The city of Novgorod, capital of the extensive and powerful province of the same name, was some seven hundred miles north of Kief. It was not more than half that distance west of Moscow. The inhabitants were weary of anarchy and blood, and anxious to throw themselves into the arms of any prince who could secure for them tranquillity. The fruit was ripe and was ready to drop into the hands of Georgievitch. He sent word to the Novgorodians that he had decided to take their country under his protection—that he had no wish for war, but that if they manifested any resistance, he should subdue them by force of arms. The Novgorodians received the message with delight, rose in insurrection, and seized their prince, who was the oldest son of Rostislaf, imprisoned him, his wife and children, in a convent, and with tumultuous joy received as their prince the nephew of Georgievitch. Rostislaf was so powerless that he made no attempt to avenge this insult. Davidovitch made one more desperate effort to obtain the throne. But he fell upon the field of battle, his head being cleft with a saber stroke.
MSTISLAF AND ANDRE
From 1167 to 1212.
Centralization of Power at Kief.—Death of Rostislaf.—His Religious Character.—Mstislaf Ysiaslavitch Ascends the Throne.—Proclamation of the King.—Its Effect.—Plans of Andre.—Scenes at Kief.—Return and Death of Mstislaf.—War in Novgorod.—Peace Concluded Throughout Russia.—Insult of Andre and its Consequences.—Greatness of Soul Displayed by Andre.—Assassination of Andre.—Renewal of Anarchy.—Emigration from Novgorod.—Reign of Michel.—Vsevolod III.—Evangelization of Bulgaria.—Death of Vsevolod III.—His Queen Maria.
The prince of Souzdal watched the progress of events in occidental Russia with great interest. He saw clearly that war was impoverishing and ruining the country, and this led him to adopt the most wise and vigorous measures to secure peace within his own flourishing territories. He adopted the system of centralized power, keeping the reins of government firmly in his own hands, and appointing governors over remote provinces, who were merely the executors of his will, and who were responsible to him for all their acts. At Kief the system of independent apanages prevailed. The lord placed at the head of a principality was an unlimited despot, accountable to no one but God for his administration. His fealty to the king consisted merely in an understanding that he was to follow the banner of the sovereign in case of war. But in fact, these feudal lords were more frequently found claiming entire independence, and struggling against their nominal sovereign to wrest from his hands the scepter.