From 1304 to 1380.
Defeat of Georges and the Tartars—Indignation of the Khan.—Michel Summoned to the Horde.—His Trial and Execution.—Assassination of Georges.—Execution of Dmitri.—Repulse and Death of the Embassador of the Khan.—Vengeance of the Khan.—Increasing Prosperity of Russia.—The Great Plague.—Supremacy of Simon.—Anarchy in the Horde.—Plague and Conflagration.—The Tartars Repulsed.—Reconquest of Bulgaria.—The Great Battle of Koulikof.—Utter Rout of the Tartars.
The Tartars, now fierce Mohammedans, began to oppress severely, particularly in Kief, the Christians. The metropolitan bishop of this ancient city, with the whole body of the clergy, pursued by persecution, fled to Vladimir; and others of the Christians of Kief were scattered over the kingdom.
The death of Andre was as fatal to Russia as had been his reign. Two rival princes, Michel of Tver, and Georges of Moscow, grasped at the shadow of a scepter which had fallen from his hands. In consequence, war and anarchy for a long time prevailed. At length, Michel, having appealed to the Tartars and gained their support, ascended the frail throne. But a fierce war now raged between Novgorod and Moscow. In the prosecution of this war, Georges obtained some advantage which led Michel to appeal to the khan. The prince of Moscow was immediately summoned to appear in the presence of the Tartar chieftain. By the most ignoble fawning and promises of plunder, Georges obtained the support of the khan, and returning with a Tartar horde, cruelly devastated the principality of his foe. Michel and all his subjects, roused to the highest pitch of indignation, marched to meet the enemy. The two armies encountered each other a few leagues from Moscow. The followers of Michel, fighting with the energies of despair, were unexpectedly successful, and Georges, with his Russian and Tartar troops, was thoroughly defeated.
Kavgadi, the leader of the Tartar allies of Georges, was taken prisoner. Michel, appalled by the thought of the vengeance he might anticipate from the great khan, whose power he had thus ventured to defy, treated his captive, Kavgadi, with the highest consideration, and immediately set him at liberty loaded with presents. Georges, accompanied by Kavgadi, repaired promptly to the court of the khan, Usbeck, who was then encamped, with a numerous army, upon the shores of the Caspian Sea. Soon an embassador of the khan arrived at Vladimir, and informed Michel that Usbeck was exasperated against him to the highest degree.
“Hasten,” said he, “to the court of the great khan, or within a month you will see your provinces inundated by his troops. Think of your peril, when Kavgadi has informed Usbeck that you have dared to resist his authority.”
Terrified by these words, the nobles of Michel entreated him not to place himself in the power of the khan, but to allow some one of them to visit the horde, as it was then called, in his stead, and endeavor to appease the wrath of the monarch.