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Let’s get acquainted online with the exhibition “The Decline of the Dynasty. The last Rurikovichs. False Dmitry “.

With the death of the son of Ivan IV (the Terrible) Fyodor Ioannovich in 1598, the Rurik dynasty, the descendants of the semi-legendary Varangian prince, who came to rule Novgorod in 862, was interrupted. The most tragic period in the history of Rus began.

The Time of Troubles saw natural disasters, the Russian-Polish and Russian-Swedish wars, the civil war and the emergence of impostors. Only in 1613, Mikhail Fedorovich, the founder of the Romanov dynasty, ascended the throne.

The exhibition, which has opened in the exhibition halls of the Patriarchal Palace and the Assumption Belfry, helps to understand the secrets of the late 16th – early 17th centuries. The exposition includes items from the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, as well as a number of Russian museums and the State Art Collections of Dresden. The article contains 10 of the most interesting exhibits.

Sigismund’s plan for Moscow

The most detailed of the surviving plans of the city from the pre-Petrine period was commissioned by the Polish king Sigismund III during the Russian-Polish war of 1609-1618. Sigismund’s detailed plan depicts Moscow within the modern Garden Ring and conveys the appearance of buildings well. For example, on it you can see the Old English Court, the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel in the Kremlin, the Patriarchal Chambers. The map is accompanied by a text with an index of objects and a brief informational information about the structure of Moscow and its inhabitants.

The original plan is dated 1610. The exhibition presents one of his copies made for the atlas Civitates orbis terrarum. Theatri praecipuarum totius mundi urbium (translated from Latin – “Atlas of the cities of the earthly world. Review of the noble cities of the whole world”) 1618.

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The Royal Book of the Litsevoy Chronicle Code

The Royal Book is the last part of the Observational Codex, the largest (about 10 thousand sheets) chronicle work of Medieval Russia, created at the behest of Ivan the Terrible in the 1560s-1570s. The word “obverse” in the title of the set indicates that it is illustrated, that is, it is presented “in faces.”

The Royal Book captures in detail all the important events of the reign of the last Rurikovichs: the wedding ceremony for the reign of Grand Duke Ivan Vasilyevich, the future Ivan IV, his wedding with Tsarina Anastasia Romanovna, the capture of Kazan, the birth of heirs and much more.

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Ivan the Terrible’s golden ladle

This luxurious utensil was created in memory of the victory of Ivan the Terrible in one of the battles of the Livonian War, which began in 1558. During its first stage, Russian troops took over 20 cities and fortresses in the Baltic States, including Narva and Dorpat. The most important strategic point on the Lithuanian direction was Polotsk, which, together with the adjacent lands, the Rurikovichs considered theirs. In January 1563, the city was sieged, bombed and stormed, the local garrison capitulated.

Then Ivan the Terrible ordered to take Polotsk gold and make a ladle from it, decorated with precious stones and pearls, casting, engraving and niello. An inscription with the full title of Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich is engraved on the edge of the ladle, and on the bottom there is an inscription on what occasion and what it is made of.

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Portrait of False Dmitry I

The death of the eight-year-old Tsarevich Dmitry, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible, in 1591 still remains a mystery. There is no clear answer to the question of whether it was accidental or planned by Boris Godunov, who later ascended the throne. However, there were rumors that the boy did not die. This gave rise to the emergence of impostors – people posing as a miracle of the surviving prince.

False Dmitry I, or, as he called himself, Dmitry Ivanovich, arrived in Moscow from Poland in the summer of 1605 and was soon crowned king. He had a chance to rule for a little less than a year – in the spring of 1606, he was killed. Contemporaries spoke ambiguously about the Pretender’s personality, but they were unanimous in describing his expressive appearance: “he was of average height, without a beard at all, strong, strong build, dark-skinned, with a wart near the nose, under his right eye.”

This 1606 engraving is one of the best and most reliable depictions of False Dmitry I. It was created by Lucas Kilian (1579-1637), a German draftsman and printmaker, master of ornamental engraving, from a large family of Augsburg artists and jewelers.

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Armor of False Dmitry I

According to the memoirs of contemporaries, False Dmitry I was a sturdy stocky man of average height. This is indirectly confirmed by the preserved parts of his ceremonial armor. However, the size is not the only thing that can be interesting for this exhibit. The armor was made in the armory of the famous Milanese gunsmith of the time, Pompeo della Chiesa, located in the Sforza castle.

The pieces of armor are made of iron and are richly decorated. On them you can see etched and gilded floral ornament, oval medallions with royal double-headed eagles, circles with images of the instruments of Christ’s suffering and with the coats of arms of the kingdoms and lands mentioned in the royal title. Also on the armor is the large royal seal of Ivan the Terrible – with its help the impostor confirmed the legitimacy of his power.

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Coronation Medal of False Dmitry I

Coronation medals first appeared in Russia under False Dmitry I, who sought to form the image of a European ruler and chose the appropriate memorials, that is, items associated with his reign. Such medals were minted in Poland and Moscow for the wedding of the impostor with Marina Mnishek. The most famous is the Polish medal, on which False Dmitry is presented in three quarters – with his head uncovered, in a cloak. Numerous repetitions of it were made later, such as this medal from the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, which can be seen at the exhibition.

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Chromolithography “Reception of Polish ambassadors by False Dmitry I in the Faceted Chamber”

False Dmitry went to Moscow with the support of the Polish king: he promised to transfer part of the Russian lands to him and introduce Catholicism in Russia. The promises of the Pretender were not destined to come true, and the reason for this was the incorrectly named title of the imaginary sovereign.

In May 1606, shortly before the death of “Dmitry Ivanovich”, Polish ambassadors arrived at the court. They handed him the letter of Sigismund III, but the tsar refused to accept it – the Polish ruler called him simply “the prince of Moscow”, and not “the invincible Caesar and emperor.”

The chromolithography (that is, color lithography) depicts the very reception of the Polish ambassadors in the Faceted Chamber. On it you can see the main characters of the Time of Troubles: False Dmitry I (he is located in the right, red corner of the chamber), Polish ambassadors, one of whom holds out the unfortunate letter to the tsar, and Yuri Mnishek, the father of Marina Mnishek (he is depicted in profile to the right of the ambassadors).

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Scarf “The Story of Dmitry the Pretender”

Who the False Dmitry I really was is one of the main mysteries of the Time of Troubles. There are several hypotheses. The most popular was the assumption that the monk Grigory Otrepiev, who escaped from the Chudov Monastery, was hiding under the name of Dmitry Ivanovich.

It was this legend that became the foundation for the creation of the official version and was reflected in historical and fiction literature. A vivid example of its vitality is a commemorative scarf with fragments of engravings from the novel “Demetrius the Pretender” by Thaddeus Bulgarin, first published in 1830.

The headscarf depicts scenes from the history of the impostor with the captions: “Sigismund recognizes the impostor as Demetrius”, “The impostor Demetrius changes faith”, “Grishka is made by Dimitri the Impostor”, “Grishka is ostensibly ill in Poland”, “The impostor with the help of the king goes to Moscow”, “ The meeting of the Pretender by the citizens in Moscow ”,“ Kaleria denounces the Pretender in Moscow ”,“ Death of the Pretender in the village of Kotlakh ”and so on.

Armistice treaty

After the death of False Dmitry I, Vasily Shuisky ascended the throne. He ruled from 1606 to 1610, at the most difficult time for the state. This armistice agreement for three years and 11 months, which he concluded with Sigismund III, testifies to his desperate situation. In the spring, the army of the new Pretender moved to Moscow.

Unfortunately, the armistice agreement did not give Shuisky anything – the Polish troops who came with False Dmitry II continued to ravage the Russian land, and Marina Mnishek, released from Moscow, recognized her husband and “true sovereign” in the second impostor. Shuisky was captured by the Poles and spent the last two years of his life in captivity.

Royal titular

The continuity of the dynasty from the Rurik to the Romanovs is reflected in the Tsar’s Titular Book, or the Great Tsar’s Book. The illustrated handwritten book was created in 1672, under Alexei Mikhailovich, the second Russian ruler of the Romanovs. The titular books contained information about the titles of Russian and foreign monarchs, coats of arms and seals.

The text for the Tsar’s titular was written by the diplomat, traveler and geographer Nikolai Milescu-Spafari and the clerk of the Ambassadorial Prikaz Pyotr Dolgovo. In addition to the texts, the titular book contains portraits of the kings, made in silver and colored paints. They were created by Simon Ushakov’s student Ivan Maksimov and the patriarchal icon painter Dmitry Lvov, gold painter Grigory Blagushin and other famous masters of that time.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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