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The Empire of Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 503 pages of information about The Empire of Russia.

CHAPTER XXXI.

Nicholas.

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.

CHAPTER I.

PARENTAGE AND BIRTH OF RUSSIA.

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.

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