Part VI

In 1456 y., Vasily II the Dark (Blind), Grand Prince of Moscow, defeated Novgorod's forces which took the field in support of Dmitry Shemiaka's claim to the throne of Moscow. According to the peace treaty signed after that conflict, Novgorod lost some of its sovereignty, and the city was to pay an enormous contribution to the Grand Prince of Moscow. So great was the sum that its payment occasioned a temporary lapse in construction. Literary activity, however, lost none of its former vigour. The Lord Archbishop then in office, Jonah, a skilful statesman, cleverly balanced between the extremist tendencies of the Novgorod boyars and the ever increasing pressure from Moscow. During his rule, Pachomius the Serbian made his second visit to Novgorod. This time he was commissioned to write the Lives and to compile church services not only for local saints but also for those venerated throughout Russia.

At the end of 1470 y. or the beginning of 1471 y., the ruling faction of the Novgorod boyars, headed by Marfa Boretskaya, widow of a Novgorodian posadnik, and her sons, formed an alliance with Casimir IV, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. A Lithuanian prince, Mikhail Olelkovich, soon arrived in Novgorod. Ivan III, regarding these negotiations as treasonable, began to prepare for military action. In 1471 y., he held a great council with the ruling class represented by men from each of its sections: the clergy, the Grand Prince's brothers, the boyars, the military commanders and warriors. The council resolved on a campaign against Novgorod. Ivan III took care to lend this campaign the character of a joint action by all Russian principalities.

A battle was fought on the Shelon River on 14 July 1471 y. The Novgorod force was completely routed, most of the Novgorodians fighting only half - heartedly against an army of Russians assembled under the banners of Ivan III from every part of the land.

The battle on the Shelon proved fatal to Novgorod's autonomy. Novgorod was forced to recognize the suzerainty of Moscow, to pay an enormous contribution and to give up an independent foreign policy. Nevertheless, in September 1477 y. further decisive measures against the anti - Muscovite boyar faction of Novgorod were required. Ivan III undertook a second campaign, this time marching up to the city itself. The 1477 y. campaign was attended by much formal display, with the army accompanied by great numbers of the clergy. The suppression of Novgorod's independence was seen not as a conquest but as a step towards the unification of all ancestral Russian lands "under the sceptre of the God - anointed monarch of All Russia".

Ivan Ill's second campaign put an end to Novgorod's independence for good. A new order was established after the Moscow pattern. The Veche Bell was taken down and carried to Moscow, where it was set on a belfry to be rung along with all other bells.