Basil of Muscovy - Encyclopedia


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BASIL IvANOVicx (1479-1533), tsar of Muscovy, son of Ivan III. and Sophia Palaeologa, succeeded his father in 1505.

A crafty prince, with all the tenacity of his race, Basil succeeded in incorporating with Muscovy the last remnants of the ancient independent principalities, by accusing the princes of Ryazan and Syeversk of conspiracy against him, seizing their persons, and annexing their domains (1517-1523). Seven years earlier (24th of January 1510) the last free republic of old Russia, Pskov, was deprived of its charter and assembly-bell, which were sent to Moscow, and tsarish governors were appointed to rule it. Basil also took advantage of the difficult position of Sigismund of Poland to capture Smolensk, the great eastern fortress of Poland (1512), chiefly through the aid of the rebel Lithuanian, Prince Michael Glinsky, who provided him with artillery and engineers from western Europe. The loss of Smolensk was the first serious injury inflicted by Muscovy on Poland and only the exigencies of Sigismund compelled him to acquiesce in its surrender (1522). Equally successful, on the whole, was Basil against the Tatars. Although in 1519 he was obliged to buy off the khan of the Crimea, Mahommed Girai, under the very walls of Moscow, towards the end of his reign he established the Russian influence on the Volga, and in 1530 placed the pretender Elanyei on the throne of Kazan. Basil was the first grand-duke of Moscow who adopted the title of tsar and the double-headed eagle of the East Roman empire. By his second wife, Helena Glinska, whom he married in 1526, Basil had a son Ivan, who succeeded him as Ivan IV.

See Sigismund Herberstain, Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii (Vienna, 1 549); P. A. Byelov, Russian History Previous to the Reforms of Peter the Great (Russ.), (Petersburg, 1895); E. I. Kashprovsky, The War of Basil III. with Sigismund I. (Russ.), (Nyezhin, 1899).

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