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[1500 A.D.]

Ladoga, and Dvina countries. During the summer of 1589 they came from Caianie to pillage the lands belonging to the convents of Sklovetzk, Petchensk, Kola, Kereta, and Kovda, seizing as booty more than half a million of silver roubles in cash. In engaging the king to make concessions, the czar spoke to him of his great allies, the emperor and the shah. But John answered ironically: "I am delighted to see you now know your weakness and wait

for help from others. We shall see what kind of aid our relation Rudolph will give you. As for ourselves, we do not need allies to finish you off." Notwithstanding this insolence, John asked for a third interview with the ambassadors. But Feodor declared to him that neither peace nor a truce was wanted unless the Swedes would yield, besides the lands belonging to Novgorod which they had invaded, Revel and all Esthonia. In short, Russia declared war.


Up to that time, Godunov had only shone by his genius in interior and exterior politics. Always prudent and inclined to peace, not warlike nor aspiring to glory through arms, he yet wished to prove that his love of peace did not arise from cowardice on this occasion when, without being ashamed or failing in the sacred use of power, bloodshed could not be avoided. To fulfil this duty he employed every means necessary to ensure success. He put on the field (if one can credit official documents of the time) nearly three hundred thousand fighters, infantry and cavalry, with three hundred pieces of artillery. All the boyars, all the czarevitches (Muhammed, Koul of Siberia, Rouslanei son of Kaiboula, and Ouraze Magmet of the Kirghiz), the voyevods of countries near and far, towns and hamlets where they lived in quiet, were obliged to be at a certain time under the royal flag; for the pacific Feodor, having left-not without regret his religious occupations, himself headed his army. This was just what Godunov needed to animate the troops and hinder senseless disputes among the principal dignitaries concerning ancient lineage and precedence.

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Prince Feodor Mstislavski commanded the grand army; the advance guard was under Prince Dmitri Khvorostinin, a voyevod distinguished for talent and courage. Godunov and Feodor Romanov-Turiev (descended from the illustrious Philarete), the czar's second cousin, were combined with him under the title court voyevods. The czarina Irene followed her husband from Moscow as far as Novgorod, where the monarch assigned the destination of the troops. He ordered some to march to Flanders beyond the Neva; others

[1590 A.D.] to Esthonia as far as the coast; he himself at the head of the principal army set out on the 18th of January, 1590, against Narva. It was a hard campaign on account of the severe cold, but distinguished by the zeal of the troops. The Russians marched to retake what was theirs, and, on the 27th of January, seized Jama. Twenty thousand Swedes, as many cavalry as infantry, commanded by Gustav Banér, met Prince Dmitri Khvorostinin near Narva, but were defeated and driven back into the town, which was full of people but destitute of provisions. That was why Banér, having left the necessary number of soldiers in the fortress, fled during the night and went to Vesemberg, pursued by the Russian Asiatic cavalry, and left all his baggage and artillery. Among the prisoners were several Swedes of dis


On the 4th of February the Russians besieged Narva, and having managed by a vigourous bombardment to make three breaches demanded a submission. The commander, Charles Horn, called them on to the assault and valiantly repulsed the enemy. The voyevods Saburov and Prince Ivan Tokmakov, as well as certain boyar children, Strelitz, and Mordiren, and Tcherckess women and soldiers perished in the breach. Nevertheless, this affair, however brilliant for the Swedes, could not save the town: the cannonade did not cease; walls were tottering and the Russian troops prepared for a new assault on the 21st of February. Even at this epoch the Russians. ravaged Esthonia without opposition as far as Revel, and in Finland as far as the Abo, for King John had more pride than forces. Then negotiations were opened. Russia demanded Narva and all Esthonia in return for peace from the Swedes; but the czar, "yielding to the Christian insistance of Godunov," as it is said in official documents, contented himself with re-establishing the former frontier.

On the 22nd of February Horn, in the king's name, concluded a peace for one year, yielding the czar Jama, Ivangorod, and Koporie, with all stores and war ammunition. It was agreed to fix the fate of Esthonia at a nearby meeting of Russians and Swedes, by promising to yield to Russia even Karelia, Narva, and other Esthonian towns. Russia gained in glory by her moderation. Feodor, after leaving the voyevods in the three fortresses taken, hastened to return to Novgorod and his wife, and go thence with her to Moscow to celebrate a victory over those same European powers with which his father, doubtful of his military skill, had warned him not to engage. The clergy, headed by the cross, came to meet the sovereign outside the town; and the metropolitan, Job, in a pompous discourse compared him to Constantine the Great and Vladimir, according him thanks in the name of country and church for having driven the infidels from the heart of Holy Russia, also for having re-established the altars of the true God in the town of Ivan III and in the old Slav possessions of Ilmen.

Soon Swedish perfidy gave new and important success to the arms of the pacific Feodor. King John, accusing Horn of cowardice, declared that the convention signed by him was incriminating. He reinforced his troops in Esthonia, and sent two seigneurs, lieutenants from Upsala and Vestergöt, to the mouths of the Plusa, there to have an interview with Prince Feodor Mstislavski and a member of the Pissemski council, not to give Esthonia to Russia, but to exact that Jama, Ivangorod, and Koporie should be returned. At this news not only Feodor's ambassadors but even the Swiss soldiers showed their discontent. Ranged on the other side of the Plusa they called on the Russians, but Russia desired no more slaughter, and they forced their plenipotentiaries to forego their pretentions, so that nothing but peace was

[1590 A.D.] sought and they ended by consenting to yield all Karelia to Russia. But she insisted on having Narva, and the ambassadors separated.

That same night the Swiss general, Joran Boyé, treacherously besieged Ivangorod whilst the terms of the Narva convention had not yet expired. But the intrepid voyevod Ivan Saburov completely defeated by a vigourous sortie not only General Boyé but the duke of Sudermania joined with him. The principal Moscow army was at Novgorod but was not in time to help. They found the fortress already delivered and saw only from a distance the enemy fleeing.d


It was Boris Godunov, to whom his contemporaries give the title Lieutenant of the Empire, who in reality introduced into it the attachment of serfs to the soil. Up till then the peasants, using and abusing the faculty of passing from one estate to another, had changed masters on every occasion; and many were the inconveniences which resulted, notably this that they accustomed themselves to no given situation with its climate, men, and accessories, were not attached to the ground, and remained strangers to the locality they inhabited. Boris was besieged with the landowners' complaints on this subject, and saw, besides, that the cultivators themselves, frequently deceived in their hope of finding a better landlord, would then abandon themselves to discouragement; and this engendered poverty, increased the number of vagabonds and the lowest classes, and caused numerous habitations, well suited to shelter field-labourers, to be deserted, become dilapidated, and fall into ruin. Boris had favoured agriculture by releasing the peasants on the czar's estates, and perhaps those on his own, from the tax. His intentions were doubtless benevolent: his aim was to unite the labourers and the landlords as by a family tie, and to augment the well-being of both, by establishing between them an indissoluble community of interest to their mutual advantage. It was in this hope that he instituted the law of 1592 or 1593, by which the peasant's undisputed right to liberty of removal (vykhod) was suppressed.

We may, however, believe that Boris had still another motive. In a country of the extent of Russia and administered as she was, the government had some difficulty in keeping up direct relations with the peasants who were bound to pay it the tax and to provide for the recruiting of the army, which had recently been transformed like the rest. The government was then very glad to avail itself of the nobles as intermediaries and enlightened executors of its orders. Consequently it made them its delegates for the administration and police, an arrangement which simplified the machinery; and the nobles, acting in their own most apparent interests, must have afterwards pushed matters to extremes. However that may be, the peasants were now inscribed in review books and forbidden to go away from their commune except by the authority of their lord. In spite of the discontent which this measure produced, it was further strengthened by the ukase of the 21st of November, 1597, relative to fugitive peasants, of which there were a great number in consequence of these legal prescriptions, so evidently contrary to the temperament and genius of the nations. Those who had hired themselves out for a certain time were forbidden to redeem themselves from the effects of this new régime, even by reimbursing the sum stipulated as the price of hire. What was more, these peasants who had disposed of their persons by contract were not the only ones affected by these laws of oppres

[1590 A.D.]

sion: they touched even the freemen who, without having signed any engagement, happened to be in the service of the landlords. If they had been there for more than three months, they were obliged to remain permanently, and where their time of service was not so long all they gained was the power of choosing between the last lord and another, but always renouncing the right of being their own masters. A new ukase ordained that all boyars, princes, nobles, the military and legal classes, etc., should present, on account of the individuals in their service, present or in the course of flight, their letters of serfdom, in order to have them inscribed in the registers of the chamber for the regulation of serfs.

The measure once taken, Godunov, who wished to be agreeable to the mass of the rural proprietors, gave it all the extension possible; still, at the same time he declared the emancipated to be free forever, as well as their wives and their children; this last, however, was a very feeble amelioration of an evidently iniquitous law, which did not fail to produce extreme indignation in the whole rural population. In various places the peasants protested by flight against the tyranny exercised over them by a power whose despotism had never gone so far. Want was doubtless not long in bringing the greater part back to their abandoned homes, or they were constrained to return by armed force; but St. George's day, the date when this law of enslavement was put into execution, was graven in their memories as a day of ill-omen; the people have never pardoned it for its disgrace and will perhaps continue to curse it, although the day of reparation is come at last. But the peasant was not the only one to suffer; the great number of men in flight gave occasion to a thousand ruinous suits between landowners; they accused each other of offering an asylum to the fugitives and of keeping them in concealment. The evil was so great, says the historian upon whose narratives ours is based, that Boris, though unwilling to abolish a law passed from good motives, decided at least to declare that it should be only temporary, and, by an ukase of the 21st of November, 1601, he authorised the peasants of boyars' children, and of other nobles of the secondary classes, to return, within a fixed period, from one proprietor to another of the same rank; not more than two at a time, however, and exception being made of the Moscow district. On the other hand, he ordered the peasants belonging to the boyars and other great nobles, and those of the crown, the bishoprics, and the convents, not to stir during this same year 1601, but to remain in their respective habitations. Karamzin adds that the sensation produced by all this was such that Boris was personally affected by it. It is asserted, he says, that the abolition of the old régime and the uncertainty of the new, a source of discontent to so many, exercised a great influence over the fate of the unfortunate Godunov. In the end he seems to have left the matter in suspense, and it was Prince Chuïski who, raised to the throne under the name of Vasili (V) Ivanovitch, consummated the social revolution we are speaking of, by his ukase of the 9th of March, 1607, confirming that of 1593 and, in addition, laying down the penalties to be inflicted on whoever should give asylum to the fugitives. The lot was cast- the peasant had lapsed into a serf attached to the soil.e


Boris desired above all things to be feared, but he did not disdain a certain amount of popularity for his family; and he left no means untried to render his sister Irene dear to the Russian people. All rigourous measures were executed in the name of the czar, and by order of the regent; but acts

[1591 A.D.] of clemency and favours of every kind were ascribed to the intercession of the czarina Irene, who, indeed, was always a docile instrument in the hands of her brother. She acted and thought only in obedience to his inspirations, blending with great simplicity of heart her respect and admiration of Boris with the passionate love which she felt for Feodor.

The intimidated boyars were reduced to silence. Dmitri, still a child, could cause no apprehension; but his mother, the czarina-dowager, Maria Féodorovna, and his three uncles, Michael, Gregory, and Andrew Nagoi, might perhaps attempt to avail themselves of their alliance with the reigning family. Boris therefore banished them to the town of Uglitch, which had been assigned as an appanage to young Dmitri by the will of Ivan; and, under the pretext of intrusting them with the education of the czarevitch, he kept them there in a kind of exile.

At Uglitch, in 1591, Dmitri, at ten years of age, had his little court-his jiltsy (children brought up with the young princes), and his great officers, among whom the regent had doubtless introduced many a spy. The pensions of the young prince and his family were paid and controlled by a deak, or secretary of chancery, named Michael Bitiagovski, a creature of Boris; and between this functionary and the Nagoi there naturally arose frequent discussions, which increased in bitterness from day to day. Strong in the authority with which the regent had invested him, the secretary delighted to cavil at all the pretensions of the family of the czarevitch. It seemed his constant aim, by the incessant renewal of petty vexations, to make them feel that their fortune had greatly declined since the death of Ivan the Terrible. To the complaints which they laid before the czar, Bitiagovski replied by denouncing any imprudent expressions that might have escaped from the Nagoi during their exile. If we may believe the report of the secretary of chancery, the czarevitch already exhibited the ferocious instincts and cruel tastes of his father. He took pleasure in nothing, it was said, but in seeing animals beaten, or else in mutilating them with a refinement of barbarity. It is related that, one winter's day, when playing with some children of his own age, he constructed several figures of men out of the snow in the courtyard of his palace. To each of these he gave the name of one of the great functionaries of the empire; and the largest of all he called Boris. Then seizing a wooden sabre, he knocked off either their arms or their heads. "When I am a man," said the child, "that is how I will treat them." These and similar anecdotes were carefully collected and commented upon at Moscow. Perhaps they may have been invented by the agents of Boris, in order to render the Nagoi odious to the Russian nobility; or perhaps, educated as he was by servants and courtiers in disgrace, the young prince repeated only too faithfully the lessons which he was taught.

The hopes and fears occasioned by his education were, however, speedily dissipated by the sudden death of Dmitri. His end was strange, and it is difficult to say whether it was the result of an accident or of a crime. On the 15th of May, 1591, the czarevitch, whom his mother had just left for a moment, was amusing himself with four children, his pages or jiltsy, in the courtyard of his palace-a spacious enclosure which contained several separate dwelling houses, built irregularly in various parts. He was still attended by Vasilissa Volokhov his governess, his nurse, and a chambermaid. It is probable that they may have lost sight of him for a moment. According to the unanimous testimony of the three women and of the pages, he was holding a knife, which he was amusing himself by sticking into the ground, or with which he was cutting a piece of wood. On a sudden, the nurse looked

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