The first Romanovs
Statue in Kiev of
|Michael's accession ended the Time of Troubles, but some loose
ends had to be tied up. The rebel Cossack leader, Zarutskii, was
defeated and central control reestablished in Astrakhan and the
lower Volga region.|
In February 1617, Sweden finally agreed in the Treaty of Stolbovo to
withdraw from Novgorod, but she retained all the Baltic coastline.
After further intermittent fighting with Poland, Russia ceded
Smolensk and lands in Western Russia in the Treaty of Deulino
|The Treaty of Deulino also led to the return of Michael's
father, Filaret (Philaret) Romanov (who had been
imprisoned by the Poles).
Filaret soon became Patriarch of the Russian church. He was far more
intelligent and strong-willed than his son, and effectively
controlled government until his death in 1633.|
In 1632, Russia attacked Poland to try and regain Smolensk and
the western lands. But their army performed poorly and Russia was
attacked simultaneously from the south by the Crimean Tatars. The
Russians were forced (February 1634) to accept an armistice that let
Poland retain Smolensk.
|Russia's real enemy was the Crimean Tatars who repeatedly raided
southern Russia seizing slaves and plundering property. Throughout
the sixteenth century and during the first half of the seventeenth
century, many thousands of Russians were seized, enslaved,
and sold in the slave-markets of the Ottoman empire. In 1637, the
Cossacks (who held the front line against Tatar incursions) seized
the Turkish fortress of Azov. In 1641 the Turks (overlords of the
Tatar khanates) launched a
counterattack and bullied the Russians into abandoning the Cossacks.
The Zemsky sobor had no stomach for the costs of war,
and Michael's finances were still in a parlous state. Russia did
nothing to retaliate as the Turks encouraged the Tatars to raid
still more boldly in 1643 and 1644.
"The long columns of captives wending their
way across the steppe into slavery were the most eloquent
testimony to Russia's continued inability, despite thirty
years of slow recovery, to safeguard her essential security"
Mikhaylovich) was only sixteen when he acceded to the throne. Real
power was held by the boyar Boris Morozov, who largely
controlled government even after popular demonstrations in 1648 led to
his formal dismissal.
Morozov encouraged Alexis to admire the West, but Alexis limited
Westernization to the upper-class elite. He tried to bring the army up
to modern Western standards and encouraged commerce - especially when
he could profit personally from it. He introduced ballet at his court. The Tsar was also extremely pious;
he spent hours at Church services and frequently fasted.
Morozov attempted to
increase government revenues by heavy taxes on tobacco and salt. The
salt levy was so unpopular that it was withdrawn in 1647, but prices
remained high and Moscow revolted in June 1648.
To appease the crowds,
Alexis executed two of his advisors, and Morozov fled to a monastery.
Alexis also called a zemsky sobor. This instituted a new legal
code, the Ulozheniye of 1649. The Ulozheniye
codified existing law, granted the service nobility rights, and made taxation
more equitable, but it also formally tied serfs to the land.
In the 1650s, the government also attempted to
raise money by debasing the coinage. The replacement of silver coins
with copper caused inflation and economic dislocation. The "copper
rebellion" of 1662 was one expression of popular discontent.
In 1670 Stenka (Stepan) Razin, a Cossack
hetman (leader) from the Upper Don region, who had successfully
raided Russian and Persian settlements since 1667, raised an
army and marched on Moscow, determined to purge the Tsar's court of
greedy boyars. His 7,000 Cossacks were joined by many peasants,
and numbered about 20,000 by the time it reached Simbirsk.
But the ill-trained and ill-equipped rabble were no match
for troops trained in Western European warfare. They were easily
defeated (October 1670) and Razin fled.
Razin on his way to execution
Razin was captured by rival Cossacks and sent to
Moscow (April 1671) where he was tortured and executed in Red Square
In the the early seventeenth century the Ukraine
was largely under the control of Poland-Lithuania. It was largely peopled by
Cossacks. They spoke their own dialect (sometimes called Ruthenian), and followed their own customs
and culture in small quasi-democratic, self-governing communities.
Poland hoped to make the unruly Cossacks more controllable by giving
noble status to Cossack leaders while enserfing the poorer Cossacks.
Like Russians they were Orthodox in religion, but Poland wanted to
bring Ukraine into the Catholic Church. They tried to do this by introducing the
Uniate Church, which was Orthodox in its rituals and employed a
Slavonic liturgy, but which accepted the primacy of the Pope.
The attempt to Catholicize and enserf the
Cossacks resulted in unrest from 1624 onwards, culminating in the
great rebellion led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Chmielnicki , Russian Bogdan Khmelnitsky) in 1648.
Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a
nobleman from Chigrin, originally cooperated with the Poles, but after
a dispute with them fled (1647) to the
Zaporozhian Cossacks. With the help of Crimean Tatars he attacked
Polish forces. Many Ukrainian peasants, townsfolk and Orthodox priests joined
his rebellion. After encountering defeat at the Battle of Beresteczko (1651)
(resulting in part from the fact that the Tatars turned coats and
abandoned the Cossacks)
Khmelnytsky turned to Russia for help.
Agreement (1654) the Cossack rada (council) agreed to
submit to Russian rule in exchange for help against the Poles.
Russia invaded Poland (retaking Smolensk in October 1654) and
thirteen years of intermittent warfare followed. Russia and Poland
each gained and lost control of the Ukraine during this time. In 1657, Khmelnytsky
died and there followed a period of anarchy and internal conflict known in
Ukrainian history as "The Ruin."
Andrusovo (1667) divided the Ukraine at the Dnieper
river, giving the eastern part (including Kiev) to Russia and
the western to Poland.
Russia's control of the Ukraine was soon
challenged by Turkey. But in the long-term the absorption of the
Ukraine into the Russian state was very important. Not only was it a
fertile and productive region, but also it was far more Westernized than
most of Russia and thus helped Russia proceed with modernization.
|Learning had never been of great importance in the Russian
Orthodox church - ritual was. However, traditional Russian liturgy
and rites had grown ever further away from those of the rest of the
Orthodox communion. An Orthodox revival centered on Kiev had begun, and in 1616 the Patriarch Dionysius had tried to bring some
of its reforms to Russia. He met fierce opposition from
traditionalists who believed that the Russian church was right, and that
all the other Orthodox churches had been corrupted by Catholic and Islamic
|Tsar Alexis was also interested in reform and during the early
1650s invited scholars from Kiev, the metropolitan of Nazareth, the
patriarch of Jerusalem, and the former patriarch of Constantinople to
visit him at court. Most importantly, Alexis made Nikon patriarch
of Moscow in 1652.|
|Nikon (1605-81) (originally Nikita Minin) was a forceful
personality; born a peasant, he rose through the ranks of the
Russian Church, and impressed Alexis mightily. Nikon was determined
to assert the authority of his office and be (like
Filaret before him) co-ruler of Russia.|
||Nikon was also a convinced reformer. From 1653 onwards he tried
to introduce ceremonial reforms that would bring Russian liturgy and
ceremonial in line with the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople.
questions at issue in the dispute between the reformers and the
Old Believers included: the use of two or three
fingers in making the sign of the cross; the
correct spelling of the name of Jesus; whether religious processions
should move towards or against the sun; should the exclamation alleluia!
be made two or three times.
Alexis backed Nikon's reforms but grew tired of
Nikon's power plays. When in 1658, Nikon made a spectacular
resignation threat, Alexis accepted it. Nikon tried to back-pedal but
was finally deposed by an assembly of churchmen in 1666-67. Nikon was
exiled to a monastery.
The same council, however, endorsed Nikon's reforms, and anathematized the
opponents of the changes, whose numbers were growing steadily.
The state joined in penalizing these "Old Believers" (starovertsy)
- up to 20,000 of whom (inspired by millenarian fervor) burnt
themselves to death in their churches rather than abandon the old
The Old Believers' most eloquent spokesman was the archpriest Avvakum.
autobiography gave voice to the passionate commitment to Russian
tradition that inspired the movement. He was burnt at the stake in
A few attempted resistance - the monks of Solovetsky were
besieged by the Tsar's troops from 1668 to 1676 before finally
[Despite persecution the Old Believers survived on the fringes of
Russian society. In 1971, a council of the Russian Orthodox Church
finally reversed the anathemas of 1665 and permitted the old rites.]
"O you teachers
of Christendom, Rome fell away long ago and lies prostrate, and
the Poles fell in the like ruin with her, being to the end the
enemies of the Christian. And among you Orthodoxy is of mongrel
breed; and no wonder ---if by the violence of the Turkish Mohmut
[Mohammed] you have become impotent, and henceforth it is you
who should come to us to learn" (Avvakum.)
Fedor III (1676-82)
Fedor III (Fyodor Alekseyevich b. 1661)
was too young and too ill to accomplish much himself, and others controlled policy.
One achievement of the reign was the final
abolition of the mestnichestvo system in 1682. The tsar
was no longer constrained by its rules, but many boyars clung
to its memory to preserve their status.
(Not all offspring shown)
Fedor III had a younger brother Ivan - like
himself the son of Mary Miloslavskaia and like himself a sickly child.
He also had a younger half-brother, Peter, the son of Alexis' second
wife Nathalie (Natalya
Kirillovna Naryshkina.) When Fedor died childless in 1682, the two
boyar families (Miloslavsky and Naryshkin) jockeyed to place
their own candidate on the throne.
Initially, the Naryshkin party triumphed, having
Peter declared Tsar in April 1682. But then the Milolavsky
family, led by Sophia, Ivan's sister, organized a coup amongst
the Moscow garrison, murdered leading Naryshkins and had Ivan V
proclaimed senior Tsar.
Peter & Ivan
Alekseyevna) then became regent, and made her lover, Vasilii
Golitsyn, her chief advisor. Golitsyn was eager to improve ties with
the West, and negotiated a peace treaty with Poland (1686) confirming
the Truce of Andrusov. He improved commercial relations with Sweden
and England, and joined the Holy
League against Turkey. Unfortunately, the campaigns against the
Crimean Tatars failed entirely.
These defeats helped strengthen Peter and the
Naryshkins, so Sophia tried to act preemptively and stage another coup
(August 1689.) This time most of the soldiers (streltsy)
failed to support Sophia. Sophia was sent to a nunnery and Peter
In practice, his mother
Kirillovna Naryshkina) and uncle (Lev) in association with the
Patriarch of Moscow (Ioakim) ran affairs until 1694 when Peter himself