International Dynastic Projects in Russia During the Reign of Fyodor Ioannovich

Chernikova T.V.


The article provides a reconstruction of secret dynastic plans that began to appear in Russia after the death of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible and the accession of his son Fyodor to the throne. By that time, Russia had already entered a systemic crisis, part of which was the threat of a dynastic crisis stemming from the fact that the new monarch did not have children of his own. The political elite was torn apart by a number of court «parties», fiercely opposing each other. However, all these «parties» clearly saw the growing instability of socio-economic, political and foreign policy situation in Russia and tried to find ways of overcoming the crisis. In contrast with the countries of Western Europe, in Russia, which was formed within the framework of the patrimonial sociocultural order, the cessation of the ruling dynasty could have led (and subsequently did lead) to a real socio-political catastrophe. Therefore, each court «party» strove to develop their own plan for overcoming the dynastic crisis. The identification of these plans, most often secret (and even sometimes hypothetical due to the lack of certainty in the sources) is the focus of attention in the article. First of all, the author looks at the plans and actions of Boris Godunov. Being the brother of Queen Irina, the wife of Fyodor Ioannovich, Boris Godunov quickly increased his influence in foreign and domestic policy, and by the end of Fyodor’s I reign (1584– 1598) had become an actual ruler of Russia. But this did not come easily. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the dynastic projects of the opponents of his «party», those of boyarskniageats (the aristocrats are the descendants of the princes). Some of their projects were even aimed at removing Boris Godunov from power. Due to the nature of sources (those mostly being recorded rumors that circulated in Russia and abroad and were incorporated in the foreigners’ «Notes») what is now possible is only reconstruct the secret projects. The article also touches upon Russia's foreign policy interests, which somehow manifested themselves during the development of secret and explicit dynastic projects of the late 16th century.


dynastic projects; Fyodor Ioannovich; Boris Godunov; Mstislavskie; Shuiskie; Habsburg; Stеfan Batory.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.01.01

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