Encyclopedia Britannica
11th Edition, Vol 18 pp. 891-94
Prince Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin
John Thomas Bealby

MOSCOW, (Russian Moskva). the second capital of the Russian empire, and chief town of the government of the same name, in 55 degrees 45 min. N - and 37 degrees 37 min. E., on both banks of the river Moskva, a tributary of the Oka. It is by rail 400 m. from St Petersburg, 1017 from Odessa, and 814 from Warsaw. It lies to the north of the most densely peopled parts of Russia (the black-earth region ), whilst the country to the north of it is rather thinly people as far as the Volga, and very sparsely beyond that. The space between the middle Oka and the Volga, however, was the cradle of the Great-Russian nationality (Novgorod and Pskov excluded); and four or five centuries ago Moscow had a quite central position with regard to that region.

The present city covers an area of 32 sq. m. (about 40 when the suburbs are included). In the center, on the left bank of the Moskva. stands the Kreml or Kremlin, occupying the Borovitsky hill. To the cast of the Kremlin is the Kitai-Gorod, formerly the Great Posad, the chief center of trade. The Byelyi-Gorod, which was formerly enclosed by a stone wall (whence the name),surrounds the Kremlin and the Kitai-Gorod on the west, north, and north-east. A line of boulevards now occupies the place of its wall (destroyed in the 18th century), and forms a first circle of streets round the center of Moscow.

The Zernlyanoy-Gorod (earthen enclosure) surrounds the Byelyi-Gorod, including the Zamoskvoryechie on the right bank of the Moskva. The earthen wall and palisade that formerly enclosed it no longer exist. their place being taken by a series of broad streets with gardens on both sides - the Sadovaya. or Gardens Street. The fourth enclosure (the Kamer College earthen wall) was made during the reign of Catherine II; it is of irregular shape, and encloses the outer parts of Moscow, whilst the suburbs and the villages which have sprung up on the highways extend some miles beyond.

The Kremlin is an old fort of pentagonal (nearly triangular) shape, about 100 acres in extent, occupying a hill 130 ft. above the level of the Moskva. It is enclosed by a high stone battlemented wall 2430 yds. in length, restored during the 19th century, and having nineteen towers. Its five gates are surmounted by towers and arc all noteworthy. The Spaskiya (Saviors) Gate was erected in 1491 by a Milanese architect; the Gothic tower (203 ft.) that surmounts it was added in 1626 by the English architect, Holloway. A sacred picture of the Savior (the palladium of Moscow ) was placed upon it. in 1647, and all who pass through the gate uncover. The towers surmounting the other four gates were erected by order of Ivan III. Of the sacred buildings of the Kremlin the most venerated is the Uspenskiy cathedral. The former church of this name was erected in 1326 by the tsar, Ivan Kalita, but, on its falling into disrepair, a new one was built on the same place in 1475-1479, by the Bolognese architect, Fioraventi, in the Lombardo-Byzantine style, with Indian cupolas. It was restored each time after being pillaged or burnt in 1493, 1547, 1682 and 1812. It contains the oldest and most venerated holy pictures in Russia, one of which is attributed to the Metropolitan Peter, another to St Luke. The cathedral possesses; also the throne of Vladimir I, and numerous relics of saints, some of which date from the 14th century. The Russian Metropolitan and patriarchs were consecrated in this cathedral, as well as the tsars after Ivan IV. The Archangel cathedral, on the opposite side of the square, was originally built in 1333, and a new one was erected in its place in 1505-1508. It contains the tombs of the tsars from Ivan Kalita (1340) to Ivan Alexeivich (1696), and possesses vast wealth. The Blagovyeshchensk cathedral, recalling the churches of Mount Athos (in Turkey), was first built in 1397, rebuilt in 1484-1489, and restored in 1883-1896; the remarkable pictures of Rublev (1405) are still preserved. It was the private chapel of the tsars, and in it they are baptized and married. Vestiges of a very old church, that of the Savior in the Wood, contemporaneous with the foundation of Moscow, still exist in the yard of the palace. A stone church took the place of the old wooden structure in 1330, and was rebuilt in 1527. The Vozncsensky Convent, erected In 1389-1393, and restored in the end of the 19th century, is the burial-place of wives and sisters of the tsars. The Chudov monastery, erected in 1358Ä1365 and rebuilt in 1771, was the residence of the metropolitan of Moscow and a state prison.
Close by, the great campanile of Ivan Veliky, erected in the Lombardo-Byzantine style by Boris Godunov, in 1600, rises to the height of 271 ft. (318 ft. including the cross), and contains many bells, one of which weighs 64 tons. Close by is the well-known Tsar-Kolokol (king of the bells), 65 ft. in circumference round the rim, 19 ft. high, and weighing 198.5 tons. It was cast in 1735, and broken during the fire of 1737 before being hung. The treasury of the patriarchs in the campanile of Ivan Veliky contains not only such articles of value as the, sakkos (episcopal robes) of the metropolitan with 70,000 pearls, but also very remarkable monuments of Russian archaeology.
The library has 500 Greek and 1000 very rare Russian MSS., including a Gospel of the 8th century. The great palace of the tsars, erected in 1838-1849, is a fine building in white stone with a gilded cupola. It contains the terems, or rooms erected by Tsar Michael Fyodorovich for the young princes his sons in 1636 (restored in 1836-1849, their former character being maintained), a remarkable memorial of the domestic life of the tsars in the 17th century. ln the treasury of the tsars, in the Orujeynaya Palata, now public museums, the richest stores connected with old Russian archaeology are preserved crowns, thrones, dresses, various articles of house-hold furniture belonging to the tsars, Russian and Mongolian arms, carriages, &c. The Granovitaya Palata, another wing of the great palace, consists of a single-vaulted apartment built in 1473-1490, and is used as a state banqueting hall. The four sides of the Senate Square are occupied by buildings of various dates, from the 15th century onwards. Among them is the imposing senate, now the law courts, erected by Catherine 11. (1771-1785). Facing it is the arsenal (1701-1736). The temple of the Saviour, begun in 1817 in commemoration of the events of the French campaign of 1812, was abandoned in 1827, and a new one was built during 1838-1883 on a hill on the bank of the Moskva, at a short distance from the Kremlin. Its style is Lombardo-Byzantine, with modifications suggested by the military taste of Nicholas I.

The Kitay-Gorod, which covers 121 acres, is the chief commercial quarter of Moscow. It contains the new bazaars, a triple block of buildings erected in 1888-1893 in sandstone, at a cost of over £1,630,800, and the Gostinoy Dvor, consisting of several stone buildings divided into 1000 shops. The Red Square, 900 yds. long, with a stone tribunal in the middle, which was formerly the forum, market cross and place of execution separates the bazaar from the Kremlin. At its lower end stands the fantastic Pokrovsky Cathedral (usually known as Vasili Blazlìeiìiiyi), one of the wonders of Moscow, on account of its towers, all differing from each other and representing, in their variety of colours, pine-apples, melons and the like. It was begun by Ivan the Terrible in 1554 to commemorate the conquest of Kazan, but not completed until 1679. It was plundered and desecrated hy the French in 1812, but restored in 1839-1845. The exchange, built in 1838 and restored in 1873, is very lively, and its exchange artels (associations of nearly 2000 brokers) are worthy of remark. Banks, houses of great commercial firms, streets full of old book-shops carrying on a very large trade, and finally the Tolkuchy rynok, the market of the poorest dealers in old clothes, occupy the Kitay-Gorod, side by side with restaurants of the highest class. In this quarter are also situated the house of the Romanovs, the reigning dynasty of Russia, rebuilt and refurnished in 1859 in exact conformity with its former shape; and the printing-office of the synod of the Orthodox Greek Church, founded in 1563 and containing about 600 MSS. and 10,000 very old printed books, together with a typographical museum. At the entrance to the Kitay-Gorod stands the chapel of the highly venerated Virgin of Iberia, a copy made in 1648, of a holy picture placed on the chief gate of the monastery of Mt Athos. The northern parts of the Byelyi-Gorod are also the centre of a lively trade. Here are situated the Okhotnyi Ryad (poultry and game market) and the streets Tverskaya, Petrovka and Kuznetsky-Most the rendezvous of the world of fashion. Here also are the theatres, the industrial art museum, imperial bank (1894), and Rozhdestvensky convent (founded in 1386). In the south-west of the Byelyi-Gorod, opposite the Alexander Garden on the west side of the Kremlin, stand the university (see below), Museum of domestic industries, Rumyantsev Museum and the church of the Redeemer. This last, built in the form of a Greek cross in 1837-1883 at a cost of nearly £1,600,000, is dominated by five gilded domes and faced externally with marble. The interior is harmoniously decorated with gold and marble, and adorned with pictures by Vereschagin and other Russian artists. In the east of the city are three monasteries all dating from the 14th century. The Zemlyanoy-Gorod, which has arisen from villages that surrounded Moscow, exhibits varied characteristics. In the neighbourhood of the railway stations it has busy centres of traffic; other parts are manufacturing quarters, whilst others - for instance, the small quiet streets on the west of the boulevard Prechistenka, called the old Koiiushennaya, with their wooden houses and spacious courtyards - are the true abodes of the families of the old, for the most part decayed, but still proud, nobility. The Zamoskvoryechie, on the right bank of the Moskva, is the abode of the patriarchal merchant families.

The climate of Moscow is cold and continental, but healthy. The average annual temperature is 40.1 degrees F. (Jan., 14·; - July, 66.5·). The summer is warm (64.2·), and the winter cold and dry (15.8·), great masses of snow lying in the streets. The spring, as is usually the case in cold continental climates, is beautiful. The prevailing winds are south-west and south. The river Moskva is frozen, on the average, for 153 days (from Nov. 12 to April 13). The Moskva is crossed by five bridges; a branch of it, or rather a channel, makes an elongated island in the middle of the city. Water of excellent quality, principally from the Mytishchi springs and pounds, 11m. distant, has since 1893; been led to fountains in different parts of the city, whence it is distributed by watermen.

The population was estimated at only 150,000 in the middle of the 18th century, and at 250,000 in 1812. Since 1870 it has been growing at the rate of about 2.5 % per annum; (1872), 601,969; (1882),753,469 (1902), 1,092,360, or including the suburbs 1,173,427; (est. 1907),1,359,254. The housing problem is of great importance in Moscow, as it appears that over 10% of the domiciles are underground. And while the average for the city is two occupants to each room, there are more than 10,000 domiciles which have more than four occupants to each room, representing one-fourth of the population. The average mortality is consequently high, namely 28 per 1000 (33 per 1000 if the children inmates of the Foundling House be included). Fires occur very frequently. The inhabitants are mostly Great- Russians. They belong chiefly to the Orthodox Greek Church, or are Nonconformists; the Lutherans number 2% and the Roman Catholics 1%.

Since the 14th century Moscow has been an important commercial city. About the end of the 15th century its princes transported to Moscow, Vladimir, and other Russian towns no fewer than 18,000 of the richest Novgorod merchant families, and took over the entire trade of that city, entering into direct relations with Narva and Livonía. The annexation of Kazan (1552) and the conquest of Siberia (1580-1600) gave a new importance to Moscow, bringing it into direct commercial relations with Khiva, Bokhara and China, and supplying it with Siberian furs. The fur-trade had a great fascination for all European merchants in the 16th century, and an English company, having received the monopoly of the Archangel trade, caused their merchandise to be sent by the White Sea instead of by the Baltic. Moscow thus became the center for nearly the entire trade of Russia, and the tsar himself engaged in large commercial operations. Situated at the intersection of six important highways, Moscow was the storehouse and exchange- mart for the merchandise of Europe and Asia. The opening of the port at St. Petersburg affected its commercial interest unfavourably at first, but the Asiatic trade and internal trade of Moscow have since then enormously increased. Here are concentrated the traffic in grain, in hemp and in oils sent to the Baltic ports; in tea, brought both by way of Siberia and of St Petersburg; in sugar, refined here in large quantities; in grocery wares for the supply of more than half Russia and all Siberia; in tallow, skins, wool, metals, timber, wooden wares, iron and steel goods, wine, drugs, raw cotton, silk and all other produce of the manufactures of middle Russia. As a railway centre the city plays so predominant a part that 1/6 to1/5 of all the goods carried by the railways of European Russia are loaded or unloaded at Moscow. The banks, including the rnortgage banks, are the most important in Russia.

From the 15th century onwards the villages around Moscow were renowned for the variety of small industries which they carried on; the first large manufactures in cottons, woollen fabrics, silk, china and glass in Great-Russia were established at Moscow in the 17th and 18th centuries. After 1830, in consequence of protection tariffs, the rnanufactories in the government of Moscow rapidly increased in number; but two-thirds of them are now concentrated in the capital. Moscow is in fact the principal manufacturing city in the empire, employing about 100,000 operatives in her mills and factories. Nearly one-half of them are engaged in the textile industries, especially calico-printing. Next in importance comes the preparation of food-stuffs, followed by the metal and metallurgical industries and the chemical works.

Moscow has many educational institutions and scientific societies. The university, founded in 1753, exercised a powerful influence on the intellectual life of Russia during the years 1830-1848; and it still continues to be the most frequented Russian university. In 1904 it had over 5000 students, who mostly poor. The library contains some 286,000 volumes, has rich collections in mineralogy, geology and zoology. Among the museums the Rumyantsev, now connected with the so-called public museum, occupies the first rank. It contains library of 700,000 volumes and 2300 MSS., remarkable collections of old pictures, sculptures and prints, as well as an extensive mineralogical collection, and an ethnographical collection representing very accurately the various races of Russia. The private museum of Prince Golitsin contains a good collection of paintings and MSS. The Shchukin Museum contains Russian antiquities, pictures and objects of industrial art. A number of excellent free libraries have been opened, two of them containing valuable collections of books and MSS. The remarkable Tretyakov gallery of pictures, chiefly of the Russian school, has been presented (1892) by its owner to the city. The philanthropic institutions include the vast foundling hospital (1764). The municipal relief of the poor was entirely reorganized in 1894, partly on the Elberfeld system and partly on quite new and original lines. Moscow is surrounded by beautiful parks and picturesque suburbs. Of the former one of the most frequented is the Petrovsky Park, to the north-west, with a castle built in 1776, burnt by the French in 1812, but rebuilt in 1840. A little farther out is the Petrovskoye Razumovskoye estate, with an agricultural academy (1865) and its dependencies (botanical garden, experimental farm, &c.). Another large park and wood surround an imperial palace (1796) in the village of Ostankino. The private estates of Kuzminski, Kuskovo and Kuntsevo are also surrounded by parks; the last has remains of a very old graveyard, supposed to belong to the pagan period. In the south-west, on the right bank of the Moskva, which here makes a great loop to the south, are the Vorobyevy hills, which are accessible by steamer from Moscow, and afford one of the best views of the capital. In the loop of the Moskva is situated the Novo-Dyevichy or Virgins convent, erected in 1524 and connected with Sophia, sister of Peter the Great, and many events of Russian history. In the south, on the road to Serpukhov, is the village of Kolomenskoye, founded in 1237, a favourite residence of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, with a church built in 1337, a striking monument of Russian architecture, restored in 1880. The monastery Nikolo-Ugryeshskiy, 12 m. from the city, between the Kursk and Ryazan railways, occupies a beautiful site and is much visited by Moscow merchants, to venerate a holy picture by which Dmitry Donskoi is said to have been blessed before going to fight (1380) the Mongols. In the north, the forest of Sokolniki, covering 4.5 sq.miles, with its radial avenues and numerous summer residences, is the part of Moscow most frequented by the middle classes.


The Russian annals first mention Moscow in 1147 as a place where Yuri Dolgoruki, prince of Suzdal, met Svyatoslav of Seversk and his allies. The site was inhabited from very remote antiquity by the Merya and Mordvinians. whose remains are numerous in the neighbourhood, and it was well peopled by Grcat-Russians in the 12th century. To the end of the 13th century Moscow remained a dependency of the princes Vladimir, and suffered from the raids of the Mongols, who burned and plundered it in 1237 and 1293. Under Daniel, son of Alexander Nevskv (1261-1302), the prince of Moscow acquired importance for the part he took in the wars against Lithuanians. He annexed to his principality Kolomna, situated at the confluence of the Moskva with the Oka. His in 1302 annexed Pereyaslavl Zalesky, and in the following year Mozhaisk (thus taking possession of the Moskva from its source to its mouth), and so inaugurated a policy which lasted centuries, and consisted in the annexation by purchase and other means of the neighbouring towns and villages. In 1300 Kremlin, or fort, was enclosed by a strong wall of earth and timber, offering a protection to numerous emigrants from the Tver and Ryazan principalities. Under Ivan Kalita (1325-1341) the principality of Vladimir, where the princes of Kiev a the metropolitan of Russia had taken refuge after the wars that desolated south-western Russia, became united with Moscow; and in 1325 the metropolitan Peter established his seat at Moscow, thus giving new importance and power support to the young principality. In 1367 the Kremlin was enclosed within stone walls, which proved strong enough to resist the Lithuanians under Olgierd (1368 and 1371). Kalita’s grandson, Dmitry Donskoi, annexed the dominions of Starodub and Rostov, and took part in the renowned battle of Kulikovo (1380), on the Don in the government of Tula, where the Russians ventured for the first time to oppose the Mongols in a great pitched battle. Two years after the battle of Kulikovo Moscow was taken and plundered (for the last time) by Toktamish, khan of the Golden Horde of the Mongols.

The increase of the principality continued during the first half of the 15th century, and at the death of Vasili (or Basil) the Blind, in 1462, it included not only the whole of what now the government of Moscow, but also large parts of present governments of Kaluga, Tula, Vladimir, Nijniy-Novgorod, Kostroma, Vyatka, Vologda, Yaroslav and Tver. It was not however until the reign (1462-1505) of Ivan III. that the prince of Moscow set up claims to other parts of Russia, and called himself “Ruler of all Russia”. In 1520 Moscow was said to contain 45,000 houses and 100,000 inhabitants. Ivan IV annexed Novgorod and Pskov to Moscow, and subdued Kazan and Astrakhan. But after his reign Moscow suffered from long series of misfortunes. In 1547 two conflagrations destroyed nearly the whole of the city, and a few days later the Tatar khan of the Crimea advanced against it with 100,000 men. He was compelled to retire from the banks of the Oka, but in 1571, taking advantage of the state into which Russia was brought by the extravagances of Ivan, he took Moscow and burned the city outside the Kremlin. The gates of the Kremlin having been shut, thousands of people perished in the flames, and annals record that of the 200,000 who then formed the population of Moscow, only 30,000 remained. In 1591 the Tatars of Crimea were again in Moscow and avenged their repulse from the Kremlin on the inhabitants of the unfortified town. Meanwhile the political influence of the boyars had gradually increased. The peasants, who settled on their lands, or on the estates which the prince bestowed upon his boyars, had become serfs; and political tendency of the boyars, supported by the wealthier middle classes (which had also a rapid development in the same century), was to become rulers of Russia, like the noblesse of Poland. During the reign of Feodor or Theodore (1584-98) Boris Godunov, the regent, ordered the murder of the heir the throne, Demetrius, son of Ivan IV, and himself became tsar of Russia. Moscow suffered severely in the struggle which ensued, especially when the populace rose and exterminated the Polish garrison, on which occasion the whole of the city outside the Kremlin was again burned and plundered. But in compensation it acquired in the eyes of the nation a greatly increased importance, as a stronghold against foreign invasions. The Novo-dyevichy or Virgin’s nunnery, which the Poles besieged (1610) without taking, was invested with a higher sanctity. The city also by-and-by recovered its commercial importance, and this the more as other commercial cities were ruined, or fell into the hands of foreigners; and thirty years later Moscow was again a wealthy city. Owing, however, to the ever-increasing concentration of power in the hands of the tsar, and steady development of autocracy, it lost much of its political importance, and assumed more and more, especially under Alexis Mikhailovich (1643-1676), the character of a private estate of the tsar, its suburbs becoming mere dependencies of his vast household.

During the whole of the 17th century Moscow continued to be the scene of many troubles and internal struggles. The people several times revolted against the favourites of the tsar, and were subdued only by cruel executions, in which the streitzi - class of citizens and merchants rendering hereditary military service Ä supported the tsar. Afterwards appeared the raskol or nonconformist movement, and in 1648, when the news spread that Stenka Razin was advancing on Moscow “to settle his accounts with the boyars,” the populace was kept. from rising only by severe repressive measures and by the defeat of the invader. Later on, the streltzi themselves engaged in a series of rebellions, which led the youthful Peter the Great. to suppress them (1698) amidst streams of blood. The opposition encountered at Moscow, to his plans of reforming Russia according to his ideal of military autocracy, the conspiracies of the boyars and merchants, the distrust of the mass of the people, all compelled him afterwards to leave (1703) the city, and to seek, as his ancestors had done, a new capital. This he founded at St Petersburg on the very confines of the military empire he was trying to establish.

In the course of the 18th century Moscow became the seat of a passive and discontented opposition to the St Petersburg government. Peter the Great, wishing to see Moscow like other capitals of western Europe, ordered that only stone houses should be built within the walls of the town, that the streets should be paved, and so on; but his orders were only partially executed. In 1722 the Kremlin was restored. In 1739 the city became once more the prey of a great conflagration; two others followed in 1748 and 1753, and gave an opportunity for enlarging some streets and squares. Catherine II tried to conciliate the nobility, and applied herself to benefit the capital with new and useful buildings, such as the senate house, the foundlings and several other hospitals,.salt stores, &c.

The last public disaster was experienced by Moscow in 1812. On the 13th of September, six days after the battle of Borodino, the Russians troops evacuated Moscow, and the next day the French occupied the Kremlin. The same night, while Napoleon was waiting for a deputation of Moscow notables, and received only a deputation of the rich raskolnik merchants, the capital was set on fire through the carelessness of its own inhabitants (it was no heroic deed of Roztopchin’s), the bazaar, with its stores of wine, spirits and chemical stuffs, becoming the prey of the flames. The inhabitants abandoned the city, and it was pillaged by the French troops, as well as by Russians themselves, and the burning of Moscow became the signal of a general, rising of the peasants against the French. The want of supplies and the impossibility of wintering in a ruined city, continually, attacked by cossacks and peasants, compelled Napoleon to leave Moscow on the 19th of October, after he had unsuccessfully. attempted to blow up certain parts of the Kremlin.

(P.A. K.; J. T. BE.)

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