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.
THE REIGN OF VASSILI
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, 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.”