Boris Godunov (about 1552 – 1605) was the Russian tsar since 1598; came
to power in the time of “oprichnina”; was the tsar Fedor Ivanovich’s wife’s
brother and actually rulled the state instead of him. He strengthered the
central authoritybaning on the nobility and supported peasants enslavement
Boris Feodorovich Godunov (about 1549 or 1552 – April 13/23, 1605, Moscow), the
According to the legend the Godunovs came from the tatar prince Chet.
Who came to Russia in the time of Ivan Kalita. This legend is written down in
the annals dating back to the beginning of the 17th century. According to the
tsar chronicle of 1555 the Godunovs (as well as Saburovs, the Velyaminous) come
from Dmitriy Zern, who was evidently, a feudal lord from Kostroma. Inspite of
the validity of this point of view, there is still a chance that there is some
truth in the legend about Chet too. And it is not accidental that some ancestors
of separate branches of Chet’s descendants had the names of the tatar origin
Boris Feodorovich Godunov’s father died at the end of the Gos. The son
became an “oprichnik”. He was married to the tsar’s favorit Malyuta Skuratov’s
daughtes. Since the beginning of 1570s the rise of the Godunovs begins. Boris
Feodorovich himself, wasn’t close to the tsar Ivan the Terrible, though he
became a boyar in September, 1580. At least on the wedding of the tsar and
Maria the Nude (November, 1580). He was only tsaritsa’s (“bridesmade”)
“drugka”. But the increasing role of the family in significant, as the whole
clan of the Godunovs were present on the wedding. They slowly but steadily went
up the rank stairs, at the end of the 1570s – the beginning of the 1580s they
won several cases and so security their position among the Moscow nobility.
Godunov was clever and cautious, trying to keep in the backgroung for the time
being. The tsar’s son Feodor was married the Godunov’s sister Irine. Godunov’s
rise is the result of a historical accident and, at the same time, the
manifestation of the common regularity of the self-development of Russian
society. Boris would have been on of the many Godunovs in the History, if there
hadn’t happened a quarrel between the tsar and his son Ivan in Alexandrovsk
Sloboda November, 9, 1581. Ivan the Terrible sbruk his son with his cane and
got in a temple and in ten days (November, 19) the prince died. After Ivan
Ivanovich’s death Feodor became the successor to the throne.
Up to 1584 Godunov wasn’t close to the tsar, but some deeds and plans of
Ivan the Terrible affected the interests of the Godunovs and Boris inpanticular
radically. The tsar wanted to marry Maria Gastings, a relative of Elizabeth,
queen of England and to dissolve the marriage between Feodor and childless
Irine Godunov. In the tsar’s last year Godunov got a great influence at the
count. Together witn B. J. Belsky he became of Ivan the Terrible’s favorites.
Godunov’s role in the death of the tsar is not quite clear March, 18, 1584 Ivan
the Terrible, according to D. Gorsey’s evidence, was “strangled”. It is
possible, that there was a plot against the tsar. However, anthropologist M. M.
Gerasimov, who was studying the tsar during the last minutes of his lofe and
they announced the tsar’s death from the porch.
Feodor Ivanovich came to the throne. The new tsar was incapable of
rulling the country and required a clever adviser. The struggle for the right
to be the spokesman of the interests if the new monarch flared up and Boris
came the winner out of it. Feodor reigned for 14 years and, at least, 13 of
them Godunov was the actual ruller.
Internal and Foreign Policy of Godunov’s Government.
The activity of Godunov’s Government timed at all-round streng the ning
of statehood. Due to his efforts the first Russian patriarch, metropolitan Yov,
was elected. The establishment of patriachate testified to the enhanced
prestige of Russia.
In internal policy of Godunov’s government the common sence and thrift
prevaited. Unprecedent construction if cities and fortifications took place.
The church building was also carried to facilitate the stale of “posadsky”
people. The big servants (officials) held trading people and handcraftsmen in
their “white slobodas”, which were released from paying the state taxes,
before. But now everyone who was engaged in trade and crafts should enter
“posadsky” communities and participate in the payment of dutries to the
treasury. So the number of such people increased, and each payer had to pay
less, as the total sum remained constant.
The economical crisis of 1570s – the beginning of 1580s (forced) caused
the establishment of serfhood. In 1597 the decree of “ ”, according to which
the peasants who had run from their masters “during the last five years were
subject to investigation, caurt and returning back to the peaces they lived
before”. Those who ran six and more years ago weren’tsubject to that decree and
more years ago weren’t subject to that decree and didn’t have to be returned to
their former owners.
In foreign policy Godunov proved to be a talented diplomat. On the 18th
of May in 1595 in Tjavrin (near Ivangorod) the peace treaty between Russia and
Sweden was concluded. Godunov managed to take avantage of a difficult internal
political situation in Sweden, - and Russia, according to the treaty, got back
Ivangorod, Yam, Koporye and volost Korela.
Godunov’s way to the throne wasn’t easy. In Uglich the successor to the
throne Dmitriy, the son of Ivan the Terrible’s six wife, grew up. On the 15th
of May in 1591 tsarevich dead under the obscure circumtrances. The official
investigation was carried out by the boyar V. I. Shujsky. Trying to please
Godunov he reduced the happening to the “negligence” of Maria the Nade, as a result
of which Dmitry accidentally stabbed himself with a Knife, while playing with
his coevals. Tsarevich was still, he stuffered from fits and to give a Knife to
the child was really criminal. It is possible that Godunov was involved in
Dmitriy’s death, as only to make the nurse let the sick child play with a Knife
would be enough. January 6, 1598 the tsar Feodor died, and Febriary 17, The
Zemsky Cathedral elected the new tsar, his brother-in-law – Boris Godunov. They
supported him as his activity as a favorite was highly valued by his
contemporaries. Boris’s reign was marked by the beginning raproachment of
Russia with the West. No sovereign in Russia liked the foreigners as much as
Godunov did. He began to invite the foreigners to service, releasing them from
paying taxes. The new tsar even wanted to invite the scientists from Germany,
England, Spain, France and other countries in order to found in Moscow a high
school, were different languages would be taught, but the church opposed the
Boris’s reign began successfully. However, really terrible events broke
out soon. In 1601 there were long rains, and then early frosts came and,
according to the contemporary, “ ”. The next year the poor
harvest repeated. The famine, lasting three years, broke out. The price of
bread increased in 100 times. Boris forbade to sell bread at a price higher
than the settled limit, he even resorted to the prosecufron of those who
inflated prices, but he didn’t succeed. Trying to help the starving he didn’t
spare means, widely distributing money. But the price of bread was rising and
money was losing its value. Boris ordered to open the imperial barns for the
starving. But even theit stocks were not sufficient for all hungry people, as
having found out about the distribution, people from all the ends of the
country came to Moscow, having left the poor stocks which, nevertheless, were
available of their places. About 127 thousand people starved and were buried in
Moscow, but sometimes there wasn’t enough time to bury all of them. The cases
of man-eaters appeared. People started to think that it was a Divine penalty.
There appeared the belief that Boris’s reign wasn’t blessed by God as it was
lawless and was achieved through a lie. And so it couldn’t end in something
In 1601 – 1602 Godunov even resorted to the restoration of Youriev Day.
To tell the truth, he permitted only the export, not the going out of peasants.
Noblemen thus rescaled their manors from final desolation and ruin. The permission
given by Godunov concerned only small servant people, and didn’t spread on the
grounds of the members of the Boyar Duma and the clergy. But even this step
didn’t increase the tsar’s popularity. National revolts began. The largest one
was the revoltunder leadership of the ataman Khlop in 1603. Cossacks and
lackeys took pant in it mainly. The tsar’s army managed to defeat the rebels
but nothing could calm down the country – it was too late. There were rumours
in the country that the genuine tsarevitch is alive. Godunov understood the
threat, as in comparison with the “borne” sovereign he has nobody. No wonder
his vituperators called him “slavetsar”.
At the beginning of 1604 the letter from a foreigner from Narva was
intercepted. It contained the information that miraculously saved Dmitriy was
with the Cossacks and Moscow would see some big misfortunes soon. The
investigation proved that the imposter was Grigiriy Otrepjev, coming from the
galitek noblemen, who ran to Poland in 1602.
On the 16th of October in 1604 the Fals Dmitriy with few Poles and
Cossacks set out to Moscow. Ewen the Moscow patriarch’s damnations didn’t cool
the national enthusiasm. In a January 1605 governmental armies, however,
defeated the imposter and he had to go to Putivl. But the imposter’s power was
not in the army, but in the people’s belief that he was the heir-at-law. The
Cossacks from all the parts of Russia began come to Dmitriy.
On the 13th of April in 1605 Boris Godunov seemed to be cheerful and
healthy, ate a lot and with big appetite. Then went to the tower, from which he
often surreged Moscow. Soon he descended, saying that he was unwell. The doctor
was send for, but the tsar fill worse, blood came from his nose and ears. The
tsar fainted away, and soon died. The were rumours that Godunov poisoned
himself in an attack of despair. He was buried in Kremlin Arkhangelsk
Cathedral/ Boris’s son Feodor, an educated and extremely clever young man, came
to the throne.
Soon the riot, caused by Dmitriy the False, took place in Moscow. The
tsar Feodor and his mother were killed, and only Boris’s daughter Xenia stayed
alive. But the desolate fate of the imposter’s slave-woman awaited her. It was
officiality declared that the tsar and his mother poisoned themselves. Their
bodies were showcases. Then Boris’s coffin was taken out from Arkhangelsk
Cathedral and buried again in Varsonotsk Monastery near Lubjanka. His family were buried in the same
place, without bural services as suicides.