Philippe-Paul Segur.

History of Russia and of Peter the Great online

. (page 1 of 37)
Online LibraryPhilippe-Paul SegurHistory of Russia and of Peter the Great → online text (page 1 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



I < i -, .: f i o ' .■■ W ', / ',























Dorset Street, Fleet Street.















Statistical sketch of Russia. Extent of its territory. Its actual
and possible population, and the annual increase of it. Division of
Russia into two parts, the one, Asiatic, the other, European. The
Asiatic Part. Its slope. Cause of the severity of its climate.
Another cause. Total extent of its surface. Extent of surface which
is capable of cultivation. Causes of the barrenness of three-fifths of
this vast country. Its productiveness in fish, game, furs, and metals.
The European Part. The different climates. Its population.
Its division into three regions. Their relative population. Com-
parison of their climate with that of other European States situated
under the same parallel of latitude. Causes of their difference.
Description of the summit-level whence flow the large rivers which
intersect this part of Russia. The riches of its soil. Page 1—4.


Division of the history of Europe into its ancient and modern
history. Combat of the East and the North on that immense field of
battle over which passed the inundations of the Norman and Asiatic
hordes. Sketch of the history of Russia, divided into five great
periods, two dynastiesj twelve remarkal)le Princes, and five capitals.
Pinumeration and character of those twelve Princes ; the manner in
wliidi they were divided among those periods ; those periods charac-
terized according to the si)irit of their history. Description of the
five capitals of this empire. Causes of these great changes of resi-
dence. 'I'hey at length carry back the seat of power to the same
coast, where, eight centuries and a half before, it had begun by
estaldibhing itself. Page 5 — 12.



Fabulous origin of the first inhabitants of Russia. Doubts upon
this subject acknowledged. The assertion of the Scandinavian origin
of the Russian Varangians is supported by numerous proofs, collected
in a note at the end of the volume. The course of the great inunda-
tions of the Asiatic barbarians, and of those of northern Europe
])ointed out. Novgorod, situated between those inundations, acquires
from this period yery considerable importance. Summary of its
history of that period, drawn from a Russian chronicle of disputed
authority. Internal dissensions between a monarchical party and a
republican party. The first party calls in the Varangian princes,
who, from their local situation, were masters of a part of the Novgo-
rodian commerce. The republican party revolts against this foreign
domination, but Rurik crushes it, and fixes himself as master in this
first capital of the nascent Russian empire. First conquest of Kief.
First seeds of Christianity. Page 12 — 16.


Rapid and prodigious aggrandizement of the Russian empire, in
consequence of the union of the Varangians with the Novgorodians ;
of the genius of Oleg, whose most memorable actions are related ; of
the absolute devotion of the Varangians to the descendants of Rurik ;
of their military manners and their conquering spii-it ; and lastly, of
their superior arms and discipline, and of their acting in concert; op-
posed to the pacific and independent manners of the Slavonians, and
their being scattered in tribes. Page 16 — 22.


Continuation of the causes of the sudden aggrandizement of this
empire. The Slavonians called in the Varangians to their assist-
ance. Time and marriages blended these two people, Varangians
and Slavonians, into one. The descendants of Rurik at length even
prefer the Slavonians to the Varangiaii's. The same love of plunder
unites all these tribes under the standards of the Russian Grand-
I'rinces. Page 22 — 25,


New causes of the extraordinary aggrandizement of this empire.
Continuation of the influx of the Varangians into Russia. Invasive


forms and customs of their government. Long duration and various
merits of the first reigns. Obstacles which these barbarians meet
with in their conquests, and which prevent them from being diiFused
and lost in the other parts of Europe. Direct inheritance among the
early princes of this first dynasty, in consequence of there being no
opportunity for a partition. Commencement of those partitions.
Good fortune of the empire, which twice gave the north, or most
warlike part of Russia, to the two princes who were most capable of
turning this circumstance to advantage. Page 25 — 29.


Reign of Vladimir the Great. His conquests, his manners, his
despotism. How Russia becomes Christian. Madimir introduces
there the light of Christianity. He divides the empire between his
children. Political, niond, physical, and religious causes of these
partitions. Crimes of Sviatopolk. Commencement of Yaroslaf's
reign. He takes Kief. First Polish invasion. Yaroslaf a second
time becomes master of Russia. Extent of this empire. Partition
of it between Yaroslaf and Mstislaf. Yaroslaf a third time sole
master of Russia. His zeal for the instruction of the Russians ; his
tolerance. Alliance of his family with the other royal families of
Europe. Page 30 — 36.


Causes which appear to have induced Yaroslaf to give his Code.
Code of Yaroslaf. It is imj)osed by despotism. Scale of punish-
ments. Division of the Russians into three classes. Slavery. Legal
interest of money. Collective responsibility. Scandinavian laws.
Source of the nobility. Law regulating the rent and dues to be paid
by the farmers to the land-owners, bondage to the soil being then un-
known. The Grand-Prince subsists on tlie income from his posses-
sions, and on fines. No traces of taxation to be found. Military
service requirable. Judges. Jurors. Page 37 — 44.


Largess made by Yaroslaf to his army ; it proves the importance of
Novgorod. Causes of the power of that republic; its singular ex-
tent. Its government. Its franchises. Its military pr>wer.

Page H— 47.




The first rays of Russian glory about to be eclipsed. It endeavours
to effect its interior organization, and to become civilized. A sum-
mary of its means of civilization, derived from its connection with
southern Asia, with the Greeks and Italians, and from its Christian-
ity, the genius of Vladimir and Yaroslaf, and their longevity. De-
scription of the premature luxury of Kief. Obstacles thrown in the
way of Russian civilization, by the situation of that capital, exposing
it perpetually to the incursions of the Nomade tribes, to civil wars,
and lastly, to endless mutations of fortunes and properties. Happy
influence of Christianity ; and, nevertheless, new and invincible ob-
stacles to the civilizing of the Russians, ascribed to barbarian habi-
tudes, the vanity of men of confirmed habits, and especially to the
destruction of Kief, which exclusively contained the principal seeds
of that civilization. Sketch of the progression of calamities, igno-
rance, and demoralization, which spread over the Russian Empire till
the end of the first dynasty. Page 48—54.


Partition of the empire into appanages.' How they were esta-
blished. Order of succession from brother to brother, and from uncle
to nephew ; its probable causes ; its pernicious results. Insignificance
of the Russian nobility. Devotedness of Russia to the Princes de-
scended from Rurik. Their pride. Form of government at that
period. Page 55—59.


Summary on the first reigns of this second period. Despicable
contentions till the reign of Andrew, but through which shines the
pure and spotless glory of Vladimir Monomachus. Patriotism of that
Prince. His noble actions, his virtues, his respect for the established
order of succession. Vladimir Monomachus refuses the throne ; for
twenty years he continues to be the support of it at the risk of his
life, and at the expense of his own patrimony. His struggle with
Oleg. Remarkable congress. The condemnation of David. Vladi-
mir at length ascends the throne, in spil^ of the order of succession


and in spite of himself. Banishment of the Jews. Happiness and
tranquillity of Russia under the reign of Vladimir Monomachus.
His will. Page 60 to 66.


The struggle of Vladimir Monomachus and Oleg is perpetuated in
their descendants. Eleven princes, in thirty-two years^ appear upon,
and vanish from, the paramount throne. The Grand- Principality is
reduced to the city of Kief. Power of the Princes of Suzdal. Mag-
nitude of their appanage. The paramount sovereignty passes into
the hands of Andrew, Prince of Suzdal, and to Vladimir, his capital.
Contest of Andrew with the appanages. He is overcome. Complete
annihilation of the paramount authority in his successors. Russia
begins to lose its unity at the moment when the greatest of all the
Asiatic conquerors combines under his powerful sway all that part of
the world. Page 67 to 72.



Invasion by the Tartars. Its causes attributed to the genius of
Genghis-Khan, to the manners of the Mongols and Tartars, and to the
union of those two people. Their conquest of the Polovtzy and of
the Silver Bulgarians leads them to that of Russia. Their greedi-
ness of gain is inflamed by their hearing of the riches of Vladimir, of
Kief, and of Byzantium. The causes of the success of these Tartars
deduced from their mode of life, from the warlike spirit in Russia
being weakened, from the reduction in the free Russian population,
and from the enormous magnitude of the Mongol armies. A war
wholly of sieges, the Tartar cavalry being masters of all the open
country. Desperate resistance of the cities. The deserts which sur-
round those cities favour the suqirisos attempted by a nation Jilways
anned, always rapid in its motions, and always ready for acti(»n. The
arms of the 'I'artars suj)erior to those of the Russians. The incon-
testable superiority of the Mongol Tartars at that period, attributed
to their manners, to their military organization, to the annual assem-
bling of their leaders in tlie ])resence of Gengliis, and to tlic influence
produced l)y forty years of victory. First invasion in 12*2.^. Insidi-


dious and implacable dis[)osition of the Tartars. Second invasion^
and complete concpiest of Russia in 1237, by Baty-Khan, who finds
that empire entirely devoid of strength. Causes of that increase of
weakness. Establishment of the Tartar empire of the Kaptchak.

Page 73 to 80.


Duration of the empire of the Tartars in Russia ascribed to the
manners and customs of those barbarians. They allow the Russians
to govern Russia, and defend it against Europe; a circumstance
wliich jn-eserves it, but at the same time exhausts it, by continual
wars against the Livonians, the Swedes, and the Lithuanians. Fa-
mines, plagues, and intestine dissensions perpetuate the weakness of
Russia. Reason why the Tartars made a desert of it. Foundation
of their empire by terror. How they subsequently governed ; their
favourable treatment of the Russian priests. They assume the para-
mount sovereignty. Long journeys which they compel the Russian
princes to take. Homage atid tribute wliich they require. They
completely dissolve the feudal tie ; interfere in all the disputes of the
princes ; and continually ravage Russia. The Mongol empire being
kept together only by war, falls to pieces forty years after its founda-
tion. From the same cause, the empire of the Kaptchak, one of the
five divisions of the Mongol empire, very soon begins to show signs of
dissolution. Page 80 to 85.


Dissolution of the Mongol empire. Progress of the Russians to-
wards their independence. The Russian princes no longer journey
any farther than to Sarai to pay their homage. The Kaptchak, by
acquiring extension, becomes divided. The power of the Grand-
Princes again revives in the person of Alexander Nevsky. The Tar-
tars give the Grand-Principality to this great man. His courage,
his policy, his patriotism. The Grand-Principality is again a subject
of dissension between the Russian princes ; but, as the possession of
the crown is decided by the protection of the Khan, civil wars are
replaced by court intrigues. The blind cupidity of the Tartars aug-
ments the power of the Grand-Prince. They support him against his
kinsfolk. They begin to perpetuate the Grand- Princedom in the
same branch. Page 85 to 89.


Rivalship of the branches of Twer and Moscow. The ]ainces of


Twer Grand- Princes. Geographical position of Moscow; the conse-
quences of it. Yury (orGeorge), Prince of Moscow, becomes brother-
in-law of Usbek-Khan. The Prince of Twer alienates Novgorod and
the Tartars. Calumny of Yury against that Prince. Usbek gives the
Grand- Princedom to Y^ury. He causes the Prince of Twer to be ex-
ecuted at the horde. Yury is assassinated by the son of the Prince of
Twer, who becomes Grand- Prince, and orders all the Tartars at Twer
to be slaughtered. Usbek wrests the Grand- Principality from him ; he
gives it to Ivan-Kalita of Moscow, the son of Yury. First union of
all the Russian princes under the orders of the Grand-Prince. The
Prince of Twer and his son are executed at the horde. Commence-
ment of the hundred and seventy years' reign of the bi'anch of Mos-
cow. The policy of Twer was fluctuating, that of Moscow was con-
sistently followed up. It ovei'came and united the Russian princes
by means of the Tartars ; this was the policy of the great Alexander
Nevsky, with the addition of a horrible machiavelism ; the Russians
having also become more docile to any yoke, and the Grand-Princi-
pality more powerful. Page 89 to 92.


The power of the Grand- Princes is increased by the riches which
they accumulate. They take upon them the collecting of the Khan's
tribute ; they begin by being receivers of the taxes, and end by the
becoming the possessors of them. They act as lieutenants of the
Tartars, in order to succeed to them in their rights. AYliole appa-
nages, and the consent of the Primate to reside in future at Moscow,
are bought by Ivan-Kalita. He begins the union of the nobility
with the Grand- Princi])ality, and the subjugation of the appanages.
The Primate and the Tartar Klian assist him in putting down the
rebellions of the princes and the Russian republics. Lithuania
throws off the yoke of the Ruriks. Its conquest of southern Russia
gives rise to the Cossacks. The relative power of the Russian Grand-
Princes incre;i8es. Ivan-Kalita restores order, and encourages com-
merce, by wliich his riches are still more increased. C!ommencoment
of the rcistoration of lineal succession in his son, Simeon tiie Proud ;
and llie second union of the Russian princes under that prince. In
default of issue on the part of Simeon, his l)rother succeeds him. He
dies. A momentary interruption of the lineal succession. It is re-
htored in the person of Dmitry Donskoi, grandson of Ivan-Kalita, and
is never again iiitcrruiitt'd. Reason wliy tliis Ivan is one of tbc most


remarkable princes of this third period. The Russian princes de-
sire the recal of the Tartar governors. A public opinion begins to be
formed. The throne of Moscow is about to become the rallying
point of all the Russians. Page 92 to 98.


After Usbek, the Khans of the Golden-horde themselves assist in
establishing the direct succession, fi*om father to son, in the Moscow
branch. Dmitry Donskoi secures the hereditary order by treaties
with the princes who are possessed of appanages. The most cele-
brated of them even declares himself a vassal of the grandson of
Dmitry, who is only five years of age. The Grand- Princes, like the
French Capetians, cause, during their own life-time, their eldest sons
to be acknowledged as their successors. Thisorderrenders more con-
sistent and invariable the policy of the Grand-Princes, and attaches
the nobles exclusively to them. Reasons why. The Boyards of the
Grand- Princes are raided to a level with the princes holding appa-
nages, which draws to Moscow the Boyards of the appanages. Cir-
cumspect conduct of Dmitry with respect to his Boyards. He sacri-
fices to them the 'I'issiatsky, or Boyard of the Commons, whose office
he abolishes. The princes possessed of appanages, being deserted by
their nobles, become all of them vassals of the Grand-Prince Dmitry.
After him, the attachment of these nobles always maintains the lineal
successor on the throne, or restores him to it. Page 98 to 102.


The Russian princes not being supported by the Tartars, they again
sink, discouraged, under the power of tlie Grand-Princes. The Prince
of Twer alone resists. He is backed by Lithuania. Terrible struggle
of that prince against Dmitry Donskoi. Dmitry rallies round him
the nobles and the Russian princes, overcomes Twer, and compels it
to unite with him against the Tartars, of whom he throws ofi^ the yoke.
His great victory of the Don. Alternation of successes and reverses,
during which the Tartars gi-ow weaker and weaker, while, on the
contrary, the power of the Grand-Princes, by being concentrated,
becomes more and more formidable. The political impulse given by
Ivan Kalita continued by Simeon, and vigorously renewed by Dmi-
try Donskoi, is supported with machiavelian and ferocious talent by
Vassili, his eldest son. Prudent council of nobles and priests left to


him by his father. Vassili continues the successive uniting of the
appanages with the Grand-Principality, which becomes disproportion-
ate to the remainder of the appanages. The humiliation of Novgo-
rod begins. The Russian princes swear to desist from keeping up a
direct communication with the Tartars and Lithuanians. They ac-
knowledge, as their Grand-Prince, Vassili the Blind, aged five years,
the eldest son of the reigning Grand-Prince. Page 102 to 106.


The armies of Tamerlane, and of Vitovt the Lithuanian, which are
about to overwhelm Russia, take another direction, and come into
collision. Vitovt is overthrown. Lithuania and Poland separate ;
power becomes diflFused~there ; while in Russia it becomes centralized,
takes root, and continually acquires strength. Longevity of the Rus-
sian Grand-Princes of that period. Its eifects. Singular revolution,
and other events, proving the hold which the legitimacy of the lineal
succession had gained upon public opinion in the time of Vassili the
Blind. His son, Ivan III. associated with him in the government.

Page 107 to 111.


The Russian clergy perse veringly contribute to the restoration
of the power of the Grand-Princes. Power of that clergy. Edict
attributed to Vladimir. Protection from the Tartars. The convents
become their only places of refuge. Fear of the end of the world, and
its effects. Tolerance of the Khans. Its causes. They become
Mahometans. Maliometanism stops short on the limits of Europe
and Asia. Why. Page 1 11 to 114.


Favourable treatment of the Russian priests by Usbek. They dis-
trust tbe Maliometan prince. They endeavour to accumulate all the
Russian strength in the hands of the Grand-Princes of Moscow.
The union of the Primates with the Grand- Princes in Moscow, in-
creases the power of the Grand-Princes. Numerous historical proofs
of their close union. Efforts of the Primates to maintain and defend
tbe lineal succession. End of tlie third great Russian [jcriod. Its
predrmiinant idea, that of tiie concentration of power, is about to be
triumphant in the fourtJi period, to go beyond all bounds, and to
destroy every thing. Page 115 to lly.




Character of Ivan III. His object. His adversaries. His allies.
His policy. His quadruple struggle against the Tartars, the Russian
republics, the princes possessed of appanages, and the Lithuanians.
His contest with the Tartars. In the prosecution of it he proves
himself pliant, crooked, servile, and pusillanimous. Indignation of
his subjects. He dares not commit any thing to the chance of arms,
but relies entirely on his policy. It is triumphant. Ivan assumes an
erect attitude, and acts in a manner as different from his former con-
duct, as the meanness of Louis XL is from the pride of Louis XIV.

Page 120 to 128.


The same policy, but with more dignity, in his second and great
effort, directed against the Russian republics. Marpha. Ivan attacks
Novgorod. He only half subjugates it. His moderation merely
specious. Crafty gradation by which he draws it over to him, and
gradually wrests from it its liberties. He endeavours to obtain from
it by stealth a voluntary submission to slavery. Indignation and in-
surrection of Novgorod. He accuses it of his own crimes. He arms
all Russia against it, and overpowers it, but without a blow, by a gra-
dual compression, which at last extorts from it a cry for pardon and
servitude. Pskof still remains free. Viatka is subjugated in its
turn. Despotic burst of violence in Ivan, which ruins the commerce
of Novgorod. Page 129 to 138.


Third part of the quadruple contest of Ivan III. The same
machiavelism employed against the princes holding appanages as had
been used against the Tartars and the Russian republics. Pliability
of Ivan to his kinsfolk till his first two contests are terminated. He
insulates the most dangerous of those princes, which is, again, the
Prince of Twer. He unites friends and enemies against that Prince.
His strength always deals in stratagem. Ivan, at first, only half
subdues this adversary. He does not complete his purpose till after
he has gradually disarmed him, and left the unfortunate Prince no


other resource than flight. Ivan crushes, without ceremony, all the
other princes who possess appanages. He pushes even to fratricide
his tyranny towards them. Page 138 to 141.


Fourth part of the quadruple contest of Ivan III. For thi'ee
years the war of Ivan III. against Lithuania is carried on only in an
indirect manner. Death of Casimir. Separation of Lithuania from
Poland. Great armament of Ivan III. notwithstanding which he
allows his allies to attack Lithuania by themselves. Alexander
Prince of Lithuania. He endeavours to poison Ivan, who insidiously
gives him his daughter in marriage. Machiavelism of Ivan towards
his son-in-law. He takes advantage of all his errors. Religious war.
Territory recovered from Lithuania by Russia. A victoiy obtained
by one of Ivan's generals finally consolidates these acquisitions.

Page 142 to 144.


Ivan III. the terrestial deity of the Russians. Causes of this su-
perstition. His marriage with a Greek Princess. Effects of this
union on the mind of the Russians. Changes which it produces in
his court. Commencement of arts and civilization. The court of
Ivan III. shines in the eyes of the Russians, like a luminous point in
the midst of darkness. His policy, despotic at home, is proud and
arrogant abroad. New causes of the ascendancy of Ivan III. over
the minds of his subjects. His despotism. His success, whatever
may have been his means. Ivan III. as administrator and legislator.
Creation of a new army, composed of boyard-followers, subordinate
landholders, holding directly from the crown. Iron code of Ivan III.
The servility of the Russians is to be dated from the reign of this
Prince. Page 144 to 153.


Vassili continues the reign of his father. Accession of Ivan IV.
His court. Unusual regency of his mother ; her avowed lover.
Their sanguinary despotism. The regent dies of poison. Schuisky.
His excesses of all kinds. He oppresses and insults his ward, and
kills his favourites even in his arms. He deposes a primate. The
Glinsky give this brutal being to be devoured by the dogs. They


continue his tyranny under the name of Ivan IV. Lessons of cruelty
given to that Trince till he is seventeen. Conflagration at Mos-

Online LibraryPhilippe-Paul SegurHistory of Russia and of Peter the Great → online text (page 1 of 37)