A Short History of Russia eBook

Mary Platt Parmele
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 177 pages of information about A Short History of Russia.

Ivan III. was not a warrior Prince like his great progenitors at Kief.  It was even suspected that he lacked personal courage.  He rarely led his armies to battle.  His greatest triumphs were achieved sitting in his palace in the Kremlin; and his weapons were found in a cunning and far-reaching diplomacy.  He swept away the system of appanages, and one by one effaced the privileges and the old legal and judicial systems in those Principalities which were not yet entirely absorbed.  While maintaining an outward respect for Mongol authority, and while receiving its friendly aid in his attacks upon Novgorod and Lithuania, he was carefully laying his plans for open defiance.  He cunningly refrained from paying tribute and homage on the pretense that he could not decide which of the five was lawful Khan.

In 1478 an embassy arrived at Moscow to collect tribute, bringing as the symbol of their authority an image of the Khan Akhmet.  Ivan tore off the mask of friendship.  In a fury he trampled the image under his feet and (it is said) put to death all except one whom he sent back with his message to the Golden Horde.  The astonished Khan sent word that he would pardon him if he would come to Sarai and kiss his stirrup.

At last Ivan consented to lead his own army to meet that of the enraged Khan.  The two armies confronted each other on the banks of the Oka.  Then after a pause of several days, suddenly both were seized with a panic and fled.  And so in this inglorious fashion in 1480, after three centuries of oppression and insult, Russia slipped from under the Mongol yoke.  There were many Mongol invasions after this.  Many times did they unite with Lithuanians and Poles and the enemies of Russia; many times were they at the gates of Moscow, and twice did they burn that city—­excepting the Kremlin—­to the ground.  But never again was there homage or tribute paid to the broken and demoralized Asiatic power which long lingered about the Crimea.  There are to-day two millions of nomad Mongols encamped about the south-eastern steppes of Russia, still living in tents, still raising and herding their flocks, little changed in dress, habits, and character since the days of Genghis Khan.  While this is written a famine is said to be raging among them.  This is the last remnant of the great Mongol invasion.

In 1487 Ivan marched upon Kazan.  The city was taken after a siege of seven weeks.  The Tsar of Kazan was a prisoner in Moscow and “Prince of Bulgaria” was added to the titles of Ivan III.

[1] From the word knot.

CHAPTER X

GRAND PRINCE BECOMES TSAR

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A Short History of Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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