Page 1303

1303 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-NORTHERN KINGDOMS.

To this epoch belong the beginnings of art

and learning in the Northern Empire. The

works of the Greeks began to be translated into Slavic. Learned institutions were

founded in various cities, and scholars were

patronized and honored. The Russian customs and usages were compiled into a code

of laws, and amicable relations were established with foreign states. Three of the

daughters of Yaroslav were taken in marriage by the kings of Norway, Hungary,

and France-a clear recognition of the rank

of the new Russian Empire among the

kingdoms of the earth.

In the year 1051 Yaroslav established

the succession on his son Izaslav, but portions of the Empire were to go to the three

brothers of the heir expectant. They were

to acknowledge the eldest as their sovereign.

In the same year the Emperor died, and

the four brothers took the inheritance.

The result was that the unity of the Empire

was broken. Each of the rulers became

independent; the feudal principle came in,

and Russia was reduced to a confederation. Thus weakened, the frontiers were

successfully assailed by the Poles, Lithuanians, Danes, and Teutonic barons. Such

was the condition of affairs when Europe

forgot her own turmoil and sorrows in a

common animosity against the Infidels of

the East.

In close ethnic affinity with the Russians were the primitive Slavic tribes

of Poland. Of these peoples the most

numerous and powerful were the Polans,

who ultimately gave a name to the amalgamated race. The mythical hero of this

branch of European population was Prince

Lech, brother to Rus and Czech, so that

tradition as well as history associates the

Poles and the Russians. Another fabulous

leader was Krakus, the reputed founder of

Cracow. The first historical ruler of Poland

was Ziemowit, who was elected king in 860.

But the annals of the first century of

Poland are very obscure, and it is not until 962 that we reach the solid ground of

authenticity with the accession of Miecislas. This prince took in marriage a Bohemian princess, by whom he was induced

to become a Christian and to urge upon

his people the abandonment of paganism.

In common with so many other rulers of

his times he adopted the fatal policy of dividing his kingdom among his sons. Civil

wars and turmoil ensued until what time

Boleslas, the eldest of the claimants, subdued his brothers and regained the sovereignty of all Poland. He received the

surname of the Brave, and vindicated his

title by successful wars beyond the Oder,

the Dneister, and the Carpathian mountains. His right to reign was acknowledged

by the Emperor Otho III, but at a later

date he engaged in war with Otho's successor, Henry II. Afterwards he was called

into Russia as arbiter between Novgorod

and Kiev. In the civil administration he

was still more successful than in war. He

encouraged the industrial and commercial

enterprises of the kingdom and promoted

the cause of learning. He held his turbulent subjects with a strong hand and administered justice ,with impartiality. He

assumed the state of a king, and had himself crowned by the Christian bishops. On

his death, in the year 1025, the Polish crown

descended peaceably to his son Miecislas II,

whose brief reign was followed by the regency