Russian history 48. Joining the appanage duchies

Ivan III continued to annex the appanages to his lands. The remaining little principalities around Yaroslavl and Rostov that were still independent, pledged their obedience to Muscovy and promised to serve him. Having become the servants of the grand knyaz of Moscow, they retained their lands, but these lands were not the appanages anymore, they lost the last signs of independence and became simple patrimonies, votchinas. They were the private owners of these lands, and the grand knyaz was their Gosudar. So, all the little principalities were subjugated by Muscovy, only Tver and Ryazan remained relatively free. These "grand principalities" that once opposed Muscovy, were now weak. The last knyazes of Ryazan, brothers Ivan and Fyodor, were nephews of Ivan III (sons of his sister Anna). Neither their mother, nor themselves never expressed their disagreement with Ivan III and he was, as a matter of fact, the actual ruler of Ryazan. Fyodor died childless and bequeathed his half of the principality to Muscovy. The second brother, Ivan, also died young, but he had a little son, Ivan, whose regents were his grandmother and her brother Ivan III. Ryazan was now fully controlled by Muscovy. The knyaz of Tver Mikhail Borisovich also submitted to Ivan III. The army of Tver accompanied the Muscovites during the campaign against Novgorod. Later, in 1484-1485, their relations deteriorated and Mikhail allied with Lithuania, hoping to achieve protection from Muscovy. Having learnt of these contacts between Mikhail and Lithuania, Ivan III started a war against Tver and won. Mikhail escaped to Lithuania, and Tver was incorporated by Muscovy in 1485. The process of the re-unification of Russia was over.

This policy of the unification also attracted the knyazes who ruled the lands that belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Knyazes Vyazemskies, Odoyevskies, Novosilskies, Vorotynskies and others left their knyaz and became servants of the Ivan III. This transition became one of the reasons why the knyazes of Muscovy considered themselves to be the lords of all the Russian lands, including those belonging to Lithuania. These lands, in their opinion, had to join the united Rus.

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