The reign of Vsevelod was cotemporaneous with the conquest of Constantinople by the crusaders. The Latin or Roman church thus for a season extended its dominion over the Greek or Eastern church. The French and Venetians; robbed the rich churches of Constantine of their paintings, statuary, relics and all their treasures of art. The Greek emperor himself fled in disguise to Thrace.
The Roman pontiff, Innocent III., deeming this a favorable moment to supplant the Greek religion in Russia, sent letters to the Russian clergy, in which he said:
“The religion of Rome is becoming universally triumphant. The whole Grecian empire has recognized the spiritual power of the pope. Will you be the only people who refuse to enter into the fold of Christ, and to recognize the Roman church as the ark of salvation, out of which no one can be saved? I have sent to you a cardinal; a man noble, well-instructed, and legate of the successors of the Apostles. He has received full power to enlighten the minds of the Russians, and to rescue them from all their errors.”
This pastoral exhortation was entirely unavailing. The bishops and clergy of the Russian church still pertinaciously adhered to the faith of their fathers. The crusaders were ere long driven from the imperial city, and the Greek church again attained its supremacy in the East, a supremacy which it has maintained to the present day.
THE GRAND PRINCES OF VLADIMIR, AND THE INVASION
OF GENGHIS KHAN.
From 1212 to 1238.
Accession of Georges.—Famine.—Battle
of Lipetsk.—Defeat of
Georges.—His Surrender.—Constantin Seizes the Scepter.—Exploits of
Mstislaf.—Imbecility of Constantin.—Death of Constantin.—Georges
III.—Invasion of Bulgaria.—Progress of the Monarchy.—Right of
Succession.—Commerce of the Dnieper.—Genghis Khan.—His Rise and
Conquests.—Invasion of Southern Russia.—Death of Genghis
Khan.—Succession of his Son Ougadai.—March of Bati.—Entrance into
Russia.—Utter Defeat of the Russians.
Moscow was the capital of a province then called Souzdal. North-west of this province there was another large principality called Vladimir, with a capital of the same name. North of these provinces there was an extensive territory named Yaroslavle. Immediately after the death of Vsevolod, a brother of the deceased monarch, named Georges, ascended the throne with the assent of all the nobles of Souzdal and Vladimir. At the same time his brother Constantin, prince of Yaroslavle, claimed the crown. Eager partizans rallied around the two aspirants. Constantin made the first move by burning the town of Kostroma and carrying off the inhabitants as captives. Georges replied by an equally sanguinary assault upon Rostof. Such, war has ever been. When princes quarrel, being unable to strike each other, they wreak their vengeance upon innocent and helpless villages, burning their houses, slaying sons and brothers, and either dragging widows and orphans into captivity or leaving them to perish of exposure and starvation.