The Empire of Russia eBook

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

At length Daniel, prince of Moscow, claimed independence of the nominal king, or grand prince, as he was called.  In fact, most of the principalities were, at this time, entirely independent of the grand prince of Novgorod, whose supremacy was, in general, but an empty and powerless title.  As Daniel was one of the nearest neighbors of Andre, and reigned over a desolate and impoverished realm, the grand prince was disposed to bring him into subjection.  But neither of the princes dared to march their armies without first appealing to their Mogol masters.  Daniel sent an embassador to the Mogol camp, but Andre went in person with his young and beautiful wife.  The khan sent his embassador to Vladimir, there to summon before him the two princes and their friends and to adjudge their cause.

In the heat and bitterness of the debate, the two princes drew their swords and fell upon each other.  Their followers joined in the melee, and a scene of tumult and blood ensued characteristic of those barbaric times.  The Tartar guard rushed in and separated the combatants.  The Tartar judge extorted rich presents from both of the appellants and settled the question by leaving it entirely unsettled, ordering them both to go home.  They separated like two boys who have been found quarreling, and who have both been soundly whipped for their pugnacity.  In the autumn of the year 1303 an assembly of the Russian princes was convened at Pereiaslavle, to which congress the imperious khan sent his commands.

“It is my will,” said the Tartar chief, “that the principalities of Russia should henceforth enjoy tranquillity.  I therefore command all the princes to put an end to their dissensions and each one to content himself with the possessions and the power he now has.”

Russia thus ceased to be even nominally a monarchy, unless we regard the Khan of Tartary as its sovereign.  It was a conglomeration of principalities, ruled by princes, with irresponsible power, but all paying tribute to a foreign despot, and obliged to obey his will whenever he saw fit to make that will known.  Still there continued incessant tempests of civil war, violent but of brief duration, to which the khan paid no attention, he deeming it beneath his dignity to inter meddle with such petty conflicts.

Andre died on the 27th July, 1304, execrated by his contemporaries, and he has been consigned to infamy by posterity.  As he approached the spirit land he was tortured with the dread of the scenes which he might encounter there.  His crimes had condemned thousands to death and other thousands to live-long woe.  He sought by priestcraft, and penances, and monastic vows, and garments of sackcloth, to efface the stains of a soul crimsoned with crime.  He died, and his guilty spirit passed away to meet God in judgment.

CHAPTER VIII.

RESURRECTION OF THE RUSSIAN MONARCHY.

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The Empire of Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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