Basil II the Blind - Encyclopedia


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BASIL II., called TEMNY ("the Blind") (1415-1462), Sod of the preceding, succeeded his father as grand-duke of Moscow in 1425. He was a man of small ability and unusual timidity, though not without tenacity of purpose. Nevertheless, during his reign Moscow steadily increased in power, as if to show that the personality of the grand-dukes had become quite a subordinate factor in its development. In 1430 Basil was seized by his uncle, George of Halicz, and sent a prisoner to Kostroma; but the nation, dissatisfied with George, released Basil and in 1 433 he returned in triumph to Moscow. George, however, took the field against him and Basil fled to Novgorod. On the death of George, Basil was at constant variance with George's children, one of whom, Basil, he had blinded; but in 5445 the grand-duke fell into the hands of blind Basil's brother, Shemyak, and was himself deprived of his sight and banished to Uglich (1445) The clergy and people, however, being devoted to the grand-duke, assisted him not only to recover his throne a second time, but to put Shemyak to flight, and to seize Halicz, his patrimony. During the remainder of Basil II.'s reign he slowly and unobtrusively added district after district to the grand-duchy of Muscovy, so that, in fine, only the republics of Novgorod and Pskov and the principalities of Tver and Vereya remained independent of Moscow. Yet all this time the realm was overrun continually by the Tatars and Lithuanians, and suffered severely from their depredations. Basil's reign saw the foundation of the Solovetsk monastery and the rise of the khanate of the Crimea. In 1448 the north Russian Church became virtually independent of the patriarchal see of Constantinople by adopting the practice of selecting its metropolitan from among native priests and prelates exclusively.

See S. M. Solovev, History of Russia (Russ.), (Petersburg, 1895).

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