Vasilisa Melentyeva

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Vasilisa Melentyeva
Vasilisa Melentieva.jpeg
Portrait by Nikolai Nevrev in 1886
Tenure 1579
Died 1579
Spouse Ivan IV of Russia
Dynasty Rurik
Religion Eastern 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 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, he discovered her a few months after their marriage 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 no evidence of her existence in the medieval sources except two minor mentions: the first, cited by Karamzin, simply listed her name "as concubine" with Ivan's other spouses. The more extensive second mention (see "dark legend" above), is believed to be the work of Alexander Sulakadzev, a notorious forger of the early 19th century.[1][5]

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


  • 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