At the beginning of the thirteenth century few of the territories that had once made up the state of Kiev showed signs of such healthy political stability as did the north-eastern district of Suzdalia - that is, the territory of Suzdal', Rostov and Vladimir, bounded roughly by the upper Volga in the north and the Oka in the south. The authority of its ruler, Vsevolod III, one of the shrewdest and most farsighted of all the descendants of Vladimir I, was widely acknowledged among his feiiow-rulers. ‘All lands trembled at his name and his feme spread throughout the whole country’, wrote his chronicler, who, though using'the conventional fulsome clichés of the adulatory obituary, prob­ ably represented the views of most of his contemporaries. All Suzdalia owed him allegiance of some kind or other; the great city-state of Novgorod with its vast subject lands to the west, north and north-east had, for the first eight years of the thirteenth century, only his sons as its rulers; Kiev’s eastern neigh­ bour, Southern Pereyaslavl', was firmly under his control; and the princes of Murom and Ryazan1 to the south were little more than his vassals.