Byzantine fold was now re-employed by Olgerd to legitimise the full sweep of his ambitions: disregarding the metropolitan resident in Moscow, Theognos-tos, he proposed a protege, Theodoretos, for the post of metropolitan of'all Rhosia'. Olgerd's ambition was not inherently absurd. The metropolitan's close association with Moscow was not only fairly novel, but also unsignalled in the nomenclature of his office: he was still notionally the 'metropolitan of Kiev and all Rhosia'. The ancient see of Kiev had been under Lithuanian sway since 1325. None the less, the ecumenical patriarch rejected Olgerd's nomination of Theodoretos.
For Byzantium the choice between this thrusting new power and Moscow was complicated by a series of contingencies. The murder of Khan Berdi-Beg in 1357 followed in quick succession by the death of Prince Ivan of Moscow created a power vacuum in Rus, which the metropolitan Aleksii came to fill. Unlike most of his predecessors, he was not a Greek, but came from a Muscovite boyar family. Before his death Ivan had 'entrusted to [Aleksii] the education and upbringing of his son Dmitrii, so that [the metropolitan] became fully and immediately absorbed by his concern for the prince', as a much later patriarchal synod tersely stated.60
Conversant with Byzantine ways and able to read Greek, Aleksii was consecrated as metropolitan 'of Kiev and all Rhosia' in 1354, after waiting a year in Constantinople. That he associated his office so closely with the welfare and continuity of the Muscovite princely house need not, in itself, have raised difficulties for Byzantium. But Aleksii's regency in Moscow was a red rag to the Lithuanian grand duke: snubbed by the Constantinopolitan patriarchate, he had promptly turned to the Bulgarian patriarch who consecrated his nominee Theodoretos as metropolitan in 1352. Olgerd and the Muscovite princely court both looked for support in Byzantium, but found a divided ruling elite and an unstable political regime. Olgerd had his sympathisers among the Genoese and other supporters of John V who regained full power with their help in December 1354. They saw in Olgerd a formidable potential ally and within a few months had arranged for the consecration of his new candidate, Roman, as 'metropolitan of the Lithuanians'. Olgerd was, as the Byzantines well knew, aiming 'to find a means, with Roman's help, of ruling Great Russia', and Roman subsequently showed his hand, by adopting the title of 'metropolitan of Kiev and all Rhosia' and going to live in Kiev.61 Aleksii, in contrast, managed
60 Miklosich and Müller, 11,117; Reg. no. 2847. See also ibid., 11,12; Reg. no. 2705.
61 Miklosich and Müller, 11, 12-13; Reg. no. 2705; RPK 111, no. 259, 530-1; Reg. no. 2434; J. Meyendorff, Byzantium and the rise of Russia: a study of Byzantine-Russian relations in the fourteenth century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 169-70.
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