False Dmitry II

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False Dmitry II

False Dmitri II (died 11 December 1610) (Russian: Лжедимитрий II, other transliterations: Dmitriy, Dmitri, Dmitrii), also called the rebel of Tushino, was the second of three pretenders to the Russian throne who claimed to be Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible. The real Dmitry had died under uncertain circumstances, most likely an assassination attempt in 1591, at the age of nine, at his widowed mother's appanage residence in Uglich.

The second False Dmitry first appeared on the scene around 20 July 1607, at Starodub. He is believed to have been either a priest's son or a converted Jew, and was relatively highly educated for the time. He spoke both the Russian and Polish languages and was something of an expert in liturgical matters. He pretended at first to be the Muscovite boyar Nagoy, but confessed under torture that he was Tsarevich Dmitry, whereupon he was taken at his word and joined by thousands of Cossacks, Poles, and Muscovites.

In the course of the year Jerzy Mniszech, father of Marina Mniszech, widow of False Dmitry I, 'reunited' him with Marina, who miraculously recognized her late husband in this second Dimitry (subsequently quieting her conscience by privately marrying this impostor, who in no way resembled her first husband). This brought him the support of the magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth who had supported False Dmitry I. Adam Wiśniowiecki, Roman Różyński, and Jan Sapieha decided to support the second pretender as well, supplying him with some early funds and 7500 soldiers, among them Aleksander Józef Lisowski, leader of the infamous mercenary band later known as Lisowczycy.

He quickly captured Karachev, Bryansk, and other towns, was reinforced by the Poles, and in the spring of 1608 advanced upon Moscow, routing the army of Tsar Vasily Shuisky at Bolkhov. Promises of the wholesale confiscation of the estates of the boyars drew many common people to his side. The village of Tushino, twelve versts from the capital, was converted into an armed camp where Dmitry gathered his army. His force initially included 7000 Polish soldiers, 10,000 Cossacks and 10,000 other rag-tag soldiers, including former members of the failed rokosz of Zebrzydowski. His forces soon exceeded 100,000 men. He raised to the rank of patriarch another illustrious captive, Philaret Romanov, and won the allegiance of the cities of Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Vologda, Kashin and several others.

Dmitry's camp at Tushino.

The arrival of King Sigismund III Vasa at Smolensk caused a majority of his Polish supporters to desert him and join with the armies of the Polish king. At the same time, a strong Russo-Swedish army under Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky and Jacob De la Gardie approached Tushino, forcing him to flee his camp disguised as a peasant and go to Kostroma, where Marina joined him and he lived once more in regal state. He made another unsuccessful attack on Moscow, and, supported by the Don Cossacks, recovered a hold over all south-eastern Russia. However, he was killed, while half drunk, on 11 December 1610 by a Tatar princeling, Peter Urusov, whom he had flogged. Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski1 described this event in his memoirs:[1]

Having drunk deep at dinner...he ordered a sleigh to be harnessed, taking flasks of mead to the sleigh. Coming out into the open country, he drank with some boyars. Prince Peter Urusov, together with those several score horsemen with whom he was in league, was riding after him, apparently escorting him. And when the imposter had drunk very well with the boyars, Urusov drew from his holster a pistol which he had ready, and galloping up to the sleigh first shot him with the pistol, then cutting off his head and hand with his saber, took to the road.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Żółkiewski had never met Dmitry, but relied on the information from his many sources. In his memoirs he also wrote that if False Dmitry II had anything in common with False Dmitry I, it was that they were both human beings.

See also[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.