Sofia Alexeevna, ruler of Russia
Sofia Alexeevna (1657-1704) ruled Russia from 1682 to 1689. She allied herself with a singularly capable courtier and politician, Prince Vasily Galitzine, to install herself as a regent during the minority of her brothers, Peter the Great and Ivan V. She was one of the most extraordinary women in Russian history. Sofia not only had different talents, but also strong and determined character, sharp mind.
Princess Sofia was born in the family of Alexei Mikhailovich and his first wife – Maria Myloslavskaya and was the sixth child and fourth daughter among the sixteen children. After the death of her reigning brother Fyodor Alekseyevich on April 27, 1682, Sofia entered Russian politics, trying to prevent her young half-brother, the 10-year old Peter Alekseyevich from inheriting the throne.
She was very strong, educated and wise woman for her time and she dreamed to be a Tsarina. During her ruling in the country, there were some army reformations applied, more European habits were brought to the Russian people, some people started dressing by the European fashion.
In 1687, the first educational establishment opened in Russia: the Academy of Slavic, Greek and Latin Studies.
In 1689, Sofia was overthrown by supporters of Peter the Great and exiled to the Novodevichy Monastery. In 1698 she was forced to take the veil under the name of Susanna. She was kept in the strictest seclusion, with other nuns not allowed to see her except on Easter day. She died in the Novodevichy Convent 6 years later.
She was fictionally portrayed in Chinese novelist Jin Yong’s novel The Deer and the Cauldron in which the young protagonist Wei Xiaobao went to Russia and helped her lead the coup against her half-brother Peter I. It was suggested that this event led to the peace between the Qing Empire and Russia in the Nerchinsk Treaty.
Vanessa Redgrave portrayed the character of Sophia Alekseyevna in the 1986 miniseries Peter the Great. Her performance received an Emmy award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries.