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Introductory
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-waggon...
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...
Ivan III And The Sons Of Casimir, 1462-1506
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 modern European Russia, with off-shoots extending northwards as far as Lake Byelo and Ustyug on the Sukhona.
The Rehabilitation Of Poland Under Sigismund I, 1506--1548
By his last will, King Alexander had bequeathed his patrimony 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.
The Last Of The Jagiellos, 1548-1572
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 Pans who had elected him King eighteen years previously.
The First Elective Kings, 1572-1588
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...
Ivan IV, Called The Terrible, 1534-1584
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 aristocracy. In Moscovy, meanwhile, the principles of monarchy were gaining steadily in strength.
Sigismund III And The Republic, 1588-1632
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 Rzeszpospolita, or Polish Commonwealth. This great Power was exposed from the first to peculiar perils, both external and internal.
Boris Godunov And The Pseudo-Demetriuses, 1584-1613
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...
The First Romanovs And Wladislaus IV, 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...
John Casimir And The Cossacks, 1648-1669
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, 1819), his little army was annihilated.
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.
The Precursors Of Peter The Great, 1649-1689
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...
Peter The Great, 1689-1725
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 11th 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.
Peter The Great, 1689-1725
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...
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 muchpersonal ambition as the, instinct of self-preservation which made her look to these men for help at this crisis.
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