Since the days when Rurik had first chosen it as his headquarters, the little town on the Volkhov had grown into a great commercial of Nov- city and a member of the Hanseatic league, and it had brought under subjection a vast expanse of territory, stretching from the shores of the Baltic to the Ural Mountains, and containing several subordinate towns, of which the principal were Pskov, Nizhniy-Novgorod and Vyatka.
2 9 a of Alexander II.'s reign her domination had been firmly established throughout nearly the whole of the vast expanse of territory lying between Siberia on the north and Persia and Afghanistan on the south, and stretching without interruption from the eastern coast of the Caspian to the Chinese frontier.
But the lakes show a wonderful variety of character, from open expanse and steep rock-bound shores to picturesque island-groups and soft wooded banks; while the mountains have always a remarkable dignity, less from the profile of their summits than from the bold sweeping lines of their flanks, unbroken by vegetation, and often culminating.
The Perche in the southwest and the Thimerais in the north-west are districts of hills and valleys, woods, lakes and streams. The region of the east and south is a level and uniform expanse, consisting for the most part of the riverless but fertile plain of Beauce, sometimes called the "granary of France."
On the other hand, the shrinkage of the lake level caused the appearance in 1885 of an island where in 1879 there had been an expanse of shallow water.