May 01, 2020

The Forgotten Brides



The Forgotten Brides
The Tsar Choosing a Wife Ilya Repin (1886)

A fair amount has been written about the various wives of Ivan the Terrible, but the sad fates of the wives of his son, Tsarevich Ivan, are less well known.

In 1571, Ivan the Terrible decided to wed for the third time. As was customary, young ladies of high birth were brought from various corners of Muscovy to be paraded before the tsar. The process was associated with all sorts of court intrigues, as various boyars tried to promote their candidates.

For himself, Ivan chose Marfa Sobakina, who wound up dying a mere two weeks after the wedding. But during that same viewing, Ivan also picked out a bride for his 17-year-old son and heir, also Ivan. Yevdokia (often transliterated based on the Greek spelling as Eudoxia) Saburova was descended from the same line as another ill-starred tsaritsa: Solomonia, the first wife of the Terrible’s father, Vasily III (who also figures in our story on Yelena of Moldavia, page 36). Solomonia had not managed to produce an heir and was forced into a convent so that Vasily could marry Ivan’s mother, Yelena Glinskaya.


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