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Today in 1598 - Boris Godunov becomes Tsar of Russia

7. January 2010 by Admin 0 Comments

Although his coronation did not occur until later in 1598, today marks the appointment of Boris Fyodorovich Godunov as Russia's first non-Rurikid tsar (1598-1605). The Rurik Dynasty was Russia's (Kievan Rus) ruling dynasty from 862.


Boris Godunov was the most famous member of an ancient, now extinct, Russian family of Tatar origin. He was the brother-in-law and closest advisor to the last Rurik Tsar Feodor Ivanovich, and upon Feodor's death, Godunov was elected by a Great National Assembly.


Although considered a great Tsar by historians, his reign started the period known as "The Time of Troubles" that lasted until the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. During this time, there were wars (Polish-Muscovite War), widespread famine, and a struggle for power among the Russian Aristocracy.


During his rule, the Russian Orthodox Church received its patriarchate, placing it on an equal footing with the ancient Eastern churches and freeing it from the influence of the Patriarch of Constantinople. This pleased the Tsar, as Feodor took a great interest in church affairs. Boris' most important domestic reform was the 1597 decree forbidding the peasantry to go from one landowner to another, thus binding them to the soil. The object of this ordinance was to secure revenue, but it led to the institution of serfdom in its most oppressive form.


In 1825, Aleksandr Pushkin wrote a play dramatizing his reign and life entitled Boris Godunov, which was based on Shakespeare's Macbeth.


Boris died after a lengthy illness and a stroke in  April 1605. He left one son, Feodor II, who succeeded him and ruled for only a few months, until he and Boris' widow were murdered by the enemies of the Godunovs in Moscow in June 1605.