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©amttitrge |I|i»totiral St^txm. 





AND RUSSIA FROM 1447 to 1796 



r: nisbet bain, 

Assistant Librarian, British Museum, 

Author of Scandinavia, The First Romanovs^ Gustavus III 

and bis contemporaries, etc., etc. 

Cambridge : 

at the University Press 



The aim of this series is to sketch the history of Modern 
Europe^ with Jhat of its chief colonies and conquests, from cUfout 
the end of the fifteenth century down to the present time. In one 
or two cases the story commences at an earlier date : in the case 
of the colonies it generally begins later. The histories of the 
different countri^s^^e described, as a rule, separately ; for it is 
believed that, eXctpfin epochs like that of the French Revolution 
and Napoleon I, the connection of events will thus be better under- 
stood and the continuity of historical development more clearly 

The series is intended for the use of all persons anxious to 
understand the nature of existing political conditions. " The roots 
of the present lie deep in the past ^^ ; and the real significance of 
contemporary events cannot be grasped unless the historical causes 
which have led to them are known. The plan adopted makes 
it possible to treat the history of the last four centuries in 
considerable detail, and to embody the most important results of 
moderfi research. It is hoped therefore that the series will be 
useful not only to beginners but to students who have already 
acquired some general knowledge of European History, For 
those who wish to carry their studies further, the bibliography 
appended to each volume will act as a guide to original sources . 
of information and works more detailed and authoritative. 

Considerable attention is paid to political geography, and 
each volume is furnished with such maps and plans as may 
be requisite for the illustration of the text, 




' 'T^HIS book is, I believe, the only existing compendium, 
7 A in English, of the political history of Poland and Russia, 

/ from the middle of the fifteenth to the end of the eighteenth 
) century, when the Polish Republic disappeared from the map 
of Europe and the Russian Empire took its place as the head 
and right arm of the Slavonic world. The unfamiliarity of 
our scholars with the two leading Slavonic languages is, no 
doubt, the primary cause of this long neglect of the history 
of eastern Europe, some acquaintance with which is, never- 
theless, absolutely indispensable to a right knowledge of the 
lands which lie nearer home. 

It has been no easy matter to compress so vast and 
complicated a subject within the narrow limits of nineteen, 
necessarily brief, chapters, each one of which might very well 
be expanded into one or more volumes. The utmost that 
could be done was to present a clear and connected outline 
of the whole panorama of events, omitting nothing essential, 
giving due prominence to the human element which, after 
all, must ever be the determining factor of history, and 
throwing into clear relief, by the light of the most recent 
criticism, many murky and nebulous districts of this immense 
and hitherto but partially explored region. 

November^ 1907, 



Preface .... ... v 


I. Introductory 1-14 

II. Casimir IV, 1447-1492 15-33 

III. Ivan III and the sons of Casimir, 1462-1506 . 34-52 

IV. The rehabilitation of Poland under Sigis- 

mund I, 1 506-1 548 53-71 

V. The last of the Jagiellbs, 1548- 1572 . . 72-89 

VI. The first Elective Kings, 1572-1588 . . 90-102 
yil. Ivan IV, called The Terrible, 1 534-1 584 . 103-133 
VIII. Sigismund III and the Republic, 1 588-1632. 134-156 

IX. Boris Godunov and the Pseudo-Demetriuses, 

1584-1613 157-186 

X. The first Romanovs and Wladislaus IV, 

161 3-1648 187-210 

XI. John Casimir and the Cossacks, 1648-1669 . 211-239 

XII. The age of Sobieski, 1669- 1696 . . . 240-256 

XIII. The Precursors of Peter the Great, 1649-1689 . 257-284 



%y. y^i^jiff i^ ^kiOt^^ |6^I725> IjoUt years 

'/.y\. 'i^yt, ^v^ik '/ I'^l/tf- 1725-1741 

>^V<r f';^i/4il>-^ F-t*rwrwi, 1741-^762 

XiH, i:H)^\^f\m n, 1762-1796 , 






l<M»»»ltt, 1447 I?*/ At end 

ViAw\\i\ Aiul LitlumniA till 1569 .. . „ 

I'hIaiuI, i!;6g I7g4 „ 



From the vague indications of the ancient lyetopisi^ or 
Slavonic chronicles, it would seem .that, about the middle 
of the ninth century, what is now, roughly speaking, Russia, 
was then divided between two races, a north-western race 
paying a tribute of pelts to the Varangians or Northmen, 
and a south-eastern race paying a similar tribute to the Kozars 
or Chazars, a mixed race, living in tent-waggons, on the con- 
fines of Europe and Asia, principally along the Volga, whose 
Kagan or King was a Jew. Somewhat later, the northern 
tribes, Finns and Slavonians alike, invited the Varangian 
chieftain, Ruric, to come and rule over their hopelessly dis- 
tracted tribal communities; and with the coming of Ruric 
{circa 862) Russian history may be said to begin. Ruric 
endeavoured to curb and concentrate the tribes by building 
fortress towns; and his successor, Oleg (circa 872), extended 
the new dominion southwards, the tribes who there had hitherto 
borne the heavy yoke of the Chazars, willingly exchanging 
it for Oleg's comparatively light one. Oleg made Kiev his 
capital. Here was the best soil and the most equable climate. 
Its situation also tempted him. Kiev commanded the Dnieper, 
the easiest route to the Euxine. It also abutted immediately 
upon the vast south-eastern steppe. Thus it was an ideal 
starting-point, and resting-place, for predatory barbarians with 

B. I 

2 Introductory [ch. 

a taste for adventure. Thence, by water, Askold and Dir 
(circa 866) led the first raid of the Northmen against Con- 
stantinople. The raid failed. But in 907 Oleg himself united 
all the tribes in a military expedition against the imperial city, 
and exacted a heavy tribute ^ The subsequent expeditions 
of Igor (912-945), Oleg's successor, were less fortunate; and 
in 945 he made a perpetual peace with the Greeks. 

It is in Igor's reign that we hear, for the first time, 
of "the land of Rus," a sign that the country was growing 
in political cohesion. Christianity was also beginning to 
permeate among the Slavs. Thus the Greek historians now 
begin to differentiate the christian from the heathen Rus, 
and we hear of the Church of St Elias at Kiev. " The wise 
Olga," who ruled the Rus during the minority of her son 
Svyatoslav (945-957), was actually baptised at Constantinople 
by the Patriarch Polyeuktes, in the presence of the Emperor 
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who has left us an account of 
the ceremony ; but it was not till the eighth year of the reign 
of her grandson, Vladimir (980-1015), that the Rus were 
formally received into the Orthodox Eastern Church. Vladimir, 
after a singularly irregular and turbulent youth, seems to have 
deliberately chosen Christianity for his religion in preference 
to both Judaism and Mohammedanism, with both of which he 
had become acquainted during his numerous wars with the 
barbarians of the eastern steppe. Judaism repelled him as 
being the religion of a people without a country and there- 
fore, obviously, under the wrath of God. Mohammedanism 
was objectionable because it proscribed fermented liquors. 
Christianity, already recommendable as the faith of his grand- 
mother Olga, "the wisest of us all," impressed him by the 
majesty of its ritual. It also promised obvious political 
advantages. It was as the ally of the Greek Emperor, whose 
daughter Anne he wedded at the same time, that Vladimir 

^ From the form of the names of Olegfs fifteen ambassadors it is plain 
that the Viking element still predominated in the Russian army. 

i] The rise of Poland 3 

was baptised at Korsun in the Crimea (988). Two years 
later, the Kievlians were immersed in the waters of the Dnieper 
by Greek missionary priests. Thus the narrow strip of territory 
from Kiev to Novgorod became the nucleus of a new Christian 
State, environed and hard pressed by savage pagans, the most 
formidable of whom were the Pechenegs, a Mongolian race, 
who, some fifty years before, had annihilated and supplanted 
the Chazars. They are described by the German missionary, 
Bruno, who lived among them (circa 1007), as the cruellest 
of the heathen, and were very evil neighbours to Russia for 
generations to come. Meanwhile, another enemy had arisen 
in the West behind the Bug, now the boundary of the two 
States, in the shape of the young kingdom of Poland. 

We possess no certain historical data relating to Poland 
till the end of the tenth century. It would seem that the 
progenitors of the Poles, originally established on the Danube, 
were driven thence to the still wilder wildernesses of central 
Europe, settling finally among the forests and morasses of 
the basin of the upper Oder and Vistula, where they dwelt, 
in loosely-connected communities, as hunters, herdsmen, and 
tillers of the soil, till the pressure of rapacious neighbours 
compelled them to combine for mutual defence, and form 
the semi-mythical kingdom of the Piasts, from Piast its 
supposed founder. The Piasts wrested Chrobacya, a province 
extending from the Carpathians to the Bug, from the shadowy 
Moravian Empire, which subsequently collapsed before the 
intrusion of the Magyars, itself a capital fact in European 
history resulting in the permanent separation of the south- 
eastern from the north-western Slavs. Under Mieszko I 
(962—992), Poland nominally accepted Christianity from the 
Eastern Church, but was re-converted by the Roman Church 
at the instigation of Boleslaus I (992-1025) in order that he 
might obtain the protection of the Holy See against the per- 
sistent pressure of the Germans from the West. It was 
Boleslaus who founded the primatial see of Gnesen with 

4 Introductory [ch. 

jurisdiction over the bishoprics of Cracow, Breslau and 
Kolberg, all three of which were in territory conquered by 
Boleslaus; for, hitherto, Cracow and Breslau had been 
Bohemian cities, while Kolberg was founded to curb the 
lately subjugated Pomeranians. Boleslaus was also the first 
Polish Prince to bear the royal title {circa looo); and he 
founded an empire which extended from the Baltic to the 
Carpathians, and from the Elbe to the Bug, an empire which 
twenty years after his death collapsed before a combined attack 
of all Poland's enemies. Simultaneously a terrible pagan re- 
action swept away the poor remnants of Christianity and civili- 
sation. Under Boleslaus II (1058-1079) and Boleslaus III 
(1102-1138) some of the lost provinces, notably Silesia and 
Pomerania, were temporarily recovered, and Poland was at 
least able to maintain her independence against the ever- 
hostile Germans; but, on the death of Boleslaus III, whose 
last act was to divide his territories among his numerous sons, 
a period of disintegration (" the partitional period " of Polish 
historians) began, lasting from 11 38 to 1305, during which 
the land was divided into a dozen independent principalities, 
and lost all political significance. 

Russia and Poland first came into serious collision on the 
death of Vladimir the Great (1015), when Boleslaus intervened 
energetically to place Vladimir's eldest son, Svyatopulk, on the 
throne of Kiev. But, according to the lyetopisj\ both Rusya^ 
and Slavonya* were on the side of Yaroslav, a younger son 
of Vladimir, who may consequently be regarded as the national 
candidate. In a great battle fought on the Alta, Yaroslav 
defeated and slew Svyatopulk and became sole ruler (1019- 
1054). His long and glorious reign was very beneficial to 
Russia. He extended his sway to Lake Peipus, building the 
town of Yur'ev', later Dorpat, to secure his conquests (1030); 

^ The inhabitants of South Russia. 

2 The inhabitants of Novgorod and the North. 

* ue,y ** George's City." He was christened *' George." 

i] Family system of old Russia 5 

incorporated part of Finland; subdued the Pechenegs; and 
established an ecclesiastical hierarchy at Kiev, independent 
of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch. We hear great things of 
his stately capital enriched by the Greek trade ; of his famous 
druzhina (bodyguard) and his brilliant court; of his love of 
scholars who resorted to the learned Prince laden with MSS, 
which he helped them to translate into Slavonic; of the 
marriages of three of his daughters to the Kings of France, 
Hungary, and Norway respectively. From his reign too dates 
the first Russian civil law, the so-called Ruskaya Pravda, 

Yaroslav divided his dominions among his five sons, ex- 
horting them, on his deathbed, to look up to and love their 
elder brother, Izyaslav, whom he placed on the throne of Kiev. 
This was the beginning of that singular family system which 
differentiated the Russian Government from all the Govern- 
ments of the West, and was the principal obstacle to the 
establishment of feudalism in the east Slavonic lands. Ac- 
cording to this system, all the Russian lands, taken together, 
belonged theoretically to the members of the whole princely 
family. The senior Prince, subsequently called the Veliki 
Knyaz^ or Dux principalis^ reigned in the metropolitan city 
of Kiev; and his "younger brothers," in other words all the 
junior members of the family, deferred to him, not as 
the common sovereign, for each was autonomous in his own 
principality, but as the common father. Each member of 
the princely line might become senior in turn and therefore 
be entitled to sit on the primatial throne of Kiev. But no 
Prince could become the eldest of the line if his father before 
him had never attained to the seniority, that is to say if he, 
the father, had died while his eldest brother was still Veliki 
Knyaz, In such cases the seniority passed to the next eldest 
brother of the last Grand Duke. Such excluded Princes were 
called izgovuie^ or ** the expelled " ; and, as time went on, a 
second class of izgovuie arose, consisting of Princes who had 
been deprived of their right of seniority, often arbitrarily 

I nlrodudory [ch. 

• ''.c On the death of the senior Prince 

.1 'LMWHi immediately ensued. The next 

: .:/ Hiritallcd, or, most often, installed 

■ - J. i.ic iini%hina\ and the other principalities 

, -.' ' 'Wiling to the dignity or power of their 

0<ii(ijially, for the whole subject is very 

..;. »</ have been six principalities, Kiev, 

..... i'« Hryaslavl, Smolensk, and Vladimir 

M'/vj/orod, at first dependent on Kiev, 

. , .. i.<*.)/iiljlic of her own. As the izgmmie 

. . OMiiinions, other principalities arose, such 

• n ttit ihc Klyazma, Rostov, Suzdal, and 

...Mi'lft the end of this period (circa 1240), 

• ihmded, roughly speaking, from the 

. •', »!•«: Dnieperian steppes, and from the 

' f ■!.«. L'pper Volga. Such a system made 

J . ...'J, iudiriid, the history of this dyelnoe or 

', . . . . ., -''J," '»« Russian historians call it (1014-1240), 

.,,..ij». MTCord of internecine wars. Now and 

.. ,.i. -./.'I i/iacious figure of some valiant champion, 

\ .. .J . .. . ';'/««::? the darkling scene. Such an one was 

.;. I hrro, Vladimir Monomakh (1107-1125), 

1.'. ... . .;'•'*!/ at Salnitsa (1109) beyond the Don, 

, .,.,,■..,..; Jr.-'» l'U!»sia from the yoke of the Polovtsui, 

ii.> .,., '.<.; 'A i)i<T I'echenegs, who tormented the Russian 

i...'l ill) .1,'./ ii.< imirlves were supplanted by the Tatars. 
I i. / ,,i- < /• «i j*.j af.rendency till 1170, when it was taken 

1 (.11, Ml J,/ KiAuvt Bogolyubski, Prince of Suzdal, who 

ill. iin|."t. ' :i.j|j|.>li<'/i himself at Vladimir. From this event 
I . |.. I.' 'IhI' 'i ii.i. <l«-rline of the family system and the enmity 
I.. I. I'M il<<. Huwkie Dyetskie (Russian children), as the 
.liiiiiiiili iin// fiills) the southern Princes, and their northern 
.n.»l. Aniin.imy was first definitely established in the north 
'm \ — mltiil 111 (1176-1212), who also subdued most of the 
. niU. .luil i:iiliiii:4:(l allegiance not only to himself but to 

i] ; Effect of the Tatar invasions 7 

his children^ a significant innovation. Meanwhile the extreme 
south-western principalities, Halich and Volhynia, had gone 
their own way, and, despite the constant interference of 
Hungary and Poland, seemed about to establish new centres 
of Russian influence and civilisation at Lemberg and Vladimir 
Voluinsk. Daniel Romanovich, Prince of Halich ( 1 247- 1 26 1 ), 
is especially memorable for his prowess and enterprise. 

The terrible Tatar invasions (i 224-1 242) profoundly in- 
fluenced the fate of the Slavonic lands. Its immediate effect 
upon Poland was to introduce a middle-class element there 
for the first time. The only way of filling up the gaps in 
the population, due to the ravages of Batu, was to invite 
foreign immigrants of a superior sort, chapmen and handi- 
craftsmen capable of building strong cities and defending 
them afterwards. Such immigrants, naturally, could only be 
obtained from the civilised West on their own terms. Im- 
mediately dependent upon the Prince from whom they obtained 
their privileges, these traders soon became an important factor 
in the State, balancing, to some extent, the influence of the 
gentry and enriching the land by developing its resources. 
But these were not the only Germans with whom the young 
Polish State had now to deal. In the first year of the 
thirteenth century, the Knights of the Sword had been founded 
in Livonia to convert the pagan Letts; and in 1208 the still 
more powerful Teutonic Order was invited by Prince Conrad 
of Masovia to settle in the district of Culm (roughly corre- 
sponding to the modern West Prussia) to protect his territories 
from the incursions of the barbarian Prussians. The Teutonic 
Order, which had just been expelled from Hungary by 
Andrew II, joyfully accepted this new domicile ; and its position 
in the North was definitely established by the compact of 
Kruszewicz (1230). A second Tatar invasion, in 1239, still 
further depressed Poland ; and, simultaneously, another enemy 
appeared on her north-eastern border — the Lithuanians. This 
interesting people originally dwelt among the impenetrable 

8 Introductory [ch. 

forests and marshes of the Upper Niemen, where they were 
able to preserve their original savagery longer than any of 
their neighbours, and foster a tenacious and enterprising valour 
which made them very formidable to all the surrounding States. 
They first emerge into the light of history at the time of the 
settlement of the Teutonic Order in the North. Rumours 
of the war of extermination, waged by the Knights against their 
near kinsfolk the wild Prussians, first awoke the Lithuanians to 
a sense of their own danger. They immediately abandoned 
their loose communal system for a monarchical form of govern- 
ment, and under a series of exceptionally capable Princes, 
notably Mendovg (i 240-1 263) and Gedymin (1315-1341), 
began an astonishing career of conquest, mainly at the expense 
of Russia, so that at the death of Gedymin the Grand Duchy 
of Lithuania, as it was now called, extended from Courland 
to the Carpathians and from the Bug to the Desna, including 
the old Russian principalities of Polock, Kiev and Chernigov. 
Indeed, at one time, it seemed as if this new, non-Slavonic, 
State was about to eclipse and absorb all the Slavonic States 
to the east and west of her. Poland just then seemed to be 
dropping to pieces. Even the urgent and reiterated exhorta- 
tions of the Popes failed to make her score of Princes unite 
for mutual defence; and, towards the end of the fourteenth 
century, it seemed highly probable that she would become either 
a dependency of the new Bohemian Empire of Waclaw II, or 
the prey of the Teutonic Knights. From both dangers she 
was saved by the valour and genius of Wladislaus I, Lokieteky 
** Span-long," so called from his diminutive stature (1309- 13 39), 
who re-united Great and Little Poland, revived the royal dignity 
(1320), and taught the Poles, on the bloody field of Plowce, 
(1332) that the Knights were not invincible. The fruits of his 
labours were richly reaped by his son Casimir III (1333-13 70), 
Poland's first great statesman, who, by a most skilful system of 
matrimonial alliances, re-introduced his long isolated country 
into the European family and gave it a beneficial rest of 

i] Russia and the Tatars 9 

37 years. A born ruler, he introduced a whole series of 
administrative and economical reforms, protected the townsmen 
(whom he admitted to the franchise) against the tyranny of 
the nobles, and added the greater part of Galicia to the 
Polish dominions. 

Very different was the fate of Russia. The Tatar invasions 
so weakened her southern principalities that, one by one, they 
submitted to the yoke of Lithuania. The current of the 
national life was now forced to flow north-eastwards instead 
of following its natural south-western course as heretofore. 
It was in the rude climate and amidst the vast virgin forests 
of the plain of the Upper Volga that the Russian Princes, 
entirely cut off from western civilisation, began with charac- 
teristic doggedness, painfully and laboriously, to build up 
again the Russian State. At first their position was desperate. 
For Some time to come they were the tributaries of the Grand- 
Khan who ruled the Golden Horde at Sarai on the Volga 
(founded 1242); Tatar Bashkaks made regular censuses of 
the taxable population ; and the pretenders to the various 
Russian thrones went personally to the Horde to receive 
their yarluiki^ or articles of investiture. Even the greatest 
of these early northern Princes, Alexander Nevsky, who 
defeated a league of the German Knights, Swedes and 
Lithuanians at the famous "Ice-Battle" on Lake Peipus 
(1242), and first established the sway of Russia over the 
Baltic Provinces, even Alexander Nevsky accepted his crown 
from the Grand-Khan Sartak. The most grinding period of 
the Tatar rule was between 1235 and 1260. Subsequently 
the grip of the Horde gradually relaxed, especially after the 
victories of the Lithuanian Princes, who pursued them into 
the very heart of the steppe. They now became as much 
the confederates as the tyrants of the constantly contending 
Russian Princes, as the Pechenegs and the Polovtsui had 
been before them. It was now (circa 1270) that the dominant 
Russian Dukes began to assume the title of Grand Dukes, 

lo Introductory [ch. 

and to aggrandise themselves at the expense of the weaker 
principalities. Vladimir, Tver, and Moscow were, successively, 
or alternately, the seats of these new Grand Dukes; while 
Novgorod, whose territories and colonies then extended from 
Lake Ilmen and the Gulf of Finland to the Arctic Ocean 
and the northern Urals, set up a quasi-independent Republic 
of its own, more or less dependent upon the Lithuanian Grand 
Dukes whom they, not unskilfully, played off against the 
Russian Princes. The ascendency of Moscow dates from 
Ivan I Kalita^ (i33o-"i339)> i^^ whose reign the Russian 
Metropolitan transferred his See from Vladimir to Moscow* 
to the great advantage of the latter city and its rulers, who 
freely employed his ecclesiastical authority to promote their not 
very scrupulous political ambition. Kalita's son Simeon Gordy^ 
(i 340-1 353) still further improved the position of Moscow, 
and was even admitted into Great Novgorod as the protector 
of that city. 

The further progress of Moscow was, for some time, 
seriously impeded by the warlike Princes of Lithuania, who, 
by now, had extended their dominions to the shores 
of the Black Sea. One of them, Olgierd, twice besieged 
Moscow (1363 and 1370) though unsuccessfully. On the other 
hand, the Golden Horde {circa 1360) split up into three con- 
tending sections, which encouraged the Grand Duke Demetrius 
of Moscow (1362- 1 389) to lead a combination of all the 
northern Russian Princes into the steppe to fight the Tatars. 
He vanquished them at Kulikovo on Don (Sept. 30, 1380), 
but paid very dearly for his victory the following year, when 
the Khan Toktamuish led a punitive expedition against 
Moscow, which he took and burned. Tver and Vladimir 
shared the same fate. But in 1395 Tamerlane treated the 
Tatars as the Tatars had treated the Russians; and during 

* Money-Bag. 

* In 1229 the Metropolitan had moved from Kiev to Vladimir. 
» The Proud. 

i] Predominance of Moscow 1 1 

the next twelve years the Horde was too feeble to extort 
the usual tribute. But now Witowt, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 
seized upon Smolensk and other Russian territory; and the 
Grand Duke Vasily I of Moscow (i 389-1 425) was glad to make 
an ally of his rival by marrying his daughter Sophia. Vasily I's 
son and successor, Vasily II Temny^ (1425-1462), suffered 
greatly at the hands of the Tatars, who worried him perpetually 
and burnt and blackmailed Moscow in 1444. But he suffered 
still more from his rebellious magnates, who blinded and deposed 
him (1446). The same year he was restored to his throne 
by the clergy and people, and devoted the remainder of his 
long reign to gathering together under one sceptre all the 
northern and central Russian lands, a process which began 
with the incorporation of Mozhaisk in 1454 and ended with 
the incorporation of Vyatka in 1459. Thus, by the middle 
of the fifteenth century, the political life of north-eastern 
Russia had concentrated in and around Moscow, which was 
to give its name to the new State till Peter the Great converted 
Moscovy into Russia. South-western Russia meanwhile had 
been merged in another great Slavonic State, whose exist- 
ence also dates from the fifteenth century — the century which 
saw the collapse of mediaevalism and the beginning of the 
nationalities of modern Europe. 

For nearly twenty years after the death of Casimir the 
Great (i 370-1 386) Poland was, technically, part of the vast 
Hungarian Empire of the Angevins, but, in 1383, Jadwiga, 
the youthful granddaughter of Wladislaus Lokietek, and the 
niece of Casimir the Great, was elected Queen by the Poles. 
In 1386 she was married to Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 
who, three days previously, had been baptised and crowned 
King of Poland at Cracow, under the title of Wladislaus II. 
The union of Poland and Lithuania, as two independent 
States under a common King, had been brought about by 
their common fear of the Teutonic Order. But the trans- 
1 The Blind. 

1 2 Introductory [ch. 

formation of the pagan Lithuanian chieftain into a Catholic 
King was a serious blow to the Knights also. The inevitable 
and immediate consequence of this great event was the formal 
reception of the Lithuanian nation into the fold of the Church. 
What the Knights had vainly endeavoured to bring about by 
fire and sword during two centuries, was, nominally and 
peaceably, brought about by Jagiello in the course of a single 
generation. The conversion of Lithuania menaced the very 
existence of the Knights. Originally planted on the Baltic 
shore for the express purpose of christianising their savage 
neighbours, these crusading monks had freely exploited the 
wealth and the valour of the West, originally in the cause 
of religion, but latterly for the purpose of founding a dominion 
of their own. This dominion was now little more than a 
German military outpost, extending from Pomerania to the 
Niemen, excluding the Slavs from the sea and thriving at 
their expense. But, if the Order had now become an 
anachronism, it was still the strongest military organisation 
in Europe. The pick of the feudal chivalry composed its 
ranks ; with all Christendom to draw upon, its resources 
seemed inexhaustible; and centuries of political experience 
had made it as formidable in diplomacy as in warfare. 

In the circumstances, war between Poland and the Knights 
was inevitable. It began in 1391 and was waged with varying 
success till 1 410, when Wladislaus and his cousin Witowt 
(to whom, by the compact of Wilna, 1401, he had surrendered 
the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on the understanding that the 
two States were to have a common policy and jointly elected 
Sovereigns) inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Knights at 
Griinewald or Tannenburg (July 15), which brought about 
the surrender of the towns of Thorn, Elbing, Brunsberg, and 
Dantzig to the Polish King. But the excessive caution of 
Jagiello after the victory, the withdrawal of Witowt to oppose 
a Tatar invasion in the East, and the unruliness of the Polish 
levies, gave the Knights time to recover somewhat from the 

i] The Union of Horodloy 1413 13 

blow. At the first Peace of Thorn (Feb. 11, 141 1) they only 
ceded Samogitia and Dobrzyn and paid a war indemnity of 
100,000 marks. One important result of this war was the 
Union of Horodlo (Oct. 2, 141 3) for the purpose of binding 
Poland and Lithuania still more closely together. It enacted 
that henceforth there should be an absolute parity of the 
institutions, the official hierarchy, and the nobility of the two 
States. The Lithuanian Grand Duke was declared-to be 

the equal in all respects^'or.the Polish King and only eligible 
by the Senates of Poland and Lithuania conjointly, just as 
the King of Poland could only be elected by the Senates 
of Lithuania and Poland. The privilep fes nf thp pewly-r rpatpH 
Lithuanian nobility wer e, however, to be conditional upon their 
profession of Catholicism, experience having demonstrated that 
difference of religion in Lithuania meant difference of politics, 
the majority of the Lithuanian Boyars inhabiting the old 
Russian lands being of the Greek Orthodox confession, with 
a consequent tendency towards Moscow. 

During the remainder of the reign of Wladislaus II, the 
repeated attempts of the Teutonic Order to evade the obliga- 
tions of the Treaty of Thorn gave Poland much trouble. The 
long contest, mainly fought with diplomatic weapons at Rome 
and elsewhere, was still undecided at the death of Wladislaus 
in 1434. During his long reign of 49 years, Poland had 
gradually risen to the rank of a great power— a result due 
in no small measure to the sagacity, tact and patience of 
the first of the Jagiellos. Wladislaus had sacrificed every 
other consideration to the vital necessity of welding the 
central Slavs into a compact and homogeneous State; and 
his success had been commensurate with his efforts. The 
next ten years tested severely the stability of his great work. 
But neither a turbulent minority, nor the neglect of an 
absentee King, nor the revival of separatist tendencies in 
Lithuania, nor the outbreak of aristocratic lawlessness in Poland, 
could do more than shake slightly the superstructure of the 

14 Introdtictory [ch. i 

imposing edifice. Fortupately too, after the death at Varna, 
in 1444, of Jagiello's eldest son and immediate successor, 
Wladislaus III (whose history belongs rather to Hungary 
than to Poland), another great statesman, in no wise inferior 
to Wladislaus II, was at hand at a critical juncture, to com- 
plete and consolidate his father's work. • This was Wladislaus' 
second son, Casimir IV, with whom the modem history of 
Poland properly begins. 


CASIMIR IV, 1447-1492. 

The sudden death of Wladislaus III on the field of Varna 
(Nov. 1444) had, at first, a paralysing effect on the more 
northerly of his two kingdoms. The last letter which the 
Polish Senate despatched to the heroic young King (he was but 
twenty when he fell), and which never reached him, was full of 
warnings, entreaties and even threats. If, it declared, he did 
not return instantly, to repair the dilapidation of the realm, his 
Polish subjects would feel justified in renouncing their alle- 
giance. The ensuing three years* interregnum did not improve 
matters. The most convenient candidate for the vacant throne 
was Wladislaus* younger brother Casimir, since 1440 Grand 
Duke of Lithuania, a precociously sagacious youth of seventeen, 
who was by no means disposed to exchange an absolute sway in 
his beloved Grand Duchy, for a relatively limited authority in a 
kingdom which he had never visited. Only after exasperating 
negotiations, only after the Poles had threatened him with 
a rival in Boleslaus, Prince of Masovia, would Casimir give 
way. Then he stipulated that the disputed border provinces 
of Volhynia and Podolia should previously be adjudged to 
Lithuania (Treaty of Brezsc Litewsk, March 23, 1446), and 
even after his coronation at Cracow (June 1447) he continued 
to spend the greater part of his time in Lithuania. For the 
next seven years be quietly but steadfastly resisted all the 

1 6 Casimir /F, 1 447-1 492 [ch. 

petitions of the Polish nobles for a confirmation of their 
ancient privileges, till they threatened to form a confederation 
against him. Then he yielded his consent (Diet of Piotrkow, 
1453)^ but in such general terms as to make it of little or no 
value. Casimir's firmness had important political consequences. 
The Szlachta^ were impressed by his resolution, but they mis- 
trusted him ever afterwards as a pro-Lithuanian, and henceforth 
made it a point of honour to give him nothing gratis. 

A natural partiality for the land of his birth was, no doubt, 
partly responsible for Casimir's original reserve towards Poland ; 
but behind this partiality lay the unshakable conviction that the 
fate both of the dynasty and the dual state depended on the 
maintenance of the union. He rightly held that to this funda- 
mental principle everything else must be subordinated. Casimir 
humoured Lithuania because, at this time, Lithuania was the 
more restive and uncertain of the two political yoke-fellows. 
Wild and wayward as Poland might be, she was, nevertheless 
composed and tranquil as compared with Lithuania. Her 
population was of one race and religion. Her provincial 
Sejmiki, or Dietines, exercised some control over her turbu- 
lent gentry. She had reached a higher degree of civilisation, 
such as it was, than the Grand Duchy. In Lithuania, on the 
other hand, there were different nationalities and more than one 
religion. Samogitia was still semi-pagan; Lithuania Proper, 
thanks to the propaganda from Wilna, was semi-Catholic ; but 
the remainder of the land', five-sixths of the whole, consisting 
of subjugated Old-Russian territory, was mostly orthodox. 
Superadded to these religious and ethnological difficulties were 
strong national rivalries. Lithuania was too ignorant rightly to 
appreciate the advantages of a union with Poland, and much too 
sensitive of her past military glories to tolerate any interference 

^ On this occasion Podolia was provisionally awarded to Poland and 
Volhynia to Lithuania. 

* The generic name of the whole Polish nobility, akin to Geschlecht^ 
» See map I. 

ii] The statesmanship of Casimir 17 

from the Crown ^ in her affairs. From the first, strong separatist 
tendencies asserted themselves. The immense preponderance 
of her orthodox population drew her rather to the East than 
to the West, while her geographical position directly exposed 
her not only to the ravages but to the intrigues of the Moscovite. 
To keep the two States at one was the problem of the whole 
Jagiellonic period ; and it is the especial glory of the Jagiellos 
that they did at last succeed in welding them inseparably 
together. But it was an ungrateful, troublesome task, requir- 
ing constant watchfulness and consummate tact. Fortunately 
Casimir IV possessed both these qualities in an eminent 

In February, 1454, Casimir wedded the Archduchess 
Elizabeth of Austria, in order to perpetuate the dynasty of 
which he was now the last surviving member. The Princess 
bore him six sons, four of whom became Kings, and seven 
daughters, thus earning the title of "The Mother of the 
Jagiellos." Highly gifted, both in heart and mind, she was 
ever an excellent counsellor as well as a devoted wife and 
mother. She also warmly identified herself with all the aspira- 
tions of her adopted country, for which she was rewarded by an 
extraordinary popularity. 

Casimir shewed as much sobriety and discretion in foreign 
as in domestic affairs. A prince of a more martial temperament 
might have endeavoured to profit by the political complications 
in Bohemia and Hungary during the years 144 7- 145 8. But 
Casimir, who well understood where the proper interests of 
Poland lay, remained neutral. On the other hand, when, at 
the instigation of the Grand Duke Vasily of Moscow, the 
Tatars fell upon Bransk and Wiezma, Casimir retaliated by 
devastating Mozhaisk and blackmailing Tver. In 1450 he 
placed his' tributary, Alexander, on the Moldavian throne, 
and in 1457 he acquired, by purchase, the Silesian Duchies 
of Zator and Oswiecim. 

1 The general term for Poland during the Union. 
B. 2 

1 8 Casimir IV, 1447-1492 [ch. 

But it was towards the Teutonic Order that his attention 
was chiefly directed. 

The rout of Griinewald had severely shaken the internal 
organisation of the Teutonic Order. Everywhere else in 
Europe, except Byzantium and Moscovy, the nobility, clergy 
and townsmen possessed some share in the government of the 
country which they defended, educated, and enriched ; but in 
the dominions of the Knights these three classes remained 
without the slightest political influence. So long as the Order 
was rich and powerful enough to defend its subjects and spare 
their pockets, the gentry and the towns acquiesced in their 
political effacement. But, when the burden of taxation began 
to increase, unaccompanied by any additional benefit, the gentry 
and citizens began to look with other eyes upon the Swabians, 
Franconians and Saxons who came from the distant West, in 
monkish habits, to exploit and dominate them. The discontent 
was most violent in the province of Kulm, or Chelm, that is, 
the district lying between the rivers Vistula, Drewenca and Ossa, 
where the Polish element largely predpminated. In 1397 the 
malcontents formed a league called the Jaszczurczycy or 
Lizardites, from their adopted emblem, the Jaszczurka, or 
Lizard. At the battle of Griinewald the defection of the 
Lizards, at the crisis of the struggle, contributed as much 
as the fury of Witowt and his Lithuanians to the overthrow of 
the Knights. After the Peace of Thorn the Order recognised 
the necessity of some concessions to its subjects; and, in 141 4, 
a consultative Rada Krajowa, or Landtag, was formed, which 
gave them a limited veto they were not slow to exercise. 
In 1440 this Landtag, more and more dissatisfied with the rule 
of the Knights, formed the Prussian League, consisting of the 
Szlachta and all the towns of the Prussian Provinces ; but the 
Grand Master, Ludwig von Erlichshausen, procured a papal 
bull threatening the League with excommunication if it did 
not disperse. In its extremity the League appealed to the 
Emperor; but, when the Emperor also pronounced against 

20 Casimir IVy 1447-1492 [ch. 

control of the principal rivers of Poland, the Vistula and the 
Niemen. It meant the obtaining of a sea-board with the 
corollaries of sea-power and world-wide commerce. Casimir IV 
was justified in counting upon the ardent support of the whole 
Polish nation in such a patriotic enterprise. But all his calcu- 
lations foundered upon the narrow provincialism of the Poles 
which hampered him at every step, and retarded the incorpora- 
tion of the Prussian lands for thirteen years. To understand 
how this came about, we must first glance back, nearly two 
hundred years, to the origin of the Polish political system. 

The origin of the Polish constitution is to be sought in the 
wiece, or council, of the Polish Princes during the partitional 
period. The privileges conferred upon the magnates, of whom 
these councils were composed, revolted the less favoured 
Szlachta, or gentry, who, towards the end of the fourteenth cen- 
tury, combined in defence of their rights, in their Sejmiki, or local 
diets, of which, originally, there were five, three in Great Poland, 
one in Little Poland, and qne in Posen-Kalisch, the other Pro- 
vinces obtaining their Sejmiki somewhat later. Thus, at the 
period we have reached, Poland was a confederacy of half a 
dozen semi-independent States, with different and even con- 
flicting interests. Little Poland had for some time enjoyed a 
sort of primacy in this confederation, due partly to the superior 
wealth and importance of her capital, Cracow, which was both 
the coronation city and the seat of the Senate, or central 
executive government, and partly to the fact that her oligarchs 
had brought in the reigning dynasty and ruled in its name. 
The pre-eminence of Little Poland excited the jealousy of the 
other members of the confederacy ; but, besides that, no one 
province was bound by the decision of any other province. 
All such essential matters as taxation, military service, and so 
on, were settled by each province in its own Sejmik; the 
convocation of a Walny Sejm, or general Diet, to represent 
the whole nation, being a very unpopular^ and therefore a very 
unusual expedient. 

^ Because most of the deputies found the journey too costly. 

ii] Difficulties of Casimir 21 

Casimir IV was now to experience all the inconveniences of 
this primitive and yet complicated state of things. It had been 
arranged that the King, after receiving the homage of the 
Prussian Estates at Thorn and Elbing, should proceed to 
reduce the cities and fortresses still held by the Knights, 
beginning with Marienberg and Chojnice. For this purpose 
the pospolite ruszenie, or militia, was summoned to render 
its one obligation of military service, and take the field. 
Difficulties at once began. The only province which willingly 
responded to the summons was Great Poland, which bordered 
upon the Prussian lands and hoped to profit largely by the war. 
But even the Szlachta of Great Poland would not stir a step till 
the King had first subscribed 35 articles in their camp at 
Cerekwica, near Thorn (Sept. 15, 1454), confirming and 
enlarging their privileges. Three days later they were shame- 
fully routed beneath the walls of Chojnice, so that the King got 
decidedly the worst of the hard bargain. The process was re- 
peated with the militia of Little Poland. Their assistance was 
purchased by the articles of Nieszawa (Nov. 1454) whereby 
the King conferred on the Little Poles privileges similar to 
those conferred on the Great Poles three months previously. 
The general effect of all these privileges was to make the local 
Diets the arbiters of peace and war in future, thus weakening, 
still further, the executive government which Casimir the Great, 
alarmed at the centripetal tendency of the Szlachta^ had 
originally set up at Cracow with the Senate as its mouth- 
piece and the King as its right arm. Immediately afterwards 
(Jan. 1455) Casimir IV again crossed the Vistula at the 
head of the militia of Little Poland to besiege the fortress of 
Laszyna, and again he was compelled to retreat with dishonour, 
the Szlachta^ so strenuous in the extortion of privileges, demon- 
strating its incompetence to win battles or take strongholds. 
The natural consequence of this abortive campaign was that 
many of the Prussian towns returned to their former allegiance, 
and the King had to look about him for professional soldiers. 

22 Casimir IVy 1447-1492 [ch. 

The best mercenaries of those days were the Czechs. The 
genius of Jan Zizka in the Hussite wars had caused a revolution 
in military tactics. He had demonstrated that dense masses of 
light-armed, well trained, mobile infantry were more than a 
match for all the valour of the clumsy, undisciplined feudal 
chivalry. The Hussite soldiery soon became indispensable 
in the northern wars. Zizka's ablest pupils, men like Iskra 
of Brandeis, for instance, carved out principalities for them- 
selves and won European reputations. Hussites had fought 
on both sides at Griinewald, and now both Casimir IV and the 
Knights eagerly competed for their assistance. But, like all 
mercenaries, the Czechs could be very troublesome to un- 
punctual paymasters ; and the Knights, whose treasury was 
well-nigh depleted, were the first to experience this disagree- 
able tendency. On August 15, 1456, the Czech captain, Ulryk 
Czerwonka, unable to obtain his arrears from the Order, 
offered to surrender to Casimir the 21 towns and fortresses 
in his hands, including Marienberg, the capital of the Knights, 
for 436,000 gulden, payable in three instalments. Casimir, 
who had already expended 1,200,000 ducats on the war out of 
his private income, was almost as poor as the Knights, and 
therefore appealed to the generosity of the nation. What next 
ensued is not very creditable to the Polish Estates. The 
Szlachta first attempted to lay the whole burden on the 
shoulders of the clergy, who vigorously protested. Finally, 
after weeks of wrangling, a Sejm^ or Diet, assembled at 
Piotrkow in September, 141 6, proposed a two per cent, property 
tax, the details of which were left to the decision of the local 
Sejmiki^ to which the King had also to apply in person. The 
Sejmiki were, as usual, mutinous and obstructive. Only after 
the King, driven to desperation, had threatened to quit Poland 
altogether and bury himself in the forests of Lithuania, did 
they relent. Even when, at last, the subsidy had been 
grudgingly granted, on condition that it should be placed in 
the hands of commissioners, it proved so inadequate that 

ii] Parsimony of the Polish Diets 23 

Casimir was forced to supplement it by loans from the 
Cathedral Chapter of Cracow and other private sources. By 
these means the first instalment was finally paid by the Polish 
commissioners to Czerwonka; and on the Saturday before Palm 
Sunday, 1457, a Polish garrison was admitted into the citadel 
of Marienberg. But Casimir's humiliations were not yet over. 
Only a few days after his own triumphal entry, on Wednesday 
in Holy Week, the burgomaster of Marienberg readmitted the 
Knights ; and the King had again to go, hat in hand, to the 
Sejmiki for money to recover it. Great Poland was complacent 
enough, but Little Poland, which was well able to put 60,000 
men in the field, refused even to pay the wages of the little 
band of Czech mercenaries encamped around Cracow till they 
arose and pillaged the city. At a subsequent Sejm^ assembled 
at Cracow in September, 1459, Jan Rytwianski, Starosta of 
Sandomir, took it upon himself to lecture the King severely 
for his carelessness, incompetence, and undue partiality for 
Lithuania. He concluded by exhorting his Sovereign to play 
the man, and wage the war more successfully. To this 
blustering philippic, whose naivete was equal to its imperti- 
nence, the King drily replied that no war could be waged 
without money, and money must be found now if the war 
was to go on at all. The necessary subsidies were then granted 
without further demur. 

Marienberg was ultimately recovered, whereupon the war 
became a guerilla of raids, petty skirmishes and tedious sieges, 
which did infinitely more damage to the land than half a dozen 
regular campaigns. By this time the military incompetence of 
the Szlachta had become so manifest, that they themselves will- 
ingly voted a five per cent, land tax in commutation of military 
service, which enabled Casimir to enlist 2000 extra mercenaries 
for the relief of Danzig, then hardly pressed. The turning 
point of the war was marked by the battle of Puck (Sept. 17, 
1462), when the Czechs severely defeated the Knights, whose re- 
sistance, henceforth, visibly slackened. On September 26, 1466, 

24 Casimir IVy 1447-1492 [ch. 

the oft-besieged fortress of Chojnice fell, at last, into the 
hands of the Polish King. The superior diplomacy of 
Casimir also contributed materially to the termination of the 
struggle. The Curia had hitherto been on the side of the 
Knights. But, now (despite a serious quarrel between the 
King and the Pope as to the filling up of the See of 
Cracow, 1461-1463, when Casimir roundly declared that he 
would rather lose Poland altogether than submit to papal 
dictation), the Holy Father, from political motives, was in- 
clined to look benevolently upon so considerable a Prince as 
Casimir was, evidently, becoming. The Order also sought an 
agree:ment with its adversary through the mediation of the 
Hanseatic League; and a peace Congress was accordingly 
opened at Thorn in 1463. The Knights were now willing 
to surrender the provinces of Chelm, Thorn and Michailowo, 
and render tribute and military service for the rest. The King, 
however, claimed the whole territory as old Polish land, and 
offered to settle the Knights in Podolia, where, he added, with 
a touch of irony, they would still be able to perform their 
original mission of defending Christendom against the Tatars \ 
But the Knights, by no means relishing this proposal to ex- 
change their comfortable quarters for the naked steppes, broke 
off the negotiations and the war was resumed for three years, 
when the Order, utterly exhausted, again sued for peace. 

A second Congress, under the mediation of a papal nuncio, 
thereupon met at Thorn on September 23, 1466; and on 
October 14 the second Peace of Thorn was signed. By this 
treaty the provinces of Pomerelia, Michailowo, Warmia, Elbing 
and Marienberg passed to Poland. The remainder of the 
Knights' territory, roughly corresponding to the modern East 
Prussia, with its capital at Konigsberg, was to be an inseparable 
but autonomous portion of the Polish realm, united thereto in 

^ He had previously suggested to the Pope, much to their alarm, that 
they should, for the same reason, be transferred to Tenedos or to the 
neighbourhood of Constantinople. 

ii] The Teutonic Knights do homage to Poland 25 

much the same way as was Lithuania, with this difference : that, 
whereas the Grand Duke of Lithuania was the equal, the Grand 
Master was to be the subject, of the Polish King, holding his 
lands by military tenure and bound, six months after his elec- 
tion, to render homage to his suzerain. In all other respects 
he was to be a quasi-independent Prince. He was to occupy 
the first place in the Royal Council after the King. No war 
was to be declared or peace signed without his consent. His 
territories were to be exclusively under his jurisdiction. 
The amount of his military service was left, practically, to his 
own discretion. 

It was a proud moment for Casimir IV when, amidst the 
peals of the church bells and salvoes of artillery, and sur- 
rounded by the dignitaries of Poland and Lithuania in full 
panoply, he received in the market-place of Thorn the homage 
of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order kneeling before the 
throne. In the hour of his triumph Casimir treated the van- 
quished with princely generosity. To the Grand Master he 
gave a largess of 15,000 ducats, from his privy purse, to pay 
his starving mercenaries ; and, in view of the general misery of 
Prussia, he exempted the Order from the obligation of military 
service for 20 years. The condition of the land was, indeed, 
pitiable. It is estimated that, during the course of the war, 
1000 monasteries and churches were ruined, 18,000 out of 
21,000 villages were reduced to ashes, and 270,000 of the 
inhabitants, not including 170,000 mercenaries, perished 

It was no fault of Casimir IV's that his victory after all was 
but a half-victory. It had been his intention to incorporate all 
the Prussian lands with the Polish State, but the stress of cir- 
cumstances had compelled him to acquiesce in an unnatural and 
purely mechanical union with the secular enemies of the Polish 
nation. There could be no lasting fellowship, no community 
of political interests, between the two peoples; and presently 
religious differences were superadded, and the chasm between 

26 Casimir IV, 1447-1492 [ch. 

them became unbridgeable. Nevertheless, one half of the 
Prussian lands had been incorporated; and the economical 
advantages derived therefrom by Poland were not incon- 
siderable. She had now, moreover, a sea-board which placed 
her once more, after an interval of 300 years, in direct com- 
mercial communication with the West. She might reasonably 
hope to secure, in time, her proper share of the lucrative Baltic 
trade and lay the foundations of a Sea Power. 

The Peace of Thorn had scarce been concluded when Pope 
Paul II offered Casimir the throne of Bohemia on condition 
that he drove out the reigning heretic King, George Podiebrad. 
But Casimir, well disposed to George as being a faithful ally, 
unable to pay the Szlachta the covenanted five marks per lance 
for foreign expeditions, and unwilling to be the tool of the Curia, 
remained immovable. " I cannot understand," he said to the 
importunate papal legates, "how a crowned and anointed 
King can be deposed after this sort." The ambitious young 
King of Hungary, Matthias Hunyadi, though bound to 
Podiebrad by ties of kinship and gratitude, was less particular. 
On May 3, 1469, after winning Moravia by the Battle of 
Trebicza, he was proclaimed King of Bohemia in the castle 
of Olmiitz; whereupon Podiebrad offered the Bohemian crown 
to Wladislaus, the eldest son of Casimir IV, on condition that 
he wedded his daughter Ludomilla and reconciled the Utraquists 
with the Pope. At the same time, the Emperor Frederick IVs 
dread and jealousy of Matthias induced him to form an anti- 
Hungarian League with Casimir (Congress of Willach, 1470). 
On March 22, 147 1, George Podiebrad died, and all eyes were 
instantly fixed upon the vacant throne of Bohemia. On May 27, 
147 1, the Utraquist majority of the Bohemian Diet, assembled 
at Kuttenberg, elected Wladislaus King; and he was crowned at 
the Cathedral of St Vitus, at Prague, on August 22. But 
Matthias, who had already been anointed King of Bohemia at 
Erlau, in Hungary, by the papal legate, Roverella, and now held 
Silesia (then generally regarded as a part of the Bohemian 

ii] Casimir and Matthias Corvinus 27 

Empire) as well as Moravia, refused to withdraw his claims. 
A league was immediately formed against him, consisting of 
Casimir IV, the Emperor, the Bohemian Utraquists and the 
Hungarian malcontents ; and it seemed, at first, as if he must 
inevitably be crushed beneath the sheer weight of it. But the 
subtle genius of Matthias, ever inexhaustible in resources, 
extricated him out of all his difficulties. It is true that he did 
not succeed in ousting Wladislaus from Bohemia proper, but 
he compensated himself by seizing all the hereditary States of 
the Emperor. His chief weapon against Casimir was the 
Teutonic Order, which he took under his protection, and 
twice incited to rebel against its suzerain. He also stirred 
up the Moscovite and the Tatar against Lithuania. Wherever 
Casimir had an enemy, Matthias was sure to be behind him. 
Finally, after a desultory, intermittent war, lasting eight years, 
in the course of which Casimir tried to place his second son, 
John Albert, on the Hungarian throne, all the parties to it grew 
weary of the struggle; and peace, as far as Poland was concerned, 
was concluded at the Congress of Olmiitz, July, 1479, o^ ^ ^^^ 
possidetis basis. 

There can be little doubt that Casimir's Bohemian- 
Hungarian adventure was a mistake. For once he seems to 
have been guided by dynastic rather than by patriotic con- 
siderations. Hungary and Bohemia, even under a Jagiellonic 
sceptre, could not benefit Poland, as subsequent events were to 
demonstrate. Yet this eccentric excursion did not divert 
Casimir's attention from pressing matters nearer home. In 
particular the separatist tendencies of Lithuania were a con- 
stant source of uneasiness. For instance, so irritated were the 
Lithuanians at the provisional annexation of Podolia to Poland 
that, for a time, they meditated superseding Casimir by Simon, 
Prince of Kiev, a feudatory of the Grand Duchy. After Simon's 
death, in 1471, Casimir prevented any such contingency in the 
future by converting the principality of Kiev into an ordinary 
woiwodschaft^ or palatinate. But the chief danger to Lithuania, 

28 Casimir IV^ 1447-1492 [ch. 

tboog^ stin but a remote one, lay in the proxunity of Moscoyj; 
and Casimir did his utmost to counteract it by promodi^ the 
Catholic propaganda in the Grand Duchy. FnMu a puiely 
political point of view this was wise and just, for the complete 
union of Lithuania with Poland could only be brought about 
by gradually permeating the Grand Duchy with the superior 
civilisation of the West Such a policy logically excluded the 
counter-influence of the Greek Church, and was therefore likely 
to be very unpopular in Lithuania. But here Casimir, naturally 
tolerant and inclined to indulge the prejudices of the Lithuanian 
boyars, proceeded very warily. He would not hear of the per- 
secution of the Orthodox. But he £Eivoured the Uniate 
Churches, established in Lithuania since 1443, by placing 
them on a footing of perfect equality with the Catholics, a 
position unattainable by the Orthodox. The same care for 
centralisation and unity is the explanation of Casimir's con- 
stant refusal to appoint a viceroy over Lithuania. He alwajrs 
kept the government of the Grand Duchy in his own hands. 
Even in his old age he would not suffer his sons to represent 
him there. 

With Moscovy Casimir's relations were friendly enough 
during the latter years of the Grand Duke Vasily, who, on 
his deathbed in 1462, confided the care of his children to 
the Lithuanian Prince. This fatherly solicitude was quite 
superfluous, as the new Grand Duke of Moscovy, Ivan III, 
was eminently capable of taking care of himself, and proved to 
be a troublesome neighbour*. Casimir is sometimes accused of 
regarding the growth of Moscovy with indifference because he 
did not seriously dispute with her the possession of Great 
Novgorod. But the distant north did not really fall within 
Casimir's proper sphere of influence. Besides, what reason 
had he for apprehending the serious rivalry of an infant State 
which actually paid tribute to the very Tatar Khans, whom he, 

^ See next chapter. 

, w r.:i.«. hi.^ns, (\^ssacks, Tatars 

.. . •• "' *'■' ■'; .,v .,;».«« r.^''=^J^ Russia'; but they 

V,^ . . •' " '■ "';'■;/, .,,;:»„v«n by iho Polish chivalry 

.. ". •■ - ■' "" ".. .], „ |'n:i*v, John Albert, at Koposz- 

. .,,. ^■' ' ' ' Y' ij»»^ *'^*' Tatars a second time 

..,.;.■ ^ ''^' .,.., .mjvlU^i ihereto by Matthias, so 

. i.1,. .o '""'' ' '[ l^j.j, :, ,UMih on April 6, the same 

;,„ ,..?.Ms.- ''^ ^'J" 'IinV.u t»^^* ^'^^"""^ °^ Cracow. 

^..r. Tv"'''' "".!, *y of (\»>innV IVthat t^he^^/j^^^^ 

^ ,. .iMT'tn: ^^'\'^^J'|'.f,^, ,iu^ .Vi7W/>/, or locafDiets, and im- 

As already indicated, 

I of freedom from every 

the right of deciding 

. ''^rv. '-'»^^''^ ' :,,, ,^Mln^v at large. . 
r-''^''HlMotlvi.on^.nal privilege c 

„hliK''''''" '''''''**^ si,N' ov war ami controlling the mihtary levies. 
3II qiu^'«»'''"^ ''* r,]'v hold tho power of the purse, they could 
\s nion**^^''*'^' * \*^^-^.^. rtt ovory step. Their distrust of the 

KirV *'^'' , '' nnini^^U*****^*"'-'' °^ Poland still played a not un- 

thi^ t*""' \ in Ikt histoo'- These cities, notably Cracow, 

j^|,,irtant \^^^^ ^.^^^^^^ ^j^^. Crown their privileges (such as self- 

^^^\ ol^t"'**"*'* ^^ J I'nvdom from tolls) in return for loans to 

.f,nvm»"f " ^ Kin*!'*' **'" in^F^^^"^ public services, such as warding 

imi^'*'""^*^" jjj The cities of German origin were also pro- 

^g l\itflr i^iiigdfburg Law. Furthermore, Louis the Great 

j^^tixi h>^ j^_^^j j,lacL-d the burgesses of Cracow on a level 

(137^ ■'•^'^iry i,y granting to the town council jurisdiction 

wit^ \i the ^^'^^^ ^" ^^^ extra-mural estates of the citizens. 

0^"^^ firth, di'puties from all the chief cities were usuaUy 

^^*^ncd to the Scjmiki on all imjx^rtant occasions, e,g, the 

^'^ ati«*n cif treaties — a right formally conceded to them by 

'•"gejmik of Kadom in 13S4. But, as the SsJachta grew in 

1,-r and pride, they chafed against their political partnership 

I i\yz itTT" A'uL'sia ai ihi> pcrii-ni means, (jencrAlly speaking, the Polish 
M^vim-r "* i'^«^ Kussia. exicniiini; fn->m the I'ppcr Bug and its confluents 

ii] The Tenczynski affair 31 

with the wealthy plebeian burgesses, though ready enough to 
claim their assistance in case of need, as when the Szlachta 
of Red Russia combined with the burgesses of Lemberg, in 
1464, against the tyrannical Starosta-General, Piotr Odrowanz. 
Such combinations were, however, very exceptional. Generally 
speaking, the Szlachta was more disposed to injure the towns 
than to co-operate with them. A memorable instance of 
patrician arrogance and vindictiveness occurred in 1461. 

Andrzy Tenczynski, brother of the Castellan of Cracow, one 
of the highest dignitaries in the realm, on the eve of his depar- 
ture for the Prussian War, quarrelled with Klemens, a smith of 
the city, about the price of repairs to a suit of armour. Tenc- 
zynski sent the smith 18 groats. Klemens demanded two 
gulden, or four times as much. Then Tenczynski first gave 
Klemens a sound drubbing and afterwards complained of his 
insolence to the town council. The town council promised to 
make amends; but, in the meantime, Tenczynski, with a 
numerous armed retinue, encountered the injured smith in 
the street. High words ensued on both sides. Finally, 
Tenczynski's retainers drew their swords upon Klemens, and 
so wounded him that he was carried home half-dead. The 
tidings of this outrage quickly spread through the city; and 
the same day Tenczynski' was murdered in the church of the 
Franciscans, where he had taken refuge, by an infuriated mob 
of artisans and citizens. All this took place on July 16, when 
the militia of Little Poland were encamped round Cracow. 
The nobility at once clamoured for redress; but Casimir 
prudently postponed the consideration of the matter to the 
end of the year, when he should have returned from the 
Prussian campaign. The case was accordingly brought 
before the Sejmik of Kosczyn on December 6. The town 
council, through their advocate, questioned the competency 
of the tribunal, and claimed the privileges of the Magdeburg 
Law, conferred upon the city by Casimir the Great in 13 18. 
Tenczynski's friends appealed to the recently enacted articles 

32 Casimir IV, 1 447-1 492 [ch. 

of Nieszawa, which enjoined that a plebeian assaulting a 
gentleman should answer for his offence before the local Diet, 
in other words before a tribunal of gentlemen. The King, who 
was absolutely dependent on the Szlachta for the subsidies 
necessary to continue the war, decided in their favour; the 
local Diet tried the case in its own way; and, on January 4, 
1462, seven of the town councillors of Cracow were publicly 
executed for refusing to hand over the prisoner, who, apparently, 
had made his escape in the meantime. When, however, the 
Tenczynskis, not content with this summary art of vengeance, 
demanded the imposition of the enormous fine of 80,000 marks 
upon the town council, Casimir intervened and reduced the 
amount to 2000. 

Yet, like all the Jagiellos, Casimir IV, as a rule, both re- 
spected and defended the privileges of the towns. The 
following case may be taken as typical. 

A szlachcic\ Piotr Bostowski, had attacked the house of 
Adam Solcz, a citizen of Cracow, broken open the doors, killed 
two of Solcz*s servants and done other mischief. The city 
consuls thereupon arrested and brought the culprit before 
the town council. He was duly tried, according to the 
Magdeburg Law, condemned to death and publicly executed, 
confessing the justice of his sentence. Immediately afterwards 
the Bostowskis summoned the consuls and town council before 
the local Diet for the slaying of their kinsman. The town 
council refused to admit the jurisdiction of the provincial court 
and appealed to the King for protection. Casimir summoned 
the parties before him at the castle of Cracow, and, after a 
careful consideration of the case, decided that the consuls had 
acted in strict conformity with the privileges of the city, as 
guaranteed by the Magdeburg Law, and were worthy rather 
of praise than of blame. 

Casimir IV died at Troki, in Lithuania (June 7, 1492), while 
on his way from Wilna to Cracow, in his 65th year. A Prince 
* i.e. a member of the Szlachta. 


Casimir IV, 1447-1492 33 

of little learning, simple tastes (he always drank water, and his 
one recreation was the chase) and pacific temperament, he was 
not, perhaps, the man to inspire the enthusiasm of an essentially 
martial people. Yet no other Polish King ever did so much for 
Poland. It was his wisdom, judgment, moral courage, infinite 
patience, and inexhaustible tenacity which raised Poland to the 
rank of a great Power. His task was a difficult one ; and he 
pursued it, from first to last, with a rare devotion and con- 
scientiousness which deserved to the full the respect and grati- 
tude freely rendered to his memory after his death by a nation 
which was unable to appreciate him during his life-time. 



It was as the fortunate inheritor of the fruits of the labours 
of generations of careful ancestors that Ivan III ascended the 
grand ducal throne of Moscovy in 1462, in his 23rd year. 
Roughly speaking, the Grand Duchy proper then embraced 
the very centre of modem European Russia, with off-shoots 
extending northwards as far as Lake Byelo and Ustyug on the 
Sukhona. Round the Grand Duchy were grouped the still 
nominally independent principalities of Rostov, Tver, and 
Ryazan, while the semi-dependent Republic of Great Nov- 
gorod, with her zavoloche, or colonies, extended from Ladoga 
and the Gulf of Finland to the northern Dwina and the White 
Sea. Beyond Novgorod, the sturdy rival Republic of Pskov 
dominated Lake Peipus and district. In the West, Moscovy 
was hemmed in by Lithuania, whose territory, far exceeding 
that of Moscovy, reached almost up to Kaluga. Eastward and 
southwards stretched the interminable steppes of the Volga and 
the Don, still in the possession of the Tatar Hordes. 

Ivan was to be a greater ** land-gatherer "* than any of his 
predecessors, but his task was infinitely easier than theirs had 
been. Circumstances were entirely in his favour. The minor 
principalities were ripe for dropping into the lap of Moscovy at 

1 " Sobiratel " — the highest encomium the lyetopis can pay a Prince in 
those days of anarchy and dispersion. 

CH. Ill] Character of Ivan III 35 

the least touch. The Tatar yoke hung very loosely on the 
shoulders of the Russian Princes ; a single shake might dislodge 
it. The whole population looked instinctively to Moscow alone 
for advancement and protection. The Polish Kings, engrossed 
by the Lithuanian problem, or involved in Bohemo-Hungarian 
complications, were his only rivals, and they had neither the 
money nor the time to oppose him seriously. Ivan himself 
possessed all the acquisitive instincts of his ancestors. Neither 
morally nor physically can he be called attractive. A tall, lean, 
furtive man, who stooped so much that he seemed to be hump- 
backedS his crooked body was the envelope of a crooked soul. 
Yet this cunning, stealthy Prince, who carried caution beyond 
the verge of cowardice, had inherited an inexhaustible fund of 
patience and tenacity; and, if he never took any risks, he 
never made any mistakes. Nor, to do him justice, was he 
particularly cruel. 

The first to feel the hesitating but retentive grip of Ivan 
Crookback was the Republic of Great Novgorod. 

Great Novgorod held a unique position among the old 
Russian lands. Belonging at first to Kiev, from whom she 
originally received her Posadniki, or Presidents, she established 
her independence about 1135, from which time her Presidents 
were elected, generally for life, by the Vyeche^ or General 
Assembly of the people, over which they presided. The 
Vyeche was summoned by the ringing of the great bell of 
the Cathedral of St Sophia, and sat either in the ancient 
Palace of Yaroslav or in the great square of St Sophia. 
For a time Novgorod was the most powerful and progressive 
State in Russia, owing to her favourable position for foreign 
trade. She rapidly extended her empire to the White Sea 
at the expense of the Esths, Finns and Swedes ; successfully 
resisted more than one hostile league of the Russian Princes, 
all of whom coveted her wealth ; and, in later times, adroitly 
played off the North against the South. She also made a 
^ Hence his nickname, Gorbaty, 


36 Ivan III and the Sons of CastmtryiA62-i^o6 [ch. 

bold stand against the Teutonic Knights. At the beginning pf 
the fourteenth century Great Novgorod was at her prime, but her 
influence declined as the influence of the autocratic northern 
Grand Dukes increased. They claimed the right of nominating 
the VladikUy or Archbishop, and often treated the Republic as 
if she were a subject State; but the subsequent rise of the 
Lithuanian Grand Duchy once more enabled Novgorod to 
hold her own by adroitly oscillating between the various Grand 
Duchies as it suited her convenience. The custom was for the 
Vyeche to summon any Prince who took the popular fancy to 
settle in the city and protect it with his druzhina^ or body- 
guard. But all such Princes held their precarious sway on good 
behaviour, and were superseded at the discretion of the 
Republic. They could, moreover, do nothing of consequence 
without the consent of their co-assessor and coadjutor, the 
Posadnik, who represented popular control in its most stringent 
form. The Republic also had the absolute control of its 
foreign policy. All treaties were subscribed on its behalf by 
the Posadnik and the Vladika^ who also declared war and con- 
cluded peace on behalf of the Vyeche, From 1393 onwards, 
the land-gathering policy of Moscovy led to frequent collisions 
with the Republic, which successfully defended both her 
colonies and her privileges till 1456, when, by the Peace of 
Yazhelits, she was obliged to relinquish her great seal, to 
engage, henceforth, not to harbour the enemies of the Grand 
Duke, and to pay tribute. In all these contests Novgorod was 
greatly straitened by the active hostility of the Republic of 
Pskov, originally a dependency, but now the jealous rival of the 
older Republic. 

The humiliation of Yazhelits rankled in the minds of " the 
big people" of Novgorod, who could generally command the 
votes of " the little people " in the Vyeche. They realised, too, 
the danger of the Republic now that all the lesser Grand 
Duchies, so many possible confederates, had been suppressed, 
and she stood face to face with Moscovy alone. The turn of 

Ill] War of Ivan against Great Novgorod 37 

Novgorod was bound to come next, sooner or later, unless she 
strengthened herself with fresh alliances in the meantime. In 
this crisis Novgorod naturally looked to Casimir IV for protec- 
tion. As the son of an orthodox mother, and the ruler over 
millions of orthodox subjects obedient to the ancient metro- 
politan See of Kiev, he might fairly be considered as much a 
Russian Prince as Ivan III, and his clemency and liberality were 
notorious. A formal alliance was concluded, at the beginning 
of 1470, between Lithuania and " the free men of Novgorod," 
Casimir undertaking to hasten to their assistance whenever 
they might be attacked by Moscovy. Natural caution and 
complications with the Tatars kept Ivan III away from the 
west during the first eight years of his reign, though he had 
frequently to complain of the disrespectful tone of Novgorod 
and the insults inflicted upon his representatives in the city. 
He knew, however, that he had a powerful ally in the ignorant 
and violent orthodoxy of "the little people" of the Vyeche^ so 
he awaited his opportunity while the materials for a conflagra- 
tion were slowly accumulating. The spark of ignition was the 
insolent behaviour of an embassy from Pskov to Moscovy, 
which, on its way through Novgorod, offered to mediate be- 
tween the Grand Duke of Moscovy and '* ye, his patrimony," 
as they phrased it. At this the pride of the Republic of 
Novgorod was aroused. The great bell summoned the 
Vyeche to the square of St Sophia. " We are free men ! we 
are not the patrimony of the Grand Duke of Moscow " was the 
prevailing cry. Then there were loud shouts for King Casimir ; 
and the partisans of Moscovy were stoned and driven out of the 
Assembly. A last effort at mediation, on the part of the metro- 
politan of Moscow, having been rejected with scorn, Ivan III 
(May, 147 1 ) sent a formal declaration of war to Novgorod. 

By June the first of his huge armies, which included in- 
numerable Tatars and the auxiliaries of Pskov and Tver, fell 
ravaging into the territory of the Republic. It is clear, from 
the contemporary lyetopisi^ that public opinion in Russia 

38 Ivan III and the Sons of Casimir,iA^2-i^o6 [ch. 

generally was on the side of the aggressor. The Novgorodians 
were regarded not merely as the enemies of the Grand Duke, 
but as renegades from the Lord God. " After being Christians 
for so many years, they are now going over to the Latins," 
naively remarks our chronicler. The Grand Duke, according 
to this hypothesis, was warring not against fellow-Christians but 
against heretics and heathens, to whom no sort of mercy could 
be shewn. He certainly shewed none. The Moscovite hordes 
burnt and wasted in every direction and haled thousands away 
into captivity. Casimir, far away on the Bohemian border 
watching the movements of Matthias Corvinus, and the Livonian 
Order, appealed to at the eleventh hour, could send no timely 
help. Nevertheless, Novgorod, left entirely to its own resources, 
did not submit without a struggle. Despite serious defeats at 
Korostuina, on Lake Ilman (June 23), and on the Shelona, 
when 40,000 of them were defeated by 4000 Russians, with the 
loss of 12,000 men (a defeat due largely to the inveterate insub- 
ordination of the Novgorod levies, who would only fight when 
and how they chose), the men of Novgorod destroyed their 
suburbs in November and prepared to sustain a long siege. 
But the supply of corn ran short ; the Moscovite faction raised 
its head again ; the authorities lost heart, and finally purchased 
the mediation of Ivan's Boyars. Peace was concluded at the 
end of the year on the following terms. Novgorod engaged 
(i) never to admit a Lithuanian Prince; (2) to remain in per- 
petual alliance with Moscow ; and (3) to pay an indemnity of 
15,000 rubles. In the circumstances these terms do not 
appear to be excessive, especially as Novgorod retained her 
ancient liberties and nearly all her possessions. But the 
first article, which isolated her politically, sealed her future 

During the next seven years the net cast around Novgorod 
was gradually drawn in. In 1475 ^^an visited the city 
*' peaceably," on the plea of adjusting differences and ex- 
truding pro-Lithuanians, who were sent in chains to Moscow. 

Ill] Subjugation of Great Novgorod 39 

On this occasion Ivan scrupulously observed all the ancient 
laws and customs, did nothing without the co-operation of the 
Posadnik^ whom he "advised" to renew the expiring commercial 
treaty with Sweden, and returned to Moscow laden with gifts. 
Evidently he went to spy out the nakedness of the land, 
for, shortly afterwards, he sent to enquire what master the 
Archbishop and all Great Novgorod would be under, and 
whether they would now accept the Grand Duke's tyunui^ or 
governors, in all their quarters. The reply was open defiance. 
The Vyeche was "rung in"; the Boyars of the Moscovite 
faction were executed as traitors ; and the Republic prepared 
for war. So strongly did the Posadnik fortify the city that, when 
Ivan's armies environed it, in the course of 1476, it was found 
to be impregnable by assault. Long, spun-out negotiations 
ensued ; but the best terms the Novgorodians could obtain, in 
return for absolute submission, were the retention of their local 
tribunals and immunity from confiscation. The formal oath of 
allegiance was taken on January 13, 1478. When, on February 
17, Ivan quitted his camp and returned to Moscow, he took 
with him many hostages, all the treaties made between Lithuania 
and Novgorod, and the famous vyechevy Kolokoly or Assembly- 
Bell, which was hung up in one of the squares of the Kremlin, 
among larger and louder bells. But Novgorod could not at 
once forget her ancient glory. In 1477, 1484, 1487 and 1488 
she again asserted herself only to be easily and sternly repressed. 
In 1487 it was considered necessary to remove 50 of her noblest 
and wealthiest families to Moscovite territory. In 1488, 7000 
more of her Boyars and merchants were transplanted to " the 
lower towns\" which had to fill up the gaps out of their own 
population. After this, Great Novgorod gave no more trouble to 
Ivan III. Pskov and Ryazan, as a reward for their obsequious- 
ness to the Grand Duke, were permitted to enjoy their ancient 
liberties a little longer. Tver, on the other hand, was seized 

' i.e, Vladimir on the Klyazma, Murom, Nizhny Novgorod. 

40 Ivan III and the Sons of Castmir,iA^2-i^o6 [ch. 

and incorporated in i486 for negotiating directly with 
Casimir IV. 

Eastwards, the progress of Ivan III was halting and variable. 
It was easy enough to deal with the savage Permians and the 
Voguls in the Upper Kama district. Both these Finnish tribes 
were subdued by the end of the fifteenth century ; and thus the 
limits of the Moscovite Empire were extended to the Urals. 
The independent Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan also 
acknowledged the sovereignty of Ivan III for a time, 
though they broke away from him towards the end of his 
reign. The much reduced Golden Horde still persisted in the 
Lower Volgan Steppesf. In 1480 the Grand Khan, Achmet, 
egged on by Lithuania, advanced against Moscow with his 
whole host. Ivan abandoned his army on the Oka and fled 
abjectly to the outskirts of Moscow. But for the indignant 
remonstrances of Vassion, the high-spirited metropolitan of 
Rostov, he would have fled still further, or purchased peace 
on almost any terms. An unusually severe winter finally com- 
pelled Achmet to retire into the Steppe, and, while encamping 
on the Donets, he was surprised and slain in a night attack 
(January 6, 148 1) by the hostile Khan of the Shaban and 
Nogai Tatars. This was virtually the end of the Golden 
Horde. Its place was taken by the Crimean Horde, which, 
under the Khans of the Girej family, played an important part 
in Russian history for the next three centuries. Common 
interests drew Moscovy and the Crimean Khan together. The 
importance of this alliance to Moscovy may be gauged by the 
obsequiousness of Ivan III to Khan Mengli Girei, whom he 
generally addresses as his superior, to whom honour and 
tribute are due. From 1474, when these friendly relations 
first began, Ivan thought it necessary to maintain a resident 
ambassador at the Crimea with what we should now call a 
secret service fund, consisting, for the most part, of sables and 
other precious pelts. 

It was through the Khan of the Crimea that Moscovy came 

Ill J Accession of John Albert 41 

into contact with the Ottoman Empire. In 1475 ^^ Turks 
conquered the Crimea and made the Khans subject Princes. 
Their seat of government was the great slave-exporting port of . 
Kaffa; and the injury the Pachas inflicted on the lucrative 
Eastern trade of Moscovy induced Ivan, in 1492, to send a 
letter of remonstrance to Bajazet II through the hands of 
Mengli. A special Russian envoy, Mikhail Pleshcheev, sent 
direct to Stambul on the same errand, in 1497, was dismissed 
as an ignoramus because, in strict obedience to his instructions, 
he refused to deliver his credentials to any one but the Sultan 
personally. This faux-pas put an end to the diplomatic inter- 
course between Turkey and Moscovy for some time to come. 

Meanwhile, in Poland, a sober statesman had been suc- 
ceeded by an impetuous warrior. This was John Albert, the 
third son^ of Casimir IV, who (August 27, 1492) was elected 
King of Poland by the Bishops, Palatines and Castellans, and the 
representatives of the cities of Cracow, Thorn, Lemberg, Dantzic 
and Posen. The Lithuanians, in direct violation of the Union 
of Horodlo, had, a month earlier, elected John Albert's younger 
brother, Alexander, their Grand Duke. 

The new King, an energetic, enterprising man in the prime 
of life, rather resembled his heroic uncle Wladislaus, of Varna, 
than his prudent father. His ambition was military glory and, 
as the victor of Koposztyna (1487), he already enjoyed a high 
military reputation. Unfortunately for his far-reaching plans he 
was chronically impecunious. His father left him nothing but 
a heavy load of debt ; he could draw no revenue from Lithuania; 
only a month after his coronation he had to pawn one of his 
villages to the town council of Kazimierz to furnish his table. 
The poverty of the King had far-reaching political consequences. 
Dependent on the Szlachta for subsidies, but anxious to get 
those subsidies without the intolerable necessity of applying 
in turn to half-a-dozen provincial assemblies, John Albert 

^ The eldest son, Wladislaus, was already King of Bohemia and Hungary. 
The second son, Casimir, predeceased his father. 

42 Ivan III and the Sons of Casimir,iA^2-i^o6 [ch. 

conceived the bold idea of superseding the Sejmiki^ or local Diets, 
by reviving the Sejmy or National Assembly. The obvious 
advantages of such a reform were the much needed centralisa- 
tion of the Polish Government and the relegation of the local 
assemblies to purely local affairs. The first General Diet met 
at Piotrk6w on January i8, 1493. As usual, the Szlachta insisted 
on the confirmation of their privileges before considering financial 
questions. The King signed a new Constitution in 24 articles, 
but the subsidies he secured in return were so paltry that at the 
ensuing Diet, which met in 1496, he was as poor as ever. 
Encouraged by their success three years before, the Szlachta 
had, meanwhile, formulated a whole series of fresh demands 
(most of them at the expense of the other classes of the com- 
munity) which became statutes before the Assembly arose. 
One of these statutes exempted the exports and imports of the 
Szlachta from the payment of all tolls and other impositions ; 
a second deprived burgesses of the right of holding extra-mural 
estates, and those who already possessed the right were to surren- 
der it within a given time under penalty of heavy fines ; a third 
enacted that, henceforth, prelatures and canonries should be held 
solely by the descendants on both sides of noble families, except 
three canonries specially reserved for doctors of theology, canon- 
law and medicine of plebeian origin. Other statutes restricted 
the ancient right of the agricultural labourer to migrate to better 
wage markets, especially at harvest time, and introduced modi- 
fications of land-tenure which just stopped short of the socage 
system ^ Thus the Diet of 1496 introduced that abnormal 
condition of things which was, ultimately, one of the chief 
causes of the collapse of Poland. It elevated the Szlachta 
into a favoured caste apart. The burgesses, forbidden hence- 
forth to hold landed estates, were thereby excluded from all 
participation in military service with its numerous attendant 
advantages. In a word, they were excluded as much as 

^ In one province socage had been already introduced. (Sejmik of 
Krasnymstano, September, 1477*) 

Ill] The league against the Turks 43 

possible from the public service, and thus tended to become 
indifferent to the welfare of their country. Nay, more, their 
commercial prosperity was seriously imperilled by the fiscal 
exemptions now granted to their competitors, the great land- 
owners. The yeomanry of Poland, too, were being degraded 
into mere serfs and lost much of their ancient spirit. But it 
was the State which suffered most. The natural equilibrium 
between the various grades of society was disturbed by these 
radical changes, and the sources of the national wealth were at 
the same time diminished. 

In abandoning the lower estates to the Szlachia, John AlbeTT" 
had calculated upon the generosity of the latter to relieve him 
from his financial embarrassments. But here he was disappointed. 
As a matter of fact, the Diet granted him nothing but an excise 
duty, which fell entirely upon the burgesses, and a subsidy of 
four groats per hide of land, which was paid by the peasants. 
Nevertheless, the King affected to be satisfied, and diverted his 
attention to foreign affairs. He seems to have determined first 
to win popularity by means of military glory and then to use the 
popularity so acquired for the benefit of the Crown. Circum- 
stances at this time seemed especially favourable for a Crusade 
against the Turks. Under Bajazet 11(1481-1512), a weak Prince, 
whose enemies were those of his own household, the strong tide 
of Turkish conquest had ceased to flow ; and the Holy See once 
more summoned Christendom to arms against the arch enemy 
of tlie faith. At a Congress, held at Leutschau, in Hungary, 
attended by the Kings of Poland, Bohemia and Hungary, the 
Kr61ewicz Sigismund, Frederick of Brandenburg and some 
lesser potentates, a plan of campaign was actually arranged, in 
accordance with which John Albert was to march through 
Moldavia, retake Kilia and Akkerman, and thus bar the 
advance of the Ottomans into Poland. Military preparations 
went on unceasingly during 1495 ^.nd 1496, the King travelling 
from province to province to stimulate the zeal and the liberality 
of the Szlachta. His energy was rewarded by the marshalling 

44 Ivan III and the Sons of Casimtr,i4^2-i^o6 [ch. 

of the largest army which Poland had ever put into the field. 
It was at the head of 80,000 militia that John Albert marched 
to the border. Meanwhile, rumours that the King of Poland 
was bent upon conquering Moldavia drove the Hospodar 
Stephen, already flurried by Hungarian intrigues, into the 
arms of the Turks, whereupon John Albert turned his arms 
against the Hospodar. From September 25 to October 16 
he besieged the fortress of Suceva in vain; and the subsequent 
retreat of the Poles through the forests of the Bukowina to 
Sniatyn; harassed at every step by the enemy,, completed the 
ruin of his army. The same year the Tatar bands ravaged 
Red Russia. In 1498 the Poles, depressed by these reverses, 
concluded peace with Stephen and recognised his independence. 
In June, 1500, a fresh anti-Turkish league was formed at 
Buda between Venice, Poland, Hungary-Bohemia and France; 
but it came to nothing, owing to the opposition of the Czech 
and Magyar magnates and the untimely death of the Polish 

Oddly enough, the collapse of John Albert's military adven- 
ture coincided with the sudden increase of his power and 
popularity. Particulars are wanting, but there can be little 
doubt, from what followed, that treachery or cowardice on the 
part of the Polish chivalry must have been one of the main 
causes of the failure of the campaign of Suceva. Anyhow, 
immediately after his return, the King proceeded to confiscate 
the estates of hundreds of the nobility, evidently with the 
approval of the nation. No protest seems to have been made ; 
the subsequent Diets of 1498 and 1499 were unusually open- 
handed; while the Diet of 1501, so mischievous in other 
respects, placed the control of the militia entirely in the 
King's hands, in order to enable the executive to deal with 
the chronic danger of Tatar invasions more expeditiously in 
future. Towards the end of John Albert's reign the ever- 
mutinous Teutonic Knights grew acutely troublesome. In 
1497 Albert of Saxony was elected Grand Master. He was 

Ill] Death of John Albert 45 

persuaded by the Emperor to refuse to take the oath of 
allegiance to Poland on the pretext that, as a Prince of the 
Empire, he was not subject to the obligations of the Peace of 
Thorn. The difficulties of John Albert prevented him for four 
years from enforcing his rights as over-lord; but in 1501, 
accompanied by the national militia, he proceeded to Thorn 
and categorically summoned his vassal to appear before him. 
The Grand Master begged for some modification of the terms 
of the Peace of Thorn ; but the King was inexorable. The 
Grand Master still hesitating, heavy artillery was brought up to 
the Polish camp and then Albert gave way. On June 1 1, 1501, 
he did homage for Prussia. A week later the King died 
suddenly from a stroke of apoplexy. 

We do not possess sufficient materials for judging the 
character of John Albert. The whole history of his reign is 
mysterious and obscure. Even the principal events in it are so 
imperfectly recorded that we have no clue to the unravelling of 
their meaning. Only one thing is obvious — the growing confi- 
dence of the nation in the King in spite of repeated disasters 
This seems to prove that the disasters were no fault of his. 
We feel that we are in the presence of a great man whose 
opportunity has not yet come, but is coming rapidly. Then 
death intervenes, and Poland is plunged once more into anarchy 
and confusion. 

Meanwhile, Lithuania had been learning from bitter experi- 
ence that she was no longer able to stand alone. It is remarkable 
that during the life-time of Casimir IV, Ivan III abstained from 
regular warfare against the Grand Duchy. The two Princes 
contented themselves with ravaging each other's border provinces 
by Tatar mercenaries. But, in the second year of Alexander 
(1493), ^^^^ compelled Lithuania to cede altogether to the 
Moscovite portions of the Chernigov territory which, hitherto, 
they had divided between them. During the negotiations, and 
on the signature of the peace, Ivan, instead of using the time- 
honoured title "Grand Duke of Vladimir and Moscow," 

46 Ivan III andthe Sons of Castmiryi^62-i^o6 [ch. 

suddenly styled himself: "Ivan, by the grace of God, 
Gosudar^ of all Russia, etc." This portentous innovation 
was never recognised by Alexander, even after he had, in 
accordance with the conditions of the Peace, married the 
Grand Duke's daughter Elena (1495). Ivan's sensitiveness 
on this head, even more than the incessant border guerillas 
and the attempts of the Lithuanian Court to convert Elena to 
the Roman Faith, was the cause of a second war between 
Lithuania and Moscovy, which began in 1499. The Lithu- 
anians, completely taken by surprise, were routed on the plain 
of Mitkowa and at Mstislavl, in 1500, and lost a considerable 
number of towns and districts, including Bryansk, Serpeisk, 
Mosalsk, Dorogobuzh and Toropets. The war was concluded 
by a six years' truce, on a uH possidetis basis (March 25, 1503); 
but Alexander, now King of Poland as well as Grand Duke of 
Lithuania (the two countries had, in 1499, renewed the com- 
pact of Horodlo for mutual protection), rejected Ivan's usurped 
title of " Gosudar of all Russia," as altogether unwarrantable 
and absurd in the circumstances, which it certainly was*. 

But Ivan III was now sailing, with a prosperous wind, on 
the full tide of sovereignty. He was not only victorious 
abroad, but omnipotent at home. If there was one privilege 
of the Russian Boyars which might be regarded as inalienable, 
it was the privilege of transmigration from one Prince to 
another. So long as there were three or four independent and 
fairly equal Russian Principalities in existence, it occurred to no 
one to dispute this privilege. It was always assumed, as a 
matter of course, in all the treaties made between the various 
Grand Dukes, who divided the north Russian lands between 

^ Sovereign. 

2 When, in 1494, Ivan's ambassadors asked him how they were to 
justify the assumption of a title never borne before by a Russian Grand 
Duke, they were told to say : ** My master so commands. Whoever wants 
to know more about it had better come to Moscow and there he will be 
told." An answer which shows equal brutality and embarrassment. 

Ill] Usurpations of Ivan III 47 

them. When, however, all the other principalities had bowed 
down before Moscovy, it is obvious that none of them would 
care to run the risk of offending the Grand Duke of Moscow 
by harbouring his fugitive Boyars. Still, the right of trans- 
migration on the part of the Boyars themselves had never been 
called in question ; and it therefore came as a shock to Russian 
conservatism when Ivan III deliberately violated this ancient 
custom by seizing Prince Ivan Obolensky, who had taken refuge 
in the territory of the Grand Duke's own brother, Prince Boris 
of Volok. Boris at once invited his three younger brothers to 
protest against this act of tyranny; and the protest took the 
form of an open rebellion in 1480. A reconciliation was 
patched up by the old Dowager Grand Duchess; and ulti- 
mately, in i486, a new division of property was made between 
the Grand Duke and his kinsmen, when, it is needless to say, 
the younger brethren got by far the worst of the bargain. 
Perhaps it was from resentment at this chicanery that another 
brother, Prince Andrew of Uglich, refused, in May, 1491, to 
render due service to Ivan against the Tatars. Anyhow, in 
September, the same year, while on a friendly visit to the 
Grand Duke at Moscow, he was seized along with his brothers 
and nephews, and they were all sent in chains to remote strong- 
holds. Ivan then seized their lands, excusing his conduct to 
the Metropolitan as a prudential measure, designed to prevent 
Moscovy from again becoming the slave of the Tatars. 

No doubt his behaviour was largely determined by his 
ambitious second consort, Sophia Paleologa (daughter of 
Thomas, Despot of the Morea, and niece of Constantine, the 
last Greek Emperor), whom he espoused in 1472. This union 
was first proposed by Pope Paul II, through Cardinal Bessarion, 
as a means of establishing papal influence in Moscovy. It 
assumed that a Princess who had been educated at Rome could 
have no insuperable aversion from the Catholic Church, and, 
properly manipulated, might even lead her husband into the 
right way. The Princess was accompanied to Russia by 

48 Ivan III and the Sons of Casimir,iA62-i^o6 [ch. 

Cardinal Antonio, who gave great offence to the orthodox 
by avoiding the ikons and blessing the people with his 
gloves on. He was not permitted to enter Moscow till his 
processional crucifix had been hidden in his sledge; and when, 
the day after the wedding (November 12, 1472), he began to 
speak of the union of the churches, he was hustled out of the 
country. But the marriage itself was an event of the highest 
political importance. It gave to the aspiring young autocracy, 
just emerging from the restraints of ancient custom, an imperial 
sanction, inasmuch as the rulers of Moscovy henceforth regarded 
themselves as the political and religious inheritors of the im- 
perial traditions of New Rome, which Sophia Paleologa brought 
with her to her adopted country. Ivan's contemporaries noticed 
an ominous change in him after his marriage with the descendant 
of the Byzantine Emperors. According to them, Ivan, hitherto, 
had been one of the patriarchal Princes of the olden times, who 
loved his people, respected the aged, and took frequent and 
familiar council with his servants. But after the event he 
suddenly grew into a grozny gosudar^^ ** an austere sovereign," 
who held aloof from his subjects, or addressed them (if 
he addressed them at all) from heights of inaccessible 
grandeur. Before him the great Boyars, the descendants of 
Rurik and Gedymin, were expected to do obeisance as 
reverentially as the meanest muzhik. This unwelcome 
metamorphosis was generally attributed to Sophia; and there 
can be no doubt that the attribution was just. Sophia was 
certainly superior, both in craft and courage, to any of her con- 
temporaries, and she seems to have made up her mind, from 
the first, to have her own way. Yet her influence was good on 
the whole. But for her, Ivan would never have attempted to 
shake off the shameful Tatar yoke. On the other hand, she ac- 
climatised the palace intrigue, hitherto peculiar to Byzantium, in 

* Ivan was the first Russian Sovereign to whom the epithet grozny was 
applied. In his case it meant *' austere," in the case of his grandson, 
Ivan IV, it took the darker signifiof^ic^ of "terrible." 

Ill] Influence of Sophia Paleohga 49 

Moscow, and induced her husband to alter 1i>e old order of 

By his first wife, Maria of Tver, who ditjd in i4<'7, Imn III 
had one son, Ivan, who was crowned Grand LhiJbe but prtjdt- 
ceased his father. He also left one son, I^esm^us. bylimi^mt^ 
Sophia also had borne her husbaxKl an htar^ wbo was christemsd 
Vasily Gabriel. The question now arose wbethitr ^ tsn^n4M>ijnf 
or the son by the second marriage, should sucoe^ed to liM; throw?, 
Ivan at first favoured the claims of bis grandson^ wbo also had 
the better right by custom, inasmuch as bis iaHhtr had worn th^e 
Grand-Ducal crown. On the other band, Softea's son was the 
inheritor of the imperial escutcheon of New Kome »f)d all that 
it implied. The Boyars were on the side of I>ei»etnus and bis 
mother, Elena of Moldavia, but the lesser f>obflJty and the 
clerks of the Council took the part of ikppbiA and Vasily. In 
1497 a conspiracy to remove VtmnXsim was discovered, 
Sophia was thereupon charged with witchcraft; her partisans 
were put to death; and on February 4, 1498, J>emetrttts was 
solemnly crowned Autocrat and Gosudar of all Russia at tlie 
Uspensky Cathedral, in the presence of the f>>urt- 'l^he 
Boyars of the old school had trium{^>ed, but their triumph 
was not for long. In January, 1499, ^^ ^^^ Boyar families, 
the PatrikyeevB and the Ryapolovidcies, who had been dominant 
in Moscovy for half a century and represented its most con- 
servative traditions, were arrested, tortured and executed The 
discreet contemporary lyetopisi do not venture to furnish 
particulars of this sudden catastrophe; but it is significant 
that fi-om hencef(»th Demetrius takes the second place. 
Finally, on April 11, 1502, he was disinherited; and, three 
days later, Sophia's son, Vasily, was crowned Gosudar and 
Grand Duke. The crafty Greek lady had come off victorious 
in this silent subterranean struggle for pre-eminency. 

It is in the reign of Ivan III that Moscovy first comes into 
contact with the West Russia was discovered, much about 
the same time as America, by a German traveller, Ritter Niklas 

50 Ivan III and the Sons ofCasimir, 1462 — 1506 [ch. 

von Poppel, who, in i486, brought to Vienna the strange tidings 
that north-eastern Russia was not, as generally supposed, a part 
of Poland, but a vast independent State far larger than Poland. 
In 1489 he was accredited to Ivan III, to whom he was to 
propose a matrimonial alliance, and he brought back with him, 
as Ivan's ambassador, the Greek, George Trachionotes. There 
were further attempts, in 1491 and 1504, on the part of the 
Emperor, to attract this mysterious, potential ally within his 
political orbit, but Ivan III was far too haughty and suspicious 
to commit himself to anything definite. Presently Europe had 
tidings of Moscovy of a more disturbing sort. In 1503 the 
Grand Master of the Livonian Order Walther von Plettenburg, 
who, as the ally of Lithuania, had been waging war with 
Ivan III since 1501, informed the Pope that Moscovy would 
soon either conquer Livonia or, if the fortresses prevented that, 
would, at least, reduce it to a wilderness, unless His Holiness 
proclaimed a crusade against these merciless barbarians. 
Sweden had had a still earlier experience of the savagery of 
a foe who had studied strategy in the school of the Tatars. 
In 1466 the Moscovites, for reasons unknown, had invaded 
Finland and fruitlessly besieged Viborg. ' In 1467 they ravaged 
Finland up to Tavastahus, and destroyed an army of 7000 men ; 
whereupon the Swedes retaliated by capturing Ivangorod, a 
fortress which Ivan had erected on the Narova, when hostilities 
seem to have been suspended. 

Ivan III died on October 27, 1505, in the 67th year of his 
age and the 44th of his reign, having survived his second consort 
two years. By his will he divided his territories among his five 
sons, Vasily, George, Demetrius, Simeon and Andrew, but the 
younger brothers were enjoined to look up to Vasily as their 
father and obey him in all things. They had small temptation 
to do otherwise, as their petty appanages made them utterly 

Ten months after the death of Ivan III, his rival, Alexander 
of Poland and Lithuania, followed him into the grave 
(August 19, 1506). Alexander's short reign of five years was a 

Ill] Limitation of the prerogative in Poland 51 

succession of blunders, disasters and humiliations. He was a 
man of good intentions but feeble character, in whom the family 
virtues of caution and generosity became slothfulness and 
prodigality. His election as King of Poland (October 4, 1501) 
at least put an end to Lithuanian separation, for it was pre- 
ceded and conditioned by a compact between the Poles and the 
Lithuanians to the effect that, henceforth, the King of Poland 
should always be Grand Duke of Lithuania. This, however, was 
the solitary advantage (though, no doubt, a considerable one) 
which Poland derived from Alexander, an advantage more than 
counterbalanced by his incapacity for ruling. During his 
reign the Senate and the Sejm governed, while the Monarch 
looked on. The Pacta conventa presented to him at Mielnica 
for signature, before his coronation, and generally known as the 
Articles of Mielnica, curtailed the prerogative as regards the 
distribution of offices, deprived the Crown of the control of the 
Mint and the regalia, and exempted all the members of 
the Senate from prosecution by the royal courts. The con- 
stitution of 1504 enacted that, henceforth, the royal estates 
should not be mortgaged without the unanimous consent of 
the Senate, given during Diet; that the King should be 
constantly attended by a permanent council of 24 Senators, 
relieving each other in rotas of six every six months \ and that 
the Grand Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor should only be 
appointed with the concurrence of the Senate and during the 
session of the Sejm. These enactments were reinforced in 
1505* at the Diet of Radom, by the edict Nihil Novi^ whereby 
the King bound himself and his successors never to alter the 
constitution, or enact any new statute, to the prejudice or injury 
of the Republic or any member of it, without the previous 
consent of the Senate and Sejm. The very subsidies granted 
to the Crown by this Diet had to pass through the hands of 
Commissioners, who were to examine all receipts paid into 
the Treasury by the King. 

The Senate was justified in protecting the State against the 


52 Ivan III and the Sons of Casimir [ch. hi 

wastefulness of a helplessly good-natured Prince who never 
had the courage to say " no ! " Unfortunately, these self- 
appointed guardians of the public weal were wrangling 
mediocrities, unaccustomed to the exercise of sovereignty. 
The consequence was that, by the end of the reign, domestic 
affairs, especially financial matters, were in a deplorable con- 
dition, while abroad Poland was regarded as politically bankrupt. 
So low, indeed, did she fall that minor States, like Moldavia 
and Prussia, which had lately been, or still were, her vassals, 
became her rivals and despoilers. Stephen of Moldavia, en- 
couraged by the ever anti-Jagiellonic Hungarian magnates, 
occupied the Woiwodschaft of Pokucie (the portion of Red 
Russia lying between the Carpathians and the Dniester) in 1502. 
Only after years of negotiation was the province recovered 
from Stephen's son and successor, Bogdan (Treaty of Lublin, 
February 16, 1506). Still more offensive were the pretensions 
of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, who aimed not 
merely at renouncing the homage due to the Polish Crown, 
but also at recovering West Prussia. The whole dispute was 
referred to the arbitration of the Holy See, and was still pending 
when Alexander died. 

The last moments of the unfortunate Polish King were 
cheered by at least one gleam of good fortune. The Peace 
with Moscovy had been concluded, and no further trouble 
from that quarter waS anticipated, when the Crimean Khan, 
Mengli, suddenly burst upon defenceless Lithuania with a 
countless horde. The King already lay on his death-bed; 
the border palatines were taken completely by surprise; no 
resistance seemed possible. But, at the eleventh hour, 10,000 
men were got together for the defence of Wilna; and, on 
August 5, 1506, the Tatar host was annihilated at Kleck by 
Stanislaus Kiszka and Michael Glinski. Alexander was already 
speechless when the glad tidings were brought to him, but he 
expressed his joy by raising grateful hands to heaven. The 
same evening he expired, in his 45th year. 


SIGISMUND I, 1506-1548. 

By his last will, King Alexander had bequeathed his patri- 
mony to his younger brother Sigismund, who put himself in 
possession thereof without a moment's delay. Ten days after 
the obsequies of Alexander, Sigismund, who on receiving tidings 
of his brother's dangerous illness had posted from Glogau 
to Wilna, was unanimously elected Grand Duke of Lithuania. 
In the beginning of 1506 a Polish deputation offered him the 
Kingdom also; and on January 24, 1507, he was crowned at 

The new Monarch was in his 40th year, and his herculean 
figure and majestic bearing profoundly impressed all who ap- 
proached him. He came to Poland with an excellent reputa- 
tion. While only Duke of Glogau, he had been entrusted by 
his brother Wladislaus, King of Bohemia and Hungary, with 
the government of Silesia, which for centuries had been the 
battle-field of the ceaseless antagonisms of the Slav and the 
German. His just but iron rule had quickly converted a 
political Alsatia into a model State, and not only did he clear 
it of Raubritter^ but he also made it pay, for the first time, its 
proper quota into the Bohemian treasury. Sigismund was, 
indeed, above all things a provident and economical statesman ; 
and one of his first acts after his accession, was to attempt to 

54 The rehabilitation of Poland^ 1506 — 1548 [ch. 

restore the credit of Poland, which had been all but ruined 
by the recklessness of John Albert and the prodigality of 
Alexander. His chosen colleagues in this great work were 
a few honest and capable citizens of Cracow, merchants and 
bankers, most of them of German origin, and exiles for 
conscience sake, men like Kasper Beer, Justus Decyusz, who 
became his secretary and chronicler, Johann Thurzo, Johann 
Boner and the Bettmans. They began with the reform of the 
currency ^ Under their skilful management, the mint, which 
hitherto had been more costly than profitable, rendered to 
the King an annual net income of 210,000 gulden, which 
enabled Sigismund to pay his predecessor's debts, redeem the 
royal plate, recover some of the alienated crown lands, and even 
hire mercenaries to serve as the nucleus of a standing army. 

If ever a Prince had constant need of a well-filled 
treasury and powerful armaments it was Sigismund I during the 
whole of his long and troubled reign of forty-two years. At the 
very outset he was confronted by a conspiracy which struck at 
the very foundation of Poland's political existence, a conspiracy 
the more dangerous as it was inspired and directed by one 
whose genius and resolution were scarce inferior to Sigismund's 
own. The chief personage in Lithuania, at this time, was Prince 
Michael Glinsky, the Court Marshal and prime favourite of the 
late King Alexander. The Glinscy came of a Tatar stock 
which had migrated to the Grand Duchy in the reign of Witowt, 
and risen rapidly to eminence. Michael, the most illustrious of 
his family, had travelled and studied in Italy and Spain, spent 
some time at the court of Maximilian who prized him highly, 
and returned home learned in all the arts of peace and war. 
No wonder then, if he easily outshone the simple Lithuanian 
lords, and so fascinated the impressionable Alexander that, 
contrary to his coronation oath, he confiscated the estates 
of Glinsky's rivals in order to enrich him and his brothers, one 
of whom, Prince Ivan, was made Palatine of Kiev. On the 
^ Polish coins were now dated, for the first time. 

iv] Prince Michael Glinsky 55 

death of Alexander, Glinsky possessed one half of Lithuania 
and was generally suspected of the design of erecting Red 
Russia into an independent principality for himself. It must 
be admitted, however, that Glinsky had been consistently loyal 
to Alexander, to whom he rendered considerable services. 
There is also no reason to suppose that he had, at first, any evil 
designs against Sigismund. But, in the circumstances, he was 
too powerful a vassal to be tolerated by any self-respecting 
King ; and Sigismund had evidently determined to get rid of 
him on the first opportunity. He began by depriving Ivan 
Glinsky of the Woiwodschaft of Kiev, affected to listen to the 
insinuations of Michael Glinsky's numerous enemies, refused 
him redress when he claimed it, and thus drove the angry and 
humiliated magnate, who disdained to hold the second place in 
Lithuania after having so long held the first, into the arms of 
Tsar Vasily III of Moscovy, with whom he proposed to 
conquer and divide western Russia. 

For the next ten years, Glinsky was the ubiquitous, 
irreconcilable enemy of Sigismund. It was through fear of 
his influence spreading throughout the Grand Duchy that 
the Polish King, after a two years' war, came to terms with 
Vasily by ceding to him, in perpetuity, all the conquests 
his father Ivan III had made from Alexander. But this 
peace availed Poland little, for Glinsky, now firmly established 
at Moscow as the chief Councillor of Vasily III, who 
had married his niece Helena in 1526, moved heaven and 
earth to rekindle the war, kept a watchful eye upon all 
Sigismund's movements, and took advantage of his ever 
increasing embarrassments to raise up enemies against him in 
every quarter ^ Moreover, Glinsky's agents traversed Germany, 
Bohemia and Silesia to collect mercenaries and modern artillery, 
which were conveyed to Moscovy by way of Livonia. Towards 
the end of 151 1, Sigismund's difficulties with the Teutonic 

^ Hans of Denmark in 1509 ; Maximilian in 1510 ; the Prussian Order 
in 1511. 

56 The rehabilitation of Poland, 1506 — 1548 [ch. 

Order induced Vasily to renew hostilities; and, on December 19, 
he set forth to besiege the fortress of Smolensk, the key of 
the Dnieperian district. Notwithstanding his 140 big guns, 
Vasily had, however, to abandon the siege with the loss of 
11,000 men. In 15 13, stimulated by Glinsky, Vasily again 
attacked the fortress and was again repulsed. In 15 14 he 
appeared before Smolensk for the third time. This time his 
pertinacity was rewarded, chiefly owing to the ability of the 
master-gunner Stephen; and the place surrendered on June 31. 
Vasily had promised Smolensk to Glinsky if Glinsky's gunners 
could take it. Yet, when the place fell, it was at once occupied 
by a Russian garrison. From Vasily's point of view this 
seemed, no doubt, a necessary act of precaution ; but it was 
also a flagrant breach of honour and gratitude which the 
disillusioned Glinsky was quick to resent. He communicated 
with Sigismund, offering to transfer his services ; but the corre- 
spondence was discovered before Glinsky could undo his own 
work, and he was sent in chains to Moscow where, however, his 
eclipse was but transient. Two months later the Poles, under 
Prince Constantine Ostrogsky, routed the Moscovites at Orsza 
(Sept. 8, 1 5 14), slaying 30,000 of them and capturing 
four generals, 27 foreign colonels and 1500 boyars. This 
victory came too late to save Smolensk, but it damped the 
martial ardour of the Moscovite generals, who, henceforth, 
avoided pitched battles, and induced the Moscovite govern- 
ment to open negotiations with the Poles under the mediation 
of the imperial ambassador, Sigismund Herbertstein, who 
arrived at Moscow in April 15 17. The negotiations began on 
November 1. The Russian plenipotentiaries demanded Kiev, 
Polock, Witebsk and, generally speaking, all the other towns 
and territories constituting the original patrimony of the old 
Russian Grand Dukes who claimed descent from St Vladimir. 
This claim was, henceforth, advanced by Moscovy in all 
similar negotiations with Lithuania and is of great historical 
interest. It reveals the true character of the struggle between 

iv] The question of the Teutonic Order 57 

the two Slavonic sovereigns, one calling himself Grand Duke 
of Lithuania and Russia, while the other claimed the title of 
Grand Duke of all Russia. Hopeless, fantastic even, as 
Moscovy's claim to all the old Russian lands must have 
seemed in the sixteenth century, it was never omitted from 
the preliminary conferences lest silence should be construed 
to mean renunciation. Herbertstein's mission was a failure ; 
and his successors, Francesco da Kollo and Antonio de Conti, 
were equally unsuccessful. The negotiations were broken off, 
and Vasily tried to obtain assistance from the Grand Master of 
the Teutonic Order, to whom (Sept. 15 19) he sent sufficient 
money to equip 10,000 mercenaries. But the Teutonic Order 
proved but a broken reed to lean upon ; and, after a fresh series 
of savage raids and futile sieges, both parties wearied of 
the interminable struggle and terminated it (1522) by a five 
years' truce, renewed repeatedly but never converted into a 
permanent peace, because Sigismund refused to cede and 
Vasily to part with Smolensk, which remained provisionally 
in the hands of the Russians. 

Sigismund I may, perhaps, have underestimated the signi- 
ficance of the war of Smolensk, but, after all, the whole 
Moscovite question was still of secondary importance to Poland. 
The really vital question of the day, upon which everything 
then depended, was how to deal with the troublesome and 
rebellious Teutonic Order. 

This Teutonic question, besides weakening Poland in- 
ternally, seriously hampered her foreign policy. In the first 
two decades of the sixteenth century the Popes were intent on 
combining Christendom in a crusade against the Turks ; and 
Hungary and Poland, as being the nearest neighbours of the 
common foe, were expected to take leading parts in the great 
enterprise. But Sigismund could not expose his country, 
during his absence, to the rapacity of his impatient vassal, the 
Grand Master of Prussia, who was bent upon throwing off the 
Polish yoke altogether with the support of Poland's enemies. 

58 The rehabilitation of Poland, 1506 — 1548 [ch. 

Chief among these was the Emperor Maximilian, who, at the 
Peace Congress of Posen (15 10), warmly supported the claims 
of the Knights to absolute independence. A second Congress, 
held at Thorn (Jan. 15 11), proved equally abortive; and the 
matter was then transferred to the Lateran Council, at which 
the cause of Poland was eloquently pleaded by her greatest 
diplomatist, the Primate, Jan Laski, who would have prevailed 
but for the determined opposition of the imperial ambassadors. 
Four years later the subject was reopened at the Congress 
of Pressburg (15 15), which was attended by the Emperor, 
Sigismund, and Wladislaus of Bohemia and Hungary. By this 
time Sigismund had recognised the necessity of coming to 
an understanding with Maximilian. The chief cause of the 
Emperor's persistent hostility at this time was his fear lest 
Sigismund might traverse his plans in Hungary. In February 
151 2, Sigismund yielding to the earnest representations of the 
Senate that it was his first duty to perpetuate the dynasty, now 
again in danger of extinction, had married Barbara, daughter 
of Stephen Zapolya, the most powerful of the Hungarian 
magnates, compared with whom the reigning King Wladislaus 
was a mere cipher. Maximilian, who had already conceived the 
design of acquiring Hungary, more austriaco, by a family 
alliance with the Hungarian Jagiellos, at once took alarm ; but 
Sigismund, at Pressburg, smoothed over the difficulty by con- 
senting to a double marriage between Maximilian and Anne, 
Wladislaus' daughter and Sigismund's niece, on the one hand^ 
and between the Crown Prince Louis of Hungary, then a lad 
of nine, and the Archduchess Mary, Maximilian's grand- 
daughter, on the other. This arrangement was subsequently 
confirmed by the compact of Vienna (July, same year). In 
return for Sigismund's complacency, Maximilian now absolved 
the Knights from all their obligations to the Empire and left 
them to get the best terms they could from the Polish King. 

^ By a subsequent modification of the original compact, Anne married 
Maximilian's son Ferdinand I to whom she bore 15 children. 

iv] Poland's Struggle with the Teutonic Order 59 

On the death of Maximilian (Jan. 12, 15 19), however, the 
new Emperor, Charles V, seemed inclined to protect the Order; 
which inclination encouraged the Grand Master, Albert of 
Brandenburg, to renew all his old pretensions. Sigismund 
thereupon summoned him to Thorn to render due homage. 
Albert's reply was a declaration of war, at the beginning of 
which he captured Braunsburg and other fortresses (1520). 
But the Polish Diet on this occasion liberally supported the 
King with men and money ; and Sigismund and his generals, 
after some hard fighting, drove the Grand Master across the 
Vistula and pressed him so hardly that he sued for peace. For 
the moment it seemed as if the sway of the Knights had at last 
come to an end. Unfortunately, at this critical moment, com- 
plications with the Porte compelled Sigismund to conclude 
a four years* truce with the Grand Master (March 22, 1521), 
who, in the following year, was won over to Protestantism 
by Osiander at Niimberg. Acting on the advice of his new 
friends, Albert now resolved to convert the territories of the 
Order into a secular hereditary principality vested in his own 
family. Sigismund, weary of the interminable struggle, made 
no objection to the secularisation, offensive as it was to the 
Catholic Powers; and on April 8, 1525, he solemnly received the 
homage of Albert in the market-place of Cracow. Thus it 
was that the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Order became 
the first Duke of Prussia \ 

The pressure of the Teuton had forced Sigismund I to 
relinquish Smolensk to the despised Moscovite ; the pressure of 
the Turk had forced him to grant the vanquished Teutons 
terms usually accorded to victors. But, at any rate, both the 
Moscovite and the Teutonic questions had been settled some- 
how ; and Sigismund was able to turn his attention to the South, 

^ Albert bound himself on this occasion to render military service to 
Poland (100 Knights per annum). In case of the extinction of the four 
branches of the new ducal family, Prussia was to revert to the Polish 

6o The rehabilitation of Poland, 1506 — 1548 [ch. 

where portentous events were exciting the apprehension of 

On August 29, 1526, Sigismund's nephew, Louis II of 
Hungary, perished on the field of Mohdcs with his whole army. 
The importance of the actual battle has been exaggerated. It 
was a far less serious disaster than the capture of Belgrade, six 
years previously; and the monarchy survived it for fourteen 
years. But the attending circumstances demonstrated, what 
very few^ had hitherto suspected, viz. that feudal Hungary in the 
sixteenth century was in such a rotten, crazy condition as to be 
fit for nothing but to be cast into the oven of political dissolu- 

Two candidates at once presented themselves for the vacant 
throne — John Zapolya, Voivode of Transylvania, at the head of 
an army twice as large as that which had perished at Mohacs ; 
and Ferdinand of Austria, grandson of the Emperor Maximilian. 
Both candidates were crowned by their respective partisans, 
John in 1526, Ferdinand in 1527; and the country was instantly 
flooded by German, Italian, Polish and Turkish mercenaries, 
who reduced half of it to a desert, till the Peace of Grosswardein 
(1538) established John on the Hungarian throne which, after 
his death, was to revert to Ferdinand. The whole question 
profoundly interested but deeply divided Polish politicians. 
The unusually well-informed King favoured the Austrian candi- 
date, in the belief, amply justified by later events, that Hungary 
could only remain a petmanent barrier against the Turks if 
closely united with the House of Hapsburg. But a large and 
powerful party in Poland, headed by the Primate, Jan Laski, and 
his three nephews, Hieronymus, Jan and Stanislaus, all of them 
men of extraordinary but somewhat erratic genius, warmly 
supported Zapolya, principally because he hated the Germans 

* Except the Nuncios and Venetian Ambassadors at Buda. One of the 
former, ten years earlier, wrote, with perfect truth, that even if the Kingdom 
could be saved for a few crowns, not one of the wealthy oligarchs would 
make the sacrifice. 

iv] Hungarian politics 6i 

as much as they did. Hieronymus Laski not only supplied 
Zapolya with army after army, but went the round of all the 
European Courts on his behalf, finally undertaking the 
famous embassy to Stambul which resulted in the alliance 
between Zapolya and the Sultan, against which Ferdinand 
proved powerless. At the instigation of the Emperor Charles V, 
Pope Clement VII thereupon excommunicated Zapolya, and 
addressed such a severe monitorium to the Polish Primate that 
the old man, already depressed by the heterodoxy of his eldest 
nephew Jan and the disgrace of Hieronymus, whose .iJ!;ratuitous 
and compromising policy had been severely punished by 
Sigismund, died, it is said, of a broken heart (May 19, 1531). 
The alliance between the Jagiellos and the Hapsburgs had 
already been strengthened by Sigismund's marriage with Bona 
Sforza^ (April 1518), who brought with her a dot of 200,000 
ducats, and the prospect of an inheritance of another half 
million after the death of her mother Isabella of Aragon. 
Sigismund's Austrian policy never varied. Even on the death 
of John Zapolya (1540), when the Queen-Mother, Isabella, 
Sigismund's own daughter, attempted to secure tHe Magyar 
throne for her infant son John Sigismund, her father dissuaded 
her from so grossly violating the Peace of Grosswardein, and 
made her hand over the Hungarian regalia to Ferdinand. 
Finally, in 1543, the Austrian alliance was still further cemented 
by the marriage of Sigismund's only son, Sigismund Augustus, 
with the Austrian Archduchess Elizabeth. 

With the Porte, Sigismund carefully avoided a collision. 
It is a common error to suppose that Poland was the buckler 
of Christendom against Islam. That glorious distinction be- 
longed from the end of the fourteenth to the end of the 
fifteenth century to Hungary, and to Hungary alone. Till the 
middle of the sixteenth century Poland had but little to do with 
Turkey. The alfold^ or great Hungarian plain, lay between the 
two States ; and Moldavia, beneath the sceptre of Stephen the 

^ Queen Barbara died on October i, 151 5, leaving two daughters. 

62 The rehabilitation of Poland, 1506 — 1548 [ch. 

Great (1458-15 04), served as an additional barrier. Just before 
and during the reign of Sigismund I, however, this geographical 
remoteness was brought to an end by two events. In 1475 ^^e 
Turks subjugated the Crimean Tatars ; in 1 5 1 3 the Moldavian 
Princes submitted to the suzerainty of the Sultan. Henceforth 
the south-eastern frontier of Poland was conterminous with 
Turkish territory ; and the whole situation became permanently 

As regards Moldavia, Sigismund avoided complications, so 
far as possible, by scrupulously respecting the Sultan's claims. 
He gave the most memorable instance of his forbearance in 
1530 when the Moldavian Hospodar, Petrylo, seized Pokucie. 
Sigismund sent against him the Grand Hetman^ of the Crown, 
Stanislaus Tarnowski, the first of Poland's great captains, who 
defeated and slew the Hospodar after a fierce two days' battle 
at Obertyn (Aug. 21, 22), for which he was awarded a 
triumph and one-sixth of the year's subsidies. So signal was 
this victory that all Moldavia lay at the feet of the Grand 
Hetman. Nevertheless, Sigismund strictly forbade Tarnowski 
to cross the Moldavian frontier, and even sent a letter of 
explanation to the Sultan. 

With the Tatars it was much more difficult to cope. Since 
the collapse of the Golden Horde they had become mere free- 
booters, ravaging indiscriminately Moscovy and Lithuania, in 
spite of the tribute regularly paid to them by way of insurance 
money. The Sultan let them loose the more readily upon any 
State whose hostility he might suspect, because, as the nominal 
subjects of the Crimean Khan, they could always be officially 
repudiated at Stambul ; and Poland suffered terribly from their 
endless depredations. The whole of her vast, ill-protected, 
south-eastern frontier, extending from Kiev to the Dnieper", 
and known as the dzikie poliy or "wilderness," lay wide open 
to their sudden and incalculable attacks ; and, generally, they 

^ i.e, Captain-General. Similarly, the Lithuanian Captain-General 
was called " the Grand Hetman of Lithuania." * See map I. 

iv] The Tatar rai€U 63 

had disappeared like a whirlwind in the trackless steppe before 
the border castellans could marshal their widely-scattered levies. 
In 15 10 Prince Constantine Ostrogski defeated them in a great 
battle fought at Wisniowiec, on St Vitalis' Day, April 28, which 
was kept as a national festival in Lithuania for generations 
afterwards. Yet only six years later (1516), another great 
Tatar raid ravaged the Waiwodschafts of Russia, Belsk, and 
Ljubelsk, carrying off no fewer than 50,000 captives to be sold 
as slaves at Kertch. In 1519 the Tatars wiped out a whole 
Polish army-corps 5000 strong. In 1527 they penetrated 
almost to the walls of Cracow^ but this time were overtaken 
and routed at Kaniow, when 80,000 captives were recovered. 
As Poland became a great power, the humiliation of these raids 
was felt even more than their mischief; but it was not till 
1533 that the valiant and experienced Lord Marcher, Ostafi 
Daszkiewicz, was consulted by the Diet as to the best way of 
securing the Ukrain* against these savage attacks. Daszkiewicz 
advised that the Ukrain should be gradually colonised, and 
that, in the meantime, the pick of the semi-nomadic orthodox 
population <^ the Steppe, the so<:alled Cossacks*, consisting 
mosdy of runaway serfs, or poor vagabond gentlemen in search 
of plunder and adventure, should be enrolled in companies and 
established permanendy on the islands of the Lower Dniq)er, 
which could easily be made impregnable paints (Tappuu This 
excellent plan, which met all the difficulties of the situation, 
received no support from the PoUsh Diet It was simply 
shelved. Yet Queen Bona, who, with all her ^ults, was a model 
administrator, had already demonstrated the practicability and 
immense advantage, even on a small scale, of such a plan 
as Daszkiewicz's. To secure her estates in the Ukrain, she 
built the little castle of Bar, the defence of which she entrusted 
to her ^lesian steward Bernard Pretficz. Seventy times did he 

^ A Rnthenian word meaning, like its Russian eqniralent, Oknin, a 
border or frontier. 

* From Kazaki, a Tatar word meaning a freebooter. 

64 The rehabilitation of Poland, 1506 — 1548 [cH. 

repulse the Tatar roaming bands, so that, to cite a contemporary 
chronicler, "in the days of Pan Pretficz the Hagarenes fell 
back from the frontier." The natural result was that thousands 
of colonists flocked to the Starosty of Bar, where land reclama- 
tion was conducted on a gigantic scale, Bona assisting the 
good work by making roads, draining marshes, and building 
bridges. By these means the value of her Ukrainian estates 
rose a hundredfold in a very short time. But the country 
benefited also, for Bar became the bastion of Podolia, and the 
centre of a wealthy agricultural district. The contemporary 
fortress of Krzemieniec owed its origin to similar causes. 

Had the Polish Diet done, from motives of duty and 
patriotism, what Queen Bona did by way of private investment, 
the Tatar difficulty would never have swollen into a peril. 
Unfortunately, the Szlachta^ which now began to dominate the 
Diet, was so blinded by considerations of caste and privilege as 
to be almost incapable of thinking imperially. Throughout the 
reign of Sigismund I, the Polish State suffered grievously from 
the pretensions, the jealousies, and above all, from the fatal 
parsimony of the Sejm. In 15 10 the Primate Laski proposed 
that all the great dignitaries of State, in view of the King's 
necessities (it was the interval between the first and second 
Moscovite war), should contribute half of their annual income 
at once, and one-twentieth part thereof every subsequent year, 
and that, in future, all legal fines and charges should be paid 
into the royal treasury. The project was indignantly rejected 
by the Diet which would only grant subsidies for two 
years, amounting, nominally, to 40,000 but which diminished 
during collection to 7000 gulden. At the Diet of 1512 the 
King proposed to commute military service into a fixed charge 
of six gulden per head, payable by every nobleman at the 
beginning of a campaign, the money to be employed in 
hiring mercenaries. This plan was also rejected. Then the 
King proposed that the whole kingdom should be divided into 
five military circles, bound to defend the realm alternately from 

iv] Niggardliness of the Diets 65 

Easter to St Martin's Day. This proposal was so far approved 
of by the local diets of Little and Great Poland that St Michael's 
Day in each year was fixed upon for the registration and 
assessment of the gentry of each province. Every armiger 
was free to commute his service at a fixed quota; but his 
property was to be liable to confiscation if he had failed to 
pay his quota within a given time. At the eleventh hour, the 
whole project foundered on the incurable jealousies of the 
Senate and the Szlachta, neither being willing to trust the other 
with the custody of the registers, whereupon the Diet of 15 15 
rejected the reform altogether, and the King had to make the 
best of the old subsidies, voted for three years. In 15 18-15 19 
the Poles granted Sigismund only 39,000 gulden, whereas the 
Lithuanians gave him 134,000, the superior liberality of the 
latter being due to the fact that they were more directly 
threatened by the Moscovites and Tatars. The Poles, more- 
over, had an irritating habit of accompanying the slightest 
pecuniary concession with demands for fresh privileges, mainly 
at the expense of the rich burgesses of Cracow and of the 
lower classes generally. In 1 5 1 3 the local diet of Korczyn went 
so far as to extrude from its session the burgomaster and 
consuls of Cracow. But Sigismund promptly reinstated them 
and publicly confirmed their privilege of representing the city 
in the local diets. 

I^^ 1533* ^"^^ again in 1537, fresh efforts were made 
in vain by the Szlachta to exclude the deputies of Cracow 
from the Diets, and, finally, the King was obliged (1539) 
to issue an edict threatening to prosecute for Use-majeste 
any gentleman who attempted in future to infringe the rights 
of the citizens. Both this Sejmik and the Sejmtk of Bromberg 
in 1520 were also very severe upon the peasantry who were now 
compelled to work one day a week gratis on their master's land. 
Hitherto, this had been a matter of private arrangement ; now 
it was made a statutory and universal obligation. The Diets 
of 1522 and 1523 would grant the King nothing for the national 

66 The rehabilitation of Poland^ 1506-1548 [ch. 

defence ; and he was compelled, with the consent of the Senate, 
to levy taxes by royal edict. This unpatriotic parsimony was 
largely due to the Szlachta^s suspicion of the magnates and 
senators who surrounded the King and monopolized all the 
chief offices in the State. The oligarchs, on the other hand, 
as being experienced and practical statesmen, took a juster view 
of things; and one of them, the Primate Andrzej Krzycki 
(1483-1537), summed up the situation, pretty accurately, in a 
letter to Sigismund. " All of us know right well," he said, 
** the great danger that threatens us, so that if your Majesty did 
not rule this body-politic, like as the soul of a man ruleth his 
members, we should all fall to pieces.'' 

In 1526 the ranks of the Szlachta were reinforced by 
hundreds of Masovian squires, the Duchy of Masovia, on the 
extinction of the male ducal line (August 26, 1526), being 
incorporated with the kingdom. This event was not without 
considerable political influence. The poor^ ignorant, but fiery 
Masovian squires, whose rough grey coats and ragged accoutre- 
ments excited the ridicule of contemporary satirists, introduced 
a strong democratic element into the Polish Diet, which helped 
to stiffen the opposition. The King, too, was now growing 
weary of strife. He had out-lived most of his friends and 
counsellors, and repeated disappointments had saddened and 
disillusioned him. His chief care now was to pass the Crown 
on to, and make the future easy for, his beloved and only son 
Sigismund Augustus. He could still, as we shall see, be very 
firm in religious matters ; but, politically, his powers of resist- 
ance were weakening. In the last years of his reign the 
Szlachta (now nominated to the Sejm^ or great Diet, by their 
own local diets, instead of, as heretofore, by the officers of the 
Crown at the royal courts) became the leading power in the 

^ The whole income of the duchy only amounted to 14,000 gulden per 
annum. It consisted mainly of sand and fir trees, but was densely 
populated by small landowners. From henceforth its capital Warsaw, 
thanks to its central position, begins to rise in importance. 

iv] Orthodoxy in Lithuania 67 

State; and the King acquiesced in the transfer of authority 
from the magnates to the gentry, especially as he himsdf 
largely profited thereby. In the districts where the magnates 
owned all the land, the Szlachta^ naturally, had no direct 
influence; but they were gradually becoming the masters of 
the Diet, and there they circumscribed the authority of the 
Executive, as represented by the Senate, in every direction. 
Thus, statutes were passed forbidding the Grand Hetman, 
or Captain-General, of the Kingdom, to levy troops, the Lord 
Treasurer to collect taxes, the Grand Chancellor to direct the 
tribunals; the King and Diet together were henceforth to 
attend to all such matters. Military service, moreover, was now 
declared a universal obligation. In this respect, the mightiest 
Party or Lord, was placed on the same level, according to his 
means, as the poorest grey-coat (1527). This beneficial reform 
resulted in a large increase of all the local militias. Thus 
in 1529 Podolia alone raised 3200 horse and 300 foot, the 
control of which was placed in the hands of the King. 

In the remote and still semi-barbarous Lithuania, on the 
other hand, the Senate was everything, the gentry nothing. 
Even so late as 1569 the only persons who attended at the 
Lithuanian Sejms were the Voivode, or Governor, the Starosta^ 
or Judiciary, and the Chorazy^ or Standard-bearer, with their 
officials. These dignitaries would then proceed to pass what- 
ever statutes they pleased, commit them to writing, and circulate 
them among the provincial nobility, who were compelled to 
sign them under the threat of a flogging. The great obstacle 
to the spread of civilisation in the Grand Duchy was the war of 
the two hostile confessions, the Roman Catholic and the Greek 
Orthodox. From the beginning of the Union, conversion to 
Catholicism in Lithuania had been rewarded by donations 
of vast domains and seats in the Senate. The sons of these 
renegade fathers jealously guarded their predominance, and 
unmercifully oppressed their despised orthodox brethren, 
who represented four-fifths of the entire population. When 


68 The rehabilitation of Poland^ 1506-1548 [ch. 

the Lithuanian Chancellor, Gasztold, could describe the illus- 
trious and enlightened Prince Constantine Ostrogski as " a new 
man of low condition whose ancestors stood at the footstool of 
my ancestors," we may form some idea of how ordinary ortho- 
dox gentlemen were treated in Lithuania. At the beginning of 
the century things were, naturally, very much worse. In the 
eyes of the ruling oligarchs, everyone who won promotion by 
personal services, or royal favour, was an impertinent intruder. 
Thus, when Sigismund rewarded Ostrogski for his great victory 
at Orsza, by conferring on him the Voivody of Troki, such 
a storm arose at the subsequent Diet of 1522, that the King 
had to give a written undertaking that, henceforth, none but a 
Catholic should have a seat in the Lithuanian Senate. Never- 
theless, Sigismund was ever the consistent upholder of tolerance 
and equity. Devout Catholic though he was, he sternly re- 
pressed every attempt at religious persecution on the part of 
the dominant Catholic minority. The chartered rights of the 
orthodox population were rigorously maintained, and every 
injury inflicted on them was promptly punished. In all con- 
fessional conflicts, the Orthodox were treated as the equals ot 
the Catholics before the Law. Hence the universal popularity 
enjoyed by Sigismund in his Grand Duchy, which was very 
useful to him politically. He was able, with little difficulty, to 
procure the election of his infant son as Grand Duke (1522) ; 
to codify the unwritten and chaotic laws of Lithuania, which 
code, in the Ruthenian language, was promulgated by the Diet 
of Wilna in 1529; to abolish socage in Samogitia; and to 
introduce many far-reaching economic reforms. 

The last years of Sigismund I were years of resigned 
despondency. Externally, thanks to his splendid physique and 
majestic presence, the old King seemed as hale and vigorous as 
, ever. In reality, he was a weary and broken man. New and 
disquieting problems came crowding upon him towards the end 
of his reign, and he knew that his failing powers were unequal 
to their solution. The most pressing of these problems was 

jv] Protestantism in Poland 69 

how to prevent the spread of the new religious ideas, which 
Were beginning to exercise such a peculiar influence upon 
Polish politics. 

Despite her fidelity to the Holy See, Poland, so early as 
1326, had required the assistance of an Inquisitor to protect 
her orthodoxy against the onslaughts of the Hussites. Yet she 
gave but little trouble to the Curia till the age of Luther ; and, 
but for the pretensions and the exactions of her own clergy, it 
is very doubtful whether Lutheranism would have gained any 
sure footing in the kingdom at all. As a German product, 
Lutheranism was naturally distasteful to the Poles; and the 
repressive measures adopted against the new heresy by 
Sigismund I were approved by the nation at large, mainly 
from political reasons. The first outbreaks of militant Pro- 
testantism occurred at Dantzic in 15 18 and 1520. Still more 
alarming was the rebellion of 1525, when the innovators 
purged the town council of Catholics, closed the monasteries, 
appropriated the churches, abolished nearly all the taxes, and 
introduced free-trade. At Cracow, these disturbances were 
at first attributed to the machinations of the ever restive 
Teutonic Order. Sigismund lost no time in bringing the 
rebels to reason. He came in person to Dantzic at the head 
of a large body of troops, hung fifteen of the ring-leaders, 
including the aldermen, re-established Catholicism, expelled 
the perverts, forbade the dissemination of Lutheran literature 
and, contrary to his usual practice, released the gentry from all 
civic jurisdiction, not only in Dantzic, but throughout the 
Prussian provinces. In Poland proper, anti-Lutheran edicts 
were also issued. In 1520 the Edict of Thorn forbade the impor- 
tation of German books. The Edict of Grodno confirmed 
and extended that of Thorn. The Edict of Cracow (1523) 
condemned to confiscation and the stake anyone preaching 
Lutheranism. But these edicts, for the most part, remained 
inoperative, partly because heretics were few on Polish soil, 
but, principally, because the Bishops became more and more 

Jo The rehabilitation of Poland, 1506-1548 [ch. 

afraid of exercising their coercive functions in view of the 
increasing hostility of the Szlachta freely expressed in the 
Sejms. Religion had but little to do with the anti-ecclesi- 
astical sentiments of the Polish gentry. No doubt, the very 
unapostolic lives of the Polish Bishops of the period armed the 
Szlachta with the best of all weapons against their spiritual 
fathers. But it was the pretensions and the privileges, not the 
opinions of the Prelates, which gave the most offence. In 
brief, the spiritual peers had now to submit to the same levelling 
process as the temporal peers had already undergone ; and, as 
the clergy had always claimed more, they necessarily suffered 
more than the privileged laity. It was now that the gentry 
began to refuse to pay tithes, to question the jurisdiction of 
the spiritual courts, to object to the payment of Annates and 
other papal charges, and, generally, to exalt liberty, as they 
understood it, above everything else. But, so long as 
Sigismund I reigned, the Church, supported by the whole 
weight of the Crown, had little to fear. The Szlachta might 
storm and rage and even threaten Sigismund to his face with 
rebellion ; but the old King remained imperturbable and in- 
different, and their threats invariably came to nothing. 

It was in the reign of Sigismund that the influence of the 
Italian Renaissance extended to Poland. Sigismund, always 
a lover of music and interested in architecture, his one expen- 
sive luxury \ was naturally attracted by the artistic side of the 
Renaissance; and under the direction of his accomplished 
second consort, Bona of Ferrara, the Court of Cracow became 
the focus of Italian culture. There Bona reigned resplendent, 
winning every heart by her grace and beauty, and every head 
by her brilliant wit and perfect command of Latin. The 
satirist Krzycki indited to her his choicest epigrams ; the 
chancellor Tomicki humoured her lightest caprice ; the future 

^ The stately castle of Cracow was built for him by the best Italian 

iv] Influence of Queen Bona 71 

fathers of the Polish church assiduously sought her patronage. 
But, beyond the narrow limits of art and literature, Bona's 
extraordinary ascendency* was everywhere mischievous. The 
Polish nation rightly detested a Princess who did nothing but 
enrich herself at its expense, and was as much a foreigner when 
she decamped with her accumulated millions as when she first 
entered the land as a bride, thirty-seven years before. Her greed 
of gold was only equalled by her greed of power. She hated her 
only son as a political rival, and contributed, by her inhuman 
treatment, to the death of his first consort, the amiable 
Archduchess Elizabeth of Austria (1543). Bona's political 
intrigues frequently embarrassed Sigismund in his later years \ 
but her sway over him prevailed to the end, and when he 
expired, on April i, 1548, in his 8ist year, it was she who 
closed his eyes. 

^ Even Krzycki complains that she played the part of Juno to Sigismund's 
too-complaisant Jove. 



On April 17, 1548, the magnates and prelates of Lithuania 
assembled at the castle of Wilna to kiss the hand of their new 
Grand Duke, Sigismund Augustus, on the eve of his departure 
to Cracow, to bury his father and receive his father's Crown 
from the hands of the Polish Fans^ who had elected him King 
eighteen years previously. At the first hour after noon, Sigis- 
mund entered the crowded hall, mounted the throne, and, 
after greeting the assembled dignitaries, thus addressed them : 
*'Many reasons, meet and right and even weighty, have 
constrained me^ hitherto, to conceal that which I will this day 
reveal to you all. Barbara Radziwillowna, Wojewodzina of 
Troki, is my wife, given to me in holy. Christian, wedlock in the 
presence of her kinsfolk. Know ye therefore that nought on 
the earth can sever such a tie lawfully contracted among 
Christians." After this prelude, the King ordered the doors of 
the hall to be opened, and introduced Barbara, surrounded by 
a numerous retinue of Lithuanian Senators. The assembly 
was thunderstruck by this sudden and emphatic announcement 
of Sigismund's marriage with a lady who was doubly offensive 
to the oligarchs as being the daughter of Prince Nicholas 
Radziwill, commonly called " Black Radziwill," the leader of 
the Calvinists, and herself an ardent Calvinist. But in Lithu- 

* Great Lords. 

CH. v] Opposition to Barbara Radziwill 73 

ania the authority of the semi-absolute Grand Duke prevailed, 
and no protest was made. Far different was the reception of 
the tidings in Poland, where Queen Bona, jealous of the 
beauty and influence of the young bride, used every effort to 
annul a union ** so unequal as to tarnish the King's majesty." 
As a Lithuanian, Barbara was distasteful to the Poles generally ; 
as a heretic she was especially offensive to the clergy. Not a 
voice was raised in her defence ; and when, on October 31, 1548, 
the Sejm assembled at Piotrk6w, the only Senator who stood by 
the King was the Grand Hetman of the Crown, Jan Tarnowski. 
During the first debate in the Senate, the Grand Marshal, 
Kmita, moved that the King should not disgrace his order. 
Two days later a deputation from the Izba^ or lower House, 
petitioned Sigismund to "withdraw from his intentions and 
not call that a marriage which was no marriage." "Every 
man," replied Sigismund calmly, " has the right to choose his 
own wife ; why cannot the King do the same ? Or does the 
Christian religion allow me to put away her whom I have 
wedded ? It is for you of the clergy, who know better about 
such things, to convince your brethren on this head. But I 
will not desert my wife, though she were stripped of everything 
but her shift." This simple and manly declaration evoked such 
a storm of abuse that the King was obliged to enjoin silence. 
The Primate, Dzierzgowski, a creature of Bona's, then fiercely 
denounced the marriage; and other bishops and senators 
followed his example. Kmita's language was so venomous that 
the King bade him hold his tongue. The whole Chamber 
revolted at such an unusual rebuke from the throne, but 
Sigismund was not to be frightened. " What hath been done 
cannot be undone," he said. " I have sworn never to forsake 
my wife and, so help me God ! I mean to keep my oath." 
Shortly afterwards, Sigismund dissolved the Diet and issued a 
Universal^ or manifesto, in which he appealed to the sense of 
justice of the nation against the violence and tyranny of the 
Legislature. He knew that he had won a moral victory, and he 

74 The last of the JagielloSy 1548-1572 [ch. 

proceeded, skilfully enough, to make the most of it. Not till 
May 4, 1550, was a second Diet summoned. By this time 
public opinion had so completely veered round that not a 
word was uttered about the royal marriage. Nay, when the 
Posen deputy, Nicholas Sienicki, accused the King of despotic 
designs, the Grand Marshal, Kmita, rebuked him roundly for 
attempting to circumscribe the royal prerogative. 

This episode is worth dwelling upon, illustrating as it does 
both the character of the new King and the peculiar difficulty 
of the task before him. 

Sigismund II, when he ascended the throne, was in his 28th 
year. Brought up by and among women, in the exotic luxury 
of an italianate Court which had absorbed everything, good or 
bad, which the Renaissance could offer, his frail and elegant 
figure seemed puny and effeminate to the sturdy, homespun 
gentry who, for nearly fifty years, had followed, often reluc- 
tantly enough, in the footsteps of his burly and downright 
father. Yet Sigismund II was a true Jagiello. He possessed, 
in an eminent degree, the patience and tenacity which were the 
characteristic virtues of his family, and he combined with these 
useful qualities a perspicacity, an intellectual suppleness, and a 
diplomatic finesse (doubtless inherited from his mother) which 
carried him triumphantly over the worst obstacles of the most 
difficult situations. "The King," wrote the Austrian Envoy, 
towards the end of the reign, "most easily turns this most 
indocile of nations whithersoever he will. Things here ever 
befall according to his wishes." The Papal nuncio Paggieri 
renders similar testimony. 

The Barbara incident enables us, moreover, to gauge, pretty 
accurately, the force and direction of the quasi-democratic 
movement whose beginnings we have already noted in the 
reign of Sigismund I, and whose representatives claimed the 
right to interfere in everything. This movement was, originally, 
of a social-political character. It was a revolt of the Szlachta^ 
or gentry, against the usurpations of the Pans, Its fundamental 

v] Scandalous condition of the Church 75 

object was the so-called egsekucya praw, or enforcement of all 
the statutes which had been passed, from time to time, to 
arrest the aggrandisement of the magnates, or compel them to 
fulfil their obligations to the State. 

But now this movement assumed a religious character 
owing to the Szlachtd!s jealousy of the privileged position of the 
clergy, accentuated by a strong feeling of personal independence 
which resented the liability of being haled before the ecclesiasti- 
cal Courts for inquisitorial purposes. In these circumstances, 
any opponent of the Established Church was the natural ally of 
the Szlachta, But, although the pride and jealousy of the 
gentry were the principal, they were by no means the only 
causes of the early successes of the Reformation in Poland. 
The scandalous condition of the Polish Church at this time 
seemed to excuse, and even justify, the far-reaching apostacy 
which was now to shake her to her very foundations. The 
bishops, who had grown up beneath the demoralising influence 
of Queen Bona — elegant triflers, for the most part, as pliant as 
reeds, with no fixed principles and saturated with a false 
humanism — were indifferent in matters of faith, and regarded 
the new doctrines with philosophical toleration. Some of them 
were notorious ill-livers. "Pint-pot" Latalski, Bishop of 
Posen, had purchased his office from Bona for 12,000 ducats ; 
while another of her creatures, Peter, popularly known as '* the 
wencher," was appointed Bishop of Przemysl, and promised the 
reversion of the wealthy see of Cracow. Moreover, despite 
her immense wealth (in the Province of Little Poland alone, 
she owned at this time 26 towns, 83 landed estates and 722 
villages), the Church claimed exemption from all public burdens, 
from all political responsibilities, although her prelates, sitting 
as they did in the Senate, and holding many of the offices of 
the State, continued to exercise an altogether disproportionate 
political influence. Education was shamefully neglected, the 
masses being left in almost heathen ignorance ; and this, too, 
at a time when the middle classes were greedily appropriating 

76 The last of the Jagiellos, 1548-1572 [ch. 

the ripe fruits of the Renaissance, and when, to use the words 
of a contemporary, there were " more Latinists in Poland than 
ever there were in Latium." The Academia Jagiellonika, or 
University of Cracow, the sole source of knowledge and 
enlightenment in the vast Polish realm^ still moved in the 
vicious circle of scholastic formularies. The principal schools, 
dependent upon so decrepit an alma mater^ were, for the most 
part, suffered to decay. The sons of the gentry, denied proper 
instruction at home, betook themselves to the nearest High 
Schools across the border, to Goldberg in Silesia, to Witten- 
burg, to Leipzig. Here they fell in with the adherents of the 
new faith, grave, God-fearing men, who professed to reform the 
abuses which had grown up in the Church in the course of ages ; 
and they endeavoured, on their return, to propagate these 
wholesome doctrines, and clamour for the reformation of their 
own degenerate prelates. Finally, the poorer clergy, cut off 
from all hope of preferment, and utterly neglected by their own 
bishops, were also inspired by the spirit of revolt, and eagerly 
devoured and imparted to their flocks, in their own language, 
the contents of the religious tracts and treatises which reached 
them by devious ways, from Goldberg and Konigsberg. 
Nothing indeed did so much to popularise the new doctrines 
in Poland as this beneficial revival of the long-neglected 
vernacular by the Reformers. 

Such was the situation when Sigismund II began his reign. 
The King, too good a Catholic and too wise a statesman to 
weaken the conservative elements of the State in a period of 
acute crisis, adopted from the first, with consummate skill, the 
office of mediator between the contending confessions. On 
December 12, 1550, five days after the coronation of Barbara as 
Queen of Poland' by the Primate Dzierzgowski, he issued the 
celebrated edict whereby he pledged his royal word to preserve 
intact the unity of the Church and the privileges of the clergy, 

^ She survived the ceremony less than six months, dying of cancer on 
May 8, 155 1, to the inconsolable grief of her broken-hearted consort. 

v] Ascemdcmiy of the PrUcstmrnis 


I Id eDforoe the law of the lasd against heiiesT. Encooraged 

dns piWasmg symptom of artbodo3C3r, the bsshc^ts^ with 
Tiiipmdefnce., instead of first attempdng to pfot thdr 

I itibpadattd honse in order, at oooe proceeded to sommon 
beHoR; their Courts aH persons suspected of heresy. The 
Sfimfktm instanthr took the alarm : and at the stonny Diet of 
Fiolikow, which met in January 1552, even devoot Catholics, 
Ifte Jan Tamowski. invdghed bitterly against the bishops and 
ffSGStiaaed their right to summon the gentry befoTie thdr tii- 
bunals. On this head the whole estate of nobles. Catholic and 
Protestant alike, was unanimously agreed. The bishops, timid 
and TacaHating, bent beneath the storm : and. when the King 
proposed, by way of compromise, that the jurisdiction of the 
Onncfa Courts should be suspended for twelve months, on 
ooodkion that the gentry continued to pay tithes, the prelates 
leadilj sacrificed their convictions to save their revenues. 

Henceforth the Reformers began to propagate thdr c^nions 
openly, and even molested the Catholics. Those of the Protes- 
tamt gentry who had the right (rf presentation to benefices began 
bestowing them upon chaplains and ministers of their own per- 
suasion, in many cases driving out the orthodox incumbents and 
sabstituting Protestant for Catholic services. Presently Refor- 
mers of every shade of opinion, even those who were tolerated 
nowhere else, poured into Poland, which speedily became the 
battle-ground of aU the sects of Europe. Most of them now 
became numerous enough to form ecclesiastical districts of 
their own. In the Sr;m itself the Protestants were absolutely 
supreme; and they invariably elected a Calvinist, or even a 
Socinian, to be their marshal or president. At the Diet of 
1555 ^^^ boldly demanded a national Synod for the cleansing 
and reforming oi the Church, and presented nine points for the 
consideration of the King and Senate, amounting to a demand 
for absolute toleration. The bishops naturally refused to 
entertain this revolutionary programme ; and, the King again 
intervening as mediator, the existing interim was, by 

yS The last of the Jagiellos, 1548-1572 [ch. 

mutual consent, indefinitely prolonged. The violent and 
unscrupulous proceedings of the bigoted Roman Nuncio, 
Ludovico Lippomano, on this occasion, still further damaged 
the Catholic cause by provoking universal indignation, even the 
bishops refusing to obey him. At the subsequent Diet of 
Warsaw (1556), the whole of the Izba^ or Lower Chamber, 
clamoured furiously against "the Egyptian bondage of the 
Prelacy," and demanded absolute freedom of discussion in all 
religious questions. Again, however, the King adopted a 
middle course; and, by the Edict of Warsaw (Jan. 1557), it 
was decreed that things should remain as they were till the 
following Diet. At that Diet^ which assembled at Piotrk6w on 
November 20, 1558, the onslaught of the Szlachta on the 
clergy was fiercer than ever; and a determined attempt was 
even made to exclude the bishops from the Senate on the 
principle that no man could serve two masters. True loyalty 
and patriotism, it was urged, could not be expected from 
prelates who were the sworn servants of a foreign potentate — 
the Pope. But the King and the Senate, perceiving a danger to 
the Constitution in the violence of the Szlachta^ not only took the 
part of the bishops but quashed a subsequent, reiterated 
demand for a national Synod. On February 8, 1559, the Diet 
dissolved without coming to any resolution. The King, in his 
valedictory address, justly threw all the blame for the 
abortiveness of the session upon the interference and injustice 
of the Szlachta, 

The Sejm of 155 8- 1559 indicates the high-water mark of 
Polish Protestantism. From henceforth, it began, very 
gradually, but unmistakably, to subside. The chief cause of 
this subsidence was the division among the Reformers them- 
selves. The almost absolute religious liberty which they 
enjoyed in Poland proved, in the long run, far more injurious to 
them than to the Church which they professed to reform. 
From the chaos of creeds resulted a chaos of ideas on all 
imaginable moral and social subjects, which culminated in 

v] Catholic Reaction in Poland 79 

a violent clashing of the various sects, each one of which naturally 
strove for the mastery. An auxiliary cause, of the decline of 
Protestantism in Poland was the beginning of a Catholic 
reaction there. Not only the far-seeing, statesmanlike, monarch 
himself but his chief counsellors also could no longer resist 
the conviction that the project of a National Church was a mere 
Utopia. The bulk of the population still held languidly yet 
persistently to the faith of its fathers; and the Holy See, 
awakening at last to the gravity of the situation, gave to the 
slowly reviving zeal of both clergy and laity the very nec^sary 
stimulus from without. There can be no doubt that, in the 
first instance, it was the papal Nuncios who re-organised the 
scattered and faint-hearted battalions of the church militant in 
Poland and led them back to victory. The most notable of 
these re-constructing Nuncios was Berard, Bishop of Camerino, 
who arrived in 1560 and persuaded the King to send delegates 
to the council of Trent. He was less successful at the Diet of 
1562. On this occasion Sigismund completely won the sus- 
ceptible hearts of the Szlachta^ by appearing in the grey coat of 
a Masovian squire. Needing the subsidies of the Deputies — 
for the incorporation by Poland of most of the territories of the 
defunct Order of the Sword had excited the jealousy of 
Moscovy and the Scandinavian Powers — Sigismund was 
prepared, as the lesser of two evils, to sacrifice the clergy ; 
and, with his consent, the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical 
Courts was practically abolished, it being declared that hence- 
forth no confiscations consequent upon condemnations for 
heresy could be executed except by the secular Courts as 
administered by the Starostas or Lord Justices, many of 
whom were Protestants. The bishops protested, but the King 
was inexorable. "You must,'' he said, "take the plunge." 

Berard was thereupon superseded by Giovanni Francisco 
Commendone, one of the most experienced and devoted of 
the Roman diplomatists. His earlier despatches to Rome 
( 1 563-1 564) are gloomy enough. He reported that the higher 

8o The last of the Jagiellos^ 1548-1572 [ch. 

Catholic clergy were disunited and disaffected; that the 
Protestants were guilty, almost daily, of outrages against 
Catholic ceremonies; and that the childless King seemed 
intent on a divorce from his third wife (his first wife's sister) the 
Archduchess Catharine of Austria, whom he had married, for 
purely political reasons, in 1553, and who was now living apart 
from him at Radom, an incurable invalid. Nevertheless, the 
tact and energy of the capable and courageous Nuncio soon 
worked wonders. The King, despite the strong influence of the 
Calvinistic Radziwills, and the alluring precedent of Henry VIII, 
did not press to an issue the much dreaded question of 
the divorce. In 1564 Commendone persuaded him to accept 
and promulgate the Tridentine Decrees and issue an edict 
banishing all foreign heretics from the land. At the Diet of 
1565 the Protestants presented a petition for a national 
pacificatory Synod; but the King rejected it as unnecessary, 
inasmuch as the Council of Trent had already settled all 
religious questions. He declared, at the same time, that he was 
resolved to live and die a Catholic. But the most re-assuring 
feature of this Diet, from a churchman's point of view, was the 
presence in the izba of a zealous Catholic minority which, while 
willing enough to keep the clergy within bounds, energetically 
protested against any attack upon the Church's ceremonies or 
dogmas. It was quite a new thing to see the Polish gentry 
marshalled round a papal Nuncio and drawing their sabres, 
in full session, against the gainsayers of Catholic truth. At 
the same Diet, Sigismund consented to the introduction into 
Poland of the most formidable adversaries of the Reforma- 
tion, the Jesuits. Noskowski, Bishop of Plock, had already 
installed them at Pultusk ; and, after the Diet had separated, 
the Society was permitted to found establishments in the 
dioceses of Posen, Ermeland, and Wilna, which henceforth 
became centres of a vigorous and victorious propaganda. 

Unfortunately, this very Diet, in many respects so salutary, 
marks the mischievous victory of the Szlachta over their old 

v] Catholicism again supreme 8i 

enemies the burgesses. A death-blow was struck at the pros- 
perity of the towns by the statute which made export trade, 
henceforth, the exclusive privilege of the Sziachta, and at their 
liberty by the statute which placed them under the jurisdiction 
of the provincial Starostas. Henceforth, the Polish towns count 
for nothing in Polish politics. 

The Catholic revival gained in strength every year, although 
the King continued, judiciously, to hold the balance between 
the opposing parties and preserved order by occasionally 
nominating Protestants to the highest offices of the State, and 
always preventing persecution. Moreover, a new order of 
bishops, men of apostolic faith and fervour, were gradually 
superseding the indolent and corrupt old prelates of Bona's 
creation. Many of the magnates, too, were, about this time, 
re-converted to the Catholic religion, notably Adalbert Laski, 
and Jan Sierakowski whom the Protestants could ill afford to 
lose. In the Sejm itself, the attacks of the Protestants upon 
the Catholics grew feebler every year, ceasing at last altogether. 
Nay, at the Diet of 1569, the Protestants actually made 
overtures for a union with the Catholics, which the latter 
postponed till th^ reformed sects should have become " quite 
agreed among themselves as to what they really believed." At 
the Diet of 1570 Sigismund, strong in the support of a small 
but zealous Catholic majority, rejected a petition of the 
Protestants that their confession should be placed on a 
statutory equality with Catholicism. Henceforth, all the 
efforts of the Protestants were directed towards holding the 
ground they had actually won. 

By his wisdom and equity, Sigismund II had saved Poland 
from the horrors of a religious war in the very age of the Wars 
of Religion. At the same time, his statesmanship, always 
circumspect yet profiting by every favourable contingency, was 
increasing the prestige of Poland abroad, and enlarging her 
boundaries, just where territorial accretions promised to be 
most useful to her. 

82 The last of the Jagiellos, 1548-1572 [cH. 

Generally speaking, Sigismund was true to the traditional 
political watchword of the Jagiellos : friendship with the 
Empire and peace with the Porte. Sigismund was, indeed, well 
aware of the acquisitive tendencies of the House of Hapsburg. 
"They mean us no good," he used frequently to say to his 
diplomatic agents, who were always busy counter-acting real or 
imaginary intrigues at Rome and elsewhere. But, on the 
other hand, he regarded Austria as the natural counterpoise to 
a still more formidable potentate, the Turkish Padishah, with 
whom he was especially anxious to avoid a collision. Sigis- 
mund could always frighten the Court of Vienna into 
subservience by pretending to espouse the cause of his own 
nephew, John Sigismund, Prince of Transylvania, a claimant of 
the Magyar throne, and the semi-feudatory of the Ottoman 
Empire. The relations between Sigismund and the Emperor 
Maximilian were, therefore, generally civil though never very 
cordial ; and the unfortunate marriage between Sigismund and 
the Archduchess Catharine in 1553 was meant to be an 
additional confirmation of a political alliance which was, at the 
same time, a guarantee against any league between Austria and 
the Moscovite. 

It was not so easy for Poland to preserve friendly relations 
with the Porte. Moldavia and Wallachia were the points of 
contact and peril. Nominally subject to the Turk, the Hospodars 
of these States were little better than freebooters on a grand 
scale ; and their violations of Polish territory constantly called 
for reprisals. The Jagiellonic Kings were, however, very careful 
to stop short at repressing these desperadoes. So late as 1552, 
when Sigismund found it necessary to depose Stephen VIII 
of Wallachia and enthrone Peter Lepusnano in his stead, 
the Vice-Hetman entrusted with this police duty was strictly 
charged to evacuate the principality immediately afterwards. 
The King could control the Hetmans, but he was powerless to 
check the frequent raids into Moldavia and Wallachia of the 
Pans or great lords. From time immemorial the Wallachs had 

v] Oriental complications 83 

sought a refuge in Poland from the tyranny of their Hospodars ; 
there was a large Wallach population in the south-eastern 
Polish provinces ; and the trade between the two countries was 
lively and lucrative. From about the middle of the sixteenth 
century onwards, the Lord Marchers of Poland took it upon 
themselves to interfere freely in Wallachian and Moldavian 
affairs without even consulting the Polish Government. In 
1558 Adalbert Laski assisted the fantastic polyglot adventurer 
calling himself " Heraclides, Prince of Samos/ to drive Peter 
Lepusnano from Moldavia and establish himself there. Herac- 
lides, however, was speedily expelled by the Turks ; and there 
matters would have rested had it not occurred to another Polish 
Pan^ Prince Demetrius Wisniowiecki, to reinstate Heraclides 
by force of arms. The adventure ended most disastrously. 
Heraclides was defeated and tortured to death by the rival can- 
didate ; Wisniowiecki perished miserably at Stambul ; and those 
of the Polish captives who were not massacred on the spot, were 
sent home minus their ears and noses. Fortunately for Sigis- 
mund, the contemporary disasters of the Turks in Hungary, 
which led to the truce of Erlau (1562), disinclined the Sublime 
Porte to embark in a war with Poland on this occasion. 

These so-called Kozakowania\ always inconvenient and 
disquieting, were doubly so at this period, when Sigismund II 
was about to embark upon an enterprise which must infallibly 
lead to a ftesh war with the Moscovite. 

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the dominion of 
the ancient Knights of the Sword, which extended, roughly 
speaking, from the Gulf of Finland to a little beyond the 
Northern Dwina, and from Lake Peipus to the Baltic, was 
about to fall to pieces from sheer caducity. Inflanty, or 
Livonia, as it was generally called, had long been one of the 
principal markets of Europe, where English, Dutch, and 
Scandinavian merchants jostled each other in search of corn, 
timber, hides and the other raw products of Lithuania and 
^ ue, embarking in adventures after the manner of Cossacks. 


84 The last of the Jagiellos, 1548-1572 [ch. 

Moscovy. Originally a compact, self-sufficient, unconquerable 
military colony in the midst of savage and jarring barbarians, 
the Order had, in the course of ages, sunk into a condition of 
confusion and decrepitude that tempted the greed of the three 
great monarchies — Sweden, Moscovy and Poland — which had, 
in the meantime, grown up around and now pressed hard upon 
it. The Gulf of Finland still separated the Livonian lands from 
Sweden, but the Moscovite had only to cross the Narowa, the 
Polack, the Dwina, to strike at the very heart of the crumbling 
realm. Livonia was to be an apple of discord between the three 
northern Powers for generations to come. Each of the three 
aimed at the domination of the Baltic, and the first^ step 
towards the domination of the Baltic was the possession of 

Poland was the first to intervene. In June, 1556, Wilhelm of 
Brandenburg, Archbishop of Riga, appealed to Sigismund for 
help against the Grand Master, Wilhelm von Fiirstenberg. Sigis- 
mund sent his ambassadors to mediate between the rivals; but, 
in the meantime, Fiirstenberg had besieged and captured the 
Archbishop in Kokenhausen ; and Lancki, one of the Polish 
envoys, was murdered by the Grand Master's son. This 
outrage gave Sigismund an excellent excuse for intervening 
directly. He invaded south Livonia with an overwhelming 
force of 80,000 men, forcibly reconciled the Archbishop and 
the Grand Master in his camp at Pozwole (Sept. 1557), 
and compelled the Order to contract an offensive and defensive 
alliance with Poland directed against Moscovy. In 1558, when 
Ivan IV invaded Livonia ^ Fiirstenberg fled to Poland, leaving 
Gotthard von Kettler Grand Master in his stead. In June, 
1559, the Estates of Livonia, in terror of the Moscovite, 
formally placed themselves beneath the protection of the 
Polish Crown, to which they at the same time ceded their 
southernmost provinces, Courland and Semigallia (Treaties of 
Wilna, August 31 and Sept 15). It is worthy of note 
^ See Chapter vii. 

v] The conquest of Livonia 85 

that Sigismund concluded these important treaties not as King 
of Poland but as Grand Duke of Lithuania, the Polish Sejm 
refusing all cooperation and responsibility for an affair which, 
they said, concerned Lithuania alone. The almost simul- 
taneous occupation of Oesel by the Danes and of Esthonia by 
the Swedes ^ and the horrible devastation of central Livonia by 
Ivan IV, accelerated the incorporation of Livonia with Lithu- 
ania. In 1 56 1 the Lithuanian Hetman, Prince Nicholas 
Radziwill, received the submission of the Grand Master and 
the Archbishop in his camp before Riga. In September of the 
same year a great Livonian deputation proceeded to Wilna to 
render homage to Sigismund, and, on November 28, the 
incorporation of Livonia was accomplished ; though the 
compact of subjection was not signed till February, 1562. 
Sigismund swore to confirm all the privileges of the Livonian 
nobility, to relieve them from all military burdens, to recognise 
the Augsburg Confession in his new domains. Kettler 
thereupon exchanged Catholicism for Lutheranism, and 
became a feudatory of Poland under the title of Duke of 
Courland, which dignity was to be hereditary in his heirs male. 
Simultaneously, Sweden was disarmed by a compact made with 
Duke John of Finland who, on October 4, 1562, arrived at 
Wilna, and was there married to Sigismund's third sister 
Catharine. Thus the tact and tenacity of Sigismund II had 
succeeded in excluding Moscovy from the sea. For the first 
time in her history, Poland had the opportunity of establishing 
herself as a naval Power. The ablest of Sigismund's counsellors 
fully understood the importance of the newly acquired provinces. 
" Methinks," observed the Polish Vice-Chancellor Myszkowski, 
** that Polish fleets will soon be sailing on the sea, and that the 
King of Denmark will be more straitened thereon than 

The last and greatest service which Sigismund II rendered 
to his country was the amalgamation of Poland and Lithuania. 
^ See my Scandinavia^ in the same series. 

86 The last of the Jagiellos, 1548-1572 [ch. 

All the Princes of the House of Jagiello had aimed at this ; and 
Sigismund II, taught by their and his own experience, 
recognised the necessity of such an amalgamation more clearly 
than any of them. The present loose, weak confederacy 
included within it all the elements of disruption. The Polish 
State could never subsist as a great power so long as it was 
divided into two semi-independent principalities with strong 
centrifugal tendencies. In Poland itself men were of one 
mind as to the desirability of a complete and absolute union ; 
but the Lithuanian magnates, who still exercised absolute 
authority over the gentry, obstinately opposed a union the 
first effect of which would be to swamp their comparatively 
insignificant numbers amidst the countless masses of the 
Polish gentry. Only the fear of the Moscovite, with whom 
they were always, more or less, at war, induced the Lithuanians 
to entertain the proposal at all. The project of a closer union 
was first debated at the Diet of Warsaw (Nov. 1563 — June 
1564) to which the Lithuanians sent delegates. The discus- 
sion was warm on both sides and ultimately came to nothing ; 
but the King judiciously prepared the way for future negotia- 
tions by voluntarily relinquishing his hereditary title to the 
throne of Lithuania, so as to place the contending nationalities 
more on a level to start with. In 1565 died Black Radziwill, 
the principal opponent of the Union in Lithuania; and the 
negotiations were reopened, under far more favourable condi- 
tions, at the Diet which met at Lublin on January 10, 1569. 
Nevertheless, in a memorial presented by their Vice-Treasurer, 
Naruszewicz, the Lithuanians refused to go beyohd a personal 
union, and, on the rejection of their memorial, withdrew from 
the Diet, leaving two of their dignitaries to watch the 
proceedings on their behalf. Then the King took a decisive 
step, and, of his own authority, as ruler of Lithuania, incorpor- 
ated the border provinces of Volhynia, Podlasia and the 
Ukraine with the Crown \ whereupon the Podlasian deputies 
^ The official designation of Poland. 

v] The Union of Lublin 87 

swore the oath of allegiance to him as King of Poland, and 
took their seats alongside their Polish colleagues. Their 
example was quickly followed by the Volhynians. Perceiving 
that further resistance would be useless, the Lithuanian 
delegates returned to the Diet and accepted the Union 
as proposed by the Xing. On July i the Act of Union was 
solemnly sworn to in the church of the Franciscans,- whereupon 
Sigismund, followed by the Senate, proceeded in the pouring 
rain to the church of the Dominicans and kneeling on the steps 
of the Altar intoned a " Te Deum." Henceforth, in the words 
of the statute confirming this great act, " the Crown of Poland 
and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is a composite and 
indivisible body and also one composite and common republic, 
or the incorporation and welding together of two States into 
one Nation." They were to have one Pan^ or Sovereign Lord, 
elected jointly, one Sejm^ one and the same currency. Every 
restriction upon the settlement of Poles in Lithuania or of 
Lithuanians in Poland was abolished. The Prussian and 
Livonian provinces were to belong to Poland and Lithuania 
in common. One relic of her former independence still 
remained to Lithuania. She retained her own separate 
dignitaries. Thus, to the very end, the Grand Hetman and the 
Vice-Hetman, the Grand Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor 
of Lithuania, etc., continued to officiate side by side with their 
colleagues of the Crown. 

The last years of Sigismund II were comparatively 
tranquil. The intermittent, indecisive, Moscovite War dragged 
on for atime^ despite the Polish victories at Ula (1564) and 
Czasniki (1567); but in 1571 it was suspended by the usual 
truce. With all other Powers Sigismund remained friendly. 
Yet one poignant grief haunted him perpetually : he had no 
heir to whom to leave the Kingdom he had so ably 
guarded and consolidated. None of his three wives and^ 
neither of his two mistresses, Barbara Gizanka and Aiyia 
^ For details see Chapter vii. 

88 The last of the Jagiellos, 1548-1572 [ch. 

Zajanczkowska, with whom he successively cohabited in the 
hope of offspring (which the Diet solemnly engaged to legiti- 
mate beforehand), had borne him children. The death of his 
sickly third wife Catharine (Feb. 28, 1572) released him at 
last from the bonds of wedlock ; and he thereupon declared his 
intention of wedding Gizanka, but it was too late. At 8 o'clock 
on the morning of July 9, Sigismund II expired at his favourite 
ch&teau at Knyszyn, in his 52nd year. In his last will and 
testament he Holcmnly exhorted the two nations, " whom God 
hath exulted above all other nations," to live together in peace 
and harmony and invoked the curse of Heaven on whomsoever 
should sow discord between them. 

The Jttgicl Ionic period of Polish history (1386-15 7 2), 
which terminates with the death of Sigismund II, is the history 
of the fusion into one political whole of numerous national 
elements, more or less akin ethnologically, but differing 
widely in language!, religion, and, above all, in degrees of civili- 
sation. Out of the ancient I*iast Kingdom, mutilated by the 
loss of Silesia and the Baltic shore, arose a confederacy 
consisting, at first, of various loosely-connected entities, 
naturally centrifugal, l)ut temporarily forced together by the 
urgent need of combination against a superior foe who 
threatened them, separately, with extinction. Beneath the 
guidance of a dynasty of Princes which, curiously enough, was 
supplied by the least civilised portion of this congeries of 
nationalities, the nascent confederacy gradually grew into 
a Power which subjugated its former oppressors and, viewed 
externally, seemed to bear upon it the promise of Empire. In 
politics it is always dangerous to prophecy, but all the facts and 
circumstances before us point irresistibly to the conclusion 
that had the Jagiellonic Dynasty but endured, this promise of 
Empire might well have been realised. The extraordinary 
thing about the Jagiellos was the equable persistency of their 
genius. Not only were fiye of tl>e s^ven statesmen, but they 

v] Characteristic of the Jagiellos 89 

were statesmen of the same stamp. We are disturbed by no 
such sharp contrasts as are to be found among the Vasas and 
the Bourbons. The Jagiellos were all of the same mould and 
pattern, but the mould was a strong one and the pattern 
was good. Their predominant and constant characteristics 
were a sober sagacity and a calm tenaciousness. The 
Jagiellos were rarely brilliant, but they were always perspica- 
cious; and they alone seem to have had the gift of guiding 
successfully along the path of prosperity the most flighty and 
self-willed of nations. 



The death of Sigismund II, though long foreseen, came 
upon Poland unexpectedly, and at an inconvenient and even 
dangerous moment. Of foreign complications there was 
happily no fear. The Grand Turk had not yet recovered 
from the shock of Lepanto (Oct. 7, 1571); and Ivan IV, 
with a view to obtaining the Polish Crown cheaply, by fair 
means, had, but recently, concluded a truce with the Polish 
Government The Austrian and Swedish Courts had no 
motive for offending the Poles on the eve of an election in 
which they were both equally interested. Externally, then, the 
political horizon was absolutely cloudless. All the more dis- 
quieting was the internal situation. The Union of Lublin, 
barely three years old, was still extremely unpopular in 
Lithuania. In Poland proper, the Szlachta was fiercely 
opposed to the magnates ; and the Protestants seemed bent 
upon still further castigating the Catholic clergy. At the first 
moment of surprise and dismay, nobody seemed to know 
exactly what to do. Even the dead body of the last Jagiello 
was shamefully n^lected. Gizanka, Sigismund's much-beloved 
mistress, pillaged the royal treasury so effectually that there 
vrats not enough left wherewith to clothe the corpse becomingly, 
as it lay in state; and Fogelweder, Sigismund's German 
physician, for the sake of decency, took the gold chain off his 
own neck and placed it round the King's. Yet the Papal 

CH. vi] The first Interregnum 91 

Nuncio, shortly before, had estimated the value of the royal 
treasures at 10,000,000 ducats, and declared that the jewels of 
Rome and Venice were as nothing in comparison with those of 

Worst of all, there existed no recognised authority in the 
land to curb and control its jarring, centrifugal, political 
elements. Nothing had been fixed as to the succession ; it 
was nearly 200 years since Poland had last been saddled with 
an interregnum; and the precedents of 1382 were obsolete. 
The Primate Uchanski, on hearing of the demise of the Crown, 
at once invited all the Senators of Great Poland to a conference 
at Lowicz, but passed over the Szlachta altogether. In an 
instant, the whole Republic was seething like a cauldron. 
Jan Firlej, the Grand Marshal of the Crown, and the head 
of the Protestant party, instantly summoned to Cracow an 
independent confederation of the gentry, which received the 
support of the Senators of Little Poland who resented the 
exclusiveness of the Primate's assembly. Fortunately, civil 
war was averted at the last moment; and a Konwokacya, or 
National Assembly, composed of Senators and deputies from 
all parts of the Kingdom, assembled at Warsaw in April 1573, 
for the purpose of electing a new King. 

Meanwhile five candidates for the throne were already in 
the field. Lithuania was in favour of her near neighbour Tsar 
Ivan IV, whose election would have guaranteed her territories 
against Moscovite invasion. In Poland, the bishops and most 
of the Catholic magnates were in favour of an Austrian 
Archduke. But the House of Hapsburg was so obnoxious 
to the nation at large, that the Szlachta was disposed to accept 
almost any other candidate except a Moscovite. It was there- 
fore no very difficult task for the adroit and energetic French 
ambassador, Montluc — who had been sent to Poland (Oct. 
1572) by Catherine dei Medici to promote the candidature of 
her favourite son Henry, Duke of Anjou — to win over the 
majority of the Szlachta^ especially as it was notorious that the 

92 The first elective Kings, 1572-1588 [ch. 

Ottoman Porte, while inclined to tolerate a French Prince 
on the Polish throne, would regard the election of an Austrian 
Archduke as a casus belli, Montluc, well provided with funds, 
purcliased many of the magnates, but he placed his chief 
reliance in the ignorant and credulous masses of the Szlachta 
in whose hands the issues of the election really lay. He there- 
fore devoted his energies to captivating all the lesser gentry, 
irrespective of religion. Montluc's popularity reached its height 
when he strenuously advocated the revival of the semi-barbarous 
poxvszechne prawo glosowania^ or open, popular, mode of election 
by the gentry en masse, as opposed to the usual and more 
orderly ** secret election" by a congress of senators and 
deputies sitting with closed doors. It was due to his efforts, 
NC(*onded by the eloquence of the young Jan Zamoyski, now 
on the threshold of his brilliant career, that the Sejm decided 
in favour of the more popular method. The religious diffi- 
I'ulty, meanwhile, had been satisfactorily adjusted by the 
fompttct of Warsaw (Jan. 28, 1573), which granted absolute 
rt^ligious liberty to all non-Catholic denominations (" Dissi- 
donlOH de Religione " as they now began to be called) without 
rxerption, thus exhibiting a far more liberal intention than the 
(itMinans had manifested in the religious Peace of Augsburg, 
oighlorn years before. Nevertheless, the Warsaw Compact 
wttH eventually vitiated by the clauses which reserved to every 
u\ttHtor, spiritual or temporal, the right " to punish, according to 
hin Judgment," every rebellious servant, even if his rebellion 
vs'^^w entirely due to his religious convictions. This unlimited 
jH^wor of arbitrary correction speedily resulted in the absolute 
JivvlUom i>f the rural population; and eventually, when the 
lNr\^\\^tant proprietors were won back to the church by the 
j^r^wils* their dependents were of course forced to follow their 

Ki^rty in April 1573, the Election Diet began to assemble at 
WarsiAW ; ^ind across the newly-built bridge, the first that ever 
unitvHji the banks of the Vistula, flowed a stream of 40,000 

vi] Election of Henry of Valois 93 

electors, hastening to pitch their tents on the plain of Kamicnie, 
near Warsaw, where the fate of the Kingdom was to be decided. 
The next fortnight was passed in fierce debates, and in listening 
to the orations of the various foreign ambassadors on behalf 
of their respective candidates. The orators of Austria and 
Sweden were received but coldly because, though they had 
a great deal to say, they had very little to offer. Montluc, on 
the other hand, entranced the electors with a speech " worthy 
of eternal remembrance," which he took care to reinforce by 
private golden arguments. After this there could be no doubt 
of the success of the French candidate; and on May 11, 1573, 
Henry of Valois was elected King of Poland. 

Nevertheless, as the prospects of the Duke of Anjou had 
approached certainty, the more cool-headed of the electors 
had begun to feel some natural anxiety as to how far this 
foreign Prince, the offspring of a despotic House, would be 
likely to respect the liberties of the Republic. They had 
therefore, by way of precaution, drawn up the so-called 
" Henrician Articles " which deprived the future King of the 
privilege of electing his successor, forbade his marrying with- 
out the previous consent of the Senate, required him to protect 
all the religious sects equally, considerably restricted his 
authority as commander-in-chief, and bound him to accept 
a permanent council of 14 Senators, elected every two years by 
the Diet, four of whom, in rotation, were to be in constant 
attendance upon him. The articles were supplemented, a few 
days later, by pacta conventa, corresponding to our coronation 
oath, which Montluc signed on behalf of Henry. The new 
King bound himself thereby to maintain a fleet in the Baltic at 
his own expense, place 450,000 ducats at the disposal of the 
Republic, educate 100 young Polish nobles abroad, espouse 
the late King's sister, the Korolewna Anna, eighteen years his 
senior^, and confirm the Compact of Warsaw. Henry was per- 
suaded to accept the Facta at Notre Dame on September 10, 1 5 73 ; 
^ This article Henry refused to confirm. 

94 The first elective Kings, 1572-1588 [ch. 

and on February 21, 1574 he was solemnly crowned King 
at the Cathedral of Cracow. His reign, dating from his 
arrival in Poland, lasted exactly four months. To a man of 
his tastes and inclinations, his new position was intolerable; 
and, when the death of his brother Charles IX left him the heir 
to the French throne, he resolved to escape from his trouble- 
some and terrifying Polish subjects forthwith. On June 19, 
1574, half-an-hour after midnight, he fled from the Castle of 
Cracow accompanied by a few French lords. A week later he 
was dancing at a ball at Chambdry, to which place he was 
pursued by a company of Polish cavaliers who besought him 
to return. This he absolutely refused to do; and he was 
formally deposed by the Diet which met at Stenczyc in May 
1575- When, however, the question arose how to fill the 
vacancy, the assembly split up into half a dozen fiercely 
antagonistic sections. Anything like agreement was hopeless. 
Finally, it was resolved that the whole question should be 
referred to another Diet which the Primate, acting as Interrex, 
summoned to meet at Warsaw on November 7. 

A few weeks later, the Poles were taught the evils of anarchy 
by a terrible lesson. In the beginning of October the eastern 
provinces were ravaged by a Tatar horde, 120,000 strong. The 
gentry shut themselves up in their castles ; the common people 
fled to the nearest stronghold, while " the scourge of God " 
swept over the rich plains of the Ukraine, leaving a smoking 
wilderness behind them and vanishing into their native steppes 
with 55,000 captives, 150,000 horses and countless herds of 
cattle. This lesson was not thrown away. At the Diet of 
Warsaw a King was really elected — though not the King that 
all the world had been led to expect. 

Anxious to avoid violence and disorder, the Senate had 
issued a proclamation restricting the retinue of each magnate 
to 50 persons, and forbidding the Szlachta to carry any other 
arms than the usual sword and halbert. This proclamation 
was absolutely disregarded. Every one of the magnates who 

vi] The second Interregnum 95 

attended the Diet was surrounded by a body-guard of at least 
1000 horsemen. The gentry also came armed cap-h-pied. The 
prohibited arquebuses and spiked battle-axes were in every- 
body's possession, and there were whole forests of lances. All 
the materials for a bloody civil war were present on the field of 

From November 13 to 18 audience was given to the orators 
of the various competitors, who included the Emperor 
Maximilian, the Archdukes Ernest and Ferdinand of Austria, 
John III of Sweden, the Duke of Ferrara, and Stephen 
Bathory, Prince of Transylvania. From November 18 to 25 the 
whole matter was debated in the Senate, which, profoundly 
influenced by the papal legate Vincenzo Laureo (who has left us 
a vivid account of the proceedings), declared in favour of the 
Emperor Maximilian by a large majority. But the Izha^ or 
Lower House, where the debates lasted from November 22 to 
November 30, would not have a German at any price. This 
turbulent assembly was dominated by Jan Zamoyski, the most 
determined foe of the Hapsburgs, who fulminated so eloquently 
against " the craft and cruelty of the House of Austria " that 
the Szlachta determined, on November 30, by an enormous 
majority, to elect a Plasty or native Pole. As, however, both 
the noblemen nominated by the Szlachta at once declined 
the dangerous honour, the Senate, on December 10, proclaimed 
Maximilian King. 

At sunrise, next morning, 7000 Polish nobl emen assembled^ 
outside the city to protest, swurd lii hand, against the election 
of the Emperor. Yet the embarrassment of the assembly was 
at least equal to its indignation. The question was, whom 
were they to elect, for no native candidate dared to come 
forward against the Hapsburgs. At last, when the confusion 
was worse confounded, the Palatine of Cracow suddenly arose 
and proposed Stephen Bathory, Prince of Transylvania. In 
an instant the name of Bathory was on every lip; and, on 
December 14, he was unanimously elected King of Poland and 

96 The first elective KingSy 1572-1588 [ch. 

Grand Duke of Lithuania, on condition that he signed the usual 
pacta conventa and espoused the Princess Anna. Thus Poland 
had now two Kings elect, one supported by the Senate, the 
other by the Diet. 

A race for the Crown immediately ensued. The last act of 
the Diet was to send a deputation to Transylvania to con- 
gratulate Bathory on his election and invite him to come 
instantly to Poland. Meanwhile his partisans had not been 
idle. Another Diet, summoned by the advice of Zamoyski, 
assembled at Jendrzejow (Jan. 18, 1576), confirmed the 
election of Stephen, sent an embassy to Vienna forbidding the 
Emperor to enter Poland, and then, marching to Cracow, put 
to flight all the Emperor's partisans. 

But a splendid embassy had alreg,dy been sent by the 
Senate to Vienna to announce to the Emperor Maximilian his 
election. On March 23 Maximilian accepted the Polish Crown ; 
but, on the following day, deputies from the Diet of Jendrzejow 
arrived at Vienna to inform the Emperor, officially, that Stephen 
Bathory was now the lawful King of Poland. They were 
speedily followed by a chiaus from the Sultan, who declared 
that any attempt on the part of Maximilian to disturb either 
the Polish or the Transylvanian possessions of the new Prince 
would be regarded at Stambul as a casus belli. But the sudden 
death of Maximilian at the very moment when, in league with 
the Moscovite, he was about to invade Poland, completely 
changed the face of things. 

King Stephen was now firmly established on his throne. On 
Easter Monday (March 23, 1576) he made his state entry into 
Cracow with great magnificence. On May i he and his wife- 
elect the Princess Anna were solemnly crowned King and Queen 
of Poland. The coronation was followed by the nuptials of the 
Sovereigns, banquets and tourneys, the distribution of offices and 
dignities (Zamoyski's appointment to the Vice-Chancellorship 
was one of the first) and the issue of universals summoning a 
general Diet to Warsaw in the beginning of June. All who 

vi] The wars of Bdthory 97 

failed to appear there at the appointed time were to be regarded 
as traitors and rebels. Then Bathory, who was determined, he 
said, to shew that he was " neither a painted nor a ballad King," 
set off for Warsaw to meet the Diet. 

The leading events of Stephen's glorious reign can here 
only be very briefly indicated. All armed opposition to him 
collapsed with the surrender of the great city of Dantzic, since 
1454 a self-centred, autonomous, free State. The '* Pearl of 
Poland," encouraged by her immense wealth and almost 
impregnable fortifications, as well as by the secret support 
of Denmark and the Emperor, had shut her gates against the 
new monarch, and was only reduced, December 16, 1577, after a 
six months' siege, beginning with a pitched battle beneath her 
walls, in which she lost 5000 of her mercenaries, and the famous 
banner with the inscription "Aurea Libertas." Dantzic was 
compelled to pay a fine of 200,000 gulden into the royal 
treasury, but her civil and religious liberties were wisely con- 
firmed. Stephen was now able to devote himself exclusively 
to foreign affairs, which demanded equally decided and delicate 
handling. The difficulties with the Sultan were temporarily 
adjusted by a truce signed November 5, 1577; and the Diet was 
at length persuaded, though not without the utmost difficulty, to 
grant Stephen subsidies for the inevitable war with Moscovy — 
subsidies which, as usual, proved totally inadequate. 

Two campaigns of wearing marches, and still more ex- 
hausting sieges, ensued, in which Bathory, although repeatedly 
hampered by the parsimony of the short-sighted Szlachta, 
which could not be made to see that the whole future fate 
of Poland depended on the issue of the war, was uniformly 
successful, his skilful diplomacy, at the same time, allaying the 
growing jealousy of the Porte and the Emperor. The details 
of the war will be found in the following chapter ; here it is only 
necessary to say that the fruits of his triumph were considerably 
diminished by the intervention of the papal nuncio Possevino, 
whom the Curia, deceived by the delusive mirage of a union of 
B. 7 

98 The first elective Kings, 157 2-1 588 [ch. 

the churches, had sent expressly from Rome to mediate between 
the Tsar and the King of Poland. Nevertheless, by the Treaty 
of Zapolsk (Jan. 15, 1582), Moscovy ceded to Poland Wielicz, 
Polock, and the whole of Livonia, but was allowed to retain 

It is a melancholy and significant fact that Stephen Bdthory's 
brilliant services to his adopted country, far from being re 
warded with the dutiful gratitude of his new subjects, made 
him absolutely unpopular with both the magnates and the 
Szlachta, Not one word of thanks did the King receive from 
the Diet for repulsing Moscovy, till Zamoyski put the whole 
assembly to shame by rising in their midst and delivering an 
eloquent panegyric in which he publicly thanked his Sovereign, 
" in the presence of this ungrateful people," for his inestimable 
services. The opposition was marshalled round the wealthy 
and powerful Zborowski family, which had monopolised the 
principal dignities in the kingdom during the short reign of 
Henry. From the first, they had treated the new King in- 
solently. At a levee, held soon after his coronation, the head 
of the family, the Grand Marshal, Zborowski (the nuncio tells 
us), " fell to reasoning of good swords, drew forth his own blade 
from its scabbard, and lauded it as one of the best in the 
presence of Bathory, who, justly taking offence thereat, suddenly 
loosed his scimitar from his girdle, and beating down with it 
the other's sword, flashed the scimitar in his face, remarking 
that it was a still better blade than his (Zborowski's sword), 
whereupon, the Marshal, perceiving his error in unsheathing 
his sword in the royal presence, straightway fell upon his knees 
and begged pardon." The Zborowscy especially resented the 
influence of the upstart Zamoyski ; and their conduct became 
so seditious and defamatory that the King was obliged, at last, 
to take action. His opportunity came when the outlawed 
homicide, Samuel Zborowski, presumed to return to Poland. 
Zamoyski at once arrested him, and he was arraigned for high 
treason before a tribunal presided over by the King. After a 

vi] Stephen's foreign policy 99 

scrupulously fair trial, he was condemned to death and duly 
beheaded at the castle of Cracow, May 26, 1584. The Diet 
which assembled on January 15, 1585, took up the cause of the 
Zborowscy; and the whole session was little more than a 
determined struggle between law and order on one side, as 
represented by the King and his Chancellor, and anarchy and 
rebellion as represented by the Zborowski faction, on the 
other. Ultimately, however, Stephen prevailed; the sentence 
of Samuel Zborowski was confirmed ; and his kinsman, 
Christopher, was declared infamous and banished (Feb. 22, 

Stephen's policy in religious matters aimed at consolidation 
and pacification. Devoted Catholic as he was, he nevertheless 
respected the liberties of the Protestants, severely punished the 
students of Cracow for attacking their conventicles, and even 
protected the Jews. A man of culture himself, he justly appre- 
ciated the immense value of education and relied especially 
on the Jesuits, who happened to be the best educational instru- 
ments at his command. He established the Order in Posen, 
Cracow, Riga, and other places, and from their seminaries, 
whose superiority was speedily and universally recognised (the 
Protestants themselves sending their children to be educated 
there), issued those " lions of the spirit," to use Skarga's ex- 
pression, who were to complete the reconversion of Poland to 

High political reasons also bound Stephen Bathory to the 
Jesuits. They, almost alone, had the intelligence to understand 
and promote his Imperial designs, which aimed at nothing less 
than incorporating Moscovy with Poland, and uniting the King- 
doms of Poland and Hungary, with the object of ultimately 
expelling the Turks from Europe. These grandiose, but, in 
view of the peculiar circumstances and of Stephen's com- 
manding genius, not altogether impracticable designs, were first 
suggested by the death of Ivan the Terrible (1584). Stephen's 
views found an ardent supporter in the new Pope Sixtus V, to 

7—2 . 

loo The first elective Kings ^ 1572-1588 [ch. 

whom the King sent a special mission to expound his plans. 
He offered, in return for 3,648,000 ducats, to put on foot 
84,000 men-at-arms for the Turkish campaign, and 24,000 for 
the conquest of Moscovy. The Pope thereupon despatched 
Possevino on a second special mission to Poland and Russia, 
to pave the way for this vast undertaking; and a Diet was 
summoned by Stephen to meet at Grodno in February, 1587, 
to consider the whole scheme. The project was for ever 
dissipated by the sudden death of Bathory, who was carried 
off by a fit of apoplexy on December 12, 1586, at the age of 53. 
In his all too brief reign of ten years he had already approved 
himself one of the foremost statesmen and soldiers of his age. 

The death of Stephen, like the breaking of a dike, let loose 
a raging flood of long repressed bitterness and violence. The 
Convocation Diet (Feb. 3-March 13), summoned by the 
Primate, was dominated by the Zborowscy, who denounced 
**the Pasha'' — so they called Zamoyski— as a traitor against 
the national liberties. Only the sudden collapse of a stove, 
beneath the weight of the spectators crowding upon it, pre- 
vented a free fight in full Senate. For a time the Zborowscy 
continued to be in the ascendant. Their first act was to banish 
all the Bdthorys from Poland, thus frustrating the Chancellor's 
original. intention of raising Stephen's brother. Cardinal Andrew 
Bdthory, to the throne. 

June 29 had been fixed for the assembling of the Election- 
Diet at Warsaw ; and thither all the chief magnates hastened 
with numerous retinues, in full panoply. The Primate was 
escorted by 500 horsemen ; Gorka, Palatine of Posen, brought 
with him 1086 hussars, reiters and cossacks ; but Zamoyski, who 
had hitherto kept in the background, shewed plainly that he 
meant, if necessary, to meet force by force, by marching into 
Warsaw at the head of a host of 6000 veteran mercenaries of 
all arms, with the best procurable artillery ready for action. 
The field of election was now a curious and alarming spectacle. 
In the midst of it towered the okbp or entrenched pavilion 

vi] Zamoyski and the Zborowscy loi 

where the Senate was to hold its sessions. A quarter of a mile 
off lay the Czarne Kolo\ as the fortified camp of the Chancellor 
was called. On the opposite side the partisans of the Zborowscy, 
also armed to the teeth, occupied another camp, the Generalne 
Kolo^, The Lithuanians formed a third camp apart. From 
the first there seemed no prospect of an agreement. The 
Zborowscy refused to proceed with the election business till 
Samuel and Christopher Zborowsky had been rehabilitated, 
which would have been equivalent to the condemnation of 
Zamoyski. Zamoyski demanded to be heard in his defence. 
He brilliantly vindicated himself before the Senate ; but " the 
general circle" refused to listen to him. Three weeks were 
wasted in futile wranglings, the Primate and Senate acting 
as mediators. On July 22 the Zborowscy refused to listen to 
any further representations, and proclaimed a rokosz^. The 
"Black Circle" protested against this dangerous political 
novelty ; and a pitched battle round the okop of the Senate was 
only averted with the utmost difficulty. Fortunately, the mass 
of the Szlachia was growing weary of its enforced and expensive 
detention at Warsaw. A month had elapsed since the assem- 
bling of the Diet, and not a step had been taken towards 
electing a new King. Ugly rumours, too, of the massing of 
foreign troops on the frontier and of a secret understanding 
between the Tsar and the Emperor, now accelerated the action 
of the Electors. The Lithuanians elected Tsar Theodore I, 
the successor of Ivan the Terrible ; but Zamoyski, despite the 
tempting offers of the Austrian wire-pullers*, and now greatly 
strengthened by the accession of the Primate and all the Bishops 
but one, proposed the election of Sigismund, Prince Royal 
of Sweden, the nephew of Sigismund II, as the best candidate 

1 Black Circle. ' The General Circle. 

' An armed insurrection against the existing authorities. Both the word 
and the thing were imported from Hungary. 

* The Court of Vienna offered him the dignity of Reichsfurst^ and 
Philip of Spain promised him the Golden Fleece and 200,000 ducats. 

I02 The first elective Kings, 1572-1588 [ch. vi 

available. Moreover, being a Catliolic, he was not unacceptable 
to Rome. On August 19, 1587, Sigismund Vasa was elected 
King of Poland in the " Black Circle" ; on October 7 he landed 
at Dantzic; on December 27 he was solemnly crowned at Cracow. 
The Hapsburgs and their supporters, the Zborowscy, were 
furious. The Archduke Maximilian had been elected King 
in the " General Circle " on the same day that Sigismund had 
been elected in the " Black Circle," and he was not dis- 
posed to forfeit his newly-won crown without a struggle. But 
Zamoyski was too quick for him. With the aid of 100,000 
gulden, borrowed from Queen Anna, a warm supporter of her 
nephew's cause, the Chancellor had already raised an army. 
He hastened southwards and defeated Maximilian beneath 
the walls of Cracow (Nov. 23). Early in the following year, 
Maximilian, assisted by a large Polish contingent under Andrew 
Zborowski, again invaded Poland ai)d laid siege to Cracow ; 
but the Chancellor routed him at the bloody battle^ of Byczyna 
(Jan. 24, 1588). Zamoyski was now completely master of the 
situation ; and the throne of Sigismund III was secure. 

* One third of the contending forces on both sides bit the dust. 



We have seen how the Jagiellos laid the foundation of the 
Polish Monarchy ; we have also seen how that monarchy was 
arrested in its development, and diverted from its purpose, by 
the centrifugal tendencies of a jealous and undisciplined aris- 
tocracy. In Moscovy, meanwhile^ the principles of monarchy 
were gaining steadily in strength. The last vestige of semi- 
independence disappeared when Pskov, " with much weeping 
and wailing," was forced, in 15 10, to surrender her "assembly 
bell " and charter, as Novgorod had done a few years earlier. 
Something also had been recovered from the West. The 
Grand Dukes of Moscovy, now, occasionally adopting, with 
caution and circumspection, the higher title of Tsar^, were 
pursuing their traditional policy of collecting together the old 
Russian lands. Both Sigismund I and Sigismund II had been 
obliged to fall back before the gradual but persistent pressure 
of their gigantic neighbour, though the capture of Smolensk, in 
15 14, was the first substantial triumph of the Moscovite over 
the Pole. But the advance of Moscovy westwards was 
repeatedly interrupted and retarded by the interference of the 
Crimean Tatars and their allies. The Giraj dynasty, which 
reigned in the Crimea, had been willing enough to live 

^ The usual title was still '* Gosudar (Sovereign) of all Russia," but 
both Ivan III and his son Vasily III, in their letters to the Emperor, or 
other foreign potentates, frequently styled themselves "Tsars of all Russia.** 

I04 IvcLn the Terrible, 1 534-1 584 [ch. 

amicably with the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Moscovy so 
long as they themselves were in constant fear of the Golden 
Horde of Kipchak and the Sultan of Turkey. But when the 
Golden Horde collapsed and the Ottoman Power visibly 
declined, the Crimean Khans raised their heads once more, 
claimed to be the Suzerains of Moscovy and Lithuania, and 
habitually blackmailed the two Grand Duchies with perfect 
impunity. Even Sigismund I thought it expedient to accept 
yarluiki^ or letters of investiture, from the Khan for his Lithu- 
anian provinces, and for years the Lithuanians paid to the 
Tatars tribute known as Orduinshchina^ or the " Horde Tax." 
Moscovy fared much worse, because the Tatars were nearer 
neighbours and her powers of resistance were feebler. The 
military efficiency of Lithuania was still far superior to that of 
Moscovy ; and in the Dnieperian Cossacks she possessed valiant 
if capricious defenders. The Cossacks of Moscovy, on the 
other hand, were few, remote, and scattered ; and her own 
untrained and ill-armed levies were rarely a match for the 
Tatar hordes. Throughout the reign of Vasily III ( 1505- 
1533) Moscovy was warring incessantly against these alert and 
ubiquitous marauders ; and in nearly every encounter they were 
victorious. Kazan was the chief bone of contention between 
the Khan of the Crimea and the Moscovite Grand Duke. In 
15 18 the throne of Kazan fell vacant; and Vasily enthroned 
thereon Shig Ali, the hereditary foe of the Girais, who drove 
him out in 152 1, and placed Saip, brother of the Crimean 
Khan, Mahomet, on the throne, in his stead. The same year, 
Khan Mahomet raided Vasily's territory up to the very walls of 
Moscow, carrying off 80,000 captives who were sold as slaves 
at Perekop and Kaffa. In the following year, Mahomet 
conquered Astrakhan, hitherto an independent Khanate ; but 
his allies, the Nogai Tatars, alarmed by his threatening pre- 
dominance, suddenly turned against and slew him, and ravaged 
Ihe Crimea terribly. Vasily at once took advantage of this to 
JUliki a fortress, Vasilsarsk, in Kazan territory as a preliminary 

vii] Vastly III and Helena Glinsky 105 

to the conquest of the Khanates. But a first expedition 
of 150,000 men was baffled, in 1524, by the Cheremiss horse- 
men in the pay of Kazan ; and a second expedition, six years 
later, under Michael Glinsky, which seemed to have every 
chance of success, failed through the refusal of the Boyars to 
obey the orders of their Lithuanian commander. 

The fact that Michael Glinsky led the second expedition 
against Kazan shew^s that his star was once more in the ascen- 
dant in Moscovy. He returned to court shortly after the 
Grand Duke's marriage (in Jan. 1526), with Glinsky's niece 
Helena, Vasily's first consort, Solomona, having been divorced 
for sterility, though not without considerable opposition from 
the Conservatives, and immured in a monastery in 1525. 
From henceforth Glinsky remained the Grand Duke's chief 
counsellor; and, on his death-bed, Vasily appointed Glinsky one 
of the guardians of his eldest son and successor Ivan IV, then 
a child of three. 

Vasily III expired on December 3, 1533. Shortly before 
his death, he took the monkish habit under the name of 
Varlam. He seems to have been a kindly Prince of somewhat 
timid character, with a tincture of letters and no very great 
liking for war, though unswervingly pursuing the traditional 
forward policy of his House. 

Vasily III had appointed the Tsaritsa Helena Regent during 
the minority of his son, with a Dunia^ or Council, to assist her. 
By far the most eminent and capable member of the Council 
was Michael Glinsky, but, unfortunately, he quarrelled w^ith his 
niece's equerry and paramour. Prince Ivan Oschin-Telepnev- 
Obolensky and, as the reward of his presumption, was immured 
in a dungeon and slowly starved to death, only eight months 
after Helena's accession to power, August, 1534. It was a 
stupid as well as a barbarous and unnatural act on the Regent's 
part, for both she, as a foreigner, and Obolensky, as an upstart, 
were detested by the Boyars, who lost no time in plotting 
against them both, even invoking the assistance of both Turkey 

io6 Ivan the Terrible, 1534-1584 [ch. 

and Lithuania against this regimen of women. Nevertheless, 
Helena maintained her position for four years, when she died 
suddenly, April 3, 1538. We have very good authority for 
believing that she was poisoned by enemies who could not get 
rid of her in any other way. The most notable event of her 
brief reign was the renewal of the truce with Lithuania for five 
years, from 1537, after a snort and bloody but indecisive war. 

The ex-equerry Prince Ivan Oschin-Telepnev-Obolensky 
now stood alone and defenceless, face to face, with numerous 
powerful enemies. Of these enemies, the man who hated the 
upstart most was, naturally, the man who considered himself 
best fitted to fill the upstart's place. This was Prince Vasily 
Shuisky. Vasily Shuisky, 24 years earlier, had prevented 
Smolensk from falling into the hands of the Poles, after the 
catastrophe of Orsza, by hanging all the principal citizens on 
the ramparts of the fortress in the sight of the besieging army. 
A man so energetic in the public service would not be less 
energetic in the attainment of his private ends. A week after 
the Regent's death, Shuisky flung her favourite into prison, 
where starvation and chains of excessive weight soon killed him. 
The favourite's sister, Agrafina, the little Grand Duke's nurse, 
was, at the same time, made a nun and sent to the distant 
monastery of Kargopol. All those who had been proscribed 
by the late Government were then released, but among them 
was a Boyar whose presence at court did not promise Vasily 
Shuisky a long ascendency. This formidable rival was the 
Boyar Ivan Byelsky, a descendant of the Lithuanian Grand 
Duke Gedymin, and connected by marriage with the reigning 
Grand Duke of Moscovy. Byelsky had, moreover, been 
imprisoned for no fault of his, and he was not the man to forget 
either his pretensions or his sufferings. A struggle for power 
immediately ensued. At first the Shuiskies prevailed, and the 
Byelskies returned to the dungeons from which they had just 
emerged. Then Vasily Shuisky died, and his brother Ivan took 
the lead of the Party. 

vii] The Shuiskies and the Byelskies 107 

Ivan Shuisky's violence drew a protest from the Metro- 
politan Daniel, who was promptly suppressed; but Daniel's 
successor, Josafat, first procured the release of Ivan Byelsky, 
and then Byelsky and the Metropolitan together succeeded in 
overthrowing Ivan Shuisky, July 1540. But the Shuiskies 
had strong supporters among the Boyars of Great Novgorod 
where the family was very popular (a Shuisky had been the last 
Governor of independent Novgorod) ; and a conspiracy was 
formed against Byelsky and the Metropolitan. Between two 
and three o'cjock in the morning of January 3, 1542, Ivan 
Byelsky was seized in his house at Moscow, conveyed to 
Byelozero and there murdered. The Metropolitan sought 
refuge in the apartments of the Grand Duke. Thither the 
conspirators pursued and horribly maltreated him, in the 
presence of the helpless and terrified Ivan, suddenly aroused 
from his slumbers. The unfortunate Metropolitan, more dead 
than alive, was finally banished to a distant monastery. 
Makary, Archbishop of Novgorod, was thereupon made Metro- 
politan of Moscow in the place of Josafat. The Shuiskies now 
felt secure ; but, twelve months later, their suspicious fears of 
the Grand Duke's favourite instructor, Theodore Vorontsov, 
drove them to commit a crowning outrage. On September 9, 
1543, while Vorontsov was dining with the Grand Duke in his 
private apartments, three of the Shuiskies, with their hirelings, 
burst into the room, seized Vorontsov, tore the clothes from his 
body, and fell to beating him savagely. They would have 
killed him outright but for the tears and supplications of 
Ivan ; but, though the young Prince saved Vorontsov's life, he 
could not prevent the Shuiskies from banishing his friend to 

The kidnapping of Vorontsov was the last overt act of 
violence on the part of the Boyars. A little more than three 
months later, Ivan, now in his 14th year, asserted his authority 
by overthrowing the first magnate in the land. On December 
19, 1543, he suddenly delivered Prince Andrei Shuisky into 

io8 Ivan the Terrible^ 1534-1584 [ch. 

the hands of the palace dog-keepers, who beat him to death as 
they dragged him off to prison. Shuisky's chief counsellors 
were banished at the same time. A year of suspense ensued. 
Then a fresh batch of Boyars, who had been concerned in the 
Vorontsov outrage and the conspiracy against the Metropolitan 
Josafat, were seized and exiled (Dec. 16, 1544). On Sep- 
tember 10, 1545, Athanasy Buturlin had his tongue cut out for 
indecorous language ; " and henceforth," says the contemporary 
lyeiopis^ " the Boyars began to fear and obey the Gosudar." 

The people with whom Ivan now consorted were his 
kinsfolk on his mother's side, represented by his grand- 
mother the Princess Anna Glinska and her family. But two 
things are already patent, the young Ivan's distrust of the 
Boyars and the higher classes generally, and his independence 
of character. He listened to advice, but initiated everything. 
Thus when, in May 1546, his meditated expedition to Kolumna 
against the Tatars was frustrated by the mutiny of the 
Novgorodian musketeers, the official selected to investigate the 
matter was the dumny dyaky or clerk of the council, Zakharov 
— a plebeian. Again, shortly afterwards, Ivan suddenly 
declared his intention of assuming the title of Tsar, a title 
which his father and grandfather could never make up their 
minds to adopt openly; and, on January 16, 1547, he was 
crowned Tsar by the Metropohtan. Previously to this, he had 
expressed the desire to marry, and, from the scores of virgins 
sent from every province of the Tsardom to Moscow for his 
inspection, he chose him to wife Anastasia the daughter of 
Roman Zakharin-Koshkin, a member of one of the most 
ancient and loyal of the old Boyar families, better known by its 
later name of Romanov. The marriage, which took place on 
February 3, 1547, was a very happy one. A few months after 
the wedding Moscow was visited by a series of terrible 
conflagrations, April 12 and 20, June 3 and 21, which 
reduced half the city to ashes and compelled the Tsar and the 
Metropolitan to seek refuge outside its walls. On June 26 

vii] Character of Ivan IV 109 

an enquiry into the cause of the catastrophe was held in the 
great square of the Kremlin, when the crowd, encouraged by 
the Boyars, accused the Glinskies of causing the fire by witch- 
craft. They had, the accusers said, seethed human hearts, 
torn from living bodies, in boiling water and sprinkled the 
water about the city. Hence the disaster. The excited mob 
thereupon murdered Prince Yury Glinsky in the adjoining 
Uspensky Cathedral, whither he had sought refuge, and then 
proceeded to the village of Vorobeva, where the Tsar was 
staying, and demanded that the aged Princess Anna Glinska 
and the other members of her family should be delivered up. 
The rioters were dispersed, however, and their ringleaders 
punished. This mysterious plot, which seems to have been a 
desperate attempt on the part of the dispossessed Shuiskies 
to ruin the dominant Glinskies, had very important conse- 
quences and profoundly affected the young Prince, whose 
peculiar character, the pivot of the whole situation, it now 
behoves us to consider a little more closely. 

Ivan IV was in every respect precocious, his intellect and 
his sensibility were equally alert ; but, from the first, there was 
what we should call a neurotic strain in his character which 
required careful watching and pruning if the gifted child were 
to develop normally. Unfortunately, from infancy, he was 
practically left to himself. His father died when he was three, 
his mother when he was seven ; and he grew up in a brutal and 
degrading environment where he learnt, betimes, to hold 
human life and human dignity in contempt. He himself has 
told us, how the leading Boyars wantonly wounded his childish 
pride and his childish affections; how they rudely sprawled 
upon his father's bed in their young sovereign's presence ; how 
they made for themselves "vessels of silver and vessels of gold" 
out of his father's treasures ; how, after his mother's death, they 
trampled upon and tore her clothes to pieces in their search 
for jewels. "And," he proceeds, "what did not my little 
brother and I suffer for want of proper food and clothing? 

no Ivan the Terrible, 1534-1584 [ch. 

They were never kind to us, they never treated us as children 
ought to be treated." He was shrewd enough to observe that 
the very men who, in private, treated him as if he were "a deaf 
and dumb fool without understanding," in public, at the recep- 
tion of foreign ambassadors for instance, stood humbly round 
the throne in the guise of servants. Those about him, too, 
with an eye to their own future advantage, did not fail to 
remind him that he was the great Gosudar and that these insolent 
and domineering Boyars were, after all, but his subjects. No 
wonder then, if, in his impotence, he brooded continually over 
his wrongs, and meditated future vengeance on those who were 
now usurping his authority. As the eager, inquisitive child 
grew older, and read all that there was to be read in those days 
— the Scriptures, the Fathers, Church history, Roman history, 
Russian chronicles — he sought everywhere, especially in Holy 
Writ, for texts and precedents in favour of his own divinely 
appointed authority. He looked forward to the day when 
he should be, on the throne of Moscow, what Solomon had 
been on the throne of Jerusalem, and Constantine or Theo- 
dosius on the throne of Constantinople. Ivan IV was, indeed, 
the first Tsar, not so much because he first assumed the title at 
his coronation, as because he was the first to invent, and 
consistently act up to, a regular theory of autocracy focussed in 
the person of the Tsar. But, on the other hand, this perpetual 
brooding over wrongs and injuries, still unavenged, fostered the 
morbid irritability of a passionate nature naturally prone to pride 
and cruelty. Hideous stories have come down to us of Ivan's 
fiendish treatment of dumb creatures, and of his brutal prac- 
tical jokes, as, for instance, when he ordered boiling wine to be 
poured over the heads of a deputation from Pskov. So far 
from any attempt being made to restrain the young savage, his 
attendants and domestics seem to have encouraged him to even 
worse excesses by their applause. And already there are 
current hints of even darker and more disgusting vices. Ivan 
himself, in his 20th year, publicly declared, in a moment of 

vii] The first Russian Parliament 1 1 1 

deep repentance : " I cannot describe nor can the human 
tongue express the vileness of the sins of my youth." 

The occasion on which these words were uttered marks a 
turning point in the hfe of Ivan IV. The great fire of Moscow 
had startled a conscience very susceptible to religious terrors. 
Ivan saw in it a last divine warning, and " a great fear came into 
my soul and a great trembling into my bones." After consulting 
the Metropolitan, he summoned representatives from all the 
Russian towns and provinces to meet on Easter Day, 1550*, in 
the Red Square at Moscow. He addressed the multitude from 
the Lobnoe Myesto^ or public place of execution. First came a 
sort of open confession. Then he explained that the bad 
government of the past had been due to the Boyars, who had 
misruled the realm during his infancy ; but that, henceforth, he 
was going to rule his people himself in justice and equity. 
Finally he introduced upon the scene two men of his own 
choosing, who, henceforth, were to be his chief ministers and 
instruments, men of humble birth but lofty virtue, '* chosen for 
the health of my soul and... to help me watch over the nation 
committed to me by God.'* It was an unheard-of, a revolu- 
tionary proceeding, thus to prefer " the lowliest of the people " 
to the traditional ruling classes ; but Ivan had now permanently 
broken with the Boyars. He was already statesman enough to 
discern that they could not be fitted into the new order of 
things which he foresaw must come. The Boyars had shewn 
themselves incapable of rising to the idea of a commonwealth 
with equal rights for all. Their outlook was exclusively 
personal. They had no patriotism, no public spirit. The ties 
which bound them to their country were of the loosest and 
feeblest. Ivan meditated the regeneration of Moscovy; and the 
only men who could assist him in his task were men who 
would look steadily forward to the future because they had no 
past to look back upon, men who would unflinchingly obey 
their Gosudar because they owed their significance, their whole 
^ The first Zemsky Sobor, or General Assembly. 

112 Ivan the Terrible y 1 534-1584 [ch. 

political existence to him alone. These men of good will be 
discovered in Aleksyei Adashev and the monk Sylvester. 

We know very little of the antecedents of Adashev and 
Sylvester. The former is first mentioned in February 1547, 
when, on the occasion of the Tsar's marriage, he made the 
nuptial bed and escorted the bridegroom to his praenuptial 
bath. His influence began at the time of the Great Fire. 
Sylvester was a simple monk of the Annunciation Monastery 
at Moscow who attracted Ivan's attention, about the same time, 
by the earnestness with which he pleaded for those in disgrace, 
or under condemnation. But, whatever their origin, morally 
they were, perhaps, the best men in Moscovy of their day; and 
their influence over the young Tsar, for the next four years, was 
profoundly beneficial. 

The administration of Adashev and Sylvester coincides 
with the most glorious period of Ivan's reign — the period of 
the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan. 

From 1539 to 1549 the Crimean Prince, Saip Girai, had 
been left in undisturbed possession of Kazan. On his death in 
1549, Ivan placed Shig Ali, a Kazanian refugee at Moscow, on the 
throne of Kazan, on condition that all the Christian captives 
were set free. 60,000 of them were accordingly released, but 
Ivan was informed that just as many more were still working in 
chains; and when, in the course of 155 1, disturbances broke 
out in Kazan itself, and one of the two factions offered the 
Khanate to Ivan, he resolved to take it by force of arms. On 
June 15, 1552, he quitted Moscow at the head of his host. 
The hardships of the difficult two months' march through 
virgin forests and the endless steppe were lightened by the 
services of the savage Cheremisses and Mordvinians who, 
overawed by the magnitude of Ivan's forces, offered him sub- 
mission, built bridges, pointed out fords, and brought him 
supplies of corn. The rivers abounded with fish, the forests 
with game; and the elks were so tame that, in the words of 
the lyetopiSy "they came and offered themselves up for 

vii] The Siege of Kazan 113 

slaughter." At last, on August 20, Ivan stood before Kazan, 
with an army of 150,000 men and 50 guns. Kazan was 
defended only by wooden walls ; but behind these walls stood 
30,000 fanatical Moslem warriors, determined to sell their lives 
dearly. At the very beginning of the siege Ivan's fortitude was 
put to a severe test. A tempest blew down his tents, destroyed 
most of his boats on the Volga, and ruined his stores. The 
raw young army was profoundly discouraged. Not so Ivan, 
He ordered fresh supplies to be brought up from Moscow, 
declared his intention of spending the whole winter before 
Kazan if necessary, and put heart into his men by frequent 
harangues in which he appealed as much to their piety as to 
their valour. He also reconnoitred the fortress day and night, 
discovered the most convenient spots for attacking it, and 
ordered large wooden towers to be built at intervals round the 
walls, and guns to be planted on the towers. On August 30 
a relief force, under the Tatar Prince Yapucha, which had 
given the besiegers much trouble, was routed and dispersed. 
On September 4 one of Ivan's German engineers deprived 
the city of its subterranean water supply by blowing up the 
gallery by which they gained access to it. A part of the wall 
was blown down at the same time. But the spirit of the 
besiegers was still unbroken. They drank muddy water, 
sheltered themselves in long trenches from the fire of the 
towers, and, when the trenches were mined, had recourse to 
tarasui^ or huge barrels filled with earth, behind which they 
continued the struggle. On September 30 the tarasui were 
also blown up; and then, for a whole week, not a dart or arrow 
flew out of Kazan. Then the whole garrison made a sortie and 
all but pierced the Russian lines, but were repulsed at last, 
the besiegers at the same time occupying two of the bastions 
and penetrating into the tower. Sunday, October 2, was 
then fixed for a general assault, but counter-preparations were 
made in the fortress the night before ; and when Ivan, for the 
last time, offered a free pardon to the Kazanese if they would 
B. 8 

114 /ruif ih€ T£rrih*€. 1534-155^4 [CH. 

do bomazti thty exclaimed with one voice : - We miM not do 
hrjfrrizst ' R-^aa is on ibe basdons, Russia is wiihin tbe maDs; it 
matters not : ttc wiL fight 10 the deaili ! ~ SbonilTr before dawn, 
two tarific eiplosDns brought down a large portion of the 
main waJL ajMi the Moscovites mounied the b7>e:ach shootiiig : 
** God be -Kith us ! ~ A desperate contest ensued on the iraUs^ 
in the gates, round ereiy mosque, and in front of the Khan's 
palace. Ivan was at his devotions when the fiist explosKHi 
filled the air with firing beams and mangled coq»es. Messen- 
ger after mtssei^er huiried from the fomess to the cha^>el to 
uige him to come. ** Come, oh Ivan ! thy troops wait for 
thee '. " — " Come at oixre, oh Ivan ! to sustain the hearts of thy 
servants ! ^ they cried. But Ivan, who was no hero, waited till 
the serfc-ice was over, and even then he lingered before the ikon 
of St Sergius and performed a wbole series of devotions bdbre 
he mounted his war-horse. By the time he entered the town 
the Mcwco'i-ite banners were already waving triumphantly on 
the walls ; and, though the m/lx was prolonged till evening, the 
victory was virtually won. On October 4, when the dty had 
been cleansed of corpses (not a soul had been left aliveX the 
Tsar visited it for the second time, and on the spot where, with 
his own hand, he planted a splendid cross, the foundations of 
the Cathedral of the Annunciation were solemnly laid. 

We must transfer ourselves to the sixteenth century to 
appreciate adequately the full si^ificance of the conquest of 
Kazan. Ivan's contemporaries regarded it as a might}* feat 
of arms, rivalling the exploits of the ancient, semi-mythical 
Russian Princes, those incomparable heroes who had gone 
forth to conquer fresh dominions, and to whom the later 
Princes, tributary to the Tatars, looked up with wonder and 
envy. Russia had already begun to recover land which she 
regarded as her own, the Lithuanian provinces for instance ; but 
the conquest of Kazan was something quite new, quite different. 
It was the first territorial conquest from the Tatars before 
whom Moscovy had humbled herself for generations. It was 

vii] Significance of the conquest of Kazan 1 1 5 

this which gave to it its extraordinary importance. At last, in 
the fulness of time, there had arisen in Moscovy a Gosudar 
who brought back the glorious era of foreign conquest. No 
wonder then if Ivan IV stood, in the opinion of his contem- 
poraries, so much higher than his immediate forerunners, and, 
in fact, eclipsed them all. 

But, all exaggeration apart, the conquest of Kazan was an 
epoch-making event in the history of Eastern Europe. At 
Kazan, Central Asia, in the name of Muhammad, had fought 
behind its last trench against Christian Europe marshalled 
beneath the banner of the Gosudar of Moscovy. Kazan fell, 
and the Volga became a Russian river. Nothing could now 
restrain the natural advance of the young Russian State towards 
the east and the south-east. It took, indeed, five years of hard 
fighting (i 555-1 560) to conquer the savage Chuvasses, Votiaks, 
Bashkirs and Mordvinians, between the Oka and the Kama, 
who had hitherto been subject to Kazan ; but Astrakhan fell, 
almost without a blow, in July 1554, and was formally 
incorporated with Moscovy in 1557. The conquest of 
Astrakhan brought Moscovy into direct contact, for the 
first time, with a whole world of petty, contending princi- 
palities in the Caucasus, many of whom hastened to place 
themselves beneath the protection of the strong Tsar from the 

Ivan was also the first Tsar who attacked the Crimea. In 
1555 ^^ sent Ivan Sheremetev against Perekop with 13,000 
men ; and Sheremetev routed the Tatars in a two days' battle at 
Sudbishenska, capturing 80 camels and 60,000 horses. Almost 
simultaneously the daring raids of the Polish Cossacks, under 
Rzewuski and Wisniowiecki, who penetrated as far as Oczakow, 
opened the eyes of the Moscovites to the essential weakness of 
the Crimean Tatars. Some of Ivan's counsellors, including 
Adashev and Sylvester, now advised him to make an end of 
the Crimean Khanate, as he had previously made an end of the 
Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. By so doing, they urged, 


ii6 Ivan the Terrible, 1534-1584 [cH. 

he would rid himself of chronic freebooters whose incalculable 
raids not only impoverished the State but made it necessary to 
keep up a standing army, at an enormous expense. Ivan 
unhesitatingly rejected their advice ; and there can be no doubt 
that, in this respect, he saw much further than his counsellors. 
Kazan and Astrakhan were comparatively easy to conquer, 
because the Moscovites could approach almost up to their very 
walls by rivers abounding with fish and flowing through forests 
full of meat and honey. The Crimea was separated from 
Moscovy by the endless barren steppe which, in those days, 
began as far north as Tula and Pronsk. It might be easy for 
lightly armed and mounted Cossacks, even then, to penetrate 
thither ; but an army like the Moscovite armies of the sixteenth 
century would have perished half-way for want of sustenance. 
And even if, by some extraordinary concurrence of fortunate 
circumstances, Ivan had succeeded in subjugating the Crimea, 
how could he have held it against the whole might of the 
Ottoman Empire with the absolute command of the sea ? A 
century later, the great Golitsuin attempted the same thing, 
under far more favourable conditions — and failed. A century 
later still the famous marshal Miinnich, with all the appliances 
of modern warfare at his command, attempted it again — and he 
also failed. Ivan IV, wiser in his generation, knew that the 
thing was impossible, and did not attempt it. It was upon 
Livonia that his eyes were fixed, Livonia which promised him 
towns by the dozen, fortresses by the score, and above all, a 
seaboard, and direct communication with the rest of Europe. 

Ivan IV, like Peter I after him, clearly recognised the 
necessity of raising Moscovy to the level of her neighbours. 
He proposed to do so by encouraging foreigners to settle 
among his subjects and teach them the arts and sciences of 
the more highly civilised West. So early as 1547, when only 
1 7, he sent the Saxon Schlitte to Germany to hire and bring to 
Moscow as many master-workmen and skilled artificers as he 
could procure. Schlitte, with the permission of the Emperor 

vii] IvarHs invasion of Livonia 117 

Charles V, collected 123 of such men and brought them to 
Liibeck for the purpose of shipping them to Moscovy. But 
the Livonian agent at Liibeck representing to the Emperor the 
danger of such a step, Schlitte was imprisoned and his men 
were dispersed. Moscovy's neighbours, Sweden and Poland, 
were equally apprehensive of any attempt to civilise her. 
Their safety lay in her ignorance and isolation ; and they did 
their best to keep her ignorant and isolated. Ivan was there- 
fore obliged to help himself as best he could. His opportunity 
came on the break-up of the dominion of the Order of the 
Sword. During 1557 and 1558 Livonia was systematically 
ravaged by the Moscovite hordes, largely composed of savage 
Mordvinians and Cheremisses, who reduced everything outside 
the walls of the fortresses to ashes, '*not even sparing the child 
in its mother's womb." The Livonian authorities were too 
divided amongst themselves, the nobility and burgesses were 
too lazy and selfish, to sustain a vigorous combined resistance, 
so that the Moscovites steadily gained ground. Narva and 
Dorpat were captured in May and August 1558 respectively; 
other fortresses were seriously threatened; the terrified 
Livonians, as already recorded, voluntarily placed themselves 
beneath the protection of Poland; and, in January 1560, 
Sigismund II sent Martin Volodkov to Moscow to bid Ivan IV 
cease from molesting Livonia, now a province of the Polish 

In Moscovy itself, meanwhile, events were happening which 
had far-reaching consequences. 

Holy fear had prompted Ivan IV, in 1550, to submit himself 
to the moral and religious guidance of the monk Sylvester, in 
whose motives he had the most absolute confidence. As time 
went on, it was very natural that Ivan should also consult this 
infallible mentor on political questions. It was equally 
natural that Sylvester should expect to be deferred to in 
temporal as well as in spiritual matters. But great saints are 
not always shrewd politicians, and so now, when Ivan and 

ii8 Ivan the Terrible, 1534- 1584 [ch^ 

Sylvester differed, as they were bound to differ on political 
grounds, the Tsar happened to be in the right and the monk in 
the wrong. Sylvester was in favour of the conquest of the 
Crimea, but opposed the conquest of Livonia, whereas Ivan 
took the opposite view. Finding that, for once, he could not 
prevail, Sylvester was offended, and, exchanging arguments for 
reproaches and prognostications, solemnly declared that all 
Ivan's subsequent misfortunes were so many divine visitations 
upon his obstinacy. We know enough of Ivan's character to 
be quite sure that he would never break with a friend whom 
he really trusted, but unfortunately Ivan no longer trusted 
Sylvester. Six years previously, mysterious and still inexplicable 
circumstances had made an incurable rift in their friendship. 
In 1553, on returning from Kazan, the Tsar had fallen so ill 
that he was generally believed to be on the point of death; and all 
the Boyars and dignitaries were summoned to his bedside to 
swear allegiance to his infant son Demetrius. But Sylvester 
raised difficulties. He rather favoured the pretensions of Ivan's 
cousin. Prince Vladimir Andreevich, though he must have 
been well aware that Vladimir's accession would mean the 
removal, perhaps the violent removal, of the infant Demetrius 
and the ruin of his kinsfolk the Zakharin-Romanovs. Adashev's 
conduct on the same occasion was most ambiguous. He 
hesitated for a long time to render the requisite oath of 
allegiance to Demetrius, and listened, without a word of protest, 
to the seditious utterances of the large party of Boyars who 
supported the Pretender. The peculiar conduct of Sylvester 
and Adashev at this crisis has been ascribed to their jealousy 
of the Zakharin-Romanovs and their growing ill-will towards 
their former ally the Tsaritsa Anastasia, whom their adherents 
openly denounced as a second Eudoxia*. But, whatever may 
have been the cause of their backsliding, it alienated Ivan. Nor 
can we very much blame him. The very men whom, to use his 

^ i,e, the Consort of Arcadius and persecutrix of St Chrysostom. 
Sylvester was, of course, the second Chrysostom. 

vii] The cruel decennium 119 

own words, he had *f raised from the dunghill to set among 
Princes," the very men whom he had treated not as servants 
but as friends, and one of whom he had revered as a father, 
had failed him at the critical moment, had been content to 
commit the beloved wife and the infant son of their benefactor 
to certain destruction ! We cannot wonder if, after this, he 
secretly distrusted them, though he continued to employ them 
for six years longer. Then the Livonian dispute arose and 
both of them disappear from the scene, Sylvester into a 
monastery, at his own request, and Adashev in honourable 
exile as a general in Livonia, where he died the same year 


The ten good years of the Sylvester period (1550--1560) 
were followed by the ten evil years which saw the establish- 
ment of the Oprichina^ the martyrdom of St Philip of Moscow, 
and the savage destruction of Great Novgorod (1560-15 70). 
At the very beginning of this horrible decennium, Ivan lost his 
consort Anastasia and his infant heir Demetrius. Then the 
Boyars began to murmur because of the absence of Sylvester ; 
and, apparently, for the details are obscure, a plot was set on 
foot to bring him back. At this, the slumbering demon in 
Ivan broke loose ; and deeds were committed which made the 
whole Court stand aghast. It was now that Prince Michael 
Repnin was murdered at a banquet for refusing to wear a mask 
and dance in public, two things abominable in the eyes of all 
pious Moscovites. It was now that Prince Jury Kashkin was 
struck dead in the Cathedral during the reading of the Gospels. 
It was now that " one little word " from the lips of the Gosudar 
was regarded as a sentence of death. It was now that Prince 
Andrei Mikhailovich Kurbsky, Ivan's intimate friend, who 
shared with him his bookish tastes, fled to Sigismund II, after 
losing the engagement of Newel, when he heard that the Tsar 
had " blamed" him. To his treasonable desertion — for so Ivan 
not unnaturally regarded it — we owe the priceless correspondence 
which gives us a glimpse into the very soul of the Tsar, but its 

I20 Ivan the Terrible, 1534-1584 [ch.' 

effect upon Ivan personally was dire indeed. If, he argued, 
one of the greatest of the Boyars, and his own familiar friend, 
could betray him first and then abuse him, how could he hope 
to live in safety among the other Boyars whom he knew to be 
the sympathisers of Kurbsky? To kill them all was impossible, 
but he could, at least, live apart from these potential traitors, 
and this he resolved to do. On January 3, 1565, the Tsar, who 
had quitted Moscow with his whole Court on December 3, 1564, 
addressed to the Metropolitan a letter to be read to the people 
in which he declared that, unable to endure any longer the 
treachery and villainy of the Boyars, he had resolved to 
abdicate and seek some safe refuge abroad. The whole popula- 
tion thereupon besought him, with tears, " to rule them as he 
pleased and take the Government into his own hands," so long 
as he did not leave them defenceless against their enemies, like 
sheep without a shepherd. Sure now of the support of the 
great majority of the Russian people, Ivan consented to remain ; 
but he entrenched himself within a peculiar institution, the 
Oprichina, or " Separate Estate." Certain towns and districts, 
or parts thereof, all over Russia, were separated from the rest 
of the realm ; and their revenues were assigned to the mainten- 
ance of the Tsar's new court and household, which was to 
consist, in the first instance, of one thousand carefully selected 
Boyars and lesser dignitaries, with their families and suites. In 
the midst of these Ivan henceforth lived exclusively, those 
outside the Oprichina being denied all access to him. The 
Boyars and gentry not included in the Oprichina were removed 
from the towns and districts assigned to the Oprichina and 
given estates elsewhere. Even in Moscow itself certain 
streets and suburbs were taken into the Oprichina, and their 
former owners or occupiers were transferred to other parts of 
the city. The Oprichina was no constitutional innovation. 
The Duma, or Council of Boyars, still attended to all the 
details of the administration. The old Boyars still retained 
their old gffic^s and dignitaries, Th§ only difference was 

vii] The Oprichina 121 

that Ivan had cut himself off from them ; they were not even to 
communicate with him, except on matters of exceptional and 
extraordinary importance. 

The Oprichina was founded because the Tsar suspected his 
great men of hating him, and because he would henceforth be 
surrounded by none but well-disposed persons. The Oprich- 
niki, his exclusive favourites, were bound, in their own interests, 
to assume an offensive attitude towards everyone outside their 
charmed circle, were bound to harden the Tsar's heart against 
all possible disturbers. Their first notable victim was the 
Metropolitan Philip, whose saintly life had compelled Ivan to 
take him from a hermitage to place him on the archiepiscopal 
throne of Moscow. Philip now greatly angered Ivan, first, by 
urging the abolition of so unchristian an institution as the 
Oprichina^ and secondly, by repeatedly pleading, with all the 
fearlessness of holiness, for the victims of Ivan's cruelty. 
** Silence! all I ask of you is silence !" the Tsar would cry. 
"Our silence would lay on thy soul sins which bring forth 
death ! " was Philip's constant answer. At last Ivan's patience 
wore out; and, on November 8, 1568, Philip was dragged, with 
contumely, from the Uspensky Cathedral and banished to 
a monastery at Tver. In 1569 Ivan sent his favourite 
Oprichnik^ the infamous Malyuta^ Skuratov, to ask a blessing of 
Philip. Refusal meant instant death, but Philip did not 
hesitate. "I bless only the good for their good deeds," he said, 
and Skuratov strangled him on the spot. 

Ivan had stopped at Tver to murder St Philip while on his 
way to destroy the second wealthiest city in his Tsardom — 
Great Novgorod. 

In the course of 1559, one Peter, a vagabond malefactor 
from Volhynia, who had been punished at Novgorod for some 
offence, came to Moscow with a tale that the Magistrates of 
Novgorod were about to hand over their city to Sigismund II 
and that proofs of the plot were to be found in a letter signed 
^ Malyuta means **5tumpy." PJis real najpe was Gregory Lyukbanovich, 

122 Ivan the Ternbley 1534-1584 [ch. 

by the Bishop and concealed behind an ikon of the Blessed 
Virgin in the Cathedral of St Sophia. The Tsar sent Peter 
back to Novgorod with some of the Oprichniki\ and, sure 
enough, the incriminating letter was found in the place 
indicated. There is only too much reason to believe that this 
document was Peter's own fabrication. Ivan, however, believed 
every word of it, and without confronting the Novgorodians 
with their secret accuser, without any preliminary enquiry, he 
collected an army and set off to punish Novgorod. Late in 
December 1569 the Tsar broke into the land, his own land, as 
an enemy and ravaged it like a wild beast. From Klina on the 
borders of Tver up to the very walls of Great Novgorod every- 
thing was destroyed. On January 2, 1570, the advance guard 
of the Tsar's bodyguard reached Novgorod and built a strong 
and high wall round it so that none might escape. All the 
churches and monasteries were sealed up, all the principal 
inhabitants were arrested and imprisoned till the Tsar should 
come. On the 6th Ivan arrived with 1500 musketeers and 
quartered them upon the Gorodishcha^ or Merchants' Town. 
On the 7th all the abbots and priors in the city were publicly 
beaten to death on an elevated scaffold, and their dead bodies 
sent to their respective monasteries for burial. On the 8th 
Ivan proceeded to the Cathedral of St Sophia to hear mass. 
The Bishop met him half-way on the Volkhovsky Bridge in full 
canonicals surrounded by his clergy, and, as , usual, presented 
the cross for the Tsar to kiss. " Avaunt thou of evil repute ! " 
cried Ivan. "That is no cross that thou bearest, but a weapon 
to wound my heart ! " Ivan then followed the Bishop to the 
Cathedral and, after mass, went on to the episcopal palace as 
the Bishop's guest. They had scarce sat down to meat, when 
the Tsar uttered a terrible yell. It was the signal for the arrest 
of the Bishop and the sacking of the Cathedral and all the 
intramural churches. This done, Ivan returned to the Gorod- 
ishcha and the chief laymen of Novgorod, with their wives and 
children, were brought forth for punishment. First they were 

vii] Destruction of Novgorod 123 

singed on " a cunning instrument of fire " which the contem- 
porary lyetopis calls "a grill"; then they were dragged in 
sledges to the bridge over the Volkhov, bound hand and foot, 
the children fastened to their mother's necks, and thrown into 
the river, where men in boats despatched them with spears, 
axes and boathooks as they came to the surface. This carnage 
went on day after day for five weeks. Then Ivan went round 
Novgorod and saw that every monastery was systematically and 
thoroughly plundered, and the cattle and other property of the 
monks destroyed. All the warehouses in the merchants' 
quarters were similarly plundered. Then came the turn of the 
suburbs. House after house was visited and ransacked; the 
doors and the windows were smashed to pieces. The men at 
arms simultaneously wrecked all the monasteries, churches and 
manor houses within a circuit of 100 miles. At last, on 
February 13, the Tsar's wrath was appeased; and he allowed the 
miserable remnants of the population of Great Novgorod to go 
on living, as best they might, amidst the ruins of their city, 
once so mighty and splendid. 

The decennium 1560-15 70 was on the whole a propitious 
period for the Moscovite arms abroad. The interminable 
Livonian war, a war of raids and sieges, frequently interrupted 
by fruitless negotiations, was waged with equal tenacity and 
brutality by Ivan^ who won more and more of the smaller 
interior towns and castles, but could not reach the coast, where 
the Poles, Swedes and Danes had already forestalled him. It 
also involved him in indecisive and expensive wars with 
Lithuania and Sweden. On February 15, 1563, the Moscovites 
captured the important fortress of Polock, additionally valuable 
as the great trade emporium of the Dwina district. But the 
Poles, as usual, were victorious in the open field; and in 1570 
hostilities were suspended by a three years' truce. The war 
with Sweden began in 1571. In 1572 Ivan invaded Esthonia 
with 80,000 men and captured Wittenstein by storm, on which 
occasion his favourite Malyuta Skuratov was slain. In revenge 

124 /z/^^ the Terrible, 1534-1584 [CH. 

for this, Ivan burnt all the Swedish prisoners alive. Sub- 
sequently Karkus and Nyfort were also taken, but all these 
successes were neutralised by K las Totte's victory at Lode, 
which led to the signature of a two years' truce with Sweden 
from July 20, 1575. During these years Moscovy suffered 
terribly from the raids of Devlet Girai, Khan of the Crimea. 
In May 1571, 120,000 Tatars appeared before Moscow and 
burnt the whole city, except the Kremlin, when 80,000 people 
perished and 150,000 were taken captive. In 1572 Devlet 
again reappeared in the Oka district with 120,000 men; but 
was routed on the banks of the Lopasna, 50 miles from 
Moscow, by the Boyars (July 31 — Aug. i). 

The Livonian-Lithuanian war was resumed in 1575, in which 
year Ivan's forces captured Pernau. In the following year 
Esthonia was again invaded by the Moscovites; and Leal, Lode, 
and other places fell. In 1577 Ivan failed to take Reval; and 
in 1578 he was routed at Wenden, by the combined Poles and 
Swedes, with the loss of a third of his army. It is evident from 
the extensive preparations which he made for the coming 
campaign of 1579 that he regarded it as likely to prove decisive 
of the fate of Livonia. He seems, at first, to have been 
confident of success. His material resources were immense, 
and he entertained such a poor opinion of " Obatura," as the 
Lithuanians called the new King of Poland, Stephen Bathory, 
that he would not even address him as "my cousin," but 
contemptuously alluded to him as "my neighbour." What 
reason had he to fear an obscure stranger from the depths of 
Transylvania whom he could outnumber a hundred to one ? 
Ivan's envoys had also reported that the new King of Poland 
was extremely unpopular; that the Pans were disinclined to 
wage war; and that the Sejm would grant no supplies for 
offensive operations in Lithuania. The envoys reported truly. 
Bathory's difficulties were indeed enormous, but it is just 
because he grappled with and overcame those difficulties that 
he deserves the name of great. It was he who first made 

vii] Siege of Polock 125 

regular infantry the leading arm in warfare in eastern, as it had 
long been the leading arm in western Europe. Compared with 
his highly-trained Magyars and Germans, the Moscovite levies 
were but undisciplined hordes. His artillery too was excellent, 
his means of transport relatively rapid ; and, in the chancellor 
Zamoyski and his own countryman Caspar B^k^, he had for 
his lieutenants two of the greatest captains of the age. 

In June 1579 Bdthory sent Ivan a formal declaration 
of war for breaking the Livonian truce. In July he resolved, 
at a Council of War, to recover Polock, the possession of which 
would enable him to keep open his communications with Riga, 
and defend simultaneously Livonia and Lithuania. Ivan was 
diverted towards livonia by false reports of the King's advance 
in that direction. Polock was valiantly defended by the Mos- 
covite Voevodes ; and the besiegers found it difficult to support 
themselves in a thinly populated country devastated beforehand. 
Torrential rains also blocked the roads, and the draft horses 
died in hundreds. At first, Bathory refused to risk an assault, 
as failure would mean a shameful retreat; but, at last, his 
Magyars, encouraged by the promise of a rich reward, crept up 
to the fortress by night and fired the wooden walls in so many 
places that the besieged could not extinguish the conflagration. 
On September 25 the town was taken by assault Colonel 
Weigand, mie of the King's C;erman officers, who had been at 
many sieges, said he had never seen so many coq>ses all 
together as at PolocL This ended the campaign, and Bathory 
returned to Wilna. Peace negotiations were now re-opened ; 
but, as Bathory demanded Livonia, Wielkie Luki, Smolensk, 
Pskov and Novgorod, while Ivan would only surrender 24 
livonian towns and castles, the war was resumed Bathory 
could obCam little or no help from his Polish subjects, who were 
rather alarmed than gratified by his successes- But his brother 
Christopher, Prince of Transylvania, and his friend 21amoyski 
libeially supplied him with money and troops, so that he took 
the fidd in if8o with an army of 50,000 men, of whom 21,000 

126 Ivan the Terrible, 1534-1584 [ch. 

were infantry. Wielkie Luki was now taken by Zamoyski and 
Zbarasky defeated the Moscovites at Toropets ; but, on the 
other hand, an attempt to surprise Smolensk led to a Polish 
defeat at Spasski Lugi. The same year, the Swedes captured 
Kexholm in Carelia, Padis in Esthonia, and Wesenberg in 
Livonia from the Moscovites. 

Bathory's increasing difficulties (he was now obliged to 
borrow from the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony, and from 
his own vassal the Duke of Prussia) and Ivan's disasters 
induced them both to reopen negotiations; but the Tsar 
still, obstinately, refused to part with the whole of Livonia or 
pay a war indemnity. In his rage Bathory sent him a letter 
calling him a "sneaking wolf" and a "vile venomous cur," 
and challenging him to single combat as the quickest way 
of ending the war. " Why dost thou not come forth and meet 
me in the open field," concluded Bathory, " why dost thou not 
defend thine own subjects? Even a poor little hen covers 
her chickens with her wings when a hawk hovers in the air 
above her; but thou, a two-headed eagle forsooth, for such 
thy seal proclaims thee, dost nothing but skulk away and hide." 
Ivan was, indeed, no man of valour. Timidity had been 
hereditary in his family for generations. But he was wise 
enough to recognise that, in warfare, quality is superior to 
quantity, and he prudently avoided pitting his useless myriads 
against Bathory's handful of veterans. Nor did his political 
foresight fail him. He had become convinced that in the 
circumstances, and against such an antagonist as Bathory, the 
Livonian enterprise was a mistake ; and he was already casting 
about for an honourable withdrawal from it. Bathory, involun- 
tarily, gave him his opportunity. 

The King of Poland had been advised to open the campaign 
of 1 58 1 by besieging Pskov, but, on pitching his camp beneath 
the city (Aug. 26), he at once perceived that he was attempting 
the impossible. Pskov was the strongest fortress in the east of 
Europe. For whole centuries the chief care of the Pskovians 

vii] Bdthory before Pskov 127 

had been to make it impregnable to the attacks of the Teutonic 
Knights. Within its colossal walls was a garrison of 50,000 
infantry and 7000 cavalry, provided with an adequate supply 
of the best artillery procurable. To make any impression upon 
it, Bathory required at least double as many men as he had 
brought with him. But to retreat now was out of the question. 
On September i the first trenches were dug; on the 7th the 
first cannonade began ; and on the 8th a general assault was 
made with such klan that two of the principal bastions were 
captured, one by the Poles and the other by the Magyars. 
For a moment the fortress seemed to be won. But the besieged 
were rallied by the Voevode, Prince Ivan Shuisky, and the Igu- 
men Tikhon ; the bastions were recaptured ; and the assailants 
hurled back with the loss of 5000 men, including Caspar Bekes, 
a host in himself. Then Bathory's powder ran out, and he had 
to wait for weeks till he received fresh supplies from Riga. But 
to retreat now was to lose everything ; and Bathory declared 
his intention to prosecute the siege throughout the winter. A 
dangerous mutiny at once broke out in the Polish section of 
the army. The Szlachta^ unused to rigid discipline, demanded 
to be led home, and it was only the energetic intervention 
of Zamoyski which saved the situation. He punished the 
mutineers without the slightest regard for birth or station ; and, 
when several young nobles had been publicly flogged and a few 
more had been publicly hanged, order was restored and the 
King was able to go to Poland for reinforcements, leaving 
Zamoyski behind him in supreme command. Meanwhile, the 
Swedes, operating from Esthonia and Finland, had captured 
a whole series of Moscovite fortresses on the Neva, while 
Christopher Radziwill, the Crand Hetman of Lithuania, pene- 
trated as far as the Volga. Ivan, now in extremities, invoked 
the intervention of Pope Cregory XIII and the Jesuit, Cardinal 
Antonio Possevino, appeared at the village of Kierova Cora, 
midway between the two camps, where negotiations were 
opened in December 1581. 

128 Ivan the Terrible, 1 534-1584 [ch. 

Ever since Schlitte's mission to Germany, the Holy See had 
had hopes of the conversion of Ivan. In 1561 Pius IV had 
invited him to send deputies to the Council of Trent and join 
the Holy League against the Turk. The Tsar, however, ^made 
no response to these overtures ; and, though he gladly availed 
himself of the mediation of Posse vino, he never had the 
slightest intention of submitting to the supremacy of Rome. 
Possevino soon convinced himself of this, and came to the 
conclusion that Livonia had better be in the hands of a 
Catholic Prince like Bathory. The 10 years' truce which was 
finally concluded, on January 15, 1582, at Zapolsk was very 
favourable to Poland. Ivan surrendered the whole of Livonia, 
with Polock and Wielicz, to Bdthory and received back Wielkie, 
Luki, Zawolocie and Newel. Thus Poland had succeeded in 
excluding Moscovy from the Baltic and thus prevented the 
natural development of the Moscovite State for many years. 
Ivan at the same time was obliged to conclude a three years' 
truce, on the river Ilyusa, with Sweden, who thereby retained 
her Ingrian conquests, Jama, Ivangorod and Koporye, thus 
cutting off Moscovy from the Gulf of Finland also. 

Thus, despite all the efforts of Ivan IV to secure it, the 
Baltic seaboard was lost to Moscovy. The Tsar had now to 
be content with the more modest programme of qualifying his 
subjects to resume the struggle at some future time with a 
fairer prospect of success. This could only be done by 
tempting foreign specialists to Moscovy to instruct the Mosco- 
vites in the arts of war and peace. It was to England, the one 
friendly anti-Catholic Power, that Ivan primarily looked for 
assistance in this respect. 

The relations between Moscovy and England began in 
1553, when Richard Chancellor discovered the White Sea, was 
conveyed to Moscow by the astonished natives, and there had an 
audience of Ivan sitting on his throne in full regalia. In 1555 
Chancellor returned to Moscovy as the special envoy of Queen 
Mary and negotiated a commercial treaty very advantageous 

vii] Ivan IV and Queen Elizabeth lizg 

to the newly-formed Anglo-Russian Company. Similar favours 
were granted in England to the first Russian envoy, Osip 
Nepyea, who brought back with him to Moscovy numerous 
doctors, master-masons, carpenters and other useful people. 
In 1570 Sigismund II of Poland warned Elizabeth against 
assisting a potentate who was increasing in power every year 
and might, one day, conquer every one if the proper arms were 
put into his hands. ** Your Highness," he concluded, " cannot 
be aware of the strength of the enemy. Hitherto we have only 
been able to keep him under because he was a stranger to 
civilisation." But Elizabeth doubtless regarded these warnings 
with suspicion as coming from a papist. The same year, when 
Ivan sounded her on the subject of granting him an asylum in 
case of need, she assured her "dear brother, the great Emperor 
and Grand Duke," that she would willingly grant him and his 
family safe quarters in England, whenever he desired them. 
After the Peace of Zapolsk, Ivan despatched Theodore Pisemsky 
to England on a double mission (1582). He was to contract a 
political alliance with England against Poland, and a matri- 
monial alliance between Ivan and a kinswoman of the Queen^s, 
preferably Mary Hastings, daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon, 
concerning whom Pisemsky reported most favourably. Both 
projects came to nothing. The political alliance was declined 
as being too adventurous. The matrimonial alliance foundered 
on the unwillingness of the bride elect to trust herself to a 
groom of such very ill repute. Elizabeth softened the pill as 
much as possible in an extremely courteous epistle to Ivan in 
which his " true friend and dear sister " declared she would fain 
make his personal acquaintance. She also sent him a number 
of skilled artificers, engineers, gunners, and one of her own 
doctors. These politenesses were rendered in the hope of 
getting, in return, the monopoly of the Russian trade, but 
the special English envoy, Boyce, failed to obtain any such 

In the last years of his reign Ivan was somewhat consoled 

130 Ivan the Terrible, 1534-1584 [ch. 

for his failure in the west, by the unexpected acquisition of 
territory in the east. 

All this while, the movement of the Russian people towards 
the Urals had continued uninterruptedly; and beyond the 
Urals the tidings of the fall of Kazan and Astrakhan had 
important political consequences. In 1555 Ediger, Khan 
of the Tatar region of Tobolsk, had placed himself beneath 
the high protection of the Tsar and engaged to pay a tribute 
of pelts. Three years later, the wealthy and enterprising firm 
of Stroganov received a charter from the Tsar to colonise and 
exploit the vast waste lands extending north-eastwards in 
the basins of the rivers Kama and Chusovaya, at their own 
expense. They began by building the fort of Kankor and the 
town of Kergedan. The latter had wooden walls thirty fathoms 
thick on stone foundations. In 1572 the Stroganovs suppressed 
a confederacy of the surrounding savages — Ostiaks, Cheremisses 
and Bashkirs. In 1573 the Siberian Khan, Mametkul, crossed 
the Urals and plundered the Ostiak tributaries of the Stro- 
ganovs. The Stroganovs retaliated by also crossing the Urals 
with an armed force and planting a fort on the river Tobola. 
Thus the colonization of Siberia began. In 1579 fresh out- 
breaks of the Voguls and other savages compelled the 
Stroganovs to hire 540 Don Cossacks with their Hetman 
Ermak, or Yermak, to defend their territories on the Kama; 
and, after a three years' war (1579-1581), the hostile tribes 
were reduced to a tributary condition. On September i, 1581, 
Ermak, with a force of 840 Cossacks and 300 German mer- 
cenaries, was sent to render similar services in Siberia. On 
the banks of the Tobola, and again on the banks of the Irtuish, 
the musket prevailed over the bow and arrow. Khan Mametkul 
was vanquished; his stockaded fortress, Sibir, was taken by 
assault (Oct. 16); and the Moscovite sphere of influence was 
extended to the Obi. 

Ivan IV did not live to hear the final result of Ermak's 
triumphs. So early as 1573, when he was only in his 43rd 

vii] Last days of Ivan IV 131 

year, he told the Lithuanian Ambassador, Garaburda, that he 
was already an old man. And, indeed, the horrible life he led, 
and the hideous diseases which had long been consuming him, 
must needs have prematurely aged the strongest of men. 
Ivan's failing health could not have been improved by the 
miseries and the humiliations of the war with Bdthory. His 
marriage in 1561 with a savage Circassian Princess, christened 
Maria, did not tend to improve him morally. Maria died 
in 1569; and in 157 1 Ivan married Martha Sobakina, the 
daughter of a Novgorod merchant, who died within a month. 
Then, contrary to the precepts of the Orthodox Church, he 
took unto himself a fourth wife, Anna Koltovskaya, whom, 
three years later, he shut up in a monastery. In 1580 he 
married, for the fifth time, Martha Nagaya, who bore him a son, 
Demetrius. In November the same year, in a fit of insane 
fury at some contradiction or reproach*, he struck his beloved 
eldest surviving son Ivan, a Prince of rare promise, one blow, 
and the blow proved fatal. 

The wretched father, in an agony of remorse, summoned his 
trembling Boyars, told them of his crime, and declared himself 
unfit to reign any longer. Then, inasmuch as his second son 
Theodore was weak-witted, he commanded them to choose 
the worthiest from among themselves to reign in his stead. 
But the Boyars, fearing some dark trick, would not hear of his 
abdication, and vowed they would obey none but him. Ivan 
survived this catastrophe a couple of years. In the begin- 
ning of 1584 he was attacked by a new and indescribably 
loathsome disease; and a circular letter, addressed to all the 
churches and monasteries in the Tsardom, implored constant 
supplications for "the forgiveness and healing of one accursed." 
In his worst spasms the name of his murdered son was con- 
stantly upon his lips. Yet, to the very last, he refused nothing 
to his vilest appetites. Death released him from his sufferings 
and his sins on March 18, 1584. Feeling better, he had sat 
^ The facts are obscure. 


^r,ti^ r, 4 jifT^^ "/ 'fl*^*- w^i^st ie ;iuMenir :eil lacaESiazds in 

jk/. .^ <jrv K^yi* -k^ ;i<ipiififrt 11* vTsUi Ti Te resszvso. Jon dBe 
..♦'»-v>^rft '«>:t{5A>n« vV^ Tr •«; is "ire .lemTir^Twmir joma. 
v*<!f* >A^** v*^ 7?rviMe v«»aJ:hi5rt liw; last, 

/* »*'ri!'*-<^'^^^w ^<^ j?r^m<(>^/ ^/^itr^nfi^M^ '*l karjw due I am ei3^; 
Vf* ^.VH ;t f^^A^^v^/t*^ rtf % fMen. ^A hia ^^szrx^ wiEL and -Ht^Kriui 
A/hF/jy^i/iY^, >)'>><^ * ^//fA^^ffi^fi/^f rv6t in eacosfc Xor is it zig^ 
f^f y/f^tfj^ ^>f^. /^ >/AW^i^.^ *M lf>ffttklity ^^ ka«an sodetjin the 
T^^f^-Mffh ^Mff'tf/ P/f /y^f/* -«r>e//rt«v?^. The same societj wliidi 
ffffffht^^'^i Mftl/ufit '^VuinUf^ ^X^t prrAuf;td St Philip of Mosooir. 
'Hf'' hf'^h't fU*^ f4 vyj^,y in %txteenth century Moscovy 
fh\ffnhrtU't\ t^rtfi'n m%tWA% f/y th/r mouth of St Philip; and, 
Ir/ M-ff^Jf^^ ^^/ \UUu Uf 'At Hiilip, Ivan sank below the moral 
ti^hfuUftt ht U)*^ «^"/ Nor \n i\m all Ivan left Moscovite 
*»M^l^ly MHI/ If WOM^' fl»«M l»r fr/timl it Instead of attempting to 
iM'rtI h^ MflHMllMl»'*l M«» tfio^wl iWmfuU^TH. He found it cruel and 
hHHMi»'< 1m' I»-M M Mirtft»M» Mn<l rninlhTf Htill. With his contempt 
h\ hiliOMft III**, Willi liirt lovn of (Tud and bloody expedients, 
wHh hiM liiillttMUMMM lo Ihn moral rcHponsibility of his high 
I'MIIIh^, Ih* mmwimI Ihi* iPhlliln Nrrcl of that horrible harvest the 
\'*HfrMtt\'tf l^rmVff 01 " A^n of confuMion," when the Russian 
MItili', lM»h lo pl»Mi»«< hy pit^triulors and adventurers, all but 
»llnim|U'hhi»l hoih Iho Uwv \\(\\\v oarlh'. 

is»uo»\i^llVi Ivrth NVrt!* tiOl ttnd woU made, with high shoulders 
\\\\\\ }\ \s\\sA\\ \'\\\^^\^ \\\r^ »^>v** NNviv m\M and restless, his nose 
(\\\\\K\'\\v ^W"^ \'^\^\\\ ^S\\\ \\\\\\\^\mA\x\s of imjHvsing length. The 
\\^\\\U ^\\\\\\\\'\\ ^W \M\'\ \\\\^ )i<^\v lo his fAiX' that sinister and 
^\\sn^>v\n \< > \\n^>^^x^nm\ wh^is^h vN jvwxrH'wUv in>|Mrt>s$ed 

vii] Characteristic of Ivan 133 

and an enigmatical smile always played around his lips. His 
memory was extraordinary, his energy indefatigable. The 
hardest worked man in his realm, he, nevertheless, made it a 
practice to attend to every petition personally ; and every com- 
plainant, especially if he belonged to the middle and lower 
orders, had free access to him at all times. Like his father before 
him, he loved the relatively learned society of prelates, priests 
and monks ; and, in his palace, at Alexandrovna Sloboda, the 
whole court was arranged on the model of a monastery, Ivan 
himself acting as Igumen, or Abbot. With the middle and lower 
classes, whom, like Louis XI before him, he always favoured 
at the expense of the nobles, he was deservedly popular ; and 
he was the first Tsar who summoned and took the advice of 
national assemblies on important occasions. 



The Jagiellos, after two centuries of almost Sisyphean 
labour, had at last succeeded in welding together, out of the 
most unpromising and rebellious materials, a new great Power, 
the Rzeszpospoliia^ ^ or Polish Commonwealth. This great 
Power was exposed from the first to peculiar perils, both 
external and internal. To begin with, by far the larger part of 
its vast territories^ had no natural boundaries. The eastern 
and northern frontiers, in particular, lay open to the interminable 
raids of the Tatars, the Turks, and the Moscovites, who, with 
but moderate initial success, could easily penetrate to the very 
heart of the unwieldy and ill-defended realm. A strong central 
Government would have endeavoured to remedy this defect, but, 
unfortunately, Poland had no strong central Government ; and 
here we touch upon the cardinal organic defect which was the 
ultimate cause of her ruin. Only sixteen years had elapsed 
between the death of the last of the Jagiellos and the election 
of the first of the Polish Vasas; but, in the interval, a momentous 
political revolution had taken place. Three stormy interreg- 
nums had strikingly demonstrated that some 80,000 country 
squires had become the dominant factor, the motive power, of 
the Republic. But these rude and ignorant country gentlemen, 
whose mental horizon rarely extended beyond the limits of 
their own particular provinces, were naturally at the mercy of 

1 Lit. "res publica." 2 See map I. 

CH. Viii] Character of Sigismund III 135 

every plausible ambitious demagogue; and the inevitable 
multiplication of such demagogues tended to perpetuate 
disorder and anarchy. We have seen how Montluc procured 
the election of Henry, and Zamoyski the election of Stephen 
and Sigismund III, and how, in two cases out of three, the 
" King elect " had still to pass through the ordeal of a civil war 
before he could reach the throne. We shall now see how the 
representatives of the gentry, assembled in their annual Diets, 
after cutting down the prerogative to vanishing point, did their 
best to prevent the King of their own choice from governing at 

The new King, a young man of 21, ascended his thorny 
throne. under almost every conceivable disadvantage. As a 
foreigner he was, from the first, out of sympathy with the 
majority of his subjects. As a highly cultured Prince, fond of 
music, the fine arts and polite literature, he was unintelligible 
to the Szlachta, who regarded all artists and poets as either 
mechanics or adventurers. His very virtues were strange and 
therefore offensive to them. His precocious reserve and 
imperturbable calmness, almost unnatural in one so young, 
were branded as stiffness and haughtiness. He looked more 
like a Spanish Grandee than a Polish King. Certainly, he 
lacked the tact and bonhomie of the Jagiellos, and therefore 
could never hope to be popular as they were ; but, in fairness, it 
should be added that the Jagiellos were natives of the soil, 
that they had practically made the monarchy, and that they 
could always play off their hereditary domain, Lithuania, against 
Poland. Sigismund's difficulties were materially increased, 
moreover, by his political views which he had brought with him 
cut and dried from Sweden, views which happened to be 
diametrically opposite to those of the omnipotent Chancellor. 
The coldness between the two men began at their first inter- 
view. The jovial, expansive Chancellor was painfully affected 
by the reticence and ceremoniousness of the young Prince. 
He complained to his intimate friends that Sigismund was 

136 Sigunmnd III. 1588-1635^ ch. 

^possessed by a dmnb de^iL** When tfadr potidcii s^scems 
began to clash, andpachy hardened into antagpnism. Sigis> 
miindf a zealous Catholic, aimed at a dose aihance widi the 
House of Uapsbur^ with the double object of drawing Sweden 
within the orbit of Austria, and overawing the Poite by the 
coojuncdoo of the two great Powers of central Europe. The 
inevitable corollary to this system was the much-needed reform 
of the Polish Consdtudon, without which nothing bendsdal, 
either to Catholicism or to Poland, was to be expected from 
any external polidcal combinadon. Thus Sigi^nund's vtenrs* 
taken as a whole, showed foresght, and were^ at lease those of 
a pracdcal statesman who cieariy lecogniiw:!! present evils and has 
a definite plan of his own for remedying tMiXti, Zamoyski. on 
the other hand, regarded the Hap^hiir);^ witiv ineradicabLe, 
perhaps exaggerated suspicion- H^ wa«^ 9iX^> intUWerent to any 
radical reform of the Polish Con^tstntkttir ffc <v>nsidered th at, 
so long as the Anstrians were faipC Cjnt (A f'oljSMvi, Poland would 
do very wett as she was. A n<>i4em*ft \AtMtM, he placed no 
limits to the hberty of the tit^AXit^. V/ftrf member of a 
R^ublic of gentlemen, he ^unMf h<*4 th^ f%ht to be as free 
as was compatible with the tj(fn\tf\fit\ n^Mtity, If such liberty 
degenerated into licencef he, ZAm^/y.%ki, who held the Great Seal 
and the Grand Hetman*!** ifkUffi in hfei own hands, would 
simply quell such licence f>y frjff;^, awl all would be well again. 
Yet he believed in the piMnnm <A Poland, and had a 
grandiose but smansxvf •ch^rrrwj r/f making her the head of the 
Slavonic world by her r/wn unaided eflbrts. But in the 
circumstances, and especially in view of the peculiar national 
characteristics of the Poles, Zamoy»ki'» scheme was far more 
nebulous than was Sigismund's idea of a pan-catholic league in 
Eastern Europe. Personal considerations complicated matters 
still further. Zamoyski was, undoubtedly, most jealous of his 
influence and dignity ; his patriotism, genuine as it might be, 
was not always proof against private pique ; and, as we shall see, 
^ Commander-in-chief. 

viii] The King and Zamoyski 137 

though always keeping within constitutional limits, he was 
never over-scrupulous in his choice of means to an end. 

The contest between the King and the Chancellor began 
during Sigismund's first Diet, the so-called "Pacification Diet," 
which met at Warsaw in March 1589. Zamoyski presented to 
this Diet the project of a political combination between Poland, 
Moscovy, and Bohemia, coupled with a suggestion that in case 
the present King should die without issue (a somewhat prema- 
ture and gratuitous assumption in the circumstances) none but 
a Prince of some Slavonic stock should henceforth be eligible 
to the Polish throne. The extravagance of a project which 
could even imagine the possibility of any sort of union between 
Catholic Poland, Orthodox Moscovy, and semi-protestant 
Bohemia struck even the majority of the Diet with amazement. 
It was only explicable at all as a circuitous and clumsy attempt 
to traverse the Hapsburg influence. The Diet promptly 
rejected it, accepting instead the royal proposition of a marriage 
between Sigismund and the Archduchess Anne. The way had 
already been opened for this rapprochement with Austria by 
the Treaty of Bendzyn (March 9, 1589), negotiated by the 
Nuncio Ippolito Aldobrandini, afterwards Clement VIII, 
whereby the Emperor resigned all his claims to the Polish 
Crown. At the succeeding Diet, which assembled in March 
1590, Zamoyski succeeded in persuading the deputies to 
exclude at any rate the Archduke Maximilian from the succes- 
sion to the throne. But he had only gained his ends by 
skilfully frightening them with the bugbears of Austrian 
intrigues and Turkish threats ; and his opponents, headed by the 
Primate Kamkowski, immediately after the Diet rose, formed a 
Confederation^ to protest against its decrees; and a second 
extraordinary Diet, dominated by the enemies of Zamoyski, met 

^ A ** Confederation '* was an assembly formed to protest against the 
acts of a Diet. Its decisions were carried by a majority of votes, whereas 
in a Diet the votes had to be unanimous. On the other hand a Diet had 
subsequently to confirm the decisions of a Confederation. 

* .- . ■ .'_ — /-■ .^ '", tl ^ 

,^^ ' , '■ -*r::^ i 
-"^ .y .--.<. u'.: 

• ' r vy-^r.-r: c- -:. 

<^ *•/' ',•' / ..'.-r 

'/* 'A '/ , .',r.^fy/r.*'A v.- :r_- Kir;^ v. -Ji',y^~ inr,^ ill irte^-orxes 
,//: ' //"/ ^!'. / .". *:.^, \r,'^:s^jiit "A.i5C~iin .-irixls*" Zjiriovski 
/,,., /^// rry/r"-, ^^rr.:Ci.'>le. Sisismur.c. sirccnev: by the 

;',' 'f.'t*/ , ;.H/I -.*. . ;i .•r.or:/ *;nough :o stop rhe inqufsidon half- 
//?/, VI* 'r,' /v.',;( ^y.*'/:z^^ mother, ihe shrtwd and sensible 
h ff ', A- ^f ''..*■'.". ^i^r,i*y *ho had accompanied her daughrer to 
f fxtfftt^ r,»/l UiAf\*. i\, h^:r mind that Zamoyski vras too strong 
N, Sft- :/ f ;».-.>/I/, ;»r»^l that therefore the interests of Austria 
i\i fit uA* 'I '» r' / //fi< ili;ition Ixrtween the King and the Chancellor. 
\)t\\ t*t 'tttnWMUiu w;is aa;omplished quietly by Nicholas 
Iwfl'/, r.fl,i»iri'- of f TiUffWf and included all the leading men 
nl If/ffh |rjfffM<». 'Ml/! rival cardinals Bathory and Radziwill 
/f/|/rnt/'l mII fliMf (;ji«if di/fi!n:nces; Zamoyski was fully reinstated 
111 lUi' f'iiniu\ n/'fr/KiriMhij); and as Grand Chancellor, to the 
^fj luiti] Hnf/»niMliinin(, prrHcmtcd to the Diet and eloquently 
(U'Uiti\i'i\ 1(11 flic Miyitl {propositions, including Sigismund's 

viii] The neiv Christian League 139 

request for leave to proceed to Sweden to occupy the throne 
left vacant by the death of his father John III, on November 
17, 1592. This reconciliation lasted a whole decennium, with 
the happiest results for Poland. Zamoyski, no longer dis- 
tracted by personal considerations, gave his whole attention 
to public affairs, and, from 1595 to 1602, achieved some of his 
most brilliant military and political triumphs. 

In 1595 the Papal Court conceived the idea of a new 
Christian League against the Turk. Certainly the times seemed 
propitious for such an undertaking. Under a succession of six 
weak and vicious Sultans (1566-1656), the Ottoman Empire 
had ceased to be a conquering Power and with difficulty held 
its own in every comer of its vast domains. But it was still far 
too strong an enemy for anything less than a league of Christian 
Princes ; and, unfortunately, such a league, in the circumstances, 
was impossible. The Hapsburg Emperors were absorbed by 
the double effort of catholicising and germanising their 
hereditary domains. Venice would not risk losing the trade of 
the Levant. The Western Powers were indifferent or preoc- 
cupied But the Curia was in an optimistic mood; and, as 
Poland seemed to be the one remaining great Catholic Power 
capable of rallying the hesitating and the lukewarm to the holy 
enterprise, all the efforts of the Curia were directed towards 
arming Poland in the interests of the League. On February 7, 
1595, the Sejm met to consider the question of the Christian 
League. After six weeks of fruitless debating, the deputies, 
conscious that the whole burden of a Turkish war would fall 
upon them, demanded from the Nuncio, as a preliminary, the 
adhesion of the King of Spain and the Emperor to the project. 
But they shewed their willingness to co-operate by voting sub- 
sidies; making military preparations; and advising the Hetmans 
to proceed to the Ukraine to look after the Tatars. Mean- 
while the prospects of the League grew a little brighter. Early 
iJ^ i595» Mahomed III mounted the Ottoman throne over 
the dead bodies of his nineteen strangled brothers, and 

140 Sigismund III, 1588-1632 [cH. 

immediately sent the Grand Vizier, Sinan Pasha, against 
Hungary, with 150,000 men. He was anticipated, however, by 
Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania, who, won over to 
the League by the eloquence of the Jesuit Alfonso Cariglio and 
the promise of the hand of an Austrian Archduchess, had 
already (May 1595) deposed the anti-Austrian Hospodars of 
Moldavia and Wallachia and annexed both principalities to 
Transylvania. The Grand Vizier thereupon directed his forces 
against Transylvania, but was routed by Bathory, at the bloody 
two days' battle of Mezo Ke'resztes ; the Hungarian contingent, 
under Stephen Bocskay, pursuing Sinan to the Danube and cap- 
turing Giurgevo. The Nuncio was now clamorous for the armed 
co-operation of Poland, but Zamoyski took a more sober view 
of the situation. He rightly regarded the victories of Sigismund 
Bathory as Hapsburg victories, and he was determined that 
Poland should not be made the political catspaw of the House 
of Austria. With a small army of 8000 veterans he hastened 
to the Danube, reinstated philo-polish Princes on the thrones of 
Moldavia and Wallachia; and, in his entrenched camp at 
Cecora on Pruth, successfully withstood a three days' siege by 
an innumerable host of Turks and Tatars (Oct. 17--20, 1595), 
whom he compelled, finally, to come to terms with him. 
By the peace of Cecora the Hospodars were recognised by 
the Porte, on condition that Poland refrained from further 
hostilities; and Zamoyski returned home in triumph. Pope 
Clement VHI bitterly reproached Sigismund HI for ruining the 
good cause by the Peace of Cecora ; but Zamoyski exposed the 
futility of the Christian League by promising to lead 70,000 
men against the Turks in person, as the Nuncio proposed, on 
condition (i) that Austria should henceforth refrain from all 
interference in Polish affairs, (2) that, in case of success, 
Wallachia and Moldavia should be incorporated with Poland, 
and (3) that in the meantime Breslau and Olmiitz should be 
occupied by Polish garrisons as security for the bona fides of 
the Emperor. As Zamoyski had anticipated, the Nuncio 

VIII J Zamoyski and the Austrian Faction 141 

declined to give any such guarantees, and the negotiations fell 
through. In 15 98-1 600 Zamoyski again found it necessary to 
readjust the political situation in the Danubian principalities, 
where the Gospodar Michael was working in the Austrian 
interest against Poland. On October 20 he routed Michael, at 
Tergoviste, and re-established the ascendancy of Poland in those 
parts. To the same period (July-Sept. 1598) belongs the 
expulsion of Sigismund from his Swedish kingdom by the Pro- 
testant majority there ^ a fresh blow to the hopes of the Curia. 
But, though frustrated in its attempts to entice Poland into 
a highly adventurous oriental policy, the Austro-Ultramontane 
Party, as it may be called, was now in the ascendant in Poland 
itself. Towards the end of 1602 Zamoyski's influence had 
visibly declined. Out of the 142 chief dignitaries of the 
Republic he could only count absolutely on 30 ; and his chief 
opponent, the Grand Marshal, Sigismund Gonzaga Myszkowski, 
generally detested for his haughtiness and foreign ways which 
gained him the sobriquet of "the Italian," was one of 
Sigismund's chief counsellors. Signs of a coming storm were 
in the air. The Szlachta was more than usually suspicious and 
turbulent. There were loud complaints, not altogether un- 
warranted, of religious persecutions in Lithuania by the Jesuits ; 
and disquieting rumours were afloat that the King was about to 
meddle with the Constitution. When, in 1602, Sigismund 
wedded the Archduchess Constantia, the sister of his first wife, 
Anne, who had died in 1599, the tempest burst forth. Sigis- 
mund's second marriage aroused all Zamoyski^s ancient fears 
and jealousies of the Hapsburgs ; and, though now in his 62nd 
year, he led the opposition during the tumultuous Diets of 1603 
and 1605 with his usual spirit and eloquence, but also with 
quite an unusual unfairness towards his opponents. The utter 
futility of these two Diets had, at least, the good eflect of 
seriously alarming the wiser heads for the safety of the 
Republic. At the Diet of 1605 warning voices were even 
^ See vay Scandinavia^ pp. 137 — 139. 

142 Sigismund III, 1588- 163 2 [ch. 

raised against the absurdity of the existing Constitution, which 
demanded absolute unanimity in the decisions of the Diet. 
"Whether from malice, obstinacy or stupidity," said Ostrog- 
sky. Castellan of Posen, "all our counsels and consultations 
end in nothing. It is a great glory, no doubt, for the Szlachta 
to be able to obstruct the whole Commonwealth; but it is 
a great shame for the Commonwealth that, with such a govern- 
ment as ours, anyone can bring about the ruin of the State from 
sheer obstinacy and stupidity. For God's sake let us not allow 
the Republic to perish without an effort to save it." Baran- 
owski, Bishop of Plock, supported the Castellan, and declared 
that the conclusions of the Diet should be decided by a 
majority instead of by an unanimity of votes. Nothing was 
done, however, as the Diet regarded any such proposal as 
a veiled attack upon its most sacred liberties. 

Mischievous as the influence of Zamoyski had been during 
these Diets, his death on June 3, 1605, made matters infinitely 
worse. A man of his indisputable genius and force of character 
could always, at a pinch, impose some limits on. the violence of 
his partisans. Unfortunately, his mantle fell upon the shoulders 
of a man who, notwithstanding blameless, even glorious antece- 
dents and many edifying private virtues, was ill-equipped for 
the duties and the responsibilities of political leadership. 

Nicholas Zebrzydowski was related by marriage to Zamoyski 
and had been one of his close confidants. The youngest of 
the partisans of the Chancellor, he had hitherto played only a 
subordinate political r61e; but his career, so far, had been 
honourable and promising. His zeal and patriotism in the 
ser\'ice of Stephen Bdthory had been rewarded with the 
starosties of Stenczyn and Bolislaw. Zamoyski had added to 
them the still wealthier starosty of Cracow ; and, from hence- 
forth, Zebrzydowski attached himself to the victorious standard 
of the Chancellor. He had distinguished himself during the 
third interr^num and in the war with Maximilian, and won the 
favour of Sigismund UI, who raised him to the Senate, not so 

viii] Nicholas Zebrzydowski 143 

much for his services as for his exemplary piety. A i)iipil of 
the Jesuits and intimate with the famous Skarga, Si^^ismund's 
court chaplain, he had founded a Jesuit school at Luhlin, huilt 
the magnificent Calvary monastery near Oacow, renownwl 
through Poland, and was generally regarded, and with justice, 
as an ornament to the Faith. Unfortunately, his talents by no 
means kept pace with his virtues. Though a brave soldier, he 
was no general ; though for years a confidant of the jilans of 
the Chancellor he had learnt nothing of diplomacy, and had nol 
a political idea of his own. He claimed to l)e the si)iritual heir 
of Zamoyski; but all that he had inherited from his master 
was that master's hatreds and prejudices. Yet, undoubtedly, 
2^brzydowski is a very important figure in Polish history. 
To him belongs the doubtful honour of making constitutional 
reform in Poland impossible by constitutional means. 

At the beginning of 1606, Sigismund III summoned the I )iet 
for the express purpose of reforming the Constitution by sub- 
stituting decisions by majorities for that unattainable counsel of 
perfection — absolute unanimity. If Poland was to continue 
her political existence, the proposed reform, obviously, was 
urgent and indispensable. Nevertheless, the royal manifesto 
had scarce been issued when Zebrzydowski summoned a Con- 
federation to protest against an innovation "so destructive of 
personal Uberty." The Confederation assembled first at 
Stenczyn and then at Lublin (June 4) and was very largely 
attended by Orthodox Lithuanians, Protestant Poles and 
political refugees from Hungary. Amongst the most eloquent 
champions of individual liberty was Stanislaus Stadnicki, sur- 
named "the Devil," who, to quote a contemporary, "had more 
sins on his conscience than hairs on his head." This nobleman 
habitually cropped the noses and ears of offensive small squires, 
and kept his peasants chained to the walls of subterranean 
dungeons for months together. Such leaders naturally adopted 
the most extreme expedients. On August 6 the Confederation 
moved to Sandomir, where it converted itself into a Rokosz^ or 

144 Sigismund Illy 1588-163 2 [ch. 

" Insurrection," with the avowed object of dethroning the King 
and electing as his successor Stephen Bocskay, the Protestant 
Prince of Transylvania, from whom the malcontents got both 
money and mercenaries. 

Sigismund was now obliged to take measures for his personal 
security. His worst enemies could never accuse him of 
cowardice, and, with nothing but a lukewarm Diet and a timid 
Senate to support him against an armed insurrection of at least 
one half of the Polish gentry, he now shewed what stuff he was 
made of. First, he summoned to his assistance the Quartians, 
or border troops, from the Ukraine. Then, by the advice of 
the Senate, he issued a manifesto condemning the " Insurrec- 
tion " of Sandomir, and at the same time summoned a rival 
Zajazd^ to meet at Wislica for the purpose of forming a 
Confederation in defence of the Crown. He then proceeded 
to Cracow to confront the rebels and, if possible, overawe 

The resolute conduct of the King was not without effect. 
The gentry of the palatinates of Russia and Sieradia, enraged at 
the ravaging of their estates by the " Insurrectionists," acceded 
en masse to the Zajazd of Wislica ; and the " Insurrectionists," 
alarmed at the diminution of their following, offered to treat 
and drew up 64 articles, which aimed at still further reducing 
the royal power. They demanded the protection of Protestant 
and Orthodox minorities, the equal distribution of offices and 
dignities irrespective of creeds and nationalities, and the expul- 
sion of the Jesuits from the realm. But Sigismund refused to 
treat with rebels and took the field against them. In September 
(1606) he routed Zebrzydowski at Janowiec, whereupon the 
"Insurrectionists" surrendered and were allowed to renew 
their homage, after solemnly pledging themselves to disturb 
the Commonwealth no more. But all these promises were 
speedily broken ; and, in the course of 1607, the agitation was 
renewed, and became more widespread than ever. A fresh 
^ The Polish equivalent of the Magyar Rokosz, 

viii] Zebrzydowski s Insurrection 145 

Rokosz was formed at Jendrzejow, at the very time when 
the Diet was assembling at Warsaw. On May 25, with 
the consent of the Senate, Sigismund issued an edict demanding 
its instant dispersion. The " Insurrectionists " retaliated by 
declaring that a Rokosz was as much superior to King 
and Diet combined as a General Council was superior to 
the Pope. Consequently, a Rokosz was the only legitimate 
tribunal for the remedy of popular grievances. At this crisis, 
the Diet, instead of energetically supporting the King in his 
efforts to re-establish the rudiments of law and order, practically 
enlisted itself on the side of anarchy. Composed, as it was, of 
the same elements as the Rokosz^ its sympathies were with the 
" Insurrectionists '' rather than with the Government ; and its 
edict " De non praestanda oboedientia" (June 17, 1607), which 
was intended to be a compromise, really amounted to a sur- 
render. This disastrous edict enjoined that, in case of any 
future malpractices on the part of the King, he was to be twice 
warned to cease therefrom by the Primate and the Senate, and 
once more by the succeeding Diet If he neglected these three 
warnings, the nation was absolved from its allegiance and free 
to choose a new Sovereign. But even this did not satisfy the 
"Insurrectionists." Their personal hatred of so resolute a 
lover of orderly government as Sigismund III dominated every 
other consideration, and they would be content with nothing 
short of his deposition. On June 24 they issued a manifesto 
at Jeziorna, a village 45 miles from Warsaw, renouncing their 
allegiance to Sigismund and proclaiming Gabriel Bethlen, 
Prince of Transylvania, King of Poland. 

For the second time, Sigismund's Crown hung on the point 
of his sword. The Grand and Vice Hetmans, Zolkiewski and 
Chodkiewicz, were sent against the rebels and, after pursuing 
them for weeks, brought them to battle at Oransk, near Guzow 
(April 6, 1608), when a desperate encounter ensued. Once 
the "Insurrectionists," who were greatly strengthened by a 
contingent of Hungarian mercenaries, broke the left wing of 
B. 10 

146 Sigismtind III, 1 588-1 632 [ch. 

Sigismund's army and approached the royal camp. The panic- 
stricken Senators took to their heels, but the King stood firm ; 
the bulk of the army rallied round him ; and the rebels were 
routed. Nevertheless, during the next twelve months, fresh 
"Insurrections" burst forth all over the country; and quiet was 
only at last restored by the proclamation (1609) of a general 
amnesty, which punished nobody and decided nothing. The 
growing unwillingness of the Grand Hetman Zolkiewski "to 
shed the blood of our brethren " was the cause of this unsatis- 
factory solution. The helpless King was obliged to concur, 
and henceforth abandoned all his projects of constitutional 

Thus the Szlachta had become dominant, and its one exclu- 
sive idea was to remain dominant. From the middle and lower 
classes, whom it had crushed beneath its feet, nothing was 
to be feared. But the King, as the nominal head of the 
State, as the controller of foreign affairs through his official 
counsellors, the Senate and the Chancellors, and, as the head 
of the army, through the Hetmans, whom he appointed, was 
still a potential menace to individual liberty as the Szlachta 
understood it Henceforth, therefore, an unreasonable, incur- 
able suspicion of the Crown, and all the executive instruments 
of the Crown, is the characteristic, or rather the mania, of 
every Polish Diet. For its country, as a State, the Szlachta 
had no thought at all. So long as every Szlachcic, or squire, 
was lord paramount in his own parish he cared little for 
anything beyond it. And what, after all, was the Sejm, or 
Diet, but a collection of some 600 of such squires who met 
annually at Warsaw or elsewhere, in order to contribute as 
little as possible to public needs and protest vehemently 
against everything they did not like or could not understand ? 
So far as they can be said to have had any policy at all, the 
Szlachta was in favour of absolute non-intervention in foreign 
affairs, as being the cheapest and least troublesome policy to 
pursue. The unwillingness with which the gentry of Poland 

VIII J The opportunities of Poland 147 

parted with their money, especially for armaments, however 
necessary, was entirely due to the fear lest a popular monarch, 
at the head of a victorious army, might curtail their privileges. 
Rather than run such a risk as this, they were ready to avoid 
every advantageous alliance, forgo every political opportunity, 
stint their armies, starve and abandon their generals, and even 
leave the territories of the Republic unguarded and undefended. 
That this is no exaggeration will be obvious to everyone who 
takes the trouble to follow the course of events during the long 
reign of Sigismund III. Then, if ever, Polish statesmen had 
the opportunity of realising the Jagiellonic dream of Empire. 
The political situation everywhere favoured them. Livonia, 
with its fine seaboard and its hundreds of towns and fortresses, 
had literally fallen into the lap of Poland. Her one serious 
rival in the north was the rude young Swedish monarchy ; for 
Moscovy, after the death of Ivan IV (1584), had ceased to be 
dangerous. The Turk, unless violently shaken, was inclined to 
slumber. The Emperor and the Western Powers were more or 
less involved in the Spanish and, subsequently, in the Thirty 
Years' War. The regular army, if small, was good ; while in the 
Cossacks Poland had an almost unlimited reserve of the best 
raw military material. Finally, she possessed, in Zamoyski, 
Stanislaus Zolkiewski, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and Stanislaus 
Koniecpolski, four of the greatest captains of the age. No 
wonder that the Catholic League expected great things from 
the Republic. Who could ever have foreseen that the Poles 
themselves would frustrate the hopes of Poland ! 

The Livonian question was the first which called for prompt 
settlement. We have seen^ how, by the Truce of Zapolsk 
(1582), Ivan IV ceded Livonia to Poland. But the Swedes 
also set up claims to the Baltic Provinces, and attempted to 
enforce them in 1600 when Sigismund III, though expelled 
from Sweden, refused to relinquish his claims to the Swedish 
throne. After conquering Esthonia, which, it will be re- 
^ See last chapter. 

10 — 2 

148 Sigismund Illy 1588-1632 [ch. 

membered, was also part of the territories of the ancient 
Order of the Sword, the Swedes invaded Livonia; and by 
March, 1601, the whole country, except Riga and Koken- 
hausen, were in their possession. But, in the beginning of 
1602 the tide turned. Zamoyski, supported by his two great 
pupils, Zolkiewski and Chodkiewicz, took the field against the 
Swedes and recovered so many of the captured fortresses that 
Charles IX offered to surrender Livonia if Sigismund would be 
equally complaisant with regard to Sweden. Zamoyski, confi- 
dent of success, advised a vigorous prosecution of the war; but 
his hopes were dashed by a sudden mutiny of the Polish army, 
which demanded its long outstanding arrears of pay and, 
failing to obtain them, dispersed among the Lithuanian palati- 
nates, burning and ravaging as they went. In consequence of 
this, the Poles were unable to do anything for two years. Then 
Chodkiewicz again took the field, captured Dorpat and routed 
the Swedes at Weisenstein (Sept. 15, 1604), for which exploit 
he won the grand baton of Lithuania. In August, 1605, 
Charles IX, w^ith an army of 16,000 men, reassumed the offensive 
and advanced against Riga. Chodkiewicz, whose army was now 
reduced to 3,400 men, mostly cavalry, sent letter after letter 
both to Poland and Lithuania for reinforcements. His urgent 
appeals remained unanswered; but, recognising clearly that 
the fall of Riga would mean the total loss of Esthonia 
and Livonia, he resolved to seek his fortune in the field 
and risk everything on one desperate venture. Accordingly, 
he posted himself two miles from Riga, on the banks 
of the Dwina, near a little chapel on an island known 
as Kirkholm. Charles hastened thither with all his forces 
to administer the coup de grdce. The army of the Swedes 
consisted almost entirely of infantry. They occupied all the 
surrounding hills; their superior artillery commanded all the 
fords; they only waited for the enemy to emerge to annihilate 
him. At 8 o'clock in the morning, Chodkiewicz suddenly 
darted out at the head of his squadrons as if in panic flight 

viii] Battle of Kirkholm 149 

and drew the Swedish army after him into the open field, 
when he turned swiftly on the disordered ranks of his pursuers. 
After three hours of desperate fighting, the Swedes scattered in 
every direction ; and the battle became a carnage which lasted 
till evening. Barely 5000 of the Swedes escaped; 9000 of 
them bit the dust. Sixty standards, eleven guns, all the baggage 
and the military chest fell into the hands of the Lithuanian 
Grand Hetman. Charles IX himself owed his escape to the 
devotion of Henrik Wrede, who sacrificed his horse, and with 
it his life, to save his master. 

The victory of Kirkholm (Sept. 27, 1605) was a sensational 
event. Pope Paul V bestowed his thanks and blessing on 
Chodkiewicz in an autograph letter. Sigismund III received 
congratulatory letters on the glorious success of the Polish 
arms from a dozen contemporary Potentates, including, some- 
what to his surprise, the Sultan and the Shah. Unfortunately, 
this signal victory was rendered absolutely fruitless by the 
** Insurrections," already described, which convulsed Poland 
during the next three years. Chodkiewicz's army, still unpaid, 
again mutinied cfi masse \ and it was as much as he could do, 
with a handful of mercenaries, paid out of his own pocket, to 
keep the Swedes in check till the theatre of the struggle was, in 
1609, transferred to Moscovy. 

The details of the Russo-Polish war of 1609-161 3 are related 
in the following chapter. Here we would only emphasise the 
fact that the triumphs of Chodkiewicz and of his colleague, the 
Grand Hetman of the Crown, Zolkiewski, were, throughout that 
war, perpetually minimised and neutralised by the jealous and 
fatal parsimony of the Polish Diet. Thus, Chodkiewicz was 
sent against the Moscovites with a lilliputian army of 2000 men, 
though, if there had been a spark of true patriotism in Poland, 
he could easily have been provided with the requisite 100,000. 
Nay, the Diet neglected to pay for the maintenance of even 
the 2000, which consequently mutinied and compelled its 
leader to retreat through the heart of Moscovy to Smolensk. 

150 Sigismund III, 1588-1632 [ch. 

Similarly, when Zolkiewski, in 161 1, presented the captive Tsar 
Vasily Shuiski and his family to the Diet, the unwonted sight 
evoked boisterous enthusiasm from every part of the House ; 
and the Grand Hetman received a perfect ovation from the 
delighted deputies. But when the Chancellor, Myszkowski, 
taking advantage of the opportunity, appealed to the liberality 
of the Szlachia and called for subsidies "sufficient to put a 
roof on so imposing an edifice," they would barely grant 
enough to fortify the freshly recovered fortress of Smolensk. 
But it is only when we come to the dealings of the Republic 
with its border mercenaries, the Cossacks, that we are able to 
realise the full folly of a policy which grudged every penny 
spent on the national defences. The position of the Cossacks 
in the Polish Republic was peculiar. At the beginning of the 
sixteenth century the illimitable steppes of south-eastern Europe, 
extending from the Dniester to the Urals, had no fixed popula- 
tion. The perpetual incursions of the Tatar hordes of Budjak and 
the Crimea made the Ukraine, or " borderland," as it was called, 
unsafe to dwell in ; but, gradually, as the lot of the serf, both 
in Poland and Moscovy, grew more and more intolerable, the 
more energetic spirits among the peasantry sought an un- 
trammelled, adventurous life in the free steppe. Obliged, for 
fear of the Tatars, to go about constantly with arms in their 
hands, they soon grew strong enough to raid their raiders, 
selling the rich booty thus acquired to the merchants of 
Moscovy and Poland. As time went on, the Cossacks multi- 
plied exceedingly. Their daring grew with their numbers, and 
they became an annoyance to all their neighbours, frequently 
involving both Poland and Moscovy in dangerous and unneces- 
sary wars with the Ottoman Porte. Every river of any import- 
ance had its own Cossack settlement. Thus, beginning from 
the extreme east of Europe, we find the Yaitsie Cossacks on the 
Yaitsa, the Volgan Cossacks, the Terskie Cossacks on the Terek, 
and, further westwards, the Don Cossacks. The Cossacks of 
the Yaitsa, the Volga, the Terek and the Don were under the 

viii] The Zaporozhian Cossacks 151 

nominal dominion of Moscovy ; but the most important of all 
the Cossacks, the Cossacks of the Dnieper, were the vassals of 
the Crown of Poland. 

The origin of the Syech^ or Community of the Dnieperian 
Cossacks, is still somewhat obscure ; but it was of importance, as 
a military outpost, so early as the beginning of the sixteenth 
century. Not, however, till 1570 do we find the Cossacks 
permanently entrenched among the islands of the Lower 
Dnieper. The Union of Lublin (1569), which tended to 
the polonising of Lithuania, was the immediate occasion of 
a considerable exodus to the lowlands of the Dnieper of those 
peasants who would escape the taxes of the Polish Government 
and the tyranny of the Polish Pans, or overlords. This greatly 
increased the number of the Cossacks; and Stephen Bathory con- 
verted them into a strong military colony for the defence of the 
border by enrolling the pick of them in six registered regiments 
of 1000 men each, with allotted districts where they could live 
with their families, with their headquarters on and around the 
island of Hortica, just below iheporogt, or falls, of the Dnieper, 
whence they were generally known as the Zaporozhians^ or " Back- 
fallsmen\" Bathory judged it expedient to leave the Cossacks 
alone as far as possible, so long as they fulfilled their chief 
obligation of guarding the frontiers of the Republic against the 
Tatar raids. The Cossack Koshy or commonwealth, had the 
privilege of electing its Ataman^ or Hetman, and his chief officers, 
the starshinsj annually. The Cossack Hetman received from 
the King of Poland direct the insignia of his office, namely, the 
bulawa, or biton, the bunchuk^ or horse-tail standard, and his 
official seal. He was also obliged to follow the Grand Hetmans of 
the Crown and of Lithuania to battle whenever called upon to do 
so. But, as chief of the Kosh^ he was responsible to the Kosh 
alone ; and an enquiry into his conduct, during his year of office, 
was held, at the expiration of that term, in the Obshchaya Shkodka, 
or General Assembly, where complaints against him were invited 
* Compare the American " Backwocxismen." 

152 Sigismund III, 1588-1632 [ch. 

and considered. Thus the Cossacks were independent of the 
Polish Diet, though the Diet was pledged to support them as 
part of the national forces. This privileged position was very 
odious to the Szlachta, who resented the existence of an army 
which took its orders from the King and yet drew its pay from 

The Cossacks were from the first a very disturbing and 
incalculable element in Polish politics. The Republic, with 
the Porte as its next-door neighbour, was bound to keep the 
Cossacks within due limits ; and this she endeavoured to do by 
reducing their numbers and setting over them Polish officers. 
But the Cossacks resented the slightest curtailment of the 
ancient custom of marauding ; and hence collisions between 
the Polish Government were frequent and bloody. Thus, in 
1596, Zolkiewski was obliged to besiege the Cossack Hetman 
Nalewajko in his camp at Lubus, when 8500 Cossacks out of 
10,000 perished after a desperate resistance. In 1613, en- 
couraged by the disorders in Poland, the Zaporozhians under- 
took a great piratical expedition on the Black Sea, destroyed 
Sinope and other ports, and returned home with booty of the 
value of 40 millions of Polish gulden. A war with the Turks 
now seemed inevitable, but it was averted, for a time, by the 
courage and vigilance of Zolkiewski, who, by the skilful 
disposition of his Quarttans^, kept back the Tatars, and by 
imposing demonstrations in the Ukraine overawed the Turks. 
These operations were conducted almost entirely at his own 
expense, the Diet turning a deaf ear to most of his appeals for 
help. Left, thus, to his own resources he was obliged to make 
the best terms he could with the chronically rebellious Cossacks. 
Thus, by the compact of Olszawa (161 6), he promised them an 
annual allowance of 1000 ducats and 700 wagon-loads of cloth, 

^ The Quartians^ or Kwartians^ were border troopers, for the mainten- 
ance of which a kwarta^ or fourth, of the private Crown estates were set 
aside. The institution was founded in 1562 by Sigismund II to reji^ve tji§ 
Diet as much as possible. 

viii] Zolkiewski and the Cossacks 153 

on condition that they abstained from piracy ; and by the com- 
pact of Rastawa (161 7), thousands of unregistered Cossacks, 
mostly runaway serfs, were attached, as auxiliaries, to the 
registered regiments instead of being compelled to return to 
their masters as heretofore. This great concession was deeply 
resented by the landowners and accounts for their persistent 
hostility to the Grand Hetman. But, though postponed for 
a time, a war with Turkey, in view of the endless raiding 
of Turkish territory not only by the Cossacks, but by the 
Pans themselves, wasf bound to come sooner or later. The 
conclusion of the long and wearing Persian war in 161 8, gave 
the Porte a freer hand in Europe; and Sultan Osman, in alliance 
with Gabriel Bethlen, determined to attack Poland with all his 
forces. At this critical moment, when the very existence of the 
Republic was at stake, the malcontent majority of the Sejm^ 
instead of voting adequate subsidies, fiercely attacked the Grand 
Hetman of the Crown in full Diet, accusing him of uselessly 
protracting the Cossack and Tatar wars to his own advantage. 
In all these accusations, the result partly of personal jealousy 
and partly of a suspicion that Zolkiewski favoured the King's 
political views, there was not one word of truth. The Grand 
Hetman defended himself with dignity; but, towards the end of 
his speech, righteous indignation overcame him and, turning 
towards the throne, he exclaimed, " Of a truth, before dying, I 
would fain have had some rest and respite not only from many 
grievous labours, but also from the tongues of men. For four 
and forty years I have rendered military service, shedding my 
blood in battles, skirmishes and sieges, yet I, who, methinks, 
have held up the Republic in my arms, I forsooth ! am evil, and 
those who plunge the Republic into destruction are the better 
men." It was with a broken heart and a foreboding of disaster 
that the aged Zolkiewski prepared for his last campaign. 
Collecting 10,000 men at Bar, he crossed the Dniester at 
Podbihy and, on September 7, entered Moldavia, whose 
Hospodar, Grecian, wa3 in the Poligh interest and h?id 

J 54 Sigismund Illy 1588-1632 [ch. 

promised to bring with him an auxiliary force of 25,000. 
When, then, he joined Zolkiewski with only 500, the Grand 
Hetman perceived that the original plan of campaign must be 
al)andoned. He entrenched himself, provisionally, at Zamoyski's 
old camp at Cecora, where, on September 19, 161 8, he was 
attacked by Skinder Pasha and 60,000 Turks. The assault was 
beaten off; but the situation was now so serious that, at a Council 
of War, Zolkiewski advised a retreat to Mohilew. But the 
Hospodar and many of the Szlachta^ objecting to the perils 
of so long a march, burst out of the camp and, in an en- 
deavour to cross the Dniester and gain Bessarabia, were cut 
to pieces by the enemy. With his reduced forces, Zolkiewski 
then began hi^ retreat through the burnt and barren steppe, 
harassed at every step by his pursuers. For seven days he 
fought bis way along, when a second mutiny broke out, and the 
bulk of his forces deserted him after plundering his camp. 
'J'ben the Turks fell upon the little band which still stood 
firn), and massacred all but a few generals and dignitaries who 
were held to ransom. The Grand Hetman himself, fighting to 
the last and covered with wounds, was finally decapitated by a 
Turkish scimitar. His head was sent to Stambul as a present 
for the Sultan. 

'i'his terrible disaster awoke at last the conscience of the 
nation. The Diet of 161 9 voted the unprecedented but still 
jnadecjuate sum of six millions of Polish gulden for war expenses; 
the I.ithuanian (irand Hetman, Chodkiewicz, was appointed to 
the supreme command; and the Krolowicz, or Crown Prince, 
Wladislaus, accompanied the army to the Ukraine. Chodkiewicz 
had demanded at least 60,000 men, but the money voted could 
tJt(uip no more than 35,000 ; and with this little host he had to 
confront the pick of the Turkish army, 160,000 strong, led by 
HviUan Osman in person. At the last moment, however, he 
was joined by the Cossack Hetman, Sahajadichny, with 30,000 
horaemen, and strongly entrenched himself on the Dniester, not 
ff^r from Chocim, to bar the way of the Ottoman army. The 

viii] The War of Chocim 155 

siege, which lasted from September 2 to October 9, was glorious 
alike to the Poles and the Cossacks. Chodkiewicz, now in his 
6 1 St year, died of exhaustion during the siege, but he lived long 
enough to hurt back a dozen assaults and so break the spirit of 
the Turkish host that, on the first fall of autumn snow, Osman 
opened negotiations. On October 9, a truce was signed, on 
a uti possidetis basis, which the Janissaries considered to be so 
humiliating to the Ottoman Empire that they murdered the 
Sultan on his return to the capital. 

"The War of Chocim," as it is called, gave Poland a 
respite from Turkish attacks for more than a generation, 
though it was dearly purchased by the sacrifice of two such 
heroes as Zolkiewski and Chodkiewicz. Fortunately for Poland 
she still possessed in Stanislaus Koniecpolski a commander 
capable of upholding the military traditions of heroic Poland. 
The pupil and son-in-law of Zolkiewski, he had fought by his 
side to the last on the bloody field of Cecora, and, after three 
years* captivity at Stambul, returned to Poland in 1623. The 
exploits of Koniecpolski are the most memorable events of the 
latter years of the reign of Sigismund. It was he who, on the 
resumption of the Swedish war, in 1626, with miserably inade- 
quate forces, for three years successfully defended Poland 
proper against Gustavus Adolphus, whom he defeated in 
several engagements, notably at Homerstein (1627) and at 
Trcziana (1629). A more vigorous prosecution of the war 
might have rid the Republic of her troublesome northern 
neighbour. But the Sejm never grasped the significance of 
the situation, and, instead of enabling Koniecpolski to follow 
up his victories, concluded with Sweden the six years' truce of 
Altmark, whereby Gustavus retained possession of Livonia, 
together with Elbing, a considerable portion of the delta of 
the Vistula, Braunsburg in West and Pillau and Memel in 
East Prussia. Still more important than these territorial 
acquisitions was the permission conceded to the Swedes of 

156 Sigismund III, 1588-1632 [ch. viii 

levying tolls at Pillau, Memel, Dantzic, Labiau and Windau, 
from which they derived, in 1629 alone, no less than 500,000 
rix dollars. 

But it was in the southern Ukraine that Koniecpolski 
reaped his most brilliant laurels. In 1623, just before his 
departure for the Baltic, he routed 65,000 Tatars at Martuinov 
on the Dniester. Subsequently he devoted himself to the 
difficult task of chastising the Cossacks, whose pretensions 
had become insupportable. He broke their power at the great 
battle of Perejaslawl, and imposed upon them the compact 
of Kurakow, which reduced the numbers of the registered 
Cossacks to 6000 men, at an annual cost of 60,000 gulden 


Sigismund III would have intervened in the Thirty Years' 
War, on the Catholic side, but for the determined opposition of 
the Diet, expressing itself in fresh insurrections and the refusal 
of supplies. His intervention would have taken the form of an 
invasion and, possibly, an occupation of Transylvania, which, 
under the energetic and ambitious Princes of the Protestant 
Houses of Bethlen and Rakoczy, was the active ally of the 
Sultan and equally dangerous to Austria and Poland. The 
best heads in Poland, including Zolkiewski, warmly approved 
of the King's policy in this respect, but it proved to be imprac- 
ticable. The Diet's mania for non-intervention went so far 
that it refused to grant any subsidies for the Swedish War — 
with the disastrous consequences already recorded. Towards 
the end of his reign, Sigismund III withdrew altogether 
from politics and devoted himself exclusively to family matters. 
He died, very suddenly, of apoplexy, on April 30, 1632, in his 
66th year. He would have made an excellent Sovereign if only 
his subjects had allowed him to rule them. 


1 584-161 3. 

The death of Ivan IV left Moscovy in much the same 
position as it had been on the death of his father : in both 
cases a Regency was necessary, but, in the present instance, 
the regency had to be permanent; for Theodore, the eldest 
surviving son of Ivan by Anastasia Romanov, was scarce able 
to walk, or speak, or indeed do anything but smile unceasingly 
at the orb and sceptre placed in his hands on state occasions. 
Such a regency was necessarily the arena of a struggle for 
power amongst the principal patricians, who fell into two 
well-defined groups. First came the princely families of the 
Mstislavskies and the Golitsuins, collateral descendants of 
Rurik and Gedymin respectively, the prime dignitaries of the 
land, but without sufficient ability or influence to assert them- 
selves. Next after them came two Boyar families, both closely 
connected with the Tsarish family, the Romanovs and the 
Godunovs. The Romanovs were the kinsfolk of the young 
Tsar's grandmother, and had eminently distinguished them- 
selves in the service of his father. Less pure was the source 
of the greatness of the Godunovs. Their leader, Boris Theodo- 
rovich, a handsome, stately man of great ability, had first won 
the confidence of Ivan by marrying one of the daughters of 
his infamous favourite Malyutka Skuratov. The marriage of 
Boris' sister Irene with the Tsarevich Theodore had brought 

158 Boris Godunov, 1584-1613 [ch. 

Godunov still nearer to the throne; but, during the first two 
years of the new reign, the dominant personage at court was 
Nikita Romanov, the young Tsar's uncle. Theodore I was 
crowned Tsar on May 31, 1584. An attempt to supersede 
him by placing his young half-brother, Demetrius, the son of 
Tsaritsa Martha Nagaya, on the throne, was easily frustrated ; 
and the Tsarevich Demetrius, with his kinsfolk, was forthwith 
banished to his appanage at Uglich. In April 1586 died 
Nikita Romanov; and Boris Godunov, chiefly through the influ- 
ence of his sister, Irene, stepped into his place. A combina- 
tion of all the other Boyars and of the merchants of Moscow, 
now, thanks to the encouragement of Ivan IV, a power in the 
State, was immediately formed, to oust Godunov; but the 
Tsar's relations supported him and he prevailed. In the 
following year, Godunov, suspecting a fresh conspiracy, struck 
down his most inveterate enemies, the Shuiskies ; and, at the 
same time, some of the leading Moscow merchants disap- 
peared, no man knew whither. An attempt of the Metropolitan 
Dionysius to save the fallen Boyars, by an appeal to the Tsar, 
recoiled on his own head. He was banished to a distant 
monastery as a simple monk ; and Job, Archbishop of Rostov, 
a creature of Godunov's, was consecrated Metropolitan in his 
stead. Henceforth Godunov was without rivals. He assumed 
the title of "Great intimate Boyar" and ** Administrator of the 
Kingdoms of Kazan and Astrakhan," gave foreign powers to 
understand that if they wanted anything in Moscovy they were 
to apply to him direct, and exchanged gifts with Sovereign 
Princes as if he were their equal. In short, the Administrator 
was now the actual ruler of Moscovy. His vast wealth was an 
additional guarantee of his stability. His annual income at 
this period could not have been much below ;£50o,ooo a year. 
He and his family out of their private fortunes could fully 
equip 100,000 men-at-arms in forty days. 

The foreign policy of the Administrator was enlightened in 
so far as it endeavoured to draw Moscovy out of her isolation 

ix] Boris as Administrator 159 

by cultivating the friendship of foreign powers, but cautious 
to cowardice in its endeavours to avoid war except under 
impossibly favourable conditions. The dread of Stephen 
Bathory still paralysed Moscovite politics. At the beginning 
of the new reign, Stephen had demanded Great Novgorod, 
Pskov, Smolensk and Severia ; but the Pans took care that his 
great designs came to nothing. They chafed and fretted 
beneath the curb of a strong King, openly declared to a 
Moscovite erfibassy, sent to Poland, in 1585, to obtain a pro- 
longation of the truce, their preference for " a gentle and pious 
Prince*' like the young Tsar, and rejoiced indecently at the 
unsatisfactory condition of Bathory's wounds, which promised 
to relieve them shortly of that troublesome hero. On Bathory's 
death, the candidature of Theodore for the vacant throne was 
seriously discussed in Lithuania, where the orthodox were all 
in his favour. But the Moscovite deputies who attended the 
election Diet did not bring sufficient money with them for 
bribing purposes; and, in any case, there were three insuperable . 
obstacles to the election of a Moscovite, (i) the coronation at 
Cracow, (2) the precedence of the Polish royal title in the act 
of homage, and (3) the conversion to Catholicism. The Mos- 
covites succeeded, however, in renewing the Polish truce, for 
fifteen years, with the new King Sigismund III, who, at the 
beginning of his reign, was too much harassed by domestic 
rebels to be dangerous to Moscovy. 

With Sweden the new Moscovite government first concluded 
a truce for four years from December 1585, which, after an 
indecisive war, was converted into a definitive peace (May 18, 
1595), Moscovy retaining Carelia but relinquishing Narva. 
By the same treaty, free trade was established between the two 
countries ; and the Swedes undertook to allow doctors, artificers 
and master-mechanics to pass through their territories into 

With the other European powers Moscovy had still but 
little to do. Abroad she was generally regarded as simple and 

i6o Boris Godunov, 1584- 1 613 [ch. 

barbarous enough to be exploited, skilfully, by the shrewder 
and more pushing western nations. Thus, in 1594, the 
imperial envoy, Varkoch, induced Godunov to send to Prague 
a quantity of most precious pelts, valued at 400,000 rubles, 
the proceeds of which were ostensibly to be employed in hiring 
mercenaries for the grand league against the Turk, Moscovy 
getting nothing in return. In 1595, and again in 1597, 
Clement VIII sent the Slavonian Bishop, Komulei, to Moscow 
on a similar errand. In 1586, Queen Elizabeth, intent on 
obtaining the monopoly of the Russian trade for her subjects, 
addressed a very flattering letter to Godunov, through Richard 
Horsey, in which she called the Administrator " our most dear 
and loving cousin." Boris more than satisfied the expectations 
of his " dear cousin " by favouring the English merchants at 
the expense of their competitors. They were permitted to 
have their own "courts," or d^pdts, at Yaroslav, Vologda and 
Kholmogory, and were freed from the payment of the most 
usual tolls. In 1588, after Fletcher's embassy, they were even 
allowed to go through Russia to Persia and Bokhara, while the 
merchants of other lands were stopped short a hundred miles 
eastwards of Moscow. 

The Tatars, though no longer dangerous, still continued to 
be troublesome. In 1591 they came against Moscow, but 
were defeated at Tula, on which occasion all the Boyars con- 
cerned were extravagantly rewarded, Godunov receiving a 
mantle from the Tsar's shoulders and the new title of Sluga\ 
which was explained to be higher than that of Boyar. In 
1592, however, after a Tatar raid of unprecedented severity, 
the Khan was propitiated by rich gifts ; but the Moscovite 
government now refused to pay a regular tribute. 

Contemporaries justly and gratefully acknowledge that the 
thirteen years of the reign of Theodore I was a period of peace 
and prosperity. Godunov was an able administrator, and, 
whenever his personal interests were unconcerned, loved to 

^ Servant. 

ix] Reign of Theodore I i6i 

shew his care for the commonwealth and his hatred of evil 
doers. He had, moreover, diligent and astute coadjutors in 
the two dumnie dyaki^ or clerks of the council, the brothers 
Shchelkalov. The most salient phenomenon of the reign was 
the encroachment of the Tsardom upon the steppe in every 
direction. The fresh territory thus acquired was defended by 
a series of blockhouses, or fortified settlements, which gradually 
restricted the area of the Tatar raids. In this way Kursk, 
Voronezh, Byelogorod, Saratov, Tsaritsuin, and, in Siberia, 
Tyumen, Chulkov and Tobolsk (1587), sprang into existence. 
In 1584 Archangel was built and surrounded by wooden walls. 
In 1589, Astrakhan and, in 1596, Smolensk were provided with 
stone Kremls or citadels. In 1586, the White Town was built 
round Moscow, forming a third line of circumvallation. The 
army at this time consisted of 80,000 men, including 12,000 
stryeltsuiy or musketeers, and 300 foreign mercenaries. The 
chief duties of the troops were garrison-service and " bank- 
service," that is, the assembling on the banks of the Oka to 
protect Moscow against Tatar raids. 

It is in the reign of Theodore I that the Russian peasant 
was first bound to the soil. The vastness of the land and the 
paucity of its cultivators put the agricultural labourer at a 
premium. Every landed proprietor strove to get and keep as 
many peasants as possible ; and the larger and wealthier pro- 
prietors successfully tempted the peasants away from the smaller 
and poorer proprietors. But the State also suffered considerably 
from this transmigration. The very numerous class of smaller 
proprietors held their estates on military tenure. These 
Sluzhivuie lyudt, or serving people, as they were officially 
called, were obliged, in war time, on the first summons, to 
assemble in the nearest camp, "with men, horses and equip- 
ment." But, as they received no pay for their services and 
lived entirely on the produce of their estates, the want of 
adequate peasant labour meant the ruin of their estates and 
their own consequent inability to perform military service. 

B. II 

1 62 Boris Godunov, 1584-16 13 [cif. 

The same difficulty had already arisen in Poland where such 
enticing away of peasants was made a penal offence. In 
Moscovy the Government tried to meet the difficulty by 
binding the peasant to the soil. By the Ukase of 1597 it was 
decreed that fugitive peasants could be pursued and reclaimed 
within five years after their flight or abduction. 

The most important ecclesiastical event of this period was 
the elevation of the metropolitan see of Moscow to the dignity 
of a Patriarchate. After the fall of Constantinople there was 
a general wish among the Moscovites for an autocephalous 
church of their own. Many even opined that unity with the 
enslaved oriental churches might be injurious to orthodoxy. 
This wish grew stronger still when the Jesuits began their 
propaganda in Lithuania, and reproached the orthodox with 
being spiritually the subjects of the Turkish Sultan, who 
regularly sold the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate to the 
highest bidder. A separate Patriarchate would also be advan- 
tageous to Moscovy politically by giving her the preeminence 
over the more ancient orthodox metropolitan see of Kiev, 
then under Poland. The wish was gratified when Jeremiah, 
Patriarch of Constantinople, visited Moscow, partly to collect 
alms, partly to visit the orthodox churches of the North. 
After several interviews with Godunov and the Shchelkalovs, 
he proposed to transfer the Constantinople Patriarchate bodily 
to Moscow. But his ignorance of Russian, the usefulness of 
the Metropolitan Job to Godunov — to say nothing of the 
strong patriotic sentiments of the Moscovites, who disliked 
the supersession of their own arch-pastor by a foreigner — were 
so many insuperable objections to this proposal. After six 
months of discussion and hesitation, Jeremiah consecrated 
Job first Patriarch of Moscow (Jan. 26, 1589), though it was 
not till June 1591 that the Metropolitan of Tirnova brought to 
Moscow the confirmatory epistle from Constantinople. 

The century was now running out ; and with it disappeared 
the ancient dynasty of the Ruriks. Godunov had raised him- 

ix] Murder of the true Demetrius 163 

self to power on the ruins of the more illustrious but less 
intelligent princely families. He had maintained his supremacy 
by making himself the mouth-piece and the right-hand of the 
^^zx faineant \ but the future was uncertain, and the higher he 
rose the more terrible was the prospect of a fall. Theodore 
had no son through whom Godunov might continue to rule; 
and the rightful heir to the throne was the child Demetrius, 
Theodore's half-brother, from whom, or, rather, from whose 
relatives, Godunov had nothing good to expect. It is m- 
telligible with what feelings the Nagais would regard the author 
of their long disgrace ; and they took no pains to conceal their 
resentment. Not only Godunov but all who owed their 
advancement to him, and they were many, were equally 
apprehensive of a future which would bring Demetrius to the 
throne. Suddenly, in May 1591, the tidings reached Moscow 
that the young Demetrius was no more. The affair is still 
somewhat of a mystery, but, according to the contemporary 
lyetopis (and the best critics agree that there is no valid 
reason for doubting Its simple and straightforward testimony), 
what actually happened was this. After an unsuccessful 
attempt to poison the lad, Godunov's emissaries were sent to 
Uglich to take over the government of the town. The Tsaritsa 
Martha, suspecting their motives, kept strict watch over her 
son ; but his nurse, who was in the conspiracy, took him one 
day into the outer courtyard, and, while at play there, he was 
murdered by two of Godunov's emissaries, who, along with 
eleven accomplices, were immediately afterwards killed by a 
crowd of people attracted to the spot by the alarm given by 
a bell-ringer of a neighbouring church, who had witnessed the 
crime. The child's body was interred in the church of the 
Transfiguration; and Godunov was duly informed what had 
happened. He at once told the Tsar that Demetrius had 
mortally wounded himself in an epileptic fit; and Prince Vasily 
Shuiski, whom Godunov had sent to Uglich to suborn wit- 
nesses in support of the epilepsy theory, confirmed this 

II — 2 

164 Boris Godunov, 1584-1613 [ch. 

statement The Nagais were then haled to Moscow, brow- 
beaten and tortured ; an ostentatiously elaborate enquiry was 
opened at which all evidence in any way likely to conflict with 
the official theory of suicide was suppressed or ignored ; and 
the Patriarch Job, as President of the tribunal of investigation, 
declared that Demetrius had died by the visitation of God, 
and that the Nagais were guilty of treason for killing the 
Administrator's emissaries. The Nagais were punished by 
mutilation and banishment; the Tsaritsa Martha was forced 
to take the veil ; the inhabitants of Uglich, as the abettors of 
the Nagais, were transferred bodily to the new Siberian town 
of Pelim ; and Uglich itself gradually relapsed into the 
surrounding wilderness. 

The Tribunal had publicly condemned the Nagais, but the 
Russian nation secretly condemned Godunov. Henceforth 
he was thought capable of any infamy, so that when Tsar 
Theodore died a natural death, on January 7, 1598, it was the 
general opinion that Boris had removed him by poison. 

Ever since Tsar Ivan III had declared, "to whom I will, 
to him will I give the realm," none had disputed the right of 
the Moscovite Tsars to dispose of their throne. But Theodore 
had made no sign ; his Tsaritsa Irene, a capable woman whom 
many considered to be the lawful Regent, had, nine days after 
Theodore's death, retired into the Novodyevichy Monastery; 
and the Patriarch, as the highest dignitary in the land, took 
over the administration provisionally. But who then was to be 
Tsar ? The chances were in favour of Godunov. His prosper- 
ous administration during the last thirteen years was the most 
convincing proof of his capacity for ruling ; the Patriarch was 
his friend ; and the whole official class were his creatures. On 
the other hand, he had powerful enemies among the Boyars, who 
hated him as an upstart. When first his sister Irene and the 
Patriarch united to beg him to accept the crown, he refused 
it, with ostentatious humility and tears. On being pressed, he 
declared that only the choice of the whole land, duly expressed 

ix] Boris elected Tsar 165 

by its representatives, could induce him to accept " so sublime 
an office." This, no doubt, was prudent, for, in the circum- 
stances, only the free and deliberate choice of the whole land 
could give him an adequate guarantee for the future security of 
himself and his family. Accordingly, forty days after Theodore's 
death, a national assembly, representing every class and district 
in the Tsardom, was summoned to Moscow. The assembly, 
consisting of 474 persons, met on February 17; and, on the 
proposal of the Patriarch, Boris was unanimously elected Gosu- 
dar. The Boyars would have imposed some limitations upon him, 
but they were overawed by an immense concourse of people 
which, under violent official and clerical pressure, proceeded to 
the Novodyevichy Monastery, where Boris occupied a modest 
cell near his sister's, and implored him to accept the throne. 
Twice he refused, with protests of unworthiness, flinging 
himself down before the sacred ikons and wetting the ground 
with his tears. But, when the Patriarch, obviously playing 
a preconcerted part, finally threatened him with excommunica- 
tion, Godunov piously "submitted to the divine will," and 
(April 30) took up his residence in the Kreml. With the same 
histrionic by-play, he postponed his coronation till he had 
given an audience to a Tatar embassy in the plains before 
Moscow. He went out to meet them escorted by 70,000 men, 
whom he fed every day at his table; and the Tatars had to 
traverse seven versts, lined on both sides by troops of all arms, till, 
alarmed and humbled, they were admitted " to the presence." 
Boris then made his state entry into Moscow with as much 
pomp and circumstance as if he had conquered kingdoms. On 
September i, the Moscovite New Year's Day, he was solemnly 
crowned Tsar of all Russia. 

Boris Godunov had grown up in an unhealthy, enfeebling, 
moral atmosphere. He had attained to his boyardom in the 
second, evil, half of the reign of Ivan the Terrible, when constant 
circumspection and absolute obsequiousness were the conditions 
of existence at the Tsarish Court. Ivan's morbid suspicious- 

1 66 Boris Godunov, 1584-16 13 [ch. 

ness naturally infected those of his servants who were 
pre-disposed to the same malady ; and Godunov, for one, was 
never able to free himself from the pernicious influence of his 
early environment. He was, certainly, a clever, far-seeing man. 
He was more fitted, perhaps, than any of his contemporaries 
to rule Moscovy. None recognised her needs so well as he ; 
and in this respect also he was Ivan's best pupil. He was, 
f^wdes, a well-meaning, good-natured man, anything but cruel ; 
fnit he had none of that magnanimity, that elevation of 
(hiktSkvXcTf which one naturally expects in the founder of a new 
dyna<;ty, in the elect of a whole nation. Instead of leaning, 
U.iifU:%%\y and securely, on the people who had unanimously 
fii\^Au\ hirri to the throne, he saw in everyone around him an 
*zw:tny to be conciliated or removed. Hence his extravagant 
If^ftuincH and his still more extravagant largesses. He was, 
|N;rhaf>H, the most craven monarch of old Moscovy, though that 
i« wtying a great deal; and the constant exhibition of his 
cr^wardice, by encouraging his enemies, did more than anything 
cl»e to undermine what was, originally, a very strong position. 

']*he Htate of foreign affairs on the accession of Boris was 
most favourable to Moscovy. The very two Powers, Poland 
and Sweden, whose union under one King had lately seemed 
so menacing, were now at war with each other in consequence 
of that very union. It was therefore possible for the Tsar's 
government in 1601 to obtain a renewal of the existing truce 
with Poland for 2 1 years. Indeed, Livonia might now have been 
easily recovered, with the willing assistance of Sweden, but for the 
indecision of Boris, his fear of warfare, and his suspiciousness 
of all his generals. Yet, like Ivan IV, he fully recognised the 
importance of Livonia, and thought of making it a vassal State 
under Prince Gustavus, the son of Eric XIV, whom he enter- 
tained for a time at his court, and would have married to his 
daughter Xenia but for Gustavus' refusal to abandon the 
Protestant faith. 

The internal administration was tranquil and enlightened. 

ix] Boris as Tsar 167 

Boris took especial interest in the colonisation of Siberia, and 
saw to it that the aborigines were not over-taxed or otherwise 
oppressed. He also did something for the Russian peasants, 
by fixing the amount of labour, or its money equivalent, due by 
them to their masters, and by allowing peasants to flit from one 
small proprietor to another small proprietor, if maltreated, on 
St George's Day, in each year (Ukases of 160 1 and 1602). He 
was also the first Tsar to send young Russians to the West to 
learn arts and languages, and he greatly encouraged the immi- 
gration of skilled artisans and learned men, especially doctors. 
He himself had no fewer than six foreign physicians, whom he 
treated like princes. The same excessive care for his personal 
safety induced him never to leave Moscow, if only for a day, 
without an escort of at least 18,000 musketeers. He kept 
more foreign mercenaries than any of his predecessors; and his 
bodyguard was composed entirely of Livonians. The' great 
influx of foreigners, during his reign, was not without its 
influence on the social habits of the people ; and it is now that 
we first hear of the clipping of beards and the adoption of western 
modes in clothes, to the lively scandal of the more orthodox. 

At first Boris was extremely popular, but his unconquerable 
suspiciousness was constantly in his way. As the old chronicle 
quaintly says : " The devil put it into the heart of Tsar Boris to 
know everything that was going on in the realm of Moscovy." 
He was suspicious of every sound, of every movement. 
Hundreds of delators flocked to his court daily. Men of every 
degree of rank brought each other's evil report to him. 
Fathers accused their sons, husbands their wives, wives their 
husbands. The most eminent families were naturally the most 
defamed. None stood higher than the Romanovs; and the 
Romanovs were now accused of placing bags full of magical 
and poisonous herbs in the Tsar's wardrobe. This was 
sufficient to bring about the ruin and banishment of the whole 
family, whose principal member, Theodore Nikitevich Romanov, 
was forced to take the monkish hood under the name of 

1 68 Boris Godunov, 1584-16 13 [ch. 

Philaret (June, 1601). The chief members of the next most 
eminent family, the Shuiskies, were forbidden to marry, lest the 
possession of progeny should awaken in them ambitious 

But this distrustfulness was not peculiar to Boris, it was the 
salient feature of Moscovite society at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century. Never had public morality in M'oscovy 
sunk so low. The universal disregard of all social duties 
and obligations, the universal endeavour to suck the utmost 
advantage out of the weakness and distress of one's neighbours, 
did not tend to mutual confidence. Everywhere the welfare of 
the Commonwealth was subordinated to personal interests. 
Everywhere there were ominous symptoms of unrest among 
the anti-social elements of the population, not only among the 
Cossacks of the Steppe but among those moral Cossacks who, 
in every society, prefer to live at the expense of the prosperous 
and the industrious, and whose interest it is to encourage and 
prolong disorder. The terrible natural calamities of the years 
1 601-1603, t>y increasing the popular misery tenfold, fostered 
still further these anarchical tendencies. For three years 
running there was a total failure of the crops, with its 
inevitable consequences, plague, pestilence and famine. The 
starving people ate grass in summer and straw in winter like 
cattle. In the later stages of the visitation, parents ate their 
children, children their parents; and human flesh was exhibited 
for sale as "beef" in the market places. The Tsar did his 
duty nobly on this occasion. His mercy and benevolence 
abounded and overflowed. Corn was collected from all parts 
of Russia and sold at Moscow at half price ; work was found 
for the myriads who flocked to the capital and were set to 
build new stone houses in place' of the old wooden ones ; every 
day he fed tens of thousands from his own table. But even 
these liberalities do not seem to have increased his popularity, 
while his personal enemies put them down to fear of a popular 
rising. Yet the enemies of Boris were even more craven than 

ix] The first false Demetrius 169 

he. They wished to overthrow him without seeming to have 
a hand in it. What they looked for was a pretender strong 
enough to overthrow Boris, but insignificant enough to be cast 
aside at the right moment. Nor had they long to wait for such 
a pretender. 

In the course of 1603, a Moscovite fugitive, calling himself 
the Tsarevich Demetrius Ivanovich, appeared at the Court of 
the Lithuanian magnate Prince Adam Wisniowiecki. His 
pretensions were taken for granted ; he received royal honours 
wherever he went, and, finally, settled down at the comfortable 
mansion of Pan Yury Mniszek, Palatine of Sandomir, to whose 
eldest daughter Mariana, or Marina, he was speedily betrothed, 
on condition that he first accepted the Catholic faith. The 
much enamoured suitor at once complied with this request. 
His conversion was duly accomplished by the Franciscans ; and 
the Pretender to the throne of Moscovy was received into the 
bosom of the Catholic Church by Cardinal Rangoni, the papal 
Nuncio at Cracow, and straightway adopted a Jesuit confessor. 
In the beginning of 1604 he came to Cracow to be presented 
to King Sigismund III. Outwardly he was not at all 
attractive. He was an awkward loutish fellow, with a round 
common face covered with warts, very red hair and small light 
blue eyes. Most of the Polish dignitaries looked askance at 
him. Zamoyski compared him with the low comic rascals in 
the plays of Plautus and Terence. The King adopted a middle 
course. Willing enough to use the Pretender as a means of 
disturbing Moscovy, yet uncertain what to make of him, 
Sigismund privately acknowledged him as the Tsarevich Deme- 
trius, and allowed him a pension, but refused to support him 
publicly. Yury Mniszek, a man as low in character as he was 
high in rank, then took up the cause of his future son-in-law as 
a private speculation. He undertook to place the Pseudo- 
Demetrius on the throne of Moscovy in return for one million 
Polish gulden, the principalities of Smolensk and Severia for 
himself, and the provinces of Pskov and Great Novgorod for 

I/O Boris Godunov, 1584-1613 [cH. 

his daughter as her private appanages. A contract to this 
effect was duly signed by the Pretender, on May 25, 1604; and 
Mniszek began to make the necessary preparations for putting 
the **Tsarevich " in possession of his patrimony. 

But who then was this Pseudo-Demetrius ? Of the many 
conflicting theories concerning him we need only consider 
three: (i) he was set up by King Sigismund and the Polish 
Government; (2) he was the instrument of the Polish Jesuits, 
and (3) he was the tool of Tsar Boris's enemies in Moscovy. 
The strongest arguments against the first theory are Sigismund's 
genuine surprise and hesitation when the impostor first 
appeared, and his anxiety to get rid of him. Moreover, 
Sigismund had no particular interest in precipitating from the 
Moscovite throne so pacific and accommodating a Tsar as Boris. 
The second view is equally unsubstantial. In the first place, it 
was the Franciscans, not the Jesuits, who converted the Pseudo- 
Demetrius. In the second place, a pupil and tool of the 
Jesuits would certainly have issued from their hands with some 
knowledge of western culture, or, at least, with an excellent know- 
ledge of Latin, whereas the Pretender scarce knew the rudiments 
of that language, and could not spell the simplest Latin words. 
It is quite true that the Jesuits subsequently adopted him 
with enthusiasm, but it is equally true that they had never seen 
him before he suddenly plumped down among them as if from 
the sky. The third view, on the other hand, stands in no need 
of a posteriori hypotheses. We know that the. first Pseudo- 
Demetrius was a Great-Russian, highly educated for his times, 
and speaking and writing his native language fluently and even 
eloquently. We know that the first person who pretended to 
recognise him as the Tsarevich was the fugitive Moscovite 
Petrovsky, a mortal enemy of Tsar Boris,' and therefore 
interested in raising up rivals against him.'' We know that 
Boris himself, always uncommonly well informed, regarded the 
Pseudo- Demetrius as the tool of the malcontent Boyars. 
Further, all the Moscovite chroniclers, without exception, 

ix] Who was the first false Demetrius ? 171 

maintain that the first Pseudo-Demetrius was a certain person 
well known at Moscow; and it would be extremely difficult 
to shake their testimony. Comparing,^ then, all the existing 
accounts of the Pretender, and omitting obvious inaccuracies, 
we arrive at the following conclusion. 

The first Pseudo-Demetrius was one Gregory Otrepev, the 
son of a small Russian squire, Bogdan Otrepev, who met an 
untimely death in a brawl in the German Settlement at Moscow. 
The young Gregory grew up, apparently, as a servitor in one or 
more of the great Boyar families of the capital. His patrons, 
struck by the lad's bright intelligence and frank fearlessness, 
seem to have conceived the idea of using him for their political 
purposes, and brought him up in the belief that he was the 
Tsareyich Demetrius. In no other way can we account for the 
extraordinary but indisputable fact that Otrepev always believed 
himself to be what he professed to be. The alternative hypo- 
thesis — that he deliberately made of his whole life a lie incarnate 
— presupposes him to have been a monster of iniquity, whereas, 
as a matter of fact, he was a man of so upright and noble a 
character that, if virtue were the best title to a throne, none so 
well deserved the throne of Moscovy as the first False-Demetrius. 
Anyhow, he does not seem to have CQncealed his aspirations, 
and was obliged to flee from Moscow to escape from the 
clutches of the ever-suspicious Boris. For the next few years 
he led a vagabond life, entered religion, frequented numerous 
monasteries, where he picked up some Polish and a very 
little Latin, and finally rejected his monkish habit when he 
thought that the time for his manifestation had come. 

In October 1604 the Pseudo-Demetrius crossed the 
Moscovite border at the head of 1600 mercenaries and 2000 
Don Cossack volunteers. On November 18, by which time his 
army had swollen to 16,000 men, he defeated the Moscovite 
host, 50,000 strong, at Novgorod Syeversk. By the beginning 
of December, he was recognised as Tsar for 600 versts east- 
wards of the Polish frontier. But now came bad news from 

172 Boris GodunoVy 1584-16 13 [ch. 

Poland. The Sejm protested vehemently against the whole ex- 
pedition, and recalled Mniszek; and Otrepev was left alone with 
his Cossacks. Nevertheless, at Dobruinchui, January 21, 1605, 
he gallantly attacked the enormous Moscovite army, which had 
been steadily reinforced since the battle of Novgorod Syeversk, 
but was badly beaten and shut himself up in Putivl the capital 
of Severia- But the Tsar's troops did not follow up their 
advantage; and when, after extravagantly rewarding their 
modest success, Boris ventured to protest against their cowardly 
inaction, they threatened to go over to the Pretender. Boris, 
too cowardly to trust himself in his own camp, sent a German 
to Putivl to remove the Pseudo-Demetrius by poison ; but the 
emissary revealed the plot, and immediately afterwards, the 
news reached Putivl of the sudden death of Boris himself On 
April 13, as he was rising from table, blood gushed from his 
mouth, nose and ears, and he died two hours afterwards in 
great agony. His son Theodore, a promising youth whom his 
contemporaries describe as " wiser than many grey beards, inas- 
much as he was well versed in philosophy and in all bookish 
arts'," was thereupon proclaimed Tsar, under the title of 
Theodore II; and a strongly worded, proclamation was issued 
denouncing the Pseudo-Demetrius as an impostor. 

The reign of Theodore II lasted seven weeks. The generals 
appointed by the new government, regarding the cause of the 
Godunovs as hopeless, persuiaded the army to revolt. The 
chief Boyars followed their example. When, on May 19, they 
did homage to the Pseudo-Demetrius in his camp at Orel, they 
at once recognised him as the monk Otrepev ; but it was too late 
to go back now. On June i the Pretender's envoys, Vasily 
Golitsuin and Vasily Shuisky, arrived at Moscow, and announced 
to the people, assembled in the Red Square, that Demetrius 
Ivanovich had miraculously escaped from his murderers at 
Uglich and was already at the gates of Moscow. The people, 
agitated but unconvinced, thereupon asked Vasily Shuisky, 
^ He was the author of the first map of Russia. 

ix] The false Demetrius proclaimed Tsar 173 

who had actually seen the real Demetrius buried and had 
solemnly testified to the fact more than once, whether these 
later tidings were true. Shuisky declared that the real 
Demetrius had escaped from Uglich, and that the son of a 
priest had been buried in his stead. The mob, egged on by 
the envoys, then hastened to the Kreml, the gates of which had, 
treacherously, been left open. The young Tsar, who stoutly 
resisted, was literally torn to pieces. His chief supporter, the 
Patriarch Job, was deposed, and shut up in a monastery. 

The Pretender, who was not responsible for these outrages, 
made his triumphal entry into Moscow on June 20, 1605. The 
very same day, the perjured Shuisky secretly circulated among 
the people a rumour that he was an impostor after all. Shuisky's 
villainy was detected and reported to the new Tsar ; and, after 
a fair trial before the Council, the treacherous Boyar was 
condemned to death but reprieved on the very scaffold. On 
June 24 the Pseudo-Demetrius was officially^ proclaimed Tsar by 
the new Patriarch Ignatius. On July 30 he was solemnly 
crowned. The Tsaritsa Martha, the mother of the real 
Demetrius, brought to Moscow for the purpose, had already 
identified him as her son. This she did from fear, for the 
Pseudo-Demetrius had at once and completely won the hearts 
of the Russian people. All his measures were liberal, humane 
and conciliatory. The Nagai, the real Demetrius's kinsfolk, 
were reinstated at Court. Philaret Romanov was released from 
prison and made metropolitan of Rostov. The plebeian clerks 
of the Council, the Shchelkalovs, Godunov's ablest ministers, 
were retained and, to the general astonishment, ennobled — an 
unprecedented promotion. The diligence of the new Tsar was 
exemplary. He presided over the Council every day, and, 
after listening for hours, with an indulgent smile, to the 
interminable and unprofitable debates of the Boyars, would, in 
a few moments, unravel and elucidate the most complicated 
questions. Sometimes he gently reproached the Boyars with 
their ignorance. "I must send you abroad to learn things," he 

174 Boris Godunov^ 1 584-1 613 [ch. 

would say. He attended to all petitions personally. When 
his friends the Poles warned him to beware of suspicious 
characters, he replied : " There are two ways of ruling subjects, 
by tormenting or by encouraging them : I prefer the latter 
way." It is true that his retention of Godunov's Livonian 
bodyguard, his pronounced partiality for foreigners, his dislike 
of strict etiquette, and his rejection of all unnecessary pomps, 
produced some murmuring among the upper classes. But the 
common people excused such eccentricities on the score of 
youth. Even his public profession of Catholicism did not 
materially detract from his popularity, though here he 
obviously stood on very dangerous ground. 

Perhaps nothing demonstrates so clearly the intellectual 
superiority of the first False-Demetrius as his wide religious 
outlook. Partly from personal motives, partly from calculation, 
he had accepted the Roman Faith ; but of his attachment to 
Orthodoxy there can be no doubt. It is clear, from all his 
actions, that he regarded Catholicism and Orthodoxy as very 
much the same thing; and he seriously believed that the surest 
way out of his difficulties was to bring about a reunion of the 
Churches. He frequently expressed his belief in the possibility 
of another General Council; and, when asked by one of the 
• Boyars whether he intended to build a church for his Polish 
friends in Moscow, he at once replied : " Why not ? Are they 
not Christians too, and have they not rendered me loyal 
service?" The Papal Court had great hopes of him. In 
response to the letter of congratulation which he sent to Paul V 
on his election, the Pope declared that Demetrius had been 
fore-ordained to convert to the true faith the great Russian 
nation, hitherto lying in darkness and the shadow of death, 
and knowing his desire for the imperial title addressed him as : 
" Serenissimus et inviciissimus tnonarcha^ Cesar ac Magnus Dux 
totius Russiae^ etc,^^ It was the Pope, too, who, at the urgent 
solicitation of Demetrius, commanded Yury Mniszek and Marina 
to proceed to Moscow without further delay. When, however, 

ix] Murder of Tsar Demetrius 175 

Demetrius begged that his bride-elect might be permitted to 
conform outwardly to the Orthodox religion, the Holy Father 
was inexorable. The Mniszscy arrived at Moscow on May 2, 
1606. On May 8, Marina was espoused to Demetrius and 
crowned Empress, with great pomp and ceremony, according to 
the old Russian custom. Ten days later, Demetrius was no 
more. At the very time when, full of enthusiasm, he was 
preparing to participate, on a grand scale, in a general league 
against the Turks, Vasily Shuisky, whose life he had so 
generously spared a few months before, was intriguing to 
overthrow him. The conspiracy, with the connivance of 
Sigismund III, who was irritated by the spirited refusal of 
Demetrius to purchase the help of Poland by large cessions of 
Moscovite territory, had begun long before the wedding ; and 
the arrival at Moscow of the Novgorod^ and Pskov divisions of 
the army, on its way to the Crimea, encouraged the conspirators 
to take the decisive step. Demetrius by his utter unsuspicious- 
ness played into their hands. Well aware of the devotion of 
the stryeltsui and of the great majority of the population of 
Moscow, to say nothing of the Poles and Livonians, he dis- 
regarded repeated warnings, and took no extra precautions. 
At midnight- on May 18, Shuisky assembled his partisans in 
the Red Square. He solemnly assured them that the Tsar 
was an impostor, and in league with Poland to enslave their 
country and destroy their holy orthodox faith. Then, at the 
preconcerted signal, the pealing of the bell of St Elias, they 
burst into the Kreml, overwhelmed the thirty halbardiers on 
guard, and brutally murdered the Tsar (who might have 
escaped but for his solicitude for his wife^) flinging the battered, 
mutilated, corpse into the Red Square. The remainder of the 
night was passed in attacking the Poles in Moscow who, taken 

^ Great Novgorod had for generations been devoted to the Shuisky 

2 Marina, a thin little woman, escaped by hiding under the robes of her 
burly Hofmeisterinn. 

176 Boris GodunoVy 1584-1613 [ch. 

unawares, were massacred to the number of 2000. At 6 o'clock 
the following morning (May 19, 1606) Shuisky was proclaimed 
and, on June 6, crowned Tsar, under the title of Vasily V. 

The new Tsar was neither the elect of the nation, like 
Godunov, nor even the elect of the capital, as Otrepev had 
been. He was but the puppet of a mob of conspirators 
hastily assembled in the Red Square at Moscow.- In the 
provinces he was unknown. It was in vain that he issued 
manifestoes proclaiming that Demetrius was an impostor who 
had seized the throne by devilish arts; the provincials were 
only perplexed by what they heard. What were they to make 
of the latest news from Moscow? The late Tsar had been 
solemnly declared to be the true Demetrius, and now he was 
described as an impostor. Which report was true ? And was 
Demetrius really dead ? Was there, indeed, a new Tsar ? and 
if so, whence had he sprung and who had chosen him ? The 
whole affair was so mysterious that the provincials became 
incredulous and, still worse, began to lose their old belief and 
confidence in Moscow. "And so,^' as the contemporary 
lyetopis puts it, "the whole realm became dark with the 
darkness of the Father of lies." Vasily's peculiar vices tended - 
to increase the general confusion. He was a near-sighted, 
nervous, little old man, very shrewd and very stingy, a firm 
believer in magic, averse from action and with his ears ever 
open to spies and delators. As if his authority was not already 
sufficiently limited by his character, he proceeded to limit it 
still further by swearing to punish nobody without the consent 
of his Council. At the same time he foolishly alienated his 
own partisans by withholding from them the promised re- 
wards for their services, although they knew him to be very 

In these circumstances, a fresh crop of pretenders was only 
a matter of time. As early as May 17, Michael Molchanov, 
one of the murderers of Theodore II, had suddenly appeared 
on the Lithuanian frontier and proclaimed himself to be 

ix] Vastly Vy Shuisky 177 

Demetrius, who, he said, had escaped from his murderers. 
His statement was confirmed by Gregory Shako vsky, Vasily's 
own voevoda^ who had left Moscow with the great seal in his 
pocket ; and all Severia declared at once in favour of this second 
False-DeroetriuSv Shuisky countered the blow by ordering the 
remains of the real Demetrius to be exhumed at Uglich and 
reinterred in the Archangel Cathedral at Moscow. But by 
this time the insurrection had spread throughout the southern 
provinces. Even the sudden disappearance of the second 
Pseudo-Demetrius made no difference. A Cossack claiming 
to be Peter, a purely imaginary son of Theodore I, was set up 
by Shakovsky; and the Pseudo-Peter's ablest general, an enter- 
prising ex-galley slave named Bolotnikov, gained several 
victories over the Tsarish troops and advanced against Moscow. 
As, however, he proclaimed, and practised en route, a war of 
extermination against the upper classes, the Boyars of Moscow, 
despite their contempt for Shuisky, resolved to put up with 
him as the lesser of two evils. Shuisky's one trustworthy 
general, his own cousin. Prince Michael Skopin-Shuisky, was 
accordingly sent against Bolotnikov, whom he defeated 
(December 2, 1606), and drove back to Kaluga. In the 
beginning of 1607, after an unsuccessful attempt to poison 
Bolotnikov, Shuisky was forced to take the field against him 
with 100,000 men. He defeated the rebels on the banks of the 
Vosina, and shut them up in Tula, which surrendered a few 
weeks later, when both the Pseudo-Peter and Bolotnikov were 

No sooner, however, had Shuisky returned to Moscow than 
a still more formidable rebellion broke out against him, headed 
by a third Pseudo-Demetrius, a man of infamous character, but 
some ability, whose real name seems to have been Gabriel 
Verevkin. From the fact that he could read and write, and 
was learned in the Scriptures, he was, most probably, an 
unfrocked priest, or monk. He first appeared at Starodub, 
and was quickly joined by 18,000 Polish adventurers, the 
B. 12 

178 Boris GodunoVy 1584-16 13 [ch. 

remains of Zebrzydowski^s dissipated Rokosz^^ 28,000 Cossacks 
eager for pillage, and the scum of the population generally. 
After defeating the Tsar's army at Bolkhov (May 10 and 11, 
1606), he established himself, permanently, in a vast entrenched 
camp at Tushino, near Moscow, whence he derived the epithet 
by which he is generally known — "the Thief of Tushino." 
The Mniszek family were the most zealous supporters in Poland 
of the new Pretender ; and the widowed Marina was induced to 
recognise him as her husband and live with him at Tushino*, 
taking the precaution, however, of being remarried by her 
Jesuit confessor. Pskov also declared for the new Pretender ; 
and Sapieha, the commander of his Polish allies, proceeded to 
besiege, happily in vain, the great Troitsa monastery, the most 
venerated sanctuary and the strongest fortress in Moscovy, 
which commanded the communications between the capital 
and the north-eastern provinces. 

By this time we have reached the darkest hour of that 
terrible period which Russian historians aptly call **the 
anarchy," when the Moscovite State actually passed through 
the initial stages of disintegration. The Tsardom had ceased 
to exist. Shuisky at Moscow and "the thief" at Tushino were 
the merest figure-heads. The former, helplessly shut up in 
the Kreml with some hundreds of Boyars who openly flaunted 
him, the latter trembling daily for his life amidst desperadoes 
who called him an impostor to his face and murdered each 
other with impunity before his very eyes, helplessly followed 
the course of events they were powerless to control. The real 
struggle was between the orderly and the disorderly elements of 
a society left to itself; between the predatory, vagabond, Cossack 
element and the landed and trading people who still had some- 
thing to live and work for. The geographical area of the 
predatory class was, roughly speaking, the western and southern 

1 See Chapter VIII. 

2 Her father had been bribed by the promise of 3,000,000 rubles and 
the province of Severia, on the success of the enterprise. 

ix] Disintegration of Moscovy 179 

Steppe lands, that of the industrious and propertied class the 
north and north-eastern forest land, where the larger and older 
cities predominated. But now the Steppe was invading what 
remained of civilisation and threatening to submerge it. In 
every direction the Cossacks and their Polish allies levied 
blackmail and spread devastation. Yet, by general consent, 
the foreigner was not the worst enemy. The love of looting or 
of adventure had brought the Poles into Moscovy. Money 
and women were what they chiefly looked for. They had no 
particular animosity against the Moscovites. They were 
merciful to their captives ; exacted moderate ransoms ; and 
regarded with wonder and horror the unspeakable cruelties 
inflicted by their Cossack allies on men of their own language 
and religion. The Cossacks, on the other hand, seemed to 
regard all non-Cossacks with a furious hatred which was satis- 
fied with nothing short of their extermination. It was they 
who kindled the torch of conflagration. It was they who 
desecrated the Churches, destroyed, or rendered uninhabitable, 
every human dwelling, and trampled beneath their horses' feet 
all the corn they could not carry away with them. It was due 
to them that half Moscovy was already a wilderness, in the 
deserted villages of which bears, foxes, wolves and hares roamed 
fearlessly, while men, women, and children sought a precarious 
refuge in the natural haunts of the wild beast, the forest and 
the swamp. 

Presently, to these horrors was superadded the scourge of 
two foreign invasions; for both Sweden and Poland now 
intervened forcibly in the affairs of Moscovy. The Swedes 
were brought in by Shuisky who, in February 1609, through 
his cousin Michael Skopin-Shuisky, concluded an alliance 
with them at Great Novgorod by the terms of which he ceded 
Karelia and renounced his claims to Livonia, in return for the 
paid services of 5000 troopers under Pontus de la Gardie, 
cooperating with Skopin's Russian contingent. The Swedes 
and Moscovites combined even obtained some victories over 

12 — 2 

i8o BoHs Godunov, 1584-1613 [ch. 

the Poles and Cossacks of " the Tushino thief." Sigismund III 
naturally could not regard with indifference the intrusion 
of Sweden in Moscovite affairs; but the Sejm limited his 
operations to the recapturing of the great fortress of Smolensk, 
the key of the Dnieperian district. Not the royal house but 
Poland only was to benefit by the war. It is, indeed, very 
doubtful whether Sigismund ever seriously entertained the 
subsequent project, emanating from Moscow, of placing his 
son, the Krolewicz^ Wladislaus, on the Moscovite throne. In 
the circumstances, such a project was unrealisable because the 
conflicting interests of Moscovy and Poland were absolutely 
irreconcilable. At the very least the Poles would have insisted, 
beforehand, on large cessions of Moscovite territory, to which 
the Moscovites would never have consented. Had Wladislaus, 
as Tsar, insisted on such cessions, he would doubtless have 
shared the fate of the first Demetrius. On the other hand, 
had Sigismund pressed the candidature of his son to the throne 
of Moscovy when circumstances seemed to favour him most, 
the Poles would, most certainly, have considered their particular 
interests neglected, and have excluded Wladislaus from the 
succession to the Polish throne. 

On September 21, 1609, Sigismund appeared before 
Smolensk with 17,000 Poles and 10,000 Cossacks. In his 
manifesto he declared that he had come not to shed blood but 
to pacify Moscovy. At the same time he wrote to Shuisky, 
reproaching him with the massacre of the Poles at Moscow 
and the conclusion of an alliance with his mortal foe " the Duke 
of Sudermania." He also summoned all the Poles at Tushino 
to join him before Smolensk. The ultimate effect of this 
summons was the break-up of the camp at Tushino (March 10, 
1 610). Most of the Poles joined Sigismund, most of the Boyars 
Shuisky, while the Cossacks followed " the Thief '' to Kaluga. 
The Polish Grand Hetman Zolkiewski now appeared on the 
scene and routed Shuisky's last army, 46,000 strong, at 
^ The Crown Prince of Poland. 

ix] Zolkiewski at Moscow i8i 

Klushino (June 23-24, 1610), the immediate consequence of 
which disaster was Shuisky's deposition (July 17). The majority 
of the Council of Boyars, which ruled Moscow provisionally, 
preferred Wladislaus to **the Thief" as a candidate for the 
throne. " We will not be ruled by our own slaves/' they said. 
At the invitation of this party, Zolkiewski marched to Moscow, 
while *'the Thief" approached the capital from the opposite 
direction. The frank and genial humour of the Grand Hetman 
soon endeared him greatly to the Boyars, and, on August 27, 
he actually persuaded them to render homage to him as the 
representative of the Krolewicz. Even when they insisted on 
the candidate's previous acceptation of orthodoxy, he induced 
them to submit that and every other point of dispute to the 
King at Smolensk. But the other principal towns of northern 
Russia, including Suzdal, Rostov, Vladimir, Yurev, alarmed for 
the future of orthodoxy, now began to open negotiations with 
the Pseudo-Demetrius, preferring even an orthodox impostor 
to a heretical Krolewicz. 

From the moment, indeed, of the proclamation of Wladis- 
laus as Tsar, the national movement in Moscovy assumed a 
religious character which was to traverse all the calculations of 
the politicians. Sigismund himself involuntarily gave impetus 
to this new movement. He sent word to Zolkiewski that the 
election of Wladislaus, on the Moscovite conditions, was 
impossible, for he meant to keep Moscovy for himself; and he 
ordered the Grand Hetman to explain his latest views to the 
Boyars. Zolkiewski did not even attempt to carry out these 
impossible instructions, the first effect of which would have 
been the destruction of himself and his little army. But he 
extricated himself from his extremely difficult position with 
consummate ability. First he persuaded the Boyars to send 
to Smolensk a grand deputation of 1246 distinguished persons, 
including Prince Golitsuin, one of the aspirants to the throne, 
and Philaret Romanov, Metropolitan of Rostov ; thereby getting 
rid of formidable opponents and at the same time placing 

1 82 Boris Godunov, 1584-1613 [ch. 

valuable hostages in Sigismund's hands. Next, working on the 
Boyars* fears of ** the Thief ^s " Cossack host, he induced them 
to admit the Poles into the Kreml, thus giving them the 
command of the capital (Sept. 20-21). But by this time his 
popularity was so great that the Moscovites were ready to do 
anything for him ; and, when he made a demonstration against 
the Cossack army, the premier Boyar of Moscovy, Prince 
Mstislavsky, with 10,000 Russians, actually followed the 
standard of the Polish Grand Hetman. When, shortly after- 
wards, he quitted Moscow, he took with him, as captives to 
swell his triumph, the ex-Tsar Vasily Shuisky and his brothers 
Demetrius and Ivan. His ablest lieutenant Gonsiewski, with 
a few thousand Poles, was left in charge of the Kreml. 

Meanwhile the grand deputation from Moscow was, on 
October 10, received in audience by Sigismund outside 
Smolensk. The Moscovites were willing enough to accept 
Wladislaus as their Tsar, but only on condition that he 
accepted and protected orthodoxy, excluded Catholicism from 
Moscovy, and came with a gift in his hand in the shape of 
all the Moscovite territory conquered by Sweden and Poland. 
Such terms it was impossible for Sigismund to accept without 
running the risk of losing his own crown. After months of 
futile wrangling, the members of the grand deputation were 
sent as hostages to Lithuania (April 12, 161 1); and Sigismund 
seriously took in hand the siege of Smolensk. On June 3, 161 1, 
a breach was made in the wall, and the fortress was taken by 
assault, after the garrison had been reduced from 80,000 to 8000. 
Smolensk, Sigismund's real object, was thus secured ; but the 
assassination of "the Thief of Tushino" (Dec. 11, 1610), by a 
vindictive Tatar, led to fresh complications. The Cossacks, 
under one Zarucki, adopted " the Thiefs " baby son Ivan, born 
shortly after his death, as their Tsarevich ; and, in conjunction 
with an independent patriotic army under Lyapunov, a gentle- 
man of Ryazan, moved towards Moscow to drive out the Poles. 
After a long and bitter struggle (March — May, 161 1), in the 

ix] The national religious movement 183 

course of which three quarters of Moscow were burnt, the Poles 
abandoned the city and retired within the Kreml ; but, shortly 
afterwards, the Cossacks murdered Lyapunov, whereupon the 
better people separated from the Cossacks and began to act for 
themselves. The initiative came, in October 16 ri, from the 
Troitsa monastery, whence the saintly and heroic archiman- 
drite Dionysius sent circular letters to all the chief towns 
of the Tsardom, exhorting them, as Orthodox Christians, to be 
mindful of the true Orthodox Christian faith, and stand firmly 
together, "against the eternal enemies of Christianity, the 
Poles and the Lithuanians. " *^ For God's sake, " concluded 
this appeal, "lay aside all your dissensions for a time, and strive, 
all together, to save the Christian faith. Be merciful brethren, 
and come and help us with money and fighting men ! " 

The letters from Troitsa could not but produce an effect. 
The wretchedness of the last five years had taught all men of good 
will the necessity of self-sacrifice. The failure of the politicians, 
the worthlessness of the pretenders, the mischievousness of 
foreign assistance, turned the thoughts of the serious and the 
patriotic away from temporal, external protection ; and, in the 
depths of their own hearts, they found that religious inspiration 
which, in the last resort, is alone capable of saving a sinking 
nation. From the first, this new movement was not so much 
political, or even national, as religious. " We are brethren and 
kinsmen because we have been baptised into the same holy 
faith" — such was the basis of the league of towns and 
monasteries which now began to collect money and soldiers 
for the defence of the faith. Nizhny Novgorod was the first 
town to respond to the appeal of Dionysius. Here the lead 
was taken by one of the Starostas, Kuzma Minin, a master 
butcher by trade. He publicly declared that the time had 
come to sacrifice everything " for the true orthodox faith," and 
he set the example by devoting one third of his property to 
the holy cause. He and 2500 of his friends and colleagues 
speedily collected 17,000 rubles; and a rich widow of the town 

184 Boris Godunov, 1584-1613 [cH. 

surrendered 10,000 rubles out of the 12,000 left her by her 
husband. But where were they to look for a leader ? Minin 
pronounced in favour of Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Pozharsky, 
who was recovering at Suzdal from the wounds he had received 
at the siege of Moscow. Pozharsky fearlessly accepted the 
perilous honour and was received with enthusiasm at Nizhny. 
Both he and Minin, whom he appointed treasurer, insisted 
on the absolute obedience of their followers. Pozharsky's first 
official act was to send out a circular to the other towns 
inviting their cooperation to drive out the foreigner. He 
refused to recognise either Wladislaus, or Marina's son Ivan, 
or a fourth Pseudo-Demetrius who had just appeared at Pskov. 
Thus his manifesto was directed as much against the Cossacks 
as against the Poles, and appealed from a portion of the nation 
to the nation at large. Kazan, out of jealousy of Nizhny, held 
aloof from the movement ; but representatives from most of 
the other free towns kept pouring in, bringing with them both 
money and soldiers. But the prevalent confusion could not be 
overcome in a moment. At the beginning of 1612 there were 
still three parties in Moscovy, Pozharsky's, the Wladislan 
Boyars in the Kreml, and the Cossacks under Zarucki who 
played for his own hand. In March, the Cossack host again 
advanced upon Moscow, while Pozharsky and Minin wrested 
Kostroma from the Wladislans, garrisoned Suzdal and fixed 
their temporary capital at Yaroslavl. The Patriarch Hermogen 
was starved to death by the philo-Poles at Moscow for blessing 
the bands of Pozharsky instead of cursing them; but his 
martyrdom strengthened the national cause. While still too 
weak to advance on Moscow, Pozharsky skilfully prevented the 
Swedes, who had now occupied Great Novgorod, from extend- 
ing their area of conquest by negotiating with them, ostensibly 
with the view of setting Gustavus Adolphus's younger brother 
Charles Philip on the Moscovite throne (May — July, 161 2). 
An attempt by the Cossacks to murder Pozharsky (July) 
determined him to proceed against the Co^sagk army, now 

ix] Minin and Pozharsky 185 

encamped before Moscow, as public enemies. Simultaneously, 
the famous Lithuanian Grand Hetman, Chodkiewicz, had 
safely piloted a lilliputian army of 2000 men, through 
hundreds of miles of wilderness, for the purpose of relieving the 
Polish garrison at the Kreml, and was now almost within 
striking distance. On August 18, Pozharsky reached the river 
Janza, near Moscow, which alone separated him from the 
Cossack host. On the 21st Chodkiewicz also appeared. On 
the 22 nd, he crossed the river and attacked Pozharsky, the 
Cossack host looking on without rendering their countrymen 
the slightest assistance. The Grand Hetman was finally re- 
pulsed, and all his subsequent determined efforts to reprovision 
the garrison (which by this time was reduced to feeding on 
human flesh, kept salted in barrels) were also frustrated. In 
mid-October, Pozharsky and Minin, with part of the Cossack 
army as well as their own, made a night attack on Chodkiewicz's 
camp. It was repulsed. But the Grand Hetman lost 500 men, 
one fourth of his effective strength, in the struggle, and early 
next morning he was in full retreat towards Mozhaisk. 
On October 22 the Polish garrison capitulated, and on 
November 22, Pozharsky and Minin made their triumphal 
entry into the capital. 

When the news reached Warsaw that things were going 
amiss in Moscovy, every one hastened to lay the blame upon 
the King, freely accusing him of carelessness, sluggishness and 
general incompetence. The Pans insisted that he should at 
once proceed to Moscow to set matters right, but nobody took 
the trouble to inform him where he was to find the means for 
raising an army for the purpose. Nevertheless, Sigismund, 
after incredible efforts and pledging his personal credit, man- 
aged to get together 3000 German mercenaries and with this 
little band set out to reconquer Moscovy. Then, for sheer 
shame, some 1200 of the Szlachta took horse and galloped 
after him, overtaking him at Vyazma, where the retreating 
Chodkiewicz also joined him, The combined forces, which 

1 86 Boris Godunov, 1584-1613 [ch. ix 

did not amount to a single modern army corps, then marched 
on Moscow ; but the city refused to listen to Sigismund, and he 
returned empty-handed to Poland. Not a single Moscovite 
fort had opened its gates to him ; not a single Moscovite had 
joined him. 

On hearing of the retreat of Sigismund, the Council of 
Boyars at Moscow sent out circulars summoning representatives 
of every class of the population to come to the capital to elect 
a native Gosudar. When sufficient deputies had arrived, a 
three days' fast was proclaimed. Every one agreed that a 
prince of a foreign house was undesirable, while the Polish and 
Swedish candidates were expressly excluded as robbers and 
truce-breakers. Discord and confusion only began when the 
names of the native candidates were brought forward. Various 
factions were formed, but none of them was strong enough to 
prevail against the others. At last, says the contemporary 
chronicle, a certain nobleman from Halich laid before the 
assembly a mandate to the effect that, as Michael Thedorovich 
Romanov was nearest by kinship to the ancient dynasty, he 
should be chosen Tsar. A Cossack Hetman thereupon pro- 
duced another, independent, mandate of the same purport. 
This decided the matter, and Michael was thereupon elected 
Tsar (Feb. 21, 1613). Then the senior prelate Theodoret, 
Archbishop of Riazan, the Kelar^ or lay administrator, of the 
Troitsa Monastery, Avram Palitsuin, and the Boyar Vasily 
Morozov, proceeded to the Red Square and enquired of the 
people thronging it whom ihey wished to be their Tsar? 
"Michael Thedorovich Romanov!" was the unanimous and 
enthusiastic reply. 


1613 — 1648. 

The possibility of such an election as that of Michael 
Romanov was an even more remarkable and encouraging fact 
than the election itself It was the symptom of awakening 
public spirit, the presage of a better order of things. The 
Moscovites had risen superior to all personal and local 
considerations, and, after purging the capital of foreign foes, 
had placed themselves, unreservedly, under an autocracy, as 
being the best conceivable government for themselves in the 
circumstances. Their choice, at such a time, of an inex- 
perienced youth of sixteen demonstrated that it was not so 
much the person of the monarch as the principle of monarchy 
for which they voted. It is not too much to say that the 
Renaissance of Russia dates from the quinquennium (1613- 
16 18) during which the great men of the realm devoted them- 
selves to the patriotic duty of guiding the footsteps of their 
young Gosudar, and rallying all the recuperative elements of 
the nation around the newly established throne. 

And now, having elected a Tsar, the next thing was to find 
him. Not till March 24, did the delegates of the Council 
discover the young Prince in the Spasovsky Monastery, near 
Kostroma, under the guardianship of his mother Martha 
Romanovna. At first, neither mother npr son would accept 
the gift of the Moscovite throne. Martha protested that her 

1 88 The first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

son was too young and tender for so difficult an office. From 
the third to the ninth hour, the Boyars entreated Michael to 
accept the throne; and he only yielded, at the last moment, 
when they solemnly declared that, if he persisted in his refusal, 
they would hold him responsible to God for the utter destruction 
of Moscovy. 

Michael may well be pardoned for his hesitation. Rarely 
has any European country been in such desperate straits as 
Russia was in 16 13. The Swedes occupied all her Baltic 
provinces, as well as Great Novgorod, her commercial 
metropolis. The Poles held Smolensk, which commanded 
her western provinces. In the extreme south-east the Cossack 
Zarucki was carving out a kingdom of his own on the Volga. 
Savage hordes of Tatars swarmed in every direction. Through- 
out the whole northern district of Archangel and Cholmogory 
all the churches had been profaned, all the cattle killed, all 
the villages burnt. Travellers entering Moscovy from the 
West had tales of equal terror to tell. They found every 
village between Reval and Novgorod destroyed; and, before 
they could shelter from the extreme cold in the ruined way-side 
huts, they had to empty them of corpses, often the terrible 
stench drove them back to the snow-drifts. But Tsar Michael 
had no need to be told of the misery of his people ; he could 
see it with his own eyes. Every day, on his journey from 
Kostroma to Moscow, he encountered hundreds of people of 
all classes robbed to the skin, bleeding, blinded, maimed, covered 
with bruises and sores. On reaching the Troitsa Monastery, 
some 75 versts from the capital, he refused to go any further till 
something had been done to stay this effusion of blood. Yet, 
in truth, it was not so much horror as penury which detained 
him. The Boyars could not provide suitable quarters for him 
at the Kreml, because the palaces there were without roofs or 
windows, and there was no money in the treasury to pay 
carpenters for repairing them. In his extremity, Michael was 
compelled to beg the wealthy Stroganovs to supply him with 

x] Tsar Michael Romanov 189 

money, corn, fish, salt, cloth, and all manner of wares, to pay, 
feed, and clothe his soldiers. At last (May 13), the Tsar was 
brought into Moscow by the entire male population, which had 
gone forth to meet him; and, on July 22, he was solemnly 
crowned, on which occasion the valiant master-butcher, Kuzma 
Minin, was ennobled. 

The first care of Michael and his council was to clear the 
land of robbers. The means for doing this were obtained by a 
general contribution in money and kind, collected with the 
utmost difficulty by agents accompanied by soldiers, and 
additionally fortified by the authority of the Church, which 
threatened the backward and the disobedient with excommuni- 
cation. The most dangerous and audacious of these native 
ruffians, the Cossack Zarucki, Pseudo-Demetrius V, who had 
set up a court of misrule at Astrakhan, was defeated and taken 
prisoner on June 27, 16 14, and impaled at Moscow. Three 
weeks later, a large Cossack host was routed and scattered on 
the banks of the Luzha, near Moscow. After this, the robber- 
bands, though they continued, for some years, to pillage the 
central and south-eastern provinces of Moscovy, ceased to be 
a peril to the State. 

The aliens had next to be got rid of, and it was determined 
to treat with the Swedes first. So hopeless did the prospects 
of Moscovy seem in 161 1, that Great Novgorod was willing to 
recognise Charles Philip, the younger brother of Gustavus 
Adolphus, as the Grand-Duke of a separate Russian State 
extending from the Baltic to the White Sea, and united with 
Sweden as Lithuania was with Poland. The election of 
Michael Romanov dispelled this dream of a Scandinavian 
empire. In June, 16 13, Alexis Zyuzin was sent to England 
to obtain the mediation of James I, who sent John Merrick 
to Moscovy for the purpose. The negotiations lasted, with 
frequent interruptions and perambulations, from January 14, 
1616, to March 10, 161 7, when a definitive treaty was signed 
at the now extinct town of Stolbovo, to the satisfaction of both 

IQO The first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

parties. At Moscow, "the surrender of a few places" even 
though they included Noteborg, the key of Finland, and three 
other fortresses in Ingria, was regarded as a trifling matter 
compared with the retrocession of Great Novgorod and the 
recognition of Michael as Tsar of Moscovy. 

Meanwhile, Moscovy was at open war with Poland. 
Negotiations opened in September, 161 5, under the mediation 
of the imperial ambassador, Gandeljus, had been broken off in 
January, 161 6, amidst fierce recriminations; the Moscovites 
refusing to accept the Krolewicz Wladislaus as Tsar, and the 
Poles as obstinately declining to recognise Michael Romanov. 
In April, 16 17, the Polish Diet voted supplies for one year 
only ; and the Krolewicz, with Chodkiewicz as his mentor, set 
forth " to conquer and incorporate Moscovy." Terror fell upon 
central Russia at his approach. Dorogobuzh opened its gates to 
him in September ; and in October he made his triumphal entry 
into Vyazma. Moscow was placed in a state of defence. The 
national hero, Prince Demetrius Pozharsky, was sent against 
the^ Krolewicz. After wintering at Vyazma, Wladislaus, 
contrary to the advice of Chodkiewicz, advanced against 
Moscow ; but his progress was retarded by the mutiny of his 
unpaid troops, the Sejm, with its usual fatal parsimony, having 
sent reinforcements without the still more necessary money and 
supplies. Nevertheless,- despite all the efforts of Pozharsky to 
prevent it, Wladislaus effected his junction, at the Oka, with 
the hetman Sahajdaczny, who had hurried to his help with 
20,000 registered Cossacks; and, on October 18, he made a 
night assault on Moscow which was repulsed with heavy loss 
to the Poles. Dread of the approaching winter, and the 
miserable condition of his half-clothed, half-starved and more 
than half-mutinous army, then compelled Wladislaus to open 
negotiations with the Moscovites, at the village of Deulino, 3 
versts from the Troitsa Monastery; and, after two months of 
wrangling, a truce of 14^ years was concluded, each party 
surrendering too much to consent to a definitive peace. The 

x] The Diarchy 191 

Poles provisionally recognised Michael as Tsar, while Michael 
surrendered to the Republic a large tract of his central province 
extending from Byelaya in the north to Chernigov in the south, 
both inclusive, with the fortresses and towns of Smolensk, 
Storodub and Novgorod-Syeversk, thus bringing the Polish 
frontier appreciably nearer to Moscow. 

The most important result of the truce of Deulino, as 
regards Moscovy, was the return from his nine years' exile in 
Poland, of the Tsar's father, Philaret Romanov, Metropolitan 
of Rostov. The tidings of his son's election was, at first, by 
no means welcome to him ; but, on returning to Moscow, he 
both gratified his own ambition and served his country by 
reigning conjointly with Michael. Ten days after his arrival 
(July 9), he was enthroned as Patriarch by Theophanes, 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the prelates of the Russian Church ; 
and henceforth, till his death, in 1633, the established govern- 
ment of Moscovy was a diarchy. In private letters, indeed, 
Philaret invariably addressed his son as **your majesty"; and 
the name of Michael preceded that of his father in all public 
documents. But they both bore the sovereign title of Gosudar ; 
foreign ambassadors presented their credentials to Tsar and 
Patriarch simultaneously; and Philaret frequently transacted 
important affairs of State without even consulting Michael. 

Naturally, the domination of the experienced and energetic 
Patriarch was deeply resented by the clique of courtiers who 
had hitherto been nearest to the young Tsar. But all who 
hated anarchy and loved good government welcomed the 
advent to power of an enlightened statesman who protected 
the weak against the tyranny of the strong and was gracious to 
all men of learning and ability, irrespective of birth or rank. 

The first care of the Patriarch was to secure the succession 
by getting the Tsar married. Philaret was bent upon raising 
the dignity of the new dynasty by securing a consort for his 
son from some sovereign house; and embassies were sent to 
Copenhagen and Stockholm for the purpose. But Christian IV 

192 The first Romanovs, 1 6 13-1648 [cH* 

of Denmark refused even to receive the Moscovite envoy; 
while Gustavus Adolphus, on hearing that his sister-in-law, 
Catherine of Brandenburg, the lady selected by Philaret, 
would first have to be re-baptised into the Orthodox Church, 
declared, with a bigotry not inferior to Philaret's, that the 
Princess should not sacrifice her souFs salvation even for the 
Tsardom of Moscovy. Finally the Tsar gave his hand to 
Eudoxia Stryeshnevaya, the daughter of a small squire, who 
thus became the matriarch of the imperial Romanovs. 

Philaret's administration must be judged rather by its 
intentions than its results. The dilapidation of the land was 
too great, its resources were too inadequate, to admit of 
anything more than an attempt to lay the foundations of a 
better order of things; and this, Philaret conscientiously 
endeavoured to do. The tyranny and peculation of the tax- 
collectors were partially restrained by the compilation of new 
land registries and the appointment of tax-assessors from 
among the taxpayers. A perambulatory commission was also 
appointed by Philaret to enquire into the condition of the 
various districts, to remit taxation whenever necessary, but, at 
the same time, to use every effort to bring the fugitive serfs 
back to their original dwelling-places. Hitherto the rights of 
the oppressed peasantry had to some extent been safe-guarded 
by Boris Godunov's ukases, which limited the time within 
which they might be recovered by their former owners. But 
now, yielding to the earnest solicitation of the gentry, the 
Government authorised them to recover their fugitive peasants 
without fixing any time-limit. On the other hand, the taxation 
of those of the sluzhnine lyudi^ or military tenants, who chose 
to settle in the towns, was the first step towards the proportional 
taxation of the hitherto privileged classes. 

In other respects the administration of Philaret was obviously 
progressive. He encouraged the publication of theological 
works, formed the nucleus of the subsequently famous 
patriarchal library, and instituted a special department for the 

x] The Administration of P hilar et 193 

revision of liturgical books. He also commanded that every 
archbishop should establish a seminary in his palace, and he 
himself founded a Greco-Latin institute in the Chudov 
monastery. He also encouraged learned Greeks to settle in 
Moscow to instruct the orthodox clergy. 

Another great service rendered by Philaret to his country 
was the re-organisation of the army with the help of foreign 
officers. The Moscovite gentry had lost whatever of martial 
instincts it may once have possessed, while still remaining the 
military caste of Moscovy. The gentry had come to regard 
their settled peaceful life on their properties as their normal 
state of existence, and the occasional summons to warfare as an 
extraordinary and unwelcome interruption. Contemporary 
writers, not inaptly, compare the Moscovite armies of their day 
to herds of cattle. The infantry, encumbered rather than 
armed with heavy, obsolete, blunderbusses, the so-called 
pishchal^ or with blunt and clumsy spears and axes, rarely 
ventured to attack an enemy unless they out-numbered him by 
four to one, while the cavalry was " a shameful thing to look 
upon.'' Mounted on sorry hacks, and armed with primitive 
carbines, or simply with the saadak\ they considered it a great 
victory if they managed to kill half a dozen Tatars — that is to 
say, if they fought at all; for the great aim of the Russian 
soldier was to get home again as quickly as possible. In vain 
a whole series of statutes threatened deserters with the knout, 
exile and confiscation ; the generals were constantly complain- 
ing of shameless and wholesale desertion in the course of every 
campaign. Ytft we know from a somewhat later, but equally trust- 
worthy, source that the Russian infantry, when properly trained, 
would follow its foreign officers through fire and water. 

The gentry formed the bulk of the Tsar's forces; the 

peasants and tradespeople were rarely recruited, being far too 

valuable to the state as taxpayers; but in the stryeltsui, or 

musketeers, the Tsar possessed a peculiar and superior sort of 

^ A bow with its quiver of arrows. 

B. 13 

194 The first Romanovs, i6 13-1648 [ch. 

militia composed of able-bodied volunteers outside the agri- 
cultural class. In times of peace, the stryeltsui lived in their 
own quarters on the outskirts of the towns, with their wives 
and families, carrying on various trades, toll-free, and, at the 
same time, acting as police and firemen. In Moscow alone 
there were 20,000 of them, divided m\.o prikazui ox companies. 
The stryeltsui had a fixed salary as well as a special allowance 
for clothes and salt. Their chief officers were always selected 
from among the Boyars. 

But the proved inefficiency of the Russian fighting-man 
compelled Tsar Michael, like Tsar Boris before him, to intro- 
duce foreign mercenaries to teach the native levies European 
methods. So early as 16 14, foreign soldiers began to enter 
Michael's service. In 1624 we find no fewer than 445 of them 
in Russia, of whom 168 were Poles, 113 Germans, and 64 Irish. 
Recruiting officers were also sent abroad to enlist foreign 
soldiers; but the most orthodox of governments looked askance 
at Catholic hirelings, and would not allow the recruiting of any 
of the Roman Faith. 

Tsar Michael's army was an improvement upon all previous 
Moscovite armies ; but, when it came to be tested in the second 
Polish War, the chief event of MichaeFs later years, its 
inadequacy was most painfully demonstrated. 

The Peace of Deulino was but a temporary interruption of 
hostilities postponed by mutual consent. Poland, harassed 
simultaneously by the Swedes and the Turks, was forced to leave 
her rebellious vassal (for as such she still regarded Moscovy) 
unpunished for a time, while Moscovy eagerly awaited the first 
opportunity of regaining her lost provinces. The death of old 
King Sigismund III (April, 1632), and the consequent inter- 
regnum in Poland, seemed to present that opportunity. Twelve 
months previously, Alexander Leslie had been sent by Philaret 
to Sweden to hire 5000 infantry and persuade as many smiths, 
wheelwrights and carpenters as possible to come to Moscow. 
Two other emissaries to the same country purchased 10,000 

x] Character of Wladislaus IV 195 

muskets with the necessary ammunition. At the end of 1631, 
there were 66,000 hired mercenaries in Moscow; and the 
leading generals were busy inspecting troops in the provinces. 
In April 1632, one of the national assemblies, which were the 
great feature of Michael's reign and a sign of weakness and 
irresolution in the central government, voted large subsidies in 
money and kind; and Mikhail Shein and Artemy Izmailov 
were sent to recover the lost towns with 32,000 men and 158 
guns, speedily reinforced to twice that number. At first, 
everything went well ; and Shein, who had had some military 
experience, " picked up fortresses as if they were birds* eggs.*' 
Serpyeisk surrendered on October 23, Dorogobuzh six days 
later, and sixteen smaller fortresses followed their example. 
But this was the term of Shein's success. The new King of 
Poland took the field immediately after his election, and he 
proved a far more formidable antagonist than his father. 

Wladislaus IV was the most popular monarch that ever sat 
on the Polish throne. His election was the merest formality. 
It was understood from the first that the elder Krolewicz was 
the only possible successor of Sigismund III. A genuine Pole 
by temperament, frank, impetuous, mercurial, impressionable, 
with not a trace of the almost Castilian grandezza and punctilio 
of his father, Wladislaus's naturally noble nature had been . 
refined and matured by excellent tutors with wide views and 
high ideals. He was absolutely free from caste prejudice ; his 
ardent faith was unspotted by bigotry ; and, from an early age, 
he was remarkable for his sociability, chivalrousness and 
patriotism. His mind had been still further enlarged by the 
usual grand tour^ under excellent guides, which he made in 
1624 ; and he brought back with him to Poland that love of art 
and letters which was so largely to console him for his political 
misadventures. Providence seemed to have destined him for 
great deeds, and the dream of his life was to place on his 
brows the crown of Vladimir and Monomakh which the 
Mpscovites themselves had pressed upon him in his sixteenth 


196 The first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

year. He had learnt the science of war under the great 
Chodkiewicz, and had endeared himself to the common soldiers 
by the thoroughness and cheerfulness with which he shared 
their hardships. With the Cossacks he was especially popular, 
because, in warfare, he made no distinction between them 
and the Szlachta, 

But there was another and deeper reason for the rare 
unanimity with which all parties united to elect Wladislaus. 
The Poles meanly calculated that so generous and impulsive 
a Prince would be content with fresh limitations of the royal 
power; would be a sort "of King-bee dispensing nought but 
honey to his subjects " ; would, first, ease all grievances, satisfy 
all complaints, and then courteously stand aside and consent 
to be governed rather than to govern. Accordingly, the 
Coronation Diet, which assembled on September 27, 1632, 
still further curtailed the prerogative. The Pacta Conventa 
presented to Wladislaus before his coronation bound him 
never to declare an offensive war, or form alliances, however 
profitable, or hire mercenaries, though there was no regular 
army, without the consent of the Estates, or of the Senate as 
the trustees of the Estates. Moreover, he was to fill up all 
public vacancies within a certain time and relieve the Szlachta 
from the payment of the land tax and the hearth tax, the sole 
taxes to which they were still liable, ** because the said taxes 
savoured of servitude." And this, too, at a time when the 
nobles and clergy between them owned nearly all the land^ in 
the Kingdom and there was a deficit in the treasury of 370,000 
gulden. The King agreed to all these usurpations, without 
cavil, and even without comment. The sweetness of popularity 
and the hope of military glory which, as he supposed, would 
exalt him still more in the eyes of the nation, and enable him 
ultimately to lead it whither he would, can alone explain his 
apparently reckless complaisance on this occasion. The 

^ The clergy owned 160,000 villages out of a total of « 15,000, and paid 
no taxes at all. 

x] The Poles relieve Smolensk 197 

niggardliness with which the Sejm responded to his magna- 
nimity might have warned him that he was taking the wrong 
path. The deputies, when they had squeezed everything 
possible out of him, refused to grant him a single subsidy 
towards the expenses of the Moscovite War, which had been 
forced upon the Republic and threatened its very existence. 
Only by pawning his father's crown for 50,000 gulden, and by 
selling to the Elector of Brandenburg, for 90,000 more, 
exemption from personal homage for his Prussian Duchy, was 
Wladislaus able, at last, to muster 16,000 regular soldiers for 
the relief of Smolensk, now hardly pressed. Yet, at this very 
time, there were at least a score of Polish magnates each one 
of whom could have put 5000 fully equipped soldiers in the 
field without feeling the expense. 

With his 16,000 troopers, reinforced by 15,000 registered 
Cossacks, Wladislaus hastened to the relief of his chief eastern 
fortress. The Russian commander, Shein, had distributed his 
troops in three immense entrenched camps on both sides of 
the Dnieper. The walls of these camps, according to an eye- 
witness, were as strong, vast and lofty as the walls of Smolensk 
itself, and were also defended by forts and blockhouses. After 
a series of bloody assaults (August 7-22) Wladislaus captured 
two of the camps, occupied the surrounding hills, and besieged 
Shein for four months in his main camp, while Kazanowski 
defeated a relief-army advancing from Dorogobuzh. Finally 
Shein, who had received nothing from Moscow but promises, 
yielding to the clamours of his foreign officers, surrendered to 
the Poles (Feb. 26, 1634). On March i, the Moscovite 
army, " without music or the beating of drums, and with arms 
reversed," issued forth, by companies, and laid 122 banners 
at the feet of the Polish King, who sat on horseback beneath 
the triumphant White Eagle standard, the centre of a brilliant 
ring of castellans and palatines. Next Wladislaus proceeded 
to besiege the fortress of Byelaya, which resisted so stoutly 
that the Lithuanian chancellor. Prince Radziwill, declared that, 

198 The first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

from henceforth it should be called not Byelaya* but Krasnaya*. 
So great was the dearth of food in the Polish camp that the 
King ate only half a chicken for dinner so as to save the other 
half for supper, while bread, even at the royal table, was a 
luxury. And now, too, disquieting news from the south 
disposed him to secure his Moscovite conquests by a per- 
manent peace. The Turks were again in arms against the 
Republic ; and, though the Polish Grand Hetman, Stanislaus 
Koniecpolski, in the summer of 1633, had defeated them at 
Paniowce, it was rumoured that Sultan Amurath IV, after 
publicly insulting the Polish envoy, Trzebinski, at a public 
audience, had placed himself at the head of a new army and 
was already at Adrianople. Negotiations were accordingly 
opened with the Moscovites on the river Polyankova in March 
1634, but it was not till May 28 that the treaty was signed. 
The Poles conceded the title of Tsar.to Michael, but refused the 
epithet "of all Russia," arguing, reasonably enough, that as 
Russian* provinces were to be found in both the Moscovite 
and Polish States, Michael should call himself Tsar " of his 
own Russia." Territorially, the Poles were now in very much 
the same position as after the Truce of Deulino, as they had 
little more than recovered what the Moscovites had won at the 
beginning of the campaign. The Tsar, moreover, renounced all 
his rights to Livonia, Esthonia and Courland, and paid a war 
indemnity of 200,000 rubles. Wladislaus, on the other hand, 
relinquished all his rights to the Moscovite throne. The 
treaty of Polyankova so impressed the Turks that, when 
Wladislaus hastened to Lemberg to take up the struggle with 
them, they at once made pacific overtures. A truce was con- 
cluded in October 1634, on condition that, henceforth, the Poles 
should keep their Cossacks under better control, while the 

1 White, 
a Red. 

' Thus Red and Black Russia belonged, at this period, to Poland, while 
White Russia was half in Poland and half in Moscovy. 

x] Wladislaus IV andthe Thirty Years War 199 

Sultan undertook to place Hospodars friendly to Poland on 
;.he thrones of Moldavia and Wallachia. 

The Moscovite and Turkish Wars were no sooner over 
than events occurred which threatened to draw Poland into 
the Thirty Years* War. The death of Gustavus Adolphus 
(1632), and the subsequent rout of the Protestants at Nordlingen 
(1634), had brought Sweden and France still more closely 
together and consequently induced the Imperialists to look 
abroad for fresh allies. The martial King of Poland seemed 
to Richelieu to be just the man to make a powerful diversion 
from the east ; and the cardinal offered Silesia and the hand of 
Maria Ludovika Gonzaga, daughter of the Duke of Nevers, one 
of the greatest of the great dames of France, to Wladislaus IV, 
if he would accede to the Franco-Swedish alliance and put 
10,000 men in the field. Simultaneously, the Maritime Powers 
tempted Wladislaus with the hand of the ex-Queen of Bohemia. 
But Poland was desirous of peace, and the Sejm rejected both 
propositions. Unable to gain Poland as an ally yet anxious to 
prevent her from attacking Sweden while still in difficulties, 
England, France, and Holland then mediated the Truce of 
Stuhmsdorf^, to last for 26 years from September 12, 1635, 
whereby, without the knowledge and greatly to the indignation 
of Axel Oxenstjerna, the Swedish Senate retroceded to Poland 
all the Prussian conquests of Gustavus Adolphus, while retain- 
ing Livonia provisionally. 

For once the Sejm had acted prudently in restraining the 
impetuous King from plunging into a war which would have 
brought small advantage to the Republic. But even this 
solitary act of prudence was entirely dictated by the selfish 
fear lest Wladislaus's victories might increase the royal power. 
For precisely the same reason they next opposed his statesman- 
like endeavour to provide Poland with a navy. 

One of Wladislaus's many obligations under the Facta 
Conventa was to maintain, at his own cost, a fleet on the 
^ See also my Scandinavia^ p. 211. 

200 The first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

Baltic. He applied all his energy to the provision of this long- 
felt necessity. Two new fortresses, Wladyslawow and Kazimier- 
zow, were speedily constructed on the north-west of the Gulf of 
Dantzic ; one large and twelve small vessels were purchased at 
a cost of 381,000 gulden; and, for the first time in Polish 
history, a Polish fleet appeared in the Baltic. This was a good 
beginning, but it was only a beginning. The construction and 
maintenance of an adequate navy were impossible without far 
more money than the short-sighted Sejm was willing to bestow. 
Wladislaus therefore proposed to re-levy, for the benefit of the 
Republic, the lucrative tolls which the Swedes had levied 
during their occupation of Prussia and which had brought 
them in 3,600,000 Polish gulden per annum, Pillau alone 
yielding 1,500,000. To this obviously advantageous proposal, 
which, besides, cost them nothing, the Senate at once agreed. 
But, when Wladislaus announced his intention of levying the 
tolls, the people of Dantzic at once protested against it, as a 
violation of the Truce of Stuhmsdorf. They appealed to the 
signatories of that treaty for protection ; and, when the King 
summoned the rebellious Dantzickers to appear before him and 
blockaded their harbour with his little fleet, a Danish admiral, 
acting in collusion with the city, broke the blockade and 
destroyed the Polish ships. This was the state of things when 
the Sejm assembled in 1638, shortly after the King had wedded 
the Archduchess Cecilia Renata, daughter of the Emperor 
Ferdinand III. Wladislaus at once appealed to Parliament to 
punish Dantzic for thus publicly insulting the Crown and 
materially injuring the Republic. But the Sejm was in a more 
than ordinarily stupid and suspicious mood. It affected to 
regard the project of the Baltic tolls as "a Spanish conception." 
The King, it was said, was acting in the Austrian interest. He 
meant to suppress Dantzic as a first step towards subduing 
Scandinavia. A strong fleet would too greatly increase the 
royal power. The idea of it had been devised by the Chancellor 
Ossolinski, during his recent secret interview with the Emperor 

x] The Order of the Immaculate Conception 201 

at Ratisbon — and much more to the same effect. Most of the 
Senators thereupon deserted the King from fear of the Sejm ; 
the Dantzic affair was referred to a special commission, which 
quietly shelved it ; and from henceforth nothing more was ever 
heard of a Polish fleet. 

But the real cause of the Sejm's distrust of the King was 
the foundation by Wladislaus, at this very time, of the Knightly 
Order of the Immaculate Conception, the statutes of which 
were brought by Ossolinski from Rome, confirmed by Urban 
VIII. The Order was to consist of seventy-two cavaliers, 
selected from among the noblest families in Poland, and was 
obviously meant, in the future, to form the nucleus of a royalist 
party, by means of which the King might curb the lawlessness 
of the Szlachta and indirectly bring about a reform of the 
Constitution. A purely Roman Catholic Society like this could 
not fail to be offensive to the orthodox Lithuanians and the 
protestant Prussians; but a minority like theirs would have 
been powerless but for the support of the Catholic magnates 
themselves, who preferred the domination of the Szlachta^ which 
could always be managed or bribed, to the rivalry of a strong 
King. The united opposition compelled the King to abolish 
the Order of the Immaculate Conception ; and the Sejtn^ out 
of spite, refused to pay the debts contracted by Wladislaus 
during the Moscovite war. Not till 1642 did the chancellor 
Ossolinski succeed in getting the King reimbursed by skilfully 
waiving the royal claims in return for "a gratification" of 
4,500,000 thalers, which roughly represented the amount due. 

The disillusioned King, foreseeing clearly the abyss towards 
which Poland was hastening, but worn out by repeated humilia- 
tions, now abandoned politics altogether and sank into a 
lethargy of indifference from which he was only aroused by the 
birth of a son, christened Sigismund, in 1640. From henceforth, 
he became another man, and laboured with all his might first 
to promote the unity of the nation, and then to bring about a 
revolution by means of a military coup d'Hat, 

202 The first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

He began by attempting to reconcile the various sects in 

We have already seen^ how the rising tide of Protestantism in 
Poland receded, towards the end of the sixteenth century, before 
the opposing forces of race-hatred and the catholic reaction. 
But there were other dissenters not so easily to be disposed of. 

Having conquered the Lutherans and Calvinists, the Jesuits 
directed their attention to the Greek Orthodox Church, their 
one remaining spiritual rival in the territories of the Republic. 
The Princes of the House of Jagiello had, prudently, left their 
Orthodox subjects alone. Their policy was to strengthen, by 
every means, the union between Poland and Lithuania ; and 
their statesmanlike instincts told them that any attempt 
violently to bring together the Roman Church in Poland and 
the Orthodox Church in Lithuania would only introduce 
discord where harmony was so essential. The Jesuits thought 
differently. Their great argument was that the union of the 
two churches would consolidate the union of the two States ; 
and this argument is set forth, with extraordinary force and 
eloquence, in the famous book of the greatest of the Polish 
Jesuits, Peter Skarga, entitled " O jednosci Kosciola Bozego^" 
He proposed a provisional union between the Roman and 
Greek Churches on three conditions; (i) that the Archbishop 
of Kiev, the Metropolitan of the West Russian Church, should 
henceforth be consecrated by the Pope instead of by the 
Patriarch of Constantinople; (2) that the Russians should 
acknowledge the supremacy of the Church of Rome ; and (3) 
that the external ceremonies and the liturgical language of the 
Russian Church should remain intact. A conditional union 
was considered preferable to an absolute submission as being 
the easier way of undermining the obstinate attachment of the 
Orthodox congregations to their ancient faith. The flagrant 
and manifold abuses in the Orthodox church of Poland seemed 
to justify the necessity of its union with the better-ordered 

1 Chapter V. « ** The unity of the Church of God." 

x] State of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania 203 

and instructed Roman Church. All contemporary evidence 
describes its condition in the darkest colours. The bishops, 
with scarce an exception, were robbers and ruffians ; the lesser 
clergy followed the unedifying example of their ecclesiastical 
superiors. Prince Constantine Ostrogski, the chief pillar of 
the Orthodox church, bitterly complained that the common 
people hungered in vain for the word of God, while Melecy 
Smotrzycki, Orthodox Archbishop of Polock, declared that 
he could not lay his hand on three Orthodox preachers, and that, 
but for the aid of Catholic postillas^ there would have been no 
preaching at all. An attempt on the part of the Constantino- 
politan Patriarch Jeremiah, in 1588, to reform these crying 
abuses only made matters worse and raised a storm of protest, 
till the best of the Lithuanian Orthodox, both lay and clerical, 
began to look longingly towards Rome. After some preliminary 
negotiations with Sigismund III and Zamoyski, the better 
class of Orthodox bishops at last took the decisive step. At a 
synod, held at Brzesc, on June 14, 1595, ^^^Y ^''^^ up two 
addresses, one to the Pope and the other to the King, in which 
they declared their willingness to accede to the Union of 
Florence on condition that their ceremonies and discipline 
were left intact. Delegated bishops were then sent to Rome 
to offer the submission of the Orthodox church in Poland to 
the Apostolic See; and, early in January, 1596, the Bull 
Magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis received the " Rutheni " 
into the Catholic Church. 

Unfortunately, the bishops did not think fit to take Prince 
Constantine Ostrogsky into their confidence. As the patron of 
600 livings, to say nothing of the inestimable services he had 
rendered to the Orthodox church by founding academies and 
issuing a Slavonic translation of the Scriptures, the famous 
Ostrog Bible, he certainly should have been consulted before- 
hand. When then he was informed of what had been done 
after the event, his volcanic indignation threatened to wreck 
the young Uniate Church at the very outset. He terrified the 

204 The first Romanovs, i6 13-1648 [ch. 

vacillating Metropolitan Rukoza, formed a close union with 
the anti-episcopal brotherhoods of Lithuania, and, during the 
Diet of 1596, at the head of a formidable minority^ fiercely 
opposed the King himself, while Orthodox preachers peram- 
bulated Lithuania denouncing the Uniate bishops as traitors 
and stirring the Orthodox population against them. At the 
Synod of Brzesc, held on October 9, 1596, the two parties met 
face to face and excommunicated each other. Thus the 
immediate result of " the Union " was the division of the West 
Russian Church into "Uniates" and "Disunited"; but the 
Orthodox party was now in a much worse position than before, 
because it was no longer officially recognised, and had to 
contend against the combined forces of the Uniates and the 
Catholics. But Ostrogski did not abandon the struggle, and it 
was due to his efforts that the Warsaw Diet of 1607 granted a 
" constitution " to the " Disunited " which gave them a quasi- 
legal status. The death of Ostrogski, in the following year, 
was a great blow to the Orthodox ; and the Uniates redoubled 
their efforts to " convert " the " Disunited." What their methods 
were, may be gathered from the warning addressed by Leo 
Sapieha, chancellor of Lithuania, to the fanatical Uniate 
Archbishop of Polock, Josephat Kuncewicz, who disregarded 
it and was consequently murdered, in November 1623, in the 
streets of Witebsk, by the outraged Orthodox population. 
Witebsk was duly punished, but no notice was taken by Sapieha 
of a savage epistle from Urban VIII demanding that "this 
plague of schism should be extirpated by fire and sword." 

Thus Poland once more vindicated her character as a 
non-persecuting Power in an age of religious intolerance. 
In process of time, the position of the ** Disunited " improved. 
Thus the Diets of 1631 and 1635, despite the opposition 
of the Curia, fully recognised the Orthodox Church in 
Poland as a separate and independent establishment, with 
bishoprics at Lemberg, Przemysl and Mohilev, and a Metro- 
politan at Kiev, and confirmed them in the possession of all 

x] Wladislaus IV and the Cossacks 205 

their property. Wladislaus IV would have gone further still. 
He proposed, by means of conferences and congresses, to bring 
about an understanding between the Catholics and all the 
Dissenters, both Protestant and Orthodox. As regards the 
Orthodox in particular, the times seemed most propitious as on 
the Orthodox metropolitan throne of Kiev now sat Peter Mohila, 
a Moldavian by birth, educated at Paris, and connected by 
family ties with many of the leading Polish magnates. On the 
initiative of Wladislaus, a synod of Polish Catholic Bishops 
assembled at Warsaw in 1643 and invited the Dissidents to meet 
them at a colloquium charitativum^ in the following year. The col- 
loquium was actually held at Thorn, on August 28, 1645, under 
the presidency of the chancellor Ossolinski, but came to naught, 
owing to the opposition of Pope Innocent X. 

To attain his second object, the reform of a mischievous 
constitution by means of a coup (Vktat^ Wladislaus reckoned 
chiefly upon the Dnieperian or registered Cossacks, who, at any 
rate, formed part of the irregular forces of the Republic, and 
were not mere free-booters like their brethren of the Don. 
The Cossacks liked Wladislaus IV, and he was certain of their 
whole-hearted support in case of a collision with the Sejm 
against whom the Cossacks nourished many ancient grievances. 
No doubt the restless predatory, incalculable Cossack was a 
difficult factor for any statesman to deal with ; but, hitherto, the 
Szlachta had frustrated or ignored every attempt to settle 
adequately the urgent Cossack question. The Pans regarded 
the Cossacks generally as schismatical, runaway serfs, to whom 
only the very minimum of tardy justice was to be grudgingly 
conceded. They did not always remember that these semi- 
barbarous horsemen were also the sole guardians of the south- 
eastern Ukraine, or frontier, of the Republic. The condition 
of the Ukraine was always more or less abnormal; and the 
slightest accident there, in view of the near neighbourhood 
of the Turks and Tatars, and the utter defencelessness of 
Poland, was bound to have the most dangerous consequences. 

2o6 The first Romanovs, i6 13-1648 [ch. 

At the beginning of the reign of Wladislaus IV, the 
2^porozhians were more than usually restless. To curb them, 
the fortress of Kudak was erected, by French engineers, at the 
confluence of the Samara and Dnieper, to overawe the Cossack 
Syech, or Commonwealth, a little lower down the riverv The 
Polish army then withdrew, leaving this solitary fortress in the 
wilderness, garrisoned by a few hundred dragoons, at the mercy 
of the Cossacks, who, on the first stormy night, attacked and 
destroyed it. For this they were severely punished by the 
Polish Grand Hetman, Koniecpolski ; and Kudak rose again from 
its ashes. The number of the registered Zaporozhians was now 
reduced to 6000, and they were promised 100,000 gulden per 
annum for their maintenance. But, despite the repeated 
warnings of the King, the stipulated amount was never paid 
regularly; and the result was a series of fresh rebellions, in 1636 
and 1638, which were mercilessly repressed. The Diet of 1638, 
moreover, abolished all the liberties of the Cossacks, including 
the right of electing their own Hetman ; and they were 
subordinated to a Polish military Commission sitting at 
Trachtymirov. But no extra precautions, such as the mainten- 
ance of an adequate permanent army, or the building of fresh 
forts, in the now thoroughly disturbed Ukraine, were taken 
against the possible further consequences of the Government's 
breach of faith. Everything was left to the discretion of 
Koniecpolski, who, fortunately for the Republic, was an expert 
in Ukrainian matters as well as a warrior of renown. 

Wladislaus IV largely depended on the cooperation of the 
Grand Hetman for the consummation of his plans. As origin- 
ally conceived, these plans were fantastically ambitious. In 
1 64 1 he sent Ossolinski to Rome to inform the Pope that he 
meditated conquering Sweden and Moscovy and pacifying 
Europe, finally proceeding, at the head of united Christendom, 
to expel the Turks from Europe and establish his own claims 
to Constantinople, which he hoped to acquire through Maria 
Ludovika Gonzaga de Nevers, the last surviving descendant of 

x] The Oriental Policy of Wladislaus IV 207 

the Paleologi, whom Mazarin and the Queen Mother of France, 
in the hope of detaching Wladislaus from the Austrian alliance, 
had selected to be his second wife. 

In the spring of 1646, circumstances seemed to favour the 
oriental part of the King's designs. In the previous year, the 
Tatars, enraged at the refusal of Wladislaus to continue the 
humiliating tribute which the Khan exacted from Poland, 
invaded the territories of the Republic, but were almost 
annihilated at Ochmatow by Koniecpolski. Simultaneously, 
dissensions broke out in the Crimea ; and the Turks declared 
war against Venice. Wladislaus immediately ordered the 
Cossacks to make ready their boats for a raid upon the Turkish 
galleys in the Euxine, and sent envoys to Moscow and Venice 
to conclude a league against the Porte. But Koniecpolski, who 
was summoned to Cracow to give advice, took a less sanguine 
view of the situation. He declared that an invasion of Turkey 
was impracticable unless adequately financed by Venice, at the 
rate of a million scudi down and half a million more per annum 
so long as the war lasted. He urged the King to limit his 
operations to the acquisition of Moldavia and Wallachia and 
the subjugation of the Tatars. On March 10, 1646, Maria 
Ludovika arrived at Cracow and was married to Wladislaus, to 
whom she brought a very serviceable dowry of 800,000 livres. 

At this juncture the sudden death of Koniecpolski deprived 
the King of his most loyal and judicious co-operator. Still 
"W^dislaus persisted in his designs, leaning now, almost entirely, 
on the Cossacks, whose deputies arrived at Cracow and held 
midnight conferences with him and the seven Senators, out of 
120, on whom he could depend. In return for a promise of 
the restitution of their liberties, the Cossacks, promised to put 
50,000, or even 100,000 men in the field, whenever they were 
required. Secure in this quarter, Wladislaus next concluded 
an alliance with the Moscovites for a simultaneous attack on 
the Budziak Tatars and the Crimea. The plan was well laid 
and might have succeeded, had not the Venetian ambassador, 
in order to frighten the Porte, prematurely proclaimed the 

2o8 7^he first Romanovs, 1613-1648 [ch. 

Hccret ofTcnHivc and defensive treaty existing between Venice 
and J'oland. Instantly the whole Polish Republic was in 
a ferment, and the cry that the Constitution was in danger re- 
sounded everywhere. Wladislaus' secret treaty with Venice was 
undoubtedly a breach of the Pacta Conventa\ and the Senate, 
for fcur of the Diet, openly turned against the King, declaring 
tlicy would rather cut off their hands than sign the circular 
letters directed by Wladislaus to his recruiting agents. Wladis- 
InuH* luHt hope was that the Porte would now declare war against 
him, or, ut least, send the Tatars across the border, in either of 
which cases he would be justified in using the forces he had 
collected for the defence of the Republic. But the Porte, well- 
informed of what was going on in Poland, carefully avoided 
every appearance of hostility, while the Diet of 1646, convinced 
that a successful Turko-Tatar war would be " the grave of the 
national liberties," reduced the standing army to 1200 men and 
forbade the King to issue any declaration of war whatever without 
the consent of the Republic. Yet Wladislaus never relaxed 
his military preparations, hoping against hope that the Turks, or 
the Tatars, if aggravated, might still play into his hands. But 
tiK* Sultan ostentatiously proclaimed his desire for peace and 
sent the Tatars against the Moscovites instead of against the 
Poles. At the extraordinary Diet of May 2, 1647 the King 
professed that he did not understand the foreign policy of 
the deputies. ** Here you are," said he, " surrounded on every 
side by enemies and ill-wishers, and yet you break away from 
your sole ally, the Venetian Republic ! " So tumultuous and 
unnu*\nagv*able x^'as this Diet that not a single measure was 
|vasscil during the session. The death of the little Krolewicz, 
Sigisnumd, si ill further depressed the King, who did not, how- 
owr. relax !\is efforts to gain o\*er the Cossacks ; and Ossolinski 
was sent on a m>*sterious mission to the Ukraine, probably (for 
llie incident is oliscure) to offer the baton of Hetman of the 
/aixm\«hians to Chmielnicki, who now appears prominendy on 
the sJceiK for the fiisi time. 

IV^dan Chmielnicki was the son of a Cossack, Michael 

x] Bohdan Chmielnicki 209 

Chmielnicki, who, after serving Poland all his life, died for her 
on the field of Cecora, leaving to Bohdan the village of Subotow 
with which the Polish King had rewarded MichaePs valour and 
fidelity. History, in all probability, would never have known the 
name of Chmielnicki, if the intolerable persecution of a neigh- 
bouring Polish squire had not converted the thrifty and 
acquisitive Cossack husbandmen into one of the most striking 
and sinister figures of modem times. Failing to obtain redress 
from the local courts for the raiding of his village, the slaughter 
of his servants, and the flogging to death of his little son, 
Chmielnicki sought for justice at Warsaw, whither he had been 
summoned, with other Cossack delegates, to assist Wladislaus 
IV, in the projected Turkish campaign. The King, perceiving 
him to be a man of some education and intelligence, appointed 
him pisarz^ or secretary, of the registered Cossacks and chief 
recruiting officer. Chmielnicki, encouraged by these marks of 
favour, complained to Wladislaus of the outrages inflicted upon 
him at Subotow ; but, inasmuch as Chmielnicki could not pro- 
duce any " privilege " entitling him to property actually given 
to his father for military services, the Polish jurists decided that 
the non-noble Cossack had no claim against his noble oppressor. 
Revolted by this instance of aristocratic chicanery, Wladislaus, 
at a private interview, fastened a sword to the Cossack's side 
and said to him significantly, " You are a soldier, now, 
remember ! Defend yourself." 

Chmielnicki, on his return to the Ukraine, took part in the 
campaign of Ochmatow under Koniecpolski. But he was now 
doubly hateful to the Pans, as being a royalist as well as a 
Cossack, and was deprived of his fair share of booty, accused of 
meditating rebellion, and thrown into jail, whence he escaped 
by bribing his jailers. Feeling that neither his life nor his 
liberty was any longer secure among the Pans, Chmielnicki, in 
December, 1647, fled to the Zaporozhian settlement on the 
Dnieper, and sent messages to the Khan of the Crimea, 
proposing an invasion of Poland by the combined forces of the 
B. 14 

2IO The first Romanovs^ 1613-1648 [ch. x 

Tatars and the Cossacks. This was a contingency which 
Koniecpolski had always foreseen and Wladislaus IV had always 
included in his political calculations. When, then, the King 
learnt that Chmielnicki had been proclaimed Hetman of the 
Cossacks (April 18, 1648), and was marching northwards at the 
head of his Cossack-Tatar host, he recognised that his long 
sought-for opportunity had come at last. After ordering the new 
Grand Hetman, Nicholas Potocki, to await reinforcements before 
attacking Chmielicki, he sent off to the Ukraine all his avail- 
able troops, and was preparing to follow them, when he died 
suddenly in consequence of a severe chill, caught while hunting 
in the forests round Mereczko, on May 20, 1648, in his 52nd 



At the end of May 1648, the news of a terrible disaster in 
the Ukraine reached the Polish capital. Stephen Potocki, with 
the Polish advance guard of 4000 men, was attacked on the 
banks of the river Zheltuiya Vodui by Chmielnicki's countless 
Cossack and Tatar hordes; and, after a stubborn three days' 
resistance (May 16, 18-19), ^is little army was annihilated. 
A week later, the Hetmans of the Crown, Nicholas Potocki 
and Kalinowski, were surprised by the Cossack Hetman in the 
marshy valley of Kruto Balka^ near the fortress of Korsun, on 
which they were retreating. Again Chmielnicki triumphed; 
8^00 out of the 10,000 Poles perished ; and both the Hetmans, 
with a few of their superior officers, were sent in chains to the 
Crimea to be held to ransom. The immediate result of these 
Cossack victories was the outbreak of a Khlopskaya zloba, or 
** serfs fury." *T^hroughout the Ukraine, the Polish gentry were 
hunted down, flayed, burnt, blinded and sawn asunder. Every 
manor house and castle was reduced to ashes. Every Uniate 
or Catholic priest who could be caught was hung before his 
own high altar, along with a Jew and a hog. Every one who 
shaved his head after the Polish manner, or wore Polish 
costume, was cut down by the haidatnaki^ as Chmielnicki's bands 
were called. At Polonny, the Jews were cut up into joints and 
sold as meat by the butchers. At Bar, the Cossacks roasted 
and ate little children in the presence of their mothers. The 
remnant of the panic-stricken inhabitants fled to the nearest 


212 John Castmtr, 1648-1669 [ch. 

strongholds ; and soon the rebels were swarming all over the 
palatinates of Volhynia and Podolia. 
-^ Poland was utterly unprepared for a catastrophe which left 
her without any visible means of defence. The Grand Chan- 
cellor, Jerzy Ossolinski, the confidant, some said, the initiator, 
of the King's martial projects, at once hastened from Warsaw 
to Lithuania to find the monarch. Midway, he was met by the 
tidings of Wladislaus' death ; and the shock deprived him, for a 
time, of the use of both hands. Nevertheless, in view of the 
infirmity of the aged primate, the captivity of the Hetmans, and 
the absence, or sickness, of the principal senators, he repre- 
sented the executive, and, rising to the level of his difficulties, 
proceeded, with characteristic energy, to evolve order out of 
chaos while every one else was exclaiming : actum estde republicat 

Jerzy Ossolinski was that rare phenomenon in Polish 
history — a great diplomatist. Born in 1595, his abilities first 
impressed his Jesuit instructors at Pultusk, who sent him 
abroad; and, after frequenting, for eight years, the principal 
European Universities, he returned to Poland one of the most 
accomplished scholars and orators of the day. Sigismund III 
employed him on various diplomatic missions, in all of which 
he acquitted himself brilliantly, and he was responsible for the 
foreign policy of Poland during the reign of Wladislaus IV, 
who made him Vice-Chancellor in 1639, ^^^^ Grand-Chancel- 
lor in 1645. I^ w^s Ossolinski who concluded the advantageous 
truce of Stuhmsdorf with Sweden, arranged the lucrative 
marriage of Wladislaus with the Austrian Archduchess 
Cecilia, and preserved unbroken the friendship between the 
Republic and the Roman Curia in the most difficult circum- 
stances. He was initiated in all the secret revolutionary plans 
of Wladislaus IV, and, convinced that Poland could only 
be saved from ruin by a reform of the constitution on a strong 
monarchical basis, devoted himself to the attainment of that 
noble ambition, often at the peril of his life. 

The first thing to be done was to elect a new King. For 

xi] The Battle of Pilyawa 213 

the moment, the Cossack peril had ceased to be acute. The 
Porte, ignorant of the death of Wladislaus IV, and alarmed at 
the prospect of a Polish war while the Venetian War was still 
undecided, had peremptorily ordered the Tatars back to the 
Crimea ; and, Chmielnicki, weakened by their defection, had 
retired to Czehryn and opened negotiations with Poland to 
gain time. Ossolinski, whose policy it was to win the Cossacks 
for the Crown, at once sent peace commissioners to the Ukraine ; 
while the Szlachta^ who knew and feared the Chancellor's 
royalist proclivities, determined to crush the Cossacks before 
they could come to terms with the Government, and so thwart 
Ossolinski's plans at the forthcoming Election Diet. Thus, 
within a few weeks of the death of Wladislaus IV, whom they 
had steadily refused to assist against the Turks and Tatars, the 
Polish nobility assembled 40,000 horsemen and 200,000 
armed camp followers, with 100 guns, at Czolhansk in order to 
promote their electioneering manoeuvres by wiping out the 
Cossacks. By the time this gorgeous array, in shining armour 
and flowing, ermine-trimmed mantles, with heron plumes 
waving from their jewelled caps, their spurs of gold and silver, 
and their saddles and shabracks ablaze with precious stones, 
set forth " to chase away the Cossack rabble with their whips,'' 
the Porte, better informed as to Polish affairs, had permitted 
the Tatars to rejoin the Cossacks ; and Chmielnicki, after con- 
temptuously dismissing the Polish peace commissioners, was 
advancing northwards. On September 23, 1648, the two 
armies encountered near Pilyawa; and the glittering Polish 
pageant was easily scattered to the winds. The steppe for 
miles around was strewn with corpses ; and the Cossacks are 
said to have reaped 10,000,000 gulden's worth of booty when 
the fight was over. 

The immediate consequence of this disaster was the 
assembling of the Election Diet, which both parties, from 
political motives, had, unconstitutionally, postponed for six 
weeks beyond the usual time. It met on October 5, 1648; and, 

214 John Casimir^ 1648-1669 [ch, 

chiefly through the influence of Ossolinski, Wladislaus IVs 
eldest half-brother, John Casimir, was elected King on October 
13, on condition that he espoused his brother's widow, 
Queen Maria Ludovika, who paid the expenses of his election 
out of her immense fortune. 

The new King was little known and liked still less in Poland, 
where he was regarded as an alien adventurer. His career, 
hitherto, had certainly not been of the sort to inspire confidence 
in his stability of character. Born in 1609, he had been 
obliged to seek his fortune abroad because the Sejm had 
refused to allow him an honourable maintenance at home. 
After fighting in the Thirty Years' War on the Imperial side, he 
set out for Spain, but was arrested en route by Richelieu (1632), 
and spent the next two years in a French prison. On being 
released, he proceeded to Rome, where he entered the Jesuit 
Order and subsequently competed for the dignity of cardinal. 
On returning to Poland, however, he changed his mind, 
returned the red hat, which had been sent after him to Warsaw, 
and was meditating wedlock when the death of his brother 
gave another direction to his ambition, and made him an 
aspirant for the Polish crown. Indolent and flighty John 
Casimir certainly was ; and to these personal defects all the 
calamities of his unhappy reign have been freely but most 
unjustly attributed. As a matter of fact, John Casimir was 
almost the only man in Poland who, guided by fixed political 
principles, endeavoured to do his duty as he understood it. 
Though no genius like his brother, he was not without fine 
qualities. His splendid personal valour was distinctly a 
national asset ; and, again and again, he demonstrated that not 
in vain had he learnt diplomacy in the school of Ossolinski. 
If he frequently submitted to the guidance of robuster intellects 
than his own, he had at least discrimination enough always to 
choose the best counsellors available. But we shall never get 
at the inner meaning of the labyrinthine complications of this 
distracting reign if we do not steadily bear in mind this 

xi] John Casimir and Chmielnicki 215 

cardinal fact : the great but secret aim of John Casimir, as it 
had been the aim of Wladislaus IV before him, was to curb the 
Szlachta and reform " the absurd republic " by strengthening 
the, executive at the expense of the legislature. 

The most pressing duty of the newly elected King was to 
endeavour to come to terms with the Cossacks. 

After the rout of Pilyawa, all Poland lay at the feet of 
Chmielnicki ; and the road to the defenceless capital was open 
before him. But, after capturing the fortresses of Konstantinow 
and Zbaraz, and blackmailing Lemberg, he wasted two precious 
months in the vain attempt to capture Zamosc. Meanwhile, 
John Casimir privately opened negotiations with him and 
officially recognised him by sending to him the b&ton and other 
insignia of the Cossack Hetman. The King furthermore 
promised his "faithful Zaporozhians " the confirmation of all 
their ancient liberties if they would retire from Zamosc, break 
off their alliance with the Tatars, and await fresh peace com- 
missioners at Pereyaslavl. The Pans were furious with the 
King for thus making friends with "the worst enemy of the 
Republic"; yet it is hard to say what else could have been done 
in the circumstances, and Chmielnicki recognised his obliga- 
tions to the royal House of Vasa by retiring from Zamosc, 
and consenting to receive the Polish commissioners. They 
arrived in his camp in January 1649 and found him so intoxi- 
cated with success as to be scarcely a reasonable creature. He 
contemptuously rejected the Polish terms, and was so evidently 
preparing to invade Poland with the combined forces of the 
Tatars and Cossacks that the commissioners, at the end of 
February, returned to Warsaw, and Ossolinski advised the King 
to proceed to the Ukraine and overawe the rebels by his royal 
majesty. It seemed, at first, as if this were to be his sole 
weapon. The Szlachta refused even to prepare for war, despite 
the alarming fact that the Tatars, supported by a threatening 
letter from Stambul, haughtily demanded the repayment of 
tribute; while Chmielnicki, now styling himself "Prince of 

2i6 John Casimir, 1648- 1669 [ch. 

RuHsia," publicly declared his intention of placing George 
Kikoczy on the Polish throne. Only at the last moment 
a piteouH appeal from the aged primate Lubienski, in the name 
of religion, induced the train-bands to assemble to the number 
of 10,000; and John Casimir set off to relieve the Lithuanian 
magnate Prince Jeremiah Wisniowiecki who was holding the 
whole Cossack-Tatar host at bay at Zbaraz. 

The King encountered the rebels near Zborow, on the banks 
of the Strypa, the passage of which he forced with irresistible elan, 
A bloody battle ensued on the other side, in which the valour of 
the King and the skill of his chief artillery officer, Arciszewski, 
triumphed against tenfold odds. A few days later, the 
skilful diplomacy of Ossolinski succeeded in buying off the 
Tatars, who retired from the field ; and, checked in mid career 
though still unvanquished, Chmielnicki now consented to treat 
with the chancellor. By the compact of Zborow (August 21, 
1649) he was recognised as Hetman of the Cossacks; the 
whole Starosty of Czehryn was ceded to him as an appanage ; 
and the number of the registered Cossacks was raised from 
6000 to 40,000, who were to be maintained at the expense of 
the Republic. The garrison of Zbaraz was ransomed for 
400,000 gulden ; a general amnesty was proclaimed ; and it was 
arranged that, henceforth, all official dignities in the Orthodox 
jxilatinates of Kiev, Chernigov and Braclaw should be conferred 
solely on the Orthodox gentry. In return for these immense 
concessions, Chmielnicki did homage to the Polish King on 
bended knee in presence of both armies, kissing the King's hand; 
and the chancellor of Lithuania recited his pardon. The Diet, 
which met at Warsaw on November 22, confirmed the compact 
of Zborow, after much murmuring, but made no attempt to carry 
out its provisions. Thus, in spite of all the efforts of the King 
and Ossolinski, the Cossack question, which, with the exercise 
of a little tact and equity, might have been adjusted temporarily, 
ci^utinueil to bo as menacing as before. During 1650, however, 
the diplomacy of the chancellor greatly improved the position 

xi] Death of Ossolinski 217 

of Poland. He averted a war with Moscovy by threatening her 
with a Cossack invasion, and, taking advantage of the Venetian 
victories over the Turks, favourably entertained the project of 
an alliance between Matthew, Hospodar of Wallachia, the 
Bulgarians and the Imperial Court. He was about to proceed 
to Vienna and Rome to consolidate this new league when he 
died suddenly, leaving none competent to fill his place. Hence- 
forth John Casimir relied principally on the Queen for the 
furtherance of his plans. 

On the death of Ossolinski, the anti-Cossack party, chiefly 
represented by the Grand and Vice Crown Hetmans, Potocki 
and Kalinowski, recently returned from their long Crimean 
captivity, and burning for revenge, gained the upper hand. 
Chmielnicki's own restless ambition precipitated the rupture. 
At this time nearly all the minor princes and potentates of 
south eastern Europe were suitors for the hand of the beautiful 
Rosanda, the daughter of the fabulously wealthy Basil Lupul, 
Hospodar of Moldavia. Conspicuous amongst the lady's 
wooers were some of the most illustrious of the Polish 
magnates, the Potoccy, the Wisniowiecsy and even the old 
Vice-Hetman, Kalinowski. Chmielnicki also sought the lady's 
hand for his son Tymoszko ^ ; and, when the Hospodar refused 
to entertain his proposals, the Cossack Hetman fell suddenly 
upon him, burnt Jassy, his capital, to the ground and devas- 
tated his dominions till the terrified Hospodar gave Rosanda to 
Timothy. The Polish nobility, enraged to see a low-born 
adventurer pluck such a prize from their very grasp, were now 
clamorous for the extirpation of the Cossacks; the Diet of 
January 165 1 voted war subsidies with astonishing alacrity; 
and, at the beginning of June, John Casimir set out for the 
Ukraine at the head of 80,000 men. The campaign which 
ensued was as honourable to the King as it was discreditable 
to the Szlachta, On reaching Beresteczko on Styr, the host 
entrenched itself and awaited the arrival of Chmielnicki. He 
1 Little Tim. 

2i8 John Casimir, 1648-1669 [ch. 

appeared on June 27 with 200,000 Cossacks and Tatars, and 
made a vigorous reconnaissance, which was repulsed. On the 
29th the Poles offered battle and were defeated. The same 
night the King held a council of war and, overruling the ob- 
jections of the Hetmans and Senators, resolved to attack the 
enemy next morning and stake everything on a single hazard. 
The result was a great Polish victory, which would have been 
annihilating but for the disobedience of some of the PoHsh 
magnates, notably Prince George Lubomirsky, who refused to 
obey the royal orders in the crisis of the struggle. Consequently 
the bulk of the Cossacks, some 90,000, contrived to escape ; 
and, when the King proposed to pursue them to their fortresses, 
a general mutiny broke out, due partly to the fear of the 
magnates that fresh victories would enhance the royal 
authority, partly to the effeminacy of the Szlachta who were 
already " longing after their spouses, their firesides and their 
feather-beds," and partly to the rage of the Vice-Chancellor, 
Hieronymus Radziejowski, who had been led, by false rumours, 
to suspeqt the King of a liaison with his wife, and revenged 
himself by making a successful continuance of the campaign 
impossible. It was due to his insinuations that the train-bands 
now quitted the King en masse, John Casimir, with only 
a handful of quartians^ or regular border-troops, at his disposal, 
was therefore obliged to make the best terms he could with 
Chmielnicki. The compact of Bialocerkiewsk — so the treaty 
was called — amounted to a confirmation and extension of the 
compact of Zborow. 

The mutiny of Beresteczko was the first symptom of that 
general lawlessness which was now to bring the Republic to the 
verge of ruin. The first phase of this melancholy record was a 
struggle between the King and his rebellious Vice-Chancellor. 

It was at the court of Queen Cecilia, the first consort of 
Wladislaus IV, that Radziejowski's wit, savoir-faire and 
agreeable manners had gained him powerful patrons, while his 
openhandedness and affability made him very popular with the 

xi] The first ''exploded'' Diet 219 

Szlachta, Though a man of notoriously evil character (he had 
been convicted of rape, and all but tortured his first wife to 
death) he was already one of the first dignitaries of the 
Republic; and his absolute unscrupulousness promised him 
still greater eminence in a society where corruption and 
simplicity were so strangely intermingled as in seventeenth 
century Poland. But he went too far when he accused his 
second wife, Euphrosina Wisniowiecka, of adultery with the 
King. She at once quitted his roof for the protection of a royal 
convent, and instituted divorce proceedings against her sland- 
erous consort. Radziejowski thereupon attempted to kidnap 
her. But the convent was defended by the royal guards, and for 
attacking them he incurred the penalty of Ihe-majeste^ was 
summoned before the supreme court, and condemned in 
contumaciam to lose his life, honour and goods. Never was 
sentence so richly deserved, yet public opinion, indoctrinated 
by Radziejowski and his creatures who, for months beforehand, 
had circulated the most infamous libels concerning the King, was 
almost entirely on the side of the felon. John Casimir, however, 
did not flinch. He frustrated any attempt at rehabilitation by 
treating the lesser seal as vacant and bestowing it on one of his 
own adherents, whereupon the Diet, which had just met, was 
"exploded^" by Wladislaus Sicinski, deputy from Upick, at 
the instigation of his patron Prince Janus Radziwill. The 
liherum veto had frequently been employed before, but this was 
the first time that the right of a single deputy to explode the 
Diet was recognised as a matter of principle. Henceforth it was 
open to any discontented magnate to put up any petty squire, 
or other dependent, to gag the executive by getting rid, at any 
time, of an inconvenient Diet. At a later stage, the Sejmiki^ or 
provincial Diets, which elected the deputies to the Sejm or 
general Diet, frequently included in their mandates to their 
deputies an express injunction to " explode " the Diet in 

1 Instead of being dissolved in the usual way at the end of a term fixed 

220 John Casimir, 1648-1669 [ch, 

certain contingencies. In the present case the action of 
Sicinski prevented any further investigation of the Radziejow- 
ski affair. The ex- Vice-Chancellor, after vainly attempting, 
from his exile in Silesia, to negotiate with the King, fled to 

Meanwhile both Poland and Moscovy were watching with 
some apprehension the windings and doublings of the crafty 
Cossack Hetman, Chmielnicki, who openly interfered in the 
affairs of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania, assumed the 
high-sounding and ominous title of " Guardian of the Ottoman 
Porte'' and, in 1652, inflicted a severe defeat on the Polish 
chivalry at Batoka on the Moldavian frontier. In 1653 Poland 
made a supreme effort. The Sejm voted 17 millions of gulden 
in subsidies ; and John Casimir led an army of 60,000 into the 
Ukraine. In the course of the same year the Republic 
commanded Chmielnicki to break off all relations with the 
Tatars and send his son as a hostage to Warsaw. The Hetman 
haughtily refused to obey, and declared that henceforth he 
would serve " the Lord's anointed, the Tsar of Moscovy." On 
August 24 he issued "universals" from Pereyaslavl ordering 
the whole population to rise against the Poles, and soon 
gathered a countless host around him ; but the Poles defeated 
him at Zranto, and, in January 1654, he welcomed the Moscovite 
envoys at Pereyaslavl. On February 19 the Cossack Hetman 
took the oath of allegiance to the Tsar. The Cossacks were 
confirmed in all the privileges they had enjoyed under the 
Polish Crown, including judicial and administrative autonomy ; 
and their registered number was fixed at 60,000. The 
Moscovite commissioners refused, however, to bind the Tsar 
by oath to keep his promises, as Chmielnicki required. It was 
an unheard-of, impossible thing, they said, for an absolute 
monarch like the Tsar to swear to be faithful to his own 
subjects as if he were the sort of King they had in Poland. 
Thus was accomplished the transference of the free Cossacks 
from Poland to Moscovy. It was an important political event. 

xi] Beginning of the Thirteen Years' War 221 

and the first step towards the ultimate subjection of both 
" Russia^ " and Poland by the Tsars. But, as yet, it was only a 
first step ; and its inevitable corollary was the outbreak of the 
long-deferred struggle between the Tsardom and the Republic. 
So early as March, 1653, the Tsar's council had determined 
upon war with Poland ; and, in July, the Moscovite envoys told 
John Casimir at Lemberg that the Tsar had decided to take the 
Zaporozhians under his high protection, unless the King of 
Poland redressed all their grievances forthwith. The Poles 
refused to treat any longer " with a thief and a traitor who had 
already sold himself to the Sultan," but promised to forgive 
him if he resigned his Hetmanship. On October 1-12, 1653, 
a national assembly met at Moscow to sanction the war and 
find the means of carrying it on. The diminution of the Tsar's 
title by the Pans, and their refusal to put to death the author 
of various books eulogising the exploits of Wladislaus IV, were 
the alleged gravamina ; but the assembly went to the real root 
of the matter by declaring that hostilities were necessary 
because the Polish Government had broken its oath to the 
Cossacks, and it was to be feared that the Zaporozhians would 
turn Mussulmans if Moscovy did not help them against Poland. 
Muskets and powder had already been purchased in large 
quantities from Sweden and Holland. In May Tsar Alexis, 
who had succeeded his father Michael in 1645', ^^^er weeks of 
solemn preparation and humble supplication, set out for the 

The war opened favourably for the Moscovites. In Lithu- 
ania, Prince Alexander Trubetskoi, aided by 20,000 of Chmiel- 
nicki's Cossacks, easily prevailed over the weak and scattered 
forces of the Poles, though much hampered by a terrible 
outbreak of plague which depopulated the whole Tsardom and 
made Moscow a desert during the summer and autumn months 
of 1654. In the course of June and July the towns of 
Dorogobuzh, Byelaya, Polock and Mstislavl fell into Tru- 

^ I,e, the Russian provinces of Poland. • See Chapter XIII. 

222 John Casimir, 1 648-1 669 [ch. 

betskoi's hands \ in August he defeated Prince Janus Radziwill 
at Szepielwica ; and Mohilew surrendered to Polklowski, who 
hesitated to accept the allegiance of the Catholic inhabitants 
** because they were not Christians." The ill-provided fortress 
of Smolensk, whose feeble garrison of 2000 men found it 
impossible to defend the immense circuit of the walls for more 
than a couple of months, opened its gates on October 4. 
Towards the end of the year Witebsk also accepted a Moscovite 
garrison. In the Ukraine, Theodore Buturlin, sent thither to 
co-operate with Chmielnicki against the Khan of the Crimea, 
who had definitely broken with the Cossacks after their 
surrender to Moscovy, could do little, owing to the friction 
between his troops and the Zaporozhians. Moreover the 
barbarities of the Moscovite soldiers so revolted the Lithu- 
anians that many of the surrendered towns returned to their 
former allegiance. In January 1655 occurred the first Mos- 
covite disanter, when a combined Polish-Tatar host almost 
annihilattnl Shoron\etev*s army at Ochmatow; whereupon the 
pious THHr, who htul done his utmost to preserve the discipline 
and pimiNh Iho oxoo«8CS of his troops, deemed it expedient to 
return to Monrow to pray before the ikons of the Mother of 
(lod, visit \W rolioM of the saints, and comfort the Boyars and 
piM»pK» by his pivwMUV* Hy the time he returned to Smolensk 
tl\t' Polos woto WW longvr dangerous. 

\\\ the stHt\t\UM* of i^SS, Charles X of Sweden, from sheer 
lust Ml \Mtu|tti^st» fonvd ft war upon reluctant and inoffensive 
IS»lt\iul yWw NVrt« t\o real cause of quarrel between the two 
rttut^t\h'S \W ttttoo of Stuhmsdorf had still six years to run ; 
\\\\\\, ^\\\yy lis 0Mhvhl»tiM\ in 1635, Poland had carefully avoided 
»'MM\mMIIM\^ rtllV m^t of war against Sweden. The religious 
\s\y\\\\ WX'K rtUllul tttui hypocritical. Poland never showed 
\\\y Iv^rtsl vlls|H^*»ltiM»t to Join any Catholic league except for the 
|Utmv*svi \\\ \\^\\\\\^ tho Turks; and Christians of every shade 
PltJMYvi^t Hb»»uhltv» H'ltgioUH liberty within her borders. Charles's 
owh tlittPtVttt*^ with Poland were insignificant and easily 

xi] Charles X of Sweden invades Poland 223 

adjustable. He could have converted the truce into a per- 
manent peace practically on his own terms ; but he wanted war^ 
and, after abruptly rejecting equitable conditions for a settle- 
ment presented to him by an extraordinary Polish embassy, 
expressly sent to Stockholm for the purpose, he fell upon Poland, 
in July 1655, with an army of 60,000 men, largely composed 
of veteran desperados, ex-soldiers of fortune, whom the close of 
the Thirty Years' War had left without occupation and who 
rallied with alacrity to the standard of this new condottiere, 

Radziejowski's well-paid emissaries had prepared the way 
for him. The palatines of Kalisch and Posen, to whom, in the 
absence of any regular army, the Sejtn had committed the 
defence of the northern provinces, were the personal enemies 
of the King and therefore the personal friends of Radziejowski. 
They had raised 24,000 men, who occupied a strong position 
among the marshes of the Netze. At the first summons these 
treacherous and craven commanders placed themselves beneath 
the protection of the Swedish King (July 25) ; and the Swedes 
occupied Great Poland without opposition. Charles himself, 
meanwhile, was marching upon Warsaw. At Opoczno, John 
Casimir courageously attempted to stay his progress ; but the 
disastrous result convinced him that the Poles were too 
demoralised to fight, even for their country; and he fled to 
Silesia, accompanied by the Queen and a small group of loyal 
senators. Profiting by the cataclysm which had swept the 
Polish State out of existence, the Moscovites, unopposed, 
quickly appropriated nearly everything not already occupied by 
the Swedes. In July, Wilna was taken ; in August fell Lublin 
and Kowno ; in September Grodno ; while Chmielnicki devas- 
tated Galicia and blackmailed Lemberg, and Volkonski ravaged 
all that remained to be ravaged in central Poland, burning the 
towns of Dawuidow, Stolin and Pinsk on his way, and leisurely 
returning to Moscovy, at the beginning of October, encumbered 
with booty, without losing a man. By this time, Charles X 
had captured Cracow, though valiantly defended for two months 

224 John Casimir, 1648-1669 [ch. 

by Stephen Czarniecki, Castellan of Kiev — the only Polish 
dignitary who did his duty at this crisis — who was allowed to 
march out with all the honours of war (October 17), and joined 
John Casimir at Glogau. On the other hand, the Lithuanian 
Grand Hetman, Prince Janus Radziwill, a Calvinist, had al- 
ready, by the compact of Kiejdani, August 18, acknowledged 
Charles X as his suzerain in the hope of carving a principality 
out of the ruins of his country. He now proclaimed himself 
"Grand Hetman of the Swedish Crown and of the Grand 
Duchy of Lithuania." Thus the ruin of Catholic Poland 
seemed to have been compassed by the unnatural union of 
Orthodox Moscovites, Calvinists, and Lutherans. 

But the end of Poland was not yet; indeed, before the 
disastrous year 1655, was out, her deliverance had already 
begun. The first gleam of hope came from a quarrel between 
the Moscovites and the Swedes. At the end of August, Tsar 
Alexis warmly protested against the assumption by Janus 
Radziwill of titles unknown before. "Lithuania hath never 
belonged to Sweden," the Tsar's envoy justly observed. But 
Charles, with characteristic nonchalance, ignored the very 
existence of the Tsar. Not only did he take away Lithuanian 
towns from the Moscovites and give them to Radziwill, but he 
entered into direct negotiations with the Elector of Branden- 
burg, Chmielnicki, and George Rak6czy II, Prince of Transyl- 
vania, for the partitioning of Poland among them. This 
fantastic project was also a great diplomatic blunder, and 
excited equal apprehension at Vienna, Moscow and Stambul. 
Moreover, Austria regarded Charles as the natural ally of her 
rival France, for the triumph of Charles in Poland meant the 
triumph of Mazarin. In October, two Imperial commissioners, 
Allegretti and Losbach, were sent to Moscow, and arranged a 
suspension of hostilities between Moscovy and Poland. In 
December the Swedish envoys, who had arrived previously, 
were detained as prisoners ; and a Moscovite embassy was sent 
to Copenhagen to make common cause with the Danes against 

xi] The recovery of Poland 225 

the King of Sweden " who was known to be aiming at the sole 
dominion of the Varangian Sea\" The final results of all this 
diplomatic activity was a declaration of war against Sweden by 
Tsar Alexis, at the end of May 1656, and an offensive and 
defensive alliance between the new Emperor, Leopold I, and 
John Casimir, on May 27, 1657, Austria placing 17,000 men 
at the service of the Polish King. 

Simultaneously, an extraordinary reaction had begun in 
Poland itself. On October 18, the Swedes invested the fortress 
monastery of Czenstochowa, which was to Poland what the 
Troitsa Monastery was to Moscovy. The place was defended 
as valiantly by the prior Augustin Kordecki, as the Troitsa 
had been, half a century before, by the Archimandrite Dionysius; 
and the result was the same — victory and a national uprising. 
For seventy days Czenstochowa defied all the efforts of 
Swedish skill and courage ; and, on December 27, the besiegers 
were obliged to raise the siege after suffering very heavily. 
This success, so astounding that it was popularly attributed to 
divine intervention, sent a thrill through Poland, and elicited a 
burst of popular enthusiasm which spread through all ranks of 
the population and gave the war a national and religious 
character. The tactlessness of Charles, the rapacity of his 
generals, the barbarity of his mercenaries, his refusal to legalise 
his position by summoning a Sejm^ his negotiations for parti- 
tioning the very State he affected to befriend, and the ruinous 
contributions levied upon the gentry, awoke the long slumber- 
ing spirit of the country. The first visible sign of this general 
reaction was the Confederation of Tyszowiec (Dec. 29) formed 
by the Hetmans, Potocki, and Lanckoronski, for the defence 
of *'the King, the Faith, and Freedom." Another similar 
Confederation, in Lithuania, under Paul Sapieha andGonsiewski, 
besieged and captured Janus Radziwill in his castle at Tychocin, 
where he died on the last day of 1655. Thus when, at the 
beginning of 1656, John Casimir returned from his Silesian 
' The Baltic. 
B. • 15 

226 John Casimir, 1648- 1669 [ch. 

exile, he was able to attract all the patriotic elements in the 
country to his standard. On April i, 1656, he entered Lemberg 
in triumph, and, at a solemn service in the cathedral, placed 
himself and Poland beneath the protection of the Blessed 
Virgin, vowing publicly to use every effort to re-establish and 
reform the Republic and make it a strong and stable State. 
Against such a national resurrection all the military genius 
of Charles X could avail little. Only by a series of more and 
more disadvantageous alliances with the Great Elector was he 
able to make head against the Poles at all. The heroic 
campaign of 1656, memorable for the capture of Thorn and 
Elbing, the victory at Golenba over Czarniecki, the miraculous 
retreat from Jaroslawl to Warsaw amidst three converging 
armies, and the great three days' battle of Warsaw (July 18-20), 
when Charles with only 18,000 Swedes and Prussians defeated 
John Casimir's army of 100,000, was altogether fruitless. The 
subsequeut victories of the indefatigable Czarniecki at Radom 
and Rawa, and the suspicious attitude of Frederick William, 
compelled the Swedish King at last to open negotiations with 
Poland through the French ambassador Des Lumbr^s. But the 
Poles were now confident enough to refuse Sweden's terms, and 
the war was resumed. In the spring of 1657, George Rak6czy, 
with a horde of 60,000 semi-barbarians, joined 17,000 Swedish 
veterans at Sandomir ; but the solitary success of the raid was 
the capture of Bresc Litewsk ; and, on the departure of Charles, 
Rak6czy was driven headlong out of Poland by Czarniecki and 
forced to pay a war indemnity of 1,200,000 gulden to the 
Republic. On August 15, died Chmielnicki, thus removing 
for a time the Cossack peril. Finally, Brandenburg was detached 
from the Swedish alliance by the compact of Wilawa, releasing 
the Elector from the obligation of doing homage to the Polish 
Crown for East Prussia, which was henceforth to be inde- 
pendent of the Republic. By the subsequent compact of 
Bydgoszcz hs agreed to place 5000 men at the disposal of 
John Casimir in return for a small cession of territory, and the 

xi] The Polish victories, 1660-61 227 

temporary mortgage of Elbing. With the Cossacks, also, a 
better understanding was arrived at. The Cossack officers, 
accustomed to boundless licence under the loose Polish rule, 
had already begun to chafe at the more stringent discipline of 
the Moscovites ; and, on the death of Chmielnicki, they elected 
as their Hetman a Lithuanian gentleman, Wyhowski, who con- 
cluded with the Republic the compact of Hadziacz (Sept. 11, 
1658). By this compact, the palatinates of Braclaw, Kiev and 
Chernigov were created into a semi-independent principality, 
under Polish suzerainty, with Wyhowski as its first ruler; a 
general amnesty was proclaimed ; and the Metropolitan of Kiev 
and his diocesans were recognised de jure as Polish senators. 
But the rank and file of the Cossacks, together with the 
orthodox clergy, opposed the arrangement; and, though 
Wyhowski routed them and their Moscovite allies at the 
bloody battle of Konotop (July 8, 1659), he was ultimately 
obliged to resign the Hetmanship and retire to Poland. 

Step by step the Republic was emerging from its difficulties. 
On May 3, 1660, Poland accepted the mediation of Louis XIV 
and composed her differences with Sweden by the Peace of 
Oliva, whereby Sweden renounced all her conquests except 
northern Livonia. Simultaneously, the long-pending negotia- 
tions with the Moscovites, whose minimum demands were 
Lithuania and war expenses, came to an end, and the war was 
resumed. During 1660 and 1661, the Poles were everywhere 
victorious. In the north Czarniecki and Sapieha routed the 
Moscovites at Lachowicz and Bazya and advanced as far as 
Polock ; while, in the south, Stanislaus Potocki and George 
Lubomirsky routed the Cossacks at Slobodyszcz, and captured 
the Moscovite general Sheremetev and his whole army in their 
entrenched camp at Chudnow. The Moscovites thereupon 
hastily abandoned Kiev, Pereyaslavl, Chernigov and all their 
other conquests in the Russian provinces of Poland. In the 
autumn of 1661, the Tsar's army was seriously defeated at 
Zeromsk, with the loss of 19,000 men, 10 cannons, and all its 

228 John Casimir, 164B-1669 [cH. 

standards. B^ort the reai was om, Grodno, Mohilew and ^Hbu 
wert recoi-ered bv the Poles ; and Lithiiama was al-mnct swept 
ckar of the icTader. In the conrse of 1662, liie Moscorites, 
now in sore distress, sued for peace, but their terns were cmtiy 
rejected Howerei; both Powers were now becoming fTK«TT<j^ 
by ^ht interminable strife : andL in the coarse of 1665. PoSand 
reopened negotiations. On June 12^ 1664. a peace ccn^iiess 
met at Dnroricha, when the Poles demanded the resritutioBi of 
aJd the Russian conquests and the payment of a war indemnitj 
of 10 minions of guldei, terms whidi the Moscoritc pleni- 
potentiaries refused to entertain. At the end of 1666, a 
sescood peace congress met at the \-illage of Andmscoxv between 
Smolensk and Mstislavl ; and, on February 11, 1667, a truce 
for thirteen years was finally agreed ta Witebsk. Polock, and 
south Livonia were restored by Moscovy, which was to retain 
Smolensk, Sieweiz. Chernigov, and Kiev for two years, and tbe 
whole eastern side of the Dnieper, the territory thus acquired 
including not only the land lost by the treaty of Deulino. but a 
laige tract north of Chernigov, between the Dnieper and tbe 
affluents of the Don, containing the towns of Konoiop. Gadyacli, 
Pere>-aslavL Xo>-gorod S\'A'ersk, Poliax-a and Irx-um, adding ten 
millions of rubles to the annual revenue of the Tsar. Tbe 
Cossacks of the Dnieper were to be under the joint dominion 
of the Tsar and the King of Poland, whose territories tbey 
were to defend. The two Powers also covenanted to restrain 
the Cossacks from rebelling against either of ihem, or engaging 
n piracy on the Black Sea, and to repel any invasion of die 
Ukraine by the Khan of the Crimea. 

The nominal "truce'* of Andrusovo proved to be one of 
the most durable peaces in histor>\ though, but for the per- 
sistent ill-luck of Poland, at this period, it is doubuul whether 
it would ever have been signed at all While the negotiations 
were still proceeding with Moscovy, the new Ctv>s;iok Hetman, 
Doroshenko, the nominee of the Turks, ra\^<.\i Poland as fiir 
as Lemberg and Lublin with bestial ferocity, carrying off more 

xi] Projected reform of the Polish Constitution 229 

than 100,000 captives, while the simultaneous warlike prepara- 
tions of the famous Grand Vizier, Achmet Koprili, drove the 
Republic to solicit help from all the Western Powers. Yet 
these were but transient dangers. At the root of the collapse 
of Poland was the ceaselessly gnawing worm of aristocratic 
lawlessness. The Szlachta^ untaught by the most terrible 
experiences, were now wilfully to reject a last opportunity of 
putting their house in order, rather than part with the most 
mischievous of their inordinate privileges. 

John Casimir never abandoned the idea of reforming the 
Constitution. The thirteen years' war with the Moscovites had 
taught him, however, that the Cossacks were useless for his 
purposes. Henceforth he meditated carrying out his plan by 
diplomatic and legislative methods. The first step was to make 
the Crown hereditary instead of elective and thus obviate the 
anarchy which prevailed, more or less, during every inter- 

At first, indeed, the Polish dignitaries themselves, appalled 
at the sight of the abyss to the edge of which the Swedish war 
had dragged them, took the matter of constitutional reform 
seriously in hand. The Diet of 1658 appointed a commission 
to report upon the expediency of limiting the liberum veto and 
deciding all matters by a plurality of votes. The commission 
reported to the Diet of 1659 that such reforms were indispen- 
sable; and the Diet of 1660 was preparing to carry them out 
when, through the intrigues of the Austrian Minister Lisoli, the 
whole matter was referred to the following Diet. 

It was now that " the succession question " came to the front. 
The Queen proposed to marry her niece to the Duke d'Enghien, 
son of the great Conde, who, supported by all the influence of 
France, was to be the last elective and the first hereditary King 
of Poland. Maria Ludovika had already persuaded many of 
the leading magnates to join "the French Party," which 
included such names as Stephen Czarniecki, John Sobieski, 
now rising to eminence, the royal referendary, Andrew Morsztyn, 

230 John Casimir^ i648'-i669 [cH. 

the leaders of the Lithuanians, Christopher and Michael Pac, 
and many more, when the project was ruined by the Lord- 
Marshal and Vice- Het man of the Crown, Lubomirsky. 

George Lubomirsky was a much more ' respectable mal- 
content than Hieronymus Radziejowski. He had rendered 
such eminent services to his country during the Swedish and 
Russian Wars as to justify the Grand-Chancellor acclaiming 
him as ** Father of the Fatherland '' in full Diet. At first he 
acceded to "the French Party,'* hoping to be able to control it 
absolutely ; but, jealous of the superior influence of Czarniecki 
and Sobieski, he as quickly turned against the d'Enghien 
election project, though it had already received the sanction of 
the Senate ( 1 66 1 ). By dint of the most unscrupulous agitation, 
Lubomirsky and his partisans easily persuaded the Diet to 
condemn any alteration of the existing mode of election and 
inspired the Szlachta with such a suspicion of the Court, that 
it refused to contribute a penny to avert the threatened 
economical ruin of the country caused by a war which had 
reduced the best part of Poland to a wilderness. Not one 
penny would the 500,000 landed proprietors, pleading their 
privileges as noblemen, consent to pay out of their own 
pockets ; but they levied a poll-tax on the poorest sections of 
the community, the townsmen, artisans, shepherds, millers and 
yeomen, to meet the demands of the unpaid and starving army, 
which claimed 26,000,000 gulden of arrears. The wretched 
taxpayers broke down under the strain, and the result was a 
dangerous military mutiny which took the form of Confedera- 
tions in Poland and Lithuania, levying blackmail on the estates 
of the bishops and clergy throughout the realm, and refusing 
to disperse until their claims had been satisfied. Far from 
attempting to mend matters, the Diet of 1662 re-affirmed the 
right of free election, condemned as traitors all who should 
dare to elect a future King during the lifetime of the reigning 
sovereign, levied a fresh poll-tax on the plebeian classes, and 
actually took measures to rehabilitate the scoundrel Radziejow- 

xi] The rebellion of Lubomirsky 231 

ski. A period of bewildering confusion ensued. Fresh 
Confederations were formed ; Lubomirsky pretended to mediate 
between the Court and the rebels, while forming a host of his 
own; and the King, driven to desperation, took the field 
against him. The rival armies were already face to face at 
Buichnal, near Jaworow, when the Bishops intervened and 
brought about a formal reconciliation ; but, at the Diet of 1664, 
the King demanded the impeachment of Lubomirsky for Ihe- 
majestS, and he was sentenced to loss of life, honour and goods 
by a tribunal appointed by the Sejm itself. But it was a long 
way from sentence to execution. Lubomirsky fled to Breslau, 
which he made a centre of rebellion ; and when, at the second 
extraordinary Diet of 1664, the King was proceeding to 
distribute the vacated dignities of Lord-Marshal and Vice- 
Hetman of the crown to Sobieski and Stanislaus Jablonowski 
respectively. Pan Los, the deputy for Plock, interposed his veto 
and exploded the Diet. The ex-Vice-Hetman thereupon left 
Breslau, established himself in Lithuania, and collected a fresh 
army. John Casimir marched against him, and a civil war 
ensued in which the unlucky King was almost invariably 
worsted, till the bishops again intervened. By the compact 
of Lengonice, July 31, 1666, Lubomirsky and his adherents 
obtained a full amnesty, the discomfited monarch undertaking 
to pay the troops. 

The sudden death of Lubomirsky from apoplexy (January 
31, 1667), came too late to improve the situation. The Diet 
of 1667 rejected all the proposals of the King, who, shortly 
afterwards, lost his energetic and resourceful consort. Since 
1658, Maria Ludovika had been the soul of the French party, 
which collapsed at her death. John Casimir never recovered 
from the crushing blow. On September 16, 1668 he abdicated 
and retired to France, where he died on December 16, 1672. 
His valedictory address to his subjects rightly threw the 
responsibility for his failure on their lawlessness, and mourn- 
fully predicted the speedy ruin of the Republic which he had 
done his best to save. 

232 John Casimir, 1648-1669 [cH. 

Moscovy had suffered almost as much as Poland from the 
horrors of the thirteen years' war, but her troubles were not 
yet over. Barely six months after the conclusion of the truce 
of Andrusovo, which brought some respite to the Republic, the 
Tsardom had to encounter a terrible rebellion of the Cossacks 
of the Volga and the Don, a rebellion which might have been 
as damaging to Moscovy as Chmielnicki's rebellion had been 
to Poland but for the lucky accident that it devastated her 
eastern instead of her western borders. Here, unlike Poland 
she had no powerful neighbours to take advantage of her 

The Cossacks, as we have seen, were a perpetual trouble 
both to the Polish Republic and the Moscovite Tsardom, 
principally because of their proximity to Mussulman territory 
which these orthodox vikings, despite the warnings and pro- 
hibitions of King and Tsar, regarded as their natural prey. 
The usual mode of procedure of the Moscovite Cossacks 
was to sail down the Don into the Sea of Azov, and thence 
into the Black Sea; but when, in the middle of the 17th 
century, the Khan of the Crimea closed this outlet by building 
forts on the lower Don, the Cossacks took to sailing down the 
Volga into the Caspian Sea instead. When the Moscovite 
Government attempted to put a stop to these raids by guarding 
the mouths of the Volga, the Cossacks dispersed inland, 
established themselves in a fortress amidst the marshes of the 
upper Don, inaccessible except in winter, which they called 
Riga, and plundered all the vessels sailing down the Volga, 
along 170 miles of its course, from Tsaritsuin to Saratov. This 
went on from 1659 to 1665, when the local governors prevailed 
over the robbers, and the new Riga, which had become a vast 
depository for stolen property, was attacked and destroyed. 

But, in the summer of 1667, a much more formidable 

malefactor suddenly appeared on the scene. This was the 

Cossack Stenka^ Razin, whom we first hear of, in 1661, on a 

' diplomatic mission to the Calmuck Tatars, and whom we meet, 

* Steevy. 

xi] Stenka Razin 233 

in the autumn of the same year, on a pilgrimage of a thousand 
miles to the Solovetsky monastery on the White Sea. After 
that all trace of him is lost for six years; but, in 1667, the 
governors of Astrakhan received a warning from the Tsar that 
a multitude of Cossacks, well provided with arms and ammuni- 
tion, had settled in the district. The leader of this robber 
community was the ex-pilgrim Stenka. Fixing his head-quarters 
at the village of Panshinsko^ between the rivers Tishina and 
Ilovla, amidst an inaccessible waste of waters, he deliberately 
set himself to levy blackmail on all the vessels passing up and 
down the Volga. His first exploit was to attack, overwhelm, 
and disperse the *' Water-Caravan " consisting of the Govern- 
ment treasury-barge, the barge of the Patriarch, and the corn- 
barges of the rich Moscovy merchant Svorin which were sailing 
down the river to Astrakhan. Next, he sailed down the Volga 
himself with a flotilla of 35 strugp levying blackmail, as he 
passed, on the fortress of Tsaritsuin, devastating the country 
far and wide, and capturing the fortress of Yaitsk by a stratagem. 
In November, the same year, he scornfully rejected an offer of 
a free pardon from the Tsar if he would lay down his arms. 
At the beginning of 1668 he defeated the Tsar's general, Yakov 
Bezobrazov, and, in the spring of the same year, he embarked 
on an enterprise which relieved Moscovy of his presence for 
eighteen months. Sailing into the Caspian, he ravaged the 
Persian coasts from Derbend to Baku. On reaching Resht he 
offered his services to the Shah ; but an act of treachery of the 
people of Resht, who surprised and slew four hundred of his 
followers, induced him to extirpate the defenceless and unsus- 
pecting inhabitants of the wealthy town of Farabat and establish 
himself, during the spring of 1669, on the isle of Suina, whence 
he could conveniently raid the mainland. Here, in July, a 
Persian fleet, with 4000 men on board, attacked Razin but was 
annihilated, only three ships escaping. 

^ The large, flat-bottomed boats used by the Cossacks on their maritime 

234 John Casimir, 1 648-1 669 [ch. 

Stenka was now a potentate with whom monarchs need not 
disdain to treat. In August, 1669, he appeared in Astrakhan, 
and magnanimously accepted a fresh offer of pardon from the 
Tsar. Stenka then remained at Astrakhan and speedily became 
the hero and the marvel of the city. The common people, 
whose dull, monotonous life was one ceaseless round of bitter 
toil, were fascinated by the sight of this fairy-tale paladin and 
his comrades, fresh from their romantic, oriental adventures, 
swaggering about the bazaars, arrayed in atlas caftans and 
jewelled caps, scattering their sequins broadcast, and selling 
priceless oriental silks at 9^. a pound. He was so different from 
the officials of the Tsar who lived on the sweat and blood of 
the people and treated them like dirt. He had a good word 
for every one and feasted the people night and day like a 
Prince. What booty might not be won at next to no risk 
under such a batyushka^} If, as we are told, prosperous 
merchants on the Don frequently cast their ordinary pursuits 
to the winds to join in the more lucrative speculation of an 
ordinary Cossack raid, how much greater must have been the 
fascination of an expedition under a chieftain who levied 
blackmail on Shah and Tsar alike ? Such an adventurer could 
always count upon the peasantry, who were of the same stock 
as himself, as well as upon the ordinary Cossack. Finally, we 
must remember that the semi-Asiatic ** Kingdom of Astrakhan^" 
where the whole atmosphere was predatory, and nine-tenths of 
the population were nomadic, was the natural milieu for such a 
rebellion as Stenka's. 

In the circumstances, the Moscovite government should 
have rid itself of Stenka at the first opportunity, but they took 
no active measures against him till he had committed several 
flagrant acts of rebellion, such as the looting of Tsaritsuin, the 
building of the fortress of Kagalnik on the Don, and the whole- 

1 ** Little Father." 

'-^ **Tsar of Astrakhan" is still one of the many titles of the Russian 

xi] Razins rebellion 235 

sale massacring and plundering of the districts of Tula and 
Voronezh. The peasantry now flocked to him from every 
quarter; and in 1670 he was strong enough to capture both the 
fortress and the town of Tsaritsuin and defeat the Government 
troops in two engagements. He then proceeded against 
Astrakhan ; and on January 24, 1670, the Volgan capital was in 
his hands. 

Master of Astrakhan, Razin at once converted it into a 
Cossack Republic, dividing the inhabitants into thousands, 
hundreds and tens, with their proper officers, all of whom were 
appointed by a VyechCy or General Assembly, whose first act was 
to proclaim Razin their Gosudar. The better classes were then 
hunted out and massacred, and their widows and daughters 
given in marriage to the Cossack rabble, Razin's official seal 
serving in lieu of the blessing of the Archbishop. 

After a three weeks' carnival of blood and debauchery, 
Stenka turned his attention to affairs of State, and, leaving his 
lieutenant Vaska Us in charge of Astrakhan, set out with 200 
barges, escorted by 2000 horsemen, to establish the Cossack 
Republic along the whole length of the Volga, as a preliminary 
step toward advancing against Moscow. Saratov and Samara 
were captured, and the Cossack rule was inaugurated, with the 
usual ceremonies ; but at Smolensk, the Boyar, Ivan Miloslavsky, 
held Stenka at bay for twenty-four hours, thus enabling the 
Government to rally its forces ; and, on the banks of the Sviyaga, 
after two bloody encounters (October i and 4), Prince Yury 
Baryatinsky routed Razin, who fled away down the Volga, 
leaving the bulk of his followers to be extirpated by the victors. 

But the rebellion was by no means over. The emissaries 
of Razin, armed with inflammatory proclamations, had stirred 
up the inhabitants of the modern governments of Nizhny 
Novgorod, Tambov, and Penza ; and soon, over the whole of 
the vast region extending between the Volga, the Oka, and 
the Dwina, a jacquerie was raging. The unspeakable horrors 
of the interregnum of 1611-1613, and of Chmielnicki's rising 

234 John Casimir, 1 648-1 669 [ch. 

Stenka was now a potentate with whom monarchs need not 
disdain to treat. In August, 1669, he appeared in Astrakhan, 
and magnanimously accepted a fresh offer of pardon from the 
Tsar. Stenka then remained at Astrakhan and speedily became 
the hero and the marvel of the city. The common people, 
whose dull, monotonous life was one ceaseless round of bitter 
toil, were fascinated by the sight of this fairy-tale paladin and 
his comrades, fresh from their romantic, oriental adventures, 
swaggering about the bazaars, arrayed in atlas caftans and 
jewelled caps, scattering their sequins broadcast, and selling 
priceless oriental silks at 9^. a pound. He was so different from 
the officials of the Tsar who lived on the sweat and blood of 
the people and treated them like dirt. He had a good word 
for every one and feasted the people night and day like a 
Prince. What booty might not be won at next to no risk 
under such a batyushka}! If, as we are told, prosperous 
merchants on the Don frequently cast their ordinary pursuits 
to the winds to join in the more lucrative speculation of an 
ordinary Cossack raid, how much greater must have been the 
fascination of an expedition under a chieftain who levied 
blackmail on Shah and Tsar alike ? Such an adventurer could 
always count upon the peasantry, who were of the same stock 
as himself, as well as upon the ordinary Cossack. Finally, we 
must remember that the semi-Asiatic ** Kingdom of Astrakhan V* 
where the whole atmosphere was predatory, and nine-tenths of 
the population were nomadic, was the natural milieu for such a 
rebellion as Stenka's. 

In the circumstances, the Moscovite government should 
have rid itself of Stenka at the first opportunity^ but tht-y took 
no active measures against him till he had committed several 
flagrant acts of rebellion, such as the looting of Tsaritsuin, the 
building of the fortress of Kagalnik on the Don, and tht: whr-ir- 

1 ** Little Father/' 
'^ ** Tsar of Astrakhan 



\ng the 

iniii:ks wi^n: 


; Hhutskf 

I'-^d on thi 

\^iei yi*rit or 

[y Rofiigtn 
if fkiichsml 
r rirc-»nnv 

: or pdtJi. But 

iont Ills bf 

end of tlie 

atmcJc of the 

riHpruid Ruivian 

I a tal« TfAx^hk 

11. Not till 14^74 

iHimrdiing lilie 

y, vihtt fvccmAfDy 

i^Umliafi settle^ 

4^'iih the Cftlmuclti, 

;uefis in the ftmousm 

1 bfoodf mr^ft^ the 

: ■. ir=>ci the 
c Shilka ftod the 
and coloottiDg m efcry 

238 John Casintir, 1 648-1 669 [ch. 

direction. In 1648, Simeon Desnev, sailing from the mouth 
of the Koluimna in search of new lands, was the first success- 
fully to navigate the north-eastern coast of Asia and sail 
through the narrow strait separating the Chucotch peninsula 
from the isle of St Laurence, into the northern Pacific, thus 
anticipating the navigator Bering by sixty years. Rumours of 
silver and gold mines, and of corn in abundance, attracted the 
Moscovites to the Amur. The first explorer of these regions 
was Vasily Poyarkov, sent from Yakutsk, in 1643, in search of 
fresh yasak. Sailing down the rivers Shilka, Ziya, Lina, Aldan, 
and their tributaries, he entered the Amur unwittingly, taking 
it to be a continuation of the Shilka. After wintering at the 
mouth of the Amur, he returned to Yakutsk, bringing rich 
stores of sables with him and recommending the occupation of 
the Amur district, which he reported to be rich and populous, 
abounding with corn, pelts, and fat rivers. Another pioneer, 
Erothei Khabarov, explored the Amur by way of the rivers 
Lekhma, Tagir and Ukra. He discovered three or four vast 
deserted cities and reported that the Amur was even richer in 
fish than the Volga, while round about it lay lush meadows, 
rich cornfields, and "large dark forests full of sables." In 1650 
Khabarov occupied the fort of Albazin. But the aborigines, 
who were already the tributaries of China, refused to give yasak 
to the Tsar; and in 1652 Khabarov was attacked, in his winter 
quarters at Ashansk, by a large Manchurian army under a 
Chinese viceroy, and obliged to fight his way back into 
Moscovite territory. In 1653, Onifry Stepanov was appointed 
governor of the Amur district, and, in 1654, he undertook an 
expedition down the river; but, though, in March, 1655, ^^ 
defeated 10,000 Chinese on the river Kamara, a southern 
confluent of the Amur, he was ultimately starved out of the 
country, the Chinese Emperor having ordered an exodus from 
Manchuria of the entire corn-growing population. 

Diplomatic efforts to bring about intercourse with China 
proved equally unsuccessful. Theodore Baikov, sent from 

xi] Intercourse with China 239 

Tobolsk to Pekin (i 654-1 656) was refused admittance to the 
imperial presence because he declined to deliver his credentials 
except in person. In 1675, the Moldavian Greek, Nikola 
Gavril Spafari, to whom we owe the earliest Russian account of 
China, Japan and Corea, was sent to the Bogduichan, or 
Chinese Emperor, to open commercial relations. He reached 
Pekin on May 16, 1676, and succeeded, with the assistance 
of the Jesuits, in obtaining two audiences. Nevertheless 
Spafari's mission proved to be as fruitless as Baikov's. Try as 
he would, he could not obtain a reply from the Bogduichan to 
the Tsar. His presents were accepted as "tribute," and he 
was told not to be surprised thereat, as this was the ancient 
and immutable custom of the Chinese Court. 


THE AGE OF SOBIESKI, 1669-1696. 

The abdication of John Casimir once more exposed Poland 
to all the inconveniences of "a free election." For nearly a 
century the throne had been quasi-hereditary in the Vasa- 
Jagiello family, for no one had seriously disputed the right of 
the next heir to succeed Sigismund III and Wladislaus IV. 
But John Casimir was the last of his race, and all his efforts to 
establish a new dynasty of foreign origin had failed. His 
policy was resumed, however, after his retirement, by the 
principal Senators, headed by John Sobieski, upon whom the 
late King, a few months before his disappearance, had conferred 
the grand b&ton of the Crown, as a reward for Sobieski^s brilliant 
victory over the Cossack Hetman Doroshenko and his Turko- 
Tatar hordes, at Podhajie — a victory which, for a brief period, 
re-established the authority of Poland in the Ukraine. The 
Grand-Hetman and his friends had been won over by French 
gold, lavishly scattered with both hands, to support any 
candidate whom Louis XIV might think it worth his while to 
produce; but the mass of the Szlachta was opposed on 
principle to any and every foreign candidate. These ignorant 
but well-meaning country gentlemen, when they saw nearly all 
the dignitaries of the Republic in the pay of foreign Powers 
(for Austria and Brandenburg, in their efforts to form their 
own parties, were almost as liberal as France), dimly felt that 
the Republic was in no good way. Unfortunately their efforts 

CH. xii] Election of Michael Wisniowiecki 241 

to stay the progress of foreign influence and foreign corruption 
were so ill-directed, that their intervention, though momentarily 
successful, did more harm than good to their unfortunate 

The Convocation Diet, that is the Diet which convoked the 
Election Diet, assembled on October 16, 1668. Its tone was 
violently national. Its first demand was that all the foreign 
ministers should withdraw from the capital; and one of its 
members, the starosta Piencanzek, required every member of 
the Senate to swear that he would accept no bribe from any 
foreign Potentate. Even the Primate was suspected. The 
Bishop of Posen openly accused him of having received 50,000 
thalers from the French ambassador. The meeting of the 
Election Diet was fixed for May 2, 1669, on which occasion 
80,000 electors assembled in full panoply. Sobieski brought 
1 2,000 armed retainers with him, and the other magnates were 
similarly supported. Once more, as of old, the field of election 
resembled a field of battle. 

Up to the last moment the greatest uncertainty prevailed 
as to who should be elected. Most of the magnates were the 
mercenaries of Louis XIV ; but, as the French King vacillated 
between the Prince of Condd and Philip William Duke of 
Neuburg, who had married a sister of Wladislaus IV, the French 
party was uncertain what course to pursue; and, at last, Sobieski 
went over to the Austrian candidate, Duke Charles of Lorraine. 
But the Szlachta were determined to elect none but a piast, or 
native Pole; and on June 19, the last day of the Diet, to the 
general astonishment, Michael Wisniowiecki was proclaimed 
King of Poland. 

Michael, the son of Prince Jeremiah Wisniowiecki, the 
famous queller of the Cossacks, had neither the material 
resources nor the personal qualities requisite for the exalted 
position to which a mere caprice had raised him. He had 
inherited from his father nothing but a ruined estate and an 
inordinate fondness for eating and drinking, so that his own 

B. 16 

242 The Age of Sobieski, 1669-1696 [ch. 

friends, after the excitement of the election was over, would 
have found it difficult to explain why they had elected him at 
all. Nevertheless, his intentions were good enough ; and, as the 
validity of his election was beyond dispute, the least he had a 
right to expect from his subjects was loyalty. But the Poles' 
were quite unlike other people. No sooner had the new King 
been solemnly crowned and affianced by his friends to the 
Archduchess Eleonora, daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand 
III, with the view of strengthening his position, than all the 
great dignitaries of the crown united in a conspiracy to dethrone 
him. At the head of this conspiracy stood the Primate and the 
Commander-in-chief, Sobieski. 

John Sobieski, the youngest son of James Sobieski, Castellan 
of Cracow, and Theofila, the grand-daughter of the great Crown- 
Hetman Zolkiewski, was born at Oleska in Galicia in 1624. 
He rose rapidly to distinction during the wars of John Casimir 
with the Cossacks, but was one of the first to desert his sovereign 
in the hour of misfortune. He materially assisted Charles X 
of Sweden to conquer the Prussian provinces, but perceiving, a 
few months later, that the position of the Swedes was unstable, 
he changed sides again and commanded one of the four armies 
which all but succeeded in capturing the Swedish King on his 
retreat from Jaroslaw to Warsaw. Henceforth John Casimir 
made it worth the capable young general's while to remain loyal. 
On the death of Czarniecki, in 1665, Sobieski succeeded him 
as Vice-Hetman of the Crown. He had already replaced 
Lubomirsky as Grand- Marshal, and in 1668 he received the 
grand b&ton of the Crown likewise. The same year he married 
his old love Mary Casimiera, the widow of Jan Zamoyski, 
Palatine of Sandomeria, and daughter of the Margrave Henri 
de la Grange d'Arquien. Born in France, in 1637, this 
beautiful and brilliant girl was educated in Poland at the 
Court of Queen Maria Ludowika, who initiated her into all the 
mysteries of political intrigue and spoiled her in the process ; 
for her essentially petty nature was incapable of taking a broad, 

xii] Intrtgtces of Sobieski 243 

detached view of politics, and sacrificed everything to the 
caprice of the moment. Her influence over her second 
husband was as absolute as it was mischievous ; and the hero 
of Chocim, whose very name inspired the Turks with terror, was, 
at home, the obsequious slave of his beloved " Marysienka." 

It will be plain, from the brief foregoing sketch, that 
Sobieski stood on a mu<;h lower level than the great captains 
of the two preceding generations, Zamoyski, Chodkiewicz, 
Zolkiewski, for instance. He had little or nothing of their 
sobriety, stability, and self-sacrificing devotion to duty. He 
could fight as well as the best of them, but he fought for his 
own hand. His patriotism was far less pure than theirs because 
it was inextricably bound up with egotism and self-seeking. 
Inestimable were his services to his country after he had 
mounted the throne, but he nearly ruined her in the process of 
getting there. As to his statesmanship, the most convincing 
demonstration of his utter lack of it is to be found in his hasty 
and ill-conceived combinations against King Michael from 
1669 to 1673. 

At the end of 1669, Louis XIV sent the Comte de Lionne 
to Warsaw to congratulate Wisniowiecki on his accession to the 
throne. Wisniowiecki was now connected by marriage (February 
26, 1670) with the Hapsburgs ; and at this juncture the French 
King, intent on an amicable settlement of the Spanish Succession 
question, had concluded a secret agreement with the Court of 
Vienna. Ignorant of this new combination, which ought to 
have been known to men of their high position, Sobieski and 
his friends at once jumped to the conclusion that Ljiuis was 
intriguing against the new King of Poland. They accordingly 
sent a private memorial to the French King inviting him to 
assist them to dethrone King Michael, whom, being a friend of 
Austria, Louis was, as a matter of fact, much more disposed to 
support. However, he humoured the malcontents at first and 
even allowed a new French pretender, the Count of Saint Pol 
Longueville, to send secret agents to Poland to form a party 

16 — 2 

244 '^^ ^S^ ^f Sobieskiy 1 669-1 696 [ch. 

there. At the beginning of 1670 Michael discovered the plot 
against him, and remonstrated energetically both at Versailles 
and at Vienna. Louis thereupon repudiated Longueville ; and 
the disconcerted conspirators sought refuge at Dantzic or 
Konigsberg, counting on the help of the Elector of Branden- 
burg. But the Elector held aloof; and nothing but the helpless- 
ness of the King saved Sobieski and his confederates from the 
well-deserved penalties of treason. Only one of the royal 
counsellors, Christopher Pac, Grand-Chancellor of Lithuania, had 
the courage to advise Michael to summon a ruszenie pospoliie 
and punish the traitors summarily. But Michael, who was no 
warrior, durst not pit the undisciplined levies of the country 
gentry against Sobieski's veterans, and allowed the Diet of 
September 1670 to effect a reconciliation. The rehabilitated 
Primate consented to crown the young Queen ; the King's 
uncle Demetrius Wisniowiecki married Sobieski's niece Teofila 
Ostrogska ; and the Grand-Hetman set out for the Ukraine to 
wash clean his tarnished honour in Turkish blood. 

At this time, the Turkish Empire, after a period of declension 
and disintegration lasting, roughly speaking, for 100 years, was 
once more directed by a man of genius in the person of Achmet 
K6priH, the most illustrious member of a family of soldier- 
statesmen, sprung from a hardy Albanian stock. From the 
moment when, at the unprecedently early age of 26, he 
succeeded his aged father Mohammed as Grand Vizier (1656), 
it was his ambition to re-establish the glor)- and prosperit)* of 
his countT)- ; and all Europe was, speedily, to feel the eflFects of 
that ambition. After reducing Transylvania to the rank of a 
Turkish fief, and adding fi\*e counties and as many first class 
fortresses to Turkish Hungar>' (Peace of Vas\-ar, August 1664), 
K5prili turned his anns against Venice, and began the memor- 
able sieg^ of Candia (1667- 1669), which, for the next two 
years, was to tax to the uttermost the resources of both 
belligerents, at the same time emplo>-ing the Tatars and 
CoBsacks to keep Poland occupied till he himself had the 

xii] The victories of Koprili 245 

leisure to take the field against her. At his command the 
Cossack Hetman Doroshenko invaded the Ukraine, but was 
routed at Kalniki by Sobieski, who, at the same time, re-captured 
Bar, Mohilew and other places. Instead, however, of following 
up his victories, the Grand-Hetman, with criminal recklessness, 
returned to Poland to plot once more against King Michael and 
put De Longueville on the Polish throne. The death of his 
candidate in the Dutch War and the indifference of Louis XIV, 
who replied coldly and evasively to Sobieski's urgent letters for 
assistance, caused the whole conspiracy to end in a fiasco. 

While the unhappy Polish King was painfully endeavouring 
to re-establish law and order, by force of arms, against his own 
commander-in-chief, Koprili burst suddenly into the territories 
of the Republic. During the spring of 1672 he collected a 
host "like the sands of the sea for number and like the stars of 
heaven for splendour " — in plain prose about 300,000 men— and 
carrying Sultan Mohammed along with him, to give prestige to 
the enterprise, invaded Podolia. As something very like civil 
war was, at that very moment, prevailing in Poland, and as, 
moreover, the last two Diets had refused to contribute a farthing 
towards the defence of the country, the issue of the struggle was 
never doubtful. After defeating Luzecki, Castellan of Podlesia, 
who commanded the Polish army during the absence of Sobi- 
eski, at Czetwertynowka, the Grand Vizier sat down before the 
great fortress of Kamieniec, the key of Podolia, which had been 
left with a small garrison of 1000 men and only four gunners to 
serve 400 guns. Within ten days (August 27) the keys were 
surrendered; and the Sultan attended a thanksgiving in the 
cathedral, now converted into a Mosque. Lemberg was only 
saved by the heroism of its commandant, Elias Lancki. Six weeks 
later (October 17, 1672), the Republic, by the treaty of Budziak, 
ceded the Polish Ukraine and Podolia, including Kamieniec, to 
the Turks, and agreed to pay them an annual tribute. 

Without doubt Sobieski was primarily responsible for this 
shameful treaty. Judging from later events, we may safely 

ifV/ yfu A^€ of Sof/Utki, l^/^f-l^ [CH. 

>/;^ i *hif}. 4 '/f,;/ V; io/t v>?f; if J //H yi^r^ plaot 2t ±ie proper 
<>/M, V.'44h>*^i**/ w'/v>i fyrv*T >xiiV*; f>t:<?r; tak*^ nor Podoiia 
*^^/#' r/4> /</J i/^ iuty 'Aii^'j '/^ifiXsy Jrjt Polaovi a commander- 
^f; ^ )/j^ i Yt\^, hif/i ^wj^A hi* jy/tt, in th*: hour of utmost 
4i$9^y/ 1, th ^/f'Uf V/ \/hy ui tr<AV>ri, would have besen prompdy 
i#///< ^M**ly i /^/ »i*i'/J. Kvc'fi in hAartd yf^iAihi opinion strongly 
#>/^;/|i ^of>i>J 0*^' ih'4tni iii^tfiSiii ; arjd it was with the consent erf" 
Om^^ umytniy '4 Oi<; nation tfiat the King now foimed a 
/ jfnU^Utuitoti Hi ('foU'h\/i which Att\>t^'A the Primate Prazmow- 
oki, iifHiUthU^A \Ui'. oth^jf iimU-jmuminf and introduced some 
iil)^hf 'oniitiftKJofml rtHonn hy limiting the operation of the 
lihfntm fifhf, (/fi^;rfuriati;ly, S^;bie«ki wa» now far too strong, 
fwi I'/o Jn'lJii|H'niiMl;l<f, to 1><; rcHtrained by any constitutional 
Miib. I'M/MI lh<' ,jnl fo till; 14th October he undertook his 
fMiMoim rMlfl into thr; Ukraine against the Tatars whom he 
iWU'i^wA f«/iir tiiiM'it in v\vyv.\\ <iayM, This exploit was generally 
\i%i\\Ain\ un "iin i'Kpliilion" of hin former misdeeds, and made 
hiMi *io popiihii thut| i)\\ \\\H ritiurn, he was permitted to do 
IMMlly mmmIi whiil hn llkr<l. I^'irnt he formed a Confederation 
mI \\\^ MWh Ml S/r/i'hi/fN/yn, which undid all the work of the 
u>|iiMiiiiiU ( 'nnli*cli*tation of (iolcnbi. Next he hastened to 
liiiwii^ III Ihi* HKhihIniU'c* of tht! Primate, scattering the royal 
lhiM|m tin hU way, and lUril his head-ciuartcrs at the Primate's 
h«nlili«in n, In Ihiratnung pn)ximity to Warsaw. 

In lhi> mlilM i>f oxtrtMur lonsion the Diet assembled on 
luhUiMV b loy^v Aguin llu* King was obliged to give way. 
rh»> d»M hM»n \\\ iho t \uUodrrution of Ciolonbi were revoked ; the 
\\\\\ aulh^MUv ol Iho i»uhd llrtnmn over the troops was officially 
w ro^hlM^I , rtiul Iho LiOumnians, who had steadily supported 
\\\\^\ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\w Kii\H MiohaoK won* apjvased by the 
\hMubuh\M\ \\\ ** ^lalifuNUions " and iho |\issing of an Act to the 
\^tiV\'\ \\\i\\ oxx^u \\\\\\\ Diol should U* hold at dnxino under the 
jv^vj^^douoN \M ihx^ iirand Marshal of l.ithu;\nia. The last 
\vbx^a\ \x^ «> tho wav \^t a rx\\>nonUuon was nnally rt^moved by 
iho \>M\\v^>M\< \U\Uh \^l iho lurbulont l^rimato lYaxmowski, who 

xii] Sobieski at Chocim 247 

was succeeded by the learned Floryan Czartoryski, the founder 
of the fortunes of that illustrious house. 

The question of the Turkish war was now seriously taken 
in hand. The treaty of Budziak was repudiated ; and, on the 
motion of Sobieski, an offensive war against the Turks was 
resolved upon. Subsidies, sufficient to place 60,000 men in 
the field, were voted, and an ultimatum was sent to Stambul. 
In August the King reviewed the forces assembled at Gliniani, 
near Lemberg, and entrusted the supreme command to Sobieski. 
Sending Nicholas Sieniawski against Doroshenko and the 
Cossacks, and the Lithuanian army against Halil Pasha, who 
had reached Jazlowiec in Galicia, the Grand-Hetman himself 
advanced with 30,000 men to the Dniester, and, hastening 
through the forests of the Bukowina, united with the Lithuanians 
at Chocim, already occupied by the Turkish commander Hussein 
Pasha. At dawn on November 11, 1673, Sobieski advanced 
with all his forces against Chocim. The Polish artillery, well 
directed by Marcin Kontski, prepared the way ; and then the 
assaulting columns, led by the Grand-Hetman in person, sword 
in hand, fell furiously upon the fortress. After an hour^s hard 
fighting, Chocim was in the hands of the Poles and Hussein 
Pasha in full retreat upon Jassy. But Sobieski pursued and 
cut him off, and drove him into the flooded Dniester, where he 
p^-ished with nine-tenths of his host. The whole of his baggage, 
more than 120 guns, and immense treasures, were the spoil of 
the victors. 

At the moment when the Polish chivalry was singing a Te 
Deum for the victory of Chocim in the tent of Hussein Pasha, 
King Michael had ceased to reign. He had long been ailing, 
and on November 10, 1673, he expired, in his thirty-third year. 
There could be no doubt as to his successor. The Convocation 
Diet (January 1674), enthusiastically supported the candidature 
of the hero of Chocim ; and, though the Lithuanians favoured 
Tsar Theodore HI, and the Primate would have set up the 
Austrian candidate, the Duke of Lorraine, against him, all 
opposition collapsed when Sobieski himself appeared on the 

248 The Age of Sobteski, 1 669-1 696 [ch. 

field of election with 6000 veterans and a multitude of Turkish 
captives. On May 21, 1674, he was elected King of Poland 
under the title of John III. 

The Turkish peril was still so urgent that the new King 
postponed his coronation and hastened to the frontier 
immediately after his election. Materially assisted by the 
diplomacy of Louis XIV, who, anxious to reserve Poland for 
his anti-Hapsburg plans, persuaded the Sultan to raid Moscovy 
instead of the Republic during the remainder of 1674, Sobieski 
employed this welcome respite in efforts to divide his enemies 
by detaching the Cossacks from the Tatars. He persuaded a 
considerable section of the Cossacks to garrison the Ukraine 
fortresses, while he, with his regulars, quickly recaptured Bar, 
Niemerov and Braclaw, and might even have recovered 
Kamieniec but for the unwillingness of the Lithuanians to 
co-operate with him, and the inveterate niggardliness of the 
Poles, whose martial ardour was already cooling rapidly. In 
fact the obstinate parsimony of the Szlachta defeated all his 
plans and hampered all his movements, so that when, at the 
beginning of 1675, he found himself face to face with another 
Turkish invasion, he was all but helpless. With only 3000 
regular troops at his disposal, he could not prevent the junction 
of Ibrahim Sisman and his 60,000 Turks with the Tatar Khan; 
but, fortunately, the heroic defence of the fortress of Trembola 
by Samuel Chrzanowski, an officer of Jewish origin, enabled 
the King, at the last moment, to collect reinforcements sufficient 
to compel the Turks to retreat. On October 16, the same year, 
peace was concluded at Z6rawno (heroically and successfully 
defended by Sobieski from August 28 to October 16), when 
the Turks retroceded two-thirds of the Ukraine, but retained 
Kamieniec, which was worth the whole of it. It was after all 
but a semi-triumph, and for this the nation, not the King, was to 
blame. " Those who have the greatest stake in this country do 
the least for it," was Sobieski's sorrowful commentary on the 
selfish backwardness of his subjects. 

But still worse was to come. Sobieski was now to reap to 

xii] The Austrian Alliance 249 

the full the bitter harvest of treachery and treason, the seeds of 
which he himself had recklessly sown during the reign of his 
predecessor. The Szlachta, which had done nothing to help 
the King to recover Kamieniec, protested violently against the 
Treaty of Z6rawno, yet almost with the same breath they 
prevented Sobieski from pursuing a more profitable policy 
in the future by reducing the army from 30,000 to 12,000 
men. In his extremity John III hit upon the desperate, but, 
in the circumstances, only effectual remedy for existing evils 
— the establishment with French assistance of an absolute 
monarchy. He communicated his views through Bethune, the 
French ambassador, but Louis XIV replied that he did not see 
how such a change would suit his own views. Shortly afterwards 
(1667) Maria Casimiria brought about an open rupture between 
the Courts of Versailles and Warsaw because the French King 
refused to exalt her father to princely rank, and the French 
influence in Poland was superseded by the Austrian. 

In view of the constant peril from the Turks, the political 
interests of Austria and Poland were, at this time, identical ; and 
an alliance between them was equally profitable to both. 
Moreover Innocent XI, the greatest of the later Popes, who 
ascended the papal throne in 1676, was using all his efforts to 
form a league of Princes to expel the Turks from Europe ; and 
it was mainly due to his initiative and enthusiasm that they 
were expelled at least from Hungary. His noble ambition was 
opposed i outrance by Louis XIV, with whose anti-Hapsburg 
plans it directly clashed ; and, for the next thirteen years, the 
diplomatical battle was fought out at all the Courts of Europe. 
In 1678, the papal nuncio, Martelli, preached the coming 
Crusade in Poland; and the impressionable Diet, which 
assembled in December of that year, raised the army to 43,000 
men and granted subsidies comparatively liberal, but falling far 
short of actual requirements ^ The intrigues 'of Louis XIV did 

' 6,000,000 gulden were still due to the army ; and the initial expenses 
of the Crusade were estimated at 20,000,000 more. 

250 The Age of Sobieski, 1 669-1 696 [ch. 

the rest, and the whole scheme was abandoned. The French 
King next proceeded to undermine the position of Sobieski. 
Between 1679 ^"^ 1681, Louis is said to have expended no 
less a sum than fifty millions of livres in efforts to dethrone 
John III. Most of the great dignitaries of Poland were 
already in the French King^s pay; many of them boasted 
openly that they were his friends and even his subjects ; some 
of them took their orders direct from him. 

The Turkish question became acute, when, in the course 
of 1682, Emerich Tokoly, the leader of the Magyar malcontents, 
who had long been subsidised by Louis XIV, was proclaimed 
King of Hungary by the Sultan. Invading that realm at the head 
of a Hungaro-Turkish army, he captured fortress after fortress, 
and extended his dominions as far as the Waag. In the spring of 
1683 he was joined by the new Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa, 
with more than 100,000 men. Sobieski hesitated no longer. 
The French agent was dismissed from Poland; the French 
couriers were intercepted ; the correspondence of the Polish 
malcontents with the Elector of Brandenburg, who supported 
the French policy in Poland, was seized; and, when the 
partizans of France attempted to explode the Diet by means of 
the liberum veto, the King threatened to form a " Diet on horse- 
back," or Confederation of all the noblemen in the kingdom, 
and deliver every traitor into its hands. The French faction 
thereupon collapsed; and, on March 31, 1683, an offensive 
and defensive alliance was signed between Poland and Austria, 
whereby Sobieski agreed to co-operate against the Turks with 
40,000 men. Louis XIV exhausted all the resources of 
diplomacy to prevent John III from succouring the distressed 
Emperor. John III thereupon, very pertinently, enquired of 
Louis XIV whether, in case Poland should refuse to help 
Austria, France would engage to hasten to the assistance of 
Poland, "when the Turks, after taking Vienna, sit down before 
Cracow"? In Poland itself, indeed, politicians were by no 
means agreed as to the expediency of relieving Vienna. At the 

xii] The new ''Holy League'' 251 

Sejm of 1683, many of the deputies protested against fighting 
the battles of Austria. ** What is it to us," they cried, " if the 
Turks do extend their empire to the Danube ? Ten years ago 
did the Emperor move a step when the Turks threatened the 
Vistula?" There was some truth in this, no doubt; but 
Sobieski, well aware that the danger was pressing, and that 
his Polish critics had, as usual, no alternative policy, wisely 
resolved to minimise his risks. The alliance with Austria had 
been concluded in May. In September he drove the Turks 
from Vienna. In October he pursued their retreating forces 
through Hungary and severely defeated them at Parkany. Still 
there was no sign of surrender at Stambul ; and, in September 
1684, a Holy League was formed between Poland, Austria, 
Venice and the Pope, to which "the most serene Tsars of 
Moscovy'' were invited to accede. In the spring of 1685, the 
Polish and Imperial plenipotentiaries appeared at Moscow. 

Prince Vasily Golitsuin, who, during the Regency of the 
Tsarevna SophiaS directed the Moscovite Foreign Office, 
clearly recognised that, in regard to the Eastern Question, the 
interests of Moscovy and Poland were identical. Moreover, 
Moscovy possessed an excellent pretext for a rupture with the 
Porte, in the prevalence of the Tatar raids into the Ukraine. 
Every year, thousands of captives and tens of thousands of 
cattle were carried off and sold at Kaffa, despite the fact that a 
regular tribute was paid to the Khan of the Crimea as a sort of 
insurance against such depredations. But Golitsuin was much 
too good a diplomatist to sell the Moscovite alliance cheaply. 
The negotiations with Poland were protracted till the growing 
distress of the Republic constrained her. to sacrifice everything 
for the co-operation of the Moscovites. Finally, on April 21, 
1686, a "perpetual peace was signed at Moscow, by the terms 
of which Kiev was surrendered to Moscovy in exchange for 
146,000 rubles. But Poland lost much more than Kiev by 
this treaty, for it contained a provision binding her to maintain 
^ See following chapter. 

252 The Age of Sobieski, 1669-1696 [ch. 

the liberties of the Dissidents, thus opening the door to the 
interference of Russia in the domestic affairs of the Republic. 
Later in the same year, Sobieski, who, after capturing Jassy, 
had been obliged, from want of money and supplies, to lead 
his sick and starving army back to Poland, tearfully ratified at 
Lemberg a treaty from which the eclipse of Poland may be 
definitely dated. 

The Porte had done its utmost to prevent the conclusion of 
the Russo-Polish alliance. The Patriarch of Constantinople 
had even been employed by the Divan to dissuade the Tsars 
from embarking on a war which would, he warned them, call 
down the vengeance of the Sultan on the Orthodox population 
of his domains. But neither blandishments nor menaces could 
avail. Russia had gone too far to retreat ; and, in the autumn 
of 1687, 100,000 Moscovites under Prince Vasily Golitsuin, set 
out to reconquer the Crimea. At Samara, Golitsuin was 
joined by the Cossack Hetman Samoilovich, with 50,000 men ; 
and the army then plunged into the steppe. There was no 
sign of the Tatars, but Golitsuin soon encountered a far more 
terrible enemy in the steppe fires, which destroyed all the grass 
and make further progress impossible. After traversing eight 
miles in forty-eight hours, he decided to turn back, and leaving 
30,000 men on the lower Dnieper, retired with the rest of his 
army across the Kolomak, not far from Poltava. According to 
Patrick Gordon, who accompanied the expedition, Samoilovich 
was strongly suspected of firing the steppe to compel a retreat, 
foreseeing that the subjection of the Crimea must inevitably 
lead to the suppression of the free Cossacks. The Moscovite 
Government shared this suspicion; and, on July 25, Samoilovich 
was deprived of his Hetmanship and Ivan Mazepa was then 
elected unanimously in his stead. Golitsuin solemnly invested 
him with the usual insignia of office, for which the new Hetman 
privately paid the prince 10,000 rubles. 

At the very time when Golitsuin was ingloriously retreating 
from the wasted steppe, Sobieski had failed to retake Kamieniec 

xii] Progress of the Turkish War 253 

because the Sejm would not provide him with an adequate 
army; but everywhere else the members of the Holy League 
were brilliantly successful. Defeated in Hungary, Dalmatia and 
the Morea, the Turks could with difficulty defend themselves 
even within their own territory. Sultan Mahommed IV fell a 
victim to an outburst of popular fury which placed Solyman IH 
on the throne (1687), and so great was the confusion that the 
collapse of the Turkish Empire was confidently anticipated. 
But, in 1689, ^^ Sultan made Mustafa Koprili, the brother of 
Achmet (who had died in 1676), Grand Vizier; and the 
Turkish Empire was saved once more. By Koprili's advice, 
the dashing Tokoly was released from prison and proclaimed 
Prince of Transylvania ; and the victory of Zernyest (Sept. 1690) 
established the pretender for a time on his unstable throne. 
Simultaneously Koprili recovered the southern portions of 
Servia and Bosnia, and replanted the crescent standard on 
the ramparts of Widdin, Nish, Galambocs, Semlin and 
Belgrade. In the following year (1691), he resumed the war 
with redoubled vigour, but perished with the greater part of his 
army at Zalankemdn (Aug. 9, 1691). Nevertheless, his exploits 
had given the Turks time to rally and enabled them to carry 
on the war, with ever diminishing prospects of success, for 
eight years longer. 

Neither Moscovy nor Poland, however, contributed much to 
the ultimate triumph of the allies. In February, 1689, Golit- 
suin, for the second time, led more than 10,000 Moscovites 
into the steppe ; but the march was delayed by snowstorms 
and lack of provisions, and it was not till the middle of May 
that he encountered the Khan near Perekop. The lightly 
armed Tatars were easily beaten off; but, with the Crimea open 
before him, Golitsuin suddenly discovered that there were 
waterless steppes beyond as well as before Perekop. This fact 
had never entered into his calculations ; and as, moreover, his 
beasts of burden now began to die off in such numbers as to 
make him fear for the transport of his baggage, there was 

nr,thine; for :t vit 'r-. turn -^ack i -^ecnr.ii rimtr. V-r ^r^scovrrs 
^hare ;r. 'he, .vir ■r.;it'l r.ot 'iKKT\ ilt.:jier:it:r lArics-H. ror she had 
pr.^.v-^nt.*/i :h#^ T.ir.ir^ rV'^m i:r,-^:T:en:ir.!i with :he T-^ks : jnd che 
'/•»,r/ iipp^^r^r.rri or i R::ssiar. anr.y ir :hc za.:es cf ±e Crimea 
■T^<? \ sigrninrant siiH". :ha: :he -iucrpce wxs r.rj longer dn insnper- 
ah!f^ harrier ro Riissia's pro%Tris.s south warcLs. 

.^till morr* unlucky was >!ohieski. His last mmpnign^ in 
r^>0o, 'indertakfin to piar^ his eldest son Jimes on the throne 
of Mo!<'lavia anrl Wailachia, was an utter failure. But this was 
hnt ^ ^mall part of his misfortunes. Ill-luck persistendy 
rUi^eA him frv-irywherr; riuring the last seven years of his life. 
N'<'/thinfi^ that he put his hand to prospered. Allies and nexgb- 
hy>Tir> prov-vl trear:h^.TOu.s and ungrateful : his domestic hap{H- 
nei^s WAS ruinerl by the caprices of his wife and her ceaseless 
<jiiarrels with her own sons : and, above all, towered the evil 
spirit of p^>liti^;al discord which he had raised so lighdj in his 
younger days, \mi was pr>werk:ss to lay in his miserable old age 
kar^:ly has Nemesis pursued its victim so remorselessly. 

Twice his matrimonial projects for the benefit of his son 
f'rin^'; James were frustrated by the Court of Vienna; and, 
when John Hf, nrvolted by the ingratitude of the Emperor, 
would havf! turned to Iy>uis XIV, he found Versailles closed 
fl^^inst hirn. If is attempts to convert Poland into a constitu- 
tion;! I rr»onarehy, liereditary in his family — certainly the best 
thin^ that eoiilrl have happened — foundered on the determined 
oppositirm of the Se;m. He had some hopes of success in 
this r'sprf:t ;it the Diet which was to meet at Grodno in t688; 
but nf» sf;f)rirr did his plans get wind, than a Confederation, 
hn\(\f't\ by tlw f:hief dignitaries of the Republic, most of whom 
wrrr undrr dc-rp obligations to the King, was formed to 
pnvrnt ;my such design. The parrot-cry of " the Republic is in 
danger!" rrsonndcd everywhere; and the application of the 
*'* rufti vrfo exploded the Diet at the very beginning of the 

"11. At the meeting of the Senate, held immediately after- 
n« h M shameless allaek was made upon the King that 

xiij Anarchy in Lithuania 255 

he was provoked to the uttermost and replied in a fulminating 
address, which concluded with these prophetic words : 
*' Posterity will be stupefied to learn that the only result of so 
many victories and triumphs, shedding an eternal glory on the 
Polish name throughout the world, was — God help us! — 
irreparable riiin and damnation. Yet forty days and Nineveh 
shall be destroyed." 

Yet his worst enemies were the Lithuanians, who could 
never forgive him for his conduct to their fellow-countryman, 
King Michael. It was they, represented by the Sapiehas, the 
Radziwills, and the Pacowe, who perpetually traversed his 
dearest hopes. Thus they prevented the marriage of his son 
James with the wealthy young widow Ludowika Radziwill with 
the result that she married a relative of the Elector of Branden- 
burg, and her immense fortune passed into German hands. 
The Diet, on this occasion, was inclined to support the King, 
whereupon it was exploded by one of the hirelings of the 
House of Sapieha. Anarchical was the state of Lithuania at 
this time. Casimir Sapieha, Grand-Hetman of Lithuania, 
preyed upon his neighbours, lay and clerical, like a feudal baron 
of the worst type. In his private quarrel with Brzostowski, 
Bishop of Wilna, he devastated the whole diocese and burnt 
dozens of churches. When the bishop excommunicated him. 
Cardinal Radziejowski, Primate of Poland, promptly removed 
the ban and blamed the bishop. Twice, in 1693 and 1695, ^^ 
King, indignant at this outrage, summoned Sapieha to answer 
for his misdeeds before the Diet. On both occasions Sapieha's 
partisans exploded the Diet before it had time to consider the 
case. The liberum veto had now sunk so low that its principal 
use was to shelter high-placed felons from the pursuit of 
justice. With the Grand-Hetman of Lithuania a freebooter and 
a traitor, there was nobody left to defend the Grand-Duchy from 
its natural enemies, the Tatars, who raided it every year with 
perfect impunity. During 1695 ^^^y even penetrated as far as 

256 The Age of Sobieski, 1669-1696 [ch. xii 

On June 17, 1696, John III expired, in his 72nd year, 
utterly broken-hearted. His reign had been a failure, and he 
foretold, on his death-bed, the ruin of his country. Three years 
later, at the Peace of Karlowitz, which ended the long war 
between Austria and Turkey, Kamieniec, which the Republic 
had been unable to recover with her own sword, was restored 
to her by the generosity of the Holy League. 

/ 2 


1 649- 1 689. 

While Poland had sunk beyond the possibility of recovery, 
Moscovy, slowly and circuitously, with many a serious hitch and 
many a ruinous relapse, was creeping forward along the path 
leading to prosperity and empire. Contemporaries could not 
be expected to see this. The victories of Sobieski had invested 
the Polish chivalry with a prestige which it was far from 
deserving, while Moscovy was generally regarded as a semi- 
barbarous country, negligible as a political factor, nay, as scarce 
within the European system at all. Even at the end of the 
seventeenth century no one could have imagined that, a 
century later, Poland would have disappeared from the map of 
Europe, and that Moscovy, under the name of Russia, would 
have become one of the world's greatest empires. Morally and 
intellectually, the Moscovites were infinitely below the level of 
the Western nations ; while their invincible pride and perverted 
patriotism seemed to exclude the possibility of enlightenment. 
An iron-bound conservatism, the consequence of a gross 
ignorance due again to centuries of isolation from the civilised 
West, fettered every movement, every thought of the national 
life. It has well been said that existence in old Moscovy, as 
compared with existence in Western Europe, was as the dull 
stagnant life of an agricultural district compared with the 
mobile, inquisitive, enterprising life of a great city. 

The only teacher of the Moscovite people at this period was 

B. 17 

258 The Precursors of Peter^ 1649-1689 [ch. 

the Orthodox Church; and, unfortunately, the Orthodox Church, 
from similar causes, had fallen as far behind other Churches as 
the Moscovite nation had fallen behind other nations. The only 
remedy against existing evils which the Church could devise was 
the rigid application of Byzantine asceticism to every-day life. 
In 1551 the Synod of Moscow published its Stoglav^ or 
" Hundred Articles," severely condemning, among other things, 
all popular amusements. About the same time, the monk 
Silvester, now generally identified with Silvester the good genius 
of Ivan the Terrible during his earlier years, published his 
Domostroi, or "Domestic Economy," which aimed at making 
every household a monastery, with the father of the family as its 
prior, or director. Absolute obedience to him, '*with slavish 
fear," was the counsel of perfection enjoined upon his children; 
and the term ** children" included his wife and all who dwelt 
beneath his roof. The model household was conducted ac- 
cording to strict canonical rules. On every sort of diversion, 
except a moderate table, the Church looked askance. All 
music, profane songs, dances and games were banned as sheer 
idolatry. Draughts and chess were anathematised because they 
were supposed to be of Chaldean, cards because they were 
known to be of Latin origin. The position of the women under 
this regime was pitiable. In general, the Moscovite women 
were looked upon as permanently immature creatures, to be 
kept under perpetual tutelage. The wife was not the equal of 
her husband, but his pupil. As the first of the domestics, she 
was responsible, indeed, for the government of his household ; 
but, in case of disobedience, he was empowered to chastise her, 
even ** unmercifully " in the case of obstinate disobedience. 
The Moscovite lady's complete seclusion from the world dates 
from the end of the fifteenth century. By the beginning of the 
sixteenth century her domestic incarceration was an accom- 
plished and peremptor)' fact By this time, the terem^ or 
women*s quarters, had become a prison as well as a monastery. 
Perpetual tutelage and an absolute want of culture were 

xiii] Filtration of western ideas 259 

almost invincible obstacles to anything like the development of 
a free and healthy social life in Moscovy, while the continual 
increase of public burdens, and the repression of all popular 
amusements, drove the people to seek relief from the grind- 
ing monotony of life in habitual drunkenness and the grossest 

Intellectually, also, this remorseless discipline proved very 
injurious. The mental horizon of the ordinary Moscovite of the 
seventeenth century was extraordinarily limited. For centuries 
he had lived in a world of phenomena, which he regarded as 
unchangeable because they had never changed. The secular 
immobility of his surroundings gave to them, in his eyes, a 
religious character, and therefore a religious inviolability. Any 
alteration of his ancient ancestral customs was to him a sinful 
surrender. In these circumstances the only conceivable 
chance of improvement lay in the gradual filtration of western 
ideas. But this was, necessarily, a very gradual process, de- 
pending almost entirely on the superior sagacity of individual 
Boyars or Prelates. The first of this little band of pioneers was 
the Boyar Boris Ivanovich Morozov, to whom Tsar Michael 
Romanov, on his death bed, committed the care of his sole 
surviving son Alexis, then a youth of 16, who succeeded him on 
July 13, 1645. ^ more suitable guardian could scarcely have 
been chosen. Shrewd and sensible, sufficiently enlightened to 
recognise the needs of his countrymen, and by no means 
inaccessible to foreign ideas, Morozov stood high above his 
fellows. His foreign policy was pacific, his domestic policy was 
severe but equitable. The economical condition of Moscovy 
at this period was anything but satisfactory. The native 
traders, overburdened with taxes, and hampered by all manner 
of disabilities, found it very difficult to compete with the highly 
privileged foreign merchants. In 1646 they petitioned the 
Tsar against the "English Germans V' who, being in the 

1 ** Germans " (Nyetntsut) was the name given by the Moscovites to all 
the protestants of the North. 

17 — 2 

26o The Precursors of Peter, 1649-1689 [ch. 

possession of unlimited capital, and having at their disposal a 
whole army of well-paid middlemen, were able absolutely to 
control the Moscovite market and undersell the native traders. 
Their worst grievances were redressed in 1648; and, in the 
following year, a beginning was made of the codification of the 
laws in order to make legal procedure more expeditious and 
inexpensive. The severity of Morozov's government led, 
however, to a popular rising against him, in May 1648, when 
the Tsar was compelled to banish him to the Kirillov-Byelozer- 
sky monastery till the storm blew over. . But, within two 
months' time, he was brought back secretly, and, to the day of 
his death (in 1661), continued to be one of the Tsar's chief 
counsellors. As the brother-in-law of Alexis (in 1648 he 
married Anna Miloslavskaya, ten days after the Tsar had 
married her sister Maria) he was also the Boyai: nearest to 
the throne. 

Morozov, for all his sagacity and initiative, was still a Boyar 
of the old school. The first modern Moscovite statesman was 

Athanasy Lavrentovich Orduin-Nashchokin was the son of 
a poor official of Pskov, of whom we only know that he was 
greatly in advance of his times, for he saw to it that his son was 
taught German, Latin, and mathematics, so many abominations 
to the ordinary Moscovite of the seventeenth century. Athanasy 
began his brilliant diplomatic and administrative career under 
Michael as one of the delineators of the new Russo-Swedish 
frontier after the Peace of Stolbowa in 1642. Even then he 
had a great reputation at Moscow as one who thoroughly 
understood "German things and ways." He was one of the 
first Moscovites who diligently collected foreign books ; and we 
hear of as many as sixty-nine I^tin works being sent to him at 
one time from abroad. In the beginning of the reign of Alexis 
he attracted the young Tsar's attention by his resourcefulness 
during the Pskov rebellion of 1650, which he succeeded in 
localising as much as possible by sheer personal influence. 

xiii] ^Athanasy Orduin-Nashchokin 261 

At the beginning of the Swedish war, Orduin was appointed to 
a high command, in which he displayed striking ability, and, 
as Governor of Drui and Dmitriev, qualified himself for the 
office of minister and plenipotentiary, to which he was appointed 
in 1657. His letters to the Tsar during this period are illumi- 
nating and do equal honour to himself and his master. With 
perfect frankness, Orduin warns the Tsar that the atrocities of 
the Cossacks in Ingria and Livonia are driving even the 
orthodox inhabitants into the arms of the Swedes; and he 
urges, repeatedly, that all such orthodox desperadoes should 
be summarily punished. When the negotiations with Sweden 
were seriously resumed on the river Narova in 1658, he was the 
only Moscovite statesman with sufficient foresight to grasp the 
fact that the Baltic seaboard was worth much more to Moscovy 
than ten times the same amount of territory in Lithuania; and, 
despite the ignorant opposition of his jealous colleagues, he 
succeeded, at the end of December, in concluding a three 
years' truce whereby the Moscovites were left in possession of 
all their conquests in Livonia. In 1660 he was again sent, as 
the chief Moscovite plenipotentiary, to another congress, to 
convert the truce; of 1658 into a durable peace. By this time 
Sweden had composed her differences with Poland by the 
Peace of Oliva, an event which modified the political situation 
very much to the disadvantage of Moscovy ; and now the Tsar 
was nervously anxious to conclude peace with Sweden on any 
terms, hoping to compensate himself at the expense of Poland. 
Again Orduin deprecated the sacrifice of the Baltic Provinces. 
"If any towns be ceded," he writes, "let them be Polish towns. 
I stand for Livonia." In his opinion, the truce with Sweden 
should be prolonged, and Charles II of England invited to 
mediate a Northern Peace " which he would do the more 
willingly as we had no dealings with Cromwell.'' Finally, he 
lays stress upon the immense importance of Livonia for the 
development of the trade of Novgorod and Pskov. When he 
was overruled, he retired from the negotiations altogether; and, 

262 The Precursors of Peter^ 1649-1689 [ch. 

in the beginning of 1661, other envoys were sent, in his place, 
to Kardis, a little town between Dorpat and Reval, where, on 
July 2, 1 66 1, a treaty confirming the Peace of Stolbowa was 
signed whereby Moscovy ceded all her conquests. For more 
than half a century longer Sweden was to dominate the Baltic. 

Orduin was next employed as the chief Moscovite plenipo- 
tentiary at the abortive Peace Congress of Duroticha, which met, 
early in 1664, to adjust the differences between Poland and 
Moscovy ; and it was due in no small measure to his skill and 
tenacity that the subsequent treaty of Andrusovo (1667), so 
advantageous to Moscovy, was finally concluded. For this, his 
greatest diplomatic achievement, he was created a blizhnui 
boyarin^ and put at the head of the Posolsky Prikaz^ or Foreign 
Office, with the extraordinary title of " Guardian of the Great 
Tsarish Seal and Director of the Great Imperial Embassies." 
The Russian Chancellor, for that is what the new dignity really 
amounted to, was now in his proper place. He was the first 
Moscovite statesman who gave due importance to foreign 
affairs, and thus helped to break down the barrier which for 
centuries had separated Russia from the rest of Europe. 

His domestic reforms were also important. It was he who, 
as Governor of Pskov, first abolished the excessive system of 
tolls on exports and imports, established a combination of 
native merchants for promoting direct commercial relations 
between Sweden and Russia, and did his best to introduce free 
trade generally. He also set on foot a postal system between 
Moscovy, Courland and Poland, made the Moscow road safe 
for foreign merchants, and introduced bills of exchange and 
gazettes. With his name too is associated the building of ships 
on the upper Dwina and Volga. Despite the friendship and 
protection of the Tsar, Orduin's whole official career was a 
constant struggle with the jealous enmity of the Boyars and 
Clerks of the Council who bitterly resented his indisputable 
superiority. But Orduin also had his defects. He rather 
^ One of the Boyars nearest to the Tsar's person. 

xiii] Nikita Minin 263 

presumed, sometimes, on his indispensability ; and, at last, the 
Tsar grew weary of his constant complaining, and was not 
always prepared to admit that the minister's personal enemies 
were, necessarily, the enemies of the State. In February 167 1 
he was dismissed, and withdrew to the Kruipetsky Monastery, 
where he took the tonsure under the name of Antony, and 
occupied himself with good works till his death in 1680. 
Morally, as well as intellectually, he was far above the level of 
his age. 

What Orduin was in the department of politics and 
economics, the Patriarch Nikon, another protigh of the "good 
Tsar Alexis," was in the spiritual and ecclesiastical department 
of old Moscovy. 

In May 1605, in the village of Valmanovo, 90 versts from 
Nizhny-Novgorod, was born Nikita, the son of the peasant- 
farmer Mina. Misery pursued the child from his very cradle 
and prematurely hardened a character not naturally prone to 
the softer virtues. Nikita's stepmother treated him so inhumanly 
that the lad had to run away to save his life. And it was a life 
well worth saving. From a very early age, Nikita gave promise 
of the extraordinary energy and application which were to 
distinguish him throughout his career. In the most discour- 
aging circumstances, he contrived to teach himself reading and 
writing, sure paeans of advancement in those days of general 
ignorance. All the books of the period were of a severely 
religious character. Their favourite theme was the exploits of 
old-time saints and hermits, and they enkindled in the heart of 
the young enthusiast an almost overpowering desire to tread in 
the footsteps of these heroes of the spirit. But the entreaties of 
his family, who began, at last, to be proud of their prodigy, 
summoned Nikita back to the world. He was persuaded to 
take orders and marry, when but twenty ; and the eloquence of 
the young priest soon attracted attention and he was transferred 
to a populous parish in the capital. For a time, all went well ; 
but, seeing in the almost simultaneous loss of his three little 

264 The Precursors of Peier, 1649-1689 [ch. 

children a providential call to the higher life, he first persuaded 
his wife to take the veil and then withdrew himself to a desolate 
hermitage on the isle of Anzersk in the White Sea where he 
received the tonsure under the name of Nikon. 

In 1643 ^^ w^ elected igutrien, or abbot, of the Kozhuzer- 
sky Monastery in the diocese of Novgorod. In his official 
capacity he frequently visited Moscow, whither his fame had 
preceded him ; and, in 1646, he made the acquaintance of the 
pious and impressionable young Tsar, who, at once and 
entirely, fell under the influence of the famous zealot, twenty- 
four years his senior. Alexis appointed Nikon archimandrite, 
or prior, of the wealthy and aristocratic Novospassky Monastery 
at Moscow, which, as an imperial foundation, was under the 
direct control of the Tsar. It was now a part of Nikon's duty 
to be present at Mass at the principal church of the monastery 
every Friday, and to confer with the Tsar afterwards. Such 
conferences were by no means confined to things spiritual ; and 
Alexis, more and more impressed by the gravity and judgment 
of the new archimandrite, made him, first, Presenter of Petitions, 
a post of great authority and influence, and, two years later, 
procured his election to the metropolitan see of Great Novgorod. 
In 1652 the Patriarchate became vacant; and Alexis determined 
that " his own familiar friend, the Great Shining Sun, the most 
holy Nikon *' should occupy that august position. But Nikon 
obstinately refused to occupy the patriarchal throne. This was 
not, as has so often been supposed, mere affectation, but the 
wise determination of a would-be reformer, conscious of the 
difficulty of the task before him, to secure a free hand by being 
elected on his own terms. Again and again the Tsar sent 
prelates and patricians to persuade Nikon, but he remained 
immovable. At last the Tsar ordered him to be brought to the 
Cathedral by force. Still he persisted in his refusal till the 
Tsar, and those who were present, fell at his feet and besought 
him with tears to yield to the prayers of the whole community. 
Nikon, deeply moved, himself began to weep, and, turning to 

xiii] The Patriarch Nikon 265 

the Tsar and the congregation uttered these memorable words : 
"...If it seem good to you that I should be your Patriarch, give 
me your word and swear to it in this Cathedral Church, before 
God our Saviour and His Most Pure Mother... that ye will 
keep the evangelic dogmas... and, if ye promise to obey me also 
as your chief arch-pas tor... in everything which I shall teach you 
concerning the divine dogmas and the canons, then will I, 
according to your wish and supplication, no longer reject this 
great arch-pastorate." The Tsar, the Boyars, and all the 
members of the Synod, thereupon swore unanimously upon the 
Gospels that they would do all that Nikon commanded them, 
and "assist him to edify the Church." On August i, 1652, 
Nikon was elected ; and, on August 4, he was solemnly conse- 
crated and enthroned as the sixth Patriarch of Moscow. 

Even before Nikon had appeared upon the scene, the 
necessity of ecclesiastical reform had been admitted in the 
highest circles, and had found advocates in the immediate 
entourage of the young Tsar, who was keenly interested in all 
theological questions and very willing to learn. Chief among 
these would-be reformers were Stephen Vonafitov, the Tsar's 
confessor, a relatively learned man, personally of an extremely 
austere life, but generally beloved for his gentle disposition; 
Ivan Neronov, a bitter zealot, who regarded even Christmas 
festivities as " devilish "; and Daniel of Kostroma and Login of 
Murom, both of them men of severe morality. The party of the 
Protopops, as this group was called, because most of the members 
of the group were protopops, or deans, of the numerous cathedrals 
within the Kreml\ was presently re-inforced and over-shadowed 
by the priest Avvakum. This perversely heroic creature, the 
proto-martyr of Russian dissent, and one of the most striking 
personalities of his age, was born at the village of Gregorovo, 
fifteen miles from the place where Nikon was born, a few years 
before. From 1643, when he succeeded his drunken father as 
parish priest, absolute fearlessness, sublime austerity, and a 
perfect fidelity to his religious convictions were to characterise 

266 The Precursors of Peter^ 1649-1689 [ch. 

him throughout life. Nothing in the world could make him 
condone wickedness, or truckle to the mighty. He possessed, 
moreover, a rare gift of speech. No other Moscovite ecclesiastic 
of the seventeenth century could compare with Awakum as a 
prea^:her. He spoke to the people in the language of the people, 
straight from the heart, in a way which made the rudest feel and 
tremble. His style was always simple, lucid, vigorous, garnished 
with racy proverbs, full of quaint and vivid touches, and rising, 
at times, to flights of irresistible eloquence. His autobiography, 
one of the most engrossing and pathetic histories ever penned, 
is, in point of composition, not merely superior to, but centuries 
ahead of, what passed for style in those days, an unconscious 
master-piece as well as a historical document of the highest 
value. Unfortunately, this great and heroic nature was also 
one of the most narrow-minded of men. Still more un- 
fortunately, his narrowness was so absolutely conscientious 
as to be quiet incurable. 

With all their good intentions, the Protopops were not the 
sort of men to initiate even such modest ecclesiastical reforms 
UH were possible in Moscovy in the seventeenth century. Their 
point of view was erroneous because they were not themselves 
sufficiently enlightened to be able to pierce to the root of 
matters, and, nevertheless, shrank from the assistance of their 
natural teachers, the clergy of Kiev and of Constantinople, 
because they suspected the former of being crypto-catholics, 
and knew many of the latter to be scoundrels and impostors. 
They were theiefore thrown back upon Moscovite tradition as 
reprt\sonted by the Stoglav of the Reforming Council of 
MiKscow of 1551 — a Council unrecognised outside Moscovy, 
and of (luostionable authority, inasmuch as its members, while 
professing to follow (Ireek precedents, had been notoriously 
ignorant of the Greek language, the very key of orthodox inter- 
pretation* Thus the antiquity to which the Protopops were 
never tinxl of apjH?aling was barely a century old; and the 
oanonicity of their ultimate court of appeal was, at the best. 

xiii] The reform of the Liturgies 267 

highly problematical. Yet they had pinned their faith implicitly 
to this purely national Synod, and cut off all possibility of a 
dignified retreat by accepting the responsibility for the revision 
of the Church service-books inaugurated by the late Patriarch 
Joasaf. This was really no revision at all, but a clumsy attempt 
to apply the hitherto unexecuted canons of the Stoglav to the 
bettering of the liturgies, which resulted in the interpolation of 
various schismatical prescriptions into five or six of the thirty- 
eight books so revised, such, for instance, as the dvuperstia, or 
making the sign of the cross with two fingers, and the sugubaya 
alleluya^ or two-fold alleluia, to which the Moscovite Church 
was consequently committed. 

Nikon was much more liberal. He shared the Protopops' 
distrust of the Greek priests and prelates. He was well aware 
that the bishops without sees, and the .archimandrites without 
monasteries, who appeared, from time to time, at Moscow, with 
forged letters of recommendation from the Eastern Patriarchs, 
were, at best, place-seekers and relic-mongers. But he also 
recognised the fact that, if the morals of these vagabond pastors 
were detestable, their scholarship was far superior to what 
passed for learning at Moscovy, and he did not see why he 
should not sift the gold from the dross. As soon as the Greeks 
had opened his eyes to the fact that the Moscovite service-books 
were heterodox in many particulars, he conducted, with the assist- 
ance of the learned Epifany Slavenitsky, whom he had specially 
summoned from Kiev, independent investigations . of his own 
in the patriarchal archives, and arrived at the result that the 
sooner the Moscovite liturgies were rectified the better. With 
characteristic energy he summoned, in 1654, a properly qualified 
synod of experts to re-examine the service-books. The majority 
of the synod decided that " the Greeks should be followed rather 
than our own ancients " ; but the minority, and several of the 
old revisers, most of them members of the party of the 
Protopops, protested vehemently against the decision of the 
Council. Nikon thereupon addressed six-and-twenty interro- 

268 The Precursors of Peter, 1649-1689 [ch. 

gatories to Paisios, Patriarch of Constantinople, enquiring, at 
the same time, how he should deal with the dissentients. Paisios 
recommended excommunication, and authorised the holding of 
a second Council to settle matters, to which Makarios, Patriarch 
of Antioch, and the Metropolitans of Servia, Nicea and Moldavia, 
all of whom happened to be at Moscow, were invited. This 
Council, which assembled in the Uspensky Cathedral, at Moscow, 
in 1656, sanctioned the revision of the service-books as suggested 
by the first Council, and anathematised all who still persisted in 
crossing themselves with two fingers instead of with three. The 
revision of the service-books was then entrusted to the learned 
Kievlyan Slavenitsky and the Greek monk Arsenios, and carried 
out in accordance with the wishes of Nikon. 

Nikon was so entirely in the right that it requires a mental 
effort to imagine how anyone could have seriously believed him 
to have been in the wrong. The Patriarch stood firm for a real 
antiquity pruned of all the parasitical excrescences, the outcome 
of ignorance and misunderstanding, which had overgrown the 
Moscovite Church in the course of ages. His opponents, 
blinded by prejudice and suspicion, failed to see that his 
reforms were but a return to primitive antiquity, and denounced 
them as the inventions of Anti-Christ. Agreement was impos- 
sible. The question at issue had to be fought out to the bitter 
end. So long as there were men in Moscovy ready to be 
tortured to death rather than cross themselves with three fingers 
instead of two, or spell the name of our Lord, in Slavonic, with 
two iotas instead of with one iota, there could be no peace in 
the Church, especially as the martyrs of to-day might easily 
become the persecutors of to-morrow, toleration being accounted 
by both parties a mortal sin. 

The Patriarch certainly shewed the schismatics no mercy. 
It was a rough age, when gentle methods did not recommend 
themselves even to the mildest of men. Nikon was hard, if 
not cruel, and, above all things, he was thorough. His scheme 
of reform included not only the service-books and the church 

xiii] Nikon omnipotent 269 

ceremonies, but the ikons actually in use, which had widely 
departed from the ancient Byzantine models, being, for the 
most part, imitations of Polish and West-European models. 
The Patriarch ordered a search, from house to house, to be 
made for these new-fangled ikons ; and his soldiers and servants 
were charged first to gouge out the eyes of the "heretical 
counterfeits '* and then carry them through the town in derision. 
He also issued an ukaz threatening with the severest penalties 
all who dared to make or use such ikons in the future. 
Hundreds of pious Moscovites, who had grown up to venerate 
these holy images, naturally regarded such acts of violence as 
sacrilege and iconoclasticism. 

This ruthlessness goes far to explain the unappeasable 
hatred with which Avvakum and his followers, ever afterwards, 
regarded Nikon and all his works. The protopop was not the 
man to keep silence under the persecution of Anti-Christ ; and 
the virulence of his denunciations speedily led to his seizure 
and imprisonment. During his detention the party of the 
Protopops was broken up, the weaker members submitting to 
the Patriarch, while the stronger spirits were flogged, tortured, 
and exiled in every direction. On September 16, 1657, 
Avvakum was banished to Siberia, where, during the next 
eight years, he endured incredible hardships and persecutions 
with invincible fortitude. 

From 1652 to 1658 Nikon was not so much the minister as 
the colleague of the Tsar. The whole internal administration, 
especially during the unlucky Swedish War, when Alexis was 
absent from the capital, remained in the strong hands of this 
spiritual Gosudar; for both in public documents and private 
letters from the Tsar, Nikon was allowed this sovereign title. 
So vast was his power and such a free use did he make of it 
that some Russian historians have suspected him of the inten- 
tion of establishing " a particular national papacy." Certainly, 
he himself always maintained that the spiritual was superior to 
the temporal power. It would be grossly unfair to Nikon not 

270 The Precursors of Peter ^ 1 649-1 689 [ch. 

to admit that, in many respects, he was no unworthy pre- 
decessor of Peter the Great. He loved many branches of 
learning, especially archaeology and history ; and all those arts 
which minister to religion found in him an intelligent and 
munificent patron. He enriched with libraries of consider- 
able importance in those days the numerous and splendid 
monasteries he loved to build. His emissaries scoured Moscovy 
and the Orient, to search out and bring together precious Greek 
and Slavonic MSS. Nor did he confine his attention to 
ecclesiastical documents. Some of his hardly won treasures 
were the works of profane classical authors. Homer, Hesiod, 
Aeschylus, Plutarch and Demosthenes. 

As an administrator Nikon was indefatigable in purging the 
church of abuses, jlis standard of excellence was high. Sloth, 
immora lity, slackness of^ anyJfin'Ji ^^""^ little mf>rry wi>}^_hJ!I!. 
'UntbrTuhately he never knew when to stop. As the highest 
interpreter of the Divine Law in Moscovy, he judged all things 
to be lawful to him ; he never paused to consider whether they 
were also expedient. Hence the charges of cruelty brought 
against him, exaggerated, no doubt, by his enemies, but true 
enough in substance. His magnificence and exclusiveness 
were equally offensive to those — ^and they were many — who 
simply envied him because " he held his head high and walked 
spaciously." Finally, there was the multitude of conscientious 
adversaries who detested him as a troubler of the Church, and 
the criminous clerks whose misdeeds he had punished. Against 
this rising flood of hatred there was but one efficacious barrier, 
the favour of the Tsar ; nor was it an easy task to shake the 
belief of the most pious of princes in the impeccability of 
the bosom friend whom he generally addressed as "Great 
Shining Sun," and before whom he figuratively abased himself 
in the dust. But there are limits to everything. No sooner 
was Alexis made to understand that the Sovereign Patriarch 
was eclipsing the Sovereign Tsar, than he suddenly awoke to a 
sense of his personal dignity, and b^an to think less of the 

xiii] The fall of Nikon 271 

shining virtues of his "own familiar friend." How the change 
was brought about is not quite clear, but it was first made 
manifest to Nikon in the summer of 1658 when he received no 
invitation to a state banquet. On July 19 the same year, the 
Tsar, contrary to the practice of years, absented himself from 
Mass at the Feast of Our Lady of Kazan. The same day 
Nikon informed the people from the Cathedral pulpit that he 
was no longer Patriarch, and whosoever henceforth called him 
by that name was anathema. He then shut himself up in the 
Voskresensky Monastery near Moscow, and there he remained 
for two years, absolutely refusing to resume his functions. In 
February 1660 a Synod, held at Moscow "to terminate the 
widowhood " of the Moscovite Church, decided that Nikon had 
forfeited both his patriarchal rank and his priestly orders ; and 
this sentence, though much criticised at the time, was confirmed, 
on December 12 (O.S.), 1666, by an Ecumenical Council — 
or the nearest approach to it attainable in the circumstances — 
which was attended by Paisios, Patriarch of Alexandria, and 
Makarios, Patriarch of Antioch. The Patriarchs of Constanti- 
nople and Jerusalem were represented by proxy. This Council 
pronounced Nikon guilty of reviling the Tsar, of deserting the 
Orthodox Church, of deposing Paul, Bishop of Kolomna, 
contrary to the canons, and of beating and torturing his 
dependants. His sentence was deprivation of all his sacerdotal 
functions ; henceforth he was to be known simply as " the monk 

Far from being cowed by his sentence, Nikon, who had 
abated not a jot of his pretensions, and alienated all but a 
very few personal friends by his outrageous violence and 
invective, was defiant to the last. He questioned the juris- 
diction of the Council, overwhelmed the Greek prelates with 
abuse, some of which they certainly deserved, and refused to 
make the slightest submission. The same day, he was put in 
a sledge and sent away to a distant monastery. He survived 
his old friend Alexis, with whom he was subsequently recon- 

272 The Precursors of Peter ^ 1 649-1 689 [ch. 

ciled, by five years, expiring on August 17, 1681, in his 
seventy-sixth year. 

The Council, while deposing Nikon, had, at the same time, 
confirmed all the Nikonian reforms, and anathematised all who 
should reftise to accept the revised liturgies, the troeperstie ^ etc. 
Avvakum was among the first to suffer under this decree. 
He had returned to Moscow in 1662, when Nikon, though not 
yet dethroned, was in disgrace and powerless. Every one who 
had any reason to hate the Patriarch hailed the fiery arch- 
enemy of " Nikonism " as " an angel of God." Even at Court 
he was received with effusion ; and the Tsar frequently begged 
for his blessing. But, little more than a twelvemonth after his 
return from exile, the protopop's fanatical violence resulted in 
his second banishment — to Mezen, a little town near the 
White Sea. In 1665, by order of the Tsar, all the principal 
schismatics in exile, were summoned to Moscow to make their 
peace with the Church. Every conceivable effort was made by 
the Ecumenical Council to win over its most formidable 
opponent; for, by this time, Avvakum was regarded by the 
majority of his countrymen as " a Confessor for Christ's sake. " 
For ten weeks deputations passed between the Council and 
the protopop, but he answered all their arguments with ridicule 
and invective. When brought before the Council itself he 
refused to recognise its authority, and, finally. May 13, 1666, 
was pronounced a heretic and deprived of his orders. His 
further sentence was postponed until all the Greek Patriarchs 
had arrived. Then, for six weeks longer, all the resources of 
argument and persuasion were employed to convince Avvakum 
of the reasonableness of the Nikonian reforms. Never was 
ignorance so proudly invincible. When asked why he held 
out so obstinately against the whole Orthodox world, he could 
only taunt the Eastern Patriarchs with their political subjection 
to "the Turkish Mahomet. '' Then Avvakum and his three 

^ Making the sign of the cross with three fingers according to ancient 

xiii] The martyrdom of Awakum 273 

principal associates were handed over to the secular arm, 
and condemned to lose their tongues, and be banished to 
Pustozersk, on the Pechora, the northernmost town of European 
Russia. The mutilation, iii Avvakum's case, owing to the 
intercession of the Tsaritsa Maria, was remitted. 

For 14 years the great protopop remained at Pustozersk. 
At first his imprisonment was light and h^ was allowed to 
communicate with the outer world. But, when he abused this 
privilege by threatening the Tsar with the pains of hell unless 
he repented and restored the exiled schismatics, he was 
treated with a savage rigour only intelligible on the assumption 
of a deliberate intention of shortening his life. But the 
unconquerable spirit of the man sustained him. He added 
self-inflicted torments to the cruelties of his persecutors. He 
fasted till power of speech forsook him. He discarded his 
clothing and lay for hours in ecstatic trances. At last, his very 
gaolers became his disciples, and assisted in the propagation 
of his doctrines. The starved and naked anchorite became, 
in the clay dungeon at Pustozersk, the leader of a vast 
popular movement, and devoted the whole of his ample 
leisure to polemical literature. From 1673 ^^ his martyrdom 
in 1681^ he composed his autobiography, nine dogmatic 
treatises, and forty-three epistles. All these works were jotted 
down on odd pieces of rag which were then secretly conveyed 
out of the prison, carefully transcribed by the pilgrims who 
came to him for advice and comfort, circulated in hundreds 
of copies bound in costly velvet, kept in the schismatical 
churches close to the holy ikons, and revered like so many 
divine revelations. 

Avvakum's success as a controversialist is not surprising. 
Although his name will be found in very few histories of 
Russian literature, he was, undoubtedly, the first Russian who 
knew how to write his own language. While his literary 
contemporaries are still struggling in the meshes of an obscure 
^ He was burnt at the stake. 
B. 18 

2 74 The Precursors of Peter, 1649- 1689 [ch. 

and pedantic jargon, Avvakum's diction is a model of lucidity, 
abounding, moreover, with bold and original metaphors, and 
expressing every mood and feeling with a simple directness 
which was bound to catch and hold the popular taste. 

But, when we pass from the form to the substance of the 
heroic schismatic's teaching, we are amazed to find that, 
literally, there is nothing in it. The whole question turns on 
the minutiae of ceremonial, the veriest mint and cummin of 
ecclesiastical observance, the true history and bearing of which 
Avvakum, obviously, is either too ignorant to understand, or 
too obstinate to wish to understand. There is no question of 
dogma, no question even of discipline. On all essentials the 
Awakumites or " Old Believers," as they now began to style 
themselves, were really at one with the " Nikonians," or 

All Avvakum's writings breathe the fiercest intolerance and 
exaggeration. " Twere better for a man never to be born than 
to cross himself with three fingers instead of two" — is their 
constant refrain. He rejoices that the "land of Russia is 
sanctified by martyr-blood"; nay, he approves of wholesale 
suicide if there be no other way of avoiding conformity with 
" Nikonian practices." 

Yet, after all, to come to the root of the matter, Avvakum's 
objections to the Nikonian reforms are political rather than 
theological. He objects to them not so much because they 
are anti-christian as because they are anti-Russian. They are 
heterodox because they run counter to the national tradition ; 
and the national tradition is orthodox because it is the 
historical development of the belief of the independent Russian 
people. Thus the whole argument springs from a bigoted 

The dominant counsellor of Tsar Alexis in his later years 
was Artamon Sergyeevich Matvyeev. 

The early career of this remarkable man is wrapped in 
impenetrable mystery. His very parentage and the year of his 

xiii] Artamon Sergyeevich Matvyeev 275 

birth are uncertain. But, when the obscure figure of young 
Artamon first emerges into the light of history, we find him 
equipped at all points with the newest ideas, absolutely free from 
the worst prejudices of his age, a ripe scholar, and even an 
author of some distinction, though nothing but the titles of his 
works has come down to us. How *^ little Sergy *' became the 
close personal friend of the Tsar is equally unknown. We can 
only say that, in 167 1, they were already on the most intimate 
terms, and that, on the retirement of Orduin-Nashchokin, 
Matvyeev was entrusted with the conduct of foreign affairs. 
In striking contrast to Nashchokin, he was not in too great 
a hurry to get on ; and, though courageous enough to sacrifice 
his life for his principles, he tactfully avoided riding rough-shod 
over other people's prejudices, especially when those other 
people were both powerful and stupid. Matvyeev's house was 
a source of never failing delight to the receptive and inquisitive 
Tsar. It was like a bit of western civilisation transferred 
bodily into another age and another continent. Within its 
walls could be seen all the wondrous, half-forbidden, novelties of 
the West, painted ceilings, rich pile carpets, ingenious clocks, 
pictures by French and German artists. Matvyeev's wife, who 
is said to have been a Scotchwoman, moved freely among her 
male guests on equal terms, and drove out boldly in a carriage 
and pair instead of in a close-curtained litter. It was here that 
Alexis first encountered Natalia Naruishkina, Matvyeev's 
favourite pupil, whom the Tsar wedded on January 21, 1672, 
three years after the death of his first consort Maria. At the 
end of 1672, on the occasion of the birth of the Tsarevich 
Peter, Matvyeev was raised to the rank of okolnichy^. On 
September i, 1674, he obtained the still higher rank of Boyar. 
The influence of Matvyeev remained paramount to the end 
of the reign. Tsar Alexis, stimulated by his handsome young 
wife and her wise mentor, advanced along the path of progress 
at an accelerated pace which amazed himself. He who had 
^ The second highest degree of rank in the official hierarchy. 


276 The Precursors of Peter, 1 649-1 689 [ch. 

sternly banished even jugglers from his court while still but a 
youth now, in his old age, gave himself up to such heterodox 
diversions as stage plays. Yet Alexis had his scruples. His 
first consort Maria had been a stem rigourist. Gardens and 
palaces, in her opinion, might be all very well, but spectacles 
were damnable. But the Tsaritsa Natalia was of a joyous 
disposition ; and the good Tsar did his utmost to gratify his 
young consort especially as his own inclinations ran in the 
same direction. So, under the direction of Matvyeev, a 
Komidyeinnaya Khoromna, or " Hall of Comedy," was built at 
the Tsar's summer residence at the village of Preobrazhensk ; 
and, as Preobrazhensk was difficult of access in the winter, 
another such Hall was, in 1673, actually constructed in the 
sacred precincts of the KremP itself. Here plays of a biblical 
character^ were acted by a troupe of German actors directed 
by Timothy Hasenkrug. A ballet of sixty children and 
instrumental music were also introduced. The erection of 
these playhouses was a very important step forward on the 
path of progress. A Russian historian has even gone so far as 
to call them " the foundation stones of the regeneration of our 
social life." Certainly it was an immense advance when the 
very men who had shrunk from altering a single letter of the 
old Slavonic Bible were content to look on, complacently, 
while foreigners and heretics put the Bible itself on the stage 
before their very eyes. 

Tsar Alexis died on January 30, 1676. He was indubit- 
ably the most amiable and attractive of all the Moscovite 
princes. Even foreigners found it difficult to resist the charm 
of his gentle, humane, and essentially courteous disposition. 
No man was ever a kinder master, or a more affectionate 
friend. As a ruler, he was equally remarkable for his 
conscientiousness and his diligence. His education was 
necessarily narrow; yet he was learned in his way, read 

^ €^s ** Judith and Holoferaes,** ** How Artaxerxes ordered Haman to 
be hangeil/* etc. 

xiii] Tsar Theodore III 277 

everything written in the Slavonic language, wrote verses 
himself, and even began a history of his own times. Finally, 
Alexis possessed, in an eminent degree, the truly royal gift of 
recognising and selecting great men. The best of the statesmen 
who may be called the precursors of Peter the Great were 
discovered and employed by Peter's father. 

Tsar Alexis had thirteen children by his first consort, 
Maria Miloslavskaya — five sickly sons, three of whom pre- 
deceased him, and eight healthy daughters, all of them women 
of intelligence and character. Theodore III, his designated 
successor, a lad of fourteen, was greatly to be pitied. He 
possessed a fine intellect, and a noble disposition; he had 
received an excellent education, knew Polish as well as his 
mother-tongue, and even had some Latin. But horribly dis- 
figured, and half paralysed, by a mysterious disease, supposed 
to be scurvy, he. had been a hopeless invalid from the day of 
his birth. 

The deplorable condition of this unhappy prii^ce suggested 
to Matvyeev the desirability of elevating to the throne the 
sturdy little Tsarevich Peter, the son of Alexis, by Natalia 
Naruishkina, then in his fourth year. But the reactionary 
Boyars, among whom were the Stryeshnevs and the Milos- 
lavskies, the uncles and cousins of Theodore, all of them, 
more or less, hostile to the upstart Naruishkins, proclaimed 
Theodore Tsar (his right to the throne was certainly indisput- 
able); and Matvyeev was banished to Pustozersk on an 
easily established charge of witchcraft. Natalia Naruishkina, 
with her children Peter and Natalia, were at the same time 
banished from court. 

In 1679 Theodore married his first cousin Agatha, and 
assumed the sceptre. His native energy, though crippled, was 
not crushed by his terrible disabilities, and he soon shewed 
that he was as thorough and devoted a reformer as a man 
incompetent to lead armies or direct councils, and obliged to 
issue his orders from his litter or his bedchamber, can 

278 The Precursors of Peter^ 1649-1689 [ch. 

possibly be. The atmosphere of the Court ceased to be 
oppressive ; the light of a new liberalism shone forth in the 
highest places; petitioners were forbidden to address the 
Gosudar with the old servility ; and the severity of the penal 
laws was considerably mitigated. Theodore also founded an 
Academy of Sciences in the Zaikonnospasky Monastery, where 
everything not expressly forbidden by the Orthodox Church, 
including Greek, Polish and Latin, were to be taught by 
competent professors. 

But the most notable reform of Theodore III was the 
abolition of the system known as Myestnichestvo^ which had 
paralysed the whole civil and military administration of 
Moscovy for generations. 

In old Moscovy the family was everything, the individual 
nothing. The elders of every family were responsible for the 
behaviour of all the younger members of the same family, and 
bound to punish their misconduct, even after they had reached 
man's estate. If one member of a family were condemned to 
pay a fine, all the other members contributed to pay it off; and 
the elevation or degradation of one member of a family was 
the elevation or degradation of all the other members. This 
principle of family solidarity was carried out to its last 
consequences. Ivan Ivanovich, for instance, would refuse to 
serve under Semen Semenovich if any single member of Ivan's 
family had ever held a higher position than any single member 
of Semen's family; otherwise Ivan was held to have dis- 
honoured his whole family, and the honour of the family had 
to be upheld at whatever cost of suffering to the individuals 
composing it. Thus it came about that the Boyar, slavishly 
obsequious as he might be to the Gosudar in all other things, 
would rather quit the Tsar's table than sit below any other 
Boyar of inferior family ; rather endure imprisonment, or the 
terrible knout itself, than put himself bez myesfye^ "out of 
place," as the phrase went. To such a point was this principle 
of priority at last carried, that the members of one family 

xiii] Abolition of Myestnichestvo 279 

would resort to the most desperate expedients rather than 
yield precedence to another family, even when that family was 
obviously entitled thereto. Thus, to give but a single instance, 
the great national hero, Demetrius Pozharsky, refused, on one 
occasion, to admit the pre-eminence of the newly boyared 
Michael Saltuikov. Out of deference to Pozharsky, the claim 
was thoroughly examined, when it was discovered that 
Saltuikov's ancestors were undoubtedly superior to Pozharsky's. 
Pozharsky had nothing to say for himself, so he took to his bed 
and feigned serious illness. It is obvious how prejudicial to 
the public service this Myestnichestvo was bound to be ; during 
warfare, in particular, it frequently paralysed all military 
operations. It was no uncommon thing for subordinate 
officers to refuse to conduct troops to the nearest general 
because of the inferiority of his family, and petition that they 
might be sent instead to some other general of loftier origin. 
For the same reason one general often refused to serve under 
another general, even though the Tsar had appointed that 
other general generalissimo. The only remedy devisable 
against this claim for privileged insubordination was for the 
Tsar to proclaim beforehand that, so long as the war lasted, 
and so long only, all the officers without exception were to be 
bez myest'ye^ "out of place " — in other words, family rank was not 
to count during hostilities. 

It was Prince Vasily Vasilevich Golitsuin, sometimes called 
**the Great Golitsuin," especially by foreigners, whom he 
warmly protected, who first urged the necessity of abolishing 
Myestnichestvo, Golitsuin was unusually well educated. He 
understood German and Greek as well as his mother-tongue, 
and could express himself fluently in Latin. Born in 1643, ^^ 
entered the service of Alexis at an early age, and in 1676, was 
created a Boyar. Sent to the Ukraine to provide for its 
defence against the incursions of the Turks and Tatars, he 
returned to Moscow with the conviction that Myestnichestvo 
was at the root of Moscovy's deplorable military inefficiency. 

28o The Precursors of Peter, 1649-1689 [ch. 

The young Tsar was easily convinced by his arguments ; and a 
special ukaz removed, at one stroke, an abuse which had so 
long appeared unassailable. Henceforth all appointments 
were to be determined by merit and the will of the Gosudar. 
The fact that the dying Theodore could so readily remove so 
deep-lying and far reaching an abuse is a striking testimony 
to the steady, if silent, advance of liberal ideas in Moscovite 
society even since the death of Alexis. It is often too much 
taken for granted that Peter the Great created modern Russia. 
The foundations of modern Russia were laid while he was still 
in his nursery. 

On April 27, 1682, Theodore III died suddenly without 
issue, and without appointing his successor, so that the throne 
was left vacant. By the advice of the Patriarch and with the 
consent of the people assembled in the Red Square, the 
Tsarevich Peter was elected Tsar, in preference to his semi- 
idiotic half-brother Ivan ; and Matvyeev was hastily summoned 
to return to the capital and occupy the post of chief counsellor 
to the Tsaritsa Natalia, who had been appointed Regent during 
the minority of her infant son. But the elder branch of Tsar 
Alexis's family, the Miloslavskies, were by no means disposed 
to submit to the upstart Naruishkins, the younger branch of 
the same family. Fear also played a large part in the 
calculations of the Miloslavskies. Under Theodore, in their 
hour of triumph, they had mercilessly persecuted the 
Naruishkins ; but now the Naruishkins were in the ascendant 
and might persecute the Miloslavskies in the name of Peter 
but by the hand of Matvyeev. 

It was a portentous sign of the times that the malcontents 
unhesitatingly looked for guidance neither to Prince Vasily 
Golitsuin, nor to Prince Ivan Khovansky, the two leading 
generals of the day, but to a woman of five-and-twenty, who 
had been educated in the seclusion of the terem^ and, a genera- 
tion earlier, would not have dared to leave it. This product of 
the new enlightenment was the Tsarevna Sophia, the third 


xiii] The regency of Sophia 281 

daughter of Tsar Alexis. Both Natalia and Sophia had had 
a relatively superior education. But while, as the pupil of 
Matvyeev, Natalia belonged to the practical school of the West, 
Sophia's training, under the guidance of the learned monk, 
Polotsky, had been on more ecclesiastical lines. But her 
orthodoxy sat pretty lightly upon her. In emancipating 
herself from the restrictions of the ierem^ she had, at the same 
time, emancipated herself from its austere morality ; and her 
overwhelming passion for Prince Vasily Golitsuin was already 

A revolt of sixteen regiments of the Stryeltsui^ or Mus- 
keteers, who proceeded to the KremP to demand arrears of 
pay, three days after the proclamation of Peter, laid bare the 
essential weakness of the i)ew Government. The death of 
Matvyeev, who reached Moscow on May 15th and was torn to 
pieces, the same day, by the Stryeitsui, during a second revolt 
obviously inspired by Sophia and her friends, put an end to 
Natalia's regency altogether. On May 23, Ivan V was 
associated with his brother Peter as co-Tsar. On the 29th he 
was declared the Senior, and Peter the Junior Tsar, while the 
Tsarevna Sophia was proclaimed Regent during their minority. 
As Ivan was hopelessly infirm, half blind, and more than half 
idiotic, it is plain that this duumvirate aimed solely at the 
depression and humiliation of the Tsaritsa Natalia. Thus 
Sophia became the actual ruler of Moscovy. The Stryeltsui 
were not only pardoned for their atrocities but petted. A 
general amnesty was granted to them; and, at their special 
request, a triumphal column was erected in the Red Square to 
commemorate their cowardly massacre of Matvyeev and the 
Naruishkins on May 15 — 17. 

When, however, the still dissatisfied Stryeltsui^ in alliance 
with the more fanatical of the Old Believers, and prompted by 
the arch-conservative Voevode, Prince Ivan Khovansky, openly 
rebelled against Sophia, she shewed herself their mistress. 
After openly confronting them, on July 5, in the **Tesselated 

282 The Precursors of Peter, 1649-1689 [ch. 

Chamber," the great reception hall of the palace of the KremV 
when she rejected their petitions and confuted their arguments, 
she removed for safety's sake, in August, to the village of 
Kolmenskoe, where the Court remained till September ist, the 
Russian New Year. By this time Sophia and Khovansky 
were at open war ; and the latter was, most probably, aiming at 
the crown for himself. In the middle of September, the Regent 
felt strong enough to strike the first blow, and she struck 
fiercely. The Khovanskies, father and son, were suddenly 
seized and summarily executed; and, when Prince Vasily 
Golitsuin prepared to march against rebellious Moscow, the 
Stryeltsui sent a deputation to Sophia, begging for forgiveness, 
and the rebellion collapsed. On Nov. 6, the Court, satisfied 
with the fulness of its triumph, returned to the capital. 

During the seven years of her regency, Sophia left the con- 
duct of affairs in the hands of her lover and omnipotent 
minister Vasily Golitsuin. For a time all went well. Golitsuin 
was a dexterous diplomatist and a wise administrator ; but, as 
the paramour of the Regent, he held, from the first, an 
extremely difficult position; and her extravagant favours 
gradually raised up a whole host of enemies against him and 
made her extremely unpopular. The crisis came after his 
disastrous Crimean campaigns in- 1687-88^ Most of the 
malcontents rested their hopes for the future on the young 
Tsar Peter, who was the first to benefit by the growing 
unpopularity of his half-sister. Twice already they had come 
into actual collision. On the first occasion, Peter had objected 
to his sister's participation in a solemn procession to the Kazan 
Cathedral, which was, indeed, an unheard-of breach of ancient 
usage. On the second occasion, he had openly protested 
against the ridiculous rewards she had bestowed upon Golitsuin 
after a retreat which had only just stopped short of disaster, 
and absolutely refused to receive the Prince in audience when 
he came to thank Peter for his undeserved promotion. Sophia 
* See preceding chapter. 



xiii] Usurpations of Sophia 283 

was quite alive to the insecurity of her position. To use 
Solovev's quaint but apt analogy, like those who have sold 
themselves to the Devil, she might, for a time, enjoy all the 
good things of this world ; but Hell, in the shape of a monastery, 
awaited her at the end of her pleasant course. She had 
crowned her brothers in order that she might reign in their 
names. She had added her name to theirs in state documents, 
boldly subscribing herself ** Sovereign Princess of all Russia.'^ 
She had officially informed the Doge of Venice that she was 
the co-Regent of the Tsars. And meanwhile the terrible term 
of her usurped authority was approaching. Peter was growing 
up ; and Peter's mother, the long despised Tsaritsa Natalia, was 
beginning to criticise and even censure the doings of the 
Regent. Nay, she had protested openly against Sophia's 
assumption of the title of Sovereign. Something had to be 
done speedily; and, by the advice of her chief ministers, 
Golitsuin and the clerk of the Council, Shaklovity, she resolved 
to employ the Stryeltsui to dethrone Peter and place herself 
on the throne. But the Stryeltsui were deeply divided in 
opinion. Many of them regarded Peter as the rightful Tsar ; 
and it was by some of these friendly Stryeltsui that warning of 
the conspiracy against him was brought to Preobrazhensk, 
where he usually resided. (August 12, 1689.) He at once 
took refuge in the fortress-monastery of Troitsa, where he was 
speedily joined by his mother and sister. Presently he was 
fortified by the arrival of the Stryeltsui of the Sakharev 
regiment and other auxiliaries, and placed the supreme com- 
mand in the hands of Prince Boris Golitsuin, the cousin of 
Vastly, a man of superior intelligence and great force of 

So great was the consternation of the Regent in the Kreml\ 
on hearing that Peter had taken refuge in the famous bulwark 
of Moscovite orthodoxy and patriotism, that she sent the 
Patriarch Joachim to Troitsa to mediate. This was a false 
step, for, by so doing, she converted a valuable hostage into a 

284 The Precursors of Peter ^ 1649-1689 [ch. xiii 

formidable opponent. The Patriarch had long desired to 
escape from the treasonable atmosphere of the Kreml\ and 
his presence at the Troitsa Monastery immensely strengthened 
the position of Peter. From mid-August to September 4, 
Sophia attempted to inspire her drooping followers with some- 
thing of her own spirit. It was all in vain. On August 27 
the bulk of the Stryelisui deserted her. On September 4, the 
foreign legion in the German Settlement followed their example. 
On September 6, her own entourage compelled her to deliver 
up Shaklovity, the prime mover of the whole rebellion. Then 
all the Boyars of her party went over to Peter ; and Vasily 
Gblitsuin hid himself at the Regent's country-house at Medvyed- 
kovo. On the night of September 7, a full confession was 
extorted from Shaklovity, who was publicly executed, with his 
chief accomplices, on the nth. Vasily Golitsuin was spared, 
owing to the intercession of his cousin Boris, but was banished 
to Kiropol. Sophia was compelled to retire within the Novody- 
evechy monastery, but without taking the veil. 


PETER THE GREAT, 1689-1725. 

Earlier Years, 

Peter Aleksyeevich was born on May 30, 1672. In all 
respects he was a singularly backward child. He was two and 
a half before he was weaned, and in his nth year we find him 
still playing with wooden horses, and struggling with the 
difficulties of Russian etymology. After 1680 the lad had no 
regular tutor. From his third to his tenth year, he shared the 
miseries and the perils of the rest of his family. The stories of 
innocent children remorselessly persecuted by wicked relatives 
which other children learn from their nurses with comfortable 
tremours, were, in Peter's case, terrible experiences. At his 
second election, scenes of bloodshed were enacted daily before 
his eyes. He saw one of his uncles dragged from the palace, 
and butchered by a savage mob. He saw his mother's beloved 
mentor, and his own best friend, Artamon Matvyeev, torn 
bleeding from his detaining grasp, and hacked to piece3. The 
convulsions from which he suffered so much in later years must 
be partly attributed to the nervous shock and the haunting 
memories of these horrible days. 

Dunce though he might be from the pedagogues' point of 
view, the child was, nevertheless, of an amazingly alert and 
inquisitive intelligence. It is plain that he soon felt cramped 
and stifled in the dim and close, semi-religious, atmosphere of 

286 Peter the Great,. 1689- 17 25 [ch. 

old Moscovite family life. He escaped from the boredom and 
melancholy of Natalia's terem by rushing out into the streets ; 
and the streets of Moscow in the seventeenth century were very 
dirty streets. Already we notice what was to become a leading 
trait of his character, that rollicking joyousness — an exaggera- 
tion, no doubt, of his gentle father's sociability — which clutched 
at life with both hands, and squeezed out of it recklessly all 
the pleasure it could be made to yield. He surrounded him- 
self with bands of lads of his own age, preferably of the lower, 
rougher classes, and scoured the country, indulging in all sorts 
of riotous and scandalous pranks. There was no one near him 
of sufficient character and authority to keep the passionate, 
fiery nature within due bounds. From his tenth to his seven- 
teenth year Peter amused himself in his own way at Preobraz- 
hensk. But it was not all amusement. Mother Nature was 
already teaching him his business. From the first the lad took 
an extraordinary interest in the technical and mechanical arts, 
especially in their application to military science. In his 
twelfth year he built a wooden "toy fortress" on an earth 
foundation, with walls, bastions and ditches, which he after- 
wards took by assault at the head of half his band of boys while 
the other half defended it. By this time his tastes were pretty 
well known; and Prince James Dolgoruki, to please him, 
brought back from Paris the first astrolabe ever seen in 
Russia. Peter was taught how to use it by a Dutchman, Franz 
Timmerman, who also instructed him in the rudiments of 
astronomy and fortification. The same year he began to take 
that absorbing interest in boats and boating, the final result of 
which was to be the creation of the Russian navy. The river 
Yanza, which ran through Preobrazhensk, and was the nearest 
way to the German Settlement at Moscow, and the large lake 
at Pereyaslavl, eighty miles away, were the scenes of the 
indefatigable young navigator's exploits. 

The Revolution of 1689 at first made no difference in 
Peter's pursuits. He had, by this time, found a new friend in 

xiv] Franfois Lefort 287 

the Swiss adventurer, Francois Lefort, whom he first met in the 
German Settlement, probably at the beginning of 1690. Lefort 
was a reckless soldier of fortune, full of the joy of life and 
infinitely gay and amusing. Peter, who was nothing if not 
jovial, took to him at once ; and their intimacy was severed 
only by Lefort's sudden death in 1699. Lefort was certainly 
not the sort of Mentor that a young man's parents would 
select for him. It is clear that he initiated Peter into all the 
mysteries of profligacy in their favourite resort at the German 
Settlement. Not infrequently the whole company drank hard 
for three days together behind locked doors. Occasionally 
some of the guests died during the debauch. It was here, too, 
that Peter met his first mistress, Anna Mons, a German 
vintner's daughter. But Lefort was a shrewd as well as a 
pleasant rascal He was the first to divine that Peter was a 
genius who needed guiding to his goal. It was the drunken, 
disreputable, Lefort who persuaded Peter first to undertake the 
expedition against Azov, and then to go abroad to complete his 

It was in 1693 that Peter first saw the sea at Archangel. 
Here he fraternised with the foreign seamen, added the naval 
title of ** skipper" to his military title of "bombardier" (which 
latter he had won in 1694 at a "sham fight" of such severity 
that 24 men were left dead on the field), built and launched 
his first ship, and bought his first frigate, which was expressly 
made for him in Holland. 

But the White Sea, frozen as it was nine months out of the 
twelve, also soon became too narrow for Peter ; and he began 
to look about him for more hospitable waters. All sorts of 
projects were forming in his head. At first he thought of 
seeking a passage to China by way of the Arctic Ocean. 
Next he turned his eyes in the direction of the Baltic, but the 
Baltic was a closed door to Moscovy ; and the key to it was held 
by Sweden, still the second strongest military monarchy in 
Europe. The Caspian remained, and the best way of tapping 

288 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

the riches of the Orient was to secure possession of this vast 
inland lake. But so long as Turk, Tatar and Cossack nomads 
made the Volgan steppes uninhabitable, the Caspian was a 
possession of but doubtful value, as Stenka Razin*s exploits 
had demonstrated. The first step making for security was to 
build a fleet strong enough to provide against the anarchical 
condition of those parts, for which the presence of the hordes 
of the Khan of the Crimea was mainly responsible. But the 
Khan was himself the tributary of the Turks, so that a war 
with the Khan was necessarily a war with the Sultan. Never- 
theless Peter did not falter; and, the experience of Vasily 
Golitsuin having demonstrated the unpromising character of a 
Crimean campaign, the Turkish fortress of Azov, which could 
be approached by water from Moscow, became the Russian 

The campaign began early in 1695 and ended in unmiti- 
gated failure, the Turks surprising Peter's camp during a mid-day 
siesta and ruining all the Russian siege artillery at the 
beginning of August, while two subsequent attempts to storm 
the fortress were repulsed. On September 27 the siege was 
abandoned. On November 22, the Tsar re-entered Moscow. 

Yet from this disaster is to be dated the reign of Peter the 
Great, The young Tsar, fully accepting his defeat, determined 
to repair it by a second campaign. Immediately after his 
return, he sent to Austria and Prussia for as many engineers, 
sappers and miners, and carpenters, as money could get. He 
meant to build a fleet strong enough to prevent the Turkish 
fleet from relieving Azov. A model galley was ordered from 
Holland, and twenty-two copies were speedily made from it. 
The soldiers of the guards' regiments, and all the workmen 
procurable, were driven together to the forests of the Don to 
fell timber and build ships. Difficulties multiplied at every 
step. Forest fires destroyed the shipping sheds. At the end 
of March severe frosts, and at the beginning of April heavy 
snowstorms, were fresh impediments. Yet, a fleet of two 

xiv] Significance of the victory of Azov 289 

warships, twenty-three galleys, four fire-ships, and numerous 
smaller craft, were safely launched by the middle of April. 
Peter dwelt in a small two-roomed wooden house at Voronezh, 
where he lived among his workmen, himself the most strenuous 
of them all. 

On May 3 the "sea-caravan" sailed from Voronezh, 
"Captain Peter Aleksyeevich " commanding eight galleys of 
the flotilla from the galley Prtncipium^ built by his own hand. 
Nor was all this labour in vain. The new Russian fleet 
prevented the Turks from relieving Azov by water ; a general 
attack on the Russian camp was repulsed ; and on July 18 the 
fortress surrendered on condition that the garrison was allowed 
to march out with all the honours of war. 

The capture of Azov, like the capture of Kazan more than 
a century earlier, was one of those triumphs which strongly 
appeal to the popular imagination. It was the first victory won 
by the Moscovites over the terrible Turks, just as Ivan IV's 
success had been the first abiding victory won by the 
Moscovites over the Tatars, and it was of equal significance. 
On September 30, the Moscovite army made its triumphal entry 
into the capital. The procession was headed by Admiral- 
General Lefort and Generalissimo Shein, and behind their 
gilded sledges walked Captain Peter Aleksyeevich with a pike 
across his shoulder. 

But the real significance of the victory of Azov lay in the 
fact that it was a triumph of the new system which had brought 
in the foreign shipbuilders. Peter now felt able to advance 
along the path of progress with a quicker and a firmer step. 
At two Councils, held on October 20 and November 4, 1696, it 
was resolved to consolidate the victory by converting Azov into 
a first-class fortress, by establishing a new naval station at the 
head of the Sea of Azov, to which the name of Taganrog was 
given, and by building a national fleet at the national expense. 
But it was necessary to guarantee the future as well as to 
provide for the present. A prolonged war with the Ottoman 
B. 19 

290 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

Porte was a serious prospect for a poor and undeveloped country 
like Moscovy. It was therefore resolved to send a grand 
embassy to the principal Western Powers to solicit their co- 
operation against the Turk. At the same council it was 
resolved that fifty young Moscovites of the best families should 
be sent to England, Holland and Venice, to learn the arts and 
sciences of the West, especially shipbuilding, fortification and 
foreign languages, so as to make Russia independent of 
foreigners in the future. The experiment had already been 
tried on a smaller scale by Boris Godunov. It failed because 
the young Moscovites refused to return from civilisation to 
barbarism. Peter resolved to obviate this by being the pioneer 
as well as the ruler of his people. He would first be 4 
learner himself that he might be able to teach his peoplfe 

On March lo, 1697, the grand embassy under the leader- 
ship of Lefort set out on its travels. Peter attached himself to 
it as a volunteer sailor-man, Peter Mikhailov, so as to have 
greater facility for learning shipbuilding and other technical 
sciences. At Libau Peter first beheld the Baltic. Thence he 
proceeded by sea to Konigsberg, where he learnt the practice of 
gunnery from the great engineer Von Sternfeld. Peter was 
detained longer than he liked by the election to the Polish 
throne consequent on the death of Sobieski. The two 
principal candidates were Frederick Augustus, Elector of 
Saxony, and the Prince of Conti, who was supported by 
Louis XIV. Moscovy*s policy on this occasion was simplicity 
itself. It was a matter of indiff^prence to her who sat on the 
Polish throne so long as he did not abandon the Holy League 
against the Turks. But France favoured the Turks ; and Conti, 
as the French candidate, held out to the Polish electors the 
bait of a separate peace with the Porte. Peter was bound to 
oppose "the nominee of the Turks and Tatars," as he, not 
inaptly, styled Conti ; and he intimated to the Poles that the 
election of the French candidate would be regarded by Moscovy 

xiv] Revolt of the Stryeltsui 291 

as a breach of the peace between her and the Republic. Both 
candidates were elected ; and a brief civil war ensued, in which 
Frederick Augustus, proclaimed as Augustus II, ultimately 
prevailed. He ascribed his success in a great measure to a 
second minatory letter from Peter to the Sejtn, 

Peter's five months' stay at Saardam and Amsterdam and 
his subsequent visit to Deptford have been so often described 
that there is no need to retell the story here. Suffice it to say 
that he completed his education as a shipbuilder and returned 
to Holland in January, 1698, only to find that the Grand 
Embassy had failed in its main object of obtaining the help of 
the Western Powers against the Turks. All Europe, divided 
into two hostile camps, was anxiously awaiting the death 
of the childless, and long ailing, Carlos II of Spain ; and 
neither France, nor the Grand Alliance pitted against her by 
William III, was willing to plunge into the distant eastern war, 
with a war concerning the Spanish Succession at their very doors. 
At Vienna, whither he next proceeded, Peter was equally un- 
successful. He was about to go on to Venice, to persuade the 
Signoria to cleave to the fast dissolving Holy League, when he 
was suddenly recalled to Russia by the revolt of the Stryeltsui, 

The Stryeltsui had long been dissatisfied with Peter's 
administration. Analysed to its ultimate elements, their dis- 
satisfaction was the protest of indolent, incapable and 
excessively privileged troops against a new system which 
demanded from them more work and greater efficiency. 
Peter, they argued, gave them no rest at all. When actual 
fighting was over, he set them t6 building fortresses on the Sea of 
Azov ; and the last straw was added to their burden when he 
marched off four of their regiments from Azov to the distant 
Lithuanian frontier in view of a possible war with Poland, and 
sent other regiments from Moscow to Azov to supply their 
places. This the Stryeltsui regarded as little short of banish- 
ment ; and 150 of them deserted en route and returned to 
Moscow, on the plea that their pay was in arrear. Driven out 

19 — 2 

292 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

of Moscow, they rejoined their regiments at Toropets; and 
these regiments refused to obey an ukaz, subsequently issued 
by the Boyars, demanding the surrender of the fugitives. 
Feeling that they had now gone too far to turn back safely, the 
ringleaders stimulated the other regiments encamped on the 
Dwina to revolt. On June 6, 1698, a letter supposed to have 
been written by the Tsarevna Sophia, urging the StryeUsui to 
join her in force at the Dyevichesky Monastery, was read to 
them; and the whole force, 2200 strong, resolved to march 
against Moscow forthwith and destroy the German Settlement 
as the source of the new heretical ideas, and the Boyars as the 
oppressors of the people. The Gosudar was to be killed 
because "he goes with the Germans"; and, if Sophia refused to 
accept the vacant throne, it was to be offered to Prince Vasily 
Golitsuin, " because he has always been merciful towards us." 

There was great consternation at Moscow on the tidings of 
the approach of the Stryeltsuu By the advice of Boris Golit- 
suin, the foreign soldiery, 4000 strong, with 25 guns, were sent 
against the rebels and came upon them at the ford of the river 
Iskra. Three volleys sufficed to scatter the Stryeltsuu In an 
hour's time, all the rebels were in the hands of the Tsar's 
troops. It was only after the victory that the real carnage 
began. A strict investigation ensued. Many of the Stryeltsui 
were done to death by torture in their own camp. The rest 
were imprisoned to await Peter's good pleasure. On August 
26, Peter arrived at the German Settlement determined to 
drown all further contradictions in torrents of blood. The new 
era of enlightenment was to be inaugurated by a reign of terror. 

Peter was well aware that behind the Stryeltsui stood the 
sympathising masses of the Moscovite people, whom it was his 
mission to reform against their will. His foreign tour had 
convinced him of the inherent superiority of the foreigner ; and, 
this superiority once admitted, imitation of the foreigner was, 
to his mind, inevitable. Any such imitation had necessarily to 
begin with externals ; and Peter, with characteristic insight and 

XI v] The shearing of the beards 293 

thoroughness, at once fell foul of the long beards and oriental 
costumes which symbolised the arch-conservatism of old 
Moscovy. In old Moscovy beardless officials had had small 
chance of promotion. More than one Patriarch had excom- 
municated those members of their flocks who dared to shave. 
Against this curious superstition Peter struck with all his might 
the day after his return to Moscow. On August 16, 1698, the 
chief men of the Tsardom were assembled round his wooden 
hut at Preobrazhensk ; and Peter, emerging with a large pair of 
shears in his hands, deliberately clipped off the beards and 
mustachios of his Boyars. After thus vindicating the claims of 
common-sense, Peter prudently consented to a compromise. 
He decreed that, after September i, 1698, the old Russian 
New Year's Day, beards might be worn, but a graduated tax 
was imposed upon their wearers. Thus the beard ceased to be 
an object of worship, and a new source of revenue flowed into 
the Treasury. 

And now, without giving the reactionaries time to recover 
from this rude shock, the Tsar proceeded to horrify them by a 
strange and awful Bacchanalia, the like of which had never been 
known in Moscovy. From the middle of September to the 
end of October, 1698, banquets and drinking-bouts alternated 
with torturings and executions, in which the Tsar and his 
favourites played the part of inquisitors and headsmen. During 
these six weeks, no fewer than a thousand of the captive 
Stryeltsui were done to death with every refinement of cruelty. 
The ringleaders naturally fared worst of all. Their legs and 
arms were first broken on wheels at Preobrazhensk. They were 
then conveyed in carts to the Red Square at Moscow, where 
their backs were broken in the same way ; and they were left to 
die a lingering death, unless shot as an act of mercy by Peter's 
express command. The corpses were left in the ^ place of exe- 
cution for five months afterwards. 

Peter also seized this opportunity of breaking definitively 
with the past. The death of his half-brother, Ivan V, in 1696, 

294 Peter the Greats 1689-1725 [ch. 

had left him sole Tsar ; but Sophia, even in her monastery, had 
been a possible source of danger. He determined she should 
be a danger no longer. An intention, on Peter's part, to 
implicate her in the conspiracy is transparent from the first; 
but the most prolonged and exquisite tortures could extract 
nothing definite from the wretched Stryeltsuu The letter 
supposed to have been sent by her to them turned out to have 
been written by her elder sister Martha. Both the Tsarevnas 
were made nuns and shut up for life in nunneries under 
military supervision. 

A leading part in the terrible events of September-October, 
1698, was played by Peter's new favourite, Alexander Danilo- 
vich Menshikov. This extraordinary man, whom Peter 
literally plucked from the gutter to set among Princes, was of 
very base origin. He first emerges into the light of history, at 
twenty years of age, as a vendor of meat pies in the streets of 
Moscow. He was introduced to Peter by Lefort and took that 
favourite's place on his death in 1699. Ignorant, brutal, 
grasping and corrupt as Menshikov was, it is not too much to 
say that, after Peter, there was not a more alert, lucid and 
versatile intellect than his in all Moscovy, while his energy was 
boundless and inexhaustible. He could turn his hand to any- 
thing at a moment's notice. He could drill a regiment, build 
a frigate, administer a kingdom, and decapitate a rebel with 
equal facility. During the Tsar's first foreign tour, Menshikov 
worked by his side in the dockyards of Amsterdam, and, at the 
same time, acquired a thorough knowledge of colloquial Dutch 
and German. Henceforth, he became, indispensable. 

Another useful man who comes forward prominently at this 
time is Alexis Kurbatov, an intelligent financier of many 
expedients, who suggested to Peter a new source of revenue by 
introducing stamped-paper into Moscovy. He was also the 
first of a new order of. officials called Pribuilshchiki or 
" People on the spot," whose duty it was to extirpate corrupt 
practices by flogging and banishment. 

xiv] Theodore Golovin 295 

The last year of the seventeenth century saw a notable 
reform, which drew a sharp line of demarcation between old 
and new. By the ukaz of December 20, 1699, it was ordered 
that, henceforth, the New Year should not be reckoned from 
September i, supposed, as heretofore, to be the date of the 
Creation, but from January i. Anno Domini. 

Peter had brought home with him in 1698 the conviction 
that he must conclude peace with the Porte. It was his good 
fortune at this period to possess a foreign minister of the 
highest ability in Theodore Golovin, who, like so many others 
of his countrymen in later times, had learnt the business of a 
ruler in the Far East. During the regency of Sophia, he had 
been sent to the Amur to defend the new Moscovite fortress of 
Albazin against the Chinese. In 1689 he concluded with the 
Celestial Empire the Treaty of Nerchinsk, by which the line of 
the Amur, as far as its tributary the Gorbitsa, was retroceded to 
China because of the impossibility of seriously defending it. 
On Lefort's death in March, 1699, Golovin succeeded him as 
Admiral-General. The same year, he was created the first 
Russian Count; and the conduct of foreign affairs was com- 
mitted to him. 

Golovin's first diplomatic achievement was the conclusion 
of peace with the Porte. In April, 1699, the Moscovite pleni- 
potentiaries were sent to Stambul, not as usual, by land, but by 
sea, A man of war, commanded by a Dutch captain, awaited 
them at the new arsenal of Taganrog ; and they were escorted 
into the Sea of Azov by a fleet of nine warships, among which 
was the Apostle Peter flying the flag of skipper Peter Aleksyee- 
vich. On August 28 a Russian line-of-battle ship sailed for 
the first time into the Golden Horn, fired a salute, and cast 
anchor at the very gates of the Seraglio. The negotiations 
were opened in November, 1699, but, owing to the intrigues of 
Great Britain and Holland, who feared the commercial com- 
petition of Russia in the Euxine and the Levant, and of France, 
who dreaded her political influence, it was not till July, 1700, 

296 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

that a truce for thirty years was concluded between Russia and 
the Porte. By the terms of this truce, the Azov district and all 
the land extending from thence eastwards to the Kuban 
district for a ten hours' journey were ceded to Moscovy. The 
tribute to the Khan was waived. 

Peter had made peace with the Porte, and relinquished his 
original project of dominating the Black Sea, in the hope of 
compensating himself on the shores of the Baltic. The Baltic 
was nearer both to Russia and the West than the Euxine, and 
consequently a much more desirable possession. Moreover 
the Swedish government was now in the hands of an untried lad 
of sixteen. If the Baltic provinces were to be filched at all, 
now was the time to filch them. These were the considerations 
which induced Peter to accede to the league of partition, 
proposed by Patkul and negotiated by Augustus II of Poland, 
which resulted in the outbreak of the Great Northern War in 
1700. Into the details of this war there is no need to enter. 
They have been described elsewhere in another volume^ of this 
series. Here the Great Northern War can only be considered 
in so far as it affected or modified Peter's general plans, 
especially his plans of reform. 

Hitherto, historians have regarded the Great Northern War 
too exclusively from the soldier's point of view ; yet it was not 
so much an arena for the strife of heroes as, in the first place, 
a training school for a backward young nation, and, in the 
second place, a means of multiplying the material resources of 
a nation as poor as she was backward. Peter the Great under- 
took the war with Sweden in order that Russia might gain her 
proper place in the Northern Mediterranean. The possession 
of an ice-free sea-board was essential to her natural develop- 
ment; the creation of a fleet followed inevitably upon the 
acquisition of such a sea-board ; and she could not hope to 
obtain her due share of the trade and commerce of the world 

^ Scandinavia, Chapter XII. 

xiv] Necessity of reform 297 

till she possessed both. Not till after a bitter struggle of 
twenty-one years was this double object obtained. This struggle 
Peter rightly regarded as a long apprenticeship. When on Sep- 
tember 3, 1 72 1, he broke open the sealed packet containing 
the Peace of Nystad, sent after him by a special courier, he 
remarked, half jocularly, half seriously, "most apprentices serve 
for seven years, but, in our school, the term of apprenticeship 
has been thrice as long." 

In 1700 this long apprenticeship was only just beginning. 
Russia had still to be educated as far as possible up to the 
western standard, in order that she might be able to appreciate 
and utilise the fruits of western civilisation ; and thus it was 
that, during the whole course of the Great Northern War, the 
process of internal domestic reform was slowly but ceaselessly 
proceeding. The whole fabric of the State was being changed. 
New, brand-new institutions, on the western model, were 
gradually growing up among the cumbrous, antiquated and 
worn-out machinery of old Moscovy ; and new men, capable 
and audacious, were being trained beneath the eye of the 
Regenerator to help him in his Herculean task and carry on the 
work when he had vanished from the scene. At first, indeed, 
the external form of the administration remained much the same 
as before. The old dignities disappeared of themselves on 
the deaths of their holders ; for the new men, those nearest to 
Peter, did not require them. The great drag on the wheels of 
the Government was its penury, a drag which grew more and 
more sensible as the war proceeded. The expenses of the fixed 
embassies at foreign Courts (one of the earliest Petrine innova- 
tions) was a particularly severe drain on the depleted treasury. 
Every expedient to increase the revenue was eagerly snatched 
at. Taxation was made universal for the first time. The sale of 
spirits became a government monopoly, the administration of 
which was first entrusted to the newly instituted Rathhauser, 
by means of which Peter hoped to accustom his people to local 
self-government. A great impediment to commerce was the 

298 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

deplorable state of the currency. The ruble and the altuin^ 
were the units of account, but neither of them existed, the only 
coins in circulation being the well-worn silver kopecks and half- 
kopecks, most of which were further deteriorated by bisection 
and trisection. The currency was reformed by the coinage 
ukaz of March, 1700, which established mints for the stamping 
and testing of gold, silver, and copper coins by qualified masters. 
Previously to 1700, only from 200,000 to 500,000 coins had 
been annually struck in Russia. In 1700 the number rose to 
1,992,000, in 1 701 to 2,559,000, in 1702 to 4,534,000. 

Peter's two great objects at this period of his reign were 
external security and internal prosperity. The former he had 
obtained by the creation of the new army on a European 
model, the latter he hoped to promote by a whole series of 
administrative measures. In April, 1702, he issued his cele- 
brated ukaz for facilitating the immigration of foreign specialists 
into Russia on a scale never before contemplated. The 
invitation was made as tempting as possible, all such visitors 
being allowed full liberty of worship and permission to be 
judged by their own tribunals. To the better sort of Russian 
dissenters Peter was also very tolerant. His attitude towards 
the chief centre of the Bezpopovshchina or "Priestless Com- 
munity,'' founded, at the end of the seventeenth century, on the 
banks of the Vuiga, is characteristic of his general policy. The 
enterprise and organising genius of this wealthy community 
enabled it practically to monopolise the rich fisheries and 
hunting grounds of the White Sea, while the abundant harvests 
which filled its granaries to overflowing gave this colony the 
command of the corn market of St Petersburg. All danger 
from without was avoided by a composition with Peter, the 
Vuigovtsui agreeing to pay double taxes and to work, at set 
times, for nothing, in the state mines and foundries at Povyenets. 
In return for these services the Tsar permitted these lucrative 

^ A 3-kopeck piece. 

xiv] Educational and social reforms 299 

nonconformists full liberty of worship (ukaz of 1703) with the 
use of the old service books. 

From the first, Peter did much to promote education, 
especially education of a practical sort. Schools of mathematics 
and navigation were established, about 1702, in Moscow; and in 
1 703 another school was founded, at which geography, ethics, 
politics, Latin rhetoric and the Cartesian philosophy were taught. 
Great efforts were made to provide cheap books for the schools, 
the Pole Ilia Kopiewski, a great admirer of Peter, who set up 
a Russian press at Amsterdam, about 1697, being the chief 
worker in this field. In 1703 the first Russian newspaper 
appeared. It was entitled "Tidings of military and other 
events worthy of knowledge and remembrance," and consisted, 
for the most part, of extracts from the foreign gazettes. 

A whole series of ukazes were directed against social dis- 
orders and manifest abuses. In 1702 a regiment was sent to 
Kostroma to seize freebooters who were also landed proprietors, 
for committing all manner of outrages, and burning villages 
wholesale. In the same year, in order to minimise conflagra- 
tions, a ukaz directed that all houses should, henceforth, be 
built of brick instead of wood ; and fire-hose were introduced. 
In 1704 ukazes were issued forbidding midwives to kill 
misshapen children, and undertakers to bury corpses till three 
days after death. Other ukazes of the same period endeavoured 
to raise the tone of public morality and inculcate self-respect. 
Thus the ukaz of 1 704 sternly prohibited compulsory marriages, 
which had been one of the chief scandals and miseries of old 
Moscovite family life, released women from the captivity of the 
terem^ and compelled their husbands and fathers to admit 
them to all social entertainments. 

The death of the Patriarch Adrian in 1700 enabled Peter, 
by the advice of Kurbatov, to take the first step towards 
abolishing the Patriarchate, though there is no reason to 
suppose that Peter meditated doing this at first. Still, the 
Patriarchate was undoubtedly a danger to Peter at this period. 

300 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

The enemies of reform could always count upon the acqui- 
escence of the arch-pastor of the Russian Church. The 
Patriarch Joachim had protested against the employment of 
foreigners. The Patriarch Adrian had written forcibly against 
the shearing of beards. Adrian, however, was a timid, 
slothful man of whom Peter had no fear. An energetic but 
unfriendly Patriarch, on the other hand, would be the natural 
leader of a whole army of malcontents ; he would be a most 
dangerous rival, a second Nikon. In January, 1701, therefore, 
the administration of the temporalities of the Patriarchate was 
entrusted to a layman. Count Ivan Musin-Pushkin. His 
appointment was the first step towards a rigid inquisition into 
the administration of the Russian' monasteries, which resulted 
in the ukaz of December, 1701, depriving the religious houses 
of the control of their estates and making the monks the 
salaried officials of the government. The care of the spirituali- 
ties was entrusted to the learned Kievlyan Prelate, Stephen 
Yavorsky, with the title of Exarch of the most Holy 
Patriarchal See. He was at the same time made Metropolitan 
of Ryazan. Yavorsky, at first, offered no opposition to the work 
of. reform and did much for education. It was he who, as 
Rector of the Moscow Academy, introduced the teaching of 
Latin into that institution. 

All this time the popular disaffection was steadily growing. 
As the war proceeded, as the burden of taxation became more 
and more grievous, and the number of the recruits ever larger, 
the murmuring of every class of the population grew louder and 
louder. "What manner of Tsar is this," people said, "who 
makes our wives and children widows and orphans? If he 
lives much longer he will ruin the land ! " A printer named 
Grisha Talitsky, encouraged by Ignaty, Bishop of Tambov, 
actually printed and circulated a pamphlet proving that Peter 
was Antichrist. Yavorsky at the Tsar's command had to 
write a formal refutation entitled "The Signs of the Coming 
of Antichrist." On January 4, 1700, the Tsar irritated the 

xiv] The Astrakhan rebellion 301 

reactionaries still further by issuing the ukaz directing the 
general use of short Saxon, or Hungarian jackets, and French or 
German hgse. This was followed, in 1701, by the ukaz 
forbidding, from henceforth, under heavy penalties, the wearing 
of the cumbrous old Moscovite garments. This change of 
costume was intended to mark a complete and final rupture 
with the barbarous past. But, as Catherine II once remarked 
to Gustavus III, a century later, there is nothing more difficult 
than to change the traditional habits of a people ; and Peter's 
innovation was bitterly resented as being both indecent and 
irreligious. In Moscow itself resistance was out of the 
question; but at Astrakhan, in July, 1705, a very dangerous 
rebellion, headed by Old-believers, ex-Stryeltsui, and Cossacks, 
broke out. **We of Astrakhan," as the curious document 
reciting the grievances of the rebels runs, "have risen for the 
Christian faith, and because of the beard-shearing, and the 
German clothes, and the tobacco... and because our governors 
worship Kummerian idols ^ and would make us do likewise, and 
because of the taxes on our cellars and baths... and because 
we will not give up our old religion,*' etc. It required a 
whole army to put down this rebellion, which was not crushed 
entirely till Sheremetev took Astrakhan by assault on March 13, 

The Astrakhan rising was speedily followed by the Bashkir 
revolt, Bulavin's rebellion, and the treason of Mazepa, at the 
very crisis of the struggle with Charles XII. Yet never for a 
moment was the necessary but dangerous work of reform 
suspended. In 1 706 the first modern hospital was built on the 
Yantsa, close to the German Settlement. In 1707 a commis- 
sion of Boyars was appointed to devise the best means of 
dealing with the wholesale vagabondage and universal highway 
robbery which had ever been among the chief curses of old 
Moscovy. And, if eighteenth century Moscovites had little 
scruple about living on their own countrymen, they naturally 
^ These idols turned out to be the exhibited wig-blocks. 

302 Peter the Great, 1689-17 25 [ch. 

had still less about how they treated their country's enemies. 
Thus, in 1706, Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, reported to 
the Tsar that hundreds of Swedish prisoners were regularly sold 
to the Turks in the slave markets, to the great scandal of the 
Christian population. 

In 1708 Russia was divided into the eight "governments" 
of Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Smolensk, Archangel, Kazan, 
Azov, and Siberia, in order that the country might be adminis- 
tered "in a more orderly and peaceable manner." The chief 
duty of each governor was to see that the taxes were duly 
collected and transmitted to Moscow. On January 27, 17 10, 
the first Russian Budget was framed, showing an annual 
revenue of 3,016,000 rubles, or, taking a three years' average, 
3,133,000 rubles, while the total expenditure came to 3,834,000 

Absorbed as he was by the Swedish and Turkish Wars, 
which required his prolonged absence from Russia, Peter could 
not attend to the details of the domestic administration; but, as 
it could no longer be neglected, he instituted (ukazes of 
February 22, and March 2, 17 11) a supreme governing board, 
to which he gave the name of " the Administrative Senate." 
It was to take the place of the Tsar during his absence, receive 
the implicit obedience due to himself, and be responsible for the 
whole burden of the administration. 

By the ukaz of April 18, 17 18, an entirely new public 
service was introduced, the so-called Collegia, or Departments 
of State. The idea of this administrative reform was first 
suggested to Peter by Leibnitz. The Colleges were to be, in 
all points, on the model of the Swedish "Services," so that 
Peter may be said to have learnt the science of government as 
well as the science of war from his Scandinavian rivals. As 
finally constituted, these new public officers were nine in 
number, and corresponded roughly with the "ministries" of 
Western Europe. The presidents of the colleges were ipso 
facto members of the Senate, though not every senator was 

xiv] Local Government Reforms 303 

a minister. Most of the presidents were Russians, most of the 
vice-presidents foreigners, Peter invariably acting on the 
patriotic principle, not always followed by his immediate 
successors, that natives should always fill the highest posts, 
and that no alien should occupy any place that a Russian was 
equally capable of filling. 

Efforts were also made to simplify local government as 
much as possible by subdivision. Thus the various govern- 
ments were split up into districts (uyezdia\ each district 
having its own president assisted by a council of assessors 
elected by the gentry. In 1720, nadvornuie sudhui^ or 
courts of justice, were established in every town ; and Zemskie 
Kontoruiy or land-offices, where public account-books had 
to be regularly kept, were established in every district. 
The land-offices were to supervise the tax-payers, and report, 
regularly, to the Kammer Collegium^ or .chief fiscal board of the 
Empire. In 17 18 the old ulozhenie, or code of laws, which 
was found, in many respects, to be incompatible \v4th the new 
reforms, was remodelled according to the existing Swedish 
Code. A new law of succession was also introduced, the old 
practice of partitioning real estate being abandoned, and the 
custom of primogeniture introduced, principally to prevent the 
pauperisation of the great families. By the ukaz of January 16, 
1 72 1, all army officers, whatever their origin, were ennobled. 
But education had previously been declared to be the indis- 
pensable qualification for advancement in every branch of the 
service. Nay more, no gentleman was, - henceforth, to marry 
unless he had first been duly educated. The famous ukaz of 
January 20, 17 14, saw to this by ordering professors from the 
mathematical schools to go the round of the provinces and 
teach the children of the gentry arithmetic and mathematics. 

The Regenerator also laboured hard to develop and utilise 
Russia's latent resources. All landed proprietors were urged 
to search for and work the minerals on their estates, or the 
Government would do it for them. In 17 19 we find the silver 

304 Peter the Great, 1689-17 25 [ch. 

mines of Nerchinsk, the iron mines of Tobolsk, and the copper 
mines of Kungara in full working order. At Tula and Kashirsk, 
about the same time, Aleksyei Naruishkin founded iron works. 
Still more lucrative were the Lipski iron works, which were 
bound by contract to turn out 15,000 small arms of all sorts, 
including 1000 pistols, per annum. The Olonets iron foundries 
were important because of their proximity to Petersburg. No 
improvement was too small for the attention of the Tsar. Thus, 
in May, 1725, he ordered that corn should, henceforth, be 
reaped with scythes instead of with sickles. In 17 16 Nosov 
was sent abroad to hire shepherds and cloth-workers. The 
leather-trade had always been of the utmost importance. In 
J 7 16 alone, 133,467 poods were sent to Archangel for export. 
Peter did much for the leather industry. Master-tanners were 
sent from Reval to Moscow to teach the people there how to 
tan the leather properly ; and, after two years of such instruction, 
those of the Moscovite tanners who persisted in the old way, 
were to be punished by imprisonment and confiscation. 

The Government did what it could to protect the serfs from 
"their worst enemies, those drunken and disorderly masters 
who deteriorate their estates, laying all sorts of unbearable 
burdens on their peasants, and beating and tormenting them, 
so that they run away from their grievous burdens, for which 
cause waste lands multiply and the arrears of taxation increase." 
All such "masters" were to be placed under restraint as 
lunatics ; and their property was to be administered, by their 
nearest relatives, or by the State. Moreover, the ukaz of 
April 21, 1721, forbade the sale of serfs separately; they were 
only to be sold by families. 

Peter knew very well that the perennial emptiness of the 
Treasury was very largely due to peculation, that ancient and 
ineradicable vice of Russian society. He was not the man to 
leave the improvement of public morals to the gradual operation 
of time, and he was therefore very speedily committed to a 
struggle with the robbers of the Treasury almost as bloody as 

xiv] Peters struggle with peculation 305 

his struggle with the rebellious Stryeltsuu The vileness of 
some of the remedies he saw fit to adopt is eloquent as to the 
extent and virulence of the evil with which he had to cope. 
By the ukaz of August, 17 13, informers were invited to report 
all cases of defalcation to the Tsar, and promised the rank and 
the property of those whom they denounced. The ukaz of 
December 24, 17 14, further encouraged delators to come 
forward fearlessly, and not to be afraid to report against even 
their official superiors. The ukaz of January 28, 1 7 2 1 , instituted 
an order of official public-accusers, the Imperial Ober-fiscals, 
whose principal duties were to protect the revenue and supervise 
the administration of the Senate itself. On the other hand, 
owing to the public remonstrances of Archbishop Yavorsky, 
in 1 7 1 2, against the abuses of this espionage system, the ukaz 
of March 17, 17 14, imposed upon any fiscal, or other delator, 
convicted of a false accusation, the same penalty which would 
have been imposed upon the alleged delinquent if he had been 
found guilty. 

Villainous as the system was, it certainly brought much 
rascality to light. Take, for example, the famous Gagarin case, 
which is typical. 

In 171 1 the Ober-fiscal, Aleksyei Nestorov, reported to the 
Tsar that the Governor of Siberia, Prince Gagarin, was plun- 
dering the Treasury and had succeeded in monopolising the 
lucrative China trade for the exclusive benefit of himself and 
his friends. Nestorov sent a whole chest full of incriminating 
documents to the Senate for investigation, which Senator 
Count Musin-Pushkin, whom Nestorov had already reported to 
the Tsar for malversation, promptly ordered to be destroyed. 
But the indefatigable Ober-fiscal immediately set about collect- 
ing fresh evidence, and, in 17 17, he presented a second and 
much stronger indictment against Gagarin. Peter entrusted the 
further examination of the affair to Senator Prince Yakov 
Dolgoruki, but, becoming suspicious of him also, ultimately 
transferred the case to a committee of the officers of the Guard, 
B. 20 

3o6 Peter the Great, 1689-17 25 [ch. 

whom he could trust implicitly. A number of merchants were 
now examined, and they confessed not only that Gagarin had 
systematically corrupted all the Siberian officials to wink at his 
depredations, but that many of the Senators and Ministers of 
State were his creatures. Peter, now thoroughly aroused, 
despatched Major Likharev to Siberia to examine Gagarin on 
the spot. The Prince was tried and convicted of every sort of 
dishonesty. He had bought large quantities of government 
stores with government funds and then sold them on his own 
account at an enormous profit He had also burnt his account- 
books and established a system of intimidation which was 
perfect of its kind. Peter sent him forthwith to the gallows. 

Some of the Tsar's bitterest moments were due to the 
discovery of peculation on the part of those whom he loved and 
trusted the most. His own integrity in money matters was 
above suspicion. His pastimes, if rude and coarse, were simple 
and inexpensive. Every penny he could spare was devoted to 
the service of the State. He had a right to expect that those 
whom he had exalted and enriched should keep their fingers 
out of the public coffers. The worst offender was his own 
particular favourite, known as "little Alec." Every time the Tsar 
returned to Russia he received fresh accusations of peculation 
against Menshikov. As early as 17 11 he was in disgrace 
because of his shameful looting in Poland. Poland, indeed, 
had by this time become a sort of happy hunting ground, 
where, as Catherine H once phrased it, you only had to stoop 
down in order to pick up anything you liked ; but Menshikov's 
rapacity on this occasion seems to have staggered the Russians 
themselves. He had pillaged whole provinces systematically, 
and carried off waggon-loads of loot, and this too in a country 
actually in alliance with the Tsar. On his return to Russia, in 
17 12, Peter found that even in the new province of Ingria and 
Petersburg, of which he was Governor-General, Menshikov had 
winked at wholesale corruption. "You have represented 
honest men to me as rogues, and rogues as honest men," wrote 

xiv] Rascality of Menshikov 307 

the indignant Tsar on this occasion. " I warn you for the last 
time: mend your ways pr you will come to grief!" But he 
did not mend his ways. In 17 14, in conjunction with his 
principal colleagues and subordinates, he was implicated in 
astounding frauds on the Treasury. The exasperated Tsar did 
not spare his hand. Korsakov, the Vice-Governor of Peters- 
burg, was knouted publicly ; two Senators had their tongues 
seared with red-hot irons; and the worst of them, Prince 
Volkonsky, was subsequently shot. The most distinguished 
services in the past were not allowed to interfere with condign 
punishment in the present. Thus, towards the end of the 
reign, one of Peter's ablest diplomatists, the Vice-Chancellor, 
Shafirov, was dismissed from office for bribery, condemned to 
death, and only pardoned on the scaffold itself; while the Ober- 
fiscal Nestorov, who had brought so many malefactors to 
justice, was himself broken on the wheel for peculation. 
Menshikov, by far the most shameless scoundrel of them all, 
owed his head, on three several occasions, to Peter's partiality 
and the earnest supplications of the Empress-Consort Catherine. 
Extraordinarily difficult during this period of transition and 
transformation was the position of the Russian Church. As the 
sworn guardian of Orthodoxy, she was bound, in many respects, 
to observe a conservative attitude; yet patriotism equally 
obliged her not to oppose the beneficent civilising efforts of a 
reforming Tsar. Moreover, the Church herself was very much 
in need oi discipline. The number of unworthy priests had 
greatly increased in consequence of the influx into the ministry 
of many gentlemen who evaded military service by becoming 
candidates for holy orders. Efforts were also made to raise the 
status of the clergy, which had fallen very low, and to encourage 
public worship. The ukaz of 17 16 commanded everyone to go 
to confession at least once a year under heavy penalties. The 
ukaz of 1 7 18 compelled all parishioners to go to church every 
Sunday and holiday; and absentees were, henceforth, to be 
ineligible for public offices. But the real motive of this 

20 — 2 

3oK Peter the Greats 1689-17 25 [ch. xiv 

i/filittiituj: wii% Uf rriak/: the fxrr^ple hear the ukazes read after 
divifMT H*:rv'u'Ji ; %\n('Az in thrj«e day* of general ignorance, com- 
l^ftffttiv^ly /<TW i;rniUl nad the i^^z;?^/ posted up on the gates of 

Arr.lif;i»hop Vavomky, by this time, had Men somewhat 
into iWniayimr for cupousing the cause of the unfortunate 
1'wtritvirh Alexia and also for protesting, cryptically but still 
UfMiimtukrubly, against such patent irregularities as the putting 
ttwity of thr Twiritstt ICudoxia. He was therefore to a great 
nxtnfit >iiiprrsr!(ln(l by Thcophan, prefect of the Kiev academy, 
whom Vvir.r promoted to the archiepiscopal see of Pskov. 
Ilrncrrorth, TlH^ophun, though he was 23 years the junior of 
Htnphrn, wun th(! TNur'N chief counsellor among the clergy and 
dttjoyrd hiN unbounded confidence, while his right reverend 
brollirr of Kyu/.un had to be content with the sympathy of the 
ttrrh ronHrrvtttivtvpurty and the clergy ^f the old capital. 
Whrn Prirr, for the better regulation of church affairs, 
propoHr<l Iho cHtablishment of a ** Spiritual Department," 
Thoophwn ulont^ was entrusted with the drafting of the project, 
NO thttt ho nmy be regarded as the creator of what was 
«ub»njurntly known as "the Holy Synod." The imperial 
nmnifoNlo of Junuury. 1721, subsequently announced that his 
MwJoHty dtHMUod it cx|KHliont to entrust the conduct of spiritual 
w({)\m to u Hynodicul administration, as being more in keeping 
with iho spirit and traditions of the orthodox church. But the 
nH\l h^Hon \^f this intportant innovation is to be found in the 
sontonw whioh dinianxi that the Synod was substituted for 
tho l^atria^vhatc i "Inn^auso ^mple folk cannot distinguish the 
spiritual |H^wt^r fr\>u\ the svnvn*ign power, and suppose that a 
svtjwvw^r |^st\^r is a second Gosudar, the spiritual authority 
iM^itvji iv^a<\lc\l as higher ai\d bettor than the temporal'' 


PETER THE GREAT, 1689-1725. 

Later years. 

The strong and terrible reforming Tsar had triumphed over 
every obstacle, triumphed so thoroughly that any interruption 
of his work during his lifetime was inconceivable. But the 
thought " Will, my work survive me ? " haunted him persistently. 
Peter's anxiety was reasonable. His health was uncertain ; his 
half-taught pupils were few and divided ; the reactionaries were 
many and of one mind ; and they believed, rightly, that in the 
heir to the throne, the Tsarevich Alexis, they possessed a secret 
sympathiser who would, one day, reverse the whole policy of 
the Tsar Antichrist, and restore the old order of things. It 
was tragic enough that Peter's only son should be his father's 
worst ill-wisher ; but it is too often forgotten that Peter himself 
was, to a large extent, responsible for the beginnings of this 
unnatural hostility. Peter, as we have seen in the case of 
Menshikov, could forgive everything to those whom he loved. 
But to those whom he disliked he was inhumanly severe, and 
he pursued the objects of his hatred with a murderous vin- 
dictiveness which was rarely satisfied with anything short of 
their extermination. 

On January 27, 1689, the young Tsar had married, at 
his mother's command, the boyaruinya Eudoxia Lopukhina. 

3IO Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

Eudoxia would have made a model Tsaritsa of the pre-Petrine 
period, but she was no fit wife for such a vagabond of genius 
as Peter the Great. Accustomed from her infancy to the 
monastic seclusion of the terem, her mental horizon did not 
extend much beyond her embroidery frame or her illuminated 
service book. She was one of those Moscovite princesses who 
were not allowed to receive the foreign ministers lest they 
should, inadvertently, say something silly. After the birth of 
their second son, Alexander, on October 3, 1691, Peter 
practically deserted her, and on his return from abroad in 1698, 
shut her up in a distant nunnery because she would not consent 
to a divorce. In June, 1699, the Patriarch Adrian was terror- 
ised into divorcing her ; and the Tsaritsa Eudoxia disappeared 
from the world under the hood of ** Sister Elena." 

Peter's sole surviving son, Alexis, born on February 19, 1690, 
was ignored by his father till he was nine years old, when his 
education was confided to learned foreigners who taught him 
French, history, geography, and mathematics. In 1703, in 
order that he might practically apply his lessons, Alexis was 
ordered to follow the army to the field, as a private in a 
bombardier regiment, and, in 1704, was present at the capture 
of Narva. At this period the Tsarevich's preceptors had the 
highest opinion of their pupil. He was certainly of a precocious 
intelligence, and his disposition was naturally amiable. Of his 
ability, indeed, there can be no question ; unfortunately it was 
not the sort of ability that his father could make use of. . The 
Tsarevich was essentially a student, with strong leanings to- 
wards archaeology and ecclesiology. He resembled his grand- 
father Alexis ; but, with his knowledge of modern languages, 
his intellectual vista was wider, and he would doubtless have 
gone much further than his grandfather. Nevertheless, the 
quiet seclusion of a monastic library was the proper place for 
this gentle emotional dreamer, who clung so fondly to the 
ancient traditions, and was so easily moved by the beauty of. 
the orthodox liturgy. 

xv] Reactionary views of Alexis 311 

To a prince of the temperament of Alexis, the restless 
vehement energy of his father was very offensive. He liked 
neither the work itself, nor its object. Yet Peter, not un- 
naturally, demanded that his heir should help to fashion his 
future inheritance. He demanded from a youth with the 
nature of a recluse practical activity, unceasing labour, 
unremitting attention to technical details, the concentration of 
all his energies upon the business of government, so as to 
maintain the new State at the high level of greatness to which 
it had already been raised. In consequence of these stem 
demands on the one hand, and an invincible repugnance to 
execute them on the other, painful relations between father and 
son, quite apart from the personal antipathies already existing, 
were inevitable. 

Then, too, the clergy secretly encouraged Alexis in his 
resistance to his father. Stephen Yavorsky and the other 
arch-pastors of the Russian Church openly expressed their 
disapproval of the Tsar's new and strange ways; and, as a 
loyal son of the Church, the Tsarevich gladly listened to those 
who had the power to bind and loose. The person who had 
most influence over him was his confessor, Yakov Ignatev, a 
man of considerable force of character, who familiarised the 
Tsarevich with the idea of parricide. Thus, on one occasion, 
Alexis confessed to Ignatev that he had wished for his father's 
death. " God forgive thee ! " answered the priest ; " yet we all 
desire his death because there is so much misery in the nation.'* 

On October 14, 17 11, Alexis was married, greatly against 
his will, to Sophia Charlotte of Blankenburg-Wolfenbiittel, 
whose sister, almost simultaneously, espoused the heir to the 
Austrian throne, the Archduke Charles. Three weeks later, 
the bridegroom was hurried off by his father to Thorn, to 
superintend the provisioning of the Russian troops in Poland. 
For the next twelve months, Alexis was kept constantly on the 
move. Evidently, Peter was determined to tear his son away 
from a life of indolent ease, and make a new man of him. 

312 Peter the Great^ 1689-1725 [ch. 

Alexis was unequal to the strain. When, after returning from 
Ladoga, where he had been sent to superintend the building of 
ships, Peter, to see what progress his son had made in 
mathematics, asked him to produce for inspection his latest 
drawings, Alexis, to escape the ordeal of such an examination, 
resorted to the abject expedient of disabling his right hand by 
a pistol-shot. In no other way could the Tsarevich have 
offended his father so deeply. He had behaved like a cowardly 
recruit who mutilates himself to avoid military service. After 
this, Peter seemed to take no further interest in Alexis, whom 
he employed no more. Alexis consoled himself with the 
reflexion that the future belonged to him. He was well aware 
that the mass of the Russian nation was on his side. All the 
prelates but one were devoted to him. Equally friendly were 
the two great families, the Dolgorukis, and the Golitsuins. The 
Dolgorukis, who had first come prominently forward during 
the reign of Tsar Alexis, were well represented in every branch 
of the public service. They detested the all-powerful Menshikov 
and lost no opportunity of flattering and encouraging the 
Tsarevich. The Golitsuins were even more illustrious than 
the Dolgorukis. So far back as the days of Ivan III, their 
ambition had become a tradition. Their family was also well- 
placed and had supplied Peter with some of his ablest generals 
and diplomatists. Most of the other magnates were equally 
dissatisfied with Peter and equally devoted to Alexis. They 
argued, and Alexis agreed with them, that all he had to do was 
to sit still, and keep out of his father's way as much as possible 
and await the natural sequence of events. 

But with Peter the present was everything. He could not 
afford to leave anything to chance. All his life long he had 
been working incessantly with a single object — the regeneration 
of Russia — in view. The more difficult portion of that work 
was done. All that was required of his successor was sympathy 
and good-will. 

The Tsar gave Alexis what was evidently meant to be ^ last 

xv] Alexis flies to Vienna 313 

chance on the day of the funeral of the Princess Charlotte, who 
died on October 22, 17 15, four days after giving birth to a son, 
christened Peter. In a letter of terrible severity, Peter re- 
proached Alexis for his negligence and " inattention to military 
affairs " and threatened to deprive him of the succession, and 
cut him off " like a gangrenous swelling " if he did not amend 
the errors of his ways. 

It was now that Alexis showed what a poor creature he 
really was. Following the advice of his friends, he wrote a 
pitiful letter to his father, renouncing the succession in favour 
of his baby half-brother Peter* (bom the day after the Princess 
Charlotte's funeral) on the plea of ill-health and general 
incompetence. On January 19, 17 16, Peter offered his son 
the choice between amending his ways or becoming a monk ; 
and Alexis chose the latter alternative. Still Peter did not 
despair. On the eve of his departure for the Pomeranian 
campaign, he urged Alexis to think the whole matter over once 
more and do nothing hastily. Finally, on August 26, 17 16, he 
wrote to his son from abroad commanding him, if he desired 
to remain Tsarevich, to join the army without delay. Alexis 
thereupon fled for protection to Vienna; and his brother-in-law 
the Emperor Charles sent him for greater security to the 
fortress of San Elmo at Naples. That the Emperor sympathised 
with Alexis and suspected Peter of harbouring murderous 
designs against him is plain from his confidential letter to 
George I of England, whom he consulted in this delicate affair. 

Peter's agitation was extreme. The flight of the Tsarevich 
to a foreign potentate was a reproach and a scandal. He 
must be recovered and brought back to Russia at all hazards. 
But the operation was likely to be one of exceptional difficulty. 
It was therefore confided to the most subtle and astute of all 
the Moscovite diplomatists. Count Peter Tolstoi. 

Three days after his arrival at Vienna, Tolstoi had an 

1 The little Prince died a few months later. 

314 Peter the Great, 1689-17 25 [ch. 

audience of the Emperor and delivered his master's commands 
so forcibly, that Charles VI, by the advice of three of his most 
confidential ministers, permitted Tolstoi to proceed to Naples 
to see the Tsarevich. They also engaged not to prevent the 
Tsarevich's departure if he went willingly. 

On September 24, 17 17 Tolstoi arrived at Naples. His 
instructions were grimly precise. He was to assure the 
Tsarevich that, if he returned home at once, everything would 
be forgiven, and he would be restored to favour and have 
perfect liberty ; but, if he refused to return, his father, as his 
sovereign, would publicly denounce him as a traitor, while the 
Church would simultaneously excommunicate him as a dis- 
obedient son, in which case he might be sure that he would be 
fit material for the tormentors both in this world and the next. 
Peter himself wrote to Alexis in much the same strain, re- 
proaching him bitterly for thus exposing his father to shame, 
but, swearing solemnly "before God and His judgment seat," 
that if he came back he should not be punished in the least, 
but treasured as a son. 

Threats and promises notwithstanding, Alexis, though 
almost insane with terror, still held out. Tolstoi grew im- 
patient. He reported that only the most extreme compulsion 
could, as he phrased it, " melt the hard frozen obstinacy of this 
beast of ours"; and we can well imagine what such words meant 
in the mouth of a man who had not hesitated, when acting 
as ambassador at Constantinople, to remove an inconvenient 
secretary by poison. The unfortunate Tsarevich, who frft, 
instinctively, that he was fighting for his life against merciless 
enemies, at first stood firm and refused to depart ; but, when 
Tolstoi threatened to take away his mistress, the Finnish 
peasant girl, Afrosina, the companion of his flight, whom he 
loved passionately and whose pregnancy was now imminent, 
he instantly surrendered. He promised to return with Tolstoi 
to Russia on condition that he should be allowed to Hve quietly 
on his estates and marry Afrosina. To these terms, Tolstoi 

xv] The Moscow Process 315 

agreed ; and Peter himself solemnly confirmed them in a letter 
to his son, dated Nov. 18, 17 17. 

Alexis was now hustled out of Italy as stealthily as possible. 
On January 31, 17 18, he arrived at Moscow. 

But what was to be done with the Tsarevich? To allow 
hirti to live quietly at his country-house was to establish in the 
heart of Russia a centre of disaffection. And there yas another 
and serious difficulty to be faced. It was inconceivable that 
Alexis, of his own accord, could have ventured upon so bold 
a step as flight to a foreign potentate. He must have had 
aiders and abettors. Who were they ? Peter, nervously appre- 
hensive of the designs of the forces of reaction, scented a wide- 
spread domestic conspiracy, and determined to investigate the 
matter to the very bottom. 

The first step was to extort a full confession from the 
Tsarevich. On February 18, Alexis was brought before his 
father and a council of magnates. Paralysed with terror, he 
confessed himself guilty of everything, though no crime had yet 
been imputed to him, and abjectly begged for mercy. Then, 
on receiving a second promise of full forgiveness, he revealed 
the names of all his "accomplices," immediately afterwards 
renouncing his succession to the throne in favour of his half- 
brother, the infant Grand-Duke Peter Petrovich. The so-called 
accomplices, torn from their hiding-places and dragged to the 
torture-chamber, supplied the prosecution with evidence which, 
nowadays, would never be accepted in any court of justice. 
Nor did the clergy escape scot-free. Knowing that the eyes 
of the Orthodox were reverently fixed upon the Suzdal- 
Pokrovsky Monastery, where the ex-Tsaritsa Eudoxia was 
imprisoned, Peter resolved to strike a blow at the hierarchy 
through her which should terrorise all opposition. Accordingly 
"the nun Elena," together with many of her kinsmen and 
friends, including Dosithy, Bishop of Rostov, were seized and 
haled away to Moscow. Prolonged and oft-repeated torture 
could only extract from these unhappy creatures the fact that 

3i6 Peter the Great, 1689- 17 25 [ch. 

they sympathised with Eudoxia and believed in her future 
restoration. The Bishop had gone so far as to prophesy the 
coming of the glad event. Dosithy, previously degraded to 
the rank of a monk, that torture might be applied to him also, 
confessed that all of them had desired the death of Peter and 
the elevation of Alexis; but there was no evidence of any 

There was a lull in the prosecution of the Tsarevich's affair 
after the termination of " the Moscow Process,'' as it was called. 
On the arrival of Afrosina at Petersburg, however, in April, 17 18, 
the case was resumed. As the mistress and confidante of 
Alexis, she was the natural depository of all his secrets ; and 
these secrets were easily wormed out of her by Tolstoi and 
Menshikov. They did not amount to much, but they were 
sufficient to destroy Alexis. He had rejoiced at the illness of 
his supplanter, the little Grand-Duke Peter. He had said that 
when he was Tsar, he would order things very differently. He 
would have no ships, and keep the army for purely defensive 
purposes. He had predicted that, on the death of his father, 
a civil war would break out between the partisans of the old 
and the partisans of the new system, in which he would prevail. 
Immediately after this confession was obtained, Alexis was 
confronted with it. He tried to save himself by saying " yes ! " 
to everything. Yes, he had wished for his father's death ; he 
had rejoiced when he heard of plots against his father; he 
had been ready to accept his father's throne from rebels and 
regicides. At last the worst was known. It is true that there 
were no actual facts to go upon. Evil designs inforo conscientiae 
were all that could be alleged against Alexis. Nevertheless, 
in the eyes of Peter, his son was now a self-convicted and most 
dangerous traitor. His life was forfeit. The future welfare of 
Russia imperatively demanded his extinction. 

But now a case for casuists arose. Even if Alexis deserved 
a thousand deaths, there was no getting over the fact that his 
father had sworn, "before the Almighty and His judgment 

xv] PetcT^s dilemma 317 

seat," to pardon and let him live in peace if he returned to 
Russia. Did the enormity of the Tsarevich's crime absolve the 
Tsar from the oath which he had taken to spare the life of this 
prodigal son ? 

This question was solemnly, submitted to a Grand Council 
of prelates, ministers and other dignitaries, on June 13, 17 18. 
Five days later the clergy presented their memorial. It was 
a cautious, non-committal document, plainly inspired by fear, 
but unmistakeably inclining to mercy. If the Tsar would 
punish the fallen sinner, he would find numerous precedents 
for doing so in the Old Testament, though, on the other 
hand, the much injured Tsar David would have forgiven his 
persecutor, Absalom. But, if he were pleased to pardon, he 
had the example of Christ Himself, who said, "I will have mercy 
and not sacrifice." " But," concluded the memorial, "the heart 
of the Tsar is in God's hand ; let him choose what part he will.'' 

It is a significant fact, which says very little for the courage 
of the clergy on this unique opportunity of saving their friend 
the Tsarevich, that tKey entirely passed over the strongest, the 
most irrefragable, of the arguments in favour of Alexis, namely, 
the Tsar's solemn promise of forgiveness to his son, in reliance 
upon which Alexis had returned to Russia. On this crucial 
point they had not a word to say, although the Tsar had 
explicitly exhorted them to relieve his conscience on this very 

Peter was in a dilemma. There can, I think, be little 
doubt that he had, at last, determined to rid himself of his 
detested son ; but he certainly shrank from a public execution, 
the scandal of which would have been enormous and its 
consequences incalculable. The temporal members of the 
Council helped him out of his difficulty by expressing a desire 
to be quite convinced that Alexis had actually meditated 
rebellion against his father. If this were a genuine desire, it 
was, perhaps, a last effort of the Tsarevich's friends to save his 
life ; but, in view of what ensued immediately afterwards, I am 

3i8 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

rather inclined to suppose, that it was a pretext for bringing 
the Tsarevich to the torture-chamber where he might very 
easily expire, as if by accident, under legal process. The 
ordinary method of administrating the question-extraordinary 
was by means of the knout, a whip made of parchment cooked 
in milk and so hard and sharp that its strokes were like those 
of a sword. Practised executioners could kill a man with 
three strokes. There were few instances^ of any one 
surviving thirty. It was to this torture that the Tsarevich, 
never very robust and severely reduced by prolonged mental 
anxiety and suffering, was now submitted. On June 19 
he received five-and-twenty strokes with the knout, and be- 
trayed his confessor, Ignatev, who was also savagely tortured. 
On June 24, Alexis received fifteen more strokes, but even 
the knout could now extract not another word. On the 
same day, the Senate condemned the Tsarevich to death 
for imagining rebellion against his father, and for hoping 
for the co-operation of the common people and the armed 
intervention of his brother-in-law, the Emperor. The solemn 
promise of the Tsar, which the clergy had ignored, the Senate 
sophistically explained away. The Tsar, said they, had only 
promised his son forgiveness if he returned willingly ; he had 
returned unwillingly and had therefore forfeited the promise. 

This shameful document, the outcome of mingled terror and 
obsequiousness, was signed by all the Senators and Ministers, 
including the Tsarevich's secret friends and sympathisers, the 
Dolgorukis and the Golitsuins, and by three hundred persons 
of lesser degree. Two days later, June 26, 17 18, the Tsarevich 
died in the Citadel of St Petersburg. The precise cause of 
his death is still something of an enigma, most of the existing 
documents relating to it being apocryphal, the outcome of 
popular excitement and exaggeration. From a comparison 
and combination of the only two extant genuine documents 

1 Jud : En Rejse til Rusland^ etc. Juel had frequent opportunities 
of seeing the punishment inflicted. 

xv] Death of Alexis 319 

which throw any light on the subject, namely, (i) a "Record" of 
what took place in the office of the garrison-fortress on the 
morning of the Tsarevich's death, and (2) the official "Rescript" 
sent by Peter to his Ministers abroad for communication to 
foreign Powers, I gather the following facts. At eight o'clock 
in the morning of June 26, 17 18, the Tsar, accompanied by 
some of the chief dignitaries of the Empire proceeded to the 
fortress, and Alexis was produced and placed before them 
within the walls of a zastyenok}. His death-sentence was 
then suddenly read to him. The shock, acting upon an 
enfeebled frame, brought on a fit which lasted some hours; 
on his recovery, he was carried into the close-adjoining 
Trubetskoi guard-room, where he died. Peter never regretted 
his abominable, unnatural treatment of his son. He argued 
that a single worthless life stood in the way of the regeneration 
of Russia and was therefore forfeit to the commonweal. Thus, 
all rhetoric and exaggeration apart, we may safely say, taking 
all the circumstances into consideration, that Peter the Great 
deliberately cemented the foundations of his Empire with the 
blood of his son. 

However cemented, the Russian Empire was, now at 
any rate, an established and imposing fact. Its official birth- 
day dates from October 22, 1721, when, after a solemn 
thanksgiving service in the Troitsa Cathedral at St. Petersburg, 
for the peace of Nystad, the Tsar proceeded to the Senate and 
was there acclaimed "Father of the Fatherland, Peter the 
Great, and Emperor of All Russia." Some would have pre- 
ferred to proclaim Peter, Emperor of the East; but Peter 
himself preferred the more patriotic title. 

Prussia, the newest ally, and Holland, the oldest friend of 
the Tsar, were the first of the European states to recognise 
Peter's imperial title; but elsewhere the novelty was received 
with disfavour, especially at Vienna, where the emergence of 

^ A zastyenok was the screen, or partition, within which prisoners under 
arrest were tortured. 

320 Peter the Greats 1689-1725 [ch. 

a second Empire, which threatened to overshadow the Holy 
Roman Empire, gave great offence. With his ancient enemy, 
Sweden, Peter was now on friendly terms. By the Treaty 
of Stockholm (February 22, 1724), Russia contracted to assist 
Sweden, in case she were attacked by any other European 
Power, with 12,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry and nine ships of 
the line, Sweden undertaking in similar circumstances to 
assist Russia with 8000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, and six liners. 
The relations between Russia and France had also become 
much more cordial than heretofore. It was Peter's ambition to 
marry his second surviving daughter, Elizabeth, to the young 
King of France, Louis XV. But Bourbon pride proved an 
insuperable obstacle; and equally abortive were the efforts of suc- 
cessive French Ministers to bring about a better understanding 
between Great Britain and Russia. To prevent a renewal of the 
Anglo-Austrian Alliance, and to isolate the Emperor, were now 
the chief aims of the French Ministers, especially in view of 
the anticipated break-up of the Austrian dominions on the death 
of the sonless Charles VI. France, moreover, was anxious to 
keep Russia free from complications elsewhere, so that her 
mercenaries might be available against Maria Theresa, the 
daughter of Charles VI, to whom, by the Pragmatic Sanction 
of 17 13, he had irregularly transferred the succession to his 
dominions. A reconciliation between Great Britain and Russia 
was considered, at Versailles, to be the best way of steadying 
and restraining Peter. But such a reconciliation was extremely 
difficult. King George had an ancient grudge against the 
Emperor of all Russia ; and Peter's supposed friendship for the 
Jacobites was an additional obstacle. Peter himself was 
anxious to come to terms with Great Britain; but, on the 
other hand, he did not want to break definitely with the Tories 
who, as the enemies of his enemy, were his friends. In April, 
1722, the Pretender's agent, Thomas Gordon, informed the 
Tsar that the English nation was ready to rise for its lawful 
king, if only they had 6000 men and arms for 20,000 more. 

xv] Russia and Central Asia 321 

But as Peter could not embark upon such a vast enterprise 
without the cooperation of France, and as France desired to 
unite England and Russia instead of dividing them, the 
Jacobite project never had the remotest chance of success. 
It should also not be forgotten that the Tsar had got all that 
he wanted in Europe. During the last four years of his reign 
his policy was predominantly oriental. 

Peter never lost sight of the necessity of establishing and 
extending his influence in the Far East. In 1692 the Dane, 
Eliazer Isbrandt, was accredited to the Chinese Emperor, 
Shing-Su, the protector of the Jesuits, but his presents were 
returned to him because the name of Peter preceded the name 
of the Grand Khan in his credentials. In 17 19 Captain Lev 
Ismailov was sent to Pekin as the first Russian Minister- 
Extraordinary ; but he was not allowed to establish a regular 
embassy, or consulates. 

Peter, always in want of money, was first attracted to 
Central Asia by the report of the still unhanged Governor of 
Siberia, Prince Gagarin, of valuable gold deposits near the 
town of Erketi on the Amu Daria. The first Russian expeditions 
into Central Asia were disastrous failures owing to the incapacity 
of their leaders. In 17 16 Colonel Buchholtz was sent to build 
a fortress on Lake Yamuish, but was driven back by the 
Calmucks. The same year. Prince Alexander Cherkasky set 
out to explore the mouths of the Amu Daria and the shores of 
the Sea of Aral, to win over the Khans of Khiva and Bokhara to 
the Russian interest, and to attempt to open up a way to India. 
This expedition excited a general rising of Tatars, Bokharans 
and Khivans; and, in attempting to suppress it, in 17 17, 
Cherkasky was slain and his little army dispersed. 

In the vast district lying between the Black Sea and the 
Caspian three Powers, Russia, Turkey and Persia, were equally 
interested. The beginning of the Russian influence in these 
parts dates from the appointment of the capable Artamon 
Voluinsky as Russian Minister at Ispahan in 17 15. It is clear 

B. 21 

32 2 Peter the Great ^ 1689- 17 25 [ch. 

from his instructions, written by Peter's own hand, that he was 
sent rather as a pioneer than as a diplomatist. He was to find 
out what rivers fell into the Caspian and whether he could get 
to India by such rivers. He was also to take note of Gilyan 
and the other Caspian provinces, and record his impressions in 
a regular and copious diary. Voluinsky reported that in Persia 
rebellion was everywhere rampant, and that the Shah could 
scarce defend himself against his own subjects. He quitted 
Ispahan in September, 1717, after concluding a very advan- 
tageous commercial treaty with the Shah, and for the next four 
years vehemently urged Peter to invade Persia. This, however, 
was impossible during the continuance of the Swedish War. 
In the beginning of 1722 however, when the Afghans invaded 
Persia, defeated the Persian troops in two pitched battles, 
seized Ispahan and dethroned the Shah in favour of his third 
son Tokmash, Peter hesitated no longer. On July 18 he 
sailed from Astrakhan to Derbent at the head of 29,000 
regular, 70,000 irregular troops and 5000 sailors. On 
August 23, the Governor of Derbent surrendered the silver 
keys of the city to the Russian Emperor. But scarcity of 
provisions, difficulties of transport, and a fierce, persistent north 
wind, which wrecked most of the lighters, compelled Peter to 
retrace his steps to Astrakhan, building on his way the new 
fortress of Svety Krest between the rivers Agrakhan and Sulak. 
On his return to Russia, Peter notified the Persian Govern- 
ment that he would clear out all the Kurds and Afghans who 
were still ravaging the territories of the Shah, if the Caspian 
provinces of Persia were ceded to him by way of compensation. 
In December 1722 a Russian army-corps, under Colonel 
Shipov, began the work of deliverance by seizing the great 
trading centre of Resht. Simultaneously, General Matyushkin 
was operating against Baku, which Peter was very anxious to 
capture as being the key of the south-western Caspian district. 
The town protested that it had always been loyal to the Shah 
and could well defend itself against rebels, but it was stormed 

xv] Persian complications 323 

none the less, and by the Treaty of St Petersburg (September 1 2, 
1723) was ceded to Russia along with Derbent and the provinces 
of Gilyan, Mazanderan and Astrabad. 

The English, Austrian and Venetian residents at Stambul 
used the Russian invasion of Persia as a means of terrifying 
the Porte. In August 1722, the Grand- Vizier told Nepluyev, 
the Russian ambassador, plainly that Russia had better declare 
war against the Porte at once. The whole of the Tsar's reign, 
he added, had been one uninterrupted war, in which he 
had given no rest to any of his neighbours. Subsequently 
Nepluyev reported to his court that the Turks intended to 
conquer Persia and Georgia, and drive the Russians out of 
Daghestan. Fortunately, Turkey was not ready for war; 
and the acquisition of the Caspian provinces by Russia was 
a matter of comparative indifference to the Sultan. It was the 
spread of Russian influence in the Caucasus that he really 
dreaded. Yet, even so late as the beginning of 1724, war 
seemed highly probable, as the English Government left no 
stone unturned to make the Porte declare against Russia, 
and Nepluyev demanded his passports. Ultimately, however, 
by the Treaty of Constantinople (June 12, 1724), a compromise 
was arrived at, whereby the region extending between Shemak 
and the Caspian was divided between Russia and Persia. 

The reform of the internal administration engaged the 
attention of Peter immediately after the termination of the 
Swedish War. It began with the highest tribunal of all, the 
Administrative Senate. In 1722, Peter instituted the office of 
Procurator-General, whose duty it was to see that the Senators' 
performed their duties "in a faithful, zealous and orderly 
fashion according to the directions of the standing rules and 
ukases." Whenever the Procurator-General observed anything 
irregular, or illegal, in the proceedings of the Senate, he was 
instantly to admonish the Senate thereof in the plainest 
terms, and, if they neglected his admonition, he was to 
report the affair to the Gosudar. "He is in fact to be 

21 — 2 

324 Peter the Great, 1689-1725 [ch. 

our Eye," ran the ukase. The first Procurator-General was 
Paul Ivanovich Yaguzhinsky, the son of the Lutheran organist 
at Moscow, whom the Tsar probably first encountered in the 
German Settlement, where he attracted Peter's attention by his 
immense capacity for work and spirituous liquor, his perennial 
good humour, and inexhaustible vivacity. Yaguzhinsky was as 
capable as he was jovial. He was also the only man in Russia 
who could stand before the Emperor, even in his worst moods, 
without trembling. 

To keep a watchful eye upon defaulters and malingerers 
among the gentry, the office of Herald-Master was instituted in 
172 1. This functionary had to draw up lists of all the land- 
owners in the Empire, shewing who were in the service of the 
State and who were not, and giving the fullest details as to 
their families and occupations. A third newly appointed 
functionary " the Master of petitions," had to examine all the 
petitions presented to the various departments of State, and see 
that they were properly attended to. Peter also protected the 
Synod against the encroachments of the Senate and gave it 
a more independent position. The office of President of the 
Synod was abolished, but it received a civil assessor in the 
person of the " Ober-procurator of the Synod," an office 
established on May 11, 1722. The training of the clergy, 
especially of the Black clergy, or monks, the repression of dissent 
and superstition, and the promotion of the enlightenment of the 
people, were, henceforth, to be the principal functions of the 

Towards the end of the reign, the question of the succession 
to the throne caused the Emperor some anxiety. The rightful 
heir in the natural order of primogeniture was the little Grand- 
Duke Peter, a child of six ; but Peter decided to pass him over, 
because, as the son of the unfortunate Tsarevich Alexis, any 
acknowledgment of his rights would have excited the hopes of 
those who had sympathised with his father, and the fears of 
those who had had a hand in Alexis' murder. Time-honoured 

xv] The coronation of the Empress-Consort 325 

custom had hitherto reckoned primogeniture in the male line 
as the best title to the Russian Crown; but by the ustav^ or 
ordinance, of 1722, Peter denounced primogeniture as a stupid, 
dangerous, and unscriptural practice. The will of the reigning 
Sovereign was henceforth to fix the succession. The ustav 
was but a step to a more sensational novelty. In 1723 Peter 
resolved to crown his consort the Tsaritsa Catherine, whom he 
had already designated as his successor. Empress of Russia. 
The whole question as to what were the proper titles of the 
Emperor's family had previously been submitted to the 
consideration of the Senate and the Synod, who decided that 
Catherine should be called Imperatritsa, or its Slavonic 
equivalent Tsesareva. On November 15, 1723, Peter issued 
a second manifesto, in which, after explaining that, from the 
days of Justinian, it had ever been the custom of Christian 
Princes to crown their consorts, he proceeded, at some length 
and in very affectionate terms, to recite the services rendered 
to him by his Tsesareva in the past, especially during the 
Turkish War, for which great services^ he had resolved "by 
the authority given to us by God to reward bur Consort by 
crowning her with the imperial crown." 

On May 7, 1724, the coronation of Catherine took place 
in the Cathedral of the Assumption at Moscow with extra- 
ordinary pomp and splendour. The crown worn by Catherine, 
on this occasion, was the most costly and magnificent ever 
worn, hitherto, by a Russian sovereign. It was made on the 
model of the old Byzantine Imperial crown, and was studded 
with no fewer than 2564 precious stones. Each of its 
numerous pearls was worth ;£'5oo, but the most remarkable 
jewel of all was a ruby, as large as a pigeon's egg, placed 
immediately beneath a cross of brilliants at the apex of the 

In the course of the summer of 1724, the state of Peter's 
health caused great anxiety. In October, ignoring the warnings 

^ To this day the nature of these supposed services is unknown. 

326 Peter the Great, 1689-17 25 [ch. 

of his medical attendants, he undertook a long and fatiguing 
tour of inspection over the latest of his great public works, the 
Ladoga Canal, proceeding thence to visit the iron works at 
Olonetz, where he dug out a piece of iron 1 20 lbs. in weight 
with his own hands. In the beginning of November, he 
returned to St Petersburg by water. Perceiving, near the village 
of Lakhta, a boat full of soldiers on their way back to Cronstadt, 
stuck fast in a sand bank and in imminent danger of being 
drowned, he plunged into the water to render them assistance 
and was immersed to the girdle for a considerable time. His 
paroxysms immediately returned with redoubled violence, and 
he reached St Petersburg too ill ever to rally again, though he 
shewed himself in public as late as January 16, 1725. In the 
evening of the 28th he expired, in great agony. 

Peter's educational methods, if rough, were thorough, and 
they had already begun to leaven the seemingly still inert and 
sluggish mass of the nation. The Russian nation had really 
been taught not merely the arts and trades of life, but its duties 
and obligations also. From the first, the Regenerator, in his 
ukases, had been very careful to make everything quite plain. 
He was always explaining why he did this or that; why the 
new was better than the old, and so on; and we must 
recollect that these were the first lessons of the kind that 
the nation had ever received. What the educated Russian 
of today takes for granted, his forefathers, two centuries ago, 
first learnt from the ukazes and manifestoes of Peter the 
Great. The whole system of Peter was deliberately directed 
against the chief evils from which old Moscovy had always 
suffered, such as, dissipation of energy, dislike of co-operation, 
repudiation of responsibility, lack of initiative, the tyranny of 
the family, the insignificance of the individual. All his efforts 
were devoted to the task of releasing Russians from the 
leading-strings of an effete tradition, and making them act and 
think for themselves. They were to walk boldly with swords 
in their hands, not crawl along on crutches as heretofore. 

xv] Character of Peter's reforms 327 

Ability, wherever he found it, whether in the lowest ranks of his 
own people, or among foreigners, was, during his reign, the 
sole qualification for employment and promotion, so that, at 
last, it was almost a recommendation for a candidate for office 
to say that he was of no birth, or of alien parentage. Finally, 
the disgraceful old Moscovite proverb: "though flight is 
contrary to honour, it is good for the health," which was 
of universal application, during the seventeenth century, died 
out of the language, once for all, during the stress of 
the Great Northern War, when Russia served her military 


THE PUPILS OF PETER, 1725-1741. 

As soon as the Empress-Consort Catherine had recognised 
that the malady of the Emperor must end fatally, she had 
secretly instructed Menshikov and Tolstoi to sound the other 
senators as to the succession to the throne, and to take 
measures on her behalf generally. It was not so much 
personal ambition as the instinct of self-preservation which 
made her look to these men for help at this crisis. She knew 
that they dare not refuse to assist her. Neither Menshikov 
nor Tolstoi could escape destruction if a reaction set in ; and 
a reaction was bound to set in if the Grand-Duke Peter were 
now placed upon the throne. Their interests and perils were 
therefore identical with those of the Empress. Both ministers, 
with characteristic energy, at once proceeded to smooth the 
way to the throne for the only candidate who was likely to 
maintain the existing Petrine system. Menshikov's first step 
was to win over the officers of the Guard who had a profound 
veneration for the dying Emperor and regarded his consort as 
their comrade. The soldiers were not behind their officers in 
enthusiasm, especially after their arrears had been paid in full. 
" We have lost our father," they cried, " but we have still pur 
mother left" 

Menshikov meanwhile, with uncommon prudence, had 
reconciled himself with his numerous enemies, and, assisted by 

CH. xvi] Accession of Catherine I 329 

Tolstoi, succeeded in bringing all the higher clergy over to 
Catherine's side. Here, indeed, he met with little difficulty. 
The arch-prelates of the Russian church and the chief 
members of the recently instituted Holy Synod were in very 
much the same position as himself. No novelties are so 
detestable to the people at large as ecclesiastical novelties, and 
for these the archbishops were mainly responsible. They felt 
they must, in the circumstances, stand or fall with Tolstoi and 

All these measures were taken so quietly and quickly that 
the faction of the Grand-Duke Peter, which included the 
larger portion of the aristocracy and the clergy, at least half of 
the Senate, and many distinguished officers in the army, had 
no time to make any counter-move. Unable to obstruct, they 
were forced to follow the flow of events. A deputation of the 
Senate and Nobility accordingly waited upon the Empress, 
whom they found kneeling, bathed in tears, at the bed-side of 
Peter, who had just breathed his last. Respecting her grief, 
the Deputation withdrew; but presently Catherine rejoined 
them in the Council-Chamber, weeping bitterly, and recom- 
mended herself to their protection " as a widow and orphan." 
She was immediately proclaimed "Autocrat of all Russia," in 
accordance with a previous resolution of the Senate. A few 
hours later, all the Guards took the oath of allegiance, and the 
Senate followed their example. 

The true origin of the enigmatical woman who now sat 
upon the Russian throne was, until quite recently, one of the 
most obscure problems of Russian history. Briefly, she was 
one of the four children of a small Catholic yeoman in 
Lithuania, Samuel Skovronsky, and was born, most probably, 
in 1683. In an early stage of the Great Northern War, she 
fell into the hands of the Russians, and was brought into 
Sheremetev's camp, wrapped in a corporal's cloak to hide her 
nakedness. Menshikov purchased her from Sheremetev as a 
servant for his wife; and it was at Menshikov's house that 

330 The Pupils of Peter, 1725-1741 [ctt. 

Peter saw and appropriated her. She superseded Anna Mons 
as the Tsar's favourite mistress ; and, after the birth of their first 
daughter Catherine, Peter made no secret of their relations and 
resolved to marry her. Catherine Skovronskaya, though coarse 
and ignorant, was an uncommonly shrewd and sensible woman, 
with a magnificent physique, an imperturbable good-temper, 
and an absolute indifference to the hardships of a roving life, 
just the sort of wife, in fact, for a rough and ready peripatetic 
Russian soldier like "Peter the Bombardier." Her moral 
influence over him was extraordinary. She was the only 
person who had the skill and courage to soothe him in the fits 
of maniacal fury to which he was always subject. The first 
step towards regulating the relations of this strange couple was 
Martha's reception into the Orthodox Church, when she was 
rechristened Catherine Aleksyeevna. In 17 10 she received the 
title of Gosudaruinya, only given to sovereign Princesses, and 
in 171 1 she was publicly married to Peter. She bore him 
eleven children in all, of whom Anne, born in 1706, and 
Elizabeth, bom in 1709, alone survived her. 

Catherine's safest policy was, obviously, a policy of concilia- 
tion; and her earlier measures produced a very favourable 
impression, and greatly improved her position. A general 
amnesty was proclaimed immediately after her accession. The 
heavy poll-tax, which weighed severely on the peasantry, was 
reduced by one third ; and a decree of the Senate forbade, in 
future, the employment of soldiers in the construction of the 
Ladoga canal. But her greatest difficulty was to keep the 
peace among her jealous and turbulent servants, who were 
continually flying at each others' throats. There can be no 
doubt, however, that she favoured Menshikov. Nothing was 
done without his consent, and he had an offensive habit of 
silencing all opposition in the Senate by suddenly rising and 
declaring that the opinions he favoured were those of the 
Empress also. Nevertheless, he was not altogether so omni- 
potent as has sometimes been supposed. In many things, she 

xvi] The Supreme Privy Council 331 

preferred to follow the advice of other counsellors. Thus 
Tolstoi enjoyed her full confidence likewise ; and the manage- 
ment of foreign affairs was confided, almost entirely, to Andrei 
Osterman, a Westphalian, who had entered Peter's service 
in 1 7 17, succeeded Shafirov as Vice-Chancellor, and was 
ennobled for his brilliant diplomatic services at the Congress 
of Nystad. Another confidant of Catherine's was Charles 
Frederick, Duke of Holstein, the nephew of Charles XII, who 
had sought an asylum in Russia after the conclusion of the 
Great Northern War, and, on May 21, 1725, married the 
Tsesarevna Anne. 

The great administrative innovation of the reign of 
Catherine I was the "Supreme Privy Council," an idea of 
Osterman's. It was not, as the French Minister Campredon 
supposed, a move in the direction of limited monarchy, by 
associating the leading magnates in the government, after the 
model of an English Cabinet Council ; but rather an attempt to 
strengthen the executive by concentrating affairs in the hands 
of a few persons, instead of leaving them, as heretofore, to the 
care of a turbulent and distracted Senate. It was to consist 
(ukaz of February 26) of not less than six and not more than 
nine members, under the presidency of the Empress. Its 
powers were immense. No ukazes were, in future, to be issued 
till they had received the approbation of the Council. The 
control of the War Office, the Foreign Office and the Admiralty 
was transferred to it from the Senate. Subsequently, the 
Council received authority to revise the work of all the other 
Departments of State; even the election of Senators was 
subject to its approval. The resolutions of the Supreme Privy 
Council were to be unanimous ; but, in case of any difference 
of opinion, the matter was referred to the decision of the 
Sovereign, instead of being settled by the majority. The first 
five members of this august and omnipotent body were Men- 
shikov, Tolstoi, the Grand-Chancellor Golovkin (a mere figure- 
head), Osterman, and the leader of the reactionaries, Prince 

332 The Pupils of Peter, 1725-1741 [ch. 

Demetrius Golitsuin, towards whom Menshikov, for personal 
reasons, was drawing nearer. 

The foreign policy of Catherine I, if purely pacific and 
extremely cautious, was, nevertheless, dignified, consistent and 

During the first fifteen years after the close of the Great 
Northern War, continental diplomacy was dominated by 
George I of England and the Whigs. George I had rounded 
off his Hanoverian Electorate by despoiling Sweden in her 
direst extremity; but his territorial acquisitions had been so 
recent and so extensive that he was seriously apprehensive of 
losing them again. It was, therefore, his main object to form 
a league strong enough to maintain the existing order of things 
in Europe, against all possible disturbers of the peace. His 
most obvious confederates were those States which had also 
snatched something in the general scramble for Sweden's 
continental possessions, such as Prussia and Denmark. France, 
exhausted by the ruinous war of the Spanish Succession, was 
pacifically disposed. The Empire and Sweden were doubtful 
Powers. Spain was hostile to England, as she could not yet 
accustom herself to the loss of Gibraltar. The new great 
northern Power, Russia, was an object of distrust and jealousy 
to England, whose Baltic trade had suffered severely from the 
arbitrary restrictions placed upon it by the late Tsar. Russia, 
too, had given an asylum to the exiled duke of Holstein, and 
posed as his champion and defender, especially after he had 
drawn a step nearer to the Russian throne by his marriage with 
the Tsesarevna Anne. If the Duke chose to assert his 
ancestral rights, Denmark might be forced to surrender Sles- 
wick-Holstein, when George's enlarged electorate might be in 
danger. Thus Russia, by the mere force of circumstances, 
found herself, at the beginning of the reign of Catherine I, 
at enmity with England; and a contest between the Powers 
began at all the courts of Europe. On April 30, 1725, 
Spain concluded an alliance with the Emperor at Vienna, 

xvi] The Hanoverian Alliance 333 

which was looked upon as equally menacing to England and 
France. The response to the step was the Hanoverian 
Alliance, concluded at Herrenhausen, September 3, 1725, 
between England and France, to which Prussia immediately 
acceded. Russia was the first to feel the bellicosity of the 
Hanoverian Alliance. In the spring of 1726, Great Britain, 
startled by unfounded rumours that the Empress's government 
was massing troops in Finland, and equipping her fleet to 
promote the interests of the Duke of Holstein, sent an English 
squadron under Admiral Wager into the Baltic. Wager was 
the bearer of a letter to Catherine in which his Britannic 
Majesty declared that the armaments of Russia, in times of 
profound peace, could not but arouse the suspicions of Great 
Britain and her allies. " Our fleet," continued this despatch, 
"has been sent to preserve the peace of the North and prevent 
your fleet from putting to sea." Catherine declared, with 
spirit, that her fleet should put to sea not only that year, but 
next year also, if only to destroy the poor opinion people 
seemed to have abroad of the reign of a woman. Her dignified 
protest had some effect, and Wager withdrew his fleet ; but on 
August 6, 1726, by the advice of Osterman, Catherine acceded 
to the Austro-Spanish League. Denmark, thereupon, joined 
the Hanoverian Alliance (Treaty of Copenhagen, April 16, 
1727); and, shortly afterwards, -Sweden followed her example. 
Internally, meanwhile, Russia was being agitated by a 
question so serious as to dwarf all others — the question of the 
succession to the throne. The universal popularity of the 
young Grand-Duke Peter was, indeed, becoming a pressing 
danger. Anonymous letters reached Catherine and Menshikov 
daily, pronouncing woe against all who should set aside the 
lavrful heir ; and many of the clergy, while mentioning Peter's 
name in the prayer for the Imperial Family, applied to him the 
epithet ^^ blagochestivyeeshy^^' given only to reigning monarchs, 
instead of the proscribed " blagovyernyJ^ Both Osterman and 
Menshikov began to recognise the fact that it would be im- 

334 ^^^ Pupils of Peter, 1725-1741 [ch. 

possible to ignore, much longer, Peter's inalienable claim to 
the throne as the last surviving male of Peter the Great's line. 
So long as the Empress remained well and strong, there was but 
little danger; but, towards the end of 1726, Catherine's health 
began to fail, and, though it was apparently re-established in 
January 1727, her partisans had received a severe shock and 
thought it high time to begin to look after themselves. The 
position of Menshikov in particular was highly critical. During 
the last four months he had ruled almost as an absolute 
sovereign. His enemies were **as numerous as the hairs of his 
head " ; and his tyranny and violence had revolted them to the 
last degree. He knew that if he made a single false step he 
was lost. At this juncture, he was approached by the Austrian 
minister, Rabutin, with a project for securing the succession 
of the Grand-Duke Peter, in whom his uncle, the Emperor 
Charles VI, took a personal as well as a political interest. 
Menshikov eagerly caught at the project, stipulating for himself 
the first vacant electorate in the Empire, and, for his daughter 
Maria, the hand of the young Grand-Duke when he should 
have ascended the throne. To these conditions Rabutin at 
once agreed; and Osterman approved of them. But even 
now Menshikov was not out of danger. His change of front 
had raised up against him a most redoubtable adversary in 
Peter Tolstoi, who had even more reason than Menshikov 
himself to fear the accession of the Grand-Duke, and now, in 
consequence of the desertion of his lifelong colleague, suddenly 
found himself dangerously isolated. After vainly endeavouring 
to induce Catherine to repudiate Menshikov's scheme for the 
sake of her own daughter, he attempted to form a party of his 
own with the object of raising the Tsesarevna Elizabeth to the 
throne, with a Council of Regency to guide her. But Menshi- 
kov was too quick for him. At the end of January 1727, 
Catherine had a dangerous relapse ; and, though she rallied in 
April it was soon understood that there was but little hope 
of her recovery. Menshikov at once surrounded the dying 

xvi] Accession of Peter II 335 

Empress with his creatures; constrained her to make a will, 
the authenticity of which was, afterwards, strongly doubted 
though never actually disputed, appointing Peter her successor; 
and, when she was already in extremis^ arrested Tolstoi and 
his adherents on a charge of Ihe-majestk^ and banished 
them to various parts of Russia. The ukaz pronouncing 
their condemnation was issued early on May 16, 1727; on 
the evening of the same day Catherine I expired. 

At 7 o'clock the next morning, the members of the 
Imperial Family, the Supreme Privy Council, the Senate, the 
Synod, and the chief officers of the Guards, assembled at the 
Palace to hear the reading of the will of the late Empress 
declaring the Grand-Duke Peter her successor. As soon as the 
will had been read, all present kissed the cross in token of their 
allegiance to the new Emperor, whereupon Peter II, at the 
head of his ministers, and Privy Councillors, descended into 
the street and received the homage of the Guards. 

Peter II was still only eleven years old, but he was 
unusually tall and well-proportioned for his age. His grand- 
father, who hated him because he was his father's son, had 
systematically ignored him. To do Menshikov justice, it was 
his first care that the young Tsar should now be adequately 
trained for his high functions ; and Osterman was accordingly 
appointed his Governor. Even judged by a Western standard, 
the Russian Vice-Chancellor would have been pronounced a 
ripe scholar. He devoted himself to his new duties with a 
zeal and conscientiousness which did him infinite honour, and, 
easily and completely, won the heart of his pupil. Peter, 
moreover, had a still more intimate and affectionate mentor in 
his sister Natalia, who, although only twelve months older than 
her brother, might well have been twelve years his senior as 
regards wisdom and prudence. Young as she was, she had 
already learnt to recognise the value of western civiliss^tion, 
and to Osterman she was an invaluable coadjutor in his 
pedagogic labours. 

336 The Pupils of Peter, 1 725-1741 [ch. 

For the first four months of the new reign, the government 
was entirely in the hands of Menshikov, who, while ridding 
himself fi-eely of troublesome rivals by banishment to distant 
places under the guise of honourable employments, endeav- 
oured to attach to himself all able officials who were not 
over-ambitious, and win over such members of the old nobifity 
as were not too exacting. Foreign affairs were left in the hands 
of Osterman. At the end of August, Menshikov felt strong 
enough to expel the Duke and Duchess of Holstein from 
Russia, partly to gratify old grudges, and partly to disarm 
the suspicions of Russia's enemies and neighbours in the 
North. Tyrannous though it might be, the administration of 
Menshikov was capable, vigorous, and economical, and, best 
of all, conducted on the lines laid down by Peter the Great 
Still it was undoubtedly an usurpation, ignoring as it did the 
Supreme Privy Council, to which the will of the late Empress 
had transferred all her authority. He made himself as secure 
as he could by appointing himself Commander-in-Chief and 
literally kidnapping the young Emperor, whom he carried off 
to his Palace on Vasily Island. But, at last, the Emperor 
himself grew tired of the dictator's domination ; and, shortly 
after Peter's espousals with Maria Menshikovna had been 
publicly announced, an ukaz dated September 20, 1727, 
deprived Menshikov of all his charges and emoluments for 
conspiracy against the Crown, fined him 500,000 rubles, and 
banished him to Kazan. He was subsequently transferred to 
Berezov, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, where he died at 
the beginning of 1730. 

The triumph of Menshikov's enemies proved to be the 
triumph of the reactionary Russian nobility as represented by the 
ancient princely families of the Golitsiiins and the Dolgorukis. 
Their domination might have been very mischievous to Russia 
but for the counteracting influence of Osterman, almost the 
sole representative in the Government of the Petrine system. 
The Dolgorukis would have overthrown the Vice-Chancellor 

xvi] Predominance of the Dolgorukts 337 

if they could, but Peter protected his Governor against all their 
efforts. Nevertheless, they went very far towards carrying out 
their reactionary principles. They removed the young Tsar 
from St Petersburg to Moscow (January, 1728). They recalled 
to court the long-neglected and half-forgotten ex-Tsaritsa 
Eudoxia. They appropriated the lion's share of the corona- 
tion honours (February, 1728). They usurped an authority 
unattainable by Menshikov in the plenitude of his power. 
They had cunningly calculated that the equable climate and 
pleasant environs of Moscow would make it a much more 
enjoyable residence than the foggy and humid St Petersburg 
with its melancholy wastes of bog and fen ; and the young Tsar 
speedily began to look back upon the new capital as a dungeon, 
and forbade those about him even to mention the name of 
St Petersburg. Henceforth there was not even the pretence of 
study on his part, and he gave himself up entirely to hawking, 
hunting, and shooting, accompanied everywhere by a dozen or 
more Dolgorukis. In these circumstances affairs were left to 
take care of themselves ; and Osterman began to fear lest the 
removal of the Court to semi-Asiatic Moscow might mean a 
relapse into barbarism. The Supreme Privy Council did not 
meet for weeks at a time; and, on the rare occasions when 
'* their Sublimities" came together, they did little more than 
drink a dram, nod in their gilded arm-chairs, and refer all 
business details to the already over-burdened Vice-Chancellor 
whom alone they had to thank for prosperity at home and 
tranquillity abroad. 

For the reforms inaugurated under Catherine I by Men- 
shikov and Osterman had begun, at last, to bear good fruit. 
Trade and commerce were reviving ; money was beginning to 
flow steadily, if slowly, into the Treasury ; the people, relieved 
of their more oppressive burdens, were happier ; and the land 
was more prosperous than it had been for years. Abroad, too, 
such political changes as had taken place were favourable to 
Russia. On the death of George I, the British Government 

B. 22 

338 The Pupils of Peter, 17 25-1 741 [ch. 

had, indirectly, hinted at the desirability of resuming friendly 
relations ; and an unofficial political agent, Claudius Rondeau, 
was sent to Russia to see how the land lay. The chief political 
event of the period was the attraction of Spain to the 
Hanoverian Alliance by the Treaty of Seville, in 1729, which 
resulted in the drawing together still more closely of Austria 
and Russia by way of counterpoise to " the Allies of Seville," as 
the members of the Hanoverian Alliance were now called. 
The two Powers agreed to maintain the integrity of Polish 
territory against the intrigues of Prussia, frustrated the dynastic 
schemes of Augustus II by exploding the Diet of Grodno, 
and succeeded in keeping Maurice of Saxony out of Courland. 
The principal domestic event of the period was the death 
of the Grand-Duchess Natalia on December 7, 1728. This 
was a severe blow to Osterman, as it removed the last obstacle 
to the reactionary tendencies of the Dolgorukis. At the end 
of November he had said to the Spanish Ambassador, the 
Duke of Liria, "If we lose the Grand- Duchess, who still 
possesses a little influence with her brother, and we do not 
return to St Petersburg, I shall demand my dismissal." A 
deplorable state of things prevailed at the new capital. The 
Swedish minister, Cedercreutz, reported to his government that 
the galley-fleet was steadily diminishing, the grand or ocean 
fleet was rotting in the dockyards, and there was such disorder 
at the Russian Admiralty that it would be impossible to place 
the navy in its former condition in less than three years. 
There can be no doubt that the navy was purposely neglected. 
The Dolgorukis seemed to have gained an absolute dominion 
over the mind of the young Emperor. After the death of the 
Grand-Duchess, they boldly transferred all the Colleges, or 
Departments of State, from St Petersburg to Moscow as the first 
step towards a permanent transfer of the seat of government 
from the new capital to the old. The Emperor was, at the same 
time, betrothed to Catherine Dolgorukaya, and the wedding 
was fixed for January 30, 1730. All their schemes were 

xvi] Prince Demetrius Golitsuin 339 

frustated, however, by the death of Peter II, of smallpox, very 
early in the morning of the day that had been fixed for his 

From midnight till 5 o'clock the next morning, the members 
of the Supreme Privy Council had been in anxious consultation 
behind closed doors. Death, or misadventure, had reduced 
the number of their Sublimities to five persons ; and the most 
sagacious of the five, Osterman, after closing the eyes of his 
pupil, locked himself up in his own apartments where he was 
immediately laid up with a feigned attack of gout in the hand. 
In his absence the lead was taken by the one man of character 
among the remaining Supreme Privy Councillors, namely, 
Prince Demetrius Golitsuin, who, after patiently awaiting his 
opportunity for more than thirty years, was now to rule Russia 
for something less than thirty days. Golitsuin was essentially 
a Grand Seigneur, a type comparatively rare in Russia, though 
common enough in Poland. Proud of his ancient lineage, he 
had always considered himself entitled to fill the highest offices in 
the State ; yet, hitherto, his qualifications had been disregarded. 
Frowned upon by Peter the Great, passed over by Catherine I, 
set aside by Peter II, he had had ample leisure to reflect 
upon the meaning of this singular and exasperating neglect, and 
had come to the conclusion that such a scandal as the non- 
employment of one of the noblest magnates in the land was 
due entirely to favouritism. Autocracy had established 
favouritism — then autocracy must be abolished. Let the 
monarchy be made a limited monarchy, and favouritism must 
disappear. Then, and only then, could the national aristocracy 
take its proper place beside the throne. Now, apparently, he 
had the opportunity of carrying out his long-cherished design. 
The only question was: who should be chosen to fill the 
vacant throne ? That Peter the Great's family must be excluded 
was to Golitsuin a matter of course. He had never been able 
to regard Catherine I as Peter's lawful consort; and, con- 
sequently, in his eyes, the children of Peter were illegitimate. 

22 — 2 

340 The Pupils of Peter, 1725-1741 [ch. 

It was necessary, therefore, to go back to the elder line of the 
Romanovs, and seek a successor to the throne from among 
the descendants of Peter the Great's elder brother Ivan V. 
Golitsuin fixed upon Ivan's third daughter Anne, the widowed 
Duchess of Courland. Having quitted Russia twenty years 
before, as a girl of sixteen, she stood apart from all political 
factions, and she had, besides, a reputation for sobriety and 
common-sense. Golitsuin had little difficulty in bringing his 
four colleagues over to his opinion ; and a grand assembly of 
the Synod, the Senate, the officers of the Guard, and the 
representatives of the nobility, subsequently convened, pro- 
ceeded, on the motion of Golitsuin, to elect Anne as successor 
to the Russian throne. A deputation was sent forthwith to 
Mittau, to inform the Duchess of her election and conduct her 
to the Russian capital. 

The deputation was provided with secret instructions. 
They were to inform the Duchess that she could only be 
elected conditionally upon her subscribing, in their presence^ 
certain Articles which the Council had already drawn up for 
her signature, whereby she was solemnly to engage, (i) to 
govern solely through the Supreme Privy Council ; (2) not to 
marry, or appoint her successor, without its consent; (3) to 
relinquish the prerogatives of declaring war, concluding peace^ 
and conferring appointments; (4) to surrender the command 
of the army to the Council; (5) not to disgrace any member 
of the nobility without due cause; and, generally, to do 
everything which the Council might consider necessary for 
the good of her subjects. » 

On February lo, the Council was relieved of much anxiety 
by the arrival of a courier from Mittau with the Articles signed 
by the new Empress, and a reassuring promise to observe 
everything contained therein unreservedly. Then only did 
Golitsuin make public his audacious political innovation at 
another assembly of the Senate, Synod, Nobility and Guards 
which sat in the KremP. The proposal was received but 

xvi] Accession of Anne Ivanovna 341 

coldly ; and Yaguzhinsky, who, though he had been kept in the 
background during the last two reigns, had not forgotten that 
he had once been " Peter's eye," openly protested against the 
Golitsuin Constitution, and despatched a courier to Mittau 
advising the Duchess not to submit to the dictation of a 
handful of usurping aristocrats. His courier was captured, 
whereupon he was deprived of all his offices and emoluments 
and sent to the dungeons of the KremP, The same day, thirty 
other people were arrested by the Council, on various pretexts ; 
and all the approaches to the Palace, where their Sublimities 
held their reunions, were guarded by troops. These prompt 
measures prevented for a time the outbreak of a revolution. 
The Malcontents, though numerous, lacked a leader, and 
had perforce to keep quiet till the arrival of the Empress- 
Elect, while "the republican gentlemen," as Rondeau calls 
them, amused themselves, every day, in endeavouring fruitlessly 
to frame a new Constitution. 

Anne speedily shewed her hand. She had evidently been 
well primed beforehand by her friends and Golitsuin's enemies; 
and there can be little doubt, that, during the anxious fortnight 
after her arrival, Osterman, whose keen political instinct told 
him that a limited monarchy was impossible in eighteenth 
century Russia, was her secret adviser. On March 8, 1730, 
her partisans, by a skilful coup-diktat^ obtained her recognition 
as Autocrat by the Guards and the Nobility; and she tore " the 
Articles of Mittau " to pieces with her own hands, amidst loud 
applause. The Supreme Privy Council was then abolished ; and, 
five weeks later, the Dolgorukis, as being the most forward and 
insolent of the constitutionalists were disgraced, and banished 
to various parts of the Empire. 

Anne Ivanovna, when she ascended the Russian throne, was 
in her thirty-seventh year. Her natural parts, if not brilliant, 
were at least sound ; her carriage was dignified and majestic ; 
but her features were coarse and masculine, and her temper 
was sullen and extremely vindictive. Having lived the best 

342 The Pupils of Peter, 1725-^1741 [ch. 

part of her life among Germans, and with her favourite, the 
brutal German ex-equerry, Ernst Johann Biren, or Biihren, 
constantly at her side, she could have but little knowledge of 
or liking for her own countrymen ; and her first experience of 
the Russian nobility had certainly not predisposed her in their 
favour. Naturally suspicious and resentful, she felt that she 
could never trust the Russians with power after what they had 
done or attempted to do to her. She must henceforth 
surround her throne with persons entirely devoted to her 
interests ; and these persons, from the nature of the case, could 
only be foreigners. Most of these foreigners she brought with 
her ; but the best of them she found ready to her hand when 
she arrived. Two Germans, both of them the pupils of Peter 
the Great, lent particular lustre to her reign — Osterman, already 
Vice-Chancellor, and Burkhardt Christoph Miinnich, who had 
settled in Russia, since 17 19, by the invitation of Peter the 
Great, and in 1732 was made a field-marshal and commander- 
in-chief by Peter's niece. 

Under Catherine I and Peter II Russia had stood still, but 
under Anne her advancement, in every direction, was unmis- 
takable. Vigorous measures were taken to arrest the decay and 
repair the damage done to the State during the haphazard sway 
of the Dolgorukig. Particular attention was paid to the national 
armaments. A College of Cadets was instituted, as a sort of 
nursery for the Army, at a cost of 30,000 rubles per annum. 
Special commissioners were appointed to enquire into the 
condition of the army and the fleet. The state of the Navy 
was found to be alarming, scarce twelve liners being in a 
condition to put to sea. It was resolved to re-construct the 
whole fleet, but gradually, so as to lighten the expense as much 
as possible. 

The first foreign event of importance with which Anne's 
government had to deal was the question of the Polish 

On the death, on February i, 1733, of Augustus II, the 

xvi] Reappearance of Stanislaus Leszczynski 343 

last act of whose discreditable reign had been an attempted 
partition of Poland between Prussia and himself, the Primate 
of Poland, Theodore Potocki, endeavoured, with the aid of 
France, to replace Stanislaus Leszczynski on the Polish throne. 
France was not slow to champion a cause which was preeminently 
her own. As a preliminary measure, 4,000,000 livres of secret 
service money were despatched from Versailles to Warsaw for 
bribing purposes (the Emperor had already sent a million of 
ducats in support of the contrary, that is to say the Saxon, 
interest); and the French Ambassador, Monti, succeeded in 
gaining over to the cause of Stanislaus, the influential palatine 
of Lublin, Adam Tarlo, by promising him the Grand-Hetman- 
ship of Poland. The great Lithuanian family of Czartorysky, 
and Stanislaus Poniatowski, Palatine of Masovia, the one really 
capable statesman that Poland then possessed, supported the 
same side. In a circular letter to all its representatives abroad, 
the French Government declared that it could not regard with 
indifference the political extinction of a power to whom France 
was bound by all the ties of honour and friendship, and 
whose liberties she was prepared to defend against every enemy. 
Encouraged by this vigorous demonstration, the Polish Primate 
proceeded to use, freely and fully, his by no means inconsider- 
able prerogatives; it was principally due to his efforts that 
Stanislaus was elected King of Poland for the second time, on 
September 9, 1733. 

When the news of the death of Augustus reached St Peters- 
burg, a Council of Notables was summoned, which unanimously 
agreed that the interests of Russia could not permit her to 
recognise Stanislaus Leszczynski, or any person directly depen- 
dant on France, as a candMate for the Polish throne. Austria 
and Russia thereupon made a joint protest at Warsaw against 
the candidature of Stanislaus ; but as they, at first, had no alter- 
native candidate of their own to offer, the interrex disregarded 
their menaces and proceeded with the election. Meanwhile 
the Russian Minister at Dresden had concluded (August 14, 

344 ^^ Pupils of Peter, 1725-1741 [ch. 

1733) a compact with the Saxon Elector, Augustus, the son of 
the late King of Poland, whereby, in consideration of his 
acceding to the Austrian Pragmatic Sanction, Russia and 
Austria undertook to establish him on the Polish throne. 
Eighteen regiments of Russian infantry and ten of cavalry 
were then directed towards the Polish frontier, while 10,000 
Cossacks were, at the same time, ordered up from the Ukraine. 
Stanislaus, having no forces at his disposal (the Polish r^ular 
army existing otlly on paper), thereupon quitted the defenceless 
capital and shut himself up in Dantzic^ with his chief adherents 
and the French and Swedish Ministers, to await reinforcements 
from France. 

In October 1733, 20,000 Russians, under the command of 
the gallant Irish adventurer Peter Lacy, reached the right bank 
of the Vistula and were joined by a band of Polish malcontents 
who had already placed themselves under the Empress's 
"august protection," and thus given her a pretext for direct 
intervention. On the 6th a phantom Diet, consisting of but 15 
Senators and 500 of the szlachta^ assembled at Warsaw, and 
proclaimed the Elector of Saxony King of Poland. 

The Empress had hoped to terminate the Polish difficulty 
in a single campaign ; but this hope had soon to be abandoned. 
Almost the whole of Poland was in favour of Stanislaus ; the 
country swarmed with his armed partisans ; and he himself lay 
secure in the strong city of Dantzic. It was of paramount 
importance to Russia that Stanislaus should be driven out of 
Dantzic before the French arrived; but the fortress was a 
strong one, and, from the end of 1733 to the middle of March 
1734, defied all Lacy*s efforts to take it. On March 17, 
Lacy was superseded by Miinnich, but he also could make 
little impression on the place. On May 9, a vigorous assault 
was repulsed with the loss of 2000 men and 120 officers. 
On May 20, the long-expected French fleet arrived, and 
disembarked three regiments under the command of La Motte 
Perouse, But this little army could do but little and in the 

xvi] The intrigues of France 345 

middle of June was surrounded, forced to surrender, and sent 
to St Petersburg as prisoners of war, on the Russian fleet. Two 
days later the fortress of Weichselmiinde fell ; and on June 30, 
Dantzic also surrendered unconditionally after sustaining a 
siege of 135 days which cost the Russians 8000 men. King 
Stanislaus, disguised as a peasant, had contrived to escape. 
The war continued to smoulder for another twelve months. 
Finally by the Peace of Vienna, Oct. 3, 1735, Augustus III 
was recognised as king of Poland. 

The War of the Polish Succession was scarce over when 
Russia found herself involved in a fresh war with the Porte. 

From the beginning of 1733 onwards, the Court of 
Versailles exhausted all the resources of its diplomacy to 
bring about a simultaneous rupture between Russia and her 
northern and southern neighbours, Sweden and Turkey, so as 
to prevent her from rendering assistance to the Emperor. A 
rupture with Sweden was prevented by the sobriety of the 
Swedish Premier, Count Arvid Horn, and the interposition 
of Great Britain who, through her minister at Stockholm, 
succeeded in renewing for twelve years from 1735 ^^ expiring 
treaty of alliance between Russia and Sweden. The diplomatic 
struggle at Stambul was more acute, but all the efforts of the 
French Ambassador, the Marquis de Villeneuve, were frustrated 
by the Russian Ambassador Ivan Nepluyey. Towards the end 
of 1735, however, Nepluyev himself advised the Empress to 
attack the Turks, who had emerged from the long Persian war 
with Kuli Khan much damaged and discredited. He re- 
presented the whole Ottoman Empire as weak to the last 
degree and even tottering to its fall. His arguments convinced 
the Empress and her Council. The way was prepared by a 
definitive treaty between Russia and Persia, whereby the former 
retroceded Daghestan to the latter and evacuated the fortresses 
of Derbend, Baku, and Svyestui Krest. Russia was now 
untrammelled in the East ; conjunctures were favourable ; the 
treasury was full to overflowing; and everything promised 
success. A formal declaration of war was sent by Osterman to 

346 The Pupils of Peter y 1725-1741 [ch. 

the Grand Vizier at the end of 1735; and Miinnich was ordered 
to proceed from the Vistula to the Don to open the campaign. 

The Turkish war of 1 736-1 739 marks the beginning of 
that systematic struggle on the part of Russia to recover her 
natural boundaries towards the south, which was to last through- 
out the eighteenth century. A glance at an historical map of 
Europe will shew that Turkey, at this time, controlled the mouths 
of the five great rivers, the Dniester, the Bug, the Dnieper, the 
Don, and the Kuban, that drain southern Russia, and therefore 
could control and even suspend, at will, no inconsiderable portion 
of her rival's commerce. The Khan of the Crimea, moreover, 
from his capital at Bagchaserai ruled over all the Tatar hordes 
from the Dnieper to the Don, and let them loose upon Russia 
at every opportunity. The approaches to the peninsula itself 
were very strongly guarded. As the Turks had the absolute 
command of the sea, no danger was apprehended from that 
quarter ; on the land side, the lines of Perekop protected the 
narrow isthmus which united the Crimea to the mainland, while 
the fortress of Azov, at the head of the sea of the same name, 
commanded the Delta of the Don and was thought sufficient 
to prevent any attack from the north-east. 

In the early autumn of 1735, Miinnich arrived at the lines 
of the Ukraine, the name given to the chain of fortifications, 
a hundred leagues in length, connecting the Dnieper and the 
Donetz, devised by Peter the Great to keep the Tatars out of 
central Russia and completed between 1731 and 1738. Here 
Miinnich perfected his arrangements for the ensuing campaign. 
He and his colleague, Marshal Lacy, were to attack the enemy 
simultaneously, the German invading the Crimea, and the 
Irishman besieging Azov. On April 20, Miinnich began his 
march across the steppes to Perekop, a distance of 330 miles, 
with 47,000 men, including the Cossacks. On the only 
occasion when the Tatars ventured to attack him (at Chernaya 
Dolina), they were easily repulsed; and on May 15, Miinnich 
sat down before the lines of Perekop, a deep trench, 25 fathoms 
broad, and defended by an earthen wall eight fathoms high 

xvi] The Crimean War of 1736-1737 347 

and nearly five English miles long. On May 19, the lines 
were stormed in less than an hour; and Perekop itself, 
which was gorged with merchandise of every description, was 
abandoned to pillage. Miinnich then marched to Koslov, the 
chief port on the west coast of the Crimea (where, in 988, the 
Grand-Duke Vladimir had exchanged bridal rings with the 
daughter of the Byzantine Emperor) which was occupied 
without resistance. On June 17, the Khan's capital was also 
taken, after a stiff skirmish ; and then want of supplies and a 
dangerous mutiny in his army compelled Miinnich to return 
to the lines of the Ukraine. Lacy, meanwhile, had succeeded 
in storming Azov, though he met with a resistance far more 
stubborn than anything his brother Marshal had encountered. 
The campaign was thus completely successful; but it was 
extraordinarily expensive, no fewer than 30,000 men, or one 
half the effective strength of both armies, having perished, 
though scarce 2000 had been slain by the enemy. . 

At the end of April 1737, Miinnich took the field with 
70,000 men, and opened the second campaign, which was to 
be the bloodiest of the whole war. His objective was Ochakov, 
the ancient Axiake, very strongly situated, at the confluence of 
the Dnieper and Bug, and defended by 20,000 of the best 
troops of Turkey under the Seraskier Yiagya. The fortress fell 
in the course of July, chiefly owing to the valour and skill of 
James Francis Keith, whom the Empress rewarded with a 
lieutenant-generalship and 10,000 rubles; but it was a very 
costly affair, and when, at the end of August, Miinnich re- 
turned to the lines of the Ukraine he found his army 
had diminished by 24,000 men. In the late autumn General 
Stoffel, who had been left in command at Ochakov, repulsed a 
large Turkish army which invested the fortress from October 
26 to November 9, and left 20,000 dead beneath its walls. 

Glorious as the campaign had been, the Empress was now 
very desirous of peace, as her Austrian ally had failed to 
support her adequately, and the expenses of the war were 

348 The Pupils of Peter, 1725-1741 [ch. 

ruinous. A peace-congress met, accordingly, at the little border 
town of Nemirov ; but the Russians asked so much that the 
Turks preferred fighting to surrender. 

The campaign of 1738 was almost entirely barren. This 
time, Miinnich was ordered to hasten to the assistance of the 
Austrians, the imbecility of whose strategy on the Danube had 
greatly irritated the Russian Court. But an outbreak of the 
plague prevented him from getting further than the Dniester ; 
and he lost 10,000 of his men from sickness before the 
campaign was half over. The Austrians were even less suc- 
cessful than their allies, inasmuch as they had not only 
been unable to capture Widdin, but lost several of their own 
fortresses. Both Courts were now ready enough to re-open 
peace-negotiations, but the Turks, encouraged by their victories 
in Hungary, would not even listen to the most moderate terms ; 
and the Russian statesmen recognised that anotfaSr campaign 
was indispensable. At an extraordinary Cabinet Council, held 
on March i, 1739, at which Miinnich was in attendance as 
military adviser, it was unanimously resolved to co-operate ener- 
getically with the Austrians by invading Moldavia and proceeding 
to invest the fortress of Chocim on the Dniester. On quitting the 
Council, Miinnich set out for the Ukraine; and, at the end of May, 
his army, 60,000 strong, quitted the rendezvous at Kiev, and 
marching straight through Polish territory, without permission, 
crossed the Dniester at Sinkowcza, about seven leagues distant 
from Chocim. On August 27, he came in sight of the Turkish 
camp at Stavuchanak, in a very strong position, which he 
stormed and captured on the following day, the Russians losing 
only 70 men in an action which lasted twelve hours, whereupon 
the fortress of Chocim surrendered unconditionally, at the first 
summons. On September 9 and 10 Miinnich crossed the 
Pnith. On the 19th he reported the submission of Moldavia. 
His career of victory was only cut short by the humiliating 
Peace of Belgrade, Sept 18, 1739. Russia, unable to carry on 
the struggle alone, was now obliged to come to terms with the 

xvi] The tyranny of Biren 349 

Turks, and, by the Treaty of Constantinople, 1739, she sacrificed 
all her conquests except Azov and district \ The Porte would 
not even concede the imperial title to the Russian Empress. 

Whilst the energy of Marshal Miinnich was defending and 
extending the limits of the Russian Empire, the Russian people, 
at home, was trembling beneath the yoke of the Empress's 
favourite, the Grand Chamberlain Biren. During the latter 
years of the reign of Anne, Biren increased so enormously in 
power and riches that he must have been a marvel to himself 
as well as to others. The climax of his wondrous elevation 
was reached when, in the course of June 1737, the Estates of 
Courland were compelled to elect the son of the ostler of 
Mittau as their reigning Duke. But Biren was fearful in the 
midst of his triumphs, for he knew that the Russians hated him 
and suspected them of a desire to overthrow him. It would 
really seem«« if he had had the set purpose of gradually exter- 
minating the leaders of the Moscovite aristocracy, so relentless, 
so persistent, was his persecution of them. In the course of 1 738, 
the old charges of treason were revived against the Dolgorukis ; 
and, by means of the Secret Chancellery, Biren all but 
annihilated the whole family in 1739. Demetrius (jolitsuin 
had already (1736) been condemned to death, on the most 
frivolous of charges; but *'the clemency of the Empress" 
commuted the punishment to imprisonment in the fortress of 
Schliisselburg. Anything like independence of a^tude was in 
Biren's eyes an unpardonable offence. Hence, the terrible fate 
of Artamon Voluinsky, Peter the Great's former plenipotentiary 
in Persia, who, after a long eclipse, was made a Cabinet 
Minister in 1735. In 1740 he incurred the enmity of Biren 
and was decapitated, on a trumped-up charge of treason, 
despite all the efforts of the Empress to save him. But Anne 
could now refuse Biren nothing. On her death^bed, at his urgent 
request, though greatly against her own better judgment, she 

^ Azov, too, had to be dismantled. On this occasion the Russian Am- 
bassador, Vishnyakov, induced the Porte to change the old title **Moscovy" 
into "Russia.'* 

350 The Pupils of Peter, 17 25-1 741 [ch. 

even appointed him Regent, during the minority of her great- 
nephew Ivan VI, an infant four months old, to whom she left 
the throne. 

Anne died on October 28, 1740. Three weeks later the 
ex-Regent was on his way to Siberia in consequence of a smart 
little coup-d^Hat organised by Marshal Miinnich, who there- 
upon proclaimed the mother of the baby Emperor Regent 
while he himself appropriated the Army, the War office, the 
Foreign Office and the lieutenant-generalship of the Guards 
with the title of "Premier-Minister." The new Regent, a 
shy, stupid and awkward girl of sixteen, was the daughter of 
Catherine Ivanovna, the niece of Peter the Great, and Leopold 
Charles, Duke of Mecklenburg. She had been adopted by 
Anne, settled in Russia, and, in 1733, was received into the 
Russian Church, changing her German name of Elizabeth 
Catherine Christina to that of Anne Leopoldovna. In 1739 
the Empress married her to Prince Anthony Ulric of Bruns- 
wick-Bevem, an utterly insignificant person, despised even by 
his silly wife and pushed aside by both Biren and Miinnich 
without the slightest ceremony. Anne Leopoldovna found 
however a friend in the Vice-Chancellor Osterman, whom 
she reinstated in the direction of foreign affairs by the ukase 
of February 8, 1741. Miinnich, in great dudgeon, believing 
himself to be indispensable, sent in his resignation (March 14) 
which, to his surprise, was accepted the same afternoon. The 
Vice -Chancellor quietly superseded him. "Count Osterman," 
wrote the French Ambassador La Chetardie, shortly afterwards 
to his Court, " has never been so great or so powerful as he is 
now. It is not too much to say that he is Tsar of All 
Russia." If ever Russia needed the guidance of a great states- 
man, it was during that troubled and confusing period when 
France, healed of the wounds inflicted by the War of the 
Spanish Succession, was endeavouring to regain her former 
position in Europe. 

The first great diplomatic victory of France, after her long 
eclipse, was the Treaty of Vienna, in 1738, which settled all the 

xvi] The ascendency of France 351 

questions arising out of the War of the Polish Succession very 
greatly to her advantage' and to the disparagement of the 
Emperor. The second triumph was the Peace of Belgrade, 
concluded in 1739, under her mediation, which humiliated the 
Hapsburgs still further, and established, beyond all contradiction, 
the momentous fact that the French Monarchy had become, 
once more, the paramount continental power. To sever the 
Austro-Russian alliance and, if possible, drive Russia back into 
the semi-barbarism from which she had scarce emerged, was 
the next object that the French statesmen set before them. 
"Russia in respect to the equilibrium of the North," wrote 
Cardinal Fleury, " has mounted to too high a degree of power, 
and its union with the House of Austria is extremely danger- 
ous." The most obvious way of rendering the Russian alliance 
unserviceable to the Emperor was by implicating Russia in a 
war with Sweden, the second of the northern Powers, and the 
permanent ally of France. A first attempt to bring about such 
a collision, in 1736, had been foiled by the pacific Swedish Chan- 
cellor, Count Arvid Horn. On the outbreak of the War of the 
Austrian Succession (1740), the necessity of fettering Russia, 
Maria Theresa's one ally, became still more urgent. Again the 
French influence was exerted to the uttermost in Sweden, and 
this time successfully. At the beginning of August 1741, 
Sweden declared war against Russia and invaded Finland. 

To embarrass the Russian government still further, a 
domestic revolution in Russia itself was simultaneously planned 
by La Chetardie, with the object of placing the Tsesarevna 
Elizabeth on the throne. The immediate object of this 
manoeuvre was to get rid of Osterman. Osterman's policy 
was based upon the Austrian Alliance. He had therefore 
guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction with the deliberate intention 
of defending it. The sudden irruption of the King of Prussia 
into Silesia, the defection of France, and the treachery of 
Saxony, had surprised him. Old as he was in statecraft, he 
^ She acquired, inter alia, the reversion of Lorraine. 

352 The Pupils of Peter, 1725-^1741 [ch. xvi 

had not calculated upon such a cynical disregard of solemn 
treaties. He stigmatised the invasion of Silesia as **an ugly 
business*'; and, when he was informed, officially, of the partition 
treaty whereby the Elector of Saxony was to receive Upper 
Silesia, Lower Austria, and Moravia, with the title of King 
of Moravia, he sarcastically enquired whether this was the way 
in which Saxony meant to manifest the devotion she had 
always expressed for the House of Austria? He shrewdly 
guessed that the Moravian scheme must, inevitably, bring along 
with it a surrender by the Elector of Saxony of the Polish 
Crown to Stanislaus Leszczynski, the French King's father-in- 
law, in which case the interests of Russia would be directly 
threatened. He sent a strong note of remonstrance to the 
King of Prussia, and assured the Courts of The Hague and St 
James's of his readiness to concur in any just measures for pre- 
serving the integrity of the Austrian dominions. But, for the 
moment, he was prevented from sending any assistance to the 
hardly-pressed Queen of Hungary in consequence of the Swedish 
War with which the French government had saddled him. 
Nevertheless the Swedish declaration had found him prepared 
for every eventuality. More than 100,000 of the best Russian 
troops were already under arms in Finland ; and the victory of 
Marshal Lacy, at the end of August, at Vilmanstrand, where he 
utterly routed the Swedish general Wrangel, relieved Osterman 
of all fears from without. But Osterman 's own political career 
was now nearly run. On the conclusion of a new and more 
definite treaty of alliance with Great Britain (Nov. 18, 1741), 
his last official act, he told the English Minister, Finch, that he 
was about to visit Spa and might then proceed to England and 
pass the remainder of his days there in philosophical content- 
ment. Ten days later he was arrested in his bed, and before 
the year was out, he was on his way to the desolate tundras of 



On December 6, 1 741, La Chetardie wrote to Amelot, the 
French Minister for Foreign Affairs, as to the prospects of a 
coup-d^etatxn favour of the Tsesarevna Elizabeth: "An out- 
break, the success of which can never be morally certain, 
especially now that the Swedes are not in a position to lend a 
hand, would, prudently considered, be very difficult to bring 
about, unless it could be substantially backed up." That very 
same evening, Elizabeth, without any help from without, over- 
threw the existing government in a couple of hours — a thing 
carefully to be borne in mind, as most historians, relying on 
certain ex-post-facto statements by La Chetardie, have credited 
that diplomatist with a leading part in the revolution which 
placed the daughter of Peter the Great on the Russian throne. 
As a matter of fact, beyond lending the Tsesarevna 2000 
ducats, instead of the 15,000 she demanded of him, La 
Chetardie took no part whatever in the actual coup-diktat^ which 
was as great a surprise to bim as it was to everyone else. The 
merit and glory of that singular affair belong to Elizabeth 

Elizabeth Petrovna was born on December 18, 1709, at 
Kolmenskoe, near Moscow, on the day of her father's triumphal 
entry into his capital after the victory of Pultawa. From her 
earliest years, the child delighted everyone by her extraordinary 
beauty and vivacity. I^er parts were good, but, unfortunately, 
B. 23 

354 Elizabeth Petrovnay 1741-1762 [ch. 

her education was both imperfect and desultory. She managed 
however to pick up some knowledge of Italian, German, and 
Swedish, and could converse in these languages with more 
fluency than accuracy. On the death of her mother, and the 
departure from Russia, three months later, of her beloved sister 
Anne (1727), the Princess, at the age of 18, was left pretty 
much to herself As her father's daughter, she was obnoxious 
to the Dolgorukis, who kept her far distant from the Court 
during the reign of Peter II. Robust and athletic, she 
delighted in field sports, hunting and violent exercise; but 
she had inherited more than was good for her of her father's 
sensual temperament; and the hoyden's life, in the pleasant 
environment of Moscow, was the reverse of edifying. 

During the reign of her cousin, Elizabeth effaced herself as 
much as possible, well aware that the Empress, of whom she 
stood in awe, regarded her as a possible supplanter. She was 
already so popular that the shopkeepers of Moscow frequently 
refused to take money from her when she bought their wares ; 
but she does not seem to have thought of asserting her rights 
to the throne till the idea was suggested to her by La Chetardie 
and his colleague, the Swedish minister, Nolcken, who com- 
municated with her through her French physician, Lestocq. 
Frequent collisions with the Regent, Anne Leopoldovna, whom 
she despised, and with Osterman, whom she hated for setting 
her aside in favour of aliens and foreigners, though he himself 
owed everything to her father and mother, first awakened her 
ambition ; but her natural indolence was very difficult to over- 
come. Not till December 5, 1741, when the Guards in the 
capital, on whom Elizabeth principally relied, were ordered to 
hold themselves in readiness to march for the seat of war, did 
she take the decisive step. That same night a hurried and 
anxious conference of her partisans, chief among whom were 
her surgeon Lestocq, her chamberlain Michael Vorontsov, her 
favourite and future husband, Alexis Razumovsky, and Alex- 
and<er and Peter Shuvalov, two of the gentlemen of her house- 

xvii] The coup d'etat of December 5, 1741 355 

hold, was held at her house. As a result of their deliberations, 
Elizabeth put on a cuirass, armed herself with a demi-pike, and, 
proceeding to the barracks of the Guards, won them over by a 
spirited harangue at 2 o'clock in the morning. Then, at the 
head of a regiment of the Preobrazhensk grenadiers, she 
sledged, through the snow, to the Winter Palace, where the 
Regent lay sleeping in absolute security, and arrested all her real 
or suspected adversaries, including Osterman and Miinnich, on 
her way. The Regent, aroused from her slumbers by Elizabeth 
herself, submitted quietly and was conveyed to the Empress's 
sledge. The baby-tsar and his little sister, with their nurses, 
followed behind in a second sledge to Elizabeth's own palace. 
In less than half an hour, bloodlessly and noiselessly, the 
Revolution had been accomplished. Even so late as 8 o'clock 
the next morning, very few people in the city were aware that, 
during the night, Elizabeth Petrovna had been raised to her 
father's throne on the shoulders of the Preobrazhensk 

At the age of thirty-three, this naturally indolent and 
self-indulgent woman, with little knowledge and no previous 
training or experience of affairs, was suddenly placed at the 
head of a great Empire, for whose honour and security she was 
primarily responsible, at one of the most critical periods of its 
existence. La Chetardie had already expressed his conviction 
(and his court implicitly believed him), that, when once 
Elizabeth was on the throne, she would banish all foreigners, 
however able, give her entire confidence to necessarily ignorant 
Russians, retire to her well-beloved Moscow, let the fleet rot and 
utterly neglect St Petersburg and " the conquered provinces " 
as the Baltic seaboard was still called. Unfortunately for his 
calculations. La Chetardie, while exaggerating the defects, had 
ignored the good qualities of the new Empress. For, with all 
her shortcomings, Elizabeth was no ordinary woman. In many 
respects she was her illustrious father's own daughter. Her 
very considerable knowledge of human nature, her unusually 


356 Elizabeth Petrovna^ 1741-1762 [ch. 

sound and keen judgment, and her diplomatic tact, again and 
again recall Peter the Great. What to her impatient con- 
temporaries often seemed irresolution or sluggishness, was 
generally suspense of judgment, in exceptionally difficult cir- 
cumstances, and her ultimate decision was generally correct. 
Add to this that the welfare of her beloved country always lay 
nearest to her heart, and that she was ever ready to sacrifice 
the prejudices of the woman to the duties of the Sovereign, and 
we shall recognise, at once, that Russia did well at this crisis 
to place her destinies in the hands of Elizabeth Petrovna. It 
is true that, as \.a Chetardie had predicted, almost her first act 
was to disgrace and exile all the foreigners who had held sway 
during the |)ast t^*o reigns, including such illustrious names as 
Osterman and Miinnich (January 29, 174a). But — and this is 
her justification — she placed at the head of affairs a native 
Russian statesman, whom, personally, she much disliked, but 
whose genius and experience she rightly judged to be indis- 
))cnsable to Russia at that particular moment 

Alexis Petro>nch Bestuzhev-Ryumin was bom on May 2, 
1693* Educated, with his elder brother Michael, at Copenhagen 
and l^rlin, he adopted the diplomatic career, and, at the age 
of 19, scrwHi as the second Russian plenipotentiary at the 
Congross of UtRH:ht From 1717 to 1726 he occupied the 
honourable but j>?cuUar post of Hanoverian Minister to Russia, 
subscijuently n^presenting Russia at Copenhagen tiU the death 
of Peter the Gi^t For the next fifteen x-ears, he was kept in 
the baokgmumi and had to be cont«»i with the compaiativdy 
humble jxv^t of Russian resident at Hamburg* while his brother 
shone as Ambassador Extraoidinaiy at Stockholm. Towards 
the end ^M' the ragn of Anne, Biren recalled him to Russia 
to balaiHV the influence of Ostxnnan; but be fell with his 
pam^n aiHi only le-emeiged fncim die ohscuriiy of dis^^ace on 
the *ox«!;k«\ of Elicabelh. He drew up the Empres' first 
mUs and >r>as made Vke^Chanoettorat the end of the y^ar ; bat 
^ insecure did he k?el that^ in Febroaiy. 174^, he cmpkn^ 

xvii] Alexis Bestuzhev-Ryumin 357 

the good offices of the Saxon Minister, Pezold, to bring about 
a good understanding between himself and the reigning (and 
now ennobled) favourite, Lestocq, whom, at the bottom of his 
heart, he thoroughly despised. 

It is a difficult task to diagnose the character of this sinister 
and elusive statesman, who took such infinite pains to obliterate 
all his traces. He seems to have been a moody, taciturn 
hypochondriac, full of wiles and ruses, passionate when provoked, 
but preferring to work silently and subterraneously. Inordinate 
love of power was certainly his ruling passion, but he had to 
bide his time till he was nearly fifty. He was a man who re- 
morselessly crushed his innumerable enemies and never allowed , 
himself the luxury of a single intimate friend. Yet, in justice, 
it must be added that his enemies were generally the enemies 
of his country ; that his implacability was actuated as much by 
patriotic as by personal motives ; and that nothing could turn 
him one hair's breadth from the policy which he considered to 
be best suited to the interests of the State. And this true 
policy he alone, for a long time, of all his contemporaries, 
had the wisdom to discern and the courage to pursue. 

The first care of the new Empress, after abolishing the 
cabinet-council system, which had been in favour during the 
reign of the two Annes, and reconstituting the Administrative 
Senate, as it had been under Peter the Great, was to compose 
her quarrel with Sweden, not only because the Finnish war was 
a drain upon her resources, but also because the political 
situation required her attention more urgendy elsewhere. The 
sudden collapse of -Sweden had come as a disagreeable surprise 
to the Court of Versailles ; and to baulk Russia of the fruits of 
her triumph, by obtaining the best possible terms for discomfited 
Sweden, was now the principal object of the French diplomatists 
in the north; La Chetardie was accordingly instructed to offer 
the mediation of France, and use all his efforts to cajole the 
Empress into an abandonment of her rights of conquest. Never 
for an instant did he doubt of success. For the first three 

358 Elizabeth Petrovna, 1741-1762 [ch. 

months after the Revolution, he was, undoubtedly, the most 
popular man in Russia. "The first bow here is to her Majesty, " 
observes the English Minister Finch shortly after that event, 
"but the second is to Mons. de La Chetardie." He saw the 
Empress almost daily, was closeted with her for hours, and was 
the only foreign envoy who enjoyed the privilege of accompany- 
ing her Majesty on her frequent religious pilgrimages. But 
when, in February, 1742, he suggested to Elizabeth, at a private 
interview, that the victorious Russians should sacrifice something 
for the benefit of the vanquished Swedes in order to satisfy the 
honour of France, the Empress, very pertinently, inquired 
what opinion her own subjects would be likely to have of her if 
she so little regarded the memory of her illustrious father as to 
cede provinces won by him at the cost of so much Russian 
blood and treasure? Bestuzhev, to whom the Frenchman 
next applied, roundly declared that no negotiations with 
Sweden could be thought of except on a uti possidetis basis. 
"I should deserve to lose my head on the block," he concluded, 
" if I counselled her Imperial Majesty to cede a single inch of 
territory." At a subsequent Council it was decided to decline 
the French offer of mediation and prosecute the Swedish war 
with vigour. There is no need to follow the course of the 
campaign of 1742. The Russian advance, under Lacy and 
Keith, was a triumphal progress. By the end of the year all 
Finland was in the hands of the Russians. On January 23, 
1 743» direct negotiations between the two powers were opened 
at Abo ; and on August 7 peace was concluded, Sweden ceding 
to Russia all the southern part of Finland east of the river 
Kymmene, including the fortresses of Vilmanstrand and 
Fredrikshamn. Bestuzhev would have held out for the whole 
Grand-Duchy, but the Empress, fearful of the possible inter- 
vention of France and Prussia, overruled him. This was a 
great blow to France; and La Chetardie, perceiving that he 
was no longer of any use to his employers at St Petersburg, 
presented his letters of recall, and quitted Russia (July, 1742). 

xvii] The foreign policy of Bestuzhev 359 

The French Government had discovered that it had nothing 
to hope from Russia so long as Bestuzhev had the direction of 
affairs. Henceforth, it became the prime object of the Court 
of Versailles to overthrow him as speedily as possible, especially 
as it suspected him of a desire to aid the Queen of Hungary. 
This, indeed, was actually the intention of Bestuzhev. He was 
as well aware, as Osterman had been before him, that France 
was the natural enemy of Russia. The interests of the two 
States in Turkey, Poland and Sweden were diametrically 
opposed. Russia could never hope to be safe from the intrigues 
of France in these three border lands. Hostility to France 
being the norm of Russia's true policy at this period, all the 
enemies of France were necessarily the friends of Russia, and 
all the friends of France were her enemies. Consequently, 
Great Britain, and, still more, Austria, as being a near neigh- 
bour and more directly threatened by France, were Russia's 
natural allies; while the aggressive King of Prussia, who had the 
disquieting ambition of aggrandising himself at the expense of 
all his neighbours, and was in alliance with France, had also to 
be guarded against. It was the policy of Bestuzhev, therefore, 
to bring about a quadruple alliance between Russia, Austria, 
Great Britain and Saxony to balance the strength of France 
and Prussia combined. But here, unfortunately, he was on 
dangerously slippery ground, where a single stumble meant 
irretrievable ruin, for the representatives of the three Russophil 
Powers above mentioned had all been active and ardent sup- 
porters of Anne Leopoldovna and had done their best to keep 
Elizabeth from the throne. Of this the Empress was, by this 
time, very well aware ; her antipathies, therefore, Were very 
naturally directed against the ambassadors of Great Britain, 
Austria and Saxony, who had been her adversaries while she 
was only Tsesarevna ; and it required no small courage on the 
part of Bestuzhev to defend a policy, which, indispensable as it 
might be, was abhorrent to his sovereign for strong personal 
reasons. Moreover, nearly all the intimate personal friends of 

360 Elizabeth Petrmmay 1 741-1762 [ch. 

the Empress, headed by Lestocq, and extremely jealous of the 
superior talents and rising influence of Bestuzhev, were already 
in the pay of France and Prussia, and ready, at the bidding of 
the French chargk d'affaires^ D'AUion, to embark in any project 
for overthrowing the Vice- Chancellor. The expedient finally 
adopted was a bogus conspiracy alleged to be afoot for the 
purpose of replacing on the throne the baby Prince Ivan (who 
since the Revolution, had been detained, provisionally, with his 
parents, at the fortress of Diinamunde near Riga), a conspiracy 
which, very ingeniously, was made to include most of Elizabeth's 
former rivals, such as Natalia Lopukhina and the Countess 
Anna Gavrilovna, consort of Michael Bestuzhev, the Vice- 
Chancellor's brother. The former Austrian ambassador, the 
Marquis de Botta, was alleged to be the chief promoter of the 
affair. The plot was "miraculously discovered" by Lestocq 
and burst upon the Empress in August, 1743. After a rigid 
inquisition of twenty-five days, during which every variety of 
torture was freely employed against the accused, "the terrible 
plot," says the English minister, Sir Cyril Wych, "was found to 
be little more than the ill-considered discourses of a couple of 
spiteful, passionate women, and two or three young debauchees." 
Nevertheless, the two women principally concerned had their 
tongues publicly torn out before being sent to Siberia ; and the 
Russian minister at Vienna was instructed to demand Botta's 
condign punishment This was done at a special audience, 
whereupon Maria Theresa declared, with her usual spirit, that 
she would never admit the validity of extorted evidence, and 
issued a manifesto to all the Great Powers defending Botta 
and accusing the Russian Court of gross injustice. 

Thus Lestocq and his principals had succeeded in estranging 
the Courts of St Petersburg and Vienna ; and the result of the 
"Lopukhin Trial" was hailed as a great diplomatic victory at 
Paris. But the caballers had failed to bring Bestuzhev to the 
block, or even to "drive him into some obscure hole in the 
country," as D'Allion had confidently predicted. At the very 

xvii] Frederick the Great and Bestuzhev 361 

crisis of his peril, when his own sister-in-law was implicated, the 
Empress, always equitable when not frightened into ferocity, 
had privately assured the Vice-Chancellor that her confidence in 
him was unabated, and that not a hair of his head should be 
touched. But Bestuzhev had now a still more formidable 
antagonist to encounter in Frederick II of Prussia. 

From the very beginning of his reign, Frederick II had 
rightly regarded Russia as his most formidable neighbour. She 
was also the natural ally of his inveterate enemy the Queen of 
Hungary. So early as June i, 1743, he wrote to Mardefelt, his 
minister at St Petersburg: "I should never think of lightly pro- 
voking Russia ; on the contrary, there is nothing in the world 
I would not do in order always to be on good terms with that 
Empire.'* A few months later, the neutrality, at least, of Russia 
had become of vital importance to him. Alarmed for Silesia 
(his most lucrative province which had cost him nothing and 
brought him in 3,000,000 thalers per annum) by the Austrian 
victories in the course of 1 743, and especially disturbed by the 
Compact of Worms (Sept. 13, 1743), which seemed to him a 
renewed guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction, he resolved to 
make sure of his newly-won possessions by attacking the Queen 
of Hungary a second time, before she had time to attack him. 
But how would Russia take this fresh and unprovoked act of 
aggression ? That was the question upon which everything else 
depended. Fortunately, "the Botta conspiracy" provided him 
with an opportunity of ingratiating himself with the Empress. 
He wrote an autograph letter to Elizabeth, expressing his horror 
at the plot against her sacred person, and ostentatiously 
demanded of the Court of Vienna that Botta, who had been 
transferred from St Petersburg to Berlin, should instantly be 
recalled. The Empress was much gratified, and showed it. 
But Bestuzhev had yet to be got rid of. "I cannot repeat too 
often," wrote the King of Prussia to Mardefelt (January 25, 
1744), "that, until that man has been rendered harmless, I can 
never reckon upon the friendship of the Empress.'' And again 

362 Elizabeth Petrovna, 1741--1762 [ch. 

(February 29), "It is absolutely necessary to oust the Vice- 
Chancellor. So long as he is in office, he will cause me a 
thousand chagrins.'* Frederick, with the aid of his chief spy, 
the elder Princess of Zerbst (who in February, 1744, had brought 
her daughter Sophia Augusta to Russia to wed the Empress' 
nephew and heir, the young Duke of Holstein), now set his 
hand to an elaborate intrigue for the undoing of the Vice- 
Chancellor. The Princess was assisted by all Bestuzhev's other 
enemies, including La Chetardie, now back again at his post, 
Lestocq and Mardefelt. " Having regard to the way in which 
you have concerted measures with the Princess of Zerbst," wrote 
Frederick to Mardefelt, in February, 1744, "I don't see how the 
blow can possibly fail." Yet fail it did ; and, as the year wore 
on, and Bestuzhev still held his own, Frederick grew anxious, 
and then angry. He calls the growing influence of ce mkhant 
homme "a mystery of iniquity" which he cannot solve. On 
June 4, he wrote to Mardefelt,. "Pressing circumstances and 
the prompt execution of my. designs absolutely demand that 
you should change your tactics a little and employ all your 
savoir-faire to win over the Vice-Chancellor" ; and he authorised 
Mardefelt to spend as much as 500,000 crowns for the purpose. 
Then, trusting to the skill of Mardefelt and the potent influence 
of the 500,000 crowns, at the end of August he openly threw 
off the mask and invaded Bohemia at the head of 60,000 men. 
By the end of September his troops had occupied the whole 

In the extremity of her distress, Maria Theresa sent a 
special envoy. Count Rosenberg, to St Petersburg, to express 
her horror at Botta's alleged misconduct, and placed herself and 
her fortunes unreservedly in the hands of her imperial sister. 
For two months Elizabeth hesitated, while the Lestocq-Mardefelt- 
Zerbst clique did all in its power to prevent any assistance from 
being sent to the distressed Queen of Hungary. But Bestuzhev 
was now much stronger than he had ever been. By the aid of 
his secretary. Gold bach, he had succeeded in unravelling La 

xvii] Frederick the Great and Bestuzhev 363 

Chetardie's cipher correspondence and furnished the Empress 
with extracts alluding in the most disparaging terms to herself. 
These Bestuzhev accompanied by an elucidative commentary. 
Furious at the treachery of the ever gallant and deferential 
Marquis, the Empress dictated to Bestuzhev on the spot a 
memorandum to La Chetardie commanding him to quit her 
capital within twenty-four hours; and on June 17, 1744, he was 
escorted to the frontier. Six weeks later (July 26) Elizabeth 
identified herself emphatically with the anti-French policy of her 
minister, by promoting him to the rank of Grand Chancellor ; 
their common friend, Michael Vorontsov, being at the same 
time appointed Vice-Chancellor. Bestuzhev now energetically 
represented to the Empress the necessity of interfering in the 
quaitel between Frederick II and the Queen of Hungary. He 
described the King of Prussia as a restless, agitating character 
made up of fraud and violence. He had violated the Treaty of 
Breslau. He was secretly stirring up Turkey against Russia. 
He had impudently used neutral Saxon territory as a stepping- 
stone to Bohemia. He had procured the dissolution of the 
Diet of Grodno to prevent his anti-Russian intrigues from being 
discovered, thus aiming a direct blow at the supremacy which 
Russia had enjoyed in Poland ever since the days of Peter the 
Great. In a word Prussia was now far too powerful to be a 
safe neighbour. The balance of power in Europe must be 
restored instantly, and at any cost, by reducing her to her 
proper place. 

Bestuzhev so far prevailed as to persuade Elizabeth to 
receive the extraordinary Austrian envoy, Rosenberg, and 
promise to commit the Botta incident to oblivion. In the 
beginning of 1745 she gave a genuine proof of her reconciliation 
with Austria by bluntly refusing Frederick a succour of 6000 
men, though bound by her last defensive treaty .with Prussia 
to assist him. Bestuzhev then submitted to the British 
Government an intervention project, which was rejected as too 
onerous and exorbitant ; while Frederick, thoroughly alarmed. 

364 Elizabeth Petrovna, 1741-1762 [ch. 

offered Bestuzhev 100,000 crowns if he would acquiesce in 
Prussia's appropriating another slice of Silesia, an offer which 
the Russian Chancellor haughtily rejected. Frederick's subse- 
quent declaration of war against Saxony greatly agitated the 
Russian Court; and three successive ministerial Councils 
(August-September, 1745), inspired by Bestuzhev, unanimously 
advised an armed intervention. Elizabeth thereupon signed an 
ukaz^ commanding that the 60,000 men, already stationed in. 
Esthonia and Livonia, should at once advance into Courland, 
so as to be nearer the Prussian frontier and ready for every emer- 
gency. A manifesto was also addressed to the King of Prussia, 
warning him that Russia considered herself bound to assist 
Saxony if invaded by him. But nothing came of it all. Bestuz- 
hev relied for the success of his plan on British subsidies, but the 
British Cabinet, having already secured the safety of Hanover, 
by a secret understanding with the King of Prussia, had resolved 
upon neutrality. This too was the real reason why Great 
Britain had shrunk from committing herself to a quadruple 
alliance^ against Prussia as proposed by Bestuzhev. Elizabeth, 
who saw much more clearly than her minister on this occasion, 
bitterly reproached him for trusting too much to England; 
while Frederick, certain, now, of the neutrality of England, pro- 
ceeded to devastate Saxony, annihilate the Elector's army, and 
dictate the Peace of Dresden (December 25, 1745). But the 
Prussian King was only just in time. Twelve days after the 
conclusion of the Peace of Dresden, and a week before the 
news thereof reached St Petersburg, a cabinet council, lasting 
three days, was held at the Winter Palace, the Empress 
presiding. At this Council it was unanimously resolved that 
Bestuzhev should inform Lord Hyndford, the English ambas- 
sador, that, if the Maritime Powers would advance Russia a . 
subsidy of six millions, she would at once place 100,000 men 
in the field, and end the German War in a single campaign. 

1 Russia, England, Austria, and Saxony. 

xvii] The Austro-Russian Alliance 365 

But Great Britain would not go so far, and the Kii^ of Prussia 
remained unmolested 

Hampered as he was by the backwardness of England and 
the misgivii^ of his own sovereign, Bestuzhev could not 
prevent the conclusion of a peace which he detested ; yet the 
menacing attitude of the Russian Chancellor had so far 
impressed Frederick as to make him moderate his demands in 
spite of his recent victories. Moreover Frederick now played 
into Bestuzhev's hands by indulging in one of those foolish jests 
for which he had often to pay so dearly. Before departing for 
Saxony, he had requested the mediation of Russia and Turkey 
at the same time, remarking with a sneer, at a public reception, 
that, in his opinion, the mediation of a TuiiL was every bit as 
good as the mediation of a Greek. Elizabeth was wounded in 
her tenderest point That she, the devout mother of all the 
Orthodox, should be placed in the same category with the 
descendant of the fisUse Prophet revolted her ; and her senti- 
ments towards ^the Nadir Shah of BerHn,^ as she called the 
King of Prus^ underwent a complete change. She had 
hitherto accepted his effusive compliments without suspicion ; 
but now Bestuzhev gave her frequent g^mpses into the 
deciphered correspondence of Frederidc where the references 
to herself weie by no means flattering. Thus political 
antagonism and private pique combined to make Elizabeth the 
most det^mined adversary of Frederick IL 

Hie triumph of the Austrian party at St Petersburg dates 
from the oondusian of the defenrive alliance of June 2, 
1745, whereby each of the contractor parties agreed to aid 
the other, within three months of beai^ attadced, with 30,000 
mm, or, in case Pnifiua was the aggressor, with 60,000. 
Frederick saw in this compact a plan for attacking him on the 
first opportunity, and, in the course of the same summer, made 
anodier determined attempt to overthrow Bestuzhev with the 
aid of Lestooc}, Vorontsov, D^AUion and Mardefelt But tiie 
I^ot reooiled on tb^ plotter: and the Pnjssian minister, Maide- 

366 Elizaheth Petravna, 174^-1762 [ch. 

felt, received his passix>rts. Bestuzhev's subsequent endeavours 
to round off his system by contracting an alliance with Great 
Hritain were less successful, Great Britain being by no means 
no eager to unite with Russia as Russia with her. "The King," 
wrote Chesterfield to Hyndford, "cannot guarantee to the 
Queen of Hungary possessions which she herself has relin- 
fjuished." Nevertheless the victories of Marshal Saxe in the 
Austrian Netherlands, and the consequent danger of Holland, 
at last drew Russia and Great Britain more closely together ; 
and the pressing question of the advance of a Russian 
auxiliary corps to the Rhine engulfed all others. After 
long and vexatious negotiations, in the course of which Bes- 
tuzhev hotly declared that he saw he was about to become 
** the victim of his own good intentions towards an ungrateful 
(>ourt," which squabbled over thousands for the alliance, while 
France would have given tens of thousands for the simple 
neutrality, of Russia, the British government virtually agreed to 
his demands. By the Treaty of St Petersburg (December 9, 
1747), the Empress, besides agreeing to hold a corps of observa- 
tion, 30,000 strong, on the Courland frontier, at the disposal of 
Great Hritain for ;(f 100,000 a year, consented to send another 
corps of 30,000 to the Rhine, on condition that ;£3oo,ooo a 
year wore paid for the troops by England and Holland, four 
months in advance, as well as 150,000 rix-dollars for their 
mAinlcnanco during their passage through Europe. 

Gn January a 8, 1748, the day after the exchange of the rati- 
fications, Prince Repnin, at the head of 30,000 Russians, began 
slowly 10 advance through central Europe, so slowly, indeed, that 
the Courts of lx>ndon and Vienna were loud in their complaints 
to the Russian ministers. But, in truth, the subsidiar)' corps had 
already ACi\)mplishcii all that was required of it. The news of 
the approach of Repnin*s army induced France, despite her 
brilliant victories, to accelerate the peace n^otiations ; and, on 
April 30* 1745^ a preliminary convention was signed between 
the Court of Versailles and the Maritime Powers, at Aix la 

xvii] New grouping of the Powers 367 

Chapelle, subsequently confirmed by the formal treaty of 
October 18, to which Austria and her allies reluctantly acceded. 

Never yet had Russia stood so high in the estimation of 
Europe as in the autumn of 1748 ; and this commanding posi- 
tion she owed entirely to the tenacity of purpose of the Grand 
Chancellor. In the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles, 
Bestuzhev had honourably extricated his country from the 
Swedish imbroglio; reconciled his imperial mistress with the 
Courts of London and Vienna, her natural allies; re-established 
friendly relations, on a firm basis, with those powers; freed 
Russia from the yoke of foreign influence; compelled both 
Prussia and France to abate their pretensions in the very hour 
of victory ; and, finally, had isolated the restless, perturbing. 
King of Prussia by environing him with hostile alliances. 

The seven years which succeeded the War of the Austrian 
Succession were nothing more than an armed truce between 
apprehensive and dissatisfied adversaries, nothing more than 
an indispensable breathing-space between a past contest which 
everyone felt to have been inconclusive, and a future contest 
which everyone knew to be inevitable. Both the Peace of Aix 
and the Peace of Breslau had been forced from without upon 
active belligerents. In the first case the unexpected interven- 
tion of Russia had arrested the triumphal progress of the French 
armies; in the second, the sudden desertion^ of England had 
compelled defeated but still defiant Austria to surrender her 
fairest province to the King of Prussia. The consequences of 
these prematurely suppressed hostilities were an unnatural 
tension between the various European Powers, a loosening of 
time-honoured alliances, and a cautious groping after newer 
and surer combinations. The determining factor of this uni- 
versal distrust was the King of Prussia, who alone had profited 
by the struggle which had convulsed Europe. But Frederick 
himself was uneasy in the midst of his triumphs, and, far 
from diminishing his armaments after the war was over, 
^ That is to say, from tb« Austrian point of view* 

368 Elizabeth Petrovna, 1741-1762 [ch. 

prudently increased them. He had nothing to fear, indeed, for 
the present from exhausted Austria ; but the attitude of Russia 
continued to be as menacing as ever. Bestuzhev did not leave 
his redoubtable antagonist out of sight for a moment ; and the 
diplomatic struggle between them was carried on with ever 
increasing acerbity, principally in Sweden, Poland and Turkey. 

In Sweden the joint efforts of the British and French 
Ministers in the course of 1750, prevented Russia from fasten- 
ing a quarrel upon Sweden, who was supposed at St Petersburg 
to be about to amend her vicious constitution at the suggestion 
of the King of Prussia. Frederick, on the other hand, incensed 
beyond measure by an imperial rescript issued by Bestuzhev, 
ordering all Russian subjects belonging to the Baltic Provinces 
but actually in the Prussian service, to return to their homes, 
deliberately slighted the Russian resident Gross, who was 
thereupon (October 25, 1750) recalled, and diplomatic inter- 
course between the two countries ceased. 

In Poland and at the Porte, Great Britain and Russia 
acted together, and their ambassadors successfully resisted all 
the intrigues of France and Prussia. Purely oriental affairs, 
however, were of minor importance during the reign of Elizabeth; 
and even in Poland the one constantly recurring question, the 
desirability of abolishing the liberum veto^ excited no more than 
a languid interest. The Elector of Saxony, in his own interests 
as King of Poland, desired the abatement of this nuisance; but 
he dared not move without the consent of Russia, and Russia 
would consent to no reform of the Polish constitution which 
might resuscitate her ancient but now moribund rival. 

All this while, Bestuzhev had been doing his utmost to 
promote his favourite project of a strong Anglo-Russian alliance 
with the object of "still further clipping the wings of the King 
of Prussia." The negotiations b^an in 1750, when Great 
Britain, not without reason, feared that Frederick was about to 
attack Hanover. But the Empress, who displayed throughout 
a truer political instinct than her Chancellor, was indisposed to 

xvii] The Anglo-Russian Convention 369 

risk a rupture with Prussia simply for the sake of Hanover. 
For three years, therefore, she returned no answer to the 
British demands. At last, in May 1753, the negotiations 
were reopened at the urgent instance of Bestuzhev; but still no 
progress could be made till June, 1755, when Sir Hanbury 
Williams arrived from London with secret instructions to 
conclude a new convention with Russia as speedily as possible. 
On September 19, 1755, the convention was signed. By the 
terms of it, Russia engaged to furnish an auxiliary corps of 
55,000 men for a diversion against Prussia in return for an 
annual subsidy from Great Britain of ;^Soo,ooo, besides 
;^i 00,000 a year for the maintenance of an additional corps 
on the frontier. This convention was to be ratified two months 
after signature ; but, at the last moment, Elizabeth could not 
make up her mind to ratify it. She suspected, not without 
reason, that England required a large proportion of the Russian 
contingent to fight her battles on the Rhine and in the Low 
Countries, and she was not disposed to divert her troops 
thither. Not till February 1,1756, were the ratifications signed ; 
but the Empress never forgave Bestuzhev for the vehemence 
and petulance by means of which he forced her hand on this 
occasion. Yet the very treaty which it had taken nearly six 
years to negotiate had already become waste paper. A 
fortnight before the exchange of the ratifications, an event had 
occurred, at the other end of Europe, which shattered all the 
cunning combinations of the Russian Chancellor, completely 
changed the complexion of continental politics, and precipitated 
a gerieral European war. 

Hitherto, broadly speaking, the balance of power in Europe 
had hung upon the rivalry of the houses of Bourbon and 
Hapsburg, the determining cause of most of the wars which 
had convulsed the continent since the days of Richelieu. But 
the last of these wars, the War of the Austrian Succession, had 
had strange and unforeseen consequences. Instead of bene- 
fiting either France or Austria, it had called into existence a 
B. 24 

370 Elizabeth Petrovna, 11^1-1162 [ch. 

new Great Power in the shape of Prussia. France had sought 
to make a tool of the young Prussian Monarchy, but the young 
Prussian Monarchy had reversed their respective parts and 
made a tool of her august and somewhat contemptuous patron 
and ally. The natural result of this disagreeable surprise was 
the drawing together of Austria and France, both now animated 
by a common dread and distrust of Prussia. This astounding 
volte-face was accomplished, not without difficulty (for the 
prejudices of ages could not be overcome in a moment), by 
the Austrian Chancellor Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz. 

But Frederick had been beforehand with his adversaries. 
Recognising the fact that decadent France could no longer be 
profitable to him, and alarmed by the rumours of the impending 
negotiations between Great Britain and Russia, he calculated 
that the chances, on the whole, were in favour of the superior 
usefulness of an English alliance, and (January 16, 1756) 
signed the Treaty of Westminster with Great Britain, generally 
known as the German Neutrality Convention, whereby the two 
contracting powers agreed to unite their forces to oppose the 
entry into, or the passage through Germany, of the troops of 
any other foreign Power. The Treaty of Westminster precipi- 
tated the conclusion of the Franco-Austrian rapprochement 
On May 2, 1756, a defensive alliance was signed at Versailles 
between the French and Austrian governments. On the same 
day a secret treaty, for the ultimate partition of Prussia, was 
signed between the same two Powers ; and to this treaty Russia, 
Sweden and Saxony were to be invited to accede. 

The position of the Russian Chancellor was now' truly 
pitiable. He had expended all his energy in carrying through 
an alliance with Great Britain which was now only so much 
waste paper. He had repeatedly predicted that "Prussia could 
never unite with Great Britain, or Austria withi Fiance, yet 
both these alleged impossibilities had actually iaken place. 
No wonder if the Empress lost confidence in him, iespedally as 
he clung obstinately to a past condition of things \ aivd lehised 

xvii] Russia proposes an anti- Prussian league 371 

to bow to the inexorable logic of accomplished facts. He was 
well aware that if Great Britain could no longer be counted 
upon for help against Prussia the assistance of France would 
be indispensable; yet so inextinguishable was his hatred of 
France, that he could not reconcile himself to the idea of an 
alliance with that Power in any circumstances. Consequently, 
his whole policy was henceforth purely obstructive, and 
therefore purely mischievous. - 

His first act, on recovering from the shock of the Treaty of 
Westminster, was to propose to the Empress the establishment 
of a Konferentsiay or Cabinet Council, as a permanent and 
paramount Department of State, to advise her on all matters 
relating to foreign affairs. This he did to compel his opponents 
to shew their hands openly, instead of secretly intriguing 
against him. At its second session the Conference decided 
that England's treaty with Prussia had nullified the Anglo- 
Russian conventions. At its third session, it determined to 
invite the Courts of Versailles, Vienna and Stockholm to 
co-operate with Russia "to reduce the King of Prussia within 
proper limits so that he might no longer be a danger to the 
German Empire." It then ordered the army to be mobilised 
at once, so that Austria might also be spurred on to more rapid 
action ; and the Austrian ambassador was instructed to inform 
his Court, without delay, that her imperial Majesty was ready 
to conclude a definite treaty with France whenever invited to 
do so. Thus the very Council which Bestuzhev had called into 
existence worked steadily against him from the first. 

Great Britain did all she could to counteract the raffroche- 
ment of Russia and France; and Hanbury Williams, her minister 
at St Petersburg, went the length, during a temporary illness of 
the Empress, of forming a conspiracy to place on the throne 
the Grand-Duke Peter and his consort the Grand-Duchess 
Catherine, both of whom were known to be friendly to the 
King of Prussia. Contrary to everyone's expectations, how- 
ever, at the end of October, Elizabeth's health improved and 

372 Elizabeth Petrovnay i74i-i7<52 [ch. 

all Williams' schemes to prevent the conclusion of the Franco- 
Russian alliance instantly collapsed. On December 31, 1756, 
the Russian Empress formally acceded to the Treaty of 
Versailles, at the same time binding herself, by a secret article, 
to assist France if attacked by England in Europe ; France at 
the same time contracting a corresponding secret obligation 
to give Russia pecuniary assistance in the event of her being 
attacked by Turkey. The secret articles of the partition treaty, 
as between France and Austria, were not, however, communi- 
cated to the Court of St Petersburg. 

It is certain that at this crisis of his life the King of 
Prussia was by no means so well informed as usual. Indeed, 
during the first six months of 1756, he acted upon incorrect, or 
at least incomplete information, and was for a long time in 
the dark as to the true nature and magnitude of the peril he 
knew to be impending. He was well aware, all along, that 
Austria meant to attack him at the first opportunity, and that 
Saxony would go with her; but not till towards the end of June 
did he suspect the existence of the Franco-Austrian League, 
and, till the end of August, he flattered himself that British 
influence would prove stronger than Austrian influence at St 
Petersburg. He was also mistaken, or misinformed, as to the 
relative attitudes of Russia and Austria. He was, for instance, 
under the false impression that Austria was urging on Russia 
against him, but that the latter Power was not prepared and 
would postpone an invasion till the following spring, whereas in 
reality it was Russia who was urging on dilatory and timorous 

At the beginning of June, Frederick learnt from the 
Hague, that Russia had definitely renounced her obligations 
towards England. Early in July he told Mitchell, the English 
envoy at Berlin, that Russia was lost to them, and at once 
resolved to begin what Bismarck has called "a preventive war'," 
certainly his best policy. On August 31, 1756, he invaded 
^ i.e, an aggressive war b^un to anticipate an expected attack. 

XVII J Beginning of the Seven Years' War 373 

Saxony with 60,000 men, drove back the Austrians into 
Bohemia (battle of Lowositz, October i), and occupied the 
whole Saxon electorate, which he ravaged and blackmailed 
mercilessly. The Seven Years' War had begun. 

It is beyond the scope of this book to enter into the details 
of the struggle. Here only the salient events, so far as they 
affected the policy of Russia and the general situation, can be 
very briefly adumbrated. 

The lack of good generals, a fact due to the neglect, during 
the last three reigns, of Peter the Great's golden rule of forming 
a school of native generals by carefully training promising young 
Russian officers beneath the eye of intelligent and experienced 
foreigners, was the cause of Russia's inefficiency in the field 
during the first two campaigns. In 1757, the Russian Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Stephen Apraksin, accidentally gained the 
battle of Grossjagersdorf (August 29), one of the most casual 
victories on record, won as it was by the sheer courage of 
raw troops suddenly attacked by an enemy whom they were 
marching to outflank. During the rest of the campaign 
Apraksin did nothing at all but march and counter-march. 

The great political event of the year 1757 was the resump- 
tion of diplomatic relations between Russia and France. In 
June, 1757, the new French ambassador, Paul Galluchio de 
L'H6pital, Marquis de Chateauneuf, arrived at St Petersburg at 
the head of an extraordinarily brilliant suite. His charming 
manners, ready wit and truly patrician liberality made him a 
persona gratissima at the Russian Court ; and, in conjunction 
with the new Austrian ambassador. Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, 
he carried everything before him. It was through their influence 
that Apraksin and his friend Bestuzhev were arrested, early in 
1758, on a charge of conspiring with the Grand-Duchess 
Catherine and her friends to recall the army from the field and 
hold it in readiness to support a projected coup diktat in case 
of the death of the Empress, who, on September 19, 1756, 

374 Elizabeth Petrovnay 1741-1762 [ch. 

had had a slight apoplectic stroke after attending mass at the 
parish church of Tsarkoe Selo. Bestuzhev's enemies had 
instantly connected the illness of the Empress with the almost 
simultaneous retreat of the army, though we now know for 
certain that the two events were entirely unconnected. The 
retreat of the army had been ordered by an unanimous council 
of war, held a full fortnight previously to the Empress' 
seizure ; while it is obvious that the Chancellor, especially in 
his own very critical position, had no object in sparing his old 
enemy, the King of Prussia. Bestuzhev succeeded in clearing 
himself completely of all the charges brought against him. But 
the Empress, while admitting his innocence, shewed that she 
had lost all confidence in him ; he was deprived of his 
offices, and banished from Court. He was succeeded as Grand 
Chancellor by Michael Vorontsov, an honest man of excellent 
intentions but mediocre abilities. 

The campaign of 1758 was a repetition of the campaign of 
1757. After occupying the whole of East Prussia, Apraksin's 
successor. General Fermor, on August 25, defeated Frederick 
at Zorndorf, one of the most murderous engagements of modem 
times, 34 per cent, of the total number engaged being placed 
hors-de-combat But Fermor was incapable of making any use 
of his victory, even after being strongly reinforced ; and, at the 
beginning of October, he retired behind the Vistula. 

The increasing financial difficulties of the Russian Govern- 
ment, in 1759, prevented the army from taking the field till 
April; and, on May 19, the incurably sluggish Fermor was 
superseded by Count Peter Saltuikov, an officer of no experience, 
who hitherto had been mainly occupied in drilling the militia 
of the Ukraine. Frederick the Great communicated this new 
appointment to his brother Prince Henry, with more than his 
usual caustic acerbity. "Fermor," he wrote, "has received by 
way of appendage one Soltykoff who is said to be more stupid 
and imbecile than anything in the clod-hopper line which 

xvii] Battle of Kunersdorf 375 

Russia has yet produced." Yet this same **clod-hopper" was, 
within three weeks, to reduce the King of Prussia to the last 

Although suddenly pitted against the most redoubtable 
captain of the age, without having ever commanded an army 
before, Saltuikov seems to have accepted his tremendous 
responsibilities without the slightest hesitation. On July 9, he 
reached headquarters ; on July 23, he defeated, near Kay, the 
Prussian general Wedell, who had attempted to prevent his 
junction with the Austrians ; early in August he united with 
Laudon at Frankfurt on Oder; and, on August 12, the allies 
annihilated the army of the King of Prussia at Kunersdorf. 

"Only a miracle can save us now," wrote the Prussian 
Minister Finckenstein to Kniphausen, the Prussian ambassador 
at London, a few days after the catastrophe. At the urgent 
request of Frederick, Pitt at once made pacific overtures to 
Russia on behalf of Prussia, and proposed a peace congress to 
be held at the Hague. On December 1 2, the Empress delivered 
her reply to these pacific overtures. She declared that she and 
her allies were equally desirous of peace, but of a peace that 
should be honourable, durable and profitable. Such a peace, 
she opined, was impossible if things were allowed to remain on 
the same footing as they were before the war. After this it was 
plain to the British Ministers that no more could be said at 
present, and the war must proceed. 

Frederick was only saved from instant destruction by the 
violent dissension between Marshal^ Saltuikov and the Austrian 
Commander-in-Chief, Count Daun, who refused to take orders 
from each other and thus wasted all the fruits of Kunersdorf. 
' Indeed Saltuikov was so elated by his astounding victories that 
he even refused to submit to the orders of his own court. In 
spite of urgent rescripts commanding him to follow up his 
successes without delay, he absolutely refused to remain in 
Silesia a day longer than October 15, as "the preservation 
^ Kunersdorf gained him his bAton, 

376 Elizabeth Petrovnay 1741-1762 [ch. 

of his army ought to be his primary consideration." At the 
beginning of November he deliberately marched off to his 
magazines at Posen. 

It is not too much to say that from the end of 1759 to the 
end of 1 761 the unshakable firmness of the Russian Empress 
was the one constraining political force which held together the 
heterogeneous, incessantly jarring, elements of the anti-Prussian 
combination, and prevented it from collapsing before the shock 
of disaster. From the Russian point of view, Elizabeth's great- 
ness as a ruler consists in her steady appreciation of Russian 
interests, and her determination to promote and consolidate 
them at all hazards. She insisted, throughout, that the King 
of Prussia must be rendered harmless to his neighbours for the 
future, and that the only way to bring this about was to curtail 
his dominions, and reduce him to the rank of a Kurfiirst. 
Russia's share of his partitioned dominions was to be the province 
already in her possession. Ducal Prussia^ as it was then called; 
a very moderate compensation for her preponderating services 
and enormous sacrifices. On January i, 1760, the Empress 
told Esterhazy that she meant to continue the war, in conjunc- 
tion with her allies, even if she were compelled to sell all her 
diamonds and half her wearing apparel ; but she also declared 
that the time had come when Russia should be formally 
guaranteed the possession of her conquest. Ducal Prussia. 
The Court of Vienna was much perturbed. Maria Theresa was 
well aware that France would never consent to the aggrandise- 
ment of Russia, yet she herself was in such absolute need of the 
succour of the Russian troops, that she was obliged to yield to 
the insistence of Elizabeth. Accordingly, on April i, 1760, 
fresh conventions were signed between Austria and Russia, 
providing for the continuation of the war and the annexation 
of Ducal Prussia to Russia. When Louis XV categorically 
refused to accept these conventions in their existing form, and 
compelled Maria Theresa to strike out the article relating to 
* The modem East i^russia. 

xvii] Firmness of Elizabeth 377 

East Prussia, the Empress-Queen added to the conventions so 
amended a secret clause, never communicated to the Court of 
Versailles, virtually reinstating the cancelled article (May 21, 
1760). The British ministers were as apprehensive as the 
ministers of France lest Russia should claim any territorial 
compensation from Frederick II, for, in view of the unyielding 
disposition of the King of Prussia, such a claim meant the 
indefinite prolongation of the war, or, which was even worse 
and far more probable, the speedy and complete collapse of the 
Prussian monarchy. 

Frederick II has told ois that in 1 760 the Russians had only 
to step forward in order to give him the coup de grdce. Once 
more, however, he was saved by the imbecility of the Russian 
generals. In the course of the campaign of 1760, Saltuikov's 
mind became unhinged by his responsibilities, and he was 
superseded by Alexander Buturlin. The occupation of Berlin 
(October 9-12), which was a financial rather than a military 
operation (the heavy contributions levied on the Prussian 
capital helping, as they did, to fill the depleted Russian 
treasury), and the second abortive siege of Kolberg, were the 
sole incidents of the campaign. 

If France and Austria had only with the utmost difficulty 
been persuaded to continue the war at the end of 1759, it may 
be imagined with what feelings they faced the prospect of yet 
another campaign at the end of 1 760. Even in Russia itself 
there was now a very general desire for peace. On January 22, 
1 761, the French ambassador at St Petersburg presented a 
dispatch to the Russian Chancellor from Choiseul to the 
effect that the King of France, by reason of the conditions 
of his dominions, absolutely desired peace, especially as 
the King of Prussia, being at the end of his resources, 
would now doubtless listen to any reasonable propositions. 
On the following day the Austrian ambassador presented a 
memorandum to the same effect. In her reply of February 12, 
Elizabeth declared that she would not. consent to any pacific 

378 Elizabeth Petrovna, 1741-1762 [ch. 

overtures until the original object of the league, "the essential 
and permanent crippling of the King of Prussia/' had been 
accomplished. This reply was accompanied by a letter from 
Elizabeth to Maria Theresa rebuking the Court of Vienna 
for its want of candour in negotiating with France behind the 
back of Russia, and threatening, in case of a repetition of such 
a violation of treaties, to treat with the King of Prussia directly 
and independently. Elizabeth was not, however, averse from 
a peace-congress sitting while the war still went on, though she 
was firmly opposed to anything like a truce as being likely to 
be "extremely useful to the King of Prussia." To these pro- 
positions the allies yielded after some debate. A fresh Russian 
note, in the beginning of May, laid it down, as an imperative 
necessity, that France should leave America and the Indies 
alone for a time and concentrate all her efforts upon the 
continent. Thus Russia was assuming the lead of continental 
affairs not only in arms but in diplomacy also. 

The equally uncompromising attitudes of Russia and Prussia 
rendered another campaign inevitable ; and, despite the leisurely 
strategy of the third Russian Commander-in-Chief, Marshal 
Buturlin, it resulted disastrously for Frederick. During it he 
lost two first-class fortresses, Schweidnitz in Silesia, and Kolberg 
in Pomerania, both of which he had deemed impregnable. It 
is clear from his letter to Finckenstein of January 6, 1 762, that he 
now gave himself up for lost : "Methinks," he wrote, "we ought 
now to think of preserving for my nephew, by way of negotia- 
tions, whatever fragments of my possessions we can snatch 
from the avidity of my enemies. Be persuaded that if I saw 
a gleam of hope... of re-establishing the State on its ancient 
foundations, I would not use such language, but I am convinced 
that... it is impossible." This means, if words mean anything, 
that Frederick had resolved to seek a soldier's death on the 
first opportunity, and thus remove the chief obstacle to a peace 
for want of which Prussia was perishing. He was spared the 
heroic sacrifice. A fortnight later, he received the tidings of 

xvii] Death of Elizabeth 379 

the death of the Russian Empress, who had expired on January 2, 
1762 — and he knew he was saved. Almost the first act of 
Elizabeth's nephew and successor, Peter III, a fanatical admirer 
of Frederick, was to reverse the whole policy of his aunt, to grant 
the King of Prussia peace on his own terms (May 5, 1762), and 
contract a regular defensive alliance with "the King my master." 
Four months later (July 9) Peter was overthrown and made 
away with by his consort, Catherine II, but the change came 
too late to modify the situation. Despite her enormous ex- 
penditure of blood and money, Russia gained nothing but 
prestige from her participation in the Seven Year^' War. 



While Russia had thus become a great Empire, with a 
dominant voice in the European concert, Poland had almost 
ceased to exist politically. The thirty years of the reign of 
Augustus III (i 733-1 763) were a period of sheer stagnation. 
There was no government to speak of. The King rarely 
visited his kingdom; and his chief minister Heinrich Briihl, 
omnipotent in Saxony, was powerless in Poland. And, if there 
was no executive, there was also no legislature. The Sejm 
continued, indeed, to be elected and assembled as usual, every 
two years; but it was so regularly exploded by the application of 
the liberum veto that no laws had been passed and no business 
done for more than a generation. Thinking men had shaken 
their heads in the reign of Augustus II, when no fewer than 
seven Diets had thus been extinguished ; but in the reign of 
Augustus III not one of the fifteen Diets which solemnly 
assembled at Warsaw or Grodno, did anything at all, and all 
for the same reason. 

The long-sought political Utopia of the szlachta had, in fact, 
at last been realised : they lived in a land where every gentleman 
had nothing to do but please himself. All onerous restrictions 
had long since been removed. The army had virtually been 
abolished because the Polish squire would not pay for it. The 
diplomatic service had been done away with because he did not 
see the use of expensively maintaining any regular intercourse 
with foreign powers. On leaving school, with nothing in his 

CH. xviii] Condition of Poland 381 

head but a smattering of Latin, the young szlachcic^ or squire, 
hastened to the court of the nearest Pan, or Lord, who ruled 
like an independent prince in his own district, and there swelled 
the numberless mob of the great man's retainers and hirelings. 
These little courts — and there were hundreds of them — were 
now the focuses of whatever of social and political life still 
survived in Poland. Many of the Polish magnates were fabu- 
lously wealthy. The estates of the Potocy, in the Ukraine alone, 
extended over thousands of square miles. The Radziwills were 
equally opulent. One member alone of that princely house, 
Michael Casimir, was worth 30 millions sterling. It would have 
been a small thing to many of these great nobles to have con- 
tributed towards the national defence by training to the use of 
arms a few thousands of the heydukes, cossacks and poorer 
gentlemen who ate the bread of idleness in their service ; and 
never was the Republic so sorely in need of a military police as 
during the reign of the second absentee King of the Saxon 
dynasty. That period was for central Europe a period of almost 
incessant warfare ; Poland, unfortunately for herself, lay in the 
direct path of the belligerents ; and, despite her neutrality, her 
territories were systematically traversed, exploited, and ravaged 
as if the Republic were a no man's land which everybody might 
make free with. Yet what could be expected from private 
enterprise when the Grand-Hetman, Potocki, the dignitary 
officially responsible for the defence of the country, would not 
even place an observation corps on the threatened Silesian 
frontier for fear of provoking hostilities, and when even such a 
friend pf reform as yjj[aclaw Rzewuski, who resigned a high 
position in order the better to serve his country, could flippantly 
exclaimJIIjThe Republic died long ago, only it has forgotten to 
tumble down.^ 

In justice to the Saxon Court it must be admitted that it 
attempted to strike at the root of the prevalent anarchy by 
abolishing the liberum veto^ especially after the peace of Aix la 
Chapelle, when Augustus III had somewhat strengthened his 

382 Finis Poloniae, 1733-1794 [ch. 

position by matrimonial alliances with the Courts of Vienna 
and Versailles. But all these efforts foundered on the opposition 
of the Austrian Court and the determined opposition of the 
Poles themselves. 

In Poland itself the standard of reform was conscientiously 
upheld by the Czartoryscy, a princely family of Lithuanian 
origin, which, though akin to the ancient Jagiellos, had only 
risen to eminence towards the end of the 17th century. Its 
principal members were prince Michael, Grand-Chancellor of 
Lithuania, the statesman of the family, and Prince Augustus, its 
chief military celebrity, who had been decorated with a sword of 
honour by Prince Eugene for pre-eminent valour at the storm- 
ing of Belgrade, and, on returning home, had rehabilitated the 
somewhat drooping fortunes of his House by espousing the 
great heiress, Sophia Sieniawska. Their sister, Constantia, 
was married to Stanislaus Poniatowski, the father of the future 
king of the same name. 

The Czartoryscy were superior to all their Polish contem- 
poraries in ability, patriotism and public spirit. They warmly 
sympathised with the new ideas of enlightenment which came 
from the banks of the Seine ; they encouraged and supported 
the great educational reformer, Stanislaus Konarsky, who was 
familiarising his countrymen with these ideas. Their palaces 
were schools for promising young men selected from every 
class, and carefully trained to be their political pupils; for 
the end and aim of all the efforts of "The Family^" was the 
reform of the constitution, an object which they rightly re- 
garded as indispensable. But they clearly recognised that only 
by educating, and thereby transforming public opinion could 
they hope to realise their aspirations. 

At first the Czartoryscy co-operated with the Saxon Court 
where from 1733 to 1753 their influence was predominant. 
But, when their opponents in Poland exploded every Diet 

' The name generally given in Poland to the Czartoryscy to mark their 

xviii] The Czartoryscy 383 

favourable to them, and nullified all their confederations by 
counter-confederations, while the Saxon Court, fearful of losing 
Poland altogether, refused to interfere on their behalf, then 
they fell out with their old friend Briihl and began to plot 
against Augustus III. They endeavoured to dethrone him, 
with the aid of Russia, to whom they appealed, through 
Kayserling, the Russian minister at Warsaw, for help to reform 
the constitution, promising, in return, to recognise the Russian 
imperial title, a thing the Republic had hitherto steadily refused 
to do. There is no reason whatever to question the bona fides 
or the patriotism of the Czartoryscy on this occasion. But that 
they should seriously have believed that Russia would consent 
to strengthen and rehabilitate her ancient enemy (for that is 
what their appeal amounted to) is the strongest proof of their 
incompetence as statesmen. They were, in fact, sentimental 
dreamers, mere children in politics, utterly without practical 
experience, hopelessly blind to the realities of the situation. 

Catherine II, whose own situation, for some months after 
her accession to the throne, was somewhat precarious, declined 
to interfere till after the death of Augustus III. That event 
took place on October 5, 1763, whereupon the Czartoryscy 
immediately resumed their appeal to the Russian Empress. At 
the end of February, 1764, they went still further, and demanded 
an army-corps to protect them against the violence of their 
enemies. Their demands were supported by the new Russian 
ambassador at Warsaw, the energetic and masterful Prince 
Nicholas Repnin, who reported that, in view of the state of 
parties, the presence of a Russian army in Poland was indis- 
pensable. In March, 8000 of the Empress' troops entered 
Poland; in June a general confederation, formed by the 
^Czartoryscy, declared that only a native candidate was eligible ; 
while their Russian allies simultaneously suppressed all the 
enemies of " The Family." The elective Diet met at Warsaw 
(August 16-26) and elected, unanimously, Stanislaus Poniatow- 
ski, the nephew of the Czartoryscy, King of Poland. The issue 

384 Finis Poloniae, 1733-1794 [ch. 

could scarce be otherwise, as the electors were overawed by the 
proximity of 8000 Russian veterans. 

The new king was a strikingly handsome man, thirty-two 
years of age, brilliantly educated, brimful of the noblest ideas 
of the new era of enlightenment, but prone to luxury and 
indolence, and with no force of character, though he had a 
much better judgment than either of his uncles, and, in the 
course of his royal career, learnt to be a very fair diplomatist. 
He had first made the aquaintance of Catherine in 1755, at 
St Petersburg, whither he had come, nominally in the suite of 
the new English minister. Sir Hanbury Williams, but really as 
the secret agent of the Czartoryscy. The Grand-Duchess, as 
she then was, at once appropriated the Polish Adonis, body and 
soul ; and he was mixed up in the mysterious intrigues which 
resulted in the fall of Bestuzhev and very nearly in the ruin of 
Catherine herself. On discarding the sentimental Poniatowski 
for the more virile Orlov, Catherine sent the former back to 
Poland with a promise of the Polish crown on the death of 
Augustus III. She already read her paramour through and 
through. She described him, subsequently, to Frederick the 
Great, as "the candidate most suitable for our purposes " ; and 
it is clear, from her instructions to Prince Nicholas Repnin, 
that she meant the crowned Stanislaus to be the mere tool and 
hireling of Russia. Stanislaus was certainly not of the stuff of 
which heroes are made ; but it is only fair to add that, as King, 
he tried to do his duty to his country so far as his almost 
absolute financial dependence upon the Russian Empress (who 
allowed him 3000 ducats per annum to start with) would 
permit him to do so. 

Their candidate thus established on the throne, the Czar- 
toryscy now insisted upon the prompt carrying out of their 
reforms, which included the limitation of the liberum veto and 
the establishment of an hereditary monarchy. Stanislaus also 
privately represented to Catherine that such reforms were 
indispensable. But, if constitutional reform was the vital 

xviii] The Polish Dissidents 385 

question for Poland, the vital question for Russia was the 
establishment of her own hegemony in Poland, which she 
proposed to bring about by placing the few and scattered 
religious Dissidents there on an equality with the overwhelming 
Catholic majority. The success of such a project, she argued, 
would not only win for her the suffrages of the Orthodox 
population of Poland, but would make her extremely popular 
in Russia also ; and popularity was what this new sovereign, of 
German origin, was most in need of. In reply therefore to the 
King and his uncles, she declared that the constitutional 
question must be postponed to the question of the religious 
Dissidents. So important indeed did the adjustment of the 
Dissident question seem to Catherine, that, in case of success 
herein, she was not unwilling to permit some amelioration of 
the Polish constitution. Compared with her policy, at this 
period, the policy of her Prussian ally seems narrow and selfish, 
aiming as it did at pure aggrandisement. But the policy of 
Prussia was, anyhow, easy because of its very simplicity, 
whereas the Dissident question ultimately proved too difficult 
even for Catherine because she overrated the number and 
importance of the Polish Dissidents and underrated the force 
of Polish Catholicism. 

At this time, too, there was no thought at St Petersburg of 
any regular partition of Poland. At the council summoned 
immediately after the death of Augustus III, Count Zachary 
Chernuishev did indeed suggest the advisability of a "rectifica- 
tion" of the frontiers of the Republic; but the idea was scouted 
because the Russian Cabinet, and the Empress herself, were 
under the influence of Count Panin, who preferred to fit Poland 
into his ingenious "Northern Accord" system instead of de- 
stroying her. 

Nikita Ivanovich Panin was a pupil of Bestuzhev whose 
"system" he had followed with brilliant success as ambassador 
at Copenhagen and Stockholm. Towards the end of the reign 
of Elizabeth, he was appointed to the important post of 

386 Finis Poloniae, i733-i794 [ch. 

Ctovemor of the little Grand Duke Paul, whom, on the fall of 
Peter III, he would have placed on the throne instead of 
('atherine, had he been able to do so. Panin's intimate 
ar(|uaintance with European diplomacy made him indispensable 
to Catherine when she ascended the throne. He was her 
political mentor during the first half of her reign, and, though 
never made Chancellor or even Vice-Chancellor, he stood on 
an altogether diflfcrent footing to the counsellors of her later 
ycarw, who were very little more than superior foreign-office 
clcrkn, though dome of them, Alexander Bezborodko for instance, 
were even superior to Panin in sagacity. Panin on the other 
hand Rteadily resisted the generally pernicious influence of the 
im()crial favourites, which none of his successors had the courage 
to do. 

Panin was the inventor of the fieimous **lioithfi3J-League 
dtJk£Qt:^^* which aimed at opposing a combination of Russia, 
Pnissia, Poland, Sweden and, if possible, Great Britain, against 
the l^ourlxw-Hapsburg League, so as to preserve the peace 
of the North. Such an attempt to bind together, indissolubly, 
nations with such ditferent aims and characters was doomed to 
failure. VYederick the Great, in particular, deeply resented 
wivat he regarded as an attempt to fetter his liberty of action ; 
while Irrcat Britain could never be persuaded that it was as 
muoh in her intorcstsi as in the interests of Russia to subsidise 
the anti-Kronoh faction, the **C4ips," in Sweden. Yet the idea oA 
the ^^ Northern Aeooni," though never realised, had important 
politioal eonseqxicnees, and influeT>ced the policy of Russia 
for many years. It explains, too, Panin's strange tenderness 
towards Poland. For a long time, he could not endure the 
thought of destroying her, because he r^arded her as an indis- 
pensable member of his 'Wecord," wherein she was to supply 
the place of Austria, espoeialh- in case of oriental complications. 
Inhere can aK^ be lirrle doubt that, if the plan could have been 
realised, it would hav<' been good for Poland. It might even, 
perhaps, hav< saved her from lx*ing partitioned, and given her 
a chance of re-establishing herself. 

xviii] The Polish Dissidents 387 

But in order to become serviceable Poland had first to be 
made subservient. In February 1765, Panin warned Repnin 
that he must be prepared to support the cause of the 
Dissidents by force of arms, and that, consequently, the 
Russian troops must remain in Poland and be quartered on 
the anti-Dissidents. But it was only now that the difficulties 
of Repnin began. On September 19 the Russian, Prussian, 
British, and Danish Ministers waited upon the Primate and the 
Senate to demand equality of rights for the Dissidents. The • 
Czartoryscy replied that they would willingly promise toleration, 
but to grant equality was impossible. Even when Repnin 
threatened to seize their estates they replied, with dignity, that 
they were ready to be ruined, if necessary, but they could not 
gratify Russia in this particular. 

The Diet of 1766 was of the same mind, and, in spite of 
considerable pressure, dissolved after referring the whole 
question to the decision of the bishops. Violence and corrup- 
tion were now the weapons which Repnin unscrupulously 
employed. Troops were quartered on the estates of the bishops 
and magnates. With great difficulty and considerable expense, 
so-called Dissident confederations were formed at Thorn and 
Slucz. The royal referendarius, Gabriel Podoski, Repnin*s 
secretary and hireling, and the most despised ecclesiastic in 
Poland, was, through Russian influence, raised to the primacy 
to shew that "the friends of Russia might expect anything and 
everything." All the enemies of the Czartoryscy were recalled 
to Poland, professed themselves "the humble servants of the 
Empress," and (July 12, 1767) formed a confederation at 
Radom which petitioned Catherine to guarantee the national 
liberties, including the liberum veto^ assist the Dissidents to 
their rights, and contract a protective alliance with the Republic. 
On the other hand the new papal nuncio, Durini, armed with 
an encyclical from Clement XIII, urging the faithful to uncom- 
promising resistance, and supported by the bishops, prominent 
among whom was the courageous Kajetah Ignaty Soltyk, Bishop 

388 Finis Poloniae, 1 733-1794 [CH. 

of Cracow, frustrated all the efforts of Repnin. During the 
elections, the few partisans of Russia were only saved from 
destruction by the Russian soldiers ; and the Diet of 1767 met, 
on September 23, in a white heat of religious enthusiasm. 

But the elections had still further damaged the Russian 
cause by laying bare the utter artificiality of the Dissident 
agitation. One of the most disconcerting novelties of the 
political struggle was a spontaneous petition from the Dissidents 
themselves to the Diet protesting against being forced to accept 
high office ; and Repnin was compelled to admit in his corre- 
spondence with Panin, that, at present, they certainly were unfit 
for political equality. "For some time," he writes, "I have 
been trying to find among them someone even moderately 
capable, but up to now I have been unable to find anybody. 
They are all tillers of the soil and without any education. If 
you want a Polish Orthodox gentleman you must look for him 
in the Russian monasteries." The Dissident question was 
consequently subordinated to the question of political supremacy 
on the basis of the confederation of Radom. A Russian army 
corps was stationed within five miles of Warsaw ; a regiment of 
grenadiers was quartered in the capital ; and all opposition in 
the chamber itself was silenced by the arrest of four bishops, 
including Soltyk, three senators, and the Grand-Hetman of the 
Crown, Rzewuski, and his son, all of whom were deported to 
Russia (October 13, 1767). It is due to Repnin to add that 
he did not like his work and despised himself for doing it. He 
reported that all the best people were in favour of a limitation 
of the liberum veto] and that to guarantee the old constitution 
would be to alienate them for ever and convince the nation at 
large that Russia only desired its ruin. He concluded by observ- 
ing that, personally, he believed in the possibility of combining 
politics and philanthropy. Catherine, somewhat impressed, 
now declared her willingness to consent to some limitation in 
the liberum veto in regard to financial affairs ; and on the strength 
of this half-promise^ Repnin finally induced the helpless and 

xviii] The Confederation of Bar 389 

leaderless Diet of 1768 to repeal all the edicts against the 
Dissidents, to declare free elections and the liberum veto 
essential and irrevocable articles of the Polish constitution, and 
to place that constitution, in its entirety, under the guarantee 
of Russia (Feb. 24, 1768). 

But now, just as the triumph of Russia seemed most 
complete, alarming news reached Warsaw from the distant 

On February 29, 1768, a score or so of country gentlemen, 
some hundreds of peasants and a few priests and monks as- 
sembled at the little Podolian fort of Bar, and formed, beneath 
the banner of the blessed Virgin, a Confederation to protest 
against the resolutions of the last Diet. Without money, 
influence or organisation — for riot one of the magnates or prelates 
adhered to it — the Confederation of Bar appeared at first sight 
insignificant enough. But it owed its real importance to the 
fact that it was a genuine popular rising, inspired by a patriotism 
and a devotion utterly unknown to the official classes ; and its 
consequences were momentous and far-reaching. The original 
Confederates were, indeed, easily scattered by the Russian 
troops ; but, stamped out in one place, the insurrection instantly 
burst forth in half a dozen other places, and, at last, the whole 
Republic was, as Repnin put it, " ablaze with the fire of Bar.'* 
Presently, fresh complications arose. At the end of 1768, a 
band of Cossacks, in pursuit of the Confederates, crossed the 
border and destroyed the Turkish town of Galta ; whereupon the 
Grand Vizier, already seriously alarmed by the recent events in 
Poland, delivered an ultimatum to the Russian ambassador 
Obryezkov, threatening Russia with war if she did not instantly 
cancel the guarantee and withdraw her 40,000 troops from the 
territories of the Republic. 

Almost simultaneously, Choiseul, very jealous of the upstart 
young Empire which had dared to traverse the designs of the 
ancient French monarchy, promised to send the Confederates 
money and officers ; and, during an interview with Krasinski, 

390 Finis Poloniae, 1733-1794 [ch. 

Bishop of Kamieniec, one of Repnin^s victims, undertook to 
advance 3,000,000 livres to any party in Poland strong enough 
to overthrow Stanislaus and place the Prince of Cond^, or 
some other French candidate, on the Polish throne. 

Catherine was seriously embarrassed. Unable to prevent 
the inconvenient and unexpected outbreak of the first Turkish 
War^, which absorbed for a time all her forces, she felt obliged 
to make some concession to the Republic. On March 31, 1 769, 
Repnin was superseded by Prince Michael Volkonsky, who was 
instructed to be conciliatory and pacific without making the 
slightest concession. From the Russian point of view the 
supersession of Repnin was a mistake, as the change of 
ambassadors necessarily implied a change of system. Fortu- 
nately for Russia, the extreme weakness of Poland minimised the 
consequences of the blunder. Stanislaus was so poor that he 
was glad to borrow 10,000 ducats from Volkonsky* soon after 
his arrival; and the Grand-Hetman Rzewuski accepted 3000 
ducats more in order to put the liliputian Polish army on 
a war footing, Rzewuski undertaking to defend Kamieniec in 
case the Turks attacked it. Nevertheless, it was quite clear 
that neither the King nor the Czartoryscy would submit much 
longer to Russian dictation. When Volkonsky asked Stanislaus 
whether he imagined he could keep his throne without the 
aid of the Empress, the King simply shrugged his shoulders. 
The Senate too, at the suggestion of the Czartoryscy, after 
despatching an embassy to St Petersburg complaining that the 
treaty of 1768 had been extorted by the violence of Repnin, 
endeavoured by diplomatic means to secure the good offices of 
Great Britain at Stambul, and assured the Porte, by a special 
envoy, that the Republic would remain neutral during the war. 

It was only now, when Poland seemed about to break with 
Russia, and Russia herself was immeshed in the Turkish War, 

^ See next chapter. 

2 He had already borrowed 13,000 from Repnin. 

xviii] The first partition scheme 391 

that the partition project, which had long been in the air, 
suddenly became a prominent political factor. 

So early as the end of 1768, the Courts of Vienna, Versailles ^ 
and Copenhagen became aware that the King of Prussia was 
about to "compensate himself" at the expense of Poland for 
the subsidies that he was bound, by treaty, to pay the Russian 
Empress on the outbreak of the Turkish War. The first 
partition scheme, the so-called Lynar project — though it was not 
the Saxon Minister Lynar but Frederick himself who was the real 
author of it — was sent to Count Solms, the Prussian Minister at 
St Petersburg, at the beginning of 1769. Panin, however, was 
not much pleased with it. The territory of Russia, he 
said, was so vast already, that he doubted whether it would 
be any advantage to her to increase it. His real objection to 
it was that it ran counter to his "Northern Accord." He 
preferred to keep Poland Russianised but intact. Frederick 
was profoundly irritated. He wanted an increase of territory 
sufficient to counterpoise any possible acquisitions of Russia 
from Turkey, and, above all, he wanted it without the risks of 
war. For the Frederick of 1769 was a very different man from 
the Frederick of 174 1 or 1756. The terrible experiences of the 
Seven Years* War had converted the brilliant military adventurer 
into a cautious, almost timorous, statesman, whose invincible 
dread of war coloured the whole policy of his later years. Of 
the *VbearS of the Holy Roman Empire^*' Mfhose mortal hug 
had all but crushed him to death at Kunersdorf, he was 
particularly fearful ; while Poland then, as Turkey is now, " the 
sick man of Europe," seemed expressly at hand to adjust all 
differences and reconcile all ambitions. With Russia on his 
side, he had no reason to apprehend the interference of the 
other European Powers, who regarded the partition of Poland as 
an unavoidable and, indeed, not altogether undesirable event of 
the near future, as it might have an equilibrating effect. The 
only question was, which of the Powers should benefit by it, and 
^ The name he gave the Russians after Kunersdorf. 

392 Finis Poloniae, i733-i794 [cH. 

how. The Court of Vienna at first considered it disadvantageous 
for Austria to transgress her natural boundaries, the Carpathians, 
by annexing the Polish lands beyond; but it was willing to 
allow Frederick a free hand in that direction if only he first 
restored Silesia. Saxony wanted a slice of Poland big enough 
to enable her Elector to assume the royal title; she was 
indifferent as to what became of the rest. Choiseul, in order to 
anticipate what Panin called " the sordid designs of the King 
of Prussia," suggested that Austria should take the first step 
and appropriate as much of Polish territory as she wanted — ^and 
Choiseul was ostensibly the friend of Poland ! Even the Porte, 
which had actually taken up arms on behalf of the Republic, 
proposed (in 1770) that Austria and Turkey should partition 
Poland between them in order to circumvent Russia and 
Prussia. Great Britain had no interest in the matter except in 
so far as it might affect her commerce. Thus, oddly as it may 
sound now, the only serious opposition to a partition came from 

Joseph II's fear and jealousy of Frederick, and the aged 
Kaunitz's desire to go down to posterity as a famous acquisitor 
of territory, especially after it became quite clear to him that 
nothing could be gained by pretending to advocate the cause 
of Turkey, were the causes of Austria's final adhesion to the 
partition project. But Maria Theresa revolted at the idea 
of despoiling a friendly Catholic Power. Only the urgent repre- 
sentations of her son and her chancellor, who assured her that 
Austria could not safely sit still while Russia and Prussia 
aggrandised themselves at the expense of Poland, only the 
sophistries of her spiritual directors who drew subtle distinctions 
between political and private morality, induced the devout and 
scrupulous old lady to put her hand to a deed which she 
abhorred. The subsequent alacrity of Austria to secure her 
share of the spoil certainly contrasted strangely with her 
previous backwardness. The new understanding with Prussia 
was cemented at the meeting between Frederick, Joseph II and 

xviiij The pressure of Prussia 393 

Kaunitz, at Neustadt in Bohemia, at the beginning of September 
1770; and* immediately afterwards Austria formally^ annexed 
the Zips counties, a district in north Hungary, which had been 
mortgaged to Poland in 141 2 and never redeemed. The 
occupation of Zips was followed up by Frederick's proposed 
joint mediation of Prussia and Austria between Russia and the 
Turks (September), and the despatch of Prince Henry of 
Prussia to St Petersburg (October) to accelerate the adhesion 
of Russia to the partition project. Catherine resented being 
hurried into a compact for which she had no great relish. At 
the end of December she shewed Prince Henry that she had 
penetrated the designs of his brother by hinting, facetiously, 
that as Austria had already seized Polish territory, Prussia 
might just as well follow suit. In January 1771, Frederick 
applied still further pressure by informing the Court of St 
Petersburg that he could not guarantee the neutrality of Austria 
if the Turkish war continued, and at the same time dictated 
the terms with which he thought Russia should be content 
Catherine was justly indignant. " Be firm ! " she wrote to 
Panin, " not one step backwards ! If we are hurried into a 
peace it will be a bad peace." Although it is highly probable 
that the details of the first partition were settled with Prince 
Henry, it is evident that Catherine and Panin would have 
separated the Polish from the Turkish question and spared 
Poland as much as possible. The Russian government was 
even inclined to compensate Poland with Moldavia and 
Wallachia ; but Prussia and Austria would allow Russia neither 
to retain those conquered provinces herself nor to transfer them. 
On the other hand, though Frederick was quite capable of 
seizing Polish territory as unceremoniously as he had seized 
Silesia, he was not insensible to the outcry which such an act of 
political brigandage would inevitably call forth. It was necessary, 
therefore, that the spoil should be shared with the two Empires. 
Common action would be the safest course to follow in the 
^ She had seized it just before the Neustadt conference. 

394 Finis Poloniae, 1 733-1794 [cH. 

present, and the best guarantee for the future. But the hand 
of the Russian government was still held back by some 
scruples of honour. In February 177 1 , Panin, in reply to 
another impatient reminder from Potsdam, informed t^^e 
Prussian Minister, Solms, that the Empress had so often and so 
solemnly guaranteed the territorial integrity of the Republic, 
that the open violation of that principle must produce 
everywhere the most unpleasant effect. He added that 
Frederick's suggestion that Russia should compensate herself 
in Poland for losses sustained elsewhere was regarded at St 
Petersburg as " hard and offensive." March, April and May 
passed ; and still there was no further reply from the Russian 
Court. During this time Panin was struggling against a 
combination of all his enemies in the cabinet, including the 
War Minister Chernuishev and the Orlovs, whose chief and 
incontrovertible argument was the ease and profitableness of a 
partition At length they prevailed, and Catherine directed 
Panin to carry out the details of the partition. It was a hard 
blow for the old minister thus to violate the principles of his 
"Northern Accord"; but he comforted himself with the 
reflection that, even after a partition, Poland would still be a 
considerable Power, and he saw to it that both Prussia and 
Austria abated their "claims" considerably, at the last 

Panin's public justification of the Empress's change of front 
was the damage done to Russia by the Polish Confederates, 
for which Russia claimed to be recouped by the ungrateful 
Republic she had vainly endeavoured to serve. The Con- 
federates, who, up to 1770, had been favoured by Austria, 
who had allowed them to make their headquarters at Eperies 
in Hungary, and by France, who had sent Dumouriez to 
organise their undisciplined bands, were now promptly sup- 
pressed at the end of 177 1, by Suvarov, just as they threatened 

^ Thus he prevented Frederick from annexing Dantzic and Thorn, and 
Austria from incorporating the whole of Galicia. 

xviii] Stanislaus and Stackelberg 395 

to become most dangerous*. A general 'Opacification" was 
indeed the necessary preliminary of a partition. 

Poland, meanwhile, was the only country in Europe where 
there was still no suspicion of the coming partition. Stanislaus 
and the Czartoryscy naively imagined that the Republic was 
far too essential a part of the continental system to be dealt 
with thus summarily. Even when military cordons began to 
be formed, along the Netze by Prussia and on the Galician 
border by Austria; even when the suave and courtly Volkonsky 
was superseded by the brutal Saldern and the contemptuous 
Stackelberg, they failed to discern a fresh change of system at 
the Russian Court, and obstinately shut their eyes to facts. 
On September 7, 1771, Stackelberg presented the partition 
project to the Polish Ministers, who, in their utter helplessness, 
could only fall back on passive resistance and procrastination. 
At the end of October the Russian Minister put fresh pressure 
upon the King at a private interview. Stanislaus, character- 
istically, took to posing and haranguing. "I would beg your 
Majesty to leave Plutarch and antiquity alone," interrupted 
Stackelberg, "and deign to consider the history of modern 
Poland and of Count Stanislaus Poniatowski." He then 
assured him that his political existence depended upon two 
things, the summoning of a Diet at Grodno to consider the 
propositions of the Powers, and his own abstention from 
intrigue' in the future. Nevertheless, two days later, Stanislaus 
made a last desperate effort to save his country by sending a 
secret embassy to Versailles. But Choiseul, the only French 
Minister who, even now, might have seriously embarrassed the 
partitioning powers, had been dismissed from office scarce 
twelve months before (Dec. 10, 1770) for failing to show 
proper respect to the infamous Du Barry; and the Polish 

^ Some of the magnates had now joined them. Their last exploit was 
the capture of the citadel of Cracow (Feb. 2, 1771). Then they made 
a crazy attempt to abduct the King, which came to nothing (Nov. 3). 

2 ue, efforts to obtain extraneous assistance. 

396 Finis Poloniae, 1733-1794 [cH. 

envoys brought home with them nothing but polite con- 
dolences. There was now nothing for it but to submit. 

After innumerable declarations and diplomatic notes had 
been exchanged between the three Powers, the definite treaty 
of partition was signed at St Petersburg on August 5, 1772. 
On September 18, 1773, the miserable shadow of a Diet, 
which assembled at Grodno beneath the "protection" of 
Russian bayonets, was forced to confirm it. By the first 
partition Poland lost about 214,000 square kilometres of her 
total territory (751,000). Austria got the lion's share, consisting 
of the palatinates of Lemberg and Belz, half the palatinates of 
Cracow and Sandomir, and parts of Podolia and western 
Galicia, together with 70,480 square kilometres with a popula- 
tion of 2,700,000 and a revenue of 1,408,000 Polish gulden. 
Prussia got the modern West Prussia, exclusive of Dantzic and 
Thorn, with the Netze district, altogether 34,741 square kilo- 
metres with a population of 416,000 and a revenue of 534,750 
thalers. Russia got Polish Livonia, the palatinates of Witebsk 
and Mstislavl and half of the palatinates of Polock and Minsk, 
altogether 108,750 square kilometres, with a population of 
1,800,000 and a revenue of 920,480 Polish gulden^ 

None of the contemporaries of the first partition seems to 
have regarded it unfavourably either from a political or from 
a moral point of view. The general condemnation of it was 
of a later date and largely due to a growing dislike of 
Catherine's policy in general, and Panin's methods in particular. 
Russia comes the best out of the wretched business. She 
prevented the partition as long as possible, and she won her 
share of it (which, by the way, consisted entirely of old Russian 
lands) at least by right of conquest, whereas Austria and 
Prussia got their portions of the spoil by no right at all. 
It is therefore unfair and humiliating to Russia to place her 
in the same class as her accomplices. In fact the hand of 

^ These figures differ materially in the different accounts of the partition. 
I have taken the most probable items. 

xviii] The new Polish Constitution 397 

Catherine was forced by Frederick II, who, taking advantage 
of her difficulties with his usual astuteness and unscrupulous- 
ness, compelled her to sacrifice her interests to those of 
Prussia. Catherine never forgave Frederick for this exhibition 
of tactical superiority, and, diplomatically considered, the first 
partition of Poland marks the beginning of the estrangement 
between Russia and Prussia, and its corollary, the re-approxi- 
mation of Russia and Austria. 

It cannot fairly be said that the diminution of the Polish 
State was, in any way, injurious to the Polish people. Panin's 
contention that the wrested provinces would benefit by the 
transfer was perfectly true ; and it must also be added that the 
new constitution adopted by the Diet of 1775, which the 
Russians invented to meet the new conditions of the Republic, 
was, sentiment apart, far superior to anything of the kind 
which the Poles themselves had ever been able to devise. 

The throne continued, indeed, to be elective, though the 
candidates were to be limited to native Poles, always excepting 
the sons and grandsons of the reigning King. The liberum 
veto was also retained. But everywhere we trace the hand of 
Panin endeavouring to make Poland a serviceable but not too 
formidable an ally. The executive was intrusted to a Rada 
Nieustajaca, or Permanent Council of State, consisting of 
36 members, 18 senators and 18 deputies, elected biennially 
by ballot and subdivided into the five departments of War, 
Justice, Foreign Affairs, Police and Finances, on the model 
of the Swedish constitution overthrown by Gustavus III in 
1772. The King was to preside over the Council, summon 
the Diet with its consent, and select all senators, ministers 
and bishops from a list of three candidates submitted to him 
by the Council. For the first time in Polish history the King 
received a decent civil list and the chief officers of state 
adequate, but not extravagant, salaries. The yearly budget 
was fixed at between 32,000,000 and 35,000,000 Polish gulden^ 

^ A Polish gulden = about is. yi, of our money. 


398 Finis Poloniae, i733-i794 fcH. 

The regular army was to consist of 30^000 men of all arms, a 
force five times as large as it used to be when Poland was in 
the plenitude of her power. 

On the whole, then, the new Polish constitution, though 
it restricted the Republic within a very moderate political 
programme, made for order, economy and stability. But, 
whatever its merits, it was, after all, the invention of the 
enemy, and therefore abominable to Polish patriotism. The 
opportunity of replacing it by something better did not occur, 
however, till fourteen years later, when (in 1787) the insolent 
and provocative policy of Catherine II suddenly involved 
herself and her ally Joseph II in a second war with the Turks, 
far more dangerous than the first, which speedily engrossed 
her attention. 

It was therefore in the most favourable circumstances 
conceivable that the famous Czteroletni Sejm^ or Quadrennial 
Diet, assembled at Warsaw on October 16, 1788.- The 
patriots were justified in hoping much from a national assembly 
which differed materially and advantageously from all its pre- 
decessors. Its benches were crowded by youthful enthusiasts, 
elected under the immediate stimulus of agitating events, and 
brimful of public spirit. Their first act was to elect, as 
Marshal, Stanislaus Malachowski, almost the only nobleman 
in the land quite free from aristocratic prejudices, whose civic 
virtues had won for him the title of "the Polish Aristides." 
These young reformers grouped themselves round Adam Casimir 
Czartoryski and Ignatius Potocki. The conservatives and 
reactionaries followed the lead of the immensely wealthy 
Grand Hetmans, Felix Potocki and Xavier Branicki, both of 
them avowed Russophils who had fought without shame 
against their own countrymen in the open field and been 
liberally rewarded by Catherine for their valuable services 
during the time of the first partition. The King had his own 
piurty. He was in favour of an alliance with Russia, but a 
fre# and independent alliance, on equal terms, which would 

xviii] The Quadrennial Diet 399 

not exclude constitutional reform. It is quite clear that 
Stanislaus grasped the whole political situation far better 
than any of his Polish contemporaries; unfortunately, the 
correctness of his views was more than counterbalanced by 
the instability of his character. 

The first political acts of the Sejm were the repudiation of 
the Russian guarantees of 1775, *"^ *^^ rejection of a proposal 
from St Petersburg for a new alliance — hazardous proceedings 
so long as Poland did not possess a stable government and a 
powerful army of her own. But it must be remembered that 
the Poles of 1788 were 'prentice hands in the trade of politics, 
with no practical knowledge of foreign affairs, and animated 
by a fierce and very natural hatred of Russia. They were 
encouraged in these sentiments by Frederick William II of 
Prussia and his ministers, who, uneasy at the ambition of 
Catherine II and Joseph II, were disposed to make use of 
Poland as a political cat's-paw. It was the Prussian envoy 
Lucchesini who first suggested that the Sejm should demand 
the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Poland — another 
foolish step which needlessly irritated Russia without bestowing 
any corresponding benefit on Poland. Then Frederick William, 
going a step further, renounced Prussia's guarantee of the 
constitution of 1775, and recognised, in the most emphatic 
way, the right of the Sejm to frame a constitution of its own. 
Emboldened by this neighbourly support, the patriots proceeded 
to abolish the Permanent Council of State (Jan. 19, 1789). 
The brilliant victories of the Russians and Austrians over the 
Turks, in the course of 1789^ so frightened Frederick William 
and Hertzberg that they attempted to form a political com- 
bination, strong enough to compel the allies to make peace 
with Turkey on the basis of the status quo. The combination 
failed ultimately because Pitt refused to accede to it, but it 
drew Poland completely within the orbit of Prussia. 

The Prussian "system" was based on a complicated 
1 See next chapter. 

400 Finis Poloniae, i733-i794 [ch. 

scheme of territorial exchanges. Poland was to surrender 
Dantzic and Thorn to Prussia, and receive back Galicia from 
Austria, who, in her turn, was to be compensated, at the 
expense of Turkey, by the restoration of the Passarowicz 
frontier, while Prussia and Austria were to assist the Porte 
to get the best terms procurable from Russia. Lucchesini, the 
Prussian minister at Warsaw, was instructed to caress and 
flatter the Poles to the top of their bent, and insinuate the 
Dantzic-Thorn exchange project at every convenient oppor- 
tunity. Great Britain regarded the proposed cession favourably, 
and offered, in case of Polish compliance, herself to conclude, 
and to make Prussia conclude, treaties of commerce so advan- 
tageous to the Republic that her economical rehabilitation, by 
means thereof, would only have been a matter of a few years' 
time. Prussia at the same time offered to conclude an 
offensive and defensive alliance with Poland, guaranteeing 
her territorial integrity; and Pitt, on this occasion, said to 
Oginski, the Polish minister in London : ** I will speak plainly 
to you. I mean to coerce Russia if you will oblige Prussia." 
It is obvious that for such services as Prussia was prepared, 
for her own sake, to render to Poland, the weaker confederate 
was bound to pay handsomely. Moreover, the Frederician tolls 
had so ruined the trade of Dantzic and Thorn, that those 
cities were now mere skeletons of their magnificent former 
selves, and of no advantage whatever to Poland. Unfortunately, 
the Diet, misled by a false patriotism, refused to make the 
required sacrifice; and Frederick William II, unable to obtain, 
by an open, amicable agreement, what he so keenly coveted, 
henceforth sought to secure it by underhand treacherous ways. 
Nevertheless circumstances prevented him from breaking with 
Poland immediately. The growing interest which Austria, under 
the new Emperor Leopold II (Feb. 1790 to March 1792), 
took in the welfare of the Republic seriously alarmed Frederick 
William. On March 20, 1790, a defensive alliance was 
concluded between Prussia and Poland whereby they engaged 

xviii] The Constitution of May 3, 1791 401 

to guarantee each other's possessions; and, when the Polish 
Diet proclaimed the new Constitution, the King of Prussia 
officially congratulated the King of Poland on the success of 
"the happy revolution which has, at last, given to Poland a 
wise and regular government." He declared, at the same 
time, that it should henceforth be his ** chief care to maintain 
• and strengthen the ties which unite us." 

The May Constitution was the result of a coup d^itat 
skilfully conducted by the patriots and the royal faction 
combined. The experience of the last three years having 
convinced all men of good will in Poland that the small 
reactionary* minority of the Diet would never consent to 
a sweeping revolution, they took advantage of the Easter 
recess when most of the malcontent magnates were out of 
town, and (May 3, 1791), suddenly bringing the question of a 
reform of the Constitution before the Diet, demanded urgency 
for it. Before the Opposition could recover from its surprise, 
the Marshal produced, and read aloud, the latest foreign 
despatches, which unanimously predicted a fresh partition; 
and, while the excitement caused thereby was at its height, 
Ignatius Potocki, as pre-arranged, arose and solemnly adjured 
the King to provide for the safety of the Republic. Stanislaus 
thereupon produced a form of constitution, originally drafted 
by himself, in French, on the model of the British constitution. 
In a perfervid speech from the throne, he exhorted the deputies 
to accept this new constitution as the last and best means of 
saving their country, and himself set the example by taking an 
oath on the Gospels to defend it. The Diet, in an access 
of enthusiasm, followed suit, whereupon the whole Assembly 
marched in procession to the Church of St John where a 
Te Deum was sung, amidst salvos of artillery. 

The Revolution of May 3, 1791, converted Poland into an 

^ It was never more than 72 in a house of 354 members, and ultimately 
it sank to 20. 

402 Finis PoloniaCy 1733-1794 [cH. 

hereditary^ limited monarchy, with ministerial responsibility 
and biennial parliaments. The liberum veto was for ever 
abolished. All invidious class distinctions were done away 
with. The franchise was extended to the towns. Serfdom 
was ameliorated, as a first step towards its abolition. Absolute 
religious toleration was established, and every citizen was 
declared equal before the law. 

The alarm of the Russian Empress was the most conclusive 
testimony to the excellence of the new Polish constitution. 
Cobenzl, the Austrian minister at Petersburg, writing to his 
Court immediately after the reception of the tidings at the 
Russian capital, describes Catherine as full of consternation 
at the idea that Poland, under an hereditary dynasty, might, 
once more, become a considerable power. But Turkey still 
engaged her anxious attention, so she was obliged to watch, in 
furious impotence, the collapse of her party in Poland, and 
submit to the double humiliation of recalling her ambassador 
and withdrawing her army from that country. Even after the 
Peace of Jassy (Jan. 9, 1792) she waited patiently for the 
Polish malcontents themselves to afford her a pretext for 
direct intervention. She had not long to wait. The Con- 
stitution of May 3, 1 791, had scarce been signed, when Felix 
Potocki, Severin Rzewuski and Xavier Branicki, three of the 
chief dignitaries of Poland, hastened to St Petersburg, and there 
entered into a secret convention with Catherine, whereby she 
undertook to restore the old constitution by force of arms, but, 
at the same time, promised to respect the territorial integrity 
of the Republic. On May 14, 1792, the conspirators formed a 
so-called * Confederation at the little town of Targowicz, in the 
Ukraine, protesting against the Constitution of May 3 ; and, 
almost simultaneously, the new Russian minister at Warsaw 

^ On the death of Stanislaus the crown was to pass to the family of the 
Elector of Saxony. 

* It consisted, in the first instance, of only ten persons besides the three 
original conspirators. 

xviii] The Russo-Polish War 0/1192 403 

presented a formal declaration of war to the King and Diet; 
The Diet met the crisis with dignity and firmness. The army 
was at once despatched to the frontier; the male population 
was called to arms; Ignatius Potocki was sent to Berlin to 
obtain the assistance stipulated by the treaty of March 19, 1791 ; 
and, after declaring the King Dictator so long as the war lasted, 
the Diet dissolved so as to leave the executive perfectly free. 
A few days later Ignatius Potocki returned from Berlin empty- 
handed. The King of Prussia (having, in the meantime, 
privately come to terms with Russia) now declined to defend 
a constitution which ** had never had his concurrence." 

All that Poland now had to depend upon was a small, 
ill-provided army of 46,000 men, whose only possible strategy, 
in the circumstances, was to keep the enemy, some 100,000 
strong, at bay, till the King came to their assistance with the 
reserves. Mistakes were made at first, and there was some 
treachery among the higher officers, but, on the whole, the 
brief campaign was most creditable to the Poles. For three 
months, the southern army, under Prince Joseph Poniatowski, 
the King's nephew, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko, in their slow 
retreat on the capital, skilfully and valiantly retarded the 
advance of the Russians. At Polonna the enemy was repulsed 
with the loss of 3000 men. At Dubienka, Kosciuszko, with 
only 4000 men, defended the line of the Bug against 20,000 
for five days ; and Kochovski's unsuccessful attempt to cut off 
the hero's retreat cost him 4000 men. The northern army, 
too, under Judycki, made good its retreat through the fens 
and forests of Lithuania. Both armies, converging upon 
Warsaw, were about to risk everything in a great general 
engagement, when the King, despairing of success, and hoping 
thereby to receive better terms for Poland, acceded to the 
Confederation of Targowicz. Most of the Polish officers 
thereupon threw up their commissions and fled to Saxony, 
where they were joined by the principal members of the Quad- 
rennial Diet (see p. 499). The army was then dispersed all over 

26 — 2 

404 Finis PoloniaCy 17 33-1794 [ch. 

the country. Throughout the autumn the Russians poured 
by thousands into eastern Poland, while the Prussians occupied 
Great Poland The two Powers then declared their intention 
of annexing the occupied territory, and summoned a carefully 
selected assembly of ren^ades and reactionaries, who repre- 
sented only 17 out of 32 palatinates, "to come to an amicable 
understanding." Yet even this helpless and debased assembly 
revolted against its tyrants. Only after twelve weeks of the 
most brutal violence was the second partition-treaty signed 
(Jan. 4, 1793), whereby Russia gained 250,700 and Prussia 
58,370 square kilometres more of Polish soiP. The miserable 
remnant of the ancient kingdom was then compelled to re- 
accept its vicious old constitution under the guarantee of the 
partitioning Powers. 

The first partition of Poland has sometimes been plausibly 
defended as a regrettable necessity, but no sophistry in the 
world can extenuate the villainy of the second partition. 
The theft of territory is its least offensive feature. It is 
the forcible suppression of a national movement of reform, 
the hurling back into the abyss of anarchy and corruption 
of a people who, by incredible efforts and sacrifices, had 
struggled back to liberty and order, which makes this great 
political crime so wholly infamous. Yet here again the 
methods of the Russian Empress were less vile than those 
of the Prussian King. Catherine openly took the risks of a 
bandit who attacks an enemy against whom he has a grudge ; 
Frederick William II came up, when the fight was over, to 
help pillage a victim whom he had sworn to defend. 

But Poland was not to perish utterly without one last 
exhibition of splendid valour whose very failure was far more 
glorious than all the victories of her enemies. 

After the second partition the Polish refugees made Leipsic 
their headquarters. They now placed all their hopes in 
revolutionary France. Here again their simplicity and inex- 
^ See map 3. 

xviii] Kosciuszkds rising 405 

perience misled them. They imagined that republican France 
was the natural ally of all republics, their own included. They 
discovered that the Jacobins regarded them as aristocrats, and 
were far more inclined to make peace with Prussia, even at the 
expense of Poland, than to help the Polish patriots. Hence 
the inevitable failure of Kosciuszko's mission to Paris at the 
beginning of 1793. Nay, it was worse than a failure, for, 
coinciding as it did with the execution of Louis XVI, it 
prejudiced all the other Powers against Poland. 

Kosciuszko would have waited for better times, but his 
hand was forced by a popular rising in Poland itself, headed 
by the officers and soldiers of the disbanded Polish regiments. 
He blamed severely the impetuosity of his countrymen, but 
leave them in the lurch he could not; and on February 12, 1794* 
he appeared at Cracow, with a brigade of volunteers. His 
first act was to attend mass at the Church of the Capuchins, 
where the prior, according to ancient custom, solemnly con- 
secrated the arms of the patriots to the service of God and 
their country. From March 24 to April i Kosciuszko 
remained at Cracow organising his forces, which consisted 
entirely of small squires, citizens of Cracow, and peasants, 
armed only with scythes and pikes. Yet with this rude army 
he routed General Tormasov at Raclawice (April 5), the scythe- 
men capturing all the Russian guns by an impetuous rush. 
For the next two months necessity detained him in his camp 
at Pincz6w. He depended for everything on the voluntary 
offerings of a depressed and impoverished people, for the 
insurrection of 1794 was entirely a popular rising; not one of 
the great nobles joined it, for fear of losing his estates in case 
of disaster. But the people flocked to Kosciuszko in thousands ; 
the churches and monasteries sent him their gold and silver 
plate for the mint; and, as the news of Raclawice spread 
through the land, the Polish officers and soldiers, incorporated 
in the various Russian regiments, broke away from their colours 
and hastened to join the Liberator whose first manifesto had 

4o6 Finis Poloniae, i733-i794 [ch. 

proclaimed the emancipation of the serfs. By the middle of 
June his army had increased to 14,000 men, of whom 11,000 
were regulars. 

The nation too had, by this time, declared for him. On 
April 17 the citizens of Warsaw rose and expelled the strong 
Russian garrison. On April 22-23 Wilna followed the example 
of Warsaw. Soon all Poland, except Podolia, Volhynia and 
the Ukraine, was at the Liberator's disposal. 

In all his proclamations, Kosciuszko had been careful to 
indicate the Moscovite as the sole irreconcilable enemy who 
must be fought ^ outrance, Austria he looked upon as a 
possible friend, Prussia as a neutral. He never suspected that 
both these Powers had already resolved to profit by the insur- 
rection and assist Russia to repress it as speedily as possible. 
His eyes were first opened when, on June 5, at Szczekocina he 
and his 14,000 Poles came upon the combined Russian and 
Prussian forces, 26,000 strong, with 124 guns, where he had 
only expected to find the Russian division of General Denisov. 
At nightfall, after a desperate encounter, the Poles fell back 
upon Warsaw leaving 1000 dead and eight guns upon the 
field. What was still more serious, four out of their six best 
generals had been placed hors-de-combai. And now Job's 
messengers came hurrying in from all parts of the country. 
On June 8 Zajonczek had been defeated at Chelm. Shortly 
afterwards Cracow was taken. Loud cries of treachery were 
raised at Warsaw; and the provisional government could or 
would not prevent the mob from dragging the political 
prisoners out of prison and hanging them without a trial. 
Then fierce dissensions broke out among the Poles themselves, 
the moderates accusing the radicals of Jacobinism, and the 
radicals retorting by denouncing the moderates as traitors. 
It was as much as Kosciuszko could do to restore even the 
semblance of order; and by the time he had drafted 10,000 of 
the mob into his army, and compelled the two conflicting 
factions to work together harmoniously for the common weal. 

xviii] The siege of Warsaw 407 

the Prussians were already beneath the walls of Warsaw, with 
25,000 men and 179 guns, exclusive of an auxiliary Russian 
division of 16,000 men and 74 guns, and a covering army 
of 11,000. To these forces Kosciuszko could only oppose 
26,000 men, of whom 16,000 were regulars and 9000 volunteers 
from Warsaw. But his position was strong; his skill in 
engineering was great; and the whole population was trans- 
formed by his enthusiasm. 

The siege of Warsaw lasted from July 9 to September 6. 
Two unsuccessfril attempts to storm the city were made on 
August 28 and September i, and then the tidings of a general 
rising in Great Poland induced Frederick William II to raise 
the siege. This was Kosciuszko's last great victory. Every- 
where else the Poles had been \frorsted, not so much by 
overwhelming numbers as by their own insane and incurable 
dissensions. A general, however able, had only to suffer a 
temporary and unavoidable reverse, to be instantly sus- 
pected of treason by the central government, and superseded 
Kosciuszko alone did his duty "heroically to the very end. 
The Quadrennial Diet, With all the resources of the Republic 
at its disposal, could only put 65,000 men into the field, 
whereas he, in a few month's time, had organised and equipped 
149,000. Both as an administrator and as a soldier he 
performed prodigies; and his unconquerable optimism and 
inexhaustible energy put heart into thousands who but for 
him would long since have despaired. It was he who planned 
the invasion of Prussia by Prince Joseph Poniatowski and 
Jan Henrik Dpmbrowski, which resulted in the storming of 
Bydgoszcz and the retreat of General Schwerin. At one time, 
the Prussian government even feared Dantzic was lost. But 
the victorious Russians were now close upon the capital ; and, 
in attempting to save it with his little army, Kosciuszko was 
routed, wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Maciejowice 
(Oct. 10, 1794). Three weeks later, Suvarov, at a fearful cost, 

4o8 Finis Poloniae, i733-i794 [cH. xviii 

stormed the fortified suburb of Praga; and the whole insur- 
rection collapsed in torrents of blood ^ (Nov. 3, 1794). 

Poland lay at the feet of her conquerors; and, now that 
Panin and the Emperor Leopold II were both dead, there 
was no one to plead for or protect her. The jealousy and 
rapacity of the three partitioning Powers (the demands of 
Prussia, in particular, were monstrous) nearly led to a war 
over the distribution of the spoil ; but, chiefly owing to the 
firmness of Catherine, all disputes were finally adjusted. 

On January 3, 1795, Russia and Austria concluded their 
treaty ; and Prussia, after holding out for nine months longer, 
and seriously counting the cost of a war against the two 
Empires combined, acceded, on October 24, to the January 
compact. Prussia got the whole district between the Oder, 
Bug and Niemen*, 54,898 square kilometres with a population 
of 1,000,000; Austria got Cracow, with the palatinates of 
Sandomir and Lubelsk, also with a population of 1,000,000 ; 
and Russia the remainder, 111,780 kilometres with a popula- 
tion of 1,200,000. 

' 20,000 innocent non-combatants were ruthlessly massacred at the 
storming of Praga. 
2 See Map 3. 


CATHERINE II, 1762-1796. 

So enormous were the gains of Catherine II from the 
partition of Poland, that all her other acquisitions fade into 
insignificance by comparison. Yet, as we have seen, a partition 
of Poland did not originally enter into her calculations; it 
was forced upon her from without, and was as much due to 
fortuitous circumstances as anything in politics can well be. 
As a matter of fact, it was Constantinople, not Warsaw, upon 
which the longing gaze of Catherine II was steadily fixed. It 
was as the restorer of the Greek Empire, not as the subjugator 
of so feeble a foe as Poland, that she desired to go down to 
posterity. How was it that a sovereign, commonly supposed 
to be one of the shrewdest statesmen of her age, could be so 
irresistibly attracted by this splendid mirage as frequently to 
subordinate to it her own advantage and the prosperity of her 
subjects? The answer to this question may perhaps be found 
in a brief preliminary scrutiny of the personal character of the 
Empress herself. 

On February 14, 1744, the Princess Sophia Augusta 
Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst, then in her 14th year, arrived at 
Petersburg as the fiancke of the young Grand-Duke Peter, the 
heir to the Russian throne, to whom she was duly wedded on 
August 21, 1745. She had previously (July 8, 1744) been 
received into the Greek Orthodox church under the name of 
Catherine Aleksyeevna. The alert, piquant, but by no means 

4IO Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

artless little creature tells us in her memoirs that she had 
already made it " a rule of conduct " to win every person worth 
winning ; and to this eminently prudent rule she adhered 
religiously throughout life. She possessed a peculiar gift of 
attraction which very few could resist; and her numerous 
admirers, who were generally clever as well as handsome men, 
continued to be her political partisans long after they had 
ceased to be her lovers. Her first adventure in politics, in 
her 29th year, was, however, singularly unfortunate. Calculating 
wrongly as to the powers of recuperation of the sick Elizabeth 
in 1758, she had joined the mysterious Bestuzhev-Williams 
conspiracy', which was apparently intended, on the death of the 
Empress, to place Catherine on the throne instead of her 
consort. But Elizabeth recovered; and, for a moment, the 
aspiring little Crand-Duchess was in extreme peril. Only her 
remarkable cleverness and the indulgence of the kind-hearted 
ICm press saved her from banishment to the obscure German 
home the very memory of which was detestable to her. During 
the brief reign of her husband (January to July 1762) she was 
a nonentity. Peter III had every reason to detest a wife who 
ridiculed as well as deceived him ; and, though generous to her 
in money matters, he kept her at a safe distance. There can 
l)e no doubt that she was accessory to his murder after the 
Revolution of July 17, 1762 had placed her on the throne; 
nor, we must believe, would the custodians of her last remaining 
rival, the semi-imbecile Ivan VI, have dared to strangle him in 
his prison at Schliisselburg (August 5, 1764) unless the Empress 
had been privy to it. 

From the moment when, in the prime of life, she mounted 
the Russian throne, Catherine II resolved to make herself a 
great name in every department of public life. Richly 
endowed by nature, audacious to a crime, and with a native 
sagacity which would have been an unerring guide but for 
frequent deflecting gusts of passion and the obsession of a 
* See Chapter xvii. 

xix] Character of Catherine II 411 

boundless vanity, nothing seemed impossible to her whom 
Joseph II called "the Catherinised Princess of 2^rbst" 

In diplomacy Catherine's inexperience compelled her, 
during the first half of her reign, to be the pupil of Nikita 
Panin who, at first, exercised somewhat of a restraining 
influence. But in every other department of affairs the 
Encyclopaedists were her teachers; and to win their homage 
by realising their precepts was the motive power of all her 
actions. It is evident from her correspondence with Grimm, 
Voltaire, Diderot and D'Alembert that their approval, or rather 
adulation, was what Catherine valued most of all; and the 
philosophes were well content to be the advertisers, and even 
the sycophants, of a monarch so enlightened and also so 
exceedingly bountiful. Catherine consulted her oracles almost 
day by day. All her enterprises and adventures, nay, her very 
thoughts, feelings, ideas, sentiments, friendships and amours, 
were minutely chronicled for their benefit and admiration, with 
an abundance of personal detail, which gives them, now, 
considerable historical value ; and they are written in a style, 
less correct perhaps, but infinitely more piquant and original, 
than the correspondence of her French friends.^ 

All Catherine's grand schemes and magnificent projects, 
when directed towards the amelioration of the Russian people, 
came to naught partly because the Empress grew tired of them 
before they were half finished, and partly because, in the latter 
part of her reign, foreign affairs claimed her exclusive attention. 
But, in point of fact, Catherine lacked the moral earnestness of 
the true reformer, without which the most alert intelligence is 
powerless. We cannot imagine her sacrificing her life for the 
benefit of her people after the heroic example of Peter the 
Great. Unlike him, too, she had very little sense of duty 
apart from the desire for her own gratification. She did a great 
deal, no doubt, but she did it only to be talked about. She 
must also incur the just condemnation which falls on one who 
begins to build before he has counted the cost. All her most 

412 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

ambitious undertakings proved miserable failures. Catherine II 
was a very bold and a very clever woman, but the epithet 
" great " is woefully misplaced when applied to her. A glance 
at her domestic administration will, perhaps, justify a judg- 
ment which certainly runs counter to the common opinion. 

Catherine began with an attempt to recodify the laws of 
Russia by means of a "Grand Commission" of 564 members, 
to be elected from every class all over the country, who were 
to bring with them to Moscow lists of their grievances for 
consideration and redress. She herself had previously drawn 
up an elaborate nakaz^ or "guide," for the instruction and 
direction of this Commission, every sentence of which is 
directly inspired either by Beccaria's Dei delitti e delle pene, 
or by Montesquieu's B Esprit des Lois, The latter book, 
which she called the " Prayerbook of Princes," was an especial 
favourite of the Empress. The more practical of Catherine's 
advisers, specialists like Alexander Bibikov for instance, made 
no secret of their dislike of the whole project, which they 
regarded as premature and unworkable. Their criticisms, 
especially as regards the proposed emancipation of the serfs, 
contained in the manuscript draft of the nakaz^ were so unsparing 
that the Empress abandoned that part of the scheme, and it was 
omitted from the printed nakaz altogether. On the other 
hand she insisted upon the abolition of judicial torture, on 
humanitarian grounds. 

It soon became clear that the nation at large was rather 
puzzled than pleased by the notion of a " Grand Commission " 
which was to collect their grievances and present them before 
the throne as a basis for remedial legislation. Not a tenth 
part of the proposed electorate took part in the elections. 
Most of the electors did not understand the meaning of the 
thing; the gentry and the Cossacks suspected an insidious trick 
for curtailing their privileges. Finally however, though not 
without considerable difficulty, the whole 564 were got together. 
One hundred and fifty of the deputies were landowners ; 50, 

xix] The '^ Grand Commission'' 413 

retired soldiers ; 200, citizens of the towns. Most of the others 
belonged to the official class. Oddly enough, there was but a 
single priest among them all, namely Dimitry, Metropolitan of 
Novgorod, President of the Synod. 

The elections took place from February to April 1767 ; and 
the " Grand Commission " assembled at Moscow on July 30. 
Catherine opened it in person and appointed the Presidents 
and Vice-Presidents. The reading of the imperial nakaz 
occupied the first seven sessions, whereupon the official wire- 
pullers moved that the Empress should be acclaimed "Great 
and most wise Mother of her country." The motion was 
carried unanimously ; and there the achievements of the Grand 
Commission ended. After holding seventy-seven sessions at 
Moscow, it was transferred (Feb. 18, 1768) to St Petersburg, and 
dismissed on December 18, the same year, to enable its military 
members to take part in the first Turkish War. That was the 
last of it. 

But, indeed, the " Grand Commission " was bound to fail. 
Bibikov, its marshal, justly observes that it was too stupid and 
ignorant even to understand what was required of it. So 
desultory and irrelevant were the very occasional debates, that 
it was often very doubtful what was the point actually under 
discussion. Most of the time was taken up in listening to the 
reading of the minutes of the last session, or to extracts from 
Catherine's nakaz. Of any official guidance there is scarce a 
trace. There was no rule of procedure ; there were no general 
directions. No propositions had been prepared beforehand for 
the consideration of the Commission. In fact the government 
seems to have had no general plan at all. The Presidents and 
Vice-Presidents knew not how to direct the Assembly and had 
no control over it. The deputies, so far as they were able to 
formulate an opinion at all, were strongly in favour of the 
existing penal code, on the ground that any mitigation thereof 
would only encourage evil doers and make life and property 
everywhere insecure. All of them, except a few of the nobles, 

414 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

were in favour of terrorism and severity. Yet they were as 
obsequious as they were barbarous, for, the moment that 
Bibikov drew their attention to the fact that the Empress was 
of a contrary opinion, they immediately veered round and fully 
acquiesced in her Majesty's humanitarian principles. Their 
grievances were the ancient ones : official tyranny and corruption, 
judicial chicanery and procrastination, and, above all, the 
grievous burden of excessive taxation. Taxation the Empress 
could not afford to remit ; the other abuses she was well aware 
of already. In fact the " Grand Commission " was a solemn 
farce and benefited nobody but Catherine herself, whose 
western admirers now professed to regard her as a second 

It was the same with all other matters of purely domestic 
interest. To take a single instance, Shcherbatov has severely, 
but not unjustly, commented upon the uselessness to Russia of 
Catherine's paedagogic theories. Here again Voltaire and 
Diderot were her directors. The latter even drew up an 
elaborate plan for her to work upon. She meditated crowning 
her educational system by the erection of universities at St 
Petersburg and Dorpat. The sole result of all these ambitious 
projects were a few seminaries for young ladies of the upper 
classes, which aimed rather at outward show than at serious and 
regular training. 

But the most striking and curious contrast between promise 
and performance is to be seen in the history of the building of 
Ekaterinoslav. This new city, as its name^ implies, was to be 
a perpetual memorial of Catherine's glory. Its construction 
was confided to Potemkin, the most extravagant of her satraps, 
in 1786. It was to be the capital of the southern Ukraine and 
to eclipse St Petersburg itself in magnificence. Its cathedral 
was to be built on the model of St Peter's at Rome, but on a 
grander scale. Its courts of justice were to be imitations of 
ancient Basilicas. It was to have an Academy or Conservatoire 
1 ** The Glory of Catherine. " 

xix] Ekaterinoslav 415 

more splendid than any in Europe. The famous musician 
Sarti was to be its first director with a salary of 3500 rubles. 
There was also to be a fully equipped University at a cost of 
300,000 rubles, while 250,000 more were to be spent on the 
residences of the professors and their families. The city was 
to have an area of 25 square miles, its streets were to be 30 
fathoms wide. It was, moreover, to be a great trade emporium 
as well as a south-slavonic metropolis; and 340,000 rubles were 
actually spent in the erection of its stocking factories alone. 
The foundations of the city cost the Russian Treasury 71,000 
rubles^ The Emperor Joseph II, who was present at the 
ceremony of inauguration in 1787, observed to a friend that the 
Empress had laid the first stone of the new city and he himself 
the second — and last. The sarcasm was prophetic. Shortly 
afterwards the work was stopped. Even in 1795 ^^^ o'^ly 
inhabitants of Ekaterinoslav were a few officials, a few soldiers, 
and a few peasants. All that remained of the original dream 
were the imposing palace and the expensive orangeries of 
Potemkin, on which millions had been wasted. 

These gigantic operations naturally swallowed up enormous 
sums of money. In 1763 the imperial budget was something 
under 17,000,000 rubles; in 1796 it considerably exceeded 
80,000,000. The assistance of foreign capitalists soon became 
indispensable; and though, in 177 1, the Empress was able to 
repay the Dutch bankers the loan by means of which she had 
carried on the first Turkish War, her financial position, even 
then, was anything but satisfactory. How could it well be 
otherwise at a Court which was the most extravagant in Europe? 
But for the territorial acquisitions from Poland, which placed 
fresh millions at Catherine's disposal, she would never have 
been able to meet her liabilities. Even so she was forced (so 
early as 1769) to issue assignats so recklessly that, at last, the 
paper ruble was worth only a 142nd part of its face value. 

^ The ruble was then equivalent to nearly 6j. English. 

4i6 Catherine II, 1 762-1 796 [ch. 

Sievers, her chief financial adviser, used frequently and bitterly 
to complain that the Empress could never be made to realise 
the injury she did to the national economy by her financial 

It was naturally the peasants, paying, as they did in the 
long run, for everything, who suffered most fi-om this state of 

Catherine had no particular liking for the peasants. They 
were, in her eyes, rather subjects for experiment than fellow 
human beings. The Empress Elizabeth, on the occasion of 
her pilgrimage to Kiev in 1744, had exclaimed, with perfect 
sincerity, at the sight of the mob which crowded round her : 
" Do but love me O God ! as I love this gentle and guileless 
people." Catherine, during her triumphal progresses, had the 
people kept at a safe distance. When she alluded to them at 
all it was generally to ridicule them. For all her public 
professions of humanity, she winked at the cruel practice of 
selling the members of peasant families separately — an abuse 
which Peter the Great, who never claimed to be a philanthropist, 
had sternly forbidden. Yet Catherine seems to have meant 
well to her subjects in a general, impersonal sort of way; and 
it is due to her to add, that the favourites and adventurers 
by whom she was always surrounded took good care to hide 
from her the real condition of the Russian people. During 
her frequent journeys through her domains, everything was 
presented to her en fiie, in an artistic, or rather an artificial 
environment. This was especially the case throughout her 
famous excursion to the southern Ukraine in 1787, when whole 
cities sprang up in her path in a single night; and, in the whole 
course of her progress, she saw nothing but smiling rustics 
and happy aborigines in their most picturesque costumes, for 
the simple reason that her courtiers had taken the precaution 
to threaten with the knout and a dungeon all who dared to 
approach the Sovereign with complaints and petitions. Only 
once, indeed, during the reign of Catherine, did the misery 

xix] Pugachevs rebellion 417 

of the nation find a natural outlet, namely in the Pugachev 

Emilian Pugachev, the son of a Don Cossack, born about 
1726, enlisted in the Cossack forces in his 18th year. He 
served through the Seven Years' War with some distinction, 
but subsequently resumed the usual vagabond life of a Cossack. 
Then, tiring of this also, in 1773 he suddenly proclaimed himself 
to be Peter III. The assumption of this title was a mere symbol 
or watchword. The story of PugacheVs strong resemblance to 
the murdered Emperor is a later legend. Pugachev called 
himself Peter III the better to attract to his standard all those — 
and they were many — who attributed their misery to Catherine's 
government Peter III was generally remembered as the 
determined opponent of Catherine; any one therefore who 
professed to be Peter was bound to be in opposition to the 
government of Peter's arch-enemy. As a matter of fact, 
however, Pugachev and his followers were opposed to any 
form of settled government. The one thought of the destitute 
thousands who joined the new Peter was to sweep utterly 
away, in a general anarchy, the intolerably oppressive upper 
classes. In a word, the rebellion of Emilian Pugachev was a 
repetition of the rebellion of Stenka Razing in very similar 

Pugachev's story was that he and his principal adherents, 
having escaped from the clutches of Catherine, were resolved 
to redress the grievances of the people, give absolute liberty to 
the Cossacks, and put Catherine herself away in a monastery. 
He held a sort of mimic court at which one Cossack personated 
Panin, another Zachary Chernuishev, and so on. He also 
frequently alluded to his son Paul, whom he hoped to see again 
shortly at Moscow. The Government at first made light of 
the rising. At the beginning of October 1773, it was simply 
regarded as a nuisance; and 500 rubles were considered a 
sufficient reward for the head of the troublesome Cossack. At 

1 See Chapter xiii. 
B. 27 

41 8 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

the end of November, 28,000 rubles were promised to any one 
who should bring Pugachev in alive or dead ; and the Court 
could talk about nothing else. Even then, however, in her 
correspondence with Voltaire, Catherine affected to treat 
" L'affaire du Marquis de Pugachev " as a mere joke ; but, by 
the beginning of 1774, the joke had developed into a very 
serious danger. All the forts on the Volga and Ural, including 
Samara, were now in the hands of the rebels ; the Bashkirs had 
joined them; and the Governor of Moscow reported great 
restlessness among the population of Central Russia and a 
general sympathy with the rebels. Shortly afterwards, Pugachev 
captured Kazan, reduced most of the churches and monasteries 
there to ashes, and massacred all who refused to join him. It 
had become evident that the rebellion must be put down at 
any cost. General Peter Panin, the conqueror of Bender, was 
forthwith sent against the rebels with a large army; but 
difficulties of transport, want of discipline, and the gross 
insubordination of his ill-paid soldiers, paralysed all Panin's 
efforts for months, while the innumerable and ubiquitous bands 
of Pugachev were victorious in nearly every encounter. Not 
till August 1774 did General Mikhelson succeed in inflicting a 
crushing defeat on the rebels near Tsaritsuin, when 2000 of 
them fell on the field and 8000 were taken prisoners. Panin's 
savage reprisals, after the capture of Penza, completed their 
discomfiture. Pugachev himself was seized and delivered up 
by his own Cossacks, on attempting to fly to the Urals 
(September 14), and was executed at Moscow on January 10, 


Catherine's domestic policy was unsuccessful because it was 
unreal. To see her at her best, we must follow her foreign 
policy. Here, undoubtedly, she shone. The ceaseless permuta- 
tions and combinations of diplomacy strongly appealed to her 
penchant for speculation and adventure ; the element of risk 
was an additional spur to her audacity ; and even her fathomless 
vanity was satisfied by triumphs which, achieved as they were 
on a world-wide field, were consequently world-renowned. 

xix] Policy of the Due de Choiseul 419 

When Catherine first entered the arena of diplomacy, her 
most puissant antagonist was France. From the first,. French 
diplomacy had instinctively recognised the rising Russian Empire 
as an intruder who might one day become a rival. After the 
Seven Years* War, the Court of Versailles could no longer shut 
its eyes to the disagreeable fact that the new northern State 
was the strongest power in Europe. But the ancient French 
monarchy could not endure the thought of surrendering its time- 
honoured political hegemony to this upstart young Empire, 
and henceforth, always and everywhere, steadily opposed it. 
These principles were personified in Frangois Etienne de 
Stainville, Due de Choiseul, the last great statesman of old 
France, who was responsible for the conduct of her foreign affairs 
from 1758 to 1770. Hampered as he was, at every step, by the 
lack of material resources — for the worn-out Bourbon autocracy 
was already sinking into its grave — he still had at his disposal a 
delicate but deadly weapon in the brilliant corps of diplomatists, 
a legacy from Richelieu which, under his masterly direction, did 
something to veil the decrepitude and revive the prestige of 
France. His means were limited, but he made the most of 
them. If he was unable to prevent, he could at least retard 
the triumphs of his northern rival. He could not meet the 
irritating and provocative challenge of "The Northern Accord V 
but he crippled it by preparing the way for the Swedish revolution 
of 1772, which Panin always regarded as the greatest reverse of 
the reign of Catherine II. He could not detach Prussia from 
Russia; he could not obviate the election of Stanislaus 
Poniatowski as king of Poland; but he could and did assist the 
Confederates of Bar, he could and did prevail upon the Sublime 
Porte to embarrass the Russian Empress by declaring war 
against her. 

The diplomatic struggle between France and Russia, in 
Turkey, began in the very year after Catherine's succession, 
namely in 1763. The Marquis de Vergennes, one of the great 
^ See Chapter xvii. 

27 2 

420 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

names of French diplomacy, then represented Louis XV at the 
Porte, while Catherine was represented by Obryezkov, who 
could boast of fifteen years' experience and a unique acquaint- 
ance with the methods and mysteries of the Divan and the 
Seraglio. The high-handed interference of Catherine in Poland, 
after the death of Augustus III, had profoundly disturbed the 
Porte, which had learnt, since the days of Peter the Great, to 
regard, rightly enough, the Polish question as an essential 
part of the Eastern question. The Turkish ministers fancied, 
at the outset, that Catherine had made Stanislaus a king as d first 
step towards making him her husband ; but Obryezkov solemnly 
protested that the mere rumour was "a blasphemy against her 
sacred person." Vergennes, however, had already opened the 
eyes of the Porte to the dangers of "a free election" in Poland 
so long as Russia was the mistress there, and insinuated how 
glorious it would be for the^ Sultan to place his own candidate 
on the Polish throne. In 1765 the well-informed Crimean 
Khan, Krum-Giraj, strongly advised the Porte to declare war 
upon Russia forthwith; whereupon both Austria and Prussia, 
more and more jealous of Russia, offered to assist Turkey in 
such an eventuality. The Prussian envoy Rexin, under secret 
instructions, even tried to alarm the Porte still further by 
mendaciously representing that Russia was about to reform and 
strengthen Poland by abolishing the liberum veto. 

Catherine was quite justified after this in calling Frederick 
**a disloyal scoundrel"; and Solms, the Prussian minister at 
St Petersburg was dumb when Panin informed him of "this low 
trick." Nevertheless, despite disquieting rumours from Poland, 
and a fresh offer of alliance, this time from France and Austria, the 
summer of 1765 passed away tranquilly enough; but in October 
the Hospodarof Wallachia reported the massing of Russian troops 
on the Turkish border, and Soltyk, Potocki and other Polish 
patriots demanded the protection of Turkey against Moscovite 
tyranny. At the same time the Khan reported that 40,000 Russian 
troops were living in Poland and treating the country as if it 

xix] The first Turkish war 421 

belonged to them. But Obryezkov's arguments and ducats pre- 
vailed over the warnings of the Khan and the French ambassador. 
The Porte ultimately decided not to interfere in Poland unless 
Russia attempted to aggrandise herself territorially at the 
Republic's expense. This apathy continued until, in 1768, the 
Confederates of Bar began to be troublesome all along the 
northern border of Turkey ; but even then Obryezkov, by means 
of a bribe of 3000 ducats, persuaded the Reis Effendi to refuse 
them the least assistance. When, however, in the autumn of 
the same year, the Cossacks pursued the Confederates across 
the border and pillaged and burnt the Turkish town of Galta, 
a wave of fanaticism passed over the Ottoman Empire. The 
Grand Vizier and the Reis Effendi were dismissed, and French 
diplomacy was once more triumphant. After a stormy inter- 
view with the new Grand Vizier, Hamza Pasha, Obryezkov, 
who refused to guarantee the withdrawal of the Russian troops 
from Poland, and the abolition of the laws in favour of the 
Polish Dissidents, was thrown into the Seven Towers ' ; and 
20,000 men were despatched to the Danube. 

The Turkish declaration of war came upon Catherine as a 
painful surprise ; but she accepted the challenge with spirit and 
confidence. At the first session (November 4, 1768) of a 
council of ministers and magnates, which, from and after 1769, 
became a permanent institution, it was unanimously resolved 
to anticipate the enemy by offensive operations; and Prince 
Alexander Golitsuin, who had served his military apprentice- 
ship during the Seven Years' War, was appointed Commander- 
in-chief. It was hoped at St Petersburg that the Turks would 
not open the campaign till the spring of 1769 ; but in January, 
the Khan of the Crimea began hostilities by endeavouring to 
bring 70,000 Tatars to the help of the Confederates of Bar. 
But this, the last Tatar raid, was easily repulsed ; and early in 
the year Azov and Taganrog were captured. The sluggishness 
of the Grand Vizier, Mohammed Emine, who remained idle for 
^ The usual mode of declaring war at Stambul in these days. 

422 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [cH. 

weeks in his camp, near Jassy, though he had 150,000 men 
at his disposal, materially assisted the Russians to concentrate 
their forces on the Dniester. In the autumn, however, 
Mohammed was strangled in his camp by the command of the 
Sultan ; and the new Grand Vizier, Ali Bogdancsi, an ex-brigand 
of great courage and ferocity, boldly crossed the Pruth and 
advanced irresistibly to the Dniester. But he was encountered 
and defeated by the new Commander-in-chief, Count Peter 
Rumyantsev (who had superseded the over-cautious Golitsuin 
on August 13), and compelled to fall back on the lower Danube. 
Immediately afterwards Chocim, which Golitsuin had failed to 
take, surrendered voluntarily; and the Russians occupied Jassy, 
Bucharest, the whole of Moldavia and the left bank of the 
Danube as far as Braila, but failed to take Bender, on the 
capture of which Catherine had set her heart "Give me 
Bender this autumn," she wrote to the naturally despondent 
Rumyantsev, "and the business will already have been half 
done." . 

At the second meeting of the Russian council it had been 
decided to support the land operations by a great naval 
expedition to the Mediterranean. The chief promoter of this 
adventurous scheme was Gregory Orlov, the reigning favourite ; 
and Catherine, who was as proud of the Russian fleet as ever 
Peter had been, supported it with enthusiasm. 

The whole story of this risky circumnavigation, except the 
denouement, which was very different, has a curious and striking 
resemblance to the Rozhdestvensky adventure of 1905. The 
Russian fleet, consisting of seven liners, one frigate and some 
smaller vessels, left Cronstadt on July 26, 1769, under the flag 
of Admiral Spiridov. At the beginning of August, when off" the 
Isle of Gottland, the newest ship, the Svyatislav, could go no 
further and put back to Reval. The rest of the fleet was a long 
time reaching Copenhagen and a still longer time in leaving it. 
The Russian envoy, Filosofov, reported that all the officers 
wanted to go back instead of forward ; that the Admiral had lost 

xix] The adventure of the Russian fleet 423 

all control over them ; and that the men were ignorant, inefficient 
and full of terror at the unknown peril before them. When the 
fleet anchored in the Humber, some 20 miles from Hull, 
Chemuishev, the Russian ambassador in England, boarded it 
to try and put some heart into its officers, whom he found 
" very melancholy and unhappy." Out of the complement of 
5000 sailors 1500 were too ill to work. Most of them he 
describes as raw recruits, taken straight from the plough, with 
no idea of seamanship. Only a few skippers and fishers from 
Archangel were equal to their duties. The next stoppage was 
Portsmouth, where some curiosity and much amusement were 
caused by the unwonted spectacle. Many distinguished 
persons, including the Duke of Cumberland, went on board. 
Chemuishev's reports became still more pessimistic. "Since 
1700 we have spent 10,000,000 rubles on the fleet, and what 
have we got for it?*' he wrote. "With grief, shame, and 
confusion I must confess that her Majesty's instructions have 
not been carried out." Catherine, in great annoyance, 
severely scolded Spiridov. " If you eat up all your provisions 
on the way, and half the crews die before they see the enemy, 
the whole expedition will be covered with shame and dishonour. 
For God's sake pull yourself together and don't put me to 
shame before the whole world 1 " 

Catherine's irritation was more than excusable. Success in 
this dangerous war, with which her enemies had saddled her, 
meant very much more to her than it could possibly have meant 
to an hereditary and long-established sovereign. After all, what 
was she but a parvenue^ who had won the reputation of an 
extraordinary woman by ascending the throne in a sensational 
way? Let but one serious reverse ruin her reputation for 
greatness, and the consequences to her, both at home and 
abroad, might be very serious. Fortunately, the fleet, in the 
long run, justified her confidence in it In February 1770 it 
arrived safely at Leghorn. It was to have proceeded to the 
Morea, in the first instance, to support a general rising of the 

424 CcUherine 11^ 1762-1796 [ch. 

Greeks, preparations for which had been made by the Orlovs 
ever since 1763. But the Greeks proved to be a broken reed 
to lean upon ; and both they and their Russian confederates 
were easily worsted on the mainland by the Turks. The fleet 
arrived just in time to find that it was useless there; and 
Admiral Spiridov's relations with the British officers^ who had 
volunteered to help him, now threatened to ruin the fleet 
alt(^ether. Discipline and confidence were only restored when 
Alexis Orlov*, the Empress's plenipotentiary, took over the 
supreme command himself by Catherine's express orders, and, 
eager to avenge the Morean disaster, deliberately went in search 
of the Turkish fleet He discovered it at dawn, on June 24, 
at anchor along the Anatolian shore of the Straits of Chios, 
beneath the guns of the little fortress of Chesme. It consisted 
of sixteen liners, six of them with 80 and the rest with 70 guns, 
six frigates and a number of smaller vessels. Orlov frankly 
confessed to the Empress that his first feeling at the sight of 
such odds was fear ; but he instantly gave the order to attack, 
and, after a furious encounter, lasting four hours, in which the 
Russian flagship Evstafy was blown up, the Turkish fleet was 
scattered. Two days later it was pursued and, with the aid of 
fireships, utterly destroyed. The impression at St Petersburg 
was all the greater because the fleet had only been intended to 
support the Morean rising. Orlov, as a reward for the success 
of his brilliant impromptu, received permission to quarter the 
imperial arms in his shield. Here, however, the triumph of 
the fleet ended. An attack upon the isle of Lemnos was beaten 
off*; and nothing very important was attempted during the 
remainder of the war, though a dozen of the -^gean Islands 
were captured. 

Equally signal were the Russian successes on land during 
the campaign of 1770. Plague delayed the advance of the 

* Elphinstone, Greig, etc. 

* It was he who took the chief part in the murder of Peter the Third. 
He was certainly the ablest member of the Orlov family. 

xix] The campaign of 1770 425 

army till the early summer; but, on July 7, Rumyantsev 
defeated a large Turkish force at the junction of the Pruth and 
Larga; and on the 21st he earned his marshal's b&ton by routing 
150,000 Turks with only 17,000 Russians near Trajanopolis, 
when 140 dannon were taken on the field and 127 more in the 
pursuit. This victory led to the fall of a whole series of 
fortresses, Ismaila being taken by Potemkin, Kilia by Repnin, 
and Akkerman by Igelstrom, while Braila was evacuated by the 
Turks themselves on the approach of the Russians. Bender, 
however, occupied the whole attention of the second army, 
under Golitsuin, from July to the middle of September. 
Golitsuin finally took it by assault (Sept. 16), but he was 
severely blamed for losing one-fifth of his army in the operation. 
During the winter of 1770-71 Catherine was somewhat 
disquieted by the aggressive attitude of the King of Prussia, 
who affected to regard the Russian terms of peace as exorbitant, 
and declared openly that he could not guarantee the neutrality 
of Austria much longer. Desirous as she now was for peace, 
Catherine felt that the best answer to the veiled menaces of 
her neighbour was another successful campaign. But her 
resources were limited; her generals, especially her best general, 
Rumyantsev, were growing despondent ; and the army was in 
a deplorable condition, owing to the breakdown of the 
commissariat. The soldiers, in the depth of winter, were 
without boots and underclothes, and had to be put on half 
rations of bread made of damaged millet and maize. There 
were no horses for the guns and wagons. Rumyantsev 
declared it was impossible to repeat the triumphs of 1770. 
Catherine, however, besides encouraging them by letters full of 
fire and courage, worked night and day to remove all obstacles 
from the paths of her commanders. New recruits were promised ; 
fresh stores were obtained from Poland ; every penny that could 
be obtained was spent upon the army ; and, after superhuman 
efforts, Rumyantsev was able to take the field again in 1771 
with an imposing force. 

426 Catherine Ily 1762--1796 [ch. 

The Russian army was in three divisions. The right wing 
occupied the district between the Sereth and the Aluta. The 
left wing, under Wiessman, guarded the course of the Danube 
from the Pruth to the Black Sea. The centre, under 
Rumyantsev, with its head-quarters at Maksiminaki on Sereth, 
was to lend help to whichever of the wings might need it most. 
But the Turks were too weak to attack in force ; and the whole 
campaign was consequently of a guerilla character in which the 
Russians were invariably victorious. The fortresses of Giurgevo 
and Tulcea were also taken after repeated attempts, but not 
without terrible loss of life. In October the army went into 
winter quarters round Jassy. On June 14, the second army, 
under Prince Vasily Mikhailovich Dolgoruki, stormed the lines 
of Perekop, which were defended by 7000 Turks and 50,000 
Tatars, and compelled the Khan Selim Giraj to sue for a truce. 

In the autumn of 1 77 1, Austrian diplomacy was very busy in 
the east, and Kaunitz' notes to the Court of St Petersburg grew 
more and more dictatorial. " The time has come to end this 
Turkish War," he said. An Austro-Turkish Alliance was even 
concluded by Thugut, the Austrian Minister at Constantinople, 
Turkey engaging, in return for active assistance, to cede Little 
Wallachia to Austria and give the Court of Vienna 34,000,000 
gulden in subsidies, 11,000,000 of which were actually paid. 
It was this " sly trick " of Thugut's, as Panin called it, which 
forced the hand of Catherine and, in conjunction with strong 
and persistent pressure from Frederick, inclined the Empress to 
abate her claims upon Turkey and compensate herself at the 
expense of Poland. On December 5, 177 1, Catherine virtually » 
gave way when she declared by the mouth of Panin, in full 
council, that the Turks were disposed towards peace. Austria, 
thereupon, cynically threw over Turkey, to the just indignation 
of the Sultan, who promised, nevertheless, not to demand back 
the eleven million gulden he had already paid for the Austrian 
alliance, if Moldavia and Wallachia were retroceded. In 
February 1772, Panin reported to the council the pleasing 

xix] The Peace of Kuchuk-Kainardje 427 

intelligence that Austria would co-operate with Russia and 
Prussia in thq peace negotiations, and that the Turkish 
plenipotentiaries were on their way to a peace congress, which 
uftimately met at Fokcsani in Moldavia. The congress lasted 
from July to August and then dissolved because Russia 
claimed more than the Turks could concede. On October 19 
a second congress met at Bucharest. Catherine was now very 
anxious for peace. She feared that a war with Sweden was 
inevitable in consequence of the Revolution of 1772, whereby 
Gustavus III had emancipated himself from the thraldom of a 
party supported and subsidised by Russia. Catherine had 
actually detached nine infantry regiments from Rumyantsev*s 
army on the Danube and sent them to Pskov in view of an 
expected Swedish invasion. But the Turks, secretly encouraged 
by Austria and Prussia, refused to surrender the Crimean towns; 
so the second congress also proved abortive. Peace was, how- 
ever, finally concluded (July 21, 1774) at a third congress held 
at the little Bulgarian town of Kuchuk-Kainardje, twenty miles 
from Silistria. By the peace of Kuchuk-Kainardje, Turkey 
recovered most of her conquered territory, but was obliged to 
recognise the independence of the Tatars of the Crimea and the 
Kuban, and the protectorate of Russia over the Christians of 
Moldavia and Wallachia, and to cede the Crimean towns of 
Kertch and Yenikale to Russia. 

The thirteen years* interval between the first and second 
Russo-TurkishWars was marked by a growing alienation between 
Russia and Prussia and a corresponding approximation between 
Russia and Austria. Catherine never forgave Frederick II 
for his treacherous, underhand proceedings during the first 
twelve years of her reign. His effusive compliments after the 
conclusion of the first partition of Poland and the first Turkish 
War must have seemed to her sarcastic compliments after what 
had gone before. Nevertheless, circumstances compelled her 
to renew her alliance with him in 1777 and assist him vigorously, 
if only diplomatically, in his quarrel with Austria concerning the 

428 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

Bavarian succession, a quarrel ultimately composed, under 
Russian mediation, by the peace congress of Teschen (May 3, 
1779). This, however, was the last of the many services she 
rendered to an ally who had always been more of a hindrance 
than a help to her ; while for his shifty, sentimental successor, 
Frederick William II (i 786-1 797), who with all the will to 
damage her had not the courage, she always entertained a 
wholesome contempt. Panin, meanwhile, had completely 
forfeited her confidence by his mischievous subserviency to 
Prussia in his later years ; and she dismissed the old statesman 
(May 1 881). with the firm resolve, henceforth, to be her own 
Minister of Foreign Affairs. The younger generation of 
politicians, who henceforth surrounded her, were little 
more than the executive instruments of her sovereign will, 
superior Foreign Office clerks in fact. The most remarkable of 
these "pupils" was Alexander Bezborodko, who entered her 
service in 1774, contrived to ingratiate himself with the reigning 
favourite Potemkin, and, though he never held any very high 
official position till after Catherine's death*, was, towards the 
end of her reign, generally recognised as the soul of her cabinet 
and the subtlest diplomatist whom Russia had yet produced. 
He was as superior to Bestuzhev and Panin in resourcefulness 
and versatility as he was inferior to them in honesty, courage 
and personal dignity. He was especially admired by the 
Emperor Joseph II, into whose plans he pretended to enter 
enthusiastically; while the wonderful lucidity and literary 
excellence of his political memorials and despatches greatly 
attracted Catherine, and largely influenced her decisions. 

Apart from mutual attraction, the great bond of union 
between Catherine and Joseph II was the grandiose " Greek 
Project.*' Joseph simply desired to partition the Turkish 
Empire between Catherine and himself by way of eclipsing the 
fame of Frederick II ; Catherine's more romantic imagination 

^ Paul made him Grand-Chancellor and a Prince. Catherine allowed 
him, however, to accumulate millions. 

xix] The ''Greek Project'' 429 

dreamed of re-establishing the Greek Empire under her 
grandson Constantine. The scheme seems first to have been 
mooted at Catherine's meeting with the Emperor at Mogilev 
in 1780. 

In 1782 a formal understanding as to the disposal of the 
Ottoman Empire was arrived at between the two Courts 
without any formal treaty. The anarchical and dilapidated 
condition of Turkey, since the last war, was taken to justify the 
most impudent depredations. Russian warships passed up 
and down the Dardanelles with impunity. New forts were 
built all along the Turkish frontier. Russian agitators, in the 
guise of consuls, perambulated the Turkish provinces, stirring 
up the Christian population to revolt. 

On April 8, 1783 the Crimea was deliberately incorporated 
with the Russian Empire by Potemkin; and the last Khan 
became a subject of the Empress. Austria had long since 
annexed the Bukovina (May 7, 1775). The Porte, anxious 
above all things to avoid another war, meekly protested, and 
that was all. The correspondence of the two sovereigns reveals 
a prodigious appetite for fresh territory. Joseph had no 
objection to the restoration of the Greek Empire under 
Constantine Pavlovich, but he coveted for himself (Nov. 30, 
1782) Chocim, Little Wallachia, Orsova, Belgrade, and every- 
thing contained within a straight line drawn from Belgrade to 
the Gulf of Drina, inclusive. He also proposed to take all the 
insular and continental possessions of Venice "as the only 
way of unifying the Austrian dominions." Venice was to be 
compensated for this rather severe amputation by the Morea, 
Candia and the Aegean islands, in other words with parts of 
Catherine's prospective Greek Empire. To this she very 
naturally objected; and a certain coolness ensued in con- 

The finishing touch was given to " the Greek Project " at 
the magnificent and prolonged picnic of potentates and princes 
whom Catherine in 1787 took with her to the shores of the 

430 Catherine II, 17 62-1 7 96 [ch. 

Euxine to admire her new arsenal at Kherson and marvel at 
the brand-new fleet, which Potemkin, in an incredibly short 
time, had constructed and fully equipped for battle, in the 
harbour of Sebastopol. Unfortunately the immediate effect of 
this pleasant triumphal progress was to rouse the long-suffering 
Turk from his apathy and precipitate a war for which Catherine 
was totally unprepared, though she had done everything to 
provoke it. 

It was the seizure of the Crimea in 1783 which first awoke the 
Turks to a sense of their extreme peril. They at once proceeded 
to reorganise their forces; and, with the assistance of numerous 
English and French officers, the Ottoman army was soon a 
disciplined host instead of a disorderly mob. Moreover, the 
new and energetic Kapudan Pacha succeeded in practically 
rebuilding the fleet. It was now that Great Britain assumed 
the r61e of chief Turcophil which France had sustained for more 
than 300 years. From the outset, the British Government had 
been suspicious of Catherine II. It had looked with indifference 
upon "the Northern Accord" of Panin; the refusal of the 
Russian Empress to assist in the subjugation of " His Majesty's 
misguided subjects in America'' had increased the coolness 
between the two Powers ; and, when Catherine, with the aid of 
Bezborodko, began to apply the principles of the Armed 
Neutrality of the North to British commerce, public opinion 
in Great Britain was profoundly irritated against the Russian 
Empress. Great Britain, moreover, was rightly jealous of 
Russia's increasing influence in the Mediterranean, which 
threatened to injure the English Levant trade ; so that, when 
the second Turkish War broke out, it was obviously the correct 
policy of the cabinet of St James's to assist the Porte as much 
as possible by multiplying Catherine's embarrassments. Prussia, 
especially disturbed by the new Austro-Russian alliance, laboured 
assiduously, and not very scrupulously, with the same object in 

The critical year was 1787. While Catherine perambulated 

xix] The second Turkish war 431 

the Ukraine, scattering rubles and epigrams in every direction, 
Great Britain and Prussia were helping to bring about a 
Swedo-Turkish alliance ; and millions of piastres found their 
way to Stockholm from Stambul, by way of Amsterdam and 
Hamburg, to enable Gustavus III, who had his own very real 
grievances against Russia, to put his fine fleet and by no means 
inconsiderable army in motion. It was hoped that Turkey and 
Sweden would declare war against Russia simultaneously ; but 
Gustavus was prevented by constitutional trammels from 
invading Finland till July 1788, whereas the Turks began 
hostilities by besieging, ineffectually, the fortress of Kinbum in 
October 1787. The real tug of war did not come, however, 
till 1788, when Joseph II, acting as his own generalissimo, 
poured his troops through the Transylvanian and Wallachian 
passes into Turkish territory. The upshot showed that the 
Emperor was no general, and that the Turks had lost nothing 
of their ancient valour. The imperial troops suffered bloody 
defeats in Bosnia and Wallachia, and were driven back headlong 
into Hungary, whose southernmost towns and villages were 
reduced to ashes. Had not Marshal Laudon taken over the 
supreme command at the last moment, the Austrian army would 
have been annihilated. As it was, Joseph, at the combat of 
Karansebes, owed his life solely to the fleetness of his charger. 
The Russians were more fortunate. Rumyantsev and the 
Prince of Coburg took Chocim by assault; the Prince of 
Nassau-Siegen destroyed the Turkish fleet at the mouth of the 
Dnieper ; and Suvarov put 30,000 Turks to the sword at the 
storming of Ochakov. In the North, too, the course of events 
was favourable, a rebellion of the Swedish army placing 
Gustavus III hors de combat for nearly twelve months. 

Still the Turks were not discouraged. At the beginning of 
1789, the incapable Abdul Hamid I was succeeded by Selim 
III, an enlightened and patriotic sovereign, who had been well 
educated by French tutors. He was the only Sultan of the 
eighteenth century who could dispense with Dragomans. His 

432 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. 

first act was to place at the head of the army a new Grand Vizier, 
Hassan Pasha, whose dogged valour heroically sustained the 
terrible disasters of the campaign of 1789. In that year the 
combined allies were everywhere victorious. In April Derfelden 
defeated the Turks on the Pnith and captured Galatz. But the 
left bank of the Danube was the chief theatre of operations. 
On August I, Suvarov and the Prince of Coburg defeated 
Hassan Pasha at Fokcsani, when 10,000 Turks bit the dust, 
and the whole Turkish camp fell into the enemies' hands. 
Nevertheless even this overthrow did not dismay Hassan. In 
less than a month he had assembled around him another army 
of 100,000 men. In September he encountered the allies at 
Martineste on Rimnik, where was fought the bloodiest and best 
contested battle of the whole war. But again Hassan was 
routed, this time with the loss of 22,000 men and 60 guns. 
The result of these victories was the fall of the fortresses of 
Belgrade, Bender and Akkerman. Simultaneously Prince 
Repnin defeated the Turks at Isakhi and began the siege of 

The Turks had now lost their last field army, the remains of 
which were distributed among the garrisons of the strong 
Danubian fortresses, the last defence of the Empire. A speedy 
peace on the best terms obtainable had become a vital 
necessity to the Porte. But Catherine was scarcely less 
anxious to end the war. The political horizon was darkening 
everywhere. Gustavus III had recommenced hostilities in 
Finland in June 1789 ; and things were going badly with the 
Russians. Poland had thrown off the Russian yoke and 
contracted ap alliance with Prussia. It seemed possible that 
Catherine might have to sustain a third war with Frederick 
William II and the Republic combined. Her victorious 
armies had been decimated, and all the energy and ingenuity 
of Bezborodko were taxed to the uttermost to supply the gaps 
in the ranks. A serious blow too was the death of Joseph II on 
February 20, 1790. In these circumstances the Turkish War 

xix] The Peace of J assy 433 

languished. Not till the late autumn could the campaign of 
1790 begin. The only triumph won by Russia, though a very 
considerable one, was the storming of Ismaila by Suvarov, on 
which occasion the carnage was so awful that the Empress 
doubted whether she should reward or rebuke the victor. She 
contrived, however, by the end of the summer, to draw "one 
paw out of the mire." On August 14, 1790, the Peace of 
Varala rid her of Gustavus III, who was actually threatening 
her capital'. 

In 1 79 1 Austria withdrew from the struggle by the peace of 
Sistova, concluded oa a status quo ante bdlum basis (August 4). 
Despite the brilliant victory of Prince Repnin over the Grand- 
Vizier, at Machin, in July, Catherine continued the negotiations 
with the Turks which had already been opened at Jassy ; and 
N^ here (January 9, 1792) the faultless diplomacy of Bezborodko 
ensured a very advantageous peace for Russia. The Porte 
formally surrendered the Crimea and along with it Ochakov 
and the district lying between the rivers Bug and Dniester. 
Thus, for the first time in history, the whole of the northern 
shore of the Euxine became an integral part of the Russian 

The last years of Catherine II were absorbed, as we have 
seen", by the Polish question, whose final solution only took 
place a few months before her death. By that time she had 
quite outlived her pseudo-liberalism and had become the most 
reactionary autocrat in Europe. Yet, in truth, she had never 
been anything else, at heart; and this is no reproach to her, for 
in those days, as she very well knew, an autocracy was the only 
possible government for Russia. Her fear and hatred of the 
French Revolution are therefore perfectly intelligible, though 
she agreed with Bezborodko that Russia's proper political 
attitude towards revolutionary France was strict neutrality. 
But she lavished millions on the legitimist emigres and heartily 

' See ** Scandinavia*' in this series, Chapter xiii. 
* See Chapter xviii. 

B. 28 

434 Catherine II, 1762-1796 [ch. xix 

approved of the anti-Jacobin Crusade of Gustavus III, with 
whom she came to be on very amicable terms. Indeed it was 
the wish of her heart, in her extreme old age, to marry her 
granddaughter Alejcandra to the young King Gustavus IV. 
The frustration of this design, in somewhat humiliating cir- 
cumstances, undoubtedly accelerated her death. 

Catherine II expired, very suddenly, on November 17, 1796. 
Enough has already been said to give some idea of her character. 
If she does not rightly deserve the epithet " Great " (she was too 
flighty to be an administrator, too fanciful to be a statesman 
of the highest rank), none can deny to her the title of 
" extraordinary." Everything she did, from first to last, was 
out of the common. Whether she did more harm than good 
to Russia, on the whole, is still a matter for debate among the 
Russians themselves. Of her many fascinating and commanding 
qualities, her wit, humour, serenity and savoir-faire^ her courage, 
insight, resoluteness, high public spirit, and intimate knowledge 
of human nature, there never can be any doubt at all. 


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117, disgrace 11 8- 119 
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300, 310 
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and death, 309-319 
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Anastasia, ist Consort of Ivan IV, 

108, 118, 119 
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Suzdal, 6 
Andrew II, King of Hungary, 7 
Andrew, Prince of Uglich, 47 
Andrusovo, Peace of, 1667, 228, 262 
Anne, Consort of Ferdinand 11, 58 

Anne, Consort of Sigismund III, 

137. 138 
Anne, Consort of Stephen Bathory, 

93, 96, 102 
Anne Ivanovna, Empress of Russia, 

340; accession and character, 341- 

342 ; 349» 350 

Anne Leopoldovna, 350, 354 
Anne Petrovna, Duchess of Hol- 

stein, 331, 333.336,354 
Anthony Ulric, of Brunswick-Be- 

vem. Prince, 350 
Antonio, Cardinal, 48 
Apraksin, Stephen, 373 
Askold, 2 
Augustus II, King of Poland, 290, 

39 1» 396, 338, 343 
Augustus III, King of Poland, 344, 

3«o. 383, 385 
Avvakum, Protopop, career and 
character, 265-274 

Bajazet II, Sultan of Turkey, 29, 

41, 43 

Baikov, Theodore, 238 

Bar, Confederation of, 1768, 389 

Baranowski, Bishop of Plock, 142 

Barbara Radziwill, Consort of Sigis- 
mund II, 72-74, 76 

Barbara Zapolya, Consort of Sigis- 
mund I, 58 

Baryatinski, Daniel, 237 

Baryatinski, Yury, 235 

Basil Lupul, Hospodar of Moldavia, 

Bathory, Andrew, Cardinal, 100, 




Batu, Khan of the Tatars, 7 
Bazynski, Jan, 19 
Beer, Caspar, 54 
B6kes, Caspar, 125, 127 
Bendzyn, Treaty of, 1589, 137 
Berard, Bishop of Camerino, 79 
Beresteczko, Battle of, 1 651, 217 
Bessarion, Cardinal, 47 
Bestuzhev, Alexis, Count, early 

career and character, 356-58 ; 

foreign policy, 359-60; opposed 

to Frederick the Great, 361-365 ; 

friendly to England, 365-9 ; 

blunders, 370-71; fall, 373-4 
Bestuzhev, Michael, Count, 356, 

Bestuzheva, Anne, Countess, 360 
Bezborodko, Alexander, Prince, 386, 

428, 430, 432, 433 
Bezobrazov, Yakov, 233 
Bialocerkiewsk, compact of, 1651, 

Biren, Ernst Johann, Duke of 

Courland, 342, tyranny, 349 ; fall, 

Boleslaus I, King of Poland, 3, 4 
Boleslaus II, King of Poland, 4 
Boleslaus III, King of Poland, 4 
Bolkhov, Battle of, 1606, 178 
Bolotnikov, 177 
Bona Sforza, Consort of Sigismund 

I, 61, 63, 64, 70-71, 73, 75 
Boris, Godunov, Tsar of Moscovy, 

157, administrator, 158; foreign 

policy, 159-60; reforms, 161-63; 

complicity in Uglich murder, 

163-64; Tsar, x65; character, 

166; 167, 170, death, 172 
Boris, Prince of Volok, 47 
Bostowski, Piotr, 32 
Botta, Marquis, 360, 361, 363 
Branicki, Xavier, 398, 402 
Briihl, Heinrich, 3880 
Bruno, Saint, 3 
Brzesc, S)rnod of, 1596, 204 
Brzostowski, Bishop of Wilna, 

Bucharest, Peace of, 1772, 427 
Buchholtz, Colonel, 321 
Budziak, Peace of 1672, 245 

Bulavin, Cossack Hetman, 301 
Buturlin, Alexander, 377, 378 
Buturlin, Theodore, 222 
Byczyna, Battle of, 1588, 102 
Bydgoszcz, Compact of, 226 
Byelsky, Ivan, 106, 107 

Campredon, French diplomatist, 


Cariglio, Alfonso, 140 

Casimir III, King of Poland, 8, 9 

Casimir IV, King of Poland, 15, 
16, 17, struggle with the Teu- 
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29730; 3i» 32» character, 32-33; 
alliance with Novgorod, 37; 38, 

Catherine, Consort of John III of 
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Catherine, Consort of Sigismund II, 
80, 82, 88 

Catherine de' Medici, Queen of 
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Catherine, of Brandenburg, Princess, 

'?^ . 
Catherine I, Empress of Russia, 

307, coronation, 325 ; accession, 

328-29; early history, 329-30; 

foreign policy, 333; 334,, death, 

Catherine II, Empress of Russia, 
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393-4; 396, 397» 398, 399. 402, 
404; early years and character, 
409-11 ; Grand Commission, 
412-14; Ekaterinoslav, 414-15; 
416, Pugachev's rebellion, 417- 
18; 419,420, First Turkish War, 
421-27; the Greek project, 428- 
30; Second Turkish War, 431- 

Cecilia, Consort of Wladislaus IV, 

Cecora, ist battle of, 1505, 140 
Cecora, 2nd battle of, 1018, 154 
Cerekwica, Articles of, 1454, 2f 
Chancellor, Richard, 128 




Charles, Duke of Lorraine, 24 1 
Charles V, Emperor of Germany, 59 
Charles VI, Emperor of Germany, 

3'^. 313. 314. 320. 334» 351 
Charles IX, King of France, 94 
Charles II, King of Spain, 291 
Charles IX, King of Sweden, 148, 

140, 180 
Charles X, King of Sweden, war 

with Poland, iii-ii\ ; 225, 226 
Chdrles XII, King of Sweden, 301 
Charles Frederick, Duke of Hol- 

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Charles Philip, brother of Gustavus 

Adolphus, 184, 189 
Cherkasky, Alexander, Prince, 321 
Chernuishev, Zachary, Count, 385, 


Chesme, Battle of, 1770, 424 

Chesterfield, Earl of, 365 

Chmielnicki, Bc^dan, Cossack Het- 
man, early career and character, 
208-210; wars with the Poles, 
21 1-220 ; submits to Russia, 220- 
221 ; 222, 223, 224; death, 226 

Chmielnicki, Tymoszko, 217 

Chocim, Siege of, 1619, 155 

Chocim, Siege of, 1673, ^47 

Chodkiewicz, Jan Karol, Grand 
Hetman, 145, 147, victory of 
Kir1(holm, 148-149; last cam- 
paign and death, 154-155 ; at 
Moscow, 185; 186, 190, 196 

Choiseul, Due de, 389, 395, 419 

Christian IV, King of Denmark, 

Chnstopher, Bathory, Prince of 
Transylvania, 125 

Chrzanowski, Samuel, 248 

Clement VII, Pope, 61 

Clement VIII, Pope, 137, 140, 160 

Clement XIII, Pope, 387 

Cobenzl, Austrian diplomatist, 

Coburg, Prince of, 432 

Commendone, Giovanni Francesco, 

Conrad, Prince of Masovia, 7 

Constantia, Consort of Sigismund 
HI, 141 

Constantine Pavlovich, Grand 
Duke, 429 

Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Em- 
peror of the East, 2 

Constantinople, Treaty of, 1700, 

Constantinople, Treaty of, 1724, 

Constantinople, Treaty of, 1 739, 349 
Conti, Antonio de, 57 
Cumberland, Duke of, 423 
Czamiecki, Stephen, Vice- Hetman, 

224, 226, 227, 229, 242 
Czartoryscy, Family of, 387, 390, 

Czartoryska, Sophia, Princess, 382 
Czartoryski, Adam Casimir, Prince, 

Czartoryski, Augustus, Prince, 382 
Czartoryski, Floryan, Prince Pri- 
mate, 247 
Czartoryski, Michael, Prince, 382 
Czasniki, Battle of, 1567, 17 
Czerwonka, Ulrik, 22, 23 

D'Alembert, 411 

D'AlIion, French diplomatist, 360, 

Daniel, of Kostroma, 265 
Daniel Romanovich, Prince of 

Halich, 7 
Daszkiewicz, Ostafi, 63 
Daun, Field-Marshal, 375 
Decyusz, Justus, 54 
De la Gardie, Pontus, 179 
Demetrius, Grand Duke of Moscow, 

Demetrius, Tsarevich, son of Ivan 

III, 49 

Demetrius, Tsarevich, son of Ivan 

IV, 158, murder of, 163-164 
Denisov, Russian general, 406 
Derfelden, Russian general, 432 
Des Lumbres, French diplomatist, 

Desnev, Simeon, 238 
Deulino, Peace of, 16 18, 190 
Devlet Girai, Crimean Khan, 124 
Diderot, 41 1, 41 4 
Dionysius, Archimandrite, 183 



Dir, 1 

Dmitry, Archbishop of Novgorod, 

Dobruinchu, Battle of, 1604, '7^ 
Dolgorukaya, Catherine, Princess, 

Dolgoruki, Family of, 336, 337, 338, 

341. 349 
Dolgoruki, James, Prince, 286, 305 
Dolgoruki, Vasily, Prince, 426 
Dolgoruki, Yury, Prince, 236 
Dombrowski, Jan Hendrik^ 407 
Doroshenko, Cossack Hetman, 228, 

240, 245 
Dosithy, Bishop of Rostov, 315, 

Dresden, Peace of, 1745, 364 
Du Barry, Countess, 396 
Dumouriez, General, 394 
Durini, Papal Legate, 387 
Durovisha, Peace Congress of, 1664, 

Dziergowski, Primate of Poland, 73, 


Ediger, Khan of Tobolsk, 130 
Elena, Consort of Ivan III, 46, 49 
Eleonora, Consort of Michael, King 

of Poland, 242 
Elizabeth, Consort of Casimir IV, 

17, 18 
Elizabeth, Consort of Sigismund II, 

61, 67 
Elizabeth Petrovna, Empress of 

Russia, 320, 334, early career 

and character, 353-354 ; accession, 

355-356 ; early policy, 357-363 ? 

364-365» 368, 369, antagonism 

to Frederick II, 371-379; 410, 

Elizabeth, Queen of England, 

dealings with Ivan IV, 129; 

and with Boris Godunov, 160 
Erlichshausen, Ludwig von, 18 
Ernest, Archduke of Austria, 95 
Ermak. See Yermak 
Esterhdzy, Nicholas, Prince, 373, 

Eudoxia, Consort of Michael Roma- 
nov, 192 

Eudoxia, Consort of Peter the Great, 
308, 309-10, 315, 316, 382 

Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, 

Ferdinand I, Emperor of Germany, 

60, 61 
Fermor, Russian general, 374 
Filosofov, Russian diplomatist, 422 
Finch, British diplomatist, 352, 358 
Finckenstein, Prussian diplomatist, 

375, 377 
Firley, Jan, 91 

Fletdier, British diplomatist, 160 
Fleury, Cardinal, 351 
Fogelweder, Dr, 90 
Fokcsani, Battle of, 1789, 432 
Fokcsani, Congress of, 1772, 427 
Frederick, Duke of Holstein, 331, 

33^, 333 

Frederick IV, Emperor of Germany, 

Frederick II, King of Prussia, 351, 
352, 359, hostility to Bestuz- 
hev, 361-62; 363, 364, incurs 
enmity of Elizabeth, 365 ; 367, 
368, 370, Seven Years* War, 372- 
379» 384 ; dislike of " Northern 
Accord,'* 385-6; brings about 
partition of Poland, 391-3, 397, 
404, 425, 426, 427, 428 

Frederick Augustus I, Elector of 
Saxony. See Augustus II, King 
of Poland 

Frederick William, Elector of 
Brandenburg, 224 

Frederick William II, King of 
Prussia, 399, 400, 403, 407, 432 

Fiirstenberg, Wilhelm von, 84 

Gabriel, Bethlen, Prince of Transyl- 
vania, 145, 153 
Gagarin, Prince, 305-6, 321 
Gandelius, Austrian diplomatist, 190 
Gasztold, Chancellor of Lithuania, 


Ged)nnin, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 

George I, King of England, 313, 

3^0, 332 



George, Podiebrad, King of Bo- 
hemia, 26 

George II, Rakoczy, Prince of 
Transylvania, 224, 226 

Gizanka, Barbara, 87, 90 

Glinska, Anna, Princess, 107, 108 

Glinsky, Ivan, Prince, 55 

Glinsky, Michael, Prince, 52, rebels 
against Poland, 54-55 ; treatment 
of by Vasily III, 56; death, 105 

Goldbach, Russian diplomatist, 362 

Golitsuin, Alexander, Prince, 421, 
422, 425 

Golitsuin, Boris, Prince, 283, 284, 292 

Golitsuin, Demetrius, Prince, 331- 

33« ; 339-341 ; 349 

Golitsuin, Vasily, Prince, the Elder, 

Golitsuin, Vasily, Prince, the Great, 
league with Poland, 251 ; Crimean 
campaigns, 252-253; reforms, 
279-280 ; administration, 282- 
283 ; 284, 292 

Golovin, Theodore, 295 

Golovkin, Grand Chancellor, 331 

Gonsiewsky, Vice-Hetman, 225 

Gordon, Patrick, 252 

Gordon, Theodore, 320 

Gracian, Hospodar of Moldavia, 

i53» 154 
Gregory XIII, Pope, 127 
Grimm, Melchior, Baron, 411 
Grodno, Edict of, 1520, 69 
Gross, Russian diplomatist, 368 
Grossjagersdorf, Battle of, 1757, 373 
Grosswardein, Peace of, 1538, 60 
Griinewald, Battle of. See Tannen- 

Gustavus II, King of Sweden, 155, 

Gustavus III, King of Sweden, 397, 

427* 431' 432, 433» 434 
Gustavus, Prince, son of Eric XIV, 

Hadziacz, Compact of, 1658, 227 

Hamza, Pasha, 421 

Hanbury Williams, Sir, 369, 371, 

372» 384 
Hasenkrug, Timothy, 276 

Hassan, Pasha, 432 

Hastings, Mary, 129 

Helena, Consort of Vasily III, 55, 

Henry III, King of France, 91, 

elected King of Poland, 93 ; flight 

from Poland, 94 
Henry, Prince of Prussia, 374, 393 
Heraclides, Hospodar of Moldavia, 

Herbertstein, Sigismund, 56, 57 
Hermogen, Patriarch of Moscow, 

Hertzberg, Prussian diplomatist, 399 
Homerstein, Battle of, 1627, 155 
Horn, Arvid Bernard, Count, 351 
Horodlo, Union of, 141 3, 13 
Horsey, Sir Richard, 160 
Hussein, Pasha, 247 
Hyndford, Lord, 364, 365 

Igelstrom, Russian general, 425 

Ignatev, Yakov, 311, 318 

Ignaty, Bishop of Tambov, 300 

Ignaty, Patriarch of Moscow, 173 

Igor, Grand Duke of Kiev, 4 

Il3rusa, Peace of, 1582, 128 

Innocent XI, Pope, 249 

Irene, Consort of Theodore I, 157, 
158, 164 

Isabella, Consort of John Zapolya,6i 

Isbrandt, Eliazar, 321 

Iskra, of Brandeis, 22 

Ismailov, Lev, 321 

Ivan, I, Grand Duke of Moscow, 

Ivan III, Grand Duke of Moscow, 
28, subjugates Great Novgorod, 
35-39 ; dealings with the Tatars, 
40; 45, establishes autocracy in 
Moscovy, 46-40; 50, 51 

Ivan IV, Tsar of Moscovy, 84, 85, 
90, 91, early years and character, 
108-112 ; Kazan, 112-115; re- 
forms, 1 1 6-1 17; cruelty, 119; 
the " Oprichina,** 120-121 ; de- 
struction of Novgorod, 12 1-123 ; 
Polish and Swedish wars, 123- 
128 ; dealings with Queen Eliza- 
beth, 129; death, 130 



Ivan V, Emperor of Russia, 281, 

293» 340 
Ivan VI, Emperor of Russia, 350, 

355» 360, 410 
Ivan, son of Ivan III, 49 
Ivan, son of Ivan IV, 131 
Izmaolov, Artemy, 194 
Izyaslav, Grand Duke of Kiev, 5 

Jablonowski, Stanislaus, 231 
Jadwiga, Queen of Poland, 1 1 
Jagiello. See Wladislaus II 
Jassy, Peace of, 1792, 402, 433 
Jeremiah, Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, 162, 203 
Joachim, Patriarch of Moscow, 283, 

284, 300 
Job, Patriarch of Moscow, 162, 164, 

John Albert, King of Poland, 27, 
30, 4i» 42» 43» 44, 45 

John Casimir, King of Poland, 
early career and character, 214; 
dealings with the Cossacks, 215- 
221; flight to Gl(^u, 223; 225, 
226, 229, abdication, 231 

John III, King of Poland. See 
Sobieski, Jan 

John III, King of Sweden, 85, 95, 


John Sigismund, Prince of Transyl- 
vania, 61, 82 

John Zapolya, King of Hungary, 
60, 61 

Joseph II, Emperor of Germany, 
392, 393, 398, 399,415.4^8,429, 
431, 43« 

Judycki, Polish general, 403 

Kara Mustafa, 250 
Kardis, Peace of, 166 1, 262 
Kamhowski, Primate of Poland, 137 
Kaunitz, Wenzel Anton von, Prince, 

370, 393, 426 
Kay, Battle of, 1759, 374 
Kayserling, Russian diplomatist, 

Kazanowski, Vice-Hetman, 197 
Keith, James Francis, 347, 358 
Kettler, Gotthard von, 84, 85 

Khabarov, Erothei, 238 
Khovansky, Ivan, Prince, 281, 282 
Kirkholm, Battle of, 1605, 148-149 
Kiszka, Stanislaus, 52 
Kleck, Battle of, 1506, 52 
Klushino, Battle of, 1610, 180-181 
Kmita, Grand marshal of Poland, 

73, 74 
Kniphausen, Prussian diplomatist, 

Kochovski, Russian general, 403 
Kolesnikov, Cossack Hetman, 237 
KoUo, Francesco da, 57 
Koltovskaya, Anna, 131 
Komulei, Slavonian Bishop, 160 
Konarsky, Stanislaus, 382 
Koniecpolski, Stanislaus, Grand 

Hetman, 147, victories of, 155- 

156; r98, dealings with the 

Cossacks, 206 ; 207 
Konotop, Battle of, 1659, ^^7 
Kopiewski, Ilya, 229 
Koprili, Achmed, 229, 244, 245 
Koprili, Mustafa, 253 
Kordecki, Augustus, 225 
Korsakov, Russian general, 307 
Kosciuszko, Thaddeus, campaign 

of 1 791, 403; rising of, 1794, 

405-406, defence of Warsaw, 

Krasinski, Bishop of Kamieniec, 

Krum-Giraj, Crimean Khan, 420 
Kruszewicz, Compact of, 1230, 7 
Kruto Balka, Battle of, 1648, 211 
Krzycki, Andrzej, 66, 70, 71 
Kuchuk Kainardje, Peace of, 1772, 

Kuli Khan, 345 
Kulikovo, Battle of, 1380, 10 
Kuncewicz, Josafat, 204 
Kunersdorf, Battle of, 1759, 375 
Kurbatov, Alexis, 294, 299 
Kurbsky, Andrei, Prince, 119, 120 

La Chetardie, French diplomatist, 
35o» 353, 354, 355, 35^, 357, 
358, 363 

I^cy, Peter, 344, 346, 347, 352, 

-tw Index 

..ic^x "lua. :4^ Makarios, Patriarch of Antioch, 268, 

►J*:, -.f-Ai.^cf.. y\. S3 271 

.j«... !:Tr»ft«i3t&. "lo, bi Malachowski, Stanislaus, 308 

.j-fc- i::. V-jtii:r .* I Poland, 60, Mametkul, Khan of Siberia, 130 

-k Mardefeldt, Prussian diplomatist, 

-.5^ i-. .!« ^^::«(r. 01 361, 362, 365 

iL-v- •J*j\.v -t I'^^xii. 75 Maria, Archduchess of Austria, 138 

.«ii .1. u.<«oa.« «j:. Maria, Consort of Ivan III, 49 

. ».i x^v is^ ^^•. lAj, jgo. 395 Maria, Consort of Tsar Alexis, 2^0 

■-»«■:. J-: Maria Theresia, Empress, 320, 

. ...i-ic . -LKtvi ot Cicniuity, 351, 352, 359, 361, 363, 376, 

-.? 377, 378, share in partition of 

.n.i.iv. -• »<.,xn*4 v»i ^.ivrinauy, l*oland, 392 

WH Marina, Consort of Pseudo-Deme- 

...«^t... {<v s i. :N;i.go trius I, 174, 178 

■ >^i.. x.«w.-.\v«. .^4 I Martelli, Papal Nuncio, 249 
-^■w* w t*-^iv:. vjk4, ^ivv« 303. Martha, Consort of Ivan IV, 158, 

164. '73 

-•^ ■/I...J*. w. v>ailuchK\ Mar- Martha Komanovna, 187, 188 

..»..^ v.-. . ^, ;;• Martha, Tsarevna, 294 

v:iM^... *4A:v'«, ^> Martincsti, Hattle of, 1789, 432 

..-v.. . v...»w -v» *.«^i Murtuinov, Hattle of, 1623, 156 

.NWi— 4w, ^v.x'%i\\s r*'* Mary. Consort of Louis II of 

M., >!.<. •• v^jci llunj;ary, 58 

>«».■, Sfc* V- '.. ^x.x. i>^ Mary Casimcria, Consort of John 

y...,> » V.^x«. x^.x III of Poland, 242-243, 249 

..-^.vv s*.. * x, x;»»i>* Mrtrv laulowika. Consort of Wladis- 

.Lw.v*».x»., \u.x.;,»» oS* I'^u* IV of Poland, 199, 206-207, 

.0»w«<J« V«>-v,.^.t .itjMsiMiixU i)| 3jg. 331, 232 

w V \ ^ V-ji '- >M!uv. *i7. M.uvMonka. Aiv Mary Casimeria 

IN" * ,v« Wf >*^' ^v'**i»hi\ M.uihc\v, lUusixHlar of Wallachia, 

• V^S«.Kv. xC \^v* *.*»■ »nN* **7 

V v\« y:^ .', >m:kxs ins .i;0 M.iuhias 1 llunyady. King of Hun- 

. , ^».x \ • V -^ ^ > ^ » '» V- »A^ K**0' » *<*» » 7» >9. i>o 

..^..x . V -e* * 'Li,.i^,i!\. xS, ^s» MalYushkiu, Russiian general, 322 

^«Vv^x>. *• .i...* •- 'V'"i'>»«. Mv» MAxiiuiUan, Archduke of Austria, 

.•*Vi^ . ■ v'V. ^' »^^^ 

■ -•Xhw-vv • ■ ' - ^'' \* » * '» • 5 >» V* * I S. M A \ iiuiUan I . K \\\ peror of Germany, 

. ,x jC' ?♦' ^^* ^^* ^*^^» ^?» 9^' '37 

^ * M.i-..um. v.^aulinal, 307, 224 

Vl.iscj\u Ivan, Cv-vssack Metman, 

VlciuU*^^, vauusl Ouke v^f Lithuania, 

MsNij^lv. v^iiwii. Crimean Khan, 40, 

VI *' ! • x> '. xv'\ , Alexander, Prince, 
.M^ft. :x*4 : iHVuUtions. 306-7; 
i'..\ irS, ,;.w. ,ijiO. 331. 333, 334, 

-viK»«4 ■ *" 

.*.., I 




^^^ v.. 

, ,\.i» 

,. 1 


^ >. 

S^^A v>>t*^^^ 

»-*v ■ 



1 » 

r t^* 



Menshikova, Maria, 336 
Merrick, John, 189 
Mezo-K6reszt^s, Battle of, 1595, 140 
Michael, Hospodarof Moldavia, 141 
Michael Romanov, Tsar of Mos- 
covy, election, 186-188; 189, 
190, 191, 194, 198 
Michael Wisniowiecki, Kling of 
Poland, election, 241-242; 243, 
244, 245, 246, 247 
Mieszko I, King of Poland, 3 
Mikhelson, General, 418 
Miloslavskaya, Anna, 260 
Miloslavsky, Ivan, 235, 236 
Minin, Kuzma, 183, 184, 185, 189 
Minin, Nikita. See Nikon, Patri- 
Mitchell, Robert, 372 
Mniszek, Yury, 169, 170, 174, 175 
Mniszka, Marina, 169, 170 
Mohdcs, Battle of, 1526, 60 
Mohila, Peter, Metropolitan of 

Kiev, 205 
Molchanov, Michael, 176 
Mons, Anna, 287 
Montluc, French diplomatist, 91, 

92» 93 
Morozov, Boris Ivanovich, 259, 260 
Morozov, Vasily, 186 
Morsztyn, Andrew, 229 
Moscow, Peace of, 1680, 251 
Mstislavsky, Prince, 182 
Muhammad, Emin, 421 
Muhammad II, Sultan of Turkey, 

Muhammad III, Sultan of Turkey, 

Muhammad IV, Sultan of Turkey, 

MUnnich, Burkhardt Christoph, 
Field marshal, 342, 344, 345, 
Turkish campaigns, 346-348 ; 

350» 355 
Musin-Pushkin, Ivan, Count, 300, 

Myszkowski, Chancellor of Poland, 

85, 150 

Nagaya, Martha, 131 
Nagoi, Family of, 163, 164 

Nalewejka, Cossack Hetman, 152 
Naruishkin, Aleksis, 304 
Naruszewicz, Polish statesman, 86 
Natalia, Consort of Tsar Alexis, 

275. 276. 277, 281, 286 
Natalia Aleksyevna, 335, 338 
Nemirov, Congress of, 1737, 348 
Nepluyev, Ivan, 323, 345 
Nepyea, Osip, 129 
Nerchinsk, Treaty of, 1689, 295 
Neronov, Ivan, 265 
Nestorov, Alexis, 305 
Neustadt, Conference of, 1770, 393 
Nieszawa, Articles of, 1454, 21 
Nikon, Patriarch of Moscow, career 

and character, 263-272 
Nolcken, Swedish diplomatist, 354 
Noskowski, Bishop of'Plock, 80 
Nosov, Russian diplomatist, 304 
Novgorod-Syeversk, Battle of, 1604, 


Obertyn, Battle of, 1530, 62, 
Obolensky, Ivan, Prince, 47 
Obryezkov, Russian diplomatist, 

420, 421 
Ochmatov, Battle of, 1655, 222 
Odrowancz, Peter, 31 
Oginski, Polish diplomatist, 400 
Oleg, Duke of Kiev, i, 2 
Olga, Duchess of Kiev, 2, 3 
Olgierd, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 

Oliva, Peace of, 1661, 227 
Olmiitz, Congress of, 1479, 27 
Olszawa, Compact of, 1616, 152 
Oransk, Battle of, 1608, 145 
Orduin-Nashchokin, Athanasy, ca- 
reer and character, 260-263 
Orlov, Alexis, Count, 424 
Orlov, Gregory, Count, 384, 394, 

Orsza, Battle of, 15 14, 56 
Orsza, Battle of, 152 1, 68 
Oschin-Telepov- Obolensky, Ivan, 

105, 106 
Osman, Sultan of Turkey, 154, 155 
Ossolinsky Jerzy, 200, 204, 206, 
208, career and character, 212- 
213; 214, 215, 216, death, 217 



Ostrogsky, Constantine, Prince, 56, 

63, 68, 138, 203, 204 
Osterman, Andrei, Count, 331, 

early years, 333; 335, 337, 338, 

34«.345. 350, 35 1 » 354» 355 
Oxenstjema, Axel, Count, 199 

Pac, Christopher, 230, 244 
Pac, Michael, 230 
Paggieri, Papal Nuncio, 74 
Paisios, Patnarch of Alexandria, 271 
Palitsuin, Avram, 186 
Panin, Nikita, Count, early career 
and character, 385 ; political sys- 
tem, 386-7 ; 388, a friend of 
Poland, 391; 393, 394, 396, 
419, 420, 426, 430 
Panin, Peter, Count, 418 
Paniowce, Battle of, 1633, 198 
Parkany, Battle of, 1683, 251 
Patkul, Reinhold, 296 
Paul, Bishop of Kolumna, 27 
Paul, Emperor of Russia, 386 
Paul II, Pope, 26, 47 
Paul V, Pope, 149, 174, 175 
Peter, Bishop of Przemysl, 75 
Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia, 
^75» »77> ^80, 281, struggle with 
Sophia, 282-4 ; early years, 284- 
280; Azov, 287-89; the Grand 
Embassy, 290-291 ; the Stryeltsui, 
291-93 ; earlier reforms, 296-308; 
Peter and Alexis, 309-319; 
Emperor, 319; Central Asia, 
321 ; Persian war, 322-323 ; 
later reforms, 323-325 ; last ill- 
ness and death, 326-27 
Peter II, Emperor of Russia, 324, 
328, 329, 333, 334, accession and 
character, 335; 336, 337, death, 

Peter III, Emperor of Russia, 371, 

379» 386, 4io» 417 
Peter, Lepusnano, Hospodar of 

Wallachia, 82, 83 
Peter Petrovich, Grand Duke, 315 
Pezold, Saxon diplomatist, 357 
Philaret, Patriarch of Moscow, 167, 
168, 173, 181, 182, administra- 
tion, 191-192 ; reforms, 193 

Philip, Saint, Metropolitan of Mos- 
cow, 121 

Philip William, Duke of Neuburg, 

Pilyawa, Battle of, 1648, 213 

Pisemsky, Theodore, 129 

Pitt, William, Earl of Chatham, 


Pitt, William, the younger, 399, 

Pius IV, Pope, 128 

Pleshcheev, Michael, 41 

Plettenberg, Walther von, 50 

Plowce, Battle of, 1332, 8 

Podoski, Gabriel, 387 

Poleuktes, Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, 2 

Polyankova, Peace of, 1634, 198 

Poniatowska, Constantia, Countess, 

Poniatowski, Joseph, Prince, 403 • 
Poniatowski, Stanislaus, the elder, 

343» 382 
Poniatowski, Stanislaus, the young- 
er. See Stanislaus II, King of 
Poppel, Niklas von, 50 
Posen, Congress of, 15 10, 58 
Possevino, Antonio, Cardinal, 127, 

Potemkin, Prince, 425, 429 
Potocki, Felix, 398, 402 
Potocki, Ignatius, 398, 401, 403 
Potocki, Nicholas, 210, 211, 217 
Potocki, Stanislaus, 227 
Potocki, Stephen, 211 
Potocki, Theodore, 343 
Poyarkov, Vasily, 238 
Pozharsky, Demetrius, Prince, 

184, 185, 190, 279 
Pozwoli, Compact of, 1557, 84 
Prazmowski, Primate of Poland, 

Pressburg, Congress of, 15.15, 58 
Pretficz, Bernard, 63-64 
Prokopovich, Theophan, 308 
Pesudo-Demetrius I [Gregory Otre- 
pev], origin, 1 69-171; victories, 
1 7 1- 1 72 ; proclaimed Tsar, 173 ; 
popularity and enlightenment. 



173-174; negotiations with the 
Pope, 174-175; murder, 175- 

Pseudo-Demetrius II [Michael 

Molchanov], 177 
Pseudo- Demetrius III [Gabriel 

Verevkin], 177, 178, 181, 182 
Pseudo-Demetrius IV, 184 
Pseudo-Demetrius V [Zai:ucki], 189 
Puck, Battle of, 1462, 23 
Pugachev, Emilian, rebellion, 417- 


Raclawice, Battle of, 1794, 405 
Radziejowski, Hieronymus, 218, 

219, 220, 223 
Radziejowski, Cardinal, 255 
Radziwill, Christopher, Prince, 

Radziwill, Janus, Prince, 219, 222, 

224, 225 
Radziwill, Ludowika, Princess, 

Radziwill, Nicholas, Prince, 72, 

85, 86 
Radziwill, Cardinal, 138 
Rangoni, Cardinal, 169 
Rastawa, Compact of, 161 7, 153 
Razin, Stenka, rebellion, 232-236 
Razumowski, Alexis, 354 
Repnin, Nicholas, Prince, 366, 383, 

384. 387. 388, 390. 425* 432, 433 
Rexin, Prussian diplomatist, 420 
Richelieu, Cardinal, 199 
Romanov, Nikita, 158 
Romanov, Theodore Nikitevich. 

See Philaret, Patriarch 
Rondeau, Claudius, 338 
Rosanda, of Moldavia, 217 
Rosenheim, Austrian diplomatist, 

Roverella, Papal Legate, 26 
Rukoza, Metropolitan of the Uniates, 

Rumyantsev, Peter, Field marshal, 

422, 425, 426 
Ruric, I 

Rytwianski, Jan, 23 
Rzewuski, Severin 402 
Rzewuski, Waclaw, 381, 388, 390 

Sahajadychny, Cossack Hetman, 

Saint Paul Longueville, Count, 243, 

Saint Petersburg, Treaty of, 1723, 

Saint Petersburg, Treaty of, 1745, 

Saint Petersburg, Treaty of, 1747, 

Saint Petersburg, Treaty of, 1755, 

Saint Petersburg, Treaty of, 1772, 

Saldem, Russian diplomatist, 395 
Saltuikov, Peter, Field marshal, 

374> 375, 376 
Samoilovich, Cossack Hetman, 252 
Sapieha, Casimir, Prince, 255 
Sapieha, Leo, Prince, 254 
Sapieha, Paul, Prince, 225, 227 
Sartak, Tatar Khan, 9 
Saxe, Maurice de, 338, 365 
Schlitte, 116, 117 
Schwerin, General, 407 
Selim III, Sultan of Turkey, 431 
Selim, Giraj, Tatar Khan, 426 
Shafirov, Russian statesman, 307 
Shaklovity, Russian statesman, 283, 

Shako vsky, Gregory, 177 
Shchelkalov, Family of, 161, 173 
Shcherbatov, Prince, 414 
Shein, Michael, 194 
Shein, Russian general, 289 
Shing-Su, Emperor of China, 321 
Shipov, Colonel, 322 
Shuisky, Andrei, 107, 108 
Shuisky, Dmitry, 182 
Shuisky, Ivan, 106, T07, 127, 182 
Shuisky, Vasily, 106 
Shuvalov, Alexander, 354 
Shuvalov, Peter, 354 
Sicinski, Nicholas,^ 219 
Sieniawski, Nicholas, 247 
Sienicki, Nicholas, 74 
Sierakowski, Tan, 81 
Sievers, Russian diplomatist, 416 
Sigismund Bdthory, Prince of 

Transylvania, 140 



Sigismund, Krolewicz, son of 
WladisUus IV, 20I 

Sigismund I, King of Poland, early 
career and character, 53-54 ; war 
with Moscovy, 55-57 ; Teutonic 
question, 57-59; ^o> Turkish 
policy, 61-^2 ; 64, 65, d^^ 68, 
anti- Protestant measures, 69-70 ; 
death, 71 

Sigismund II, King of Poland, 
accession and character, 7 2-"/ 4; 
mediates between Catholics and 
Protestants, 76-79 ; 80, 81, 
political system, 82-83 > ^^^' 
quers Livonia, 84 ; unites Poland 
and Lithuania, 86-87, 9^' ii7> 
correspondence with Queen Eliza- 
beth, 129 

Sigismund III, King of Poland, 
election, 1 01- 102 ; character, 
135; policy, 136-138; 140, re- 
bellions against, 144-147, 149, 
156, 159' 169, 170, 175, 180, 
181, 182, 185, 186, 194, 203 

Simeon, Grand Duke of Moscovy, 10 

Simeon, Prince of Kiev, 27 

Sinan, Pasha, 140 

Sisman, Ibrahim, 248 

Sistova, Peace of, 1791, 433 

Sixtus V, Pope, 99, 100 

Skarga, Piotr, 202 

Skopin-Shuisky, Michael, Prince, 

^177, 179 

Skovronskaya (Martha). 5^« Cathe- 
rine I 

Skovronsky, Samuel, 329 

Skuratov, Gregory, 121, 123 

Slavenitsky, Epifany, 267 

Smotrzycki, Melecy, 203 

Sobakina, Martha, 131 

Sobieski, Jan, King of Poland, 229, 
240, 241, 242, early career and 
character, 242-3; rebels against 
King Michael, 246 ; election, 
247 ; campaigns against Turks, 
247 ; 249, 250, at Vienna, 251 ; 
252, 253, last campaign, 254; 
failure and death, 255-256 

Solms, Count, Prussian diplomatist, 
39^ 394» 420 

Soltyk, Cajetan, Bishop of Cracow, 

387, 420 
Solyman, Sultan of Turkey, 253 
Sophia Paleologa, Consort of Jvan 

III, 47-49 
Sophia, Tsarevna, 280, 281 ; struggle 

with Peter the Great, 282-284; 

292, 204 
Sophia Augusta, of Anhalt Zerbst. 

See Catherine II 
Sophia Charlotte, Consort of the 

Tsarevich Alexis, 311, 313 
Spafari, Gabriel Nicholas, 239 
Spiridov, Admiral, 422, 423, 424 
Stackelberg, Russian diplomatist, 

Stadnicki, Stanislaus, 143 
Stanislaus I, King of Poland, 345, 

344» 345» 352 
Stanislaus II, Kmg of Poland, elec- 
tion, 383; character, 384; 390, 
399, 401, 403, 419 
Stavukhani, Battle of, 1738, 348 
Stepanov, Onifry, 238 
Stephen Bathory, King of Poland, 
election, 95 ; coronation, 96 ; 97, 
98, foreign policy, ^9-100; at Po- 
lock, 124 ; Moscovite campaigns, 
125-127; 128; dealings with 
Cossacks, 151 ; unpopularity, 159 
Stephen Bocskay, Prince of Tran- 
sylvania, 140, 144 
Stephen, Hospodar of Moldavia, 

44, 52, 61, 82 
Sternberg, engineer, 290 
Stockholm, Treaty of, 1724, 320 
Stolbovo, Peace of, 161 7, 189 
Stroganov, Family of, 130, 188 
Stuhmsdorf, Truce of, 1635, 199 
Suvarov, Alexander, Prince, Field 
marshal, 394, 407, 431, 432, 433 
Sviyaga, Battle of, 1670, 230 
Svyatopulk, Grand Duke of Kiev, 4 
Svyatoslav, Grand Duke of Kiev, 2 
Sylvester, the monk, 112, 115, 116, 

117, disgrace, 11 8-1 19 
Szczekocina, Battle of, 1794, 406 

Talitsky, Grisha, 300 
Tamerlane, 10 



Tannenberg, Battle of, 1410, 12 
Targowicz, Confederation of, 1792, 

Tarlo, Adam, 343 
Tarnowski, Stanislaus, 62, 73, 77 
Tenczynski, Andrzej, 31, 32 
Tergoviste, Battle of, 1598, 141 
Teschen, Congress of, 1779, 424 
Theodore 1, Tsar of Russia, loi, 

i57» 158, i59» »6i, 164 
Theodore II, Tsar of Russia, 172, 

Theodore III, Tsar of Russia, reign 

and character, 277-280 
Theodoret, Archbishop of Riazan, 

Theophanes, Patriarch of Jerusalem, 

Thorn, Congress of, 15 11, 58 
Thorn, Edict of, 1520, 69 
Thorn, Peice of, 141 1, 12 
Thorn, Peice of, 1466, 24 
Thugut, Austrian statesman, 426 
Tikhon, Igumen, 127 
Timmerman, Franz, 286 
Tokoly, Imre, 250, 253 
Toktamish, Tatar Khan, 10 
Tolstoi, Peter, Count, 315, 316, 

328» 33 •» 334 
Tomicki, Chancellor of Poland, 70 
Tormasov, Russian general, 405 
Totte, Klas, 124 

TrajanopoHs, Battle of, 1770, 425 
Trcziana, Battle of, 1629, 155 
Trebicza, Battle of, 1469, 26 
Trubetskoi, Alexander, Prince, 221, 

TyszowicQ Confederation of, 1657, 


Uchanski, Primate of Poland, 91 
Ula, Battle of, 1564, 87 
Urban VIII, Pope, 204 
Us, Vaska, 235 

Varala, Peace of, 1790, 433 
Varkoch, German diplomatist, 160 
Vasily I, Grand Duke of Moscovy, 1 1 
Vasily II, Grand Duke of Moscovy, 
i7» «8 

Vasily III, Grand Duke of Moscovy, 

49' 55. 56, 105 
Vasily V, Tsar of Moscovy, 163, 

164, 172, 173, 176, 177, 178,180, 

Vasvar, Peace of, 1664, 244 
Vergennes, French statesman, 419 
Versailles, Treaties of, 1756, 370 
Vienna, Compact of, 15 15, 58 
Villeneuve, French diplomatist, 345 
Vilmanstrand, Battle of, 1741, 352 
Vladimir, Grand Duke of Kiev, 2, 

3» 4»6 
Volkonsky, Michael, Prince, 390, 

Voltaire, 411, 414, 418 
Voluinsky, Artamon, in Persia, 321- 

322 ; death, 349 
Vonafitev, Stephen, 265 
Vorontsov, Michael, 354, 363, 365, 

Vorontsov, Theodore, 107 
Vsevolod III, 6 

Wager, Admiral, 353 
Warsaw, Battle of, 1656, 226 
Warsaw, Compact of, 1573, 92 
Warsaw, Edict of, 1557, 78 
Weigand, Colonel, 125 
Weissenstein, Battle of, 1604, 148 
Westminster, Treaty of, 1756, ^70 
Wilawa, Compact of, 1657, ^^^ 
Wilhelm, of Brandenburg, 84, 85 
Willach, Congress of, 1470, 26 
William III, King of England, 291 
Wilna, Compact of, 1401, 12 
Wilna, Treaty of, 1558, 84 
Wisniowiec, Battle of, 15 10, 63 
Wisniowiecka, Euphros3me, 219 
Wisniowiecki, Adam, Prince, 169 
Wisniowiecki, Demetrius, Prince, 

the Elder, 83 
Wisniowiecki, Demetrius, Prince, 

the younger, 244 
Wisniowiecki, Michael, Prince. See 

Michael, King of Poland 
Witowt, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 

10, 12 
Wladislaus, II, King of Bohemia 

and Hungary, 26, 58 



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