CONFUSION IN NOVGOROD
1476-1485: Conspicuous State, Muscovy; Conspicuous Rival, Novgorod.
FOR THE DUCHY OF MUSCOVY in the randomly chosen decade 1476-1485, the leading foreign conflict was with the Republic of Novgorod. This period was to mark the outcome of a struggle between the formerly independent Republic of Novgorod and its elective prince, Ivan III, Grand Duke of Muscovy. Novgorodians traditionally had elected the Grand Duke Muscovy as their prince by independent choice. They received greater protection from him than they could have expected from any other Russian prince. However, voluntary choice was of paramount importance to the Novgorodians, and the stage was set for the conflict twenty-four years before our decade began, when the then Grand Duke of Muscovy tried to increase his power. The struggle came to a climax at the time Ivan III of Muscovy imposed himself as Prince by force of arms, thus depriving Novgorod of its right of choice. Because the Novgorodians were militarily weaker than Muscovy, were unable to get effective military aid from their allies, and were torn by internal dissensions, they were to lose their independence.
The struggle between Muscovy and Novgorod began in 1452, with the realization by the Novgorodians that Vasili II, father of Ivan III, was becoming a menace to their independence. When Dimitri Shamiaka, Vasili's cousin and rival for the Grand Duchy of Moscow, sought and obtained refuge in Novgorod after his defeat by Vasili's generals, Vasili viewed this act as a breach of faith on Novgorod's part, and it gave him a reason to move against