Vasilisa Melentyeva

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Vasilisa Melentyeva
Vasilisa Melentieva.jpeg
Portrait by Nikolai Nevrev in 1886
SpouseIvan the Terrible
ReligionEastern Orthodox

Vasilisa Melentyeva (Russian: Васили́са Меле́нтьева) (died 1579) was the legendary sixth wife of Ivan the Terrible. The marriage (not authorized by the Church) may have been celebrated in 1575 or she was simply a concubine. Modern scholars now tend to consider her to be a 19th-century fraud.[1][2][3]


According to the legend, before her marriage to Ivan, Vasilisa is on record to have been a widow of a dyak, Melentiy Ivanov, serving in the Livonian War. Though the Tsar considered her beautiful and sweet natured, a few months after their marriage, he discovered her having an affair with a prince named Devletev. Ivan forced Vasilisa to watch her lover be impaled, and as further punishment, confined her to life in a cloister.[2]

Of all the eight wives of Ivan the Terrible, only Maria Dolgorukaya (who is also considered a 19th-century fraud) and Vasilisa Melentyeva do not have graves or any mentions in official court documents.[1][4]

There is apparently no evidence of her existence in the early modern sources except two minor mentions: the first, cited by Nikolay Karamzin, simply listed her name "as concubine" with Ivan's other spouses. The more extensive second mention, is believed to be the work of Alexander Sulakadzev, a notorious forger of the early 19th century.[1][5]

However it is claimed that researchers have more recently found documents confirming her special relationship with the tsar.[6]

Alexander Ostrovsky wrote a play about her in 1867: "Василиса Мелентьева".


  1. ^ a b c Сперанский М. Н. Русские подделки рукописей в начале XIX в. — ПИ, 1956, т. V, с. 100
  2. ^ a b Йена, Детлеф. Русские царицы (1547—1918). М., 2008. С. 43
  3. ^ Скрынников Р. Г. Иван Грозный. М., 2007
  4. ^ Сергей Нечаев. Иван Грозный. Жены и наложницы "Синей Бороды"
  5. ^ Зимин А. А. В канун грозных потрясений: Предпосылки первой Крестьянской войны в России. М., 1986
  6. ^ Йена, Детлеф (2008). Русские царицы (1547—1918). Moscow, p. 43


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