Vasili III of Russia

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Vasili III Ivanovich (Russian: Василий III Иванович , also Basil) (25 March 1479 – 3 December 1533, Moscow) was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil (Гавриил). He had three brothers; Yuri, born in 1480, Simeon, born in 1487 and Andrei, born in 1490, as well as five sisters: Elena (born and died in 1474), Feodosiya (born and died in 1475), another Elena (born 1476), another Feodosiya (born 1485) and Eudoxia (born 1492)..[1]

Contents

Foreign affairs

Vasili III continued the policies of his father Ivan III and spent most of his reign consolidating Ivan's gains. Vasili annexed the last surviving autonomous provinces: Pskov in 1510, appanage of Volokolamsk in 1513, principalities of Ryazan in 1521 and Novgorod-Seversky in 1522.

Vasili also took advantage of the difficult position of Sigismund of Poland to capture Smolensk, the great eastern fortress of Lithuania (siege started 1512, ended in 1514), chiefly through the aid of the rebel Lithuanian, Prince Mikhail Hlinski, who provided him with artillery and engineers. The loss of Smolensk was an important injury inflicted by Russia on Lithuania in the course of the Russo-Lithuanian Wars and only the exigencies of Sigismund compelled him to acquiesce in its surrender (1522).

Equally successful were Vasili's actions against the Crimean Khanate. Although in 1519 he was obliged to buy off the khan of the Crimea, Mehmed I Giray, under the very walls of Moscow, towards the end of his reign he established Russian influence on the Volga. In 1531-32 he placed the pretender Cangali khan on the throne of Kazan.

Domestic affairs

In his internal policy, Vasili III enjoyed the support of the Church in his struggle with the feudal opposition. In 1521, metropolitan Varlaam was banished for refusing to participate in Vasili's fight against an appanage prince Vasili Ivanovich Shemyachich. Rurikid princes Vasili Shuisky and Ivan Vorotynsky were also sent into exile. The diplomat and statesman, Ivan Bersen-Beklemishev, was executed in 1525 for criticizing Vasili's policies. Maximus the Greek (publicist), Vassian Patrikeyev (statesman) and others were sentenced for the same reason in 1525 and 1531. During the reign of Vasili III, the gentry's landownership increased; authorities were actively trying to limit immunities and privileges of boyars and nobility.

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