Table of contents:

Boyar showdown in the Moscow kingdom
Boyar showdown in the Moscow kingdom

Boyar showdowns did not stop throughout the history of the Muscovite kingdom (XVI-XVII centuries). Poisoning an opponent, starving them to death or imprisoning them in a dungeon is common.

Who are the boyars

Boyars appeared in Ancient Russia - they are senior warriors of princes and landowners, more noble only the princes themselves. The less power remained with the popular assemblies (veche), the more the boyars took upon themselves. In the Moscow principality (and then the kingdom), the boyars are the political elite of the state.

Among them, there were usually many relatives of the great dukes and kings. The position of the clans changed all the time. For example, the tsar chose a noble girl as his wife - and immediately showered her family with favors: land, money, ranks, personal attention … So, he infringed on the interests of other clans, especially the clan of the former queen, hence the conflict. And there were always enough other reasons for enmity among the nobility.

In pre-Petrine Russia, the boyars played an exceptional role in state administration. They formed the sovereign's court and the Boyar Duma (this is the highest court after the tsar, and the legislative body, and the monarch's council), from among the boyars they appointed clerical officials, generals and judges, royal servants and bodyguards, diplomats and treasurers … In general, these are associates Grand Duke, but often his mortal enemies. The rulers of Russia are the eternal hostages of the nobility.

Of course, each boyar clan sought to influence the tsar, and it is better to become related with him, in order to win, as the pre-revolutionary historian Ivan Zabelin once put it, "boyar honors and greed." When great riches are at stake, any means are used. Boyar conflicts, conspiracies and "showdowns" are practically a permanent phenomenon and even the essence of Russian political life.

The Glinskys against the Shuisky, the Shuisky against the Godunovs, the Godunovs against the Romanovs … The most noble boyar dynasties fought for the throne or a place near the throne, boyars of a lower rank were no less fiercely enmity for their places in the service hierarchy of the Moscow kingdom.

Boyar wars: boyar boyar - wolf

In these boyar wars, nothing was shy about - forgery, denunciations, slander, threats, torture, executions and poisoning. Poisons in general have become one of the main ways to eliminate an opponent or his entire clan. This is eloquently evidenced by the fate of the Russian queens of the 16th - 17th centuries: half of the wives of Ivan the Terrible were poisoned, Mikhail Romanov also lost his wife and bride due to court intrigues. Arsenic, lead and mercury are the main weapons in the boyar's arsenal.

Enmity flared up with particular force during periods of weakening of the monarch's power. After the death of Vasily III, the widow of the Grand Duke Elena Glinskaya became regent under the minor Ivan IV. The "boyar rule" began, which lasted for several years, with arrests and murders. First, they arrested the brother of the deceased prince, Yuri, who was placed in a tower and starved to death there.

Also, Andrei Staritsky, the second brother of her deceased husband, soon died of hunger in captivity on the orders of Elena. In 1538 Elena herself died - there were rumors that the Shuiskys killed her, and for good reason - as the forensic scientists found out at the beginning of the 21st century, her remains contain a huge amount of mercury, lead, arsenic and selenium! Only she was buried - and the boyar Mikhail Glinsky imprisoned and killed Elena's favorite and lover boyar Ivan Fedorovich Ovchina-Obolensky.

After that, the boyars - Belsky and Shuisky - were carried away by plundering the treasury and fighting with each other. At first Ivan Belsky triumphed, but then the Shuisky exiled him and killed him. While Ivan IV remained too young, they did not reckon with him.

They even forgot to feed the Grand Duke in time, which he later recalled when he fought against the boyar treason. Intrigues, executions and murders were common at court, but Ivan finally matured, took revenge on the offenders and deprived the Shuiskys of their power. Boyarin Andrei Mikhailovich Shuisky in 1543on his order, the hounds were killed, after which the nobility finally remembered who rules them and what obedience is.

The Boyar Regency Council under the son of the Terrible Fyodor also did not become a peaceful collegial body. It was joined by Boris Godunov, the king's brother-in-law, who dealt with the rest of the council members and became the "gray cardinal" of the Muscovite kingdom - in fact, he ruled the country.

For 13 years, he uncovered more than one conspiracy against himself and broke many enemies - whom he sent into exile, whom he forced to take monastic vows, and whom he killed. After Fyodor's death, the Zemsky Sobor elected Boris Godunov to the throne, and if not for the massive famine and Troubles, who knows … this boyar could have founded a dynasty that would rule Russia for centuries.

The Time of Troubles is generally the expanse of boyar vanity. Either at the height of Vasily Shuisky, now they overthrow him, now the boyars for the False Dmitry, now they kill him, now they rule themselves ("The Seven Boyars" headed by Prince F. I. Mstislavsky). Boyar conflicts did not stop throughout the entire 17th century, even when the Romanovs reigned.

There were no longer any serious encroachments on the throne, but the boyars still fought desperately for influence over the tsars. Mikhail Romanov from the very beginning was forced to declare that "thinking about all the affairs with the boyars", that is, the Boyar Duma, would rule, and he usually indicated: "The sovereign indicated, but the boyars were sentenced." The relatives of the tsar and tsarina and the most noble courtiers were sitting in the Duma. Under Alexei Mikhailovich, individual aristocrats had a special influence - BI Morozov, for example, A. Matveev, Yu. Romodanovsky; under Fedor Alekseevich - the boyar Yazykov and Likhachev.

Gradually, from the middle of the 17th century, the Boyar Duma lost its significance - the tsars since Ivan the Terrible strove to become true autocrats and limit the claims of the aristocracy, and now the preconditions for this have developed. Alexei Mikhailovich deprived the Duma of the right of its own free will to make decisions that have the force of law, Zemsky Sobors were terminated. Peter I stopped granting to the boyars and duma ranks altogether, and the Duma "died out".

The monarch did not want to rule "in the old days". The place of the boyars was occupied by nobles, personally loyal and indebted to the king (and not to the glory of their family and their hereditary lands). The old Moscow government bodies were replaced by the new St. Petersburg ones. Together with the boyars, boyars' intrigues have become a thing of the past. However, the nobles turned out to be no less greedy and demanding class.

Popular by topic