Marfa Sobakina

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Marfa Sobakina
Marfa Sobakina.JPG
Forensic facial reconstruction
Tsaritsa of All Russia
Tenure 28 October 1571 – 13 November 1571
Born 1552
Died 13 November 1571 (aged 18–19)
Burial Ascension Convent, Kolomenskoye
Archangel Cathedral, Kremlin (1929)
Spouse Ivan IV of Russia
Full name
Marfa Vasilevna Sobakina
Dynasty Rurik
Father Vasiliy Sobakin
Religion Eastern Orthodox

Marfa Vasilevna Sobakina (Марфа Васильевна Собакина; 1552–1571), was Tsaritsa of the Tsardom of Russia and was the third spouse of Ivan the Terrible.


The daughter of a Novgorod based merchant Vasiliy Sobakin, Marfa was selected by Ivan among twelve marriage finalists. A few days after her selection, Marfa began to succumb to a mysterious ailment. It was rumoured that she was unintentionally poisoned by her mother, who gave her a potion supposedly meant to increase her fertility. Despite rapidly losing weight and barely standing, Marfa was nonetheless married to Ivan on 28 October 1571 in Aleksandrovska Sloboda. Marfa died a few days later.

Her death increased her husband's paranoia, because she died in what was meant to be an impregnable fortress filled with loyal subjects. Ivan, remembering the death of his first wife, immediately suspected poison and put to death many of his subjects, including Mikail Temrjuk (brother to the Tzar's previous wife) who was impaled.


The story of Marfa's selection and death is the base of the historical verse drama The Tsar's Bride by Lev Mei. The opera by the same name by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov is repertory opera in Russia.


  • Troyat, Henri Ivan le Terrible. Flammarion, Paris, 1982
  • de Madariaga, Isabel Ivan the Terrible. Giulio Einaudi editore, 2005
Russian royalty
Title last held by
Maria Temryukovna
Tsaritsa of All Russia
Title next held by
Anna Koltovskaya