times of trouble

In 1598, Ivan the Terrible’s feeble-minded son Fedor died, ending the hereditary dynastic line of Riurik. Boris Godunov, a nobleman who had been acting as regent, was elected to rule. His short reign (1598-1605) was plagued by famines in which thousands died. In 1604, a pretender to the throne claimed to be Ivan the Terrible’s son Dmitry who actually had died as a child. This “False Dmitry” marched on Muscovy with Polish support and seized power from Boris Godunov, only to be deposed the following year. Muscovy’s chaotic political situation invited both popular rebellion and Polish invasion. It was not until 1612 that the Russians were able to unite and expel the Poles from Moscow. This victory led to the election in 1613 of a new line of Russian rulers—the Romanovs.

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