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Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)


Explore this Section:

The Time of Troubles through the Reigns of the First Romanovs: A Summary of Russian History
Russia Symbol Introduction
Russia Symbol The False Dmitriis
Russia Symbol A National Rally
Russia Symbol The First Romanovs
Russia Symbol The Schism in the Russian Orthodox Church
The Time of Troubles through the Reigns of the First Romanovs: A Summary of World History

Russia's Globalization:
A Key

Events marked Russia Symbol are specific to Muscovy/Russia's internal development.
Those marked World Symbol are important world historical or cultural events.
Engagement Symbol indicates specific points of sociocultural or military engagement between Muscovy/Russia and foreign powers or individuals.



     The Time of Troubles through the Reigns of the First Romanovs: A Summary of Russian History

A Kremlin Palace Doorway
  A Kremlin Palace Doorway
NYPL, Slavic and Baltic Division

During this period, Muscovy’s engagements with the outside world were both military and cultural. A constant series of wars with Muscovy’s neighbors, Poland and Sweden, punctuated the era. While foreigners in Moscow were required to live in a special suburb and were forbidden from mixing with the native population, the tsars became aware of the desirability of importing or imitating western European innovations. Embassies were sent to all the major European states, European artisans and officers were recruited, the acquisition of Ukraine opened the door to western and central European political and cultural ideas, and a treaty regularized relations with China. This infusion of fresh air penetrated the upper circles of Muscovite society and would bring Muscovy out of its former isolation and xenophobia.

Dmitrii Ioannovich
  Dmitrii Ioannovich
NYPL, Slavic and Baltic Division

During his long reign, Tsar Ivan IV (r. 1533–84) came to be known as “the Terrible.” While his policies were commendable in the first part of his reign, beginning in roughly 1560, the Livonian War and the domestic war against the upper classes—both his own inventions—brought Russia economic, social, and political ruin. In a fit of rage, he killed his son and heir, and the 800-year-old Rurikid dynasty came to an end. Ivan’s policies ushered in the aptly named Time of Troubles. For a while, Ivan’s somewhat feeble-minded son, Fedor I (r. 1584–98), ruled with the aid of his brother-in-law, Boris Godunov (r. 1598–1605), a very effective and popular administrator. Through his diplomacy, a Patriarchate was established in Moscow, making the head of the Russian church one of the twelve highest-ranking officials in Orthodoxy and making Russia, automatically, one of the leading centers of Christianity in the world. With Fedor’s death, the Rurikid line ended (in 1591, the nine-year-old Dmitrii of Uglich, Ivan’s son by his seventh wife and the only other surviving male in the royal family, had died—but under mysterious circumstances). Patriarch Job (d. 1607) then offered the crown to Boris, and a specially convened Assembly of the Land (zemskii sobor) elected him tsar in 1598. Boris, however, felt insecure because he lacked a dynastic claim. He began acting despotically to remove his supposed enemies and his popularity waned.


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