Armies were gathering in all directions to march upon Georges. He was now an old man, weary of war, and endeavored to bribe his foes to peace. He was, however, unsuccessful, and found it to be necessary again to lead his armies into the field. It was the 20th of March, 1157, when Georges, entering Kief in triumph, ascended the throne. On the 1st of May he dined with some of his lords. Immediately after dinner he was taken sick, and, after languishing a fortnight in ever-increasing debility, on the 15th he died.
The inhabitants of Kief, regarding him as an usurper, rejoiced at his death, and immediately sent an embassage to Davidovitch, prince of Tchernigof, a province about one hundred and fifty miles north of Kief, inviting him to hasten to the capital and seize the scepter of Russia.
Kief, and all occidental Russia, thus ravaged by interminable wars, desolated by famine and by flame, was rapidly on the decline, and was fast lapsing into barbarism. Davidovitch had hardly ascended the throne ere he was driven from it by Rostislaf, whom Georges had dethroned. But the remote province of Souzdal, of which Moscow was the capital, situated some seven hundred miles north-east of Kief, was now emerging from barbaric darkness into wealth and civilization. The missionaries of Christ had penetrated those remote realms. Churches were reared, the gospel was preached, peace reigned, industry was encouraged, and, under their influence, Moscow was attaining that supremacy which subsequently made it the heart of the Russian empire.
The inhabitants of Kief received Rostislaf with demonstrations of joy, as they received every prince whom the fortunes of war imposed upon them, hoping that each one would secure for their unhappy city the blessings of tranquillity. Davidovitch fled to Moldavia. There was then in Moldavia, between the rivers Pruth and Sereth, a piratic city called Berlad. It was the resort of vagabonds of all nations and creeds, who pillaged the shores of the Black Sea and plundered the boats ascending and descending the Danube and the Dnieper. These brigands, enriched by plunder and strengthened by accessions of desperadoes from every nation and every tribe, had bidden defiance both to the grand princes of Russia and the powers of the empire.
Eagerly these robber hordes engaged as auxiliaries of Davidovitch. In a tumultuous band they commenced their march to Kief. They were, however, repulsed by the energetic Rostislaf, and Davidovitch, with difficulty escaping from the sanguinary field, fled to Moscow and implored the aid of its independent prince, Georgievitch. The prince listened with interest to his representations, and, following the example of the more illustrious nations of modern times, thought it a good opportunity to enlarge his territories.