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[1505 A.D.]

Relations with the German Empire began under Ivan. They commenced with the visit of the knight Poppel to Moscow; his narratives revealed Russia to Germany and he came as ambassador in 1489. Negotiations were opened for the marriage of one of the grand prince's daughters with Maximilian, the son of the emperor Frederick; but nothing came of them. The hope that it might be possible to incite the emperor against the Polish king was also frustrated, for Maximilian, who had pretensions to the throne of Hungary, made peace with Vladislav.


The last years of Ivan's life were darkened by dissensions and intrigues in his family. In 1490 died Ivan the Younger, whom Ivan had proclaimed as his co-ruler. Two parties were then formed at the court; the boyars wished to see Dmitri, the son of Ivan the Younger, and Helen of Moldavia recognised as heir; and Sophia designed her son Vasili (born in 1479) to be heir. A plot was laid against Dmitri; the sovereign heard of it, ordered the conspirators to be executed, and was greatly angered with Sophia, because he had been told that she had called in sorcerers to her aid (1497). Ivan then had his grandson crowned as his successor (1498); but soon Sophia again triumphed: a conspiracy was discovered in which were involved the princes Patrikëiev and Riapolovski; Prince Simon Riapolovski was beheaded and the Patrikëievs were forced to take holy orders. It was supposed that the plot had been directed against Sophia. From the first Ivan did not "rejoice in his grandson," and proclaimed Vasili grand prince of Novgorod and Pskov, and in 1502 he had Dmitri placed under arrest and declared Vasili his successor. The ambassadors to the various courts were given orders to explain these


Ivan died on the 27th of October, 1505, leaving a will and testament by which he bequeathed sixty-six of the most important towns to Vasili, and only thirty to his remaining sons (Iuri, Dmitri, Simon, and Andrew); Moscow was divided into parts, Vasili receiving two-thirds and the others onethird in all, but the elder was to have a share even in this third; the younger brothers were commanded to esteem the elder as a father and to leave him their inheritance in the event of their dying childless. Thus were changed the relations of the grand prince to the appanaged princes! In the treaty concluded between the brothers Vasili and Iuri during the lifetime of Ivan, Iuri calls his brother "lord," and binds himself to hold his principality "honourably and strictly."


"He sits at home and sleeps, and his dominions augment, while I fight every day and yet can hardly defend my frontiers." Such were the words, it is said, with which Stephen of Moldavia frequently characterised his daughter's father-in-law, the grand prince Ivan Vasilievitch.

The observation is a remarkable one, for it represents the first and most salient feature in the policy of the famous Russian monarch, who in himself concludes one period of Russian history and opens another. Under him Russia passes out of its condition of exclusiveness; the west learns that besides that Russia which is subject to Lithuania, there is already another Russia, independent, powerful, and self-sufficing; it is even possible that at first this power was somewhat exaggerated, but it struck contemporaries

[1505 A.D.] because it had, so to say, grown imperceptibly. It would seem that all around it, as if submitting to some fatal influence, hastened to yield to this new-born power, while Russia herself did not hasten to announce herself, but only manifested herself at the last moment when everything was already prepared for this manifestation, and when it only remained to gather the fully ripened fruits.

S. M. Soloviovh compares Ivan to the fortunate heir of a long line of careful merchants who, having amassed a considerable capital, provided their heir with the means for carrying on vast enterprises. N. I. Kostomarov's c judgment is still more severe; he denies any merit in Ivan, judges his activity by the requirements of other times and circumstances, and does not recognise in him and his descendants anything beyond their own ambitious and self-interested motives. Such views were probably called forth as a contradiction to Karamzin, who on his part, carried away by his dislike of the violence which according to him-characterised the reform of Peter, placed Ivan above Peter. The question "Lithuania or Moscow" was raised with entire firmness and determination by Ivan, for by the defence of Helen's orthodoxy and by receiving into his service the Lithuanian princes who expatriated themselves because of the persecution of orthodoxy, he became the protector of the Greek church in Lithuania and thus strove to gain influence in its internal affairs. The secular policy of Russia was thus marked out; it was also marked out by his insistence on the recognition of his title grand prince of all Russia and by his demand for the restoration of Kiev; intercourse with the west also begins with him.b

In war Ivan showed a caution which his enemies called cowardice. As behooved a prince, he conducted everything of importance himself. He exacted strict obedience, and was indefatigable in studying the thoughts and private circumstances of all important men in his kingdom, and even in foreign lands. The whole court and people trembled before his spirit and will; shy women are said to have fainted before his angry and fiery look; seldom, if ever, did a petitioner dare to approach his throne, and none of the nobles at the princely table ventured to say a word to another, or to leave his place, if the ruler, overcome by eating or drinking, happened to fall asleep and remained so for many hours. All the guests sat there dumb until Ivan awoke and gave them further orders, either to amuse or to leave him.

He was by no means prodigal of the life of his warriors; in fact, he expected to gain more from the mistakes of his enemies than others do from battles; and he knew how to incite his enemies into committing mistakes, as well as to make use of them. He had the enlargement of his kingdom as much at heart as his absolute power. He boldly projected many far-seeing plans, and sought with indefatigable zeal to realise them. After he had broken the pride of Novgorod he considered nothing impossible, and regarded his own will as the supreme command. We find no trace of his having been accessible to the petitions of his subjects, or of his granting public audience days for the hearing of their requests and complaints.

Arbitrary power over the common people became stronger and prevailed, and officials abused their power unpunished, for complainants and helpers were wanting. To enlighten the minds of his people through the study of science was not a part of his plans, perhaps because he may have thought that it is easier for the tyrant to rule over rude slaves than over a free-thinking and enlightened people. He must not be denied the merit of having raised great edifices at Moscow by means of foreign, especially Italian, architects; but vanity and love of show probably had more to do with this

[1505 A.D.]

than artistic sense and taste. The wide and majestic walls of the venerable Kremlin with its battlements and towers, secret underground passages, and fortified gates, were to serve less as objects of beauty than as means of protection against domestic and foreign enemies. Amongst the useful arts he especially favoured those of the cannon founder and silversmith; with the former he desired to terrify his enemies, and with the latter to spread the renown of his power and glory. His greatest services to the Russian state include, besides the regulation of the law code, the increase of the state revenues, partly through the conquest of new provinces, and partly through a better system of taxation, so that the government could collect a treasure for unforeseen emergencies and would become less dependent upon chance.

Thus there can be no doubt that as a prince Ivan ranks high and belongs to the number of those regents who decide the fate of their people and land for many years, and are a blessed or a cursed remembrance to posterity: but neither can it be denied that his greatness and fame lose much when we come to consider him as a man, and see the harshness of his character, his unlimited pride, his contempt of all human rights, his wild and passionate nature, and his greed of power. That he was the founder of autocracy, as modern writers assert, is not altogether his own exclusive merit, although it cannot be denied that he contributed much towards it by his shrewdness and wise moderation. When in the early days of his youth he seized the reins of government, he found much that had been prepared towards the future greatness of Russia; but Russia was still in a chaotic condition, and its forces were scattered and sunk as it were in a lethargy; they required an awakening and regulating hand, and this was principally Ivan's work. Owing to the unfortunate system of appanages, which had been the ruin of Russia for many centuries, by destroying all unity in course of time, sowing the seeds of discord, and making the Russian state an easy prey to its enemies, the idea of a common fatherland had quite disappeared; and the internal dissensions among the princes, as well as the despotic pressure of the foreign barbarians, had so deranged and disjointed it, that the praiseworthy attempts of individual grand princes could meet with no brilliant success, and it seemed as if Russia were fated to play a deeply subordinate part in the hierarchy of states.

Nevertheless those attempts were not quite lost, and the prudent might surmise that the time would yet come when they would bear fruit, once the hydra of discord had been conquered and the scattered forces had been reunited. Ivan's proceedings in this respect were certainly of a macchiavellian nature. We have seen that for twenty-three years he patiently acknowledged the rights of other Russian princes and even their independence, and that by keeping his conquests to himself and not sharing them with his brothers and the other princes, and by taking his brother's inheritance and giving none to his other brothers, he first began to consider himself as autocrat and ruler of all Russia, and thus gradually prepared the princes for a recognition of his undivided sway and their own impotency and subordi


We do not inquire as to whether the means he used for the attainment of his end deserve our approval; we will only remark that great conquerors and founders of new empires, or such as reorganise and rejuvenate old and decaying states, cannot be judged with the same standard by which wise regents are judged in regulated states. The resort to violent measures is often their highest duty, if they are to persist in their work and arrive at the aim they have imposed on themselves. From a political point of view, Ivan's harsh proceedings therefore deserve some exculpation, all the more so when

[1505 A.D.]

we consider that he lived at a time when revolutions of every kind were taking place in the states and their institutions, in the modes of thinking and in the religion of men, in the arts and sciences, the new forms often seeking to supplant the old in a violent manner; and when this change also began in Russia, where intellectual enlightenment was so rare, we should not be surprised to see the forces of brutality often gaining the upper hand over the forces of reason.

We now find ourselves at one of the most important turning points of Russian political history, when by a regulated system of succession and by the incorporation of the independent principalities with the grand principality, the Russian monarchy began to establish itself firmly and to extend its bounds; when the hitherto terrible defiance of over-powerful nobles and of princes who claimed equal rank with the grand prince submits to the restraints of a common obedience; when no more dangers threaten Russia from the side of Novgorod and the Tatars; when a regulated system of taxation, a treasury and an organised army protect the throne; and finally when science and art, the administration of justice, personal safety on the roads and in the towns, besides other blessings of peace and order, also begin to attract attention, protection, and cultivation in Russia.d


Vasili Ivanovitch succeeded his father, and continued his policy both in foreign and domestic affairs. He endeavoured to extend the frontiers of the Russian monarchy on the Lithuanian side, destroyed the independence of the last appanaged princes and the last republican township, Pskov, and strove to keep Kazan in subjection.

In his personal character Vasili resembled his father in his sterner aspect. He let his nephew, the unfortunate Dmitri, die "destitute" in prison; over his brothers he maintained a strict surveillance, not allowing his brother Andrew to marry until 1533, when he himself had already two children; with his boyars he was also stern, though there were but few executions and punishments during his reign. He preferred, in case of any suspected intention of departure on the part of a boyar, to take a written guarantee in which the security promised, in the event of departure, to pay a sum of money for those for whom he went bail. Vasili even forgave his brother Simon, who had the intention of going over to Lithuania, and only changed his counsellors. Stern on the occasion of his divorce from his first wife, Vasili was tender towards his second wife, and was very fond of his children. In general the characteristics of Vasili are most faithfully summed up by Karamzin in the following sentence: "He followed the path indicated by the wisdom of his father, without fear, without impulses of passion, moving forward with measured and prudent steps, and drew near to his aim, the aggrandisement of Russia, without leaving to his successor either the duty or the glory of repairing his faults." In the eyes of the historian this, of course, redeems the personally rather stern sides of his character, which were, however, quite comprehensible to contemporaries.1


From the very commencement of his reign Vasili found himself confronted with two questions: that of Kazan - for Muhammed Amin had risen even

'Thus the courtiers regarded it as a matter of course that he should take away from his envoys the gifts made to them by the sovereigns to whom they had been accredited.

[1506 A.D.] during the reign of Ivan and had to be subdued — and that of Lithuania. From the ambassadors whom Alexander had sent to Ivan he learned that a new sovereign was now reigning in Moscow. Having given information of this in Livonia, so that in any case the grand master might be prepared, Alexander despatched an embassy to Moscow demanding the cession of the towns that had been conquered by Ivan. The ambassadors received a firm reply from the new sovereign to the effect that he only reigned over his legitimate possessions, which he intended to retain.

Alexander saw the necessity of delay before taking a decisive line of action, of which course he informed the grand master. Meanwhile the ambassadors who had come from Moscow to announce Vasili's accession to the throne required that Alexander should not constrain his wife to change her religion. But Alexander died in 1506, and when Vasili heard of his death he wrote to his sister that she should endeavour to persuade the Polish lords and landed gentry to serve the Russian sovereign, promising at the same time to protect the Catholic faith. In answer to this first attempt on the part of Moscow to unite with Lithuania, Helen replied that Sigismund, the son of Casimir, was being chosen to the throne of Lithuania. Sigismund also sent ambassadors with the demand to return the conquered towns, and received the same reply demanding that Helen should not be constrained to adopt the Catholic faith. At this time Sigismund found an unexpected ally in the Crimean khan Mengli Girai, who having met with support in Lithuania before the death of Alexander and being dissatisfied with the Muscovite sovereign because of his expedition against Kazan, sent an embassy to Lithuania with proposals for an alliance. Sigismund promised him tribute, and Mengli Girai gave him a yarlik for the Russian territories of Novgorod, Pskov, and Riazan. Sigismund informed the grand master of Livonia of the relations with the Crimea and with Kazan and called upon him to go to war, and measures for the commencement of war were taken in the diet; but this time his allies were of but little assistance to Sigismund; Kazan submitted, while the Crimea and Livonia did not move. On the other hand, Vasili found an important ally in Lithuania itself in the person of Prince Michael Vasilievitch Glinski.

Prince Michael Glinski, the descendant of a Tatar prince that had left the horde during the reign of Vitovt and been baptised, had enjoyed great distinction and influence under Alexander. Glinski was a skilful general and a highly educated man for those times; he had spent twelve years abroad and had learned the art of war in the armies of Albrecht of Saxony during the war in Friesland and of the emperor Maximilian in Italy; he also visited Spain. In these expeditions and in his continual intercourse with western kings and princes, Glinski had adopted all the German customs and had become penetrated with the civilisation of the west. When he returned to Lithuania, Glinski gained the favour and confidence of King Alexander, who raised him to the dignity of court marshal and so increased his possessions that, according to the hyperbolical expression of a Polish historian, he owned almost half of the entire Lithuanian principality and stood at the head of the numerous Russian party amongst the Lithuanian lords. It was for this reason that at the death of Alexander the Lithuanian party hastened to choose Sigismund, for they feared that Glinski might obtain the throne of the grand principality and transfer the centre from Lithuania to Russia.

When Sigismund came to the throne he showed an offensive coldness to Glinski, and paying no attention to his complaints against the lords who were at enmity with him, at the head of whom was Zaberezhsky, he left for Poland. Glinski thereupon decided to obtain satisfaction on his own account; he

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