From Steve Hayes@21:1/5 to All on Wed Dec 1 14:18:30 2021
XPost: soc.history, alt.history
In fact, there even was a third person pulling the strings behind the
At first sight, it is difficult to picture two people reining
17th-century Russia, with its long autocratic history, simultaneously
– without stabbing each other’s backs. But, it was a real case between
1682 – 1696, when two royal brothers, Ivan and Peter, sat on Russia’s throne together and maintained good relations.
In 1683, a Sweden mission visited Moscow and paid a visit to both
tsars. Engelbert Kämpfer, a German traveler who was accompanying the
Swedes as the ambassador’s secretary, recalled the meeting as follows:
“The two tsars were sitting in the Audience Chamber, on two silver
chairs, under icons, both dressed in royal clothes shining with gems.
The older brother barely moved, with his eyes on the floor, looking at
no one. The younger faced everybody openly… and he was speaking
The younger brother was 11-year-old Peter I (Peter the Great, 1672 –
1725), who, through enormous efforts, would turn Russia into a
European empire. The older brother, 16-year-old Ivan V (1666 – 1696)
left no palpable trace and now is forgotten. But how did the two get
to the throne in the first place?
Father to both Ivan and Peter, Alexei Mikhailovich (1629 – 1676) ruled
Russia for more than 30 years. The tsar had two marriages: first with
Maria Miloslavskaya, who gave birth to 13 children, and then, after
Maria’s death, with Natalya Naryshkina (3 children). Both the
Miloslavskis and the Naryshkins were influential noble houses eager to
put their offspring on the throne.
In 1682, after the death of Alexey and Maria’s older son Fyodor III,
who had reigned since 1676, the time came to decide who would next sit
on Russia’s throne: Maria’s son Ivan (15-year-old) – next in line, but constantly ill and indifferent, or Natalya’s son Peter (10-year-old) – active and ambitious but very young.
At first, it seemed as though the Naryshkins had got their way with
making Peter the tsar – his cause looked stronger. As 19th century
historian Sergey Soloviev wrote, “Supporting the untalented, fragile
Ivan meant immersing the country into chaos.” On April 27, 1682,
Patriarch Joakim, the head of Russian Orthodox Church, declared Peter
Nevertheless, the struggle was not over: while Ivan couldn’t care less
about the throne, his 25-year-old sister Sofia, who informally led the
group of Miloslavskis’ supporters, struck back. “Sofia couldn’t stand
the idea of her mother-in-law, whom she hated, [indirectly] becoming
the ruler,” Soloviev explained.
Bloodshed in the Kremlin
Streltsy Uprising of 1682. Natalia Naryshkina shows Ivan V to the
Streltsy in order to prove that he is alive and well, while Patriarch
Joachim of Moscow attempts to calm the crowd.
Sofia and her supporters outplayed the Naryshkins, provoking an
uprising of Streltsy regiments in Moscow. The Streltsy, an influential
group of elite infantry, felt unsafe as being stripped of their
privileges by the tsars and exploited by their commanders throughout
the 17th century, so this audience was easy to ignite. “The Streltsy
didn’t understand politics, but they believed that interfering into
state affairs was their duty in case the country was leaving the
Orthodox, righteous way,” Robert K. Massie, a British historian, wrote
in his book Peter the Great: His Life and World.
On May 15, the Streltsy crowded the Kremlin, raged by the rumors of
Ivan being killed by the Naryshkins (most likely spread by Sofia’s supporters). And though Ivan appeared before them, the Streltsy
carried out a four-day massacre, brutally murdering two of Natalya’s brothers, their advisor Artamon Matveev and many other Boyars
(noblemen) loyal to the Naryshkins. Finally, the well-armed crowd
imposed their will on the royal family: Peter would remain tsar, but
only together with Ivan.
How did it work?
On May 25, just days after the Streltsy covered the Kremlin with
blood, the official coronation of both Ivan V and Peter I took place.
“That strange, hastily arranged ceremony had no analogues – not only
in Russia but in any European monarchy,” Robert K. Massie notes.
They sat on a special two-seat throne and both were crowned with a
Monomakh’s Cap, the ancient crown of Russia’s tsars, though after the coronation, Peter, as the younger brother, had to wear the specially
made duplicate. Behind the throne, there was a special place for the
young tsars’ tutor, who could give them advice on what to do and what
to say during the coronation.
Four days later, it was officially announced by the Boyar Duma,
pressured by the Streltsy, that Sofia would be a regent – and for the
next seven years, it was her and her close circle who really ruled
Russia. As for Ivan and Peter, they were “ceremonial” rulers, whose
duty was to receive delegations, attend prayers and official fests and
The end of the tandem
In addition, during 1682-1689, Peter spent most of his time outside
Moscow, in the Preobrazhenskoe village, along with his mother. The
younger tsar, who had witnessed members of his family and their
supporters being slaughtered in the Kremlin, had only bitter feelings
for the royal court.
“Gory, dreadful scenes before his eyes, excruciating deaths of his
family, his mother put in despair, the power being taken from them…”
Sergey Soloviev enlists the ghosts of the past, which impacted Peter’s childhood and, most likely, turned him into a ruthless leader. By
1689, 17-year-old Peter would prevail and put his half sister Sofia
into a monastery.
As for Ivan, the older brother never showed any interest in state
affairs. With his poor health, many historians considered him mentally challenged, though it could have been just rumors. In any case, Peter
always treated Ivan with respect – at least officially. After
overthrowing Sofia, he wrote to Ivan: “Now, Sire, my brother, it is
time for us to reign by ourselves… and I am ready to respect you like
Ivan never spoke against Peter and formally they continued to rule
Russia together, though Ivan was hardly noticeable in politics,
overshadowed by his super-active brother. Ivan’s death in 1696, just
as quiet as his life was, put an end to the strange period of two
tsars reigning Russia simultaneously – and such a situation never
If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always
provide an active hyperlink to the original material.
Russian history romanov dynasty Russian X-Files