Ivan V of Russia

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Ivan V
Ivan V by anonym (Kremlin museum).jpg
Tsar of All Russia
Reign 7 May 1682 – 8 February 1696
Coronation 25 June 1682
Predecessor Feodor III
Successor Peter I
Co-monarch Peter I
Regent Sophia Alekseyevna (1682–1689)
Born (1666-09-06)6 September 1666
Moscow
Died 8 February 1696(1696-02-08) (aged 29)
Moscow
Burial Archangel Cathedral
Consort Praskovia Saltykova
Issue Tsarevna Maria Ivanovna
Tsarevna Feodosia Ivanovna
Catherine, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Empress Anna of Russia
Tsarevna Praskovia Ivanovna
Full name
Ivan Alekseyevich Romanov
House House of Romanov
Father Alexis
Mother Maria Miloslavskaya
Religion Eastern Orthodox

Ivan V Alekseyevich (Russian: Иван V Алексеевич, 6 September [O.S. 27 August] 1666 – 8 February [O.S. 29 January] 1696) was a joint Tsar of Russia (with his younger half-brother Peter I) who co-reigned between 1682 and 1696. He was the youngest son of Alexis I of Russia by his first wife Maria Miloslavskaya, while Peter was the only son of Alexis by his second wife Natalya Naryshkina. Ivan's reign was only formal, since he had serious physical and mental disabilities. He sat still for hours at a time[1] and needed assistance in order to walk.

Early life and accession[edit]

Ivan V was the 12th child of Tsar Alexis, but he had only two older brothers who reached adulthood. His eldest brother, Alexai, died aged 16 in 1670, and therefore the second brother, Feodor III, became Tsar upon the death of their father. However, Feodor suffered from a disfiguring disease, probably scurvy, and it was feared that he would not be able to sire an heir. This meant that Ivan could well succeed his brother as Tsar, which would be a problem because he suffered from physical and mental problems. Fortunately, Ivan had a younger half-brother, Peter, who was the son of his step-mother Natalia Naryshkina, and was healthy of mind and body. During the whole six-year reign of Ivan's elder brother Feodor III, there existed a faction at court, led by the Naryshkin family, who lobbied for Ivan to be set aside and for Peter to be declared heir apparent. This did not happen, perhaps because Feodor III never gave up hope of producing a son, and when he died in May 1682, Ivan was still the heir to the throne.

Yet the ambitions of the Naryshkin family were well known in court and outside, and when Feodor III died, their rivals and other courtiers spread the rumour that the Naryshkins had caused Ivan to be strangled so that their nephew, the 10-year-old Peter, could become Tsar. This rumour fomented the Moscow Uprising of 1682, and major riots broke out in the city. These disturbances subsided only after Ivan appeared in person in the city and proved to everybody that he was alive and well. In fact, Ivan enjoyed a close relationship with his step-mother and young step-brother. Natalia Naryshkina, who had married Tsar Alexei when Ivan was only four years old, had also grown fond and protective of her simple-minded and rather helpless step-son. In any case, the fact was that during this period, it was not Ivan's step-mother but his full elder sister, Sofia Alekseyevna, who was the most powerful person at court.

That court was now in a dilemma. On the one hand, Ivan was genuinely and clearly incapable of running the government of Russia, and was not even interested in doing that. On the other hand, the city and public did not know or believe that Ivan was incapable, and the riots indicated that any move to set him aside would permanently soil the reputation of his successor, whoever that might be. The good news was that Ivan himself was a guileless boy who did not wish to cause trouble and did not indulge in political activity at all. The ministers and members of the royal family therefore devised a workable formula: Both Ivan and Peter would be crowned together as co-rulers, and the country would be ruled by a regency until the boys came of age; history could then take its own course in later years. Ivan did not really want to become Tsar, but was persuaded to agree to this plan. His full elder sister, Sofia Alekseyevna, was made regent in order to balance various factions at court and ensure that the Naryshkin family would not become too powerful.

Tsar and co-ruler[edit]

On 25 June 1682, less than two months after the death of Feodor III, Ivan and Peter were both crowned in the Cathedral of the Dormition as "dvoetsarstvenniki" (double tsars). A special throne with two seats was commissioned for the occasion (now on display in the Kremlin Armoury). While Ivan was 16 years old at this time, his co-ruler Peter I was only ten. Although Ivan was considered the "senior Tsar", actual power was wielded by his elder (and full) sister, Sophia Alekseyevna, who was named regent. It was she who ruled Russia for the next seven years.

Although Sophia was always considerate towards Ivan, he neither sought nor received any role in government, and Sophia is never known to have consulted him on any important matter. However, she was anxious that every outward sign of respect and deference be paid to Ivan, which was a subtle way of undermining the influence of Peter's faction in court. Thus, every wish or opinion expressed by Ivan deferred to, and his general prestige in court remained intact during the years of Sophia's regency. As Peter the Great grew up, he and his faction, led by his mother's Naryshkin family, contended with Regent Sophia for influence and power. Indeed, Sophia is even blamed for the murders of Peter's mother Natalia Naryshkina and her immediate family. Due to this and other situations, tension arose between the two groups of Tsar Alexis's children (born to his two wives).

By 1689, power was slipping from Sophia's hands; Peter (aged 17) was intent upon declaring his majority and demanding power. To pre-empt this, Sophia attempted to raise a riot in the city, spreading the rumour that the Naryshkins had destroyed Ivan's crown and were poised to set his room on fire. This was untrue, and Ivan may not have been taken into confidence by his sister and tutored about what he should say or do. A simpleton, he may not have understood the implications of not supporting her. When the riots began, Ivan's tutor, Prince Prozorovsky, persuaded him to publicly declare his faith in his brother Peter and make it known that he was unharmed and in no danger for life or liberty. Ivan did this, and also supported Peter's contention that the time had come for terminating the regency. Peter was declared to be of age and Sophia's regency was terminated. Ivan being both incapable and disinterested, Peter came into his own and functioned as though he were the sole Tsar. The eventual result was that over time, the various outward signs of deference and power which Ivan had enjoyed during the regency slowly withered away, and he became a non-entity in the Russian court. For the last decade of his life, Ivan was completely overshadowed by the more energetic Peter I. He spent his days with his wife, Praskovia Saltykova, caring about little but "fasting and praying day and night".

Marriage and issue[edit]

In late 1683 or early 1684, Ivan married Praskovia Saltykova, daughter of Fyodor Petrovich Saltykov, a minor nobleman, by his wife whose name is uncertain - it was either Yekaterina Fyodorovna or Anna Mikhailovna Tatishcheva. Ivan's marriage was arranged in the traditional style of Russian rulers: he selected a bride from a parade of potential candidates. Praskovia Saltykova, who came from a rather obscure family, had been raised in a middle-class household and adhered to conventional values and moral standards. She bonded strongly with her gentle and simple husband, and proved to be an exemplary wife to a mentally challenged man. She became the mainstay of his life and earned the lifelong respect of her powerful brother-in-law, Peter the great, who even entrusted the care and education of his own two daughters to her. Ivan's purported debility did not prevent him from producing robust offspring, and Praskovia bore him five daughters, three of who lived to adulthood. Their children were:

One of Ivan's daughters, Anna Ivanovna, would ascend the throne in 1730 and rule for a decade as Empress Anna of Russia. However, Ivan's bloodline was extinguished in a tragic manner. His only grandchild to survive to adulthood was Anna Leopoldovna, daughter of Ekaterina Ivanovna. In 1741, after a palace coup, Anna Leopoldovna and her husband, Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick, were imprisoned in a remote location by Peter the Great's daughter Empress Elizabeth. Both of them died in prison many years later, and except for their eldest son (the tragic Tsar Ivan VI), all of their children were born in prison. Ivan VI was killed by his guards, and by the time the other children were released in 1780, they had spent nearly four decades in seclusion, with no company except each other and the guards. Stunted in mind by this circumstance, none of them married or bore children, and thus Ivan's bloodline ended with the death of Catherine Antonovna of Brunswick in 1807.

Death and succession[edit]

At the age of 27, Ivan was described by foreign ambassadors as senile, paralytic and almost blind. He died two years later, on 8 February 1696, and was interred in the Archangel Cathedral. It is fortuitous that Ivan produced several daughters but no sons. Therefore, there was no confusion regarding the succession upon his death. His co-ruler (his half brother Peter the Great) was left to become supreme ruler and Tsar of all of Russia. The struggle for power within the family had finally ended, and Peter was left to bring Russia into a new age of westernization.[2]

In 1730, more than 30 years after Ivan's death, and after the extinction of the Romanov dynasty, his second surviving daughter Anna, Duchess of Courland was invited to the throne of Russia by the country's privy council. She ruled for more than 10 years, and was succeeded by Ivan's infant great-grandson Ivan VI, but a palace coup engineered in 1741 by Ivan's niece Elizabeth resulted in the throne passing finally to the progeny of Peter the Great.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Biography of Tsar Ivan V the Ignorant of Russia (1666-1696), half-brother of Peter the Great
  2. ^ Thompson, John. Russia and the Soviet Union: An Historical Introduction from the Kievan State to the Present. New Haven, CT; London: Westview Press, 2008 (paperback, ISBN 0-8133-4395-X).

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Feodor III
Tsar of Russia
with Peter I
1682–1696
Succeeded by
Peter I