July 01, 2005

False Dmitry I

On July 30, 1605, according to the Julian calendar (or at the beginning of August, according to the Gregorian calendar – the one we use now), one of the most unusual rulers to ever ascend the Russian throne was crowned tsar.

He was crowned Tsar Dmitry Ivanovich. The people – for whom barrels of medovukha [Russian mead or honey wine] had naturally been rolled out and for whom a celebratory feast had been laid – were happy that a true ruler had finally taken the throne, the son of Ivan the Terrible himself.

All the horrors and atrocities that had characterized the reign of Ivan had been forgotten during the 21 years since his death. Such is the people’s collective memory that they did not recall the blood-drenched city of Novgorod, the strangled Metropolitan Filipp, the looted villages, the unsuccessful wars. But they did remember the executions that befell the boyars, and the idea took hold that the son of the great and fearsome Tsar Ivan would also be terrible for the boyars, and therefore good for the people. That the fate of Tsar Dmitry was shrouded in mystery only made it easier for the people to believe he would prove a true, kind tsar.

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