May 01, 2020

The Elusive Elena

The Elusive Elena
Ivan and Lena at the birth of their son Dmitry, as seen in the 2016 miniseries Sophia.

The ruler is about 35. He is tall, but slight. Generally he is a very good looking fellow. He has two brothers. And a mother who is still living. He also has a son from his first wife, but he [the son] is out of favor with his father, since he has treated his stepmother (Sophia Palaiologina) badly. He also has two daughters. They say that the stepmother is pregnant.


Yelena of Moldavia (1465-1505) is one of Russia’s most intriguing but elusive historical figures. Born the daughter of a great warrior king and among the most eligible of European princesses of her era, Yelena had a life that seemed destined for greatness. Instead, she was crushed by fortune’s wheel: she lost her husband, her position, and her son’s inheritance in a devastating turn of events. Indeed, her story is among the most tragic and poignant in Russian royal history; it also offers a fascinating vignette into the cultural and political currents as Russia entered the last century of Rurikid rule (862-1610).

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