Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV.: The succession of Moscovia dukes and emperors, taken out of their chroniles by a Polac, with some later additions. † - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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CHAPTER IV.: The succession of Moscovia dukes and emperors, taken out of their chroniles by a Polac, with some later additions. † - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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The succession of Moscovia dukes and emperors, taken out of their chroniles by a Polac, with some later additions.†
The great dukes of Moscovy derive their pedigree, though without ground, from Augustus Cæsar: whom they fable to have sent certain of his kingdom to be governors over many remote provinces; and among them, Prussus over Prussia; him to have had his seat on the eastern Baltic shore by the river Wixel; of whom Rurek, Sinaus, and Truuor descended by the fourth generation, were by the Russians, living then without civil government, sent for in the year 573, to bear rule over them, at the persuasion of Gostomislius chief citizen of Novogrod. They therefore, taking with them Olechus their kinsman, divided those countries among themselves, and each in his province taught them civil government.
Ivor, son of Rurek, the rest dying without issue, became successor to them all; being left in nonage under the protection of Olechus. He took to wife Olha daughter to a citizen of Plesco, of whom he begat Stoslaus; but after that being slain by his enemies, Olha his wife went to Constantinople, and was there baptized Helena.
Stoslaus fought many battles with his enemies; but was at length by them slain, who made a cup of his scull, engraven with this sentence in gold; “Seeking after other men’s, he lost his own.” His sons were Teropulchus, Olega, and Volodimir.
Volodimir, having slain the other two, made himself sole lord of Russia; yet after that fact inclining to Christian religion, had to wife Anna sister of Basilius and Constantine Greek emperors; and with all his people, in the year 988, was baptized, and called Basilius. Howbeit Zonaras reporteth, that before that time Basilius the Greek emperor sent a bishop to them; at whose preaching they not being moved, but requiring a miracle, he after devout prayers, taking the book of gospel into his hands, threw it before them all into the fire; which remaining there unconsumed, they were converted.
Volodimir had eleven sons, among whom he divided his kingdom; Boristus and Glebus for their holy life registered saints; and their feast kept every year in November with great solemnity. The rest, through contention to have the sole government, ruined each other; leaving only Jaroslaus inheritor of all.
Volodimir, son of Jaroslaus, kept his residence in the ancient city Kiow upon the river Boristhenes. And after many conflicts with the sons of his uncles and having subdued all, was called Monomachus. He made war with Constantine the Greek emperor, wasted Thracia, and returning home with great spoils to prepare new war, was appeased by Constantine; who sent Neophytus bishop of Ephesus, and Eustathius abbot of Jerusalem, to present him with part of our Saviour’s cross, and other rich gifts, and to salute him by the name of Czar, or Cæsar: with whom he thenceforth entered into league and amity.
After him in order of descent Vuszevolodus, George, Demetrius.
Then George his son, who in the year 1237 was slain in battle by the Tartar prince Bathy, who subdued Muscovia, and made it tributary. From that time the Tartarians made such dukes of Russia, as they thought would be most pliable to their ends; of whom they required, as oft as embassadors came to him out of Tartary, to go out and meet them; and in his own court to stand bareheaded, while they sate and delivered their message. At which time the Tartars wasted also Polonia, Selesia, and Hungaria, till pope Innocent the Fourth obtained peace of them for five years. This Bathy, say the Russians, was the father of Tamerlane, whom they call Temirkutla.
Then succeeded Jaroslaus, the brother of George, then Alexander his son.
Daniel, the son of Alexander, was he who first made the city of Mosco his royal seat, builded the castle, and took on him the title of great duke.
John, the son of Daniel, was surnamed Kaleta, that word signifying a scrip, out of which, continually carried about with him, he was wont to deal his alms.
His son Simeon, dying without issue, left the kingdom to John his next brother; and he to his son Demetrius, who left two sons, Basilius and George.
Basilius reigning had a son of his own name, but doubting lest not of his own body, through the suspicion he had of his wife’s chastity, him he disinherits, and gives the dukedom to his brother George.
George, putting his nephew Basilius in prison, reigns; yet at his death, either through remorse, or other cause, surrenders him the dukedom.
Basilius, unexpectedly thus attaining his supposed right, enjoyed it not long in quiet; for Andrew and Demetrius, the two sons of George, counting it injury not to succed their father, made war upon him, and surprising him on a sudden, put out his eyes. Notwithstanding which, the boiarens, or nobles, kept their allegiance to the duke, though blind, whom therefore they called Cziemnox.
John Vasiliwich, his son, was the first who brought the Russian name out of obscurity into renown. To secure his own estate, he put to death as many of his kindred, as were likely to pretend; and styled himself great duke of Wolodimiria, Moscovia, Novogardia, Czar of all Russia. He won Plesco, the only walled city in all Muscovy, and Novogrod, the richest, from the Lithuanians, to whom they had been subject fifty years before; and from the latter carried home three hundred wagons laden with treasure. He had war with Alexander king of Poland, and with the Livonians; with him, on pretence of withdrawing his daughter Helena, whom he had to wife, from the Greek church to the Romish; with the Livonians for no other cause, but to enlarge his bounds: though he were often foiled by Plettebergius, great master of the Prussian knights. His wife was daughter to the duke of Tyversky; of her he begat John; and to him resigned his dukedom; giving him to wife the daughter of Stephen, palatine of Moldavia; by whom he had issue Demetrius, and deceased soon after. Vasiliwich, therefore, reassuming the dukedom, married a second wife Sophia, daughter to Thomas Palæologus: who is said to have received her dowry out of the pope’s treasury, upon promise of the duke to become Romish.
This princess, of a haughty mind, often complaining that she was married to the Tartar’s vassal, at length by continual persuasions, and by a wile, found means to ease her husband and his country of that yoke. For whereas till then the Tartar had his procurators, who dwelt in the very castle of Mosco, to oversee state affairs, she feigned that from heaven she had been warned, to build a temple to saint Nicholas on the same place where the Tartar agents had their house. Being therefore delivered of a son, she made it her request to the prince of Tartary, whom she had invited to the baptizing, that he would give her that house, which obtaining, she razed to the ground, and removed those overseers out of the castle; and so by degrees dispossessed them of all which they held in Russia. She prevailed also with her husband, to transfer the dukedom from Demetrius the son of John deceased, to Gabriel his eldest by her.
Gabriel, no sooner duke, but changed his name to Basilius, and set his mind to do nobly; he recovered great part of Moscovy from Vitoldus duke of Lithuania; and on the Boristhenes won Smolensko and many other cities in the year 1514. He divorced his first wife, and of Helena daughter to duke Glinski begat Juan Vasiliwich.
Juan Vasiliwich, being left a child, was committed to George his uncle and protector; at twenty-five years of age he vanquished the Tartars of Cazan and Astracan, bringing home with him their princes captive; made cruel war in Livonia, pretending right of inheritance. He seemed exceedingly devout; and whereas the Russians in their churches use out of zeal and reverence to knock their heads against the ground, his forehead was seldom free of swellings and bruises, and very often seen to bleed. The cause of his rigour in government he alleged to be the malice and treachery of his subjects. But some of the nobles,* incited by his cruelty, called in the Crim Tartar, who in the year 1571 broke into Russia, burnt Mosco to the ground. He reigned fifty-four years, had three sons, of which the eldest, being strook on a time by his father, with great grief thereof died; his other sons were Pheodor and Demetrius. In the time of Juan Vasiliwich the English came first by sea into the north parts of Russia.
Pheodor Juanowich, being under age, was left to the protection of Boris, brother to the young empress, and third son by adoption in the emperor’s will.† After forty days of mourning, the appointed time of coronation being come, the emperor issuing out of his palace,‡ the whole clergy before him, entered with his nobility the church of Blaveshina or blessedness; whence after service to the church of Michael, then to our lady church, being the cathedral. In midst whereof a chair was placed, and most unvaluable garments put upon him; there also was the imperial crown set on his head by the metropolitan, who out of a small book in his hand read exhortations to the emperor of justice and peaceable government. After this, rising from his chair he was invested with an upper robe, so thick with orient pearls and stones, as weighed two hundred pounds, the train born up by six dukes; his staff imperial was of a unicorn’s horn three foot and a half long, beset with rich stones; his globe and six crowns carried before him by princes of the blood; his horse at the church door stood ready with a covering of embroidered pearl, saddle and all suitable, to the value of three hundred thousand marks. There was a kind of bridge made three ways, one hundred and fifty fathom long, three foot high, two fathom broad, whereon the emperor with his train went from one church to another above the infinite throng of people making loud acclamations: at the emperor’s returning from those churches they were spread underfoot with cloth of gold, the porches with red velvet, the bridges with scarlet and stammel cloth, all which, as the emperor passed by, were cut and snatched by them that stood next; besides new minted coins of gold and silver cast among the people. The empress in her palace was placed before a great open window in rich and shining robes, among her ladies. After this the emperor came into parliament, where he had a banquet served by his nobles in princely order; two standing on either side his chair with battleaxes of gold; three of the next rooms great and large, being set round with plate of gold and silver, from the ground up to the roof. This triumph lasted a week, wherein many royal pastimes were seen; after which, election was made of the nobles to new offices and dignities. The conclusion of all was a peal of one hundred and seventy brass ordnance two miles without the city, and twenty thousand harquebuzes twice over; and so the emperor with at least fifty thousand horse returned through the city to his palace, where all the nobility, officers, and merchants brought him rich presents. Shortly after the emperor, by direction of Boris, conquered the large country of Siberia, and took prisoner the king thereof; he removed also corrupt officers and former taxes. In sum, a great alteration in the government followed, yet all quietly and without tumult. These things reported abroad strook such awe into the neighbour kings, that the Crim Tartar, with his wives also, and many nobles valiant and personable men, came to visit the Russian. There came also twelve hundred Polish gentlemen, many Circassians, and people of other nations, to offer service; embassadors from the Turk, the Persian, Georgian, and other Tartar princes; from Almany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark. But this glory lasted not long, through the treachery of Boris, who procured the death first of Demetrius, then of the emperor himself, whereby the imperial race, after the succession of three hundred years was quite extinguished.
Boris adopted, as before was said, third son to Juan Vasiliwich, without impeachment now ascended the throne; but neither did he enjoy long what he had so wickedly compassed, divine revenge rising up against him a counterfeit of that Demetrius, whom he had caused to be murdered at Ouglets.* This upstart, strengthened with many Poles and Cossacks, appears in arms to claim his right out of the hands of Boris, who sent against him an army of two hundred thousand men, many of whom revolted to this Demetrius: Peter Basnam, the general, returning to Mosco with the empty triumph of a reported victory. But the enemy still advancing, Boris one day, after a plentiful meal, finding himself heavy and pained in the stomach, laid him down on his bed; but ere his doctors, who made great haste, came to him, was found speechless, and soon after died with grief, as is supposed, of his ill success against Demetrius. Before his death, though it were speedy, he would be shorn, and new christened. He had but one son, whom he loved so fondly, as not to suffer him out of sight; using to say he was lord and father of his son, and yet his servant, yea, his slave. To gain the people’s love, which he had lost by his ill getting the empire, he used two policies; first he caused Mosco to be fired in four places, that in the quenching thereof he might show his great care and tenderness of the people; among whom he likewise distributed so much of his bounty, as both new built their houses, and repaired their losses. At another time the people murmuring, that the great pestilence, which had then swept away a third part of the nation, was the punishment of their electing him, a murderer, to reign over them, he built galleries round about the utmost wall of Mosco, and there appointed for one whole month twenty thousand pound to be given to the poor, which well nigh stopped their mouths. After the death of Boris, Peter Basman their only hope and refuge, though a young man, was sent again to the wars, with him many English, Scots, French, and Dutch; who all with the other general Goleeche fell off to the new Demetrius, whose messengers, coming now to the suburbs of Mosco, were brought by the multitude to that spacious field before the castle gate, within which the council were then sitting, many of whom were by the people’s threatening called out, and constrained to hear the letters of Demetrius openly read: which, long ere the end wrought so with the multitude, that furiously they broke into the castle, laying violence on all they met; when straight appeared coming towards them two messengers of Demetrius formerly sent, pitifully whipped and roasted, which added to their rage. Then was the whole city in an uproar, all the great counsellors’ houses ransacked, especially of the Godonovas, the kindred and family of Boris. Such of the nobles that were best beloved by entreaty prevailed at length to put an end to this tumult. The empress, flying to a safer place, had her collar of pearl pulled from her neck; and by the next message command was given to secure her, with her son and daughter. Whereupon Demetrius by general consent was proclaimed emperor. The empress, now seeing all lost, counselled the prince her son to follow his father’s example, who, it seems, had dispatched himself by poison; and with a desperate courage beginning the deadly health, was pledged effectually by her son; but the daughter only sipping, escaped. Others ascribe this deed to the secret command of Demetrius, and self-murder imputed to them, to avoid the envy of such a command.
Demetrius Evanowich, for so he called himself, who succeeded,* was credibly reported the son of Gregory Peupoloy a Russe gentleman, and in his younger years to have been shorn a friar, but escaping from the monastery, to have travelled Germany and other countries, but chiefly Poland: where he attained to good sufficiency in arms and other experience; which raised in him such high thoughts, as, grounding on a common belief among the Russians that the young Demetrius was not dead, but conveyed away, and their hatred against Boris, on this foundation, with some other circumstances, to build his hopes no lower than an empire; which on his first discovery found acceptation so generally, as planted him at length on the royal seat: but not so firmly as the fair beginning promised; for in a short while the Russians finding themselves abused by an impostor, on the sixth day after his marriage, observing when his guard of Poles were most secure, rushing into the palace before break of day, dragged him out of his bed, and when he had confessed the fraud, pulled him to pieces; with him Peter Basman was also slain, and both their dead bodies laid open in the market-place. He was of no presence, but otherwise of a princely disposition; too bountiful, which occasioned some exactions; in other matters a great lover of justice, not unworthy the empire which he had gotten, and lost only through greatness of mind, neglecting the conspiracy, which he knew the Russians were plotting. Some say their hatred grew, for that they saw him alienated from the Russian manners and religion, having made Buchinskoy a learned protestant his secretary. Some report from Gilbert’s relation, who was a Scot, a captain of his guard, that lying on his bed awake, not long before the conspiracy, he saw the appearance of an aged man coming toward him, at which he rose, and called to them that watched; but they denied to have seen any such pass by them. He returning to his bed, and within an hour after, troubled again with the same apparition, sent for Buchinskoy, telling him he had now twice the same night seen an aged man, who at his second coming told him, that though he were a good prince of himself, yet for the injustice and oppression of his inferior ministers, his empire should be taken from him. The secretary counselled him to embrace true religion, affirming that for lack thereof his officers were so corrupt. The emperor seemed to be much moved, and to intend what was persuaded him. But a few days after, the other secretary, a Russian, came to him with a drawn sword, of which the emperor made slight at first; but he after bold words assaulted him, straight seconded by other conspirators, crying liberty. Gilbert, with many of the guard, oversuddenly surprised, retreated to Coluga, a town which they fortified; most of the other strangers were massacred, except the English, whose mediation saved also Buchinskoy. Shusky, who succeeded him, reports in a letter to king James otherwise of him; that his right name was Gryshca the son of Boughdan; that to escape punishment for villanies done, he turned friar, and fell at last to the black art; and fearing that the metropolitan intended therefore to imprison him, fled into Lettow; where by counsel of Sigismund the Poland king, he began to call himself Demetry of Onglitts; and by many libels and spies privily sent into Mosco, gave out the same; that many letters and messengers thereupon were sent from Boris into Poland, and from the patriarch, to acquaint him who the runagate was: but the Polanders giving them no credit, furnished him the more with arms and money, notwithstanding the league; and sent the palatine Sandamersko and other lords to accompany him into Russia, gaining also a prince of the Crim Tartars to his aid; that the army of Boris, hearing of his sudden death, yielded to this Gryshca, who, taking to wife a daughter of Sandamersko, attempted to root out the Russian clergy, and to bring in the Romish religion, for which purpose many Jesuits came along with him. Whereupon Shusky with the nobles and metropolitans, conspiring against him, in half a year gathered all the forces of Moscovia, and surprising him, found in writing under his own hand all these his intentions; letters also from the pope and cardinals to the same effect, not only to set up the religion of Rome, but to force it upon all, with death to them that refused.
Vasily Evanowich Shusky,* after the slaughter of Demetry or Gryshca, was elected emperor, having not long before been at the block for reporting to have seen the true Demetrius dead and buried; but Gryshca not only recalled him, but advanced him to be the instrument of his own ruin. He was then about the age of fifty; nobly descended, never married, of great wisdom reputed, a favourer of the English; for he saved them from rifling in the former tumults. Some say† he modestly refused the crown, till by lot four times together it fell to him; yet after that, growing jealous of his title, removed by poison and other means all the nobles, that were like to stand his rivals; and is said to have consulted with witches of the Samoëds, Lappians, and Tartarians, about the same fears; and being warned of one Michalowich, to have put to death three of that name, yet a fourth was reserved by fate to succeed him, being then a youth attendant in the court, one of those that held the golden axes, and least suspected. But before that time he also was supplanted by another reviving Demetrius brought in by the Poles; whose counterfeited hand, and strange relating of privatest circumstances, had almost deceived Gilbert himself, had not their persons been utterly unlike; but Gryshca’s wife so far believed him for her husband, as to receive him to her bed. Shusky, besieged in his castle of Mosco, was adventurously supplied with some powder and ammunition by the English; and with two thousand French, English and Scots, with other forces from Charles king of Sweden. The English,* after many miseries of cold and hunger, and assaults by the way, deserted by the French, yielded most of them to the Pole near Smolensko, and served him against the Russ.† Meanwhile this second Demetrius, being now rejected by the Poles, with those Russians that sided with him, laid siege to Mosco; Zolkiewsky, for Sigismund king of Poland, beleaguers on the other side with forty thousand men; whereof fifteen hundred English, Scotch, and French. Shusky, despairing success, betakes him to a monastery; but with the city is yielded to the Pole; who turns now his force against the counterfeit Demetrius; he seeking to fly is by a Tartar slain in his camp. Smolenkso held out a siege of two years, then surrendered. Shusky the emperor carried away into Poland, there ended miserably in prison. But before his departure out of Muscovy, the Polanders in his name sending for the chief nobility as to a last farewell, cause them to be entertained in a secret place and there dispatched: by this means the easier to subdue the people. Yet the Poles were starved at length out of those places in Mosco, which they had fortified. Wherein the Russians, who besieged them, found, as is reported, sixty barrels of man’s flesh powdered, being the bodies of such as died among them, or were slain in fight.
After which the empire of Russia broke to pieces,‡ the prey of such as could catch, every one naming himself, and striving to be accounted, that Demetrius of Ouglitts. Some chose Uladislaus King Sigismund’s son, but he not accepting, they fell to a popular government; killing all the nobles under pretence of favouring the Poles. Some overtures of receiving them were made, as some say, to King James, and Sir John Meric and Sir William Russell employed therein. Thus Russia remaining in this confusion, it happened that a mean man, a butcher, dwelling in the north about Duina, inveighing against the baseness of their nobility,§ and the corruption of officers, uttered words, that if they would but choose a faithful treasurer to pay well the soldiers, and a good general, (naming one Pozarsky, a poor gentleman, who after good service done, lived not far off retired and neglected,) that then he doubted not to drive out the Poles. The people assent, and choose that general; the butcher they make their treasurer; who both so well discharged their places, that with an army soon gathered they raise the siege of Mosco, which the Polanders had renewed; and with Boris Licin, another great soldier of that country, fall into consultation about the choice of an emperor, and choose at last Michalowich, or Michael Pheodorowich, the fatal youth, whose name Shusky so feared.
Michael Pheodorowich* thus elected by the valour of Pozarsky and Boris Licin, made them both generals of his forces, joining with them another great commander of the Cossacks, whose aid had much befriended him; the butcher also was made a counsellor of state. Finally, a peace was made up between the Russians and the Poles; and that partly by the mediation of King James.
[† ]Hack. vol. i. p. 221.
[* ]Horsey’s Observations.
[† ]Haok. vol. 466.
[* ]Post Christ. 1604 Purch. part. 3. p. 750.
[* ]Purch. part 3. p. 764.
[* ]Post Christ. 1606.
[† ]Purch. part 3. p. 769, &c.
[* ]Post Christ. 1609.
[† ]Purch. 779.
[‡ ]Post Christ. 1612.
[§ ]Purch. part. 3. 790.
[* ]Post Christ. 1613.