe against the
Turks. Immense armies were raised by Russia and Poland and sent to the
Tauride. For two years a bloody war raged with about equal slaughter
upon both sides, while neither party gained any marked advantage.

[Footnote 10: "La France n'avait eu encore aucune correspondance avec
la Russie; on ne le connaissait pas; et l'Académie des Inscriptions
célébra par une médaille cette ambassade, comme si elle fut venue des
Indes."--_Histoire de l'Empire de Russie, sous Pierre le Grand_, page

Peter had now attained his eighteenth year, and began to manifest
pretty decisively a will of his own. He fell in love with a beautiful
maiden, Ottokesa Lapuchin, daughter of one of his nobles, and,
notwithstanding all the intriguing opposition of Sophia, persisted in
marrying her. This marriage increased greatly the popularity of the
young prince, and it was very manifest that he would soon thrust
Sophia aside, and with his own vigorous arm, wield the scepter alone.

The regent, whose hands were already stained with the blood of
assassination, now resolved to remove Peter out of the way. The young
prince, with his bride, was residing at his country seat, a few miles
out from Moscow. Sophia, in that corrupt, barbaric age, found no
difficulty in obtaining, with bribes, as many accomplices as she
wanted. Two distinguished generals led a party of six hundred
strelitzes out of the city, to surround the palace of Peter and to
secure his death. The soldiers had already commenced their march, when
Peter was informed of his danger. The tzar leaped upon a horse, and
spurring him to his utmost speed, accompanied by a few attendants,
escaped to the convent of the Trinity, to which we have before alluded
as one of the strongest fortresses of Russia. The mother, wife and
sister of the tzar, immediately joined him there.

The soldiers were not aware of the mission which their leaders were
intending to accomplish. When they arrived at the palace, and it was
found that the tzar had fled, and it was whispered about that he had
fled to save his life, the soldiers, by nature more strongly attached
to a chivalrous young man than to an intriguing, ambitious woman,
whose character was of very doubtful reputation, broke out into open
revolt, and, abandoning their officers, marched directly to the
monastery and offered their services to Peter. The patriarch, whose
religious character gave him almost unbounded influence with the
people, also found that he was included as one of the victims of the
conspiracy; that he was to have been assassinated, and his place
conferred upon one of the partisans of Sophia. He also fled to the
convent of the Trinity.

Sophia now found herself deserted by the soldiery and the nation. She
accordingly, with the most solemn protestations, declared that she had
been accused falsely, and after sending messenger after messenger to
plead her cause with her brother, resolved to go herself. She had not
advanced more than half way, ere she was met by a detachment of
Peter's friends who informed her, from him, that she must go directly
back to Moscow, as she could not be received into the convent. The
next day Peter assembled a council, and it was resolved to bring the
traitors to justice. A colonel, with three hundred men, was sent to
the Kremlin to arrest the officers implicated in the conspiracy. They
were loaded with chains, conducted to the Trinity, and in accordance
with the barbaric custom of the times were put to the torture. In
agony too dreadful to be borne, they of course made any confession
which was demanded.

Peter was reluctant to make a public example of his sister. There
ensued a series of punishments of the conspirators too revolting to be
narrated. The mildest of these punishments was exile to Siberia,
there, in the extremest penury, to linger through scenes of woe so
long as God should prolong their lives. The executions being
terminated and the exiles out of sight, Sophia was ordered to leave
the Kremlin, and retire to the cloisters of Denitz, which she was
never again to leave. Peter then made a triumphal entry into Moscow.
He was accompanied by a guard of eighteen thousand troops. His feeble
brother Ivan received him at the outer gate of the Kremlin. They
embraced each other with much affection, and then retired to their
respective apartments. The wife and mother of Peter accompanied him on
his return to Moscow.

Thus terminated the regency of Sophia. From this time Peter was the
real sovereign of Russia. His brother Ivan took no other share in the
government than that of lending his name to the public acts. He lived
for a few years in great seclusion, almost forgotten, and died in
1696. Peter was physically, as well as intellectually, a remarkable
man. He was tall and finely formed, with noble features lighted up
with an extremely brilliant eye. His constitution was robust, enabling
him to undergo great hardship, and he was, by nature, a man of great
activity and energy. His education, however, was exceedingly
defective. The regent Sophia had not only exerted all her influence to
keep him in ignorance, but also to allure him into the wildest
excesses of youthful indulgence. Even his recent marriage had not
interfered with the publicity of his amours, and all distinguished
foreigners in Moscow were welcomed by him to scenes of feasting and

Notwithstanding these deplorable defects of character, for which much
allowance is to be made from the neglect of his education and his
peculiar temptations, still it was manifest to close observers even
then, that the seeds of true greatness were implanted in his nature.
When five years of age, he was riding with his mother in a coach, and
was asleep in her arms. As they were passing over a bridge where there
was a heavy fall of water from spring rains, the roar of the cataract
awoke him. The noise, with the sudden aspect of the rushing torrent,
created such terror that he was thrown into a fever, and, for years,
he could not see any standing water, much less a running stream,
without being thrown almost into convulsions. To overcome this
weakness, he resolutely persisted in plunging into the waves until his
aversion was changed into a great fondness for that element.

Ashamed of his ignorance, he vigorously commenced studying German,
and, notwithstanding all the seductions of the court, succeeded in
acquiring such a mastery of the language as to be able both to speak
and write it correctly. Peter's father, Alexis, had been anxious to
open the fields of commerce to his subjects. He had, at great expense,
engaged the services of ship builders and navigators from Holland. A
frigate and a yacht had been constructed, with which the Volga had
been navigated to its mouth at Astrachan. It was his intention to open
a trade with Persia through the Caspian Sea. But, in a revolt at
Astrachan, the vessels were seized and destroyed, and the captain
killed. Thus terminated this enterprise. The master builder, however,
remained in Russia, where he lived a long time in obscurity.

One day, Peter, at one of his summer palaces of Ismaelhof, saw upon
the shore of the lake the remains of a pleasure boat of peculiar
construction. He had never before seen any boat but such as was
propelled by oars. The peculiarity of the structure of this arrested
his attention, and being informed that it was constructed for sails as
well as oars, he ordered it to be repaired, that he might make trial
of it. It so chanced that the shipwright, Brandt, from Holland, who
had built the boat, was found, and the tzar, to his great delight,
enjoyed, for the first time in his life, the pleasures of a sail. He
immediately gave directions for the boat to be transported to the
great lake near the convent of the Trinity, and here he ordered two
frigates and three yachts to be built. For months he amused himself
piloting his little fleet over the waves of the lake. Like many a
plebeian boy, the tzar had now acquired a passion for the sea, and he
longed to get a sight of the ocean.

With this object in view, in 1694 he set out on a journey of nearly a
thousand miles to Archangel, on the shores of the White Sea. Taking
his shipwrights with him, he had a small vessel constructed, in which
he embarked for the exploration of the Frozen Ocean, a body of water
which no sovereign had seen before him. A Dutch man-of-war, which
chanced to be in the harbor at Archangel, and all the merchant fleet
there accompanied the tzar on this expedition. The sovereign himself
had already acquired much of the art of working a ship, and on this
trip devoted all his energies to improvement in the science and
practical skill of navigation.

While the tzar was thus turning his attention to the subject of a
navy, he at the same time was adopting measures of extraordinary vigor
for the reorganization of the army. Hitherto the army had been
composed of bands of vassals, poorly armed and without discipline, led
by their lords, who were often entirely without experience in the arts
of war. Peter commenced, at his country residence, with a company of
fifty picked men, who were put through the most thorough drill by
General Gordon, a Scotchman of much military ability, who had secured
the confidence of the tzar. Some of the sons of the lords were chosen
as their officers, but these young nobles were all trained by the same
military discipline, Peter setting them the example by passing through
all the degrees of the service from the very lowest rank. He
shouldered his musket, and commencing at the humblest post, served as
sentinel, sergeant and lieutenant. No one ventured to refuse to follow
in the footsteps of his sovereign. This company, thus formed and
disciplined, was rapidly increased until it became the royal guard,
most terrible on the field of battle. When this regiment numbered five
thousand men, another regiment upon the same principle was organized,
which contained twelve thousand. It is a remarkable fact stated by
Voltaire, that one third of these troops were French refugees, driven
from France by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

One of the first efforts of the far-sighted monarch was to consolidate
the army and to bring it under the energy of one mind, by breaking
down the independence of the nobles, who had heretofore acted as petty
sovereigns, leading their contingents of vassals. Peter was thus
preparing to make the influence of Russia felt among the armies of
Europe as it had never been felt before.

The Russian empire, sweeping across Siberian Asia, reached down
indefinitely to about the latitude of fifty-two degrees, where it was
met by the Chinese claims. Very naturally, a dispute arose respecting
the boundaries, and with a degree of good sense which seems almost
incredible in view of the developments of history, the two
half-civilized nations decided to settle the question by conference
rather than by war. A place of meeting, for the embassadors, was
appointed on the frontiers of Siberia, about nine hundred miles from
the great Chinese wall. Fortunately for both parties, there were some
Christian missionaries who accompanied the Chinese as interpreters.
Probably through the influence of these men of peace a treaty was soon
formed. Both parties pledged themselves to the observance of the
treaty in the following words, which were doubtless written by the

"If any of us entertain the least thought of renewing the flames of
war, we beseech the supreme Lord of all things, who knows the heart of
man, to punish the traitor with sudden death."

Two large pillars were erected upon the spot to mark the boundaries
between the two empires, and the treaty was engraved upon each of
them. Soon after, a treaty of commerce was formed, which commerce,
with brief interruptions, has continued to flourish until the present
day. Peter now prepared, with his small but highly disciplined army,
to make vigorous warfare upon the Turks, and to obtain, if possible,
the control of the Black Sea. Early in the summer of 1695 the Russian
army commenced its march. Striking the head waters of the Don, they
descended the valley of that river to attack the city of Azov, an
important port of the Turks, situated on an island at the mouth of the

The tzar accompanied his troops, not as commander-in-chief, but a
volunteer soldier. Generals Gordon and Le Fort, veteran officers, had
the command of the expedition. Azov was a very strong fortress and was
defended by a numerous garrison. It was found necessary to invest the
place and commence a regular siege. A foreign officer from Dantzic, by
the name of Jacob, had the direction of the battering train. For some
violation of military etiquette, he had been condemned to ignominious
punishment. The Russians were accustomed to such treatment, but
Jacob, burning with revenge, spiked his guns, deserted, joined the
enemy, adopted the Mussulman faith, and with great vigor conducted the

Jacob was a man of much military science, and he succeeded in
thwarting all the efforts of the besiegers. In the attempt to storm
the town the Russians were repulsed with great loss, and at length
were compelled to raise the siege and to retire. But Peter was not a
man to yield to difficulties. The next summer he was found before
Azov, with a still more formidable force. In this attempt the tzar was
successful, and on the 28th of July the garrison surrendered without
obtaining any of the honors of war. Elated with success Peter
increased the fortifications, dug a harbor capable of holding large
ships, and prepared to fit out a strong fleet against the Turks; which
fleet was to consist of nine sixty gun ships, and forty-one of from
thirty to fifty guns. While the fleet was being built he returned to
Moscow, and to impress his subjects with a sense of the great victory
obtained, he marched the army into Moscow beneath triumphal arches,
while the whole city was surrendered to all the demonstrations of joy.
Characteristically Peter refused to take any of the credit of the
victory which had been gained by the skill and valor of his generals.
These officers consequently took the precedency of their sovereign in
the triumphal procession, Peter declaring that merit was the only road
to military preferment, and that, as yet, he had attained no rank in
the army. In imitation of the ancient Romans, the captives taken in
the war were led in the train of the victors. The unfortunate Jacob
was carried in a cart, with a rope about his neck, and after being
broken upon the wheel was ignominiously hung.



From 1697 to 1702.

Young Russians Sent to Foreign Countries.--The Tzar Decides Upon a
Tour of Observation.--His Plan of Travel.--Anecdote.--Peter's Mode of
Life in Holland.--Characteristic Anecdotes.--The Presentation of the
Embassador.--The Tzar Visits England.--Life at Deptford.--Illustrious
Foreigners Engaged in His Service.--Peter Visits Vienna.--The Game of
Landlord.--Insurrection in Moscow.--Return of the Tzar, and Measures
of Severity.--War with Sweden.--Disastrous Defeat of Narva.--Efforts
to Secure the Shores of the Baltic.--Designs Upon the Black Sea.

It was a source of mortification to the tzar that he was dependent
upon foreigners for the construction of his ships. He accordingly sent
sixty young Russians to the sea-ports of Venice and Leghorn, in Italy,
to acquire the art of ship-building, and to learn scientific and
practical navigation. Soon after this he sent forty more to Holland
for the same purpose. He sent also a large number of young men to
Germany, to learn the military discipline of that warlike people.

He now adopted the extraordinary resolve of traveling himself,
_incognito_, through most of the countries of Europe, that he might
see how they were governed, and might become acquainted with the
progress they had made in the arts and sciences. In this European tour
he decided to omit Spain, because the arts there were but little
cultivated, and France, because he disliked the pompous ceremonials of
the court of Louis XIV. His plan of travel was as ingenuous as it was
odd. An extraordinary embassage was sent by him, as Emperor of Russia,
to all the leading courts of Europe. These embassadors received minute
instructions, and were fitted out for their expedition with splendor
which should add to the renown of the Russian monarchy. Peter
followed in the retinue of this embassage as a private gentleman of
wealth, with the servants suitable for his station.

Three nobles of the highest dignity were selected as embassadors.
Their retinue consisted of four secretaries, twelve gentlemen, two
pages for each embassador, and a company of fifty of the royal guard.
The whole embassage embraced two hundred persons. The tzar was lost to
view in this crowd. He reserved for himself one valet de chambre, one
servant in livery, and a dwarf. "It was," says Voltaire, "a thing
unparalleled in history, either ancient or modern, for a sovereign, of
five and twenty years of age, to withdraw from his kingdoms, only to
learn the art of government." The regency, during his absence, was
entrusted to two of the lords in whom he reposed confidence, who were
to consult, in cases of importance, with the rest of the nobility.
General Gordon, the Scotch officer, was placed in command of four
thousand of the royal troops, to secure the peace of the capital.

The embassadors commenced their journey in April, 1697. Passing
directly west from Moscow to Novgorod, they thence traversed the
province of Livonia until they reached Riga, at the mouth of the
Dwina. Peter was anxious to examine the important fortifications of
this place, but the governor peremptorily forbade it, Riga then
belonging to Sweden. Peter did not forget the affront. Continuing
their journey, they arrived at Konigsburg, the capital of the feeble
electorate of Brandenburg, which has since grown into the kingdom of
Prussia. The elector, an ambitious man, who subsequently took the
title of king, received them with an extravagant display of splendor.
At one of the bacchanalian feasts, given on the occasion, the bad and
good qualities of Peter were very conspicuously displayed. Heated with
wine, and provoked by a remark made by La Fort, who was one of his
embassadors, he drew his sword and called upon La Fort to defend
himself. The embassador humbly bowed, folded his hands upon his
breast, and said,

"Far be it from me. Rather let me perish by the hand of my master."
The tzar, enraged and intoxicated, raised his arm to strike, when one
of the retinue seized the uplifted hand and averted the blow. Peter
immediately recovered his self-possession, and sheathing his sword
said to his embassador,

"I ask your pardon. It is my great desire to reform my subjects, and
yet I am ashamed to confess that I am unable to reform myself."

From Konigsburg they continued their route to Berlin, and thence to
Hamburg, near the mouth of the Elbe, which was, even then, an
important maritime town. They then turned their steps towards
Amsterdam. As soon as they reached Emmeric, on the Rhine, the tzar,
impatient of the slow progress of the embassage, forsook his
companions, and hiring a small boat, sailed down the Rhine and
proceeded to Amsterdam, reaching that city fifteen days before the
embassy. "He flew through the city," says one of the annalists of
those days, "like lightning," and proceeded to a small but active
sea-port town on the coast, Zaandam. The first person they saw here
was a man fishing from a small skiff, at a short distance from the
shore. The tzar, who was dressed like a common Dutch skipper, in a red
jacket and white linen trowsers, hailed the man, and engaged lodgings
of him, consisting of two small rooms with a loft over them, and an
adjoining shed. Strangely enough, this man, whose name was Kist, had
been in Russia working as a smith, and he knew the tzar. He was
strictly enjoined on no account to let it be known who his lodger was.

A group soon gathered around the strangers, with many questions. Peter
told them that they were carpenters and laborers from a foreign
country in search of work. But no one believed this, for the
attendants of the tzar still wore the rich robes which constituted the
costume of Russia. With sympathy as beautiful as it is rare, Peter
called upon several families of ship carpenters who had worked for him
and with him at Archangel, and to some of these families he gave
valuable presents, which he said that the tzar of Russia had sent to
them. He clothed himself, and ordered his companions to clothe
themselves, in the ordinary dress of the dockyard, and purchasing
carpenters' tools they all went vigorously to work.

The next day was the Sabbath. The arrival of these strangers, so
peculiar in aspect and conduct, was noised abroad, and when Peter
awoke in the morning he was greatly annoyed by finding a large crowd
assembled before his door. Indeed the rumor of the Russian embassage,
and that the tzar himself was to accompany it, had already reached
Amsterdam, and it was shrewdly suspected that these strangers were in
some way connected with the expected arrival of the embassadors. One
of the barbers in Amsterdam had received from a ship carpenter in
Archangel a portrait of the tzar, which had been for some time hanging
in his shop. He was with the crowd around the door. The moment his eye
rested upon Peter, he exclaimed, with astonishment, "_that is the
tzar!_" His form, features and character were all so marked that he
could not easily be mistaken.

No further efforts were made at concealment, though Peter was often
very much annoyed by the crowds who followed his footsteps and watched
all his actions. He was persuaded to change his lodgings to more
suitable apartments, though he still wore his workman's dress and
toiled in the ship-yard with energy, and also with skill which no one
could surpass. The extraordinary rapidity of his motions astonished
and amused the Dutch. "Such running, jumping and clambering over the
shipping," they said, "we never witnessed before." To the patriarch in
Moscow he wrote,

"I am living in obedience to the commands of God, which were spoken to
father Adam: '_In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread._'"

Very many anecdotes are related of Peter during this portion of his
life, which, though they may be apochryphal, are very characteristic
of his eccentric nature. At one time he visited a celebrated iron
manufactory, and forged himself several bars of iron, directing his
companions to assist him in the capacity of journeymen blacksmiths.
Upon the bars he forged, he put his own mark, and then he demanded of
Muller, the proprietor, payment for his work, at the same rate he paid
other workmen. Having received eighteen _altins_, he said, looking at
the patched shoes on his feet,

"This will serve me to buy a pair of shoes, of which I stand in great
need. I have earned them well, by the sweat of my brow, with hammer
and anvil."

When the embassadors entered Amsterdam, Peter thought it proper to
take a part in the procession, which was arranged in the highest style
of magnificence. The three embassadors rode first, followed by a long
train of carriages, with servants in rich livery on foot. The tzar,
dressed as a private gentleman, was in one of the last carriages in
the train of his embassadors. The eyes of the populace searched for
him in vain. From this fête he returned eagerly to his work, with saw,
hammer and adz, at Zaandam. He persisted in living like the rest of
the workmen, rising early, building his own fire, and often cooking
his own meals. One of the inhabitants of Zaandam thus describes his
appearance at that time:

"The tzar is very tall and robust, quick and nimble of foot, dexterous
and rapid in all his actions. His face is plump and round; fierce in
his look, with brown eyebrows, and short, curly hair of a brownish
color. He is quick in his gait, swinging his arms, and holding in one
of them a cane."

The Dutch were so much interested in him, that a regular diary was
kept in Zaandam of all he said and did. Those who were in daily
intercourse with him preserved a memorandum of all that occurred. He
was generally called by the name of Master Peter. While hard at work
in the ship-yard, he received intelligence of troubles in Poland. The
renowned king, John Sobieski, died in 1696. The electors were divided
in the choice of a successor. Augustus II., Elector of Saxony, by
means of bribes and his army, obtained the vote. But there was great
dissatisfaction, and a large party of the nation rallied around the
prince of Conti, the rival candidate. Peter, learning these facts,
immediately sent word, from his carpenter's shop, to Augustus,
offering to send an army of thirty thousand men to his assistance. He
frequently went from Zaandam to Amsterdam, to attend the anatomical
lectures of the celebrated Ruisch. His thirst for knowledge appeared
to be universal and insatiable. He even performed, himself, several
surgical operations. He also studied natural philosophy under Witsen.
Most minds would have been bewildered by such a multiplicity of
employments, but his mental organization was of that peculiar class
which grasps and retains all within its reach. He worked at the forge,
in the rope-walks, at the sawing mills, and in the manufactures for
wire drawing, making paper and extracting oil.

While at Zaandam, Peter finished a sixty gun ship, upon which he had
worked diligently from the laying of the keel. As the Russians then
had no harbor in the Baltic, this ship was sent to Archangel, on the
shores of the White Sea. Peter also engaged a large number of French
refugees, and Swiss and German artists, to enter his service and sent
them to Moscow. Whenever he found a mechanic whose work testified to
superior skill, he would secure him at almost any price and send him
to Moscow. To geography he devoted great attention, and even then
devised the plan of uniting the Caspian and the Black Sea by a ship

Early in January, 1698, Peter, having passed nine months at Zaandam,
left for the Hague. King William III. sent his yacht to the Hague, to
convey the tzar to England, with a convoy of two ships of war. Peter
left the Hague on the 18th of January, and arrived in London on the
21st. Though he attempted here no secrecy as to his rank, he
requested to be treated only as a private gentleman. A large mansion
was engaged for him, near the royal navy yard at Deptford, a small
town upon the Thames, about four miles from London. The London
Postman, one of the leading metropolitan journals of that day, thus
announces this extraordinary visit:

"The tzar of Muscovy, desiring to raise the glory of his nation, and
avenge the Christians of all the injuries they have received from the
Turks, has abrogated the wild manners of his predecessors, and having
concluded, from the behavior of his engineers and officers, who were
sent him by the Elector of Brandenburg, that the western nations of
Europe understood the art of war better than others, he resolved to
take a journey thither, and not wholly to rely upon the relations
which his embassadors might give him; and, at the same time, to send a
great number of his nobility into those parts through which he did not
intend to travel, that he might have a complete idea of the affairs of
Europe, and enrich his subjects with the arts of all other Christian
nations; and as navigation is the most useful invention that ever was
yet found out, he seems to have chosen it as his own part in the
general inquiry he is about. His design is certainly very noble, and
discovers the greatness of his genius. But the model he has proposed
himself to imitate is a convincing proof of his extraordinary
judgment; for what other prince, in the world, was a fitter pattern
for the great Emperor of Muscovy, than William the Third, King of
Great Britain?"[11]

[Footnote 11: Postman, No. 417.]

In London and Deptford Peter followed essentially the same mode of
life which he had adopted in Amsterdam. There was not a single article
belonging to a ship, from the casting of a cannon to the making of
cables, to which he did not devote special attention. He also devoted
some time to watch making. A number of English artificers, and also
several literary and scientific gentlemen from England, were taken
into his service. He made arrangements with a distinguished Scotch
geometrician and two mathematicians from Christ Church hospital, to
remove to Moscow, who laid the foundation in Russia of the Marine
Academy. To astronomy, the calculation of eclipses, and the laws of
gravitation he devoted much thought, guided by the most scientific men
England could then produce. Perry, an English engineer, was sent to
Russia to survey a route for a ship canal from the ocean to the
Caspian and from the Caspian to the Black Sea. A company of merchants
paid the tzar seventy-five thousand dollars for permission to import
tobacco into Russia. The sale of this narcotic had heretofore been
discouraged in Russia, by the church, as demoralizing in its tendency
and inducing untidy habits. Peter was occasionally induced to attend
the theater, but he had no relish for that amusement. He visited the
various churches and observed the mode of conducting religious worship
by the several sects.

Before leaving England the tzar was entertained by King William with
the spectacle of a sham sea fight. In this scene Peter was in his
element, and in the excess of his delight he declared that an English
admiral must be a happier man than even the tzar of Russia. His
Britannic majesty made his guest also a present of a beautiful yacht,
called the Royal Transport. In this vessel Peter returned to Holland,
in May, 1698, having passed four months in England. He took with him
quite a colony of emigrants, consisting of three captains of men of
war, twenty-five captains of merchant ships, forty lieutenants, thirty
pilots, thirty surgeons, two hundred and fifty gunners, and three
hundred artificers. These men from Holland sailed in the Royal
Transport to Archangel, from whence they were sent to different places
where their services were needed. The officers whom the tzar sent to
Italy, also led back to Russia many artists from that country.

From Holland the Emperor of Russia, with his suite, repaired to Vienna
to observe the military discipline of the Germans, who had then the
reputation of being the best soldiers in Europe. He also wished to
enter into a closer alliance with the Austrian court as his natural
ally against the Turks. Peter, however, insisted upon laying aside all
the ceremonials of royalty, and, as a private person, held an
interview with the Emperor Leopold.

Nothing of especial interest occurred during the brief residence of
Peter in Vienna. The Emperor of Germany paid the tzar every possible
attention which could be conferred upon one who had the strongest
reluctance to be gazed upon, or to take part in any parade. For the
amusement of the tzar the emperor revived the ancient game of
landlord. The royal game is as follows. The emperor is landlord, the
empress landlady, the heir apparent to the throne, the archdukes and
archduchesses are generally their assistants. They entertain people of
all nations, dressed after the most ancient fashion of their
respective countries. The invited guests draw lots for tickets, on
each of which is written the name or the nation of the character they
are to represent. One is a Chinese mandarin, another a Persian mirza,
another a Roman senator. A queen perhaps represents a dairy maid or a
nursery girl. A king or prince represents a miller, a peasant or a
soldier. Characteristic amusements are introduced. The landlord and
landlady, with their family, wait upon the table.

On this occasion the emperor's eldest son, Joseph, who was the heir
apparent, represented, with the Countess of Traun, the ancient
Egyptians. His brother, the Archduke Charles, and the Countess of
Walstein appeared as Flemings in the reign of Charles V. His sister
Mary and Count Fraun were Tartars. Josephine, another daughter of
Leopold, with the Count of Workla, represented Persians. Marianne, a
third daughter, and Prince Maximilian of Hanover were North Holland
peasants. Peter presented himself as a Friesland boor, a character, we
regret to say, which the tzar could personify without making the
slightest change in his usual habits, for Peter was quite a stranger
to the graces of the polished gentleman.

This game seems to have been quite a favorite in the Austrian court.
Maria Antoinette introduced it to Versailles. The tourist is still
shown the dairy where that unhappy queen made butter and cheese, the
mill where Louis XVI. ground his grist, and the mimic village tavern
where the King and Queen of France, as landlord and landlady, received
their guests.

Peter was just leaving Vienna to go to Venice when he received
intelligence that a rebellion had broken out in Moscow. His ambitious
sister Sophia, who had been placed with a shaven head in the cloisters
of a monastery, took advantage of the tzar's absence to make another
attempt to regain the crown. She represented that the nation was in
danger of being overrun with foreigners, that their ancient customs
would all be abolished, and that their religion would be subverted.
She involved several of the clergy in her plans, and a band of eight
thousand insurgents were assembled, who commenced their march towards
Moscow, hoping to rouse the metropolis to unite with them. General
Gordon, whom Peter had left in command of the royal guard, met them,
and a battle ensued in which a large number of the insurgents were
slain, and the rest were taken prisoners and conducted to the capital.
Hearing these tidings Peter abandoned all plans for visiting Italy,
and set out impetuously for Moscow, and arrived at the Kremlin before
it was known that he had left Germany.

Peter was a rough, stern man, and he determined to punish the abettors
of this rebellion with severity, which should appall all the
discontented. General Gordon, in the battle, had slain three thousand
of the insurgents and had taken five thousand captive. These prisoners
he had punished, decimating them by lot and hanging every tenth man.
Peter rewarded magnificently the royal guard, and then commenced the
terrible chastisement of all who were judged guilty of sympathizing in
the conspiracy. Some were broken on the wheel and then beheaded.
Others were hung in chains, on gibbets near the gates of the city, and
left, frozen as solid as marble, to swing in the wind through the long
months of winter. Stone monuments were erected, on which were engraved
the names, the crimes and the punishment of the rebels. A large number
were banished to Siberia, to Astrachan, and to the shores of the Sea
of Azof. The entire corps of the _strelitzes_ was abolished, and their
place supplied by the new guard, marshaled and disciplined on the
model of the German troops. The long and cumbersome robes which had
been in fashion were exchanged for a uniform better adapted for rapid
motion. The sons of the nobles were compelled to serve in the ranks as
common soldiers before they could be promoted to be officers. Many of
the young nobles were sent to the tzar's fleet in the Sea of Azof to
serve their apprenticeship for the navy. The revenue of the empire had
thus far been raised by the payment of a stipulated sum from each
noble according to his amount of land. The noble collected this sum
from his vassals or bondmen; but they often failed of paying in the
amount demanded. Peter took now the collection of the revenue into his
own hands, appointing officers for that purpose.

Reforms in the church he also undertook. The patriarch, Adrian, who
was the pope of the Greek church, dying about this time, Peter
declared that he should have no successor. Virtually assuming the
authority of the head of the church, he gathered the immense revenues
of the patriarchal see into the royal treasury. Though professedly
intrusting the government of the church to the bishops, he controlled
them with despotism which could brook no opposition. Anxious to
promote the population of his vast empire, so sparsely inhabited, he
caused a decree to be issued, that all the clergy, of every, grade,
should be married; and that whenever one of the clergy lost a wife his
clerical functions should cease until he obtained another. Regarding
the monastic vow, which consigned young men and young women to a life
of indolence in the cloister, as alike injurious to morality and to
the interests of the State, he forbade any one from taking that vow
until after the age of fifty had been passed. This salutary regulation
has since his time been repealed.

The year, in Russia, had for ages commenced with the 1st of September.
Peter ordered that, in conformity with the custom in the rest of
Europe, the year should commence with the 1st of January. This
alteration took place in the year 1700, and was celebrated with the
most imposing solemnities. The national dress of the Russians was a
long flowing robe, which required no skill in cutting or making.
Razors were also scarce, and every man wore his beard. The tzar
ordered long robes and beards to be laid aside. No man was admitted to
the palace without a neatly shaven face. Throughout the empire a
penalty was imposed upon any one who persisted in wearing his beard. A
smooth face thus became in Russia, and has continued, to the present
day, the badge of culture and refinement. Peter also introduced social
parties, to which ladies with their daughters were invited, dressed in
the fashions of southern Europe.

Heretofore, whenever a Russian addressed the tzar, he always said,
"Your _slave_ begs," etc. Peter abolished this word, and ordered
_subject_ to be used instead. Public inns were established on the
highways, and relays of horses for the convenience of travelers.
Conscious of the power of splendor to awe the public mind, he added
very considerably to the magnificence of his court, and instituted an
order of knighthood. In all these measures Peter wielded the energies
of an unrelenting despotism, and yet of a despotism which was
constantly devoted, not to his own personal aggrandizement, but to the
welfare of his country.

The tzar established his great ship-yard at Voronise, on the Don, from
which place he could float his ships down to the Sea of Azof, hoping
to establish there a fleet which would soon give him the command of
the Black Sea. In March, 1699, he had thirty-six ships launched and
rigged, carrying each from thirty to sixty guns; and there were then
twenty more ships on the stocks. There were, also, either finished or
in process of construction, eighteen large galleys, one hundred
smaller brigantines, seven bomb ships and four fire ships. At the same
time Peter was directing his attention to the Volga and the Caspian,
and still more vigorously to the Baltic, upon whose shores he had
succeeded in obtaining a foothold.

And now the kingdom of Sweden came, with a rush, into the political
arena. Poland had ceded to Sweden nearly the whole of Livonia. The
Livonians were very much dissatisfied with the administration of the
government under Charles XI., and sent a deputation to Stockholm to
present respectful remonstrances. The indignant king consigned all of
the deputation, consisting of eight gentlemen, to prison, and
condemned the leader, John Patgul, to an ignominious death. Patgul
escaped from prison, and hastening to Poland, urged the new sovereign,
Augustus, to reconquer the province of Livonia, which Poland had lost,
assuring him the Livonians would aid with all their energies to throw
off the Swedish yoke. Patgul hastened from Poland to Moscow, and urged
Peter to unite with Augustus, in a war against Sweden, assuring him
that thus he could easily regain the provinces of Ingria and Carelia,
which Sweden had wrested from his ancestors. Denmark also, under its
new sovereign, Frederic IV., was induced to enter into the alliance
with Russia and Poland against Sweden. Just at that time, Charles XI.
died, and his son, Charles XII., a young man of eighteen, ascended the
throne. The youth and inexperience of the new monarch encouraged the
allies in the hope that they might make an easy conquest.

Charles XII., a man of indomitable, of maniacal energy, and who
speedily infused into his soldiers his own spirit, came down upon
Denmark like northern wolves into southern flocks and herds. In less
than six weeks the war was terminated and the Danes thoroughly
humbled. Then with his fleet of thirty sail of the line and a vast
number of transports, he crossed the Baltic, entered the Gulf of
Finland, and marching over ice and snow encountered the Russians at
Narva, a small town about eighty miles south-west of the present site
of the city of St. Petersburg. The Russians were drawn up eighty
thousand strong, behind intrenchments lined with one hundred and
forty-five pieces of artillery; Charles XII. had but nine thousand
men. Taking advantage of one of the fiercest of wintry storms, which
blew directly into the faces of the Russians, smothering them with
snow and sleet mingled with smoke, and which concealed both the
numbers and the movements of the Swedes, Charles XII. hurled his
battalions with such impetuosity upon the foe, that in less than an
hour the camp was taken by storm. One of the most awful routs known in
the annals of war ensued. The Swedes toiled to utter exhaustion in
cutting down the flying fugitives. Thirty thousand Russians perished
on that bloody field. Nearly all of the remainder were taken captive,
with all their artillery. Disarmed and with uncovered heads, thirty
thousand of these prisoners defiled before the victorious king.[12]

[Footnote 12: These are the numbers as accurately as they can now be
ascertained by the most careful sifting of the contradictory accounts.
The forces of the Russians have been variously estimated at from forty
thousand to one hundred thousand. That the Swedes had but nine
thousand is admitted on all hands.]

Peter, the day before this disastrous battle, had left the
intrenchments at Narva to go to Novgorod, ostensibly to hasten forward
the march of some reinforcements. When Peter was informed of the
annihilation of his army he replied, with characteristic coolness,

"I know very well that the Swedes will have the advantage of us for a
considerable time; but they will teach us, at length, to beat them."

He immediately collected the fragments of his army at Novgorod, and
repairing to Moscow issued orders for a certain proportion of the
bells of the churches and convents throughout the empire to be cast
into cannon and mortars. In a few months one hundred pieces of cannon
for sieges, and forty-two field pieces, with twelve mortars and
thirteen howitzers, were sent to the army, which was rapidly being
rendezvoused at Novgorod.

Charles XII., having struck this terrific blow, left the tzar to
recover as best he could, and turned his attention to Poland, resolved
to hurl Augustus from the throne. Peter himself hurried to Poland to
encourage Augustus to the most vigorous prosecution of the war,
promising to send him speedily twenty thousand troops. In the midst of
these disasters and turmoil, the tzar continued to prosecute his plans
for the internal improvement of his empire, and commenced the vast
enterprise of digging a canal which should unite the waters of the
Baltic with the Caspian, first, by connecting the Don with the Volga,
and then by connecting the Don with the Dwina, which empties into the
Baltic near Riga.

War continued to rage very fiercely for many months between the Swedes
on one side, and Russia and Poland on the other, Charles XII. gaining
almost constant victories. The Swedes so signally proved their
superiority in these conflicts, that when, on one occasion, eight
thousand Russians repulsed four thousand Swedes, the tzar said,

"Well, we have at last beaten the Swedes, when we were two to one
against them. We shall by and by be able to face them man to man."

In these conflicts, it was the constant aim of Peter to get a foothold
upon the shores of the Baltic, that he might open to his empire the
advantages of commerce. He launched a large fleet upon Lake Ladoga, a
large inland sea, which, by the river Neva, connects with the Gulf of
Finland. The fleets of Sweden penetrated these remote waters, and for
months their solitudes resounded with the roar of naval conflicts. We
can not refrain from recording the heroic conduct of Colonel
Schlippenbuch, the Swedish commander of the town of Notteburg, on this
lake. The town was invested by a large Russian army. For a month the
Russians battered the town night and day, until it presented the
aspect of a pile of ruins, and the garrison was reduced to one hundred
men. Yet, so indomitable was this little band, that, standing in the
breaches, they extorted honorable terms of capitulation from their
conqueror. They would not surrender but on condition of being allowed
to send for two Swedish officers, who should examine their remaining
means of defense, and inform their master, Charles XII., that it was
impossible for them any longer to preserve the town.

Peter was a man of too strong sense to be elated and vainglorious in
view of such success. He knew full well that Charles XII., since the
battle of Narva, looked with utter contempt upon the Russian soldiers,
and he was himself fully conscious of the vast superiority of the
Swedish troops. But while Charles XII., with a monarch's energies, was
battering down the fortresses and cutting to pieces the armies of
Poland, Peter had gained several victories over small detachments of
Swedish troops left in Russia. To inspire his soldiers with more
confidence, he ordered a very magnificent celebration of these
victories in Moscow. It was one of the most gorgeous fête days the
metropolis had ever witnessed. The Swedish banners, taken in several
conflicts on sea and land, were borne in front of the procession,
while all the prisoners, taken in the campaign, were marched in
humiliation in the train of the victors.

While thus employed, the stern, indefatigable tzar was pressing
forward the building of his fleet on the Don for the conquest of the
Black Sea, and was unwearied in his endeavors to promote the elevation
of his still semi-barbaric realms, by the introduction of the
sciences, the arts, the manufactures and the social refinements of
southern Europe.



From 1702 TO 1718.

Peter takes Lake Lagoda and the Neva.--Foundation of St.
Petersburg.--Conquest of Livonia.--Marienburg Taken by Storm.--The
Empress Catharine.--Extraordinary Efforts in Building St.
Petersburg.--Threat of Charles XII.--Deposition of
Augustus.--Enthronement of Stanislaus.--Battle of Pultowa.--Flight of
Charles XII. to Turkey.--Increased Renown of Russia.--Disastrous
Conflict with the Turks.--Marriage of Alexis.--His Character.--Death
of his Wife.--The Empress Acknowledged.--Conquest of Finland.--Tour
of the Tzar to Southern Europe.

Charles XII., despising the Russians, devoted all his energies to the
humiliation of Augustus of Poland, resolving to pursue him until he
had driven him for ever from his throne. Peter was thus enabled to get
the command of the lake of Ladoga, and of the river Neva, which
connects that lake with the Baltic. He immediately laid the
foundations of a city, St. Petersburg, to be his great commercial
emporium, at the mouth of the Neva, near the head of the Gulf of
Finland. The land was low and marshy, but in other respects the
location was admirable. Its approaches could easily be defended
against any naval attack, and water communications were opened with
the interior through the Neva and lake Ladoga.

Livonia was a large province, about the size of the State of Maine,
nearly encircled by the Gulf of Riga, the Baltic, the Gulf of Finland
and Lake Tchude. The possession of this province, which contained some
five hundred thousand inhabitants, was essential to Peter in the
prosecution of his commercial enterprises. During the prosecution of
this war the small town of Marienburg, on the confines of Livonia,
situated on the shores of a lake, was taken by storm. The town was
utterly destroyed and nearly all the inhabitants slain, a few only
being taken prisoners. The Russian commanding officer saw among these
captives a young girl of extraordinary beauty, who was weeping
bitterly. Attracted by such rare loveliness and uncontrollable grief
he called her to him, and learned from her that she was born in a
village in the vicinity on the borders of the lake; that she had never
known her father, and that her mother died when she was but three
years of age. The protestant minister of Marienburg, Dr. Gluck,
chancing to see her one day, and ascertaining that she was left an
orphan and friendless, received her into his own house, and cherished
her with true parental tenderness.

The very evening before the town of Marienburg was assaulted and taken
by storm, she was married to a young Livonian sergeant, a very
excellent young man, of reputable family and possessing a little
property. In the horrors of the tempest of war which immediately
succeeded the nuptial ceremonies, her husband was slain, and as his
body could never be found, it probably was consumed in the flames,
which laid the town in ashes. General Boyer, moved with compassion,
took her under his protection. He ascertained that her character had
always been irreproachable, and he ever maintained that she continued
to be a pattern of virtue. She was but seventeen years of age when
Peter saw her. Her beauty immediately vanquished him. His wife he had
repudiated after a long disagreement, and she had retired to a
convent. Peter took the lovely child, still a child in years, under
his own care, and soon privately married her, with how much sacredness
of nuptial rites is not now known. Such was the early history of
Catharine, who subsequently became the recognized and renowned Empress
of Russia.

"That a poor stranger," says Voltaire, "who had been discovered amid
the ruins of a plundered town, should become the absolute sovereign
of that very empire into which she was led captive, is an incident
which fortune and merit have never before produced in the annals of
the world."

The city of Petersburg was founded on the 22d of May, 1703, on a
desert and marshy spot of ground, in the sixtieth degree of latitude.
The first building was a fort which now stands in the center of the
city. Though Peter was involved in all the hurry and confusion of war,
he devoted himself with marvelous energy to the work of rearing an
imperial city upon the bogs and the swamps of the Neva. It required
the merciless vigor of despotism to accomplish such an enterprise.
Workmen were marched by thousands from Kesan, from Astrachan, from the
Ukraine, to assist in building the city. No difficulties, no obstacles
were allowed to impede the work. The tzar had a low hut, built of
plank, just sufficient to shelter him from the weather, where he
superintended the operations. This hut is still preserved as one of
the curiosities of St. Petersburg. In less than a year thirty thousand
houses were reared, and these were all crowded by the many thousands
Peter had ordered to the rising city, from all parts of the empire.
Death made terrible ravages among them; but the remote provinces
furnished an abundant supply to fill the places of the dead. Exposure,
toil, and the insalubrity of the marshy ground, consigned one hundred
thousand to the grave during this first year.

The morass had to be drained, and the ground raised by bringing earth
from a distance. Wheelbarrows were not in use there, and the laborers
conveyed the earth in baskets, bags and even in the skirts of their
clothes, scooping it up with their hands and with wooden paddles. The
tzar always manifested great respect for the outward observances of
religion, and was constant in his attendance upon divine service. As
we have mentioned, the first building the tzar erected was a fort, the
second was a church, the third a hotel. In the meantime private
individuals were busily employed, by thousands, in putting up shops
and houses. The city of Amsterdam was essentially the model upon which
St. Petersburg was built. The wharves, the canals, the bridges and the
rectangular streets lined with trees were arranged by architects
brought from the Dutch metropolis. When Charles XII. was informed of
the rapid progress the tzar was making in building a city on the banks
of the Neva, he said,

"Let him amuse himself as he thinks fit in building his city. I shall
soon find time to take it from him and to put his wooden houses in a

Five months had not passed away, from the commencement of operations
upon these vast morasses at the mouth of the Neva, ere, one day, it
was reported to the tzar that a large ship under Dutch colors was in
full sail entering the harbor. Peter was overjoyed at this realization
of the dearest wish of his heart. With ardor he set off to meet the
welcome stranger. He found that the ship had been sent by one of his
old friends at Zaandam. The cargo consisted of salt, wine and
provisions generally. The cargo was landed free from all duties and
was speedily sold to the great profit of the owners. To protect his
capital, Peter immediately commenced his defenses at Cronstadt, about
thirty miles down the bay. From that hour until this, Russia has been
at work upon those fortifications, and they can now probably bid
defiance to all the navies of the world.

Charles XII., sweeping Poland with fire and the sword, drove Augustus
out of the kingdom to his hereditary electorate of Saxony, and then,
convening the Polish nobles, caused Stanislaus Leszczynski, one of his
own followers, to be elected sovereign, and sustained him on the
throne by all the power of the Swedish armies.[13] The Swedish warrior
now fitted out a fleet for the destruction of Cronstadt and
Petersburg. The defense of the province was intrusted to Menzikoff.
This man subsequently passed through a career so full of vicissitudes
that a sketch of his varied life thus far seems important. He was the
son of one of the humblest of the peasants living in the vicinity of
Moscow. When but thirteen years of age he was taken into the service
of a pastry cook to sell pies and cakes about the streets, and he was
accustomed to attract customers by singing jocular songs. The tzar
chanced to hear him one day, and, diverted by his song and struck by
his bright, intelligent appearance, called for the boy, and offered to
purchase his whole stock, both cakes and basket.

[Footnote 13: See Empire of Austria, page 382.]

The boy replied,

"It is my business to sell the cakes, and I have no right to sell the
basket without my master's permission. Yet, as every thing belongs to
our prince, your majesty has only to give the command, and it is my
duty to obey."

This adroit, apt answer so pleased the tzar that he took the lad into
his service, giving him at first some humble employment. But being
daily more pleased with his wit and shrewdness, he raised him, step by
step, to the highest preferment. Under the tuition of General Le Fort,
he attained great skill in military affairs, and became one of the
bravest and most successful of the Russian generals.

Early in the spring of 1705 the Swedish fleet, consisting of
twenty-two ships of war, each carrying about sixty guns, besides six
frigates, two bomb ketches and two fire ships, approached Cronstadt.
At the same time a large number of transports landed a strong body of
troops to assail the forts in the rear. This was the most formidable
attack Charles XII. had yet attempted in his wars. Though the Swedes
almost invariably conquered the Russians in the open field, Menzikoff,
from behind his well-constructed redoubts, beat back his assailants,
and St. Petersburg was saved. The summer passed away with many but
undecisive battles, until the storms of the long northern winter
separated the combatants. The state of exasperation was now such that
the most revolting cruelties were perpetrated on both sides.

The campaign of 1706 opened most disastrously to Russia. In four
successive pitched battles the forces of the tzar had been defeated.
Augustus was humbled to the dust, and was compelled to write a letter
to Stanislaus congratulating him upon his accession to the throne. He
also ignominiously consented to deliver up the unfortunate Livonian
noble, Patgul, whose only crime was his love for the rights and
privileges of his country. Charles XII. caused this unhappy noble to
be broken upon the wheel, thus inflicting a stain upon his own
character which can never be effaced. The haughty Swedish monarch
seemed now to be sovereign over all of northern Europe excepting
Russia. Augustus, driven from the throne of Poland, was permitted to
hold the electorate of Saxony only in consequence of his abject
submission to Charles XII. Stanislaus, the new Polish sovereign, was
merely a vassal of Sweden. And even the Emperor Joseph of Germany paid
implicit obedience to the will of a monarch who had such terrible
armies at his command.

Under these circumstances some of the powers endeavored to secure
peace between Sweden and Russia. The French envoy at the court of
Sweden introduced the subject. Charles XII. proudly replied, "I shall
treat with the tzar in the city of Moscow."

Peter, being informed of this boast and threat, remarked, "My brother
Charles wants to act the part of Alexander, but he shall not find in
me a Darius."

Charles XII., from his triumphant invasion of Saxony, marched with an
army of forty-five thousand men through Poland, which was utterly
desolated by war, and crossing the frontiers of Russia, directed his
march to Moscow. Driving all opposition before him, he arrived upon
the banks of the Dnieper, and without much difficulty effected the
passage of the stream. Peter himself, with Menzikoff, now hastened to
the theater of conflict, and summoned his mightiest energies to repel
the foe. Battle after battle ensued with varying results. But the
situation of the Swedish conqueror was fast growing desperate. He was
far from home. His regiments were daily diminishing beneath the
terrible storms of war, while recruits were pouring in, from all
directions, to swell the ranks of the tzar. It was the month of
December. The villages had been all burned and the country turned into
a desert. The cold was so intense that on one particular march two
thousand men dropped down dead in their ranks. The wintry storms soon
became so severe that both parties were compelled to remain for some
time in inaction. Every poor peasant, within fifty miles, was robbed
by detachments of starving soldiers.

The moment the weather permitted, both armies were again in action.
Charles XII. had taken a circuitous route towards Moscow, through the
Ukraine, hoping to rouse the people of this region to join his
standards. This plan, however, proved an utter failure. About the
middle of June the two armies, led by their respective sovereigns, met
at Pultowa, upon the Worskla, near its point of junction with the
Dnieper, about four hundred miles south of Moscow. Several days were
passed in maneuvering and skirmishing in preparation for a decisive
struggle. It was evident to all Europe that the great battle to ensue
would decide the fate of Russia, Poland and Sweden. Thirty thousand
war-worn veterans were marshaled under the banners of Charles XII. The
tzar led sixty thousand troops into the conflict. Fully aware of the
superiority of the Swedish troops, he awaited the attack of his
formidable foe behind his redoubts. In one of the skirmishes, two days
before the great battle, a bullet struck Charles XII., shattering the
bone of his heel. It was an exceedingly painful wound, which was
followed by an equally painful operation. Though the indomitable
warrior was suffering severely, he caused himself to be borne in a
litter to the head of his troops, and led the charge. The attack upon
the intrenchments was made with all the characteristic impetuosity of
these demoniac fighters. Notwithstanding the storm of grape shot
which was hurled into their faces, covering the ground with the
mangled and the dead, two of the redoubts were taken, and shouts of
victory ran along the lines of the Swedes.

The action continued with fiend-like ferocity for two hours. Charles
XII., with a pistol in his hand, was borne on his litter from rank to
rank, animating his troops, until a cannon ball, striking down one of
his bearers, also shattered the litter into fragments, and dashed the
bandaged monarch to the ground. With as much calmness as though this
were an ordinary, everyday occurrence, Charles ordered his guards
immediately to make another litter with their pikes. He was placed
upon it, and continued to direct the battle, paying no more attention
to bullets, balls and bombshells, than if they had been snow flakes.

Peter was equally prodigal of danger. Death in that hour was more
desirable to him than defeat, for Charles XII., victorious, would
march direct to Moscow, and Russia would share the fate of Poland. The
tzar was conspicuous at every point where the battle raged most
fiercely. Several bullets pierced his clothes; one passing through his
hat just grazed the crown of his head. At length, the Swedes,
overpowered by numbers, gave way, and fled in great confusion.
Charles, though agonized by his wound, was compelled to mount on
horseback as the only means of escape from capture. The black hour of
woe came, which sooner or later meets almost every warrior, however
successful for a time his career may be. The blow was fatal to Charles
XII. More than nine thousand of the Swedes were left dead upon the
field of battle. Eighteen thousand were taken prisoners. The Swedish
king, with a few hundred troops in his retinue, cut off from his
retreat towards Sweden, crossed the Dnieper and fled to Turkey. Peter
did not pursue him, but being informed of his desperate resolve to
seek refuge in the territory of the Turks, he magnanimously wrote a
letter to him, urging him not to take so perilous a step, assuring
him, upon his honor, that he would not detain him as a prisoner, but
that all their difficulties should be settled by a reasonable peace. A
special courier was dispatched with this letter, but he could not
overtake the fugitives. When the courier arrived at the river Boy,
which separates the deserts of Ukraine from the territories of the
Grand Seignor, the Swedes had already crossed the river. In the
character of Peter there was a singular compound of magnanimity and of
the most brutal insensibility and mercilessness. He ordered all the
Swedish generals, who were his captives, to be introduced to him,
returned to them their swords and invited them to dine. With a
gracefulness of courtesy rarely surpassed, he offered as a toast the
sentiment, "To the health of my masters in the art of war." And yet,
soon after, he consigned nearly all these captives to the horrors of
Siberian exile.

This utter defeat of Charles XII. produced a sudden revolution in
Poland, Sweden and Saxony. Peter immediately dispatched a large body
of cavalry, under Menzikoff, to Poland, to assist Augustus in
regaining his crown. Soon after, he followed himself, at the head of
an army, and entering Warsaw in triumph, on the 7th of October, 1709,
replaced Augustus upon the throne from which Charles XII. had ejected
him. The whole kingdom acknowledged Peter for their protector. Peter
then marched to the electorate of Brandenburg, which had recently been
elevated into the kingdom of Prussia, and performing the functions of
his own embassador, entered into a treaty with Frederic I.,
grandfather of Frederic the Great. He then returned with all eagerness
to St. Petersburg, and pressed forward the erection of new buildings
and the enlargement of the fleet.

A magnificent festival was here arranged in commemoration of the great
victory of Pultowa. Nine arches were reared, beneath which the
procession marched, in the most gorgeous array of civic and military
pageantry. The artillery of the vanquished, their standards, the
shattered litter of the king, and the vast array of captives, soldiers
and officers, all on foot, followed in the train of the triumphal
procession, while the ringing of bells, the explosion of an hundred
pieces of artillery, and the shouts of an innumerable multitude, added
to the enthusiasm which the scene inspired.

The battle of Pultowa gave Peter great renown throughout Europe, and
added immeasurably to the reputation of Russia. An occurrence had
taken place in London which had deeply offended the tzar, who,
wielding himself the energies of despotism, could form no idea of that
government of law which was irrespective of the will of the sovereign.
The Russian embassador at the court of Queen Anne had been arrested at
the suit of a tradesman in London, and had been obliged to give bail
to save himself from the debtor's prison. Peter, regarding this as a
personal insult, demanded of Queen Anne satisfaction. She expressed
her regret for the occurrence, but stated, that according to the laws
of England, a creditor had a right to sue for his just demands, and
that there was no statute exempting foreign embassadors from being
arrested for debt. Peter, who had no respect for constitutional
liberty, was not at all satisfied with this declaration, but postponed
further action until his conflict with Sweden should be terminated.

Now, in the hour of victory, he turned again to Queen Anne and
demanded reparation for what he deemed the insult offered to his
government. He threatened, in retaliation, to take vengeance upon all
the merchants and British subjects within his dominions. This was an
appalling menace. Queen Anne accordingly sent Lord Whitworth on a
formal embassy to the tzar, with a diplomatic lie in his mouth.
Addressing Peter in the flattering words of "most high and mighty
emperor," he assured him, that the offending tradesman had been
punished with imprisonment and rendered infamous, and that an act of
Parliament should be passed, rendering it no longer lawful to arrest
a foreign embassador. The offender had not been punished, but the act
was subsequently passed.

The acknowledgment, accompanied by such flattering testimonials of
respect, was deemed satisfactory. The tzar had demanded the death of
the offender. Every Englishman must read with pride the declaration of
Queen Anne in reference to this demand.

"There are," said she, "insuperable difficulties with respect to the
ancient and fundamental laws of the government of our people, which we
fear do not _permit_ so severe and rigorous a sentence to be given, as
your imperial majesty first seemed to expect in this case. And we
persuade ourselves that your imperial majesty, who are a prince famous
for clemency and exact justice, will not require us, who are the
_guardian and protector of the laws_, to inflict a punishment on our
subjects which the law does not empower us to do."

The whole of Livonia speedily fell into the hands of the tzar and was
reannexed to Russia. Pestilence, which usually follows in the train of
war, now rose from the putridity of battle fields, and sweeping, like
the angel of death, over the war-scathed and starving inhabitants of
Livonia, penetrated Sweden. Whole provinces were depopulated, and in
Stockholm alone thirty thousand perished. The war of the Spanish
Succession was now raging, and every nation in Europe was engaged in
the work of destruction and butchery. Spain, Portugal, Italy, France,
the German empire, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, were all
in arms, and hundreds of millions of men were directly or indirectly
employed in the work of mutual destruction. The fugitive king, Charles
XII., was endeavoring to enlist the energies of the Ottoman Porte in
his behalf, and the Grand Seignor had promised to throw his armies
also, two hundred thousand strong, into the arena of flame and blood,
and to march for the conquest of Russia.

Peter, conscious of the danger of an attack from Turkey, raised an
army of one hundred and twenty-five thousand men, when he was informed
that the Turks, with a combined army of two hundred and ten thousand
troops, were ravaging the province of Azof. Urging his troops
impetuously onward, he crossed the Pruth and entered Jassi, the
capital of Moldavia. The grand vizier, with an army three times more
numerous, crossed the Danube and advanced to meet him. For three days
the contending hosts poured their shot into each other's bosoms. The
tzar, outnumbered and surrounded, though enabled to hold his position
behind his intrenchments, saw clearly that famine would soon compel
him to surrender. His position was desperate.

Catharine had accompanied her husband on this expedition, and, at her
earnest solicitation, the tzar sent proposals of peace to the grand
vizier, accompanied with a valuable present of money and jewels. The
Turk, dreading the energies which despair might develop in so powerful
a foe, was willing to come into an accommodation, and entered into a
treaty, which, though greatly to the advantage of the Ottoman Porte,
rescued the tzar from the greatest peril in which he had ever been
placed. The grand vizier good-naturedly sent several wagons of
provisions to the camp of his humbled foes, and the Russians returned
to their homes, having lost twenty thousand men.

Alexis, the oldest son of Peter, had ever been a bad boy, and he had
now grown up into an exceedingly dissolute and vicious young man.
Indolent, licentious, bacchanalian in his habits, and overbearing, his
father had often threatened to deprive him of his right of succession,
and to shave his crown and consign him to a convent. Hoping to improve
his character, he urged his marriage, and selected for him a beautiful
princess of Wolfenbuttle, as the possessions of the dukes of Brunswick
were then called. The old ducal castle still stands on the banks of
the Oka about forty miles south-east of Hanover. The princess of
Wolfenbuttle, who was but eighteen years of age, was sister to the
Empress of Germany, consort of Charles VI. The young Russian prince
was dragged very reluctantly to this marriage, for he wished to be
shackled by no such ties. He was the son of Peter's first wife, not of
the Empress Catharine, whom the tzar had now acknowledged. Peter and
Catharine attended these untoward nuptials, which were celebrated in
the palace of the Queen of Poland, in which a princess as lovely in
character as in person was sacrificed to one who made the few
remaining months of her life a continued martyrdom. But little more
than a year had passed after their marriage ere she was brought to bed
of a son. Her heart was already broken, and she was quite unprepared
for the anguish of such an hour. Though the sweetness of her
disposition and the gentleness of her manners had endeared her to all
her household, her husband treated her with the most brutal neglect
and cruelty. Unblushingly he introduced into the palace his
mistresses, and the saloons ever resounded with the uproar of his
drunken companions. The woe-stricken princess, then but twenty years
of age, covered her face with the bed clothes, and, weeping bitterly,
refused to take any nourishment, and begged the physicians to permit
her to die in peace. Intelligence was immediately sent to the tzar of
the confinement of his daughter in-law, and of her dangerous
situation. He hastened to her chamber. The interview was short, but so
affecting that the tzar, losing all self-control, burst into an agony
of grief and wept like a child. The dying princess commended to his
care her babe and her servants, and, as the clock struck the hour of
midnight, her spirit departed, we trust to that world "where the
wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." The orphan
babe was baptized as Peter Alexis, and subsequently, on the death of
the Empress Catharine, became Emperor of Russia.

On the 20th of February, 1712, Peter, who had previously acknowledged
his private marriage with Catharine, had the marriage publicly
solemnized at St. Petersburg with the utmost pomp. Soon after this, to
the inexpressible joy of both parents, Catharine gave birth to a son.
The war with Sweden still continued, notwithstanding Charles XII. was
a fugitive in Turkey unable to return to his own country. Finland, a
vast realm containing one hundred and thirty-five thousand square
miles and almost embraced by the Gulfs of Bothnia and of Finland, then
belonged to Sweden. Peter fitted out an expedition from St. Petersburg
for the conquest of that country. With three hundred ships, conveying
thirteen thousand men, he effected a landing in the vicinity of Abo
notwithstanding the opposition of the Swedish force there, and,
establishing his troops in redoubts with ample supplies, he returned
to St. Petersburg for reinforcements. He soon returned, and, with an
army augmented to twenty thousand foot and four thousand horse, with a
powerful train of artillery, commenced a career of conquest. The city
of Abo, on the coast, the capital of Finland, fell unresistingly into
his hands with a large quantity of provisions. There was a flourishing
university here containing a valuable library. Peter sent the books to
St. Petersburg, and they became the foundation of the present royal
library in that place.

The tzar, leaving the prosecution of the war to his generals, returned
to St. Petersburg. Many and bloody battles were fought in those
northern wilds during the summer, in most of which the Russians had
the advantage, gaining citadel after citadel until winter drove the
combatants from the field.

With indefatigable zeal Peter pressed forward in his plan to give
splendor and power to his new city of Petersburg. One thousand
families were moved there from Moscow. Very flattering offers were
made to induce foreigners to settle there, and a decree was issued
declaring Petersburg to be the only port of entry in the empire. He
ordered that no more wooden houses should be built, and that all
should be covered with tile; and to secure the best architects from
Europe, he offered them houses rent free, and entire exemption from
taxes for fourteen years. The campaign of another summer, that of
1714, rendered the tzar the master of the whole province of Finland.

In the autumn of this year, Charles XII., escaped from Turkey, where
he had performed pranks outrivaling Don Quixote, and had finally been
held a prisoner. He traversed Hungary and Germany in disguise, and
traveling day and night, in such haste that but one of his attendants
could keep up with him, arrived, exhausted and haggard, in Sweden. He
was received with the liveliest demonstrations of joy, and immediately
placed himself again at the head of the Swedish armies.

The tzar, however, conscious that he now had not much to fear from
Sweden, left the conduct of the desultory war with his generals, and
set out on another tour of observation to southern Europe. The lovely
Catharine, who, with the fairy form and sylph-like grace of a girl of
seventeen, had won the love of Peter, was now a staid and worthy
matron of middle life. She had, however, secured the abiding affection
of the tzar, and he loved to take her with him on all his journeys.
Catharine, though on the eve of again becoming a mother, accompanied
her husband as far as Holland. Through Stralsund, Mecklenburg and
Hamburg, they proceeded to Rostock, where a fleet of forty-five
galleys awaited him. The emperor took the command, and hoisting his
flag, sailed to Copenhagen. Here he was entertained for two months
with profuse hospitality by the King of Denmark, during which time he
studied, with sleepless vigilance, the institutions and the artistic
attainments of the country.

About the middle of December he arrived at Amsterdam. The city gave
him a splendid reception, and he was welcomed by the Earl of Albemarle
in a very complimentary speech, pompous and flowery. The uncourteous
tzar bluntly replied,

"I thank you heartily, though I don't understand much of what you
say. I learned my Dutch among ship-builders, but the sort of language
you have spoken I am sure I never learned."

Some of his old companions, who were ship-builders, and had acquired
wealth, invited him to dine. They addressed him as "your majesty."
Peter cut them short, saying,

"Come, brothers, let us converse like plain and honest

A servant brought him some wine. "Give me the jug," said he laughing,
"and then I can drink as much as I please, and no one can tell how
much I have taken."

He hastened to Zaandam, where he was received with the utmost joy by
his old friends from whom he had parted nineteen years before. An old
woman pressed forward to greet him.

"My good woman," said the tzar, "how do you know who I am?"

"I am the widow," she said, "of Baas Pool, at whose table your majesty
so often sat nineteen years ago."

The emperor kissed her upon the forehead and invited her to dine with
him that very day. One of his first visits was to the little cottage,
or rather hut, which he had occupied while residing there. The cottage
is still carefully preserved, having been purchased in 1823 by the
sister of the Emperor Alexander, and enclosed in another building with
large arched windows. The room was even then regarded as sacred. In
the center stood the oaken table and the three wooden chairs which
constituted the furniture when Peter occupied it. The loft was
ascended by a ladder which still remains.

With all the roughness of Peter's exterior, he had always been a man
of deep religious feelings, and through all his life was in habits of
daily prayer. This loft had been his place of private devotion to
which he daily ascended. Upon entering the cottage and finding every
thing just as he had left it, the tzar was for a moment much
affected. He ascended the ladder to his closet of prayer in the loft,
and there remained alone with his God for a full half hour. Eventful
indeed and varied had his life been since there, a young man of
twenty-five, he had daily sought divine guidance.



From 1718 to 1725.

The Tzar's Second Visit to Holland.--Reception in France.--Description
of Catharine.--Domestic Grief.--Conduct of Alexis.--Letters from His
Father.--Flight To Germany.--Thence to Naples.--Envoys Sent to Bring
Him Back.--Alexis Excluded from the Succession.--His Trial for
Treason.--Condemnation and Unexpected Death.--New Efforts of the Tzar
for the Welfare of Russia.--Sickness of Peter.--His Death.--Succession
of the Empress Catharine.--Epitaph to the Emperor.

From Holland the tzar went to Paris. Great preparations were made
there for his reception, and apartments in the Louvre were gorgeously
fitted up for the accommodation of him and his suite. But Peter,
annoyed by parade, declined the sumptuous palace, and, the very
evening of his arrival, took lodgings at the Hotel de Lesdiguieres. To
those who urged his acceptance of the saloons of the Louvre he

"I am a soldier. A little bread and beer satisfy me. I prefer small
apartments to large ones. I have no desire to be attended with pomp
and ceremony, nor to give trouble to so many people."

Every hour of his stay in Paris was employed in studying the
institutions of the realm, and the progress made in the arts and
sciences. Standing by the tomb of Richelieu, which is one of the
finest pieces of sculpture in Europe, he exclaimed,

"Thou great man! I would have given thee one half of my dominions to
learn of thee how to govern the other half."

All the trades and manufactures of the capital he examined with the
greatest care, and took back with him to St. Petersburg a large number
of the most skillful artists and mechanics. Leaving France he returned
to Amsterdam, where he rejoined Catharine, and proceeded with her to
Berlin. A haughty German lady, piqued, perhaps, that a woman not of
noble birth should be an empress, thus describes the appearance of
Catharine at that time:

"The tzarina is short and lusty, remarkably coarse, without grace and
animation. One need only see her to be satisfied of her low birth. At
the first blush one would take her for a German actress. Her clothes
looked as if bought at a doll shop; every thing was so old fashioned
and so bedecked with silver and tinsel. She was decorated with a dozen
orders, portraits of saints, and relics, which occasioned such a
clatter that when she walked one would suppose that an ass with bells
was approaching. The tzar, on the contrary, was tall and well made.
His countenance is handsome, but there is something in it so rude that
it inspires one with dread. He was dressed like a seaman, in a frock,
without lace or ornament."[14]

[Footnote 14: Memoires de la Margrave de Bareith.]

On Peter's return to Russia, he was compelled to meet and grasp a
trouble which for fifteen years had embittered his life. His son,
Alexis, had ever been a thorn in his father's side. He was not only
indolent and dissipated, but he was utterly opposed to all his
father's measures for reform, and was continually engaged in underhand
measures to head a party against him. Upon the death of the unhappy
princess of Wolfenbuttle, wife of this worthless prince, the grieved
and indignant father wrote to him as follows:

"I shall wait a little while longer to see if there be any hopes of
your reform. If not, I shall cut you off from the succession as one
lops off a dead branch. Do not think that I wish to intimidate you;
and do not place too much reliance upon the fact that you are my only
son.[15] If I am willing to lay down my own life for Russia, do you
think that I shall be willing to sacrifice my country for you? I would
rather transmit the crown to an entire stranger worthy of the trust,
than to my own child unworthy of it."

[Footnote 15: The empress gave birth to a son shortly after this
letter was written.]

This letter produced no effect upon the shameless debauchee. He
continued unchecked in his career of infamy. In acknowledging the
receipt of his father's letter, he contemptuously replied that he had
no wish for the crown, and that he was ready at any time to take an
oath that he would renounce it for ever. Matters were in this position
when the tzar left for Denmark. He had hardly arrived in Copenhagen
when he received dispatches informing him that his son was gathering
around him all the disaffected, and was seriously endangering the
tranquillity of the State. Once more the anxious father wrote to him
in these words:

"I observe in your letter that you say not a word of the affliction
your conduct has caused me for so many years. A father's admonitions
seem to produce no impression upon you. I have prevailed on myself to
write you once more, and for the last time. Those _bushy beards_ bind
you to their purposes. They are the persons whom you trust, who place
their hopes in you; and you have no gratitude to him who gave you
life. Since you were of age have you ever aided your father in his
toils? Have you not opposed every thing I have done for the good of my
people? Have I not reason to believe that should you survive me you
will destroy all that I have accomplished? Amend your life. Render
yourself worthy of the succession, or turn monk. Reply to this either
in person or in writing. If you do not I shall treat you as a

The reply of Alexis, was laconic indeed. It consisted of just four
lines, and was as follows:

"Your letter of the 19th I received yesterday. My illness prevents me
from writing at length. I intend to embrace the monastic life, and I
request your gracious consent to that effect."

Seven months passed away, during which the tzar heard nothing
directly from his son, though the father kept himself informed of his
conduct. As Peter was returning from France he wrote to his son
reproaching him for his long silence, and requesting him, if he wished
to amend his ways and secure his father's favor, to meet him at
Copenhagen; but that if, on the contrary, he preferred to enter a
convent, which was the only alternative, he should inform him by the
return courier, that measures might be adopted to carry the plan
immediately into effect.

This brought matters to a crisis. The last thing the bloated debauchee
wished was to enter a convent. He was equally averse to a sober life,
and dared not meet his father lest he should be placed under arrest.
He consequently made no reply, but pretending that he was to set out
immediately for Copenhagen, he secured all the treasure he could lay
his hands upon and fled to Germany, to the court of the Emperor
Charles VI., who, it will be remembered, was his brother-in-law,
having married a sister of his deceased wife. Here he told a
deplorable story of the cruelty of his father, of the persecutions to
which he was exposed, and that to save his life he had been compelled
to flee from Russia.

The emperor, knowing full well that the young man was an infamous
profligate, was not at all disposed to incur the displeasure of Peter
by apparently espousing the cause of the son against the father. He
consequently gave the miscreant such a cold reception that he found
the imperial palace any thing but a pleasant place of residence, and
again he set out on his vagabond travels. The next tidings his father
heard of him were that he was in Naples, spending, as ever, his
substance in riotous living. A father's heart still yearned over the
miserable young man, and compassion was blended with disappointment
and indignation. He immediately dispatched two members of his court,
M. Romanzoff, captain of the royal guards, and M. Toltoi, a privy
counselor, to Naples, to make a last effort to reclaim his misguided
son. They found the young man in the chateau of Saint Elme, and
presented to him a letter from his father. It was dated Spa, July 1,
1717, and contained the following words:

"I write to you for the last time. Toltoi and Romanzoff will make
known to you my will. If you obey me, I assure you, and I promise
before God, that I will not punish you, but if you will return to me I
will love you better than ever. But if you will not return to me, I
pronounce upon you, as your father, in virtue of the power I have
received from God, my eternal malediction; and, as your sovereign, I
assure you that I shall find means to punish you, in which I trust God
will assist me."

It required the most earnest persuasion, and even the intervention of
the viceroy of Naples, to induce Alexis to return to Russia. The
miserable man had a harem of abandoned women with him, with whom he
set out on his return. They arrived in Moscow the 13th of February,
1718, and on that very day Peter had an interview with his son. No one
knows what passed in that interview. The rumor of the arrival of
Alexis spread rapidly through the city, and it was supposed that a
reconciliation had taken place. But the next morning, at the earliest
dawn, the great bell of Moscow rang an alarm, the royal guards were
marshaled and the privy counselors of the emperor were summoned to the

Alexis was led, without his sword and as a prisoner, into the presence
of his father. At the same time, all the high ecclesiastics of the
church were assembled, in solemn conclave, in the cathedral church.
Alexis fell upon his knees before his father, confessed his faults,
renounced all claim to the succession and entreated only that his life
might be spared. The tzar led his son into an adjoining room, where
they for some time remained alone. He then returned to his privy
council and read a long statement, very carefully drawn up, minutely
recapitulating the conduct of Alexis, his indolence, his shameless
libertinism, his low companionship, his treasonable designs, and
exhibiting his utter unfitness, in all respects, to be entrusted with
the government of an empire. This remarkable document was concluded
with the following words:

"Now although our son, by such criminal conduct, merits the punishment
of death, yet our paternal affection induces us to pardon his crimes
and to exempt him from the penalty which is his due. But considering
his unworthiness, as developed in the conduct we have described, we
can not, in conscience, bequeath to him the throne of Russia,
foreseeing that, by his vicious courses, he would degrade the glory of
our nation, endanger its safety and speedily lose those provinces
which we have recovered from our foes with so much toil and at so vast
an expense of blood and treasure. To inflict upon our faithful
subjects the rule of such a sovereign, would be to expose them to a
condition worse than Russia has ever yet experienced. We do therefore,
by our paternal authority, in virtue of which, by the laws of our
empire, any of our subjects may disinherit a son and give his
succession to such other of his sons as he pleases, and, in quality of
sovereign prince, in consideration of the safety of our dominions, we
do deprive our son, Alexis, for his crimes and unworthiness, of the
succession after us to our throne of Russia, and we do constitute and
declare successor to the said throne after us our second son, Peter.

"We lay upon our said son, Alexis, our paternal curse if ever, at any
time, he pretends to, or reclaims said succession, and we desire our
faithful subjects, whether ecclesiastics or seculars, of all ranks and
conditions, and the whole Russian nation, in conformity to this, our
will, to acknowledge our son Peter as lawful successor, and to confirm
the whole by oath before the holy altar upon the holy gospel, kissing
the cross. And all those who shall ever oppose this, our will, and
shall dare to consider our son, Alexis, as successor, we declare
traitors to us and to their country. We have ordered these presents
to be everywhere promulgated, that no person may pretend ignorance.
Given at Moscow, February 3d, 1718."

This document was then taken to the cathedral, where all the higher
ecclesiastics had been assembled, and was read to them. Nothing was
omitted which could invest the act with solemnity, There is every
evidence that the heart of the father was rent with acutest anguish in
all these proceedings. Nothing could have been more desirable to him
than to transmit the empire his energies had rendered so illustrious,
to his own son to carry on the enterprises his father had commenced.
But to place eighteen millions of people in the hands of one who had
proved himself so totally unworthy, would have been the greatest
cruelty. The exclusion of Alexis from the succession was the noblest
act of Peter's life.

But new facts were soon developed which rendered it impossible for the
unhappy father to stop even here. Evidence came to light that Alexis
had been plotting a conspiracy for the dethronement of his father, and
for the seizure of the crown by violence. His mother, whom the tzar
had repudiated, and his energetic aunt, Mary, both of whom were in a
convent, were involved in the plot. He had applied to his
brother-in-law, the Emperor of Germany, for foreign troops to aid him.
There were many restless spirits in the empire, turbulent and
depraved, the boon companions of Alexis, who were ready for any deeds
of desperation which might place Alexis on the throne. The second son
of the emperor, the child of Catharine, was an infant of but a few
months old. The health of Peter was infirm and his life doubtful. It
was manifest that immediately upon the death of the tzar, Alexis would
rally his accomplices around him, raise the banner of revolt against
the infant king, and that thus the empire would be plunged into all
the horrors of a long and bloody civil war.

Peter having commenced the work of self-sacrifice for the salvation of
Russia, was not disposed to leave that work half accomplished. All
knew that the infamous Alexis would shrink from no crime, and there
was ample evidence of his treasonable plots. The father now
deliberately resolved to arraign his son for high treason, a crime
which doomed him to death. Aware of the awful solemnity of such a
moment, and of the severity with which his measures and his motives
would be sifted by posterity, he proceeded with the greatest,
circumspection. A high court of justice was organized for the trial,
consisting of two chambers, the one ecclesiastical, the other secular.
On the 13th of June, 1718, the court was assembled, and the tzar
presented to them the documentary evidence, which had been carefully
obtained, of his son's treasonable designs, and thus addressed them:

"Though the flight of Alexis, the son of the tzar, and a part of his
crimes be already known, yet there are now discovered such unexpected
and surprising attempts, as plainly show with what baseness and
villainy he endeavored to impose on us, his sovereign and father, and
what perjuries he hath committed against Almighty God, all which shall
now be laid before you. Though, according to all laws, civil and
divine, and especially those of this empire, which grant fathers
absolute jurisdiction over their children, we have full power to judge
our son according to our pleasure, yet, as men are liable to prejudice
in their own affairs, and as the most eminent physicians rely not on
their own judgment concerning themselves, but call in the advice of
others, so we, under the awful fear of displeasing God, make known our
disease, and apply to you for a cure. As I have promised pardon to my
son in case he should declare to me the truth, and though he has
forfeited this promise by concealing his rebellious designs, yet, that
we may not swerve from our obligation, we pray you to consider this
affair with seriousness, and report what punishment he deserves
without favor or partiality either to him or me. Let not the
reflection that you are passing sentence on the son of your prince
have any influence on you, but administer justice without respect of
persons. Destroy not your own souls and mine, by doing any thing
which may injure our country or upbraid our consciences in the great
and terrible day of judgment."

The evidence adduced against the young prince, from his own
confession, and the depositions which had been taken, were very
carefully considered, nearly a month being occupied in the solemnities
of deliberation. A verdict was finally rendered in the form of a
report to the emperor. It was a long, carefully-worded document,
containing a statement of the facts which the evidence substantiated
against the culprit. The conclusion was as follows:

"It is evident, from the whole conduct of the son of the tzar, that he
intended to take the crown from the head of his father and place it
upon his own, not only by a civil insurrection, but by the assistance
of a foreign army which he had actually requested. He has therefore
rendered himself unworthy of the clemency promised by the emperor;
and, since all laws, divine, ecclesiastical, civil and military,
condemn to death, without mercy, not only those who attempt rebellion
against their sovereign, but those who are plotting such attempts,
what shall be our judgment of one who has conspired for the commission
of a crime almost unparalleled in history--the assassination of his
sovereign, who was his own father, a father of great indulgence, who
reared his son from the cradle with more than paternal tenderness,
who, with incredible pains, strove to educate him for government, and
to qualify him for the succession to so great an empire? How much more
imperatively does such a crime merit death.

"It is therefore with hearts full of affliction, and eyes streaming
with tears, that we, as subjects and servants, pronounce this sentence
against the son of our most precious sovereign lord, the tzar.
Nevertheless, it being his pleasure that we should act in this
capacity, we, by these presents, declare our real opinion, and
pronounce this sentence of condemnation with a pure conscience as we
hope to answer at the tribunal of Almighty God. We submit, however,
this sentence to the sovereign will and revisal of his imperial
majesty, our most merciful sovereign."

This sentence was signed by all the members of the court, one hundred
and eighty in number; and on the 6th of July it was read to the guilty
prince in the castle where he was kept confined. The miserable young
man, enfeebled in body and mind by debaucheries, was so overwhelmed
with terror, as his death warrant was read, that he was thrown into
convulsions. All the night long fit succeeded fit, as, delirious with
woe, he moaned upon his bed. In the morning a messenger was dispatched
to the tzar to inform him that his son was seriously sick; in an hour
another messenger was sent stating that he was very dangerously sick;
and soon a third messenger was dispatched with the intelligence that
Alexis could not survive the day, and was very anxious to see his
father. Peter, scarce less wretched than his miserable son, hastened
to his room. The dying young man, at the sight of his father, burst
into tears, confessed all his crimes, and begged his father's blessing
in this hour of death. Tears coursed down the cheeks of the stern
emperor, and he addressed his dying child in terms so pathetic, and so
fervently implored God's pardon for him, that the stoutest hearts were
moved and loud sobbings filled the room.

It was midday of the 7th of July, 1718. The prince was confined in a
large chamber of a stone castle, which was at the same time a palace
and a fortress. There lay upon the couch the dying Alexis, bloated by
the excesses of a life of utter pollution, yet pale and haggard with
terror and woe. The iron-hearted father, whose soul this sublime
tragedy had-melted, sat at his side weeping like a child. The guards
who stood at the door, the nobles and ecclesiastics who had
accompanied the emperor, were all unmanned, many sobbing aloud,
overwhelmed by emotions utterly uncontrollable. This scene stamps the
impress of almost celestial greatness upon the soul of the tzar. He
knew his son's weakness, incompetency and utter depravity, and even in
that hour of agony his spirit did not bend, and he would not sacrifice
the happiness of eighteen millions of people through parental
tenderness for his debauched and ruined child.

About six o'clock in the evening the wretched Alexis breathed his
last, and passed from the tribunals of earth to the judgment-seat of
God. The emperor immediately seemed to banish from his mind every
remembrance of his crimes, and his funeral was attended with all the
customary demonstrations of affection and respect. Peter, fully aware
that this most momentous event of his life would be severely
criticised throughout the world, sent a statement of the facts to all
the courts of Europe. In his letter, which accompanied these
statements, he says:

"While we were debating in our mind between the natural emotions of
paternal clemency on one side, and the regard we ought to pay to the
preservation and the future security of our kingdom on the other, and
pondering what resolution to take in an affair of so great difficulty
and importance, it pleased the Almighty God, by his especial will and
his just judgment, and by his mercy to deliver us out of that
embarrassment, and to save our family and kingdom from the shame and
the dangers by abridging the life of our said son Alexis, after an
illness with which he was seized as soon as he had heard the sentence
of death pronounced against him.

"That illness appeared at first like an apoplexy; but he afterwards
recovered his senses and received the holy sacraments; and having
desired to see us, we went to him immediately, with all our counselors
and senators; and then he acknowledged and sincerely confessed all his
said faults and crimes, committed against us, with tears and all the
marks of a true penitent, and begged our pardon, which, according to
Christian and paternal duty, we granted him; after which on the 7th
of July, at six in the evening, he surrendered his soul to God."

The tzar endeavored to efface from his memory these tragic scenes by
consecrating himself, with new energy, to the promotion of the
interests of Russia. Utterly despising all luxurious indulgence, he
lived upon coarse fare, occupied plainly-furnished rooms, dressed in
the extreme of simplicity and devoted himself to daily toil with
diligence, which no mechanic or peasant in the realm could surpass.
The war still continued with Sweden. On the night of the 29th of
November, of this year, 1718, the madman Charles XII. was instantly
killed by a cannon ball which carried away his head as he was leaning
upon a parapet, in the siege of Fredericshall in Norway. The death of
this indomitable warrior quite changed the aspect of European affairs.
New combinations of armies arose and new labyrinths of intrigue were
woven, and for several years wars, with their usual successes and
disasters, continued to impoverish and depopulate the nations of
Europe. At length the tzar effected a peace with Sweden, that kingdom
surrendering to him the large and important provinces of Livonia,
Esthonia, Ingria and Carelia. This was an immense acquisition for

With the utmost vigilance the tzar watched the administration of all
the internal affairs of his empire, punishing fraud, wherever found,
with unrelenting severity. The enterprise which now, above all others,
engaged his attention, was to open direct communication, by means of
canals, between St. Petersburg and the Caspian Sea. The most skillful
European engineers were employed upon this vast undertaking, by which
the waters of Lake Ladoga were to flow into the Volga, so that the
shores of the Baltic and distant Persia might be united in maritime
commerce. The sacred Scriptures were also, by command of the emperor,
translated into the Russian language and widely disseminated
throughout the empire. The Russian merchants were continually
receiving insults, being plundered and often massacred by the
barbaric tribes on the shores of the Caspian. Peter fitted out a grand
expedition from Astrachan for their chastisement, and went himself to
that distant city to superintend the important operations. A war of
twelve months brought those tribes into subjection, and extended the
Russian dominion over vast and indefinite regions there.

Catharine, whom he seemed to love with all the fervor of youth,
accompanied him on this expedition. Returning to St. Petersburg in
1724, Peter resolved to accomplish a design which he for some time had
meditated, of placing the imperial crown upon the brow of his beloved
wife. Their infant son had died. Their grandson, Peter, the son of
Alexis, was still but a child, and the failing health of the tzar
admonished him that he had not many years to live. Reposing great
confidence in the goodness of Catharine and in the wisdom of those
counselors whom, with his advice, she would select, he resolved to
transmit the scepter, at his death, to her. In preparation for this
event, Catharine was crowned Empress on the 18th of May, 1724, with
all possible pomp.

The city of Petersburg had now become one of the most important
capitals of Europe. Peter was not only the founder of this city, but,
in a great measure, the architect. An observatory for astronomical
purposes was reared, on the model of that in Paris. A valuable library
was in the rapid progress of collection, and there were several
cabinets formed, filled with the choicest treasures of nature and art.
There were now in Russia a sufficient number of men of genius and of
high literary and scientific attainment to form an academy of the arts
and sciences, the rules and institutes of which the emperor drew up
with his own hand.

While incessantly engaged in these arduous operations, the emperor was
seized with a painful and dangerous sickness--a strangury--which
confined him to his room for four months. Feeling a little better one
day, he ordered his yacht to be brought up to the Neva, opposite his
palace, and embarked to visit some of his works on Lake Ladoga. His
physicians, vainly remonstrating against it, accompanied him. It was
the middle of October. The weather continuing fine, the emperor
remained upon the water, visiting his works upon the shore of the lake
and of the Gulf of Finland, until the 5th of November. The exposures
of the voyage proved too much for him, and he returned to Petersburg
in a state of debility and pain which excited the greatest

The disease made rapid progress. The mind of the emperor, as he
approached the dying hour, was clouded, and, with the inarticulate
mutterings of delirium, he turned to and fro, restless, upon his bed.
His devoted wife, for three days and three nights, did not leave his
side, and, on the 28th of January, 1725, at four o'clock in the
afternoon, he breathed his last, in her arms.

Before the dethronement of his reason, the tzar had assembled around
his bed the chief dignitaries of the empire, and had requested them,
as soon as he should be dead, to acknowledge the Empress Catharine as
their sovereign. He even took the precaution to exact from them an
oath that they would do this. Peter died in the fifty-third year of
his age. None of the children whom he had by his first wife survived
him. Both of the sons whom he had by the Empress Catharine were also
dead. Two daughters still lived. After the Empress Catharine, the next
heir to the throne was his grandson, Peter, the orphan child of the
guilty Alexis.

Immediately upon the death of the emperor, the senate assembled and
unanimously declared Catharine Empress of Russia. In a body, they
waited upon Catharine with this announcement, and were presented to
her by Prince Menzikoff. The mourning for the tzar was universal and
heartfelt. The remains were conveyed to the tomb with all the
solemnities becoming the burial of one of the greatest monarchs earth
has ever known. Over his remains the empress erected a monument
sculptured by the most accomplished artists of Italy, containing the
following inscription:

                                HERE LIETH

                             PETER ALEXOUITZ;

                      IT IS ALMOST SUPERFLUOUS TO ADD
                          GREAT EMPEROR OF RUSSIA;
                                 A TITLE
                          LET ANTIQUITY BE DUMB,
                          HOW EASY WAS VICTORY
                                 BUT HE,
                     WHO IN THIS PLACE FIRST KNEW REST,
                          WITH THE NAMES OF MEN,
                             YET EVEN THESE
                   AND, BREAKING OUT LIKE A NEW SUN
                        TAUGHT THEM TO CONQUER
                     EVEN THE CONQUERORS OF GERMANY.
                      THIS COMMANDER CREATED THEM.



From 1725 to 1162.

Energetic Reign of Catharine.--Her Sudden Death.--Brief Reign of Peter
II.--Difficulties of Hereditary Succession.--A Republic
Contemplated.--Anne, Daughter of Ivan.--The Infant Ivan Proclaimed
King--His Terrible Doom.--Elizabeth, Daughter of Peter the Great
Enthroned.--Character of Elizabeth.--Alliance with Maria
Theresa.--Wars with Prussia.--Great Reverses of Frederic of
Prussia.--Desperate Condition of Frederic.--Death of
Elizabeth.--Succession of Peter III.

The new empress, Catharine I., was already exceedingly popular, and
she rose rapidly in public esteem by the wisdom and vigor of her
administration. Early in June her eldest daughter, Anne, was married
with much pomp to the Duke of Holstein. It was a great novelty to the
Russians to see a woman upon the throne; and the neighboring States
seemed inspired with courage to commence encroachments, thinking that
they had but little to apprehend from the feeble arm of a queen.
Poland, Sweden and Denmark were all animated with the hope that the
time had now come in which they could recover those portions of
territory which, during past wars, had been wrested from them by

Catharine was fully aware of the dangers thus impending, and adopted
such vigorous measures for augmenting the army and the fleet as
speedily to dispel the illusion. Catharine vigorously prosecuted the
measures her husband had introduced for the promotion of the
civilization and enlightenment of her subjects. She took great care of
the young prince Peter, son of the deceased Alexis, and endeavored in
all ways to educate him so that he might be worthy to succeed her
upon the throne. This young man, the grandson of Peter the Great, was
the only prince in whose veins flowed the blood of the tzars.

The academy of sciences at St. Petersburg, which Peter had founded,
was sedulously fostered by Catharine. The health of the empress was
feeble when she ascended the throne, and it rapidly declined. She,
however, continued to apply herself with great assiduity to public
affairs until the middle of April, when she was obliged to take her
bed. There is no "royal road" to death. After four weeks of suffering
and all the humbling concomitants of disease and approaching
dissolution, the empress breathed her last at nine o'clock in the
evening of the 16th of May, 1727, after a reign of but little more
than two years, and in the forty-second year of her age.

Upon her death-bed Catharine declared Peter II., the son of Alexis,
her successor; and as he was but twelve years of age, a regency was
established during his minority. Menzikoff, however, the illustrious
favorite of Peter the Great, who had been appointed by Catharine
generalissimo of all the armies both by land and sea, attained such
supremacy that he was in reality sovereign of the empire. During the
reign, of Catharine Russia presented the extraordinary spectacle of
one of the most powerful and aristocratic kingdoms on the globe
governed by an empress whose origin was that of a nameless girl found
weeping in the streets of a sacked town--while there rode, at the head
of the armies of the empire, towering above grand dukes and princes of
the blood, the son of a peasant, who had passed his childhood the
apprentice of a pastry cook, selling cakes in the streets of Moscow.
Such changes would have been extraordinary at any period of time and
in any quarter of the world; but that they should have occurred in
Russia, where for ages so haughty an aristocracy had dominated, seems
almost miraculous. Menzikoff; elated by the power which the minority
of the king gave him, assumed such airs as to excite the most bitter
spirit of hostility among the nobles. They succeeded in working his
ruin; and the boy emperor banished him to Siberia and confiscated his
immense estates. The blow was fatal. Sinking into the most profound
melancholy, Menzikoff lingered for a few months in the dreary region
of his exile, and died in 1729. Peter the Second did not long survive
him. But little more than two years elapsed after the death of
Catharine, when he, being then a lad of but fourteen years of age, was
seized with the small-pox and died the 19th of January, 1730. One
daughter of Peter the Great and of Catharine still survived.

Some of the principal of the nobility, seeing how many difficulties
attended hereditary succession, which at one time placed the crown
upon the brow of a babe in the cradle, again upon a semi-idiot, and
again upon a bloated and infamous debauchee, conferred upon the
subject of changing the government into a republic. But Russia was not
prepared for a reform so sudden and so vast. After much debate it was
decided to offer the crown to Anne, Duchess of Courland, who was
second daughter of the imbecile Ivan, who, for a short time, had
nominally occupied the throne, associated with his brother Peter the
Great. She had an elder sister, Catharine, who was married to the Duke
of Mecklenburg. So far as the right of birth was concerned, Catharine
was first entitled to the succession. But as the Duke of Mecklenburg,
whose grand duchy bordered upon the Baltic, and which was equal to
about one half the State of Massachusetts, was engaged in a kind of
civil war with his nobles, it was therefore thought best to pass her
by, lest the empire should become involved in the strife in which her
husband was engaged. As Ivan was the elder brother, it was thought
that his daughters should have the precedence over those of Peter.

Another consideration also influenced the nobles who took the lead in
selecting Anne. They thought that she was a woman whom they could
more easily control than Catharine. These nobles accordingly framed a
new constitution for the empire, limiting the authority of the queen
to suit their purposes. But Anne was no sooner seated upon the throne,
than she grasped the scepter with vigor which astounded all. She
banished the nobles who had interfered with the royal prerogatives,
and canceled all the limitations they had made. She selected a very
able ministry, and gave the command of her armies to the most
experienced generals. While sagacity and efficiency marked her short
administration, and Russia continued to expand and prosper, no events
of special importance occurred. She united her armies with those of
the Emperor of Germany in resisting the encroachments of France. She
waged successful war against the Turks, who had attempted to recover
Azof. In this war, the Crimean Tartars were crushed, and Russian
influence crowded its way into the immense Crimean peninsula. The
energies of Anne caused Russia to be respected throughout Europe.

As the empress had no children, she sent for her niece and namesake,
Anne, daughter of her elder sister, Catharine, Duchess of Mecklenburg,
and married her to one of the most distinguished nobles of her court,
resolved to call the issue of this marriage to the succession. On the
12th of August, 1740, this princess was delivered of a son, who was
named Ivan. The empress immediately pronounced him her successor,
placing him under the guardianship of his parents. The health of the
empress was at this time rapidly failing, and it was evident to all
that her death was not far distant. In anticipation of death, she
appointed one of her favorites, John Ernestus Biron, regent, during
the minority of the prince. Baron Osterman, high chancellor of Russia,
had the rank of prime minister, and Count Munich, a soldier of
distinguished reputation, was placed in the command of the armies,
with the title of field marshal. These were the last administrative
acts of Anne. The king of terrors came with his inevitable summons.
After a few weeks of languor and suffering, the queen expired in
October, 1740.

A babe, two months old, was now Emperor of Russia. The senate
immediately met and acknowledged the legitimacy of his claims. The
foreign embassadors presented to him their credentials, and the
Marquis of Chetardie, the French minister, reverentially approaching
the cradle, made the imperially majestic baby a congratulatory speech,
addressing him as Ivan V., Emperor of all the Russias, and assuring
him of the friendship of Louis XV., sovereign of France.

The regent, as was usually the case, arrogating authority and
splendor, soon became excessively unpopular, and a conspiracy of the
nobles was formed for his overthrow. On the night of the 17th of
November the conspirators met in the palace of the grand duchess,
Anne, mother of the infant emperor, unanimously named her regent of
the empire, arrested Biron, and condemned him to death, which sentence
was subsequently commuted to Siberian exile.

Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter, was now thirty-eight years of age.
Though very beautiful, she was unmarried, and resided in the palace in
a state of splendid captivity. A party now arose who secretly
conspired to overthrow the regency of Anne, and to depose the infant
Ivan and place Elizabeth upon the throne. The plot being fully
matured, on the night of the 5th of December a body of armed men
repaired to the palace, where they met Elizabeth, who was ready to
receive them, and marched, with her at their head, to the barracks,
where she was enthusiastically received by the soldiers. The spirit of
her father seemed at once to inspire her soul. With a voice of
authority, as if born to command, she ordered the regiments to march
to different quarters of the city and to seize all the prominent
officers of the government. Then leading, herself, a regiment to the
palace, she took possession of the infant emperor and of his mother,
the regent. They were held in captivity, though, at first, treated
with all the consideration which became their birth.

This revolution was accepted by the people with the loudest
demonstrations of joy. The memory of Peter the Great was enshrined in
every heart, and all exulted in placing the crown upon his daughter's
brow. The next morning, at the head of the royal guards and all the
other troops of the metropolis, Elizabeth was proclaimed Empress of
Russia. In one week from this time, the deposed infant emperor, Ivan,
who was then thirteen months old, was sent, with his parents, from
Petersburg to Riga, where they were for a long time detained in a
castle as prisoners. Two efforts which they made for escape were

This conspiracy, which was carried to so successful a result, was
mainly founded in the hostility with which the Russians regarded the
foreigners who had been so freely introduced to the empire by Peter
the Great, and who occupied so many of the most important posts in the
State. Thus the succession of Elizabeth was, in fact, a counter
revolution, arresting the progress of reform and moving Russia back
again toward the ancient barbarism. But Elizabeth soon expended her
paroxysm of energy, and surrendered herself to luxury and to sensual
indulgence unsurpassed by any debauchee who ever occupied a throne.
Jealous of sharing her power, she refused to take a husband, though
many guilty favorites were received to her utmost intimacy.

The doom of the deposed Ivan and his parents was sad, indeed. They
were removed for safe keeping to an island in the White Sea, fifty
miles beyond Archangel, a region as desolate as the imagination can
well conceive. Here, after a year of captivity, the infant Ivan was
torn from his mother and removed to the monastery of Oranienburg,
where he was brought up in the utmost seclusion, not being allowed to
learn either to read or write. The bereaved mother, Anne, lingered a
couple of years until she wept away her life, and found the repose of
the grave in 1746. Her husband survived thirty years longer, and died
in prison in 1775. It was an awful doom for one who had committed no
crime. The whole course of history proves that in this life we see but
the commencement of a divine government, and that "after death cometh
the judgment."

A humane monk, taking pity upon the unfortunate little Ivan, attempted
to escape with him. He had reached Smolensk, when he was arrested. The
unhappy prince was then conveyed to the castle of Schlusselburg, where
he was immersed in a dungeon which no ray of the sun could ever
penetrate. A single lamp burning in his cell only revealed its
horrors. The prince could not distinguish day from night, and had no
means of computing the passage of the hours. Food was left in his
cell, and the attendants, who occasionally entered, were prohibited
from holding any conversation with the child. This treatment,
absolutely infernal, soon reduced the innocent prince to a state
almost of idiocy.

Twice Elizabeth ordered him to be brought to Petersburg, where she
conversed with him without letting him know who she was; but she did
nothing to alleviate his horrible doom. After the death of Elizabeth,
her successor, Peter III., made Ivan a visit, without making himself
known. Touched with such an aspect of misery, he ordered an apartment
to be built in an angle of the fortress, for Ivan, who had now
attained the age of manhood, where he could enjoy air and light. The
sudden death of Peter defeated this purpose, and Ivan was left in his
misery. Still weary years passed away while the prince, dead to
himself as well as to the world, remained breathing in his tomb.
Catharine II., after her accession to the throne, called to see Ivan.
She thus describes her visit:

"After we had ascended the throne, and offered up to Heaven our just
thanksgivings, the first object that employed our thoughts, in
consequence of that humanity which is natural to us, was the unhappy
situation of that prince, who was dethroned by divine Providence, and
had been unfortunate ever since his birth; and we formed the
resolution of alleviating his misfortunes as far as possible.

"We immediately made a visit to him in order to judge of his
understanding and talents, and to procure him a situation suitable to
his character and education. But how great was our surprise to find,
that in addition to a defect in his utterance, which rendered it
difficult for him to speak, and still more difficult to be understood,
we observed an almost total deprivation of sense and reason. Those who
accompanied us, during this interview, saw how much our heart suffered
at the contemplation of an object so fitted to excite compassion; they
were also convinced that the only measure we could take to succor the
unfortunate prince was to leave him where we found him, and to procure
him all the comforts and conveniences his situation would admit of. We
accordingly gave our orders for this purpose, though the state he was
in prevented his perceiving the marks of our humanity or being
sensible of our attention and care; for he knew nobody, could not
distinguish between good and evil, nor did he know the use that might
be made of reading, to pass the time with less weariness and disgust.
On the contrary, he sought pleasure in objects that discovered with
sufficient evidence the disorder of his imagination."

Soon after this poor Ivan was cruelly assassinated. An officer in the
Russian army, named Mirovitch, conceived an absurd plan of liberating
Ivan from his captivity, restoring him to the throne, and consigning
Catharine II. to the dungeon the prince had so long inhabited.
Mirovitch had command of the garrison at Schlusselburg, where Ivan was
imprisoned. Taking advantage of the absence of the empress, on a
journey to Livonia, he proceeded to the castle, with a few soldiers
whose coöperation he had secured through the influence of brandy and
promises, knocked down the commandant of the fortress with the butt
end of a musket, and ordered the officers who had command of the
prisoner to bring him to them. These officers had received the secret
injunction that should the rescue of the prince ever be attempted,
they were to put him to death rather than permit him to be carried
off. They accordingly entered his cell, and though the helpless
captive made the most desperate resistance, they speedily cut him down
with their swords.

History has few narratives so extraordinary as the fate of Ivan. A
forced marriage was arranged that a child might be generated to
inherit the Russian throne. When this child was but a few days old he
was declared emperor of all the Russias, and received the
congratulations of the foreign embassadors. When thirteen months of
age he was deposed, and for the crime of being a king, was thrown into
captivity. To prevent others from using him as the instrument of their
purposes, he was thrown into a dungeon, and excluded from all human
intercourse, so that like a deaf child he could not even acquire the
power of speech. For him there was neither clouds nor sunshine, day
nor night, summer nor winter. He had no employment, no amusement, no
food for thought, absolutely nothing to mark the passage of the weary
hours. The mind became paralyzed and almost idiotic by such enormous
woe. Such was his doom for twenty-four years. He was born in 1740, and
assassinated under the reign of Catharine II., in 1764. The father of
Ivan remained in prison eleven years longer until he died.

From this tragedy let us turn back to the reign of Elizabeth. It was
the great object of this princess to undo all that her illustrious
father had done, to roll back all the reforms he had commenced, and to
restore to the empire its ancient usages and prejudices. The hostility
to foreigners became so bitter, that the queen's guard formed a
conspiracy for a general massacre, which should sweep them all from
the empire. Elizabeth, conscious of the horror such an act would
inspire throughout Europe, was greatly alarmed, and was compelled to
issue a proclamation, in defense of their lives.

"The empress," she said in this proclamation, "can never forget how
much foreigners have contributed to the prosperity of Russia. And
though her subjects will at all times enjoy her favors in preference
to foreigners, yet the foreigners in her service are as dear to her as
her own subjects, and may rely on her protection."

In the mean time, Elizabeth was prosecuting with great vigor the
hereditary war with Sweden. Russia was constantly gaining in this
conflict, and at length the Swedes purchased peace by surrendering to
the Russians extensive territories in Finland. The favor of Russia was
still more effectually purchased by the Swedes choosing for their
king, Adolphus Frederic, Duke of the Russian province of Holstein, and
kinsman of Elizabeth. The boundaries of Russia were thus enlarged, and
Sweden became almost a tributary province of the gigantic empire.

Maria Theresa was now Empress of Austria, and she succeeded in
enlisting the coöperation of Elizabeth in her unrelenting warfare with
Frederic of Prussia. Personal hostility also exasperated Elizabeth
against the Prussian monarch, for in some of his writings he had
spoken disparagingly of the humble birth of Elizabeth's mother,
Catharine, the wife of Peter the First; and a still more unpardonable
offense he had committed, when, flushed with wine, at a table where
the Russian embassador was present, he had indulged in witticisms in
reference to the notorious gallantries of the empress. A woman who
could plunge, into the wildest excesses of licentiousness, still had
sensibility enough to resent the taunts of the royal philosopher. In
1753, Elizabeth and Maria Theresa entered into an agreement to resist
_all further augmentation_ of the Prussian power. In the bloody Seven
Years' War between Frederic and Maria Theresa, the heart of Elizabeth
was always with the Austrian queen, and for five of those years their
armies fought side by side. In the year 1759, Elizabeth sent an army
of one hundred thousand men into Prussia. They committed every outrage
which fiends could perpetrate; and though victorious over the armies
of Frederic, they rendered the country so utterly desolate, that
through famine they were compelled to retreat. Burning villages and
mangled corpses marked their path.

The next year, 1758, another Russian army invaded Prussia, overran
nearly the whole kingdom, and captured Konigsburg. The victorious
Russians thinking that all of Prussia was to be annexed to their
dominions, began to treat the Prussians tenderly and as countrymen. An
order was read from the churches, that if any Prussian had cause of
complaint against any Russian, he should present it at the military
chancery at Konigsburg, where he would infallibly have redress. The
inhabitants of the conquered realm were all obliged to swear fealty to
the Empress of Russia. The Prussian army was at this time in Silesia,
struggling against the troops of Maria Theresa. The warlike Frederic
soon returned at the head of his indomitable hosts, and attacking the
Russians about six miles from Kustrin, defeated them in one of the
most bloody battles on record, and drove the shattered battalions,
humiliated and bleeding, out of the territory.

The summer of 1759 again found the Russian troops spread over the
Prussian territory. In great force the two hostile armies soon met on
the banks of the Oder. The Russians, posted upon a line of commanding
heights, numbered seventy thousand. Frederic fiercely assailed them
through the most formidable disadvantages, with but thirty thousand
men. The slaughter of the Prussians was fearful, and Frederic, after
losing nearly eight thousand of his best troops in killed and wounded
and prisoners, sullenly retired. The Russian troops were now
strengthened by a reinforcement of twelve thousand of the choicest of
the Austrian cavalry, and still presenting, notwithstanding their
losses, a solid front of ninety thousand men. Frederic, bringing every
nerve into action, succeeded in collecting and bringing again into the
field fifty thousand troops.[16] Notwithstanding the disparity in
numbers, it seemed absolutely necessary that the King of Prussia
should fight, for the richest part of his dominions was in the hands
of the allied Prussians and Austrians, and Berlin was menaced. The
field of battle was on the banks of the Oder, near Frankfort.

[Footnote 16: Some authorities give the Russians eighty thousand and
the Prussians forty thousand.]

On the 12th of June, 1759, at two o'clock in the morning, the King of
Prussia formed his troops in battle array, behind a forest which
concealed his movements from the enemy. The battle was commenced with
a fierce cannonade; and in the midst of the thunderings and carnage of
this tempest of war, solid columns emerged from the ranks of the
Prussians and pierced the Russian lines. The attack was too impetuous
to be resisted. From post to post the Prussians advanced, driving the
foe before them, and covering the ground with the slain. For six hours
of almost unparalleled slaughter the victory was with the Prussians.
Seventy-two pieces of cannon fell into the hands of the victors, and
at every point the Russians were retreating. Frederic, in his
exultation, scribbled a note to the empress, upon the field of battle,
with the pommel of his saddle for a tablet, and dispatched it to her
by a courier. It was as follows:

     "Madam: we have beat the Russians from their entrenchments. In
     two hours expect to hear of a glorious victory."

But in less than two hours the tide of victory turned. The day was one
of excessive heat. An unclouded sun poured its burning rays upon the
field, and at midday the troops and the horses, having been engaged
for six hours in one of the severest actions which was ever known,
were utterly beat out and fainting with exhaustion. Just then the
whole body of the Russian and Austrian cavalry, some fourteen thousand
strong, which thus far had remained inactive, came rushing upon the
plain as with the roar and the sweep of the whirlwind. The foe fell
before them as the withered grass before the prairie fire. Frederic
was astounded by this sudden reverse, and in the anguish of his spirit
plunged into the thickest of the conflict. Two horses were shot
beneath him. His clothes were riddled with balls. Another courier was
dispatched to the empress from the sanguinary field, in the hottest
speed. The note he bore was as follows:

     "Remove from Berlin with the royal family. Let the archives be
     carried to Potsdam, and the capital make conditions with the

As night approached, Frederic assembled the fragments of his army,
exhausted and bleeding, upon some heights, and threw up redoubts for
their protection. Twenty thousand of his troops were left upon the
field or in the hands of the enemy. Every cannon he had was taken.
Scarcely a general or an inferior officer escaped unwounded, and a
large number of his most valuable officers were slain. It was an awful
defeat and an awful slaughter.

Fortunately for Frederic the losses of the Russians had also been so
terrible that they did not venture to pursue the foe. Early the next
morning the Prussian king crossed the Oder; and the Russians,
encumbered with the thousands of their own mutilated and dying troops,
thought it not prudent to march upon Berlin. The war still raged
furiously, the allies being inspirited by hope and Frederic by
despair. At length the affairs of Prussia became quite hopeless, and
the Prussian monarch was in a position from which no earthly energy or
sagacity could extricate him. The Russians and Austrians, in
resistless numbers, were spread over all his provinces excepting
Saxony, where the great Frederic was entirely hemmed up.

The Prussian king was fully conscious of the desperation of his
affairs, and, though one of the most stoical and stern of men, he
experienced the acutest anguish. For hours he paced the floor of his
tent, absorbed in thought, seldom exchanging a word with his generals,
who stood silently by, having no word to utter of counsel or
encouragement. Just then God mysteriously interposed and saved Prussia
from dismemberment, and the name of her monarch from ignominy. The
Empress of Russia had been for some time in failing health, and the
year 1762 had but just dawned, when the enrapturing tidings were
conveyed to the camp of the despairing Prussians that Elizabeth was
dead. This event dispelled midnight gloom and caused the sun to shine
brightly upon the Prussian fortunes.

The nephew of the empress, Peter III., who succeeded her on her
throne, had long expressed his warm admiration of Frederic of Prussia,
had visited his court at Berlin, where he was received with the most
flattering attentions, and had enthroned the warlike Frederic in his
heart as the model of a hero. He had even, during the war, secretly
written letters to Frederic expressive of his admiration, and had
communicated to him secrets of the Russian cabinet and their plans of
operation. The elevation of Peter III. to the throne was the signal,
not only for the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the Austrian
alliance, but for the direct marching of those troops as allies into
the camp of the Prussians. Thus sudden are the mutations of war; thus
inexplicable are the combinations of destiny.

Elizabeth died in the fifty-second year of her age, after a reign of
twenty years. She was during her whole reign mainly devoted to sensual
pleasure, drinking intoxicating liquors immoderately, and surrendering
herself to the most extraordinary licentiousness. Though ever refusing
to recognize the claims of marriage, she was the mother of several
children, and her favorites can not easily be enumerated. Her
ministers managed the affairs of State for her, in obedience to her
caprices. She seemed to have some chronic disease of the humane
feelings which induced her to declare that not one of her subjects
should during her reign be doomed to death, while at the same time,
with the most gentle self complacency, she could order the tongues of
thousands to be torn out by the roots, could cut off the nostrils with
red hot pincers, could lop off ears, lips and noses, and could twist
the arms of her victims behind them, by dislocating them at the
shoulders. There were tens of thousands of prisoners thus horridly

The empress was fond of music, and introduced to Russia the opera and
the theater. She was as intolerent to the Jews as her father had been,
banishing them all from the country. She lived in constant fear of
conspiracies and revolutions, and, as a desperate safeguard,
established a secret inquisitorial court to punish all who should
express any displeasure with the measures of government. Spies and
informers of the most worthless character filled the land, and
multitudes of the most virtuous inhabitants of the empire, falsely
accused, or denounced for a look, a shrug, or a harmless word, were
consigned to mutilation more dreadful and to exile more gloomy than
the grave.



From 1728 to 1762.

Lineage of Peter III.--Chosen by Elizabeth as Her Successor.--The
Bride Chosen for Peter.--Her Lineage.--The Courtship.--The
Marriage.--Autobiography of Catharine.--Anecdotes of Peter.--His
Neglect of Catharine and His Debaucheries.--Amusements of the Russian
Court.--Military Execution of a Rat.--Accession of Peter III. to the
Throne.--Supremacy of Catharine.--Her Repudiation Threatened.--The
Conspiracy.--Its Successful Accomplishment.

Peter the Third was grandson of Peter the Great. His mother, Anne, the
eldest daughter of Peter and Catharine, married the Duke of Holstein,
who inherited a duchy on the eastern shores of the Baltic containing
some four thousand square miles of territory and about three hundred
thousand inhabitants. Their son and only child, Peter, was born in the
ducal castle at Kiel, the capital of the duchy, in the year 1728. The
blood of Peter the Great of Russia, and of Charles the Twelfth of
Sweden mingled in the veins of the young duke, of which fact he was
exceedingly proud. Soon after the birth of Peter, his mother, Anne,
died. The father of Peter was son of the eldest sister of Charles
XII., and, as such, being the nearest heir, would probably have
succeeded to the throne of Sweden had not the king's sudden death, by
a cannon ball, prevented him from designating his successor. The
widowed father of Peter, thus disappointed in his hopes of obtaining
the crown of Sweden, which his aunt Ulrica, his mother's sister,
successfully grasped, lived in great retirement. The idea had not
occurred to him that the crown of imperial Russia could, by any
chance, descend to his son, and the education of Peter was conducted
to qualify him to preside over his little patrimonial duchy.

When young Peter was fourteen years of age, the Empress Elizabeth, his
maternal aunt, to the surprise and delight of the family, summoned the
young prince to St. Petersburg, intimating her intention to transmit
to him her crown. But Peter was a thoroughly worthless boy. All
ignoble qualities seemed to be combined in his nature without any
redeeming virtues. Elizabeth having thus provided twenty millions of
people with a sovereign, looked about to find for that sovereign a
suitable wife. Upon the banks of the Oder there was a small
_principality_, as it was called, containing some thirteen hundred
square miles, about the size of the State of Rhode Island. Christian
Augustus, the prince of this little domain, had a daughter, Sophia, a
child rather remarkable both for beauty and vivacity. She was one year
younger than Peter, and Elizabeth fixed her choice upon Sophia as the
future spouse of her nephew. Peter was, at this time, with the empress
in Moscow, and Sophia was sent for to spend some time in the Russian
capital before the marriage, that she might become acquainted with the
Russian language and customs.

Both of these children had been educated Protestants, but they were
required to renounce the Lutheran faith and accept that of the Greek
church. Children as they were, they did this, of course, as readily as
they would have changed their dresses. With this change of religion
Sophia received a new name, that of Catharine, and by this name she
was ever afterward called. When these children, to whom the government
of the Russian empire was to be intrusted, first met, Peter was
fifteen years of age and Catharine fourteen. Catharine subsequently
commenced a minute journal, an autobiography of these her youthful
days, which opens vividly to our view the corruptions of the Russian
court. Nothing can be more wearisome than the life there developed. No
thought whatever seemed to be directed by the court to the interests
of the Russian people. They were no more thought of than the jaded
horses who dragged the chariots of the nobles. It is amazing that the
indignation of the millions can have slumbered so long.

Catharine, in her memoirs, naively describes young Peter, when she
first saw him, as "weak, ugly, little and sickly." From the age of ten
he had been addicted to intoxicating drinks. It was the 9th of
February, 1744, when Catharine was taken to Moscow. Peter, or, as he
was then called, the grand duke, was quite delighted to see the pretty
girl who was his destined wife, and began immediately to entertain
Catharine, as she says, "by informing me that he was in love with one
of the maids of honor to the empress, and that he would have been very
glad to have married her, but that he was resigned to marry me
instead, as his aunt wished it."

The grand duke had the faculty of making himself excessively
disagreeable to every one around him, and the affianced _haters_ were
in a constant quarrel. Peter could develop nothing but stupid
malignity. Catharine could wield the weapons of keen and cutting
sarcasm, which Peter felt as the mule feels the lash. Catharine's
mother had accompanied her to Moscow, but the bridal wardrobe, for a
princess, was extremely limited.

"I had arrived," she writes, "in Russia very badly provided for. If I
had three or four dresses in the world, it was the very outside, and
this at a court where people changed their dress three times a day. A
dozen chemises constituted the whole of my linen, and I had to use my
mother's sheets."

Soon after Catharine's arrival, the grand duke was taken with the
small-pox, and his natural ugliness was rendered still more revolting
by the disfigurement it caused. On the 10th of February, 1745, when
Catharine had been one year at Moscow, the grand duke celebrated his
seventeenth birthday. In her journal Catharine writes that Peter
seldom saw her, and was always glad of any excuse by which he could
avoid paying her any attention. Though Catharine cared as little for
him, still, with girlish ambition, she was eager to marry him, as she
very frankly records, in consideration of the crown which he would
place upon her brow, and her womanly nature was stung by his neglect.

"I fully perceived," she writes, "his want of interest, and how little
I was cared for. My self-esteem and vanity grieved in silence; but I
was too proud to complain. I should have thought myself degraded had
any one shown me a friendship which I could have taken for pity.
Nevertheless I shed tears when alone, then quietly dried them up, and
went to romp with my maids.

"I labored, however," writes Catharine, "to gain the affection of
every one. Great or small I neglected no one, but laid it down to
myself as a rule to believe that I stood in need of every one, and so
to act, in consequence, as to obtain the good will of all, and I
succeeded in doing so."

The 21st of August of this year was fixed for the nuptial day.
Catharine looked forward to it with extreme repugnance. Peter was
revolting in his aspect, disgusting in manners, a drunkard, and
licentious to such a degree that he took no pains to conceal his
amours. But the crown of Russia was in the eyes of Catharine so
glittering a prize, though then she had not entered her sixteenth
year, that she was willing to purchase it even at the price of
marrying Peter, the only price at which it could be obtained. She was
fully persuaded that Peter, with a feeble constitution and wallowing
in debauchery, could not live long, and that, at his death, she would
be undisputed empress.

"As the day of our nuptials approached," she writes, "I became more
and more melancholy. My heart predicted but little happiness; ambition
alone sustained me. In my inmost soul there was something which led me
never to doubt, for a single moment, that sooner or later I should
become sovereign empress of Russia in my own right."

The marriage was celebrated with much pomp; but a more cold and
heartless union was perhaps never solemnized. Catharine very
distinctly intimates that her husband, who was as low in his tastes
and companionship as he was degraded in his vices, left her at the
altar, to return to his more congenial harem.

"My beloved spouse," she writes, "did not trouble himself in the
slightest degree about me; but was constantly with his valets, playing
at soldiers, exercising them in his room, or changing his uniform
twenty times a day. I yawned and grew weary, having no one to speak

Again she writes, "A fortnight after our marriage he confessed to me
that he was in love with Mademoiselle Carr, maid of honor to her
imperial majesty. He said that there was no comparison between that
lady and me. Surely, said I to myself, it would be impossible for me
not to be wretched with such a man as this were I to give way to
sentiments of tenderness thus requited. I might die of jealousy
without benefit to any one. I endeavored to master my feelings so as
not to be jealous of the man who did not love me. I was naturally
well-disposed, but I should have required a husband who had common
sense, which this one had not."

For amusement, the grand duke played cruelly with dogs in his room,
pretending to train them, whipping them from corner to corner. When
tired of this he would scrape execrably on a violin. He had many
little puppet soldiers, whom, hour after hour, he would marshal on the
floor in mimic war. He would dress his own servants and the maids of
Catharine in masks, and set them dancing, while he would dance with
them, playing at the same time on the fiddle.

"With rare perseverance," writes Catharine, "the grand duke trained a
pack of dogs, and with heavy blows of his whip, and cries like those
of the huntsmen, made them fly from one end to the other of his two
rooms, which were all he had. Such of the dogs as became tired, or got
out of rank, were severely punished, which made them howl still more.
On one occasion, hearing one of these animals howl piteously and for a
long time, I opened the door of my bed-room, where I was seated, and
which adjoined the apartment in which this scene was enacted, and saw
him holding this dog by the collar, suspended in the air, while a boy,
who was in his service, a Kalmuck by birth, held the animal by the
tail. It was a poor little King Charles spaniel, and the duke was
beating him with all his might with the heavy handle of a whip. I
interceded for the poor beast; but this only made him redouble his
blows. Unable to bear so cruel a scene, I returned to my room with
tears in my eyes. In general, tears and cries, instead of moving the
duke to pity, put him in a passion. Pity was a feeling that was
painful and even insupportable in his mind."

At one time there was a little hunchback girl in the court, upon whom
the duke fixed his vagrant desires, and she became his unconcealed
favorite. The duke was ever in the habit of talking freely with
Catharine about his paramours and praising their excellent qualities.

"Madame Vladisma said to me," writes Catharine, "that every one was
disgusted to see this little hunchback preferred to me. 'It can not be
helped,' I said, as the tears started to my eyes. I went to bed;
scarcely was I asleep, when the grand duke also came to bed. As he was
tipsy and knew not what he was doing, he spoke to me for the purpose
of expatiating on the eminent qualities of his favorite. To check his
garrulity I pretended to be fast asleep. He spoke still louder in
order to wake me; but finding that I slept, he gave me two or three
rather hard blows in the side with his fist, and dropped asleep
himself. I wept long and bitterly that night, as well on account of
the matter itself and the blows he had given me, as on that of my
general situation, which was, in all respects, as disagreeable as it
was wearisome."

One of the ridiculous and disgraceful amusements of the vulgar men and
women collected in the court of Elizabeth, was what was called
masquerade balls, in which all the men were required to dress as
women, and all the women as men, and yet no masks were worn.

"The men," Catharine writes, "wore large whaleboned petticoats, with
women's gowns, and the head-dresses worn on court days, while the
women appeared in the court costume of men. The men did not like these
reversals of their sex, and the greater part of them were in the worst
possible humor on these occasions, because they felt themselves to be
hideous in such disguises. The women looked like scrubby little boys,
while the more aged among them had thick short legs which were any
thing but ornamental. The only woman who looked really well, and
completely a man, was the empress herself. As she was very tall and
somewhat powerful, male attire suited her wonderfully well. She had
the handsomest leg I have ever seen with any man, and her foot was
admirably proportioned. She danced to perfection, and every thing she
did had a special grace, equally so whether she dressed as a man or a

Enervating and degrading pleasure and ambitious or revengeful wars,
engrossed the whole attention of the Russian court during the reign of
Elizabeth. The welfare of the people was not even thought of. The
following anecdote, illustrative of the character of Peter III., is
worthy of record in the words of Catharine:

"One day, when I went into the apartments of his imperial highness, I
beheld a great rat which he had hung, with all the paraphernalia of an
execution. I asked what all this meant. He told me that this rat had
committed a great crime, which, according to the laws of war, deserved
capital punishment. It had climbed the ramparts of a fortress of
card-board, which he had on a table in his cabinet, and had eaten two
sentinels, made of pith, who were on duty in the bastions. His setter
had caught the criminal, he had been tried by martial law and
immediately hung; and, as I saw, was to remain three days exposed as
a public example. In justification of the rat," continues Catharine,
"it may at least be said, that he was hung without having been
questioned or heard in his own defense."

It is not surprising that a woman, young, beautiful and vivacious,
living in a court where corruption was all around her, where an
unmarried empress was rendering herself notorious by her gallantries,
stung to the quick by the utter neglect of her husband, insulted by
the presence of his mistresses, and disgusted by his unmitigated
boobyism, should have sought solace in the friendship of others. And
it is not strange that such friendships should have ripened into love,
and that one thus tempted should have fallen. Catharine in her memoirs
does not deny her fall, though she can not refrain from allowing an
occasional word to drop from her pen, evidently intended in
extenuation. Much which is called virtue consists in the absence of

Catharine's first son, Paul, was born on the 20th of September, 1753.
He was unquestionably the son of Count Sottikoff, a nobleman alike
distinguished for the graces of his person and of his mind. Through a
thousand perils and cunning intrigues, Catharine and the count
prosecuted their amour. Woe was, as usual, to both of them the result.
The empress gives a very touching account of her sufferings, in both
body and mind, on the occasion of the birth of her child.

"As for me," she writes, "I did nothing but weep and moan in my bed. I
neither could or would see anybody, I felt so miserable. I buried
myself in my bed, where I did nothing but grieve. When the forty days
of my confinement were over, the empress came a second time into my
chamber. My child was brought into my room; it was the first time I
had seen him since his birth."

One day Peter brought into his wife's room, for her amusement, a
letter which he had just received from one of his mistresses, Madame
Teploff. Showing the letter to Catharine, he said,

"Only think! she writes me a letter of four whole pages, and expects
that I should read it, and, what is more, answer it also; I, who have
to go to parade, then dine, then attend the rehearsal of an opera, and
the ballet which the cadets will dance at. I will tell her plainly
that I have not time, and, if she is vexed, I will quarrel with her
till next winter."

"That will certainly be the shortest way," Catharine coolly replied.
"These traits," she very truly adds in her narrative, "are
characteristic, and they will not therefore be out of place."

Such was the man and such the woman who succeeded to the throne of
Russia upon the death of the Empress Elizabeth. She had hardly emitted
her last breath, ere the courtiers, impatiently awaiting the event,
rushed to the apartments of the grand duke to congratulate him upon
his accession to the crown. He immediately mounted on horseback and
traversed the streets of St. Petersburg, scattering money among the
crowd. The soldiers gathered around him exclaiming, "Take care of us
and we will take care of you," Though the grand duke had been very
unpopular there was no outburst of opposition. The only claim Peter
III. had to the confidence of the nation was the fact that he was
grandson of Peter the Great. Conspiracies were, however, immediately
set on foot to eject him from the throne and give Catharine his seat.
Catharine had a high reputation for talent, and being very
affectionate in her disposition and cordial in her manners, had troops
of friends. Indeed, it is not strange that public sentiment should not
only have extenuated her faults, but should almost have applauded
them. Forgetting the commandments of God, and only remembering that
her brutal husband richly merited retaliation, the public almost
applauded the spirit with which she conducted her intrigues. The same
sentiment pervaded England when the miserable George IV. goaded his
wife to frenzy, and led her, in uncontrollable exasperation, to pay
him back in his own coin.

Fortunately for the imbecile Peter, he had enough sense to appreciate
the abilities of Catharine; and a sort of maudlin idea of justice, if
it were not, perhaps, utter stupidity, dissuaded him from resenting
her freedom in the choice of favorites. Upon commencing his reign, he
yielded himself to the guidance of her imperial mind, hoping to obtain
some dignity by the renown which her measures might reflect upon him.
Catharine advised him very wisely. She caused seventeen thousand
exiles to be recalled from Siberia, and abolished the odious secret
court of chancery--that court of political inquisition which, for
years, had kept all Russia trembling.

For a time, Russia resounded with the praises of the new sovereign,
and when Peter III. entered the senate and read an act permitting the
nobility to bear arms, or not, at their own discretion, and to visit
foreign countries whenever they pleased, a privilege which they had
not enjoyed before, the gratitude of the nobles was unbounded. It
should, however, be recorded that this edict proved to be but a dead
letter. It was expected that the nobles, as a matter of courtesy,
should always ask permission to leave, and this request was frequently
not granted. The secret tribunal, to which we have referred, exposed
persons of all ranks and both sexes to be arrested upon the slightest
suspicion. The accused was exposed to the most horrible tortures to
compel a confession. When every bone was broken and every joint
dislocated, and his body was mangled by the crushing wheel, if he
still had endurance to persist in his denial, the accuser was, in his
turn, placed upon the wheel, and every nerve of agony was tortured to
force a recantation of the charge.

Though Peter III. promulgated the wise edicts which were placed in his
hands, he had become so thoroughly imbruted by his dissolute life that
he made no attempt to tear himself away from his mistresses and his
drunken orgies.

Peter III. was quite infatuated in his admiration of Frederic of
Prussia. One of his first acts upon attaining the reins of government
was to dispatch an order forbidding the Russian armies any longer to
coöperate with Austria against Prussia. This command was speedily
followed by another, directing the Russian generals to hold themselves
and their troops obedient to the instructions of Frederic, and to
coöperate in every way with him to repel their former allies, the
Austrians. It was the caprice of a drunken semi-idiot which thus
rescued Frederic the Great from disgrace and utter ruin. The Emperor
of Prussia had sufficient sagacity to foresee that Peter III. would
not long maintain his seat upon the throne. He accordingly directed
his minister at St. Petersburg, while continuing to live in great
intimacy with the tzar, to pay the most deferential attention to the

There was no end to the caprices of Peter the drunkard. At one time he
would leave the whole administration of affairs in the hands of
Catharine, and again he would treat her in the most contemptuous and
insulting manner. In one of the pompous ceremonials of the court, when
the empress, adorned with all the marks of imperial dignity, shared
the throne with Peter, the tzar called one of his mistresses to the
conspicuous seat he occupied with the empress, and made her sit down
by his side. Catharine immediately rose and retired. At a public
festival that same evening, Peter, half drunk, publicly and loudly
launched at her an epithet the grossest which could be addressed to a
woman. Catharine was so shocked that she burst into tears. The
sympathy of the spectators was deeply excited in her behalf, and their
indignation roused against the tzar.

While Peter III. was developing his true character of brute and
buffoon, gathering around him the lowest profligates, and reveling in
the most debasing and vulgar vices, Catharine, though guilty and
unhappy, was holding her court with dignity and affability, which
charmed all who approached her. She paid profound respect to the
external observances of religion, daily performing her devotions in
the churches, accosting the poor with benignity, treating the clergy
with marked respect, and winning all hearts by her kindness and

One of the mistresses of Peter III., the Countess Vorontzof, had
gained such a boundless influence over her paramour, that she had
extorted from him the promise that he would repudiate Catharine, marry
her, and crown her as empress. Elated by this promise, she had the
imprudence to boast of it. Her father and several of the courtiers
whose fortunes her favor would secure, were busy in paving her way to
the throne. The numerous friends of Catharine were excited, and were
equally active in thwarting the plans of the tzar. Peter took no pains
to conceal his intentions, and gloried in proclaiming the illegitimacy
of Paul, the son of the empress. Loathsome as his own life was, he
seemed to think that his denunciations of Catharine, whose purity he
had insulted and whose heart he had crushed, would secure for him the
moral support of his subjects and of Europe. But he was mistaken. The
sinning Catharine was an angel of purity compared with the beastly

It was necessary for Peter to move with caution, for Catharine had
ability, energy, innumerable friends, and was one of the last women in
the world quietly to submit to be plunged into a dungeon, and then to
be led to the scaffold, and by such a man as her despicable spouse.
Peter III. was by no means a match for Catharine. About twelve miles
from St. Petersburg, on the southern shore of the Bay of Cronstadt,
and nearly opposite the renowned fortresses of Cronstadt which command
the approaches to St. Petersburg, was the imperial summer palace of
Peterhof, which for some time had been the favorite residence of
Catharine. A few miles further down the bay, which runs east and west,
was the palace of Oranienbaum, in the decoration of which many
succeeding monarchs had lavished large sums. This was Peter's
favorite resort, and its halls ever echoed with the carousings of the
prince and his boon companions. Every year, on the 8th of July, there
is a grand festival at Peterhof in honor of Peter and Paul, the patron
saints of the imperial house. This was the time fixed upon by
Catharine and her friends for the accomplishment of their plans. The
tzar, on the evening of the 8th of July, was at Oranienbaum,
surrounded by a bevy of the most beautiful females of his court.
Catharine was at Peterhof. It was a warm summer's night, and the queen
lodged in a small _cottage orné_ called Montplaisir, which was
situated in the garden. They had not intended to carry their plot into
execution that night, but an alarm precipitated their action. At two
o'clock in the morning Catharine was awoke from a sound sleep, by some
one of her friends entering her room, exclaiming,

"Your majesty has not a moment to lose. Rise and follow me!"

Catharine, alarmed, called her confidential attendant, dressed
hurriedly in disguise, and entered a carriage which was waiting for
her at the garden gate. The horses were goaded to their utmost speed
on the road to St. Petersburg, and so inconsiderately that soon one of
them fell in utter exhaustion. They were still at some distance from
the city, and the energetic empress alighted and pressed forward on
foot. Soon they chanced to meet a peasant, driving a light cart. Count
Orloff, who was a reputed lover of Catharine, and was guiding in this
movement, seized the horse, placed the empress in the cart, and drove
on. These delays had occupied so much time that it was seven o'clock
in the morning before they reached St. Petersburg. The empress, with
her companions, immediately proceeded to the barracks, where most of
the soldiers were quartered, and whose officers had been gained over,
and threw herself upon their protection.

"Danger," she said to the soldiers, "has compelled me to fly to you
for help. The tzar had intended to put me to death, together with my
son. I had no other means of escaping death than by flight. I throw
myself into your arms!"

Such an appeal from a woman, beautiful, beloved and imploring
protection from the murderous hands of one who was hated and despised,
inspired every bosom with indignation and with enthusiasm in her
behalf. With one impulse they took an oath to die, if necessary, in
her defense; and cries of "Long live the empress" filled the air. In
two hours Catharine found herself at the head of several thousand
veteran soldiers. She was also in possession of the arsenals; and the
great mass of the population of St. Petersburg were clamorously
advocating her cause.

Accompanied by a numerous and brilliant suite, the empress then
repaired to the metropolitan church, where the archbishop and a great
number of ecclesiastics, whose coöperation had been secured, received
her, and the venerable archbishop, a man of imposing character and
appearance, dressed in his sacerdotal robes, led her to the altar, and
placing the imperial crown upon her head, proclaimed her sovereign of
all the Russias, with the title of Catharine the Second. A _Te Deum_
was then chanted, and the shouts of the multitude proclaimed the
cordiality with which the populace accepted the revolution. The
empress then repaired to the imperial palace, which was thrown open to
all the people, and which, for hours, was thronged with the masses,
who fell upon their knees before her, taking their oath of allegiance.

The friends of Catharine were, in the meantime, everywhere busy in
putting the city in a state of defense, and in posting cannon to sweep
the streets should Peter attempt resistance. The tzar seemed to be
left without a friend. No one even took the trouble to inform him of
what was transpiring. Troops in the vicinity were marched into the
city, and before the end of the day, Catharine found herself at the
head of fifteen thousand men; the most formidable defenses were
arranged, strict order prevailed, and not a drop of blood had been
shed. The manifesto of the empress, which had been secretly printed,
was distributed throughout the city, and a day appointed when the
foreign embassadors would be received by Catharine. The revolution
seemed already accomplished without a struggle and almost without an



From 1762 to 1765.

Peter III. at Oranienbaum.--Catharine at Peterhof.--The Successful
Accomplishment of the Conspiracy.--Terror of Peter.--His Vacillating
and Feeble Character.--Flight to Cronstadt.--Repulse.--Heroic Counsel
of Munich.--Peter's Return to Oranienbaum.--His Suppliant Letters to
Catharine.--His Arrest.--Imprisonment.--Assasination.--Proclamation of
the Empress. Her Complicity in the Crime.--Energy of Catharine's
Administration.--Her Expansive Views and Sagacious
Policy.--Contemplated Marriage with Count Orlof.

It was the morning of the 19th of July, 1762. Peter, at Oranienbaum,
had passed most of the night, with his boon companions and his
concubines, in intemperate carousings. He awoke at a late hour in the
morning, and after breakfast set out in a carriage, with several of
his women, accompanied by a troop of courtiers in other carriages, for
Peterhof. The gay party were riding at a rapid rate over the beautiful
shore road, looking out upon the Bay of Cronstadt, when they were met
by a messenger from Peterhof, sent to inform them that the empress had
suddenly disappeared during the night. Peter, upon receiving this
surprising intelligence, turned pale as ashes, and alighting,
conversed for some time anxiously with the messenger. Entering his
carriage again, he drove with the utmost speed to Peterhof, and with
characteristic silliness began to search the cupboards, closets, and
under the bed for the empress. Those of greater penetration foresaw
what had happened, but were silent, that they might not add to his

In the meantime some peasants, who had come from St. Petersburg,
related to a group of servants rumors they had heard of the
insurrection in that city. A fearful gloom oppressed all, and Peter
was in such a state of terror that he feared to ask any questions. As
they were standing thus mute with confusion and dismay, a countryman
rode up, and making a profound bow to the tzar, presented him with a
note. Peter ran his eyes hastily over it, and then read it aloud. It
communicated the appalling intelligence which we have just recorded.

The consternation into which the whole imperial party was thrown no
language can describe. The women were in tears. The courtiers could
offer not a word of encouragement or counsel. One, the king's
chancellor, with the tzar's consent, set off for St. Petersburg to
attempt to rouse the partisans of the tzar; but he could find none
there. The wretched Peter was now continually receiving corroborative
intelligence of the insurrection, and he strode up and down the walks
of the garden, forming innumerable plans and adhering to none.

The tzar had a guard of three thousand troops at his palace of
Oranienbaum. At noon these approached Peterhof led by their veteran
commander, Munich. This energetic officer urged an immediate march
upon St. Petersburg.

"Believe me," said Munich, "you have many friends in the city. The
royal guard will rally around your standard when they see it
approaching; and if we are forced to fight, the rebels will make but a
short resistance."

While he was urging this energetic measure, and the women and the
courtiers were trying to dissuade him from the step, and were
entreating him to go back to Oranienbaum, news arrived that the troops
of the empress, twenty thousand in number, were on the march to arrest

"Well," said Munich to the tzar, "if you wish to decline a battle, it
is not wise at any rate to remain here, where you have no means of
defense. Neither Oranienbaum nor Peterhof can withstand a siege. But
Cronstadt offers you a safe retreat. Cronstadt is still under your
command. You have there a formidable fleet and a numerous garrison.
From Cronstadt you will find it easy to bring Petersburg back to

The fortresses of Cronstadt are situated on an island of the same
name, at the mouth of a bay which presents the only approach to St.
Petersburg. This fortress, distant about thirty miles west of St.
Petersburg, may be said to be impregnable. In the late war with Russia
it bade defiance to the combined fleets of France and England. As we
have before mentioned, Peterhof and Oranienbaum were pleasure-palaces,
situated on the eastern shore of the Bay of Cronstadt, but a few miles
from the fortress and but a few miles from each other. The gardens of
these palaces extend to the waters of the bay, where there are ever
riding at anchor a fleet of pleasure-boats and royal yachts.

The advice of Munich was instantly adopted. A boat was sent off
conveying an officer to take command of the fortress, while, in the
meantime, two yachts were got ready for the departure of the tzar and
his party. Peter and his affrighted court hastened on board,
continually looking over their shoulders fearing to catch a sight of
the troops of the queen, whose appearance they every moment
apprehended. But the energetic Catharine had anticipated this
movement, and her emissaries had already gained the soldiers of the
garrison, and were in possession of Cronstadt.

As the two yachts, which conveyed Peter and his party, entered the
harbor, they found the garrison, under arms, lining the coast. The
cannons were leveled, the matches lighted, and the moment the foremost
yacht, which contained the emperor, cast anchor, a sentinel cried out,

"Who comes there?"

"The emperor," was the answer from the yacht.

"There is no emperor," the sentinel replied.

Peter III. started forward upon the deck, and, throwing back his
cloak, exhibited the badges of his order, exclaiming,

"What! do you not know me?"

"No!" cried a thousand voices; "we know of no emperor. Long live the
Empress Catharine II."

They then threatened immediately to sink the yacht unless the tzar

The heroic Munich urged the tzar to an act of courage of which he was
totally incapable.

"Let us leap on shore," said he; "none will dare to fire on you, and
Cronstadt will still be your majesty's."

But Peter, in dismay, fled into the cabin, hid himself among his
women, and ordered the cable instantly to be cut, and the yacht to be
pulled out to sea by the oars. They were soon beyond the reach of the
guns. It was now night, serene and beautiful; the sea was smooth as
glass, and the stars shone with unusual splendor in the clear sky. The
poltroon monarch of all the Russias had not yet ventured upon deck,
but was trembling in his cabin, surrounded by his dismayed mistresses,
when the helmsman entered the cabin and said to the tzar,

"Sire, to what port is it your majesty's pleasure that I should take
the vessel?"

Peter gazed, for a moment, in consternation and bewilderment, and then
sent for Munich.

"Field marshal," said he, "I perceive that I was too late in following
your advice. You see to what extremities I am reduced. Tell me, I
beseech you, what I ought to do."

About two hundred miles from where they were, directly down the Gulf
of Finland, was the city of Revel, one of the naval depots of Russia.
A large squadron of ships of war was riding at anchor there. Munich,
as prompt in council as he was energetic in action, replied,

"Proceed immediately to join the squadron at Revel. There take a
ship, and go on to Pomerania.[17] Put yourself at the head of your
army, return to Russia, and I promise you that in six weeks Petersburg
and all the rest of the empire will be in subjection to you."

[Footnote 17: Pomerania was one of the duchies of Prussia, where the
Russian army, in coöperation with the King of Prussia, was assembled.
Frederic might, perhaps, have sent his troops to aid Peter in the
recovery of his crown.]

The women and the courtiers, with characteristic timidity,
remonstrated against a measure so decisive, and, believing that the
empress would not be very implacable, entreated the tzar to negotiate
rather than fight. Peter yielded to their senseless solicitations, and
ordered them to make immediately for Oranienbaum. They reached the
dock at four o'clock in the morning. Peter hastened to his apartment,
and wrote a letter to the empress, which he dispatched by a courier.
In this letter he made a humble confession of his faults, and promised
to share the sovereign authority with Catharine if she would consent
to reconciliation. The empress was, at this time, at the head of her
army within about twenty miles of Oranienbaum. During the night, she
had slept for a few hours upon some cloaks which the officers of her
suite had spread for her bed. Catharine, knowing well that perjury was
one of the most trivial of the faults of the tzar, made no reply, but
pressed forward with her troops.

Peter, soon receiving information of the advance of the army, ordered
one of his fleetest horses to be saddled, and dressed himself in
disguise, intending thus to effect his escape to the frontiers of
Poland. But, with his constitutional irresolution, he soon abandoned
this plan, and, ordering the fortress of Oranienbaum to be dismantled,
to convince Catharine that he intended to make no resistance, he wrote
to the empress another letter still more humble and sycophantic than
the first. He implored her forgiveness in terms of the most abject
humiliation. He assured her that he was ready to resign to her
unconditionally the crown of Russia, and that he only asked
permission to retire to his native duchy of Holstein, and that the
empress would graciously grant him a pension for his support.

Catharine read the letter, but deigning no reply, sent back the
chamberlain who brought it, with a verbal message to her husband that
she could enter into no negotiations with him, and could only accept
his unconditional submission. The chamberlain, Ismailof, returned to
Oranienbaum. The tzar had with him there only his Holstein guard
consisting of six hundred men. Ismailof urged the tzar, as the only
measure of safety which now remained, to abandon his troops, who could
render him no defense, and repair to the empress, throwing himself
upon her mercy. For a short time the impotent mind of the degraded
prince was in great turmoil. But as was to be expected, he surrendered
himself to the humiliation. Entering his carriage, he rode towards
Peterhof to meet the empress. Soon he encountered the battalions on
the march for his capture. Silently they opened their ranks and
allowed him to enter, and then, closing around him, they stunned him
with shouts of, "Long live Catharine."

The miserable man had the effrontery to take with him, in his
carriage, one of his mistresses. As she alighted at the palace of
Peterhof, some of the soldiers tore the ribbons from her dress. The
tzar was led up the grand stair-case, stripped of the insignia of
imperial power, and was shut up, and carefully guarded in one of the
chambers of the palace. Count Panin then visited him, by order of the
empress, and demanded of him the abdication of the crown, informing
him that having thus abdicated, he would be sent back to his native
duchy and would enjoy the dignity of Duke of Holstein for the
remainder of his days. Peter was now as pliant as wax. Aided by the
count, he wrote and signed the following declaration:

"During the short space of my absolute reign over the empire of
Russia, I became sensible that I was not able to support so great a
burden, and that my abilities were not equal to the task of governing
so great an empire, either as a sovereign or in any other capacity
whatever. I also foresaw the great troubles which must thence have
arisen, and have been followed with the total ruin of the empire, and
my own eternal disgrace. After having therefore seriously reflected
thereon, I declare, without constraint, and in the most solemn manner,
to the Russian empire and to the whole universe, that I for ever
renounce the government of the said empire, never desiring hereafter
to reign therein, either as an absolute sovereign, or under any other
form of government; never wishing to aspire thereto, or to use any
means, of any sort, for that purpose. As a pledge of which I swear
sincerely before God and all the world to this present renunciation,
written and signed this 29th day of June, O.S. 1762."[18]

[Footnote 18: By the Gregorian Calendar or New Style, adopted by Pope
Gregory XIII. in 1582, ten days were dropped after the 4th of October,
and the 5th was reckoned as the 15th. Thus the 29th of June, O.S.
would be July 8, N.S.]

Peter III., having placed this abdication in the hands of Count Panin,
seemed quite serene, fancying himself safe, at least from bodily harm.
In the evening, however, an officer, with a strong escort, came and
conveyed him a prisoner to Ropscha, a small imperial palace about
fifteen miles from Peterhof. Peter, after his disgraceful reign of six
months, was now imprisoned in a palace; and his wife, whom he had
intended to repudiate and probably to behead, was now sovereign
Empress of Russia. In the evening, the thunderings of the cannon upon
the ramparts of St. Petersburg announced the victory of Catharine. She
however slept that night at Peterhof, and in the morning received the
homage of the nobility, who from all quarters flocked around her to
give in their adhesion to her reign.

Field Marshal Munich, who with true fealty had stood by Peter III. to
the last, urging him to unfurl the banner of the tzar and fight
heroically for his crown, appeared with the rest. The noble old man
with an unblushing brow entered the presence of Catharine. As soon as
she perceived him she called aloud,

"Field marshal, it was you, then, who wanted to fight me?"

"Yes, madam," Munich answered, in a manly tone; "could I do less for
the prince who delivered me from captivity? But it is henceforth my
duty to fight for you, and you will find in me a fidelity equal to
that with which I had devoted my services to him."[19]

[Footnote 19: Marshal Munich was eighty-two years of age. Elizabeth
had sent him to Siberian exile. Peter liberated him. Upon his return
to Moscow, after twenty years of exile, he found one son living, and
twenty-two grandchildren and great grandchildren whom he had never
seen. When the heroic old man presented himself before the tzar
dressed in the sheep-skin coat he had worn in Siberia, Peter said,

"I hope, notwithstanding your age, you may still serve me."

Munich replied, "Since your majesty has brought me from darkness to
light, and called me from the depths of a cavern, to admit me to the
foot of the throne, you will find me ever ready to expose my life in
your service. Neither a tedious exile nor the severity of a Siberian
climate have been able to extinguish, or even to damp, the ardor I
have formerly shown for the interests of Russia and the glory of its

In the afternoon, the empress returned to St. Petersburg. She entered
the city on horseback, accompanied by a brilliant retinue of nobles,
and followed by her large army of fifteen thousand troops. All the
soldiers wore garlands of oak leaves. The immense crowds in the city
formed lines for the passage of the empress, scattered flowers in her
path, and greeted her with constant bursts of acclaim. All the streets
through which she passed were garlanded and spanned with triumphal
arches, the bells rang their merriest peals, and military salutes
bellowed from all the ramparts. As the high ecclesiastics crowded to
meet her, they kissed her hand, while she, in accordance with Russian
courtesy, kissed their cheeks.

Catharine summoned the senate, and presided over its deliberations
with wonderful dignity and grace. The foreign ministers, confident in
the stability of her reign, hastened to present their congratulations.
Peter found even a few hours in the solitude of the palace of Ropscha
exceedingly oppressive; he accordingly sent to the empress, soliciting
the presence of a negro servant to whom he was much attached, and
asking also for his dog, his violin, a Bible and a few novels.

"I am disgusted," he wrote, "with the wickedness of mankind, and am
resolved henceforth to devote myself to a philosophical life."

After Peter had been six days at Ropscha, one morning two nobles, who
had been most active in the revolution which had dethroned the tzar,
entered his apartment, and, after conversing for a time, brandy was
brought in. The cup of which the tzar drank was poisoned! He was soon
seized with violent colic pains. The assassins then threw him upon the
floor, tied a napkin around his neck, and strangled him. Count Orlof,
the most intimate friend of the empress, and who was reputed to be her
paramour, was one of these murderers. He immediately mounted his
horse, and rode to St. Petersburg to inform the empress that Peter was
dead. Whether Catharine was a party to this assassination, or whether
it was perpetrated entirely without her knowledge, is a question which
now can probably never be decided. It is very certain that the grief
she manifested was all feigned, and that the assassins were rewarded
for their devotion to her interests. She shut herself up for a few
days, assuming the aspect of a mourner, and issued to her subjects a
declaration announcing the death of the late tzar. When one enters
upon the declivity of crime, the descent is ever rapid. The innocent
girl, who, but a few years before, had entered the Russian court from
her secluded ancestral castle a spotless child of fifteen, was now
most deeply involved in intrigues and sins. It is probable, indeed,
that she had not intended the death of her husband, but had designed
sending him to Holstein and providing for him abundantly, for the rest
of his days, with dogs and wine, and leaving him to his own
indulgences. It is certain, however, that the empress did not punish,
or even dismiss from her favor, the murderers of Peter. She announced
to the nation his death in the following terms:

"_By the Grace of God, Catharine II., Empress of all the Russias, to
our loving Subjects, Greeting:_

"The seventh day after our accession to the throne of all the Russias,
we received information that the late emperor, Peter III., was
attacked with a most violent colic. That we might not be wanting in
Christian duty, or disobedient to the divine command by which we are
enjoined to preserve the life of our neighbor, we immediately ordered
that the said Peter should be furnished with every thing that might be
judged necessary to restore his health by the aids of medicine. But,
to our great regret and affliction, we were yesterday evening apprised
that, by the permission of the Almighty, the late emperor departed
this life. We have therefore ordered his body to be conveyed to the
monastery of Nefsky, in order to its interment in that place. At the
same time, with our imperial and maternal voice, we exhort our
faithful subjects to forgive and forget what is past, to pay the last
duties to his body, and to pray to God sincerely for the repose of his
soul, wishing them, however, to consider this unexpected and sudden
death as an especial effect of the providence of God, whose
impenetrable decrees are working for us, for our throne, and for our
country things known only to his holy will.

"Done at St. Petersburg, July 7th (N.S., July 18th), 1762."

The news of the revolution soon spread throughout Russia, and the
nobles generally acquiesced in it without a murmur. The masses of the
people no more thought of expressing or having an opinion than did
the sheep. One of the first acts of the empress was to send an embassy
to Frederic of Prussia, announcing,

"That she was resolved to observe inviolably the peace recently
concluded with Prussia; but that nevertheless she had decided to bring
back to Russia all her troops in Silesia, Prussia and Pomerania."

All the sovereigns of Europe acknowledged the title of Catharine II.,
and some sent especial congratulations on her accession to the throne.
Maria Theresa, of Austria, was at first quite delighted, hoping that
Catharine would again unite the Russian troops with hers in hostility
to her great rival, Frederic. But in this expectation she was doomed
to bitter disappointment. The King of Prussia, in a confidential note
to Count Finkenstein, wrote of Catharine and the new reign as follows:

"The Emperor of Russia has been dethroned by his consort. It was to be
expected. That princess has much good sense, and the same friendly
relations towards us as the deceased. She has no religion, but acts
the devotee. The chancellor Bestuchef is her greatest favorite, and,
as he has a strong propensity to _guinées_ I flatter myself that I
shall be able to retain the friendship of the court. The poor emperor
wanted to imitate Peter I., but he had not the capacity for it."

The empress, taking with her her son Paul, and a very brilliant and
numerous suite of nobles, repaired to Moscow, where she was crowned
with unusual splendor. By marked attention to the soldiers, providing
most liberally for their comfort, she soon secured the enthusiastic
attachment of the army. By the most scrupulous observance of all the
external rites of religion, she won the confidence of the clergy. In
every movement Catharine exhibited wonderful sagacity and energy. It
was not to be supposed that the partisans of Peter III. would be
ejected from their places to give room for others, without making
desperate efforts to regain what they had lost. A very formidable
conspiracy was soon organized, and the friends of Catharine were
thrown into the greatest state of alarm. But her courage did not, for
one moment, forsake her.

"Why are you alarmed?" said she. "Think you that I fear to face this
danger; or rather do you apprehend that I know not how to overcome it?
Recollect that you have seen me, in moments far more terrible than
these, in full possession of all the vigor of my mind; and that I can
support the most cruel reverses of fortune with as much serenity as I
have supported her favors. Think you that a few mutinous soldiers are
to deprive me of a crown that I accepted with reluctance, and only as
the means of delivering the Russian nation from their miseries? They
cause me no alarm. That Providence which has called me to reign, will
preserve me for the glory and the happiness of the empire. That
almighty arm which has hitherto been my defense will now confound my

The revolt was speedily quelled. The celebrity of her administration
soon resounded from one end of Europe to the other. She presided over
the senate; assisted at all the deliberations of the council; read the
dispatches of the embassadors; wrote, with her own hand, or dictated
the answers, and watched carefully to see that all her orders were
faithfully executed. She studied the lives of the most distinguished
men, and was emulous of the renown of those who had been friends and
benefactors of the human race. There has seldom been a sovereign on
any throne more assiduously devoted to the cares of empire than was
Catharine II. In one of her first manifestoes, issued the 10th of
August of this year, she uttered the words, which her conduct proved
to be essentially true,

"Not only all that we have or may have, but also our life itself, we
have devoted to our dear country. We value nothing on our own account.
We serve not ourself. But we labor with all pains, with all diligence
and care for the glory and happiness of our people."

Catharine found corruption and bribery everywhere, and she engaged in
the work of reform with the energies of Hercules in cleansing the
Augean stables. She abolished, indignantly the custom, which had
existed for ages, of attempting to extort confession of crime by
torture. It is one of the marvels of human depravity that intelligent
minds could have been so imbruted as to tolerate, for a day, so
fiend-like a wrong. The whole system of inquisitorial investigations,
in both Church and State, was utterly abrogated. Foreigners were
invited to settle in the empire. The lands were carefully explored,
that the best districts might be pointed out for tillage, for forest
and for pasture. The following proclamation, inviting foreigners to
settle in Russia, shows the liberality and the comprehensive views
which animated the empress:

     "Any one who is destitute shall receive money for the expenses of
     his journey, and shall be forwarded to these free lands at the
     expense of the crown. On his arrival he shall receive a competent
     assistance, and even an advance of capital, free of interest, for
     ten years. The stranger is exempted from all service, either
     military or civil, and from all taxes for a certain time. In
     these new tracts of land the colonists may live according to
     their own good-will, under their own jurisdiction for thirty
     years. All religions are tolerated."

Thus encouraged, thousands flocked from Germany to the fresh and
fertile acres on the banks of the Volga and the Samara. The emigration
became so great that several of the petty German princes issued
prohibitions. In the rush of adventurers, of the indolent, the
improvident and the vicious, great suffering ensued. Desert wilds
were, however, peopled, and the children of the emigrants succeeded to
homes of comparative comfort. Settlers crowded to these lands even
from France, Poland and Sweden. Ten thousand families emigrated to the
district of Saratof alone.

"The world," said Catharine one day to the French minister, "will not
be able properly to judge of my administration till after five years.
It will require at least so much time to reduce the empire to order.
In the mean time I shall behave, with all the princes of Europe, like
a finished coquette. I have the finest army in the world. I have a
greater taste for war than for peace; but, I am restrained from war by
humanity, justice and reason. I shall not allow myself, like
Elizabeth, to be pressed into a war. I shall enter upon it when it
will prove advantageous to me, but never from complaisance to others."

A large number of the nobles, led by the chancellor of the empire, now
presented a petition to Catharine, urging her again to marry. After a
glowing eulogium on all the empress had done for the renown and
prosperity of Russia, they reminded her of the feeble constitution of
her son Paul, of the terrible calamity a disputed succession might
impose upon Russia, and entreated her to give an additional proof of
her devotion to the good of her subjects, by sacrificing her own
liberty to their welfare, in taking a spouse. This advice was quite in
harmony with the inclinations of the empress. Count Orlof, one of the
most conspicuous nobles of the court, and the prime actor in the
conspiracy which had overthrown and assassinated Peter III., was the
recognized favorite of Catharine. But Count Orlof had assumed such
haughty airs, regarding Catharine as indebted to him for her crown,
that he had rendered himself extremely unpopular; and so much
discontent was manifested in view of his elevation to the throne, that
Catharine did not dare to proceed with the measure. It is generally
supposed, however, that there was a sort of private marriage
instituted, of no real validity, between Catharine and Orlof, by which
the count became virtually the husband of the empress.

Catharine was now firmly established on the throne. The beneficial
effects of her administration were daily becoming more apparent in all
parts of Russia. Nothing which could be promotive of the prosperity of
the empire escaped her observation. With questions of commerce,
finance and politics she seemed equally familiar. On the 11th of
August, 1673, she issued an imperial edict written by her own hand, in
which it is said,

     "On the whole surface of the earth there is no country better
     adapted for commerce than our empire. Russia has spacious harbors
     in Europe, and, overland, the way is open through Poland to every
     region. Siberia extends, on one side, over all Asia, and India is
     not very remote from Orenburg. On the other side, Russia seems to
     touch on America. Across the Euxine is a passage, though as yet
     unexplored, to Egypt and Africa, and bountiful Providence has
     blessed the extensive provinces of our empire with such gifts of
     nature as can rarely be found in all the four quarters of the



From 1765 to 1774.

Energy of Catharine's Administration.--Titles of Honor Decreed to
Her.--Code of Laws Instituted.--The Assassination of the Empress
Attempted.--Encouragement of Learned Men.--Catharine Inoculated for
the Small-Pox.--New War with Turkey.--Capture of Crimea.--Sailing of
the Russian Fleet.--Great Naval Victory.--Visit of the Prussian Prince
Henry.--The Sleigh Ride.--Plans for the Partition of Poland.--The
Hermitage.--Marriage of the Grand Duke Paul.--Correspondence with
Voltaire and Diderot.

The friends and the foes of Catharine are alike lavish in their
encomiums upon her attempts to elevate Russia in prosperity and in
national greatness. Under her guidance an assembly was convened to
frame a code of laws, based on justice, and which should be supreme
throughout all Russia. The assembly prosecuted its work with great
energy, and, ere its dissolution, passed a resolution decreeing to the
empress the titles of "Great, Wise, Prudent, and Mother of the

To this decree Catharine modestly replied, "If I have rendered myself
worthy of the first title, it belongs to posterity to confer it upon
me. Wisdom and prudence are the gifts of Heaven, for which I daily
give thanks, without presuming to derive any merit from them myself.
The title of _Mother of the Country_ is, in my eyes, the most dear of
all,--the only one I can accept, and which I regard as the most benign
and glorious recompense for my labors and solicitudes in behalf of a
people whom I love."

The code of laws thus framed is a noble monument to the genius and
humanity of Catharine II. The principles of enlightened philanthropy
pervades the code, which recognizes the immutable principles of right,
and which seems designed to undermine the very foundations of
despotism. In the instructions which Catharine drew up for the
guidance of the assembly, she wrote,

"Laws should be framed with the sole object of conducting mankind to
the greatest happiness. It is our duty to mitigate the lot of those
who live in a state of dependence. The liberty and security of the
citizens ought to be the grand and precious object of all laws; they
should all tend to render life, honor and property as stable and
secure as the constitution of the government itself. It is
incomparably better to prevent crimes than to punish them. The use of
torture is contrary to sound reason. Humanity cries out against this
practice, and insists on its being abolished."

The condition of the peasantry, heavily taxed by the nobles, excited
her deepest commiseration. She wished their entire enfranchisement,
but was fully conscious that she was not strong enough to undertake so
sweeping a measure of reform. She insisted, however, "that laws should
be prescribed to the nobility, obliging them to act more circumspectly
in the manner of levying their dues, and to protect the peasant, so
that his condition might be improved and that he might be enabled to
acquire property."

A ruffian attempted to assassinate Catharine. He was arrested in the
palace, with a long dagger concealed in his dress, and without
hesitation confessed his design. Catharine had the assassin brought
into her presence, conversed mildly with him, and seeing that there
was no hope of disarming his fanaticism, banished him to Siberia. But
the innocent daughter of the guilty man she took under her protection,
and subsequently appointed her one of her maids of honor. In the year
1767, she sent a delegation of scientific men on a geological survey
into the interior of the empire, with directions to determine the
geographical position of the principal places, to mark their
temperature, their productions, their wealth, and the manners and
characters of the several people by whom they were inhabited. Russia
was then, as now, a world by itself, peopled by innumerable tribes or
nations, with a great diversity of climates, and with an infinite
variety of manners and customs. A large portion of the country was
immersed in the profoundest barbarism, almost inaccessible to the
traveler. In other portions vagrant hordes wandered without any fixed
habitations. Here was seen the castle of the noble with all its
imposing architecture, and its enginery of offense and defense. The
mud hovels of the peasants were clustered around the massive pile; and
they passed their lives in the most degrading bondage.

From all parts of Europe the most learned men were invited to the
court of Catharine. The renowned mathematician, Euler, was lured from
Berlin to St. Petersburg. The empress settled upon him a large annual
stipend, and made him a present of a house. Catharine was fully
conscious that the glory of a country consists, not in its military
achievements, but in advancement in science and in the useful and
elegant arts. The annual sum of five thousand dollars was assigned to
encourage the translation of foreign literary works into the Russian
language. The small-pox was making fearful ravages in Russia. The
empress had heard of inoculation. She sent to England for a physician,
Dr. Thomas Dimsdale, who had practiced inoculation for the small-pox
with great success in London. Immediately upon his arrival the empress
sent for him, and with skill which astonished the physician,
questioned him respecting his mode of practice. He was invited to dine
with the empress; and the doctor thus describes the dinner party:

"The empress sat singly at the upper end of a long table, at which
about twelve of the nobility were guests. The entertainment consisted
of a variety of excellent dishes, served up after the French manner,
and was concluded by a dessert of the finest fruits and sweetmeats,
such as I little expected to find in that northern climate. Most of
these luxuries were, however, the produce of the empress's own
dominions. Pineapples, indeed, are chiefly imported from England,
though those of the growth of Russia, of which we had one that day,
are of good flavor but generally small. Water-melons and grapes are
brought from Astrachan; great plenty of melons from Moscow; and apples
and pears from the Ukraine.

"But what most enlivened the whole entertainment, was the unaffected
ease and affability of the empress herself. Each of her guests had a
share of her attention and politeness. The conversation was kept up
with freedom and cheerfulness to be expected rather from persons of
the same rank, than from subjects admitted to the honor of their
sovereign's company."

The empress after conversing with Dr. Dimsdale, decided to introduce
the practice of small-pox inoculation[20] into Russia, and heroically
resolved that the experiment should first be tried upon herself. Dr.
Dimsdale, oppressed by the immense responsibility thus thrown upon
him, for though the disease, thus introduced, was generally mild, in
not a few cases it proved fatal, requested the assistance of the court

[Footnote 20: Vaccination, or inoculation with the cow-pox, was not
introduced to Europe until many years after this. The celebrated
treatise of Jenner, entitled _An inquiry into the causes and effects
of Variolæ Vaccinæ_, was published in 1798.]

"It is not necessary," the empress replied; "you come well
recommended. The conversation I have had increases my confidence in
you. It is impossible that my physicians should have much skill in
this operation. My life is my own, and with the utmost cheerfulness I
entrust myself to your care. I wish to be inoculated as soon as you
judge it convenient, and desire to have it kept a secret."

The anxious physician begged that the experiment might first be tried
by inoculating some of her own sex and age, and, as near as possible,
of her own constitutional habits. The empress replied,

"The practice is not novel, and no doubt remains of its general
success. It is, therefore, not necessary that there should be any
delay on that account."

Catharine was inoculated on the 12th of October, 1768, and went
immediately to a secluded private palace at some distance from the
city, under the pretense that she wished to superintend some repairs.
She took with her only the necessary attendants. Soon, however,
several of the nobility, some of whom she suspected had not had the
small-pox, followed. As a week was to elapse after the operation
before the disease would begin to manifest itself, the empress said to
Dr. Dimsdale,

"I must rely on you to give me notice when it is possible for me to
communicate the disease. Though I could wish to keep my inoculation a
secret, yet far be it from me to conceal it a moment when it may
become hazardous to others."

In the mean time she took part in every amusement with her wonted
affability and without the slightest indication of alarm. She dined
with the rest of the company, and enlivened the whole court with those
conversational charms for which she was distinguished. The disease
proved light, and she was carried through it very successfully. Soon
after, she wrote to Voltaire,

"I have not kept my bed a single instant, and I have received company
every day. I am about to have my only son inoculated. Count Orlof,
that hero who resembles the ancient Romans in the best times of the
republic, both in courage and generosity, doubting whether he had ever
had the small-pox, has put himself under the hands of our Englishman,
and, the next day after the operation, went to the hunt in a very deep
fall of snow. A great number of courtiers have followed his example,
and many others are preparing to do so. Besides this, inoculation is
now carried on at Petersburg in three seminaries of education, and in
an hospital established under the protection of Dr. Dimsdale."

The empress testified her gratitude for the benefits Dr. Dimsdale had
conferred upon Russia by making him a present of fifty thousand
dollars, and settling upon him a pension of one thousand dollars a
year. On the 3d of December, 1768, a thanksgiving service was
performed in the chapel of the palace, in gratitude for the recovery
of her majesty and her son Paul from the small-pox.

The Turks began now to manifest great apprehensions in view of the
rapid growth of the Russian empire. Poland was so entirely
overshadowed that its monarchs were elected and its government
administered under the influence of a Russian army. In truth, Poland
had become but little more than one of the provinces of Catharine's
empire. The Grand Seignior formed an alliance with the disaffected
Poles, arrested the Russian embassador at Constantinople, and mustered
his hosts for war. Catharine II. was prepared for the emergency. Early
in 1769 the Russian army commenced its march towards the banks of the
Cuban, in the wilds of Circassia. The Tartars of the Crimea were the
first foes whom the armies of Catharine encountered. The Sea of Azof,
with its surrounding shores, soon fell into the possession of Russia.
One of the generals of Catharine, General Drevitch, a man whose name
deserves to be held up to eternal infamy, took nine Polish gentlemen
as captives, and, cutting off their hands at the wrist, sent them
home, thus mutilated, to strike terror into the Poles. Already
Frederic of Prussia and Catharine were secretly conferring upon a
united attack upon Poland and the division of the territory between

Frederic sent his brother Henry to St. Petersburg to confer with
Catharine upon this contemplated robbery, sufficiently gigantic in
character to be worthy of the energies of the royal bandits. Catharine
received Henry with splendor which the world has seldom seen equaled.
One of the entertainments with which she honored him was a moonlight
sleigh ride arranged upon a scale of imperial grandeur. The sleigh
which conveyed Catharine and the Prussian prince was an immense parlor
drawn by sixteen horses, covered and inclosed by double glasses,
which, with numberless mirrors, reflected all objects within and
without. This sledge was followed by a retinue of two thousand others.
Every person, in all the sledges, was dressed in fancy costume, and
masked. When two miles from the city, the train passed beneath a
triumphal arch illuminated with all conceivable splendor. At the
distance of every mile, some grand structure appeared in a blaze of
light, a pyramid, or a temple, or colonnades, or the most brilliant
displays of fireworks. Opposite each of these structures ball rooms
had been reared, which were crowded with the rustic peasantry, amusing
themselves with music, dancing and all the games of the country. Each
of the spacious houses of entertainment personated some particular
Russian nation, where the dress, music and amusements of that nation
were represented. All sorts of gymnastic feats were also exhibited,
such as vaulting, tumbling and feats upon the slack and tight rope.

Through such scenes the imperial pleasure party rode, until a high
mountain appeared through an avenue cut in the forest, representing
Mount Vesuvius during an eruption. Vast billows of flame were rolling
to the skies, and the whole region was illumined with a blaze of
light. The spectators had hardly recovered from the astonishment which
this display caused, when the train suddenly entered a Chinese
village, which proved to be but the portal to the imperial palace of
Tzarkoselo. The palace was lighted with an infinite number of wax
candles. For two hours the guests amused themselves with dancing.
Suddenly there was a grand discharge of cannon. The candles were
immediately extinguished, and a magnificent display of fireworks,
extending along the whole breadth of the palace, converted night into
day. Again there was a thundering discharge of artillery, when, as by
enchantment, the candles blazed anew, and a sumptuous supper was
served up. After the entertainment, dancing was renewed, and was
continued until morning.

The empress had a private palace at St. Petersburg which she called
her Hermitage, where she received none but her choicest friends. This
sumptuous edifice merits some minuteness of description. It consisted
of a suite of apartments containing every thing which the most
voluptuous and exquisite taste could combine. The spacious building
was connected with the imperial palace by a covered arch. It would
require a volume to describe the treasures of art and industry with
which it abounded. Here the empress had her private library and her
private picture gallery. Raphael's celebrated gallery in the Vatican
at Rome was exactly repeated here with the most accurate copies of all
the paintings, corner pieces and other ornaments of the same size and
in the same situations. Medals, engravings, curious pieces of art,
models of mechanical inventions and collections of specimens of
minerals and of objects of natural history crowded the cabinets.
Chambers were arranged for all species of amusements. A pleasure
garden was constructed upon arches, with furnaces beneath them in
winter, that the plants might ever enjoy genial heat. This garden was
covered with fine brass wire, that the birds from all countries,
singing among the trees and shrubs, or hopping along the grass plots
and gravel walks, and which the empress was accustomed to feed with
her own hand, might not escape. While the storms of a Russian winter
were howling without, the empress here could tread upon verdant lawns
and gravel walks beneath luxuriant vegetation, listening to bird songs
and partaking of fruits and flowers of every kind.

In this artificial Eden the empress often received Henry, the Prussian
prince, and matured her plan for the partition of Poland. The
festivities which dazzled the eyes of the frivolous courtiers were
hardly thought of by Catharine and Henry. Mr. Richardson, an English
gentleman who was in the family of Lord Cathcart, then the British
embassador at the Russian court, had sufficient sagacity to detect
that, beneath this display of amusements, political intrigues of great
moment were being woven. He wrote from St. Petersburg, on the 1st of
January, 1771, as follows:

     "This city, since the beginning of winter, has exhibited a
     continued scene of festivities; feasts, balls, concerts, plays,
     and masquerades in continued succession; and all in honor of, and
     to divert his royal highness, Prince Henry of Prussia, the famous
     brother of the present king. Yet his royal highness does not seem
     to be much diverted. He looks at them as an old cat looks at the
     gambols of a young kitten; or as one who has higher sport going
     on in his mind than the pastime of fiddling and dancing. He came
     here on pretense of a friendly visit to the empress; to have the
     happiness of waiting on so magnanimous a princess, and to see,
     with his own eyes, the progress of those immense improvements, so
     highly celebrated by Voltaire and those French writers who
     receive gifts from her majesty.

     "But do you seriously imagine that this creature of skin and bone
     should travel through Sweden, Finland and Poland, all for the
     pleasure of seeing the metropolis and the empress of Russia?
     Other princes may pursue such pastime; but the princes of the
     house of Brandenburg fly at a nobler quarry. Or is the King of
     Prussia, as a tame spectator, to reap no advantage from the
     troubles in Poland and the Turkish war? What is the meaning of
     his late conferences with the Emperor of Germany? Depend upon it
     these planetary conjunctions are the forerunners of great events.
     A few months may unfold the secret. You will recollect the signs
     when, after this, you shall hear of changes, usurpations and

In one of these interviews, in which the dismemberment of Poland was
resolved on, Catharine said,

     "I will frighten Turkey and flatter England. Do you take it upon
     yourself to buy over Austria, and amuse France."

Though the arrangements for the partition were at this time all made,
the portion which was to be assigned to Austria agreed upon, and the
extent of territory which each was to appropriate to itself settled,
the formal treaty was not signed till two years afterwards.

The war still continued to rage on the frontiers of Turkey. After ten
months of almost incessant slaughter, the Turkish army was nearly
destroyed. The empress collected two squadrons of Russian men-of-war
at Archangel on the White Sea, and at Revel on the Baltic, and sent
them through the straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. All
Europe was astonished at this wonderful apparition suddenly presenting
itself amidst the islands of the Archipelago. The inhabitants of the
Greek islands were encouraged to rise, and they drove out their
Mussulman oppressors with great slaughter. Catharine was alike
victorious on the land and on the sea; and she began very seriously to
contemplate driving the Turks out of Europe and taking possession of
Constantinople. Her land troops speedily overran the immense provinces
of Bessarabia, Moldavia and Wallachia, and annexed them to the Russian

The Turkish fleet encountered the Russians in the narrow channel which
separates the island of Scio from Natolia. In one of the fiercest
naval battles on record, and which raged for five hours, the Turkish
fleet was entirely destroyed. A courier was instantly dispatched to
St. Petersburg with the exultant tidings. The rejoicings in St.
Petersburg, over this naval victory, were unbounded. The empress was
so elated that she resolved to liberate both Greece and Egypt from the
sway of the Turks. The Turks were in a terrible panic, and resorted to
the most desperate measures to defend the Dardanelles, that the
Russian fleet might not ascend to Constantinople. At the same time the
plague broke out in Constantinople with horrible violence, a thousand
dying daily, for several weeks.

The immense Crimean peninsula contains fifteen thousand square miles,
being twice as large as the State of Massachusetts. The isthmus of
Perikop, which connects it with the mainland, is but five miles in
width. The Turks had fortified this passage by a ditch seventy-two
feet wide, and forty-two feet deep, and had stationed along this line
an army of fifty thousand Tartars. But the Russians forced the
barrier, and the Crimea became a Russian province. The victorious
army, however, soon encountered a foe whom no courage could vanquish.
The plague broke out in their camp, and spread through all Russia,
with desolation which seems incredible, although well authenticated.
In Moscow, not more than one fourth of the inhabitants were left
alive. More than sixty thousand died in that city in less than a year.
For days the dead lay in the streets where they had fallen, there not
being carts or people enough to carry them away. The pestilence
gradually subsided before the intensity of wintry frosts.

The devastations of war and of the plague rendered both the Russians
and Turks desirous of peace. On the 2d of August, 1772, the Russian
and Turkish plenipotentiaries met under tents, on a plain about
nineteen miles north of Bucharest, the capital of Wallachia. The
Russian ministers approached in four grand coaches, preceded by
hussars, and attended by one hundred and sixty servants in livery. The
Turkish ministers came on horseback, with about sixty servants, all
dressed in great simplicity. The two parties, however, could not
agree, and the conference was broken up. The negotiations were soon
resumed at Bucharest, but this attempt was also equally unsuccessful
with the first.

The plot for the partition of Poland was now ripe. Russia, Prussia
and Austria had agreed to march their armies into the kingdom and
divide a very large portion of the territory between them. It was as
high-handed a robbery as the world ever witnessed. There is some
consolation, however, in the reflection, that the masses of the people
in Poland were quite unaffected by the change. They were no more
oppressed by their new despots than they had been for ages by their
old ones. By this act, Russia annexed to her territory the enormous
addition of three thousand four hundred and forty square leagues,
sparsely inhabited, indeed, yet containing a population of one million
five hundred thousand. Austria obtained less territory, but nearly
twice as many inhabitants. Prussia obtained the contiguous provinces
she coveted, with about nine hundred thousand inhabitants. They still
left to the King of Poland, in this first partition, a small fragment
of his kingdom. The King of Prussia removed from his portion the first
year twelve thousand families, who were sent to populate the
uninhabited wilds of his hereditary dominions. All the young men were
seized and sent to the Prussian army. The same general course was
pursued by Russia. That the Polish population might be incorporated
with that of Russia, and all national individuality lost, the Poles
were removed into ancient Russia, while whole provinces of Russians
were sent to populate Poland.

The vast wealth which at this time the Russian court was able to
extort from labor, may be inferred from the fact, that while the
empress was carrying on the most expensive wars, her disbursements to
favorites, generals and literary men--in encouraging the arts,
purchasing libraries, pictures, statues, antiques and jewels, vastly
exceeded that of any European prince excepting Louis XIV. A diamond of
very large size and purity, weighing seven hundred and seventy-nine
carats, was brought from Ispahan by a Greek. Catharine purchased it
for five hundred thousand dollars, settling at the same time a
pension of five thousand dollars for life, upon the fortunate Greek of
whom she bought it.

The war still raged fiercely in Turkey with the usual vicissitudes of
battles. The Danube at length became the boundary between the hostile
armies, its wide expanse of water, its islands and its wooded shores
affording endless opportunity for surprises, ambuscades, flight and
pursuit. Under these circumstances war was prosecuted with an enormous
loss of life; but as the wasting armies were continually being
replenished, it seemed as though there could be no end to the strife.

Catharine had for some time been meditating a marriage for her son,
the Grand Duke Paul. There was a grand duchy in Germany, on the Rhine,
almost equally divided by that stream, called Darmstadt. It contained
three thousand nine hundred square miles, being about half the size of
the State of Massachusetts, and embraced a population of nearly a
million. The Duke of Darmstadt had three very attractive daughters,
either one of whom, Catharine thought, would make a very suitable
match for her son. She accordingly invited the three young ladies,
with their mother, to visit her court, that her son might, after a
careful scrutiny, take his pick. The brilliance of the prospective
match with the tzar of all the Russias outweighed every scruple, and
the invitation was eagerly accepted. Paul was cold as an iceberg,
stubborn as a mule and crack-brained, but he could place on the brow
of his spouse the crown of an empress. Catharine received her guests
with the greatest magnificence, loaded them with presents, and finally
chose one of them, Wilhelmina, for the bride of Paul. The marriage was
solemnized on the 10th of November, 1773, with all the splendor with
which the Russian court could invest the occasion, the festivities
being continued from the 10th to the 21st of the month.

Catharine, with her own hand, kept up a regular correspondence with
many literary and scientific men in other parts of Europe,
particularly with Voltaire and Diderot, the illustrious philosophers
of France. Several times she sent them earnest invitations to visit
her court. Diderot accepted her invitation, and was received with
confiding and friendly attentions which no merely crowned head could
have secured. Diderot sat at the table of the empress, and daily held
long social interviews with her, conversing upon politics, philosophy,
legislation, freedom of conscience and the rights of nations.
Catharine was charmed with the enthusiasm and eloquence of her guest,
but she perfectly appreciated the genius and the puerility combined in
his character.

"Diderot," said she, "is a hundred years old in many respects, but in
others he is no more than ten."

The following letter from Catharine to Diderot, written with all the
freedom of the most confidential correspondence, gives a clearer view
of the character of Catharine's mind, and of her energy, than any
description could give.

"Now we are speaking of haughtiness, I have a mind to make a general
confession to you on that head. I have had great successes during this
war; that I am glad of it, you will very naturally conclude. I find
that Russia will be well known by this war. It will be seen how
indefatigable a nation it is; that she possesses men of eminent merit,
and who have all the qualities which go to the forming of heroes. It
will be seen that she is deficient in no resources, but that she can
defend herself and prosecute a war with vigor whenever she is unjustly

"Brimful of these ideas, I have never once thought of Catharine, who,
at the age of forty-two, can increase neither in body nor in mind,
but, in the natural order of things, ought to remain, and will remain,
as she is. Do her affairs go on well? she says, so much the better. If
they prosper less, she would employ all her faculties to put them in a
better train.

"This is my ambition, and I have none other. What I tell you, is the
truth. I will go further, and say that, for the sparing of human
blood, I sincerely wish for peace. But this peace is still a long way
off, though the Turks, from different motives, are ardently desirous
of it. Those people know not how to go about it.

"I wish as much for the pacification of the unreasonable contentions
of Poland. I have to do there with brainless heads, each of which,
instead of contributing to the common peace, on the contrary, throws
impediments in the way of it by caprice and levity. My embassador has
published a declaration adapted to open their eyes. But it is to be
presumed that they will rather expose themselves to the last extremity
than adopt, without delay, a wise and consistent rule of conduct. The
vortices of Descartes never existed anywhere but in Poland. There
every head is a vortex turning continually around itself. It is
stopped by chance alone, and never by reason or judgment.

"I have not yet received your _Questions_,[21] or your watches from
Ferney. I have no doubt that the work of your artificers is perfect,
since they work under your eyes. Do not scold your rustics for having
sent me a surplus of watches. The expense of them will not ruin me. It
would be very unfortunate for me if I were so far reduced as not to
have, for sudden emergencies, such small sums whenever I want them.
Judge not, I beseech you, of our finances by those of the other ruined
potentates of Europe. Though we have been engaged in war for three
years, we proceed in our buildings, and every thing else goes on as in
a time of profound peace. It is two years since any new impost was
levied. The war, at present, has its fixed establishment; that once
regulated, it never disturbs the course of other affairs. If we
capture another Kesa or two, the war is paid for.

[Footnote 21: Questions sur l'Encyclopedie.]

"I shall be satisfied with myself whenever I meet with your
approbation, monsieur. I likewise, a few weeks ago, read over again
my instructions for the code, because I then thought peace to be
nearer at hand than it is, and I found that I was right in composing
them. I confess that this code will give me a considerable deal of
trouble before it is brought to that degree of perfection at which I
wish to see it. But no matter, it must be completed.

"Perhaps, in a little time, the khan of the Crimea will be brought to
me in person. I learn, this moment, that he did not cross the sea with
the Turks, but that he remained in the mountains with a very small
number of followers, nearly as was the case with the Pretender, in
Scotland, after the defeat at Culloden. If he comes to me, we will try
to polish him this winter, and, to take my revenge of him, I will make
him dance, and he shall go to the French comedy.

"Just as I was about to fold up this letter, I received yours of the
10th of July, in which you inform me of the adventure that happened to
my 'Instruction'[22] in France. I knew that anecdote, and even the
appendix to it, in consequence of the order of the Duke of Choiseul. I
own that I laughed on reading it in the newspapers, and I found that I
was amply revenged."

[Footnote 22: Her majesty's instruction for a code of laws.]



From 1774 to 1781.

Peace with Turkey.--Court of Catharine II.--Her Personal Appearance
and Habits.--Conspiracy and Rebellion.--Defeat of the
Rebels.--Magnanimity of Catharine II.--Ambition of the Empress.--Court
Favorite.--Division of Russia into Provinces.--Internal
Improvements.--New Partition of Poland.--Death of the Wife of
Paul.--Second Marriage of the Grand Duke.--Splendor of the Russian
Court.--Russia and Austria Secretly Combine to Drive the Turks out of
Europe.--The Emperor Joseph II.

In 1774 peace was concluded with Turkey, on terms which added greatly
to the renown and grandeur of Russia. By this treaty the Crimea was
severed from the Ottoman Porte, and declared to be independent. Russia
obtained the free navigation of the Black Sea, the Bosporus and the
Dardanelles. Immense tracts of land, lying on the Euxine, were ceded
to Russia, and the Grand Seignior also paid Catharine a large sum of
money to defray the expenses of the war. No language can describe the
exultation which this treaty created in St. Petersburg. Eight days
were devoted, by order of the empress, to feasts and rejoicings. The
doors of the prisons were thrown open, and even the Siberian exiles
were permitted to return.

The court of Catharine II. at this period was the most brilliant in
Europe. In no other court was more attention paid to the most polished
and agreeable manners. The expenditure on her court establishment
amounted to nearly four millions of dollars a year. In personal
appearance the empress was endowed with the attractions both of beauty
and of queenly dignity. A cotemporary writer thus describes her:

"She is of that stature which is necessarily requisite to perfect
elegance of form in a lady. She has fine large blue eyes, with
eyebrows and hair of a brownish color. Her mouth is well-proportioned,
chin round, with a forehead regular and open. Her hands and arms are
round and white, and her figure plump. Her bosom is full, her neck
high, and she carries her head with peculiar grace.

"The empress never wears rich clothes except on solemn festivals, when
her head and corset are entirely set with brilliants, and she wears a
crown of diamonds and precious stones. Her gait is majestic; and, in
the whole of her form and manner there is something so dignified and
noble, that if she were to be seen without ornament or any outward
marks of distinction, among a great number of ladies of rank, she
would be immediately esteemed the chief. She seems born to command,
though in her character there is more of liveliness than of gravity.
She is courteous, gentle, benevolent and outwardly devout."

Like almost every one who has attained distinction, Catharine was very
systematic in the employment of her time. She usually rose at about
five o'clock both in summer and winter; and what seems most
remarkable, prepared her own simple breakfast, as she was not fond of
being waited upon. But a short time was devoted to her toilet. From
eight to eleven in the forenoon she was busy in her cabinet, signing
commissions and issuing orders of various purport. The hour, from
eleven to twelve, was daily devoted to divine worship in her chapel.
Then, until one o'clock, she gave audience to the ministers of the
various departments. From half past one till two she dined. She then
returned to her cabinet, where she was busily employed in cares of
state until four o'clock, when she took an airing in a coach or
sledge. At six she usually exhibited herself for a short time to her
subjects at the theater, and at ten o'clock she retired. Court balls
were not unfrequently given, but the empress never condescended to
dance, though occasionally she would make one at a game of cards.
She, however, took but little interest in the game, being much more
fond of talking with the ladies, generals and ministers who surrounded
her. Even from these court balls the very sensible empress usually
retired, by a side door, at ten o'clock.

The empress informed herself minutely of every thing which concerned
the administration of government. Her ministers were merely
instruments in her hands executing her imperial will. All matters
relating to the army, the navy, the finances, the punishment of crime
and to foreign affairs, were reported to her by her ministers, and
were guided by her decisions.

There must always be, in every government, an opposition party--that
is, a party who wish to eject from office those in power, that they
themselves may enjoy the loaves and fishes of governmental favor. This
is peculiarly the case in an empire where a large class of haughty
nobles are struggling for the preëminence. Many of the bigoted clergy
were exasperated by the toleration which the empress enjoined, and
they united with the disaffected lords in a conspiracy for a
revolution. The clergy in the provinces had great influence over the
unlettered boors, and the conspiracy soon assumed a very threatening
aspect. The first rising of rebellion was by the wild population
scattered along the banks of the Don. The rebellion was headed by an
impostor, who declared that he was Peter III., and that, having
escaped from those who had attempted his assassination, he had
concealed himself for a long time, waiting for vengeance. This
barbaric chieftain, who was called Pugatshef, very soon found himself
at the head of fourteen thousand fierce warriors, and commenced
ravaging oriental Russia. For a season his march was a constant
victory. Many thousand Siberian exiles escaped from their gloomy
realms and joined his standards. So astonishing was his success, that
even Catharine trembled. Pugatshef waged a war of extermination
against the nobles who were the supporters of Catharine, in cold blood
beheading their wives and children, and conferring their titles and
estates upon his followers. The empress found it necessary to rouse
all her energies to meet this peril. She issued a manifesto, which was
circulated through all the towns of the empire, and raised a large
army, which was dispatched to crush the rebellion. Battle after battle
ensued, until, at last, in a decisive conflict, the hosts of Pugatshef
were utterly cut up.

Still, this indefatigable warrior soon raised another army from the
untamed barbarians of the Don, and, rapidly descending the Volga,
attacked, by surprise, some Russian regiments encamped upon its banks,
and routed them with fearful slaughter. The astronomer, Lovitch, a
member of the imperial academy of sciences at St. Petersburg, was, at
that time, under the protection of these regiments, surveying the
route for a canal between the Don and the Volga. Pugatshef ordered his
dragoons to thrust their pikes into the unfortunate man, and raise him
upon them into the air, "in order," said he, "that he may be nearer
the stars." They did this, and then cut him to pieces with their

The troops of Catharine pursued the rebels, encountered them in some
intricate passes of the mountains, whence escape was impossible, and
overwhelmed them with destruction. Their vigorous leader, leaping from
crag to crag, escaped, swam the Volga, crossed, in solitude, vast
deserts, and made new attempts to rally partisans around him. But his
last hour was sounded. Deserted by all, he was wandering from place to
place, pursued like a wild beast, when some of his own confederates,
basely betraying him, seized him, after a violent struggle, put him in
irons, and delivered him to one of the officers of the Russian army.
The wretched man, preserving impenetrable silence, was conveyed to
Moscow in an iron cage. Refusing to eat, food was forced down his
stomach. The empress immediately appointed a commission for the trial
of the rebel. She instructed the court to be satisfied with whatever
voluntary confession of his crime he might make, forbidding them to
apply the torture, or to require him to name his accomplices. The
culprit was sentenced to have his hands and feet cut off, and then to
be quartered. By order of the empress, however, he was first beheaded.
Eight of his accomplices were also executed, eighteen underwent the
knout, and were then exiled to Siberia. Thus terminated a rebellion
which cost the lives of more than a hundred thousand men.

Over those wide regions, whose exact boundaries are even now scarcely
known, numerous nations are scattered, quite distinct in language,
religion and customs, and so separated by almost impassable deserts,
that they know but little of each other. These wilds, peopled by
war-loving races, afford the most attractive field for military
adventures. The energy and sagacity with which Catharine crushed this
formidable rebellion added greatly to her renown. Tranquillity being
restored, the empress, in order to crown a general pardon, forbade any
further allusion whatever to be made to the rebellion, consigning all
its painful events to utter oblivion. She even forbade the publication
of the details of the trial, saying,

"I shall keep the depositions of Pugatshef secret, that they may not
aggravate the disgrace of those who spurred him on."

The empress was ambitious to make her influence felt in every European
movement, and she was conscious that, in order to command the respect
of other courts, she must ever have a formidable army at her disposal.
In all the great movements of kings and courts this wonderful woman
performed her part with dignity which no monarch, male or female, has
ever surpassed. It is strange that it has taken so many centuries for
the nations to learn that peace, not war, enriches realms. Had Russia
abstained from those wars in which she has unnecessarily engaged, she
might now have been the most wealthy and powerful nation on the globe.
Admitting that there have been many wars which, involving her national
existence, she could not have avoided, still she has squandered
countless millions of money and of lives in battles which were quite
unnecessary. Russia, like the United States, is safe from all attacks
from without. Had Russia employed the yearly earnings of the empire in
cultivating the fields, rearing towns, and in extending the arts of
industry and refinement, infinitely more would have been accomplished
for her happiness and renown than by the most brilliant conquests. But
Catharine, in her high ambition, seemed to be afraid that Europe might
forget her, and she was eager to have her voice heard in the
deliberations of every cabinet, and to have her banners unfurled in
the march of every army.

There was an office, in the court of the empress, sanctioned by time
in Russia, which has not existed in any other court in Europe. It
perhaps originated from the fact that for about three fourths of a
century Russia was almost exclusively governed by women. The court
favorite was not merely the prime minister, but the confidential
friend and companion of the empress. On the day of his installation he
received a purse containing one hundred thousand dollars, and a salary
of twelve thousand dollars a month. A marshal was also commissioned to
provide him a table of twenty-four covers, and to defray all the
expenses of his household. The twelve thousand dollars a month were
for what the ladies call _pin money_. The favorite occupied in the
palace an apartment beneath that of the empress, to which it
communicated by a private stair-case. He attended the empress on all
parties of amusement, at the opera, the theater, balls, promenades and
excursions of pleasure, and he was not allowed to leave the palace
without express permission. It was also understood that he should pay
no attention to any lady but the empress.

The year 1775 dawned upon Russia with peace at home and abroad.
Catharine devoted herself anew to the improvement of her subjects in
education and all physical comforts. Prince Gregory Orlof had been for
many years the favorite of the empress, but he was now laid aside, and
Count Potemkin took his place.

Catharine now divided her extensive realms into forty-three great
provinces, over each of which a governor was appointed. These
provinces embraced from six to eight hundred thousand inhabitants.
There was then a subdivision into districts or circles, as they were
called. There were some ten of these districts in each province, and
they contained from forty to sixty thousand inhabitants. An entire
system of government was established for each province, with its laws
and tribunals, that provision might be made for every thing essential
to the improvement and embellishment of the country. The governors of
these provinces were invested with great dignity and splendor. The
gubernatorial courts, if they may so be called, established centers of
elegance and refinement, which it was hoped would exert a powerful
influence in polishing a people exceedingly rude and uncultivated.
There were also immense advantages derived from the uniform
administration of justice thus established. This new division of the
empire was the most comprehensive reform Russia had yet experienced.
Thus the most extensive empire on the globe, with its geographical
divisions so vast and dissimilar, was cemented into one homogeneous
body politic.

Until this great reform the inhabitants of the most distant provinces
had been compelled to travel to Petersburg and Moscow in their appeals
to the tribunals of justice. Now there were superior courts in all the
provinces, and inferior courts in all the districts. In all important
cases there was an appeal to the council of the empress. Russian
ships, laden with the luxuries of the Mediterranean, passed through
the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, and landed their precious freights
upon the shores of Azof, from whence they were transported into the
heart of Russia, thus opening a very lucrative commerce.

The Polish nobles, a very turbulent and intractable race of men, were
overawed by the power of Catharine, and the masses of the Polish
people were doubtless benefited by their transference to new masters.
Russia was far more benignant in its treatment of the conquered
provinces, than were her banditti accomplices, Prussia and Austria.

The road to China, traversed by caravans, was long and perilous,
through pathless and inhospitable wilds, where, for leagues, no
inhabitant could be seen, and yet where a fertile soil and a genial
clime promised, to the hand of industry, all the comforts and luxuries
of life. All along this road she planted villages, and, by the most
alluring offers, induced settlers to establish themselves on all
portions of the route. Large sums of money were expended in rendering
the rivers navigable.

In the year 1776, the grand duchess, consort of Paul, who was heir to
the throne, died in childbirth, and was buried in the same grave with
her babe. About the same time Prince Henry of Prussia visited the
Russian court to confer with Catharine upon some difficulties which
had arisen in the demarcations of Poland. It will be remembered that
in the division which had now taken place, the whole kingdom had not
been seized, but a remnant had been left as the humble patrimony of
Poniatowski, the king. In this interview with the empress, Prince
Henry said,

"Madam, I see one sure method of obviating all difficulty. It may
perhaps be displeasing to you on account of Poniatowski.[23] But you
will nevertheless do well to give it your approbation, since
compensations may be offered to that monarch of greater value to him
than the throne which is continually tottering under him. The
remainder of Poland must be partitioned."

[Footnote 23: Poniatowski had been formerly a favorite of the

The empress cordially embraced the plan, and the annihilation of
Poland was decreed. It was necessary to move slowly and with caution
in the execution of the plan. In the meantime, as the grand duchess
had died, leaving no heir to the empire, the empress deemed it a
matter of the utmost moment to secure another wife for the Grand Duke
Paul, lest Russia should be exposed to the perils of a disputed
succession. Natalia was hardly cold in her grave ere the empress
proposed to Prince Henry, that his niece, the princess of Wirtemberg,
should become the spouse of the grand duke. The princess was already
betrothed to the hereditary prince of Hesse Darmstadt, but both Henry
and his imperial brother, Frederic of Prussia, deemed the marriage of
their niece with the prospective Emperor of Russia a match far too
brilliant to be thwarted by so slight an obstacle. Frederic himself
informed the prince of the exalted offer which had been made to his
betrothed, and without much difficulty secured his relinquishment of
his contemplated bride. Frederic deemed it a matter of infinite moment
that the ties subsisting between Russia and Prussia should be more
closely drawn. He wrote to his brother Henry of his success, and by
the same courier invited the Grand Duke Paul to visit Berlin that he
might see the new spouse designed for him. He also expressed his own
ardent desire to become acquainted with the grand duke.

Catharine, highly gratified with this success, placed a purse of fifty
thousand dollars in the hands of her son to defray the expenses of his
journey. It was at the close of the summer of 1776 when the grand duke
left the palaces of St. Petersburg to visit those of Berlin. His
mother, who made all the arrangements, dispatched her son on this
visit in a style of regal splendor. When the party reached Riga, a
courier overtook them with the following characteristic letter,
written by the empress's own hand to Prince Henry:

"June 11, 1776.

"I take the liberty of transmitting to your royal highness the four
letters of which I spoke to you, and which you promised to take care
of. The first is for the king, your brother, and the others for the
prince and princesses of Wirtemberg. I venture to pray you, that if my
son should bestow his heart on the Princess Sophia, as I have no doubt
but what he will, to deliver the three letters according to their
directions, and to support the contents of them with that persuasive
eloquence with which God has endowed you.

"The convincing and reiterated proofs which you have given me of your
friendship, the high esteem which I have conceived for your virtues,
and the extent of the confidence which you have taught me to repose in
you, leave me no doubt on the success of a business which I have so
much at heart. Was it possible for me to place it in better hands?

"Your royal highness is surely an unique in the art of negotiation.
Pardon me that expression of my friendship. But I think that there has
never been an affair of this nature transacted as this is; which is
the production of the most intimate friendship and confidence.

"That princess will be the pledge of it. I shall not be able to see
her without recollecting in what manner this business was begun,
continued and terminated, between the royal house of Prussia and that
of Russia. May it perpetuate the connections which unite us!

"I conclude by very tenderly thanking your royal highness for all the
cares and all the troubles you have given yourself; and I beseech you
to be assured that my gratitude, my friendship, my esteem, and the
high consideration which I have for you, will terminate only with my


The Grand Duke Paul was received in Berlin with all the honors due his
rank as heir to the imperial throne of Russia. The great Frederic even
came to the door of his apartment to greet his guest. The grand duke
was escorted into the city with much pomp. Thirty-four trumpeters,
winding their bugles, preceded him, all in rich uniform. Then came a
strong array of soldiers. These were followed by a civic procession,
in brilliant decorations. Three superb state coaches, containing the
dignitaries of Berlin, came next in the train, followed by a
detachment of the life-guards, who preceded the magnificent chariot of
the duke, which chariot was regarded as the most superb which had then
ever been seen, and which was drawn by eight of the finest horses
Prussia could produce. This carriage conveyed Paul and Prince Henry. A
hundred dragoons, as a guard of honor, closed the procession. At the
gates of the city the magistracy received Paul beneath a triumphal
arch, where seventy beautiful girls, dressed like nymphs and
shepherdesses, presented the grand duke with complimentary verses, and
crowned him with a garland of flowers. The ringing of bells, the
pealing of cannon, strains of martial music, and the acclamations of
the multitude, greeted Paul from the time he entered the gates until
he reached the royal palace.

"Sire," exclaimed Paul, as he took the hand of the King of Prussia,
"the motives which bring me from the extremities of the North to these
happy dominions, are the desire of assuring your majesty of the
friendship and alliance to subsist henceforth and for ever between
Russia and Prussia, and the eagerness to see a princess destined to
ascend the throne of the Russian empire. By my receiving her at your
hands, I assure you that she will be more dear to myself and to the
nation over which she is to reign. It has also been one of the most
ardent aspirations of my soul to contemplate the greatest of heroes,
the admiration of our age and the astonishment of posterity."

Here the king interrupted him, replying,

"Instead of which, you behold a hoary-headed valitudinarian, who could
never have wished for a superior happiness than that of welcoming
within these walls the hopeful heir of a mighty empire, the only son
of my best friend, Catharine."

After half an hour's conversation, the grand duke was led into the
apartment of the queen, where the court was assembled. Here he was
introduced to his contemplated bride, Sophia, Princess of Wirtemberg,
and immediately, in the name of the Empress of Russia, demanded her in
marriage of the grand duke. The marriage contract was signed the same
day. The whole company then supped with the queen in great
magnificence. Feasts and entertainments succeeded for many days
without interruption.

On the 3d of August, Paul returned to St. Petersburg, where his
affianced bride soon joined him. As he took leave, the King of Prussia
presented him with dessert service and a coffee service, with ten
porcelain vases of Berlin manufacture, a ring, containing the king's
portrait, surmounted with a diamond valued at thirty thousand crowns,
and also a stud of Prussian horses and four pieces of rich tapestry.
Upon the arrival of the princess, she was received into the Greek
church, assuming the name of Maria, by which she was ever after
called. The marriage soon took place, and from this marriage arose the
two distinguished emperors, Alexander and Nicholas.

The empress was exceedingly gratified by the successful accomplishment
of this plan. With energy which seemed never to tire, she urged
forward her plans for national improvements, establishing schools all
over the empire, which were munificently supported at the imperial
expense. The splendor of the Russian court, during the reign of
Catharine, surpassed all ordinary powers of description. Almost
boundless wealth was lavished upon gorgeous dresses--lords and ladies
glittering alike in most costly jewelry. Many courtiers appeared
almost literally covered with diamonds. They sparkled, in most lavish
profusion, upon their buttons, their buckles, the scabbards of their
swords, their epaulets, and many even wore a triple row as a band
around the hat. Frequently eight thousand tickets were given out for a
ball at the palace, and yet there was no crowd, for twenty saloons, of
magnificent dimensions, brilliantly lighted, afforded room for all.
Her majesty usually entered the saloons about seven o'clock, and
retired about ten.

The empress never ceased to look with a wistful eye upon the regions
which the Turks had wrested from the Christians. The commercial
greatness of Russia, in her view, imperiously required that
Constantinople and its adjacent shores should be in her possession. In
May, 1780, Catharine had an interview with Joseph II., Emperor of
Germany, at Mohilef. Both sovereigns traveled with great pomp to meet
at this place. After several confidential interviews, they agreed to
unite their forces to drive the Turks out of Europe, and to share the
spoil between them. It was also agreed to reëstablish the ancient
republics of Greece. The emperor, Joseph II., received an earnest
invitation to visit Moscow, which he accepted, but, with
characteristic eccentricity, refused to travel with the queen, as he
was excessively annoyed by the trammels of etiquette and ceremonial
pomp. The empress, consequently, returned to St. Petersburg, and
Joseph II. set out for Moscow in the following fashion:

Leaving his carriages with his suite to follow, he proceeded alone,
_incognito_, on horse-back, as the _avant courier_. At each station he
would announce that his master the emperor, with the imperial
carriages, was coming on, and that dinner, supper or lodgings must be
provided for so many persons. Calling for a slice of ham and a cup of
beer, he would throw himself upon a bench for a few hours' repose,
constantly refusing to take a bed, as the expedition he must make
would not allow this indulgence.

At Mohilef, the empress had provided magnificent apartments, in the
palace, for the emperor; but he insisted upon taking lodgings at an
ordinary inn. At St. Petersburg, notwithstanding the emperor's
repugnance to pomp, Catharine received him with entertainments of the
greatest magnificence. Joseph, however, took but little interest in
such displays, devoting his attention almost exclusively to useful
establishments and monuments of art. He was surprised to find at Tula,
manufactories of hardware unsurpassed by those of Sheffield and
Birmingham. He expressed his surprise, on his return home, at the
mixture of refinement and barbarism Russia had presented to his view.

The empress, seeing that so many princes visited foreign countries,
decided to send her son Paul, with Maria, to make the tour of Europe.
Obedient to the maternal commands, they commenced their travels
through Poland and Austria to Italy, and returned to St. Petersburg,
through France and Holland, after an absence of fourteen months. The
empress had a confidential agent in their company, who kept her
informed, minutely, of every event which transpired. A courier was
dispatched every day to inform her where they were and how they were

The relations between Turkey and Russia were continually growing more
threatening. Turkey had been compelled to yield the Crimea, and also
to surrender the navigation of the Euxine, with the Bosporus and the
Dardanelles, to her powerful rival. Galled by these concessions, which
had been forced upon her by bullet and bayonet, the Ottoman Porte was
ever watching to regain her lost power. Russia, instead of being
satisfied with her acquisitions, was eagerly grasping at more. The
Greek Christians also, throughout the Turkish empire, hating their
Mussulman oppressors, were ever watching for opportunities when they
could shake off the burden and the insult of slavery. Thus peace
between Russia and Turkey was never more than an armistice. The two
powers constantly faced each other in a hostile attitude, ever ready
to appeal to arms.



From 1781 to 1786.

Statue of Peter the Great.--Alliance between Austria and
Russia.--Independence of the Crimea.--The Khan of the Crimea.--Vast
Preparations for War.--National Jealousies.--Tolerant Spirit of
Catharine.--Magnificent Excursion to the Crimea.--Commencement of
Hostilities.--Anecdote of Paul.--Peace.--New Partition of
Poland.--Treaty with Austria and France.--Hostility to Liberty in
France.--Death of Catharine.--Her Character.

Catharine found time, amidst all the cares of empire, to devote
special attention to the education of her grandchildren Alexander and
Constantine, who had been born during the five years which had now
elapsed since the marriage of Paul and Maria. For their instruction as
they advanced in years, she wrote several historical and moral essays
of no small merit. The "Tales of Chlor, Son of the Tzar," and "The
Little Samoyede," are beautiful compositions from her pen, alike
attractive to the mature and the youthful mind. The histories and
essays she wrote for these children have since been collected and
printed in French, under the title of "Bibliotheque des grands-ducs
Alexandre et Constantin."

The empress, about this time, resolved to erect, in St. Petersburg, a
statue of Peter the Great, which should be worthy of his renown. A
French artist, M. Falconet, was engaged to execute this important
work. He conceived the design of having, for a pedestal, a rugged
rock, to indicate the rude and unpolished character of the people to
whom the emperor had introduced so many of the arts of civilization.
Immediate search was made to find a suitable rock. About eight miles
from the city a huge boulder was discovered, forty-two feet long,
thirty-four feet broad, and twenty-one feet high. It was found, by
geometric calculation, that this enormous mass weighed three millions
two hundred thousand pounds. It was necessary to transport it over
heights and across morasses to the Neva, and there to float it down to
the place of its destination. The boulder lay imbedded a few feet in
the ground, absolutely detached from all other rock, and with no
similar substance anywhere in the vicinity.

It would seem impossible that a mass so stupendous could be moved. But
difficulties only roused the energies of Catharine. In the first
place, a solid road was made for its passage. After four months'
labor, with very ingenious machinery, the rock was so far raised as to
enable them to slip under it heavy plates of brass, which rested upon
cannon balls five inches in diameter, and which balls ran in grooves
of solid metal. Then, by windlasses, worked by four hundred men, it
was slowly forced along its way. Having arrived at the Neva, it was
floated down the river by what are called camels, that is immense
floating fabrics constructed with air chambers so as to render them
very buoyant.

This statue as completed is regarded as one of the grandest ever
executed. The tzar is represented as on horseback, ascending a steep
rock, the summit of which he is resolved to attain. In an Asiatic
dress and crowned with laurel, he is pointing forward with his right
hand, while with his left he holds the bridle of the magnificent
charger on which he is mounted. The horse stands on his hind feet
bounding forward, trampling beneath a brazen serpent, emblematic of
the opposition the monarch encountered and overcame. It bears the
simple inscription, "To Peter the First, by Catharine the Second,
1782." The whole expense of the statue amounted to over four hundred
thousand dollars, an immense sum for that day, when a dollar was worth
more than many dollars now.

At the close of the year 1782, the Emperor of Germany and Catharine
II. entered into an alliance for the more energetic prosecution of the
war against the Turks. They issued very spirited proclamations
enumerating their grievances, and immediately appeared on the Turkish
frontiers with vast armies. The attention of Catharine was constantly
directed towards Constantinople, the acquisition of which city, with
the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, was the object which, of all others,
was the nearest to her heart. On the banks of the Dnieper, eighteen
hundred miles from St. Petersburg, she laid the foundations of Kherson
as a maritime port, and in an almost incredibly short time a city rose
there containing forty thousand inhabitants. From its ship-yards
vessels of war were launched which struck terror into the Ottoman

By previous wars, it will be remembered, the Crimea had been wrested
from the Turks and declared to be independent, remaining nominally in
the hands of the Tartars. Catharine II. immediately took the Tartar
khan of the Crimea under her special protection, loaded him with
favors, and thus assumed the guidance of his movements. He became
enervated by luxury, learned to despise the rude manners of his
countrymen, engaged a Russian cook, and was served from silver plate.
Instead of riding on horseback he traveled in a splendid chariot, and
even solicited a commission in the Russian army. Catharine contrived
to foment a revolt against her protegé the khan, and then, very
kindly, marched an army into the Crimea for his relief. She then,
without any apology, took possession of the whole of the Crimea, and
received the oath of allegiance from all the officers of the
government. Indeed, there appears to have been no opposition to this
measure. The Tartar khan yielded with so much docility that he soon
issued a manifesto in which he abdicated his throne, and transferred
the whole dominion of his country to Catharine. Turkey, exasperated,
prepared herself furiously for war. Russia formed an alliance with the
Emperor of Germany, and armies were soon in movement upon a scale
such as even those war-scathed regions had never witnessed before. The
Danube, throughout its whole course, was burdened with the barges of
the Emperor of Germany, heavily laden with artillery, military stores
and troops. More than a hundred thousand men were marched down to the
theater of conflict from Hungary. Fifteen hundred pieces of artillery
were in the train of these vast armies of the German emperor. The
Russian force was equally efficient, as it directed its march through
the plains of Poland, and floated down upon the waters of the Don and
the Dnieper. The Turkish sultan was not wanting in energy. From all
his wide-spread domains in Europe and Asia, he marshaled his hosts,
and engaged from other nations of Europe, and particularly from
France, the most skillful officers and engineers, to introduce into
his armies European discipline and improvements in weapons of war.

The Ottoman Porte issued a manifesto, which was a very remarkable
document both in vigor of style and nobility of sentiment. After
severely denouncing the enormous encroachments of Russia, extending
her dominions unscrupulously in every direction, the sultan asked

"What right can Russia have to territories annexed for ages to the
dominions of the Porte? Should the Porte make such claims on any
portion of the Russian dominions, would they not be repulsed? And can
it be presumed that the Sublime Porte, however desirous of peace, will
acquiesce in wrong which, however it may be disguised, reason and
equity must deem absolute usurpation? What northern power has the
Porte offended? Whose territories have the Ottoman troops invaded? In
the country of what prince is the Turkish standard displayed? Content
with the boundaries of empire assigned by God and the Prophet, the
wishes of the Porte are for peace; but if the court of Russia be
determined in her claim, and will not recede without the acquisition
of territories which do not belong to her, the Sublime Porte,
appealing to the world for the justice of its proceedings, must
prepare for war, relying on the decrees of Heaven, and confident in
the interposition of the Prophet of prophets, that he will protect his
faithful followers in the hour of every difficulty."

No Mohammedan pen could have produced so vigorous a document. It was
written by the English minister at Constantinople, Sir Robert Ainslie.
Catharine II., apprehensive that, while all her armies were engaged on
the banks of the Euxine, Sweden might attack her on the shores of the
Baltic, decided to form a new treaty of peace with Gustavus III. An
interview was arranged to take place at Frederiksham, a small but
strongly fortified town upon the Gulf of Finland, the last town
occupied by the Russians towards the frontiers of Sweden. The empress
repaired thither in a yacht the 29th of June, 1783. Gustavus III.,
with his suite, met her at the appointed hour. Two contiguous houses
were prepared, furnished with the utmost splendor, and connected by a
gallery, so that, during the four days these sovereigns remained at
Frederiksham, they could meet and converse at any time. There is still
a picture existing, painted by order of Catharine, representing the
empress and the Swedish monarch in one of their most confidential
interviews. Catharine II. promised Gustavus that if he would
faithfully remain neutral during her war with Turkey she would, at its
close, aid Sweden in gaining possession of Norway. The two sovereigns,
having exchanged rich presents, separated, mutually delighted with
each other.

The empress had now seventy thousand men on the frontiers of the
Crimea, and a reserve of forty thousand on the march to strengthen
them. A third army of great power was rendezvoused at Kief. A large
squadron of ships of war was ready for battle in the Sea of Azof, and
another squadron was prepared to sail from the Baltic for the
Mediterranean. England, alarmed by the growth of Russia, did every
thing in her power to stimulate the Turks to action. But the Porte,
overawed by the force brought against her, notwithstanding the brave
manifesto it had been induced to issue, sued for peace. Yielding to
all the demands of Russia a treaty was soon signed. Catharine gained
undisputed possession of the Crimea, large portions of Circassia, the
whole of the Black Sea, and also the free passage of the Dardanelles.
Thus, without firing a gun, Russia gained several thousand square
miles of territory, and an addition of more than a million and a half
of inhabitants, with commercial privileges which added greatly to the
wealth of the empire.

Catharine's fleet now rode triumphantly upon the Caspian, and she
resolved to extend her dominions along the western shores of that
inland sea. These vast regions were peopled by warlike tribes, ever
engaged in hostilities against each other. Slowly but surely she
advanced her conquests and reared her fortresses through those
barbaric wilds. At the same time she was pushing her acquisitions with
equal sagacity and success along the shores of Kamtschatka. With great
vigor she encouraged her commercial caravans to penetrate China, and
even opened relations with Japan, obtaining from that jealous people
permission to send a trading ship to their coast every year.

No persons are so jealous of the encroachments of others as those who
are least scrupulous in regard to the encroachments which they
themselves make. The English government, whose boast it is that the
sun, in its circuit of the globe, never ceases to shine on their
domains, watches with an eagle eye lest any other government on the
globe should venture upon the most humble act of annexation. So it was
with Catharine. Though adding to her vast dominions in every quarter;
though appropriating, alike in peace and in war, all the territory she
could lay her hands upon, she could inveigh against the inordinate
ambition of other nations with the most surprising volubility.

The increasing fame and power of Frederic II. had for some time
disturbed her equanimity, and she manifested great anxiety lest he
should be guilty of the impropriety of annexing some petty duchy to
his domains. Since he had united with Catharine and Austria in the
banditti partition of Poland, he had continually been making all the
encroachments in his power; adding acres to his domains as Catharine
added square leagues to hers. In precisely the same spirit, England,
who was grasping at all the world, protested, with the most edifying
devotion to the claims of justice and humanity, against the ambitious
spirit of Russia. The "beam" did not exclude the vision of the "mote."
Catharine, offended by the opposition of England, retaliated by
entering into a treaty of commerce with France, which deprived England
of an important part of the Russian trade.

The spirit of toleration manifested by Catharine is worthy of all
praise. During the whole of her reign she would not allow any one to
be persecuted, in the slightest degree, on account of religious
opinions. All the conquered provinces were protected in the free
exercise of their religion. Lutherans, Calvinists, Moravians, Papists,
Mohammedans, and Pagans of all kinds, not only enjoyed freedom of
opinion and of worship, but could alike aspire to any post, civil or
military, of which they could prove themselves worthy. At one time,
when urged by the hateful spirit of religious bigotry to frown upon
some heresy, she replied smiling,

"Poor wretches! since we know that they are to suffer so much and so
long in the world to come, it is but reasonable that we should
endeavor, by all means, to make their situation here as comfortable as
we can."

Though Catharine II. had many great defects of character, she had many
virtues which those who have denounced her most severely might do well
to imitate. Her crowning vice, and the one which, notwithstanding her
virtues, has consigned her name to shame, was that she had a constant
succession of lovers who by secret and very informal nuptial rites
were bound to her for a season, each one of whom was exchanged for
another as caprice incited. The spirit of national aggrandizement
which influenced Catharine, was a spirit possessed, to an equal
extent, at that time, by every cabinet in Christendom. It was the
great motive power of the age. Dismembered Poland excites our
sympathy; but Poland was as eager to share in the partition of other
States as she was reluctant to submit to that operation herself. In
personal character Catharine was humane, tolerant, self-denying, and
earnestly devoted to the welfare of her empire. Religious teachers, of
all denominations, freely met at her table. This Christian liberality,
thus encouraged in the palace, spread through the realm, producing the
most beneficial results. On the occasion of a celebrated festival,
Catharine gave a grand dinner party to ecclesiastics of all communions
at the palace. This entertainment she called the "Dinner of
Toleration." The representatives of eight different forms of worship
met around this hospitable board.

The instruction of the masses of the people occupied much of the
attention of this extraordinary woman. She commenced with founding
schools in the large towns; and then proceeded to the establishment of
them in various parts of the country. Many normal schools were
established for the education of teachers. The empress herself
attended the examinations and questioned the scholars. On one of these
occasions, when a learned German professor of history was giving a
lecture to some pupils, gathered from the tribes of Siberia, the
empress proposed an objection to some views he advanced. The courtiers
were shocked at the learned man's presumption in replying to the
objection in the most conclusive manner. The empress, ever eager in
the acquisition of knowledge, admitted her mistake, and thanked the
professor for having rectified it with so much ability.

She purchased, at a high price, the libraries of D'Alembert, and of
Voltaire, immediately after the death of those illustrious men. She
also purchased the valuable cabinet of natural curiosities collected
by Professor Pallas. The most accomplished engineers she could obtain
were sent to explore the mountains of Caucasus, and even to the
frontiers of China. When we consider the trackless deserts to be
explored, the inhospitable climes and barbarous nations to be
encountered, these were enterprises far more perilous than the
circumnavigation of the globe. The scientific expedition to China was
escorted by a corps of eight hundred and ten chosen men, led by one
hundred and seven distinguished officers. The _savans_ were provided
with every thing which could be thought of to promote their comfort
and to aid them in their explorations, and three years were alloted as
the probable term of service required by the mission. At the same time
a naval expedition was fitted out to explore the northern seas, and
ascertain the limits of the Russian empire. But the greatest work of
Catharine's reign was the completion of the canal which united the
waters of the Volga and the Neva, and thus established an inland
navigation through all the countries which lie between the Caspian Sea
and the Baltic.

In the year 1786 the empress announced her intention of making a
magnificent journey to the Crimea, in order to be crowned sovereign of
her new conquests. This design was to be executed in the highest style
of oriental pomp, as the empress was resolved to extend her sway over
all the nations of the Tartars. But the Tartars of those unmeasured
realms, informed of the contemplated movement, were alarmed, and
immediately combined their energies for a determined resistance. The
Grand Seignior was also goaded to the most desperate exertions, for
the empress had formed the design, and the report was universally
promulgated, of placing her second grandchild, Constantine, on the
throne of Constantinople.

The empress set out on her triumphal journey to the Crimea, on the
18th of January, 1787, accompanied by a magnificent suite. The
sledges, large, commodious and so lined with furs as to furnish
luxurious couches for repose, traveled night and day. Relays of
horses were collected at all the stations and immense bonfires blazed
at night all along the road. Twenty-one days were occupied in the
journey to Kief, where the empress was met by all the nobles of that
portion of the empire. Here fifty magnificent galleys, upon the ice of
the Dnieper, awaited the arrival of the empress and the opening of the
river. On the 6th of May the ice was gone, the barges were afloat, and
the empress with her suite embarked. The King of Poland, who had now
assumed his old name of Count Poniatowski, here met, in the barge of
the empress, his rival, Stanislaus Augustus.

The passage down the river, in this lovely month of spring, was like a
fairy scene. The banks of the Dnieper were lined with villages
constructed for the occasion. Peasants, in the most picturesque
costumes, tended their flocks, or attended to various industrial arts
as the flotilla drifted by. The Emperor of Germany, Joseph II., met
the empress at Kaidak, from whence they proceeded together, by land,
to Kherson. Here Catharine lodged in a palace where a throne had been
erected for the occasion which cost fourteen thousand dollars. The
whole expense of this one journey exceeded seven millions of dollars.
From Kherson the empress proceeded to the inland part of the Crimean
peninsula. Her body guard consisted of an army of one hundred and
fifty thousand men, stationed at but a short distance from her. The
entertainments in the Crimea were of the most gorgeous character, and
were arranged without any regard to expense. On the return of the
empress she reached St. Petersburg the end of July, having been absent
six months and four days. All Europe was surprised at the supineness
which the sultan had manifested in allowing Catharine to prosecute her
journey unobstructed; but Turkey was not then prepared for the
commencement of hostilities.

A squadron of thirty ships of war soon sailed from Constantinople and
entered the Euxine. The Turks were apprehensive that the Greeks might
rise and disarmed them all before commencing the campaign. The empress
had equipped, at Azof and Kherson, eight ships of the line, twelve
frigates, and two hundred gun-boats. She had, in addition, a large
squadron at Cronstadt, ready to sail for the Mediterranean. Eighty
thousand soldiers were also on the march from Germany to Moldavia.
Every thing indicated that the entire overthrow of the Ottoman empire
was at hand.

The thunders of battle soon commenced on the sea and on the land. Both
parties fought with desperation. Russia and Austria endeavored to
unite France with them, in the attempt to dismember the Turkish empire
as Poland had been partitioned, but France now stood in dread of the
gigantic growth both of Russia and of Austria, and was by no means
disposed to strengthen those powers. England was also secretly aiding
the Turks and sending them supplies. Influenced by the same jealousy
against Russia, Sweden ventured to enter into an alliance with the
Turks, while Prussia, from the same motive, secretly lent Gustavus
III. money, and England sent him a fleet. Thus, all of a sudden, new
and appalling dangers blazed upon Russia. So many troops had been sent
to the Crimea that Catharine was quite unprepared for an attack from
the Swedish frontier.

The Grand Duke Paul begged permission of his mother that he might join
the army against the Turks. The empress refused her consent.

"My intention," wrote again the grand duke, "of going to fight against
the Ottomans is publicly known. What will Europe say, in seeing that I
do not carry it into effect?"

"Europe will say," Catharine replied, "that the grand duke of Russia
is a dutiful son."

The appearance of the powerful Swedish fleet in the Baltic rendered it
necessary for Catharine to recall the order for the squadron at
Cronstadt to sail for the Mediterranean. The roar of artillery now
reverberated alike along the shores of the Baltic and over the waves
of the Euxine. Denmark and Norway were brought into the conflict, and
all Europe was again the theater of intrigues and battles. It would be
a weary story to relate the numerous conflicts, defeats and victories
which ensued. Famine and pestilence desolated the regions where the
Turkish and Russian armies were struggling. Army after army was
destroyed until men began to grow scarce in the Russian empire. Even
the wilds of Siberia were ransacked for exiles, and many of them were
brought back to replenish the armies of the empress. At length, after
a warfare of two years, with about equal success on both sides,
Catharine and Gustavus came to terms, both equally glad to escape the
blows which each gave the other. This peace enabled Russia to
concentrate her energies upon Turkey.

The Turks now fell like grass before the scythe. But the Russian
generals and soldiers were often as brutal as demons. Nominal
Christianity was no more merciful than was paganism. Count Potemkin,
the leader of the Russian army, was one of the worst specimens of the
old aristocracy, which now, in many parts of Europe, have gone down
into a grave whence, it is to be hoped, there can be no resurrection.
The Turkish town of Ismael was taken in September, 1790, after
enormous slaughter. The French Revolution was at this time in rapid
progress, and several Frenchmen were in the Russian army. To one of
these, Colonel Langeron, Potemkin said,

"Colonel, your countrymen are a pack of madmen. I would require only
my grooms to stand by me, and we should soon bring them to their

Langeron replied, "Prince, I do not think you would be able to do it
with all your army!"

These words so exasperated the Russian general that he rose in a rage,
and threatened to send Langeron to Siberia. Conscious of his peril the
French colonel fled, and entered into the service of the Austrians.

Emissaries of Catharine were sent through all the Greek isles, to
urge the Greeks to rise against the enemies of the cross and restore
their country to independence. Many of the Greeks rose, and
Constantinople was in consternation. A Grecian embassage waited upon
Catharine, imploring her aid for the enfranchisement of their country,
and that she would give them her grandson Constantine for a sovereign.
On the 20th of February, 1790, Joseph II., Emperor of Austria, died,
and was succeeded by Leopold II., who, yielding to the influence of
Prussia, concluded a separate peace with the Porte, and left Catharine
to contend alone with the Ottomans. The empress now saw that,
notwithstanding her victories, Russia was exhausted, and that she
could not hope for the immediate accomplishment of her ambitious
projects, and she became desirous of peace. Through the mediation of
England terms of peace were proposed, and acceded to in January, 1792.
In this war it is estimated that Russia lost two hundred thousand men,
Austria one hundred and thirty thousand, and Turkey three hundred and
thirty thousand. Russia expended in this war, beneficial to none and
ruinous alike to all, two hundred millions of dollars.

The empress, thwarted in her designs upon Turkey, now turned to
Poland. War was soon declared, and her armies were soon sweeping over
that ill-fated territory. Kosciusko fought like a hero for his
country, but his troops were mercilessly butchered by Russian and
Prussian armies. In triumph the allies entered the gory streets of
Warsaw, sent the king, Stanislaus Augustus, to exile on a small
pension, and divided the remainder of Poland between them. Catharine
now entered into the coalition of the European powers against
republican France. She consented to a treaty with England and Austria,
by which she engaged to furnish an army of eighty thousand men to
crush the spirit of French liberty, on condition that those two powers
should consent to her driving Turks out of Europe. Catharine was
highly elated with this treaty. It was drawn up and was to be signed
on the 6th of November, 1796.

On the morning of that day the empress, in her usual health and
spirits, rose from the breakfast table, and retired to her closet. Not
returning as soon as usual, some of her attendants entered and found
her on the floor senseless. She had fallen in a fit of apoplexy, and
died at ten o'clock in the evening of the next day without regaining
consciousness or uttering a word, in the sixty-seventh year of her
age, and after a reign of thirty-five years.

Paul, who was at his country palace, being informed of his mother's
death, and of his accession to the throne, hastened to St. Petersburg.
He ordered the tomb of Peter III. to be opened and placed the coffin
by the side of that of the empress, with a true love knot reaching
from one to the other, containing the inscription, under the
circumstances supremely ridiculous, "divided in life--united in
death." They were both buried together with the most sumptuous funeral

The character of Catharine II. is sufficiently portrayed in her
marvelous history. The annals of past ages may be searched in vain for
her parallel. Two passions were ever predominant with her, love and
ambition. Her mind seemed incapable of exhaustion, and notwithstanding
the number of her successive favorites, with whom she entered into the
most guilty connections, no monarch ever reigned with more dignity or
with a more undisputed sway. Under her reign, notwithstanding the
desolating wars, Russia made rapid advances in power and civilization.
She protected commerce, excited industry, cultivated the arts,
encouraged learning, promoted manufactures, founded cities, dug
canals, and developed in a thousand ways the wealth and resources of
the country. She had so many vices that some have consigned her name
to infamy, and so many virtues, that others have advocated her

By the most careful calculation it is estimated that during the
thirty five years of the reign of Catharine, she added over four
hundred thousand square miles to the territory of Russia, and six
millions of inhabitants. It would be difficult to estimate the
multitude of lives and the amount of treasure expended in her
ambitious wars. We know of no more affecting comment to be made upon
the history of our world, than that it presents such a bloody tragedy,
that even the career of Catharine does not stand out in any peculiar
prominence of atrocity. God made man but little lower than the angels.
He is indeed fallen.



From 1796 to 1801.

Accession of Paul I. to the Throne.--Influence of the Hereditary
Transmission of Power.--Extravagance of Paul.--His Despotism.--The
Horse Court Martialed.--Progress of the French Revolution.--Fears and
Violence of Paul I.--Hostility to Foreigners.--Russia Joins the
Coalition against France.--March of Suwarrow.--Character of
Suwarrow.--Battle on the Adda.--Battle of Novi.--Suwarrow Marches to
the Rhine.--His Defeat and Death.--Paul Abandons the Coalition and
Joins France.--Conspiracies at St. Petersburg.

Few sovereigns have ever ascended the throne more ignorant of affairs
of state than was Paul I. Catharine had endeavored to protract his
childhood, entrusting him with no responsibilities, and regulating
herself minutely all his domestic and private concerns. He was
carefully excluded from any participation in national affairs and was
not permitted to superintend even his own household. Catharine took
his children under her own protection as soon as they were born, and
the parents were seldom allowed to see them. Paul I. had experienced,
in his own person, all the burden of despotism ere he ascended
Russia's despotic throne. Naturally desirous to secure popularity, he
commenced his reign with acts which were much applauded. He introduced
economy into the expenditures of the court, forbade the depreciation
of the currency and the further issue of paper money, and withdrew the
army which Catharine had sent to Persia on a career of conquest.

Paul I. did not love his mother. He did not believe that he was her
legitimate child. Still, as his only title to the throne was founded
on his being the reputed child of Peter III., he did what he could to
rescue the memory of that prince from the infamy to which it had been
very properly consigned. He had felt so humiliated by the domineering
spirit of Catharine, that he resolved that Russia should not again
fall under the reign of a woman, and issued a decree that henceforth
the crown should descend in the male line only, and from father to
son. The new emperor manifested his hostility to his mother, by
endeavoring in various ways to undo what she had done.

The history of Europe is but a continued comment upon the folly of the
law of the hereditary descent of power, a law which is more likely to
place the crown upon the brow of a knave, a fool or a madman, than
upon that of one qualified to govern. Russia soon awoke to the
consciousness that the destinies of thirty millions of people were in
the hands of a maniac, whose conduct seemed to prove that his only
proper place was in one of the wards of Bedlam. The grossest
contradictions followed each other in constant succession. Today he
would caress his wife, to-morrow place her under military arrest. At
one hour he would load his children with favors, and the next endeavor
to expose them publicly to shame.

Though Paul severely blamed his mother for the vast sums she lavished
upon her court, these complaints did not prevent him from surpassing
her in extravagance. The innumerable palaces she had reared and
embellished with more than oriental splendor, were not sufficient for
him. Neither the Winter palace, nor the Summer palace, nor the palace
of Anitschkoff, nor the Marble palace, nor the Hermitage, whose
fairy-like gorgeousness amazed all beholders, nor a crowd of other
royal residences, too numerous to mention, and nearly all
world-renowned, were deemed worthy of the residence of the new
monarch. Pretending that he had received a celestial injunction to
construct a new palace, he built, reckless of expense, the chateau of
St. Michael.

The crown of Catharine was the wonder of Europe, but it was not rich
enough for the brow of Paul. A new one was constructed, and his
coronation at Moscow was attended with freaks of expenditure which
impoverished provinces. Boundless gifts were lavished upon his
favorites. But that he might enrich a single noble, ten thousand
peasants were robbed. The crown peasants were vassals, enjoying very
considerable freedom and many privileges. The peasantry of the nobles
were slaves, nearly as much so as those on a Cuban plantation, with
the single exception that custom prevented their being sold except
with the land. Like the buildings, the oaks and the elms, they were
inseparably attached to the soil. The emperor, at his coronation, gave
away eighty thousand families to his favorites. Their labor
henceforth, for life, was all to go to enrich their masters. These
courtiers, reveling in boundless luxury, surrendered their slaves to
overseers, whose reputation depended upon extorting as much as
possible from the miserable boors.

The extravagance of Catharine II. had rendered it necessary for her to
triple the capitation, or, as we should call it, the poll-tax, imposed
upon the peasants. Paul now doubled this tax, which his mother had
already tripled. The King of Prussia had issued a decree that no
subject should fall upon his knees before him, but that every man
should maintain in his presence and in that of the law the dignity of
humanity. Paul, on the contrary, reëstablished, in all its rigor, the
oriental etiquette, which Peter I. and Catharine had allowed to pass
into disuse, which required every individual, whether a citizen or a
stranger, to fall instantly upon his knees whenever the tzar made his
appearance. Thus, when Paul passed along the streets on horseback or
in his carriage, every man, woman and child, within sight of the royal
cortege, was compelled to kneel, whether in mud or snow, until the
cortege had passed. No one was exempted from the rule. Strangers and
citizens, nobles and peasants, were compelled to the degrading homage.
Those on horseback or in carriages were required instantly to
dismount and prostrate themselves before the despot.

A noble lady who came to St. Petersburg in her carriage, in great
haste, to seek medical aid for her husband, who had been suddenly
taken sick, in her trouble not having recognized the imperial livery,
was dragged from her carriage and thrust into prison. Her four
servants, who accompanied her, were seized and sent to the army,
although they plead earnestly that, coming from a distance, they were
ignorant of the law, the infraction of which was attributed to them as
a crime. The unhappy lady, thus separated from her sick husband, and
plunged into a dungeon, was so overwhelmed with anguish that she was
thrown into a fever. Reason was dethroned, and she became a hopeless
maniac. The husband died, being deprived of the succor his wife had
attempted to obtain.

The son of a rich merchant, passing rapidly in his sleigh, muffled in
furs, did not perceive the carriage of the emperor which he met, until
it had passed. The police seized him; his sleigh and horses were
confiscated. He was placed in close confinement for a month, and then,
after receiving fifty blows from the terrible knout, was delivered to
his friends a mangled form, barely alive.

A young lady, by some accident, had not thrown herself upon her knees
quick enough at the appearance of the imperial carriage in the streets
of Moscow. She was an orphan and resided with an aunt. They were both
imprisoned for a month and fed upon bread and water; the young lady
for failing in respect to the emperor, and the aunt for not having
better instructed her niece. How strange is this power of despotism,
by which one madman compels forty millions of people to tremble before

One of the freaks of this crazy prince was to court-martial his horse.
The noble steed had tripped beneath his rider. A council was convened,
composed of the equerries of the palace. The horse was proved guilty
of failing in respect to his majesty, and was condemned to receive
fifty blows from a heavy whip. Paul stood by, as the sentence was
executed, counting off the blows.[24]

[Footnote 24: Memoires Secret, tome i., page 334.]

Twelve Polish gentlemen were condemned, for being "wanting in respect
to his majesty," to have their noses and ears cut off, and were then
sent to perpetual Siberian exile. When any one was admitted to an
audience with the tzar, it was necessary for him to fall upon his
knees so suddenly and heavily that his bones would ring upon the floor
like the butt of a musket. No gentle genuflexion satisfied the tzar. A
prince Gallatin was imprisoned for "kneeling and kissing the emperor's
hand too negligently." This contempt for humanity soon rendered Paul
very unpopular. He well knew that his legitimacy was doubted, and that
if an illegitimate child he had no right whatever to the throne. He
seemed to wish to prove that he was the son of Peter III. by imitating
all the silly and cruel caprices of that most contemptible prince.

The French Revolution was now in progress, the crushed people of that
kingdom endeavoring to throw off the yoke of intolerable oppression.
All the despots in Europe were alarmed lest popular liberty in France
should undermine their thrones. None were more alarmed than Paul. He
was so fearful that democratic ideas might enter his kingdom that he
forbade the introduction into his realms of any French journal or
pamphlet. All Frenchmen in his kingdom were also ordered immediately
to depart. All ships arriving were searched and if any French subjects
were on board, men or women, they were not permitted to land, but were
immediately sent out of the kingdom. Merchants, who had left their
families and their business for a temporary absence, were not
permitted again to set foot in the kingdom. The suffering which this
cruel edict occasioned was very great.

Day after day new decrees were issued, of ever increasing violence.
The tzar became suspicious of all strangers of whatever nation, and
endeavored to rear a wall of separation around his whole kingdom which
should exclude it from all intercourse with other parts of Europe. The
German universities were all declared to be tainted with superstition,
and all Russians were prohibited, under penalty of the confiscation of
their estates, from sending their sons to those institutions. No
foreigner, of whatever nation, was allowed to take part in any civil
or ecclesiastical service. The young Russians who were already in the
German universities, were commanded immediately to return to their

Apprehensive that knowledge itself, by whomsoever communicated, might
make the people restless under their enormous wrongs, Paul suppressed
nearly all the schools which had been founded by Catharine II.,
reserving only a few to communicate instruction in the military art.
All books, but those issued under the surveillance of the government,
were interdicted. The greatest efforts were made to draw a broad line
of distinction between the people and the nobles, and to place a
barrier there which no plebeian could pass. Some one informed Paul
that in France the revolutionists wore the chapeau, or three-cornered
hat, with one of the corners in front. The tzar immediately issued a
decree that in Russia the hat should be worn with the corner behind.

We have said that Paul was bitterly hostile to all foreigners. The
emigrants, however, who fled from France, with arms in their hands,
imploring the courts of Europe to crush republican liberty in France,
he welcomed with the greatest cordiality and loaded with favors. The
princes and nobles of the French court received from Paul large
pensions, while, at the same time, he ignobly made them feel that he
was their master and they were his slaves. His dread of French liberty
was so great, that with all his soul he entered into the wide-spread
European coalition which the genius of Pitt had organized against
France, and which embraced even Turkey. And now for the first time the
spectacle was seen of the Russian and Turkish squadrons combining
against a common foe. Paul sent an army of one hundred thousand men to
coöperate with the allies. Republican France gathered up her energies
to resist Europe in arms. The young Napoleon, heading a heroic band of
half-famished soldiers, turned the Alps and fell like a thunderbolt
into the Austrian camp upon the plains of Italy. In a series of
victories which astounded the world he swept the foe before him, and
compelled the Austrians to sue for peace. The embassadors of France
and Germany met at Rastadt, in congress, and after spending many
months in negotiations, the congress was dissolved by the Emperor of
Germany, in April, 1799. The French embassadors set out to return, and
were less than a quarter of a mile from the city, when a troop of
Austrian hussars fell upon them, and two of their number, Roberjeot
and Bonnier, were treacherously assassinated. The third, Delry, though
left for dead, revived so far as to be able, covered with wounds and
blood, to crawl back to Rastadt.[25]

[Footnote 25: "Our plenipotentiaries were massacred at Rastadt, and
notwithstanding the indignation expressed by all France at that
atrocity, vengeance was still very tardy in overtaking the assassins.
The two Councils were the first to render a melancholy tribute of
honor to the victims. Who that saw that ceremony ever forgot its
solemnity? Who can recollect without emotion the religious silence
which reigned throughout the hall and galleries when the vote was put?
The president then turned towards the curule chairs of the victims, on
which lay the official costume of the assassinated representatives,
covered with black crape, bent over them, pronounced the names of
Roberjeot and Bonnier, and added, in a voice, the tone of which was
always thrilling, _Assassinated at the Congress of Rastadt_.
Immediately all the representatives responded, _May their blood be
upon the heads of their murderers_."--_Duchess of Abrantes_, p. 206.]

Napoleon was at this time in Egypt, endeavoring to assail England, the
most formidable foe of France, in India, the only vulnerable point
which could be reached. Fifty thousand Russians, in a single band,
were marching through Germany to coöperate with the Austrians on the
French frontiers. The more polished Germans were astonished at the
barbaric character of their allies. A Russian officer, in a freak of
passion, shot an Austrian postilion, and then took out his purse and
enquired of the employer of the postilion what damage was to be paid,
as coolly as if he had merely killed a horse or a cow. Even German law
was compelled to wink at such outrages, for an ally so essential as
Russia it was needful to conciliate at all hazards. Paul deemed
himself the most illustrious monarch of Europe, and resolved that none
but a Russian general should lead the allied armies. The Germans, on
the contrary, regarded the Russians as barbarians of wolfish courage
and gigantic strength, but far too ignorant of military science to be
entrusted with the plan of a campaign. After much contention the
Emperor of Austria was compelled to yield, and an old Russian general,
Suwarrow, was placed in command of the armies of the two most powerful
empires then on the globe.

And who was Suwarrow? Behold his portrait. Born in a village of the
Ukraine, the boy was sent by his father, an army officer, to the
military academy at St. Petersburg, whence he entered the army as a
common soldier, and ever after, for more than sixty years, he lived in
incessant battles in Sweden, Turkey, Poland. In the storm of Ismael,
forty thousand men, women and, children fell in indiscriminate
massacre at his command. In the campaign which resulted in the
partition of Poland, twenty thousand Poles were cut down by his
dragoons. A stranger to fear, grossly illiterate, and with no human
sympathies, he appears on the arena but as a thunderbolt of war. Next
to the emperor Paul, he was perhaps the most fantastic man on the
continent. In a war with the Turks he killed a large number with his
own hands, and brought, on his shoulders, a sackful of heads, which he
rolled out at the feet of his general. This was the commencement of
his reputation.[26] His whole military career was in accordance with
this act. He had but one passion, love of war. He would often, even in
mid-winter, have one or two pailsful of cold water poured upon him,
as he rose from his bed, and then, in his shirt, leap upon an
unsaddled horse and scour the camp with the speed of the wind.
Sometimes he would appear, in the early morning, at the door of his
tent, stark naked, and crow like a cock. This was a signal for the
tented host to spring to arms. Occasionally he would visit the
hospital, pretending that he was a physician, and would prescribe
medicine for those whom he thought sick, and scourgings for those whom
he imagined to be feigning sickness. Sometimes he would turn all the
patients out of the doors, sick and well, saying that it was not
permitted for the soldiers of Suwarrow to be sick. He was as merciless
to himself as he was to his soldiers. Hunger, cold, fatigue, seemed to
him to be pleasures. Hardships which to many would render life a scene
of insupportable torture, were to him joys. He usually traveled in a
coarse cart, which he made his home, sleeping in it at night, with but
the slightest protection from the weather. Whenever he lodged in a
house, his _aides_ took the precaution to remove the windows from his
room, as he would otherwise inevitably smash every glass.

[Footnote 26: Histoire Philosophique et Politique de Russie. Tome
cinquième, p. 233.]

Notwithstanding this ostentatious display of his hatred of all luxury,
he was excessively fond of diamonds and other precious stones. He was
also exceedingly superstitious, ever falling upon his knees before
whatever priest he might meet, and imploring his benediction. Such men
generally feel that the observance of ceremonial rites absolves them
from the guilt of social crimes. With these democratic manners
Suwarrow utterly detested liberty. The French, as the most
liberty-loving people of Europe, he abhorred above all others. He
foamed with rage when he spoke of them. In the sham fights with which
he frequently exercised the army, when he gave the order to "_charge
the miserable French_," every soldier was to make two thrusts of the
bayonet in advance, as if twice to pierce the heart of the foe, and a
third thrust into the ground, that the man, twice bayoneted, might be
pinned in death to the earth. Such was the general whom Paul sent "to
destroy the impious government," as he expressed it, "which dominated
over France."

With blind confidence Suwarrow marched down upon the plains of
Lombardy, dreaming that in those fertile realms nothing awaited him
but an easy triumph over those who had been guilty of the crime of
abolishing despotism. The French had heard appalling rumors of the
prowess and ferocity of these warriors of the North, and awaited the
shock with no little solicitude.[27] The two armies met on the banks
of the Adda, which flows into the northern part of the Lake of Como.
Suwarrow led sixty thousand Russians and Austrians. The French
general, Moreau, to oppose them, had the wreck of an army, consisting
of twenty-five thousand men, disheartened by defeat. On the 17th of
April, 1799, the first Russian regiment appeared in sight of the
bridge of Lecco. The French, indignant at the interference of the
Russians in a quarrel with which they had no concern, dashed upon them
with their bayonets, and repulsed them with great carnage. But the
hosts of Russia and Austria came pouring on in such overwhelming
numbers, that Moreau, with his forces reduced to twenty thousand men,
was compelled to retreat before an army which could concentrate ninety
thousand troops in line of battle. Pressed by the enemy, he retreated
through Milan to Turin. Suwarrow tarried in Milan to enjoy a triumph
accorded to him by the priests and the nobles, the creatures of

[Footnote 27: "Suwarrow was a genuine barbarian, fortunately
incapable of calculating the employment of his forces, otherwise the
republic might perhaps have succumbed. His army was like himself. It
had a bravery that was extraordinary and bordered on fanaticism, but
no instruction. It was expert only at the use of the bayonet.
Suwarrow, extremely insolent to the allies, gave Russian officers
to the Austrians to teach them the use of the bayonet. Fortunately
his brutal energy, after doing a great deal of mischief, had to
encounter the energy of skill and calculation, and was foiled by the
latter."--_Thiers' History French Revolution_, vol. iv., p. 346.]

Moreau entrenched himself at Alexandria, awaiting the arrival of
General Macdonald with reinforcements. Suwarrow approached with an
army now exceeding one hundred thousand men. Again Moreau was
compelled to retreat, pursued by Suwarrow, and took refuge on the
crest of the Apennines, in the vicinity of Genoa. By immense exertions
he had assembled forty thousand men. Suwarrow came thundering upon him
with sixty thousand. The French army was formed in a semicircle on the
slopes of the Monte Rotundo, about twenty miles north of Genoa. The
Austro-Russian army spread over the whole plain below. At five o'clock
in the morning of the 15th of August, 1799, the fierce battle of Novi
commenced. Suwarrow, a fierce fighter, but totally unacquainted with
the science of strategy, in characteristic words gave the order of
battle. "Kray," said he, "will attack the left--the Russians the
center--Melas the right." To the soldiers he said, "God wills, the
emperor orders, Suwarrow commands, that to-morrow the enemy be
conquered." Dressed in his usual costume, in his shirt down to the
waist, he led his troops into battle. Enormous slaughter ensued;
numbers prevailing against science, and the French, driven out of
Italy, took refuge along the ridges of the Apennines.

Suwarrow, satisfied with his dearly-bought victory, for he had lost
ten thousand men in the conflict, did not venture to pursue the
retiring foe, but with his bleeding and exhausted army fell back to
Coni; and thence established garrisons throughout Piedmont and
Lombardy. Paul was almost delirious with joy at this great victory. He
issued a decree declaring Suwarrow to be the greatest general "of all
times, of all peoples and of all quarters of the globe." In his pride
he declared that republican France, for the crime of rebelling against
legitimate authority, should receive punishment which should warn all
nations against following her example. The Russian squadron combined
with that of the Turks, formed a junction with the victorious fleet of
Nelson, and sailing from the bay of Aboukir, swept the French fleet
from the Mediterranean.

The Austrians and Russians, thus victorious, now marched to assail
Massena at Zurich on the Rhine, intending there to cross the stream
and invade France. For a month, in September and October, 1799, there
was a series of incessant battles. But the republican armies were
triumphant. The banners of France struggled proudly through many
scenes of blood and woe, and the shores of Lake Zurich and the
fastnesses of the Alps, were strewed with the dead bodies of the
Russians. In fourteen days twenty thousand Russians and six thousand
Austrians were slain. Suwarrow, the intrepid barbarian, with but ten
thousand men saved from his proud army, retreated overwhelmed with
confusion and rage. Republican France was saved. The rage which
Suwarrow displayed is represented as truly maniacal. He foamed at the
mouth and roared like a bull. As a wounded lion turns upon his
pursuers, from time to time he stopped in his retreat, and rushed back
upon the foe. He was crushed in body and mind by this defeat. Having
wearied himself in denouncing, in unmeasured terms, all his generals
and soldiers, he became taciturn and moody. Secluding himself from his
fellow-men he courted solitude, and surrendered himself to a fantastic
and superstitious devotion. Enveloped in a cloak, and with his eyes
fixed upon the ground, he would occasionally pass through the camp,
condescending to notice no one.

Paul had also sent an army into Holland, against France, which had
been utterly repulsed by General Brune, with the loss of many slain
and taken prisoners. The tidings of these disasters roused, in the
bosom of Paul, fury equal to that which Suwarrow had displayed. He
bitterly cursed his allies, England and Austria, declaring that they,
in the pursuit of their own selfish interests, had abandoned his
armies to destruction. Suwarrow, deprived of further command, and
overwhelmed with disgrace, retired to one of his rural retreats where
he soon died of chagrin.

The Austrian and English embassadors at the court of St. Petersburg,
Paul loaded with reproaches and even with insults. His conduct became
so whimsical as to lead many to suppose that he was actually insane.
He had long hated the French republicans, but now, with a new and a
fresher fury, he hated the allies. The wrecks of his armies were
ordered to return to Russia, and he ceased to take an active part in
the prosecution of the war, without however professing, in any way, to
withdraw from the coalition. Neither the Austrian nor the English
embassador could obtain an audience with the emperor. He treated them
with utter neglect, and, the court following the example of the
sovereign, these embassadors were left in perfect solitude. They could
not even secure an audience with any of the ministry.

Paul had been very justly called the Don Quixote of the coalition, and
the other powers were now not a little apprehensive of the course he
might adopt, for madman as he was, he was the powerful monarch of some
forty millions of people. Soon he ordered the Russian fleet, which in
coöperation with the squadrons of the allies was blockading Malta, to
withdraw from the conflict. Then he recalled his ministers from London
and Vienna, declaring that neither England nor Austria was contending
for any principle, but that they were fighting merely for their own
selfish interests. England had already openly declared her intention
of appropriating Malta to herself.

Napoleon had now returned from Egypt and had been invested with the
supreme power in France as First Consul. There were many French
prisoners in the hands of the allies. France had also ten thousand
Russian prisoners. Napoleon proposed an exchange. Both England and
Austria refused to exchange French prisoners for Russians.

"What," exclaimed Napoleon, "do you refuse to liberate the Russians,
who were your allies, who were fighting in your ranks and under your
commanders? Do you refuse to restore to their country those men to
whom you are indebted for your victories and conquests in Italy, and
who have left in your hands a multitude of French prisoners whom they
have taken? Such injustice excites my indignation."

With characteristic magnanimity he added, "I will restore them to the
tzar without exchange. He shall see how I esteem brave men."

These Russian prisoners were assembled at Aix la Chapelle. They were
all furnished with a complete suit of new clothing, in the uniform of
their own regiments, and were thoroughly supplied with weapons of the
best French manufacture. And thus they were returned to their homes.
Paul was exactly in that mood of mind which best enabled him to
appreciate such a deed. He at once abandoned the alliance, and with
his own hand wrote to Napoleon as follows:

"Citizen First Consul,--I do not write to you to discuss the rights of
men or of citizens. Every country governs itself as it pleases.
Whenever I see, at the head of a nation, a man who knows how to rule
and how to fight, my heart is attracted towards him. I write to
acquaint you with my dissatisfaction with England, who violates every
article of the law of nations and has no guide but her egotism and her
interest. I wish to unite with you to put an end to the unjust
proceedings of that government."

Friendly relations were immediately established between France and
Russia, and they exchanged embassadors. Paul had conferred an annual
pension of two hundred thousand rubles (about $150,000) upon the Count
of Provence, subsequently Louis XVIII., and had given him an asylum at
Mittau. He now withdrew that pension and protection. He induced the
King of Denmark to forbid the English fleet from passing the Sound,
which led into the Baltic Sea, engaging, should the English attempt to
force the passage, to send a fleet of twenty-one ships to assist the
Danes. The battle of Hohenlinden and the peace of Luneville detached
Austria from the coalition, and England was left to struggle alone
against the new opinions in France.

The nobles of Russia, harmonizing with the aristocracy of Europe,
were quite dissatisfied with this alliance between Russia and France.
Though the form of the republic was changed to that of the consulate,
they saw that the principles of popular liberty remained unchanged in
France. The wife of Paul and her children, victims of the inexplicable
caprice of the tzar, lived in constant constraint and fear. The
empress had three sons--Alexander, Constantine and Nicholas. The heir
apparent, Alexander, was watched with the most rigorous scrutiny, and
was exposed to a thousand mortifications. The suspicious father became
the jailer of his son, examining all his correspondence, and
superintending his mode of life in its minutest details. The most
whimsical and annoying orders were issued, which rendered life, in the
vicinity of the court, almost a burden. The army officers were
forbidden to attend evening parties lest they should be too weary for
morning parade. Every one who passed the imperial palace, even in the
most inclement weather, was compelled to go with head uncovered. The
enforcement of his arbitrary measures rendered the intervention of the
troops often necessary. The palace was so fortified and guarded as to
resemble a prison. St. Petersburg, filled with the machinery of war,
presented the aspect of a city besieged. Every one was exposed to
arrest. No one was sure of passing the night in tranquillity, there
were so many domiciliary visits; and many persons, silently arrested,
disappeared without it ever being known what became of them. Spies
moved about everywhere, and their number was infinite. Paul thus
enlisted against himself the animosity of all classes of his
subjects--his own family, foreigners, the court, the nobles and the
bourgeois. Such were the influences which originated the conspiracy
which resulted in the assassination of the tzar.



From 1801 to 1807.

Assassination of Paul I.--Implication of Alexander in the
Conspiracy.--Anecdotes.--Accession of Alexander.--The French
Revolution.--Alexander Joins Allies Against France.--State of
Russia.--Useful Measures of Alexander.--Peace of Amiens.--Renewal of
Hostilities.--Battle of Austerlitz.--Magnanimity of Napoleon.--New
Coalition.--Ambition of Alexander.--Battles of Jena and Eylau.--Defeat
of the Russians.

We have before mentioned that Paul I. had three sons--Alexander,
Constantine and Nicholas. The eldest of these, Alexander, was a very
promising young man, of popular character, twenty-three years of age.
His father feared his popularity and treated him with the greatest
severity, and was now threatening him and his mother with
imprisonment. General Pahlen, governor of St. Petersburg, obtained the
confidence of the young prince, and urged upon him, as a necessary
measure of self-defense, that he should place himself at the head of a
conspiracy for the dethronement of his insane father. The sufferings
of the young prince were so severe and his perils so great, and the
desire for a change so universal throughout the empire, that it was
not found difficult to enlist him in the enterprise. Alexander
consented to the dethronement of his father, but with the express
condition that his life should be spared. He might perhaps have
flattered himself with the belief that this could be done; but the
conspirators knew full well that the dagger of the assassin was the
only instrument which could remove Paul from the throne. The
conspiracy was very extensive, embracing nearly all the functionaries
of the government at St. Petersburg, the entire senate, and the
diplomatic corps. All the principal officers of the royal guard, with
their colonel at their head, were included in the plot. The hour for
the execution of the conspiracy was fixed for the night of the 23d of
March, 1801.

A regiment devoted to the conspirators was that night on guard at the
palace. The confederates who were to execute the plot, composed of the
most distinguished men in the court and the army, met at the house of
Prince Talitzin ostensibly for a supper. With wine and wassail they
nerved themselves for the desperate deed. Just at midnight a select
number entered the garden of the palace, by a private gate, and
stealing silently along, beneath the trees, approached a portal which
was left unbarred and undefended. One of the guardians of the palace
led their steps and conducted them to an apartment adjoining that in
which the tzar slept. A single hussar guarded the door. He was
instantly struck down, and the conspirators in a body rushed into the
royal chamber.

Paul sprang from his bed, and seizing his sword, endeavored to escape
by another door than that through which the conspirators entered.
Foiled in this attempt, in the darkness, for all lights had been
extinguished, he hid himself behind a movable screen. He was however
soon seized, lights were brought in, and an act of abdication was read
to him which he was required to sign. The intrepid tzar sprang at
Zoubow, who was reading the act, and cuffed his ears. A struggle
immediately ensued, and an officer's sash was passed around the neck
of the monarch, and after a desperate resistance he was strangled. The
dress of one of the conspirators caused him to be mistaken, by the
emperor, for his son Constantine, and the last words which the
wretched sovereign uttered were, "And you too, Constantine."

The two grand dukes, Alexander and Constantine, were in the room
below, and heard all the noise of the struggle in which their father
was assassinated. It was with much difficulty that these young princes
were induced to give their consent to the conspiracy, and they
yielded only on condition that their father's life should be spared.
But self-defense required some vigorous action on their part, for Paul
had threatened to send Alexander to Siberia, to immure Constantine in
a convent, and the empress mother in a cloister.

The conspirators having accomplished the deed, descended into the
apartment, where the grand dukes were awaiting their return. Alexander
enquired eagerly if they had saved his father's life. The silence of
the conspirators told the melancholy tale. The grief manifested by
both Alexander and Constantine was apparently sincere and intense. In
passionate exclamations they gave vent to sorrow and remorse. But
Pahlen, the governor, who had led the conspiracy, calm and collected,
represented that the interests of the empire demanded a change of
policy, that the death of Paul was a fatality, and that nothing now
remained but for Alexander to assume the reins of government.

"I shall be accused," exclaimed Alexander bitterly, "of being the
assassin of my father. You promised me not to attempt his life. I am
the most unhappy man in the world."

The dead body of the emperor was placed upon a table, and an English
physician, named Wylie, was called in to arrange the features so that
it should appear that he had died of apoplexy. The judgment of the
world has ever been and probably ever will be divided respecting the
nature of Alexander's complicity in this murder. Many suppose that he
could not have been ignorant that the death of his father was the
inevitable end of the conspiracy, and that he accepted that result as
a sad necessity. Certain it is that the conspirators were all rewarded
richly, by being entrusted with the chief offices of the state; and
the new monarch surrounded his throne with counselors whose hands were
imbrued in his father's blood. A lady at St. Petersburg wrote to
Fouché on the occasion of some ceremony which soon ensued,

"The young emperor walked preceded by the assassins of his
grandfather, followed by those of his father, and surrounded by his

"Behold," said Fouché, "a woman who speaks Tacitus."

At St. Helena, O'Meara enquired of Napoleon if he thought that Paul
had been insane. "Latterly," Napoleon replied, "I believe that he was.
At first he was strongly prejudiced against the Revolution, and every
person concerned in it; but afterwards I had rendered him reasonable,
and had changed his opinions altogether. If Paul had lived the English
would have lost India before now. An agreement was made between Paul
and myself to invade it. I furnished the plan. I was to have sent
thirty thousand good troops. He was to send a similar number of the
best Russian soldiers, and forty thousand Cossacks. I was to subscribe
ten millions for the purchase of camels and other requisites for
crossing the desert. The King of Prussia was to have been applied to
by both of us to grant a passage for my troops through his dominions,
which would have been immediately granted. I had, at the same time,
made a demand to the King of Persia for a passage through his country,
which would also have been granted, although the negotiations were not
entirely concluded, but would have succeeded, as the Persians were
desirous of profiting by it themselves."[28]

[Footnote 28: "Napoleon at St. Helena," p. 534.]

On another occasion, speaking upon this same subject, Napoleon said to
Las Casas, "Paul had been promised Malta the moment it was taken
possession of by the English. Malta reduced, the English ministers
denied that they had promised it to him. It is confidently stated
that, on the reading of this shameful falsehood, Paul felt so
indignant that, seizing the dispatch in full council, he ran his sword
through it, and ordered it to be sent back, in that condition, by way
of answer. If this be a folly, it must be allowed that it is the folly
of a noble soul. It is the indignation of virtue, which was incapable
until then of suspecting such baseness.

"At the same time the English ministers, treating with us for the
exchange of prisoners, refused to include the Russian prisoners taken
in Holland, who were in the actual service and fought for the sole
cause of the English. I had hit upon the bent of Paul's character. I
seized time by the forelock. I collected these Russians. I clothed
them and sent them back without any expense. From that instant that
generous heart was altogether devoted to me, and, as I had no interest
in opposition to Russia, and should never have spoken or acted but
with justice, there is no doubt that I should have been enabled, for
the future, to dispose of the cabinet of St. Petersburg. Our enemies
were sensible of the danger, and it has been thought that this
good-will of Paul proved fatal to him, It might well have been the
case, for there are cabinets with whom nothing is sacred."

The death of Paul brought the enemies of France and the friends of
England into power at St. Petersburg. The new emperor, the first day
after his accession to the throne, issued a proclamation declaring his
intention to follow in the footsteps of his grandmother, Catharine. He
liberated all the English sailors whom Paul had taken from the ships
laid under sequestration. All the decrees against the free importation
of English merchandise were abolished; and the young emperor soon
wrote, with his own hand, a letter to the King of England, expressing
his earnest desire again to establish friendly relations between the
courts of Russia and England. This declaration was received in London
with shouts of joy.

Alexander was twenty-three years of age when he ascended the throne. A
Swiss, by the name of Laharpe, a man of great intelligence and lofty
spirit, and a republican in principle, had been for many years the
prominent tutor of the young prince, and had obtained a great control
over his mind. The instructions of Laharpe, who wished to make a
Washington of his pupil, were much counteracted by the despotic
lessons he had received from Catharine, and by the luxury, servility
and corruption which crowded the Russian court. Naturally amiable,
and possessed of by no means a strong character, the young monarch was
easily moulded by the influences which surrounded him. He evidently
commenced his reign with the best intentions, resolved, in every way,
to promote the prosperity of his subjects. It is painful to observe
the almost inevitable tendency of power to deprave the soul. History
is filled with the records of those sovereigns who have fallen from
virtue to vice.

The commencement of the reign of Alexander was hailed with general
joy. All his first proclamations breathe the spirit of benevolence, of
generosity, of the desire to ameliorate the condition of the oppressed
millions. The ridiculous ordinances which Paul had issued were
promptly abrogated. By a special edict all Russians were permitted to
dress as they pleased, to wear twilled waistcoats and pantaloons,
instead of short clothes, if they preferred them. They were permitted
to wear round hats, to lead dogs with a leash, and to fasten their
shoes with strings instead of buckles. A large number of exiles, whom
Paul had sent to Siberia, were recalled, and many of the most
burdensome requirements of etiquette, in the court, were annulled.

Though Alexander was an absolute monarch, who could issue any decree,
subject to no restraint, he conferred upon the senate the power to
revise these decrees, and to suggest any amendment; and he also
created a legislature who were permitted to advise respecting any
regulations which they might think promotive of the interests of the
empire. The will of the emperor was, however, absolute and unchecked.
Still the appointment of these deliberative and advising bodies was
considered an immense stride towards constitutional freedom. The
censorship of the press was greatly mitigated, and foreign books and
journals were more freely introduced to the empire.

Two new ministries were established by Alexander, with extensive
responsibilities--the Ministry of the Interior, and that of Public
Instruction. All the officers of government were rendered accountable
to the senate, and responsible to the sovereign. These elements of
accountability and of responsibility had hitherto been almost unknown
in Russia. Charitable institutions were established, and schools of
different grades, for the instruction of all classes of the people.
Ambitious of rendering the Russian court as brilliant in all the
appliances of luxury and art as any court in Europe, the emperor was
indefatigable in the collection of paintings, statuary, medals and all
artistic curiosities. The contrast thus became very marked between the
semi-barbarism of the provinces and the enlightenment and
voluptuousness of the capital.

It is worthy of remark that when Alexander ascended the throne there
did not exist in all Russia, not even in St. Petersburg, a single
book-store.[29] The Russian sovereigns had wished to take from
civilization only that which would add to their despotic power.
Desiring to perpetuate the monopoly of authority, they sought to
retain in their own hands the privileges of instruction. The impulse
which Alexander had given to the cause of education spread throughout
the empire, and the nobles, in the distant provinces, interested
themselves in establishing schools. These schools were, however, very
exclusive in their character, admitting none but the children of the
nobles. The military schools which Catharine had established, with so
much care, Alexander encouraged and supported with the utmost

[Footnote 29: _Histoire Philosophique et Politique de Russie, Depuis
les Temps les Plus Reculés jusqu'au nos Jours. Par J. Esneaux et
Chenechot. Tome cinquième, p. 293._]

As Catharine II. had endeavored to obliterate every trace of the
government of her murdered husband, Peter III., so Alexander strove to
efface all vestiges of his assassinated father, Paul. He entered into
the closest alliance with England, and manifested much eagerness in
his desire to gratify all the wishes of the cabinet of St. James. He
even went so far as to consent to pay a sum of eight hundred thousand
rubles ($600,000), as an indemnity to England for the loss the English
merchants had incurred by the embargo placed by Paul upon their ships.
Every day the partiality of the young emperor for England became more
manifest. In the meantime Napoleon was unwearied in his endeavors to
secure the good-will of a monarch whose sword would have so important
an influence in settling the quarrel between aristocracy and democracy
which then agitated Europe. Napoleon was so far successful that, on
the 8th of October, 1801, a treaty of friendly alliance was signed at
Paris between France and Russia. The battle of Marengo had compelled
Austria to withdraw from the coalition against France; and the peace
of Luneville, which Napoleon signed with Austria in February, 1801,
followed by peace with Spain and Naples in March, with the pope in
July, with Bavaria in August and with Portugal in September, left
England to struggle alone against those republican principles which in
the eyes of aristocratic Europe seemed equally obnoxious whether
moulded under the form of the republic, the consulate or the empire.

The English cabinet, thus left to struggle alone, was compelled,
though very reluctantly, by the murmurs of the British people, to
consent to peace with France; and the treaty of Amiens, which restored
peace to entire Europe, was signed in March, 1802. A few days after
this event, peace was signed with Turkey, and thus through the
sagacity and energy of Napoleon, every hostile sword was sheathed in
Europe and on the confines of Asia. But the treaty of Amiens was a
sore humiliation to the cabinet of St. James, and hardly a year had
elapsed ere the British government, in May, 1803, again drew the
sword, and all Europe was again involved in war. It was a war, said
William Pitt truly, "of armed opinions."

The Russian embassador at Paris, M. Marcow, who under Catharine II.
had shown himself bitterly hostile to the French republic, was
declared to be guilty of entering into intrigues to assist the
English, now making war upon France, and he was ordered immediately to
leave the kingdom. Alexander did not resent this act, so obviously
proper, but rewarded the dismissed minister with an annual pension of
twelve thousand rubles ($9,000).

During this short interval of peace Alexander was raising an army of
five hundred thousand men, to extend and consolidate his dominions on
the side of Turkey. His frontiers there were dimly defined, and his
authority but feebly exerted. He pushed his armies into Georgia and
took firm possession of that vast province extending between the Black
Sea and the Caspian, and embracing some eighteen thousand square
miles. At the same time the blasts of his bugles were heard
reverberating through the defiles of the Balkan, and his fortresses
were reared and his banners planted there. The monarchs of Russia, for
many generations, had fixed a wistful eye upon Constantinople, but no
one had coveted the possession of that important city so intensely as
now did Alexander. "Constantinople," said he often, "is the key of my

The arrest of the Duke d'Enghien, in the territory of the Duke of
Baden, and his execution as a traitor for being in arms against his
own country, excited the indignation of Alexander. Napoleon,
immediately after the arrest, had made an apology to the Duke of Baden
for the violation of a neutral territory, and this apology was
accepted by the duke as satisfactory. Nevertheless, Alexander through
his embassador, sent the following message to the court of the First

"The Emperor Alexander, as mediator and guarantee of the continental
peace, has notified the States of the German empire that he considers
the action of the First Consul as endangering their safety and
independence, and that he does not doubt that the First Consul will
take prompt measures to reassure those governments by giving
satisfactory explanations."

Napoleon regarded this interference of Alexander as impertinent, and
caused his minister to reply,

"What would Alexander have said if the First Consul had imperiously
demanded explanations respecting the murder of Paul I., and had
pretended to constitute himself an avenger? How is it, that when the
sovereign of the territory, which it is said has been violated, makes
no complaint; when all the princes, his neighbors and his allies, are
silent--how is it that the Emperor of Russia, least of all interested
in the affair, raises his voice alone? Does it not arise from
complicity with England, that machinator of conspiracies against the
power and the life of the First Consul? Is not Russia engaged in
similar conspiracies at Rome, at Dresden and at Paris? If Russia
desires war, why does she not frankly say so, instead of endeavoring
to secure that end indirectly?"

In May of 1804, Napoleon assumed the imperial title. Alexander,
denying the right of the people to elect their own sovereign, refused
to recognize the empire. Hence increasing irritation arose. England,
trembling in view of the camp at Boulogne, roused all her energies to
rally Europe to strike France in the rear. In this effort she was
signally successful. Russia, Sweden, Austria, Turkey and Rome, were
engaged in vigorous coöperation with England against France. Holland,
Switzerland and Bavaria ranged themselves on the side of Napoleon.

On the 8th of September, 1805, the armies of Austria and Russia were
on the march for France, and the Austrian troops, in overwhelming
numbers, invaded Bavaria. Napoleon was prepared for the blow. The camp
at Boulogne was broken up, and his troops were instantly on the march
towards the Rhine. In the marvelous campaign of Ulm the Austrian army
was crushed, almost annihilated, and the victorious battalions of
Napoleon marched resistlessly to Vienna. Alexander, with a vast army,
was hurrying forward, by forced marches, to assist his Austrian ally.
At Olmutz he met the Emperor of Austria on the retreat with thirty
thousand men, the wreck of that magnificent army with which he had
commenced his march upon France. Here the two armies formed a
junction--seventy thousand Russians receiving into their ranks thirty
thousand Austrians. The two emperors, Alexander and Francis, rode at
the head of this formidable force.

On the 1st of December, Napoleon, leading an army of seventy thousand
men, encountered these, his combined foes, on the plains of
Austerlitz. "To-morrow," said he, "before nightfall, that army shall
be mine!" A day of carnage, such as war has seldom seen, ensued. From
an eminence the Emperors of Russia and Austria witnessed the
destruction of their hosts. No language can describe the tumult which
pervaded the ranks of the retreating foe. The Russians, wild with
dismay, rent the skies with their barbaric shouts, and wreaked their
vengeance upon all the helpless villages they encountered in their

Francis, the Emperor of Austria, utterly ruined, sought an interview
with his conqueror, and implored peace. Napoleon, as ever, was
magnanimous, and was eager to sheathe the sword which he had only
drawn in self-defense. Francis endeavored to throw the blame of the
war upon England.

"The English," said he, "are a nation of merchants. To secure for
themselves the commerce of the world they are willing to set the
continent in flames!"

The Austrian monarch, having obtained very favorable terms for
himself, interceded for Alexander. "The Russian army," Napoleon
replied, "is surrounded. Not a man can escape me. If, however, your
majesty will promise me that Alexander shall immediately return to
Russia, I will stop the advance of my columns."

The pledge was given, and Napoleon then sent General Savary to the
head-quarters of Alexander, to inquire if he would ratify the

"I am happy to see you," said the emperor to the envoy. "The occasion
has been very glorious for your arms. That day will take nothing from
the reputation your master has earned in so many battles. It was my
first engagement. I confess that the rapidity of his maneuvers gave me
no time to succor the menaced points. Everywhere you were at least
double the number of our forces."

"Sire," Savary replied, "our force was twenty-five thousand less than
yours. And even of that the whole was not very warmly engaged. But we
maneuvered much, and the same division combated at several different
points. Therein lies the art of war. The emperor, who has seen forty
pitched battles, is never wanting in that particular. He is still
ready to march against the Archduke Charles, if your majesty does not
accept the armistice."

"What guarantee does your master require," continued Alexander, "and
what security can I have that your troops will not prosecute their
movements against me?"

"He asks only your word of honor," Savary replied. "He has instructed
me the moment it is given to suspend the pursuit."

"I give it with pleasure," rejoined the emperor, "and should it ever
be your fortune to visit St. Petersburg, I hope that I may be able to
render my capital agreeable to you."

Hostilities immediately ceased, and the broken columns of the Russian
troops returned to their homes. The Austro-Russian army, in the
disastrous day of Austerlitz, lost in killed, wounded and prisoners,
over forty thousand men. It is stated that Alexander, when flying from
the bloody field with his discomfited troops, his path being strewed
with the wounded and the dead, posted placards along the route, with
the inscription,

"I commend my unfortunate soldiers to the generosity of the Emperor

Alexander, young and ambitions, was very much chagrined by this utter
discomfiture. Austerlitz was his first battle; and instead of covering
him with renown it had overwhelmed him with disgrace. He was anxious
for an opportunity to wipe away the stain. A new coalition was soon
formed against France, consisting of England, Russia, Prussia and
Sweden. Alexander eagerly entered into this coalition, hoping for an
opportunity to acquire that military fame which, in this lost world,
has been ever deemed so essential to the reputation of a sovereign.
The remonstrance of Napoleon, with Russia, was noble and unanswerable.

"Why," said he, "should hostilities arise between France and Russia?
Perfectly independent of each other, they are impotent to inflict
evil, but all-powerful to communicate benefits. If the Emperor of
France exercises a great influence in Italy, the tzar exerts a still
greater influence over Turkey and Persia. If the cabinet of Russia
pretends to have a right to affix limits to the power of France,
without doubt it is equally disposed to allow the Emperor of the
French to prescribe the bounds beyond which Russia is not to pass.
Russia has partitioned Poland. Can she then complain that France
possesses Belgium and the left banks of the Rhine? Russia has seized
upon the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the northern provinces of Persia.
Can she deny that the right of self-preservation gives France a right
to demand an equivalent in Europe?

"Let every power begin by restoring the conquests which it has made
during the last fifty years. Let them reëstablish Poland, restore
Venice to its senate, Trinidad to Spain, Ceylon to Holland, the Crimea
to the Porte, the Caucasus and Georgia to Persia, the kingdom of
Mysore to the sons of Tippoo Saib, and the Mahratta States to their
lawful owners; and then the other powers may have some title to insist
that France shall retire within her ancient limits. It is the fashion
to speak of the ambition of France. Had she chosen to preserve her
conquests, the half of Austria, the Venetian States, the States of
Holland and Switzerland and the kingdom of Naples would have been in
her possession. The limits of France are, in reality, the Adige and
the Rhine. Has it passed either of these limits? Had it fixed on the
Solza and the Drave, it would not have exceeded the bounds of its

In September, 1806, the Prussian army, two hundred thousand strong,
commenced their march for the invasion of France. Alexander had also
marshaled his barbarian legions and was eagerly following, with two
hundred thousand of the most highly disciplined Russian troops in his
train. Napoleon contemplated with sorrow the rising of this new storm
of war and woe; but with characteristic vigor he prepared to meet it.
As he left Paris for the campaign, in a parting message to the senate
he said,

"In so just a war, which we have not provoked by any act, by any
pretense, the true cause of which it would be impossible to assign,
and where we only take arms to defend ourselves, we depend entirely
upon the support of the laws, and upon that of the people whom
circumstances call upon to give fresh proofs of their devotion and

In the battle of Jena, which took place on the 14th of October, the
Prussian army was nearly annihilated, leaving in a few hours more than
forty thousand men in killed, wounded and prisoners. In less than a
month the conquest of entire Prussia was achieved, and Napoleon was
pursuing Frederic William, who, with the wreck of the Prussian army
was hastening to take refuge in the bosom of the Russian hosts which
were approaching. December had now come with its icy blasts, and
Napoleon, leading his victorious troops to the banks of the Vistula,
more than a thousand miles from France, established them in winter
quarters, waiting until spring for the renewal of the campaign.

Alexander, terrified by the destruction of his Prussian allies, halted
his troops upon the other side of the Vistula, and from his vast
realms collected recruits. For a few weeks the storms of winter
secured a tacit armistice.

In February, 1807, Alexander assumed the offensive and endeavored to
surprise Napoleon in his encampment. But Napoleon was on the alert. A
series of terrific battles ensued, in which the French were invariably
the victors. The retreating Russians, hotly pursued, at last rallied
on the field of Eylau. Napoleon had already driven them two hundred
and forty miles from his encampment on the Vistula.

"It was the 7th of February, 1807. The night was dark and intensely
cold as the Russians, exhausted by the retreat of the day, took their
positions for the desperate battle of the morrow. There was a gentle
swell of land extending two or three miles, which skirted a vast,
bleak, unsheltered plain, over which the wintry gale drifted the snow.
Upon this ridge the Russians in double lines formed themselves in
battle array. Five hundred pieces of cannon were ranged in battery, to
hurl destruction into the bosoms of their foes. They then threw
themselves upon the icy ground for their frigid bivouac. A fierce
storm had already risen, which spread over the sleeping host its
mantle of snow."

Napoleon came also upon the field, in the darkness of the night and of
the storm, and placed his army in position for the battle which the
dawn would usher in. Two hundred pieces of artillery were planted to
reply to the Russian batteries. There were eighty thousand Russians on
the ridge, sixty thousand Frenchmen on the plain, and separated by a
distance of less than half a cannon shot. The sentinels of either army
could almost touch each other with their muskets.

The morning had not yet dawned when the cannonade commenced. The earth
shook beneath its roar. A storm of snow at the same time swept over
the plain blinding and smothering assailants and assailed. The smoke
of the battle blended with the storm had spread over the contending
hosts a sulphurous canopy black as midnight. Even the flash of the
guns could hardly be discerned through the gloom. All the day long,
and until ten o'clock at night, the battle raged with undiminished
fury. One half of the Russian army was now destroyed, and the
remainder, unable longer to endure the conflict, sullenly retreated.
Napoleon remained master of the field, which exhibited such a scene of
misery as had never before met even his eye. When congratulated upon
his victory by one of his officers he replied sadly,

"To a father who loses his children, victory has no charms. When the
heart speaks, glory itself is an illusion."



From 1807 to 1825.

The Field of Eylau.--Letter to the King of Prussia.--Renewal of the
War--Discomfiture of the Allies.--Battle of Friedland.--The Raft at
Tilsit.--Intimacy of the Emperors.--Alexander's Designs upon
Turkey.--Alliance between France and Russia.--Object of the
Continental System.--Perplexities of Alexander.--Driven by the Nobles
to War.--Results of the Russian Campaign.--Napoleon Vanquished.--Last
Days of Alexander.--His Sickness and Death.

From the field of Eylau, the Russians and Prussians retreated to the
Niemen. Napoleon remained some days upon the field to nurse the
wounded, and, anxious for peace, wrote to the King of Prussia in the
following terms:

"I desire to put a period to the misfortunes of your family, and to
organize, as speedily as possible, the Prussian monarchy. I desire
peace with Russia, and, provided that the cabinet of St. Petersburg
has no designs upon the Turkish empire, I see no difficulty in
obtaining it. I have no hesitation in sending a minister to Memil to
take part in a congress of France, England, Sweden, Russia, Prussia
and Turkey. But as such a congress may last many years, which would
not suit the present condition of Prussia, your majesty will, I am
persuaded, be of the opinion that I have taken the simplest method,
and one which is most likely to secure the prosperity of your
subjects. At all events I entreat your majesty to believe in my
sincere desire to reëstablish amicable relations with so friendly a
power as Prussia, and that I wish to do the same with Russia and

These advances were haughtily rejected by both Prussia and Russia;
and Napoleon returned to the Vistula to wait until the opening of
spring, when the question was again to be referred to the arbitrament
of battle. Both parties made vigorous preparations for the strife.
Alexander succeeded in gathering around him one hundred and forty
thousand soldiers. But Napoleon had assembled one hundred and sixty
thousand whom he could rapidly concentrate upon any point between the
Vistula and the Niemen.

In June the storm of war commenced with an assault by the allies.
Field after field was red with blood as the hosts of France drove
their vanquished foes before them. On the 10th of June, Alexander,
with Frederic William riding by his side, had concentrated ninety
thousand men upon the plains of Friedland, on the banks of the Aller.
Here the Russians were compelled to make a final stand and await a
decisive conflict. As Napoleon rode upon a height and surveyed his
foes, caught in an elbow of the river, he said energetically, "We have
not a moment to lose. One does not twice catch an enemy in such a
trap." He immediately communicated to his aides his plan of attack.
Grasping the arm of Ney, he pointed to the dense masses of the
Russians clustered before the town of Friedland, and said,

"Yonder is the goal. March to it without looking about you. Break into
that thick mass whatever it costs. Enter Friedland; take the bridges
and give yourself no concern about what may happen on your right, your
left or your rear. The army and I shall be there to attend to that."

The whole French line now simultaneously advanced. It was one of the
most sublime and awful of the spectacles of war. For a few hours there
was the gleam and the roar of war's most terrific tempest and the
Russian army was destroyed. A frightful spectacle of ruin was
exhibited. The shattered bands rushed in dismay into the stream, where
thousands were swept away by the current, while a storm of bullets
from the French batteries swept the river, and the water ran red with
blood. It was in vain for Alexander to make any further assaults. In
ten days Napoleon had taken one hundred and twenty pieces of cannon,
and had killed, wounded or taken prisoners, sixty thousand Russians.

Alexander now implored peace. It was all that Napoleon desired. The
Niemen alone now separated the victorious French and the routed
Russians. A raft was moored in the middle of the stream upon which a
tent was erected with magnificent decorations, and here the two young
emperors met to arrange the terms of peace. Alexander, like Francis of
Austria, endeavored to throw the blame of the war upon England. Almost
his first words to Napoleon were,

"I hate the English as much as you do. I am ready to second you in all
your enterprises against them."

"In that case," Napoleon replied, "every thing will be easily arranged
and peace is already made."

The interview lasted two hours, and Alexander was fascinated by the
genius of Napoleon. "Never," he afterwards said, "did I love any man
as I loved that man." Alexander was then but thirty years of age, and
apparently he became inspired with an enthusiastic admiration of
Napoleon which had never been surpassed. At the close of the
interview, he crossed to the French side of the river, and took up his
residence with Napoleon at Tilsit. Every day they rode side by side,
dined together, and passed almost every hour in confiding
conversation. It was Napoleon's great object to withdraw Alexander
from the English alliance. In these long interviews the fate of Turkey
was a continual topic of conversation. Alexander was ready to make
almost any concession if Napoleon would consent that Russia should
take Constantinople. But Napoleon was irreconcilably opposed to this.
It was investing Russia with too formidable power. He was willing that
the emperor should take the provinces on the Danube, but could not
consent that he should pass the Balkan and annex the proud city of
Constantine to his realms.

One day when the two emperors were closeted together with the map of
Europe spread out before them, Napoleon placed his finger upon
Constantinople, and was overheard by Meneval to say, with great
earnestness, "Constantinople! never! It is the empire of the world."

"All the Emperor Alexander's thoughts," said Napoleon at St. Helena,
"are directed to the conquest of Turkey. We have had many discussions
about it. At first I was pleased with his proposals, because I thought
it would enlighten the world to drive these brutes out of Egypt. But
when I reflected upon its consequences and saw what a tremendous
weight of power it would give to Russia, on account of the number of
Greeks in the Turkish dominions who would naturally join the Russians,
I refused to consent to it, especially as Alexander wanted to get
Constantinople, which I would not allow, as it would destroy the
equilibrium of power in Europe."

For three weeks the emperors remained together at Tilsit, and then
they separated devoted friends. Turkey had for some time been disposed
to regard France as its protector against the encroachments of Russia,
and was disposed to enter into friendly alliance. By the treaty of
Tilsit, Russia consented to make peace with Turkey, and also to exert
all her influence to promote peace between France and England. The
efforts of Alexander not being successful in this respect, he broke
off his connection with Great Britain, and became still more
intimately allied with France. The British ambassador, Lord Gower, was
informed that his presence was no longer desired at St. Petersburg.
The second bombardment of Copenhagen, and the seizure of the Danish
fleet gave occasion for Alexander to declare war against England. The
war, however, which ensued between the two countries, amounted chiefly
to a cessation of trade. England, protected by her fleet, was
invulnerable; and Napoleon and Alexander both agreed that the only
possible way of compelling England to assent to peace, was to shut
her out from commerce with the rest of Europe. This was the origin of
the famous continental system, by which it was endeavored to force the
belligerent islanders to peace by cutting off their trade.

Alexander called upon Sweden to unite in this confederacy against
England. The Swedes declined. Alexander overran the whole of Finland
with his troops, and in 1809 it was permanently annexed to the Russian
empire. Just before this event, in September, 1808, Napoleon and
Alexander held another interview at Erfurth. The loss of British
commerce was almost as great a calamity to Russia as to England, and
the Russian people murmured loudly. England wished to arrest the
progress of democratic ideas in France by restoring the rejected
Bourbons to the throne. In these views the nobles of Russia
sympathized cordially, and they were exasperated that Alexander should
allow personal friendship for Napoleon to interfere with the commerce
of their country, and with the maintenance of aristocratic privilege
in Europe. The Russian nobles had nothing to gain by the establishment
of free institutions in France, and the discontent with the measures
of Alexander became so general and so loudly expressed that he began
to waver.

The only hope of Napoleon was in combining Europe in a league which
should starve England into peace. He watched the vacillating spirit of
Alexander with alarm, and arranged the interview at Erfurth that he
might strengthen him in his friendly purposes. Alexander was by the
most solemn pledges bound to be faithful to this alliance. He had
attacked Napoleon and had been conquered; and the southern provinces
of Russia were at the mercy of the conqueror. Under these
circumstances the treaty of Tilsit was made, in which Alexander, in
consideration of benefits received, agreed to coöperate with Napoleon
in that continental system which seemed vital to the safety of France.
Napoleon was well aware of the immense pressure which was brought to
bear upon the mind of the Russian tzar to induce him to swerve from
his agreement. Hence the conference at Erfurth. During the
deliberations at Erfurth it appears that Alexander consented that
Napoleon should place the crown of Spain upon the brow of his brother
Joseph, in consideration of Napoleon consenting that Russia should
take possession of the two Turkish provinces of Moldavia and
Wallachia. And again the most strenuous efforts were made by the
united emperors to induce inflexible England to sheathe the sword. All
the nations on the continent were at peace. England alone was
prosecuting the war. But the English aristocracy felt that they could
not remain firm in their possessions while principles of democratic
freedom were dominant in France. The fundamental principle of the
government of the empire was honor to _merit_, not to _birth_. The two
emperors wrote as follows to the King of England, imploring peace:

"Sire--The present situation of Europe has brought us together at
Erfurth. Our first wish is to fulfill the desire of all nations, and,
by a speedy pacification with your majesty to take the most effectual
means of relieving the sufferings of Europe. The long and bloody war
which has convulsed the continent is at an end, and can not be
renewed. Many changes have taken place in Europe; many governments
have been destroyed. The cause is to be found in the uneasiness and
the sufferings occasioned by the stagnation of maritime commerce.
Greater changes still may take place, and all will be unfavorable to
the politics of England. Peace, therefore, is at the same time the
common cause of the nations of the continent and of Great Britain. We
unite in requesting your majesty to lend an ear to the voice of
humanity, to suppress that of the passions, to reconcile contending
interests, and to secure the welfare of Europe and of the generations
over which Providence has placed us."

The only notice taken of this letter was in a communication to the
ministers of France and Russia, in which it was stated that the
"English ministers could not reply to the two sovereigns, since one of
them was not recognized by England." A new coalition was soon formed,
and Austria commenced another march upon France, which led to the
campaign of Wagram, in which Austria was humbled as never before.
Austria was now compelled, in conjunction with France and Russia, and
most of the other European powers, to take part in the continental
blockade. Alexander, shackled by his nobles, had not been able to
render Napoleon the assistance he had promised in this war. Loud
murmurs and threats of assassination were rising around him, and
instead of rigorously enforcing the exclusion of English goods, he
allowed them to be smuggled into the country. This was ruinous to
Napoleon's system. Remonstrances and recriminations ensued. At length
English goods were freely introduced, provided they entered under
American colors. Napoleon, to put a stop to this smuggling, which the
local authorities pretended they could not prevent, seized several of
the principal ports of northern Germany, and incorporated the
possessions of the Duke of Oldenburg, a near relative of Alexander,
with France.[30]

[Footnote 30: Colonel Napier, in his "Peninsular War," very justly
observes, "The real principle of Napoleon's government, and secret of
his popularity, made him the people's monarch, not the sovereign of
the aristocracy. Hence Mr. Pitt called him 'the child and the champion
of democracy,' a truth as evident as that Mr. Pitt and his successors
'were the children and the champions of aristocracy.' Hence also the
_privileged_ classes of Europe consistently turned their natural and
implacable hatred of the French Revolution to his person; for they saw
that in him innovation had found a protector; that he alone, having
given preëminence to a system so hateful to them, was really what he
called himself, _The State_. The treaty of Tilsit, therefore, although
it placed Napoleon in a commanding situation with regard to the
potentates of Europe, unmasked the real nature of the war, and brought
him and England, the respective champions of Equality and Privilege,
into more direct contact. Peace could not be between them while they
were both strong, and all that the French emperor had hitherto gained
only enabled him to choose his field of battle."]

These measures increased the alienation between France and Austria.
In the mean time Alexander was waging war with Turkey, and was pushing
his conquests rapidly on towards the city of Constantine. These
encroachments France contemplated with alarm. By the peace of
Bucharest, signed May 28th, 1812, the whole of Bessarabia was annexed
to Russia, and the limits of the empire were extended from the Dnieper
to the Pruth. The Russian nobles were all eager to join the European
aristocracy in a war against democratic France, and it was now evident
that soon a collision must take place between the cabinet of the
Tuileries and that of St. Petersburg. It was almost impossible for
Alexander to resist the pressure which urged him to open his ports to
the English. The closing of those ports was Napoleon's only hope of
compelling England to sheathe the sword. Hence war became a fatality.

Russia, in anticipation of a rupture, began to arm, and ordered a levy
of four men out of every hundred. In preparation for war she made
peace with Persia and Turkey, and entered into an alliance with
Sweden. England was highly gratified by this change, and was soon on
most friendly terms with the Russian cabinet. A treaty was speedily
formed by England, with both Russia and Sweden, by which these latter
powers agreed to open their ports for free commercial relations with
England, and they entered into an alliance offensive and defensive
with that power. As England was still in arms against France, this was
virtually a declaration of war. This violation also of the treaty of
Tilsit was the utter ruin of Napoleon's plans. To compel Russia to
return to the continental system, Napoleon prepared for that Russian
campaign which is one of the most awful tragedies of history. The
world is so full of the narratives of that sublime drama, that the
story need not be repeated here. It is just to say that Napoleon
exhausted all the arts of diplomacy to accomplish his purpose before
he put his armies in motion.

The Emperor Alexander followed the French in their retreat from
Moscow, and with all the powers of Europe allied, crossed the Rhine,
and on the 31st of March, 1814, at the head of an allied army of half
a million of men entered Paris a conqueror. His sympathies were warmly
enlisted in behalf of his fallen friend Napoleon. In the negotiations
which ensued he exerted himself strongly in his favor. It was only by
assuming the most energetic attitude against England, Austria and
Prussia, that he succeeded in obtaining for Napoleon the sovereignty
of Elba. Alexander was very magnanimous, but his voice was lost in the
clamor of the sovereigns who surrounded him.

Napoleon retired to Elba. The Bourbons reascended the throne of
France. Alexander, with the King of Prussia, visited England, where he
was received with great distinction. Returning to Russia he devoted
himself to the welfare of his kingdom in the vain attempt to reconcile
popular progress with political despotism. Alexander was evidently
saddened by the fate of Napoleon, and on his return to St. Petersburg
persistently refused to accept the public rejoicings which were
proffered him.

Napoleon escaped from Elba, where the influence of Alexander had
placed him, and again was on the throne of France. Alexander hesitated
whether again to march against him. He yielded, however, to the
solicitations of his associated sovereigns, and at the head of an army
of one hundred and sixty thousand men, was again on the march for
Paris. He was apprehensive that the dismemberment of the French
empire, which was contemplated, might render Austria and Prussia too
powerful for the repose of Europe. Upon the second capitulation of
Paris, after the battle of Waterloo, Alexander insisted that France
should at least retain the limits she had in 1790. Upon this basis the
new treaty was concluded.

It is an interesting fact that the celebrated Juliana, Baroness of
Krudoner, was mainly instrumental in the organization of the Holy
Alliance, which was at this time formed. She had wealth, wit and
beauty, and had been supremely devoted to pleasure, shining among the
most brilliant ornaments of St. Petersburg, Paris and Vienna. Weary of
a life of gayety, she seems to have turned to religion and to have
become a devout and earnest Christian. Her enthusiasm was roused with
the idea of putting a stop to war, and of truly Christianizing Europe.
She hastened to Paris, when the allied sovereigns were there, and
obtained an interview with the Russian tzar. Alexander was by nature
of a devotional turn of mind, and the terrific scenes through which he
had passed had given him a meditative and pensive spirit. He listened
eagerly to the suggestions of Madame Krudoner, and, aided by her,
sketched as follows the plan of the Holy Alliance:

"In the name of the sacred and invisible Trinity, their majesties, the
Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia,
considering the momentous events which have occured in Europe during
the last three years, and especially the blessing which it has pleased
Providence to confer on those States which trust in him, and being
fully convinced of the necessity of taking, as the rule of life, in
all their affairs, the sublime truths which the holy religion of our
Saviour teaches us,

"Declare solemnly that the present act has no other object than to
proclaim to the whole world their unalterable resolution to take, as
their only guide, both in the internal administration of their
respective States, and in their political relations with other
governments, those principles of justice, Christian charity and peace,
which, far from being exclusively applicable to private individuals,
should have an immediate influence upon the counsels of princes, and
should regulate all their measures, as being the only means of
consolidating human institutions and remedying their imperfections.
Consequently their majesties have agreed upon the following

"Article I. In conformity with the declaration of the holy
Scriptures, which command all men to regard each other as brothers,
the three contracting monarchs will remain united to each other by the
ties of sincere and indissoluble fraternity. Regarding themselves as
private individuals, they will render each other, at all times, and in
all places, aid and assistance; and considering themselves, in respect
to their people and armies, as fathers of families, they will rule in
the same spirit of fraternity, that religion, peace and justice may be

"Article II. Also the only obligation of rigor, whether it be between
these governments or their subjects, shall consist in rendering each
other all sorts of service, and of testifying towards each other that
unalterable benevolence and that mutual affection which shall lead
them to guard one another as members of one and the same Christian
family. The three allied princes, regarding themselves as delegated by
Providence to govern three branches of this family, Austria, Prussia
and Russia, recognize that the Christian world, of which they and
their people compose a part, can have, in reality, no other sovereign
than him to whom belongs all power, because in him alone are the
treasures of love, of science and of infinite wisdom--that is to say,
God, our divine Saviour, the word of the Most High, the word of life.
Consequently their majesties recommend to their people, with the
greatest solicitude, and as the only means of enjoying that peace
which springs from a good conscience, and which alone is durable, to
strengthen themselves daily more and more in the exercise of those
duties taught to the human family by the divine Saviour.

"Article III. All the powers who believe that they ought solemnly to
profess the principles which have dictated this act, and who recognize
how important it is for the welfare of nations, too long agitated,
that these truths should hereafter exercise over the destinies of the
human family that influence which they ought to exert, shall be
received, with the same ardor and affection, into this Holy Alliance.
Done at Paris, in the year of our Lord, 1814, September 25, and
signed, Francis, Frederic William and Alexander."

Such was the bond of the Holy Alliance. It was drawn up in the
hand-writing of Alexander. Subsequently it was signed by the Kings of
England and France, and by nearly all the sovereigns of Europe. The
pope declined signing, as it was not consistent with his dignity to be
a member of a confederacy of which he was not the head. These
principles, apparently so true and salutary, became vitiated by the
underlying of principles which gave them all their force. The alliance
became in reality a conspiracy of the crowned heads of Europe against
the liberties of their subjects; and thus despotism sat enthroned. The
liberal spirit, which was then breaking out all over the continent of
Europe, was thus, for a time, effectually crushed. It can hardly be
supposed that Alexander intended the Holy Alliance to accomplish the
work which it subsequently performed.

Alexander, on his return to Russia, devoted himself energetically to
the government of his vast realms, taking long and fatiguing journeys,
and manifesting much interest in the elevation of the serfs to
freedom. The latter years of Alexander were clouded with sorrow. He
was not on good terms with his wife, and the death of all his children
rendered his home desolate. His health failed and some deep grief
seemed ever to prey upon his spirits. It is supposed that the
melancholy fate of Napoleon, dying in a hut at St. Helena, and of whom
he had said, "Never did I love a man as I have loved that man!"
weighed heavily upon him. He was constantly haunted by fears of a
rising of the oppressed people, and to repel that danger was becoming
continually more despotic.

In the year 1825, Alexander, sick, anxious and melancholy, took a long
journey, with his wife, to Tanganroy, a small town upon the Sea of
Azof, fifteen hundred miles from St. Petersburg. He had for some time
looked forward with dread to his appearance before the bar of God. A
sense of sin oppressed him, and he had long sought relief with prayers
and tears. His despondency led him to many forebodings that he should
not live to return from this journey.

The morning before he left St. Petersburg, at the early hour of four
o'clock, he visited the monastery where the remains of his children
were entombed, and at their grave spent some time in prayer. Wrapped
in his cloak, in unbroken silence he listened to the "chant for the
dead," and then commenced his journey. No peasant whom he met on the
way had a heavier heart than throbbed in the bosom of the sovereign.
For hours he sat in the carriage with the empress, with whom in grief
he had become reconciled, and hardly a word was uttered. At length
they arrived upon the shores of Azof. The emperor took a rapid tour
through these provinces, visiting among other places Sevastopol, which
he had long been fortifying. He was so much struck with the
magnificence of this place that he remarked, "Should I ever resign the
reins of government, I should wish to retire to this city, that I
might here terminate my career!"

Returning to his wife at Tanganroy, he was seized with a fever,
probably caused by care and toil. The disease was so rapid in its
progress as to lead many to suppose that he was falling a victim to
poison. On the approach of death, perceiving that he was dying, he
requested that he might be raised upon his pillow, that he might once
more behold the light of the sun. He simply remarked, "How beautiful
is the day!" and fell back upon his pillow to die. The empress was
weeping by his side. He took her hand, pressed it tenderly as if
bidding her an eternal adieu, and died. It was the 1st of December,

The empress Elizabeth in this sad hour forgot all her wrongs; for the
emperor had by no means been to her a faithful husband. She wrote to
her friends, "Our angel is in heaven; and, as for me, I still linger
on earth: but I hope soon to be reunited with him in the skies!"

The cry immediately resounded through Europe that Alexander had fallen
by poison. As the emperor had no children living, the crown, by
hereditary descent, passed to his next brother, Constantine. Alexander
had long been conscious that Constantine did not possess suitable
qualifications to govern, and Constantine himself, frivolous and
pleasure-loving, was not at all emulous of imperial power. When a mere
boy he had been married to a German princess, but fifteen years of
age. They endured each other through the angry strifes of four years
and then separated. Constantine became enamored of the daughter of a
Polish count, and sought a divorce. Alexander consented to this
arrangement on condition that Constantine would resign all right to
the throne. The terms were gladly accepted, and Constantine signed the
following renunciation, which was kept secret until the occasion
should arise for it to be promulgated.

"Conscious that I do not possess the genius, the talents or the
strength necessary to fit me for the dignity of a sovereign, to which
my birth would give me a right, I entreat your imperial majesty to
transfer that right to him to whom it belongs after me, and thus
assure for ever the stability of the empire. As to myself, I shall
add, by this renunciation, a new guarantee and a new force to the
engagements which I spontaneously and solemnly contracted on the
occasion of my divorce from my first wife. All the circumstances in
which I find myself strengthen my determination to adhere to this
resolution, which will prove to the empire and to the whole world the
sincerity of my sentiments."

Another document had also been prepared which declared Alexander's
second brother, Nicholas, heir to the empire. Napoleon, at St. Helena,
speaking of the King of Prussia and of Alexander, said,

"Frederic William, as a private character, is an honorable, good and
worthy man, but in his political capacity he is naturally disposed to
yield to necessity. He is always commanded by whoever has power on his
side, and is about to strike.

"As to the Emperor of Russia, he is a man infinitely superior to
Frederic William or Francis. He possesses wit, grace, information, and
is fascinating, but he is not to be trusted. He is devoid of candor, a
true _Greek of the Lower Empire_. At the same time he is not without
ideology, real or assumed; after all it may only be a smattering,
derived from his education and his preceptor. Would you believe what I
had to discuss with him? He maintained that _inheritance_ was an abuse
in monarchy, and I had to spend more than an hour, and employ all my
eloquence and logic in proving to him that this right constituted the
peace and happiness of the people. It may be too that he was
mystifying, for he is cunning, false, adroit and hypocritical. I
repeat it, he is a Greek of the Lower Empire.

"If I die here he will be my real heir in Europe. I alone was able to
stop him with his deluge of Tartars. The crisis is great, and will
have lasting effects upon the continent of Europe, especially upon
Constantinople. He was solicitous with me for the possession of it. I
have had much coaxing upon this subject, but I constantly turned a
deaf ear to it. The Turkish empire, shattered as it appeared, would
constantly have remained a point of separation between us. It was the
marsh which prevented my right from being turned.

"As to Greece it is another matter. Greece awaits a liberator. There
will be a brilliant crown of glory. He will inscribe his name for ever
with those of Homer, Plato and Epaminondas. I perhaps was not far from
it. When, during my campaign in Italy, I arrived on the shores of the
Adriatic, I wrote to the Directory, that I had before my eyes the
kingdom of Alexander. Still later I entered into engagements with Ali
Pacha; and when Corfu was taken, they must have found there
ammunition, and a complete equipment for an army of forty or fifty
thousand men. I had caused maps to be made of Macedonia, Servia,
Albania. Greece, the Peloponnesus at least, must be the lot of the
European power which shall possess Egypt. It should be ours; and then
an independent kingdom in the north, Constantinople, with its
provinces, to serve as a barrier to the power of Russia, as they have
pretended to do with respect to France, by creating the kingdom of



From 1825 to 1855.

Abdication of Constantine.--Accession of Nicholas.--Insurrection
Quelled.--Nicholas and the Conspirator.--Anecdote.--The Palace of
Peterhoff.--The Winter Palace.--Presentation at Court.--Magnitude of
Russia.--Description of the Hellespont and the Dardanelles.--The
Turkish Invasion.--Aims of Russia.--Views of England and France.--Wars
of Nicholas.--The Polish Insurrection.--War of the Crimea.--Jealousies
of the Leading Nations.--Encroachments.--Death of Nicholas.--Accession
of Alexander II.

Constantine was at Warsaw when the news arrived of the death of his
brother. The mother of Alexander was still living. Even Nicholas
either affected not to know, or did not know, that his wild, eccentric
brother Constantine had renounced the throne in his favor, for he
immediately, upon the news of the death of Alexander, summoned the
imperial guard into the palace chapel, and, with them, took the oath
of allegiance to his older brother, the Grand Duke Constantine. On his
return, his mother, who is represented as being quite frantic in her
inconsolable grief, exclaimed,

"Nicholas, what have you done? Do you not know that there is a
document which names you presumptive heir?"

"If there be one," Nicholas replied, "I do not know it, neither does
any one else. But this we all know, that our legitimate sovereign,
after Alexander, is my brother Constantine. We have therefore done our
duty, come what may."

Nicholas was persistent in his resolution not to take the crown until
he received from his brother a confirmation of his renunciation of the
throne. Three weeks elapsed before this intelligence arrived. It then
came full and decisive, and Nicholas no longer hesitated, though the
interval had revealed to him that fearful dangers were impending. He
was informed by several of his generals that a wide-spread conspiracy
extended throughout the army in favor of a constitutional government.
Many of the officers and soldiers, in their wars against Napoleon and
in their invasion of France, had become acquainted with those
principles of popular liberty which were diffused throughout France,
and which it was the object of the allies to crush. Upon their return
to Russia, the utter despotism of the tzar seemed more than ever
hateful to them. Several conspiracies had been organized for his
assassination, and now the plan was formed to assassinate the whole
imperial family, and introduce a republic.

Nicholas was seriously alarmed by the danger which threatened, though
he was fully conscious that his only safety was to be found in courage
and energy. He accordingly made preparation for the administration of
the oath of allegiance to the army. "I shall soon," said he, "be an
emperor or a corpse." On the morning when the oath was to be
administered, and when it was evident that the insurrection would
break out, he said, "If I am emperor only for an hour, I will show
that I am worthy of it."

The morning of the 25th of December dawned upon St. Petersburg in
tumult. Bands of soldiers were parading the streets shouting,
"Constantine for ever." The insurrection had assumed the most
formidable aspect, for many who were not republicans, were led to
believe that Nicholas was attempting to usurp the crown which, of
right, belonged to Constantine. Two generals, who had attempted to
quell the movement, had already been massacred, and vast mobs, led by
the well-armed regiments, were, from all quarters of the city,
pressing toward the imperial palace. Nicholas, who was then
twenty-nine years of age, met the crisis with the energy of Napoleon.
Placing himself at the head of a small body of faithful guards, he
rode to encounter his rebellious subjects in the stern strife of war.
Instead of meeting a mob of unarmed men, he found marshaled against
him the best disciplined troops in his army.

A terrible conflict ensued, in which blood flowed in torrents. The
emperor, heading his own troops, exposed himself, equally with them,
to all perils. As soon as it was evident that he would be compelled to
fire upon his subjects, he sent word to his wife of the cruel
necessity. She was in the palace, surrounded by the most distinguished
ladies of the court, tremblingly awaiting the issue. When the thunder
of the artillery commenced in the streets, she threw herself upon her
knees, and, weeping bitterly, continued in prayer until she was
informed that the revolt was crushed, and that her husband was safe.
The number slain is not known. That it might be concealed, the bodies
were immediately thrust through holes cut in the ice of the Neva.

Though the friends of liberty can not but regret that free principles
have obtained so slender a foothold in Russia, it is manifest that
this attempt could lead only to anarchy. The masses of the nobles were
thoroughly corrupt, and the masses of the people ignorant and debased.
The Russian word for constitution, _constitutsya_, has a feminine
termination. Many of the people, it is reported, who were shouting,
"Constantine and the constitution for ever," thought that the
constitution was the wife of Constantine. It must be admitted that
such ignorance presents but a poor qualification for republican

At the close of this bloody day, one of the leading conspirators, a
general of high position in the army was led a captive into the
presence of Nicholas. The heroic republican met, without quailing, the
proud eye of his sovereign.

"Your father," said Nicholas sternly, "was a faithful servant, but he
has left behind him a degenerate son. For such an enterprise as yours
large resources were requisite. On what did you rely?"

"Sire," replied the prisoner, "matters of this kind can not be spoken
of before witnesses."

Nicholas led the conspirator into a private apartment, and for a long
time conversed with him alone. Here the tzar had opened before him, in
the clearest manner, the intolerable burdens of the people, the
oppression of the nobles, the impotency of the laws, the venality of
the judges, the corruption which pervaded all departments of the
government, legislative, executive and judiciary. The noble
conspirator, whose mind was illumined with those views of human rights
which, from the French Revolution, were radiating throughout Europe,
revealed all the corruptions of the State in the earnest and honest
language of a man who was making a dying declaration. Nicholas
listened to truths such as seldom reach the ears of a monarch; and
these truths probably produced a powerful impression upon him in his
subsequent career.

Many of the conspirators, in accordance with the barbaric code of
Russia, were punished with awful severity. Some were whipped to death.
Some were mutilated and exiled to Siberia, and many perished on the
scaffold. Fifteen officers of high rank were placed together beneath
the gibbet, with ropes around their necks. As the drop fell, the rope
of one broke, and he fell to the ground. Bruised and half stunned he
rose upon his knees, and looking sadly around exclaimed,

"Truly nothing ever succeeds with me, not even death."

Another rope was procured, and this unhappy man, whose words indicated
an entire life of disappointment and woe, was launched into the world
of spirits.

We have before spoken of the palace of Peterhoff, a few miles from St.
Petersburg, on the southern shores of the bay of Cronstadt. It is now
the St. Cloud of Russia, the favorite rural retreat of the Russian
tzars. This palace, which has been the slow growth of ages, consists
of a pile of buildings of every conceivable order of architecture. It
is furnished with all the appliances of luxury which Europe or Asia
can produce. The pleasure grounds, in their artistic embellishments,
are perhaps unsurpassed by any others in the world. Fountains, groves,
lawns, lakes, cascades and statues, bewilder and delight the

There is an annual fête on this ground in July, which assembles all
the elite of Russian society. The spacious gardens are by night
illuminated with almost inconceivable splendor. The whole forest
blazes with innumerable torches, and every leaf, twig and drop of
spray twinkles with colored lights. Here is that famous artificial
tree which has so often been described. It is so constructed with
root, trunk and branch, leaf and bud as to deceive the most practiced
eye. Its shade, with an inviting seat placed beneath it, lures the
loiterer, through these Eden groves, to approach and rest. The moment
he takes his seat he presses a spring which converts the tree into a
shower bath, and from every twig jets of water in a cloud of spray,
envelops the astonished stranger.

The Winter Palace at St. Petersburg is also a palace of unsurpassed
splendor. More than a thousand persons habitually dwell beneath the
imperial roof. No saloons more sumptuous in architecture and adornment
are probably to be found in the world; neither are the exactions of
court etiquette anywhere more punctiliously observed. In entering this
palace a massive gateway ushers one into a hall of magnificent
dimensions, so embellished with shrubs and flowers, multiplied by
mirrors, that the guest is deceived into the belief that he is
sauntering through the walks of a spacious flower garden. A flight of
marble stairs conducts to an apartment of princely splendor, called
the hall of the Marshals. Passing through this hall, one enters a
suite of rooms, apparently interminable, all of extraordinary grandeur
and sumptuousness, which are merely antechambers to the grand audience

In this grand saloon the emperor holds his court. Presentation day
exhibits one of the most brilliant spectacles of earthly splendor and
luxury. When the hour of presentation arrives some massive folding
doors are thrown open, revealing the imperial chapel thronged with
those who are to take part in the ceremony. First, there enters from
the chapel a crowd of army officers, often a thousand in number, in
their most brilliant uniform, the vanguard of the escort of the tzar.
They quietly pass through the vast apartment and disappear amidst the
recesses of the palace. Still the almost interminable throng,
glittering in gala dresses, press on. At length the grand master of
ceremonies makes his appearance announcing the approach of the emperor
and empress.

The royal pair immediately enter, and bow to the representatives of
other courts who may be present, and receive those who are honored
with a presentation. No one is permitted to speak to their majesties
but in reply to questions which they may ask. The Emperor Nicholas was
very stately and reserved in his manners, and said but little. The
empress, more affable, would present her ungloved hand to her guest,
who would receive it and press it with fervor to his lips.

The Emperor Nicholas, during his reign, was supposed to have some
ninety millions of the human family subject to his sway. With a
standing army of a million of men, two hundred thousand of whom were
cavalry, he possessed power unequaled by that of any other single
kingdom on the globe. In the recent struggle at Sevastopol all the
energies of England, France and Turkey were expended against Russia
alone, and yet it was long doubtful whose banners would be victorious.

It is estimated that the territory of Russia now comprises one seventh
of the habitable globe, extending from the Baltic Sea across the whole
breadth of Europe and of Asia to Behring's Straits, and from the
eternal ices of the north pole, almost down to the sunny shores of the
Mediterranean. As the previous narrative has shown, for many ages this
gigantic power has been steadily advancing towards Constantinople. The
Russian flag now girdles the Euxine Sea, and notwithstanding the
recent check at Sevastopol, Russia is pressing on with resistless
strides towards the possession of the Hellespont. A brief sketch of
the geography of those realms will give one a more vivid idea of the
nature of that conflict, which now, under the title of the eastern or
Turkish question, engrosses the attention of Europe.

The strait which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Sea of
Marmora was originally called the Hellespont, from the fabulous legend
of a young lady, named Helle, falling into it in attempting to escape
from a cruel mother-in-law. At the mouth of the Hellespont there are
four strong Turkish forts, two on the European and two on the Asiatic
side. These forts are called the Dardanelles, and hence, from them,
the straits frequently receive the name of the Dardanelles. This
strait is thirty-three miles long, occasionally expanding in width to
five miles, and again being crowded by the approaching hills into a
narrow channel less than half a mile in breadth. Through the
serpentine navigation of these straits, with fortresses frowning upon
every headland, one ascends to the Sea of Marmora, a vast inland body
of water one hundred and eighty miles in length and sixty miles in
breadth. Crossing this sea to the northern shore, you enter the
beautiful straits of the Bosporus. Just at the point where the
Bosporus enters the Sea of Marmora, upon the western shore of the
straits, sits enthroned upon the hills, in peerless beauty, the
imperial city of Constantine with its majestic domes, arrowy minarets
and palaces of snow-white marble glittering like a fairy vision
beneath the light of an oriental sun.

The straits of the Bosporus, which connect the Sea of Marmora with the
Black Sea, are but fifteen miles long and of an average width of but
about one fourth of a mile. In natural scenery and artistic
embellishments this is probably the most beautiful reach of water upon
the globe. It is the uncontradicted testimony of all tourists that the
scenery of the Bosporus, in its highly-cultivated shores, its graceful
sweep of hills and mountain ranges, in its gorgeous architecture, its
atmospheric brilliance and in its vast accumulations of the costumes
and customs of all Europe and Asia, presents a scene which can nowhere
else be paralleled.

On the Asiatic shore, opposite Constantinople, lies Scutari, a
beautiful city embowered in the foliage of the cyprus. An arm of the
strait reaches around the northern portion of Constantinople, and
furnishes for the city one of the finest harbors in the world. This
bay, deep and broad, is called the Golden Horn. Until within a few
years, no embassador of Christian powers was allowed to contaminate
the Moslem city by taking up his residence in it. The little suburb of
Pera, on the opposite side of the Golden Horn, was assigned to these
embassadors, and the Turk, on this account, denominated it _The
swine's quarter_.

Passing through the Bosporus fifteen miles, there expands before you
the Euxine, or Black Sea. This inland ocean, with but one narrow
outlet, receives into its bosom the Danube, the Dniester, the Dnieper,
the Don and the Cuban. These streams, rolling through unmeasured
leagues of Russian territory, open them to the commerce of the world.
This brief sketch reveals the infinite importance of the Dardanelles
and the Bosporus to Russia. This great empire, "leaning against the
north pole," touches the Baltic Sea only far away amidst the ices of
the North. St. Petersburg, during a large portion of the year, is
blockaded by ice. Ninety millions of people are thus excluded from all
the benefits of foreign commerce for a large portion of the year
unless they can open a gateway to distant shores through the Bosporus
and the Dardanelles.

America, with thousands of miles of Atlantic coast, manifests the
greatest uneasiness in having the island of Cuba in the hands of a
foreign power, lest, in case of war, her commerce in the Gulf should
be embarrassed. But the Dardanelles are, in reality, the only gateway
for the commerce of nearly all Russia. All her great navigable
rivers, without exception, flow into the Black Sea, and thence through
the Bosporus, the Marmora and the Hellespont, into the Mediterranean.
And yet Russia, with her ninety millions of population--three times
that of the United States--can not send a boat load of corn into the
Mediterranean without bowing her flag to all the Turkish forts which
frown along her pathway. And in case of war with Turkey her commerce
is entirely cut off. Russia is evidently unembarrassed with any very
troublesome scruples of conscience in reference to reclaiming those
beautiful realms, once the home of the Christian, which the Turk has
so ruthlessly and bloodily invaded. In assailing the Turk, the Russian
feels that he is fighting for his religion.

The tzar indignantly inquires, "What title deed can the Turk show to
the city of Constantine?" None but the dripping cimeter. The annals of
war can tell no sadder tale of woe than the rush of the barbaric Turk
into Christian Greece. He came, a merciless robber with gory hands,
plundering and burning. Fathers and mothers were butchered. Christian
maidens, shrieking with terror, were dragged to the Moslem harems.
Christian boys were compelled to adopt the Mohammedan faith, and then,
crowded into the army, were compelled to fight the Mohammedan battles.
For centuries the Christians, thus trampled beneath the heel of
oppression, have suffered every conceivable indignity from their cruel
oppressors. Earnestly have they appealed to their Christian brethren
of Russia for protection.

It is so essential to the advancing civilization of Russia that she
should possess a maritime port which may give her access to commerce,
that it is not easy for us to withhold our sympathies from her in her
endeavor to open a gateway to and from her vast territories through
the Dardanelles. When France, England and Turkey combined to batter
down Sevastopol and burn the Russian fleet, that Russia might still be
barred up in her northern wilds by Turkish forts, there was an
instinct in the American heart which caused the sympathies of this
country to flow in favor of Russia, notwithstanding all the eloquent
pleadings of the French and English press.

The cabinet of St. James regards these encroachments of Russia with
great apprehension. The view England takes of the subject may be seen
in the following extracts from the _Quarterly Review_:

"The possession of the Dardanelles would give to Russia the means of
creating and organizing an almost unlimited marine. It would enable
her to prepare in the Black Sea an armament of any extent, without its
being possible for any power in Europe to interrupt her proceedings,
or even to watch or discover her designs. Our naval officers, of the
highest authority, have declared that an effective blockade of the
Dardanelles can not be maintained throughout the year. Even supposing
we could maintain permanently in those seas a fleet capable of
encountering that of Russia, it is obvious that, in the event of a
war, it would be in the power of Russia to throw the whole weight of
her disposable forces on any point in the Mediterranean, without any
probability of our being able to prevent it, and that the power of
thus issuing forth with an overwhelming force, at any moment, would
enable her to command the Mediterranean Sea for a limited time
whenever it might please her so to do. Her whole southern empire would
be defended by a single impregnable fortress. The road to India would
then be open to her, with all Asia at her back. The finest materials
in the world for an army destined to serve in the East would be at her
disposal. Our power to overawe her in Europe would be gone, and by
even a demonstration against India she could augment our national
expenditure by many millions annually, and render the government of
that country difficult beyond all calculation."

Such is the view which England takes of this subject. The statesmen
of England and France contemplate with alarm the rapid growth of
Russia, and yet know not how to arrest its progress. They see the
Russian tzars, year after year, annexing new nations to their
territory, and about all they can do is to remonstrate. All agree that
the only effectual measure to check the growth of Russia is to prevent
her from taking possession of the Dardanelles. To accomplish this,
England and France are endeavoring to bind together the crumbling and
discordant elements of Ottoman power, to infuse the vigor of youth
into the veins of an old man dying of debauchery and age. But the
crescent is inevitably on the wane. The doom of the Moslem is sealed.

There are four great nations now advancing with marvelous strides in
the appropriation of this globe to themselves. Russia has already
taken possession of one seventh of the world's territory, and she
needs now but to annex Turkey in Europe and Turkey in Asia to complete
her share. France is spreading her influence throughout southern
Europe, and, with a firm grasp, is seizing the provinces of northern
Africa. England claims half of the islands of the ocean, boasts that
the sun never sets upon her dominions, and _has_ professed that the
ocean is her private property. Her armies, invincible, sweep the
remotest plains of Asia, removing and setting down landmarks at her
pleasure. Her advances are so gigantic that the annexation of a few
thousand leagues, at any time, hardly attracts attention. America is
looking with a wistful eye upon the whole of North and South America,
the islands of the Caribbean Sea and the groups of the Pacific.[31]

[Footnote 31: The jealousy of the leading nations in regard to their
mutual encroachments is amusingly illustrated in an interview between
Senator Douglas and Sir Henry Bulwer in reference to the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty. An article was inserted in this treaty by the
English government, binding both England and America not to colonize,
annex or exercise any dominion over any portion of Central America.
Sir Henry argued that the pledge was fair and just since it was
reciprocal, England asking no more than she was ready herself to

"To test your principle," said Senator Douglas, "I would propose an
amendment of simply two words. Let the article read, 'Neither England
nor the United States will ever colonize any part of Central America
_or Asia_.'"

The British minister exclaimed, in surprise, "But you have no colonies
in Asia."

"True," replied the United States Senator, "neither have you any
colonies in Central America."

"But," rejoined Sir Henry, "you can never establish your government
there, in Asia."

"No," Mr. Douglas replied, "neither do we intend that you shall plant
your government here, in Central America."]

Immediately after the accession of Nicholas to the throne, war broke
out with Persia. It was of short duration. The Persian monarch,
utterly discomfited, was compelled to cede to Russia large provinces
in the Caucasus, and extensive territory on the south-western shore of
the Caspian, and to pay all the expenses of the war. Immediately after
this, on the 7th of May, 1828, war was declared against Turkey. The
Russian army, one hundred and sixty thousand strong, flushed with
victory, crossed the Pruth and took possession of the entire left bank
of the Danube, for some hundreds of miles from its mouth, with all its
fertile fields and populous cities. They then crossed the river, and
overran the whole region of Bulgaria. The storms of winter, however,
compelled a retreat, which the Russians effected after most terrific
conflicts, and, recrossing the Danube, they established themselves in
winter quarters on its left banks, having lost in the campaign one
half of their number. The Turks took possession of the right bank, and
remained, during the winter, in face of their foes. In the spring of
1829 the Russians, having obtained a reinforcement of seventy thousand
men, opened the campaign anew upon the land, while a fleet of
forty-two vessels, carrying fifteen hundred guns, coöperated on the
Black Sea.

Through fields of blood, where the Turks, with the energies of
despair, contested every step, the victorious Russians advanced nearly
three hundred miles. They entered the defiles of the Balkan mountains,
and forced the passage. Concentrating their strength at the base of
the southern declivities, the path was open before them to
Constantinople. Pushing rapidly forward, they entered Adrianople in
triumph. They were now within one hundred and fifty miles of
Constantinople. The consternation in the Turkish capital was
indescribable, and all Europe was looking for the issue with wonder.
The advance guard of the Russian army was already within eighty miles
of the imperial city when the sultan, Mahmoud IV., implored peace, and
assented to the terms his victor extorted.

By this treaty, called the treaty of Adrianople, Turkey paid Russia
twenty-nine millions of dollars to defray the expenses of the war,
opened the Dardanelles to the free navigation of all Russian merchant
ships, and engaged not to maintain any fortified posts on the north of
the Danube.

In July, 1830, the Poles rose in a general insurrection, endeavoring
to shake off the Russian yoke. With hurricane fury the armies of
Nicholas swept the ill-fated territory, and Poland fell to rise no
more. The vengeance of the tzar was awful. For some time the roads to
Siberia were thronged with noble men driven into exile.

In the year 1833, Constantinople was imperiled by the armies of
Mohammed Ali, the energetic pacha of Egypt. The sultan implored aid of
Russia. Nicholas sent an army and a fleet, and drove Mohammed Ali back
to Egypt. As compensation for this essential aid, the sultan entered
into a treaty, by which both powers were bound to afford succor in
case either was attacked, and Turkey also agreed to close the
Dardanelles against any power with whom Russia might be at war.

The revolution in Paris of 1848, which expelled Louis Philippe from
the throne, excited the hopes of the republican party all over Europe.
The Hungarians rose, under Kossuth, in the endeavor to shake off the
Austrian yoke. Francis Joseph appealed to Russia for aid. Nicholas
dispatched two hundred thousand men to crush the Hungarians, and they
were crushed. Nicholas asked no remuneration for these services. He
felt amply repaid in having arrested the progress of constitutional
liberty in Europe.

Various circumstances, each one trivial in itself, conspired to lead
Nicholas in 1853 to make a new and menacing demonstration of power in
the direction of Constantinople. An army was marshaled on the
frontiers, and a large fleet assembled at Odessa and Sevastopol.
England and France were alarmed, and a French fleet of observation
entered the waters of Greece, while the English fleet at Malta
strengthened itself for any emergence. The prominent question
professedly at issue between Russia and Turkey was the protection
which should be extended to members of the Greek church residing
within the Turkish domains. The sultan, strengthened by the secret
support of France and England, refused to accede to the terms which
Russia demanded, and the armies of Nicholas were put on the march for
Constantinople. England and France dispatched their fleets for the
protection of Turkey. In the campaign of Sevastopol, with which our
readers are all familiar, Russia received a check which will, for a
few years, retard her advances.

During the progress of the campaign of Sevastopol, the emperor
Nicholas, in February, 1855, was suddenly seized with the influenza.
The disease made rapid progress. He could not sleep at night, and an
incessant cough racked his frame. On the 22d, notwithstanding the
intense severity of the weather, he insisted upon reviewing some
troops who were about to set out for the seat of war.

"Sire," said one of his physicians, "there is not a surgeon in the
army who would permit a common soldier to leave the hospital in the
state in which you are, for he would be sure that his patient would
reenter it still worse."

"'Tis well, gentlemen," said the emperor, "you have done your duty,
and I shall do mine."

Then wrapping his cloak about him, he entered his sledge. It was a
bleak winter's day. Pale, languid and coughing incessantly, he rode
along the lines of his troops. He returned in a profuse perspiration,
and was soon seized with a relapse, which was aggravated by the
disastrous tidings he was receiving from Sevastopol. He rapidly
failed, and the empress, anxious as to the result, suggested that he
should receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

"No!" the emperor replied. "I can not approach so solemn a mystery
undressed and in bed. It will be better when I can do it in a suitable

The empress, endeavoring to conceal her tears, commenced the
repetition of the Lord's prayer, in a low tone of voice. As she
uttered the words "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," he
fervently added, "For ever, for ever, for ever." Observing that his
wife was in tears he inquired, "Why do you weep? Am I in danger?" She,
afraid to utter the truth, said, "No." He added, "You are greatly
agitated and fatigued. You must retire and take some rest."

A few hours after three o'clock in the morning, Dr. Mandt entered.
"Tell me candidly," said the emperor, "what my disease is. You know I
have always forewarned you to inform me in time if I fell seriously
ill, in order that I might not neglect the duties of a Christian."

"I can not conceal from your majesty," the physician replied, "that
the disease is becoming serious. The right lung is attacked."

"Do you mean to say that it is threatened with paralysis?" enquired
the emperor. The doctor replied, "If the disease do not yield to our
efforts, such may indeed be the result; but we do not yet observe it,
and we still have some hope of seeing you restored."

"Ah," said the emperor, "I now comprehend my state and know what I
have to do." Dismissing his physician he summoned his eldest son,
Alexander, who was to succeed him upon the throne; calmly informed him
that he deemed his condition hopeless and that the hour of death was
approaching. "Say nothing," he continued, "to your mother which may
alarm her fears; but send immediately for my confessor."

The archpriest Bajanof soon entered, and commenced the prayers which
precede confession. The prayers being finished, the emperor crossed
himself and said, "Lord Jesus, receive me into thy bosom." He then
partook of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper with the empress and his
son Alexander. The remaining members of the imperial family were then
summoned into the chamber. He announced with firmness his approaching
end, and gave to each his particular blessing. The empress,
overwhelmed with anguish, cried out, "Oh, God! can I not die with

"You must live for our children," said the emperor; and then turning
to his son Alexander, he added, "You know that all my anxiety, all my
efforts had for their object the good of Russia. My desire was to
labor until I could leave you the empire thoroughly organized,
protected from all danger from without, and completely tranquil and
happy. But you see at what a time and under what circumstances I die.
Such, however, seems to be the will of God. Your burden will be

Alexander, weeping, replied, "If I am destined to lose you, I have the
certainty that in heaven you will pray to God for Russia and for us
all. And you will ask His aid that I may be able to sustain the burden
which He will have imposed upon me."

"Yes," the emperor replied, "I have always prayed for Russia and for
you all. There also will I pray for you." Then speaking to the whole
assembled group, he added, "Remain always, as hitherto, closely united
in family love."

Several of the important officers of the State were then introduced.
The emperor thanked them for their faithful services and tried
devotion, and recommended them to his son as worthy of all trust, gave
them his benediction and bade them farewell. At his request his
domestic servants were then brought into the room. To one, who was
especially devoted to the empress, he said,

"I fear that I have not sufficiently thanked you for the care which
you took of the empress when she was last ill. Be to her for the
future what you have been in my life-time, and salute my beautiful
Peterhoff, the first time you go there with her."

These interviews being closed, he addressed his son and Count
d'Adelberg respecting his obsequies. He selected the room in which his
remains were to be laid out, and the spot for his tomb in the
cathedral of the Apostles Peter and Paul. "Let my funeral," said he,
"be conducted with the least possible expense or display, as all the
resources of the empire are now needed for the prosecution of the
war." While conversing, news came that dispatches had arrived from
Sevastopol. The emperor deeming that he had already abdicated,
declined perusing them, saying, "I have nothing more to do with
earth." Alexander sat for several hours at the bed side, receiving the
last directions of his father.

On the 2d of March the emperor remained upon his bed, unable to
articulate a word, and with difficulty drawing each breath. At noon he
revived a little and requested his son, in his name, to thank the
garrison at Sevastopol for their heroism. He then sent a message to
the King of Prussia, whose sister he had married. "Say to Frederic
that I trust he will remain the same friend of Russia he has ever
been, and that he will never forget the dying words of our father."

The agony of death was now upon him, and he was speechless. His
confessor repeated the prayers for the dying. At twenty minutes past
twelve he expired, holding, till the last moment, the hand of the
empress and of his son Alexander.

Alexander II., who now occupies the throne, was born the 29th of
April, 1818. He is a young man of noble character and very thoroughly
educated. At the age of sixteen, according to the laws of the empire,
he was declared to be of age and took the oath of allegiance to the
throne. From that time he lived by his father's side in the cabinet
and in the court. His fare was frugal, his bed hard, and his duties
arduous in the extreme. In April, 1841, he married the princess Maria,
daughter of the Grand Duke of Darmstadt. She is reported to be a lady
of many accomplishments and of the most sincere and unaffected piety.
He is himself a man of deep religious feeling, and many who know him,
esteem him to be a sincere and spiritual Christian. What character the
temptations of the throne may develop, time only can determine. He is
now struggling, against the opposition of the nobles, to emancipate
the boors from the slavery of serfdom, being ambitious of elevating
all his subjects to the highest manhood. The temporal welfare of
perhaps ninety millions of men is placed in the hands of this one
monarch. An indiscreet act may plunge all Russia into the horrors of a
civil war, or kindle flames of strife through Europe which no power
but that of God can quench. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon him, and
the friends of the Redeemer, the world over, watch his movements with
solicitude and with prayer.



Adachef, (Alexis) appointed minister of justice, 223.

Adrianople, Treaty of, 513.

Akhmet, Defiant reply of, to Ivan, 178.

Alains, character and life of the, 19.

Alexander succeeds Yaroslaf over Novgorod, 127.
  ordered to attend Bati, 127.
  appointed King of Southern Russia, 128.
  his reply to the Pope, 128.
  conciliates Berki, 128.

Alexander (Nevsky) puts down a rebellion headed by his son, 129.
  death of, 129.
  Yaroslaf of Tiver succeeds, 130.

Alexander (son of Michel) ascends the throne, 141.
  outlawed by Usbeck, 142.
  flight and death of, 142.

Alexander I., grief of, on the assassination of Paul, 471.
  re-establishes friendly relations with England, 473.
  regulations of, 474.
  message of, to Napoleon, 477.
  defeat of, at Austerlitz, 479
  his interview with the embassador of Napoleon, 480.
  defeat at Eylau, 484.
  implores peace, 487.
  his admiration for Napoleon, 487.
  forced to turn against Napoleon, 492.
  magnanimity towards Napoleon, 493.
  death of, 497.

Alexander II. succeeds Nicholas on the throne, 517.
  character of, 518.

Alexis succeeds Romanow, 291.
  marriage of, 292.
  his concessions to the mob, 294.
  his conquests in Poland, 295.
  good works of, 296.
  death of, 299.

Alexis (son of Peter the Great) bad character of, 343.
  marriage of, 344.
  letters from, to his father, 351.
  flight of, 352.
  disinherited by his father, 354.
  plots against the crown, 355.
  condemned to death, 358.
  death of, 359.

America, discovery of, by the Normans, 23

Amiens, treaty of, 476.

Anastasia, death of, 255.

André (of Souzdal) usurps the Russian throne, 88.
  moderation of, 92.
  submission of, 95.
  homage of Russia to, 95.
  assassination of, 96.
  sword of, 96.
  abolishes appanages, 111.

André (of Gorodetz) dethrones his brother Dmitri, 133.
  succeeds Dmitri as sovereign, 134.
  death of, 135.

Anne (of Constantinople) forced to marry Vladimir, 55.
  Christian influence of, over her husband, 57.
  death of, 58.

Anne (of England) letter of, to Peter the Great. 342.

Anne (Duchess of Courland) offered the throne, 366.
  energy of, 367.
  death of, 368.

Anecdote of the preservation of the Greek libraries, 19.
  of the love of Igor, 32.
  of the Tartar's theology, 127.
  of Vassili and the Greek physician, 201.
  of Peter the Great, 311.
  of Peter the Great, 320.
  of Peter III., 385.

Appanages abolished by André, 111.

Ascolod and Dir, enterprise and conquests of, 29.
  conversion of, 29.
  assassination of, 31.

Astrachan added to Russia, 244.

Athens taken by the Goths, 19.

Attila the king of the Huns, conquests of, 21.

Avars, conquests of the, 22.

Aristocracy, gradual rise of an, 25.


Bajazet II., letter of Ivan to, 186.
  reply of, 188.

Baptism of the Russian nation in a day, 56.
  in Lithuania, 155.

Barbarians, punishment of the, 87.

Bathori (Stephen) elected King of Poland, 262.

Bati given the command of the Tartar horde, 119.
  depopulates Rezdan, 119.
  captures Moscow, 120.
  takes and burns Vladimir, 122.
  disastrous course of, 123.
  plunders Kief, 124.
  possessions of, 125.
  orders Yaroslaf to appear before him, 125.
  summons Alexander, 127.
  death of, 128.
  Berki succeeds, 128.

Bayadour, chief of the Mogols, 113.

Beards ordered to be removed, 327.

Belsky (Ivan) elected regent of Russia, 209.
  reforms of, 209.
  assassination of, 212.

Bielo (Ozero Sineous) establishes his court at, 27.

Bielski (Bogdan) his attempt to grasp the throne, 270.
  his exile, 271.

"Black Death," ravages of the, 144.

Bohemia, aid from, to Ysiaslaf, 80.

Bokhara burned by the Tartars, 116.

Boleslas, (King of Poland) assists Sviatopolk to defeat Yaroslaf, 59.
  seizes the sister of Yaroslaf as his concubine, 59.
  attempt to poison, 59.
  forced to fly from Kief, 59.

Boleslas II. (of Poland) reception of Ysiaslaf by, 63.
  robs Ysiaslaf and expels him, 63.
  refunds the treasure, 65.

Bosporus, the Greeks plant their colonies along the shore of
  the, 17.

Bulgaria conquered by Sviatoslaf, 46.
  the capital conveyed from Kief to, 48.
  conquered by Georges, 72.
  condition of, 100;
    expedition against, 101.


Caucasus, the eagles of the Russians planted on the, 18.

Catharine I., first appearance of, 333.
  public marriage of, with Peter, 345.
  crowned empress, 361.
  assumes the government, 364.
  death of, 365.

Catharine II., early life of, 380.
  autobiography of, 381.
  seizes the throne, 392.
  manifesto of, on the death of Peter III., 403.
  her labors and reforms, 404.
  administration of, 405.
  urged by her ministers to marry, 407.
  numerous titles of, 409.

Catharine II., attempt to assassinate, 410.
  inoculation of, 413.
  entertainments of, 415.
  her schemes with Henry, Prince of Prussia, 417.
  conquers the Turks, 418.
  correspondence of, 422.
  peace with Turkey effected by, 425.
  personal appearance of, 426.
  conspiracy against, 427.
  interview of, with Joseph II., 437.
  her education of her children, 439.
  erection of the statue to Peter the Great by, 439.
  seizes the Crimea, 441.
  secures peace with Turkey, 444.
  toleration of, 445.
  her journey to the Crimea, 448.
  makes war on Poland. 451.
  death of, 452.
  character of, 453.

Chanceller (Captain) voyage of, 245.

Charles XII. (of Sweden) ascends the throne, 328.
  conquers the Russians, 329.
  drives Augustus from Poland, 335.
  wounded, 338.
  utter defeat of, 339.
  escape of, from Turkey, 346.
  death of, 360.

Chemyaka, see Dmitri.

Cherson, church built at, in commemoration of the baptism of
  Vladimir, 55.

Children, the female allowed to be killed, 24.

China, irruption of the Tartars into, 115.

Christians, persecution of the, by the Tartars, 136.

Christianity, its entrance into Russia, 29.
  diffusion of, into Souzdal, 83.
  attempts of André to extend, 96.

Chronology of Russia: Rurik, Sineous and Truvor jointly rule
  over Russia, 27.
  Rurik succeeds Sineous and Truvor, 28.
  Ascolod and Dir reign over a portion of Russia, 29.
  Oleg succeeds Ascolod and Dir, 31.
  Igor succeeds Oleg, 38.
  Olga succeeds Oleg, 42.
  Sviatoslaf succeeds Olga, 45.
  Yaropolk succeeds Olga, 50.
  Vladimir succeeds Yaropolk, 52.
  Sviatopolk succeeds Vladimir, 59.
  Yaroslaf succeeds Sviatopolk, 60.
  Vseslaf succeeds Yaroslaf, 62.
  Ysiaslaf succeeds Vseslaf, 63.
  Vsevolod succeeds Ysiaslaf, 66.
  Sviatopolk succeeds Vsevolod, 69.
  Monomaque succeeds Sviatopolk, 71.
  Mstislaf succeeds Monomaque, 75.
  Vladimirovitch succeeds Mstislaf, 77.
  Vsevolod succeeds Vladimirovitch, 77.
  Igor succeeds Vsevolod, 78.
  Ysiaslaf succeeds Igor, 78.
  Rostislaf succeeds Ysiaslaf, 81.
  Georges succeeds Rostislaf, 81.
  Davidovitch succeeds Georges, 82.
  Rostislaf succeeds Davidovitch, 83.
  Georgievitch succeeds Rostislaf, 84.
  Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch succeeds Georgievitch, 86.
  André succeeds Mstislaf, 89.
  Michel succeeds André, 97.
  Vsevolod succeeds Michel, 100.
  Georges succeeds Vsevolod, 104.
  Octai succeeds Georges, 125.
  Bati succeeds Octai, 127.
  Dmitri of Moscow secures the throne, 146.
  Tamerlane succeeds Dmitri, 155.
  Ivan III. throws off the Mogol power, 172.
  Vassili succeeds Ivan III., 191.
  Hélène (as regent) succeeds Vassili, 205.
  Schouisky (as regent) succeeds Hélène, 208.
  Ivan Belsky (as regent) succeeds Schouisky, 209.
  Ivan IV. seizes his throne, 214.
  Feodor succeeds Ivan IV., 270.
  Boris succeeds Feodor, 275.
  Feodor II. succeeds Boris, 279.
  Dmitri succeeds Feodor II., 280.
  Zuski succeeds Dmitri, 283.
  Michel Feodor Romanow elected king, 287.
  Alexis succeeds Romanow, 291.
  Feodor succeeds Alexis, 299.
  Sophia (as regent) succeeds Feodor, 303.
  Peter I. succeeds Sophia, 310.
  Catharine succeeds Peter I., 364.
  Peter II. succeeds Catharine, 365.
  Anne succeeds Peter II., 367.
  Ivan V. succeeds Anne, 368.
  Elizabeth succeeds Ivan V., 369.
  Peter III. succeeds Elizabeth, 387.
  Catharine II. succeeds Peter III, 403.
  Paul I. succeeds Catharine II., 454.
  Alexander succeeds Paul I., 471.
  Nicholas succeeds Alexander I., 502.
  Alexander II. succeeds Nicholas, 517.
  During the Tartar reign, only the Tartar conqueror is usually given.

Church built at Cherson, 55.
  built on the site of the idol of Péroune, 56.

Civilization, the Russians indebted to the Greeks for their, 168.

Commerce of Russia, 113.
  between England and Russia, 247.
  increase of, 249.

Constantine (prince of Yaroslavle) claims the throne, 104.
  turns Kostroma, 104.
  ascends the imperial throne, 108.
  effeminacy of, 108.
  death of, 109.

Constantine resigns his right to the throne, 498.

Constantinople, the city of, 168.

"Court Favorite" office of the, 430.

Crimea, taken possession of by Vladimir, 54.

Crusaders driven from the imperial city, 103.

Cyrille (bishop of Novgorod) effects a treaty between Novgorod and the
  Tartars, 131.


Dacia, the countries forming the province of, 19.
  conquered and divided by Trajan, 19.

Daniel (of Gallicia) attempts of, to emancipate Russia, 126.
  crowned emperor, 126.

Daniel (prince of Moscow) declares independence, 134.

Davidovitch (of Tchernigof) invited to seize the throne of Russia, 82.
  driven from the throne by Rostislaf, 83.
  flight of, to Moscow, 83.

Danielovitch (Jean) appointed Grand Prince by the Tartars, 142.
  reign and death of, 143.

Diana, temple of, burned at Ephesus, 19.

Diderot, Visit of, to Catharine, and her correspondence with him, 423.

Dimsdale (Dr. Thomas) introduces inoculation, 411.

Discoveries during the reign of Ivan, 190.

Dnieper, baptism of the nation in the, 56.
  plunder of the commerce on the, 86.

Dimitri ascends the throne, 133.
  drives André from Novgorod, 133.
  disasters and death of, 134.

Dimitri (son of Michel) assassinates Georges, 140.
  execution of, 141.

Dmitri (of Souzdal) accession of, to the throne, 146.
  deposed, 146.

Dmitri (of Moscow) crowned sovereign, 146.
  conquers the Tartars, 147.
  wounded, 152.
  death of, 156.

Dmitri Chemyaka assumes the government, 166;
  death of, 166.

Dmitri (prince, son of Ivan IV.) assassination of, 274.
  Griska claims to be, 278.
  see Griska.

Dmitry declines the throne, 131.

Drevliens, debasement of the tribe of, 25.
  revolt of the, against Igor, 38.
  their punishment and enthusiasm of, for Olga, 42.

Droutsk burned by Yaropolk, 73.


Eastern Question, the cause of the present war of the, 507.

Ecclesiastical Council called to rectify evils in the church, 132.

Elizabeth (daughter of Peter the Great) conspiracy of, 368.
  seizes the throne, 369.
  victories of, over Frederic of Prussia, 375.
  death of, 377.
  character of, 378.

Embassador of André insulted, 92.
  the first from Russia, 248.

Emigration of Russians to the mouth of the Volga, 97.

Emperors, see Russia and Chronology.

England, influence of, in Europe, 244.
  amicable arrangement of Russia with, 249.
  friendship between Russia and, 248.

Entertainment, description of a royal, 415.

Etiquette, laws of, as to young ladies, 203.

Eylau, battle of, 483.


Famine in Russia, 105.

Feodor (son of Ivan IV.) ascends the throne, 270.
  his incapacity, 273.
  death of, 274.

Feodor (son of Alexis) ascends throne, 299.
  makes peace with Poland, 300.
  marriage of, 301.
  death of, 302.

Feudal System, implanting of the, 28.


Genghis Khan, pretended divine authority of, 115.
  irruption into China, 115.
  burns Bokhara, 116.
  recalls his troops from Russia, 118.
  death of, 118.
  nominates Octai as his successor, 118.
  See Temoutchin.

George (son of André) sent embassador to Novgorod, 92.
  returns to Moscow, 94.

Georges (son of Monomaque) expedition of, to Bulgaria, 72.

Georges (of Moscow) assists Sviatoslaf, 79.
  enters Kief in triumph, 80.
  drives Rostislaf from the throne, 81.
  death of, 81.

Georges I. (brother of Vsevolod) ascends the Russian throne, 104.
  burns Rostof, 104.
  defeated by Mstislaf, 106.
  surrenders himself to Mstislaf, and exiled, 108.
  disappears from history, 108.

Georges II. ascends throne of Russia, 109.
  attacks Ochel, 109.
  founds Nijni Novgorod, 110.
  death of, 122.

Georges III (of Moscow) obtains assistance from the Tartars, 136.
  defeated by Michel, 137.
  secures the throne, 140.
  assassination of, 140.

Georgievitch (of Souzdal) Davidovitch seeks aid from, 83.
  his system of government, 84.

Ghirei (Devlet) character of, 251.

Gleb (prince of Minsk) takes Sloutsk, 73.
  capture and death of, 73.

Gleb left in possession of Kief; flight of, 89.

Gordon (General) entrusted with the royal troops, 317.

Gostomysle raises an embassy to visit the Normans, 27.

Goths, devastation of the, 19.
  empire of the, 20.
  suicide of Hermanric, king of the, 20.

Greece, overrun by the Avars, 22.
  invaded by Monomaque, 72.

Greek Church, declared to be the best, 53.

Greeks, colonies of the, on the Bosporus, 17.
  coalesce with the Bulgarians and expel Sviatoslaf, 48.

Gregory VII., see Pope.

Griska assumes to be prince Dmitri, and invades Russia, 278.
  crowned emperor, 280.
  perplexities of, 281.
  marriage of, by proxy, 281.
  death of, 283.
  Polish adventurer claims to be, 284.
  hung at Moscow, 286.

Gudenow (Boris) his supremacy over Feodor, 271.
  assassinates Dmitri, 274.
  his subterfuge to obtain the throne, 275.
  crowned emperor, 276.

Gustavus III., interview of Catharine with, 443.

Gyda, wife of Monomaque, 75.


Hélène appointed regent of Ivan IV., 204.
  despotic atrocities of, 204.
  death of, 207.

Hellespont, origin of the name, 507.

Henry IV. (of Germany) solicited to aid Ysiaslaf, 63.

Henry (prince of Prussia) visits Catharine, 414.
  schemes of, with Catharine, 417.

Hereditary Descent the cause of war, 112.

Hermanric, suicide of king, 20.

Hermitage, description of the, 416.

Herodotus, his account of the interior of Russia, 17.

Holy Alliance, formation of the, 493.

Hungary, aid from, sent to Ysiaslaf, 80.
  alliance of, with Russia, 183.
  revolt of, against Austria, 513.

Huns, Russia devastated by the, 20.
  revolting appearance of the, 20.

Huns, Attila, king of the, 21.
  disappearance of the, 21.


Idols, the Greek and Sclavonian, 26.
  destruction of the, in Russia, 55.

Igor, assumes the government of Russia under the guardianship
  of Oleg, 30.
  fears to claim his crown, 32.
  his love and marriage, 33.
  assumes the government of Russia, 38.
  attack on Constantinople, 39.
  his defeat by the Greeks, 39.
  second attack on Constantinople, 40.
  concludes treaty with the Greeks, 40.
  death of, 41.

Igor II. receives throne of Russia, 78.
  made prisoner, 78.
  enters a convent, 78.
  assassination of, 79.

Ilmen, army on the shores of the lake of, 80.

Impostor, see Griska.

Inventions during the reign of Ivan III., 190.

Ivan III. ascends the throne, 168.
  early marriage of, 168.
  captures Kezan, 170.
  affianced to Sophia of Greece, 174.
  marriage of, 175.
  his reforms, 176.
  letter of Vassian to, 179.
  proposals for the marriage of his daughter, 185.
  letter of, to Sultan Bajazet II., 186.
  letter of the Sultan to, 188.
  death of the wife of, 189.
  marriage of the son of, 189.
  death of, 189.
  discoveries and inventions during the reign of, 190.

Ivan IV. acknowledged as tzar, 204.
  asserts claim to the throne, 213.
  coronation of, 214.
  marriage of, 216.
  change in the character of, 221.
  his address to the people, 223.
  defeat of, by the Tartars, 226.
  capture of Kezan by, 235.
  enthusiastic reception of, 237.
  serious illness of, 240.
  rebuke of, to Sweden, 252.
  attaches Livonia, to Russia, 253.
  death of the wife of, 255.
  matrimonial projects with Poland, 255.
  abdication of, 256.
  petitioned to resume the throne, 257.
  good will of England to, 259.
  flight of, 261.
  strives to be umpire in Poland, 263.
  defiant demands of Poland on, 264.
  unpopularity of, 266.
  death of his son, depression at, 267.
  death of, 268.
  his sons, 270.

Ivan V. succeeds to the throne, 368.
  deposed by Elizabeth. 368.
  imprisonment and sufferings of, 370.
  assassination of, 371.

Ivan (brother of Peter I.) seclusion and death of, 310.

Ivanovitch (Jean, of Moscow) reign and death of, 146.


Jacob (General) deserts the Russians and defends Azov, 315.
  captured and hung, 315.

Jean, base flattery of, to Machmet, 162.

Jean Danielovitch, see Danielovitch.

Jena, battle of, 482.

Jews, attempt of André to convert the, 96.

Joseph II. (of Germany) eccentricity of, 437.
  visit to St. Petersburg, 438.


Kavgadi, taken possession of by Michel, 137.

Kezan, captured by Ivan III., 170.
  siege of, 229.
  capture of, 235.
  insurrection in, 240.

Khan see Genghis.

Khozars, the, conquered by Sviatoslaf, 46.

Kief, beauty of the city of, 28.
  the Norman adventurers Ascolod and Dir remain there, 29.
  taken by Oleg, 31.
  the capital of Russia transferred from, to Bulgaria, 48.
  captured by Vladimir, 52.
  decoration of, by Yaroslaf, 61.
  punishment of, by Ysiaslaf, 63.
  destruction of the citizens of, 66.
  government offered to Monomaque, 70.
  festival in honor of the new reign, 71.
  the inhabitants of, invite Vladimirovitch to ascend the throne of, 76.
  triumphal entrance of Georges into, 80.
  Roman appointed prince of, 92.
  plundered by the Tartars, 124.

Kolomna, emigration from Moscow to, 163.

Kostroma, burned by Constantine, 104.

Kothian (prince of Polovtsi) retreats to Hungary, 123.

Koulikof, battle of, 149.

Kouria (chief of the Petchénègues) defeats Sviatoslaf and makes a
  drinking cup of his skull, 49.


Ladislaus elected emperor, 286.
  his election declared void, 287.

Laharpe, efforts of, for the education of Alexander, 473.

Leczinsky (Stanislaus) placed on the Polish throne, 335.

Leon (of Constantine) imbecility of, 35.

Library, foundation of the royal, of St. Petersburg, 345.

Lippenow (Zachary) puts the Polish garrison to death, 287.

London, Peter the Great's visit to, 322.

London Postman, extract from the, 322.


Macedon, see Philip of.

Machmet, flattery of Jean to, 162.

Mahomet II., wars with Genghis Khan, 116.
  death of, 116.

Marcow (Russian embassador) ordered to leave France, 476.

Maria (wife of Vsevolod III.) character of, 102.

Marriage, singular customs in, 289.

Martyrs, Ivan and Theodore, the first Christians, 53.

Menzikoff, sketch of the life of, 336.
  banished by Frederic II., 366.
  death of, 366.

Michael III. (of Constantinople), 29.

Michel (of Tchernigof, son of Monomaque) offered the throne of
  Russia, 97.
  his reign and death, 98.

Michel (of Tver) succeeds André on the throne of Russia, 136.
  presents himself before the Tartar horde, 138.
  execution of, 140.

Missionaries sent through Russia to teach Christianity, 56.

Mogols, character of the, 113.
  civilization of the, 143.

Moldavia, the inhabitants of, 83.

Monarchy, recapitulation of the Russian, 110;
  see Chronology.

Monomaque offered the Russian crown, 70.
  he declines it, 71.
  goes to the rescue of Kief, 71.
  his expeditions to extend the empire, 72.
  sons of, 72.
  conquers the invaders from the Caspian Sea, 72.
  expedition against Greece, 72.
  "golden bonnet" of, 73.
  death of, 73.
  parting letter of, to his children, 74.
  wife of, 75.

Moroson, ambitious schemes of, 291.
  marriage of, 292.

Moscow, first historical mention of, 79.
  supremacy of, 83.
  capture of, 89.
  burned, 98.
  captured by Bati, 120.
  flight of Georges II. from, 121.
  becomes the capital, 142.
  burned by the Tartars, 154.
  appearance of, in 1520, 202.
  destroyed by fire, 218.
  grand fête at, 239.
  destroyed by the Tartars, 261.
  burned by the Poles, 287.

Mstislaf (son of Monomaque) his expeditions and victories, 72.
  succeeds his father, 75.
  death of, 76.

Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch, succeeds Rostislaf over Russia, 86.
  proclamation of, 87.
  flight of, from Kief, 89.
  return to Kief, 89.
  death of, 90.

Mstislaf (son of André) ambition of, 90.
  summoned Novgorod to surrender, 91.
  defeat of, 91.

Mstislaf (prince of Galitch) appears in public, 105.
  aids Constantine, 105.
  defeats Georges, 106.
  beaten by the Tartars, 117.

Munich (General) advice of, to Peter, 395.
  appearance of, before Catharine, 401.


Napoleon, victories of, 465.
  returns Russian prisoners, 467.

Napoleon, remarks of, on Paul I., 472.
  reply of, to Alexander, 478.
  victorious at Austerlitz, 479.
  letter of, to king of Prussia, 485.
  exiled to Elba, 493.
  signs the "Holy Alliance," 496.

Nepeia, the first Russian embassador, 248.
  his reception in London, 248.

Nestor, record of, of the Christians in Constantinople, 41.

Nicholas, takes oath of allegiance to Constantine, 501.
  ascends the throne, 502.
  puts down the rebellion, 503.
  power of, 506.
  assists Turks against Egypt, 513.
  crushes Hungarian revolt, 513.
  defeated at Sevastopol, 514.
  death of, 517.

Nijni Novgorod, Georges II. founds the city of, 110.

Noble, requisite for becoming a, 25.

Normans, at first called Scandinavians, 23.
  early power and discoveries of, 23.
  superior civilization of the, 26.

Notre Dame, burial of Ysiaslaf in, 66.

Novgorod, Rurik establishes his court at, 27.
  annexed by Georgievitch, 84.
  successful defense of, 91.
  Rurik appointed prince of, 92.
  George sent to, to adjust the difficulties in, 92.


Octai succeeds Genghis Khan, 118.
  letter of, to the king of France, 127

Oleg, the guardian of Igor, 30.
  assassinates Ascolod and Dir, 31.
  dominion of, 31.
  attempts a march upon Constantinople, 33.
  the expedition, 35.
  his treaty with the Greeks, 36.
  death of, 37.
  his popularity and labors for Russia, 38.
  (son of Sviatoslaf) receives the government of the Drevliens, 48.
  defeated by Yaropolk, 49.
  death of, 50.
  bones of, disinterred and baptised, 61.

Olga (wife of Igor) assumes the regency, 42.
  she punishes the Drevliens, 42.
  conversion of, to Christianity, 43.
  baptised by the name of Helen, 44.
  death of, 46.

Orlof (count) haughty behavior of, 407.

Ottoman Porte, manifesto of the, 442.


Paganism in Russia demolished at a blow, 56.

Paul I. (son of Catharine) marriage of, 421.
  death of his wife, 432.
  visit of, to Frederick, 433.
  marriage of, 436.
  travels of, 438.
  ignorance of, 454.
  extravagance of, 455.
  reëstablishment of ancient etiquette, 456.
  a horse court-martialed by, 457.
  reason for his caprices, 458.
  fury of, on learning his defeat, 465.
  letter of, to Napoleon, 467.
  surrounding influences of, 468.
  conspiracy against, 469.
  assassination of, 470.

Pekin burned by the Tartars, 115.

Pereaslavle, the territory of, given to Vsevolod, 61.

Peregeslavetz, reconquered, and made the capital by Sviatoslaf, 48.

Periaslavle, battle of the city of, 80.

Péroune, one of the gods of the Russians, 41.
  the idol of, destroyed, 55.

Petchénègues, Igor purchases peace with the, 39.
  Sviatoslaf defeated by the, 49.

Peter I. (the Great) marriage of, 309.
  attempted assassination of, 309.
  his return to Moscow, 310.
  indications of greatness, 311.
  his passion for the ocean, 312.
  settles Chinese difficulties, 314.
  captures Azof, 315.
  resolves to travel incognito, 316.
  his attack on La Fort, 317.
  his residence at Zaandam, 318
  his recognition, 319.
  anecdotes of, 320.
  his thirst for knowledge, 321.
  visit to London, 322.
  return to Moscow, 325.
  his reforms in the church, 326.
  change of the calendar, 327.
  troubles of, with Sweden, 328.
  coolness on hearing of the defeat of his army, 329.
  founds St. Petersburg, 332.
  captures Marienburg, 333.
  meets Catharine and privately marries her, 333.
  defeats Charles XII., 339.
  demands of, on Queen Anne, 341.
  reply of Anne to, 342.
  captures Livonia, 342.
  desperate condition of, 343.
  public marriage of, 345.
  journeys of, 346.
  residence in Paris, 349.
  letters of, to Alexis, 351.
  arraigns his son for high treason, 356.
  effects a peace with Sweden, 360.
  causes coronation of Catharine, 361.
  death of, 362.
  inscription on the tomb of, 368.
  statue erected to, 440.

Peter II., regency of, 365.
  death of, 366.

Peter III., succeeds Elizabeth, 377.
  early life of, and acquaintance with Catharine, 380.
  determines to repudiate Catharine, 390.
  alarm of, on the escape of Catharine, 395.
  abject humiliation of, 398.
  abdication of, 399.
  assassination of, 402.

Peterhoff, the palace of, 504.

Philip (of Macedon) conquers the Scythians, 18.

Plague, devastations of the, 419.

Poland, aid from, to Ysiaslaf, 80.
  Stephen Bathori elected king, 261.
  demands of, on Russia, 264.
  conquests of, 255.
  conquests of Alexis in, 295.
  death of the king of, 298.
  John Sobieski chosen king of, 298.
  Stanislaus Leczinsky placed on the throne of, 335.
  degeneration of, 414.
  sliced by Russia, Austria and Prussia, 420.
  rebellion in, 513.

Poles, rise of the, 513.

Polotsk, captured by Vlademer, 52.

Polovtsi, the nation of, 123.

Pope (Gregory VII.) promises to assist Ysiaslaf, 64.
  letter of, to Ysiaslaf, 64.
  letter of, to the king of Poland, 65.

Pope (Innocent III.) his letter to the Russian clergy, 102.

Poppel (Nicholas) visit of, to Russia, 184.
  solicits the daughter of Ivan for Albert of Baden, 184.

Porphyrogenete, the emperor of Constantinople, 43.

Pugatshef, conspiracy of, 427.
  execution of, 429.

Pultowa, battle of, 339.
  festival, 346.


Religion of the Sclavonians, 26.

Republicanism, first indication of, 131.

Rogneda, refusal of, to marry Vlademer, 51.
  forced to marry Vlademer, 52.

Roman (prince of Smolensk) appointed prince of Novgorod, 92.

Romanow (Michael Feodor) elected emperor, 287.
  marriage of, 290.
  prosperous reign, and death, 291.

Rome purchases peace of the Sarmatians, 18.

Romish Church, its dominion over the Greek church, 102

Rostislaf succeeds to the throne of Russia, 18.
  driven from the throne by Georges, 82.
  expels Davidovitch from the throne, 83.
  death of, 86.

Rostof burned by Georges, 104.

Rovgolod (governor of Polotsk) his daughter demanded by Vlademer, 51.
  death of, 52.

Rurik, Sineous, and Truvor, consent to govern Scandinavia, 27.
  unites the territories of his brothers to his own, 28.
  death of, 30.
  his crown descends to Igor, his son, 30.

Rurik (brother of André) appointed prince of Novgorod, 92.

Russia, history of, 17.
  after disappearance of the Huns, 21.
  earliest reliable information of, 23.
  sudden rise of, from the Sclavonians, 26.
  derivation of the name of, 27.
  confusion of, in consequence of the death of Sviatoslaf, 49.
  united under Yaropolk, 50.
  years of pence under Vlademer, 57.
  division of the empire of, 57.
  calamity to, by the death of Yaroslaf, 62.
  death penalty abolished in, 66.
  misery and suffering in, 66.
  Vsevolod succeeds Ysiaslaf in the government of, 66.
  Sviatopolk assumes crown of, 59.
  abandoned to destruction, 69.
  Monomaque offered crown of, 70.
  invaded by the Caspian hordes, 72.
  Mstislaf becomes emperor of, 75.
  famine and pestilence in, 76.
  throne of, seized by Viatcheslaf, 77.
  throne of, seized by Vsevolod, 77.
  throne of, demised to Igor, 78.
  varied fortunes of, 81.
  Rostislaf succeeds Ysiaslaf in the government of, 81.
  Georges secures the throne of, 82.
  Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch succeeds Rostislaf as emperor of, 86.
  union of the princes of, 87.
  old feuds in, revived, 88.
  fall of the capital of, 89.
  André succeeds Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch as emperor of, 89.
  André becomes monarch of, 95.
  Michel offered the throne of, 97.
  Michel's reign over, 98.
  accession of Vsevelod III., 98.
  Georges ascends the throne of, 104.
  famine in, 105.
  Constantine ascends throne of, 108.
  Georges II. ascends throne of, 109.
  recapitulation of the establishment of the monarchy of, 110.
  subdivision of, 111.
  Yaroslaf, prince of Kief, ascends the throne of, 123.
  in the power of Bati, 125.
  annihilated as a kingdom, 126.
  Dmitri ascends the throne of, 133.
  André ascends the throne of, 133.
  ceases to be a monarchy, 135.
  evils to, resulting from the death of André, 136.
  Michel succeeds André, 136.
  Georges of Moscow succeeds Michel, 140.
  Alexander succeeds Georges, 141.
  Jean Danielovitch succeeds Alexander, 142.
  Simeon succeeds Danielovitch, 143.
  accession of Ivanovitch, 146.
  accession of Dmitri of Souzdal, 146.
  accession of Dmitri of Moscow, 146.
  again brought under Tartar rule, 155.
  Vassali ascends the throne of, 156.
  Vassali Vassalievitch ascends the throne of, 162.
  Ivan III. ascends the throne of, 168.
  rise of, in estimation of Europe, 172.
  invaded by the Mogols, 177.
  alliance of, with Hungary, 183.
  Vassili ascends the throne of, 191.
  splendor of the court of, 199.
  invaded by Sigismond, 205.
  Hélène assumes the regency of, 204.
  Vassali Schouisky succeeds Hélène in, 208.
  Ivan Schouisky succeeds Vassali, 208.
  Ivan Belsky chosen regent of, 209.
  Ivan IV. ascends the throne of, 214.
  news of the discovery of, arrives in England, 246.
  commerce with England, 247.
  the first embassador from, 248.
  Livonia attached to, 253.
  peril of, 265.
  Feodor ascends the throne of, 270.
  Boris Gudenow crowned, 276.
  Griska crowned king of, 280.
  Zuski elected emperor of, 283.
  Ladislaus elected king of, 285.
  Romanow elected emperor of, 287.
  Alexis succeeds Romanow, 291.
  Feodor succeeds Alexis, 299.
  Sophia, as regent for Ivan, succeeds Feodor, 303.
  Peter succeeds Sophia, 310.
  Catharine I. succeeds Peter I., 364.
  Peter II. succeeds Catharine I., 365.
  Anne succeeds Peter II., 367.
  Ivan V. succeeds Anne, 368.
  Elizabeth succeeds Ivan V., 369.
  Peter III. succeeds Elizabeth, 377.
  Catharine II., accession of, 403.
  desolation of, by the Plague, 419.
  vast wealth of the court of, 420.
  judicial divisions of, 431.
  difficulties between Turkey and, 438.
  Paul I. succeeds Catharine II., 454
  Alexander succeeds Paul I., 471.
  absence of bookstores in, 475.
  treaty between France and, 476.
  Nicholas succeeds Alexander I., 502.
  extent of the territory of, 506.
  Alexander II. succeeds Nicholas, 517.

Russians, description of the early, 23.
  their mode of warfare, 23.
  retreat of the, before Akhmet, 181.

"Russian Justice," the code called, drawn by Yaroslaf, 62.


Samarcande destroyed by the Tartars, 116.

Sarmatia, Scythian name changed to, 18.

Scandinavians, called also Normans, 23.
  See also Normans.

Schevkal conquered by the Tverians, 141.

Schlippenbuch (Col.), heroism of, 331.

Schlit sent to induce emigration of illustrious men, 224.
  arrested by Charles V., 225.

Schouisky (Vassali) declares himself Tzar;
  death of, 208.

Schouisky (Ivan) succeeds his brother Vassali, 208.
  dismissal of, 209.
  assassinates Belsky and secures the regency, 212.

Sclavonians, conquests of the, 22.
  early religion of the, 26.
  send to the Normans to demand a king, 26.

Schools introduction of, 57.
  character of the, 475.

Scythians, irruption of the, into Russia, 17.
  character of the, 18.
  name changed to "Sarmatians," 18.

Sevastopol, siege of, 514.

Siberia, position and character of, 273.

Sigismond (of Poland) invades Russia, 205.

Simeon (son of Danielovitch) ascends the throne, 143
  (son of Jean) acquires the title of the Superb, 144.
  death of, 145.

Sineous, Rurik, and Truvor, consent to govern Scandinavia, 27.
  death of, 28.

Slave, the use of the word abolished, 327

Slavery in Russia, 202.

Slave Trade, argument used for the, 100.

Sloutsk, burned by Gleb, 73.

Smolensk, Truvor establishes his court near, 27.
  gains territory of Viatcheslaf, 61.
  flight of, Ysiaslaf to, 80.

Sophia instigates a massacre, 304.
  appointed as regent, 306.
  quells an insurrection, 307.
  returns to Moscow, 308.
  sends first embassador to France, 308.
  attempts to assassinate Peter, 309.
  termination of the regency of, 310.
  insurrection headed by, 325.

Souzdal increasing civilization of, 83.
  sympathy of the people of, for Sviatoslaf, 79.
  the country of, desolated, 80.

Staradoub, siege of, 206.

St. Petersburg, founding of, 334.
  arrival of first ship at, 335.
  Swedes driven from, 336.
  the winter palace of, 505.

St. Sophia, burial of Vsevolod in the church of, 68.

Succession, the Russian right of, 112.

Suwarrow (Gen.), character and origin of, 461.
  his hatred of the French, 462.
  vanquishes Moreau, 464.
  utter defeat of, 465.

Sviatopolk (the Miserable) seizes Russia and kills his brothers, 58.
  defeated by Yaroslaf, 59.
  drives Yaroslaf from Kief, 59.
  poisons the Polish army, 59.
  driven from Kie