Every few days I will be adding more and more about the secrets of The Thieves of Faith. But... I will reveal it slowly so as not to spoil the story.
To get you started, the below articles is will give you a taste of The Kremlin Underground, The Byzantine Liberia ,and the flavor of Ivan the Terrible.
The Kremlin Underground
By Erin Arvedlund
The city of Moscow, which this month is celebrating its 860th anniversary, was built on alluvial soils along the swampy banks of the Moscow River. It's the sort of pliable, sandy substrate that easily yields to a shovel. And so, as the village of Moscow grew steadily outward over the centuries, it also grew downward. Paranoid czars built subterranean bunkers, supply depots, and enormous vaults in which they stored their most treasured maps and books and jewels. In the 1580s, as he plunged into madness, Ivan the Terrible dug down hundreds of feet to construct his prized torture chamber and then, as legend has it, murdered all the laborers who had constructed it, presumably so no one would know its whereabouts. In the late 1700s, Catherine the Great hired Italy's finest architects to channel the inconveniently situated Neglina River into a vast underground network of brick-lined canals. Over time, sewer systems and subways were installed, not to mention gas lines, electric lines, telephone lines, the full latticework of modernity. The Soviets burrowed even deeper, building secret tunnels and subway tracks, KGB listening posts, and fallout shelters for the political elite, hundreds of meters below the surface.
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THE MYSTERY OF THE BYZANTINE LIBRARY
By Alexandra Vinogradskaya
The mystery of the Byzantine library has always stirred the imagination of archeologists, researchers and lovers of adventure. Scholars have argued about its priceless rarities and historians insist that it is irretrievably lost. The search for the "Liberia", as the Byzantine kings' legendary book collection was called, has entered its fifth century.
From time to time scholars call into question the very existence of the Byzantine library in Russia. Some insist it did exist, and that after the death of Ivan the Terrible, the "Liberia"'s last owner, it was put safely away in hiding-places.
Let's recall what happened in Russia in the 15th century. The Greek princess Sofia Paleolog, a niece of the last Byzantine king, married the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan the Third, and as her dowry brought along unheard-of riches, the unique Byzantine library. Scholars believe, the Greek rulers wanted to save it from any Vatican claims to it. The chronicles mention one hundred carts loaded with 300 boxes with rare books arriving in Moscow.
Sofia's prime concern, and this is a trustworthy fact, was to build a special underground safe to keep the treasures protected from the fires that often engulfed the wooden buildings of Moscow. It's also known for certain that the celebrated West European architect Aristotle Fiorovanti built a secret sarcophagus for books in the Kremlin's underground.
Decades later, strolling through this underground maze, the son of Ivan the Third and Sofia came upon a hiding-place with ancient books and manuscripts written in languages unknown to him. Later a Greek scholar, Maxim the Greek, made a list of the books and shortly before his death he revealed the secret of the "Liberia" to Sofia's youngest grandson, Ivan the Terrible.
Some 800 manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Arab were mentioned in the list. The library contained works by Virgil, poems by Kalvos, "The Lives of Twelve Ceasars" by Suetonius, works by Aristophanes, Polybius, Pindar, Tacitus, Livius, and Cicero. It took the Byzantine emperors hundreds of years to make up the collection. The Germans, English and Italians made many attempts to pursuade the Russian czar to sell the treasure. But a man of considerable literary talent himself, Ivan the Terrible was an eager collector of rare books and fully aware of the high value of his collection. He refused to sell anything.
After Ivan the Terrible's death in the late 16th century the "Liberia" disappeared without a trace. But the Russian czars and the Soviet rulers never gave up the idea of finding it. The Kremlin's underground maze was searched times without number and many hiding-places and ancient passages were found, but never the "Liberia". Every year adds versions about the fate of the library. Here is one given by a young explorer of underground Moscow, Vadim Mikhailov. "A man, whose name is Appolos, is still alive. He knows the secret. He is 90 and totally blind now. The special services gave him such a hard time in years past that he never revealed the secret. When he was examining the Kremlin's underground in the 1930s, he came across the ruins of an ancient passage which brought him to an ancient hiding-place. This, however, almost cost him his life: it was strictly forbidden at the time to look for the library. Since then he has kept the secret to himself. He could never bring himself to share it with anyone. We hope he will finally open it to us researchers. We have already used a plan of his to find several ancient passages under the Kremlin. But in doing so we trespassed on an area of the special services, and access to the passages is so far closed."
Once solved, the "Liberia" mystery may completely change our understanding of world history. Many events of the past are known to us only in tiny fragments and have been brought together as guesses and logical conclusions. Perhaps the "Liberia" will solve many riddles .
Ivan The Terrible
by Joan Bos
Ivan IV "the Terrible" of Russia (1530-1584) was a cruel tyrant, who never knew the meaning of moderation; he drank too much, laughed too loudly and hated and loved too fiercely. And he never forgot anything. Ivan was definitely smart and, despite his cruelty, his reign is a great one in Russian annals. In Russia Ivan was called "Grozny", which has always been translated to "the Terrible", but actually means "the Awesome".
The instruments of Ivan's new rule were the 'Oprichniki', who were handpicked by Ivan and had to swear him a personal oath of allegiance. The mere sight of the Oprichniki instilled fear: they dressed in black and rode black horses3. Many were criminals4 without any remorse about killing anyone Ivan disliked. The Oprichniki didn't hesitate to burst into a church during mass, either abducting the priest or murdering him in front of the altar. Subsequently, Ivan founded a pseudo-monastic order: he was the 'abbot' and his Oprichniki were the 'monks'. They regularly performed sacrilegious masses that were followed by extended orgies of sex, rape and torture. Frequently Ivan would act as master of the rituals, in which, with sharp and hissing-hot pincers, ribs were torn out of men's chests. Drunken licentiousness was alternated with passionate acts of repentance. After throwing himself down before the altar with such vehemence that his forehead would be bloody and covered with bruises, Ivan would rise and read sermons on the Christian virtues to his drunken retainers.
Ivan the Terrible used to carry a metal-pointed staff with him, which he used to lash out at people who offended him. Once, he had peasant women stripped naked and used as target practice by his Oprichniki. Another time, he had several hundred beggars drowned in a lake. A boyar was set on a barrel of gunpowder and blown to bits. Jerome Horsey wrote how Prince Boris Telupa "was drawn upon a long sharp-made stake, which entered the lower part of his body and came out of his neck; upon which he languished a horrible pain for 15 hours alive, and spoke to his mother, brought to behold that woeful sight. And she was given to 100 gunners, who defiled her to death, and the Emperor's hungry hounds devoured her flesh and bones". His treasurer, Nikita Funikov, was boiled to death in a cauldron. His councillor, Ivan Viskovaty, was hung, while Ivan's entourage took turns hacking off pieces of his body.
To learn more click here to read this fantastic article by Joan Bos