Vassali received the city of Vologda in appanage, to which he retired, with his family, and with the nobles and bishops who still adhered to him. But a few months had passed ere he, with his friends, had enlisted the cooeperation of many princes, and especially of the Tartar horde, and was on the march with a strong army to drive Chemyaka from Moscow. Chemyaka, utterly discomfited, fled, and Moscow fell easily into the hands of Vassali the blind.
Anguish of body and of soul seems now to have changed the nature of Vassali, and with energy, disinterestedness and wisdom undeveloped before, he consecrated himself to the welfare of his country. He associated with himself his young son Ivan, who subsequently attained the title of the Great. “But Chemyaka,” writes Karamsin, “still lived, and his heart, ferocious, implacable, sought new means of vengeance. His death seemed necessary for the safety of the state, and some one gave him poison, of which he died the next day. The author, of an action so contrary to religion, to the principles of morality and of honor, remains unknown. A lawyer, named Beda, who conveyed the news of his death to Moscow, was elevated to the rank of secretary by the grand prince, who exhibited on that occasion an indiscreet joy.” On the 14th of March, 1462, Vassali terminated his eventful and tumultuous life, at the age of forty-seven. His reign was during one of the darkest periods in the Russian annals. Life to him, and to his cotemporaries, was but a pitiless tempest, through which hardly one ray of sunshine penetrated. It was under his reign that the horrible punishment of the knout was introduced into Moscow, a barbaric mode of scourging unknown to the ancient Russians. Fire-arms were also beginning to be introduced, which weapons have diminished rather than increased the carnage of fields of battle.
THE ILLUSTRIOUS IVAN III.
From 1462 to 1480.
Ivan III.—His Precocity and Rising Power.—The
Hordes.—Russian Expedition Against Kezan.—Defeat of the
Tartars.—Capture of Constantinople by the Turks.—The Princess
Sophia.—Her Journey to Russia, and Marriage with Ivan
III.—Increasing Renown of Russia.—New Difficulty with the
Horde.—The Tartars Invade Russia.—Strife on the Banks of the
Oka.—Letter of the Metropolitan Bishop.—Unprecedented
Panic.—Liberation of Russia.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, Constantinople was to Russia what Paris, in the reign of Louis XIV., was to modern Europe. The imperial city of Constantine was the central point of ecclesiastical magnificence, of courtly splendor, of taste, of all intellectual culture. To the Greeks the Russians were indebted for their religion, their civilization and their social culture.
[Footnote 4: Karamsin, vol. ix., p. 436.]