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The history of Russia after 1126 down to the Mongol conquest 1240 is a welter of civil wars, nomad incursions, incapable and selfish rulers, increasing disunion; and under such adverse conditions the country was progressively impoverished. In forty four years eighteen princes sat on the throne of Kíev, i.e. up to the sack of Kíev by the Northern federation. It is better to survey the course of this long senescence and pass over the particular symptoms.

p. xxiii

The short reign of Mstíslav I (1125-1132) is principally notable for the reoccupation of the principality of Polotsk, the princes of which were banished to Greece for their evil customs [Злонранвіе]. After Vséslav's death subdivision and anarchy ensued, and the Polotsk princes, barbarous beyond the conventions of the time, used to sell their own subjects into slavery. Izyasláv Vladímirovič was temporarily installed at Polotsk. [C.f. 1.534 of the text].

Yaropólk II, his brother (1132-1139) arranged that his nephew Izyaslûv Mstislavič should succeed him at Kíev, thus abrogating the rights of the surviving sons of Vladímir II. Vsévolod Ólgovič interposed; (the house of Černígov was glad of the broils of the Monomákhoviči). Yúri of Súzdal, the founder of the Northern house of the Tsars of Moscow, claimed Kíev, and for three years 1154-1157 was Grand-Prince; meantime civil strife was incessant, in the course of which the Ólgovič Vsévolod II usurped the throne from 1139-1146.

Yúri of Suzdal was a hard calculating character, unscrupulous with the coldness that distinguishes the Northern princes of Suzdal and Vladímir from their Southern predecessors. The Princes of Smolénsk, Černígov and Volhynia rose against his rule in the year of his death 1157.

From this date down to 1240, when the Tatars sacked Kíev, no less than thirty princes held the perilous throne of Kíev, a title soon to be devoid of honour or significance.

Next: The Fall of Kíev and Rise of Suzdal and Moscow