Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 31 стр.



Clashes with Neighbors
In 1587 Sigismund III from the Swedish house of Vasa was elected to the
Polish-Lithuanian throne. Russia vigorously opposed this election since it threatened
to create a large state on her western border. But, despite Russian opposition Sweden
and Poland-Lithuania were joined in 1592, when Sigismund succeeded to the
Swedish throne. However, the Swedes themselves objected and Sigismund was
forced to return to Poland. Russia had been in an almost permanent state of war with
Poland. But in 1587 a 15-year armistice was signed between Poland and Russia and
Sigismund confirmed this return to peace.
Using this armistice with Poland, Russia than tried to recover some territory
lost to Sweden by Ivan IV. The Russians actually occupied Yam and Ivanograd, but
failed to take their major objective, Narva. Peace was finally restored again with
Sweden in 1595. But Russia' access to the Baltic was still denied her and
disagreements with Sweden, therefore, continued to plague Russian policy-makers
and became another cause of the great war with Sweden under Peter the Great.
Dimitry Alive?
During this time the actual tsar was Fedor, but he was totally incapable of
ruling. The real power was in the hands of a group of boyars. Among these the most
powerful turned out to be Boris Gudonov, whose only claim to prominence was the
marriage of his sister to the feeble tsar Fedor. Although he had no legitimate claim to
the throne Boris Gudonov managed to have himself elected to the tsarship in 1598.
For a while managed fairly well, but then the problem of the Pseudo-Dimitry popped
up and gave him considerable trouble. It also invited foreign entanglements.
Dimitry, the brother of Fedor and son of Maria Nagoi, Ivan IV's last and illegal
wife, was the only legitimate heir. But Dimitry had apparently died at Uglich in 1591;
some think he was killed through a conspiracy of boyars inspired by Boris Gudonov.
This, of course, opened the way' for Boris to assume the throne after Fedor died in
1598. However, a series of pretenders now claimed that Dimitry had not really died
and that therefore the legitimate heir was still about the land and should assume his
One of these pretenders was a fellow by the name of Gregory Otrepov, who set
himself up on the Dniester in a castle owned by the Polish nobleman George
Muiszek. He was supported by many other Polish nobles and even became a Roman
Catholic in 1804. Part of the reason for the conversion was a proposed union of east
and west and the introduction of Roman Catholicism in Russia. Eventually Otrepov
became engaged to Marina Muiszek, the daughter of George. Yet, thus far the Polish
government was not, apparently involved in these machinations. It was a purely
Russian phenomenon, according to the Russian historian Platonov. Some even claim
that the Jesuits and the Pope were behind this scheme, but there is no proof for that.
What does seem fairly certain is that the powerful boyar family of the Romanovs and
other boyars wanted to use Dimitry as a weapon against Boris Gudonov. As a result