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daunted by adverse circumstances. She convoked the States of Hungary, and taking her infant son in her arms, addressed the assembly in Latin, the idiom of the States—' I place in your hands,' she said,' the daughter and son of your kings. They look to you for succor, and depend on you for safety.'
The Hungarian nobles, too chivalrous to resist such an appeal from such lips, drew their glittering swords, and exclaimed with one accord, 'we will die for our Queen,' and levied an army which brought her enemies to reason. At length, after an English army had won the battle of Dettingen, and Charles VII had been removed by death, peace was restored, and the husband of the popular Queen was raised, in 1745, to the Imperial throne, with the title of Francis I. But, in 1756, the Seven Years' War breaking out between France and England, Maria Theresa, regretting the cession of Selesia to the Prussian King, flattered the vanity of Madame Pompadour, and secured the aid of France. The skill and intrepid courage of Frederick prevailed, and after seven bloody campaigns, he signed a peace with the Empress-Queen.
On the death of his father, Joseph, the son of Maria Theresa, ascended tiie Imperial throne, and issued some oppressive edicts against the Netherlands, which his grandfather had acquired at the close of the Spanish war. The inhabitants had been contented under the rule of Maria Theresa, but revolted at Joseph's tyranny; and terrible was the punishment. Their houses were ruthlessly entered at midnight; women and their infants were slain with one bayonet, and their husbands were, without trial, carried ofif prisoners to Vienna on the banks of the Danube. These cruelties prompted the Netherlands to declare themselves forever released from Austrian sway, and to treat every offer of indemnity with contempt.
This Emperor's conduct was otherwise praiseworthy; he abolished the system of torture, with servitude and villeinage, granted a liberal toleration in religion, and was easy and affable in communicating with his subjects. He was succeeded in 1790 by his brother Leopold, who, during his brief reign, restored tranquillity in the Netherlands, and was hesitating about the course he should pursue toward revolutionary France, when he died in 1792.
Francis H then succeeded his father, and took a conspicuous part in the struggle, as has already been related. But in 1806, when fourteen . princes of Germany formed the Confederation of the Rhine, and acknowledged the victorious Napoleon as their protector, Francis, finding himself deprived of all his honors as head of the Germanic body, abandoned the ancient title, and styled himself Emperor of Austria.
When Napoleon, after making the kings of the earth bow down before his mighty energies, fell in 1814, Vienna, the capital of the new empire, was the scene of one of the most important assemblies of modern days. There the Emperors of Austria and Russia, the King of Prussia, and many of the Germanic princes, met the representatives of England and France, to establish the territorial limits of the Continental States upon recognized principles of international policy. That was the celebrated Congress of Vienna; and while withholding the Netherlands from Austria, it restored Lombardy, and added thereto all the ancient possessions of the far-famed Venetian republic. The Germanic Confederation was likewise dealt with, and something done toward harmonizing the interests of the independent states into a nationality.
The Emperor Francis died in 1835, after an eventful reign of fortythree years, leaving his dominions to his son Ferdinand, under the auspices of the profound Metternich. But during the revolutionary epoch of 1848, while the Hungarians were in arms to assert their independence, he abdicated; and his brother declining to accept the Imperial crown, it came to the son of the latter, Francis Joseph, who thereupon assumed the titles of Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.
HISTORY OF RUSSIA.
While England, under the first of her Scottish kings, was falling from the high estate she had occupied under her native princes; while in France the genius of Richelieu was making itself felt; while the glory was departing from the Spanish monarchy; while the Thirty Years' War was beginning to desolate Germany; while the illustrious career of Gustavus Adolphus was opening upon Sweden; and while the warriors of Turkey were yet terrible to the nations of Europe, Michael Theodoriwitz, earliest of the dynasty of Romanoff, became Czar of Muscovy. His dominions were uncultivated, his subjects barbarous, and the country was in the utmost disorder; for on the extinction of the male line of the former Czars—the posterity of John Basilowitz, who had redeemed Russia from the Tartars— no fewer than five pretenders had aspired to the vacant throne, and involved the realm in civil war. But Michael, proving worthy of his elevation, reigned for more than thirty years, maintained his position with dignity, and beqeathed the crown to his heir.
Alexis, the son of Michael, succeeded in 1645, and applied himself with vigor to the harsh duties of reform. The necessity was indeed pressing; for Muscovy was still little better than a ferocious anarchy; and the capital was kept in perpetual consternation by the capricious violence of the Strelitzes—a militia formed in imitation of the celebrated Turkish Janizaries. But the new Czar proved himself an able ruler, and did much to create order. He published a code of laws, purified the courts of justice, restrained the power of the boyards over their serfs, and afforded much encouragement to agriculture and manufactures.
Toward the close of his reign Alexis was deprived by death of his first wife; and though he had a family of sons and daughters, the Czar determined upon a second matrimonial speculation. According to the fashion then pursued by the rulers of Russia, Alexis issued a proclamation inviting all the most beautiful damsels in his dominions, irrespective of their social condition, to repair to Moscow that he might select a fitting bride. Among the rest came a lady named Natalie. She, having attracted the eye of Alexis, was forthwith exalted to the dignity of Czarina; and, in due time, she became the mother of a prince who afterward rendered himself famous as Peter the Great.
When Alexis expired in 1676, he left, besides Peter, then a mere child, two sons, Theodore and Ivan, and a daughter, Sophia, who ere long played a conspicuous part in Russian affairs. Theodore, a sickly youth, inherited his father's crown, but did not survive to wear it more than a few years. On his death-bed he summoned the boyards to his presence, and recommended them to set aside Ivan on account of his bodily infirmities, and intrust the sceptre to the youthful Peter. To this scheme Sophia, who united much personal beauty with a strong will and a vaulting ambition, was vehemently opposed; and her smiles so completely won over the Captain of Strelitzes, and fascinated the populace, that the incapable Ivan was 6eated on the throne, while she assumed the functions of government. The widowed Czarina and her son, after being besieged in their palace, fled from the city, and sought an asylum in the Convent of Trinity; but they had scarcely taken refuge within its walls, when the soldiers of Sophia were heard clamoring at the outer gate. At this crisis a lucky thought crossed the agitated brain of the trembling Czarina. She placed her son on the high altar; and when the soldiers effected an entrance, the Superior of the Convent, pointing to the boy, exclaimed, 'Behold him! there he is with God.' The soldiers were touched with awe, till one of them, less scrupulous than his fellows, after a pause stepped forward, and brandished his weapon to strike the child. But a monk, arresting his arm, thrust him back, saying with calm solemnity, 'Not in this sacred place.' At that moment the tread of cavalry was again heard, and the Superior having exclaimed, 'Here come our friends at last; let the enemies of God and the Czar tremble,' the edifice was speedily cleared of intruders, and the royal boy's life providentially saved:
The son of Natalie had other perils to encounter on the threshold of life. At an obscure village, situated at a distance from Moscow, he was surrounded by a number of most profligate youths to corrupt his morals and debase his mind. But, instead of falling into the snare, Peter persuaded his comrades to have recourse to manly sports and martial exercises; he formed them into a small military force; and in this juvenile regiment, taking rank only as a private, he wrought his way gradually to command.
About this time Le Fort and Gordon, two adventurers of mark and likelihood, appeared in Russia. Le Fort was a native of Geneva, and had" been originally destined for commercial pursuits; but with a soul above such matters, he had followed the bent of his inclination, and betaken himself to a military career. Gordon was of a different stamp, being the cadet of a Cavalier family in Scotland, who had in youth left his native soil to win fame and fortune, and who had served with the Swedes and Poles. Peter now attached these distinguished soldiers of fortune to his cause; and they rendered him most valuable aid in his schemes for the creation of that power which is now regarded, as one of the most pernicious elements in European society.
When Peter had attained his seventeenth year he took to himself a wife; and this step so alarmed the aspiring Sophia, that in her haste she assumed the title of Empress, and dispatched a force to arrest the bridegroom. But her indications of enmity created such a ferment among the young hero's friends, that, in 1689, they compelled the haughty princess to abandon the struggle and retired to a convent, while Peter was installed as Czar.
Ambitious of learning the art of governing his people and of ameliorating their condition, Peter, in the company of Le Fort, who figured as ambassador, left his dominions to acquire information in foreign lands
After visiting Berlin, he repaired to Holland, studied commerce at Amsterdam, and wrought as an ordinary shipwright in the docks of Saardam. He then passed over to England to complete his knowledge; and carried with him from Deptford, which he visited as a simple mechanic, sailors and artificers, whom he afterward promoted to places of honor and command in Russia.
On returning home it became the chief object of the Czar Peter to teach his barbarous subjects the* art of civilized war, and to form a regularly disciplined army. And in Charles XII of Sweden he found an antagonist whose courage and enthusiasm called forth all his genius. In their first conflicts the Swedish monarch was triumphant, but Peter did not therefore blanch. 'I knew,' said he, after being defeated at Narva, 'that the Swedes would beat us; but in time they will teach us to become their conquerors.' He soon after recovered Narva by a skillful assault, and then applied his energies to the building of that remarkable town so intimately associated with his celebrity as a ruler.
The Czar, in realizing his project, made choice of a singular site. Between Finland and Ingria was a marshy island, which during summer was a heap of mud and in winter a frozen pool. Growling bears and howling wolves had hitherto haunted the spot; but, resolute in his purpose, the Czar, bringing men from all parts of his realm, cleared forests, formed roads, erected mounds, and laid the foundation of St. Petersburg. Though inundations demolished the works, and fever carried off the workmen, the Czar persevered in the undertaking; and in 1714 he removed the council thither from Moscow, the ancient capital.
A few years passed over; and Peter assuming the title of Emperor of all the Russias, was formally acknowledged as such by the various powers of Europe. He established order throughout his dominions, provided education for youth, and adopted many useful reforms. But his temper was still so despotic, and his nature so fierce, that when Alexis, his son and heir, offended him by a dissolute life, and by opposing his schemes of civilization, the Czar ordered that he should suffer death. Peter himself expired in 1725, and was succeeded on the throne by his second spouse, the Czarina.
Catharine, originally a Livonian captive, exercised the functions of government with credit for the next three years, and was succeeded by Peter II, a son of the murdered Alexis. This Czar only reigned for a brief period; and the male line of the Romanoffs thus becoming extinct, the Russians elevated to the vacant throne Anne, duchess of Courtland, the second daughter of the Czar Peter's brother. The reign of Anne was happy and prosperous; but on her decease there took place a struggle for the succession, which terminated in the proclamation of Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter the Great, and in the imprisonment of her rivals. Her reign was particularly fortunate. A war with Sweden was brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and the Czarina's fleets and armies were every where victorious. Russia, under the auspices of Elizabeth, took an important part in the Seven Years' War, and the position of Frederick the Great had gradually become one of the extreme peril, when the Empress died in 1762, and the throne was inherited by her nephew Peter III.
Peter who was animated by an enthusiastic admiration of the Prussian King's talent and courage, immediately consented to a peace, and the new reign commenced auspiciously. The nobles and gentry were freed from vassalage, and placed on an equality with those in other countries; and the laborers were, to some extent, relieved from the burden of taxation. But being a Lutheran, Peter shocked the clergy by his contempt for the Greek Church, while he offended the army by his partiality for the Holstein Guards, and thus raised up a host of foes. The unfortunate Emperor had made another enemy, still more uncompromising. Before coming to the throne he had espoused Catharine, a princess of Anhalt Zerbst, a woman of great ability and boundless ambition. Their tastes, habits, and dispositions, were, however, utterly dissimilar ; and fierce quarrels arising between them, Peter became so deeply enamored of the Countess of Woronzoff, that ere long a rumor crept about of his intention to shut up the Empress in prison and raise the Countess to share his throne. The rumor cost him dear ; for while he was seeking consolation in the society of the lady of his heart, Catharine marched against the devoted Czar at the head of a strong party, proclaimed that he had ceased to reign, and threw him into prison, where he soon after breathed his last, under suspicious circumstances.
The masculine Empress then ascended the Russian throne with the title of Catharine II, and commenced her reign by flattering the prejudices which her illfated husband had so fatally wounded. But a large share of her attention was speedily bestowed upon the affairs of Poland. When Augustus, king of that illfated country, expired at Dresden in 1763, the Empress, by the influence of Russian bayonets, procured the election of Stanislaus Augustus, one of her former favorites. Almost from the opening of the reign, Poland was the scene of disorder and desolation; for Catherine, having transported to Siberia a number of senators hostile to her designs, roused the indignant spirit of the nation. A band of patriotic Poles, seizing on Cracow and Bar, formed a league for their deliverance from a foreign yoke, and implored assistance from Louis XV. Fifteen hundred Frenchmen, under Dumouriez, marched to the assistance of the confederates, and Turkey took part in the quarrel. But the Russians were completely victorious; Bender was captured; the Turkish fleet was destroyed; and the Crimea was annexed to Catherine's dominions. Flushed with success, and unscrupulous by nature, the Empress projected the dismemberment of Poland, forced her scheme upon Maria Theresa, and in 1772 entered into a treaty of partition with the rulers of Austria and Prussia. The Polish Diet was intimidated by menaces; and the several provinces, about one-third of the Polish territory, which had been allotted to the spoilers, were surrendered.
Scarcely had the Russian Empress perpetrated this piece of ruthless injustice, when she was alarmed by the serious rebellion of a Cossack, who, assuming the name and character of her dead husband, pretended that he had escaped from the hands of those employed to assassinate him. The Cossack bore a striking resemblance to the deceased Czar, and was successful in arraying a considerable band of followers under his banner. He boldly took the field, and, possessing both skill and valor, was for a time victorious over the generals of Catherine. But at length he was totally defeated, taken prisoner, carried to Moscow in an iron cage, and beheaded as a traitor.
Danger soon arose from another quarter. After undertaking one of the most pompous processions on record to be crowned at Cherson, Catharine, on her return to St. Petersburg, was disturbed by a declaration of war on