The Empire of Russia eBook

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

A few fugitives from the army of Sviatoslaf succeeded in reaching Kief, where they communicated the tidings of the death of the king.  The empire now found itself divided into three portions, each with its sovereign.  Yaropolk was supreme at Kief.  Oleg reigned in the spacious country of the Drevliens.  Vladimir was established at Novgorod.  No one of these princes was disposed to yield the supremacy to either of the others.  They were soon in arms.  Yaropolk marched against his brother Oleg.  The two armies met about one hundred and fifty miles north-west of Kief, near the present town of Obroutch.  Oleg and his force were utterly routed.  As the whole army, in confusion and dismay, were in pell-mell flight, hotly pursued, the horse of Oleg fell.  Nothing could resist, even, for an instant, the onswelling flood.  He was trampled into the mire, beneath the iron hoofs of squadrons of horse and the tramp of thousands of mailed men.  After the battle, his body was found, so mutilated that it was with difficulty recognized.  As it was spread upon a mat before the eyes of Yaropolk, he wept bitterly, and caused the remains to be interred with funeral honors.  The monument raised to his memory has long since perished; but even to the present day the inhabitants of Obroutch point out the spot where Oleg fell.

Vladimir, prince of Novgorod, terrified by the fate of his brother Oleg, and apprehensive that a similar doom awaited him, sought safety in flight.  Forsaking his realm he retired to the Baltic, and took refuge with the powerful Normans from whom his ancestors had come.  Yaropolk immediately dispatched lieutenants to take possession of the government, and thus all Russia, as a united kingdom, was again brought under the sway of a single sovereign.

CHAPTER III.

REIGNS OF VLADEMER, YAROSLAF, YSIASLAF AND VSEVOLOD

From 973 to 1092.

Flight of Vlademer.—­His Stolen Bride.—­The March Upon Kief.—­Debauchery of Valdemar.—­Zealous Paganism.—­Introduction of Christianity.—­Baptism in the Dnieper.—­Entire Change in the Character of Valdemar.—­His Great Reforms.—­His Death.—­Usurpation of Sviatopolk the Miserable.—­Accession of Yaroslaf.—­His Administration And Death.—­Accession of Ysiaslaf.—­His Strange Reverses.—­His Death.—­Vsevolod Ascends the Throne.—­His Two Flights to Poland.—­Appeals to the Pope.—­Wars, Famine And Pestilence.—­Character of Vsevolod.

Though Vlademer had fled from Russia, it was by no means with the intention of making a peaceful surrender of his realms to his ambitious brother.  For two years he was incessantly employed, upon the shores of the Baltic, the home of his ancestors, in gathering adventurers around his flag, to march upon Novgorod, and chase from thence the lieutenants of Yaropolk.  He at length, at the head of a strong army, triumphantly entered the city.  Half way between Novgorod and Kief, was the city and province of Polotsk.  The governor was a Norman named Rovgolod.  His beautiful daughter Rogneda was affianced to Yaropolk, and they were soon to be married.  Vlademer sent embassadors to Rovgolod soliciting an alliance, and asking for the hand of his daughter.

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