THIRD PERIOD OF RUSSIAN HISTORY, FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY TILL THE BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTEENTH
THIS division embraces the time from 1462 till 1613, or from the accession of Ivan III, Grand Prince or Duke of Moscow, until the passing of the Moscow throne to the Romanov dynasty. The characteristic features of this epoch are the gradual consolidation of the Russian State under the powerful leadership of the Moscow princes, the formation of a new military and serving class round the prince--the boyars, whose individual existence in previous ages has already been noticed--the gradual recruiting of this class by the granting of princely lands, and the consequent progressive limitation of the rights of the peasant cultivator and his increasing economical dependence upon the landowner.
Russia of the middle of the fifteenth century may be described as follows: To the north, extending to the Gulf of Finland, there was the region of Novgorod the Great; between it and Livonia on the south-west there lay the region of the other important free town Pskov; White Russia, a part of Great Russia, Smolensk, and Little Russia belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian State under the Grand Duke or Prince of Lithuania. Beyond Tula and Ryazan there lay a vast prairie or steppe region extending to the Black, Azov, and Caspian Seas. Over this region the Golden Horde held sway, and there were few settled Russians upon it. The central Upper Volga region was occupied by a number of great and small appanage princedoms, one of these being the princedom of Moscow.1
Landownership in the new Moscow State. --The gradual growth of the Moscow princedom, its absorption of the older appanage____________________