Boris Godunov – Russian Tsar
Boris Godunov was the Tsar of Russia from 1598 to 1605. He was one of the most famous (or infamous) rulers of early modern Russia.
Boris Feodorovich Godunov was born in 1551 in Moscow. He was a member of the ancient Russian family of Saburov-Godunov of Tatar origin, which migrated from the Golden Horde in the 14th century.
Godunov was married to the daughter of Maliuta Skuratov (the notorious boss of the Oprichnina). Boris and Maria had two children: a daughter named Ksenya and a son named Fyodor.
In 1580 Godunov was promoted to the rank of boyar on the marriage of his sister to Feodor, the son of Ivan IV. After the death of Ivan IV in 1584, Feodor became czar of Russia. However, he had the mentality of a child. So rule passed to a dual regency of Nikita Romanovich Yuriev, the Czar’s uncle, and Boris Godunov. In 1586, after the death of Yuriev, Godunov became Russia’s new master in all but name.
In 1590 the Russians became engaged in a war with Sweden that lasted until 1595 and resulted in Moscow’s recovery of the territories on the shores of the Gulf of Finland lost under Ivan IV.
Boris was crowned on September 1, 1598. For most Russians, the reign of Tsar Boris was an unhappy time. Indeed, it marked the beginning of Russia’s horrific Time of Troubles (1598-1613).
In 1601 famine brought disaster to the people. The crops failed again in 1602 and also, to a considerable extent, in 1603.
It was rumored that Godunov had plotted to kill Prince Dimitry, the son of Ivan IV, but had mistakenly murdered another boy. In 1603 a claimant to the throne did appear, professing to be Czarevich Dimitry. When False Dmitry invaded Russia in 1604, many cossacks and soldiers joined his ranks, and many towns of southwestern Russia rebelled against Tsar Boris. They say he was Grishka Otrepyev, a runaway monk and former serf of the Romanov family.
Boris Godunov died suddenly on April 23, 1605. Many suspected he had been poisoned.
Godunov is the subject of many biographies, plays, and even an opera by Mussorgsky.
– Godunov had a reputation of treacherous poisoner. He was accused of poisoning two tsars – Ivan the Terrible, and Fedor; his sister Irina; Duke Hans of Denmark – a failed husband of his daughter Ksenia, and many others. It should be noted that if he was really involved in the bloody crimes, he did it very cleverly and insidiously – historians have no proof.
– It was Boris Godunov, not Peter the Great, who became the first monarch focused on the European style. He maintained friendly ties with Britain and was in correspondence with the Queen of England. The city of Arkhangelsk is a monument to Russian-British relations during Godunov’s time.
– Few people pay attention to this fact, but Boris Godunov became the first tsar who took care of his family and children.
– Thanks to the efforts of Godunov Russia got its patriarch. In 1589 Job became Metropolitan of Moscow.
– It was the greatest event in the history of Russia: the establishment of the Patriarchate led to the independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Moscow got the status “the successor of Byzantium.”