The banished prince thus disappointed, turned his steps to Rome, and implored the aid of Gregory vii., that renowned pontiff, who was ambitious of universal sovereignty, and who had assumed the title of King of kings. Ysiaslaf, in his humiliation, was ready to renounce his fidelity to the Greek church, and also the dignity of an independent prince. He promised, in consideration of the support of the pope, to recognize not only the spiritual power of Rome, but also the temporal authority of the pontiff. He also entered bitter complaints against the King of Poland. Ysiaslaf did not visit Rome in person, but sent his son to confer with the pope. Gregory, rejoiced to acquire spiritual dominion over Russia, received the application in the most friendly manner, and sent embassadors to the fugitive prince with the following letter:
“Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Ysiaslaf, prince of the Russians, safety, health and the apostolic benediction.
“Your son, after having visited the sacred places at Rome, has humbly implored that he might be reestablished in his possessions by the authority of Saint Peter, and has given his solemn vow to be faithful to the chief of the apostles. We have consented to grant his request, which we understand is in accordance with your wishes; and we, in the name of the chief of the apostles, confer upon him the government of the Russian kingdom.
“We pray that Saint Peter may preserve your health, that he will protect your reign and your estates, even to the end of your life, and that you may then enjoy a day of eternal glory.
“Wishing also to give a proof of our desire to be useful to you hereafter, we have charged our embassadors, one of whom is your faithful friend, to treat with you verbally upon all those subjects alluded to in your communication to us. Receive them with kindness as the embassadors of Saint Peter, and receive without restriction all the propositions they may make in our name.
“May God, the all-powerful, illumine your heart with divine light and with temporal blessings, and conduct you to eternal glory. Given at Rome the 15th of May, in the year 1075.”
Thus adroitly the pope assumed the sovereignty of Russia, and the right, and the power, by the mere utterance of a word, to confer it upon whom he would. The all-grasping pontiff thus annexed Russia to the domains of Saint Peter. Another short letter Gregory wrote to the King of Poland. It was as follows:
“In appropriating to yourself illegally the treasures of the Russian prince, you have violated the Christian virtues. I conjure you, in the name of God, to restore to him all the property of which you and your subjects have deprived him; for robbers can never enter the kingdom of heaven unless they first restore the plunder they have taken.”
Fortunately for the fugitive prince, his usurping brother Sviatoslaf just at this time died, in consequence of a severe surgical operation. The Polish king appears to have refunded the treasure of which he had robbed the exiled monarch, and Ysiaslaf, hiring an army of Polish mercenaries, returned a second time in triumph to his capital. It does not appear that he subsequently paid any regard to the interposition of the pope.