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Tmoutorakan, established almost at the foot of the Caucasus in the midst of Turkish and Circassian tribes and counting eight different princes, the following are, from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, the principal divisions of Russia:
(1) The principality of Smolensk, which occupied the important territory which is in a manner the central point of the orographic system of Russia; it comprises the old forest of Okov, where the three greatest rivers of Russia, the Volga, the Dnieper, and the Dvina, have their rise. Hence the political
importance of Smolensk, which is attested by the many wars undertaken against her; hence also her commercial prosperity. it is noticeable that all her towns were built on some one of the three rivers; all the commerce of ancient Russia thus passed through her bounds. Besides Smolensk it is necessary to cite Mozhaisk, Viasma, and Toropets, the capital of a secondary principality, the domain of two famous princes- Mstislav the Brave and Mstislav the Bold.
(2) The principality of Kiev, which was Rus-Russia in the strict sense of the term. Its situation on the Dnieper, the proximity of Greece, the fertility of its Black Lands, long assured to this state the supremacy over all other Russian principalities. To the south it was bordered by the Nomad tribes of the steppe. Against the inroads of these tribes the princes of Kiev were obliged to construct frontier fortresses; though frequently they ceded them lands and took them into their pay, constituting them into veritable military colonies. The principality of Pereiaslavl was a dependency of Kiev; Vishgorod, Bielgorod, Tripoli, and Torlshok were at different times constituted into appanages for princes of the same family.
(3) The two principalities of Tcheringov with Starodub and Lubetz and of Novgorod-Seversk with Putivl, Kursk and Briansk, which extended along the tributaries flowing into the Dnieper from the left the Soj and the Desna swelled by the Seim. Tcheringov, extending towards the upper Oka, had thus one foot in the basin of the Volga; its princes, the Olgovitchi, were the most redoubtable rivals of those of Kiev. As for the princes of Seversk, they were ceaselessly occupied with wars against their dangerous rivals on the south, the Polovtsi. It is the exploits of a prince of Seversk against these barbarians which form the subject of a chanson de geste - The Song of Igor.
(4) The duplex principality of Riazan and Murom, another state whose existence was maintained at the expense of ceaseless war against the nomads.
The principal towns were Riazan, Murom, Pereiaslavl-Riazanski, on the Oka; Kolomna, at the junction of the Moskva with the Oka; and Pronsk, on the Pronia. The upper Don bounded it on the west. This principality was established in the midst of Finnish tribes the Muromians and the Meshtseraks. The warlike character and the rude and coarse habits attributed to the people of the principality doubtless resulted not less from the assimilation of the aborigines by the Russian race than from the continuous brutal strife of the inhabitants with the nomads.
(5) The principalities of Suzdal - with their metropolitan towns of Tver, Suzdal, Rostov, Iuriev-Polski, and Vladimir on the Kliasma; of Iaroslavl and Pereiaslavl-Zaliesski — which were established on the Volga and the Oka, in the densest of the northern forests, surrounded by Finnish tribes Mouromians, Merians, Vesses, and Tcherimisses. Though situated at the extreme limit of the Russian world, these principalities nevertheless exercised great influence over it. We shall see their princes now reducing Novgorod and the Russia of the lakes to a certain political dependence, the consequence of a double economical dependence; then victoriously intervening in the quarrels of the Russia of the Dneiper. The Suzdalians were of the same character as the Riazanians - rude and warlike. The characteristics of a new nationality were already noticeable among these two peoples. That which differentiated them from the Kievans and the Novgorod-Severskans, who, like themselves, were occupied in the great struggle against the barbarians, was that the Russians of the Dnieper, sometimes mingling their blood with that of their enemies, became fused with Turkish tribes, nomadic and essentially mobile, while the Russians of the Oka and the Volga united with Finnish tribes, agricultural and essentially sedentary. This difference between the two foreign elements which entered into the blood of the Slavs, without doubt contributed to that marked difference in character between the two branches of the Russian race. During the period from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, as colonization advanced, from the basin of the Dnieper to the basin of the Volga, the divisions of Little Russia and Great Russia were formed.
(6) The principalities of Kiev, Tchernigov, Novgorod-Seversk, Riazan, Murom, and Suzdal, which formed the marches of Russia on the borders of the steppe with its devastating hordes - constituting its frontier states. On the confines of the northwest, opposite the Lithuanians, the Letts and the Tchuds, the same rôle devolved on the principality of Polotsk, occupying the basin of the Dvina, and on the republican principalities of Novgorod and Pskov on the lakes of Ilmen and Peipus. The principality of Minsk was attached to that of Polotsk. It was situated in the basin of the Dnieper and, owing to that circumstance, its possession was frequently disputed by the grand princes of Kiev. The towns of Torzhok, Volok-Lamski, Izborsk, and Veliki Luki belonged to Novgorod; at times they were the capitals of individual states.
Southwestern Russia comprehended (1) in the fan-shaped territory formed by the Pripet and its tributaries - Volhinia, with Vladimir in Volhinia, Lutsk, Turov, Brest, and even Lublin, which is unquestionably Polish; (2) in the basins of the San, the Dniester, and the Pripet - Galicia proper, or Red Russia, whose ancient inhabitants, the white Croats, seem to have originated in the Danubian Slavs. Its principal towns were Galitch, founded by Vladimirko about 1444; Peremishl; Terebovlia, and Svenigorodka. The near neighbourhood of Hungary and Poland contributed to these two principalities distinctive characteristics, as well as a more advanced civilisation.
In the epic songs Galicia, the land of the hero Dvorik Stepanovitch, is a country of fabulous wealth. The Narrative of the Expedition of Igor gives an exalted idea of the power of its princes: "Iaroslav Osmomysl of Galicia," cries the poet addressing one of them, "high art thou seated_upon thy golden throne! With thy iron regiments thou guardest the Carpathian mountains, thou shuttest the gates of the Danube, thou barrest the way to the king of Hungary; at will thou openest the gates of Kiev, and thine arrows reach far into the distance."
THE UNITY OF THE PRINCIPALITIES
The disposition of these fifteen or sixteen principalities confirms what has been previously stated concerning the essential unity of the configuration of the Russian soil. None of the river-basins forms a closed or isolated region; no line of heights establishes between them barriers or political frontiers. The greater number of the Russian principalities belonged to the basin of the Dnieper, but pushed their limits everywhere beyond. Kiev, with Pereiaslavl, is the only one strictly confined within it; but Volhinia puts the basin of the Dnieper in communication with those of the Bug in the south and of the Vistula; Polotsk connects it with the basins of the Niemen and the Dvina, Novgorod-Seversk with that of the Don, Tchernigov and Smolensk with that of the Volga. Between these principalities, watercourses everywhere establish communications. Russia, though divided into appanages, was already making toward a great united empire. The lack of cohesion among nearly all the states and their frequent dismemberments prevented their becoming actual nationalities. The principalities of Smolensk, of Tchernigov, of Riazan never possessed that definite historical existence so characteristic of the duchy of Brittany or the county of Toulouse in France, the duchies of Saxony, Swabia, or Bavaria in Germany.
The interests of the princes and their ambition to provide an appanage for each of their children, necessitated at the death of every sovereign a fresh distribution of Russian territory. Yet a certain cohesion was evident in the midst of these vicissitudes. There was visible a unity of race and language, the more marked, notwithstanding differences of dialect, in that the Russian Slavs, excepting in the southwest, were surrounded everywhere by entirely dissimilar peoples - Lithuanians, Tehuds, Finns, Turks, and Magyars. There was also unity of religion; the Russians were differentiated from nearly all their neighbours in that, in contradistinction to the Slavs of the west, the Poles, Czechs, and Moravians, they represented a distinct form of Christianity, acknowledging no tie with Rome and rejecting Latin as the church language.
There was also a unity of historical development, since hitherto the Russian Slavs had all followed the same destiny, had equally accepted Greek civilisation, submitted to Varangian conquest, and pursued in common certain great enterprises, such as the expeditions against Byzantium and the wars with the nomads. There was finally political unity, as among all-in Galicia as in Novgorod, by the Dnieper as in the forests of Suzdal- the same family sat upon all the thrones. All the Russian princes were descended from Rurik, from St. Vladimir, and from Iaroslav the Great. The civil wars which desolated the country affirmed anew this unity. No state in Russia could regard the rest as outsiders, when the princes of Tchernigov and Suzdal were seen to take up arms solely to decide which among them was the eldest — which held the right to the title of grand prince and to the throne of Kiev. There were descendants of Rurik who governed successively the most distant states in
Russia, and who, having reigned at Tmoutarakan on the straits of Ienikale, at Novgorod the Great, at Toropetz in the country of Smolensk, finished by obtaining recognition of their right to reign over Kiev.b
THE THEORY OF SUCCESSION
If the question be asked why the Russian state continued undivided throughout the two hundred years of the Varangian period, our answer is that it was due solely to the fact that
during the greater part of this period the grand princes left one son and heir. Whenever the case was otherwise, as after the death of Sviatoslav and Vladimir, the brothers straightway entered upon a struggle for mastery that did not terminate until all but one were destroyed. That one then became undisputed master, for no one dared dispute the possession of power with the descendants of Rurik.
The theory of succession in the Rurik family was as follows: the grand prince of Kiev was lord paramount of Russia. He disposed of all vacant principalities, and was supreme judge and general; but each of his brothers had, according to his seniority, the right of succession to the throne. The death of every elder brother brought the younger ones a step nearer to that goal. The order of advance was from Smolensk to Pereiaslavl, from Pereiaslavl to Tchernigov, from Tchernigov to Kiev. But none
could attain to the highest dignity, save him whose father had held it before him. Sons of a father who had died before reaching the goal were excluded from Kiev and were confined to the possessions in their hands at the time of their father's death. The technical Russian term for those members of the Rurik family who were excluded from the highest dignity was Isgoi, and the attempts of the Isgoi to break through the law of exclusion have had no small share in the bloody and desolate history of Russia during the period upon which we now enter. But another factor contributed to the same end. The power of the grand prince was not so predominant as to enable him to enforce his will and put down disobedience. His position was based on the idea of patriarchal power, and was respected by the princes only when it was to their advantage. To maintain himself he had to resort to the expedient of making coalitions with some of the princes against the others, and the sword was the final arbiter between the grand prince and his nominal vassals. Accordingly the whole of Russia was always divided in its support of the claims of this or that candidate. The civil wars which ensued were after all but family quarrels.a
Iaroslav left five sons. To Iziaslav, the oldest, he gave Kiev; to Sviatoslav, Tchernigov; to Vsevolod, Pereiaslavl; to Viatcheslav, Smolensk; and to Igor, Vladimir in Volhinia. The order in which they are given here represents the order of their respective dignities and their position in the line of succession. Two of the brothers did not long survive their father. In 1056 Viatcheslav died, and Igor, in accordance with the law of sucession, moved to Smolensk, where he too died in 1060.
About this time a new wave of migration set in from Asia towards the south-Russian steppe- the Turkish tribe of the Polovtsi. In 1055 Vsevolod of Pereiaslavl concluded peace with them by bribing them to retire into the steppe. In 1061 he suffered a defeat at their hands, but they did not follow up their success and again retired into the steppe. The civil wars, however, which soon broke out, were to bring them back as an evermenacing plague to the Russian population.
Among the minor princes, who were excluded from the succession, was Vseslav of Polotsk, a descendant of St. Vladimir. He had helped his uncles in a war against the Torks, a tribe kindred to the Polovtsi, and expected a reward in an accession of territory. Being disappointed, he determined to help himself. First he ravaged the territory of Pskov, but being unable to take that city, he invaded the territory of Novgorod, and it seems that for a while he was master of the city. His bold procedure compelled his uncles Iziaslav, Sviatoslav, and Vsevolod to unite against him; but, though beaten by their superior forces, he could not be expelled from the north. The uncles thereupon resorted to treachery. They proposed to him a friendly meeting under a guarantee of his personal security and liberty, which they confirmed by an oath upon the cross. But when he had reached the vicinity of Smolensk, beyond the Dnieper, he was surprised, captured, and brought to Kiev, where he was imprisoned. At this juncture the Polovtsi made another of their raids and defeated the united forces of the brothers, so that Sviatoslav was obliged to take refuge at Tchernigov, while Iziaslav and Vsevolod fled to Kiev. There they intended to await the nomad hordes behind the walls of the cities, sacrificing the open country to the invaders. But the citizens of Kiev thought differently. At a stormy meeting of the vetche it was decided to take up arms, and when Iziaslav refused to lead them against the enemy they liberated Vseslav from his confinement and made him their prince (1068). Iziaslav was obliged to flee to Poland, where he found a champion in Boleslav the Bold. Menaced in front by the Poles, and suspicious of his uncles in his rear, Vseslav thought himself obliged to flee to Polotsk, leaving the Kievans to the vengeance of Iziaslav (1069). The events of two generations previous,