In the early 1600s Russia suffered a traumatic civil war, political instability and social chaos. This period is known as the Time of Troubles. It left a mark on Russian political institutions and historical culture. But most of all it featured remarkable characters – the self-made Tsar, Boris Godunov; his sister, the first female ruler of Russia, Irina Godunova; and, most enignmatically of all, the claimant to the throne, known to history as False Dmitri. This story can only be fully understood, however, by investigating two murder mysteries, both involving the sons of Ivan the Terrible.
In preparing this episode, I used Chester Dunning, Russia’s First Civil War: the Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty, and Mark B. Smith The Russia Anxiety, and how history can resolve it. They are brilliant books, do check them out.
Music – brief excerpts from Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov, Vienna Philharmonic
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Konstantin Makovsky‘s Appeal of Minin (1896) depicts Kuzma Minin against the background of the church of St. John the Baptist appealing to the people of Nizhny Novgorod to raise a militia against the Polish invaders and Sigismund III Vasa.